Sunday, May 26, 2013

Riley #19 - Los Angeles, CA - Half-way House, English for a week, Elder Quentin Cook

                                         May 20

Hey, Everyone!

    All right, this week was a little crazy! To start it, Elder Casey and I went on splits with Elder DiPaolo, our Zone Leader, who is in an English Area. While I love learning Chinese, it is nice to be able to use English now and then.

    While with him, we stopped by a "half-way house." Everyone there was dealing with a problem of some kind, but all were also willing to listen. Most probably they were just glad to have someone to talk to, but there were some that seemed like they were genuinely interested in the church. They all knew who we were and were happy to talk to us. 

    The biggest event that happened this week was that I was transferred. Friday afternoon. The Mission President called us and told me that I was going to be transferred to be with in an English Area for the rest of the transfer, for about a week. I needed to be packed up and ready to go the next morning! We had a devotional that morning with the entire mission, so I would be able to switch companions then. 

     The devotional was with Elder Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve. He spoke on how the Lord will help us find those who are prepared to hear and open the hearts of those we meet. He also spoke about how important it is to work with the ward in missionary work. The ward plays an important part in finding those who are interested in hearing and in welcoming those we are already teaching. 

Elder Quentin Cook and his wife, Mary, with President and Sister Baker
     After the devotional, I went with my new companion Elder Moore. He is a Spanish Elder assigned to an English area and also is a Zone Leader. His companion, Elder Black, was made the new AP (Assistant to the President), so he was transferred early to make the transition when one of the current AP goes home at transfers.   
      Transfers are just in a week or so, and I don't expect to be with Elder Moore very long. I expect that I will be back in a Chinese area after transfers, because there will only be four Chinese missionaries left, including me. In other words, two possible companionships. 

       It is a really different experience being in an English area. Compared to the Chinese Branch, the ward is enormous. It is weird to go from knowing everyone at church to not knowing anyone. 

    Considering the size of the ward, I probably wouldn't know everyone even after attending church every week for a month. Still, we now have people feeding us every night and plenty of work to do. In the Chinese area, we had to fill our time with activites to find new people. Here, we could keep busy just by following referrals, visiting less-actives, and meeting with people who have met with the missionaries before. There is always some work that needs to be done. 

     I attached some English class files. The last outline is outdated. It was the outline we were planning to use for the class before we collaborated with the Taizhong mission.  Our current class, for a large part, adopted the organization of the Taizhong English class. The learning is serious and the documents are our own, so we came up with a logo for our program materials and posters.
Different logos we drafted. We picked the first one on the second row..
     This week or so will be a good experience. Very different! I'm looking forward to the new experiences I'll have.
                   Elder Bowman


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Mollie #29 - Angol, Chile - Running like a Hamster, Leaving my Investigators, A Missing Shoe

                                                                                          May 13
Hey all,

Since you're worrying about my hair...
     Mother, since you were worried about my hair, and how I'm doing it now that it's rainy, I thought I'd share photos to clarify what I said through Skype. I don't need a straightener, because I braid my hair, like I did for Mother's Day. Then the next day, I take it out, and it's automatically curly. I have to manage it some, but overall it looks okay, so you don't need to send me one.

Messy hair from taking out braids

     This week was crazy! I don´t even know where to begin. The week started out with cambios, and I'm not training. Phewww... Hermana Nelson is my new companion, and she is really great! She has a system we use concerning how to progress and effectively use each day.
     Sometimes I get overwhelmed thinking about the lives of the people here, and it is hard to see the step-by-step process of achievement and progress. There is a lot that I can learn from her, and we get along well!

  I think I told you on the phone that she runs marathons. Well, we run together, sort of. I run really slow, and she runs really fast. It is like when Jake and I go running. She runs back and forth on the block 3 or 4 times, and I run it once in a straight line. But Hey! I am running and that counts for something, but improvement is slow. We weren´t all made to be speedy quick chinchillas! Some of us are hamsters. Hamsters with asthma x)

    The hijas and I get to do splits every week, because our senior companions are hermanas de capacitación (in training). This week I introduced them to my investigators more or less. 

     We had to split the sector this week. It was traumatizing a bit. Their was a strong need to split the sector. To walk from one side to the other is about 40 minutes, and we were losing too much time walking back and forth.

     Also, having two companionships visit the same people causes problems when you visit on the same day.

