Thursday, December 31, 2015

Prayer is the Soul's Sincere Desire

Thank you so much for a your emails! I love you guys so much and am so blessed to have you for family. I love you!! I got the package today!! So excited to celebrate New Year’s with my district eating chips and salsa!!

Did you get my email about calling you guys?

I ran into President Call later Christmas day and he asked how calling home was. I told him I was only able to talk to you for 10 minutes and he said "Hermana, this is the CCM, not a jail. Email you parents on my phone and set a time to talk to them for 30 minutes." I´m guessing you might not have because you didn´t say anything about it in your emails, so I am going to try again.... Hopefully you will be home and can answer this time! I´ll be calling at 11:50 AM Mexico time. :)

 We´ve been having some problems with our district, but it has really helped me and Hermana Hoskins strengthen our companionship. I have also been learning a lot about myself and areas that I lack and want to improve. Hna and I have also been blessed with opportunities to serve and I have really enjoyed getting to know the other sisters. We are all starting to feel like a family in our casa and our branch. 

 There´s been a sickness going around the CCM. Our senior district caught it, and Hna. caught a milder form of it. It entails a really bad cough and stomach/bowel issues... so much fun... My stomach started to hurt yesterday, but I´m hoping it was just something I ate...

 We have two new investigators, Lupeta and Karla. They are wonderful, and I really feel God´s love for them. In addition, we had TRC last night. (Our investigators are fake, they are other teachers just pretending, but in TRC, they are volunteers that are either actually people investigating the church, members or less active). We are to get to know them and then share a message with them. It was pretty intimidating because they actually speak Spanish, not the dumbed down “I’ll-talk-painfully-slow-so-you-can-understand-me” Spanish that our teachers talk. I could understand about half of what they were saying and they could understand about 1/4 of what I was saying... but poco a poco! 

I don’t know what it is, but the dogs here party hard during the holidays!! For the past couple of nights, it’s seemed like all the dogs in Mexico City were up barking loud and having a good ole time. The city noises of guns, fireworks and car horns have almost become natural.

 Oh! Something funny that happened this week... we were late for one of our classes and as we walked in, the teacher told us that we had to give her 10 pushups. One of the elders looked at her and said “corporal punishment is against the law.” She looked right back at him and said “You´re in Mexico. There are no laws, now get on the ground!” He kind of just looked at her and dissolved to the floor.

 Merry late Christmas!! This for me was the happiest Christmas since Russell died, and I think since ever. We had a service project all morning long making hygiene kits and blankets for people in Mexico City. Afterwards we had the privilege of hearing Elder Bednar speak. And oh my!! Please, drop everything you are doing right now and watch it. Google it. Find it!! It was a world wide MTC Q&A. they had a live stream of the Chile and Ghana MTC and then everyone else had an email that the MTC presidents would email questions to. So many great things were said. I learned a lot and testify that Elder Bednar is called of God. My favorite thing he said was ¨What you are is far more important than what you say.¨

 (Editor’s note: I couldn’t find this broadcast. If any of you have a link to it, send it to me!!!)

 For lunch and dinner, the staff decorated the comedor and we ate well! During lunch, all the missionaries got up and cornered the staff and sang a few Christmas Hymns to them and thanked them for working on Christmas for us. It was really neat and everyone felt the joy and love of what Christmas is all about. For dinner, they were giving out sodas so I took a root beer and am saving it for tomorrow! Scumps!

(Editor’s note: We drink soda and say “Scumps!” (cheers) on New Year’s Day to honor Karissa’s brother Russell who died in a sledding accident on New Year’s Day)

 We had a devotional by Elder Holland when he addressed the missionaries in January 2013 Provo MTC. (You should look it up and watch it) some of my favorite lines “... although they knew they would not succeed, they were able to sing and work and fight for the truth because they knew that our day would succeed and that was enough for them....” (Talking about the ancient prophets and members). At the end he yelled at us to “GO OUT THERE AND ASTONISH SOMEONE!”

 (Editor’s note: Darn, I couldn’t find this one either, or the next one by Elder Scott!)

