Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Chad's first week in Chile, and Rebecca arrived in Washington DC

Aug 26, 2013

Dear Family,
After talking to other missionaries at the training sessions in Concepcion for new missionaries this week, I learned that I am pretty spoiled with the house us missionaries live in here.  I will enjoy hot water while I have it.  The mission president is really nice. He is a great leader, and the things he taught at the meetings were really helpful.  I am glad I took good notes.

My companion is pretty cool.  The best way to describe him is the outgoing hardworking personality of Dustan, with a German accent when speaking English, and who loves skateboarding and skinny jeans.  Hard to picture, but he is really nice.  Everyone tells me I have the best trainer, that they wish he trained them, and that he is really hardcore about finding and teaching.  When tracting or going to appointments, we never walk, we power walk, because walking wastes time.  Throughout the day, I power walk at least 1 hour each day, just to go from point to point, and we plan appointments and tracting so that they are as close together as possible.  

We have 2 investigators progressing really well, Cassandra, who quit smoking, will be baptized the 7th of Sep. and Maria, a Jehovah´s Witness is doing awesome, reading the Book of Mormon a lot, and will be baptized the 7th as well.  It is exciting that we have baptisms coming up soon.  

I am doing great here.  It is cold, and I am always on the lookout for fleas, but I’ve heard they rely on clothing to be able to move around, so doing laundry is what ends their pathetic lives.  Also, haven’t tried it yet, wiping your clothing and bed with dryer sheets repels them.  I don’t think I’ve gotten bit by fleas yet, but I’ve been bitten a little bit on my hands by something.  It hardly itches, and is small, so don’t worry.  

Mom, you were correct when you said they pour oil on salads.  My very first full day in Chile, and my first meal with a member, she drenched the salad in oil, as well as lemon juice.  Mom forecasted that.  

There are a lot of dogs, everywhere in Chile.  The ones inside peoples yards bark really loud when you walk by, and the ones outside yards are calm, often asleep, and don´t seem to even notice you.  If I lived here, I would trade the dog in my yard for one outside in the streets.  

There is so much that I want to write, but it is hard to type it all so fast.  For example, the owner of house we live in is awesome, but we don’t see him much.  He isn’t a member.  He is a nice guy in his 50s who lives here as well.  He has his own room, and works until about 10:15 or so at night, he is really kind.  He smokes, as does almost everyone here, but he gives us bread at no cost to us, makes dinner for us on occasion.  This house is one of the few elder residences that has carpet, heated water, spaciousness, and a couch.  

At the conference, we were fed wonderfully.  Thursday lunch: a foot long subway sandwich.  Friday lunch: a box of dominoes pizza for every 2 missionaries.  There was an extra box left over, so the Elder who I was eating a pizza with, Elder Jensen from Utah, had the idea to go and grab it.  He ate 2 footlongs the other night.  We shared a little bit of the pizza, but that night, I set a record for myself.  My previous record was 5 slices of Costco pizza in the Mexico MTC.  I ate between 2/3 and 3/4 of a pizza, not sure how many slices.  It sufficeth me to say that I didn’t eat much for dinner that night.

More exciting news I figured out at the conference for new missionaries: the mission home for Chile Concepcion and Chile Concepcion South is the exact same building.  I might see Dallin at Christmas.  The offices are about 10 feet apart, but they both share the same bathroom, kitchen, and everything. 

I am glad to hear Rebecca is doing well in Washington D.C.  I hope she gets her visa soon, but then again Washington D.C. is probably really cool to see.  I am going to look for a watch.  On one of my last days in the MTC, I dropped my watch, and the hour hand stopped working.  The minute hand is still great, so it is not a huge problem.  My companions watch broke also, so we use the time on the mission cell phone.  

I have a few more minutes, I just want you to know that I love you all, and am doing great here on this other side of the equator.  The church is true, Joseph Smith was a prophet.  The Book of Mormon is the best thing to ever come off a printing press, simply because it is the pure word of God.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints is the only true church, and we are led by a prophet, President Monson.  I know that what I am doing here in Chile is what I ought to be doing, and I hope that you know that.  I love you all.  Adios.
Elder Withers

Dear Family,
This week has been CRAZY!  I am serving in a little town about an hour outside of DC called Leesburg.  My companion and I are THE ONLY walking sister missionaries in this mission, and its because our area is a mile by a mile.  ITS TINY!  We live in a complex, and right across the street are all of the people we teach. 

