Monday, December 29, 2014


I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.  I sure did.  My family is even more wonderful than I remembered.

If y'all don't have a reputation among children of giving out stickers, I would highly recommend developing one.  I started carrying around stickers about a month ago becuase it's a fun way to contact - "Oh, your child is so adorable!  Can I give her a sticker?"  And then the kid gets really excited and it's a lot easier to talk to the parent.  And now all the kids in Adjuntas know I give out stickers.  Christmas Eve we were contacting (endlessly - no one wants an appointment these days) and we passed the street children of la calle del agua and one little girl screamed, "Quiero un sticker!" and I yelled back, "Quieres un sticker?"  SWARM.  It's so fun.

Keep spreading the word!  It doesn't matter if you have a little black nametag or not - we're all missionaries here.

Hermana Kirkland

Monday, December 22, 2014

My beloved brethren, both by blood and in the Lord,
I am busy arranging my CHRISTMAS CALL so don't have a lot of time for you.  So I'll just bear my testimony.  I know that my Redeemer lives.  He was born in humble circumstances but will return in glory.  Because of Him we can be forgiven of our sins, we can repent and become new again.  Our Heavenly Father loves us, and we will be able to live as families forever in the kingdom of God.  I know these things to be true for myself.  I love you all and I will see you in a year.
I can't wait to talk to my family!
Hermana Kirkland

Monday, December 15, 2014

People outside of Puerto Rico,

It is the Christmas season and the people here have decided that since they can't literally feed the baby Jesus, they can at least feed the representatives of Jesus Christ.  So much food, I literally can't handle it.  My companion and I laugh all the time about it.  Especially because it is apparently a cultural thing that if you are offered food/"juice"/whatever you absolutely must take it.  We just bought breakfast food this week.  It's good because I'm definitely going to run out of money this month :)  I'm pretty sure that the reason they give you so little is because they want you to learn how to budget and stay out of debt when you are older and married.  Also Adjuntas is tiny and expensive.  I miss Walmart.

Well I basically never have time.  We were "practicing praying" with a group of kids and an investigator yesterday, and we all listed something we're grateful for and something we need.  The something I needed was "more hours in the day."  I can't believe we're halfway through December already.

I love you all!  Look forward to Christmas, and spriritually prepare for it too!

Hermana Kirkland

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

My dear friends,

Just wanted to let you all that I'm still alive and kicking, Hermana Cristobal is awesome, and I love you!  Hopefully I'll have time to write more next week (but hey, that probably won't happen).    D+C 4:2!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hermana Kirkland

Monday, December 1, 2014

Dearest relations,

First of all, y'all forget how little information seeps through in the mission, so instead of a general plea for letters (seriously though), I'll ask a specific question - anyone heard of mission calls for Sara Eatough or Kyme Lambson?  Actually anything in respect to mission calls/ engagements would be nice.

I feel sorry for all of you people out there in not-America because here in slightly-America we celebrate Thanksgiving with a vengeance.  Yucca instead of mashed potatoes, rice instead of yams, stew instead of gravy, but lots of turkey.  I brought the apple pie :)  We actually had two Thanksgiving dinners, one at a member's house, one at a less active part member family's house.  So much food, it was incredible.

This week was a party week.  It was Hermana Gutierrez's last week, which meant working our tail ends off as she tries to tie up all the loose ends in Adjuntas, and also literally all of Adjuntas wanted to give her food and presents (and as her companion I definitely benefit).  I guess when you baptized 15 people over the space of 9 months the branch gets kind of attached to you, which manifested itself yesterday when they threw her a surprise farewell party after church.  They really love her (me too, but it's not the same).

Transfers are this week, and I remain here!  4 transfers.  I guess I'm a stayer?  Not a bad thing.  My new companion is Hermana Cristobal who is latina and that is all I know about her.  We'll see!

Keep going, preach the word!
Hermana Kirkland

Monday, November 24, 2014


It is a little weird being with a companion who is dying (going home).  It's like being reminded of your own mortality.  It doesn't help that she's basically the opposite of trunky, in that she is doing all she can to not go home (to the extent that the President explained to me the reasons that he can't extend her so I can reexplain it to her everytime she obsesses over it.  I've done this at least 10 times).

The weather continues to freak me out.  It's like everyone just decided to put their Christmas decorations up in July.  I don't do well without seasons.

Olga, who is basically the sweetest ever, is 100% ready for baptism but can't be baptized because her husband won't give her permission.  It is intensely frustrating.

We made a new companion inside joke this week when I sang Santos Avanzad (Press Forward, Saints) in the style of Grease Lightning.

This week we're having a mission tour by Elder Martinez of the second quorum of the seventy.  Super excited.  He spoke in conference (he's the one who mentioned Puerto Rico all the time.  Because he's from Puerto Rico.  Puerto Rico Puerto Rico).

