Monday, June 25, 2012

Hola de Hermana, 25/6/12

Hola mi familia asombrosa!!!  :)

I'm so happy!  We miss Hermana G and are now just a duo.  I love love love Hermana S.  She is amazing.  She has so many qualities that remind me of you, especially Drue and Huck, that I just love.  She finds joy in little things, and with her humor finds the light in whatever obstaculos pop up.  And she is so quick to laugh.  I'm so grateful for our time together!  

WE HIT 9 MONTHS this last Thursday!!!  I can't believe it!!!  Time goes so fast it really is like a dream, and we're trying to work as hard as we can.  I'm going to be home before we know it.  Not that I don't love you, but I can't fathom leaving.  There's too much to do!  And I'm so happy to hear that others are preparing to serve missions!  Please give Bree a HUGE hug from me!!!  We need her!  And God's children need her!

Jose's family is crawling progressively...  But we learned their son is friends with another almost-deacon in the ward, and thrilled to work with that connection.  The other mother invited their family to church and while they said they'd come, they didn't show up and we'll find out why tonight...  Please keep praying for them.

We're also teaching the family of Pablo, a 26 yr old convert.  He has two twin brothers, Hilberto and Roberto.  His parents are Aroldo and Celestina.  Hilberto is progressing faster than the others but we're trying to focus with the dad.  Actually, we think the mom already knows it's true and she's just patiently waiting for the rest of her family to get it.  Please pray for them.  They are all amazing.  

Alejandra is 22 yrs old with 3 yr old Alexandra who calls us her tias.  :)  She's come to church twice and would accept the baptismal invite no problem but we still haven't been able to meet with Manuel, her husband.  Please pray we'll be able to meet with him, he'll feel the Spirit, and want to learn with his wife.  

It's amazing what happens when you forget yourself and go to work.  I think about these people all day long.  And we're trying to receive revelation for what they need.  It's absolutely exhausting but we're so grateful for the privilege of being here.  We know we're the Lord's representatives and we have what they need.

This morning we had an amazing companion study.  I was telling Hna S the Restauration explains the What (we have profets and scriptures and church because God loves us), the Plan of Salvation explains the Why (We are God's children and He wants us to return to live with Him and become gods like Him, but we can only do so through His Son Jesus Christ.  This is why we have the Whats, to get back to God), and The Gospel of Jesus Christ explains the How (the process of repentance, and the covenants of baptism and later those in the temple).  And I felt so frustrated because while there are people just READY to accept the Whats, there are people like the Family S’s that are hung up on the details of the Whats because they don't understand the Why.  And I told her I just want to preach like thunder the Why..   And she thought for a minute, and then said, "We should ask them, "Do you love God?"  

Is there a more bold question to ask?  I LOVE it!  We can teach: you are a child of God.  He loves you.  He wants to bless you.  He gives us what you need to receive those blessings.  Now, Do you love God?  Are you willing to make the necessary sacrifices to learn for yourself that this is true?  Are you willing to make the effort, to pay the price, to receive the blessings of exaltation that He wants to give you?

Pure inspiration.  This is why God gives us companionships.  

There is an amazing MTC talk by Elder Holland, when He thunders the story of Jesus asking Peter in John 21, "Lovest thou me?"  three times.  After the death of Christ, Peter had gone back to his fishing nets, and here Christ is pulling out of Peters heart if he really loves him and will do what he needs to do.  Christ is asking Peter if he is willing to pay the price, to leave his fishing nets, to be his apostle and build His kingdom.  

And I've been remembering what Elder Amado told us in Conference.  Pay the Price.  Live each day giving your very all to our Lord and Savior.  Pay the price and make the sacrifices in order to be obedient and receive the blessings God wants to give us.  He gets up at 4 am every day and lives each day the best he can.  He exhorted us, Give up the ungodly.  Give up what we need to do receive the personal revelation God wants to give us.  It was amazing.  

And this morning: "Hermana, do you love me?  Do you really love me?  Are you willing to pay the price to feed my sheep?"  

I am so grateful.  I know this is a special time when I can give ALL my time to the Lord.  And I testify that if you prayerfully seek to know what sacrifices you need to make, and you do them, you will receive the blessings of heaven you need. 

