Sunday, May 4, 2014

Unofficial first Mexico letter!

Ok so I'm in MEXICO now! After mechanical issues with the plane, and many delays we arrived in Puebla around midnight last night. I was soooo exhausted but our mission presidents are SO AWESOME and they let us all sleep in a little bit. Anyways first impressions of Meixco:

Its hot and humid like Hawaii. I slept with no blankets last night and ALL the windows open
It smells like smoke all the time because of the active volcano
You cannot flush toilet paper down the toilets. theres a bin next to the toilet where you put the paper
you have to light the burner for hot water every morning
I get my comp tonight
I don't understand any spanish
theres dirt roads
this is a 3rd world country to the max
We live in cement houses that look like garages
theres 215 missionaries in Puebla. There are only 15 AMERICAN GIRLS INCLUDING US
I'm slightly terrified but I am stoked out of my mind to be here

Anyways more to come next week. Sure do love you all!

Mom- I've started taking all of my digestive pills so I should hopefully be good

PRAY FOR ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SO I DON'T DIE! HAHA



Ok you heard it correctly, this is my LAST LETTER FROM THE MTC EVER.

I can hardly believe it. Where did the time go?!

Ok I have no time to write because I have to pack up my entire life into 2 suitcases and my room is a mess and I have to write a talk for tomorrow and there are A BILLION other things I have to do before class today, soooooo this letter is going to be way cray cray. But you have been warned so its not my fault. 

Let me begin by telling you the low down of this week.

It was amazing and crazy.

Easter was one of the best days BY FAR that I have experienced in the MTC. Pres. Uchtdorf (my personal favorite) came and spoke to us and we all held a huge sacrament meeting. There were 4 sacrament tables and about 50 elders passing the sacrament. It was the coolest thing. And of course Uchtdorf was as charming as ever and gave one of the best talks about the atonement and becoming disciples of Christ. Fact: Uchtdorf knows whats up. Oh and the coolest part? Ramirez and I were walking out of the cafeteria and he was walking in at the same time and so we ran into him completely by accident and he stopped and talked to us in Spanish! Yes the German man, Uchtdorf, held a conversation with me in Spanish. So freaking cool. It was awesome. 

The rest of Easter Sunday was just as amazing. Mom and family- thanks for the bunny ears and all the candy! Hermana Ramirez's family sent her a bunch of plastic easter eggs and with all the candy I got from relatives, we filled those easter eggs to the brim and had one of the biggest and hardest easter egg hunts in the history of easter egg hunts. I carried on the tradition of the "big egg" and so we wrote everyones name on one easter egg and we hid those the hardest. Seriously the girls in my district loved it and don't even get me started on the elders. They were BEAMING from ear to ear and were running around the entire campus like a bunch of obnoxious 12 year olds. It was the greatest and funniest thing I have ever seen. And Ramirez and I hid those eggs way hard! We have a stream running through our campus and we were hiding the eggs in between the rocks and even threw some of the Elders personalized eggs into the stream. Haha, I know, mean hu, but whatever. The elders loved it. And yes, I wore those tacky bunny ears the ENTIRE Easter egg hunt.


The rest of the week went by without anything too exciting going on. I felt more stressed this week because ummm my Spanish still sucks and I CANNOT conjugate verbs to save my life. In fact everyone in my district was feeling more stressed this week and lets not even get started on how much stress I feel in this very moment, serious this amount of stress I feel right now is way abnormal for me haha. 

We said goodbye to all of our teachers which seriously killed me. All of our teachers have become our best friends and they were there every step of the way with us. We had an awesome district and we were always laughing and 2 of our teachers said that we have been their favorite districts by far and they were sad to see us go. Gah. It was sad. Its amazing how close you get to people in 6 weeks. 

We have also been brain fried because of all of the last minute studying and learning going on and so we have created some interesting games to pass the time. One is called the marker game. The elders came up with this. You stand in a corner and chuck a marker at the white board to try to land it on the white board's shelf. Yeah you heard me right. Thats the game. Sounds stupid I know but it is oddly so entertaining and addicting. We probably played that for a good half an hour last night. I've become a champ at it no big deal. Once I got my form down, that marker landed on that shelf every time! Gotta have some kind of talent to share with others right?!

