Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Week #43 - Feliz Navidad!!!

First off, when I tried to write a smiley face at the end of the overly eager subject line, I accidentally hit the wrong parenthesis, and almost sent this off with a grumpy scrooge frowny face. I considered leaving it, mainly because I thought it was funny, but decided against it :)  

Merry Christmas to all! Ah, I hope it has been a beautiful year for all my loved ones :) Here in Argentina, it doesn't really feel much like Christmas since there is an obvious lack of snow, and an even more obvious presence of 100 degree weather. That combined with the fact that no one actually puts up Christmas decoration, feels more like 4th of July in my world :)  


The trees and parks of San Nicolas are beautiful!
Hillary played Papa Noel for the Hermanas of her apartment.  She is such a gem!

Either way, I have loved this Christmas! I really feel like this year I understand more than ever before the story of the NiƱo de Belen. Perhaps it is due to my calling as a representante de Jesucristo at this time, but I have felt my Savior's presence more during this Christmas than ever. What a gift :)  

One of the things that truly touched my heart during this time, is the firm testimony given by the prophet of God and the apostles who lead this divine church with Christ as the head. A part of their proclaimed testimony of the Christ, titled The Living Christ is as follows:

We solemnly testify that His life, which is central to all human history, neither began in Bethlehem nor concluded on Calvary.  He was the Firstborn of the Father, the Only Begotten Son in the flesh, the Redeemer of the world. 

We declare in words of solemnity that His priesthood and His Church have been restored upon the earth—“built upon the foundation of . . . apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:20).

We testify that He will someday return to earth. “And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together” (Isaiah 40:5). He will rule as King of Kings and reign as Lord of Lords, and every knee shall bend and every tongue shall speak in worship before Him. Each of us will stand to be judged of Him according to our works and the desires of our hearts.

We bear testimony, as His duly ordained Apostles—that Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God. He is the great King Immanuel, who stands today on the right hand of His Father. He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world. His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son.

How dearly I love my Savior! How grateful I am to have the knowledge and testimony that I am a daughter of God and that He, the Omniscient Creator of all, knows me and wants for me to speak with Him. It is a such a privilege to be a missionary for Him, and to bring to the truth to a world that so desperately needs the guidance He gives.

May we always center our lives around Christ, for I know that He lives.  I love you all!! Enjoy the snow for me - I'm off to get a 2nd degrees sunburn, ha ha :)

Love, love, love, Hna Lake
P.S. I got bit by another dog this week :)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Week # 42 - Abril's Baptism

Hey all!! 

Basically, what I have no time to say in words, I made up for with a MILLION pictures of an awesome week :) Basically, we had the Christmas conference in Rosario with our southern half of the mission, along with a yummy lunch, slide show of pictures, and different acts from all the different zones. It was a total blast, and I loved seeing all my mission buddies :) (I can't believe I can say that - I feel like I've heard the phrase `mission buddies' from every RM ever, and feel weird saying it now, ha ha :)

We also had a fun week of exchanges, sleeping outside with the mosquitoes, and the baptism of Abril. Ah, its been a great - albeit CRAZY - week :) 

Baptisim of Abril this last week!! 
Baptisim of Abril this last week!! 
I love this gospel, and I LOVE the Lord! I  love this time of year, and challenge you all to try and focus on the Savior during this time. Also, because anything from my parents, for me, is basically scripture, I'm including something from my Mom that I loved in her email to me this week: 

I love the Nativity story and the reminder that we all take turns playing the roles found therein.  Sometimes we are the shepherds in the field tending flock, sometimes we are the angel sharing a divine message, sometimes we are the wise men seeking the Savior and following the star - but may we never be the innkeeper who had no room for Him.  I always hope to bring gifts, to seek Him, to love Him.  I do so love my Savior and feel such a reverence and love for Him and a gratitude for His presence in my life.  You have the privilege of sharing this message - you are such a joy to me! 

Sorry to mooch off your spiritual thought Mom - I really do love it, and love the peace that we can feel during this time of year! For those who feel they lack the peace or joy they would like in this life, we invite you, as does your Savior, to come and learn more of Him :) I know there is hope, I know there is peace :) - go there and learn more!  

Love you ALLLLLL! :) (so much love in missionary emails, ha ha :) 

Smile, and have a great week! Hna Lake

Monday, December 9, 2013

Week # 41 - Dancing in the Rain

Greetings one, greetings all.

A disclaimer - this keyboard is terrible, and please don't cringe at all my misspelled words. We`ll just blame it on the keyboard and time, and not on my English, deal? :) Not my fault - I have never actually had an American comp since TN, and I actually rather like it that way. I learn a ton about other cultures, and my Spanish is getting better everyday :)  

I love my Argentine Sky
On that note, off we go for some fun facts!! 

1) Did you know that literally EVERY SINGLE country in South America cooks rice differently? Hna Ruiz is from Colombia, and made some Colombian rice this last week when we didn't have lunch with a member. It`s dang good :) My favorites are the curry rice from Chile, Arroz con leche de Peru, and chicken and rice from Colombia :)  

2) Okay, this isn't actually my own language blunder, but I got such a kick out of it, its totally worth including. First, some definitions:  

Villano = villan

Villero = the name for a person who lives in the villa, or slums. 

Villano favorite = despicable me (no idea why the title is so different, but there you go) 

Scene - in the chapel, with Elder Smith and Valenzuela:

Elder Valenzuela - what movie should we watch this Pday? 

