Hermana Leavitt's Adress

Argentina Pouch:
Argentina Buenos Aires West Mission
50 E. North Temple
PO Box 30150
Salt Lake city, UT 84130-0150

Hermana Elise Leavitt
Argentina Buenos Aires West Mission
Ballesteros 1076
1706 Haedo
Buenos Aires
(Check buenosaireswest.blogspot.com for specifics on packages; it's a little tricky!)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Monday, September 9, 2013

How Beautiful are the Streets of Buenos Aires!

Easily one of the most glorious weeks of my life, along with a wave of different emotions as this incredible, sacred chapter in my life comes to a close.  I suprised myself by not crying all week, and then I got into the email, started reading Mom's email, and oh boy, I think for the first time it's started sinking in. The tears are definitely flowing. :)

But don't worry about me dear fam.  Heavenly Father truly protects and cares for His missionaries up until the very last moment, and He hasn't abandoned me once.  At this moment, the two feelings that fill my heart to overflowing are gratitude and happiness, as I explained in my letter to President.

"Hi President!

It has been an incredibly fullfilling week.  I honestly cannot fully describe my gratitude to you and to my Heavenly Father for having sent me here to Moron 1, because it has been one of the most sacred, rewarding experiences I have ever had.  As I have told you many times in my letters, I came to Moron 1 with a very strong impression that there were many people waiting for us here, and we prayed every morning and night that we would be guided to them.  As we worked as a true team with the members, Heavenly Father answered our prayers and guided us to people who were waiting for the healing power of the the Atonement.  

One of the most obvious examples of one of those people is Alberto, our dear friend who got baptized this past Saturday.  After 30 years of prayers on the part of his daughter and family who are members, he had become a "forgotten investigator" who was just waiting to be found by us. By crazy circumstances that I know were not coincidence, we met and began teaching Alberto.  It wasn't an easy process, and he hard-headedly refused to take that step of baptism, regardless of knowing that it is what Heavenly Father required of him.  As I told you last week, the converting power of the Holy Ghost was able to take effect in Alberto's heart  when we focused in on his Savior and the Atonement.  It was evidence to me that Heavenly Father truly knows His children and knows exactly what they need.  Alberto is an incredibly devoted and worthy convert, and it was a very special experience watching him get baptized and confirmed.  My heart was so full of joy, that I felt like it was going to burst!  And I know that we can only access that kind of real, uncontainable joy when we are doing the work of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. 

If there are two words that could describe how I feel right now, it would be grateful and happy.  So incredibly grateful for the sacred opportunity to be a missionary, to be a tool in the hands of Heavenly Father to help Him reach out in love to His precious children.  I will forever remember the counsel that you gave me in an interview when you told me that in order to feel the influence of the Spirit more in lessons, I had to forget myself look at the person sitting in front of me as the Savior looks at them, to love them the way He would love them, and to have trust in Him that He would put into my mind and heart the things that he wanted that person to hear and feel. I have never forgotten that, and in the many lessons that followed have tried to apply that.  It changed my mission, changed the way I felt about these incredible people here, and I honestly believe that it played a role in helping some of those people get baptized.  

Hermana Neira is ready and excited for whatever may come her way.  I almost jumped for joy the other day when she looked at me and said, "Hermana, what you said is true.  Obedience brings success, but exact obedience brings miracles. We've seen miracles this transfer."  She has truly learned those first 3 basic principles well, and I'm so excited to see what great things she and her new companion do here in Moron.  

Thank you so much for everything President. 


Hermana Leavitt"

I took the easy way out in sending you that because I spent all my email time sending baptismal forms and have no time.  But I would rather be sending baptismal forms my last P day than anything else. :)

To wrap things up, I wanted to share something that I learned this week in my personal study.  I was reading in the Book of Mormon in Mosiah 18 when the people of Alma all get baptized and learn about the gospel as they hide away in secret forests by beautiful streams. In describing those places, the river where they were baptized, the forest where they learned of the gospel, it says, 

". . . how beautiful they are in the eyes of those who there came to the knowledge of their Redeemer."

I thought about the hundreds of scruffy little homes I have entered into to teach the gospel, the dirty streets I have walked, talking with people and inviting everyone to listen to my message, the chapels where I have joyfully watched investigators walk into church as well as come out of the changing room dressed in white.  And I reallized just why those simple, seemingly uninteresting places are so very sacred to me.  Because it was in this place and with these incredible people that I truly came to know that Jesus Christ is my Redeemer and theirs and that He loves us infinitely. 

I love this gospel, I love being a missionary, and I love working alongside the greatest friend and example in the world, Jesus Christ.  

I can't wait to see you all!  Try not to attract TOO much attention in the airport.  :)   Love you all sooooo very much!  

All the love in the world,  

Hermana Leavitt

Monday, September 2, 2013

I'll Find You My Friend

So to start things off, I have to introduce you to . . . . Alberto.  Alberto is 88 years old, and despite his years is still a very tall handsome Argentine. :)  He has worked in almost every occupation imaginable, starting in a bakery when he was 7 years old. He takes complete care of himself, has a perfect, clean little house and garden outside with lemon trees and Jasmine bushes that he cares for. He spends his time reading and cooking up amazing concoctions that he insists on feeding us. He's something straight out of a fairytale movie. Alberto is the most loving, kind hearted man I think I have ever met, and in the very first moment that we met him, loved us as his own daughters and opened up his heart to us. He has known the church for more than thirty years but still isn't a member.  He's read the Book of Mormon many times, as well as Jesus the Christ, institute manuals, and any other LDS literature he can get his hands on.  He has a better understanding of our doctrine than alot of us members!  So you may be wondering, "So why isn't he a member!" Here's his story.  

We met Alberto one day when we went to buy some juice and were sitting down to take a rest on a warm afternoon about two weeks ago.  He was with his daughter who is a very active member of the church from a different ward, and when she saw us she got all excited and stopped to talk with us.  Her daughter, Alberto's granddaughter is serving a mission in Rosario.  We met Alberto, wrote down his address and went to visit him a few days later.  From that moment on, we loved Alberto with all our hearts.  We had lesson after lesson, always with the same question, "So Alberto, why haven't you gotten baptized?" He showed us all his books, including his Book of Mormon from 1975 that his daughter gave him when she got baptized.  It had the most beautiful dedication inside, the daughter pleading with her father to read the book and pray to know if it's true. 

 We came to lessons with different members, all of whom loved Alberto just as much but all left just as befuddled as us.  From the very start, we were very bold with Alberto, teaching him the doctrine of baptism and the importance, and inviting him over and over again to stop playing around and make this decision once and for all to get baptized!  Finally, we discovered that Alberto was just being lazy and was waiting for his daughter to baptize him when he had passed away!  But we all know that someone who KNOWS the truth in this life and chooses not to act upon it is going to have a rough time repenting in the next life.  

