Tuesday, December 31, 2013

12/31 Pictures

Cristina and her husband Nelson!
The cucaracha that I killed in our bathroom! Mom asked me to snap a photo of the next one!
Us and the infamous freezer (and me with my hatchet)!

Pictures 12/31

Our bedroom...yep it is as scary as it looks! It makes the BYU apartments look like paradise!
Our bathroom that contains: sapos, cienpies, y cucarachas!!
The window through which everything enters....  Where we study, eat, and live! Yes...it is all combined!

The Rescue!

Dear Familia,

What a week! I loved getting to talk to all of you at Christmas (including Regan, welcome to the family)! It was tough to hear about Grandma McMurray, but it was way better to hear about Grandma´s passing in person...it would have been horrible in email! I feel blessed to have had Grandma McMurray in my life! I had the privilege of spending a fair amount of time with Grandma this last year and getting to know her better! I have lots of great memories of our summer together. Watching ¨Lark Rise to Candelford¨ (yes we were officially the first ones in the family watching it...), reading scary mystery books (that did nothing to Grandma, but caused me to sleep with all of the lights on), eating chocolate cake at Maglebys, and talking about all of the experiences of her life! She is one of the coolest people that I know!!! She modeled, was part of a bowling team, was born with two baby teeth (she had a newspaper article written about her), had a man break into her house through her window, learned to roller skate like a champion, was completely fearless (she slept with a baseball bat next to her bed in case of intruders), and traveled throughout the world! I have so many fond memories of my Grandma!!!! During this time, that to some people might feel like the end, I have felt very comforted by my knowledge of the Plan of Salvation. I know that my Grandma will live again and that I can see her after this life! I have, in this last week, felt her near me! I know that she is watching out for all of her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren!

This week has been a little crazy because we had cambios!!! I am still in Rivera (whew...I felt relieved too), but I have a new companion!  Her name is Hermana Ramirez!!! And she is from....yep you guessed it, Peru! Turns out Peruvians are my lot in the mission :)! She has three months in the mission and is super sweet! I have feeling this is going to be a great 6 weeks! The good news about our area from this week is that we had a less active return to church this week! We have been working with her for the last 6 weeks and she is super nice. Her husband is active, but she has been inactive for the last couple years! She said she felt guilty to be in Church, because she hasn´t been fulfilling her calling....The good news is that I had a chance to talk to her after the Sacrament and she said that she felt super good
and realized what she had been missing! One of the sweetest moments of the mission is to watch people who had the gospel, find it again! The work is progressing well in Rivera!!!

Funny Stories of the week:

-Hermana Ramirez looking at our family photo and putting us in age order...Nathan (30), Ryan (21), Me, Matthew(19), Daniel (15), Michelle (14), Spencer (12), Caroline (9). I thought you guys might like to know the results....When I told her that Michelle was the oldest her
jaw hit the floor :)! She is also convinced that we are all adopted...I love our little family of all the orphans of heaven :)!

-I accidentally killed a cockroach with my foot! I was brushing my teeth, completely unaware of anything, when I stepped forward to spit..and heard...CRUNCH! It turns out I can kill cockroaches without even trying now (don´t worry Mom, I made sure to snap a photo after!).
The good news is that my new companion doesn´t mind killing them...(not that I scream and run the opposite direction or anything)!

-My companion and I cleaned the ice out of our freezer with a knife and a small hatchet! I have no idea why we have a small hatchet in our apartment (I think some of the missionaries before used it as a knife, since it was in with the silverware...) It led to some very interesting photos!

That´s it from Rivera!
Hermana McMurray

Monday, December 23, 2013

An Eternal Family

Dear Familia,

It has been another great and crazy week in the mission! The highlight of the week is the baptism of Cristina!!! Her husband Nelson is still smoking, so he could not be baptized, but Cristina wanted to be baptized this week anyway! It was a beautiful baptismal service! It has now become somewhat of a tradition for Hermana Mazzini and I to see and film the person as they step out of the font.This week we saw Cristina as she stepped out of the font! She had tears in her eyes as she said ¨I felt a huge pressure on my chest and then it went away!¨
She bore her testimony after and talked about how she felt the Holy Ghost sooo strong and that she literally felt that God had forgiven all of her sins! It is an amazing experience for me to see the change in these people, not only in their mannerisms, but also in their countenances! I can literally see the light of Christ shining in their faces!

In other news...One, Two, Three, Four... That how many people are now living in our apartment! This week the assistants called us and said how do you feel about having a cortoplazo come and live with you? A cortoplazo is a person that isn´t a missionary, but wants to see what the mission is like, to see if they want to serve! The surprise is that we actually got two cortoplazos! Hermana Chineppe is 17 and Hermana Bruno is 18! They both want to serve missions and both are excellent ¨mini-missionaries¨! The part that is a little hard is that I am actually in charge of one and Hermana Mazzini the other! That means that I am out teaching and being the senior companion...how scary is that?! It is also interesting because they weren´t trained (MTC) and they know nothing about the mission! The good news is...they both know Spanish :D! So it all has been very fun and a great learning experience!

