Thursday, December 31, 2015

Week 23 - NZHM HAKA

Kia Ora,

Well this week was the worst week in the mission, work wise... But Christmas was fantastic. Three meals later I was in some serious pain, though. I think I ate the most food I have ever eaten in my life. After all of our meals, we worked Christmas lights and could barely walk around, we were so full. #missionblessings 

We had our Mission Christmas Conference this week, though, and that was so sweet! Got to see all my old companions and everyone in the mission! The coolest part about it, though, is that we learned a haka all together and performed it for a legit camera crew. We filmed it like four times to get it right and even had the flying camera drones zooming in on our faces. So pretty legit. But that will eventually be on youtube, FB, and the internet in general, so when you watch it, don't judge me, I'm really into my Maori culture now. Yes my face is supposed to be like that... You frown to scare the enemy. But I'm front and center in a red skirt, can't miss me, I'm famous! jk. But that was sweet and like four elders ripped their pants hahaha. 

Skyping was awesome of course, and it's confirmed, I have a terrible kiwi accent. 
Also, sisters in my mission get lice all the time so shout out to Maddie Westman; I'm cracking up at your predicament cause I spent my whole first two transfers picking nits!! I never got them though, don't worry, mom. 

Well that's about it, but as the new year is approaching resolutions are coming up. 
What will you do this year to come unto Christ each and every day? It's a perfect time to think of a gift you can give to the Savior! But I know that we don't have to wait for a new year to become a new person, we can become changed and new and better every single day through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I invite you all to do so!! 

Love you heaps, This gospel changes lives!
Sister Machen

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Week 22 - #ASAVIORISBORN

FAM.

I have so much to talk about this week but so little time!

Christmas lights at the temple are like the highlight of my life. We worked again last night and were able to take an investigator on Friday. But last night I had the craziest experience! Well maybe not craziest, but a mission miracle for me at least. So I was at the end of the Visitors Center tour talking with people trying to get their info so more crazy missionaries could go knock on their door, and I was talking to this one lady who was alone. She said that she really felt something watching the videos (EVERYONE GO WATCH THE SAVIOR IS BORN VIDEOS ON MORMON.ORG) and she felt like they were telling her something. So I tried getting her info and stuff and she was like "yeah let me just find my friend and I'll come back and give you the card." Here's me like, yeah right you're not coming back" and then she left.  About 20 minutes later she comes back in asking for the "girl from Texas" and she is crying at this point. So I go over and she asks to talk to me privately.. long story short, she's in trouble and she walked to the temple (it's in the middle of farms and way far from civilization) and she didn't know why. So we got her all sorted out and talked to her and stuff and then I ask her where she lives. Here it is: SHE'S IN MY AREA. The chances of that are like less than 2% seriously. There are thousands of people that come to the lights every year and she's the first one I've met over four days that's actually in my proselyting area. So basically I was shocked and she was so happy that I would be coming over to see her. Seriously, Christmas miracles. The Lord works in wonderful ways, people.

It was my comp's bday so I went all out and made her our candy bar cake that everyone loves-success. She's awesome and so dang cute. We got home really late last night from temple lights but every single light we hit on the way home was green, even a red one turned green right in time and at that point my comp was dying laughing, "I can't beleeb it!" Never a dull moment with a filippino.

I hope every one has a very Merry Christmas! Shout out to the Savior for being born and saving us all and making life worth living. He is everything!! I love the gospel and I know it's true!

Afo atu,
Sister Machen

PS. Really, go watch the videos, they are life changing. And share them on FB ppl.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Week 21 - Christmas Temple LIGHTS!!

KIA ORA.

Well I'm an aunt. That's flippin crazy. That baby was just up in heaven. THATS SO EXCITING!!! So congrats to Gabe and Megan, you get a pass for not writing me this week.

The only thing I really have to talk about is the temple lights!! They started on Saturday and we got to be there on opening night as well as last night. So we didn't get home until 11:30 both nights and we have 9 am church but we still have to wake up early so basically I was dead this morning. And I have no voice. We talked with sooo any people just trying to get them inside the visitors center so they could feel the spirit even more and we could get referrals. But I met so many different people and so many people came that just saw lights and showed up. But lots of people we tried to talk to blew us off and dodged us (white people) haha but this one Columbian family were SO friendly. I tried my super bad Spanish on them and they loved it! Just count yourself lucky if you served Spanish speaking; those people are awesome. Maybe i just think so cause I grew up  around that but really hispanics can be so humble! Anyway, it was a really great few nights and hopefully we will be back there with investigators! We have one good one, Brooke, who is really keen!! One of those that I felt like I knew her from somewhere the first time I met her. So exciting!

The gospel is true. Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer and I'm so grateful for Him, especially as we celebrate His birth! #ASaviorIsBorn

Arohanui,
Sister Machen

Monday, December 7, 2015

Week 20 - Welcome to the DANGER ZONE!

Hey fam,

My new area is awesome. I'm in Hamilton East ward, in Glenview stake, it's a huge ward, the highest baptizing ward in the mission and probably in New Zealand... Hope I don't stuff it up. And we have a MEAL ROSTER!!!! What a blessing and a curse. But the first night I got here we had MCM and the Ward Mission Leader shakes my hand and says, "welcome to the danger zone." Not even lying, he was so serious hahaha. He's way in to it and serious about the work. That meeting was one I'll never forget, but obviously his crazy antics work because they have so much success.
My new comp is SO CUTE. She's from the Philippines and learning English (so i have to basically teach everyone) and she gets excited about the littlest things. She is from a pretty poor area that gets hit with typhoons a lot so she didn't come with much and I told her everything I have is hers to use. My eyes just keep getting more and more open to how fortunate I am. Her favorite word is, "Oh no!" So at any little problem she'll say it and i just crack up laughing. But she's great at giving me driving directions to everywhere we need to be! Our area is huge and we have so many investigators that have been taught all the lessons but just won't take that next step to be baptized. So that's our focus right now. But I'm shocked at how fast it all goes here! The people actually see us as missionaries with a purpose rather than just friends or cute girls, so that's nice to do real missionary work haha. I bore my testimony in my new ward slash introduced myself and man it's just huge. Way different than a branch. Wishing I was back in my branch haha.
Leaving my first area was way sad but I was ready I think for the faster paced work and to see a different area/culture. And because I'm in Hamilton, we get to go to the Visitors center for Christmas firesides if we bring investigators and we get to walk around the temple talking with everyone for temple lights!!! I'm so stoked for that.
The only thing that is kind of a struggle is getting to know everyone and taking over the area. Sister Urgel's last comp was her trainer and is a really, really outgoing and talkative person so she kind of did everything and led the companionship. Sister Urgel is really trying to help out but the language barrier and newness is going to take some getting used to. Other than that it's been a fantastic week!
Read your scriptures. Pray everyday. The church is true.

