Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Joy's 4th Week is complete!                                    Letter received June 28, 2016

Hola amigos,

This week flew by. I don't know how it happens. Basically everyday we go to class and study by ourselves for two hours and then have companionship study where we share what we learned and plan for our investigators. We live in our chairs which kills me a little bit, but I will soak it up since in TWO WEEKS I will be living on my feet. 

So, last week Speth and I got rings from the market but that night she lost it while she was making her bed. She was so sad and we tore up her bed and looked for it but it was not anywhere to be found. That night we were saying prayer and we asked to find it and the next morning we were getting ready and she looked in her closet and right in the middle was her ring. It was pretty cool because it was definitely not there the night before.

So, in sacrament meeting we are just called on randomly to give talks. In the group of Americans before us, there were a couple who never had to give a talk so I was hoping my visit here would end the same way. But alas, when I heard "Hermana Ashton," I went stiff, and the MTC President just smiled at me and my wide eyes. Luckily, I had written one for just such an occasion the night before and was able to share about enduring to the end. It went well enough, and all the sweet little latina hermanas smiled up at me and told me I did a good job. 

Hermano Bajan is one of our new teachers and the other day he was doing the accents of our missions and when he talked like a Salvadoran it was really sing-songy and it made my heart melt. I loved how it sounded. I hope that I get that accent because it is so sweet and smooth. I made him do it again the next day because it sounds like a warm blanket. I cannot wait to get there and be able to speak spanish with those people!

We were praying right before we were going to give a lesson and for those situations we pray in English so I was praying in English that we would be able to have the spirit with us and I said a few more things before I realized that I was saying "por favor" rather than please. It is so amazing to me how the gift of tongues truly is a gift of the spirit. When I recognize that the spirit is with me, I do much better at the language. I am working hard and I am trying my best, but with the spirit in my life, I can do so much more. 

I love seeing your pictures! It looks like this has been a fun busy week! I'm praying for ya!

Hermana Ashton

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Joy at the MTC. She is the 4th from the right. Hermana Speth is next to her and then Hermana Houston, and on the end is Hermana Howarth.


Week tres is terminated!

Joy Ashton

This week flew by. I can’t believe it. 

I wish I could send more pictures but we aren’t allowed to send them on these computers because the ccm is afraid that we’ll download viruses onto the computer from our cameras. But we do have some cute pics.

Two sad things happened this week. Hermana Silva went home because she was really sick. Because she went home, our trio was split, so Hermana Houston was not only taken from Speth and I, but she was taken from our room and our district. Saying goodbye after spending ever hour of every day together for 3 weeks was like saying goodbye at the airport again. It stunk.

But teaching in two is so much easier than three because when one person is done talking the other person doesn’t have to wonder who will speak next. 

Today we were let out into the world of Guatemala and people stared. Yes. I am a bright, white American with a plaque and a book. We got to take a tour of the second oldest cathedral in Guatemala City today and then we went to the plaza right in front of the palace and were set loose to talk to real people. It was so cool and Speth and I were nervous at first, but Speth started talking and she was on fire. She was holding actual conversations with people. One of the people we were talking to basically said I sucked at Spanish but it was cool with me because I understood what he said. We started talking to him when his kids ran up to Speth and me because they wanted a picture with us. That also happened when we went to the Guatemala Central Market. We were buying matching rings that are suns with our engraved names-- we put Hermana and our Last names-- in them and a family got really excited to see us and all got a picture with us. If there is a lame rule in this mission, it is that we can’t hug the kids. They are the cutest little people in the whole world! 

At the little shop where we got our rings we were talking to the lady behind the counter and when we gave her a Book of Mormon she said she got chills and she showed us her arm and she had goosebumps. That was probably my favorite part of the day. 

After that we went to Wendy’s and it was so good. They only had vanilla frosties but let me tell you, it was the best thing I’ve tasted especially with the fries. I don’t know why it was so good but it filled me up really quick. 

