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

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Letter #2 (Sept. 30 2013)

Welp, I've made it to my second P-Day (Preperation Day. The day the missionaries have time set apart to shop/email/clean/etc.) out in the field! I realized that in just a few days, I'll have been out for a month! Crazy! It doesn't even kind of feel like it's been that long. 

Things have continued to be interesting this past week. On Tuesday I went to Sister Mattingley's six week meeting with the mission president and everyone that had gone out with Sister Mattingley. President Becerra said that I was getting a "double dose" of him since I had just gone to my new missionary orientation a couple of days before. The whole day was spent traveling again, and then my companion and I met up with another companionship to go on exchanges. The other companionship was Sister Ackley (Sister Mattingley's trainer) and Sister Onekawa (Sister Mattingley's MTC comp). Sister Ackley came back to Walnut (her last area) with me, and Sister Mattingley went to Covina with Sister Onekawa. It's funny, Wednesday is pretty much the closest thing that I've had to a regular proselyting day since I got here, and I wasn't even with my own companion! I was able to meet some of the less actives in the ward that day. I also taught a lesson to an investigator. Well, sort of.

Matt is a single dad with two YW aged girls and a ten year old son. The girls have been baptized (they're mom is a member) but the dad and son have not. Because he's a single male, we need to have a female member come with us to teach him. The person that we were originally going to bring ended up being unable to come. So we had to call around at the last minute so that we wouldn't have to reschedule. A sister agreed to come with us. The lesson ended up all over place and I really don't know how much was understood.  BUT, he not only brought his girls to a sports night that was held at the church on Saturday, he also came to church for the first time this Sunday! I'm so happy that he came! Teaching him this week will be interesting because of how crazy the lesson was last week, but I'm anxious to see how he felt about church.

Anway, Wednesday was the first of a few big food days. Two of the sisters that we went to visit gave us food while we were there. The first sister gave us animal crackers and some sort of yummy passion fruit juice in a can. Then we went to see another sister who gave us water bottles, an apple each, and a Chinese moon cake (a lot heavier than it looked. Tasted okay. And then before we knew it, she was making us home made corn tortillas. It was really funny, she asked us if we wanted butter and cheese on the tortillas. She piled on a crazy amount of cheese onto Sister Ackley's tortilla, and then put a glob of butter (just dropped it on, didn't spread it around at all) and then piled a load of cheese onto mine as well. It was really tasty, but kind of gross to eat a bite of tortilla with a big ol' slab of butter on it. 

The next day we had a Relief Society activity called "Become Like Hymn" which was all about how we worship through music. It was really neat. A couple from the ward did a little presentation and then just had people stand up, tell their favorite hymn, why it's their favorite, and then we would all sing the first verse. The Spirit was so strong it was amazing! There was a lot of good food there as well.

Then there was Friday and Saturday's dinners. Oh man. On Friday we had a huge dinner at this older couple's house and then they cut into this massive cake. I mean like this cake could feed Africa massive. The slices weren't that thick, but the cake has four layers and so they were still huge slices. And then they gave us each a huge scoop of ice cream as well. We all just sat and stared at it for a second, trying to figure out how to tackle it. I said that I felt like the fat kid from Matilda with that huge cake. Crazy. It was really good, but I only managed to eat the bottom layer, so not even half of the cake. One of the elders ate all of his dessert. I'm still not sure how. He's not very big. Then the couple gave us the rest of the cake to take home. A little bit more than half of a cake. A little more than half of the mother of all cakes. I've eaten a teensy bit of it, and then we've shared a bunch of it since then. We still have a bunch though.

Then the next day we had the fanciest dinner of my life. This couple's house is huge, super nice-looking with chandeliers and extraneous forks. We ate a four course dinner with a salad first (I used the wrong plate, but did use my salad fork), then biscuits, then some kind of fancy salmon, then a huge frosted brownie with ice cream. We all just kind of looked at each other, remembering yesterday's cake, and then dug in. I didn't manage to finish that one either. All of these dishes were (supposed to be) on different plates using different forks and then the spoon for dessert. It was all really tasty, but it made me even more aware than usual that I am not a very sophisticated person, especially because I'd dead clumsy. I can't seem to make it through a single dinner without spilling some food/knocking something over. Oh well.

