Tuesday, February 17, 2015

News 9


        Mondays don't come often enough! I love getting to hear from you all and hear that you're doing okay. They also never give me enough time to give really good replies or to send you all the news about what's going on out here. I think we need to talk to President Monson about this ;).
        Well this week has really tested my patience. Our house has decided to have a mind of it's own because our lights turn on and off when ever they feel like it. We'll be in the kitchen making dinner and the lights will turn off, so we have to wiggle the light switch a couple times before the light will come back on. We've tried changing the light bulb and everything, but that didn't help. Then last night the light kept coming back on even though the switch was down... weird. Also my companion and I have been having an interesting(?) time with each other. We are definitely Not best friends. And we both know that. Sometimes she will be very short with me and I have to grit my teeth and take it. And sometimes I even get that way with her too. I still have about 6 or 7 weeks left until I'll be done with training, and then I will most likely receive a new companion. So hopefully we figure out our differences by then or that we can just hold out and keep our peace with each other until one of us gets transferred. We do have some good times though, not every minute with each other is awful. When she lets loose and gets goofy in the car or at home we really have fun joking and laughing together. Sometimes we will sing really loud and off tune in the car, or we'll randomly stop to take pictures with each other. Also we are making friends with people in the ward, and we always have fun and get along when we are with them. Also, the other day we had been having a REALLY bad day and people had been especially mean to us, so when we got home I started cooking dinner, and Sister Villegas decided to make a fort! Yes a fort. She rearranged the furniture and brought out blankets and pillows. So we ate our dinner and watched "Legacy" in our fort. :)
        Last Preparation day a less active family (The Flippos) took us and another set of sisters, out ice skating! It was SO much fun!!! I actually was getting pretty good at it by the time we left. But I did fall... a lot. I also took Sister Villegas down with me one time, that was pretty funny :). And since it was a Monday, we were the only ones there besides one other guy. Even though it was really fun I have been paying for it since then. I pulled a muscle or something in my shoulder trying to catch myself one of the times I feel. I bruised my tailbone pretty good. And we thought I had broken my hand, because it was bruised really and it hurt to move it. But I iced it and it feels okay now so I guess it's fine :).
        I've also decided that I'm going a bit more crazy each day. This whole last week I've gone crazy every time I've seen a dog. I'll sit there and pet them at dinner appointments and hold them in my lap during member lessons. Heck I even pet a random dog that came running up to us when we got out of the car. I miss having pets. One of the members here really likes dogs, especially Labradors, so we spent a good 15 minutes talking dog talk and I loved it! :)
        The people that we get to work with and teach are really starting to love and trust us more. They all want to spend our P-days with us and have fun with us. There is one in particular who has decided to "adopt" me. Her name is Renaye, and she is crazy! She is a recent convert and is  a super crazy black lady :). She has renamed me "Jan" off of the Brady Bunch. And she cooks us food every time we go to her house, she also makes us these little bead friendship bracelets. They also get after us if we don't wear gloves, a hat, a coat and a scarf everywhere we go. So we keep those in the car at all times to put on right before any lesson with her. We had told her a story the other day about some people who had been incredibly rude to us. She was very upset that anyone would be mean to us, so she made us come to her house, and she cooked us lunch and cried about how we were just so nice that no one should ever be mean to us. She's awesome :).
        There are also people here that are not nice to us at all. We went to the house of a family that hadn't been to church in a while, and when they answered the door they blew up at us big time! They started yelling at us and told us they hate the Mormons and if we were Mormon they wanted us to leave. The husband was screaming at us and I thought for sure that he would come out of the house, I was really scared. But Sister Villegas kept trying to talk to them and told them that we could help them get their records removed, but they wouldn't listen, so finally we left. It sucks how many people there are like that here.
         Friday we didn't get to do much of anything. We had a zone conference where we all got in trouble for the way we use planners, so they tried to teach us the proper way to do it. We were also informed that a new rule in the mission is that we can no longer use a pen with certain things. The rules here are weird. But when the meeting was over we went out to lunch, and that was a bad idea. I either got food poisoning or a 24 hour stomach bug thing, because we barely made it home in time for me to through up. So we ended up spending the rest of the day in the apartment, and that sucks because the things I would normally do at home, like watch movies, I can't do out here. But by the next day I was feeling better, so we were able to go back to work.
        We have this cool Sister Training Conference thing coming up on Tuesday. I have no idea what it is for or what we will be doing, but it's different from what we normally do so I'm excited for it. We also have to host some Sisters from North Carolina, but it will only be for a day and night.
        Well I'm out of time, I wish I could tell you more... maybe next time. I love you all and hope everything is going good at home and that you have a really fun Valentines day!
        Sister (Amanda) MacKay

Monday, February 16, 2015

News 8

My Family!!!