I hope you all have a good Thanksgiving!  Shoutout to my sister who becomes a legal adult this week.  You go Claire!  Don't die in the shopping spree on Friday!

Love you all,
Hermana Kirkland

Monday, November 17, 2014


I got on early today and so have basically no email in my inbox.  This is going to make next week really frustrating when I have twice as much mail and the same amount of time.

We had a bunch of baptismal dates fall this week - one because she's not prepared, one because he doesn't have permission from his mom, and one because she doesn't have permission from her husband.  We still have two and hopefully will get a third tonight, but it's always frustrating when people can't progress, especially when it's not their fault.

I love you all, and I love this gospel!
Hermana Kirkland

Monday, November 10, 2014


There is nothing safe about driving in Puerto Rico.  I am 100% certain that they keep the roads in bad condition just so that people have to drive slower.  You know things are interesting when the general thought is that instead of pulling over for an ambulance you should keep pace with it.  So rule #4 is Seatbelts.

Fortunately we have almost no permission to use the car.  This is a walking mission.  And this week we had an assignment to "hable con todos."  This means contacting.  Contacting can actually be really fun, if a little scary, and it's a great opportunity to talk to someone besides your companion.  We had a contact yesterday who told us basically her whole life story and cried a lot.  Some people really take the "representative of Jesus Christ" thing really seriously (me included).

All is well on the island!  Lots of love from me to you.

Hermana Kirkland

Monday, November 3, 2014


Well I don't have a lot of time left.  We did service with the stake in Ponce on Saturday, which was awesome.  We distributed information about Dengue and the Chikungunya (insert spinning around three times, crossing yourself and spitting to ward off evil).  Here's a tip: if you want some flyers distributed, give them to missionaries and tell them it's service.  Also, Ponce is like an oven.  It made me really glad I'm in Adjuntas, which is not as much like an oven.

I love you all very much!

Hermana Kirkland

Monday, October 27, 2014

All my friends,

This week we had Stake Conference which was SOOOO GOOOOD.  Elder Claude R. Gaviette was presiding, which was funny because he doesn't speak Spanish.  He got up and said, in French-accented English, "Well, we'll see what the Lord is thinking calling me to speak in Puerto Rico."  But he was such a dynamic and fun speaker.

The conference was largely missionary work-themed, which as a full-time missionary in the Ponce zone, I wholeheartedly support.  Saturday evening Elder Gaviette straight up had the stake president pull up the quarterly report so everyone could see it.  There was some interesting stuff.  (Adjuntas has had the most baptisms!  My companion rocks).  I don't remember a lot of what was said Sunday, but I do remember Elder Gaviette's talk.  He really is a good, inspired speaker.  He said, "I need your prayers because I never know what the Lord is going to have me talk about until I get up here."  And halfway through he said, "I feel like talking about the Holy Ghost now."  He talked largely about repentance.  That repentance isn't just something for big ugly sins, but we can repent daily for stuff like not living up to our potential.  It was really interesting.  My companion said later that nobody likes being called to repentance, and I agreed, but sometimes it's good.  Repentance is a joyful miraculous thing.

Saturday night he talked about his experience as a branch mission leader.  He said that he prayed to ask the Lord how many baptisms he should have.  The answer?  Thousands.  But he set a goal of three.  Monthly.  He told us about all the miracles that happened to achieve this goal.  The six months before he was called the branch had had 1 baptism.  The next six months they had 15 (they didn't have any when he lost focus in September).

So if you want to get involved in missionary work, here is what you can do:  Go up to your nearest missionary.  Say, "Hello, I am so-and-so, and here is my number and address.  If you guys ever need a member present, here are all the hours I am available to help you (because member-presents are the key) and here is a list of all of the people I know that aren't members complete with their addresses and phone numbers.  And here is some food.  If you need anything feel free to call!"  And then follow through.  Members make all the difference!

I love you!
Sister Kirkland

Monday, October 20, 2014


The biggest news of the week is I'm not getting transferred!  Which means that the return address on all those letters I've sent out is good at least through the end of November...  Also this means I will be killing my companion, who isn't super trunky, but her body seems to be giving out, so we'll have that to look forward to.  She is 100% convinced that Gatorade is magical for her, so we'll be buying a lot of that.

This week was the Plan of Salvation week.  We taught somewhere around 25 lessons, and probably 20 of them were on the plan of salvation.  We got really good at that lesson.
And all of our lessons were really long!  You know how it says somewhere that lessons shouldn't be generally over 45 minutes?  Well, when you have a companion who really likes to explain in detail, and investigators who ask lots of questions (i.e. the best kind of investigators) your lessons tend to be two hours long.  Really good lessons!  But not very many.

We have some fun investigators.  They have been married for 26 years and don't have kids.  But they're super fun, and have so many good questions!  Their biggest problem is that they think they need to know all of the doctrine before committing/ being baptized.  Fortunately we have another six weeks!  I love mission life.

