Wednesday, February 26, 2014

one last picture


Counting My Blessings (5)

Hola familia y amigos!!!

My time in the MTC is down to a mere 5 days. Where has time gone!!!  This has truly been an AMAZING experience, and after this all my emails will be from Mexico!!!

First off, thank you Sister Mosher for the donuts! I was actually wishing for some Krisy Kreme donuts earlier in the week, and then BOOM I got a paper saying I had  package! The same thing happened with my wishing for chicken parm! I has been dying for some, and the BOOM again we had it for dinner like 3 days later. Heavenly Father obviously knows that when Hermana Westergard's stomach is happy, her investigators and companions are happy too.

We have a new investigator named Carols! He is a less active RM who has issues with people at church. It is really interesting teaching him, he already knows all the doctrine, and he has a really strong testimony about the church and everything else...he's just struggling. It is entirely different teaching someone like this, but I love it. I feel like I can open up with him more, just because he already has a foundation and a testimony of what we are talking about. We had SUCH A COOL TRC experience too! TRC is when we talk with random people for like 20 minutes, and just try to help them come closer to Christ. This week and last week, we get to Skype! We skyped a boy Steeven from Ecuador, he recently received his missionary call to Peru, and he was just chilling in a hammock talking to us. SO AWESOME!! I love seeing how such drastically different people all share a love for the gospel. It is so amazing.

All of the teachers love my district! According to multiple sources, so I'm not just tooting my own horn here. They love us, and we love them!!! It is so cool to see where they are at in their lives. The majority of them are engaged/recently married, so it gives me hope that I have the potential to be normal when I get back from my mission too hahaha. Since they are in the different stages of marriages situation though, it is very easy to get them side tracked. We always get the Hermanos to tell how they met their wife/fiance, how they proposed, when the wedding is, engagement pictures, the whole shibang. They love sharing it all with us too!! And we love seeing the love in their lives! With the teachers who aren't married, we work on setting them up with each other hahaha you could call us missionary matchmakers.

During gym time I usually just run while my companions play volleyball. This week, I had 2 people ask me if I did cross country or track...I told them I never did hahah I just liked to eat. According to the people who watch over us during gym time, 14 times around the gym is a mile. So according to those calculations, I ran like 3 miles in like 22 minutes. I might have lost count....but either way I'm giving myself a pat on the back hahah run for the fun of dessert!!

WE RECEIVED OUR TRAVEL ITINERARIES ON FRIDAY!!!!! AAAHHHHH!!!! I will be leaving Monday morning for the airport and will land in Veracruz Mexico around 10:30 at night, we have a bunch of layovers. I am SO excited and SO grateful that my visa and passport and everything have been on time and functional and have no problems.

Something I have really been noticing the past couple of days is the small blessings in my life, the answers to my prayers that I usually don't pay a lot of attention too. I know that my Heavenly Father loves me and is watching out for me. One night this week, I was feeling really homesick. It had been taking me like an hour or more to fall asleep, and sleep is extremely precious here. I usually say my prayers in Spanish, but out of desperation, I said this prayer in English. I was so exhausted, I needed help, and I didn't know what else to do. I had the best sleep that night that I have had my entire time in the MTC, and when I woke up I felt like I had just had a really long sleep on a Saturday. I had so much energy, I got so much out of my classes, I am so grateful!!! I know prayers are answered, and I know that Heavenly Father knows what is best for me. 

On a side note...I found my first white hair of the mission. I'm sure it will be the first of many, but sacrifices must be made. Just kidding, that's not really a sacrifice, but I do feel that I have aged since I have gotten here. The 10:30 bedtime isn't early enough!!!

So Sunday was basically celebration Sunday. One week left in the MTC, so I had 4 delicious white chocolate chip and craisin cookies. It started out with just one, but escalated to 4 before I knew it. I knew there was no turning back, and my district proceeded to eat numerous rice krispie treats. It all went downhill from those cookies, but I regret nothing! Every morsel was worth the pain of my expanding stomach later. This past week, we also celebrated our 1 month mark of being on our missions! I'm sure we treated ourselves to dessert, but I don't remember what kind hahaha. Sugar has a wicked strong effect on me....after I eat - if I eat something sugary - I am off the wall. 

