Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Week #17

Hey Everyone,

This week has just flown by.  It has been a little bit of a harder week, as we didn’t have anyone in church Sunday and a lot of our lessons fell through, but this just gives us the opportunity to work harder to find new people to teach.  This week we are going to have Changes and I will be sending my companion home Monday.  I am so sad to see her go home and to be honest a little nervous to find out who my next companion will be.  I am hoping to have a latina companion to help me more with my Spanish, but I guess we will see.  I know that the Lord will send me a companion that will be the best for me.

This week we had ward conference so we had an activity with the ward almost every night.  We had once (dinner here but it is really small),  with the ward, family history night, and a family home evening with the ward.  It was really fun to work with the ward and spend time with the members.  The family history activity was fun to see here because their family history is a lot different. Where we already have a lot of information on our families on family search, they have to start at the very beginning, as a lot of them our converts or their parents were converts.  I hope that I will get the opportunity to work with family history more here and help people to do theirs.

Everyone here is starting to put up all their Christmas stuff and there is a lot of Christmas music in the stores.  It is kind of weird to see all the Christmas decorations up without snow and in the heat.  I am looking forward to see what Christmas is going to be like here in Chile!

As I am coming to the end of my training this week, I have  been looking back on these past 17 weeks and I have changed and grown so much.  I know that I am not the same girl that left Utah 17 weeks ago.  When I first got here in Chile I could not hardly understand anything that anyone said let alone speak the language.  Although my Spanish is not perfect, I can now at least communicate and I understand almost everything that people say.  I know that I would not be where I am today were it not for the help of the Lord.  More than anything my confidence has grown a lot.  Learning a new language is hard and it definitely made me a little more timid than I would have been if I were speaking English, but I have grown to be a lot more confident and as I have done that, my Spanish has become a lot better.  It is amazing what a difference confidence makes.  I have learned to rely on my Heavenly Father a lot more as I have had to trust in Him, that he would help me to say the right thing when I needed to say it.  I love being a missionary so much and I cant wait to see what other adventures and trials are in store for me now.  I know that I have a lot more growing and learning to do here in Chile.  I love the people here so much and am so grateful for the opportunity that the Lord has entrusted me with to teach and to serve them. 

I love you all so much and am so grateful for your support for me while I am here on the mission!

Love ya,
Hermana Stringham

Friday, November 21, 2014

Week #16

Hey Everyone,

Okay so this week went by so fast with having P-day Tuesday.  And this week we are having another conference as a whole mission with Elder Evens of the Seventy.  It is crazy because these type of conferences rarely happen and we are going to have two in just two weeks.  The last conference was so great and so I am really looking forward to this conference.

So this Sunday was a little hard since none of our investigators or menos activos came to church, but we were able to have some really great lessons this week.  When Elder Christensen came he talked a lot about how much the missions in Chile have changed since he was here.  Because when he was here they had a lot of baptisms, but now he says we don’t have nearly as many baptisms, but we are reactivating his converts from before.  We have been working with that a lot. Here in Chile there are a lot of members, but a lot of them are inactive.  I have loved being able to work and help others come back to church. I have realized  that for me it is just as rewarding as teaching a new convert, because we are helping them to change just as we would a new convert.  We are also working with members and recent converts more to help them become stronger in the gospel.  It is so important that we are constantly building up our testimonies.  Something that I have learned here is that if we are not working on building our testimonies, then we are loosing them. Some of the less actives here were strong members in the church, but little by little they stopped going for one reason or another.  Some stop because they are offended and others because of work or they just didn’t have time.  It can be easy to get caught up in the world and in our own little lives and stop doing those things we need to be doing to build up our testimonies, but that is how we loose them.  It doesn’t happen over just one event in church, it happens little by little.  My challenge to you this week would be to think about what thinks your are doing to build your testimonies in your lives right now and what things you could do better.  We have such a blessing to have this gospel in our lives and we need to treasure it and be constantly working on it.  I had a seminary teacher who always would say that what matters most is what direction we are facing, because if we are not building up our relationship with our Heavenly Father then we are going the wrong direction because our testimonies don’t stand still.  We have to be continually using them and building up.   

Okay so a miraclye we had this week happened this Saturday night.  We had an appointment with Belen and Jonathon, who we haven’t been able to teach for 2 weeks because they were out of town.  We went to their home and they weren’t there and so we decided to stop by the Relief Society President and share with her.  We got to talk with her and share gave us Pizza, but like actual real pizza like we have back home.  We never get that here so we were so excited.  (no the pizza is not the miracle).  Anyways it got late and we realized that it was time to leave but she was preparing one of her kids for bed so we had to wait a little bit because here in Chile everyone has gates around their house so we had to wait for her to let us out. We left with not even enough time to get home in time when we ran into Belen and Jonathon and were able to talk to them and set another appointment with them. Right as we stopped talking with them a collectivo(taxi) pulled up and we barely got home in time.  I know that the Lord is aware of us and had a hand in our whole night.  He made it so we were able to run into Belen and Jonathon and helped us get home in time.  I know that he blessed us because we were working very hard to be obedient and get home in time. 

