Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Week 5

Well if it isn't "Missionary Monday" yet again! How is everyone doing? I have got to say that this week was one to share about. Too bad I never write in my journal and am going to have a hard time remembering the things which happened. So bear with me as I talk about everything and nothing all at once.

This week I went on 3 different exchanges (when you go with other missionaries), and well in one of them it was really overwhelming because I didn't know the area or the investigators and Hermana Carlson wanted to give this sister (Sister Halestone, from Cedar City, only person we know in common is Sister Fife) a chance to take over the area. Good thing this was an English speaking area, because I needed that little boost of confidence when I basically took over her area. I also went to Hermana Lister and Hermana Wilsbach's area with our sister training leader, Hermana Wilsbach. (I have a story about her that I will share later), and I became really discouraged because in these 2 days that I was in other areas our area had a lot of growth and success. So I did what I seem to do every 6 weeks and had a pity party and blamed our lack of success on me and my inability to teach and speak the language. So I was just sobbing, yada yada, and so I went to get in the shower.  I came back and Hermana Carlson had written me all these nice notes on post-its that covered my bed, and they all said the nicest things about me and why she loves to have me as a companion. This was SO SO SO helpful. She also told me that I'm learning a lot faster than other sisters she's trained and that Satan knows that, so he's trying to bring me down because he knows how many people I will affect if I continue on the right path. So that was conforting. Really it was. 

But then the next day, we had another exchange and Hermana Elmer came here with me. She was great. I loved having her here.  She just had a really fun personality, and I really liked her.  Also she let me take the lead in the lessons (she's the only other spanish speaker in Hermana Carlson's group of sisters so she thought it would be best to do their exchange first), and so I took the lead, and she just helped where needed. She also told me (which I've never heard before, apparently I'm the only one) that one of the prophets made a promise that when you finish the Book of Mormon in your language you will be fluent in the language. Guess who's made it a goal to finish the Book of Mormon in Spanish by January 1? This girl. Yep, it's crazy, 4 chapters a day and I actually have to read a few of them in my "spare time," so during all my meals basically, but I want to learn the language, and I want to be fluent in the language that I am preaching in, so I'll do it. I'm also telling you all so you can reward me when I do it or send me rotten tomatoes in the mail when I don't. But where progress is recorded, progress is made, so some encouragement would be sweet. :) I would also encourage you guys to try and finish it by the end of the year too. From the beginning or from wherever you are, I know that you will feel the presence of the Lord in your life when you do so. Also, if I can do it in spanish, you can do it in your native tongue, in your spare time, on your smart phones, yada yada. But seriously. I want to challenge you. I can testify that the Book of Mormon changes lives. It has helped me so much in mine and I know if you read it with the intent to learn, you will, and you will feel our Heavenly Father's love for you so much more. 

Before I forget I'll tell you the Hermana Wilzbach story. As sister training leader for our area, she's supposed to check up on the sisters and find ways to help them in whatever way possible. Well, she had been praying about how to help me with my problems and recieved an answer in a dream. She had a dream that I was this really successful missionary and that I had all these people surrounded around me in white, and I was teaching a lot of people, baptized a lot of people and had just changed the lives of many, and so that was so encouraging to hear. 

I have experienced miracles though.  Many. Ramon and his family have been in the process of moving. They don't have a phone or a car, and so we lost touch with them when they forgot that they had an appointment with us. So we were just riding our bikes around the area where they said they were moving for maybe 45 minutes or so, and no such luck but we just had faith we would find them. Yesterday after being held up by random things on our way home from church we got cut off and looked out the window to see Ramon and his wife on the sidewalk. It was a miracle because there was no way that was coincidence.  We should have been on that street 10 minutes earlier, and all these little things that added up. I know it was God blessing us for our faith and our diligence the day before. 

Another miracle came when we were trying a referral who we've had for probably more time than I've been here. No one has been able to come in contact with him, but last night we finally met him! He wasn't really interested in our message, but after we bore testimony and asked him if we could pray with him. He said yes and then we prayed, and he asked if we could pray again for his friend, and then he asked where our church was. Success! I know that this church is true, and I know that Heavenly Father has a plan for all of us. I know that we go through hard times, but with faith anything is possible. I want to challenge you to read the scriptures daily, but also I want you to pray as famililies (or as roomates or whatever) to find someone that you can invite to learn from the missionaries. I know that we are all children of God and He wants us all to return to him. I love you all very much and hope all is well. Happy Birthday to Jessica! Keep the faith!

Love always
Hermana Groves
P.S.  Shoutout to Suzie for the package. I loved it and used that fake cockroach on Hermana Carlson :)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Week 4: Breaking up is hard to do...

Hey my loving people! This week, like all the others was quite a week. Where to begin? Well, I'll start with just my studies today so bear with me. Our president has asked us to read in the Bible starting with Matt, Mark, Luke to learn more about Christ, and I'm in Matthew right now. Read Matt. 14 and just think about Christ's love for John the Baptist.  Then think of His love for us.  Also think of how even though Christ was in pain, he went out and served.

