"Go forward in life with A TWINKLE in your eyes and A SMILE on your face, but WITH GREAT PURPOSE in heart." -Gordon B. Hinckley

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Still Standing, Amazed

Where do I even begin in explaining to you guys of all of the blessed miracles that have come over these past couple of weeks? Let’s start with my health, for the sake of mom’s sanity ;) To be honest, when I found out about my ulcers my supply of “Good Cheer” went out of stock. I just thought, “Really, another health barrier? All I want is good health so that I can work at full force for my last six weeks of the mission.” In the same moment that I started feeling bad for myself, the Lord quickly whispered to my heart, “You can’t expect to be less tried just because you are finishing you mission.” DUH HERMANA NORTH! And that was just the reminder that I needed to get back up on my feet and do what we encourage all of our loves to do when they feel weak- Apply the Atonement of Jesus Christ. As I have done so, along with the help of various priesthood blessings, the Lord has given me the strength that I lack to be able to work, work, work at full force aside from the pain that I feel (just like I wanted to); and that my friends is a MIRACLE. These past weeks Christ has become a more real companion to me that ever before on my mission. I have felt His presence and strength in the streets of Chile, even more strongly, as I have been able to push through the pain for the sake of saving souls and bringing them joy. And all I feel at the end of each day is Grateful and Amazed at the love Jesus offers me. I love my calling- I am truly, oh so holy-wow blessed!
Now for the update on the miracle that are occurring with our loves here in Poeta Neruda. Lots of things have changed; People have changed for the good and the bad, but opposition in all things right? As for the bad, after all is said and done, I just feel comfort in knowing that the Lord has a perfect plan that is completed in His perfect timing. For example, even though our love Nancy decided to return to the traditions of her old church, in God’s perfect timing she will remember the spirit that she felt in church and all of the lessons that we had together and know exactly where to find the joy that she longs for. These past couple of weeks we have seen a handful of our very loved investigators take steps backwards. But like I said, we have also seen so many blessed miracles. Families are coming back to church, inactive loves are receiving their temple recommends (my favorite), new investigators are progressing and the work with members is BOOMING. Actually, yesterday I had the opportunity of witnessing a HUGE tender mercy of the Lord while we were on divisions with the members. I got to go out with two (not just one) lovely Hermanas, Maritza, who was just baptized last week and Maria who is our super star investigator. Imagine that! The spirit filled the rooms of each home that we stepped in as we taught and testified of the gospel of Jesus Christ together.
Thank you dearly for all of your concern and love and support. I hope that I can extend the same to all of you guys back home. I love you guys, you’re in my prayers always. Have a super week and keep doing the good stuff that brings joy. Like I’ve always said, it’s the little things in life J
Abrazos y Besitios, Hermana North
Picture 1: the river in front of our house after the rain

Picture 2: Hermana Leavitt always somehow manages to crash our parties. Im totally okay with it ;)

Picture 3: Noche de Hogar with Familia Caseres and Omar and Miguel -our Modern Family.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Likely Joys (7/07/2014)

