Friday, June 27, 2014

refrenar tus pasiones

                                                                                                                                 June 23, 2014

It was so fun to read your letters this week!  YAY BEACH!  How fun!  I love your story about Pensacola, too.  It really is crazy that I am about to be twenty years old.  I think that when I was a little kid I thought I would know pretty much everything when I was twenty.  Boy was I wrong.  hahaha.  I also love the story of the missionary birthday. :)  Just goes to show that there truly is opposition in all things!  I'm sure that she was so thankful that she could share with a loving, wonderful family and for all of the efforts that y'all did.  If it had been me, I would have taken a picture with the ugly cake because I would have wanted to remember such a funny, happy moment that I shared on my mission.  :)  I also love that story in 3 Nephi.  When I read chapter 17 I always cry, for exactly what that sister shared.  It is mind-boggling how the Atonement of Jesus Christ is not only is individual.  At various points in my life I have felt sad wishing that someone could be with me to experience what I am experiencing.  At BYU I wished that my family could be there.  In the celestial moments of this mission I have wished that y'all could feel what I feel.  As we get close to PXXXX's baptism, it makes me sad that Hermana Núñez can't be here to see it.  But it has dawned on me this week that there is one person who is there to experience every single day of our lives...and He is our Savior, Jesus Christ.  He knows and understands our pains and our weaknesses, and He shares in our joys and tears.  If no one else can be there, He can.  How incredible is that?

This week has been SO crazy.  Hermana Núñez said goodbye to all of the people here in our area, and that means she had to say goodbye to me too.  I think I was in denial that she was actually leaving.  It was so, so hard for me to say goodbye!  I miss her like crazy.  And it's funny, missing her has made me miss y'all more too.  In most of my dreams this week I have been with my family.  I think that my mind is missing being with someone familiar who I can hug.  When I think about her too much I get sad and I cry!  But Hermana Alonso (my new companion) reminded me that I could see her again in the mission, and even if not I hope that we will stay in touch after the mission.  When Hermana Núñez left, it was a FREEZING morning, really early.  We went straight to Hermana Alonso's old house and cleaned up everything and moved all of her stuff in to our house.  It was a crazy long day because after all that, we did proselyting like normal!  Then we had the longest weekly planning ever combining two area books, two sectors worth of investigators, less actives, contacts, everything.  We are still working on learning how we can best use the time that we have to visit people in our now gigantic sector.  This week we have walked a lot more than usual.  But we have also been able to really focus on our investigators who are progressing!

On Saturday there was a district Relief Society activity, and three of our investigators came!  PXXXX made a kuchen (German dessert that is really common here) to bring to the activity.  It was so much fun to be there with a bunch of sisters from the branch and our investigators!  Then we came back to Río Bueno and PXXXX passed her baptismal interview!  She is fabulous.  Like I said earlier, there truly is opposition in all things.  She almost couldn't come to the activity or her interview because one of her family friends died and she sang at his funeral, and on top of that she has a really bad cold and maybe pink eye.  But she is so excited for her baptism and she wants so badly to be involved, that everything worked out.  The Lord provides a way.  Then on Sunday, we had four investigators in the chapel!  They are all progressing toward baptism and they love to come to church.  Hermana Alonso and I are so, so excited for this challenge and for the chance that we have to serve Río Bueno and the Lord!  I just pray that my humble service will be enough, and that the Lord will use my strengths to bless the people I serve.

All the missionaries who came to the District Relief Society Activity.

We got together as all the sisters in our zone to make pizza last week before transfers. 

The four of us that served in Rio Bueno. The little one on the left is my new companion, Hermana Alonso.

Yesterday I was feeling pretty frustrated in the chapel about something that a person in our branch had said.  I really didn't want to feel this frustration with this person!  We have a baptism that we are preparing for, and there were four of our investigators there in the chapel!  I needed to manage my stress and emotions to be able to help.  The Lord helped me to remember a scripture during the sacrament, Alma 38:12--"bridle your passions, and be full of love," or "refrenar tus pasiones y ser llenos de amor."  I LOVE this scripture!  It is one of my favorite missionary scriptures.  The natural man gets mad, impatient, frustrated, etc.  But a servant of the Lord is full of love, forgiveness, and patience.  This is a scripture that I know we can apply in our daily lives, as full-time missionaries or member missionaries.  Normally, whatever the issue is, it is not worth losing your cool over.  It is so important when your mind is going in a million different directions, you don't understand your emotions, and your thoughts are stressing you out, to refocus on the very purpose of this life and this work, the one our Savior shows love.  I am striving to be full of love as I serve this mission!

I almost forgot!  Updates.  This Friday, our new mission president, Presidente Obeso, comes and Presidente Rappleye goes home on Saturday.  That will be so strange!  But the work goes rolling forward.  Also, PXXXX is getting baptized this Saturday!  AHHHH!  and yes I loved your analogy.  It is a giant missionary GOOOOOOOOOOL! in my heart!  I love PXXXX and I am so happy for her.  So happy for her.  I also loved the picture of the curly haired sheep.  Thank you.  :)

I love you all so so very much!  I hope that you soak up all that you can at the beach this week!

