Sister Emily Mangum is a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, serving in the New Mexico Albuquerque Mission.

December 18, 2013

Winter Weather

Hi Mom and Dad!

It’s been a crazy week, but a good week.  The time seems to be going by faster and faster.  I can’t believe that I’m almost already 3 months into my mission. Its mind blowing.   How is it going?  It’s crazy here, I can’t believe that it’s almost Christmas already!  I’m going to try and get my package mailed off today, so I hope it get there before Tuesday. But tonight we have exchanges, so I’m not sure it will get done.  But it will be coming at some point in time :)

SNOW!!!!   Sister Smith and Sister Mangum in Belen

At our home in Belen

This week has been good. It’s been a long week, but it’s been good.  Less than a week until Christmas!
 We did a lot of service this week.  Even though it was in the 20's almost all week, we spent most of it outside pulling weeds and building fences and cattle shelters. We had to build a pen and a house for some baby cows this week, it was awesome!  All the babies have their own pen.  They are so cute.

So Cute!
Haha!  That’s one of the baby dairy cows.  

Haha, yes I’m going to be able to run my own farm when I get home.  Llamas are also a very common pet here. So cute! I really want a horse now and a gun.  Funny what living in the middle of nowhere will do to you :)

It snowed this past week, which is super unusual for New Mexico.  Everybody was freaking out! It was fun though, because we had another set of Sisters staying with us for the night!  Don’t worry I’m warm enough, it makes me work harder, to keep warm.

We also had zone conference this week. That was interesting.  It was great to see a bunch of the people i was in the MTC with and to hear from the seventy that was there.  He had some really good points about member missionary work.  Apparently the number of missionaries has nearly doubled in the past year, but the number of baptisms hasn't increased.  Then he made a very good point about how it’s the members that are the factor that increases baptisms, not the missionaries.  It was really good, I was kind of sad we had to leave early. We had a ward Christmas party that night and some of the investigators were supposed to be coming. All of ours flaked (as usual) but the elders had a couple there.  It was ok. 

 It’s really interesting being in a ward that isn’t your own.  But I love being a missionary at Christmas time.  Even if my companion hates Christmas and won’t let me listen to Christmas music.

Thank you for the package and presents!  I got one from Grandma and I got one that I think was from the Relief society and I got one from Dad.  I also got Christmas cards from Angie and Katherine. The Johnson kids are all so big!   And Abby looks like she is 20 in their Christmas photo.  The chocolate was super good! And I used the DVD you made me! It’s awesome!  My district loves the DVDs with the other Mormon messages.  

I also got a package from the Weavers! They did 12 days of Christmas for me!  It is super sweet of them!  

The package from the Ward was a bunch of cards, most of the names I didn’t recognize. And there were some gifts. Some lotion and shower gel, and candy and some Walmart gift cards, which are awesome!  Maybe it was from the young women. There was a gift from Emily Hatfield and a letter from Holly. I also got the cutest letter from Warrens buddies.  It was from Gabe and Eli Montoya and one of his other Minecraft friends!  It is super cute!

We had an interesting lesson this week. One of our super solid investigators, well, ok, our only even sort of solid investigator totally freaked out when we taught the plan of salvation.  It was really weird.  Whoever was filling out the teaching record before i got here lied.  It said that she had been taught everything, but apparently not.  She freaked out over the kingdoms of glory. Then she didn’t come to church even though she said she would. It was very sad.  She said she would pray about it and I tried to explain that God loves all his children and doesn’t want them to burn and she will progress farther than those who don’t try, but it just seemed go in one ear and out the other. Then my companion wasn’t even listening to her questions and just kept making it even more confusing.  It was kind of terrible.

It’s ok though. Tonight is exchanges, so I’m a little nervous.  I’m going to another area instead of staying this time, so it should be ok. But we will see.

What is your Skype address?  Here is what i understand of the plan on Christmas:
We have a breakfast at 9 probably won’t be out of there until 11- 11:30 ish.
Then all 4 of us are going to the church to call or Skype.  We each get 40 minutes, so it could be anywhere from 12 to 3:30 ish (New Mexico time)
If I decide to Skype, I’ll call to get it set up right before. :)

Love you
EM

December 10, 2013

I love Christmas!

Hey Mom and Dad!

How are you?  It’s been an interesting week.  Definitely have had some experiences this week that I will never forget :)  It makes me a lot more grateful for the protection of the lord, and the knowledge I have of the gospel and about what comes after this life. Also, I have been super stressed when it comes to teaching appointments, but the holidays are coming soon, so that will help a little bit.

It is fun to see all the Christmas stuff around town and in people's homes.  It really puts me in the Christmas spirit and is a good reminder of why I am a missionary.  I am sure I will miss the family but I am sure that Christmas will be special here in New Mexico as well.

Dad before I left you told me there would be days like these.  :)  You also told me there would be companions I would struggle with.  :)  Lucky me!?

As a new missionary I don’t really feel like I know what I’m doing yet or what to say.  My companion is supposed to be training me, but as new as she is I don’t feel like she really knows what she is doing yet either. 

