Monday, February 24, 2014

Week #52 A Week of Miracles

Hey gang!!  

First off - I'm really sorry, but this week is going to be a short email :) Basically for two reasons - a) I have used up all my time reading all the amazing miracle-emails I received this week from some of my very best of friends, and b) because I am an emotional wreck from reading all of these said emails and keep tearing up every 3 minutes, haha :)  

Seriously guys? This week was the biggest week of miracles I have seen in my whole life - both on my side of the continent and on yours :) I got emails telling me of the love and miracles that happened with my family - beautiful Valentines Days, the weddings of two of my bestest friends, along with beautiful emails from some of my family. Seriously!! I was floored by all of the miracles that are happening in my family - why the freak am I so blessed? I really don't even know :) 

Since you have all relayed to me about the beautiful miracles that happened yàlls week, I think it is my turn :) Let's put it this way - on Sunday, we had 2 different investigators in the chapel! Antonio - our sweet Señor , whom we are striving to help strengthen his faith to accept his baptismal date, and Jose Luis, a backpacker whom we contacted in a park here in Centro. He basically backpacks from place to place, and has never felt happy. We gave him a Book of Mormon, invited him to church, and found him a job through the wife of our bishop. On Sunday, he came to church 30 minutes early so that we could give him a tour of the chapel and explain the different meetings, etc. He had a great experience, and we have a lesson with him in the house of Bishop Arancibia this week. Pray for him! We are trying to get him more grounded here, so that we can invite him to be baptized. 

Another miracle of the week - one day, we were literally running to our next appointment when we ran across Alberto. He is an older gentlemen and an investigator of the previous Hnas. Hna Nunja and I took his name from the area book when we arrived. We had taught him a few times, but he never progressed due to work caring for his wife who had Parkinson's disease. This all went down about 5 months ago, and we haven't seen him since. On Friday, we ran into him in the street and he told us that he had been thinking of us because his wife had passed away in December, and he was in bad shape. He wanted us to come and visit him and he wanted to come to the church on Sunday. We went to visit him on Saturday night, and he told us that he was reading to change his life and turn himself over to the Lord. Hna Condori asked him how he intended to do that, and he answered `with a baptism`. We invited him to baptized right then and there and are working with him a ton :) Here is the stinking huge miracle: At the beginning of this transfer, Hna Condori and I decided that there was a reason that we were still together, and that there were miracles to be performed. So, we prayed together and put the goal to have a baptism this transfer. It was a huge goal since there hasn't been an investigator baptism in years in Centro, but we had the faith and obedience to ask God for a miracle. We made a sign that says "Our goal: one baptism!" and put it above our beds, and prayed every night for help to achieve this goal. The amazing thing? To be baptized, someone has to attend the church at least 2 times. That rule being so, Saturday night - the night that we invited Alberto to be baptized - is literally the last POSSIBLE day that we could have found someone to accomplish our goal. I was floored, and just started crying as we walked home. The Lord works SUCH miracles, no matter the people, or situation. I love this work, and I love you all!!! 

Love, Hna LAke :)

Monday, February 17, 2014

Week #51 - Congratulations to Riss and Mason!

Hey Fam!! 

First off, congrats to Trey and Riss!! I am SO thrilled for you both - I'm glad that Riss found someone worthy of all her pint-sized-snarkiness, and that Mason found someone who will put up with his animal sounds :) And yes, although I am slightly humored by the number of "Mason and Carissa kissing pictures" that showed up in my inbox this morning, I am beyond thrilled for you both :) And props to all the Stewart, Pettit and Demars crew that pulled off the wedding and wedding reception - it sounded amazing, beautiful!!  I am putting myself on a waiting list for Janae's salsa bar!! 

Its been a good week! Couple fun facts:

1) I taught Hna Condori how to `beatbox` - yep, that'd be me, the Mormon white chick. It led to a few hilarious moments when she would be practicing - aka, spitting all over the place - and someone walked by offering her a seriously concerned look. 

2) You should all be proud of me - I have lasted this long in Argentina, and think I have only complained about the abundance of Mayonnaise in EVERY dish but a few times. I was reminded this past week about something I decided long ago -  Pandora's box contained mayonnaise. 

