Wednesday, August 14, 2013

August 12, 2013

A Week Full of Miracles!!

This week has been absolutely chalk full of miracles.  Miracle after miracle after miracle.  Day after day.  First off, just found out that MARIAPAZ got baptized!!!!!!!!!  WOOHOOOOOOOO!  I am seriously so ecstatic right now.
Second, on Saturday, Massiel and Caroline were baptized!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  WOOHOOOOOO!  The water was absolutely FREEZING. They told us that the calefont had been fixed.  Turned out they were a bit confused. It was not in fact fixed.  It was ice water instead.  Darn. But it was beautiful anyway.  Alejandra, another sister who was baptized about a month ago and who we dearly adore bore her powerful testimony about how her conversion changed everything for her.  It was really lovely.  Truly.  Rodrigo and Jenifer - Caroline´s parents - were both able to attend.  We recently had the talk about marriage with them and I really think they are going to be willing to get married soon.  Thank goodness.  Jenifer needs to get baptized.  And, obvi, so does Rodrigo.  He´s just going to need a little bit more time.
Third, yesterday Massiel, Alejandra, and Caroline were all confirmed and given the Holy Ghost together!!!!
Fourth, we found SIXTEEN new investigators this week.  Two of them are for sure for sure going to get baptized - yes or yes (as they always say here).  They are 14 and 12. Jasmin and Dani.  They both smoke, have tons of piercings, and have rather complicated lives.  They are best friends.  Dani lives across the street from Jazmin but is basically always in Jazmin´s house.  Dani´s parents are hippies. We found out yesterday that Jazmin´s mom is MORMON.  What the surprise! Our jaws literally dropped and we were speechless.  She´s got all kinds of problems as well but she truly wants the best for her troubled child.  She kept it a secret for a good 15 years.  Jazmin didn´t even know. But never fear, she´ll be reactivated in no time.Yesterday, we went to teach them the Law of Chastity, accompanied by the now-member Massiel who also used to smoke and have tons of piercings and whatnot.  They immediately began to take out their piercings right there in front of us and gave them to us as little gifts.  I couldn´t believe the faith of these young women.  They promised to quit smoking.  They also attended the baptisms Saturday and church yesterday.
Also, we always hear that Peruvians are super receptive.   Welpt.  We found a Peruvian family this week. And oh my receptive.  They are awesome. Sister Mora and I are going to convert an army of missionaries.  MariaPaz, Massiel, Jazmin, and Dani all want to serve missions.  We are also working with these Peruvians, one of which is 20 and a bunch of other family with young men and women.  We are pumped.  As always.

Fifth, speaking of church yesterday holy moly. We had SIXTY ONE people in church!!! In our little teeny branch. It was unbelievable.  Lots of our less actives came and shocked the absolute bejeebers out of us.  We were so unbelievably happy we could barely speak.
Sixth, we have had to travel lately almost every single day.  Sister Mora has been having extreme back pains so we´ve been going to the MTC doctor here who is a missionary with his wife from Utah.  The temple and MTC are about an hour and a half away if you are lucky enough to get all of the right busses and metros and whatnot in perfect timing. In a car it´s probably 25 minutes or so.To ride the public transportation, you have to have a BIP. It´s kind of like the lightrail card.  But you have to be always putting money on it. Well, we´re poor, so we put a teeney bit at a time.  Four times this week we had to travel and four times this week we were blessed with a miracle to get us to our destination.One of the times, we had no cash to charge the BIP and we had no place to charge it and we had only one pasaje (only in metro stations... but we have to take a bus to get to a station). As we left the house, we found 2 mil pesos on the ground and the BIP worked for two pasajes!  We were astounded.  Another time, we were running late and again had no BIP. Right in that moment our sweet neighbor pulled out for work and asked if we would let her drive us to our destination.  We were like, uh, yes please?  Another time, we ran out of BIP when we were almost home and had to take one more bus ride.  There was nothing near. No taxis. Nothing. All of a sudden, one of the bus helpers said "Hermana Mora!"  Turns out it was an old investiagtor. He got us on the bus for free and off we went.  And this morning we were running late again and out of nowhere appeared the one bus that could get us all the way to the temple in no time. No time being an hour, but still. It was awesome.
Funny moment: Lots of people here watch tv in english with subtitles, right?  Yeah, well, we were teaching this one really sweet lady - Karen - this week.  Sister Mora was talking about the importance of baptism and what was on?  Friends.  Usually we always ask people to turn off the Tv right when we walk in, but we forgot.  Right as she was explaining how we can be truly clean of everything that has happened in our past Joey said "You hired a MANNY?"  You better beieve I wanted to die. I was laughing so hard inside my poor little head I thought I was going to explode.
I love you all so much!  Keep up the good work! I always look forward to your wonderfully exciting emails. And don´t forget about DearElder.  Let me know if you´ve done it or not so I can know if it works.  So far nothing has come through Dear Elder.
Much LOVE!!!!!!!
Sister Thomas