Like last night, we had a dinner lesson. The mom is recently baptized and she has good potential, and I feel like I could really relate to her, because our personalities are really similar and some of her main issues are stuff that I struggled with when I was younger. But during our discussion everyone was talking and loud and obnoxious, and you know me, I have a really hard time cutting in and talking.  Then during the lesson, my companion just turns to me and says "Teach this..." And I freaked out.  Yeah, it kind of caught me by surprise.

I really like my mission president. He is very nice.  It was funny everyone freaked out when he walked into Zone training last week.  I was going to talk to him then, but then one of the other sisters was having a huge emotional breakdown so he was dealing with her.  I have spoken with my district leader several times and he is really supportive.  He suggested I start leading the companionship like a senior companion.  Not sure that helps the stress level but I appreciate his support.

All I can do is keep pushing forward. Sigh.  And it’s almost Christmas! So I’ll be okay!

We have been doing some Christmas stuff here as well.  On Wednesday we had a ward Christmas party invite activity. Apparently it was the Sister before me that set it up, so it all got dumped on me and my companion. Basically the ward has a list of 100 in-actives that are recent in-actives or have potential, so they had us divide up the list and make 20 routes and had the ward deliver cookies and Christmas party invites. Dad, I don't know what it was like in Guatemala, but here most of finding in-actives involves driving for hours in circles only to find out that the house is empty, the address doesn't exist, or that the people have a big mean dog with a locked fence. So that was interesting.  I’d say, probably about half got delivered.  So we got dumped with the rest of the names and cookies. Too many cookies and nonexistent houses. But that night was interesting. The Elders and us and a couple young women went up to the mesa and got lost, so that was entertaining.

Thank you so much for downloading some new Mormon Messages for me! I'll have to ask around about which ones are good, but not on the DVDs so I know which ones to request :)  My companion really wants one by Elder Holland called a testimony of the Book of Mormon, and my district leader keeps talking about one about climbing mountains.

Do either of you have any ideas for a talk I have to give on the holy ghost at a baptism?  The baptism is for twin girls who are 18 that the Elders have been teaching.  They’ve been taking the lessons for a while now, but their grandma wouldn’t let them get baptized until they turned 18.  So they are getting baptized on the 21. They are super sweet!  We got to go to a couple lessons. I really don’t know why they asked me to speak, I’ve never really talked to them. But whatever, it’s only 5 minutes. But I want it to be really good but also really simple :)

Yay more letters and packages!  That makes me really happy. The best part of the average missionary day is getting mail. Occasionally there are really good days, but most days are just sort of blagh. :)

Thank you for the packages I already have and those you said are still coming.  Something that I would really love for Christmas, if you could manage it would be some things to help teach.  Like the children's Book of Mormon or anything creative that you can think of :)  We are always looking for cool things to help teach kids and people who are having a hard time understanding.

So, on Christmas do you want to Skype or just call? We might be able to Skype around 11-1 ish, if the church's Skype works.

Another question. What do you want for Christmas?  I got some NM t shirts, but I wasn’t sure if you wanted one or not, or I could just send some NM style food, you do like spicy stuff, right?

Thank you for all of your love and prayers of support! Contrary to my comments of frustration, I am really happy and know that I am where I should be, a missionary and serving her in New Mexico.  I really am blessed to have the gospel as such a strong part of my life.  It has changed my life and I hope it can change other's lives as I share it with them.

Love you!

Em

December 3, 2013

Thanksgiving

November 25 Letter

Hey Mom & Dad!

Surprise, since its Thanksgiving and transfer week, we got to have p-day on Monday instead of Tuesday. It’s just for this week though. 

This week has been pretty good, busy but good.  Just a lot of the same. :)

How is it in Texas? Having fun?

How’s life at home?  It’s really cold here.  It snowed yesterday and today, and apparently it never ever snows here.  So church was cancelled after sacrament meeting. Just my luck, because I was speaking. I had to speak on President Monson’s talk "I will not fail thee nor forsake thee." Grandma saved me when I had to speak.  She sent me some talks and one was perfect for my speaking assignment.

The day before we had been at the Ward Mission leaders house helping him with some stuff and all of his kids were saying if they got snow that church would be cancelled, and it was, but not until after I had to speak.

Teaching lessons and doing service is tiring, but it’s a good tiring.  Feel like I could just lay down and go to sleep right now.  

Missionary life is tiring and a little stressful.  Well, it’s not that anything is specifically stressful.  Just everything is a little stressful and it just adds up such as:

Not surprising, I don’t like contacting or tracting but we have to do it and so I do try to do it.  However, my companion won’t do it because she doesn’t like to do it either.  So we only get 3 new contacts for the week, then the District Leader gets in trouble with the Zone Leaders.

Also our investigators won’t come to church because it is too early, and they won’t stop doing drugs, and I don’t know what to teach and my companion doesn’t seem to know what she’s doing either, and she won’t stop flirting, which is annoying and a billion other little things.

It’s all very tiring.  Most of the time a very good tiring and contrary to my complaining I still love being a missionary.  I can certainly see why they worry about depression and forgetting about the world outside of missionary work.  You don’t need to add that stress to an already busy life.

Yes, we now have Thanksgiving dinner.  We kept being asked if we had dinner and at the time we didn't, so we would say no.  Now we have like 3 dinners.  All I really want to do though is nap. :)

For P-day today we are going into town to some stores with the Elders looking for New Mexico Christmas presents :)

I get to stay in Belen for at least another transfer.  Almost all of the missionaries in my district are staying.

