Monday, January 30, 2017

Week 35: Haircut- Lesson Learned!/ Ping Pong Champ!

This week was better than the last. Monday was a much needed peaceful P-day. Since we have a washing machine we had about an hour more that we usually would have spent washing clothes by hand.
 On Tuesday, we usually have District meeting an hour away in San Miguel de Monte. We got on the train and noticed that the Elders from Cañuelas weren't on with us. So we called them and it turned our that there wasn't District meeting this week because of the worldwide missionary broadcast on Wednesday. So we had no other option than to get off at the first stop and walk along the train tracks 30 minutes back to the station of Cañuelas. In the afternoon I got my haircut, and in prosylyting the highlight was that we found a family who accepted us in and we taught a lesson. Now have 4 new investigators! 
  Wednesday in the morning we had an appointment with a reference who lived in our area who the Elders contacted. It was a nice lady named Mercedes who is the mom of two young kids. She and her husband live in a really big nice house and it was such a great experience to teach her! The majority of the people who accept the invitation to listen to us are lower class and don't have very much education. 
     To go into her "mansion" of a home to teach someone who is well-educated was a different experience but I loved it! She really understood what we taught and said a perfect closing prayer after just a brief explanation of how to pray. A member of the branch here said that we should focus our efforts a little more on the upper class neighborhoods because that is where the leaders of the church will come from. Now I have a little more motivation to do just that! I really hope that she progresses!  Afterwards we rushed to the train station. We had to travel more than an hour to the stake center in Monte Grande to watch the Missionary Broadcast. 
     To stay with my companion, I watched it in Spanish and could understand everything! I felt uplifted and learned a lot from the words spoken.. We were all so excited when they announced changes to the missionary schedule. We have to wait another week for president to authorize them but I think it will really help lower the stress and fatigue of day. With the new schedule we will have an hour longer p-day and the option of an hour more sleep each night with planning in the morning, along with other changes which make a lot of sense to me. I think it will help make our work more effective. I am so grateful that the leaders of the church aren't afraid to make changes, but instead are always looking and praying for changes they can make to improve. Like what happened in English a few years ago with the Book of Mormon, a new edition came out in Spanish with some words and phrases changed to make a more close, correct translation. On the way home, we made contacts in the train- the perfect place to share the gospel because the people can't go anywhere and are just sitting there waiting. The fact that public transportation is used more here is helpful in this aspect of missionary work.
  Thursday was a rockin' busy day. We taught 4 lessons, 3 with a member present! We were so tired by the end of the day; riding bikes all around the area to our different appointments.
   Friday morning we had interviews with President and I loved what he told me. He said that we need to keep our mind pure from negative thoughts. That we have to remember that people have their agency and that all we can do is invite them and the rest is up to them. If we don't let the dissappointments or the rejection of the days get us down, we will be more happy and enjoy the mission more. He also focused on the importance of our own individual testimony and that even if we don't have many baptisms in the mission, if we have a stronger testimony and knowledge of Jesus Christ and his teachings at the end of our mission that can stand alone, it was a success. I don't know if I explained that very well, but his words made sense in my mind. At night we had the branch game night which went really well! Many of the normal active members didn't come but a lot of less actives and investigators did, so we counted it as a success. I think everyone had fun and understood that the church isn't only serious.
   Saturday Luis ended up having to work so he couldn't get baptized but the Elders had a baptism that we went to.
    Sunday none of our investigators came to church! We were so sad- we invited so many people and a lot of people said they would come. We don't know what happened! In the afternoon we worked on contacting old investigators and for 2 hours nobody would listen to us. But in our last hour, the tender mercies came and we made a few contacts with nice people and finally someone who accepted an appointment to return. 

So this week I went to get my hair cut! The guy who I paid in the shop didn't do a very good job so Hermana Dias fixed it for me! I think that was the first and the last time a man is going to cut my hair! :) I love the cut from my compi and it is so much cooler in the heat!

These handheld fans are our best friends and we use them a lot to cool down!

Our game night that we organized for the branch was so fun and it was a pretty good turnout! (Note the ping pong table- nobody could beat me!) ;) 

Here are examples of a few of the acts of service Hermana Dias did for me this week! She is so sweet- making me breakfasts and dinner when I am in the shower and folding my laundry. Transfers are this upcoming week and we hope to stay together another 6 weeks!

[Responses to other letters] :

Mom, don't apologize that your letters are too long- I love reading your emails! That is so great that you can teach tennis so much and help financially too!

My friend Danielle gave me a bunch of letters prior to my mission that I could read during the tough times!  I have read all but three of the letters in the envelopes and they are awesome! I opened one last week and it made me smile. She put inspiring quotes, pictures of us, and conference talks and it is so great! You should definitely do it for Dean.

Thanks for the pictures and recordings of Dean's performances. I got an email from Deidra! :)

About the Australian Open:   Wow Woohoo Federer!

