Sunday, December 15, 2013

Dulce gozo

                                                                                                                                      December 9, 2013 
 This is the view behind our house :)
Misioneras y montanas (missionaries and mountains)

¡Allo!

I got your package!  It was so nice to see all of the pictures of our family and the little notes you guys wrote me!  Sometimes I feel really lonely being so far away from you guys, so it was so nice to be able to see those pictures with "families are forever."  We are always teaching about eternal families...and I am so blessed to belong to an eternal family!  And no distance in the world can separate us, because we have eternity to spend together.  :)  The picture with the Christmas tree is in the mamita's house.  She lives around the corner from us in our neighborhood, so she is in our branch.  She doesn't do our laundry very often. Only sometimes.  It's kind of frustrating with her because she's not very reliable. Laundry is one of the most frustrating things here, so I don't tell you guys about it.  lol.  I'm learning patience on that front.  Like Evan told you, relationships and family are way more important than schedules here, and as you predicted, it drives me nuts because I am such a schedule-oriented person.  If we go in a house, we will likely be inside for an hour and a half, sometimes two.  It is a LOT of listening.  In Spanish.  So that is another way that I am learning patience.  :)

I'm so glad that you guys could go to the temple!  I miss the temple a lot.  But I keep the feelings from the temple close to my heart whenever I start to feel sad.  What a beautiful place!  Your Christmas sounds crazy, but beautiful.  It's hard being so far away during the Christmas season...but I am able to really focus on how important the Savior is to me and to everyone else in the world.  He is the greatest gift we could ever receive!  We have been sharing a Mormon message with people lately called, "The Spirit of Christmas."  You guys should look it up!  It is so inspiring and I cry every time we watch it.  I love Christmas so much!  I don't know a lot of details yet about how we will talk.  I know that it is through my Skype account for 45 minutes, and probably on a member's computer.  But I will find out and let you guys know as we get closer.

One day this week, my companion got really dizzy, so dizzy that she couldn't walk.  So we stayed inside the house all day.  I read General Conference talks and old letters, wrote out the emails I wanted to send this week, and studied over my notes from the MTC.  It was so good to study those notes!  I remembered the idealism of the MTC, and how important it is to keep an idealistic perspective.  Mission life is hard.  Really hard.  So it's easy to lose idealism...but when we lose idealism, we also start to lose faith.  And I just know that faith in Jesus Christ needs to be my center!  He helps me so much.  I have never felt His love more than I feel it now.  Sometimes I get frustrated living in a world where I feel like I don't have anyone who can listen.  My companion is great, but she talks all the time, she's super dramatic and a little bit of a princess, and she doesn't listen very well.  She's super loving and hardworking, but listening is not her strong suit.  So this week at points I felt very alone.  But when I would get on my knees to pray, I knew that He listened to everything I had to say.  I know He listens and He loves me!  He understands me perfectly.  Like I said, missionary life is tough.  I am speaking a different language, in a different country, serving in a weak branch.  By the world's standards, I don't have the things I need to be happy.  People think that they need a nice car, big house, other possession-type things to be happy.  But I can tell you that all you really need to be happy is to feel God's love.  Because when you truly feel His love, you want to act upon it.  And when you act upon it, He teaches you to be happy.  Happiness is not the absence of trial, but the presence of Christ.  President Uchtdorf, in his talk to the Young Women in March, said that there will be bumps in the road...but we shouldn't focus on them.  I know that happiness is always within our reach!  Pray to feel His love.  It can really transform you.  I have never felt such a general happiness.  It is a deep, sweet happiness that fills up my soul.  And I know that it is the happiness that Christ gives.  He makes it possible for us to be happy no matter our circumstances.  "Dulce gozo" means sweet joy.  

This week I have also been learning what it means to receive answers to faithful prayers.  I pray so hard for the branch, for our investigators, and for my ability to be the servant the Lord needs.  On Tuesday, we had a meeting with the senior couple serving here, and we were able to plan what to do to help out our branch.  This was a huge answer to my prayers!  After 2 months serving here, it had gotten to be something that seemed completely discouraging.  But with us, the elders, and the senior couple, we created a hopeful plan to help invite our branch back to Christ.  I am hoping for the best!  We are going to help the members understand their callings better, first, and then see what we can do next.  Then, the family that Hermana Nappa and I were teaching hasn't let us in their home for 3 weeks.  We have been praying that they will remember the importance of the gospel.  On Saturday, we were just walking and out of the blue we saw them in the street and they invited us into their home.  I know that the Lord answers prayers!  I know that heaven is not as far away as we may think it is.  All we have to do is get on our knees in faith, and He is there.  Prayer blesses my life every day, and I hope you all will remember to pray!

Another thought--almost every day, my companion reminds me that Heavenly Father doesn't focus on our errors, but on our potential.  How sweet this thought is!  It destroys all the lies that Satan tells us, that we aren't good enough, can't do it, or whatever else he may try to say.  Heavenly Father is merciful and patient, and in the journey of life, He loves us for who we are and for what we are striving to become.

I love you all so much.  I miss you a lot, especially now that we are close to Christmas!  But I know also that this sacrifice will be worth it, and that the next Christmas we are together will be so special and beautiful.


Abrazos, Hermana Latham 

 Arbol de la vida (Tree of Life)
We had a Book of Mormon themed activity recently and a family in our branch made this tree of life!


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

¿me amas tú a mí?

                                                                                                                                      December 2, 2013


¡Allo!

This hour every week is really the most stressful hour of the week!  I want to talk to everybody, but I only have an hour.  So I'm doing the best I can to respond to all of the questions and write back to other people within 2 weeks.  I haven't gotten any mail other than the Christmas package.  Are you sending the mail to the mission home?  If you send things to the mission home, then I get them when we have meetings with the zone leaders, which is about once a month.  They get all of the mail for our zone.  Our mission is a gigantic area, so this is the only way we can all get our mail.  We have zone conference on the 10th, so I might get some things then.  Sorry the mail situation is so frustrating!  It's tough because we are in such a rural area of Chile.  And don't worry about the lyrics to The Olive Tree...I figured them out.  It's just so that I can sing along!  There were some words I didn't recognize, so I looked them up in my dictionary.  I have two new blouses that were gifted to me in the MTC, and also two winter skirts I got from Hermana Rappleye in the mission home.  It will be nice to have new clothes, but I am okay without them.  I am the most excited for the black cardigan!  It really was a shame that I lost the last one...  Líder is close to where we live, but it's not quite the same as Wal-Mart.  I can buy some Great Value stuff, which is nice.  As far as medicine goes, the only places we have to buy those are in pharmacies, and they don't have nearly as good of a selection as in the States.  But anyway, I went ahead and bought some more cold medicine for when my decongestant runs out.  If you guys could send regular decongestant whenever you send the next box, that would be great.  Decongestant doesn't exist in my pharmacy here.  I really am lucky to serve in Chile!  It is really safe here with the water and food and everything.  Honestly, the faucet water here is cleaner and tastes better than in the States.  People are always asking me if I have family members who speak Spanish, and I get to tell them that my uncle served here years ago!  They all think that is pretty cool.  :)