This week we hardly have any dinner appointments, which is probably good because I've started to feel really sick again, probably from all of the crazy portions of food that I've had every day for the past few days. So I really need to be careful about how much and what I eat.

Now that I've finished telling everyone how fat I am (haha) I'll tell you about my bike!

We picked up our bikes on Thursday and I was little bit nervous. I know how to ride a bike, but last time I tried, I got really really sick. And this time I'd be wearing a skirt. It has actually gone about a million times better than I thought that it would, but it's definitely been an adjustment. First of all, I didn't know that bikes could have different gears like a car. So when there were extra switches (for lack of a better word) on my handlebars, I was really confused. I still don't really understand which gear I'm supposed to be in when, so I just toggle around until it feels okay when I pedal.

The skirt thing has been a challenge though. Before I left, I bought some spandex shorts to wear under my skirt just in case I ended up on a bike. But it turns out that they are completely unhelpful because the legs just roll up so don't cover anything. So I've had to be super careful the last few days. I got some leggings today though, so it should be loads better now.

Anyway, I really need to finish up, so I'll tell you my funny story about doors. This actually happened last week, but I forgot to write about it in my last email. 

So almost all of the doors here have either a peephole, or huge glass panes with different designs. So we knock on this door of a less active sister. We see someone come to the door, peer out through some of the non-cloudy glass, and then walk away. A second later, another lady comes over to the door and then walks away. The first lady just keeps walking back and forth, peering out every so often (we would smile and wave when she did this), but never answered the door! Finally we were just going to leave when a car pulled in. The sister that we were looking for was in there. It was SO funny though! My comp and I couldn't stop laughing after we left her. I mean, it's bad enough when we hear people walk to the door and just know that they're standing there silently looking through the peephole, but these ladies knew that we could see them. It was great.

Anyway, I really need to wrap up, sorry this is so long! Thank you to everyone that's been writing/emailing me! I really appreciate it! I love you all!

~Sister Kretchman

Ps-I'm trying to add some pictures to this email. But I'm not sure if they'll show up because this computer isn't liking my camera too much, but if they do come up, there should be a picture of the moon cake, Sister Mattingley with the left over cake, me with the left over cake, and I think a picture of the four of us from the exchange. (Sister Ackley is the short one with curly hair, Sister Mattingley is the tall blond, and Sister Onekawa is Asian with glasses, she's from New Zealand and has a sweet accent haha) But we'll see.

The pictures didn't end up coming through :(

Note with Letter #1 (Sept. 23 2013)

I forgot to say before:

I don't live in an apartment. We live with an older couple from the ward. Their house is really nice and they have two sweet little dogs. They're really nice. They just left for a cruise yesterday though, so now we have the house to ourselves except that their son, daughter-in-law, and little grandkids are going to be in and out sometimes. They're really nice too, but it's hard to study with a tickle-me-elmo echoing around the house. But oh well. 

Apparently we'll  be moving in with a single sister at some point. I haven't met her yet. I really thought that we'd have our own apartment, but it sounds as though most of the mission lives with members because of how expensive rent is in CA. We'll figure it out though I'm sure.

I love you all!

~Sister Kretchman

Letter #1

So I arrived in CA on Tuesday. It was a crazy day. We woke up at 1:45 AM, so I got about an hour and a half of sleep, went to the travel office to turn in our room keys and stuff, then took a bus, then two different trains, to get to the airport. My plane left around8:50 and arrived at 10 something I think. Then we were off to the Arcadia Stake center for lunch, pictures, and to find out who are trainers were. It's so crazy, I don't know if I told you before, but in my zone (group of missionaries) in the MTC, me and two other sisters were the only ones going to Arcadia while the whole rest of the zone went to Roseville, CA. Well we were actually the only sisters to arrive in Arcadia that day period. All the rest were elders. 

My mission president, President Becerra, and his wife are so nice! They were very welcoming and seem really dedicated to missionary work, it's really great. We took some pictures with them and then ate lunch. Then there was some down time while we waited for the missionaries from the Mexico MTC to arrive. I took a mini-nap on one of the benches in the chapel (Sister Becerra recommended it).

