"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

Monday, August 26, 2013

"No eating here tonight, we're on a Dietttt!"‏

So as you guys know a lot of the work that Hermana Leavitt and I have been doing here in Departamental is working with the less active and inactive members. This week we decided to set a part a special fast for those loves in hopes that they would come to church this week. Before we started our fast, I decided to set a special study aside for learning more about the principle of fasting. And maybe I am jumping onto this boat super late in the game but I am officially starting that tradition, that before I fast I am going to study about fasting. It made this opportunity so much more meaningful and I was able to feel the blessings more strongly of this particular fast. Here is one of the most beautiful scriptures that I found in my studies, Isaiah 58:3-12…READ IT!
On Sunday morning, we woke up early and ran over to Alison’s house, one of our inactive members, to help her get ready and make sure that she was able to go to church. When we got to her house, her sister told us that she was still in bed sleeping (just as we were expecting). We ran into her room and turned on the light and started yelling random things like “Rise and Shine!” and “Happy Birthday!”(Even though it wasn’t her birthday). She probably hated us in that moment but we were determined to get her to church. After we said a morning prayer with her, we waited for her to get ready on a porch swing outside of her house and sung at the top of our lungs the corniest songs out of the hymn book. I would have hated us too, but it was all for her own good! We wanted her to feel the blessings of going to church and especially of God’s love for her. After the circus act that we put on for Alison, we walked to church and got there just in time for church to start. It was an amazing meeting and my smile just got bigger and bigger as we saw all of our inactive loves, that we worked with this week; walk into church with their families. It was an absolute answer to our fasting and prayer. It gave me a stronger testimony of the power of fasting with lots of faith and willing heart. It kind of makes me want to fast every day, but that’s why we have prayer.
Last night was the best ever because we got to have a Noche de Hogar with the Morreno familia- an inactive/part-member family aka double whammy. During the week we had the reference from a family in the ward to visit the mom, Karina because it had been a while since she had come to church. We went on Saturday and talked with her a little bit about what has been going on with her and she told us that she was offended by some of the members in the ward, SURPRISE (that’s the story that we hear for just about EVERY inactive member). The good thing is that she had desires to come back to church, but she said that she would come after her hard feelings were gone. After we shared a little message with her, she asked us to come back the next day to meet with her entire family. It was super awesome because she was so excited to have us in the ward, we could feel her love. So last night was when we got to meet all of them, Carlos (the dad- nonmember), Ana and Karen (the daughters- members) and Jose (the son- nonmember). What surprised me the most was how open the dad was; he was so nice to us and asked us so many questions! “Do you guys teach the same lesson to every family?” “How many families do you visit in a day?” “How do you know what to teach to each family?” etc. We shared with their family the Mormon message of “Moments that Matter the Most” (One of my favorites) and then left them with the Liahona magazine, which they were so excited to receive. Carlos even claimed it and said that he was going to take it to work and read it. Then my favorite part of the night came when Carlos committed us to coming to their house every Sunday at 7PM to teach them! He committed us! Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around? Ha ha. Starting next week (so far away!) we are going to start teaching them the lessons. I am so excited to get to know them better; I already feel part of their family. Wish you guys could have been there!
Here is the funny story for the week: One day this week Hermana Leavitt and I were really far from our apartment and we had to pee sooooo bad! We both were really against using gross public bathrooms so when we found a super fancy Chinese restaurant we took our chance and ran in hoping that they would have a bathroom. (Of course they would!) No one stopped us when we walked in so we assumed that it was okay but little did we know an angry Chinese man was waiting for us outside of the bathroom. He started going off in Spanish with his Chinese accent (an entire different language might I add) saying, things like "you used our comfort, you used our water, you used our toilet, you have to pay." He explained this to us over and over until we finally understood what he wanted. All of that trouble and all he wanted were 400 pesos. Lesson learned, always pee before leaving the apartment.
Take care loves! Chao.
Xoxo, Hermana North

picture 1: I love having friends that know how to make yummy treats

picture 2: Big weird spikey plants

picture 3: La primavera

Picture 3: Casuela- a pretty common dish that we eat here

Picture 4: Another one of those pretty sky pictures. The air pollution is good for something!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Don't count the sheep in your sleep‏