        I can not believe how long January was! I was still in the MTC at the beginning of January and then I came to Virginia, got a new companion, learned how to talk to people I don't know, had run ins with drunk people, watched a drug deal happen, and had all kinds of crazy experiences! I can't even imagine with this next month has in store.
        My companion and I did end up going back to see the guy that was high. (His name is Mike) We knocked on the door and a friend of his answered and was so stoned he couldn't hardly stand, and he couldn't talk clearly so we had NO idea what he was trying to say to us. Eventually he left and got Mike. Mike came to the door in only his underwear and asked if we could just have the lesson inside since it was snowing outside. We told him he had to go put on clothes because we had to have the lesson outside (there were no women inside so we aren't aloud to go in). He came outside and we talked for just a minute. When we asked him why he wanted to meet with us, he told us that he wanted a relationship with God. Then we asked why he wanted a relationship with God and he FREAKED out! He was so offended that we "thought he was stupid" and we would ask that question. He started cussing at us and sent us on our way. He followed us all the way through his yard and still cursing and cussing at us. Needless to say, we are not planning on going back to help him.
        Also, funny fact about Smithfield, they have a weird thing for pigs. Yes.. pigs. There is a packing plant for pigs here and supposedly it is the BEST pig meat in the world. So all throughout the town there are pig statues and every store has little pig figurines, they sell pig T-shirts. People will buy and keep little pig decorations in their yards and in their houses. Super weird. But because there is a pig packing plant here, there is also a weird smell. Mondays are when it is at it's worst because that is the day where they burn the parts of pig that they can't use. So it always smells like dog food really strongly every Monday.
        The weather, as I've said before, is really weird. At the beginning of this week it was so cold and would snow sometimes. The snow never sticks though, so that sucks.
        My mission is a very strict mission! I'm not aloud to say P-day, I have to say preparation day. We are not aloud to be sarcastic... at all. We are also not aloud to be friends with the Elders. I really don't understand that last rule. It makes meetings really awkward because we're never sure how to act around each other. But I guess there is a reason to it and I'll eventually be okay with that rule.
        I went on my first Exchange this week. I got to go to Great Bridge and spent 2 days with one of my Sister Training Leaders. She was really quiet so it was a little awkward. She was so excited because they have a bunch of investigators and she wanted to show me how to teach a progressing investigator and what "real and busy" missionary work is like. Well... all of the appointments that she had for my time with her fell through. So I never got to teach a lesson on our exchange. She was really upset by that. The best part about exchanges though, was that I got a little homesick for my companion and for My mission. I hadn't realized how comfortable I had become there until I wasn't there anymore. :)
        My companion calls me her little baby hellion, because we are not "robot" missionaries. When ever I crack a joke or try to have a good time, she laughs and says, "I'm so glad you're a real person and not a robot." I guess the fact that I've held onto my personality makes me a real person/hellion.
        I GOT TO SEE A HEDGEHOG! How cool is that?!?!?! We went knocking on doors of inactive members and this one lady let us in. She isn't a member but her husband is an inactive. She made friends with us right away and wanted to show us her pet hedgehog! I will send a picture of it because is was so weird and awesome.
        A lot of our less actives and non members that we have to see are pretty rude to us. So we decided that would bake cookies and use that to get into people's houses... IT WORKED! People are so much nicer to us when we have goodies, along with the word of God ;) to offer them. So we spend any free time baking cookies now.
       Also, it seems like my companion and I are Always sick. The mission nurse told us that it is so hard to heal and recover when you're on a mission because there is so much stress. Well it's true. I don't have the same cold I had when I got here but my asthma makes things so difficult. The moisture in the air makes it hard to breath any way and then add asthma to that and it makes it awful. I'm always coughing and out of breath. I take my inhaler almost every day to every other day. I'm not sure if that is healthy so I'm trying to use it as infrequently as possible. My companion is ALWAYS sick, She coughs and coughs and sometimes can't catch her breath, so I'm trying to convince her to talk to the mission nurse, but she doesn't want to. So cross your fingers that my companion doesn't die from not being able to breath.
        Every day we check the mail... sometimes we do this several times throughout the day. We also talk to our mailbox.  Whenever it comes up empty, we warn it that it only has more chance to redeem itself. Then if we don't receive any mail that day we beat the mailbox. We kick it and yell at it, anyone watching probably thinks we're crazy... maybe we are.
        Remember how I told you that the elders in our area got in a car accident? Well One of them got a really bad concussion and his companion also got a concussion and a broken ankle. The one driving the car is no longer aloud to drive a car for the rest of his mission, even though the accident wasn't his fault. So he has been transferred to a bike riding part of the mission. His companion is having a very difficult time recovering (the stress makes it hard to heal) So he is staying with a senior missionary couple while he decides if he can finish his mission or not. He has only been out 6 weeks longer then me.
        The humidity here has made having long hair very obnoxious. So my companion and I are thinking about getting our hair cut short... What are your opinions on this? I was thinking of an A-line? cut, but doing it shoulder length... maybe.
        Remember how I told you guys, at the beginning of my time in Virginia, that there were two elders that got shot and one got killed about thirty minutes from where I live? Well the sisters here are trying to get president Baker to open up that same area for sister missionaries! They're insane! I don't want to have the chance to serve there. The elders that do serve there have insane stories about that place. They say that sometimes they will be in the middle of a lesson and some one will shoot through the windows! Or they will hear gun shots outside and every one in the house will lay down on the floor and just finish the lesson down there. So let's hope that president does NOT allow this place to open up for sister missionaries. (this place is called the "Numbered Streets")
        A small miracle I have experienced since coming on my mission is that I have been able to eat any food that people give me. Some of the people here like to serve us really weird and gross things. I have been able to eat all of the food they give me, I'm so proud of myself! :) As missionaries we have to eat ALL the food on our plate, so I can't pick and choose what to eat and a lot of times I can't even choose how much to eat because they dish it out for me. So this has been so awesome that I have been able to do this without throwing up :).
         I love you all very much and miss you very much too. I get so excited when the end of the week comes around because I know I will get to read your e-mails and write to you about my crazy life.
         I love you!!! <3
        Your favorite missionary daughter
        Sister (Amanda) MacKay
        P.S. You don't have to worry about sending my stamps after all, the money I get for groceries also pays for stamps.
       I do have a few things I would like for you to send me in my next package...
            1. Ephraim's Rescue. I think I might have already asked Kirstie for this, but I can't remember.  We aren't aloud to watch money movies out here, and that is one of the few, but we don't own it.
            2. The Living Scripture dvds, we are also aloud and encouraged to watch those.
            3.My colored pens. They should be in my room in that awesome little white thingy doodad
            4. Music, any music that invites the spirit I am aloud to listen to. I especially want the one by Nashville Tribute "My Call To Serve". So pretty much anything my Nashville Tribute that you think I might like, and any other music that brings the spirit.
      I know you can't send all of this at once, but these are things that I need and some things I want.... thank you :)

