"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

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!