Monday, July 28, 2014

July 28, 2014: Metro

This week has been pretty good! Hot and exhausting as always, but good. We had the chance to do metro training, which means we went to downtown Tampa, where there are actually people outside. We were there Thursday night, all day Friday, and Saturday morning with some other sisters. One of the sisters there was in my district MTC, it was so good to see her again. We had a lot of fun, it's just always good to see other missionaries and remember that we're not all alone :) There were elders doing metro training too, we kept seeing missionaries all over the city, it was awesome. The Mormons are taking over :) I wouldn't really call it training though, they just tell you "okay, go talk to everyone". It's a good opportunity to have lots of people to talk to though. 

I went on exchanges there with Sister Takaki, this adorable little (I probably don't have the right to call anyone little, but she is even smaller than me, which is pretty small), sister from Brazil. While I was with her, we met this 95-year-old Catholic lady from India. She was on her way to church and she told us to come see it. It was this really old, beautiful, huge, cathedral. There were all these people praying and stuff because mass was about to start. This lady told us that she goes to mass every single day, which I thought was so cool. She was so awesome, she could barely walk and she didn't know a lot of English, but she took us to a statue of Christ on the cross and said that's what we all have in common, Jesus Christ. It was really cool.

I don't know if you guys heard about this, but apparently in Oklahoma there was a church building where the speaker system in the ceiling and the beams or something fell down in the chapel. Thankfully no one was in there. But this is like the 5th building that's happened in, so the church is inspecting all the buildings in the world with the same design, and ours is one of them and it failed inspection. So our building has been closed this week for construction, along with like 4 other buildings in our stake. So for a few weeks we're all going to be at the stake center. We did that yesterday and it was CRAZY. It's made getting investigators to church much harder.But one of our investigators, Randolph, did come! He's been saying he'd come for weeks and he finally did. He said he liked it and definitely wanted to come back next week, and we were kind of surprised haha. We were a little worried about him for awhile because he wouldn't keep commitments, but I mean he's a 22-year-old guy. But now I think he's going to be ready for his baptism in a few weeks, I'm so excited :) We also set a date for Danielle yesterday, she's so awesome. As long as we can get her to break up with or marry her boyfriend, we're golden :)

People take such good care of us. The members aren't allowed to feed us dinner unless they have a non-member with them, but they still give us food all the time. Every place we go, even with investigators, they just give us so much amazing food, it's awesome :)

I can't believe I forgot to talk about this, I probably didn't want to because it was pretty sad. But a few weeks ago, we went over to see Sister Wyman the day after her husband passed away. Her daughters and a bunch of people were there trying to plan the funeral. Apparently when the missionaries used to go over they would sing Count Your Blessings to Brother Wyman, because it was his favorite song. So Sister Wyman had us sing it, and we had a hard time because we were both crying, it was just so sad. Here were all these people grieving over the loss of their husband or father or friend, and we're singing to them about counting their blessings. I've never seen people so upset either, they would just start sobbing and we didn't know what to do. I felt so bad, I never even met him. But on the bright side, Sister Wyman wants to be baptized now, like I talked about last week. She wants so badly to be sealed with him. We told her she has to wait a year and she was like I hope I make it until then, and then she laughed. She's such an adorable little Spanish lady :)

Oh and I saw an armadillo this week, it was so cute! I've never seen one before and I didn't know they had them here! The wildlife here is crazy. There are a million lizards and we've seen frogs and turtles, and lots of really weird birds. I still haven't seen an alligator though, I want to so badly! Just hopefully it won't be too close to us :) There's a dock in our apartment complex (I had no idea we lived so close to the ocean) and apparently there are manatees in there, so I really want to see those too, and a peacock :)

Anyway, I think that's it :) I'm still loving being a missionary, this gospel is so incredible and I'm so blessed to have it in my life. I've really come to learn about the importance of prayer. I mean we have the opportunity to talk to our Father in Heaven whenever we want, and He even answers us, how cool is that? :) I'm realizing how much I take that for granted.

Have a good week everyone! :) Love you guys!