About a week ago, we were thinking and praying alot about Alberto.  We studied and thought some more, and decided that we needed to stop beating him over the head with baptism, and focus instead on the only One who could really help Alberto have a change of heart, Jesus Christ.  We felt very strongly that we needed to have a lesson on the Atonement.  We went to Alberto's house on Friday without a member and had a lesson outside in the warm sun (spring is here!) In the very first moment of that lesson, there was a different spirit.  It had changed from pressure and frustration with Alberto to complete love for this man and concern for his salvation.  

We had one of the most beautiful lessons I think I've ever had, and at the end, invited Alberto to be baptized.  But this time it was different.  This time it was an invitation to show his love for his Savior and faithfully follow His example.  It was the essence of everything we do and work for as missionaries.  It was inviting others to come unto Christ.  

Alberto's eyes filled with tears and he smiled and said,  "I know I need to be baptized."  Alberto is going to be baptized this Saturday.  After the lesson, we were eating apple pie and he said,  "You two have managed to do what my daughter has been trying to do for 30 years." I believe that every person has their moment when Jesus Christ reaches out in infinite, patient love and calls out to them to follow Him.  And it was one of the most sacred experiences of my life being able to participate in that moment with Alberto.  In that moment, I felt a tiny portion of the love that Jesus feels for Alberto, and even that tiny portion was almost overwhelming.  

I love this work so very much and I love seeing the power of Jesus Christ's love and Atonement work miracles in so many lives here!  

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Light of Christ in Cloudy Moron

Well, it has been another wonderful week here in busy, crazy Moron, and I have so much to catch up on telling you!

So first off, the wonderful family, Roxana and Alejandro. We have been working and working with them to help them come to church, and it's still a struggle.  Roxana is scared to go to any church that isn't the Catholic church that she grew up with, and Alejandor goes back and forth in insisting that he's "atheist." It's evidence to me of just how real and powerful the Spirit is in helping us know that eternal truths are TRUE and real.  Because I believe Alejandro when he tells us that he has never really believed in God, but when we sat in that first lesson and taught this husband and father about the beautiful plan of salvation, the Spirit testified to his heart and reminded him of these things that his spirit already knew but had just forgotten.  So it was no surprise when he eagerly got down on his knees with us that first lesson to talk with his Heavenly Father.  It's just frustrating for us as missionaries when we can't have a lesson with them for a few days and then they forget about that Spirit that they felt and go back to their old ways. But this doesn't mean that we're giving up on this family.  It's just going to take a little more work and a lot of patience.  :)
Our fun little group of Brazilian college kids got consumed by final exams this past week (all the Brazilians come here to study medicine) so unfortunately we haven't been able to teach them.  BUT we're teaching another amazing Brazilian named Lindston.  One of our very first days we contacted him in the street and he was so nice so we wanted to go to his house to teach him as soon as possible.  But when we went to find his street on our little map, it was no where to be found.  We looked and looked and asked and asked for the street "Canada", but no one seemed to know.  For the past three weeks we've always joked about the dream of one day finding Lindston in a colectivo or on the street again.  And then a few days ago, we were on the very edge of our area walking on a street called "Garcia" but we both happened to glance at a house at the same moment, and saw that the old name of the street was "Canada." We looked at each other and both said at the same time, "LINDSTON!"  We hurried to find the number, clapped our hands outside the gate, and out came Lindston!  It was a little miracle for us.  We had a lesson out front, and then have gone back to have lessons with young single adults in the ward, and Lindston is learning to pray, is reading in the Book of Mormon, and progressing really well!  We have yet to teach the Word of Wisdom, and his very Brazilian-decorated house has flattened beer botttles hanging on the walls, but I'm confident that the spirit will testify to his heart that these things come from Heavenly Father.  It's kind of funny teaching him, because his accent is so thick that I can hardly understand him. But Brazilians have SUCH a good sense of humor, and you know how I love laughing at funny people, so we have a really good time in Lindston's tiny little house. 
It's been challenging and yet so fulfilling going from area to area in these past few transfers.  For little Hermana Leavitt who HATES change and would stay in one area for her whole mission if she could, it has been an incredible learning experience.  Evidence to me that Heavenly Father knows exactly what we need to grow and progress.  I have definitley learned that it is truly possible to "grow where you're planted" and make beautiful things out of difficult circumstances as long as you have the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It illuminates my life in the busy streets and our tiny little apartment of Moron, Buenos Aires, and I love watching it illuminate the lives of so many people that we teach every day.  

Monday, August 19, 2013

Internet Disaster; Short and Sweet

Serving here in Moron is the greatest blessing in my life.  I feel Heavenly Father's love for us and for these people here.  I have seen incredible miracles as people accept the Atonement of Jesus Christ and let it change their lives.  It is real and true!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Change of Heart

Another amazing week in Moron, I'm not even sure where to start!  It has been an incredible experience to see our special little part of the Lord's vineyard in Moron grow and progress in just a few short days.  We really had to start from ground zero that first Wednesday evening, but as we have relied completely on Heavenly Father, He has worked miracles in just a week and a half and has really guided us to those people that are prepared.  

So first, the man under the car. :)  His name is Alejandro and his wife's name is Roxana.  They have three little kids: Ariel (11) Micol (8) and Santi (3) and are your typical young, hopeful family just trying to get by in life.  Teaching them has been an incredible experience.  That first lesson that I told you about, we knelt for the closing prayer and invited Alejandro to offer the prayer.  Keep in mind that this man just 35 minutes earlier had looked at us a little coldly and said, "I don't believe in God." And when we walked in the house, Roxana looked at us even more suspiciously and said, "I'm a life long Catholic." But it was literally one of the most miraculous and instantaneous changes of heart that I had ever seen. By the time we had knelt for that closing prayer, a warm, beautiful spirit filled the home and Alejandro humbly offered his first prayer.  I know that I always talk about "the first prayer," but they really are some of the most special, spiritually uplifting experiences that I have had.  

We've had a few other lessons with them since then, and they are so special to us. Roxana carefully reads every little reading assigment that we leave them and eagerly explains to us what she learned in the next lesson. Alejandro is going to have a few obstacles to overcome before his baptism like smoking and working on Sundays, but every time Hna. Neira and I talk or think about that first prayer that he said, we are truly awed at the power of the Spirit and the amazing progress that Alejandro has made in such a short time.  I don't know if this wonderful family will get baptized during my time here in Moron, but I do know that they will someday get baptized and sealed to be an eternal family.  And I'm just so grateful that Heavenly Father trusted us enough to guide us to this wonderful family and let us teach them. 

We're also teaching a bunch of Brazilians here in Moron, and they are the BEST!  Moron has a University here where a bunch of kids from all over come to study medicine. So it's really great because the ward has a ton of young single adults and a ton of energy.  One of the members, a young girl about our age, is named Dani and she is the definition of a cool, chill Brazilian and the most incredible member missionary I've ever met.  Our first Sunday in the ward, she came up to us and said, "Hermanas! You need to come to my apartment today to meet and teach my roommate and friends!"  It was like a dream come true.  

