Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Mond‏ay June 16, 2014 - Don´t push the limits...

This week we went to Manzano. Which is a tourist attraction up in the mountains. It was seriously gorgeous, and I was beyond excited to be back in the mountains, fresh air, miles to explore. We decided to ¨hike¨ through the partially frozen river.
Walking along the thin ice, my mind flashed back to our special capacitación that we had with Presidente Ávila last week, and everything he talked to us about concerning the Plan of Salvation, agency, and our ultimate potential and purpose in life. (I´ll come back to the ice in a minute) 

He talked about the importance of knowing WHO we are. He talked about Romans 8:16-17:
¨The spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God;
And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ...¨

Now with that being said, he talked about the necessity of a greater understanding of the plan of salvation. It would have been so easy for the Lord to just give us freely of that reward... in fact, Satan´s plan consisted of exactly that. Take away agency, and there could be no failure.
BUT, agency, and our responsibility to choose is one of the greatest gifts and privileges that our Heavenly Father has given us.

From the beginning we´ve made decisions as to what course our lives would take, and who we would choose to align ourselves with.
Presidente talked about the great responsibility that the Lord places on each of us to choose and use our agency correctly... He likened it to a highway road that splits into two. We have to know where we´re going, how we´re traveling, and how fast.. so that we can make decisions wisely. If you´re traveling too fast, not in control, or lose sight of where it is you´re going, which path will be ¨yours¨, you won´t have time arriving at the split to make the correct decision.
There is an obvious divide between the great ones, followers of Christ, and the wicked ones who choose to align themselves with the opposing team... in the end, there exists no ¨middle ground¨. 
As humans, we have the tendency to ¨walk the line¨... to see just how far we can push our limits... to walk where the ice cracks, but maybe just not far enough to be fatal... but the Lord´s way, the safe and sure way, is to stay as FAR AWAY as possible. But he knows that we won´t be perfect, and so He hasn´t left us alone. 
He has provided us with THE PLAN. Presidente Ávila told us ¨This plan is not a ¨plan B¨ or a default. Everything that has happened from the beginning has been part of the perfect and eternal design. It is THE plan.¨ We know that we lived with Him before, we know that now, it is our whole purpose and plan to make it back to Him again. Therefore, we know our ¨destination¨. 
It´s in that between here and there that sometimes gets tricky. However, speed limits, rules, and regulations all exist for a reason, and for our eternal benefit. Contrary to what we often hear, ¨There exists NO ¨happiness¨outside of the gospel. But the choice is ours to decide where we stand. 
The decision to put on ¨The WHOLE armor of God¨ (utilizing for our benefit the ¨warning signs¨the ¨rules¨and the protection He offers through His everlasting gospel) is ours. That´s our offensive, and ultimately what gives us the upper hand. 
As part of His eternal plan, the Lord provided us with a Savior, Jesus Christ. He is our ¨great captain¨and our only hope. Our source of strength. His choice and resulting sacrifice is the determining factor of our possibility of success or failure. 

2 Nephi 25:23: ¨...For we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.¨ 

There again, the choice is ours. We do all that lies within our power, acting as our own agents. Then, there comes another choice: to accept and apply the atonement of Jesus Christ, with all of it´s saving grace and redeeming power, and allow it to work in our lives. We must understand that without Him, we are NOTHING.

In the end, we are each on our own course in life. We have our ¨trajectory¨set our for us, we know the eternal destination, and we know that a loving Heavenly Father, and His selfless Son, have provided us with the necessary ¨guides¨ to help us to have the success He wants for us.
Whether we are cruising along at faster speeds on the highway, or pacing ourselves, running. or walking cautiously along the frozen river, choosing wisely where our next step will take us... The choice is ours...

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 
¨Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.
And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air.¨

In this great ¨race¨, may we run with the ¨finish line¨ in mind, always. May we run, and not just run, but with the intention of succeeding. For the incorruptible and glorious prize of life eternal. Triumphant through the mercy and grace of our loving Savior. May we run so that one day we may stand before God and proudly say, like Paul:  ¨I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.¨
So that we may stand tall, knowing who we are and whose we are. That we 
knew whose side we were fighting for, and that we rest assured knowing we have done our part to inherit all that he has waiting for those who are faithful. 

