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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Still Loving Newport! (01/26/2015)

Hi Mom!
Yes, I am liking the ocean more but it still makes me nervous. The ocean is nice just to take pictures of and walk on the beach, but definitely not going in it now or in the future unless on a boat (but not as a missionary) :) It's pretty to look at, but not to touch because of obvious reasons like getting 'eaten' :)
We do "walk week" or "walk day" stuff to contact more people on the streets, and to be seen and save on gas and miles. We usually have certain people we are seeing each day who are in specific areas, so we plan finding places and times for walking/tracting based on our appointments. We don't do much tracting (walking) at all since many people here know LDS members and they kind of just ask us questions. Plus, we do a lot of service so  they come to us and members are a bit helpful in the finding too. We do have a good size teaching pool, but we are trying to find more people since we baptized the ones we had in our teaching pool. We also do a good amount of work with 'less active' members, but that's typical. There are some great people out here. I absolutely LOVE the area and the Newport Ward!
The Hatfield Marine Science Center was fun. We built houses out of Legos and sent tsunamis after them. Mine totally stayed standing! Yay me, maybe I have a future as an architect... HA yeah right :)
A gingerbread lighthouse and ocean!!
The college placement test went pretty well. I did well on 2 out of the 3 sections - Sentence structure and Reading comprehension were great, but the math was ... sydu5sdlf7dfkui#@*!!!. It took me about 2 and a half hours to take and then we did lunch. We went to this small cafe that gets a rating of "meh ok". But THEN!!! We went to this place across the street called Sweet and it had this huge counter and on the far left was tons of chocolates and in the center was cookies and fudge and then the last two sections of counter had ice cream!!! I got a Red Velvet truffle and a Raspberry Velvet truffle and some ice cream (one scoop cake batter and the other marionberry pie). Super delicious :D. That ice cream was super good and it did indeed have small pie chunks in it :) I was going to get some fudge but Sister Chalfant got a whole pound of it of various flavors so I didn't want to go over board. Sugar high week is coming!! 
Yay free time at lunch! #missionfun. I built the Medford Temple and Portland Temple out of Pass-Along cards and turned into a 'bridge' because I'm clumsy and the top fell down. They were built on a 'sure foundation' - my study journal filled with notes from all scriptures, the life of Christ, General Conference, Stake Conference and Hang Man ;)
A member treated us to breakfast at La Mason, a French restaurant. I had the traditional Eggs Benedict, my new fave, and our breakfast came with an appetizer of bananas and cream with brown sugar on top. It was delicious!
Minute To Win It is a game show and we are doing a smaller version of it for a fun Ward activity this Saturday.
It is Sister Burrell that cooks and plays the ukelele. She is a 'ginger' and gingers can do anything :)
The (National College Championship) football game was an atrocity. I am 'hurting' for The (Oregon) Ducks - they played so bad. Bro Phillips and Elder Deal (senior missionary) explained football things to me so I knew enough what was going on. It was entertaining, but also sad to watch....poor "Ducks".
We were given permission to watch a local production of the play "Shrek" since 22 of the 65 people in the cast are LDS members and are in the Newport Ward :) But, unfortunately, we didn't have an investigator to go with us, so we couldn't attend the play. However, the Director of the play (who is LDS) recorded it, so she might give us a copy for after our missions ;D Next year we think the play will be The Little Mermaid and we all want to come back for that.
This is a funny sign that we passed while out walking. Super great restaurant that we will go to when I come back to visit, since it is more pricey than my missionary budget will allow. Of course that's only if you would come to Newport with me after my mission :)
Love you bunches of baby elephants!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Serving in a Threesome is Awesome! (01/19/2015)