The funny stories of the week:

-We forgot we only had one set of keys! So Hermana Chineppe and I broke into our apartment through the window...it was surprisingly easy! The good news...We got to eat lunch in our apartment! The bad news....for some reason I feel a little less safe :D!

-We only have two beds in our apartment and four people, so Hermana Mazzini and I slept in the floor! It wasn´t too bad minus the giant cockroaches!!! I prayed that the cockroaches wouldn´t eat my feet during the night...which sounds kind of silly, but I kind of am deathly afraid of them (you would be too, if you could see them..they are around 4 inches long!) This morning, we found a giant cockroach lying dead about two feet from where my feet were during the night! I am pretty sure that the Lord really loves his missionaries! Everyday we see examples of small tender mercies!

The real news that I want to write is about families! I received the news about Grandma McMurray. I  hear that she isn´t doing well and I am feeling pretty sad, but I know that families are forever! I know that God always has a bigger and better plan for us and that He doesn´t leave us alone! I am grateful that my family is sealed in the temple and that I can be with my Grandma again after this life! I want to put the title the same this week as the last! Last week I didn´t know this was going to happen and it almost seems a little cruel because the title An Eternal Family is all over my emails, but I think it is also a tender mercy because it is what I need to remember during this difficult time!  This week this title applies to my family. I love you all and feel grateful for the time that I have had to spend with my Grandma!

I love you and miss you all!
Hermana McMurray

Monday, December 16, 2013

An Eternal Family

Hola Familia,

It is the week before Christmas...and the temperatures are in the low 100s! Our neighbors told us that it is supposed to get up to 114 tomorrow (with humidity)! It turns out that the sun is super strong here...something about a thinner atmosphere... Anyway I know that the Lord is blessing me because I actually don´t feel like I am going to die of heatstroke all day long! We spend about 8-10 hours outside wandering the streets and I am pretty sure that I should be burnt to a crisp and pretty much dead with my super white skin, but I actually feel okay! Sometimes miracles from the Lord are small, but significant! I know that this is actually a small miracle for me, so that I can continue to do the Lord´s work!

Sorry I haven´t said anything about Christmas phone calls yet...but I didn´t actually know until today! I forwarded the email to Mom and Michelle, unfortunately it happens to be in Spanish! If you have problems, just ask Ryan to translate it...or Dad can practice his Spanish! I get 45 minutes to Skype with you guys!!! Next week I should be able to tell you a time...

Now to the good stuff:

Well this week has been crazy (like every other week, but actually a little bit more)! Family Valentti was baptized this week! Wait, what?!  Yep, SURPRISE! Daniel, Luciana, and Ingrid were baptized yesterday and confirmed members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints!  They were actually scheduled to have their baptism on the 21st, but Daniel has to leave to work in Montevideo for the next couple months and he wanted to be baptized with his family! Sunday was the best day of my mission and the baptism was probably one of the most spiritual experiences of my life! They were baptized all together! Afterwards Luciana talked about how she was a new person and how she could feel a warm feeling in her heart (the Holy Ghost)! Daniel bore a powerful testimony that the Church is true and that he will serve in whatever capacity the Lord desires of him! They are a family with strong desires to serve the Lord!!! This last week we taught tithing to them.  I was a little worried about teaching this law to them, because they are really poor, but I really shouldn´t have worried! We taught
tithing and after the lesson, we committed them to live the Law of the Tithe. This was Luciana´s reply: ¨We give 10% to the Lord? That is nothing compared to what God has given us! I will live the Law of Tithing!¨ This describes this family perfectly! They are already planning to go to the temple for Christmas next year!

Funny stories of the week:

-I am still working on my Spanish...aka I accidentally insulted someone this week! She said ¨I´m from Pedrera¨ I then said ¨oh you are from Perrera¨ Whoops...Perrera happens to be a pound, you know...for animals!! She gave me the stink eye...I think she thought I was doing it for a joke! Oh well, every week is a learning experience!

-An investigator told me that prayer was like having WIFI with God (and yes she used the word WIFI)! She told me that her connection has been bad, but she is going to try and have a better more spiritual connection this week! Definitely the first time I have heard prayer likened to WIFI!!!

Well that is all I have time for this week,
Hasta La Vista,
Hermana McMurray

ps. We have the baptism of Cristina this Saturday! Wish us luck!!!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Us with one of the members called Jorge! He is a recent convert and has gone through a lot in his life! He is capo!!!

This is just too prove how hot it is here! Look at these wicked tan lines!

