Thursday, 28 February 2013

No Growth in the Comfort Zone!


I hope everyone is having a good week at home! This past week absolutely FLEW here. It is so weird, I feel like I've been here for forever, but at the same time I feel like I was just sending out emails yesterday. I don't think I'll ever get used to how time passes here.
But it has been really, really good. It's funny how quickly everything has become "normal" to me here. We have such an amazing capacity to adjust, and I'm so lucky to have a district that gets along so well. But seriously, ME waking up at 6:30 every morning on the reg? That's a miracle in and of itself.
The language is... well it's coming. Sometimes I have to remind myself that it has only been 2 weeks. I feel so frustrated not being able to fully express myself, but I also recognize that my purpose is not to learn Spanish, it is to serve and work to my best ability and those things will come. 

Our classroom where we spend most of ouurr ttimmee...

My compenera and I were practicing teaching a lesson to an older couple that's here serving a temple mission, and afterwards we had a chance to talk for a little bit. Hearing about the people here is seriously the best -- I love the openness and honesty of the culture (watch out -- I may come back pretty sassy).
But what stood out to me most was their advice when it came to the language (and I guess it could be applied to anything else). She shared this quote with us,

 "There is no comfort in the growth zone, 
but there is no growth in the comfort zone." 

I see this every single day that I'm here. I am reaching and stretching and growing, and the funny thing is, it's not for me or about me. 

Heavenly Father is making me into the person He needs me to be and that my mission needs me to be.

It is going to be so hard (and fun), but pass so fast.

So, on a lighter note, this is one of my favorita maestros, Hermano Nunez. He is HILARIOUS. So much '-tude' it seriously kills me. 

He first started learning English through listening to American music and watching MTV music videos. 

Last week he told me I looked like Vanessa Carlton... thoughts? ahah
Hermano Nunez
(yay for awk missionary pics!)

He also told me that if you say my name "hermana coe" fast, 
it sounds like "I wanna coke" so he is constantly asking, 
"Are you sure you don't wanna coke?"
Hermana Coe-ke

We finally got a chance to leave the CCM this week to go to the store. We are in a super wealthy american-ized area of the capitol so the store was pretty much like a walmart back home, and we passed a krispy kreme, pizza hut, and KFC on our way there. It was nice to have a chance to get some things I had forgotten, but let's be honest, the majority of what I got was made up of oreos and diet coke (priorities, priorities...)
(Katherine and Jess - you should be proud, also it's the coke light stuff, LOVE) 
So apparently I live up to my new nickname....

NOTE from Sue - Here's some pics Kenzie sent of where she is living.
The Mission Training Center (or CCM) is the 3rd floor of this building.   
The other floors are church offices, and apartments that can be used by people who come to attend the temple. (The Santo Domingo Temple is the only one in the Carribbean, so people come to visit it from many different islands in the area)
The Santo Domingo Temple, adjacent to the CCM

View out the window of our building

We also said goodbye to our Haitian district. I will miss them sooo much. However it's probably a good thing, because I've started confusing French phrases with my English and Spanish ones....
But, all in all everything is great! I was talking with Hermana Christensen about being here the other night. I know that we always have opportunities for missionary work...
but this experience will be so unique and once in a lifetime.

I get to fully devote myself every day for 18 months to serving my God.  

I get to wear Christ's name right next to mine every day. 

Lucky girl, right?
lots of love,
Hermana Coke

Catching some rays on P-day with Hermana Christensen & Mero
(p-day = preparation day - Kenzie's is Thursday, a day off from studying to rest, do laundry, write letters, etc.)

P.S. I sent out lots of letters last friday; sounds like the pouch mail isn't too reliable, so keep an eye out!

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Companions, Spanish & Bananaaaaas

So...the title of this post is not Kenzie's, but I didn't want to title all the posts the boring date of the letter, so I took a little liberty as the editor of this blog to title it myself...hope kenzie won't mind :-)

I've also inserted some pics she sent me - yay!

In the Miami Airport, headed south!

First day -- Kenzie, the mission president and his wife

The group of missionaries at the Dominican Republic MTC

Feb 21, 2013

This past week has been a blur. When we were first driving from the airport to the CCM (Centro de Capaticion Misional, a.k.a. MTC), Hermana Freestone (The MTC President's wife) told us that the days here seem to feel like weeks, but the weeks tend to fly by like days. She could NOT have been more right.

I was exhausted the first few days I was here and my emotions were all over the place. The lifestyle change, surrounded by new people, and frustrated with a new language was so overwhelming.

