March 20, 2012

woot woooooo!

From March 19th, 2012

I am loving this life!!! I think EVERYONE should live a missionary life! It´s the best!
Well, that reminds me that in Preach My Gospel Chapter 1 there is a quote I read just this morning that the greatest work we will ever do is within the walls of our own home. That HAS to be the truth. What I have learned in my own parents’ home and here in the mission field is for SURE the key to how to have a successful future home. I am so grateful for the amazing examples in my life and experiences to learn by and teach by the Spirit of the Lord and gaining full confidence that it is His true Church that we belong to and through His Begotten Son that we will gain eternal life.

This week we have been overwhelmed with amazing people! Familia Carrari have been a great gain to the branch. Hno Carrari is a life-long member whose new almost-wife is not a member. After several years of inactivity, he decided that his life and his family needed the BEST things and he called up the Elders to have them come and visit. 2 months later, they are preparing to get married so that his wife can be baptized! They are so great and faithful not having missed a Sunday in 2 months. Little Lujan, 6, and Ignacio, 3, just LOVE church, primary and reading scriptures. They are just SUNSHINE. A new sister for our Relief Society, another priesthood holder and two great additions to our ever-growing primary. LOVE IT!!
Cesar, a convert from January, received the Aaronic priesthood and is so eager to keep going and growing in his responsibilities of the church. He just loves being there. He´s in the church almost ALL day Sunday when he can. He attends our branch and then helps the branch that comes after us and stays to participate in choir as well. haha he´s great!

The world is so small ESPECIALLY as members of the church. The family I told you about just now, the Carrari´s, know a member family (Barcos) from here from about 25 years ago when they were in the same ward/branch in Bahía Blanca (provincia BS AS). Now they live a block away from each other! Flia Barcos has been making all these connections with our investigators, including being a childhood friend of Enrique! They are often together now doing different activities and teaching and learning. It´s been amazing! Enrique says he´s hooked. haha love him

Monica, a great, great lady, was looking for work and we happened to randomly know that a member from the other branch was looking for someone to help them in their house. We made the connection between them and Monica was overjoyed to get the job the same day!!! She has been having a hard time lately but her faith was strengthened to get immediate answers to her prayers. I love watching how the love and confidence we have for our Heavenly Father can really shine a new light into our lives. It´s amazing!

haha Did I tell you all that the people I tell about my bus driving job in Alaska just stare at me incredulously? haha they stare at me, eyes wide just waiting for me to say, ‘just kidding’. Most women here don´t know how to drive. It´s really a lot more rare to find a woman that drives. There ARE women who do but it´s not as prevalent as the US. And so when I throw in the BUS thing, it´s even more incredible to believe. So I have to promise to bring them pictures the next time I see them and it´s also a great way to set up follow-up appointments. haha win-win!

We were walking up this one street this week to contact a referral when we saw a man sitting outside his house look up to see who was walking by. ( I still CAN´T get over the fact that people just SIT OUTSIDE and chill in their front yard while we are FREEZING and wishing we were inside somewhere, anywhoo...) He looked up and instead of looking back down, he stared and so we felt to go and talk to him on the way back down the street. We knocked on the door of the referral, no one home. Once we had gotten to the top of the street it really was going to be a lot more efficient to not go back down the street and just walk more uphill and have a more direct route to our next plans. But we both looked at each other and with that knowing look that we have achieved as a companionship; we went to follow the prompting of the Spirit. As we talked to this wonderful older man (80 yrs old!!!) about his relationship with God, I felt the strongest impression to tell him that if he came to church with us he would know that this is the true Church that he hasn´t found because he didn´t know where to find it. He looked at me a second and then just nodded his head and said, OK. Well, German Venegas LOVED church yesterday and is planning on coming back next week too. MIRACLES HAPPEN!

We FINALLY met this one kid who was baptized in Misiones (provinicia al norte de Argentina, almost Brazil) 3 years ago that his mom stopped us in the grocery store two weeks ago to ask us that we go and visit him to invite him and the rest of her sons back. I´ll have to tell you later what she said about herself but she knows that her sons were better when they were active in the Church. We are now helping Javier, Andres, Arturo and Martin. Woot! We have a Family Home Evening planned with them for the weekend when they are all home together.

