Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November 30, 2011

1) can someone please identify this for me? They are ALL over and we have no idea what they are. They grow on the trees and they look soft and fluffy, but we discovered that they are actually hard and look a bit like brains...
2) the inside of unknown vegetation...
3) Sister Doll and I after our shopping excursion a few weeks ago. I got a wool skirt and a red sweater. Though I think I'm going to need more skirts... It's just so cold!!!
4) My district.

Dearest Family,

Thanksgiving was different, not being home.

On a related note: if you are ever wondering what you can do to help out the missionaries, invite them over for appointments on Holidays if you can. We are still expected to work on Holidays, but knocking of people's doors just really isn't a good idea... Also- you do not have to feed them dessert every time they come over. I'm pretty certain that's why so many missionaries gain so much weight... Yes it's delicious, but unnecessary.

Momma - that is so cool that you listened to that prompting to stop by .........! Miracles happen when we prepare for them. I will keep them in my prayers.

A little about Sunday: Church was really awesome on Sunday. Don and Rose came again and loved it! The Spirit was so strong in all of the meetings and I had a really great day. In Relief Society the lesson was on Elder Christofferson's talk from April 2011 GenCon and it was really great. I love the story about Hugh B. Brown and the gardener.

Then that afternoon we went to stop by a few people and then go tracting. The houses we went to all seemed to have a ton of company over, so we ended up not stopping to talk to them. When we were down in that neighborhood, we passed a street and I had the thought that we could tract there instead of where we had planned to be, but I didn't make a big deal out of it, so Sister Brown kept driving and we went up to Zurich Lane where we had planned to work. Bad idea. Very few people were home, and of those that were home, most were quite rude. After working that area for 2 hours, we had only had 1 quality gospel conversation. It was cold. It was rainy. It was windy. And it was rough. I learned an important lesson though. If you have an impression - small though it may be - FOLLOW IT. Who knows what could have happened if I had listened to that idea of working Franklin instead of Zurich. Who knows how many people were waiting for us there! And we never met them, because I was too shy to make a big deal about something that I wasn't absolutely certain had come from the Spirit. The Spirit is quiet. And usually not as forceful as we would hope when important matters are at stake. Whether or not there were really hundreds of miracles waiting for us on that street, I should have listened. Because maybe the thought just came to see if I would. But at least I have learned - or am starting to learn - a little better how the Spirit works with me. And maybe I won't always be 100% certain that it was a spiritual prompting, but as long as it's not for anything bad, there really isn't harm in following it. Yes I wish I could know more exactly what is and what isn't a spiritual impression so I know whether or not to act on it, but if I don't start acting, how will I ever find out if it was?

A few items of note before I run out of time: Apparently no one in Illinois has sprinkler systems. I guess it just rains enough... who knew, right?? I guess that's the difference in being from a desert...

Often instead of coming to the door, people will just look out the window and then motion for us to go away. Sometimes they yell at us to find out who we are. It's pretty funny. I just don't understand why yelling through the window is easier than coming to the door...

People here are very cranky and impatient drivers. I feel bad for them.

I love you all so much and am so grateful to have you as my wonderful family. I hope Grandpa gets better soon!

Sister Hatch

P.S. A Louisiana accent turned Chicagan sounds extremely odd. Just in case you were wondering (because I figure that you all probably were...)

Oh. And Mom you can just send the package here because I will be in this area at least until Sister Brown finishes her mission in January, and probably for the next few transfers after that. But I will for certain be here until January 2.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Dear Familia,
Some fun facts to start us off: 1)People go to bed REALLY early here, and by 5:00 is is DARK. Both of these make for very interesting contacting/finding in the evenings... 2) I have discovered a store like-unto Winco, which makes me happy :) It is called Food for Less and you bag your own groceries like Winco and it really is cheaper! Thankfully they do take credit card though. 3) The wind is so LOUD here! In fact, there is so much wind, that I swear you can almost see it sometimes...

I picked up the package this morning and it is wonderful!!! Thank you so much! It really was perfect. And the gloves are nice to have now because my red, possum fur ones seem to have disappeared. Luckily I have still had the little stretchy gray ones, but it is still sad to lose those ones. That little angel is adorable Mom! And the pine cones smell so good! And thanks for all the peanut buttery things. Mmmm...