Love you always, gigantic hugs, Hermana Latham

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

la importancia de valor

                                                                                                                                                          June 16, 2014


It never ceases to amaze me how unexpected each and every one of the transfers is.  After three transfers with Hermana Núñez, we knew that something was going to change.  But our change is super radical!  For the past year there have been 6 missionaries here in Río Bueno, 4 sisters and 2 elders.  But now, there are only going to be 2 sisters and 2 elders.  I have been here with the same 3 sisters since I got here.  But one of the sisters is  ending her mission and going home, and Hermana Núñez is getting transferred.  So I will stay here with the other sister, and we will be combining our two areas.  We are going to have so much work to do!  But since we have both been here for a long time, we both know our respective areas really well.  We both have progressing investigators and members who are willing to go with us to appointments.  It should be very busy and very interesting!  My new companion is Hermana Alonso.  She is from Ecuador and this is her first area.  It will be my first time as senior companion, so I have some extra responsibility in that regard.  Since we have two houses here, Hermana Alonso is coming to move into our house.  Their house has rats and doesn't have a wood shed to chop the firewood.  Hermana Núñez is going to the island of Chiloé, and she will be training and replacing elders!  We are both stressed out for the huge change and all of the new responsibilities...but we have faith that the Lord prepares us to do whatever He calls us to do.  I am SO SAD to say goodbye to Hermana Núñez after four months together!  I love her so much!  We have made some great memories together.

This week we had some unique, only-in-Chile experiences.  We ate the grossest thing I have ever eaten in my life.  It is called "queso pata."  As you know, queso is cheese.  Well, pata is foot.  And not just any foot.  Animal foot.  This food is somewhat like meatloaf.  But instead of having ground beef or turkey, it has giant, white chunks of meat from cow feet.  It also has carrots, oregano, pepper, and a ton of grease.  And its name will fool you.  There is no cheese in it.  Oh my GOSH!  It was so nasty!  Hermana Núñez and I will never forget the legend of queso pata.

On Friday was the first of the three games that Chile has in the World Cup for soccer.  It was Chile versus Australia.  People here go crazy!  Every single house has the lights on and people are watching the game.  People don't go to work on days when there are big soccer games like this.  There is no one in the streets.  And when Chile scores, the whole town explodes, "GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL!"  (pronounced goal, in Spanish it's "gol.")  Chile won.  After the game, people all left their houses and the ones who have cars honked their horns and it was a total fiesta.  Wow.  If there is one thing that still hasn't changed much about me, it is my general apathy for sports.  lol....

We are still preparing PXXXX for baptism!  She is so excited.  It is crazy how many challenges have come into her path since she decided to get baptized!  Now both of her little girls have chicken pox!  so even though she couldn't come to church this Sunday, she is still really excited for her baptism.  The members help her so much to feel welcome!  They truly are friends that will help her after she gets baptized and after we have both left.  She is sad that Hermana Núñez won't be here to see her baptism!  

On a rainy Saturday, we went out searching for less actives on our list.  We came to a house where a big truck was parked and people were throwing firewood into the backyard.  We contacted the little old lady who lived there and helped her get all of her wood stacked up in a dry place.  Then she invited us into her impeccably clean, warm home.  She just got over being really sick in the hospital for 2 weeks or so, and she is really depressed.  It was so good to be a listening ear for someone who needed it, and to offer her a little bit of hope through teaching her about prayer.  I think that my absolute favorite principle to teach is prayer.  One truly can't feel alone once they realize that there is someone who is always there when we need Him.  I hope we can visit again and help her out!

One of my favorite, favorite things about President Thomas S. Monson is his focus on courage.  Courage truly is everything!  Courage takes faith, integrity, and hope.  It requires strength.  But courage isn't only exhibited in wars or other dramatic moments.  It is something that is exhibited every day as we stand up for what we believe in.  Courage makes your mind and character stronger...and it also makes you happier.  I hope that in every challenge that each of us face, we will remember the importance of courage (la importancia de valor).  I love the talk that President Monson gave in the priesthood session of General Conference, "Be Strong and of a Good Courage."  I also love his quote, that "Courage sometimes is the little voice that says, 'I'll try again tomorrow.'"

Courage doesn't always roar Somtimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I'll try tomorrow

What a fun Father's Day!  I can almost taste all of that food!  I hope you have so much fun with the sister on her birthday!  It honestly means everything and more when the members make an effort to show the missionaries their love.  It is so sweet the feeling of family that you can find even from far away.  My favorite cake is a yellow cake with chocolate frosting.  mmmm.  :)  

I love you all so so so SO much!  I wanted to leave you with a great scripture that my companion shared with me, Moroni 7:19-22:  Wherefore, I beseech of you, brethren, that ye should search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ.  And now, my brethren, how is it possible that ye can lay hold upon every good thing?  And now I come to that faith, of which I said I would speak; and I will tell you the way whereby ye may lay hold on every good thing.  For behold, God knowing all things, being from everlasting to everlasting, behold, he sent angels to minister unto the children of men, to make manifest concerning the coming of Christ; and in Christ there should come every good thing.
With Christ, we can take hold of every good thing.  I know this to be true.  Thank you for all of your love and support and especially for the quotes and pictures!  GIGANTIC hugs from Río Bueno!

Love always, Hermana Latham 

no saben dónde hallarla

                                                                                                                                                       June 9, 2014

Hermana Núñez and I have honestly been so, SO happy this week!  Our investigator is getting ready to get baptized on the 28th, and she is progressing so much!  This week we had three lessons with her, and brought members to all three lessons.  The members are so happy to see her coming to church and progressing toward baptism!  I have been so completely amazed by how much she wholeheartedly accepts the gospel.  The person who prepared PXXXX to make this decision in her life is the Lord.  I know it.  I feel so blessed to be able to love and serve her and her beautiful daughters!  We taught her about the Restoration this week and she feels that it is such a blessing to be able to have a living prophet today, and that the Restoration was necessary to end the Great Apostasy and bring light back to the earth.  She loves the gospel.  Our branch mission leader gave her a copy of Gospel Principles and she read half of it in three days.  What.  I haven't even read half of Gospel Principles!  She makes me think of one of my favorite missionary scriptures, Doctrine and Covenants 123:12:   For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it—
There are people who are only kept from the gospel because "they know not where to find it," or "no saben dónde hallarla."  Hermana Núñez always tells me about one of her favorite missionary songs, that is called "Te hallaré, mi querido amigo," or "I'll find you, my dear friend."  In the song, two friends from the premortal existence discover that one of them will come to earth and have the gospel, while the other will not.  The friend who will have the gospel promises the other friend that he will find him to give him the gospel.  I have felt this with PXXXX!  It is amazing.  I truly think that PXXXX and Hermana Núñez and I were friends before this life, and that we promised to find her and give her the gospel.  Because that is all she needed.  Someone to knock on her door and give it to her.  It has been so special to get to know her!  Our transfers are coming up next Wednesday the 18th, and after three transfers together we know that one of us will not be here to see her baptism.  But in the end it doesn't matter so much...just to know that she will make this promise with her Savior is enough.