Arohanui,
Sister Machen








Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Week 19 - Transfer News!

Kia Ora!

Dang, what a week. I'm bouncing up and down right now, so excited. This week was a bit of a rollercoaster because transfers are here and I felt like I was going for sure and then all this stuff came up so I felt like I was staying and it was just a lot of back and forth. But we stayed focused and really had a great week of missionary work. We found this awesome Maori family. They have had missionaries in their house before but we're the first ones that came and could answer all their questions without batting an eye. So they came to church!! We had 6 investigators at church and I was just so pumped. Then we had this Maori guy, Herewini Jones, do two firesides this weekend talking about whakapapa, or geneology, and it was so cool. He connected all the Polynesian Islands back to the Lamanities and then everything back to the House of Israel. I was mindblown and it could have been easy to shrug it off and say he was a crazy guy, but you couldn't deny the Spirit that was in our little chapel. It was crazy awesome. So this family came to that as well and afterwards brother Jones basically set the mom for baptism and committed her to read the Book of Mormon. Just blew my mind and did my work for me haha. All around, church was one of my best Sundays. At the end of the combined meeting for third hour, the branch president randomly asked me to bear my testimony. So I go up and pretty much burst into tears. Okay not that bad, but after four months of not crying it had to come out eventually, especially knowing I was getting transferred. So I looked out and saw this tiny little branch and saw all these wonderfully faithful members and I literally felt the Savior's love for all of them. Crazy powerful. I'm definitely going to miss these people!

So transfers.... I'm getting put with a cute little Filipino in the Hamillton Zone! So, it's right next to the temple and to President Rudd... But I'm so stoked cause that means I'll be by the temple for Christmas and they do awesome lights and it'll be so awesome to use the visitors center for investigators! Other than that the only interesting thing about the week was this poor lady going off about how bad she felt for me being from the states... She said it was a terrible, awful place and shuddered..? Yeah, I was quite confused.

But hope everyone had a great week and enjoyed thanksgiving, I totally forgot about that holiday... But I'm thankful for you all and for the wonderful gospel in my life. Most of all I think I am thankful for the Savior! He is everything. The way the truth and the life.... haha our favorite quote. But really so grateful for His atoning sacrifice! Utilize the Atonement everyday! Love you HEAPS.

Alofa atu,
Sister Machen

Monday, November 23, 2015

Week 18 - Culture Night


Pumpkin Pie!!

Kia Ora! Talofa lava!

This week went by so fast. Like every week. They are just going faster and faster... So basically I'll be home like next month. Jokes, but really I can't believe it's been four months! It didn't feel that long. Well, first and foremost, I got a flippin awesome package from my favorite sister in law (I'm giving Megan the credit because I'm sure Gabe doesn't deserve it). But It got here much too early so now I have to wait like a month to open all the presents inside for Christmas. Anyway, shout out to them for being true fam. On Saturday we had a branch activity, it was supposed to be "sounds of Polynesia" night but we're pretty whorey out here so it ended up being a potluck of food from the most random countries (America included, thanks to my mean pumpkin pie making skills), and random cultural dances. The Scottish elder wore his kilt (gag) and there was a Highland fling, Samoan siva, and a Maori kapa haka. So that was prettyyyyy cool. And we had like six investigators there so that too was prettyyyy cool.

In other news, we are smashing our goals, Sister Asiata was even sick a little bit this week, but the Lord provided a way for us to make up time lost and still exceed our goals. So I'm feeling very #blessed. Transfers is next week and I feel like I'll be going to South Auckland. Sister Pagofie had a dream I am going there, so now it's pretty much doctrine that I am. Pray for me and my rapidly changing figure. Every one who goes there gets legitimately FAT. Oh well, mission blessings.

My ponderize scripture this week is Moroni 8:16. I have definitely been trying to work on my boldness, and this is perfect. I hope you are all still ponderizing and feasting upon the word:)
Have a marvelous week, I love you all.

Alofa atu,
Sister Machen



Making Pie
My "rolling pin" (a roll of plastic wrap)


Look Ma, I made pie!


Me and Sister Asiata with our Favorite Future Missionary - Louisa

Our Favorite Little Samoan - Johnson

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Week 17 - Another Week Down

Talofa!

This week went by so fast I don't even remember what happened! I guess the most fresh thing in my mind right now is getting yelled at by a big Samoan dad, from one of my favorite families, actually. So that was discouraging. But I had an awesome study this morning about how those who reject the Lord's servants and the gospel will receive their deserved reward. So I know he will eventually realize his wrongs and be justly dealt with. :)

Other than that we had a wedding and we all got fed soooo much. I'm feeling it for sure... gotta get out earlier in the morning. Church was good this week, I really love the members. They are so faithful! If the people in the wards back home had the amount of heart these saints do, the work would go so much faster. But I have really gained an appreciation for the tender mercies in life! People being nice, free food, and extra five minutes to sleep. My challenge to you guys this week is to count your blessings every day! We all have our struggles but it's nothing compared to what the Savior went through. We have it easy. Sorry for the short letter this week, but everything is great out in the promised land!