So this week I had a few more problems with my health. I was excited for a second because I was going strong in the health department for a whole change…I even started bragging to people about how I went a whole change without getting really sick. Supposedly I spoke too soon. I spent my birthday in bed and later in the week, after visiting the doctor, I found out that I have stomach ulcers- likely. On the plus side, that means that I have to eat healthy now. My ward is amazing and they have been changing their menus to fit my new diet. They are seriously the best. So don’t worry (ahemm, mom), my mama’s here in Poeta are taking lots of care of me. I am so blessed.
Aside from the bad news with my health, I have been holding on to the miracles of this week to get me through everything. We are seeing so many of those “heart melting moments” here with our loves. Progress is taking off and so is our focus on the Temple. Well actually, I have always kept the Temple in mind in working with our loves. Not just focusing on baptism and going to church, but doing those things so that they can their booties into the Temple- where all of the magic begins. But this week we were able to see tangible effects from this focus. We went to the temple with our ward and guess who came for the first time in four years?? Katrina Caseres- One of our inactive loves that we have been working with for the past long time.  It is so exciting to see her progress and more especially the progress of her family. Her fairytale family is starting to warm up again. They came to church all together for the second time this week. It’s all about little steps People. And hopefully next month, we’ll be able to see the whole family in the temple. At least those are the plans for now.
We also had been praying a lot these past couple week for more help from the Hermanas in our ward in going out to do visits. I even made a wish on my Birthday cake for it. Our miracle this week with this was not only having new Hermanas come out with us for their first time but also our less active Hermanas come out with us. That’s a double whammy. Like I have always said, there is no other way to do this work than with the members. They never disappoint. And it is a blessing for all those who are involved. We had many sweet experiences this week where the Hermanas thanked us for asking them to come out with us. It was an answer to their prayers too. All I can say from those experiences is that God is so Aware.
I just wanted to end this little note with my simple testimony: I know that God lives and loves us. The gospel of Jesus Christ was designed by our loving Heavenly to fit into our everday lives. It is not something to add in or separate from our daily life, it is for our everyday lives. And as we follow it our lives are filled with joy- the thing that everyone longs for in life. 
Peace and Love People! Have a lovely week.
xoxoxox, Hermana North

No One Likes A Backseat Driver (6/23/2014)

The World Cup has officially taken over the world down here in Chile. It is so crazy to me how obsessed everyone is with it (Maybe I wqould be too if we were allowed to watch it). Due to the crazy fans and Chile winning all of the time….we are not allowed to leave our house on the days that Chile has games. Aka: today. We actually only have permission to leave our house to send our loves from back home a quick note, and then back to lock down. Luckily for us, we live next door to Bishop and his wifey, Katy, knows how to paint nails. So we are going to take advantage of that and enjoy the day there.  
I came to a scary, weird, crazy realization this week- I haven’t even experienced half of my life yet. Being on the mission and doing missionary things, helping people see the light out of their life problems and all of that fun stuff, it gives one the illusion that they have experienced a lot and knows a lot about life. When really that’s not reality; I still have so much MORE to experience; MORE to face; MORE to change…and the list goes on. My life is yet beginning, even though now at the end of my mission I feel that it’s just the opposite, and that’s an equally scary and tiring thought to think about. As I had this oh so very trunky thought, fear set into my heart and I agreed with the lost kids from Peter Pan in saying that, “I don’t want to grow up!” It has been fun and all BUT if I have learned anything about growing up and gaining experience it is that it all comes though going though hard things. And maybe I’m not so down to do more hard things. Ha ha. So maybe I haven’t learned anything from all of my trials…but wait, I’ll get to my point. It’s just kind of scary to think about all of the hard experiences that I have yet to face. They always say that we have to go through hard things to be prepared for harder things down the road. But what harder things? I don’t want them! (There is still a little girl inside of me- Dad you were right in saying that I’ll always be your little girl).
But then the Lord enlightened me with a more optimistic and better perspective on this subject (Thank heavens for Him!)-THIS IS WHY WE HAVE THE GOSPEL! The reason that I have been able to help so many people with their life problems, most of which I have never experienced before, is because of the reality of Jesus Christ. He can fix and heal any problem and the medicine is the same for everyone. I came to a realization this week that the only experience we need in life is following Gods will- it’s keeping covenants with Him. As we make and keep promised with God, we are letting him drive us though an to our destination- a happily ever after. So why fear the future when Christ, our perfect and loving Savior, is driving? I thought to myself, “Don’t be a backseat driver!” We can all agree in saying that No one likes a backseat driver, and that really is what we become as we fear the future or try and consult God in telling Him what we think would be best for us (for example: Me saying that I don’t want to grow up or experience hard things). Yeah, life is hard but hard things help us move forward as we follow the Lord’s oh so simple gospel. To help me understand this better, I read a talk from General Conference where President Eyring perfectly explained it. He reminded us of the importance to keep the promises that we make with God and gives us a reason for why, when he said:
Each covenant brings with it duties and promises…those duties are sometimes simple but are often difficult. But remember, the duties must sometimes be difficult because their purpose is to move us along the path to live forever with Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, in families.
So even though I haven’t experienced a whole lot, I have just what I need. And it’s my choice to obey. As I obey, I am letting Christ drive and even though there are potholes on the path, the ride is a whole lot smoother as He drives. 
Maybe I'm the only one who thinks about things like this and maybe not. But I hope that these thoughts could help in any way. I love you guys so much! Thanks for all of the love. I dont know what I'd do without it.
xoxoxox, Hermana North

