Monday, October 28, 2013

The Last Day

Wow. Today is my very last P-Day. That's supes weird. Our apartment is covered in my things. Packing is the worst...especially when you have to keep it under 50 pounds. This is going to be an adventure. Yikes. 

I haven't been sick my whole mission. I've been so lucky, so blessed...until this weekend. Then it hit me. I keep saying it, my body is breaking down. That's real life! It knows it's done and it's just imploding. Thank heavens we had a mini-missionary here with us so that her and my comp could get some work done while I lay comatose on my bed with rotating companions. It did give me time to work on my final talk in our ward yesterday. A 15 min talk. In Spanish. Holy cow was that hard! But I did it. I was so worried that I was going to have a coughing fit at any moment and then pass out up there from lack of oxygen. That sure would have been an epic farewell but my companion said she prayed for me and it worked because I didn't cough once! There sure were a lot of eyes on me and they didn't seem to be confused eyes so I think I mostly made sense. Phew. I made a joke about me loving chocolate and then that is all I heard the rest of the day...Hey Hna Hall, how bout that chocolate. hahahaha. Oh man. Well, it's true, I do love chocolate. 

Yesterday was the most perfect day. We started it off by squeezing one more baptism in bright and early before church. That is just how we do it out here. haha. And just like we do here in San Jose Spanish program a cop showed up to check out the situation right during the service. Ah. Classic Hna Hall baptism. In my outgoing interview with President last night he said,"Thanks for all your hard work and for the theater." Well, I do what I can for the people. After the interview was the despedida (farewell) for all the departing missionaries. For the first time in a long time there were more Spanish speakers going home than English so the church was filled with Latinos. It was the best! I got up and made some jokes about getting married and over eating. They loved it. I thought it was going to be really sad and I would be in tears and snot or coughing my head off...some crazy disaster. But it was actually so much fun. My families from my previous areas came and loved me! We took photos, we laughed, we hugged. It was just awesome. I felt so loved. So blessed. We got home way past curfew but it was totes worth it. Sorry President. 

Whelp this is my last missionary post. I hope you've enjoyed it right along with me. I hope to see you all in person very soon. Thank you so much for all your support. Your love, prayers, letters have helped in more ways that I could ever express. This mission was a gift to me. I was not by any means perfect. I made a lot of really dumb mistakes. I had hard companions. I had hard days. But the time I've had here has blessed my life. I've learned so much. More than just Spanish and the fact that I can indeed eat 4 dinners and chile. I've learned to share the gospel. I've learned to look for and appreciate miracles and I've learned that our Father in Heaven loves us so much. I was lucky enough to help people into the waters of baptism, to start a new life walking in the joy of Christ but this mission has done more for me than I could have ever expected. I testify that Jesus Christ lives. I know there is a purpose and a plan for us. I know that we are meant and destined to have joy in this life and forever. All that we could ever imagine is waiting for us, we must only step up and ask for it. And it is never ever too late to do that. Come unto Him. 

Hasta ver!

Hermana Hall

Final Countdown

One week from today I will no longer have a companion. It's going to be so weird. And thus begins the final countdown. I'm already getting texts like 'enjoy your last Tuesday!' Yikes! We are living up every moment and I'm brutally pushing my greenie so she doesn't have a melt down the moment I walk out the door. Ah kids. They are terrified until you leave them and they realize they never needed you anyway. I'm excited for her to have that experience, but before she gets there I'm going to try to keep her from hyperventilating.

