Thursday, December 29, 2011

Arriving in Germany!

New crop of missionaries arriving to the Berlin mission

Ariel & Sister Stewart leaving the mission home with all Ariel's luggage :)

Willkommen nach Deutschland!

So I have arrived safely to Berlin. The first day here has been rough. I successfully got rid of anything I have ever eaten in the 21 years I have been on this earth. At 1am I woke up really nauseous and then from 2:30am-1:00pm I've been throwing up and having really horrible trips to the bathroom (imagine any time you've ever felt horrifically sick and ever imagined how your body could be treating you so terribly). I'm sure you all wanted to know. Accompanying all of that has been body aches and chills and then heat waves.
I'm feeling a lot better today. I spent all day at the mission office and mission home while Sister Pimentel took care of me or Sister Monson in the mission office. I've taken 3 long naps which have helped a lot! Also I've only eaten three crackers today and three glasses of water and am doing much better at keeping food inside me. Tomorrow we will have our Golden Conference and find out who our trainers will be and what area we will serve in. They call us "goldens" not "greenies" (Most missions refer to their new missionary arrivals as Greenies) here because they say we're magical, like gold :) Our p-days are Monday so I'll get to email you then! I hope you are all doing well and that you're keeping food down! I love you all.
-Ariel Nell

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

From the airport

Ariel was able to squeeze in a 45 minute phone conversation with us on Monday as she began her travels to Germany. She seemed in good spirits and said that the missionaries had the option of eating before their flight or calling home. Only a couple of the missionaries she traveled with opted to call their families. You can bet Ariel was the first one to the pay phones. It was wonderful to hear her voice and chat with her. She sounded anxious about her trip and just wants to "be in Germany already!" We're thrilled for her and this time seems to go by quickly but slowly. Ariel's travel time to Germany was extensive - travelling from Salt Lake City to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Then a connecting flight from Minneapolis to Amsterdam and then onto Germany. We haven't heard if they made it yet, but after a long phone call to Delta, they were finally able to confirm that Ariel's flight landed. An "in flight" status online for over 24 hours was kind of confusing :)

She thinks her P-Days will be on Mondays, so we're expecting to here from her next week. For anyone wanting to send letters, start using the Germany address!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Last Emails From MTC - The actual last one

Merry Christmas Family!!

   So the MTC just let us know this morning that we would be able to email our families for Christmas! How fun! Es ist ein Weihnachten Wunder as we like to say (a Christmas miracle). So this morning I woke up at the normal 6:30, showered, and then got dressed and opened my Christmas gifts! Thank you all so much! I love it and I love seeing everyone's pictures inside! That's something the mission has definitely made me appreciate so much more, pictures!

   How was your Christmas morning? Did you get to take lots of pictures?? I'd love to see! This morning we got to have sacrament meeting as a whole MTC together, all 2,120 missionaries. It was really impressive to see how they were able to accomplish it. Elder Bednar also came with his wife to attend our sacrament meeting and talk to us. He and his wife did a fantastic job! Elder Bednar talked to us about turning towards others instead of focusing on ourselves like the natural man. He explained that Elder Neal A. Maxwell said once that "There would have been no atoning sacrifice without the character of Christ." Elder Bednar said that the character of Christ was in the midst of affliction he turns outward to help others instead of focusing on himself. Cookie monster, he said, is the perfect example of the natural man. And Elder Bednar proceeded to talk like cookie monster," me want cookies now,  me want baptisms now, me want investigators now!!!"  while pounding the podium. It was quite funny but it got the point across. Something interesting about German is the word to repent means to turn around or turn back. Elder Bednar was saying that when we repent we're turning back to God so that our focus can be on others. He challenged us to lose ourselves in the work of serving others before we can work on ourselves to have the character of Christ more upon us. when we do that we tend to find ourselves in the service of others without intending to. Then at the end he gave us a blessing and said that according to our desire and diligence we will increase in our understanding of the character of the Lord Jesus Christ, and with that will come every gift of the spirit that we will need for the rest of our lives to never fall away and lose this gospel from our lives. It was really a wonderful spirit and he said so much more but I'll share with you all some more through letters! Having him speak to us was like drinking from a fire hydrant but it was WONDERFUL! I really learned a lot about Jesus Christ today and what kind of person I need to be. I am really far from there but I'm excited to change my focus onto others and be a better disciple of Christ.

