Monday, December 30, 2013

December 30, 2013 - ¨With Increased Vision Comes Increased Motivation!¨‏

It was so amazing to talk to you all last week! I was talking to Hno. Correa after, and we were just saying how incredibly blessed we are to have technology that allows us to SEE each other across all these many miles. I´m so grateful for it!

This week was crazy. Lots of activities, reuniones, and ¨stuff¨....a lot of it was time worthy, and necessary. But so are sleep, studies, and health. All of which we´ve been lacking a bit lately. All last week I had a fever, ¨chicken skin¨,  and Hermana Flores and I were taking turns occupying the bathroom. In the midst of 110* San Juan Summer, it was a dreadful combination. She went to the farmacia while we were on intercambios, and they gave her something to supposedly ¨help¨...but that actually made our necesity del baño even worse. It was a fun couple days haha but now we´re back in the swing of things, and hopefully even lost a few of those extra pounds haha

I always love holidays, and Christmas always has a special place in my heart, but I have to say, celebrations sometimes make finding and teaching suffer... okay a lot. Saturday, we decided we were going to hit the pavement again, and both of us really felt impressed to work up norte. So out we went. We visited 8 or 9 antiguos, and some menos activos, and didn´t find a single person, and some of the houses were even burnt to the ground. A little bit confused, we said a prayer, and just told Heavenly Father that we trusted in the promptings we´d had, and had faith that there was someone in Norte that needed us. I suggested that we go try and find the last antiguo on the list. We walked along the street, and soon, as before, discovered that the address was wrong. So we decided to ask for help from some people that were sitting outside. We walked past a group of men, and quickly changed our minds. But then we saw a young, nice-looking couple sitting a few houses away.  Watching us. So we went up and started talking to them. Nicolas and Ivana are a newly married couple, with a 2 year old, Lourdes. They are FANTASTIC!! We had an awesome lesson about the Plan of Salvation, and they are excited to learn more about the gospel. They seriously reminded us so much of the Familia Sesma with their welcoming  us into their home, their desire to share about their lives with us, and their excitement and hunger to learn about Christ. We have high hopes for them! 

I´ve been thinking a lot this week about some of the things that have helped me to be the most successful on the mission. Yeah, I´ve started to get a little nostalgic. But in the motivating ¨Need to make the most of every moment¨ kind of way. 
I read the talk ¨Our Identity and Our Destiny¨by Tad R. Callister. It honestly is so thought provoking! It talks about how a greater understanding of our divine potential to become as our Father, when understood and applied in our lives  can change our perspective of the meaning of this life and the way we view ourselves and others. ¨It is critical to have a correct vision of this divine destiny of godliness because with increased vision comes increased motivation.¨
I thought about all of the times I sang ¨Soy un Hijo de Dios¨in Washington. And how many times, that was the key to getting into people homes and their hearts. 
Obviously the doctrine of ¨Godhood¨ isn´t something we teach in a first lesson... but it is a powerful tool that we as missionaries can use to develop the love, the compassion, the motivation, and to catch the vision that we need to make a difference in the lives of Heavenly Father´s children. 
We are all in this together. In this life, we are imperfect beings, full of weaknesses, trials, and shortcoming. But Heavenly Father is so aware of that. and HIS plan is perfect! 
I love this work. I love my Heavenly Father, and every day, my gratitude for his plan for me and each of us grows so much. And I love all of you!
May each of us look forward to this new year with a new  hope and anticipation of what we want and hope to accomplish. And then go out and DO. 
Love you all! 
xoxo Your Hermana C

*¨Can´t touch this!¨GEENIE pants are THE style here. 
everyone has them. And they´re WAY comfort! 
Comp Hermana Flores

*We wish you a merry Christmas!

*Ran into the beautiful Hermana Tanner 
in Mendoza! She´s going blonde too!

*The auditorium where we had the 40 year celebration of the church in San Juan
*Merry Christmas eve VIVI
*Christmas adaso
 *A Christmas to remember!!!
Candlelight Christmas Eve dinner with the Sesma Family.
The best adaso ever.  

We've made our mark.  So happy.

*our rare Whoo-ville roast beast! We bought a chicken from the market and threw spices on it, squished it into the only pan left after our others were "borrowed!"  We had Christmas dinner of chicken, rice and chocolate dessert! Yummm.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

December 23, 2013 - From Humble Beginnings

Hello My Dears!
This is going to be a little shorter, because... well, I get to SEE your cute faces in just a couple days!!!

