Friday, July 31, 2015

7-31-15 Brazil São Paulo South Mission

Dear Family of Sister Denton, 

Sister Denton has arrived safely in the São Paulo South Mission. I have had an opportunity to visit with her in a personal interview, and I am inspired by her missionary efforts thus far and know that she will make a great contribution to the work of the Lord here. We are so pleased to have her! Sister Broadbent and I love her already, and we appreciate her desire and preparation to serve the Lord. It will be a wonderful experience for us to work with her in this great missionary effort as the Lord hastens His work here in Brazil and throughout the world. We know that our Heavenly Father will bless her, as she is obedient and diligent.

Thank you for your willingness to share her with the people she is serving her in Brazil. May you feel peace and joy in her service.

I have attached two pictures: One of Sister Denton with my wife and me and another with her new companion, Sister Olmedo.

With our love,
President and Sister Broadbent

7-20-15 Bugs, Baptisms, and a 6:35 AM Phone Call

This week has been such a good week! Pretty much almost everything that has happened has gone according to plan. I'm just super happy and don't really know what else to say about that! Haha:)

So this week, Sister Skelton and I were preparing for forever for V's baptism. On Friday, we went to the church building to clean out the font and to make copies of the program. While in the font, Sister Skelton found a spider and a cricket that crawled up through the drains, so that was an exciting discovery! After killing the spider and the cricket, she and I went down to clean the font out in preparation for the baptism (partly because the font stinks and partly because the last baptism was in January, so it needed a bit of cleaning. So we went down and squirted soap everywhere and just scrubbed that thing until it was squeaky clean! (Then I took pictures....) Later that day, we had a training from President Tew that lasted pretty much 4 hours, so that was pretty long, but it was a really good training with lots of great suggestions for our work.
Font Selfie
On Saturday, there was a baptismal service for V! It was so great! I was so happy to see her get to that point. It was such a good baptismal service. Sister Skelton and I sang a musical number for V, and Sister Saintonge was able to come back, so she talked a little bit at the service as well. After the baptism, V got up and bore her testimony of the gospel, and it was so sweet and spiritual. She is such an example to me and to her family. I was so happy for her on Saturday. It was amazing. :)
L to R: Sister Saintonge, Sister Denton, V, Elder Gibson (Zone Leader), Sister Skelton

So probably the 2nd most exciting part of the week for me (besides V's baptism) happened on Wednesday morning. At 6:30, I woke up, got dressed and got ready to do our morning exercise (which is a zumba dvd. SUPER fun). As I was turning on the dvd, I heard the phone ringing. The first thought that came to mind was "Who in the WORLD is calling me at 6:35 in the morning?" I checked the caller ID and discovered it was President Tew. I answered the phone (quite sleepily I might add). The conversation is as follows:

Sis D: Hello, this is Sister Denton...?
Pres T: Hello Sister Denton, it's President Tew, how are you?
Sis D: I'm good....? How are you?
Pres T: I'm doing well. Have you heard anything from Salt Lake lately?
Sis D: No...?
Pres T: Well I have. Last night I was notified that you've received your visa to go to Brazil!
Sis D:............... When is my departure date?

So yeah, that's a good way to wake up a visa waiter! So I'll be leaving in a week to go to Brazil and pretty soon I'll be in Sao Paulo speaking Portuguese and eating rice and beans and living it up like a true Brazilian!

That's pretty much it for this week! Hope you all are doing well!

[Holly's mom: Sister Denton traveled on July 27th from Long Beach to Salt Lake City, then to Atlanta and then an overnight flight to São Paulo, arriving there at 6:30 am on July 28th]

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

7-13-15 Key Indicators, Bible Videos, and a Baptism

This has been one long hard week, just let me tell you! Haha!

I had a pineapple this week, and I ground the whole thing into a smoothie. LOVED it.
Sister Skelton and I have been hard at work this week, and it has just felt like one of the longest weeks of my LIFE! I don't even know why it was a long week, but it was just one of those weeks.

