Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Half-way to Mexico!

These pictures were during a rain storm we had here last week.

Me and Hermana Cookerham. She's from Texas, but not Mexican at all.So we're the Tex-Mex and the real Mex!

Those elders drew a mustache on my face - don't know if you can see it or not...

So I got your package yesterday and I loved all of the healthy food you sent me! It’s really hard to find food like that here surprisingly! I loved all of the letters and emails and dear elders you guys sent! I got super excited about the package! In my district all of them get packages like every week cuz they are from Utah, so it makes it easier; but it was finally my turn! Any ways thanks!

So I had two really cool experiences this week. So first, I had to go to SLC on Thursday to go and get my visa taken care of. Anyway, we had to take the front runner then another train to get to the building. So anyway, on our way back we were waiting for the train and this lady comes up to all of us (about 20 missionaries) and says really loud that she needs us to pray for her to find somewhere good for her to live. We all told her we would and she just walked off. It was super weird. So anyway, some elders were saying they wanted to go talk to her and all this stuff, but while they were all in a debate whether to talk to her or not I looked over to my companion and asked if we could go over to talk to her. She was nervous, but she said yes. So we just walked over to her and all of the missionaries just got quiet and stared at us, ha-ha! So I went and sat by her and asked what her name was so we could pray for her and then she just started bawling! She thanked us for coming to talk to her and apologized for the desperate plea for help. She told us that she felt she was stuck in between two worlds; drugs and the Mormon world. She said she believed in our church, but it was just hard to follow because she was just so deep into drugs and didn’t have a good place to live. So I told her to pray and ask for Heavenly Father to help her and guide her where to go. She said she would and it was really cool. I felt the spirit and it was really strong while we were talking with her. We talked some more and I asked her if she would start going to church again and then here’s the turning point! She told us she got excommunicated from the church 3 times, so I didn’t really know where to go from there... So I just told her to pray and remember what she had been taught when she attended church. So yeah it was a pretty cool/weird experience!

Any way, my second really cool experience was awesome! Mom - prepare yourself - you’re probably going to cry. So this week me and Grandma Wood got real close.:) On Friday I was having a hard day. I was struggling with the language and just being hard on myself. So I was wearing the ring that has her and Grandma Hope’s name on it, and I went and said a prayer to feel comforted and calm and it was amazing. I went and sat back down at my desk and looked down and saw her name on my ring and instantly felt the warmest feeling of the spirit with me. It was like I was being hugged from behind me. I have never felt anything like that in my life! And then the rest of the day I could just feel her so close to me, just helping me get through my day. I know that she is right beside me pushing me to keep my head up and keep working. It was the best part of being at the MTC.

On Saturday we taught one of our teachers who is pretending to be an investigator named Lewis. When we taught him the first time I was so frustrated because I had no idea what he was saying in the lesson and so I couldn’t really say anything back, so I just kind of sat there and put my two cents in when I could. So before our next appointment with him I said a prayer that I would be able to understand what was being said. It was amazing! When we got in there it was so much better I could understand more; not everything, of course. But enough to be able to talk to him and give good insight!

The spirit is just so strong here and I am so grateful to feel it every day when I wake up. Ever since that experience I haven’t been hard on myself and I have been doing amazingly better with the language. I am able to remember more and memorize things so much easier. I think Grandpa Wood has been helping me out a lot on that end! He was quite the wiz at memorization as you all know! I love our family and I am always so grateful for the choices that dad made to join the church and the way both of you raised us. I am so so so blessed to be a part of your family and I will never forget that, and never take for granted how amazing my family is!

So that's basically all the excitement that happened this week. It is all going by so fast and I can’t even explain how fast it goes here! Brothers - you understand - it’s crazy! I can't wait for the day when I have a nasty sick Mexican accent and have trouble speaking English! I am so excited! I love you all and hope your week is amazing like mine is! I want you to all look for blessings that you have in your life this week. Whether big or small, I know that you will all have a lot better week for it! Look for all the good in life that the lord gave you. 