I got the oranges! They are great! Thank you! The box was huge!!! There were so many oranges in that box :)

Love you!

Em



December 3 Letter

Hi Mom & Dad!

Sounds like your Thanksgiving was fun! My Thanksgiving was pretty good.  We did end up having 3 dinners, which was a bit much, but it was fun getting to know the members of the ward.

The ward here is doing a cookie invite thing where we are splitting into groups and going around to in-actives to deliver invites/cookies.  So the missionaries are going in one group. Not sure how well it will work out, seeing as most of those people are either moved or are in-active for a reason. But oh well, should make for an interesting night.

This week was really really long, my companion seems to be really having trouble with a lot of things.  I'm trying to be patient, but I mostly just get frustrated.  Especially when she starts being mean.

We got to help someone move this week. It was a huge project that took more than one whole day. It was a nonmember and both of the Elders were helping along with us.  I really appreciated it when one of the Elders told me that he was really glad that I knew how to work and had the ambition to do so. Because my companion was off goofing around with one of the teenagers and wasn't really helping at all. So that was the high point of my week, with my companion being immature and difficult.

If I send some really really hot New Mexico food that I have to eat almost every day, would you eat it?  :)   Be expecting some awesome New Mexican food.

Question from Mom - Do you need anything?  What do you want for Christmas? So do you get cash to buy groceries? How much do you get? 

Answer from Emily - We get $130 a month for everything.  Usually I can make it until the last week of the month before running out, but this month will be tight because of Christmas, and we have practically no meals so far.


If you could get me some more mascara, that would be great! Also if dad would be willing to figure out a way to get some of the Mormon messages on a DVD or a couple DVDs. There are some that you can buy, and we use them all the time, but there are dozens of other ones that we would love to be able to use in lessons. Also, I would love a copy of the new Johnny Lingo. And some other church produced movies :)  That would be awesome!

So, a few days ago we decided to go down a road in our area that we hadn't gone down yet, and as we were driving we noticed a bunch of dirt roads going off the side. 
This is completely normal for new mexico. Most of the roads are dirt, so my companion, who was driving, decided to go down one. It was definitely an adventure.  There was quite literally nothing.  The road was really worn, it was driven on all of the time by trucks, and some of the tracks looked really fresh, like from earlier that day. But there was miles and miles and miles of nothing.  Finally we came across a makeshift shooting range.  But we decided to turn around after we couldn't see anything anywhere. 

Well, these pictures basically describe our area of New Mexico! :) 




It really is very pretty out here.  The locals all hate it.  They call it the "Land of Entrapment" instead of the "Land of Enchantment."  But I think it is pretty! 

Mom told Emily that the cats say "hello."  Emily responded, I haven’t seen many cats, but way way way too many dogs. Nasty loud mean dogs.

Love you!

Em


November 19, 2013

Service




Hi Mom & Dad!

It’s been a pretty good week.  We did a lot of service this week for a lot of different people and we also had a lot of different appointments.  It's been interesting learning how to do a lot of different things.  One of the Recent Converts of the Ward is a horse trainer, so we went over to help her fix some flooring on Thursday.  So, not only did I learn how to lay flooring, but we also got to work with her horses, which was amazing.  We also built some fences and de-pooped baby cows and I don’t think there will ever be another situation where we are called to dig a hole for a dead dog. I love doing service because I feel like I’m actually doing something worthwhile, and its fun.  I am learning so much about farm life, it’s crazy.

We are going to do some district stuff today for P-day.  One of the Spanish sisters goes home next Tuesday, so we are going to go bowling or something.  Not quite sure :)

Most of the people here are very conservative, but it is a mix. This is a very rural town. Guns and cows and guns and horses and more guns...

Sunday's are actually our busiest days.  We tend to have a lot of regular appointments on those days, the only downside is that people insist on feeding us at like 3, which means we can’t have lunch and then can’t eat again until 9 when we go home.

It’s been a crazy week here in Belen, but that’s a good thing, because it just means the week goes by fast. I can’t believe that this is already the last week of my first transfer. Since I’m being trained, I probably won’t be moved this transfer.  President Miller said he was going to try and keep trainers and trainees together for the full 12 weeks of training which means all the missionaries should be staying in Belen.  I hope we all do, because that would mean that we all would be together for Christmas, which would be awesome.  I really love my District.

We also got a new investigator this week.  Apparently he used to play for the Miami Dolphins.  When we told the Elders they didn't believe us, and we couldn't go in by ourselves, so they come with us to our lessons. And they confirmed it, and one of the Elders even recognized his name.  We still aren't entirely sure why he is living in the middle of nowhere in New Mexico.  But in any case, he is extremely interested in the gospel.  He has said several times that God wants him to come back, that’s why he sent two girls to his door, because God knows his weakness. And when we were teaching the Book of Mormon, Sister Smith was trying to get another guy in the room to take a copy and the guy we are teaching comes forward and was like "I want one!!!" And he has actually been reading it, which is exciting.

