Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Day Out :)

First off......CONGRATULATIONS to Josie for getting called to Japan!!!! You have know idea how happy I am for her! I am screaming in the computer lab. hahahahaha

Today was pretty awesome. We went to the temple and out on a little adventure. We went to a gold museum and then to some church on a mountain. It was quite a walk. We were on top of the world.

Can you believe it? I am getting a Latin Companion tomorrow! It was so sad to say bye to the last group last night, but new ones are surely coming tonight and tomorrow. It was funny because one of the elders who can barely speak english kept telling me, "I am a baby, fat and ugly". And I was like "Who taught you that?!" Apparently he did not understand me. 

It has been really tough here. The language is tough as usual but I know that I can do it. We no longer have grammar classes or language study in the CCM. Not until we are out in the field. I am really working hard on keeping myself patient. I realized that I have so much to work so much harder than I already do. 

And also...Gabriel!!! I love the color! I am so happy to see pictures of you all. How was prom?! Tell me everything! As far as your letters, they have not gotten here yet...:( but if they do I will let you know. I look forward to getting them! 

I prayed in English outloud during our room prayer last night and it was so weird because I have not said a prayer in English for a long time...that I took long to think of what to say.

I grow to love the gospel more and more. Even if I do not know all the answers to life questions. 

The sisters here are stressed as I am. One of them actually talks in her sleep. She literally recites D&C 4 in her sleep and sometimes the baptismal invitation. Its hilarious. I am not gonna mention her name....hahahaha But she is awesome. The sisters are awesome because they keep me sane and we are all going through the same thing of course. We are all struggling but staying faithful in our calling.

I love laughing with the sisters here. I manage to make them laugh here and there. Its great. I am going to work harder this week. All my classes are ALL in SPANISH. NO ENGLISH. Its getting real...and its only the CCM.

Next Pday is next week Friday. 10 days again....It will be my last Pday here at the CCM until I leave to Bolivia! Can you believe it!!!!! Two weeks and I am out to work. Its scary but its amazing. I love it. I love it sooooo much. I love you guys so much too. I can not wait to really lose myself in the work! Please tell me how you are all doing and I am sorry if I do not respond to all your questions because I only have so little time to be on here. I love you. Les amo mucho. Be safe. Take care always.

Hermana Santeco

Alma 26:12

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Struggle is just as real as the Gospel is

Aloha my family!

How are you all doing? I was meaning to ask how Gabriel is doing with Prom and everything. How is his ASL? I am so happy to hear Jesse's great news. I pray for him often before I go to bed. I pray for all of you. I am so happy to know Jesse is receiving the sacerdocio (priesthood) and memorized the articles of faith!!!! Speaking of ASL, I have been teaching a few of the sisters some signs. I even met an elder here who does Colombian sign language. It was pretty neat. 

10 days go by so fast. Can you believe that I will be getting a Latin compañera this next wednesday?! I am freaking out because my spanish is still a struggle..I even struggle speaking english now. I can not remember how to spell investigadores in English.....My time here is going by so fast. I cannot even imagine myself in Bolivia. This week we were able to go to the temple again. I love it so much! 8 of the Elders here were able to get endowed all at the same time during our session. It was so precious.

A group of primary kids came to the CCM and sang to us. It was SOOOOOO PRECIOUS. It made all of the sisters cry because it was EXACTLY what we needed. They sang I hope they call me on a mission in spanish. It was so adorable. The children are beautiful here. They helped us remember our purpose. 

I am seriously trying to accept the fact that I am the only Asian here. Everyone here keeps trying to understand how on earth is it possible for me to be from North America. Oh here is a joke that my teacher had to say in front of our whole district. So he was telling one of the elders that he saw that he was sleeping during the session, and then he was like, "Well when Hermana Santeco sleeps, you can't tell if she is sleeping because of her eyes"...... -______- The fact that everyone in my district is white besides one elder and the brazilians, its different. I miss diversity. 

We talked about how the CCM is so much like the celestial kingdom and when we leave to the field, we go to the terrestial kingdom...the real world. But really though. To be inside these gates all day.......its kind of suffocating. 

To be honest, this week has been REAL HARD. Its frustrating when I would be teaching and I can not understand what the investigador is saying. Therefore I would not know how to respond. Besides I do not know how to respond in spanish either...but I know it will come. I have learned that when the adversity gets tougher, I need to work harder. We watched a video of missionaries who were teaching a family that eventually got sealed in the temple. It was so heart warming to know that I would be changing lives. They taught me that even that you know that you can not speak your mission language, all you really want to do is help your investigadores. We also watched 17 Miracles. Such an awesome movie. It inspired me to pray harder and believe that God will answer my prayers (Moroni 10:3 to 5). One night a FAT mosquito (mosquitoes here are huge and ugly) was swarming around me while I was sleeping. So I hid under my covers and prayed to God (Please take this mosquito away from me so I can sleep and get some rest for tomorrow so I can teach well). Then it went away.....it WENT AWAY! Little miracles do happen in my day :).

