Tuesday, September 30, 2014

no locas. fuertes.

                                                                                                                                            September 29, 2014


Okay, first, I still can't send pictures.  The computers in this cyber are not friends with my camera.  It appears with nothing in its memory when I plug it in.  :(  I need to ask someone for help.

I love your email this week!  It is crazy for me to hear the story about Hermana Butler (a missionary in our home ward who returned home last week) and think about how I only have 5 months left!  AHH!  I can't WAIT to see the Women's Meeting and the rest of General Conference!  As a missionary General Conference is pretty much the most exciting thing that exists (well, other than a baptism, of course).  Every time it also makes me reflect on how time passes.  Can you believe that it was two years ago when President Monson announced the age change for missionaries?  It makes me feel kind of old to think that if I was still at home I would be a junior in college.  Thank you for sending the pictures of Ashley's wedding!  

I always laugh because after I tell you guys things on Monday, something crazy happens on Tuesday that I want to tell you, or the weather completely changes from what I said it was.  For example, it has been rainy and cold all week.  But we can't complain about the rain because it is what gives us so many beautiful flowers!  I still can't get rid of my winter stuff until it gets a little warmer, but I have thought a bit about what I will bring home and what I will leave.  Do you want the winter coat back, or should I leave it here?  Also as I was thinking about packing and suitcases I remembered that I wanted to ask you for one thing for Christmas.  I know Christmas is still 3 months away.  But I don't want to forget.  Can you send me a temples calendar for 2015?  I have always thought they were so great.

Despite the rain, we had a wonderful week.  HXXX and AXXX in Río Bueno got baptized on Saturday!  Last week when I played the piano at the funeral, Hermana M, one of the sisters from Río Bueno who went with us to teach them, cornered me and told me about the baptism, so we got permission and went!  It was so beautiful!  I felt SO happy.  I'm so glad that Hermana M told me so that I could go!  She is so great.  She served as a missionary in this mission 15 years or so ago.  She asked me how my new area was going and I told her it was great, but I was kind of sad that I only have 5 months left.  She told me that the last 5 months are the best ones.  I believe that!  I feel like I am able to be such a better missionary now than I was a year ago when I was just starting!

The sister training leaders came to visit us, and it was so wonderful.  We learned from them more techniques to try in our area.  I loved to see how Hermana Nielsen was so brave in teaching in whatever circumstance.  She helped me learn more how we can teach our message in a contact or with someone at their door in a simple way so that they can feel the Spirit and be interested to learn more.  So Hermana Bernel and I have been working on contacting more and teaching in the moment with pamphlets.  We have been able to find so many new people!  It is GREAT!  Every day when I wake up I am so excited for who we are going to visit and who we are going to meet.  Hermana Nielsen also helped me to recognize the love that Heavenly Father and Jesus have for me as a missionary.  Sometimes I feel sad because I wish that I could have offered something better to them in this past year.  But Hermana Nielsen helped me to remember that our weaknesses are a part of who Heavenly Father created, and He needs us to have them so that we can progress.  And she helped me to realize that what I have offered and what I am offering every day makes Heavenly Father pleased.

This has been one of the first weeks that I have truly felt like I am a good missionary.  It is such a good feeling.  I get emotional when I think about it!  The Lord has given me many strengths that I can use to help in this work, and even though I have weaknesses, He still loves me and I can still be happy.  Yesterday I gave a 10 minute talk in sacrament meeting in Spanish.  I never would have imagined being able to do that!  I have learned so very many things on this mission.  The title of this email came from a recent convert we are teaching here.  We were talking about the rain and how people must think that we are crazy to go outside in a terrible black waterproof rainsuit and rubber boots just like it was any other day.  But she said, "No locas.  Fuertes."  Not crazy.  Strong.  Surely there are people who see us and think that we are crazy.  But there are also people who see us and think that we are strong.  This made me think of the quote that "it's not what you look at, it's what you see."  When the Lord looks at us, two young women trying our very best to share His gospel, He sees strength.  I am learning to see it in myself.

I love you all very very very much!  I am sending you huge hugs!!!  I am so out of time but I also wanted to ask you to pray for our investigators, CXXX and MXXX, and AXXX and AXXX.  The two women are so excited about the gospel, but they want their husbands to listen too!  So we are praying to know how to help them to feel the Spirit.

Hope you enjoy General Conference and the snack mix!  :)

Abrazos, Hermana Latham

Monday, September 22, 2014

un amor infinito

                                                                                                                              September 22, 2014
Melanie LOVES brownies, so mom sent her this quote to brighten her day :)


I forgot to tell you a few things last week...it is GORGEOUS here!  In the past two weeks it has only rained once.  We have had so many nice, sunny, spring days.  I go out in a light jacket and regular shoes (not boots) and sometimes I only wear one pair of tights!  WOO!  That's progress!  There are so many gorgeous flowers blooming and trees budding (almost put trees blooming...thank you Spanglish).  I love the azaleas, tulips, and so many other pretty spring flowers.  We are so happy that the weather is getting nice.  Also, thank you for telling me what Ashton is doing!  I haven't heard from her since Christmas.  I don't know if you remember the story I told you back when I was in Osorno about the young couple who contacted us in the street and told us that they wanted to have an eternal family.  Well, after the first visit with them I left the sector.  On my first day here I was copying the plans for the day from my companion, and I saw a plan for "D and P."  I told my companion we had a couple named D and P when I was in Osorno...it is the same D and P!  They moved to La Unión!  Isn't that cool?  I feel so lucky to be able to see all the progress that they have made.  Other short things...the watch you gave me for my birthday last year gave up the ghost.  The glass face totally fell out.  I thought about fixing it, but figured that if a $25 watch lived for over a year of everyday wear, I could go ahead and buy a new one.  I wanted something fun, so I bought a red watch this morning.  I am so happy that you got my box!  I prayed a lot that it would get there.  :)  The souvenirs on top are for you all.  I had the box ready to go for weeks, but right before I sent it I threw in some extra things.  I think I will buy another cow magnet and little Chilean flag so that we can both have one.  How do you like the food I sent?  I wanted to send you all pictures today, but my camera is not friends with this computer.  It's kind of sad because I have good pictures this week!  But they will be just as good next week.