This past weekend we had a Celebration here in San Juan to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Church en San Juan. The two stakes here rented out a huge, well-known auditorium, and there were photos and choirs to celebrate the choir, and the progression of the church. They recognized the pioneers of the church here, and all of the ecclesiastical leaders and their families. 

They talked a lot about the humble beginnings of the members here, and the trials they had to get the church going. 

After all of the youth choirs had finished, they had the final number, which was a medley of ¨I am a Child of God¨and ¨Called to serve¨. The girls started with I am a Child of God, and then the boys echoed with the first verse of called to serve. Then, From up at the top of the amphitheater, we joined in, all of us from both stakes, holding flags. We joined in and descended singing the second verse of Called to Serve. We joined them on the stage, and finished all together.
The spirit in that auditorium was tangible. As we marched down the stairs, and then looked out over the thousands of members, and many non-members, I was filled all over again with this amazing love and appreciation for this gospel. This work is powerful. You can´t deny it. 

Then, they did a segment on the Joseph Smith story. Talk about another HUMBLE beginning. But the impact of that simple boy and his sincere quest for the truth, is one that changed the world. 

I thought of the scripture in 1 Corinthians 1:27....¨...And God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.¨

During this Christmas season, I´ve been thinking a lot about another very humble, beginning. The circumstances of the birth of our Lord and King, Cristo. 
I thought about the stories of Mary. A young maid, pure, worthy, and humbly submitting to the will of the Lord. Joseph, a carpenter. He was a good man, and graciously accepted the responsibility of loving and caring for the earthly mother of the Son of God. And for the child who wasn´t his own.
Finally, Christ himself. Entered the world as a babe. Born in a stable, amongst animals, and wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.
The Lord had...HAS...ALL power. He could have arrived in the midst of fanfare and trumpets. A more obvious form of glory. 
But instead, a more sacred and intimate story. One that is celebrated and honored around the world. One that has left it´s mark on the hearts of so many. 
From the beginning, the plan of the Savior was to do the will of God, and to give all of the ¨glory¨to His Father.
Christ entered the world, humbly, and continued his life in grace, our perfect example, yet never failing to demonstrate the power of the calling that was divinely His. He lived for us, died for us, and was resurrected, that we too, might ¨gain all that the Father hath.¨ In all aspects, fulfilling the perfect plan of our loving Heavenly Father. Therin lies the glory, the splendor, and the power.

I pray that our hearts and homes be filled with the love of Christ this Christmas season. This holiday is His. And the perfect time to remember and give thanks for all that he has and continues to do for each of us each day. 

I love you all. SO MUCH!
until Wednesday,
xoxo Your Hermana C

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

December 16, 2013 - Q and A's and Photos

I am just realizing that we only have two more Mondays before Christmas and then we get to talk!!! YAHoooo!  
1.**Could you take a photo in front of somewhere that you feel represents where you are in the world. SEND IT BY NEXT WEEK! I didn't do a Christmas card, however will send a e-card to friends this year and wanted to include you.  If no time then I will use the cute one from the zoo!
1a. Do you have any info on a date or time or method of Christmas talk??1a. ;) not quite yet, but I will for sure let you know!
2.Do you need more money for the holidays?  I am really hoping that your packages arrive at least for new years!  2. I might need to take a bit more money out for Christmas stuff. ..... sad news. The civil unrest down here is a little bit ridiculous as of late. (don´t worry, I´m fine, just annoyed is all). .. . .but anyway. The post office, the only one near our area, has been ¨on strike¨for over a month, and who knows when they´ll be done. So your Christmas things will not be getting to you in time. And at this rate, I just decided to save the bigger gifts for when I come home...because, well, it will come fast...??
3. You have had a ton of opportunity to sing.  How has your voice held up?3. Hahahah my VOICE? what voice? It makes me laugh that I´ve had to sing so much. I don´t sing. but it´s been good. I love singing regardless.
4. have you had to use any of the oils on a regular basis?  Are you staying healthy?4. I´m actually pleasantly surprised that I haven´t had to use oils more. just a few ¨spot treatments¨here and there if you will. 
5. How do you pay for your food? Is what they give you in allowance enough to eat?
5. Yeah, we´ve been okay with food. We´re trying harder for member meals, but times are hard down here right now, and the members really don´t have a whole lot. Maybe I´ll lose some of my extra kilos :)
6. Did you get Ry and Davis' email?  I told them they should write at least 5 lines to let you know you are there and they love you and they both sat down and wrote on their own their half a page.  Ben said "of course we love Courtney, doesn't she know that we just don't love to write?" He will write this week and I think is banking on talking with you in 10 days!6. yeah, I did. And i REALLY appreciate their efforts. I know they love me, but honestly mail means so much. seriously even if they just wrote me a couple sentences a week or something. I am missing out on their lives, and I want to know what´s going on!
7. are there any Christmas traditions you like from Argentina?7. It honestly DOES NOT look like Christmas here. Apart from the fact that it´s like a bazillion degrees, the decor is very sparse. We´re hoping to at least track down some Santa Hats or Something to take a picture.
8.  Do you get to have dinner somewhere for Christmas or will you make it? 8. We´re spending Christmas Eve with Familia Sesma :) :) and then Christmas day at the home of some members in the other barrio that have 2 computers to SKYPE!!!!
10 Is it weird that it is so warm and almost Christmas?10 I can honestly say that for the first time in my life, I am missing the SNOW.and the mountains, and our Christmas decor, and the music. Not trunky, it´s just not beginning to look like Christmas here quite yet....
11.  Do they have pine trees decorated?11. Some people have itty bitty fake trees. They remind me of the one Davis and I had in our room as kids. 
*Bishop´s son, Joaquin. He wanted to show me his drawing of when he´s a missionary!  

