Letter 2: "Schwang!"

Missionary Training Center (MTC)
Provo, Utah
December 14th 2010

Okay! so I am now starting to understand why people LOVE the MTC.

I get it.

The first week really does stink but holy cow, it's amazing! even though I know I will love the field 10x more, this is an amazing experience.

(The MTC keeps everything bad outside)

"My District"
I love my district, I don't know how much I told you about them last week, but they really are great!

All of the Elders of my district are so adorable and even though we've only been together for two weeks, it really does feel like we are family.

They are so strong and they are all going to be great missionaries... All, in very different ways.

"My teachers"
Then, there are our teachers, who are AWESOME! Hermanos Rapp and Zirckle are pretty legit.

Hermano Zirckle is married and has a kid on the way, he is finding out the gender this week!

Then Hermano Rapp... oh Hermano Rapp. His key phrases are 'Schwang!' and 'weak sauce!' everything in 'weak sauce!'...

We, the sisters, are taking those phrases with us to Guatamala, El Salvador, and Belize...it's going to be an Epic-demic :)

Speaking of, WE GOT OUR TRAVEL PLANS!!!!!!!!!!! we leave next Tuesday (exactly a week!) me and the other Hermanas are heading out to Guatamala.

We weren't sure if we were going to be able to go because a lot of places in Central America and Spain are having difficulties with visas...

Two of the Elders in our district (Elders Thornly and Peterson) were supposed to leave the same day as us, but their visas are delayed so they are staying here.

It really is exciting news that we are going, but it is bittersweet...we really will miss our Elders (our district Elders) and we aren't going to be able to see them until after the mish... sad...

Another thing, if you are going to send a letter, you'd better send it by Friday, otherwise I probably wont get it.

This past week has been so amazing.

Sunday was and is my favorite day of the week. For Relief Society, Sister Christofferson, as in... the apostles wife!, came and talked to us.

We also got to see Music and the Spoken Word, Christmas Style :) and for the Sunday fireside we heard the BYU mens choir, which I thought was legit!

...oh! COOL STORY!

So Hermana Wooten and I went together to sing in the choir for Devotional (which is tonight), but the practice was on Sunday.

After the practice, she was talking to an Elder about where they were going, and when she told him she was going to El Salvador he said "Oh my companion is your mission presidents son!"

So, we went to find him and when we did, we come to find MY mission Presidents son! he's here at the MTC on his way to Provo!

I thought it was pretty cool....! I hope to find him sometime today to get my picture taken with him cause neither of us had one on us...

He told me that, because I know him, my mission president will love me more :)

I am loving how much I'm learning here and even though I miss you all it is so worth it!

It kind of hurts...no, it really hurts to change this much this fast, but I can't believe how quickly everything is coming. So many changes!

Spanish is definitely the biggest challenge.

Every week we teach a mock lesson (it's kind of like a weekly test) and last Saturday was the first one.

Hermana Griffin and I did really well! Teaching is so great! my favorite part is when we get to promise them all of the blessings of following the gospel, it's so powerful and the promises are legit, they are backed up and I have no fear in giving them..

I really do love The Work, even though I haven't technically done it yet :) I'm so excited to get out of here...only 7 more weeks left!

Thank you so much for all of you who have sent letters, they are saving me and keeping me so motivated and reminding me why I'm here, I love it!

The package from the Relief Society was AMAZING! It was beautiful! Thank You!

I'll sent real letters this week cause my time is running out! Sorry! You'll get a personal, not in a few days! (if you have written me, ofcourse :)

Casey is Already in Guatemala. She called her family from the Dallas airport and talked for a while. It was great to hear from her and she is doing awesome! She sent a 'snail mail' letter, and we will get that to y'all as soon as we can!

Letter 1: "MTC"

Missionary Training Center (MTC)
Provo, Utah
December 7th 2010

"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness, I gice unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; forif they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong."
Ether 12:27

Ha ha ha. Yeah...I'm feeling it this week.

