Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Semana Santa

We had a hard time finding people last week. It was Semana Santa (Holy Week). So basically everyone was on spring break and a lot of people went out of town. So, there weren't very many people in the street. And it was a rainy week. We had a lot of interesting observances of Easter, especially at night. We live right off of the Calle Mayor (Its kinda like Main Street) and are very close to one of the big Catholic Churches in Guadalajara. During the Semana Santa (Easter is a week long celebration, not a only on Sunday kinda thing) they have processionals in the street. Friday night we had to cross their processional path in order to get home. They were walking down the Calle Mayor, and we needed to cross it. That was about the only time that we saw a lot of people in the street last week. It was also weird because we didn't have any sort of Easter talks or lessons in Church on Sunday, we didn't even sing the Easter hymns.

As far as emails go, we go to a Locutorio. It is basically a little computer lab. They have a few computers, and some pay phones, which are mostly used for long distance phone calls.

On Monday, we started teaching this lady who is one of those people that has been prepared for the missionaries. Her name is Jeaneth. She is friends with Evelyn, one of the recent converts, and both are from Ecuador. But she isn't a referral from Evelyn. We ran into her in the street because she had mistaken us for the sisters who had been serving here previously. About four years ago she had been taking discussions from the Jehovah's Witnesses, but had some complications in her life and never got baptized. And when we were teaching a brief overview of the lessons and our purpose as missionaries she kept saying "teach me more, teach me more" and I could tell that she definitely was believing and accepting what we were telling her. We wear joking about how the Jehovah's Witnesses did all the work, and now we are just going to point her down the right path. We expect her to get baptized in the next few weeks. One of the mission rules for baptism is that they attend church three times. And since she had met with the old sister missionaries and went to church, she only needs a few more times. She is so ready it is unbelieveable.

Speaking of Jehovah's Witnesses, there are a lot in here in Guadalajara. At least a lot more than I expected. We overhear a lot of people saying "They are Jehovah's Witnesses" as we walk past, and we often have to explain that we aren't the Jehovah's Witnesses.

Our piso check was fine, we had to do a lot of deep cleaning, but our piso was clean. And the senior couple brought my package! So it made it here.

Next week being Mother's Day and all, I get to call you! We can talk on the phone, or we can Skype, which ever you prefer. It doesn't really matter to me. We should also be thinking about what time would be best. I know it will be in the afternoon/evening here, but as of right now, that day is pretty open and we can schedule around your meetings. Just let me know, and next week I can send you some more details.

Today we are going to Madrid with the Elders in our district. I'm not entirely sure what we are going to do, but it will be fun!

I hope that everyone has fun with Gramma and Grampa this weekend.

Love, Amber

I realized after I sent my email that I have a little more to tell you!
Next week I have my first intercambio! (Exchange)
I am going to Barrio 8! (Ward 8) It's in Madrid, and I think that it is one of the wards that meets at the stake center on the temple grounds, but I'm not sure.
Anyways, I'll go to Madrid Monday afternoon during mediodía, and come back to Guadalajara on
Wednesday sometime. I'm kinda excited about it. It will be fun to work with a different companion and to get to meet some new people and see some new things.
Just thought that you might like to know!
Love, Amber

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Note to Gramma and Grampa

I know that I send you my emails to my family, but I feel like I should write you a little something extra!

And maybe once you get to Russia, I will write you actual letters, it is cheaper, and faster to send letters within Europe than to the U.S. But maybe it will be too expensive since you will be way east in Russia, and not Moscow.

I had a friend who spent a few months in Russia last year (I'm not sure if it was study abroad, or if she was teaching English or what she was doing) and I know that she loved every minute of it, and that she was really sad to leave all the people. I'm sure that you will love it just as much, if not more.

My last week at the MTC in Spain, we kept expecting a missionary from Russia to show up. I think that the missionaries have to leave the country to renew their visas or something, so sometimes they go to the MTC for a few days during that process. I don't think she ever came while I was there, but maybe there will be a chance that you will have to come to Spain while I am here! Wouldn't that be fun!

