Thursday, October 20, 2011

Week One in Woodridge

Dearest familia,

This first week has been great!  Items of business first, funny items of note second, and then the good stories.

Mom - can you send me some homemade jam possibly??  Please??   I forgot to tell you that while I was in the MTC I ran 2 miles!  Without stopping! It was awesome.  I also ran a 1.5 miles another day with some stairs in the middle.  That was a crazy day...

Alicia and Alan - we live really close to a Menards.  It makes me laugh and think of you every time we drive by.

We also live near Robinhood Way.  There is also a Galahad Road and many other various Robinhood and King Arthur associated street names.  I also saw a Janes Avenue the other day, and obviously thought of Jane.  Another amusing street is Shady Lane.  And my favorite, Cheese Road.  (Sister Westrup, if you are reading my blog, you will have to pass this info on to Rebekah.  I immediately thought of her when I saw it.)  Really though, who named these streets??  I always have loved funny street names, and Illinois is certainly a good place to find some great ones!  

Amy - the other day I was thinking about what snack foods I wanted to buy when preparation day came, and I got a craving for fruit leathers.  That night when we got home, we checked the mail.  There was a letter for me from you.  With a fruit leather inside.  Beautiful.     Also I LOVED the girls paintings and notes!  They crack me up.

People in Illinois REALLY get into Halloween.  I have never seen so many elaborately decorated houses in my life!  I can't even imagine what Christmas will be like. 

The Work:  My second day we started tracting, and Sister Brown seems to forget sometimes that I am new, so at our first door she was thinking that I knew exactly what was going on and what I was doing, so she just didn't say anything.  After a few awkward seconds of the person who answered the door waiting for us to talk, I had to speak up and I gave my first door approach.  Luckily that was just a stop by of someone that they had already met before I got there and not a totally random door approach, but it was still a little nerve racking.  I really like tracting though, and most people are really nice to us.  

We started teaching two new people this week and they are AWESOME!  Michelle and Cierra.  Michelle has three kids and has TONS of questions.  She is one of those people that is already living most of the gospel standards, she just doesn't realize she is.  Cierra is a senior at Bolingbrook High School.  We taught her the Restoration on Tuesday and when we asked her to pray to ask God if it was true she said, "I'm pretty sure He'll say 'yes'. "  AHH!!!!  So exciting!  He WILL say yes Cierra!  He WILL!  

The other day I glanced at the map and saw that there was a Poplar Ln, so of course I said, "Sister Brown!  We have to tract on Poplar!"  And it was the COOLEST street EVER!  That's where we found Cierra :)  And another man that we are meeting with next week.  And some other really nice people.  And a lady named Judy that said she would like to come to church some time.  Umm.... AWESOME!  That is totally okay with me.  The street where we found Michelle is called Lexington and that came about because of what we call "map miracles".  We had dinner Friday night with a family and as our lesson afterward we talked to them about prayer and how Heavenly Father WILL answer our prayers.  We gave them an area of the map to choose from and then asked them to pick two streets for us to tract and then to pray for us and those streets as we would go to work on them the next day at a specific time.  It was a really great street and we talked to so many people!!  It was awesome :)

We had Zone Conference yesterday and that was really great.  We learned lots of great stuff and about having greater faith and expecting miracles.  Elder Ellis of the Seventy came to teach us.  It was also really fun because all of the missionaries from my MTC district that came to Chicago were there too!  It was fun to see them all.

  LOVE YOU!!!!!!!

Sister Hatch

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Welcome to Chicago with me family!  Where my adventures and tales will now be coming from for the next 18 months.  

Yesterday we woke up at 3:15 AM so that we could be ready to leave the MTC by 4.  One of the Elders was late though, so we didn't leave until 4:30...  Security took FOREVER and I wasn't sure we would make it through in time, but then thankfully they opened up the rest of the lines and the pace started picking up.  We ended up getting through just fine and everyone had time to call their families.  Since I had talked to Mom for a couple of minutes while waiting for the security line, everyone else called first, and then because we still had a few minutes before boarding, I was able to call Dad and talk to him for a couple of minutes as well.  It was really great to talk to both of you.  I LOVE YOU!

