Monday, April 28, 2014

Week #61 Cockroaches!

Hey all!!  

This week has been a crazy, yet wonderful one! I feel like I say that every week, and seem to remember Eden doing the same thing during her mission - maybe its just a missionary thing :) 

We moved apartments this last week! After so many time in our little, hot pink apartment with Betun the crazy dog in front, we changed to another apartment close by, but larger. That being so, we are living with 2 other hermanas now! La Florida se dividio, and now there are two areas in the one ward, and the Hnas are in La Florida B (speaking of which, Karis, are you sure your call wasn't for La Florida here in Argentina? Double check - we`ve got a Florida here too :)  

We are living with Hna Matias and Hna Diorio - they are great! I got a giggle when the new hnas arrived - after all my time here in Argentina, I have never ever had an American companion, or even lived with another American, haha. That being so, nobody can get on my case when I get home and can't speak English to save my life, deal? You`ll see what I mean on Mother's Day - I'm a wreck, and I totally acknowledge it, haha :) I was straining the other day for a good 10 minutes because Hna Perez asked me how to say trash can, and I couldn't remember for the life of me, haha :) The good news is, writing emails each week in English and writing in my diario en Ingles helps as well (even though it doesn't seem like it since I just slipped into Spanish even saying that, haha. I left the typo just for the sake of irony)

Anyway, couple fun moments of the week? And we`ll put some miracles in there too - because in the work of the Lord, there are always a ton of miracles :)

1) There are a ridiculous amount of cockroaches in our new apartment! The good news, I think the Lord sends the destroying angel from Moses' time through our apartment each night, because when we get up in the morning, there are always 4 or 5 of them laying dead in our apartment. So that's good :) 

2) This little fun fact is about Hna Perez :) So, since she is from Spain, her Spanish is different from the Spanish here, and as she will quickly assure you, the CORRECT version, haha :) In Spain, the c, s, and z are all different sounds - but here in South America, they are all the same. So, when Argentines are writing, they will frequently switch around the c,s and z in words, and it drives Hna Perez CRAZY! She is a Nazi for spelling, and I get a serious giggle out of it, haha :) Anyway, this last week, we were in a lunch with a member, and they got into discussing whether zebra in Spanish is with a z or c - it was pretty funny, and I still don't have a clue who actually won that one. The funny part? Once we left, Hna Perez got so worked up, she got the hiccups and was hiccupping so much that she could barely talk. It was pretty hilarious :)  

3) Miracle of the week? We were able to talk with Micaela! She had a baptism date before, but then decided she never wanted to see us again, and that was a slight roadblock to her salvation. So, we haven't actually talked to her in a while, but through a really long story involving another really ticked investigator and a lost bus, we happened to run into her as she was walking home from school :) So, we were able to talk with her, set up an appointment, and she came to church on Sunday! Keep her in your prayers :)  

Speaking of which, here's your prayer homework:

1) Ruben and Carmen that their hearts will be softened and they will receive us again (See above note about angry investigator - really long story involving a miscommunication and a thereby missed lunch appointment. Basically, test of their faith nada mas :) 

2) Micaela and Veronica that she will receive an answer to her prayers of whether the church is true

3) Miriam that she can find a job so that she has the money to find an apartment so that she isn't living on the streets, so she can get baptized

4) Soledad and Ezequiel, that we can receive inspiration for the needs of Soledad - she has suffered a lot, and she literally never says a word. We don't really know what she is thinking or what she needs - only heavenly help answers that one I think :) 

5) Sebastian, that he can quit smoking and receive the answer that he and Deboah should get married so they can get baptized (sad story on that one - he used to be a counselor in a bishopric in Santa Fe, but fell hard and now his pareja quiere bautizarse and cannot.

So, keep them in mind - I know that prayers really do have an effect, and that many times we simply need to pray with faith for a miracle in order to receive it :) And as Brian - my now brother in law - advised me before my mission, I always pray to feel the prayers of my family and friends, so thanks  :) 

I love you all! I am doing so great, and Hna Perez and I are trying to hard to work hard in our area and do our best!  

Love, Hna Lake :)

Monday, April 21, 2014

Week #60 The Power of Prayer

Hola Querido's!!!  