We got to teach Belen and Jonathon yesterday and it went so well.  They are getting ready to move to Nancagua, a different part of the mission at the end of year which is a little disappointing, but they said that they have friends there who have been members for three years and just went through the temple that they have been talking with.  They both say they feel like these things are true and that this is what they want for their family.  They have so many questions and truly love hearing about the gospel.  They both still have to pray to know that this is what they should do and if these things are true but they feel really good about the things we are teaching them.  I am so excited for them!

Well I am out of time But I love you all and I will talk to you next week.

Hermana Stringham

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Week #15

Hey everyone,

This week has been another great week we had the amazing opportunity to have a conference with the whole mission and to listen to Elder Christensen of the Seventy. It was so fun to be able to see all those that I came from the CCM with, and to see the whole mission together as this almost never happens.  The talks were so good and I learned so much that I am trying to apply.  I loved a though of Hermana Christensen.  She talked about the sacrifice of a mission and how it is when we are sacrificing and struggling that we gain the most.  Looking back on my past 15 weeks on the mission, I feel like I have changed and grown so much, but it has also been one of the hardest things I have ever done.  I am so happy to be a missionary because although it is really hard sometimes.  The reward that comes from the hard work is oh so sweet.  I can’t wait to see what the rest of my mission has for me.  I have come a long way, but I also know that I still have a long way to go and I am going to continue to grow. I am here in Chile to bring others unto Christ and to help them, but in turn I strengthen my own testimony.  

Okay so we are continuing to teach a lot of the same people and the are all doing pretty well they are just progressing really slowly.  Please pray for them. They need your prayers. I want to share just a few experiences that we had that were really cool with some of our investigators this week.

Jacquline  Okay so this week we had a kind of a break through with her because she has been coming to church, reading, praying and doing so well, but every time we bring up the word baptism she freaks out.  So we brought a member with us and although we had planned on teaching something completely different, we started talking about baptism and why its important. The member was able to share her testimony and experience with her baptism a year ago.  Her face completely changed and she agreed to pray about.  We are so excited for this breakthrough and I know that it wouldn’t have happened without the member there with us.  Members make a huge difference in our lessons.

Adriana  Okay so we had a bit of a miracle yesterday.  We got out of lesson with a less active that was a little disappointing, and to top it off our next two appointments called and canceled.  So we were left with very little to do for the rest of the night.  We weren’t sure what to do, but decided to continue with some of our back up plans.  We went to the house of a less active who we have passed by for many times but is never home and we have never even met her.  This time however, she was home and she let us in.  She is a return missionary who fell away from the church a long time ago, as none of her family are members.  The missionaries were teaching her a while ago and her kids were going to be baptized but then decided not to.  As we talked to her she told us about how she has desires to return to the church but has had some problems with some of the members.  We were to visit with her and the spirit was really strong.  We talked to her about how this gospel is perfect, but sometimes its members are not and were able to talk a little bit about the blessings she was loosing by not going to church and I feel like something really changed and she agreed to talk to her husband (who isn’t a member) about her desire to return.  I am so grateful for this opportunity we had to speak with her. I know it would not have happened if we had gone to the other appointments.

Other than that, everyone else is doing pretty good.  Please continue to pray for them and especially for Ana, one of our less actives.  She returned to the church about a week ago, but this week told us that there are some things she doesn’t like and she wants to return to the catholic church.  We are working hard to help her to gain her own personal testimony right now.

Okay today was so much fun because since we had P-day on a Tuesday we were able to go to Safari.  Safari is a zoo here that is closed on Mondays. We got to see so many cool animals and the coolest part was that we got to go on a tour of the lions in these cars that the lions climb on top of and you get to touch them and see them literally inches from your face. It was so much fun I have lots of cool pics to send.

Love ya all,
Hermana Stringham

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Week #14

Hey Everyone.

Answers to your questions:

The people here are so loving and kind they are always giving us food and are so giving.  Another thing they do is whenever you see someone or enter a room you have to go around and give a hug and a kiss to everyone (handshake for the men since we are missionaries).  You have to do it when you enter and when you leave even, if you were only there for like five minutes.  If you don't sometimes the people get offended or think that you are mad at them.  I love it because everyone here is so close and loving. Sometimes they are a lot more blunt here.  If they think something they are just going to say.  It is not all that weird for someone to say you're fat or just straight out tell you that your Spanish is terrible.

I am not sure how big the city is because we are usually just in our sector, but it is pretty normal. It's like back home as in there are paved streets just a Little less nice. The paving isn't as good and the houses are usually really small.  I will take some pictures when I get a chance.  It is just hard because I dont usually have my camera with me.

Family life is pretty much the same as back home, other than a lot of people aren't married here they just live together and have kids. 

Yes they do celebrate Halloween here, but it is kind of lame.  Only the little kids do anything like trick or treating and there wasnt really that many out.  The teenagers and adults usually don't do anything.  A lot of people don't like Halloween here because they say it is a holliday to worship evil. They have only been celebrating Halloween for like the last 10 years or so.

Okay, so this week has been pretty normal.  We had divisions this week, which was fun because last time I went with a gringa to her district, but this week I got to go with a latina from Argentina which was really fun.  It went good and I was able to understand and communicate with her all day.

