Sunday, December 7, 2014

Feliz Día del Gracias! I can't believe it's Thanksgiving! It definitely doesn't feel like it here! Obviously it's not a holiday they celebrate, but it's super sunny outside, humid, flowers in bloom, we are eating summer grub. It just feels like summer. You know #justanotherdayinparadise ;). With that being said today is the day of many lasts before I start many first experiences all over again! So today is my last P-day which means last temple trip at the CCM, last Pday together with my companions, as a district, and last letter you'll get from me ever (okay just the CCM).  I know I say this a lot, and I'm sure that I'll be saying this throughout my whole mission, but seriously where has the time GONE?! I remember like it was yesterday that I got off the plane, told by these people at the airport to hop a ride in their van with all of our stuff to the CCM, assigned companions, teaching our very first investigator in Spanish, and being assigned to bear my testimony the first Sunday there.  It's been an amazing experience so far and I can't wait to make more memories here!
Okay, lets start with last week. So last Friday we got to go out on splits with the Hermana's out in the Santo Domingo Oeste Mission. District Alma and Benjamin squished into this van and went to the church building a couple miles from here. From there we met up with the missionaries, divided up and then my companion and I (I can't remember her name at the moment, but I'll get back to you on that) left for the metro. She's from DR Este, speaks some English, and is a super amazing missionary. We were around the temple area, University, and Park which I was kinda disappointed haha but it was a good start. She told us we would be in the wealthy areas where a lot of business people worked. For the most part we were in what would probably be equivalent to gated communities but it was just separate gated apartment buildings. A couple appointments fell through with investigators which she said is common in these areas due to the fact that we were in the wealthier part of the city a lot of people (not all) have the mentality that they are exempt from religion (to put it nicely). So with the time we went to the Park (literally right across the street from the CCM (I know I was way deep in the city) inviting people to church on Sunday. For most of our time we visited less active. Which I have to say was probably my favorite part of the whole experience. Less actives are just as important as those who haven't heard the gospel. One lady we visited who was less active had a pretty bad accident where she fell down the stairs and hurt her ankle really bad. So we sat with her, sang a hymn, shared a scripture, and just listened. Which I think is what she really needed, just a friend and someone to listen to her. My companion was amazing though she really taught me through her example how important it is to just be a friend. She was very good at listening to the things she was struggling with, asked her about her foot, helped her put her sock back on (which for me that truly is friendship status because you know I'm not a feet person), and was just there to help in any way possible. If I could be half the missionary she was I'd be happy. Then after that we walked back to the metro, bought peanuts from a Haitian vendor, and made it back to the church building where I met up with my District again. We each had very different stories and experiences, so that was fun to hear. Like I said the area I was in was considered by my companion a wealthy area, which to me seemed like Alexander Apartment status up at BYUI. Hermana Bradford was in the wealthier part as well. For everyone else they were in much more humble circumstances. But all in all it was amazing. I'm glad it was good because that's what I'm going to be doing for the next 17 months haha! 
Okay so back to today, we had the opportunity to hear from Elder Bednar at a live Devotional. And it was amazing! It was a question and answer so we were able to email him our questions and then he would respond. But, it was all the MTC's around the world. There's so much that we talked about in the devo, but I'll highlight the points that I liked. I asked him how we could get members excited about missionary work and have them play an active role. There was a similar question that was asked and a quote that stuck out to me is that we have 18 months to work, serve, and bring others to Christ and will have the rest of our lives to think about it. Um, no pressure haha. But, I will eventually get set apart and when that day comes I'm going to be a member missionary again. And when that happens I hope I'm that member that actively participates in whatever calling I'm given, and whatever else the Lord asks of me. Second point, there was a Senior couple that asked for comfort and advice on what to do when your away from loved ones on Holidays. He said that it's good to be away for a season, and then he said again just a season. We are only going to be gone for a little bit. Then he said that our absence for that little bit will impact and bless those who are in our lives more than they would if we were there. And it will also bless the generations hereafter. 
It's almost time for me to go, but since it's Thanksgiving I want to share why I'm sooo grateful for all of you. Mom and dad: I love you SO much. Like you said before when I was a stubborn teenager that I'm going to look back and say "you're right". I haven't said it yet, but I will now you're right about some things (no everything) :). Kellie: You're the oldest, but that doesn't make you the wisest haha jk. No we are two peas in a pod and I'm grateful for the example that you've been to all of us. You've kept us in line. And you're super good at inhaling food so you've taught us survival of the fittest really well ;) haha jk. I love you so much too. Lonnie: You're the favorite because your paranoid ;). Okay there are many ones in the family and you are just that one. I'm grateful for your example. You set the bar for me and I'm so glad you served a mission. You've helped me so much by your example. Lindsey: You're paranoid too, but not as bad. haha Maybe that's why you and Lonnie are twins. Although you are my older sister you let me tease you like a little sister, and you let me do you hair haha. I'm so grateful you in the family because your my go to when I have a problem or question (not that I don't ask everyone else cause I do), we are a lot a like and I'm so grateful you were there to "bail me out of jail" when I got my wisdom teeth out. I'm grateful all of the memories we've had and I can't wait to make more :). CASEY: You are the most annoying, nasty, pain in the butt kid I have EVER MET. But we torment each other so I guess we are even. I love you a little as well :) (Okay a lot) I'm so grateful for the memories we have to and can't wait to make more crazy ones. I love to laugh and both you and Lindsey (and the rest of you too) help me do that every day. I'm so glad we have just fun little memories of us taking a couple classes together at BYUI. I mean how many people can say they took a class with their brother? COREY: You seriously are the best even if you don't think so! You get more credit than you think. We get along in so many ways that you have NO IDEA. All of the siblings point it out ALL THE TIME. We know what we want in life and I know that when you set your mind to it you always get it. We both LOVE laughing sometimes over the dumbest things. We both love country music (oh no wait that's Kristie and I haha) but you'll get there soon. I can't wait to get back and make many more memories. I don't say it a lot to any of you, and especially you, but I really do love you. I can't wait to see my little niece and I need you to take lots and lots of pictures of her when she gets here. And maybe some of Oakly and Dessy too. I mean you could throw a selfie or two in of you and Kristie ;) haha. 
Okay I'm so grateful for all of you, thanks for being who you are always
con amor
Hermana Van Woerkom 

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