Monday, December 30, 2013

Dearest Family and Friends,

    Thank you all for your love and support this week! It was so good to see my family on Wednesday! I miss you all so much and I'm glad to know that you're doing okay. You all look and sound great!

    For starters, on Monday we got to go to the beach for a party with our mission! It was so much fun! We had catering, football, we wore jeans, and we had some Hawaiian elders play us some Hawaiian hymns! It was so beautiful! We weren't able to get in the water, but we still had fun playing in the sand and taking pictures and talking with other missionaries. The ocean is so pretty here in Florida, we had a private beach, but you could still see the bridge going to the next key and it was lit up like Vegas at night!

    Tuesday for Christmas Eve, we celebrated by taking cookies to some of our investigators! For dinner we went to Hermana Tapia's (our ward missionary) and played games that she taught us. We ate fried pork fat... nothing like biting into something crunchy only to find more grease! :D It was great though, because Cindy and Cornelio were there and they all got super dressed up! We also had a lesson that day about the Plan of Salvation with some of our newer investigators named Paco and Antonia. The lesson went really well, they are both really excited to learn and they have a great fellowshipper!

    Wednesday for Christmas, we went over to our neighbors house, her name is Almida and opened our presents with her because she didn't have anyone to spend Christmas with. She was so surprised when we pulled out a stocking just for her filled with oranges, chapstick and candy canes. It was so good to see her face light up!  That's the part I love most about serving,  is the faces of those I've come to love lighting up with the brightness of Christ. 

     After that we went to district meeting where we had a very instructive training on how to sip hot cocoa from a tim tam cookie ;) After that we did a white elephant and I got some froggy socks!!! We then proceeded to give out cookies to as many investigators as possible, in the process setting up two dinners for that night. I've never eaten more meat in my life! We have agreed that we are going to try as hard as possible to only eat vegetarian this week! 

     We talked with our families around four which was probably the best present of the day! I call it my little family-in-a-box. The time went altogether way too fast! Afterward, I felt like I was in two places at once, because I was walking around in 89 degrees Florida but my heart was still in chilly Utah with my family for Christmas Day. 

     After that we went to the Arguetas and had more food with them (bleh!) and taught one of our investigators named Miguel about the meaning behind Christmas. The day was a huge success and so much fun!

     The rest of the week went by really fast. We did exchanges and another Hermana named Hermana Rasmussen came down and we taught with her. We had so much fun laughing and sharing stories about the mission. We went to a less-active members and he was really funny because he was trying to talk in English. Bless his heart, he was trying to say that he danced the "limbo" but he kept saying the "bimbo." We all tried so hard to stifle our laughter.

    The miracle of the week is that yesterday we had 7 investigators at church! Mike, one of our investigators who we've been trying to get to come to church for weeks, finally came! He loved it! At this point, I suppose he could be baptized this Sunday if he wanted! We also had Carmen come who is a really strong Catholic and she enjoyed it too! At our lesson with her, instead of saying "I'm not going to change" like she normally does, she said, "It's going to be hard to change." Our lessons with her are really spiritual too. She is beginning to change and it's amazing! What a blessing! I feel so blessed to be teaching these people right now, I love seeing the Lords hand at work.

     Well that's my week in a nutshell hope yours was just as fantastic! Loves all around!

Sincerely,
Hermana Mathis

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Feliz Navidad!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful Christmas season, and enjoying the snow! Right now it is 89 degrees and sunshiny! :)
So this past week has been super fun! Because there are three of us and like a million people in our area to teach and only so many hours in the day we've been doing splits lately. This has actually been a really great blessing because we have been able to interact with the members and reach out to more people than normal. With the Christmas season people's hearts have been a lot more cheery and open to our message and it's been great.

We had a really great lesson with one of our investigators this week named Ema. When we first got to the house, she wasn't there and only her 3 sons were, but she had told us she would be home at that time and they assured us she was on her way, so we decided to wait and teach them the first lesson because two of them had never heard it before. We started teaching and they all because very interested. When we taught the first vision, Mateo, who we had given a Book of Mormon to, said,"Lehi had a similar experience!" We were astounded! He understood perfectly and he's 16! So we kept teaching and we had their full undivided attention. They read the introduction and asked questions. About the time we had taught them the whole first lesson, Ema returned with her sister. She insisted that we teach the whole lesson again, so we did! Then with our little audience, we asked them if they would be baptized and all said yes! It was possibly the best lesson I've ever taught since coming in the field. Everything went perfectly. I even knew all the right words in Spanish! That's a first!

We also had the chance to run a 10K this week. Wahoo! I think that I should just state right here and now that before this I had never run a 10K in my life... or six miles. So when I hit the finish line, I felt very accomplished that I had not only ran the whole thing, but that I had passed out mormon.org cards along the way! It was a great experience for all of us missionaries to reach out to the people in our area. Most of the elders in our zone ran it and so did about 5 other sisters. Me and Hermana Nebecuer (my running buddy from another trio) finished before everyone else excepting a few elders, and we received medals! (I think they were just handing them out to the first 100 people in or something). I know that I could not have done it without the help of God or without the help of the scriptures. Yes, the scriptures, because when my heart felt like it was going to give out on me and my lungs were going to burst the scriptures are what we quoted to keep our minds distracted. I will send pictures next week if I have them by then.

Hermana Nebecuer & Myself after running a 10K
I read something this week that really stuck out to me that I would like to share with you all this Christmas season. It is a scripture in 1 Timothy ch. 6 v. 5-6 and it says "Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. But godliness with contentment is great gain."

I wanted to share this because in the world today there are many who seek gain, especially with the Christmas season, but godliness, or rather striving to be like Christ, is "great gain." I know that as we strive to be like the Savior the blessings that we gain are far greater than anything earthly. May we all have our hearts turned to Christ this season.

Merry Christmas!
Sincerely,
Hermana Mathis
Ecclesiastes 3:1-10
"He hath made every thing beautiful in His time."

Monday, December 16, 2013

 Ok, I have so much to write about this week so I'm just going to jump right in.

This week we have done so much! We started the week with a good lesson with Mike and it has just been going rather splendidly since. We were able to visit most of our progressing investigators this week and everyone's talking marriage! We're hoping to have 3 marriages by the end of this transfer,  but we'll see.