Elder Smith - Hm... my vote would be Villero Favorito 2

Elder Valenzuela- `cue the blank stare, then unable to actually say anything because we all started laughing so hard` 

Okay, maybe no one else thinks its that funny, but I got a good giggle :)  

3) Hna Ruiz cut my hair this last week! Looks way better than the time I cut my own hair with a pair of kindergarten scissors in my bathroom. Feels a lot shorter, but a heck of a lot cooler with the heat, so I'm happy :)  
This is called `dulce de membrillo`, and is suuuuper yummy. It's basically jam, but firm, and tastes exactly like fruit leather! I'm a fan, and eat it with crackers
4) Another thunderstorm this last week! Seriously, in the summers here, we literally have ROCKIN thunderstorms about every 3 days. Its always the same pattern - Ridiculous heat that literally saps every ounce of energy you have, huge thunderstorm in the night, and the next day, a cool front that feels amazing for about... 12 hours until the pattern repeats and ridiculous heat rolls back in. It's great :) 
 A huge thunderstorm rolled in and we all ran outside on the balcony to cool off in the rain, because it was HOT. Hna Condori - who is constantly giggling and dancing around - started dancing in the rain, and we started up a dance party. It was such a blast :)  I don't wear EFY t-shirts and wet skirts when I'm proselyting - it was a quick change from my PJs :) I love these girls and I love ARG!

Maria Sosa - she was companions with my MOM in Buenos Aires during her mission!!!!!
She is actually in the other ward, but my Mom told her that I was serving in San Nicolas, and she tracked me down :) I felt like I had a tiny bit of my Mom with me for a moment. 
5) I was at a lunch this last week, and on of the Hnas was showing me pictures of the time that she went to Mexico to serve the missionaries there. Her daughter is married to the mission president, so they went to visit for Christmas and help out. While I was looking through the pictures, I suddenly did a double take and said - that's my MTC TEACHER! And all of a sudden, there I was, at a small table in Argentina, looking at pictures of my MTC teacher standing next to my Primary president in my ward. It was a strange moment, but pretty funny :)  
I love you all! Thank you for your examples and lessons to me through my life -remember the quote that says that the Lord often answers our prayers through other people? One way that the Lord answers my prayers is by bringing to my remembrance things that you have said to me, or interactions that we have had. The other day, the Lord helped me remember the example of my parents in paying tithing to teach me the principle of example. I remember Eden's constant ability to think and notice the smallest of needs of other people, and unquestioningly act on those. I think of Carissa's reactions to stress, and her understanding of the importance to build ourselves before we can build others. Mason's ability during his mission to speak with the power of God, because of his unyielding obedience. Brayden's example of not allowing the personalities of others to knock down your own. You are such a part of my mission, and I am so grateful for your presence and example. Thank you for being my joys - I love you so!! 
I've been learning a lot lately, especially about how to help others, but not to the point that you sacrifice your own obedience. A huge goal that I have had lately has been the following - to learn to focus on the PEOPLE, and not on the TIME. That has really been a struggle for me during my mission -I am so motivated by obedience, that sometimes I get so wrapped up in being obedient, that the people get lost along the way. I have learned and progressed SO MUCH in this aspect this past transfer, and am very humbled and grateful for the chance to do so. 
Overall, its been a great week. Thank you for all your support and prayers! I love you all, and am so grateful for the chance to serve my God. I love my mission, and I especially love the Book of Mormon. Hna Condori and I are actually giving a lesson today in our zone meeting about the Book of Mormon, and I have loved the chance to study this sacred book more in detail. For those who haven't read the Book of Mormon lately, as they should - and you all know who you are - I encourage you to act upon the promptings that you have received, and that you are surely feeling even now as you read this. Take advantage of this book of revelation, meant exactly for our day. In all the history of the world, only select few have ever had the chance to read the writings and inspiration by these prophets. Thousands of years, millions of people, and this book was brought through it all specifically for our day, for our time. The Lord knows that the families will suffer, that it will be difficult to protect your children, that there will be great confusion. And for that, he started preparing to help us back before Christ even came. Take advantage of this book, and share it with the world. Only with daily exposure to the Book of Mormon and following its principles can we find joy in our marriages, peace in our homes, and satisfaction in this life. 

Really, I am loving my time here. There is so much that we learn in a mission that we can never learn otherwise. Its the best decision I have made thus far in my life, and I know that I will use the things I am learning here for the rest of my life.

I love you all :) Have a good day!  

Hna Lake


Monday, December 2, 2013

Week # 40 - Say Cheese!

Dear One and All, 

Well, I`ve been slightly distracted all through my emailing time, since I got the news that two of my favorite people in the whole world - Carissa Pettit and Mason Stewart - are TOTALLY ENGAGED! Ah, I`ve been grinning like a loon here in the ciber :) I am so amazed by all the blessings that come when you are serving a mission! I couldn't possibly think of better blessings for two of my dearest friends than to be sealed in the temple together. Ahem. However, Brayden and Karis, no pressure to run and get hitched, ha ha :) I think 2 weddings during my mission is enough. :) If I get news that anyone is pregnant, I`ll just deal with that when it comes :)  
Writing YOU ALL on Pday
after playing handball for about 3 hours, haha :) I was WASTED!!

Phew! Good week! Tiring week since its getting dang hot here (I seriously say the same thing every week, and I'm chugging water like a champ. Eden, even you and your water swigging self would be proud :)  

Best news of the week? Abril Campiotti has progressed enough, and she accepted the invitation to be baptized! She will get baptized on the 15th of December - we are THRILLED! It will be an incredible blessing to this ward, since there has not been a baptism in a whole lot of time, and I think many of the members were starting to disbelieve that it was possible. How incredible it is to see the reminder that NOTHING is impossible for the Lord when we allow him to work :)  

I am thrilled, and loving my mission :) What a happy week it has been! Thank you for all of your love and support - I hope all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and know that I am thankful for all of YOU!  

Love, Hna Lake :)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Week #39 - Happy Turkey Day to all!