Miracle of the week! My little sister Jaylee sent me a hilarious email dictated through the iPhone gadget Siri resulting in many mistypings and hilariousness. However, one of her questions was about my miracles of the week. Ready? Antonio Cortez, our investigator, attended church for the second time this week! It went wonderfully - we bent over backwards, calling what felt to be the whole ward to make sure that he had someone to help him in the classes, sit with him in the sacrament meeting, bring him to and from the church, etc. We did everything humanly possible to help him have a good experience in church, and I know that the Lord really blessed us for doing so.  Pray for him that he can continue to progress and to understand the Book of Mormon - we are trying hard to help him progress to baptism, and I have faith in the prayers of all my faithful family and friends :) Keep him in mind? Thanks :) 

I love this work! I have though much lately about the Christlike attribute of diligence. Preach My Gospel tells us that diligence is a way to show our love for Heavenly Father by continuing to move forward, cheerfully, even when you are so worn through physically and emotionally that you don't know how you can. In thinking about this, I realized that if diligence is Christlike attribute, it is also an attribute of our Heavenly Father. And just the same as our diligence is a manner of showing our love for Him, I know that His continued and tireless work for thousands and thousands of years, with millions of lives, is to show His love for us. I know that every soul is great in the sight of God, and for that, He is diligent :)  

I love you all!! Have a wonderful week! 

Hna Lake 

P.S. Quote of the week:  

´Sus ojos son ladrones! 

Uno roba mi sonrisa,

El otro mi corazon!!` 

- That one argentine guy in the street, haha :)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Week #50 Rain, Rain, Go Away!!!

Hey fam! 

 

My friend, Hna Shaleah Anderson, currently serving in Costa Rica, sent me an email this past week that said, "What's up with the weather there in Argentina?" It sounds like every week you are in a different part of the world! ¨I just laughed and told her that she pretty much nailed it :) This week's theme was - flash floods! 

No really! 

I was told by a member that it has rained 300 cm in this past week, which is normally how much it rains in about 6 months in Argentina. We had flash floods running through the street of el centro, and one night I literally almost fell over when I stepped into the street because the current in the street was running so strong. All of wetness has also brought a rather enjoyable plague of crickets, and we leave our apartment building every morning to find a good pile of them dead in front of our door from hopping all during the night. There are some mornings when we leave to find the ground literally black with little beetles and crickets.  

On a side note, that leads me to a rather fun fact - I discovered this last week that Hna Condori has a slightly irrational fear of crickets, haha :) That's led to some fun moments.  

Fun facts of the week:

1) I made some CDs of some new music! We were making CDS of the EFY music on the Church website when I stumbled across something on our church computer - a CD album of the Tennessee Nashville Tribute Band!! For those that remember, they are basically the poster children of the TN Nashville Mission, where I was serving for 3 months waiting for my VISA. I made a CD of it and have been enjoying a few throwbacks to good old time in TN :)  

2) We made more Peruvian hot chocolate! Seriously, I'm never going back to normal. I am a hardcore fan with the oatmeal :) 

3) This last week, we were walking through the streets when someone called out to us from a garage slash bar - one of our investigators! Haha, so, we walked on up chatted with him and contacted a few people in the bar who started asking us where we were from. It was a jolly adventure :)  

4) Hna Condori recently discovered the recording ability on our cell phone, and made a recording of her yelling at herself to wake up, and put it as the alarm to wake us up at 6:30 every morning. It was pretty funny the first time, but after that, I just woke up with the gut instinct to whack my companion since it was her screaming voice waking me up so early, haha :) We should probably change the alarm. 

5) I started my third mission journal this past week! I have always loved journaling, and finished my second journal this past week - I love starting new ones :)  

6) Hna Condori has started a rather strange habit of sneaking up on me and biting my arm when I am not looking, haha :) It has resulted in some pretty hilarious moments when I am trying to pray at night or when I am getting ready in the mornings. On a side note, my companion is crazy :)  

Overall, its been a wonderful week! I have really been thinking and learning a lot about the parable of the sower, as we find in Luke:
 

¶And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spake by a parable:

 A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it.

 And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture.

 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it.

 And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

 

I love the Savior's ability to teach us through parables, and have really learned a lot from this one; namely that we have control over whether we will receive and allow the love of God to grow within us. Some would like to see themselves as the seeds - carelessly thrown by a careless sower, and it is His fault that they fall among bad ground, and blame Him for the failures in their life. Then, there are those who see themselves as the ground, and do all they can to rely upon the sower to change themselves so that the seed can grow. Then, there are those who have done this process, and progressed to become the sower themselves, bringing the changes about in those around them.
I always want to use my agency to be a sower. Success doesn't come when the situation changes, but rather, when the person changes.
I love you all!!   Hna Lake

Monday, February 3, 2014

Week #49 Ched-dar Cheese!!!

