Hi, I'm Amanda, and I'm a Mormon missionary!

Monday, February 10, 2014

When you go to America, they ask to see your passport...

But when you go to Del Mar, they ask to see your paycheck. HELLOOOO from the richest part of the country! Highest property values in the country and highest tithing donations in the world! And all people eat is salad! Which is great! I like salad! We are also in a car share, which means we have a car 3 days of the week. So that means that we walk 10 miles per day at least! YAY FOR WEIGHT LOSS! The average weight gain in my last area is 10 pounds for sisters PER TRANSFER and 20 for elders. I only gained 2 in the 3 transfers I was there! YAY FOR PORTION CONTROL! Anyway, this new area is great. There are real stores, which is something I haven't seen in 5 months. Last night my district leader called and asked what we were doing on p-day, and I said we were going to Target. Then he asked what we wanted to do for district activity, and I said we should all go to Target. My companion had to tell him it's because I was in Fallbrook for so long that I'm going crazy about there being a Target. And there is a Trader Joe's, and a Walmart (ew), and EVERYTHING. There is even Chinese food here! I HAD REAL SUSHI! It is SO GOOD!
Better yet, people are actually NICE here! Rather than yelling at us, they just ignore us! Or they tell us (politely) that they aren't interested. Isn't that great!?
We have a baptism next week. She's 14 and she is getting baptized with her best friend and her best friend's sister. She and her best friend remind me of Meghan and I! I get to translate for it because it will be half Spanish and half English! YAY! Oh, and I'm in an English speaking ward, but there are a lot of Spanish contacts. Plus, the mom of the girl who is getting baptized doesn't speak English but we gave her a Book of Mormon to read and told her how it has blessed our lives and now she is excited to read!
 We are also teaching 2 professional body builders (it's crazy. They are like pure muscle. The man has 3% body fat and his girlfriend has like 12%... it is scary). They are getting married on Feb 28th and married on March 1st. We are looking forward to next week, when we are going to go to the temple grounds (like 20 minutes away) and teach the Plan of Salvation and how they can be together forever! HOW GREAT! It is going to be emotional to the max, especially because it is the San Diego temple and that is a very special temple for me!
Anyway, I am very excited for this area! My companion thinks I am TOO enthusiastic. Her goal before was to talk to 10 people per day, and I said that that was lame and we could talk to at least 17 and she thought I was crazy. We have met that goal and exceeded it every day since I have been here. One day we talked to 26 people. All of their goals for this week were exceeded, actually. Guess why? ENTHUSIASM! I just love being a missionary and I just love everyone here and I am excited to be here! YAY!
In addition, Superbowl Sunday is a difficult day for missionaries. Everyone we talked to was either drunk or about to go get drunk.
Also, I ran away from fireworks because I thought they were gunshots. AWKWARD!
Well, that's pretty much it. I hope you all have an awesome day today and upcoming week! I LOVE YOU ALL!
<3sister berg :)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Some pictures for y'all

Hey As I promised these are some of the pictures that Amanda sent me!  After this post I plan on putting the long email of the week up. 

The 5th Young Women

Baby Bearded Dragon! Cutest Reptile Ever!

There Investiagtors restatement

Fugly Flower

Indeed We Are

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Moldy Apartment and Expired Food.....OH NO!

 Here's the story: so every week we volunteer at the food pantry and they give us things to eat for the week because the mission really doesn't give us adequate money to buy everything we need (especially because we're girls and we need more stuff than boys but we don't get extra money like other missions). Well this week, we didn't look at the expiration dates of things to see when things expired....... yeah...... so we had to throw out all of our food pretty much and had cereal and clementines. SO MANY CLEMENTINES. People grow them and give us bags and bags of them. We also have been getting sick every time we are in our apartment. It's kind of ridiculous... my companion wakes up with a sore throat and no voice and i get a runny nose and hives everywhere. So we called up the apartment complex and was like "there is totally mold in our apartment." So we had to move into the elders' old apartment for a day while they took out our walls and "cleaned everything out." There were drug dealers next door at the other apartment! How fun! And we couldn't get our toiletries out of our apartment so I wore the elders' old spice--I smelled like the man your man could smell like!
Anyway, when we went back to our apartment, we recognized that it just got WORSE! So yeah, we found a new apartment that we will hopefully be moving into soon. I thought things like this only happened to people who serve in like argentina and stuff.... nope!
We brought a bunch of people (less actives/nonmembers/etc.) to the ward christmas party--it didn't go as planned. We had a big performance (I played trumpet so that was fun) and it was all about WAIT FOR IT....... the military. THE MILITARY. I brought a big time pacifist with me to meet the mormons and all they talked about was how great the military is. WHAT ABOUT JESUS!? It's the christmas party!!! Oh well, it's over. He's never coming to church again though, sadly.
On the other hand, we ate lunch with a less active member who adores us and now her husband doesn't hate missionaries as much! So that's helpful! :) She is having us over today because in her own words: "I'm not paying tithing so I'm donating to the church by buying the missionaries clothes." So she got my companion and I clothes! She has style, so I'm pretty content.
We have been somewhat frustrated because our investigators simply don't want lessons and we try to find people but no one is interested, so we prayed about it and came up with the conclusion that we should focus our efforts on less active members. So what if we don't get a baptism? Activation is pretty important too!
Yesterday the stake president had his two children's mission homecoming talks in church, AND the mission president spoke. it was probably the best church experience ever! they taught every missionary lesson in the space of an hour... all that was missing was a baptismal invitation, pretty much! We are now teaching 2 of the people who attended about family history :)
We also found out yesterday that someone who we innocently talked to about family history outside of a restaurant is actually best friends with a member and the person is like totally obsessed with family history now!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