Our other investigator, the one with the baptismal date had to be taught the law of chastity this week.  That was awkward.  So he has to get married or move out.  We hope that this won’t scare him off. He was super solid, so we don’t think it will, but his girlfriend might be a different story.  She doesn’t want to learn about the gospel.  Our only hope is that she wants the lessons for her boyfriend.  She thinks it would be good for him.

It’s interesting that the girlfriends of people we are teaching are against getting married.  Isn't that weird?  And we have several families in the same situation where the woman won’t get married, even though they have been together for years and have kids and the man wants to get married... it’s very strange.

I'm so glad that you are doing stuff with the Haskells!!! That's so exciting for a missionary to hear.  One of the girls we are working with is a recent convert who is inactive.  We are trying to get her back to church, but she said she doesn’t feel welcomed and feels like all the women do is gossip about her.  It’s frustrating.  I wish there was more that we could do, but really there is only so much that we, as missionaries, can do to help.

We have been asked to teach the lessons to the members when we go to dinner appointments.  Last night we were at one of the Stake Presidency Councilors homes and we got to teach the first lesson. It was actually really fun and it was good practice.  I was happy that I got to teach about Joseph Smith, which is one of my favorite parts of all the lessons.  
If there is something that I have learned in the past couple of weeks it is that Member Missionary work is one of the only effective ways to do missionary work.  Of all the people who remain active after baptism, most of them are member friends or family.  While tracting sometimes works somewhat, its sooooo much easier for the missionaries if that person has a friend in the ward who invites and introduces them and welcomes them.  

I got to share Joseph smith's first vision this week too.  That was great as well.  But it is true that when you share it, it is always interrupted by something.  Multiple people told me that, but this week I experienced it for the first time. It’s true, it is always interrupted. Always.

I'm so grateful for your support and prayers and love! Thank you!

Love you!
Em



November 12, 2013

Preparation day is now Tuesday!



Sister Sara Smith and Sister Emily Mangum

Dear Mom and Dad,

So now P-Day is on Tuesday and I am so glad that it is P-day. It’s been a very long week :)  A lot of the missionaries in Albuquerque were having issues because a lot of libraries were closed on Mondays, so they had to email on Tuesdays and the area authority didn't like that.

I like the new person idea that you mentioned....change of heart and many other things!!!!  And I really do feel like a different person, just in a month.  It’s crazy.  Yeah, it’s amazing.  Everything that everyone says about a mission is almost completely true. :)

Being out in New Mexico has definitely been an eye-opening experience. The culture is so different, and we have been so blessed.  Most of the people here don't have near the opportunities that I have had. 

Thank you for the oranges!!! That will be awesome! Everybody calls me sister Mango because for some odd reason nobody can pronounce Mangum. And everybody asks about the Oranges in Florida, so that will be great!!! Thanks!!!

Grandma and Grandpa Mangum probably drove right through my area this morning on their way to Texas.  The highway goes right along the Rio Grande and down past Belen.  That’s so cool that they will be on their mission this week. I looked up the town they will be in and it’s right on the border, right across the Rio Grande.  Very comparable to El Paso probably.  

I've had a couple of run-ins with Spanish and it’s crazy.  I think I need to learn how to do a door approach, there are so many Spanish speakers here, even up north close to Albuquerque.

The Spanish missionaries are always complaining about the tons of people who invite them in to talk then don’t really care about the gospel message. The other night we were tracting and we came across an elderly couple who only spoke Spanish, luckily my companion’s dad is from panama, so she knows a bit of Spanish because I was completely lost.

Mom Question – You mentioned a pepper spray story?

We had this investigator who lived in the middle of nowhere, and my companion was telling one of the Elders about it and he freaked out. So he dug out the pepper spray. Its super old and the most extreme kind. He was like "Close your eyes and don't spray it in your face, we aren’t sure how old it is and it might kill someone."  But it is the type that will make you go blind.  I just wonder why the elders had it in their apartment. There is all sorts of weird stuff in old missionary apartments. 
I’m not sure if we are allowed or not, but sister smith carries the stuff that the Elders gave her, but I actually do want some, just in case, but I don’t know where to get some. The pepper spray is actually a really funny story (At least to me it is) But the Elders are super over protective.

We didn't end up going because we didn't feel safe. It may have been Elder Lee's paranoia rubbing off, but we felt better to be safe than sorry.  That's the thing, we never go anywhere that we don't feel comfortable.  There are a lot of strange people, so we always pray and make sure we both feel completely comfortable before getting out of the car.

Tell Josh I loved his note!

Dad question – Do you have your District Meetings on your P-days?

No, district meetings are on Fridays, we just don’t have studies on that day. Did you ever do exchanges?  We did that this week and it was kind of awful.  I’m not sure why, my companion didn't really prepare me very well, and they left me in charge of Belen, then the Sister Training Leader wasn't very helpful, but it turned out okay in the end.  I’m just glad that it’s over, at least until next transfer.

Mom Question – Are you close to a reservation? What’s the area like?

Well, I don't know.  It’s like an hour away and sisters don't serve there, but they are in my zone.  There is one smaller town close to it with sisters, but I’m glad I’m not there because I know one of the sisters there and she said the state mental facilities are down in her area, so they get crazy people all the time. 