Will someone please tell Nikki, Siostra Stay, that I love her??? I can´t believe that she´ll be home this week! I will let you know what i get from her emails because I’m pretty sure her homecoming won´t be for another 3 week or so because of gen conf and her ward conf and fast Sunday :) haha oh man.

This week we are planning on doing an exchange with the sisters from Rio Grande (the zone on this island Tierra del Fuego to the north of us) I´m a little nervous but very excited. I would be going with Hna Reed while Hna Gutierrez comes down here to be with Hna Shelley. Wow! Pray for us. It´ll be an exciting week! Especially prepping everyone for conference and Easter!
I love you all. Have a wonderful, joyous week. Danny sent me pictures of the snow!!! Wow. It snowed here too. We are finally in the same season on opposite ends of the world :) haha it´s nice today though so we will hopefully be going to a little hike to the Ushuaian Bridal Veil Falls. Pretty. So I hear. I´ll let you know if it is next week!
Love, love, love you all!
I know this church is true!
See ya!
Hermana Gonzalez

March 12, 2012

Word up!!

Hey, it looks like people are remembering me now. haha I know it´s hard after being out of sight and out of mind for forever but I love you too! No worries and keep writing! I love it!

Thanks Hna CAMILLY for the update!! I was SOOO happy to hear from you. I have a story for you and Alipio: so Hna Dunn went to her new area and new companion with all sorts of great hopes and things are going well as far as I know. She said that her new companion did NOT like the Brother of Jared´s skin!!! Remember when Hna Dunn SCREAMED when it was in her hand and she threw it on the table with the food that first time??? haha apparently her new companion´s reaction was WAAAY better. haha I thought Alipio would really appreciate that. Hna Dunn had to take that page out of her memory book and hide it until her companion leaves :)

EMMA bo bemma!!! I LOVE hearing that you have had such great testimony building experiences in DC and that you are loving it. I will TOTALLY go back east with you someday and you´ll have to show me around a town I know I’m BOUND to love! Keep being amazing like you are and remember always that I love you! The Church is true!

ANGELICA!!! You TALK about me all the time? I know, I know. You love me. But I DO expect you to dedicate at LEAST 3 biscuit nights to me to catch up on all the stuff you HAVEN¨T TOLD ME! I don´t worry that you will, it´s just when. What´s your Alaska stuff looking like? P.S. WHO is the guy that served here?? NAMES please? Well, I love you my dearest!