Social classes exist here.  The white people are pretty much as loaded as they come and live in the biggest houses you'll ever see.  And everyone else is from El Salvador....and those are the people we teach!  My first day proselyting and meeting the members and investigators, the whole time I kept thinking "uh.....  I haven't even left America and I already can't understand anyone" but after a few days of hearing and speaking ONLY Spanish, I'm doing fine.

The El Salvadorians (?) live in these little apartment complexes with like 8 -12 people.  They all work in landscaping, maid services, at a restaurant, or day care services.  The lady that lives a floor above us runs a daycare sort of thing, and I am pretty sure she only agrees to take care of the kids who can lift heavy things....sometimes it sounds like the ceiling is going to cave!

So we walk everywhere...and by everywhere I mean we walk across the street from our apartment (which is actually super nice...more on this later) and to the other complexes.  We walk through one, and if no one is outside we move on...crossing the parking lot that connects to the next one, and if there is still no one, then we cross another street and arrive at yet another huge apartment complex.  The third one never disappoints, because its the biggest and also has a huge park type thing in the middle, with benches, a playground, and about 80,000 kids playing soccer and speeding around on their Dora and transformer bikes.  It should be documented - these kids are good at soccer.  They not only play like Latinos...they play with the playground (ha if that makes any sense.)  They pass through the bars and secret tunnels, kick over the slides and around the rocking horse things, and their accuracy is awesome.  They are all going to be famous one day. 

Because our area is so small, and we stand out as white, everyone knows us, has seen us, has been taught by us, or knows someone being taught by us.  A lot of kids ask for stickers and sometimes you will be meeting someone on a bench or something and some more people will come over and join the discussion, as if they are afraid to miss out on something. 

The surge of missionaries is real.  Just in this tiny little area, we have 4 missionaries, 2 hermanas and 2 elders, all Spanish speaking.  In the ward, just this one tiny little Potomac Crossing Ward, there are EIGHT MISSIONARIES.  Eight!  It's crazy.  There were never that many in just our Boise ward, and that ward is twice the size of this one.  It gets better.  The ward is English speaking, but all of our investigators and members speak mediocre English...so there is a little group of Spanish members who have their own sacrament meeting in the Relief Society room at the same time.  It is too small of a group to be a branch, but they all show up and support each other, so it’s awesome.  The goal is to make it big enough (not exactly sure what big enough is) by the end of the year.  In that Spanish group, there are 6 missionaries!  I don't know where they are all coming from, but there are tons of us.  The members love it, and everyone else in Leesburg gets to see us and have repeated visits and lessons from a lot of different missionaries - because we aren't going anywhere and there are more coming.  There is a lot to do and we have to find those people who are ready for the gospel but who have been slipping through the cracks.

The day I flew in, I arrived with 42 other missionaries fresh out of the MTC.  10 of us are visa waiters, and another 8 or so came from the Mexico MTC.  The president and his wife along with the assistants greeted us at the airport.  They all kept saying, you are the record!  42 is the largest number they have ever had come in on one transfer.  We completely overtook baggage claim, and it took a U-haul to transport all of the luggage.  President Riggs is incredible, and also very young (they have 3 kids still living with them at home).  We piled into two 14 passenger vans, and other random cars that came from somewhere, and began a tour of DC!  It was sweet.  Whoever designed the roadway system for DC is crazy, because it makes no sense.  There are random one way streets and every other intersection seemed to be a roundabout.  Sister Riggs was driving the car I was in.  President really wasn't kidding when he said, "I love you guys, but pray hard...she is a scary driver."  Ha, I thought I might not ever live to see the Lincoln Memorial. 

Once we finished gallavanting around DC for a few hours, we piled into our cars, began the trek home for dinner and then to the hotel.  There were 17 of us sisters, and the mission home couldn't hold us all for the night...so we went to the hotel!  It was cool.

