Friday, March 14, 2014

Hacer y Correo Corto

                                                                                        March 10, 2014 
"Our favorite Carrito"~Hermana Nuñez and I crack up every time we see these little things.  These are vehicles you don't really see outside of Rio Bueno, Chile
¡Hola hola!

Thank you so much for all of your emails.  And for asking other people to email me.  I got mail from Sister Walker, Brackin, Nana, Benjamin, Abby, Daddy, and you.  I really appreciate all of the support that you give me!  You guys have talked a lot lately about coming home early, but I wouldn't imagine it unless I really, really had to.  Some people get sick without warning and have to go home.  But I am here to stay until the end of February 2015!!  I committed to the Lord 18 months of my life so that I could help Him in this work!  The mittens are cute, but I think that I will be good with the gloves.  Thank you for thinking of me with the box and the Easter card!  haha!  The other card got here the day before Valentine's Day, I just forgot to tell you.  It was so fun because I got that card and a card from Grandma right before Valentine's Day.

Thank you also for your prayers and for your examples.  I have such a fabulous family!  Sometimes I can really imagine your hugs through the computer!  My companion is really great and gives me lots of hugs.  This transfer is more than halfway over, and I am starting to get sad because I will miss her so much if she's not my companion again next transfer!  Our area is tough, but it is not as tough as I made it sound last week.  I was having a tough afternoon and a more than emotional moment when my letter to you guys disappeared.  :(  We have so, so many investigators....the thing that we are working for now is that they can progress.  Because they can listen all they want, but if they don't do anything about what we have taught them and the Spirit they have felt, then nothing changes.  That is actually the theme of this week's letter....hacer, or to do.

Okay, so last week I had written about a whole bunch of things I always forget to tell you.  And the email disappeared.  So I am going to write them again.  haha.

I am teaching English classes here!  It is so much fun.  It's also a challenge.  I've never taught English before, much less to people who speak Spanish.  But the classes are going pretty well!  I love teaching.  One of the elders here is also from the U.S., and we are thinking about what we can do to invite more people to the classes and help people to learn in an inviting, fun situation.

In this Chilean summer, we have SO enjoyed the fruit!  There is so, so much great fruit here.  Cherries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, apples, plums, peaches, grapes, everything.  People give us fruit all the time.  The fruit is so fresh and SO good.  It's all grown here.  So we are trying to soak as much out of it as we can before it gets cold and the fruit goes away again!  haha.

I love the Book of Mormon so much!  Studying it in Spanish is a really great challenge for me.  As I study it, I really have to pay attention and meditate to understand what the words are saying.  And because of that, the Book of Mormon truly means so much more to me this time around reading it.  It is slow going.  haha I started around Christmas and right now I am at the end of 2 Nephi.  But I am really enjoying it and loving how it is truly another testament of Jesus Christ.  It means exactly the same thing in Spanish.  And it is in over 100 languages around the world so that people can read it in their native tongue and come to love and understand their Savior more.  How BLESSED we are to have it!  We live in a district here (instead of a stake) and our district has been really focused on reading the Book of Mormon lately.  So we have been talking about it a lot and thinking about how we can incorporate it better into our lessons and invite people to read it.  This week we had a lesson with a couple who we really love.  They have a tough time keeping their commitments, and it's tough to invite the Spirit into their home.  But we read Alma 32 together with them, and it was really beautiful how the Spirit came into the room!  They truly understood the concept of faith, and the young man said that the ways that he can "water his plant," or strengthen his faith, are by praying, reading the scriptures, and going to church.  He really understood!  I love the Book of Mormon.

So this past week was so crazy!  I feel like I say that every week.  Basically it has been 6 months of crazy weeks and I guess I can look forward to a year more of them!  You would think that with our strict schedule and everything that missionary life would be pretty predictable...not really.... :)

Last Friday we bought 4 cubic meters of firewood and brought them all into our shed.  It was hard work!  I really appreciate central heating and never realized it!  But here in southern Chile, everyone heats their homes with firewood in little stoves.  The handiman came to our house yesterday to install our fire stove.  I'm not sure what the missionaries did last winter to heat the house, but I am really glad that our owner is putting in a fire stove!

 Here is me with the mountain of firewood after the guys threw it in our front yard.
Then me with the firewood all stacked up in our shed!

