Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Letter # 15 (December 30, 2013)

So a few big things happened this week. 

One is Christmas. I got a bike odometer! Which I am SUPER excited about except that I won't really be using in Pasadena... But anyway, I had a breakfast at one member's house, dinner one at another, dinner two at another, and in between breakfast and dinners we Skyped! Which was really cool and really bizarre at the same time.

Two is Facebook. Some of the leadership have been using Facebook for proselyting for the last month or so, but they just opened it up to the rest of us this week! Which is also really cool and really bizarre. But we're finding some kinks that still need to be worked through, so I probably won't be posting anything at this point until Thursday or later (because we will probably have our third zone meeting in a row to talk about it).

Three is that I had the opportunity to volunteer at the Rose Parade! The Rose Parade happens in my area, so we were able to sign up to help decorate one of the floats. So if anyone watches it, look out for the float with pagodas and Pegasus on it! I helped paint and put poppy seeds on the black part of the pagodas that you can't even see and I also helped glue some sort of yellowy crushed something-or-other on the roofs of the pagodas. So look for those.

I'll probably go and contact at the Parade on Wednesday. Some members of our ward are camping out New Year's Eve to reserve some good spots, so we'll probably go wherever they are.

So yeah. That's pretty much everything for this week that I can think of.

I love you all! Don't forget to write me! I want to know everything that's going on in your lives! 

Happy New Year!

~Sister Kretchman

and my one pair of jeans pants after working on the float (you should have seen me while we were working though. I had petals in my hair, glue on my shirt, and glue, flowers, and paint all over my hands. It was pretty intense)

Letter #14 (December 23, 2013)

This week has been kind of crazy. We all took turns being sick, which made for some interesting experiences. Let me explain.

Last P-Day, we hung out with our elders at the church (Elder Carter and Elder Hall). Elder Carter started to feel sick and then ended up in and out of the bathroom throwing up. The next day, Sister Scott was sick, and so was one of the Hermanas that we live with. So Hermana Garcia and I took Sister Richards to the office and then the two of us worked in her area while our companions stayed at home dying.

It was really funny working with Hermana Garcia for a couple of reasons. One is that she is from Peru and has learned most of her English while out here, so it is still kind of choppy at times. So communication between the two of us can be really confusing (and really funny). The second is that contacting people in Spanish when only one of us actually speaks Spanish is a bit awkward. She would talk to someone and I would just stand there silently, trying to follow the conversation based on the few words that I recognized (which I have discovered that I'm actually kind of okay at following conversations sometimes, I just can't talk back). So whoever we were talking to would just kind of look over at me sometimes like "why isn't she saying anything?" So I would just smile and continue to stand in silence.

Funny story about that day:

We were trying to contact a former investigator named Juan. So we go to where the address (I don't remember the exact number, but let's say it was 526) should be and it hops straight from 524 to 528. So we look around, trying to make sure that it's not a back house or anything, and we still can't find it. So we knock a neighbor who tells us that 526 is a nursery at the end of the road. So we walk to the end of the road, wondering why the heck 526 is way down there, and sure enough, it's there. There is a sign pointing at a chain-link fence that says "No Trespassing" that is surrounding a big empty lot. We kind of look at each other like "should we?" when Hermana Garcia notices that there is someone sitting in a pick-up truck at the back of the empty lot. So we proceed to spend the next five minutes yelling "HELLO! EXCUSE ME! JUAN?" over and over again. We're about to give up and leave when the man sees us and get out of the truck. He starts walking towards us and beckons us to come in. So we go in and walk over to him. We ask him if he's Juan. No. So we tell him why we were there and he thinks about it. "You mean the really short guy?" We had no idea. So he tells us to wait a second. So we wait while he goes into the house. He comes back with two men. "Which one of you is Juan?" "I'm Juan, he's Juan" Ooookay. So we ask if either of them have met with missionaries before. Nope. Then one of them gets this look of understanding. "Oh! You want the other Juan! He's working right now." How many Juans are there?!

We thanked them, told them that we'd come back another time (they told us when would be best) and then we left. As soon as we were out of sight, we both just start laughing. It was so funny!

Anyway, the next day I was out sick. We're not sure if it was the same thing Elder Carter and Sister Scott had or if has something to do with eating cow stomach. Tuesday night Sister Richards and I went to a couple of lessons that the Hermanas had scheduled. I just sat there during the first one. I was having a hard time following the conversation, so I just kind of sat there throughout the whole lesson. The second one though was a first contact with a referral. Hermana Garcia had called the number of the referral earlier and he said that we could come by tonight. So it didn't end up being much of a lesson so much as a get to know you kind of thing. The referral is from Peru, just like Hermana Garcia, so they had a lot to talk about. Finally he offered to make us some Peruvian food. Which happened to be cow stomach and potatoes. The potatoes were really good, but I only made it through one chunk of stomach. It tasted okay, but I couldn't handle the texture. Within a few minutes I was feeling sick. I think that it may have been a coincidence though.

Anyway, I need to wrap up.