On the plane I sat next to a lady who is in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and was headed to Chicago to do some family history work.  So cool!  She was really nice and I had fun talking to her.  When she found out that I had been up since three and hadn't had time to eat breakfast before we left, she kindly shared half of her breakfast with me.  I am very grateful that she did.  I know I would have been fine, but I just get so HUNGRY!  So while not necessary for my survival, it was very much appreciated.  

We landed in Chicago around 11 and the Mission President, his wife and the assistants were all there to greet us.  They took our luggage, gave us all some pass-along cards and a Book of Mormon and told us to go get on the train and give them away.  One assistant (so we didn't get lost) took three of us each and we were all on different cars.  I talked to a lady from Sweden who was visiting with her husband, but they had missed their day before and so decided to visit downtown while they were stuck in Chicago for the day.  We talked for awhile, and then as I have been trained to do, I turned the conversation toward God and what I do as a missionary.  She didn't believe in God, but I told her that I believed he was there and that he loved her, and then I gave her a pass-along card.  I don't think she'll actually visit the website, but she might.  And either way, at least the seed is planted.  Then I talked to a Catholic lady who thought it was great that I was out telling people about God, because as she said, lots of people need to hear that message.  I gave her a card too, and then we got off at our stop and walked to where we were meeting President and Sister Doll for lunch.  We had some tasty deep dish pizza and then they put us back on the public transportation to do some more contacting.  This time we were on a train that was two stories tall.  Walking in that train station was for some reason highly intimidating.  It was just so big and industrial!  It wasn't huge and open and crowded like the train stations in Italy though.  It was weird.  Cool.  But weird.  

Anyway, this time we were all on the same car, because Elder Roberts had all of our tickets (which, P.S. I love that the guy had to come around and punch all of our tickets!  It just seems so olden-time or Polar Express...)  Most of us were on the top, and it was hard to start talking to people because they were single seats all facing forward, but a guy across the train from me started talking to one of the Spanish Elders and then when he asked him about the "Elder" on his name tag, I got brought into the conversation as part of the explanation that Elder and Sister are titles, setting us apart as missionaries.  I was actually really glad to be pulled into the conversation because I had been listening from across the way, wondering how Elder Hoobler would go about things.  He started asking us really great questions like what the gospel of Jesus Christ means to us and how the Book of Mormon and Bible support each other.  So I told him that the Gospel of Jesus Christ was to have faith, repent, be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end.  Then the guy behind Elder Hoobler asked a few questions and before we left, Elder Roberts (one of the assistants sitting a few seats farther back) gave him a pass along card.  I gave the first guy a Book of Mormon, and I know that a lot of other people heard what we were talking about because A) I had to talk loud to be heard across the great divide that was the open space of train, and B) Sister Fossett was talking to a guy downstairs and she said he was asking her if we were with her, and she said another lady kept looking up and listening.

It was so cool!!  Seeds were planted.  And I really think those two guys, Alex and Mike, might actually read the Book of Mormon.  They were both really receptive, and what I think Sister Christensen would call, "the elect" - those ready to hear our message.  

We went to the mission office, met the senior couples and had some orientation, and then went to the mission home for dinner and bed.  Best night's sleep I've had in three weeks.  Combination effect of: homemade food, comfortable bed, and being EXHAUSTED.  This morning we had breakfast and then headed right out for the church where we had some more orientation/training, and then we were given our assignments and trainers!  My companion's name is Sister Brown and she seems really nice.  I think we are going to get along really well.  We have an appointment tonight, and I'm a little nervous, but mostly just excited.  I am serving in the Woodbridge 2nd ward in the Joliet area.  

President and Sister Doll seem really nice, and I am excited to be here.  Wednesday in my preparation day now, so that's when you can expect to hear from me, and make sure to write me by then.  Letters in the mail are really great too, because then I can have them and don't have to wait until preparation day to read them, and don't have to use my computer time reading them.  Just a few ideas... though I definitely still want emails.  

