Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Triumphs & Testimony- "He knows us by name"

Week #46

You know you live by train tracks when you wake up from a very nice dream to your windows shaking. Really though. The trains are so loud.

Okay. So. So many things this week. I can't write about most of them, but when I get home, ask me about my journal entries from January 23-29. The good thing is that I think that I have laughed more this week than any other on my mission. So they aren't all bad things, I promise.

I cried this morning. Sitting curbside with my laundry basket and I cried. I locked us out of our apartment. And our car. An hour and a half before our apartment manager gets here. Usually it's because I miss Forest Grove. This time it's because I'm freezing cold and it smells like weed. 

I hit an opossum on Tuesday. It was huge. Fat. Easily 2 and a half feet long and then the tail. It decided to stop right in front of our car. We were driving back from dinner in the dark on the highway so even though I slammed on my brakes we went right over it. Our TiWi told me that I was driving aggressively. Not because I slammed on my brakes, but because we went over the opossum. That was a fun phone call to Elder Burke in the mission office. Just another thing for people to laugh at me for. Hermana Jensen and I found out we scream like men though. When we hit the opossum we both yelled awkwardly low - so like men. :) You learn something new every day.

I'm trying to remember what else happened this week. Honestly I just have a song running through my head from this weekend. "La Vaca! La Vaca!" It's literally just a song about a cow. We had a branch party this weekend to celebrate eight years as a branch. As always that includes food and a DJ. We are so white. We tried though. some members tried to help us dance. specifically Hna Torres. She kept getting mad at me because I was so bad, but honestly I just laughed the whole time. It's really funny to see some videos of us dancing next to the natives #americanos. It was really neat though. The branch president has pictures of everyone who has gone to the temple in those eight years. IT was a good reminder that the goal isn't baptism. The goal is the temple. For families to be sealed for eternity. Baptism is such an important covenant, but it isn't the end. There are more promises that we can make and more blessings that our Heavenly Father wants us to have. I can't imagine not having the blessing of a temple sealing for my future children.

This week we have had to do more dropping people so at this point there isn't anyone really progressing. We do have some young investigators who are going to start teaching us the lessons. They aren't able to be baptized yet so this is a way to continue learning and growing their testimonies. Today at church they asked us if they have to wear skirts like we do . . . one of them is a boy. . . It's going to be really fun. I am excited.

We also had a worldwide broadcast this week for all of the missionaries. It was like a mini general conference (aka Christmas for missionaries). We were trained on the basics and how to remember to keep our lessons simple, but powerful. The most powerful part for me personally was the opening prayer. It was given by Elder David A. Bednar, a living apostle. I think that was the first time that I have heard a prayer from an apostle. I've heard apostles and prophets address people at conferences and meetings, but I've never heard an apostle address our Heavenly Father. It was a very special experience for me. It was just another witness to me that we are all children of our Heavenly Father and He wants to hear from all of us.

He really does want to hear from all of us. He knows us by name and knows our needs. We have talked a lot about prayer this week. Multiple members and investigators have shared their testimonies with us about experiences that they have had as they talk with their Heavenly Father.

Heavenly Father has been working on me very hard these last few weeks. I honestly don't want to share this, but for some reason He wants me to. So I'm going to. I was really struggling in my last area. More than anyone there or at home knows. I tried to explain it to a few people and they wanted to help, but they couldn't fully understand and I didn't know how to help myself let alone how others could help me. Depression is not foreign  to me. The Spirit warned me before my mission that it is something that I would again struggle with, even as a missionary. I've been trying really hard to keep it out of my emails. That helps me - to try to focus on the good.