             *Empanadas are some of the DEADLIEST things!
 (not gluten free, i thought i´d see if i became immune...nope.)
*Last pday we went to the dinosaur museum... because if there´s a building that says ¨Museum¨, with a giant ceramic dino out front, of course you would assume it´s a dinosaur museum, right?
Nope. False advertising folks.
*My favorite little street in this city. COLORS!

*It NEVER rains in San Juan!!!
*3 full hours in the downpour. I LOVED every minute!

*This one´s for you momma. food shot. 

*Paula Goldfarb 

* brown paper packages tied up with string!

December 16, 2013 - I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas!

Okay so it might not exactly be snowing here in endlessly sunny San Juan...But this weekend sure was full of visions in white! Familia Sesma: Mauricio, Viviana, Felipe, y Lourdes were BAPTIZED and CONFIRMED this weekend!! 
As usual it was a crazy but absolutely perfect process. 
We showed up to the church Saturday morning to ¨End the Drought¨. First baptism(s) in Barrio Centro for over a year and pico!!! As we started the font, we were surprised by muddy water and cockroaches!! Several long hours -and some fear-conquering- later (for some reason scuba-diving with roaches has never made it on my bucket list...?), but finally the font was clean. The water was a bit chilly, but at least it was free of the unwelcomed guests... 
Everyone showed up for the baptism, and Felipe had me in tears before we even got started as he walked out and did a little ¨How do I look?¨spin in his white jumper. 
The baptism was HERMOSO. and they literally were GLOWING as they went one-by-one into the font! I think that we all got our own little glimpse of heaven behind the scenes as they hugged and kissed each other, shivering, but smiling ear to ear.
Afterwards, as everyone was eating and chatting, I was standing back observing, like I do. Mauricio came up to me, and nudged my arm. ¨This is all your fault, you know!¨ I looked at him and shrugged. he just smiled, ¨In the best possible way!¨

Sunday morning was their confirmation, and it was every bit as amazing! The blessings that the bishop gave were full of promises. I felt like my heart was literally going to leap out of me as I felt the LOVE of Heavenly Father that his precious children had found their way back into his fold and family. AS A FAMILY. 
After, the bishop had them go up front, and then he did something that I´ve never seen before. He introduced them to the congregation, then the congregation to them, as their new ward family. Then, he turned to all of us, and said ¨All of you, who commit right now, to stand by this family, love them, support them, and encourage them for this next year, until they´re ALL in white, do so my raising your right hand.¨
Another overwhelming flood of emotions as everyone raised their hands. This family is going places in the gospel. They are in this thing for the long haul! 
We had our first ¨recent convert¨lesson with them last night, and they are now just dying to finish learning all the details of the temple. They have an interview with bishop on Tuesday to figure out details for the trip to Chile the last week of January, and they´re already marking their calendars for a year from now! 