We had an awesome baptism on Sunday. I love baptisms where you're not worried they aren't going to show. This one was solid, plus it also included two 8 yr olds so even if our girl backed out we were still going to get someone dunked. "M" is a very petite girl, but let's just say she has a very curvy figure and I knew we were going to have a hard time finding a jumpsuit for her. We even checked out 2 other chapels but about an hour before the baptism, I knew we were in big trouble. We were on the prowl for a medium cotton jumpsuit with the elastic waste. Yes, it HAS to have an elastic waste I replied to all the Elders confused by my request to scour every chapel in a 20 mile radius. Just in the nick of time our Zone Leaders showed up with the perfect fit. Well, it was the closest fit. "M" was about in tears over how unfeminine it was making her. She thanked me a million times that I let her keep her big, bright coral and gold earrings in. "Thank you for letting me keep at least some of my glamour!" she said. But she knew what she was doing was worth it. It wasn't over. As soon as they announced it was her time to be baptized, I got a strong feeling to get up and follower her in. As soon as I entered the bathroom all I could hear was someone hugging real tight the toilet bowl. I calmly walked back out into the font area and told the Bishop that we would have to have the kids go first. Oh the poor thing. I don't know if it was nerves or morning sickness but she was having a spell. It certainly didn't stop her and right after the boys went she got down in the water and her husband baptized her. The spirit filled my heart and I could feel my eyes welling up with tears. It happens at every baptism! Rain on my face! But honestly, it's the best feeling in the world. I'm so lucky to be a part of it. 

In other news, the week was filled with me making my kid cry on a regular basis. I'm sorry! Sometimes you have to use tough love! I'm learning so much about's terrifying me. She also started driving. This is my life. I'm going through all the stages, first it was potty training and now driving! The teenage years are the worst! 

Some precious moments include a 3 yr old girl praying to "Dioscito". That's like the English equivalent of saying "baby Jesus" in a prayer. I had to hold in my giggles, but it really was so precious. She must have said it a half dozen times but she was just really asking Dioscito for the sweetest things. 

Today I have a busted blood vessel in my eyeball so I fit right in for Halloween. I'm pretty sure I'm stressed but I think that's to be expected and I've been drinking Diet Coke for breakfast. Survival. 1 week. 

After the baptism, the Bishop sat down with us for a few minutes to sign the baptismal record and give us a little pep talk. It ended up being a really good lesson on prayer. I'll be speaking in our ward this Sunday on prayer so it came at no better time. One thing he talked about was our need to teach people the different kinds of prayer. It's really easy to give general, basic prayers or group prayers. But do investigators and members know the difference between these general prayers and a real, conversation with our Heavenly Father. He really got me thinking. Our personal prayers are a chance to do just that, communicate with our Father in Heaven. A huge part of that communication means to listen. I can't even begin to count the amount of times where I just said a quick little prayer, maybe even asked something super important and then closed and hopped into bed. Where was my time to listen. The Bishop reminded me that in the communication of prayer, we talk and then we STOP, we listen, then we respond. Then He responds. It's a two way communication in every sense of the definition. I was so grateful for this reminder especially to remember that although I have grown up this way, the rest of the world has no idea what the blessing of prayer means and it's our job to share that with them. Phew. That was close, now I have 8 days to go back and reteach everyone I've ever talked to!

'Tis the final countdown...

Hna Hall

Friday, October 18, 2013

Salinas & Lettuce

I went on an exchange this week to the scariest/deadliest part of the mission. It's a small farm town that produces 80% of the nation's lettuce. Who knew? It's also full of gangs. Mainly, just lazy teenagers that don't want to work hard like their parents did so now they do dumb things in the streets. President recently opened this area up to sisters to everyone's surprise, but great things are going on down there! It was a really fun exchange and not at all like I had created in my head. It was not at all like West Side Story. 

Yesterday we went to the Monterey Aquarium and played with the jellyfish and penguins. I touched a stingray. I can't remember the last time I did that...then we spent the next 20 min trying to get a scardy cat Elder to touch it. He finally caved and was surprised that it was not at all the terrifying experience he thought it was going to be. I on the other hand thought they were really slimy and didn't care too much to feel it again. Our dinner last night was at Google. The Google buffet to be more specific. It was so cool. We have a few members that work there so we got to be special guests and eat anything we wanted! It was so exciting to eat something other than beans and rice! Also, I felt so cool being inside Google. Like maybe some of their success would drip down on me. 