Christmas at Cindy's
We've been seeing so many miracles. One of those miracles was that we had 5 investigators at church yesterday!
Me, Newbill, Ema and the pizarros
We had a Christmas party Friday. Mostly all of our investigators came to that as well. The members have totally been befriending them and we're starting to see some rapid progression.

Matching for the Christmas party!
This week we met with Chavela who has been investigating the church for over a year now and we finally committed her to baptism! Yes things are really going well.
Santa and Cindy
The highlight of this week was obviously the Christmas party. I love the latino culture so much! They went all out. We had lights, decorations, more food than you could ever dream of, a DJ and dancing! And when I say dancing, I mean everyone dancing with everyone. It was a blast and a huge success. Like I said,  most of our investigators came and they had fun! People were talking with them and exchanging numbers and it was awesome! It was so fun to goof off on the dance floor with all our friends.

Tachima, Alex y Moises con Santa Clause
Also this week, we had a false alarm as far as food goes. We thought we had heard Cindy say that our plate of delicious meat and rice was dog meat, but it was just beef. I'm so relieved, but we went like two days believing that we had eaten a domestic animal! It made us all sick just thinking about it.

Is that... dog? This is a plate of food the Cindy and Hermana Tapia fed us, they said is was dog jokingly so we thought it was but then we asked them later and they said it was just beef... so I guess we didn't eat dog afterall.
Anyways I really have to go, but I love you all. Have a good week

Loves,
Hermana Mathis
Stocking Mom made me.
Dear Family and Friends,

I would first like to point out that contrary to the title of this email this week was not easy, however many people did feed us cake so, yes, it was very much a cake week. 

We have been working really hard this week to see all the people we need to see. I have officially been out for a whole transfer in Florida woot! We were scared that one of us would have to leave this transfer but we are staying together for one more at least. We are going to loose our other Spanish speaking companionship though, they are both leaving and thus we get the whole peninsula! We now have added on to our plate several investigators, more less actives, and all of the south to go finding in. We have been so busy that we haven't even had the time to set up our Facebooks yet. We should be getting those set up this week though, we will see. 

Hermanas Birch and Larsen left us! So sad.
We're going to miss them so much!
We had a quite a bit of member present lessons this week. We are so happy to have the members to help us in lessons. I in particular am happy for the fact that they can speak the language and explain the lessons in more detail than I can. The language has been trying, but I feel like I'm starting to make a lot of progress again. I gave a talk in Church yesterday about hope and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ all in Spanish. I thought it was a little speedy but everyone assured me that it was perfect and that they could understand what I was saying. Phew! What a relief! 

Happy Birthday Tachima!
I have only the best things to say about our investigators. They have all been doing so well. With the holiday season and with the flu going around it's been hard at times to get to everyone we want to see, but the Lord blesses us daily with people to see. We were even blessed with the chance to meet with a few people who we thought we had lost. I really love these people. I thought about what it would be like if I were transferred the other day and I began tearing up! These people just have such great spirits about them! They really are the greatest. 

Love these girls! 
For those of you who may be wondering what the weather is like here. I think that it is perfect. Lately it has been all sunny skies and cool breezes. The palms are starting to yellow and it's really beautiful because it's not a dead yellow, it's a very vibrant yellow. With Christmas season coming, we see lots of poinsettias about more so, for me, than usual. I've grown quite accustomed to the crystal-like water and the emerald patches of forest. I'm lovin' this city by the bay :) 

Have an amazing week! I love and miss you all. 

Sincerely,
Hermana Mathis

Monday, December 2, 2013

Dearest Family and Friends,

How was your Thanksgiving? This week has been one of many meetings, much traveling and lots of Turkey. Thanksgiving was great! We had three dinner appointments! Luckily we only ate 2 and a half. We spent most of the day giving out pies and setting appointments but it was really good. I may never eat turkey again, especially not Mexican chili pepper turkey, but like I said, all is well. 

I was really impressed though how dressed up people get for Thanksgiving even though for Hispanics it's not really a holiday.  It's very different, instead of stuffing the turkey with bread they stuff it with more meat and instead of mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes they eat rice or pasta. 

We have experienced a lot of miracles this past week. Most of those being that we finally got in contact with people. Funny story: We met with one of our contacts, Myra and when we showed her the Book of Mormon she was like, "Oh yeah! There were missionaries like you back in Mexico, lots of them! Yeah they had this 'presentacion' where people were dressed in white and they dipped them in a little pool, and 'me hicieron' (they did it to me)." You can imagine our shock. We were like, wait...what? So she may or may not have been baptized but either way we are going to start teaching her and if she hasn't been baptized, she's very open to the idea! 

We also were inspired to show up at just the right time to some places. Yesterday we went to go visit Tachima, who we have been trying to get a hold of for a while now, and when we came she was moving out! Had we come one day later she would have been lost. 

It also turned out that she was super frustrated because they don't have a truck and needed some help but nobody would assist them. So we called up one of our members and he came and helped them out. Her husband, who was super opposed to the church, now has a more open heart towards us and a friend. He and the member we invited (Jose) really "hit it off." They are totally friends now, it's awesome! 

It's just so amazing when we stop worrying about our time and start to realize things happen in the Lord's time. He really does have a plan. He knows where and when and how things need to happen to bring His children back into the fold. It's easy at times to get discouraged as a missionary when things don't go the way you planned, but I know that the Lord has a plan and he is executing it. I feel so blessed to witness it.

Have a fantastic week!

Sincerely,
Hermana Mathis
Me and Hermana Tapia. Cindy was doing her hair when we came over and she put this walmart bag on for a cap I thought it was pretty funny. Hermana Tapia is a hoot we love her!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Hello family and friends!

This week has been fantastic! I love this area SO much! Every day we have more success than the last! Hermana Duong and Newbill are really freaking out about it because we are doing so well! !! We've been teaching so many people, I don't even know where to begin!

I guess I will start with one of our favorites (haha as if I could choose a favorite) named Elizabeth. I'm not sure if I've written about her before so I'll give you a brief overview. We've been teaching her ever since I got here. She is from Puerto Rico, lives alone, is in her 50's, is the neighborhood gossip and is really quite hilarious! Haha, I just laugh thinking about her. One minute she'll be cracking a joke and then she will tell us about her parents dying.