This is the greatest work. This work brings the most joy. I know that. In the First Presidency message to missionaries in Preach My Gospel they promise us that "more happiness awaits [us] than [we] have ever experienced as [we] labor among His children". I have come to really depend on that promise. I have come to really, truly understand what it is like to depend on Christ. So when I say that no one in Forest Grove or at home could really understand, that's okay. I have a Heavenly Father who always understands and a Savior who felt the same things that I feel. It's easy to feel a little lonely when I re-read that promise in Preach My Gospel countless times, hoping to feel that joy and to not have it come, but my Heavenly Father knows that loneliness that I feel brings me closer to Him. Maybe I need to experience loneliness to be able to feel and appreciate the happiness that will come. Heavenly Father knew how long I needed to be in Forest Grove. He also knew when I needed to leave. I honestly felt a physical relief when we got transfer calls. Not because I wanted to leave, but because the Spirit confirmed to me that I needed to; so that I could feel the promised happiness. I'm doing so much better here. I miss the people so much in Forest Grove though. P-days are hard because it's easier to miss them when I'm not busy working, but I know that I need to be here.

I feel like at this point I am just rambling, but my point is that He knows us and He listens to us when we pray. My mission has brought me to my knees more than ever before and I know that He is listening. He doesn't hear Elder Bednar's prayers any louder than mine. We can't understand how He does it, but He hears and knows us as individuals. My testimony is so far from perfect, but it's growing.

My blog is named "The Salem Missionary Triumphs" right? (I'm honestly am not sure because of 'mission brain') I think being able to share this is a small triumph for me honestly. I'm focusing on the little triumphs, the tender mercies.

One of my tender mercies this week is our knew "Jesus wall". I decided that we needed more of Christ in our apartment. I've spent most of my lunch times and night times the last few days going through magazines and making a "Jesus wall". It's something so little, but it's already made a difference. A little triumph.

Los quiero,

Hermana Dickson

Newly decorated apartment wall

Locked out of the apartment and car

"White" Hermanas - dancing? Trying anyway.

Friday, January 27, 2017

"Ye Know Not, but that They Will Return and Repent. . . and I Shall Heal Them"

Week # 45

You know you're in "Little Mexico" when you eat more than 30 tortillas in 5 days. . . Honestly I've lost count. It's probably over 40. . .

So many tortillas. I'm loving it. We'll see if the scale loves it as much as I do. My stomach is re-adjusting back to Mexican food. So far so good.

This week was hard. Starting Tuesday we decided to do a car fast for the morning. Well it ended up the whole day because we came home sick before dinner. And the next day. And the next. We literally came in and passed out on the floor. Coats and boots included. We did make it out to some lessons and to our meetings, but even on Friday we were zombies at district meeting and sports night. The Elders offered us peppermint gum. . . not a blessing, but peppermint gum. It's okay. We are feeling much better now. 

We actually had a really good week considering that we were sick. The last couple of days we worked really hard to make up for it and we got pretty close to our goals. We had 7 (investigators) at church! That's a record for my mission I think. It's really hard being sick as a missionary. If we were home, we wouldn't feel guilty, but as a missionary we want to be out working and sometimes it's hard to remember that Heavenly Father wants us to take care of ourselves too. I said this in an earlier email way back in my training, but I really believe that one of the biggest trials for missionaries (well at least for me) are the limitations of our bodies. Our spirits are like "Wooh! Let's go! OYM! -open your mouth!- Find the humans! Teach the humans! Help the humans!" and then our bodies say "let's be sick today, let's be tired". It's a struggle. I feel like it takes away my agency. BUT Heavenly Father understands and knows what we can handle. 

We had interviews with President Tateoka this weekend. I love interviews. I didn't cry this time. That's a record. We get to talk about the area and investigators and then really about whatever we want. President and I talked a lot about Forest Grove and everything that I was able to do there and learn there. He told me that the area has changed and grown since he got to the mission and he thanked me. Honestly sometimes it is really easy to feel like no one will remember you and that you really didn't help anyone. We really don't know the effects of our efforts. I grew a lot in Forest Grove, but I have seen this transfer bless me so much. Change is good if we open ourselves up and find the blessings. 

We stopped by a less active's house on Saturday night and literally the whole family was there. We were able to have an awesome lesson and the mom told us about a dream that she had. She told us that the Spirit warned her that she has a responsibility to bring her children to church. And they all came to church! Everyone! It was such a tender mercy and having a hard week of being sick.

