Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Dear Family,
Well another week has gone by and let me tell you the time has started moving really fast. It honestly feels like I emailed you yesterday. So things here are so exciting as we prepare to open a new mission! I feel so blessed to be a part of this amazing experience. Big changes are headed here to Hamilton and it will be interesting to see what happens. We had our final meeting with President Lekias and his wife. It was a little weird because it was the second time that I have ever met him and it was also the last. The other missionaries were all emotional and the five of us that got here at the beginning of the month just felt really bad that we weren't sad. It was pretty awkward. But seriously I came here knowing that I was going to be in the Hamilton Mission and that I would have a different Mission President. It is just so crazy to think that I am one of the first missionaries in the New Zealand Hamilton Mission!
Well not much happened this week. During the hours that we aren't in the VC, my companion and I just walk around our three streets hoping that one of the members will let us in to share a message. Sometimes I feel really useless but I guess that Heavely Father just wants me to learn a lesson. Two of the non-member homes won't even open their door for us. I can totally see them watching us from inside and they still don't open their doors. Its so sad. Anyways its their choice. Right now we are really working with this one family. The wife is an active member but the Husband is a returning member who has been disfellowshiped but he is working really hard to come back. They hope that everything will be resolved by September and they are aiming to be sealed as a family by the end of the year. We are just trying to strengthen them. The wife says that our lessons help him stay strong against the temptations so that makes me feel a little better. We are just really trying to find our place in this ward and find where the work is. Oh! So last night we went to visit this lady who hasn't been to church in like 8 years and she let us in and her husband was there who isn't a member and he listened to our message and they both said that we could come back again and teach them so please pray that he will soften his heart that we may have a real investigator. I just want to teach so bad. I have been here for two-and-a-half weeks and I haven't even taught the first lesson yet. I just hope that maybe we can teach this man and help his wife come back to church.
So I have been making a list of things to tell you about and so I am just going to go for it. Now I have never "loved" chocolate because it isn't New Zealand chocolate. This stuff is made in heaven. I LOVE NEW ZEALAND CHOCOLATE! There is nothing else like it. I will have to send some home because it is sooooo good. I cannot even explain it. The members give it to us all the time so we are always eating it and it never gets old. I am telling you Mom, you would die.
It gives me great pleasure to announce that short shorts are alive and well here with the men of NZ. That's right, the men here (even members) wear short shorts! It is the grossest thing. The women don't wear shorts but the men sure do and it drives me crazy. It is winter here and it is freezing and they still all run around in their jean cutoffs. I cannot imagine what it is going to be like this summer.
This brings me to another topic: the cold. Yes it is freezing here and it rains like crazy. I love the rain but not when I am walking around in it. Luckily I have some amazing boots that keep my feet dry and warm (I will never be able to think you enough Cassie). The cold is so different than New Mexico cold though because of the moisture in the air. It is awful. But its crazy because its freezing but everything else is still green. Watch the Lord of the Rings again when they are in the Shire and that's what it really looks like. Everything is so green and beautiful.
Now back to the Lord of the Rings, "the shire" or where they filmed the movies is in my zone so technically I could go but it is like $70 NZ dollars which means $50 American dollars. Do you thing that its worth it? Should I go? We are all debating whether or not we should go on a P-Day. Let me know what you think.
Because we don't have anyone to teach we do a lot of service. So earlier this week we hiked up to this huge house in the other sister's ward to pain this fence for them. The lady who owns the house uses it a bed and breakfast. I will send a picture of it. Anyways we were going to help them paint this huge fence but because it had been raining we couldn't so we just did stuff for her around the house. But this place was so cool because she had all of these animals. There were little ponies, alpacas, goats, and all kinds of other animals. So I will send some pictures of those. There was this one huge goat sitting by the road and I touched it but then it made this weird sounds and it got up and started to run after me. Luckily it was tied to the fence. It scared the crap out of me though and we all had a good laugh.
