Thursday, September 19, 2013

Boat Or Donkey?

Comments in red by mom

Monday, September 16, 2013

Not sure if you received an email from President saying we would be writing tomorrow, but nobody told us P-Day had been changed, so we got permission to write today... otherwise, we would’ve had to wait until Thursday and I told him my dear mother might fall over and die.                    (I appreciate her looking out for her mother)
Not sure if we will be able to communicate in la isla.  We heard from one elder that we have to handwrite our letters, send it on the once-a-month boat, and hope for the best.  But we hear a lot of things so who knows. (I am still praying for internet on the island but I think that is pretty far-fetched at this point.)

Turns out there was a bit of drama with the sisters over the whole island situation.  Not entirely sure what went down, but I guess people were praying, even fasting to get sent there.  Some felt like they had received spiritual assurances that they would be "the chosen ones."  The only ones who KNEW they didn`t even have a chance so didn`t ever think about it are the ones who are going.  I guess some of the sisters were really mad.  Not really sure how you can be angry over the Lord`s decision of where you will serve, but I guess that`s their problem.

Today we had a Zone Training where we learned about how to better maintain our recent converts.  Guess how many of Chile`s many, many church members are active.  Guess.


Yep.  That`s all. Ten Stinking Percent.  Not for long.  All we need is one extra zero on the end.  That`s all.

My companion and I are doing very well.  We understand the weight of our new calling and are doing EVERYTHING within our power to strengthen our testimonies, relationship, teaching abilities, etc.  We understand that this is not going to be some tropical paradise with pina coladas as all of the other missionaries and members seem to believe.  We set very specific goals to strengthen ourselves in every way possible before our departure date which we received today: October 1st.  We are allowed to bring one bag with everything (books, clothes, everything) that weighs NO MORE than 10 kilos.  Not sure what the math is on that, but it`s basically a backpack. (I knew she wouldn’t be able to bring much after watching several tiny, 6 person planes land on the island….thanks to youtube.)  President stopped by the zone training this morning before everyone else arrived (by chance my companion and I arrived early... or really exactly on time)  and he explained  a little bit more about everything regarding the island.  On our list of things to bring, the only thing that says IMPORTANT is a Patriarchal Blessing... which is of course the only thing I don`t have. (I mailed it to her about two months ago but apparently it still hasn’t arrived) The mail strike is officially over, but things are coming in very slowly.  Could you scan it to me this week please?  Anyway, the tickets are bought for our tiny little plane ride for Oct. 1st, but it depends on the weather.  They will tell us the day of if we will actually be going or not.  If not, we will anxiously wait each day after hoping that the weather clears up. (The airstrip is very small with mountains surrounding it so the weather has to be absolutely clear or they will not be able to land)  When we arrive, we have two options to get to the city: donkey or boat.  We opted for the boat, but if it doesn`t arrive we will go by donkey.  BY DONKEY. (The airstrip is on the south side of the island and the town is on the north side with mountains in between.  The boat ride is two hours.  I can’t imagine how long it would take to arrive by donkey.  Oh, how I would love to witness that experience!! He says that certain rules are a little more lax on the island, but that all rules apply unless we call to change them.  We explained to him that we are not going to the island to relax and that he doesn`t need to worry about that.

When I arrived in Quilicura this week, I arrived to a companion rather... disanimated.  She has been here for about 9 months and feels as though she has talked with every person, knocked every door, etc.  We did not have a single appointment lined up.  Welpt.  I (we...?) changed that REAL fast.  We now have tons of appointments and excellent investigators with real interest.  I think it was good for her to see that it doesn`t matter if you`re tired, other people are looking for truth and we are the ones who have it... sooooo we`ve gotta give it to them!  She did have one solid investigator, Veronica who had a baptism lined up for the 29th of September.  We taught her Saturday and she had some serious doubts.  Not about the Church or anything, but rather that she wanted to push back her baptismal date two more weeks so she wouldn`t be tired and she would be more prepared.  In this lesson we were also teaching with two recent converts present.  I looked around expecting someone to answer (including my senior companion) and everybody just looked... tired.  I don`t even know.  So I just opened my mouth and began to speak and beautiful words came out and the Spirit testified to her what she needed to do.  We told her to pray and ask specifically what date the Lord wanted her to be baptized. The next day at church she came up to us and said, "Just so you know, I`m going to be baptized the 29th."  I may or may not have cried.