The next day we spent training, and I met my companion Hermana Woodbury.  She has been in the field for 6 weeks...which means my trainer is young, but she is amazing and everything is going well.  She is super super awesome, but a little more shy and reserved than my last companion so that has been an adjustment.  We get along really well though.  

There is so much more I want to write and describe about this area, but there isn't enough time, so I will do my best over these next couple of weeks to be as descriptive as possible.  
I love you more than all of the Hispanics that live in one apartment,
Hermana Withers 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Chad's first area - Chillan

Dear Family,
I have been assigned to be trained by Elder Catron. He is great and has a genuine excitement for the work.  I will be working in Chillan.  The town is not much for looks, but I did not come on a mission for scenery.  The town is tiny, but the people are overall pretty cool.  The bishop has been a member for only 4 years, but he is gung ho about missionary work, and we got a reference from him.  We had 3 people go with us to church last week, all with baptismal dates.  I know that God answers prayers.  The people are receptive, and that is what I hoped for.  

I like this quote from President Monson, Ensign November 1986, "Courage.  Let us have the courage to defy the consensus, the courage to stand for principle.  Courage not compromise brings the smile of God's approval.  Courage becomes a living and an attractive virtue when it is regarded not only as a willingness to die manfully, but as the determination to live decently.  A moral coward is one who is afraid to do what he thinks is right because others will disapprove or laugh.  Remember that all men have their fears, but those who face their fears with dignity have courage as well."

I may not email for a while.  The email here is you go into town, and pay a few thousand pesos for internet service.  They have a bunch of computers, and you just sit down and log in.  My trainer is from Buenos Aires Argentina.  He looks very American, and it frustrates him when Chileans talk to him in English because they think he is from the USA or something.  He can speak English relatively well, but has a strong German accent.  He must have learned English from German-Argentines.  He says he is of Spanish, Italian, German, and Lamanite descent. 

This is a walking area, but bikes would be nice.  We walk many miles each day, and I am on my last belt notch.  If you can get a package sent, put in some bug bombs, to kill all fleas.  The house we are staying at doesn’t have any, but I’ve learned that some of the other missionary lodgings are flea central.  If I go to a flea place in my next area, I´d like to be ready.  The house we are staying in has heated water, and is good.  

My favorite finding technique is what I call fast tracting.  You knock, talk, and if they don’t want to listen, you don’t waste a second there, you just run to the next house.  That is how we found a family of 4 children and a mom.  She cried in the first lesson, and one of her kids is 8 or 9 years old.  I think they will come into the fold.  I am safe and happy.  I know that this is the Lord´s work.  I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet, called by the God, and that Christ Lives.  I know that this work can not be stopped.  I know that Thomas S. Monson is the Prophet and President of this church, the true church.

I love you more than all the yapping dogs in Chillan,
Elder Withers 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Washington DC South!!!

August 17, 2013

Dear Family,

I finally have a ticket out of the MTC!  Our district has felt anything but wanted this last week.  The mail people almost gave away our mailbox, the Elders beds were almost given to new missionaries, and one of our teachers went on vacation to California.  BUT, this week was also really great.  On Sunday, we went to Music and the Spoken Word, and one of the songs the choir sang was "You are Never Alone" from the Broadway musical "Carousel" which has the song that says..."When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high, and don't be afraid of the dark..." I don't remember the rest of the words, but I loved hearing that song :) and it reminded me of Dad :)

Also last Sunday our district sang "How Great Thou Art" acapella, and in Spanish for Sacrament meeting.  It was cool!  And after Sunday devotional, the Elders gave each other and us Hermanas priesthood blessings before some of them left.  It was cool. 

Something cool I learned this week is that my mission experience is like an MTC for the rest of my life, and the next.  Everything I learn while serving is a lesson for my whole life.  And also missionary work is like gardening.  If you are worthy, the Lord lets you serve in His garden. Some missionaries pull weeds, others pull out rocks, some fertilize, some plant seeds, and some pick the fruit....but it doesn't matter at which point a missionary finds themselves serving...BECAUSE IT IS ALL THE SAME WORK.  I just think it is cool to think about.