August 5, 2013

Wow!  How quickly the time passes!  After responding to everyone I only have 22 minutes today!  Sheesh!  But I can´t thank you enough for all of your letters.  How I adore them.  It may be more efficient to write via DearElder?  I´m also  as to whether they  always arrive.  But we should be able to receive them every Wednesday except change day week (every 6 weeks).  But DearElder or not.  Wow. Thank you so much.
We were unable to have our two baptisms this week because the father of Caroline was unable to attend.  And we really want to baptize him.....because he´s awesome, he just doesn´t know it yet.  Somebody please tell me how to spell baptize in english. I cannot remember for the life of me.  Anyway, we know that if he can attend, he´ll fell the Spirit and want it for his family.  So, they will be held this coming Saturday.
Last week, President Essig came out with a new "thing" called BUSCAD, or Search.  As a minimum, we have to get 140 points each week.  Points are earned by: one for every contact, 10 for every contacted referral.  So 140 contacts or 14 contacted referrals, or any combination of the two.  The first week, wow, we had a BUSCAD of about a bajillion.  We were a teensy bit frustrated because we did everything and seriously got NOTHING out of it.  Welpt.  How wrong we were.  This week, we gained FIFTEEN new investigators, almost every one of them thanks to our searching efforts of the previous week. It was miraculous.
Today we went to Lider (WalMart) inside of a mall.  Holy moley.  This mall. It´s probably triple the size of Park Meadows and just as nice if not nicer. I felt at home.  I could´ve stayed there all day.  It had all the US stores and it was clean and it was...awesome.  There was even a food court filled with such things like Taco Bell, KFC, McDonalds, Burger King, and Subway. I was in Heaven.  Granted we ate at some cheepo place, but we watched in awe as the rich folk bought their Kentucky Fried Chicken with French Fries.  Wow.  The money those people must have. 
Haha. Just kidding.  Except for... not really at all. We´re pretty poor around here.  But it´s a good poor. I like it.  The truth is that, "poor" for me is a dream here for many of the missionaries in my mission.  For lots of these kids, it´s the most money they´ve ever seen and will ever see in their entire lives.  Sister Mora´s trainer was an orphan from Peru who worked from the age of 8 to provide for her five younger siblings.  It´s unbelievable sometimes the kind of people I meet and the things I see.  I can´t believe how much I have.  I have EVERYTHING.   But I can hardly go around offering my home and my everything to everyone in Chile.  I wish I could.  Hermana Mora and I have big plans to become billionaires and buy things, you know, like food, for people.
On another note, we also have big plans to get her into BYU.  Anybody interested in doing research on requirements, money necessary, etc. for foreigners?  We would love some information if you can get it. I am sorry I always have such requests. I know you all have zero time. But if you ever get a second, we would love to know.  Here in the mission, she can take an english proficiency test for BYU to get a certificate that says she speaks fluently.  But that´s not enough.  We need to get her there.  And she needs to be my roommate... so.... I´m going to have to make that happen.  Well, she has to really, but we are going to do it!

I am sorry this letter is so short today, but I will let you know next week how everything goes with our 15 nuevos! We are pretty excited to keep up the search and teach at the same time.  This is our goal this week.  To integrate the two so that we constantly have investigators that are actually progressing.
I love you all so so so much!
Sis. T.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

First baptism picture!

July 29, 2013- FIRST BAPTISM!!