I´ve been blown away each day this week as I write in my journal, as I listen to this family explain their ¨journey¨ to their friends. I´ve said from the beginning they´re not ¨normal¨. I´ve never met people more prepared, and more ¨chosen¨ in my life! The only response I can think of when people say ¨Congrats, Hermanas¨ ¨Bien hecho!¨... is ¨I,Hermana Cox, have done NOTHING.¨ The Lord knew from the beginning He wanted this family in His church, and He has done a perfect job of preparing them every step of the way. 

This gospel is magical. It changes lives. I know it. I see it every day. In the lives of these people, but more so in my own. Time is oh so short, but of eternal importance. Christmastime is a time of miracles. The Lord has a way of softening hearts and opening minds this time of year. I know that what they say will be true, Christmas in the mission is the best of your life. Of that I have no doubt. Bring on the Christmas Miracles. We´re already off to an unbelievable start.

I love you all SO very much! 
Stay safe, healthy, and WARM up there in the Arctic!
Esta semana que viene!
xoxox Your Hermana C

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

December 9, 2013 - "Do you know how much I love you?"

This week was extremely abnormal as far as the work goes. We had transfers on Tuesday, and so there was a lot of traveling, a lot of changes. We had to do some moving with the pench so Monday night we didn´t sleep. Tuesday morning break of dawn we said goodbye to Hermana Lybbert. One of the new hermanas coming in missed her bus at the opposite end of the mission, so she arrived at midnight. There were lots of changes in the zone, and we received 4 new hermanas. lots of pench changes, and lots of missed sleep. The leaders in the mission also had their consejo in mendoza, so the Zone Leaders had to travel there. I got a phone call mid-day, panicked elders ¨we need your help!!!¨ I had to do a lot of ¨hoop jumping¨to figure out bus schedules, ways to get suitcases to 3 different pensions, 4 hermanas arriving at 3 different times, try to keep appointments, and coordinate with members to drive people where they needed to be. All on minimum sleep and in an area that was NOT my own.
It was INSANE. But the new hermanas all made it safely, snug in their pensiones. AND through it all, I learned to have a whole new level of respect for the leaders. It´s amazing to me how they keep track of all of the missionaries and know us all so personally. I´m grateful for the organization of this church!!!!

More than anything this week, I´m at a loss for words with the emotions I have about things that have happened. 
We had Stake Conference this week, and it was INCREDIBLE! 
There was a huge focus on Missionary Work, and the importance of the members. 
As a zone we prepared a musical number ¨A donde me mandes iré!¨ (I´ll go where you want me to go). I got chosen to sing... because apparently people from Utah know a lot about music..... did you all know that? Because I´d never heard of that requirement....
We watched the video from the Worldwide Leadership Training. The one that shows all of the kids in their lifelong ¨preparation¨for their missions.
This might sound funny, but I had this ¨AHA moment¨... sitting there watching the video, I saw myself. The things I did in my life before to get me to this point. And then I had this moment. I AM A MISSIONARY. I mean, I know it. I do it everyday. But it brought tears to my eyes to realize that I am now that ¨symbol¨ that was something so far away when I was a kid. This is MY time to be the Lord´s servant. 
Several times throughout this week, a voice came into my head and my heart: ¨Courtney, do you know how much I love you?¨

