Tuesday, July 30, 2013

CCM Week 4 (Kegan)

Buenos Dias. The weeks here go by super fast.  It is currently around 10:30 in la mañana so I wouldn´t expect to hear all about today.  

This morning was awesome because mí compañero and I let ourselves  sleep in a whole extra 10 minutes before getting ready and heading down to breakfast.  Breakfast here is always interesting.  The kitchen have obviously been doing their best to be welcoming to the North Americans here, as the aforementioned in previous emails can attest to.  Breakfast here is regularly super soft waffles and/or crispy pancakes with the options of Hershey's chocolate or strawberry syrup, literally the ice cream syrups from Walmart.  The strawberry is actually super good on waffles. 

Today mí compañero and I also finally got to clean our apartment again this morning, it is insane how much and how fast dust and dirt build up here.  During the week you only have time for some cleaning but on P-days you can scrub the polvo santa out of your shower.  Later today we have planned to do something with our native apartment-mates Elders Blanco and Ibarra, capture the flag in the trees behind our apartment that we call our sacred grove, possibly more volleyball or fútbol, and around 4:15 a D&C sección 4 challenge with Hermano Silva and some fabled tacos. 

This past Sunday was imponente again and not just because I didn´t have to give my talk and won´t have to next Sunday (I love the testimony part of fast and testimony meeting but I still have trouble with the fast portion).  On Sunday night we all watched Legacy in our newly refurbished auditorium (I need to take pictures of it and the huge bathroom right next to it but haven´t yet) and if you haven´t seen Legacy yet do it because the man portraying Joseph Smith must be Prince Humperdinck´s twin.  I have been almost praying for Lion King before I leave but it doesn´t look like that will happen, until then it appears as if I will have to be as easily entertained as one who finds overly flirtatious characters hilarious. 

Life here really isn´t that devoid of entertainment though, true waking up with Fat Bottom Girls stuck in your head is something of a chore when you know what will happen should you break out into the chorus of the song, but almost everything else here makes up for that, especially the jugo.  I am not kidding, they have cans of the best jugo in the world at the store for only a few pesos.  Mí distríto has become obsessed with the jugo here.  The burritos here? Not so much.  I understand thinking that we would have amazing burritos here but like I´ve said, the food here is not authentic and that goes especially for the burritos, I hope.  Just a couple days ago, after we had burritos for dinner the night before, I woke up feeling slightly sick but apparently a lot of people had gotten food poisoning from those burritos.  A lot of Hermanas were on splits with other Hermanas because their compañera(s) was sick.  The same went for a couple people in mí distríto.  So just a heads up, be wary of burritos.


Kegan




Elders Stewart and Lake, Elder Stewart is the cabello rojo and Lake reminds me of Sam

A picture I did the second week of Nephi 

Joseph Smith


In which my face is blessed and we lose an investigator...literally (Bayley)

So earlier this week, Sister Barton and I were tracting, because we are, you know, missionaries, and we knocked on this door where there was this nice old lady who assured us she was quite Catholic and not at all interested but thanks for spreading the message of Jesus (this is pretty much the number one response we get when knocking doors) and then as we were leaving she just keeps talking (this happens a lot too, since a lot of the time the old people we meet are on their own and lonely) and she tells us she has cancer and we tell her we will pray for her and she goes "oh, thank you," and then she reaches up and touches my face and says to me "and I'll pray for your face."

Huh?  My face?  What?  Here's kind of what my thoughts look like at this:
Oh no what is on my face? Oh please not now please tell me I don't have food all over my face or something.  Or wait - am I sunburned?  I must be sunburned.  Wait, wait, did she just compare my face to her cancer?  We pray for her cancer and she'll pray for my face.  Oh wait maybe it's like that one girl in a Knight's Tale where everyone prays for her because she's been cursed with such a beautiful face...
Annnnd then the lady told me she has this Mary Kay "Repair" makeup and I should try and get some but until then she'll keep praying for me
.
So yeah.  That was nice.  Nothing like nice old ladies on the mission to say they'll pray for your poor face which is in need of repair to keep you humble.  Haha.

But hey!  The mission here is going super great.  Seriously.  I love it so much here.  And this week has been especially good for me learning to recognize and follow the promptings of the Spirit.  I've heard a lot from missionaries about them following promptings and knowing they needed to knock on this door or do that and I've really really wanted to be able to recognize these moments in my own mission, but kind of had a hard time for a little bit because recognizing those promptings has always been something I'm working on.  For a long time I was really hoping for a Yoda moment, you know, those times where you just hear a voice telling you something, but the truth is I don't get Yoda moments (and maybe most people don't, I don't know), instead I just have thoughts - thoughts pretty much indiscernible from my own.

Like here's a story.
The other day we were tracting around this street and Sister Barton goes "I think we should go somewhere else, I just don't feel like this is where we should be" and then she asked where we wanted to go and I was looking down our list of potentials and had the thought "hey, let's go check on that family whose house we blessed" (I think I told you that story of them just being like "hey can you bless our house?" and then we did...and that's pretty much the story) and so I told Sister Barton "lets go see that family" and she was like "okay" and then we went and knocked on their door and the woman remembered us and called her daughters out to come see us and told us all about how she wants to draw closer to God and now we're teaching her tomorrow.

BAM.  The Spirit is amazing.

And that wasn't the only experience we had like that this week.
So, moral of the story, if you are working hard and being obedient, you just are always guided by the Spirit.  
It's pretty sweet.

