Wednesday, September 28, 2011

First Day in Florida

S. McCracken

Posted by Jana: Christine is now in Florida! Here is an excerpt from an email from her mission president:

Dear family of Sister McCracken,
            We are happy to send the good news that your missionary has arrived safely to the Florida Jacksonville Mission.  What a great joy and privilege it is to greet each missionary as they come off the plane in Jacksonville.  The smiles on their faces showed their excitement and readiness to be here.

            Sister McCracken arrived with 15 other missionaries and they have enjoyed a dinner together at the mission home, have been interviewed by President Barry and were trained by the assistants. We have taken pictures and I have attached a picture of her with President Barry and I.  As you can see she is well and happy although a little tired. We also took a group picture which you can view later this week on our blog at:

            You are welcome to check this blog often to catch a glimpse of your missionary and find out what is going on in this mission.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

farewell, MTC

posted for Christine by Jana

Dear Familia,

First things first, I have some exciting news...I will be calling you tomorrow!!!! YES WAY! We are allowed to called home while we are in transit (They're not thinking that I'm getting to guatamala with no one to pick me up and just telling me ahead of time to call home, so don't worry). I have two options. Between 5 am and 7 am (MST) when I'm in Salt Lake or between 1 pm and 3 pm (EST) while I'm in Atlanta. My plan is for while I'm in Atlanta to call Mom's cell phone. If Dad is at work and can't break away, I was given permission to call him as well on his cell phone. So charge your phones tonight and be ready!!! If you want to try to conference call then you better coordinate that tonight with anyone who wants to be on the call. I plan to call as close to 1 pm (EST) as possible, but that's just after I land, so gimme a sec to find a pay phone. Can't wait to hear your voices!

So this last week we got to have a devotional by this one Nelson guy... I think it was Russell M. Nelson or something... but I can't be sure...WOOT! It was so awesome. I love their talks here because they are a lot more chill and conversational with us. At one point he had 4 missionaries on the stage with him doing these things. He was suddenly hugging this one sister missioary as we all stared in shock...he then explained it was his granddaughter and he may have planned it that she was called up so he could have a hug since that was the only way to steal her away. It was pretty hilarious. He did a big introduction of the new Book of Mormon Ensign. We each got our own"collector's" copy to love and cherish as a gift from him. (I don't quite believe he really bought all of them for us...haha) Anyway, it was an awesome evening and his wife's talk was awesome as well.

The week has flown by and I am now one day from flying out. I leave the MTC at 4 am to catch a 7 am flight out of Salt Lake to Atlanta. And no we will not be sleeping in the airport! We will be contacting. So if you hear crazy stories of sister missionaries getting arrested because they freaked out some family trying to sleep in the airport at 5 am...well that's possibly me...But it was all with good intentions!

Tell Ken that I have a message for Danae. I ran into an Elder here that is best friends with Legrande. He described him as a brother by choice. I can't remember his name...hopefully she does. We just happened into each other in the immunizations clinic. And the other crazy part is that his brother is in the Jacksonville mission right now! So I get to carry a message there too. He said to tell them his muscles are so awesome that they broke 4 needles trying to give him a shot and he wasn't even flexing... i.e. he's happy and having a great time here. It's crazy who you run into here!

The teaching is going pretty well. One of our "investigators" couldn't meet all week because of an ear infection. So I'm a little sad about that. We haven't gotten nearly as much teaching time as I had hoped. But hey, I'm about to get A LOT of it. So why am I worried right?! The fact that I've never taught more than the restoration and only the beginnning of the Plan of Salvation (up to Adam and Eve) shouldn't worry me at all right?! (can you tell I'm a little freaked out?!) Can't wait to get to Florida and tell my trainer that! Speaking of, we are part of a new program that they launched around the world August 1. We will stick with our trainer for the first 12 weeks (2 transfers) and have an extra hour of study time together specifically designed to give me more training. They have a whole curriculum of specific things we will do every day to help me get up to speed faster as far as the work goes. I'm starting to believe Elder Ballard's statement that we are the most prepared missionaries in the history of the church. They are working hard not just throw us in the shark tank and tell us to say when it hurts (hold my sign, I don't want it to get ruined ;) ) So I feel pretty confident that I'll be ok. Even if I do break down my first teaching appointment...

I'm glad to hear that Michelle is doing ok. I've been praying like crazy this week and have been wondering all about it. It all turned out well because she had a missionary praying for her ;D... Ok so I'm not that powerful. But hey, I can imagine right? I'm just glad to hear you're all happy and doing ok with it. I dreaded getting a call to meet with the Mission President here because of something... Someone please hug her and tell her I love her and I'm sorry I can't text her and tell her myself! Hopefully she took our pic of us to Cincinatti and showed it off to the young, cute Chase-looking Doctors there. ;) ok kidding. But hopefully she had it to remind her of how much I love her!

