Wednesday, January 1, 2014

el espíritu santo, nuestro mejor amigo

 Hermana Latham and Hermana Montalvan

My district

Dec 16, 2013

Oh Mama, even from so far away, you know me so well.  I normally try not to tell you about the bad, lame, or frustrating things that happen because I don't want you to worry about me.  Also, I'm limited in the details I can give.  And I don't want to say mean things about other people either!  But yeah, missionary life is not all roses and butterflies.  hahaha...  I try to share the most important things, and the spiritual things.  It makes me so happy that so many people can read my blog!  Being a missionary just makes me want to tell everybody about the gospel and about how much Heavenly Father loves them, so it's really special to be able to do that a little bit with the blog.  I CAN'T WAIT TO TALK TO YOU GUYS!  I have been pretty good about not missing you all too much for the first 3 months...but with December, and Christmas and everything, it gets hard at points.  I am so happy that I will be able to see your face and hear your voice!  I just miss your voice so much.  It's funny, they always say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, and it's true.  I always tried to value my family as much as I could when I was home, but the amount that I value you all today is so much more.  I can see how the Lord has had me in His tender care for all of my life, and truly, as Nephi of old, I have goodly parents!  It makes me so happy that you are trying to have Family Home Evening more.  Family Home Evening is so important!  It unifies the family in the gospel.  Yeah, I don't know why in other missions it is so different...I suppose it's all up to the mission president.  I still don't really know when I'll be able to call....we have clearance to call the 23rd, 24th, or 25th, and in Honduras the 24th is when they do all of the celebrating (they wait until midnight on the 24th...I can't imagine Christmas in the middle of the night!  lol), so Hermana Montalván wants to talk to her family on the 24th.  For me it doesn't matter so much what day as long as I get to see you guys!  

As far as the Women's Chorus stuff, I don't know if it's the same songs I already have.  If you look in iTunes under BYU Women's Chorus, you'll see all the songs I have.  If it's the same thing, then I don't need to download it again.  Oh, and I finally got the Thanksgiving cards from you and from Nana & Buster.  And thank you for all of the Christmas things you have been sending in the emails.  I LOVED the picture of the Salt Lake Temple with the lights.  We didn't get to watch the Christmas devotional this year, so I miss seeing the temple all lit up.  Also I am excited for the Christmas scripture calendar.

So it is super weird to have Christmas in the summer.  SUPER weird.  People have their Christmas trees in their windows, with green grass and gorgeous flowers in the front yard.  lol my brain just does not compute that.  Speaking of flowers, there are more hydrangeas here than I have ever seen, and they are huge and gorgeous right now!  The majority of them are blue, but there are also white ones.  Because we are so far south, our days are even longer in the summer.  It gets dark around 10:00.  And I have no idea when the sun comes up because when we get up at 7:00, it's already up and it looks like 9 or 10 AM in the States.  Also it's starting to get hot here, and the sun is super strong, so we are using sunscreen.  But today we get to take advantage of the beautiful weather...we are going with two senior couples of missionaries and another set of sisters to see some waterfalls in Caburgua (they are called ojos de Caburgua).  I will send pictures next week!

This week we had multi-zone conference with three zones, and we heard from both Hermana and President Rappleye.  They know so much about how we can grow to be better missionaries!  They talked about the importance of the Holy Ghost in every phase of missionary work.  The Holy Ghost, our best friend (el Espíritu Santo, nuestro mejor amigo).  Then when we got home, in companion study we were talking about the importance of the Holy Ghost AGAIN...and so I realized that what I really need to be focusing on is the companionship of the Holy Ghost.  So I have studied more about Him this week.  His companionship really is the greatest blessing we can ever have.  He blesses us with feelings of comfort and peace, and He testifies of the truth.  In this world where so many voices compete for our attention, it can get really complicated to find the voice of the Holy Ghost.  Even as missionaries, we struggle mightily with that!  But one thing I read this week was in Ephesians 6, about putting on the whole armor of God.  In order to withstand the evil voices that Satan puts in our minds, we need to use the shield of faith to fight of his fiery darts!  So I have been thinking about a missionary as a kind of warrior who stands for truth, and the importance of the full armor of God.  