I love you all so much! 

Love Hermana Velasquez!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

8.19.14 "Time's FLYING!"

Our "Lazy River" where we can study outside. It's really pretty because there is a creek with a waterfall we can sit by.
I can’t believe it’s already been two weeks! Its’ crazy that I will be in Mexico TOMORROW! Okay just kidding! I still have 4 more weeks here but I’m sure that got you! Haha! Well this week has been great! It went by so fast its crazy! So from my last letter some updates: The elder from my district that I told you left came back the next day so that was great! "The investigator" we were teaching went well. We got him to agree to go to church and pray about being baptized!

So in our lesson with him on Wednesday I had the strong feeling to give my testimony to him in English. When I would normally do it I would just read my testimony from a piece of paper because I didn’t have everything memorized yet. So I told him to listen and see if he could feel a difference in how I was bearing my testimony. So the first word I said I started bawling! haha it was so bad and it was a really bad ugly cry where you couldn’t breathe! I was trying to plug my nose so I could stop, but then it just turned into this loud gasping for air sound that was really loud. Let’s just say it wasn’t pretty! I don’t even remember the last time I cried like that. haha it wasn’t my finest hour. But I ended up getting it all out and talked about how my father was a convert and got baptized and had to leave his family for a little while. After I was done he said he felt the holy ghost while I was giving my testimony so that was really cool. Before we went into teach him I prayed for a spirit to be there, but I think I prayed a little too hard and it just over took me haha. It was a great experience and the spirit was so strong in the room. So the next day we found out that Mario the investigator we were teaching is now our second teacher! So that kinda made me even more embarrassed about my loud gasping for air cry. haha He is a great teacher and has taught us so much already.

This last Sunday I fasted for me to be able to understand more and get the language down better, and yesterday I already noticed a difference. I was able to memorize a lot more and remember more as well. It truly made me so grateful for the power of fasting! It works people! So for devotional on DOMINGO! was Jenny Oaks Baker! She is the daughter of Elder Oaks! She is well known for playing the violin. She brought her kids and they all played 5 songs for us and she gave her talk in between each song it was amazing!

So you asked about my Companion. She is barely 19, she graduated the same year I did. She was home schooled. She is pretty hard to get along with to be honest, but every day I try to find something good about her, and love her. I won’t say a lot, but she likes to prove me wrong a lot and kinda rub it in my face, so I have just been brushing it off. On Sunday I couldn’t take it anymore so I punched her and that shut her up. Okay, that didn’t really happen, but it did in my mind. What I actually did was sit her down and tell her how I was feeling, I was very nice about it and she said that she has had that problem and she will try and be better at it. But she is a great girl and helps me with my Spanish. I know we were meant to be companions for a reason. She has already taught me a lot and I really do love her for it!

Thanks again for everything you and dad have done for me! I really do appreciate all of your love help and support for my mission. I know I couldn’t do this without the support from my family! So we got to go to gym in the bubbles this week and play volleyball. I taught the girls how to serve and they did really good during our district game! It was fun. Then my companion hit me in the face with the ball twice so that was an experience.

Anyways I have some really cool blessings that I have noticed that have been happening. So first we sit probably 14 hours a day and it’s kinda hard. But my hamstring hasn't bothered me once since I’ve been here! Between working out and sitting all day its doing pretty good. The ringing in my ears doesn't bother me as much and keep me awake at night anymore! I was really excited about that. It is still hard to hear people sometimes, but it’s okay. So do you all remember when I was younger and we would read the B.O.M together and it improved my reading? Well the idea came to me that me and my companion needed to start reading the BOM in Spanish because I have a hard time pronouncing the words. It has been helping, and I know the more I do it the better I will get! I know these blessings are from our heavenly father and he is helping me in the ways I need most! I am so grateful to be here and be blessed in ways that I need the exact most.