I have these horrible mosquito bites all over my entire body! Welcome to Rivera!
Dayane and us before her baptism!


Uruguayans Say The Darnest Things!

Dear Familia,
How is life? I love hearing from all of you every week! Here is the week in review:
The best and most important part of my week! We had our baptism of Dayane!!!! She was sooo excited! After she was baptized she had the opportunity to bare her testimony! She said that she was so excited and happy for the chance to be baptized! She said that for the first time in her life she feels complete peace, something she has been lacking! On Sunday after her confirmation, I looked at her and she was glowing! I swear her countenance had already changed to reflect the light of Christ that is now in her life!

We also got to teach a bunch of lessons to Family Valentti. Daniel (father), Luciana (mother), Ingrid (daughter), and Gael (son). Daniel, Luciana, and Ingrid have a baptismal date for the 21st of this months!  They are progressing like crazy! Daniel has created a huge mural on one of their walls of pictures of prophets, Jesus Christ, and other images!ç from the church! They are progressing more and more every week! They pray and read the Book of Mormon every day together! We are so excited to teach them, especially because they are always talking about going to the temple to be sealed for eternity!

The highlights of my week include: We tried to self-fumigate our apartment (which resulted in a mass exodus of cockroaches, spiders, and centipedes from every corner)! We crashed two birthday parties, by accident, on the same day! Hermana Mazzini lost her lenses and now is completely blind! Don´t worry I stopped her before she ran into any walls! I watched a 90 year old man (one of our investigators), with severe stomach pains, mount a bicycle and start biking up the side of a huge mountain!

My favorite quotes of the week:

-During Relief Society (a class of all women in our church) the teacher presented the title of the class, which was Joseph Smith. The class began to talk among themselves for about five minutes all about Joseph Smith. The teacher tried several times to reign the class back in, but was completely unsuccessful! Finally she interrupted one sister and said: ¨It is better to read, than it is to invent things!¨  Hermana Mazzini and I almost died in the back! ¡Baja la caña!

-I was explaining the image of Christ with the lamb (I always seem to have problems with this image...) to a family with five young kids.  The youngest asked me: ¨where is the mommy of the lamb?¨ To which I replied without thinking: ¨She is gone.¨ The little boy then said: ¨its mommy died, its mommy died, the little lamb is all alone.¨ At which point he started crying... Don´t worry he stopped eventually (after being bribed with cake)! Unfortunately my explanation did not
quite have the effect I was hoping for!

-We got invited an old less active lady to church. To which she replied: ¨You guys are people that just talk and never actually do anything. I am all about actions! When I need to come back to church, Jesus Christ himself will bring me back!¨ (Did I mention that she lives on the top of a mountain...just to get to her house is an enormous effort...Don´t worry I kept Hermana Mazzini from killing her!)

-I used my one line of portuguese (which happens to be I speak portuguese) on an old man this week. He responded : ¨You speak much better Portuguese than Spanish¨. After my companion tried her Portuguese, to which he responded ¨hers (me) is much better¨. The good news apparently I have an accent that is great in Portuguese. The bad news...I speak Spanish!

That is about it for my week! La Obra Va Bien! I love serving the Lord!
Hermana McMurray

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

What I ate for lunch in Brasil! This is one block out of Uruguay, but our waiter only spoke Portuguese...crazy, right?
I love the shirts in English here! They are always grammatically incorrect and have no real meaning...who writes these?
My brasilian treat!

Herbie and I! Did you know that after the movies, they retired him to Uruguay?!

It´s Christmas!!! Us with our Arbol de Navidad! Yes...the snowman present is homemade (tape, napkins, and a marker)! I made it special for Hermana Mazzini!

¡Serpiente en el Baño!

Dear Familia,

Ready for another crazy week....here we go!!!

We are going to have the baptism of Dayane (16 years old) this Saturday)! She is awesome, but it has been a slightly stressful week with her (due to an unexpected new boyfriend)! The good news is she has promised to live the Law of Chastity and she is trying to be careful! Everyday she tells us how much she wants to be baptized! It is truly amazing to see someone who has such strong desires to follow the Lord!  We also have five other people who have baptismal dates for the 21st of this month! One of the investigators is called Nelson! He told us this week that he found work, but that he was going to have to work all of the Sundays for the next while! We were feeling disappointed because it would be very hard for him to progress, without coming to church every week...until BAM our miracle of the week! He told us that he found out he cannot work there because of some rule...Now he can come to church every Sunday!!!! My companion says it is a direct answer to our prayers for him to progress!

