Wednesday, December 3, 2014

December 1st 2014

Dear Family,

I woke up this morning and had butterflies in my stomach! It is the FIRST of December! We will be seeing each other before this month ends! Can you believe it? There is a lot to do in that time, though!

Thanks for all the pictures from the Morrey reunion! You are all looking so great and happy! I am glad it was a good break for everyone.

Lunes. Monday.
Before the mission, I could pretend mimic a Spanish accent while speaking English. Now, my English sounds like Spanish. I often find myself saying full sentences in English, but perfectly pronounced in Spanish. It´s a bit of an embarrassment. The worst part is, NOBODY understands it.

Today we taught 14 year old Scarlette the Word of Wisdom. She had an idea of what it was from watching her cousins (Patricio and Tatiana who just got baptized.) She has been off tea, for 3 days! It is adorable. She told us she reads her scriptures and prays. It is amazing to see the difference in her eyes and in the excitement she has not only for church studies but also for her school work. She has improved in so many aspects. The gospel changes LIVES.

I have confirmed that I am losing my mind. Today I did splits with Hermana Altamirano in my area. We taught a lesson, and then finished with a prayer. Then we were waiting for a second because our member that was accompanying us was in the bathroom. Then the member came out and I had completely forgotten we had finished with a prayer. So, I INSIST that we pray again because I couldn´t remember it and I thought that the teenage girl and my comp were playing a joke. SO, in good humor, our little investigator prayers…AGAIN. In the middle of the prayer she said something that I remembered from the first prayer. Then when we finished we all started laughing because Hermana VanCott is apparently the prayer Nazi. 2 prayers to finish a lesson. Haha.

Hermana Altamirano is being trained by Hermana Volkert and they both live with me. Hermana Altamirano read in the missionary handbook how she has to call leaders by their full titles…so now the little sarcastic Peruvian girl curtsies and calls me ¨Hermana Lider Capacitadora Van Cott ¨ when asking me questions. Haha. OH! Fun fact, she is from Cuzco and met Leann Allred a few times while Leann was serving her mission. Wild. Small world in the church.

Today I had Mission Leadership Council. We talked about how we are going to use the ¨He is the Gift¨ message the church has released. We also talked about 3 Nephi 1 and how we can apply the message of this chapter that talks about Christ’s birth to our lives.

Today was the primary program. It went well. Poor Hermana Volkert got stuck playing all the songs. I was in charge of talk duty and leading a few special musical numbers. We were DEAD after Sacrament meeting. Plus, I woke up congested with a sore throat so that made everything butterflies and daisies.

Then we went to Familia Cabezas house for lunch. We ate beans. Do you know what beans do to me?! You don’t want to know. Just know that it is bad.

Then we had to do my all time favorite thing in the world and register our recent converts in family search and teach them how to use it. It is always the most complicated thing for me to explain in Spanish.

Now here we were, 30 minutes before our branch activity. The branch president calls us and says, ¨Hermanas, you know you are in charge of the message for the activity, right?¨ I told him, ``Uh…no, but thanks for telling us! We will come up with something in a half hour and you can be in charge of getting our investigator there. `` So, that was a good switch because he had a car to get our investigator and we had time on the bus to ponder and pray about a message. We decided on sharing the bible video of Christ´s birth and having each person say one thing that they could give to Christ and Heavenly Father this month. We did it, sang lots of Christmas hymns, and it was a spectacular spectacular!!! (I am still quoting Moulin rouge…I am proud of myself…)
The greatest thing was to hear a few less active members say things like…

I am going to read my scriptures more.
I am going to be a better example for my kids.
I am going to give more time to service.
I am going to have more meaningful personal prayers.

There was a sweet spirit. At the end we summed it up by saying that we can´t give material things to God because all that we have is from him. The only thing we can really give him is our obedience and desire to follow Jesus Christ.

Now I am sitting here after planning, taking a hot shower to help me stop coughing, and now am pondering about how fast time is passing. Time flies when you are having fun! …or stressed out…either way.

Love you tons!
Hermana Van Cott
pic 1: Branch Activity.
Pic 2: Dani Molina, a returned missionary that has been helping us tons! She is awesome. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

November 17, 2014

Dear Family,

It was a crazy week because my dear Argentinean companion finishes her mission, today! So, we had a lot of meetings and I wasn't in my area very much. However, I do have some stories to share. Some funny, some not so funny. So, here theys ares.


We were in the house of some members that are returning to activity. We are teaching them the lessons again. This day we had planned a good lesson about how Jesus Christ established his church on the earth when he was here.

While we were in their house sharing, I felt like nothing was coming out right. I was teaching the lesson and so was my companion, but I felt like a robot reciting what I had studied for the last 20 years of my life. I said a silent prayer while my companion was speaking to know how we could help the couple to keep progressing. I began to speak, and went CLEAR off of where we had planned to go. It all flowed, but it was a little impromptu. I shared the story that mom wrote a few weeks ago in her letter about how she received her testimony that the stake president and bishop were men called of God and testified about the importance of gaining a testimony of supporting our leaders. The invitation we left them with was to think about the council that our branch president had given them, pray about it, and ask if he is a man called of God. We left the house…and get this; I even apologized to my companion for having gone so far off the goal! I felt like I had just changed topics, bore my testimony, and we finished with the invitation.

Well, here is the back story. Today I was talking to the wife in church. She tells me this…
¨Hermanita. The other day when you came to our house, my husband had been complaining the day before about a few things that President Rivera had told him. Then you taught us that lesson. After you left, my husband asked me if I had mentioned anything to you and I told him that I hadn’t had time to speak to you! He then told me that you sure hit the nail on the head with that lesson and he felt like you had chewed him out. I told him that you were representatives of Jesus Christ, so it was really HIM that was chewing you out! Jajajaja.¨

After she told me this, I KNEW KNEW KNEW that I am a servant of the Lord. I was SO humbled to know that I was completely guided, even though I didn’t understand or know what was going on in their lives. The moral of the story is what it says in Doctrine and Covenants 100: 5-6.
¨Lift up your voices unto this people; speak that thoughts that I shall put into your hearts…for it shall be given you in the very hour, yeah, in the very moment what ye shall say.¨

The Piano Story.