Now that my murmuring is out of the way....

Some good news: On Tuesday, V passed her baptism interview! Now we're paving the way to get her into the water. We've finally made it to the final stretch with her, and I couldn't be any happier about it! We've been working for quite a while to get her to the place she is today! After about 4 different baptismal dates, we've finally pinned one down, which will be this Saturday. Please just some prayers that I'll make it through this week! We're making final adjustments and preparations for the baptism, and all throughout this week we're having meetings, exchanges, and more meetings, so it'll take a miracle to make it through the week without going insane!

Today was pretty cool. There is a member in my ward here who played John the Beloved in the Bible Videos on You can see him in this video. He's the one without the beard. Anyways, today was cool because he came and told us about the filming of the Bible Videos and gave us behind the scenes footage and commentary about the making of the Bible Videos. He talked about his experiences and feelings as he was playing John the Beloved. He also shared stories from his own mission and how his testimony has grown throughout his life and everything. *It was a really cool experience.
This is a picture of me and Spencer Oberan (John the Beloved.)

This past week has been a long one, and I guess that's because I had a lot of days when we've only gotten a couple of things done. Each week, we work to accomplish certain goals (a new person to teach, receiving a referral for someone who might be interested, lessons taught to non members, lessons taught to less active members, and so on) and each day, we try to accomplish smaller versions of those goals. Throughout the week, we were only getting little bits and parts of our goals accomplished, and it made each day seem so long. However, at the end of the week, we totaled up our key indicators (the goals) and realized that we did a lot more work than we though we had. So that made the whole week a lot better. I was happy about that.

Anyways, Just pray that I remain sane this week. We'll see if that actually happens by next week! Haha:)

Thursday, July 9, 2015

7-6-15 People, Fireworks, and Water Gun Bandits

Hello all you Beautiful People!

How has your week been? Mine has been pretty great! Granted it's been a long one and I've been working super hard, but I feel great about it!

This week, we talked to a lot of people, mostly because in Huntington Beach there's a lot of people to talk to! Haha! We have been trying to build up our teaching pool because pretty soon our investigator, V, will be baptized and we'll need someone else to teach by that point. So we've been looking for a lot of referrals from members and people on the street. This is some pretty lengthy work when you think about it. From receiving a referral to contacting and teaching and baptizing can take months for one person! But the reward is great compared to the work that we put in. People ask all the time what our incentive is and why we're doing this. the simple answer is that we're all brothers and sisters, and God is our Father, and He wants each of us to return to live with Him after this life. Knowing that, I want to help everyone to be able to get there! I think about the scripture that says that "the worth of souls is great in the sight of God." My favorite part is at the end though because it says "How great shall be your joy if you should labor all your days and bring save it be one soul unto me." I can 100% agree with that. The opportunity to see someone come closer to Christ and Heavenly Father is such a great one and I love that I get to see that kind of thing every day.

So I've officially had the opportunity to experience the 4th of July in Huntington Beach, and it was CRAZY. All week as we talked to people we experienced a lot of hype concerning the 4th. Everybody had plans and the town was abuzz. On the 3rd however, everything was quiet. It was like the calm before the storm. Then the 4th came. People were out on their bikes headed to the beach and the sun was shining. My area is a huge tourist spot, so there were cars EVERYWHERE (especially in the tract that Sister Skelton and I wanted to work in that day) so we couldn't find parking ANYWHERE. We drove up and down the streets where we wanted to work (pretty slowly too, maybe 5mph due to all the bikers and partygoers) At one point, two men walked out and stopped our car, pulled out two water guns, and started squirting our car. That was probably the funniest thing. After that, we went home and parked and decided to walk to our appointments. We helped one guy fix his motor bike, I contacted a man in HORRIBLE heavy portuguese/spanish, and walked around a little suburb for a little while. We worked on foot for most of the day until dinner and then went to grab the car to work in the evening. On the way home, there were fireworks literally 3 stories above us (they're going to ruin the car nooooooooo) but it was fun.