We had a pretty awesome lesson this week at In-N-Out about prophets. He wanted to go to the Starbucks next door which reminded me that we needed to teach him about the word of wisdom...but I managed to point out that there was no room for us to sit and talk there. We walked over to In-N-Out and I realized I already had 2 dinners so there was no way I could eat any more but how awkward are we just sitting there and not ordering anything. No worries, our investigator ordered coffee. Dang it. We really have to teach that lesson...

I've got a week an a half left. How am I going to make the most of it? Well, we are for sure going to try to baptize everyone on the street. I'd like my despedida to occur in front of the baptismal font with a line of people in white jumpsuits out the door. Now, that's a party! 

Hna Hall

Saturday, October 12, 2013

System Shut Down

I'm pretty sure my body is fully aware that my mission is coming to an end because it has already started to shut down. I have to go through a morning process of dumping my body out of bed and then slowing rolling onto my knees, hands and roll my head back. It's terrible. I can hear my bones popping as I walk and I'm pretty sure my back is so tight you could bounce rubber balls off it for hours. I'm trying to trick my head into thinking it's not going home, but I can't seem to fool my body! 

The other day we were a bit low on our weekly contacts so we decided to head to the local park. We totes lucked out this day because there was a huge Mexican reunion! It was the best! We talked to about 50 of them, left our cards and testimonies and ran out before they gave us plates heaping full of beans and rice. I did grab a piece of steak which I ate like jerky on the go. I mean, you can't pass up some good carne asada. I love the Spanish program and it loves me...well my hips at least. 

Later that evening we stopped by a young recent convert's home who doesn't have family support and has a hard time getting to church. We talked about her coming back to church and she said she's busy right now preparing for Communion. Oh great. I tried to explain why she was covered and didn't need that but I think grandma worrying about her damned soul is winning right now. Dang it. At the end she said a lovely prayer that included praying for her brother to get of jail and that her mom can stop lying and that she can avoid getting in trouble with her stupid friends. I had to hold in my giggles. It was such a sweet and honest prayer. I love little honest prayers. I should probably also be praying for me to avoid trouble. Good call, little one. 

Then we had to go to our 2nd dinner for the evening. Chicken soup. Everyone looked like they were about to die. Since I have the most 'experience' at the table, it was I that took one for the team and we sneakily passed around our bowls when they weren't looking and I managed to push down 3 huge bowls of this chicken water. Oh man. I'm surprised I didn't burst like a dam. Not only have I sort of learned Spanish...but I have also developed a ridiculous large, steel lined stomach. Thanks Mexico. 

I went on exchanges with Spain the other day. That was so much fun. I can actually tell that my Spanish is better because my headache wasn't as bad for speaking only Spanish for 30 hours. Hooray! Don't worry, I am here to assure everyone that I indeed still have a Mexican/Spanish accent. It's pretty adorable. Spain loves it and so do all the Mexican day workers. Oops. We had a few extra minutes at the end of the day so we decided to take a little drive around the amusement park here - Great America. I've wanted to see it ever since I got here but it's hidden in the middle of the city so you can never see it from the road. We found a little private road just behind the park and then creepily drove it back and forth for like 15 min watching all the people scream. It was so fun. Ah the exciting mission life. 

Yesterday I ate pancakes made from lentils. Just sayin. I bet my mom just got super interested about that and is going to ask me for the recipe. 

Oh man. I can't wait to come home and just spend time with the family and friends. I'm excited that I feel like I know how to be a missionary all the time now. I'm looking forward to that. I'm looking forward to smiling more and letting people know why it is that I am. The general authorities certainly spoke very boldly to the world this weekend. I've sure learned to be pretty bold as a missionary and I hope I can continue to do my part as a member and testator of Christ when I return. Goooo Jesus!

