Saturday, May 10, 2014

Como hallar fe en Cristo

                                                                                                                                                           April 21, 2014

You were worried that your many emails would be overwhelming...but I loved them!  It is SO nice to see pictures, and I really love the quotes you send me.  At the end I want to make a quote book with all the quotes you've sent me throughout the mission.  It is also really fun to hear about what people in Georgia are doing!  I feel so isolated from everything, and my only window into the world outside of Misión Chile Osorno is emails.  hahaha.  So I love to hear about what's going on and remember that real life still exists!  haha my brain is so confused about this.  You wouldn't believe the people that pop up in my dreams!  It was fun to hear about JXXX and JXXX; they've both popped up in dreams here as a missionary.  Yesterday night the KXXXs were in my dream.  And a few days ago, in a dream I went into a big auditorium and it was for a physics class, but all of the students were missionaries and you (Mama).  We all had to get on an airplane to go to Punta Arenas, and we weren't going to be able to come back for a month.  So I asked you if you could be my companion in Punta Arenas for a month, but at the same time I was worried about what you would do while I was in my physics classes, and the professor was going to be a man from the branch here in Río Bueno.  How confusing.  haha.  And also this week I found out that my companion from the MTC has to go home for a really serious knee problem, so I was thinking, "Oh my gosh, I'm going to be the only sister missionary going back to the States in February!"  I'm really happy that I will be able to come home to Georgia.  :)  I had a question that I keep forgetting to ask....are you still doing speech therapy?  You haven't talked about that for a long time.

You have talked about this box so much that now I am really looking forward to when it comes!  It is always fun to get new things.  Last week we went to the "tienda americana," which is basically like Plato's Closet or Cotton Kids, used clothes from the United States.  We bought heavy wool skirts for when the winter comes.  We were so excited!  But speaking of Hump Day, I really can't believe that I am so close!  Next Monday I will have been a missionary for 8 months.  This mission just zips right on by.  Thank you for telling me that I am having an amazing mission!  I have learned so very many things, but I think one of the most important is learning to redefine excellence in the way that the Lord looks at it.  Honestly, before the mission, I thought that to be an excellent missionary meant to have a whole bunch of baptisms, to be called to be a trainer early in the mission, and then to become a sister training leader towards the end.  But that type of excellence relies way too much on comparing yourself to others, and on pride.  Being an excellent missionary all centers in how much you dedicate yourself to serving the Lord and loving Him and His children.  Hermana Núñez and I work so, so hard and we pray so much!  And sometimes it is really easy to become disappointed and feel like we are failing because the less actives we are working with still aren't going to church, or because our investigators still aren't ready to be baptized, or any number of things.  But we have learned SO much in these two transfers together!  We have really learned to apply so many principles in Preach My Gospel, and through that we have seen our testimonies grow and we have learned to be better missionaries.  In the past weeks I have heard a couple of really great quotes:
"This is the work of Lord.  If it was our work, we would surely fail.  But it is His work.  And He does not fail."

"You can count the number of seeds in one apple, but you cannot count the number of apples that come from one seed."
Quotes like these help me to look at my missionary service in a different light and to go forward with a smile on my face.  I have been studying a lot this week about humility.  At times humility can seem so complicated and difficult to acquire.  But honestly, it is so important to seek humility.  If we are not humble, then we are prideful, and when we have pride, we cannot love the Lord.  Loving the Lord is the first step.  It is the way that we can achieve happiness!  Jesus is the one who makes us truly happy.

This week for Easter, we have been giving out a lot of pass along cards of Jesus Christ, and reminding people about how important it is that He lives!  With one less active man, we watched Finding Faith in Christ, or "Como hallar fe en Cristo."  That video is so powerful!  I really love to watch it and see how many miracles our Savior performed...and the most incredible, how He could love every person.  His love inspires me to love more. 

Here is the link to the video that Melanie is shared with her investigators:

I watched the video you sent me, "Because of Him."  WOW!  How fabulous!  I would love it if you could put that on my blog too.  It is so great.
Here is the link to the Easter video that I sent to Melanie:

This week our best experience happened with an old investigator.  We have a gigantic binder as missionaries called an area book, and inside it we write a short report about every lesson we teach, every contact we make, etc.  We organize the investigators according to if they are progressing or not, and one of the files is for old investigators...people who the missionaries taught in the past but now are not teaching.  Recently we went through our old investigators and decided to visit a few of them to see if they were interested in sharing the gospel again.  We went to visit one of them, and had a nice enough lesson with her.  We set a date to come back.  But his week we decided to go by just to see if she was home and home she was doing.  When we went by, she asked us what we believed about prophets, and we started to teach the first lesson.  It was a really spiritual lesson, and she remembered enough from her other missionaries that she really understood!  It was such a great lesson, and we invited her to baptism and she accepted!  We are so excited.  We're going to keep visiting and see how everything goes!  I have really learned to love the area book.  It is such a great resource to help us serve better.