And to all the other little kiddos I want you all to know how much I love you!!! I brag about all my little people all the time to the other missionaries. The letters I've been getting from the McCracken kids and Ryker have brightened my day! Tell them they all make me proud to be an aunt and I want them to grow up to be missionaries too! I wish every person could even just spend the three weeks at the MTC that I have. I've grown in ways I didn't think possible and I will never see the gospel the same again. I love it here and I love the work.

Well Dad, can't help but say I told you so. You should know better than to have sloppy powerpoints! haha just kidding. Tell that young man it's my job to keep you in line. I bet you did great though. I wish I could have seen the disposal of the ATR vessel. You should check on my Transport plan and see if that ever got rolled out...

Well 45 seconds left.... LOVE YOU ALL SOOOOOOOO MUCH!!!! You are the best family I could have ever wished for. Thank you for you letters, prayers, and love. I can feel it!

Remember, be the change!!!

Sister McCracken

Monday, September 19, 2011

Week 2 From The MTC

posted by Jana

(I just wanted to let anyone who wants to comment know that I will send the comments on to Christine. I feel like commenting even just as a forum for us to discuss Christine’s letters with each other since it’s not like we get to do it over Sunday dinner or anything so convenient. Anyways, feel free to comment.)

Sister McCracken’s letter:

Greetings from the MTC!

Once again it was another bright and early morning at 615 am. But this is way better than the 430 am wakeup I was doing this summer! I´m finally starting to sleep better, but I´m still usually pretty tired every day. This work is a tiring one for sure. One of my teachers explained that the your time at the MTC will reach a point where days feel like weeks and weeks feel like days. It is soooo true!!! Some days feel like they´ve been going on forever, but then I look back and I'm shocked to think it's been another week. I got my travel information and I will be flying out of Salt Lake the morning of Tuesday the 27th! I have to report to the travel office here at 4 am that morning to make my flight so I'm gonna be one tired girl. The hilarious part is we get a 2 hour layover in Atlanta though. I'm sure we could drive to Jacksonville in that amount of time, but you know how traveling Delta works.

Yes we do get to do kickboxing! They have morning workout classes just for the sisters so that we can stay feeling pumped! They've got pilates, yoga, and other classes other mornings. During our regular gym time I'm lifting with all the guys as usual. Wooh me! My companion is a rockstar though. She plans to beat the situp record this week. It currently stands at 610 situps and she did 611 last week just to make sure she could even get close. So this week we'll get an official judge to watch and she's gonna blow it out of the water. Did I menyion I have an awesome companion?!

I'm trying to think of any hilarious stories for you guys but I'm coming up short. Sister White in my district to me that it's her goal to make fun of me every day. Is it just me or does she sound like she's trying to fill Dustin's spot in keeping me humble? At least I won't get a big ego this way. Oh here's a good one I forgot to tell you. My first morning here I dropped my conditioner bottle while in the shower and to my amazement and shock it broke the neck of the bottle. My clutzy blonde ways never fail. It totally reminded me of Ella breaking my nail polish that one time. So now I have a topless conditioner bottle. Not real sure how well that's gonna pack to fly to Florida next week...we shall see... Oh and I've seen a sister that I think is trying to be a padewan. She's got her hair cut really short and then there's a little braid hanging down the back. No joke. Looks just like annekin (sp?) on star wars. I want to ask her if she plans to cut it when she leaves because she'll be a master missionary. Oh and so far I've haven't punched out an Elder. Yay me! Sister Wall thinks that instead of having a betting pool you all should give me incentives for what I'll get if I go 18 months without doing it! Any ideas? I think a trip to Disneyworld sounds fun? You talk it out amongst yourselves and tell me what you think. ;)

Thanks for the packages this week. The Elders are going crazy because I've gotten a letter or package almost every day I've been here. The first couple days it was just masses of letters for us girls. They couldn't understand why we were getting so much and they weren't...Silly boys. Our families and friends love us more. I wasn't about to tell them it was just a bunch of stuff I had forgotten at home. So keep the letters coming! haha

I was going to attach a couple pics, but I found out we're not supposed or something. I'm not really sure what the rule is. So I'm going to find out for sure this week and then if I can I'll attach a bunch next week. I've gotten some really cool and really funny ones. If all else fails I'll just send my SD card back to you and let you send them around so that some can get posted to blog world. Speaking of, hi blog world! Thanks to all who are reading and supporting me! It means a lot to know that so many people are interested in how I'm doing here! So far I love it and feel like I've learned as much here as I learned in an entire semester at college. They feed us with firehoses when it comes to teaching. I'm glad I'm not learning a language though. Those people are here for 9-12 weeks and it seems a lot harder than what we're doing.

Devotional Tuesday night was given by none other than this one guy named....M RUSSELL BALLARD!!! Oh yeah! We got an apostle! It was amazing!!! He taught us so much about effectively using our time here and that it's ok to struggle at first. He explained that his first day in his mission was a complete crash and burn. So if an apostle crashes and burns I must be ok if I'm still having problems in my lessons.

Glad you've got the twins! hope they're keeping you on your toes! Keep me updated on michelle!!