HOWEVER, after that terrible lapse of judgement, my district and I have decided to amend our ways. We decided at the beginning of this week that we wouldn't eat any sweets, some of the other Hermanas have put on a couple of pounds hahah so we figured it would be better if we all did it together. SO FAR I have not succumbed to temptation, but there's still 4 more days to falter. Hermana P got a package from her grandma the day we made the goal, full of a PLATTER of cookies. Cookies are Hermana Pinter's weakness hahah it was pure torture for her. She saved a couple of cookies and put them in a bag in the freezer and gave the rest to the Elders. There had to have been at least 50 cookies there. So proud of her!

I got to see people I knew this week too! Ryan Hansen - from my stake back home - and RUTH!!! It was an amazing week filled with amazing people and amazing experiences. The weather is gorgeous, like in the 50's, I honestly couldn't ask for a better last week in the MTC.

I also updated my profile so check that out! And my blog! It has all the pictures and emails and everything on it too. Don't send DearElders after 12PM MST on Friday, I won't get them! Instead, send DearElders to Xalapa Mexico!

I love you all so much!!! Thank you for all your support, letters and love. Every little bit recharges my battery for the day! I know this church is true, I know Christ died for me and I know that my Heavenly Father loves me more than I can comprehend.

Hasta mi next pday!

Hermana Westergard

Last pday at the temple!

awkward solo picture with the temple
The temple and then most of our zone

I'm going to Xalapa!!!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Sun Will come out Today!!! (4)


Another crazy, tiring week has come and gone. I can't believe how fast time has gone! The days still feel like years and then the week is over. Seriously the most messed up my time schedule has ever been! Happy belated Valentine's day to everyone!!! Although there wasn't a whole lot of romance here in the MTC, I still got lots of love! THANK YOU FOR ALL THE PACKAGES (momma, Chris and Jill, Dick and Mary, Christie, Dad)!!!!! I'm still working my way through the massive amounts of chocolate and cookies and more chocolate and sweets. They are enjoyed by me and the other girls in my apartment! Muchos gracias!

The weather is finally starting to change a little bit. Even though we are stuck in the classroom all day, when the sun occasionally decides to peek through the clouds/smog, it's like we have a new level of hope and determination. I love the sun! I am so lucky that I will get to go to Xalapa Mexico, which what I have heard from everyone who knows anything of it, is that the city is absolutely AMAZING. Basically, I can't wait!! I can't believe I only have like a week and a half left. Do I feel ready? Not at all. Do I know I can do it? YESYESYES!!

So one of our investigators 'moved' so now we only have Leticia and Fernando. It's nice because they are both around the same area in our teaching, so when we have study time, we get to study for both of them at the same time! We are on the Plan of Salvation, which basically talks about our life before the time here on Earth through this life to what happens after we die. Fernando still loves to talk, but my companions and I definitely feel like we are making some leeway with him! He's starting to listen more, we can tell that his heart is changing. It is so amazing to be able to see that throughout the lesson. I actually invited him to be baptized! This was the first time I had ever asked an investigator, and apparently my face turned bright red - so my companion told me. I'm fine with that is long as my neck doesn't get all splotchy too. I told my companions that I was going to have to start wearing turtlenecks to lessons because I keep getting so flustered and red hahaha I'm not sure how the extra insulated heat from the shirt would help though. Decisions, decisions! So I invited Fernando, but he still doesn't feel ready...that's ok though! We asked him again yesterday, and he said 'esperanza', but that could either mean he wants to wait OR he hopes to be baptized. GAH. I guess we will find out tonight when we teach him again! AND we invited Leticia to be baptized, and she said yes! YAY :)!!!!! One of the best feelings ever

We've had a bunch of really good devotionals and spiritual messages this week. One of the things I know I have trouble with is knowing is the Spirit is prompting me, or if it;s just my own personal thoughts and biased. We watched this talk by Elder Bednar - you should look it up! - about a 20 mark note he gave someone. Just look it up on Google or something. But basically, we don't always realize we are being prompted until we look back in we just need to ACT on it! Hard to do, but it's another thing I can work on! Something else I am working on this week is developing my Charity and Love, especially for my companions. This is the Christlike attribute that I chose for this week, last week was Obedience. I know that the lessons will go so much better, that I will be able to communicate and learn so much more, if I have ABSOLUTE unconditional love for my companions.

