Thursday, August 3, 2017

¡Ay caramba!

¡Ay caramba! Only three more days in the CCM! 

I leave for the CCM Monday morning at 3:30. Nonsense, since my flight doesn´t leave until 7:45 but it is an hour drive to the airport and they what to make sure we don't miss our flights. 

At lunch this week the Latino Elders were asking me and Hermana Price a bunch of question about when we wanted to get married after our missions.¨How many kids do you want?" "Do you want to get married in the Mexico City Temple? No, what about the Tijuana Temple?" "Do you want to marry a Latino or an American?" When my companion responded she wants an African American husband they were confused. "No, no, no, Latino or American?" Apparently those are my only two options for a spouse. They won´t accept any other race. I think the Elders have a little crush on Hermana Price. I can't count how many times they told her she had beautiful eyes. ¡Ay caramba  Elders! 

This week was good. Unfortunately I don't have any time to tell you about it. ¡Lo siento! But we had a really great devotional Tuesday and my talk went well on Sunday. I am excited and nervous for New Jersey. And a little sad, because Hermana Price won't be coming with me. But at least I get to keep Hermana Kim and Hermana Smith. 

I love you!! Keep smiling!
siempre,
Hermana Croft

-------
An email I received from the Mexico MTC president:

Dear Sister Croft,

You have an outstanding daughter who is becoming a fantastic missionary…in fact she already is!

She is hard working, energetic, happy, obedient, and a very capable teacher.  Together w/ her companion I attended a Relief Society class they taught together and they were magnificent.  You should be very proud, she has been a delight and we are extremely grateful the Lord sent her here for her MTC experience.  All the very best!

Curtis Bennett
President
Mexico Missionary Training Center




Thursday, July 27, 2017

Yo se que vive mi Senor

¡Hola de la CCM!

So, I thought I'd give you a rundown of a typical day for me here. Here is my schedule for tomorrow: 
6:00- wake up, pray, clean my area (all except for one of the girls in my room sleep on top of  their covers with only a blanket so it is easier to make your bed in the morning. Also, it gets hot. I have only slept under my covers once since getting here and it was because I was sick), read el Libro de Mormón, and get ready for the day 
7:15- personal study time in the classroom (I will probably study for the talk I have to give on Sunday... in Spanish. Pray for me)
7:45- ¡Desayuno!
8:15- district gospel study with the teacher 
8:45- practice teaching the entirety of lección 3 in Spanish in 3 minutes
10:00- teach our 1st progressing investigator
11:00- language study with our morning teacher, usually grammar
12:15- daily planning 
12:45- ¡almuerza!
1:30- personal study time
2:00- companionship study time
2:40- gym time (on Mondays we do service during this time. So far we have only worked doing laundry)
3:30- prep time after gym
4:00- TALL (online language study, usually grammar listening and writing exercises)
5:00- more language study with our night teacher
6:00- el Libro de Mormón study (we take turns leading the discussion) 
6:30- ¡cena!
7:15- teach our 2nd progressing investigator (on Tuesdays everything is slightly shortened so we can go to a devotional during this time. They do it on Tuesdays because that is when all the new missionaries arrive)
8:15- coaching with our teacher on how to be better missionaries 
9:00- run 
9:30- get ready for bed, shower, write in journal, get an ab workout laughing, review grammar or words, personal and companionship prayer
10:30- bedtime 

Also, our district has made a goal to speak only Spanish for the last two weeks so everything is done completely in Spanish. This week we are allowing English after 9:00 and Spanglish on Pday, but next week no English will be uttered. It can get a little tricky at times, but we can usually communicate fairly effectively, at least with each other. Talking to a native is a whole different experience!

This week was really great, especially Sunday! I live for Sunday's here! I always get the spiritual recharge I need for the next week. The whole day is meetings. Along with the regular three hour block, we have three devotionals (1 1/2 hours each). The whole day was centered around different parts of the Atonement. Hermana Price and I taught the lección en Sociedad de Socurro about repentance. It was already a little bit stressful to be teaching, but then President Bennett (the President of the CCM) walked in! I am awed by that man (seriously, he knows every missionary here by name. We have 600 missionaries!!!!) He is absolutely inspired, but because of this he is also a little intimidating to try and teach the gospel to. Near the end of the lesson he asked if he could comment and ending up taking the next 15 minutes enlightening us about repentance. He asked if Hermana Price and I were going to the same mission, when we responded no he said "Oh, the devil doesn't know how lucky he is. In a boxing match with the devil, Hermana Price would get in all the head shots and Hermana Croft would take all the body hits. You make a good team." I love that man.

