Friday, February 21, 2014

experiencias celestiales

                                                                                                                 February 18, 2014

HOLA from Rio Bueno!

After 6 short weeks in Los Laureles I got transferred!  I was pretty shocked that I was leaving so quickly.  Hermana Johnson is staying in Los Laureles and training a newbie.  I hope that she can see how lucky she is to serve in such a fantastic area!  That young couple we found did go to church, and I got to teach them one lesson before I left.  They are incredible and I just know that they will be wonderful members!  Leaving Los Laureles was really hard for me.  I work so hard each day to be a better missionary, and I had prayed so hard to have charity for the members, the investigators, and everyone naturally I CRIED so much to leave!  I don't think I've ever loved people so much in such a short period of time.  I took so many pictures (my camera won't connect to the computer today, though) and said so many goodbyes.  The sweet young women we worked with made me a memory box, the Relief Society president gave me some souvenirs from Osorno, my favorite less active wrote me a letter, and JXXX and GXXX (our golden family) gave me a beautiful necklace.  I really could not believe the bonds that I much I loved them and how much they loved me.  But I really trust in the hand of the Lord and in His plan...and here I am in Rio Bueno!

Rio Bueno is a little town about 40 minutes outside of Osorno.  It has a sweet little town vibe and kind of reminds me of Because of Winn-Dixie.  Our sector is really bursting with potential!  We are working with a lot of part-member families and young investigators...a lot of people who can really be blessed by the gospel in their lives.  It's a branch here, but we have a chapel.  There are 6 missionaries serving here, 4 sisters and 2 elders.  So I say that Rio Bueno is a little town because there is not much here...but there are a ton of people who live here!  It's kind of like a suburb.  A lot of people work in nearby Osorno or La Unión.  

My new companion is so wonderful.  I love her SO much!  Her name is Hermana Núñez.  She was born in Ecuador, but has lived in Spain for the past 13 years.  She's a year older than me and she is a science girl too, studying environmental science.  I learn so much from her every day about how to invite the Spirit into our lives more.  She really carries it with her, and she is so peaceful, happy, and loving.  I am so excited to serve with her!

I don't have quite the right words to describe the conference with Elder Ballard.  The best way that I could think of to sum it up was "experiencias celestiales," because it was really a heavenly, celestial experience.  The conference was about three hours south of here in bus but we had to be there very early in the morning, so we stayed the night with some sisters in another city.  There were six of us in the house and we had a devotional before bed where we all shared our testimonies and sang our mission song, "Fe en cada paso," or "Faith in Every Footstep."  Here is a link to the mission song Melanie is referring to:
Our bus to the conference was filled with sister missionaries.  It was so amazing to be on that bus!  We sang a bunch of hymns on the way to the conference, and I could hardly hold back the tears when we sang "Yo sé que vive mi Señor," "I Know That My Redeemer Lives."  It was just so incredible.  And here is a link to the hymn, "I Know That My Redeemer Lives":

When we got to the chapel, it was so cool to be there with almost all the missionaries in the mission!  Out of 12 zones, 10 were there and the other two were there through videoconference (those are the zones where the transfers are by airplane).  When Elder Ballard came in, he shook every single one of our hands.  Every single one.  He told me good morning.  It was so unbelievable to actually see him in person.  The conference was wonderful.  Elder Gonzalez, our area seventy, and his wife both spoke.  Then Elder Rasband from the presidency of the seventy and his wife.  Then Elder Ballard's daughter, and then Elder Ballard.  It was truly a celestial experience.  When I think about it now, I feel like that whole room was taken and put inside of heaven for a couple of hours.  It was like being in the temple.  Warm, spiritual, deeply happy.  When Elder Ballard spoke, it was so powerful.  He is quite the presence.  He really explained the importance of missionary work, and faith, and of fighting to win this war against the adversary.  The center of his message was that there are so many people here in Chile who don't really know who God is.  They might think that they know...but they don't really know.  He is our Heavenly Father, and we are His children.  "It's that simple," he said.  He is our Heavenly Father, and we are His children.  When I think about how this world could change if every single person really knew this, it draws me to tears.  How blessed we are to know that...and how important it is to share it with others!  

Elder Ballard bore a powerful, powerful witness that Jesus is the Christ.  I have heard apostles testify in General Conference so many times throughout my life.  But yesterday, seeing Elder Ballard in the same room as me and hearing him bear testimony of Christ, was unbelievable.  There is no doubt in my mind that Christ lives.  He loves us and He will lead us to eternal life.  He invites us every day, and all we need to do is choose to come unto Him.  In a world like this, it is so important that we defend the kingdom of God and stand up boldly for what we believe in.  It really will bless the lives of the people who surround us.  It blesses my life every day.  Yesterday was such a heavenly experience.  I got to see all of my old companions (except for Hermana Nappa) and give them all giant hugs.  We were so happy to see each other and hear about the progress that we had made since the last time we saw each other.  I really think that that is what heaven will be like.  We will be able to see everyone that we loved here on earth and give them great big hugs and hear about all of the things that they did here on earth.  I look forward to that day!

Every day I strengthen my resolve to give all that I have to the Lord.  Every day I strive to be a better missionary.  Yesterday on the bus I was reflecting...I am practically a third of the way through the mission.  And today I am not the same person that I was when I boarded the plane to Mexico City.  I have learned and grown so much.  I have loved and been loved so much.  I have strengthened my testimony of the Savior.  It seems that as time goes by I become increasingly aware of all the things that I don't know and all of the things that I don't understand.  There are a whole whole lot of them!  But what I do know is that there is a God in heaven who looks down on all of us with very loving eyes, and He is willing to help us if we let Him in.  I hope that in the year I have left as a full-time missionary, I can open my heart more and more to Him and serve Him with all that I have.

I love you all so very much!  You are in my thoughts and my prayers.

Abrazos GIGANTES de Rio Bueno, Hermana Latham 

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