News 7


        I really don't have many interesting things to share with you all this time. Sorry. We no longer have any progressing investigators, so Sister Villegas and I spend all our time tracting. Every now and again we do get to teach some recent converts and less actives, but they have lives and it's hard to convince them to meet with us regularly. So we have made a goal to visit EVERY SINGLE person in our ward.

        The weather here is really weird. It will be super cloudy and cold one minute and then it will be clear, sunny and warm the next. So I'm never sure how to dress for the day. The other day when we went out tracting, it had been so warm. So I didn't wear my coat when we left. But then by the time we arrived at the area that we wanted to tract, the weather was no longer nice. It was cold, windy and starting to hail. I now know better and take my coat every time, even when it's warm. And another fun thing that the weather does is... ruins my hair! I will straighten it and make it look nice every morning, and then by the end of the day it is wavy and frizzy. Bleh.

        We did meet one crazy person this week. We knocked on his door and he came out smiling and recognized us as missionaries. He told us that he knows Joseph Smith personally because he lives a couple houses away. We tried explaining it to him, but he wasn't listening. He would tell us that he needed to grab something from the car then he would run into the front yard, look around, and come back. He was very high. He kept talking to people... that weren't there. He would look at us but wouldn't really see us. It was so weird. He said he really liked our church and loved the lessons that missionaries taught him in the past. He said he had tried, with his last missionaries, to give up doing drugs and selling drugs but that it hadn't worked out. So we are trying to decide if we should go back and teach him again or not.

