Monday, January 27, 2014

1/27/14 First Week

Ahhhhhh! I am so happy to be here! I cannot express to you how happy and grateful and blessed I feel to be serving here in Santa Rosa California Mission!
This particular mission is amazing for a lot of reasons. We are an obedient mission which means they emphasize obedience a lot and that is why we are the first mission to be a mini ipad mission! I can't believe I lived my life without an Ipad before hahahha I am totally getting one when I get home.
So it is kind of super weird because we are so immersed in technology. We use our Ipads for everything! And check facebook every day. And we have a cell phone. We are constantly in contact with the other missionaries through calls and texts and I text the mission president like every day too! hahaha weird huh? And we have super nice cars! Oh I love it. But they really emphasize that all these things are tools, not toys and we received them because we were obedient, and that they can be taken away too if we abuse them.
Anyway. So blessed. Super awesome. So there are 8 of us in our branch and we get fed EVERY night! The latinos are amazing, they think it is an honor to get to feed so many missionaries! I feel bad cuz they usually don't even have room at their table to eat with us! haha anyway, I love the elders in our ward. At church we had a couple investigators come and Elder Wright and Elder Perez translated for the only English speakers. Cool huh? I love our district. they are super cool. There is a lot of English and Spanish cross over. In our district Hermana Bryant and I are the only Spanish speakers. I think they divide up the Spanish kids in different districts on purpose. Elder Stuart and Elder Waite ate dinner with us one night (theyre in our district and they are English speaking and their people cancelled on them) so hermano Gulvan fed 10 misisonaries! count your blessings mom, at least you only have to feed two! hahaha
So anyway it was THE CUTEST thing ever cuz 4 year old Andres and Elder Stuart were best friends and sharing a chair and sharing their food and having this whole conversation using only sound effects and gestures, haha they didn't speak the same language!
Ohhh I love the latino people so much!!!!
Yes Packer was surprised to see me! Gave me a hug!  He  just got his appendix out.
I AM SO HAPPY ELDER DUNLAP IS IN MY BRANCH! it was super nice to not feel like the odd man out at dinner the first few nights, but now we are all friends with everybody in our branch. Plus he is super funny and like my best friend so I am glad he is here haha
Our song was amazing. We tried out to do it at the devotional and they wouldn't let us and we performed it in sacrament my last week at the CCM and it made everybody cry!!! it was so dang good! Ill try to send it to you!
Oh  my gosh just reading about zachs video thing I was crying I was laughing so hard. So proud.
So for my bday or something feel free to send me any CDs for driving in the car. Hermana Bryant has some so were ok for now. We can listen to all things Motab except the show tunes CD hahah
Havent seen a church bookstore yet. Yes we are sending our emails from the mission office.
We are scheduled to meet up with Grasiela again tonight. There are so many missionaries in one branch because our branch covers the area of the whole stake. So we cover like 4 wards worth of neighborhoods and stuff haha
Yes it is Spanish speaking so they are like all latinos. The branch president is a white guy. He has a really thick Idaho accent though hahah Yeah the elders show off for us. Its annoying sometimes. Sometimes its not so bad. Some elders are more like brothers so they don't show off. All the Elders show off for Hermana Bryant though ;) hahha they love her. I am not allowed to email other missionaries in my mission :( So I have no idea how my other CCM friends are doing,. But I text Elder Dunlap daily hahahha im planning to email my other CCM friends that are not in my mission though.
Anyway, This week has been AMAZING! I am so thrilled to be here in Santa Rosa. I love my area and all the missionaries I am working with in my branch and in my district. Oh I feel so blessed. I cannot express how excited I am to be here. Our branch is full of wonderful people with great testimonies! Our investigators are wonderful too! I love the Hispanic people!!! Oh I love it I love it I love it! I am striving to be exactly obedient and figure everything out. I absolutely ADORE Hermana Bryant! She is amazing! She is so loving and encouraging, exactly what I needed in a trainer! I love her so much! She is being such a great example and teaching me so much! I am working really hard to be the best missionary I can.
So I love it. Don't worry about it. It is so much more fun being in the real world hahaha
So we are working on this Musical Fireside for our stake and it is going to be AMAZING! Hermana Bryant is in charge so I probably have to sing something haha but that's ok it is so good. These two hermanas (Hermana Finley and Hermana Burgess) wrote a song and sang it for us last night it was AMAZING!!
I printed off the PFD form ill try to send it to you today! We are kind of almost out of miles for the month, so if not today for sure next week!
Also I should tell you about the people we have been teaching.
Bonnie. Bonnie is who we call an "Eterna-gator" takes lessons, doing good, wants to get baptized, sets a date, then right before for some reason she always quits. Months later new missionaries try her out, and she does good and then quits. Well. This time we didn't even have an appointment, but the spirit prompted us to check in on her. We went to her house and she invited us in. She told us she just got a new job so she can go to church on Sundays and she just got offered a new apartment so she can move out and not live with her boyfriend anymore!!! YAY! how cool is that? Everything is falling into place. And she wants to get baptized on February 22nd!! Ahhhhh! We were so pumped! So she is really excited about that. that was definitely our highlight for the week.
 Hector is a guy we met on the street and he wants to come to our church and get baptized and all we said was "we are servants of the lord Jesus Christ" there are so many people here that have been so well prepared to receive the gospel, I love it. Oh man. I am so blessed and excited to be here.
Im glad to hear things are good at home! Im still trying to figure out how to work all the technology and how is best to send you letters and things.
Greenie Dinner!