We have been having a lot of wicked interesting lessons about the history of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and of Joseph Smith's life. SO MUCH HAPPENED TO BE WHERE THE CHURCH IS TODAY!!!! I cannot imagine being in Joseph's Smith's shoes. And I am grateful that I am here learning in the MTC as opposed to going through what Joseph Smith did. I count my blessings every day!

Sunday was a long, very rewarding day! My district sang in church, Senor te necesito, which translates to I Need Thee Every Hour. According to the Elders, we were good! But I don't actually think they would tell us if they thought we were awful. I'll take the complements though! SO AT THE DEVOTIONAL ON SUNDAY ELDER HOLLAND CAME!!!!!! SLDKFKJLSDKFJSLKDFJ!!!!!! I basically had a heart attack when he walked in. They bused us up to main campus to practice Praise to the Man, and we knew there was something big going on if they were bringing us all the way up there to practice. The speaker was actually his son, Matthew Holland, who is the president of UVU. Matthew Holland's mother was there, it was her birthday, and so it really should have come as no surprise that a member of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles was there too. It truly was an amazing night. Being in the same room as this spiritual giant, singing on of my favorite songs, it was honestly one of the best nights of my life. Matthew Hollands spoke a lot about the life of Joseph Smith, his trials, and I realized, a prophet of God had all these trials in his life...why should I think that mine would be any easier. I am grateful for my trials! I am grateful my my opportunities to grow and learn from hard times in my life. I wouldn't ask for more, but I am grateful for what I have been dealt."Our eternal destiny is no less significant than the prophet Joseph Smith." HE WAS SUCH A GREAT SPEAKER! Also, one of my new favorite songs is Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief. Lovelovelove!! I know this work is inspired, I know that I am going to the the answer to someone's prayer, I know this church is true!!

On a not so happy side note I am getting sick. I am pretty sure is is from the lack of sleep, and possibly also from the high amounts of sugar intake. But. I currently sound like a frog going through puberty, so that's always something for the investigators to laugh about in lessons!

On another happy note, we buried english on Monday! Meaning, we no longer speak it in the classroom, and we do our best to not speak it outside the classroom too. It was so weird at the end of the day, writing in my journal in English, I kept switching over to spanish. #MTCprobz. Also, the Elders like to play small jokes on us. For example, they thought we lost their bouncy ball, so they gave us a Snickers Bar but somehow put a piece of lead from a pencil in it? I don't know how, but we found it before we ate it. They also spiked my water bottle with a little packet of Crystal Light, WITH CAFFEINE. I didn't even know they made that! I found the packet after I had already consumed my entire water it was too late haha I was just thinking that I had finally reached my second wind for the night. I had some chemical help though.

I played the piano yesterday for 2 people in my district who are trying to do a musical number. Just let me say, that was one of the most stressful times since I have been here. I haven't really played since 8th grade, and my skills have deteriorated to almost nothing. But we made it through, and they said it wasn't too bad. Hopefully I don't have to do that again hahaha.

I love you all, and I am so grateful for the letters and love and support! I love Spanish, I can't wait to get to Xalapa! I'm so grateful to be here, this work is true and I love feeling myself grow as I study.

Love, Hermana Westergard

My district!

at the temple

in the van in Vegas

Elder H with his cupcake from Ruth

beautiful mountains

selflies  on the way to class

our first investigator

I'm emo sometimes too (that's mostly for Ruth)

temple trip

me with a portion of the candy from all my packages

See's Candy!!!

The mexican lollipop from Hno C for Valentine's Day…I still haven't eaten it haha mustering up courage

lead from Snickers Bar

my Sistrict R, Me, P, F,M 

Anziano Finnerty before he goes to Italy

my form of burying English

Elder B (going to Costa Rica) and Elder W (going to Xalapa) matching in purple.  Elder B knitted that vest himself 

studying in the sun

Valentine's Day cookie from Christie!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

"take control" week 3

Hola familia y amigos!! (Hi family and friends)

I cannot believe it is already another week come and gone already. The days are sooooooooooooOOOOOOOoooooo longggggggggggggggg. I can't emphasize that enough. We are go go go all the time! Everyone said that it got easier after the 1st Sunday, I think it only got harder!

