Monday, July 28, 2014

July 28, 2014 - Gálvez is Amazing!

Gálvez is amazing.  Okay I am just going to describe one of my days to you, because it is just so difficult for me to say exactly what life is like here.  

A few days ago we had quite the day.  First we went to Veronica´s house.  They live in a villa (which is the poor part of town.  Metal and scrap homes mostly, and just really humble living conditions).  The home is dark and cold and very dirty... and she has three children. Her job is to clean the bathrooms in the Boliche (a club where people dance and do drugs and such).  She works late nights and early mornings.  But her and the father of her children want to join the church.  As we spoke with her, she told us of how much she loves the Book of Mormon.  I can just see that it is a light in her very dark world.  She told us of the three Kingdoms: and how she wants to live in the Celestial Kingdom with Heavenly Father.  Not the "moon or stars."  She knows!  She knows that this is good, that it makes her happy.  She is discovering that she has self worth and potential!  It truly is beautiful.  But all the while we talked with her, a dog was ripping apart a chicken right beneath my chair.  Bloody and gross and it smelled like something had died (because something really had.  And it was being torn apart right under my legs).  It was so hard not to cringe as her sickly children were lighting paper on fire and we had to pause the lesson because we didn´t want the house to burn down or a child to get hurt!  They don´t have time or money to do the paperwork for marriage.  So pray for them, as we are!  

It is just so hard to see people in such difficult circumstances, but I see the light in their eyes when we come and discuss Jesus Christ and God´s plan for us.

Later that day we went to visit an old woman in our branch that is a menos activo (less active).  Her name is Ebelia.  I noticed that she had a lot of artwork, and I asked her if she liked art.  She said that she does, and she teaches a class.  She has good taste!  But this meeting was really hard for me, because I could see how alone she is.  We asked her how old she was, and she said she just turned 74 on Tuesday.  We said, "Oh, what did you do for your birthday?"  You want to know her answer?  "Nothing, no one remembered that it was my birthday.  I didn´t celebrate it."  She has no husband and no children and lives with a lot of dogs.  As we talked and talked I just felt her loneliness.  Hermana Boren said that she was excited to live with Heavenly Father again.  And Ebelia said, "Me too.  I think I am ready to go."  It was like a knife.  Good thing I didn´t really understand what was going on.  She then proceeded to tell us about how she has had times when she just can´t get out of bed because it´s so hard; and then she remembers Jesus Christ.  And she can do it.

This led us to make a new meta (goal) for our branch.  We want to make a ward family.  We don´t see the love and friendship in our branch like we have in the past.  We want everyone to love and lift one another.  So, our goal is: Create a ward family.

Anyways, we planned a birthday party for her on Sunday and Hermana Boren made an amazing cake.  My companion is amazing.

The last lesson of the night was with José and Sol; a couple that are on date for baptism on August 16th.  José is 28 and Sol 17 (this is really common in Argentina.  Most couples are about 10-15 years apart...).  We went to their little store that we always teach them in (I don´t really get it.  Basically there´s just a few pencils and pens for sale..), and when we got there Sol was crying.  She was quite hysterical.  We were super confused and concerned, so Hermana Boren asked her if she was okay.  José says that they had just been talking about their relationship.  We walked in right in the middle of a DTR!  So awkward.  So we said we could leave and come back another time... but we both felt that we needed to stay.  We began with singing "I am a Child of God."  Wow.  The spirit just flooded the little, weird store.  They told us that they feel something everytime we are there. And I´m guessing you know where we went from there.

Anyways... I went home that night with a really heavy heart.  I feel a large mantle on my shoulders, because I love all of these people and I want to give them all I have.  But I also have so much to learn.  I am so inadequate.  I only pray that I can learn fast so that I can do my best! I have been blessed with the best trainer out here, no joke. 

Birthday party for Ebelia

Jacque and James are on my pass along cards

Monday, July 21, 2014

Arrived in Argentina!


Okay so I am typing so fast on this keyboard that is really hard to use, so I apologize for any errors.

I seriously don't even know how to begin to describe this past week.  In one word: MIRACULOUS.

Okay so I am just going to bullet point some things.  Okay here it goes.  Wow my mind is going a thousand miles an hour.