Hello, all you turkeys, you!!!  :) (to be said in the voice of Aunt Heidi ha ha :)  

So, want to know something pathetic? I totally forgot about Thanksgiving until the Hna Assistants sent out a text that said, "Happy Thanksgiving to all of us!" I was 1) really confused by the English text, and 2) really surprised that Thanksgiving had reared its glutinous head already :) ( I probably totally butchered glutinous, but I'm short on spell check since this computer is programmed for Spanish, and therefore tells me that everything is wrong,  no matter which word I write! haha :) Hope you all stuff yourselves silly, and there is Mexican food involved. Thanksgiving just isn't thanksgiving without some good 7 layer bean dip or enchiladas :) (Mom, I know you´ll side with me on that one :)  

Here in Argentina land, things are going good, and getting HOT. Okay, even I am getting a little sick of hearing myself say each week how hot it is, but really. I don't even know what to do with myself in the nighttime when we really only have 2 options: 1) close the door to avoid letting the bugs in and thereby roast to death, or 2) open the door to allow a little wind through and doom ourselves to becoming a Thanksgiving feast for all the mosquitoes. It's a fun little adventure, and I've yet to figure out the best compromise. For the time being, we just bathe in bug spray before we go to bed, bake in the heat, and STILL get eaten by all the bugs. What a deal, ha-ha :) Ah well. A mission is worth it :)  

Fun highlight of this last week - we had a conference of JUST the hermanas in the mission! AH, it was so amazing :) It was a total blast to see all the hermanas, and we got SPOILED with an awesome lunch, brilliant lectures, and just... it was fun to talk to girls, ha ha :) Really!!  Sometimes, it gets a little old being around elders all the time and feeling like us girls are nothing more than sin on two legs. However, the conference was awesome - pictures included!

Couple fun facts and/or funny stories of the week: 

1) I had to search for about 2 minutes to find the little slash (/) for that previous line of and/or 

2) While at the conference, I looked down to realize that I had somehow managed to rip my skirt straight up the slit - and pretty dang high up there, too. My first thought was a movie quote, from the movie that I cant actually remember the title -Stewarts help me out here - "Ah! What are you doing?¨ It stops the suit from riding up¨ Up, WHERE?¨ ¨Just.. up!¨ ..... I'm having second thoughts if I should even include that movie quote since it seems a little risque for a sister missionary.. I'm just going to move on. Summary, of the story is: my skirt ripped, and I ended up holding the slit together with several safety pins I collected from the cute little bows on the presents given to us by Hna Giuliani.  Needless to say... I baby-stepped it all the way to the bus terminal.  
The office elders serving as our waiters for the conference luncheon. 
Note the BIG paper bowties :) When they marched in all military style, the music from the
waiter-penguin scene in Mary Poppins came to mind, haha :)

Hna Goodrich and I - again, she's splendid!!

To explain the paper bag wedding dress...
For the conference, the hermanas divided into 4 different teams and each team chose a model for whom to make a princess dress with only the materials that we had. Not sure if it's purely discimination since I'm tall and blonde, and everyone here calls me "Barbie", but I was picked to be the paper bad princess, haha :) It was a total blast!

3) This week, we were walking through the streets when Hna Condori suddenly said ´No estoy cansada - Mi freaking CUERPO esta cansado!¨ It was pretty funny, because the only words that she managed to said in English was "freaking." Okay, it's probably not funny to anyone besides me, but I laughed :)  

4) A menos activo familia made us TACOS this past week! I have never missed Chalula so much in my life. Seriously.  

5) I taught Hna Condori this past week that "Estados Unidos" isn't actually the name of my country - it is actually the United States. Totally blew her mind, haha. 

6) We were walking through a park, when I saw a jolly looking man sitting on a bench.  I remember thinking, ´Wow! He looks like Santa Claus!´ No, but really! Big guy with a big white beard, and glasses. However, as soon as we made eye contact, he opened his mouth, and yelled at me ´DIOS NO EXISTE!¨or, God doesn't exist!"  I had hoped for something a little more jolly from Santa. Ha ha ... anyways, that was my first encounter with an atheist Santa Claus :) I just laughed and said, "Well, I believe that He does exist!" And we kept walking.  

To completely change subjects, I want to share something that I've been learning. During my mission, I have been learning a lot about how to actually deal with stress. I realized during my mission that I am TERRIBLE at this; not because deal badly with stress, but because I don't deal with it at all. :) I automatically opt for the ´blissfully ignorant´ option and continue, thinking that if I ignore it long enough and force myself to cheerfully continue along, that maybe it´ll just go away. Well, Folks, I'm here to tell you that this doesn't work. It's probably old news to all of you; however, I've been learning more about how Christ, Himself, dealt with trials. Yes, it is important to continue cheerfully, but MORE important is to learn how to grow from the trails that God gives us and we will never grow if we chose to simply ignore the problem in front of us. I shared this little insight with Carissa before, and she sent me a poem that I loved, by Pres Packer: 

If you can smile when things go wrong and say it doesn't matter,
If you can laugh off cares and woes, and troubles make you fatter,
If you can keep a cheerful face when all around are blue,
Then have your head examined, brother,
There's something wrong with you.
For one thing I've arrived at--There's no ands and buts
A guy that's grinning all the time must be completely nuts.

Love it :) It seems befitting this Thanksgiving Season to have the ´troubles make you fatter line´, ha ha :)  

Love you all! I love my mission, love my life, and love you. Have a good day! 

Hna Lake

Monday, November 18, 2013

Week #38 - Dead bugs and food poisoning!

Hey fam!!  

Sorry I was an 11 on the scale of 1 to loser last week, and didn't get around to writing a broad letter out. Sorry, be assured I've already repented, and will write an EXTRA good letter this week to make up for it :) I've just gotten into the habit of printing out my emails, because I really don't have time to do anything anymore it feels like :)  Anyway, this week has been AWESOME! Slightly crazy, really hot, full of bugs, and... overall, shnazzily wonderful :) Fun facts? I think so!!