Other than that, there's not much to tell. Anyways, I love you all and hope you have a great week! You're all amazing!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

6-29-15 New Investigators, Goals, and Hard Work

Hello Everybody! 

This week has been a long one, and it's a new transfer, so I don't have my planner to help me remember what happened this week, so my email might be unpredictable...

So it's been a pretty great week! We've been working hard here in Huntington Beach getting lots of stuff done. I was so happy last night when we totaled up our key indicators (basically the numbers of the work we did during the week) and realizing that we met and exceeded all of the goals we had made for the week! There's not much of a better feeling than being able to reach and exceed goals. 

Anyways, we've had a lot happen this week. V's baptism didn't happen on Tuesday, but we're still seeing her pretty much every day. We set a new date with her 3 weeks from now, and she's pretty serious about meeting that goal. We go over almost every day and we're reteaching her the lessons because she's not sure if she knows enough (even though we almost constantly reassure her that she does) and we just answer questions that she has. I hope that this time it will go through. Sometimes planning a baptism is so stressful. I'm glad I have an extra three weeks to plan it! :) 

So I'm going to have a little braggy moment for my companion. She is AWESOME. Sister Skelton is so sweet and loving for everybody, and she pretty much LOVES to talk to everyone. And when I say everyone, I mean EVERYONE. We'll just be walking down the street and I'll turn around and she's talking to someone new. Together, we've been able to get a lot of new investigators (maybe 8 or 9 this transfer? I can't remember...) Anyways, we've been working hard to catch these people back at home a couple of times. We've been able to keep teaching a new lady named K who's super sweet and inviting. We're pretty glad that we've found her, especially since we're about to get V baptized, we'll need new people to teach!! 

I'm just pretty glad to be in California right now. There's lots of good stuff happening here. Sister Skelton and I are working hard and teaching people. Sorry about the short email, there was just a lot of work to do this week! 
Zone pictures never turn out well. Someone is always moving or making a face. Anyways, Sister Skelton (who is Samoan) gave me the skirt that I'm wearing. It's called a lava lava. All of the elders fight over who's going to get one from her, but she just loves me so much and gave me one. hahaha :)
[Holly's mom: interesting note: Sister Skelton is Samoan, but in another email, Holly mentioned that she is from Australia. Sister Skelton was called to serve in California, but she actually had to visa wait in Australia for three months before coming to California. It's like Holly's situation, only in reverse!]
The staple meal of this week for Sister Denton: Minute Rice and Chicken Nuggets. Yum.
[Holly's mom: We seem to be getting a weekly food highlight. I guess she's just impressed with her own cooking. Her cousin, Elder Donald does the same thing though. Last week he told about making rice that was too watery, so they added flour to thicken it. Yuck!]
Love you all! Hope you all have an amazing week!

6-22-15 ET's, Baptism Probs, and A Vegemite Sandwich

Hello All of you BEAUTIFUL People!
So I've been told that I've been sounding depressed in my last few letters, so I would like to say 2 things. 1) I'm not a very enthusiastic typist when I write, and I'm not skilled in sounding peppy all the time and 2) Sometimes I only have a little bit of time to email, so I don't have time for said peppiness. Nevertheless, I will try to sound less depressed in my letter this week, although most of the events of the week were pretty devastating in missionary life. 

As you can tell from the subject line, there's been a few difficulties this week. On Wednesday, right after weekly planning, Sister Saintonge and I got a call from one of the assistants to the President informing us that there was an emergency transfer coming up. Sister Saintonge was getting transferred out of my area and I would be receiving a new companion on Friday morning. So that was pretty big and surprising news. As a missionary, you really expect that kind of stuff, but definitely not a week before transfers. I was completely blown away and a little bit devastated. So we spent the next two days getting Sister Saintonge packed up and moved out and seeing all the people from the ward. There were a few tears and a lot of grumbling in the process, but in the end, everything turned out fine.