  • Argentina: the weather here has been so good.  The days are nice and mild and the nights are a bit chilly... it kind of feels like Utah in the fall.  The people are awesome.  In Buenos Aires they are super fashionable and it reminded me of New York.  The people are so beautiful too... tan skin and dark hair but green eyes.  
  • My Trainer!!:  Hermana Boren is my trainer and I am the most blessed person in the world to have her.  She is sincerely so amazing I don't even know what else to say.  She is from Highland, Utah and speaks spanish like a nativo.  People always think that she is from here.  We stick out a lot because we are so blond and fair with blue eyes, and it is kind of funny when people look at our name tags and faces with such scrutiny.  But I love it!  It is such an honor to be able to represent Christ and His work.  Hermana Boren is so sweet and a great teacher; you should see her in our lessons.  She knows exactly what to say and how to speak to both children and spiteful men.  She always has the spirit, and I am so humbled to be with her.  I am grateful for this time I have with her.  Okay so here is the scary/sad part... this is her last transfer.  Normally everyone trains for 12 weeks, which means that I should be with her for two transfers.  But she leaves in FIVE weeks!  Do you know what that means?  I only have six weeks to train.  She wasn't going to tell me this.  She was going to tell me right before she left... but it accidently slipped on our first bus ride.  And according to her my face just went pale, because I feel extremely inadequate to be doing this!  My jaw literaly dropped.  I was literally speechless.  But I know that this is happening for a reason, and I need to absorb and learn and enjoy all this blessed time I have to be with her.  She is so amazing, I am so grateful.
  • G'alvez: My area!  I don't know how this is happening, but I got the most amazing area in all of Rosario.  Probably all of Argentina!  Or the world.  We are about six hours outside of Rosario.  And we are in the pueblo of G'alvez, and the nearest missionaries to us are about an hour and a half away!  We have this place all to ourselves.  And I love it so much.  The streets are clean and the people so friendly.  And the homes look like a spanish colonial... sometimes European. But it is nice because there are also more humble or rural places.  Like sheet metal for walls and cement floors everywhere and things like that.  Dirt and rust and wrappers around.  Dad, it kind of looks like Milipillas in Mexico... We spend a lot of times in both areas, and I feel that I have the best of both worlds.  Very humble areas, and more cityish areas.  Okay and get this: we are doing a "white wash." That means that both of us are new to this area.  So we are meeting the members and investigators and the streets all for the first time.  It is a very humbling experience: because supposedly this is a very difficult thing to do.  Particularly because are without any other missionaries... but I love it!
  • Church: So our branch is tiny! On Sunday we had about 9 people not including us. And guess what... we give a twenty minute talk every week, teach the primary, lead the music, teach Gospel Doctrine and Relief Society.  So on Sunday I taught primary, while my amazing companion taught Gospel Doctrine/Relief Society, and later she gave the twenty minute talk.  Sorry I know a dash belongs there but I can't figure out this keyboard.  But Heavenly Father is helping me so much... I was able to talk to the members and communicate just fine.  I could understand almost everything they said, and relay back what I needed to.  We are strengthening this branch, and I am giving it my all to leave it a strong ward with faithful members and the Priesthood.
  • Language: It all depends on the Gift of Tongues.  Sometimes I can understand what is happening, and say all that I need to.  And those times I feel the spirit so strongly and I know that it is not my own doing, but Heavenly Father's.  Other times I am in a lesson and I feel very confused.  "Wait, why are they talking about Catholic clothing?  Where did I come into this conversation?  Why are they flinging their arms all around the place?  I think that was a swear word."  Sometimes that is what I am thinking.  But I always can look to Hermana Boren, because she is just always ready and knows what to say.  I truly believe that she responds the way that Christ would.  I am just trying to absorb everything.  
  • Our apartment: at night when I finally lay down I am OUT.  Wow the work of the Lord is draining.  But so worth it.  I will send you pictures.  On the first day I learned how to deal with a finicky pilot light, take apart a table, put together a bunk bed, and many other adventurous things.
  • Miracles: I don't even know how or where to begin.  It's like I said in a previous email: things are sacred and it is hard to just talk about over the computer.  But believe me, there have been many.  One is this family we are teaching: Sergio is the father.  His children are Milagros, Gabriel, Ailen, and Esteban.  And they are all getting baptized on August 16th!  Don't think that I had anything to do with this... it was all the doing of the sister missionaries that were here before us.  I just have the pleasure of teaching them. They are so sweet I love them so much.  Just the deepest type of love there is.  We pray harder for our investigators than I ever have for myself, that's how my companion put it. Let me just say that G'alvez is white and ready to harvest.  God has been preparing people to hear, and I am so grateful to be a part of it.
  • Food: Well I can't say that I love it.  But it could definitely be worst.  I've seen pictures of Sarah's food in Peru... yuck.  But we eat a lot of pasta and meat and bread.  Breakfast I have yogurt.  Lunch is HUGE.  Dinner isn't until 9:30 at night, and it's really small.  But I love you all so much!