So we've been spending some of our evenings in Dani's cool little apartment teaching a small group of Brazilians and tasting all kinds of Brazilian food.  It's the best.  Brazilians are the funnest, most easy-going people, and I feel like I'm at the Glenwood just preaching the Gospel!  One of Dani's friends, Veronica, is especially interested and progressing really well.  She has a goal for baptism at the beginning of September, and we are loving teaching her!

I realized I never gave you the low down on Hermana Neira!  Well, I have about two seconds, but basically she is the best.  She's from Chile (another Chilean!) and is the biggest tom boy I've ever met.  She has a small little "Dan face" but the deepest, funniest voice and boyish mannerisms.  She's shy and quiet in groups, but has the fiestiest little personality and absolutely burns with a desire to share the gospel.  She's older, 25 years old, and is an incredible companion.  I love her already, and we have such a good time together! 

All in all, I'm happy and loving life here in Moron. It's been another challenge and a new period in the mission to learn a whole new bunch of lessons, butI feel the strength and light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in every step I take. I love sharing His gospel!  :)  I hope you have a wonderful week family.  Thank you for being the best!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Listening to that Still, Small Voice

Wow, it has been such an incredible week!  I feel like I would write this entire email in big caps because that's how excited and happy I feel inside, but that would be a little annoying. :)  So yes, it's off to another adventure of training and opening a new area for the hermanas, and it has been incredible!  But first, an update on my last days in dear 9 de Julio.
We received the phone call on Monday afternoon that I would be leaving and training, and the first thing we did was cry a little together and then go buy ice cream at our favorite ice cream shop nearby. :)  I have been so incredibly blessed with the best companions in the world, all of whom will be amazing friends for life, and I've never been able to part from one of them without crying my little heart out.  Hermana Sanchez and I had some hard and some truly miraculous experiences together, and I love her sooo much!  We always joked that she was "my daughter born in the wilderness of my afflictions"  like Lehi's son Jacob.  9 de Julio was truly the refiners fire for us where we fought on the battle fronts with Satan and followed the Spirit to see miracles. 
So we spent our last two days together working with all our heart, and we had a really amazing experience.  At the beginning of the transfer, we did a random street contact where we invited four punk kids sitting in the park to church.  We had written down all their addresses, but never went. I'm ashamed to admit that we didn't take them very seriously and never really planned on passing by because we thought they were probably false addresses anyway. But every night in daily planning, I would open up my planner, see those four names, look at the name Emanuel, and say, "let's go visit Emanuel!" So we would ALWAYS put Emanuel as a plan B, but we never managed to get to his house.  It became kind of a joke, and sometimes we would forget to put Emanuel in the plans, but then a few days later, I would flip to the back of my planner, see that name among the four punk kids, and for some reason the name always just stood out to me.  So, as a special going away present for me, we put Emanuel as a plan A on Tuesday and made our way to his house.  We knocked on the door, a nice lady let us in (Emanuel's mom) and we had an incredible lesson.  In that lesson, Roxanna and her kids agreed to be baptized, and Hermana Sanchez just told me today that they are progressing wonderfully!  I may never see the fruits of that little seed, but I will never again brush off those tiny little promptings from the Holy Ghost that sometimes just appear to be silly little Hermana Leavitt whims.
That is one simple,  but seriously profound thing that I have learned on the mission.  The promptings from the Holy Ghost are truly "still" and "small," and if we're not listening REALLY carefully, we will very possibly just glide right by them. 
And these past few days starting out in Moron have just reinforced that lesson over and over again. From the very first moment that my name popped up on the screen with Hermana Neira, I KNEW that Heavenly Father had people prepared for us in the city of Moron.  And ever since that moment, I have prayed harder than I think I've ever prayed in my whole life that I would be attentive enough to the spirit so that He could guide me to them. Seriously, I think I say a little prayer every five minutes, sometimes more, because I want more than anything in the world to be the tool in Heavenly Father's hands that He needs to save His children here in Moron. 
So Moron (pronounced "Moh-Rohn," not like the "moron" that us americans say when we read it.)  It was THEE biggest change going from 9 de Julio where everyone jaunts along the gold-paved streets whistling a happy tune to the busy, dirty, dirty streets of down town cityish Moron.  It seriously is like a completely different mission, and I had forgotten how to be a missionary in the city!  Those first days, I really was praying in every moment to find those people that Heavenly Father has waiting for us, and we had door after door closed in our face and rejection after rejection.  At one moment on Saturday, we walked along in the grey afternoon, sooooo tired from being on our feet for about 6 hours straight without a single person giving us the time of day, and I have to admit that a little tear came to my eye and I looked up at the cloudy sky asking Heavenly Father why He wasn't answering my fervent prayers.  I wanted so badly for Hna. Neira to have a good experience, to find the people waiting for us, and I felt like we were hitting a brick wall!  But I've learned that sometimes Heavenly Father lets us exercise a little faith, and after we show our faith, the miracles ALWAYS come.  As tempted as I was to give up in that moment, we continued on, and Heavenly Father literally poured out the blessings upon us.  
Last night, I had another experience with the still small voice of the Holy Ghost.  We were walking along in the warm evening, and across the steet there was a man working on his car. I thought to myself (which I've learned is often how the Holy Ghost communicates with us) "It would be cool to talk to him. But no . .  he's working on his car and I don't want to interrupt him." So we kept walking.  We went to the house we were looking for and they weren't home, so we turned around and walked back on the came route. And there he was again. The man working on his car.  And yet again, I thought to myself, "Man I should really talk to him. But no . .  he's really busy."  Wow, Hermana Leavitt, how silly can you get!  Thankfully I clued in after about ten steps, called Hna. Neira back and went back to talk to him. As I introduced myself and talked cheerfully with him, he didn't even take his head out from under the car to look at us.  "I don't believe in God," was his response. And I thought to myself, "Wow, some prompting."  But I just kept talking and eventually he took came out from under the car looked at us, and said, "Come on in."  To make a long story short, we met his wife and three kids, had a lesson on the plan of salvation that I think was one of the best lessons I've ever had in my whole mission, and when we invited them to be baptized at the end, they smiled and said, "Yes!"  This same man who said he doesn't believe in God wrote down the baptismal date for his family and said,  "I am. SO. Excited for september 1. And I don't even know why, but I'm so excited." This family hardly even understands what baptsim is, but when the Spirit is doing the teaching, they know how they FEEL and that's all that matters.  We found our family, the family that I was praying and praying for every minute since we arrived in Moron. Heavenly Father answers our prayers, and He communicates through the still small voice of the Holy Ghost.  

