Monday, July 28, 2014

Monday July 28, 2014 - So I know I´ve been off grid for a while... but here´s a few pictures from the last 2 months.‏

I'm on top of the World!


We hiked to the ¨Cristo Rey¨ ... SO catholic..

The road to Tupangato

All my comps taking good care of me...3 kilos of Grido!(Ice cream)
Happy Sweet 16 to my not so baby brother!

I took a photo just in case this doesn´t make it to you!
I love you so much ry!!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Monday July 21, 2014 - I Stand all Amazed

This has been a great week! SUPER LONG, but at the same time, there just is never enough time to get everything done. It´s the middle of winter here, but you would never know it because the weather has been absolutely fantastic! I´m hoping we continue to be blessed with an absense of snow... at least until september or so ;)

This week, with everyhting that was happening, interviews with Pres, conferences, preparing classes and presentations, and intercambios with the hermanas... oh yes, we´re trying to get back in the swing of things... 
I was thinking of how perfectly ordered, timed, and planned everything is in the Lord´s ¨schemes¨... I was thinkng of how often... going along with my theme of last week, there comes a necesity on my part to be patient.. and not in the ¨passively sitting around¨ way we often associate with the word... but in the ¨trusting that the Lord has every intention of fulfilling His promises, His work, and His Glory, all in HIS own time and His own way.

I went to Preach my Gospel... and studied the (as Presidente Monson calls it) ¨Celestial attribute of Pacienia¨. There are so many relatos of missionaries, peoples, and even some of my greatest Book of Mormon heroes who had to, and often to the extremes sometimes... suffer hardships in the service of the Lord. 
One of my favorites is that of Alma and his mission to preach to the Zoramites. (Alma 31:31-38) Those misisonaries knew ahead of time that theirs was a ¨great mission¨that they had much work ahead of them... and in the beginning, the honestly had no idea what was to be expected. Saying things like ¨Maybe¨or ¨Somehow¨we´ll be able to touch the hearts of the people and have some success..
Later in the story, Alma, cries to the Lord, asking for strength and help that he is lacking. 

O Lord, my heart is exceedingly sorrowful; wilt thou comfort my soul in Christ. O Lord, wilt thou grant unto me that I may have strength, that I may suffer with patience these afflictions which shall come upon me... 

I love the open, raw, honestness of Alma. THey were struggling, and he honestly felt at times like he, alone, just could not bear the sorrow..I have felt those feelings at times... as have we all. Tired, utterly exhausted, and beyond knowledge of knowing how to comfort ourselves...But the more I think and really stop to look around me... I realize. I don´t have to be alone. There are so many others here around me. Alma continues on in his prayer: 

 32 O Lord, wilt thou comfort my soul, and give unto me success, and also my fellow laborers who are with me—yea, Ammon, and Aaron, and Omner, and also Amulek and Zeezrom, and also mytwo sons—yea, even all these wilt thou comfort, O Lord. Yea, wilt thou comfort their souls in Christ.
 33 Wilt thou grant unto them that they may have strength, that they may bear their afflictions which shall come upon them because of the iniquities of this people.
 34 O Lord, wilt thou grant unto us that we may have success in bringing them again unto thee in Christ.
 35 Behold, O Lord, their souls are precious, and many of them are our brethren; therefore, give unto us, O Lord, power and wisdom that we may bring these, our brethren, again unto thee.
 36 Now it came to pass that when Alma had said these words, that he clapped his hands upon all them who were with him. And behold, as he clapped his hands upon them, they were filled with the Holy Spirit.
 37 And after that they did separate themselves one from another,taking no thought for themselves what they should eat, or what they should drink, or what they should put on.
 38 And the Lord provided for them that they should hunger not, neither should they thirst; yea, and he also gave them strength, that they should suffer no manner of afflictions, save it were swallowed up in the joy of Christ. Now this was according to the prayer of Alma; and this because he prayed in faith.
Sometimes, if we allow them to, our personal hardships become the focal point of our lives. They control us, define us, and ultimately become our downfall if we allow ourselves to sink into a black whole of self-pity and despair. BUT if we look around, we will easily see there are many others who, like us, are suffering... We can then choose to ¨curl up in a ball¨or we can choose to rise up and rise above. 