I absolutely LOVE the Argentine sky!!!
So many times while on my mission when we have been working our tails off, I look up and marvel at the beauty of the sky above, smile, and get back to work. There are few things that can pick me up faster than a good sunrise :) I love it.
I strangely have a craving to eat cereal when I see a good sunset...

Flabbergasted at the complete lack of people in the street during the siesta when the whole city shuts down from about 2 to 5 and everyone goes home to sleep, drink mate, or... sleep while drinking mate - no really - I`ll bet they could do it!  

1) The mosquitoes have started to rear their tiny little horrible heads. Since the heat flared about a week and a half ago, they have invaded our pension in the night like nobody´s business. There was one night that we accidentally forgot to close our `screen door` (quotation marks, because it's not actually attached to the house, it's just a square of metal with mesh on it that we prop against the door) and, ooooh man!! I felt like I was in the Argentine version of Jurassic Park! 

The best part is? The little black bugs called mosques - they get into your house, swarm around the lights like little maniacs, then promptly drop dead about 20 minutes later after they've electrocuted themselves. Rather sensitive little creatures. Basically, the first thing I do in the morning is to sweep up the huge pile of dead bugs from the night before. It's jolly :) 

2) Ah, food poisoning. No clue what exactly I ate - we think some empanadas that weren't cooked right - but I was MISERABLE for a few days this past week. I felt so weak, nauseated, and was in a world of.. well, really, nothing, haha :) It took too much energy to talk, so I just laid there for a few hours, like a lump of lazy. Eventually, after a few hours and a whole lot of pepto bismal, I was back to normal. Still, an adventure :)  

Another cool fact of the week - though a little long to put in only one number, okay, all my fun facts are a little long - was that we had an awesome activity this last week. All the missionaries in our stake invited  ONLY investigators to a discussion and dinner that we were having. All together, almost 40 INVESTIGATORS came to the activity! For our area, that is a HUGE miracle. The best part? During the discussions, the investigators started to say things that they had learned, to bear their sweet testimonies, or to ask questions. I was AMAZED to see how they all got involved, and I just sat in the back and marveled. IT was a good day :)  Funny part of the activity? Two of the teenage boys - brothers - decided that I was the hottest things since nacho cheese (did I really just compare myself to nacho cheese? I feel like I need to go repent or something after that one), and began following me around during the dinner. I got so sick of it that I put the two of them to work. When they would follow me around, I would turn around and fill their arms up with a load of dirty dishes and send them off to the kitchen. They kept coming back, so I kept loading them up with more dishes, haha :) I think they finally learned their lesson though, and stopped following me around after the 4th or 5th load. On the plus side, we got cleaned up pretty fast, haha :) 

Funny little language blunder of the week - and oh man, is it a good one!!! Here in Argentina, I think I've mentioned this already, but they have SUCH a different vocabulary here than any other country. Really, `Castellano`is a quite different from Spanish at times. One such difference is the word `remera`which here, instead of camista or pollera, means shirt or Tshirt. The other day, I was trying to compliment Hna Ruiz, and told her `I like your ramera`... imagine my surprise when she doubled over laughing. I finally figured out what I had said. There is a SLIGHT difference between remera (t shirt) and ramera (whore). Haha, I got a good giggle out of that one :)  

This week, I think the Lord has been teaching me an awful lot about the simplicity of the gospel. It is incredible to see a small 11 yr old investigator bear her testimony, and nearly bring an entire room to tears. So simple, and such faith. I truly am grateful that the Lord works with the simple and the weak, because that's exactly how I feel much of the time :)  

I love you all!! Have an amazing week, don't get sunburned (or wait - its snowing for you all. Dang it.), and always appreciate the small and simple of your lives. Those are the best things anyway :)  

Love, LOVE! (and lots of it)

Hna Lake

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Week #36 - Argentine Ice Cream = HEAVEN!!

Good morning everyone!!  

For starters, you will all be happy to know that I am writing this email FIRST, so that I can actually get a good email off for the first time in... three weeks or something. Yeah, sorry about that. After reading and seriously giggling at my cousin, Sister Stewart's letters, I am forcing myself to sit down and actually write a good letter, ha ha :)  

Also, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO JAYLEE AND ANDREW!!! Also, happy early birthday to Eden! Congratulations to Jameson, Andrew, and their vocal group for winning a spot to open for Vocal Point!!! I'm a little in shock right now. THAT'S AMAZING!!! Seriously, why is my family so cool. Ni idea.
Our week was AWESOME! Okay, really, every week for a missionary is awesome. And hard. But mostly awesome :) Lets go back to the basics and start off with a list of fun facts, shaaaaaall we? 

1) Halloween!! We celebrated by buying some yummy ice cream from Grido, the food of the missionaries :) Seriously, its dang cheap ice cream, and since missionaries can't really do anything too extravagant to celebrate anything... we buy ice cream! I got cream of almendra, (almond) and it was ridiculously, amazingly good. Like, really! 

2) This week, we were lying in bed, half asleep - well, I was half asleep at least. I don't really know what Hna Nunja was thinking because all of a sudden, she starts singing the following song under her breath: 

Hey, I just met you,
And this is crazy,
But here's my number,
So call me, maybe? 