So I survived my first Thanksgiving outside of the United States!  It was tough, but not nearly as tough as I thought it would be.  My companion wrote me a really sweet note, and as I thought about all of the many blessings my Heavenly Father has given me, I thought about how grateful I am for Chile and how grateful I am for the opportunity I have to serve as a missionary.  I will have Thanksgiving every year throughout my life, and only 2 of them will be as a missionary.  I show my gratitude to the Lord by giving Him my everything.  Every morning while we are exercising, we listen to the songs on our cell phone.  One of them has a chunk of a talk by Jeffrey R. Holland in Spanish.  It's the talk about Peter, when the Savior asks, "Do you love me?" or in español, "¿me amas tú a mí?"  I think about that every day.  When things are tough, I think about the reason I am serving.  And it is because I love Him.  I love Him more than I love the United States.  I love Him more than I love the English language.  I love Him more than I love my regular life.  And for this I serve Him with all I have!  I know He can see my efforts because He blesses me in return.  

We are finding lots of new people to teach!  Hermana Montalván is a really stellar missionary, and together we are working so hard to invite others to come unto Christ.  As we work hard, we can see the fruits of our efforts!  Even if we are just planting seeds by giving short lessons and pamphlets to people in the streets, we are inviting other people to open their hearts to Him.  Right now we have a lady with a baptismal date and she is awesome!  She has so much love for the Lord and she really listens when we teach.  One of the coolest things I learned in the MTC is that as we are missionaries and have investigators, it is also important to remember that we are the Lord's investigators.  As we prepared the lesson on the Plan of Salvation to teach our investigator, it came to me, clear as a bell, that I am a part of God's great plan, and that He wants for me to be able to live with Him one day.  All of the things we teach as missionaries apply to us personally, as well.

With the family who had baptismal dates, the work is frustrating right now.  They don't want the missionaries to come over anymore since Hermana Nappa left.  So we are praying that they will open their hearts to us.  If they really want the gospel to be part of their lives, it won't matter to them which missionaries are the ones teaching and preparing them for baptism.  The other frustrating thing is with our tiny branch.  We are encountering tons of problems...but we are working to find solutions and praying for the Lord's help.  This is His work, and the people in this branch are His children, and He will not forget them!

I realized that I haven't told you guys about one of my favorite parts of Chilean culture!  I feel so lucky when people invite us to have once ( on-say) with them.  Dinner doesn't exist here.  After lunch, sometime before people go to bed, they drink something hot and have bread with jam or strange meat paste (I go for the jam, of course.  lol).  It makes me think of what tea time must be like in Europe.  It's just such a fun custom here.  The Chilean people are honestly the most relaxed and social people I have ever met.  Once lasts approximately forever because it's just a time for the family and friends to sit around the table, eat something, and pass time together.  Chileans have so much love to give, and it is so nice to share that with them!  This week we had once with the Relief Society president.  Then yesterday we ate lunch with a family and they invited us to help them decorate their Christmas tree.  It was such a sweet experience to share with them!  This Christmas will be hard, but special.  The family we ate with yesterday invited us to spend Christmas with them, too.  I appreciate them so much!

I am so, so happy with my life right now.  It is so wonderful to me that as I live in righteousness and strive to show the Lord how much I love Him, He blesses me to be able to achieve my dreams.  How special it is to be able to share the gospel.  Of course, it is hard and it is frustrating....but every day I learn more patience, I learn to love more, and my testimony grows.  Being a missionary is such a dynamic process!  Time is really starting to fly.  I feel like before I know it, this transfer is going to be over!  

I love you all so much and I miss you!  I am doing the best I can with the emails (sorry I can't write to everyone!)


Abrazos, Hermana Latham

Paciencia

                                                                                                                                    November 25, 2013

                                                       Volcan Villarrica y Lago Villarrica

¡Allo!

And HAPPY THANKSGIVING!  You are right.  This week is going to be a tough one.  I miss Thanksgiving so much!  I miss spending time with you guys!  But I am praying for comfort and help.  I have been thinking about all of the things I am grateful for, and that makes things easier.  Yesterday I gave a talk in sacrament meeting, and my assigned topic was gratitude (could that have worked out better?).  So I've been studying gratitude and remembering Thanksgiving.  On the day of Thanksgiving, I will have been a missionary for 3 months!  WOO!  It's been a long first three months, but I know that the time will begin to run away from me the more I serve.  Another thing that helps with missing Thanksgiving is that people here are already decorating for Christmas.  Our mamita already has her Christmas tree, and it has multicolored lights like the Christmas tree we had when I was a little girl.  It makes me really happy to see it and helps me feel closer to home.

A couple of random things...fun Spanish fact for the week--to vacuum and to aspire are the same word in Spanish--aspirar.  So we can vacuum for eternal life and we can aspire our rug.  hahaha.  Also, I didn't realize until I got a new companion what cool music we have on our cell phone!  We have The Olive Tree in Spanish!  AHHHH!  So I wanted to ask you guys if you could send me the lyrics to The Olive Tree in Spanish (it's tough for me to understand music in Spanish).  I am SO GRATEFUL that you write me every week, Mama!!  I miss you so much, and being able to read your emails makes it better.  My poor companion didn't get any email from her family this week, and here she is in a new area.  :(  

So Hermana Nappa was right at the middle of her mission, 9 months.  She was going to reach 9 months on the same day I'll reach 3.  She trained another hermana while she was serving in Punta Arenas.  I learned a lot from her, but sometimes it got frustrating because we would just do things without her explaining to me what was going on.  And then she would get irritated with me sometimes when I asked her questions.  We worked as much as we could, but she was pretty exhausted.  She's been suffering with this ever since she got to Chile, and she's been trying every method under the sun to resolve it, but finally all of the resources were exhausted, and she needed to go home for treatment.  People knew she was sick, but I think a lot of people tried to just push it off to the side.  I find that people don't want to face the reality of mental and emotional sicknesses.  People would just tell her that all she needed to do was have faith and things would get better....but she was really, really suffering.  She wasn't super open, so I don't know how bad it was, but I could tell it was bad.  So, I am learning a TON about missionary work from my new companion.  Thank you for what you said about me being kind and mature!  I prayed a LOT for help, and I just tried to love her even when she didn't receive it.  I find that the best way for me to feel less alone here is to give all the love I have to others.  Christ gives me love in return, even if others don't.  Like the quote you gave me from President Monson says, His love is always there for us.  I have never in my life felt His love more!  He strengthens me every day.