     Anyway, I had to give up a lot of my investigators to the other sisters, which hurt a bit. My investigators have needs that only I know, and I can´t explain everything to them, because it was told in confidence. I am hoping they will be able to earn their trust. They are good sisters, but it will be hard not to see these people every other day.
I love the kittens here. They are everywhere. We try to keep the dogs away from them. They are always there to play or cuddle with.
    So, the chapel or church was flooded the other day. I told you all a bit about this on Skype. Anyway, the other sisters had a baptism and left the water on too long...needless to say, the entire chapel was more or less swamped.
     We had a crew of missionaries sweeping and pushing the water out of the tiled halls and into the bathroom which has a drain. My companion and I took off our shoes, because we didn´t want to ruin them. We left them in the Primary (children's) room.
     We then helped with the water situation. When we returned one of my companions shoes was missing. She had to sit through a baptism, and sing a musical number with me barefoot at the church. We spent an hour scrutinizing every nick and cranny of the church and found the plain back shoe inside of one of those long handled, black dustpans that stand on their own in the corner of the church. The culprit was never found.

     This Sunday I did a musical number with the youth for Mother's Day. It was a lot of fun!!! I got almost all of the youth to participate! The bishop told was a most likely, impossible feat. The youth here are fantastic! A lot of them go to church on their own without any parent or support. I am always looking for ways to support and help them. 

     Spiritual thought- I have been trying to think of a way to help a lot of the struggling marriages here. Last night when I prayed, I felt that we needed to teach companionship inventory, which is in our Preach My Gospel Manual:
Click to open Preach My Gospel Manual... p. 150
Conduct companionship inventory.  Share with your companion appropriate goals, and ask for his or her help to accomplish them. Discuss the strength of your relationship with your companion. Discuss any challenges that may be keeping your companionship from working in unity or from being obedient. Resolve conflicts. Share with your companion what you think his or her strengths are.   Ask for suggestions on how you can improve. If needed, set goals that will improve your relationship. Conclude with prayer.

 This is the church's guide for us. You never know who you are going to be roped with as a companion, but you have to get along or you can not teach with the Spirit of God. This is an open session to discuss progress in a non-offensive manner. It is not a-  "Well you should do this"- sort of manner. I personally promise it works.

    My companion and I start out with a prayer, and after we make a list of three strengths we have together. Then we list three things to improve together. Then we make goals. (I first did this -kind of- in the MTC. I wrote about it. Remember?)

    Then I do three things I need/want to improve personally. She does the same. Afterward, we talk about personal goals or challenges. 

This is a great way to make yourself heard, and to progress...together!

                   Love you all lots,

                     Hermana Bowman


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Riley #17 (Quick note) and #18 - Torrance, CA - PDay at the Beach!, Hollywood Sign Hike, English Class

                                                 May 6

   I am at a Staples right now typing this on one of their display computers, so I don't know how long I have. We had to go to the mission office this morning and the power was out there, so we don't really have a computer to use. We have a lesson up in UCLA this evening, so we weren't planning on returning to Torrance until late.

   We had Zone Conference this week. The theme was "C" - Commitment, Change (we're getting a new Mission President), Consecration, Correct Choices, etc.

This is our zone - The Peninsula Zone (Click to Enlarge)
   English class is going well. We got some of the material they use in the Taiwan, Taizhong mission for their English class, which has been a great help in deciding how we are going to organize ours. We are hoping to finish all the preparation for it this transfer, so we can start another class in Culver City by next transfer. Elder Casey did some graphic design before his mission, so he is going to help us in designing material for the class. 

    As part of service this week, we helped out at Chinese school. They were having a festival this week, so there were lots of Chinese people and Chinese food. We tasted a sausage that tasted sweet and some stinky tofu. The sausage was great, the stinky tofu all right. We were told it is an acquired taste. 

                                                                                        Sorry so short!
                                                                                         Elder Bowman
                                                                    May 13
Hi Everyone!
  I have only a little time to write because we have dinner soon. Fortunately, I got to talk to you yesterday, so you should already know what we have been doing.

   Today was Beach P-day. Once a year, we are allowed to go to the beach. We played volleyball at the top of beach. It was still nice to see the ocean and hang out there with everyone.
This is the missionaries in our zone - The Peninsula Zone   (Click to Enlarge)

Elder Bowman with his companions - Elder Tsaio and Elder Casey

 Last Monday was really hectic, which is why the letter was short. We had planned to go up to Santa Monica all day and work on building our English class textbook. However, the power was off at the mission office so our plans to work all day were ruined and we were left with nothing to do. We had no choice but to spend Preparation day like most missionaries do, that is doing something fun. So we hiked up to the Hollywood sign which was pretty neat. It really was nice to get away from the city for awhile and enjoy the fresher air.