I love it here so much.  Sincerely I do.  I feel the Lord strengthening me and helping me everyday.  I love these people, and I love this work.  It is so amazing to sit in a little cinder block home on a broken chair and teach a couple that are not married but have four children, about the Atonement.  About how Christ has suffered all, and He knows our pains and sorrows.  I am so grateful to be here in this area, with this companion.  For the time being all is well... and I know that hard times lie ahead.  But for now I am grateful for the light I can see in the eyes of these people across from me, who are hearing of their self worth for the first time.  That they have a Heavenly Father who loves them and they can communicate with Him.  It is such a wonderful spirit.

MIssion Home

Hitting the streets

Mission President

Saturday, July 12, 2014

July 12, 2014 - MTC Week 6 - Last email in the U.S.

Olympus High School at the MTC
Shout out to Keri Bengtzen---thank you so much for the bread!  We needed it, as you can tell.  It honestly made my day.
Last picture with my zone!  Love them all so much.  So many laughs and cries.
Last picture with Hermana Mechum.  Such an inspired mentor.
Ellie Degurda.  We played soccer together muchos anos ago!  She is incredible.  We have become such good friends and support for one another. She's going to Croatia.
I love this picture.
My first companion: Hermana Robinson.

These hermanas are going to Toronto.  So awesome.


Okay this is actually the official last time.  I have met so many amazing people here, I can't imagine never having known them.  And that is my hope that ahead lies a better future with more people to love!  And even though an enormous task lies before me, I feel hope.  Because I know I can't do it alone.  That's just a fact!  But with God I can.  Through the grace of the atonement, I can.  Through the guidance of the Holy Ghost, I can.  

The other day someone said that people over-complicate a mission.  It is just making friends and loving people, and then sharing with them what matters most to you.  I am so grateful for this opportunity I have, and for the eternities that I can share with people.

I don't know what else to say.  But an Elder told me in his departing words to STAND ON THE WALL.  And that's what we all must do.  Stand on the wall-- together.  The world may mock us and arrows rain down upon our heads.  And it will be hot and slippery and your voice will be cracking and hoarse.  But don't lose hope!  Because the wall is our rock.  And we are here to deliver a message to those who have no idea that life can be joyous.  And the life to come can be as well.  Love you all so much!  Les Quiero!  (Moroni 8:3)

Mucho Amor,

Hermana Eleanor Briggs 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

July 8, 2014 - MTC Week 5

A moment of chillin' in the MTC.

Us with one of the best maestros ever, Hermana Child!  She served in Chile.

Happy 4th of July!

July 4th!

Well it's official... In a week I will be in Argentina!  Probably on a bus on my way to Rosario.  I don't really know how to describe what I feel.  Kind of like I did before I left for the MTC... only this time I know that I can do it.  Because I've done it before!

To be honest I don't know what to say about this week.  Not that it hasn't been filled with miracles and blessings everyday, but sometimes things are so sacred that it's hard to share with others when you're not face to face.  It's difficult to capture the beauty and significance of it.

On the 4th of July we were able to go to a devotional.  And then we watched 17 Miracles and the fireworks at the Stadium of Fire.  Just barely missed Carrie Underwood!  A lot happened that day that helped me to learn more of my purpose and grow closer to my Savior.  But like I said, it's difficult to just type out.

I love being Sister Training Leader.  The new Hermanas are so awesome, and it is amazing to see the growth that they have made-- both physically and spiritually-- in less than a week!  When I interview them, I feel so much love for them.  I am so grateful for the example that they are to me, and my opportunity to serve them.