First Long Email!!!!

Hello everyone this is Brandi and this is the first long email Amanda has sent me.  We always get to just talking and forgets to send me one.  I will post pictures hopefully next week sorry I haven't posted them yet I've been busy with school and have finals next week.

This week we celebrated both Thanksgiving and Hannukah! I had 2 regular turkey dinners on Thanksgiving, as well as 2 really cool Filipino dinners, and 2 desserts. Luckily my companion and I do lunges up this super steep hill for half an hour every morning I have actually been losing weight! My legs hurt constantly, but dang, I am going to have some really nice legs by the time this mission is over. Anyway, Filipino food is amazing. If you haven't had it yet, EAT IT RIGHT NOW! On Friday, stopped by a less active member's house. We taught a lesson while she gave me a manicure! She told me if I don't bite my nails, she will read her scriptures. What a good deal, right!?
However, Saturday and Sunday were definitely the most interesting days this week!
Saturday went as follows: We went tracting for the first time in a long time, and miracles occured! We first stumbled upon the ex girlfriend of one of the guys in my ward who is now serving a mission in Montana! I had met her like 3 times already so seeing her again was like OH HEY WOAH! Then, we found a new investigator named Jenny! She is pretty great! She told us we smell nice! We will be seeing her again on Wednesday :) Then we met this nice man named Mike who just told us how much he loves Mormons because they carry themselves well! He just talked to us for 10 minutes straight about his love for Mormons. Then we saw this nice man who is actually on a "do not contact" list of less active members. I don't know why! He was way nice!
Then we went on to the Quisenberry house to make a nice Thanksgivakah dinner. Their friend, Dadi, was there from Israel. He is kind of a big deal chef. He's a private chef in Beverly Hills who cooks for people like Madonna and stuff... so yeah, it was a good meal. I made latkes! Gosh, I love latkes <3 Dadi said he misses them, and I made his night complete :) There were like 20 people there, from all different religious backgrounds. I had met Dadi a few times before, and he calls me "sister jewish." He laughed at me because the second I got in their house I was like "alright I'm cooking-- you need to get out of my path." Yeah, I sounded A LOT like my mother. Sis Quisenberry was like "oh gosh there are 2 Jews in my kitchen now. I'm not sure if my kitchen can handle this!" It was a pretty great meal. We did the Hannukah prayer and everything!
At the end of the night, one of the people who sat next to me, Jacob (HES FROM ICELAND!), told us in front of everyone how he used to have an extreme hatred of organized religion but he is changing his mind because of how we missionaries act and how we can just sit and talk rather than forcing religion down peoples' throats. Seriously, it made my life complete. I FINALLY felt like I was accomplishing my purpose as a missionary. I really don't feel like I was sent here to convert a bunch of people who are already Christian. I was sent here to touch the hearts of people like Jacob, who is pagan. I think that my purpose is to help people from different backgrounds like I had, because I can't connect really to people who are Baptists and Catholics and stuff. I can definitely connect with the Jews and Buddhists, Muslims, and Agnostics, because I was agnostic for such a long time. People tell me all the time about how Jesus is their savior and stuff, and that's great! They often feel complete, so it is hard to convince them that something is missing in their lives, though there is. I REALLY like to talk to people who ask who Jesus really is. Because I had that question for such a long time. I hated religion for so long because people would shove Jesus down my throat. I didn't even know who the guy was for the first 15 years of my life! "He died for your sins." Alright well what makes him different from everyone else who was crucified though they were innocent? These are questions that I had for so long and finally had answered by this church. People who have questions like that are the kinds of people I like to teach! People who have a lot of doubts and questions often end up being such incredible church members, because those are the people who will truly study it all out and really come to have a firm knowledge of these truths! If they take forever to get baptized, so be it! I would prefer to baptize someone who has a firm conviction of everything, who took a while to understand and really get to know things, rather than someone who just wants to get baptized because we ask them to. Thus, planting seeds of faith with people like Jacob is so great and I really enjoy doing it. We haven't baptized anyone yet, but we have touched a lot of hearts and that makes me feel like we are fulfilling our purpose.
Well... right after ward council we texted our investigator, George, asking if he was going to come to church. In Sacrament meeting, we received this text: "Actually, I haven't really been interested in your religion at all. I just want to date Miss Berg."
Well, Jorge, we are sad to inform you that Miss Berg is taken by both Jesus AND an amazing man. So... sorry sir.
Okay, we didn't say that. But we did say "well, if you ever are willing to hear more about your savior, please feel free to text us! There will always be missionaries."
Then we went to dinner at a very VERY Mormon family's home. Somehow the Book of Mormon Musical came up. The parents talked about how terrible it was and how it makes fun of faith and stuff. Now, I freaking love that musical. I think it is absolutely hilarious. So my only response was "well, I think we shouldn't judge it unless we see it, and lets face it: Mormons are kind of weird. We should lighten up and be willing to laugh at ourselves sometimes!" Yeah, the parents of that family don't like me anymore. They told me that I was pulling a "convert card," and quickly escorted us out of their house. The worst part is that is the first councelor in the bishopric and his wife... OOPS.
So yeah, it was an interesting week. I hope all of yours were as fun as mine!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