Lauren and Packer! Same mission!


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Greenie in the Mission field! First couple days! 1/23/14

Flights went good. Made it safe. First night here we just met our trainers had orientation and a big dinner with all the new missionaries (5 of us from CCM, and 7 from Provo) and got to meet all our potential trainers. That night we spent the night in a hotel. Yesterday we had more orientation and the big reveal of our trainers! My trainers name is Hermana Bryant! I love her! She is so nice and encouraging and adorable! We almost knew each other at BYU. Im pretty sure I checked her apartment as an RA. She lived in 18 and I live in 17 haha. So in our branch right now there are 6 Elders and then the 2 of us. 8 MISSIONARIES! in one branch! I am currently serving here in Santa Rosa right by the mission home. And GUESS WHAT! Elder Dunlap got assigned to serve in the same branch as me!!!! We were so excited. Elder Despain is in Rount Park (something like that) 30 minutes away. Hermana Hunt is in Lay Valley (20 minutes) Elder Reay is in somewhere else... 40 minutes away. So ill probably see them at transfers.
Also, yesterday was transfer day, so all the missionaries in the whole mission came to the mission home for their new assignments. AND I SAW PACKER! Took a pic with him! Ill send it to you on Pday (Monday) when I have more time.
Sorry again no one called you or anything...
Oh. My. Gosh. I had 5 packages hahahahaha everyone was teasing me. I felt so loved! I love it all! Ive used the wallet, the yoga pants, the sheets, the comforter and Im wearing the skirt today! I love it all! Thank you thank you thank you so much.
So yesterday Hermana Bryant and I went shopping got me unpacked then went to our greenie dinner at a members house. She spoke english which was good. Her name is Suzanna. Elder Albertson and Elder Dunlap met us there, FOR OUR GREENIE DINNER! All the food was green (pasta, salad, squirt) and they made us wear bibs and drink out of sippie cups the whole time. Oh my gosh I was crying I was laughing so hard. So glad he is in my branch so we get to do all this stuff together hahahahaha
Then Suzanna prayed that we would have success, and we had "power hour" which is where we go teach for an hour and it usually turns out really good I guess. So off we went. Presidente Alba challenged all of us greenies to challenge someone to be baptized this week and when we did to text him and then he sends out a group text to the whole mission to hear about it. So Last night we went to Gresielas house, a lady we have never taught before or anything,. She is SO nice and her sister and her daughter and her daughters boyfriend all prayed with us and we taught them a lesson. And I invited Gresiela to be baptized... AND SHE SAID YES! I was the first one to text Presidente Alba so he texted everybody else and then Elder Albertson called us and said Elder Dunlap just invited a whole family to be baptized and they said YES! oh man. It was super excited. Such a great experience! I am so sos ososososososooss SUPER excited to be here in Santa Rosa the most amazing mission ever. I have an awesome companion and awesome branch. Its all fabulous! K off to eat lunch, then teach a bunch of lessons and then we have dinner at a members house tonight. (All 8 of us!) 
Ill email you more and send you pics on Monday.
I love you!
Love Hermana Hardy
P.S. There is like 250 missionaries in the mission. So pretty much everybody knows everybody. English and spanish cross over a lot. 30% of the missionaries are Hermanas. And 30% of the missionaries are spanish. So the spanish missionaries all know each other. Packer just got "banished" (send up north to the oregon border, like Eureka area) so I wont see him for a while. But definitely later in my mission.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Jan 8, 2014

