January 23, 2012

More......​week 2 in Ushuaia

Hey all!!!
What an amazingly amazing week! We were working HARD and LONG and getting sweaty despite the cold because we have to basically hike the mountain EVERY DAY! I had never thought what it would be like to serve in an area like this. Just because we WALK everywhere my legs are getting huge again. Blah. Hiking thighs, it´s cute, i know.
Despite the extreme exercise we get, it´s all SO worth it when we have many miracles!!!
When I got here, they had just baptized a BUNCH of people and sometimes that means everyone you were working with is progressing well and .....there´s a lack of NEW people to teach. So, we went right to work to what we do best: Opening our MOUTHS! We started contacting a bunch of referrals we had received and I dove right into the Area Book! It´s such a testimony builder of the Church to know that EVERYTHING is VERY organized. A missionary need not fear leaving people for other missionaries to work with in later months and years because if we do our job right, the record of their progress and teaching remains and other missionaries will be there at the right time to bring these people we learn to love into the fold of the Good Shepherd.
We found a LOT of these people who, for one reason or another, had stopped attending church meetings and never reached the waters of baptism. Now we are here to invite them again and they are accepting!

So all of these great people that we are visiting are people whose names are just sitting in a binder WAITING to be talked to and invited again. We are going to be working hard to step up to the responsibility that we have of being the missionaries that are here at this time to serve these people!
Marlen, Lidia, Walter, Jorgelina and Daniel, Daniel Lopez, Lucas and Gabriela, and a few contacts more are the names that are ALWAYS on my mind. These people are so special and I love them so much! I can´t wait to see them all dressed in white and making covenants with the Lord that they are willing to bear one another´s burdens, comfort those who stand in need of comfort...shoot I don´t remember the rest, only in Spanish. haha sorry!
So we found tons of great people. Saw lots of great miracles.
Guess what?? BOTH Hna Shelley and I got bitten by dogs this week!!!! AH! It was another one of these miracles where we received a greater testimony of the covenants we made in the temple. The two different dogs that we must have startled by walking by bit me where my covenant was covering my leg below my knee and Hna Shelley on the back of her thigh where she was also obediently keeping her covenants. We both felt the teeth on our skin but when we looked down, there was only dog slobber where there should have been blood or something. It was such a protection that I know comes from our obedience and commitment to the Lord and the many prayers in our behalf.

Funny story, we were practicing walking more ´lady-like´ because walking fast and a lot makes us get lazy about posture, etc. So walking a little straighter, heads high and feet closer together made for sore legs and backs!! We have gotten way out of habit and so walking well was difficult. Hna Shelley decided that ´walking like a woman´ wasn´t worth it. ¨It´s easier to be a man!¨ haha she cracks me up and that was something that kept creeping back up into conversation as we walked from house to house. haha :)

We were accompanied a lot this week by this great member, Veronica. She´s in a picture with us on a bridge...I love her dearly and I´ll tell you more about her next week because right now we are late to go play soccer! I am DETERMINED to learn to play so the elders are helping us, as well as members and great peeps that love hanging out with us! It´s fun! I´m so excited!
Love you all,
I know that this is the true Church and I know that my Savior lives.
Love you all for eternity!!!!
Love, see you next week!!
Hermana Gonzalez

LOOOVED all the pics this week. They make me so happy. Sam=FAIL!!! No write up about the dance but i hope you had a great time. You look great! I have a VERY attractive family!!!! Yowza!!! haha

PS Delicious Argentine ice cream. This ice cream rock my world!!!!!!!!!!!! We need it in the US!

The pics are from all over. The Congreso seals of the provinces I’ve served in. Pics with hnas Dunn and Erickson. The great views and things I see here in Ushuaia. It´s a million times safer here to take my camera around than in Congreso so you will be getting more pics!!

January 20, 2012

Together forever.....at least for now :)

 Despedida (farewell)
 At the airport
 Incredibly blue sky
 The mountains, oh how I missed them!
  I got here and it was a balmy high of 9º celsius. I almost died. I left the 38º of Buenos Aires 
  Hna Shelley had baked a delish cake 
Back with Hna Shelley on my birthday!!

From January 16th, 2012 Sorry fot the delay.