This last week, while teachers were fumbling for things to teach our district, we practiced door contacts.  And it was so fun!  Our teacher took on the role of a very bitter ex-member and getting in was difficult.  She slammed the door a couple of times, but just like Thomas Edison found all the ways to not make a light bulb....during this experience I found all the ways to not door contact.  What works best for my companion and I is to knock on the door, look them squarely in the eye for the ENTIRE CONTACT and with power, confidence, boldness, and sincere belief in what we are teaching...have one of us say, "We are representatives of Jesus Christ....can we come in?"  Less is most often more, and if Christ were knocking on these doors, he would probably be invited in nearly every time.  I can be invited in every time too, but I need to make the first impression good.

On Tuesday we had choir practice and it was sweet.  We sang Jesus Once of Humble Birth.  We all knew someone important was coming because the floor was decorated to the nines.  When the leaders were starting to walk in, I think every missionary was sitting on the edge of their seat, anxious to see who it is...like kids waiting for Santa to come around the corner.  And who was speaking?  ELDER RICHARD G. SCOTT.  It was so awesome.  He had an awesome message about prayer, and I made sure to take good notes.  At every devotional, the opening hymn is always “Called to Serve”, and it is so fun to sing that with so many other missionaries in the Marriott Center.  After the devotional was over, it was dead silent and no one seemed to move a muscle.  Elder Scott yelled out, "Be Good" and all the missionaries incredibly in unison, yelled back "We Love You!"  It was cool :)

So I am headed to Washington DC South for a while and I am super excited!  I am starting to wonder if my Spanish is sufficient for the outside world and not just the MTC. Here, we have like "special MTC Spanish" meaning we say things like "como un jefe" which means "what a boss" and "solamente vive una ves" which means "you only live once" and "pues pues pues, que tenemos aqui"  which is supposed to mean "well well well, what do we have here?"  and the most random of them all is "oh mi gato" which translates into "oh my cat."  I am fairly certain that our MTC Spanish doesn't exist or directly translate into anything in the outside world.

Okay, so here is something that is funny.  The MTC lets people volunteer to help with stuff, like conduct the gathering hymns and hymns during the meeting for the devotionals.  There is one particular volunteer who is so funny...and by funny I think she is so frustrated with how we sing. There are almost 3000 people in one room trying to follow her command, and it’s hard to stay together all the time, especially because she sometimes picks hymns that no one knows.  She tries so hard to get us to stay together, and then during the parts you would have a natural tendency to sing loud...she always wants us to sing above a whisper.  So during Onward Christian Soldiers, we sing normal, and then at the chorus she tries to force a whisper....and it fails every time.  The idea of leading a bunch of missionaries to sing quietly has the word fail written over it already...but guess what?  She doesn't just keep going, she stops the whole show.  She says, "ohp, ohp"  I think we can do better than that.  She makes the organist stop, makes us start over, and it’s crazy.  We never get to hear music, so when we get to sing it’s so awesome and we don't really care what we sound like, but this lady is so determined to make us sound good.  Maybe one day she can leave this place happy.

I get to go to the temple today, I am so excited!  Keep me posted on everything!
I love you all more than the number of hours I have spent studying these last 7 weeks,
Hermana Withers

Friday, August 16, 2013

Drumroll please..... !!!!!

"Sister Withers,

At this time, we have not received your visa to travel to your mission.  You will be serving a temporary assignment in the WASHINGTON DC SOUTH MISSION until your visa arrives.  Please email your family as soon as possible to give them all travel information"

Ahhhhh!!!!!!  I am so excited!!!! I leave the MTC on Wednesday morning at 2:30am (!).  My first flight is out of SLC, 6:00am, to MSP - (Minneapolis St. Paul ironic huh? :)  And my next flight leaves at 10:20am, arriving in DC at 1:42pm.  

I am the only one from my district going to DC, my companion is going to Independence Missouri, and the other Elders are going to Houston Texas, Cleveland Ohio, Ogden Utah, and LA California.  I am flying Delta; my first flight number is 1440 and my second number is 1764.  I am traveling with 4 other missionaries who have been called to Washington DC South on a reassignment, and I am so excited.  I don't know anything about this mission though, so can you research it for me?  Do I have the temple in my mission?  Does the mission go outside of DC?  Am I in touristy stuff or in suburbs or both?  

I have a calling card and should be able to call you sometime between 4 and 5 in the morning, MST time...so I think that is 5 or 6 for you guys?

