Called To Serve


Monday, July 30, 2012

July 30, 2012

Dear family and friends,

Many of you have been wondering if I am going to do a missionary blog to keep you posted on the delightful adventures that Ralph and I are having in the Mexico Puebla North Mission.  I have tried to determine how best to do this, as I do want to make sure that it doesn't consume my time and attention.  I am realizing that a mission is rather intense and requires a lot of my time, if I am going to serve the Lord as I should and as I want to.  Yet, I love and appreciate that many of you are interested in staying in touch and care about what is going on in our lives.  I think I have come up with a good solution.  Although it may seem somewhat impersonal, I think for you to receive an update on occasion is better than me trying to respond to each individual email that might come, wondering how we are doing!     Thank you for caring!!  That means so much to us.  

Every 6 weeks, we have what we call Cambios.  That is the same as transfers.  Since Cambios requires a lot of extra time and preparation leading up to that event, I have decided to send out an update every six weeks, AFTER Cambios!  It might be a nice way to relax, after having been so busy getting ready for Cambios.

So...this is the start of my mission blog update!  I am not trying to be exclusive, nor is it my intention to leave someone out,  yet I do not want to assume that everyone wants to receive this.  So, if you ever hear of someone who is interested, PLEASE feel free to pass on this blog address.  If you have received this, it is because I am remembering you mentioning to me that you would like to hear from me.  IF you are one who got onto this blog through someone else, and you are wondering why I didn't initially inform you about this blog, my apologies for that, as well!  I must say, it doesn't help to be getting older.  I hate to admit it, but my memory does NOT serve me as well as it once did!  Then, to add the responsibilities of this new assignment on top of a poor memory...well, let's just say, it doesn't help!!  Well, enough said!  It's time to give you our first update!!

We arrived the night of June 29, 2012, in Puebla, Mexico.  It was an adventure getting down here as I lost my passport and visa!  I didn't know it was missing until we were ready to board the plane in Houston to Puebla!  It is a long story to relay what all happened, and how I ended up getting here, but I DID do it legally, and I AM here!  Phew!!  One might ask, "How will she keep track of 135 missionaries if she can't even keep track of herself?" might ask that, and I DID!!  Oh my!  But, all's well that end's well!  I am so happy to be here with my husband and NOT hanging around in the states waiting for my visa!!

All the different things I have heard about through the years having to do with missions, I am now right in the middle of it all!  Transfers, zone conferences, feeding missionaries, picking them up at the bus station, airport, housing them, etc.  It has all been very special and LOTS of work!  I'm realizing my family of 9 children with their spouses and our 30 grandchildren, along with many special guests we have had in our home over the years, was the PERFECT preparation for this mission!  I had no idea I had been "in training" all those years!! 

At our first zone conference, the day after our arrival, we had the privilege of meeting every single Elder and Hermana in our mission.  It was a special day, and it was then, that I realized how much I really wanted to be here.  By the time I met each of them and we had a "getting acquainted" zone conference, I knew I was going to love my time here with each of them!  They are wonderful, remarkable missionaries!  Seventy percent of our missionaries are Spanish speaking, while 30% of them are here from the states.  So, my first assignment at our first zone conference was to introduce the missionaries to our family and to bear my Spanish!  We did a "slide show" of our children, so they know what is important to us, and hopefully, they now know that I love being a Mom and that I will love them as well!  They were complimentary of my accent, although I know it was very SLOW in coming out of my mouth!!  I'm sure they thought they'd die by the time I got to my next sentence!  I am working on my Spanish every day, a little at a time, and HOPEFULLY it will come to me eventually!  Right now, I am happy and able to bear my testimony whenever asked (and it is a lot), but I'm not getting much more out of the meetings than that.  But, I know it will come!

One of our zone conferences on our first day, introducing ourselves to the missionaries
in the Mexico Puebla North Mission.

Within a week of being here, we had the privilege of going to a baptism of a sweet woman that Ralph had the blessing of getting to know well.  She asked him to perform the baptism, and although that is not what he will want to do most of the time, the circumstances were such that it felt right for him to baptize her.  We are learning a new set of rules on time management here.  The sister being baptized arrived 45 minutes late and then she asked if we could wait for another 45 minutes for her husband to come.  We have been to a few other baptisms since then, as well, and things don't move along very fast!  But, no one but Ralph and I seem to care much!  It seems that everything else can wait once you arrive at a function, and they really enjoy mingling and socializing.  You may not recognize us upon our return as we learn "que serĂ¡ serĂ¡", "what will be, will be!" 

