November 11, 2013
Santiago Chile Temple (Mom added this because Hermana Latham talks about looking at Temple pictures this week :)
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