    We just had our Christmas lunch of turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes. It was fun to eat a semi-homey meal. We then walked up to the Provo temple one last time, took some pictures, and now I'm emailing you all! I'm pretty much all packed. I got all of it done yesterday and right now I'm under on both bags. One is 45 and the other is 48 lbs. (When flying, if their luggage goes over the weight limit, they have to pay extra) I did not count in the fact that I have used a lots of things that won't be coming with me to Germany.  I miss you all very much and hope that y'all have a really fun Christmas filled with love and smiles and laughter and perhaps a fire!  Dad make sure you play "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" on the piano . I was thinking about that the other day how I used to sit with you and sing along while you played. Mumma I'm sorry I'm not there to help with cooking. Dad said you're having lamb for christmas! I hope you all enjoy it and fill your bellys with wonderfulness. Be sure to share with me all your Christmas stories and all the events that have transpired between today and tomorrow morning when I get to talk to you. (Missionaries can get to call their families from the airport when they are going International. Ariel plans on calling from the Salt Lake City airport before her flight)

I love you all. Have a fabulous Christmas day! Remember Christ today and I'll talk to you all TOMORROW!!! Oh meine gute, I may just wet my pants with excitement!

Love you all,
 Ariel Nell

Last Emails from the MTC - The 1st One

 Hey family!!
Can you believe it!?  It’s almost time to go! I had breakfast this morning (12/24) but I've got so much nerves I don't think that was a good idea. I'm so excited to go to Germany and to talk to you all my breakfast may just come right back up! Thank you EVERYONE for the emails today! I loved hearing from you all and thank you for your last words of advice and encouragement. Mum, thank you so very much for the boots and gloves and knee highs. (Christmas gifts) As I am typing this last email from the MTC I am wearing a dress you made and me new knee highs and gorgeous new boots! All the sisters love them too!! :) I'm sorry I forgot to tell you all that I did get the package with all the Christmas gifts and the second package last night. You should be proud of me I haven't opened anything wrapped! I've tried to convince the other missionaries to wait till tomorrow too but some just couldn't handle it and have already opened everything. Quite funny!

   So this week we had to say good-bye to our teachers Bruder Hill and Bruder Pedersen. I felt like mum and dad were dropping me off at LSU again and sending me off into the world. We have become a family to one another and its sad to leave everyone but its for a really good reason. Our last day with both teachers they brought pictures of the actual investigator they were playing. (I'm not sure if I told you all but every investigator we taught was someone that they did) It was really neat to see pictures of Ming, Peter, and Dieter. They also had pictures of where they served and many German traditions. I'm excited to experience a new culture and a new people. I learned to embrace and love the people of Louisiana and their wonderful culture I'm sure the same will happen for Deutschland! Yesterday we spent the entire day in in-field orientation and it was phenomenal!! They went through contacting people in the airport, in parks, wherever, using members, setting goals, and having faith in all that we do. We did a bunch of workshops and had a lot of role-plays and discussions. It was really good and made me really excited to travel on Monday. From what we have been told we will spend a few days in the mission home training with our trainer and we should be with our trainer for the next two tranfers, which takes us to then end of March! Time is flying by too quickly already!

  Tonight we get to watch a movie and eat popcorn. Tomorrow a general authority is supposed to come and speak to us, we're going to have a giant sacrament meeting, a Christmas lunch just like at Thanksgiving so our workers can go home to their families, and then we're going to run around like chickens with our heads cut off trying to do some last minute packing :)

   I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas filled with lots of love and peace and joy and yummy yummy food! I'm sorry this is not a very interesting email but I just wanted my wonderful family to know how much I love and miss you all! Thanks for telling me whats going on in your lives. I really enjoy hearing about you all and what you're doing. If there is anything I can do for you all just send a holler! I love you! Be good, have fun, get along, and remember to live in the moment and don't worry so much about the future. As long as you're doing what you're supposed to everything will work its self out.