We brought our mamita to visit our investigator who is reading the Book of Mormon.  Our mamita shared her testimony about the Book or Mormon, and the story of when she started reading it as an investigator.  It was such a sweet moment!  I know that as she keeps reading the Book of Mormon, she will be able to know that it is true.  On Saturday we had a Family Home Evening with PXXXX and some members of our branch.  It was SO much fun!  We watched a video about Joseph Smith, and Sister GXXXX made a fabulous cake, and we listened to some funny rock'n'roll versions of hymns....we laughed so much.

I am learning so much how to trust in the Lord and how to understand and love myself more.  When I look at myself from another perspective, I can see that I truly do love my Savior Jesus Christ and that I have faith in the Atonement and the opportunity He gives us all to have eternal life.  It is because of my faith that the cold, rain, dogs, chopping firewood, or other challenges that present themselves don't bother me so much.  And when I am sad, or overly stressed out, or anxious, or scared, I can feel a sweet, quiet voice that tells me that He loves me no matter what.  And because He loves me, He gives me many blessings.  In some way or another, I deserve them!  Being emotional is not a defect, or a weakness, or a failure.  It just means that I am "wired differently."  Today we talked about how of the first presidency, there is one who is more emotional than the other two.  You don't have to think very much to recognize that it is President Eyring.  But that doesn't make President Eyring weaker, or less spiritual, or anything like that.  He is just "wired differently."  And it would be ridiculous if President Monson told President Eyring, "Okay.  You can't cry in your talks anymore.  Just stop it."  Today we talked about how many different types of personalities will go to the Celestial Kingdom.  There is not a cookie cutter of who will go there.  The way we get to the Celestial Kingdom is by keeping our covenants.  That is what is the most important!  

I would love it if you could send me new shoes for my birthday!  The ones that we looked at last year are great.  I could use brown or black, mary jane style, and without heels is better.  It is so strange to think of a new bishopric!  But I know that Brother Bowcut will do a great job.  He is super awesome.  YAY for Girls' Camp!  I will pray for Abby.  I remember when I was 12 and one of my leaders said that she had gained the beginnings of her testimony at Girls' Camp.  I know that a part of the core of my testimony came from those special weeks.  I hope you are really enjoying the summer!  It is so strange to be in opposite seasons with you guys!  But it makes me happy to think of you guys relaxing and enjoying the sunshine. :)  I will pray for Andy and Grace.  How sad!  

I love you all lots and lots!  I miss you so so so much!  But I can feel your love and support even from far away, and I am so thankful to be a member of our family.  Sometimes I get mixed up in my own thoughts and like you said, the cold dreary weather does affect me somewhat.  But it is such a special opportunity to be a missionary!  I have never loved the scriptures more.  My favorite for the past few weeks has been Proverbs 3:5&6:  Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. It's a golden one.  
Also today I read 1 Nephi 13:37:   And blessed are they who shall seek to bring forth my Zion at that day, for they shall have the gift and the power of the Holy Ghost; and if they endure unto the end they shall be lifted up at the last day, and shall be saved in the everlasting kingdom of the Lamb; and whoso shall publish peace, yea, tidings of great joy, how beautiful upon the mountains shall they be.  The Lord has wonderful promises in store for us!
Love you always, and gigantic hugs from Río Bueno, Hermana Latham

la mitad

June 2

As promised, here are some Mormonja pictures.  Today is a particularly rainy day, so we took these right before we left the house.


Happy June!  I literally cannot believe that it is June.  The months fly by.  I remember when January started and I started to think of 2014 as "the Chile year."  I was only here for the end of 2013, and once 2015 gets here I will be getting ready to go home.  So, the Chile year is almost halfway gone!  And the halfway gone too!  "La mitad" is "the half" of something.  Half of the mission.  Like you were saying, all at once it feels like I just got here and it feels like I've been gone forever.  But I can very joyfully say that these nine months have been amazing.  They have been the hardest nine months of my life.  But I have never been closer to the sweet and tender mercies of the Lord, and I have never felt more His pure love for me and for every person.  I am very happy with the service I have given and the things that I have learned in these nine months, and I am so grateful that I have nine more months to serve as a full time missionary!  It's funny that Nana would connect nine months of the mission with pregnancy...because that is what the hermanas here in our mission do, too!  On our "hump day" our companion gives us a pretend pregnant belly and we take pictures.  It's kind of a weird tradition.  But it is what we do here!  haha.  And since Hermana Núñez and I have been together for the past 4 months, I made her pregnant belly back in February and she made mine this week.  lol.  I also really like and totally agree with what Daddy said...the second half of the mission will be much better than the first half.  I know so much more.  I speak better Spanish.  I rely better on the Lord.  I am a better Preach My Gospel missionary.  I am so excited for these next nine months!  I know that they will be gone before I know it!

