Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Scottie making crepes as taught by the Sister missionary from France!

This last week has been pretty awesome:

Monday: (1/21)
Today we started off going to see the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit, which was really cool. We had some amazingly fun basketball at the PDay (preparation day) activity and it was just overall awesome. We made some visits and met two new people, both named Guillermo, which was pretty fun. But we're excited to work with them!

Today we had interviews with President Swain (his mission president), so that's always a great experience. We have them every 3 months or so and he's just a spiritual giant and super incredible to talk to. We talked about being effective tools in the Lord's hands, and how it would be better to be a nail gun than a rock to build the foundation of the Church for The Lord haha. Kinda funny but true! We made some visits, and we even got to eat dinner with a less active family that we'd never met before. They must have heard I was from the South because they made BBQ ribs, and they were super good! Not quite Papa quality, but they did remind me of home and it was the first real BBQ I've had in a long long time so I loved it. We made some more visits with the Vazquez and Islas families and then we called it a night.

Today we started off with our weekly meeting with stake President Higginson (Stake President in his area), and then we got stuff ready to celebrate Sister Thurston's (sister missionary in his district) birthday during lunch. We picked up Subway and ate that, then ate cake and ice-cream. We even got the lady at Harmond's (local grocery store) to write her name on the cake in Nutella because that's her favorite haha, she really enjoyed it. I had a meeting with the zone leaders and Elder Jung (the other district leader in the area) and then we ran to have dinner with the Galvez family - they lived in Brazil for 25 years so we got to eat some Brazilian food which was good! We had a great visit  and lesson with Maximo Espinosa and invited him to be baptized, he wants his whole family to be involved but he's in! It was a good day today!

Celebrating Sister Thurston's Birthday!

Weekly planning day! We got up and fired up a teriyaki flavored Meaty Boy (per Scottie: The Meaty Boy is a combination of love, chicken, sausage, sauce, onions, and happiness :) )
for lunch, then went to the chapel to do some weekly planning. Afterwards we had a great dinner with Hermana Monroy and her son Luis, who's really cool, and for dessert we had chili covered watermelon - actually really good :) Then we taught a great lesson with Minnie and we're hoping we get to keep meeting with her!

Today was awesome. For district meeting I taught about being bold and having courage. I shared a bunch of scriptures that Elder Ghramm (another missionary in his apartment) and I have been talking about for the last few weeks (including an awesome one in John 19:9 when Pilate asks Jesus if he knows he has authority over Him, and Christ responds that he could have no authority save it were given from his Father above - so bold). There's also great examples of Nephi, Abinidi, Captain Moroni (from scriptures in the Book of Mormon), Joseph Smith, The Spartans at the Battle of Thermopylae, Muhammad Ali, etc. It was a really fun group discussion. We fired up a group Meaty Boy for District lunch - so much food but soooooo good! Then we went to Temple Square with Hermana Vazquez and her family, accompanied by the Pons family. We watched the Joseph Smith Prophet of the Restoration video, and it was very powerful. I know that the Church that Christ organized when he was on the Earth has been restored by Joseph Smith, and it's an incredibly blessing for all of us on Earth today. I can't profess to know all or even the majority of things about religion, but I know without a doubt in my heart that this is the true church and contains the fullness of the Gospel, and that's why I'm out here on my mission.

Today was action packed. We got up and immediately headed over to Hermano Rodriguez's house to help him tear off the old siding and doors and put up new stuff (service is a great part of his mission).  We worked for a while and then we left, got cleaned up, and went to the Temple with the Lopez family and Aurora Chavez. We got to do it in Spanish, which was only my second time going through in Spanish, and it was an awesome experience and so cool to see recent converts progressing in the Gospel. Afterwards, we had an awesome dinner with the Lopez family at Golden Corral to celebrate...and then 30 minutes later we had dinner with the Rocha family. My stomach hurt but it was such good food - tostadas de tinga (tostadas with shredded spicy chicken)! We had a finding activity with one of the Sisters's wards tonight. (the sister missionaries in his district are in a different ward [congregation] than Scottie) We went out on splits - Elder Balino and I and then Sisters Martinez and Despain - so that we each paired up with a member (church member in that particular ward) and went out to try and find people that were less active in that ward. We got to set up about 7 return appointments for the sisters (sister missionaries), so we're hoping that will really help that ward out - it was struggling a bit with missionary work.