Much love to all of you!
Hermana Kirkland

Monday, October 13, 2014

First: There is a hurricane warning today and tomorrow.  Everything will be totally fine.  We're buying groceries, stocking up on water, our landlords live on the floor above us and are part of the branch/ relief society presidency, and we have to be home by seven o'clock tonight.  So no worries here.

Dear Soon-to-be-Elder Jake Brown,

Welcome to "the most dope mission."  I look forward to not writing you for the remainder of my mission.  I hope you're ready to work hard, because it really is the best two years.

First of all, the MTC.  I assume you're going to the Dominican Republic, which is good because Santo Domingo is wonderful, the teachers are fantastic and overall it's a blast.  But work hard.  My district worked hard.  Another one didn't.  One of the missionaries from that district told me, "Yeah, the day I arrived I was like, wow, I wish I had worked hard like Benjamin District instead of just goofing off."  Seriously.  It makes a difference.  But it is so fun!  Play some ultimate frisbee.  Practice Spanish with the natives.  Enjoy happy brownies.  Really enjoy Sundays (they're really chill).  Really really enjoy the temple because you ain't attending for another two years.  Work hard during contacting and intercambios.  Eat some oreos.

For the field:  The harder you work the happier you are.  The harder you work the less homesick you are.  The harder you work the easier it is to get along with your companion.  The more you enjoy working the easier it is to work hard.  i.e. DILIGENCE

Some games I've learned to play:
1. Is it raining or am I just sweaty?
2. (when it is raining) Is it a street or is it a river?
3. Is it a bar or is it a general store? (It's probably both).

Remember President Monson's talk last week.  Esp. 1 Samuel 15.  LEAVE BEHIND ALL THOUGHTS OF DISOBEDIENCE.  That is serious.

President and Sister Boucher are amazing.  Puerto Rico is amazing.  Stock up on your bug spray because you really really (really really) don't want to get dengue/ the chikungunya.  You will learn to dread the word chikungunya.  You may at some point think you want a tropical storm so you can stay in and take a nap.  This is a lie, you don't want that.

Anyway, I wish you the best of luck!  Prayer, faith, and real need make miracles happen.  So serve the Lord with all your heart, might, mind and strength!

Yo sé que vive mi Señor...
Hermana Kirkland

Monday, October 6, 2014

My lovely friends,

This week was super inefficient because we had to go to Ponce three times.  The second two times were good.  The first was not.  We spent eight hours at Pep Boys and it was agonizingly boring.  We tried to contact and study to distract ourselves from the TV.  Really horrible.  At one point I wrote a fourth verse to "Ye Elders of Israel."  Because I was bored.

The war is protracted but we won't despair
We fight for the freedom that we want to share
Our ranks are united, our leaders are strong
We'll come home to Zion in glory and song

The other two times were good because WE WENT TO CONFERENCE.  I just felt so good all weekend.  It was beautiful.  Our recent convert and one of the less actives we've been working with even came!  It was the best.

A note on conference - one of my favorite things to teach is "endure to the end" and one of my favorite things to say is, "If we are baptized and afterwards don't keep the commandments, what does our baptism mean?  Nothing!"  The same thing goes with conference.  If we listen to the prophet but don't apply what he said to our lives, why did we listen?

We're hoping to get some baptismal dates set up this week!  We got a really good couple of families.  Just got to get them reading and get them to church.  That pretty much goes for all investigators everywhere. LOA - leer, orar, asistir (read, pray, attend).

Keep spreading the gospel!
Sister Kirkland

Monday, September 29, 2014


Rule #3 is about working with members.  Working with members in a very specific sense.  Rule #3 is "Beware of Kitchens."  In the MTC the zone doctor put the fear into us about the quality of cleanliness in our zone (DO NOT mention chicken entrails) but we don't really have that problem that I've seen in Puerto Rico.  However, when you eat with members, it's like a box of chocolates - you never know what you're going to get.  Actually, all of it has been really really good, like Sancocho and Arollas, (I haven't had the opportunity to try blood sausage yet and pray that day never comes).  The tricky part is it's also super easy to gain weight when the members feed you.  The question is if I want to get transferred to San German, where my district leader said one time he got 5 meals in one day (and gained 10 pounds).  We actually got a record 8 meals this week, which is a great way to avoid the missionary diet.

If you're super excited for General Conference, clap your hands!  I'm so excited.  Women's conference was beautiful.  I summed it up like this: "Be worthy to enter the temple by keeping the commandments."  It was funny because the translator had a Spanish accent.  I learned a lot of things that we need for our recent converts, and I'm looking forward to learning even more this weekend.

We've been making an effort to contact like a beast this week.  We have a lot of investigators, but all of them need baby steps before they're ready for baptism.  The thing about the mission is it's a lot of work for a few moments of joy, but I think life is sort of like that.  At least, the kind of life I want to live.