Monday, July 21, 2014

July 21, 2014

Things have been kind of slower, but still good. Like I said last time, it's kind of hard to find people to teach when there's never anyone outside. But we're really trying to talk to everyone we see. It's the awkwardest thing ever, it's great :) We committed another lady to baptism last night, so that's exciting. Her name is Danielle and she's amazing! After we told her about the First Vision she was so amazed and she said it was beautiful. We were like well yeah, it sure is :) And there's this elderly lady that's going to be baptized too. She's in like her late 80's, and her English isn't great (like A LOT of the people here). She's from Spain and she's been Catholic all her life, but her husband was Mormon and he tried to get her to meet with the missionaries and join the church so many times, but she was never interested. The last time the missionaries asked her to be baptized, she laughed in their faces. And unfortunately, her husband passed away this week. But something good came from it, because now she "wants to be Mormon." She's not too crazy about the idea of baptism though, she was like "I have to go all the way under the water? Oh..." But then she asked if she had to do that to become Mormon and when we told her that she did, she said she'd do it. She's so funny. She doesn't want anyone to come to her baptism and she won't wear a jumpsuit, it has to be a dress. But she's determined to do whatever it takes to be with her husband again, it's wonderful. And we've been working with some really great new members and less-actives.

Those of you who have served missions probably know this, but people will tell missionaries ANYTHING, it's the weirdest thing. We have random strangers tell us their whole life stories, and plenty of things that we most definitely don't want to know. Last night we had this lady from our ward call us and tell us in far too much detail about the birth of her children. We were like why on earth is she telling us this?? But it was pretty funny, we were having a hard time not laughing at her. People here are craaaazy, but in the best possible way, I love them :)

So far, my mission has been hardest for me physically. We're like the only area in the mission where sisters are on bikes, and sometimes we bike like all day. And obviously, it's kinda hot outside. Every day I'm like dying haha. But it's getting better, I'm slowly getting used to it. And God is definitely helping me, he sees that I really need it haha. He probably thinks I'm so pitiful, but I think He appreciates that I'm trying. And sometimes it pours while we're biking, but it actually feels really good. Oh and also, drivers in Tampa are insane. We almost get killed on a daily basis and people honk at us for crossing in the crosswalks when we have the walk sign. It's grand. But at least no one has hit us. Yet. I do truly believe that the Lord is protecting us though. A guy in our ward got hit on his bike the other day, but thankfully he's alright.

This week I read a talk called The Fourth Missionary. It's about how we have to entirely give up our will and all of our desires and serve God. It really changed my perspective on basically everything. I'd definitely recommend reading it, it applies to everyone.

I think that's about it! I'm still doing great, still really hot and tired, still loving serving the Lord and the crazy people in Florida :) Sometimes I forget that I'm still in America, things are so different here than any other place I've experienced. But it's great, I love it :) And I love all of you! I hope you're all doing well, and I love hearing from you! It's pretty much the only connection I have to the real world these days :) Have a great week!

Monday, July 14, 2014

July 14, 2014: First Week in Tampa!

Wow, so much has happened since last week, I don't even know where to begin. I apologize in advance, this might get kind of long.
So, I'm in Tampa! We got here on Tuesday and then did some training that evening and all day Wednesday. We stayed in a nice hotel and they took us to Golden Corral for dinner. Our mission president said that he likes us to do strenuous exercise, and he means it. The 2 mornings we were in the hotel we got up at 6 to exercise and it was intense. We were also in the parking lot doing push-ups and everything, so my hands and knees were all cut up and bruised. I don't even remember exactly what we did, just that there was a lot of running and it was painful and I'm finally not sore from it anymore.
So then on Thursday we got our trainers and went to our areas and went to work! I really miss everyone from the MTC, but my new companion is wonderful. Her name is Sister Rowland, and she's only been out here about 5 months, so one transfer after she got trained herself. But she's a great trainer and I think she knows a lot (maybe just compared to me, who knows nothing). My area is Tampa 4th ward, but it's not in the city at all, I guess it's like a suburb. There's another set of sisters in the ward (which I think is really weird, but the mission president doesn't like putting elders and sisters in the same ward, I guess they've had some trouble with that in the past). The other sisters are great, and they have the northern part of the ward boundaries and we have the south. Ours is the poorer part, but that's okay because it means people are a lot more humble. Although it also means that A LOT of them don't speak English.
We have a lot of great investigators and recent converts that we've been working with, as well as some less-actives. 3 of them have baptism dates set and I'm so excited! We also had a confirmation yesterday.
We found a new investigator yesterday named Rene and he's AMAZING!! It was great because the day before was really hard, we only taught like one or two lessons, and then we were just walking and biking around all day trying to find people, but no one is outside because it's so hot! And we're not allowed to knock on doors. So anyway, Rene was a media referral, which means he requested a Book of Mormon or something online. So we went over there and he's been SO prepared by the Lord, it's incredible. After we talked to him for awhile, he said he thinks this is what God wants for him, he just needs to think and pray about it a little. We're going to commit him to be baptized tonight, I'm so excited!
I'm out of time, I'll have to post the rest next week. But I'm doing great! Missionary work is HARD. I heard that a lot, but I had no idea until I came here. But it's also so rewarding. I love it here, I love love love the people, and I love being a missionary!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

