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