Ok well thats about it. My heart is breaking right now I don't want to leave this place. I know that sounds completely crazy but it is true. As I was sitting in the temple with my district today it hit me how hard it is going to be to leave all of them. I am so thankful I got to spend 6 weeks here at the MTC. The amount of learning and spiritual growth I have inquired here is incredible and I can't even imagine how much it will be out in the field. I cannot believe that I will be in MEXICO in 2 days but I seriously cannot wait. Pray for a good trainer for me! I'll be stuck to her like glue for a whopping 12 weeks! haha. 

Oh and I hear it might snow in Utah on Monday? Thank the freaking Heavens I am peacing out of this place! I'm ready for some Mexican sun! 

Line of the week:

-My companion (talking to our gangster teacher Lebron): Me gusta su cuerpo!
Lebron: ............. walks away and leaves the room.
HAHAHAHAHA. She meant to say Me gusta su corbata (which means I like your tie). What she actually said to him is "I like your  body." Dying. It was so funny. 

Spanish is a struggle for all of us. Lost in translation. 

- Ok so my branch presidents wife is AMAZING but kinda crazy. The other night she made us do this way creepy activity. She talked about how we each have this inner child inside each of us that has been hindered at some time in our life because of something traumatic happening or something like that. She then made us talk to our inner child. Apparently she does this activity every day with herself. Wanna know how you do it? Ok. You grab a pen and a piece of paper. Your right hand is the real you, and the left hand is your inner child. She made us ask ourselves questions with the right hand and then answer those questions with our "inner child" left hand....... yeah I'm totally being serious right now. So here I was writing with my right and left hand apparently talking to my "inner child"...???? Ok. Creepy. And ummm my inner child must be dead because I don't think I ever got an answer from my inner child...... there is only 1 person in my head!!! hahahaha crazy.

Ok this is legitimately the end of my email now. The next time you hear from me I'll be in Mexico hopefully in one piece!


MTC #5

Hola mi familia y mi amigos! Que pasa!?

haha ok enough with the spanish. How is everyone doing!? Any fun Easter plans that I'm missing out on?

This week was definitely not as.. (for lack of a better word) exciting as last week and let me tell you, I was 100 percent grateful for that little fact of life! However it was still a crazy week and so much happened that I can't wait to tell you about.

 For starters, I think one of the biggest lessons that I learned was the fact that people who you would have never thought could change, can and do change through the gospel and atonement of Jesus Christ. My teacher Hermano Lebran really opened up to us this week and shared his conversion story. 
He grew up in the ghetto of Ohio (wherever the heck that is) and was involved in some seriously gangs and drugs. He even showed us pictures of himself and oh my gosh he was crazy looking! He had piercings all over and long corn rows and he never smiled in a single picture. He talked about how he never thought he would live past the age of 20 because he feared for his life everyday. He explained that he would be in gun fights almost every other day and had more enemies than friends. He was constantly worried about his family and was so controlled by drugs he could see no way out. And then guess what? With the help of a mormon girl (who he later married) and some missionaries, he completely turned his life around. The Lord had prepared him to hear the gospel and when the time was right he completely accepted it and it filled all of his emptiness. He later went on a mission to Argentina and now he is at BYU and is one of the best MTC teachers I have ever had. I was completely astonished when he told us he was a convert. Knowing him now, you would never believe he was even capable of being the person who he was a few years ago. We also got some new Elders in our district and one of them is also a convert. He has tattoos all up and down his arms and talked about who he was before his conversion. He drank and smoke and had no desire to affiliate with any church or any God. 13 months ago he saw the broadway Book of Mormon play and was immediately fascinated with the Mormon culture even though he had no idea why. After reading everything on he randomly ran into a pair of sister mormon missionaries and they started teaching him. He said that as he learned the lessons, it was almost as if he was remembering the things they were teaching him. The doctrines did not seem new to him and he felt like he had always known they were true even though he didn't understand how that could be so. He ended up joining the church and now he is going to be a missionary in Argentina. Amazing. This week I realized that who am I to judge? God knows who is prepared and who is ready to accept and receive the gospel. I learned that the gospel truly does fill in those empty spaces in peoples lives. I have never personally felt that empty space because I don't know my life without this gospel, but I do know my life with this gospel and I know for a fact that without it I would be lost and something inside of me would be empty. I feel an overwhelming amount of happiness and completeness to my life and I can't wait to share that with others.