Hey family!
Thanks for the great birthday wishes! I felt so loved!!!!!!!!
I love all those people so much. I think it was great that I got messages from the friends of yesteryear too! Oh man, so much happiness.
So much to tell!!! I’m here. LOVING it while FREEZING in Ushuaia. umm, good thing I’m here in the SUMMER because I´m pretty sure I would DIE to spend all winter here! I got here and it was a balmy high of 9º Celsius. I almost died. I left the 38º of BS AS and it´s a good thing I didn´t pack my coat in my checked bags because it was CHILLY!!!!!!!!!
I didn´t get picked up by Hna Shelley, but by our zone leaders so I waited almost impatiently (because I´m VERY patient now :) ) to see her but she was a rockstar and out working with a member while waiting for me. I got to quaint little Ushuaia, which is actually much bigger than I imagined it would be. I think it might be bigger than Rio Gallegos...maybe I just couldn´t SEE all of Gallegos ever all at one time. But Ushuaia is like landing in JUNEAU. Seriously, I had to do a double take as we were descending to make sure we hadn´t been flying the other direction the whole time. IT¨S JUST LIKE SOUTHEAST ALASKA! I can´t get over it! The mountains, oh how I missed them! The snow capped ones too! It´s green, we are right next to the ocean and it´s just amazing! Cold, but hey, roll with the punches, I say! I´m sending some pics from 2 p-days ago with my last trio and then from the flight and here! I want to share this experience with you as much as I can!
Well, I was really bummed actually that I was leaving my dear Congreso the DAY BEFORE my birthday but, it turned out being the BEST BIRTHDAY YET!

So when I got here, I went straight home because the schedule here is different. But in the airport before I left BS AS, I had run into Hna Quispe, who came north from RIO GALLEGOS to be in Congreso with Hna Dunn. Her last companion was none other than HNA WHITEHEAD!!! (who sends big hugs and thank you´s for the package that finally got to her!) Hna Quispe came as the best mail carrier to give me two large envelopes, one of which was marked to not be opened before the 12th. Well, I didn´t so that morning was amazing and I got to see pictures and saludos from the loved ones I have in Rio Gallegos! So many people that I had taught or found are baptized now!!! HOORAY! Isabel, Familia Lazo-Atia=Roxana, Chrisitian and Juliana!!! Love them all! It was great to see them in picture at least. It was a great way to start out the morning.
Then we had a great zone meeting. It´s a zone meeting and not district because the other 6 missionaries that are here ARE the zone. It´s been super great, two of them are repeats from my district in Rio Gallegos. They have stayed south this whole time!! Elders Herrera and Geraldo. GREAT Elders that we get to work with here! Hna Shelley had baked a delish cake that we took to share with the elders. They love us.
We went out and had lunch up on the mountain with Hna Alicia. It was great. Hna Shelley had told her it was my birthday we had ice cream for dessert. LOVE HER! haha
We walked all around the Barrios, which I´ll have to tell you about some other time but basically my legs are SORE and will get HUGE from so much uphill walking and climbing. Seriously, I think I have never been so sore in my life. We also did a zone service project helping a family of investigators to fill a foundation of a house they are building and my arms hurt! Anywho, after all the complaining of my body being a year older and weaker, I have never been happier. We are starting out with somewhat of a clean slate, finding, teaching and loving and serving these great people of Ushuaia!!!!!!!!!!
Yesterday we had Elder Foster of the Area Presidency here for the mission tour. It was incredible and I love him and his wife and the great things they shared with us. It was a great learning experience and spiritual meeting. The Zone of Rio Grande came down for it so we had 4 sisters in our little apartment. Hna Milmont and Hna Gutierrez were with us. They are GREAT! Hna Milmont was with Hna Peña and Hna Whitehead in Tigre for her first 4 or 5 weeks in the field and she´s been down here in the south since so I had never met her! Love them.
Elder and Sister Foster shared great things with us, especially about establishing the Kingdom. We are here in the End of the World and Elder Foster asked us to think about what would happen to our areas were we to get pulled out completely in like 3 months. Would the work progress? Would the branches here keep growing, having baptisms etc? Or are we trying to do it all ourselves? It was a huge reminder that this work of sharing the gospel doesn´t belong only to us with nametags. We need to help the members share and teach the gospel not the other way around.
Knowing that Mom and Dad will be speaking next week about Looking up, that´s what I want to share really fast.
Sister Foster told a story about her granddaughter that loves taking baths up until the moment she has to wash her hair. She doesn´t like when the water and shampoo get in her eyes and she would duck her head down to try and avoid it, not knowing she was making it worse. After a very animated lesson by her mother teaching her to tilt her head back and let the water run down her back, Ally followed her mother´s example and smiled at the ceiling while rinsing her hair and found that baths and life were better when she was looking up.
When I heard this, I realized I needed to grow in my faith. I need to develop enough faith in my leaders and in myself that I will know what to do and that things will be better when I look up and trust in the Lord. Most importantly, with a smile on my face.
 I know that this is the Lord´s work. His hands are here in Ushuaia. Hna Shelley has been the friend that Doctrine and Covenants section 121 says. Verse 9. She is just what I need here, just like Hna Dunn and Hna Erickson were just who I needed in Congreso, just like all my areas and companions. I love this work and plan to never stop being a missionary. I know that this is the true church and it is my duty and my love to share with all that I meet.
I love it here. It´s so cute and quaint and it´s a WORK OUT!
I love you all and thanks again for all your love and support. I got the Cub Scouts Christmas letter this week! Thanks Beckie!! You´re great!
Love you all,
Until next week
Hermana Gonzalez

