Monday, August 29, 2016

Week 13: Laura's Wedding/Elder Packer's Visit

                             Decorations We Helped Make for Laura and Brian's Wedding

In the beginning of the week we had appointments with 3 of our investigators that have a lot of potential.  Unfortunately all of them fell through. When that happens we have lists of old investigators that we can try to visit or future investigators that we have contacted in the streets. Or we visit less active members. There are times when I  don´t feel very productive if nobody is home or if everybody is busy. Then we helped Laura make cakes and other sweets for her wedding. We peeled a ton of potatoes and made the center decorations for the tables.

On Thursday we had our mission conference with Elder Allan F. Packer of the First Quorum of the Seventy. He and his wife spoke about obedience and stressed the importance of focusing on the temple more with investigators. I was sitting in the front row so he called me and my companion up during the conference with a pair of Elders for an example which was scary. Afterwards was the interview and it was in English (Yay!). While Î was waiting I talked with Hermana Packer and she was really nice. In the interview he just get to know me a little and then asked what I learned from the conference and if I was worthy of a temple recommend. He said to thank my family for their support,  so "Thank you" from Elder Packer! 
     He then said that this mission is the best use of my time right now and that what I learn in the mission will help me be a lifelong missionary and better person, spouse, and mother. He also said that I won't meet my most important "investigators" on the mission because they are my future children. Pretty cool!  The whole interview was about 10 minutes. Dad,  I was able to ask him about Boyd Tuttle and have that little connection with him.

 On Friday was the wedding of Laura and Brian Fernandez.  All the family and a few members showed up (everybody in jeans). We all just went in a little room and a lady came in and gave a little speech about unity. She then had them sign a paper and they were married. It was really casual. Afterwards was a little reception . 
Brian and Laura Fernandez Family

Brian and Laura Wedding Reception

     The coolest part was the next day at the baptism. The Èlders and Sister Abate Daga and I practiced a special musical number.  Laura was crying the whole time.  It was pretty powerful. The Spirit was really strong during the baptisms and gave me more motivation to work hard to find people that are prepared to hear the gospel.  Tobias, the 9 year old son, said that he wanted to serve a mission. That was really sweet. He had invited one of his friends to the baptism and the friend said that  he wanted to be baptized too. We have made plans to start teaching him as well.
Baptism of Brian, Laura, and Tobias Fernandez

Notes:  Òkay Î got the bad computer again so the exclamation point doesn´t work and there is a lot of weird marks. Sorry. Î loved your story mom about the kids fishing.  Î was laughing out loud and got weird looks from the Êlder sitting next to me. haha thank you. ^Thank you for your idea about the rice sock thing Ì am going to make one of those for my sore neck and shoulders!

^Thank you dad Î love this photo. [taken of the kids on the First day of school.]   Îs ^Coleman still growing  ^JJ is gorgeous!

Flashback: These were some of my friends from the MTC. (taken in June)

Times up but Î love you. Î love you guys so much!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Week 12: ."Feeling a Little More Confident" (End of 1st Transfer)

 It has been one transfer (6 weeks) since I left the MTC. This week I felt much better and I can understand the majority of the Spanish I hear. I am feeling more and more confident with my Spanish and am getting to know the members more.

We had a Relief Society activity from this week with the best turnout yet since I´ve been in San Vicente. We were making decorations for Laura´s wedding. She is the second one from the left and is really amazing! She is a friend of Noemi.  Laura, her husband, and her 9 yr old son are getting baptized on Saturday! They were just living together and were never married so in order to be baptized they are getting married on Friday. They live in our area, but the Elders teach them since the father is more comfortable with them. Laura feeds us every week and asks us questions about the lessons and so we have been teaching her too. They are a family that is truly ready for the gospel and have accepted it whole-heartedly. They are so excited to be baptized. This week we will be doing lots of service helping Laura prepare the food and decorations for the wedding. 

 Here is the Familia Campagna: Noemi, Claudio, and their son Gonzi. They were baptized 8 months and are super amazing. They feed us once a week and Noemi comes to lessons with us 2 or more times a week. I love them so much!