First off, Happy Easter to everyone!! I hope and pray that it was a beautiful, reverent Easter for all involved :) Sometimes, on holidays such as these, I have a hope that there will be a music number or choir involved since the music brings such a spirit to the hymns, but no such luck. Then again, that might be better off since there are very few people here in Argentina who have the ability to actually sing in key, haha :) At the beginning of my mission, I started giggling during Sacrament meeting many times because of the 200 part harmony going on, total accidental :) I`ve gotten a little better and now manage to hold the giggles to a minimum... Most of the time :) 

This past week was a wonderful one here on my side of the country! Couple fun facts? 

1) We were walking through a poorer area of Alberdi this last week, when I noticed a really strange, ugly looking animal on the side of the road. We got a little closer and I realized it was a huge, really dirty, slightly scary looking.. sheep. Haha :) I have no idea whose it is, but I asked a member, and they told me that one of their neighbors has it has a pet, and it just runs wild through the neighborhood. I thought about trying to take a picture to show you all, it was so hilarious to me, but decided it probably wouldn't be too good to bring a camera through that part of town. So, you`ll just have to use your imagination :) 

2) Hna Courtney Smith, this ones for you! this last week, I was in a lesson when a song came on in the other room - 'time to say goodbye`!! I had flashbacks of Winchester, smiled and thought of you :) 

3) We also ate with our neighbors this last week, the wife is from Brazil! for Brayden, Mason, Jacob and the other 20 friend of mine who have all served in Brazil (no, but seriously, that's the place to be) and Taylor who is there right now, you might recognize the food. We had fejuada con farina as well? Basically, a rice and black beans with a whole lot of (mystery) meat, and some farina on top - it looked like corn meal? It was pretty good, though I was a little wary of the meat, haha :)  

4) We are moving this week! Seems that even from USA, my family is contagious :) We will be moving to a bigger apartment so that we have room to live with the two new hermanas who will live with us, but work in a different area - La Florida  We are excited! Mainly because a new apartment means new things! And all I know, is that if I cook another day in this frying pan that we have, I`ll probably be eating more metal than food with all that flakes off while you are cooking, haha :) I`ll send fotos next week!  

I have been learning so much this last transfer about my Savior. Especially about the power of prayer! That is a byproduct of feeling the Spirit - we are touched by the presence of our Father, and something within us yearns to further that relationship. I have been studying much about prayer, and specifically thinking about the power of asking in prayer. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God, but to secure for ourselves and others blessings that God is already willing to grant by that are made conditional upon our asking for it. (BD)  Many times, I think I use prayer as a laundry list of things that I would like to have, without really deeply preparing and realizing that I am talking with the same Being who created the world in which I reside and the body with which I am speaking. When we really begin to understand the nature of God, we begin to understand our own nature as His children. He wishes to grant us blessings and to help us, but many times, withholds these blessings simply because we do not ask for them, with the sincerity and faith necessary for them to be granted. There are numerous scriptures in which He commands us to ask Him, yet again showing His disposition to grant these blessings if we but ask. Even repentance and forgiveness is dependent upon our own asking for it. Matthew 7:7-8, Matt 7:11, James 1:5-6, Mosiah 4:10. All scriptures that speak of this principle of `prayer`. One of my favorites is 1 Ne 15:8-9,11, where we see the example and difference of a family conversation with 3 different brothers. Two of whom- Laman and Lemuel - lacked this faith, and didn't even have the belief to ask. This is paralleled with Nephi, and the bounteous blessings and revelations that he received simply because he asked.  

 8 And I said unto them: Have ye ainquired of the Lord?

 9 And they said unto me: aWe have not; for the Lord maketh no such thing known unto us.

 11 Do ye not remember the things which the Lord hath said?—If ye will not harden your hearts, and aask me in bfaith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments,surely these things shall be made known unto you.

Also, I am attaching a talk that I read this last week that really helped me learn and apply this principle - of how to better my communication with Him.

I love you all! I love hearing from you, even though I know you are all passing through difficult moments right now. We are all called to pass through difficulties, even though they may be different from one another. trials of faith, of obedience, of health? All things that I know each one of us are called to pass through in some moments. However, just as surely as I know that this gospel is true, I know that if we turn to Him, he will help us. He has promised his angels to lift us up, and He always keeps his word.  

I love you, I pray for you, and I know that through our earnest and sincere prayer, we can receive the help we need to move forward, and to move forward with increased faith :)

love, love love!  