Hey, now time for a sad story.
So this one time we knocked on this guy's door and he was SUPER interested (I may have told you about him actually - I don't know) and we gave him a short lesson at the door and he invited us to come in and share the whole Joseph Smith story but we didn't have a member with us (mission rule: sisters can't go into a place where there isn't another woman, unless we have a female member with us) but we were like "oh that's okay, can we come back tomorrow?" and he said yes please and he'd just be here waiting and was just super excited and Sister Barton and I left grinning like idiots and high-fiving the whole way home.  Oh, and also, this guy's name was Hiero (Hyro? Gyro?) and he had a pretty heavy Hispanic accent, so we didn't quite understand everything he said.  But the next day we were back!  Member at our side and Restoration pamphlets in hand and...he wasn't there.  We were pretty bummed.  The next day we went back and some other guy opened the door and we were like "ummm...hi, is Hiero here?" and he told us that no Hiero didn't even live there (!!!) (and in that moment we realized maybe we should've asked him to repeat what he was saying about when he's home because we hadn't understood him all that super clearly) and we asked him if he knew where Hiero did live and he said maybe and gave us an address and so we went there and stumbled around an oddly organized apartment complex trying to find #147 and when we finally found it do you think it was Hiero?  No, of course not.  So that is the story of how we literally lost an investigator. Super. Bummer.  We're still trying to find him though!  And we will, Will!

Oh, and three things I've noticed about Louisiana.  At least compared to Colorado, here there are far more smokers, divorces, and nice cars.  Seriously.  Every other car here is a BMW or a Corvette or something equally fancy.  Last night we drove past the mansions on the shore of the actual Lake Charles (seriously - MANSIONS) and we were joking about how we should try a "do you want to improve the quality of your lives?  We can tell by your five-car garage and three swimming pools that you're looking for more happiness in this world" door approach.  But we didn't.  It's funny how one morning we can be in some ghetto-ghetto-GHETTO ram-shackled neighborhood and then that evening we're walking along a gold-paved sidewalk. Slight exaggeration.  But only slight.

So yeah!  Being a missionary is seriously the best.  I love it so much.  Even as we're walking down the street with blistered feet and our shirts soaked through with sweat - I love it.  Even when all I eat is peanut butter for six meals in a row (no joke) it's still the best time of my life.

Love you all,
Sister Enright

P.S. I was dead serious about that peanut butter thing.  There has been a famine of dinners the past couple weeks, for some reason, at least for the sisters.  Yesterday at church when we learned that the elders had not one but two dinners lined up for that night and since we haven't had any since... since a while, we made them feel really bad and then, plagued by guilt at the suffering of us poor sisters, they delivered dinner to us last night and we feasted like kings.  Haha.  So the peanut butter diet has been broken.

AND OH MY GOSH I FORGOT TO TELL YOU - we got our first baptismal commitment!  His name is Tim and he is that guy we met my very first day here who called to us to come visit him and the other night we went back to teach him and we taught him about faith and repentance and then baptism and I was like "Tim, will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized by someone holding the proper authority?" and he was like "yeah!  that'd be coo' " and it was pretty much the greatest thing ever and afterwards I fist bumped Sister Barton - apparently super hard, more like a punch - and now he's gonna be baptized and it's going to be amazing.  The whole time that scripture about the worth of souls was going through my head and I could just feel the love Heavenly Father has for Tim and it was amazing.  Now we just need to learn his last name, because the only time he uses it is on the phone and we can't understand him on the phone.

Sister Bayley Enright

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Narnia holes and goldfish (Rhys)

Hola, I titled this email "Narnia holes and goldfish" but I feel like I'll talk about goldfish first. One of my companions, Elder Eberhard (who is leaving tomorrow for D.C. to get his visa and a consolate signature, WHAAAAT?!), told us not too long ago about a gold fish that he had won a few years ago at a carnival and had kept for almost four years until he was told in a letter that it had died. The fish was supposedly massive and eaten all other fish that Elder Eberhard and his family had tried to give to it for companionship. To be as exact as possible, Eberhard always says that it was "this" big while holding up two fingers about 4-5 inches apart. In the letter, Eberhard's mom wrote that his dad had even tried to use CPR to bring it back to life. I'm not sure if this was a joke or not, but it comes across as pretty funny either way. I was reminded of this when Elder Cannon got a package yesterday and we could tell that the package contained a bottle of some kind of liquid inside just by holding it. After arriving back to our residence we discovered, among other things, a large mason jar with some string tied to it, a short message taped to the side ("GILL! Quick, he needs air!"), and inside of the jar was a single tiny goldfish. This made us all laugh for a bit, it was strange enough to send a goldfish in a package, but the reference to a movie (see if you can figure out what movie) reminded Cannon and I of some funny scenes in the movie. Eberhard felt a little out of the loop for a while. After feeding the fish, we decided to leave the fish in the residence hall while we went to the rest of classes, TRC, dinner, choir practice, the devotional, and the meeting and planning sessions after the devotional. When we got back to the residence hall, the fish appeared to be asleep at the bottom of the jar and Elder Cannon tried to wake it for about all of ten seconds before realizing it had died. This was kind of sad, considering that we all loved having a goldfish (even though according to the mission rules, we couldn't have a pet, that's why we thought the goldfish was funny in the first place, it looked like we were smuggling fish into the MTC). We gave him a proper flushing, but that's about the end of the story. 

Now, Narnia holes. Narnia holes are little nooks and crannies around the MTC residence halls where past missionaries have left stuff to find. In the room next to ours, one section of the ceiling was packed with pictures of missionaries who had stayed there in the past. In the hallway also in the ceiling was a box filled with glow sticks, candy and (eeeeewwww) cinnamon rolls. Not that I have anything against cinnamon rolls, but even considering that we're pretty sure it was put there just three days ago by missionaries that just left, cinnamon rolls are not an ideal thing to hide in a Narnia hole. Elder Cannon and I opened up an empty space in our own room to make a Narnia hole of our own which has a note in it, but mostly hard candy and pennies. I thought it would be cool to leave some money considering another district in our zone found one with candy and money in it, but I need most of my money, sorry. 