Here is the "pench!" (apartment)  We are super safe and the gate opens by remote control, so I feel pretty cool. 

 We have another room that is the same size as the bedroom for our laundry, bikes, shoes, and suitcases. ​

This is Edith and her family. They feed us often, and... They actually have paint on their walls!  Edith is really sweet and always makes great comments when we teach Gospel Principles which I appreciate so much.

Elder Allan F. Packer

We are very excited that this week Elder Allan F. Packer of the Quorum of the Seventy is coming to visit our mission. He will be speaking to all 180 missionaries in the mission, and then will be interviewing 12 missionaries. President Calquin asked me to be one of the missionaries who will be interviewed. I am nervous but grateful at the same time. (My companion is jealous.)  

Times up. Love you!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Week 11:Sometimes not understanding is a blessing in disguise!

Yesterday after church I was feeling stressed  that I couldn´t speak better Spanish and understand more, and then on the way home,a man came up to us and started yelling and pointing his finger at us when he found out we were Mormons. I understood some words and I knew his tone was mean but I didn´t really know what he was saying. Afterwards my companion was really upset and apparently what he had said was really threatening and vile. I was rather amused by it and wasn´t really bothered. Then later there were some girls in the streets that were talking about terrible things too and all of this I didn´t understand while my companion was struggling to keep it together. Because I didn´t understand, my mind wasn´t burdened and I was able to comfort my companion a little, lift her spirits, and change the subject. So I learned that for now there are still good things about not being fluent in Spanish!

"Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses." (1 Timothy 6:12)

                          [Note from Adam: We found out this week that Audrey's companion, (Hermana Abate Daga,) prior to her mission, won the Miss Cordoba competition in her hometown of Cordoba, Argentina]

On Saturday we had a Capilla Abierta which means "Open Chapel." 35 missionaries all got together and invited people to come have a tour of the church and watch church videos. Then in the afternoon, my companion and I were tour guides and helped people learn about the basic doctrines of the Church. It was great and I got to know some other sisters and elders more.  (Dad, I talked to Hermana Shepard who was Sister Small´s companion and she was really great. She told me to just be patient with the language and that I am still in my first transfer. (Which is true but it seems like I've been in the field much longer!) She said it just takes time and told me to read the Book of Mormon in Spanish every day. So I am trying it and will try to be more patient with my weaknesses.

The food is all pretty good. There are lots of pastas, bread, meat, soups, rice and chicken, pizza. None of it is very healthy and there is a lot of fried food, but we eat a lot of fruit in the pench. ["Pench" is an anglicized form of "pension," the regional word for apartment.] 
     I am learning to respectfully say no to second helpings at lunch and then not eat very much for dinner. They never give us dessert, maybe just an orange- the members are all pretty poor but still feed us a lot of food. I´ll send pictures of the pench next week and try to take more during the week.

Staying Positive, Even When Things are Hard!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Week 10: Hardships: "Salvation is not a 'Cheap' Experience"

                                                    Hermana Czappa. I adore her!

     Time here is so weird. The days go by so slow and yet looking back the week is already gone and it is time to go to church again! I am surprised that it is already August. This week, we had been looking forward to fasting all week, but I somehow forgot about testimony meeting. In the meeting, I decided I wasn´t going to bear my testimony but that I would next month once my Spanish was better. Then throughout the meeting all three of the other missionaries shared their testimonies and I didn´t want to be the odd one out, so I got up there and bore a simple testimony that wasn´t planned. I felt the Spirit very strong as I did and I loved seeing my companion´s face as I was up there. Her expression was cheering me on and encouraging me and I felt so much love for her. A few people said they could understand me and I was just glad that I did it. 

     My companion is seriously great and I feel grateful to be with her. She is very loving and helpful and I feel good that I can understand most of the things she says now without a dictionary. My ability to understand more is definitely improving, but to me it seems like my speaking is coming slower. My district leader is Elder Perkins is from Arizona and has been in the field 7 months. He can speak really well. He said I just need to study hard, forget English and my old life, learn to love Spanish and then open my mouth and talk a lot for practice. I do study when I can (my language study was taken three times this week because we had other activities or meetings we had to go to :( )But right now I don´t really understand how to forget English. I am not yet to the point of loving Spanish and I pray often that I may learn to love it more and want to learn it more because I was called to preach the gospel in the Spanish language!