To explain my "Take Control" subject message. I am no longer Sister Training Leader! They make new assignments every week, so yesterday was Hermana F’s first day as the new leader! There always seems to be so much chaos while we are picking what song to sing to start of class, so I jokingly told Hermana F to take control. However, it came out in a very beast-like and monstrous roar, not the joking tone I was going for. Everyone kind of just stopped and started at me.....yes it was one of those days. It actually seems like every day is one of those days. I am once again been recognized for me fabulous facial expressions and impersonations. And apparently my 3 different laughs also. Maybe I should go into acting or something. We'll see!!

We started something called TRC this week. I'm not quite sure what it stands for, but basically we just teach random people for 20 minutes. Last week we taught an old man and a group of 3 RMs. One went to Peru, another to Mexico, and another to Columbia. I guess I was really popular with the old man because when the other set of sisters in our district went in to teach him after us, in their closing prayer, he blessed Hermana F and Hermana Westergard. The companionship consists of Hermana F and Hermana R hahahaha. I wanna be popuUlar! 

We reached a tough point with Iris. She is my favorite investigator so far!! We started talking about baptism, and she is VERY Catholic. So of course she asks, so my baptism isn't valid? HOW TO I BEGIN TO EXPLAIN THAT?!?!!? It's difficult enough in English let alone with an addition to a language barrier. Thankfully, she had to leave so we didn't need to explain it then....we still haven't really explained it. Like this could either make or break her faith in us. There's no easy way to do this! So that's always looming over my head. 

We have another investigator named Fernando. I don't know if I talked about him in my last email, but he still speaks as fast as the speed of light. I just smile a lot and say "Mas despacio por favor" a lot -> meaning talk slower PLEASE!! He loves the Bible and scriptures and is apparently now waking up at 5AM to pray....whatever floats his boat right?

As we get towards the end of the week, everyone definitely starts to lose their steam. Which means we are set off by the smallest things and it takes like 30 mins to regain control again. Our poor teachers, especially Hermano C, probably think we are loco. 

Something we were challenged to do this week was work on a Christlike attribute each week. There's 9 in the Preach My Gospel handbook, so this week I chose Obedience. The only thing I really have trouble with is being in bed by 10:30. When it says be in bed by then it means lights out and people laying down. I always seem to find a letter to finish or start brushing my teeth or something then. But they do tell us that EXACT obedience brings MIRACLES and obedience brings blessings. I would rather have the miracles, so that's my quality I am working on this week!

COOL CONNECTION: Hermano R, one of our teachers, his wife served in NY with Liz Lambert I think? And Hno R went to high school with Matt Palmer!! CRAZY CONNECTIONS!! Love that about the Mormon church! I also found someone while we were doing service this morning that went to high school with a kid I went to preschool with. Random but still cool! Hermano W, one of the teachers from Boston, said "Wicked Smaht" the other day and I was like YESSSSSSSSSS. We are basically automatically friends because we are from the East. Whoop Whoop. Cool spanish word: murcielago = bat. Always like finding cool stuff like that!

Something that my teacher said in his testimony really struck home with me. He said "The reason I work in the MTC, the reason I went on a mission, is because I love my Savior." Honestly, it can't be put more simply that that. I love my Savior, I was to bring hope, peace and joy to His children, that's why I am here. Once again, we are being taught how to LOVE!!!! Love unconditionally. I can't think of many more better attributes than that. 

Thank goodness for Sundays! Sundays are like our recharge day. Without Sunday, I totally would have lost it by now. The Branch President calls on people randomly to speak in Sacrament meeting, and I totally had a feeling that he was going to call on me. And guess what. HE DID. Good thing I had it ALL written out! He said it was very good, I like to believe that he doesn't just say that to everyone. I spoke on the Atonement, honestly one of my favorite things about the Gospel. Everything is centered around the Atonement, and without it we wouldn't have the chances that we have today. I'm glad that I got to speak on a topic that I was passionate about! For choir, we are singing Praise to the Man. ONE OF MY FAVORITE SONGS!!! I always think of Dad singing it to Riley while he was going to bed. It is such a powerful song! AND on Sunday, next Sunday, we get to have the President of UVU speak to us. The President of UVU is Jeffrey R Holland's son. Jeffrey R Holland is one of my IDOLS. SO I AM HOPING THAT ELDER HOLLAND WILL BE AT THE MTC DEVOTIONAL ON SUNDAY!!!!! They are going to bus us up to main campus to practice with the main choir and everything. FINGERS CROSSED!!!!