Love you all heaps,
Sister Machen

P.S. Here is my Samoan family, the Sioli's :)))



Friday, November 13, 2015

Week 16 - Go All-Blacks!!

Kia Ora!

Many miracles this week! We set two girls for baptism that come from a part member family so we're also trying to reactivate the rest of them. So hooray for that and for baptisms coming!! Then it just seemed like everything fell into place perfectly yesterday so we were able to not only reach all of our goals but exceed them. We found a potential investigator on Friday at the sports nights we've started up. The next day we visited her and she became a new investigator, and the next day she rocked up to church! So that was crazy and awesome and we ended up having FOUR investigators at church which is a record in this branch haha. Sacrament meeting was so full and there were hardly any empty chairs, it had me almost tearing up. So proud of our little branch. Then one of our Young Women gave a talk in church and she did SO well!! And she gave a shout out to me and my last comp for helping her stay strong in the church and always giving her challenges to become more Christlike lol. Tender mercies.

This weekend was "Guy Fawkes" so basically fourth of July for no particular reason. Everyone just set off fireworks for like three days so that was cool. And there're no rules here in NZ about fireworks apparently. I don't know if you guys in America heard anything about rugby, but last weekend the All Blacks won the world cup for the second time in a row so everyone has been hard out celebrating all week and drinking like there's no tomorrow. So that was interesting. We got a few invitations to take a night off and have a few, haha.

This week I have been studying a lot about families and our personal conversion. It has just hit me more than ever about how important the basic everyday things are. "If you read the Book of Mormon everyday you will never go less active." - Elder Bednar. So do it people!!! I love these people and I love even more seeing them change for the better. The gospel is for everyone!

Alofa atu,
Sister Machen

Monday, November 2, 2015

Week 15 - JANDALS

Waitara Missionaries


Kia Ora,

Not much to write about this week because we are just working on finding, finding, finding. We have been tracting heaps because we just have to fill our time and there is no city center or anything in our area; it's just basically a large neighborhood. SO we knock on doors and the white people are rude, the Maori's smell like smoke, and the Samoans invite us in to eat. It's pretty standard. Oh and the occasional Asian doesn't speak English. My comp is finding it hard to transition to this mission because our area is SOOOOO slow compared to the city. I just have to say love the people, love the people lol. But we are walking tons more because everything is so close and there're always people out walking. Our area is tiny, it's like the size of the neighborhood between High Ridge and Helen of Troy above Redd Road. It's just a tiny little square and there's only a fish n chips shop and a subway and that's it... We go out to Waitara for single sisters and stuff cause that's where the rest of our branch lives, but that's the elders area so we don't really proselyte there. Everyone in this tiny neighborhood already knows us so they already think they know what we're trying to "sell." Which makes it hard to say anything...

Today I bought sandals yay!!!!!! It's warm enough for them now and we can wear any shoes we want as long as there is a back strap, so my toes can finally breathe! But the funny thing is that they call flip flops "jandals" here. At first I though it was a joke but nope. It's actually in the dictionary. Halloween here is not big at all. I think there were like 20 kids total trick or treating in Bell Block... So we went over to an investigator's house and just ate all their candy that nobody came for, haha. Oh that reminds me, I think I've pretty much stabilized my weight now, we run every morning (more like slow jog and do jumping jacks on the corner) and with the walking it keeps us at a good weight, I guess. Also I'm eating less haha. Not starving though!

Anyway the work is great, the people are wonderful, and the gospel is the key to happiness!

Alofa Atu,
Sister Machen


Monday, October 26, 2015

Week 14 - New Transfer//Clean Slate

Talofaaaaaa,

Well this week was transfers and, as I said last week, I stayed in Bell Block and my comp left. My new companion is sister Asiata! She's awesome really, full Samoan but she's from South Auckland so that's cool. It's in our mission. She has connected really well with a lot of people here (mostly other Samoans) but she's shocked at how slow the work is down here. Taranaki is mostly farmland and every one is quite content with their laid backs lives. Hardly anyone has big goals or aspirations (which is beyond comprehension for me) and they are completely content with never leaving this area. So they don't really see a need for the gospel. Especially in the nicer areas (bell block) because their lives are really quite lovely. Anyway, we saw most of our investigators all in the same day and also decided that almost none of them will actually progress, so we are working on getting a whole new teaching pool. Not fun. I might actually tract more than once a month haha. But it's all good.

It's good to hear that Corey didn't get seriously injured in his crash. Glad he's not dead, haha. I heard about a shooting in Oregon? Yeah I have no idea what's going on in America but people here are so intrigued by America, especially when I do my crappy Texas accent. Who is the next president? Or is that even happening yet? It's getting warm here and I'm so excited to spend a warm Christmas on the beach for once! It's gonna be sweet.

So something I've been studying a lot is about how I can become the best missionary/daughter of God/person/sister/future mother/friend that Heavenly Father wants me to be. So two talks from conference really hit on how we need to figure out how to progress everyday. Neill A Marriott and Larry R Lawrence. Read them! I want to make it a goal to recognize each day how I have changed to being better than I was the day before. It's gonna be awesome. I love the gospel and I love this work!

Alofa Atu,
Sister Machen

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Week 13 - Baptisms & Transfers!

                                              Samsara, her Dad, Me, and Sister Pagofie

                                      Me, Sis. Pagofie, Aunty Alwyn and her sister, the Elders

Hey yous,

So this week was crazy! We had five baptisms this past weekend, three were the elders'. There were three little kids from the same family on Saturday morning, then our girl, Samsara, in the afternoon, then Aunty Alwyn Sunday morning!! It was awesome. I sang three musical numbers with my companion... Lol there's no stage fright when you're a missionary, you just have to sing when you get told to sing, even if you suck. So Samsara's was super good, her dad baptized her but he had to do it 3 times cause the font is TINY. Seriously the smallest font I've ever seen, it's like as big as a jacuzzi bathtub back home. So that made Aunty Alwyn's baptism a bit tricky considering she's a bit of a larger woman. She was adamant on not wanting anyone at her baptism besides the missionaries and the branch president so that was kind of a hard thing for the branch cause they want to support her and be her friend but she really doesn't like people. Anyway, she ended up sitting on the floor of the font and Elder Wark had to kneel in it and lay her down to try and get her all the way under. Man it was bad. But as long as it happened and the spirit was still there! Sister Inia's grandma (Aunty's sister) flew from Australia to be there, so that was really awesome! It was such a spiritually and emotionally exhausting weekend. But those are the best kind.