I hope that you all have a wonderful Christmas! You should all email me your family Christmas traditions, I find them very interesting :)

I love you all! Merry Christmas!

~Sister Kretchman

Letter #13 (December 17, 2013)

Well hello there!
I should tell you a little bit more about life in Pasadena and then I'll talk about Christmas. Sound good? Good.
So it is a whole different world in Pasadena! It's nothing like Walnut, which is really exciting because finding in Walnut is practically non-existent most of the time. Since it's the suburbs, there usually aren't many people out on the streets/sidewalks and those that are speak Chinese. Same with knocking doors. Almost all Chinese. So we got little flyers for the Chinese elders' English class to give out and that was a little bit helpful.
Pasadena is more city. My first full day here, we spent 2+ hours just riding the Metro to contact people. We got a bunch of referrals for other missionaries, so that was really good. I'm really not very good at contacting though! I just didn't get much practice in my last area. So I'm excited to improve here, it's just frustrating at the moment because I don't feel super helpful.
The rest of the week was kind of crazy. I was sick on Wednesday, so we didn't get much done. Thursday was weekly planning (because the Christmas party was Friday), so we didn't get much done then either. And then Friday was the Christmas party (which I'll talk about later), Saturday we went to a baptism for the East Pasadena elders and then had the ward Christmas party that night. Then Sunday was church of course, and then there was a Christmas concert that night. So we didn't end up with a whole lot of proselyting time this week. But it was still a fun week.
But even without sickness and parties and concerts and stuff, we're struggling with getting a lot done because our schedule is kind of funky now. Since Sister Richards works at the mission office Tuesdays through Fridays, we have to drive her there and back everyday. So we have studies, then we drive her to the office around 10ish, then we drive back and have lunch, then we drive to either the church or the train station and leave the car there. Our condo is out of our area, like, fifteen minutes out of our area, so President lets Sister Scott and I use the car to get to our area since we already lost a bunch of time driving to and from the office. And then when we have Sister Richards with us (we pick her up at five) it is a bit of a challenge because walking is really painful for her, so it's kind of hard to find things that we can do when she's with us. I feel really badly for her because I can tell that she knows how much her condition messes with Sister Scott and my proselyting and that bothers her. The whole situation is being really frustrating and we're still trying to figure it out so that we are still able to get stuff done.

But anyway.

We did have a lesson on Thursday with a man named Kaleb. He's pretty cool, he's really religious already and prays for about an hour and a half everyday! Crazy. He said that he'll read and pray and that he's willing to act on the answer that he gets, which is good. But he won't come to church because he has a calling in his own church that he doesn't want to skip out on. He said that if he finds out that the Book of Mormon is true that he'll come to church and everything, but part of finding out that the church is true is by coming to church... so we'll see what happens.
It's crazy though, apparently the sisters had been teaching him for a while and then he stopped showing up to appointments and so they dropped him. But then the day that Sister Richards and I arrived, he just randomly texted and asked if we were available on Thursday for a lesson. So that was really cool.
So the Christmas party. SO fun! We started out with two hours of teaching from President Becerra. Our teaching style is completelychanging. It's really cool and I think that it will be really good... once I get it down. It's going to be a huge adjustment.
Then we had lunch and started the talent show. There was so much food and a crazy amount of dessert, all made by members in our mission who have sons and daughters out on missions. It was really neat, they had name tags with the names and missions of their kids.

The talent show was really fun, there was a stand up comedian (who was actually really good, you can never be too sure), some dancing, a rap, and parody of "Part of Your World" about coming home from a mission and trying to find a date (so funny), someone did four Rubik's cubes (of varying difficulty) in five minutes, etc.