My new companion is wonderful!  Her name is Hermana Montalván and she is from Honduras.  She doesn't speak a lick of English, so my Spanish is growing by leaps and bounds (Hermana Nappa spoke English, so if I was just failing in Spanish, I could always ask her to help me out because she could give me translations and what not).  She is 25 and before the mission, she was studying law.  She is very put together and incredibly obedient.  She likes to talk to me and give me hugs!  She has a really positive attitude and she works hard.  I am so thankful for her!  It is very easy to feel the Spirit with her, which is essential to missionary work.  She has been a missionary for 10 months (one transfer more than Hermana Nappa).  Of course, no companion is perfect and every companion is a transition.  We are learning to understand each other better every day, and we got along really well.  The first day she was really weirded out by my contacts...she asked me why I used contacts if I wasn't changing the color of my eyes.  Latinos always ask me if my eye color is natural.  lol.  I told her that I needed them to see!  I think this transfer is going to be great.  Hermana Montalván is a special missionary.  On our first day together, we contacted people on the street, which was new for me.  It was really cool to listen to the directions of the Spirit to know what to say.  We found a lady cleaning her front yard, and she looked pretty sad, so we went to see if we could help her.  As we were talking to her about prayer, she just started crying, and she invited us into her house.  She was so receptive, and I just knew that the Lord had put us in front of her house because she needed His love in that moment.  It was incredible.  Moments like that help me to remember why I chose to be a missionary!

I am feeling WAY better this week.  It always takes a while for colds to die, but I know it will in a few more days.  haha I was thinking about that earlier this week, that I was sick during Thanksgiving break.  You're right...so much changes in a year!   :) 

This week I have been studying scriptures about patience, or paciencia in Spanish.  Patience is such a Christlike attribute.  I am trying so hard to learn more patience!  I read in Alma 32:41-43, applying it to patience (normally I apply it to faith).  I was thinking about my missionary work as the tree, or the missionary I am becoming as the tree.  It talks about how important it is to have patience, diligence, and faith, waiting for the tree to bring fruit.  It starts out talking about nourishing the tree as it begins to grow.  I am working on reminding myself that I am in the beginning of the growing process, so I need to nourish my tree!  I need to have patience with myself as I learn to be a better missionary every day.  Although my companion is great, it's still tough because the way she does missionary work is different than the way Hermana Nappa did it.  So sometimes I feel so frustrated and feel like I don't know anything.  But then I just listen to the voices of the Spirit and remind myself to have patience.  Every day is better, and if this mission is going to get better every day for the next 15 months, I can't imagine how wonderful it will be!  I like to think about what Elder Holland said about how his mission was the reason for all of the blessings in his life.  I know that the things I learn as a missionary will affect everything else that I do for as long as I live!  Learning patience teaches me to be a better friend and family member.  Learning diligence teaches me to be a better student.  Etc, etc.  :)  I know you are working on studying the scriptures every day--I would recommend studying with Preach My Gospel.  It really is an inspired book.  I especially love the chapter about Christlike attributes!

I miss you very much.  I send you all my love and gigantic hugs!  And every day I remember how thankful I am for my wonderful family.  You all are one of the greatest blessings the Lord could ever give to me.  I hope you enjoy Thanksgiving (and the buffet) for me!  lol.  And please remember to be grateful for the temple, the gospel, and our strong ward.  In this tiny branch, I remember every week to be thankful for the strength of the Church back home.


Abrazos, Hermana Latham 
 Hermana Latham and Hermana Nappa

Hermana Latham and Hermana Montalvan in our Mamita's house

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

hijas de Dios

                                                                                                       November 18, 2013
¡Allo!

I'm glad you can feel how I am getting happier in my emails.  I am happier each week!  This week I am very happy and I have a lot of hope for the future.  The first transfer was super tough in a lot of ways, but I really think that this mission is going to be amazing!  Whenever I think about how I am here to represent Jesus Christ and His love for the people here, I feel so wonderful and so proud to represent Him.

As far as logistical boring stuff goes, I am sick.  Blech.  I am just slammed with a cold right now and I feel pretty miserable, physically speaking.  Also, I got your Christmas package!  I can't wait to put up the decorations.  The delay in the mail really is a pain, but at least we have email!  I love to read what you guys are doing each week.  It makes it so you don't seem quite so far.

This week has been interesting as far as current events!  Yesterday was the election for president here.  It was crazy.  Everyone has to travel to the city where they are inscripted to vote.  I don't really know what inscripted means, but basically everyone was gone.  We only had sacrament meeting for church.  And what is really interesting to me is that the two head candidates are women!  WOO!  I think women in politics is really cool.  :)  I hope we see a woman president in the USA one day.

So you got my complaining letter about my companion.  That was about a week into my time in Chile and I was SO FRUSTRATED at the time that I just had to tell someone and I couldn't wait to email it.  Things got a little better.  But this transfer has been really tough with my companion.  She doesn't like to talk to me or do anything together (exercises, etc).  But don't worry, I eat food.  I told her how important it was to me to eat after the first few days.  She is just very demanding.  But I always just think about how hard it must be for her to have this insomnia.  We've talked about it and I think the insomnia is probably just a symptom of a bigger problem.  She seems very depressed.  This week she felt bad enough that we stayed in the house for two days.  Her health problems are pretty crippling, so she is going home this Friday.  I am getting a new companion.

I have learned a lot from her about patience, and I pray every day to love her and help her in any way that I can.  But I am really thankful for the chance to have a new companion!  Maybe she will be friendly and loving.  Maybe she will like to spend time with me.  Maybe she will be a happy person!  That would be just great.  I have realized that one of the biggest reasons this transfer has been so tough is because of my companion.  I tried not to look at it that way when I was thinking we would be together for 12 weeks.  But now that I can take a step back, I realize that I was really trying my hardest to love her and be patient with her...and Heavenly Father is blessing me for that.

Our zone training last week was really great.  I really respect our zone leaders because of the way that they lead.  They try really hard to encourage rather than to criticize.  I can feel their love, and they are really exemplary missionaries.  During the training, I was thinking...all of these goals are so huge!  How are we going to do it all?  But then this calm feeling came over me that this is Christ's work, and the way we are going to be able to do it is with His help.

The next day we had companion exchanges with the sister training leaders, and it was AWESOME!  I really felt the Spirit all day with Hermana Morassi, and I realized that I am entitled to feel that Spirit because of my obedience and faith in Christ.  I realized that missionary work doesn't have to be such a negative life as it has seemed to me at times in this transfer.  So I studied about daughters of God, or hijas de Dios, and I thought about this:  I am a daughter of God.  He called me to serve here in Chile.  So I can do this!  I really CAN do this!  I can represent Jesus Christ and share His love.  I can speak Spanish.  I can love people who try my patience.  I can learn to become more like Him.  

With this new perspective, I have been able to feel happy despite challenges and daily frustrations.  I am so hopeful for this upcoming transfer!  With my new companion, we can really work to fulfill our purpose as missionaries and touch the people here.  We have great investigators.  I feel Christ's love for them and I can just tell how special they are.  And daily He reminds me that I am special, too, and my purpose here is important! 