So I totally thought that I wouldn't see a Polynesian for 18 months but guess what. There is an elder here who is from Salt Lake, Utah. His name is Elder Nuusa! He's Samoan and he totally gets me when it comes to talking about home. We crack some jokes like "Mahana you ugly" that no one else here understands. 

Driving here is crazy. The people here don't drive normal. They kind of drive how people do in the Philippines. Two lanes made into 4 lanes. Tail gating the whole way. We went out to prostelyte yesterday. It was hard....but a good experience. We had one of the teachers come with me and my compañera Hermana Wingate. We got 4 referrals. We contacted about 15 people. We went up to one lady and we asked her what her name was and she was like, "Why do you need my name?! You don't need to know my name!" and she walked away.......hahaha it was so strange. We know that Jesus Christ got rejected by many as well so we were able to take it. Hermana Wingate and I got a new compañera to join us as a trio. Her name is Hermana Alves. She is from Brazil! She is such a sweetheart. She is learning spanish so fast. We teach really well as a trio. They have been so kind to me.

The weather here is so cool. Its always about 20 degrees celesius. I eat tons of food. I always eat ALL of food now and sometimes go for seconds. I never ate so much bread before until I got here. I eat it everyday. 

This week is so hard because I can not seem to speak as fast as I wish I could. The teachers here could see that I have been struggling. Today one of our teachers had me act as an investigador in front of the class. She shared with me a scripture, Alma 26:26-27. If you read it I think you would know why I bawled in front of the whole district. After prostelyting and being rejected by many people because they either were not patient enough with my lack of skill to speak spanish or who just cold hearted was so heart breaking. I had one man read two paragraphs of the B.O.M introduction and after he read it for a few seconds he got up and just walked away. My teacher was telling me about this scripture and was expressing to me that God loves me so much and wants me to be patient with myself. That He knows that I am struggling, but doesn't want me to lose hope. 

One of the sisters here learned how to speak English from reading the ENTIRE Book of Mormon in English. A missionary promised here that if she read the BOM in english, that she would receive the gift of tongues. It was really inspiring to know that. She is the sweetest too. One day I was having a hard time with one of my companions (we are okay now) that I broke into tears. She came up to me and hugged me and told me that she is sad when she sees me sad. I just love how all the missionaries here have the love of Christ. 

I had to say the prayer in spanish in Sacrament. It was nerve wrecking. I never felt so nervous to pray.....but I did it. 

Since this week has been pretty rough, we had a stress management class. It was pretty interesting because they made us run and hop in skirts. I have no idea why. Sometimes they make us do things with no reason....its funny though. 

I got my first letter a couple days ago! I was sooooo HAPPY! It was from Sister Brown. It brightened up my day sooooo much. 
So.....my bag is breaking. Its frustrating how everything I have is breaking. If you can hold off in sending me the package until I realize what else I need, that would be great. I can be patient.

My next Pday is tuesday. I will be going on a field trip to go sight seeing in Colombia! So excited!  Then I will have a Latin Compañera....ahhhhh!

This mission is so hard.  But I know I can do this. I love you all so much. I miss you terribly.

Oro todas los dias que ustedes puedan sentir el amor de Dios. Yo se que Jesucristo les ama. Les amo mucho. 