I love you all so much! 
xoxoxo Your Hermana C

 *looks a bit like UTAH from where I stand....??
dad and brothers this made me miss shooting. lots. 

intercambios in Tunuyán... interrupted by a nasty flu bug. I was the only survivor.

* Familia Contador. They were one of the first families that we reactivated in Tunuyán. When we first showed up, she told us they wanted NOTHINGto do with the church.. after our lesson they came to church the next week.
between my time there and now, their 3 kids have been baptized, he´s the first counselor in the branch presidency, she´s the RS president, AND they went throught the temple last month to get sealed.
She hugged me probaby 7 times in 3 minutes. it was such a sweet reunion. 

*Just a little stoked to to be in nature!
*best district

Monday June 16, 2014 - GUSANITOS ...Worms...Q and A's

First off...eww, about the photo of the worms!!! second, how on earth did you get a photo of just the worms and nothing else in the toilet...okay very first, I hope you are feeling better????First off, the worms came out all on their own. nothing else. that was one of the more disturbing details. hahah.
I am feeling much better! 

Third.  Ben was probably the most disturbed as I finished reading your letter to all of them this am, he quickly and calmly said, "That is my least favorite letter that Courtney has ever written!"sorry ben.
Ahh He is good now and is looking forward to hearing from you about all the soccer questions!
He is loving that you are in argentina at this amazing soccer time!!!!I am dying that I am in argentina at soccer time. Argentina played for the first time yesterday, and you would not believe the parafenilia ? and just crazy fans. IT´s insane!!
fourth... REALLY how are you now?I took parasite pills and think for now i´m good.
I am so proud to hear that even through it all you were able to feel loved and celebrate just a bit.  Please give your cute comp a huge hug from me and a thank you for caring for you through this week!  I love you. 
Hi beautiful girl.  I love you.

How do you determine if that was all the worms?umm... not sure... but i feel better?

Are you able to eat and stay healthy?i´m working out again. eating healthy. Part of that has to do with the fact that TODAY. i start my SECOND TO LAST transfer. seriously??   
Did you loose too much weight? I didn´t loose too much... maybe like a pound. too bad, really, should have let them go a little longer...

Oh for sure...I hear its the new thing for diets!!! NOT
I love you for your humor and I know right, where has the time gone.  Emmi is thinking of making a chain soon.  That just make the countdown a bit real.  Not doing it yet though.!  Davis will move on aug 16th so that countdown is super short. - 8 weeks whoa!
WHOA!! I can´t believe he´s moving out!! he´s not allowed! 

That's what I keep thinking about all my babies and their growth spurts and changes.  Good stuff just different.  thank heavens you are coming back for a bit .  I know you will leave again, but ... emmi has plans to paint Davis' room to make it more "girlie" for you to stay in since the boys have taken over the basement , but I think black and tan can be a girl color for a moment or two...
Just recovering from the Father's Day weekend festivities and a Monday.  Still trying to convince everyone that getting out of bed before noon is starting today for the summer.  
It is gorgeous and a bit cooler today for outside working!!!

lots and lots of changes, la verdad.
But honestly I´m so excited for what´s to come. This transfer has been a serious trial... and turns out I´m staying... so that will be... well, I´m going to do a lot of growing. It´s like a serious ¨prove how much you want it¨trial... 


Sunday, June 15, 2014

June 15, 2014 - Father's Day email Dad to Coco and back

Hi papi!
please know that yesterday I celebrated you wishing I could be there to hug you and tell you how much I love you and appreciate all you are for me! 
Thank you for being mine. For the way I can feel and always have a surety of your love, support, and that you always have and will have my best interests at heart.
I love you so much, and look forward to being able to see you, hug you, and share all of these adventures with you one day... in the not too distant future.
xoxox Your Hermana C

On Mon, Jun 16, 2014 at 2:33 AM, Gayle Cox <> wrote:
Dear Coco,

As I celebrate Father's Day, I cannot help but tear up with the gratitude and love I have for you, my first child and sweet little girl.  You are very special to me and have always held a special place in my heart.  I found this poem which captures some of the emotions and deeply profound love I have for you:

I Am Yours To Keep

You are a princess in my heart,
and I care for you so much.
I love the fondness in you eyes and your tender little touch.

I looked at you when you were born,
and knew then straight away,
that I would be forever here
to watch you grow and play.