Lots of long stories short. I learned a lot this week about how being tired... is not ok.  It`s just not.  We can be tired in the Celestial Kingdom.  Our time here on earth (and even more so in the mission) is just way to short to get tired.  If you think you`ve knocked the same door a thousand times, knock it again.  But for Heaven`s sakes do it with the Spirit.  What good does it do if you do it tiredly?  It was also a good lesson to prepare us for the islands.  We learned today that there is an attendance in church of 12, 4 of whom are missionaries, but that the elders recently found one investigator that they have been teaching and his family.  One is good.  659 is better. 

I received a letter from Grandma today!!  A delicious recipe!  Woohoo!  Thanks so much!  Not sure if there is other mail or not, but if there is, they say it`s trickling in a little bit at a time.

Lots of love,
Sister Thomas

P.S. we now only have one hour to correspond with family and friends instead of an hour and a half.  That does not mean write less.  If I have to I`ll spend the money necessary to print. (As I previously mentioned, if you email Mara, please remember to keep it somewhat brief.  Highlights are best.  It looks like her already short amount of time on the computer just got shorter and we want her to use most of her computer time writing.  We also realize how important it is for her to receive mail so please don’t stop writing her.  Just remember short and sweet!!)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Super Exciting News!!!

We received a letter from Mara this morning which was a surprise because she usually doesn't write until after 12:00 p.m. On the subject line it said, "MOMOMOMOMOMOMOM- READ RIGHT NOW!!"  Of course, you can imagine how my heart skipped a beat when I read that.  This is what followed.

Doing things different today.  I have serious news so I´m going to share and ask that you send me all the info you can find in the next hour and a half.    President Essig called us Saturday night... which never happens unless it´s something really important as we learned the last time I had a change.  You will never guess where I am going.  For the next three weeks I am going back to my first ward - Lo Zanartu in Quilicura.   Then me, and my new Mexican companion Sister Antunez, will be the very first sister missionaries of all time to preach the gospel in the Juan Fernandez islands.
I AM GOING TO LAS ISLAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Chris and I  got on the internet and frantically searched for all the information we could about the island of Robinson Crusoe where we assume she will be serving since the other Juan Fernandez islands look like they are uninhabited.  After sending her all we could find about the island plus some amazing pictures, I included some questions of my own.  I ALWAYS have questions.  Most of them she couldn't answer but I did find out a few things.

I do not know much. This is what I know.  There have always been elders out on the island. The church has something like 16 members and 10 active.  But never fear, they will all be active when I convert them.  The elders say that the work is impossible and that you basically just do service all day.  And I say pish-posh.   That´s going to have to change.

In my reading about the island, I discovered that they had a tsunami there in February of 2010 that seems to have destroyed much of the main town of San Juan Bautista. Not really something that a mother wants to read about so I am trying to not go there in my head.  They seem to still be rebuilding from this disaster which is fine because Mara has always loved to get down and dirty and help pick up the pieces from a good disaster. We sent her some pictures of the island that look absolutely beautiful- at least the landscape does.  Very mountainous.  The pictures of the town look incredibly poor and humble.  We are super excited for her.  Apparently, this is quite an honor as sisters have never been allowed to serve on the islands.  She and her companion will be the first sister missionaries to ever serve out on the island.  The mission president announced a few months ago that in September, he would start sending sisters out to the islands.  Since then, Mara  said that the chatter among the hermanas has been high and that everyone wants to go. After a few exchanges back and forth with island information, this is the letter that followed. 