Hna Hall

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Sisters' Retreat

This past Thursday, we had a Sisters' Retreat for all the Sister Missionaries in the mission...which is now about 110 sisters. Just to show what that number really means when I got here there were 36. So yeah. Also, to explain what "retreat' for missionaries means I will say what is does not include...facials, pedicures or time to talk. Those things are all strictly forbidden. However, it was really fun. The last one was almost a year ago and it was a drag. I hated most of it. This year we did a bunch of different things. For starters, I got to write a skit for the sister leaders to do at the beginning. That was a hoot. Picture this: The wives of Nephi and Sam having a play date with the wives of Laman and Lemuel. It was filled with all kinds of punny Book of Mormon jokes, witty missionary jabs and a good hard look at how gossip and backbiting are never pretty in any century. I made myself laugh quite a few times and I heard some good chuckles from the audience so I think it was well received. It sure was a lot of fun.
They've been setting up pumpkin patches at several busy intersections around here. It's making me so trunky! haha. They are a big deal around here. They set up inflatable slides and games. It looks so fun I just want to go and hang out there! Maybe we can teach a lesson or two on the giant tiger slide.
We had another miracle Sunday ayer. Once again, the week got away from me and we were behind on all our goals. There was literally no visible way for us getting done what we needed to do. Not only that, but we had to help a sister move out for an emergency transfer. Oh man. After dinner I walked away from the Elders with my fist in the air shouting to my companion in the middle of the street "Here comes another test of faith, are you ready?!" One of the Elders shouted back at me, give up it Hna Hall, you don't stand a chance...just accept it. I turned around and said oh're vs me and the Lord! Deal! An hour later we had 4 new investigators. Booyah!
We got back in the car and I was joking with my companions (I have 2 right now) that I felt like Ammon running around giddy off all my missionary successes that I almost passed out. Then comes Aaron, the realist, reminding me to stop bragging, it's actually the Lord's success. Well, indeed I do know that, Aaron. There was only one way this happened and it was for sure not because of me and my terrible Spanish. Then we just stared at each other for like 5 minutes amazed at how things timed up just perfectly yesterday so we could find these people. We were late to everything yesterday but because of that we got to a street just in time to help a family unload their car who then invited us in so we could bear our testimonies and share what we are here to do. A FAMILY, whom you can just feel is ready to hear the gospel. It's remarkable how we are continually placed in the right path, at the right moment, for a grand reason.
Nothing was adding up to anything that made sense yesterday. We were losing time faster than a sinking ship and our goals were so far out of our range. And then again came the trial of our faith and the Lord made up the difference. The impossible turned possible. It will always and forever be true. I'm so grateful for this lesson on faith I'm learning right here at the end of my mission. I have a feeling I'm going to need a lot of faith when I get home...jobless, car less and homeless. Hmmm...oh my.
Hna Hall

Monday, September 23, 2013

Mama Hall

This week was usual. Transfers were crazy - there were so many last minute changes and a lot of drama. There were plenty of confused, angry and some overjoyed missionaries. I can't believe it will be me up there at the front next transfer meeting, separated from my companion forever! We got two new roommates on Tuesday...from the Tongan program! So now we speak English, Spanish and Tongan in our apartment. It's pretty tight and cozy in there now, but we're making it work. It sure is nice to have other sisters in the zone. Actually, we got 6 more sisters in the zone! I think the President got tired of me complaining about the lack of estrogen in our zone meetings. But it was really draining.
I can't remember if I mentioned this before but for some reason missionaries have been calling me Mama Hall a lot lately. I'm sure it's meant in flattery, but it makes me feel so old! I guess I am pretty old to these kids. The other day they were saying whatever you think, Mama Hall knows best! I laughed as we walked out the door and then my sweet, young companion silently tugged on my sleeve and as I looked over to her she timidly whispered, "Can I go to the bathroom?" Oh...sure, sweetpea, come on let's go take you to the potty. Well, now I actually think I might be a mom. Seriously, where did the sleeve tugging come from though? That is not a one time occurrence. Oh heavens.
Some fun quotes from my presh companion this week include:
"I didn't know Samuel the Lamanite was a Lamanite!"
"You don't have to shampoo twice every day?"

