Monday, April 15, 2013

Palmdale News

Hi. this letter is going to be super sporadic and not very fluid. Also, I'm awful at grammar and spelling in English now. Lets just go with it :)
Yes, I got the Toms and brownies and cards! Thank you so much! They are awesome! The brownies were delicious and we tried to make them last as long as possible so we cut them in half and only ate a little bit at a time :)
Mom: Make Codi Peterson and Dylan Gardner stand together and take a picture of them! Tell Lara and Codi I love them and I would LOVE to hear from them BOTH. 
So, lots of things to talk about. Ready? GO. 
Kristi might think this is cool- They have created a new thing called Sister Training Leaders or something like that! They are new leaders that work with the Zone Leaders and are specifically the conduit between sisters and president and they go on exchanges with other sisters and do training and stuff! So now, they don't have Zone Leadership Council with just the Zone Leaders! Now the Zone Leaders and the Sister Training Leaders go to a meeting with the President. It has a new name. I forgot what it was. I left my journal that has all of my notes from training in it at home! (dumb, I'm sorry. I'll repent and be better) So, that's cool! That is church-wide! This is a new thing for all Missions everywhere! :)
Also, speaking of, who was the first sister missionary? Can you look that up for me? Who was she? Where did she serve? Tell me about her!
Also, could you send me one or two good smoothie recipes? Maybe one involving oatmeal?
Also, just FYI, I rediscovered my love for Cheetos. Yeah. it's a blessing and a curse. I'm 9 years old again. I love it. Haha.
So, I get to help plan a wedding! Who would've thought that the first wedding I plan would NOT be my own? haha! Our investigators are getting married so that they can be baptized! It was awesome. I was kind of concerned about how they were going to react to our invitations but I trusted the Lord! Here is what I wrote President about it: "This week has been wonderful. We've seen many miracles. The one I'm really excited to tell you about is Teresa and Jessie. We've been teaching them and this week we had to find out if they were married or not. I was excited, but a tiny bit nervous because if they weren't married, they would have to get married before they could get baptized. So, when we got there Jessie wasn't home from work but we started to teach Teresa and her daughter! We taught her the 10 commandments and the law of chastity and she definitely understood everything and said she liked it a lot. So, we brought up marriage and how she needs to be married to be baptized and she actually really liked that! She said she doesn't feel good living with Jessie without being married and that they had plans to get married and they've wanted to for a while but they just always push it back. Well, then Jessie walked in from work and sat down and joined in. We kind of reviewed with him what we had talked about and started talking about the Law of Chastity with him, too! He was really receptive and open to it, as well! He liked it and Hermana Tavoian and I talked about the huge blessings that come with being married. We talked about how marriage will bring them closer together as a couple and how they will be able to go through trials and difficulties together when they have Jesus Christ as the center of their relationship. We talked about how when they grow closer to Christ they will grow together and they loved that! So, we asked them if they would get married to prepare to get baptized, cleared up some confusion and worries they had, and they said yes! Jessie is excited but he wants to make sure his wedding is nice and that they do everything "right" so, we decided to give them a little over a month. We set their baptism date as May 26 and they committed to getting married before then. We're going to teach their daughter, Adriana as well so that we can baptize them as a family! They're really excited, we're really excited, and I'm so thankful for the Spirit and the hand of the Lord in all of our lives. None of that could've happen if Heavenly Father hadn't softened their hearts and helped us have the Spirit. So, we get to help put on a wedding! We're getting the ward involved and so it will be interesting to see how everything plays out. It was a miracle for us!

So, needless to say, we're doing great here. I'm still trying to get used to everything and there are hard days, but I'm so happy to be here. There is nowhere I'd rather be! I love being a missionary and sharing the message of the Restoration with the people in this area. I'm so grateful for the Book of Mormon and I'm reading it daily. Anyway, thank you so much for all you do for us and I hope you and your family are doing well!

