Sunday, October 26, 2014

Week #12

Hey everyone,

So this week has been absolutely amazing and hard at the same time.  I have seen the Lord’s hand in my life so much this week.  The week started out bad because after we wrote home and returned to our house, we received a call from Victor saying that  he didn’t want to be baptized anymore because he talked to his family and he doesn’t want to commit to a church.  It was really hard to receive this call after watching how much he had progressed and changed his life and we were so excited for his baptism, but he said we could still go by to teach him so we held onto a little hope but at first it was hard because he cancelled the 2 of the appointments that we tried to make with him. On top of that two of our new investigators Marcela and Camilla called us and said that they didn’t want us to talk about the gospel with them, because it was too confusing for them with their previous beliefs.

This week we had zone conference and transfers which made this kind of a big week.  Zone conference was so good and I learned a ton about how I can be a better missionary.  I am so happy that me and my companion weren’t transferred and that we have six more weeks together. I am a little sad to be saying goodbye to Hermana Cantillo who lives with us and I am dreading saying goodbye to my companion and Hermana Parker as they will be heading home at the end of this transfer in 6 more weeks as well.

 So the beginning of the week was a little rough and we were definitely disappointed, but as the week went on it got better and better and we saw several miracles.  I know that sometimes God gives us some hard trials to face to build us up for greater things and that is exactly what he did this week. towards the end of the week we had a breakthrough with one of our menos activos Ana. We were finally able to help her understand why it is important to go to church and how we need her in the church. Now she has a goal to get back to church. However it is a little hard with her and is going to take some time because of her work she cant go to church on Sundays, so she goes to a different church that is much earlier in the morning. After working with for a lot of time she finally has the desire and is working to change her life so she can go to church. Please pray for her to be able to find a way that she can go to church on Sundays. 

The second thing that happened is when we were walking to a members house my companion thought that I said that we should take the long way, but I didnt say anything. We realized that this was a prompting and decided to take the long way.  At first nothing happened. The member wasn’t home and we headed to look for an old investigator and while we were trying to find this investigator we asked for help from a couple on the street who then proceeded to ask us if we would come visit them and ask us  if we wanted their number so we could confirm.  We didn’t even have to do anything.  I know that God is aware of everything we do.  That night we completely changed our plans and had no idea why until we found that couple.  The Lord led us to that couple who he had prepared for us to teach.  We haven’t taught them yet because we had to call and change the appointment, but we are going to teach them this week. I am so excited.  

We also got to teach Victor at the end of the week, after going by and calling so many times. He finally said yes and we brought his neighbor who is a member to teach him.  We talked about true conversion and all shared how we received our testimonies. The spirit was so strong and at the end. When I asked him to pray to know if it was true, he told me that he didn’t need to because he has already received an answer and he knows it is true. He doesn’t want to be baptized right now or go to church because it is to hard for him with his family, work, and his health, but he has a testimony and has a agreed to let us continue to teach him. I have faith that with time he will gain a desire.  Please pray for him especially that he can have the desire to be baptized and understand the importance of baptism and going to church.

The best part of the week was yesterday in Church.  It was probably the most amazing part of my whole mission for me.  We had two families come to church with us.  Jonathon and Belen with their children came and they absolutely loved it.  We had an amazing Sunday School class and they asked tons of questions. They seemed to be satisfied with the answers.  At the end of the class Jonathon raised his hand and asked if he could say something.  He talked about his experience with us as missionaries and how it has impacted his life. Then he began to share a basic testimony of how he knew that God had lead us into his life, because had it been any other night or if it had been the elders when we had found him he probably would have said no. Now he believes that our church is true. One of the ways he feels like is because we are the only people that his dogs don’t bark and get mad at when we enter the house.  It was so amazing to listen to this man, who had only listened to lessons twice, testify.  As a family they have a strong desire to know more about the church and we have started teaching a lot more then we plan in our lessons because they have a lot of questions and have a strong desire to learn more. They just are waiting to receive answers to the prayers that this is the direction that they need to go with their lives. It is so amazing to watch peoples lives change and their eyes begin to light up as the receive the truth, but it is even more amazing to watch families change and become so much closer as they together change their lives.

The second investigator that came was Jacqueline Ramos and her son Martin.  She absolutely loved church as well as there were amazing talks.  The theme of church seemed to be conversion and gaining a testimony for yourself.  It was an amazing moment as I looked over and she had pulled out her sunday school book and was flipping through the pictures and explaining to Martin about Jesus and different aspects of the gospel.  We later went to teach her that night and she was so excited as we taught her about the plan of salvation and then we started to talk about temples and she was really interested yet she says she doesnt think that she has recieved her answer yet, but our lessons have changed her life and she has faith that she will recieve an answer.  We are so excited for her as we watch her life change.  I think what changed things for her was bringing Martin to Church and seeing what the gospel could do for her little family.  