I know that you will be amazing missionaries in Russia! And that you will love every minute of it! All of the missionaries I have met have a special love for the senior missionaries, (plus we are all a little jealous since your rules are way less strict than ours. For example, the senior sisters who were at the MTC with us could leave whenever they wanted and see the city, and one would take the elevator up to dinner and the other would take the stairs. I had to be with my companions all the time, so if one insisted on the elevator, we would have to take the elevator.) But we love the senior missionaries regardless.

Good luck with all of your preparations, these next three months will go really fast.

Love you lots! Amber

We don't have a lot of investigators right now...


I'm so excited to hear about Gramma and Grampa! I know that you'll be great! It sounds like this summer will be really busy for everybody, but I'm sure that it will
be great. Some of the senior missionaries I've met have been able to have lunch or dinner
with their families before they leave, and they have been really grateful for it.

I'm glad that everyone had a great time in Rexburg, and that Brenna is ready for college
to start! (I will write Brenna and Sophie letters when I get them, apparently it can take
awhile for packages to get here.)

Sounds like the house is pretty crazy, but it is good to hear that not everything is falling apart.

The baptism...didn't happen. Jorge had some problems accepting Joseph Smith as the prophet
And our district leader told us that Jorge didn't have any real problems with that part of the baptismal interview. But then at our English class on Saturday, Jorge told us that he had gotten another answer, and that he had decided not to get baptized. We tried to get him to come back to the church and talk about it with him, but he wouldn't answer his phone. And Jorge is moving back to Ecuador this week, so we won't be teaching him anymore.

I haven't had anything weird yet, we don't really eat with the members. The recent convert Josetty is from the Dominican Republic, and has made food for us a few times, and it is delicious! We are still teaching her daughters, Edith and Joeddy, who want to get baptized, but their father doesn't want them too. I guess at first he didn't want Josetty to get baptized, but then changed his mind and gave his permission as a birthday present. We see them a lot because we are keeping contact with the recent convert, and are still teaching the investigators.
We don't have a lot of other investigators right now, so we have been working on finding people to teach. We have gone through the area book a few times, and I know that we will go through it again.

Hna. Marín is from Valencia. She has an older brother. Her parents are both members of the church, and she has been a member all of her life. She actually started her mission in Bilbao, but came to Madrid when they redid the missions. I don't know if her being a Spainard makes a difference, but I can tell that there is a difference in our contacts because she speaks Spanish. When we would contact in the park, I would just sort of keep talking and testifying becuase I knew that I couldn't understand what they were saying. Our contacts definitely feel more like conversations and less like preaching.

Today we went to Alaclá again and bought somethings for our piso, and then we went on a last minute trip to Madrid. (It's only like 40 minutes from where we were to the temple.) Hna. Marín has an old companion who is flying to Utah tomorrow to go to BYU, and she was at the temple today. Plus, the companion got engaged today. So while we were at the mall, Hna Marín found out about her companion, and we decided to go to Madrid. We had met up with some of the elders in our district, and our district leader told us to go. So we went. We had a few other things planned for today, but I guess we will have to do them later.

One of the things we did today was deep clean our piso, because tomorrow we have piso checks. The senior couple serving in the office is coming to make sure that our piso is clean and safe to live in. I have a feeling that Gramma and Grampa will be doing some of that in Russia.
We are working hard and I am learning so much.
Love you all,

Thursday, April 14, 2011

First Week in the Field...

Hna Marin and Hna Lewis at the Mission Home
before heading out to Guadalajara


I'm glad to hear that you are all enjoying your spring break, and I hope that you enjoy the campus tour!

I think that it will be best just to send stuff to the office. It will just be easier that way, and I won't have to worry about mail when I get transferred.

The language is coming along. I can understand more and more every time we have a lesson. Some of it is that I am can recognize individual voices, which makes understanding easier, but I am understanding.

