Sunday, April 13, 2014

un verdadero discípulo de Jesucristo

April 7, 2014

Message from Mom:  Melanie asked me to share an explanation of General conference for anyone reading the blog who might not know what it is, since she would be talking about it in this letter:  
"General conference is a semiannual gathering of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. During general conference weekend, Church members and others gather worldwide in a series of two-hour sessions to receive inspiration and instruction from Church leaders. Conference sessions are held the first weekends in April and October. They are held Saturdays and Sundays at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. mountain time." To watch some of the talks and parts of the broadcast click this link:
¡Hola hola!

Could there have BEEN a more powerful General Conference?  I love General Conference so very much.  I feel like every time it comes around, I love it more and the talks mean more to me.  I just can't wait for the Liahona to get here so I can read all the talks again!  I agree with you, I loved the talks from President Uchtdorf and President Monson.  I also LOVED the talks from Elder Andersen, Elder Nelson, Elder Packer, and Elder Bednar.  WOW.  I have been praying recently to understand the nature of God more, and it was incredible to me how much the speakers talked about the love of God.  I loved what President Monson said, that our Heavenly Father is personal and real.  I testify of that.  He understands us even when we don't understand ourselves, and He is truly there.  If we humbly get down on our knees to speak with Him, He listens, and He comforts our souls.  I also loved Elder Zwick's talk about using better language...but mostly for what he said at the end, that Jesus really cares what we are thinking.  I love that!  There are so many times that we think that nobody cares what we are thinking...but Jesus always cares.  He is the best friend that we could ever have.  

I think that one of my favorite things from General Conference was how much the speakers talked about being a true disciple of Jesus Christ--un verdadero discípulo de Jesucristo.  Elder Holland explained to us that being a disciple of Jesus has pleasant parts and painful parts.  I never realized how true that was until I came on this mission!  Being a true disciple of Jesus Christ means giving your all to Him.  It is not easy.  It is not comfortable.  But it brings to us some of the truest joy and the deepest peace that we can ever experience.  To be a disciple of Jesus Christ is to learn to be more and more like Him.  In conference, we learn how to be more like Him in a lot of different ways.  I listened for ways that I can be more humble, more tolerant, more obedient...and most of all, have more faith.  I thought it was interesting how many people talked also about the reality of the adversary.  That is also something that has become very clear to me as a missionary.  He will always be there to attack the truth and try to knock us down.  But no matter how strong his winds are, the powers of goodness--the powers of Christ--are always so, so much stronger.  There are a lot of things that I do not understand.  I have never seen Christ.  But I have felt His love, and I know that He lives!  The Spirit testifies to me that this is true.  I love a scripture that I found this week, Moroni 10:6 & 7. "And whatsoever thing is good is just and true; wherefore,nothing that is good denieth the Christ, but acknowledgeth that he is.  And ye may know that he is, by the power of the Holy Ghost;wherefore would exhort you that ye deny not the power of God; for he worketh by power, according to the faith of the children of men, the same today and tomorrow, and forever."

I have officially been here in Chile for six months!  I am still not a perfect missionary.  But I am striving to be a good missionary!  I learn more every single day.

This week we learned what a blessing it is to work with the members.  I loved what Elder Ballard shared in conference, and how connected it was with what he shared with us when he came to visit Chile.  This work is the work of the Lord, which means that it is the work of all of us, full-time missionaries and member missionaries.  It makes me so happy that y'all are working to share the gospel!  When we work together, we are so much more effective.  We had three great lessons with a member this week, and in each case the investigators understood better and felt more comfortable when the member was there.  In the States most of the missionaries are from the same culture, so I think that it is probably different.  But here, the Chileans just feel so much better when we bring another Chilean--someone who understands them more naturally.  But even in the States, if the members go to the lessons, I know that the investigators will feel more comfortable because they will have someone there who is a "normal person."  :)

It is really amazing to me that the Lord calls young people, starting at age 18, to do this work.  We are so young and have virtually no experience in the "real world."  We have a lot of weaknesses.  We are just starting out in this life.  But He teaches us so carefully how to be better adults and how to handle problems.  As a missionary, I have truly learned to better understand that the only way to solve our problems is through the Savior Jesus Christ and His Atonement.  He truly loves us.  He is there, always, to offer us the comfort we seek.  And as we seek to follow Him, we will feel closer to Him every day.

Sorry this email is so short!  lol it must be because I tried to make it more especially spiritual.  :)

You always ask me if we do fun things on we went to the senior missionaries' house with a bunch of sisters from our zone and made chili dogs and frosted brownies.  It was so great.  :)

I love you all!  I wish that I could give you giant hugs and tell you that!  But for now, I am sending my hugs through the computer screen.

Love you always, Hermana Latham  

Si se puede

                                                                                                                                                     March 31, 2014

HAPPY GENERAL CONFERENCE!!  I really can't believe that it's time for General Conference again.  The last General Conference, I was in Mexico, and the Monday after I left for Chile!  So I've been here for 6 months!  How CRAZY!  We haven't seen the women's broadcast yet, but we will see it this weekend with the other sessions.  Thank you for thinking of me with snack mix!  We will buy something fun to eat.  I have plans to make a box for y'all (oh my gosh, almost wrote brain is so stuck in Spanish mode) and send you fun Chilean food.  And other stuff.  haha.