So transfers! We just got transfer calls and Sister Pagofie is training up in Rotorua, and I'll be staying In Bell Block! I'm getting a Samoan comp but she's actually from NZ. It's a different situation because she got reassigned to our mission after being home from her first one for six months, so I'm not training her, but I'm reacquainting her with mission life and the Hamilton Mission way. SO that should be interesting. I'm excited!!

Well that's about it for the week, just lots of baptism prep and we found four new investigators! And they're all solid! But I'm so happy to be a missionary and to be growing personally along with my investigators. I know this church is true, just read the Book of Mormon. I love New Zealand!

Much love,
Sister Machen

Ps. I had "mexican food" today. It was nasty and terrible and made me want to cry. If I could get a package of tacos that would be great. I'm dying.

                                                  Trying (unsuccessfully) to be athletic


                                            This is where you're coming to get me, family!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Week 12 - Baptisms!

Kia Ora,

First, I'm dying because General Conference is delayed a week for us and it's practically like Christmas for missionaries. So I'll probably have a better letter next week.

But this week we finally got Samsara's baptism date set! October 17th is her baptism and then the next day is Aunty Alwyn's, yay! Seriously, I'm so excited for their baptisms. It's crazy how much love you feel for people.

We had branch council this week and our branch president made sure everyone was there and practically called everyone to repentance, it was awesome. The work out in Taranaki New Zealand is really moving fast and the members have to be ready! He then gave us like 15 referrals so yeah we have so much work to do as well. But we found another relative of the samoan family and we're gonna start working with her! Also we had a lesson with our next door neighbor and it was basically an hour of her telling us how Jesus is her first love and crying about her relationship with God so yep she's getting baptized too.

We had lamb shanks this week. Not really a fan of lamb. At least not the way I've had it here. Also we visited our YW president's house and set up a dinner appointment. She asked us what we want to eat and my flipping companion said Kiribus food. (they are from Kiribati...) so she goes oh like fish heads in milk?? And my comp freaks out and says oh yes yum that sounds so good!!! Then there's me about to slit my comp's throat bc I CANNOT eat fish heads in milk. I will die. Stay tuned for the update on that dinner.

This week I learned a lot about enduring to the end. The talk, "Latter-Day Saints Keep On Trying" by our new apostle Elder Renlund from last conference is basically it. So a saint is a sinner that keeps on trying. We're all sinners, but we just have to keep moving forward and promise to be better the next day. Don't quit guys, this life is too short to waste it on unimportant things!!!

Okay I love you all.

Sister Machen

Monday, September 28, 2015

Week 11 - Temple

Well I don't have much time today because the whole flipping world decided to email me today. Much appreciated though! But the highlight of the week was our temple trip for sure. Holy cow, I didn't realize how powerful the Spirit is. Full time missionary plus temple plus heaps of other missionaries plus your mission president all thrown together just makes everything crazy and intense. Something that the temple president told us was that the ONLY place in the world where the fulness of the Spirit can be felt is in the temple. SO DANG TRUE. It was like the best experience of my life, and that's because I took questions in with me and then they were answered within like the first 30 minutes. Record revelation time. Anyway, I encourage you all to go to the temple more. You can always go more! Some members here save up money for months for gas to drive up and then spend a week at the temple just doing session after session after session. So we can all be better about our temple attendance and we can learn something EVERY time we go if we go with questions.

Other than that, we had District Conference which is Stake Conference for branches (I didn't know it existed before this), and so President and Sister Rudd came down and they're the greatest! Sister Rudd reminds me of you mom, she asked me what she should do with her hair next (like cut and color) and I was like dang you really are my mom! And President Rudd has the same humor as Grandpa Corey and it's hilarious. But it was great and the Area seventy for the Pacific Islands is super awesome too!

In other news, AUNTY ALWYN IS SET FOR BAPTISM!!! That's Sister Inia's aunty that they've been teaching for months and she's finally accepted that she knows the gospel's true. Also, our 10 yr old investigator in the part member family is getting set this week so yay!!

Oh I'm the YW's 2nd counselor in our branch, and Sister Pagofie is the Secretary, our president doesn't always come and there's no 1st counselor, so we run Young Women's... pretty cool, slash not, cause we're super busy haha, but the girls are great!

Lastly, I'm super sad about Elder Scott passing away. He was like my second favorite apostle but also I'm super happy cause he is now reunited with his beloved Jeanine. Adorable. And this is the first time since 1906 that three new apostles will be called and sustained at once. Crazy.

That's all for this week! Stay Strong! I love you all!

Sister Machen

PS. Aaron I'm not writing you separately, but it's a small world bc apparently you are friends with my comp's cousin. Strange!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Week 10 - Go to Church!

Hey hey hey,

This week was weird because we had to drive up to Hamilton for meetings and then we had zone conference and other STL (Sister Training Leader)  duties to attend to so it didn't feel that productive. The drive up to Hamilton is super pretty and you drive along the coast and through this crazy awesome gorge that makes you feel like you're in Jurassic Park. Basically, it's the prettiest thing I've ever experienced. But I got to be back in a trio with Sister Inia and her full Samoan comp while Sister Pagofie was in meetings with all the Zone Leaders and President. It was a cool experience though because we just contacted all day and knocked doors and we never do that in my area cause it's not effective. But it was nice to be back with Sister Inia and cool to see how different areas can be. We're actually driving back up to Hamilton after emails because WE"RE GOING TO THE TEMPLE!!!! I'm very excited. The whole zone is driving up and we're going with two other zones tomorrow morning and I'll get to see some of the missionaries I came in with. Pretty cool.