   Love you all, be good and have a Fröliche Weincahten bitte! Ich habe Sie alle Lieb! Tschüss bis Montag wann ich kann rufen Sie an!!!
-Liebe Ariel Nell :)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Almost the last Email from the MTC! - Deutschland in ein Woche!!

Hello beautiful family!!
   So this will be the second to last email you will be getting from me. Since we leave on our P-day, next monday, they are giving us p-day on saturday so I'lI get to email you all then too! On Thursday we all got our itinerary so I shall let you know how my traveling will be. They have made me the traveling leader and put me in charge of everyones tickets and getting everyone to Germany. I'm not sure if I like all this responsibility.... Anyways for our flight plans: We leave at 9:54am from Salt Lake City  to Minneapolis, MN arriving at 1:37pm. Then fly from Minneapolis to Amsterdam, Netherlands arriving at 6:35am on the December 27th. The last flight at 8:00am from Amsterdam to Berlin arriving at 9:25am. It's going to be a long day of traveling but we're all very excited. The Alpine missionaries will actually be stopping in Atlanta on the 26th, so lucky!

    On Tuesday for the devotional we got to hear from Elaine S. Dalton again. She talked to us about three gifts: gifts in unfamiliar packages, spiritual gifts, and gifts we give the world. I really enjoyed her inspiring words. She told us that we have the grand priviledge to do here on earth what we did in the premortal world: to share our testimonies of Christ. Yesterday with my district we watched a talk given by Jeffrey R. Holland about the miracles of a mission. He explained that the same battle we fought in our pre-existence, whether to choose to follow Heavenly Father and Christ or Satan, is the same battle we are fighting here on earth. We're just in a new arena. It's interesting to me that everything we do here is because of what happened there. It just shows how extremely important understanding the plan of salvation is.

    My district was interviewed by a Swiss radio station, Schweizer Radio DRS. The reporter said it was the equivalent to NPR but in Switzerland. An MTC PR man found me a few days before the interview and said that should the Swiss reporter want to interview one-on-one with someone they chose me to be the Sister representative. When we actually got to be interviewed he didn't pull any of us out, but he did go around asking questions. He wanted a Sister to respond in German and asked if anyone would be willing. My whole district pointed to me and so I responded to a question of his all auf Deutsch! Cool huh?! He asked what our daily schedule was so I explained some of the regular things we do each day. It certainly was no where close to good grammar but it was a neat experience of being a representative of Jesus Christ. The MTC people told us that normally the European missions only get 1 VIP interview a year, and now they've had 5 in the past 3 months, our district participating in two of them! After interviewing us the Swiss reporter was so intrigued that he has decided to write two articles instead of the planned one. One about the church and one just about the MTC. The MTC PR man said that if it is published they will send it to our missions so we can see the articles. I sure do hope so!

    On Thursday we had our last appointment with our investigator Ming. He got baptized on Saturday. It was such a bitter-sweet thing to have our last lesson with him. We taught about temples and eternal families and committed him to prepare himself to enter into the temple once he is baptized. I had the opportunity of baring my testimony of how grateful I am that one day I may be sealed forever to someone in the temple, so that we can be good examples to our children and raise them in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  So to all of you who are married, I hope you realize what a blessing the temple is and that you see it in your lives each day!

    Daniel and Rebecca Winters are both in the MTC now and last night they did a vocal duet together of The First Noel. It was really cute to see! I saw Daniel a few days earlier and said hi and he asked if he knew me. I felt a little awkward but explained I grew up with Rebecca and am friends with Aubree Stoddard. Today since the temple is closed we don't get to attend a session but we have the opportunity to clean it. I'm really looking forward to it!! I'll tell you all how it goes on Saturday when I get to email again!

   Sunday was a really hard day. Realizing how close Christmas is made me really home sick. In Relief Society, I think they tried to make us not homesick but having the daughters of the Relief Society Presidency talk about Christmas in their missions, that just made me a balling mess. It's like I want to be in the mission or at home for Christmas, just not in the MTC. Its a learning experience for sure.

   OH!!!! you'll all love this! In Relief Society they said "a wonderful company gave us make up for Christmas, please don't throw it away." Too funny :) All the Sisters in my district turned and looked at me when they made that announcement.