I feel like I am finally able to feel at least comfortable with the language as in I can understand the majority and communicate sufficiently, but as always I have a lot to learn.

Victor- He is doing good as in he is coming to church and keeping his commitments, but he says he doesn't want to be baptized. We are working hard to help him to understand what true conversión is and how he needs to ask for himself.  We had a baptism this Sunday of a 12 year old boy the elders have been working with and he came, but walked in right after the actual baptism. We were able to talk about baptism a lot with him and show him the Font.  He told us that he is going to move soon to live with his mom who lives far from here so we are a little bit worried about him.  We are working hard to help him to gain a testimony for himself so that he can continue to progress after he moves.  Please pray for him to be able to work his problems out with his family and to be able to gain a testimony for himself.

Paulina-  We taught her about the Book of Mormon this week and the plan of salvation earlier in the week.  She had so many questions both times and has a lot of interest and a desire to know for herself if it is true.  The hard thing with her is that she lives with her mom who has more than 90 years ( they dont know the exact age of her mom because records are wrong I guess that happens a lot here)  but she can't work because she has to take care of her mom so she is really struggling. We are working hard to find a way that we can get her to church. It is just really hard with her mom as she is basically bed bound.

Jacqueline-  She loves the lessons and has a ton of interest still and I have seen her life change so much, she just is having a hard time because she says it is really hard with her family all being catholic. 

Ana-  Okay so we had a breakthrow with her this week.  She came to church and even put up a sign in front of her store that she is going to be closed for sundays so she can go to church and observe the sabbath.  I am so excited for her and amazed by her faith as she said that she doesn't know how she is going to pay all of her bills and not work sunday, but she knows it is important to go to church and she has faith that it will all work out!

That's basically it for this week as Jonathen and Belen are out of town for the week.  I loved hearing about everything back home with Jaxsons baptism and Halloween.  I love you all and am praying for all of you.


Hermana Stringham

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Week #13

Hey Everyone,

Sorry, My grammar is bad, because of Spanish. I write so fast to try to get it all in, as well the spell check is in spanish so the computer thinks that I spell everything wrong.

Okay here are the answers to your questions.
**No we don’t have any investigators with baptismal dates right now, since Victor canceled his, but we should have some soon.
**The Spanish is coming pretty good.  Right now I can understand the majority and I can talk alright, but it is much easier to understand than speak it.  Looking back I have come along ways and I have gained such a strong testimony of the gift of tongues, because I know that there is know way I would be able to communicate this well in Chile only after 6 weeks on my own.  As well it is amazing to see that I can always understand, and I can always speak when I have to spirit with me and I have something I am prompted to say. 

Okay so I was finally able to watch the video of the grandkids it was so fun to see all of them and hear their voices and I am so glad that you sent it tell them hi for me and that I love them.  

This week we had someone in our ward pass a way so we went to help with the funeral. It was a beautiful funeral, because the spirit was so strong.  The majority of the family are members and it was amazing to hear them speak and see how at peace they were, especially the Mom who was at peace with the passing away of her daughter. Yes, she was sad, but she was at peace because she knows that she will get to see her daughter again.  It made me feel so grateful for this gospel that we have and for the knowledge that we can be with our families forever. This knowledge brings such happiness into our lives.  I can’t even imagine how hard it would be if I didn’t know that.  There are people in the world who don’t know, and it is our job to share this message with him.  I love being a missionary for the opportunity that I have to share this message with the people of Chile.

This week we have also seen a lot of miracles, as we have been working on looking for the Lords hands in our lives.  I have realized that we have several miracles happen in our lives everyday, especially as missionaries.  A lot of times we are just to busy to notice or recognize them as missionaries.  Miracles such as we often have members drive by just when we are running late and praying that we can get somewhere on time.  One of the miracles we had this week was when we were outside contacting, not really getting anywhere and just praying in our heads to find someone that we could teach.  Just after my companion had said a silent prayer, a man drove by in a car and called to us.  At first we were hesitant but then the man called to us, “Hermanas, my mom has been looking for you.”  So we asked who his mom was a recognized her as a contact that we had made earlier. We had stopped passing by.  They never let is in for one reason or another when we used to pass by and so we assumed they weren’t really interested.  We finally got to teach her and her husband.  I know that the Lord answered our prayers that day and had been preparing her. 

This week we also had stake conference and the topic was missionary work, which was really exciting for us as missionaries.  One thing that they shared is the statistics of contacts and references being baptized. For contacts is like 1 in more than a thousand, and for references is more like 1 in 30.  I don’t remember the exact numbers, but the point was that as missionaries we are much more effective when we work with members.  I have seen this first hands many times in my mission.  Members can add a special testimony and experiences, that the people can relate to as they have more similar experiences to the people. Our lessons are always so much more powerful when we are able to bring a member.  As members we need to remember that although we may not have a missionary plaque we are always missionaries and have a responsible to help with the work.  We have such a great gift with the gospel in our lives and we need to share it with others.

I love you all and am so grateful for your support and letters!

Love ya,
Hermana Stringham