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.