A good day at church today. We learned about testimonies and temples in Sacrament meeting, and then had good classes about the power and authority of God - the priesthood. Then we had a meeting with Brother Holden, learned that we were getting a new branch mission leader (that's new and exciting), and then we went to eat with the Midence and Gonzalez family for dinner. It was just a hilarious group of people, I laughed so much my cheeks hurt me haha. But it was great and then we visited a new family in the branch, and then came back to the apartment. I had to gather all the numbers and record them and get them turned in to the ZL's (zone leaders) (one of his duties as District Leader), and then we passed out. It's been a good week.

Just some quick notes about today: Since Sister Vang is leaving tomorrow to go back home (Paris, France) she said she wanted one last good American breakfast. We went all out this morning. We met at the church building and made pancakes, sausage, eggs, bacon, orange juice, and toast and we just feasted. It was the first time I've cooked bacon by myself too! I really never had, I'd watched you cook it a lot, it turned out well. I just did what I remember you did :)  We do all our big district meals at the church cause we can't go over to each other’s' apartments.
 Madre, you taught me tons, I know more about cooking than all the other elders just from observing you. When I get back though, let's cook together. I really enjoy it, I see why you like it so much! I'll have to teach you how to cook our signature dish, The Meaty Boy :)    Then we cleaned up, did email, played some awesome basketball, (Monday was preparation day), went and had a FHE (Family Home Evening) with the Davalos family, (Family Home Evening or Family Night, in the context of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, refers to one evening per week, usually Monday, that families are encouraged to spend together in study, prayer and other activities). Then turned in. Things are going really well :) I love y'all and hope that everything is good at home! Miss y'all tons.  You're the best family in the world, you taught me more than I could have ever hoped for :)

Sister Vang's Farewell (big) American breakfast

Scottie and his fellow missionaries!

We got transfer calls, I'm staying put with Elder Balino (they do transfers every six weeks so they have the possibility of being moved at that time, he is staying in his same area this transfer with his current companion). I love this area, I'm happy to be staying. Elder Ghramm is about to get transferred :( so we're going to ball (play basketball) all day for him haha! Well, until 6 that is! (p-day ends at 6:00pm, then it is back to work!)  I'm learning so much out here! I completed the Book of Mormon (in Spanish) and I'm reading the Bible now, I'm through St. Mark in the new testament ( I started in Matthew last week) and I've learned tons. I love the scriptures!!!

 Hey we’ve got to run, but I love you so much! Thanks for being the best mom ever, I'm glad that we got to email a bit. I hope you're having a great day and a great week and I can't wait to communicate with you next week. 

Love always, 


(from his emails to his Aunt Tammy):

 Word of the week: compasion. Just like it sounds, it's compassion. Christ had amazing compassion for his disciples and for all of us, which is why he went through the Atonement. And that's a huge blessing!

So I've been doing super well, staying extremely busy but doing super well. We got to go to the Temple last week (Jordan River Temple), and that's always a great experience. Today (this is from last week!) we went to see the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit in Salt Lake, that was awesome! You should read up on them sometime if you get the chance, they're very interesting!

I hope y'all are doing well and surviving the cold weather! Me and my companion have been getting up early to run in the mornings, even though it's like 12 degrees haha. Thank you for that thermal shirt and gloves you sent, they're coming in handy for sure!

I hope work is going well! Our work is going pretty well out here, we're learning more and more every day too!

So new word of the day can be sufrir, which is, like it sounds, to suffer. Christ suffered so much for us because he loved us and wanted us to be able to be happy again even after we make mistakes. One of my favorite scriptures about that is Mosiah 3:7-10. 

I love you Tía Tammy, thank you for all of your constant support :)



Friday, January 24, 2014

He didn't send any photos this week so I've pulled some from earlier entries!

Scottie on his bike, before the snow and ice hit!

2014 has been an excellent year so far; we're staying way busy but that's a good thing right!? I'm loving the area I'm serving in, we're starting to get really close to the members of the Lighthouse Branch, and we're seeing some real progress with the people we're working with. Today is Sunday the 19th, so that makes 7 months in the mission field. . Wow, I can't believe how fast 7 months has flown by. Here are some of the highlights from the year so far:

1/1/14: Wednesday
The first day of the new year went really well. We started off with a service project for the Tibb's family (a family in Sis. Vang and Sis. Thurston's area) (sister missionaries in his district). We were going to clear the ice off of their driveway for them, because Bro. Tibbs has been working a ton and hasn't been able to do it and Sis. Tibbs has been too busy taking care of her kids. We started chipping away at the ice....and about 2.5 hours later we were still going haha. But we got it all off and it looked really good when we were done, definitely a lot less slippery so hopefully that'll help their family out. We got invited to go eat a New Year's lunch by one of our investigators, Norma Ovanda, and she made some of the best pazole (traditional Mexican stew) I've had on my mission. We had several solid lessons too, including a really good one with Minnie, so we'll see how she keeps progressing.