Haha this is a funny story for you. This week I had so many moments where my teacher would be talking in Spanish and I would just stop and think, "oh my gosh I am actually understanding this different language!" Like seriously I was sooo stoked and pumped because it is getting to the point where I don't even have to concentrate super hard to translate the words back into English. Its becoming more natural.... or so I thought. Our teachers decided to change some things up and so on Wednesday we had a lesson with a member living in Mexico over skype. We were so excited to talk with a real native and share a message with them but when Hermana Ramirez and I started talking to our lady on skype............ um................ I could NOT understand a thing she said.

And best yet?

She could not understand any of my Spanish.

Awesome. Mexico here I come. 

So yeah thats going to be an interesting experience for me. I can definitely understand "Americanized Spanish" but the real thing is definitely a struggle for me haha. Oh another funny moment this week? I think I am the worst time teller and number sayer in the entire worlds history. We learned how to tell time this week and say numbers so we can tell investigators what page in the BOM or things like that and oh my freak I cannot do it. Seriously it was embarrassing. Soooo I'm just never going to tell anyone the time in Mexico. And for numbers I am just going to use my fingers to show them. Good plan Laurel, good plan. 

Oh another awesome thing! Or not awesome thing- depends on how you look at it. Ramirez and I had a new investigator this week and he was the meanest person I have ever met in my entire life. He bible bashed with us the entire time, told us we were going to get killed in mexico, told us our church was evil, we worshiped false prophets, we were all going to go to Hell, and again told us how the Mexican gangs were going to rob and beat us in Puebla.

He was a pleasant fellow.

Apparently he even sent a sister missionary pair home the other day.

Thank goodness Ramirez and I are persistent even though it took us 20 minutes to get him to let us into his home. But yeah other than leaving him with our testimonies and NOT arguing with him we had no clue what to do and when the time was up, you bet I was crying tears of happiness. I was SO happy to be out of there and away from the lovely Mr. Daniel. 

It got even better when the teacher who watched our lesson told us that that was the most realistic experience we have had here in comparison to the mission field. Yay. But hey hes a work in progress and we are going to get through to him. I just know it. 

Oh ok so the highlight of my week!? WE GOT OUR TRAVEL PLANS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! April 28 is the last time I am going to be in America for a year and a half. Crazy. My flight leaves the SLC airport at 12:45 pm, gets into Houston, and then from Houston we fly to PUEBLA MEXICO and I arrive at 8:35 pm. crazycrazycrazycrazycrazyyyyyyyyyyyy. I have never been more excited or more scared for anything in my entire life haha but yeah its pretty cool. Oh so familia, be expecting a call around 5ish that night because I think I will call between my layover in Houston. So you better answer!!!! 

Cool things that happened this week:

-Elder Anderson came and talked to us for a devotional! That was pretty legit. We also had the BYU mens choir come and sing and OH MY GOSH if you ever get the chance to see them in concert DO IT. They were unreal. They sang Latin sons, and African songs and my favorite, a song from New Zealand. They even started doing the Haka in the middle of it and I died. Seeing white boys in suits and ties doing the Haka was too much for me to handle. It was hilarious and made me miss Hawaii more than I have ever missed it before! 
-Mexico had a earthquake! I guess thats not really cool but everyone was talking about it! Our investigators even showed us videos their families had sent them during the earthquake. Kinda scary. Thank goodness I've already lived through 1 earthquake so I think I'm like a pro now. I can definitely handle another.....haha sike. 