Monday, July 29, 2013

Learning and Growing

It has been a beautiful springy week here in 9 de Julio and another week of learning and growing so much.  

It was a challenging and incredible transfer where I learned to really rely on Heavenly Father and His ability to turn my weaknesses into strengths.  I will never be able to forget the counsel from "Elder" Williamson to Dan that Dan then in turn shared in her talk before leaving for the mission.  "Repent every day."  Such a simple little piece of counsel, but something that has really helped me to humble myself and become a better missionary and person than I ever could be without Jesus Christ.  Those moments in the morning and night when I talk with Heavenly Father about what I could have done better in the day and how I'm going to improve, asking for His help and guidance have strengthened me as I then go out and ACT.  

This week we have been blessed to find some really incredible people here in 9 de Julio.  One of them is Cintia.  She's from Paraguay and lives with her husband and two kids, Jacki who is 12 and Ezequiel who is 9.  The husband is never home because he works out in the campo days at a time, so we don't know him. But Cintia has such a good, open heart to learning more about the gospel. One of the challenges is that she and her husband aren't married and her husband never got divorced from his first marriage.  But it has been incredible to see how the Spirit works on people's hearts when they hear messages of pure truth.  In our first lesson, we taught Cintia about the 5 steps we take to follow Christ and invited her to be baptized.  She accepted and expressed how she feels like this is going to bless her life.  So in the next lesson, we didn't hesitate in teaching her the law of chastity.  I've seen that I've grown to become a much bolder missionary, and it was so refreshing and powerful to teach this commandment boldly and lovingly and invite her to keep it.  I realized that when we do things out of love, it doesn't matter how bold we are because the person will feel our love, without a doubt.  That was the case with Cintia.  Instead of getting scared off, she wanted to do things even better, and is working towards keeping this commandment.  

Monday, July 22, 2013

In the Right Moment at the Right Time

To sum up the week, freeeeeeezing cold, but so beautiful and full of incredible experiences.  I pile on as many layers of leggings and tights as possible and never take off my coat or gloves.  And a few days ago, I learned that cold air can give you a "sunburn!" Painful experience, but the members take care of their "rubia" (blondie) and gave me creams for my face and taught me how to wrap my face in a scarf so that it doesn't happen again. 

Besides the cold, we are super happy and seeing alot of miracles here! The other day, we went to visit a referral from a member. We had to walk about an hour to get to the little neighborhood that is semi out in the campo, and when we finally made it to her doorstep, she proved to be the first and only not-so-friendly person in 9 de Julio and shut the door in our face.  As we walked away from the door rejected and a little bit miffed that we had walked an hour just to have the door shut in our face, I looked around at the beautiful little neighborhood and said, "Hermana Sanchez, there's someonehere in this neighborhood that we need to find.  Heavenly Father brought us here for a reason, and we're going to stay here and work until we figure out why!" So we started knocking doors. We met some really nice people, but everyone was "busy" or "heading out the door," and it seemed like we had hit the neighborhood in the worst moment.  

But we kept knocking and knocking, until we walked past a house with big sliding glass doors.  There was a woman inside sitting at her dining room table, and I smiled and waved to her from the street.  She immediatly jumped up, ran out of the room, and the next thing we knew, she was hurrying out her front door towards us. As she walked up to us, she smiled, said "hello," and then just stood there.  I was waiting to see if she had something to say, maybe had talked with missionaries before or thought we were someone else, but no. She just stood there and smiled, as if she was just waiting to listen to our message and go the baptismal font that very moment!  So we introduced ourselves, told her that we share a message about Jesus Christ and how we can live with our families forever, and she immediatly let us in.  

As we started talking with her, she told us about her life. 40 years old, lives with her husband and little 5 year old girl, trying to stop smoking, looking for a job to support her husband, and recently coming out of a deep depression that she went through after the death of her sister.  We hear about alot of crazy things as missionaries, so this was nothing dramatic. But what caught my attention was when she said, "I've gone to a lot of churches and tried alot of things, but none of those things have helped me heal completely."  Mariela is definitly one of those who Heavenly Father has been preparing for a long time.  We taught the Restoration, and when we showed her the picture of Jesus conferring the priesthood upon his disciples and explained the authority of the priesthood, her eyes lit up and she said, "THAT'S what I'm looking for! The church with the authority from God!"  Words to make a missionary's heart sing!

Monday, July 15, 2013

The First Prayer

We've really been "thrusting in our sickle with all our might" this week, and by Sunday night, we walked into the pensh absolutely exhausted from head to toe, but it's weird how GOOD that always feels to me.  But a weekly P day was definitely an inspired decision by the brethren. :)

We had a few lessons with Matias and Maru this week, and all kinds of road blocks have come up with Argentine paper work that is going to move us back a little bit with the wedding and baptism.  But those lessons have been full of some of INCREDIBLE experiences that makes all the work and stressing worth it, and it doesn't matter when they get baptized, it's just such a blessing to see them progress and their faith grow.  The other day we had a lesson on the Word of Wisdom, and it's going to be another long journey in helping Maru stop smoking.  But the most beautiful thing happend after teaching the lesson.  We invited Matias to say the closing prayer (something he has really been scared of and really struggls with), but this time he looked scared for only a moment, but then squared his shoulders, looked us in the eye and said, "SI." 

We all got down on our knees, and after a long pause to gather his thoughts, Matias started to pray.  He followed the primary steps just as we had taught him and has a very simple, "country boy" vocabulary, but as he prayed, the most beautiful spirit filled the room.  He thanked Heavenly Father for his wife and children, and then asked Him to bless his wife with this goal to stop smoking. He asked Him to help them both on this new path that they have started, and it was apparent that this man, this husband and father, was praying with all the sincerity of his heart, He was really talking with his loving Heavenly Father and putting all of his trust and confidence in Him.  The mission is full of incredible miracles, sometimes big and sometimes small, but that experience of kneeling on the cold, hard ground listening to Matias' simple prayer is something I will never forget. I love them so much. 

Hermana Sanchez and I are so happy together, and it always seems so unfair to me that I have to part with the companions that I come to love so much.  Being companions with Hermana Sanchez has taught me that patience, HUMILITY, and real sincere love can make any two people the best of friends, even those who are completely, absolutely opposite in every way. :)  We talk and laugh as we walk what seems like thousands of miles every day, set goals to work better with the members, practice to improve our teaching, and just become BETTER together in every aspect.  It has been such a fulfilling experience "training" her even though she really is the one teaching me.  