Then there was the more spiritual portion of the talent show, which we went into the chapel for. I had signed up to sing "Oh Holy Night" but was unsure of how to work accompaniment since it would have to be another missionary. So when I went on exchanges to Covina, I left my music there for one of the sister's (Sister Davis, Sister Laura Johnson's companion at the time) to look at. But we never got to practice it together, so I was kind of nervous to see what would happen.
Well when I get there (to the party) Sister Becerra is like "So are you ready for your big debut? Because you're going last!" No pressure. I was able to practice once with Sister Davis and it went really well, so I was a bit more confident about it.
So a few other people sang, one read poetry, one played the piano, and then it gets closer to my turn and one of the AP's goes to the pulpit and announces "We actually have one more performance. Sister Brown and Elder something-or-other will be performing "Oh Holy Night." Dang. So then I was afraid that people would compare our performances and what not. Then Sister Becerra turns around and mouths that she will give her little Christmas devotional and then I'll sing right before the closing prayer.
So Sister Brown and Elder what's-his-name sing, then Sister Becerra gets up and speaks and then it's my turn. It's funny, I never feel like I'm nervous, but my body begs to differ. My legs were shaking SO badly throughout the entire performance and for about ten minutes afterwards. I sang and it went really really well! Then we had the closing prayer and everyone got up to leave. I really feel like it ended up being a great way to end the party. You could really feel the Spirit, it was so incredible! That right there is why I love singing. It was really cool because a random elder even told me that I had done really well and that he was really able to feel the Spirit while I sang. Another elder (who had also sung) came up to me and just said "you win." It was funny.
Sister Becerra also told me that I did well and said that apparently she called Sister Chambers (my last comp) and asked her if I was any good. Apparently she got a good report since she made me the finale.
Anyway, at the end of the party, we all went into a room and picked up our Christmas packages from home. I had one from my mom, but then there was another package for me. A massive package. I'm not really sure where it's from, although I have a theory. It was wrapped all nicely with a bow and had a label that said "Sister Missionary." But then it also had an envelope taped to it with my name on it and a tied-on tag that said "Sister Kretchman Missionary Extraordinary."
I didn't open the package from Mom when I got home, but I was super curious about the other one, so I took the envelope off and opened it, hoping that there would be a card, but there wasn't. There was, however, a $50 Macy's gift card, $25 Kohl's gift card, a $25 Walmart gift card, and a $10 El Pollo Loco gift card.
So I opened the package too. There was A LOT in there! I took a picture with all of the stuff. It included lotion, hot cocoa, cookies, brownie brittle, chapstick, a scarf, socks, two more gift cards (both $10 for Target and Subway), the softest blanket that I have ever felt in my life, and more. CRAZY.
So here's my theory:
Sister Richards (who has the inside scoop on pretty much everything since she works at the mission office) said that the office asked for package donations in case any missionaries didn't get a package. There was no indication of a mailing label or anything on the wrapped package, so I'm wondering if my package from home got misplaced, so they took one of the donation boxes and put my name on it and then didn't realize that I actually DID have a package.

I'm not positive though.
It's just crazy because everything in that package put together must have been ridiculously expensive, so it's hard to imagine someone donating it. So I don't know. And I'm really curious! Oh well.
Anyway, I need to wrap up.
I'm really excited for Christmas! I'm still keeping my family Christmas traditions as much as I possibly can. We're going to have cinnamon rolls for breakfast and we're going to sleep next to our little cardboard Christmas tree and watch "Mr. Kreuger's Christmas" on Christmas Eve (not the Eve of Christmas Eve because we don't have to worry about Santa stepping on us). So it should be a lot of fun!
I hope that you're all having a fantastic Christmas season and are remembering the Spirit of Christmas. The miracle of Christ's birth ( and Atonement, death, and Resurrection) is the greatest gift that we could have ever received. Are we receiving it? Are we using the gift that we have been given by following His example? Are we taking advantage of the opportunity to repent and become more like Him? I hope that you all remember to keep Christ in Christmas.
I love you all SO much!
~Sister Kretchman

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Letter #12 (December 9, 2013)

Hey everyone! I am emailing you from Pasadena, my new area! I am now in a trio (so I have two new companions instead of one), but one of my companions- Sister Richards -works at the office most of the time, so it will usually just be Sister Scott and I. When Sister Richards is with us we will use a car because she has some leg problems. We live in a condo with four other sisters. So there are seven of us altogether. And one smaller-than-average-but-not-mini fridge. So it should be fun.

Oh, something fun for my Maryland friends! Sister Scott was in the Annapolis stake her senior year! She was in the Broadneck ward and knows Kaitlin Harper, the McConkie's the ... I'll just sound it out: New-Ma-ta-lo-lo's, and she knows who April Evans is! CRAZY. 

But let me tell you about my last week!

I was struggling a little bit, knowing that I was going to be transferred, because I didn't feel like I had really been helpful in my area. You're sent to each area because that's where God needs you, but I didn't feel like I had made a difference at all yet. Until Monday.

So you know how I had a baptism my very first weekend? Well here's the situation:
The Estradas have ten kids. Six live at home. The father was deported to Mexico. He's not coming back. Sister Estrada and the kids at home were baptized a few years ago but quickly went inactive. Then, all of a sudden, Sister Estrada pops up and asks the sister missionaries to teach her youngest son Seth so that he can be baptized. I came in at the very end of that. So we have been doing FHE with them for Seth's follow-up lessons and I have become really close to two of his older sisters and the family in general. Well I've been able to see that family change so much since I first got here! I met Seth once before his baptism. He was not very excited to see us, to go over the baptismal interview questions, or to be baptized. Only a couple came in for FHE when we would go over. More recently, Seth is always really excited to see that we're there, all of the kids have been in FHE, even if they aren't paying attention, and Sister Estrada told us that she loves when we go over because she always feels so good when we're there. We participated in what was probably their first ever family scripture study a couple of weeks ago.

