April 14, 2014

Week Seventeen: miracles

The Chilean Sweater
Area: Chillán
Companion: Hermana Hillary Harris 
Companion's Blog: http://hjhmissionabroad.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-power-of-faith.html

Hey, mi querida familia!!

It sounds like things in the States are going so well! This makes me really happy. I want every one of you to be just as happy as can be. Remember the blessings!

Today was super tranquilo. I got my carnet this morning!! Whooooo! This is basically like the completion of my visa. I think it turned out pretty good lookin'. :) We went and had breakfast with all of the Hermanas from the area. (If you want to see pictures, I am pretty sure that you can find them on Hermana Chavez's blog ... I am going to try to get her email so that she can send them to me). It was so fun. We just swapped funny contacting stories and ate like queens. It was so delicious!! When I am with other missionaries, I totally am reminded of just how fun it is to be on a mission. LOVE IT. After we ate, we went shopping. I didn't buy very much today (just because I was remembering "always buy at the bottom of the hill."), [Mom explanation: When we visited the Great Wall in China we were not smart tourists. We bought all our souvenirs at the top of the hill where the prices were higher since they grabbed the tourists right as they exited the Wall. By the time we got to the bottom of the hill we found that the prices were WAY cheaper since so many tourists had already bought their stuff, leaving these vendors with no customers. The lesson ... Always buy at the bottom of the hill.] but we are going to go back next week and buy everything we want! There are so many little Chilean things that I want to buy, but I really want to make these recuerdos memorable. I am going to pick wisely!!

This week was really interesting ... I don't even know how to explain it. We worked really, really hard with the menos activos and the nuevos conversos, but we really struggled with getting members with us. (Without members, these visits do not count for numbers, so our numbers looked really awful for the week). This work was so necessary -- we saw SO MANY miracles and had SO MANY sweet experiences with these people. I just love them so much! This love is something that I cannot adequately describe. I love Chileans. I know that Heavenly Father loves them three thousand times more ... and because he loves them SO MUCH, he also really loves all of us. This has been so awesome to experience. This deep love of the people has helped me more on my mission than anything.

I felt this love when we were teaching this FAMILY of returned missionary menos-activos. This was really heart breaking. It was so interesting to me that these people knew that they needed to be in the church, but they weren't really willing to sacrifice to get there. At one point in the lesson, we were just with the dad and his little grandson. His deepest desire was to see everyone back at the church, but he was kind of afraid to take the first step and go for himself. He told us that he really was going to do EVERYTHING that he could to go back to the church, with or without his family. I looked at his grandson and then back at him and said, "This decision that you are making is not just for you. It is for your grandson ... and for the children of your grandson. This will bless you FOREVER." I felt the spirit so strongly when I said this. Our actions right now are going to affect us forever, through our children and our grandchildren. I am SO glad that I am serving a mission. I am going to let this choice change the lives of my family forever.

I felt this love with a little Abuelita named Regina. She is the CUTEST lady in the whole world. She has a vascular disease (I don't know if this is what it is called in English), so she can't move half of her body, but she has so many cute stories that she tells. I asked her about her husband that  died a couple of years ago and how they met and she said, "He was younger ... and from the city. I was from the caaaaaaampo." After saying this, she just winked and kept talking. Adorable. Anyways, we went to talk to her family this week, but when we passed by, she was alone in her house. We were kind of disppointed because her family is menos activo and we are trying to work really closely and carefully with them so that they can return to church. She invited us to talk for a little bit, so we passed into her house and started to talk. 

This day was incredibly cold and rainy, and the Chilean houses don't have heating. Sometimes, the insides of the houses are COLDER than it is outside! Luckily, it isn't really that bad when you are always moving around. Regina, however, couldn't really move around. She spends her days sitting in the same old chair, bundled up in a Chilean sweater. I noticed while we were talking that she was shivering like crazy. As soon as I noticed this, I pulled out my two dollar pair of gloves from Target and asked her if she would like to have them. The look in her eyes is another thing that I cannot describe. She said, "I don't have any gloves. We don't have any money to buy them!" I crouched down next to her and slowly and carefully put my slightly dirty gloves on her hands. Regina looked at her hands like she was a princess. I looked up into her eyes and just felt the spirit testifying of Heavenly Father's love for little Regina. This was such a precious experience for me!

As a mission, we have new rule that requires us to make 140 contacts every week. This really hasn't been a problem for Hermana Harris and I in the past because we LOVE to talk to everyone. However, ever since this rule has been put into place, it has been super difficult for Hermana Harris and I to talk to everyone. I don't really know why ... Satan was just working really hard to suck the motivation to talk to everyone out of us. Anyways, yesterday, we looked at our number and realized that if we didn't do something, we were going to fall short in our contacts AGAIN -- for the third week in a row. I wasn't about to accept that. We only needed 57 more contacts (some missionaries that I know only make 60 a week haha) ... I didn't know how it was going to happen (because we have less time to work on Sundays), but I was really determined to get this done!

In a prayer before we left the house, I asked Heavenly Father to pave the way so that we could make our contacts for the week and obey the commandment to talk to at least 140 people during the week. We got up and walked out the door and witnessed a literal miracle. Two blocks away from our house, there is a huge soccer stadium. We can always hear the noise from the stadium and our street is always lined with the cars of the soccer fanatics of Chile. We left our house yesterday at the EXACT moment that the game for the day had finished and there were hundreds of people that were flooding our street to go home. WHAT THE? I felt this intense excitement in my heart and we just started to talk to EVERYONE. In an hour, we got most of the contacts that we needed for the day. Heavenly Father answered my prayer with a miracle, and Hermana Harris and I capitalized. Isn't that incredible??

Another incredible story from yesterday: We continued contacting for a little bit after we got done contacting the soccer fans. Near our house, there is a little place filled with drunk people that we always joke about contacting ... but of course, we don't. The drunk people of Chile are pretty harmless, but I still don't feel comfortable contacting them ... you know, just in case. Yesterday, we passed by this place and started talking to a lady who was standing outside of the premises with her little son (after the miracle of the soccer game, we really wanted to show Heavenly Father that we were dedicated to talking to everyone). 

We handed this lady a little pass-along card with a temple on it and Hermana Harris talked a little bit about how our families can be together forever. She then looked over expectantly at me and I hd no idea what to say. I paused for a second and said, "I know that this life isn't the end. We are going to see our families and our friends again!" This lady was stunned. She didn't say anything for a couple of seconds and then she just started to cry. After a quick hug and comforting from her mom, she said, "It's just ... when you said that, I thought of my friend that is dying. She lives a couple of blocks away. Will you visit her?" Holy heck ... will we visit her? Of course! This lady was so interested in learning more, but she lived outside of our sector. We walked away from her and I was in awe. Heavenly Father really knows what he is doing some times!

I have a lot more sweet experiences from the week like these. The more I am learning about Spanish and about being a missionary, the more enjoyable missionary work is. I am starting to become more and more confident in my abilities (well, with Heavenly Father's help, of course) ... and so I am able to help more and more people and see more and more blessings. I love being a missionary! We have one week left in this cambio and we are going to work as hard as we possibly can!

I love you all so, so, so much! When it is snowing and stuff there, just be grateful for central heating for me ... okay? :) Please enjoy life! There are so many miracles if we are just willing to look for them!! :) Have a great semana!


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