Hermana Núñez took about a million pictures of me.  Here are a couple :)

I forgot to tell you a couple things last week...last Monday I was coming down with a cold, but now I am getting much better.  The sad part is companion got the cold from me, and now she is sick.  :(  I guess you have to expect to get a cold when the weather suddenly takes a turn for the winter.  It rains pretty much all day every day.  The rain doesn't bother me that much, being from Georgia.  But the hard thing is the wind.  The wind picks up the rain, and the umbrella, and your hair...etc.  lol...I think my hair will be in a ponytail pretty much all winter.  Also, my umbrella died today.  The one that is in the Mormonja pictures from this morning lives no more.  So I bought a new one.  That was the other thing I wanted to talk about.  Last week you asked me what things I would have brought and what things I would have left home.  The little black umbrella I brought was great in the MTC, but it was not strong enough for the wind here.  Once I got here I had to buy a good, strong, big umbrella.  So I would recommend bringing a little one for just in case and buying a good one once you get to Chile.  If I could do it again, I would buy more stuff for the cold.  I guess that I thought that whatever skirt would be fine and that my legs wouldn't get too cold if I wore thick tights.  But I only brought 3 or 4 pairs of thick tights.  I would bring more thick tights for all of the seasons except summer, and skirts that are more sturdy for the wind.  I didn't think at all about wind when I bought my skirts!  I would buy good, warm boots with a good sole in the United States before coming here.  The boots I bought here are okay, but not fabulous.  They are really flat inside and make my feet hurt if I wear them too many days in a row.  Also shoes.  I would buy three pairs for my parents to send me one later on.  The shoes I bought here are not Danskos, they are a brand I hadn't heard of before.  They are good shoes, but the leather stretched within a month or so of buying them.  I still use them, though.  A backpack is completely essential.  No matter what the call packet says.  lol.  So I wouldn't bring a purse.  I wouldn't bring so many hygiene products.  I can find all of that stuff here.  It is not exactly the same, but it's fine.  Hygiene products weigh down the suitcase a lot.  I would bring a laundry bag without holes.  My mesh laundry bag is somewhat frustrating.

"Mormonja" is a nickname Melanie and her companion have given themselves.  In the area they are in there are monks, or "monjes" and she told us when they wear their rain gear (big black rain coats and rain skirts over their clothes) they feel like the monjes, so they refer to themselves as "Mormonks" in English, or "mormonja" in Espanol.  

This week has been so incredible!  PXXX, the lady I told you about a couple weeks back with two daughters who is really receptive, accepted a baptismal date!  We are SO excited to prepare her for baptism!  She also came to church this Sunday and stayed all three hours!  She loved the meetings and asked us if there were more meetings at night that she could come to.  We told her that our next meetings were for the next Sunday, and she told us she is planning on coming again and that next week, she wants to wear a skirt.  She is FABULOUS!  Today we have another appointment with her and with a member she knows.  It was so great to see her in church.  And then, as sacrament meeting was coming to an end, a less active family that we have been visiting came into the chapel!  We are so, so, so happy to be a part of the miracles that are happening here in Río Bueno.  One lady that we have tried to visit for the whole time I have been here let us into her house this week.  She shared with the elders a couple years back but couldn't get baptized because she wasn't married.  Now she lives alone, and she told us that she knows that she needs to be baptized in this Church.  It was such a beautiful moment!  Also, despite the rain and the fact that both of us have colds, we went out on Saturday and the Lord helped us to find four new investigators!  They had all been really great contacts and all of them accepted for us to come back next week to visit.  AHHH!

Sometimes life can get you down.  Things can be hard.  But I know that things get better.  I know that what the Lord has in store in the future is better...and as we keep going with faith, hope, diligence, and patience...the blessings come.  They come in giant ways that you never would have imagined.  He is aware of us and our lives.  He loves us!  And the future is truly as bright as your faith.

I love you all so so much!  I am so happy that you are enjoying the beginning of the summer.  Soak up some sun for me.  :)  Thank you for telling me about how Abby and Benjamin are doing!  I love and miss them and I hope that they always remember that.

Love you always, Hermana Latham

Monday, June 16, 2014

¡No puedo ser feliz sin fe!

                                                                                                                                                     May 26, 2014


Thank you for the quotes you sent me!  They are so so wonderful!  I am also SO excited for Andy & Grace!!!  YAY!  I think it is so important to remember, even when darkness seems like it doesn't want to leave, that life really is beautiful!  Our mind is kind of like a thought garden.  We have to locate the weeds and pluck them out!  Sometimes it gets really frustrating because the weeds grow without us even trying.  They grow easily and a lot of the time they are hard to pull out.  But if we spend too much time focused on the weeds, then we don't have time left over to cultivate the flowers!  All of the good thoughts, the happy thoughts, the things that come from the Spirit, are like precious flowers in my garden of thoughts.  I want to take care of those, and throw the bad thoughts in those big brown paper lawn waste bags.  And then not worry about how many lawn waste bags there are!  Because it really doesn't matter in the end how many weeds there used to be if there are many beautiful flowers.
Me and my companion in the plaza
This week I have been happier than I have been in a long time!  And it has been because of a few things that made all the difference.  I was thinking recently about how the word "happy" in Spanish starts with the word "faith" in Spanish.  So, I can't be happy without faith!  Without "fe,"  "feliz"  is just "liz."  And "liz" doesn't mean anything.  Hahaha.  We had our last zone conference with President Rappleye this week, and it was so great to listen to all the advice he had to give us, not only for our missions, but for our lives.  He did a question and answer session with us at the end, and I asked him how we can get faith.  I always feel like I really want to have more faith, but I feel somewhat overwhelmed a lot of the time by fears, doubts, negative thoughts, etc.  He referred to Alma 32:27, that tells us that if we have only a desire to believe, then that is a good place to start.  Alma 32:27 But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words. So, every time I have a tough thought, or a hard moment, I am deciding to have faith and deciding to act on my desire for more faith.  It makes a huge difference.  This week I also loved a passage that I found in 2 Timothy 1:5-7. 2 Timothy 1:5-7: When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.  Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.  In verse 5, it talks about the faith of our grandmothers and mother, and that if they had faith, surely we will too.  I think of Nana and Grandma and Mama, and all the faith that you show, and how I can follow your incredible examples.  Then in verse 6 it talks about the way that we give life to the fire of our faith is by accepting the Holy Ghost.  I have the gift of the Holy Ghost!  And I just need to listen to his sweet promptings and let his voice give fire to my faith.  Then, over all, I love verse 7...that the Lord does not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a strong mind.  The Holy Ghost does not teach us to fear.  He teaches us to be strong and to cultivate love in our lives.  How incredible is that?  I also read a wonderful talk by Elder Richard G. Scott from General Conference in October 2010 about the transforming power of faith.  Here is the link to Elder Scott's talk:  He talks about how faith is closely linked to our character, and that life is a process of faith.  Above all, the thing that helps me the most to find happiness is to trust in the Atonement of my Savior, Jesus Christ.  As missionaries, we listen to the trials of many people.  Many times the things that they struggle with are things that I don't understand.  Sometimes they are disturbing things.  I have learned again and again as a missionary that every single person in this world has problems.  But even though we don't understand, someone does.  He does.  He understands everything!  And He loves us!  And more than anything I know, I know that Jesus Christ wants us to be happy.  Sometimes we have to pass through hard times so that we can understand and appreciate what being truly happy means.  But as we trust Him, He leads us to where we can be happy. So, we can't be happy without faith in Jesus Christ.  Faith in Him is everything! 