Everything is all good here in Adjuntas!  Watch conference!  Be grateful to have a prophet!  I know I am!

Love you all,
Sister Kirkland

Monday, September 22, 2014


I was wondering why I had so much time left to write, and then I realized that I hadn't written my public email yet!  That explains a lot.

I really don't know what happened this week.  We were dropped by a lot of really good investigators.  One really cool thing that happened was we got a very Catholic woman to accept a Book of Mormon!  It was our second visit with her and her sister, and we were explaining the Plan of Salvation, and then we got her to take a Book of Mormon!  She hasn't promised to read it, but it's one step at a time.  Most of the Bible people we meet can't seem to get it into their brains that there can be more of the Word of God.  During weekly branch scripture study, a less active member got up and said something like, "Okay, the Book of Mormon is important, but the Bible is WAY more important!"  That explains a lot of the sentiment we feel here.

I am thankful every day for the chance to serve a mission!  It is so cool to see the changes in people's lives.

I love you all!
Sister Kirkland

Monday, September 15, 2014

Hello, everyone,

So, after you've gotten through your first few days of walking all over your area (yay for cardio), you're probably going to have investigators.  This is where rule #2 comes in: the Double Tap, i.e. We Invite, They Commit, We Follow Up.  This is called COMMITMENTS and they are hugely important.  Ask them to read and pray (BANG) and then ask them if they did it during the next lesson (BANG).  See, the thing is, if they actually do commitments, investigators turn into something else, which is progressing investigators.  We like progressing investigators.  They get baptized.  Also, it's never a bad idea to do the double tap.  Just send out a text to your investigator, or call them, or something.  Just get them to do their commitments!

I have hugely enjoyed this week.  We were really focused (we are always always focused) but we were also kind of silly.  AND we beat our goal for new investigators.  One of them is the sister of another investigator, and she seems primed to progress.  We gave her a Book of Mormon on Saturday and we're going to meet her on Wednesday.  We have some good youth who want to hear the gospel, and fortunately the branch has some good youth who are willing to help us.  Member present lessons are also important!

Anyway, I really love this gospel and this work.  There's this one part in the District where an Elder is staring at the camera, totally out of it, and he says, "I don't know why I'm so happy.  I'm so tired.............Yeah."  That's basically the mission.  Tired and happy and you don't know why.  But actually you do!  It's the Spirit.

Much love from Puerto Rico,
Sister Kirkland

Monday, September 8, 2014

Friends, family, children of God,

So I'm not being transferred, so if anyone has a letter that they feel like sending to P.O. Box #33, Adjuntas, PR, 00601, feel free to do so for at least the next five weeks.  I'm so happy I get to stay here!  Adjuntas is such a wonderful branch, and I think we're getting a lot done.

This week I was rereading the War Chapters in Alma, which I love.  I'm pretty sure I've talked about the war chapters a lot, but they're awesome.  And I was thinking to myself, what were the Nephite camps like during the war?  Were they raucous and disorganized?  I sincerely doubt it.  For one thing, they were led by awesome people.  I can't find the reference, but one verse says something like, "it was the habit of the Nephites to appoint someone who had the spirit of prophecy to lead their armies" which I think just makes good tactical sense as well as spiritual sense.  There's Teancum, whose favorite pastime is sneaking into the Lamanite camp to stick a javelin into whoever is currently stirring the people up to war.  There's Helaman, foster father to the 2060 Ammonite sons.  Then, of course, there's Captain Moroni, to whom Alma 48 is basically dedicated.  (I feel like whenever Mormon abridges something about the war, it's like President Uchtdorf talking about planes.  It's just kind of what he knows).  Plus, they obeyed every word with exactness.  And that's what we're doing.  If we obey with exactness, we can pull off miracles like the armies of Helaman.  Because we're fighting this war against Satan, we are the armies of God, and He will direct us to win.

I love you all so much!  Let's go fight the battle!

Sister Kirkland

Monday, September 1, 2014


Nothing much happened this week - I hit 1 month in the field (I don't know how that happened), we got a car, and what was that other thing?

Oh yeah,

That was so cool.  He was just a contact in the plaza, we gave him a Book of Mormon and invited him to church, and then he actually came!  What a miracle.  He accepted a date and was baptizedSaturday, less than two weeks later.  It was so incredible.  The Spirit was so strong every time we taught him.

I am so happy to be on a mission!  The gospel changes lives!  It's so easy to forget outside of the mission, but don't do it!  I love you all!

Hermana Kirkland

Monday, August 25, 2014


The nice thing about pouring rain is everyone is at home with their families!  It sure makes it easier to get a hold of investigators.

I had a great week this week.  I tried to focus on having the Spirit with me all the time, and it's incredible what a difference it makes.  It's so much easier to be happy and to work hard when you're doing it with God's help.  Instead of thinking, "How much longer until we get to sleep,"  you think, "Oh no!  We only have three more hours to preach the gospel today!"  My companion thinks I am the champion of positive thinking.

