Monday, February 27, 2017

Week 39: Weeklong Exchanges, Transit & Biking Adventures, Insights Gained

So this week was actually really fun! I was nervous to have two more people living with us but now that they are gone it feels weird with just Hermana Dias and I!  Hermana Walker (AZ) and Hermana Menezes (Brazil)  arrived Monday night and helped us organize our map and area book. We divided the area in half and for the whole week I would work in only my half of the area! I got to choose so I got the parts and investigators that I wanted and also use of the bikes for the week. It was so great- I love using bikes because it is so much faster and easier on the feet.

L to R: Hermana Diaz, Hermana Menezes (both from Brazil), Hermana Walker (AZ) & I

 One day I was with Hermana Menezes and the next with Hermana Walker and back and forth the whole week. It was great to learn from how they contacted and taught. We found a lot more people to teach and were able to focus more on our investigators. The mission is really focusing on placing Book of Mormon´s and in these last two weeks I have given out more Libro de Mormon´s than in all of my mission. I love testifying of its truthfulness and inviting people to read it. In the past Zone Conference, we were challenged to read El Libro de Mormon cover to cover and mark all the places that it talks about baptism and repentance. I love reading it in this way and I am learning just how important it is. 

 It was really wonderful. The Sisters were all really nice, good girls with fun personalities who are focused on their missions.  I really love them! It wasn't so bad living with 4- we had fun chatting during lunch and at night. They had their air mattresses so I was happy. I did not want to have to share a bed all week!

On Saturday we had lunch with the Huertas Family and we have to take the train to get to their house. Here was an adventure: On the way back we put two of us on each bike to go faster to catch the train. Hermana Dias and Hermana Walker totally wiped out! We were behind them and saw the whoe thing! They were not hurt but they just laid there on the the ground laughing. Because it was so hot and sweaty the dirt stuck to them pretty good as well. It was pretty funny! 
Probably Shouldn't Try Dos Hermanas per Bike Again...Glad they were OK

Taking the Bikes with us on the Train

Lunch with the Huertas Family

At night we made pizza, played Uno, and ate ice cream for our celebration on our last night together. 

The ice cream flavors here are so good! 

The week went by really fast. It ended on kind of a discouraging note when none of our investigators came to church despite all of our invitations and work. Sometimes that can be so frustrating and I don't know why it is so hard for people to come to church. I don't know if Maria del Carmen and Regina will end up being baptized this transfer. We are working so hard with them but they just aren't progressing very quickly.

Hermana Diaz & Hermana Menezes (both from Brazil)

As a result, Hermana Dias and I were both feeling frustrated last night. As part of my language study I read Alma 3-9 last night  It is about Alma preaching repentance to different pueblos and how he was rejected too. He was spit upon and they tried to put him in jail. The story really helped me. I am here thinking, wow I am blessed! I've never had to deal with that. It also helps to know that we are not alone. I love how in the mission I can apply the scriptures to my life in a special way because I am doing the same work as many of the prophets did- inviting people to come unto Christ and repent. 

Mom: The pants we will be wearing next October apparently are for mosquitos.  There are a ton right now! I always have bites on my legs even when I use OFF. It isn't a problem in the winter. But in September & October it will be getting warmer and starting to become summer. Not sure why we didn't use pants this summer but I'm fine. It is so hot and humid here that I am fine with a nice airy skirt! I heard that the mission will provide the pants and that we don't have to pay for them. I am really tired of my clothes already, but I am trading some with Hna. Dias. Also, Hermana Abate Daga sent me a cute new skirt this week so I am surviving!

Love you all!

To read Sister Walker's entertaining account about this week, click HERE. 

 Hermana Menezes in front of the "Canuelas: Land of Opportunities" Sign

 Unforgettable Week Together!