For another thing to put in the my room in the big dresser, the drawer on the bottom right are my cardigans.  I could really use the pale aqua one!  The boots that I bought are fabulous.  They are really warm and like you said, cute and functional.  Thank you for always telling me how pretty I am!  I really appreciate it.  As my hair gets longer I really don't know what to do with it even more than I wash it and stick a clip in it, like before.  At some point in life I will learn how to handle this hair!  And I think you're right, it's a lot blonder because of so much sun.  I can't remember a time when it was so blonde!  You look prettier every time, too!  I LOVE the pictures from Nana and Buster's anniversary!  Your longer hair makes you look younger.  Everyone in the pictures looks so happy.  I can't believe how huge Benjamin is!  OH MY GOSH!  

This week it has started to be colder.  Like you said, it doesn't really matter where you are in southern Chile in the fall and winter, you are going to be cold and wet.  Although I have heard that in Punta Arenas it doesn't rain very much.  They have snow down there.  And a whole lot of wind.  I can't believe Elder Washburn got transferred again!  He was only in Puerto Varas for one transfer.  Like me in Osorno.  But anyway, with the cold, I sleep with a bunch of blankets and the thermals under my pajamas.  And two pairs of socks.  It's really not all that cold, but the fact that we can't escape the cold except for when we visit other people in their homes is what makes it seem so cold.  

When it starts to turn into fall in southern Chile, everyone (and I really do mean everyone) makes jam.  There is a ton of fruit in the summer and basically none in the winter, so people make jam so that they can still enjoy fruit in the winter.  They make jam out of everything....peaches, plums, blackberries, cherries, and other fruits that don't exist in the United States.  One of those fruits is called mosqueta.  It is a tiny, spiky red fruit that grows on bushes basically everywhere here.  I need to take pictures.  But to make dulce de mosqueta, or mosqueta jam, is really complicated.  So one day this week we visited a sister in our branch and helped her to cut the weird fuzzy things off the ends of the mosquetas to get them ready to make jam.  It was really fun!  I am so happy when we get the chance to do service like that.

On Saturdays we typically take the bus to Crucero, a tiny town in the country 20 km from here (I don't know how many miles that is) but still a part of our sector.  This Saturday we went and it was cold and raining, but we still wanted to go and help the people there!  So we visited a little grandma and she didn't want us to come into her house, but she did want us to sing to her like we did the other time.  So Hermana Núñez and I stood in the rain under our umbrellas and sang "Soy Un Hijo de Dios," or "I Am a Child of God" to a little grandma.  It was a sweet experience that we will never forget!  I was reflecting on Saturday about how blessed I am to have the opportunity to use my Saturdays visiting people who live in the middle of nowhere and need love.  How many other times in my life will I be able to do that?  :)

So like I have been telling y'all, we have been working so hard and praying to help someone to actually progress toward baptism.  This week we have seen some sweet miracles with people who can be baptized!  One of my favorites was with a lovely investigator who is a young mom.  She and her husband recently got married and they have a little boy.  She is so fun to visit!  She has a lot of faith in her own religion.  She really hasn't been progressing very much, so we had thought about putting her in the old investigators file to visit more in the future.  But something always said that we should keep visiting.  So we kind of gave her an ultimatum...we told her that if she didn't keep the commitments that we gave her, we weren't going to be able to keep visiting.  I guess that was what she needed, because this week she came to church!!  It has been so long since we had an investigator at church!  But she came with her son!  And we talked with a member who has a conversion story that is really similar to the investigator's experience.  So we are SO excited to bring this member to a lesson!  It is amazing the ways that the Lord makes everything work out.

This week I have learned a lot about faith.  At the beginning of the week I was just feeling SO stressed out with the sheer magnitude of our responsibilities as missionaries.  My sweet companion reminded me about what you always remind me...basically you can only eat an elephant one bite at a time.  Yes, we have a huge responsibility.  But at this moment, we are only making a lesson plan for María and we can worry about the rest later (for example).  I read in Preach My Gospel about faith, and one of the things that it says is that fear and doubt are opposites to faith.  This is a truth that we all know to some level, but it really hit me.  I was thinking about Star Wars, and how the Jedis don't have power when they have fear.  When I was a little girl, I didn't understand that at all.  I thought, "well, it makes sense that they can't have the Force when they are angry, or jealous because those are bad.  But fear isn't bad!  Everyone has it!"  And it's true.  Everyone has fear.  But just like Jedis can't have the Force when they have fear, we can't have the Spirit when we doubt or fear.  I thought about the analogy of the rocking chair.  Worrying is like rocking.  It gives you something to do, but it doesn't get you anywhere.  Fear and doubt are the same way.  They don't get you anywhere.  Faith is what gets you somewhere.  And that somewhere is eternal life!  I read a really beautiful message from Elder Christofferson this week, and he said that our separation from God is only temporary.  (Just like my separation from my earthly family on this mission.)  If we have faith, we really can do anything that we set our minds to!  We can return to live with God again!  

I am so out of time but I wanted to include three fabulous power scriptures:  
Genesis 18:14 "14 Is any thing too hard for the Lord? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son."
1 Nephi 17:50-51 "50 And I said unto them: If God had commanded me to do all things I could do them. If he should command me that I should say unto this water, be thou earth, it should be earth; and if I should say it, it would be done.  51 And now, if the Lord has such great power, and has wrought so many miracles among the children of men, how is it that he cannot instruct me, that I should build a ship?"                                           
Isaiah 41:10 "10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness".

Sí se puede.  Yes you can.

That's faith.

I love you all so much!  Until next Monday!
Abrazos, Hermana Latham