Thursday, March 28, 2013

La Trinidad (March 25, 2013)

Hello Again My Beloved Ones,

Another week gone!  I know it was busy and crazy, but I can barely remember what we did somehow!  So sorry, but this email is going to be another lame one.

Hermana Fajardo, Hermana Holland, and I are slowly learning how to make things work as a trio, and even managed to acquire a third bike on a semi-permanent basis!  Hooray for generous members!

On Friday we had a training for all the Hermanas here in the Talca stake - that´s 11 of us!  Normally for something like that we would travel to Talca, but they decided to hold it in our little chapel in San Javier, so that meant that we didn`t have to travel!  The sisters in Constitución, however, had a two-hour bus trip to make, so rather than leave at some unearthly hour in the morning in order to make it on time, we had a little hermanas sleepover party in our house on Thursday night.  So there were seven hermanas, four mattresses, and only one shower, but we made it work!

The training on Friday was really great.  The assistants taught it and they had called us ahead of time to find out what we wanted to learn about so they could really focus it on our needs.  With so many new hermanas coming, they want to make sure we feel prepared to serve the best we can and to help all the new sisters be great missionaries as well!  We did lots of practices with the assistants and with our zone leaders and shared our experiences and everyone cried a little (because we´re hermanas and that´s what we do!).  The assistants gave our companionship the nickname, "La Trinidad," and they say we are doing awesome as a trio.  I sure hope they`re right!

The weather is starting to cool off a little here, and Hermana Fajardo is really excited because she has never seen fall before in her life!  I am excited because the opportunity to wear sweaters means that my wardrobe will grow just a little bit.  :)

This week in my studies I have been reading a lot from the October General Conference report, and I have really loved reading the talks from the priesthood session, especially Elder Eyring's.  I am so excited for General Conference coming up in April, and I want all of you to get excited too!  We are so blessed to have a living-day prophet and twelve apostles to guide us a help us know how to strengthen our faith and navigate safely through the evils and dangers of this modern world.  I know that President Monson is a prophet of God and that he leads this Church under the direction of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  General Conference is a great opportunity to hear what the Lord has to say to us and I know if you prepare yourselves and listen with an open heart, you will receive answers to your prayers.  And how great is it that we can watch Conference live, or stream it from the internet, or read it in the Ensign or Liahona, and now even download it onto our phones (well, you can do that, I can`t)!  What a magnificent gift we have, to have the words of a prophet of God so easily accessible to us!  I feel incredibly blessed.

This week your commitment is to begin to prepare yourselves for General Conference.  Think of questions you need answered, take your concerns and cares and worries to the Lord in prayer, and trust that His chosen servants will answer them through this magnificent bi-annual event.  And while you`re waiting, review past conference reports because they´re totally awesome and I always feel happy when I read them.

Anyway, that´s all I have to report this week.

Love you all and hope you´re happy and well and that you have a most awesome last week of March!



It's a Gringa! (March 18, 2013)

Hello All,

I know I say this every week, but I literally have like, NO TIME to write this week!

Just a quick update on my new companionship, since that is the biggest news from this week!

We went to training meeting on Tuesday (which was both Hermana Fajardo and I´s 6-month mark in the mission) and were told by the assistants that indeed their intention was for our "hija" to have two "moms", so I am officially a trainer!  We got three new sisters and one elder.  They are all "gringos," but with advanced Spanish skills, which is why we ended up with this emergency cambio - there was some kind of a miscommunication between the mission office and the MTC, because we were expecting them in the cambio on April 8, but they are advanced and only had two weeks in the MTC instead of six.  Anyway, the assistants told us that when President did cambios on the 25th, he didn´t know that these missionaries were coming, but that he felt inspired to do cambios the way he did because we needed to be available to train THESE missionaries specifically.

