What? & Why?

Sydney is serving a year and a half for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Chile Concepcion Mission from November 2013 - May 2015.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Week 8: No Time to Write

New Shirts
That's My Name
Chile Landscape
Market Place
Shop 'Til You Drop
Happy New Year!
New Year's Eve

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Week 7: Merry Christmas

Christmas with Hermanas
Christmas with a Local Family
Llama Finger Puppet Gift
Christmas Tree Creation

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Week 6: Chile

I have made it safe to Chile Concepcion! I am excited to be here! Ttyl!! J <3
Flight to Chile
Flight to Chile
Chile Landscape
Andes Mountains
Chile Concepcion Mission

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Week 5: No Time

Hola! Unfortunately, I have seriously no time to email you guys this week. :(  I leave for Chile on Monday. Supposedly I will be able to email everyone Monday morning, so hopefully I’ll get to do that. Love you all lots! Ttyl!! 

Aztec Head
From Home - to Mexico - to Chile
Hello Chile

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Week 4 in the MTC

I can’t believe it is December already! It doesn’t feel like it here. :) I’m going to write like crazy to tell you some fun things I’ve done and learned. First, here are some funny things that have happened lately here at the CCM:

- During a practice lesson with mi companion, I accidentally said, "through the atonement of Christ, you can repent of your fish" instead of "your sins". Lol! The words in Spanish are so similar! (Pescados=fish & Pecados=sins)

- You know the little Mexican tune that says, "la cucaracha, la cucaracha!"? Well, that little catchy tune is about cockroaches. Weird.

 - In a talk L. Tom Perry gave to us missionaries just recently, it was funny because he said the apostles have noticed a difference in the pictures the sisters send in for mission applications compared to the ones the elders send in. The guys photos are very simple and plain, and snapshot-ish, while the sisters photos look professional, and like we all went to the beauty parlor before taking the picture. He said the church has so many lovely young women. Lol! It was funnier the way he said, it but yea, its kind of true. haha!

Cool Scripture Cases
Me & My Companion at the MTC
Missionaries at MTC
Missionaries at MTC
OKAY, now some random facts:

- One of mi hermanas said I should watch "One Crazy Summer" sometime once I get home, since I like the movie "Better Off Dead" - She said it is really similar, & funny, & I think she said she liked it a little more than better off dead. So I just thought Id send on the info for you guys, in case you were interested. :)

- So do you guys remember when we got the Missionary from Mexico a couple years ago? & we asked how to say, "Whats up, homie G?!" in spanish. Well, he said "Que pasa, Homie G" which translated means "What happens, Homie G?!" just kinda interesting. :)

- Apparently, our night teacher told us that they don’t really teach grammar in Mexican schools too much. They basically all just learn the correct ways to use and speak Spanish by listening to others, and reading! Weird huh?

- Also random, but I go my jacket dry-cleaned here for 4 dollars. Is that a good price? How much does it usually cost at home?

OKAY! Now some spiritual stuff:

- I read a really good talk this week. You guys should all read it. It was called "Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence" by Jeffery R. Holland. Here is a little teaser quote to give you guys an idea of how good it is. ;) 

"Don’t give in. Certainly don´t give in to that being who is bent on the destruction of your happiness. {Satan} He wants everyone to be miserable like unto himself. {the sayings goes, Misery like company, right?} Face your doubts. Master your fears. ´Cast not away therefore your confidence.´ Stay the course and see the beauty of life unfold for you." 

So yeah, it’s a really good talk. Read it. It was given at BYU in 1999, so hopefully that will help you find it.

- Also, kind of a neat scripture is Alma 42:24 in the Book of Mormon. In a small way, it helps to prove the truth of the book. (not completely of course, but still cool) And that is because in the scripture, it gives a gender to inanimate things. It assigns mercy as a female, and justice as a male. Its really neat B/C in English, we don’t really do that. So it would not have made sense for Joseph Smith to put that in there. But, in the Spanish language, it makes complete sense b/c everything is assigned a gender! Idk, just kinda a neat little thought.