My heart was touched yesterday as I saw the eyes of these two families light up with desire to have the gospel in their lives.  I was so happy as I watched them enjoy the church and as the members were so great with them.  I know that the experiences would have been totally different if the members hadn’t all been so supportive and come by and talk to them.  Members are the key often times for investigators. All I could think about during church was these parents and the impact that the decisions they are making now on their children’s lives and the future posterity.  I am so excited to continue to watch them progress and hopefully one day be able to seem them go through the temple and be sealed together as families for all eternity.  As missionaries our goal isn’t to have a bunch of baptisms. It is to help people to come unto Christ and accept His gospel.  Baptism is part of that goal, but it is just the door to so much more.  A big part of that is the temple and persevering and enduring to the end.  I love being a missionary so much although there are a lot of times that are really hard and learning a new language is very frustrating at times, there is so much joy that comes from it.  It is moments like I had on Sunday and those little miracles throughout the week as we watch lives change and eyes light up that make every single difficult part of the mission worth it.

I love you so much sorry for writing a novel I just had a lot of great things to write about this week.

Hermana Stringham

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Week #11

This week has been really good.

This week we have continued to teach Victor he
is continuing to progress so well and is so excited for his baptism date that he wants to have a party to celebrate after.  He said the other day when we talked to him that he was quitting smoking completely that day, but we haven’t been able to talk to him as he has been busy with work so we are
really hoping that he has kept it up and can continue to keep it up.

Jacqueline Ramos is doing pretty good she just gets overwhelmed with the lessons a lot because she says that it is hard because everything she is learning is so different from the things that she was always taught. Please pray for her.

We have been teaching an investigator named Sebastion and his partner Monica (They don’t really get married here, so partner is a stronger word then girlfriend. Some parents here never get married, it is a real problem and really hard because getting a divorce is really hard here and single women have a lot of benefits like free houses from the government so people usually don’t want to get married.)  Anyways we have been teaching him since I got here and he is progressing just really slowly. He has a lot of doubts and different believes, but he has come a
long way.

We are teaching another young couple named Jonathon and Belen.
They have to little girls and are doing really well.  Last time we taught them, Jonathon said that he has a lot of interest, now after listening to us. When he first met us he didn’t really have any, just his wife did so we are really excited to teach him.

We are also teach a mom and her daughter Mercel and Camilla.  They have so much faith and like learning about different religions.  They are so kind and we are really excited to start teaching them this week as well.

The weather right now is starting to get hot it is spring time here and it is already pretty hot in the daytime. I cant imagine how hot summer is going to be. It can still get pretty cold  some nights here, so it is hard to know whether or not to bring a jacket
each day. The people here are all very friendly. Economically there is quite a range but the majority live off off much less then we have back home, They do alright and are a lot better off then most other countries in South America.  Their homes are all really small.  They are usually very colorful and usually the houses here are like one house split in two. I can think of the word to describe it sorry.

My Spanish is coming. I can understand a lot, but it is just hard to talk because conjugating in the different tenses is hard and people sometimes have a
hard time understanding my “gringa” accent.

I have been keeping a good journal. I have been slacking off a little lately because some nights I don't have time to write, but I am working hard to be better because I want to be able to look back and remember everything.  Right now I am just studying in the book of Mormon in Spanish unless I have something I want to study better for a lesson that day.  I do want to study different Christlike
attributes leading up to christmas and think about how I can better apply them in my life.  The food here different sometimes there are a lot of things that we have from back home just slightly different.  They eat a lot of empanadas.  They eat a lot of beans, but there are a lot of different kinds. Also completos which are hot dogs with ketchup, mayo, avocado and sometimes a bunch of other stuff. They put a lot on it though, so I don’t really like it.  I don’t really know how to describe the food here very well, it usually isn’t that weird.  The one thing I have noticed is that things aren’t as sweet here.

With love,
Hermana Stringham

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Week #10

Hey Everyone!

This week has been so great.  It was kind of like a three day weekend, with conference and then p-day, so it has been nice to have kind of a break and be spiritually built up and edified to prepare for the next week.

Our main investigators we are teaching right now are Victor, Jacqueline Ramos, Jacqueline Mesias, and Eugenia.

*Victor is still progressing really well.  He is so excited and working very hard to prepare for his baptismal date.  He has given up a lot already and every thing we teach him he is so ready and willing to embrace.  It is such a great example of obedience to me because he hardly even questions any of the things we teach, like the word of wisdom, because he knows this church is true and he wants to keep the commandments.  He is working on quitting smoking right now and has come a long way, but it is really hard. He has a lot of other health problems. He is on dialysis.  Please pray for him for his health and for him to be able to give up smoking.

*Jacqueline Ramos is so fun to teach because she is this young mom with a little boy name Martin, who is 5. He is so funny. He always entertains us.

*Jacquline Mesias has been out of town, and she is still struggling trying to find a job.

*Eugenia is pretty new. She came to conference with us and liked it.  I haven’t taught her much because I was on splits for our last appointment with her, but I am excited to teach her.

*This week we have a new investigator that stuck out a lot to me.  Her name is Belen. Right when we went to her house she immediately let us in and was so excited to hear from us, even though we have never talked to her. She has two kids and a strong belief in God, but is looking for something more in her life.  We are so excited to teach her.