About the changes in the missionary schedule:  I am really excited about the changes in the missionary schedule and I think having more flexibility and more sleep will help me enjoy the mission even more [in Latin America they can choose to have the missionaries awake at 7:30 and be out working until 10:30pm].  For one more week we have to follow the normal schedule until President Calquin authorizes the changes and chooses which he wants to use that would be best for our mission. I'm anxious and want to know already which schedule he chooses!

Love you guys!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Week 34: Power Outage, Hot Week, Much needed "Pick-me-up" from my Companion

Last Monday, it rained all day and our street flooded! It is still reallllly hot and humid here and it rains about once a week. It should start to cool down in March. The summer is short but intense here. This week was not the best because on Wednesday we didn't have electricity from 5pm-9am.  The pench was really hot and we couldn't sleep very well. Then on Thursday the same thing happened but the electricity came back in the middle of the night. It was so miserable. For the rest of the week we were more tired than usual .On Friday the same thing happened for a few hours. We used candles to see but we couldn't study or plan very well because after awhile our eyes were tired from reading in dim light. On Thursday, Hermana Dias had another dentist appointment that was two hours away. But we made contacts in the train so we only partially lost a day of work. In the afternoon my compi had a fever. She was really weak so we had to return to the pench so she could rest. We were so mad that there wasn't electricity again!

We have 11 investigators but many of them aren't progressing. We are going to discontinue teaching some of them. Currently, we are working more with less-active members (there are so many and it is so sad!) and are in the process of finding new people to teach. Maria is still in the process of quitting smoking but we are hoping to get a baptismal date for her this week. And as of now, Luis is going to be baptized this Saturday! German and Elba are doing great and were our only investigadores that came to church. On Sunday morning there was a parade for the anniversary of Cañuelas or something like that so a lot of people didn't come to church, but they did! We were so proud of them!

Flooded Streets in Cañuelas

As missionaries in a branch, we have to do so much! Every week we rotate with the Elders to teach Gospel Principles. This week we had to teach the youth because the teacher didnt show up. I still get pretty nervous to teach, but I know I am better with this than before! And about about once a month we have to give a talk in Sacrament meeting. We usually have to leave early to pick up less actives or investigators for church, so by the end of the church meeting, we are pretty burnt out. I play half of the hymns in Sacrament meeting and Maria, the 15 year old who I was teaching plays the other two. I am so grateful that I know how to play because it is coming in really handy. We are planning a Game Night for the branch for this Friday and we are so excited! It should be really fun!

So this week I was tired, it was hot, we weren't having success finding new people.  Our investigators didn't want to come to church, and our less active members don't seem to want to improve. I was frustrated a lot and struggling with my confidence, the language, and with my teaching and for a few days. I was struggling to be happy. I thought "I need to enjoy this opportunity I have to serve the Lord as a full time missionary. Why can't I lift myself out of this self-doubt and trust that the Lord has a purpose in sending me here?" I prayed for help but continued feeling the same for a few days. I didn't find a peace until my companion told me to read this talk. I was so grateful for her and for the words written in the talk. I had read it before but had forgotten and the words were so refreshing. I now feel like I can take on another week here in Cañuelas. At the bottom of this message is a portion of it. You guys can apply it to the trials in your lives.

Missionary Work and the Atonement
Jeffrey R. Holland
Anyone who does any kind of missionary work will have occasion to ask, Why is  this so hard? Why doesn’t it go better? Why can’t our success be more rapid?  Why aren’t there more people joining the Church? It is the truth. We believe in  angels. We trust in miracles. Why don’t people just flock to the font? Why isn’t the only risk in missionary work that of pneumonia from being soaking wet all day and all night in the baptismal font?
You will have occasion to ask those questions. have thought about this great  deal. offer this as my personal feeling. am convinced that missionary work is not  easy because salvation is not cheap experience. Salvation never was easy. We are The Church of Jesus Christ, this is the truth, and He is our Great Eternal Head. How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never,ever easy for Him?  It seems to me that missionaries and mission leaders have to spend at least few  moments in Gethsemane. Missionaries and mission leaders have to take at least step  or two toward the summit of Calvary.
For that reason don’t believe missionary work has ever been easy, nor that  conversion is, nor that retention is, nor that continued faithfulness is. believe it is  supposed to require some effort, something from the depths of our soul.
If He could come forward in the night, kneel down, fall on His face,bleed from every pore, and cry, “Abba, Father (Papa), if this cupcan pass, let it pass,” 16  then little wonder that salvation is not whimsical or easy thing for us. If you wonder if there isn’t an easier way, you should remember you are not the first one to ask that.Someone lot greater and lot grander asked long time ago if there wasn’t an easier way.
The Atonement will carry the missionaries perhaps even more importantly than it  will carry the investigators. When you struggle, when you are rejected, when you  are spit upon and cast out and made hiss and byword, you are standing with  the best life this world has ever known, the only pure and perfect life ever lived.You  have reason to stand tall and be grateful that the Living Sonof the Living God  knows all about your sorrows and afflictions. The only way to salvation is through Gethsemane and on to Calvary.The only way to eternity is through Him—the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

P.S.   By the way, I was tearing up seeing what JJ did as a service to you guys. How cute! She is so special.
  [She made the bed and left the following note for Mom & Dad]! 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Week 33: Interesting Meals, Loving Cañuelas!