I am positive that anyone who said to LOVED the MTC, either didn't have to learn another language, or only loves it in hindsight because of all of the things they learned and how much they grew.

Okay, that sounded a little harsh... a little :)

This week has been Crazy! I don't think I could tell you all the things that have happened to me even if I tried... OK, I'll try:

"The MTC"
Basically, I've been so busy that I haven't really had time to think.

(Missionary Training Center or MTC in Provo)

I truly believe that they [The MTC people] try to cram as much information into our brains as possible and pray to heaven that some of it would stick.

It might not be that way, but that's how it feels. Most of the day we are in class learning...
  1. a mixture of basic doctrines of Christ,
  2. how to teach those doctrines, and
  3. how to teach those doctrines in Spanish....It's a challenge for sure.
"My Companion"
My Companion is Hermana Griffin, we are both going to El Salvador and she is pretty awesome.

We are a lot a like in many ways, we watch the same T.V. shows and are pretty similar in personalities, but there a lot of differences too.

She has no problem learning Spanish, she's taken seven years in school and feels pretty comfortable learning more in the language...

Spanish stresses me out to no end. it feels like this huge Gulf that i am drowning in. I feel like I think about it all day and try to memorize lines and rules, but it doesn't stick. part of me knows that I will get it and that I have come so far in the last four days.

Right now I'm pretty comfortable praying in Spanish and can door contact (very VERY basic door contacting) as well as recite a couple scriptures...oh, and bear my testimony more fluently and more from the heart than my previously memorized testimony.

So in reality it is coming...

"The feeling"
If I were taking a class at school it would take weeks and even months to learn what I have learned in five days.

But not a day goes by that I don't have mini-breakdowns because I feel like I will never learn it...though in my heart I know that's silly.

I am a set apart servant of God...He's the one who called me, so obviously he knows I can do it with his help.

Hermana Griffin is also a big help cause she is there to guide me through those moments of doubt...

On the other hand, my strength lies in teaching the Gospel...I love it! I can't get enough of it. I want to practice teaching every day, all day!

It's so amazing when you bear your testimony and you feel the spirit and the words you are saying really do touch those that are listening.

I know it's practice here, but the feeling that comes every time I recite Joseph Smiths vision, and every time I testify that God is our Father and that he really does love us....it's AMAZING!!!

Herman Griffin is having a hard time with that. She really does have a testimony but when we teach a lesson she focuses on the facts. I love her! She has such a great spirit and I know that when she really is able to communicate what she feels in words she will be on fire!

It's interesting the feeling of having a companion... Someone you are with, all day, every day... it's interesting. :)

Anyway I'm running out of time on the computer really fast so I'm going to get going.

This really is going to be an amazing experience, I know it!

The following picture is of my last day in Rexburg. We went to the Rexburg Temple.

(Trish, me and Hernan in Rexburg Idaho, a day before I entered the MTC)

"Best Bannanagrams Ever!"

That's Hermana Pappas to you!

As of Saturday November 27th I was set apart as a full time missionary...i don't know how much you know about mission rules but its really hard to keep them when you are still 'in the world' so far i have spent monday/traveled on sunday, listened to 'devils music,' gone places without a companion and...hugged three boys.... ... ...but at least i've had fun...?

Danita's Birthday Dinner at Marakesh...Yum!
Awesome Belly Dancer at Marakesh!

Cirque De La Symphonie? Yes Please!
Happy Birthday Danita!
I Love Portland!!!
Chloe Snuggled with a Statue
Statue played with Jaeda's Hair
No Way! I'm a sister!
Goodbye Portland
Hello Snow...for now ;)

Apprehension and Excitement

Seaside, Oregon

Apprehension and excitement…that is what I feel.

My stomach is in knots and it will probably stay that way for the next 6 months. But there is nothing I can do about that right now. There is no turning back. Here I am standing on the precipice and it really doesn’t matter if I’m ready or not cause its coming.