I have been learning about how to teach others.  Basically it all comes down to one thing: we love them and so does God.  When others see how much we love and care about them, they feel our testimony and know it's true.  There is this one Elder, Elder Soto, and he just left for Ecuador.  I can't even describe him to you.  He truly had the Countenance of Christ.  Everyone was drawn to him.  He loved so deeply, and showed it through everything he did.  He is such a great example to me, just because of who he is.  Not what he says or does, but who he is.  That can only come from constant faith.  Being virtuous and serving others.  That is when your heart changes, and being a disciple is not only a commandment.  It is something that we want to follow and do.

I am so sorry if this seems uninteresting or boring.  Guarantee that next week I will have a lot of crazy stories!  

Here is a quote from Hermana Cannon that I just love.  "I have the gift of the Holy Spirit.  It's truth, isn't it?"  We do have the gift of the Holy Spirit.  How often do you utilize that gift?  How often do you call upon it's power and let it be your guide?  I don't do it near enough.  That is a large part of what sets apart a true disciple and a member.  Wow I learn a lot from Hermana Cannon.  It will be so sad to say "Hasta Luego" to people.  But hey, that means "Until Later."  And it's the truth... I will see these people again. 

Much love, Hermana Eleanor Briggs

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

July 1, 2014 - Week 4 MTC

Hermana Cannon is next to me.  So grateful to know her!
My Branch Presidency wives.  My moms!

Hola familia!

So I get my travel plans this week, and next week is my last week here in the MTC!  Extraña (weird)!  But exciting.  

Okay, never have I so fervently felt the words "I need thee every hour." Hermana Robinson and I are teaching our first real investigator.  Her name is Natalie, and she is a friend of someeone who works here.  She is from Nicaragua.  And it hurts me to hear her say, "Why do I need to thank God for things when I pray?  I achieved these things by myself."  I see how much the Lord is in my life... uplifting me every step of the way!  I am so grateful for all of the beautiful things He sends me. 

One in particular is this new friend I have.  Hermana Alima Cannon.  So the other day I was having a somewhat rough time, and I felt prompted to talk to these two girls that were doing their companionship study.  So I called over to them, trying to strike up a conversation.  And wow.  I think it was I who needed the help... not her.  The two hermanas dragged their chairs over by ours (we were sitting under the shade of a tree against the creek.  The sun was just dipping down).  An hour went by of just talking.  I talked to Hermana Cannon about all of the blessings that come from the mission.  She said, "I am serving a mission because I love God."  The spirit pierced me when she said that.  It was all my mind all night... and all the next day.  She said it with such conviction.  With such power.  I too, love my God, and serve for Him.  But I need to have that on my mind more as I go about my purpose.  Then, I shared with her a poem that I was thinking about writing (she loves writing also, and we have a lot in common it kind of amazes me).  The next day... she came up to me with a song written to the words of my poem!  Who does that!?  It was so beautiful.  She sang it for me and some other people, and it touched all of us.  We are working on it, some Elders are involved as well in this process.  How miraculous is that?

All the "The Spirit of God" "How Firm a Foundation" and "Come, Come Ye Saints" keep me pushing through!  The words feel so close to me.  They are my mission.  My eyes are opening! In the words of Joseph Smith, shall we not go on in so great a cause?

In 2 Nephi 10:20 it reads, "Seeing that our merciful God has given us so great knowledge concerning these things, let us remember him, and lay aside our sins, and not hang down our heads, for we are not cast off; nevertheless, we have been driven out of the land of our inheritance; but we have been led to a better land, for the Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an isle of the sea."

When we stay close to our Heavenly Father and honor or covenants, only better things lie ahead.  And Jesus Christ was on the water, too.  He calmed the sea, and has seen every wave and torrent out there.  And conquered.  And so can we, through Him.

I can only imagine what it will be like to stand in the presence and glory of Jesus Christ.  Because I know how I feel when I stand in the presence of His servants.  And I am moved--very heart and soul-- to come unto Him.  The love is so strong.

You should definitely go to the New York Times website and find the "1 in 8 million people" campaign.  I think this might be the link.

I think you will all really like it.  We us this link get to know an "investigator."  We watch one about someone, and one of us acts and responds as that person.  The other is the missionary.  I love it.  It is so beautiful to look into someone's life and be a guide for them to happiness.

I was called as Sister Training Leader (which is the female equivelent to a Zone Leader).  I am very humbled and grateful for this opportunity I have to serve.  We are getting four new hermanas this Wednesday!  I can't wait to help them along.  It will be a strength to me.  

Love, Hermana Briggs