This week, the best thing that happened was that one of our investigators read the Book of Mormon!  We had given her three verses to read.  But she wanted to read more, and she has started from the very beginning with the testimonies of Joseph Smith and everything.  She says that as she reads, she has a desire to read more and understand where the Book of Mormon came from.  We are so happy!

My companion loves french fries SO much and she looks so happy while she eats them.  I couldn't quite capture how much in the photo.  lol
On Wednesday we had a "porotada."  That is when everyone gets together to eat porotos, which is how Chileans say beans.  It was so fun!  It was a federal holiday, so a lot of people from the branch came and the branch president made the beans.  We all sat and ate beans together and talked and it was just great.  Also, one of our investigators came!!  :)

Then on Thursday we had some interesting moments.  I told you about the weird algae that I ate one time...Mamita made that for our lunch on Thursday.  Then we got on a bus to go to the town next to ours because the podologist (check my spelling...foot doctor) came.  I am honestly so thankful for shoes right now!  They make it so that we never have to see the elders' feet!  Blech.  lol.  And for the record my feet are fine.  :)

                                     A couple weeks ago my companion made me a "tortilla española." 

It's officially gotten cold here.  Since I'm at nine months, I've passed all of the seasons in Chile....except for winter.  It's not too bad so far.  It's just a whole lot of layering.  I secretly love to go outside all bundled up in a scarf, earmuffs, a coat, and gloves.  It's a fun feeling.  :)  I really can't believe that I am reaching the halfway point of the mission!  How crazy is that?  I will write more about that next week and send pictures of what we do for "hump day" in Misión Chile Osorno. 

I hope you have a happy Memorial Day!  I love you all so much.

Love always, Hermana Latham

Ángeles en Sus manos

                                                                                                                                                   May 19, 2014

Mama, thank you so much for everything you do to send me your love!  This email this week comforted my heart.  I miss you so so much. I strive to remember all of the examples that I have of faith, and that all of my family has so much faith in Jesus Christ!  I am striving to strengthen my faith in Him.  He doesn't want bad things to happen to me.  I need to have faith always that He has a beautiful future in mind if I will follow Him....and that all of the mean, terrible, painful thoughts or feelings that I have come from the adversary.  We just have to have the faith to listen to and apply the good thoughts that the Holy Ghost gives us.  He is the Comforter that the Lord provides for us.  Mama, you are such an incredible example to me of faith.  You always strive to trust in the Lord...and I think it is for that that you are such a wonderful person.  I want to be more like that!  So I am striving to put my trust 100% in the Lord.

I got the box this week!  WOO!  It came on the same day as the padded mailer from Nana.  I am so blessed with such a wonderful family!  Even though I am far away I have never felt so loved in my life.  I know that when I kneel down to pray at 11:00 every night, my family is also kneeling down to pray, and maybe when I am praying for you, in that moment you are praying for me.  The box was so fun.  The slippers are the best ever.  My feet haven't been cold all week!  I also love the scarf.  It is gorgeous.  Did you make it?  Everyone asks me about it.  I have already worn the blue cardigan twice and I am saving the new striped sweater for tomorrow...which is our last zone conference with President Rappleye before he goes home!  I can't believe he's going home next month.  Hermana Núñez and I have really enjoyed the candy and snacks.  It's fun to have food from my country.  I have a moment where I feel normal.  ;)  The T-shirts will be put to good use for layering and for P-day.

This week we had some really cool missionary moments.  I truly felt like the Lord used us to be His angels in these experiences.  For that I titled this email "angels in His hands."  Ángeles en Sus manos.  On Saturday we went to our little town away from here on the bus, Crucero.  We didn't have much time, but we shared with one lady who really needed to hear the Plan of Salvation that day.  I felt like the Lord had sent us to Crucero on His errand to visit her and comfort her.  Then the taxi driver that took us back to Río Bueno was the same one who had taken us to the chapel earlier in the week.  We didn't remember him, but he remembered us.  He asked us more about our religion, and since we had 20 minutes or so in the car from Crucero back to town, we could teach him a little bit about our purpose as missionaries and also the love and hope of Jesus Christ.  He told us that he felt like it was not a coincidence that he had taken us twice in one week.  Maybe he'll come to the church one day!  We also talked with a wonderful single mom of two little girls, and one of the little girls is a special needs child.  The Spirit was so strong in her home and I felt like it was so wonderful that the Lord had put us there in her house on that particular day to tell her about a church that is for families and about how she can truly be happy.