The fact that I can hack out a few simplified hymns makes me a professional pianist in the eyes of my fellow Chileans. We were at a stake relief society activity this last Saturday. There we are, sitting in the back of chapel, as the meeting starts. They announce the opening hymn and this lady from the stake who doesn’t even know me announces that I will be playing ``I Stand All Amazed¨ on the piano for the opening hymn. I go into shock because OF COURSE I don’t have my simplified hymn book with me and OF COURSE the song has to be a difficult one top lay even the top hand. So, all embarrassed I whisper loudly to the Hermana over the heads of about 100 hermanas that I have no idea how top lay that song. Thankfully she kept the flow and said it was ok to sing without piano. Ah, I just kick myself every time I think of how much Netflix I watched instead of practicing the piano… but in 42 more days I am SOOOOO excited to watch Netflix again!

The marathon.

One of the days that my companion was in a meeting I was here with Hermana Volkert in the other half of our branch. We had to cover the two areas and ended up walking about 2º something miles in the sun. The next day we had to stand in lines at the registro civil to get our visa stuff figured out for a few hours. When we got home, our knees were KNOCKING together. We about died. The moral of the story is that we walk a ton but I still don’t lose weight because everything we make is FRIED IN OIL! Lame. The end.

Well folks. Its nice chatting with you every Monday. We only have 5 more Mondays after today to catch up for the last year and a half of not writing me, so don’t be shy with the emails! Haha, just teasing. But really, write me.

I am staying here in Pirque to speed train a new missionary who I´ll meet tomorrow. I won’t have ANY time to think about home, which is a blessing. No offense. Wish me luck!

See you soon! Have a great week. If you feel sad or depressed from the cold weather, serve someone!


My comp seeing her mom for the first time today!
Hermana Runnells. She goes home today! I am going to miss her!
Hermana Talbot (the mission nurse), Me, and Hermana Tingey. These girls are a hoot. I will for sure be their BFF after the mission.

Monday, November 10, 2014

November 11, 2014

A Cousin's Reunion!!!