Hna. Marín and I are getting along really well. And I am learning a lot. We have gotten into a routine, mostly, and that has been pretty good. We get ready and eat breakfast, and then we study. We usually leave the apartment at 11:30. And then we will teach or contact for a few hours. At about 2:00 we have mediodía. So we come back to the apartment and eat and I finish my language study. I do 30 min in the morning and 30 min during mediodía. After that we go back out and teach and contact more. We get back at about 10:00 and then we plan and go to bed.

Some days are a little crazy though. Some mornings we have appointments during
our study time. (We try to avoid that but that is the only time some people are able to meet with us.) And Tuesday we have district meeting in a different city, and it takes us about one hour to get there, so we do our studies on the bus and on the train.

We have been teaching a lot this past week, which is good. I do participate in the lessons, and I do more in every lesson. It is most difficult for me to be able to respond to a question because I have to be able to understand what they are asking. But when they don't ask really weird questions, and we can follow our plan, Hna. Marín finds a way for me to teach, even if it is just a little bit.

Jorge is getting baptized this Saturday, and we are really excited. Especially Hna. Marín, because she has been teaching him the whole time, and has really been able to see him change. Jorge was looking for the evangelical church, and found our chapel one Sunday, and the Hnas. started teaching him. They didn't contact him in the street, and a friend did encourage him
to come. He was looking for a different religion and found us!

Evelyn has two kids, and Ana has a little boy. They are both really great, but with the two little boys it can get a little crazy. It is also difficult because we are teaching them two different things. Evelyn is a recent convert, and Ana is an investiagtor, so they are at different places in their understanding of the gospel. But the kids are so cute. Evelyn's daughter, Maria José, was
also baptized, she is about twelve, and her little boy must be about five. He likes to sing with us and give the prayer. Ana's son can't be more than two. He walks but I don't think he has learned to talk yet.

Last week for P-day, we cleaned the apartment, and went grocery shopping. Hna. Marín also needed a few other things like shirts and stuff. And then she wrote letters to her family, and I wrote in my journal and studied. It was pretty relaxing. Today we went to Alcalá. (which is where we have our district meetings.) Some of the other Hnas. from Madrid came out here for their P-day. They wanted to come see some of the stuff here. Especially Hna. Wilson, who had to read Don Quixote for one of her Spanish classes at BYU. Alacalá is where Cervantes was born. We met up with the Hnas. and two of the Elders from our district for a few hours. We walked by Cervantes' house, and looked at some ruins and some archeological stuff that they wanted to see.

I haven't really missed the temple yet. Time moves differently here, it doesn't really feel like I've been here for a week, and yet it seems like I've been here for two months. One P-day a transfer we get to go to the temple. I think we might go next week but I don't know. We also get to have a big P-day and travel to another city to see and do stuff. (Like the Hnas. from Madrid who came to see us.)

Guadalajara is great! I would definitely call it a city, it is fairly large, but more of a city like Provo or Orem. A commercial area or two, and a lot of houses and schools. Everybody lives in an apartment, so there are apartment buildings everywhere. And usually the ground floor has shops and stuff. But it is really beautiful. The streets are super confusing though, especially in the downtown area. I think it is mostly because the city is old, but there isn't any sort of grid or numbering system, at least I haven't found one yet. We do a lot of walking, and the city is built on hills, so there is a lot of up and down.

I think that is it for this week (still no shoes yet, but I think that they are at the office and I will get them next week at our district meeting).

Lots of love,

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

First day in Guadalajara

Today (Wednesday) is Pday, so I get to write you again. But it feels a little weird since I emailed you just the other day.

But things are going great! We had an orientation meeting with the (mission) president yesterday, and afterward, Pres. and Sis. Watkins drove us out to the mission home where they fed Hna. Marín and me lunch. (The others weren't as lucky as they were all going to areas fairly close and in the other direction). Then Sis. Watkins drove us out to Guadalajara. It is really beautiful here!