Saturday was incredible. It was supposed to rain all day and be really windy so we were nervous. But, God knew what we needed and the words to "Be Still my Soul" kept running through my head: "The waves and winds still know His voice who ruled them while he dwelt below" because it didn't rain, the wind didn't start until after we were done, and in fact it was actually quite nice and warmed up a bit. So many people from the ward came to help and it was wonderful. Don and Rose were astounded that so many would come to help and that they did such a fabulous job. Every time we talk to them, they express their extreme gratitude. It has been really neat. Sister Brown and I were also able to go inside and talk with Rose for quite a long time and answer lots of her questions. We had a really good discussion with her and they said they are definitely coming back to church this week! They weren't able to attend Stake Conference this weekend, but they said they WILL be there on Sunday. Yay!

Stake Conference was really good. They had three recent converts/ recently re-activated members talk about what it means to them to "be a Mormon" and they all did a really great job. The Stake Presidency all gave really great talks as well and then the Temple President and his wife spoke. He said that some people would never even dream of missing Sacrament meeting, and some people wouldn't even consider not paying their tithing - so do we feel that way about the Temple? It was a pretty cool perspective. He also said that we shouldn't just be going to the Temple to get a spiritual renewal, but that we should be gearing up spiritually so that we can go to the Temple. He said it much better than that, but that was the point he was making. Another thing I really liked from Stake Conference was from the Stake President. He talked about how conviction leads to action and action leads to revelation.

I don't remember if I ever thanked you for the letter you sent wit all the notes in it! THANK YOU. Thank you Mom and Dad. Thank you Grandma and Grandpa (also thank you for your letter Grandma!). And thank you Quilting Mothers! When I lost Dad's original "fear not" note, it was really hard for me. It was a silly thing I know, but the note meant a lot to me - they all do - and to lose one was difficult. I prayed that I would be able to find it, and I knew that Heavenly Father could easily give me a miracle in which it would turn up. I didn't understand why He wouldn't give me such a small thing, especially because it gave me so much comfort and courage. And then when your letter arrived I realized why Heavenly Father hadn't answered my prayer - at least not in the way I had asked Him to. It was because He had something better in mind for me. If I hadn't lost that note, I wouldn't have gotten all those others and the added love and support and joy that came with them. It's a small example, but it has really taught me that although it may seem like He sometimes doesn't answer our prayers at times, we have to understand that He knows what He is doing, and that what He is doing will be so much better than we could have even imagined or hoped for.

The same day that we met Don, we met a girl named Cierra (who also lives on Poplar) and we have been teaching her, but because she is so busy, we have only been able to meet with her every other Tuesday. We met with her for the third time yesterday. The last time we met with her we read 1 Nephi 1 with her (because she hadn't been reading since our last appointment) and then invited her to read something everyday. When we went back yesterday and asked her how her reading was going, I couldn't have been more pleasently surprised. She has read up to 1 Nephi 22! We were also able to have her say the prayer at the end of the lesson and it was really beautiful. She is wonderful and I am so excited for her. She said she might come to church this Sunday because she doesn't have any dance things this weekend, so we are praying that she WILL come.

For Thanksgiving we are going to the Otto-Piech family's house. Cecily asked if we could help them put up their Christmas tree afterward and I told her only if we could listen to Christmas music ;). Thursday evening we are trying to set appointments with members so that we don't have to be out proselyting and having everyone think we don't celebrate Thanksgiving.

Sister Brown and I continue to grow closer and we are starting to have a lot of fun together. I am very happy.

