Monday, January 27, 2014

January 27, 2014 - ¨Have we not great reason to rejoice?¨‏

This week has been one of those ¨How did we even survive that?¨weeks. I´m at a loss for words as to where to start! 
The days and weeks are seeming to fly as we keep ourselves more than occupied with lessons, leadership meetings, planning exchanges with the other hermanas, coping with the unexpected, and all the while counting miracles, and finding the joy along the way. 

Jorge was baptized this week! 
When I got here, Hermana Lawrence told me that he had stopped progressing because of some trials that had happened. I looked at his record and saw that he has 8 asistencias! 8! and he hadn´t been baptized. So I told her I wanted to go visit him. We had an awesome lesson, and he told us that he´d missed the feelings he´d had at the church. We invited him to prepare to be baptized on the 25. fast forward, and we couldn´t see him because he was always working or with his son in the hospital. But last Monday we prayed, and we really just felt like he needed to be baptized. We set up an appointment for Wednesday (the 22). I looked at his teaching record and realized they hadn´t taught him the word of wisdom, the law of chastity, or tithing. basically ALL of the big commandments. But, we still felt strongly that this baptism was a possibility. We went, and reminded him of his fecha...coming fast. We started with the interview questions, and he just expressed his great desire to be baptized. Wednesday we taught Word of Wisdom. I read him the scripture in D&C where it talks about ¨Run and not be weary, walk and not faint.¨ He loved it, and He told us he would willingly give up beer and wine if it meant he could be baptized. Law of chastity, ¨easy¨. 
That night we called the District Leader, and told him to plan time for an interview for Friday night.
We thought it would be fun to bring something to help him with giving up wine. So we bought a big jug of grapefruit juice, and wrote ¨For Jorge, So that you can ¨run and not be weary, and walk and not faint¨! We love you! Love the Hermanitas¨. 
Thursday, we taught him tithing, and sabbath day. He was ready. 
Friday, he had his interview and it went awesome! 
Saturday, He was BAPTIZED!!!!!!! 
Sunday, Came to church in his new shirt and tie, and was confirmed. The change in him was so noticeable, and he got up and thanked everyone and told everyone how ¨proud¨he was to be a part of this ¨family¨. 
In Sunday school, he told us about his ¨trial of faith¨that had happened right after his baptism. All of his friends showed up to have their regular Saturday night beer. He told them he wasn´t going to drink beer anymore. They started to laugh, but he told them he had something to share with them. He went inside (meanwhile, an hermana from the ward that always goes with us to lessons shows up and sees what´s going on) ...But then out walks Jorge. Proudly holding the bottle of juice with the scripture that ¨His hermanitas¨ had given him. They all shared a shot of grapefruit juice in honor of Jorge and his ¨New life¨. 

It was one of those days when my cheeks hurt from smiling, and I just couldn´t stop shaking my head. Sacrament meeting was the ultimate. We had 4 unexpected investigators come, and 3 menos activo families that have been ¨unsure¨for a long time now. M-m-m-m-m-m-MIRACLES!

I was reading in Alma 26 again, always one of my favorites.
¨And now I ask, what great blessings has he bestowed upon us? Can ye tell? ...... Behold, I answer for you; for our brethren (the Argentines), were in darkness, yea, even in the darkest abyss, but behold, how many of them are brought to behold the marvelous light of God! And this is the blessing which hath been bestowed upon us, that we have been made instruments in the hands of God to bring about this great work.¨

that basically sums up the feelings I´ve had this week as we´ve fun from place to place. HOW GREAT IS BEING A MISSIONARY!

Of course Ammon, always a realist, and great about accurately expressing the highs and lows of missionary work. It honestly helps me to feel not quite as crazy about the extremes of emotions that I sometimes feel day to day...okay, hour to hour. 

