Monday, August 11, 2014

como tener éxito

                                                                                                                                                        August 4, 2014
                                                               Hermana Ball and Hermana Latham                                                              
Hello hello!

This week was one of the most fun weeks as a missionary.  I LOVE my new companion, Hermana Ball.  She is fabulous.  She's my first companion who is not older than me.  She'll be 20 in September.  Before the mission she went to BYU, too.  It has been really fun to have a companion from the United States!  It just makes it so much easier for us to understand one another culturally.  It has been so wonderful to be able to have a fresh perspective of Río Bueno.  She is SO excited to be here, and seeing Río Bueno through her eyes has made it a place of much more hope and energy.  She helps me to be excited about being here every day.  She is so spiritual and loving.  I have loved to watch the way that she teaches and loves the people!  She helps every single person to feel comfortable because she is so friendly and relatable.  We've said to each other a couple times this week, it just seems like we have been companions for so much longer than 5 days.  We get along really well and really easily and I LOVE that.  She is so focused on the missionary purpose and helps me to stay focused and full of energy.  I am not her is only for two transfers, so she had those 2 with Hermana Johnson, 2 with another hermana, and now she is with me.
                                                          Getting ready for the birthday party!

This week for three days in a row I ran into things with the same theme in my personal studies, so I decided that it should be my theme for the week in this email.  The phrase that I saw again and again, in the Book of Mormon and in Preach My Gospel, is "como tener éxito,"  or "how to have success."  Our Heavenly Father loves us so much and He wants us to have success!  He did not send us here to this earth to fail, but to be gloriously successful!  And because He knew it would be hard here in this life, He has given us a lot of tools to help us be successful.  We have the scriptures, the prophets, our families, prayer, and a million other things.  But the way that He has given us to have success is the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ.  It was so special to study and understand this concept more.  Our Heavenly Father has given us a way to have missionary work, in our families, and in every other aspect of our lives...and this way is through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  He shows us the way to become more like Him through patient progress every day, and the way to reach the ultimate success, which is to live with our Father in Heaven.  I especially loved Alma 31, a chapter that I read this week. Link to the scripture Melanie is referring to: Alma gets really sad because of the way that the Zoramites pray to God in a tall tower and think that there can be no Christ.  He prays to Heavenly Father to grant him success in his missionary work.  Then, he prays again for success...the success to bring the people unto Christ again.  At the end of the chapter, Alma receives the promise that all of his afflictions will be swallowed up in the joy of Christ because he has prayed in faith.  All of our success in this life centers on our Savior.  We are successful when we search for Christ in our lives, and we help others to be successful when we invite them to let Christ into their hearts.  

I read this chapter on my birthday, and I had the chance on that very day to apply the principle that my afflictions can be swallowed up in the joy of Christ.  At night, after the fabulous birthday that I had, Hermana Ball and I were walking when I got ran into by a bike.  We were wearing our black rain suits because it had been raining a lot earlier, and it was dark, so we didn't see the man on the bike and it seems like he didn't see us either.  This bike totally knocked me over into the street and I skinned up my hands and I have a big green bruise on one of my legs.  My knee and shoulder feel almost normal now, but after getting up from the ground, they were hurting.  My earmuffs and my rain skirt saved me from hitting my head or hurting my legs.  Long story short, I'm not hurt too bad.  But I definitely have a crazy story to tell for after the mission!  I got up and thought, "well, if this man ran into me with his bike, it must be for something."  So even though I was pretty shaken up, I tried to contact him and give him a pass along card of Jesus.  About midway through the contact it dawned on me that he was totally drunk.  (should have dawned on me before.  Who else but a drunk guy rides his bike in the dark?)  So we quit contacting him and moved on....

So, even though I got hit by a bike on my 20th birthday (the affliction), I have never had a birthday when I felt more loved (the joy of Christ).  Pamela and a sister from our branch called me to wish me happy birthday.  Hermana Ball wrote quotes on 20 hearts and hid them all over our house for me to find throughout the day (she is adorable).  We found a new investigator and we could teach the family about the Restoration.  The mamita made me a special lunch.  An investigator, a less active, and a really sweet sister from our branch came to help me celebrate my birthday even though it was raining cats and dogs.  I got various gifts...the investigator brought me a laptop desk (I'm not sure exactly what I'll do with it, but it's the thought that counts right?  haha), the sister from our branch gave me a cute wallet and earrings, the mamita gave me some chocolate covered almonds, the elders gave me a jar of Nutella, and my companion gave me a mud mask (one of these nights we will do spa!).  What with all of the emails that I got from the States and all of the love that I felt here, it was a fabulous birthday.  I still can't believe that I am 20 years old!  That is a real adult age!  But it was a birthday that I will never forget.

I hope that all of you have a wonderful, wonderful week starting back to school and that in the moments that you ask yourselves how in the world you are going to find success, you will look to Christ, who truly loves us and wants us all to be happy.

I love you all so much!  GIGANTIC HUGS FROM RIO BUENO!