A lot of my scripture study this week has been bringing with it a recurring theme (that really has been a theme since I was in the MTC with things people have said etc.) That theme is FEAR NOT. Funny how that all works out, right? I have been praying to know how I can become a better missionary, and the answer I seem to be getting is that I need to stop being afraid of inconvienencing people on the sidewalk, or in the store, and just talk to EVERYONE! A scripture related to this theme that I have decided to memorize is D&C 6:33-34. So that is my goal for the next little while: To take advantage of those opportunities Heavenly Father gives me to talk to more people, becuase who knows when one of them will be searching for the Truth.
I love you all so much! Happy Thanksgiving! Our district leader asked us to text him on Thursday and tell him one thing that we are grateful for from that day and one thing that we are most grateful for out of everything, and the thing that I am most grateful for in all the world is My Family. You are such amazing examples to me, and you bring me so much joy and happiness. You are my greatest strength and your loves sustains me through all of the heartache and challenges I have faced in my life, all of those I am now facing, and I know it will through future challenges as well. Thank you for being the wonderful family that you are. Knowing I can be with you all for eternity makes everything else worth it.

All my love,
Ali (though technically I suppose I should say Sister Hatch)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A week of many lessons November 16, 2011

Dear Family,

First things first: HAPPY BIRTHDAY GRANDPA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Fun facts of the week: House numbers in Illinois (or at least my current area) are nearly IMPOSSIBLE to find in the dark. They are even difficult in the daytime. It's the weirdest thing. The numbers are all in really obscure places on the houses and really far away from any lights, so at night you can't see them at all generally. And many of them are spelled out in cursive, so even if you can FIND the number, it's hard to read. It's all very strange.

Mom - will you please tell Nancy that I just found out about a Sister in our mission who also has the name of Nancy! We can never seem to find young Nancy's except for her, so I thought she would like to know about the discovery.

Today we are going shopping with Sister Doll and the Naperville Sisters to get me some winter skirts. Sorry that the spending isn't over quite yet... Next winter should be a breeze though, right??

We met Deb B... yesterday (Art and Maureen's aunt/aunt-in-law) and she is AWESOME!!! Oh my gosh, it was so great meeting her! She said that I reminded her of Maureen, which is a huge compliment, because I LOVE Mo! I didn't ask her about jam though... It just didn't seem to fit... ;)

Sister Brown got really sick Friday night (it's really unfortunate that all of these different things just keep building up against her. It's really no fair. And not fun to sit by helpless) and Saturday we had to stay home all day. We barely got out the apartment on Sunday and have come back early the last two nights.

Oh! Don and Rose came to church on Sunday though!! Yay! They really liked it and we are so happy with how things are going. Now we just need nice weather on Saturday for the service project!

Anyway, because Sister Brown was sick and I cannot be away from her, we were stuck in the apartment all day long. I had a LOT of time to study... My Saturday consisted of being as quiet as possible so that Sister Brown could sleep (which she did most of the day, so I was pretty much by myself all day - it was weird) while studying, cleaning and exercising. And what kind of exercise do you do when you are cooped up in a tiny apartment all day? You go for a fifteen minute run around your living room. Most. Boring. Thing. EVER. Luckily it was nice outside so I opened up the balcony sliding glass door and at least got to look outside and feel a little closer to nature... I also had a lot of time to study, as mentioned earlier. I read a really great talk about becoming a consecrated missionary and I am working on making that a part of my everyday character now. I also began reading "Our Search for Happiness" by Elder Ballard and that is so great! If you haven't read it, you should. Also - Saturday morning we asked the ward mission leader to come over and give Sister Brown a blessing because she was not doing well at all. In the blessing he said that work in this area is ready to blossom and that Sister Brown and I are the key to making that happen. WOW.

Scripture of the week and the story about how I came to discover and love this verse: The other night we were going to the Worlton family's house for dinner. We weren't sure what lesson we wanted to share with them, so we were trying to figure that out. I kept trying to open my Book of Mormon and just see what scripture popped out at me. The third or so time that I did this, I decided to read aloud the scripture that caught my attention on that page. (why this one and not the other two? Because the Spirit was telling me not to read those ones and must have been telling me that this was the one) I read it and then Sister Brown said that that was weird that I chose that scripture because she had been kind of all over the place with her personal study, but that scripture had come up a few times. A number of strange coincidences? I think not. We chose to share with them Alma 38:5. As we shared it with the Worltons, Sister Worlton said, "Thank you for that Sisters. I think that was just for me." and then she shared a story about earlier that week when she had been hurrying around trying to get things done and couldn't find something she really needed. She and her youngest son decided to say a prayer and in it she basically said "I only have ten minutes to find this Father, please help me...", and they found it five minutes later. It was really cool to see how the Spirit had guided us to that scripture and that it helped reinforce to Sister Worlton that lesson that the Lord had been teaching her already that week. I LOVE these little miracles!