Hna Hillbill :)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Week #59 The Gospel Message is God's Gift to the World!

Hey everyone!  

This week was good! (yet another reason sometimes I get sick of writing about my week - I feel like I say the same things every time, ha :) A little interesting. I cant remember if I have written much about this before, but Argentina is pretty rough on the economic side of things right now. The inflation on the peso is incredible, and if I remember right, I think its $1 for 12 pesos at the moment - incredible high. That being so, there are quite a few problems in Argentina with that - the prices of everything going up, but the salaries staying the same. I have seen many different strikes going down in Argentina during my mission, but the biggest one yet happened this last week, here and in Buenos Aires. From what I understand, various people were killed, but all in BA and nothing too bad here.  

I tell you all this not to make you worry, but to help paint the picture for the incredible experiences we had this last week. With all the troubles that are happening economically right now, there are so many families suffering. There is another very real problem with drugs and the law of chastity, and it is very common to see an 18 year old girl with 2 children along her side - in Parana, I met a girl who was 13 years old, and already pregnant. I literally felt my heart would break just looking at her. With the pregnancy rate so high, High School dropouts are very common, and few people have the education necessary to provide for their family. This past week, we passed various families searching through dumpsters, just trying to find something to feed their family. Perhaps the most heart wrenching was yesterday when we past a young teenage girl, searching for food while her little cried weakly in his stroller - it was the worst, because we literally had nothing to give her, other than a hug and a Book of Mormon.  

This was a little of our theme this last week. On Thursday, we were walking to a lunch with a member when we passed a mom and her daughter on the curb, all their belongings in a plastic wrapped shopping cart eating a packet of crackers. Hna Perez and I headed into a nearby store, and bought all we could - bread, ham and some crackers, but when we went back to where they were seated, they had already gone. We searched almost 5 blocks in every direction, but didn't find them anywhere. After our lunch, we were determined to try and find them, and began walking through the parks and streets, contacting any needy people we came across. We spoke with Susanna for quite some time, a woman who had a beautiful life before with a car, job and family, but lost everything because of abuse and hatred. now, she lives on the street with her family scattered through all Argentina, and doesn't know where her children are. we hugged her, gave her some food, and taught her to pray. She was thrilled by the relief she felt when she truly learned how to speak with someone who understood her. She said one of the most beautiful and simple prayers I have yet heard, and it makes me tear up just thinking about it :)

Next was another homeless man, who vehemently rejected our help, and yelled all sorts of stuff about us. No thrown mashed potatoes were involved, haha, but it was still an adventure :)

We then met Javier, an incredible, incredible man. He has lived on the streets, homeless since he was 18 years old - most than 15 years. His body has been wasted by cheap wine, but he has one of the most genuine smiles I have yet seen. We sat alongside him on the sidewalk and just talked for almost 45 minutes, and learned so much about this man who had - has- so much potential. He loves basketball, martial arts, and accounting... that amazed me. Who on earth loves accounting? haha :) But he never had someone who believed in him and the talents he has and here is where he ended up. We talked to him a lot about goals, about the blessings it is to have a father who will always believe in us, and invited him to church. He is such a good man, and I hope that he finds the faith to change.  

Overall, it was really an incredible week. Difficult at times, but only because I feel so effected by the suffering here - I love these people so, and wish they could recognize the light we bring them.  

Truly, I think the lesson I have learned the most during my mission is exactly this - that there is no wrong, no sacrifice in this life that cannot and will not be made right through the atonement of Jesus Christ. I know my Savior lives, and that he knows how to help us - we only need to let him :) 

I am so sorry! I realized going through and reading this that perhaps I sound a little weighed down or depressed - I promise that is not the case! I really am happy and doing well - how can we be anything but when we do the service of the Lord? :)  

Also, Owl city just came on through the cyber speakers, so I'm happy :) Haha. 

I love you all so! How grateful I am for your testimonies and efforts to live the gospel - the only thing that will ever make us happy in this life. Have the courage and love to always try to share that gift with others. How proud I am for all the examples of my family and friends who have served such worthy missions, and for your continuing efforts as members to lift the weary hands and strengthen feeble knees :) This gospel is the greatest message we have and the gift the world needs to hear!  

I love you alll!! 

Love, Hna Hillbill :)