 Hermana Walker

Hermana Walker is currently companions with my former trainer: Hermana Abate-Daga

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Week 38:Inspiring Conference, Nadya's Passing, Visit from Sister Training Leaders

This week went by fast- we had Zone Conference on Thursday which took up the whole day. There were a lot of presentations from leaders and the president which were all really good and then we ate pizza for lunch and divided into smaller groups  for more classes. My mission President's wife, Hermana Calquin, taught a class for just the Hermanas. (She told us that we would start using pants in September or October of this year, so I´ll have a few months with pants!) Overall the day was really inspiring and it was so great to see and talk to other missionaries. 

Zone Conference

Afterwards I had exchanges with Hermana Shepard. We went together to Cañuelas for Thursday night and Friday. We received a message on Thursday that Nadya, the lady with cancer, died earlier that day.  We were sad to receive the news that it happened so soon.

Together Hermana Shepard and I taught Maria del Carmen. She accepted a baptismal date for March 11. She is going to be a big focus of ours so she can quit smoking. From Wednesday to Thursday 8 other missionaries, 4 other members of her family, and Hermana Diaz and I are going to fast for comfort for Nadya's family and so Maria del Carmen can lose the desire to smoke. If you would like to join in please feel free. 

We also taught a lesson with Mercedes and we all felt the Spirit. Hermana Shepard bore powerful testimony and I invited Mercedes to be baptized. She didn't accept a baptismal date but is going to keep reading and praying. I can understand a little bit of why she is hesitant. She has been Catholic all of her life and all of her family too. Her husband doesn't want to listen to us either so it makes it really hard.
German's Birthday
I loved teaching with Hermana Shepard. She told me that I have improved in my self-confidence and my Spanish a lot since the last time we were together a few months back. That was good to hear! 

Then on Saturday, we had a really good lesson with Regina.She accepted a baptismal date for March 11 too! She is so sweet and we really hope that she can continue to progress!

It finally didnt rain of Sunday so German, Elba, and Lucas all came to church. It was my turn to teach Gospel Principles. Before, I had always taught with my companion, so it was my first time teaching an hour lesson by myself, let alone in Spanish! But I did it and it wasn't so hard! It went well and I am so glad that I did it. It was also German´s birthday so Hermana Dias made a cake and we had a lesson and enjoyed talking.  It is going to be hard to say goodbye to them.

This upcoming week will be different: Two other sisters, Hermana Walker from Arizona and Hermana Menezes from Brazil will be living with us all week. They will be helping us find more people to teach and make more contacts in our area. Since there are more sister missionaries than safe areas in the mission, they travel from one area to the next each week and help strengthen the areas. Every day we will switch and be companions with someone different. It should be interesting!

Love you guys!

I'm so excited to hear news about Dean completing his mission papers! 


Editor's Note:
First the first time this school year, the twins were home from school when Audrey e-mailed, so they got to exchange a few notes during Audrey's hour.

Aaron to Audrey:  Oh this year in Bascket ball in the season I made 26 points but there is still 1 game left. 

Audrey: Wow Aaron thats awesome! That is a lot of points! Let me know how your last game goes! Here are some photos of a spider we found here is Argentina yesterday that I think you might like.

Aaron: the picture of the spider is cool

Audrey: Yeah I hate spiders but the web and the spider was pretty incredible. As long as it doesn't touch me I am good.

JJ to Audrey: Hello
my hair is not to short before I grew it out just for you! a few days ago I watched finding dory so hopefully
it will get more cheap so you can watch it.It has been getting pretty warm here.I love you so much xoxo hugs and kisses.
😅🌺🌸🐕👗💮🐓 p.s we sold our chickens.

Audrey to J.J.:
Ohh I am excited to watch Finding Dory with you! I also want to watch the movie with Moana (I dont remember what it is called. It is really hot here and most of the people here have swimming pools in their back yards to cool off but us as missionaries cant go swimming so it is a little hard! We get around using bikes, buses and trains here so it is different! I havent been in a car for months! How did Valentines Day go? I bought you a really cute gift this week! :) I love you so much! 🐩💙😘

J.J.: Hi again.  poor you. I can see how hot it is there.Time is going so fast I noticed that a few days ago was
the 100th day of school.Where are you in the book of Mormon? I am in Jarom and Aaron is in Enos. 

