Monday, 29 April 2013

Doors of Many Colors

Hello all! Lots of pictures this week.
I so wish that I could email videos. I've started making videos with my companion when funny things are going on or we record ourselves telling funny or special stories from the day. They are super entertaining -- hopefully I can share some of them when I get home!

People here paint their houses the raddest colors. I have a new obsession with taking pictures of cool colored houses and doors.

We climb up and down TONS of these stairwells every single day.

My tanlines from my sandals are getting GNARLY :-)

Hna Avery and I!  She is the best, she helps all of us in the house so much.  She only has one transfer left in the mission. I can't even imagine being that far along right now!  She straightened my hair this Sunday and it was super weird!  First time I've done anything to it since getting here, and I feel like its grown a lot!

Hna Prestwich and I! This transfer only has a week left, I don't know where the time has gone. I have no idea what they're doing with all of us next transfer!

I love how the people here decorate around their front doors. They put the most random things together and they turn out rad. Saw this really cool seashell wind chime thing. Made such pretty sounds in the wind. Dad, you're gunna have to help me figure out how to make one when I get home!  

This one is for you Porter!
Definitely a "There. I fixed it!" moment. 
I am always amazed by the millions of uses for zip-ties I see here!

Our stake center and the building where my ward meets. I couldn't help but take a picture because of how beautiful the clouds were that day! Sometimes I'm in awe of how much beauty there is to find here. I have lots of "Woah, I'm on a beautiful island in the middle of the ocean!" moments every week.

Went to the Conde today, it's a touristy little street full of shops.
 It was fun to get out and explore this P-day.

This is the oldest cathedral in the western hemisphere - 

Me, and a bust that I'm pretty sure was of Christopher Colombus' son - Lots of history here that I would like to learn more about!

And a quick story. Had a really special moment this week when my companion and I decided to drop by the house of a woman we have been teaching.  We had lost contact with her for a few weeks, but one day in the pouring rain, she screeched to a halt in her car while we were walking and explained she'd been out of town & was sorry she had missed us.  We set up another appointment, but later we realized we wouldn't be able to make it. So, on a day that we had several other citas (appts) fall through, we decided to just stop by to try and reschedule with her.  When we got there she was visibly very upset.  She told us that a really close friend, who she had viewed as a daughter, had passed away at 18.  She invited us in to say a prayer with her, and we were able to talk with her about the plan of Salvation and the comfort we find in the gospel, before giving her a hug as we left.  I know we were supposed to be there at that moment. It was really special to me because a lot of times we don't see the Lord's timing.  We can't know how what we are doing affects others; it just isn't always obvious to us.  But in that day, and in that moment, I know why I was here in the Dominican Republic in Gazcue frustrated with all of our citas falling through.

Keep that in mind as you love and you serve 
and treasure those tender mercies the Lord places in your way!

much love
hna Coe

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Wait . . . Why was I freaking out?

So I guess its only fair that I let you know how intercambios went on friday after my long & dramatic story last week... oops, haha, sorry about that!

So when friday rolled around, they actually called and gave me the option to stay in the house again. I was so mad! (still working on that whole graceful and mature thing) 

I was feeling so prepared and ready to accomplish what was expected of me, and here they were making me choose again!  I really just wanted someone to tell me what to do ... but I guess that's kind of not what I'm here to learn.  They also wanted a decision quickly.

After some thought and prayer I walked out of my room and told the sisters, "I've decided I'm going, but I don't want anybody to talk to me about it." (once again ... grace and maturity)

It was so weird seeing the girls that would be coming out with us because we had overlapped my last two weeks in the CCM! I was trying really hard not to freak out the girl who would be coming out with me by pretending everything was totally cool, but people kept blowing my cover.

One of the APs walked over to shake my hand  and said, "Hermana Coe, I'm so proud of you!"  