I’ve said almost of my goodbyes and as hard as they were I know I won’t regret it. Everybody who has gone on a mission has expressed to me how amazing the mission is, how much they have grown, and that after three months the time flies! This is the thought that I’m clinging to, because right now, my sisters’ feather bed sounds really nice to hide it.

Sure, I crave adventure! But I don’t think I’ve EVER gone more than a couple months without seeing my family, or best friends. Perhaps that is my weakest point. I know I’m a strong, pretty awesome, individual, but I also know that I depend upon my family and friends to keep me grounded. No matter how upset, angry, confused, distracted, or silly I’m feeing, I know there is someone I can talk to or call to make me feel loved, appreciated, and listened to.

I know the only one I need to fully rely on is God. He IS my Father; he does love me and know what’s best for me. He will hold me in the palm of his hand, so to speak. He will guide me and take care of me. I know this and yet I still feel apprehension. I have been so used to relying on my family/friends that I have so easily forgotten where my true foundation should lie, which, when you think about it is pretty silly, because if you put your complete dependence on friends and family you will always be let down in one way or another. Unfortunately, I have built a pretty comfortable home on this foundation and, for reasons unbeknownst to me, am reluctant to move.

HA! What a great epiphany to have the day before I report to the MTC!

Everyone keeps telling me that I’m ‘going to be a great missionary,’ perhaps that’s another reason for the apprehension. I don’t want to not be a ‘great’ missionary. I have been dreaming about this experience since I was 14!!!!! I’ve waited so long and it is my greatest fear that I’m not going to cut it. That I’m going to fail. I don’t even know exactly what would make me fail…failing really isn’t my style. Failing would mean giving up, and with exception of knitting, I’ve never really given up.

So here I am with all this apprehension knotting up my stomach and there isn’t any reason for it. Yes, my foundation isn’t exactly squared with where it should be, but I know how to fix it, and I am…fixing it. Failing…ha!

I’m not going to fail! I’m Casey Pappas!!!... That said, i guess that next time you hear from me I'll be on my mission...crazy huh?


(Note to people who like to leave comments: please do not write in your comment any other ways I have fail besides knitting, it will destroy my spirit of confidence…also do not say: “you are going to be such a great missionary,” its cheesy and as I have just expressed it fills me with anxiety…you can’t even say it mockingly…Hernan…I’m talking to you….you are going to do it aren’t you….I knew it. Ha! Now you’re not! Dang! Now I have no idea what you will say…now you won’t say anything…now you’ll write me that I’ll be a great missionary in Spanish…)

The Past Three Months in a Post...

A couple of months ago I thought December 1st would never come, but now that it is so close I can't believe its here already... though of course besides work I have tried to keep myself pretty busy!
I was so busy in September preparing for the Mission that I hardly noticed the time fly and too soon it was already October!

Anthony's Senior Pics-
My little brother is a Senior!!! I can't believe it! I am so sad I have to miss his graduation. Danita took his portraits and I got to tag along :) my little brother is so cute!

General Conference
I had the opportunity to go to General Conference on a road trip with a couple of friends! it lasted only a few days but it was just what I needed to keep me motivated and going. this was the first year that I went to Utah but didn't get seats in the conference center...instead we enjoyed the sun and laid in the grass...perhaps its a good thing that they publish the talks in November!

The Script-
on October 14th my sisters and I went to a concert for The Script in Portland... you've probably heard "the man who can't be moved" and/or "breakeven" i assure you the rest of their songs are just as amazing as those! ...if you haven't heard of this band you need to listen to them. I Guarantee you will love them too!

My favorite script song!

Anthony's Play-
My little brother is a Senior in High School and he took part in the fall play, it was an improv play based on the story of 'the three little pigs' it was interesting to say the least...but the costumes were pretty cool, My brother looked like a pimp and Connor (an AWESOME kid from our ward) played the wolf...he truly stole the show!