Holo Madre!
It is very windy here! We've had tons of wind and rain on and off over the weekend. It's finally super nice today in the 60's with a light breeze :) We are planning on going to the Hatfield Marine Science Center today with our Ward Mission Leader and his family. They are super awesome! We have frequent correlation meetings with him and always keep each other informed and updated on new people coming into the ward or needing any kind of assistance spiritual, temporal or otherwise. He gets the "Fantastic Ward Mission Leader" award. 
I have other pics I can send you too about where I live which is basically right next to the ocean. Every time we see the ocean we want to go down and write the Plan of Salvation in the sand. We are relatively close to the church building, just 5 or 7 minutes depending on traffic and tiwi :).
One of our tools for teaching the restoration through a tower that gets knocked down when the Priesthood gets taken away.
We have a record number of missionaries in the ward of 3 Sisters, 2 Elders (Blackwelder DL and Heaton) and a Senior Missionary couple (the Deals)! It's super nice having Senior missionary couples in the Ward to help us out. Let the Branch back home know that a Senior Mission is like you are on vacation with the Lord. The rules of regular missionaries have no ground with Senior couples. They can very nearly do whatever they wish as long as they are helping the Ward and Missionaries where they are stationed. We love our Senior Missionaries!
It is so much more fun as a trio that's for sure and I think that we can get more things done and there isn't as many awkward moments in proselyting and dinners. There is always something to talk about, sing about or reflect on together. Teaching is a bit more of a balancing act but it always goes well since the Spirit is the guide and teacher.
We have a food pantry that we volunteer at in this area as well. And since all the missionaries come to serve at the food pantry at the same time, we get tons of things done and then the boss has to think up more things for us to do. She is astonished at how much work we get done and we love doing it. We're not just a whistle while you work crowd, but one that talks and laughs together and swaps crazy missionary stories and spiritual studies as well. I'm sure that sometimes she has no idea what we are talking about and finds us strange but we can definitely see her feeling the Spirit and being more happy whenever we are over. We go every week for a couple of hours and it's so fun. Though instead of grabbing the food and giving it out to people like in Central Point we are sorting all the food and stocking the shelves... hmmm, it sounds vaguely familiar if only it was soap and candles...hehehe ;)
No activities Ward or Relief Society activities yet, but we are preparing one for Jan 31st, a Minute to Win It game night. Everyone is super excited about it and hopefully we have a ton of people coming. There might be some rootbeer floats too :)
Oh my goodness.....such silly people. Everybody keeps asking me that question. It's just a pretty ribbon! :( We were helping a member wrap her presents for Christmas and she said I could keep the bow. So, not to lose it I put it on my tag. It shiney. Me likey. Me takey :)
Here is a song we've been singing to people as a trio. I mean we have a ukelele, so why not?
Love you bunches!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Seals and Whales and the Pacific Ocean, Oh My! (01/12/2015)

Holo Madre!
I am really loving my new area! It is beautiful and the people here are amazing!
The Newport Ward covers a couple places so it's rather large. The cities/towns of Toledo, Newport, Depoe and Siletz is the area I cover right now. Depoe Bay is by far the prettiest and combined with Newport has just tons of seafood and other places to see and visit. Love it here! Though I'm still convinced that the ocean is going to eat me. Seriously, it is way too huge for my comfort and if a tsunami comes we are totally soaked toast. We can see the ocean from our apartment and it only takes one minute to get there by foot. But since we are so close we get tons of great pics :)  Ok, here are some great photos of me at Depoe Bay!  
Sister Duenas at the Whale Statue at the sea wall in Depoe Bay, Oregon
Depoe Bay is the whale watching capital of the Oregon Coast because it is 'home' to a pod of gray whales for 10 months of the year. It is also the smallest navigable harbor in the world apparently. Here is a continuation of sunset pics at Depoe Bay. So so pretty.

Sunset at Depoe Bay
We had nothing to do on New Year's Day (turned into a p-day by President), so we went to to the bayfront. If you ever want a good dish of fish n chips DON'T go to Sail Inn Cafe...'tis gross - the fish tasted like rubber and was super bland and no juice, bleh! 
Go to Mo's restaurant instead, it's owned by members of the church and it has awesome seafood and clam chowder :) After eating there we went to peruse the gift shops where I got some cool knick-knacks to remember Newport. Newport is very tourist-y, but there aren't very many tourists here yet until the summer, since school is still in. I'm grateful I'll be leaving right as it gets crazy :) 
Yep, New year's Day was the day of 'evil' tights incident that hurt my back. My back is much better now. There's just a bit of leftover soreness, but it doesn't hurt anymore thank goodness. I got a new pillow to celebrate :)
Seals and the docks at Newport. 
There is more ocean than houses and stuff in Depoe since it's a small place. Just look at the pictures! It is obviously more pretty. I've had seafood 4 times so far ;) LOVE IT!!!!
The first pic is Newport and the second is Depoe Bay.
Newport, Oregon
Depoe Bay, Oregon
My companions (Sis Chalfant and Sis Burrell) are pretty wonderful. Sister Burrell is another "ginger" friend and she loves Doctor Who and Star Trek and other nerdy things just like me. But tell Katie not to worry because Sis Burrell doesn't know much about anything Jane Austen or whatever, so Katie is still my favorite ginger ;)
Sisters Chalfant, Duenas, Burrell
We have been given permission to watch the (2015 National Football Championship - College Football Playoff Game) football game between Oregon University (the"Ducks") and Ohio State (the "Buckeyes"). Though I know very nearly nothing about football I'm still going to watch and just cheer and boo when everyone else does, that or eat chips :)
It's funny every time I tell someone I don't understand football they say "oh don't worry I'll explain it to you!" and then the game starts and they completely forget about their poor  uninformed friend. Maybe this time I'll understand since I'll be with the Ward Mission Leader's family and the senior couple. Older people love explaining things :)
Love you bunches!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Goodbye Klamath Falls, Hello Newport! (01/05/2015)