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Home Sweet Home

So I may have jinxed it because this week was HARD (Notice the capital letters). After all has been said and done it’s not so much the physical as it is the mental tiredness that has been hard and tiring. It was hard to teach this week due to a combination of the rain and snow (you read that right! It snowed in our sector), the world cup starting/ CHILE WINNING their first game (#winning) and lots of leadership meetings (not a bad thing but it just took out time from our sector). But if anything, I learned to be grateful for the contacts that we were able to do in our travels because my most spiritual experiences this week came from them. For example: On our way home from one of the meetings, I contacted a lady named Estrella on the micro. At first she really didn’t want to talk with me. She was super cold and avoided all eye contact whenever I asked her a question. She even told me that she didn’t have time and that I should talk with someone else who needed God in that moment (Even though she was the one who need God).  For whatever reason I started telling her about when I had first gotten to Chile. I had to learn Spanish and it was a BIG struggle for me. I told her of the hardship that it was on my desire to continue serving my mission and said, “But do you want to know what kept from not going home?”  (And that’s when I captured her attention), I continued and said, “The people.” I explained to her of the love that I naturally had for everyone we taught. How it was easy for me to LOVE complete strangers, like her. But then I testified to her that that love that I had was a direct result of my testimony- of the truth. The gospel has changed my life; it gives me joy and I wanted others to feel that too. I promised her that she too would feel joy from the gospel if she put time to learn more about God. I tell you people, there was a 180 degree switch in her after I said this to her. When I started the conversation she supposedly didn’t have any time, but afterwards she said, “Look, I actually just got permission off of work for the rest of this week because I got injured today. I’ll be home all the days this week until Sunday. I’m not sure who the missionaries are, but you can send them over and I will receive them in my home.” AH! What an amazing experience.
So as we have been teaching our loves about the plan of salvation I have been reflecting a lot on my testimony of the pre-mortal life and came to a super cool realization that I wanted to share with you guys. Well, the Plan of Salvation teaches us that before our life on Earth we existed and lived with our Heavenly Father. He loved us; we loved Him; He taught us and we learned and grew from His teachings. Our trust and obedience to Him created a relationship with Him that each one of us personally continues to have- whether you believe in Him or not. While we are here on Earth we will pass through good and bad experiences, through which we will feel His spirit- peace, comfort, joy, love, etc. Anytime that we feel these feelings we can take it as a testimony that we really did live with God before this life and that we have an eternal home in heaven. I’ll compare this to a real life scenario that each one of us has passed through before- Leaving on a trip and then coming home. No matter how we passed our time away from home, there is no better feeling than coming home. It’s an unexplainable peace, comfort and joy. There is even a saying about it! Home Sweet Home. I know that we have all felt this so I don’t need to explain more. So it is just like that with our spiritual Home Sweet Home. Whenever we feel peace or comfort from being close to God or from the spirit, it is because our souls remember of our pre-mortal life and feel close to our Father from heaven who we knew and loved. It is a good feeling because it is familiar to us.
I shared this with Andres when we taught them on the Plan of Salvation and he shared with us of a similar experience that he had to relate to my thought. He told us of a time when he went to Argentina to buy some fish. He was only supposed to be gone for one day but when they were on their way back to Chile, the roads were closed because it was too icy. His one day trip turned into an eight day trip! He said that when he got home, he was so comforted to see his family and he just felt good- that unexplainable good that I told you guys about before. He then told us, “If I feel that same feeling again, but through reading the scriptures or going to church, then I will know that this is all true.”
So maybe if we ever wonder if we really did live with God before this life or have any doubts about things in life, we can look for that coming home feeling and then know that that is our answer. And speaking on receiving answers, this week Nancy went 5 days without smoking one cigarette! She was so pleased. But she asked for more time to prepare for her baptism. She feels that unexplainably good feeling but she still is struggling to fully quit smoking. We are still so excited for her and know that she will be in white one day. Her new date for baptism is July 26th.
Peace and Love people! 
Xoxoxox, Hermana North
Picture 1: Lunch with Andres, Joselin and Branjeli
 Picture 2: Once with Hermana Gloria and Nancy