On Monday we went to a viewing and on Tuesday the funeral of a less active lady in our branch.  It was just on that day when I emailed y'all with the short email and I was feeling pretty crummy.  I talked to my companion and felt a lot better.  Then when we went to the viewing, I felt a prompting that I should offer to play some hymns on the piano.  It was so sweet to feel the Spirit that came in with the hymns.  The elders sang while I played and it was really nice.  I also played at the funeral and all of us as missionaries sang, as well.  I actually really enjoyed the funeral.  It made me think more about the plan of salvation, and how I am sure that there is a life after this one.

We had zone conference this week with three different zones, and President Rappleye came to speak to us. (Mom's note:  President Rappleye is the man who is in charge of all the missionaries in Melanie's mission)  We also had district conference yesterday (like stake conference) and President Rappleye spoke about the same things that he shared in zone conference.  It struck me both times, so I wanted to share it with you all.  A couple weeks ago we had the opportunity to hear from Elder Ballard, and we have all been trying to be better according to what we learned from him. (Elder Ballard is a church official based in Salt Lake City who has responsibility for several of the missions in South America) But I really loved how President Rappleye applied it.  He centered it all in hacer, or to do.  We all heard the words of Elder Ballard.  We all listened and took notes.  But what are we actually doing to make those words make a difference?  President talked about the power that lies in the words to do.  He shared the story from Matthew 7 with the wise man who built his house upon the rock and the foolish man who built his house upon the sand.  He said that we usually focus on the difference between their foundations, the rock of Jesus Christ or the sand.  But if we read carefully in verses 24 and 26, both the man on the rock and the man on the sand heard and listened to the words of Christ.  But the one who builds his house upon the rock doeth them.  He listens to the words of Christ and doeth them!  Then the other man doeth them not.  So what difference does it make to us to listen to the words of Christ if we don't do anything about what we have learned?  Like you were saying about how faith is a principle of action, we need to listen to the words of Christ and act upon them.  President asked us what we are going to do to apply the words of Elder Ballard and to be better missionaries.

 This is our entire zone (Zona La Union) at Zone Conference.
This is all of the sisters from three zones.  There are so many of us in these three zones!!

This week we also had the blessing to go to the baptism of an old investigator!  Hermana Núñez and I both served in Los Laureles (she was companions with Hermana Johnson before I was), and so we both taught José.  We received special permission to go back just for the baptism.  There are some moments in life where you feel so much happiness that it fills you up and there aren't words to describe it.  This was one of those moments.  A celestial experience.  A beautiful, beautiful moment to see how glowing and how happy he was, and how committed he is to follow Christ and to teach his family.  It was wonderful.

Throughout the week Hermana Núñez and I have taught so many wonderful people, and after the baptism, now we are just thinking, "Okay.  Who can be next?  How can we help people to really change their lives for the better?"  We are so excited.  ¡VIVA RIO BUENO!

I love you all so so much.  I miss you!  But I am so happy to be here and to be inviting people to make the steps to have an eternal family.

Love always, gigantes abrazos, Hermana Latham

                                                                                             Monday, March 3, 2014
This email is going to be super short (correo corto is short email).  I wrote a really long, good letter like normal, but I have had SO many problems with the computer today and it said that it was sending my email, but never actually now 30 minutes worth of writing is lost.  I think a couple of the pictures I tried to send got to you.  I would try to write again, but P-day is over and we have appointments.  I feel SO frustrated.  Next week I will send a really good letter.

Thank you for all the love that you send me!  I miss your hugs a lot too.  This area is not an easy one.  I have never prayed harder in my life.  But the Lord is teaching me a lot of faith, hope and patience.  I am working really hard to be a better missionary every day.  I'm SO proud of Abby and Benjamin that they want to go on missions, and of Mama for leaving with the missionaries!  (mom's note:  She means going on visits with the sister missionaries serving here in GA!) That requires a lot of bravery!

I am having a rough time lately with feeling like I am not doing a good job as a missionary.  I am trying to give it my best, and I know that the Lord calls imperfect people to do His work.

One interesting thing, this week we bought firewood.  That is something I will probably never do again outside of Chile!  I'll share more details next week.

I love you all.  I pray for you every day and hope you are doing well!  My testimony of the Book of Mormon grows every day.  I invite you guys to keep having family home evening with Preach My Gospel and also to read the Book of Mormon!  It is an incredible source of fire for our faith.

Abrazos, Hermana Latham

Hermana Latham and Hermana Johnson (companion in her previous area)

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