So that lady I wrote about last week finally died on Saturday. It sounds insensitive but it's really better this way. We went to visit her the night before and sang her family some songs but man life is so short. Make it count.

The only other thing I have to write about is how dang happy I get when my less actives or investigators actually come to church. I never thought I would be so excited to see people show up to church. It's crazy though how much you love the people and then you just want them to be happy and have the gospel in their lives SO BAD. It's the best though. So go to church! It makes missionaries happy and it makes the Lord happy.

We got fed chop suey every night this week and have a huge container in our fridge. I don't even know how I'm not super fat by now. We have started to ride our bikes on the coastal walkway for morning exercise cause my comp is just not in the running shape so I've had to take extreme measures. One morning I even tried to get her to ride while I ran but she said that was too embarrassing. Baby steps. We met another relative of the Falaniko family this week and we're gonna start teaching them too. Most of our investigators are related to that family, so getting them all baptized would like triple our branch. It would be so amazing.

That's all for this week. I love the work and I love the gospel. It brings more happiness than you could even imagine!!

Love you all,
Sister Machen

PS. Here's a pic of me and my comp with some of our favorite Samoan members that always make us chop suey and come out to lessons with us. They're the bomb.


Monday, September 14, 2015

Week 9 - One Down

Kia Ora,

Well one transfer down, 11 to go whoop. Jk it's going by way too fast, it feels like I barely got off the plane yesterday. But we were right, Sister Inia got transferred up to Hamilton, so me and Sister Pagofie are stuck together for another 6 weeks. But I love her! She is also the STL (Sister Training Leader) again so we get to go on exchanges like every week (joy) and make trips up to Hamilton. But it's okay, we get privileges too. 

The beginning of the week was basically Sister Inia saying bye to everyone and so we ate sooo much food and didn't end up teaching very much. Then she left and we had a 4 hour weekly planning session and realized how much work we have to do and how much we've let slip in the past two weeks. So we gotta refocus lots. But I got so much mail from transfers!!! Shout out to mom for the American candy, I've missed it so much, and my district was so grateful! Honestly I'm gonna need a package like every transfer cause that was so good. We got a brand new Elder and he is working in the same ward as us and he's a bit awkward. I really hope I wasn't that bad six weeks ago. He's from Salem Utah and is a 6'3" toothpick (worse than Baylor's legs). But man it's so crazy how much I've grown in just one transfer. 

My Samoan is really coming along. Alofa tele atu. Figure it out. I know how to count and I know the colors yay! 

SO our choir director had a stroke last Monday and it was really bad and they gave her two days to live which is super sad because she's also our Relief Society president and one lady in the branch that really gets things done. But she was the craziest choir director ever. She had so much passion and I think I was overcome with laughter more than I actually sang at practices just because she was so intense and she has the biggest hands ever and they were shaking all crazy right in my face. But it's really sad cause she was like the backbone of the branch. But we went with some other members to the hospital to sing to her and we sang "families can be together forever" with a third verse that she made up and while we were singing I just felt overwhelming love for this crazy lady laying in the hospital bed in front of me. I felt how much the branch loves her and how much the Lord loves her and it was a really powerful experience. Last week she actually bore her testimony in sacrament meeting about how she cannot wait to be reunited with her husband on the other side and that when it's her time to go she will RUN to the Savior and bow at His feet. The last verse that she wrote says, "waiting for us beyond the veil, our loved ones patiently, we will unite and be together for eternity" and when we sang that to her I just felt so strongly her testimony and how happy she would be to pass on. Anyway, a crazy experience with a crazy lady but there's always something good to learn. 

Well that's about it, but I'm learning so much! The more I learn, the less I know. It's crazy. I wish I could study the scriptures and conference talks all day. So weird that I just said that but true. I love the gospel! 

Love you all HEAPS,
Sister Machen



Sister Machen and Sister Pagofie

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Week 8 - Samoan Everything

Talofa lava!

This week has just been overwhelmingly Samoan. We've been trying to focus on our area in Bell Block more than going out to the Elders' area in Waitara that we kind of double cover but I love our area!! So many Samoans and the people are just so friendly. I had a member family help me write my testimony in Samoan so I'll be practicing that. I can pronounce the words really well, especially for being white haha. Sometimes I'll say a short prayer in Samoan after the lesson and they all open their eyes and stare at me during the prayer. It's awesome. I'm learning that it's important to respect the language of people's hearts and how the gospel needs to connect to that. We even learned a Samoan siva and performed it at our investigator's 60th birthday party. And then we sang a hymn and shared a scripture with about 30 nonmembers. But we gained heaps of respect from the whole family and even the gay brother, who just made fun of us all the time, told us to come by sometime and talk to him. So that was awesome. Then the next day the lady, Nana Sue, gave us each a puletasi!!! Mine is like bronze silk; it's so pretty. People love giving you things here, it's bomb. Oh and they all said we're part of the family now so the kids made us name tags that all say Sister Falaniko on them. Pretty sweet.

Crazy story of the week: I got attacked by a pit bull. No lie. We stopped by one of SIster Inia's aunty's house to tell her we had to cancel our visit and their dog got out of the gate and was barking at us badly. We got inside before it got to us but when we had to leave, Aunty Lyn was trying to grab her to hold her while we went outside and I was standing behind her just staring into the dog's soul and it charged at me and juked out aunty. It jumped up on me with it's jaws going crazy and I barely pushed it down and was backing up, but then it just ran back out the door. Of course my companions were hiding behind this screen door, nowhere near to help, just watching me almost get eaten alive. But afterward they were telling me how the dog like bounced off me, and how weird it is that it just ran back out without biting me. Honestly, I was so protected. Miracles! It sounds crazy and dumb but mission blessings are real!