I am beyond excited.  I will probably start packing tomorrow, since its P-Day...and I also get to go to the temple because the Provo temple finally opened!  

Thanks so much for everything and for all of your support!
I love you more than all the liberals in DC,

Hermana Withers  

Monday, August 12, 2013

Adios Mexico!!

We got to talk to Chad this evening.  He sounds great!!  He is excited to be on his way, and he even spoke a little Spanish for us.  He will be in Chile tomorrow (Tuesday Aug. 13), and we are excited for all the adventures he will share with us.  This was an email that he sent earlier this afternoon:

Dear Family,
I am leaving today. I leave the MTC at 4:30 pm, fly at 9:25 non-stop to Santiago, it is a 9 hour flight.  I get to Santiago at 6:30 am, have a 5 hour layover, and then a 1 hour and 10 min flight to Concepción.  

I have been told differing things on whether I can call or not.  In these situations I choose what makes most sense, so if I get a chance, I will call you all.  I don't know how much it will cost to call.  For your information, 1 US Dollar = 513.5 Chilean Pesos.  I hope to speak to you either this evening or tomorrow during the 5 hour layover.  

There are 14 Concepcion missionaries leaving from here today, and 2 more leaving from Provo.  There are 7 Viña del Mar missionaries leaving from here with us.  I hope I fall asleep.  

Anyway, that is all for now. You are the best parents, and the best brother and sisters in the whole wide world.  I love you all so very much.  :) x 100,000,000!!!!!

Elder Withers

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Staying one more week

August 11, 2013

Dear Family,

Hola!  I am doing well.  I can’t wait to leave.  They sell ties here, and the price ranges from 80 cents to 4 dollars in American money, so I’ve picked up a few more. 
¿Por qué no?  I am really happy to get into the field. 

Thank you for the dear elder letters.  They haven’t finished sorting all of today’s mail, so I will check tomorrow for mail.  I got an email from my Mission President or his wife actually, about entering Chile.  I like that kind of stuff.  Nobody has told me anything about when I am leaving.  I am fairly certain (87.45% certain) that I will be flying out on Monday.  I am trying to not repeat myself between snail mail and email, so this is short today. 

The facilities here are marvelous.  Although this is the newest MTC, these buildings are probably older than any of the other MTCs.  There isn’t air conditioning in the apartments.  My apartment is really close to the wall, so it can be hard to fall asleep, especially with all the honking.  The police are everywhere in this city… second to taxi companies and drug cartels, the police force is probably the biggest employer.  A few nights ago, about twenty police vehicles raced by, all with sirens blaring.  None of the police cars ever turn their lights off.  Even if they aren’t pulling someone over, they still have their lights on, all the time.  It is odd.  

I talk with native Spanish speakers every day, and I can usually understand most of what they say, and say most of what I want to say.  The Latinos I’ve roomed with say my Spanish is good, that they understand me.  I am hopeful that I can learn more.  I would like to tell you that I am leading the district in both speaking and understanding, but there is still a lot that I don’t know.  

My testimony is growing; Joseph Smith was a real prophet.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints is the true church. Thomas S. Monson is the prophet.  I love you all so very much. 

I love you all, more than the number of spoonfuls of cereal I’ve eaten in the last 6 weeks!  Thanks so much for all your love and support. 

I really do love you all, 
Elder Withers

Dear Family,

Thank you so much for writing me and keeping me updated on stuff.  I love hearing from everyone.  This has been another terrific week.  So, yes!  I am here for one more week.  I confess I was a little bummed to get one letter that said, "Hey, we have a reassignment coming for you this week, will keep you posted!”  to "Actually sorry about that...we need you to stay one more week and eat our ice cream and learn more Spanish."  It's all for a reason, but Thursday was a little long as I kept letting myself fantasize what next week will be like....and I must not have a very good imagination.  There are 3 missionaries leaving from our district next week.  On Monday we have one going to Paraguay and one going to Chile, and one more going to Eugene Oregon.  There is one missionary staying for visitor’s center training, and then there are us 6 Rosarioites who have been chosen to stay one more week.  I got rid of the original disappointment and am ready to take on this next week.  It is going to be soooo fun and I get to learn cool stuff for one more week. 