Dear Fambam and friends,
Today I got to see EVA! Oh, and Elder Nelson! It was awesome. Actually, the awesomest was to watch Eva shake hands with Elder Nelson. I got to shake his hand, too…but I got emotionally watching Eva shake his hand.
Eva, cough, Hermana VanCott the second is so beautiful! She still hasn’t gained her mission weight, so jealous. Her Spanish is AWESOME, like really good, and her companion is a doll. I got to meet the first girl she trained, too. WILD to see her here, in Chile, in my mission…ha.
Elder Nelson was fantastic. He talked about PURE DOCTRINE. Covenants, the atonement of Jesus Christ, and The Plan of Salvation. Oh, looky there, everything that we teach as missionaries! It’s amazing to know that he is a servant of the Lord, and so are we. We teach the same things.
I am at 49 days! That is less than 50, folks. Eva gave me a cute, creative, missionary agenda with my ¨post mission¨ agenda. I will show you when I get home because it is too clever for words. She made it all out of cut up Ensign Magazines. Love that girl.
Also, I love Christian! I am so proud of him. I know it is hard on the family to have 2 of us out, but the blessings will continue through eternity.
Monday, Tuesday
I forgot to write in my journal because I was tired. Oops. Now I don’t remember anything. Drats.
As I was running today my mind was with Elder Christian VanCott as he is flying to the Mexico Missionary Training Center. I prayed the whole time, hoping that he would be comforted, be able to focus and adapt, and that his trials would never be too big for his faith. I know that he is a million times more prepared than I was, so it gives me comfort knowing that if I could survive until now, he sure can!
Christian has a gift with people. He knows how to include everyone and not make people feel like ¨projects¨. He has a genuine love and concern for the progress of his friends, neighbors, and family. He will do amazing things! I can’t wait to read his missionary letters.
Today we had to go to the doctor because my companion has swollen glands. I couldn’t remember what glands were called in English, so as I explained to the doctor over the phone I felt like an idiot. I was all ¨These things in her throat hurt her…¨whilst pointing to my glands like a two year old who thinks that the doctor on the other side of the phone can see my gestures. Haha. I might be losing my mind. He was nice though. While we were at the doctor I took advantage and had him check out my jaw. The good news, I’m not crazy and I really do have something. The bad news…it’s TMG and there isn’t a ¨cure ¨ for it in the mission besides pain killers and muscle relaxers, neither of which I want to be popping every day. So, looks like my fun ¨to do¨ list when I get home involves an oral surgeon…shoot me.
Today we taught the Law of Chastity to our baptismal candidates. We taught them separately for their age difference, but I was amazed at how well they understood. They both realized that the things their friends do, the things they see on TV or in movies, and pop ups on the internet are not things that make them happy. As we taught it I felt so grateful for the gospel and to know that even though the world is terrible right now, there is a way to protect our families. Teaching the simple principles of faith and repentance in our families puts up a HUGE protection against that stuff. Every moment of every day these poor little kids get exposed to things and don’t understand what is going on until someone actually explains WHY it is wrong and HOW they can change and avoid those things in the future. The solution is NEVER to get mad or be judgmental or scare them into changing, because in the end they don’t understand the WHY or HOW. It is just a quick fix for the moment to make them stop the behavior. These kids need to know that they can trust in their parents or leaders to help them out of the situation. If they are afraid to talk to us, they sure as heck wont be getting good council or help from their friends and the world. Ah. There is my little rant for the day, but a good principle that I have learned for my life. I am going to have to do lots of ¨practice lessons with my future hubby to prepare for teaching experiences with my kids. Wait, that all depends on if I can lose the empanada weight and find a hubby in the first place…ah, yay! Don’t have to worry about it, haha. JK.
Today was full of miracles.
The chocolate miracle.
This morning I was praying and studying a lot about the gift of discernment and how I need to pay more attention to the promptings I receive. We were about a block from Loreto’s house when I had the thought that I should buy her a chocolate bar. Then I began to talk back to that thought…she´s sick, we only have a few minutes to teach her, etc… and in the end I didn’t buy the chocolate. We arrived at her house and my companion went to the bathroom. Loreto looks at me and says, ¨You know what Hermana, I have a craving for chocolate…like, really bad.¨ haha. I just smiled and said that Hermana Diaz and I would be right back. I know Loreto didn’t mean Ï want you to buy me a chocolate¨, but I did know that I had ignored a prompting. Plus, when a woman has a chocolate craving, you just don’t ignore that. Especially when she has 3 kids under the age of 3.
Loreto tells us that her husband, Hermes, told HER that he wants to go to church. He was baptized at age 10, but then went inactive and nobody in his family are members either, so he doesn’t really understand the doctrine. Up until now, he has actually put up a pretty good fight trying to stop Loreto from going. After several heartfelt prayers, a dedicated fast, and constant invitations to participate with us in our lessons, Hermes is on board. He still wants to be the man of the house and he wants it to be HIS idea, so the excuse for him wanting to go to church is, ¨The Hermanas have been good to us…¨. I think he just sees the change in Loreto and now wants that for himself…but that’s just me.
I arrived to the mission in the ward Enrique Olivares. Every day for six months we passed a man who sells avocados on the side of the road. We always had friendly chit chat. For Christmas we gave him a Book of Mormon and he gave us a bag of avocados. He told us last Christmas that the missionaries came to his house to teach his kids, and he really liked it. We told him to keep listening to the missionaries and to go to church.
Then I got transferred to another area, but still close to where he worked. I saw him about once a month for the next six months. We talked a little bit and kept the friendship going. I met a few of his kids and they were all very nice and hard workers.
Then, I had my random 4 week area and got to be in pretty much the same area as my first area in the mission, so I saw him everyday again. We would say ¨hola,¨ and ¨buenas noches¨. Then I got transferred.
Alright, so yesterday after just leaving Loreto´s house and on the way to lunch, I hear a car slowing down behind us. I turned around and saw the purple avocado truck! I couldn’t believe it. My friend rolls down the window and he was with a few of his kids. He says, ¨You´re here?!!?¨and I tell him that I have been here for a few months. He gave me his address and it turns out it is super close. He told us to pass next week to teach his family!
He drove away and I was in shock! It was a miracle. I can’t wait to actually teach them. If they keep progressing until I go home, they will be my investigators for a year and a half!
Today I had my interview with President Wright. I have been feeling like I need to strengthen my testimony in regards to the leadership of the church. My mom talked about when she received her testimony that the stake president was a man called of God to give direction for her and her family. I have always known and felt that we have a modern day prophet and that he is the spokesman for God on the earth, but I had never prayed to know if my local leaders were men of God.
So, this week I was praying to be able to support and sustain President Wright not only as a good leader, but as someone I KNOW is called of God.
The feeling of clarity and peace came as I talked to him. He normally asks if we have questions at the start of the interview, so I was going to ask him a few things then. But, he didn’t ask. We started the interview. He immediately shared with me some scriptures and thoughts that he had been having and they were answers to my questions, exactly. I know that President Wright is a man who has been called to preside over the Chile, Santiago East Mission. I won’t ever be able to deny it.
SO, first. I had to speak at church. My talk was about the atonement. It went well. I got lost once, and in Spanish it is hard to remember where I was…haha. I just laughed uncomfortably for a second and repeated the last word I had said about 20 times. They all giggled at the gringa, but ended up being very reverent.
Get this, our branch today had 90 something people in sacrament meeting. Get this, normally there are about 30, and normally that includes the stake presidency and stake relief society presidency. MIRACLES EXIST! Everyone came to church that said they were going to be there…Hermes and Loreto and one of their sons, too!
We also had two baptisms today! Tatiana and Patricio, the kids of the sandwich lady! The whole family was there. The two kids were BEAMING after their baptism. Tatiana couldn’t even speak because she kept tearing up. The little cutie has been so excited for MONTHS for this day. She makes her parents pray and read scriptures. She always sings the primary songs. She also taught her older brother, Patricio, and her younger sister, Valentina, how to pray. The parents gave the prayers at the baptism, and both of them gave thanks that their kids are helping them return to church and to have peace in their family. I am AMAZED at how much one child can influence the entire family. Makes me feel bad for all the craziness that I caused… haha.
I am exhausted, but feel so grateful. I never thought I could see so many miracles. I am also extremely grateful for the missionaries that were here before me that I know kept working and being obedient even when things were hard. It makes a big difference with how receptive the people are and how willing the ward members are to work with us.
Hermana VanCott

Monday, November 3, 2014

November 3, 2014

How we do it in Farmville

Helped these girls get ready for their program by curling their hair!
Dear Family and Friends,
This week has been good and full of learning opportunities. I will admit that as I have been going to bed there have been a few tears thinking about how Christian and I won't see each other for 3 and a half years, but at the same time I know that we are both doing what will bless the rest of our lives. I know Christian is going to be a great missionary. I wish I had his talents to talk to people and be super smooth and not awkward. I am also jealous that he has had the chance to see what the mission should be like, so he is going to be even more prepared! I am super excited to hear about his MTC headaches from learning Spanish and all the other new-missionary adventures. I am feeling old and like nothing really phases me anymore.