My goals this week are to memorize the First Vision in Spanish, the baptismal invitation and D&C 4: 1-2. So far I have the First Vision memorized! Now on with the next goals! We watched a really touching Mormon message video, talking about how God, being like a Gardener with their bushes, "loves us enough to cut us down so we can reach our full potential." Me gusta este oracion mucho! (translation- I like this quote a lot!) I am so blessed and SO grateful for all the opportunities and support I have. My family, my friends, my semi-functional brain, the love I feel, I am so grateful for it all. THANK YOU!!!! :)

We have ANOTHER investigator named Leticia. She is part of the TRC program. She is mexican, and the sweetest little old lady every. She's divorced and also Catholic, everyone seems to be Catholic hahaha. We are trying to teach her about eternal families, because that's something she's interested in and she wants it for her family. Pressure is on! 

The weather here is bipolar. It's snowy then sunny then rainy then looks like there's gonna be a tornado then repeat. I basically just wear my rain-boots all the time because the weather seems to play this game of get Eliza's nice shoes wet when she's not wearing rain-boots. Well 2 can play at this game and I am winning! HA!

I love you all so much!!! This experience is like nothing else, I can't really do my feelings justice. I am sorry that I can't respond to all emails and letters, but I appreciate all of them!!! Les amo!! (I love you all)

-Hermana Eliza Westergard

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

This is my district at the temple this morning!! It was awesome!!

week 2


Ok, well I have tried to do pictures but 1) no memory card converter thing and 2) the computers don't read my memory card when I try to insert it sooooooo you'll get pictures after I can figure that all out!!

I thought last week was crazy, but this week was crazy in a different way. I feel like I'm finally settling into the groove of things, but at the same time there is so much new stuff going on! On Thursday, I got to go to Las Vegas to get my Visa! It is funny, basically the most different place you could get from the MTC is Vegas. I had heard rumors of this strange, boring guy who picks up missionaries from the airport, but I was trying to give him the benefit of the doubt. Unfortunately, all those rumors were RIGHT. He took us to Del Taco for lunch when there were options of 5 Guys, Cafe Rio and In N Out all within like 2 mins of the institute building we were going to. We were all kind of bitter for the rest of the day hahaha but the guy REALLY liked Del Taco. Apparently he takes all the missionaries there who go to Vegas to get their Visas. He then gave us an orientation thing for like 2 hours, and said if we didn't ask him questions then he was going to have to start asking questions about scripture stuff, we managed to muster up questions for the next 2 hours....and we never actually found out if he had been to MExico or not. SO CONFUSING!! BUT the good news is we got our Visas!!! So there won't be any delays going to Mexico! This was one of the LONGEST days ever, we woke up at 4 and got back around 10:30. I'm really starting to feel like an old grandma with sleep these days. 

Some cool things about this week: 2 of my teachers are from MA!!!!!!!! SO HAPPY ABOUT THAT!!!! Brother W. aka Sylvio aka our first investigator went to Argentina on his mission and is from Concord and then my other teacher, Brother L.  is from Lawrence. Not really close to Norwell but still in MA! Ruth sent me cupcakes!!! They were all so delicious!!! She sent me a Mexican chocolate one, yes i did pick up on the irony in that. Did I use irony right? Who knows, it's about spanish now!! I was especially grateful for the cupcake I gobbled down after class on Saturday night, since the next day was fast sunday. Gracias Ruth!!! More cool connections: Hermana R’s boyfriend was roommates with my roommate Bre's fiance! I could have met Hna R if we had actually gone to Jeff's apartment when he invited us all over! Also, one of the teachers for my zone was in my ISys class last semester! He recognized me! THE MORMON WORLD IS SUCH A SMALL PLACE!!