I love you all and I love this gospel!  Don't forget to read your scriptures and pray every day!  It is by small and simple things that great things are brought to pass!  If you want a suggestion, try Alma 26: "Yo sé que nada soy."  I just love the sons of Mosiah.  And Alma and Amulek.  And the sons of Helaman.  And Nephi.  I love the scriptures.

Sister Kirkland

Monday, August 18, 2014


Welcome to the United States of America.  Only this isn't America at all.  This is the Puerto Rico San Juan Mission.  To survive it, you only need to follow some simple rules that I've come up with.

Rule #1: Cardio.
In the mission, the first thing that is obvious is that you walk around a lot.  Almost nonstop.If you can't walk around for ten hours a day, you're going to struggle in the mission.  If you can't get up at six thirty every day to exercise, even though all you're going to do all day is walk around, you're going to struggle.  Not only that, but you gotta take heart even when things are tough.  So do your exercise!  Nothing is going to substitute for that!

I had a great week in the mission.  I can't believe how fast it went!  If it keeps going this fast I'm going to be home before I even know it.  I love the work so much!  And I love all of you!  Keep being awesome!  And write me some letters, dang it!

Sister Kirkland

Monday, August 11, 2014

Hola, and welcome to Chopped: Mission Puerto Rico San Juan!  Your challenge this week is to create a delicious meal using ONLY: leftovers, the groceries left from when you went shopping six days ago, and the randoms stuff people give you!  And, to make things more interesting, we're turning off your water!  DUN DUN DUN.  You don't know when it will be turned on again, so you have about a half gallon to do all the cooking and washing up!  YOUR JUDGES ARE:  Your companion, Hermana Gutierrez from Guatemala!  She has 14 months in the mission and has a reputation for being extremely obedient and hardworking; Hermana Shaeffer from Arizona, who has five months in the mission and can make a perfect fried egg every time; and Hermana Page from Wyoming, who finishes her mission in two weeks and fortunately is not very picky!  You have one hour: GO!

Haha, our water did get turned back on before any of us needed to go to the bathroom.  It's always an adventure.  The mission is an adventure!  I am learning so much!
I've decided that Spanish in Spain is like British English, Mexican Spanish is American English, Dominican Spanish is Boston English (really fast, nasally), and Puerto Rican Spanish is Liverpool/ Yorkshire English (think Beatles).  Puerto Ricans are hard to understand!  But I'm getting there.

When we got here, the Assistants told us to remember that every time we got rained on our spouses got handsomer, but everytime we dropped our scriptures he got uglier.  I dropped the Book of Mormon I was carrying twice the first week, but I've also been rained on six times so I think I'm in the clear so far.

I love my mission so much!  It is beautiful, and I love the chance I have to share the gospel every day!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Oh my!  I'm here in Adjuntas, and it is beautiful!  If the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico had a fight, Puerto Rico would probably win.
My companion is Hermana Gutierrez from Guatemala and I can understand her but not the Puerto Ricans, so it's hard to participate in lessons.  But I'm getting better!
I got my first baptismal date yesterday!  Ahahahaha
I am honestly so happy!  This is the best work in the world!
We had a tropical storm on Saturday, and our power and our water went out and it was so boooring because we couldn't do anything!  The power is still a little iffy which is why I don't have much time.  But everything is good now, it all came back on when we finished our fast on Sunday!
I love you guys!  I'm including a picture of a fan tree with my MTC companion for reference because I know you're all dying to know what it is.  I used to get a little homesick when we watched church videos because I could name all the mountains in the background, and now my companion has a picture of the Dominican Republic Temple on the wall so I can be homesick for that too.
Love you all!
Hermana Kirkland