There are some perks to being a missionary, apart from the blessings and all. One of them is that we are a recognized part of the community. I sometimes feel like I am living in a Simpsons episode. Everyone has their roles, and everyone interacts. There is the group of folk dancers, who always are dancing, even in the little store. The moms who work and pick their kids up from daycare always are in heels and have their hair tied back. The men who work in the vineyards are super tan. Things like that. In the mornings we all know which neighbors walk their kids to school, which ones wait with their kids for the bus, which people water their gardens and everyone knows that the missionaries will be running laps at the park with the local stray dogs at our heels. We all have our ¨Holas!¨ timed perfectly.
They all know that the missionaries will tell them that smoking is bad for their health. Haha. Its funny to watch the ones that we have talked to hide their cigarettes when we get close.
So, nobody is perfect. Sometimes companions argue. Today I learned a very valuable lesson that will continue to help me. Before the mission I was a person who was quick to anger. Words of other people didn’t ever really offend me and I never wanted revenge on anyone, but my weakness was to lose patience quickly and be prideful and not ask for forgiveness.
However, today I realized I have come a long way in that. In the moment that I wanted to lose my patience, I just started to be grateful and pray silently. I kept calm and said that I wasn’t going to be able to speak clearly or calmly in my state of mind. I then took a second to meditate. The thought came to mind, obviously from the spirit, to pray for the gift of discernment. I prayed and made a list of what I discerned what was in my control and what wasn’t. I discerned how I needed to put in my part to fix the problem and what the issue was. It was interesting because the reason I was in the situation had NOTHING to do with the argument…and I never would have come to that conclusion without the help of the spirit.
I am SO grateful for this time I have had to analyze all of my weaknesses and put forth my best effort to improve. The mission is the most intense time of repentance I have ever experienced.
What do you do when you walk miles to get to a house and then you are ten yards away and hear screaming and fighting? We turned away and started walking in the opposite direction. Then I repented really fast. I had a quick thought, ¨Why would we walk away when we have exactly what they need?¨
I called the Hermana to tell her we were on our way to her house, she thanked us and said they needed us. We got there (again) and the husband was in their room with the door shut. She explained the situation and we began to help her spirit calm down first. She had some doubts and felt that God was punishing her. We used the scriptures to explain that God doesn’t punish, we punish ourselves as we sin. We talked to her about how God wants to withhold punishment, so he sent us Jesus Christ to be our advocate. Moroni 7:28. Advocate in Spanish is like ¨lawyer¨. He will defend us if we do all within our power to rid ourselves of unrighteous pride and follow him.
After that, the husband started peaking out of the room to tell us a few things. Little by little he came out. He still was feeling pretty embarrassed and bad about the argument and didn’t want to participate too much, but at least he wanted to be there.
In the end we were all laughing and happy. Obviously they will still have to work out their stuff, but I LOVE my role. I love arriving at a place at just the right moment because of inspiration. I love following promptings. I love sharing the message that wasn’t necessarily practiced or prepared, but was what God wanted us to teach. I feel so blessed to be able to be an instrument in Gods hands.
Today we were accompanied by Constanza, who is Argentine from another ward. She served her mission where my companion lives and then got married to a Chilean and moved here. She is AWESOME. Her mission was 22 months long and she was the only sister training leader over like a million hermanas. She had to train 3 hermanas at a time. Anywho, she was so fun to be with. She is 27 and very well educated. She talked to us about how we need to apply everything we learn to post mission life but how we also need to remember that real life has its own challenges. She gave us some awesome ideas for a few investigators and bore a strong testimony in all of our appointments. I liked it because she is a great example of a missionary who keeps living what she learned in the mission and she doesn’t think of the mission as her ¨glory days¨, just as a time of great personal growth and learning.
I want to be like her someday.
I forgot to write a funny story from the other week when I was in divisions.
Here it is…
I’m in another area and in the house of this woman who is investigating the church. She is in her 50s and has set a few baptismal dates but they have all fallen through. So, we are there teaching about repentance and she starts asking if she has to confess anything before getting baptized. We tell her that there are a few baptismal questions that require she tell us if she has participated in a few things that would require more preparation. Well, I decide in that moment to ask her the questions to help put her mind at ease.
I start…
Have you committed a serious crime? No.
Are you on probation? No.
Have you participated in an abortion? No.
Have you ever been in a homosexual relationship?…maybe….
Uh oh. My mind goes into PREACH MY GOSPEL mode and I am in shock because this is the first time in my whole mission that anyone had answered anything besides ¨no¨.
I tell her that she will have an interview with our mission president or someone he assigns. I tell her that she can be completely honest with that person and they would be able to help her prepare better for baptism. We testified that she would be able to receive forgiveness if she wanted to repent and follow the example of Jesus Christ. So, she is content with that.
However, we felt something wasn’t right. We ask again, ¨So, you HAVE participated in a homosexual relationship?¨…again... ¨Yes.¨
Still didn’t feel right, there was something off. So, Hermana Ramirez says, ¨Do you know what a homosexual relationship is?¨
The woman, ¨Yes…¨
Hermana Ramirez, ¨This means that YOU and another WOMAN had a sexual relationship. Is that correct?¨
The woman goes into shock and then says, ¨OH NO! NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!!!¨ haha. Then we all die laughing because it was so uncomfortable. The end. Three cheers for bad miscommunication.
Today I got to help in the primary again. We taught the kids ¨A Childs Prayer¨ and helped them practice for their program. Our investigator was singing her little heart out. Next Sunday, if all goes well this week, Tatiana and Patricio will be getting baptized. Today we had a heart to heart talk with their parents and explained that they needed to seriously support their kids. The parents are in the process of reactivation, and we are a little nervous to let the kids get baptized even though they have been coming to all three hours of church every week and participating in activities and all. Yesterday we fasted to know what to do. In the bus on the way home I just had the thought, ¨Suffer little children and forbid them not to come unto me¨. Today at church my companion and I both felt at peace, and when we had a lesson today with the parents we felt that it would be a good step for them to take to help their family reactivate better. It amazes me how revelation comes. I know that Heavenly Father answers prayers and directs his work. I have never felt alone in the mission. I have always know that if I am doing my best to be obedient and serve, God will direct my actions and I just need to trust in Him. There isn’t anything more humbling then knowing and feeling that on a daily basis.
Love you all! Have a good week! Be happy! Keep me updated on life... now you just need to send a message to me and Christian together! How easy!