   We have been working on building up our English class all week. It really is probably our best way to find people who are interested in the church. I am ending up doing a lot more typing than I ever thought I would do on my mission. We have been making an electronic copy of all our material, with the Mission President's approval of course, so that we can print a teacher manual for each English class location. We are nearing the end and have started wondering what else we can work on after we have English class running smoothly. It is a great resource, but there is still more we can do.

I really loved talking to everyone. It was pretty funny, too, especially when I told Michele about eating the goose with the head still on it.


Elder Bowman


Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mollie #28 - Angol, Chile - No Transfer, Saying Goodbye, The Importance of Faith

                                                                                   May 6

Hi Everyone!

   Cambios. I will be staying here, and I don´t have to train. phew.... This is all good, since I love the Angol people and feel like there is work here I still want to do. I have set some goals for myself that I haven't finished, so this is exciting for me.

Not sure how these cambios go exactly - being my first one - but I am hoping things will settle quickly. I think it will help me with my Spanish a lot faster. It is hard not to be understood or understand sometimes. Patience and faith, of course, no mas ;)

    Hermana Nelson will be my new trainer. She is a Grienga, but her Spanish is almost, if not, perfect because she lived several years in El Salvador. Her father was a mission president there. She is one of the two sisters that represent all of the sister missionaries here for conferences and such. So that is all good.

   This week has been crazy saying goodbye to all the people leaving sectors, conferences, etc... so many people that I have worked with and bonded with, making some incredible friendships.

All of the missionaries in our zone
    Your advice about possibly feeding the members as an activity is something I've thought about, but almost everyone works. It is just that time. Food is nice, but the members have to walk to the church and many just don´t have the energy to do so even for food. IF they don´t walk it is a taxi and that costs money, and they could be working. I think I just need to plan a specific activity and go all out with invitations, music, and everything.

Here is a Spiritual Thought I've been thinking about:
    Life is a search for truth, and faith is necessary for us to actually move in our search - spiritually AND physically.

On my mission, I have grown, because I have chosen to. Spiritually, I make choices to pray, read my scriptures, teach what I know, and to serve others. On cold mornings, my companion helps me to always get up on time, physically beginning my day with faith that I will go to the people who I can help. In return my testimony grows, which strengthens my love for them and my Heavenly Father each day. There is strength that comes from having this truth and faith in my life each day. There is happiness, too.

Love this family! So fun to spend time with all of them!
   As I get to know the people better here, I am more aware of their personal struggles and problems that have fallen into their life, such as the sick baby due to a hospital error. I can't explain why problems occur, but I can explain that no one is alone, that their prayers are listened to, and their faith will help strengthen them and pull them through. 

The truth that Heavenly Father and his son, Jesus Christ, both exist and are there for every single one of us, should be shared. It something that is eternal, so they will always be there - to talk to, to lean on, to ask for help, to feel support from.

One of the families we teach
     Our everyday relationships are so important, because they help define our life. If this is the thing most precious to us, then we should express it. One thing that my companion taught me is this ~ When something or someone is important to you, make sure they can see it in your actions, not just by words or by assuming "they just know."

     Of course, this goes for our Heavenly Father, too. I pray to Him, serve Him, and try to be as Christ teaches us to be as my expression that He is important to me. I wish others here could feel His love for them, could understand that money or hurt feelings are not what should drive our actions in life.

    I have been thinking how Faith is the basis of all of this. That to move both spiritually and physically, there must first be Faith. As my companion helps me on cold days get up on time, so I can do serve with faith, I hope I can help the people we teach to get up and exercise faith.

     I'm running out of time, but I have another request for you. I would like another Tide marker, send it in a smaller package parcel post or something.

Don't send anything over 20 bucks, or they check it, and I won't get it for months, they tell me.

I will Skype Sunday around 4 -7 o´clock here time at a member's house.  I will check tomorrow or the next day, so please send me your Skype information asap.

Lot of love,

              Hermana Bowman

PS Skype is for one hour. Can't wait to see and hear from everyone. I hope the Skype works.


Friday, May 10, 2013

Riley #16 - Torrance, CA - Car Switch, Fireside Success, Teaching with Elder Casey

Hi Everyone,
     I am going to be quick. Today is really busy, because our car was taken in for repairs. We are going to have to switch to another one.
    We also had to spend a lot of time doing English class work. This week was great! We had someone from English class come to our Fireside we set up.

El Camino Community College is here in Torrance.
   We also set up advertising for English class at a local community college. We are planning to visit another one this week.

