Tuesday, December 16, 2014

¡Él es la dádiva!

                                                                                                                                                     December 15, 2014

Hermana Latham wearing the outfit and sitting next to the Nativity Scene she received for Christmas 


I can't BELIEVE that we are ten days from Christmas!  That's why I haven't said much about Skype or anything--I really haven't felt like we are so close!  But we are!  I got the box!  And you had told me to open the outfit before so that I could get more use out of it, so I opened it to wear to a special conference we had on Friday.  We are still getting everything figured out here since we are new, so we don't have anywhere in particular to go for Christmas.  A senior couple of missionaries (the Beecrofts) invited us to their home for a little while on Christmas, and we are thinking of doing something fun as the four of us (roommates).  I have been so excited for the flash drive with the Christmas music all this time...and my speaker can't read the files.  :(  So I am going to look for another speaker today that will read the files.  As far as Skype goes, we are going to look for a member who is willing to host us this week.  President Obeso is not giving us as much time as President Rappleye did to talk...it will be 30 to 40 minutes.  I figure that it will be easier for me to link up with y'all than for Hermana Brown to get with her family, because we only have a 2 hour difference and she has a 5 hour difference.  

But we are getting SO excited for Christmas!  I don't remember if I told you last week, but all of us as missionaries are part of a Christmas choir with the Osorno Stake.  We are doing a ton of rehearsals...because on Friday we are singing in the central plaza of Osorno (AHHH!), on Saturday a little town called Río Negro asked us to come sing (WOW), and then on Sunday we will have our final concert in the stake center.  I love singing, and it is especially fun to sing Christmas songs, and to sing in Spanish!  We have been able to do so many contacts and invite them to the choir concerts.  Lots of people are really excited to come to the plaza on Friday to hear us.  I LOVE it!  Love it!!  Although I will miss you guys this Christmas, I feel so blessed to be a missionary at Christmas time and share this message.

The message that we have been striving to share is that of "Él es la dádiva," or the video you sent me a couple weeks ago, "He is the Gift."  We have pass along cards to invite people to the webpage to go see it, and they get so excited to watch it.  Here is the link to the video Melanie is referring to:  http://mor.mn/23t2u.  Because we are right outside of the city, we have SO many people in the streets to contact.  And it's so fun.  Just to share that special Christmas message with others.  We have been able to watch it with a few members and investigators, and the spirit of it brings tears to my eyes.  The spirit of Christmas is not anything more than the spirit of Christ...it is just that at this time of year, we can help others to recognize it even more.  The spirit that the video brings is so sacred and beautiful and I am so happy to share that here.  I totally understand what you are saying about loving the gospel more than as a child...I really didn't understand or recognize how truly incredible the gospel is before I was a missionary.  It means more to me every day.

This week we actually had a new investigator who we had contacted last week telling him to watch the video.  He loved the video and he wants to learn more about our message!  One of the first challenges in the training manual for new missionaries is to invite an investigator to baptism, and I was so proud of Hermana Brown this week with this investigator!  She did really well teaching her part of the lesson and inviting him to baptism.

I am in a different ward this time than I was last time in Osorno.  Last time I was in a ward called Los Laureles, and this time my ward is Centro.  They are in the same stake, though, so I see people from my old ward at the choir practices.  The sector I am in right now is a lot more high class than the one I was in last year.  We have areas that are literally mansions.  That is where our mamita lives.  And when we go to her home to eat, we sit at the end of a long table and eat off of china.  The cook makes our lunch, and we have had things like steak or salmon on just a typical day.  Our mamita and her family don't eat with us...they are actually hardly ever there when we are eating.  So we feel a bit strange just going to eat and leaving.  We are going to visit them this week and see if we can actually get to know their family and ask them to host us on their computers for Christmas.

I almost forgot!  On Friday we had a special conference with the mission psychologist and his wife!  I got to talk to him for a while, and he asked me what my plans are for after the mission.  I realized that I am not sure about anything when I go home!  I don't have a job.  I don't have a car.  I don't have a boyfriend.  And I'm not even 100% sure about what I want to study anymore.  But I realized in that moment that I have progressed so much on this mission....because even with all of the unknowns I have, I am not filled with terror anymore.  I am filled with peace.  I know that when I live as the Lord would have me live and put my faith in Him, that everything will turn out okay.  And He will bless me.  I have also learned how to love myself.  Of course, it is not easy...but I loved something that his wife said in her talk...that it is a marvelous gift to be myself!  The person that Heavenly Father created to be me is a marvelous gift!  I am striving to cherish that gift.