Ok- now I finished reading everything so I´ll write my real letter.
I´m still in utter and compelte shock.  I cannot for the life of me understand why or how the Lord decided to choose me to take on this task.  I feel so humbled, in a way that I have never felt before.  How can I, the nuevita, that only has three months in the mission and makes  mistakes every single day, be chosen to serve in this calling?  It´s almost unbelievable.  There are so many other deserving sisters that wanted this opportunity with all of their hearts.  They prayed for it, fasted for it even, and I, the only one who KNEW it was an impossible option for me, was called to serve there.  I´m just.... speechless.
I am so filled with gratitude.  A year ago, the thought to go on a mission had never even crossed my mind.  Three months ago, I thought that my mission had ended in the MTC and that I had failed.  And now...
Wow.  I´m just honored.  That´s all.  Truly honored.
I´m also a little bit devastated to be leaving my beloved Renquita.  I am just so in love with Renca, with our little branch that sometimes has 70 people in attendance and sometimes 25.  I am in love with Renca hill that says RENCA LA LLEVA as if it were Hollywood.  I am in love with Hornitos de Renca, the panaderia (bakery) that we visit WAY too much.  But mostly, I am just in love with all of the people.  I should be getting a  ton of facebook requests right about now (She has received many FB requests from all her friends in Renca).  Wow- I am just in love with them.  Sister Mora and I have worked so darn hard, and it literally hurts to leave it all behind, but I know that I am leaving it in the hands of the most capable missionary - Sister Mora.  She will be training another gringita like me who has six weeks in the mission.  Hermana Antunez, my new companion, has been in Lo Zanartu for nine months and will serve as my senior companion for the entire time that we are together.  I met here when I was there, she seems like a really great girl.  I am excited to go back and see the families in Lo Zanartu again.  I was only there for one week so I really didn´t get to know them.
Sister Mora and I have been together for 8 weeks.  And we have been through a lot together.  A whole lot.  I am going to miss her SO SO SO SO MUCH.  Like I can´t even explain how much.  She is such an amazing person and missionary.  When I come home, I am going to do everything in my power to help her and her family achieve their goals and dreams.  She deserves it.   I just love her.  I know that she will take good care of our work here and not let any of it go to waste.
This past week we had a pretty interesting expereince.  September 18th is  Independence Day for the Chileans.    Turns out independence is a pretty huge deal here.  LIKE HUGE.  People take off the entire week of work and just drink and party.  Unfortunately, other parts of September are used to protest and demonstrate and be angry.  Sister mora and I accidentally got caught right in the middle of the whole shabang this week.  We know that on 11 of September, we are not allowed to work after 7, because it´s not safe.  Look it up.  It´s pretty crazy.  Turns out that 40 years ago, there were tortures and murders and an absolute disaster, so every year people decide to do demonstrations again.  Don´t worry, the sisters are always in safe areas, but we just have to go inside in case the police cut the lights to avoid more problems.  Anyway, what we forgot about was that they were going to do some demonstrations downtown on the 5th and 6th... just in time for our very well planned exchanges... oops.  The bus ride that should take 30 minutes took two hours (People were literally peeing in bags), went outside of our mission, and dropped us right in the middle of a war zone.  There were police with shields and masks and armed vehicles and crazy people.  And every one was looking at us and wanted to be near us and said "Hey look at those rich kids" (why think we´re rich is beyond me...).  But anyway, we took off running without a clue of where we were going, searching for any metro.  Yep.... turns out there weren't any.  (Oh- P.S. missionaries, under no circumstances are allowed to be near demonstrations or protests.)  So we kept running until we realized that we were very lost and would have to pay for a taxi (those things are DANG expensive).  But we paid anyway and arrived three hours late for our exchange.
Sister Mora left me with another gringita who doesn´t speak or understand very well and is also tall and blonde.  Talk about attention callers.  We went back to our normal bus stop and the place was trashed with fire in the streets and whatnot.  We waited with about a million other people for a bus, any bus to come, and it never came.  After about a half hour, I felt really strongly that we needed to go try another stop that was far away but could be worth it.  As we started walking who showed up but an angel.  IGNACIO.  You know, Brenna´s best friend?  He was coming home from English classes and helped us find the other stop (I didn´t actually know where it was).  You all know how stressed I get when I don´t know where I am or what´s going on.  Like throw up sick.  He literally saved us.  We were protected by a Chilean  who knew his way around.  Even though he is only 18, we felt safe.

