Monday, April 29, 2013

April 15, 2013 I'm in Guaynabo!

Hello, Hello!  Another week has gone by -  And what an unusual, but blessed week it has been!
Gorgeous sunrise in Puerto Rico
I have been transferred to Guaynabo to be with some English-speaking missionaries (at least until the next transfer, two weeks from now). This has turned out to be a wonderful blessing, as I’ve been able to speak freely in English and get many of my questions about procedures, etc answered. The Guaynabo house has two regular sister missionaries, Sisters Parker and Graham (I love them!), plus an older sister who is a nurse, (Sister Visker). She is  wonderful, too!  She helps take care of health issues for the missionaries, and does such cute things:  like making gluten-free noodle soup (my first ever) and offering pumpkin pie before bed one night. Sunday night was her 70th birthday, and Sisters Parker and Graham and I had fun celebrating it! 
Hermanas Parker and Graham decorating for Sister Visker's B-day!

Happy Birthday Sister Visker!
I have tried hard to catch up on my missionary journal, and continue to study, study, study Spanish.  I wish I knew more Spanish.  Well, thankfully I've got 15-ish more months to do that!  [ASL came easily to me, but Spanish...?!]

Today, April 15, is some sort of holiday (everything is closed) so I am using Sister Visker’s laptop, and don’t have much time to write.  Here are a few highlights of this week:
- I enjoyed running around a nearby track for morning workout with Sisters Parker and Graham.
- Friday evening, I saw a cultural event with choir, youth bell group, and a 6-person FOLK DANCE group!!  I LOVED their dances and costumes!  It brought back AWESOME memories from BYU's Folk Dance!  And I got a picture with a weird Ponce mask monster thingy....

I love Folk Dance!
Hna Bean with a dancer wearing a Ponce devil mask.
- For Church, we went to an ENGLISH-speaking sacrament meeting!  I bore my testimony, and then we stayed for the Spanish sacrament meeting.  :)  Very wonderful.  The rest of the day consisted of us doing short (hallway) lessons in apartments. 

Hna Bean with Kathy the Snake!
For dinner, we ate at the Radcliffe's (English) who have SNAKES!!  We took a picture of me holding Kathy the snake!  Haha!  We also taught the Plan of Salvation in ENGLISH to two women- again, wonderful!  I love to teach.
- Today (Monday) was District Meeting.  It was super!  :) Missionaries are hilarious sometimes.  :)  And I got a letter from Miriam - Thanks!  We then ran some errands where I got a really good backpack (much better for biking)! 
As my mission continues, I find it getting harder, yet easier at the same time.  Perhaps I'm truly just starting to get used to some things.  It's hard to be independent in such a different place.  Whew.  BUT, life is good. And I was blessed this week to have this transfer, even though I will miss the people of Caguas. I am so grateful for the blessings I receive each day.  :)  Thank you for all your prayers and support! 
Love you all!  :)  Till next time,
Sister Emily Bean

Rainbow over Puerto Rico!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

April 8, 2013 Handcarts and General Conference

Alrighty- Catching up from last weekend to now! :)  Here we go!!!

Sat. March 30 – We missionaries drove up the winding mountain to the Aguas Buenas Camp.  We split into separate groups: my member companion was Minerva, the bishop's wife.  We took 3 chairs out by a tree and waited for a participating, nonmember youth to join us for a lesson on the Restoration.  Minerva speaks English, so I knew that for this lesson, I could freely say and express anything!  There would be no restrictions.  And there weren't!  We got a 16 yr old named Julio. The lesson with him was the most spiritually connecting experience I have ever had.  I asked questions, I waited, I bore my testimony, with Minerva translating the majority of the time (sentence by sentence).  Julio wants to find the truth, and at the end of our lesson, he said his first prayer!  We were all so happy. :) 
The rest of the day was regular- we drove to appointments and hoped the people would be there.  At 8pm Hna Esquen and I finished our fast with one of our investigators.  She's decided to not drink coffee anymore! :)

Sun. March 31 -  Elder Kelly confirmed the newly-baptized girl in sacrament mtg.  After church we had lunch at Hna. Garcia's and then packed our carry-ons - ’cause that night, we spent the night out of town. We went to the Guayabo chapel, and had a wonderful conference with President and every missionary in Puerto Rico!  Night-time, we all followed President to where we would sleep. It was a long, fun, procession line of blinking lights.  :)