Mauricio, Viviana, and their kids are without a doubt THE world´s most incredible investigators. They are FLOURISHING in every sense of the word. They´re stoked beyond words for their baptism THIS Saturday, and they´re already inviting others to learn more about the church.
The entire family came to both sessions of Stake Conference. And they got to meet, and talk for quite a while with Presidente Ávila!!!
*Viviana´s mom (who was skeptical and thought all churches are the same) Happily announced ¨They´re not all the same! This church is something incredible!¨She loves the order in the church, the focus on the family, and the ¨feelings¨she has with the members! 
*Viviana is like actively involved in Relief Society functions. She rocks!
*all 3 of the kids have parts in the Christmas program this Friday, and are loving singing songs about Christ.
*Mauricio told us that he wants to ¨re-do¨his marriage ¨right¨with Viviana, and that they´re excited to do it ¨the way the church does it¨. We hadn´t even taught about temples yet!
*We went to review the Restoration yesterday, because the kids weren´t there for the whole lesson the first time. But because they´ve been ¨challenging¨each other to read in the Book of Mormon, we decided to ask them what they already knew.
Lourdes, who is NINE years old, recounted the ENTIRE Joseph Smith story, and the coming about of the Book of Mormon.
Felipe told us how much he LOVES the story of Nephi and what a great example he is!
*5 young men with mission calls in the stake bore their testimonies on Sunday, and Felipe sat up straight as can be. When we went to their house that night, he tapped my arm and asked ¨How old do I have to be to serve a mission?¨ ¨21!¨Viviana shouted. ¨No, 18!¨I told him. He got a smile on his face. ¨Bien.¨¨Why?¨ I asked. ¨Because I´M going to be a missionary!!!!¨ He said with a whole lot of conviction!
*We´ve had countless ¨noche de hogar¨, incredible lessons, and in between moments of just laughing, crying, and sharing. They´re the epitome of sincerity, and it makes my heart want to explode to think of how happy their Heavenly Father is that they´ve found this gospel.
Several times throughout this week, a voice came into my head and my heart: ¨Courtney, do you know how much I love you?¨
I´ve thought a lot about the intense impact of a knowledge of being loved. 
Mauricio and his family said to us yesterday ¨We want you to know how special you are to us and how much we love you. You´ve changed our lives, and although we know other missionaries will come and go, I said to Presdiente Ávila, ´there will never be others like OURS´. We want to share the days of our baptism with you, and we hope you can be there when we ´get married´. (it´s still a new concept). 
I thought of Elder Ballard´s talk from conference: ¨They will remember your love.¨
Love is one of the strongest powers I know. It breaks down barriers, closes gaps, softens hardened hearts, transcends differences, and changes lives. 
This week was very emotional for me as I thought of all of the manifestations of love in my life: 
*Plan of Salvation lesson with Flia. Sesma. Talking about our relationship before this life, that we promised to come find them. Promising them their beautiful family can be together forever. Crying with them as we talked of loved-ones lost, and the hope of a brighter future and a promise of togetherness.
*Looking down the row at this beautiful family, in their Sunday best, faces intently listening to speakers and testimonies. Their journey is just beginning.
*singing Christmas carols at family night with familia Sesma and another family from the ward.
*opening a letter from my family with a ¨BIG GROUP HUG¨ inside, just when I needed it. 

Each time the words in my head ¨Do you know how much I love you?¨

I thought of the story of Peter. The Savior asked him 3 times. ¨Peter, do you love me?¨Each time he answered yes, growing more and more earnest that the Lord understand ¨YES. You know I love you!¨
The Lord answers then, with a simple request: ¨Feed my sheep.¨It´s a call to action. The Lord knew, that in his way, yes, Peter loved him. But he needed him to do something about it. 
What do we do to show our love? It´s not enough ever to just assume they know.

1 John 4:7-9
Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
He that loveth not knoweth not God; for GOD IS LOVE.
 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
We love Him, because He loved us first. 
Sometimes in this very shallow-minded way of thinking, I think that by serving a mission i´m somehow giving something back to the Lord. But the reality is this, every day that I spend on my mission, I am more and more indebted to him. The time that I have to be here, doing this, my small part in this great work, the opportunities he gives me each day, the miracles I see, and the manifestations of his love in my life and in the lives of those around me. His love is something I know I´ll never fully comprehend, but something I know I cannot live without.
Family: Do you KNOW how much I LOVE YOU???
xoxox Your Hermana C

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

December 2, 2013 - Pinch Me Please!

You know how sometimes you hear of missionary in the Ensign or in conference or something...and you think ¨Yeah, right. That´s unreal.¨ Well, okay so maybe just me, because admittedly, 
I´ve had a lot of those moments, and as missionaries we definitely all want moments like that. That ¨magical house at the end of the street¨story, that ¨golden family¨. Well, I´ve learned that sometimes in the mission you have to look hard for those silver linings, but then other times they come smack you right in the face, and even then it´s still hard to believe it. 