Siempre con amor,
Hermana Santeco

Deuteronomy 31;6-7

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

I miss food from home

Pday is here again! All the Latin Americans left and it was so bittersweet to see them all leave. But more are coming tonight and tomorrow. The sisters are so amazing here although I could only understand so little of what they said. On my birthday, President and Hermana Dyer made a birthday sign for me and placed it on our room door and classroom door. I seriously forgot it was my birthday. I woke up forgetting it until I saw the sign. Thank you family for the videos for my birthday. I loved them a lot. Happy birthday, Jesse!!! I wish I was there to celebrate it. President Dyer and Hermana Dyer also got me a spanish temple recommend holder :). It was a good day. One of the Latina Hermanas wrote me such a sweet note and gave me two pairs of earrings. It was adorable. When she left she cried so much telling me all these things in spanish.....all I got was, "I love you. You have the light of Christ within you". hahaha But I just felt so much love from all of them. One of the hermanas learned how to sing a birthday song in English and she sang it to me. Last night she sang it again and literally broke down in tears because we knew that we would not see each other again for awhile.
I have been so exhausted that this past sunday, I literally was falling asleep during class. It was terrible and embarassing. Even in the temple.....most of us are so tired that we have a hard time staying awake. Oh which reminds me, WE WENT TO THE TEMPLE THIS MORNING! It was amazing as usual. We were also given a special tour to see the bridal room, sealing rooms, family sealing waiting areas, and baptismal font. It was incredible and absolutely beautiful....the spirit is so strong in the temple. It really is. I have honestly have been having a hard time keeping the spirit with me because of my constant doubt in myself....but from lots of struggle I found that I need not to have confidence in myself...but to have faith and confidence in Christ. One of my favorite things I have learned this past weekend is that during our deep doctrine lesson on sunday, President Dyer was telling me how we sometimes wonder where did the Lord appear in the temple. Then he made us all realize that He has been in all of the rooms...ALL OF THEM because this is His house. So today when I went to the temple, I looked at every inch of it as if He was there and that really made the experience a lot special. Family you have to watch a CES devotional called Christ and his Blueprint for us sometime! I think that is what it is called.

My companion and I have our ups and downs when it comes to teaching, but we are getting better as we go through the days. We learned how to teach with the spirit and to not just teach lessons,  but teach people. Yesterday we taught an acting investigator who told us that he no longer wanted any more lessons from us..and it was devastating. We made the effort to pray for each other while we teach and from that we found that to be really helpful in the ability to teach in unity.

I have been here for two weeks now and in two more weeks I will be having an Latina compañera! Ahhhhh it scares me so much but I could not be anymore excited. When the Latin Americans left last night, I have felt it to be just as if I were leaving my mission in 18 months and just feeling so sad to leave people that you love so much. Since time is going by so fast the maestro was like "Are you ready for more intense spanish?" Then I yelled out loud, "Bring it on!!!" Everyone laughed....hahaha

This language is so difficult......but its coming I know it is. An elder who was in the CCM 11 months ago came yesterday and shared his experience with the language. He is gringo...(foreign) from California and his spanish is INCREDIBLE. He sounds like a native speaker. He inspired us to really pray and work hard to get the language. He said we have to expect to not understand ANYTHING for awhile when we go to the field because the language has different accents in different countries in South America.

I still can not believe that I am here. I am so tired. I miss napping and I miss you all. But I know that I am here for a special purpose. 

Did you know you can get more than one patriarchal blessing? But that is only if your blessings are completely fulfilled then you can get another. I thought that was really cool.

Unfortunately I could not meet with those people I met on the plane and asked me to come to their house here in Bogota. But I sent the address to the mission here so they can teach them. I am also planning to email them today hopefully.

We went prostelyting the first time last week Saturday. It was SCARY, but so rewarding. Mi compañera and I had a hard time finding people to talk to because they either did not believe in God or just was not interested. But one of the guys was actually reading the pamphlet we gave him. I also gave flowers to this homeless woman. I am striving to develop the Christlike attributes of Charity and patience. I have to really humble myself. I honestly wish I have memorized all those scripture masteries in seminary...that would have helped a lot. 

It's really cold here...well for someone like me because I am from Hawaii. Its like 60 degrees. The food is alright. I have adjusted yet I miss food from home. That is why I am eating all my snacks right now hahaha. I have stepped on the scale and I think that I have not gained yet....thank goodness. We will see how that goes. 

It was so funny in the temple today because people quickly assume that I am south American and that I can speak spanish already. The temple president shook my hand and started to speak to me in spanish and asked if I spoke English since all the other people around me were white and obviously American. 

Yo se que mi familia es eterna. Estoy muy feliz de ser misionera. Mi Redentor vive y nos ama. Continue to pray and study the scriptures as a family. God will give you muchas bendiciones for your efforts. He will. Yo lo se porque Dios nos bendice  con el Evangelio y la expiación. My next Pday is next friday. 10 days to wait for my next email. Paciencia is a virtue.....haha 

Les quiero mucho.