        I had my first real interview with my mission president, President Baker, the other day. He is a funny old man. He's like a walking dictionary. He always uses these really big words that I've never heard before. During the interview we were talking about my homesickness, and my "mental health/stability," and how I was dealing with everything. Then he asks me, "Did you make the right decision in choosing to serve a mission?" Ugh! Why would he ask me that? I was finally getting used to the idea of being a missionary, and then he wants me to contemplate it all over again. Oh well, I'll figure it out.

        I can't figure out my companion. There are some days were she and I work very smoothly with each other. Where we can joke and have a good time, when we split the teaching evenly. And then there are days where everything I do seems to upset her, and she takes over the teaching completely. I try and be patient. If we weren't companions we are both the type of personality that would not be friends in the real world. She isn't a terrible person though. We work. She's just kind of dramatic and I don't always know how to handle her.

        And I also wanted to let everyone that sent me those awesome e-mails, notes and letters of encouragement over the last week. I loved everything that you guys had to say. And it was all very helpful advice. I don't have enough time to respond to the e-mails, but I will get back on the letters. Thank you all for making me feel so loved!!! And thank you so much for the package! I loved it. My companion and I have already gone through almost all the food, and I love having a nice pillow. I also loved the Christmas present ;).

        I wish I had more to say. I feel like this e-mail is so much shorter then the others, but there just isn't much going on right now. We haven't been being fed by the members this week, so I don't even have funny stories about them. We did get to do some service though. A less active in our ward is trying to sell a house. So we went over there for 3 hours and raked the entire yard. That was pretty fun. :)

        I love you all and love hearing from you! I hope everything is going good at home. I love picturing the cat getting fat, you might have to send me a picture of that :).


        Sister (Amanda) MacKay

        P.S. I may need more stamps in the near future, so when you send the next package (whenever that may be) would you please include some stamps?

News 6

Hello Family!!!