There´s a quote from Presidente Hinckley that I love: 
¨The best antidote I know for worry is WORK. The best medicine for despair is SERVICE. The best cure for weariness is the CHALLENGE of helping someone who is even more tired.¨ 

One of the greatest blessings the Lord has given me this week, was allowing me to meet people who need His love, support, and grace even more than I do.... and helping them understand who Christ is, and what He has done for them has helped me to realize all over again what He means to ME. 

Maxi (17). His life is rough, and he has had to ¨grow up fast¨and learn to fend for himself. He really had never thought about a relationship with God or Christ... but to explain to him who he is, WHOSE he is, and the love that Christ feels for him personally, had an immediately visible effect on him.

Belén (20) ... She met the missionaries 11 years ago, and off and on has been to church, met with them, heard ëverything¨...but when we showed up she told us she felt something new... still, the first time she didn´t want a ¨date¨to be baptized... but as we read with her, studied with her, and helped her apply things to herself... like we should... she received her answer... opened up to us, and CHOSE HER OWN BAPTISMAL DATE of 23 august. She needed to know her potential, know she had friends, and more, a loving Heavenly Father who is aware of her and wants the very best for her. 

Juani (11). Also has had to grow up fast. on his own, and really just needs to feel loved, appreciated and understood. He LOVES Jesus, he LOVES reading the Book of Mormon, and has the opportunity to be a shining light in a house that is very much lacking the influence of the spirit. He teaches me more than I teach him.

Lidia. She´s an older lady, we knocked her door. Both of us just kind of got pulled there, and she let us right in! (not normal). She´s a 7th day adventist and very active in her church... but recently separated from her husband of 30 years and needed  to feel loved. We shared the restoration with her and she told us ¨You know, that just makes sense.¨ She invited us to come to her congregation and share a message with the whole bunch! Ha... keep you posted.

Belén. Walking home late one night, I still had one Jesus card to give away... it was bitter cold, and there weren´t any people in the streets. about 3 blocks from our house, we crossed the street, and I saw a cute young girl walking toward us. As I called out to her, she bee-lined over to me. I held out the card, and noticed her eyes were a little teary. I found myself just telling her Jesus Christ  loves her, and that although things happen sometimes that we don´t understand, he is always there. I asked her if she´d ever questioned that. She started to cry, and told me that she´d been having a really hard night. I just wanted to hug her. We talked for several minutes, and I was just blown away at how much she needed just what we had to offer in that moment.
She doesn´t live in our area, but works here, so we´re hoping we´ll see her again. The Lord puts his children in the right place at the right time. 

Each of them comes from varying backgrounds, needs, and beliefs. But they all had something in common. They lacked that understanding of who Christ really is. What he has done for each of them, and what He continues to do and the way he blesses those who follow him, put their faith in him, and allow his love and his light to work more fully in their lives. 
I was studying the atonement this week, Christ´s experience in Gethsemane. He was completely alone in his suffering, even his own apostles fell asleep. But he knew his mission, knew the cost, and because of the great love he feels for each of us, he saw it through until the end.
Because of Him, because of what He did, I have hope. And I know my life has purpose. He was completely alone in the Garden, but thanks to Him, I don´t have to be. None of us ever has to feel alone. There is one who knows us, understands us, and is there to help us through. Come what may. 