Mon. April 1 -  We were up by 4:20am, Pres had us follow him up to the Aguas Buenas Camp.  (I followed directly behind him!)  We were dressed in Gym clothes because:
6am- Elder Tesch talked about the pioneers.
7am- Two volunteer Elders pulled handcarts up a very steep hill.
8am- Pres. Alvarado had us do a Women's pull with the Elders watching on the sides; Pres. had me sit in the handcart along with others. I wanted to help push so badly...
9am- We all had a talk and testimony mtg.  I shared a short testimony.  We had more meetings, group circulations, etc.
1pm -  I got MAIL! THANK YOU to Mom, Elder Andrew W, Miriam and Melissa!  We had choir practice (some of us are performing the 2 middle weekends of April around Puerto Rico).
4pm- Pizza with the President!
9pm- I finally got to email from the Tesch's apartment. :)

Tues. April 2 - It was a really chill day.  Weekly Planning was very relaxed, and we did our monthly car report... We met with Raphael, Zaida, and Lydia for the evening.  We got a HUGE banana from Lydia!!

Wed. April 3  - Hna Sullivan's companion was having some physical pains, so we dropped her off at a member's house for a day of rest/recuperation.  We taught a couple of people, although most of the day was spent trying to contact people: driving around and making phone calls.  I was in the chapel that night when a member's daughter (Jaz) finished her final missionary interview and release!!  She returned home today (around 5pm) from her mission in New York!  It was weird to see Jaz and her mom hug.  So many mixed emotions of wanting that moment, but with the correct feeling... Ya know?? I MISS YOU MOM!!!

Thurs. April 4  - Not many people were home today... We taught Lydia and Raphael and had Taco Bell before planning time.

Fri. April 5  - We used our bikes a little in the morning.  I saw the Space Station fly by later that evening, and we got our required ten lessons with members present for the week- which meant we could watch ALL OF GENERAL CONFERENCE!!!

Sat. April 6 - I've never loved General Conference so much in my life.  I truly appreciate it, and wish we had one every month.  WOW!  Between sessions, we had lunch at the bishop's.  The afternoon session featured the  BYU CHOIRS (I was a member of Women’s Chorus last Fall semester)!!  I saw Katie, and Olivia –but I didn't see Miriam. :(  I also saw other familiar faces!  It was wonderful!!

General Conference April 2013!

A great weekend filled with counsel from Church leaders.
 Sun. April 7   - Once again, General Conference was incredible!  Between sessions we had lunch at the Tesch's apt. and after the last session, we had dinner at Hna. Garcia's. Hna Garcia takes good care of us.  :)

Mon. April 8  - Hna. Sullivan and I rode in Sis. Alvarado's van to Ponce for a long and vigorous choir practice.  We're learning fast songs in Spanish and African. Our first performance is this Friday!  :) 

Whew... I miss you all so much!  A mission is such a big change in life.  I count my blessings every day, and think of loved ones all the time!  I'm grateful for Elder David and his encouraging words to his older twin sister. :)  I'm so grateful for Mom's continuous focus for my help and care as I struggle through these first few months.  I'm very grateful for the wonderful supportive letters and emails I receive each week from friends and family. :)  It refuels me each week to keep going.  I shall try another week to do my best and see where I will be stretched to.  :)  I LOVE YOU!!!
Love, Hermana Bean

Sunday, April 7, 2013

April 1, 2013 Three Cars in 1 Week, Two Jungle Drives, a Pastoreo and a Baptism

View of mountains near Caguas (from an online photo)
Mon. Mar 25 - This evening I rode in a jeep up all over the Caguas, Puerto Rico jungle mountains: straight up, straight down, wide sideways turns... You name it.  A better version of the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland.  Terr-i-fy-ing.  Just to get to one house... Gotta love missionary work in the Jungle!  Haha