I am also that being a missionary hasn't changed my personality t0o much. Last night we were walking over the flat where two other sisters live and one of them was washing dishes by the window and I couldn't resist. I went up and banged on the glass as loud as I could. Sister Holmes jumped and dropped whatever she was holding. Now the window is made of frosted glass and it was dark outside so she couldn't see me but she still yelled "Sister Simkins!!" Hahahaha I laughed so hard. I really do love the other sisters that I serve with. We have so much fun together. It makes be a missionary that much greater.
My companion and I are doing better. She is talking more and I think she getting used to my personality. She make really good food all the time so that is a plus.
Now have you heard about the church college here? Well the church built this college here in the 1950's and they closed it in 2009 for some reason and now they are getting ready to tare it down and they are going to build this massive stake center and the mission office and other church buildings so it is really exciting. However, the members here are infuriated that the church is doing this. Some people are even apostatizing because they are so angry. The college apparently meant so much to them and now the fact that they are going to demolish it has left some people seriously questioning the prophet and the church. It is really sad to watch because I know that the church is doing what they think is best and I know that this is going to be so good for the people of Temple View but they just can't see that. Like I said big changes are happening here in NZ. Word on the street is that they are also going to close the temple and do to it what they are doing to the Ogden Temple. I don't think that they will do that within my time here.
Another thing is that because the temple now closes on Monday the missionaries only get to go twice a years so that is really sad. The next time isn't until September but we all have our fingers crossed that we will get to do a session when President Rudd comes.
But ya m new mission president is President Rudd and he is from Utah. Go America! Anyways he arrives this Saturday and the new mission officially begins next Monday. It is so exciting!
Today during our shopping and Honky Cat by Elton John was playing and I just stopped and enjoyed. It reminded me of home. I miss that kind of music more than I thought I would and so it was nice to hear it. I will probably need to repent later because I enjoyed it and the white handbook says that music should not "merely entertain".
So guess what the main fast food place here is. It's KFC. Who would have thought? But the people here love it! They are everywhere. When you get KFC from a member it means that they really like you. I haven't got any yet so I guess that I need to step it up. But people call the Auckland mission the 20 kilo mission because that is how much weight you gain while serving here. I am scared and we are being careful. We also exercise for 30 minutes every morning so that is helpful.
So I have only met two people here in NZ that know where New Mexico is. One of them served his mission in Albuquerque and the other said he lived in the Navajo reservation for awhile. The one who lived on the rez asked me where I was from and I said New Mexico and he then said "Farmington?" It was crazy and he then said that they used to come every three months or so to Farmington to get their groceries. But everyone asks me where I am from and the conversation goes something like this:
"Where are you from Sister?"
"New Mexico in the United States"
"Cool. So do you speak Spanish?"
"No New Mexico is in America. We speak English."
"Okay then why is it called New Mexico?"
It goes like that EVERY time. I don't know what to say to avoid this conversation because it is so awkward. But I love the people here. They are the best. They have a different sense of humor though and I feel like sometimes they don't get my sarcasm or jokes so that can be uncomfortable. I am working on that though.
So I only get mail here twice a month so it doesn't even seem worth it for you to mail me letters. If we just talk though email then its instant. I know that's lame but I think its the best way to communicate. Postage here is also super expensive so I am sorry but I will not be mailing very much out. If you still need it though my new mailing address is:
Sister Maquel Marie Simkins
PO Box 9543
Waikato Mail Centre
New Zealand
Sister Maquel Marie Simkins
131 Ward Street
Hamilton Central
Hamilton 3204
New Zealand
Well I guess that's all for this week. I love and miss all of you. Let me know how things are going. Have a good week!
Love, Sister Simkins