July 10, 2014: Photos from the Mission Office

The mission office has been posting some photos on Facebook.  
With 27 new missionaries, there aren't a whole lot of each missionary.
But it is fun to catch sight of her in a few.

  Must be her trainer.

Some of the sisters at orientation.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

July 7, 2014: Arrival in Florida

We just heard from Jordan's mission office.  She has arrived in Tampa along with these 25 other new missionaries.  They will be staying in a hotel tonight as they recieve their training today and tomorrow.  There isn't enough room for this large group at the mission home.

We got to talk to her on the phone this morning as each missionary was allowed to call home while waiting for their flight.  She sounds happy, excited, nervous, scared- but totally ready to serve the Lord.  She appreciates all the letters, emails and packages.  Thank you for your love and support!

Friday, July 4, 2014

July 4, 2014: 2nd Week in Missionary Training Center

Happy 4th of July everyone!

This past week has been CRAZY! But good crazy :) It feels like we just got here, but at the same time it feels like it's been like 10 years. This will be my last email from the MTC, which is so weird to think about. We fly out to Florida Tuesday morning at like 7:30, so we have to leave the MTC at like 3:30 am. Fun stuff. I'm so excited and also a little nervous! I'm definitely so much better prepared than before, but still nowhere near as ready as I should be or I'd like to be. But oh well! Whom the Lord calls, He qualifies!

I'm still learning so much, it's ridiculous. The analogy everyone uses is someone is spraying a fire hose in your mouth and you're trying to drink out of it. That's pretty much what it feels like. But it's great :) On Sunday we watched this really great devotional given by President Bednar called the Character of Christ. I would definitely recommend watching it, it's so good. And Sister Marriott of the young woman general presidency came and spoke to the sisters about her conversion story and not giving up on people, that was really good too.

Sister Klein has been really sick this past week, so we've missed a lot of classes. The health center here is kind of terrible, we went like 5 times and they sent us to the BYU student health center twice before they really did anything to help her. They finally gave her some medicine and she's feeling a lot better.

A lot of the elders in our zone left last week. They're going to go to Detroit and India. We miss them, but we're so excited for them! We also got our new elders and they're going to England and Denver. They all seem super quiet, especially compared to all of our other crazy elders, but I guess they did just get here, and the MTC can be pretty overwhelming. Since we're the sister training leaders we welcomed them and gave them a tour. It's so weird to be like the old veterans here, we just got here last week! 

The rest of the elders in our zone are either going to Tampa with us or to Canada. We're going to miss the ones going to Canada so much, we've all gotten pretty close since we're together like all the time. It's so weird to me that the elders a so young, a bunch of them are fresh out of high school. Not that we're particularly old either though :) The other day this old guy came up to me in the cafeteria and he was like are you lost? And I was like excuse me? He asked me again and I said no and he was like "You're 19?? Missionaries just keep getting younger and younger." It was funny, I'm actually kind of surprised that was the first time someone said something like that to me.

I was really looking forward to going to the temple since there isn't one in our mission, but the Provo temple is closed for cleaning. Which means we probably won't get to go our whole missions, but oh well. We did get to walk around the temple on Sunday and take pictures with our zone, so that was nice.

I think that's about it! And I don't want to make this ridiculously long, because I don't particularly like it when people do that. Sorry if I did it too haha, it's just hard to cram an entire week into one email.

Thank you everyone for all your support, and emails and letters and everything!   I love all of you!

-Sister Coleman