Tues. Mar 26 - MY FRIEND HNA ERICKSON came to Puerto Rico super early!!! [She was transferred out from the CCM in the DR.] We hugged and talked a ton at the office in Bayamon. :)  Presidents Anderson and Alvarado spoke.  :)  I led the entire group of missionaries with the Purpose and D&C 4:2 beforehand.  I was nervous.  :)  English and Spanish memorization. :)  Also, the leaders wanted us to switch cars for outer repairs, so we got a beaten up old Black car... No me gusta.... Drove to Aguas Buenas for a Pastoreo- splits with members to visit inactives.  It was wonderful!  I was paired with two women who both speak English so it was nice to connect more on the communication level. :)  One of the members we visited has a missionary daughter that comes home from NY April 3rd! :)  We talked and talked. ;)

Wed. Mar 27 - We drove ALL THE WAY to Ponce!!!  A most horrifying drive there.  Deep pot holes and bumpy highways the entire drive there... When we got there (for a training meeting), I saw Elder Dallin Baldwin!  Four years ago, we were dance partners at a summer music theatre camp at BYU.  We did a scene from Footloose. :) We were good buddies. We had NO idea we had been called to the same mission. He's been on his mission since about October. :)  The drive back to Caguas was scary 'cause our car started to make bad noises and smells.  We called Elder Pietz (the mission car man) when we got back "home."

Thurs. Mar 28 - My companion and I drove 30 mins to the mission home to exchange cars.  Again.  3 different cars in 1 week.  Driving in Puerto Rico.... I'm glad I'm alive and so careful on the road. Anyway, that night we supported Elder Kelly's baptism of a 9 yr old girl.  It was my first baptism experience here on a mission! :)  It was very nice, and wonderful to hear the prayer in Spanish!  Wow!

Fri. Mar 29 - We followed the Elders up to the tip top of a mountain (another terrifying drive) and what a view it was at the top!  It was foggy, but very, very beautiful! :)  We sang "Armies of Helaman" in Spanish for a youth camping activity. ;)  That night in Caguas, we started a fast with an older woman who needs to stop some bad habits before baptism. :)  She has a deep desire to change. She comes to church every Sunday!  She's amazing!  :)  I am happy to add my faith and fasting on her behalf.

There's no time to finish this week, so I'll catch up next week! :) Love you all!  Stay safe!  I"ll get into more detail about the people we're teaching next time! :) Thank you for all your support and letters!  I LOVE getting them!  They make me so-oo happy!  The Gospel is true! :)

Love, Hna. Bean

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Final pictures from the CCM in the Dominican Republic

Note:  Here are some "last" pictures from the CCM in the Dominican Republic. 

Our District "before" (at the beginning of our training)

Our District "after" (at the end of our training)

A package from home! 
President Freestone in his office

CCM President Freestone and Hna Bean

Gifts exchanged between friends

The blue stone pendant is made from Larimar - a stone found uniquely in the DR.  The bracelet was made by Hna Bean as a thank you gift to reflect the colors of the stone given her.

A special place and treasured time

Last view of the Dominican Republic

Hna Bean's flight from the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico left March 12
in the morning.

This was her last view of the DR from the plane.

P.S. I have updated a previous blog with a couple of pictures taken when Hna Bean first arrived in Puerto Rico.  You may want to scroll back for a second look at the blog titled March 18, 2013 I'm in Caguas! There are Coquis!

Monday, April 1, 2013

March 25, 2013 The Second Week in Puerto Rico missionary-eating dogs!

Mon. Mar 18 – P-day! We went to K-Mart and I bought a pillow, hangers, shampoo, fun study glasses, groceries... Later in the evening, Hna. Esquen and I got Choco-Nutella drinks!  SO good! That night, we ran into a couple of evil, man-eating dogs!  And then it rained... but we made it home in one piece. :) 

Many people keep their animals on the roof!

Zone Conference
Tues. Mar 19 - First Zone Meeting!! Lots of elders, and most of them are over the 1 year mark.  Everyone in Puerto Rico talks fast...and then some! AHHH!  Around 5:30pm, we met with member Hermana Wanda.  She lives in a nice neighborhood.  She has TONS of animals!  And in her backyard, she has a mini farm of turkeys, pigeons, geese, ducks, and fluffy Japanese chickens (ALL FOR EATING!!).  Before we left her house, she gave us duck eggs (for Easter)-Haha! Oh, and one of her geese snapped at my foot.  Ouch!