I seriously started busting up laughing, which I learned is slightly dangerous to do when you are lying down as I have a slight tendency to do `a knee jerk` when I start laughing really hard and nearly pegged myself in the face. This is really rather serious when you have legs as long as mine, ha ha. It was seriously hilarious, and I'm still giggling just writing about it :) 

3) Flood! So much flooding! Seriously, there was a HUGE rainstorm here about 3 days ago, and when the thunder boomed it set off all the car alarms in the street by our apartment. It was raining straight for about 14 hours, and flooded all our apartment. I feel like kind of a whiner writing about that since I just finished reading Hna Shaleah Anderson's email, ha ha :) For those who don't know her, she is one of my best friends who is currently serving in Costa Rica, and basically her every week includes killer rain storms and GIANT bugs. Okay, maybe I'm just whining, ha ha :)  

4) Yet another flood story! Every transfer, our schedule for Pday is slightly off, because we have a dia de limpieza (cleaning day) and clean our whole apartment on Monday. Yesterday, we were giving our apartment some serious love scrubbing, and our toilet kind of exploded. We went on an adventure to try and find a plunger, and finally succeeded, although it was.. slightly different than I thought it would be. Here, you buy the black rubber part separately, then stick a pole on the top - they don't come together. This would be fine, except the poles they use here are the same generic wooden one that you also use for brooms and mops. Soo... basically, I felt like King Arthur pulling the sword out of the stone as I was using a 6 foot long poled to plunge our toilet! ha ha. On the plus side, the water stopped flooding. And I'm pretty sure that plunger can double as a self defense weapon if anyone ever tried to break into our apartment. Maybe I should start carrying that little guy around when we work in dangerous areas.  

Not that we have dangerous areas. Moving on... 

5) Miracle of the week - we were literally completely out of plata (money) this last week and were not going to receive any more for a while; therefore, I didn't have any money to buy more than 1 jug of water for our water dispenser. Since it has been super hot here lately and we`re not allowed to drink the tap water, I was a little concerned. So, every time I filled up my water bottle, I said a little prayer that our Heavenly Father would lengthen out our water. Sure enough!! That one little jug - which normally lasts us for about 2, 3 days - was chugging out water for a little over a week. I love the little miracles of life. It makes me appreciate my Father in Heaven so much more :)  

Also, I was called to train again! Hna Nunja is going to a different area, and I`ll be training another newbie tomorrow! I'm heading to the mission home tomorrow, so stay tuned to learn more about who she will be! Wahoo!! 

Okay, lets just stop there, shall we? Overall, it was an amazing week :) Especially so, because I can feel myself growing and learning, and there is no better feeling in the world. And little lesson that the Lord taught me this last week - we have to be willing to turn EVERYTHING over to the lord, including our fears, our hesitancy, our doubts. We cannot be an adequate servant in the Kingdom of the Lord if we are not willing to become who He would for us to be. Shyness is not a Christlike attribute. If we want to work for the Lord, we must become like Him - and although I personally believe that Christ may have been a bit of introvert, I also know that He, like us, had to sacrifice that discomfort to be an instrument in the hand of God.  

I love you all. Have I mentioned that yet this week? Because I really do. Like really :)  

Love, Hna Lake

Monday, October 28, 2013

Week #35 - A Spider in my Bed!

Yet again, my email is going to be short this week, ha ha :) Hopefully I'm not making this a pattern, but at least I have a good reason! I started typing my emails, then started talking to the man sitting next to me about the Book of Mormon, annnnnd, there went all my time, ha ha :) Ah well. Totally worth it! Know that I know you all the same, and am showing my love for all of you by SHARING THE BEST NEWS EVER!! Really, did you know missionary work is fun. Give it a shot - you`ll like it, I prooooomise :)

Couple fun facts of the week:

1) I went to the mission home in Rosario this week to do my paperwork for my VISA. Luckily, the pattern didn't continue from the last time I tried to do so, and no buildings blew up :) So, we were able to get it all done, I although I am still not entirely legal, I'm halfway there, ha ha! Best part? HNA GOODRICH WAS THERE! My sweet comp from the MTC happened to be doing her paperwork at the same time, and it was AMAZING to see her! I love that girl :)  

Mis Queridas Hermanas
2) This week, I found a spider in my bed. I'm not going to go into a whole lot more detail than that, because I still feel fairly scarred for life, ha ha. Needless to say, I am a whole lot more cautious when I sleep now!!

Thought of the week: Happiness doesn't come when the situation changes, but rather when the attitude of the person changes.
( Copyright of Hna Lake, haha :) Go put it on a mug or something.)
I truly believe that. Truly I do!! Know what else I believe? That this gospel is the ONLY way to find happiness! If you have ever wondered how to find peace in this world, swallow your pride and ask someone - more particularly, the someone of your friendly neighborhood missionary. I promise you will find peace. I promise you will find joy. There is hope. 

I love you all!!  

Hna Lake

Monday, October 21, 2013

Week #34 - Don't you quit - keep walking, keep trying!

Hello one, hello all!!  

Well, maybe not literally `all` (those quotations marks were really hard to find on this keyboard by the way, so I hope you appreciate them, ha ha) but certainly to all those I love :)

Making homemade pasta
Also, side note. In the past 2 weeks, I have gotten all sorts of reactions from people telling me that `wow, sounds like your Spanish is really coming along!` and I got to wondering.... is that just a nice way to tell me that my English stinks now? Ha ha, I think so :) Sorry for all my tangles! I'm all sorts of a mess now - I can't speak in English OR Spanish!  
Sitting down to yummy food!

For starters, summer is coming in! And by summer, I mean `still spring, but it's stinking hot and it hit about 95 this past week, and hoooo boy. I was feeling it. How so? Couple of different ways. 

1) I discovered that the greatest irony thus far for my mission... I seriously shower more than any other time of my life - we`re talking 3 showers a day sometimes - and simultaneously, have never smelled worse, ha ha :) It is so hot!  