Picture 3: Dancing in the rain with Naty

Picture 4: the sky after the rain
 Picture 5: Hermana Nancy came to our rescue this day by coming out with us to teach our loves

Picture 6: preparing lunch in Preidents new (and cuper clean!) appartment

Picture 7: Oh so fancy...I forgot what that was.

Picture 8: Noche de Hogar with the Familia Orellana, Juan and Nancy...oh and Hermana Leavitt!! Miss her to the moon and back

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Vaca Flaca

Happy “Skinny Cow” season (Yes, I am still talking about cows). Winter has officially made its way over here which equals hibernation for everyone…minus the Mormon Missionaries aka: Us. Everyone tells us, “What are you doing outside? It is freezing.” Really? Because I thought that shivering was a reaction from the warm weather slash Yeah, I know, so let us in your house! Ha ha. I swear, it has never been so hard to get out of bed in the a.m., than now, and staying in the hot water of the shower for an extra five more minutes has become a new tradition. Also, I’ve found a new talent of mine- slipping on my bum down the stairs and running into bare tree branches. I’ve got some gnarly bruises and scrapes to show for it. If I keep going at this rate, I’ll be coming home in two pieces. Heaven Help me! I need all of the grace that I can get. But at least the mountains are looking lovely, covered in snow and all, and my rain boots are feeling the love (best invention ever by the way).
Well, we have been having really lovely experiences in teaching all of our loves here in Poeta Neruda. This week we took an approach of “out with the old, in with the new.” We want to see our loves progress and make changes to change their lives. So for those who do not want to make those changes now, we decided to move on. No hard feelings at all…we just know how important everyone’s time is. So for those who are ready to make changes in their lives, now, we have been able to see miracles with them through the small and simple things.  
In sacrament meeting yesterday, Nancy kept on commenting to me about how peaceful she felt. We have been trying to help her 1- receive a confirmation of the Truth and 2- quit smoking (before she smoked 20 cigarettes a day and now she is on 5 a day). And yesterday’s meeting was the answer to all of our prayers. After the closing prayer was said and the piano music begun, she said, “This is THE true church.” That personal confirmation that she had will now, without a doubt, be her motivation to stop smoking and help her to overcome that vice. Three more weeks until her baptism! We are so excited!
So about those small and simple things, yesterday we had a meeting with Elder Viñas of the Seventy. He advised us along with the stake presidents of our mission that we need to apply better the Book of Mormon in our lives. Actually if I could sum up the whole meeting in a couple of phrases it would be this, “Grow up, Don’t be Dumb and Apply the Book of Mormon.” I seriously LOVED how straight forward he was. He confirmed a lot of things that I’ve been thinking these past months on the mission. People! So many times we make finding joy in life a super complicated quest to obtain; when really, it is so simple. God knows us perfectly, He looks at us with the potential that we can become and He wants us to grow into that. For that reason he has given us five easy steps to follow, and if done correctly we will grow joyfully. These five things are faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost and Enduring to the End. That’s it! And all of this starts with our personal relationship with God (It starts with us).  How do we obtain that? Through three easy actions: DAILY prayer, DAILY scripture study and WEEKLY church attendance. I know that this sounds kind of ridiculous or pathetic, but it’ really this simple. The reason that a person goes inactive or decides not to be baptized is not because they have stopped feeling the spirit but because they have stopped doing what the spirit indicates. Whenever I have been able to teach a love that is passing through a hard time, the hardship or sadness that they face is never actually caused by their experience or trial but it is caused by the fact that they are not doing anything to strengthen their spirit. The solution is always the same and it SIMPLY always comes down to, “Are they praying? Are they Reading? Are they Attending Church every week?”  When we live for Christ every day, we walk that much closer to our Salvation and our journey through life is joyful. No matter what challenges or obstacles come our way. So just do the little things in the way that Christ himself showed us, and then help others do the same.
Don’t be Dumb, Just Do it!
The Lord is Hastening his work. What an amazing time to be living. I hope that you guys are enjoying the wonderful blessings that are coming from that- I sure am! Keep on keeping me updated on your lives. I love hearing from Ya’ll.  
Cariño, Hermana North
Picture 1: Sopaipillas in the Rain