This week when we were riding bikes through a neighborhood on the way to contact an old investigator, there was a family of 8 or 10 people sitting outside their house talking and usually its a little intimidating to walk up to a lot of people and make a contact but I felt prompted to talk to them so I stopped the bike and began talking with them and they ended up letting us teach a lesson right then and there and we have an appointment to teach on Wednesday again. It was so cool!

A lot of people tell us that Hermana Dias & I look alike. A few people have asked if we are sisters and two times if we are twins! We tell them that, no, we aren't even from the same country... But it is great!  I am still loving being with her! Hna. Dias is really good at crafts too and she made a wall hanging about the Atonement for German, Elba, and Lucas with scriptures hanging. Yesterday was Elba`s birthday so my compi made a cake and we celebrated with all of the family! German and Elba have a baptismal date for the 25 of February after their wedding. I hope to be another transfer here in Cañuelas with Hermana Dias so I can be there!

We taught 11 lessons this week and 7 investigators came to church! There are so many opportunities to teach in this area! I had a talk this week in church and it went pretty well for the one hour I had to prepare since I was assigned late Saturday night.

On Wednesday we were fasting with an investigator Maria del Camen to stop smoking. The challenge was not to eat or smoke for 24 hours. (It is too hot here to not drink water). We were also fasting for a few other investigators too. In the period of 24 hours, we were able to have a lesson or some kind of contact for all of the people we were fasting for! And Maria said that in her fast, she was surrounded at work by people smoking and eating, but that she couldn't smell it.  And she didn't have desires to smoke! She now knows that she can go a day without smoking and feels that God really knows her. She said the experience was marvelous and now she has a testimony of fasting! 

Below are pictures of the food that my compi made during the two days we had lunch in the pench. She is an amazing cook!

          The meat is cow liver (higado) but it was good and I didn't know what I was eating!
  The other day I ate cow tongue (lengue de vaca) and cow blood (morcilla). The tongue and liver taste like whatever sauce it was cooked in and have a different texture than normal meat. 

                                                        Hermana Dias with Elba
                                                    Hermana Diaz, Elba, & I
                     Wall Hanging that Hermana Diaz made for German, Elba, & Lucas

     Most of the people in the picture are investigating the church- and two are already baptized.

Sorry I am out of time but I love you guys!

Letters to Family:

Audrey letter to Dean: Wow- so much good news! Congrats on Region Chorus! Senior year is the best of the high school years. (college is better) I hope you can make it to All-State! I`ll have to watch a recording of your show when I get home. How many lines and songs do you have? And congrats on making it into BYU-I! Do you know anything about which track you will be in or no-it is after the mission right? 

I cannot believe that you are going to turn 18! Then again, I am 20, so it has to be true! I am so excited to find out where is your mission.I believe you'll be starting your mission application soon too, right?

Dad, Thanks for the photos! I am excited to go to the temple. I miss the temple and want to go so bad but it's currently not available for our mission. I'll appreciate it so much when I get a chance to go.

Letter from Trent to Audrey:
Hi Audrey I am sorry that I have not been emailing you very much and I am enjoying seventh grade a lot and it is starting to get much colder, in fact the pond at the college is frozen. If you have not heard Aaron,JJ and I have started taking piano lessons again so their will be 5 piano players when you get home.    

Reply from Audrey to Trent:
How do you like life in the middle school? Is it really different from Bear Creek? Has it snowed yet? Who is your piano teacher?

Letter From J.J. to Audrey:
And I got baprtized ! Sorry I have not been emailing you . Second grade has been a blast and my teacher is pregnant and her baby
is do in February! But she is having a sub for the rest of the year . I can tell champ is missing you because in the fall he just wanted us to 
play with him. Do you still have the frisbee do you play with it? I hope that you like it their. xoxo🌹🌼🌸💮🏵🌺🌻😍👗👜💎

Audrey's Reply to J.J.: Hi JJ! I saw pictures of your baptism and you looked so pretty in the white dress! Did you know that 12 years ago on January 8, 2005 I was baptized too? The same day as you and your birthday! How cool is that? I do still have the Frisbee but there isn't space or time to play with it here. I will take good care of it and bring it home so we can play together! It will be a little cold when I come home, but we can wear coats! What were your favorite parts of the Christmas break? Did the time pass quickly or slowly?