Monday, December 30, 2013

My Heavenly Father really does know who I am, where I am, what I am experiencing, and what I need most!

     This week I tried keeping track on a sticky note the things I wanted to share... looking down the list, apparently the food stuck out to me this week...

     I don't know if I told you this, but here (and I think in Latino culture in general) everyone makes and eats tamales for Christmas. Just about everyone makes a bunch of their own and then they all give some to neighbors. It's the food to share and so of course we were given some too. The ones here are much better than the couple of times we had them in the CCM. However, just about every other one had more parts of a chicken than I would have preferred. Usually the first was bién rico, but then the second from the same source would have bones and such to pick out. Number 4 even had some lung in it. Mmm. Anat. & Phys. served me well. ...That makes it sound really gross. I promise they tasted good! You just had to be paying attention...

     On Christmas Day we didn't get out much because my companion took an allergy pill. The Hermana who gave it to her warned her to only take it at night because it causes drowsiness, but my companion didn't really believe it. She ended up sleeping most of Christmas. In the end it worked out that I had lots of study time. It turns out that that is what I needed. I had more than one prayer answered. I know that Heavenly Father has a specific plan for all of His children, but some times I forget that this includes me. I forget that He truly knows me and knows what I need. Christmas Day I was reminded that He really does know who I am, where I am, what I am experiencing, and what I need most! I am so very grateful for such a loving and merciful Heavenly Father!

     By Christmas evening my companion was finally feeling better, and so we went and made brownies at the Bishop's house. They were from a box which goes against everything I believe in, but they were Ghiradelli and they were brownies. I have missed brownies more than I imagined. A couple of months ago when I heard that they don't use their ovens here, it never fully set in that that would mean no brownies... When we served them, just about everyone asked if they were really cooked all of the way through. Truth be told, I don't think so, but they tasted good and were a delicious gooey. I forgot that I would need to convert the oven temp.. and I couldn't figure out how to convert Fahrenheit to Celsius fast enough before the bishop's wife had them in the oven... moral is--they still turned out and they ''tasted like America.''

     Last food story for the week... When I was assured that even though I will be serving mostly on the coast they don't eat that much sea food, I assumed that meant every once in a while. (Actually I think I was in denial, or being overly hopeful that this would mean never.) So far it averages out to once a week. This week I had more Sopa de Mariscos. I was ever so grateful that the hermana who made it had her back to us long enough for me to spoon the chunks of sea creature into my companion's bowl. The first time I was able to easily eat the broth and even got down some of the marisco part, but this time it was a challenge to get the broth down and see the pieces of octopus tentacle. (I think that is what it was. I tried not to look too closely) I cringe a little inside every time our hostess anounces that she made seafood for us. I know that it is really expensive and I feel bad that it is being wasted on me...

     This reminds me of a talk I heard this week. It was about the enabling power of the Atonement. Fantastic BYU devotional by Elder Bednar called "In the Strength of the Lord". I highly recommend it. In it he tells the story of handcart pioneers who only had leather to eat. He reads part of a journal entry and in it the man talks about praying for the Lord to bless their bodies to adapt to the leather jelly stuff that they had to eat. Now my situation is not nearly anywhere close to that extreme. In general we are fed very delicious food. But I thought of that story the whole time eating the soup and decided to try a few prayers of that kind of my own. I am hoping that by the end of my mission, preferably before I leave here, my prayers will be answered. In all seriousness though, it really was an amazing talk that reminded me that grace is divine power that we need in order to become who Heavenly Father wants us to become. It gives us the strength to do all that we are asked. It truly was exactly what I needed to hear this week.

Hasta luego!
Hna. Thacker

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Feliz Navidad!

It's hard to believe that we are already to Christmas. Honestly it feels like we are trying to have Christmas in August...

All week I think of things I want to tell you, but by the time I sit down to the computer I can't remember what exactly it was...

This week we had a Cena Navideña (the ward Christmas party), That was an adventure! At the beginning they were blasting, as best as I could tell, Latino Christmas music and everyone was dancing. My companion was having a hard time sitting still. She kept saying in 4 months I can dance :) The rest of the time was a talent show. My companion signed us and the Elders in the ward up to sing. When she started talking fast to the Relief Society President I knew we made it on the list... We sang a poor rendition of Silent Night, but that's OK. Seeing the Elder's faces when they realized that they couldn't back out was priceless... The rest of the ward did various acts. The Primary sang and had a little play that was very cute. They have just enough Primary kids to hold up the letters to spell Feliz Navidad. The Young Women danced, and so did another family. They had color coordinated outfits even. 

The ward here is small. Our greatest challenge is getting the members excited about missionary work, but they are great people. We have a lot of investigators that love to have us come sing a hymn and pray for them. They'll listen to our message and ask questions, and a good portion will read the pamphlets and Book of Mormon, but they won't come to church. And they have to come to church to progress. We will keep inviting and praying. 

