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