So, this week my beloved Hermana Watkins was taken away from me. What the heck?  I was crying like a baby for like 3 days.  Haha.  What happened was, one of the sisters in our district was a Temple Square sister, and they stay for a transfer and a half, and are replaced by other Temple Square sisters, but they didn't replace her with a Spanish speaker.  SO we got a call on Wednesday at 3, telling us that Hermana Watkins had to be all packed up and at the mission office by 5. We were in shock. Especially since she's my "mom" here (they call your trainer your mom and you're supposed to stay with them for your first 12 weeks…) (Hermana Carlson is my great grandma because she trained Hermana Watkins' "mom."  It's very complicated,  haha.) But no. She's with Hermana Shill now. Luckily we're still in the same district and ward, so we see her maybe 2 or 3 times a week.

Hermana Carlson is a sister training leader for another zone,  so she goes on exchanges twice a week. There is a major problem with this that gives me major anxiety. Hermana Carlson's sisters are all English speakers. I have  to take over the area twice a week with sisters who don't speak Spanish.  Don't cry for me; I already cried for myself. Haha. But on Saturday I was lucky enough to make special arrangements for a native Spanish speaker to come with me because the Victoria sisters (who Hermana Carlson went with) wanted to stay together that night because they had an important appointment. So also I drove to El Campo(halfway to Victoria). Driving back with no gps. I drove on the Houston freeway. Freeway. City. I am a new woman.

So me and my 2 day companion Hermana Beltran really bonded. She was from New York and really helped me with my Spanish. Can I just say I not only led, but basically gave 3 lessons on my own this weekend. In Spanish. Yeah hold the applause please. It was still broken Spanish, but my favorite investigator Ramon committed to baptism when I extended the invitation. Holla!!! So this week was a good one for my Spanish I'd say. It's hard though,  because I've really been praying for the love that the Savior has for my investigators and it's hard. I am feeling it, but my heart literally breaks when they don't keep a commitment and things like that. My heart aches, and I never would have thought that to be the situation.

Yesterday at church the Houston temple president and his wife came and Hermana Carlson had to translate on the spot in church. She did great and I was so jealous. Seriously.  One day that will be me!

My cat lady rep lives on. We have a cat that just lives in our complex and one day last week I meowed at it, as a JOKE. BUT, it didn't take it as a joke. It comes to our car when we pull up, waits by our door when we exercise in the morning and even looks through our open windows. What have I done? It's like I can't even where my cat shirt around because I'm afraid it'll give it the wrong idea!

One of our investigators Marichuri finally opened her door (for the first time with me, she had been taught previously).  She's progressing really well, and I'm excited for her.  I've really grown to love her.

Hermana Groves and Hermana Watkins

On the road with Hermana Carlson

Hermana Groves and Hermana Beltran
I would also like to give a shout out to Grandma Glenda and Grandpa Lloyd for the great package with the homemade bread that was eaten within 20 minutes of opening it, and also a shout out to Staci and the Groves side for the cute Halloween notes! The package was torn up and the only remains they had were the notes and one tootsie roll taped to the package. Thanks for all your love and support, I pray for you all! Have a great week and keep the faith! :)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Week 3

Well guys, week 3 has been one to remember. But they all should be, shouldn't they? Well, this past week we had a zone conference and a member of the 70 named Elder Golden came, and although he was more strict to the rules, it was really cool and really spiritual. I was spiritually and intellectually overwhelmed with some of the things he was telling us about. He talked a lot about charity and having the pure love of Christ, as members and as missionaries we often think we need to "convert people to convert them" that is wrong; we are talking about the salvation of souls here. We are there to love them and show them the love of Christ and show them that they can have that feeling with them constantly. It was really great, I loved it. President Ashton talked about the importance of following up and just letting people know that you do care about them, and you are concerned about how they are doing. Now to the experiences, this week we had some spiritual and funny stories. Where to begin? We'll go spiritual. We have a member family in our ward who have been preparing to go through the temple as a family and they have been kind of putting it off, so we were teaching them and the husband just said he didn't feel ready. Hermana Watkins had a prompting to ask him if he wanted a priesthood blessing, and at first he said no, but was lead to yes. Elders Clark and Ramirez came over and gave him a blessing, and his whole countenance changed. I felt the weight lifted off his shoulders, and now they are getting sealed this week. It's amazing how the power of priesthood can have such an impact. My testimony of the priesthood was increased so much by that experience. I also lead a discussion this week in my broken Spanish.  It was incredible feeling worthy to be blessed with the gift of tongues.

This week we had some funny experiences. So first we'll start with… the transvestite story. Really short, but so funny in the moment. We went to Papa Murphy's because we hadn't shopped enough on Monday for groceries, and we were just trying to decide what pizza we wanted to have.  This transvestite comes in and we let him go ahead of us. Some other things were going on, and we ordered, and he came over to chat and said, "Oh, I see you decided what you wanted." Hermana Carlson says, "Oh yeah. Did I hear your name was Jared? I have a friend named Jared, " and he/she looks are her, appalled, and says, "Uh! My name is Jennifer!"  Then awkwardly turns and walks away. Hahaha, she was so embarrassed and we were literally holding back laughter tears at this point, and when we got in the car we busted up. So the next thing that happened... Well prepare.