Funny things that happened this week:

-Hahaha ok this one kills me I think it is so funny. So one girl in our group is.... a little different.... but I love her. Anyways her dog died last week and it completely unraveled her entire completely. Well anyways she had just gotten over it and was finally doing ok. Well our teacher was teaching a grammar lesson and it was difficult and she was getting frustrated and said that it was the worst thing ever. And he decided to say, "Its not as bad as having your dog die!" But he had no clue that her dog really did just die. So we were all silent starting at him in horror then she started laughing and then straight BAWLING! You should have seen the look on his face. I wasn't laughing at her but I was definitely laughing at him as he tried to get himself out of the huge hole he had dug. Hillarious. 
-We failed another cleaning check! However no one cares anymore. Seriously we are SO exhausted at the end of the night that we throw our clothes wherever and climb into bed so yeah my room is a mess but whatever. Life goes on. Oh and making the bed on the top bunk is impossible so I don't even try anymore ha. 
-Remember the story about the crazy New Zealand Elders that Ramirez and I met? Well they got way creepy and way inappropriate so we mentioned their names to our teacher and he flipped out. Watch out Elders, gangster Lebron is coming after ya! 

Haha ok enough about that. This week definitely had moments where I was so incredibly stoked to be a missionary and then moments where I literally was like, what the heck am I doing here. One of my goals this week was to focus and learn more about the atonement being Easter Weekend and all and I can not even describe all of the blessings and little miracles I saw in my life this week. As I was studying the atonement, I ran across one of my favorite talks from Elder Holland and I want to share a few lines from it with you.

"I speak of those final moments for which Jesus must have prepared intellectually and physically, but which he may not have fully anticipated emotionally and spiritually- that concluding decent into the paralyzing despair of divine withdrawl when He cries in ultimate loneliness "my God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?"  It was required, indeed it was Central to the significance of the atonement that Christ would feel as we do. For his atonement to be infinite and eternal, he had to feel what it was like to die not only physically but spiritually, to sense what it was like to have the divine spirit withdraw leaving one feeling totally, hoplessly alone. One of the greatest consolations fo this easter season is that because Jesus walked such a long lonely path utterly alone, we do not have to do so. Trumpeted from the summit of Calgary is the truth that we will never be left alone, not unaided even if sometimes we feel we are."

This is by far one of my favorite talks about the atonement. I know that because of the atonement, Christ knows EXACTLY how we feel, physically and spiritually. I know that when he suffered for us, it was so personal that he suffered for each one of us individually as if we were the only human beings on the earth. I know that He is ALWAYS with us even though we sometimes feel alone, and trust me there have been many times where I have felt completely alone but I know he is there. This is why I am a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This gospel and the doctrines in it bring hope, understanding and healing. I am so thankful for this Easter season where I get to more fully reflect on my Savior and the infinite and atoning sacrafice he made for me. This church is so true! I hope you all take time to think about what the atonement means to each of you. Oh and one last thing. Go onto and watch the new video clip the church put out for Easter. It is seriously so so so good! 

I love you all and I am miss you!!!!!!!

Hermana Wells

Quote of the week:

(On a bus without seat belts ) 

Sister missionary: Isn't not wearing a seat belt breaking the law?
Other sis mish: Yeah it is
Sister missionary: (dead serious) Oh my gosh we need to repent and tell the branch president what we have done!


remember how the people stood by the buses to help me when i first got dropped off at the mtc? We were those people this week! that's why we took this picture haha

yup we got a picture with the creepy New Zealand guys

 temple pic

MTC #4


This has been the first email where I've actually sat down at the computer and not know exactly what I wanted to write about or say. Its kinda weird actually because normally I am full of hilarious or embarrassing stories but not this week.
To say the least, this week has been the 3rd hardest week of my entire life.
I've thought allot about how I wanted to talk about this experience of mine because its sacred to me, but in the end I've decided to share it because it was truly a miracle in my life and I think we all sometimes need reminders of Gods mercy and miracles in our daily lives.
So to begin. A few weeks ago I tweaked my back and it started hurting like crazy. I was worried it was a problem with one of my back discs but I was comforted when a "lump" appeared in my back because I was convinced it was a knotted muscle which was making my back sore. Well what do you do with a knot? You try to get it out! So I had my comp and the other girls in my district try to massage it out and put essential oils and icy hot on it and all that jazz. 
Well.... it never did go away. In fact it was growing larger and harder.
In the back of my mind I knew it probably wasn't a muscle and to be honest I was starting to have these feelings that I needed to go get it checked out by a doctor.
But I was terrified. Especially after going through everything with Bethany and her cancer and her lump in her neck...... I was 100 percent terrified out of my mind. It got to the point where I was having a hard concentrating on anything else but the mystery lump in my back and so on Wednesday I made an appointment with the doctor at the Main MTC. 
He looked at my back and after he touched the lump he grew very concerned and got very quiet. He started asking me if I had fevers or bruises anywhere (questions to see if it may be cancerous) but I said I didn't have any of those signs.
He then said he wanted another dr's opinion and so I was sitting in a room with 2 doctors worrying over a lump in my back. Then the one Dr. turned to me and said "we never send missionaries to urgent care for MRI's but we need to get you in tomorrow." 
Literally I wanted to throw up.
I asked him if it could be cancerous and he said its not likely but he wanted to be completely sure. Then he said if it wasn't cancerous that would be good but I would still need surgery and would probably have to go home.