Thursday, July 24, 2014

     I only have 4 days left in the CCM!  Crazy.  To be fair, I did want to get out to the field my first week, but now I'm glad I didn't.  I've had a lot of good experiences.
     Speaking of which, EL CAMPO.  It was the best day of my mission, no holds barred.  I can't wait to go again tomorrow.  My companion was Hermana Hernandez from Chile, and as soon as I got her we gave each other a hug and she whispered, "just so you know, this is the best companionship."  My companion said to me later, "of course you would get the really outgoing one."  We talked in Spanish the whole day, which was nice.  We taught a lot of lessons and visited a lot of investigators.  One of my favorite experiences was when we visited a recent convert who was preparing to receive the priesthood.  We went in his house (he's probably 15) and inside were like 6 or 8 little kids who all just were dying to participate in the lesson!  We sang I Am a Child of God together and then they fought over who got to say the opening prayer, which I've never seen before.  Then we taught our lesson.  While the member was getting his scriptures one of the kids asked me if I was Italian, which really came out of nowhere.  I think an Italian would speak better Spanish.  They were all so cute, and it was very spiritual.
     Today we watched a devotional given by Elder Bednar and his wife this January, and they touched on a point that I wanted to mention.  Two weeks before I left on my mission, I was asked to teach a lesson on the priesthood, and I don't think I did a good enough job of explaining, and now I have actual apostle quotes.  "The priesthood is the authority to act in God's name.  It is not male."  He explained that anyone can have the authority to act in God's name and it is through men that we receive this authority, as a Bishop or a Relief Society President or anything.  I have been called by a prophet of God to speak in His name as a representative of Jesus Christ.  I have this authority.  I may not get in the waters of baptism with my converts, but that does not diminish the fact that I taught them the lessons and they have discovered the truth through me.  There is no inequality in God's kingdom.  You see this in the scriptures every time people act righteously.  It happened under King Benjamin, under Captain Moroni and Pahoran, and for close to 300 years after Christ visited the Americas.  "And there was no inequality among them."  I know that I have been called of God to Preach His Gospel and that there is no work more important in the entire world.  I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and through it and through prayer we may know His will for us.  I know that while we may not be able to see what comes, we can know that we can cross those plains, ford those seas, and climb those mountains if we trust in Jesus Christ.  We can do anything through Him.  I love this gospel, and I love all of you, and I want you to know that I know that God and Jesus Christ live and their gospel has been restored on this earth.  There is nothing that can make us happier though we search for a thousand years.  I bear this, my testimony, in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.
Sister Kirkland

Thursday, July 17, 2014

     Today my district and Alma district were studying, and one of the teachers came in.  I don't remember how it came up, but he said, "There are only two seasons in the Dominican Republic; verano (summer) and infierno."  I would say that that is appropriate, though I've actually kind of gotten used to the humidity.  And the heat.  Plus I think infierno would have more of a dry heat, but then again, I really don't like humidity.  You can sweat out half your body weight just going outside.
     We'll see how used to it I really am tomorrow, because we're going out on splits!  Eight hours in the field tomorrow.  Super exciting.  Very scary.  It actually was a lot better going contacting last week.  We talked to one lady for forty-five minutes, and she was really excited!  But I made a mistake with numbers, and tried to make a joke out of it: "We know how to bear our testimonies, but haven't learned numbers, or colors, or whatever," and she I guess got really concerned and spent fifteen minutes explaining numbers and colors to us, so that was really special.  But she asked us when we had come to the country, and we said June eighteenth, and she asked, "last year?  Two years ago?" and we said no.  She thought that was really cool.  To be honest, so do I.
     I'm still super excited about being a missionary.  I've been out for a month but it still feels new.  I love it so much.
     The native speakers who are going into the field with us got here yesterday!  I haven't talked to them much, but there are a few coming to Puerto Rico, so I'm excited to get to know them.  Plus I'll really be able to improve my Spanish through talking to them.
     Before I forget: It's easy for me to send letters to y'all, but nigh unto impossible for me to receive them (thanks, Dominican Republic mail system).  So if you have sent me one, rest assured, I haven't received it, and also probably will never receive it.  Which also means there are people out there I want to write but haven't because I don't have your addresses.  So shoot me an email with your address, and I'll write a ton of letters during my flights (I leave July 29).
     Today I made my first mistake in English!  I was trying to say, "I didn't do anything" but accidentally said, "I didn't do nothing," which is consistent with Spanish grammar rules but not English.  It was funny.  It's getting really easy for me to speak fast like a Dominican, and easier to understand.  But I need to practice with the new missionaries.
    I'm running out of time!  But everyone should read 2 Nephi 31 this week.  With the old and new scripture mastery lists combined, 2 Nephi takes the prize for the most scripture masteries, beating Matthew and Isaiah.  I love you all!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