Rhys

My district at the temple last Sunday. In order from the left, Elders Carter, Johnson, Me, Eberhard, Cannon, Olsen, and Russon.
This has the three Elders that left to go to an intermediate class. Elder Epperson is the one next to Cannon on the left and the two to my left are McRory and my old companion Smithson.

CCM Week 3 (Kegan)

Buenas Tardes!

Or Noches, or maybe even Buenos Dias because who knows when you will be able to read this.  Today I had my second and last, for at least two years, opportunity to visit the Mexico City temple. Since you might not know exactly what that entails I´m going to explain what my district´s two temple trips have been like.  The first thing we have to do is be ready to leave and at breakfast at about 6.45, but that´s not too exciting other than the strawberry flavored yogurt drinks. Because in Mexico yogurt is a beverage.  The trip to the temple has been exciting both times for numerous reasons, the first of which is the traffic.  On our first temple trip an Hermano explained to us that the traffic here in Mexico city is too tough to handle so all across the roads speed bumps were installed to discourage fast drivers.  People here in Mexico City drive right alongside you and sometimes almost ram right into you to make an impression, both physically and metaphorically. The buildings here are oftentimes a gigantic heap of structures piled onto one another and graffitied with advertisements for literally anything and actual graffiti.  The pedestrians are almost as crazy as the drivers and leap into the middle of traffic jams to sell food and newspapers, wash windows, or just to get to where they´re going.  Along the way to and from the temple we got to see a lot of sculptures and a lot of roadside marketplaces.  The temple itself as I remember saying after my first visit is built in the design of Mayan and Aztec temples and so is very awesome.

This past week has been more or less the same as last, other than the fact that I actually got mail!!
Three letters through Dear Elder thanks to my Mom, Dad, and brother Noah.  I know I´ve gotten emails before now but an actual letter feels much more like paper, which is good.  Speaking of which I have still not actually sent a literal letter out of here yet.  My apologies.  I definitely need to send letters to Rhys, Bayley, and back home but I haven't been able to obtain stamps yet so if you guys can continue to wait, do.  
Another thing I would want to send home is pictures, not photos, but pictures that have been drawn by my two very beautiful hands.  Again stamp problems.  However, I have been using dry erase boards a lot recently and started taking pictures of what I drew to send home (and because they started getting erased by an unknown adversary).  So those pictures should be included. 


As for today,  mí compañero, Elder Tholen, and I got haircuts.  We were actually really dreading this inevitable event due to what we had seen some other missionaries end up with, but it went okay because the two very nice ladies actually knew how to cut hair and were able to give us a few tips on how to practice rolling our ¨R´s¨ which is something we have been having some trouble with.  After haircuts we went to the store and, as the angel choir, Christmas music they were playing there foretold, they had restocked their Hershey´s Cookies and Cream bars.  One of the things I love so much about this CCM is the conversion from dollars to pesos.  Hymn books and deodorant are maybe a few dollars, but ten Cookies and Cream Hershey´s bars?  45 cents sounds about right to me.  After I am finished writing most of our district and a few others should be heading over to the volleyball net because P-days really are that awesome.
Most of mí distríto waiting for a devotional. Starting from right, Hermana Welch, Hermana Milligan, Hermana Myer, Elder Stewart, Elder Lake, and Elder Richardson

Mi compañero (Elder Tholen), Hermana Tippets, and I
Elder Tholen and Elder Poulson

As close as Kegan got to seeing this movie so far!


Trash men here ride around, inside and on top of the garbage trucks



Madam Maulkin´s

Harry Potter vs Voldemort 


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

"But why will you not be baptized?" (Bayley)

Just FYI, that particular Nacho Libre quote was the most quoted movie line at the whole MTC.  Followed, of course, by "I only believe in science!"
Just sayin.

On another note - good morrrrrning everybody.  Or rather ridiculously-warm-and-humid morning, everybody.  Yesterday morning was a pouring-rain-like-Jumanji-monsoon-style morning, and I've decided I much prefer those kinds.

Anyways.
I love it here in Lake Charles. Best. Area. Ever. This past week we found a new investigator named Jeff, and I want to tell you a little bit about him because he's pretty much the best thing ever.  So Jeff referred himself on mormon.org (pretty good start, right?) after meeting some girl online who lives in Utah and told him a bit about the church.  So when we get mormon.org referrals we pretty much get the address and phone number and then we go knock on their door, and in our first meeting with Jeff he told us all about how much his past is just messed up and he's had a pretty hard life and has made lots of mistakes and in unemployed and doesn't know what to do and just wants to change and start over and he's been looking at churches and is right now going to a Pentecostal one but doesn't know how he feels about it all, especially the whole speaking in tongues thing.  Well snap.  So we kind of gave him this little what-our-purpose-as-missionaries-is lesson and asked him what it would mean to him if Christ's perfect church that He established was back on the earth today and he say "oh man, that would be heaven."
Yes. Yes it would be. Literally.

So then we talked to him a little bit and invited him to church on Sunday (this was just on Friday) and he was like "yeah sure maybe" and then guess who came to church yesterday?  Yup - Jeff.  And then it was the PERFECT sacrament meeting with talks about the First Vision and faith in Christ and the power of the Atonement and he stayed for all 3 hours and then this one brother in the ward, Brother Swan (whose wife, Candace, is pretty much like the coolest person ever and always comes out with us for lessons) who is a convert himself really fellowshipped Jeff and was talking to him and then when Jeff was talking about his job problems Bro Swan was like "hey, you know, I manage the Jason's Deli here and if you want a job I could really use another driver."  And so then Jeff got a job.  Bah, it was just so perfect and awesome and I'm so excited to go teach him again.