Anyway, the bus  never came and after waiting and waiting we decided we would have to travel in Colectivo.  So we went to a corner and waited and waited for a colectivo that wasn´t full.  They were ALL full with people trying to get the heck out of there.  Without Ignacio I literally would´ve been bawling.  He suddenly remembered that there was a collectivo "station" or corner where we could find more.  We walked... quickly... through the craziness, including through a tear bomb or something of the sort (still not really sure what it was that we passed through) and arrived at a line about a million miles long for the collectivo.  But in the end, we boarded and now I have a cool story to tell.  It was pretty interesting.  Crazy but cool!!
And we were super blessed because we had just barely taken out cash.  Wow.  Seriously, we are so blessed.  God sent us many blessings that day.  And really every day.  I´ve got some crazy weeks up ahead of me, but I am super excited to see what the Lord has in store. 

I am so proud of you and everything you have been doing to advance the work of the Lord.  Much love to all,
Sister Thomas

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

September 2, 2013 Surprises and Joys

Happy Labor day to all!  I hope you are thoroughly enjoying Grand Lake! 

This has been a pretty wonderful week - as all weeks here are.  I officially completed 5 months in the mission.  As Sister Mora recently learned how to say ¨Wha da ayck?¨ (What the heck)  I seriously almost started crying yesterday when I realized how fast the time flies.  How can this be possible?  I HAVE SO MUCH TO DO AND SO LITTLE TIME!  I guess it´s the same in real life too.  Granted, this is real life, isn´t it.
Cool experiences:
1. Last week we were headed toward an appointment when two little girls ran up to us and gave us fresh picked flowers that they had found.  Their mom came up and  we began talking.  She said we could come by some other day.  A few days later we passed by and she let us in.  Turned out that her family had been taught by the missionaries many years ago when she was little, that nobody had been baptized , but that it remained in her memory as the only church in which she felt happy and peaceful and comfortable.  We taught the Restoration.  After, we extended the invitation  to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it. Sister Mora asked Victoria, what she will  do when she receives her answer. She said, "Well, I´d really like to be part of your church.¨ We were like ¨Welpt.  We can help ya there!"
2. For quite some time we have been paying visits to an elderly woman who has a  bedridden husband  and very close to death.  We´ve never really taught her because she always just wants us to pray and sing to him.  We figured it was best to just let the husband die first (I know that sounds terrible... but she had been waiting a long time and was absolutely exhausted from taking care of him 24/7) and then begin to teach her. 

 As we were heading to our lunch appointment on Thursday, we passed the giant Catholic church in our neighborhood.  All of a sudden we heard ¨Chiquillas! Esperen chiquillas!¨ Everybody calls us chiquillas by the way. We turned around to see the daughter of Oreana (the elderly lady) chasing after us.  She told us that her father had passed away the night before and invited us to attend the funeral later that day.  It was sort of an open house funeral.  You walk in, sit down, pay your respects, and walk out.  When we walked in, I was a little shocked to see... not very much respect.  Everybody was in sweats and talking loudly and it just wasn´t very... respectful!  Not wanting to step on anybody´s toes... especially not in a different church, we asked Oreana if we could sing a song.  We sangHasta Ver (God Be With You Till We Meet Again).  It. Was. UNBELIEVABLE.  My companion and I sing hymns in lessons  about a million times a day.  But this time was like nothing I´ve ever experienced.  Absolutely beautiful.  It felt like the room was filled with angels, which of course, it was.  And they were all singing  with us, which of course, they were.  Then she asked if I could say a prayer.  I felt a little uncomfortable at first, because, again, I didn´t want to step on anybody´s toes, but wow. The words that came out of my mouth were most definitely not my own.  It was honestly all just so beautiful.  When we left, my companion and I were so filled with warmth we were literally sweating.  It was a freezing cold day and everyone kept telling us to put on our jackets and we were like umm... no thanks we´re burning hot.
3.  We are teaching this one family that has been having problems with fulfilling their commitments with the exception of their youngest son Darsiel.  Jessica is officially destined to marry Darsiel.  He is 14 and the neatest darn kid I´ve ever met.  Even though his family doesn´t read or pray or go to church, he does it all.  Yesterday at church I asked him how he was and he said that the night before they had had a HUGE party - 60 or 70 people- and that EVERYBODY had been drunk.  He said he refuses to ever participate in such nonsense and that he was so frustrated with his family for being so foolish.