Yesterday was the best day of my life. We had 5 investigators at church.  Count them.  FIVE.  Plus several less actives.  PLUSSSSSS.  A BAPTISM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It was absolutely beautiful.   Her name is Alejandra.  She is the grandmother of the golden family we have been teaching.  It has been a little bit tricky because she doesn´t actually live here.  She lives in La Florida, but she is moving here  this coming month to live with her daughter Jenifer who my companion and her companion found first.  Jenifer then shared the gospel with her daughter, Caroline, who will be baptized this coming Sunday.  Then with her mother, who was baptized yesterday.  Also, with her sister, Massiel -17, who is currently trying to quit smoking but should also be able to be baptized this coming Sunday.  Jenifer is not married.  She lives with her "pareja" (I don´t know how to say that.  It´s like a boyfriend that´s a husband without a ring.)  and her daughter Caroline who is 9.  They have plans to get married but want to do it right, with a big party and whatnot, so they´re trying to save up money to make it beautiful.  Well... we´re kinda like... who needs beauty?!  Just get married already!  Haha but the honest truth is that I totally understand because I would want the same... BUT, here´s the awesome part.  She told us about a week ago that she definitely wants to have her next child within the bonds of matrimony. Saturday we went to teach her and it just so happens that... drum roll please... SHE´S PREGNANT!  WOOT WOOT!  We´re going to have a wedding soon!  We have also been teaching her husband little by little.  He pretends to be stubborn, but we know he´ll get baptized too.  Anyway, Alejandra.  Yeah it was a little difficult because she doesn´t live here, but we taught her about 5 lessons in one day this past Wednesday when she was here for a few hours, and she was ready.  Now, I know that sounds crazy.  I know it sounds like we just wanted to have a baptism so we quick taught her everything and dunked her.  But it´s not like that at all.  She was SO PREPARED. I´ve never seen anyone, member or not, more converted to the gospel than her. We did a pre-baptismal pre-interview Wednesday night and it was unbelievable.  The Spirit was SO STRONG.  Like tangible strong.  She knows and understands better than me I think.  The Lord has been preparing her and her family  their whole lives. The other day Jenifer said, "I knew I was missing something in my life, but I never knew what it was until I found it, or rather, until it found me."  They are truly wonderful people.  And I fully expect Alejandra to be stake relief society president next week. Haha. No but really.
Hermana Mora and I have been working on being more... interesting.  We would love any object lesson ideas that you have.  Please feel free to send us ideas from seminary, EFY, etc. including  EFY games for Family Home Evenings and whatever else you may have. We would really appreciate it.
Speaking of he Hma. Mora, she continues to be wonderful.  Today is change day and we are, as we expected, staying together here in Renca.  Yesterday, we had a surprise visit from President and Sister Essig in sacrament meeting. I told Sister Essig how excited I was to stay with Hna Mora for another change and she said, "Yeah... but I can´t promise that you´ll be together after this one."  This also affirmed what we thought.  Our assumptions are that she will finish training me here and then be transferred (hopefully to the islands) and leave me here to direct the sector.  BUT we never know!!  Anyway, her English is progressing at an unbelievable rate.  She also wants to learn how to play the piano and sing. As you can imagine, this is rather difficult when, well, we don´t have a piano.
It´s the craziest thing.  People always tell me that the first two months of the mission are so hard and the worst time of your life and just miserable in general. I just... don´t feel it. I think it´s because I was sent home already.  I already had my miserable two months.  Now it´s my turn to have the best year and a half of my life.  Really though. I mean, every time someone slams a door in my face or condemns me to hell or tells me that I´m ruining the lives of everyone I talk to, I just think, "Welpt! At least I´m not at home!"  Wow. That does not sound how I mean it.  But you know what I mean.  Next week will be two months here in Chile.  Can you believe how fast time flies? I feel like I just got here yesterday.  How can that be?  I think it´s because I allow myself to enjoy every second of every day. It doesn´t matter how rough things get, I just put a smile on my face and decide to be happy. It´s a decision. 
I hope you got the pictures from my companion last week. Her memory card works so we´ve begun putting her card in my camera (my camera is better but her card works).  I´ll send some pictures of the baptism.  We share the branch with elders.  Alejandra wanted Elder Hart to baptize her. He´s the elder in the picture from Kayesville, Utah.  His companion, Elder Osborne, is also from Utah.  Pretty much every gringo missionary is from Utah. People are always shocked that I´m from a different state.
Welpt!  See ya later!
Sister Thomas

July 22 Life in Renca

July 22, 2013

HOLA.  How is everybody doing?  Wow!  SO many letters this week!  Thanks for all the love! I can´t tell you how wonderful it is to receive emails.  I don´t know if you knew this, but we can also get DearElders.  We now have district meetings every Wednesday, so we get mail on Wednesdays.

