Thank you so much for looking up all of that BYU information for me. I am going to talk to my mission president so that I can get my ecclesiastical endorsement. I wasn't sure if I could go back earlier than when I deferred to, but if it's possible, I'd really like to head out in June so that I can get back into college life! I was thinking that it would be awesome to work at the MTC, and then I thought, well, maybe I can just go for summer then. I want to get everything worked out with my ecclesiastical endorsement and stuff, but I may just wait to register for classes until I'm at home. I know that a summer semester is 7 credits usually, and so I'm thinking of taking a math class and a Spanish class. But I don't know if there is a way for me to sign up for a more advanced Spanish class since I'm pretty fluent....I'd like to take a test or something so that I can get going at the level I'm at and not have to take a 100 level class. Oh, and Tricia and I have been writing each other and she told me that she would love to be roommates! So I asked her about the housing situation because I figure it's easier for her to access that.
I am so proud of Abby and Benjamin! They are really excelling! I hope that Abby can go to GHP. That would just be the coolest thing ever. Do they still do it in Valdosta? I'm also so excited for you to read the scriptures every day! We tell all of our investigators that the Book of Mormon is their spirit's favorite breakfast (or lunch or dinner, whenever they read is awesome hahaha). I totally agree with what the high councilman said about being active in the Church versus in the gospel. I think a lot of the time we take the gospel for granted and get in the habit of just going to church every Sunday because we know that we should, but we are not focused on the reasons why. My Book of Mormon teacher compared the difference between these two with anything that uses electricity, for example, a toaster. The church is the toaster. But the gospel is the electricity. Without the electricity, the toaster is nothing. There are lots of churches, but only our church has the fulness of the gospel!
Hermana Brown and I had a great week! I learned about relying on the Spirit. On Monday I was having a hard day. We had a million things to do and not enough time. I renewed my visa, which took a million years waiting in the Registro Civil (basically DMV or DDS type thing). So we ran out of time to plan for the two lessons we had that night. And I didn't have the time to clean the bathroom. And I felt frustrated with my companion. So I just did not know how I was going to be able to do these lessons! (Hermana Brown does not speak much Spanish, so I carry more weight than I'm used to in our lessons.) But I just kept praying in my heart that Heavenly Father would help to calm my anxiety, that I might know what to say and how to teach. The lessons went fantastic! I felt really calm, and the Spirit helped me know what to say, what questions to ask, how to include Hermana Brown, etc. The family we visited (Johnny and Guisela) are starting to progress, little by little! We are excited! We are also teaching Hermana Obeso English! It is so fun. She is so sweet and adorable, and she just REALLY wants to learn English.
We also had another cool experience where we taught some German people this week. We had gone by a member family's home to invite them to come to ward council and start working on their family history, and when we got there, they introduced us to their German friends who were visiting. One of the German boys is half Chilean (his dad is German, his mom is Chilean), so he spoke Spanish. But the other German boy didn't speak any Spanish. The poor guy! He had a really hard time in the lesson! But the family had a German Book of Mormon, and so we introduced the Book of Mormon to them and invited them to seek out missionaries when they go back home to Germany. The boy who didn't speak any Spanish actually seemed really interested, so we are hoping he will look up the missionaries! That day we had almost forgotten a copy of the Book of Mormon, so we went back home to grab one...and I also just happened to have a Restoration pamphlet in English in my backpack. So we could give them a Book or Mormon in Spanish and a pamphlet in English (that the other boy would understand better than the Spanish one). It was cool and I was glad that we had listened to the Spirit.
Yesterday in church we had some great lessons! In Gospel Principles we talked about agency, and I liked how clear the book was when it said, "Dios nos ama. Satanás no nos ama." God loves us. Satan doesn't love us. It seemed so clear to me, especially this week as I have been striving to learn about and feel more of God's love in my life. Then, in Relief Society, the lesson manual said, "Dios nos ama. Satanás nos odia." God loves us. Satan hates us. It seemed even clearer! It was no coincidence to me that in two classes in a row, I learned exactly the same lesson. I know that God loves us. Whenever we have doubts about that, we can just look around us at all of the marvelous blessings that He provides to us. All He wants is to bless us and let us have the blessings that He has!