 We love him.
  And Happy Anniversary mom and dad!  I hope it was the best one ever!  I´ve been thinking a whole lot about true love this week and how the truest of love is shown to us in the atonement of Jesus Christ.  Charity is the pure love of Christ, but such charity requires action, just as does faith.  If we truly love someone or something we are willing to DO anything for him/her/it.  Love is more of an action than a feeling.  Or perhaps a feeling upon which we act. 

As a missionary I´m supposed to be an instrument in God´s hands to let others feel the love that He has for them.  I have been working so hard on loving EVERYBODY.  Sometimes it´s difficult when the person you want to love tells you you´re going to burn in hell and that you´re dragging down people with you.  But I´m trying to love them too.

Fernando.  Our golden Peruvian investigator.  Let us down.  Hard.  Yesterday he was unable to go to church because of a work conflict.  Which we were fine with, because there is a WONDERFUL WONDERFUL law here in Chile that does not allow people to work more than 2 Sundays every month so that they can go to church.  So we went to visit him last night to teach him a little and fill him in on what he missed (he loves the classes).  Turns out he had been drinking.  Also turns out he´s not sure if he wants to be baptized.  We were devastated. We began to pray in our hearts and let the Spirit guide us.  In the end we were all tearing up and the Spirit was so strong.  Still not sure if he will be baptized.  But we know that we have done our part.  We showed him love in its truest form and that he can feel more and more of that love through the healing power of the atonement.  Fernando knows that this is the Church of Jesus Christ.  He knows what he needs to do, and he knows that the Lord loves him in a way that is indescribable.  Will he be willing to submit himself humbly to the will of the Lord and leave his past behind?  I guess you´ll find out next week!
I love when dad talks about the disciplinary councils filled with love and peace.  That´s honestly how we felt yesterday.  We truly felt the love of God pouring from our hearts to testify to Fernando.
Sometimes, as missionaries, God allows us to feel a little teensey weensey bit how He feels about His beloved children.  But it´s the same in all callings. Mothers and fathers feel it with their own children.  Wives with their husbands.  Husbands with their wives.  Etc. etc. etc. So thanks mom and dad for being such a wonderful example to your children of true love.  Showing us charity, the pure love of Christ, and how, when a home is built upon the rock of Christ, it will not fail.

Not sure if all of that made sense.  I have a whole bunch of thoughts in my head, but anyway.  I´m just grateful  for your patience with one another and with us and with the world and for teaching us through your example how we can best exemplify Christ and be lights unto the world.

Mara answered some of the  questions I asked her in my letter- 

 1.  What is the weather like? The weather is scorching hot some days and absolutely freezing others.  I guess September is always really windy, and we´re beginning to see that already.
 2.  Are you eating with members often or do you cook for yourselves? We are now eating every day except Monday with members and for free!  Woohoo!  Before, some members made us lunch but charged us because they had to do it every week.  When we do have to cook, we usually make rice with vegetables and eggs or spaghetti or something like that.
3.  What is church like?  Do you teach Gospel Essentials? We usually get to church in time to participate in mad chaos.  We are constantly running around helping investigators and less actives and greeting members.  (If only every missionary throughout the world had the opportunity  to experience the "mad chaos" Mara describes!! Isn't that what every missionary prays for?)The thing here is that if you don´t greet every single person with a kiss, you´re super rude.  So that´s difficult when you´re frantically sprinting around trying to help everybody and everybody insists that you stop and kiss them.  Yesterday I taught Gospel Essentials.  We have it every week.
4.  Do you have pianos in your buildings? Do you ever get to play? There are electric pianos in every building and I have played in every meeting that I have attended since I arrived here.  It´s getting relatively old, but the people just LOVE it... so I keep doing it.  (All those years of piano lessons were worth it just for that statement.) 