After dinner I was doing some dishes while I was waiting to go in the bathroom (where Hermana Carlson was), and so Hermana Watkins and I were just joking around having a good time. We both took a drink and apparently she said something hilarious because I was laughing so hard that water came out of my nose and my mouth.  And eventually down my leg. That's right guys, I peed my skirt. And my slip, my garments, and all over the kitchen floor. I could not stop myself.  I was crossing my legs crying so hard but I couldn't hold it in. *It's about to get graphic. On our wood floor there were 2 giant pee puddles. Both of them mine. Oh my lanta,  we still can't stop laughing about it. It took 3 or 4 dish towels to absorb and plus we still had to mop some of it out. Guys, it was one of the worst times I've ever peed my pants. Hahaha, but it was so hilarious. I'm never going to grow up apparently.

That same night( I know, a pretty weird day), I held a cockroach the size of almost the palm of my hand. We found it outside. Hermana Watkins said she would take a picture of me holding it so I picked it up, and IT WASN'T DEAD, so the picture I have is of me squirming holding it. Haha it was gross.

This week I got to wear my raincoat for the first time, and I have driven multiple times. There's this system in the car called tiwi and it's already yelled at me like 30 times for speeding.  Once a speed demon, always a speed demon.  Also the primary program was yesterday. I was dying;  it was hilarious. The primary is the same wherever you go except that in this primary the girls all had red shirts and headbands and the boys had red ties. It was cute, BUT it made me so sad I missed Preston's.  Well, that was my week. I will try to respond to emails/letters better this week. I keep getting more and more every week and I want you guys to know I read them all, but an hour isn't a whole lot of time to respond to a lot of people. I love you and still would like to hear about conference.... Have a great week and keep doing good. The work is true and the church is true. Love you guys!

Hermana Groves

Monday, October 7, 2013

Week 2 in the Field

Hey guys, it's Monday, which means you all get to hear from me. Lucky lucky you! Just kidding, I'll try to make this email worth your while.

This week I have settled in a little bit and have gotten used to the schedule. For the first time in my life I am usually asleep by 10:45 and wake up before the alarm at 6:30, so there's something no one would ever think would happen. We are constantly going; we are supposed to finish our daily planning in a half hour, but for some reason we can never get it to that, and it's more like an hour. When lights are out at 10:30 it limits preparing for bed and journal writing. I have written in my journal twice this whole time I've been here! So hopefully I don't miss out on anything important.

On Tuesday we got to go on "exchanges" aka splits.  Hermana Carlson is a sister training leader so she had to go to a meeting with Hermana Lister's companion (who is Hermana Watkins old comp), so Hermana Watkins, and I got to travel back to her old area (the ghetto) and ride our bikes! The first time in the mission! Not gonna lie, the half hour of exercise we're required to do in the morning is done at the bare minimum by me (shocker I know) so I was a little out of shape... Okay, a lot. But it was fun nonetheless. The members and investigators in that area are a little more loving towards us then the ones in our area. So it was fun and I really enjoyed the people.

Our investigator, Junior (the one who was baptized but didn't show up to get the Holy Ghost) has basically flipped since I first met him. He was able to receive the Holy Ghost on Saturday night but before that I had watched him progress. We explained visually that baptism was the doorway, and he was standing in the doorway, but he needed the gift of the Holy Ghost to get through the door.  When he got through the door he could see a picture of Christ, and we taught him to always strive for The Savior. It was a really good lesson.  Since then I've seen much change in him. He's reading his scriptures and is even memorizing a scripture to help distract him from his old habits and temptations. I can see the light of Christ in him, and I honestly love it.
We also have a new investigator that I just know was prepared for us. We taught her for the 2nd time last night. She is a new mom who is working and going to school. She had a really hard life growing up; her mom had some really harsh drug addictions and things like that. She went between her parents’, grandparents’, and friends’ houses and has experienced cancer and depression, but she is so positive. She knows that God is there because despite all the bad in her life she has seen more miracles. I look at her, and I see so much potential. I am so excited to teach her.
General Conference was great as well! I got to watch 3/4 in English, but unfortunately the one I watched in Spanish was the session when President Monson spoke. So hopefully I'll get an Ensign or something to read it. I loved how they talked so much on member missionary work (nudge nudge) haha so just think about that...

Hermana Carlson meditating (really! not a joke!)

My bitten legs (they're a lot worse than they look in the picture)

How we have to do our laundry

Me, Hermana Watkins, and Hermana Lister getting ready to bike for the first time
My Spanish is going alright, but I'm working on it. I just get really nervous talking to members because they are always correcting me, BUT I'm working on it. I just want you all to know that my testimony was confirmed this weekend. I know that we have a living prophet on the earth today and that he receives revelation for the world and it's problems today. I know that I am serving the Lord in the best way possible. I love you all and hope you have a good week!

Hermana Groves

Saturday, October 5, 2013

New Missionaries at Texas Houston South Mission

Our cutie, Hermana Groves, is in the orange, naturally!

