Thursday, August 29, 2013

Riley #31 - Lomita, CA - Haircut photo, Apartment, People moving in

                                             August 20, 2013

Hi Everyone,

    Thanks for the letters. It's nice getting to see Michele's blog. 

     The photos I am sending are mostly old ones of Elder Hsiao that I don't think I have sent before. I didn't really take any photos this week. 

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      The one of me I did send was taken in the parking lot of the library where I am emailing. You can notice I got a new haircut.


     The ones of Elder Hsiao also show the apartment where we lived when we were companions. It was pretty nice, larger than the one we have now. Elder Hsiao is going home tomorrow, so these will probably be the last I send of him. 

      Transfers were last night. Elder Bergeson and I didn't change at all. We are both pretty happy with that as there is a lot going on in the Branch and we want to be a part of it. 

     The one change we did have was the creation of a new zone. The new zone is called the International Zone and, as we understand it, contains the language programs with the exception of Spanish of course. That should mean Korean, Chinese, and Tongan. Also, probably, ASL and maybe Samoan. I am not sure if there is a defined Samoan program right now. 

      We don't know who our district leader is yet, but the zone leader should be Elder Kuo. As far as we know, he is the only zone leader, which would be weird as there is always two. The new zone should help us coordinate better for English class and finding techniques. 

     As the Chinese program grows, we also could have a Chinese district which would be neat as we could then hold our meetings in Chinese. The new Chinese missionary should come tomorrow. From what we have heard, the next one will probably come during the transfer. I think both of them should be fluent in Chinese. 

     A lot of things have been happening here and we have been able to find Chinese people who are interested in being taught. There seems to be a lot of Chinese people moving in around the Branch. It really feels like there has been a big change we have seen in the past month in regards to our work. It is easy to see the God's hand in the work we have been doing as he guides us and those we teach. We have made a lot trips to the Visitor Center lately. Every time we are there, Chinese people will unexpectedly come in and we will be able to talk to them.

              Elder Bowman


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Mollie #42 - La Marina - Security, Organizing, Studying The Word of Wisdom

                                                  August 12
Hey All,

Thanks for all the letters this week and last week. Pictures  are great! I am close to Concepcion, so we go every P day and downloading is really fast. I really loved the pig wrestling story. How funny!

Anyways things are crazy as always.

Don´t worry too much about the security- I think my companion scared me more than anything as long as we stay out of certain sectors at night and in the morning we should be good. 

Still, I am afraid to pull out or carry my camera around - we already get more than enough attention being to you won´t be getting very many pictures. There are just too many people with hoods on that lurk around doing nothing on the street.

Where to start. I am getting to know the sector which means cleaning organizing and studying. 

Step 1  - Cleaning
When I first got to the house there was lot of green and gray things growing on the walls but I have eliminated most of them with vinegar, water, and after that bleach. 

There is a giant fear here of not having water after an earthquake. Our tiny house had at least 60 gallons of water stored in different size soda and juice bottles. People had been storing them for years, and when I emptied them there were green and white things growing in these bottles. Gross right?! The sinks don´t drain well. I have tried vinegar and baking soda, but they still wouldn´t drain. I'm going to try bleach next. Cleaning has been the first step.

Step 2 - Light
 When I came to the house we did not have light in our room. We were doing numbers and plans in the dark with a flashlight and my companion said they had been doing so for more than two weeks. The socket has been changed since, and now we have light. I hadn´t realized how much I under appreciate this blessing. Try going without light for a week and you will know what I mean

Step 3 - Organizing
Because there was no light, a lot of the paperwork got behind so we have been organizing and updating. We have also been organizing our companionship getting to know one another and helping each other grow. We take note of which things we can do better and how we can work together to maximize our talents and make up for our weakness.

Step 4 - Studying
We think biggest weakness as a companionship is Spanish. We get along but well  - there is a strong need to understand and communicate well. So we have been studying like crazy. The biggest challenge here when it comes to teaching is naturally the Word of Wisdom. Almost everyone drinks and smokes, so we have spent extra time studying it.

It rains here  - I mean rains like Florida but cold. I am going to have to buy another umbrella. We get soaked leaving butt marks of water in the chairs of the members' houses through the towels.

We did a pancake breakfast with the missionary counsel of the ward I made pancakes, and we all got to know each other a little more. i think it really helped us have greater confidence with some of the members of the ward.

I have this recipe for you it is from a member a natural remedy for a sore throught or something like that. it is kind of strange but I thought you might like it.

Spiritual Thought - Just don't let rainy days get you down, because after four consecutive days of rain... Today is a lovely day of sun.

Lots of Love,
         Hermana Bowman

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Saturday, August 17, 2013

Mollie #41 - San Pedro, Chile - She makes up songs, Marijuana, and The Athenians

                                                        August 5

Good bye to my Angol Zone!
Hey all.