Coming off that full day of the Atonement, my head was spinning. I have come to the realization that the more I learn about Christ's sacrifice for us the more unfathomable it becomes. The song "Only Hope" (by Mandy Moore from A Walk to Remember) has been running through my head all week porque Jesucristo es mi sólo esperanza en esta vida. Él es mi Salvador y I can't wait for the day I can see His face and give Him a big hug. Psalms 51:10 describes my prayer as a missionary: Create in me a clean heart, O God; renew a right spirit within me. (Also, if you can, go watch the Character of Christ devotional by Elder Bednar.)

Fresh off this spiritual high, Hermana Price and I went to the cafeteria and participated in la última cena. Our very favorite latino elders left this last week. So Sunday night we had one final dinner together. The cafeteria was packed, so we ended up squished together in the back corner, but it was still a nice way to send them off. President Bennett found us back there laughing together long after most of the cafeteria had emptied. One of the elders bore his testimony to us at the end and told us we were angels, it was so sweet! Since he is serving in Mexico City, he also said he would send us real Mexican tacos. Hermana Price and I are already planning our return to Mexico after our missions so we can visit them. 

At the devotional this Tuesday we learned that out of the 600 missionaries here, 160 are sisters and 97 are latinos. So how did I end up in a district of 6 Sisters and only 2 Elders? We are literally the only district here with more hermanas than elders. Also, with four times more Americans, how have Hermana Price and I been able to make friends with and sit by latinos for nearly every meal? We are encouraged to practice our Spanish with the Latinos during mealtimes but everyone always jokes about how it is a fight to get to them first. They come to us! We have consistently had big groups of latinos call us over during meal times to sit with them. Yo no sé comó es posible, pero me gusta.  

Odds and ends:

* Tuesday was a rough day. We visited the enfermería multiple times throughout the day because Hermana Price was sick. I was feeling really discouraged, and my Spanish was just not coming. By the end of the day, we were pretty much done. But then miracle of miracles, they served chicken bake for dinner. That is our all time favorite meal here. Hermana Kim and I were literally so excited we did a little happy dance in the middle of the cafeteria. 

* Our Elders gave Hermana Price a blessing yesterday. It was really cool to watch them exercise the Priesthood. I really love the elders in my district, they are like my cousins. I can't say brothers, because I only have one brother, and he is my favorite. 

* Stomach issues have decreased mightily, I am feeling great! 

* Muchas gracias por the broadway songs throughout your email! I love it! Also, your email just kept getting better and better! Lin-manual Miranda! ¡Mi corazón! And he signed his name in Spanish! I didn't realize it at first because I am used to seeing "siempre" now. 

* Lilian is amazing!!! I am so glad everything is working out for her in soccer so well! The latinos here love football. But I am not allowed to play with them because I am not very good...

Well, es tiempo. ¡Te amo! Send my love to the whole family! 
XOXOXO

Hermana Croft


Friday, July 21, 2017

Tengo goza en mi alma hoy

¡Tengo gozo en mi alma! Es verdad. Especially because I am on my way home from the temple. (I have heard you only get to go to the temple twice here, so today is supposedly my last time, but I am secretly hoping for three.) Although I'll tell you what, the traffic in Mexico City is egregious. Also, I really want to stop at one of the cute farmers markets and buy an authentic Mexican churro. I can only imagine the delightful sensation that would overwhelm my tastebuds in the moment...and the accompanying stomach ache that would hit me later as my body tried the process the less than sanitary delicacy. I've had enough trouble with the food inside the CCM... 













But I really do love Mexico, at least what I've seen.  Last night all the sisters in my room went running, and believe it or not I actually enjoyed myself, thoroughly. A big part of which was because it was absolutely beautiful! Being in a little valley,  we can see colorful houses on the surrounding mountains everyday.  My companion and I actually nicknamed a specific section Crayon Mountain because all the buildings are color coordinated, like someone did a crayon melt painting right there. But even with all that fun color, I think I like the mountains even better at night. All the lights come on and suddenly it looks like you are encircled about by hundreds of little stars. 