I didnt get a chance to take many pictures this week. Sorry our zone activity of paintball was cancelled, so a member came to teach us self defence and some martial art thing that lasted for a long time. It was so much fun and then afterwords we went and got fried sushi which was so good.

Church here is pretty much the same as back home just in spanish.  There are a few differences one is that we don’t always have someone who can play the organ, so the hymns are sometimes not accompanied and everyone sings really low here.  Other than that ,it is pretty much the same.

We haven’t had the opportunity to participate in service projects here, yet but a lot of missionaries do.  We always look for service opportunities and try to help the people here, but they usually don’t let us when we offer. We have learned to just always do the dishes or sweep or find something to help in the home, because people will always say they are fine when you offer to help, but they never protest when we just start cleaning. It has been a great way to serve the people here and build better relationships with members and investigators.

We have a half hour to work out every morning but it is first thing in the morning, so some morning it is hard to get moving especially when it is really cold morning, but we always try to do something.

Our area is pretty big and we do walk almost everywhere.  It is like 30 or 40 minutes walking from the top to bottom. With how small and close houses are here, that is a lot of houses.  Our church is about 15 minutes walking from our house.  We do take taxis here to get to district meetings or at night if we are going to be late or if there aren’t a lot of people around and we don’t want to be in the streets late.

There are a lot of different culture things here, but is hard to think of one in specific. You can’t put toilet paper in the toilets. You have to put it in the garbage. That’s one thing that is kind of weird and gross here.  Also we cant leave our water heaters on and most people don’t, because they can’t afford to. So the water is always freezing here that you wash your hands with.  Everyone here is just really friendly. They kiss and hug just about everyone and it is kind of cool how kind and friendly the culture is.

Oh we had a cool experience earlier this week. When we were contacting in the streets we passed this guy and didn’t contact him, because we were about to contact this house. He came up to us and asked us what we were doing and we explained that we were missionaries.  He kept asking about our church and then we offered to share more with him and his family at a later time and he gladly excepted.  It was so cool to see how this man came to us when usually it is the other way around, and how the Lord had truly prepared him.

Conference was definitely the highlight of the week. I watched all the sessions in English except for women’s session which I watched in Spanish. It was cool and I was able to understand a good amount.  I got the concept of everything, I just couldn’t understand the details, because they talk so fast and have different accents in conference. I can’t wait to read the talks when they come out.  It was weird though because the voice over is weird. It made me very grateful that conference is done in English. This is something I have always taken for granted. Here it is hard because a lot of people associate the church with the US and then when all the talks are originally in English and they can’t understand any of the songs because they are all in English its hard.  But it was so cool to have the musical number of those children in China and then the talks in different langauges.  We went in to watch both the talks in Spanish and everyone here was so excited to have a talk in there own language.  The translations are good, but not everything translates over very good so you don’t really get any of the jokes and the voices make it so you loose any emotion.  I am so excited for this amazing change that is going forth in the church as it is becoming more global. It was definitely different this time going to conference as instead of just listening for myself I was listening for things that I could use to help my investigators. It was so cool as there were many talks that seemed to answer exact things that my investigators are struggling with right now, and I cant wait to share them with them.  I espeicially like Elder Bednars talk, as he explained perfectly exactly what I wish I could explain to all of my investigators of why we do what we do.

I loved a few quotes that I want to share They are not word for word, as I couldn’t get the exact wording of all of them fast enough.
 I love the quote that Elder Holland shared about how what we do is only about a drop in the ocean, but without us the ocean would be a drop less.    This is exactly how I feel missionary work is we work very hard but sometimes it doesn’t seem like we are doing much and compared to the big picture we aren’t, but every soul is great in the eyes of God and what we are doing individually is very important because we are working with salvation. Even if we are just planting seeds, that is great because every soul is worth so much and we have to first start by planting seeds.   I also really liked the quote by Elder Chi Hong (the guy who spoke in cantonese) He said,  “äs we work hard to rescue souls, we too will be rescued in the processs.”   This is so true and I have seen this over and over again in my life and as I have worked hard to find and teach others to come unto Christ. I have found I have grown so much myself and my relationship with my Heavenly Father is so much stronger.  The final quote I want to share,  I can’t remember who it was from. He said something like: “the strength of the church is not dependent on how big it is.  The strength of our church is measure by the strength of its individuals.”  I loved this so much because it is so true.  I ready a statistic this week  in the Liahona as there was a sections on Chile in there this month. You should read them they are so true. Any ways it said that 1 in 30 Chileans are members of our church.  This statistic is so cool, but of those members, a large potion of them are inactive as retention is so bad here.  We all need to work hard as we work to become more like Christ especially as members, because as members of this church are representatives of Jesus Christ and people watch us.  We need to ask our selves if we are examples and representatives of something that would draw people unto Christ and want to know more about the church or if it is giving people the wrong ideas of our church. I know that as we work hard to become more like Christ in our actions we will in turn draw others unto Christ.

I love you all so much and I will talk to you next week.

Hermana Stringham

Tupahue 1 Zone