     This week we didn´t have very much success. 6 lessons fell through so we only taught 3! And none of our less active members or investigators came to church. One cool thing for me was yesterday when we visited a less active who was sick. She wanted a priesthood blessing of health so we called over the Elders who are also in our area. Elder Perkins and Elder Torres came, whose ages are 19 and 18. Elder Torres is from Chile and entered the field the same day as me and knows English really well. I knew him from the MTC. I loved seeing them give her a blessing with power and with the Spirit. It strengthened my testimony of the priesthood and was cool for me. They are so young and yet they have dedicated their lives to the Lord and can bless many lives.

     One tender mercy was that this week I had exchanges with the Sister Training leaders so for a day and night I went to Adrogue by bus and train and was companions with Hna. Czappa who has been out over a year and is from Wisconsin. I had exchanges with her my first week in the field too but I just didn´t have time to write about it. It is always helpful because she can answer my questions about the language in English. She also just has a lot of good tips and has already served in my area of San Vicente. She said I have improved a lot from the first week. That was comforting because sometimes I wonder if I'm actually learning.  I've attached a 
photo with Hermana Czappa. I adore her! y mi compi! (and my companion!)

     Mom, I liked what you said about growing pains. It reminds me about the talk from President Holland ( also a video on YouTube) called "Missionary work and the Atonement." He said more or less that things in life that are worthwhile are never easy, but that it is necessary for us to go through hard times to more fully understand the pain that Christ went through. This life can´t be all good and easy because salvation is not a cheap experience.

Responding to your question about dogs: No, I haven´t been attacked by any dogs, but one dog bit a hole in my companion´s skirt!

I want to see pictures of the kitchen! Wow that seems really fast for the kitchen to be done already. I feel bad as I eat in little concrete homes with aluminum roofs with no paint on the walls or decorations. Carpet isn´t a thing here. Our old kitchen would be heaven to them and yet we remodeled it because it was too small! We are just so blessed.


Hermana McBride

Monday, August 1, 2016

Week 9- "Learning to Love the Scriptures"

It was a faith-building week. In my studies I have felt the Lord´s love for me as I came across D&C 58:2-4, 27-28 which became my scripture for the week. I realized that even though I can´t do a lot of things, I can have a positive attitude and be obedient and work hard. This is the hardest thing in my life so far and it definitely makes me use every bit of faith and hope for the future that I can muster. I am learning to love the scriptures. 

I always pictured the Savior walking down dusty roads, and  I'd take that any day over this! 

Beautiful and green with very modest residences

                Hermana Abate Daga is my trainer, or my "Mommy." I'm her "Baby," or trainee. 

    This week, my love for the people here has grown. Even though I can´t understand everything people say, they are so passionate and animated when they speak. Everybody always greets each other with a hug and kiss on the cheek. My companion thinks us Americans are "cold" for not doing that. They also drink "Mate Cocido" all the time, which is just a kind of herbal tea. There is also "Mate" [a different version] which is popular too.  They drink it out of the "Goia," but we as missionaries can´t have that. It's true everybody just passes the cup around the room with the same metal straw. I usually have 3-4 cups a day because every house we go to offers us some.  

 Everyone Drinks an herbal beverage called "Mate"

    I am enjoying getting to know the members of our ward better. This week my companion gave me more responsibility and had me doing the planning every night.  I am in charge of the map and am trying to lead the way more so I can learn the area better. We went to some new parts of the town to see some members and an investigator out of the area. It was really beautiful. I wish I could take more pictures, but my companion gets so anxious when I take out my camera. She says I am going to get robbed. I feel pretty safe in San Vicente but still I only can take a picture when no one is around. 
    We didn't have much success this week. Our appointments keep falling through or no one answers their doors.  But fear not,  all is well! 

Times up! I love you all!