Hermana Latham and Hermana Bernel

This was a week I will always remember!  On the day before the "fiestas patrias" (September 18 & 19) we had a conference with a seventy named Elder Viñas.  We got up super early and Hermana Bernel straightened my hair, which took way longer than expected, so I ended up doing my makeup on the bus (remembering seminary?  hahaha).  Elder Crotzer and I played Canon in D for the prelude, and then our zone sang and we played "Onward, Christian Soldiers."  It was a really wonderful conference.  I learned two really important things this week.  One I learned from Elder Viñas.  He focused on the Atonement, and the importance for us to apply it to our own lives and to help our investigators, less actives, and everyone else to understand how important it truly is. He asked for volunteers to share their feelings about the Atonement and it was really spiritual and special.  It's indescribable to hear what others feel for the Atonement.  There were three in particular that I really liked.  A sister from my zone talked about the Atonement as her motivation.  She explained how the Atonement gives her the power to be strong and courageous, and to channel the talents the Lord has given her into the work, because she knows that Jesus is always by her side.  Our zone leader talked about the Atonement as freedom.  The Atonement means freedom from the chains of sin, pain, sadness, worry, and doubt.  It eliminates all of those things and makes us free.  My companion said that the Atonement is her joy.  So many of us think that if Christ knows exactly how we feel, He knows it when we are sad, or confused, or in pain.  But He also knows and comprehends our joys.  Because of the Atonement, Jesus feels and understands the times when we are happy and hopeful.  For me, the Atonement, above all, is an infinite love--un amor infinito.  I know that He loves me, despite my weaknesses.  I know that He understands, and that He is always there, always there, and even though I can't actually see Him or feel His arms around me...in my heart I can feel Him hugging me and telling me that everything is going to be okay.  I feel His hugs in my heart, and that brings me so much peace.  I know that if He loves me, He loves everyone I meet.  The people here are not only statistics, people to contact.  They are children of our Heavenly Father, and our Savior knows and loves each of them.  He has an infinite love for every person.  This is my testimony.  I know it to be true.

 We straightened my hair for the conference with Elder Viñas

The other thing that I have learned is that this life is only a step in all of eternity.  I know that we lived before and that we will live after.  In the conference, Hermana Obeso talked about how we knew the gospel to be true before we came to this earth.  We came here to learn the gospel again, but this time by faith.  This is why the gospel seems so familiar to us!  Our hearts recognize it and we know it is true.  We feel a peace that confirms to us the truth of the gospel without having to see it physically.  This knowledge...that we lived before this life and had a testimony of the gospel...brings me so much peace.  I love this perspective, because I have seen it in our investigators!  They recognize the gospel and know it is true.  Today I had the chance to play the piano at a funeral.  (this probably sounds weird) but I love to play the piano at funerals.  Why?  Because it brings peace and calm to the people who are there.  The music helps them to remember that death is not the end.  Death is a part of Heavenly Father's plan for us to return to Him.

After the wonderful conference we had SO much fun for el 18 de septiembre!  The branch activity was a blast.  We played traditional games...sack race, balance the egg on the spoon, tug of war, kites, and also searching for a piece of candy in a bowl full of flour with your mouth.  That one was a little gross, but the pictures are really funny!  Everything turned out well with the food, and then we did karaoke with traditional music and also traditional dancing.  I wish I could send the pictures!  

 Traditional games for 18 de Septiembre celebration

Mom:  What are you eating here, besides hair?
Hna Latham: It was a bowl full of flour with a candy hidden in it where I had to use my mouth to get the candy.

So like you thought, we couldn't get as much proselyting in this week as far as progressing investigators goes.  But we actually taught a lot of lessons, considering our shortened time.  We have been working to find new people to teach and to help our investigators to progress.  I am loving this area and this companionship!  Hermana Bernel is so great.  We get along so well!  I feel almost like I am with someone from my family.  We understand each other really well.  Sometimes it makes me kind of sad that my favorite companions are from other countries because I won't be able to see them very much after!  But on the other hand, it is cool to think that after the mission I will have friends who live all over the world!