-Hermana Dodge
So, we are STOKED. 
Also, I experienced my first sandstorm this week! That was awesome! In Texas, ya know how you can see thunderstorms rolling in from miles away? It's like a wall of dark gray clouds? Yeah, Sandstorms are just like that, except light gray/tan because it's just a wall of sand coming. It was SUPER windy. 
Oh, and by the way, we get to Skype our families on Mothers Day and Christmas!! :) No big deal! Hahaha! Also, I noticed this Sunday that sometimes I stick out like a sore thumb in my congregation. Hna Tavoian has a darker complexion and so she kinda fits in, but I just stick out! I love it! It's so fun! So, apparently President Hinckley said that if anyone reads the Book of Mormon in another language, they will be fluent in that language. Can you research and find that for me? I would love to see a talk or something or a quote on that, because I'm BANKING on that! lol. 
So, this week we had Zone Conference! It was awesome! We had the Lancaster Zone with us, and there are Korean Elders in the Lancaster Zone. So, there is one Elder named, Elder Kim. He comments a lot and sings really loud, and he is the definition of a tenor. So, I noticed him singing and then after conference he came and found me and said, "Sister, what is your name!?!" and I said, "Hi! I'm Hermana Dodge. Nice to meet you!" and he said, "Oh yes it is very nice to meet you too. You have an amaaazing voice, Sister. You sound beautiful! Have you ever taken any voice lessons?"  I proceeded to tell him a little bit about my vocal background and he said, "Wow, I'm classically trained, too! I was trained to sing Opera!" Anyway, I talked to him about that too and he said we need to tell President Hall that we need to sing together! I just smiled and said, "Okay!" It was just so funny and random. I was sick last week and so I know I didn't sound my best, but Elder Kim sure thought I sounded alright! LOL.
So, last but not least. Last night we were visiting some potential investigators before we went home, and we were going to see this guy named Frederico and his wife Erika (yeah, her name is Erika. I almost cried and hugged her when she introduced herself) but that's not the point! Anyway, we went over and when we were walking we passed this apartment that we had contacted (or "knocked") the week before. We had contacted this guy who was watching us out his window for just a couple seconds as we knocked on his neighbors door. So, I smiled and waved and we saved his house for last. Well we knocked and he opened the door,  we shared a really short message and asked when we could come back and talk more and he said come by sometime in the evening this week, my baby is crying so I need to go and we said ok and left. We went back that week and nobody was home so we left a card with our number and a message on it. When we were visiting Erika and Frederico (who live around the corner) I just really felt like we needed to stop by, so I thought... Okay, after Frederico we will. So, we went over there and the wife (or girlfriend, or something) answers the door holding the baby boy (who is precious) and says, "Come in come in!" We go in and sit down and she tells us her name is Ruby (such a pretty name) and the tells us she's a member! So we asked her about her background and she began to tell us that she was baptized when she was younger. She went to girls camp, and even went to the temple and did baptisms for the dead! She said she loves the church and the gospel is so beautiful and that although she attends the Catholic church with her husband, her heart has always been with our church. So, her husband was upstairs taking care of the children and he didn't come down to listen, but Ruby and her daughter listened very intently. We shared the restoration with her and left her 2 copies of El Libro de Mormon and 2 pamphlets about the restoration, one in English and one in Spanish, and we scheduled a follow up appointment for this week. it was amazing. Seriously... it was a miracle. She said she has always hoped that little by little her husband would come around to hearing the gospel and that he is shy but she really wants this for her family. She said her cousin is actually preparing to go on a mission right now and her siblings are members too! We felt so guided by the Holy Ghost to go and talk to them that night. I am so grateful. I am honestly so happy that we had this experience. The Spirit was there in our lesson and we felt so much peace in their home. She was just lost for a little while but the Lord has perfect timing. Ruby and her family needs the gospel and we're going to work with her and her family. Ruby said she saw our card that we left and asked her husband if he knew what that was and who left it and she said she told him that it was actually a card from the real church and that missionaries left it for them! She said she was so happy! :)
Gosh, the time is gone...I guess I'll leave you with this: I love being a missionary. I love wearing this badge everyday. It's weird because I remember looking up to the missionaries as a little girl and I remember writing Kristi all the time and it's just so awesome that I get to be a missionary now! I love the Book of Mormon. I read it everyday. It changes lives, it brings peace when you feel like you can't find it anywhere else. It brings a joy that you can't get from anything else. We have a Heavenly Father who loves us so much. I love the people here. I love California. People can say what they want, but I love California! The Lord is "exalting His valleys" Isaiah 40:4
I love y'all. I love you mom. I love you so much. I'm sending you copies of my journal entries from this week. 
P.S. Can you tell everyone I said hi! I love you!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Mission Splitting!

Hi Everyone!