I love you all so so so so much!  It makes me so happy all of the FHE lessons that you have, and that you are studying Preach My Gospel!  Even though I can't talk to you as much or see you, I can really see all the blessings and progress that you have in your lives!  I am sending you giant Happy Easter hugs!  Also, for a holiday that no one celebrates...tomorrow is Earth Day!  Happy Earth Day!!  :)

Love always, Hermana Latham

Polvo de oro

                                                                                                                                                     April 14, 2014
¡Hola familia!

HAPPY EASTER!!!!  I get so excited this time of year every year for this special day to celebrate our living Savior!  As I've said before, Chileans are really, really relaxed people, and like other holidays, Easter is not a big deal here.  I asked our branch mission leader if we do anything special for Easter, but it looks like we don't.  I feel kind of like I did at Christmas.  A lot of adults think that Easter is kind of silly because rabbits don't even lay eggs (which is really true, I never thought about it!) and so if they aren't Catholic they don't do anything to celebrate.  It makes me sad that people have forgotten the center of Christmas and Easter...which is and always will be our Savior Jesus Christ.  Easter in the fall is definitely a different experience!  Typically when you think of Easter, you think of rebirth and growth and everything.  But something funny...people in Chile call Christmas la Navidad, but also la Pascua.  I was so confused about that at Christmastime because I had learned that Easter is Pascua.  Easter is officially called "la Pascua de la Resurrección," but most people call it "la Pascua de conejos."  Resurrección is resurrection, but conejos is rabbits.  Speaking of rabbits, can you send me a picture of the bunnies in the fireplace?

Don't worry about the box.  It will come when it comes and I will be happy for it!  If you haven't put it in the mail yet, I could use some regular pantyhose.  Most of my pantyhose have runs in them and smell kind of funny from being used a lot, and the pantyhose we can buy here are either expensive or really poor quality.  And I think I already told you, but slippers.  As far as I know, we will be able to Skype for Mother's Day.  We have transfers the Wednesday right before Mother's Day, so I don't know for sure where I will be.  But I will let you know more details as we get closer.  It didn't bother me that we talked about a whole bunch of different things.  I just felt so blessed to see you guys and hear your voices!  I am getting excited to be able to talk to you again!  I really didn't imagine just how much I would miss you all.  But I feel a great peace about being a missionary and I know that it will be so joyful to see you again after 18 months of dedicated service!  

This week has been another busy week of missionary work.  On Monday I slipped in the mud.  All of my clothes got covered in mud.  I guess you really can't be a missionary until you have officially fallen in the middle of the street.  haha everyone has their falling stories, some more dramatic than others.  Mine wasn't dramatic, only frustrating.  Mud is gross.  And it was really all over everything...but I survived!  I have learned so much as a missionary to not stress out so easily, to let little things go, and to handle disappointments.  As I reflect on the time I have been here, I realize just how much I have truly learned!

Hermana Núñez and I have had the opportunity to do a lot of service this week!  We helped a lady with her yard work, and we chopped some firewood for another older lady.  I am really lacking in practice with cutting firewood...I think the main cause is my lack of upper body strength.  lol.   But Hermana Núñez chops like a machine and I am hoping that she can teach me how to manage the axe better and actually cut the wood well.  We will see how this goes....I am pretty sure that this is an adventure that most missionaries do not have!  lol!

I had a really great companion exchange with the sister training leaders this week.  I got to go with Hermana Monroe in Rahue.  It was fun to have a day outside of Río Bueno and to see how the work goes in another area.  I loved how we worked with members and less actives, and the positivity  that Hermana Monroe maintained for the whole day.  She is really sweet and spiritual and I really enjoyed the day with her.  She reminded me of a Mormon message that I saw this summer that is really great and that truly reflects how I feel about this mission, and this life.  In the video, there are two men searching for gold in a stream (or river, I don't remember).  One of them is new at the job, and he is looking for gigantic chunks of gold to collect.  The other is seasoned, and he collects tiny dust, really.  At the end, the new man has no gold and the seasoned one has a whole bunch.  All of the tiny particles of gold (gold dust, or polvo de oro) really adds up!  This video is related with miracles.  A lot of times we really think that the only miracles that count are the big ones...the ones that you hear about in General Conference talks, or read about in the newspaper.  But if in our lives we believe that the only miracles come in big ways, we may end our lives feeling like we haven't seen any miracles.  As a missionary I have learned to see and treasure the tiny miracles in my life.  Before the mission, I really thought that I had never seen a miracle.  But now I realize that seeing miracles all depends on the way that you look at your blessings.  Every day I collect tiny flecks of gold, and at this point, I have a beautiful collection of gold.  I want to challenge you all to look for miracles in your everyday lives!  As you look for them with faith, I know that you will find them and realize that God truly is a God of miracles.

Here is the link to the video Melanie is referring to:

I love you with all my heart!  I am sending you giant hugs through the computer and hoping you have a wonderful Easter, remembering that Jesus died because He loves us, and He lives because He loves us, too.

Love always, Hermana Latham