On Sunday a family in our branch came to church with their dad, PXXXX, who is not baptized.  But he was so excited to be there and he has time to listen to the lessons now, and we are thinking that he will get baptized!  Will you pray for him?  Also for PXXXX (the single mom I talked about) and CXXXX and BXXXX, so that they can know that this church is true and really can bring them happiness and peace.  I always run out of time to tell more details about our investigators!  We teach a ton of people.  But these people I just talked about are the ones that we think can really progress.

I love you so so much!  I miss you!  I am so thankful for every email, quote, picture, box, letter, that you send to me.  You are in my prayers.

Love always, Hermana Latham

P.S. Good luck to Abby and Benjamin as they finish up school!  How crazy is that?  Another year gone!

cuan hermosos son Sus pies

                                                                                                                              May 12, 2014
                                                Hermana Latham on our Mother's Day Skype call!


Yes, it was much harder for me to say goodbye this time.  Maybe it's because now it's been almost 9 months without seeing you all!  You are my best friends!  I love you and I miss you so much!  And it was just so wonderful to see your faces and hear your voices and your laughter, and your facial expressions and everything.  And I was trying really hard not to think about how I won't see you again until Christmas...
I'm trying to remember what I said in Spanish.  It was something about how I love being a missionary and that I love my family, even though I am far away, and I pray for you every night.  Thank you for what you said about my accent!  I try really hard to not sound so much like a white girl.  lol.  But I still sound like a person from the United States.  The Chilean accent is kind of hard to imitate, and when I try people think it's funny, so I just try to pronounce everything well. My companion was born in Ecuador and her parents are both from Ecuador, so her accent is different.  It's not a Spaniard accent, but it's not an accent from Ecuador either....she moved to Spain when she was seven.  I know, she is so adorable!  I love her so much.  Hump Day is really big for all missionaries, I think. I don't know how the customs are in other missions, but in a couple weeks I will be sending pictures of what we do here when sister missionaries hit their halfway mark.  Hermana Núñez has been out for 3 months more than I have, so we celebrated her halfway mark at the beginning of our time together and we'll celebrate my halfway mark together too.  This is her fourth transfer in Río Bueno and my third one.  You can be a senior companion before you train, or it can be that the first time you are a senior companion is when you train.  Hermana Núñez has never trained, but she is the senior companion because she has been out more time than I have.  I don't know when I will be a senior companion or a trainer!  I would like to have the opportunity so that I can have a new challenge and learn how to take more responsibility.  But we'll see.  The Lord knows when I should be a senior companion or a trainer.  The really gross things that people eat here are mostly things that we are not allowed to eat as missionaries.  (PHEW!)  Our mamita in Francke ate stomachs of something...I don't know what.  People eat the inner organs of animals.  Blech.  But I think the weirdest thing that I have eaten is a type of algae/seaweed.  People dry it out and then mix it up with lemon juice, salt, and oil like any other Chilean salad. The texture was really weird!

The mission is mostly hard spiritually and emotionally.  The physical hard parts don't bother me so much.  I feel like because I am dedicating my time to serving the Lord, Satan hits me even harder than he ever did before.  I have a lot of really mean thoughts and feelings that are really hard for me to get rid of. Sometimes I feel like I am a crazy person.  I have a lot of moments where I feel like I am failing or like I don't have a testimony.  I feel incredibly guilty for every little thing that I do wrong, and it's hard for me to see the things that I do right.  I miss you guys a lot.  I am trying with everything I have!  I try to remind myself that ever since I was a little girl I wanted this.  But I think when I was a little girl I didn't have any idea how hard it would be.  I rely as much as I can on prayer!  I strive to strengthen my faith and to have hope and I pray to love myself and see myself like Heavenly Father sees me.  When I look for the good things that happen each day, and the ways that the Lord is in the details of our lives, things are better.

One of the things that I forgot to tell you about was chopping firewood!  When I sent in my papers to be a missionary, I really didn't imagine that part of the job description was grabbing an axe.  I need to send pictures at some point.  I feel like a lumberjack.  At the beginning everyone laughed at me when I chopped firewood because I didn't know how to handle the axe, but I am getting better!  
                                                           Hermana Latham chopping firewood!

One of the passages of scripture that I love is one that is repeated by various prophets.  They talk about "how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of them that publish peace."  This week I read in Mosiah 15 one of these passages, and what really struck me was verse 18.  Mosiah 15:18 And behold, I say unto you, this is not all. For O how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that is the founder of peace, yea, even the Lord, who has redeemed his people; yea, him who has granted salvation unto his people
It talks about the Savior, and how beautiful are His feet (cuan hermosos son Sus pies).  Our feet carry us throughout our mission and throughout our entire lives...and our feet work for the same cause as His feet.  What a gift it is to be able to serve with the Savior.

Next week I will write specifics about my investigators so that you can pray for them...I ran myself out of time!  Thank you so much for your prayers!  Thank you so much for loving me!  President Monson taught us that the Lord's love is there, whether we feel we deserve it or not...and I am so glad that my family's love is also there, whether I feel I deserve it or not.  

I love you all so much!  I hope you have a blessed week and always remember to pray.

Love always, Hermana Latham

una semilla de fe

                                                                                                                                                            May 5, 2014

Thank you so much for the thoughts that you sent to me this week!  I am continually amazed at how well you know me!  I think that maybe you know me better than I know myself.  The thoughts that you sent me helped with just the feelings I was struggling with today.