Then we all came back together to meet our trainers(the first companion that a missionary has is called their "trainer", clearly, they will be training the new missionary on rules/teaching/their area/etc). One of the assistants (to the president of the mission) read them out I think. The assistant would call out the trainer's name, then the greenie (new missionary), and then the two would come up to the front, hug, and then the trainer would show the new missionary where they were going. It was funny because all of the elders would do a quick hug with a couple of loud pounds on the back while us sisters were a lot more gentle. 

My trainer is Sister Mattingley. She's really great, but it's been really hard because she's only been out for six weeks! So she doesn't really know what she's doing either and hasn't finished her own twelve week training regimen yet. She's trying really hard though and already knows the area pretty well. It's a lot more difficult now that the mission has gone car-less though. We're still trying to figure out which buses to take and schedules and everything. Her bike arrived on Saturday, but mine's still on its way.

 So my first week (at least most of a week, it will have been a week tomorrow) was pretty crazy. The day I arrived, we were supposed to drive home (we were allowed cars to transport luggage and stuff), get settled, and do our daily planning for the next day right away so that us new missionaries could get to bed early. However, there was A LOT of traffic on the way to Walnut (my area) from Arcadia, so by the time we got home, we had to turn around to go to dinner. But the car had to stay in the driveway, so a member picked us up and brought us to dinner. Right after that we had an appointment. THEN I unpacked a little bit, had weekly planning, showered, and went to bed. Not early. So I was exhausted the next day from lack of sleep the night before, and then just how busy the day was then. But we went to a couple of appointments, including a final review before a baptism that we had this Saturday.

Seth Estrada is nine years old. First baptism and I just got here! Haha.
 I've become pretty close with one of his sisters, she's a freshman in high school. We're trying to help the entire family. Apparently most of them were baptized about five years ago, but then went inactive. And then all of a sudden Sister Estrada asked the missionaries to teach Seth so that he could be baptized.

The baptism was kind of hectic because neither Sister Mattingley or I know how to properly put together a baptism and all of the planning was in just a couple of days. We ended up doing almost everything for it. We felt really bad because the water was too hot. It had felt okay when we put our hands in, but apparently it was not. Seth was pretty good about it though. Overall, it was kind of crazy, but it was nice to see how excited his sisters were for him. Now we are focusing on keeping their family active. Sarah and Ellie (two of the sisters) were set apart in the Mia Maid (group of teenage girls) presidency on Sunday, so hopefully that will help keep them motivated. They're really good though, I'm not so much worried about them as I am about their mom. She seems like she is trying to do the right thing, but I'm not sure that she completely understands the importance of enduring to the end after baptism. We're going to try our best to help them out though, they're really a sweet family.

Anyway, earlier that day actually, we spent the entire day at an Emergency Preparedness fair that our ward put together. We tried to talk to some people about the church, but I don't know who there were members and who were not, so it was really hard to figure out who to talk to/what to say. We did do one church tour though with one of the volunteers from one of the booths.

The days in-between Wednesday and Saturday weren't super productive. The beginning of Thursday was spent in district meeting. All of Friday was spent back with President Becerra for the new missionary orientation and then traveling home. It took us ages to get home by bus (we drove the car back and left it there). One good thing though was that I talked to a guy on the bus about the gospel a little bit and got his contact information to give to the elders in the ward. All of our appointments on those in-between days fell through and so we some time passing out flyers for the Emergency Prep fair and stuff like that. It has been frustrating that we haven't really been able to teach much at all this week. However, it wasn't your typical week either with the different meetings and activities and everything, so I'll just look forward to a better week this week and see what happens.

I look forward to getting to know the area more and working hard to learn more about contacting and everything. I know that with the Lord's help, we could make this into the most effective area of the mission. We are kind of training each other, so it won't be easy, but the Lord knows what he's doing and I trust him.

I love you all so much and can't wait to hear from you! Please send letters! I found out that I'll really only receive those about once a week as well as the emails, but it's still better because I have more time to read them if not a lot of time to write back. 

Have a great week!

~Sister Kretchman