This week Hermana and I totally rocked our menos activo and inactivo ward member visits.  It has come to an absolute shock to me of how many members are no longer active in the church here in Depatamental. We have a list of over 700 members in our sector and only about 90 of them are in church every Sunday. That’s less than 10 percent! So we have our work cut out for us here, which is actually a blessing in disguise as we have been able to get to know so many people who need our help. Elder Viñas of the seventy came to speak to us this week and told us of the sad reality of the church membership here in our mission. I know that numbers don’t matter so much, but just to give you guys an idea- here in the tiny Santiago Sur mission there are 33,561 people that have been baptized into the church. Out of all of those people there are only 3,243 members who are active and less than half who have gone to the temple to take out their endowments. It is so sad to me to see all of these lost sheep, yet realizing this it makes me understand how important my purpose is as an instrument in the hands of the Lord. The Lord needs me to help Chile step up their game. This is a work of helping people to endure to the end just as much as it is to help people receive the blessings of baptism and repentance.
One of my very favorite miracles that happened this week was meeting Juan Francisco-and inactive member for over 5 years. When we knocked on his door he told us that he was really busy and that he didn’t want anything to do with the church anymore. He began to deny everything that he learned in his whole life of being a member and he told us that the church ruined his life. Ouch. It kind of made me mad when he was saying all of these things because I knew that he was just hurt, that he didn’t actually believe anything that he was saying. Just as he was about to shut the door on us we asked him if at one point in his life, if he once had a testimony of the Book of Mormon. And that is when he cracked. The spirit brought to remembrance of the testimony and joy that he once had. He broke down in tears explaining that he made a big mistake while he was serving in a leadership position in the church and it caused him to lose a lot of trust in some members as well as his wife. He told us that he wanted to return to church and that at times he tried, but he just didn’t feel worthy enough or that his wife would blame him. We immediately stated talking to Juan about the power of the Atonement and the reality of Christ’s love for him, that it is infinite. How it allows us to change and heal us from heavy burdens and pains. At first he didn’t understand and he kept on telling us that he sinned too much or that he wasn’t worthy, but in all of these moments I felt with every fiber of my body the LOVE that Jesus Christ had for him. I couldn’t even hold back my tears and I felt so strongly 1) The love that Christ has for Juan and 2) The reality of the Atonement. I felt that if Christ was there physically that he would have been crying for Juan, hoping and praying that he would use repentance in his life and allow Him to take the burdens that Juan was suffering from. By the end of our time with Juan, he told us that he knew that the Book of Mormon was true and that he knew that he needed to get back on track with his relationship with Christ. He knew that he needed to pray for his wife to have her heart softened. He also told us that he was going to start letting Christ help in the repentance process. It was a literal change within 45 minutes. That was the power of the spirit of God. I am excited to go back with him this week and see how this change is affecting his days and week. 
Spring is on the Horizon. Hermana Leavitt and I got to leave the house without our jackets a couple days this week. And I am so excited for the sun to be a part of my everyday life again. Seriously people, I have been so deprived, I have gone through two winters in a row. I've never been so grateful to sweat. Ha ha. Gross. 
xoxo, Hermana North
Picture 1: Obsessed with this tile door

Picture 2: Totally envied this dog taking a nap in the sun. ha ha. 