     Well, what a great week it has been.  Last Friday the MTC employees threw us a Thanksgiving Feast for the fourth of July.  The cafeteria was really festive.  I hadn't seen anything so patriotic sinceOur Favorite Son and we're not even in the country.
     Friday was also the day we walked down to the university to go contacting!  It was really hard.  So hard.  I feel confident in the language in the MTC, and then we go outside and realize that they aren't speaking Spanish, they're speaking Dominican.  Seriously.  No entiendo nada.  But next week we're getting a bunch of native Spanish speakers so I can speak with them.  (They speak even faster in Puerto Rico so I definitely have something to look forward to).  But we handed out some pamphlets and a Book of Mormon.
     Every day we have time to exercise from 3:45 to 4:45 (and WOW is it hot and humid).  We mostly play ultimate frisbee (although mostly I just run up and down the field) but usually we walk around the temple a couple times first.  On Saturday there was a wedding, which means a bunch of kids running around the temple grounds, and our first time around a little boy yelled at us, "Son hermosas!"  We kind of giggled and waved, so then the next time around he shouted, "SON HERMOSAS!  ENTIENDEN?" and we yelled back, "Si!  Gracias!"  We verified with Hermano Nunez that hermosa is like a step above beautiful.  It was funny and sweet.
     Yesterday my companion came up with the funniest practical joke.  We got some tape from Hermano Rodriguez in the office while one of the other companionships in our district was practicing teaching and then made up a reason for the other companionship to leave our classroom, and then we taped "Gullible" to the ceiling.  So the assisstants to the president come back from their wild goose chase and we tell them that gullible is on the ceiling.  One hesitantly looks up and smiles, but the other refuses for a while.  Then the other companionship comes back, and we tell them that gullible is on the ceiling, and the same thing happens.  Then our teacher (Hermano Fernandez) comes back, and we have a grammar lesson, and then we tell him that gullible is on the ceiling.  And he refuses to look up.  And we all promise that it's there, but he won't look up.  We're all pointing to the same location, so he points to another spot and tells us that gullible is written there.  We do this for almost five minutes, just telling him to just look up.  Probably it was how Moses felt when the people could have been healed by just looking at a snake on a pole.  So finally he says he'll look up, and if there's nothing there, we get no break.  We tell him okay, fine, sure, no problem.  He looks up, his face drops, and we cheer, and three people just started heading for the door.
     So five minutes later Hermano Rodriguez comes in, and Hermano Fernandez says that gullible is on the ceiling, and immediately he looks at the floor and puts his hood on, saying, "I'm not going to look!"  I don't think I've ever laughed so hard in my life.
     So my district and the district that arrived with us are definitely the best of all time.  Sometimes, when it's kind of slow we'll open the accordion door between our classrooms and start singing hymns in parts.  All the teachers like to come join us.  It's a lot of fun.
     I've been reading lately in Alma (I'm 300 pages through the Book of Mormon, and I just started when I got here) and I really have been enjoying the missionary stories, especially since I feel I can really apply them right now.  The verse I enjoyed this morning was in Alma 28, I believe, where Ammon is talking about all the great things the sons of Mosiah have done, and his older brother Aaron goes, "hey, watch it, you shouldn't boast," and Ammon says something like "I do not boast of myself, for in my strength I am weak, but I will boast of my God."  I feel that way when I'm contacting.  I am weak, but with God's help I can do all things.
    I love you all!  Do some good in the world!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

     Still haven't figured out the upside down exclamation point.  We live and I don't learn.  Ah well.
     I think CCM stands for the Centro de Capacidad Misional, but I'm not sure.
     So my new mission president started this week!  Unfortunately I'm not there yet, but we'll still all learn together.
     Story time.  In the evenings, our teacher is Hermano Fernandez, and there's another teacher who has been substituting, Hermano Nuñez.  They don't like each other.  It's complicated.  We kind of like Hermano Nuñez better.  But my companion and I were being coached by Hermano Fernandez, and in walks Hermano Nuñez, and he doesn't say anything, but writes on the board "Sectumsempra" and leaves.  Hermano Fernandez keeps asking us, "what does that mean," my companion starts dying of laughter, I'm next to her, hands pressed to my mouth, trying to suppress my own laughter while telling Hermano Fernandez, "Es un chiste!  Es un chiste!" (It's a joke!).  So Hermano Fernandez goes down to the next class to ask them, and we race after, screaming "DON'T TELL HIM!"  Eventually, Hermano Rodriguez told him, and so Hermano Fernandez walks back to class, and points at us, and says, "Crucio!  Crucio!"
     We went to the store this week!  I seriously doubt if there were any Oreos left in the DR after we went.  My companion got some hair dye, and so that's what we're going to be doing in about twenty minutes.  I'm excited, I haven't dyed anyone's hair since Aida.
     My Spanish is still good.  I almost was thinking in Spanish in one of the lessons we taught yesterday.  We all vastly prefer teaching to learning grammar, which just lets you know how boring grammar is.
     We got new people yesterday!  We are up to 38 new missionaries in the MTC.  18 Elders and 20 Sisters.  3 of the sisters only speak French, which is difficult.
     I haven't really noticed a Dominican accent, but our teachers all speak good Spanish to us.  Two things: "Entonces" becomes "tonces" or "tonce," and everyone says "Ay, mi madre" like we would say "oh my gosh" or "oh wow."  But one of our teachers described it to us, how they cut words.  "Estoy" and "estás" become "toy" and "tás" respectively.  I'm really glad I'm only going to Puerto Rico, where they just speak ridiculously fast.
     Gym time is really boring, so I've started playing basketball.  I'm am very grateful for my elementary school training so I don't embarrass myself in front of the other sisters.  Yes, I do actually make the occassional shot.
     Last P Day I took a three hour nap to recover from my flight (more than a week later!).  I'm really looking forward to that today.
     PS, a plantain is like a potato with a more banana-y flavor.  They're good if they're fried.
     My companion is crazy.  She was a dental hygienist and brushes her teeth five times a day.  It's ridiculous, but she'll still have hers when all of mine have fallen out.
    I drink massive amounts of water.  Like a gallon a day.  We all go to the bathroom practically on the hour, and Hermana Halling said one night, "I think they put something in the water that makes us have to go to the bathroom all the time," and Hermana Oborn said, "Like... water?"
     I'm so happy to be here!  The church is true.  I love you all!
Hermana Kirkland.