Monday, September 12, 2011

In the Beginning…


(posted by Jana) Here’s Christine with Dad and Mom, just minutes before getting thrown out on the curb at the MTC. You can see the “Y” mountain just above them. 

Here’s Christine’s letter from week 1.

Well Greetings from the MTC!

Where do I start? Thus far it is great here. I kind of hit a wall with exhaustion and everything yesterday and had a harder day, which is sad since it's Sunday and that should have been my day of rest. I guess I just am too hard on myself sometimes when they call us to repentance on obedience even though I've been strictly obedient to everything thus far. I just don't like the getting called to repentance. Always makes me think of what I should be doing better in my life. But in a meeting yesterday morning our Branch President compared us to Peter when he jumped out of the boat to walk on the water with Christ. He explained we should already be commended for making that big step. So I just need to focus on that and stop being so hard on myself.

The beds here stink! Not literally, but they are definitely not as soft as my big bed at home. I got a top bunk, yay! But now every time I roll over I freak out thinking I'm going to roll off. Almost did one night...Anyway. The food is delicious. Too delicious. I've been overly enjoying all the options and desserts and juices and whatnot. I keep telling myself to reign it in. But then I remember I'm gonna be eating a lot of Ramen the next while so I better just enjoy it while I can.

Alan is just about right with the 14 hours per day thing. We are in the classroom from about 7 am to 930 pm, with some meal breaks in between. If we're not learning, we're studying. I'm pretty much used to the concept from the last couple years of college though. The poor Elders on the other hand are struggling since most of them are fresh out of high school and not used to such long days. They'll adjust though. So far I love the Elders in my District. They are gentlemen and yell "sisters!!!" every time they see us, so we know we are loved! They are hilarious little brother types. One of them was a cheerleader for BSU last year! Woohoo! (Yes, I did say an Elder was the cheerleader) Another one of them has the same fake tooth as me, but on a flapper retainer still. So he won the cool fake tooth contest.

We've been learning like crazy. My first couple lessons were crash-and-burn scenarios, but that's ok. Our next two went a lot better, even though we didn't really teach lessons to our next two investigators, we felt like we helped address their concerns. They've got really good actors playing as investigators that sometimes make you forget that they aren't real. So real, an Elder thought he had committed a real investigator to baptism and was crushed when he found out that it was really just an actor after 2 weeks of lessons...poor kid.

Sorry I don't have any pictures yet. We're only allowed cameras on Sundays and Prep day. And since today is prep day, and it's the beginning of the day, I haven't gotten any yet. But what about Sunday, you say? Weeeelll...I was in meetings and trainings all day beeeecaaaauuuse..... I got called as the Coordinating Sister for my zone! Woot! It's a new thing they are doing, and we are like Sister versions of Zone Leaders. I'm here to make sure all the sisters in the zone are happy, loved, have everything they need, getting along, and so forth. So far I only have myself and 3 sisters I'm over, but I will be getting 3 new sisters on Wednesday. Exciting!!!

Wow, sounds like Rexburg is keeping you busy Mom and Dad. Does that mean you are on the High Council now? I guess you can get lost in the work there like I am here! I'll explain more about my companion in my letter. I'm getting warnings that I only have 4 minutes left and I don't want to lose this email...

Oh and Alan...I gave up the dork dot. Sorry. But I still have it in it's special place ;) Thanks for that laugh when I first got here!

miss you all and love you soooooo much!

hugs and kisses to all, especially the kiddos!

Sister McCracken

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Au Revoir!

I don't know where to really start. I've got a lot of mixed emotions right now regarding all the changes that are about to occur. I'm excited, scared, pumped, nervous, freaked out, and just ready to go already! These final days feel like they are going to be the hardest. I feel like I have been slowly pulling off the band-aid for the last two weeks saying goodbye to people. In some ways it would have been nicer for one swift pull and be on with it instead of this slow process. Saying goodbye to this person, then this person, then this person, but not really saying goodbye since I can still talk on the phone with them. I'm just missing seeing most of your faces in person. Ok, time to stop being whiny, right? No time for this on the mission! 

So anyway, the farewell was awesome. Thanks to all who came and supported me and for those of you who missed it, you totally missed out! Not really, but I'd like to think you did. I didn't get a lot of pictures that day. Doh! Oh well. One picture I did love though is this one.

I only hope that I will still look that awesome in my eighties. My grandma inspires me with her spunk and how she'll always tell you what she's thinking. Hopefully I can make her proud.

And these crazy kids came and supported me too. We missed having you there Shellie! Oh how I'll miss these guys. Family is what it's all about. No matter what happens in my life I know they've got my back and will always be there for me. Love you guys!

So the plan here is this, while I am gone I will be sending emails and letters home to my family on a weekly basis. They are pulling together a team effort and will be updating this blog with my emails, letters, and photos for anyone who would like to see how I'm doing. My most recent address should always be here as well. I'll always accept letters and treats. :) 

Thank you in advance for your love and support!

And remember, be the change!