    I'm out of time, but I love you all so very much. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your support. It's such a blessing to know so many people are behind me! I love you all! Have a fabulous week!
-ariel nell

Monday, December 12, 2011

Picture Time - part 4 (Captions provided by Ariel)

Our district (19B) huddling for warmth. 12/4/11

Sister Noyes & I watching the sunset. November 2011

(L to R) Sisters Hatch, Noyes, me & Smart. November 2011

(L to R) Sisters Hatch, Noyes, me & Smart. November 2011

(L to R) Me, Sister Hatch & Sister Noyes. November 2011

(L to R) Sister Smart, Me & Sister Noyes. November 2011

All of us freezing outside. 12/4/11

Sister Hatch & I. Sunday 12/4/11

Me all decked out for the cold. 12/4/11. Tell Tammi thank you for the scarf and gloves!


I've got two weeks left until Deutschalnd day!!! How exciting??!! We're all getting really excited to finally get to Germany but upset to leave everyone. Half of my district will be going to the Alpine mission, which includes Austria, Switzerland, and Lichtenstein. It'll be sad to say goodbye to all of them. The MTC wanted to let our families know that no packages will be accepted after the 23rd of December but I don't expect any coming because I think it's headed to Deutschland right? and in case you forgot I will not have the opportunity to call home on Christmas. (Missionaries usually only get to call home twice a year - Mother's Day and Christmas) I think they're will be close to 2500 missionaries here on Christmas so you can see how difficult that would be.

    Here are some funny stories from the week. Tuesday morning I heard someone's alarm go off so I dutifully got out of bed and on my knees and began saying my morning prayer. Mid-prayer Sister Curtis goes, "Sister Abamonte, it's 4:30 in the morning." So I stopped praying and got back into bed. Come to find out another sister in our room had set her alarm so she could get up and help Sisters in her district leave for the Peru MTC. I felt silly but how would I know what time it was. It wasn't my alarm clock! :) I had a dream this past week that I was reading in the Bible and the verses went something like," and God said to honor the Fleur De Lis and LSU is of God." I'm pretty sure that's not in the Bible anywhere but in my dream I was pointing it out to one of my Louisiana friends. I'm pretty sure it's blasphemy to be making up scriptures too. Oops! At dinner two nights ago I was explaining that I liked fried okra. In mid-chew of a tator tot (kind of like fried potatoes no bigger than your thumb) one Elder goes," You like fried OPRAH?!" and then I laughed and tator tot went up my nose. It is an unpleasant feeling to have to blow your nose because it's stuffed of tator tots. Elder Hemsley, one of our zone leaders, enjoys rapping about Gospel Principles or the various things we have to memorize in German. I asked him this week if he thought we could ever punch Satan and he goes," yeah, everytime someone is baptized." I thought that was funny. And last, I had an epic fail in teaching an investigator this week. Jose was curious about how it would be alright for Nephi to kill Laban. Sister Noyes told me I should pull out the scripture in Doctrine and Covenants that the Lord explains why it was okay. Its in D&C 98: 24-32. I accidentally started reading from verse 14 which talks all about renouncing war and turning the Jews to the Prophets and the Prophets to the Jews. He was quite confused. And so was I when I realized I had no idea what the scripture was talking about that I was reading. Moral of the story: know your scriptures in German so you can teach them on the fly in German.

    We got 25 new missionaries in this past Wednesday. They make our group of the older missionaries look soooo small. There are only 4 new sisters so it was easy to learn their names and faces but I can't ever recognize all the Elders and certainly not their names. Thats something I've got to work on. This Wednesday we get to host which is where we open car doors and lead the new missionaries around to get the various items they need when they first get to the MTC. It should be fun and quite cold but we're all excited!

