Monday, August 18, 2014

Week #76 - Life is to be Enjoyed; not Endured!

Hello one, hello all!!  

First off, the best news of the week - sunshine! Technically, we are actually in wintertime right now, but compared to the winter we went through last year (memories of frozen cups of water in the kitchen and blue fingers come to mind, haha) this year is a piece of cake. And as of Saturday, we`ve been back to beautiful sunshine, and all if happy and warm here :)  

Another awesome bit of news - Hna Pérez and Hna Alicea (her comp) are here for Pday with us!! Sorry I'm a super lameo and didn't take a picture of the 6 of us. However, we called and got permission from Pte Zanni to have them come here to pass the pday with us! So, then came down on Sunday night, and we have been together having a blast ever since :) I love the chance I have to see Hna Perez every time we can get together, and her companion Hna Alicea is a seriously champ. She has the same time in the mission as I do, and even though we never really got to serve in the same zone or anything, I have always loved talking to her and admire her a ton. So... they´re both super cool, and it's super cool that we can all be together this pday :) We`ve got a youth activity with all the youth of the stake today, and we`re going to head over there to play a few sports with the youth, and they asked me if I would give a short spiel on the mission for all the young women. Still don't have a clue what I'm going to say, but it`ll be fun :)  

This week has been a great one! We are working a ton, and getting the area all set up for success. It's always a bit of a process, but we have some investigators that are progressing, and were blessed to find a whole lot of good investigators this last week. I think we are going to change the limits again to give the other 2 hermanas of Alberdi a bit more of the area, because it's getting almost too big of a task to juggle everything once again. But all things considered, that's more of a miracle than a problem, so we´re happy :) Few miracles of the week? 

1) This last Sunday, a man named Miguel Chavez came to church. He has been married to Elena Chavez for about 20 years now, and she is currently the primary president. However, in all that time, he has received the missionaries, but never really wanted much to do with the church. However, this last week with a lot of help from the members and miracles from the Lord, he came to church for the first time!!! It was so beautiful to see the members sit by him, help him with the books, and walk him through the classes. We didn't even have to do anything, they all stepped in and did an awesome job :) The goal is to help him accept a baptismal date this week - pray that he does!!  

2) We also found an incredible family this last week. We are working with the Bishop to pass by all the names of the less actives on the ward list that nobody knows, who got baptized 20 years ago and no one remembers them. We have seen incredible miracles from this labor, and one such miracle was this last week when we managed to find Raul Talborda. The registro is actually from his parents who have since passed away, but he was living in the home where they were before. We got to know Raul, his wife Marta, and their 7 children - they got married about a year ago, believe in God, and don't believe in smoking, drinking or allowing their children to go clubbing. Basically, they are so prepared, I was amazed. We invited them to be baptized in the first lesson, and they accepted to do so, but wanted to pray together as a family to accept the baptismal date of September 28th. Pray that they receive their answer, and agree to make the goal as a family!!  

3) Reviewing the ward list, we also found a family who had recently moved into our area, and were praying for help to go back to the church. They have now attended 2 weeks in a row, and will give some much needed support to the ward with their family :)  

Basically, I LOVE being a missionary and seeing all the miracles that the Lord works here in Alberdi. I love this area, I love these members, I love being a missionary, and I love my Salvador Jesucristo. This last week, I was studying in the scriptures and came across the following: 

4 Verily, I say unto you that ye are chosen out of the world to declare my gospel with the sound of rejoicing, as with the voice of a trump.

 5 Lift up your hearts and be glad, for I am in your midst, and am your advocate with the Father; and it is his good will to give you the kingdom.

 6 And, as it is written—Whatsoever ye shall ask in faith, being united in prayer according to my command, ye shall receive.

I truly know that if we live the preach the gospel as the Lord intends, we can obtain these verbs used - rejoicing, and to be glad. I love this gospel,  I know it is true, and I know that only through our Savior can we obtain true happiness. 
I love you all!! Stay strong in the gospel of Him, and remember - life is to be enjoyed, not endured:) 
Love! Hna Lake :)

Monday, August 11, 2014

Week #75 - The Lord Loves Us!

It's been a while since I've sent out a good email, hm? Sorry, things are always so rushed on Pdays!!  I do have some great stories, and a few fun facts from the week though :)  

1) this keyboard is awful. Seriously. Sorry for all the typos right off the bat!  