I love you all so much and truly enjoyed your letters this week!  It sounds like you are having a happy, busy, great September.  I hope that you have a wonderful week this week!  Also thank you for the quotes and pictures!  I agree with the brownie quote. ;)

Love always, Hermana Latham  

18 de Septiembre decorations I put in our windows

Monday, September 15, 2014

lo mas importante

                                                                                                                                                September 15, 2014

This week is the 18th of September, also known as "el 18 de septiembre" or "las fiestas patrias."  This town is exploding from the excitement!  Everyone has Chilean flags in their front yards, and in every house we visit they give us traditional cookies called alfajores (all-fah-HOR-es).  Also our branch is planning a big activity for this Friday, the day after the 18th.  People pass the 18th with their families, but the 19th is also a holiday.  So on the 18th we still don't know what we'll be doing, but on the 19th we have the activity, which should be really fun.  I will take lots of pictures :)

Also this week an elder from one of the quorums of the seventy is coming to visit our mission.  So Wednesday we have a big conference with about half of the mission.  Our zone is doing a musical number, so I will play the piano with Elder Crotzer (my old district leader) on the violin and the rest of our zone will sing.  The song that Elder Crotzer and I practiced will be prelude, so that way our whole zone can participate in the musical number.

This last week was so crazy and also so great.  It was hard to leave Río Bueno, but also really fun.  The branch always puts together a farewell for the missionaries who are leaving, so on Tuesday night Elder Lawton and I had our farewell.  It was so sweet to share with the branch for one more night!  They are truly such special people.  I felt so very loved.  A bunch of people wrote in my memory book so that I can remember them and find them on Facebook after.  It was also great because Elder Crotzer and I got to play our duet!  Hermana Ball took a video, but videos are too big for me to send from myldsmail.net.  So I am thinking that of all the videos I have taken, I will either put them all on a flash drive and send that to you guys, or maybe just wait to show you all my mission videos when I come home.  Hahaha don't worry about the mail that Hermana Ball gets.  It doesn't make me feel any less loved.  Her family is a little nutty for mail.  They send her so much stuff, and she has a reputation in the mission for being the missionary who receives the most mail.  But she has such a big personality that she just takes all of the jokes really well.  :)

Thank you for what you said about the transfers.  I think a lot of that is really true!  I don't like to think that I am limited, but I expressed a lot of the same frustrations and thoughts that I had with President Obeso in my letter, and then he called me later in the week.  He told me that he needed me to be in Radimadi with Hermana Bernel...that he knew that I would work hard to serve the people here and to serve my companion and that I could teach her a lot.  He told me that he loves to read my letters every week and that he loves the energy I have for missionary work, and he thanked me for everything that I did to serve in Río Bueno.  He told me that there is something he needs my help with in the next transfer.  I told him that I am willing to serve however the Lord needs me.  Hermana Bernel thinks that I could be a sister training leader.  It could happen.  But we will see...I am willing to help the mission president in whatever way that I can.  I loved the scriptures you shared.  Those are scriptures I try to keep in mind always!  As we serve the Chilean people, we serve the Lord!

I am so excited for this transfer.  Hermana Bernel is AWESOME!  It is so fun for me to be with a Spanish speaking companion again.  I love that I have had the chance to serve with people from so many different places.  Hermana Bernel loves this area and the people here love her so much.  She is loving, genuine, and sweet, and also a very happy person.  Our area is great!  We have some awesome progressing investigators...and two of them came to church on Sunday!  One of them told us that she received her answer, she knows that everything is true, and she wants to get baptized...but that when she gets baptized she wants to do it with her husband.  We are so excited to help her!  Her name is CXXX.  One of the sisters in our branch is really going out of her way to be a good friend and missionary to CXXX!  I LOVE IT!  We also have some fabulous little old people who we visit here, and I am so happy.  One of the recent converts is a little grouchy 83 year old man who lives across the street from us.  I love old people.  It's so great!  I am so happy to be starting in a new area!  As I think back on how I felt when I started in other areas, I can see just how much I have grown as a missionary.  I feel like for these last six months I will be able to serve better than I ever have.
 Me and my new companion!
At a service project on Saturday.

Last week I spelled the name of our area wrong.  It is Radimadi, all one word.  It is really interesting to be here because it is the rich neighborhood of La Unión.  It reminds me more of the United States than any other area I have been in.  The houses are much bigger, the majority of the people have cars, a lot more people go to college, and more people have tablets/smartphones/etc.  Our papitos are kind of the epitome of this.  They are from Colombia.  He is a dentist and she is an architect.  They live in a huge house and have a car, and our "mamita" is not the one who cooks for us.  They have a lady who works for them who cooks for us.  It is so different.  I feel like I jumped into another world.  Also because they are Colombian, they don't eat the typical Chilean food.  I am getting accustomed to eating less again.  That's probably good!  haha.  But I leave every day still hungry and when we go home to study I eat another piece of fruit and sometimes another piece of bread or a granola bar.  The most interesting thing I notice about serving in a richer area is the willingness to listen.  People here are much more busy, and much more rude.  I am praying to know how I can be better in contacting them because they are very different from the people in Río Bueno.

I wanted to end with a spiritual thought.  This week has been crazy, packing up and leaving from one area, then coming to a new one and trying to immerse myself in the work here and learn everything I need to know about my new area.  I feel like my brain has so much different information that I have a hard time making sense of it all.  But I have been thinking about what is the most important..."lo mas importante."  What is the most important is the message...what is the most important is the Savior.  I know that whatever may happen in our lives, wherever we may be...the most important thing will always be the Savior.  He loves us and He has the perfect plan!  He is there in every single moment.  

I hope that you all have a wonderful week!  I love you all so much and Mama, I truly truly appreciate your emails.  Thank you for taking the time to write me every week.  :)

I am sending you all gigantic hugs!

Love always, Hermana Latham

My District Leader in Rio Bueno and the one who I played the duet with.
The four of us from Rio Bueno branch...all four of us were born in 1994 and all four of us are BYU students :)

al otro lado del río

                                                                                                                                             September 8, 2014

                                                  Rain suits and umbrellas--my clothes' best friend!