I've got lots of stuff to tell:

Our Mission is getting split! Ya know how yesterday they mentioned that there would be the creation of 58 new missions? Yeah, they are forming a CA Bakersfield Mission that will split our mission in half! This split takes in the area I am serving in right now. There are two transfers in between now and when the mission actually splits, and since I am being trained for my first 12 weeks, I won't go anywhere this next transfer, but then the last transfer...the one right before the mission splits, I could leave, but I also could stay. So I may be in a new mission with a new Mission President, in June. I am trying not to worry about it.

This week I was SICK! It was awful. Being sick on the mission STINKS. But, I worked through it and I'm feeling much better. I got a ton of home remedies from the Hispanic people. This lady gave me a jar of this concoction she made of blended up radishes, garlic, onions, lemons, and a bunch of other random things (who knows, didn't ask) that she threw in there. And she mushed that all up and told me to eat 2 spoonfuls every day. So...I did! It was the single most disgusting taste/texture combination of my LIFE! But, it worked! :) Also, Sister Cropper told me to gargle with salt water every few hours, so I did that too. I was sick for about 3+ days but I got a wonderful Priesthood blessing, and now I am feeling great! I LOVE hippie remedies that I am learning on my mission. :)

Hermana Tavoian and Hermana Dodge

Tell Tyler Weiss and the Weiss family that Elder Michael Neff is in my district. In fact, we serve in the same ward! He was so stoked that I knew them. It was so tender. Also, for the people that might read this and care, he is a huge Guster fan. We're buds.

Okay we need to talk about General Conference for a minute...

General Conference was about families this time. Holy cow.

Sister Dalton's talk? OH MY GOSH. Changed my life. I didn't even take notes. I just sat there in AWE as she spoke.

I saw Robin Pratt singing in conference and I was so excited! I was like, "I know her!" It was such a sweet surprise! The BYU choirs were absolutely WONDERFUL! They sounded fabulous. :)

Mom, do you remember that tea party that I went to when I was a little girl? It was a birthday party for someone in my class at school, and I was little, like maybe 1st, or 2nd grade. It was down in the old part of downtown Grapevine in the back of a little shoppe. It was an old fashion tea party...anyway, I remember being all dressed up in the fancy dresses they had there for us to wear, we walked along the street outside and practiced our princess waves, hahah. Anyway, when the ladies came around to serve us tea I asked the woman who was serving me, "Is that real tea?" and she said, "Yes, would you like some?" And I said, "Ummm, I don't know, just a second." You were sitting in the back by the other Moms and I ran up to you and whispered in your ear, something along the lines of, "Mommy, that's REAL tea that they are serving! What should I do?" And you looked at me and said, "What do you think you should do? What does the spirit tell you?" So I went back to my seat and sat downand the lady came back and asked me again if I would like some tea and I said, "No thank you, I don't drink tea." And then she said, "Okay, I will bring you something else!" I remember how good I felt. I felt so happy and proud of myself, and you just smiled at me. Mom, thank you so much for letting me make my own choices and allowing me to choose the right on my own and teaching me about the Spirit when I was young. There were quite a few talks about how to talk to your children and how to show your kids that you love them and I took SO many notes. I received a lot of revelation, but there were so many times where I thought to myself, 'My mom does that!' -or- 'Oh yeah, my mom is good at that!' So Mom, thanks for being so cool.

Oh man, Elder L Tom Perry THREW DOWN! It was awesome. I think he's been taking tips from Elder Holland. Oh, Elder Holland SERIOUSLY threw down this conference! Elder L. Tom Perry was the warm up, and Elder Jeffrey R Holland was the ball game. They were both AMAZING! President Thomas S Monson was so great, and hilarious. I am so thankful for him and his love. I am so thankful to have a true prophet on the earth today. He is a blessing and a treasure.

OHHHHH...ya know how President Monson announced a new temple to be built in Rio De Janeiro? Well, I hope everyone remembers that that is where the next OLYMPICS are going to be! How amazing is that going to be to have a temple being built, maybe, possibly even finished when people from all over the world are flocking there for the Olympics. That is absolutely amazing, and perfect timing. :)

I also loved Sister Wixom's talk. 'Where ere thou art, act well thy part." I remember looking at that stone in the Library at BYUI with Ryan, and then I went and saw it again at the MTC, and then she mentioned it in General Conference, and I was like...WHAT?!?! It was so cool. The BEST feeling.