Our "hija" is named Hermana Holland.  She recently turned 21 and is from Iowa, but has been studying English at BYU the past three years. Her mom is from Bolivia and she has many other relatives from South American countries, but they are all in the States now and she and her family attend a Spanish branch in her hometown.  Despite her Spanish background, she´s having a little bit of a hard time understanding Chileans - but that´s to be expected because Chileans speak their very own version of Spanish!  Anyway, Hermana Holland is awesome.  And she is realted to Elder Holland, but very, very distantly, for those of you who were wondering.  ;)

Because they kept telling us in the MTC that we could expect to be training for the majority of our mission, I have often thought to myself, "When I am a trainer, my trainee and I will do this...."  Bah.  Turns out being a trainer is like super hard.  There´s all these things that Hermana Fajardo and I do like second-nature now as missionaries and as a companionship that our "hija" has no idea about.  To add to the fact that she´s in a foreign country trying to speak a different version of a language she was only fairly familiar with, she only had 12 DAYS in the MTC to learn how to be a missionary.  I know I didn´t particularly love my time in the MTC, but I am confident that 12 days would not have been enough for me to learn anything about being a missionary.  I don´t even think I could find my way around without just following Hermana Frandsen after 12 days in the MTC, honestly!  But Hermana Holland is doing a really great job, despite the short training period.  But there is still a lot to learn when you get to the field, no matter how long you were in the MTC.  I really didn´t realize until Hermana Holland came how very far I had come as a missionary.  I can´t even imagine how hard it was for Hermana Bowns to train me - I was a wreck when I showed up here!

I really have to go now, my time is up!  But I do have to say that being a trainer has made me really grateful for my experience as a missionary.  I have had the opportunity this week to reflect on my experiences and the things that I have learned and the ways that I have grown and changed since I left home six months ago.  And I have never been more grateful for my mission.  It´s still hard every day and I still have SO FAR to go in becoming the missionary and the person that I should be, but I am really just so glad to have this opportunity to grow. I didn´t fully realize that before.

Your commitment this week:  Read Alma 34.  I read it in preparation for teaching one of our investigators and I loved it.  I´m sure you will too!

Lovelovelove you all!


Monday, March 11, 2013

6 Months and a Cambio de Emergencia

That pretty much describes what this week is going to be like.
But first, some highlights from last week!

We had interviews with President Humphrey and in the opening exercises before we started interviews, they told us that with reference to the upcoming changes in our mission boundaries, what will happen is that President Humphrey will do cambios as usual for his final cambio, which begins May 20, and anyone who is put into any sector in the Talca or Curico stakes in this cambio will, at the beginning of July, no longer pertain to the mission Chile Concepciòn, but instead to the mission Chile Rancagua.  So it turns out there IS a possibility of me changing missions - AAAAH!  Of course we really have no idea who will be in Talca and Curico on May 20 and who will not, but I`d say the odds for sisters are pretty close to 50/50.  And the mere thought of having my mission change is just so strange.  I really can`t describe it.  There is a kind of anticipation (and panic) and yet at the same time I know that I have to trust that the Lord sent me here at this time for some reason, whether it be that my mission ends up changing or not.  For all you David Archuleta fans out there, whether I end up switching missions or not, you can find joy in the fact that an area where I served will soon be part of his mission and perhaps at some point he could end up here in San Javier, singing to the same people that I sing to now.  :)
Before interviews, they asked us to study the Christlike attribute about of diligence in Preach My Gospel and to write up our thoughts, favorite scriptures, and goals with respect to diligence.  My favorite scripture that I discovered in this activity is 2 Peter 1:5-10, which says:
When I read this I realized that of all the Christlike attributes that there are to develop - faith, hope, charity and love, virtue, knowledge, patience, humility, diligence, and obedience - we really can`t develop any of the others if we don`t have diligence.  You have to work diligently in order to develop Christlike attributes and to become more like the Savior.  After "giving all diligence" you ADD the others.  I found that very interesting!  And now I really need to work on being more diligent!
Another thing that happened at interviews is that Hermana Humphrey told us that they found out just last week that our mission is getting four new hermanas this week - right in the middle of the cambio!  From what I understand, it looks like we could just randomly be receiving missionaries almost every week for a while!  Anyway, when I heard this I thought it sounded pretty ridiculous, but it`s true!
Hermana Fajardo and I got a call last night from the Assistants, and we are having a "cambio de emergencia."  Tomorrow we are going to Conce to pick up our new, fresh-out-of-the-MTC companion.  That`s right.  ONE.  We`re going to be a trio....  Not sure who will be her trainer, though!  Hermana Fajardo is the senior companion technically since she has one more transfer in the field than I, but we both celebrate our six-month mark in the mission tomorrow (and she celebrates the anniversary of her family getting baptized tomorrow as well!) and though I keep telling her that she is the senior companion and she will be the trainer, (and I am sure that is what President and the Assistants intended) she keeps insisting that I am getting an "hija" too.  I just feel a little bad for this poor girl who will have two "moms," because it`s hard enough trying to learn how to be a missionary when you`ve got more than one person trying to help you do it!  We`re not quite sure yet either where we`ll put her - we luckily have an extra mattress in the house but have yet to receive a bed or storage units for her clothes or anything like that!  My head is still spinning a little.  But I am excited to get all dressed up and go to transfer meeting and give a great big hug to our new arrival!
So this week your commitment is to increase in diligence!  I know you all have personal goals, and whatever they may be, this week I encourage you to increase in your diligence in working to fulfill them.  We have been abundantly blessed by the Lord this week in our efforts to be diligent, and I promise you that if you do the same He will bless you as well.
I love you all and I really do thank you for your love and support.  Though you are all far away and I don`t have the opportunity to communicate directly with many of you, I can feel of your care and concern and love and prayers every day.  It`s like a little force-field I carry around with me that helps me and protects me and lifts me up when I get down.  I am ever so grateful for it!
Have a great week.  Until next Monday!