If you think of the places that you see in movies with the really really poor people who live in the desert in a small trailer.  That’s basically where I am.  Not quite so bad, but about the same type of circumstances.  It really eye opening to how lucky and blessed we are.

Anything new at home? The weeks are going by faster now, so that good.  I can’t believe that this week will be the first whole month out in the mission.

Missionary Work is tough, really tough, but it is so worth it.  It’s exciting.  We've only been able to have a couple lessons that I have felt have gone really well.  The English missionaries in the states have to work really hard to find people to teach, but once we find a couple people that have potential we are able to find that one person who really needs the gospel and is willing to accept it. Right now we are trying to work with this recent convert who fell away right after her baptism. She is super sweet and has two adorable little boys, but she is having major issues with the Word of Wisdom.  We are trying to help her with that, but it’s hard.

If I have one thing to say about missionary work, it’s definitely get the ward involved.  The missionaries are the ones who do it all day every day, but it’s the members who make a difference.  The only active converts from the past few years are the ones who have been friends or family of members.  That Fellowshipping is absolutely everything.  Without it, nothing will ever get done.

Question from Mom – How is the tracting?  What happens if a man answers the door and invites you in?

If a man asks us to come in we have to make sure there is another female in the house or we just teach on the doorstep.  A lot of the time we try to have members come with us, so we don’t have to worry about that sort of thing and to help fellowship the person we are teaching.  But it’s really hard.  Don’t worry, we are always careful about that sort of thing.  Tracting is kind of awful.  But it’s the only way we have to contact people. It’s super hard, but we have managed to find a couple of people to teach.  One of the guys' last name is Montoya, I wonder if he is related to the Montoya’s from our ward. 

The family going to Texas will be fun.  Still don’t know where we will be. The Elders have a dinner but we don’t.  We might end up with the Bishop or Ward Mission Leader, but that would be ok too :)

I was informed last night that I have to give a talk in a couple of weeks in sacrament meeting.  It’s on President Monson's talk from conference, but I can’t remember which one.  I’m sure I'll figure it out :) 

Love you!
EM

__________________________________________

Jessica said that we could post her handwritten letter from Emily for all to see.


Jess,

Oh my goodness!  This week has been something, definitely!  They are all telling the truth when they say that mission is one of the hardest and most stressful times of your life.  But they are all also telling the truth when they say it is the Best time of your life.

It's only my 2nd week, but i have already met so many wonderful people.  Most people are extremely sweet and kind!  I've also met a lot of really weird and rude people, most through tracting.  But is makes like interesting.

Luckily I've been told the hardest time of your mission is the first transfer which is 1/3 over!

Its funny, as a missionary you get very little free time to do whatever.  Most nights you come home so exhausted that you just collapse right into bed.

Now i'm on the fourth week.  I can't believe that I've been our for almost a month.  It's kinda crazy.  But I love it.

Most of the people I meet are super nice, even the ones who are devout in their own faith.  I have had a few run-ins with some crazy's but that's okay, it makes life interesting.

We do have a few really good investigators now that we have high hopes for.  Unfortunately both of our promising investigators have a girlfriend that doesn't want to get married, so that's an obstacle to overcome because you have to be married if you're living with someone before you are baptized.  But we are going to be working hard to help them be ready.

How's school going?  Is junior year of AICE killing you yet?  Well at least the holiday's are coming up.  That's sort of a little break.

Yesterday was kind of awesome.  So about 2-3 weeks before I came to Belen the Elders started teaching this woman, who is what we call "golden" because we was so excited to be baptized right away.  She loves everything about the church and will probably be active forever.  Yesterday we went up to Albuquerque to walk around the temple grounds with her and her daughter.  It was so cool and she is so excited to be able to go through in a year.

It is definitely interesting being a missionary.  No matter where we go people recognize you from your name tag.  Whether for good of for bad, lots of people want to talk to you and lots of people don't want to talk to you.  Tracting is certainly interesting.  I've already had my first anti-mormon, my first threat, and my first preacher trying to save my soul.

We ran into this couple who have their own ministry.  The husband was kid of rude but the wife was crying as she went on and on about how Christ is our Savior and to be saved we have to accept him.  My companion and I were just standing there and nodding like "yes, that is true."  It was kid of funny, before we left we had a prayer and she prayed that we would come to know Christ as our Savior.  Oh well.

We have found a couple of investigators who have a bit of potential, so that's good.  But we do have a bunch of work to get them to the point they need to be at to be baptized.

It's also true that all of the new missionaries get sick.  It might be the stress, the change of environment, or even a bit of temptation or maybe even all of the above.  But one of the Elders in the same ward as me, who was in the MTC with me is really sick with bronchitis and his companion has a really bad infection in his kidney or at least that what we think it is.  Both me and my companion have really bad colds but gratefully that it's not worse.

I hope you have a good time your junior year.  I hope you have a great time with Homecoming and your friends. 

Love you!
Em



November 4, 2013

Halloween Week

Hey Mom & Dad!!! 

It’s actually been a pretty good week, they seem to be going by faster now, which is good.  

Belen is BEAUTIFUL!!!  You should look it up. On one side are the Sandia Mountains and on the other side is a mesa and in the middle is the Rio Grande.  The past 2 weeks have been the only weeks where the leaves change and they all changed to a gorgeous golden color. It was so pretty.