You bring to me a heart of joy,
and memories so great,
and a powerful sense of fatherhood that no one can debate.

I watch you sleep and dream of things that I can only wonder.
That innocent look upon your face just makes my heart grow fonder.

I see you run and jump and shout and calling out my name.
No love that I have ever known could ever feel the same.
No suffering or tragedy nor deeply seated pain
could ever over shadow the bond that we retain.

And so my little princess before you go to sleep,
Remember I am your daddy and I am yours to keep.

I hope you will always know how deeply and sincerely I love and cherish you.  You gripped my heart the very first time you gripped my finger with your tiny little hand the day you were born, and that same bond has only grown stronger and stronger over the years.

I am so torn when I hear of your challenges and struggles -- wishing I could be there to protect and defend you -- but, I am so proud of you for the stalwart and determined young lady that you are.  I am also very humbled and honored with your dedication and service to our Heavenly Father.  And, I commend you into His protection and blessing as you serve and show your love for Him and for His children in your missionary work.

With all my love, hugs and kisses,

Your Dad

Monday, June 9, 2014

June 9, 2014 - FELIZ CUMPLE...GUSANITOS...!

After printing out and reading all of your amazingly sweet emails last week, I was overwhelmed with the love and happy birthday wishes that you all sent my way!! I was at a loss for words and prayers of gratitude to my Heavenly Father for all of you and the amazing impact you have on my life.

This week, and this birthday was definitely...UNforgettable.... The reason for that can be summed up in one word...


disclaimer: this is not for those of you who are squirmers.
aka. family, you will love this...all the rest... I apologize for the excessive info and slightly classless nature of this email.

so the story goes a little something like this...

Wednesday before last... we had lunch with a member family, and because  I couldn´t eat the milanesas, she brought out some salchichas...which i´ve always avoided, but didn´t want to cause a scene. they were sketchy, but I just did it anyway.
The next day I was ill. we wondered if i´d gotten gluten some how? food poisoning maybe? 
flash to Monday of last week, i was not feeling so hot... and realized that I hadn´t gone to the bathroom in an unusually long time...
Tuesday. My stomach swolen to the size of a large balloon, decided to get over my pride and call hermana Ashby, the nurse. She said to take this gum laxative. So i did. and an hour later... miracle?... went to the bathroom..
only to my surprise.... out came 3 GUSANITOS!! (worms) 
shocked, and a little embarrassed, I called hermana Hales to come in for some intense comp bonding.  After swallowing the initial shock of the new little critters now SWIMMING around our toilet bowl (Don´t even worry, mom, I made ya a video)
so... even crazier, worms hide from light... so snapping a picture of them was tricky... sorry TMI
I called Hermana Ashby back, she asked if anything had happened, I gave her the news, followed by ¨Hermana Hales and I will be coming to Mendoza tomorrow to get some meds from you, okay??¨ She told hermana Hales to take the gum too, just in case.
Wednesday morning I woke up even sicker. we studied, had a lesson with Elisabeth. and then got on the colectivo to go to Mendoza. 
turns out, we got on the ¨scenic route¨bus this time, so instead of an hour, the trip took 2 hours and 15 minutes. followed by hermana Hales and I SPRINTING to the public terminal restrooms.
long story short, spent 5 hours in the bathroom in the offices waiting for Hermana Ashby. Poor office elders, ha.
Hermana Ashby made a phone call to the area mission doctor, just to get a second opinion on the fact that the worms just magically came out by themselves, and were actively swimming around. ¨Have you ever seen that in your years of experience?¨she asked him. ¨Well, no, I NEVER have... but there´s a first for everything.¨ just keeping up with the ¨be the exception to the rule¨ trend we seem to have going on. 

Thursday. June 5. MY big day.....and started my de-worming process.sick from the pills all morning. 
*party with familia Leguiza. 
they even wrapped presents, made a balloon chandelier, lit a firework candle, and sang. I really was spoiled! LOVE THEM! 


* don´t worry, mom, I made ALL 22 of them fit in my alfajor. ion

*birthday bow. and my cute comp decorated the pench.

*mirror selfie. guilty. it was my birthday.