Love always, Hermana Latham

  Mom sent a package with all the stuff for a birthday party, and Melanie used it all to celebrate with her branch!
Hermana Ball, Hermana Zortman, Hermana Latham and their Mamita in Rio Bueno
                                          Happy 20th Birthday, Hermana Latham!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

¡Viva Río Bueno!

                                                                                                                                                   July 28, 2014


Well, you already know my big news for the week...I am staying here for another transfer.  I sincerely thought that after four transfers I would go to another area.  But Hermana Alonso and I have both been here for four transfers, and one of us had to stay to teach the sector to another hermana!  So Hermana Alonso is getting transferred and I am getting a new companion, Hermana Ball.  Hermana Ball is the sister that Hermana Johnson trained when I left Osorno!  She is so great, really friendly, and loving.  I am excited to be her companion!  It'll be fun to be with a companion from the United States.  I think that the translation of what the mamita said to "big changes" probably should be "long transfers."  The word that we use for transfers in Spanish is the same as the word for changes, "cambios."  I think it must be that because most missionaries that come to Río Bueno are here for a long time.  Normally 3 or 4 transfers.  Of the four of us who are here in Río Bueno right now, 3 of us have been here for four transfers.  My companion is leaving and our district leader is leaving, too.  I'm somewhat stressed out about staying here for another transfer.  I feel like after four transfers in a tiny town, my perspective isn't quite as positive as it could be.  I feel kind of like I have this town memorized and I've looked for new investigators almost everywhere possible.  The good thing is that I don't know the other half of the area from when we combined areas as well as the half I've always been in.  So Hermana Ball and I will be able to still discover new things in Río Bueno.  I am praying a lot.  I have always been willing to serve wherever the Lord calls me, thinking, "I'll go where you want me to go."  But for now I am striving to develop the mindset of "I'll stay where you want me to stay."  Well, the Lord knows why he puts different missionaries together, and if He keeps letting me have this challenge, there must be a reason.  But the Lord loves me so much.  I have been feeling so stressed out and frustrated, and once again the Lord answered my prayers through a Liahona magazine.  I read some really great articles that calmed me down, and I talked to my companion about all of my frustrations and problems and everything, and I have felt a million times better.  

Thank you so much for reminding people about my birthday!  I got so many emails.  It is so nice to feel so supported and loved!  This birthday will be very special and I will always remember it.  I can't believe I'm going to be 20 years old.  That makes me feel like a real grown-up.  What?  haha.  I guess that day had to come at some point.  Thank you also for reminding Ashley to tell me she was getting married.  Last week she sent me some great engagement pictures.  I also loved all of the pictures that you sent me!  Lake Louise/Banff/Canada is stunning!  I want to go!  Sister Opp's baby is a doll.  Do you have pictures of Sister Haycock's baby?  Or has she even had her baby?  It was fun to see the picture of me as a little girl too.  :)  I miss her a little bit.  Real life is quite a bit harder than being four.  But there are also a lot of freedoms and blessings that come with being big.

Hermana Latham will celebrate her 20th birthday this week.  This is Melanie at 4 years of age.  

The baptism this week went great.  We were stressing out a little bit to find white clothing that the little kids could use for the baptism, but I knew that when it is the Lord's will, there is a way, and everything worked out.  A is 10 and J S is 8.  They are so precious!  They have been so excited for their baptism, and it was so cool to see their daddy baptize them and see them receive the Holy Ghost yesterday.  They asked me to speak in their baptism, and it was so special for me to be able to prepare a baptism talk!  I reflected on my baptism and how wonderful that day was!  I felt so clean and so happy!  I was so happy to put my faith in Jesus Christ!  And I remember when Grandpa gave me the Holy Ghost.  That was so wonderful.  I realized that it is so easy for us to forget this precious gift that the Lord has given us, to have a constant companion who loves us and reminds us just how much that Jesus Christ loves us!  When we remember Jesus, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, life doesn't seem so hard.  It doesn't seem so confusing.  It seems clear and focused, and like the future is glowingly beautiful!  How AWESOME that after baptism by water, we can also be baptized by the Spirit, and begin the lifelong purification process.  I am sincerely so thrilled for this family.  The baptism was so spiritual for the two  kids and the elders' investigator who got baptized, another 10 year old girl.  It was like you said for P's baptism, one of those rare crystal days.  (Speaking of P, I wanted to ask if you all could pray for her.  She hasn't come to church for the past two weeks and she has canceled every time we planned to visit.)

As of today I have been a missionary for 11 months!  How CRAZY is that?  18 months is such a very short time.  But I am striving every day to give it my best and to love the Lord and the people of Río Bueno more.  I am so thankful for the love and prayers that you send to me.  I love you all and I hope that you are enjoying the end of your summer!