Hermana Latham and Hermana Brown next to the Nativity Scene they received for Christmas

I hope that you all are having a wonderful week!  I wish Abby and Benjamin good luck on their tests and hope that Abby gets better!  I love you all and I will tell you the Skype details next week.

Abrazos, Hermana Latham 

Friday, December 12, 2014

tendréis plenitud de gozo

Monday, December 1, 2014

sirviendo a otros con bondad

Bus car con fe

                                                                                               November 24, 2014


Thanks for telling me what everybody's doing.  It's fun to hear about!  Don't worry about leaving the Christmas decorations up until I get home...that's two whole months after Christmas!  I can wait until next year to see them.  Or maybe you can send me some pictures.  I love the pictures of Abby's art and of Benjamin in scouts!  He is so TALL!  In the picture he looks about the same height as Daddy!  Also Daddy's hair is a ton grayer than when I left.  And your hair looks like my hair always was before the mission.  Abby's art is unbelievable.  She is honestly so talented.

We're not doing anything special for Thanksgiving.  Thank you for sending me the dressing recipe...but I'm not gonna be able to make it.  There are too many of the ingredients that are really hard to find here, and I also have basically zero time to cook.  Thursday is our weekly planning day, so we have to plan that day.  But we bought a frozen pizza and Hermana Wadsworth wants to make a German pancake/dutch baby just to celebrate in some way.  We also planned a family home evening with some less actives where we will talk about gratitude on Wednesday night right before Thanksgiving.  We are going to share with each other something we're thankful for every day this week, too.  So in some way or another it will be celebrated.  :)  Today we also got together with all the hermanas in our zone in Hermana Stott's house to celebrate a little bit together.  We made pancakes and desserts in the microwave.

This week has been a really tough one.  The whole time we have been together with Hermana Wadsworth, we have been searching, not just looking, but seriously searching for someone who is prepared for our message.  And it has been hard.  We have so many days where we just walk for the entire day, because no one in our plans opens their door, and try to contact people or knock doors.  It's just hard to face so much rejection...to us and also to Jesus and God.  It is unbelievable to me how many people just don't want God in their lives.  We're running low on spiritual energy.  My companion is usually really positive and just keeps on keepin' on, but this week I think she kind of reached a rough point.  I think the last straw was when we had to drop the only investigator we had who let us visit frequently.  She just told me she is struggling with understanding why Heavenly Father sent her here because she feels like she is not able to help anyone.  I remember feeling exactly the same way when I was in my training, and listening to people talk about how much they loved the mission and thinking that I would never love the mission because it was so hard.  But with time I have learned many things, and although it is still so hard, I have learned to love the mission.  I am praying for her that she will have a lot of hope and be happy.  I think her family really misses her a lot...she is the oldest of 6 and her next brother is getting ready to leave on his mission sometime in the summer after he graduates from high school.  This time of year is just really hard for a missionary.  Thanksgiving doesn't exist here, so you just find yourself feeling really homesick and missing your family a lot.  I had gotten to where I was so focused on the work that I didn't miss you all as much, but when you're in the street contacting all day, it's hard.  I keep having dreams where I can see you guys, but I can't touch you.  And then when I wake up I feel sad.

But what we are striving to learn is to search with faith, or "buscar con fe."  Faith that Jesus and Heavenly Father really are preparing someone who we can help, someone who we can bless.  Because we know what a blessing this message is.  And we know that it can bring people joy.  And sometimes when you feel like you just can't take one more contact who tells you they aren't interested, you run into somebody who really needs your help.  One day this week we found a lady sitting alone outside her home, and she just had this empty look in her eyes.  We stopped to talk to her, and found out that she was feeling sad because her brother had recently died.  We shared with her a little bit about the Plan of Salvation and about how Jesus knows how she is feeling.  I hope that we can visit with her more, because I know that this message can make the difference in her life.

So it's tough.  But we are just plowing on, because whether these people know it or not, they need this message.  And we have been called to share it.