My new sector is called The Marina. It is in the city of San Pedro which is just south of Concepcion. It is actually warmer here in the day but colder at night. Go figure. 

My new companion is Hermana Van De Merwe, who is 20 years old. She is from Draper, Utah, and was studying public communication and art history before her mission. She makes up songs and sings in the street, the shower, while cooking, etc.. needlessly to say, I love her.

She has been in Chile for 3 months, making me the senior companion. It ends up that I can speak Spanish a lot better than I thought I could, because we ended up teaching alright here.

Our sector is one of the most ghetto sectors in the mission. Just last week, sisters from the ward next to ours were robbed. 

The members and people we have contacted in the street have banned us from going into certain sectors (pretty much our whole sector) at different times of night. 

There is a big problem with drugs and alcohol here. It is terrible and really hard on the youth. The other day I had a conversation with one of the youth that was accompanying us on visits about whether it is bad to try out marijuana. Just to try it you know. 

I think I explained it in the way that you explained it to me. 

Me: Is dirt good for you.
Youth: No
Me: Why not?
Youth: It can make you sick
Me: Exactly, you know it isn´t good for you
Youth: Is marijuana good for you, a good thing?
Me: No
Youth: Why not?
Me: It's obvious.
Youth: They say it's healthy, like medicine.
Me: So if everyone was eating dirt -which you know is bad for you- you would it it too, right?
Youth: No.
Me: Exactly and it is the same with marijuana. You know it is bad for you, so don't take it. You don´t need to try it to know its bad for you. You don´t need to eat dirt, just because everyone else is. 
Youth: Yeah, I know but my brother he´s having trouble with it with his friends. He doesn´t have good friends. And he´s just not as mature as me (younger brother by 2 yrs)
Me: Alright, what night is good to have a Family Home Evening with you and your brother and the bishop?  ( The dad drinks a lot and they don´t have a mom)...

This was like my second day here. I didn´t even know the kid. 

Needlessly to say, things are as interesting as always. 

There is lots more I could tell you guys-.

      Life here is always interesting. But I don't want us to be like the Athenians -  if you don't know what I mean look at Acts 17:21.

I was studying in the New Testament this week.

That will be my spiritual thought  - Do! - Don´t just talk and listen.

Love you lots,
      Hermana Bowman

PS. Thanks for the letters

Another photo of my Angol Zone. I will miss them!


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Riley #30 - Lomita, CA - Digital Recorder, New people, Good/Bad Talks

                                                 August 12, 2013
Dear Family,

     Thanks for the emails. Michele's blog post was excellent, and I loved seeing the photos from Mollie. A 17 year old ward mission leader? Wow. Sounds like an eventful week.

     The recorder has already proven useful a few times. Right now, the main use it has seen is in appointments with other people. Oftentimes there is a lot said that I don't understand, so recording and then reviewing the conversation helps me isolate the words and phrases I don't know.

     The bridge in the picture is over by Long Beach. I took it up in Palos Verdes  when we were visiting a few places. Actually, the local missionaries helped out with a race which takes place on the bridge on Labor Day weekend. It is a fairly huge event as people actually get to run on the bridge from what I've heard.

   Yesterday was really busy. We had a lot of nonmembers at church. We had ten total and actually had more nonmembers than members when church started, because most of the Branch members were late.

     It was quite exciting. Elder Bergeson and I also gave talks in  Sacrament meeting. It was in Chinese, of course, and the first Chinese talk I had given. I am not really sure how much of what I said made sense, but they all of course said I did well. And told me to speak up. I was worried about it all last week so it was good to finish it.
      I also had another talk to give in the single's ward of the stake north of ours. It was one of those touring talks that we had planned. That one did not go that well. In fact, I would rather not think about it.
      Fortunately, the day turned out great. We had dinner at the Chen's house in the evening. Their whole family was there. The Chen's are a couple who are in our Branch. They have five children, all married, two of which are in the branch as well. All five were there with their children last night so it was a crazy, but fun evening. We had a chance to talk with some of them about their missions and compare the differences.

      Transfers are coming up the week after this one and promise some changes. We found out we actually have 2 new Chinese missionaries coming in. I have given up trying to guess what is going to happen as the situation seems to change every few days. In any case, I think it is probable that I will end up moving somewhere. From the sound of it, some other changes will be taking place as President Weidman starts his second transfer here.

     There isn't too much more going on here that I want to go into right now, but just know that everything is going well. I am excited to see how things progress here.