He says: ¨And now, behold, we have come, and been forth amongst them; and we have been patient in our sufferings, and we have suffered every privation; yeah, we have traveled from house to house, relying upon the mercies of the world-- not upon the mercies of the world alone but upon the mercies of God.¨

This week has been full of privations. As we´ve made a conscious effort to ¨purify our hearts¨, to be just that much more obedient, that much more diligent, and sacrifice. On top of that, severe cold, severe heat, food poisoning from some less-than-cooked chicken, sleeping on the floor of the church with 102 degree fever while we prepared for a baptism. 

¨And we have entered into their houses and taught them, and we have taught them in their streets; yea, and we have taught them upon their hills.... and we have been cast out, and mocked, and spit upon (literally happened), and smote upon our cheeks....and through the power and wisdom of God we have been delivered again.

¨Therefore, let us glory, yeah, we will glory in the Lord; yeah, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? .... Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel.¨
Like Ammon, this week was one of ¨recompensas¨for me. More than anything, yesterday I was overwhelmed with this sense of gratitude. I´m grateful for the tender mercies of the Lord. For answers to desperate prayers. For the strength he gives us to keep going when we have every physical reason to quit. For the peace and the feelings of ¨Don´t you know how much I love you?¨. But more than anything, I´m grateful that the Lord trusts me enough to put me into places, and lives where he can use me to bless them for good. 
Sometimes (like this week) I wonder why he trusts me to handle so much. Like trusting me with his children, other hermana missionaries, and with the responsibility to train and teach in consejo in front of ALL the leadership in the mission. But honestly in those moments of insanity and wondering ¨How can I do this??¨I realize, I. alone. don´t have to. If we calm down. Sometimes easier said than done. And trust in Him. He has this way of giving us capacities and strengths we didn´t even know we had. 

¨Therefore, I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in His strength I can do all things.¨ 

My joy has been so full these last few days as I´ve thought back on all that the Lord has allowed me to be a part of here, and throughout my mission. There is nothing like being part of this great work. 

¨Now have we not great reason to rejoice? Yea, I say unto you, there never were men (hermanas) that had so great reason to rejoice as we.¨

xoxox Your Hermana C

 *you know you´re in Argentina when Walmart has an ENTIRE isle just para mayonesas.
*Jorge´s baptism! 

*nutella and peanut butter. my true loves.

*gluten free alfajores. real ones.

*Hollywood boulevard??

Monday, January 20, 2014

January 20, 2014 - Purify Your Heart. The 40 Day Fast.

Hola Queridos Míos!! Hello from Hot and Sunny (yes, it´s just hot all over Argentina) Dorrego!! 

Leaving San Juan had a lot of emotions. I was beginning to feel like a permanent part of that Zone, and as you know, I´m too adventurous and love change too much, so I was ready, just not the part about packing suitcases.. Yes, mom the hardest was definitely that I had to say goodbye to Familia Sesma..... via telefono! Yeah, that was sad. But at the same time, they informed me that they have already made plans for our ¨international adventures¨ after the mission. I have no doubt they´ll be a part of my life forever! 