I love you all so much! 
xoxox Your Hermana C

Monday July 14, 2014 - Slow and Steady Wins the Race

So how about those Mundial finals?? We ALMOST made the Argentine dream a reality. We of course didn´t watch the match... but as you can only imagine, things have been quite exciting around here lately.
I thought I got asked a lot before if I was German, but lately it´s been a constant obsession for all of us ¨gringos¨. 
But apart from the endless fútbol hype... This week was an exciting one for us as well.
Tuesday night after we got back from Mendoza,we had planned to go visit familia Salvatierra. I´m pretty sure I´ve written about them already... But they´re a part-member family, the first we met here in Urbana. The grandpa,Angel, has been a member for years, but is SUPER inactive. Juani, the 10 year old grandson got baptized about a year ago, but can´t ever get to church because he can´t walk the whole distance sólo. The house is FULL of parientes...but they´re the only two members. Juani´s mom, Débora, has been a focus of ours since we first met her. Young (super young, onlya couple years older than me), single mom, and her 2 kids are her world. She and Juani, and her 2 year old, Xiomara, captured my heart the first time we visited, and since then I´ve come to love them so much! 
They have a super crazy situation, crazy lives, but are SUCH amazing people, and need this gospel. The light of Christ is visible in each of them. They have such specific needs, but true desires to come to know  Christ.
Débora was a little hesitant at first...she´s very aware of the topic of ¨bautismo¨... for several years, as she´s watched the other members of her family investigate, she says she´s seen how they haven´t really been prepared, and as a result, aren´t active. She says that she wants it, but wants to be prepared, to do it right, and have it be a real change.
Solid. We assurred her of God´s love for her, and that this is His church. That we´re here to be ¨guides¨ and that our message will bring her the purpose, light, and happiness she is looking for in her home. 
...another background story: Maxi Salvatierra (tio of Juani, Débora´s 18 year old brother)answered the door a few weeks back, but after letting us in, disappeared. We went back another time to talk to Débora, and Angel asked us to give Maxi a Book of Mormon so he could have something good to read. We introduced the Book of Mormon, and committed him to read.
... okay, so back to this week. 
We went over to see how Juani and Débora were doing with their committment to read from the into... turned out they hadn´t read. So we sat down to read all together. While Débora finished cleaning, Juani wanted to sing a hymno. While he looked, Maxi came out of his room. ¨Hey! Are you going to come read with us??¨I asked him. He kind of just shrugged sleepily and went back to his room. Juani told us that Maxi has been in rare form lately...super rebelious..Just then, the dogs came running in, chasing their huge pet white rabbit. Xiomara then fell off a chair and started crying. Things just went completely nuts. I looked at Juani,and we started to sing: ¨Soy un hijo de Dios...¨ Débora came and sat down with Xiomara. She immediately stopped crying, and looked from Juani, to me, to Hermana Hales, and to her mom, smiling and singing along.
We finished, and it was so peaceful. ¨Otra!¨ Juanisaid and pointed to ¨Families can be together forever.¨As we sang, Maxi came out from his room and pulled up a chair by the fire. Hermano Angel came in the door from work.
Juani said the prayer,and we decided to start reading. We started with Juani, reading one-by-one,explaining the story to Maxi and Débora. Then, I handed the Libro to Maxi. He took it and read, then Débora, then Angel. I looked over at Juani who grinned and winked.
And so we went, reading in our little circle around a tiny kitchen table in a smoggy dark room, lit only by the giant fire.
The spirit was tangible, and the peace was incredible. Even the giant white rabbit stopped hopping everywhere and sat quietly at our feet.
We reached the verse in 1 Nefi 1:12 where it says ¨As [Lehi] read (the scriptures), he was filled with the spirit of the Lord¨.
I testified to them that the peace they were feeling was that same spirit... that this Book, the Book of Mormon is true, it is the word of God and as we´d read in the intro, has the power to bring us closer to Him than any other. It testifies of His great love for us.
It got quiet, and then Hermano Angel straightened up and said ¨I´d like to share my testimony...¨He shared a simple but heart-felt testimony of how he´d personally found happiness in this message. And how although he´s not going to church as much as he should right now, he knows this is God´s true church, that Joseph Smith is a profet, and that the scriptures bring power. He then invited his grandkids to read it and learn for themselves.
It was an incredible and powerful moment. And I was immediately so grateful for all of those little miraculous moments in this work. Just to help set the scene of what it´s like. It´s experiences like that that make this work the most rewarding thing I´ve ever done.
We saw several other miracles this week. Got into houses of some amazing people, and we´ve got plans for each of them to help them to really move forward. These things might not happen over night, but we´re happy to be back in the game!
This week I read a talk by Presidente Uchtdorf from a few conferences ago:¨Of things that matter Most¨. In it he discusses how so often in today´s world, our lives become hectic, so full of ¨things to do¨.. it´s easy to be ¨busy¨,but ¨life and it´s rushed pace and many stresses may make it difficult to feel like rejoicing.¨
He then, as usual,likened it to piloting. He said upon encountering turbulence inflight, ¨a student pilot may think that increasing speed is a good strategy because it will get them through the turbulence faster. But that may be the wrong thing to do. Professional pilots understand there is an optimum turbulence penetrationspeed that will minimize the negative effects of turbulence. And most of the time that would mean to reduce your speed.¨
The same applies to our lives. When things get bumpy, out of our control,¨Whenstress levels rise, when distress appears, when tragedy strikes, too often we attempt to keep up the same frantic pace or even accelerate, thinking somehow the more rushed our pace, the better off we will is good advice to slow down a little, steady the course, and focus on the essentials when experiencing adverse conditions.