This week we taught her lesson 3 and set a baptismal date with her! YAY!!! All we need now is for her to come to church, which is hard because her car is in the shop and she won't take a ride from anyone else. She's really stubborn, but she knows its true.

We have a lot of miracles happening. We taught a woman the other day named Islis who said she had been searching for the church of the Book of Mormon!! How crazy is that? So we're already freaking out just about that right, but no, she also told us that her husband, who is still in Panama, is a returned missionary! She didn't even know which church he belonged to, it was crazy! She's super interested. She asked us if the Book of Mormon was from the ancient Americas like the Mexico region. We about died! She is so GOLDEN! I literally cannot get over it.

We've been working so hard lately! It seems as though God has been pouring out his blessings on us. 

Guess what?! We were approved for iPads!!! Everyone is, except the elders that aren't ZL's or DL's. SO starting at the beginning of the year, I will have a new facebook account. I am only allowed to approve friends on the new account I will create, of people in my area, investigators, and my immediate family. Also my family is only allowed to post things that will help in the work; so you can 'like' my posts, and leave comments about spiritual things like the gospel principle that I'm discussing, but no small-talk is allowed. If you do, they told me I had to 'unfriend' you. But I want to friend you so just keep it spiritual, ok?

Well I have got to go but I love you all. I hope you have a good week.

Included is a picture of us with Alicia (the special Olympian I wrote about last week) and a picture of us with Cindy. Cindy is on lesson three and she is a sweetie pie! She comes to church every week and she always makes us dinner. 



Addendum from Heather's mom:  In her letter to me, Heather shared the following that I thought I'd share:

This week has been crazy! I've never been so pooped, and never been this successful in the entirety of my mission. I'm so happy. I wish you could see the things I've been seeing. You're right, service is so happy-making!

We had a tree, a really tiny one, but we gave it away to one of our investigators because she was crying because she didn't have any money for Christmas this year. It was amazing to see her little girl's face light up to see our tree.

Circumstances of people here are so humble. I will never look at immigrants the same way again. Those who don't have their papers have to work those awful jobs they don't want to; they have to live in the ghetto because it's the only place they can afford. They can't get licenses and they can't afford anything. On the other hand those who do have their papers are able to get decent jobs, live in beautiful homes, and don't have to rely on anyone, it's beautiful! But it is SO hard for people to get their papers, SO hard.

I'm beginning to love this culture more than my own. Haha. The people are amazing, so sweet and so blunt, haha. They give away everything and they trust. I've also become accustomed to their food. Hot sauce doesn't phase me. I love it! The hotter the better! I love when the sauce is so hot that my face gets all chilly-feeling! It tastes so good! 

Con Amor,
Hermana Mathis

Monday, November 18, 2013

Amigos y Familia (Friends and Family),

Wow, I can't believe it's P-day again! What a great week it's been! It's been a week of a lot of cancellations, celebrations, finding, and serving.  I love this area that I am in. I can not say that enough! The members here are a tremendous help! They have built us up, helped our investigators progress, and shared their testimonies with the light of Christ in their eyes.

Us with the Argueta Family, what great members!
They let us have dinner with them and one of our investigators every Monday.

I don't know where to begin, so I'm just going to start with my favorite lesson of the week. So the Mormon Play has been going on in Tampa this week and the other sisters in our area have joined the forces up there in representing the church. So in turn we have been looking after their area. 

Two of the people they asked us to go see were special Olympic athletes who had come up from Mexico to do some shopping for special wheelchairs for their races. One is named Alicia and is a member of the church. The other is named Fernando and has never heard of our church antes (before). So we went over Saturday night to teach them the first lesson. The lesson we gave was flawless, Fernando soaked it in. The Spirit was so strong that by the time we had finished there was not a dry eye in the room. The best part was when Alicia bore her testimony. There is nothing more effective than the testimony of a member. They came to church the next day and Fernando was touched. He asked to see us one more time before they leave for Mexico, so if the sisters don't come back we will visit them tomorrow. I hope so, they are amazing, even without legs.

We also had a great experience the other day with one of our investigators, Hugo. We had never planned on teaching him. It just happened that he was listening in on all our conversations with our other investigators Noemi and Julio. He came to church yesterday too, even though Noemi and Julio didn't! After all the meetings, he thought our church was "muy bonita" (very nice) and that he had had a good time. Kevin, one of the members had taken the liberty of driving him to and from church and becoming his friend. We have high hopes that he will be baptized soon. I was a little scared because the first week he came we talked about chastity in Gospel Principles but he said that he liked the lesson. Haha, after our lesson with Noemi, Julio, and Hugo the other day, someone had boxed in Kevin's car, but like a boss he totally got out without a scratch!

I'm continually amazed at how well God knows my heart. We were having a bad day the other day because all our appointments canceled.  We decided though not to feel down so we chose to go contacting. We taught a lesson with one of our contacts but it didn't go as well as we'd hoped. That was when we met Isles, a woman who lived in the same trailer park. She became our best friend in an instant. She told us she wasn't interested but that she really liked us and wanted to let us teach her. We asked her if we could come back and she agreed. Even though she told us she wasn't all that interested, I felt accomplished talking to her, she made my day. The Lord knows exactly who to send your way when your down. It's awesome!
Have a good week!

Con Amor (with love),
Hermana Mathis

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Family and Friends,

Thank you all for your letters. It is so good to hear how everyone is doing! It sounds like everyone is super busy! That's good though, I believe there is a quote that says something like, "An idle mind is the devils playground."

This past week has been super busy and lots of fun! We have had a lot of appointments lately and we've been doing English classes. Right now we are working with about 4 really promising investigator families and 2 single investigators. 

Mike, who I talked about in my last letter told us that one morning he just woke up and had the thought that he should be baptized on the second Sunday of December! We we so overjoyed! I feel so blessed, this area is unreal! Literally. My companions keep telling me that this area is going to ruin me because we have so many people! Every day we have been blessed to meet more and more new people.