        I have officially survived my first month as a missionary!!! Woohoo!!! It feels like it has been SO much longer then a month, and yet I still feel like I know nothing. So much has happened and changed!
        As far as work as a missionary is going... we are having zero success. We have three investigators right now, but two of them are more concerned about trying to convert us to their religion then to listening to us. So we will most likely have to drop them. We do have one other lady that we are teaching. Her name is Elaine. She has LDS neighbors that she is very close to and so she agreed to let us come and teach her. I think we intimidate her though, she hasn't allowed us to see her at all this last week, so we will see if we get to continue teaching her. So right now we have no one letting us teach them. But we have hope that with the constant tracting and asking for referrals that we might be able to find some one who is open and willing to let us help them towards conversion.
        We do get to do a little bit of teaching though. As missionaries we are also required to teach less active members and recent converts. They are usually nice to us, but they are so frustrating to work with! They are nice and want to be our friends, but they don't seem to take us seriously as missionaries. When we try and have them sit and listen to us share a message with them, or have them help us make a plan for them to become active again, or a plan to overcome things that are not aloud... they wont listen. They will sit there long enough for us to read a scripture or to present a plan, and then they want to tell us about their week, about a movie or a game, or about their families. So that has been something that we are trying to work on.
        Apparently the last Sister missionary who served here was very casual as a missionary. (Because it was her last transfer and she was getting ready to go home) So instead of trying to teach people, she would play games with them and just be their friends. So trying to undo that idea of missionaries has been tough. She also offended a lot of people, and that's why some of the members and less actives aren't always willing to see us. Sister Villegas says that people have been so much nicer since I've come, so let's hope I can keep from offending any of them so that we can have more success.
        So the other day the coolest thing happened! We had frozen rain!!! I'm not really sure how that works, but everything was covered in this huge sheet of ice! We also don't have an ice scraper for the car, so we had to beat the ice off with wooden spoons from the house! It was great! Sister Villegas didn't like the ice storm. She thought it was scary, but I loved it, I wish we got those in Arizona.
        Now I need to tell you about some of the insane, crazy and down right ridiculous people that we encounter Every Single day here. The first one we met while we were tracting through an apartment complex. We knocked on her door and she let us in. When we told her we were Mormon, she went nuts. She started saying stuff like, "Oh I know about your church. You are all so weird. You have all these crazy rules and you don't like sinners." We tried explaining to her how no one is perfect, and how the rules are there to help us. But then she said, "I hate your rules about chastity. I'm a fornicator and I love to fornicate." Then she started telling us about all her kids and how they all had different dads. She told us she could never be a part of our church because she loves sin, and wouldn't be willing to stop sleeping around. And get this, while we were talking to her, her phone starts ringing. She answered it and it was her lawyer calling about a DNA test for her newest baby. When she got off the phone she told us, "I can't understand why my boyfriend insists that I do these tests." But at the end of our visit she did invite us to come back and teach her more about "Mormonism." So we'll see what comes of that.
        The next crazy person was a guy. We were tracting (again) in another apartment complex and as we were walking back to our car, this black guy starts hollering at us telling us to stop so he could talk to us. He was holding this big case of beer, but we still stopped to talk with him. Bad idea. He told us about how he loves God and how he wanted us to quote some scripture to him. We kept telling him that we could share a message of the gospel with him, but he didn't want to hear us. Then he threw his hands up in the air and started praying that God would make us quote scripture to him. So Sister Villegas started quoting the First Vision to him. He didn't like that, he started telling us how we shouldn't let devils get to us. Then he started flirting with us. He kept saying how pretty we were and said, "I'm positive that your church in pimping you out. That the reason they sent the two of you out here is because you're beautiful and people will respond to that." That made Sister Villegas mad. And we decided it was definitely time to go. So she shook his hand and told him it was nice meeting him. Then when I went to shake his hand he grabbed me in a HUG INSTEAD! And he smelt so bad, he must have been super drunk. As we were walking (very very quickly walking) away he starts yelling after us asking when were we going to marry him.
        Sister Villegas carries pepper spray with her and after meeting some of the people we meet I think I might eventually want some as well. We are in the country, but a lot of the places we have to tract are pretty "ghetto."
        So on Friday, we were at a members house for dinner and they got a call saying that the Elders from our area had just been in a bad car accident! They had been at an intersection and got T-boned by another car. They both had whip lash and concussions, and one of the Elders (Elder Avendonio*) has a broken leg. He has only been out of the MTC for 6 weeks. Usually I guess they send missionaries home when that happens, but he is so determined to stay out here, I think they might let him. He is staying at the mission home for now though. And on that same day we had 3 other car accidents happen to missionaries in our mission. So that was a pretty rotten day.
        I'm surprised that we haven't been in a car accident yet. I'm not allowed to drive since I'm still in training. And my companion hates driving and isn't very good at it. She is from Utah and is exactly the kind of "Utah driver" that Todd loves so much.
        Also, yesterday was Sister Villegas' 20th birthday!!! A friend of hers sent me a package full of birthday things to decorate the apartment with. So I woke up early yesterday morning to decorate before Sister Villegas came out of the room. He old training companion got permission from our mission president to come out and spend the day with us for her birthday. Sister Villegas loved it so much. She did have a tough day though. Being away from home for her birthday made her crazy home sick. She had  a melt down at the end of the day and started crying to me and telling me that she just wanted to go home. That was hard, but eventually it got worked through.
        By the way... the South is going to make me fat! These people really know how to cook! We have fried chicken quite often. Almost everything is fried, everything is served with butter. And to make it even better... one morning each week for exercise, Sister Villegas and I walk two blocks to a donut shop and buy donuts for our exercise.
        My Companion Talk In Her Sleep!!! She doesn't just moan a little here and there. She will have full on conversations... IN HER SLEEP! She will talk ALL night long. It's pretty...interesting? I guess. And another thing that makes the nights super wonderful, I've started falling out of bed at night. The sheets they gave me are pretty slick, they're kind of plastic'y'. The other night when I fell out of bed, I smacked my head on the night stand on my way down. So that gave me a lovely headache for the most part of the day. I finally took myself off the sleeping pills, even though the mission nurse still wants me on them. I haven't been able to sleep through the night any more even with the pills, so I figured I wouldn't use them if they were no longer helping.
        I have been doing better with the whole homesick situation. I still struggle and have to fight it every day, but I'm learning. I've been told that it will never go away, it will get Easier, but it wont ever go away. Thank you all for the letters of encouragement that you sent me. It was all things that I needed to hear. I miss you all so much and hope everything is going good back at home. I love you and my companion and I pray for you guys every day.
        Sister (Amanda) MacKay
        P.s. I can't remember most of what I already asked you to send me. I was hoping you could send me a list of birthdays and events so that I could put them on my calendar and send cards or e-mails for stuff like that.
        Thank you!!! <3