             Elder Bowman


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Riley #29 - Lomita, CA - English Conference to Share our Program

                                                                    August 5, 2013

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     Dear Family,

       Thanks for the letters. First off, don't worry about the recorder, Miss Donna sent me one. Be sure to pass on my thanks to her.
     The genealogy conference you went to sounds interesting. Lately, I haven't really been thinking much about how I would use genealogy here, but it certainly is something that could prove to be useful. It has been a little busy lately, but maybe as we near this fireside I will have some time to give it more thought.

       A lot happened this week, more than I probably have time to talk about, but I can give you some highlights. First of all, this is the best week we have had for attendance at English class with 18 students on Tuesday. The Korean missionaries have a beginning class they have started now so not all are Chinese, but most are. Wednesday, we had a special conference about English class presented by Elder Hsiao and Elder Kuo.

       It was a fantastic conference. Elder Hsiao is simply unbelievable. I still don't know Elder Kuo too well, but Elder Hsiao speaks very highly of him and says he is the most organized person he has ever met. In any case, the conference they held was really impressive. The purpose of the conference was more or less to present Los Angeles English. They went over the benefits of teaching English, how to run an English class, and the current organization of the English class we made. President and Sister Weidman were present for the majority of it. Also, the Korean missionaries were there as well as the ASL missionaries and three companionships of Spanish missionaries. Apart from ASL, they are all planning to start an English class using the organization and material we prepared.

     Elder Hsiao is now in charge of the English class program in the mission. Before the missionaries can open their own English class (or English Unit), they need to go through a Startup checklist and run it by Elder Hsiao. These Spanish missionaries will be the start of incorporating the Spanish program into English class. Our English class is going to be officially mission sponsored and run mission wide. Back when we were first starting English class, when I was first in LA, Elder Hsiao told me that this was the eventual goal. It is hard to believe he actually pulled it off.
We also had some other successes this week, which I am out of time to tell you. Maybe next week.
              Elder Bowman


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Mollie #40 - Angol, Chile - Going Away Party, Canteras, Momita

                                                      July 29
Hola everyone,

    SO, cambios and I am changing. BOO... :(   but at the same time. I am glad to reflect back on all of the changes that have occurred in my time here.
     The ward is stronger and better able to retain members. About five families have been reactivated. We have a mission leader. The sisters in the house are working better together. We have a whiteboard and a map. We have cleaned up the phone, the menos activo list. We have members that work with the missionaries. We have regular Family Home Evenings where we can invite people. There have been a plethora of changes. In the moment, progress seems so slow. But really a lot has happened in the time I was here.

Here is a picture of me and Keila. (Click here to learn more about Keila). It's from my going away party they held for me spur of the moment last night.

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   This is my ward missionary group. This is what we started with. We have a lot more now, but these three have always been ready to help us when we needed them for arranging activities or coming to lessons. This is Keila, Victor, and Diego. Diego is now our ward mission leader. He is 17 and a fantastic leader.

     They went with us to the canteras, which are small lakes. I've been wanting to go since I came here, so I am really glad I got to squish it in. The canteras were mines, but then one day they struck water and filled up. Supposedly, it filled really fast and all of the machines are still down there under the water, which is evidently really deep.

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     These are some of the families I helped reactivate and Sergio was baptized. This is from the party they threw for me.

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Meet Momita, also known as Hermana Pati. She is fantastic - just a beautiful and wonderful person. She has taught me a lot about discerning needs of others and then teaching them how to act to fill those needs. Hard to explain, but she is wonderful at discerning the needs of others and then straight out questioning them. She uses questions beautifully.

Things like asking sisters in the ward...
Momita:  How are you? 
Hermana: Good.
Momita: (Looks in Hermana's eyes) No you are not. What is wrong? 
Hermana: Nothing. 
Momita: (Long hug) You are important to me. How can I help you?

   She sees things, and then she finds ways to invite people to act - to change in order to feel better. She is one of my favorite people here, and I WILL MISS learning from her  - a lot!

         Love you all lots,

               Thanks for the letters,

           Hermana Bowman


Monday, August 5, 2013

Riley # 28 - Lomita, CA - Elder Bergeson, Tsaio vs, Hsaio, A Group

                                                 July 29

Dear Family,
     I ended up not buying the voice recorder because they looked expensive, and I wasn't sure which one would work well. Could you order one online? It needs to be small enough that I could put it in a pocket and it would be nice if it could use a memory card I could save recordings to. Other than that I leave it in your hands.

    The Chinese Family History chart sounds fine. We are still preparing for our Family History Fireside in September. We want it to be big so we are creating flyers to hand out at the places we normally advertise English class at.

    I think I have told you this before, but I am now companions with Elder Bergeson. In fact, I have been for the last nine weeks. We are living in Lomita, which is just south of Torrance. It is an apartment owned by a family in the branch. It is nice albeit a little small. Elder Casey and Hsiao were still living in the old apartment up until this week.

