"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

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Share the Love‏

This week we got to have lunch with one of the cutest little senior couple, Hermana Maria and Don Nelson. I love hearing about member conversion stories, so I asked Anita how she came to know the church (Practically everyone over the age of 40 here is a convert. The church is really new in Chile). I was actually a really funny story because Anita and three kids went on a trip to Florida for 6 months and in that short time, they had the privilege of hearing the missionary discussions from the stake patriarch and his wife. When they returned home to Nelson, they were Mormon! According to Nelson, he said that he didn’t really think a whole lot of it just because he is a wishy-washy Catholic- he believes in God, but in his own way. So out of the entire family of five, Nelson was the only Catholic. Over the past years the missionaries have come and gone from that house, teaching the lessons to him, but he says that he only likes to escuchar y compartir, he said that he doesn’t feel a need to ask for more from God. Hermana Leavitt and I started taking about the importance of the Book of Mormon. He has read parts of it and has gone to church, but the only thing that is keeping him from progressing any further is praying and asking God for an answer of the truth. We asked him what was keeping him from doing so and after he made up a few excuses the answer popped into my head- “He doesn’t know how to recognize an answer.” In that moment, I asked him if he had ever felt an answer to his prayers before or if he knew how the answer would come and he said, “No.”  And from there I shared with Nelson of my own experience with this exact thing.
For a very long time in my life, I struggled with asking God for things because I had never understood how to receive an answer, or I should say recognize an answer because my Heavenly Father has given me many responses. It was always confusing for me to hear other people talk about their answers to their prayers and their relationship with God because whenever I would pray I never felt or heard anything. I have always been a believer in all things good so I never doubted that there was a God, I really hoped that there was, but the thing that I lacked was knowing for myself. I always knew that believing in what everyone else told me that they knew was not enough, but I did have something essential and that was FAITH. Only three years ago, did this belief or faith that I had turn into knowing that God lives.
 I remember that I was at a devotional and a sweet sister named Sheri Dew was speaking to us. She talked with us about how the Sprit of the Lord speaks to each of us differently, which makes sense right? We are all different and have different needs. Heavenly Father knows how to speak to each of us so that we can understand perfectly and clearly. She told us that if we don’t know how God speaks to us that we should JUST ASK HIM- “God, how do you answer my prayers?” and then she counseled us to ask him for help to recognize our answer to that prayer. It’s that simple! As I put her advice into action, I found my own personal conversion to the Lord and this gospel. I found my testimony of the Book of Mormon, of Joseph Smith and of my Savior Jesus Christ. I finally RECOGNIZED how the Lord communicated with me. It changed my entire way of living and it helped me understand better my potential as a daughter of God. As I continue to receiver answers to me prayers, my testimony becomes stronger and I continue to progress.
As I shared my experience with Nelson, I knew that he was able to feel the Spirit of the Lord. I think that he was having a very similar experience to mine as well. It wasn’t that he was unwilling to act; he just didn’t know how to act. Nelson told us that he liked the idea of asking God plain and simply how He tutored him and he told us that he would do it!
Hermana Leavitt and I had a pretty crazy week with all of the festivities. We had the opportunity to commit two people to baptism after teaching them the Restoration- one being a delinquent and the other being and an ex Black Water employee. Long story short, we passed both of them off to the Elders. It might sound a little crazy to have these kinds of people as investigators and some of the elders doubted us, but I really do believe that they have potential to change. And as long as they are willing, the atonement has the ability to wipe away all sin and guilt- It is INFINITE.
Love you guys with all of my heart! Xoxox
Hermana North

picture 1: A pound of potato salad brought to you by your truly, Hermana Leavitt and North

picture 2: Go Big or Go Home

picture 3 : Spending our 18th at with la querida familia Raigan

picture 4: empanadas Chilean style

picture 5: Churi pan and steak. 

picture 6: The most busy street in San Miguel was empy the day after el 18.

picture 7: Love this grafitti

picture 8: broke the Word of Wisdom this week, we literally had meat every day

picture 9: I love this little, Danielo

Picture 10: french toast with peanut butter! My companionshowed me the light

 Picture 11: I hope that you guys arent tired of this view yet. 