Sticking with my goal to have a ¨theme¨or ¨motto¨for each transfer, I had decided that this one would be ¨so RUN. that ye may obtain¨ I wanted to work hard, push far, and not let up...But just as Pres. Uchtdorf explained with turbulence, I realized I would ¨do well to slow down a little, proceed at the optimum speed for (my)circumstances, focus on the significant, lift up (my) eyes, and truly see the things that matter most.¨ Doing it right, being smart, being thorough, sincere, and constant, brings joy, satisfaction, and feelings of true success and cotentment. 
He says:¨The search for the best things inevitablyleads to the foundational principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ...these core doctrines and principles, though simple enough for a child to understand, provide the answers to the most complex questions of life. There is beauty and clarity that comes from simplicity that we sometimes do not appreciate in our thirst for intricate solutions.¨
He tells the story of Vince Lombardi and how at the beginning of every season, he takes his players through the very BASICS. because he knows that no matter their skill lever, or years of experience, they can onlybecome great by mastering the fundamentals. 
Leonardo da Vinci said ¨Simplicity is the ultimate  sophistication¨. It goes back to that idea of working harder vs. working smarter. 
¨All these things... in wisdom and order, for it is not requisite that [we] should run faster than [we have] strength.[But] it is expedient that [we] shouldbe diligent,[and] the prize.¨
The Lord sent me to this quiet, sleepy little town to give me a change of pace to teach me that ¨fast paced¨isn´t always what this work is really about. Yes, the Lord is ¨hastening¨ His work, but if we work hastily and without the right focus.We are sure to reach that burn out point, and miss the beauty and the little miracles along the way. 
¨diligentlydoing the things that matter most willlead us to the Savior of the world... in the complexity,confusion, and rush of modern living, this is the ¨more excellent way¨.¨
Like Vince Lombardi with his players,I´ve realized the imporance of ¨mastering the fundamentals¨.No matter where we´re at in life... it´s always wise to ¨check our progress¨, CHECK OUR VITALS, and remind ourselves of the basics.
To keep at the forefront of our minds a balanced perspective, and to redirect our focus to the most important things in life.
I love you all so much, I hope you have a great week! 
Esta semana que viene! 
xoxoxo Your Hermana C

7/07/2014 - How to Survive Your Greatest Blessings!

Hola queridos míos!! 
First of all. I have to tell you what happened with this whole ¨Bryan´s mission call thing¨. So when mom told me that he had turned in his papers, and was waiting anxiously due to what his patriarchal blessing said... we left cyber in deep thought, and my response to Hermana Hales and what I wrote in my journal was:
 ¨Welp... I wonder what my parents are going to think when he gets his call to Argentina...¨
My entire district was blown away with the news... but a little humored at the accuracy.
HOWEVER. with that being said. BRY. I am So thrilled for you! Although I seriously do not feel like you are old enough to be joining me out here in the mission field. But I know that the Lord has special plans for your mission, and I´m excited that I will get back a few months before you leave so that I can fill you in on all things Argentina. AND we get to speak Castellano together, CHE! 

These last few weeks have without a doubt been some of the longest and most emotional that I can remember. 
With all of the ups and downs, I was sure that I was ready to get answers, get results, and that everything was going to be fine.
Sunday was rough. Monday and Mom´s ¨Tough question¨ got me thinking a lot. And all of that came together as I went on Tuesday to meet the Goates for the first time and within the first 5 minutes of talking, President Goates, ¨being real¨ with me, asked ¨I know that you are suffering. And it worries me that we might not be able to get you the help you need here in Argentina. Do you feel that you need to go home right now?¨
No missionary ever wants to be asked that question, and I´m no exception.
I asked him to wait until we got results, could talk over all of the options, and then, I would be realistic in making a decision. 
Spending 4 days in the mission home this week, waiting while results were discussed, and being told time and time again of the high likelihood of going home, made for the longest week of my mission... and a lot of overwhelmed emotions. 
My heart was extremely heavy, and my eyes a little teary having to face that reality that I never thought would be an issue on my mission. 
I prayed long and hard that somehow the ¨not so impressive¨ results and numbers wouldn´t leave me without an option... 