I wanted to let you know how much I am really loving it here! Every night I go home so happy and just happy I am here! It’s pretty funny every night before I go to sleep all I think about are Spanish words. And half of the ones I am saying I am probably just making up in my head haha Dad I am kinda getting a taste of what it was like for you going into school not knowing what your teachers were saying to you. I mean it’s not as extreme, but it’s still hard. I don’t know how you did it, but you really inspire me to keep going when I get frustrated! Well I love you all and hope you have the greatest week ever! Thanks again for all of the Dear elders you guys send; it really does lift me up during the day! 

Love, Hermana Velasquez!

 P.S I don’t think I need anything else sent to me, but I don’t know where else my YW necklace would be? And also it’s silver. But I would love if you sent me a hand written letter with the package:) Love you! 
This is Hermana Cookerham... We rewrote a song into a missionary song... kinda, haha!

Mi amiga, Hermana Hoggan.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

8.12.14 The FIRST Letter!! "Mexican Mormon Disneyland"

The classic MTC photo!

A classroom assignment...

My friend from BYUI... Makenzie!

These "bubbles" are where we go for gym!

Me and my companion in class

The District

The sisters in our District

Thumbs up! We are all very happy and love to have fun!

So I am doing great! I honestly love it here! There are so many things that I never would have expected that have happened here! Well first off, I am not on main campus; I'm on west campus. Everyone that is on west campus is going somewhere Spanish speaking, so basically they shoved the Mexicans on the west side...racist? I think so! haha just kidding! It is super cool here because everyone you see here you know speaks Spanish. So everyone here always starts talking to you in Spanish and I think it’s really an advantage for us!
So the first day we were here we had a group lesson with 3 investigators and it was the most intimidating thing ever. We had to answer their questions about the church and just tell them anything we felt they needed to hear. Only one of them was a real investigator; the other two were actors, but they were really good! Another funny story! The first day I was here we had a big meeting with all of the new missionaries on west campus. I turned around and saw the girl behind me and her name on her tag was Hermana Vasquez and I told her "Hey our names are almost alike!" And she just looked at me straight-faced and looked at my name tag and just said "yeah, but you're white." I just didn't say anything and just laughed at it! haha but she looked more white than me and was from Utah so really she's more white by being associated with Utah! I just thought that was funny! I saw her the next day in the book store and she had fallen asleep standing up against the wall hanging onto scarves that were hanging up! hahah I tried to take a picture, but her Companion woke her up! haha it was so funny!
So I'll tell you what I do every day real quick. We wake up at 6:15 and get to class at 7, then breakfast 45 minutes later. Then we have class for three hours and then we go to lunch then gym, then after that we come back to class for three more hours and then get home at 9:30 then to bed an hour later. Out of the whole day we only have 3 hours with a teacher, but that is going to change this week because we are getting another teacher, so it will be 6 hours.
So our teacher only talks to us in Spanish and never English. The first day was really hard, but then after the next few days it got better. I still can't understand every word he says, but I can usually form together what I do know and understand what he says...sometimes. haha but I really do love it here! Dad you were very right! It is fun and we have time to have fun and get to know each other, but we still get a lot done! My district is sooooo great they are so funny and fun to be around. Today was really hard on everyone though, because an elder in our district decided to go home. He was really, really home sick and just couldn't do it. There was no changing his mind about it at all. It's really sad. But seeing him leave just made me want to stay that much more. The fear I had that I would come home early has completely gone! I know this is what I am supposed to be doing, and where I am supposed to be.
So back to the language, it is coming along well. I probably didn't learn this much in the semester of Spanish I took in high school! It’s amazing how the Lord can bless you. I know that I could never learn as much as I did these past 6 days, outside of the MTC this fast! The spirit is so strong here. It's hard not to be happy because everyone around you is so happy. And the weird thing is everything is funny here, and that's probably because everyone is just so happy.
So I already know one reason why I was supposed to be the Relief Society president at school. So we had a meeting the second day we were here with our branch president. We went as a district and he interviewed us one by one. My companion and I got called back in to talk to him and he made us the Hermana Zone training leaders! So we basically watch over all of the sisters in our Zone and train them. It’s pretty much just like what I did in my ward in Rexburg. So that was pretty cool we were both excited. On Sunday we had 5 meetings to go to, but they were all really good and helpful!
So we are teaching an investigator. His name is Mario and each companion takes a turn to teach him the discussions. I'm pretty sure he is going to turn out and be our second teacher, because he isn't a real investigator, but just pretends so we do too! It’s really hard because my companion is really good and can speak really well because she has taken lots of classes. We have taught him three times and yesterday it kinda went downhill. In the beginning of our lesson with him, He and I were having so much fun we were talking and laughing and it was good, then my companion kinda took it in the opposite direction. We started the lesson we had planned and it was hard for me to really understand what they were talking about. So at the end of the lesson they were talking and she started talking and I started realizing what she was saying and she asked him to be baptized and all I was thinking was crap. He wasn't ready at all and we hadn't even taught him about baptism or the Holy Ghost or anything. So I'm sitting there trying to say something, but I didn't know how to say it in Spanish. So basically he just laughed and said no. She felt bad she said it, but I just told her that we will just fix it when we teach him tomorrow. I know it will be fine and we can fix it. I'll let you know how it turns out.
So to let you know Tuesday is my P-DAY. And I leave for Mexico on September 15th and I get home February 1st, 2016. I was kinda bummed that I'm not getting my whole year and  a half, but that's just the way it’s going to work out. So real quick we went to the temple and we got to do sealings and it was great! I love you so much and hope you are doing great! Thank you for being the best parents anyone could ever have! Yo se que jesucristo creo la terria padre clestil e jesucristo creo nosotros. yo se que el elvangelio de cristo es verdader e que dios es muy amoroso e compresico. Este conocimiento me ayuda vivr feliz en el nombre de jesucristo, Amen. I hope that made sense! I love you and write me on dear elder! It is soooo nice getting little notes every day!
Oh I left my little socks so I need some and they don't sell them here. I also don't need my temple clothes sent!
-Love Hermana Velasquez.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