Monday, July 8, 2013

Miracle on a Bus

I'm writing you on Sunday because we had to come into the offices AGAIN for a training meeting for all the trainers that we're going to have tomorrow.  President was out in campo today, and rather than have us take a bus at 1:00 AM, he offered to take us back with him today and have us stay the night in Ramos Mejia to be here for the meeting tomorrow.  And then we won't have time to write letters tomorrow, so he told us to write right now.  But no worries, I'll still get to go tomorrow to print off your letters!
We had THEE coolest experience this morning.  We had to get on a bus to meet President in another little town in campo, and in the morning we had prayed that  Heavenly Father would let us have teaching experiences today despite the fact that we would be traveling all day.  So we went to one hour of church and then boarded the micro.  As we sat there all cozy in the empty bus, a little grandma came up the stairs and sat down across the aisle from me.  I smiled and said hi and asked her where she was going.  She got up from her seat by the window to move closer, and as the bus pulled out, we started chatting. I asked her about her life, and she cheerily talked about a seemingly perfect life with husband and grandkids, but mentioned that she was on her way to another city to play bingo and "escape" for a while.  The more we talked, the more she opened up, and it became clear that her life is in reality very dark and dreary right now with a husband that ran away with a young girl two years ago, a little grandson that is slowly dying, and personal health problems. I told her that we share a message of hope and asked her if we could say a prayer and share a scripture with her.  During the whole message, tears streamed down her face, and when we got off the bus, we set up an appointment to go see her this week.  Miracles every day.  

Monday, July 1, 2013

Another Day in Paradise

It has been an AMAZING first complete week here in 9 de Julio, and I am really truly happy.  In my letters that I've written to President in these past weeks, I've talked about how I feel like I'm finally really "getting it" and fulfilling my purpose as a missionary.  I feel Heavenly Father's presence here in 9 de Julio, and I feel Him guiding us and supporting us in every moment. 

Well, I'm actually not in 9 de Julio right now.  We had to go to capital to take care of some Visa issues for both me and Hermana Sanchez, and it has been a wonderful little adventure. We slept for two hours last night and then got up at 12:30 to board a charter bus to take a 5 hour ride to the offices.  Hermana Castillo and her comp boarded the same charter bus half way through the trip, and then I got to go to capital with the MTC crew and do some catching up.  Finally, I saw my dear Hermana Carrillo at the offices and saw pictures of our darlings that got baptized last week in Padua and of the baptism of her dad that she got to go to!! So many beautiful things happening in all parts of the world.  So now Hermana Castillo and I and our "hijas" (when you're training a new missionary they call her your daughter) are here in Ramos waiting to board a bus that will take us back to campo. :)

And campo.  Wow, I think I am hopelessly in love with 9 de Julio.  I don't remember what I could tell you last time, but here's a nice little summary of this little paradise on earth. 
The Branch: It's tiny and adorable as can be.  We don't have a chapel, so we meet in a beautiful old house that they have made into a nice little church. About 15 to 20 people come to church every Sunday, so we've started to work like crazy on reactivating as we continue finding and teaching investigators. Yesterday was what we can expect from a typical Sunday.  We teach the youth Sunday class, I play the tiny little keyboard, then get up to give a talk.  It's so small and completely different than anything I've ever experienced, but the members that come are INCREDIBLE and adore the new hermanas so much they make me blush. :)  There haven't been hermanas in 9 de Julio in 20 years.  Our Branch president is wonderful and takes such good care of us, and I already feel like it's my sweet little family. 
The People of 9 de Julio: I think I described them a little bit last time, but basically the kindest, classiest folk I've ever known.  I've never read Mom's "Mitford" books, but I imagine that these people are alot like that.  Of course, not every person is an absolute angel, but we really have not received anything close to an unkind word (or a loud catcall or whistle which truly is incredible).  Because of that, we haven't had any problem finding more people to teach, and there is nothing happier than a missionary that is contstantly teaching.  Plus it's a huge blessing that Hermana Sanchez gets to practice alot. 
Nobody here locks their bikes or motorcycles.  They all just share this common feeling of trust and respect, and it is truly a beautiful thing.  

The Apartment :) Is in one word, BEAUTIFUL.  As the secretary Elders in the offices put it, without a doubt THEE nicest aparment in the mission. Pictures say more than words, so I'll send photos next week.  :)

Hermana Sanchez.  She is an absolute doll.  Basically came pretrained to the mish, plus her Chilean confidence makes her a very involved, very "I know what I want" powerhouse.  Definitely a contrast to my more laidback approach, but with wonderful communication, alot of openly demonstrating my love and appreciation, we've been able to slowly find a balance and see miracles in our short time together.  Hermana Sanchez is beautiful, very prim and proper, and says the word "precious" and the phrase "oh, but how DELICIOUS" in reference to everything.  Just like a princess out of the movies! 
Our Investigators!  Well, we are currently teaching an AMAZING couple named Matias and Mariela (but we call her Maru). They have three little boys and we had two lessons with them last week and then they made the effort to pay for a taxi to come to an FHE on Friday night and then on Sunday, we were praying and praying that they would make it, and right before Sacrament, in they came.  They are super young and wonderfully simple, kind people.  They appear a little rough from outward appearance with piercings and things, but they are really just GOOD wonderful people.  Matias works in construction all day to support his little family, and Maru stays at home with the kids.  The only issue is that they aren't married, but they have all the desires in the world because now they understand that it's necessary to be able to get baptized. We're hoping and praying to help plan a wedding AND a baptism this transfer!

Speaking of, my little heart is sad at the thought that I most likely will only be here in this blessed place for one transfer.  Then, as President informed me, it's off to training and opening a new area all over again! But all is well, I know that Heavenly Father has everything in control and He is going to use me for good everywhere I go. :)
This week truly has been beautiful as I have felt that perfect obedience and complete faith in the Lord has really brought forth miracles and made the mission a sacred experience.  One night we were in the dark looking for the address of a member, so I decided to go knock on a door to ask where we were.  A sweet woman answered the door and said that she had some friends in the city who were Mormons. Her name is Analia.  So we set up an appoinment to come back and teach her, and in the lesson we learned that she is really disillusioned by her experiences in Catholic and Evangelical churches and has been looking for a way to "build her faith in Christ."  We were able to look at her, smile, and say, "We can help you do that!" 
It's incredible how much you learn when you're the one that's supposed to be doing the teaching.  I learn SO MUCH from Hermana Sanchez every day, and it is such a blessing to be with her.  This week, she reminded me of the importance of listening, a skill that I had lost in a desperate attempt to keep all my Argentine investigators from talking for three hours straight.  This week, as I have relearned to listen and NOT think about how I'm going to cut them off or what I'm going to say, we've been able to teach to their needs, testify of the Savior, and feel the very REAL presence of the spirit in our lessons that everyone notes and feels. 
Basically, I'm happy and still ever-growing, and I love working alongside Heavenly Father and Jesus in this beautiful place!  I love you all so very much and hope you have a wonderful we

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Tsunami of Missionaries

I've just read and responded to President's letter where he tried his best to prepare us for this tsunami of new missionaries and straight up craziness that his rolling our way. (Elder Cook described it as such when he came to visit us, and we've been using that term in the mission ever since.) He wrote a special letter to all the sister missionaries, calling us to a higher level of faithfulness and diligence in such a wonderfully President Carter-ish way. Well, first he described in hefty detail all of the challenges that are coming our way with 19 of us sister missionaries who will be receiving 57 new sister missionaries in the next three months.  And then he said, "The Lord has chosen you at this time, in this place, to be missionaries of strength, confidence, intellect, and spiritual power. . . .both the Lord and I know that you can do this, and you can do it well. It is your time to stand up and be valiant in your calling." 