One of our newbies is Adela, I love her so much! I never could have anticipated the love I would feel for these people. Adela is a single mother from Mexico, she is the perfect investigator, her heart is open and she is interested in all we have to say. We taught her a bit about families the other day and she told us that she felt blessed to have her little boy and that she knew God had given her her son because she had enough love in her heart to look after him. She's just so cute! So we're hoping to get things progressing with her. 



It's also been a week of eating... bleh! Did I mention Mexicans love to feed us? Well what I actually meant was Mexicans love to stuff us like a Thanksgiving turkey! Last Thursday we were putting up flyers for our English class after lunch when we ran into one of our members named Elvis. We talked with him and then were about to leave when he asked us if we wanted a burrito. Of course we couldn't say no so we agreed to go eat even though we were so stuffed from lunch. But this was no ordinary burrito, oh no, this was the Goliath of all burritos! We must have looked like lunatics because we were laughing so hard watching each other trying to down those. Haha.

Oh! And also we have this investigator named Tachima who has a little boy who will only drink milk and he's huge! She's like, "That body is ALL milk girls!" So anytime we're offered milk, we will sing a bit of that song (sexy and I know it) but we'll say "Girl look at that body, I drink milk!" Haha. We're having so many good times. Ooh and on the topic of music, we have a theme song that you need to look up, it's called "I hope they call me on a mission" by Popcorn Bopping, so corny but you'll love it!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BnxfXI9v6DE&noredirect=1

The people down here are the best! I love the culture! The members are so sweet. I draw my spiritual strength from them. I wish I could write more but it's time for me to go! I'll keep you updated! 

Loves,
Hermana Mathis

Oh and P.S. for those of you who wanted to know, the bike is working good, I did pop a tire the other day but it's all good, we'll have it fixed in a jiffy! And riding in a skirt is not so bad as I thought.


A beautiful Sunday Sunset


Monday, November 4, 2013

Dearest Darlingest Family and Friends,

Como le va? (How it goes?)

Flying into Tampa!
Well you guessed it. I finally made it to Tampa! Just at the perfect time too! Not too hot, not too rainy. So much has happened, I don't know where to begin!

I suppose I will start with my first day. So after approximately 6 hours of riding on a plane me, my companera Hermana Brough, and Elder Connors arrived in Tampa!  I absolutely love it here! It is so beautiful! Flying over it was probably the best part. I think there is more water here than dry land... at least in my area which is Largo!

So the first day in Tampa we did a lot of training, everyone was so tired so we went to bed at 7, haha. The next day we drove to a chapel for the sorting ceremony of sorts... he he, get it? Anyways we went over some paperwork and then ate lunch, then we received our new companions!
Hermana Newbill, Hermana Mathis, Hermana Duong
First Companions in Florida!

I am currently serving in a trio, but that is likely to change because we just received a newsletter from Salt Lake saying that they don't want us in trios anymore. So for right now my companions are Hermana Duong (pronounced deeun) and Hermana Newbill. It's really been different being in a trio, but they are both magnificent trainers. I didn't initially think so though. I wasn't sure if we were all going to get a long at first, and it was kind of a hard adjustment. But now I know that we are going to be friends forever, they are so amazing and already we've had SO many adventures!

Right now we are doing biking and driving. My new P-day is Monday with the exception of next week because of the holiday.

Now I get to talk about my favorite part... TEACHING!!! We teach in all Spanish which has been really fun! Everyone keeps asking me if it's hard to understand and how I'm doing. I must look really confused, haha. I just find it really funny though because I understand pretty much everything and I love it here!
We're teaching several investigators right now, my first lesson ever was with a 70 year old man with probably 4 teeth named Juan David. He's from Cuba too which means he has a pretty sweet accent. He's not actually our investigator. We were just passing him off to the other missionaries but he was a hoot! He won't come to church because he has a grandson in the hospital that he visits on Sundays but he believes us. Haha we sang to him and I think he thought we expected music from him too because he went over to his radio and turned on his favorite song which I'm pretty sure is called "Sabes una cosa" (know one thing) and he starting singing along. It was so cute! I really want to look that song up when I get home so I can remember my first day here in Largo.

If I were to write about every one of our investigators this email would be forever long so I'm just going to give you a brief description. Right now we are teaching Cindy, Jose, Maria, Cornelio, Mike, Noemi, Ema, Chavela, Jenny and various menos activos (less actives). Jose was just confirmed a member yesterday! YAY! and Cindy and Cornelio actually came to church! We have so many golden investigators! Mike is probably our closest to baptism, and then Cindy. Mike knows it's true.  He has been sincerely praying and reading, and he said he wanted to be baptized before the new year! Cindy just had the first lesson and in what little Spanish I new I taught the restoration and Hermana Duong challenged her to baptism. She accepted without hesitation. I am really happy to be teaching her because she has such a sweet spirit about her! I basically jumped out of my skin when I saw her at church yesterday!

We've also been doing a lot of street contacting. We've tried lots of places. And it's interesting because I'm going into those Mexican stores that I would have never gone into in Utah and finding that I actually love them and the food they sell. So far our most promising street contacts have been found at the local dog park and at the panderia (mexican bakery). We also tried going to this cultural event two days ago, haha! Everything was cool at first, there were lots of Mexicans and Peruvians to teach, but then things went south. So it was like a dance recital for kids right, but it kind of ended up turning into a club. The music was SO loud! We seriously couldn't hear anything and we were talking to this sweet little Mexican woman and the poor dear couldn't hear a word we said!

Our Apartment Complex

This letter is getting to be rather lengthy. Sorry about that but I just want to say a bit more about Tampa. The area is very green, there are tons of tropical plants and wildlife. Right now we're kind of in the city so we don't see much of it but its there. I have yet to see a regular sized bird. They are HUGE. And the ducks look like they have cancer or something. It's really sad. The weather is perfect though, our first day was a little sweltering but since has been good.

Oh and one last thing about Largo! Everyone feeds us! We can't so much as talk to a person without being offered candy,chili,bread, soda you name it! I've had more soda this week than I have in the past three years of my life! (Granted I have been strictly opposed to soda those past three years). But still.

Anyways I will leave you with this one last thought. The Lord knows you personally and he knows just what it is you need to calm your troubled heart. That is something I re-learned out here really fast probably in that first lesson with Cindy. He looks after ALL his children, and He doesn't pick favorites.