August 26, 2013

I´ve got lots of exciting things to talk about this week! 
First, we are very well protected now with a fence higher than all of our neighbors with lots of scary, pointy, hurting things sticking up.  Mom, you say you don´t remember, but a while ago I wrote about how sometimes, if you´re not careful, and you buy your gas from the ice cream truck drivers, those very same gas (ice cream) truck drivers come back to rob you of your gas in the night time and make you have a cold shower in the morning.  It makes pretty good business... I suppose.

Funny story.  Sorta.  Saturday, Hna. Mora and I made a bunch of cutsie invitations to ensure that all of our investigators and less actives and part member families went to church the following day. We passed by Jazmin and Diane and found that they were all working in their disastrous garden.  We dropped everything, stole their pick-like-shovel-junky-tool things and worked for a solid hour.  Skirts, sweaters, lots of heat, partly-messed up backs, and all.  When we finished what was seriously good, hard farm type labor (grandpa and grandma would have been so proud), we were unbelievably sore and our hands were covered in blisters (they are still sore by the way).  Daniela, the mom (did I tell you it turns out she´s actually a less active that was baptized at 13?!  Yeah the other day she was like, "oh yeah.  I was already baptized.”  And we calmly explained that there are certain requirements to be baptized in the same way as Jesus Christ.  And she said, "Yeah, I know.  Somebody named Elder baptized me when I was 13." Our jaws dropped. She asked what she could possibly do to repay us. We said, "We are here for your service andwe only ask that you keep your promise and go with your daughter to church tomorrow.”  The next day we went to church after collecting several investigators and waited for them outside... for a while... then we called and what did they say "ES QUE... we are really tired from working in our garden all day yesterday and so we´ll have to come next time."


En SERIO?  WE worked in the garden, finished it, and walked to church EXTREMELY tired.  But I´m over it.  My hands aren´t.  But my head is.  Haha so darn funny.

Anyway, other investigators.  I can´t remember which ones I have already talked about. 

Our Golden Boy is Fernando.  He´s from Peru and is a, as they say here, "si o si" baptism.  He´s seriously so awesome.  Fun, dynamic, hard-working, and hungry for spiritual enlightenment.
  He went with us yesterday to church and had a GREAT experience.  He loved how kind and loving everyone was and felt like it was a giant family.  Which it is.  Everyone is so kind and loving and awesome with our investigators.

Sebastian:  He is our miracle boy.  One night, a while back, we were coming home and found this young man who looked about Bren´s age and was locked out of his house.  The poor guy couldn´t find his keys for the life of him until we had finished introducing ourselves and presenting him our message and making an appointment.  Then he found them, entered his house, and we never saw him again (he wasn´t home for his appointment).
  Friday night, we were coming home late from a lesson (we enter at ten unless we´re in a lesson, in which case we can enter no later than 10:30) and I recognized him and stopped him in the street.  I didn´t remember who he was, just recognized his face.  He told us that he wanted to learn more and had called us but that we hadn´t answered.  He said his mom doesn´t allow religion in the home so we would have to go somewhere else, but that he was willing to meet us anywhere we wanted.  Sister Mora said, "Well... whatcha doing on Sunday?"  "Want to come to church with us at 9:30 in the morning?"  "Uh, yeah, yeah I think that´d be fine."  "Great we´ll pick you up at 9."  Well, we say stuff like that all the time to people and they´re never home and they think were just being nice because I´m blonde. I know, weird!  But he was HOME!  And ready to go to church when we passed by!  We were dumbstruck.  Seriously couldn´t believe it.  We picked him up and off we went to pick up Fernando.  Turns out Sebastian is 22 and Fernando 26 and they´re practically neighbors so they´re going to be the best investigator friends ever.

Mauricio:  Mauricio and his family are my personal "favorites" even though I really don´t have any favorites.  It´s just that I´m in love with their family.  Mauricio is a less active who married a lovely Catholic and they have three of the cutest kids I´ve ever seen in my life.   There is so much love and happiness in their home.  I could just spend all day there.  The mom is a truly good Catholic woman who wants the best for her kids.  She has a lot of interest in the Church and  likes the values that it teaches.  We took them a little by surprise with our first visit and asked them to be baptized, but they know if this IS the true church after all, they will want to be part of it so that their family can live together forever.  We are going to have a special Family Home Evening with them tonight!