Picture 12: Sunrise

Picture 13: they danced la queca together

Picture 14: Cute little chilean babe

Picture 15: eMaking freach toast for Alejandra- she came to church for the first time in 10 year yesterday

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

MERRY Everything & HAPPY Always!

So I kind of really sort of loved this week! It is fun to see the fruits that are finally starting to come from all of the work that Hermana Leavitt and I have been doing here in our whitewash sector. We have been looking for those investigators everywhere and for a while it just seemed like it wasn’t meant to be, but we kept at it and this week we were able to teach some new loves and see MIRACLES. Aren’t those just the best? Yesterday, one of my favorite missionary experiences happened. Hermana Leavitt and I went on splits with two girls from our ward because, get this, we had too many appointments to go to between just the two of us! At the end of the day, we all got back together and talked about all of our citas in detail and it was easy to see that the Lord was with all of us and He truly gave us some miracles.
The first cita of the night was with a reference that the elders passed over to us. Her name is Lidia Santa Maria. She is about 60 years old (even though she only looks 50) and she is a mom of 3 sons. Her hubby passed away only 3 years ago and over this time she has found herself drawing closer to God in a way to be close to her husband. When we started the lesson, we talked a lot about the importance of prayer and the tool it is in our lives to be able to have a relationship with our Father in Heaven. What surprised me the most was after we invited her pray, praying with the heart and not recited prayers; she told us that she already was doing that. This only surprised me because she is Catholic. Then she said, “I have grown up Catholic my whole life, and l love what I have learned from going to mass, but the only thing that I don’t agree with is reciting prayers. I find it boring and if it is boring for me, can you imagine how boring it is for the Lord. I love to ask him for things and I know that that is why he wants me to pray.” I couldn’t help but smile and my companion, Melisa aka Hermana Ramirez, and I both looked at each other absolutely touched by her words. So because she was already actively developing her relationship with the Lord, we began teaching her about the Atonement and the blessing that daily repentance brings into our lives. There was a scripture in the Bible that kept popping into my head throughout the entire lesson. I didn’t remember where it was, so I brushed it off the first couple of times that I felt like we should share it. Right before we were about to end the lesson, I felt a HUGE prompting to just open my scriptures and attempt to find it. In that moment I knew that it wasn’t just me that wanted to share the scripture with Lidia, but that Heavenly Father knew that she needed to hear it. I opened up my Bible and there was the scripture, I looked right at it. Matthew 11: 28-30,Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” As Lidia read the scripture, a big smile came on her face. It was perfect. And thanks to that experience, now I will never forget the reference. Before we left, she put her hand over her heart and said, “I am so grateful that you guys could come today. I felt something really special.” I know that the Lord is so aware of each one of his children, even when it’s something as small as helping them to find a scripture.
                This week we are going to be celebrating the independence day of Chile. The Chileans go all out for this holiday. The actual independence day is on the 18th but the festivities last all week, which mean that it is going to be really hard to find our loves- they are all going out of town and drink like crazy (I’m nervous for that part). In fact, our golden investigator, Marco, was MIA all week. He called us last night when Hermana and I were planning and he told us that work has been crazy and that this week he is barely going to have time to breathe with all of the gigs that they are playing at. After I made him promise me that he would not drink or do drugs, I told him, “Make sure to read the Book of Mormon everyday. Even if it is just one verse.” And then he said, “Okay North, but can you please read me a verse right now, because I’m so tired.” Ha ha. That was a fun mini lesson that I got to share with him over the phone.
I hope that you guys can find some things to make you smile this week like I did.
“A merry Heart maketh a cheerful countenance.”- Proverbs 15:13
Have a great week! VIVA CHILE.
Xox, Hermana North
p.s: It's official, Cecilia (my love from San Miguel) is getting baptised in 2 WEEKS!!! This news could not have made me any more happy. She is just so great. And this is so right. Also not like I'm counting down or anything but in 3 weeks is General Conference aka Missionary Christmas
picture 1: Our fridge on P-days make me so happy to look at! YUMM.
picture 2: My chilean companion, Hermana Ramireaz. She is going on a mission some day.