This is me and Sister Holmes. I love this girl and I think that we are going to be friends even after our missions. But we tool this picture because we were wearing both wearing navy blue.

This one is of the New Zealand landscape. This is what everything looks like. I have seen places prettier than this but I didn't get a picture. It is incredible here!

I took this one night at the VC. I think its pretty cool.



Monday, June 17, 2013

Ok so to put you all at ease I am doing SO much better. I don't know what happened the first few days but I am fine now. I honestly think that I was severely homesick and I couldn't pull myself out of it. However, I think that the Lord wanted me to learn something and so now I am fine. Thank you for all of your prayers because I promise you I felt them.

Some basic info that I forgot last week. So I am officially going to be in the New Zealand Hamilton Mission. Woohoo! The mission splits on July 1st so big things are happening here. I am currently serving in the VC with seven other sisters, three of which I was in the MTC with so that has been really fun. My companion and I also live in a house with another companionship and one of them I was in the MTC with so we are really good friends. We often have to force ourselves to quit talking and laughing and go to sleep. So my companion's name is Sister Hiyas and she is from the Philippines. We are very different and so that has presented some challenges but we are trying to work through them. The funny thing about her through is that she is literally 4 foot six. I kid you not she is so tiny!
So we live in a place in Hamilton called Temple View and the hard part about temple view is that there are no investigators. My area is just three streets. So we have to spend all of our time outside of the VC on just those two streets. It is really frustrating sometimes. We have three non-member houses. One is this elderly couple who won't even open the door all of the way to talk to us, another is this 60 year old man who lives alone and he says we are only aloud to talk to him if we don't talk about religion (pretty pointless as a missionary), and the last house is a Samoan Family who knows the church is true but they don't want to break their family tradition of attending the Samoan Congregational Church.  Depressing right? It is also really hard because the Auckland mission has the goal of 200 baptisms this month before the mission splits and so far we are at 205 total between the ones that are scheduled and accomplished and its sad to me that my efforts aren't a part of that. Hopefully soon I can do some real teaching. I haven't even taught a real lesson yet.
Mom, you should be happy though because I am in the safest area in the mission. Because there are so many Mormons people don't even lock their doors around here. I also heard that some sisters in another area were chased one night by four drunk men. At least I don't have to worry about that here. So the guy that is a non-member that won't let us talk about religion says that he read somewhere that Mormons, as a whole, live longer and so that is why he chose to live in Temple View. He is hoping that the Mormon's "Good Health" will rub off on him. Haha anyways it is a nice area because of all of the great members but there isn't anything to do. So what we have to do now is we visit the members each night and practice teach them the first lesson. It's our hope that when we come to teach them that they will bring in their non-member friends for us to teach but so far that hasn't happened yet. But ya I don't feel like a real missionary yet. I don't know if I ever will.
Another interesting story from this week has to do with my first experience street contacting or "tracting". So we have this mission goal that everyday we "talk with everyone" and we are supposed to get at least 20 a day and they have to be people that you meet on the street or by knocking on doors that aren't members. On a normal day in our area we are lucky to get one. So the sisters training leaders texted us the other day and said that they had gotten permission from president to take us to their area so that we could get more TWE's. So their area is very low-income and it didn't look like the best place in NZ. Anyways it was around 7 at night which means it was dark and we began talking to people as they walked down the street and most people were pretty rude and mean but whatever. That's their choice. We were also told that we could knock on doors if we wanted to. Now this is an area with very few members and there is a lot of work to do. So we were walking down the street and I had a prompting to go to this one house. I ignored it and kept