 We also saw a devotional by Elder Scott when he addressed the missionaries in April 2013. Also really good (you should also look it up!! :) “...Answers to prayers will seldom come when you are on your knees, rather in the still, quiet moments when you are best ready to hear them and listen... You will never be given more than you can bear. When you feel otherwise, remember the Lord has called you, and His grace is sufficient AFTER all you can do... Good prayers are not measured by minutes or words, rather by your desires and how much of your heart you are willing to give the Lord. Why are you thankful for prayer?”

I love you all and miss you but I know this is right and this is exactly where I am supposed to be.

I am physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted every night. But spiritually I am thriving. This is one of the happiest places on Earth!

 Keep the faith. God is ever so real and I know hears every cry.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Editor's Note (By Karissa's Mom)

We weren't sure before Karissa left if she'd be able to call on Christmas, so we said our good-byes knowing there was a chance we wouldn't talk until May for Mother's day. Karissa knew we'd be spending Christmas in the Southern Utah mountains by Brian Head Ski Resort, and that the phone reception wasn't very good. To receive a call as important as this one, we wanted to drive up onto the ridge of the mountain where the reception was best.

The trouble was, we were snowed in.

It'd been snowing for three days straight and there was a thick, impassable layer on the street, on our driveway and on our car.

We were thrilled she would be calling, but we knew it would require a miracle to work.

We prayed that night the Lord's will would be done, and that we would be able to accept it. She would be calling at 8:30 AM our time. We went to bed, hoping for the best.

At 7:45 Christmas morning we woke to the sound of the snow plow. Who plows the road on Christmas morning? Especially that early? It was truly a miracle.

Kirk and I ran out to the driveway and began working to clear off the car and shovel out the driveway.

We finished at 8:20 and we all got in the car. I grabbed Kirk's cell phone and we were off.

I glanced at the phone and saw we had quite a few missed calls and messages from a phone number in Utah I didn't recognize. Before I had a chance to puzzle over this, the phone rang from that same number.

Cautiously, I answered.

"WHY HAVEN'T YOU BEEN PICKING UP THE PHONE?" Karissa screamed on the other end.

"We've been shoveling out the snow...we have ten minutes before you're supposed to call..." I said lamely.

"The Elders messed up the time" Karissa said, a little more composed now, "I only have ten minutes left on the phone call."


Our hearts sank as this news sunk in, but it was so exciting to hear her voice! Just hearing her voice made me think ten minutes would be fine.

On the way up to the ridge Karissa kept saying, "I can't hear you!" We told her we could hear her just fine and to keep talking. To this she cried, "I've been talking to the answering machine for the last hour! I want to hear you!"

It was funny to me because I've said that many times to God, "I'm tired of say something!" But being on this side--the side of the of the parent with crystal clear reception--I found it just made me love Karissa more.

We got to the ridge and she got to hear our voices for a very short conversation that was over too quickly.

We drove back silently then listened to Karissa's messages.

The first few were cheery and newsy. "Hey.....the Elders messed up the time....hope you'll pick up the phone...!"

The last few were a little more...emotional, "Well, (sniff) I just wanted to hear your voices. (Sniff) I hope all is well...I just was really hoping to hear your voices."

That broke our hearts. I won't lie, I was seriously tempted to call the missionary training center and start a fight. But I didn't.

For starters, we didn't have good reception.

So I tried instead to be grateful in the timing of the snow plow (which still seems like a miracle!) and be glad that Karissa was able to hear our voices...even for only a short time.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

“Be near me Lord, Jesus, I ask thee to stay…”