On Friday, the MTC has what is called In-Field Orientation, which is like a last hurrah meeting thing for all of the missionaries getting ready to leave the following week.  Everyone in there was leaving except for like 12 of us (as far as I could tell).  I kept getting asked when and where I was going...and I was just like "Oh… hey, yep...so there were too many of you who are leaving, that they had to pick some of us to stay and party without you...I don't know when I am leaving, but Bye!"  I felt as though I was a new missionary who didn't know anything and ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time.  So that made yesterday long and hard too.  Over 450 missionaries leaving, and all I heard about all day was every one's flight plans.  Ahhh....life never goes like you think it will.  Even when you think you have everything figured out, there is never a guarantee and often the Lord has a bigger and better plan, we just have to let Him give it to us, and then follow it faithfully. 

I hosted again this last Wednesday, and it was crazy.  Over 850 missionaries entered that day, and I'm willing to bet that way more than 1/2 were Elders.  THERE WERE SO MANY ELDERS.  It was AWESOME!  But it also meant that I only got to host one Sister (who was going to France) because there just weren't that many Sisters entering this week.  I think the graduation effect is in full swing, and all of the Elders who just got out of High School are starting to come in at full speed. 

I keep hearing people say this line, "Are you going to make excuses, or are you going to make it happen?"  I LOVE THAT QUOTE.  It can be really easy to justify laziness.  And laziness is not the way of the Lord.  The more time I have spent serving my mission the more I have learned... that time is going to pass no matter how you serve, so it might as well be done right.  Not everything is going to be sunshine and rainbows...but having faith that the work can get done, instead of making excuses to not do it will result in so many blessings. 

Last Monday morning, we were getting ready to start class and our teacher said, "Lets have a power walking contest around this floor."  So we did!  And it was so fun!  I'm sure we all looked ridiculous with our grandma arms going as fast as we could swing them, but it was so fun.  And of course the 6 foot Elders won...but we should all just agree that they cheated with their genetic advantage because they have much longer legs.   

The other night (not sure which specifically) my companion and I and the other Hermanas built a blanket fort with extra blankets from the two unoccupied beds.  We shoved all the junk food from packages in there, and at the end of each day, we spend roughly 10 minutes just eating, talking and decompressing.  It is so much fun and I love to go from that to writing in my journal, to prayers, to bedtime...to starting fresh the next day.  It is an excellent system :)

Last Saturday, I learned what missionary work is all about.  There is a HUGE painting of Christ, teaching the disciples in the main building.  And the whole time, all I could do was stare at Jesus feet.  Thinking about what He did, where He went, who He taught...and the thought hit me like a bus, I AM FILLING CHRIST’S SHOES.  I wear his  name on my heart along with mine, and together we are serving.  I am doing what He would do if He were here, and quite literally filling his shoes.  It is just a cool thought for me to think about, and now every time I see paintings of Christ here I can't help but look at His feet, smile, and get super excited to be in the field finding and teaching real people.

On Sunday, we had a devotional...and the speaker was JENNY OAKS BAKER.  My MTC experience has been incredible, but that really put the cherry on top of the whole deal.  She would talk for like 3 or 4 minutes, and then play beautiful violin arrangements of hymns (I know that My Redeemer Lives, Amazing Grace, A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief, and more).  It was the best devotional yet.  Her kids also played I am a Child of God together and it was so good and super cute. 

On Friday, we got to talk to the real Luis, investigator that our teacher has been acting as.  It was so cool!  He is from Puerto Rico, and I couldn't understand anything he was saying, but it was still cool to listen to him. 

 I just think it should be documented that the Elders in my district are such gentleman.  They have always held the doors open and offer seats all the time, but lately they have been taking our trays after meals for us, so that we don't have to go into the disgusting dish room that smells SO BAD.  The cafeteria people can never be paid enough money, because it smells awful in there, and lately we haven't had to go in!  It's so awesome!

Another thing I keep hearing around here at the MTC is, "autograph your work with excellence."  Good one, huh?  I love it.  At the MTC we are all serving and doing the Lord's work full time, but there is something to be said of doing right, and "autographing it with excellence."  And also I hear "Your future is as bright as your faith."  Which is so awesome for me to hear often.  Sometimes I let myself freak out about potentially difficult companions, areas, etc... and I have learned that thinking that way is garbage.  Everything will be just fine, THE HARD PART IS HAVING FAITH. 