Thanks to everyone for your emails! They make me so happy! :D I love checking my inbox & seeing it full!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Week 3: Halfway Through the CCM (MTC)

Wow, I can’t believe another week has already come and gone! Time seems to be going faster each week. So this week I’m going to go straight into talking about what’s happened and such, so that I can hopefully catch you all up. So much has happened that I want to tell you all about.

Hmm… Well, I guess I’ll go back to week one. On Thursday of that week, we had our 1st P-day.  We had to get up earlier than normal (at about 6ish) so we could eat and leave by 7am to go to the Mexico City Temple. And what a great experience it was! First off, the bus ride is SUCH an adventure. I love it. The drivers here are seriously crazy! It´s like a much worse version of Chicago drivers. Everyone drives fast, reaaaally close together - like insanely close - and nobody seems to use blinkers. All the buses, which there are a TON of public buses & taxis, are green and always super full.

Busy Streets & Crazy Drivers
Mexico City

We went to the temple and took lots of pictures on the outside. Then we did our worship services on the inside, which was good. We got a freebie that week and were able to listen to everything in English, so that was nice too. Today we went through in Spanish, and that was fun. I feel like I actually understood okay.

Name Tag
Missionaries at Mexico City Temple
Missionaries at Temple
Me & My Companion at Temple

Afterward, we all loaded back on the buses to go back to the CCM. Well, most of us anyway. The bus driver started to drive away, but two of the elders in my district had not yet gotten on. They were still at the store near the temple that sells fun things like Mexican scripture cases & such. All of us on the bus were trying to let the bus driver know there were two people not on yet. Just as we were about to pull out of the gates, the elders came SPRINTING all the way across the parking lot and hopped on the bus JUST in time!  It was so funny to see them running for the bus. Apparently the drivers really will leave us missionaries at the temple if we aren’t on the bus at the scheduled leaving time. I heard that yesterday, six elders got left there because they didn’t board the bus in time. lol! So I definitely don’t want to be late! Haha! (Hence why mi & mi compaƱera have not gone to the store yet) I’m not exactly sure what they do if they get left... wait for another bus from the CCM, I suppose or maybe they have to get a taxi. That would be quite the experience with our limited Spanish. Haha! :P

Beautiful Sky
Banana Man 

So yeah, that was fun. On our way back, we saw lots of fun stuff. People wait at traffic lights and when the light turns red they walk around the stopped cars trying to earn money from the drivers. There were jugglers, people quickly cleaning cars for money, and LOTS of people selling random foods. It was the craziest thing! When the bus came to a stop, my MTC Mission President bought some bananas from a boy selling on the street. Then an elder from the back of the bus saw and shouted he wanted to buy bananas. So one of the CCM workers shouted out in Spanish to the boy just as we were starting to leave, and the boy hopped up into the bus. He sold bananas to the missionary and then the next time we stopped he just hopped off! I wonder how often people do stuff like that around here, and where would they end up at the end of each workday? lol!

When we got back, we ate lunch, did laundry, wrote our emails to family, took naps, and then got back to studying and practicing teaching Spanish investigators.

‪I love you all mucho!! I hope you have a great Thanksgiving!! Remember to all be very thankful for what you have. I very much believe that the Lord wants us to be thankful for what we have, before he blesses us with any more. ‬

Con mucho Amor!!
Hermana Johnston

We wanted to clarify some of the things that Sydney mentioned in this e-mail. Below is a list of words along with an explanation of what they mean:

P-day stands for preparation day. It is one day set aside during the week when missionaries take care of personal needs like laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, writing letters home, as well as some fun activities and exercise. P-day ends at the dinner hour – so that’s a lot of stuff to squeeze into a few hours!

Temples are houses of the Lord. They are the most sacred structures on the earth. There are 141 temples operating worldwide, in Kyiv Ukraine, Johannesburg South Africa, Suva Fiji, Stockholm Sweden, Hong Kong China, Caracas Venezuela and Washington D.C. to name a few.