September 30, 2013

Well guys, everyone was right. You never know what to expect from the first week in the mission field. But before I even get in the field I'll give you the happs on before that (sorry for the repeat to the family that got my letter).  After a long morning in the Mexico airport (where no one would even make eye contact with us or help us with the payphone), I got the phone to work and was able to talk to mom for a little while, which was exactly what I needed because I was worrying WAY too much. After arriving in Texas everyone else was calling their parents, I on the other hand, could not because it wasn't accepting my card. While everyone was on the phone and calling their parents I was just sitting around waiting for President Ashton or Sister Ashton to come and was just sitting down. I started (attempting is more like it) talking to this Mexican lady.  She was very sweet, and I started talking to her about religion and actually got her to agree to try and read the Book of Mormon and truly pray about it. Apparently my charm is what talked her into that, so I’m glad I still got somethin' ;) Haha, what can I say, old ladies love me! So I placed a Book of Mormon at the airport and my confidence was pretty high. We met up with the others (the English speakers ick, jk), and there was only one other sister.  She was a visa waiter (who is now in Victoria, lucky.) So that first day we just went to the mission office and familiarized ourselves with it and went to the mission home for dinner and testimony meeting. The real American food (enchiladas, made by someone in the president's ward) was the best thing I had eaten in 6 weeks. Honestly. So after our long day of travel, we sisters went with the married missionaries to stay at their apartment for the night until we got placed with our companions the next day. The Sanders without a doubt remind me of Grandma Pat and Grandpa Ted. They are very loving and I like them.

The next day I was assigned my companions. That's right, companions. I have two. We're a tripanionship. I have Hermana Carlson, who is from Idaho and is about to hit her year mark. She is fluent and is so patient with me,  and then I have Hermana Watkins from Vernal, UT, she reminds me so much of Tara (my cousin for those not in the family), and the way she talks about her family they remind me of Suzie and Shannon and their family. She's also very good at Spanish but her testimony is out of this world. Seriously I am going to learn so much from these girls. I can tell this is going to be a very healthy companionship because we're very open and we do try to work hard with one another, and they are constantly building me and my spirits and hopefully vice versa. So far so good.

We are in the Houston 1 West area which isn’t a bad part of town we're limited to a few apartment complexes though due to the amount of Spanish speakers in our geographical area. We have an investigator who was baptized a few weeks ago and still hasn’t received the Holy Ghost. It’s hard because the church isn’t within walking distance, but we've arranged rides for him, and he just forgets (he has a very strong drug background) so we're really discouraged by that. And we have a few other investigators that I’m getting really excited about. But I want to tell you guys that you have GOT to help the missionaries. We aren’t tracting any more in this area and so we are only teaching by referrals. Member lessons are also a main focus so please let the missionaries in for 5 minutes, or offer to give a less active a ride, have the missionaries over for dinner. If you have the time go out on visits with them. We are all here to do the Lord's work. So I ask you all to please think of me, and the other missionaries you know and help them by helping the missionaries serving in your areas. We're trying our hardest and praying our hardest. Do it for me... pleaassee?

I want you all to know how much I love you and how much you mean to me. Sometimes I feel discouraged but then I think of all of you and think to myself "You are sacrificing your time with them, so why not make it worth the time you are spending. You are with your family forever, go out there and help their families be together forever". I hope you all have a good week and keep doing good out there in the world. Do me a favor, watch conference and tell me about your favorite talk and how it applies to you in your life. I love you guys!!

Love always,

Hermana Groves

The "Tripanionship"

Maddie and her companions, Hermana Carlson and Hermana Watkins

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Week 6: Last Week in the CCM Completed

You know, I thought the last goodbye I would have to say would be to my family and friends. I stand corrected because I just realized that in each area, you find a new "family" and more friends to say goodbye to at the end of 6 weeks and the cycle repeats. Yesterday was an emotional roller coaster. It started with a great relief society meeting and then straight to our district meeting where we had a devotional, which was a testimony meeting. This thing was a sob fest, we were all just crying out eyes out. It was bad, then we continued to sacrament meeting where the closing hymn was "God be with you till we meet again", cool, the crying just continued. We then you know took a million pictures and such and then before you know it, it's 9 30 and Elder Hanks and Elder Hill are getting ready to catch the bus to go to the airport for equador. This was so much harder than I thought it would be, especially since I couldnt hug them, that was oddly hard for me considering Im not a touchy person at all. So we stayed right until the bus drove away. We all had a little more sob going on. We then woke up at 3 to say goodbye to Elder Neal, Elder Spiker, Elder Tyson and Elder Williams as they went to go to the airport for TN and Bolivia. But our goodbye with them was fast, which made me happy because Elder Neal was probably my best Elder friend here and apparently he cried when he read the letter I wrote him (I wrote them all letters as a loving District "sister") so I was glad to not prolong that goodbye. The rest of us leave within the next 16 hours. Elder Abarca and Elder Durrant leave for Equador at 10 tonight and then the remainder of us (Elder Hansen, Elder Mastergeorge, Hermana Lister) leave for the airport at 3 in the morning tomorrow. Were going to be exhausted but I am so eager to get out there and teach.
I dont know if I told you about the lesson a few weeks ago about "leaving the garden of Eden" in order to grow, but thats exactly whats happening to us. Were leaving the garden, yet again, breaking through our comfort zone, and I am terrified. We are supposed to contact while were at the airport and my spanish is just still not there. I know the Lord will bless me though, I just pray for a companion to be patient with me and who has the desire to help me with my spanish. I need that.
I dont know if ill have a P day this week, I am just allowed to email today for the sake of relaying the message that Im leaving tomorrow, so mom or dad expect a 3 in the morning phone call. I wish I had more exciting news to bear but I think that me leaving Mexico is a huge deal! Not a whole lot else has happened since Thursday, but be prepared for a long one next week. I love you guys and pray for you all nightly. Keep the faith and do what is right.
Hermana Groves

The "SUU crew" Elder Spiker, Elder Hanks, Me

The SUU crew plus Elder Hilll wanting to join

Elder Hanks and Elder Hill who just left for Equador

Our friends from the branch

Elder Josh Bolton from Cedar City and his companion (not allowed to take single pictures with the elders)