walking but it came again two more times so I told my companion and we walked back and knocked on the door. Now I know what you are thinking, you are expecting me to tell you that we met someone who was so prepared to hear the gospel. Well no. They were member but we went in and talked to them anyways. When we left I was bummed because I had really thought that I was prompted. Later on we were still walking and my companion was prompted to visit this other house. So we knocked on the door and then this lady opens it and says "Oh hello Sisters!" That's right they were members too. What are the odds of finding two member houses in this area? I told you before that there aren't very many. But we still went in and talked to them for a while. After we left I was really upset because I didn't know how we could be so off. I began to question if I even understand what a prompting is. I just couldn't understand why we were both prompted to go see members. So I kept questioning what happened and then all of the sudden these powerful words came into my mind (keep in mind it is dark out) "Don't question me. This time it was for your protection." I just know now never to doubt a prompting because they go so much further than just leading us to find people to teach. I also can't imagine what might have happened had we ignored those promptings. Think about it though. Heavenly Father needed is to be protected from something/someone so he led us to two of the members houses in an area with hardly any. It is just incredible to me now that I think about it.
Another neat story from this week has to do with the VC. So it was around 8 at night a few nights ago and I was sitting at the welcome desk while the VC director and his wife we down having dinner when this rough looking couple walked in. Let me just say that they didn't look like our typical visitors. The first thing that the man says is "Hey is that a Mormon temple?" pointing out the window. I told him that it was and then he asked to take a picture of it to send to his mom and I told him to go ahead. He then explained that he was raised in the church but that he hasn't been active for many years. So they then went into the main room to take a picture. Now it was just my companion and I on the floor and other people came in and I was distracted and they left without me getting a chance to talk more with them. I was pretty bummed. Then the director and his wife came back and we were just standing there talking when the guy came rushing back in and he looked really upset about something. He then said "Now I know that I can't go into the temple but is there someone here that can give my fiance a blessing? She is pregnant and about to get on a plane and we won't see each other until we get married next year. She is really upset and I just know that the only thing that can help right now is a blessing. Can you please help." Now because the director was standing right there he told the man to bring her in and that he would give her a blessings. So he brought her in and they went into the director's office and the three of them talked for a while and then the director gave her a blessing. Afterwords he went to the part of the center that shows pictures of the inside of the temple and he explained about eternal families. The couple then left. I asked the director what happened and he said that the man had explained that they were driving to Auckland and they just decided to travel a different way this time but they didn't know why. So they were driving and then the man saw the temple in the distance all lit up and for some reason he just knew that he had to stop. Then as there were getting ready to leave the woman just had a complete meltdown and the man didn't know how to help here and then he said that something just told him to have her get a blessing. I don't know what happened to the couple and I probably never will but this was no coincidence. I have such a strong testimony of the VC. I really love serving here. I gave a tour on Saturday to a girl who at the end said that she wants to get baptized and I set her up with the elders in her area and she is going to have the lessons so that she can get baptized. Its just the coolest thing. I wish that I could spend all of my time here because when I am here I actually feel productive whereas in my area I just feel useless.
Anyways things here are good and I hope that things at home are as well. I have really settle in here and I am learning to love it. It is just very wet. It rains all the time and the humidity is a killer. My hair always looks awful. Anyways I love and miss all of you. HAPPY FATHER'S DAY again Dad. Give my Molly a kiss for me!
Love, Maquel