This week was full of miracles of that sort, great and small. 
The lady with the little kids that were the key to getting in the door. The first time we visited her she was pretty open, and invited us back. We called her last week, and she was more than pleasant about setting up an appointment. So we showed up, and she had made sure that all of her kids were occupied, so that she could give us her undivided attention. At first, we talked, got to know her a little more. She told us more about her sister who was a member, and how 20 years ago she´d gone several times to primary and loved it. But then she told us, ¨I´ll say what i´ve told the other missionaries, I´m Catholic, and really don´t think you´re going to change that.¨
But then, we started the lesson, we sang ¨Families Can Be Together Forever¨, she got a little emotional. We taught her the Plan of Salvation, in the beginning, she kind of had that ¨Yeah, I know this....¨attitude. But then we talked about the kingdoms of glory and the hope we have after this life and testified of Christ´s sacrifice. She softened right up, and said she wants to keep learning, but that she doesn´t know how because her kids won´t understand. Then I asked her ¨Your son is 11 right? The same age that you were when you visited church. He might not únderstand´everything, but he can FEEL that difference just like you did, and with time, they´ll understand.¨ She said she really liked that idea.
We asked her to pray at the end, and at first she hesitated, but then said that she thought she remembered from Primary. She did! In her prayer she said ¨Father, I´m going to open my door and my heart so that these hermanas can show me your will for my family.¨ She made me cry.
After, she told us that as soon as her baby grows up a little bit (the 9 day old baby). She wants to bring her entire family to church!!!

Solid GOLD!
We had a lesson with them to see how their experience was at church, they LOVED it. We had a lesson with just Viviana and Mauricio on Wednesday, and taught the doctrine of Christ. They said ¨We´ve been talking a lot and we´d really like to ¨renew¨our baptisms as a family.....¨ um OK. So we invited them to be baptized on December 14. They happily agreed!
We went back the next day to take them the Children´s Libro de Mormón, and a copy in English for Viviana. They had already talked to their kids about everything, and told them that they are going to be baptized as a family on the 14. We explained a little bit about that to the kids. They were stoked to read the Book of Mormon as a family. They´ve been praying and reading out loud every night!
Saturday we went by and taught The Doctrine of Christ again, with emphasis on the Holy Ghost.
Oh, story... so in school, catholic school, they explained that the Holy Ghost was in the form of a ¨palomita¨ a pigeon/dove.... There are pigeons and doves EVERYWHERE here. So everytime Lourdes sees one she thinks it´s ¨Espíritu Santo´! hahaha super cute.
But I used the object lesson that I used for Emmi´s baptism, the one with the blanket, flashlight, compass, whistle, ruler. To explain the different roles of the Holy Ghost. The kids loved it, and Viviana and Mauricio, too!
They are already planning for their baptism, and the kids told us they want to be missionaries like us! AH!
Sunday. THE WHOLE FAMILY came to church with us. The ward was stoked, and the whole entire attitude of everyone was so different. They all were anxious to welcome them all,  and everyone´s classes went great! 
As I was sitting in fast and testimony meeting, I had one of those ¨Out-of-body-observer¨experiences. I sat there looking around at all of the members, carefully watching our beautiful family of already-feel-and-act-like-members investigators. Listening to them sing along even though they don´t know all the words, carefully listen as testimonies were born. Nodding as they absorbed all of the new information. My heart wanted to explode!
It was one of those ¨This cannot be real¨moments. The moment in missionary work when all of the ¨bad days¨seem so worth it!
We´ve worked so hard these past few months to really gain the trust of the members. It´s hard when the missionaries before you do things to really dash their confidence. But we have seen the changes, and the hand-in-hand work with this ward is incredible right now! We´re receiving references, they are eager to come with us to lessons, our lunch calendar is full, and 3 families already invited Viviana and her family to a noche de hogar. THAT HAS NEVER HAPPENED! 
The Familia Sesma is going to be a much-needed and MARAVILLOSA addition to the ward family. Everyone´s ¨eye of faith¨has been opened, and I know that this is just the beginning!!

We received transfer calls yesterday, and Hermana Lybbert is leaving to an area close to Mendoza. It´s going to be really hard to say goodbye. We´ve been through lots, and she has become a dear friend and more of a literal sister than a companion. But change is good, and we´re banking on being companions later on :)
Hermana Flores and I will stay in San Juan for at least one more transfer. Training her is FUN, and I swear some days I´m learning just as much as she is, if not more. 

My heart is full of gratitude to my Heavenly Father for the time that he´s given me to serve a mission here with the beautiful people. This work isn´t easy. In fact most days it kind of seems downright impossible. But the Lord has his hand in every detail, and his timing is perfect. There are prepared people out there. There are those families that you meet one week, and a week and a half later they´ve been to church twice, want callings, and are planning baptism, missions and temple trips all in one swoop. MIRACLES exist. God lives. Jesus is the Christ. THIS is his church. And HE LOVES EACH OF US SO MUCH!

