Tuesday, February 28, 2012

I did get your letter with all the fun Olympics stuff! That sounds like a really great activity and I was glad to see there was such a big emphasis on the investigator FHE :)

That is so exciting that the 16th ward is having so many baptisms!! And I am very excited for Orchid :) Tanya's letters have been great. I really enjoy getting them, I just don't always have a ton of time to write back, but I am hoping to get to writing her back one of these days! Just let her know in the mean time, that I really appreciate them. How are the Elders finding people to teach and baptize? Are they knocking doors? Or are they member referrals?

Naperville is a tough area for finding on our own. We NEED the members involvement to get anywhere with these people! They are so busy and suspicious that they rarely open the door for us, and if they do they are interested. Those that say they are interested just end up not being there when they tell us to come back. So we need the members - badly. The last three baptisms the 2nd ward had were all member related and we're thinking the only way we're going to get another 3 is if we can get referrals from the members and start teaching them in their homes. The great thing about this, is that the members are already SO GOOD at talking to their friends and neighbors about being members of the church! They invite them to church and activities, and they aren't shy at all about letting people know they are Mormon. Now we just have to figure out how to take that willingness to share into finding people to actually teach. It's hard not teaching anyone right now.

Brother O..., the Ward Mission Leader (WML) in the 2nd ward is working on a really great program right now to get the members more involved and ready to share the gospel. He wants to do a dry run in April of an event called "Meet the Mormons" where they use mormon.org style videos to talk about what it means to be a Mormon and really let people know that we focus on Jesus Christ. Then, once the members know what the event is actually going to be like, they'll be more willing to invite their friends (and they'll know what to tell them about it) because they will already know what it's going to be like and they won't have to wonder if anything crazy is going to happen! We're really excited about it and we're hoping the 3rd ward will want to join as well. Right now we're thinking we'll have workshops and things after the presentation to help the members set up profiles on mormon.org and other things to help prepare for the actual event, but we aren't sure what all of the workshops should be. Any ideas?

Sister Sorensen and I volunteered to do the musical number at our Zone Conference in March which happens to be on my birthday! She has a beautiful voice and we have a lot of fun singing together. I'm a little nervous though because the last couple months my voice has been acting weird... It sounds like I have a sore throat all the time, but it's not scratchy at all. My doctor asked me about my speaking voice because she noticed the scratchy sound. It's like there's something in the middle of my throat that my voice has to get over every time I sing. I can still sing the low notes, and I can still sing the high notes, but I can't sing the ones in the middle. It is very annoying. See what you can find out about weird voice changes like the one I described? That would be great if you can find anything for me to even ask about.

The doctor said I also have mono. Awesome, right? I don't feel like I have mono though, because I'm not super exhausted, but the test came back positive so I guess that must be right. All the heart tests came back negative, so that's good at least! There were a few elevated numbers of some enzymes in my liver and my thyroid, but the accompanying antibodies with that particular thyroid elevation were not present so they aren't sure what's going on there. She is having get more bloodwork done on Wednesday to re-test those things. We'll see what happens!

about the pictures:
1) We went to a baptism in Prestbury (S. Sorensen's last area) and all the Sisters sang a medly of I Need thee Every Hour and When I am baptized and some Tongan song. The little boy Julian was one of Sister Sorensen's recent convert's sons.
2) self explanatory... this is just awesome.
3-5) The 3rd ward had an Iron Chef activity on Saturday and we were the judges. The rule was that everyone who made something had to team up with a less active or a non member. It was really fun. The prizes were chef hats with the label of what category they won. They also had some cool silhouette decorations on the walls.

I love you lots and lots and lots!
Ich hab euch lieb!
Schwester (Sister) Hatch

Monday, February 13, 2012

So you're probably all wondering how I ended up in the ER...

Dear Mom and Dad (and everyone else),

I'm sorry to hear that Dad has been so sick. It was kind of funny though, because I had a little bit of a cold last weekend, and I thought, oh how interesting that we are all sick at the same time! It must be our family's way of staying connected or something even though we're a thousand miles apart. And then it wasn't so funny anymore - and it wasn't just a cold. And so here is the story of how I ended up at the ER and all the accompanying aftermath:

Tuesday morning, 1:30 am. I wake up in excruciating pain coming from every single muscle in my body. My arms, my legs, my back, even my fingers and toes. Every movement sent sharp pains throughout my body. After 2 hours of this, I finally accepted the fact that things just weren't getting any better. I was about to wake up Sister Stewart when she actually woke up on her own, because the pain was so bad that my breathing had changed enough to tip her off that something was wrong. We decided to call someone for a blessing. I can't tell you how grateful I am to be serving in an area where I know that I can call someone for a blessing at 3:45 in the morning and it will be no problem at all. We were able to get a hold of Brother Brown, and he and his son came right over. The two things I remember from the blessing were that 1) those caring for me would be creative in the methods they used and 2) there would be no lasting damage from this, whatever it is. Then we called Brother Ioannou because he is an MD to get his opinion on what we should do. Anyway, we called him, and he said to go to the ER because he was afraid it might be something that could turn really serious really fast.