Our district with Hermana Saucedo, my loving teacher

Hermana Lister and I and Hermana Saucedo

Hermana Saucedo and I

Elder Fisher(friend from SUU) me and his companion

Me with our branch President Sueste and his wife

Me and his wife

District and Hermana Bair

Us with presidente Flores (branch presidency)

Me and Hermano Guttierez another one of our teachers, doesnt speak a lick of english

 and again

Elder Spiker, me and Elder Neal

Elder Mastergeorge, me, and Elder Hansen

Hermana Meanea from Cedar City! Its her first week here

Pictures from Week 5

Last week in the CCM

Hola my favorite people!
How has your week been? Everything you hoped it to be? Great! We just got back from the temple but my week was pretty busy(don't worry, I'm in a better mood this week, sorry for the depressing stuff last week) here´s some good news. On friday I finally got my package. Praise heavens. Haha But seriously, the goldfish made my day and I have yet to open the pretzels because I'm saving them for a rainy day.

Where to begin? This week (on Sunday) was independence day in Mexico so on Saturday we had a ¨Mexican Fiesta¨ which you are probably wondering how we do so when missionaries aren't allowed to associate with the opposite sex, dance, listen to music and eat food outside the comedor. BUT luckily we were fortunate enough to have some dancers come and dance for us. It was pretty cool, I mean it was the first time I had ever seen a traditional Mexican dance and it was the first time I heard a traditional mexican song, also it was the first time we were allowed to be somewhat irreverent. The natives had a field day, they were going wild. Then on Sunday night we were required to stay out passed lights out to watch the president recite something. The only thing I understood was we were supposed to yell "VIVA!!" (live) whenever he said something. Obviously I just followed the crowd on this one. As a side note I played the piano in our zones sacrament meeting this week and I was terrified out of my mind.

My district also sang in the Tuesday night devotional and us personally sounded horrible, BUT the other districts combined with ours were great. The devotional was about the importance of the members and the missionaries working together as one. So guys, help the missionaries. Also this week while teaching one of our investigators I lead the discussion so high five to me because no one else knew what was going on! Haha oh well. You gotta learn somehow!

This is a moment my mom and grandma´s will hopefully be proud of (fingers crossed). One of the cleaning people moved a suitcase of Elder Tyson´s and basically ripped the front pocket (but not really pocket) of it off. He tried taping it so it wouldn't stay. I being the district mother I am (I am literally so sad that I am now defined as the mother) volunteered to try and hand sew it. Well, I did and it looks freaking awesome. So high five to me. Its sturdy enough to last him to Bolivia and hopefully after that. He was really grateful for it but also wanted to try sewing it with a shoelace. He literally stabbed holes in his suitcase and threaded a shoelace through it. I honestly don't know why boys do the things they do. But honestly I felt so accomplished and pretty proud of myself. Obviously it want professional, but it was dang good for a first-ish time.

So remember that one time I told you about the spin the bottle game? Well they gave it a new twist. If you got the sentence you were making up in bad grammar the other end of the bottle got to command you to do something. WELL. I fully regret making Elder Hill go sing in another class because he sook revenge and I had to dance/act like a monkey for a whole minute, in the hallway of our classroom building. They timed it. I actually gained a lot of respect from the elders but none the less the whole building thinks I'm a freak now.

Yesterday in TRC we didn't have any members show up again so we had to teach one another. After Hermana Lister and Elder Mastergeorge had rock paper scissors for five minutes who got to go first Elder Mastergeorge thought it would be cool if we split up companionships. So he taught with Hermana Lister and I taught with Elder Hansen. It was interesting and I'm pretty sure we broke the rules but shhhh no one has to know.

I'm also not sure if I ever told you about Elder Barnes? He was one of the 2 elders I flew here with and the first few weeks we basically became best friends. He lives in the same casa as my elders so he asked one of them to get my email because apparently he has a crush on me. Well he stopped talking to me after that so I was kinda sad. All the missionaries going to Chile left today because the transfers in their mission is all messed up. I wanted to say goodbye to him last night at dinner but I asked some friends I made from my casa (in his district, Hermana Porter and Hermana Muhan) if they thought that was a good idea and they thought so, apparently he wasnt going to go to dinner until they told him I was going to go talk to him, well he was so nervous that he left dinner before I talked to him. His hermanas were all writing the elders who were leaving notes so they told me to just write him a letter to tell him goodbye. I did. I basically told him that it was uncool of him to just avoid me but that I know hes gonna be a good missionary and to write me and stuff. The sisters doorbell ditched the elders and left the notes there last night. Apparently Elder Barnes had a excitement fit when he saw I wrote him a letter, he felt way bad and was hurrying to get his stuff packed so he could come say goodbye before our bus left to the temple. But if he didn't make he left a message with my elders (by the way the WHOLE house my district and his read that note). So we were sitting on the bus to go to the temple and the bus literally starts to pull away and he is right there on the sidewalk. He missed it. Haha he felt so bad I could tell. The elders told me that he was sorry and he was gonna write me and miss me and all this crazy stuff. It made me smile, but I was laughing so hard. I guess its hard being so great. Bahah!