Since Houston moved out of our room, we got two Latina Hermanas to replace her and apparently they may have had lice but I am not sure. They were really sweet but they also thought we had an evil spirit in our bathroom. That was comforting. And bless all the Latinas for singing because even they don’t know the tunes they still sing with their whole hearts. 

I killed my first spider here this week. We were all in the bathroom brushing our teeth and I was moving away from the sink to let someone else spit and I looked down so I wouldn’t step in a puddle and all I could see was a furry, scurrying spider the size of a quarter coming toward me. All I could say was " NO NO NO NO!" all the girls were confused as to why I was yelling NO and why I had run out of the room, but I grabbed a shower sandal and came running back in to see Hermana Howarth up on the counter and Hermana Houston backed into a corner. I killed the spider still with my toothbrush in my mouth. It was pretty gross but so funny to see the girls when I came back in. 

I have never been more thankful for Sundays in my life. We learn nonstop here and if we did not have a Sunday and a P-day to break it up, I think I might crack. Blessed, blessed day of rest. 

Our lessons are getting better but it is still pretty difficult to learn a language. Who knew. I can’t wait to be fluent. I will only speak Spanish to my children so they can have the upper hand in this world. Being bilingual from childhood would be such a blessing. 

I love you all and I am praying for all of you! I love hearing what is going on in your lives!

I wish I could send pictures but you will just have to wait until I get out to the field. 

Handshakes and High fives,

Hermana Ashton

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Joy's letter # 2   Sent June 14, 2016

This week was good! We are still learning and trying really hard. My companions are great and we have decided to start singing hymns before we go to bed. Last night we sang How Great thou Art but the spanish version. One of the girls next door who is actually going home at the end of the week because of medical reasons said that it was really comforting and she heard it in English even though we were singing in Spanish. I thought that was amazing.

We actually taught a real investigator. The teachers tell us that the people we teach are real even though the teachers themselves are the investigators, but one of my teachers said that her friend, Diego, would come and we assumed that he would just be a member who we could practice on, but the real story is that he had the lessons a few years ago, but his parents wouldn't let him get baptized so he fell away and now is trying to get back. It was so cool to teach him even though we could hardly understand what he was saying and we probably made very little sense.

We also taught a teacher who works here and we messed up pretty bad. We were at the door practicing our introduction and we were having a hard time understanding him so when he asked us a question about who we were and something about being witnesses we enthusiastically said Si. We went in and talked with him about his beliefs and he said that he believed in God and in Jesus Christ and in something else that we didn't understand and he asked us if we believed those things as well. We confidently  said Si until in my head it clicked that he had said that he believed in praying to the Virgin Mary. I immediately said no and whispered to my companions that he had said the Virgin Mary and we all went from firm yeses to frantic no's. To top the lesson off, we couldn't get him to say the closing prayer so hermana Houston offered it and in the prayer she was about to say that we were thankful for our visit with... and she had completely blanked on his name so we all sat in silence for a good three seconds and hermana Speth and I were practically whisper screaming "Pablo" at her. She had to end the prayer right after that because all of us were laughing so hard at how awful the lesson had been and the sequence of events. After the lesson, we realized that he had asked us if we were Jehovah's Witnesses. I think we are ready for the field...

Elder Bednar gave an awesome devotional last week. He stood as a witness of Christ. It was so powerful.

On Sunday night we watched an old devotional of Jeff Holland at the MTC called, "No Regrets." He made the point that we are out on a mission for the Lord so we need to follow the Lord's rules and if we were on another mission for someone else we could follow the other rules but he would just ask us to take off our nametags beforehand. That was so powerful to me. I get to serve the Lord for 18 months and I get to remember everything that happens for the rest of my life. I am so happy that I get to be here and I get to do His work.

Pres. Morris and Hermana Morris gave a couple of devotionals too and they shared about families and prayer and how the gospel truly blesses lives.

We had a health presentation and I will absolutely not eat food from vendors on the streets. I am not interested in getting sick. There were some pretty nasty pictures.

