March 31, 2014

Week Fifteen: It's Raining Dogs ... Just Dogs

This is our awesome Bishop and his family (minus two little kids). He really had such a wonderful influence on the ward and on the beginning of my mission. I am so grateful for the willingness that he has to make people feel important as individuals. We had a sweet little goodbye party for him yesterday, and as I watched the youth just hug him and cry, I really felt of the positive effect he had on others. I love this family!!
Area: Chillán
Companion: Hermana Hillary Harris
Companion's Blog:

Hey, familia!

I am so glad to hear that all is going well for you guys and that you're starting to thaw out from the winter. Unfortunately for us on the other half of the hemisphere, this means that winter is just beginning. It is not super bad ... just really cold in the mornings and the nights, but I get the feeling that I am going to be missing hot, sunny days in a couple of weeks.

It poured for the first time in my mission on Saturday. What a super fun experience! Of course, even though it was raining so hard and we didn't have umbrellas, Hermana Harris and I got up with the attitude that we were going to work hard and be happy about it. I got all bundled up in my rain gear (expensive rainskirt included) and looked in our mirror in shame. Where was my dignity? The rain coat was big and puffy and the rain skirt made me look a little Amish. We walked outside and my shame immediately went away. It was POURING. Throughout the day, Hermana Harris and I would wonder how it could possibly be raining still ... maybe something malfunctioned with the water cycle? Eh, no importa.

Really though, it wasn't important. Although there were absolutely zero people out on the streets (because what sane person goes out and walks on a day like that) we were working and singing and laughing. We laughed at the huge rivers that we had to cross because the streets were totally flooded. We laughed at the poor little dogs that sat shivering in the rain like a scene out of a Sarah McLachlan puppy commercial (In the arrrrrrrrms of the angel ...). We laughed at the billowing capes (ponchos) of the Chilean men on their motor cycles. Even though the situation was really ... wet, we had such a great time. Proselyting in the rain is actually one of the more fun things that I have done on my mission. Luckily for me, the people say that winters in Chillán are the coldest and the wettest. I have plenty more days like this to come!

We had a super sweet experience with a girl named Natalia this week. She is the daughter of Alejandra (the less active lady that I talked about last week), and she is such a sweet heart. She is fifteen years old, and when we first met her, she had just come back from EFY. We always love to go out with her because she has SUCH a strong testimony of the church and she has the sweetest way of sharing it with others. Last week, we brought her to a lesson that we had with Carolina and Carolina (la hija) -- we were teaching a little lesson about the Restoration ... it wasn't going to be crazy difficult. While we were walking there, we asked Natalia if she could share her testimony of Joseph Smith being a prophet. We walked in silence for a little bit and she looked at us in desperation almost and said, "I don't think that I really have one!" My heart just broke for her. It is so hard to be a youth and to have doubts AND to lack support from your parents. Hermana Harris and I tried to teach all three of these sweet ladies, but we weren't really sure how Natalia took to our teaching.

On Sunday, Natalia didn't come to church. We called her after and told her that we really missed her ... but she told us that she didn't come because she just didn't have the motivation that morning. I was so concerned for her. I wanted her to know that we loved her and supported her, but I wasn't really sure how to say that over the phone. On Tuesday afternoon, I felt super strongly that we needed to go and visit her. "How are you feeling spiritually?" It was kind of a blunt question, but she gave us a blunt answer. "Not well," she said. We shared a little message with her about trials and overcoming them and it seemed to help her a little bit. She talked to a member that we had with us about going to the temple and if it was too late to sign up. 

"Actually," said the member, "We are having a meeting tonight about interviews for the youth! You could still come!! That would be awesome!" Natalia was SO happy at the prospect of this, and she looked over at her mother to ask permission. I was so surprised when her mother just said, "No. You're not going." I mean, yeah, her mom is less active, but she NEVER prevented Natalia from doing anything churchy. She said, "I am so sorry, but I can't let you go. You have to have SOME time to do your homework and if you are always going to church things, you are going to slip in your grades. You can't go!" Natalia got redder and redder with embarrassment and walked out of the room crying. Hermana Harris and I were left with Alejandra and she said, "I am so sorry that you had to see that ... I mean, you understand, right? Your parents would have done the same ... right?" I didn't think that it was appropriate to say that ... actually, my parents would have encouraged me to go the church for an interview. They would have let me do pretty much anything if it was going to help me to build my testimony of the gospel. We just sat in silence for a bit and I asked, "Can we go see her?"

Up we went to Natalia's room. It was small, but it was super well kept. There were a ton of beautiful pictures that she had drawn on the wall and little handouts from Young Women's. She had a huge window that looked out on the tin roof city of Chillán. Natalia was on her bed and she was just crying. "I want to go to the temple, but my mom will never understand. She doesn't get why I go to church. What is the point in even trying?" The member that we had with us said, "You have to try to go, Natalia. Even if you can't go, you will know that you did the very best that you could." She saw sense in that, but money is such a problem for their family. 

Her next fear was that her mom would be willing to let her go, but that she wouldn't be able to find the money to take the bus all the way to Santiago and back. My heart ached again. I thought of my money that I had back at the house and I wished that I could give it to her. It's not like I was using it for anything crazy. Mostly, I just use my money to buy packs of cookies for Noches de Hogar. Why couldn't I use my money to help Natalia?  I looked over at Hermana Harris with this idea in my mind. Why couldn't I use my money to help Natalia? Why not? I pulled Hermana Harris out of the room and said, "Hermana, I have money. I am going to give it to the bishopric to pay for Natalia to go to the temple." It wasn't a huge amount -- only 7 mil (like, 14 dollars) -- and I KNEW that it would make the biggest difference in the world to her.

We walked back into the room and I gave Natalia a huge hug. "I KNOW that you are going to go to the temple," I said, "You just need to have faith and pray that your mom will let you. You are going to the temple." We set up an appointment with a member of the bishopric and left her at her house. On Wednesday, I gave the money to said member of the bishopric and said, "Hermano, please keep this a secret. Help Natalia to make it to the temple." Natalia called us later that day and said, "I can't come with you guys on Friday because I AM GOING TO THE TEMPLE!" AHHHHHHHH! I was so excited for her. She was excited, too! She had had the trial of her faith and Heavenly Father helped her to overcome it!

On Sunday, they asked Natalia to give a little testimony about her experience in the temple. With hope and a renewed sense of dedication, she bore testimony of the temple and its importance. She told about how difficult it was to get to the point where she could go to the temple, but she encouraged everyone to do whatever it took to get there. It was SO powerful! I am sure that she didn't know that I helped her to get to the temple, but as she was speaking I felt the spirit so strongly. 

What is the worth of a soul saved? Is it a package of cookies? Is it 7 mil pesos? Is it a walk in a rainy day? I am not sure what the worth of a soul is for me, but I know that for Heavenly Father, the worth of a soul is PRICELESS. He is willing to do WHATEVER it takes to help His children to return to Him. With that in mind, it is so important for me to do whatever it takes in this work. I am willing to do it! I am willing to help Heavenly Father because he has been so willing to help me! There are so many other sweet experiences that I had this week that helped me to realize this. Heavenly Father really does know what is best for His children! I am so grateful to be a part of this work!


Hermana Blau

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