We have had a huge focus on using the Book of Mormon in everything that we do. I've definitely seen that help. We just started a reading chart with some of our investigators. Every night that they read they get to fill in a square and it ends up making a picture. I'll send a picture when I am done. I have loved reading the Book of Mormon in Spanish. It is so special to read it in a different language. It makes me focus more and so I get even more out of it. It's amazing how you can read a verse and feel like you have never read it before. Yesterday in branch council our branch president pulled out scriptures and read us 3rd Nefi 18:31-32. I've read that scripture so many times, but the Spirit was so strong. It felt like the first time. I love that scripture. I love that we can always return. Christ can literally heal us. Sometimes we are the one that needs the healing and sometimes we are the tool in His hands to help heal others. 

I'll never fully understand the Atonement, but I can say that I am learning more gradually how I can access the redeeming and enabling power of the Atonement. I'm learning through my triumphs and I'm learning even more from my errors. It is such a beautiful gift.

Los quiero,

Hermana Dickson

P.S. SUPER BIG MIRACLE! I just found out! Remember the Farfán family? Their dad just said yes to baptism! They are going to be an eternal family! I can't even express how much joy this brings so many people. So many prayers are being answered! He is listening!

Hermana Jensen and Hermana Dickson

This is an average drop note from the one and only Hna Dickson. I like to keep things interesting.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Blessings of Change

Week #44

You know you're in a new area and you don't know the roads when TiWi yells at you every 5 seconds.

I feel like I am on exchanges . . . This is weird. All I've known with a name tag is Forest Grove.

My district is all really young in their missions. All have been in their missions for 6 months or less so I am old compared to everyone. I still fell like I just started my mission. They are all like "your Spanish is awesome" and "so when we are as old as you . . . " It's weird. They all seem to be awesome missionaries though. I'm excited to serve with them. I got here and was told that we don't have district meetings in Spanish, so we are changing that this week. I'm excited.

My new companion is Hermana Jensen. She came out with Hermana Hunt so she is straight out of training. She has so much confidence! I love it. We are going to get this Spanishing thing down in "Little Mexico"! We laugh way too much though. Sister Carbine drove me to my new area and traded me with Hermana Stockett (I miss you Hermana Carbine!) That first day we had service with Jeff at the cemetary next door. We learned about larping and how the the people passed away. It was interesting. The snow came again this week and so we got to walk again. We got to talk to so many people though. I have so much more energy here. Transfers are hard, but are so needed. I feel like I am restarting my mission. It's so exciting. I really miss everyone in Forest Grove. I keep thinking "I need to tell Lourdes this next time I see her" or algo así. So it is hard when I remember this isn't just exchanges. President Loza told me that he thinks I'll be one of the missionaries who gets transferred back. It's not very common, but I wouldn't complain. 

I love the members here. They are so loving and welcoming. I feel bad because I am so overwhelmed with new streets, people, companion, etc so I don't remember their names, but they seem to understand. We are at a member's right now doing laundry and the Hermana just walked out of her room and said "I have a sweater for you Hermana". This is literally the second time I have met her. She's so cute. Her name is Hermana Imelda. What's really cool about her is that I met her son in the MTC and he told me to find his family. It's such a small world.

This week feels like it was the longest of my mission so far. I'm getting to know the investigators and members slowly and my companion is amazing. Miracles are going to happen here. I did not want to leave, but I've realized that I needed a change badly. This change has given me new energy and I have been feeling so sick recently and it's gone now. Already seeing the blessings of change. Change is good! We just have to humble ourselves a little bit and have patience to wait for the blessings that will come.

Hermana Jensen is my second companion to tell me that I speak Spanish in my sleep. Well . . . I either just babble with a Hispanic accent or she just doesn't understand what I am saying. Probably the first one. People have asked me if I have started dreaming in Spanish yet. They say that means I am learning well . . . well yes, I have dreams in Spanish. They usually consist of other people speaking and I'm crying because I don't understand anything. . . Gift of Tongues is real though. I have felt it.