Hermana Brown and I are so excited for this transfer. I want it to be my best transfer yet! We are praying, and we are focusing, on one specific desire--to help a family get baptized. It is something that I have wanted to see for my whole mission. I had somewhat decided that I wasn't going to see it, didn't deserve it, etc. But Hermana Brown reminded me...even if I really didn't deserve it...Jesus deserves it. And this is His work. We are here to work in His vineyard! I am so thankful for my opportunity to have six more weeks to serve as a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
While helping another hermana on the day of transfers, we took what we thought was our bus...and it didn't have a circular route, so it dropped us off on the other side of Osorno in a little town called Rahue
So on the BYU thing...I would love it if you could change my enrollment status. I just think that getting started in the summer would help me to get back used to college before totally taking on a new semester. Also I think I will have more possibilities for work that way. I talked to President Obeso and he can't do my ecclesiastical endorsement until you have signed me up for classes. I'm not exactly sure what classes I want to take yet! But if you can just sign me up for some, I think that will give me a better chance of getting a spot in the summer term. I really don't know what level Spanish class I should take, so would you just sign me up for a 100 level Spanish class when the sign-ups come around? Then when I come home I can call the Spanish department and figure it out. Also, will you sign me up for a math class called Math 290? I think that's the one I want to take if I remember right. It should be something about mathematical proofs.
As far as my release appointment goes...oh, man! That is gonna be such an emotional day for me! And for all of us! Hermana Beecroft still hasn't given me the flight info but she told me that she emailed it to you. She told me roughly that the flights from Santiago to Atlanta usually leave here around 10 at night Chile time and then get there to Atlanta around 5 or 5:30 in the morning. I keep trying to figure out in my brain what I want to do on that first day at home and I just can't really fathom what that is going to be like. I'm just really thankful that my first Sunday at home will be a fast Sunday so I won't have to speak for another week. But it would probably be better, like you said, for me to rest some before I meet with the stake president. I don't know how it works to still be a missionary while I'm at home, but I think as long as I'm with you it'll be okay because you can be my companion for the day. Oh, how weird. I truly am excited to come home, but I also just feel a deep sadness that this is ending. I love this mission. Oh, man. But anyway, yeah, it will probably be better to do it later in the day if possible. On that day I want to watch Frozen with you guys, I want to eat American food, and I want to buy new shoes. But I'll think about it some more and give you more details later on.
This was a GLORIOUS week of missionary work! We literally had a week full of amazing days. We found so many new people to teach! And when I was thinking about what would be the theme of the email this week, I just decided on "Jesús es mi luz" because Jesus is truly the light that we share and reflect! I don't remember if that has been the theme before, but anyway. It is the name for "The Lord is My Light" in Spanish, and there are many members here in this ward who LOVE the song and always want to sing it when we visit. :)
On Monday we taught Hermana Obeso some more English.
Then on Tuesday we found a new investigator, PXXX. Her mother recently died, so we talked about the Plan of Salvation, and she really understood, and felt the Spirit. It was beautiful.
On Wednesday, we had to help out another hermana with some errands she needed to do in Osorno before she got transferred to her new area. She stopped in Osorno between her two areas, so she needed a lot of help. We did her whole visa process with her, and then helped her organize her suitcases and her ticket to get to her new area. It was exhausting. And we took the wrong bus. So I sent pictures... We learned a lot of patience, and also thanked Heavenly Father for putting us in her path so that we could help her.
being silly on the bus and after
On Thursday, we taught an investigator, BXXX, about the Book of Mormon partially in English and partially in Spanish. We're still not positive is she is interested in the message or only in the English, but it was fun. Then we found a new investigator, our neighbor, Karen. She lives with a less active member of the Church, so her kids know a lot about Primary and everything through their grandparents. They seemed really interested! We're hoping the gospel will bless them to change their lives for the better! Then we taught another lesson. It was an incredible day.