 So yeah, that was my week. Haha I hope your week was good, thanks for writing me! I love you all!
Hermana Groves

Friday, September 13, 2013

Meeting Hermana Suaste

This is a picture from last week when we met with out branch presidents wife, Hermana Suaste, she taught us about femininity and keeping modest in the mission. It was all in spanish but I got the gist of it. I also volunteered to play the piano because none of the other sisters could, Presidente mentioned me being able to play so now I'm afraid I'm playing in sacrament meeting. The Hermanas in the picture we befriended and loved them. Hermana LeBlanc, Hermana Taylor, me, Hermana Suaste, Hermana Blankinshiff, Hermana Phipps, and Hermana Lister. These girls were in our branch and just left. It was really a heartbreaker for us because we have to start at square one again and make friends to sit with at dinner. The Elders have it so easy, they can sit with each other every meal, but lucky for the no opposite gender at the same table we have to start fresh every time our friends leave. We also made friends with their district so it was an emotional day, saying goodbye to them.

Week 4?

Honestly that question mark is there for a reason because I think I have been here for 4 weeks and that this is my 5th. This week was by far the hardest week I have endured in the CCM. I don't want this to be a complaining letter, but it may very well be. So I apologize in advance. 

On Friday I was struck with some sort of stomach flu. I woke up at probably 2 30 and threw up for the first time that day (which continued about....13 or so more times throughout the day) by about 10 I had enough strength to walk over to the clinic and make sure I wasn't dying from some weird mexican disease, I wasn't. I think the doctor doubted my sickness because I walked in just fine, that of course was before I threw up in the office. So he believed me then. He then drove us back to our casa cause he could see that I was obviously not up to walk 3 blocks back. Hermana Lister was then given the okay to go to class when I got to lie in agony for the remainder of the day. There was a point were I was having a hysterical sob fest and at one point I do remember screaming, yes i repeat, screaming "My body is going to kill me. I'm going to kill myself from the inside out." luckily all the girls in my house were in class because that is so embarrassing and pretty melodramatic, but basically I was in a lot of pain and couldn't even keep my spit down, no lie. That night I got up the energy to go to the classroom for the elders to give me a blessing. You know, I may say a lot about these elders but when they need to practice their priesthood authority they are there and they are worthy. I was given a priesthood blessing and it was really good, i quickly returned to bed after the walk back.

For the next few days I was able to go to class/church but I wasnt up to full energy, I was still getting really tired walking to and from places. And more than half of the time just the smell of the cafeteria was making me nauseous. The whole weekend I basically ate rolls and fruit. Holla, it was fine.

I have been feeling really discouaraged as well, I just feel the language isnt coming and my knowledge of the gospel has gone blank. This past 5 days I have honestly thought of just coming home. I'm not coming home. But I've thought about it, a lot. But I'm pretty sure the Lord needs me here. He's made it clear in multiple ways. 

In relief society Hermana Pratt (the CCM presidents wife) based her lesson off of a quote by Gordon B. Hinkley "Never permit yourself to become a weak link in the chain of your generation" and another saying "when you save a girl you save generations. That was a little kick in the pants. Because I am being weak, I am thinking that me leaving or me faking sick to come home wont do anything to anyone. Thats a lie. The choices I make right now will effect me and more importantly it will affect the future children that I will raise. And it is so selfish of me to think it wont touch anyone. Still, deep down I was a little discouraged. So I prayed to know why I'm here and my prayer was answered in a different way than I was expecting. 

Yesterday while we were teaching one of our investegators, York, he asked us why we decided to serve missions and the words just came out of my mouth. I told him that I was given trials in my life and I found comfort, reassurance, and hope in my gospel and relying on my Savior and on my Heavenly Father, I told him how much joy I find in the gospel and living the commandments and I cant help but want to share it with the world, I want others to feel the joy that I feel from knowing what I know about my purpose and why I want to make good choices, because I know what is there for me in the afterworld. 

Also, this morning during my personal study I read in Alma. You should all read Alma 26. I think this is my favorite chapter in the Book of Mormon. But more specifically read Alma 26:12 and Alma 29:9 and tell me what you think of them. I really loved reading them and they made me smile so big. I know that the beginning of my letter was kinda depressing and I'm sorry for that but I don't think that I would have appreciated these scriptures or the lesson if I had not felt that sickness and that sadness. The gospel is true, God is our comforter and through him we find strength, Jesus Christ atoned for our sins so we can return to live with he and our Father in heaven again. 

I am so grateful for the support of such great friends and family back home, every week I open my email to find so much love and support. My district also hates me because I have recieved mail every day this week (not my package from you mom but its in mexico city and I should get it by Monday) but thank you Grandma LeAnn, Alex, Shayla and Staci, every letter I recieved this week contained words I needed to hear. I love you all so much! I hope you have a great week! Sorry If I dont reply to all of your emails, I was running low on time this morning. 

Tell Tara congrats on her call, Mexico is lucky to have her! 

You´re in my prayers. 

Love always,
Hermana Groves

Some Pictures from Week 3

Hermana Groves, Hermana Bair, and Hermana Lister 

New Friendz

Hermana Groves' District with their teacher, Hermana Bair

A more clear picture of the district and Hermana Bair

Week 3

Well if it hasn't been 7 days.Oh the people who are dear to me, this week has been pretty basic? Haha I don't know what else to say except it was pretty average. We've basically been the homeless "family" aka district because we have been moving from available classroom to available classroom due to our broken door and our dwindling patience for the constant wind and mosquitoes. Basically I'm becoming friends with all of the bugs because we hang out together all day every day. The food is actually growing on me. The other day I literally was craving a meal I had here (no not pizza) and guess what, it wasn't food you would necessarily fight for. The food isn't changing, but my tastebuds are.