picture 3: Time to fill her up again! 

picture 4: We had a day of cooking because we were banned for leaving our apartement- Chilean Riots= Mexican Empanadas

picture 5: Heaven in a skillet

picture 6: Esquisito :)

picture 7: The flowers are making everything so pretty here! Im obsessed with la primavera

picture 8: We covered everything and anything in chocolate. 

picture 9: Last minute planning after church

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Highlights and Photographs‏

Monday: Shopping trip to the Florida Center aka mini America. But really, the mall looked like it came straight out of the U.S. Also we got to start our evening lessons by seeing the most beautiful Rainbow that I have ever seen. You should have seen our reaction when we walked out of our apartment and saw it. It was as if we had never seen a rainbow in our lives before. Like kids waking up on Christmas.
Tuesday: I got to spend the night with Hermana Blanca Nieves or if you prefer, Hermana Morra (we did divisions). She is the best Peruvian missionary that I have ever met. We definitely had our share of adventures and we also got to teach so many loves that I am actually quite jealous that she gets to teach.
Wednesday: After our zone reunion that we had in San Miguel (my old sector), I snuck over to see Marita since I was in the area. Of course it was a huge surprise for her to see me, but I’ll never forget the smile that she gave me when she first saw me standing in the doorway. Absolutely priceless. I miss that funny little love. Xox And to make the day even better, we got news that the mail strike is finally over! I got mail. Yess (there is really nothing better).
Thursday: Hermana Leavitt and I decided to finally start knocking on doors to find investigators. We met some very interesting people to say the least. We made some games up that made the time go by fast.
Friday: The hermanitas from the MTC came out with us. I spent the day with Hermana Earl. Even though she couldn’t speak a word of Spanish, we found a lot of miracles, one including our new golden investigator- Marco. He is awesome! He has a bunch of tattoos all over his body (including on his head…OUCH!) and he told us that he wished that he never marked up his body. Because in the bible he read about how our bodies are temples. Also, he is a musician.
Saturday: I played Sleeping Beauty at a member’s house while my querida Hermana Leavitt went out and taught our golden investigator, Marco. It was a huge bummer for me but I was excited to hear that the lesson went really well! Marco was so excited to receive the Book of Mormon and to start reading it.
Sunday: I got to speak at church and Hermana Jasmine made a surprise visit! Double blessing. Then I spent the rest of the night in bed. My immune system just crashed this week. Say a little prayer for me!
xox, Hermana Sleeping Beauty....I mean Hermana North
picture 1: On a happy High

picture 2: Orange you glad I didn't say banana?

picture 3: Rainbow!

picture 4: notice the purple corn...SO COOL!

picture 5: Our friends from the Feria. Loquitos

picture 6: The signs that we made for our table at the feria :)

picture 7: Hermanita Rosa. She makes her own home decorations

picture 8: Hermana Morra. She wears bows in her hair and her name is Blanca...just like Blanca Nieves

picture 9: Happy Zone!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

"Yo, I'll tell you what I want, what I really, really want"‏

It has been so awesome this week being able to see changes actually beginning to happen in the lives of our loves here in Departamental. Heavenly Father really has been listening to our prayers- SO COOL! It was a week filled with a ton of really awesome lessons and studies that I wanted share with you guys and I have no idea which one to bring up; they were all just so great. So bare with me if all of my thoughts seemed a little scattered. But I promise that they will be sweet! Just like sprinkles on a cupcake (excuse the cheese, I’m a missionary).
At the beginning of the week we were praying a lot to know what we needed to teach Alison in order to help her regain her testimony- it’s almost harder teaching the inactive members because there is a wider range of gospel principles that we need to help them understand. We shared some scriptures from Alma 26 with her. It talks about gratitude and how there is never an end to the thanks that we can give to the Lord for our blessings. This is absolutely TRUE. Something that I absolutely love that Hermana Leavitt mentioned was that even at the end of some of the worst days, in our case-after all of our citas fall through or after everyone seems to not care about what we have to share with them, we can still smile and be grateful for the beautiful sunsets that God gives us or for the awesome trees and Andes mountains, ect. Moral of the story, there is ALWAYS something to be happy about. God always gives us a cherry to top off our day. He gives us ways to be happy, even through the crappiest experiences that life brings us. We just have to recognize those blessings because there are at least 100 all around us at all times. There are 100 around you right now, count them!