Wow, I'm feeling a little bit humbled and, to be honest, a little bit nervous. But if there's one thing I've learned in this service its that we truly can "do all things" in Christ.  I know that He is going to continue turning my weaknesses to strengths (one of those being flexibility!) as I put all my trust in Him and move forward with faith!  

Now for the work in Padua! Well, we're preparing the baptismal service for three of our little friends who we've been teaching.  Juli and the two adorable twin boys, Adrian and Ezequiel. (Have I told you about them?) Their mom is an inactive member, but the older sister is super active, and when we went to visit her one day, we met the twins and absolutely fell in love. :) I'll have to send pictures next time, but they are two of the most beautiful, cheekiest, most charming little gentlemen I've ever met.  They're ten years old, and when we talked about the gospel of Jesus Christ with them and their mom, they said they wanted to be baptized!  So we've been teaching them for about three weeks, they've been coming to church, and we're been able to help strengthen the family at the same time.  It's been a huge blessing teaching those two.  

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Things That Matter Most

It has been an amazing week here in Padua and a week where I learned just how much I love Padua!    On Tuesday and Wednesday, we had divisions, so I went to Aldo Bonsi to be with Hermana Castillo (seriously! don't know how President allowed it but he did!) and Hermana Carrillo stayed in Padua so that she could learn the area better.  The division was great, and we had some good times, my little Peruana and I. But I think the greatest blessing was being able to return to our dear little scruffy pensh and the tree-lined steets and come to the realization that I adore Padua and missed it so much!  After thinking that I could never love a place and people as much as I love San Justo, this was a great realization for me. :) 

This week, we have been working alot with a beautiful family named the Familia Iglesias. Well, we've actually been working with them for about a month.  They are a mom and a dad with 5 CRAZY little girls and 1 baby boy.  The two oldest daughters are both members but have their records in a different ward where they were baptized, so the hermana's before us discovered them by accident. The mom, Monica, is absolutely wonderful, and wants really badly to get baptized, but she and her husband aren't married, so that's a road block.  The third daughter, Julie, is the one who is going to get baptized in a few weeks (I sent pictures with her I think.) and she is such a character! She has the attention span of a little puppy, but is so earnest and adorable that we miraculously keep coming back (despite little 4 year old Nicole who tugs on my hair with grimy hands, 6 year old Morena who yells over us in the lesson, giving us a minute by minute recap of her day at school, and muddy puppies that jump on my lap). Lessons are always an adventure and we always leave exhausted, but I love that family with all my heart.  They live in humble circumstances, but are so incredibly good, and we are praying and praying that Monica and her husband, Marcelo, can get the marriage papers going so that she can get baptized! They didn't really see the need, but all the talks in Sacrament this Sunday were about living the Law of Chastity, and after the meeting, Monica went up to the bishop and told him that she was going to start the paper work this week! Marcelo approves and loves the church too, but works such long hours that I still have never seen him. 

The other day we went from a lesson with familia Iglesias in their tiny, very humble home to contact an old investigator who lived on the other side of town in practically a mansion.  As we sat in her beautiful home and talked with her, she told us of her woes with her divorce and her life of drifting in and out of relationships with different men, despite the things that the missionaries had taught her about the Law of Chastity.  It was so interesting to go from the polar opposite in the Iglesias happy home where they struggle to buy bread and diapers but are accepting and beginning to apply the principles of the gospel, to this mansion where the very nice but very very sad woman didn't want to accept the gospel and whose life right now is very cold and empty. How grateful I am for the Gospel of Jesus Christ that brings happy moments to our everyday existence and greater perspective of the beautiful things to come.   

We were able to find Clotilde after two weeks of crazy medical appointments. I don't think I've ever mentioned to you that Clotilde has pretty serious health problems, cancer being one of them.  But we had an AMAZING lesson with her and, as always, are inching ever closer to the light bulb moment.   

Monday, June 3, 2013

Beautiful Mission Moments

Wow, such a good week and such a good day, I can hardly wait to tell you all the news!  This has really been full of so many of those moments that just make me think, "I am so HAPPY to be a missionary!" And to be here in Argentina, at this time, in this area, with this companion, it all just seems too good to be true.  So here's a little glimpse into a few of those beautiful missionary moments I had this week. 

Slipping through the mud: On Tuesday, we had appointments set up for every single hour of the day, which is a dream come true for me. It makes nightly planning sooo much easier.  And I don't know what happened that day, but nearly every single one of our appointments fell through, and we spent a day walking from one appointment to another and clapping our hands, only to find blank, quiet houses.  We seriously walked more than I've ever walked in one day, and at 8:00 at night, we were absolutely exhausted as we made our way to our last appointment, hoping with all our might that they would be there so we could sit down.  We were in the area that has dirt roads, this street didn't have street lights, and it had rained the night before.  It was pitch dark, and we somehow managed to get ourselves into mud up to our calves, and I lost one of my shoes to the suction of the thick mud.  We just laughed and laughed, and in that moment when I was so tired and filthy and could have been so distraught, I was just overcome with the joy of being a missionary where I get to have these kind of funny little experiences.  Plus in our day of a lot of walking we talked to alot of wonderful people in the street who I have high hopes for.  

Riding in a train full of missionaries:  On Wednesday, we had a special conference with all the missionaries in the central offices to listen to Elder Cook! And one of my favorite moments (besides listening to an apostle of course) came as we traveled to Ramos Mejia. We went in train, and as Hermana Carrillo and I boarded, we spotted black name tags and clean cut heads in the other train cars.  We went to be with the Elders, and at every stop, more missionaries would get on the train, and people would look at us kind of weird.  I don't know why, but it just filled me with joy to be with so many missionaries, riding along in the crowded train. 

Leading a chorus of 400 in our missionary anthem:  Elder Cooks talk was amazing. He taught us about the power of OUR faith to help our investigators progress. I'll talk more about that later.  But then after his talk, we sang "Called to Serve" and President motioned me last minute to direct the hymn. So I hopped up, but had no idea what a spiritual experience it would be!  I looked out at 400 something missionaries, all with bright smiles and singing with all their hearts, and the strains of that familiar song just pierced me to the core.  In Castillano, the chorus ends with something like "God will give us courage, let us fight in the celestial cause," and as I looked out at that army of God's servants singing those words, I KNEW that we are truly engaged in a celestial cause.

