Wednesday, August 27, 2014

August 26, 2014 - Waiting for my new companion

Hola from Santa Fe!
Today I am the city of Santa Fe, which I think is beautiful.  I imagine it looks a lot like Europe... maybe a tiny bit dirtier :)
I am waiting to receive my new companion tomorrow... and I am so excited!  It was difficult to say "hasta luego" to my "media naranja" (which literally translates to ´half an orange´ and means my other half).  I am so grateful for the mountains that Hermana Boren and I were able to climb together, and grateful to climb even more! "Don´t live with regrets.  Live with learning for the future." -Hermana Boren.  She told me this on a particularly self-doubtful day.  I hope it can help one of you.
Okay... we have a less active member of the ward names Electra.  She is pushing 80 years old I think, and she is so sweet.  She wants to learn English, and was a professor of humanities and social studies for years.  She is maybe 4´4" because I believe that I am a foot taller than her... and she is just the sweetest thing!  Always wearing pink or purple scarves and baggy sweaters and maybe some sort of a crazy coso in her white hair.  Whenever we work with the elderly, I am reminded of President Monson and his love and service for them.  They have so much to teach me.. they have seen so many things!  I hope that I too can teach them something. 
Electra´s house is like a story book. Or maybe a haunted house.  There are stacks and piles of books with layers upon layers of dust.  Spider webs are everywhere and she has two really creepy refridgerators with who-knows-what hidden inside.  But I love going over there because she has an energy and spirit that is so lively! She is so ready to learn.
Happy birthday Amelia Mae!!
I am giving you a big hug from Argentina.  Be ready for me when I come home... because I am now a lot more huggy than I was before.  The Latin culture is rubbing off on me :)

Monday, August 18, 2014

August 18, 2014

I have to be the most blessed person in the world to be here right now.  Yesterday I was able to see my first baptism.  Sergio and his two children, Aylén and Gabriel.  Esteban is seven and will join them next year!
I just feel so grateful.  The truth is that I had the privilege of teaching them their lessons... other Hermanas (who are so awesome) found them in the beginning and were later transfered.  I am just so grateful to know this family and see their progression-- they are such an example to me. 
It is so humbling.  During the confirmations of his children, I could hear Sergio softly sobbing behind me.  Their faces were lit up all throughout the day, and their Spirits so bright.  I only wish I could convey the happiness and warmth of the moment.  It was beautiful.  They already are trying to share all that they know.  He can see how much it has blessed his life, and
wants others to feel the same happiness.  When he bore his testimony, he spoke of the darkness and despair and hopelessness that he once had.  His children were all that kept him going in the morning and at night.  He was yearning for the truth and guidance and help.  That was when he found the missionaries.
We had some adventures before the baptism!  Cleaning out the font (in our skirts), trying to clean up all of the water that flooded the President´s office and the primary room, and working on rounding up people to attend the service.  The font is in a garage that is connected to our little chapel... so that will explain why the pictures look like we are in an auto shop.  But the truth is, it felt totally normal to me!! I am only just now realizing that is weird.
Hermana Boren (my trainer) is leaving me this Sunday.  We were talking, and decided that it is kind of like my comfort blanket is being ripped off!  I will have to be in charge of this area... I don´t know much spanish, I don´t know the roads very well, I still struggle to use the keys here (the locks and keys are super weird), and I definitely don´t know how to teach very well.  But one thing I do know is that I love these people.  And I know that Heavenly Father won´t let my weaknesses impede His children from progressing.  I am completely inadequate, but with the Grace of the Atonement I can be made strong.
Next week we will see where I am and what I am doing!  I know I have amazing leaders that will help me through... and Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost.

Love you all! Keep on.
Love, Hermana Eleanor Briggs

Baptism Day! (notice font in the background)
Excited for upcoming baptism

Monday, August 11, 2014

August 11, 2014

Okay funny story...

We were having lunch last week with Pichy and Daddy (I don´t think they know what their names mean hahah) and they found out that dad is in the film business.  They said he should come to film them and their family... because there is enough drama there to make us rich!  It was really funny.

Also, I apologize for lack of pictures.  The computers here are sketchy and if I plug it in a wrong one it will erase my memory card... so hopefully next week I can get a better computer.  But trust me... there´s a lot of good ones coming your way.

I have been thinking a lot this week about how discipleship requires sacrifice.  If we aren´t progressing and moving forward in testimony and service... we are moving backward.  There is no stagnant rest. It is so important for us to always look for ways to strengthen our testimonies and those of the people around us as well.  It is called "The Cause of the Christians" in Alma 48:10.. and it is the same cause today as existed then.  We must follow Alma 48:7 and prepare our minds for the fight ahead.  This generation, the the preceeding, and the coming all have a large responsibility that requires sacrifice.  But we know that anything we sacrifice is never lost... we receive so many blessings.  I hope and pray that we can all find the strength to not be as the Zoramites in Alma 43:4.  Those that stood on the middle ground eventually all fell... we must choose and follow up on those choices.  Forever striving to be better.  That is the meaning of Discipleship.  And "Enduring to the End."