here's my address for now!!

(for letters)
Sister Maquel Marie Simkins
New Zealand Auckland Mission
PO Box 88-840
North Shore City 0622
New Zealand
Sister Maquel Marie Simkins
New Zealand Auckland Mission
7A Auburn Street
North Shore City 0622
New Zealand


Saturday, June 1, 2013

Wow another P-day is here! So let me explain yesterday's email. So as VC's we get to do the call center and chat and that was the conversation that my companion and I had with a real investigator. It was the coolest thing! I just had the feeling that Heavenly Father has been preparing JD for our message. We also emailed him and he emailed us back saying that when he gets home he really wants to meet with the missionaries! Man I love this! A lot of the other sisters had similar experiences over chat and over the phone. Its so cool!
So VC training is the best! This this has been my favorite part so far. I feel like my teachers understand me more then the others and I love that. So Wednesday we wnet to Temple Square and did a tour and then had a meeting with a member of the VC board of directors who told us about our Visitor's Centers. She said that the New Zealand one is very busy and that it is seeing a ton of success. She also said that we will be switched to the Hamilton Mission when the change is made. I am excited because she said that for the majority of my mission I will spend half the day at the VC and the other half doing normal mission stuff. I am super super excited! We have also been practicing how to give tours and how to have our visitors have a converting experience within a shot amount of time. I love this because we don't have to stress about teaching so that they understand the details. All of our teaching is centered around Christ and then everything else builds on that.
My teacher also told us how we were called to the VC. She said that when she was on her mission in DC, L. Tom Perry visited her VC and explained it like this: when whichever Apostle is making calls, he looked at our picture he looks at the eyes and if he can see a testimony of the atonement, the spirit prompts him that this is a Visitor Center Missionary. Then the paper gets sent to a separate pile and after all of the other calls have been made, they sit down and say a special prayer as to where each person is supposed to go and to which Visitor's Center. I hope I explained that well enough. But isn't that so cool??
So anyways, this week has been going really well. The beginning of the week was kinda sad because the Elders in our district left and we had gotten really close with them. They are in Oklahoma now cleaning up the mess there. (See why I am afraid of Tornadoes?) Anyways it was just the sister's in our district here for a while. There are six of us total and five are going to NZ and the other one is going to London. I am sad that I won't get to see her again because she is so darn cool! Her name is Sister Sua and she is from Sydney Australia and I love to just hear her talk. She also says funny stuff like "I reckon we should clean the room" or "I'm really keen on going to dinner". She is just the best. The other girls are awesome too. We all get along so well. Some times we miss lights out because we are having so much fun talking and laughing. Now we are in a big class with all of the VC sisters here in the MTC. There are about 20 of us and some are going to NZ, Mesa :), Hawaii, London, and Idaho Falls. I love talking to the Mesa sisters. Two of them are from Idaho and they are so scared for the heat. I just laugh. But Mesa is in good hands because they are awesome!
I can't believe that this week marks the one year anniversary of my knee surgery. I was sitting here thinking about this last year and everything that has happened and now I am in the MTC. The Lord truly knows that he is doing and he has a plan for me I know it! Its just crazy because I never would have guessed that I would be here today. Its so amazing.
My companion and I are still getting along great. We seriously laugh all the time. In class there is this Russian girl who always turns around and gives us dirty looks haha. She doesn't understand our humor I guess. But really I am so blessed to have Sister Swindler. Funny story though, so last night we were headed to our class on the fourth floor and I am sick right now so I have a really bad cough and it gets worse when I have to climb the stairs so we decided to take the elevator. Anyways we get in and hit the "close door" button and the door is almost shut and it gets stuck! There was a small gap between the frame and the door but there was no way that we could fit through it. So Sister Swindler hits the "open door" button and it moves back a few inches and then starts to close again and it gets stuck. Meanwhile the elevator is making this awful beeping noise and we were starting to freak out but we were laughing so hard all at the same time. So we keep pressing the open button and it opens just enough for my companion to slide through so she gets out and it closes and gets stuck. So I planned to reach over and hit the button and then jump out but after I hit the button the door closed and I was stuck in the elevator by myself. So I sat there for a minute trying to push buttons and get out but then all of the sudden its starts moving up and it took me to the fourth floor and let me out. However my companion didn't know that so she is still at the bottom freaking out because she thinks that I am stuck so she panics and starts running up the stairs as I am frantically trying to run down the stairs to tell her that I am ok. She then gets stopped by a teacher yelling "Sister where is your companion?!" and so she is out of breath trying to get the teacher to believe that I am stuck in the Elevator. I finally found her though and then the teacher believed her and we all had a good laugh but man it was stressful. I thought people only get stuck in elevators on movies. I told Sister Swindler that we were being punished because she snuck an apple out of the cafeteria even though we aren't allowed to take food out. Haha it was pretty funny afterwards.
Okay mom I will be calling you on Monday night but I am not sure what time. I don't know if I will call from the SL airport or the San Fran airport so please HAVE YOUR PHONE ON AT ALL TIMES!! I really want to talk to all of you so please try your best to have your phone. The next time I will get to talk to you is Christmas so we have to make this count. This is also that last email you will get from the MTC. The next one will be from New Zealand.
Tell Kim I got her packages and I am soooo grateful! She is the best!
So I guess this is it as far as the big stuff goes. I love and miss all of you soooo much!
Love, Maquel