Monday, June 30, 2014

     I need to find out how to do the upside down exclamation point.  I can do a ¿, but not the other yet.
     MTC!!!  Or as we call it here, the CCM!  When I got to the terminal in SLC, I found lots of other missionaries.  LOTS.  The plane was half-full of missionaries, which was really cool.  (An Elder Taylor Bo [Bow?  Bough?  I don't know] says hi to Claire).  I sat next to an elder who went to Bingham, and he'd flown a lot, which was nice.  We landed in Dallas, which is the flattest place I have ever, ever been to (really.  It is so incredibly flat) and ate lunch, and then was lost for a while because that airport is ginormous, and all of the missionaries I'd talked to were going to .  BUT I found my way to the Miami flight and there found Elders Boggess and McGary, and we chatted for a while.  Later, Elder Burton arrived, and we left for Miami!  HUMIDITY.  As soon as we got off the plane.  But the inside of the airport was nice.  There we were joined by Elder Colson, Elder Aiono, Elder Vake (Vah-keh), and Hermana Human, so I finally had someone to be my companion!  We got to the Dominican Republic around 10, and there we were picked up by someone who didn't speak English but had a maroon van with flames on the sides, so that was cool.  The MTC was about 40 minutes away.  There was another sister there, Hermana Jorden, and Hermana Oborn, Elder Bracken, and Elder Stewart arrived in the dead of night.  Hermana Halling's flights kept getting canceled, so she didn't get here until Saturday!!!
     We 13 missionaries are the only missionaries here.  There are only two districts.  My district leader is Elder Boggess (companion to Elder Vake) and the other companionship (who are the APs) is Elder Burton and Elder McGary.  My companion is Hermana Human, and we've gotten along great.  Elder Boggess is about as tall as Dylan and probably weighs half as much, but he is 18 even though he looks about 14.  Elder Vake is Tongan, and is the only one of our district not going to Puerto Rico.  Elder McGary is from a little town by Ogden, and he seems like one of those really cool people that everybody wants to be friends with, and he is friends with everybody.  Elder Burton went to West Jordan, I think?  He's definitely from Salt Lake. 
     My Spanish has come along so well!  I remember things I'm not even sure I remember learning.  I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my Spanish teachers throughout the years.  I feel I am a few levels above everyone else here.  I was talking to two native elders visiting the MTC, and I said something like, "Yo no puedo hablar español" and they laughed and said, "Usted puede!"  That was flattering.  I feel pretty competent in my language, and sometimes I have to resist taking over a lesson when Hermana Human and I are teaching.  I mostly need to work on getting my grammar right when I speak (irregular verbs and pronouns are hard), and I need to learn more gospel vocabulary, but I feel prepared.
     It is so incredibly humid.  I sweat more just standing outside than during my hardest cross country workouts.  And the plants are so crazy!  There this fan tree on the grounds.  I can't even describe it except that it looks like a giant fan.  The MTC is on the fourth floor of a building on the temple grounds.  From our room we can see the temple AND THE OCEAN.  We're like maybe a mile away.
     The food is delicious.  We eat primarily Dominican food, which is a lot of rice, beans, and fried chicken.  We learned the hard way the first day that they leave the bones in their meat when an Elder accidentally swallowed a bone, it got stuck in his throat, and he just kept vomiting while his body tried to get it out!  He was fine.  We only have dessert on Sundays, except when they serve brownies at breakfast (???) but the mangoes are so good that's all you need.  For weird food I've eaten: today at lunch I had papaya, which tastes a little like weird cantaloupe, and we had this beef stew with yucca and plantains instead of carrots and potatoes.  For those who don't know (which was me before today) plantains look like bananas but taste like potatoes.  They're very good.
     Mom, I haven't seen any bugs yet, but one of our teachers (Hermano Nuñez) told us a story about killing a spider on his mission in Santo Domingo the size of his hand.  I think he was joking.
     A scripture I really liked this week was 2 Nephi 2:22.  I used it when we were teaching our "progressing investigator" the Plan of Salvation.  It explains the need for the fall really well.
     I love it here!  My companion and I are in charge of the music.  Our district is awesome, the other district is awesome, our teachers are awesome, and the President and his wife are awesome.  I am so happy to be here!
Much love,
Sister Kirkland

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Scripture of the Day

One of my favorite scriptures is 2 Nephi 4:34-35.  I really like the entire psalm of Nehpi (verses 15-35) but the last two are my favorite because they are so joyful and optimistic.
Lots of Love,
Hermana Kirkland