Monday, July 21, 2014

New Format - Journal

Dearest Family,
Hermana Jennings and her parents saved my life. They gave us a keyboard that we type on and it saves automatically. Then, on Pday we can just plug it in and send it away. It´s awesome because now at night for journal time (which I have been terrible at with all the stress and freezing cold hands) I can write a little bit from everyday. My online journal is about to get a whole lot more informative. If you don´t have time to read it all, don´t worry. I´m told that someday if I ever have children, their great grandchildren might want to read. Here´s to eternal posterity!

Monday (lunes)
We almost died. I have never been on a bus that goes down a muddy wet street at an illegally steep angle…until today. I think that experience topped being scared in the turbulence of Dale Kehl's plane. I prayed and promised that if we made it down safely, I´d go to church for the rest of my life. Well, look at me. Still alive.
I slept like a rock. Maybe it was the changes, maybe it was the soothing sound of rain without millions of cars (first time in a year that I haven't Heard car alarms going off all night!) but I was out cold. I mean it too, freezing! But, I pulled out my mummy bag and am set for Tuesday night.
Tuesday (Martes)
We woke up with the rosters. Literally, they were crowing.5:45 am me and Hermana Diaz were up and off on our long journey to the other side of the mission to go to the temple. We picked up Hermana Leishman / her companion along the way and arrived right on time. The temple workers are so sweet. There are a lot of adorable couples from the states there that like to ask where we are from and all that funeral potato and jello talk. I decided that Heaven will be a happy place if we all do what these couples do and forget about ourselves, forget about how hard it might be to try something new or to serve someone, and just simply do what the Lord asks. We will all be so happy.
After that we ate lunch and took the train back home… OK, that was useless information for ya´ll. Sorry, I will be more concise.
Hermana Diaz is great. She says ¨I can´t believe that you´ve only had gringa comps because you speak so well!¨and I say… ¨Gracias.¨ Really, I share this because I know my Spanish is still terrible, but she is very supportive and corrects me and teaches me new words. Today I learned the following words: Craving, school bus, asylum, and silo. Try to figure out all those random conversations, I dare you.
Hermana Diaz randomly speaks English to me. She pronounces everything REALLY well. Like a gringa. The problema is, when we are alone at night walking on a dirt road with fields on either side and no human life for miles and she says things like ¨I am going to shave your eyebrows while you sleep¨or I´m going to break your nose¨…and then creepy birds start making noises…I get freaked out. We´re going to expand her vocabulary a bit. (but really, she understands basic English really well).
We had our first lesson together with an investigator couple that just got married this last weekend. He is going to be baptized the 27th and his wife shortly following that. We had the lesson outside their home around a fire pit while they BBQ ed meat. I felt like I was camping for a momento.
Andres, the man, has changed from being a drunk who walked around picking fights to a man who wants to share his meager BBQ with anyone who stops by. We met a friend of theirs and he is going to start coming to our lessons with them! It was a lovely momento. Paola, the woman, is really funny and very happy for the changes she has seen in her family. Ah, I just love the gospel!
Also, today there was a horse tied up to a Little food shop. It made me want to watch Shanghai Noon. I´m probably the worst missionary in the world. Oh well.
Jajajajajaja. I felt like laughing in español for a momento there.
I have a new love for rice with milk, sugar, and cinnamon. Is that a normal thing that we eat in the states? I never ate it. Oh, MOM! I learned how to make real rice. Rice, water, pot, and all! (but, to be honest, I like minute rice better, and I feel like it is most probable that I will continue with my lazy microwave ways. Judge me.)
Okay. Well. I'm now sufficiently tired and our plans for tomorrow involve a lot of ¨idle chit chat¨as grandpa John Van Cott would say. Best get to bed so that I´ll be conscience tomorrow when I´m getting chased by a loose cow.
Wednesday (miércoles)
My companera is currently serenading me with hymns played on a recorder. It reminds me of when I was first learning to play clarinet. Enough said.
Today was amazing! Ellie Eyestone´s cousin is my district leader, what a small world. I brought a picture of Ellie with me to prove we are best friends. Also, Hermana Megan Runnells is in my zone. It´s like a MVHS party down here in Chile.
After zone class we took the bus to lunch out in the boonies. The bus has two sticker pictures up front…one of Jesus and one of Elvis Presley. What first came to my mind? ¨You ain´t nothing but a hound dog …¨I told you, I am a terrible missionary. Don´t worry, I repented and started to think of more wholesome things. Like whole milk, thanks to the lovely view of cows! (still confused why we can´t drink cow milk here…come on people!)
This morning I went running in nature. It smelled like manure, but that is a million times better then dog poop. Oh man, I am such a ladylike women.
We committed Viktor to get baptized! He is a Darling olderish man who listened to the missionaries a long time ago and went to church for a full year and now goes off and on. Him and his wife recently got married after 20 years of living together. We cleared up his doubts, like the fact that the law of chastity doesn´t prohibit sexual relations inside of marriage. He told us that he has been repenting for a ton of stupid things he did when he was younger, like 40 years ago. Poor guy. We told him that we have repentance and baptism for those very reasons, to get rid of the weight of sin and commit to follow Jesus Christ more exactly. He seems very on board with the whole thing. Very Sharp man. His wife, Maria, listened to everything and eventually will come around. As of right now she is totally ¨Team Baptism¨…for her husband. Haha. Someday.
We were walking home tonight, about a mile walk from where the bus drops us, a long road with nothing around. A family pulled up and asked if we wanted a ride. They said ¨We´re going that direction, jump in¨. We jumped in and shared with them for a second. It was a mom, dad, and a daughter. They dropped us off closet o the house and offered a ride to someone else. This act of kindness touched me, because I love that there are still people that think about how they can help other people have a better day. It´s hard to not be selfish in our modern world. A humble family, with a humble car and intentions to serve others were a testimony to me that when we are in the service of our fellow beings, we are only in the service of our God.