California Living

Hey y'all its Brandi here Amanda is loving California and has found a new found love of grapefruits.  Apparently she never really cared for them before.  They went and visited the (San Diego) Temple a couple of weeks ago so their P-day was cut drastically short.  She had a rough start but is doing much better now.  She loves her district.  She sent me pictures which I will post within the next couple of days because I have to Scan them into my other computer.  Her email day is Monday and I usually catch her enough to email her back and forth and its the only thing keeping me sane. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Amanda's Mission!!

As you all know Amanda is on her mission in Carlsbad.  She has asked me Brandi Blanchette AKA her Stends to keep everyone posted on both facebook and on here.  She recently sent me a letter that she wrote the day before she left the MTC and said that she is excited.  She was travel leader to get all 21 missionaries including herself to San Diego.  She was very excited to get to go.  Amanda wrote to me how she embarrassed Jenny in the cafeteria at the MTC by saying, and I quote, "HEY EVERYONE!  HAVE YOU MET JENNY?! YOU SHOULD!"  Then apparently you can't high five there and that's Amanda's thing!  She LOVES to high five.  It makes my day getting a letter from her and it makes me ecstatic just to get one!  So peace!!
A Picture that Amanda sent me!  I love this picture its amazing!  She should so be a photographer!  Right?!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

You Are a Child of God (My Farewell :))