Picture 2: The toy cart. It plays a song and all of the little kids run outside to buy a new toy.
 Cutest thing I've ever seen

Picture 3: Gorgeous Sunsets

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Ghost Stories without the camp fire‏

This week came straight out of a scary movie. Not because it went bad, just because we experienced a lot of scary movie moments. Staring with getting lost in our sector- So we had planned to go visit some less active members in the ward, but when we got to the street, it was super dark, there was no sidewalk and there were no houses or buildings as far as the eye could see (which is super not normal for this city, there is never empty space, only tall buildings and houses). But we had an address and decided to take a chance and hope that we eventually ran into the apartment buildings that we were looking for. We walked about 2 miles until we finally found the apartments. YAY! So we walked into the apartment building and started walking up the stairs to the fourth floor…but the creepy part was there was no light AND it was super quiet. Hermana and I started freaking out so we ran super fast up to the fourth floor and finally found a light switch. When we went up to the door that we were looking for, there was a HUGE crucifix on the door. All we could think at that moment was, “Crap, our inactive member turned Catholic again!” But no worries, it ended up just being the wrong door, supposedly I can’t read my own writing. So finally just as we were about to knock on the right door, my phone rang and it was a lady from the ward asking us where we were because we were supposed to go visit teaching with her that night. It totally slipped my mind and we literally dropped everything and ran to meet her. But here is the part that Hermana Leavitt and I will never forget. When we finally got to the bottom of the stairs in that creepy, dark apartment building and as we went to go open the door and it was bolted closed!!!!! Well, not really bolted, but it was locked in a hard core way. We literally started screaming and banging on the door, “HELP!! We need to get out” (I’m telling you People, this week really was straight out of a scary movie). We looked everywhere for a way out but you needed a key to unlock the door. We knocked on a door and they pointed to a button that unlocked the door automatically. But it was so dumb because the button was on the exact opposite side of the room. How was anyone supposed to see that? And this time there really was no sign that said that. We finally got out to the apartment building and vowed never to go back again, unless the sun was out.
                This week we had the opportunity to meet with a new investigator, Carlos. We met him in the street on our first day here and finally went to go meet with him. When we got to his house, His dad, Carlos Sr., answered the door and told us that Carlos wasn’t home. But he still let us come in and teach him, which made us super happy. We got to hear his entire life story, from when he was a pilot for the Chilean Air force to now as a dad of three kids. But before we even said anything, he told us not to be scared if we see anything weird because there were ghosts in his house!! Hermana Leavit was freaking out on the inside, but I was so excited. Sadly we never saw any ghosts. ha ha. Carlos is atheist even though he said that he had a near death experience and saw the devil and saw a light that he thought could have been heaven. It was really interesting for me to hear all of this. I couldn’t understand how he could have an experience like this and not believe in God or at least in a Greater being. He told us that he had passed through so many terrible experiences that if a God really did exist, that he would not have let him or anyone else pass through those terrible times. This was super sad for me to hear. Yeah, there are really hard times in this life, but if we focus in all of the bad in this world, then we will never see all of the good, all of the miracles that God has given us. I told him, “How is there no God when you look at all of the beautiful creations in the world, when you see your family, etc.” The plan that God had for us when he sent us here on the Earth, was that it wouldn’t be easy, but it would be worth it. And all that He asked of us is that we believe in Him. Plant a little seed of faith and let Him help us understand His mysteries. Our lives may not be a fairytale every day, but it is a miracle and our Father in Heaven is a God of Miracles. I know that He lives; He had a body of flesh and bones just like you and me. He loves us and wants to bless us. We just need to believe in Him first.
                Here in Departmaental, we are so blessed with so many loving members and yummy food. Everyone cooks so yummy from pasta, to chicken, to casuela, vegetables, pizza, basalmic vinegar, ect. I’ve never loved food so much until I got to this sector. YUM! And also this week it rained, which means that we got to eat my favorite, sopaipillas pasadas. Come to Chile and try them!
                I hope that you guys have a great week! Try not to walk into any dark creepy apartments this week, totally not worth the adventure.
Xoxox, Hermana North