This week is transfers so the dream team is getting broken up. Sister Inia is mostly like leaving but they could move sister Pagofie out too and I could get stuck leading out the area. I doubt that will happen but we are really short on drivers in the mission and now I can drive so it doesn't make sense for there to be two drivers in a companionship. But we'll see! Also, driving here is super weird. I feel like I'm gonna die every time I drive.

Oh the elders had a wedding this weekend and all the kids that came had nits (lice) and you could just see them crawling around in their hair - it's super nasty. But nits are a big problem out here and they say you're bound to get it at least once on the mission so pray for me. I might shave my head. 

Well that's about it for this week! Oute iloa o le ekalesia moni lenei. I know this church is true!! 

Love you heaps,
Sister Machen

Monday, August 31, 2015

Week 7 - Miracles

Hey hey,

This week summed up is that it's so important to follow the spirit so you can be at the right place at the right time. Twice this week we went to investigators' houses that we hadn't planned to at the time and we were able to help out in small scale emergencies. The first, we had gone to their house and they weren't home so we left to visit a Samoan family that usually makes us stay and eat for ages. Instead of doing that, we felt we should just drop off their Book of Mormon and go back to the other family's street. So we did and as we pulled past that first family's house, the son was outside and waved to us. So we stopped and he said that their dog had just gotten out and was hit by a car. So we got there just in time to open up their gate and control the other dog so their dad could pull in and we could help unload the other three kids before he pulled out again to go to the vet. The dog was actually in bad shape and they love their dogs here, so we were able to help them get all sorted out and whatnot. It wasn't a big deal at all but they were super grateful and wouldn't stop thanking us for being there right at that time. 
 
The next time, we went to that family's cousin's house and the mom is single and super stressed so we were talking about priesthood blessing and asking her if that was something she and her oldest son would both like to get. (He was leaving for a week for rugby and was sick.) So they both said yes and the son went to take a shower and then started cramping up super bad and then had a fit type thing and started yelling out to his mom. So we called the ambulance and helped get the other two kids to stop screaming. The cramping thing actually turned out to be a really serious genetic disease and his muscles are getting weak really fast. We went to the hospital to see them on Saturday and they both got blessings. It was a super cool experience because his blessing was all about how he is going to be a really important tool in building up the Lord's kingdom on the Earth. SO, pretty much he's gonna get better, get baptized, and become a missionary. I have gained a greater appreciation for the priesthood and for having it in my home growing up. It's SO important to have a priesthood holder in the home. SO, shout out to my awesome Dad. 

Anyway, the food is growing on me, and I'm really trying not to get fat. I ran on the beach this morning and it was super pretty but we didn't stay long cause my comp was dying haha. But we eat sooo much bread!! It's bad. Toast with everything at every house we go to. It's an islander thing. 

This week was awesome. I love you all!

Sister Machen

Monday, August 24, 2015

Week 6 - New Car!

Kia Ora,

So as it indicates in the subject line, we got a new car yesterday. Yep, cruisin' along the beach in a super flash 2013 Corolla now. You can all be jealous. Just kidding; we just had the oldest car in the area though so we got upgraded cause my comp is the Sister Training leader and we have exchanges every week (yuck) so we have to drive all over the area. But this week I got to stay with Sister Inia in our area and another sister came here and that was good cause I got to talk to people way more than usual and we walked all day so that was really nice. But the other comp took the keys to our flat with her like an hour away so we were locked out and that was awful because the the ZLs (Zone Leaders) didn't answer their phone so we had to drive all the way to their flat to get the spare key. Dumb. It's been warming up a little here but today it has just been pouring, so not fun. I'm still not tired of the rain yet cause it makes the sky super cool. 

Anyway, we had interviews with president this week so we met as a zone and we got a new senior couple too. They're the Gessels and they're from Sandy. They live in Grandpa Corey's stake and he actually gave all their kids patriarchal blessings. And then I asked if they knew Grandma and she said she had worked with her in Relief Society and she started saying all these nice things about her and I straight up started crying, right there in front of the whole zone. Pretty much the most embarrassing thing ever especially cause my comps looked at me like I was crazy. Literally the first time they've seen me cry and it's gonna be the last. Yuck. But that was really cool and interviews were good! My mission president is awesome, super inspired. And Sister Rudd is the BOMB. She was asking me and my comp how she should cut and color her hair and she reminded me so much of you, mom, haha. 

Everything is going great, I love the Samoan families and I'm getting really comfortable with all of them. We wore pulatasis (see pics to one of our investigator's house for a lesson and they were all super pumped. Also, chop suey and pig head are not my favorite. The little pig head eyeballs just stare at you the whole time you're eating it. Yuck. But cocoa samoa is the bomb now, only if it's made right. 

Anyway, I'm working on humility this transfer as my Christlike attribute but it's cool because I actually gave a talk on that this Sunday at church. One thing that was interesting to me was how different the world's definition of humility is from the gospel definition. The world defines it as being conscious of one's failings, and being unimportant. But then in reality, it's not weakness, timidity or fear, rather an indication of strength. Anyway, just something interesting. Read the Book of Mormon, it's gold. 

Love you all heaps,
Sister Machen





Monday, August 17, 2015

Week 5 - The Week of the Wedding

Monday, August 10, 2015

Week 4 - Sheep!

Kia ora whanau (family),

I'm learning Maori and Samoan; wow, I'm so cultured. Just kidding but I can pronounce all the Samoan words, I only know a couple. Like "muli" is butt and that's a favorite in this companionship, haha. And I'm teaching one of the young women some Spanish for some Samoan so that's interesting. ANYWAY.

So I forgot to mention the sheep last time. They are everywhere, as well as cows and goats. This is definitely a country area down in Waitara. But cool story: We went to our branch mission leader's house for dinner this week and he has this ram that all the missionaries like to mess with. SO I get out of the car to open the gate to his driveway, and the ram comes out of nowhere and rams me!! So then I just started running down the driveway with this sheep chasing me and it was fast! But I got to the house and finally figured out how to defend myself. It was hilarious, pictures to come with the sheep. But that dinner was awesome. Brother Patu lives on the beach pretty much with a little farm and his house is clean. It felt the most like home since I've been here and he is just the nicest old man.