I'm pretty sure the hermana I was with figured she was paired up with the dud, but it ended up being a really good experience. My Spanish was rough, but I knew enough to get by.  I may not have been super clear, but I taught two perfectly good lessons, and no one laughed at me or threw any rotten fruit.  (Honestly, I'm not really sure what I was afraid they would do; fear is funny like that.)

Hna Stephens, who I was with (leaves for puerto rico tomorrow!) was a really good sport and was totally up for the adventure with me. We even treated ourselves to ice cream afterwards:) 

It's also amazing to think about how much I have progressed since intercambios, I really could communicate a lot more than when I first came out into the field. 

Baby steps, but I've also really learned that you don't learn unless your pushing yourself. I wanted to go on intercambios because I know that scarier things will be required of me, and I might as well cross this bridge now and at least prove to myself that, with my Savior backing me up, I can accomplish things I never thought possible. 

This is a picture of all of us living in the house the day Hermana Valenzuela left for Guatemala! It was funny because during the time when I was writing my blog post last week we got a call saying she was leaving the next day, and to go home and pack. I miss her tons -- it seems like just when you start getting used to something here, it changes! I guess that's how we´re always learning right?  

She really helped me a lot with my Spanish because when we were out of the house, that was all we could speak. I hope she is doing well! Also sorry for looking so weird in this picture, I felt like I looked like a pioneer that day...

Never a dull moment. Getting stuff down! I got demoted to picture-taker because I'm short and weak, although I will say I'm developing some gnarly calf muscles from all of the walking. Our area is really, really long and our farthest appointment once a week we have to walk for an hour + lots of hills and stairs -- makes for a good work out! Also the lines you can see in this picture are also for hanging things up to dry.

Sunday we decided to try sardines. Hna Laughlin bought them because they were in "Louisiana" hot sauce (I can't even make fun of her, I bought a certain box of raisins because they said "california" really big on the front). Please excuse my nasty sweaty self. The power was out when we got home and without any fans or a/c our house gets pretty warm.  I surprisingly, don't really mind it, which is definitely a blessing. Also, the sardines really weren't as gnarly as they looked or smelled...

It has started raining here ALL the time. Luckily for me I have a rad, small umbrella that I can carry with me (thanks Tanguays) which helps to not weigh my backpack down to much, and the rain is actually pretty warm. Although I've heard May rains even more, hence my note for the day - April showers bring . . . May showers.

I like to write about silly things that happen during my day so that I can remember them when I look back, maybe next week I'll do a post of some of them! Or kind of a day in the life? I'm open to suggestions!  Let me know if there's anything you want to know about :-)

M A I L    (I LOVE IT :-)
The two Florida address (updated now on the sidebar) work great!  They DO NOT need to be pouch style (i.e. no envelope...).   Just send them like u normally would, with a normal US stamp, and they will get sent to the DR.

Also, if you send a package, make sure you send it to the "package address" and not the letter address-- it' a lot more expensive for the mission when they mail it over, if it was sent to the wrong one.

I live really close to the office, so I can pick up mail very, very often :-) when I pass by, and mail gets delivered there every day!!

Also, letters are great too.

As far as emailing goes, as far as I know we are now allowed to receive emails from friends too (not just family), however, I only get an hour every Monday to email, so I really don't have time to respond on here. But if you would like to email me, please make sure to include your address in the email, so that I can snail mail you back!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

"The Lord takes care of His own"

 Welcome to 'mormon missionary jargon 101'. This is the editor, (sue :-)  I'm not exactly an expert on this, but will attempt to explain; to aid in understanding Kenzie's letter.
    *Transfer - every 6 weeks, many of the missionaries are reassigned to a different geographic area within their mission, and/or assigned a different companion to serve with.
     *CCM (called the MTC in english) - stands for 'Missionary Training Center' - missionaries typically spend 6 weeks there if they are learning a new language, 3 if not.
     *Intercambios (spanish for exchanges) - when a pair of missionaries each spends the day or evening with a different companion; sometimes that companion is a missionary who is still in the CCM, or a member of the local congregation -- I'm guessing it would be pretty challenging to do so early in your mission, because it puts you in a 'lead' role, without a senior companion to lean on.