On Monday, Sister Estrada was having a really tough time. They had gone to Mexico to see her husband and she came back kind of depressed and really frustrated. We had FHE with them scheduled for that night. I felt like we should do it differently this time. Instead of teaching a follow-up lesson, I felt like we should watch the Mormon Message Mountains to Climb and then talk about how through following Christ's teachings (reading the scriptures, praying, coming to church, etc) we can find peace and comfort in our lives and we can become closer to our families. So we were going to do that instead. But when we called to remind Sister Estrada that we were coming over, she said that she was going out of town to pick up her daughter who was visiting someone. So we asked if we could come earlier. But she said that Bishop and her home teacher were coming over to give her a blessing (which is a good thing of course), so we rescheduled for the next day. But both Sister Chambers and I felt that we should still go over, so Sister Chambers told me to call her back and ask if we could go over right then. So I did, and we did. She cried when we watched the video, I just put my arm around her and hugged her until it ended. I bore my testimony about overcoming trials and talked about how Heavenly Father must love her and her family so much because I know that I love them an awful lot and he loves them more. Then she received a blessing. 

As we were leaving, Seth said that he hoped that I would never leave (which broke my heart a little since I knew already that I was being transferred). But what really got to me was when we were already outside and across the street. We were unlocking out bikes when I hear "Sister Kretchman!" So I turn around, and the oldest sister (Emily) runs over to us and gives me a huge hug and tells me "It's people like you that inspire me to inspire other people" and then ran off again. You have to understand, she never shows interest in us or the church. She was playing on her phone the entire time that we were there. In that moment, I just knew that they are the reason that I was there. I knew that it was okay for me to be transferred.

I'm going to miss them a lot, but they have grown SO much since I first got to Walnut. It's truly incredible how Heavenly Father helps people change for the better. I am so grateful have had the privilege of being a part of that process.

Wow, sorry that was so long, I'm sure none of you really wanted to know that much about the Estradas.

Moving on. 

On Tuesday we picked up a few potential investigators. Two of them right in a row. The first one is Amanda. She is awesome. We taught her about the Restoration on Friday. She not only committed to be baptized, but she committed to be baptized on December 28th! I am SO excited! I'm going to try really hard to get back for her baptism if everything works out. She came to church on Sunday and loved it and is still set on being baptized at the end of the month. I'm sad that I won't get to finish teaching her, but I am so glad that I got to meet her and start teaching her!

(We also have two other baptismal dates, one on the 11th of January, and one one the 25th. I'm hoping to be able to make it back for both of those is possible as well because I've been teaching both for a while now. They are both eternal investigators, so we're really excited about that. :) )

The second one is Matthew. We're pretty sure that he just wants to talk to us because we're girls. We texted to remind him of the appt we set when we met him, and he texted back that he had been thinking about us ever since we met and could we talk right then. Well we got that text during Amanda's lesson, so didn't look at it. One the way home from the lesson, he called us. He just really wanted to talk to us. We politely asked what we could help him with and reminded him of our appt the next day. He said that he just really wanted to talk and could we go over right then. Um. No.

So when we went to our appointment with him, we brought an older couple with us with the plan to make our purpose as missionaries very clear and if he actually wants to come closer to Christ, than we'll pass him off to the YSA elders. He wasn't at home though. Sister Chambers and her new comp get to figure that situation out now. It should be a fun story. Hopefully he actually will feel the need to come closer to Christ and the elders will be able to teach him. Probably not though. We just laughed really hard about the whole ridiculous situation. I'll be interested to hear how the story develops with that.

Anyway, this email ended up being really long, sorry! I hope that you are all having a fantastic week!

I love you all!

~Sister Kretchman

Estrada family

Amanda and Anna and Comp

Gingerbread from ward Christmas Brunch
More MTC pics that she just sent:
Anna and a Zone Teacher, Sister D.

Anna and MTC comp at the map
Anna and District
Anna and Zone

Letter #11 (December 2, 2013)

Hi everyone! I hope that everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

I feel like so much is going on and yet I have no clue what to write about. Does that make any sense? Probably not.

So this week pretty good. We were able to meet with Matt this week for the first time in ages. He's sort of better, but his collar bone isn't healing properly, so it's been kind of rough. The lesson went really well though. I'm really hoping to have a baptismal date for him soon, but we'll see. 

We also were able to meet with Odelia! And we have another appointment this Saturday! Well actually, Sister Chambers and a couple from our ward got to teach Odelia, I got really sick all of a sudden and just died on a member's couch so that my comp could still go to our appointments. She said that the lesson went really well and that Odelia's husband even came in towards the end of the lesson and seemed really interested! So I'll be excited to see how things go this Saturday. Oh, and funny story, her last name is Smith and she has a son named Joseph! We told her that it must be fate. Haha, we thought that it was really funny though. 

The 65-year-old investigator (Nowlin) is still set on being baptized on January 11th, so we're praying for him to find a new apartment quickly! I'm so excited for him to get baptized! Hopefully I'll be able to come back for the baptism. 

So on Thanksgiving we (us and the elders) played in Turkeyball, not a Turkey Bowl, we played softball with some members and an investigator family that our elders have started to teach. But we couldn't stay for very long because we had district meeting at 10:30. It was a really good lesson about making sure that we are working hard because we want to help people and not because we want to seem like an awesome missionary. One of the district leaders shared a bit of an email from his uncle and it was just really powerful. It can be hard not to feel kind of down because I feel like I haven't had much success, but I need to remember that people have their agency and all I can do is invite and then it's up to them.