1/3/14: Friday
Today was an awesome day. We had district meeting, so I spent most of the morning preparing for that (as district leader he is in charge of preparing and presenting the training lessons). I trained on finding people and focusing on investigators' needs, and I think it went pretty well. Afterwards, we had our traditional district lunch. Sis. Martinez and Sis. Despain volunteered to make this one, and we had an orange chicken stir fry which was great. We had several good lessons and then had a pretty cool experience. The Midence family picked us up and we went down to Temple Square with Marco, a young man who is from Mexico but is living with his aunt to go to school here. He's a senior in high school, and he didn't know too much about the church, so we got to teach him about the Restoration and the importance of Jesus Christ. When we were at the big statue of Christ in the Temple Visitor's Center, it was a powerful experience. I'm very thankful for the Savior and the sacrifice that he made for us so that, even when we make mistakes, we can repent and find happiness and peace, both here on Earth and throughout the eternities. It was a powerful experience for sure.

A photo of the Statue he refers to - this is just before he entered the MTC when we visited Temple Square before his mission began

1/5/14: Sunday
First Sunday of the New Year! Our branch is stuck with the 1 o'clock church which is pretty interesting. For most people, the only benefit of 1 o'clock church is that you get to sleep in...but we still have to be awake at 6:30 so that kinda cancels that plan haha. But it was a really good day, a powerful Fast and Testimony meeting, and we had a lot of people attend Church that hadn't been there in a long time. New Year and new goals so that was good to see. After church we basically went straight to dinner after our meeting with Bro. Holden

1/6/14: Monday
Today was an example of our usual P-Day (preparation day), just so y'all know. We usually get up and exercise, and then while we're doing morning studies we run our clothes down to the apartment Laundromat to wash. Once our clothes are done, we get a ride over to Walmart, get that taken care of, then we run over to the chapel to do email. After email, we then play basketball. We've got a solid group of missionaries that come over, as well as the Assistants and some investigators and other members. It's always a great time, then we grab dinner and we're off to visit people for the rest of the night. We love it.

1/8/14: Wednesday
Today we had our new missionary/trainer follow up meeting, and Pres. Swain (his Mission President) and the Assistants (Mauinatu and Russell) said some really inspiring things. After the meeting, Elder Ghramm was firing up some lunch: we call it the Meaty Boy. We've been experimenting to try and get the best flavor combination. Today's version included chicken breast and spicy Italian sausage cooked in barbecue sauce and jalapeños and onions and then served over rice. It was quite delicious, probably not super nutritious haha. Then Elder Jung and I (district leaders) had a meeting with Elders McNeil and Ghramm (zone leaders) just to talk about what we can do to help our districts be successful. We had some awesome lessons and even met a new investigator, Wendy, so it was a really good day.

1/10/14: Friday
Today was great. We had Zone Training and it was super spiritual and super informational and we learned a ton. Afterwards, the entire zone went out to Chinese Garden to chow down on an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet. Then we started exchanges. I went with Elder Ghramm into his area and he's an awesome missionary so I learned a lot from him and we got to visit some of his families, people who are really making an effort to change for the better in their lives, and that was awesome.

1/11/14: Saturday
We finished up exchanges about lunchtime today and we taught a good bit of people in the afternoon. Hermano Bayona had signed up to give us dinner, and he said he'd been too busy to cook but asked if he could take us somewhere, which was totally fine with us. He took us to El Jaripeo (a little taco cart in front of Harmond's), and I had some really good tacos of chorizo and cow tongue. I'm not going to lie, if you don't think about what cow tongue is, it's really good. Hermano Bayona then said he was going through a really hard time because his son was in danger of getting deported and they needed to get affidavits in, but he spoke no English at all. So we spent pretty much the rest of the night helping him with the paperwork. I hope it helps them out a lot, he is always so willing to help us so we're glad we could help him with something.

1/12/14: Sunday
Long day at church. Meetings from 11 to 12:30, church from 1 to 4, another meeting from 4 to 5, and then another meeting from 6 to 8:30. It was definitely a lot, but it was a good day, and we got one of the best dinners I've had yet. It was called birria (another Mexican stew), and it was cooked by the Campillo family. It's hard to describe what it was, but it was delicious.