On Friday, we had a SUPER Family Home Evening with JXXX, GXXX, and their 5 kids! We had been planning for it throughout the week, and everything turned out. Hermana Brown made a little Plan of Salvation diagram that we taught the lesson with, and the bishop, the ward mission leader, and his wife helped us to answer our investigators' questions. They felt a lot more comfortable with the Church because they could see normal Chilean Mormons. We played a game and had snacks after...and they all got so into talking to each other that we left them talking with the members! (I love it when they feel that comfortable!) On that same day we also taught another neighbor who seems interested.
Then on Saturday night, we saw a family stacking their firewood into their shed and offered to help them. They seemed skeptical at first. But they took us up on it, so we ran home, changed clothes, and came back to help. After we helped, we shared a little bit with them about our Church and they accepted a pamphlet and a return visit! It was amazing!
On Sunday, JXXX, GXXX, and the kids all came to church, and another less active we visited also came. YAY! We also taught a lesson about family history to a less active lady, and the Spirit there was so incredible. I have such a huge testimony and love for family history. When I come home I want to get busy on that!
So what is the common theme between all of these stories? The reason that we do it all is because we love our Savior and we know that His light will bless the people of Osorno, Chile. We do it because He has taught us to love more as He loves...and we truly do. I love this ward. I love these people. I love Chile! There could not be a better summer to share the gospel.
I love you all so so so much! I hope that you really have enjoyed your day off from school! I hope that you all can search for the ways that the Lord is your light every single day.
It has been a great week! I seriously can't BELIEVE that we are officially in 2015. What. That means I have to actually think about real life...hahahaha. But this week I thought about it a little bit and I wanted to ask you to look up some things for me. 1) Is it possible for me to go to a summer term at BYU, or do I have to wait until fall because that is when I deferred to? 2) If I can go to a summer term, what is the date that I have to sign up for classes? 3) Is there availability for me to teach Spanish at the MTC in Provo? Everyone is asking me things like, Can you believe you are ending your mission? or Are you getting excited to go home? We have transfers next week and it will be my last transfer. And our ward is planning a ward summer activity, which will be on February 21. One of the senior missionaries asked me if that was my last Saturday (and it is). What? There are plans being made already for the last Saturday I will be here!! It is definitely bittersweet. I am excited to come and see all the people who I love and miss so much, and to eat American food, and wear cute shoes, and then to start my real life in college or working or dating or what not. But I am sad that this special time for me to be a sister missionary is coming to its end. Some days I think I want to be a sister missionary forever! But then I miss you guys and I realize that it wouldn't work so well for me, and I could never get married or become a physics teacher. Or a Spanish teacher. hahaha...
Thank you for sending all of the pictures. You guys look great! I am so happy for Brynne to be home! I will send pictures next week. We celebrated New Year in our house. Hermana Wadsworth made a cake, and Hermana Brown & I bought some decorations...with crazy hats, masks, Hawaiian leis, soundmakers, and confetti. It was a super bag of decorations and it was so much fun! On the first day of the New Year we had some sweet little miracles with the contacts we made and the members we got to meet. We got really excited for the New Year and the new opportunities it brings to us. Throughout the week, we also found various new people to teach and we met with a lot of members and established a better relationship with them. The members are starting to open up to us more! We are going to start with a new mamita tomorrow (our old one couldn't be our mamita for summer vacation). She is really great and she loves us as much as we love her!
Our mission is literally so full of cows...hahaha!