As far as health goes, in la gran Misión Chile Osorno (the great Chile Osorno Mission) we have the opposite problem from Brynne's our problem is to not gain a ton of weight!  I have been doing pretty well so far.  I try to eat fruits when I can and always eat salad at lunch.  You wouldn't believe how much the mamitas give us for lunch.  It is more than what Daddy eats.  (And by that I am not saying that Daddy eats too much, just that it's more than what I ate when I was home.)  But somehow my stomach has gotten accustomed and I can eat so much.  Seriously, so much.  Mountains of potatoes, rice, or pasta.  Every day.  Somehow magically I have only gained 2 kilos.  I think that is about 4 or 5 pounds.  It must be for the morning exercises and the simple fact that we walk a ton.  Also dessert here is usually home-canned fruit, so it isn't like the sisters in the States who eat brownies and ice cream with the members regularly.  On Friday we went to Osorno and got flu shots, so hopefully I will be good for the winter.  Ever since I learned that I was lactose intolerant and changed my habits (stopped eating cheese, started buying lactose free milk) I haven't been sick.  YAY!

The week before transfers is always the longest one for me.  All of the other weeks in the transfer fly by and I think, "Oh my gosh!  What can I tell my family?  It feels like I just wrote them!"  I think the last week is the longest because we are all thinking about what will happen, where we will go, who will be our companion, etc.  But this time all of that was in vain because when our district leader called us, it was to tell us that....Hermana Núñez and I are going to be together a third transfer in Río Bueno.  We were so shocked!  We really thought after two transfers together we had learned and grown a lot together and it was time for a change.  But the Lord's plan is always better, and He wanted us to stay together.  We have talked through it a whole lot.  You can be companions with pretty much anybody for one transfer.  Six weeks really isn't that long.  Two transfers is a little bit harder.  You start to drive each other nuts on occasion.  But you also learn how to teach better in unity, and how to be better friends.  But three transfers?  Three transfers, or four months, is really for the valiant.  hahaha.  The good thing is that we get along really well.  We don't really understand why the Lord wants us to be together again, but we do know that this is His work and there are people to love and serve and work to be done!  So we are going to keep at it!  

I still haven't gotten the box.  But how exciting that there are two bunnies!  My companion LOVES bunnies.  She has one at home and when she tells people about her family, she always tells them about her "coneja" (girl bunny) along with her sisters and her parents.  lol.  So she will be really excited.

This week we have had some great moments.  Last week on P-day we bought all the stuff to make tacos with an investigator!  She told us she wanted to learn how to make something typical from the United States and what she wanted to make was tacos.  It's funny to have to go to the international section to buy tortillas and taco seasoning.  Also sour cream doesn't exist here.  But we had ground beef, cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes, so they were still pretty good tacos.  It was so fun!  I didn't remember how much I like American food.  haha.  

The work has been rolling on!  Of course, like normal, we face our share of rejection.  The rejections this week were a bit tougher.  The girl we found from our old investigators told us she would prefer that we didn't visit, and the investigator who we have been working with SO MUCH to have her progress told us that if she ever gets baptized, it will be in the Protestant church.  But on the other hand, we found four great new people to teach this week!  We get so happy when we knock on a door and the person tells us we can come in and share.  :)  The sweetest moment this week was that a less active man we have been teaching for months came to church!  We were SO excited to see him come into the chapel!  And he stayed for all three hours!  He is so great.  As I am writing this tears are welling up in my eyes.  It wasn't a baptism.  But it is a soul who is deciding to accept Christ in his life.

"Una semilla de fe" is a seed of faith.  This analogy has taken on so much meaning for me.  I love the talk that Elder Andersen gave in General Conference and how he talked about spiritual whirlwinds and how real winds affect trees.  Our faith starts as a seed...but then it is a small tree.  With every tough experience, our little tree grows stronger, and as we nurture it over the years, it gets deeper roots in Jesus Christ and more rings of knowledge and understanding.  So if we ever feel like our tree of faith is being pushed really hard with spiritual whirlwinds...we must remember that that is the way that our tree will get strong!  And if we think our tree is too small, we have to be patient and keep caring for it so that we can be more deeply rooted in Christ and have more rings.  Hermana Núñez and I were talking about this idea this week, and about the biggest tree that there is...the sequoia.  Maybe right now our tree is small.  But as we hang on and put our hope in our Savior, our tree keeps becoming the marvelous sequoia that it was meant to be.

I love you all so so much!  HAPPY CINCO DE MAYO!  I hope for Family Home Evening you go to Moe's and eat delicious Mexican food for me.  I will see you on Sunday at 5:00!

Abrazos, Hermana Latham 

Soul Cheering Comfort

                                                                                                                                                         April 28, 2014
This picture of Melanie and her brother was taken one year ago from the time of this letter and is the one she is referring to :)


As of today, I have been a full-time missionary for 8 months.  What?  Time is a weird thing.  I can't fully wrap my mind around it no matter how hard I try!  It's funny that you would send a picture of what happened a year ago because I have been thinking about that this week.  It feels like it has been forever, but at the same time it feels like I just finished my freshman year at BYU a couple months ago...  I'm sorry about the sad feelings you felt when I wasn't there this week!  When I do come home, y'all will have to be patient with me in helping me come back to the real world.  A mission is a beautiful thing, but also a crazy thing that your mind can't really make sense of.  When I actually stop to think about the fact that all day I am speaking Spanish, or that I am the only girl in Río Bueno with blonde curly hair and blue eyes, my brain gets all confused.  Someitmes it feels like I have spoken Spanish for forever, and that everything that happened before the mission was just a dream.  But then out of nowhere when I hear people speaking English and it makes me feel comfortable and normal, or when I see pictures of y'all and remember that I have a fantastic family who loves me very much, I feel a sweet peace and strength that this mission is a part of me, but I have a history before and I will make a history after!  And Heavenly Father will help me to make sense of all of the pieces.  Thank you so much for sending me so many great pictures!  I love your sweet faces!  Abby is so GORGEOUS!!  I just want to give her a hug through the computer.  And Mama, your hair makes me happy.  I just want to sit next to you on your bed and laugh with you.  How frustrating that Benjamin broke his thumb!  He's a tough kid.  Also, thanks for telling me about some more of my friends, especially Clarissa!  She is so fabulous!  I imagine that she is the cutest pregnant lady on the planet.  How is Ashton doing?  Did John ever put in his papers for a mission?  You told me someone was having a you remember who it was? 