Hermana Carrillo's Miracle on the homefront:  I've told you a little about Hermana Carillo's story, but quick recap is: Mom and Dad have been struggling with separations and reuniting and then separating again ever since she was little.  When her mom and she and her brother got baptized, they had just left their dad in Bolivia I think for the third time, and were determined to never go back.  But Hna. Carrillo's missionaries promised her when they were teaching her that if she got baptized, she would be able to have an eternal family. And thirteen-year-old Herman Carrillo thought to herself, "Uhuh, sure. You don't know my family." Her dad came to Argentina a week before she left for her mission, and he was a changed man. Then she got the news in February that her mom and dad had gotten married! Many missionaries have been working with her dad, and in recent weeks, it seems like he's getting really close but struggling to stop smoking and keep other commitments.  

SO. . . Hermana Carrillo lives in the Buenos Aires South mission, and we had this conferece with Elder Cook with the Buenos Aires South mission. Weeks before the conference, we kept saying, "What if you see the missionaries who are teaching your dad?" and that was one of her greatest hopes.  But it turned out that they were super rigid in getting us in and out of the chapel, and when the meeting ended and President excused the South mission, we were sad that we hadn't seen them.  Then randomly, three Elders came running up to the front, whispered something to President, and then came running up to Hna. Carrillo.  "Hermana Carrillo? We're teaching your dad, and he's getting baptized in two weeks!"  Hermana started crying, I teared up a little, and as they talked about his progress and I looked at Hermana Carrillo's face, I saw something that is hard to describe.  The Spirit that filled that little circle was undeniable, and it was an experience I'll never forget. 

And NOW, Hna Carrillo just got the email from her mom saying that the baptismal interview is confirmed and that President called to talk to the dad and tell them that Hna Carrillo is going to be able to go the baptism!  I don't know if I'll be going, but either way I don't care. It's just been the most amazing thing to see the promise to missionaries fulfilled, that as they serve with all their might and strength, not only the people in their areas will be blessed, but those at home as well. :)

Monday, May 27, 2013

Chlotilde Meets Her Match

After a few weeks of chilliness, Buenos Aires decided to give us another little bit of autumn, so we're warm and content sitting in the little internet cafe. :) It's been a wonderful week in Padua, I've learned alot of lessons, and I'm super excited to go into this next week with alot of faith and diligence to apply the things I've learned!  That would be one thing that I'm learning on the mission, is that we're ALWAYS learning. And that we WILL be learning up until the very last day of our lives!  I feel like I understand alot more than I did at the beginning of the mission, and yet I continue to learn something new every day.  If the mission really is a little microcosm of life, then I imagine that even the wisest oldest person on earth is still learning. In some ways it's really humbling because you think to yourself, "Man, HOW long have I been a missionary? Shouldn't I be a perfect missionary by now?"  But of course we all know the answer to that question. :) We'll never reach perfection in this life, and it's exciting to always be improving and growing.  

The week was full of amazing moments.  On Thursday we went to Clotilde's with our district leader Elder Viana and his companion Elder Yoder, and wow was it an experience.  Elder Viana likes to come to our area to meet our investigators, and it's the closest we can get to divisions where we can learn from other missionaries.  He is an incredible leader and missionary and I learn SO much from him and his example of being a bold, fearless agent of repentance.  But to be honest, I was a little nervous about having Elder Viana and Clotilde in the same room, because if Elder Viana is bold and confident, he's met his match in Clotilde.  SUCH a classy, peaceful lady but has that undeniable "history professor" air about her. Like I've mentioned, Clotilde's big hold up is the Apostasy because she just can't find the evidence in history to support such a bold claim, that Christ's church literally was not on the earth for 1800 years.  So I somewhat nervously set up this appointment with Clotilde, asked her if it was okay that we brought our leaders with us to the lesson, and put my trust in Heavenly Father that everything was going to work out okay. 

Not only did it work out, but it was an amazing experience for everyone involved!  At the beginning of the lesson, I sat and watched in horror as Elder Yoder (from the US) and Elder Viana (from Uruguay), both VERY prepared and very knowledgable missionaries sat across from Clotilde and handed her the doctrine of the apostasy with all the authority of James Talmage himself.  Clotilde would make a rebuttle to something they said, and they would open the Bible and teach tell her with just as much confidence that she was wrong. I never knew what it meant to be bold until I watched those two teach, and I thought to myself, "Well, there goes our golden investigator.  We've lost her for sure. There's no way she's letting us back after this!" But as the lesson progressed, I was amazed at what I saw. Instead of getting offended or closing up, Clotilde got really excited about the discussion and began asking questions, expressing doubts, and when we walked out of that kitchen that night, we left Clotilde very pensive and thoughtful and very OPEN. What I had thought was going to be straight up "Bible Bashing" 
was really just bold declarations of truth, and when we declare the truth, the Spirit has a chance to testify.  Those Elders had the Spirit and every word that came out of their mouths was guided by the Spirit, so instead of causing contention, it created peace and everyone was "edified together." Seriously an incredible lesson for me.  

We had a ward temple trip this Saturday, and we got to go with Clotilde and familia Villasenor to have a lesson in the gardens and teach about the temple while the members were inside.  Clotilde told us that she was going to come with a lot of questions for Heavenly Father, and we promised her that if there's one place in the world where she would receive the answers, it's the temple. Then she actually invited a friend to come too!  It was beautiful. She left very thoughtful and said that she feel's the answer is close. All those prayers going up from Highland, Utah are being heard! :)

Saturday was a big holiday here in Argentina, kind of like our 4th of July, so the Hermana's brought little blue and white pins to the temple trip to pin onto everyone's jackets and everyone in Argentina was supposed to eat a traditional May 2th food called locro, a super hearty beef and chicken stew. We didn't manage to fit in the locro, but the 9th of June is another day of independence for them, so I'm told we'll get another chance to eat Locro.  

Sunday was the baptism, and it was so beautiful!  It was amazing to see Fabian's dad go up and bear his testimony, timid and quiet but burning with a freshly renewed testimony.  After years of inactivity, that family has made so many changes and are steadily working towards being sealed together in the temple!  

I love this work and I love you all so much.  Have a beautiful week!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Lessons From Fabian

It has been a wonderful week in Padua, with a few highlights in between that I want to tell you about.  This Sunday is the baptism of little Fabian, and he is soooo excited, it's the cutest thing ever!  We pass by about every other day to teach him more, and he and his little sis Valentina now wait at the window for us to walk up to gate, and a clamor of shouts and squeals sound from inside the house.  The other day we taught the Restoration and watched the movie of the First Vision.  I watch that movie all the time, but there are certain times when it just hits me how amazing and real it is.  This was one of those times, and as the movie ended, there was a tangible spirit in the room.  Even the little 2 year old twins were silent.  I looked at Fabian and asked him, "How do you feel right now?" He paused and looked up the ceiling as he always does before he answers a question, and then said very slowly, "I feel . . . I feel the way I think I'll feel when I go to heaven." It was one of those incredibly beautiful moments that make the mission what it is.  