Another one of our investigators is Carl, and he is this awesome older guy who got a copy of the Book of Mormon 40 years ago and has been studying it for 40 years and loves the history of it and whatnot and has like written up all these papers about it and tracked the geography of it and everything, and the weird thing is that he knows it is true, and he knows the Joseph Smith story is true, but when we ask him to be baptized he says no because he doesn't believe those two things mean our church is true, which is some logic I don't quite get, but yesterday we had a really interesting lesson with him.  Sis Barton invited him to be baptized again and he said no and we asked him why, if he knows all this is true, won't he be baptized and then he gets going on this major rant about how our church puts women on the back burner and women in our church don't matter and that bothers him because the Catholics sainted Mary, after all.  And as you all know, I just love it when people tell me things like that, so I was like "Carl, we are sitting here as *women* who have been called of God to bring you this message" and oh boy that went over well and finally Sis Barton was like "Carl, this all sounds like an excuse" and then Carl was like "well yeah" and then he started yelling about how we never listen to him and Sis Barton was perfect because she was like "oh Carl, we do listen to you, now we need to leave so can we say a prayer?" (because we both know Carl is a wee bit crazy - in a good way - so we should probably leave).  So yeah.  That was interesting.  But good.

Anyways, so yeah.  Sis Barton and I have been doing a lot of tracting to build up our teaching pool, and tracting always yields interesting stories.  This one guy opened the door and came out of his house with his hands up as if he was surrendering and said "Pentecostal" and then gave us thumbs up and said "are we good?"  Then there was the one old couple that let us in and proceeded to tell us that mormonism was a cult and they were just so sad that we sweet young girls had been brainwashed and the man kept crying and telling us that Joseph Smith is not the way.  Oh, and also, SO many people here sit around their house in their underwear.  I'm serious.  I guess when it's this hot out, why bother with clothes, but too often the door is opened by some half-dressed person who is just totally okay with the fact that they're just in boxers and they wave across the street to their neighbor who is out mowing the lawn in just their underwear.  So that's different.

Meanwhile, Sis Barton and I are doing our best to be the dynamic duo (except meaning the most awesome companionship, not Batman and Robin).  We tract and teach a lot and work out every morning (she bikes next to me as I run) and there is no judgment when I sit through evening daily planning with a giant tub of Bluebell ice cream next to me.  Oh, funny story, the other night she was brushing her teeth and I had brushed before her but was rinsing with flouride rinse and so I came into the bathroom and spit it out and she looks at me with this horrified expression and says "you have blue spit?"  Haha.  Oh, and then the other day I was trying to explain Fargos pizza to her (for those of you who don't know what this is, I promise it's an amazing pizza place in Colorado Springs, even though I obviously didn't explain it well enough to my dear companion) and she was like "so...it's a pizza place where the waitresses wear high-necked lace dresses and you're surrounded by flashing numbers in mirrors and there are dead animals and mannequins and you're saying that's classy?" Yeah.  That happened.

Anyways, I love being a missionary so much.  And time goes by so fast!  This last Sunday two young men gave their mission farewell talks, and in many ways it really does feel like just last week I gave mine!  So crazy.  But being a missionary is the best.  You see so many prayers answered and so many tender mercies from the Lord each and every day.

Did I mention that I love being a missionary?
Love you all,
Sister Bayley Enright


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Pday. (Rhys)

Hi Mom, Dad, Erin, Amik, Aislin, Noah, Ronan, Liam, and Fionnula (and also Bayley and Kegan depending on whether you see this or not.)

       Today, as implied by the title is only my second P-day ever. It's odd to think of considering that it seems I have been here forever despite the days seeming progressively faster and faster. I am working right now as I type this on getting photos into the email and I hope I succeed, but the computers here are notoriously tough to get working with a camera, so we'll see. As it is Wednesday, there are flocks of new Elders y Hermanas all over the MTC campus and everyone loves saying hi to all of them. Elder Cannon and I are finally going to get haircuts today, we tried last P-day, but you can only schedule for a P-day and you have to do it in advance. So, we had to schedule last Thursday for today and it's seems like forever since I've had a haircut.

If I'm going to continue telling any stories whatsoever about my district I should elaborate a bit more concerning my district. Elder Cannon is our DL, He's the tallest currently in our district, is from Pleasant Grove Utah. Any missionary from Utah, particularly Elder Cannon, seems to know everyone on campus. My other Compañero es Elder Eberhard de California y el es muy bien at Fútbal. The three of us, Cannon, myself, y Eberhard all share a residence and next to us in the other room are the rest of our district, Elders Russon, Carter, Olsen, y Johnson. Johnson is the shortest in our district, and though he´s actually not that short, lots of puns and short jokes get thrown around which he is a good sport about. Johnson is also really good with "eclectics" and has his own speaker made out of a peanut butter jar to be hooked up to his CD player. Elder Olsen is Elder Johnson´s compañero and he really reminds me of brother Christensen. Olsen is a pretty funny guy and he and I joke around a lot. Elder Carter is Elder Russon´s Compañero and he laughs harder at all my jokes than anyone else and probably more than is actually necessary. Elder Russon is the only other one in our district other than myself that has read the Far Side and whenever we remember a particularly funny comic we´ll remind the other of it. He and I also joke around a lot like I used to with Noah, not gross jokes, but really random stuff that seems tailored to a particular type of humour. for instance, the other day he and I were talking about soup bananas, a type of banana that looks exactly like a normal banana except for the fact that it is filled with soup. Soup bananas find their way into lots of conversations now and we don´t even know how we started talking about them. I wish I had a picture of our whole district to send you guys so you could see who I´m talking about. It looks like I´ll be able to send some photos, but I don´t even have a district photo to send. I´ll be sure to get one by next P-Day.

So far, I've met three Elders going to Colorado Springs who should all be there by now. Elder Neff was best friends with my first compañero, Elder Smithson. Elder Fowers is a very recent convert who I haven´t actually met, but he gave prayers the first day for the new missionary devotional and participated in last nights devotional as well. He´s really awesome and I hope you guys get to see him in our ward. There is one more Elder whose name I can´t remember, but he is going to a Spanish speaking Colorado Springs mission.