I don´t know if you can send these to them by email or what. I know that all these lovely ladies read my blog often. My favorite stalkers for sure :) haha I have a stalker story for you all later :) don´t worry it´s not scary, it´s actually really funny. Well, it was to me at least.
This week was INCREDIBLE!! I decided that the end of the mission is DEFINITELY the best. I can´t believe it but then again, God is a God of miracles. EVERY day is my new favorite day of the mission. We get home EXHAUSTED beyond all reason of course but we are on FIRE! Well, the MEMBERS are really. We have had the success because we have been receiving the Lord´s vision for this area and it lies in doing our part to help the MEMBERS fulfill their missionary responsibilities. I mean, when a member has a referral of a friend that wants to hear us, they come RUNNING. They don´t have to putter around, we don´t have to tear the referral from the hands or anything. This week we had 7 of these great people in Church with us and one will be getting baptized this coming Sunday. She is so great and is so excited! She´s like Enrique and has been telling everyone and inviting them to be there! Ana Laura. She´s 12 and fell in love with the Young Women´s program and the hymns and music and then read the Book of Mormon and noticed right away that it was special. She´s amazing! I´ll send pics next week!
We are preparing a great little family too and a wonderful woman who is fighting to get out of a bad, very harmful relationship. I love her and she is so great and has a powerful testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and how it is true by what? Praying and reading. She prayed and picked up the Book and found her answer right away. So GREAT! I love knowing that the good news we bring, the Gospel message, is what EVERYONE needs, regardless of situation or problem. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is for every one of us.
We have been going to the hospital quite a bit this week because that´s just how Argentina medicine works (we´ll talk about health care when I´m NOT Hermana Gonzalez, don´t get me started) if someone gets sick, to the hospital. Fall and your knee still hurts 2 days later, go to the hospital. If your nose is runny, go to the hospital. Anyway, Hna Shelley got some weird red spots on her body and we were told to go to the hospital to figure it out. Anyway, the subsequent visits were to get an appointment with a dermatologist, get blood drawn, a delicious throat swab etc. Well, the point of the story is that I noticed when we were there at 6 am to get in line for the tests that Argentina has ZERO vending machines. I had never thought about it until we were sitting there in SILENCE, in a HOSPITAL. I have spent a good amount of time in hospitals and the familiar hum of the vending machines was absent and so it clicked. NO vending machines anywhere in Argentina. WOW! BUT there are dispensas/kioskos on every block which serve the same purpose. haha Just a little side thing that I discovered this week that changed my life. Also, learned how to make yogurt this week. Another life-changer.
This past Thursday, the 8th of march, was Día de la Mujer. Everyone was really friendly and wished us a good day all day. We took advantage of the day to get in touch with some of our tougher peeps. There are less active families that NEVER let us in to teach or they are all friendly and everything UNTIL we start to remind them about Church on Sunday then all the friendly goes out the door. So we took delicious banana bread to a sister that isn´t our biggest fan and we saw as the bread melted her heart a little, she smiled, let us in and it was great!! Hooray!!! We took more bread around to all of our appointments that day and ended with a big empty tupperware and happy hearts lifted all over Ushuaia! Oh the love and tenderness of small acts of kindness!
Hna Shelley asked me a really great question this week. We were enjoying really great facturas and she thoughtfully asked, ´why are pregnant women so cute, but fat missionaries aren´t?´ hahaha I would really like to know the answer but hey, it might be one of those mysteries that we won´t get to know until the other side. I might come home slightly round but not for a lack of trying. It´s cold, ok? Everywhere we go, they ask us if we are cold or hungry and without listening for an answer, they get out something to snack on and get the hot water on the stove. Bummer that it´s too wonderful to turn down a warm cup of boldo (not sure if that´s the same herb in English) on these cold days. Whew.
Well, the funny stalking story real quick. We have this recent convert that is doing great. She´s super faithful and is learning a lot and very quickly. She sometimes brings a lot of what she would have said in her ´former´ life to apply now and we have to remember to correct her like a child. She calls us her baby because she´s learning like a child. She´s been baptized for almost 5 months and has had some issues with an ex-boyfriend that she just chooses to suffer over. Well, we got that guy out of the picture, I mean, not US as missionaries, but she finally just closed the door on that. BUT all of a sudden we get this NEW guy on the scene. He´s already tons better than the last guy because he came to Church, is reading the Book of Mormon and all BUT is not being a fan. We were teaching this new member last night and he came over. She got all red and blushy! Like a little teenager. haha I called her out because he went to the other room to not pray with us (baby steps) and she wouldn´t confess. Anywho, we left all together because she said she was going to go meet some friends and this new guy had come to get her and go. We went separate ways after getting out to the street from the apartment. As she was walking I had this crazy ´protect her´ sensation so we watched as they crossed the street. It looked like they were holding hands!! So we ran down the block to see them cross the next street (good thing the blocks here are shorter than the city blocks in Capital) and we ran down and hid in a darkened doorway to watch them walk by. We followed them a good long while, laughing and giggling all the way because of my craziness. We stalked them until they got in a taxi and drove away but it looked like good friendly time so we walked home still talking about this new guy. We´ll be keeping our eye on him.....Then, Hna Shelley, always the worry-er (can´t spell), said she hoped no one called the cops on our creeper behavior, and if they did, she hoped Hno Franco (our ward mission leader haha) would be the one called to come. hahaha
haha anywho love the work. We are looking to help a lot more members catch the vision of every member a missionary and getting a STAKE here in Ushuaia.
I love this work. I know the Church is true!!
Love you all,
Have a wonderfully fantastic week!!
Hermana Gonzalez

March 5, 2012

Hey hey hey!!!