Hermana VanCott

Monday, October 20, 2014

October 20, 2014

A Hermana Pday

Departing Missionaries
Dear loved ones,

We are at 70 days! Who is trying not to eat bread or drink soda? Me!

Well, I love you all. Can’t believe that Christian went through the temple! Awesome!

I hope you have a great week!


Today my companion made Argentine empanadas and some other Hermanas came over. It is always fun to be with Hermana Leishman. Then when they all left I had to hurry and make a long promised cheesecake. Then we delivered the cheesecake, taught a lesson, found two new investigators and now I am going to dream. Night night.


My jaw swelled up again. Overload of stress and lack of deep sleep do things to my face. I am so excited to go to a doctor and figure out what the problem is with my jaw in 75 days.

Tomorrow Hermana Schmidt is coming to do divisions with Hermana Volkert that lives with me. H. Schmidt is the one that came with me on the plane from Cali, was stranded with me in the Chile airport 3 hours, and then lived with me for the next 6 months. She is also the reason I now know how to make fudge. Once again I am tired. Goodnight.


Today we had the ENDURE TO THE END meeting for the people that are going home this transfer, like my companion and Hermana Runnells. There were 20 Hermanas and 2 Elders leaving. Baby boom anyone? So, we were 40 Hermanas and 4 elders in total.

I heard the saddest story in the world and I am going to tell it because I’m sure in a few years it will be funny. So, on Monday my 4 week companion and bff Hermana Leishman tells me that her wallet got stolen last week on her way to transfers. She canceled all her cards and everything, but lost all her cash and temple recommend and driver’s license. Pretty lame, right_ Well, after a week the Zone Leaders call her and tell her someone found her wallet and gave it to them. All the stuff is in it and everyone is happy! That night, the Zone Leaders go on splits with President Wright and Hermana Leishman went with Hermana Wright. The Zone Leaders brought her wallet to give to President, to give to Hermana Leishman. The elders and President return to the car, only to see that it has been broken into…

That´s right, Hermana Leishman´s wallet got stolen, again.

Isn´t that tragic? I mean, material possessions and all, but REALLY?! It couldn´t have been a better story.


Today we got to take our two investigators that will be getting baptized soon to mutual. The young men and young women are making go carts to go down a hill, and last night they were painting them. We helped make bread…and eat bread…and then ran to catch the bus home. What I love about the branch is that we always feel comfortable bringing people who aren’t members and leaving them with the members because they know how to include them and not be awkward.

Also, Leonardo and Sara went to the city to buy scriptures, hymnbooks, and other church things. They were so excited to show us their treasures! During the lesson, Leo randomly tells us that he has a goal to help one of his buddies who is a member return to church. Leo says he first needs to strengthen his own testimony so that he can share it with his friend. I am always in awe in their house. It´s like, yeah…fine… I guess ya´ll can pray and read your scriptures and give us lunch and accept assignments and visit other members who aren’t active and participate in the classes and have the goal to go to the temple and do family history work and to get sealed for time and all eternity. It’s fine. We are here to help you with all that.

Oh, and if you could bring the table cloth for relief society that would just be going the extra mile.


We have a patio table so when it is nice out we like to study in our front yard. As our neighbors pass by they see us reading our scriptures and we wish them a good day. Today, however, there was a light breeze and the magical scripture paper doesn’t stay put with light breezes or church air conditioning. I would read a page, write my note in my study journal, go back to the scriptures and be in a completely different standard work. Why am I writing this in my journal? I don’t know? I just feel like little details are going to help me remember my mission better.

The little things that stress me out sometimes.


Today we went around listening to excuses about why people won’t be able to go to church tomorrow. It was fun to walk in to the lesson with them convinced that they aren’t going to make it and then leave them feeling the spirit and knowing that it is what they need to do… now it is just a matter of using their agency well tomorrow…I have faith.

In other news, some less active members gave us dinner tonight… I still love them, even though I had to swallow 10 clams. It just HAD to be something expensive, our first dinner with them, AND something that we both can’t stand. Thankfully they had cheese on them. I would just wrap the cheese around all the innards that look like an ear drum and choke it down whole. Then drink water. Then eat a cookie. Then start over. I finished my plate and they brought out another tray of like, 50. My companion spoke up and asked if we could take them home to share with the other Hermanas. Hahah. The bus ride home was packed with people and I was so embarrassed by the fishy smell we were lugging around with us. I would have ditched them sooner but we have to return the dang Tupperware tomorrow!

Also, Sara and Leo, the amazing members who are returning to church, told us a funny story. They wanted to buy scriptures and hymn books and all that, but were going to have to wait for a paycheck. Leo went into a gas station to change in some coins for cash, but put in a coin to the slot machine just for fun. Out came 10 mil, which is like, 25 dollars? So, they used that money to buy the scriptures! Haha. We made him promise no more slot machines, but now they have scriptures and hymnbooks… what can ya do about it?

Now my stomach feels all funky so I am going to try and beat it to bed before I end up thinking fishy thoughts.

Just keep swimming.


5 investigators who have baptismal dates at church and four less actives members that all came for their second time. Wonderful, well- prepared talks. It was a good church day.

I played piano today and a women from the ward led the music. I never realized how much leading affects my playing! Haha. She was leading like she was swatting a fly away from her face, and not to the beat. I just smiled and tried to block her out of my vision and sing as I played to help. Haaha. I’m so excited to never be the ward pianist again.