I love you all so much!  I am doing great and so excited to be in CHICAGO!  The weather was perfect yesterday and today is another beautiful day!  I hope it stays for a while...

Sister Hatch

MTC - October 4, 2011

Thank you so much everyone for the updates on Norah!  And welcome to the family little girl!

I am doing so much better this week than last week!!  I can't believe I'm already done with two weeks here and that I only have one left.  I can't believe how much we are learning here!  General Conference was awesome.  We were promised that if we thought of questions before hand, that they would be answered.  I prayed to know what questions Heavenly Father wanted me to ask and then wrote those down.  After Conference, I went back through my notes and wrote down all the different ways that my questions were answered, and all the different talks that answered them in their various ways.  It was really cool to see that happen.  I really can't pinpoint a favorite talk because they all had so many important things and all answered my questions in different ways, but some that I loved especially were President Uchtdorf's, Elder Ardern's, Elder Carl B. Cook's (where he talked about looking up instead of down), Sister Dalton's, President Monson's on Sunday morning, Elder Richard's (real life, real learning, real teaching) and Elder Cornish (we need to not just say our prayers, we need to LIVE them).  I think the theme for me this conference was about TRUST.  Saturday evening after Conference I finally had time to have a really good study session.  It was like Heavenly Father was saying to me, "I see how hard you have been trying to study and not get distracted, so I'm going to give you this evening to not only study the things that you have been asked to work on by your teachers, but as you do that, I am going to give you inspiration for yourself and for you investigators beyond anything you would have imagined possible."  It was an incredible hour and a half of just learning from the scriptures and learning from the Spirit.

My goal for this last week was to make week 2 a spiritually progressing week, rather than taking a dive as Sister Christensen (one of my teachers) explained tends to be the phenomenon at the MTC.  I think I did a pretty good job of that, though things definitely weren't perfect.  1 Nephi 2:9-10 became my sort of theme.  It is where Lehi is telling his sons how he wishes they would choose to be, and I thought, "you know, I can choose to be that.  In fact, I DO choose to be that way."

I have also been working a lot on trying to follow the Spirit in my teaching.  I am working on being able to simplify my teaching and allowing the Spirit to take charge of the lesson, rather than letting my own knowledge of facts about whatever lesson I am teaching run away with me...  It has been very challenging, and I am not always successful at it, but those moments when I am truly able to let the Spirit guide me completely make up unmeasurably for the unsuccessful times.  Sister Kearnes and I had a really great lesson yesterday with one of our investigators, Lawanna.  We had really taken the time to plan beforehand, and we were so blessed when we finally got into the lesson.  We didn't even end up following our plan most of the way through, but the Spirit guided us and I know it was becuase we put in the effort to prepare before.  Afterwards, Sister Kearnes just did a dance of celebration down the hallway and I teared up a little I was so filled with joy for the blessing that had come to us from doing things as we have been directed.  Because we had PLANNED with the Spirit, we were able to TEACH by the Spirit.

Funny story really quick about last week:  I told you I was getting sick, and on Wednesday we were at the TRC waiting to get assigned a room to teach an investigator (really just volunteers).  It wasn't even 9 in the morning, but I was exhausted.  I just kind of rolled over on the side of the couch and rested until the man came in to tell us where to go.  After the lesson we had gym time, so Sister Kearnes made me stay in our room and sleep.  I miraculously remembered that Ann gave me ear plugs and I ended up sleeping for like 2 1/2 hours!  (I'll have to finish this later!)

I get to call you from the airport on Tuesday!  My flight leaves at 7:15 so I'll probably be calling around 6 or 6:30.  I guess I'll have to call your cell phone mom since you aren't home.  And then I'll call Dad too.  I can talk for 15 minutes they said.  I wish I had more time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (right now to write that is...)

I love you all so much!  Keep the letters coming!  I have lots of time to read them, just not much time to write back.

Sister Hatch