I´m loving things here in Dorrego. It´s super different than my last area, lots more city, and no more San Juan accent ;) But my comp is great(we´ve basically lived the same lives, so that helps a lot)  and we´ve already seen some huge MILAGROS. 
There is a very common theme in this area with a lot of our investigators. Hard drugs. The majority of our investigators are battling with some crazy addictions, and things that really run their lives. But i´ve also seen their desires to come unto Christ, to follow him, and to change. It´s not easy, and will be a process, but a strong desire is a really helpful start. It helps that there are several ward members who have also overcome very similar things, and so the strength of the ¨been there done that¨ testimony helps a lot! 
This past week we had a huge miracle! Roxana y Nicolas. They´re this amazing couple, friends of the bishop, and have been meeting with the missionaries for a long time. They´re not married, and that has been the main hurdle.
Within the first 3 minutes of meeting them, I already loved them SO much. And honestly we were laughing and talking like old friends. The first thing Roxana said to me was ¨Hermanita, there have been a lot of missionaries that have come and gone, hoping to see us get married, but it just hasn´t happened.¨ We had an incredible lesson with them about the doctrine of Christ. The spirit was super strong. And Roxana told us that she knew she needed to be baptized. We set a fecha and she told us that she wanted to start setting goals to quit smoking, too. It´s a process, but she said ¨I know without a doubt that this is what I want.¨ So we started setting goals, and she got so excited. Then I turned to Nicolas, ¨Well, we know what Roxana is willing to do to make this happen. Nicolas, qué está dispuesto hacer?¨ he looked right back at us and as if it hadn´t ever been an issue, he said ¨We´re going to get married.¨ The look on Roxana´s face was pure joy!! We started talking about plans, and the ¨technicalities¨, and he said he would go to sacar un turno, start the paperwork, Monday, today! As we finished the lesson, the spirit was tangible, and it was so easy to promise them great blessings that are going to come along. It´s amazing how willing God is to bless us when we do what he asks of us! 

I went to a meeting the week before transfers, and talked to a few of the girls that had visa waited with me in Seattle. One of the first things Hermana Enos said to me was ¨Do you ever miss Seattle?¨ without even thinking, I said ¨Yes, all the time!also Hna. Cooley wrote me and talked about how much she loves this mission, but how there are sometimes things that she misses. ¨

This work is all about sacrifice. I was thinking this morning about how as missionaries we are constantly asking others to ¨give up their vices¨, to literally surrender all that is holding them back, to give their whole selves to Christ. Cocaine, wine, cigarillos, to get married.  And then I thought, ¨What am I willing to give up?¨

Hermana Lawrence visa waited in California, but when we had our first ¨goal setting and comp inventory¨, we both expressed a lot of the same feelings about what we want to gain in our missions, this transfer, the next, and the few, yes few, months that we have left to give this thing our all. We set those goals, even higher, and then we decided that no matter what we were going to work hard to achieve them!

After all of the miracles we´ve seen this week, and thinking back to the ¨stand out¨ times that I´ve seen throughout my mission, I realized how much I want to be THAT type of missionary....ALL THE TIME! There´s a fine line between being a good missionary and an excellent one. One who returns home with honor, and one who returns home with glory. 

Justo, we read a talk from a stake president, talking about the way that we as missionaries, and really all of us, have to purify ourselves to have that spirit always with us. He talked of how often times in the whole idea of obedience, we sometimes justify ¨Well, it´s not THAT bad..¨Well, the fact of the matter is, we can´t afford to just be ¨not bad¨, we have to be good, great even. Back to that ¨Do you ever miss the Washington Mission?¨thing. Something that was, and quite literally, drilled into us was the importance of obedience, and I realized that a lot of the power that we had came from doing the ¨small and simple¨things. It wasn´t because ¨we had to¨, or because someone was watching over our shoulders all the time. We did it because we knew why we were there, and because we loved the Lord. In this talk, He talked to the missionaries about a really thought-provoking proposal. Starting with a fast, and a humble and sincere prayer, Making a list of those ¨Less than obedient¨habits, and fasting from them for 40 days. He told of the experience he had had with his companion, and of the way their whole lives, perspectives, and success in the mission changed when they surrendered and sacrificed. They were filled with more love, more patience, more hope. They were transformed into instruments of the Lord, teaching, loving, finding, and bringing souls back to Christ with true power and authority.  