When the Bishop told me I could pick my own topic for my farewell, I was really happy, because I had been thinking about it ever since I got my mission call. Why am I going on a mission? Missionaries change their reasons all the time, and mine probably will, too. “I want everyone to know about Christ,” “I want to become a better wife and mother,” “I want to become a mature adult,” “My parents would be disappointed if I didn’t” (that’s a stupid reason, by the way, though I know a few kids who are that way, unfortunately). Mine hasn’t changed since I decided to go on a mission, and it all goes back to the most basic belief we have—the first thing in the first lesson of Preach My Gospel, the first primary song you ever learn, the first line of the Young Women’s Theme: We are children of a loving Heavenly Father. It’s a pretty basic principle, right? Well, for about 15 years of my life, I didn’t know that. I didn’t know who God was, if He was there, or why people were so devoted to Him. I didn’t know why people were so obsessed with this Jesus fellow who apparently “died for their sins.” I didn’t understand why somebody had to die for my sins because I didn’t know what was happening after this life. I thought I could just go on living life, doing whatever I wanted because after this life, I was just going to die and maybe go somewhere else, maybe not. Worst of all, I didn’t understand my purpose on earth. I didn’t know why I was here, or that I was important individually. I thought it was kind of hard to be important as an individual when there are so many people on this earth and my life is simply a dot on the eternal spectrum. So many people in this world are exactly like how I was. It wasn’t until I found this glorious gospel that I was able to understand my individual importance. God’s love for us is infinite and perfect, though it may not always seem so. Sometimes things happen that make us think “is there really someone out there who loves me?” “How can God be so loving if He lets bad things happen?” So often on the news we see stories about natural disasters, war, poverty, disease—terrible things. Some people respond to this by saying “well, obviously then God doesn’t exist because a loving God wouldn’t let stuff like that happen.” Let me ask you this then, do you believe in dentists? I sure don’t. If there were such things as dentists, why would people have broken and messed up teeth? Okay, of course dentists exist. However, it’s not the dentist’s fault that people have messed up teeth, but when someone does chip a tooth, that person has to make the effort to go to the dentist to get it fixed. It’s the same thing as God. He can’t fix something unless someone comes to Him, but it isn’t His fault that some people choose to live their own way and that results in the bad things that happen in this world. Some people just won’t go to the dentist and that’s why they have bad teeth. My boyfriend’s roommate had to get 6 teeth pulled last year simply because he refused to brush his teeth or go to the dentist. Is it the dentist’s fault that he neglects his teeth? Obviously not. In fact, if Boniface did go to the dentist, his teeth probably would have been so much healthier. God doesn’t force us to go to Him, but if we do, our lives would be so much better. We have agency, and though God could intervene if He wanted, and He has before, He nonetheless will allow us to create our own paths even if they end in sorrow. We have to learn from our mistakes so we don’t make them anymore. God is our father. Every father wants what is best for his children and loves them, even when those children make some bad choices. A father can be disappointed or angry at times, and I’m sure sometimes God is that way too, but not because He is selfish and wants His way, but because He loves us and knows that when we live His commandments and His way, we will be happy both in this life and throughout eternity. That is the only way to be truly happy. He gave us this amazing plan of salvation so that we could live with Him once more. Along with that, however, comes agency, and the ability to make right and wrong choices. Nonetheless, God loves everyone, no matter what mistakes they have made. He loves you so much, in fact, that He sent His Son to die for you. He sent His Son to die for the people who cursed, spat on, beat, scourged, and crucified Him. He sent His Son to die for the people who curse His name and say that He’s fake and terrible. He sent His Son to die for the antichrists who spread false teachings so that people would be led away from Him. He did this because He loves everyone even if they don’t love Him. Lehi saw the Love of God when he saw the Tree of Life. The Tree of Life also symbolizes Jesus Christ, so Jesus Christ is God’s love, personified. That is why He died for you. He died for you because He is love. He wants you to live with Him again. He wants you to come to Him with a broken heart, feeling sorry for your sins, so that He can help you and make you happy again, because He is the only way to happiness. So many people go to worldly things to find “happiness.” Drugs, alcohol, promiscuity, expensive cars and clothing, these are things that will not bring you happiness. I can guarantee it. They simply put a band-aid over your sadness. And when that band-aid falls off: when your high goes away, when you run out of money, when the buzz wears off, what is left? A very sad person. The dictionary defines sadness as “affected or characterized by sorrow or unhappiness.” What is the first step of repentance? Feel godly SORROW for your sins. The way to become happy is to humble yourself before Christ, repent of your sins, be baptized, and live a righteous life. My definition of sadness is “the absence of God.” When you have God in your life, and you go to Him when you are unhappy, he will help you find happiness. The purpose of a missionary is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. To me, they could easily shorten that whole thing and simply make it “help people be happy.” I know that what I’m saying is true because I have been there. I have tried to find worldly things to make me happy. Eventually I had so many worldly band-aids on that when they fell off, I felt like I was in a dark pit, unable to get out no matter how hard I tried. But then I found Jesus Christ. It was as though He threw a ladder into the pit and all I had to do was climb up. Of course, repentance isn’t easy. The climb was hard, but here I am. Repentance isn’t supposed to be easy. But sometimes, things need to get worse before they get better. Sometimes you need to take the band-aid off and put some alcohol on the wound. It will sting at first, but it will heal so much faster than just having a band-aid. In order to feel the atonement working in your life, you have to feel a speck of what Jesus Christ felt. You need to feel godly sorrow and guilt for what you have done. Alma put it very nicely: And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world. Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death. And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more. And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain! Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and as bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy. If you are in the gall of bitterness, if you have been looking for peace, happiness, and joy in your life, I have one piece of advice for you: repent in the name of Jesus Christ with a sincere heart and faith that He will bring you out of the pit that you are in. I guarantee that you will be able to find joy, because He loves you and because He wants you to be happy. God’s purpose is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man, and eternal life is the greatest of all the gifts of God. The purpose of life, therefore, is to find happiness, because the purpose of life is to live in such a way that we will be worthy to gain eternal life and live with God again. No matter what you have done, you can be worthy to live with God if you repent. But just like a dentist can’t fix your tooth unless you go to him, Jesus Christ can’t fix your soul unless you go to Him. My favorite apostle, President Uchtdorf, talked about God’s love for His children in a talk entitled “The Love of God” (aptly named, right?) in the October 2009 General Conference. I think no one could possibly say anything more perfectly than he did in this talk. He said: Think of the purest, most all-consuming love you can imagine. Now multiply that love by an infinite amount—that is the measure of God’s love for you. God does not look on the outward appearance. I believe that He doesn’t care one bit if we live in a castle or a cottage, if we are handsome or homely, if we are famous or forgotten. Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God’s love encompasses us completely. He loves us because He is filled with an infinite measure of holy, pure, and indescribable love. We are important to God not because of our résumé but because we are His children. He loves every one of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful, or broken. God’s love is so great that He loves even the proud, the selfish, the arrogant, and the wicked. What this means is that, regardless of our current state, there is hope for us. No matter our distress, no matter our sorrow, no matter our mistakes, our infinitely compassionate Heavenly Father desires that we draw near to Him so that He can draw near to us. So why am I going on a mission? Because I believe that everyone deserves to know that they are loved, no matter what their past is like. Everyone deserves to be happy. The world tells you that unless you are rich and beautiful, you are not happy, but the world is wrong. Even if you come from the most humble of circumstances, even if you are not a supermodel, even if you have disabilities—as long as you are a human being, you can be happy. All you have to do is look to Jesus Christ. The purpose of a missionary is to invite others to come unto Christ. I want everyone to be happy. In the words of Alma (can you tell he’s my favorite?), “ Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever. Behold, how many thousands of our brethren has he loosed from the pains of hell; and they are brought to sing redeeming love, and this because of the power of his word which is in us, therefore have we not great reason to rejoice? Yea, we have reason to praise him forever, for he is the Most High God, and has loosed our brethren from the chains of hell. Yea, they were encircled about with everlasting darkness and destruction; but behold, he has brought them into his everlasting blight, yea, into everlasting salvation; and they are encircled about with the matchless bounty of his love; yea, and we have been instruments in his hands of doing this great and marvelous work.” Words can’t even begin to describe how excited I am to be an instrument in His hands of doing this great and marvelous work! I can’t wait to get out to California and share my experiences and help people find the joy that they so desperately desire. I can’t wait to see the happiness on the faces of people I serve when they finally realize that God is there and He loves them infinitely and eternally. I know that the trials I’ve had have prepared me for this mission. Heavenly Father planned them for me so that I would be able to connect to the people I will be serving. I never even contemplated going on a mission before the age change, and even then I was skeptical, but now I understand how God has been likely been preparing me since before this life for this mission. And now it is time. “O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth and cry repentance unto every people! Yea, I would declare unto every soul, as with the voice of thunder, repentance and the plan of redemption that they should repent and come unto our God, that there might not be more sorrow upon all the face of the earth. I know that which the Lord hath commanded me and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy. And behold, when I see many of my brethren truly penitent, and coming to the Lord their God, then is my soul filled with joy; then do I remember what the Lord has done for me, yea, even that he hath heard my prayer; yea, then do I remember his merciful arm which he extended towards me.” I have never been happier than when I have been with the missionaries teaching people about Jesus Christ, and I testify to you that the greatest way to feel God’s love is to love and help His children. I was not converted by some missionaries knocking on my door. I was converted through a friend casually inviting me to church. Anyone can be an instrument in God’s hands even without the nametag. Who knows, you could really change a life! Brothers and Sisters, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Jesus Christ’s church restored back to the earth through a prophet, Joseph Smith. We have a living prophet today, Thomas S. Monson, who will lead you onto the right path if you follow his words. The Book of Mormon is the true word of God and I know that it can answer any question you have. I know that the Book of Mormon and Bible contain the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You have a Father in Heaven who loves you more than words can possibly begin to describe. You have a Savior who died so that you could live with your Heavenly Father again. I testify to you that no matter how far you have fallen, no matter what mistakes you have made, you are never alone. Jesus Christ is always, always there to pick you back up and help lead you to happiness. All you have to do is ask. I promise He will give it to you. These words I leave with you in the name of our loving Savior, Jesus Christ, amen.