I love you all.
Cuídense mucho!
xoxo Your Hermana C

December 2, 2013 - Photos from San Juan

Hermana Flores

Windy day!!



Eating sandwiches on the side of the road while awaiting a collectivo. normal. 

My invention... to get the hot water to the laundry faster than cup-by-cup... coke bottle makeshift...I was super proud. Now everyone uses it.

SAN JUAN ZOO! (it was more like a glorified farm....but, you know Zoos are my favorite!)  
The heavens in San Juan are my favorite! 

Mauricio!! He made us lunch on Sunday (they saw the lunch calendar being passed around last week, and felt really jipped that they didn´t get to feed us. haha.) He made THE most amazing ¨Pollo del dico¨ using the disk from a tractor on his farm! Way legit and SUPER yum! 

It´s official. ¨Pure Blonde¨Shampoo 

Cute companions at the aquarium...

Familia Sesma!!! Viviana, Mauricio, Lourdes, Felipe, and Sofia. And their cute grandma! 

Happy Thanksgiving. I´m SO THANKFUL FOR ALL OF YOU!!!
Thanks for my ONLY semblance of a turkey for thanksgiving!!!

1.Are you telling of your TG day later in a letter or should I ask questions? 
YOU are ALL beautiful!!!
I thought of you lots on Thanksgiving!! And DID NOT eat turkey. But, así es la misión :)haha there literally is nothing to tell. . . . we didn´t do anything.....
2.When are transfers and does that mean you are staying again? They´re on wednesday. Yeah, hna flores and I stay here in San Juan!!!!
3.Are you happy about the work in San Juan? Yeah. I´m excited! We have so much to do here. The miracles are just starting! Our hard work is starting to pay off, and I´m learning to love the members so much. It´s been really hard, and a long-time coming. But it´ll be good. It´s kind of hard for me to stay in one place for so long. I like the change. But there is some reason for me being here, and I´m going to keep working till I find it! 

I was going to ask you...
This week I´ve learned a lot about the importance of being sincere with people....
In the beginning of my mission I feel like it was easier, or well, I was better at it. 
THis might not even make sense...
But I feel like it´s something I´ve always struggled with. You´re my perfect example of ¨having it together¨.... and all my life I´ve been told that I am that way too. but i´m not. How do you find a good balance between ¨Showing people you´re sincere and real, but not being completely pathetic and seem like you´re helpless? it´s like people don´t want you to be strong and independent, but they don´t want you to be helpless either.... sorrythat probalby makes no sense...
How do you help people to know you´re strong, put together and dependable, but also human, loving and sincere? 
In a world where you can be anything..BE YOURSELF!
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.  
Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.
Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.
Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten.
Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.
Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.
-this version is credited to Mother Teresa
 Courtney, remember to be patient with others...and yourself.  You know I love all of these lines from Mother Teresa.  I also love the phrase; When people seem the least lovable is when they need the most love.(I use this daily in my head and often times out loud....not going to mention any names, but...)  I just have to constantly try to see life from the persons view that is out of sorts and try to figure out the reasons, not to excuse just give reason...exhausting you may say, yes, however, rewarding as well.  
To the matter of not feeling like you can be human, I get it, I know.  We have talked several times over the years on this topic and I want you now more than ever to understand that although you may not get what you think you need from the people around you, you can always turn to your Heavenly Father and Christ for the reassurance that you are a good person that you are trying your hardest and that you have flaws and will continue to work on them as your purpose here on earth.  They are the 2 people that although perfect themselves, understand our lack as well as our desire to become such.
There is also a lot to be said for the "honeymoon phase" of any relationship.  When everyone is putting their best foot forward and you are too.  Many of the small annoyances that are always there within a person are just not seen at this time.  The true test to be sincere begins long after this time is gone and everyone is comfortable enough to let down their guarded nature and be well...annoying and real.  This is the true test of not judging and also the time that satan can place doubts about others and especially self to destroy those feeling of admiration and love that was once a part of the relationship. Do not let him win.  YOU are stronger and you are okay to be real. Between you and God is your true worth known.  People are struggling at different times and different levels.  I love you with all of my heart and I know that this is a difficult and often lonely issue.  Hold tight and chin up.  Pray always and HOPE eternal.
Love, Your earthy mom, who gets you and loves you and BELIEVES in you.