4:30 am ish we arrive at the hospital. Brother Brown and his son had helped me get into my coat, down the stairs and into the car, then led the way as we followed them to the ER. I could barely walk, so they got me a wheelchair at the hospital, and helped us get inside and started on the checking in process. I am so grateful for them!! We could not have done it alone.

I got checked in and the nurses and doctor asked me a few questions and then determined that it was probably just a bad virus, so there really wasn't anything they could do. They took a sample just to check if anything showed up but when they didn't see anything, they released me. They had given me some Motrin so the pain wasn't so bad by that point, but it was still pretty bad. All day Tuesday I slept. Every hour or so I would wake up and eat something, but then just went right back to bed. Sister Stewart was great and would bring everything to me, because I didn't have the strength to get up. Not only did my whole body hurt, but I was very weak. That night I got a fever (even while on ibuprofen) but it eventually broke and that seemed to be the worst of it. Then Wednesday I started noticing a tightness in my chest that hadn't been there before. I called Brother Ioannou just to make sure it was nothing to worry about. After describing to him what all had happened, but that I have been having some aches in my wrists and knees for several months now (just never to that magnitude) he suggested I go see a doctor. His guess was that this is more than just a virus and based on the blessing Brother Brown gave me, that's what I was thinking too.

Thursday I called Dr. Weinberg's office and they happened to have an appointment available Friday morning. I took it! Her office is in Naperville, just west of us. We went Friday morning, and I explained the situation to her. I don't remember exactly how she said it, but basically her point was that yes, there are a lot of viruses going around, and my body is entitiled to one just like everyone else's, but that there are about a million OTHER things that could be causing this, and she thought we should find out what it is. She ordered a BUNCH of crazy blood/lab work to be done including checking my thyroid, as well as an ultrasound of my heart (2D echo) and an EKG. I'm having that done on Wednesday, and then I'll have another appointment with her after the results are in.

I'm doing much betternow, and I can move relatively pain free, though my fingers and toes are still swollen and I feel like I've jammed them. It's weird too because it's worse in the morning and gets better throughout the day.

Conveniently her office is in Naperville which is where I just got transferred to. That's right, I'm being transferred tomorrow. I will still be in the Joliet Stake, and in fact I will still be in the same District! Just a new area... It will be nice to get updates from Sister Stewart on how everyone is doing. She will be training - so Woodridge gets two greenies in a row!

We got the call late Saturday, so Sunday at church I had to tell everyone I would be leaving. It was really hard to say goodbye to Don and Rose, and Rose got teary, which then made me teary (because we all know I'm just a waterworks waiting to happen). I've promised them like 17 times that when I'm done with my mission I'm coming back to visit - and I intend to keep that promise. They have become so special to me! It breaks my heart that I won't get to see them, and Jasmine and Cierra and Tina (who also came to church yesterday!) continue in their journey of progressing in the gospel. I feel like they're mine - It's not that I don't trust Sister Stewart and other future missionaries to take care of them, because I do, it's just hard to leave them behind. They're all special too because they are my first few investigators and the ones that I have gone the farthest with. Yes, we've taught a lot of other people, but these few are the ones that have stuck, and they will stick with me.

Oh! I forgot to add, that in the midst of all my crazy health issues, Sister Stewart has been having her own lovely array of complications. She is going to the doctor for a few things. So this week has been ultra crazy between my ER visit, her doctor, my doctor, her bloodwork, and scheduling more work for both of us. Coordinating all that with Sister Doll AND the mission doctor Elder Craner. And we had to get a new phone because ours was going berzerk.

So, while we didn't get much work done this week as far as usual missionary work goes, we still ended up with 9 lessons (the mission standard of excellence is 20) and FIVE investigators at church!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That's the part that makes me most excited. That's the most we've ever had, and they all had a really good time.

So yeah... I think that about covers it. It is starting to get colder, but still not much snow. When it gets in the teens though, and the wind blows, I like to call it "March of the Penguins" Cold.

I'm just really excited to work with Sister Sorensen. She is in my district, so I already know her pretty well and she's great :). Sheonly has one transfer left though and will be going home at the end of March.

I'm glad to hear theTenney household is doing better! And I hope Dad gets doing better soon as well! I told you I got Sue's package, right? It was so fun! And how are the New Yorkers doing? I love hearing from you all! And tell Grandma and Grandpa thanks for the letter a few weeks ago! I haven't gotten to writing them back yet...

I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! miss you! But mostly, I just really really love you.
Sister Hatch

Monday, February 6, 2012

of Germans, Gin, and Poker Chips.....