 There are a few other things I wanted to tell you guys before logging off. Every Sunday and Tuesday there are devotionals and choir practice (we sing during every Tuesday devotional) and every Sunday, each missionary is supposed to have a talk ready in Spanish and be ready to be called on to give it. Love you guys and miss you a lot.

Rhys

Hugging his birthday cupcakes.

Elders Enright, Cannon and Eberhard

At the Provo Temple

Studying Spanish?  Haha, he didn't say,but I miss the random sketches everywhere, so I love seeing this.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

P-Day #2 (Kegan)

Okay, my last letter was pretty short because I didn´t have much time but I will do better this time.   I read Rhys´s email about the mailroom and thought it was funny because the mail room here is run by one small lady in a room the size of my old bedroom.  I have really loved reading e-mails from you guys and can´t wait for my first letter which I´ve heard should take around seven days to arrive.  I have never appreciated carpet as much as I do now, every floor here is tile, which makes kneeling to pray an occasional pain even though it´s excellente for moonwalking and skating in shoes.  

Since my last e-mail there has been so much going on that the days here really do feel like weeks and the weeks like days.  When I first got here my distríto had about six teachers but as more people show up we have had fewer and fewer teachers. We now only have two.  Growing up with a twin I thankfully grew accustomed to being with someone all the time but during my first week here and still now I find myself suddenly realizing that this is the first place I have been where Rhys has not.  I still occasionally look around the cafeteria to find his distríto or wait outside bathrooms and meeting halls waiting for him to come out.  It´s super weird and a little depressing when I realize he´s not going to. 

 Speaking of large meetings, we have had a lot of devotionals here and even more every Sunday.  Just last Sunday we watched the devotional by Richard G. Scott that I quoted almost five times in my farewell talk so I almost knew his talk by heart.  He even used my mission scripture which I was unecessarily excited about.  What was even more exciting though was when I saw Sam in the choir and had to point him out to all those adjacent.  That night we watched The Testaments and that movie has never been so entertaining.  If you had been standing outside you´d think we were watching Airplane.  It was literally about ten times funnier and ten times more emotional than ever before.  

My distríto is the best.  Our distríto leader, Elder Stewart is awesome and was the only redhead in the CCM until this past Tuesday when about two more arrived.  His companion is Elder Lake (or Lago for you Spanish speakers) and every time I have to call his name I can´t help but do so to the theme of Road to El Dorado.  Elders Tholen, Stewart, Lago, and I sat around a couple nights ago at dinner fantasizing about The Dark Knight in Español and laughing our heads off saying ¨¿Donde esta la trigger?¨ in Batman voices.  Along with two new redheads arriving this past week there was a whole new group of native missionaries.  Two of which are our new apartment-mates(?)  Elders Torres and Zorate.  I  had the opportunity to practice teaching the first lesson recently one night with Elder Torres, who speaks almost no English,  we spoke entirely in Spanish and I can truly say that the Gift of Tongues is real and powerful because without it I would not have lasted a minute trying to speak en Español that night.  For the next few weeks we will have two investigators both of which are our two teachers we see in class every day, Jesús (Hermano Cruz) and Ricardo (Hermano Finley).   Our investigator lessons were progressively getting better until our last one when I bombed trying to talk around the words I didn´t yet know, causing Elder Tholen to burst out laughing as soon as we were able to leave, and that´s laughing with me not at me, thank you very much.  

Gym time and P-days are amazing and our distríto has decided to do one gym activity a week together.  Last weeks was fútbol and while I can truly say I really enjoyed you know how well it went when I say one of the janitorial staff here stood at the fence and laughed his head off at us.  

Dillon, if you are reading this, I am the only Elder in my distríto heading to Chile Vina del Mar,  Every other Elder in my distríto is going to Concepcion and it sounds awesome partly due to the fact that there are rumored to be penguins in the Concepcion mission area.  Not only that every Elder in my distríto is awesome so you should end up with some awesome companions.    

Love
Kegan

My distríto at the CCM sign.

These fire hose things have mirrors, evidently

A giant stone head that is literally sitting in the ground a little ways from the store

This one should be obvious.

If you look closely you can see the parrot that was serenading us.

These are literally safety circles where you can run into in the case of a serious earthquake and you should be far enough away from anything so that if any structures or posts fall they will not fall on you.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Deep down in the South...where there literally is fried chicken on every corner (Bayley)

Heeeeyyyyy everybody!
And greetings from the great city of Lake Charles, Louisiana!
Yup, God totally answers prayers, and he gave me the area I wanted right from the start.  Not that I was praying I'd be in Louisiana specifically...but I really really really wanted to be.  Me and my companion, Sister Barton, are the only sisters in Louisiana!  And I will be here for at least 3 months since I am training here.  Which means that the address you should send stuff to until at least October 1 is:
1531 Country Club Road #911 (haha, yes indeed, I was amused as well)
Lake Charles, LA 70605

Since we are the furthest area from the mission home, we almost never get any mail sent to the mission home, so if you have sent anything since I've gotten here I have not received it, but actually probably will tomorrow since tomorrow we have president interviews - but after that you should send things to the above address to rest assure that I received them.

Anyways, we have a HUGE area here - so big we can't actually cover it all with the few miles we are given, which is kind of lame.  But there are very few members here.  We have three sets of missionaries in the Lake Charles ward here because it covers three mission areas the members are so few and far between. Surprisingly though, and thankfully so, even with two sets of elders and a set of sisters, the members come through and get us fed most nights, which is awesome because Louisiana food is THE BOMB.  So the members here are pretty awesome.