Thanks for all of your love and support, I love you more than all of the sand in the seas,
 Hermana Withers

Thursday, August 8, 2013


I have been told to quickly send an email to my family because I received the following letter in my mailbox today.
"Dear Sister Withers,
At this time, we have not received your visa to travel to your mission and becuase of the large number of names that were submitted for temporarty assignment this week, we were unable to place everyone on the list.  Unfortunately, you did not receive a temporart assignment this week, but your name will be turned in again next week and you should receive that information in your mailbox by next Friday.  Please email your family as soon as possible to let them know you will remain at the MTC for another week.
Thank You
MTC Travel Office."
I don't have any time to write now, but I will on Saturday.  I love you all!
Hermana Withers

Sunday, August 4, 2013

At the MTC map... Argentina Rosario

One More Week!

Aug. 3, 2013

Chad’s Letter

Dear Family,
Hola!  I want you to know that I found the ice cream.  The store sells it.  They have ice cream cones and sandwiches and magnum bars and popsicles flavored like strange and foreign fruit.  It is good.  Do you still like Frosted Flakes?  I have a story that will make you proud.  2 weeks ago they installed breakfast cereal dispensers in the cafeteria.  I was the first person in the history of this MTC to crank Frosted Flakes out of that machine.  They were Grrreat! 

You would not believe the food here.  It ranges from Costco pizza on Tuesdays (to trick the new arrivals… I fell for it too), to the most questionable salad bar I have ever seen.  There is this one red fruit that I could hardly swallow.  The spicy salsa is bueno.  The Elders from Mexico say that the salsa is okay for them to eat, but gringos shouldn’t try it.  I handle it better than they do.  It was really spicy at first, but now I am used to it.  I had no problem with putting jalapenos in with my fruit loops. 

I hope you’re having a fun summer.  I am glad to hear that you are having fun at the lake.  I have only a couple weeks left of summer.  It is crazy to think about.  I will be heading down south into winter.

I am making great headway in learning Español.  I’ve figured out how to decide when to use por and when to use para.  We had a member of the 1st quorum of the seventy come and speak last night, and I’ve been told that during August, an Apostle will come.  Thanks so much for all the dear elders and the letters.  Thanks for those Ensign talks in Spanish. 

I can’t believe how fast time is flying.  I am 2/3 of the way through with the MTC,  and then I will be in Chile.  It isn’t the same narrow strip of land by the sea that Moroni talked about, but I like to think it is.  I am so happy to be here. 

I love you very much,
-Elder Withers

Rebecca’s Letter

Dear Family,
It's been another terrific week!  Last Sunday during Relief Society, they mentioned that there were 1300 sisters gathering together each Sunday here at the MTC.  Cool huh?!  Each time we meet we always sing As Sisters in Zion, and it’s always so incredible to sing with that many sister missionaries...it brings such a powerful and lasting Spirit. 

Crazy thing happened earlier this week, I ran into an Elder Withers......and it wasn't Chad.  Apparently Dad's Uncle Russell has a grandkid named James Withers headed for Australia on his mission.  Ha, it was so weird.  I was eating dinner with  my zone, and this Elder just kept staring at my tag....and I was like, "uh do I know you?"  And then a whole conversation ensued as we tried to figure out if we are related.  He knows Grandma Withers very well, and says that she is his great Aunt, so that makes him my second cousin.  Small world. 

Last Sunday, the cafeteria got so full that they had to block the doors shut to hungry missionaries because there literally wasn't a single spot to sit.  It was the first time I had seen that, and I haven't seen it since...which is good because those missionaries had to wait about 15 minutes until it cleared out a bit.  Good thing I was already in!

It really feels like I have been in the MTC for ages...and it’s only been a month (to the day actually!).  A person's sense of time is sort of warped here, but somehow the weeks are flying by. 

On Monday we had a TRC lesson, and our investigator was an immigrant from Chile Concepcion!  And......her Spanish was also lightning fast.  I did my best to understand but all I could pick up was the basic point of her comments each time she spoke.  She dropped all of her "s" but was also the kindest lady ever. 