1/14/14: Tuesday
Today was one of the best P-Days in a long time. We got up and went down to the Jordan River temple around 8 o'clock. The ride there was hilarious because we rode with Elder Barfuss (senior missionary) in his 1990 little had no heat so we had to roll the windows down so the window wouldn't fog up too much. Going down the highway with the windows down and 20 degree temperatures just made it an adventure. But the temple was a super spiritual experience and we went as a district so that was awesome. We came back, took care of shopping, got a haircut (and the guy that cut my hair used a straight razor to shape up the back and he cut me pretty good, I definitely don't like straight razors haha) and then we did email and played some good basketball. I did take a pretty good shot to the face though, definitely an accident but it left me with a good bruise around the corner of my left eye, but it was so much fun so I don't really care (he does love his basketball!!). We taught Sharon Vazquez at night and it was just an awesome day.

1/15/14: Wednesday
Today was great. Every Wednesday we have a meeting with our stake president to correlate missionary work. It's always a 2 hour meeting because we have 4 companionships, and we usually only are involved for like 30 minutes each, so it's kind of boring haha. But Pres. Higginson took us all out to lunch at El Rancho Grande afterwards and that was really charitable of him, I had some awesome flautas. We had some lessons and then met back up with Pres. Higginson to give a blessing to his neighbor, a girl named Lisett, who's about 15 and is having brain surgery tomorrow. It'll be a pretty major procedure so we're hoping for the best! I'm thankful for the priesthood and the help that The Lord is always willing to give us.

1/17/14: Friday
Today was a super good day. We got up at 6:15 and got a good 2.5 mile run in. It's a little different than what I'm used to running in at home, because it was about 14 degrees and cold and dry, but we're going to start doing it more regularly just to stay in decent shape. I prepped for district meeting and I think it went well. We talked about finding again, and we also focused on teaching the Doctrine of Jesus Christ. 2 Nephi 31 is a great chapter, if y'all wanted to read that one. Sis. Martinez and Sis. Despain, who are awesome, came through on another awesome district lunch: poppyseed chicken and then for dessert Sis. Vang made her authentic French crepes (she's from Paris), so it was delicious. We had some solid lessons and did some finding since we got cancelled on a bit, and it was, all in all, a great day.

1/18/14:  Saturday
So today was a full day: basketball with less active/investigators, Meaty Boy for lunch (teriyaki style, very good), helped someone set up for a baby shower, taught some lessons, made some worthwhile visits. And then I looked at the date today. I can't believe that 7 months ago I fell asleep in a hotel and then woke up to head towards the MTC (Missionary Training Center). It doesn't feel like it's been 7 months at all, time is flying so fast. But I’m doing well and I'm loving my mission. I miss y'all back home, that's for sure, but I know this is where I'm supposed to be now. I know that the Gospel is true and it will help us draw closer to our Heavenly Father and find happiness and peace in this life. And for this, I am extremely thankful.

1/19/14: Sunday
Today was an awesome day. We had a total of 8 investigators and less active people show up to church, some for the first time, so that was great to see them making steps towards being happier. Then, we had a super good dinner with the Perez Almanza family, carne y arroz y frijoles y agua de piña. We then ran on over to our Mission President's Devotional. We got there early so that we could practice and sing with the choir. I'm not a super good singer, but I really enjoy singing in this choir because the spirit is so strong and I love the songs we sing (Because I Have Been Given Much, Dear to the Heart of the Shepard, Praise to the Man, I Believe in Christ). The devotional went super well, and it was even better because I got to sing next to Elders Burgin (former companion) and Rosdahl (two really good buddies) and then I got to see Elder Moleli too, I miss that guy like crazy. We came home and I collected the district's numbers, ate a snack, and I'm ready for bed. We plan on running again tomorrow morning and for PDay we're going to go see the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit in downtown, so that'll be super interesting. I love y'all and miss you tons, but thanks for all the support you show, and a special thank you for sending my basketball shoes, those are greatly appreciated haha :)

Scottie with his former companion, Elder Burgin

Love you all,

Elder Higgins

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A long overdue update:  

(We didn’t get an email from Scottie the week of Christmas because we actually got to Skype with him!!! Seeing his face and his huge smile was our very favorite present. We enjoyed a long conversation with all of us gathered around but the worst part was saying goodbye – not a dry eye on either end of the call.  Now we wait until Mother’s Day for the next Skype/phone conversation.)

(Scottie via Skype on Christmas Day)

 This is Scottie’s email the following week):

Hey there! 