Our piso (apartment) is pretty small, but it is fairly nice. We live fairly close to everything, and I can see why they don't need cars or bikes here.

Last night we met a few people. We first stopped at the home of a recent convert Evelyn, and an investigator, Ana. Evelyn introduced Ana to the missionaries, and now we are teaching both of them, as well as all the children who live there. (Ana and her family live with Evelyn and her family) It was a crazy lesson, and we didn't get much teaching done, between the kids and the neighbor who stopped by, but it was fun, and I think that the neighbor said she would come to church with them.

Then we met up with another recent convert Josetty, who is the lady they introduced me to at conference. She just got baptized a few weeks ago! After that we did some contacting in the street, and then went to the chapel where we taught Jorge. Jorge has a baptismal date for next Saturday!

The chapel here is on the ground floor of one of the buildings, and is really small. They tell me that the rama (the branch) is really small, but that the members are all really good. (The chapel isn't that big, so it must be a pretty small branch.)

It is just Hna. Marín and me out here in Guadalajara. We are the very last branch in the Madrid East Stake. But we can't be more than about an hour or an hour and half away from Madrid (at least I don't think so, I wasn't really paying attention when we drove out here yesterday, but we weren't in the car much longer than that.)

The chapel is fairly close to where we live, and both are close to the main street. There is a walkway in the middle of the street separating the traffic, and that is the best place for contacts I guess. It seems like there are a lot of different people who use that street. And from what I can tell, the investigators all live fairly close to it.

I'm glad to hear that everyone is doing good! I can't believe that we are already into April, it seems like just yesterday I was getting ready to go in to the MTC! Time really does move quickly here!

Love, Amber

Monday, April 4, 2011

Surpise Email - last one from the MTC!

Because we are leaving tomorrow, we get to email our families today!!!!

Wasn't conference soooo great? I loved it so much!!!! We watched the Saturday morning session Saturday night at 6. Sunday morning we watched Priesthood, Saturday afternoon, & Sunday morning sessions. And we watched Sunday afternoon this morning.

All of the missionaries who are serving in the Madrid Stakes got to come and
watch conference in the Stake Center on the Temple grounds. In between the Saturday Afternoon and Sunday Morning sessions, we went down to the temple grounds and chatted with all the missionaries! So we got to see Hna. Wilson, Elder Ashworth, Elder Raiano (the one who broke his foot) as well as a few other missionaries we had bumped into during our stay here.

But we also got to meet our trainers and find out where we are going!!!!!
My trainer is going to be Hna. Marín, and we will be serving in Guadalajara. It's about as far away from Madrid as sisters get. She's a native Spaniard, so I know that my Spanish will improve very quickly, as will her English, because all the natives are encouraged to learn. Everybody tells me that she is a great missionary.

They also introduced me to a member or an investigator or something.
(I don't really know, they were speaking in Spanish very fast) They told me that she makes the best juice in the world, and that her food is some of the best. I think they said something about eating there this week, I don't really know. But they said that her house is the best!

I also ran into Elder Knorr, (the one with the mission blog).
He and I knew each other from High School, and I met another Elder I went to school with, Elder Stone. (He was one of my driving buddies when we practiced on the range at school.) So we took a picture of the three Timpanogos kids serving in Madrid. He found it funny that I go into the field the week he leaves. It might get posted on his blog, so keep an eye out for that.

The missionaries have all been out and about this week as transfers are happening right now.
They've been going to the temple and conference and meetings and stuff, so we see them down on the temple grounds. It is a little weird to think that we are going to be with them in just a few hours!

We are busy packing away, I forget just how much stuff I have!

I got the family newsletter today! I love reading everybody's letters!
Also, every time I read I learn about something happening in our family that you forget to mention to me! This time I learned that Brenna is going to the State Solo/Ensemble festival.
I am so proud of her and so excited for her! I I know that she will do great!

Love you lots!