*Quick interruption to this email: it is dumping BUCKETS of rain outside right now! I think this is the hardest it has rained since I got here, and that is saying something because it has literally rained every day!

Lauren has mentioned to me on several occasions that Bonnie wonders why I am not her daughter. I kind of love that, because I think Bonnie is amazing. And if I am like her, I must be doing pretty good. Speaking of Lauren, all my roommates were outraged when I mentioned she was having bowel issues at the Provo MTC. A few Spanish phrases saved only for when we are really frustrated were uttered... of course all still within the bounds of being missionary appropriate, so in all actuality they were pretty mild. We have all been reacting to the food here in different ways, but none of them have been super great. It´s not that the food tastes awful or anything, you just feel sick after every time you eat. 

Odds and Ends:
*Yay for having somewhere to sleep when you get to London! I am super jealous you guys are going to London without me. When I get home we should pull Rebekah away from Tanner for a couple days and take a girls trip somewhere. 

*Happy belated anniversary!!! And yes, you are middle aged. But what is wrong with that? Nothing, I say! Absolutely nothing! Wisdom accompanies age, so really you should be celebrating your years. Also, I eat Mexican food multiple times everyday here, yet I was still jealous when you mentioned you went to Café Rio and Blue Iguana. One for the sweet pork, and the other for the ambience. 

*Thank you for taking care of Leo for me! He is still my favorite pet! 

*Missionarypackagemx.com you should check this out. It's like dear elder but for Mexico. Also you can send packages.  A lot of people here get sent boxes of Krispy Kreme donuts. But definitely don't feel obligated to send anything. Especially since Hermana Price and I are trying to lose weight. 

I love love love you Mommy. Please give big hugs to Brandon, Rebekah, Lilian, and Daddy for me. Also, have Rebekah give a hug to Tanner for me. 
Stay safe and happy! I love hearing about your adventures! :)

XOXO

Hermana Croft

 New Jersey bound!

This one is from today. All the Sisters in my room wore white floral dresses. They are my family here.












Thursday, July 13, 2017

I still sometimes forget I am a missionary...

We currently have 600 missionaries in the CCM and we are going to get up to 700 by the time I leave. So not nearly as many as the Provo MTC, but still a rather large gathering of missionaries. Sometimes I forget everyone around me are missionaries. Sometimes I forget I am a missionary. In fact last week when I was getting off the bus at the Temple grounds there was a hermana companionship who were already off standing by the door. Upon seeing them I turned to my companion, exclaiming excitedly, "Look! Sister missionaries!" She got a good laugh out of that. And because you asked; Hermana Price is from Ceder Utah. She was a swimmer in college and is the oldest in her family. But even being the oldest child, she couldn't get over how young you and dad looked in a picture I showed her last night. She said you looked twenty-nine. 

The temple was amazing! The Mexico City Temple is designed to look kind of like a ziggurat from the outside, symbolizing the ancient Central American temples. The celestial room is small, but absolutely gorgeous! The chandelier was really something to see. And when you first walk into the temple, just past the reception desk, there is a huge mural on the wall. It is the famous picture of Jesus visiting the people in the Americas after He had been resurrected. I teared up right there. I had English headphones for the session, but I turned them way down so I could listen to it in both English and Spanish. And everything I spoke was in Spanish as well. It was really cool to make those same covenants in a different language. 

There are about five or six people here from Davis High. One hermana who graduated with me, but she already spoke fluent Spanish, so she is with a Latina companion. The only person I really knew well in high school was Elder Hayes who was on the same flight as me. 

We kind of excise everyday. Not on Sunday, because it's the Lord's day. Not on Monday because we do service. Not this last Tuesday because my companion felt sick. Kind of yesterday, though not very hard because I was pretty sick. Maybe today, but who knows with P-days. But when we do exercise, we go to the gym and bike, or lift weights, or squat, etc. There is no four square in the CCM. 

Brandon and Rebekah binge watching Survivor makes me so happy. Where did they even find it? I love that out of all the T.V. shows they could watch, they chose Survivor. If I was home right now, I would watch Pride and Prejudice (LDS version, because hilarious) and Becoming Jane (because a sister in my district brought it up yesterday and my passion for James McAvoy has been rekindled). 