      Elder Casey and I practiced teaching a lesson by ourselves this week. We have a long way to go. It was good to see that we could do it though, even if it wasn't that great.
     I will write to you about when I will call for Mother's Day next week. It will probably be around 7 or 8 in the evening.
              Elder Bowman


Saturday, May 4, 2013

Mollie #27 - Angol, Chile - Happy Birthday, Daddy!, Spiritual thought on Love at Home

Happy Birthday, Daddy-note!
(Click to Enlarge)
                                                                          April 29
Hi Everyone!

    Happy Birthday Daddy-note! Since your birthday is today, I've been thinking about what to give you. Since it can really only be through the internet, I am sending you photos that remind me of you in one way or another.

Lion with blood in it´s mouth...(This might be more connected to Riley, as Scar is his favorite Lion.)

Tazz - of course, he reminds me of you.

Just so you know I remember you, 

here are some imitations of you:

Imitation of you on a good day

And one with my eye open - creepy- aka what you look like in your sleep :)
(Her father sleeps with one eye open due to a scar left from a childhood car accident.)
(Click to Enlarge)
     I am officially two peace signs - 22 - which is cool. You are just old. But hey maybe for you, it is like Elder Packers poem from Conference:

"...If I could now turn back the years,
If that were mine to choose,
I would not barter age for youth,
I’d have too much to lose.
I am quite content to move ahead,
To yield my youth, however grand.
The thing I’d lose if I went back
Is what I understand."

    So this past week we visited many people. Through the visits, we learned all sorts of terrible drama that is going on in the families of the ward. I am not sure exactly what to do for each family, but apparently some of the problems are pretty normal here.

     We have cambios coming up, and I think I am going to be a trainer. We find out on the 5th. I am so not ready to be a trainer ~ but hey that is life. 

     I actually did a practice being a trainer the other day. I took the newbies, and well...we had fun together! We visited people, contacts, etc... I taught the right hand of "Let the Holy Spirit Guide" on the piano to three of the youth, and we cooked. 

     It was all right with the newbies but not the same. I don´t have the ability to explain things simply and clearly to people yet. I have a lot to learn, and what I can do needs to be improved upon.

     I have received no packages yet, but I got Bowman's letter. Thank you! I love the sparkles! :)

       For a Spiritual Thought, I've been thinking about (and sharing with those we teach) what Elder Packer shared at General Conference:

  "The back windows of our home overlook a small flower garden and the woods, which border a small stream. One wall of the house borders on the garden and is thickly covered with English ivy. Most years this ivy has been the nesting place for house finches. The nests in the vines are safe from foxes and raccoons and cats that are about.

(Click to Enlarge)

"One day there was a great commotion in the ivy. Desperate cries of distress came as 8 or 10 finches from the surrounding woods came to join in this cry of alarm. I soon saw the source of the commotion. A snake had slid partway down out of the ivy and hung in front of the window, just long enough for me to pull it out.

   The middle part of the snake's body had two bulges - clear evidence convicting it of taking two fledglings from the nest. Not in the 50 years we had lived in our home had we seen anything like that. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience- or so we thought.

    A few days later there was another commotion, this time in the vines covering our dog run. We heard the same cries of alarm, the gathering of the neighborhood finches. We knew what the predator was. A grandson climbed onto the run and pulled out another snake that was still holding on tightly to the mother bird it had caught in the nest and killed.

   I said to myself, "What is going on? Is the Garden of Eden being invaded again?"

    There came into my mind the warnings spoken by the prophets. We will not always be safe from the adversary's influence, even within our own homes. We need to protect our nestlings.

We live in a very dangerous world that threatens those things that are mot spiritual. The family, the fundamental organization in time and eternity, is under attack from forces seen and unseen. The adversary is about. His objective is to cause injury. If he can weaken and destroy the family, he will have succeeded."

    This is a spiritual thought that we have been sharing with our members - all of them, less active and non-active, too. We tell them that often we feel that we are safe in our houses, and then, Wham! we are hit with something we didn't expect. The guardian around the clock, the guard dog, is the Spirit of God. Then we ask them what are ways they can invite this Spirit into their homes. The result will be love, joy, and peace within the walls of our homes and heart of our family members.

   Galatians 5: 22 
   But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith
     Every family is different. We ask them what is one thing you do that makes you feel closer to your family? I know their ideas are true - prayer, songs, scriptures, talking, cooking, games, sports, walks are some ways that we can invite the spirit of Good aka the spirit of God into our homes.

My invitation is for them to do that one thing more, so they can invite the Spirit in their homes.

 I close with Moroni 7:12-13

12 Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually.

 13 But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.

Hope you have a Happy Birthday, Daddy-note! I'll be talking to you all on Mother's Day. More information on that will come next week.

Lots of Love,

       Hermana Bowman