The CCM is a Missionary Training Center where missionaries go to receive training for their missions. Sydney is staying at the Mexico City CCM for six weeks while she learns to understand, speak and teach in Spanish. There are a total of 15 Missionary Training Centers throughout the world.

A missionary companionship consists of two (or occasionally, three) missionaries. Missionary companionships are generally maintained for months at a time and most missionaries will have served with multiple companions by the end of their mission. These companions rarely have prior acquaintance outside of the mission. Companionships are always of the same gender.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Week 2 in the Mexico MTC


So another week has already past! What everyone says about the weeks seeming like days and the days seeming like weeks is true! I mean, sometimes the days go by really quick, other times they seem really long, but then the time also seems to fly by! It´s weird. Ha ha! 

 It is really nice to have 3 meals a day just made for you, and I love them all (or most of them). Mexican food makes me happy! We have refried beans, a sort of yummy rice & meat, and corn tortillas at least once every day and I haven't gotten tired of them!! I still love it so much! They change the flavors of everything so much that its almost always something new! I feel like they put a lot of work into our meals. They're so nice. I´ve decided that's one of the really nice things about the MTC, is that you just get these 6 weeks solely to focus on studying the language and the gospel! You don't have to worry about food or cleaning your apartments because other people do that for us. Its really nice, and such an opportunity to just delve into studies! :)

Model of MTC


Considering I´ve only been here for 14 days, its amazing how much me & my district already know & understand! Especially seeing the people who came in knowing absolutely no Spanish, yet are keeping up almost just as well as the rest of us! I still have a LOT to learn and study, but when the teachers are talking to us, I can understand most of what they say, so that's cool. Although, I know from listening and talking with other natives that the teachers are really kind. Ha ha! They really enunciate their palabras (words) & talk a little slower than normal. I can kind of hold a conversation, but as soon as I get nervous or frustrated, I can't remember anything and then the conversation becomes Spanglish. Ha ha! But its coming. The hardest thing is definitely the verb tenses and their conjugations. El idioma de EspaƱol y (the language of Spanish and) its las reglas (rules) are muy dificil. (very difficult) 

The first day, we got up at 6:30, which like I said, has actually gotten to be quite easy to do. I find that I wake up a lot of times a little before my alarm even! Most days I don't even feel tired! I know that this is a blessing from the Lord because getting up early, or sleeping on a schedule has NUNCA (never) been easy for me! Yet, it works great here, even from day one! I actually like that schedule. And the most amazing thing, like I said, was that this first official day, after having soooo little sleep that past few days, I wasn't tired! Definitely a blessing. :) 

We had a yummy breakfast at 7:15. Sometimes they feed us American food too, like pancakes, waffles, corn dogs, hot dogs. What's weird, is at home I never was a huge fan of ketchup. Yet here, for some reason, I really like ketchup. I swear it tastes different, but all mi hermanas say it tastes like normal ketchup. Weird.

Then we met our teachers, learned gospel stuff & language stuff, lunch, more study, gym, dinner, more study. Then they gave us our 1st "investigator" that 1st night! He has become our night teacher this week and from now on. He only spoke to us in Spanish and he is very good at acting uninterested, tired, and bored. Ha ha! It was intimidating, but good. I have found my biggest problem when I teach (among many things) is that once I get nervous & not sure what to say because of the lack of knowledge of the language, I suddenly can't stop myself from laughing!!! It is awful!! Its like the worst thing u could possibly do in front of an investigator! They would feel like I'm laughing at them, but I'm really just laughing at my own stupidity and lack of knowledge. its like a curse. Some people cry - apparently I can't control my laughing. So pray for me to break this habit of laughing during lessons. It's somewhat OK in the MTC, but not for real. Ugh. 