Picture 2: This Love is a trooper to come out with us in the FREEZING cold weather

Picture 3: Hermana Sara :)

 Picture 4: Rainy day with Fransisca

Picture 5: Joselin

Picture 6: A little part of our sector...look at the sky!

Picture 7: In Providencia with Earl. We bought little gifts for our loves

Picture 8: Temple trip- Hermana Orellana

Picture 10: all of our elders and our Bishop

Picture 11: Writting on our window

Picture 12: I got to go to the temple more than once this week! I love how it looks at night

Walking on Water

Wow! Miracles are happening for us in the area of finding new people to teach. I want to just give a big round of applause to our ward members for that. I have a huge belief that when the ward is prepared, the Lord prepares his children within that ward to receive His gospel. There is just no other explanation to why we are seeing so many miracles with the people that we are finding so easily.  I don’t want to jinx anything but we hardly have made an effort to find new people, they just seem to be walk into our path, yet we are teaching them and inviting them to baptism and they are accepting. Yes, the real work comes in preparing them for baptism, but with the members it’s all just a more enjoyable and easier process. The members have a huge influence in the work that we do, and it really doesn’t take very much. The Lord has shown us that we need to work together with one purpose in mind- Mosiah 18:21, and if we do this blessings pour on everyone who is in proximity.
                Here is an example of one of the new loves, Javiera, that we are teaching now. I mentioned her in my last letter- the girl who stopped to talk with us because she thought I was Colombian. You will never believe her story. So the very first time that we went over with her, her mom told us that she was a drug addict and had that she had cancer (“she” being the mom…if that was confusing for anyone). People! The house…an absolute mess! Beer cans in every corner, cigarette buds on the T.V, clothes laying around everywhere and the worst part, THE SMELL- dirty diaper mixed with cigarette smell with alcohol all pleasantly mixed together (After walking out of the house, my nose hurt and I felt dizzy). It was absolutely terrible. I had never ever seen something like that before here on the mission. Sure, I’ve seen poverty…but this was different. Our sector here in Poeta Neruda is very tranquillo and safe (no worries Mom!) but it is close to a super ghetto zone, so some parts of our sector are bad- and that is where we were. Javiera told us that before she lived in the centro of Santiago, in an apartment, with her boyfriend and her “cutest- ever” baby who is 6 months old. She had left home at an early age because she resented her mom for doing drugs…but she had to move back in with her mom about 3 months ago because her boyfriend went to Germany to steal (to make an income- ha! Imagine that. And supposedly that is a trend here. Oh Boy!) And he got caught and is now doing time in jail. The whole situation has actually helped the mom because has been consuming fewer drugs with the baby in the house…but poor Javiera just wants to get out of the situation for a better life for her babe. Tears filled my eyes as I heard about the whole situation. So sad!! More than sad! But, it made me feel so happy that we had the remedy to help her. Maybe not by bringing her boyfriend back like she would have liked or has been praying for. But by giving her something so much GREATER- TRUTH, that brings salvation (2 Corinthians 6:10- my job is so worth it). I learned from this simply complicated example that God’s plan is not ours, but it will always be grander than we could ever hope for. He blesses us and answers our prayers in curious ways. Javiera wants Happiness. Her idea of it is having her boyfriend back, but God’s idea was sending us to teach her the gospel. And that has eternal worth, if she lets it change her life. God’s blessings and plans are always eternal.  We have been visiting her a lot these days and she is already recognizing the blessings of the gospel. She has told us many times that we are her angels. God is so good!
                Hermana Earl and I are having a lot of fun together. She is so great to me too. She has already taught me a lot about service. She is always doing little things for me to make my day easier. Even as little as refilling the herbs in my mate cup. Like I’ve always said, it’s the little things in life People. Do something little this week for someone else and see them smile J It’s a good feeling.
Chao until next week!
Xoxox, Hermana North
Picture 1: Teaching with Hermana Katy (Hermana Earl is super good at braids- she did my hair).