The Primary program went really well yesterday.  We have 9 kids in our Primary, and all of them came dressed up in their Sunday best.  They all gave their talks very nicely and sang the songs so well!  I think my favorite talk was a little 5-year-old girl who talked about Jesus, and how He is her Savior and she knows that He loves her, and that she loves Him too.  It was really touching.  Another little girl talked about how love in family means giving hugs and kisses and obeying your parents, your uncles and aunts, and your grandparents.  :)

I hope that you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and that Daddy has a great birthday!  I love you all so much!  I will be thinking of you this week!

Also some fun words I learned this week in Spanish...
Fanny pack=banano (another word for banana...haha I guess it's descriptive of the shape?)
Hula hoop=ula ula (that one just sounds funny.)

I am so grateful for you all!
Love, Hermana Latham

con todo el corazón

                                                                                                                        November 17, 2014

This week was so incredible!  I LOVED the conference with Elder Nelson.  It is such an unforgettable experience to hear an apostle in person.  The same as with Elder Ballard, I couldn't believe how old he looks in person!  One hermana told me that he is close to 90.  Somebody also told me that they have to wear makeup for General Conference.  I'm not sure if that's true.  But it would make sense.  What is incredible is that even though the apostles are so old, they are so powerful.  Elder Nelson probably has more energy than I do!  His voice is just so powerful...but so loving.  I am so thankful for the opportunity that I have had to meet two different apostles.  They are each different in their ways of teaching and serving...but their message is exactly the same.  Elder Nelson is so loving and so HAPPY!  Honestly, he completely radiates happiness!  As I am relating this experience to you I feel like maybe it wasn't even real...I loved to see that happiness in him.  And he talked about the importance of happiness as a missionary.  He said, "A smile on your face is one of the most important things as a missionary."  I know that it is true!  We have the best message in the entire world, one that brings us such joy...and we need to share that joy in a world that needs it so desperately.  I am working to always have a smile on my face so that I can help and invite others to come unto Christ.  In the end, I didn't play the piano at the conference.  So I freaked myself out about that for nothing.  I was thankful that I didn't have to play, because that way I could just soak in the experience without feeling super nervous.  It was another truly celestial experience.  When an apostle of the Lord says, "I'd like to teach you from the scriptures," you know it's gonna be good.  He taught us, verse by verse, in Doctrine and Covenants 31 and some other verses in the Bible that I don't remember off the top of my head.  I could listen to Elder Nelson teach us from the scriptures all day.  It's amazing the things that he learns and sees in the scriptures.

It was also special to see so many of my friends from the mission.  I saw Hermana Bernel, Hermana Alonso, Hermana McNeil, Hermana Greer, the Biggs, Elder Dower, Elder Johnson, Hermana Núñez, and others.  It was so wonderful to see them, and visit with them a little bit to see how they are doing.  Especially because a lot of them are ending their missions in 2 weeks!  It has totally escaped me to tell you about the Stotts!  They have been in my zone ever since I got to Río Bueno in February.  They are great and I am thankful for all of their help to us.

Today I chose to make the theme "con todo el corazón," or "with all the heart."  I have just been thinking about how I just want to give and give with all my heart as I come to the close of my mission.  I also remembered a sweet Christmas song that I sang in Women's Chorus at BYU...
"What can I give Him?
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd,
I would bring a lamb.
If I were a wise man,
I would do my part.
Yet what I can I give Him...
Give my heart.
I want to give Him all of my heart this week and for all of the weeks!

The last thing...today we went to the Volcán Osorno, the volcano on our mission seal!  It was 3 hours in bus to get there, but completely worth it.  I'm so irritated with myself that I left my camera cord at home.  But I will send pictures when I can.  It is completely gorgeous!  We were on top of the volcano and we could see the neighboring volcanoes and mountains above the clouds.  It was a pretty cloudy day, so for the majority of the ride we couldn't see the volcanoes or anything...but then we drove up above the clouds and it was like being in another world.  Honestly the coolest thing ever.  I'm sending a postcard your way within the next weeks (don't have time to send it today).  It was a hard and steep hike, but incredible.

I love you all so so much!  Thank you for the sweet quotes, pics of Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, recipe, and pic of y'all at the game.  You're so cute.  I miss you and I hope that you are doing really well and not freezing to death! (it sounds like it's been pretty bad in Utah.)

Love and lots of hugs, Hermana Latham

no se desperdicia ningún esfuerzo

                                                                                                                    November 10, 2014

¡Hola hola!