Love always, Hermana Latham

This is Chilean food in all of its glory.  Hermana Alonso and I went out to eat for her last P-day in Río Bueno.  
It's called pichanga (pe-CHAHN-ga).  It has French fries, sliced hot dogs & sausage, chopped beef, avocado, tomato, cheese, and hard-boiled eggs.  Then you put condiments on top, like mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup, or ají (which is a spicy sauce that Chilean people love). 

el ancla de nuestras almas

                                                                                                                                                        July 21, 2014

I honestly cannot believe that it is P-day again.  This transfer is FLYING by!  I have been here for four transfers now, and so I'm getting a little nervous.  For the last while I haven't had to worry about transfers...packing up suitcases and saying goodbye to everyone.  But this time it's really possible.  It will be really hard to leave Río Bueno!  So Hermana Alonso and I are trying to enjoy it and give it all we can before we have to go (if we have to go).  Next week I will let you know what our transfers are.

Oh my GOSH, Canada sounds fabulous!  I want to go!  Like you said, it sounds like my favorite kind of place.  The mountains bring me peace.  They remind me that Heavenly Father created this world, and He made it stunningly beautiful so that we could enjoy it and recognize His hand and His creativity.  From here we see the Andes in the distance...on days when the sky is clear we can see their snowy tips far away!  Our mamita loves Facebook and she is friends with Hermana Zortman's mom, so she wanted to be friends with you too.  She is wonderful.  I love her so much!  She loved the bracelets and so did everybody else!  Every single person that I have given them to has gotten all excited. Everybody in Río Bueno now thinks that you are the most creative, patient, fabulous person ever.  They all wanted to know how you made them but I have no idea how to say "Rainbow Loom kit" in Spanish, so I told them that they are made from rubber bands in some kind of knitting.  ha.  I think that explanation mostly works.  They all also wanted to send you their thanks.  It's been fun to give them to people because they get so happy and then when I see them again they are still wearing the bracelets!

The box was the best thing ever.  But really, the best thing ever.  I think that you must have telepathy with my innermost desires or something...hahaha.  The laundry bag is great.  I didn't really like the other one that I have, but I've been using it because it is functional.  The new one is awesome!  I have been sincerely craving a cup of Swiss Miss hot chocolate or apple cider for months. Every time I drink a cup it makes me so happy and so warm inside and I feel almost like I'm at home.  Also, American macaroni and cheese is a million times better than Chilean.  Just for the record.  :)  Also, I can't believe you mailed me my favorite chocolate!  Thank you for remembering!  The shoes are PERFECT! Perfect, perfect perfect.  Today it is sunny and warm enough that I don't need boots, so I'm wearing them for the first time!  I am so excited to use the decorations and make the cake when my birthday comes.  But the best things were the photo album and the picture frame that sings.  Oh.  I cried.  I am crying thinking about it!  You guys are the best, most loving family in the entire world.  I am so thankful that the Lord saw fit in His wisdom to give me to you.  I miss you more than I can possibly describe!  It is true that a person values their family much, much more when they can't be with them all the time.  But I know that when I come home being with you all will be a dear treasure to me.

Yesterday we visited with our fabulous golden family.  They just expressed to us how thankful that they are for us visiting their home.  They told us that our parents must be so proud of us, and that they are proud of us and they hope their children will grow up to be like us.  I cried!  It has been simply amazing to see their progress in the gospel and the immediate difference in their family and their home as they embrace the gospel.  We are so excited!  A passed her baptismal interview on Saturday. (she was SO nervous!  We asked our district leader to please be nice to her...she's only 10.)  She and her little brother are getting baptized on Saturday!  They are counting down the days.  Hermana Alonso and I are so happy...but we are even more happy to imagine the day when their family goes to the temple to get sealed.  The branch is planning a temple trip to Santiago in November, so we are hoping that they will set their goals to be able to go.

This week I had some really great studies from Preach My Gospel and just from meditation.  I really love a quote from President Faust that says that "La esperanza es el ancla de nuestras almas," or "Hope is the anchor of our souls." This hope is not just any hope.  It is the hope centered in the promises of Jesus Christ.  The anchor of our souls is the hope that one day we will be able to have eternal life, and live with God again!  I have thought about this....we don't have any idea what eternal life is like.  So why do we want it so much?  Because our Heavenly Father has told us in the scriptures that this is the greatest gift that He can give to man.  The Lord has some amazing gifts to if this is the greatest gift, it is our greatest motivation!  But the hope that I have been thinking of more is the hope that comes from the Holy Ghost.  The greatest promise that Jesus gives us in this life is the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.  He can be our constant companion!  He can always be there to warm our hearts and souls, and to testify to us of the truth.  The Holy Ghost and the hope in Christ's promises truly gives our soul an anchor when everything else feels like it is out of hand.  This week we have sung the hymn "Paz, calmense" a couple times.  It is "Master, The Tempest is Raging."  When the tempest was raging, Jesus's disciples were pretty much wigging out.  They did not know where to turn, how to stop the troubles...and on top of that Jesus was sleeping!  But when Jesus awoke, He calmed the waters....and reminded His disciples not to fear.  This is an example for our lives!  Jesus gives an anchor to our boat.  Even when the tempest is raging.  We can have faith and hope that when the time is right, Jesus will calm the waters...and everything really will be okay.  I hope you all can remember this anchor to our souls!

I love you SO SO SO SO much and I hope that you have a wonderful time in Canada!

Abrazos GIGANTES, Hermana Latham

sed consolados