Got to go now! love Love LOVE you!

- Hermana Croft


In the gym, ¡hay que ayudar!
 

The picture of Christ pulling Peter out of the water is in the gym. I find it very appropriate. 

 The sisters in my district 

The Latino missionaries we sit by every day.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Week one at the CCM

Julianne sent her first email home today from the MTC. Much of it was just answering questions I had asked and responding to things I had told her about. She says she will compose an official group email for everyone next week. But here are some snippets of her email that I thought she'd be okay with me sharing here, along with the pictures she sent. 
--------------------------

Mi companera es muy buena!! Amo ellla mucho! We make the funniest companionship though, because physically we are pretty much opposites. I am short and pale, and she is 6 feet 2 with beautiful tan skin. I guess you will see in the pictures though. Sorry we weren't able to take many pictures today. We had to rush this morning because, dun dun dun dun! We are going to the Mexico City Temple!!!!! YAY! We leave at noon and I am so excited. 

Yes, I love Spanish!!! I am soooo grateful I took that semester in college. It has been a lot of help. Although I can still communicate better in Spanish now after one week at the CCM than I could at the end of the semester. The gift of tongues is a real thing, and it is really helping me learn quick. I have already taught 6 lessons to an investigator in Spanish this week! And my companion and I committed him to baptism on the 4th lesson. All in Spanish! Of course, it is really just our teacher pretending to be an investigator he taught while on his mission, but it is still pretty amazing. 

Life is an emotional rollercoaster here at the MTC. Everyday I feel motivated, excited, and full of the spirit as well as tired, discouraged and unmotivated. But thanks to the Lord, I can always pull out of my slumps. It is amazing how his spirit rushes over me the second I pray for help. My companion is a big help as well. We make a great team. Getting up early really isn't hard at all. Shocking, I know to hear that coming from me, but I really haven't had any problems with it. 

The food is delicious, although half the time I am not sure what kind of meat I am eating. On the Fourth of July they fed us a truly American meal for lunch. Hamburgers, chips, corn on the cob, and American root beer! It was amazing! Also, all the American missionaries stood up and sang the National Anthem during lunch while a sister played the piano. I'm not sure what the Latinos made of that, but it made me really happy. Hermana Price and I try to eat with the Latino missionaries during every meal so we can practice our Spanish. We had a group of fun Latino Elders we were friends with, but they were in their last week at the CCM so they are gone now. I'm so sad. They would give us hard words in Spanish to try and pronounce. They were super impressed with my pronunciation. One of the Elders said I could pronounce things just as well, if not better than the Latinos! I'm not so sure about that, but it was nice to hear and really encouraging. 

Yes, we have been rained on absolutely every day. And not just sprinkled on, but huge thunderstorms! I love it! The CCM is so beautiful! There are tropical green birds flying around everywhere and tons of trees. Our casas are all brightly colored and lined up in a row like a rainbow. The CCM is actually the biggest MTC in the world geographically. We have 88 acres of happiness nestled in a little valley in the center of Mexico City. You can here sirens and fireworks going off all day long. Apparently the Mexican markets fire them off to attract customers. 

Thank you so much for all the news! I love you and I love to hear what everyone is doing. Email me whenever you want. It actually makes it easier if you do it before Pday so I have time to read it and even write a little at night in my journal what I want to say. Promise you will get a more complete review of my week that way. HUGS! KISSES! LOVE for EVERYONE! 

Thank you so much for everything! I know this gospel is true and I can feel the spirit so strongly here! 

Love, 

Hermana Croft

Friday, June 30, 2017

Hasta luego

I had been told that sending off a second missionary wasn't any easier than sending off the first. I had heard that knowing what to expect was actually harder in some ways because you know what to expect. People told me that dropping your missionary off at the airport was harder than dropping them off at the Provo MTC. After having experienced it I am now in a position to say that it's true. All of it.