I feel like this email is super scattered. . . sorry.

Have a wonderful week!

I love you all,

Hermana Dickson.  

New Companions. Hermana Jensen

Silly Sisters

My last picture with Hermanita Margarita

Hermana Hunt painted this pot for the cactus she gave me for Christmas. She is so talented!

Snow Canyon and our cinder cone at home on one side. . .

. . . Haystock Rock. "Build Upon the Rock" on the other.

Home is where the heart is. A perfect gift for a girl now with two beloved homes.

Hermana Dickson: Watercolor by Sister Carbine the younger. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Last Email from Forest Grove . . . "His is the Right Time"

Week #43

You know you're getting transferred when you get lots of illegal hugs from men . . . 

So we aren't supposed to hug people of the opposite gender as missionaries, but investigators and some members don't know that so . . . There have been a couple of awkward situations in the last few days. It's all good though. Firmen hugged me and I awkwardly yelped because he scared me and he just thought I was super uncomfortable. He felt so bad when I told him that it was a rule. I'm going to miss him though. My companion is under strict instructions to keep me updated on him and his family.

This is kind of surreal. I've been here my whole mission. I've seen two companions say goodbye to these people, but I didn't understand how hard it is until now. I don't think that it has completely hit me quite yet.

I am going to "Little Mexico"! I really am excited, I promise. We got the call Saturday night and then called the Hermanas there and totally spoiled it for them. They hadn't gotten their transfer call yet. We are doing a swap. One of the Hermanas is just switching places with me. My new companion will be Hermana Jensen. She came out with my companion Hermana Hunt so she is fresh out of training. I'm super excited to get to know her.

We had another snow storm this last weekend. Our cars were grounded again and church was cancelled which makes it really hard to say goodbye to people so we walked. All day in the snow. Maybe that's not a big deal for most people, but we don't live in our area and we walked from home to our area, all over our area (and I mean all over) and then back to Forest Grove all the way to the stake center on the other side of the city. I'm sure lots of missionaries have walked farther and longer, but when you aren't used to it and there is ice and snow and your name is "Hermana Murphey" . . . it gets a little interesting. We were able to see a lot of people though and I have been able to say goodbye to almost everyone.

Today we have been running all over because we can finally drive again. There is so much to do when you are getting transferred. Also I'm realizing how much stuff you accumulate in 9 months when you are living in one place. I don't have much to email today. I want to get out and say goodbye to everyone.

I'm so grateful for the time I have spent here. For the people I have met and come to love so dearly. You think your heart can't love anymore and then you meet another child of our Heavenly Father. Even though it may not seem like it right now, I am going to meet people there that I will love as much as I love the people here. I just have to trust in our Heavenly Father that He knows so much more than I do. His timing is different than mine, but His is the right time.

I love you all,

Hermana Dickson

This is where I serve. I just live in Forest Grove 

Saying Good-bye to Forest Grove

Soaking wet after walking for miles and miles and miles. 

Last District Meeting together. Three are being transferred.

"This is Anna the woman we have been teaching from Guatemala. I will miss her so much. She taught me how to say 'I love you' in Quiche . . .I don't remember though"

Silly district picture

Monday, January 2, 2017

Feliz año nuevo

Week #42

You know you've been in the same area for a long time when everyone is already planning packing you up for transfers a week before transfer calls.

Happy New Years everyone! I can't believe that it is 2017. If you want time to fly by, then go on a mission. My time is disappearing too quickly.

But, I guess hitting your halfway mark and New Years around the same time isn't so bad. Everyone is making new goals and changes in their lives. I get to look back at the last 9 months at my progress, my mistakes, and my triumphs and decide how I am going to be better, work harder, and love more these next 9 months. I'm ready to watch this next year be filled with new people, new areas and more miracles. 