Back in Seattle, I heard a talk by Emily Watts called ¨How to survive your greatest blessings¨. In it, she explains how often in life, some of our greatest blessings are often tied closely with some of our greatest trials. But how it is then our choice to work to ¨see the blessing side of the coin¨. 

She tells a story of a pioneer girl in the Martin handcart company. She´d walked thousands of miles, suffered much, and could not have been more overwhelmed with joy and gratitude when the rescue party arrived. Loading all of the survivors onto a wagon, on of the rescue men looked down at this skinny, starving girl and saw that she was without shoes, and as a result her feet were severely frost-bitten. He realized that if she climbed into the wagon now, she would surely lose her feet. Thinking quickly, he told her to grab on to the side of the wagon. she did so, and he signaled to the horses to go faster, faster. She struggled to keep up, and then found herself running. She didn´t want to get left behind. He kept the horses going, kept her running, for several hundred yards. and then stopped and helped her up into the wagon. She looked at him in bewilderment, but then he told her ´The circulation to your feet will save them now.¨
Later, when asked about the experience, this young girl said that in that moment, as she started to struggle to run. All she could do was ask herself: ¨What is he doing? I´m exhausted. I´m not going to make it! Why isn´t he picking me up?¨ She said it was after that she realized in that moment she couldn´t see it, couldn´t understand, but really he wasn´t making her suffer needlessly, he was saving her feet.

There´s a scripture in 1 Nephi 11:17: I know that the Lord loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things. 
There is so much that I still don´t understand of the Lord´s ways, His divine plans. But I, like Nephi, know that HE LOVES ME, that He is aware of me, and that He is providing me with ¨pruebas¨ to try me, grow me, and help me to see things more as He hopes I will. 

There are two stories in the scriptures that I love. one is in Deuteronomy 8, the other in 2 Nefi 1. Both tell the story of a people wandering in the ¨wilderness¨.Often times they asked themselves if the Lord had forgotten them, if their sufferings were for naught, if they were really capable of reaching their ¨destinations¨. 
But as always, along the way, the Lord provided them with means (food, clothes, guidance, directions, divine help). Just has He has with me. 
¨The Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land... (after) then shalt thou bless the Lord thy God for the good...which He hath given thee.¨(Deut. 8:2) 
¨Notwithstanding our afflictions, we have obtained a land of promise.¨(2 nefi 1:5) 
Theirs was a literal wilderness. But so many times I have been able to liken their experiences to my own ¨journeyings¨here in Argentina. 
The Lord has been SO good to me! 
Right now I can´t think of anything greater, or of more value that the Lord could have granted me than the privilege of being here as an instrument in this, His great work.
Yesterday in church, I had another realization all over again of just how much it means to me to wear this placa. To represent the Savior, Jesus Christ and His church.

There´s nothing more motivating or that makes you appreciate, value, and want to fight for this great opportunity than almost having to give it up early.
I´m so grateful that the Lord has given me this time to be able to stay here for now, with high hopes that all will be well, and that I can finish strong and continue working to find those who are prepared. To share with others what I KNOW without a doubt to be true.

God loves His children. There is undeniable evidence of that all around us. Prayer brings an indescribable power and peace into our lives. He hears us and answers us. Those answers might not come in the way or in the time that we think we need. But just like the handcart girl, we must trust enough to hold on, keep going, and think of what he´s saving; what he´s preparing us for.
Jesus is the living Christ. Anything unfair, difficult, or seemingly impossible in this life can be made right through His unwavering love and the enabling power of His atonement.
Yes, He has given us power over sin, the ability to repent, to change. From bad to good and good to better. But He also gave us the power, strength, and grace we need to rise above heartache, sickness, despair, and the often unexplainable trials and tests that inevitably come in this mortal life.
I´m still far from perfect at accepting graciously and coping patiently with afflictions and hardships. For that I´m grateful that the Lord knows me so personally. What I need. And that He loves me enough to continue giving me opportunities to humble myself, submit to His will, His plans, learn more of my dependence on Him, and to come to recognize ¨the blessing side of the coin.¨ 