So I just can't get over how amazing of a family I have, y'all are truly the best. The love and support you show me is amazing. 1/2 pound Reese's cups, delicious and the greatest thing to ever come out of a candy thinker-upper's mind. Thank you! That CTR ring is beautiful and it fits perfectly, don't know how you got the size right but it's perfect and I wear it every day, thank you! (We sent him a nice CTR – Choose the Right – ring for Christmas)  The southern pride shirt is amazing, no lie it's the coolest thing ever. Y'all know me well!

At the Christmas party for his mission with missionaries he met at the MTC

 This last week has been exciting for sure. I got to conduct my first baptismal interview as a district leader, a lady named Kimberly. That was an interesting experience, and definitely a privilege. For New Year's, we're just hanging around with our district, and that's awesome! I love our district, we're all really close and it just makes the mission a more enjoyable 

Scottie with the other missionaries in his District

Elder Balino (Scottie’s new companion) is the man! He's so comfortable talking to people and because he's a native speaker he's helping me improve my Spanish and learn slang phrases haha. I love it! 

Scottie's Companion, Elder Balino

I'm super excited for the upcoming year, although I hope it'll be the only year where I don't get to see my family and friends. But we're going to have a lot of exciting experiences. 

This last week, we had a little miracle one night. We had a tough time finding people one day, and out of nowhere Sisters Vang and Thurston (sister missionaries in his district) texted us and asked us if we could meet them to give a family they're working with a blessing. Faisal and Sonya were their names, and it was a spiritually powerful experience.  As I was giving the blessings, I just felt the spirit guide me as to what to say and it helped me to gain a stronger testimony of the power of the priesthood. I know with a certainty that our Heavenly Father loves us and wants us to be happy, and it's an incredible blessing to see miracles like that. 

I love y'all, I hope you're having fun on your cruise (our family went on a cruise right after Christmas to celebrate the holidays and Savannah’s 16th birthday!), and I hope that you have an amazing New Year. I hope 2014 is even better than 2013, and thanks for everything you do for me. 

For chuckles, someone told me this the other day: My goal for 2014 is to complete all my goals from 2013 that I should have completed when I made them in 2012 hahahaa.

Mission - great

District - amazing!

A couple of last things: 
* the yak traks actually work super well and have kept me from falling and further injuring my iPad haha, thank you! (We sent him yak traks to attach to his shoes when he is walking in snow, kind of like snow chains for the shoes!)

* that ring (his CTR ring) is awesome, I love it!

* I love y'all, and I'm so glad Padre got to take a picture on that beach with the planes, I know he's always wanted to do that! (While cruising we were able to visit Maho Beach in St. Maarten where the planes fly VERY close to the beach when landing, one of the things on my husband’s bucket list!)

Scott (Padre) enjoying the view at Maho Beach, St. Maarten

* Y'all are awesome, thanks for everything!

I miss driving SOOOOO MUCH!
(his response to finding out that his younger sister had gotten her driver’s license!)  We're not allowed to drive at all, so in over 7 months I haven't even touched a steering wheel. We walk 24/7 until the ice melts off the ground haha, so we're getting some good walking in :)

Hey, we’ve got to go now, we had some crazy schedule because we went to the temple. But I love you tons and you're amazing examples for me. 

Scottie and his District at the Jordan River Temple

I can't wait to talk next week, should be regular Monday pday (preparation day). 

Love you all!!!


(from his emails to his Aunt Tammy):

It's below freezing every day, hasn't snowed in a little while though, so it's pretty icy. I'm still trying to find my footing down icy sidewalks haha!

New word: epale. It's kind of a slang word, because my new companion is a native speaker from Mexico. He says it in a really funny way to show excitement, and it's usually followed by the Spanglish phrase: mucho-take-it-easy hahaha. He's hilarious! 

A good word though is also redención, which means redemption. Christ can help us find that in our life. I know it's true, and I've gained a testimony of that. 

Life in the mission as a leader definitely is different, but I really like it. I have more meetings to go to, but they're usually really spiritual and I get to learn a lot. Every week I have to give a 1.5 hour training called District Meeting, so that makes me prepare a lot but I usually get a ton out of it, hopefully the other people in my district do too! I'm in charge of collecting weekly reports and numbers so logistically I have to keep myself more organized and keep track of about 6 other missionaries too, but my district is awesome and I love them and I'm loving it! 
New word: amparar - to protect. The Gospel is a big protection for us, and it can shield us from a lot of negative things in this world :)

I love you Tía Tammy, a whole lot!