MTC... Here I Come!!!!!!!!!

Today, August 6, 2014, I get to enter the MTC to start my mission, and last night I was set apart as a missionary. (Don't worry... I'm not breaking any missionary rules being on the computer... my mom is editing what I posted on facebook yesterday before I was set apart. From here on out, she'll post my letters so you can all share in my mission!) (MY MOM IS THE BEST, ISN'T SHE?!) It went by so fast and I couldn't be more ready and excited! My mom made this blog and she will post my letters and pictures on here. I also have my mailing and email addresses on here as well. I would love to hear from anyone! Thank you for all of those who came to see me give my talk for my farewell I loved seeing you all there. Thanks for all the support and love! I'll see you in 18 months!

We had a fantastic day together, leaving home early so we'd have some more fun times together! My brother Eric rode in the car with me and my parents and taught me some helpful phrases, plus the days of the week in ESPANOL!  Donde esta el bano? Eric kept the mood cheery and light and helped everyone TRY not to cry!  (Why would anyone cry?  I'M GOING ON A MISSION!)

It was a beautiful day in Utah; not too hot, no rain, PERFECT. We enjoyed the beauty on Temple Square, visited the Christus, ate on the top floor of the Joseph Smith Building, and then headed to Provo, where we met at the Provo Temple grounds, said our "see you laters" and then drove across the street to the MTC!  FINALLY ON MY MISSION!


Here's my great big wonderful family! We always have such an amazing time when we're all together! One big, loud, sometimes obnoxious, great family! I'm grateful to know that we have the eternities to be together.