take courage for the hard things

hola mi familia!

Not much time to relay the last two days here, but just wanted to let you know that I am alive in Merida! My companion is Hermana Martinez from Guatemala — everyone has been telling me that she is the best of the best, and that I am super lucky. I have found this to be absolutely true. She is full of kindness and is an incredible teacher. We taught three lessons last night after orientation was finished (aka, she taught and I testified when I could), and we have four lessons lined up for tonight. It is hard to not feel inadequate, especially when I want to be like her and teach like her but have no idea how to do that in this language, but I am slowly learning to have courage for the small and hard things in life. We are in Mulsay, a town just twenty minutes outside of Merida--we get to go to church in the most beautiful white chapel that is right by the mission home and the temple.It is absolutely beautiful here,and I wouldn't be surprised if by the end of this all, I will want to stay forever. That being said, prayers are always appreciated because they can only add to the hope of courage. I love you and will try to write more and send photos next week (my P Day will be on Mondays).

Love you love you


1. my beautiful hermanas last P-day (Hna. Messenger has a leaf in her hair in attempt to channel Pocahantas)

2. travel plansssss (feat. Elder Evans)

3. some elders in our zone striking a pose worthy of an album cover

4. I may or may not have killed our plant Esperanza. We're hoping it's not an omen of what is to come in Mexico....

40 days and 40 nights

Sunday pics with some of my most favorite friends (have I mentioned how much I love Hna. Wells?
Because she is beauty and grace and basically perfect).
hola mi familia amorosa,

This last week here at the MTC has been absolutely filled with the best seven days yet. Our last few days together have been the greatest gift, and I will cherish them always because of these few things: 

1) since our District has now been here for five weeks, the elders have come up with ways to better entertain themselves during gym time — which means they have taken to holding horseshoe competitions on the field. As boring as that may sound, these competitions can become quite heated (trash talking included), and have become the highlight of most of our days here. 

2) I don't know if I mentioned this before, but Hna. Cook is literally a professional violinist, and so this week our District talked her into giving us a private concert. We all gathered together in our small classroom as she played songs upon request (from hymns to movie soundtracks, which included a favorite LOTR rendition). This moment has become one of my most favorite memories here, made even better when missionaries from other classrooms began congregating into our room after hearing her music fill the hallways. She ended her awe-inspiring with "Nearer My God to Thee," while all the elders softly sang along. It made me cry, made me cry. 

3) Yesterday during our weekly time set apart to clean our classroom, our beloved Esperanza took a tumble off the window shelf. I may or may not have been the cause of her death. But let it be known that this was all accidental and not intentional. 

4) Elder Calmes has a gigantic bag of Peanut Butter M&Ms, which I might have stolen and taken for myself because I'm trying to eat all the peanut butter I can before Mexico. 

5) We have a new District of elders, and one of them looks like he could either be a member of the Beatles or the Jonas Brothers (also his name is Elder Jonas. How perfect is that?).

The best and greatest memory from this week, however, was from this Tuesday during TRC. TRC is usually a time for us to practice teaching members of the Church, and this week we were looking forward to our long-awaited and never fulfilled Skype lesson. With five minutes notice, we learned that we would be teaching a brother and sister from Columbia — the sister is a member, and her brother is taking discussions with the elders there. With no time to have fear or really even plan, we began teaching these real people living in a real far-off place about Jesus Christ and His Atonement. Oh my, it was my most favorite experience yet. Even though we couldn't understand everything, we were able to bear testimony of Jesus Christ as our Redeemer and Healer. Testifying of Jesus Christ has come to be what I look forward to saying every single lesson, every day. How lucky I am to be able to testify of His goodness and grace every single day here, every single day in Mexico, and every single day in my heart ever after. Alejandra and David (the brother and sister we taught), reminded me why every hard day or hard feeling as a missionary will always be worth it — because people will always be worth it, and their hearts and souls will always be worth it. If every lesson and moment could be like this one, then I'm embarking on the happiest seventeen months of my life. 

During my personal study yesterday, I read a scripture in Alma that I think perfectly describes what has happened to me during these past (almost) forty days as a missionary, and what I hope will happen to the people of Merida who have believing blood and honest hearts. It says: 

"Behold, he changed their hearts; yea, he awakened them out of a deep sleep, and they awoke unto God. Behold, they were in the midst of darkness; nevertheless, their souls were illuminated by the light of the everlasting word..."  —ALMA 5:7 

I love the concept of awakening to God, and have come to think that one of the most important things I will be doing in Mexico is bringing people to a remembrance of their Father and His Son--because everyone has known God and can know Him again. I cannot wait to illuminate their hearts to the truth through the everlasting word of this good Gospel, because FOUR DAYS MORE and I will have the privilege of doing just that. 

I love you I love you and can't wait to talk to you soon! Thank you for all the emails that build me up and fill my soul with happiness, because you are all my foundation and my joy. 

with all my love,


hola hola,

This week passed by in a second — a strange nature of time that I fear will prove true for my whole mission. Because guess what? WE LEAVE IN TEN DAYS. What. It is a weird mixture of anticipation and excitement and fear when thinking that I will soon be in the land of the Yucatan. However, we have all decided that we are ready to leave this little haven of ours for the real world, because the thought of leaving has become almost more terrifying than the thought of staying here forever — which means we have been here long enough. While my heart is already beginning to miss these people who will no longer be mine every minute of every hour and day, there is no greater joy than thinking about those people in Merida and the fact that I will soon know them. 