Logistical stuff--we talked to our district leader and we will be calling home on Sunday, May 11th.  I don't know any more details, but we asked because my companion is from Spain and in Spain they celebrate Mother's Day on May 4th, so we weren't sure how that would play out.  But it'll be on May 11th.  On Saturday night we fell back an hour, so we are officially in the same time zone!  :D  That makes me feel a little bit closer to you guys.  Also, the Easter card got here this week!  And if the box is already in Osorno, I might get it at district meeting this week.  I hope it gets to our zone before transfers!  I've told Hermana Núñez so much about this box that it would be sad if we weren't companions any more when the box comes.  Since we've been companions for almost 3 months, we are thinking that one of us is going to get transferred.

I'm so glad that you can see how much the Spirit is with us in our faces.  The Holy Ghost is the force that helps us to serve with strength and faith, and also invites us to be happy regardless of our circumstances.  We laugh every day about one thing or another...I love to laugh!  It is really such a good medicine and helps us to stay closer to Jesus's light.  But normally I don't remember the funny things to tell y'all.  We had a REALLY good one this week... Here in Chile basically no one has cars.  Some people do.  But the majority of us walk everywhere....rain, sun, cold, hot, always.  So one of our investigators lives about a 15 to 20 minute walk from the church.  She has come four times now!  We are so excited.  She lives next door to the hilarious dog that I told you about a few weeks ago.  This dog follows people that she likes.  One time she followed us home.  Yesterday she followed our investigator to church.  There is something so ridiculously funny about seeing a dog in the church building.  And it was even funnier because this is the second time it has happened.  This dog has come to church more times than most of our investigators!  hahaha.  She runs really fast, so she's hard to catch.  But we asked the same man who carried her out the last time to help us again.  Oh, man.  I have to remember to take pictures of her so that y'all can imagine this situation better.  :)

                          Here are pictures of the funny dog named "Puppy" that makes Melanie laugh!

So for the first 8 months I have been really good about making all of my email titles in Spanish.  But this week I found one in English that was just too good not to use.  I love the hymn "Redeemer of Israel."  It is so wonderful.  Normally, we only sing the first four verses.  But the other day in my personal study I studied verses 5 and 6, which I really love.  Verse 5 is a prayer to Jesus Christ, and it says, "Restore, my dear Savior, the light of thy face.  Thy soul-cheering comfort impart!"  I love the phrase "soul-cheering comfort."    

Lyrics for Redeemer of Israel:  
1. Redeemer of Israel,
Our only delight,
On whom for a blessing we call,
Our shadow by day
And our pillar by night,
Our King, our Deliv’rer, our all!
2. We know he is coming

To gather his sheep
And lead them to Zion in love,
For why in the valley
Of death should they weep
Or in the lone wilderness rove?

3. How long we have wandered

As strangers in sin
And cried in the desert for thee!
Our foes have rejoiced
When our sorrows they’ve seen,
But Israel will shortly be free.

4. As children of Zion,

Good tidings for us.
The tokens already appear.
Fear not, and be just,
For the kingdom is ours.
The hour of redemption is near.

5. Restore, my dear Savior,

The light of thy face;
Thy soul-cheering comfort impart;
And let the sweet longing
For thy holy place
Bring hope to my desolate heart.

6. He looks! and ten thousands

Of angels rejoice,
And myriads wait for his word;
He speaks! and eternity,
Filled with his voice,
Re-echoes the praise of the Lord.

The Lord comforts us in ways that even grilled cheese sandwiches and couches can't....He comforts our souls.  If we ever feel lonely, or sad, or confused, or stressed, or anything like that, all we need to do is pray.  He listens.  And He offers us soul-cheering comfort.  I have also been meaning to talk about grace in an email for a few weeks now.  I have read various talks about grace, and studied Christ's Atonement, and have really come to rely on the grace of Jesus Christ.  I read a talk recently that reminded us that grace is not a booster engine for when we run out of gas, but is a continual source of strength and energy.  Elder Bednar in his talk in General Conference this month talked about how Christ did not only die for us, He lived for us.  He did not only suffer for our sins and weaknesses, but He is there to enliven us.  In other words, He is not only there for when our strength is not enough.  He is there for always!  His grace gives us the power and the ability to do that which is outside of our capacity.  He can help us to have charity, patience, humility, faith, hope, peace, or anything else if we recognize and look for Him in our daily lives.  I testify that He is there.  I have never physically seen Him.  But I have felt Him and His love.  I love Him and I strive to serve Him every day!

This week we had a branch activity where everyone brought a dessert and there were prizes for the best ones.  It was a fun activity...but the thing that made it the best was that one of our investigators came with her son!  She told us that whe feels a little bit stressed out coming to church because she feels like the "bicho raro" or "weird bug."  But every time she comes with us to things, she feels more comfortable.  This week she read from the Book of Mormon!  And we set a date to make lunch with her this week.  We are trying so hard to have daily contact with her and remind her about church, remind her to pray, all of those things.  I know that when she truly prays, she will be able to know that this church is true.

I know that God is in the details of our lives.  He loves us!  Life is hard.  A lot of things are really confusing, but if we hold on to what we know, that we are children of God and He loves us, then everything is possible.

I hope that you have a wonderful week!  I love you all very much and I miss you!  Giant hugs from Río Bueno.

Love always, Hermana Latham