I LOVE my Mission President and his wife. I want to BE a Mission President's wife. I am going to grow and live my life worthy of that. When I look at President  and Sister Hall and how cute they are, I just see me and my husband. We had training meetings this week and he told us his priorities are:

1- Sister Hall
2- Their kids
3- The Missionaries

So- what does that mean? Well- he told night is every Friday from 6--9pm so don't call. Then Sis. Hall interrupted him and said, "Honey, put a plus sign next to the 6-9pm 6-9 or more." He laughed and said, "I'll put 2 plus signs, just to be safe." and winked at her. It was THE cutest thing I have ever seen. He loves her so much. And he loves his kids. Family day is on Saturday, and FHE is Monday and he likes to help with dinner and homework from 6-9. AND- He loves us Missionaries like crazy. It was so cool. I just want to BE a Mission Presidents wife. I KNOW I'm going on another mission after this one when I'm older. Mission's'. I love this life and I want it forever. For people who might read this letter...Preach My Gospel doesn't just apply to missionary work. It applies to family. How to make goals FOR YOUR FAMILY. How to use time wisely FOR YOUR FAMILY. So, yeah, I'm going to use Preach My Gospel forever.
Look who I saw! Hrm Clifton, Hrm Barnes, and I
at our training meetings.

Oh gosh, my time is up and people are waiting to use the computers. I gotta go. I love you so much. Give Daddy a hug and thank him for me. He's so cool. I love all of you so much. Okay...gotta go.

Hermana Dodge

Monday, April 1, 2013

I'm in Palmdale California!

Oh, my, lanta, I am so stinkin' happy to write you. First things first:


So, I'm in Palmdale, specifically Esperanza West area, yes Spanish speaking :) I was super stoked about that. I did NOT want to get sent English right out of the gate, but apparently, President pretty much keeps Spanish missionaries in Spanish areas because hellooooo, there are TONS to teach! Most of the people in my area are from Guatemala and Mexico. A couple from Peru and El Salvador. Don't worry, I have plans to learn how to make all of the delicious food I'm eating. I CANNOT believe I haven't had a papusa, yet. Don't worry. I'm going to fix that soon. Anyway, I'm legitimately in the DESERT out here. I'll send/take pictures today. Our apartment has pretty green grass, and then as soon as you turn out of our complex it is DEAD. sand, joshua trees, the whole 9 yards. I love it. It's so gorgeous. I LOVELOVELOVE it out here! The people are absolutely wonderful. This area hasn't had Hermanas in 8 years, so everyone is SO EXCITED to have us. And, we're white-washing the area, so we came in the area and hit the ground running. Luckily, the elders who were here before us were awesome and really set us up for success. So, we had a baptism yesterday, we have another one next Sunday and another 2 on the Sunday after that :) First Sunday, First baptism! It was an awesome blessing. Her name is Margarita and she has 2 daughters that we are hoping to teach as well. 
Palmdale, California...I'm HERE!

President is awesome. SO AWESOME I CAN'T EVEN TELL YOU. His wife? EQUALLY, IF NOT MORE, AWESOMENESS. They love each other so much it's ridiculous. Totally reminds me of how much you and dad love each other. He loves sports and Doctor Who. Like, what? Who are these people? LOL. I only got to talk to President Hall for like, 3 minutes and he asked about me and what I like to do and everything and I mentioned about how I love sports and the sunshine and how happy I am to be here, but I also love music and I'm kind of a nerd and he just giggled a little and smiled and said, we are all about that in this family. It was awesome. They are like the grown up, married, cooler forms of me. They are amazing. They just always have the Spirit with them. We had a little training the next day by Sister Hall (what a gem) and she said "We don't care where you are, we care where you're going!" and I about fell out of my CHAIR. How many times have I said that? President also said something that I really liked: (paraphrased) If you let the mission go through you, instead of you going through your mission,  your eternity will change. Your spouse will be different, your kids will be different, everything will be different just by the way you decide to live your mission. 

I'm going to let the mission go through me. I love it. One thing Elder Holland said in the MTC is that he can't stand it when missionaries say things like "life after the mission" or "when i get back to real life..." etc. He said THIS IS REAL LIFE. If you serve your mission correctly, your life when you get home won't be much different! Just without a tag and some other little things! 