Thank you for your letter this week!  I love to read from you.  It's actually really hilarious to me how similar I am to you.  You nailed exactly on the head my feelings about transfers, and also...I totally inherited the stress management and inability to sit down and take a break from you.  hahaha....good luck with your crazy week!  Everything will work out!  

Okay, ***drumroll please,*** I am getting transferred!  Where am I going?  "Al otro lado del río."  The other side of the river.  Río Bueno is on this side of the river, and I am going to La Unión, the little town on the other side of the river.  haha.  I had built it up so much in my mind having a transfer and I am going a 20 minute bus ride away.  lol.  So I am going to be in the same zone, and my new companion has been in this zone with me for the past four transfers.  The branch is called Radi Madi, and my new companion is Hermana Bernel (bare-NELL).  She is from Argentina and she got here to the mission a few transfers after me.  Radi Madi is her first area!  So it will be great to be with her.  I have loved being in her zone for the last six months and I know she is a great missionary.

At first I didn't have the greatest attitude about this.  Although you had been praying for me not to go to Punta Arenas, that was my dream!  I was hoping for something that would be a totally new adventure!  I was thinking that maybe after a year as a missionary, and having had a couple of junior companions, and having worked with Hermana Ball so hard on her Spanish, maybe I could get the chance to be a trainer.  I have wanted to train for my whole mission.  And Hermana Ball is going to train next transfer here in Río Bueno.  And my district leader is going to train next transfer.  But Hermana Ball and I talked about it a lot.  Just because the Lord hasn't called me to be a trainer doesn't mean I'm a bad missionary.  And even though my transfers are really close by and I will still have to come to Río Bueno for zone meetings and things, that doesn't make it "the transfer that wasn't."  In Radi Madi, there are people who the Lord is preparing to hear the gospel, and I get the chance to meet and serve them!  And it will be great!  And even if I stay in this same zone for the rest of my transfers, it will be wonderful.  Maybe I won't get to see as much of southern Chile as I had imagined.  But I am not here to see southern Chile.  I am here to serve the Lord!  And He has called me to La Unión.

Other logistical stuff...We sprang (sprung?  working so hard on past tense in Spanish with Hna Ball, I don't remember past tense in English...haha) forward an hour this weekend.  So we are now an hour ahead of Eastern time.  Also, I am putting a box in the mail for you guys.  It has stuff that I can't keep lugging around in my suitcase, but it also has fun Chilean food and souvenirs and birthday cards.  :)

My district leader gave me some difficult sheet music for Canon in D and I practiced hard throughout the week.  We got together and practiced a lot.  Then on Sunday, the light was cut for all of Río Bueno basically all day, and the piano is electric.  So we couldn't perform it.  :(  But we are going to perform it on Tuesday at the farewell the branch is doing for me, and probably in some other zone conference (since we are still in the same zone).     

So my last week in Río Bueno has been wonderful.  We honestly have the best investigators that I could ever ask for.  We are teaching a young evangelico (Christian) couple, and unlike other evangelicos I have known, they are really willing to learn more about our beliefs.  They totally accepted the message of the Restoration, and they accepted to read the Book of Mormon.  It was a really great lesson with them because we brought a member with us!  

We also had a lesson and a family home evening with AXX and HXXXX.  HXXXX is amazing!  He is reading all of the chapters we give him from the Book of Mormon, coming to church every Sunday, and praying to receive an answer.  The only reason that he doesn't accept a baptismal date is because he knows that it is such an important decision.  We are just telling him about the blessings that come from baptism.  AXX doesn't keep her commitments...but she does listen and participate in the lessons, and if Humberto keeps going, I know she will too.

We also had a great lesson with CXXX, AXXX and their son VXXXX.  All three of them have accepted the goal of baptism on the 27th!  VXXXX
is precious.  We watched the video of the Restoration and asked him what his favorite part was.  He said the part when Joseph prays and receives an answer, and sees God and Jesus.  He totally hit the nail on the head.  I love understanding the gospel from the perspective of a child.  As adults, we overcomplicate everything...when honestly, the gospel is so simple, so beautiful, and so true.

I have had some really beautiful moments this transfer of truly understanding that I am a daughter of God and that this message we bring as missionaries is the truth.  It brings happiness to everyone who will wholeheartedly accept it.  I know that our Savior lives and loves us, and that He is willing to go to any length to comfort us.

This week in our district meeting we talked about the importance of the Holy Spirit in our lessons, and how we can help our investigators to identify the feelings that come from the Spirit.  It was so inspired that we talked about that!  As Hermana Ball and I studied it more, and really strived to put into practice the techniques to have the Spirit, we saw a change in our lessons.  We saw a change in our investigators.  I am so grateful for the Holy Ghost; I know he is the third companion.

I love you all so much!  I miss you and I hope that you are doing well.  