A day in the life of a missionary in Chile, Osorno (in training.  Because I have more study than other missionaries):
I wake up at 7:00.  Then I say my prayers and I exercise until 7:30.  From 7:30 to 8:30, I get ready for the day and eat my breakfast.  I have personal study from 8:30 to 9:30.  Then, I study with my companion from 9:30 until 11:30.  We recite our missionary purpose and read from our missionary rules book, then we share with each other what we studied and we work out of my training manual.  From 11:30 to 12:30, I have time to study Spanish.  I usually study grammar and practice with some of the exercises from my books, and then find a few new vocabulary words.  At 12:30 we go to the mamita's house for lunch.  We come back around 2:00 (the mamita talks A LOT and super crazy fast, with bajillions of Chilenismos, or colloquialisms of Chile).  We make lesson plans until 3.  Then from 3 to 9:30, we have appointments, we tract, we visit contacts, and we visit less actives.  A lot of our work is focused on less actives here in Pucón.  Between 9:30 and 10 we go back home.  We plan for the next day, and then I eat something and get ready for bed...and if I have time, write in my journal!  I say my prayers and go to bed at 11:00.

That was a pretty boring summary.  But that is basically what we do here!  :)  I am out of time now, so I will talk to you next week and tell you about my new companion!  WOO!


Abrazos and love always, Hermana Latham

Friday, November 15, 2013

Hercules

                                                                                                                                    November 11, 2013




Santiago Chile Temple (Mom added this because Hermana Latham talks about looking at Temple pictures this week :)


¡Allo familia!

Thank you SO MUCH for your letters and pictures.  It was like a party in my inbox today.  I had letters from two friends, Grandma, Benjamin, Daddy, and Mama!  I love the pictures.  LOVE LOVE LOVE the pictures!  Our house is so cute with the Halloween decorations.  Benjamin is a catch in his suit (and he looks so grown up!  how tall is he now?)  I love Abby's glasses.  And Mama, you are the cutest speech-pathologist-fairy ever.  I want to give you a hug through the computer screen.  :)  Also, thank you for the picture of the temple.  I am such a nerd for temple pictures.  Every Monday we have an extra half-hour we are allowed to use on the Internet to look at lds.org, mormon.org, etc.  Last week we looked up a few talks and things, and we still had time left over in our half-hour, so...we looked at temple pictures.  And I was so happy!!  I love and miss the temple.  

This is the temple picture she is referring to in her letter :)

I don't really know anything about how the mail gets here.  Our zone leaders get it from the office and then we get it at zone conference or training or other big meetings.  I haven't gotten any mail since I've been here, but we have zone training tomorrow, so I might get something tomorrow!  :)  Oh and another thing on logistics...the rainy season here is in the winter.  But similar to Georgia it rains all year round here.

I'm sorry you are feeling sad and missing me!  I really miss you guys a lot too, especially with Thanksgiving coming up.  I try not to think about it too much because I don't want to cry.  What I think about instead is the blessing I have to be a representative of Jesus Christ, and to be here loving these people!  XXXXX is the name of our main investigator...her family members are also investigators, but she is the one who wants to get baptized the most.  And she is so cute.  She is like our mom in Pucón.  She always asks Hermana Nappa how she's sleeping, asks us about what we're eating, is worried if it's cold and we're not wearing pantyhose, etc.  So for now when I'm so far from your hugs XXXXX gives me the hugs I need. :) 

I've been thinking about it this week and this mission really is similar to Hercules.  This is how I relate Hercules to my life:  I came to this earth as a mortal, and got to live with wonderful parents.  There came a time when I was very awkward and didn't know my own spiritual strength (high school), and then I got really excited and decided I wanted to find my way and make decisions to get stronger (BYU).  Then I traveled far away to get training and prepare to be a hero (training with Phil=MTC).  After that I felt really strong, but still a little unsure...especially because the first place I came to had a lot of problems (Pucón is kind of like Thebes).  But this tough time was just to teach me how to be a better hero.  In the end, I'm going to make my parents so proud, and then, once this life is over, God will offer me a place in His kingdom.  This perspective is so fun and makes me feel so happy!  

Right now things are hard.  There are a lot of problems (sometimes I think our branch is more like a baby twig).  But we are going to be able to help this branch to grow, and from all of the things we learn here in Pucón, we are going to be all the more prepared for later times in our lives.  And I think you're right, I would be less stressed out if my companion wasn't so intense...but it's okay.  I'm learning a lot about how to love a person who is really different from me.  She has a little sister my age, so sometimes I go crazy with how bossy she is.  So I'm deciding that it doesn't matter if she is angry, tired, whatever, I am going to decide to be happy and to listen to the promptings of the Spirit, and above all to keep loving her so she doesn't feel so lonely.  And good news about the stress...I am handling things better.  Last week I was at orange and this week I am at yellow!  The goal is green!  lol I'm working on it.  As far as loving myself...I am getting better every day.  When problems trouble all about me and I'm getting weak, that's when Satan attacks me.  But I am learning strategies to look at myself through the Lord's eyes...my potential and how much He loves me for my decisions and for my service.  I feel very loved on Mondays when I get to read your letters.  Sometimes I just sit and think about how blessed I am to have such a wonderful family!  Heavenly Father really gave me the best when He chose who was going to be my mom.  Only 6 weeks til Christmas and we get to talk on Skype!  And what's more...I know that this mission will be such a blessing in so many ways, and I wouldn't give it up for anything!  I finish my first transfer in Chile on the 20th.  Then, I will have 2 transfers down and 11 to go.  :)

So the best news of the week...the senior couple missionaries worked out an arrangement with our casa's owner, and we are going to stay in the same casa!  That was such a miracle of peace for me.  We don't have to move!  And I just know that Heavenly Father has so much more for us to learn here in Pucón and so many special people for us to serve here.  I am so glad!  Pucón is an adorable town.  The senior couple missionaries are just great.  We have two sets of them within a 2 hour radius of where we live.  One set got here just after I got here, and they live in the next town over in Villarrica.  They are helping us with the problems in our branch, which is so wonderful.  Elder Biggs has been a bishop, so he has a lot of experience.  They are like grandparents!  Hermana Biggs always gives us hugs and talks to us (and I get to talk in English...wooo!)  That helps a lot.  I miss Grandma and Nana and Buster, too, so it's nice to have the senior couple missionaries for that as well.  The Biggs are helping us to host English classes in our chapel once a week.  They were both teachers for years, so they do a better job than the elders do.  ;)  The English class we had on Friday was so fun!  They use a super simple format so we can learn it and use it when we host English classes in other sectors.  People are really interested in learning English, so it's a good way to invite people to the church.  

Two inevitable things in Chile are the rain and the dogs.  Of course, the rain is no problem for me.  I love the rain!  And now that I have rainboots it's even more fun!  Last week we had tons of rain, and also a couple of wonderfully pleasant spring type days.  We have a little backyard where we chop the firewood, and two sides of it have concrete walls.  The dog from next door dug underneath the wall and got in our yard, and he broke our fence and made our backyard a super yucky dog mess.  Blech.  I have never hated dogs more in my life!  I keep telling Hermana Nappa that I am never going to have a dog...but I just sincerely hope that my cute husband doesn't talk me into getting one one of these days!  Dogs are so awful!  We were tracting one night and this super violent dog almost attacked us.  He was SUPER close to biting Hermana Nappa.  I totally freaked out.  AGHHH I hate dogs!  I guess I can work on learning patience through dogs, too.