2) suuuuunnnbuuuurnnn!! It's a bad one :) I had my hair in a french braid one day this last week, and the back of my neck got burned bad! But the best part is? According to Hna Nunja, my neck looks like the flag of Peru since it has a giant white stripe in the middle from my french braid, ha ha :) (feel free to google the Peruvian flag to check that out, because don't even know what it looks like :)  

3) Bugs, bugs, bugs. On the plus side, I've learned that the Argentine mosquitoes love on us white folks almost as much as the dogs do. Therefore, my legs are covered in mosquito bites, and I've even got two different spider bites to match (don't worry Mom - they`re not poisonous or anything, and I've been religiously using my lavender essential oil :)  

Another funny fact from this week that isn't actually related to the heat at all. I learned that although I am literally on the other side of the continent and no where near WA, I still have the same following conversation with the Argentine people here: 

Hna Lake - Yep, I'm from WA 

Arg - WA? Really? Have you ever been to Forks before? 

Hna Lake - `cue exasperate sigh` 

Yep, I still have people ask me about Twilight, even in Argentina, ha ha :) It makes me laugh every time, especially since this conversation occasionally takes place in RS or with the older Hnas in the ward, ha ha :) 

I've thought a lot about tribulation in our lives - not necessarily the power that tribulation has over us (because the opposite is true) but rather the power we have due to our agency, decisions, and attitudes. What seems unconquerable can be overcome through these mediums and nothing is more powerful than that. On that note, I rediscovered a quote that I had cut out of an Ensign while I was in TN that I love:   Every one of us has times when we need to know things will get better. My declaration is that this is precisely what the gospel of Jesus Christ offers us, especially in times of need. There is help. There is happiness.  4 To any who may be struggling to see that light and find that hope, I say: Hold on. Keep trying. God loves you. Things will improve. Christ comes to you in His “more excellent ministry” with a future of “better promises.” 

Don’t you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying. There is help and happiness ahead. It will be all right in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come.” Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don’t come until heaven; but for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come. 

I testify that there is no other way to true happiness, except through the Son of God, our Savior. You cannot do this on your own; He wants to help you. He is trying to help you. Please, please, please let him. It will all be alright in the end :)  

I love you all. Always choose to follow the light :)  

Love, Hna Lake

Monday, October 14, 2013

Week #33 - An impromtu poem

Okay, delayed apologies for the lack of an email last week. To convey my apologies a little more sincerely, I wrote you all a poem: 

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
I'm actually making up this poem as a write,
And I clearly stink at impromptu :) 

Also, I totally forgot how to spell impromptu. Not sure if you have all noticed, but my spelling is getting HORRIBLE! I'd like to think it's a result from bad keyboards and rushed time, but in reality, I think Spanish is taking over my mind. Which is a good thing, right up until I try to write something in English :)  

And after all that effort, my poem didn't even have a thing to do with an apology, ha ha :) Ah well. I'm just going to abandon that effort, and move on with the week.  

The beautiful sunrise after 3 days of thunderstorms here in San Nicolas! Symbolic, and beautiful - what a bonus :)
It's been great here in San Nicolas!! Especially so because I ran the other morning with my sweet Hna Nunja  for the first time since I left TN, and I was in heaven :) Granted, my idea of heaven was rudely interrupted by the small posse of perros who started jogging alongside us. Poor Hna  Nunja - who has a serious phobia of all the dogs here, and based on what I've told you all about the ARG dogs, you can imagine how big of a problem that is - she was practically going into cardiac arrest, so I crossed the street, all the dog followed me, and when we arrived at out pension otra vez (again), I counted 8 different dogs in my wake. Well, at least I know I have some friends in San Nicolas, ha ha :)  

Also, we had dinner with my wonderful Bishop, Augustin Arancibia esta semana, and his wife, Camila, made us PANCAKES for desert. Seriously, I was - yet again - in heaven :) It is SO strange how quickly food asi can make my day. However, I loved the homemade pancakes, and thought of my Mom and her yummy whole wheat pancakes! Divine. 

Overall I think a theme of this past week for me, has really been pride. Not necessarily in other people, but in myself. For starters, on that note I'm going to officially apologize for the email that I sent out a few weeks ago when I first arrived. I cant remember exactly what it said, but something along the lines of how I thought the missionaries who had served here over the past few years had bad attitudes, and for that, the members thought the work was impossible, but Hna nunja and I were determined to change that and baptize a ton!!

Oh, please... 

Ha ha, looking back on that, I really have to laugh. Not because I believe that there is anything wrong to have an attitude and desire to work to accomplish such a goal as this, but I am honestly a little ashamed by how prideful that also sounds. During my mission, and also due to the examples of my parents and family, I have recently learned a principle of how we should regard other people. It is SO important to remember how important we are to our Heavenly Father, and how much He loves us - equally important is to remember that our Heavenly Father loves everyone else just as much :) Always remember that God loves her/him with the same love, has given her talents to work in areas that you perhaps cannot, and has filled her mind with inspiration in times when He has not done the same for you. You make such an impact on others - and so has she (previous missionaries) :)  

Do you see what I mean when I apologize for the attitude I had about the previous missionaries? May you never fall into the same trap - always remember how special YOU are - and how special `she` is as well :) `she` might be your friend - a neighbor - or a random person on a bus. Never forget how valuable you are, and have the courage to remind others of the same. We all need the comfort that comes from knowing that we are children of a Heavenly Father who loves us, and we love him :) May you have enough love to overcome your fears or hesitations to speak to others, open your mouths to share this reminder with those who need it most - those who may not have the truth just yet :)  

On that note, never forget how much I love you all!! I remember specific memories and lessons that I have learned from each one of you - something as simple as a YW lesson that you may have taught, or the time that you simply gave me a hug :) I love you all - and I hope YOU know that I think you are special :) 

And with that mushy love, I'm off to work yet again :) Onward, EVER onward!! May we never look back, and keep our eyes and lives focused on the only One who has power to save :) 

Love, Hna Lake

Monday, October 7, 2013

Week #32 - Well.... this is going to be short...

... and by short, I mean non existent :) Sorry, I used all my time emailing back my family -something that was desperately needed, and long over due!  

Know that I love you all!!  Ciao! 
Hna Lake

Hna Nunja made tortilla de espinaca - basically a spin off of crepes, but super delicious all the same! Also, her garlic rice? Amazing!