Anyway, then we had a correlation meeting with our new assistant ward mission leader, Brother Kongaika. He's awesome. He really wants to help us turn this ward around and really start building the members up so that we will have more success and help more people come unto Christ. I think that with his help things might really get going. 

Then we had Thanksgiving number one at the Flores family's house. They are a family in the ward with three teenage girls and an 8ish year old son. It was lots of fun. They had a bunch of family over and everything and so it was loud and crazy and wonderful. I loved it. Then we went straight to Thanksgiving number two at the home of a less active sister in the ward. It was really nice. She had her very active daughter and son-in-law there as well as her son, nephew and mother-in-law. It was really funny because they were almost as loud as the other family even though there less than half as many people there and they were all adults! It was a lot of fun too. The elders didn't come with us to that one though.

I was SO stuffed and sleepy by the end of the day, so much biking and turkey and deliciousness! Haha

Anyway, transfers are next Monday and I'm pretty positive that I'm going to be transferred. I'm excited to see what Heavenly Father has in store for me although I will miss the members of the Creekside ward. I'll be interested to see if I'll get to go to two ward Christmas parties, because ours is this Saturday. 

Anyway, I love and miss you all and hope that you are having wonderful lives! PLEASE write me! I didn't get any mail at all on Thanksgiving. That's the first week that I didn't get any mail. That's not supposed to happen until I hit my 6 month mark... Haha. But really, I would greatly appreciate it. Tell me everything about your lives right now whether you think that it's exciting or not. I promise I'll appreciate it regardless. And I'm trying really hard to be better at writing back, I really am. So if you write me, I'll try to write back ASAP. Thanks!

~Sister Kretchman

Ps- just a reminder that the mission address changed.

614 W Foothill Blvd
Arcadia, CA 91006

Monday, November 25, 2013

Letter #10 (November 25 2013)

I'm really sorry that a lot of my emails have been so short lately. I keep ending up with almost no time to email, it's been crazy.

But anyway. This week was kind of frustrating because my comp and I were taking turns feeling sick, so we weren't able to go out much. BUT. I think this week also included the most lessons in one week that I've ever taught, so that was good.

We are "practicing" teaching this 65-year-old man who has been going to church every Sunday since the 70's, but isn't baptized. We have a baptismal date set for him in January (he needs to move out of his house first because he's living with his girlfriend), but we'll see what happens. He does seem to be pretty serious about it, he even asked someone to baptize him already.

We're also making headway with two of our other eternal investigators. And we're finally meeting with Matt again this week (I think that I wrote about him. He's the one who broke his collarbone while mountain biking) so that's good.

We also picked up a new investigator the other night. Her name is Odelia and she has been a referral since before I got here! We went to her house so many times and she was never home. One time we heart attacked her door and left a note with our number on it. She never called. But we finally caught her! She's super sweet. She told us that she took a picture of the hearts and put it on Facebook. I thought that that was really funny/cute. We're meeting with her again on Saturday, so we'll see what happens! Unfortunately we keep contacting people who seem like they'll turn into investigators and we have appointments set and everything, but then they fall through. This has happened over and over again. I still haven't actually had a follow up lesson with anyone after the initial first contact lesson. So I'm hoping and praying that it will be different with Odelia. Wish me luck!

Before I forget. The mission office is moving. So starting December 1st, my mission address will be:

614 W Foothill Blvd
Arcadia, CA 91006

So send my mail there, not to W Duarte Rd. Thanks!

Anyway. We have no idea what we're doing for Thanksgiving yet. No one signed up to feed us. But we have been personally invited to a couple of places, so we just need to figure out where we're going. It should be an adventure.

Also, I'm getting really pumped for Christmas. I LOVE Christmas so much. I love the lights and I love Christmas hymns. I just wish that it would snow. Just once. Just enough for me to make a snowball and a snow angel. Is that too much to ask? Yes. Oh well. I'm really excited because we're going to help an old lady decorated for Christmas on Friday. I've been asking around for anyone that I can help decorate because I just love the Christmas season so much. So yeah... I'm excited. Haha

I'll be interested to see where I am for Christmas and what we end up doing.

Oh! My comp, our elders, and I are singing a song that one of the elder's brother wrote in a couple of Sundays! It's actually pretty hard, but I think that if we can get it together, it'll be really good. I'm also singing with some less active YW that same Sunday. And they want me to sing at the Relief Society Christmas party, but I probably won't be here because it's after transfers and I'm about 99.9% sure that I'll  be transferred. 

Anyway, I can't think of anything else. I just wanted to end with some Thanksgiving cheer:

I am thankful for (not necessarily in this order):

The gospel
A loving Heavenly Father
The Book of Mormon
The Bible
Preach My Gospel
My companion
The Plan of Salvation
My mission president and his wife
My family
My friends
General Conference talks
Warm blankets
The awesome elders in our ward
Joseph Smith
The Atonement of Jesus Christ
All of you that care enough about me to read my crazy emails

I love you all so much and love hearing from you! Happy Thanksgiving!