Another time when we were tracting we found a family of Jehovah's witnesses, and they set up an appointment with us.  So yesterday we went to their house...and it was one of the most stressful experiences of my life.  Chilean people are fairly talkative, and so for the first few minutes we just got to know each other with the mom of the family.  The whole time the dad didn't say much...and then after a few minutes, he just started straight in with questions attacking our point of view on the Plan of Salvation.  When it came to be my turn to talk, I was so freaked out and my heart was beating so fast that I couldn't remember anything in Spanish!  But he backed off some when we told him that we really don't know the Bible cover-to-cover and we're still learning.  Then, the family taught us a little about their beliefs and they let us share our testimonies and teach a little bit too.  We left them with a copy of the Book of Mormon.  I hope that they decide to read it!  With all of our investigators, we tell them that they don't need to take our word for anything.  We are just tools in the hands of the Lord, and they can receive their answers through prayer.  So we invited them to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it.  I guess we'll see what comes of that!

I have been working so hard on my Spanish, that when it comes time to speak in English, I get things mixed up.  lol a little while back when I was with Hermana McNeil, the investigator was an English professor, so she wanted to have the entire visit in English.  But when I offered the prayer in English, it was more like Spanglish, with "y" and "con" all mixed in to the prayer...lol I can't speak English OR Spanish well!  hahaha...the same when I'm writing you guys the letters.  In my mind before I type it sometimes it's in Spanish, so at the end I just hope that it all came out in English.  lol.  Right now I'm working on my Christmas cards for everyone.  But I don't have Christmas cards.  So they are farm cards with a Christmas message.  :D  I just want my family to get a Merry Christmas from Chile!  

I love you guys so so much, and I'm so thankful for all the ways that you have taught me and loved me throughout my life.  Heaven knows I wouldn't be in southern Chile serving as a missionary if it wasn't for you guys.  I'm also so thankful for everything I have learned in Primary, Young Women, and through the gospel in general.  The gospel is my hope for the future!  When I hear about how terrible things are with the U.S. government, I freak out a little bit....but I just have to remind myself how blessed we are to live in these times, and that we always have Christ on our side as we live in righteousness.

It sounds like you guys have a great plan for Thanksgiving!  Eat some sweet potatoes for me!  And I hope you all have a ball in Florida and with the end of football season.  :)



Abrazos para siempre (hugs always), Hermana Latham

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Dificil, pero nunca imposible

This is the best picture I could get of the volcano! (Volcan Villaricca)  I see it every day and just wanted to share it with you all!

Nov 4 at 12:25 PM
¡Allo familia!
 
It sounds like you guys had a great week.  :)  I'm glad that Grandma's surgery went well.  I'll be keeping her in my prayers!  I'm really sorry about the car.  :(  Hopefully the new car will be a good thing for our family.  Thank you so much for all of the things you have put in the mail for me!  It will be so nice to get a little piece of home when I am so far away.  Thank you also for your advice about what to do with the Primary.  I planned a lesson this week....and the Primary president was actually at church (usually she works on Sundays), so I taught Young Women in Spanish off the top of my head because the Young Women president wasn't at church (it's a crazy life in our branch).  And just so you know, we didn't even know about the earthquake until you told us about it.  haha so we are fine on that front.  I love what you said about how this mission is also for Hermana Latham to grow and for her family to grow.  I understand more each day just how much of a personal journey this really is.  I didn't sign up to serve a mission to get blessings from Heavenly Father...but He has me under His watchful eye and this mission really is a chance for me to grow personally.
 
This week was really, really tough.  (I'm going to tell about the bad stuff first and then the good stuff.  :) )  I told you last week about all of the problems we were facing.  Well, this week we got some more.  On Tuesday we got a call from some of the senior missionaries in our mission that we needed to start looking for a house.  As you saw in the pictures, Pucón is a super fabulous tourist place.  So our rent normally is about 170 thousand Chilean pesos a month, but for January our landlord wanted 450 thousand, and for February 600 thousand because the houses are in such high demand in the summer.  Sooo....we are searching for a house in Pucón, but no one wants to rent to us for a year-long contract.  All the houses are up for temporary rent, with a charge per night (like a hotel).  But if we don't find a house, the mission is going to have to close the hermanas sector in Pucón.  Transfers are on the 20th.  So if we find a house in time, I will be moving to another house in Pucón.  But if not, I will be transferred for the 20th.  We are so sad and so worried!  There are so many wonderful people for us to serve here in Pucón, and we don't want to have to leave them.  If we do, then the elders will be in charge of their sector and our sector (which is a super gigantic area) and we JUST committed our investigators to baptism for Nov. 30th. 
 
Then the other really tough thing is my companion's health.  She has chronic insomnia, and we went to the doctor three times the past couple of weeks.  We take a bus for 30 minutes to get to Villarrica, then we walk for a while to get to the clinic, then we sit and wait for Hermana Nappa to have a 3 minute long appointment with the doctor where he basically says, "Oh, that medication's not working for you?  Try this one and come back in a few days."  It's super frustrating.  None of the medications are helping her to sleep at all, and the most recent one she took made her really sick.  So we called the mission doctor and it turns out that this medication is prohibited for missionaries, so she can't take it anyway.  We have pretty much exhausted our resources and she will probably have to go home to Paraguay for treatment.
 
So as you can imagine, with all of the problems that are going on, I've been feeling super overwhelmed.  Now here's for the good parts.
 
On Tuesday we had a GREAT lesson with our main investigators and committed all four of them to baptism on November 30th!  We are so excited for their progress.  And the biggest part of this for me is that I was the one who invited them all!  Every time I do more things in Spanish, I feel more confident.  The lesson was fabulous.  We both gave our testimonies and helped clear up concerns they had about the first lesson.
 
On Wednesday night we went to Villarrica to do exchanges with the hermanas there, Hermana McNeil and Hermana Niño. (Hermana McNeil said her mom is friends with you in the mm group!)  It was so wonderful for me to spend time with Hermana McNeil.  She is fantastic.  She is such a positive, spiritual and hard-working missionary, and also so loving.  We had two really great lessons and I just felt the Spirit so strongly.  She is a really good friend to me.  We stayed the night with the Villarrica hermanas to travel with them to Valdivia for a special conference.  It was a 3 hour bus ride, so Hermana McNeil and I read for a while and then we just talked.  She helped me to feel a lot better, thinking about my goals as a missionary and just being able to talk to another gringa!  :)  But also she helped me to remember that in times of a lot of trial (like now) it is so important that we remember to love ourselves...which is one of the things I am working on.
 