 Happy Bithday to my Daddy-O! I am sad that I wont be able to sing and eat pie with you but I will be celebrating all day on Saturday. xox

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Chismes Chistes Chocolate Cacajuates Elefantes‏

I am alive and HAPPY! This week could not have gone by any faster. I cannot believe that it is already Monday-Another week. So let me just brief you guys on my week: On Tuesday I got to meet my new greenie, Hermana Leavitt. I could not sleep at all, the night before! I just was way too excited and I had NO idea what to expect as a new mama trainer in a new sector. My new compañiera is amazing. She is from Mesa Arizona, 21 years old, has cute bubbly personality, likes to watch the Bachelorette (first companion yet) and loves to tell those corny jokes that always make me laugh. She could not be more prepared to be here too. Her Spanish is great and she has that greenie power that I always heard about when I was a greenie (now it all makes sense). My first night with her, we didn’t have a lot of time to get to know our sector but in the time that we were out we talked with everyone that passed us. It was so fun to see how excited she was to get going, it made me remember my first day and how surprised my Hermana was to hear me say, “When do we get to knock on doors? Can we please knock on doors??” after my first night with Hermana Leavitt, I knew without a doubt that we were going to be able to open the windows of heaven here in our sector together. There really is power in greenie faith and its starting to rub off on me again!

After spending two glorious days in La Cisterna (we fell in love real hard with our sector), we got a call from the assistants telling us that we were going to be switched over to a sector called Depatamental, which was literally right next to La Cisterna. It is a Huge sector, last night it took us 45 minutes just to walk home from a cita, but igual we are excited to help the Elders progress this area. We are sharing this sector with 4 Elders. YUP! That would be 6 missionaries in one ward! It has been so much fun because we are able to help them in the areas that they need help. Also it has been super nice because the Elders have basically been setting our appointments up for us. Well, they call us and ask if we can go with them to teach or if we can go teach an investigator for them. The other night we got to meet an investigator couple named Ellia and Carols. They are so fun to teach. There is a lot of work to do with them in helping them gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon, but I know that once they know it is true, that everything else will just fall into place. That is something that we are promised in the Introduction of the book. And from my own experience, I know that this is true. My conversion to this gospel didn’t come when I was baptized at eight years old; it came after I had a testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. Once I knew that the Book of Mormon was true, I was able to understand and learn the truth of the other gospel principles.

By small and simple means, are great things come to past.

So because I am now in the Depatamental sector, I got moved back into my old zone! I was so excited to be back with all of my old friends. The goodbye was very short lived. Today we had a super fun zone activity where we went hiking in a place in San Bernardo called Cerro Chena. It was absolutely BEAUTIFUL. And if you know me, I loved the hiking part. There is just something about endorphins and pretty views that make me so happy! It was an adventure to start out with because the trails that we thought were the right trails ended up being a military practicing field…aka at any moment we could have been shot at. Ha ha! But how were we supposed to know that? It all just looked green and pretty, supposedly that’s what the signs were for but we never saw them because we jumped a couple of fences to get on the trails. Oops.

Here is one of those jokes that my Hermana told me this week:

Why did sally fall off the swing?

Because she had no arms!

Knock knock. Who’s there?

NOT SALLY! Ahahahahaha. Don’t worry guys, there is more where that came from ;)

Chao! xoxoxoxo

-Hermana North
picture 1: President and Sister Cook (love them with all of my heart!)

picture 2: The view from our new apartment. Im loving it!

picture 3: This is really city life people. The things you'll see in front of a butchery

Picture 4: This reminds me of Dr Suess...probably because those are Elder Hortons feet! Haha Sorry, that was lame...Hermana's cheesy jokes are rubbing off on me!

Picture 5: On top of the World

Picture 6: Doing my thing, like the Elders would say.

Picture 7: Kicked some booty today

Picture 8: Mexican power

Picture 9: The plus to waking up early- I really do love our new apartment!