Bus Trips

Hello Friends,

Would you believe it if I told you that this week wasn´t normal either?  Granted, it was mostly normal, but we did have at least one very strange adventure.

Tuesday morning we got to do a service project for some recent converts.  The elders were supposed to do it, but since Elder Lopez got transferred, they were in Talca at the bus station and so we got asked to do it instead.  We went out to this member´s "terreno," which is like a farm or maybe just a really big garden or something, I don´t really know, and we picked "choclo," which is corn.  I thought it was going to be like normal corn in the green husks that you buy in the store and eat, but it was a different kind of corn, or at least it was intended for something else, because they had left it on the stalks extra long and let it dry out a bit and then we came along and pulled the corn out of the husks right there in the fields and tossed it into a big pile.  I´m not sure what they´re going to do with the corn now, since I don´t have any farming vocabulary in my Spanish, but it was fun.  Someday I will send the pictures!

Then we had a normal week until Thursday, when we got a phone call from the International Police Department in Chillan.  They said that they had decided not to charge me a "multa" for my visa infraction, and that I was given just a warning instead (Hooray!), and that I needed to come to Chillan as soon as possible to pick up my visa papers and my passport.  They said if we absolutely had to we could wait until Monday, but that Friday would be better.  So I called the mission office and they said to go Friday (especially since I would be needing to do a different visa "trámite" in order to get my Chilean identification card here in San Javier on Monday).  We wanted to lose as little working time as possible, so we intended to leave as early as possible.  It´s a 40-minute bus ride to the bus station in Talca, then two more hours to Chillan.  We were hoping to leave San Javier around 7 and get on the bus to Chillan at 8.  This worked out fine, but then when we went to get money out of our accounts from the ATM in the bus station in Talca so that we could buy our tickets to Chillan, our cards weren´t working - neither our mission cards nor those from home.  This was very strange because we knew we had money!  We pooled all our cash resources (the bus station would not take a card) and we were about 300 pesos short (less than $1) for our bus trip to Chillan!  So we walked a couple blocks to a bank to try a different ATM.  Here in Chile on the first day of the month, which this was, everyone goes to the ATM to take all their money out and so sometimes the ATM doesn´t have any money to give you and we thought maybe that is what our problem was.  We had to wait a few minutes while the bank worker mopped the floors and then we tried the ATMs inside the bank.  These did not work either.  We were totally confounded!  So we called our zone leaders and they sent the missionaries who lived closest to where we were in Talca to lend us the money we needed to get on the bus.  Needless to say, that was terribly embarassing, but we really didn´t know what else to do.  So when Elder Favro and his two companions arrived, we told them what had happened and at once Elder Favro explained that in Talca there is one bank which doesn´t accept our cards in its ATMs (they are called "cajeros" here), and those are the only ATMs in the vicinity of the bus station!  So we walked just a couple more blocks to some cajeros from a different bank, and . . . there was no money in them!  Hahaha, the first of the month!  So Elder Favro gave us the money we needed to get on the bus (¡Que vergüenza!), and we left about an hour and a half later than we´d planned.  :P