Monday, May 13, 2013

Good Things Ahead

I gave you a litte update on Andres and Clotilde.  We have a lesson with Andres tomorrow, it's been a while since he was on vacation.  But I'm excited to put into practice all these things I've learned and have been sharing with you about being bold and letting people know what's up.  We'll see how it goes!  I didn't let you know yesterday about a little boy that we just started teaching whose parents are members and are just starting to come back to church after years of inactivity.  They are the most adorable little Peruana famliy, and I'm so excited to teach little kids again!  Time to pull out the games and plan of salvation map again!  Actually, I just recently used the plan of salvation map with Andres and Gabi after telling them that they were getting way too deep and way too off track and needed to learn the basics that our little four year olds learn in primary.  I told them to stop talking, look at the pictures, and pay attention to their feelings. And for the first time since teaching them, they sat and really listened as we talked, and the spirit rushed into the room. Amazing how everything comes into focus when we go back to the basics. The beautiful, simple basics.
Anways, I'm happy and loving life here in Padua.  President just implemented some new goals for the mission and for each companionship to help us work better with the members, and I have gained a huge testimony of following his counsel, yet again!  In zone conference, he gave us a training on how to work with the members, and I have to admit, I sat back and was a little bit like, "yeah, yeah we've been told this a million times." But then when I went out and actually DID what President counseled us, following his directions exactly in our visits with the members, I saw miracles happen!  The members are AMAZING here in Padua, and it's as though they caught this new vision and excitement for missionary work this week. They have been giving us references, and I'm so excited to start teaching the friends and family of the the members.

The brand new little apartment next to ours is still empty and sad, waiting for the promised hermanas. It is going to be absolute CRAZINESS when all of these little visa waiters get here.  Like I told you, the number of new missionaries will outweigh the experienced missionaries.  But it's going to be such an exciting time for the mission and sooo much fun! We're also really excited because Elder Cook is coming to speak to all of the missionaries in Buenos Aires.  Good things ahead, in Buenos Aires and in Highland, Utah.  :)

Monday, May 6, 2013

Amazing Week in Padua

It's a beautiful afternoon here in Padua.  One of those days where everything just goes right, when you have a spring in your step, when everyone on the busy streets is happily licking away at ice cream cones, when the Spanish just rolls off your tongue without any stuttering. :) Those are always great days.  

We just got done with a zone activity where we watched 17 Miracles and ate empandas. Wow, that movie sure is a tear jerker, I'm still trying to get back into the real world as I write this email.  So amazing what those faithful saints did just to follow the will of the Lord, and it's so incredibly inspiring to see how the Lord blessed them for their faith.  It made sassy Argentines and sore backs seem like nothin.  I know that with faith in the Lord we can do all things and see miraculous things in our lives and in the lives of others!

Speaking of miraculous things, we have had a pretty amazing week.  It's been tough in some ways seeing as it's Hermana Johnson's last week in the mission, which is a crazy roller coaster emotional experience for any missionary.  Lots of goodbyes, lots of tears, lots walks down the memory lanes of the mission with her. :)  She is such an amazing companion and I'm gonna miss her a ton.  We've had some tough experiences but even more wonderful experiences in our one little transfer together, and when two people experience such highs and such lows together, they're bound to be friends for life. :)  It's the beautiful thing about companions.         

This week, we had a miracle with a wonderful lady named Irma. We stopped by the house of a lady who was a street contact, and she told us that she didn't have time to listen to us and that she wasn't really interested, but that her mom, Irma, was going through a really hard time because the grandma (Irma's mom) had just passed away, and the daughter thought that it would be really good if we could go visit her.  She gave us Irma's address and we went on our way.  As we turned the corner, a little old lady walked past us and we said hi to her like we do to everyone.  She slowed down and looked at us, we slowed down and looked at her, and it was one of those freaky moments where our intuition (aka the Holy Ghost) knows better than we do.  "Excuse me," said Hna. Johnson. "Is your name Irma?"  Talk about creepy! Haha jk, it was actually a really cool experience, and as we explained who we were, Irma began to tell us her experience, and she broke down and cried right there on the street corner.  We set up an appointment to go talk with her a few days later.  When we went, we taught about repentance and the gift of Jesus Christ's Atonement (Irma's anguish over her mom isn't that she won't see her again.  It's that she believes she didn't care for her the way she should have while she was in her last years, and she has feelings of overwhelming guilt.) It was so wonderful to be able to testify to her about the peace and relief from guilt that the Atonement of Christ brings to our hearts.  Irma came to church on Sunday, and is now preparing for baptism in May!

The other Padua folk are still doing great.  Well, Gabriel isn't progressing very much, but we are still teaching Andres in all his intellectual confusing-ness, Clotilde with her slow but steady race towards the finish line, and Matias has been crazy with basketball tournaments, so we haven't been able to teach him this week.  

Hna. Johnson and I have talked about how this transfer has been a little bit of the refiners fire for us, mostly because we feel that we are constantly doing our best to learn and improve, contstantly trying to trust in the Lord and do this work with all our hearts, and helping our investigators progress towards baptism is proving to be a real challenge!  But I know He has great things in store for these people and for me, and I have learned some lessons this transfer that have really changed me.  I would say the greatest lesson has been that of humility. :) 

This week I have also learned alot about the power that Jesus Christ has to turn our weaknesses into strengths.  One of my greatest weaknesses on the mission I would say has been a lack of boldness in my teaching.  As we help these wonderful people begin the process of repentance, we are expected to be devastated when they don't complete with commitments and call them to repentance.  But too often I sit down at the table, ask the question, "So were you able to read in the Book of Mormon?" receive a negative, and tend to say something like, "It's okay, buddy! Just try harder next time!" Okay it's not quite like that, but I'm definitely trying to become a bolder, more loving teacher, who corrects my investigators and calls them to action because I love them. 

As I've worked on it this week, I've seen that investigators react in the opposite way that I feared they would react.  Instead of getting mad and telling us to never come back, they are eager to do better and do these small simple things that are going go bring them so much happiness.  

Mom asked about a typical P Day, so here it is. :)  Wake up, clean the apartment, make our usual banana pancake breakfast while the other showers, do our usual morning studies, read letters and open packages!, head out into the busy morning (wearing our proselyting clothes and name tags just like any other day), typically go to the cyber to email, go to the little market to buy milk and flour and jam (the new staples of my pancake diet), go to different little shops to get things done (the watch shop to fix my watch, the meat shop to buy milanesa to make for lunch, the fruit and veggie shop, the office supplies shop). I think I told you in one of my very first emails that my favorite thing about Argentina is all it's little shops! Then we usually head back home, I do more cleaning :), we write letters and so on.  Not terribly exciting to be honest!