Hi Mom,
Yeah, so I am no longer in Klamath Falls. So, I had a pretty cool companion and was super excited to serve there, but alas 'twasn't in the program. I got to Klamath Falls last Monday afternoon, helped my companion pack her stuff all night, got up and cleaned the apartment, put stuff back in the car, and drove back to the Mission Home in Eugene through the snowy mountain pass. We got to Eugene around 1pm. I was reassigned to Newport and will be in a threesome for the rest of this transfer. Newport is a city on the Oregon coast. Left for Newport at 2:30'ish, picked up some extra stuff (bed and table for me) and got to Newport at almost 6pm...'twas a long day.
Sorry I only got one picture from Klamath Falls, but I wasn't even there a whole day/24 hours. Though, I did get to meet the Bishop and his family :) He and his family are very nice, and he is from PA, so it was cool to talk to more East Coast'ers.
Sister Duenas and Sister Bonetti (Klamath Falls, OR)
Don't worry, I am staying nice and warm. At the end of this transfer I'll be sending more boxes home, since it'll be warmer come February and March out here. Oregon is NOT like New York holding on to its' winter through 'til April.
I absolutely love my new companions (Sisters Chalfant and Burrell). I am in one ward (not two) again, but it feels like there are so many people here, even though it's the smallest ward I've been in so far. My first Sunday here in the Newport Ward was super nice, especially since it was Fast and Testimony Meeting. They had me give the closing prayer since I'm new to the ward.
So, my back injury incident...I was finishing up packing my things last Monday, and as I bent down, and not lifting or moving anything, I got up and something in my back went kind of "snap twisty". I said 'ow' and just didn't slouch anymore for the next couple of days. It hurt, but it was manageable pain....and then the evil tights incident happened :(  grrrrrr    I decided to wear tights one day, even though I knew I couldn't bend very well, because it was going to be cooler that day, so I needed tights. As I was attempting to manage the tights, my back screamed in protest and I heard a very loud evil "POP". I rested for a few minutes, then get down on my knees to pray.....another discovery, Kneeling = mucho pain. We got some numbers of LDS Doctors in the area, but they are all on vacation...HAPPY NEW YEAR!! :) So, we went to a walk-in clinic and got to sit and wait in very 'nice' wooden chairs (ouch!). The doctor prescribed some pain killers, and they help, but they make my brain fuzzy and that's not good, since my brain is already weird anyways...hahaha. Between the meds, the bag of frozen corn and the heating pad, the pain is easing up. Don't worry, I got a Priesthood blessing on Saturday.
Articles of Faith (Klamath Falls)
On a happy note, I do like Newport. 
Though I truly believe that the ocean is going to eat us all, since it's just ridiculously huge :)
Love you bunches of baby elephants!

<Mom Note:  We received an update from the Mission President's wife on January 7th about Sister Duenas' back injury. The pain is lessening and Sister Duenas will be fine, but has to be careful with her back, no lifting things that are too heavy and take short breaks if driving long distances and use a lumbar support for her back where possible.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Transferred to Klamath Falls - YAY for SNOW!!!!! (12/29/2014)

We had a wonderful video-chat with Sister Kiana Duenas on Christmas Day! 
Sister Duenas was surprised and super happy to see so many family members on the call.
Sister Duenas sends her love to all her family and friends back home.
She loved her Christmas presents and stocking (Well, all except for the adorable pencil skirts her Mom tried to sneak in there. It was worth a shot, but Sister Duenas says NO...hahaha :)
Sister Duenas' presents under her beautiful white Christmas Tree made for her by her Gma Beach
Christmas morning with her Missionary District back in Central Point, Oregon.
Sister Hall, Sister Duenas, Elder Galloway, Elder Tonini, ElderPorter, and Elder Segrera
Holo Madre!
I'm off to Klamath Falls 3rd Ward. Sending two big boxes home too. Good thing you sent me warm things, there is snow and ice in K Falls. I am so excited to have snow!!! This might very well be my last area too.
Klamath Falls is a nice place so far of what I've seen? I am not training again, my new companion (Sister Bonetti) has been out a little less than a year. She is absolutely wonderful and we are getting along great so far. My comp is from PA!! YAY, EAST COASTERS!!
I was super close on time (getting packed for the transfer) so I wasn't able to grab a couple of things that I'll send later. The Christmas stuff that I want to keep and the 9x13 pan which still had brownies in it so they will send it to me once they are eaten :)
I don't know if I'll be driving or not but I'll let you know :) and don't worry, I'll be careful. 
We are just 30 miles from Crater Lake actually so I definitely plan on grabbing a member to take us. And, thankfully, I am just in one ward now :)
(For our Christmas goals when I was back in Central Point), There aren't really any homeless people in Central Point who we could find and give a Goodie Bag to, but I hope that the Sisters there will continue to look. 
I don't even remember when I lost my blue hat. I just remember one day I was looking for it and when I couldn't find it and I realized that I hadn't seen it in a long while. It's probably at a member's house or on a homeless persons head by now :( That red hat you made is super nice! Hope will love it, especially since it's similar to Donna's Dad's hat on Doctor Who.
Klamath Falls, Oregon - Sister Duenas is SUPER EXCITED to be in a beautiful, cold, snowy area. Klamath Falls should feel just like home for her :)
Love you bunches of baby elephants!