I´m in love with Renca and I´m in love with my companion.  She has been here for 5ish months and knows the area really well.  Two elders recently left and gave us a giant chunk - where we have now decided to focus our work - so it´s kind of like opening a new sector- just like I did in Los Andes.  It´s hard, but so great.  I thought I was going to be working in the shacks, and we do a little bit, but we mostly work in this new area that literally is just like Highlands Ranch.  Every house or condo looks exactly the same and looks like Firelight but on a teenier scale and without heating….. obvi.   It´s really nice.  We have giant green hills backed by the snow-capped Andes all around us, but we´re not really IN the mountains.  Kind of like Roxborough except you know how in the US, if you live on a hill or an area with a view, you´ve got super expensive property and a nice home and whatnot?  Nope. Here, if you live on a hill it means you live in a cardboard house that reeks of dogs mixed with no place to go to the bathroom.

Hermana Mora is one of the most awesome people I´ve ever met.  Not kidding.  She is downright HILARIOUS.  She´s also a sister training leader, as was Hna. Anderson.  She works hard and loves to learn.  I mean LOVES to learn.  I think maybe it´s because she´s a recent convert.  She just soaks everything in and can´t get enough.  The scriptures, the lessons, the doctrines, all of it.  We´ve decided that she is going to learn English here in the mission.  In fact, we´ve decided she´s going to learn it here with me.  We estimate we´ve got about 8 weeks together in total... granted we never know.  But we are so funny.  I speak and study and plan in my gringo Spanish and she speaks and studies and plans in her very strained broken English.  We must be hilarious to watch on the street.  People are probably like.. uh... why are those two girls speaking arabic?  It´s amazing though how fast she is learning. I mean really.  The gift of tongues is so real.  I see no reason why she won´t be fluent in 7 more weeks.  We have changes next Monday, but we´re 98% sure that we´ll stay together.

Remember how I told you about the cute little gas trucks that are just like ice cream trucks?  Right.  Now think about every little kid movie and how the ice cream truck drivers are the super evil bad guys.  Right.  Turns out that sometimes when those nice gas truck men install your gas they come back in the night time to rob you of it.  Darn.
That´s all I have to say about that. Needless to say, someone is coming to raise our fence and put little stabby points on it.  Yep.

 Story time.  Yesterday we had a lesson with a less active family who should have NEVER EVER been baptized. They clearly have NO IDEA what kind of covenants they made or even what the church is about.  But there was a cousin visiting who we decided to teach while we were there so, we were teaching about the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Right?  As we began to explain that the Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ, similar to the Bible, but based in the Americas, one of the BAPTIZED members of this family said the following:

“Listen.  You know what?  This can´t be true. This can´t be real, because the Americas didn´t exist when Christ was on the earth. The tectonic plates hadn´t formed the Americas yet and there DEFINITELY weren´t people here.”

My companion and I were stunned.   Stunned.  Can you really be saying this right now?? In the calmest possible voice I could manage, I explained that Christ only came 2000 years ago and that the whole Pangaea situation occurred millions of billions of years ago.  And where in the HECK do you think your ancestors lived? Did the American people just all of a sudden exist the day you were born?  We were seriously blown away.  We laughed about it all nght long.

The nonmember cousin who was slightly more intelligent said something along the lines of "wait, I think the Americas were here, but they just weren´t discovered yet."  And I calmishly explained that that was a true fact from, a European standpoint at least.  Anyway.  It was ridiculous. 

Hna. Mora and her old companion fasted a few weeks ago in desperate need of some investigators. (Our numbers aren´t so hot right now).  Anyway, they found an amazing family who had been unbelievably prepared to receive the gospel.  We have been working closely with this family and expect them all to be baptized soon.  The cool part though is that our stake  got a bus to go to the temple Tuesday.  We got permission to go as well with this investigating family to tour the grounds and walk around.  It was an amazing experience.  So powerful.  They even got to enter the lobby where the cute little receptionist explained to them how they can obtain their recommend and one day return to be sealed forever as a family.  So cool.

They found Jenifer first.  They began to teach her and she turned into an absolute missionary.  She taught her daughter, then her mother, then her sister, and now we´ve recently gotten in with the husband as well.  She and her “husband” are not married but want to be.  Her sister smokes but wants to quit.  The mother and daughter are totally ready.  It´s awesome.  The power of fasting is incredible.

Today we went to Plaza Italia downtown and had an activity with the 6 of us sisters that Hna Mora is in charge of.  We had a lovely picnic and enjoyed a little sun.  It was so warm here about a week ago but it recently got very, very cold again.

Foot is doing well!  I ice it every night even though it doesn´t hurt.

Ok everybody!  Until next time! Thanks again for all of the love and for the updates on your lives and the pictures and the testimonies and everything else. 

Hermana Thomas