One always finds that which he searches for- Search for HAPPINESS J
During our lesson with Alison, I felt so strongly that this was just the message that she needed to hear. I remember my favorite part was when she smiled at a comment that we said. It’s really the little things and in that moment, I realized that a little light bulb went off in her head.

This lesson about gratitude that we all learned about at the beginning of the week, seemed to be a theme of something that everyone needed to be reminded of here in Departamental. As you guys know, we have a crazy number of inactive members that we are working with. Many of these people have decided to stop coming to church because they have been offended by someone or something that was said to them in church. It is so sad to me that these people are choosing to lose out on blessings because they are unwilling to forgive and forget. I guess this is something that a lot of people actually have a hard time with- Humility is a hard thing. Having grudges on people and focusing on the negative things about them makes it harder to forgive, and that is something that Hermana Leavitt and I have been trying to help people understand. Time (something that everyone thinks will solve their offences) doesn’t make things better or make hurt feelings disappear. If we aren’t willing to forgive and find peace then we are just going to fall deeper and deeper into our hurt. Even over something dumb like being offended by a bad look that someone gave. So for these people that we have been meeting in bulk, we just have been reminding them to focus on the good! Focus on the blessings. And as we strengthen our Christlike attributes, we will be happier.

Something else that I loved learning about this week was about the knowledge that we have the opportunity to obtain here on Earth. In the Pearl of Great price, I was reading about the creation of the world. And after all was created, God rested. But this is what I loved: In Moses 3:2 it says, “And on the seventh day I, God, ended my work, and all things which I had made; and I arested on the bseventh day from all my work, and all things which I had made were finished, and I, God, saw that they were good;” (http://www.lds.org/scriptures/pgp/moses/3?lang=eng). So it says that God rested after all was finished good. What a great example that he gives us here. I feel that so many times in life, we procrastinate or we take a break because we are tired, etc. And maybe this is okay in a physical sense… maybe, but in a spiritual sense we know that there is no time for procrastination or breaks. From the scriptures we can learn that after this life, we are going to leave behind everything here on earth, except for our personality and knowledge. So it’s really important that we strive to progress and be better every day, because the way that we are here on Earth is how we are going to be in the life to come. I learned this in Alma 34:34, “Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful acrisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth bpossess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.” So we can’t just procrastinate and say “I’ll strengthen my faith in the next life, ect.” We need to build up our spiritual stamina right now, here on earth, so that when we live with God again we can understand Him and become like Him. The Lord promises us time and time again that if we seek knowledge, he will give it to us. This life is short and that we need to learn as much as we can here on Earth so that we can be prepared for the next life- our life with Heavenly Father. It’s kind of like a work out- starting out the whole work out process, we get tired easily and it’s really hard. But as we exercise every day, we build up stamina, and eventually the hard things become easier and we can work towards higher goals.
                So I hope that one of the things that I learned can help you guys over there at home. Hermana and I have been having a lot of funny moments together. We decided to start writing them down on a quote wall. Laughing really hard is good. Even if we get weird looks from people in the street. There aint nothing wrong with being happy! Love you guys!!
picture 1: this is what my breakfast looked like this week. White diet=death. So glad to be back on normal food now.

picture 2: More bland food. 

Picture 3: the view from outside our window...fog attack

Picture 4: Chilean fancy icecream

picture 5: Guard dog: He takes his job seriously.