Our training in Valdivia was with 3 different zones, and President Rappleye gave us all little booklets about how to manage missionary stress.  This booklet could not have been more timely!  Hermana Nappa and I are both just SO stressed out, but we are trying to utilize the booklet to be better (there are four levels of stress--the best is green, then there is yellow, orange, and red)  I am at orange and Hermana Nappa is at red, so we are praying to manage our stress better.  :)
 
What with this booklet, prayer, studying the scriptures, and everything, I have still been struggling to feel strong and happy this week.  I knew that I just needed to feel the peace and love of my Heavenly Father.  So yesterday after branch council meeting, I asked the elders to give me a blessing.  The words that Elder Whitaker used were just the words that I needed to hear.  Now I feel more peace and hope.  I know things aren't going to be so tough for forever.  I know that the Lord is with me and that He loves me so much!  I just need to press forward with faith.  Hermana Nappa and I talked a lot, and she reminded me that we didn't come here with money and medicine and tools to solve people's problems.  We came here with our testimonies and with the gospel, and sharing that light is the way that we can help other people.  We can help them to feel God's love and the hope that is in Christ.  I know it will take some time for me to get stronger and reach the green level of stress, but I know that I can.  I have been realizing more and more as I've been here that Satan doesn't want me on this mission.  And for that I want to fight as hard as I possibly can to beat him!  I know that I have the potential to be a wonderful, helpful missionary...and Satan can't take that away from me unless I let him. So I'm not letting him.  I am keeping a prayer in my heart always, with faith that everything will work out according the Lord's will.  I can do this!!  I can do this because I've got Jesus as my best friend.  Difícil, pero nunca imposible.  Difficult, but never impossible. 
 
I love being a missionary.  Every day we have an hour of personal study, and then after that we have companion study where Hermana Nappa and I share with each other the things we learned from personal study.  It is so great!  I have never felt such a personal connection to the scriptures.  All the answers to our questions, our investigators' concerns, and everything are in the scriptures!  They are a fountain of truth and light.  I LOVE THE SCRIPTURES!!  haha I thought I was a super Mormon nerd before this mission...I love the scriptures and the hymns more than I ever did before.  And I love my Savior more than I ever did before.  This is His mission.  And the darkness of this world will never put out His light again!  How blessed we are to live in this time.
 
A couple fun facts...every Sunday we eat with a different family in our branch, and it's like Thanksgiving.  We eat SO much on Sundays.  I always feel so huge afterwards!  Hermana Nappa says it gets easier once you get used to it.  lol.  Also the movie Despicable Me in Spanish is Mi Villano Favorito, or My Favorite Villain.  Just some fun food for thought.  lol I hope these things made you smile!  
 
I miss you all so much and I love you with all of my heart!  I will keep you always in my prayers!  Stay warm.  :)  I do not envy your cold weather!  (also thank you for the weather forecast...we never know what the weather is.  I just have a sense of, "oh, it's warm today," or "oh, today is a cardigan day.")
 
Love always and gigantic abrazos from Pucón, Hermana Latham 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

La cuarta misionera

Oct 28, 2013


¡Allo!

Everything here is so different.  Missionary work requires SO much patience at every turn!  I really like the quote you sent, to forget about how stressed you are and think about how blessed you are.  Because it would be really easy to get completely caught up in the stress of it all and just quit.  But honestly, I am so, so blessed and I know that Christ solves all problems.  As a missionary, it has become a million times clearer to me that problems are everywhere.  And the hard part is that I don't know how to solve most of them.  But I know that Christ solves problems.  So what I've been thinking is that as a representative of Christ, even if I can't personally solve a problem, it is my job to guide people to Christ's light.  He really can and will solve our problems when we have faith!  
A couple of other new foods I have tried here are sopaipillas and completos.  Sopaipillas are basically fried bread.  They are so delicious and so terrible for you at the same time.  :)  And I never liked hot dogs before...but completos just might convert me!  They are called completos because they are "complete."  It's a hot dog with cheese, tomatoes, avocado, mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, everything.  And it is SO good.  :)  We'll have to make completos Chilean style when I come home.  :D  Meals here are usually a meat and a starch and then bread.  Their salads are really simple, usually one vegetable with lemon juice, oil, and salt.  So everything is really bland, but it makes it really easy to accept new foods!  Also they never drink water.  It's all juice and soda.  Very interesting.

The spring here is like the spring anywhere else, I suppose...super bipolar!  On Tuesday and Wednesday it was super cold and we had crazy rain and some hail.  Then, yesterday, we had to take off our pantyhose after church because it was so hot.  It's really beautiful here, too!  There are so many interesting types of flowers here.  Hermana Nappa says I should take some pictures to share with Nana & Grandma since they love flowers so much.  I need to take some pictures and send them to you all!!

The culture here is so different.  Everyone is really relaxed.  This week we had three different branch activities at the chapel to help animate the members for branch conference.  They ranged from 1 to 4 hours of us waiting for people to show up (like if the activity was supposed to start at 6:30, more often than not it started at 8:00).  So that is something frustrating that I need to learn to deal with!  :)  The Easy as Cake Cookies were not easy as cake here.  :)  We made them in an investigator's home, and she did not have measuring cups, so I eyeballed everything.  Then, her stove was a wood stove.  So....they were mostly burned.  But everybody really liked them, so I guess that's good!  lol.  Then we had a talent show on Friday.  The people in our branch love my voice.  I sang first, and then at the end of the activity they asked me to sing again.  I also sang in a group a special musical number in branch conference!

So some of the grossest things here so far...cleaning our bathroom.  We don't have normal cleaners, so we clean with straight up bleach.  And we used to keep our mop outside ( I say used to because I talked my companion into moving it inside after this experience), so the bucket had dirt and grass in it...plus a snail visitor!  Woo.  So that was a fun experience....also missionary feet.  I have sweet blisters and marks all over my feet, I'm starting to have a missionary shoe tan, and my feet have never smelled worse in my life.  lol.

This week I've had a couple of different trials...I work more every day to speak more Spanish, but a lot of people laugh at me when I mess up or get stuck, and in one of our lessons, whenever I talked, our investigator turned to look at her TV show.  So sometimes I feel like I'm failing as a missionary because Spanish is so hard.  But my companion reminded me that my success as a missionary isn't determined by how well I speak Spanish.  It is determined by how hard I am working and how much I am giving to the Lord.  I read a really cool article called "The Fourth Missionary," or la cuarta misionera in español.  The fourth missionary gives all she has and is therefore truly changed by what she learns.  I was reminded that my personal progress as a missionary is one of the most important parts of this mission!  And I know that I will learn more and grow every day, and prepare to be a better wife, mother, and everything else later in my life.  My companion and I are becoming better friends, which is such a blessing.

This week I bought a backpack, rainboots, and an umbrella.  So if you haven't already put the package in the mail, don't worry about the river bag.  I'm putting two letters in the mail for you guys today.  Let me know when you get them!

We had four investigators at church on Sunday, and Primary was totally different because I had a boy in my class (oh man, he made EVERYTHING harder...my patience was at its very end.).  Thank you for your ideas!  I am borrowing a Primary manual to plan lessons.