I love you all so much! 
Thanks for all the love, support, prayers and strength. 
Here´s to an amazing week! 
xoxox Your Hermana C


6/30/2014 - And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done...‏

First of all, I just want to thank all of you for your fasting, prayers, and all of the notes and thoughts of encouragement.
this week... okay this past month... has been a real trial for me. It´s been hard to feel helpless, at a loss for knowing really who can give me what help I need. It´s been hard not being able to go out and work how I want to, how I want my comp to be able to, and just feeling completely exhausted, sick, and overwhelmed.
But I would be completely ungrateful and blind if I didn´t acknowledge that I´ve seen the hand of the Lord in my life. Guiding me, strengthening me, and putting people in my path to help. He has been so good to me.
Last Monday night, I was feeling really sick, and anxious and scared about having to go to the hospital here... So I asked for a blessing from my zone leader. It was honestly one of the most incredible experiences I´ve ever had. I could feel that the Lord is aware of me, loves me, and will make all of this work out. I really can´t explain how I felt. 
During the week though, I hit all new levels of sick... being out here in Urbana I´m kind of isolated, and really until we get results back from the doctors, there´s not much I can do... I thought several times this week ¨At this rate, with how my body´s fighting, I will have fought the whole battle myself before they even get me any results!¨
I kind of had another little moment of doubt and WHY? and kind of feeling a little sorry for myself. But then I had a thought. Well, what are you going to do about it then? The Lord wouldn´t just put me in this position to suffer, or to ¨fizzle out¨.. justo. I opened my English scriptures where I had a sticky note with a quote from Elder Orson F. Whitney: 

¨No pain that we suffer, no trail that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude, and humility. All that we suffer and all tht we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God... And it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire and which will make us more like our Father and Mother in heaven...¨ 

I went to the scriptures, and decided on Alma 26. I know there have been several times when I´ve used this chapter.. but again, it changed my life, my perspective, an every time I read it, I receive so much peace in what I´m doing.

He starts out right at the beginning saying ¨How great reason have we to rejoice!¨ Could we have (imagined when we left for our missions) that God woul have granted unto us such great blessings?¨ Then he asks them to name some of the blessings they´ve seen.. but without waiting for the answer, he says basically ¨Well, I´ll tell you!¨ 
¨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 hit me hard. This really really is the greatest blessing the Lord has ever given me. the chance to have come out here and been a part of His work. 
Later on, Ammon tells them, ¨Behold, the number of your sheaves.¨ or rather, look at all the Lord has entrusted you with! 
He then starts from the beginning tlaking about all of the trials, mockings, persecutions, failures, hardships. How many times they had reason to stop, go back.
But then he says ¨(We came) with the intent that perhaps we mightsave some few of their souls.¨ 
¨Now when our hearts were depressed, andwe were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success.¨
And he says, we have suffered... ¨all manner of afflictions¨. BUT.
¨Behold, we can look forth and see the fruits of our labors; and are they few? I say unto you nay, they are many; yea, and we can witnes of their sincerity, because of their love towards their brethren and also towards us.¨

In the middle of everything that happened this week, because we were in Mendoza for leadership trainings, pdays, farewells, and everything, I had to glimpse at a lot of the ¨fruits¨from my mission.
*I got news from the Seattle missionaries, that they are now getting a Spanish BRANCH started in the May Valley, where Hermana Cooley and I opened! We were so excited to hear that the seeds are growing, and that our ¨effectual door¨has been opened so that the work can really move forward there! 
* I got to be back with all of my comps for several days. All of us (from the MTC) are now leaders together, and it was a blast to hear about everyone´s missions. 
* Hermana Flores´comp was sick too, and so she came into the offices, and I got to see her for an hour and catch up.
* I got news from familia Sesma from the hermanas that are there now. They are rock stars, like always. and always send so much love and gratitude. 
*Our last night in Mendoza, they had to move us from the offices because they had to repaint, so Hermana Hales and I got to go stay in Dorrego, where I got to go and visit Camila and Sofía. WHO GOT BAPTIZED. it was a last minute surprise for all of us, and their reactions were priceless. I love those girls. and their family has already started seeing so many blessings and miracles for their faithfulness.  

They were moments of tender mercies, allowing me to see all of the ways the Lord has blessed me during my time out here on the mission. Seeds become little sprouts, that when nourished with time and the gospel, spring up and become great ¨fruits¨. and they are MANY. 