Sunday, April 3, 2011


Sisters' Fiesta!
Irma Lima, Sister Gomes, Hna Soderquist
Irma de Sousa, Hna Wilson, Hna Lewis

Prado Museum

Hna Lewis, Hna Soderquist, Hna Wilson
in front of the Palace

The Palace

More Pictures!

Hna Wilson, Hna Soderquist, Hna Lewis
in front of the Madrid Temple

The Cathedral

Hna Wilson and Hna Lewis

MTC Pictures

Hna Soderquist, Hna Wilson, Elder Ashworth, Hna Lewis

Hna Soderquist, Hna Wilson, Hna Lewis

Almost Time to Leave the MTC!

I'm glad to hear that your trip was great! But I knew you would have a good time.

We leave on Tuesday, which is so close. It sort of feels like we've had our last real day of class.
We'll have class again tomorrow, but because Friday is in between P-Day and the Park, I can never remember what we do on Fridays. So tomorrow will be our last real day of class. Saturday we will still go to the Park, but then we will start Conference.
Sunday we will watch three sessions of conference. President Earl lets the sisters watch
the Priesthood session. And Monday morning we will watch the last one.

Pres. Watkins will come to get us on Tuesday Morning, and Hna Greer does get to come with us. They do some sort of orientation or training or something here at the MTC before they send us out. I'm glad that we get to do that here, and that I don't have to take a train or anything first!

All the teachers here are natives, but they all speak English. So our classes are in both English and Spanish. And they have been teaching here for a while. I guess it is hard to find people who live in Madrid, are returned missionaries, and speak English. So they hang on to teachers when they get them. We also have teachers who come only at night and help us with our teaching skills. They speak English, but teach only in Spanish. That has helped with the natives too.

We were thinking about how missionaries at the Provo MTC start to feel really comfortable with their Spanish. They can talk to each other, their teachers, that sort of thing. But then they get in the field and realize that they can't speak any Spanish. That is not going to happen here. I know that I can't really understand what people are telling me. Last week in the Park, Hna Greer and I were talking to a man, and he started talking about something, but neither one of us knew what he said. This kind of thing happens a lot in the park. We often just smile and nod, and bear testimony of something.

I believe that P-Day is Wednesday, so you'll know pretty quickly where I am.

We were so excited for Hna Greer, and for the Elders she flew over with. There are six new elders in the district behind us. It had gotten pretty lonely with just the four of us. We love having more people to talk to!

Well, I can't think of anything else, we've just been busy learning and practicing, and getting ready for the field.

Love you lots!

More Missionaries!

I hope that you enjoy the pictures!

This week Hna Greer joined us! She just got here about two hours ago actually, and she came with six more Elders! We are so excited for more missionaries!

I love hearing about Brenna and Ryan and Softball and Track! It is so great to hear that they are both so awesome!

We hear all about the BYU basketball team! Pres. Earl is an avid fan, and will wake up at 3 in the morning so that he can watch the games! That's been kinda fun.

I am so excited that Brenna has decided to go to BYU-I! I know that she will love it up there.

After the Temple and email, we go into the city. We have been seeing the sights. Last week we went to the Prado Museum, and this week we are headed to the mall!

I found a boy for Brenna! Elder Pearce is one of the Elders who loved her pictures! And I think that they would have a great time together!

The KSL News van was there when I entered the MTC, and they were there at the last devotional we had in Provo. We were singing in the Choir, front row! (Hopefully you can see us!)

Thanks for all the love and support! I am glad to hear that everyone is doing great, and that you all think of me often! I think about all of you!

I can tell that my Spanish has improved so much! Especially when we are teaching. I still don't think I could carry on a real conversation, but I can teach a lesson! It doesn't take as long to think of vocab, or how to conjugate a verb! It is so cool to think about!

I only have a week and a half left in the MTC! I'm excited and nervous at the same time! But mostly excited! It is just a little weird to think that it won't be too much longer, because the MTC has felt like it has been really long.

Love you lots!