I testify our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ LIVES!  He conquered Death for us, that we might live and through His Atoning Sacrifice be made clean.  He did this that we might live with our families forever, and be gods with God, as we repent and make and keep the necessary promises under God's power and authority, sacred contracts with Him.  And when we love Him, we are willing to pay the price, be it changing our traditions or sacrificing our lives.  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.  


--Hermana Ivy [-]

Monday, June 18, 2012

Hola de Hermana, 18/6/12

Hola mi familia increible!  :)

If a photo is worth a thousand words, I'll let these photos describe how we celebrated Dia del Padre.  Huck, you told me once you loved the people in Montreal so much you sang karaoke for them.  I love this ward so much I danced like a cowgirl Hawaiian in front of 200 ward members and investigators.  What was fun was how EASY it was!  Not the dance, (Drue, if you fell out of your chair laughing when I told you we were learning, you probably would have had to been taken to a hospital from laughing so hard if you could see how I was so UNgraceful), but it amazing how easy it is do "spontaneous" things when you really love someone.  I love these people here in Calvario.  

I also am appreciating little things like being able to give people hugs.  I wanted so much to give Dad a hug yesterday.  And I can't give hugs to the amazing other father figures here in the mission, and so I asked 12 year old Holly to give Juan a hug for me.  I gave scriptures about fathers to Jose.  And as puny as electronic communication is, Dad, I LOVE YOU!  And to all the other amazing fathers in my life!

After saying "ASOMBROSO!" for 6 months, I finally learned this week that it means "amazing" not "awesome".  Which means I really should probably be saying "buenísimo"...  But it just doesn't have the same ring to it...  

Last night the zone leaders called us and told us Hermana G has transfers tomorrow.  We are so bummed.  We weren't expecting it at all.  I am so grateful for her.  She reminds me a lot of Drue, and her spontaneity helped me open up again.  Like when we were practicing the dances and she picked me up and twirled me around, and I let out my Ivyshriekyelp.  She is also the best example of selfless love, service, and generosity I've yet had for a companion.  I love her.  I'm so grateful I can still be with Hermana S.  One of our favorite lines from this week was when we passed a tienda playing music, and Hna S got a smile on her face, and said, "El mundo...  me gusta!!!!"  I LOVE THEM SO MUCH!  
This Thursday one of the Area Presidency is coming and we're having a mission conference.  I am so excited.  :)

Jose and his family weren't able to come to the activity or church this week.  Please keep praying for them.  We have a visit with them Wed at 5 pm with members.  Please pray their hearts will be open.  We still haven't taught Concepciopn the Restauration, and I feel like she's missing something before we teach it, and we dont know what.  Please pray their hearts and minds will be open so that they can apply the Atonement in their lives.  

I’ve thought often about something our stake president said months ago.  He said that someone once asked him to describe the worthiness of ALL the MOST successful (financially and spiritually) families in the stake.  And as he described them, he realized ALL of them were doing ALL that was required of them: fulfilling their callings, attending church, having family scripture study and family prayer daily, and having family home evening weekly, and fulfilling their visiting and hometeaching responsibilities.  He said that when we do all we can to be obedient and make the Lord's priorities our priorities, we are then entitled to the blessings of heaven and earth.  This is of what Mosiah 2:41 testifies in the Book of Mormon.  This relates to some counsel Pte Bautista gave me, when he reminded me that whenever we feel like we've gotten in a slump or aren't progressing, it's our responsibility to seek inspiration for how we can improve, and then exercise our faith to make the changes and THEN we are entitled to the next highest paygrade.  He said the apostles and profets aren't perfect, but they stand out among men because they are ALWAYS seeking to improve, change, and earn the next paygrade.  

I decided after reading this amazing talk (Opening the Heavens, Elder Yoshihiko Kikuchi Ensign Aug 2009), that I'm going to improve my daily morning preparation and study.  I want to have a sacred grove experience every morning.  And even though I haven't improved yet as perfectly as I've wanted to, I felt the Spirit during my past two mornings and know because I'm trying to improve and do better, Heavenly Father is pleased and wants me to continue to change and improve.  I promise you if you seek to make inspired changes in your mornings in order to receive the Spirit and Revelation, you will receive them.  

I love you all so much!  I testify that Jesus Christ LIVES.  He is our Savior and Redeemer.  And bringing our brothers and sisters to the fullness of His everlasting Gospel is the most important work we can possibly do in the life.  The prophets testify of this.  It is their work too.  And I promise you if you make YOUR efforts to share the Gospel and be a member missionary, YOU will receive the specific blessings that you need in your life right now.  And I can promise you that because you will be doing your part to bless your brothers and sisters with salvation and exaltation.  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


--Hermana Ivy [-]

Monday, June 11, 2012

Hola de Hermana, 11/6/12

Hola mi familia!  

I love you all so much!  We're still doing good, and we're happy.  I just feel tired.  I confess that I have been stressing about writing handwritten letters to you every week.  And if we didn't have time during pday, I was staying up late to write to you.  I'm not going to stay up late anymore, I want to be obedient. 

Last Friday I spent an hour writing apology letters to some members and investigators.  It's amazing how when we're in positions to handle it, we're given loving chastening so that we can learn and grow.  Another blessing from missions is that we learn how to work with other people, and that I've learned that other people think they're right too, and I have to step back and ask, How does God see this?  Another saving grace has been remembering, Don’t ask "What do other people think of me", but "What does God think of me?"  And I’m so grateful for Hna S's counsel.  She taught me that because we are literally representatives of Jesus Christ with His name, we have EXTRA obligations to BE LIKE HIM, which includes loving everyone and forgiving everyone.  

I am continually learning patience.  I had hoped Jose's family would be one where they were baptized in two weeks, but we're still working with them.  Jose's work schedule is really difficult but he told us, "Pronto me voy por la capilla."(I'm close to coming to church.)  But I heard "la capital" not capilla, and thought he said he was going to move to Guate city!  And I told him, Ägh!  Tango dolor in mi corazon!"and Hna S and Hna G said, "Porque?" and I understood what he actually said, and I squealed with excitement because he said he's going to come to church.  :)  It's hilarious how many times I still misunderstand Spanish.  What is funny is that I had more instances this week where people told me that they don't understand me, and I have felt reminded that I have to push myself to dominate this language and not just plateau to get by.  :)  Jose also told us that he's grateful for what we've been doing for his family because they've felt more peace.  I'm so grateful.  Please continue praying for them and that Concepcion will want to learn and feel the Spirit testify of the truth and importance of our message.

I want to tell you about chocofrutos.  People make shishkabobs out of fruit, usually peeled bananas, pineapple, or strawberries, but sometimes you can find papaya or mango, and then stick them in the freezer.  Then when we come buy and want to order one, they stick the shiskkabob in a slowcooker that has melted chocolate, and we get to snack on a chocolatefruitsacle.  :)  They taste SO GOOD, and if you want to do it too, you can use my teenytiny slowcooker I've got in my bedroom.  

I have been reminded this week from issues in families in the ward how it is OF UTMOST IMPORTANCE to do the small and simple things God asks us to do, like reading in the scriptures and praying as families EVERY DAY.  Those small and simple tasks strengthen and protect us, and allow us to receive the divine help we need.  And families need to do these tasks together to protect them from the attacks of the Adversary.  Please Please Please don't ever get complacent or comfortable, and strive to better your obedience.  And please make sure you have family home evening.  I just had the thought its like a teeny tiney General Conference especially for our family because you can focus on whatever our family needs most.  

The small and simple things work wonders.  We've been working with a family from Ecuador, and last weekend one of the sons who had had really long hair came to church with a nice short almost buzz cut (?).  I was so excited for him!  He made his own decision about something we have NEVER talked about, and I know it was because he has been doing the small and simple things and has been receiving personal revelation.  

I testify the Gospel of Jesus Christ changes lives.  When we learn and act on His teachings, the Savior is able to change our hearts and illuminate our minds.  but we have to do our part by seeking to learn and then acting on what we learn.  

I love you all so much!  

--Hermana Ivy [-]

Monday, June 4, 2012

Hola de Hermana, 4/6/12

Hola mi familia increible!!!

ESTOY MUY FELIZ!!!  Last week I told Pte Bautista that if the Lord is willing, I want to stay in Calvario, and this week, HE TOLD ME I DON'T HAVE CHANGES THIS TIME!!!  Oh, HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY!  :)  :)  :)  That will make an official 9 months here!!!  

HAPPY FIRST WEEK OF SUMMER DRUE AND HANNAH! And for Mom too!  No homework!!!  
FELIZ VIDA MI PAPA!  Tenemos bendiciones en un Monton!

I got your packet of letters last week!  LOVE IT!  Hannah, your poetry is A M A Z I N G.  YOU are amazing!  Drue, I LOVE LOVE LOVE YOUR POKE!!!  

The first foto is Wen, our awesome friend with the amazing members who actually did all the work.  The second foto is our trio with Hma N before she was changed to another area (weren't told why) and the last foto includes our new tria with Hma G (from Honduras).  The third foto, Hna S is an AMAZING braider and has been braiding my hair like the people do here, with ribbons!!!  And I wear them with the two skirts I bought that are of indigenous material.  Oh, I LOVE it.  the first time I wore them into the store of a family of less actives we visit consistently, the two girls actually cracked up.  But people in the steets have been more receptive and smile more, and I smile more too!  It's easy to smile when you have ribbon in your hair.  :)  And when I sit on the tiny chair in front of Hna S when she does my hair, I remember Mom's love.  I'm going to learn how to braid so I can do my girl's hair too.  :)  
Mom, THANK YOU for writing to those families!  I am POSITIVE that you're emails are helping and will continue to touch their lives.  And I'm so grateful because these people are precious to me, and I know you're helping us establish relations with them that will last an eternity, and you're adding your additional witness that you know our Savior lives, and how families are blessed when they embrace the fullness of the Gospel TOGETHER.

I am THRILLED.   We taught a lesson to Jose and his family with Juan and Milton (pres of quorum de elderes), and after, Jose and his ENTIRE FAMILY came to the class Hna S was teaching of Hawaiian dance!!!  And members forgot themselves and their fears and did their best to befriend them, and the family left with smiles!!!  And this same lesson, another one of our investigators Alejandra ACTUALLY BROUGHT ONE OF HER FRIENDS.  Oh we are HAPPY.  My faith in weekly activities (with purposes) has been restored, and we're going to have our first English class this Saturday in the capilla at 5 pm.  :)

Also, I've been reminded from other examples how crucially important it is to ALWAYS take EVERY precaution possible to protect ourselves from giving into temptation.  In the mission we are with companions for a reason, to support and protect each other.  I love you as my family, and please continue to do all you can to support and protect each other, and FLEE from any potentially dangerous situation.  Flee also from temptors.  Solitude can be manipulated by the Adversary.  Please remember we are preparing for eternal life as a FAMILY.   Loved this reminder from Hna S, "Baptism saves us. Eternal marriage exalts us."   

I've been studying an AMAZING talk that a member gave me.  It's "El Misionero Desafiante y Testificador" by Pres Alvin R Dyer, given in Paris, France 9 abril, 1961 in a conference for Las Misiones Frances, Frances Este, Holandes.  Edited agosto 1998 Pres Croft.  It is AMAZING!  The basic idea is that the great missionaries have always testified and challenged people for baptism the mas pronto posible.  If you could please ask around or search for this talk, I REALLY want to read it in English.  

I love you all so much!!!  Thank you for your prayers!  We're continuing to focus on talking with men to find families, and I'm praying we'll be able to bring them together to baptism.  I testify Jesus Christ our Savior LIVES.  He overcame death for US.  He suffered for US so that we don't have to!   He knows and loves us!  We must choose to believe, love, and serve Him!  And we are here preparing for His glorious return.  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Love you all TONS!!!  

--Hermana Ivy [-]

PS Funny, a member called us "las Chicas Poderosas" a week or so ago.  When I found out who they are I doubled over laughing.  :)  LOVE it.  :)