So today obviously was our Pday and this morning we got to go to the Mexico City Temple visitor Center. It was way cool! And so beautiful!
We really liked it. Unfortunately the store is closed :( so we couldn't buy any cool scripture cases or anything! 
This week was a really good week! I think I am finally getting the hang of this missionary thing. 2 weeks from today I will be IN CALIFORNIA! so pumped. I am really enjoying my time at the CCM though. I'm pretty sure I'm gonna cry when I leave. Mostly because our teachers and district are so awesome. Its ok though, we have already planned a giant reunion party in Utah in 2 years haha
I leave the CCM at 3 am on January 21st. Ill send you my flight schedule next week cuz I want to be able to call you during my layover!
Glad to hear about everything at home. Sounds awesome!
Yes I got everything. Now I just have to figure out how to print it haha thank you.
They gave us water bottles with filters and we only drink out of bottled water fountains if that makes sense.
The first few weeks we were here were off because of Christmas and New years. So we were the "new kids" for like 3 weeks haha but now we have a steady flow of new kids every single week. On Christmas day we had like 180 missionaries here total. We are getting new missionaries every week until we hit max capacity of 900. So around Christmas when new kids came in we totally new everybody so we could spot them really easily. Now it is trickier. Yes we interact with new people. I LOVE making friends with all the new kids. A lot of our Volleyball friends have only been here one or two weeks haha Today we got 120 new American missionaries and yesterday we got 120 Latino missionaries.
Yes we miss google. A lot. A lot of conversations would be ended really quickly if we could just google it. hahaha I used to constantly check my pocket to make sure my phone didn't fall out but that was it haha I wear my watch and my CTR ring everyday!
I think they study the same amount of time, but they spend less time studying spanish and more time studying how to teach. If we were english speaking I would be completely confident going on a mission 2 weeks ago. I understand now why they shortened the time in the MTC. They really don't need it hhaha The Latino missionaries are only here 2 weeks. We had a friend from the Dominic Republic that was super nice, but he talked so fast we couldn't understand him hahaha
. We have some really hard days. But as soon as I changed my attitude and focused on the good things it made it a lot easier. Still are hard days though. My other suggestion for future missionaries is to read Preach My Gospel cover to cover. ESPECIALLY every chapter BUT chapter 3. Chapter 3 is all the lessons and we study those a lot. But the other chapters teach you how to be a better missionary, how to ask questions, how to teach. Its great. We don't spend much time studying those chapters though.
Ok things I wrote down to tell you this week:
(1) We have been studying a lot about how to keep the Sabbath day holy. I am rereading the Old Testament (new years resolution) in Exodus 20:10 it says none shall labor. they "nor thy Cattle" I guess I never noticed that before. Totally applies to us. But I know it is unrealistic that NO ONE work on a farm. So maybe someday haha
(2) Things to buy in Cali> a brown skirt. yoga pants (super comfy i wore my rommates they were awesome) another pair of sweat pants *for pday when i wash all my clothes) and tshirts! 
Also tell Lance to wash his towels before he gets here. Ours shed blue fuzzies on EVERYTHING. hopefully in America it wont be that bad
Anyway, Thats all this week.
Hey I love you! And miss you all! Hope everything is going well!
One more Pday here! Crazy!~We are all really excited to go though.
Ill email you my flight schedule next week!
Love you!
Talk to you next Wednesday!
Hermana Hardy
Playing Volleyball on PDay at the MTC. Lauren in the green shirt.