In the zone conference, we all got a Santa hat and we sang Christmas English!  It was super fun.  But they had asked me to direct the songs, and so at the end my voice hurt so much and I just needed water!  When there isn't accompaniment I have to sing so loud!  After the zone conference, Elder and Hermana Biggs gave us a ride home ( no bus!  YES! ) and took us out for pizza.  It is so great to have their support.  They are helping us with our abundant problems in our branch, and it's great because the branch members really respect them.  They really are our mission grandparents.  Hermana Biggs always gives us big hugs.

 Elder and Hermana Biggs (our matrimonio missionaries or senior couple)

The biggest challenge this week has been with my companion.  Signing up to live with a person 24/7 is no joke.  I love the mission and I am learning so much, but I am so thankful that after these 18 months I don't have to be with one single person all the time!  Because when you are with a person for so much time, it is super easy to get frustrated with one another and then you can't escape.  lol.  So we have had our various frustrations, and I didn't think they were all that bad because in general we get along.  But when we have weekly planning, we also have companionship inventory.  And in companionship inventory, my companion told me that this is the hardest companionship she has ever had and that her problems with a companion have never been so extreme.  This hurt my feelings SO much.  The problems that we have are small in comparison to the problems I've had with other companions.  So you know me, I started thinking, "What the heck is wrong with me?  I just try so hard to love my companions, and I have had problems with every one!  Maybe if I was different things would be better...."  But I know that these thoughts come from Satan and I am NOT willing for him to drag me down!  It is so normal to have problems with a companion.  And Heavenly Father created me the way that I am, so I don't need to try to be different.  So I prayed a lot and studied what I could do to make our communication better.  I found two things that I really liked.  One is in Ephesians 4:29-32, and it talks about laying aside bitterness and anger in our communication in order to focus on kindness and love.  Also, I just love Mosiah 3:19, where it talks about overcoming the natural man.  Now, Hermana Montalván has said and done some things that hurt my feelings...but things will never get better if I don't let it go.  So I realized that what I need to do is focus on forgiveness and understanding, and strive to be humble in my communication with her.  I know I have hurt her feelings too...but that doesn't make me a failure as a companion.  I can be a better companion each day as I learn more forgiveness, humility, and understanding.  Also I've been trying to remember that she is just a really dramatic person who tends to blow things out of proportion, and I don't need to keep blowing it out of proportion, but rather to try and understand how I can be better.  I have been thinking about it, and honestly, after the time that we have as companions, we will probably never see each other again.  But the things that I learn from being her companion...the ways that I learn to be a better person...are the marks she will leave on my life, and I will be a better friend, a better daughter, a better wife, and better mother from the things I learn.  I figure no companion will be easy.  And that doesn't make me a bad person or a bad missionary!  I just need to find out how I can love better each time.

I love the sweet rewards that Heavenly Father gives me for the efforts I strive to give to Him.  This week we were searching for a less active to visit, and it was a street name we didn't recognize, but we knew in general where it should be.  So we asked a bunch of people where the street was.  For a while it seemed like the street might not even exist.  But we kept going and we finally found a man who knew where the street was.  We went to the house, and the less active wasn't there, but his grandma was.  She listened to us and shared with us her faith in Jesus Christ and how much she loves the power of prayer.  She even accepted a baptismal date in the first contact!  The other super cool day I was reading A Brief Introduction to the Book of Mormon in Spanish, and at the same time listening to an orchestral version of Joseph Smith's First Prayer.  I just felt this sweet, clear feeling that all of this really is true.  I just knew, in that moment, that Joseph Smith really saw God and Jesus Christ, and that the Book of Mormon is the word of God.  I can't hold back the tears with I think of that sweet manifestation.  I know that this mission shapes me in so many ways.  At times it is unbelievably hard.  But it is so worth it.  

I love you so much and I miss you!  I am so thankful every day for your support and love for me.  Families truly are one of the greatest blessings that we enjoy.  
I hope you are having a wonderful week getting ready for Christmas!  I have run myself out of time to email other people (again), so if you would tell Abby not to stress about finals, Nana and Buster that I love them SO MUCH, Aunt Janet that I am so thankful for her email and I miss her...I would so appreciate that.  The next time I email you we will be only hours away from when we get to SKYPE!!!

Ginormous abrazos, and all the love I have to give, Hermana Latham  

(Mama asked Melanie to send pictures of where she lives, so she attached these!)

 Our tiny estufa where we make fire when it's cold

My study area

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