We have a new investigator named Iris. She's a native of Trujillo Peru, and she actually taught Zach - Ruth's friend - in the Peru MTC! He was in her last district before she came to the US! We went into our first lesson, and that it was ok, but apparently we were sounding a lot of like we vs her. And we had no idea! Sometimes we got so wrapped up in the language that we forget to focus on her body language and tone. We felt terrible after, I cried. I seem to be the most emotional one out of my tria companionship. The 'member' who was in the lesson with us told us that our next lesson was going to be our hardest one yet, since we had such a rough first lesson. If I wasn't stressed before that, I was now!! For the next lesson, we brainstormed for hours about what to teach her. What did she need? What did she want? What were her priorities? And all of this in spanish. GAHHH!!!! We practiced with a teacher, having her pretend to be Iris - this strong Catholic who loves her church and sees no reason to change. Well, the Practice and stress all paid off!! Our next lesson was SO amazing!!!! We were trying to explain how we were representatives of Jesus Christ, and wanted to help her return back to her Heavenly Father. In the spur of the moment, I shared with her Romans 10:13-15, ( For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!)  and after reading it she said "Son Ustededs!" (That’s you!) EXACTLY!!!!!! I wanted to cry, she was finally getting the point! After that, the tone, the spirit and the love in the lesson was undeniable. I am so grateful for the spirit, and the pathways it helps us to communicate. Something they keep emphasizing here in the MTC is that we should speak with love, not spanish. THAT IS COMPLETELY TRUE!!! If there is no love in your words and actions, the investigator can totally tell and our lesson will go no where. But if we show our love, and ask her to repeat herself like a million times, she appreciates the fact that we are trying to understand her. LOVE IS KEY! I cannot emphasize this enough. The love here in the MTC is undeniable. The love I feel for Iris is basically bursting out of my seams. When I think about how much love I am feeling for her, being channeled by the spirit, the thought of my Heavenly Father's love for me comes into my mind, and it's like adding hot chocolate, blankets and more logs to the fire on a freezing winter night. So much love!!!!!!! I love it!!!!

Sundays and Tuesdays are my favorite days. We get to sing in choir and get to go up to main campus for a change in scenery which is nice! It was pretty cool! Sunday's devotional was by President Littlefield, who was Anziano Finnerty's stake president while he was at UVU! His message was all about things we need to do, know, and things that investigators need to be willing to do for a successful conversion process. There were a lot of steps, it all seemed very calculated. There is so many spiritual messages, I never know what to include! There's never enough time for it all! At mission conference on Sunday, they told us that in 1995, there were 47 temples. Now, there are 114 temples with 15 under construction and 14 more announced. The growing of this work is INCREDIBLE!!! Speakers also referenced my farewell topic, Alma 5:26,(And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a achange of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the bsong of redeeming love, I would ask, ccan ye feel so now?) in their talks, and I just like finding little connections to back home. This is all just so amazing!!!

Tuesday's devotional was also very poignant. For choir, we sang "Be Still My Soul", which I think a lot of missionaries needed. We all get so caught up in the stress of everything, that we forget about our own personal soul welfare.David Evans of the 70 spoke to us about the Proclamation to the World. I also thought this was an amazing topic. A lot of missionaries don;t really think about life after mission, but this devotional reminded us of the importance of families, how special they are and how much they support and help us. Family: I LOVE YOU AND MISS YOU ALL SO MUCH!!!!!

It is getting harder and harder to wake up in the morning. This less than 8 hours a night is catching up to me. But I try to treat each day like it was my first day at the MTC. If I did it then, I can do it now!

Today on pday,(preparation day) we went to the main MTC to print off emails, if we print them off there and read them before computer time it doesn’t count as part of our hour. In there, I saw Sister Openshaw! It was crazy! She helped me get some of the stuff I needed, and it was so nice to see a familiar face.

My spanish if improving each day, and I am so grateful for it. There are so many blessings and miracles here that I can't count them all, but I do know that I am lucky beyond belief to be here. I love the MTC, I love my investigators, and I already love the people of Xalapa so much. Thank you for all your support and love, I feel every ounce of it!

Love, Hermana Westergard