Audrey: Your Valentiness are so funny JJ! I am in Mosiah 22. 

J.J. I gotta get reading more and I think Moana is called Mona because that is how all the avertisements say it

J.J. Oh okay- I cant watch TV here so I have no idea how it is. Have you watched that movie or any other new movies? Do you like Finding Dory? Is it better that Finding Nemo?

J.J.: I've been watching High School Musical a lot. I like Finding Nemo better because it's not as sad.

Audrey: Oohh I like High School Musical a lot too-- the music is fun to sing. How did Valentines Day go at school? Here my companion gave me a shirt and a belt and a nice note as a gift. 

J.J. Good, all we pretty much got was lolly pops. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Week 37: New Schedule/Singin' in the Rain

 This week we worked a lot trying to comfort and build the faith of German´s family. We are teaching Maria del Carmen, (German´s mom) Maria Elena (Maria del Carmen´s sister, and German, Elba (wife), and Lucas (12 year old son). Cancer was discovered two months ago in Nadya (one of Maria Elena´s daughters) and now it has spread throughout the body and it is only a matter of time before she passes. She is only 32 years old and has two sons ages 11 and 7. They are all so sad and we are all wondering what good will come from this situation. If you could pray for this family (Montenegro family), that would be great!

And yes mom, don't worry-I am healthy. My companion on the other hand has been having problems with her back and with headaches. She says that when I have 13 months in the mission I will be falling apart physically too. I hope not! But talking to other hermanas from the mission, it is true that the physical demands of the mission start to catch up with them as time goes on. I feel really blessed with my health so far on the mission. This week Hna. Dias was a bit stressed to find new investigators and we only found one. It was Saturday evening- our last lesson of the week! It was a tender mercy for sure! Her name is Regina and she is 72 years old, Catholic, and is an old investigator. We have hope that she could be our baptism this transfer! We also taught Mercedes and she is lacking a little faith and said she doesn't think God answers her prayers but is reading and I think we gained a little more of her confidence this week. We are trying to teach her spouse still because she is now going to come to church alone without his support.

This week was the first week with the new schedules and I love it so much! We now get up at 7am, plan in the mornings, and can choose when we have Companionship study and Language study thoughout the day and we return to the pench at 9 and have until 11 as free time. More time to sleep if we want, write in our journals, etc. We have been doing exercise videos in this time or talking about our futures with Hna. Dias, and I did write in my journal too! I feel less stressed with the new schedule and it was a real answered prayer. Before I had felt trapped at times with the schedule and that I never had time to wind down or that the 8 hours of sleep wasn't enough. We also have an hour and a half longer on P-day so it is so great!

In transfers last week,. the sister missionaries that were serving in San Miguel del Monte were both moved to a different area and they closed the area! Now in our district there is just the Elders from Cañuelas and a pair of Elders from Las Flores. Just 6 people and it is a little lonely because there are the only missionaries that we see and now we are the only hermanas! We are isolated from the rest of the mission and will only see other missionaries one time in the transfer on zone conference. Now Hna. Dias and I are in the most southern area of the mission available for hermanas! Our new district leader, Elder Vergara from Texas is really good though and prints out conference talks for us to read and made a paper with questions to help us make goals. He is super organized and prepared and I am learning a lot from him.

This transfer the mission also put two sisters back in Aldo Bonzi in a white wash. I still don't know why we had to leave but now there are missionaries there again! Another interesting fact is that there are only 2 areas for hermans in the mission that are branches and I have served in both of them. San Vicente and Cañuelas. Now I can be sure that I will be working in Wards for the second half of my mission. 

On Sunday it rained again for at least the third Sunday in a row! It is crazy and none of our investigators came to church again. We cant be too upset- the people here don't like to leave the house when it rains and there is a lot of mud everywhere too. Yesterday we ate lunch with the Branch President, Pres. Villareal and riding our bikes on the way home, it was pouring rain and we were on dirt roads for a time so it was a fun adventure and we were soaked and covered in mud when we got to the pench.