The other Hermanas that live with us had an investigator at church who is one of our neighbors. He is a very sweet elderly man who is trying really hard to grasp everything. After sacrament meeting he was getting ready to run away, but I had a thought to invite him to see the rest of the chapel, including the baptismal font. So, we gave him a little tour while the other Hermanas went to teach primary, and finished at the baptismal font which was in the process of filling up because the elders had a baptism. The handy dandy thing is that our gospel principles class is taught in the same room as the baptismal font, so when we finished we had the whole class waiting to tell our neighbor we wanted him to stay with us! It was sneaky, but he felt the love and ended up participating a lot. It amazes me how we are instruments in the Lords hands in every moment. A little thought to give an investigator, who isn’t my responsibility, a church tour came from the Spirit.

My companion got to talk to her family today because it is mother’s day in Argentina. It was cute to see her little sisters and mom. Her mom is going to be arriving in Chile the 11th, and my companion will get released the 17th and be able to spend a week with her mom.


Hermana Van Cott

Monday, October 13, 2014

October 13, 2014

The "slept on" bread

Leo and Sara and President and Hermana Rivera

Dear You,
The big news is that Elder Nelson is coming the 10th of November and we are going to have a conference with my mission and Eva´s mission! It is always an amazing experience to hear an apostle speak.

I feel like I need another year in the mission now that I have gotten the hang of language, working effectively, and how to balance my own strengths and weaknesses. I´ll just keep doing my best for the next 77 days! 

Onto the journal entries. 


Today we made tacos. It was like a fiesta in my mouth. Then we took a nice nap and sat in the sun for a second writing letters. Ahhh. I love pday. Hasta la proxima semana!

My companion and I set the goal to wake up at 7 instead of 7:30. She studies ¨The Living Christ¨ in English while her mind is fresh and I do an extra half hour of stretching-meditating as I ponder my place in the eternities. Promptly at 7:30 we go to run, then we shower and begin the day like normal. I love running in the morning. It was hard at first to get used to running, but my slogan is ¨Slow and steady wins the race!¨

Yesterday my companion went behind my back and gave money to Hermana Volkert to buy some yummy Chilean bread. The thing is, the house GOAL is to NOT buy bread. So, they were all secretive in buying and passing the bread. They ended up laughing and telling me last night. It wasn’t a big deal or anything, but I was exaggerating my disappointment for added affect. My companion decided to at least wait until the morning and not eat it at night. So, this morning Hermana Diaz asks Hermana Volkert where her bread is. Hermana Volkert tells her she hid it in between Hermana Diazs bed blankets (in a bag). Haha, so my companion comes out of the room holding two pieces of normally fluffy Chilean bread that now look more like tortillas. Hahahahaha. I couldn´t stop laughing. That’s what you get when you lie to your companion. Ahaha. Poor girl.

Today we got to set a baptismal date with Marcia. She still has to go to church…that is always the challenge… but she feels that our message is true and she is praying about it. She is wonderful. She tells me I can live with her post-mission, so maybe I wont have to worry about the California or Utah situation…I will just bunk with Marcia. 


Today we had our district class. Ellie´s cousin is still my district leader! Woot.
This morning the branch seminary teacher frantically called us and asked if we could teach the seminary class because her granddaughter is in the hospital with pneumonia. We gladly accepted, but had to rearrange a few plans. After lunch we ran to see the few people we had appointments with. They are wonderful women who have desires to progress. Loreto, the mom of the 3 little boys under age 3, is going through some financial worries. In the meantime she is planning an extravagant fiesta for her 3 year olds birthday. She was stressed with the money of providing fun and food for the little kids and their parents. I just looked at her and said ¨He´s three. He is going to be happy with anything. You don´t need to spend money on things that have no worth in the long run.¨
We talked about the scriptures in 3 Nephi 13Ñ 30’34 that promise that if we put the kingdom of God first, he will provide for our physical needs. The spirit helped us to explain to her that she didn´t need to go into debt or a financial crisis just to ¨compete´with the other kids’ birthday parties. We helped her see that she could do something simple and special and that her son will be just as happy.
Even though it might not seem like the most SPIRITUAL thing, it was a good application of how the gospel blesses and applies to our temporal lives. The world is full of competition, things we need, the latest and greatest, but in the end those are all things that confuse us in our divine purpose to return to live with God. Loreto summed it all up nicely at the end when she said, ¨Thanks for coming by. I had thought of every other solution except turning to God. I am going to pray and fast about it.¨ You go, girl!

Then we went to Rosa who owns a little store. We help her organize the shelves and are slowly teaching her the lessons. Today we were in a rush, so we didn´t really plan to share a message, just to pray and do service. The spirit rebuked me for that bad planning when Rosa says after the prayer, Ï found a Book of Mormon and I want to read it!¨So, we pushed aside our rush and helped her to understand a little bit about The Book of Mormon. I feel so blessed that even though I make mistakes and think more with my head than with the Spirit at times, the Lord is present in His work. The genuine truth seekers will always progress, even if Hermana VanCott is a fool.
As we were walking home, a bus stopped to offer us a ride. Marcos, the driver, asked us if we prayed as we were getting off. We told him that yes, of course we pray! He then told us to pray for him. It touched my heart to know that people really do recognize us as the servants of God and they want to use their faith to get closer to him. 


Today we gave teaching records to our investigators so that they can have their own personal copy and track their progress. Also, it will help because a lot of the times the investigators think they need to know as much as brother or sister so and so who have been members 50 years before they can be baptized! It was fun to watch them mark off the things they remember that we have taught them and the commitments we’ve invited them to do. They realized for themselves that they ARE learning and progressing. Good idea that our zone put as a goal to help us see better, quicker, progress. 