I hope you all have a wonderful week and remember how much I love you!  Happy Halloween!


Abrazos, Hermana Latham

Tranquila, no mas

Oct 21, 2013                                        

The Elders and Sisters serving in Hermana Latham's branch traveled with some branch members several hours by car and then on foot to visit other members in a neighboring town called Curarrehue and make them lunch 
 This is the scenery they saw on the way.

¡Allo!
Thank you so much for your letter and also the recipe!  Sister missionaries really are the best.  :)  Many of the sisters I have known have been some of the best girls I've ever met.  Like you said, to serve as a sister missionary takes a desire, and many of the girls out here serving just love Christ and everyone else so much, and it's so evident.  My companion doesn't like to share her feelings and talk about things.  So it gets tough because I am having a hard time relating to her.  But this week we got the chance to spend time with the other sisters in our zone and I really learned a lot from them.  They gave me advice and hugs, and they are just so loving!  One of the sisters is from Peru, and she is honestly the sweetest person ever.  I love to see her smile!
For the Primary, I would really love some stickers.  We have colored pencils and we draw every week (because I don't really know a way to teach in Spanish for 2 hours).  Do you have any ideas?  The past two weeks I have had four girls, a 10 year old, 2 9 year olds, and a 5 year old.  So it's really hard because they're at different levels.  And my companion isn't with me...she has to be in Relief Society.  So my temporary companion is the only young woman in our branch, and she's really shy, so she doesn't help me.  I want to help them feel the Spirit and I'm doing the best I can!  I feel kind of stressed out about it...but I think it's been okay so far.  
They advise us to tell you guys to send all of our mail to the mission home address.  The package address is different from the letter address, though.  I don't know about pouch mail.  My training is 12 weeks, so I will be here until at least New Year's.  My companion says that I'll probably be here until mid-February (three transfers).  Yes, Pucón is a super tourist trap!  Once summer gets here, there will be tons of tourists.  The volcano attracts a lot of people, and it's situated right on a lake, so there's beaches people can enjoy.  They can go hiking in the nearby mountains, and then there is also skiing on the volcano (it is snowy year round).  So the center of our town has bajillions of little touristy stores, and there are American food restaurants, and all that jazz.
So the good news it that I have an hour to email and I'm allowed to email friends!  WOO!  Today I sent a bunch of pictures and answered a bunch of emails, so this email will be shorter than last week's.  
For the first week and a half or so, every day at least one person would tell me "tranquila, no más," and it drove me nuts.  The direct translation doesn't really make sense, so what it basically means is, "be calm, that's all."  This is a stressful life!  So when people said that to me, I just wanted to be like, ARGH!  But at our training on Friday, one of the assistants to the president said it to me too, and so I decided I'd give it some thought.  We were on the bus back from Lanco, and I was just looking out the window at the beautiful Chilean countryside and thinking.  In my life, everything that has ever been stressful, that I ever thought I couldn't do...Jesus Christ helped me to accomplish it.  So I thought about it a little bit more...and if I decide to have faith in His ability to help me, then I really don't need to be stressed out, because I can know that He is there.  This thought entirely changed my perspective.  I could feel Him saying, "tranquila, mi hija."  Be calm, my child.  He has a plan and I will be able to do this!
After this day, all of my days have been better.  He helps me to remember the scriptures and the Spanish words that I need to bring the Spirit.  I have been able to teach gospel principles in Spanish through the Spirit, and on Sunday I gave a talk in church and was able to share the Spirit.  When I trust Him, He trusts me to be His representative.  
We had a really awesome branch activity on Friday night, and we are going to read the Book of Mormon as a branch in four months!  Everyone is really excited.  
I have SO much more I want to say but I don't have time!  :'(  I will write more next week.  I love you all so, so much and I miss you a lot!  I miss your voices and your smiles.  But I trust in Heavenly Father that this is exactly where I need to be right now.  I hope you will find joy in putting your faith in Jesus Christ just as I do every day of this mission.

Abrazos, Hermana Latham
      Diguenes-these are the weird mushrooms I told you about that grow on the trees.

                                        They're sweet and spongy and orange on the inside!
                                                         Ward BoM activity!
                             Hermana Latham and Hermana Nappa with their baby investigator
                                                                Our house :)

Friday, October 18, 2013

¡Estoy en Chile!



Oct 14 at 5:01 PM
¡Hola familia!
 
¡Estoy en Chile!  I am in Chile!!!  This has been the longest, craziest week of my life and I have so much to say (and also a bazillion pictures, but those will have to wait for next week because today is a little crazy).
 
Every day I wake up and I cannot believe that I am here, and that Heavenly Father has blessed me with the opportunity to serve here.  It is stunningly, unbelievably gorgeous here.  I know everyone here is super-biased, but I agree with them...this is the most beautiful mission in the world!  In our sector, we have a fantastic view of the Volcan Villarrica.  All around it, there are other gorgeous mountains.  Also, it is spring here and the flowers and trees are growing and it is so beautiful.  I can´t wait to send the pictures.
 
Being here in a completely different culture is really interesting and super hard at times.  Like Uncle Evan warned me, there are approximately 8 bajillion dogs here.  They are EVERYWHERE.  Some are loud.  Some are big.  And some are scary.  And it didn´t help that on the first day here, President and Hermana Rappleye told us what to do in case of dog bites!  AHH!  I really don´t want to get bitten by a dog!  Also today I bought a waterbottle...and it is water with gas, which means...I think seltzer water in the States?  I don´t know, but it´s super weird!
 
As a missionary, every day is an adventure.  On Monday night, we flew all night...about 8 or 9 hours from Mexico City to Santiago.  (for time purposes, Chile is 2 hours ahead of Mexico City).  It was the longest night ever!  I have super issues sleeping on planes, and every time I would fall asleep the baby next to me would start crying again...but at the same time it was really great, because I got to sit next to a 23 year old Chilean girl, and she was fabulous.  We had entire conversations in Spanish, and that really calmed my nerves for when I got to Chile and needed to speak to native Chileans.  She told me a lot about Chilean culture and she thought that what I was doing was really great.  As we were landing, she explained to me different things about the cordillera, or Andes Mountains.  I never imagined how it would feel to see the Andes Mountains with my own eyes.  They are unbelievable.  I could not keep my mouth closed!  So, SO beautiful.  And GIGANTIC!  I thought the Rockies were big.  No.  Not in comparison to the Andes.  I consider it a blessing that the Lord has given me to be able to see so many beautiful things.  Once we landed in Santiago, we had to go through customs, security, all that jazz again and then, finally, we got to our gate for our second flight.  I sat next to Elder Johnson and Elder Washburn and it was really fun to have a conversation with them, get to know them a little better and everything.  After an hour drive from the airport to Osorno, we had orientation with the mission president. 
 