Riding in a Mercedes bus on the way to the Mexico City Temple Visitors Center.

The whole district at the Mexico City Temple Visitors Center.

At the Visitors Center
A stray cat, they named Ed. Brought it to class to prank the teacher. I asked her how guilty she was in this prank, since she is holding the cat. She said maybe a little, but really she was holding the cat because she is the only one that hasn't been scratched by it.

12/18/13 First Week and Christmas Day

Ok, I only have an hour so hopefully I get to answer all your questions! Ill type fast.
First of all, thank you for so many emails! I feel so loved!
Ok let me start at the beginning.
First night here we land in Mexico, drivers are scary here! And make it to the CCM (Say Say Emmay) or MTC. In Phoenix I met up with 25 missionaries leaving from the Provo MTC to serve in Mexico and 15 hermanas and elders going to the CCM. So all 15 of us made it to the CCM in the afternoon and had plenty of time to unpack and everything. None of my roommates made it til later. I got to the CCM at like 3pm
Hermana (Kristy) Beckett (Im gonna use first names so I can facebook find them when I get home!) got here aroudn 5pm. Then my Companion Hermana (Christie) Hunt got here at like 11pm! Then Hermana Becketts companion Hermana (Laci Anne) Covington got here at 3 am the next morning!!
So let me tell you about each of them. All four of us share a room, but in our Casa there are 4 rooms with 4 girls each. Hermana Hunt is my companion. She is 19 from St. George Utah. She went to a year at Dixie College before coming here. She is going to California Santa Rosa! So we will be in the same mission! Hermana Covington is also from St. George Utah. Hermana Beckett is from Houston Texas. Both of them are going to Arcadia California! So thats cool. Hermana Covington and Hermana Hunt live in Utah and Hermana Beckett is going to UVU so we are all gonna meet up after our missions!  And they all want to come to Alaska! of course. theyre so funny. They introduce me to people just to hear their reactions haha
Then day two we went to class. Our teachers name is Hermano Montes. He is the best! He is so funny and spiritual! And super thoughtful! He is married and his wife is pregnant, he is a recently returned missionary!
Then the rest of our class (or our district) is 6 elders. so there are 10 of us all together. We spend a lot of time together. In our district is Elder (District Leader) (I think Shawn) Despain from Heber Utah. He is allergic to wheat so he pretty much cant eat anything here. and his companion is Elder (Mori) Dunlap. He is from a farm town in Idaho, he is so funny. He sings and dances when he thinks no one is looking. He graduated high school at 16 so he already did a year at BYU. . Elder Despain is like 5.5 and elder Dunlap is 5.4 so they are both super short but they work so hard and are super spiritual and fun to be around. And they are both going to Santa Rosa California.
Elder (Taylor) Reay is super quiet, but super super sweet and humble. Hermana Covington was feeling homesick so he offered to give her a blessing. Then he fasted through lunch. It was so sweet. He is also going to Santa Rosa California!
His companion is Elder (William) Bryant. He is from Wyoming. He is the best among us at Spanish. He is going to Chicago.
Then Elder Joens and Elder Goff. They are both really nice, we just dont see them a lot. Elder Joens is going to St Geoge utah and Elder Goff is going to Honduras.
All the Elders in our district are 18. Elder Despain turned 19 two days ago. Weird huh?
So anyway. Our class is fun. We have a really fun district, we laugh A LOT. And im not the only one with a loud laugh either. My nick name is Alaska if they cant remember cuz Alaska is so cool. Also almost everyone in my District got their Call in June or July... weird huh?
On a normal day we wake up at 6:30 and eat breakfast at 7. Personal study from 7:30-8:30. Then we have class with our teacher until noon. After noon we usually study for an hour Without our teacher. Then we have gym time from 2-3. Then we study until 5:30 for dinner. Then we either study or teach our investigator or have a devotional or something after dinner. We teach our investigator like 3 days a week. We only have 2 lessons left with him though then we switch to a new investigator. His ¨name¨ is Adán, but he is really another instructor at the CCM. He is super nice, he looks and talks just like Lico haha
Ah! I have so much to tell you!
So Saturday night we had a fun christmas devotional where some locals came and danced. Turns out they were all high school kids that went to the CCM when it was a highschool this spring. Isnt that sweet? They loved it!
About the CCM itself there are 90 acres. Its huge. Its like walking around BYU. Its a lot bigger than I thought.  And about the rules, there are a lot. But there isnt any punishment for disobeying the rules. So you are only as obedient as you want to be or as much as your concience (or your companion) can handle. So the two that skip a lot both dont care too much. There are a lot of rules. They keep the Hermanas and Elders really segregated, like even  more than at Provo, but I think if they did it any less there would be a lot of relationships forming. Like the girls and boys are not allowed to sit at the same table in the mess hall. And we are not allowed to touch boys beyond a handshake or talk to them about non mission related things. And the elders are not allowed to walk us to our Casa. Which is fine. Its just super strict. People break the rules all the time though! There are still a lot of flirtations! (Not in our district, but in others) 
It is really hard. If my class was ranked in order from 1-10 of who is the best at spanish I am probably number 3 or 4. A lot of the kids in my class have never taken spanish before so I had a good head start. Elder Bryant took 4 years but Hermana Beckett and I took 2 and we are next best.
Things to tell Lance:
1) Learn as much spanish as you can. The first day we learned how to pray and how to bear our testimony in spanish and we have just been learning more and more since then. I feel like I double how much spanish I know each day. But it is super hard sometimes. Tell Lance to learn to Sacrament Prayers in spanish, the elders had a hard time with that on sunday. 
2) Bring Hand soap. Yeah I know. We have been using my body wash as hand soap.
3) BRING HANGERS! my closet didnt have any. Another hermana in our casa let me have hers but she only had 5. So yeah. Bring your own.