(Editors Note:   I'm not totally sure why Kenzie sent
 this lovely pic with her letter this week --
maybe because she says it's been a crazy week, 
and this is her 'crazy face'??  

Hola my loves!

I hope all is well with you! This past week started out crazy, and it never slowed down. There are a lot of changes going on in the mission field, and things are a little crazy (organizational & structure-wise). The number of sister missionaries is more than doubling this next transfer and it's projected to do the same again in June or July. It's wonderful ... but also one of the hardest, most stressful things going on at the moment. I never realized how this huge growth (in the # of missionaries) would affect training, and so many aspects of the mission.

So, I have kind of a funny story to share with you all this week.  I'm sure that everyone who knows me, knows that ...

 I am handling all of these challenges and changes with grace and maturity!

But I am nothing, if not a little bit bluntly honest, and I couldn't help but laugh at myself when I wrote this story down in my journal, so just promise not to judge me toooo much as you read :)

So here goes...from my journal:

Friday morning Hna. Valenzuela (who didn't end up being able to leave for Guatemala yet... long story) ate a piece of pizza with pineapple on it. She is super allergic so we all ended up having to be rushed to the pharmazy by the 3 APs to get medicine. On the way back to our house, Hna. Prestwich overheard them saying something about intercambios (exchanges) with the sisters in the CCM (girls who are about 4 weeks  into their training there). She asked the Elders what they were talking about. So long story short, we found out that our trio was supposed to do intercambios with 4 girls from the CCM one hour from whatever time it was then. Hna Prestwich would have two girls and Hna Valenzuela and I would both take one. I was absolutely freaking out & I thought they were joking, for a good ten minutes. One of the girls in my house, who is almost done with her mission, was telling us she didn't do intercambios with the CCM until she was 7 months into her mission, so ... at 2.5 weeks into my mission, I was feeling a little bit overwhelmed. I kept saying I was going to get lost, or not be able to understand whoever I was teaching, or freak out the girl I was put with. One of the elders started making me practice my spanish with him, by asking ridiculous questions like, "How many siblings do you have?"  I just kept saying I only had two weeks in the field and I didn't know how I was going to do this, and that I needed chocolate (I know, I know, I'm a girl, its like, in our genes.) The best part was that right after that, Elder Watkins started digging through his bag ("I have oreo's; how about beef jerky? do you like applesauce?") At one point I even remember telling them to all "stop staring at me, I need to think." At which point they all immediately turned around.  (I'm sure that they were all sufficiently freaked out, and thinking that girls were weird). We got back to the house, at which point, I ran inside and proceeded to bawl like a baby. I didn't know what to think or how to react. And after recieving advice in both Spanish and English, (gotta love Hna. Valenzuela - I don't think she had any idea what was totally going on, but she tried) I prayed, and I prayed hard. I know you're probably waiting for the inspirational part . . . where I went out and magically spoke spanish, and it was the best . . . but, actually, it turned out that Hna. Avery was going to take 2 of the girls, and I only had to stay with Hna. Laughlin, who was stuck inside, sick...

...but here is the moral to this story.

Missions are hard.
I am going to have hard things required of me.
We recently learned that we will be doing these intercambios every friday for basically forever, and this friday I will need to be out there. I have been working so much harder to learn and prepare myself.  If nothing else, this past friday made me realize that, and UP my effort. 
I have to be stronger. President told us that we are the foundation for all the girls to come. We will have more expected and required of us, SO much faster than any time in the past.

I don't know why I am here in the Dominican Republic in April of 2013. 
I don't know why I am in a position where I will most likely be training newer missionaries most of my mission -- something that most missionaries never experience until the very end of their mission.
I don't know why, but the one thing I do know is that my Heavenly Father does
He trusts me to be here right now, and I don't need to know why. 
That's what I'm realizing.
The Lord  "calls us in our weakness and qualifies us for the work".