Time is flying-
and now i have two weeks! that's 14 days! 336 hours!! 20,160 minutes!!! ...i can't believe it! I've packed and unpacked twice already and although I can't imagine how horrible it will be to say goodbye to my family, I am ready to go!

Clothes Clothes Clothes!!!

As many people know Sister Missionaries don't exactly get to dress in everyday clothes. So instead of boxing up all of my clothes for a year and a half of storage, I decided to give them away. There is a girl in my ward who, after many unfortunate experiences, found herself taken away from her home and in need of extra clothes. personally, I think she looks way cuter in them than I ever did :)

Turning Toward the Temple!

Seaside, Oregon
September 24, 2010

"For the first time"
I did it...after years and years of waiting on September 22nd I was able to enter the Holy Temple of the Lord for the first time.

I couldn't tell you if it was raining or sunny. I couldn't tell you how long it took or who it was that came to support me.

I couldn't tell you what it looked like inside or even what I felt while I was inside. I guess I can only say how I feel about it now... peace.

Don't ask me to repeat anything I learned because even if I could tell you, I wouldn't remember anything!

But I have felt more peace in the last few weeks than I have in the last two months.

I am so excited to go again and again.

I had the opportunity to go through the Portland Temple again with my sister and then the Salt Lake Temple on during General Conference weekend!

It was so exciting!!!!

The Spirit of Missionary Work

Seaside Ward is pretty much the coolest ward right now. not only do we have two missionaries out in the field right now, but like I said in an earlier post three more are headed out in the next three months! (myself included :) Last sunday was fast sunday and the ward was told that we also have three baptisms this month!

One of the girls, Angelique, is a friend of the Morgan, a young woman in the ward, she knew a couple of mormon boys in her class and when she joined the Cheerleaders at the begining of August she met Morgan! she started asking questions and VOILA! here she is getting baptized this month!

Stephanie started the discussions around the same time as Angelique. I actually knew her from before, she is one of the tellers at Wells Fargo bank, I always thought she was nice and was really excited to see her at church a few weeks ago. She started dating a guy in the ward and now five weeks later...VOILA!

then there is Brother Bourne (technically not 'brother' yet but I forget his first name ). His wife has been coming to the seaside ward dilligently for a while. She prepared herself to go to the temple and I guess that showed him something because he since started taking missionary discussions and now he's decided to take the plunge. :)


Rewind to last month! Cool story!!!
Brother Hoekstre has been taking the missionary discussions for years! his family moved here from Ranier a few years ago. His kids are awesome! Gretchen gets up every fast sunday and bears her testimony, and it is not a regular kids testimony, she always make people cry and just states simple truths with the power of the spirit! Karen is an AMAZING woman that I have looked up to for the longest time. I didn't know much about her husband.

But when he got baptized 250 people showed up for his baptism from all over. and the guy who baptized him flew from Hawaii to do so. this wasn't just about the decision of one guy. It was the about the power of faith, the faith of a family and the faith of an entire community.

The Gospel is true! it takes some people moments to gain a testimony of that and it takes some people years. But when somebody finally does accept the gospel, the feeling is incredible for that person and everyone around them. I can't wait to be a missionary!!!

Spanish 101

the language is coming...slowly :) I'm understanding a lot better than I can speak and I have a whole host of teachers willing and ready to help.

Memo, a kid I work with is speaking to me in Spanish more and more asking me all sorts of questions and trying to get me to reply in Spanish. although, i'm pretty sure sometimes he tells me to say cuss words cause I'll repeat what he says and he will start laughing uncontrollably. Its also really funny when we start having a conversation in his broken english and my broken spanish and we'll get to a point when neither of us knows what the other is saying...then we just have to start all over :P

After the first week of lessons with Mari we had to stop because her daughter was getting married (Congratulations Joel and Monica!) but we are resuming again this week, which will help a lot!