By the RIVER PARANA! Yep, I changed areas, and moved a few hours away, and am still on the river Parana :) I'd be happy if it stayed that way for my whole mission!! There is something homey about polluted and dirty river water... haha :) The best part? I don't know if you can really see it in this picture, but some farmer managed to bring his cows out to graze on a little island in the middle of the river. Were walking along when we heard mooing... on that note, can cows swim? No idea.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Week #31 - I have arrived!

Dear Loved Ones, 

Good morning all!! It's a beautiful day here in San Nicolas, and I couldn't be happier :) I was thinking about all I have to update since I wrote last, and realized that it goes allllllll the way back to Melina's baptism! SO nuts. That was only a week ago, and yet I feel like I've been here in San Nicolas for a month at least, ha ha :)

To top off my time in Parana, Melina's baptism was amazing :) Ramiro Escalada baptized here, and HUGE amount of the ward turned out to support. It was such a blessing, because I was able to see a lot of the members before I headed out. It was so sweet to hear all the expressions of love from the members, and spend some time with them. What a blessing that ward has been for me!! Hna Miranda, Hna Gomez and Hna Negro were hard to leave - I love those girls! Especially since Hna Miranda is on a few more days of bed rest and literally can't move, it was a tough thing to leave her in that situation. But, I know that Lord will take care of her! 
With Virginia and all the kidlet crew - Cata, Luci, Octavio, y Carmela :) They brought me a stack of letters to the baptism, and a cute little notebook so that I could write them letters - along with a blue pen! They knew that was my favorite color, so they searched all the Kioscos until they found me a blue one :) I love this family!! 

I headed to the mission home early on Wednesday morning, and was up and moving by 5:15am to be at the terminal early enough to catch a collectivo to Rosario. Once we got there, we made our way to the mission home, had a meeting with Presidente Giuliani, and finally was able to find out who our new companions are! I am currently serving with.... dum dum dum... HNA NUNJA!! Ha ha, that means nothing to any of you (YET!), but she is amazing. She is the oldest of 4 children, from Peru, and has more faith and excitement for this work than any other missionary I've seen! I am so blessed to be companions with her, and am ridiculously excited :) 
Hna Giuliani, Hna Nunja, Yo y Presidente Giuliani!! 
 We made our way to San Nicolas Wed night,and had a great welcoming crew waiting for us!! Our zone leaders - Elder Rubio (nope, hes not blonde) and Elder Valladares (who was in my zone in Parana!) were waiting to help us find our pension, and waiting in front of our pension was our Bishop, dutifully stationed to help us carry our suitcases to our apartment (3 flights of stairs by the way. That was an adventure, ha ha :) Once we actually got into our apartment, added to the welcoming crew was the stinking HUGE spider on our wall, and 3 avocados in the fridge :) Needless to say, I was thrilled :)

 Although we woke up thoroughly exhausted on Thursday morning, we set off to work! Unpacked, and pulled out the area book to make a game plan. We visited a ton of less actives and members this work, and are working on getting to know the ward. The ward here in San Nicolas is WONDERFUL! They have such a love for the missionaries (we have lunches with a member every single day! For the next MONTH!. I'm still trying to wrap my mind around that concept), and functions wonderfully. After having the opportunity to meet all members this Sunday, I was thinking last night about Hna Nunja and my purpose here. Truthfully, the Lord has given me a situation that is seemingly perfect - an amazing companion, a great ward, and wonderful mission leaders. With all these great ingredients, what is the Lord whipping up here in San Nicolas? Ha ha, After thinking about it, I realized that Hna Nunja and I are going to play a very important role in San Nicolas. The ward has listened to too many complaints and lamentations from the other missionaries who have served here over the years, and have a dampened attitude for the work here because of it. Almost every single member who greeted us said `Welcome to San Nicolas! We`re going to warn you right now though - the work here is really hard, and the people are really hard.` After this was repeated with almost every single member in the ward, I began to realize what our purpose is here - Hna Nunja and I need to reanimate the ward members here, and prove to them that the Lord is preparing people in every single city, in every single town, and that frankly, there is nothing special about the people here. The work is just hard everywhere in the world, ha ha :) The work is hard, because salvation is hard. But not impossible :)  

With that in mind, Hna Nunja and I are determined to find, teach, and baptize here in San Nicolas. Not because we desire this for ourselves, but because the ward, the people, need a reminder that the Lord is in charge of HIS work. We`re off to change the attitudes of every member in our ward - wish us luck , ha ha :)  

With all that sermon, here's a few more highlights of the week:

1) Elder Vasquez (District Leader) called us and asked if there was anything we needed from the mission home. I told him that Hna Nunja had forgotten her tennis shoes there, but mixed up the words :) I asked him if they could bring Hna Nunja her zapallitos(little squash) instead of zapatillas (tennis shoes), ha ha!  

2) Miracle of the Sunday! We asked for references on Sunday, and were given 2 from a member - la familia Gazzoni.  However, she couldn't remember the address of her friend, and promised to give it to us later. However, later that night we were walking back from a leccion with had with a menos activos, when we started talking with a woman who was walking along side us on the sidewalk. We started talking with her, and about halfway through our conversation, we realized that she was the exact same woman who Hna Gazzoni had referred us to earlier that day! So, we figured out where she lives, and left her with a testimony :)  

Basically, I am loving life. I have never worked harder in my life, never been more exhausted, and have never been happier (and that's saying a lot!! Ha ha :) I love you all, and encourage you all to think about what you can do this week to go the extra mile. When we fulfill all the Lord asks us to do, we are promised blessings. When we do more than what is expected? Miracles.  

With faith and a good attitude, there is nothing we cannot do! 

Love, Hna Lake

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Week #30 - A Week of Miracle and Cripples

Hola Todos!! 