Dearest Familia,

Did our Stake get two more new wards?? Or did Meridian 7&8 just get renamed? Because Brother Davis in his "high counselor" letter said something about a few wards I've never heard of...

Did you see the Janssens in the Ensign?? I was on exchanges and Sister Daley and I were flipping through, and suddenly I saw people I knew! It was very exciting :)

Jasmine's mom was finally home when we went to teach her!!!! YAY! She sat down with us and we had a great discussion. We gave her a Book of Mormon in French, but I guess she actually reads/understands Creole much better. So now we're working on tracking down a Creole BoM. The Zone Leaders were a little surprised when we asked for that one... :) But really, it was great. She sat down with us, and is really interested in learning too, and very excited to read the BoM. She wanted Jasmine to be able to come to church too, even though she wouldn't be able to take her because she would be at work! And now THAT, my dear friends, in an adventurous story...

We had arranged for Brother and Sister Cox to pick up Jasmine for church because they lived close by, and Sister Cox is a YW advisor. We planned to meet them there, so Jasmine could be introduced before getting in car with people she didn't know (her mom made sure we would only have someone that we trusted pick her up :) which of course we were planning on). We got to Jasmine's and waited for the Cox's to come, but they never came. We tried calling, thinking perhaps they were just late in leaving, but they didn't answer. We called Sister Anderson (who is in YW with her, to see if she had a cell phone number). The only other number she had for Sister Cox, turned out to be a work number. Disappointed and confused, we resigned ourselves to the fact that we would just have to tell Jasmine that we were sorry, but they never showed, and we would just have to try again next week. But when we got to the door, and saw her coming, she was all dressed up and ready and she looked so pretty! It broke my heart to think of telling her we wouldn't be able to get her to church. Thankfully Sister Stewart was closer to the door and said that we would try someone else really quickly. I called the Andersons again, but they didn't answer and must have already left. I didn't know who else to call, because it was getting so late, and everyone that lived by Jasmine had probably already left. I decided to give the Beylers a try, since Sister Beyler and Grace had met Jasmine on an appointment a few weeks ago. Sister Beyler answered!!! She said they were just getting ready to leave, and that they would be right there to pick her up. Hurray! We were saved! The Beylers came a few minutes later, and Sister Beyler told us that they had literally been walking out the door when the phone rang. She almost didn't anwer, but then had the impression that she should. How grateful I am that she heeded that prompting!

The story doesn't end there though. We all got in our cars, and were heading out of the neighborhood, when we see the Coxs, driving the other way, back toward Jasmine's house! Sister Stewart and I turned around, and hailed them down by honking as Sister Cox was walking up to Jasmine's front door. It turns out they had been driving around trying to find her house, but were at the wrong place because they had mis-heard what I described about where she lived. Anyway, they had tried calling and had left us a message, but our phone has been wigging out lately, so we never got the call! Needless to say, by the end of all that, we were late to church, and the ward was all looking at us funny when we walked in, but we got Jasmine to church, and that's all that matters!

And she loved it! And she wants to go to mutual too :) We're pretty excited for her and her family. Hopefully as we start teaching her mom more, we will be able to teach her cousins (who already sit in sometimes) and her aunt and uncle as well.

The other exciting thing about church is that Mario came again, and he brought his roommate with him! So cool. On Thursday we had a lesson with Mario, and he said he's not ready for baptism yet, but that's definitely the direction he's going, and he does want to be a part of the church.

Don and Rose are doing well, though their friend Bill, who has been renting a room from them, just passed away last night. It's sad, but it's also good because Bill was really sick and Rose just couldn't keep taking care of him. Hopefully soon they will be able to find someone else to rent the room from them though, because finances will be really rough without the extra rent income.

Oh... and I suppose I should explain that title, eh? Friday I was on exchanges in Wheaton and Sister Daley and I were stopping by one of their potential investigators. As we were coming out, we started talking to this man in the garage next door, because his dog came out to greet us. We told him who we were and a little about what we do as missionaries. He had lived in Salt Lake years ago, so he knew about the church. He told us that the dog's name was Morgen, as in the German morgen meaning "morning" so then I asked him if he was German. He said his mom and grandmother were, and then asked me in German if I spoke German, and I said, "Ja, ich kann ein bischen. Ich habe zwei Jahren an der Universitaet gestudiert." We spoke in broken German for a while, because neither of ours was very good, and then he offered us a drink of whatever alcoholic beverage he had with him. haha. No thank you sir! (It was in a glass bottle and it was clear, so it was probably Vodka, but Gin sounded better in the title, and I don't REALLY know, so whatever...) And then, this is my favorite part, he gave us both a poker chip. So random! Hahaha. I'm not sure why, but he did. And they're real, legit poker chips. Oh. And his name was Ron :)

I'm running out of time, but I love you very very very EXTREMELY much!

I love you!
Sister Ali Hatch