Monday was spent packing and saying tough goodbyes. (Dad, who had a business trip, and her boyfriend Jordan, who she wouldn't be allowed to see as soon as she was an official missionary.) All too soon it was time to go to the stake president's office to get set apart as a missionary. Already emotional, by the time President Brown invited us in to join Julianne, we were a bit of a mess. Julianne shared her testimony and her reasons behind wanting to serve a mission. President Brown set her apart. And by the time he finished, we were all very glad that there is always a box of kleenex in the stake president's office. President Brown quoted D&C 84:88 And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.
I'm guessing it was meant to strengthen and comfort Julianne. I know it had that affect on me.
 (Julianne was rather pleased with the placement of her picture on the stake offices missionary board...right between Elle and Lauren.)

We had thought about getting up extra early to have a last breakfast at Granny Annie's, but packing didn't get finished up till midnight and we had planned to leave the house around 6:45am to head to the airport. We decided sleep was more important. Rebekah and Julianne had one last sleepover. They said it was because Julianne was now a missionary and Rebekah was her companion so therefore they shouldn't sleep in separate bedrooms. But really, they'd been having sleepovers most nights since Rebekah came home from her mission seven months ago. And seeing as by the time Julianne comes home, Rebekah will likely be married, this last time seemed significant.

The morning came all to soon, and not soon enough. Similarly to how I felt when Rebekah was leaving...I was ready. In a way, I had dreaded this day. And the stress and emotions had taken their toll, physically and emotionally. Julianne's leaving was going to happen no matter what, and I got to the point where I just wanted to be done, to get things going so we could start counting down, you know? I think Julianne felt similarly. Although I don't think she was dreading the day, but more anticipating it.

We made the drive to the airport and then sat in the car for a few minutes to have a family prayer. I felt like maybe it was my responsibility as the mother to say it. But of course that meant that my words came out in a tearful, heart aching, emotional mess.

We walked inside (wiping away tears) and got Julianne's boarding passes printed and her luggage checked. I was kind of amazed at just how incredibly helpful and kind the Delta counter agents were to all the missionaries there. Knowing that these missionaries and their families were running the gamut of emotions...fear of the unknown, feeling overwhelmed, confusion, sadness, excitement, and everything in between...they clearly see this every week. And while it might be easy to feel annoyed at all these clueless families, they instead responded with such empathy and asked us where Julianne was serving, expressed excitement over her call, offered advice with travel. It made me worry just a little bit less.
(And the pink/purple luggage makes a second mission go 'round...)

We went upstairs to the security line. The point of no return. This is where it becomes so much harder to say goodbye than at the Provo MTC. In Provo, you know you have more or less delivered your missionary to their destination, at least for the next few weeks. She is going to go inside and be assigned a companion, and a bedroom. She will be fed and taken good care of. At the airport you have to say goodbye and watch her walk through that security line all on her own. Will she make it to her gate okay? What happens if she loses her luggage? What if there are problems or delays with her flight? Will someone be there at the other end in Mexico to pick her up?
























(I tried to smile for the camera...but didn't realize that Brandon continued to take pictures, so there is a progression of me losing the precarious hold I had on my tears.)























We said our goodbyes. We hugged and cried and hugged some more. Julianne was admirably calm. I think she had spent her emotions the day before and was just ready.


 Once again, the hardest part came when we got home. Saying goodbye is hard, yes. But coming home and seeing the pajama pants she had worn the night before still in my room where she had got ready that morning, finding her phone on the counter, realizing that all of the things that she had decided not to pack but had not put away were now my responsibility...because she wasn't coming home to do it herself....that's when the ache really sets in. So I decided to put my pajamas back on and allow myself to do nothing productive all day. I ate chocolate, binge watched Netflix, napped and allowed myself to cry whenever I felt like it rather than fight the tears. I didn't leave the house for two days. And I think that helped.

Another thing that helped? I got a quick email that evening from Julianne. She said she had arrived safely, that there had been 25 missionaries on her flight to Mexico and that her P-Days would be on Thursdays while in the MTC. The next day I also found a couple pictures of her on the Mexico MTC facebook page. Both of those things did much to settle any worries that I had.

There is a Julianne sized hole in my heart. And though she's physically little, her spirit is larger than life. Which means that hole is pretty darn noticeable. It aches, my heart. It very literally hurts. But I'm so proud of her as well. Knowing what to expect this time around means I understand already how hard the missing her can be and how long the time sometimes seems. But it also means that I am fully aware of all the blessings that come, to both her and us here at home. And it's worth it.