Anyways, since I didn't get a chance to email last Monday as I was on a plane headed for Texas (also I finally got a window seat! and so pretty much spent the entire flight with my face plastered to the window staring out at the clouds.  Also on our first flight - we flew from Salt Lake to Dallas, then Dallas to Houston - some of the missionaries had first class seats!  I wasn't among them, but they totally got like breakfast and everything.  So yeah pretty much anytime they complained about anything else the rest of the way there be it hunger or tiredness or what, I told them I had no sympathy because they'd gotten first class.  Poor babies) so I feel like first I need to catch you up a bit on my final days at the MTC!

First of all, we totally got to watch fireworks on the 4th of July.  Classes and appointments were cancelled that night and we had a special 4th of July broadcast in which we sang lots of songs and they let us applaud inside the chapel which was super weird and also made us all want to applaud for every speaker and everything the rest of the night and then we also watched 17 Miracles, and there was much sniffling and tears heard throughout the chapel the entire time.  And then they let us go outside and gave us ice cream and we watched the fireworks from the Provo Stadium of Fire performance and could even hear some Kelly Clarkson.  We also got to stay out till like 11, and my goodness I felt so alive - 11pm, seriously?!  Like royalty.

Other things about the MTC.  Oh, well I quickly developed a reputation in my district for being the "scary" and "intimidating" sister, and though I'm not quite sure how I earned that reputation, I didn't mind.  One of the elders said that I gave this look that pretty much said "after our missions I will hunt you down and kill you" which made me very happy as that is a skill I've been practicing since I was like 3.  Also at one point, I can't remember how the story came up, but I shared the story where we were in Massachusetts and I lost my pocket knife inside a roller coaster simulator thingamajig and then Elder Ard was like "you carried a pocket knife?" and I was like "yeah" and then they asked how old I was and I said like nine and then the elders were all "YOU CARRIED A POCKET KNIFE WHEN YOU WERE NINE YOU WERE A CRAZY GIRL" and made knife jokes from thereon out, and then also when I asked them why they thought it was weird they said that little boys carry pocket knives but little girls don't and you can imagine how I reacted to that so then they also liked to make feminist jokes because they knew how much I enjoyed that.  But yes!  I loved the MTC.  I learned so much there in so few days and it really was kind of bittersweet to leave, but now I'm in Louisiana, and loving it.

Since I've arrived here, I've realized there are a few things I took for granted in the great state of Colorado:
1) Sidewalks.  There are NO SIDEWALKS HERE.  Or bike lanes.  Or anything other than the road.  We walk quite a bit too, in order to save our miles (and also because my bike isn't here yet - except even if it was I don't know how I would ride since there are no sidewalks or any bicycle friendly accommodations whatsoever) and you're pretty much walking right on the road and I don't want to say that I've had some near death experiences with crazy drivers, but let's just say they don't even swerve or anything they just fly past you a bajillion miles over the speed limit a foot from your elbow.
2) Clean water.  Remember all those times I poked fun at Kegan and Rhys having no clean water in South America?  Welp, here you can't drink the water either, so all our water we buy bottled, and yesterday I was running out and having to ration it and that's definitely a new experience for me.
3) A ketchup-mustard-mayo-free cheeseburger. Enough said.
4) Air!  I mean, I'm sure there is air here, but it's hard to breathe in through all the water that's clogging it all up.  The crisp air of Colorado is gone, and it's just humid and muggy here, and every time I mention it people tell me it only gets worse and just wait for September.

Anyways, other things.  Louisianans are very affectionate.  The nicest people ever, no joke, but also really fond of hugging and all that.  Which is great.  Actually my first day here, after dropping my stuff off at the apt and going out to teach, our new investigator Terrance, who is this super sweet older guy, gave us both hugs and kisses on the cheek at the end of the lesson, haha.  Also, funny thing, everyone here thinks my name is really weird!  This one time we'd tracted a house and the man wasn't interested but we'd shared our names and a short message and he had me repeat my name like four times and as we walked away we could here him, as he closed the door, laughing and muttering "Enright."  It's funny, because I never thought my name was particularly odd, but people here certainly think so.

There are also quite a very sketchy places here in Lake Charles.  The other day, for instance, Sister Barton and I tracted into a drug deal which was a bit awkward to say the least and then after that we were still knocking on doors when I just felt unsafe and that we should go so I turned to Sister Barton and was like "we should go" and she said "yeah I was just about to say that" so we left.  So thank goodness for the Holy Spirit.

Also, people here are all very religious which is both a blessing and a curse at times.  A lot of people are Catholic, but there is also this huge Pentecostal church here, Living Way, and every time we tract someone who says they go to Living Way as we leave I say "Living Way!" in a Seinfeld-saying-"Newman" way because it's so true!  This one time even we were talking to this man who was very open and asking all these questions when then suddenly his Living Way minister showed up and was like "I feel the need to pray here with y'all" so we did and then we had to leave.  Prayer here is different too - the first time we asked someone if we could pray at an appointment they were really into it and then stood up and Sister Barton stood up and I was like "um, okay" and then we all stood in a circle and held hands and kind of each person in the circle prayed, except just Sister Barton or myself says the prayer when it gets to us.  Also while someone else is praying, the other people talk out a lot, saying things like "oh yes, oh yes, praise the Lord, Hallelujah Jesus" and the first time that happened to me while I prayed it was a bit distracting.  So one of the difficulties we face is that these people are all very very religious and love Christ and God and though some are open to receiving more truth, which is what we tell them, others are less thrilled about that.  But so many people even if they aren't interested tell us what great work we're doing.  We do a lot of tracting because our teaching pool here is so small, but I've come to really love tracting.  It's amazing what short messages you can share just at the door and most people are pretty open to it.  One lady the other day, after turning us down at the door, came running back out and asked if we'd come back and bless her home, so we went back and said a prayer with her and her family, and that was just so amazing.