Siempre con amor,
Hermana Santeco

oh and the sisters always tell me how much they love my smile....and they describe it with the hand gestures of slanting their eyes with their fingers....hahahaha One of the sisters in the temple was excited to meet me because she heard about me from another sister. She did the same thing with her eyes. But they do love my smile they said. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

First Week and BIRTHDAY

How are you all? I miss you all so much. The mission is the hardest thing that I have ever done, but it is the best feeling ever. It's the best opportunity to really serve the Lord 24/7. The language is hard but it will come. I'm slowly getting better at understanding the language when I read and hear it but speaking it is another story.
The first day was honestly really rough because it was a lot to take in. Satan was able to attack my hope in becoming a successful missionary. My first night here, I kept doubting myself  whether I would be able to do this and at the same time I missed you all very much. The food here is different. It took a lot of adjusting. It will make your stomach really upset for a few days but now I'm okay. My first day I set my alarm clock wrong, my watch latch broke off, my purse strap ripped, and it was just really hard. During classes and devotionals the spirit was so strong. We read the Book of Mormon as a district in english and spanish. They had all of us kneel down in prayer and ask God if it was true and if Joseph Smith really restored the gospel. I prayed for these things, but also for the answer if I could really do this. I cried so much. I felt the spirit tell me that I could do this. I know that its true. I had to pray for a happy and positive attitude and the comfort of the spirit.
My compañera is Hermana Wingate. She is absolutely awesome. We are best friends already. We first had a hard time to teach because  we had to try to teach in spanish. But now we are working harder in using the language. We are getting better at being obedient and teaching. The teachers here are amazing. They love us so much and have done so much for us to become effective missionaries. They aren't afraid to tell me that I need to speak louder. My voice is to soft...as you all know. I love my compañera. I love her so much! I've only been here for almost 2 weeks and it honestly feels like forever but in a good way. Everyone here looks so familiar as if I have known these people in the pre-mortal life. It's a really good feeling. Time also goes so fast that I forget what I have done throughout the day. This work really requires all of your heart, might, mind, and strength...that by the end of the day, you are EXHAUSTED. We wake up at 6:30am and sleep at 10:30pm, but we actually wake up at 6 to shower and beat the other girls to the bathroom.
I am the only Asian in this whole MTC (CCM). Everyone is either white or Latino. The sisters here from north america love talking about our families. We were talking about the chores that we do at home. They all said how they had to do their own laundry, they have dish washers, and dryers. Here at the MTC they are so kind to do our laundry. But anyways I told the sisters how I did the laundry for the whole family of 6...and that we hung dry our clothes and didn't have a dishwasher. They were like "Why do you do everyone's laundry? Like why would you do that?" I told them it was because I wanted to....I love you guys! I am so grateful for the way you have raised me to be selfless and hardworking.

I was able to sew a button on my watch to latch it around my wrist. Today we went to the Bogota temple. It is so beautiful! It is huge! But not like home..the spirit is the same though. It really is. Doing the whole session in spanish was hard, but really nice.
Sundays we have deep doctrine studies with President Dyer. It is so DEEP and amazing because we really get to really study the scriptures and understand how incredible and perfect the plan of salvation is. Being here makes me want to become better more and more. I wished I prepared more before I came instead of spending time on Netflix. Yet I am so grateful that I was able to work with Hermana Hurst. She prepared me so much. I am sooooooooooooo grateful! The hermanas that are Latin American heard me pray last night and was so surprised how well I was able to pray in their language. I still have to practice though. The Latinas are amazing and so loving. They have strong testimonies. They come from all different countries in South America and Central America. They love that I am from Hawaii. I lent out two of my umbrellas to the sisters because they didn't have any and when I gave them to them to borrow they were so happy that they hugged me. 
President Dyer shows so much love for us. He was telling us north americans about how lucky we are to be north americans. The latin americans are so humble and blessed from the Lord differently. One of the elders here, his mom has past away two weeks before he came here. She appeared to him in a dream and asked him to do her work in the temple. 
Time is limited to contact home because we need to be really focused on the work. The schedule changes so my next pday is next Tuesday I believe because the latin americans leave the CCM on wednesday and new missionaries come in that night. 
Funny story. As my compañera and I were teaching, a bird flew into our closed window and died.....after that we couldn't focus on teaching. hahahahaha. My compañera keeps me happy. She is so much like me. We laugh all the time and cry together. lol The food is nothing like home but Im getting used to it. I actually like it now. They celebrated my birthday today during lunch since its PDAY and they give us our cameras on P-Day.
Thank you for your prayers and all of your love. I miss you so much. I love the gospel more and more each day. I pray for you all so often and think of you too. Please continue to be strong in the gospel and let me know how grandma is. I love you!

Yo se que Jesucristo es nuestro Redentor. Yo se que el Libro de Mormon es verdadero. No puedo decir mucho....because my spanish is rusty. hahahaha

Love you love you love you love you!!!!!!

Hermana Santeco 
ps: i spent 8 dollars on the worst parfait in the world in LA at the airport......it was disgusting....never get a parfait from a random store....lol

I forgot to add that a really nice elder made a little cake out of a cookie for me during lunch on my birthday hahaha. Elders here do hand hugs when we had to say bye. It was so awkward. Love you!!!