I will add pictures later, I have to go to work :)

January 10, 2012

Hold on to your hats folks.....

January 09, 2012

I´m going SOUTH!!!! AGAIN!
For realsies this time I´m going to the end of the earth....the land of fire and BAPTISMS....
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE Tell Natalys Campos to write me, an email or something so that she knows I´ll be in Ushuaia. She is the only other sister that I know of that has served two times in the south! I love her and I know that she´ll have people she´ll want me to visit!
Seriously, we went to the despedida last night for the missionaries in San Fernando and when Hna Gulbrandsen came up and hugged me she just gave me this face....that usually doesn´t worry me but then I spied Elder Johnson (President´s secretary) behind her watching us and saw his very TERRIBLE poker face (same face he made when I was going to open an area and train) and knew something was coming. ¨I hope you´re packed¨, she whispered in my ear. NO! I´m not packed! Why would I? I´m NOT leaving! haha that was my initial reaction because I LOVE this area and LOVE my companions with all my heart. BUT the Lord has called me to go back south. THAT was a shock. The next amazing shock was that Hna Shelley, my dear sweet first trainee, will be my companion down there!!!!!!!!!!!!! I want to know how she is handling this because I just can´t wait to fly down there and see her!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! BAH!!!!!!!!!!!!! She called this week to make sure that some things get to her this transfer, a few little things she left. Had I known, I would´ve just packed them for her and taken them in person. Now I really don´t know when they´ll get down there.
This is just an insane thing that has been inhabiting my mind for the last 17 hours.