For my New Years we learned how to make tamales! Our investigator Hermanita Margarita taught us. It was really fun. I really do love Mexican food. Hermana Hunt and I are making too many trips to the tiendas though. One of these days we are going to blow up from all of the pan, and queso, and crema. . . It's a problem. Hey Dad! I finally found where I can get a cow head (lengua - tongue- included)! And it's only 60 dollars.

This week we found out what moisture does to walls and windows. Moho is how it is said in Spanish. Wooh! That was fun.

We had a really wonderful district meeting this week. We all bore our testimonies to each other and it was really powerful. District meetings are inspired. When I got to the mission field I was surprised at how many meeting we have, but throughout my mission I have come to appreciate them. More than appreciate really. They are so needed. We need to come together each week as missionaries to learn from and receive support from each other. I learn new things each week. Sometimes it's discouraging because you see how many faults you have as a missionary, but you can't be perfect at every aspect of missionary work all at once. You go week by week transfer by transfer, and you get better at being a missionary and closer to your Heavenly Father.

We thought that only one of our investigators came to church last Sunday, but we were in a lesson with a family we were teaching and this is how the conversation went (but in Spanish).

Firmen (the dad): So can people who aren't baptized take the Sacrament?
Hermana Hunt: Yes, of course. It is a special time to remember Christ and to learn more of Him through the Spirit. After baptism it is the way we can be cleansed and renew each week the promises that we made at baptism.
Firmen: Well if we come to church, how will we learn if it is in English?
Hermana Dickson: We actually have a congregation in Español.
Firmen: No, it was in English
Hermanas Dickson and Hunt: . . . *connecting the dots*
Hermana Dickson: You came to church!? (quite loudly and embarassingly - as expected because my name is Hermana Dickson and I have no shame)

Yup. We found out that 3 more of our investigators came to church and Hermana Dickson embarassed herself all in one short conversation. We are efficient in this companionship.

They came though! They sat in the foyer and so we never saw them. It was a huge meeting last week because we were combined with an English ward and our translation didn't work out so it was in English, but they came! We invited them to come again this week (and promised it would be in Spanish). They have a baptismal date in February and I am so excited to keep working with them. Lessons are really hard with them because they have so many stories and questions. This last week we had a lesson with tehm and Firmen kept asking the same question over and over enen though we promised him we would answer it in the lesson. I actually pointed my finger at him at one point and said "más adelante!" (hehe). I really do love teaching them though, well I just love teaching general.

Well everyone has already decided where I am going and who is taking my place . . . Transfer calls are this Saturday. I really was fine with being transferred. It would be wonderful to stay here longer, but I also recognize that there are multiple reasons missionaries are transferred. I do need to be transferred. The hard thing is that the Farfán family have been gone for over a month and I just found out that they will be coming back the day after transfers. I never got to say goodbye. I really am looking forward to changes. A part of me just wishes that there was some way that if I do get transferred that I will be able to say goodbye. They will be the hardest to leave. I am so thankful for modern communication though. I will be able to keep in contact after my mission.

I've never really made any New Years Resolutions, but my mission has taught me to make goals and to make plans to fulfill them. I've made some and plan to make more. I want to change this year. And the next year, and the next. It's called repentance and becoming more like Christ. We can't ever stop changing if we really want to fulfill our purpose here. That's what "Enduring to the End" means. I'll just finish off with this quote from the talk we read in District meeting this week.

"Never stop praying! In your heart or in your closets. Never stop loving! Never stop hoping and striving to live up to your potential. Because it is when we think we need Him least that we indeed need Him the most. It's in the hour of our confidence and comfort we lose our footing. It's when we think we are safe - when we let Satan in. For until you stand face to face with your maker, the work is not done, the war is not won. You are still fighting for your life and those you steward."

I love you all,

Hermana Dickson

New Years Tamales

Hermana Dickson's Tamales

Hermana Hunt, Hermanita Margarita, Hermana Dickson - Tres Amigas

Feliz año nuevo