I thought about Ammon´s recounts of the ups and downs, but also how he tells that they experienced the greatest joy they could have ever imagined. Inspite of all of the trials, hardships, and the fact that the mission isn´t always ¨easy¨. 
I thought back to President Uchtdorf´s last talk about ¨Being grateful IN your circumstances... whatever they may be.¨ It may not be preferalbe, comfortable, convenient, timely, fun... you get it... But even in the most seemingly unfair and hopeless of circumstances, I´ve realized taht there is always something to be learned, and that if you look for and focus on it, there is SO very much to be grateful for.

I´m grateful for all of you!! I´ve always been so blown away at the great support system that I am so blessed to have. I really do feel so very blessed and loved! 

Con Muchísimo Amor,

xoxox Your Hermana C

6/21/2014 - Keeping your head above water...‏

So this week is a little crazy as far as emails go... we´ll be in Mendoza on monday for a farewell/pday with the Ávilas and all of the lideres. So we just have a few minutes right now.

This weeks has been... well... to be honest, rough.
We´ve talked a lot about how in more ways than just one, we´ve kind of been thrown into ¨survival mode¨. more literally than I would have liked, and it´s always a little bit more of a blow this late in the game.
Honestly with everything...changes, challenges... and one sickness after the next. Worms, Hermana Hales got really nasty bronchitis... and now... with the current predicament in which we find ourselves.... I honestly have just kind of gotten to the point where i want to say BASTA! 
We´ve talked several times about how hard Satan is pushing against us.

Once, back in San Juan, when I was going through another one of those trying moments, I prayed to find the strength, to not feel so alone... and I opened to Joseph Smith History: 

I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction.
 16 But, exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction—not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being—just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head....
Just as Joseph was in the most intense point of his adversity, ¨about to abandon himself to destruction¨, THEN the Lord stretched forth His hand.

One of my favorite stories is in Matthew 14:24-31.

 24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.
 25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
 26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
 27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of goodcheer; it is I; be not afraid.
 28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
 29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
 30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
 31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
I feel like lately I´ve been a little bit of a Peter. When I left Dorrego, i was sad to leave, but then, seeing this as a great opportunity... and maybe even gettng a little bit ahead of myself... thinking i have ¨lots of time¨in the mission...experience... I can use the things I´ve learned, seen, the attributes I´ve developed..
Like Peter, I jumped over the edge.
As we worked and worked. Nothing to start with. No results being seen. And then the weeks went on. Sickness after sickness... In those second and third watches, we are prone to think many things... God isn´t listening. He doesn´t care right now. Maybe I´m not doing what it takes to be worthy of being saved. The  reality really starting to hit me... and honestly I felt like I was starting to sink.
in the story, Peter, in his moment of realization...even with all of his ¨experience¨with the sea.. he knew better than to try and fight it out...struggle alone. He called out to Jesus to help him.
Sometimes that´s a concept that I struggle with. as you all know... I have that ¨superwoman complex¨ and try to just tough it out.
But I´ve learned... and especially as of late that when i´m drowning, figthing the waves just makes exhaustion come that much faster.

Just like with Peter, Christ´s hand is always outstreched. Maybe He hasn´t quite raised me up to the point of ¨walking on the water¨... because maybe i´m not ready for that yet. But He outstreched His hand, and is allowing me to rely on His strength... keeping my head above the water. To recognize more and more each day my dependence on Him and to allow Him to take control. 

Just like He did with Peter, Christ welcomes and even encourages our eagerness even knowing sometimes that there are just some things that we´re not capable of doing ourselves.
but he also knows they allow for great growth and recognition on our part. He allows us to try...and yes, sometimes start to sink. and it´s then, in those moments, when we recognize our true dependence on Him.
Storms are an unavoidable part of each of our lives. Some toss about just a little bit, and then land us safely on shore.
While others swirl, grow, and threaten us to the point where the ¨watches¨got on, the night seems long, and there is seemingly no sign of a break or morning.

We worship a ¨fourth watch God¨. Sometimes He waits until we think that all hope is lost, until we have exhausted all of our own efforts. But He always comes in and reminds us that He knows where we are, what we´re going through, and that He is in control.

¨Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.¨

I love you all so much.
xoxox Your Hermana C