Every Tuesday morning we play volleyball as a district and it is so fun.  We go out to the field and play in the volleyball pits and it feels like we are all at a beach digging our feet into the sand.  It's so fun!  Tuesday night, we all (everyone in the MTC) walk to the Marriott center for the devotional, and it is hilarious.  People come out of their office buildings, from Campus, and the parking lot...and all stare at the thousands of missionaries marching like Helaman's army.  A lot of them wave, in one particular window is a group of people who wheel over a white board and write messages and put it against the window.  As missionaries we all just laugh, wave back, and under our breath say how it makes us feel like social aliens.  If we were anyone else, no one would care; but because we are missionaries (!) people get excited.  It’s fun to feel like we are the star of some parade each week.  In the devotional this week, the speaker said that as of July 25th, there are 73,522 missionaries.  AWESOME.

On Wednesday I got to host!  And it was SO MUCH FUN.  I hosted one sister from Minneapolis going to Brazil, a sister from Provo going to Chile Concepcion (Chad's mission), and another sister from California going to Mississippi.  It was fun to welcome each of them and be one of their first friends here.  You would meet them at the curb, wait for them to quickly say goodbye, ask if they had any keys or a cell phone they needed to get rid of, make sure they had their immunizations record, take their luggage, and take them all over campus...to drop off their stuff, get their books, and take them to their class.  It was fun, and also made me grateful that a missionary only has to say goodbye once.  One of the best things about hosting though was waiting on the curb for another sister to need a host...you just get to watch as SO MANY MISSIONARIES COME.  (Side note:  Every 15 minutes about 100 missionaries would check in!) 

At one point while on the curb, my companion and I were just talking and saying "hi" to new missionaries, when a big, yellow bus pulls in.  It was packed to the brim with people (and it wasn't a short bus, we are talking a real live school bus).  The letters "sc" were scratched out and replaced with the letter "k" to say "kool bus."  It was definitely classy, trashy, and so awesome all at the same time.  I don't know how many missionaries were getting dropped off, but there were a lot of supportive people on that bus (:
Sort of interesting… apparently the number of Spanish speaking missions has decreased, and English speaking has almost tripled.  There are SO MANY SPANISH TEACHERS.  They just don't have a district to teach.  The Mexico MTC has absorbed a lot of the Spanish speaking missionaries.  This means that most districts have 2 teachers, and we have 9.  NINE I TELL YOU.  It's really helpful because there is almost always a teacher available to help a companionship one on one.

Earlier this week I heard someone say, that diligence means still working hard even when you are tired.  I love that!  It's so true.  By 7:30 or 8:00 my body and mind really start to become tired, but there is still so much to learn, and I couldn't live with myself if I slept my mission away.  5-10 minutes each day could add up to a substantial chunk of time wasted, that should have been spent serving or learning.  Some days I am more tired than others, but somehow I also have enough energy to get things done.  It's like the time going fast but I feel like I have been here forever... sometimes I feel tired but I always have enough energy to keep going.  Don't know how it works, but it's a miracle and I am so grateful. 

So.............travel updates.   Drumroll....................my visa didn't come.  My name will be submitted on Monday for a reassignment, and I should have my stateside call by Thursday or Friday, and then I will leave the next Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday.  I saw it coming, so I am not disappointed.  The only people getting visas to Argentina right away are the Australians because they have a relationship similar to the U.S. and Canada.  I am excited for my next assignment and will be sure to record with my voice recorder when I open and read it.  All 6 of us Argentina Rosario missionaries are getting reassigned, so some of us might go to the same place!  We will see, and I can't wait to give you the update next week! 

I didn't see the Hobson's on Wednesday, but I ran into Elder Hobson this morning.  He looked good, and its so awesome that Elder Dial got to be his host!

Thanks for all of your love and support.  It means so much, and I know I have the best family in the whole world.  I know the church is true and that the Book of Mormon is true and also one of the greatest blessings Heavenly Father has ever given to the world.  I know every prayer is heard, that families can be together forever when sealed in a temple, and that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world.

I love you all more than the number of people waiting to hear the truth,

Hermana Withers