Oh my goodness, yes! So much good food. A lot of it is just stuff that I had never thought would go together and green chilies on everything, and when I say everything, I mean everything. The style in New Mexico is very different but good.  It’s a mix of American with Mexican and Native American. Spicy spicy spicy food. But is really good!  Guess what! One of the members fed us Coney dogs! Except New Mexican style with beans and green chili on top of the hamburger :) It was so good. 

Halloween was ok, an Elder hit his year mark and apparently when an Elder his a mark its tradition to burn something. 6 months=a tie   one year= a shirt so he burned a shirt on Halloween.  It was kind of amusing.

It has been a pretty good week except for the sickness.  One of the Elders who came out with me and is in this ward has Bronchitis, and I think I have it too. The others are calling it the "new missionary sickness" apparently everybody gets sick in their first area. 

It’s been going pretty well. This week we had a couple of lessons with some interesting new people.  All of the people that we are working with are former investigators who were dropped. The one with real potential was found tracting a few weeks before I was transferred into this area agreed to be baptized at the end of this month.  He’s really nice, a big Native American guy.  But we definitely have our work cut out for us because he and his girlfriend aren't married and we also have to teach all the lessons.

I really don't know what the missionaries before me were doing because it doesn't really seem like much has been done or accomplished and we are starting from scratch with almost everybody. But that's alright, it has been a really good experience for me.

Tomorrow, we are going up to the Albuquerque Temple with one of the Elder's recent converts to walk around the grounds, so that should be fun.

Love you!
Em




October 28, 2013

Tracting...

Hey Mom & Dad!

Yes I got the packages! Thank you so so so much! It has been a really long week. It’s been stressful and tiring but it was all totally worth it. 

Most of our investigators fell through or started avoiding us, so we spent most of our time tracting this week.  It was interesting.  Almost the entire week was entirely tracting, which is kind of stressful, at least for me it is.  We have a couple of new investigators who agreed to meet with us this week.  A couple of women with small children. 

We were able to teach one lesson to a guy who was atheist, so that was interesting. He was willing to pray at the end of a quick 15 minute lesson, and it was so sweet. The spirit was so strong, but he said he didn’t feel anything.  It’s too bad that he is moving. Sister Smith said she thought that he did feel something, but didn’t like it. Apparently when people who are sinning really badly feel the spirit for the first time they don’t like it. Like it almost hurts.

We have met a lot of interesting people tracting.  Not all of them nice.  Ran into my first anti this week too, then my crazy companion made an appointment to go back to "teach" him.  I’m pretty sure that the only reason he agreed was because he thinks he’s going to save our souls. But I told Sister Smith that I’m not going in there without the Elders, because I know it’s going to go badly. Hopefully it doesn’t, but its making me somewhat worried.

Missionary work is so tiring! But the few things that go right are totally worth it!

We had a bit of success though, we found a couple of new people to teach who I am excited about and a part member family decided to take the lessons, again.  This man has been investigating the church for over 30 years, but it’s been several since he last met with the missionaries.  So we are excited.  We are trying to go about the lessons in a different way because he has heard them all multiple times before. Any ideas?  I know that we are going out at some point to do service and help them haul wood.  The family is really sweet. And now we have the support of a couple of the children. One of the boys who the Elders are working with to get him on a mission and one of the girls who really wants her dad baptized. So we are optimistic!

But really other than that, there aren't any other even sort of solid investigators.  But we have several other first time lessons this week, so it should be interesting.  Yeah, this week should be interesting.  I haven't had the chance to teach much. So this will be my first real experience with it this week.

Several times we have run into people who only speak Spanish, I am so lost!  I’m thinking I may need to brush up on a bit of Spanish.  The Spanish people are so nice. They always invite you in and want to talk. Unfortunately, I don’t speak any Spanish and my companion only speaks a little.  Last night we were tracting and this cute Spanish couple let us in without even talking to us. Luckily my companion knows a bit of Spanish and was able to hold a sort of conversation. They weren’t interested in the church, but were super nice. I now understand why the Spanish Elders and Sisters here have so much trouble finding people who are actually interested. The have a ton of investigators, but very few who are actually solid.

So I had a really interesting experience this week.  I think it was Tuesday that we didn't have anything to do, quite literally. We visited every single investigator and then some and we tracted for a huge portion of the day and didn't get anything accomplished and by that time it was about 5. So my companion was freaking out, said she felt depressed. I felt fine, but she was totally stressed. So the Elders were at one of the Bishopric’s house getting haircuts and she called them to ask for a blessing. So we went there and she got a blessing.  It was the most spiritual blessing that I have ever witnessed. I've never felt like a blessing came so directly from Heavenly Father before.  It was amazing, and even though I didn't get one, I felt like it was for everyone in the room.

Most blessings are very simple and the same sort of things over and over again. But these were really personal. The bishopric member giving them, was saying things that I know he would never say if he was the one speaking. My companion was given some great advice on missionary work and the power of prayer.  The spirit was so strong and you could feel that Heavenly Father loves us so much!

Not really any plans for P-day activity today. The Elders want to go find some pawn shop in Los Lunes, so, I guess we are going to go with them, but I’m not too sure. I’m not sure why they want to go but I think they want to find cowboy gear...? Belt buckles, spurs, and such.  Sister Smith and I want to do some Halloween baking, so that's something. 