~Sister Kretchman

Letter #9 (November 19 2013)

So the past couple of weeks have been kind of crazy. But things are really starting to pick up here! Sister Chambers is awesome. Since she got here, we've been getting really close to setting baptism dates for three of our eternal investigators! I'm so excited! And I've really been able to see how the Lord has been working through me at times as well.
Here's one example:
We have an investigator named Dede (his real name is William) who has been investigating the church for over 15 years. He keeps saying "don't give up on me!" He says that he'll be baptized eventually, but that he has an issue with tithing. He feels that he is already putting his money to good use by helping his grandkids through college. He's been through so many missionaries. All of them testifying of the power of paying tithing, how much he'll be blessed for it, etc. But he still isn't getting it.
So a couple of weeks ago we were trying to find a member of the ward to come to the lesson with us. We tried a few different members and none of them could come. So I'm scrolling through the phone when I pass a Sister Pardo (she's a semi-active sister in the ward, super sweet). Then I stopped, scrolled back up, and called her. I just felt like I should. Well, she is apparently is good friends with Dede. So she comes. During the lesson, she bore her testimony about how the best way for Dede to help his family is by joining the church and receiving the Priesthood because then he can give blessings and things like that. She also shared an experience that a friend of hers had with struggling to pay tithing. Dede got really quiet.
So next time we saw him (last Thursday), he tells us that he has been seriously thinking of getting baptized soon. He said that he has been thinking a lot about what Sister Pardo said and feels like it's time for him to be baptized. Woah.
So we don't have a date set yet, but I really feel like we're closer than we've ever been. And it's all because the Lord wouldn't let me pass Sister Pardo's name. He really does know what each individual person needs. I'm just grateful that I listened to Him.
Anyway, that was a lot longer than I meant it to be, so I'll try to be quick with the rest of my email.
Funny story; we were waiting at a bus stop and started talking to this man that was waiting there as well. It was really awkward, I could tell that he didn't really want to talk to us, but we tried anyway. Well all of a sudden, this college age guy with a backpack starts walking by. And then about a second later a cop car pulls over in front of us, the guy with the backpack turns around and walks over to the cop, and is arrested. Right in front of us. I was a tad bit distracted from out conversation at this point, but Sister Chambers was totally focused and kept trying to talk to the man! It was so bizarre, but really funny to think back on. I keep having run ins with the police! Haha
I have more that I want to say, but I don't have time so...
I love/miss you all! I hope you're all having a fantastic week!
~Sister Kretchman

Letter #8 (November 15 2013)

Sorry this is so late everyone. This Monday they were cleaning the carpets at the church so we couldn't email here. So we were going to go email at the stake center, but they were doing the carpets there too. So THEN we were going to do it on Tuesday, but everyone else that didn't get to do it on Monday was doing it on Tuesday, so we didn't end up having time. And then we had exchanges on Wednesday so we weren't together to do our email. And yesterday was just crazy. So yeah... I'm emailing today. We were going to just not email this week since it's so late as it is, but then we remembered that we won't have P-Day until Tuesday because we have Zone Conference on Monday, so we decided to do it quickly today so that you know that we haven't died.

So.... I haven't died. There.

I'll TRY to catch up on Tuesday!

I love/miss you all! Keep the letters coming! Sorry I'm so bad at writing back, I'm working on it! 

Have a great week!

~Sister Kretchman

Ps- We had a high of 92 on Wednesday! What the?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Letter #7 (November 4, 2013)

So last week my email was really short again because of lack of time due to transfers. I am still in the Creekside ward, but I have a new comp. Her name is Sister Chambers. She's 25 and has been out for about 7 months. She's really nice and is a really good missionary. I think that I'm going to learn a lot from her.

The transfer was really hard because I had become such good friends with Sister Mattingley and also because we had been preparing a member missionary fireside for weeks that I was being left with. Luckily though, we also got two new elders in our ward and they, and Sister Chambers, are awesome. They stepped right in to help. The fireside was last night. It went... alright. The members here like to talk A LOT. And it's hard to cut in and redirect things back to where they need to be. Hopefully they got something out of it though!

This week with my new trainer/comp has been kind of crazy. The S family (The people we live with) are out of town, so it's just us at home. So the one night, we're walking to our dinner appointment when the sister we live with calls our cell. Apparently the security alarm went off on the back door and so the police went over to check it out and everything. We think that we secure the back door properly and the wind blew it open. But that only kind of makes sense because in order to turn the alarm on, the doors have to be shut properly or else it won't set. So it should have been closed all the way. But anyway, we get home that night to find that the police re-locked the doors, including a sliding bolt at the top of the door. Which means that the key still won't open the door because you can only unlock the bolt from inside. So we tried the back door (Sister Chambers had to climb the fence into the back yard), but it required a different key. We were finally able to get in because we called the S family  again and they were able to tell us where the spare keys for the back door are.

