Monday, May 20, 2013

Hola from Wisconsin!

Racine, Wisconsin
Lake Michigan
I arrived at about 9am on Tuesday and I was really tired. I finally caught up on sleep and am doing great! When we were flying in I kept thinking that we were getting really close to the water without seeing any land because all I could see was Lake Michigan. But land appeared just in time. I am assigned to the Racine, Wisconsin area. It is the economically poorest area in the mission. We live on the outskirts of Racine with an older couple. Racine has a really neat culture. I was told that it is about 60% African American and that there is also a large Latin population. There is a set of Spanish elders whose area overlaps ours and many of the people we have taught speak Spanish so I have tried to practice it a little bit but we teach the lessons in English. Its been a low area for missionary work and hasn't had any baptisms since February. There have been rumors for awhile that they were going to close this area but they haven't yet. There aren't many places that sister missionaries are allowed to be so we don't knock doors and work mostly through members and one of the main goals is to strengthen the ward because there are so many inactive members. We have a car and I am becoming a professional backer upper.
Hello Lake Michigan!
I am in a trio again! My trainers name is Sister Boone and she is from Ririe, Idaho. What are the odds right? Ririe isn't a very big place. She was surprised I knew right where it was. She has been out on the mission for about a year. My other companion is a visa waiter also but has been here for a month already. Her name is Sister Caceres and is Peruvian! Again what are the odds of that?! She was adopted from Peru when she was little and grew up in Utah. She speaks Spanish/English and is going to Brazil speaking Portuguese. I love them! They are so kind and so patient with me. It has been harder for them to adapt to being in a trio than it was for me but we are making it work.
Sweet Sister Maine and my companions
We try our best to speak our languages as much as we can. I can only imagine what we sound like. In the mornings we sing the same hymn in all three languages and whenever we pray together we pray in our assigned languages. Sister Boone also studied sign language for a few years so she will do that sometimes. I am picking up lots of Portuguese, I can understand almost everything she says because a lot of the verbs are the same just pronounced funny. Sister Caceres will say something in Portuguese and I will reply in Spanish pretty much all day long. She tells me things I say don't make sense but she has a hard time helping me with pronunciation because she will get Spanish and Portuguese confused.
Everyone's Dandelions
My first impressions of Wisconsin were that it is beautiful! It is so green. Dandelions grow everywhere here. Every yard is covered with them and although the people call them a weed and try so hard to get rid of them I think they are pretty. I have seen two deer since I have been here. It is so beautiful that I would consider living here. But then I heard that last winter they got snow up to the top of the door I said never mind. The cheese is pretty dang good. Brother and Sister Briggs (who we live with) have all different kinds and they always offer it to us. My favorite is the mango jalapeno cheese. From what I have been exposed to so far I have realized this area has a mix of Canadian and southern culture. They use words like "beag" instead of "bag" and say things like "Lord knows he gonna need help if he forgets to bring my potato pearls again."
I have had lots of experiences this week so I will just share my favorite. My very first lesson in the field, we were teaching a woman named Sulema and her daughter Josie. They have been teaching them for awhile but they hadn't really progressed. We taught with the spirit and I asked them to be baptized. We talked over their concerns and they accepted for June 29th! My companions said that was the best lesson they have ever had with them. God has more work to do in this area. Sulema and Josie are a testament of why I am needed here at this time.
Our humble abode
Later in the week we taught them again. This time we taught Sulema's sister and her fiance Bro. Perkins. Her sister is a recent convert and is very talkative and animated. Bro. Perkins is a very tall, very quiet, black gentlemen who shows little expression so it is funny to see them together. He is very shy and hardly ever makes eye contact. We taught about prophets and prayer and shared a Mormon message about prayer with President Monson in it. The first time it was interrupted of course because Satan always tries to stop it. I swear we always get interrupted in the parts where the spirit is the strongest. We decided to start it over and play it one more time. The spirit was so strong. I shared one of my experiences that I had as a little girl when I prayed. I felt the Spirit projecting through my words with great power. Bro. Perkins made eye contact with me for my entire story and I knew he felt something. We asked Sulema how she felt. She said that she felt good and she felt tingly inside. Her whole countenance had changed and she was smiling. She said she recognized the feeling from five years ago when her sister was visiting with the missionaries. As I heard the prophets voice in that small, dark, humble home I felt the Spirit fill the room with light and recognized again that Thomas S. Monson was a prophet of God and what I was teaching was true. There was too much power to deny it.
My address is 8508 Braun Rd. Racine Wisconsin 83403. You can send letters there. Hope all is well at home!
Con amor,
Hermana Rhoten

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