Have a blessed day!

Con Amor de (with love from) Tampa,  

Hermana Mathis  

P.S. Tell the women in the ward thank you for their letters. That was a pleasant surprise when I got to Tampa. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

¡Feliz Dia de la Muerte! (Happy Day of Death!)

Actually the day of dead won't be until next week but we are definitely getting a bit of the action aqui (herein). Every night and 5 in the morning, several "bombas" go off. Actually they are fireworks and this time they are huge! It's like the stadium of fire all around the CCM!

Familia y Amigos (Family and Friends),

Thank you for all you support and for your emails! Things are getting pretty darn crazy at the CCM! It's finally our last week here. I say finally but what I really mean is, I can't believe how fast it's come! Last night we said goodbye to our sister trainers and we also took on the role of being the oldest hermanas here.

Our sister trainers left this week. We were so sad!
Good luck in Oregon and California girlies!
Last week was a really good week though I learned so much. I've decided that my strength is understanding Spanish not speaking it. We've been working a lot more with our new investigators.  My newest investigator is named Estefan and he has just agreed to baptism but he's very afraid of what his protestant/buddhist family will think. Lessons are going really well. This week Hermano Flores taught a lesson in all English even though he doesn't know hardly any and it really calmed our nerves because even though he knew very little the spirit was about him and the message was conveyed really well.
Elder Smith's Birthday Surprise!
Awe, what a cute DL!
We are officially trend setters at the MTC, mi companera and I, porque (because) we dressed alike one day and then after that every [companionship] started dressing alike. Also we are crafty genius's porque (because) it was our DL's birthday this week and we decorated his desk and made him a cake (with what we had) and several other cool things which I will send a picture of. Tambien (also) our whole district got Mexico jerseys this week. Woot! Woot! 

Jerseys! So happy about these.
Another cool thing that happened was today while we were checking the mail and such one of the administrators came up to us and asked us if we would do a photo shoot for the MTC, so I guess that kind of makes us models. Haha, the guy said we had a future in it. The pictures will be displayed at every devotional from now on, cool right!? So glad my companion looks good so she can distract people from me ;)

Our youngest district. They're so sweet!
Days are going by super fast. I love reading the scriptures in what time I do have. I feel like Nephi when he writes,"my soul delighteth in the scriptures..." 2 Nephi 4 I want to say verse 16? I think of all the things I've learned, done, and tried to feel the spirit the scriptures bring it the fastest. Our teacher challenged us to read it solomente en Español (only in Spanish) without a dictionary or anything. At first I thought it would be hard but I actually understand pretty much everything I read. Now if I could only speak it. I really don't have much more to say other than it's been great here and I will miss it, I will miss my companion and I will miss my hermanas. May the Lord be with you always.
Con Amor (with love),

Hermana Mathis
The Angels in Gods Army from our zone.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Mothzillas and Failed Attempts to be Impress Nuestro Maestros

¿Comó le va familia y amigos? [How is family and friends?]

Woohoo for the beginning of week 5! Alrighty, so where to begin? This past week has been a speeding bullet! I can´t believe it´s over!

Well I guess I will begin with saying yesterday we took on the challenge to speak solomente Español the whole day, and we plan to continue it the whole week pero es muy dificil! [but it is very difficult] (so hard). It truly is a humbling experience to try to speak it all the time. Haha, we heard a talk from Elder Christofferson yesterday explaining his first impression of Spanish when he was trying to learn it. He said, "Babies knew more Spanish than I did! DOGS knew more Spanish than I did!" Haha, that made me laugh so hard because I feel exactly the same, hearing it is one thing but speaking it? That is a whole ´nother challenge.

Me and Hermana Brough in Class

It seemeth me good to explain the title of this email before I dip too far into my very funny and extremely spiritual week. The bugs here are huge! They have these mosquito looking flies that they call mosquito hawks because they eat mosquitos but boy are they big! They are like the size of our heads! Also they have these moths that are big and brown and look like bats flying around. I don´t mind them I just thought they were birds at first.

As for trying to impress our teachers... yeah, that didn't blow over too well. Primero mi compañero [first my partner] told our teacher to "susurro sus ojos" which directly translates to "whisper your eyes". Haha but I guess that´s not any stranger than me saying "sientense sus ojos" which means "sit your eyes." Haha, so after much trial we finally figured out the right word but this was only the beginning of our failed attempts to teach our teachers.

Me and Hermano Osorio
So let me just start by saying that our teacher taught us how to give chapel tours this week. So from our lesson we drew the conclusion that we should give our investigators in el CCM tours of the chapel. Little did we know on the day that we decided to execute this idea that they were having orientation classes in the capilla. Entonces [then] here we are con nuestro [with our] investigator trying to give him a tour and all the while he´s like, "no no no!" We just thought he was confused as to where the chapel was, little did we know he didn't want us to go there. So we say ¡esta bien! [right!] and we walk him to the door of the chapel and we open it up and lo and behold they are having orientation. It was really embarrassing! All the other teachers were looking at us like we were some freak show! At this point the spirit had taken flight. And our teacher/investigator, not wanting to break character, asks who one of the teachers is. We tell him it´s a teacher and he tells the teacher flat out to his face, "Oh what a small teacher!". I about died on the inside! We quickly tried to recover our mistake by taking him back but by then the damage had been done. In the end though the other teachers were really impressed, so I guess it was okay.

Yup, there's a gold statue of a guy in a speedo just outside of the CCM!

BTW, I thought I´d throw this in here. I´m senior companion and a Hufflepuff according to the elders in our distrito. Sometimes they get so off topic! It´s madness trying to keep them on topic! We actually had to have a meeting with all the sisters to talk about how we could help the elders in our branch focus. However the whole ordeal turned into a girls camp testimony meeting. If you haven´t been to one that means that there were more tears shed than words said.
Our "Besties" left this week, we're so excited for them!
Good luck Hermana Whipple y Hermana Freeman!
I've learned a lot pertaining to the gospel this week, all simple truths about missionary work. It never ceases to amaze me how the Lord works in such simple ways. We listened to a talk given by Elder Holland this week. He talked about the importance of the Book of Mormon in teaching investigators and also how important it is to not come back the same missionary you came in as. His talk was like a slap in the face. But seriously, I hope that I come home a better person, and I hope that when I come home you will all be better people. I know several of you are on missions or considering missions, pero [but] I think this call is given to all people. Be better people than you were yesterday. I would like to invite you all to share the gospel where you're at. This work extends far beyond missionaries. This work is not soley intended for non-members or even for less active members. Reach out to ALL people, build each other up. We are the hope for the world, faithful members. I've changed my motto. My motto is now, " I can, I will and I wont give up!" My desire is that you would think likewise, because you can preach the gospel, you will be successful, and we wont give up until this work is through.