       Elder Snow from the Presidency of the Quorum of the Seventy and his wife came this past Tuesday. Something that Elder Snow said that hit me pretty hard was that I'm a full-time missionary. Full-time missionary service will define me as a person. It made me think that I can't "check-out" as a missionary. I have to work full time and give the Lord my entire forcus and will. This is not my time, its the Lords'. In class this past week we got to watch a clip from a devotional that David A. Bednar gave several years ago in the MTC. He spoke about how to recognize that we're teaching with the Spirit. His suggestion: quit worrying about it! He said as long as we are being good boys and good girls, honoring our covenants, keeping the commandments, and doing our absolute best the Lord will fill our mouths with the words we need and put us in the places or with the people we need to be. He related a really neat story from his mission that Elder Packer spoke of in a talk entitled, "The 20 mark note".  He gave the talk to BYU-Idaho students. If you can, see if you can find it and read it. It was really interesting. And Elder Bednar served in Germany which is even cooler ;) On Sunday Sister Noyes and I sang in sacrament "Tochter Zion" a German Christmas hymn only in our German hymn books. I got one of the other sisters to record us singing and will be mailing Bryan the SD card so you all should be able to hear us! Sunday evening we got to have our fireside given by the BYU mens chorus. It was really nice to just hear Christmas music and not have to take notes. Nothing like Spelman and Moorehouse but the best I could get out here :)

   Please do tell me what happens between Alabama and LSU! Thanks for your emails! and letters! and dear elders! I love hearing from everyone and knowing what you're up to. OH!!! I was able to do an endowment session for another german today, Ottilie Kause. :) I love you all and I hope you are all safe and well! I pray for you always! Thanks for all your support. It means the world to me! Remember to be good boys and good girls, honor your covenants, keep the commandments, and do your very best!!! LOVE YOU!
- Ariel Nell

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Picture Time - part 3 (Captions by Ariel)

(L to R) Sister Hatch, Noyes, me, and Smart at the Provo Temple

Elders Hanson & Hemsley, our zone leaders in personal study

Christmas decorations on our window in the classroom

Our Christmas tree

Our tree again :)

LSU flower at Provo temple!

(L to R) Sister Noyes and I, headed to the temple

Laundry time - writing in journals & letters and reading letters

Picture Time - part two (captions by Ariel)

Sister Stowell. She had black ducktape on her lip and the German flag behind her desk. How could I not take a picture :)

(L to R) Sister Smart, Hatch, Noyes, Stowell, Floyd, and me in our room 17M #387

Sunset on November 20,2011

Sunset from temple walk, looking at Oquirrn mountains. November 20,2011

Pink sunset, November 20,2011

White on the bottom of the picture is SNOW!

SNOW! Mt. Timpanogos

Provo Temple

Me & Sister Stowell

Sister Noyes & me

Picture Time! (captions provided by Ariel)

Snow on the Mountains on our way to the Provo temple. I have no idea who the girls are in the bottom of the picture, their heads were in the way

Playing in the leaves on our way to the Provo temple. ( me and Sister Noyes)

Here is my name tag. The orange dot is now on the back on the tag, but signifies that you're a newbie ;)

Sister Noyes & I

My cute Anthropologie outfit :) (Cardigan courtesy of Mum; skirt courtesy of Dad)

Here's a map in our classroom that shows three Missions in Germany

Monday, December 5, 2011

MTC - Week Six! "Baby It's COLD Outside"

Hey everyone,
So this past Tuesday, we got to hear from Elder Kazuhiko Yamashita of the Quorum of the Seventy. He and his wide spoke about being missionaries and how we can be better teachers. His wife said that our companion is our first investigator. I really liked that. Preach My Gospel (missionary training book) says that you can only convert someone as far as your own conversion. By working with our companions we can build and strengthen our testimonies. Usually when we have guests come to the MTC to talk to us, they get us to sing “Called to Serve”. I’m starting to feel that “Called To Serve” is our “trick” that we can do. You know, like when people will visit your house and you show them all the tricks your dog can do like play dead and shake? Well ours is belting out “Called To Serve”. It’s fun though!

One thing I really like about the MTC is when you are walking around outside you can usually hear the Haka being chanted by the Samoan and Tongan Elders. Sometimes they do the actions too! The cafeteria likes to serve fish. It is a bit disconcerting since there is no ocean nearby for miles. I do not trust their fish, but one night they made “fish ‘n chips” for dinner. I, of course, was quite excited, but like any Italian Scottish child would do, I asked if they had malt vinegar (for this is the ONLY way an Abamonte shall eat fish ‘n chops) and the people go, “We had red vinegar?” Hahahaha! One day they too shall learn the wonderfulness of malt vinegar, until then – they’ll just never know.