So I scheduled my MRI with the front desk and the lovely lady left a message on my moms phone saying "your daughter Laurel is going in for an MRI on a lump in her back tomorrow morning."
I then told that stupid lady to immediately call my mom back and tell her that its probably not cancerous and I SHOULD be ok. Shes already been through one huge medical thing, she doesn't need another!

But that's when it hit me and I started bawling my eyes out. Like the ugly cry kind of bawling. It was awful. It all just hit me then. The fact that it might be cancerous, the fact that I will probably have to get surgery, the fact that I might have to go home, the fact that my mission might be over.

I feel stupid writing about it now, but I cannot even begin to explain how I was feeling on that day. I was so angry with God. I could not believe that he would let something this big and terrible happen to me. Was I not on a mission FOR him?!  I couldn't believe that it would be in His will to take my mission away from me. And the biggest thing- I couldn't even begin to believe how utterly and completely alone I felt. 
Now I've felt alone before, but I have NEVER felt this alone in my entire life then on that day. never, ever ever. 

After that cheery Dr. visit I was NOT okay. But I still had to lessons to teach and that was rough. My comp was awesome and took the lead in every lesson while I just sat there. I couldn't tell an investigator that God was merciful or that he loved them when I didn't believe those things for myself.

Now let me tell you, the MTC is wonderful. My teachers were my biggest supporters and that is what they are there for. Hermana Bair took me on a walk and just let me cry and tell her exactly what I was feeling. And then that night I asked Hermano Dolbin to give me a blessing- and it was a beautiful blessing.  It all just made me realize how much the teachers here really do care for each and every one of us. Its amazing.

Well anyways I did not get ANY sleep that night and I could barely pray because I was still so mad and so hurt.  The morning of the MRI I was freaking nervous. BUT miracle #1: they let my mom come down to the MRI place! Seriously nothing else could have made me feel better than seeing my mom. 

They then asked me if I was claustrophobic and I said no........ but as I was put into the coffin like tube and my heart started racing faster I thought to myself.... hmmmm maybe I am a bit claustrophobic hahaha yeah it was terrible
Now here is where the story changes because honestly something happened to me in that tube. I was in the MRI for about 35 minutes total and I spent the entire time praying. I prayed for everyone I knew and I thanked God for everything I had. And then as I was lying in the tube I realized that this was the moment where I had to decide if I was going to trust God and his will no matter what the results were. 
That was a terrifying moment.
But the second I told God that I would trust him and never leave him or give up on this gospel I felt this enormous warmth and peace envelop me and I know for a fact that I was not alone in that room. I don't know who else was there but I distinctly felt spirits watching over me.
And I had total peace. I knew that even if I had to go home or have surgery or something worse, everything would be ok. I knew that no matter what I was going to be blessed. I knew that I was loved and that God was mindful of me and my situation. I knew that I was going to be happy at the end result even if it was not what I wanted. My anger completely washed away and I felt free. I wanted this mission SO badly, but if God had other plans for me, I was going to be ok with them.

Never in my entire life have I ever had an experience such as that one. And the best part....

After waiting for 4 hours I got my results and they were good!

No cancer. No tumor. Not even a lump of tissue! Apparently my back was irritated and inflamed and so fluid from my spinal cord leaked and pocketed itself in the subcutaneous layer of my skin. The Dr was so excited as he was telling me all of this and said that it would eventually go away on its own.

Oh and another miracle? The day after the MRI, the lump was half of its size and I have little to no pain now. Crazy.