Thursday (jueves)
I forgot! I received a letter from Sister Amy Bowman from the Smiley Ward! I will write back to her, but I thought it was so sweet that she would take time to send a message after only meeting me one time! I´m excited to get to know all the Redland"s people better. They all seem like, I don´t know, fantastic and smiley people.
I´m learning valuable lessons everyday. For example, if I stand in mud too long, I sink. Or, if cars are honking it might be because my companion´s skirt is caught in her bag and revealing a little more bloomers tan normal. Oops.
I jumped into a pit today to save a ball. I felt like I was in my own grave. Luckily I made it out alive. Phew. It was kind of like rock climbing. Colton would have been proud of me in that momento, I´m sure.
Ah, my eyes are closing I´m so exhausted.
I´m lacking creativity and my feet hurt because we walked about a million miles. I can´t believe I used to complain about walking home from MVHS.
We had our first meeting with our Ward mission leader, a returned missionary as of 5 months ago that served in Saint George! Get this, he even served in Bloomington! His name is Sebastian Barrales.
THE END. I am too tired and the heater keeps burning my legs, it´s time to move to the top bunk and pray that I don´t fall off onto Hermana Volkert´s head…psh, as if THAT has ever happened…
Night night!
Friday, Friday…party and party and yeah. (viernes)
What happened today? First, the home owners association gave us a paper a week ago (when I wasn´t here) that the power would be cut today all morning and afternoon. Our house is like a freezer because its tile and without insulation so we just freeze to death without our tiny space heaters. My companion had the brilliant idea that we could study outside…so we went out there on our front patio with a picnic table. It was fun because we got to greet the neighbors off and on during the morning. It was such a beautiful sunny day and I even started to get a Little color back!
We went to a house of some ¨less active¨members who actually DO go to church every week…in El Parque, where I just was! The Lord Works in mysterious ways. The story with them is long, but long story short I was able to shoot down their excuses for not coming here to our Little branch. Sounds mean, but it was necessary. I also know that I was in El Parque for those 4 short weeks and then transferred here for a reason…and this could be it. Stay tuned. Hopefully they´ll be back in our branch shortly because they are great people and willing to help us with everything. The branch needs them on Sundays, too.
We also visited with Loreto, a mom finishing up her degree in Law and raising a 2 year old boy and 1 year old twins! I don´t know how she does it and has time to be the perfect investigator all at once. Even though it was kind of like ¨whack a mole¨with the twins learning how to walk and getting hit down my their older brother, it was a great feeling to be in their house and hear her questions.
Hermana Diaz and I are pretty much dead tired. It´s so hard to get to appointments on time because of how far everything is. But, I have an idea! Parents can send me scoot scoot, and then we will be fine. Plus we can out drive all the mean dogs and rabid cows.
Tap out. Lights out.
Saturdee (sábado)
Today we had a ¨revelatory experience¨ (conference) with President Wright. It was all about the atonement and how we need to apply and learn it better. My biggest realizations were the following:
Constant study of the atonement keeps us on the straight and narrow path. We should never ¨finish¨learning and applying the atonement to our lives.
Those in the spirit world have the chance to continue repenting. The atonement is an INFINITE atonement. It started in the premortal life and it will never end.
EVERYTHING depends on the atonement.
There are a million reasons why we don´t use the atonement…pride, lack of faith, fear of men…but they all come from Satan. Christ WANTS us to use perfectly the gift he has already paid for.
God doesn´t want us to always feel like we are ¨victims¨. The atonement paid for both sides of the quarter, the sinner and the victim. If we continue with excuses about why we are the way we are, we are denying the power of the atonement to heal us.
We receive grace when we give grace. What is grace - It is giving forgiveness and service when it is NOT deserved. Do we want to receive the grace of God - We have to give it, too.
When we feel the need to punish, whether it be ourselves, the person that offended us, the church, WHOEVER, we are in the wrong. God reserves the right to punish. If we try to punish, we really are just denying blessings to ourselves.
We have to forgive ourselves of our sins and find strength to overcome our weaknesses. God WANTS us to be able to change. Satan wants us to dwell in the past.
Self loathing doesn´t exist in Heaven, so we shouldn´t have it here.
We know if we have received forgiveness of God by how we are acting. If we are serving and trying to get even closer to Heavenly Father, it´s because we once again are listening to the voice of the Spirit.
Weaknesses were given to us to learn from. The atonement covers them, too. We need divine help to look for ways to strengthen and change our weaknesses.
THAT AND MORE…it was 3 and a half hours of pure instruction from the spirit. I love how President Wright focuses on the atonement because I have been able to better apply it to my personal life and also to our investigators and less actives. We can´t teach something until we really understand it.
Tata for now.
SUNDAY! (domingo) One day til PDAY!
Woke up to the sounds of after party vomiting from the neighbors. Listened to Motab whilst fixing my curls and pondered what my first Sunday in our branch will be like…
We had 4 investigators promise to come to church…we´ll see…
3 investigators came! YES! Also, the mom of that less active family that was going to my old Ward came too. Miracles, miracles.
Hermana Diaz made us all lunch and we ate as a little family at our table. I miss Sunday dinners at home.
Well fambam and friends, I hope you have a great week! Be good, be nice. I love you all and am grateful for your letters, packages, support, prayers, and examples!

Hermana VanCott

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