Thats about all I can remember from this week-

 Love you all!

P.S. To Mom: Wow! That's so nice that I will have a room in the house again. I haven't had one since March or April of my senior year! I am fine sharing with JJ if you guys find someone who wants to rent the whole basement. Or you could make it a nice quiet study room when the renter isn't there or a game room or something and put a ping pong table down there. But if not, I´ll take it as my own! Last P-day we played ping pong in the capilla with the other Elders and it was so fun! Its the closest thing I can get to tennis on the mission. I think I definitely want a ping pong table in my future home. 

I am so glad you are able to keep teaching tennis and earning money in something you love. That's quite a story about the housefire! I am so glad that nobody got hurt! And how nice that the Gubbin´s grandchildren got baptized and that Missy is finding strength in the church. It shows that good things can happen from tragedies and that everything is for a reason.

No pictures this week, so here's a trip down memory lane. One year ago last week, our family travelled to SVU to see Audrey and open her mission call letter. The letter had made it to SVU, but it was trapped at the post office. She didn't end up getting it until a couple days after we left. But we had a wonderful time with our dear friends the Rasmussen's!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Week 36: Kind of a Hard Week

Thanks for your email mom! I loved reading it. Good luck being a single mom this week! Love you! Sorry no so many inspirational stories this week...

So last P-day to celebrate my compi´s 13 months in the mission and my 8 months, we went out to a restaurant to eat salads and then ate a waffle with ice cream at an ice cream shop! We were trying to be healthy but our sweet tooths got the best of us! Everything was so good and it was fun to eat out for a day. 

On Tuesday we had our last district meeting of the transfer and on the way back we missed the bus and had to wait 2 hours until the next one. We knew there was a lake in San Miguel de Monte so we asked directions and it ended up being a 20 minute walk from the station so we had a surprise opportunity to go! It was so fun and we took pictures and walked around. Afterwards back in Cañuelas my bike broke- so the rest of the week we had to walk. We hope to take it to the shop this week because it is so much faster to work with bikes then walking and it is easier on our feet. 

Nothing much happened this week- we are sad because German and Elba are acting strange and haven't come to church in two weeks. We have been having lessons with them and they aren't fulfilling their commitments. We are so worried and praying so we can know how to help them. Also apparently the identity of German is outdated so they lost their day to get married and now they cant married or baptized until probably March. We are working with Maria to stop smoking still and we hope that she will be baptized this month. We gave Luis to the Elders to teach so they could work with him better and go alone. It was hard to find someone to come with us since he lives alone. My favorite lesson was with a new investigator  Marissa and some kids that we taught (see picture). I loved teaching the kids so much. On the mission I have had doubts about whether I wanted to be an elementary school teacher still but after that lesson I felt like it was right. 
Enjoying Teaching Children

We did have one lesson with Mercedes too and she liked what she read in the pamphlet and in the Book of Mormon but isn't convinced that its true. We told her she had to pray and so we will see how it goes with her this week. Her husband is always working and in a month she will start working again too but we still have hope that she will progress! Other than her, none of our investigators will be able to get baptized because they all either have to get divorced to get married or get married or quit smoking and they either don't want to or the process takes time. Smoking is so common here and it isn't popular in the culture to get married-people just live together. These two things are the two biggest barriers and it makes it really hard to find people that can be baptized. So we are still focusing on finding more people to teach. It takes effort to change and live the gospel and so many people just don't want to or they already are Catholic. To top it off, it rained Saturday and Sunday so none of our investigators came to church again. :( We are trying to stay positive and not get discouraged, but it was hard this week.

Saturday was transfers and Hermana Dias and I are together for another 6 weeks here in Cañuelas! Hopefully this transfer we can see the Lord bless us with at least one baptism!

 6 More Weeks Together- Yeah!