On Wednesday I met my new companion!  Her name is Hermana Nappa and she is from Paraguay.  She is super interesting.  We are very different, but thankfully she talks a lot more than my last companion, so it´s not as hard to maintain conversation.  She is 22 and has already finished 4 years of college.  She has three left because she wants to become a doctor!  I have learned a lot from her already.  She is very hard-working, smart, and obedient.  Also...she speaks English!  Not entirely fluently, but enough so that she can help meunderstand a LOT.  We are getting to know each other better, and I hope that as the weeks progress it will be more of an equal partnership.  A lot of the time I am frustrated because she knows what´s going on while I have no idea, and she doesn´t really tell me, so I feel like she´s kind of dragging me around...but I am doing my best and I am going to ask her more questions this week.  We had to travel 5 hours by bus to get to Pucón, the northeastern most area in our mission.  Our casita is really cute, but also really cold at night.  So yes, I have been chilly in Chile.  :)
 
Thursday was my first official day in the mission field.  It was tough, but great.  We had three lessons on my very first day!  I actually understand quite a bit of what people are saying.  I got to meet our ¨golden¨ investigators...the ones who are progressing.  There is a mom, a dad, a teenage daughter, a little boy, and a baby girl.  They are wonderful!  I am completely in awe of their patience and their willingness to love.  The people here are easily the kindest, humblest, and friendliest people that I have ever known.  It´s hard though, because this specific family really loved the hermana who was here before, and they really want her back.  I hope that they will be able to love me too.  We also had a meeting with our branch mission leader and the other elders in our branch.  Our branch has a tiny amount of members, but a HUGE area, so there are 4 of us to cover it.  The other elders are both from the States, which is really helpful so I can ask them questions.  Our mamita makes us lunch every day.  She is so hard for me to understand!  She speaks really fast and with lots of ¨chilenismos,¨ or colloquialisms of Chile.  On the first day,she told me that I looked like someone from a storybook with my blonde curls.  It´s funny to be compared to Goldilocks when in our country I look super normal!  Everyone here tells me that I am ¨linda,¨ or pretty, which is so sweet. 
 
On Friday we got to do the coolest thing.  There is an elderly couple in our branch who both have Alzheimer´s, and we got to share service with them.  We went on a walk with the lady, who is in a wheelchair.  She is wonderful!  It was so wonderful to be able to serve them because I could almost see them through Christ´s eyes, and understand just how much He loves them.  To feel that love is all that I want to feel!  I know that is pure charity, and I want to always have that.  Also, when we were tracting we found a really great woman and her daughter.  As we were talking, she said that she had prayed for help...and there we were to help her.  It is miracles like this that tell me that I am doing what the Lord wants me to do.  What a blessing it is to be able to share this beautiful gospel!  I feel the Spirit so strongly every day.
 
As I was typing that I remembered some things I don´t want to forget to tell you.  When we knock doors here, we don´t knock.  We stand outside the gates and shout, Allo!  People here don´t actually say hola, or adios.  They say Allo for hello and Ciao for goodbye!  Also they love it when I tell them things about the United States.  They think it´s really cool, or ¨super bakan.¨ haha.  :)  I really haven´t eaten anything here that I didn´t like!  The food is really agreeable.  There is a ton of bread.  But I have also tried two new things here.  One is called manjar...it´s kind of like caramel, but soft and squishy and spreadable.  It is SO good.  The other is digueñes.  They are a kind of mushroom that grows on trees.  They are really interesting, kind of spongy and kind of sweet.  I have pictures of them for next week!
 
On Saturday we went to visit a man in our branch who lives SUPER far away, in the next town over, Curarrehue.  It was an hour bus ride, and then about 2 hours hiking to his house up in the mountains.  The pictures are unbelievable!  Oh my gosh.  So beautiful.  We were there with the elders and a couple of members from our branch to make him lunch and spend some time with him.  It was really fun.  When we got back, one of our investigators taught us how to cut firewood so that our casita can be a little bit warmer.  So I used an axe for the first time and chopped firewood!  We learned how to start fire in our little heater.  And now our house is calentito (warm).  The fire makes me so happy!  It is so sweet and relaxing and most importantly, warm.  The first night here I wore tights, thermals, pajamas, a jacket, 2 pairs of socks, and like 6 blankets.  It´s not that cold outside, but in our house it used to be freezing! 
 
Sunday was a lot of firsts for me.  We went to church, and there was nobody to teach the Primary.  My companion is one of the counselors in the Relief Society Presidency, and one of the elders is the first counselor in the branch presidency.  So naturally, we help a lot.  So...approximately 2 minutes before Primary was supposed to start, I was asked to teach!  I was TERRIFIED!  So, I taught Primary to four precious little girls for the first time ever teaching Primary...for two hours...in Spanish.  We drew pictures of the things we are grateful for and talked about our blessings.  I think it was okay for my first time ever.  After that we had branch council (which was a HUGE deal because this branch hasn´t had council meeting for over a year) and I have never been more confused in my life. They were planning about 6 activities for the upcoming week...all at the same time.  In normal conversation, when people are talking about one thing, I can understand the general idea of what´s going on.  But in branch council I just felt so stupid.  I was so frustrated.  But everybody here comments on how good my Spanish is for the short time I´ve been here, so I keep trying to remember that.  I have super high expectations of myself and I just want to know everything right now!  But I am doing my very best to ignore the voices of Satan and to believe that I CAN do this.  I CAN learn how to be the missionary the Lord needs me to be.  (speaking of the activities...can you please send me the recipe for Easy as Cake Cookies?  I realized that I am living in a country in which Cool Whip doesn´t exist, so I can´t make banana pudding for our branch potluck.  But there should be cake mix.)
 
Yesterday also President and Hermana Rappleye came to Pucón to interview our investigators...they can´t get baptized yet because they need to get married first!  But after the interview, the dad agreed that he would get married.  So that is our super fabulous news for the week.  Today is P-day, but tomorrow is zone conference, which is far away from where we live.  So we are in the town next door, Villarrica, spending time working with the hermanas here.  We will spend the night with them tonight and all travel to Lanco together tomorrow.  It is so nice to be with other hermanas!  We celebrated the birthdays of two hermanas today with crepes and we watched the movie about Emma Smith.  One of the sisters in Villarrica went to BYU and she is really helpful answering all of my questions.
 
I think a messenger bag would work really well.  I like the idea of the more fabric-like, water-resistant one.  Also I have another thing to ask for Christmas...I lost my black sweater somehow in the move, so I would really appreciate a black cardigan.  Also my favorite missionary scripture is Jacob 5:72 (And it came to pass that the servants did go and labor with their mights; and the Lord of the vineyard labored also with them; and they did obey the commandments of the Lord of the vineyard in all things.) Thank you so much for your advice in your letter!  I love you so much and I miss you every day!  My new companion doesn´t like hugs and I´m struggling....but thankfully everyone else here does like hugs, so I´m okay.  I wish I could say more, but we have to leave!  I love you so so so so much!  I think of you every day and I miss you.
Love you always.
 
Abrazos, Hermana Latham