2) This past week, the Iglesia familia came to church! They are a less active family that we miraculously found, and they told us that they had been praying for help to come back to church. They have come these past two weeks, and are working towards having their baby daughter blessed in the church, and we are working with the Dad, Daniel to receive the priesthood so that he can bless her himself in a few months :) 

3) Do you remember Brian and Soledad, who were baptized a little while ago? He blessed the Sacrament this last Sunday, then stood up of his own accord and gave his testimony of the truthfulness of this gospel. I cried, and Soledad too, haha :)  

4) Also giving her testimony was a woman who is from Argentina, but married with an American. They live in the states, but are here visiting for summer break, and have two little kids, both of whom are learning Spanish still. Anyway, the mom got up to bear her testimony, and brought her little daughter up with her. It was super hilarious because as the mom was bearing her testimony, the little daughter got a sneaky look on her face... snuck her face a little closer, and in the middle of her mom's tearful testimony, grabbed the microphone and yelled `CACA!!!`. Google translate it, and you`ll understand why all the little kids dissolved into giggles and the adults were all trying to keep a straight face. On the plus side, looks like she's learning Spanish :)  

5) Super cool story this week. Do you remember of Natalia, Luna and Laureano who all got baptized recently, from the Villareal family? The mom and her youngest daughter were the only members, and when Belen (the daughter) received her mission call, incredible stories started coming about in her family, including the baptisms of Natalia, Luna and Laureano. During the time when they were being taught, we also taught Alejando, the father, who never really wanted anything to do with the church, but started opening a bit more after Belen decided to go on a mission. Anyway, Hna Pacanchique and I recently started running in the morning for exercises, and got up this morning to do so. Normally, we get up at 6:15 to get dressed and all, so that we can leave at 6:30 and have 30 min to go running. However, on this particular day, for some reason, our alarm didn't go off at 6:15, and went off at 6:30 instead, leaving us less time to go running. However, we decided to go for a quick jog anyway, got dressed quickly, and headed out to do a loop. Since we had woken up later than usual, we just did a quick loop through the neighborhood, and as we rounded a corner, we noticed a man lying on the road in front of us, with another man crouched over him. Based upon the two motorcycles lying nearby, we realized that there had been an accident and headed over to see if we could help. As we got closer, I recognized Jonaton as the man crouched over, who is the brother of Belen Villareal. I then knelt down, and recognized the man on the ground as Alejandro Villareal, the father of the family. I knelt down next to him and said `Hey Alejando, whatcha doing here on the ground?` :) We learned that another motorcycle had hit him as they were heading to work, and we could help them out a little bit to clean up and head to the hospital. I really don't feel like we did that much, but at least he got up, and could walk after a while. The next day, I was talking to Ana Villareal, and asked her how Alejandro was doing. When I did, she started crying, and thanking me profoundly. I just hugged her and said `Ana, we really didn't do anything, I promise.` She then tearfully told me that that afternoon after Alejandro got back from the hospital, he told her what had happened. He told her that he was scared, mainly because he felt a great pain in his hip, and was scared because of the accident. It was cold, he was scared, and a little panicked. However, he said that in the middle of that, he suddenly heard someone greet him, looked up at the missionaries, and suddenly didn't feel any pain at all. As he was relating this story to Ana, he shook his head and said `Ana, I don't know what happened. I was hurting, then they arrived, and it changed everything` 

It was an incredible experience, mainly to see the miracles that our Savior can work for His children here on this earth. I love the parallels that we learn from Alejandros experience. So often, we are scared, alone, and don't know what we will do. Then, we see our Savior and it changes everything. Our Savior and Redeemer knows how to help us. He can help us, and will help us. Please allow Him. 

I love my mission, and I love my Savior!! He truly loves us, and it is such a privilege to be a member of His church, a member of His army. I know He lives!! 

Love, Hna Lake :)

Monday, July 28, 2014

Week #73 - The Power of Prayer

Hey guys!!  

I'm letting you know that this email is going to be a doozy ya - I'm fighting with a terrible keyboard, and a super stubborn "A" key sooo...this`ll be fun :) 

It's been a great week! Well, they are always great weeks, and this one was no exception :) Perhaps to explain why, I need to give a bit of background story first.  

Remember about 3 weeks ago when all our investigators got baptized at the same time? It was a wonderful thing, but meant that we were going to be left with no investigators, which is a terrible feeling. As missionaries, we are called to teach, and you will always be at your happiest and most effective state when you are fulfilling that calling, and teaching those that need to hear the message we share. So, in anticipation for this moment, Hna Perez and I talked with Obispo Antuña, and started planning 3 weeks ago what we were going to do when we arrived at this moment. We prayed and worked together, and decided to go to the members list. In each ward in the church, there is a list of all the members who live in that area, many of whom have not come to church in years. We decided that we needed to find those families who were prepared to come back to church, and got to work passing by the homes of every  family and person who didn't know on the list - it totals about 200 people! However, with the now 4 Hermanas in Alberdi we are getting some good progress, and have seen incredible miracles!!  