Oh, mom, I had to mend one of the elder's pants cause he ripped them in church, be proud. I'm now the designated pants sewer.

Right now we're teaching this family, a mom and three boys, and she taught us a siva samoa (dance) and I got it down and my half samoan comp was struggling so bad. But I love that family and the mom is super free spirited so it's gonna be awhile before she can accept all the church rules and such, but her son is super interested and comes to church every week! The cocoa samoa I wrote about is really growing on me and we get it all the time but it's never good the next morning haha. Everyone smells kind of bad here, they just don't do the whole hygiene thing like we do. So when you say hi you have to hug them and kiss cheeks and I always just have to hold my breath. And their houses are very humble. But they are really nice and welcoming people - I think I've only been to two houses that haven't invited us in. But my comp is suuuuper good with people and she looks white but she is full Maori so she connects really well with people. My comps keep telling me I came pretrained and they've never seen a greenie with so much confidence in teaching, so that's cool but I really just love the gospel and am excited more than scared to help these people.

Some spiritual thoughts this week: The talk, "Becoming a Consecrated Missionary" by Tad Callister (the next apostle) really hit me, and it can apply to all members, not just missionaries. But I loved it and I just really enjoy personal study in the mornings. It's probably my favorite part of the day. And I love the general conference talks heaps out here. They're honestly gold. Also, there was a quote I read somewhere, "We must live the Book of Mormon, not just tell the stories in it". And I thought that was on point.

Anyway, I love my area, and I LOVE my comps. The work is hastening like crazy. So many people we are teaching right now and reactivating.

Love You all heaps,

 Sister Machen

PS:
Send me letters:
New Zealand Hamilton Mission
P.O. Box 9542
Waikato Mail Centre, Hamilton 3240
New Zealand

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Week 3 - Arrival in the Mission

Kia Ora,

So I left the MTC and now I am down at the bottom of the mission on the east coast in an area called Taranaki. It's a super hard area and apparently President only sends the stud missionaries down here cause it's really struggling. I have TWO trainers cause I need the extra help I guess.  JK.  But they are Sister Inia from Australia, and Sister Pagofie (half Samoan) from Flagstaff Arizona. But they are the greatest. The APs [Assistants to the President] were going on and on about them before I met them and they are just awesome. So friendly and seriously spiritual giants. But we are in the Waitara Branch and when they first got here it had like 20 people at church and yesterday there were 70!!! They mostly have done lots of reactivating people but they have some solid investigators. So all the new missionaries had a challenge to invite someone to be baptized on our very first day. My first night out in the field I invited this single mom to be baptized. Dang, I was nervous but then when I was testifying leading up to the invite, I wasn't nervous at all and I just knew she needed to hear it. SO that was cool. But she laughed and then said "no" and then "not yet", and we left with her saying she was "open to whatever" and you never know, maybe she will get baptized. So she's getting baptized for sure. The next night we had a birthday dinner for Sister Pagofie (her birthday was the 29th) at Sister Inia's Aunty Alwyn's house. And then they had me invite her to be baptized too, and she said "not yet," but she's defs gonna get baptized. Sister Inia has a ton of family in this area, so a lot of our investigators are her family, which is cool but also hard 'cause she doesn't want to push them and offend them. But it's awesome so far. 

Church yesterday was interesting, I bore my testimony 'cause on your mission that's just what you  do every chance you get. But there are some craaaazy people here. Two of our investigators came to church with their son yesterday, and afterwards he threw up bad in the chapel. You know me, I was out the door dry heaving in seconds. JK.  I handled it so well and even got the stuff to clean it up. Didn't actually do the cleaning, but I didn't run either. SO much growth. ;)  They soooo need this gospel and he is the sweetest little boy and he knows so much about God and Jesus Christ for being so young. I think I'm just going to adopt him. All the kids are soooo cute, like the islander blood makes them chubby and adorable. Might come home with a Samoan husband. JK JK JK JK. 

But we went to this less active member's house and had Cocoa Samoa. It's like hot chocolate and they put rice in it and it's just straight cocoa beans and water. No white person likes it. But I ate it all and it wasn't even bad; my comps were shocked. And then we came back the next day and had more. I downed it. So proud of myself and my strong stomach.

Happy birthday shout outs to MOM, Corey, and cousin Jessica!! You guys rock. Especially you Mom. And Happy Father's day to DAD because that's this Sunday here. But Idk when it is in America. Haha. 

Gotta go! Love you all!!

Sister Machen

P.S. I'm gonna come back saying "heaps" and "mean" = sick or awesome



Pictures sent by Sister Rudd, the Mission Mom:

1. Elise with President and Sister Rudd


2. The group of new missionaries at the Hamilton Temple, upon arrival into the mission.


3. Elise with her companions, Sister Inia and Sister Pagofie.



Monday, July 27, 2015

Week 2 - Leaving the MTC

Holy cow. SO last week I had no emails, and this week I had 38. So shout out to everyone 'cause you guys rock and I definitely don't have to time to reply to everyone but I will write you back eventually!! So this computer's enter button doesn't work and it's super annoying.