 We went to our lunch with the elders at the restaurant of a family in the ward. I just ate a little chicken.
They were all awesome, and it was definitely a memory worthy celebration. After lunch I decided to tough it and go track down some investigators.
But, shortly found out that worms and chicken don´t mix, and could barely walk without throwing up.
The rest of the weekend was spent on my 3 day de-worming diet.
Saturday afternoon, feeling sorry for my comp and also going crazy in the pench, I prayed and decided to go out. We did a few hours of solid knocking in the cold, and then, as Hermana Hales puts it, the Rollercoaster ride came to a complete stop.
That night I took some oils, and went to bed early.  

we are now on a full and upward swing. It was a trial by fire... but we survived. My comp is a saint. and we are now much, much closer.

I love you all so much! 
xoxox Your Hermana C

* my comp will be the perfect little mormon momma. She made me jello.. and then put VEGGIES in it to make it nutritious. yummm??

Monday, June 2, 2014

June 2 2014 - Argentina Winter

beautiful mountains

* after walking 45 minutes to track down a barrio that doesnt exist... oh the joys of creating your own map. HOW DID LEWIS AND CLARK DO IT??? 

Beautiful Argentina!

June 2, 2014 - You've Got to Keep Your Head Up!

 The adventure continues this week in the lives of the hermanas of Urbana B. The greatest logros of this week consist of a functioning map, a solid idea of where most of the barrios and stores are, AND we even have some investigators! 

*Elisabeth. She is a lady that has been coming EVERY WEEK to church for the last 20 years. and NEVER got baptized. Why? you may ask... i know i did...well, she had some doubts that never got resolved... really it could be a whole bunch of things, but it seemed like no one had really sat her down to tell her how much the Lord loved her, how much we love her, and how great of an opportunity and blessing baptism can be for her. After a very long, and spiritual lesson, she opened up, we prayed and read with her, and she agreed to be baptized on June 7! It just killed me to think how happy the Lord will be that one of his precious daughters will FINALLY take that step! 
*David. Testiguo de Jehová. JW. super tricky, and we finally turned him over to the elders so that they could go over more frequently. (member presents are tricky when you don´t know anyone) But he is also getting baptized this weekend! 
* Alé (y Roberto). I saw her headed home one night, she was outside smoking, and I stopped to offer her a card. I just started to talk, and she looked at the card, then up at me, put out her cigarette, and said ¨Do you want to come into my negocio for a minute?¨ We followed her inside, and she asked us to explain more about the card, ¨Does God really have a purpose for my life?¨  We taught her about prayer, she was raised Evangelica but doesn´t have a relationship with God right now. She is a young mom and her kids are her world, so we used that to explain how the Lord feels about her, and why it´s important that she communicates with him through prayer. We have now had two lessons with her there, and she is So prepared. ha she makes this face, like almost like something literally hit her, when she feels the spirit and is so dispuesta to learn more. BUT... she isn´t in our area, so we have to pass her off to the elders :(, but she´ll still come to our ward, so we´re stoked. 
*Elsa. another young mom. she was a futuro, meaning we just found her name in the book. we showed up and she just ushered us right in. She loves God and really wants to do the best and be the best for her kids. She has gone through a LOT, lots of trials with her family, but is super determined to come closer to God. Her little son, Yair was on the couch. He´s 3 and has some learning disabilities, is hyperactive, and just kind of crazy. So we asked if we could sing a song. We started singing ¨Soy un Hijo de Dios¨and he just got so quiet. Came quietly over and hugged onto his mom, looked at us with this big grin. It was all I could do not to cry. He knew who we were. He is so close to the Lord, and has been missing that spirit and love in his home for several years. He recognized it, and as a result, his mom was able to notice the difference. We have another appointment with her tomorrow. 