But we got to Chillan safely and quickly found a bank ATM from a proper bank where we were able to get out the money for our return trip and for any fees I might have to pay as part of my "trámite."  Hallelujah!  Then we walked across the street to the "extranjeria," where there was no line (we had been told we might have to wait up to two hours)!  Hallelujah!  So we went in and explained to the gentlemen in the extranjeria what we needed.  Basically, his job was to print off some kind of an official document which states that I have been relieved of a multa and my probationary period is over, and then with that document we would be able to go to the International Police and pick up my passport.  Well, after several minutes of searching around in a couple different computers, he hadn´t been able to do anything.  I was really worried that I had done something wrong again, but what he told us is that the judge who had approved my visa had input some kind of a code incorrectly into the system, and so he was not able to find my document in order to print it.  Well, that didn´t seem like such a big deal, except that this same judge had left the day before on vacation!  So Hermana Fajardo asks him if someone else can fix it, and he says "No, she is the judge that handled the case.  She is the only person who can resolve this issue."  So Hermana Fajardo says (in a truly curious, good-natured way), "What happens if this judge were to die?  Nobody would ever be able to fix this?"  (Hermana Fajardo also studied business before her mission and she was a little befuddled that the system was so inefficient.)  So anyway, the judge, who is the only person in the whole entire world who can fix this typo so that I can have my visa documents, is on vacation until the 11th and we have to go back to Chillan AGAIN on the 12th!  So crazy!

But after all that, we were still able to make it home with most of the day left to work!

The really cool thing we did this week was we had Regional Conference instead of regular church meetings.  Our little chapel in San Javier (which is technically a "house," but that´s a story for another time) doesn´t have satellite reception so we had to travel to Talca for the conference.  So we went to the chapel at 8:30 in the morning, ate breakfast together as a branch, and the Church had hired a bus for all of us to travel to Talca!  It was so great.  We heard from Elder Corbridge of the 70, Elder Neal L. Anderson, Sister Linda K. Burton, and President Monson.  I understood pretty much all of what was said by Elders Corbridge and Anderson, because they gave their addresses in Spanish.  Sister Burton and President Monson had dubbed translations, which meant that I had a harder time understanding them, but it was still really great.

Elder Corbridge said something (and he said it in Spanish and also in English, so it really caught my attention) that I really loved.  He said, "Who are you?" and "Who are you becoming?"  This really made me think.  I am such a perfectionist and so detail-oriented that I often fail to see the forest for the trees, and my mission has been no different.  I look at all the things I do wrong - all the things I have yet to improve - individually and just get overwhelmed by it all.  I forget to look at the big picture and look at these things that need to be fixed as opportunities to BECOME somebody better.  I am going to try to change my mindset a little to focus on who it is I can become as a result of my goals and attempts to improve, rather than just looking at them as a list of things I´m not good enough at.

And your commitment this week is the same as mine.  Take some time to evaluate who you are BECOMING.  If you realize that who you will become as a result of your current actions is not the person you want to be, I invite you to change those thoughts or actions.  If not, continue onward in your "becoming!"  I know you all can become someone really amazing - because you already are amazing, so it can only get better!  :)

That´s all for now folks.  Love you lots!  Until next week!


Hermana Burgess