Anyway, last Thursday we went to the Hamilton temple. It was about a 2 hour drive and it's out in the middle of the country. I think Hamilton is all country so that's gonna be cool. Sorry Megan, I haven't seen any sheep yet but I have seen lots of cows and bulls. The temple is super small but really simple and pretty and it's on a huge hill, so that's cool. I was so happy to go because it was a break from class and the prison that is the MTC. But, the Spirit is so strong in the temple!!
I'm writing today because we leave tomorrow morning early and yesterday we had a day long workshop. FUN FACT: My teacher, Brother Armstrong, who served in Carlsbad, actually served in Sierra Hansen's ward for the last part of his mission and so knows her family super well. Small world! I love him as a teacher because he pushes us so hard and really makes us think. Who knew that a question as simple as "what is a need?" could stump seven missionaries for four whole days. Seriously ridiculous. By the way, a need is something someone is lacking that they ABSOLUTELY DESIRE. I guess a need really IS a want, Mom. ;) 

So funny story time: there was root beer in the vending machine and my comp is from NewZealand but they don't like it here, I guess. She'd never tried it, so I bought it and let her have some and she spat it out all over our room and said it tasted like mouthwash. What the heck?? She is misguided. Blair, the ketchup here is not ketchup, it's "tomato sauce" and it tastes sweet. So pretty much it's the most disappointing thing ever. Update on the food, I've become friends with the cook and he only gives me the foods that don't make me gag, so that's progress, and the ice cream here is actually amazing. My comp says the ice cream in New Zealand is all like that so I'm super excited to eat tons of that, and that's how I'll be okay with getting fat. 

So I had to go out into the real world to get my flu shot with two other missionaries and our driver. It was this hole in the wall "hospital" that was super unsanitary and had posters advertising the support for mothers to breastfeed in public without shame. Yeah. The lady who gave me the shot never washed her hands, didn't have gloves, didn't sanitize my arm, and there was no lid on the needle. So pretty much I might die. I love you all. JK. But really, the real world was a little bit of a shock - haha. 

Another funny story: On Sunday we had a fireside and one of the Samoan sisters went up to speak. (Background: when we are all together the Samoan missionaries have headsets for translation
because they aren't learning English.) So she starts her talk speaking in Samoan and the translator (one of my teachers, brother Poutoa aka The Man) gets out of the trans booth and gets a microphone to start translating in English. It takes about five minutes to get that all set up and the sister just waits patiently at the podium. Then she tells us her name and where she's from in Samoan and the translator says it in English. Then she just starts speaking perfect English like it's not even a big deal and the translator just throws his hands up and everyone starts laughing. It doesn't sound that funny when I write it out, but let me tell you, I was cracking up through her whole talk, flaring nostrils and all. That sister is just hilarious though. Then she whistled a cat call to herself as she walked back to her seat because apparently she thought she killed it! It wasn't spiritual at all, but just funny. 

Anyway, I have to get off now but I'll reply to everyone next week! Oh my comp is going to Melbourne Australia, Mom, and she sings like an angel. Honestly, she sounds like Adele and is probably the best singer I've heard in a normal nonceleb person. But the constant singing is still not my fav. But I really love her and I'm going to miss her!! Gotta go! The church is true and the Spirit is so strong here! I loved the MTC but I'm so excited to get out in the field!!!
Love,
Sister Machen        

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Week 1 - MTC

{Note from Carolyn: We were in Flaming Gorge and had no cell service, let alone internet. When we came down from the mountains and got a signal, she'd already written. I felt awful that she got nothing from us that first week!}


Well hey guys, I received no emails this week. Nice of you all. My email day at the MTC is Monday but that's Sunday for you guys. I only have one more Monday here so just email me before church on Sunday and you should be good! Yesterday we were able to write letters home so I sent you all one but it probably won't get there until I'm out of here so you don't have to reply to that, just email me!
First, my companion is Sister Nepia, she is from Rotorua, NZ and has a pretty good accent. SO I've already found myself slipping into speaking like her. I'm defs gonna come home with an accent. So the Americans that I flew with are the only Americans here; the rest are mostly Samoan so very loud - haha. There are just a few missionaries from NZ and Australia, and then a couple from Vanuatu and some other islands. And then somehow we have two German Elders.
The food is so weird and meal times are a struggle. There is a strict rule about eating everything on your plate, SIster Gibson stands by the "rubbish bin" and makes you go back and eat everything if you try to throw anything away. So that's terrible. We had fish and chips one day and believe it or not I was thankful for fish that looked normal. Mostly we have strange sausages and pork cooked in the weirdest ways. Last night they fed us chicken but it was like they took the chicken and cut it into four pieces through the bone and gave us a quarter of a chicken, bones and all. SO weird. My comp can pound food though and I'm seriously so blessed to have her because anything I can't finish she takes it upon herself to eat and saves me from the wrath of Sister Gibson. It's amazing. One of the first things she said to me was when I asked her if she likes sports and she said, "no I'm too fat for sport." Hahaha. I didn't know what to say.
SO in the mornings we have to wake up at 6 and I like to do my sit ups and pushups in the morning to wake up better but the first morning Sis Nepia looked at me so weird and got all uncomfortable, so now I have to do them while she's in the shower so she won't see.
The very first night we had devotional I got asked to play the piano... It was a struggle 'cause I haven't really practiced in like a year, but somehow I killed it. It was definitely the spirit helping me. Also, the very first fireside we had, I was asked to give a talk. They picked on all the Americans for some reason but whatever, at least that's all over. Like I said, there are only 60 missionaries total here so it's super small and the MTC presidency knows me by name and everything super well already. This Thursday we get to go to the Hamilton Temple and some people here have never been so we had a prep class yesterday and that was good going over everything again. But I'm super excited for that cause it'll be relaxing and I don't have to teach any fake investigators. I think I'll be much happier to teach real people because I won't feel like my teacher is judging my teaching techniques.
OH. Our physical activity time everyday is intense. There's one basketball court but there's a volleyball net on it too, so everyone has to share and play around each other. The first day I was like yeah let's play volleyball and kill it, but SIKE. All the Samoans are WAYYYY too intense and they can all play. Like even the larger ones can spike it even if they can't get up haha. So I did that they first day but they all speak in Samoan to each other and talk to me like I have no idea what I'm doing so I played soccer on the field instead and that is straight mud. Oh well, probably better exercise anyway. One of my Sister Training Leaders (kind of like zone leaders) got super intense playing soccer though and is honestly just crazy in general. I have to pray to love her everyday cause she drives me insane. Definitely learning patience here.
Well I can't really think of anything else. Shout out to Baylor cause my favorite teacher here served in Carlsbad and said it's the best mission ever. I beg to differ.
Love you all. WRITE ME.
Sister Machen