Love always, Hermana Latham

la paciencia

                                                                                                                                            September 1, 2014
What a crazy week!  I haven't had a week so crazy in a while.  There is a lot to talk about this week!  And with all that has happened, I have really been able to work on learning patience, or "la paciencia." 
Thank you so much for the letter you sent me last week.  I have read it various times throughout the week and it helps me to progress personally.  Thank you also for helping me to notice the ways that I have grown in the past year!  Also like you said, my companion is really great.  I love her.  It has been so fun to be with her and learn from her.  I hope we can do stuff together after the mission, too!  With respect to the roommates thing that you asked me the other day...she likes to have random roommates to get to know new people.  So the quest for college roommates continues.  haha.  And about the new mission rules...at the very beginning when we knew the changes it was somewhat stressful.  But it is helping us a lot to have the Spirit more as we seek to live the mission rules.  The biggest one that our new mission president emphasizes is 30 minutes of exercise.  Before, we got up at 7:00, and then after we had said our prayers and made our beds, it was already 7:10 or 7:15, and if we had to go to the bathroom or something like that in the morning, our exercises pretty much disappeared and we didn't worry about it too much.  But now they ask us to get up a little before 7:00 so that we can have 30 full minutes of exercise.  As we have gotten used to it, it actually helps with stress levels.  The other one that is hard is trying to change our vocabulary so that we don't include what are called "chilenismos."  Everyone here says "bakan," which is like "cool," and adds "po" to the end of a lot of words.  Like "sí" becomes "sípo," for example.  And our mission president doesn't want us to use those kinds of words as missionaries, so we are working to eliminate them. 
This week I passed my one year mark on the mission!  I can hardly believe that I have been a missionary for a year!  That single thought helped me to feel like a better missionary this week...that I have been working hard, getting up early, studying the scriptures, praying, loving, teaching, speaking Spanish, living in another country, etc. for an entire year!  So we went to Osorno (one hour away in bus), and while we were there, Hermana Ball treated me to ice cream to celebrate one year.  We also bought a pizza.  It was a fun day!
                                                   Celebrating One Year on the Mission in Osorno!
The whole week we were working hard to invite people and to get ready for the activity we were having on Friday.  Our investigators and all of the members got so excited for the activity!  It was a talent show, so we practiced our talents throughout the week, we made decorations, and we invited just about everyone that we could think of.  It was such a huge success!  But it was a crazy, crazy night and I didn't get the chance to take pictures.  But one of the elders played the violin, the other played the piano, I sang "Part of Your World" in English and "The Olive Tree" in Spanish, and Hermana Ball and I sang "Soy un hijo de Dios" to the beat of the cup game from Young Women.  It was a talent show and a potato night, so everyone brought different potato dishes.  We had NINE investigators in the activity.  Nine investigators!  All of them were so excited to come, and our mamita and her family brought two friends.  It was such a great opportunity for our investigators to meet other members and to feel the Spirit in a really comfortable way.  I love activities.  They are honestly so fabulous for missionary work, especially for the chance the investigators have to get to know members.  Five of those investigators came to church on Sunday!  Our investigators are on fire!
This week was fun because I could use my musical talents.  I loved practicing to sing at the talent show, and I also taught a beginning piano lesson to some of our investigators.  It was interesting trying to teach piano in Spanish without a book to guide me...but I think they learned a little something.  The district leader has been telling me for the entire transfer that he wants to play the violin with me on the piano one of these Sundays and since this coming Sunday is the last one in the transfer, he told me that he will give me the music.  Here's hoping, because that would be cool to do a duet with a violin!  Also, last week I taught a workshop on how to direct music to the Young Women.  It was fun to share my talent with them.
So how was this week a lesson on patience?  The things I told you about all took a little bit of time out of proselyting time.  And then Saturday was the day that taught me the most patience.  We volunteered to help a lady paint her walls.  We planned an hour and a half to do it.  I had no idea how hard it is to paint a wall!!  I figured it was easy!  hahaha...there is a reason that no one says "it's as easy as painting a wall!"  I am terrible at painting.  So it was long and stressful, and we were late to our appointments in the afternoon, and I felt bad because I am so terrible at painting and although I tried to help Hermana Ball, she ended up doing most of it and I just painted the details (like the corners, the parts next to the baseboards, etc.).  I got so frustrated with myself for being so bad at painting, and chopping firewood, and building fire, etc.  And then I ended up getting frustrated with my companion for little picky things....but we talked through everything with my companion and she reminded me that I really don't have to be perfect.  I have been good at noticing the good things I've done this week...but the little things I do wrong always have a way of driving me nuts.  We talked about having patience with yourself, loving yourself, and remembering that your opinion really does matter.  I am feeling better and better every day.
                                                   The wall that was once purple...is now orange!

We had a zone field trip to Lago Ranco today, and it was cold and rainy and crazy because we were trying to walk fast enough to be in pace with the elders...they walk so fast, even when we are climbing up a mountain!  But it was really fun.  I will send pictures next week.  I really can't believe that this transfer is ending!  I'm havnig to face the reality that I will probably be leaving Río Bueno, and I don't like it!  It will be so hard to say goodbye to this place that I have loved and served.  But I am also excited to find out where the Lord will want me to serve next!  I will be telling you next week!  