This morning we woke up at 5:30 because I thought someone was slamming doors hard enough to shake my bed. That was not a correct assumption. :) but Hermana Houston jumped off the top bunk because of the shakes. It was pretty cool. I like it down here. The weather has been awesome too. There was some AWESOME thunder and lightning this week.

Oh! one of the rules here is that we, the Hermanas, can't play sports outside if it is raining. A couple days ago it was not even a sprinkle. it was just like the air was thicker, but the Hermanas were not allowed out. That bugged me. But I will be obedient with exactness because I need to learn the language so badly. It is hard. I am so bad at memorizing phrases. So I need the blessings.

We went to the temple this morning and it was lovely as usual. I love the temple and I love the Gospel! Yo sé que familias pueden ser eternal. Yo sé que el Libro de Mormón es verdadero. Yo sé que Jesucristo es el Hijo de Dios y yo sé que él es mi Salvador!

The gospel is true and we are all children of God. That is the truth. God loves us and we can get back to him someday.

I love you all. I pray for you.
Dios nos ama.

Hermana Ashton

ps. let's not judge this typing job or my Spanish. These keyboards are ridiculous. Also don't judge my spelling. Thanks
love h.a.
(Mom edited so it looks a bit better, but it wasn't too bad).  Robin Ashton

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Joy's official letter # 1         June 7, 2016

Joy Ashton   
11:00 AM (4 hours ago)

When I lost visual of you guys at the airport and went through security, they stopped me and looked though all my stuff so when the other missionaries came through we were all done at the end and walked to a big group of missionaries. 

I am in a trio companionship with Hermana Speth and Hermana Houston, both from Utah and both are funny. I thought I would be a crier here, but I am really doing fine. Sorry about that. I do love you guys, but it isn’t bad. The food here is delicious and there really aren’t any worries besides learning the language and not being able to understand my teachers. 

Oh, the Guatemala mail system is down so I won’t be able to receive any letters or packages as long as I am here. Also, the mission president in El Salvador sent this:

 "The postal system here in El Salvador is very unreliable so please tell your parents and loved ones to NOT send packages by private mail systems like UPS, DHL express, FedEx, etc. If they do the packages will be stuck in airport customs and we will not be able to retrieve them. Please tell your loved ones to send packages by US mail as these will arrive directly to our office without any fees or problems. The address to send both packages and letters to is:
 Sister Ashton
El Salvador San Salvador East Mission
PO Box # 3362
San Salvador, El Salvador
Central America"
Since it is so hot here, we sleep with the window open and so one morning at 5 am, I woke up to all the birds chirping and singing. There were some that would coo and some that would sing the same phrase of 15154 over and over and over and over. It would not stop.  There were also some that Cawwwwed which was the reason I woke up so early. I thought it was the alarm. Too bad that bird didn’t wake us up the next day because all of us slept through the alarm so we only had 13 minutes to be ready and down at breakfast. 
We have a very full schedule here and not a minute to spare. We have to copy the schedule into our agendas. That is the not so fun part. 
I am glad to hear that all of you are learning languages and that you are all practicing hard. That is a tiny taste of the suffering here, but don’t you worry. I will get it, dang it, if it is the last thing I do. 
The CCM  (MTC) is surrounded by metal fences and it is watched by guards the whole time, so I really am not worried about safety at all. Haha last night there were a lot of booms (not gun shots daddy.....) and Hermana Silva joked that they were just people rehearsing revolutionary war reenactments and the shots were fireworks for the Fourth of July... in Guatemala. That was pretty funny. The girls are all great and one of them went to Skyline. Her name is Ellery Howorth. So we had stuff to talk about and in common right off. 
Thanks to everyone who emailed me!  They are so fun to receive. I loved the pictures so whatever pictures you want to send are welcome. But like I said, the mail system here is broken so don’t send me any prints.
My p-day is Tuesday for now so send me your emails before then! I will try to read through all of them and reply!
I’ve gotten to the point where I am getting ok at praying in Spanish, so that is good.  Instead of saying "Dear Heavenly Father" every two minutes, I am saying "Querido Padre Celestial" so I would say that is a good thing. I’m working hard but it is hard. Just know that I can whip out a "Dios nos ama" any time you need it. 
I love you and I know that I am receiving the blessings from your prayers!