Well... this week was nuts!  Like, really!! As the subject line says, it was a week full of miracles and cripples! I`ll just tell the story, and let you figure out which is which, shaaaallll we?  

For starters, for those who remember, Hna Miranda wiped out on her first week in the mission and dislocated her right knee. Right? Right. Anyway, since you all don't have the chance to meet her and know her super-hilariously-stubborn personality, I`ll let you in on a secret - she has a super-hilariously-stubborn personality!! Basically, she decided that no doctor was going to tell her what to do and wrapped a bandage around her knee, took some major pain killers, and went out to work! One year and 4 months later, this stubbornness resulted in blowing out her meniscus. We were walking to the chapel to work on something for the Bishop, when she suddenly gasped and fell against the wall, and literally couldn't walk anymore. Her knee gave out - Ka poot.  Luckily, we were still close to the pension, and slowly (emphasis on slowly) made our way back. A few phone calls to Hna Giuliani and the mission doctor later, we were prescribed ice, minimal walking, and absolutely no going up and down stairs. That last restriction was a particularly difficult as we live in an upstairs apartment, haha :) Soo, the last 4 days have been spent inside our pension. To keep myself from going insane, I've taken up all sorts of activities, which include the following: 

1) organizing and cleaning everything in our apartment that isn't bolted down. And then going back and organizing and cleaning everything that IS bolted down as well, ha ha :)  

2) Experimenting and successfully triumphing in making brownies! (also, since it is the end of transfers and we had bare minimal food/I couldn't go to the store to buy any ingredients, the recipe got realllly creative. The brownies included chocolate milk powder and malta. But hey, they turned out seriously delicious :) 

3) Crochet. No really!!!. I'm learning crochet, and am determined to mail home a whole bunch of slightly lumpy looking scarves for Christmas. Sorry about the lumpy looks... seems I don't have the knack for knotting yarn artistically, ha ha :)  

4) Listening to the Les Miserables and Wicked soundtrack through about 4 times each. Hna Miranda finally begged me to change the songs, haha.  

5) Discovering the band, Jericho Road, on Karis' blue MP3 that I took with me, and getting a hoot out of reliving Eden and my early teenage years, haha. For those unfamiliar with Jericho Road, imagine Mormon Backstreet boys... its pretty great :)  

6) I made another batch of one of my favorite Chilean recipes - pan con anis! I love these sweet rolls, and made about 3 dozen yesterday. Then, reasoned that the bread would go bad in the humidity pretty quickly, and promptly ate about 2 dozen in the first 24 hours. Totally worth it.  

As you can see, its been a pretty creative week, haha :)  

Ready for the next story? This is a good one :) So, background - before I arrived in Paran, Hna Miranda and her previous companion (Hna Avaloz) had prayed over the area book and all the previous investigators, and felt to pass by and visit only one family -the Ceparo family. When I arrived, we always planned to try and visit them, but it always fell through, and never actually happened. Finally, after a whole transfer of planning for them, we finally managed to pass by the house, only to discover that they no longer lived there, and had moved. Phooey. Not knowing how else to find them, we moved on.  

A little while later, we were talking with Melina - the novia of Ramiro, a 17 yr old member in our ward. Melina originally had no interest in the church, and only came to activities or meetings with Ramiro to support him. However, we invited her again to talk with the missionaries, and this time, she accepted. So, about a month ago, we headed out to meet with her and all her family. The lesson went wonderfully, and we quickly realized how amazing this family was. Turns out, the mom had found the church almost 20 yrs ago, and since then, the LDS missionaries always somehow end up in their lives. Melina told me that as long as she can remember, the LDS missionaries have been visiting their family, and that every time something bad happened in their family, the LDS missionaries ¨just so happen¨ to pass by, and the Lord brought them back into their lives.  

Later that week, we were in a ward council, and told our ward leaders about this great lesson we´d had with Melina and her family. Facundo - the first counselor - said, ´Oh yeah, I know her older sister, and have met that family. The Ceparo family¨... as soon as we heard ¨Ceparo¨-Hna Miranda and I just looked at each other. It was the same family that we had tried to find before!!  

Fast forward to this past Sunday - we were again talking with Melina, and mentioned to her that transfers were this Tuesday. She looked shocked and said ¨What? But I wanted to get baptized before either of you left!? Hna Miranda said ¨Okay, well, then you`d have to get baptized on Tuesday since transfers are Wednesday¨. Melina said ¨Let me think about it during the Sunday School class¨. During the lesson, Melina raised her hand, bore a powerful testimony about the Book of Mormon, and after the class was over, came to us and asked ¨Does Tuesday at 8 o clock work for you¨?  

And just like that folks, Melina is getting baptized tonight :) What an AMAZING miracle!!  

Dang. I gave away the secret. That last story was the miracle :)  

As if that wasn't enough, I got a phone call from the Assistants this morning. I am being transferred out of Parana, and am being called to serve in an area called San Nicolas, in the south of the mission, and am training a new missionary who will be arriving tomorrow. Oof. Hang in there for the next bit of this adventure - this is going to be a serious period of faith and dependence upon the Lord, since I am still learning the language and how to be an effective missionary. I wouldn't nominate myself to train, but the Lord went ahead and did that without asking my opinion first, ha ha :)  

I´ll send a picture of my new companion and new area next week!! I am so excited -there is no thrill in this world like knowing you are a tool in the Lord's hand, and feeling His presence in your life. To heck with skydiving - I get an adrenaline rush from preaching the Gospel, ha ha :)  

I love you! And I am so excited for this next trial of my faith! We will work miracles in San Nicolas, I know it :)  

Love, Hna Lake 

P.S. I still want to go skydiving though. 

P.P.S. Mom!! San Nicolas is close to Buenos Aires!! did you ever serve in an area close to it?