                                                                        Hiking in Lago Ranco :)

I love you all so, so much!  I hope that you had a lovely Labor Day and that you have a wonderful week!  I also hope that you will pray often to our Heavenly Father so that you can feel His love, and so that you can be inspired to know how you can love and help others.
Abrazos, Hermana Latham

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

un buen terreno

                                                                                                                                                   August 25, 2014


HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!!!!!!  24 years!  HOW FABULOUS!!!!!  Y'all are incredible, honestly, the best parents that I can imagine.  The Lord has blessed me immensely to have you as my examples.  I am sending you gigantic hugs, lots of chocolate, and also red roses. :)

Thank you for the email you sent me.  Last week was a tough one for me, and Hermana Ball told me that it would be good for me to let you all know what was going on.  Like you know, sometimes it is hard for me to explain exactly why I am so sad or frustrated.  I just get so mixed up in my own thoughts sometimes and I have such high expectations of myself that sometimes I totally stress myself out.  I am working on being calmer, loving myself more, and recognizing the good that I do.  I am trying to be more patient with myself.  I am also working on making time to wind down so that I am not stressed out all the time.  It helps me when I take a few minutes at night to write in my journal.  The sister training leaders came this week and gave us some tips on how we can use our time wisely so I can write.  The sister training leader also did what you did in your letter and reminded me that I am doing a good job.  We also had a lesson in Gospel Principles yesterday about talents, and how each of us has different talents, and in that way we can all help each other.  So, I can contribute to this work through my own talents and I can get better as I seek help from others' talents.  It's nice to remember that different is not bad and that Heavenly Father loves us just the way we are.

It is unbelievable to me that on Thursday I will have been a missionary for a year!  Wow!  They aren't kidding when they tell you at the beginning that a year and a half goes by fast.  Like you said, I just want to make the absolute most out of these last six months.  I love being a missionary and I am so excited that the Lord forgives my weaknesses, uses my strengths, and gives me a chance to do this for six more months.  

This week has been a really good one.  We have found great new people to teach, and our investigators are progressing!  Yesterday in church, five of our investigators came!  Right now we are teaching a family who investigated with elders two or three years ago in another town, CXX, AXX, and their two sons.  CXX's father is an active member in the town next to us, and she loves to see how he has changed since he got baptized a few years ago.  We are so excited for them!!  When Hermana Ball was with the sister training leader, they accepted a baptismal goal!  They just need to get married first.  So they are doing great.  The other two who came are AXX and HXXX.  AXX is 18 and HXXX is 26, so it is fun to teach people roughly the same ages as us.  They are cousins.  We found them in English class and started sharing with them, and they are really receptive.  We have taken two different members with us to lessons with them, and they were so excited to come to church!  Our branch really reached out to all of our investigators to make them feel welcome.  It was fabulous.

On Tuesday night, we were walking home from a great visit with some less actives, and we went through the plaza (it is typical for towns in South America to have a plaza in the center) on the way home.  I felt something heavy and wet fall in my hair, and it was too big to be a raindrop....it was bird poop.  Yes, this week a bird pooped in my hair.  My companion and I just died laughing!  Oh my gosh.  I never imagined that happening in real life.  It sounds more like a movie.  But people say it is 7 years of good luck.  Here's hoping for that.  Because it was pretty gross.  hahaha.

One night a bird pooped in my hair.

We have had some GORGEOUS, SUNNY, AWESOME days this week!  On Saturday we planted flowers in front of our house with our owner.  I don't know if I ever told you that having a garden is one of my dreams.  I don't know much about gardening, but it was so fun to do!  And I took a page out of Daddy's book and was searching for a spiritual thought while we worked in the yard.  I noticed as we were digging holes to plant the flowers that the land here in Chile is really rocky.  We had to look around a little bit to find a good spot to plant the flowers.  Our owner is not a member, so we took advantage and shared with her a thought from Alma 32.  Hermana Ball talked about the good seed that we must plant in our hearts in order to gain a testimony.  And then I talked about how important it is that we also have a good piece of land, or "un buen terreno," so that the seed can grow.  The seed is good.  We can always have faith in that.  But in order to receive the seed, we have to prepare the ground in our heart first.  It needs to be black and soft, in a place where it can receive lots of sunlight.  I hope that all of us will do what is necessary to make the land in our hearts a good piece of land...reading the scriptures, praying, service, going to church...so that the seed can grow and bring us joy! Link to scripture Melanie is referring to:  

Here is a picture of us in front of the Barbie house :)

This week we did green mud masks.
I love you all so much!  I hope you enjoy your Labor Day weekend and soak up the last of the summer.  :)

Abrazos, Hermana Latham  

solamente esfuérzate

                                                                                                                            August 18, 2014

Thank you for the quotes, pictures, and questions!  Now I have some more ideas of what I can share.  Thank you also for responding quickly with the information for the mission office.  I honestly can't believe that it's time for them to plan my flight home!  What?  Since when am I close to the end of the mission?  It's still not all that close...6 more months.  But that letter hit me pretty hard.  I only have 6 months left to be a full-time missionary!  I have to soak up these experiences and do the very best I can, because I am convinced that these 6 months will fly faster than the first year has.