But then the next day, apparently the alarm went off on the back door again. While we were still there. And the alarm wasn't even on. We didn't know that anything happened until Sister S called again and then the police came to the back door. I let them in and they demanded our IDs and stuff. They weren't happy that my ID wasn't a California ID. They totally thought that we were burglars! We convinced them that we weren't by turning the alarm on and then putting in the pass code to turn it off. What should have happened though is that when the alarm went off, the alarm company is supposed to speak through a speaker in the alarm box and we would give them the password to prove that we aren't burglars. But that didn't happen. No one asked us for a password, no one spoke through it at all. So instead we started out the morning by being interrogated by the police. Fun stuff. It's funny to think about now, but I was NOT a happy camper when it happened.

On a better note though, I got to go to a baptism of Sister Chambers' yesterday before the fireside in one of her old areas. We got one of our investigators to drive us (we've been trying to get her to a baptism for ages). It was really nice. A lot more put together than the one when I got here!

Oh, I forgot! Last Sunday Sister Mattingley and I sang "Come Thou Fount" in sacrament! Everyone had kept asking when I'd perform for them, and I always responded "when they ask me to." So they finally asked me to. It went really well I think and all of the members have been commenting on it to me ever since.

Anyway, I can't remember the rest of what happened in the past two weeks, so I guess that's it.

I love and miss you all! PLEASE write to me! I probably won't get back to you for a while, but I will get back to you eventually I promise! And I'm a lot more likely to write you if you write me first because I still don't have many addresses. So yeah... Write me. Haha

~Sister Kretchman

Elders in Anna's MTC district

Anna's district with their teacher
Smelling the orange-creamsicle tree at the MTC

Letter #6 (October 29, 2013)

We had transfers yesterday and so didn't have time to email, so I'm having to do another quickie today.

My comp was transferred and both of the elders in my ward were transferred. So I'M the one who knows things and I really don't know a lot since I'm new and don't know what the heck is going on most of the time. BUT. All three of the missionaries who transferred in seem really great and like they know what they're doing a bit more than I do, so it should be okay.

I'll try to catch up a bit more next week.

Love you all!

~Sister Kretchman

MTC zone with the Branch President and his wife

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Letter #5 (October 22, 2013)

Letter #4 was really short last week--just saying that she didn't have time to write because they went to the temple, just for the record :).

Okay, I'm going to try to be really brief with everything since I'm trying to catch up on two weeks.

First: I gave a talk last week. They asked me and my comp the Friday night before because someone backed out. That Saturday we spent most of the day helping out at the Walnut family festival where we had a stand with pass-along cards and stuff. We took it in shifts with the elders in our ward, our zone leaders, and the Korean and Chinese elders. So we didn't have much time to write our talks. I think that it went pretty well though.

The fair didn't end up being very effective because we were right next to the stage, so you couldn't hear anything. Plus people would take one look at the sign and do a 180 and walk the other way. I don't know why people think that Mormons are so scary. I promise we're nice.

Anyway, the temple was great. The Los Angeles temple is really beautiful (although I'm still partial to DC :) ). We spent most of the day in traffic then though. I slept for a good chunk, and then finally we found out that they had "Testaments" in their car, so we started watching that. By then we were almost home though.

Ummm, I ate eel for the first time. It wasn't that bad, I just am really not a fan of seafood.

Oh! One of our members broke our investigator. Matt is one of our three investigators. We paired him up with the Outhiers (oo-tea-ay) because Brother Outhier and him both like mountain biking. So Matt went biking with Brother Outhier and crashed his bike and broke his collar bone! It was actually really funny when we found out though. This is what Brother Outhier texted us: "I'm at the hospital with Matt Cosby in Big Bear. He may have broken his collar bone. Sorry I hurt your investigator." Oh boy. Matt's okay. He's in a sling for about six weeks. They gave him a blessing that night and we've coordinated with the Compassionate Service Coordinator to have people bring him dinner every night this week. I'm just not sure when we'll be able to teach him again. I don't want to push it.

Anyway, I can't remember what else I was going to tell you all except for some random things (I made myself a list, but forgot it at home). One- Matt Meese from Studio C is in the bike safety video! He's a bike thief. I was so surprised when I heard his voice! Sure enough, it showed him. I couldn't help laughing a little bit.

Two- I'm singing a duet with my comp on Sunday! Everyone in the ward kept asking when I'd sing for them and I just kept saying "when they ask me to." So finally they did! We're singing "Come Thou Fount" which is one of my favorite hymns and it's not even in the hymn book any more!

Anyway, I know that there was more that I was going to write about, but I can't remember. I'm going to try attaching a couple pictures though. They'll probably have to be all in separate emails though, it only lets me send one at a time.

I love and miss you all!

~Sister Kretchman

And then she added:

I knew that I forgot something big. Some of you may have heard, but I wanted to mention it briefly. An elder in my mission (Elder Page) was hit by a car and died a couple of weeks ago. I don't know the details except that he went to the temple the morning of the crash. It's really hard for me to think about, and I can't help but think of what his poor companion must be feeling. I wanted to mention this not because I want to scare you, but because I want you to know that if something happens to me, this is where I'm supposed to be. And if something were to happen, I will just continue doing missionary work on the other side, just like Elder Page. 