In other random missionary news. I was doing an exchange in my last area the other day and we went to do service at a city park near the airport. It's basically the backyard to the airport...a city mandated park because too many planes crash land there. Oops. The missionaries that serve there have created a game, plane jumping. As the plane shadow comes roaring in across the park...they JUMP! Then there is a lot of laughter. I'm not sure I really got it, but they really loved it. So I tried it once. It was kind of a thrill! Oh the things we come up with to make the mission exciting when you don't have television. Speaking of television...I hope everyone is prepared to re-watch all the shows and movies you've seen in the past year and a half that will be like Christmas morning to me! Woohoo!
It was quite rainy Saturday and although I love the rain and I'm pretty sure California needed it, we were down lessons, contacts, investigators and pretty much all of our goals for the week. I was counting on Saturday being our big day...and then the rain killed it. I stared out the window for a few minutes feeling hopeless, defeated and so tired. We stayed inside to plan for our week until it calmed a bit. Before we left the house we said a pleading, well it was really just pure begging, prayer for help. We had so much to get done and only a day and a half in the week left to do it, we needed some serious help. We headed off, me still with a doubting heart, but it wasn't even 4 hours later that we had 4 new investigators, several lessons, a hundred contacts and full bellies. I couldn't believe it. Actually, I haven't believed a lot that has happened the past few weeks. I'm sad it took me until the last bit of my mission to figure out this little deal about sheer desperation and faith. I really am not capable of doing this work alone. The only way it gets done and the best way it gets done is with the Lord. It's not until we realize that we let ourselves be completely in His hands that things happen...the way they should. I thought back to the moment I growled at the rain through my window...when the outcome was bleak with no ray of hope. That's not what the Lord knew. He knew better and the moment we turned that over to Him, the moment we founds success. How grateful I am to my mission for these simple and life changing lessons that it has so brilliantly shined before my eyes. Now, the hard part, making sure I don't forget them. No wonder we have to hear the same stories over and over again. Idiots.
Hna Hall


While contacting the other day we ran into a family that was unloading their car. We offered our help expecting them to say no thanks like everyone else...but they took us up on it! We were so shocked and excited that we ran over there and began unloading huge boxes of alcohol. My sweet innocent companion actually had to ask me what it was. Presh. But then they invited us to stay and visit for awhile! Woohoo! They are from Fiji so I told them that I really like Fiji water and the bottles are so cool, but I had to know if it really is from there. They told me that indeed the water does come from the Fijian mountains and is the best in the world. You are all welcome. I ask the hard questions. It was the funniest visit. They were so warm and kind, just like Latinos. I asked them about their Gods. They asked about ours and then we prayed one God. They invited us to their alcohol party but also said we could come back and talk about God again. That we will for sure do.
Later we gathered all the neighborhood kids around to teach them about the Holy Ghost. I love teaching kids...they get things about God so quickly. It was an awesome I told them to run home right now and tell their parents about the beautiful angels they met in the street that want them to live with God again. We'll see what that brings us...
We've had a ton of success recently just walking the streets. We have to get in there...stalk people right in front of their faces. I'm so glad we have a car, but to find the people we have to use our feet. On Saturday we walked a Latino neighborhood for a little over an hour and picked up 4 new investigators. It was a miracle! I love miracles. They are such a high. They always come at a really good time.
Saturday night our ward had a "Cultural Activity". I've learned in Spanish wards this is code for tons of food and dancing. It was so much fun. There are some Hawaiian Latinos in our ward so they did some hula. That was beautiful. Then some families danced some traditional Mexican dances. I want one of those dresses. I also ate so much that my companion had to wheel me out in the trash can. Oops.
Today is the start of my last transfer. Six weeks left. I simply cannot believe it. This time is going to fly by. I hope you are all ready to hear me tell all my missionary stories over and over again until you pass out. It's gonna be great!
Hermana Hall