Picture 2: Divisions with Hermana Lepin- she is the typical sassy chilena

Picture 3: we were all trying to be Naty's height. She is just so little. Even with heels on

Picture 4: Happy Birthday Elder Mateus

Picture 5: Juan is standing on his feet now! We are making progress

Picture 6: Morning sky

Picture 7: service project at a Evangelical Church. We love to paint!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Out of the Comfort Zone- Where the Magic Happens‏

Where do I even beginning in explaining to you all about our week this week. Wow! So much has happened- miracle after miracles after more miracles. It did take me a couple of days to get over the fact that Hermana Leavitt was no longer my companion…but that was expected since she was my favorite companion. I felt bad for Hermana Earl because I felt like that crazy girlfriend that talks about all of her ex-boyfriends all of the time but she was very patient with me as I got over it. Ha ha. So we actually have found that we have a lot in common. Aside from the fact that we have served in all of the same sectors, minus Quimey, Poeta being both of our fourth sector (this morning we were laughing and reminiscing about our loves from San Miguel and Departamental…it made me Trunky for them). She is a Utah Utes fan. Supposedly I am too. We both love Wicked. She likes mate. I drink it every morning. And we both like to eat and take pictures of our food. We are getting along super well and like I mentioned before, we are seeing cual quier miracle.
Our week went like this: Our very first lesson together was on the Porch of a new investigator named Paulo. All of the questions that he had related to the Restoration so we shared it with him and he agreed to praying to know if it was true so that he can be baptized. The next day we taught Nancy (our amazing investigator). She has been reading the scriptures every day and has a new found love for the gospel and fasting- we taught her about the law of fasting last week and she actually did it! She said that she wants to do it again. She is going to be baptized on June 28th! When we invited her to be baptized, she said, “I won’t be baptized today or tomorrow…but very soon!” After we gave her the date, she said, “What do I have to do to prepare for my baptism.” The Hermana that was with us explained that when she was baptized that she would wear a white tunic and she said, “I have a white tunic, I can even donate it if you want.” She is super stoked on that now. We went with Joselin and Andres and gave them the Book of Mormon to start reading…later that night we passed by their completo local and she told us that she was already on Nephi chapter 2! That’s a lot of progress people! We ran into a girl named Javiera who thought that I was from Colombia. After talking with her for a while, she told us, “You guys seriously just fell out of the heavens. I have wanted to go to a church for a while now.” Turns out her and her family need a lot of help- something that this gospel can give. We found another new family through a random antiguo that I found in the Area Book. I didn’t have very much hope in it to be honest, but when we called “Allo” at the gate, the brother of the person let us in and we got to teach them the Restoration. Hopefully they will be able to continue to progress. At the end of our week we got to go make some visits with our love Monica. Sunday was her second day back to church in 2 years and she is already out in the streets with us visiting more people to bring to church. She is amazing!
The weather here is starting to change a lot! It’s freezing. And it rained and poured on Wednesday. But that was fun- I hope that you guys are enjoying the sun back home. It’s so weird that summer is starting over there while winter is starting here.
Xoxoxxo, Hermana North
Picture 1: The familia Caseres and Miguel y Omar. Just a group of absolutely normal people- Clearly.

 Picture 2: Monica Contreras- our miracle

Picture 3: Our first moments together

Picture 4: What's that? A hat? Thanks for the package mommy!

Picture 5: Bridges to cross the rio [river]

Picture 6: Divisions with Hermana Katirna (our less active member- two birds with one stone)

Picture 7: Juan bought me a ring. He is so great!

Picture 8: SNOW! its been so cold this week!

Picture 9: Hermana Pilar. One of the most inspiring and helpful members of our ward.

Picture 10: The sky just before it rained!

Picture 11: It's official. Im obsessed with the sky