From March 5th, 2012

I cannot believe all the amazing-ness of stuff that is going on here, Poland, in Utah, and all over the great wide world!!! 
I have been faithfully receiving and reading such GREAT emails from friends who are wonderful examples of member missionary work and finding every opportunity to share their testimony and from fellow missionaries throughout the course of my mission. 
Sister Stay, my amazingly talented and beautiful friend serving as a missionary in Poland has always been a great source of motivation and love for me. Her amazingly powerful personality and testimony has kept me going MANY weeks of the mission and I love her stories of the tender mercies of the Lord. I don´t know if anyone one at home (mom, dad?) have followed her blog like I have (the posts of her emails get forwarded to me, not sure how but they have been since day 1 of the MTC. LOVE it) But she will be finishing up this great service to the Lord this month. My heart felt a ton of different emotions reading that. We were together very little time in the MTC while she was waiting to just get out and serve and it was a miracle for me to see her. Now, it´s just a little bit longer and I´ll see her on the other side. I love her so much and I am grateful for her friendship just as much as the amazing example she has been of a diligent worker in the Lord´s vineyard. The field is WHITE and ready for the harvest. 
A great friend sent a fantastic email with a story about sharing the Book of Mormon with David Russell, a Grammy winning guitarist, while he was in Salt Lake playing. I loved the story because of many things but mostly the power of prayer and preparation. He had a spare Book of Mormon in his car and a prayer in his heart to have the opportunity to share it with David Russell. He got the chance and did his part to flood the earth with the Book of Mormon as President Benson said we should do. 
The time is now. The technology has never been greater. I am so grateful for the opportunity to have shared my whole missionary experience with dozens, maybe a hundred people or more through a simple blog. 
I know that this is the only true Church of Jesus Christ. He Himself is at the head leading us in a world of confusion and changing values to a path of steady, sure principles and a firm foundation. What a wonderful gift of peace in a difficult time to live on earth. 
This week was amazing to see how the Lord has prepared the people here in Ushuaia to receive the Gospel. Hno Enrique was confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and received the gift of the Holy Ghost. He has been a ROCK star inviting people to come to church to accompany him and see the great changes he is making in his life. 
There is a girl that is a reoccurring face in my pictures Xenia, (pronounced Gina, kinda).She is AMAZING! She was baptized about a month and a half ago in another branch down here. She LOVES going with us to visit investigators and makes sure that we are doing well in committing the people to read, pray and leave them a part they can read and ponder until our next visit. She´s 12 and the best mini missionary I´ve seen her age!! We went to meet this one family that just moved here from Rio Grande on Saturday night after a baptism (where we took Ana Laura, a great girl that is excited about her baptism the 18th that Xenia befriended immediately) and with this family, Xenia loved them immediately as did Hna Shelley and I. Nestor and Virginia are SO great! They have two little kids, Lujan and Ignacio. They are a great family. Nestor is a less active member who wants his family to have the gospel. Virginia and he are just waiting this week for his divorce papers, all signed and good to go, to arrive so they can go and start the paperwork to be married here! The day they get married, Virginia is all ready and anxious to get into the water!!! She´s so prepared it´s crazy that all these random things have been holding her back from being baptized already. The whole family went to church yesterday, stayed happily participating in all the classes. They are SOO great! Virginia started the Book of Mormon from the beginning about a month ago and is in Alma 30 I think! She LOVES learning the gospel and just wants to know everything. She has this huge list of things to ask that she is anxious to talk about with us this week. 
We met Ana and Ana Laura, well, I met them because Hna Shelley knew them from BEFORE I got here and they had left for vacation. Now everyone is back because school started down here. Ana Laura is this cute, cute 12 year old who loves church, loved young women´s and is eager for her own baptism. Hopefully we can work with the whole family but her mom has been kinda depressed lately and sleeps a lot so we never see her. Ana Laura came with us to the baptism on Saturday and loved it. She said it scared her at first because she wasn´t prepared for what it was but then said she got this great warmth in her heart as she was sitting waiting for the little girl who had gotten baptized to change clothes. She wrote little Victoria a note of congratulations and thanks for letting her be there. It was Great!!
I love this work. I am so grateful for every day we get to be here and testify!!!
I have so many more stories to tell you all someday. We´ll get there. Basically, Heavenly Father is a God of miracles. I love it. I get to see them everyday work in people´s lives and hearts.
I got really sick yesterday with a terrible migraine (like old-school style) that KILLED me. I was OUT after church. I can´t even believe it. It frightened Hna Shelley I think but after sleeping, I felt tons better. I thought after sleeping all day, I wouldn´t be able to sleep through the night, but I SURE did! It just goes to show HOW tired I am. It´s bad. I have to take care of myself because I can´t just be taking days off, so we´ll be planning better, resting better and figuring it out. My body can´t give out on me yet!! I still have lots of time left!!! :)
Love you all, 
Until next week
I´ll tell you about my new district next time. They are cool. I miss Elders Herrera and Manjarres though....bummer.
Love you!
Hermana Gonzalez