But what with the little miracles and other spiritual moments throughout the week, I couldn't help but think of the analogy that President Uchtdorf gave in his talk in the Women's Conference...that Heavenly Father is sending down a constant rain of blessings, and if we cover ourselves by an umbrella of doubt and fear, we cannot feel them. All that we must do is choose to take down the umbrella and then we will feel and recognize the rain that we did not notice before. Link to the talk Melanie is referring to:https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/10/living-the-gospel-joyful?lang=eng&cid=email-shared. Today I was reading in Ether 9, Verse 35 And it came to pass that when they had humbled themselves sufficiently before the Lord he did send rain upon the face of the earth; and the last verse says that after the people were humble, the Lord sent the rain. Él envió la lluvia, He sent the rain. He always is sending the rain. But we just need to choose to feel it...we need to be humble enough to throw away our fear and doubt. Because even in the driest of moments, we will always be able to find the rain of our Heavenly Father's blessings. I know that He is there if we just reach out to find Him! This is really related to the spiritual thought that you shared with me, Mama. Agency is such an important gift...and we can use it to feel our Heavenly Father's love if we so choose.
I had my last interview before my final interview with the mission president this week. It was the shortest interview ever. He just thanked me for what I was doing, told me not to worry because I was being a good missionary even if I didn't think I was sometimes, and then made me promise to him that I would strive to be happy every day of the rest of my mission. Of course, this entire interview was in Spanish. But what he said in English was, We have a deal? hahaha...so he told Hermana Brown about the deal I made with him and she promised that she would help me be happy even if there are tough moments.
The weather here is kind of crazy. The past two days were SO sunny. The sun is so strong you can actually feel it burning your skin. Ouch. But it is also breezy so we enjoy it. But today it is chilly and has been sprinkling off and on all day. But I officially don't need pantyhose anymore! Which is really nice.
It was a REALLY hot Saturday, so we look kind of gross. lol
I love you all and I hope you have a wonderful week! I hope Abby and Benjamin have a good first week of the semester!
Displaying the temple calendar she received for Christmas :)
It was so nice to see you guys and hear your sweet voices this week! I sincerely cannot believe that Benjamin is 5'10''. I didn't think that was possible for a person in our family! What. But thank you also for all of the pictures you sent of the Christmas decorations and of everybody. Nana & Buster look really cute, and so do Uncle Jeff and Rose. I can't believe that Brynne is going home on Wednesday! Now that everyone is going home it seems more real to me. Because honestly, some days I just feel like I've been a missionary forever and the things that I remember from before were just a dream. I actually heard from Ashton, Tricia, and Ashley for Christmas, so that was really nice. I also heard from Sis. Henley, Uncle Chris, Uncle Jeff, Nana & Buster, and Aunt Cheryl. This week I also got a little package from Nana & Buster and a Christmas card from Grandma. Did you guys get my postcard?
Hermana Brown is officially better! Last week on Tuesday we stayed in the house doing her breathing treatments in hopes that that way she would be better for Christmas. And it worked! Yay! I forgot to tell you guys when I talked to you that we had a really fun Christmas morning! We made pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausage, and fruit salad. It was almost like a regular Christmas! It was really fun. I'm so thankful that we had other missionaries to share Christmas with; that way it was a lot more fun. After we talked to you guys we went to visit the other senior missionaries. I really enjoyed American food...cheese ball, fudge, pecan sandies, root beer floats, etc. So fun.
Since Hermana Brown has been better, we have been working to see which ways we can best serve. We have met a few more less actives, visited some elderly people in our ward, and found a new family to teach! So we have a lot of hope for these coming weeks. Once all of the New Year festivities are over, we will really be able to get working.
Sorry my report is somewhat boring this week. We are working hard, and we will have some good stories soon!
I can't believe that this year has come to an end. Otro año ha pasado. Another year has passed. The Chile year is officially over. When 2014 started, I was so excited just to be able to give everything to missionary work for the entire year! Now I can't help but feel unsure if I have given enough. But I do know that I have given, and that I have sought to love without reserve. I have no idea what 2015 will bring for me, but I am excited to press forward with faith as I finish this mission and begin my new life. Since we can't proselyte on New Year's Eve or New Year's without fixed appointments, we made some plans with our roommates for foods to make and bought some funny hats & noisemakers to celebrate the New Year together. I hope you all have a wonderful New Year, and that you can look forward with joy to 2015!