We do have some investigators though!  Which is really cool.  Our newest investigator's name is Tim, and let me tell you the story.  So Tuesday night, the night I arrived here, Sister Barton and I went out and met with some investigators and then were tracting when this guy driving down the street stops and yells out to us "y'all Jehovahs Witnesses?" and Sister Barton called back "no sir, we are from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!" and then we went up to his car and he told us he used to meet with two guys from our church several years ago and could we please come over and he gave us his address and phone number and then we went over a couples days later and he was so excited and told us all about how he wants to change and fix things in his life and was just so prepared for our message it was amazing.  Even though much of our tracting and whatnot proves fruitless it seems, I know that God rewards us for our obedience and hard work because he gives us our investigators!  Both Tim and our other newest investigator, Brenda, who was a referral from mormon.org, are wonderful blessings from God.  It's amazing.

Another cool thing about the mission is that we have here "hour of power" each Thursday night at 6pm.  That is the hour that the First Presidency goes in to the temple specifically to pray for missionary work, and so we have a brief lesson with a member family on miracles and then pray for miracles and then go out and tract for that hour.  And it's amazing.  You just feel the spirit so strongly and during that hour are just hyper aware of the great work you're part of.

My companion and trainer, Sister Barton, is awesome.  She's very dedicated to exact obedience and working hard, so the two of us get a lot done together - even if "a lot done" just means lots of miles walked and doors knocked on.

I LOVE being a missionary.  Seriously.  The joys I've felt and the love I've felt for people I've just met is incredible.  I love being able to feel the Spirit with me all day, and I love knowing that I am part of God's army doing His work and bringing souls unto him.

I love you all!  Thanks for all your support and letters and prayers.  

Love,
Sister Bayley Enright


First Week Provo MTC (Rhys)

Picking up his mail on P-day


Hola mi familia,


I’m not going to even try to write this whole thing in Spanish, maybe next time.  Thanks for all the letters and (I’m assuming) emails.  I haven’t been able to check email yet because our P-day is Wednesday and even though that was our first day, we didn’t get it as a P-day due to all of the work we had to do. Once Wednesday gets here I’ll be sure to email as well.  My flight here was pretty terrible, take off was fun and so were the occasional dips and the landing.  Overall though, it was just really small, cramped,and it smelled like you’d expect it to if you crammed plenty of people into a small airplane.  
I met up with Jance and Sarah just fine and we drove to Provo. We ate at a place called Burger Supreme and when we ordered the manager asked if I was on my way to the MTC. Obviously I answered yes and my meal was free.  Several of the workers there even asked me where I was serving.  Sarah and Jance showed me where Jance is staying now and and where they both would be staying once they’re married.  Oh! By theway, fry sauce is a huge thing in Utah, a fry dip that’s just ketchup and mayo. Blech! Anyways, the place Sarah and Jance are going to stay is just down the road from the MTC.  
Once they dropped me off,I got shown around and given my badges and whatnot.  After that was my first class of the MTC and we had to ask permission to speak English.  I met my companion, Elder Smithson and my district (Elders Cannon, Mcrory, Johnson, Olsen, Carter, Russon, Eberhard and Epperson).  What’s really weird is that Elders Cannon (DL), Mcrory, and Smithson (with whom I share a room) all look vaguely familiar.  Oh and Spencer Slaugh was my Zone Leader when I first got here and it was nice for both of us to see someone we knew. It was pretty awesome. What’s odd is that I already have lost my first companion to the intermediate class.  Elder Smithson is pretty good at Espanol.  Just a head’s up to all of you planning on serving a mission; I know you can’t know for sure where you’ll be sent,but pick a language (more likely than not, Spanish) and learn as much as possible. Study it and I don’t mean study as in just learn, but really study it to it’s core.  Conjunctions, tenses, infinitives, and so on will come in handy.  Anyways my Spanish has noticeably improved which isn’t saying much, but still bien.  
We’ve had a few firesides and devotionals, the best of which was Brother George Durrant’s.  Sunday’s sacrament service was really really weird as my first Sunday without you guys, but I survived.  If you couldn’t tell already, this letter has been in progress for a number of days.  It’s hard to find time here to do anything extra.  I also haven’t been able to get any pictures as of yet due to the tight schedule, but I’ll get as many as I can as soon as I can.  My P-day is Wednesday so we’ll see if you even get this first (probably not).  I’m writing now fromthe eighth and I’m a tad interested how my birthday will be tomorrow, different is the only thing I’m sure of.  The MTC cafeteria (jumping all over the place here, sorry) is alright, occasionally surprisingly good.  The whole cafeteria smells like a school cafeteria though and that can put my whole appetite a bit off.  I don’t want to say anything negative though, ‘cause most of the food is really good, particularly the cold cereal.
 My teacher when I first arrived was Hermano Doug, but he was just subbing for Hermano Payne who was on a honeymoon or something cause he got married two months after getting back. Hermano Doug was awesome and amazing and he’s going to teach at the Mexico City MTC in about two weeks.  It’ll be awesome if he ends up teaching Kegan, Hermano Doug is great.  Also, starting on our second day each companionship had to start teaching an ‘investigator’--actually one of the teachers here, but an investigator to us--and he speaks only Spanish, it’s been interesting to say the least.  



Thanks for being awesome

                            Rhys

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Houston! (Bayley)

Bayley's P-Day this week was occupied in traveling to the Texas Houston East mission, which they like to refer to as T.H.E. mission.  So we did not get an email from her.  We did get a phone call from the Dallas airport though and it was awesome to hear her voice.  And the mission office sent us pictures of her arrival in Houston.

Twenty-one new missionaries! (including nine sisters!)

Bayley with President and Sister Crawford.

 Sister Barton (the previously unnamed, but thanks to a FB tip no longer, companion), and Bayley.
                           


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Mexico CCM Week 1 (Kegan)

Hola mi familia!