I love you all! Talk to you next week!
Sister Hatch

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

November 9, 2011

Me studying on my ghetto bed.
The view from our apartment. Fall is so beautiful!

What happens when you are a missionary, Halloween, and your companion's birthday all occur together.

Dear Family who I love so dearly,
First of all: for being so close to Wisconsin, there is a shocking lack of good cheese here. I miss the delicious taste of cheese!!

Sister Brown's birthday was last week and her family sent her a package. Inside was a present for me! It was the General Conference issue of the Ensign!!! Yay! I am so happy to have it.
So sometimes in the mornings when we are studying, it is quite cold. Since I only have one blanket, I end up unmaking my bed in order to wrap myself in my comforter. It is quite an adventure.
Our downstairs neighbor is Hispanic and every Thursday during weekly planning we have the privilege of being serrenaded by the lovely FIESTA music that they play very loudly. It's really funny - especially when they start to sing along. The really cool news about this same neighbor though, Emmanuel, is that we met with him on Monday (he asked Sister Brown and her old companion when they were ever going to come over and talk to him about our church) and we were able to teach him a little! Due to the language barrier though, we passed him off to the Spanish Elders. They met with him yesterday and called to tell us that he is now a new investigator!
How are Grandma and Grandpa doing?
Danny - thank you SO much for your email. It was great to hear from you, and just what I needed today.
Have I mentioned how many PETS people have here?? I swear every door we knock on, we are greeted by the sound of at least 2 dogs barking and most of them have a few cats as well. It's crazy. It is very unusual when we find someone without any pets.
An exciting discovery of this week: my shoes leak. Cool... I fear this magnificent Indian summer we've been experiencing may finally be over.
Things are going well with Don. He is awesome and his wife is really opening up. We need your prayers for them for a few things though. They were having some problems with their cars and Rose (his wife) said that when they figured out the car thing, there were definitely going to go to church. Don said a prayer the night before they went to go figure stuff out, received a prompting to bring the title with them, and the next day everything worked out!! So, they are coming THIS SUNDAY! If they don't have to babysit that is. So please pray that they will not have to babysit. We really want them to come to church. I think it will make the world of difference in helping Rose and in helping Don make the connection betweent the Spiritual and the logical. I think he has both parts figured out, he just hasn't put them together yet. The other thing I would ask you to specifically pray for, is that we will have nice weather on November 19th. They need a lot of work done in their yard, which Don can't do because he has really bad osteoarthritis. We told them that we would gladly help and we would get the ward involved as well. They have tried to get help from family and other churches, but have never received that help, so our offer is huge for them. This service (and some other help a member of the ward has given with their cars) is a major factor is how much Rose's heart has been softened. We need to be able to help them on that day! And it will be a great opportunity to talk with Rose because she is always at work when we are able to meet with Don. So far she has just been learning things as her husband shares them.
I love you all so much! Thank you for your updates, for you love and support, and for your prayers.
Love, Sister Hatch

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Dearest Family,
Thank you for the letters everyone!!!!  They were wonderful!  (the people around me in the library right now probably think I'm crazy because I kept [quietly mind you] laughing at all the cute and funny things you all shared...)