¡Feliz Navidad! ¡FELIZ NAVIDAD! ¡Feliz Navidad, prospero año y felicidad!
I can't believe that Christmas is actually here! We have been having so much fun getting ready for it here in Chile. I did actually get Abby's music to work, and all four of us in the house have been enjoying it SO MUCH, so I want to send her a GINORMOUS THANK YOU! Even though I am far away and it doesn't quite feel like Christmas, the music really helps me to make it seem real. Also, you mentioned seeing part of the concert. The Beecrofts (one of the senior couples here in Osorno) videoed (videod? video-ed? lol) parts of it and they told us to tell our parents to look them up on Facebook. Bruce Beecroft and Jill Beecroft. They said they both took different pictures and videos. We love the Beecrofts. When Hermana Brown is feeling kind of down, she really likes to talk to Hermana Beecroft because she is so sweet. We are going over to their house on Christmas to use their computer to talk to you guys.
This week has been kind of complicated. We had a ton of rehearsals for the choir concerts, and Hermana Brown has been dealing with bronchitis. Since we live with the mission nurse, she pretty much sentenced us to be inside our house so she could rest when there weren't rehearsals. So it's been a little rough...we haven't been able to keep meeting more people and sharing the message. Our ward is not super welcoming. The members are very needy. We are still trying to figure out how we can best help them. But long story short, they have not invited us to do things with them for Christmas or Christmas Eve. So we are very thankful that the Beecrofts invited us over!
The choir was so wonderful. It was a lot of rehearsals, but it was so much fun to sing in the plaza on Friday, then go to a little town called Rio Negro on Saturday and sing in the plaza there, and do a concert in the stake center on Sunday. The brother who organized the choir was in my other ward when I was in Osorno last time, and so he knew a little bit about my musical background and asked me to help sing soprano. He even asked me to participate in an octet of "The Lord's Prayer" as a soprano. But then on Sunday when it came time for the concert, the other soprano was sick and couldn't come...so it was my turn to be the only soprano. I had practiced, but I was still pretty nervous for the high A flat to come out pretty. Well...it turned out really well!! I had so many people come up to congratulate me afterwards. They were all shocked at my voice. I have to say, I was somewhat shocked myself. I'm so used to being an alto. But it was such a fun way for me to stretch my talent. The Beecrofts got a video of it. It was really fun, too, because at the different choir events I saw so many people who I have served and loved in the past year. Since 4 out of my 5 areas have been within a one hour radius, I see people I know all the time. It makes me feel like I really have done a good job on this mission when people are excited to see me and tell me that they still remember when I was in their ward/branch. We also got to get to know the sisters in our zone really well with all the rehearsals!
We've had some fun Christmas activities as a mission, too. We had a devotional and a dinner with President and Hermana Obeso on Friday, and it was really nice. They gave us all some Christmas candy and we sang some Christmas carols together. Then today we got together with the hermanas from three zones and decorated brownies, cupcakes and cookies and watched Home Alone. It was really fun.
This Christmas is so crazy for me because it means that I only have 2 months left of my mission. WHAT? But I think you are right that the Lord needs me to have my mind be clear for the mission. Because every time I want to pray about something important in my life, I get the feeling that I just need to wait; that I can pray about those things and figure them out when I go home. So I am striving to give everything I can to help here! I know that there are people here who need my love and service. And I know that it is going to get better. I want to help the ward, find investigators, and help Hermana Brown with her Spanish. She's been really frustrated because she can hardly understand anything. I am praying a lot for her!
This year I have not made the time to send Christmas cards and presents to everyone :( But I really do hope that you all have a wonderful Christmas! I hope that you can remember and feel that the light of Christmas is the light of Christ, and that He is the light and hope of the world. The joy we feel in our families, in our homes, and at this sacred time of year is all thanks to His love for us. I hope that we can all let that love fill us up a little more this year, so that we can offer the love to others.