My spanish is not coming so hot. I'm learning a little, but i think I'm losing more knowledge. My english spelling/words are disappearing! help me. haha Hermana Lister and I made some friends with some sisters in our district and they are hilarious. Hermana Taylor, Hermana Phipps, Hermana LeBlanc and Hermana Blankinstaff(something like that) keep us on our toes at meals and during gym. Weve actually come to love their district more than ours because their elders actually talk to us opposed to ours, who only talk to us when they need a tie breaker (like who is the better athlete or team) so usually I dont get talked to much because my professional sport knowledge is very limited. I was almost shunned from the district for not having a football team (thanks mom and dad ;) Actually scratch that, in every addition of "Late night with Elder Hill" they always ask me for the feminine perspective on things. So at least they think I'm a girl. As far as fun goes, we were learning commands yesterday and Hermana Saucedo had this game for us that was probably the funniest thing ever. It was like a combination of truth or dare/spin the bottle (no kissing but you literally had to spin the bottle) so you spin the bottle and the end with the lid pointing the person gets to give a command (basically a dare) to the person on the other end of the bottle. It was hilarious. They were commanding each other to sing hymns to other districts and dance like monkeys. I was literally crying I was laughing so hard. Oh the little joys of the 1 fun thing we do a day ;) haha I don't think I have anymore fun news..
This past weekend Hermana Listers great grandpa passed away, she got to call her parents and her grandma. I was kinda jealous, but under those circumstances I would have rather not gotten to call my family. It was really hard on her, I know it, but still she doesnt really open up to me, so I just had to read her face for an answer. But I knew that she was going to be okay, as members of the church it is such a blessing to know that after death we will live again. That is a principle that I am so excited to teach in the field. Its so reassuring to know that we will see our loved ones again after life. I am grateful to have this knowledge.

Today we went to the temple and it was such a humbling experience, I know my spanish is bad, but just having the spirit with you and answering your prayers in the house of the Lord is a huge blessing. Last week or so we had a lesson on specific prayers and this week I really applied it to my life. I started my morning and nightly prayers with the thought "what if what you prayed about yesterday were the only things you had left today?" Try this. It will make your prayers more sincere and also it will bring you closer to the Lord. This week my prayers have been so long just because I have been naming off the people in my life. I have literally named off every family member (including cousins spouses and extended family like that) every friend I ever had, my house, good food. Literally everything I did not want to lose the next day. It was an eye opener and really made me grateful for all the amazing people I have in my life. I am truly blessed. My gratitude today is through the roof. I am feeling a constant feeling of comfort and I really just cannot stop thinking about how blessed I am. I love you all and hope you are having a great week. I have sent out over 30 letters and Im convinced not 1 of them have been received yet. Because it takes so long to get here don't send any mail here after this Thursday. I love you and hope to hear from you soon!

Love always,

Hermana Groves

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Week 2

Hola me familia y me amigos,

I wish I had a lot to write about today but unfortunately, I don’t. This week we have just been getting into the routine of the MTC. We wake up at 6:30, get ready till 7, at 7-8 we study (Hermana L and I read the Spanish Book Of Mormon out loud, one verse at a time switching back and forth between books). 
Then we go to breakfast which usually includes waffles, pancakes, something random (yesterday it was a hotdog bun with beans cheese melted on it) and cereal (3 WHOLE KINDS! But they have frosted flakes, so you KNOW Hermana Groves has no problem with that). I know what you’re thinking, “ Waffles and pancakes? Awesome!”  Well you don’t even know the half of it! Apparently they don’t believe in maple syrup here, or butter for that matter. The toppings we get to choose from are:  chocolate syrup, strawberry syrup (yes syrup) and honey. Basically we’re on a sugar high for the first few hours. I think they do that on purpose because we can be so dead in the morning haha.

 After that we have like a 3 hour block of class. Our morning teacher is Hermana B. I like her, but she knows that I am the only person in my class who hasn’t taken at least TWO YEARS of Spanish, so she kinda singles me out when she’s teaching. Which is fine, I mean I get what’s being taught, I just can’t memorize 40 new phrases every day! But she’s cool.  I can tell that she honestly cares about me and my learning.

 After class we have about an hour of gym time, in that time Hermana L really likes to get going.  This past week we did a few different things:  we went in the weight room where i just biked and Hermana did a bunch of weight training stuff (that she remembered from college softball),  we also played basketball a few times with the elders from our district. Well she played basketball, I just kinda ran from one part of the court to the other and attempted to block Hermana L (they put us on opposing teams and they don’t dare guard us).  We’ve also played ping pong with Elder S who couldn’t play basketball with the other elders because he basically broke his finger the day before being too competitive in… Basketball. Yesterday we played volleyball with some Elders from a district in our branch.  That was probably my favorite gym activity because I can actually play volleyball and I didn’t look like an idiot. So HOLLA! That was great.