Every email, I am going to name it after a hymn that I feel has described this week. 10 points if you can find the hymn!
First off, this key board is really different so I am sorry for all the grammar errors...
Second off, because there are only 150 missionaries in the CCM for Christmas, we are ALLOWED TO CALL HOME!!!! Hopefully you will have reception and will get this email, or I'll be calling the house and leaving a long message... I will be calling at 9.30 am Mexico time. 
Lastly... You're probably wondering how this week has been! I honestly cannot tell you the range of emotions that I have felt since I got on the plane. I'll start with the plane ride down to the beautiful (smoggy) cuidad de Mexico. There was 4 other Elders going down to Mexico with me, one of which is also going to Osorno, and he is in my district leader. The other three were going state side. 
I sat next to a lady on the plane, and we started talking about why we were going to Mexico. I told her that I was serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. She asked me what that was, and thus began our 45 minute talk about religion and what Mormons believe. I had her read a few scriptures from the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants. She shared with me that her mom had just converted to Christianity and to see the huge change in her mom proved to her that there is a God and that she needed religion in her life. She has been attending various churches, trying to find one that she likes. Talk about a golden investigator! Anyways... while we were getting off the plane, I told her that if she had any more questions, she could go to or and I gave her my mini Book of Mormon. If I had been on the flight I was originally supposed to be on, I would have never met, talked, and shared this message with her. God truly knows us individually and He wants all His children to hear His message.
After we got off the plane, there were Elders waiting to pick us up. And oh my goddness!!! The drive from the airport to the CCM took about 45 minutes and I´m surprised we made it in one piece! I think the driver checked his blind spot maybe once... we cut off who knows how many cars and buses and rarely drove inside the lines on the street. What I gathered from the drive was the only rules to driving is when the light (if there is a light, usually it’s just a stop sign) is red, you stop. When it is green, you go. Tambien, at the stop lights, people are standing there waiting and when the light turns red, they´ll come out into the streets to sell you candy, wash your car, or hope on the back to hitch a ride. It´s loco.
ugh.... I´m running out of time.... so I´m going to have to leave a lot of stuff out...
Mexico CCM 

The food is great! My favorite meal has been their tamales
My compañera is Hermana Hosksins. She is from Palm Dale California and is also going to Osorno. In my district there is Elder Greenwood from San Diego (serving in Osorno, district leader), Elder Feagi from Hawaii (Osorno), Elder Atkinson from Utah (New Jersey), and Elder Tidwell from Idaho (Washington). We have become really close as a district. Elder Tidwell reminds me of a very sarcastic Napoleon Dynamite. We have class for about 13 hours every day... the first couple of days, I could understand everything my maestros were saying (all the classes are solomente en Español). However, I think my brain has been fried because yesterday and today, I am having a really hard time understanding...


We have an investigator. Her name is Erika and we have taught her 4 lessons in Español. It is very difficult. The final lesson we had with her, afterwards I broke down crying to one of the teachers, telling her that there was so much I wanted to share with her and testify to her but I don't know how to say it! She listened to my worries and then shared a scripture with me that her Mission pres. shared with her when she was trying to learn English. They are amazing!! Look them up por favor! D&C 64:33 y D&C123:17. Y tambien, al que cree, todas le es posible.
I have been asked to be the choir pianist. I told the director I would, and he handed me the next two songs that they were going to start practicing. The first song has 5 flats and the second changes key signatures 3 times and starts with two flats and ends with 4 sharps... but I testify that the gift of tongues is not confined to language alone. I ran through the songs once and only made a few mistakes. Talk about crazy!! 
Word on the street is that we will be seeing and hearing Elder Bednar speaks on Christmas!!!! .... On the projector that is streamed from the Provo MTC... But it´s all good. I´m so excited to hear him speak! We had an amazing Relief Society this past domigo. I encourage you all to watch the Mormon message Wise Men Still Seek Him. It is amazing. I am so grateful for my Savior and for all that He has done for me. 
Oh, mom, so apparently I needed to get tetanus shot because I got the last one more than 3 years ago. I got it on Thursday, which was really fortunate because this morning, Hna. Hoskins y yo were sliding down some slides we found near our casa and I totally sliced my finger on the rusted metal... I had to go to the infermaría. Luckily no stiches, but I won´t get lock jaw!!
I love it here! It is very tiring, mentally and emotionally. But I am happy. 
Have a Merry Christmas! Elder Greenwood´s mom mailed him a package. It was MARTINELLI’s and a piñata! I think we are going to have fun tomorrow :)
Love you lots, 
Hermana Hess