We taught Loreto today. She always surprises us with her questions. Today she had read some article on ¨How the Church is Racist¨. We had planned to reteach about the apostasy and restoration, and that theme fit in perfectly. We were able to explain how the restoration is an ongoing process and that we believe in all that God has revealed, all that he does now reveal, and that he is going to reveal more in the future. We read the declaration about how all males, regardless of race or color, can receive the priesthood. The interesting thing is that all we did was guide her. The spirit taught her more effectively than we could have. It helps me to know that EVEN when people attack the church with worldly information, the spirit is always a more powerful source to receive the truth. We talked about how Joseph Smith revealed more about the Godhead and the characteristics of God and Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost than any council, scholar, or government during the apostasy. If that isn´t modern revelation, I don´t know what is.
I hurried and made myself a dang quesadilla before we started planning and looked out the kitchen window to see 3 middle aged men passing by and laughing at how I burnt my tongue on the cheese. How rude. Let me eat in peace! 


This morning we received a reference from the office. It said that the family just moved to Pirque and have been inactive for over 10 years. After lunch, a teaching seminary to the youth and a nonmember friend, we headed for the reference. The problem is in Pirque, directions don’t work. The directions are all ¨climb this hill, float down the river, when you see a small goat hiding behind a rock and a family store that sells bread, you´ve arrived. Oh, blue door.¨ So, we were grateful that the reference had a phone number! Finally we met up with Sara, who begin to tell us her story. She was baptized and active for 10 years while living in a branch. They she inactive for silly reasons. She has been with Leonardo, her husband, for 3 years. They have been having some problems with a few vices that he has like smoking and alcohol. As they were talking about their beliefs one day, the church came up. Turns out that Leonardo was baptized when he was younger and went to church a few months and then stopped going. Leo drives a bus, so he was working at the time. However, Sara told us that they WOULD be at church tomorrow. She went and got him a suit jacket and ironed his clothes and everything. I am just AMAZED at this work. Sara told us that they have started to pray together before eating, sleeping, and when they wake up. She asked us right there for a Book of Mormon because hers is in her old house. Even though I haven’t seen many baptisms in my mission, I know that the scriptures in Doctrine and Covenants 18 are true. ¨Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God¨…¨and how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth!¨I know this is true because every time someone who has distanced themselves from the church wants to come back and begins to pray and work with their leaders and the missionaries, the joy is indescribable! 


THEY CAME THEY CAME THEY CAME! THEY LIKED IT! THEY STAYED ALL THREE HOURS! THEY MET THE MEMBERS AND MADE FRIENDS! It could not have been a better day. An investigator who is the wife of a recent convert came, even though her husband was at home with a bad tooth ache. She loaded up the baby and drove a half hour and arrived with the biggest smile on her face. She said, ¨I told Andres that I had to come because I didn´t want the missionaries to come over and scold us!¨One way or another. Sara and Leo showed up, and the change in the light in their eyes and faces was dramatic when they left the church. We went over to their house tonight with the branch president and his wife so that they could get to know them and know where they live. It was a wonderful experience and they are willing to serve and help the branch in any way possible.
Have a great week! 