Vilches:  The Vilches family is a family that was once very strong and is now inactive because of some unfortunate things that happened (the husband had an affair with some chica in the branch and her dad told him that if he ever caught him at church again he´d kill him... so that´s unfortunate).  But anyway, we went to visit them a few days ago and as we were about to leave, I had a sudden impression that we needed to have a mini testimony meeting right then and there.  So we did.  And it was UNBELIEVABLY powerful.  Even as a missionary, I haven´t felt the Spirit like that in quite some time.  I mean... tangible.  So cool.  Granted, they didn´t go to church this Sunday, but at least we were able to help them feel the Spirit again.

Looks like I won´t be training!  Thank goodness. I feel so wholly unworthy for something like that.  I´ll probably continue with the normal course: companera menor, companera mayor, entrenadora. 

We went to the doctor today again. Hna. Mora continues with insane back pain.  We went to get her tested for urinary or kidney infections.  It would appear that the logo of the Church has a whole lot of power.  Chilenos love to complain, right?  They especially love to complain about their medical system and how awful it is.  Well, we were in and out with all of the tests and everything complete within 15 minutes.  It was pretty interesting.  We just gave them a document with the logo and wha-la.  Prime service.

Anyway, it´s so wonderful to hear about how great you are all doing.  I can´t tell you how happy it makes me to hear all of your successes and even your difficulties.  I love you all so much!

Sister Thomas

P.S.  I randomly received two dearelders from Sister Wandry and one from Aunt Sandy and handwritten letters from Jessica Richmond and Mary Lamphier from when I was in the MTC.    But I think they must have been found in the office because I think the mail system is still on strike. 

August 19, 2013 Miracles and Surprises

Happy Anniversary mom and dad!  Or maybe it´s next week.  Wow I don´t even know what day it is today, but happy almost anniversary anyway!
 President recently released some norms for the mission that I didn´t know about and so I´ve spent quite a bit of time deleting music today that is appropriate... but not appropriate enough. I´ll have to finish next week.  The good news is that the hermanos came to raise our fence and finally give us some protection!  That´s why I had to cut it short at first.  Woohoo!  No more mean ice cream truck drivers are going to jump OUR fence! 
I titled the letter Surprises because we had many this week.  As you know, we have a lot of people we are teaching.  Such that we expected AT LEAST ten investigators in church yesterday.  Not a single one showed up.  And we even went with a sister to pick them up in her car.   We were pretty sad.  Devastated actually.  We felt like we hadn´t worked as hard as we should have in the week and that, as we feel pretty much every Sunday night, we had failed in our goals.  But when we sent our numbers in last night, turns out we had the second highest, by one point, MED in our zone.   We were shocked.  Sometimes... or better said MOST TIMES... we stress out too much and feel like failures and like we´re never going to attain our goals and become just like Christ and be perfect missionaries and understand the Atonement completely and have all the gifts of the Spirit and all of the attributes of Christ and be truly LIVING, not just studying, Preach My Gospel... and then we remember that it´s ok.  That the grace of the Atonement makes up for all that we´re not - as long as we are doing everything in our power to be the best we can be.
Of course that "be the best we can be" is the really hard part that gives me a whole lot of stress.  I most of the time wonder how I´m going to achieve everything in so short a time.  I mean really.  Eighteen months is like... absolutely nothing.  When we set goals for a change, six weeks is absolutely nothing.  When we set goals for a week, 7 days is absolutely nothing.  When we set goals for a day, 24 hours is absolutely nothing!  Sometimes I get stressed.  But it´s fine. Step by step I´ll climb the highest mountain, right?
At lunch this past week, the family was watching Beauty and the Beast Enchanted Christmas and I´ve had the picture of Brenna singing "As long as there´s Christmas, I truly believe" stuck in my head all week long.

I hope you understand how truly happy I am.  Everyday I wake up and can´t believe I´m here.  People tell me that it´ll wear off, but that´s impossible.  I look at Renca Hill or at the Cordillera or the people I teach and I just can´t believe how blessed I am to be here sharing the gospel and working in the Lord´s vinyard.
I love you all so much!
Sister Thomas