Tuesday, December 31, 2013

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

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