Hermana Ashton

Monday, June 6, 2016

A letter from Joy's Mission President

Misión El Salvador San Salvador Este
San Salvador El Salvador. C.A.

Welcome, Sister Ashton, to the San Salvador East Mission!
We feel blessed for the revelation that the Lord gives to His prophets and for the fact that you have been assigned to this Mission of the Lord in El Salvador San Salvador East. Our mission covers 6 Stakes and 1 District and we have 10 Zones and 165 consecrated missionaries. We thank you for your health and deep desire to serve. Thank you for your honesty and purity in doing this beautiful work.
Who we are: We are consecrated missionaries of Jesus Christ and Preach My Gospel and with His authority we convert, baptize, and retain.
We invite you to watch this training video by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland from the Provo MTC in 2011: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRCYJF9mrD0. Please watch it and ponder on it with all of you heart, mind, might and strength. Your preparation and dignity will help you to have the Spirit so that you may preach with power and authority (John 7:15-17) and become a masterful PMG teacher.
We promise you the blessings that our Father has for His children and His protection as you keep the commandments and Mission rules. These will help you see miracles every day. The people are ready, the Lord has prepared them so that you and your future companions will find them and teach them by the Spirit because you will have the right to invite that Spirit to aid in the conversion of His children.
We have a beautiful temple with which we help inspire those we baptize to do vicarious temple work for their beloved family members that have passed away soon after their own baptism. We invite them to endure so that they can be sealed as a family when they have completed a year of being faithful members. We invite you to do your own family history work before you enter the mission field.
Express deep gratefulness to your parents for the upbringing and preparation they have given you. Thank them for giving the Lord the best of their lives… You!
                                                                            tu y yo
Sincerely, President and Sister Vásquez, San Salvador East Mission
Our area doctor has asked us not to use contact lenses here in our mission; he asks that we use glasses only. Eye infections here are common and very dangerous. In our country, there is so much bacteria that we touch on the bus, on the hands of others, etc., and then we touch our face and have skin infections, eye infections, etc. The eye infections are especially dangerous. It is very difficult to identify the bacteria in order to give the correct treatment. And here we do not have good medicines to treat eye problems. It is imperative that you obey this rule. In the past, they have had to send some missionary’s home to the United States for treatment and some almost lost their sight. The risk of blindness is high with these infections, and they progress so rapidly. Hence, the rule not to wear contact lenses here in the mission was put in place. We would ask you to please not bring contacts with you. We do not want to take any unnecessary risks with your eyes.

The postal system here in El Salvador is very unreliable so please tell your parents and loved ones to NOT send packages by private mail systems like UPS, DHL express, FedEx, etc. If they do the packages will be stuck in airport customs and we will not be able to retrieve them. Please tell your loved ones to send packages by US mail as these will arrive directly to our office without any fees or problems. The address to send both packages and letters to is:

Sister Ashton
El Salvador San Salvador East Mission
PO Box # 3362
San Salvador, El Salvador
Central America

At the same time I’d like to ask you to send me your parents’ or tutor’s email. We use your parents’ emails to contact them for emergencies

Thank you and we are very excited to have you join us here in El Salvador!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Guatemala City Temple is across the street from the Missionary Training Center

Image result for guatemala city temple

Joy Ashton joy.ashton@myldsmail.net

Jun 1 (3 days ago)
to me
We flew a long way but the sunrise this morning at 4-30 a.m. was BEAUTIFUL. On the plane to LA I sat next to this guy named Raul who is a religious person and we had a nice 1 hour chat about religion. Luckily, he was sandwiched between two missionaries so we tag teamed and Elder B. gave him a Book of Mormon. Companions are a really good thing to have. I know that now. 

The others on the plane who came in my group are really awesome and Guatemala is really green and jungley and I can´t understand anything. Oh well. I will learn.

I love you so much! I am super happy and don´t worry about me at all.

I love you!

Hermana Ashton