It has been so rough. I had no idea it was gonna be this hard. On Sunday all of the Hermanas in my room and I were crying our eyes out. We felt like we werent good enough or ready enough and just wanted to go home. Then on Monday night all the elders were crying to us Hermanas about how it is too hard and wanted to go home. And since then we have been a super united district. It is really nice that we have each other to rely on. Everyone has a crazy past. They all have a story.Missionaries are people too.
Today going through the Mexico City Temple was AMAZING! It was three stories tall! We had to ride an escalator! hahaha I brought my temple clothes and everyone said ¨you werent supposed to´ And I was like oh well I did´¨ and then they were all jealous when they were in grannie dresses in the temple hehehe Being in the Celestial room with them was so great. It was like being with my sisters! I got big hugs from all of them! And it was kinda tricky cuz we did some of it spanish haha
We are actually getting really good at it though!

Hopefully I answered all your questions.
Sorry I wasnt super detailed. Ill tell you more next week. I just had so much I wanted to say and not enough time to say it! 
Also... YOU GOT A NEW HORSE??? hahahahahha great. I mean I am excited about him. its just funny timing. Did Kim find him? Sorry I couldnt help with Reindeer shows. Everyone in my district thinks its super cool. Im glad I have my photobook. I keep it on me all the time so I can show people pictures of Reindeer, cuz they never believe me. So Ill make sure to email Wendy thank you!
Mexico is scary too. They dont let us go to stores or anything. Today on the bus coming back from the Temple we did flag a guy down and we bought bananas from him on the bus hahah funny!
Sorry we can only take pictures on Pday. And my camera is dead... of course. So we are gonna try to send pictures this week. If you dont get any. You will for sure next week!
Hey I love you! Have a great week! Sorry to miss out on everything. It is crazy busy here. My best advice for anybody is even if you think you are ready... youre not. Hopefully the field is easier! 
Gotta go!
Love you!
Hermana Hardy
 This is a photo of Lauren's district of 10 at the CCM (MTC) in Mexico City, Mexico. Christmas Day, they are holding their gift exchange items. 5 of the 10 in the district are going to the Santa Rosa, CA mission!
These are the ladies of the district. Hermana Hunt is sitting across from Lauren, they are companions and both going to Santa Rosa, CA.  This is in the Mexico City, MTC dining room. Their Christmas Dinner.
Christmas Day in the MTC.
So on December 23rd, 2013 I was in Mexico city. The weather = 76 degrees outside and our whole district of 10 played volleyball on the sand! Holy cow! I never thought I would see the day... haha
And half the elders played in their suits. Oh man. That was the funnest day so far.
Today we did this huge service project we were making kits of soap and baby blankets and diapers to give to people in Mexico. When they bought all the stuff they thought it would take 6 hours, but they scheduled us for 3 hoping we would get it done.
... It took us 1 hour. We made so many baby kits! And it was so fun and we sang Christmas hymns the whole time! It was so great! 
And thank you so much for the present. The junk food is greatly appreciated. And the journal! I have actually been trying to keep a really thorough journal so you can read them and I can read them when I come home!
I just wanted to tell you that I know the Church is true. Joseph Smith really was a prophet of God. I have a huge testimony of God´s love for each and every one of his children. He loves us so much he sent his Son to die for us! And to be our example! Being here at the CCM on Christmas has been such a blessing. I have really learned a lot about my relationship with my heavenly father. I love him, and he blesses me every day. Surrounding me with wonderful people and teachers and testimonies..
Even if I came home today I would do everything different. 
I love you
I know the church is true
I´ll try to send you pictures tomorrow 
and i guess we can call our families when we fly back to the states so I will try to do that too.
Muchas gracias.
Feliz Navidad
Hermana Hardy