I love you all, I look forward to seeing you again in 17 months!
Con Amor de Mexico(with love from Mexico),

Hermana Mathis

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

¡Beunos Tardes Familia y Amigos!
Me and Hermano Flores y Mi Premero Dia

Ok, so I´m trying this new thing where I write my big letter first so that I can say all that I want to. First of all, how great was conference yeah? I loved it! I've never taken more notes in my life. My favorite for all of you to know is Deiter F. Uchtdorf´s talk, Come unto Christ.  I think that's what it´s called... I haven´t looked at it yet in written form. General Conference was a great break from Spanish.  We watched the whole thing, including Music and the Spoken Word in English. But General Conference certainly wasn't the only spiritual experience I've had this week. Yesterday we taught our investigator Mario, who has bone cancer and whose wife is cheating on him and the Spirit was super strong. I felt it guiding me to say all that I needed to in Spanish and although it was probably bad grammar it was perfect!  I love teaching I wish I did it more, I can't wait for the mission field! Also I sang in the choir for the devotional this week! We sang a variation of I am a Child of God in Spanish. It was beautiful. The elders in nuestro distrito are such good tenors!
Moving Casas - Sad Day!

Decorations in our bedroom
This week we had to move casas! :´(  We think the Lord is just trying to humble us because our new casa doesn't have an iron and our room and closets are smaller. And just when we thought we had the washing machines to ourselves too! We also have two new wonderful American roommates, they are hilarious! Their names are Hermana Michael and Magnuson. I love them but I will admit they are REALLY messy. 
Our two favorite sisters Herman Wipple and Freeman

Another monumental thing that happened this week was I memorized the first vision and the 3rd, 4th and 5th articles of faith all in Spanish! I can’t carry on a conversation but I can say what I believe! We told our NATIVE profesora where we were going and the people we would be talking  to and her exact words were, "Oh hermanas! They are fast! So fast! I can’t even understand them." So that was a little discouraging yet we are pressing forward. We’ve been trying to talk to some Latinos every day lately, it´s been going really well. Too bad we’re not asking investigators where they are going on their missions.  Oh! and another cool thing we did this week was teach the Plan of Salvation in Spanish under 5 min! It was so hard!

Mexican police lining the streets with bullet-proof shields.  Yikes! Scary, I know!
I just wanted to include this in here somewhere but I didn't know where to put it but I miss the primary kids! I miss playing for them, they are so cute! I think of them often.

To Tampa we go!
Food this week has been really interesting. First of all never mix dry oatmeal, honey and peanut butter... it just isn´t good. Second of all, always eat tamales for breakfast! YUM! And third chicken waffle sandwiches are surprisingly delicious! Among other things some Hermana’s tricked me into eating eggs! BLEH! Also they like to put cayenne pepper on everything! Fruit, salads, meat, veggies, and everything in between. Cayenne pineapple is pretty good but too much makes your stomach hurt.
Waffles and Chicken!
Anyways thanks to those of you who sent me letters I loved them and thanks to Mom for sending me pictures! If any of you have pictures of baby Ty I want to see them! Por Favor! Have a good week and "doubt your doubts before your belief!" (That´s my favorite quote from conference)

Love,
Hermana Mathis
(P.S. I´m sorry my spelling is so bad, when all you study is Spanish your English kind of goes south) 

  


At the Mexico City Temple




Wednesday, October 2, 2013

¡Hola once again!
This letter is going to be an extension of my first letter because I didn´t get to write all that I wanted to last week about all that has transpired here. First of all I want to clear up any misconceptions about me being an all-knowing Spanish speaking missionary. The language is HARD! Very hard, but with the Lord´s help I have been able to learn how to carry on a very simple conversation and praise the Lord my God.



Haha the other day I told our investigator Ignacio to read the wrong scripture so instead of having him read 3 Nefi 11:21 about baptism I had him read 3 Nefi 12:21 which basically says... "thou shalt not kill!" Of course we couldn´t really understand it but his face was so funny! Mi hermana quickly looked it up and then she was like Hermana no! But it was too late cause I already asked him how he felt about the scripture. Haha. Ignacio committed to baptism and now we are working with Mario a 40 year old man with bone cancer. Haha he said mujer instead of hombre so apparently his wife is cheating on him with another woman, but we know he meant man. Haha Because in reality our investigators are our teachers.



This week I hardly learned any Spanish, pero the hermanas latina told us that our prayers were sounding much better and that we sound more Mexican now. This week has been spiritually uplifting and my soul glories in my Eternal Padre. I memorized my missionary purpose in Spanish and am now working on the first vision, I´ve almost got it down.


So I hear it´s snowing up there is that correct? Don´t worry about me I´m enjoying the sunshine and rain here in Mexico! This week we also lost our latino roomates. It was the saddest thing that has happened so far! I miss them already.  Their names are Hermana Contreras y Hermana Diaz and they taught us so much. The thing about latinas though is that they like to do laundry. A LOT of laundry! We barely had time enough last P-day to get ours done. Now our casa is pretty much empty. Sad Day!


As far as the activities and food in the CCM, I am starting to get used to eating a cantaloupe a day. Haha jk, but we do eat a lot of fruit. But my absolute favorite is rice and beans!!! Let me repeat that there is nothing better than a plate of rice with refried beans! I eat it every day! They always serve us some weird form of meat and then rice and beans and bread. I love rice and beans. I also found that I love guavas! Oh and tamales for breakfast!


I told you before we excersize 5 days a week, normally mi y hermana Brough run but this past week we´ve been playing a lot of volleyball con nuestras Elderes. I´m actually getting pretty good. We also played futbol and that was fun as well.