So many funny things happened this week, that I will just try to talk about a few of them! My companion says that all of our funny stories come from visiting less active members (which we did a lot of this week)!
-I got told by an old man that I was cold and a spy!  The good news is that it isn´t just me...apparently all North Americans are cold and spies....I am not exactly sure what he meant by the first part, but I am not sure either were compliments ;). Afterwards, he told us he was
a polygamist with 7 wives and 14 children (two with each concubine...duh) and he invited us to come inside his house! My companion and I got out of there sooo fast....
-We had lunch with Elba Cocco! She is an old blind lady who speaks only Portuguese! So we were sitting at the table waiting for lunch (because she didn´t want us in her kitchen), and she comes out! It was probably one of the funny sites I have seen in my entire life! She had
put a electric blue beanie on the very tippy-top of her head, had a huge plate of empanadas in her hand, and an bright floral apron on...The good news is that the food was super good (probably the best empanadas I have ever had). The bad news....I realized we left an old blind lady in the kitchen with a huge pot of hot oil :)!
-We had a lesson with Elba Cocco earlier this week...she is one funny old lady! I was talking about the story of the 99 lambs and the one who was lost. I talked about how Christ always looks for that one! I then proceeded to tell her that she was that one lamb, that the Lord
loved sooo much! Her response: ¨I am a blind lamb without hair¨ I think the symbolism was a little lost on her....
-I was writing in my journal the other night, when I heard high pitched screaming from the bathroom! My companion was having a meltdown...she told me there was a snake in the bathroom! I went to look (obviously armed with the broom) and found...a centipede! It was actually pretty big, but I am pretty sure it isn´t considered a snake in any country! Neither of us wanted to kill it, so we shut the bathroom door and went to sleep! The next morning we couldn´t find it anywhere...I might get a slight kick out of pretending I find it everywhere!

That´s it for the week!

Hermana McMurray

Monday, November 25, 2013

Me with my Bishop from Barrio 3!
The fairly creative graffiti in Flores!

Us in Plaza Independencia!

Welcome to Brazil!!!


Hola Familia,

This last week has literally been insane! I left Montevideo and headed for the other side of Uruguay....Rivera! The funny thing is that I am still in the city... I guess the Lord really wants me to learn to love the city (unfortunately you guys raised me in the country...).
Everything is going great! It is spring here, but our average temperature is getting close to 100, along with extreme humidity! I actually have been enjoying the heat, since it has been more than a year since I had summer!

My companion Hermana Mazzini is awesome! She is from Peru! I think I must be a really good influence on her, because every day she now puts on sunscreen... she says that I make her feel like she is black (I think it is supposed to be a compliment :D)! She is a very loving
companion and together we have been working like crazy! My area (Barrio Central 1) is sooooo receptive! This last week we had 7 people with baptismal dates and 7 progressing investigators! It has been crazy, since before I didn´t teach almost any lessons at all! Now I am
teaching everything including the law of chastity and word of wisdom at least once every day! What has really been amazing to me is the love that I already feel for the people in Rivera! We have one investigator who is called Carmen! She is 19 and she is amazing! She knows that the church is true, but she cannot join because her ¨spouse¨ (because no one is married here) doesn´t want to get married, so she cannot be baptized! She has been progressing like crazy and she truly has desires to change.  We pray every day that her partner will
be receptive to our message!

Funny stories of the week:
-We were a little lost in our area and we were wandering down the road, when we passed a little old man. He looked at us and as he passed us he said: ¨Hola, Elderes¨ It turns out that about half of the people in our area, don´t know that we are Hermanas, so they all call us Elders... That is a first for me! 
-We have an infestation of ants in our apartment....it really isn't that funny! Actually the funny part is that I screamed because I stepped in a pile of them and our neighbors came rushing over. They asked us who was injured and or dying...whoops! I think they all think I am just some crazy gringa!
-Everyone..(more than 50% of the people we talk to) speak portuñol (Portuguese)! I cannot even believe it! I thought it was a joke, but I found out it isn´t. The other day we were giving a charla (lesson) and I asked Adimir (an investigator) a question. He started talking a ton, and he got all teary, and he finished and then he looked at me...and I looked at him....and he looked at me... I hadn´t understood a single word he had said! I am pretty sure he was speaking almost completely portuguese! 
-We went into Brazil!!!! It is soo crazy! When you cross the street it actually completely changes! Everything is in portuguese, everyone talks in portuguese, the cars are only Brazilian, they don´t have the same food....I thought since all you have to do is cross the street it would be basically the same, but it isn´t. I tried to talk to a handful of people, but none of them understood Spanish! Crazy, right???

That is about it for the week! I love you all!
Hermana McMurray

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Just another fun day at the beach! I love p-day!!!

The winner of the costume contest! Michelle....you really missed out!

Our costumes (dogs) and our favorite Martita!
Our Rockin´ Halloween Party (again)! Complete with homemade root beer!

More Zone Conference!

Us with President! Aren´t we pretty cool!

Our District!

Zone Conference! Flores!!!! La Zona de Los Frutos!