Where we are, there are actually a number of people who speak a decent amount of English. If they are Latino chances are good they only speak Spanish, but they are usually quick to tell me that they have a relative who speaks really good English. If they are of any other race, chances are really good that they speak English. They would totally understand if I spoke to them in English, but it's not as likely that I would understand them... Often they speak a very fast pigeon English with Spanish words or words from other tribal languages mixed in. One man we are teaching tells us that he is from India. He is African and does speak English more like you would if you learned it in India. I think my companion doubts his story, but I think I am missing too many pieces to make a fair judgement. He tells us all the time about how he is learning Spanish and that it is a crazy language. He always corrects my companion's Spanish too. He is ''super pilas'' or really smart, and he seems pretty interested. He couldn't make it to church this week, but I sure hope he comes next week. 

Another guy we are teaching is from the United States. He's only been here for  about 5 or so years and he owns a salsa making business. In the US he was an ice skating instructor. He is an interesting character and our visits totally consisted of him saying something in Spanish and then translating it into English and vice versa. We are going to try to get him an English copy of the Book of Mormon. 

Whenever we go anywhere there are always people who want to practice their English. They are not afraid to try, and I love that. That's something I need to learn. I have been reading a lot in my personal study in the New Testament when the Savior is asking his disciples (and us) to follow him. I've really been thinking about the ''he who saves his life shall loose it. and whoso shall lose his life for my sake shall find it'' (that's roughly what it says, I don't have my English scriptures on me...) Hna. Pratt told us before we left the CCM that this included leaving behind our old life before we came on our mission. I am beginning to realize how important it is to leave behind everything that would stand in the way of me becoming the missionary Heavenly Father wants and needs me to be. This means leaving behind my fears and shyness and step out of my comfort zone. It is hard. But my goal for this week is to just try. It is important to have faith and trust in the promised blessings that come from exercising your faith. 

I hope you have a very Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad and all! 
Hna. Thacker

This is the view from our street looking up toward the mountain.
Most of our area, as far as I can tell, actually lies in the opposite direction.

This is in the house of the Hermana who cooks us lunch every day.  On the left is me and my companion.
On the right, the American is the District Leader, and his companion is from Guatemala--same as my companion.

Monday, December 16, 2013

I learned why the Spanish word for address is dirección...

... Usually that's about all they can give you to help you find their house...

I've learned that we are in a poorer part of the city that has a bunch of little neighborhoods that are within blocks from the sea. We live no more than 5 blocks from the ocean. Hna. Klein said that our mission is 80 percent rural and 20 percent city. I'm in the 20 percent city part and so we have a nice apartment with running water and a working shower. 

I wish I had some pictures to show you, but I haven't taken all that many yet. It is plenty warm and humid, but we are currently in a cold spell... My companion keeps telling me how in April is when it starts to get really hot. 

 Here, in order to not offend your hostess you eat everything she puts on your plate, and if she offers more you should probably take it too. That is actually kind of hard. Like yesterday's lunch. We had sopa de marisco. Crab, fish, caracol... caracol is conch. Like the animal that lives in the conch shell. They eat that here and don't worry I tried it so you don't have to. Honestly it was pretty gross. It was a tough texture that was hard and chewy.  My companion and the elders that were with us helped me finish the chunks of meat in my soup.

Here you also greet everyone with a kiss. The elders are lucky because they get out of it, but for the hermanas, we always greet other women with a kiss on the cheek. My companion was surprised to find out that we do not do that in the US, or even make much physical contact. 

Here I have been reminded the power of Hymns. Whenever we go anywhere we ask if we could sing them a hymn. Even those who at first don't seem really receptive to listening to us will agree to a Christmas hymn, and afterword they will give us time. The hymns bring a spirit that touches their hearts and allows us to share a message with them. It is lovely!

It is different and difficult, but I am so grateful to be here. I am so grateful for this opportunity to serve! 

Love You! 
Hermana Thacker

I like where we live because it seems pretty nice compared to the houses that we've seen, but my companion wants to move. We only have two windows. One in the front room and one small one in the bathroom. My companion doesn't like the fact that we don't get much natural light in the morning. 

My companion is 22 and in her 14th month in the mission. She is a convert and until recently her parents weren't members. They both got baptized while she's been on her mission, and in May after she gets back they will be able to go to the temple.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Honduras is so beautiful!


I finally made it to my area. This afternoon we had a long bus ride from the transfer meeting to here. This means we drove a good portion across the populated part of our mission I think. Honduras is so beautiful!

My companion is from Guatemala and her name is Hna. Tajiboy. President Klein talks highly of her. She doesn't speak much English and I don't speak all that much Spanish, so it will be an adventure! She said tonight we have dinner and I will get to try Honduran food. 

Quite honestly its a bit overwhelming, but esta bien I am excited to be here! Hna. Pratt (the wife of the MTC president) taught a lesson in relief society one of my first weeks in the MTC. She talked about looking for patterns in the scriptures/gospel. Her major example was the Pattern of the Garden of Eden. We start out somewhere safe and we progress there as much as we can. Then we are thrust out into the lone and dreary world where we can grow. She said that coming to the MTC was like leaving the garden. New circumstances and challenging experiences to learn from, but once they become familiar and easily handled the MTC becomes our new Garden of Eden. Once again we are cast out into our mission. Here's where I am. It's overwhelming, but it is part of the process and so much growth is waiting in this new, challenging experience. 