Sundays are my favorite day other than p-day when I get to hear from you guys and then have an awesome devotional, porque on sundays we get to really focus on the spirit instead of the language. Lately we´ve been talking a lot about faith. I love the topic of faith, and I truly believe that with faith and action all things are possible. We also had an AMAZING devotional where we talked about looking forward. The speaker was inspired, it was just what I needed to hear to give me more enthusiasm towards my mission. I haven´t really been struggling but it was just a good motivator. He said, learn from the past but do not linger because things 100% of the time are ALWAYS, always, siempre, going to get better.


We also got to do a fun service activity this week with our branch who I adore. We love our branch because we get to talk with Hermanas, we love frienshipping new hermanas everyday the women here are beyond extrordinary! They are strong, cute, brilliant, and humble.


Anyways I got to go but know this,
¡Yo se que Dios le ama!
Sincerememte,
Hermana Mathis 





Wednesday, September 25, 2013

!Hola¡

Thank you all for your emails! I am so happy right now en el CCM. I don´t know where to begin with my letter to all of you. Let me start by saying me amo Mexico! I will try to write en ingles (English) but right now I have so much Español running through my brain that it´s going to be really hard. I´m also going to try to keep it organized but I´m warning you now, like Mexico it´s going to be MUY LOCO!

I guess I´ll begin with the not so interesting plane ride to Mexico. I start where I last saw the people I love. After riding up the escalator I boarded the 6:00 flight to Dallas Texas. Most if not all my district was on that very flight and I didn´t even know it. I sat by a very charming young elder named Elder Connors. He is also going to Tampa, Florida. We had so much fun talking on the plane ride. In Dallas, I met the girls who would soon be my best friends in the CCM. We ate Einstiens Bagels and then boarded our flight to Mexico. And this is where it gets good.

I would like to start by saying I love Spanish, I love Mexico and I especially love my compañera Hermana Brough. We talked basically the whole way to the CCM and didn´t even know that we would be companions. So you can imagine how awesome it was to find out that she was to be my other half for the remainder of my stay in the CCM. BTW, Brough is pronounced b-ruff. She and I are best friends! I adore her! We are so alike. We were definitely put together by divine inspiration. She´s from Kaysville, UT. I take comfort in the fact that she looks vaguely like and acts just like another of my best friends (Georgina). We have a saying that we comprised our second day here and that is, "nosotros somos campeones!" (We are the champions). She lifts my spirits daily with her cute and quirky personality.

Mexico is crazy. VERY crazy. Nothing makes sense. There are really nice houses next to shacks and everything is a bright color, every building, every animal, every poster, every food , you name it! The CCM is the nicest place other than the temple that I´ve been to in Mexico. (Well, technically it´s the only other place I´ve been to.) We live in little casas (houses) and they are all different colors. Ours is pink! At night it´s hard to tell the color, and the house next to ours is a light purple, so on more than one occasion we have gone to the wrong casa...haha

Another thing you should know about the CCM is that it´s pristine clean except for all the little leaves. There are these trees that shed little tiny leaves all over the place! I sweep our room every day if not twice a day. There are lots of palm trees too. The birds here are so pretty! There are always parrots flying around. They are bright green! I love them. Also it rains every ten minutes! I thought Utah had mood swings, well it´s nothing compared to the weather in Mexico! When it rains it pours and the streets fill up and there is no point in wearing shoes.

I also want to describe to you the sounds of the MTC because there are so many sounds. Apparently there is a Catholic school nearby that shoots off cannons all the time either that or there is construction going on, nobody really knows, but it literally sounds like we are in a warzone! I fall asleep to the sound of cannons, rain, dogs barking, and gunshots. We try not to think too much about the gunshots... or the sirens. Everything within the CCM is peaceful though. BTW I should have included this earlier but the baño en the Dallas airport es not as good as Georgina made it out to be.

So what is the typical day in the life of Hermana Mathis like? Well imagine 9 hours of studying Spanish and 3 hours of studing the Libro de Mormon. I´ve learned so much Spanish in this first week. I can pray, bear my testimony and give the first lesson all in Spanish, the second lesson... not so much. On the first day in the CCM we taught an investigator. Luckily we taught in English but this was not the case on Thursday. We totally failed to teach our first "real" investigator the first lesson. We told him that until the restoration the gospel was no longer in the cute. We now use that phrase to describe the way we look every day. "Oh Hermana you are lookin in the cute today!" Haha. You see cute is tierno and earth is tierra. We laughed it off though. Me and mi compañera are the biggest dumb blondes you´ve ever met. We managed to lose both of our keys on the first day. Don´t ask how. Then we both set our alarms to 6:30 p.m. on accident and woke up late our second day. Haha. Then because we lost our keys and woke up late we joined the wrong district because we were running so late. We didn´t even realize it until halfway through the earthquake schpeel. BTW did I mention they have a ton of earthquakes down here. And the city is build on a lake so it´s actually sinking. Nevertheless we still manage to learn muchos.

Five days a week we go to the gym, we run, we bike and we play futbol with the "natives." Also we share a room with two Mexican Hermanas. They are so cute! They teach us most of what we actually retain. The bad thing about sharing a room with them though is that we got them sick. We´ve both been sick since we got here. We had colds but we´re over them now.

My district is awesome. There are 7 elders and the 2 of us Hermanas. There used to be 8 elders but one of them went home the first day due to severe anxiety. We have so much fun together except the elders kind of stink because they sleep through class while we study our little behinds off, and they somehow happen to know more Spanish than us. It´s infuriating! The elders are Elder Smith (district leader) and his companions Elder Skeeter and Elder Campbell. Elder Dickson, Elder Winkle (who was actually in children's choir and high school choir with me) and Elder Conver, Elder Christopherson.