Hernan has taken it upon himself to teach me Spanish and has even given me homework. which is surprisingly nice to have. with everybody going back to school and me staying at home, I definitely need something to focus on that uses brain power! Also I am being given a sentence every few days to memorize. that is way fun! especially for my family who gets to hear me repeat 'should we do something fun today?' five hundred gazillion times a day!!!! they should just be thankful they don't have to hear me ramble when I'm driving

Santiago, another guy I work with, also is really helpful. He is trying to learn English fluently so does not like speaking Spanish in the workplace, however upon finding out what I am doing is more than willing to teach me a few things... :)

Finally, Aunt Debi is just as bad/good as Hernan. in fact her first lesson for me was EXACTLY like his, almost word for word! 'learn the vowels a e i o u. repeat them again. keep them crisp and clear. open your mouth wide when you say them....etc.' as difficult and perfectionistic as they are, i'm sure i'll be thankful for it.

I know I'm not the first nor will I be the last to learn another language...and just like anything else, its really hard! but it will be worth it! of that I have no doubt.

The Waiting Game...85 days

So here I am, ochenta y cinco dias until I report to the MTC. I can't believe I still have three months until I leave. Two other people in my homeward got their calls after me in August, Austin is leaving for Kentucky on October 6th and Dalton is going to Guam, leaving November 3rd!

...not that I'm jealous or anything because they're leaving before me...but I kind of am...even though I would take El Salvador over either one of those (even Guam!) and waiting an extra month or two is worth it...right?

About a week after getting my call I got a thick envelope from LDS travel services giving me a list of all the paperwork I needed before I went. it outlined what immunizations to get, and how to get my passport. I also need to send in a copy of my birth certificate and an official police letter stating my good standing as a citizen in the community. not only do i have to get those I have to send them into the Secretary of States office to get an apostille (if anybody knows exactly what an apostille is or what its good for please feel free to explain it to me!).

after getting that letter I thought time was going to be eaten up as I busied myself with these preparations...however, going to Kenya was the best preparation for that. All my immunizations are done as well as my passport. my birth certificate only took a week and a half to get instead of the five they said it would take...and I'm not supposed to get the police letter until two weeks before I enter the MTC. So I am finished for now, and all I can do is wait.

Called to Serve

Hey! I have a new blog, thank you Hernan :)

So this is it! I have been called to serve the people in the El Salvador, San Salvador West/Belize Mission.
I report to the Provo MTC Wednesday, Decebember 1st.

It is so hard for me to express how excited I am for this opportunity. Whe
n people asked me where I thought I was going to be called I didn't know how to answer, anybody who knows me knows I would want to go somewhere new, somewhere foreign, preferably somewhere I would learn a new language. I wanted this so badly that I have spent the last couple months preparing myself to serve somewhere like Minnesota, or Wisconsin. I didn't realize I had actually convinced myself I would stay in the U.S. until I opened my mission call. When I read where I was going I couldn't believe it, I couldn't even breathe. This is exactly where I want to go...I didn't think that happened with mission calls...

r the initial shock of my call I started to get nervous, as this is someplace completely different than my home. I don't know the language, I don't know the people, and I don't know the culture. However, when I am taken from the life I know now and placed in a life that is not my own, he will guide me, protect me, and help me make El Salvador my home. I know its going to take a lot of faith for me to jump, but as I do, I know he will catch me. In fact, it has already started.

Mari Mitchell, an amazing woman in my home ward from Colombia, has already started to give me Spanish lessons. A few years ago a boy from my homeward served in my mission and is going to show me pictures and answer questions. Also a boy from my sister's ward served in San Salvador West and I will get to talk to him. The Lord has surrounded me with resources and has given me time to truly prepare for my mission.

People say I have a long time to wait, but as the days slip by I am realizing more and more that I have so much to do before I go. I am hoping to read the entire Book of Mormon in English in the next couple months and then start it again and read it side by side with a Spanish copy. I hope to read through Preach my Gospel and have at least an idea of how to organize a study journal. I need to strengthen my testimony and my faith in the Lord and his will. From the moment I step into the field I want to be ready to be an instrument in the hands of God. I pray for the strength and the faith to do so.