OK, so sadly, I'm already out of time. It's so annoying that I can't write faster. So, i guess i´ll write you all next Thursday! Love u all lots! Keep writing - especially letters! But be aware, it takes at least 2 weeks for mail to get here, so don't send anything too close to the date of Dec. 17th. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Week 1 in the Mexico MTC

I have soooo much to tell you all, I wish I could talk to you on the phone. I would be able to tell you everything so much quicker, but that's OK. This will teach me to type quick. :) 

Wednesday, when I got to the Mexico City Airport, I was very nervous. But it turned out not to be as scary as I thought to go through immigration & customs. The airport people were actually quite friendly and helpful. I walked out of the customs sliding doors with all my luggage in tow, and it was crazy packed!  A representative from the CCM (Mexican MTC) came up to me really quick saying, "Hermana", and helped me with my bags. Apparently, the reason it felt like paparazzi was because it was! There were tons of people, and many with their big cameras for news and such. The Korean boy band, Super Junior, was supposed to arrive that night also. I didn't end up getting to see them, but just as we were leaving they arrived. The whole airport was filled with loud cheers, screaming and giggling women workers leaving their posts to go and see. It was pretty fun. I wish I could have gotten a glance at them, but it was still really fun to be there with all the commotion. 

There were about 6 or 7 of us missionaries who arrived at the airport at about the same time. The guys that picked us up at the airport were really nice. One of them bought us each a drink and a snack because he knew we were hungry, which was so nice of him! I only wanted a drink though. My first Mexican item! :D  It twas delicioso!

My First Mexican Drink
We all rode cramped together in this giant white van, in crazy traffic. Drivers in Mexico City are loco!! They just merge whenever they want to and as fast as possible! It's just so crazy that everyone doesn't get into accidents all the time! Many of the streets in Mexico City have bad smells. And almost everything has graffiti on it. On the way to the CCM  we saw lots of policia too! I kid you not, it felt like almost every street we passed there would be a police car with its lights on. There were also many driving along the streets with us. When we were driving, a police car came down the road with its lights on and no one slowed down, or moved over for him or anything! I guess they don't do that here. It was neat to see everything in Spanish, to see all the lights along the mountains and the old looking edificios(buildings). We even could see el templo (temple) all lit up. It was beautiful!

Our Van to the MTC

The CCM is 90 acres and was an old school for 50 yrs that was owned by the church. Our presidente said it was intended to be an MTC the whole time, and the Lord was just lending it as a school for the time. It works really well as an MTC. It is surrounded by a wall the whole way around and is guarded at the gate by security guards, because the city is a bit scary. When we got there, they fed us giant pizza and more fun Mexican drinks. Then mi & mi hermana went and found our casa (house), and went to bed without really unpacking at around 12.

So far, I've actually been really enjoying the MTC! I wish there was a little more free time, but it's all good. I was doing good till Sunday, then I felt really depressed. I felt like, "holy cow, I'm going to be out here for a year and a half without going home!" But then we had a devotional that night with a speaker who actually served in Chile. While on his mission there he ended up having surgery on his jaw for a cyst, just like I have had. His talk was funny, uplifting, and just what I needed to hear. The talk came at perfect timing, and it felt like it was for me. So I've been great ever since. :) 

And btw - I have woken up on time every day so far, on my own. Just so you know! So HA! ...except like 2 days ago. I woke up about 10 mins late, but tis all good.

I can't speak Spanish fluently yet, but considering I got here only about 8 days ago I´m amazed at how much I know and understand already. All of our teachers are natives and generally know only a little English, so you really have to focus and escuchar (to listen) entiendar (to understand). Every day is packed with learning. We wake up at 6:30 and spend the day going to class either for personal study, language study, companion study, or to the labs for more language study with an interactive computer program(which I love). We have an hour and a half break for gym time each day. In the evening we teach an "investigator" for practice in Spanish, which is so hard! Then we have about an hour and a half to get ready for bed and write letters, journals, etc. 

We get 3 meals a day that are legit Mexican food, & always so good! Although their desserts usually are a little bland and have kind of a strange texture. On Sunday, we had tamales, which made me sooo so happy! It was muy delicioso! 

OK! Now I really have to go! Keep on choosing the right! (Haz lo justo!) I will write more on Thursday next week! <3