I can’t believe that my first transfer is almost half over already! It’s going so slow and so fast at the same time :)  All the missionaries say that this is an area that you get stuck in for a while. So there is a chance that I’ll be in Belen for a while.  The sisters only opened this area a couple of transfers ago and then stopped contacting after they had a few investigators. So now we have to do both teaching and contacting to constantly keep the teaching pool up, but it is getting better.

We've definitely had some great experiences though that show that after working really hard, we do have a tiny bits of success, so we continue to work hard.

Love you!

Em

October 21, 2013

Crazy First Week!

Hey Mom and Dad!

Its been an absolutely crazy week.  Its felt like a month. Someone told me that everyday feels like a week and a week feels like a day, which is true.

I really like my area.  Its a super small farm town, and a huge percentage of the ward are cowboys. Real cowboys! Its really obvious that this area is kind of poor.  Its very much what I thought New Mexico would look like, its very very flat and completely sand and dirt. There are tons of scrubby little bushes and random cactus everywhere.  There are a few mesas and mountains in the distance and even a few volcanoes.  The area of the ward that I'm in is split in half with the Elders covering the town part because its somewhat dangerous and we cover the outer farmland and a few housing developments.

We don't really have a lot of solid investigators, or really any at all. Its super hard to contact when the biggest gathering place in the town is Walmart and most houses are surrounded by tall locked wire fences with at least one big nasty loud dog.  Everyone owns a dog and everyone owns a gun. Its the most hillbilly town I've ever seen! :)   

So we do mostly service. Its actually really fun.  My first day we got to bottle feed a baby cow for a part member family and we have cut down trees and started huge fires.  Tonight we get to brush down some horses and I know that we are going to bale hay at some point. Its really fun.

I love all the people that I've met.  They are so nice.  There is a part member family, the one with the baby cow, and the dad isn't a member, but is soooo close, he's just being stubborn. The mother's sister just got baptized the Saturday before I came, and she is so super sweet, she's a horse trainer.  Now the Elders are teaching her daughter, who is about 20. Mom, you'll appreciate her story. After her mom got baptized, she told the Elders that only a slap in the face would get her baptized.  A few days later she called the Elders and told them that she wanted to take the lessons because she got her slap in the face. She was driving and the song on the radio really touched her, touched her enough to contact the missionaries. Guess what song it was! A Thousand Years by Christina Perry. Even though the Elders are teaching her, they let us come to the lessons, because we have barely any investigators at all.

So that "Pagan" couple I told you we were going to teach. Dad, did anyone do this to you?  It was a prank.  They had this whole shrine thing set up and he said a prayer to it. He screamed it, and I almost fell out of my seat it startled me so bad. I was so confused the entire time because my companion wasn't saying anything, she was just sitting there and staring at me as I'm answering all of this guys questions. And they continually got weirder and weirder until he finally admitted that he was a High Priest and had been a member for years and years.  I was extremely annoyed, but the other new Elder who was in my district and is here in Belen with me got it too. Only they made him offer fruit to the statue as a sacrifice.  They actually wanted to have one of the members pull a gun on us, but his wife wouldn't allow it.

In my district there are one set of Spanish Elders and one set of Spanish Sisters and then one set of English Elders and one set of English Sisters(me).  They are all super nice and this morning for a p-day activity we went hiking up a mesa. It was fun and pretty, but I was freezing to death.  Mom, can you send me my red coat?  All the people who live here keep telling me that it gets a ton colder than it is right now. And I'm so cold and I'm going to be here for a couple of months at least.

One of the service missionaries in our area told us that there is a blog for this mission.  He said you can get to it by joining the Facebook page/group for the mission which is NMAMLDS.  They might have some pictures up from our hike this morning. :)

I have some letters to Mina, Warren and Jess, hopefully I'll be able to get them mailed in the next few days, so you can tell Warren he has a letter coming. You can tell him that I say hi and that I love him and miss him and hope he is having fun at school and soccer!

I don't remember an Elder Nelson, but I met soooooo many missionaries going to Jacksonville.

Love you guys! Miss you all! :)
Em

Emily saw Elder Wheeler and his companion at the temple.

My district at the MTC

Missionaries at MTC

Mesa from our hike today for Pday

__________________________________________


Here are some follow-up comments from Darcie's questions while Emily was still sitting at the computer.

We email at the local university library.  I really enjoy doing service, though I'm freezing and getting sunburned. :)  

Yep, we get fed almost every night.  This week we have a meal scheduled every night.  Mom, please feed the elders!!! The sisters have a meal for every night, but the Elders don't.   Apparently that's a theme everywhere. 

We have a car because our area is HUGE!!   Although we should have a pick up truck.  Its almost required out here, too much sand. All the other sets of companions in our district and almost all of them in our zone have them. Guess who gets stuck in the sand? yep, Us. :) It's okay though, it makes life interesting.

Jess will get a kick out of this,


In the photo of my district, the one with the most people. The Elder third from the right, the one with the Blonde Blonde hair.  He looks EXACTLY like Draco Malfoy.  EXACTLY.  Some of the other Elders in our district were calling him Elder Malfoy until my companion freaked out about it not being respectful. But then he told us in between classes that his name had almost been Dreago. HAHAHA!! Isn't that funny!!!