Love you! 

Con amor, 
Hna. Thacker

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

"They are here!" (Letter from the mission president's wife)

They are here!  All 30 of our newly arrived missionaries are spending the day with us here in San Pedro Sula.  We have them learning many new things about the mission, eating yummy food, playing Preach My Gospel games and getting to know one another.

Thank you for sharing your missionary with us.  We love them very much already and we are so grateful for their service.  We know they will each be wonderful missionaries and bless the lives of many people here in Honduras as well as their families at home.

Best wishes always,

Hna. Klein

Ellos están aquí! Los 30 dnuestros misioneros recién llegados están pasando el día con nosotros aquí en San Pedro Sula. Hemos aprender muchas cosas nuevas acerca de la misión, comer deliciosa comida, el jugar juegos Predicad Mi Evangelio y conocer a los otros.

Gracias por compartir su misión con nosotros. Los amamos mucho ya y estamos muy agradecidos por su servicio. Sabemos que cada uno será misioneros maravillosos y bendecir la vida de muchas personas aquí en Honduras, así como sus familias en casa.

Mis mejores deseos siempre,

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Next Stop - Honduras!

They finally posted our flight stuff. We fly out at 10:30 Tuesday morning. We leave the CCM at 6. I think it will be a direct flight to San Pedro Sula, but they haven't shared this information yet. Either way, in just a few days I will be in Honduras!

Real quick I want to share something cool from John 1:35-51... Here is where some of the disciples of the Savior are called to the work. Two of the disciples of John heard Jesus speak and then followed Him. He asked them what they wanted and they told Him that they wanted to know ''Where dwellest thou?'' At a fireside last year I learned that this really means they wanted to know how dwellest the master. Jesus replies saying ''Come and see.'' As the story continues they spend the day with Jesus seeing how he lives, how he acts, and learning from him. The very next day these disciples go and bring their friends and family to Christ saying ''We have found the Mesias...We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth...Come and see.''

I love this! I totally identify with these disciples. I have found Him and have had amazing opportunities to see how He lives. Now it is my turn to invite others to ''come and see''! I am so grateful for the chance to serve a mission!

Love you! 
Next time you hear from me I will be in Honduras!

Mucho amor, 
Hermana Thacker 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

I love how ''beautifully simple and simply beautiful'' this gospel is.

Wow! It's crazy to think that I am already halfway through my last full week of the CCM! I still don't have my flight plans from here to Honduras, so I don't know exactly when I am leaving. The day before I leave I think I get to email again. Hopefully they'll let us know soon what is going to happen. 

Thanksgiving dinner turned out so much better than I was expecting! They went all out! Turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, rolls, pie and ice cream, and table cloths to dress it up a little! We all cried a little when we saw it all laid out.

As we finished up our Thanksgiving dinner they started putting out the Christmas decorations :)

Today we got to go to the temple for the last time. It didn't hit me until we were leaving that today was the last time I'll get to go to the temple for the next 17 months. I will miss it! I love having the chance to take time to ''be still'' and feel the peace the presides there.

Right after I got my mission call I began reading the Book of Mormon over again. This time I got a cheep blue copy and wrote the date and my testimony in the beginning blank pages. This week I finally finished it and I wrote the date and my testimony now in the last couple of pages. It was so neat to be able to visably see how my testimony has grown and deepened in the last couple of months. Flipping through the pages I read some of the insights that I had had while reading. One of my favorites though was in Moroni 10:32-33. These verses talk about the Atonement, and I highlighted every unto, in, through, and by I could find. Looking at those little words made a difference in how I viewed the Atonement. It clarified what is my part and what is the Savior's part. I learned that my job is to come unto Him, leave behind all ungodliness and to love God with all of my might, mind, and strength. When I do this His grace is sufficient to make me ''perfected in him,'' ''sanctified in Christ,'' and ''become holy, without spot.'' As I keep His commandments because I love Him, I can be changed by His grace and become who He wants me to be. 

I also learned some neat things about grace. I was reminded that grace is ''divine means of help or strength.'' The part that was new was that it also is the ''strength and assistance to do good works that [you] otherwise would not be able to maintain if left to [your] own means.'' Most often I forget that grace or divine help is something that I need every day. I tend to trust in the arm of flesh and my perceived means of perfecting and saving myself all by myself. I think that if I just can get to this point then I can ask the savior to help me out and finish the rest. However, I need His help every step of the way and He is willing and wanting to give it to me. I need to turn to Him every single day and repent every single day, and His grace is sufficient to help me do the things He's asked me to do. It is hard, but so worth it! 

I love my Savior so very much! I am so grateful for this opportunity I have to serve Him and to learn how to become like Him. I love how ''beautifully simple and simply beautiful'' this gospel is. I know that it is true, and it totally worth sharing! I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer and that only through His Atonement can we progress at all! I know that we have a loving Father in Heaven who orchestrated this entire plan because He loves us. Being here I've come to understand how central that is to our entire message! It is the reason any of this matters. 

I love you all!
Thank you for your love and support and emails!! 

Con cariño, 
Hna. Thacker