Sorry I have to write fast I don´t have a ton more time. But I want to tell you all about the spiritual experiences I have been having. Let me just start by saying that without the Spirit misionos are nada. I have learned the most important thing about missions and that is that we are not the teachers, the Holy Ghost is. We have one investigator right now, (he´s actually our teacher but we´re not supposed to know that). His name is Ignacio. Our first lesson didn´t blow over too well because we wrote everything down and the spirit was lost. We didn´t maintain eye contact and we didn´t even testify. Our second lesson we decided not to write anything down and it was perfect... well almost. Then this past Sunday in church they called on me to give a talk in Spanish. So naturally I was frantic. But I stuck to the words I knew and I really tried to convey the spirit, it was awesome. An awesome Spanglish talk. I talked out the importance of the Book of Mormon. I feel so blessed to teach the modern day Lamanites.

The Spirit is SO strong here. I feel it everyday. So much that I cry, I cry muchos. This gospel is the most amazing thing. I am completely happy in it´s entanglement. That moment when you know with all assurity that Jesus lives is the most amazing moment of your life. Nothing else matters. I want to share a scripture with you and that is Alma 5:16 it´s my new favorite:

"I say unto you, can you imagine to yourselves that ye hear the voice of the Lord, saying unto you, in that day: Come unto me ye blessed, for behold, your works have been the works of righteousness upon the face of the earth?" (Alma 5:16)

Can you imagine the day you come to see the Lord? I can and I´m exited for it.

I love you all!
Sincerely,
Heather Mathis


P.S. probably the funniest moment this week was when we tried to tell some Mexican elders than our brains were fried but what we actually told them was that our brains were naughty. Haha!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

I'm in Mexico!

 
I have officially arrived in Mexico! What a ride it´s been! Luckily I didn't have any problems, my luggage arrived in tact! We are just going through orientation right now. Mexico is really fun! Everything is so colorful! There isn't any space anywhere because there are so many buildings. One minute you will see a really nice building and the next you will see a shack. There is no order to it all! I have been doing great! The people are so nice and I've made a lot of friends already. There are two people who are going to the same mission as me that I met on the plane, an Elder Connors and Sister Brough.
 
Things are looking up. I can't wait until I have more experiences to share with you. BTW, would one of you contact Georgina and let her know that I don't understand her obsession with the Dallas airport bathrooms. Sorry this email is written really badly. The keyboards are in Spanish and I'm still getting used to it.
 
The weather has been beautiful; the humidity really isn't all that bad. I will write you when I have more to say.
 
Love always,

Heather 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

It's The Final Countdown!

     Hello everybody! So it's finally here the week that I leave for Tampa, with a pit stop in Mexico of course. I have not received my visa but this is because I am a dumb blonde and didn't read on my itinerary that they would stamp my passport with a visa when I got to Mexico so I'm all good to go! I've even made my bicycle arrangements.
    Preparing for a mission has been super hard. I think everything that Satan could possibly think of to lure me away from the mission has been thrown at me. The latest of these tricks has been a bad case of hives due to an allergic reaction to the Typhoid shot that I received. The hives started coming on Friday night but didn't get bad until last night at 9. I'm sorry to the friends I had to ditch to get some relief for the itching. Things continually got worse until I had about dollar bill sized hives all over. I was beginning to wonder why all these things kept happening that could prevent me from serving a mission. Luckily my father holds the priesthood and could give me a priesthood blessing, which was wonderful and calmed me down quite a bit. Then it was off to the emergency room! I stayed most of the night in the emergency room. I'm feeling so much better now and the hives have all disappeared.  I do not doubt that a huge part of that was due to the peace that I felt after my father's blessing. It seemed that as I started to calm down so did the hives. Satan has tried and failed to get inside my head and turn this into some tragedy, there's no way I'm missing that flight Tuesday morning!
     This all brings me back to my all time favorite scripture D&C 122:4 "And although their influence shall cast thee into trouble, and into bars and walls, thou shalt be had in ahonor; and but for a small bmoment and thy voice shall be more terrible in the midst of thine enemies than the fierce clion, because of thy righteousness; and thy God shall stand by thee forever and ever."
     This promise was made to Joseph as he was in Liberty jail but I think it applies to all of us. Though Satan will try with whatever he can to stop us, he cannot compete with God. Those who stay close to God are promised to have the voice of the lion in the midst of our only enemy, Satan. I also love that God promises Joseph in this scripture that he will stand by him forever and ever. No matter what trials we face in this life there is never a day when we don't have someone by our side! We can do hard things because the Lord has made it possible.
     Anyways have a good day everybody! Sing out loud praise the Lord, and don't lose sight of your eternal goals.

Love,
Heather

Monday, September 9, 2013

Mission Farewell

Had my mission farewell yesterday! What a great day! Thanks to all my friends and family that came out. For those who didn't come here is the gist of what I talked about.


  • The Lord has not forgotten you. He has "graven you upon the palms" of his hands.
  • Sometimes he mourns with us rather than fix the problem/sometimes our losses are meant to bring about greater things.
  • The Lord knows exactly how to help us. He knows exactly who to send our way to mend our sorrows. Sometimes we get so caught up in the idea that he suffered for our sins that we forget he also suffered for our pains and afflictions so that "he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people in their infirmities.” (Alma 7:12)
  • Because the Lord has not forgotten us we must not forget him. We must let our minds be continually turned to God. We covenant when we take the sacrament to "always remember him."
  • We must not forget our fellow beings. Give random compliments. Pray for the ones you love, and the ones you don't. Teach others that the Lord has not forgotten them. 
I love my friends so much! Notice there is only one boy in this picture, that is because all my other guy friends are already on their missions, they're such good examples to me. My friends are without a doubt crazy, they're sweet, and they are the ones who continually make my life fun and enjoyable. I have such good memories with all of them. 


As for my family, they're the best! Could I have asked for prettier sisters? I'm going to miss them all so much. I'm going to miss Karen's hugs, slap wars with Mckell, shopping with Whitney, and talking with Jess while I hold my nephew Ty. I love my parents too, they are the best parents in the world. My dad is the smartest, sweetest, handiest, best man I know. I love him for looking out for me, for helping me achieve all my dreams, for teaching me about the gospel and for teasing me about every boy I bring within two miles of the house. Words cannot express the love I have for my mom. She is my best friend. She always knows what to say. She's the one who on my darkest days takes me shopping and gives me all her love. I love the times we spend together just the two of us whether we are folding towels and watching TV or eating out at Gingers. She compensates for my lack of planning, she really pulled everything together yesterday.