1) Daniel and Reina Iglesia - we were actually searching for another family, and stopped Daniel to ask him if he recognized their names. Many times the home don't actually have addresses, so it's all a matter of mouth to track them down. He helped us with the family, and when we presented ourselves, said `oh, my wife is a Mormon.` We were a little surprised since we didn't have any members listed in that house, and he told us to wait a moment to go tell his wife we were there. A moment later, he came out, waved us in, and we came into the humble home to meet Reina, with a huge grin on her face. She sat us down, and told us that both she and her husband were members, and had been baptized in another area about 3 years ago, but went inactive when they moved to Alberdi. She told us that she had been aching to go back to church, but was too embarrassed to ask anyone. Many times she had seen the missionaries from far off, and debated going to ask them if they could come and help her come back to church, but  was too embarrassed. She even excitedly showed us her Book of Mormon and baptism picture, posted on her wall and on her night stand table. It was so precious. She is so excited, and already making plans to bless her new little baby girl in the church this month :) We called the bishop, tracked down their records, and have a FHE this night!  

2) Flia Maidana - It is a family of 6  - the single mom with 4 daughters and 1 little boy. We were actually a little hesitant to pass by at first, since all the members told us they didn't want anything to do with the church. But, we went all the same, and they received us wonderfully! the mom and youngest daughter are not members, and are excited to learn more :) 

3) Gladys and Alan - once again, we contacted them trying to track down another family. Gladys is the single mom of Alan (18 years old) both of whom are suffering because the Dad recently abandoned their family. So much grief and suffering. We left the with the Book of Mormon, a powerful book that contains the power to ease the pain of anyone's burden. Gladys began reading, and is excited to learn more :)  

4) Jorgelina and Nestor .- she is a less active, he is not a member. His brother recently passed away, and they are always facing much grief. However, we taught a little about the Plan of Salvation, the plan that our Heavenly Father has for us to understand why we are here on the earth, and how we can achieve an eternal family. Again, excited to learn more AND they gave us free alfajores - double bonus :) 

Basically, it's been an incredible week. The Lord has really helped us find many new investigators, and now we are in the process of helping the progress - reading in the BOM, praying, accepting a baptismal date, and coming to church. I love helping with that :) I LOVE seeing the way in which this gospel changes lives, for truly it does. Yesterday, I was reading in one of my favorite stories in the Book of Mormon - in the book of Enos. A simple man, who isn't one to truly elaborate or complicate words, but who is a huge example to us about the power of prayer in the process of repentance.  I would love to share a bit of the story with you:

Enos 1:  Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart.

 4 And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens.

 5 And there came a voice unto me, saying: Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed.

 8 And he said unto me: Because of thy faith in Christ, whom thou hast never before heard nor seen. And many years pass away before he shall manifest himself in the flesh; wherefore, go to, thy faith hath made thee whole.

 9 Now, it came to pass that when I had heard these words I began to feel a desire for the welfare of my brethren, the Nephites; wherefore, I did pour out my whole soul unto God for them.

 10 And while I was thus struggling in the spirit, behold, the voice of the Lord came into my mind again, saying: I will visit thy brethren according to their diligence in keeping my commandments. I have given unto them this land, and it is a holy land; and I curse it not save it be for the cause of iniquity; wherefore, I will visit thy brethren according as I have said; and their transgressions will I bring down with sorrow upon their own heads.

 11 And after I, Enos, had heard these words, my faith began to be unshaken in the Lord; and I prayed unto him with many long strugglings for my brethren, the Lamanites.

 12 And it came to pass that after I had prayed and labored with all diligence, the Lord said unto me: I will grant unto thee according to thy desires, because of thy faith.

I love the example of Enos in this moment. When we are TRULY repent, when we are TRULY trying to use the atonement of our Savior, it will never be enough for us to repent and move on. We will feel the desire, the automatic and Christ-like desire, to share this process with others. When we are converted, we will never be satisfied with our own salvation - it is a natural and blessed result that as we draw closer to our savior, we will feel the need to act as he acted, and help one another :) 

I love this work! I love you all, and am so grateful for your prayers on my behalf! i feel their power, and I feel your love. And I love you right back!! :)

Love (told you so), Hna Lake