Okay, so, more about me and the area :) 

The people are amazing. The branch is tiny, but good! The Bishopric is awesome, and we have an awesome ward mission leader, so things are set for some awesome work! Bless my heart and the heart of anyone who is patient enough to suffer through my Spanish. When I got here I realized how much I have to learn! And, it's "funny" because my English is kind of... well... it's hurting lol! It's hard for me to read out loud in English. I can read it just fine, don't get me wrong, but when I have to read it out loud, it takes me just a tiny bit longer than it did before. lol I love it. SUCH an awesome side-effect of learning Spanish. This past week we went and talked to Juanita. Juanita is from Oaxaca, Mexico. Like, she is FROM OAXACA. (prounounced wah-hawk-ah) She is the smallest hispanic woman I have ever seen in my entire life. Smaller than Grandma Dodge, and if I remember correctly, Grandma was small! I love her. She is so kind. She is like 90-something years old and ADORABLE. I'll take a picture with her, don't worry. I remember you telling me that Grandma Beaujeu was so small you could stick out your arm and walk by her and she would go under your arm. Hahaha. This lady is just like that. She is absolutely beautiful. She loved it when we sang hymns to her. She just got baptized a couple weeks ago. Last week, actually. I think. She loves visitors and so we set another appointment to come visit her and teach her a little more on Wednesday. 

My new companion is Hermana Tavoian (pronounced tu-voy-yahn) is amazing. She is my trainer and is everything a new missionary could want: obedient, kind, follows the Spirit, supportive, knows more Spanish than me, but not condescending or prideful. She is an angel! She's from Malad, Idaho! And, she went to BYUI before the mission! She is quiet, but i love her. I have quiet companions. Do you think the Lord is trying to teach me something? lol I love it here. Everything is going so awesome. 

Funny story: There are some awesome youth in this area. So we went by Jesus, Allen, and Oscar's place to ask them about some referrals they gave us and they were so excited. Anyway, they asked us where we were from and Jesus said "You're from Utah, right?" and I was like,  "NO way!!!!! I'm from TEXAS!" and Allen smacked Jesus in the arm and said "You just said that because she's white, didn't you?" and he goes, "Yeaaahhhh".... and we all laughed. I was like no way! I'm from Texas! and I've got a little Mexicano in me! It was hilarious. I'm definitely the minority here. The bishop gave us time at the beginning of testimony meeting yesterday to share our testimonies. Everyone really liked that. Nobody knows this is my first area so every family we've had dinner with is super surprised because "my Spanish is so good".... but it's NOT! I have so much to work on, and I'm not worried about it though, I know the Lord is helping me a ton, but I just don't understand why they keep saying that. lol!

p.s. Johnny Jarnigan is going to BYUI after his Mission? HECK YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! PARTY!

p.p.s. We're driving a 2013 Chevy Cruze. brand new. Our zone is JEALOUS. And we love it. :)
My new address is:
Hermana Dodge
38121 25th St. East
Palmdale, CA, 93550
Thanks for sending me some pictures. That Mormon Prom pic of Lara Peterson is absolutely gorgeous. So is the one of Hailey in that picture. Absolutely stunning girls.  :)
I LOVE your Sew Sandi! Sew cute! (see what I did there lol?)
Also, I feel Grandma Dodge's presence all around me. I love the white skirt you sent me. ABSOLUTELY love it. At first I was like, eh, maybe not, but I brought it with me, and I wore it the other day with that blue shirt and my tan flats and the wind was blowing a little bit and we were in the desert walking around the apartments to and from appointments and I could just feel her there. I looked down at my skirt flowing a little bit in the wind and I had my Spanish scriptures in my right hand and I just felt her. I felt my ancestors and how proud of me they are. I know they're happy! I know grandpa Dodge is so happy! When I'm with Juanita, I feel so in touch with my roots, ya know? I know I'm white. But I really hang on to that Mexicano culture! I always have and I always will! I mean, it might sound weird, but I'm so in touch with my ancestors here. I can feel their love and support for me. Don't get me started on Grandma Beaujeu. I'll cry. You can share that with some family members if you want!
p.s. I have to go now.
p.s. If anyone has written me in the past like 2 weeks,  I haven't gotten it. the MTC said they would forward our mail to us, but i'm not holding my breath that it's going to get here anytime soon. They are so busy. You have NO idea. lol
I love you so much, y'all!
I need letters! And get erika's email for me please! Thanks to everyone, and I mean EVERYONE who has taken the time to write me. I appreciate it so. much.
 Hermana Dodge