Elder Bergeson
  There have been a lot of changes this past week. Before I go into that, Elder Hsiao's name is with an "H" and not a "T". In the Taiwan romanization, "Ts" would be "ts" as in cats, whereas "Hs" would be an "sh" sound. Also, it is "iao" pronounced "ee-OW"

    Alright, now for the changes. A week from yesterday, Elder Hsiao and Casey met with the Bishops and ward mission leaders in a number of wards up north to discuss creating a Chinese group up around USC and UCLA. A group is a church unit smaller than a branch and, in many cases, a precursor to a branch. As a result of this meeting, Elder Casey and Elder Hsiao moved up North and we split our areas. Therefore, only Elder Bergeson and I will be covering the Branch and the other Chinese companionship will cover the Northern part of the mission.

      President Weidman also moved another missionary into the Chinese program. His name is Elder Kuo, and he is of Chinese descent, but doesn't speak it fluently. He was a Spanish Elder before and only has two transfers left in the mission. His Chinese is probably at least as good as mine, which is to say, overall lacking.

    Elder Casey is going to be with Elder Kuo's companion for much of the rest of the transfer. He is going to be in an city called Watts, which has a reputation as the most dangerous area in the mission. His first night there, they had a drug bust across the street from his apartment. Still, I am sure he will be fine. The areas that are too dangerous are red zones, in other words areas missionaries aren't allowed to enter. Elder Casey's area has three, and he is smart enough to know to stay away from them.

Tell Michele I loved the picture of Madeleine and the Cheetos...and those animal heads are creepy.

            Elder Bowman


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Mollie #39 - Angol, Chile - Ward Work, Creepy Cooking, Wax Strong

                                                                     July 22
Dear Family,

   I only have 45 minutes now to communicate. It leaves me about 15 minutes to write to you all every week. This week I have little time for uploading photos.

     Anyway, life here is good. We had twelve menos activos at the church the other day and three investigators. This is good!

     Sometimes, I really wish that our Alpine ward had missionaries. 

     Missionaries play a bizillion roles in the wards here. We fill callings, matchmake friendships, teach how to fill callings, teach leadership skills, help with activities with the youth, help troubled youth, teach planning to the leaders, help prepare the youth for missions, let people know about illnesses and deaths, and help with the deaths. The fact of the matter is we are working at establishing the wards here, and it is a lot of work.

      Communication is everything...which is why sometimes I wish I could speak Spanish better. I often feel limited in my ability to communicate and express. Still, I know I am getting better everyday. I think I just need to study Spanish every day no matter what - sí o sí. Still, if you could find me some blank spiral bound flash cards it would help. They don´t sell them here, and I like to walk and study.

     Other things to send me.  Dark Chocolate chips. The chocolate here...they tastes like wax. The first ingredient is fat, the second sugar, and the third cocoa powder. I have to melt it down and add cocoa powder and let it harden to cook with it. 

    Unusual thing that happened...Well, this morning we had to cook at the church for an activity that we had this afternoon. But well, evidently someone died last night. So, we were at the church alone cooking with a nearby casket for company. A bit creepy.

In this picture. Hermana Chavez stole the camera.  I am cooking for the bishop. His father died so we collected notes from the ward and baked him some delicious no bake cookies.

Spiritual thought

     I have been reading in Jesus the Christ. Sometimes I feel that I will never finish it, I still have about 600 pages more, but it is helping me better understand the strength and ability of Christ.

   I am in the part about temptations. Christ grew grace by grace. He waxed strong. He was not born with the understanding and remembrance of his pre-earth life or calling. He was not completely clueless though. He had a strong understanding of what he did know and must have had the spirit with him, as he did teach the rabbis and scholars at twelve.

     The first time he is acknowledged by God to man shows how very important he is to God's plan. This is at his baptism. "This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased..."

 After his baptism, I think he started to realize how important his calling was, how strong he needed to be. He went into the desert near the River Jordan and fasted for forty days - to consecrate himself - to understand his calling- to give himself time to think.
Then, the devil comes and tempts him.

IF you are the son of God make this stone into bread. Your Father wouldn't want you to be hungry,

IF you are the son of God cast yourself off of this temple. After all, the scriptures say angels will carry you.  

    This is the largest temptation. The temptation to doubt who he was. To doubt the answer that he received at his baptism.

     I think this is one of the largest temptation for us as well - to doubt our calling and abilities. To doubt the answers, miracles, and callings that we have seen and received in our life. To doubt what Heavenly Father knows and wants us to be. Even if we don't understand things with an eternal perspective, we can strive, as Christ did, to put busyness, doubt and temptation aside, and really focus on what we should be doing and who we can become.

   Love you all lots,

        Hermana Bowman

P.S. Loved the pics.  Can you send a family pic the one from pre-mission? I don't have one.