This past week however was full of wonderful, wonderful work by my wonderful, wonderful companions! We made a decision to follow with full faith and works to do exactly what President taught us last week. He invited us to have a goal of 5 investigators in church every week (because if they don´t go to church, then they can´t get baptized, and if they don´t get baptized, they can´t be clean and forgiven of their sins therefore cannot enter the kingdom of God soo.....we have to get them to CHURCH!) and to work on having at least 3 lessons with members present PER DAY. The key to the work is in working with the members! So in order to make sure we have 3 lessons go through, no failings, etc, we had to plan and set 5 lessons with member per day. We had enough lessons and plans to do splits 3 of those days and a wonderful sister that spent their days with us, along with great members that accompanied us to meet the investigators we have. We ended every day BEAT and with our heads held high because of the work that we had accomplished. But we had the wonderful result of 5 wonderful people joining our Sunday meetings this Sunday. I LOVE this work because it is the Lord´s work and He knows how to do it and He teaches us through our leaders and through the Spirit. I am so grateful to have been a part of this and I will love Congreso forever. So, so many great people here!!!!!
Word out to the Pinto´s since I didn´t get to see them and might not before WEDNESDAY when I fly down to Ushuaia: THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING and PLEASE take care of Hna Dunn for me. I love you both dearly and know we will be friends forever! We´ll play in Utah!
We had great miracles happen as we were working a lot with members. There was a fire that was lit and I have this great feeling that it will just keep building and building. A bonfire has to happen here in Congreso! The members, a LOT of returned missionaries, have been so grateful to us for including them in the work. That´s funny to me because we were so happy that they could help! We had another wonderful testimony meeting yesterday were the running theme was member missionary work. It was so beautiful to share that with them. We had Maria and Damian in Church. I LOVE Maria and can´t WAIT to see the pictures of her baptism. She is so prepared, so loving, has had wonderful experiences and continues with this wonderful desire to know more. She´s great!
Enrique, oh, Enrique. This wonderful man is so desperately in need of a spiritual recharge and an extreme thirst of feeling God´s love and guidance. He works like a mad man to provide for his family. He works an hour and a half away,  from 2 until midnight, then weekends until 3 am, gets home two hours later, eats something and sleeps so that the next day he can do it again. He never gets to see his little baby boy and his girlfriend but they promised to make the time to go to Church yesterday. We called and called peeps so they could wake up and walked to Enrique´s house on the way to go to Church. We knocked and rang and knocked and waited but no one answered. As we were walking away to catch the bus, he walked up! We met on the corner and he was soooooooooo tired. We were walking around getting people at 8:45 and he had gotten home from work at 6 am. WOW! He hadn´t slept in forever. BUT he said, wait for me, he went and showered and changed and went to church with us! On the bus that we got on, this great, great family the Arroyo´s (who remind me crazily of Evan Petersen from Alaska and our Disneyland trip) and he immediately started talking to him and getting to know him more on the way to church. The family also sat with him in Church and everyone went to greet him. Poor guy, he was super tired and kept falling asleep but then another great member with a car took him home so he made it ok.
I have to tell you this great story too. It´s humorous! Last week, right after internet, we went to eat at our favorite street side grill. While we were waiting for the deliciousness to be made, a GIANT bird dropping landed RIGHT on Hna Dunn´s HEAD!!!!! It was huge and she just froze. I was worried she was going to puke because it got all on her arm and skirt too. I was laughing really hard but didn´t want to make her feel bad because I TOTALLY would have flipped had it been me. Hna Erickson got her arm pooped on a few weeks back I forgot to tell you, but she went immediately into action grabbing napkins to wipe the stuff off and get it out of her hair. haha
Ok gots to go. P day is precious and I won´t have another until Tuesday! Remember that, ok? No worries if you don´t hear from me until Tuesday because we´ve got zone conference with Elder Arnold of the Area Seventy on Monday in Ushuaia. I leave here on Wednesday at midday when we will also be receiving Hna Quispe who is Hna Dunn´s new comp and who was just Hna Whitehead´s comp in Gallegos!! Hooray!
Love you all, love the work. I bet many facebook birthday wishes will come next week so it´ll be this great drawn out experience. I got all the great packages you sent! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANKYOU!!! It´s everything I always wanted. LOVE EVERYTHING. Shout out to Brady and Thank you for the mountain of peanut butter M&m´s. I don´t think I’ll ever run out now :) haha and the greatest CD of the Nashville tribute to the Prophet!! YES! Hna Dunn has it but I didn´t I was really going to miss those great songs. Thanks a million!
I am so glad to be in this great work and the servant that the Lord has chosen to send to labor in Ushuaia. Happy to be out of the heat, though my heart is torn to pieces to think of this change. It´s so hard being a missionary and love, and be sad, and be happy, all at the same time. Just know that I am well, I am happy and joyous laboring in this part of the vineyard. Thank you for your support and prayers. I do feel them. LOVE YOU ALL! Have a wonderful week. Next week, I´ll be 23!! haha OLD!

Love, your missionary,
Hermana González

January 8, 2012

Hey hey FAM BAM!!!