But luckily Heavenly Father knew what I needed and our lessons Sunday reminded me why I was here. I also adore mi companera, Hermana Christensen. She is seriously my best friend. We get along so well and have lots in common. She cracks me up. We've helped each other alot through all of our frustrations.
Hermana Coe and her companion, Hermana Christensen

On Saturday during our physical activity time we were able to play games with the kids who were here visiting the temple with their families. We had so much fun teaching them 'duck, duck, goose' (or in our case; 'gato, gato, perro' because let's be honest, we didn't know the word for goose...)

The food our first few days was straight up banana flavored. Banana pancakes, banana bread, bananas... but the "best" was what we deemed Banana Lasagna, a.k.a. pastalone de platano maduro. That stuff was gnarlyy. I'm happy to say that besides those few days they've been mixing it up, and luckily I absolutely love the rice & beans we have for most of our meals, its delish.

Kenzie, her companion, and their two Haitian roommates

Learning Spanish has been hard but I'm progressing, I can now bear my testimony in Spanish and we've started teaching lessons in Spanish as of last Saturday (talk about moving fast.) I feel like I've grown so much already. Although yesterday in class when I was trying to help one of the hermanas explain that she was red because she was embarrassed not hot, I accidentally called her "embarazada" (sp? maybe an s) which turns out actuallly means pregnant.... oops. Wasn't my first mistake and I'm sure it won't be the last!

Yo se que Jesucristo es el Hijo del Dios y mi Salvador. Yo se que la iglesia de Jesucristo de los santos de los ultimos dias es verdadera. Yo se que el Libro de Mormon es verdadero. Estoy muy agredecido por la expiacion. Se que esta es verdad a recibir benidiciones.

I love you all, I love this church, I love the people of the Dominican Republic,

Te Amo,
Hermana Coe
P.S. Thanks for all the letters this week, I needed them more than you could know. Keep 'em coming :)

One of the highlights of my week was having the Munive family visit me!! They are my best friend's family (aunt and uncle). They brought me the sweetest treats and hugs. They are angels, it is so nice to feel so looked after and cared about away from home. I could not ask for a better family away from my family. 
P.S. Your sister does look just like you, Hermana North:-)
P.P.S. Emily is going to make a rad missionary someday)

Note from Sue:  Kenzie's good friend Michelle, has an aunt, uncle & 3 cousins living in the D.R. (small world, right?)  I believe Aunt & cousins are the four on the right side of the pic above.  Emily, in the pink shirt, attends BYU-Idaho and lived a few doors down from Abbie last semester in the dorms.  She posted this pic on abbie's facebook last week, and it was so fun for us to see it!!

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Letter from Kenzie (2/14/13)

FYI from Sue:  
When Kenzie refers to 'Sisters' she is talking about other female missionaries -- they are all called "Sister So&So" (or, Hermana So&So, if we are speaking spanish, which I don't!), and the male missionaries are referred to as "Elders."   

Also, Kenzie will spend the next 6 weeks at the Mission Training Center in the capital city of Santo Domingo, learning to speak Spanish and studying scripture & gospel doctrines.  She will then be assigned an area to begin serving/teaching with her companion.  

We were so excited to hear from her this morning & so happy to know she is doing well!


So, I have a timer in the upper right hand corner of my screen counting down from 30 minutes so I apologize if this seems rushed! Thirty minutes is not nearly enough time to express everything I'm feeling and want to tell you right now! I also realized that I should have uploaded my pictures to the computer before logging on, so expect pictures next week! (I only have like two so that's probably better anyways)
So traveling here was crazy! I don't know if dad told you but we saw a bag labeled MTC(missionary training center) when we were checking my baggage, so I was pretty comforted that another missionary would be on my flight. However I got there and after staring everyone down I couldn't find another hermana or elder! I fell asleep the second I got on the plane(I'm talking like before we even took off) and when I woke up I happened to look across the aisle and the girl sitting there was reading a copy of 'Preach My Gospel'!  There were 4 other missionaries on the flight with me who were coming from Utah. Their flight had been delayed so they had snuck on at the last second. They are all way awesome, we met up with a few other girls in the Miami airport and all nine of us flew on to the DR. I was so blessed to feel comfortable the rest of my flights, and besides the homesickness I felt after saying goodbye to you guys at the airport, it's been great ever since (well it's been 24 hours so I don't know how much that's really saying).

We arrived at the airport and President and Hermana Freestone (the MTC Mission Pres & his wife) were both there waiting for us with huge smiles.

But here's the craziest part, I walked outside and all I could think was how it smelled just like India. Call me crazy but I got this goofy smile on my face and all I could keep thinking was that I was ''home''. The Lord sent me home, I'm so grateful for the things that have prepared me for this moment and India was a huge one of them. I love the people already - they are so outgoing and loving (at least the ones I've met, still the first day...).

Last night I was assigned my first companion, Hermana Christensen. She's from Utah, she's way cool and I can't wait to get to know her better. We are roommates with two Haitian sisters who don't speak very much English but they are so mild mannered and kind. I really wish that I could learn more about them and their backgrounds.