October 19, 2013

Pictures with Mission President



President and Sister Steven J Miller




New Missionaries arriving during October transfers

October 15, 2013

My First Area and Companion

Email October 15, 2013

Two Letters - One to Mom and One to Dad

Hey mom,

Its been crazy, I'm so ridiculously tired. 

I got my new area and trainer today.  I'm in a small town called Belen just south of Albuquerque.  Its quite literally in the middle of nowhere. Kinda reminds me a bit of out where grandma used to live. Except its complete desert.  Its really pretty, but way different from Florida.  We live in a little apartment on a dairy farm owned by some members.  Its a cute little house. I have no idea where anything is, but they have schedule in driving time no matter where we go. They said our area is one of the largest land areas in the mission just because of the dairy and cattle farms.

It is the picture perfect southwestern town. I keep seeing people in cowboy hats and boots and rusty pick up trucks.

I have my first real lesson today and i'm kind of concerned.  Its a couple and apparently they are pagan and have a statue that they worship.  Not quite sure, but it could be interesting.  The last set of missionaries taught them all the lessons but they dont seem to understand or get past the whole idol worship thing.  So i suggested that we need to take it back to the basics and focus on what God is. But I have no idea how to teach someone like that.

According to the district leader we do a lot of service here too. A lot of farm work.  Its a good thing i brought jeans and tennis shoes.  This ward has a set of elders and a set of sisters. One of the Elders was in my MTC district, so thats kind of nice.  

Love you!

Em


Hey Dad,

I just got to Albuquerque and have my area and new companion.  I am assigned to this little town called Belen about an hour south of Albuquerque.  It kinda reminds me a bit of the New Philadelphia area, except smaller and more south western. (I've lost count of the number of people I've seen in cowboy hats and boots, and apparently everyone wears jeans to church...)  
We live on some of the members land, they have a dairy farm. From what I've seen there aren't a whole lot of really promising investigators yet, and contacting is super hard because the sisters are assigned the area that is mostly farm land.  It's very much a desert, lots of sand and rocks.  Everything is brown and orange. 

We have a meeting with an investigator in about an hour. Apparently they are pagan and don't seem to understand whats being taught.  Should be interesting, I think we need to go back to the basics.  Then we are meeting with some people tonight, but I'm not entirely sure who or what or why. 

I met the mission president and his wife yesterday and the sisters all stayed at their house yesterday and last night. They are super nice. He has really high expectations for the mission, which is good.  

My companion, Sister Sarah Smith seems nice, I've only known her for a couple of hours.  Shes from Utah and has only been out about 5 months.

This mission has a ton of new missionaries and not very many out longer than a year.  The mission is so large land wise, that its divided in half and you tend to stay in either the north in Albuquerque or in the south in El Paso. Most of the mission is in the north. 

I'm really tired, but ready to work. 

My new address is:

119 Andres Sanchez Road
Belen, NM 87002

Love you !
Em

October 14, 2013

At the Airport...Next Stop Albuquerque

October 14, 2013 Phone Call - Notes written by Dad

We received an unexpected phone call this morning from Emily.  She and about 30 missionaries that were headed to Albuquerque were all at the airport waiting on their flight.  She said that they would arrive at the Mission home early this afternoon but would not be sent to their new areas until tomorrow some time.  She also mentioned that Monday is their preparation day so it wasn't likely that she would get to email us this week.


Emily sounded very up beat and excited to get to New Mexico.  She mentioned that she had mixed feelings about leaving the MTC as she really liked it and felt that she was learning a lot but also that she was ready to get to work.  You can already tell from speaking with her that she is growing spiritually and gaining confidence.


She shared some of her experiences teaching the "practice investigators" as part of their training.  She shared how they had a sister investigator who liked to yell at them about how she didn't need any more schooling and teaching.  Emily explained to us that as missionaries they weren't supposed to use the words "teach" or "share" with investigators because it made the investigators feel like they the missionaries were better than them.  They were rather supposed to us "tell" them about the gospel.


She also shared that they taught a man who was supposed to have been from Jacksonville.  During the process they have to learn about this person by asking questions and Emily and Sister Shaner had done their best but had a tough time figuring out the guy and finding his concerns.  Later they spoke a couple of Elders in their district who had the same investigator.  Emily said they were surprised at all the things the Elders had uncovered about this man that the Sisters weren't able to learn.  Sounded like they learned as much from the after discussion about teaching as they did during the actual event.


Emily mentioned that she had been able to see both Elder Wheeler and Elder Gerald while she was at the MTC and that both of them appeared to be happy and doing well.  She did get some pictures with them but did not get an opportunity to email to us but would do it when she got to her area.


One bit of new we did get from Emily is that she is only allowed to Email her parents while serving.  If she communicates with others while serving she will need to do it via letters through the mail.  So, be sure to send Emily your home mailing address so that she can respond to you.  She can still receive your emails, just not allowed to respond via email.


We are looking forward to hearing more about her MTC experience and her new area and new companion in the coming week.  Good luck Sister Mangum!  Travel safely!  We love you!