Wed. Mar 20 – Got dizzy during 6:30am jogging. Around 1:30pm I saw my first (live) iguana – scampering and zigzagging to avoid the cars!  SO crazy!  We taught a Puerto Rican “Santa Claus” (grey-bearded man), and later got some food at Wendy's!!!  Such a simple little comfort!  At mutual, the three young women hugged me super tight, like for over 4 minutes. (?) They did that last week, too. They are so friendly and accepting.

Thurs. Mar 21 – Today we biked for about 60 minutes to a woman’s house.  Her name is Maryann.  She and Hna Esquen talked for quite a while. Maryann gave us Do-It-Yourself paper roses. Very sweet.

Fri. Mar 22 - I enjoyed a long, winding car ride through the most luscious greenery and foresty mountains, to a new investigator's house.  For lunch, Hna Garcia took all four of us hermanas out for pizza and lasagna at a restaurant/cafe!  Later we went to “AllWays 99” and bought little floppy hats for a Relief Society Anniversary activity that night.  It was cute. 
Relief Society anniversary activity

Sat. Mar 23 - Elder Pietz from the office called me and told me my bike will cost a little more than he thought.  (I haven't yet gotten the cash from an ATM to pay for it, but will.)  He said my bike is extra special, ’cause it's actually a mountain bike!  :)  At 3pm I drove the car with the other 3 hermanas.  We followed Elder Kelly to a different chapel about 30 minutes away by freeway.  He SPED like a Puerto Rican, ZIGZAGGED like a Puerto Rican, and I have never been so scared in all my life!  We never lost sight of him (thankfully), and we arrived at the chapel (in Juncos).  It unnerved me for the rest of the day, though. One perky elderly lady we visited asked in choppy English if I was shy or scared to be here.  I started to cry.  It was embarrassing.  BUT if she hadn't asked me that question, I would've been fine. Oi. A couple hours later, Elder and Sister Tesch offered to lead us back to Caguas (since they live there anyway).  Elder Tesch drove normally and didn't go over 90mph.  I was VERY grateful! :)  
[Today was the baptismal day for one of my Primary children back home: HAPPY BAPTISM DAY, HANNAH!]

Sun. Mar 24 - Church was nice.  The Tesch's were very kind and helpful for me.  They're both very wise and experienced.  I had a good hour of free time (me and my notebooks!!!)  That evening, we visited a new investigator named Raphael.  He's VERY interested in learning more about the Gospel.  And that night, I had the best sleep since being in Puerto Rico! :)

Mon. Mar 25 - Had District meeting in the chapel at 7am. Weekly planning was confusing because I don’t understand yet who’s been taught or told about the people that need lessons, so I don't know HOW to plan and for WHOM??? ... It was a long 2.5 hours. The language barrier is so restricting! I have been faithfully using my dictionary, my ASL classifiers (miming), and using TONS of facial expressions, with as much Spanish as I know, to communicate, but I feel like I'm just using the same words in incorrect sentences, over and over and over again.  My companion doesn't correct me because she already knows what I mean (she is smart that way, and has already figured out my weird Span-glish!).  Unfortunately, I can’t “take apart” or understand her rapid speech, so I don’t think I’ve learned any new Spanish this whole week. Ahh! But, I’ve been told that I’m getting the language “in my ear” - even if I’m not understanding it, yet.  Please pray for me.  I really want to understand, teach and contribute.

I'm trying to notice daily blessings and write them in my “Blessings Book” every day.  We'll see how this new week goes. I have been blessed with many kindnesses, safety and beauty all around.

By the way, I'm typing this email at Elder and Sister Tesch's apartment because all the libraries are closed.  It's some sort of holiday today.

I am excited for the upcoming General Conference this Saturday and Sunday April 6 and 7!!!  My former choir, the BYU Women's Chorus, is singing in it!  Everybody who can, watch it online at  There will be two different sessions each day - at 10am and 2pm Mountain Standard Time (12noon and 4pm EST, etc, etc.).     

I miss everyone!  I love you!  Stay safe! 
Happy Easter this Sunday!

Love, Hermana Emily Bean