So Elder Anderson, an Elder in my district, is really big into marching band and I think plans on going into music when he finally goes to college. He and I were talking about music the other night and how difficult the Melophone, as relative to the French Horn, is. Then and Elder from our Zone piped up and said that the Flute was the hardest instrument. I have to say that I laughed. Elder Anderson and I explained to him that it wasn’t considered in the category of very difficult instruments like the French Horn, Bassoon, and Oboe. But he was insistent. It was very funny to me. That made me laugh for the rest of the night. Sorry guys, I know that may not be funny to you, but you should have seen how serious he got. :)

Sister Noyes and I auditioned to perform “Oh Holy Night” at the MTC in a meeting. They sent us a letter that said we were assigned to the Senior missionaries orientation today, but we had to turn it down because at the time, we thought Sister Noyes had a hernia. She has been having some abdominal pains so we spent 2 ½ hours on Friday at the doctors, and 2 ½ on Saturday there too. Saturday night she though, she almost passed out in class. So we headed to the front desk and got to go to the ER at Inter-mountain Utah Valley Regional Medical Center. We got there at 9:15pm, They gave her insulin, drew her blood, made her pee in a cup, and did an abdominal ultrasound, a CT scan. At 2:15am we were told that she had a little cyst on her ovary. They didn’t discharge her until 3:15am and we didn’t arrive back to our room until 3:30am. I got 3 ½ hours of sleep that Sunday morning. I have to say I’ve never been more exhausted in my LIFE!!! When you are worked all day and used to going to bed at 10:30pm, 11:30pm feels like an all-nighter! And there were some interesting people that come out of the wood-work in Utah to go to the ER that late at night! It was good though that we were able to figure out what was wrong with Sister Noyes and that she and I got to have a fun bonding experience. :)

On Wednesday we get 25 new Deutschers, only 5 new sisters. Right now in our Zone, we have more Sisters than Elders, pretty nifty! Today, Tuesday and Wednesday we are all only speaking German to one another. It helps us to practice trying to get things our when we can’t exactly say what we want. And it strengthens what we already know. We also need to be good examples to the new missionaries coming in for our German. We got to watch the Christmas Devotional last night and that was really fun. Although, because I hadn’t had much sleep, I heard President Eyring says that Christ gave us Light for Christmas and then slept through the rest of his talk. But Uchtdorf and President Monson and MOTAB (Mormon Tabernacle Choir) did a fabulous job. Yesterday was also Elder Hanson’s, an Elder in our district, birthday. All the sisters got together random things we had and gave him presents. Sister Stowell made a tie for a sheet she found in the giveaway box. Another Sister gave him glow sticks. Brent, I’m sorry, but I gave him the Dream eye-cover you gave me and he loved it most! So, well done on helping an Elder out on his birthday! We also managed to find a pin that said “Birthday Girl”. All the other Elders complained that they weren’t having their birthdays in the MTC, so I think we did a good job.

This morning, I got to do some temple work with Sister Noyes. I had two German ladies (one from 1615), a French lady, a Native American, and a good ‘ole Georgia Peach. I like all the different names we get to do. We are all being investigators for one another and I’m pretending to be Nana (Paul’s mother, Marie Bubnich). If anyone has information about her conversion, I’d love to have that so I can better be her. I was trying to channel her the other day pretending to be her. I figured she would believe just regular things that the Catholic Church teaches if anything, so hopefully that was right!

Last, to go out with a funny store, Elder Hemsley says, “Come on Elder.” Elder Hansom replies, “Where are we going?” Elder Hemsley responds, “To the bat cave son!” Yes, they were going  to do more planning (in the toilet). They sure are silly, but they keep our time here full of laughter. Sister Stowell has been praying for focus, or so she though. She kept saying “ablenken”. Funny thing is – it really means distraction! She has now figured out why we she can’t focus :) haha! Well, I love you all, hope you’re doing well. Thanks for all your love and support!!! OH! And could Santa send me another hat? Its FREEZING here; just wait till I get to Deutschland!!
-Ariel Nell