From January 2nd, 2012

So Dad!! Another year older and wiser, too! Happy Birthday to YOU!
That´s so great! I LOVE CPK! (California Pizza Kitchen) It´s super delish!
I love food, I feel like I talk about it a LOT and we had a wonderful big happy lunch with the Pinto's and Pardo´s yesterday (another family in our ward, young couple with an adorable little boy who is VERY active and ´little boyish´) It was crowded around the table with so many peeps but it was so fun and happy. We laughed a lot and we ate lots of amazingly delicious food and desserts that Hno Pinto made. They were seriously so good!
Except.......we weighed ourselves today. And we are never going to eat again. hahaha
I know it sounds really girly to say this but what we are doing is an important work of the Lord and we feel AWFUL and now we know why. Gluttony is NOT in line with the Word of Wisdom.
Anywho, we are working on that as part of our New Year goals.
It´s such a great thing to be making these goals, and especially doing them with the Lord and His great work as the foundation of this task. I have such a great testimony about the fact that the Lord guides our lives. We can make goals for our lives and He will help us as we seek His will for us. We can PLAN to be blessings to those around us. Like a friend shared with me today of a simple act like observing helped him to feel the Spirit´s guide and OPEN HIS MOUTH to share the gospel. It doesn´t have to be an in-depth, deep doctrine explaining conversation to be sharing the gospel. In fact, the approach never is! BUT the invitation followed by a testimony will be sure to touch the hearts of those that our Heavenly Father is preparing and setting in our paths.
That´s one of the most amazing things about being in the field and doing our upmost in daily planning. Weekly and daily planning are ssoooooooo important!! Nightly planning of where we will go has proved countless times to be how the Lord is able to PLACE people where we will be. On the street, in a bus, subway or train, whatever, just as long as we find them and.....da da dah dum! TALK TO THEM!
I just marvel at it every time. Since, as I have said times before, we work in a very small area (geographically) we pass a lot of referrals of people like: Nahuel, Camila, Ariel and Perla, Gustavo, Georgelina and many, many more that walk up to US and ask where we are from and what we share! Those are such amazing moments that we know that by just BEING somewhere, someone´s fervent prayer to the heavens and a loving Heavenly Father has been heard. Angels are round about us always to bear us up. Not just us as missionaries or as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but ALL the children of God.
OK, so this week was so great! We have been working REALLY hard to raise the percentage of lessons taught with MEMBERS present. We can go around being chums and teaching people left and right but until they have a friend and confidant of a member that lives here, they DON´T go to church OR have someone to be accountable to. It has been really great that this week our numbers didn´t dip down as far as we thought they might because of the holiday. It is sooo weird to be here during the holidays, I mean here in the heart of capital, because when no one comes into work, the place is a GHOST TOWN! Well, especially on New Year’s eve and New Year´s day. EVERYTHING was closed, even McDONALDS!!! Shocking. But it was like being in the south all over again. haha No one in the streets. Such a weird thing because we are usually shoulder to shoulder or dodging people in a hurry to get someplace. Having the whole sidewalk to ourselves was crazy. We decided to talk to everyone that WAS on the streets and we got to have some good contacts to pass on to the elders in our district.
PRINCE! Well, he is still NOT baptized. I wish that we could just save him from himself in this area but agency, agency. Not even Heavenly Father messes with that. He´s been really difficult to teach lately and we figured it out!!! When he first got here, a lot of people tried to help him out and made friends with him. I guess a day before one of our members invited him into Church, he had been befriended by some Jehovah´s Witnesses. They have kept in touch and now, right now when he finally had desires to be baptized, they took him away for the weekend! He was gone just long enough to miss his baptismal interview (again) and missed Church too. It was super sad. I hope that someday, he will find the strength and understanding to be baptized and receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Well, pray for him. I will be.
Ricardo, I don´t know if I´ve told you much about him. He was a contact of the sisters in Ushuaia and he moved up here not too long after. He has been coming to Church and reading the Book of Mormon. He says he likes it and that the world would be a better place if everyone lived the way it teaches. It´s true! He is progressing steadily. He even came to church with a white shirt! He´s not so jazzed about the tie wearing though. haha silly billy. Such small things when the reason we go to church is to put the Atonement into effect in our lives. It doesn´t matter what you wear as long as it shows respect to the House of Prayer where we get to worship our God.
There is a man we have been visiting named Becquer who is here in BS AS because of medical issues. We started talking to him because he was outside one rainy night when we were literally RUNNING by. We stopped to talk to him and he liked the message we shared and we´ve gone back several more times. This week, we got to be present as a wonderful brother in our ward went to give him a priesthood blessing. Becquer has NOT been doing well so the blessing was a great source of comfort for his wife and him.
On the 28th, Dad´s bday, while you were chowing down on delicious stuff, we were doing divisions with a future sister missionary to Peru! She´s great and we love doing divisions because we just know that more needs to be done here and we can do it by splitting up! We visited a bunch of people including with a youth whose family just moved here a month ago from Bulgaria. Hna Dunn went to teach him SPANISH. He and his family are converts from 2 years ago in Bulgaria (I think they are ORIGINALLY from Ukraine). They are faithful church attendees, even though they don´t understand a thing. Hno Danilenko actually plays the piano beautifully and played yesterday for sacrament. Alex, is 20 and is learning Spanish to help his family figure out what to do here. He speaks German, Russian, Ukrainian, Bulgarian and English and is trying to add Spanish to the list. He´s soo smart and already get the basic gist. UNDERSTANDING it is a WHOLE different story. He´s so great though! Love him! Our goal: GET HIM ON A MISSION! haha of course.
Well, I know that this New Year will be a great one, filled with work, love, and success in many, many ways. My comps will be spending ALL of 2012 in the mission field as I did all of 2011. They are going to be so great. I love them so much.
As Hna Dunn goes off to wherever the Lord calls her, Hna Erickson and I will keep tearing it up here. She is so wonderful and as I ponder how to help and serve her, I keep remembering what President Gulbrandsen promised us before she and her group of new missionaries got here: the spirituality of the mission will increase because of THIS group. Because of Hna Erickson and her companions, Buenos Aires is getting a new league of missionaries. I pray that she and all who come after will be 100 times the missionary I have been. The world needs it. The Lord and His children NEED them.

I share this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Love, love, love you all! There are some pics from the Christmas devotional we had in Pilar. 
The sisters! Hooray! Love them!
Love you all, until next week,
Hermana González

 Hna Olsen
 Hna Cariola

Hna Erickson, Hna Dunn, Hna González