So here are some fun facts, My MTC currently has 30 of us here. The group of sister's is the largest that has come at one time and our district does not have one elder in it. How crazy is that? (5 of us are going east, 4 west). There is another group of missionaries here from north america, they are all heading to Puerto Rico and have four elders. Other than that we have a large group of Haitian elders that will be going back to serve in Haiti and that's pretty much it.

The temple is beautiful, looking out the window from the hallway we can see the temple, palm trees, and the ocean. I can't wait until we get to explore a little.

Elder Rasband spoke to us today, it was great, more on that later!

Adios, love and miss you all
Hermana Coe

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

And, She's Off! (plus mail info)

Hi!  This is Sue.  Abbie & I will be updating this blog with news and letters from Kenzie -- hopefully weekly!  We had the bittersweet experience of dropping her off at LAX this morning, and can't wait for our first update.  We did speak with her when she landed in Miami, and she sounded terrific!  She assured us that she had met up with the other missionaries traveling to the D.R. today, and that made both Dave & I feel better :-)

She will LOVE hearing from you, so here's the lowdown on how to write her.

Since she won't be using social media or a personal email account.  And, since the mail system in the Dominican Republic is a bit unreliable, the Church has set up a 'Pouch Mail System' that will ensure that she gets our letters.  Basically, letters are sent to Church Headquarters in Salt Lake City, and then carried by private courier to the D.R. every Friday.

There are two ways to use the Pouch Mail System --

1.  Type your letter on and they will print it & deliver it to Church Headquarters to be shipped with the Pouch Mail.

- or -

2. Write your letter & mail it to Church Headquarters, where it will be be added to the Pouch Mail for the rest of it's journey!

Here's detailed instructions for each option:

Option 1: Using website
Create an account
Click "Pouch Mail"
Select "Dominican Republic MTC" Mission
(or "Santo Domingo East Mission" after Mar 27th)
Click "Write Letter"
Fill in Kenzie's name
Type your letter & hit send!

Best of all ... it's free!

Option 2:  Mail to Pouch Mail
Write a letter on one sheet of paper (heavier weight than notebook paper)
Fold into thirds
Secure the long side with two pieces of tape about 1" in from each end
Do not seal the ends
Address it to:
   Sister Mackenzie Anne Coe
   Dominican Republic Santo Domingo East Mission
   POB 30150
   Salt Lake City UT 84130-0150
Just takes one regular 46-cent stamp

If you want to brave the mail system, here is her address for letters at the MTC until March 27th:
   Sister Mackenzie Anne Coe
   Dominican Republic Santo Domingo East Mission
   Dominican Republic MTC
   Avenida Bolivar # 825
   Los Robles
   Santo Domingo
   Dominican Republic
I think the postage is $1.10, but don't quote me on that yet :-)

If you want to send a package, ummm, I'm confused as to the address to use for that at the moment.  I'll post it when I can figure it out :-)


Kenzie's Farewell Address

Kenzie spoke in church the Sunday before she left - she did a beautiful job & I thought I'd share her thoughts for anyone who wasn't able to be there. (Sue)


Good morning! I am so grateful to have the opportunity to be able to speak to you today. This ward has played such a huge role in my life and I’m so grateful to be here. This past November I received my mission call to the Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo East Mission, Spanish Speaking. I report this Wednesday and I couldn’t be more excited. This couldn’t feel more right.

Today I’m going to be speaking on bringing others to Christ. So first of all, what does coming unto Christ mean? We’ve all heard this phrase said millions of times. In the final chapter of the Book of Mormon, Moroni exhorts us to “come unto Christ.” This plea is one of the last things he writes. In Moroni 10: 32 it reads “Yea come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and love God with all your might. mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God”

We live in the world that offers us many choices in who we should come unto. Different philosophies, religions, political groups, all clamoring for our attention and allegiance. Why Come unto Christ? Simply stated, because no other way leads to eternal life. Jesus made this bold declaration: “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me”.