It's so fun to hear all of the news from back home!  It sounds like everybody is doing great!  That is so cool how Abby did the Halloween cookies.  I want to do that next year (in all of my free time as a college student...ha) but anyway it looks super fun!  I also want to go to Dress Barn when I come home.  That dress is so cute.  And the wig too.  I can't believe that Ashton is in Paris!  Wow!  How incredible!  Also it's fun to see what everybody thinks of the angel pictures and my new hair.  I really like it long.  I don't know why I kept it short for so many years.  Oh, and you asked me why I was on so early last week.  We had to get out of the house earlier than usual to get some stuff done with Hermana Wadsworth's visa.  Have y'all officially fallen back an hour?  Because if so I am 2 hours ahead of you now.

I keep forgetting to tell you that I got the Thanksgiving card.  I like the stickers!  I wouldn't worry about the box getting here.  I think that the package address and the letter address are pretty much interchangeable.  I also got a mailer from Hermana Ball's mom!  She sent me some candy, stickers, sticky notes, and glow sticks.  I need to ask Hermana Ball for her mom's email address so I can write her thank you.  It was the cutest thing ever!  She said "just wanted to send some love your way and thank you for being a good companion for Hermana Ball."  Seriously, so adorable.

I love hearing about your Primary program!  Ours is on the 23rd and I'm playing the piano.  I haven't been able to practice with the Primary kids yet because for the past few weeks we have been without a piano, and this week when we had a piano, they cut the power in La Unión all day on Sunday.  So next week I will practice with them.  I don't remember what all of the songs are that they need me to play, but one is "La familia es de Dios," or "The Family is of God."  (Your favorite one!)

This has been a really great week.  Hermana Wadsworth and I have felt so happy!  After a few hard weeks with the contacts and the investigators, this week we found some promising new investigators and went to visit some old investigators who are rekindling their interest in the gospel.  We have been teaching a college student English, and we had once with her and her parents and shared a little bit with them.  Today we have another appointment and we are excited to get to share more with them!  We also met an older Catholic lady and shared with her a little bit of the Plan of Salvation.  Then we proceeded to have one of the funniest experiences of my mission...we invited her to be baptized, and when she got kind of frazzled, we told her about how it was a long-term goal and that she could pray to know if it was what God wanted her to do.  (This is something we typically do.)  But then she told us she was going outside to check on her chickens....and she brought in a bag full of fresh eggs for us!  I have never been given farm-fresh eggs.  So we are thinking she is probably not that interested.  But we also had a great contact yesterday and shared our testimonies of how the Book of Mormon is a treasure that we can use as a companion to the Bible.

Yesterday, four of the less actives we have been teaching came to church!  One of them is about our age and she just had a baby, so we taught her about baby blessings and she brought her son to receive his blessing.  It was so lovely!  Also, a recent convert got the priesthood yesterday.  What a great Sunday.

We had district meeting on Tuesday and zone conference on Thursday, and I learned so much!

In district meeting we talked about how "no se desperdicia ningún esfuerzo."  I'm not sure the exact translation of this (it's the last principle of Chapter 9 in Preach My Gospel).  But it means that no effort goes in vain.  I had spent the last few weeks praying that we would be able to help someone, and feeling like maybe we weren't fulfilling our purpose as missionaries.  But this principle really taught me that the Lord knows how He needs us to help people.  And if we are living righteously and striving to serve, than every one of our efforts makes a difference to someone.  I know this is a true principle for everything, not even just missionary work.  Kindness, patience, diligence, obedience, and all of the other Christlike attributes or actions are never in vain.

At zone conference I learned something very important.  I have always thought that the central word of this work and of this gospel is "love."  Everything, when it comes down to it, centers on love.  Our love for the Lord, and our love for everyone else.  But I learned that this work and this gospel center on Christ.  Which is not to say that it doesn't center on love...but rather to say that Christ is love.  He is the one who teaches us how to love.

The center of the gospel is love.
The center of the gospel is Christ.
Christ is love.

I am so thankful for my Savior's example for me as I strive to learn how to love each day of my life.  If you haven't yet, go on www.lds.org and read President Monson's talk "Ponder the Path of Thy Feet."  It is wonderful.  Here is the link to Pres. Monson's talk:  https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/10/ponder-the-path-of-thy-feet?lang=eng&cid=email-shared

I hope that you all have a wonderful week!  We are excited for this week....especially to meet Elder Nelson on Wednesday!

I love you all so very much!

Abrazos, Hermana Latham