The Story about Don:
One night we were looking at the map, planning where we would go tracting the next day, and a street name JUMPED out at me.  The street was named Poplar.  I got really excited when I saw it, and Sister Brown agreed that we could go there.  We talked to some really cool people, and ended up setting up appointments to return to two of them.  One was a girl named Cierra who is in high school still.  She is really cool.  The other was Don.  As we were talking, before we even really said anything about our beliefs, he started telling us his beliefs and we were just thinking, yeah... that's true.  yeah... we know.  Almost everything he said lined up with something that we teach in the church.  He had known about the church from family history and knew a little about our history and had in fact defended the church on a number of cases about the polygamy thing.  Pretty cool.  He is 63 years old and is unable to work becuase he has really bad osteoarthritis, but some minister gave him a blessing type thing about a year and a half ago, and he hasn't had a major attack since.  Anyway...  When he was younger he had actually studied to be a minister, but then decided not to be one afterall.  He knows a lot about religions though and loves learning about them.  He invited us back, and we gave him a card to look things up before we came back to meet with him.  When we called him the day before to confirm the appointment, he said that as he was looking at the website he kept asking himself, "Did I write this? Or did someone else? Because this is exactly what I think!"  Can you say "GOLDEN" or what??  He also has two CRAZY dogs who are loud and yippy and don't like new people.  When we went over for our first appointment, the dogs took about 2 minutes getting to know us, and then when we all sat down, they went to the living room and were quiet.  The only distraction they caused was that Don was surprised they were being so good!  It was really cool.  He told us that he normally doesn't like talking to religious people because he disagrees with so much of what they say that he just wants to annoy them as much as possible and then get rid of them as soon as possible.  But it's different with us.  He loves having us come over!  He also said that whenever he walks into a church, he feels uncomfortable.  There are some churches he won't even go into anymore, because he just feels so weird when he's there.  But when he went to one of our churches to work on family history stuff, he felt good and comfortable and calm.  He said agrees with 99.9% of what he reads on, and the other .1% he doesn't agree with is just because he doesn't understand it yet.  As soon as we explain what it means, he's like, "Okay.  That makes sense.  I like that..." 
His wife is, first of all really busy, so we've only ever seen her once, and second of all much more skeptical.  They've had some bad experiences with churches in the past, so she is hesitant to really agree with anything at this point.  All on his own, Don started telling us that he was working on his wife.  He doesn't want to push her, but he really wants her to see and hear and feel what he does when he meets with us and reads from the Book of Mormon.  He is working on getting her to come to church because HE really wants to come to church and he knows that if he can get her there, she will like it. 
I'm telling you, this man is amazing!  He is basically teaching himself and all we have to do is reassure him that it's true and help him recongnize that reason everthing feels so different with us is becuase it's true and that is the Spirit working within him. 
Okay, now that I got that incredible story told, I can tell you about all the other funny little things that have been going on.  There is a family in our ward (well actually 2, they are brothers and the one has 6 kids and the other has 10).  They are related to some Hatches, so he asked me for some family history info and then did some research and found out that we are related through the Hatches that came to America with the pilgrims in the 1600s.  
The other day we went to this apartment complex to try to see this lady:  we've been trying to see this lady Patty, but her phone is always off or doing something weird, so we have been trying to just stop by.  The problem is, the outside door to her building is locked and the buzzer doesn't work.  Kind of complicates the situation.  I have been PRAYING that somehow we would be able to run into her, and that day when we went, the door into the building just happened to have been left open.  We were able to get inside, and though she wasn't home, we left a note with our number with the girl who answered the door.  Hopefully she will call us soon.
A great thing I have realized, and very much appreciate, about the people of the Bolingbrook/Woodridge area:  They don't scrimp on toilet paper.  Almost every house I have been to, they use the soft, thick, good stuff.  None of this thin scratchy cheap stuff.  It's great :)  (and yes I realize how weird that is to share)
Halloween is a SUPER awkward holiday as a missionary!  Our job is to go around knocking on people's doors and to talk to them about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Doesn't exactly work when kids are going around knocking on people's doors asking for candy...  Luckily we found out that Illinois has a mandated time period for trick or treating, so we were able to work around that particular time.  Which was convenient, but also weird.  I have never heard of that before, but it's a great idea.
We have been very blessed with beautiful weather and I am very grateful for it.  I love you all!  It was good to hear from you.  I will have to print off your emails next week so I can have them to keep reading because they bring me so much joy!!
Love, Sister Hatch