Anyway, back to the baptism!  It seemed the entire ward was at the church that evening.  Relief Society was happening, YM/YW was happening, children were out in the church parking lot playing soccer, etc.  It would appear if you are not at the LDS church in Calpulalpan on a Wednesday night, you are not where the action is!  While waiting for the baptism, we were immediately swept into the weekly Relief Society meeting.  Every Wednesday the sisters gather together to make homemade jam and purses!  After a particular time has passed, they then have dance instruction from a non member couple in the community that they are trying to fellowship.  Apparently, this is something this couple likes to do, so they have added that to their weekly RS meeting.  Because I speak no Spanish, I wasn't quite certain what was going on, but suddenly the purses were put away, and the jams were sitting on a table and next thing you know, this couple is dancing the rhumba to some music in a cassette player!  When done with a dance, there was applause, and next thing you know, the dance instructors split up and pulled Ralph and I into a routine that got the entire ward clapping!  Little did they know how much Ralph and I like to dance, so we were having lots of fun!  But, I could hardly keep from laughing right out loud!  What was going on?  Next thing I know, I was done, I was seated back in my chair, and the next RS sister was up, patiently having waited her turn to dance with this man and learn the new "moves."  It was darling!  After another dance or two, everyone that we were waiting for had now arrived, and we went into another room to begin the baptism.  Little did I know, but EVERYONE was there for the baptism.  When a baptism happens, the ward supports it!  I was asked to bear my testimony there.  It was rather emotional for me when I realized I was talking to my "brothers and sisters" in Mexico.  I FINALLY had the chance to MEET them!  I really knew that night what it was to be one of Father's children, and one of their sisters!

The Relief Society Room and Kitchen are one and the same!  Notice the jams I mentioned on a table in the background?

When the sister missionaries came in for the Cambios (transfer) meeting, they brought me this beautiful green purse that the sisters made for me up in the ward where we had gone to the baptism and dance!  I think I made such a fuss about how impressed I was that they were making these purses out of bottle caps, that I think they wanted me to have one!  I am very touched at their love and kindness towards me.

The baptism finally happened and many ward members were there to show support and love!

We have been blessed to live in a very comfortable home and have used it for training Zone leaders, trainers, and feeding and sleeping 17 new missionaries at our first Cambios (transfer)!

Feeding lots of hungry missionaries a good breakfast before some training gets started!

I had forgotten how much 19-21 year olds eat!  Oh my...they sure put down the food!  I need to remember not to try to keep up with them!!
This past Friday we had the blessing of being invited by 2 stake presidents to attend a youth conference in the Tlaxcala town square.  This youth conference was unique, as they decided to learn dances representing the YOUTH from all over the world...India, China, Europe, America, Samoa, Mexico, etc.  They had been well taught and the costumes and choreography was almost professional like!  It was impressive!  The narration began by suggesting that the youth all over the world are the same, and as we acknowledge different cultures and accept each other, there can be peace in the world.  They said they were going to show "today" that the youth of Tlaxcala are youth who like to have fun in a good, wholesome way!  It was such a nice event.  It had been well advertised and many from the community had come to this performance.  They had bleacher seating for the community.  We were invited to sit by the mayor of the town.  They had to be impressed!  They acknowledged that they love and appreciate the influence of  the LDS religion in the community.   Our missionaries from these two stakes were there to circulate and visit with people before and after the event!  It was a marvelous day!

One of the wards in the two stakes represented had the assignment of doing a dance representing Mexico.  It was beautiful and amazing!

Apparently, youth conferences happen all over Mexico during the same week (this past week), and Ralph was asked to speak at two youth conferences.  So, after this dance festival youth conference, we made our way to the next stake over where Ralph spoke Friday evening, having already spoken at one earlier in the week.  He has also spoken at a stake Relief Society meeting in the area.  We are finding the people in this area love their missionaries and USE them!  We are happy to serve!

Well, we are off and running!  We are overwhelmed with emotions of loving the missionaries beyond what we ever imagined.  We love working with them.  We love being with them.  We love teaching and praying with them.  Ralph is very capable in his ability to speak.  He has been very patient with me, being a translator for me, going grocery shopping with me, etc.  I am now ready to venture to the store on my own.  In fact, I have once now!  Keep us in your prayers!  The driving down here is CRAZY!!

We feel blessed to have this incredible experience.  We feel exhausted and sleep well at night!  I have found life challenging, especially because of the language, also seems fine.  I have chosen my motto to be over the next three years..."Come what may, and love it."  (Elder Wirthlin) I can do hard things, I know I can!  We love and feel the spirit of the Lord in our lives.  We know we are doing Father's work!  Thank you for your continued prayers for the missionaries!  I'm now seeing why we need those DAILY prayers from people all over the world! "Shall we not go on cheerfully in so great a cause?"  YES, WE SHALL!!

I hope this finds all of you well and happy!  Please feel free to drop me a note any time.  I probably can't respond in length to the emails, but I will respond!  
Teresa (Hermana Christensen)