This morning I was studying the Atonement. Every time I read the descriptions of those last few days and moments of our Savior´s life, it´s impossible not to cry. He gave everything. He loved perfectly, gave freely, served selflessly, and endured endlessly. Until the very end he was loyal, courageous, faithful, submissive, and OBEDIENT to the will of His Father. He had that ¨eternal perspective¨, that faith and understanding that he had a greater purpose than to do things half-hearted, settle for less, or give up before he had accomplished what was asked of him. 
The Lord´s work is all about sacrifice. Christ is a perfect example to all as to the things we have to do throughout our lives. The invitation is to ¨Become LIKE Him.¨, to ¨Follow Him¨, and to one day ¨Return and Live with Him and The Father¨. We show our desires, our commitment, and our willingness to put those invitations to the test and set his plan in action when we put aside ourselves, and seek to align our lives with His will. 
It´s not always easy, ¨no one ever said it would be.¨ It wasn´t easy for him, and so naturally for us it will be just that much harder. But we´re not in this alone. And with Him, ¨All things are possible.¨

I love you all so much, 
Esta semana que viene. 
xoxox Your Hermana C

January 20, 2014 - Q and A's plus photos!

Hi there you,  I have just had you on my mind all week.  I am sure it was hard to leave the Sesma familia but I was very proud with your eagerness and excitement about moving on to a new challenge. I am sure you will tell us all about your new area and companion. I have a few questions?

1.Did you find new shoes since "goldifying" your others?  we´re going shopping today, so i´ll let you know
2. IS it as hot in your new area? it´s still VERY hot here! I haven´t stopped sweating. We don´t have ac in the´s like a humid hole of death. literally. 
3.Is the language dialect similar in all the areas of Mendoza or different versions!  The dialect in San Juan was VERY distinct, and so it´s a little different here, but I love it! 
4.What is your new apartment like? water?  Our apartment is TINY. and HOT HOT HOT. water.... it´s better, but i´m still occupying the filter.
5.Did you get your facebook up and going and how do I follow you now?  I can´t get on Facebook. So really, you guys will just have to run that... they were going to allow us to share stuff, but i think changed their minds.
6.Was the photo and cover okay? I can´t see them. But i´m sure it looks great ;) thanks for that craziness.
7.Did you feel okay about the decision... well, only option to wait to apply until next year!  I did and feel so great that you are to stay as long as possible and complete your mission strong.  Life will be here upon your return. Yeah, I feel good about it. I honestly just know that everything´s going to happen how it´s going to happen... It would have been nice to be able to start with everything....but at this point I don´t really have another option do I?
10. Love to see photos and hear new comp story! Hermana Lawrence is super cute! She´s from AZ. She´s about 4 foot hahah kidding, but SUPER tiny. She´s super blonde, and honestly sometimes it´s ridiculous how similar we are. But we´re setting all kinds of new goals, and working hard together. Being with gringas brings out a new side of me. She´s super timid and so it makes me work really hard and be really brave. And it´makes me use my Castellano a lot more. I feel like  I got a re-charge coming here!

I love you all. Try to be more healthy, Dave. I love you all so much! 
Time is flying! 

gafas y grido. last day with this lady.

sorry, we haven´t taken normal pics yet....

*the set up. top bunk is way too hot.

*midnight drink the fridge. too hot for sleeping. 

*Dorrego City

*after running 2 miles in the dead heat to beat the clock. love her.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

January 13, 2014 - I know who I am, I know God´s Plan!

Hello Loved Ones!
How are you all?? 
What a crazy week. The last week of the transfer always brings with it all kinds of adventures. And it´s not an exaggeration when I say that I haven´t slept for nearly a week. Between faulty AC, 110 plus degrees, and the fact that even when I have time to ¨relax¨, my brain won´t shut off!, sleep has eluded me. But, onward and upward we go!
We got transfer calls last night, and I am leaving the beloved San Juan! After 3 transfers, my time here is up, and I´m sad to leave, but really excited for a huge change of pace! I´m going to Dorrego, which is straight up city (eh) , right outside of Mendoza. I was called to be the Sister Training Leader there. Bring on the reto! 