Christ is extending his hand to each of us, but it is our responsibility to take those steps towards him. Some of the ways that we can come unto Christ may seem simple. We can learn of him by reading the scriptures and work to acquire the traits he showed. We can attend our church meetings on Sunday and try to focus ourselves on service to others. As we work to come unto Him we will be blessed. 
In Matthew 11:28- 30 it reads “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
The Savior extends His generous invitation simply because He loves us and He knows we need Him. He can help us and heal us. He understands us because of His own experiences. The scriptures report: “And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind … , that he may know … how to succor his people according to their infirmities” (Alma 7:11-12). We want to come unto Christ because it is only in Him and through Him that we can return to the Father.
I, personally, know that I learn best through stories so I’d like to share one with you, It was given in the April 1998 General Conference by Margaret D. Nadauld.
“A simple thing happened many years ago that I have always remembered because it caused me to think about the Savior’s mission. Although it was just a childish incident, it has some meaning. It happened when our twins were only about five years old. They were just learning to ride their bicycles. As I glanced out the window, I saw them speeding down the street on their bikes going very fast! Perhaps they were going a little too fast for their level of ability, because all of a sudden Adam had a terrible crash! He was tangled up in the wreck, and all I could see was a twist of handlebars and tires and arms and legs. His little twin brother, Aaron, saw the whole thing happen, and immediately he skidded to a stop and jumped off his bike. He threw it down and ran to the aid of his brother, whom he loved very much. These little twins truly were of one heart. If one hurt, so did the other. If one got tickled, they both laughed. If one started a sentence, the other could complete it. What one felt, the other did also. So it was painful for Aaron to see Adam crash! Adam was a mess. He had skinned knees, he was bleeding from a head wound, his pride was damaged, and he was crying. In a fairly gentle, five-year-old way, Aaron helped his brother get untangled from the crash, he checked out the wounds, and then he did the dearest thing. He picked his brother up and carried him home. Or tried to. This wasn’t very easy because they were the same size, but he tried. And as he struggled and lifted and half-dragged, half-carried his brother along, they finally reached the front porch. By this time, Adam, the injured one, was no longer crying, but Aaron, the rescuer, was. When asked, “Why are you crying, Aaron?” he said simply, “Because Adam hurts.” And so he had brought him home to help, home to someone who knew what to do, to someone who could cleanse the wounds, bind them up, and make it better—home to love.
Just as one twin helped his brother in need, so might we all be lifted, helped, even carried at times by our beloved Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.  He feels what we feel; He knows our heart. It was His mission to wipe away our tears, cleanse our wounds, and bless us with His healing power. He can carry us home to our Heavenly Father with the strength of His matchless love.”
I love this story because it really shows what coming unto Christ is all about. Love. Our Heavenly Father loved us so much that he sent his beloved Son to die for us. We were given such a great gift and now it is our own responsibility to take advantage of that.
When we are given something so great, it becomes our own responsibility to share it with others. We must turn outward, reaching out to those around us and helping them to gain this same knowledge that each of us here has been blessed with. But I also feel that when our love for the Savior becomes so great, sharing it becomes our natural instinct. In Lehi’s vision of the Tree of Life, when he partakes of the the fruit that represents the gospel, he immediately looks for his family and those people that he loves. He doesn’t keep it all for himself, he wants all to taste the fruit. I think this is truly what missionary work is about. It is not about recruiting or numbers, it is feeling our Savior’s love so greatly and feeling the blessings of the gospel that we want to give to all those around us. We can become an instrument in the Lord’s hands to help other’s come unto Christ and find their way home to our Heavenly Father.
In Preach my Gospel it states the goal and purpose of each missionary which is to “invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.”
But this work is not only for young boys and girls leaving their home for an extended period of time. We can each be member missionaries right here at home. In a way we can turn the story I told earlier and place ourselves in the role of the brother. That type of love and service brings such great joy.
Russell M. Nelson in his talk Be Thou an Example of the Believers expounded upon this saying:  “To each of us comes the mandate to share the gospel of Christ. When our lives comply with God’s own standard, those within our sphere of influence will never speak the lament, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.”
The perfect Shepherd of souls, the missionary who redeemed mankind, gave us His divine assurance:
“If it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!
“And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!”
Of Him who spoke these words, I declare my personal witness. He is the Son of God, our Redeemer, and our Savior.
Something as simple as being a good example, living what you believe, performing an act of service, or answering a friend’s question about the gospel make you a member missionary. No matter what you or anyone else are struggling with the Savior has the ability to heal all wounds, lift our burdens and carry them for us, we can feel “encircled about eternally in the arms of his love”. And how could a message like that be difficult to share?
Surely it pleases the Lord when we, His children, reach out to one another, to give help along the way, and to bring another closer to Christ. He taught in Mathew 25:40, “[When] ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me”. He wants us to “mourn with those that mourn[,] … comfort those that stand in need of comfort” (Mosiah 18:9), and “by love serve one another” (Gal. 5:13).  And what greater service can we give than to bless a life or a family with this gospel. With the knowledge that they can be together forever, the knowledge that someone else understands the things they are struggling with and wants to help them and comfort them.
I love Russell M Nelson’s testimony at the end of that same talk. he says “I pray that we will have the courage to extend the hand of fellowship, the tenacity to try and try again, and the humility needed to seek guidance from our Father as we fulfill our mandate to share the gospel. The responsibility is upon us, brethren. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”
I add my testimony to that of Elder Nelson ...

(sorry this ends kind of abruptly, but Kenzie didn't write down her conclusion;
she spoke from her heart :-)