Due to this glorious fall weather, our teachers let us teach a few lessons outside, which made me so happy. We also participated in a trust exercise with our companions, which involved directing each other around the MTC (in Spanish) with our eyes were closed. It was hilarious and fun and I love my companions so, so much. Hermana Wilson and I taught a new investigator, Olga, this week (note: we're pretty sure that two of the three people we've taught for TRC are all real investigators — as in, they're not members of the Church volunteering to act as investigators. We think this is pretty exciting and also a little intimidating). Olga is atheist, which meant we had to start with the basics. In all honesty, the basics are my favorite things to teach. We taught her about God and the nature of Him as our Father — a topic that has long become my favorite to teach (partly because the Spanish comes easily for me in these lessons, and partly because the Spirit is always fully present when I talk about my Father in heaven). I am trying to become better at listening, both with my investigators and the Spirit. Listening to Olga was slightly sobering, because she has been searching for something more in her life and still doesn't know where to find it. I can't imagine feeling like something was always missing from my being and my soul, and so we're trying to fill her missing pieces and cracked emotions with the healing and wholeness of the Gospel. We love her and are excited to teach her. 

Anyways, for some reason I am having a hard time recalling/recounting everything that has occurred within these past seven days. I do know they were ones of happiness and humility and hope, which the Gospel and good people seem to always bring. We'll be receiving our travel plans tomorrow, so I will let you know the details/when I can call you from the airport!

mucho amor,


1. Our elders in the midst of telling their life stories.
2. All the sisters with the Branch President + his wife.
3. All the missionaries going to the temple.
4. Channeling dad's rock stacking skills with all our study material.
5. New classroom selfie with mi companera.

On Humility and Endurance, Among Other Things

Our District at the Provo Temple
My dear family,

Turns out the best way to progress in the Christlike quality of humility is by spending a full two weeks in the MTC. While these past seven days were filled with just as much joy and goodness as the last, they were also coupled alongside slight and fleeting moments of frustration, as well as awakenings to the fact that one cannot do this mission thing alone. Realizing this has given me greater insight on the following:

Humility and Endurance: I have learned to be prepared to be humbled every single day here. I think the only way one can survive and thrive as a missionary is by realizing that this work is not one's own, but rather God's. This realization came to me after a particularly hard lesson, because turns out it is actually a little difficult trying to teach someone in a different language that they are fluent in, but you are not. Hermana Wilson and I taught a progressing investigator named Raul (note: I only teach with Hermana Wilson, because Hermana Wells is in the intermediate Spanish class, and so we are only with her in-between and after classes). Raul is from Ecuador and shows no mercy in how fast he speaks. Literally I couldn't even see his mouth moving because he was talking so fast. After this particular lesson, my heart was feeling a little overwhelmed. It was then, however, that I realized that moments of humility can either diminish you or add to you, and that one has the choice. In these minutes in time, it can often be hard to make that choice to build on humility to become better even after your whole self seems to be slowly fading away. I think that choice goes right alongside our commitment to endure to the end. Our Branch President gives us topics to study each week, and this week it just happened to be on enduring to the end. As I was thinking about this principle, I came to realize that our greatest example of this type of endurance rests in the very life and purpose of Jesus Christ. He is the ultimate exemplar of one who endured when it was hard, who loved when it wasn't easy, and who continues to endure so that we might live and grown and learn to endure as well. After realizing this, the small moments and feelings of failure don't seem so bad, because since Christ endured, we all can endure too.

Among other things: I realized this week that in my first email, I failed to mention my teachers — a travesty in and of itself because they are the greatest. Hermana Iroz has been our teacher from the beginning. She is the absolute cutest, and we have grown to love her even more with each passing day. Yesterday during our three hour night class, she let us have a small race outside and down our building's stairs. I'm sure anyone observing us would have thought we had not seen the light of day in months. She served her mission in Chile and as a result has a slightly slurred accent, which means I have started to slur any words containing an s. For example: super bueno is now said as shuper bueno. I'm hoping to kick that habit by the time I'm out of here. Our newest teacher, Hermano Bush, is my absolute favorite. He is the epitome of kindness and has the face and disposition of someone belonging to the best storybook. He served his mission in Peru, and just recently returned from his honeymoon in Mérida. We love love love him.

Our elders have come up with creative ways to fill the short and rare periods of downtime that we have here, one of my favorites being the creation of our life stories and futures after the mission. Apparently they have concocted stories for everyone in our District, each of which come together and connect at our 40 year mission reunion. They have also started the trend of shortening phrases in Spanish, which I appreciate based on the fact that I do that daily with English phrases (i.e. totes adorbs), and which my companions have started saying as well — I think I have been a bad influence on them in this respect. Our favorite shortened phrase: Mi tambien (me too) = mi tam. We're hoping other missionaries here will pick up on this trend, too. For some reason, everyone was also really excited to learn that my first name is Naomi. One elder was particularly excited upon learning this, and every day goes as far in saying that everything I wear and everything I eat and everything I say is "so Naomi." I would take this as a compliment, except he is also the one who views me as some flower-child due to my vegetarianism and smiling disposition. Este bien.

Since moving to Main Campus, we have been trying to stay positive and come up with some perks of being here that we didn't have at West Campus. We have come up with two so far: 1) the food here is in more abundant supply and variety, despite the fact that half our elders got food poisoning on Tuesday (moral of the story: don't ever eat the salmon soup). 2) Spanish doesn't seem too hard anymore after seeing other name tags of missionaries going to Russia and Cambodia and the like.

I hope you have each had a most lovely and eventful week! The colors and weather down here are beginning to show the face of Fall, which reminds me of you because Fall is my favorite and you are my favorite, too. I love love love you, and miss you quite a lot.

with great love and happiness,