With all my love, 

Hermana VanCott

October 6, 2014

Cheesecake attempt


My empanada compared to Chileans

 Hermanas on Pday

Friend from Mountain View HS in the "gringo room" for conference

 Roomies together one last time
Fellow Citizens,
It´s official! I will be with Hermana Diaz for another 6 weeks here in Farmville! She goes home at the end of the 6 weeks, and then I will have my final companion for the last 6 weeks! Time is flying.
Today we are going to make some tacos and have a party. The other companionship that lives with us had changes. Hermana Volkert is staying, though! Phew. I need her in my life. Another gringa is coming. She is a ¨mini missionary¨from a ward here in our mission and has already been in the mission 1 transfer and is going to be here this transfer , too. Get this, she isn’t Chilean! She is Hermana Taylor, from TEXAS. Her family has 9 kids, came to Chile on vacations 2 years ago, her dad got offered work, and they stayed. It is a crazy story. She is just barely learning Spanish, so it will be fun to be her friend and help her out.
Now for the journals.
Today we went to Hermana Barrales´ house. Her son is our ward mission leader. We met up with a few hermanas because it is the last Pday of the transfer and we wanted to say goodbye to Hermana Porras. We ate hot dogs…well, completes are what they are actually called. The Chilean hot dog includes diced tomatoes and guacamole. I’m a huge fan.
At night we visited our recent convert, Andres. It was funny because we had a scripture to share with his wife, but as he read it he looked at us and said [Hermanas, you{re pulling my ear![ Meaning, [You are trying to make me realize something![ So, that my friends is how the scriptures bring the spirit that whispers to us individually how we need to be better. Also, three cheers for successful planning.
It was beautiful today. We visited Hermana Luxiola that went to church on Sunday with her family. It was her first time in YEARS going to church and there was a new light about her. She focused better and was more patient with her kids. Those are some of the blessings of the sacrament in action!
Afterwards we ran into a herd of cows because apparently it’s the new spring trend to let your cows run free and eat the neighbors´ grass. I kept thinking about the John Rowle story (the man that worked on the Salt Lake temple and lost a leg because a cow kicked him whilst milking) and I was afraid I would be a victim. No harm done. Cows are friends, and food.
Then we visited Loreto right on time to help her clean up the house for the day and feed the twins and Remi. Turns out kids all over the world hate spinach and regurgitate it. We managed to get the food shoved down their throats and had an uplifting lesson about fasting and the blessings that come when we learn how to control our bodies with our spirits.
I felt Heavenly Fathers love today as I walked alongside the blossoms and freshly grown grass fields. I know I received divine help when I was tempted to lose my patience but instead thought of some hymns. Even though I came home exhausted, I was happy. Those little miracles help me know that I am nothing in comparison to God, who can help me in ANYTHING.
Zone class. The doctrine that most caught my attention was in Doctrine and Covenants 84:20 that says:
¨Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest. ¨
I am so grateful to know that baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, the sacrament, and temple ordinances are done on the earth with the permission and authority of God.
I have never felt the power of God more strongly than when I look at 12 year old boys who have received that power passing the sacrament and extending the blessings of the atonement to me each week.
Today we got to eat lunch with Hermana Gonzalez. She is awesome and super sweet. She always asks us what we want to eat. Today was my turn and we ate salads! Yum. Even though they are covered in oil. Haha. Oh well, I’ll take what I can get.
Afterwards we read the first chapter of The Book of Mormon with her. I love being able to help members strengthen their testimonies. She has shared about how it is hard for her to read her scriptures because she can’t focus or understand it. Today we went little by little and let her explain what she learned from each verse. In the end there was a glow in her eye and she promised she would read a chapter every day!
We also taught Rosa, a lady who owns a store that we always go to on Wednesday to help her organize the shelves. She has read the pamphlets we have given her and now lets us share a message. Slowly but surely we are teaching the message of the restoration.
Rosa gave us a reference of a mom and daughter who own a restaurant, so we went straight there to contact them. We ended up having a good lesson with the daughter (who´s like, 30?) and she kept saying things like ¨I feel something special when I talk to you girls¨. She is very nice and we are going to pass by this next week to start teaching. The problem is that we have to teach in the restaurant that has a few clients that go to get drunk. We´ll have to always make afternoon appointments!
I am so excited for general conference! 2 more days! It is like heaven on earth to listen to the prophets and apostles in English. Plus, I have about a million and one questions that I need some revelation for!
Also, it hit today that I only have 3 months left. Wow. Where is time going?!
Today the focus in the lessons was on The Book of Mormon. We taught the story of Nephi going back to Jerusalem to get the plates to our children investigators. We had Patricio draw the family tree and the story as we went along. Afterwards, he was able to explain EVERYTHING in detail. I was amazed. Usually it is difficult to have things stick that well with him.
We also read a chapter of The Book of Mormon with a member family. Afterwards we all shared what we learned. The Hermana has shared her testimony of The Book of Mormon this week with her sister-in-law who isn´t a member and is going to give her a book soon. I love watching the members do missionary work and being there to help them with their questions. It is a tender moment when members begin to share the gospel naturally, because that means they themselves have become converted.
The farm life is not for me. We had our deep cleaning today and didn´t have a few supplies, so we jogged a mile and a half to the closest grocery store, and then got home and started cleaning fast. Then our neighborhood had the water cut, right when I was in the middle of cleaning the bathroom. SO, we got creative with water bottles and finished up quickly. Afterwards we made a sandwich (doesn´t require water) and began studies.
Just barely after planning I was feeling very happy with how the rest of our day went, so I began to walk like a dinosaur behind my companion. She got scared and hid behind the curtain for about 10 minutes. It´s just that walking like a dinosaur brings me so much joy. I don´t do it often, just on special occasions. I miss Gracie. I need to be with her to fully enjoy dinosaur walking again.
OH WHAT A GLORIOUS DAY! I love the gringo room during general conference.
All of the talks were so much more inspiring for me in my own language. I have a firm testimony of the scriptural promise that the gospel will be taught to every man in his own language, Doctrine and Covenants 90:11, and for that reason I am totally fine learning Spanish and sharing in this language. It was just a nice mental break to listen in English. I especially felt the spirit during the closing prayer when he prayed for the parents and the grandparents of the missionaries. I think he was listening to the spirit as he prayed because we were all very touched and felt that the Lord has blessed our parents and grandparents during this time.
Lynn G. Robbins talk about which way we are facing made me feel like a sinner…but that is good because, as mom says, ¨Repentance, like childbirth, is a happy word!¨ D. Todd Christopherson inspired me to be a true agent unto myself. Jeffery R. Holland made me want to give away all my worldly possessions and fast forever. Ted Callister´s talk made me baby hungry because I want to teach my OWN kids to pray and read the scriptures and sing primary songs. Dallin H. Oaks taught me that my capacity to love is infinite if I can rely on Christ to HELP me love the people that for me may be difficult to love. Jorg Klebingat inspired my ¨last 12 weeks¨ diet kickoff. L. Tom Perry made me set goals for the responsibilities of the family. Oh, and so much more! It was beautiful. I can’t believe I used to just eat crepes and then take a two hour nap. What a lazy bum. I could have been learning SO much. Oh well, that is why we have repentance! Now I can be better post-mission. It is crazy to think that next conference I will be home… yippee!
For lunch today Hermana Molina took the four of us to eat in a Chinese restaurant. It was fantastic and I felt like a princess.
Also, today there was a convert from the Elders´ ward that I was talking to. I told her I liked her earrings. After the conference she stalked me down, asking EVERYONE in sight for the [¨blonde!¨Then she gave me her earrings. It was so sweet of her. People are nice.
Today I woke up anxious for the next two sessions of conference. I made mac and cheese during breakfast hour to take for my lunch, because nothing makes me feel more American than eating mac and cheese after watching conference in English.
When the members of the quorum of the 70 spoke in Spanish, all us gringos ran to the chapel to listen. They all laughed because we arrived, sat down and listened, and then evacuated just as quickly to listen to the next message in English. It was like a magic act, MAKE THE GRINGOS DISAPPEAR.
I am so sad conference is over, but it will be great to read the Ensign and study more.
Tonight I tried to make cheesecake because Hermana Lastra, my roommate, is going to a new area tomorrow. As is with all my cooking experiences, nothing went right. We couldn’t find the pan, so we put them in cupcake trays. The crust burnt and the top tasted like eggs. Waaaaa. I will stick to cleaning the bathroom next time I want to serve.
Have a good week!
Hermana VanCott