Hey family!!  

First off, disclaimer - sorry I'm a loser and have wimped out and only sent pictures for the last few weeks. However, I'm sitting down and writing out a GOOD email home, so... hopefully that makes up for something, right? If not, tough, cause I can't do anything else. (on that note, I've been trying really hard to figure out how to say the equivalent of ´tough´ in Spanish, and so far, haven't had any luck. I did however, figure out how to say ´get over it´, which translates to ´aguantatela´, haha :)  

It's been an awesome week!! Since I'm sure you are all going through withdrawals because of my drought of fun facts, let's see if I can come up with some good ones, eh? And if I can't think of any good ones, I´ll just invent a few, and you can try to guess which ones are which - it's like two truths and a lie, but with a little nicer of a name, since missionaries can't lie :) 

1) This past week, I was trying to ask Hna Condori if she put the area code in a number that we were trying to call. I was a little distracted since I was making lunch, and ended up asking her if she had remembered to put the ¨codo¨ in front of the number, instead of ¨codigo¨. She started cracking up, and then I realized I was asking her about elbows, and not about area codes :) Close enough, right?  

2) It's finally cooling off! That's the good part. The bad part is, we´ve pretty much been in a constant thunderstorm mode for the last 4 days. Then again, in my book, that's a good thing :) It's almost a little embarrassing how much I love thunderstorms. Sometimes when we´re walking, I´ll stick my arms out all dramatic like with all the wind throwing my hair around, and pretend I'm Storm from Xman for a second. Then my comp looks at me like I'm crazy, and I keep walking :) That little story happens about 3 times a week, haha :)  

3) I discovered cheddar cheese here! Sure, they pronounce it like I would imagine a British man saying - ´I would like some ched-dar chap, thanks´- with a long a, but hey. It's still good. (and the best part of that fun fact is admitting that I have been given reason to wonder how a British man would pronounce the name of this cheese) 

4) I think I have had my hair in a bun for so long after the loooong hot summer (cue the country song by Keith Urban - Riss, you sing it gurl :) that I am literally losing the ability to have my hair suelto. Or down. Cualquier de los dos, haha :)  

Also, ready for a few miracle stories of the week? Transfers have come and gone, and Hna Condori and I are still working together here in San Nicolas! I believe that the Lord is really trying to teach us patience, and how to really depend upon Him. I know some people don't like change, but sometimes in life, the change is what pushes us and helps us to learn. For me, it is often more difficult when no changes occur, and I am fighting to not feel like I am stagnant. However, I know that after so much hard work here in San Nicolas, we are starting to see the miracles.  

Miracles number 1 - this last week, we went to visit an older man named Antonio. We had planned to have a charla franca con him, to decide if he were going to continue visiting him or not, since he wasn't really progressing or keeping his commitments. We entered the lesson with a prayer in our hearts to know how to handle the situation, and asked him if he had read in the Book of Mormon. It is SO crucial to read in the Book of Mormon to help us continue to progress in our lives, and is difficult to really help someone change when they aren't doing their part. He told us yes, and continued to tell us in great detail the story of Nephi and Lehi - for the first 5 CHAPTERS! The biggest miracle of all is that he understood almost everything. For him, it is really hard to understand, and it was a straight out miracle the he understood and read so much. We are thrilled, and going to visit him tonight :)  

Miracle number 2 - we went to visit Carl and Ezequiel, and couple who we contacted long ago, and have also been trying to help progress. They hadn't read in the Book of Mormon, so we decided to read with them, and started reading in the introduction. They both understood so well, and were asking questions about the angel, Moroni, the gold plates, and in what year was the Book of Mormon published? Pray that they will attend church - they are a little unstable in their commitment to change, and we love them dearly and want to help them how we can. They will need the prayers :)  

I love you all! I am so grateful for your emails and support! Thanks for being such wonderful people in my life, and may you always remember to center your life and home upon the Savior! I am reading the New Testament right now, with the desire to get to know the life of my Savior better and to familiarize myself with Him more. I invite you all to do the same, and testify that the only way to do so is through reading the scriptures, attending His church, and speaking with Him. He wants to hear you, and you need to hear Him. As my dear friend, Sister Anderson (currently serving in Costa Rica), told me a little while back, ¨The simple secret is this: Put your trust in Him, do your best, and let Him do the rest¨.

I love you!  

Love, Hna Lake :) 

P.S. Smile! It sure is a lot easier than being grumpy :) Being grumpy just gives you a headache.