I am so grateful to have the knowledge of the Plan of Salvation in my life. While this was really sad, it is much less so because I know that Elder Page is in a wonderful place and that he now has the opportunity to work on the other side of the veil with his dad who died a couple of years ago. I am so grateful to know that death here isn't the end. That we have the opportunity to live with our Heavenly Father forever.

Sorry to end on a sadder note, but I thought that it was important for you to know.

Email to Brillante:

I helped out at a 5K a couple Saturdays ago. We applied to do service at the local senior center and they called us to help out with the race. It was super early though and freezing! We worked the finish line, which was kind of fun, we got to cheer everyone on as they came through. The first guys to run through did it in about 11 minutes, the last person not until about 50. Crazy.


Anna and her MTC companion:

Crazy rain storm at the MTC:

MTC zone at the Provo temple:

Anna and her companion at the L.A. temple:

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Letter #3 (October 7, 2013)

This has been a really good week. I've felt like we weren't getting much accomplished the last few weeks (hence the email about food and not much else) but things have really been happening this week, PLUS we got to watch General Conference which was just so amazing.

Things started to get good on Wednesday, so I'll start there. I went on another exchange (where missionaries change companions for a day) this week but this time I went to the other area and my comp stayed here. I went to the Covina area with Sister Kawamura (she's from Japan). She lives in an apartment with the Spanish sisters in the area. So we walk in, I drop my stuff, and then she brings me to the other room to meet the other sisters... and I run in and give a huge hug to one of the sisters. Laura Johnson was one of the Spanish sisters! For those of you who don't know her, Laura was living in PA last summer while she was doing an internship. I met her at institute, and while I don't know her very well, I always liked talking to her and stuff. I knew that she was in this mission, but didn't know when/if I'd get to see her. She only has four or five months left at this point. So it was really nice to see a familiar face. We had kind of a hard time calling each other Sister Johnson and Sister Kretchman though, haha.

Working in Covina was a neat experience. First of all, it's nice and flat there. No hills. So biking was really nice in that aspect. However. There were no bike lanes and the streets were really busy, so we had to ride on the sidewalk. The sidewalks here all have trees and poles and whatever else smack dab in the middle of them, so riding around them posed a bit of a challenge. Sister Kawamura just zipped right through, but I had to get off and walk a couple of times because I kept running into fences and stuff.

We tried some houses/apartments but no one answered except for one man who was fairly polite, but basically told us not to bother because last time he talked to missionaries he ruined their faith or something. It was an interesting  conversation for sure.

Something really cool though is that we talked to a man that was sitting on the grass at a park and when we left he plopped down on the grass and started reading the Book of Mormon that we gave him. It sounds as though him and his wife are going through some really hard times and he has been able to turn to the Bible to help him. I hope that he will be able to find the peace that he needs through both. I know that if he really studies, that the Book of Mormon will be able to help him so much.

Anyway, then on Thursday we had a really good lesson with one of our new progressing investigators. He came to church for the first time last Sunday and so we talked to him about that a bit and then read out of the BoM with him and discussed it. We had a member with us and she really seemed to connect well with him and one of his daughters, so she was really helpful during the lesson.

Then on Friday we did some park contacting and talked to some nice men who we invited to watch conference.

Then Saturday was conference and was AMAZING. I love conference. I had to stand up a lot to help me stay awake, but I really loved listening to all of the talks. I love that SO many of them had to do with missionary work. My comp and I are putting together a mission fireside to try to get people excited about member missionary work and I think that the talks from conference will be really helpful.

In between sessions, we did some more park contacting and invited another man to watch conference. I really don't know if anyone looked it up, but at least we were able to talk to some people. But then after the second session, we went to the house of a referral that we had gotten and a young man answered the door who seems really receptive to learning more/meeting with us. We talked for a while and then when I asked if he would be interested in meeting with us he was like "how do you mean? I'll come to church tomorrow and then maybe we can talk some more" um, YES. haha. We told him about conference and he said that he would try to come with his mom. He didn't come, but I still think that we might be able to set an appt with him. We'll see what happens.He seemed pretty great. 

Then we met another  great person last night. Another referral. An eighteen year old girl answered the door, we told her who we were, and she yelled into the house, "I'm going to sit out here and talk to these people okay?" and then plopped down on a bench in front of her house and started asking questions. We talked for a really long time and eventually ended up inside eating soup. Her and her family all seem really great and were all so welcoming. She has a lot of questions about the Atonement that we have been trying to figure out how to explain, but she has been really receptive and gave us her phone number and everything. Sister Mattingley found a really great talk called "His Grace is Sufficient" by Brad Wilcox that I really think will help her. So we're going to stop by again this week with the talk and a BoM and then go from there. She said that she would pray hard about everything that we talked about, so I hope that she will be able to recognize the Spirit telling her that it's true.

I'm just so excited to finally have some more potential investigators! I feel like we're finally starting to get somewhere and it feels great! I'm just so grateful for all of the blessing that Heavenly Father has given us this week and can't wait to see what will happen next!

I love you all so much! Write me letters please! :)

~Sister Kretchman