This week was another one of those weeks where it seemed like everything had a common theme. Dad sent me the challenge to read Moses 1, and I got a letter from Teddy talking about the importance of ¨knowing who we are¨. It seems like the theme of my mission has been learning about our divine identity (as Children of our Heavenly Father), and also learning how to learn, live, love and become the person that HE expects and wants us to become. 
I´ve been trying really hard the last few weeks to really look outside the box. Things here have been a little rough as of late. The ward leaders have been having some issues, things in the mission are really stressed, and I really was just starting to get into that mode of ¨What more can I do to change things up in this area?¨ I wasn´t sure if I would be leaving or not, and I honestly just wanted to feel like I´d done everything, given my all, to help the members, the other missionaries, and the people here. 

I learned a lot this week. One of those ¨growing and stretching so much it hurts¨weeks. I´m grateful that God is the head of this work. His plans are so great, and so perfect. I´m glad he knows what his children need.....even better than we ourselves know most of the time. There´s a lot to be said about ¨the mysteries of God¨. I know, with a pounding head to reaffirm, that there is much to be learned, and much we won´t ever fully comprehend about his plans, his visions or his timing. But. That´s where faith, trust , and confidence in his love come in. 

I love you all so much!
Hope this week´s a great one!
xoxox Your Hermana C

Zona San Juan 
Elder Downs ... we were in the same stake in Syracuse and he knows the Parry's the Strong's and the pursers. cool connections :)

*Elder Arndt... he is the nephew of Candace Winkelman. it´s a small small world. 

                          lots of love down here in Argentina 

 *comp :) her first time hiking. we made it alive!!!

                                                                    cabeza del indio
                                                       Zona trip

 hair chop!


Monday, January 6, 2014

January 6, 2014 - Para Mis ¨Buenos Padres¨‏

Hello, my dears!
So, justo, I finished reading the Book of Mormon on December 31, which meant, Starting again with the New Year! 
My first session of studying, I only got through the first coupled verses of 1 Nefi 1.
I always love how the entire Book of Mormon starts with: ¨I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents...¨
What an incredibly profound and important statement. 
In my patriarchal blessing, it says: ¨Courtney, you have come to earth and been born into a good home. You have good parents and worthy ancestors...You were excited to be part of this family relationship.¨
Amen. Not that I have to rely on my patriarchal blessing to know that I, like Nephi, can say: ¨I, Courtney, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father (and mother); and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days.¨
I, too, am so grateful for the family that my Heavenly Father has given me. I KNOW that I have goodly parents. And I´m grateful that throughout my life they have ¨instructed¨me throughout their own life experience, learned wisdom, and most importantly, the principles of the gospel.
We´ve had our fair share of trials and afflictions. But along with that, the Lord has always shown that he is mindful of us. And I can honestly say that I´ve felt ¨favored¨of him as he´s lifted our burdens, comforted our hearts, and strengthened (and continues to strengthen) the love and unity that exists in our family.
Throughout my life, and especially now, I´ve gained a greater knowledge and understanding of His amazing goodness and of his plan for us. And of his mysterious ways of showing his love and his power in the lives of ALL of his children. 
I´ve been around the world, and I´ve seen the ¨workings¨of many different families, both within the church and without. And I still feel like I can say, without any doubt, and with a lot of ¨righteous pride¨, that you´re pretty darn close to perfect.

I want you all (brothers and sister, too). To know how much I love you and appreciate you. Every day so much more.
XOXO Your Hermana C

January 6, 2014 - 'Ringing" in the New Year!

*Halfway there. My tools of labor. can we ¨goldify¨ these shoes when I get home? 

*ASADO at the Sesma house! 

*Eating Mantecol over an izequia....sick and uncaring. 

*HELADO! can you guess which of the flavors are mine??

*potato chips and ketchup. I´m officially Argentine. 

* Año Nuevo!!! 2014!?!?!

*¨Ringing¨in the New Year! Thanks VIVIANA!

* This is the set up in their house. I just had to take a picture.
*waiting for taxis on New years.....forever

*This one´s for dad! We went to a store in Centro on His birthday and I found the first Toblerone that I´ve seen here!! You better believe I celebrated! Love you PAPI!