I am just a normal person, I freak out, I cry, and sometimes I need chocolate (don't worry, I prepared for this week when we went to the store today). But I have also been called by a prophet of God to be here and to wear the name of my Savior and to teach about His church. Nowhere in my call did it say I was required to be perfect, or know everything, or to be the best - it just required me to do MY best. All I can do is to learn and grow and progress and take each day one at a time, and sometimes an hour at a time, and keep going. I loved in Katherine's letter to me this week when she said "the Lord takes care of His own."  I'm doing His work. I am feeding His sheep. I have a long way to go, but what better place to start than at the beginning right?

much love
Hermana Coe
Our cute house - a tender mercy from the Lord -- It's the same color as my room at home :-)

The laundry :-)

"God hath not promised skies always blue,
flower-strewn pathways all our lives through.

God hath not promised sun without rain,
joy without sorrow, peace without pain.

But God hath promised strength for the day, 
rest for the laborer, light on the way,
Grace for the trial, help from above, 
unfailing sympathy, undying love."


Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Trust in the Lord

¨The simple secret is this, 
put your trust in the Lord, do your best, 
then leave the rest to Him¨

Sorry for not being able to write yesterday! 
But I promise I have a legit excuse... I was in CHINA!
Okay, just kidding, 
but really yesterday was crazy, walked all over my mission looking for a place that takes passport photos for one of my companions, Hna Valenzuela.
(long story, she's from here and waiting on a visa, so she can leave on her 'real' mission in Guatemala.) 
It was way frustrating; and we ran out of time for writing home, 
and ended up having to go all the way to China town to get it done. 
 And today we spent the whole morning waiting for our ride to the embassy, but we finally made it and they surprised us when we found out that her Visa had come through 
and they're booking her flight today to leave for Guatemala tomorrow! 
Crazy stuff.

Entonces, Today marks my two months on the mish 
and two weeks in the field (i.e., out of the mission training center). 

It´s hard to believe, 2 of the fastest and longest months of my whole entire life. 

Once again its been a crazy busy week and p-days never seem to have enough time to do all the stuff I need to, and write all the people I want to! 

I´m sending some pictures this week of the city. 
Sometimes it hits me that I´m on an island and its the weirdest realization ever.
I just look around and its all very surreal. 

I love my companion, she really is the best.

General Conference was the bomb.  We were only able to watch the two sunday sessions but we were lucky enough to be able to listen to them in the bishop's house in ENGLISH. I could have cried. I haven't felt so relaxed and peaceful in a long time; not necessarily in a bad way, it's just always so busy and new, that relaxed and comfortable are definitely not the words I would use to describe my life. Change really is the only consistant thing.

We´re teaching and contacting and praying and learning and I know that I´m growing more than I could anywhere else right now.

I also have a huge testimony of service and the joy that it brings. You really do love those that you serve and that love overcomes fear and frustration. I felt that love in india and I´m working my hardest to feel it here. It was one of the most powerful things I´ve experienced. Can´t remember who said this but ¨Love many things for therein lies strengrth, and what is done in love is done well¨

 We made a version of tomato basil pasta last week!
(honestly we´re not sure it was basil but it tasted pretty close, I was a fan)

And this is how we clean all of our fruit -- bleach and water.
We use bleach for everything.

So this week we took a Gua Gua (bus named after the sound of the horn) to our District Meeting. They are like 14-passenger vans that they cram tons of people onto. They run on a certain path and charge 25 pesos no matter how far you want to take them, you just tell them to stop whenever you get there. Personal space is not a real thing on the Gua Gua and they always make for an adventure. Last week a man got on with a live chicken. No big deal, just casually holding a chicken goin' for a ride.

Lots of love
sed de buen animo!
hna Coe