Tuesday is my P-day for my stay here at the MTC so expect my e-mails each following Tuesday for about four more weeks. Thank you so much for all the letters guys, I almost took up half the time I have to write reading them and muchas gracias for the Beef Jerky. You guys must have lived with me for  almost 19 years.  The Mexico City CCM is fantastic and the only downside to having come here is that Rhys didn´t come too.  The food here is positively amazing.  Funnily enough, on the night I arrived here we had pizza for dinner as the kitchen were obviously doing their best to welcome us North Americans, pizza was breakfast the next day too.  However I learned something about the way people here eat their pizza which is to say they literally drench it in hot sauce and eat it like a salad.  It hasn´t stopped with the pizza either.  We have been having a definitively North American meal about every other day.  On Fast Sunday lunch was Cheeseburgers and I was so hungry I nearly cried with joy at the sight of them.  The cafeteria is like a dreamland where excellent meat is served with every meal and boxes of Fruit Loops and Coco Krispies are snatched by the first takers.  My companion here is Elder Tholan and I could not have asked for a better companion.  During gym time we both like to head to the gym and lift weights that deny my family´s warnings simply by existing.  Our classes are held with our Distríto and our teacher is primarily Hermano Finley who is the most optimistic guy I have ever met.  We have also had numerous teachers rotate in and out of class helping coach us and assist us with the idioma de Español.  I am learning Spanish much faster than I could have hoped for.  When we arrived there were a lot of native Elders and Hermanas, plus Elder Tholan has already had about three years of Spanish and speaks it very well so in our investigator lessons it´s a sink or swim situation.  The weather here is beautiful and reminds me of summer in Colorado, as in I was able to put my umbrella to use on my first full day here.  The CCM has it´s own water treated and so it´s safe to drink even though we were given filter water bottles on our first day.  I don´t know what they mean by filter though because the water that comes through the filter tastes bad while the unfiltered water tastes like Colorado´s (excelente). I am not the only twin in my Distríto either.  Elders Roberts and Watson are both twins.  Elder Roberts' twin brother is actually in the Provo MTC right now preparing to serve in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  So let Rhys know because he will probably be in his classes up there.  Sleeping here is hard.  Every building is cement and so usually the doors are left open and windows are always open.  meaning that every night my companion and I get to listen to what sounds like dying dogs, police sirens, and karaoke bars.  Preparation day being my birthday has been awesome.  This morning we went to the templo, which is designed after the temples of the Aztec and Mayan people minus the sacrifices on top part, they still put the Angel Moroni on top.  We had flan with lunch and stuck 'candles' in mine (i.e. cherry stems).  
As I said the Beef Jerky was amazing and a life saver. I opened it while doing laundry with some of my Distríto, as you should be able to tell from the photos the dryers here are huge.  I am running out of time so I just want you guys to know how much I miss you but also that I am having an amazing time here in Mexico. 

Muchas amor (amour?)

Kegan

P.S.  I just wanted to let you guys that even though my umbrella is in my apartment and it is currently pouring rain like I have never seen I am still very grateful for it.

View over the CCM


Elders Tholan and  Enright
Birthday Flan.


Doing laundry?  Oddly enough... this may not be the only dryer Kegan has ever climbed into.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

MTC Report Day, Rhys

Rhys left this morning for the Provo MTC.  It was our third visit to the Colorado Springs airport in seven days, and it has been an emotionally draining week.  Rhys' flight was delayed, which left some time for wrestling with little siblings before the goodbyes.  He was met in Salt Lake City by his cousin Sarah and his soon to be cousin-in-law, Janceton, whose wedding in July he will miss. They fed him lunch, delivered him safely to Provo for us, and provided pics to prove it. 











                                       





Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Arrival in Mexico City (Kegan)

Hello Mom, Dad, Erin, Rhys, Amik, Aislin, Noah, Ronan, Liam, and Fionnula.  First of all, I have safely arrived in Mexico City as this e-mail attests to. After I left you guys at the security checkpoint I made it to my flight and sat next to little girl who was flying alone and reminded me very much of you Fionnula and not just because she slept the whole way to Atlanta.  The airport in Atlanta was humongous and it took me almost an hour to walk to to my terminal even though I didn´t get lost once.  It was at the terminal for my flight to Mexico City that I met Elders Otterson and Hutchinson and Sister Tippits ( I may have spelled each and every one of those names wrong), but Elder Otterson is from Colorado and is serving in Vina del Mar too and Elder Hutchinson is going to serve in Concepcion.  But we found each other easily enough.  When we arrived at Mexico City we had about five leaders from the MTC and one return missionary meet us and we found out we are the first International group of missionaries to come to this MTC.  We were also interviewed and photographed repeatedly and told we would be on the church´s news site soon.  After we had already arrived and were waiting for another Elder I was pulled aside and asked to redo my entry from the luggage claim so they could photograph my being greeted, so if you see a picture of me at glass doors with white stripes and only some of my luggage, just know that those pictures were taken around 10 minute after I had already arrived.  there are already three Elders here who are going to serve in Vina del Mar and three from Colorado, me included.  Mexico City is enormous, I got a great view of it as I got a window seat for my flight from Atlanta to Mexico.  The streets here are narrow and the buildings are literally completely different from every other building.  The MTC here is absolutely gorgeous and green everywhere.  I have my room but no rommmate yet and I look forward to being able to tell you guys all about what I do next here.  Thank you all for your letters this morning, I miss you all desperately,  I do hope you get this before Rhys leaves and just remember that I love you all.

Pictures from Kegan's Departure Day

Kegan's MTC (CCM in Spanish) report day is the same as Rhys', July 3rd.  But because he is going to the Mexico City MTC (CCM) his travel day was a day earlier.  So his flight was this morning at 6:20 am.  We were surprised to see the airport considerably busier at 5 this morning than it was at 7 last week when we brought Bayley.  Some pictures from Kegan's goodbyes: