March 31, 2011

Hi hi hi! Baptism, cilantro and conference weekend! So EXCITED!

From March 28, 2011

Hey hey!
So this week has BLOWN by, ending with....da da da dum!!! BAPTISM!
Moira Vanessa Noor Winter Rodriguez was baptized. We are baptizing the Winter Family one by one as the Lord works on softening their mother´s heart. Fernanda (the mom) is a wonderful, wonderful, hard-working HILARIOUS woman that just doesn´t want to change. We love that family like they were our own blood. Fernanda, Astrid and now Moira are firm examples that we hope will help their mom see that the gospel is worth living and changing so that they can be an eternal family.
Hi, I am Hermana Gonzalez. What is your name?
I´m going to be teaching ENGLISH CLASSES! I´m basically wicked nervous and am beside myself with where to start but I know that this is something that will help the youth in the area have something to do at least one night a week and we will be inviting them to church, to the branch activites and more. Hna Salas and I felt that this will be a great tool to help friendship the two branches that attend meetings in the same chapel, too. The members in Rio Gallegos don´t know each other. They pass each other in the street without ...saludarse.. translation please? So we are going to have more activites and provide some unity-buliding spirit to flow.
With the transfers last week my district went from being majority Yankees to majority latinos!!! Yay for Hna Salas because last transfer all the Elders would relax and speak english and she wasn´t understanding anything and they would speak too quickly for me to translate. There are 3 chilenos, a colombian, an argentine and 5 yankees though 2 don´t count because they are 3 hours away in Calafate, we never see them but they participate in district meetings via cell phone :)
Pray for me about the english classes and that we can help a lot of youth and find new investigators!
HALLELUJAH!!!! I FOUND CILANTRO. Well, my comp did and you better believe that I made salsa! It was so happy. It was basically the only thing I COULD make because they don´t have jalapeños, tomatillo, nothin´. It´s a rough life being so far from such deliciousness....´
Ön the other hand....I have empanadas.......sooo good.
It is getting really cold and really DARK. When I got here 2 months ago (wow I´ve been here 2 months already???) it was still light at 9 so it was weird to go home and hard to tell what time we had to get heading back. Now it´s dark at 830 ish and the sun doesn´t come out until 8 am either. Bah, I don´t even want to know what real winter will be like. Brrrr!
Ï am so happy Ruth has a job!!! Woot woot!
This week has been another for learning, growing and putting the revelation that we recieve in practice. After studying a lot into the weaknesses that our area and we have, the needs of our area have boiled down to remembering to always ask for references, unifying the branch and involving them more in the missionary work so that we can teach MEN. Hna Salas and I know how immensely important it is to be baptizing men so that we can have the priesthood to bless this branch. There is a lot of work to be done and at the end of the day, I wish we had more hours, more hands, faster legs, anything to be able to visit everyone we want to help progress.
Familia Winter has been a wonderful blessing in our lives. We have watched them progress over the last couple months and though we have yet to provide Fernanda with the right commitment to help her on the path to repentance, we have not given up. Her 3 daughters will now be her closest missionaries and wonderful examples for her. Those girls have been blessed and kept from the world by their Heavenly Father and they participate in every aspect of the gospel that they can, Astrid already working hard on her Personal Progress and Moira, age 11 turning 12 in a month, getting ready to do the same. Such a blessing and we love them!
This past Saturday we had a boost of confidence and an answer to our continuous prayers. All that day, out of 4 lessons, we had 3 with men! Priesthood age, all. It was wonderful for us to have the opportunity to share with them the message of the restored gospel. Every time we teach, every time I testify, I feel the spirit in my heart telling me that this is true. I have not one doubt in my mind that the Book of Mormon is true. I have seen the power it has to change hearts and lives. I don´t need faith because I´ve seen it with my own eyes. There is no denying that it is sent from God and that it holds the saving gospel of Jesus Christ. I am so grateful every day I´m here and I get to share this with my brothers and sisters. I love it with all my heart and it brings hope and joy without end.
Hermana Gonzalez​other transfer and.......​...

From March 21st, 2011

I stay and so does Hna Salas!! AND WE HAD TWO BAPTISMS!!!!!!!!
I feel Waaaaaaaay bad that I never talk about her but I really love her. I can´t imagine why I hadn´t put it all together before but let me tell you a lot about her.
Mostly the reasons I spend waay less time on pdays writing is because Hna Salas because no one writes her. If you feel like you can write her in spanish and animarla. forgot the word. PLEASE DO IT!
She doesn´t speak English but she understands me when I use simple words and speak slowly. She is improving very quickly for not having known really anything before the mission. She pronounces VERY well when reading but doesn´t understand what she´s reading. haha I only know this because when we do language study, she can read 3 or 4 verses until she gives up and looks in the spanish book of mormon to remember what it is the scripture says. She´s fantastic. She´s crazy, she teaches me to dance salsa (WOOP WOOP) and I´m learning to speak Chileno :) they have the weirdest words and it´s not slang-slang but very coloquial. (i can´t remember if that´s how you spell that.....yeesh) haha I´m losing my argentine accent a bit because we speak spanish ALL the time and it´s HER spanish. I have THE WEIRDEST accent now. A mixture of everything in my life, You people, my yankee accent slash argentine slash chilean makes for interesting looks from people we talk to. They either stare at me and speak hesitantly or ask straight out, 'you're not from here are you?' haha
Hna Salas is really incredible. She is an incredibly dedicated missionary with a powerful testimony. She is from Chillán, Chile. Remember the earthquake last year? Yeah, she was there and tells me about it. She felt really anxious and was pretty shaken about what could happen here in Gallegos or to her family in Chile after the earthquake in Japan. She is Carla Salas and was baptized only 6 years ago. At 15 she realized how crazy the catholics are....oops am I allowed to say that? Well, that´s her story is that her parents were making her study for her communion and she realized it didn´t make sense and started to ask a lot of questions. She knew that praying to saints was pretty much baloney and wanted to know the truth. Then she walked by a church she had always walked by but that day, there were a lot of rubios, yankees playing basketball. Later that week, Hermanas visited her and 3 weeks later she was baptized. She and her younger brother are the only members of her family. Pray for her parents. In lessons, I feel an immense love for her as she looks into my eyes and asks me to share my experiences in my family for having lived the gospel and how it has brought us together. When we teach about the priesthood, she shared once that she wished with all her being that her father could preside with that authority in their home, that he could have the power to give her a priesthood blessing.
How blessed I am to have a wonderful faithful family. I pray every morning and every night that Hna Salas, my dear dear friend, and the people that we teach can have the peace and comfort that comes from knowing that our family will be eternal.
Hna Salas helps me be more bold, she helps me make decisions and think quickly or else she makes decisions without me because I always ponder a long time about things. hahaah I will forever be a different person for knowing her. I will always be grateful to the Sister missionaries who ´fought´ for her to make her own decision about her baptism.
Which reminds me....................we have TWO baptisms this past weekend.
The reason I said that reminds me is because we had a little kafuffle with a parent of the wonderful girl who was baptized. Remember Fernanda Rodriguez who was baptized a month and half ago when I got here? Her sister Astrid Winter Rodriguez was baptized saturday along with a phenomenal miracle girl. I LOVE Astrid by the way, she is my version of Ruth down here. She´s very much like Ruth but then a lot like me too. She plays on a basketball team and loves sports but like I said, like Ruth :) Her own person.

The miracle was that last week in church, I was leading the opening song and Elder Lane ushered in a young woman to our meeting. He looked at me until I made eye contact and he pointed meaningfully to the young woman. I understood his look and went to sit with her when the song was over. Romina is from Ushuia and is studying here. She used to meet with hermanas about 3 years ago in Ushuia but stopped listening because her parents were opposed. She had been feeling the desire to return to church for about year and then last week decided to get dressed and come. We met with her and got to know her a bit after the meeting. We have a cita for wednesday. Pres Gulbrandsen came on Tuesday, wouldn´t he like to meet her? So she came, had an interview and Elder Wright (a zone leader who finished his mission today! Ps he´s a snowboarder from Oregon that was sponsored and decided he needed to go on a mission. He´s older, just turned 24 but was a phenonmenal example to our district for the short time I knew him) asked her how she felt about baptism. She thought it was super direct and super fast, so no. We met with her Wednesday and talked more about it. We challenged her to pray and ask if waiting one week would be enough time. Friday we met again and she said, well, if I´m ok with next week, why not tomorrow? AH!!!!! I about exploded from happiness! She and Astrid are super sweet people and now they will always have that bond of having been baptized on the same day in a frigid, cold font!.....oops haha. Yeah, there ALWAYS has to be something on the days we have baptisms. The water heater thingy they have so that the ice cold water doesn´t give our converts hypothermia BROKE. We were all prepared to spend a couple hours in the kitchen boiling water to warm up the font a little but Pres Cutini said it was all good. STILL, Astrid and Romina came out of the water with teeth chattering and barely moving. Yikes, but memorable, no?
Well, I have to tell you, the past couple weeks have really kicked my tush. There is no RELAXING here, it just can´t be done. There is far too much to do. I am fighting a weird cold at the moment. I blew through a giant package of tissues in two days and am just angry at a lingering cough is all. All is well, but walking at full speed is hard when you´ve got the wind in your face, tickling your throat and causing cough attacks haha I have been extremely blessed though. At least I have remedies and tea to soothe my throat and I know it will pass in time. 
I love my Savior. I know that because He lives, we are able to withstand whatever Satan throws our way. I know that with faith and constant nourishment of that faith, we will have the strength of will and of soul to endure anything. In Mosiah, I was miffed for a minute when I read that the Lord allows for His people to be tried and afflicted to test their patience. But of course, it´s when the people began to prosper that they forgot about God and the reason behind their blessings and fortune. When we are forced to our knees, it´s because our Heavenly Father is caring for us and is helping us to remember what we need to do in order to endure to the end and be able to return to Him. We can be thankful for our trials. We are here to comfort those who stand in need of comfort, mourn with those who mourn and we provide the oppotunity so that others can perform that service for us as well. Let yourself be comforted and pray for the Lord to comfort your heart as human arms encircle you in His place.
Please tell the Rollos I´m sorry for their loss. I will be keeping them in my prayers. Will Daniel be home for the funeral? Again, I am grateful for my blessed and wonderful family. Thank you for your continual support and if you have a minute, mom and dad especially, write Hna Salas? Thank you and I love you dearly, 
Love, your ever obedient and grateful, 
Hermana Gonzalez

Missionary motivational Scripture of the week: Alma 8 wahpow! 


From March 14th

huh that was supposed to be an exclamation point but whatev (haha found it, crazy key board.....)
ok a couple things, may i please have Morgançs mission address. It happens to be wicked cheap to write him. Letters within argentina are like 20 cents :? happy happy!
I went to see pengiuns. Told you stories about my falls. Here they call it ´comprando terreno´ or buying property. The Relief Society Pres says that if I keep it up, I´ll ´buy´all of Rio Gallegos hahaha ha ha    ha very funny :)
Also, if you could throw in fun colored Stickey Notes in the next package that would be great. I´m almost all out of the ones I brought with me and we leave them on investigators doors with a happy note from us so they know we were there and missed them. The only color they have here is lame baby chicken yellow and white. And uh, Hna Salas has never heard or seen and therefore, never experienced STARBURSTS. If you could send some, that would be great. She LOVES candy, especially chocolate but crazy Chilenos have no appreciation for Reese´s LAME but hey, what are ya gonna do?
I LOVE missionary work but I wish there could be something to do about the WIND. It is not only ridiculously tiring to be doubled over to try and walk head on with it but it is tearing apart my poor little face! I have this big spot of dry, red skin next to my nose that is now always dripping.
OK, now with that lovely report, know that I am in a hurry as always and won´t be able to write more than this today.
I love you, I am well and happy and working diligently to do the Lords will.
Ruth, you are a rockstar
Brett, you are crazy and we will have words.....
Sam,,,,more elaboration on the one story know which. And I love you. Be happy. Donçt STRESS so much. you stress ME out :? haha be good. and happy. VERY happy eh
Love you byeª
Hna Gonzalez

PS There are two (in the words of my zone leader) MONSTER packages waiting for me and letters!!!!!!!!!!!! FIIIIIIIIIINNNNNAAAAAAALLLLLYYYYYYYY! Hooray! And president Gulbrandsen is finally coming tomorrow :) I don´t know where my camera is.....with him or with the ZLs......hmmm
Hna Salas is definitely sharing pictures. She has been really kind about letting me take pictures that I´ll later transfer to my camera :)


(From March 10th, sorry for the delay)

Hey Family!!!!!!!
Guess what??!! I made friends with peguins! haha I´ll send pictures monday (i hope)
Some sad news, parents. I still have not received the packages. But that´s basically because argentina is CRAZY and airlines sell and sell and sell tickets for one flight down here and poor President Gulbrandsen gets the shaft. He was supposed to come down here feb 20. Flight got overbooked. He was going to come last week and visit Calafate and us but what happened? Overbooked, couldn´t come here OR calafate. He may or may not be coming this coming week (last of the transfer which makes me reel at how FAST time has passed here in Rio Gallegos!) but a little bird told me that they have sent our pedidos (where we restock on registros, informes, libros de mormón, etc) and they might get here this week! BUT then our district meeting was cancelled.....bah. Oh well, I am learning patience. Just know that if Hna Peña got the package I will too....eventually :)
I have lots of funny stories to tell, some include dogs another involves police and me falling on my face. But they must wait. We have very little time approved to check our email since we didn´t get to write pres and the fam on mon.
Oh, the REAL weather in Rio Gallegos has started. Apparently the last month was all a lie. It was all very unusual, warm, non-windy weather. Today? Well, it was COOLLLLDDD in the morning, the sun came out and warmed in up A LOT BUT the wind!!! Es impresionante!!!! Seriously, without the wind, it would have been hot but the wind is unbelieveably strong!!! I felt like my clothes were going to peace out any second. My skirt was NOT helping me be modest by flying up in my face and i couldn´t see because of the constant dirt cloud I was walking in (like the guy in the Peanut gang. What´s his name?) But I thought I was going to fly away today. Everyone had been telling me, wait for the wind, wait for the wind, It´s not this warm usually...blah blah blah.
They weren´t lying!
Ok, gots to go and conduct a ward/investigator activity!!!! Whoop whoop! We are going to play Pretzel
haha explanations later. LOVE LOVE!
PS also stories of AMAZING MIRACLES where investigators ask us when they can be baptized!! LOVE IT! It´s like alma 22. Yeah!
Hermana Gonzalez

March 2, 2011


(Hna. González had not received any emails when she started to write this email)
Email sent on February 28, 2011

I´m imagining only the worst. There was a freak thunderstorm that with one lightning bolt destroyed Utah Power and you have no way to contact me because there was also an earthquake and tornado that took out all the cell phone towers and wifi internet and whatever else iPods have the ability of doing....right?
Is everyone ok?
I´m doing MUCH better today than I was yesterday. There´s no way to gently break news of sickness in an email so I´ll just come out with it. I had a pretty bad case of food poisoning Saturday. The thing is, my companion ate the same thing and is FINE while I spent the wee hours of Sunday morning making friends with the toilet and the bathroom floor. Remember the time Ruth threw up so badly that her eyeball veins popped? too. I was throwing up so much (and all y'all know how much i hate throwing up and how I avoid it all costs?) that by 6 am I had nothing more to upchuck but my stomach heaved anyway. My eyes are red from the burst blood vessels as well as spots on my face that look a little like freckles under my eyes but also my neck just beneath my chin is pretty spotted too. Sad story but hey, it was bound to happen sometime. Might as well get it over with! And I´m feeling much better today. It was just the nausea and weakness that got me yesterday. I still don´t have much of an appetite but I´m not queasy and I´m keeping down crackers and chamomile tea.
PLEASE know that I am fine. I realize that my dramatic description might be too much but I only describe my face because I can´t send you pictures! It is only noticeable in my left eye and it´ll be kinda funny until it heals because there is a BIG drug abuse problem here among the youth.......haha oops.
With that, if in the next package you could include some alka seltzer or stomach stuff that would be lovely in case there is a next time :S blech
I didn´t bring one because I thought I would never use it but an ENGLISH hymnbook (baby size) would be lovely! I didn´t think about how all the youth investigating the church learn English in school.  Fernanda, that was my first baptism down here, is VERY good at English that she learned and continues perfecting listening to English music! She loves reading the English liahonas we gave her and I’m planning on giving her one of the baby books of Mormon when they get to me. She goes on splits with us and is always asking bunches of questions because she also wants to be a missionary!!!!!! Oh sweet words that nourish the soul!
OK, so no journey to the ocean and flocks of penguins again this week. Oh well, the Lord must be protecting us from SOMETHING so I won't complain that it hasn´t worked out yet.
This week we saw major miracles but are still waiting for the investigators to see for themselves that their prayers have been answered.
We are teaching this wonderful woman named Sonia. She was contacted by Hna Salas and Hna Lyons when they were knocking doors on her street. She is amazing and loving and has progressed quickly. Last week we taught the Word of wisdom. We asked her to hand over any and all cigarettes she currently had. She laughed a little because she thought we were joking. We waiting with patient smiles and she stood up to go get them. She handed over the death sticks and before we said anything, promised us that she wouldn´t buy more. We promised her that it wasn´t US that she would be making this promise with and that her Heavenly Father was waiting to guide her to a happier, healthier life. Please keep her in your prayers as she tries to kick this habit cold turkey.
On Friday, it rained. But for real this time. It started out small, nothing to worry about. We were armed with boots and scarves and coats so I wasn´t worried. Then the wind started to blow extra hard and the rain came down harder too! So it was VERRRRRY cold and the water was attacking us from the sides! It rained which equals wet missionaries. And the wind didn´t stop so we were wet and the cold was seeping in deep. That was pretty bad but hey, we endure very little. What we endure, like E Holland once said, is what we NEED to endure. We endure it so we can know a little more about how the Savior felt. We will NEVER feel exactly as He did in the Garden of Gethsemane but we can get a taste of the suffering and feel evermore grateful for His loving sacrifice.
It is so hard to find a FAMILY here. Hna Peña taught me that we need to find FAMILIES. That is the central plan of God. Here in Rio Gallegos the families are torn apart. The most common thing I´ve found both here and in BS AS is that people just live together. They cohabitate, have kids and a house and everything together but then they can just split and go live with a new person and have more kids and still have to let the other father/mother have time with their children. Usually both parents work, and that leaves the kids alone a LOT. With all of these things and the little value on family togetherness, it isn't hard to see why there are so many sad people and so many errant youth. It´s a little scary but more sad.
But about that. It is our goal first and foremost to find and baptize MEN. The goal is to get a STAKE up and going in Rio Gallegos. In order to achieve that goal, we have to baptize 900 people AND reactivate the many, many inactive members. The finding of the MEN is what stumps Hna Salas and I. We are not timid when it comes to contacting women on the street and they are usually the ones at home who answer the door....but....when it comes to stopping to talk to men? uhhh....we get a little nervous. Mostly about how it´ll look, how they´ll take it, etc. We are making it a new goal to practice and try to contact the more normal looking men we find :) It´s much easier to teach women and children! haha
We teach a lot of women but also couples who are not married. Like I mentioned before, the conventional marriage is nonexistent here so to explain to people who have no value for the institution of legal marriage that they need to get married is VERY difficult. But it´s like President Gulbrandsen is always telling us, when we repent (meaning, we the missionaries) and humble ourselves to receive the will of God, He will prepare the hearts and the way that we may lead the souls to the waters of baptism. We are here to invite the people to come unto Christ to receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and the atonement, by repentance, by baptism, by receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. Uh i THINK that´s how it goes in English. haha (I realized yesterday that I have lost the ability to differentiate when some speaks to me in English or Spanish. I don´t notice the change. If an Elder speaks English on the phone or in district meeting, i don´t realize it until my comp asks me to translate what was said!)
I know that there is a lot of work to be done and we are slowly but surely honing in on the plan that the Lord has for this branch. We walk and walk and walk. We talk and talk and talk. And we will work, work, work until we come face to face with the Lord and HE tells us that the work is enough. Until then, we go on. In the heat, in the cold, in the rain....soon to be snow....haha. No importa. ¡Vamos que se puede!
I love this work, I love this gospel. I love that to be a true disciple of Christ requires that we trust in the Lord in everything, we turn everything over to Him and have faith that He will take us, form us and continue to improve us like we never thought we could change until we end up being what He wants us to be: His idea of our perfect potential. I love my Heavenly Father and I´m grateful every day for the opportunity to be here, for the blessing of my wonderful family and the amazing people who have had an influence on my life. I LOVE YOU ALL!
Love, Hna Gonzalez

hi hi!

Email sent on February 21, 2011

Ok, so this week i´m sitting at a computer that te keyboard doesn´t always want to put the 'h' 'g' or 'd' when i want it to....sooo.....haha i´m not oing to waste precious writing time oing back and putting in the letters ok? you uuys will get the idea.... haha
 AND it´s goin to be a short one cause we have a lot to do today (as usual uncle friday) but this week we are going a bit further away than usual so time is of the essence.
Te last two weeks i have been dreaming of pegiuns and certain elders had promised that we would go and see the legions of penguins that there are to see.....
and yet....if I send an email it´s because we did not take the trip to the coast to see them! :( It´s an all day thing. But at least this way you are preparedd to maybe not hear from me next week. But know that I am well and no sickness to be found! I have great faith that the three blessings i have received since being set apart as a missionary promised as I was obedient and faithful to my calling i would have the health to work are promises inspire of God. yay!
This week was vverrry different from last week. A lot of wind, a little rain and very few new investigators found. That was a little disheartening because we were continuing to work as hard as last week with not as much success and many more closed doors.
But, as always with our loving Heavenly Father, He helps us to grow and learn. We continue and start a new week with our heads held high and high spirits.
One thing i would like to share with you before I make like a baby.....
I used to like them. I think i still might deeep, deep, deep, down but my love for the furry friend is diminishing quickly. Maybe it´s just that a lot of love is getting directed to people and i haven´t prayed to love the dogs...i think i´ll try it because if i have to pick up one more rock to throw at the menacing teeth and growls, I´m going to huck it hard. That´s not very missionary like but after a near-death experience (TOTALLY exaggerating Mom, i promise) with a dog attack, i´m all out of love.
Love you, I love this gospel and everyday tat I am full-body, heart and soul deep in missionary work, I love the Lord and our Savior more and more. I love you family and rejoice knowing that someday, as we work and strive for it, we will be an eternal family.
God be with you!
Hermana Gonzalez