P.S. In response to Hna Dunn´s email from this last week,
 I DO get your emails and I love reading about how you are doing! Hopefully you are getting my emails too. I will send you some pics and I know that you are doing great in San Ignacio!!! Keep rocking. Oh, by the way, I about DIED in the cyber reading about the spider incident. How I miss our TRIO! Hnas Dunn, Erickson and me. Wow, what a team. We were great. Love you dear. See you later!

March 1, 2012

Peanut butter, tights and poptarts....could a Sister missionary ask for anything more???

Email for February 28 (p-day was on Tuesday this week)

I think a BAPTISM would be pretty news worthy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Remember that one time we found a GOLDEN investigator and three weeks later he got BAPTIZED?!?!?! Yeah, 
That would be the one and only Enrique Segundo Cisterna Miran. He is so amazing and just feels so good about everything that´s gone down in the last 3 weeks. We were teaching him last night and he said with teary eyes that he is so grateful that we knocked on his door. We had been looking for his dad but the Lord knew that Enrique was prepared. 
The baptism was amazing. It all started last week after the baptism we went to with Enrique. He was feeling big time excitement about this past Sunday, the 26, when he knew it would be his turn. With everything that we taught him and invited him to commit to live he would just say, ¨ok, I’ll do it. I´m just sorry I didn´t know this before.¨ We had the incredible opportunity to have District Conference this weekend too so he went to EVERY meeting he could with President Gulbrandsen in town. He went to and loved the adult session, a special meeting for new members and investigators that President Gulbrandsen planned and then the general session. After the General session, Enrique dressed in white along with Hermano Alvaro Robledo and they walked into the FREEZING Ushuaia water (because the water heater went out again! but he was DETERMINED that if we could find someone that could handle the cold, he´d be getting baptized, warm or cold water aside). It was incredible. He asked us a couple days ago if there was any way that his deceased mother could be baptized too. OF COURSE we said and taught him about the power of the ordinances in the Temple. He started to cry with joy and it was incredible to presence the start of a huge tree of people that have been waiting for their children to find and accept the gospel. Enrique will be the door for so many. LOVE IT!
He wants to share the gospel with his whole family that are all over the island. Rio Grande, Tolhuin, etc. At the end of the baptismal service (in which, Hna Shelley and I sang AGAIN and AGAIN I was dying of nerves.) we sang families can be together forever. He could sing for the tears in his eyes. President Gulbrandsen was up on the stand, saw Enrique´s emotion and then looked at me with that look of ´he gets it´ and such greatness!! I love this whole life! After the service, Hna Shelley and I couldn´t wipe huge smiles off our faces. We giggle and were happy, happy, happy despite the snow and cold. Nothing can get us down. Here we go off to work some more!! This feeling of the Spirit changing lives is ADDICTING!
We are getting great people in our lives. Jesús and Monica are the NEXT ones to get in the water. I hope. They do have to get married first and that could prove problematic with the silly argentines that just go on strike sometimes so everything goes kerplop. Like the weeks the gas people were on strike and we couldn´t pay our bill so we were afraid of being without heat or hot water for a while. Oh Argentina, how you have my heart! haha
Love this work. I know that it is the Marvelous Work that the prophets prophesied of. We do the Work His way and Heavenly Father does the MARVELOUS. I am eternally grateful for this opportunity. LOVE IT!
Love you all,
Have a wonderful week!
P.S. thanks for the amazing package, the tights are such a great amazing happiness in my life!!!!! SAVED ME! And the peanut butter? LOVE!! And poptarts? AMAZING! haha thanks for loving me!!! May the Lord bless and keep you!