So now, allow me to explain the change of mindset this week. 
     There was a day this last week where we´d walked all morning, we were cold, wet, and really tired. we hadn´t gotten into any houses, and well, we decided to take a much-needed five. So there we were, in a plaza somewhere, sitting on a bench, and hermana Hales just said ¨It´s times like these where I wish I could cry. Just a little.¨ We just looked at each other and laughed. 
     But then I just had this thought. This is such a great opportunity. It´s not very often you get the chance to wash, in a hard area, with a comp who is finishing, and coming up on the finish yourself. It´s such a blessing to know that the Lord trusts us to be here. Things being what they are. There´s a lot we´re up against, but that just means that there´s something He wants us to learn. This is like our ¨last stand¨ chance to prove what we´ve learned. To really show Him how bad we want it, and what we´re willing to do to continue being shaped and changed into what he needs us to be when this is all over. 
     I´ve thought back a lot to my time in the beginning of the mission. Being a greenie and training someone else, opening an area with my MTC comp, washing my first area in Tunuyán... Those times were honestly some of the ¨hardest¨... but the thing that I remember the most is the incredible growth that I saw in myself during those times. 
     So many times throughout the mission, especially when you spend months in one area, you begin to get a handle on things, you start to feel like you´re getting it down, you get comfortable. But then, just when you think you´ve ¨arrived¨... The Lord has this way of throwing you a curve ball. 
I am SO grateful for that. That he knows me so well, and allows me to go through different ¨phases¨ that teach me such different things. All coming together to help me with that goal of being better than when I started.
     There´s a quote from Elder Scott that I love ¨Your strength of character is ultimately more important than your worldly possessions, than what you may have learned, or the ¨goals¨ that you may have accomplished.¨ How well have we taken advantage of the opportunities to learn, grow, and develop Christlike attributes? Are we better people because of it? Will we use it to our advantage the next time the storms come? 

      I think sometimes because we do have so much ¨time¨ in the mission, so much ¨experience¨, we even get harder on ourselves when we´re not perfect, or don´t have it all under control. I WILL NEVER BE A PERFECT MISSIONARY. and the great thing is, the Lord doesn´t expect me to be. My job is to be a courageous, loving, hard-working, dedicated, diligent and worthy instrument in His hands. Proving to Him through my thoughts, words, and actions that I am here to give Him everything and accomplish what HE wants of me. 

     Last week in consejo, Presidente Ávila said: ¨If the Lord wanted, he could send angels to teach and convert the people...¨ He could easily hasten the work and soften hearts so much that there would be overnight success and mass conversion.
But that isn´t the point. This is HIS work, and it happens in His time and according to His wisdom. There is a greater plan in play than just rapid success and baptisms. He calls us, and allows us to be the laborers, so that we as well are changed and challenged to become.

     While we are helping the Lord to build His kingdom, He is building US. 

The Lord knows each of us so personally, he knows what we need right now, and what we will need to get us through the ¨tough times¨in the future. Sometimes we don´t even realize all the growth, stamina, and ¨wisdom¨that he´s given us until we are thrown into a situation where we have to apply it. Only then will we realize how good He has been to us.

I heard it said once... ¨It´s not where we´re planted that really matters, it´s how we respond to the nourishing.¨

I´ve thought back on that several times as I´ve heard others say things like: ¨If I could just serve en _____ area...¨ ¨If my family could just stop having problems...¨ ¨If only I could have a bishop, ward mission leader, or companion that wanted to work... THEN i´d have success.¨  We are always so prone to that ¨grass is greener¨ mentality.. as if the only thing that really affects our success and growth are the circumstances around us that, in all reality, we have NO control over....
The success is in our attitudes. In the way we accept the frequent ¨pruning¨, trying, proving and growing.

  I often think of the quote mom often uses: ¨Adversity doesn´t build character, it reveals it, and we have a choice as to what will be revealed.¨

     I recently have received several letters from friends, family, and other missionaries who are going through some unimaginably hard things in their lives. I feel so grateful for the knowledge we have of the gospel as I read their testimonies, and feel of the strength that they are receiving from the Lord to smile and move forward in spite of the challenges. It makes me realize that  our trials are unique to us. Although we still may have those days of wondering ¨How¨ we will make it through,, the Lord knows our limits. Sure, he pushes them sometimes, but He will never, NEVER give us more than He will make us capable of handling. 

     Tough days will come. Trials, no doubt. But what matters is that we have in mind who we are. And maintain the hope of what´s to come. To remember who´s team we´re on. That all of the help, the forces, the love, and the strength we need are just a prayer away. When those waves come, when the wind is blowing hard, when the snow is falling down, and when we have those moments of wondering whether to shrink or fight, we have to remember, we are in the work of the LORD. We have every reason to hold strong, keep the faith, and keep our heads high.
He will not leave us alone! 

I love you all. Stay strong, keep the faith, and know that I love you so much! 
xoxox Your Hermana C