Jan 2, 21014

This week was a great week! Im glad you liked the pictures! 
This week was so fantastic. So many great lessons with soo many great teachers.  New Years Eve dinner was nice. Mostly we eat Mexican food, but on New Years we got Hamburgers and french fries Mexican style haha so its a little different. Cant drink the water either. It feels like home sometimes except totally not.
Its cold today, only 65. Brrr. hahaha Just kidding. Im not even wearing a coat.
This week my teacher Hermana Leslie gave us an awesome lesson on a talk by Jeffry R Holland called ¨Feed my sheep¨ can you send it to me? That would be awesome! Its a really good one. It talks about how this is a life long mission. About how Peter served the Lord and after his death he went back to fishing, This is a life long mission. I cant go back to fishing any more. I am commited to serve the Lord the best I can for the rest of my life. 
Spanish is going good. We focused a lot more on teaching than on learning spanish this week. So I have learned a lot about being more Christlike and studying the scriptures. I have this scripture journal to keep track of good scriptures that I like. I dont want to lose my spanish! I want to do spanish tunnel singing at BYU and volunteer at the MTC haha hopefully that will help. I LOVE singing hymns in spanish. I feel the spirit so strong. The words never translate exactly. They are so much more meaningful in spanish. I love it. Plus you dont have to think about the words you can just say them! I love it.
I really miss being able to google stuff haha it made conversations so much easier hahaa
Hey I love you guys! I hope everyone is doing well! My class was gonna graduate to the Espanosas class in primary. I miss them. Looked at a cute pic of them today haha
Im glad you got to go to the movies! and sledding! that sounds so fun!
We are kind of öld¨ now. Like week 4. So there is only one group of kids that has been here a week longer than us. Everyone else is gone! So Its fun. We are getting A LOT of new kids. I wish I could be here when lance gets here! 
Also lance will want to bring a pocket sized notebook for writing spanish words and scriptures.
And a nice water bottle. Im on my third! I keep breaking them! Whoops.
I have withdrawn some pesos from an ATM but thats it. Next week we get to go to the Temple Visitor center so Im gonna try to buy some souvenirs there. The little Tienda on campus doesnt have much. They give us a card that only works at the Tienda and give us like $10 a week on it. So we can buy mexican junk food :) we really are doing well. Eating well. Learning a lot.
We study SO MUCH.
Today we get a break... it was really nice. The spirit is with us in our studies so I know I am learning more here than I have any other time in my schooling. Its super cool.
Plus I am getting good at writing in my journal! All the days kind of blend together thought porque all we do is study haha
Today we are gonna try to take a bunch of pics of us playing sandpit volley ball to send next week!
On New Years eve the other Hermanas and I made new years resolutions. Im doing pretty good so far!
Im glad everything is going well!
I love and miss you all!
Have a happy new year!
Hermana Hardy