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

October 26, 2011

Dearest Family of Mine,
Thank you so much for all of the wonderful pictures from the girls!!  They are sitting on my desk so that I can see them all the time :)  It sounds like everyone had/is having fun in Minnesota!  That picture of Jack and Norah is so cute!  Something I forgot to say in my last letter, despite my note to remind myself, was to say Happy Anniversary to Mom and Dad and HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Danny!!  I really did remember.  I promise.  I thought about you on Sunday and Monday respectively. 
This is going to be really jumbled, but so that I don't miss anything THIS week, I'm just going to start at the top of my list and then work down from there.
My feelings on tracting (as I explained it to a member after my first few days):  It's kind of like I'm in a dream.  And because I am in this dream-like state, I really have no inhibitions.  It's great!  Though now that I kind of have a better feel for where I am and what is really going on, some inhibitions have begun to creep in, but I'm working on keeping them out.  Sometimes we tract in the freezing cold and the rain, and then other days it is beautiful and sunny out.  Mother nature cannot make up her mind.  I'm really okay with that though, becuase I wasn't expecting to have any more nice days.  So if she wants to go ahead and be indecisive for awhile yet, that's just fine with me!
Last week I bought my winter coat!  Or coats rather...  It has been discovered that that lovely raincoat we bought will not be sufficient for the time between now and deep winter when I will need a full body armor coat to keep out the wind and cold.  So we went to Burlington (Goodwill didn't have any coats) and I got a nice wool coat for the transition period and then a super intense, down filled, goes to my ankles almost, has fur on the hood "deep-winter" coat.  I also got some thicker tights (ps sweater tights are AMAZING!), leggings, long socks, and some thermals.  Just in case you were wondering what all those charges that will soon be appearing on my credit card statement were about...  Sister Brown has assured me that all of these things are a necessity.  I am still looking for boots.  I am trying my best to find good prices, but it's hard right now because no winter stuff is on sale, and I can't afford to wait until it is.
Have you ever heard the 7 promises of making a serious study of the Book of Mormon by Marion G. Romney as quoted by President Benson?  You should look it up.  They are SUPER cool.  We've been sharing it with a lot of families.  We haven't been giving them copies of the October Ensign though.  I'll talk to Sister Brown about how we can get some copies.  That sounds like a cool idea.
Daddy - I need something from you very desperately.  You know all those notes you wrote?  Well I have them all in a pile on my dresser, but one of them I kept in my coat pocket where I found it.  It was on a little blue piece of paper and I "laminated" it with packing tape so that it would last longer.  But somehow on Thursday it must have fallen out.  Because I no longer have it.  It was the note that said "FEAR NOT".  Will you please send me another one??  It gave me strength every time I put my hand in my pocket, but now it isn't there.  I would very much like it back.  On a less urgent note, but still important, I also lost one that said something like "Ali, make sure to sing today" from you, also on blue paper.  Could you please re-create those for me?  So that I still have them all?
We have a Hindu temple here.
The Fall is beautiful here!!!!  And thank you SO much for the fall decorations Momma!  It made me so happy when I saw them in the package!  
Have I mentioned that I am longer than my bed?  Because I am...
Have you ever heard of a movie called "Night of the Twisters"?  Apparently it's a true story and a less active man in our ward we visited the other night is from the area that it takes place in...
We had an awesome thunder storm last night with crazy lightening.  It was super cool.
We are teaching a man named Don Carson right now and he is so cool!!  I will have to tell you more about him next week because Sister Brown is already done and I think she wants to go soon...
Your questions:  We live in an apartment.  It's not bad.  My bed is super ghetto though.  My extremely thin and weak mattress is resting on a frame and two box springs (why there are two I cannot tell for the life of me) which are both falling apart.  It's pretty funny.  We eat with members A LOT which is really awesome.  It surprises me how many less active members invite us over for meals too, but that is always really cool when they do.   We do get one copy of the Ensign, but Sister Brown said that it usually come pretty late to us.  I want to get my own copy of the conference issue though at least.  I suppose I see the issue with sending the jam...  I'll just have to do without I suppose :( 
I'm so glad those Sisters were able to see Deb and Dan!!  yay!
Well I can tell Sister Brown is getting impatient, so I'll say goodbye for now.  Oh!  She's from Washington, but her family moved to Salt Lake her senior year of high school.  She will be 27 next week.  
I love you all SOOOOOOOOOO Much! 
Sister Hatch