After gym we have about 40 minutes to "prepare for our next activity." We never shower after gym so you guessed it! Hermana L and I study  during our free time. We then go to lunch at about 1 o’ clock and the food is basically a surprise every day, same with dinner. The only meal we can count on is Tuesday dinner. Its pizza night (by the way mom that reminded me of you because there were jalapenos and pepperoni on the pizza, so whoever orders it out is a Mexican version of you), but anyways the meals are always a surprise.  I grab a plate because it looks familiar, like something Mom would make or something and then WHAT? Not even close to being similar. Haha its almost ridiculous how something can look like chicken and taste like… I don’t even know!

Anyway, after lunch we have TALL which is a computer based program that helps us learn Spanish grammar and things like that.  A lot of the missionaries here joke about wishing they had TALL with them to fall asleep at night, but personally I like it, probably because I can move at my own speed and work on something until I completely get it.

 After TALL we have more additional study time which varies to what we study every day. Friday we started with a teacher in the afternoon which we didn’t have initially. Hermana S is our afternoon teacher.  I don’t know if I told you about our investigator Martha, but it turns out that after we were done teaching her she became Hermana S our afternoon teacher. I really like her.  She is Mexican but served a mission in Temple Square so she speaks fluent English. Because we taught her she knows what our weaknesses are with investigators and she tries to work with them. She also makes sure that I understand things before she moves on. I really like her because she teaches in a different way, and even though I hate it, I understand it.

So after that 3 hour block or so we move onto dinner. I already told you dinner and lunch are about the same here. Yikes. I honestly thought I wasn’t a picky eater before I got here, but I was wrong. Although I’ll eat what’s placed in front of me I have to fight my gag reflexes haha.

The longest part of the day is after dinner. We have to sit in the classroom for 3 plus hours without a teacher.  A third of it is personal language study, another third is additional study and another third is our daily planning for the next day. This part is so hard because we’ve already spent 7 plus hours in that classroom, and now we have a bunch of 18 year old boys unsupervised and bored. Oh my, if I learn ANYTHING during that block I am forever grateful. You know me, I basically have ADD so anytime anyone starts telling a story or talking about something I’m the slightest interested in my attention span is gone. Hermana L is so good at blocking them out, honestly like I’m way jealous of her. She’s got this missionary thing down.

 So after that, at 9:30 we go to our casa,  shower, write in our journals, companion and personal pray and go to sleep. Repeat the next day. But we now have two investigators (both of our teachers and their "alter egos" and that happens during class time every day).

Up until yesterday I only saw one person I knew from home on the daily, Hermana Alainey Carter. But yesterday Elder Josh Bolton (from cedar) and Elder Stockton Fisher (from Hurricane who I was friends with in college) both came and I’ve seen them both at least twice. So that is really reassuring to see familiar faces.

 We also had a live broadcast devotional from Provo on Tuesday and I actually saw Asher on the screen twice. So I thought that was pretty cool, they said you couldn’t see family while in the MTC, pft. I showed them! Haha that devotional was WAY good btw. Neil L. Anderson spoke about love and sacrifice.  I took away this quote from it "We sacrifice the things we love and we love the things we sacrifice for."  Geesh, I wasn’t crying then but I’m crying now, in the computer lab. I just think deeply about it,  and I think about how much I love you, my family and my friends, and how I know that because I love you so much I am willing to sacrifice these 18 months of my life for the better. I know that because I am sacrificing myself unto the Lord I will be blessed and the people I love will be blessed.

 He also said "Your voice WILL be heard, whether you speak out loud or not".  I took a long hard sit and thought about that. It’s like that quote I had on my mirror "Your reflection reflects in everything you do and everything you do reflects on you."  Your actions may speak louder than any words to come out of your mouth. Do you realize that? As a bystander on the street you may change the course of someone’s life. All of us have the obligation to be our best at all times. If we are bearing the name of Christ, whether it is as a missionary or just a member of the church, you are bearing his name and you must live like you believe.
Also kinda on that same subject, we sat with this sister at dinner a few nights ago who asked us why we were going on missions.  We told her, and then she told us her reasoning, and hers was cool. She was sitting in sacrament, and someone was speaking on tithing. She was like, "That is a sacrifice to the Lord but what could I give that would be a sacrifice for me? At the time I was 18 so 18 months was 10 percent of my life so I thought, I should sacrifice myself and serve a mission." I just think it’s funny how mysterious God works in order to hasten his work.

Yesterday I got a letter from Angie and it was awesome! I loved getting physical mail!

 I know that I said my letter wouldn’t be long, and I was wrong, sorry! I want you all to know how much I love you, and just because I haven’t told my companion anything about you that does NOT mean I don’t love you.  I think she’s afraid that if she gets me started I won’t stop! Haha I love you all so much and appreciate the support you are giving to me as I am on my mission. I know that the Lord loves you and is blessing you for the support. Please keep the faith and have a good attitude, a positive attitude goes so much further than a bad one. Treat each other well and show love.  The people in your life are placed there for a reason, and I am grateful all of you were placed in my life. I love you all very much and hope you have a great week!

1John 4:19
“ We love him, because he first loved us.”

Love always,

Hermana Groves

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Leaving St. George

Maddie and her proud parents

When she gets back, Preston will be too big to sit on her lap!

Everyone looks pretty happy, even though it's 5:30 in the morning!

Too bad there isn't "blink correction" for this picture...said Liz, Preston, and Mom...

Saying goodbye at the gate

And she's on her way!

Casa 13