On Saturday, my companion and I went to one of the baptisms in the stake for a lady who was taught by some other sisters. She was so sweet (and side note, she's Brazilian!) and the baptismal service was beautiful. She had to get dunked a couple of times before it happened right because the water was a little shallow, but we were able to get through it. Before she was baptized a few sisters in the zone, including myself, sang a song for her and at the end of the service, she got up herself and bore her testimony about her conversion and everything. She really is amazing. After the service, I got to talk to her and a member of the ward for like, 10 minutes in Portuguese. It was so funny because they were just going back and forth about how I speak Portugal Portuguese and how funny I talk. Sister N (the member) called me irmazinha (little sister) and Sister S (the investigator) called me linda americana (Pretty little American) I was cracking up the entire time!
Me and Sister S
Unfortunately, we will not be having our anticipated baptism this week. V hasn't been doing too well lately, and she didn't show up to either her interview or church on Sunday. So that baptism is going to be postponed until we figure out what's wrong and what we can do to help her out. Lots of prayers would be greatly appreciated for her until we can help her out more. 

So my new companion's name is Sister Skelton. She is so sweet and funny and she's from Brisbane Australia. I've only been with her 4 days, so I don't know much about her, but she's a great companion. 
Me and Sister Skelton
[Holly's Mom: I received this photo via text message from Sister Wood, a member from Holliday UT who had just moved to Huntington Beach. I love missionary moms who send me photos spontaneously. They get it!]
She's so good at finding and talking to people so I pretty much sit back until I figure out a good time to pipe in about saying a prayer or getting a return appointment. We've got a lot of new people to go through this week, so lots of prayers would be nice that we don't get lost (because neither of us know the area) and that we can work more with these people that we've found. Anyways, she's pretty great. Last night, she made me try an Australian snack known as a vegemite sandwich. Apparently, she makes all of her companions try one of these. She makes it using a vegemite spread, butter, and cheese all on top of a piece of toast. I tried it, but I did not like it very much. She just laughed and laughed because I kept on picking it up and then setting it back down and scooting the plate around, hahaha. All's well though! 
My vegemite sandwich late last night
Me and my new companion at a zone activity this morning
Sisters will be Elders! Last week, the sisters in the zone decided we always feel left out in zone meetings because we're the only colorful ones amongst all of the white shirted elders, so we kind of coordinated a little bit before zone meeting

I hope everyone is doing well and that you have a great week!

6-15-15 Security, Missionary Rap, and a Quesadilla Waffle

Not much has happened this week, and I've used most of my email time, but I'll try to make this a quality email! I can't remember so much as to the day-to-day events that have happened, but I'll just share what sticks out most in my mind of this week. 

(Security) This week, my companion and I have been trying to work through the directory for our local congregation to get some information for the ward leaders about members who've been missing church lately. One of these members live in a super guarded community near the ocean, and we've been trying to go visit her for a while with absolutely NO success. There's no way to get in or out, hahaha. So a couple of days ago, we were walking by again and noticed a car going in, and we were able to follow it in and get to the member's apartment. She was so surprised and kept asking us "How did you get in? How did you find me?" So we're pretty much secret agents with a knack to get to places we want to go!

This week has been one that is super frustrating, but one that has taught me the value of patience. On several occasions, we weren't able to meet with our investigator V, because she's been working super hard to make money and get a job since she's recently been laid off. After making several appointments that just flat out fell through, we were able to meet with her yesterday and really impress the importance of doing the things we're asking of her. The Spirit was so strong in her living room as we told her of the importance of reading the Book of Mormon before she gets baptized. I feel as if before it was kind of a less-prioritized thing, but when we were there explaining that to her, she was able to understand that it is a testament of Jesus Christ and that it will help her grow closer to Him before she's baptized. She's now on track to be baptized on June 23rd and she'll be an official member on the 28th. She is really excited about it, and so am I! I can't wait to see how the gospel will continue to bless her life!