Okay, so first to answer the questions:
Do you play piano in sacrament weekly? Do you choose the songs? I play the piano every Sunday, but I don't choose the hymns.
Do you think/dream only in Spanish now? I'm not sure if I dream in Spanish.  But a lot of my thoughts are in Spanish.  
Is is hard for you to go back to English when you read and write emails?  As time has gone by in the mission, I've gotten better at separating Spanish and English, so it has gotten somewhat easier for me to write to you in English.  Sometimes I really can't remember the words in English and sometimes I almost write to you in Spanish and I have to remind myself how the sentence structure should be in English.  haha.  It's still normal for me to read in English, and every day it is easier for me to read in Spanish.  
How's reading the Book Of Mormon in Spanish coming?The Book of Mormon in Spanish is awesome!  I am in Alma 40.  I'm reading it really slowly because I get more out of it that way.
Do you and your companion speak English to each other now? I speak English with my companion when we are inside our house and I really need to express my feelings, or sometimes when she is confused in Spanish I explain to her in English.  But we have a rule as missionaries to speak the mission language as much as possible, so mostly we speak to each other in Spanish.  It's really good practice.
Also, are you teaching English classes in your branch in Rio Bueno? Right now we have a brother in our branch who teaches the English classes.  He's young, like 24 or 25, and he studied English in college.  We help with pronunciation, and since the elders are from the States too, we alternate who goes to the classes to help.
How many people are in your branch?  How many active/inactive?  We have 548 people on our records, but our list is pretty old.  A lot of people have moved and a lot are less active.  This Sunday we had 102 in the church, which was incredible!  Normally it's between 85 and 95.  This branch is really strong.
How many investigators do you have now, and how are they progressing? We don't have very many investigators right now.  We are working with some to help them start progressing and we are looking for new ones.  But we have been visiting a really great couple who is preparing to get married!  They said that they want to wait until the summer, but we are trying to teach them the blessings of living the law of chastity and inviting them to be baptized!  We also have some good new investigators who read the pamphlets and ask questions, which is REALLY good.  I love it when they study when we aren't there!  It shows that they are really interested.
Did PXXX ever come back to church?  PXXX still hasn't come back to church.  We haven't seen her in two weeks.  Every appointment we set with her falls through, and we are really worried about her.  I pray for her a lot.  I don't know what we can do!
Tell us more about the "Barbie house" Our house is the Barbie house because it is a tiny, white house that looks like it could be for a Barbie.  It is tiny inside like it looks on the outside (still don't have a picture!  need to take one!).  We have a little kitchen, bathroom, and a table downstairs, with a bookshelf and closets.  Upstairs we have a room where we study and another one where we sleep.
Other missionaries talk about eating a lot of meat, but you never mentioned that.  Is that situational? We eat meat pretty regularly, but it doesn't strike me as a lot.  We eat a mix, chicken, beef, pork, fish.
How will you spend the Chilean holiday next month? I don't know how 18 de septiembre will be for me because it is right after transfers!  We'll see!
Your sweet Mamita likes all my pics on FB. How much does she know about us? Mamita doesn't know all that much about you guys...just your ages pretty much.  People want to know about my family, but pretty superficially.  Every once in a while they ask me what my dad's job is.  But mostly they want to know how many are in my family and the ages.
You haven't talked about starting fires or chopping firewood in a while. Do you do it at all, or just skip it since it's so much trouble? We chop wood and make fire about once or twice a week.  It is really so much work and eats up so much time!  So a lot of the time it's just easier to wrap up in blankets and jackets and stuff.
How's the messenger bag working out?  Would you recommend it to other missionaries?The messenger bag...doesn't work so well for me.  I used it for a little while, but it was hard for me to have so much weight on one shoulder, so I went back to my backpack.  It is truly a fabulous bag, with all the cool pockets and everything...just that having all of my books on one shoulder tired me out too much.
You mentioned spring is coming.  When is winter really over? I almost forgot about winter!  They say that winter officially ends in September.  But yesterday and today were really nice!  I went outside with only a long-sleeved shirt and a cardigan!  It has been sunny with blue skies!  So we are starting to have a few nice days.

This week was a really emotional one for me.  I'm trying to get used to a new companion, deal with tons of fallen through appointments, make the sector progress, follow the new mission president's new rules, and be a better missionary every day.  I get so frustrated with all of my weaknesses.  This has been a week where I have really beat myself up a lot.  Today I am trying to do the same thing that you and Daddy always talked to me about...doing the best that I can.  The only thing that Jesus expects of me is to do the best I can, and I think He would probably tell me "thank you" for trying so hard to be good!  If He loves me, then I can do this.  And I miss you guys a lot in those kind of days.  But our mission president shared a scripture with us in zone conference this week that I really loved.  It is Joshua 1:7  Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest., and in Spanish it says, "Solamente esfuérzate, y sé muy valiente."  I looked it up in English and it is not a direct translation, and I like more what it says in Spanish... "Just try, and be very courageous."  I remember this scripture and just keep trying to be the best that I can be!  And like you have always told me, that is really what He asks of me.

I love you so much!  I miss you a lot!  I hope that you are enjoying the beginning of the school year and that if you are sad, you remember that there is a young woman in Chile who prays for you every night.