Now, as I've been thinking about these past 2 days of hell, I am starting to realize that I needed this to happen. And I am so so grateful it did. After everything in my life and after Bethany getting cancer, my faith in God had plummeted and I felt exempt from his blessings and his love. But, the whole "scary lump" on my back was one of Gods biggest blessings for me. He knew that I needed to change and reevaluate myself. He knew that I needed a chance to rebuild my trust in him. And most importantly, (and what I am most grateful for) He knew that I would not survive a mission if I did not have stronger faith in Him, His blessings, or His mercy. 

How grateful I am for a God that tears me down just so that He can build me up stronger. 

Ok Wow was that a long enough story for all of you?!  But really quickly:

Funny moments:
-Totally butchered the "Restoration" lesson to an investigator. After we were done teaching he somehow thought Joseph Smith was still alive today and that if we all pray, we will all see angels. woops.
-I thought an investigator said "turtles" and not "tortillas" and so I sat there staring at him with a confused look until he asked what was wrong and I said "uhhh youre talking about turtles??" then he laughed and laughed and laughed
-Some Elders from South America gave me "mexican candy." Well I ate it and all I have to say is.....I am GOING to get stomach ulcers in Mexico! The candy was made out of chili powder and other spices and I almost threw up it was SO freaking hot. The elder laughed at my white girl status and said, "Hermana, why are your eyes tearing up!?!" ya ya I know my eyes are tearing up. I'm dying here ok?
-Seeing a heavier elder totally leap over a HUGE cement block and clear it. Seriously I was astounded. And watching him jump over that thing was soooooooo hillarious.

Anyways how was conference for all of you? I loved it. The coolest thing about conference as a missionary is that they put all of you together in one big room while you watch it. It is so much fun meeting different missionaries and seeing where they are all going. We met elders going to Russia and Ukraine and they bore their testimonies to us in Russian and Ukrainian. And let me tell you- there was a distinct spirit and power behind their words. Yes they spoke slowly and choppy and yes I didn't understand a word they were saying but I definitely felt something. Missions are amazing. The gospel is amazing and simple doctrine carries such power. Which is good to know because it makes me realize that yes my Spanish is slow and choppy but it also carries a certain spirit behind it. Gahhh I love it here.

I am so so grateful for the chance to be a missionary. I didn't really understand how much I wanted this until it was almost taken away from me. I know for a surety that God is mindful and loves each and everyone of us. I am understanding more and more about how the atonement works. I know that through the atonement we can fully  trust Gods will and in doing so, fear with be replaced with faith and peace. I know that God is watching out for me and I can see his hand in my life. The gospel of Jesus Christ heals the broken, gives strength to the weak and faith to the doubtful. While in the MRI, I learned that Christ loves us perfectly because he understands us perfectly. There is no perfect love without perfect understanding. Through him we can have strength to go through the seemingly impossible. The night before my MRI my teacher told me to read Alma 26 and personalize it and these were my favorite verses:

6) Yea (insert your name here) shall not be beaten down by the storm at the last day, yea neither shall (name) be harrowed up by the whirl winds, but when the storm cometh (name) shall be gathered together in the place that the storm cannot penetrate you.
7) Behold, (name) in in the hands of the Lord of the harvest and (name) is his and He will raise (name) up at the last day.
12) Yea, I know that I am nothing, as to my strength I am weak; therefor I will not boast of myself but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things
22) Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith and bringeth forth good works and prayeth continually without ceasing- unto such it is given to know the mysteries of God
27) now when our hearts were depressed and we were about to turn back, behold the Lord comforted us and said bear with patience thine afflictions and I will give you success
37) Now my bretheren, we see that God is mindful of every people and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth.

I love these verses and I know they are true. I know that God NEVER EVER abandons us. We all just need more faith.

Line of the Week:

Me and my compy comp, Ramirez, rain into 2 Elders from New Zealand and... they were crazy. Like borderline innapropriate crazy. They asked us to go on a moonlight Temple walk with them that night.


Hermana Wells

Oh and enjoy the horrid picture of me in my scrubs. When my mom was taking the picture she said, "You guys look like you are going to Jail!"

MRI...Jail.... pretty much the same thing! 

 we FINALLY got elders added to our zone so now the stake presidency doesn't have to prepare and pass the sacrament!
 gotta love laundry day