To finish, I guess I'll explain the rest of the subject line. In our zone, we really enjoy sharing our music since there's only so much we can listen to. This week, as we were listening to a new playlist that another Sister gave to us, we discovered a rap song that someone made up about missionary life. Sister Saintonge and I are working on perfecting it in preparation for any upcoming rap battles.

As missionaries, we don't have many amenities, including quesadilla irons, so we really have to improvise. This week, I used a waffle iron to make myself a quesadilla after church. It looked really interesting, but it still tasted like a quesadilla! 
My quesadilla waffle

My companion and I found a rubber chicken stuck to a tree this week.
Strange things here in Cali. Strange things.

So I hope everyone has a great week! I know that Jesus loves each one of you so much (and that I love you too!) 

6-8-15 Meetings, Hunger Games, and Brazilian Bites

Hey Everyone! How's life?

Things are pretty good here in Huntington Beach! This week feels like it's been the longest week ever, but I guess that's due to the fact that we've had three different meetings on three different days and that P Day was on Tuesday last week. That'll do it to mess up a missionary's week! Haha! Anyways, due to the sheer amount of meetings, not much has happened this week, but it's still been a good one.

On Tuesday our first "meeting" or the time that we saw the whole zone was at the Temple to do an early morning session there. That was nice to be able to go back there and visit the temple, but I talked about that a lot on Tuesday, so enough of that.

Wednesday, our second meeting was our Zone Meeting for the week, and we talked a whole lot of business and stuff, which is fun still, because it is run strictly by us, the young missionaries. I'd like someone to find another kind of organization where young adults ages 18-25 voluntarily do service, conduct meetings, and make work schedules. All independently, all without older adult supervision or incentives. It just doesn't happen. Anyways, we spent that meeting discussing how we can improve our area because truth be told, it's a tough one. We also talked a lot about how we can improve our teaching methods and finding people and such. Just a day in the life of a missionary.

Thursday was a huge zone conference with President and Sister Tew. We talked a lot about how to teach about the Restoration of the Church of Christ and how to teach it with power so that we're able to teach it on less that 30 minutes. It was a really good training by President Tew because he's a REALLY good teacher. My mind is blown every time that I hear him teach.

On Saturday, I was kind of bummed out because Saturdays are pretty awful in our area. We usually don't have anyone to teach regularly on Saturdays, so we just go around contacting less-active members of the church and people who've showed potential interest in the church in the past. But, this Saturday was truly an answered prayer from Heavenly Father when we were able to teach two less-actives and visit with members of the ward. I was so happy because we stayed relatively busy all night long.

Today has been a lot of fun so far. Our zone, in an effort to become more unified, has decided to start playing games in the mornings on Mondays. today, we all came to the church building and played Hunger Games in the cultural hall. We set up a whole bunch of tables on their sides along with those fake trees that are usually in church foyers. Then we set up a whole bunch of nerf guns in the middle of the cultural hall and split into teams. After that, we turned out the lights, except for a few, and had some pretty awesome Hunger Games fights. We played about 4-5 rounds of this, building strategy and stealth, but most importantly, teamwork. It was so much fun. So we spent a few hours just doing that and letting off some steam. Afterwards, Sister Saintonge and I went down to main street by the beach to go get some lunch. We found this little street vendor selling Brazilian food, and I was like, "Heck yeah! Brazilian food! Let's do it!" So we went to get some coxinha (chicken, cream cheese, and mashed potatoes all fried up), empadinhas (Brazilian chicken pot pie), kibes (same as coxinha, but with beef), cheese bread, and Guarana Antarctica. (My MTC district can correct me if I got any of that wrong, since most of them are there anyways.) So that was pretty exciting.

Anyways, it's been another great week for Sister Denton! How about you? What's life like out in the world?

Have a great week!!