Love always, Hermana Latham


                                                                                                                            August 11, 2014

Hola hola!
It's fun to hear from y'all and all of the new details of your lives.  I am SO SO SO SO SO HAPPY for Evan!!!!!!!  I cried when I read that.  I am sending him all my love from Río Bueno, Chile, and I would love to email or write him!  (Email is easier, I have approximately zero time to write letters.)  I am also so happy that Abby has physics with Mr. Marr.  The best ever.  Thank you for the quotes you sent this week.  I always feel like you have mother-daughter telepathy or something because each time the quotes are literally exactly what I needed to read.  My favorite today was "See the good in yourself."  I need to write that really big on a piece of paper and see it every morning.  It is incredible how many people the Lord has placed in my path to love me throughout this mission...here in Chile and from the United States in emails or cards.  If so many people can see the good in me, I need to be better at seeing the good in myself.  I would love it if y'all would send questions!  I've been here for long enough that I've gotten pretty accustomed to things and I don't always know what to share!  I always want to tell about my spiritual experiences, studies, investigators, companions, etc, or the hard things or the really cool things.  So I forget to talk about the other things.  I need to take a picture of our house to send to you!  Our house is kind of famous between some of the senior missionaries and some of the sisters.  It is the Barbie house.  It is a tiny, cute little white house.  I love it!  It will be sad to leave it!  Yes, it rains a ton here.  It rains pretty much every day.  But it normally doesn't rain all day.  It'll rain kind of hard for a few minutes, then the sun comes out for a while, then it rains again.  I basically live in rain boots.  So it is cold and wet.  But the rain honestly doesn't get to me much.  We have a lot of people to visit...less actives, investigators, contacts, members, etc, so we are usually not outside all day.  Some days are hard because we are out in the rain all day and when it rains all day, people don't want to let us in or talk to us in the street.  But I try not to let it get me down.  I think that it gets me down subconsciously though, because when we have really nice, sunny days, I suddenly feel really happy without a real explanation.  haha.  Last week my boots completely died, so I went to the store that is basically like Goodwill and bought two new pairs, one for nice on Sundays or meetings and one more like snowboots because they are really warm.  I also left my umbrella on the bus the other day and bought the third one that I have bought in Chile today.  Pretty much everything is humid and that makes everything smell weird, but I know that winter is ending.  We are starting to see pretty little yellow and pink flowers on some of the trees, and we have had a few sunny days in the past couple weeks!  It is still cold, though.  I wear one pair of fleece lined tights with another heavy pair every day, and I use the long-sleeved black or white T-shirts under everything.  Our rain jackets and skirts are my best friends.  They are ugly, yes.  But they keep the rest of my clothes dry!

Having a new companion here is fun.  She wants to take pictures of everything.  Here is me with a statue of a legendary Indian from the Mapuche tribe named Caupolican, and me at the river.

Today in the morning it was somewhat sunny and Hermana Ball wanted pictures with the Río Bueno, so we went and took pictures!  It has been fun to have a companion who hasn't been in Río Bueno before because it helps me to see everything new again and I remember just how much I love Río Bueno.  I know that one of these days I will have to leave, and thinking about it makes me sad!  At first I was worried because I felt kind of like I didn't know where else to look for new investigators.  But the Lord never said that there was a relationship with the amount of time and the new investigators that one missionary can find.  With fasting, prayer, diligence, and faith, we found four new investigators this week!  It was so special.  One of the new investigators came from one of my favorite missionary miracles yet.  One day we visited a less active lady and her family.  It was really hard to invite the Spirit in their home, and we just felt like they really weren't interested.  We decided that we wouldn't go back.  But later on in the day, we realized that I left my pretty pink scarf in their house.  NOOOO!  So, Hermana Ball said to me, "Maybe this is a sign.  Someone in that house is ready for this message."  I thought at the same time, "Pssh, yeah.  But really?  Could it be?"  So we planned to go back and a couple days later we went by to visit.  One of the less active's granddaughters was there in the house, and she told us that she was looking for a religion.  She is 11, and she had been in the house other times when I visited and always called my attention by her goodness and purity in her eyes.  She loved the story of Joseph Smith and really identified with him.  She told us that she wanted to pray like he did.  And it was also cool because Hermana Ball and I had just been practicing saying the First Vision memorized, and when she shared it in the lesson, she totally NAILED it!  I could not have been happier.  It makes me think of Alma 37:6, "by small and simple things are great things brought to pass."   Alma 37:6  Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.  We went to visit because of a scarf.

Here is us at the river and a picture with the pretty yellow flowers that are starting to spring up by the river 
(and lots of wind!  Note the hair and the flipped over missionary name tag!  haha)

This week we also had two of our investigators come to church!  We have been inviting them for months and they came!  It was GREAT!  The branch presidency asked me to give a talk in church yesterday, and we have the meetings inverted (sacrament last).  So they asked me right before Sunday school, and I was kind of wigging out in my mind thinking of what I could say in my talk.  I am also playing the piano in sacrament meeting now, so I was up on the stand when I saw them sitting on the bench next to my companion!  They loved the meeting and they looked so happy.  Their names are H and F.

I titled this week's email "diligencia" because Hermana Ball and I studied and really applied diligence this week.  There is a scripture about diligence that I love in Moroni 9:6:  And now, my beloved son, notwithstanding their hardness, let us labor diligently; for if we should cease to labor, we should be brought under condemnation; for we have a labor to perform whilst in this tabernacle of clay, that we may conquer the enemy of all righteousness, and rest our souls in the kingdom of God.  He talks about how there is a work for us to do while we are in this tabernacle of clay, and we should do it with diligence!  Every day is a gift, and the Lord always puts people in our path for us to serve.  As we do it with diligence, He blesses us with joy.  Diligence is hard.  Sometimes we get tired.  But as we pray, the Lord gives us the spirit and the strength to keep on and we are blessed so much!

It was funny to hear you talk about iPhones.  Everything here in terms of technology is really behind.  Super behind.  There are lots of people who don't even have computers in their homes.  Hardly anyone has smart phones.  So I didn't know about the colored iPhones.  But that's cool!  The other little thing...We can't receive visits from people from other areas and we also can't receive email from anyone who lives within our mission limits.  So...we have to be careful with investigators from our old areas.

I love you all so much!  I hope that the beginning of school treats you well, and please, please go to the temple and think of me!  :)  I miss the temple every day and I can't wait to go again. (about the temple in Santiago, I'm not sure if I'll get to go or not.)

Gigantic hugs from Río Bueno, Hermana Latham