Here is a way that I have seen this.
This week was harder than the rest.. I think because Hermana Boren is going to leave in two weeks and I just know that I´ll be here in Gálvez with a lot more responsibility.  Plus she is amazing and I will miss her!  Anyways... we were both having a really hard day this past week.  And it was night time and we were going to Sergio´s home (the father of the three little kids and they are all getting baptized on SUNDAY!).  When we got there, his children weren´t home.  And we can´t enter the home without a woman of 10 years or older... so we stood outside.

Sergio is such an example to me.  He is truly converted.  He has changed so much.  He testified to us out there!  He sensed, through the Spirit, that we were having a hard time.  He shared his testimony with us, and ended by telling us that we have so many things before us that we can´t see.  Miracles that we will behold.  Spirits that are waiting to hear, that we have the privilege of seeking out.  He told us how through Jesus Christ, all things are possible.  

I know that this is true.  I know it with my whole heart.  That because Jesus Christ died for us, we can repent and become whole.  We can achieve the enabling power of grace to overcome our weaknesses, to step up to our callings, to see the light in dark times, and to live again with our Heavenly Father.  Our Heavenly Father who loves us so much.  I can feel a little bit of that love through the children´s prayers in our primary class.  As they whisper softly to please protect their dad and the missionaries, and ask to not feel alone, and thank Him for families and the happy feelings that the gospel gives to them.  They are so simple and sincere... I only hope to reflect what I am learning from them.

Sometimes we are so happy that we just want to cry! We decided we need to space out all of the miracles and tender moments because our hearts just can´t fit it all!  Like after Sundayyesterday... Hermana Boren taught primary for two hours and gave a 20 minute talk (wow) and I taught gospel principles to 9 adults and lead the music (yikes)!  We had the highest attendance in all of our time here... 17 people (including us)!  The spirit was so strong with the members... I love to see their eyes as they discover new things and decide to renew their coventants and make changes in their lives.  It is so amazing to behold.  Every morning (well most mornings) I wake up and just smile in the mirror and can´t stop because I am so happy.  I am just trying to convey to you how happy service makes you... especially this type of service.  It is so hard but so rewarding.

Love you all so much.  

Love, Hermana Eleanor Briggs

Monday, August 4, 2014

August 4, 2014

It has been such a maravilloso week!  Seriously... everyday we are so tired when we get home.  We plan for the next day, eat a tiny dinner, and get in bed.  We are so tired, but we keep on talking and laughing in the dark room in our bunk beds (I´m on the bottom bunk).  Hermana Boren said the other night, "We should be sick of each other... we`ve been talking all day!" Then we just kept on laughing.

I am just so happy.  You know you are happy when you can't stop smiling during a prayer at a member or investigator`s house.  When you hear a 7-year-old boy sincerely bless you and your companion and thank God for sending us.  And we walk home from homes, even on a hard day, just in awe at how beautiful the stars are here in Argentina.

So many times you see people fall who once knew... or still know.  I am never going to let that happen.  I have been thinking a lot about Discipleship.  "If ye love me, feed my sheep."  That is the way to not fall... we must always serve and look for ways to share the gospel.  Here is a really humbling story I had.

We are teaching a less active family.  Elizabet, the mother, is a large woman with a very raspy voice and forceful beso (you greet everyone with a kiss).  As we taught them, I noticed that I was feeling somewhat frustrated with the way that she was yelling at her children.  Because her voice is so raspy I had a really hard time understanding her... and I wasn`t focused on what she was saying.  When we left their home, I noted to my companion that I didn´t appreciate the way she yelled at her kids. At the end of our meeting, I had felt that I needed to share about self-worth, so I bore my testimony about our potential and the worth of our souls.

 Fast forward to later that night, when Hermana Boren asked me if I understood what Elizabet had said during our lesson.  I replied that I did not.  She then told me of Elizabet´s story... her mother left her family when she was nine years old.  She was the oldest of six children, and was left to raise her family.  Her father raped and abused her.  When she was 14 she became pregnant with a boyfriend she had, but lost the baby because of her father´s abuse.

I can´t even tell you how I felt after I heard this.  I had been sitting in the lesson and not paying any attention to what she was saying... only dwelling on other things that were running through my mind.  My own pride and ignorance kept me from understanding her... and I can see now why she is the way she is.  It was a very humbling experience for me.  I am grateful to see how the gospel can completely change someone´s life.  Even someone with so dark a past as Elizabet.

We also got to celebrate the 9th birthday of Ailen... one of our investigators that is going to be baptized on August 16th!!  She is so sweet.  It is humbling to hear the father of the family, Sergio, say, "No you eat all of the chicken, I am full.  The smell of it cooking already filled me up."  It is obvious that they don`t have enough money to feed all of us, and he is so sweet and hard-working.  They asked me to cut the cake, and I accidently dropped a few of the pieces.  Cutting a cake in front of people has been one of my biggest fears ever since I served at that  wedding for Chantry and I destroyed all of those cakes... it's just so much pressure!

Well wish me luck... I am teaching Gospel Principles next sunday to all of the adults!  And we will (hopefully) have a lot more people there than usual, because will begin in the afternoon rather than the morning (Argentine´s hate waking up).

Love you all so much.  Read Alma 37... verse 33 until the end is all about how we can be disciples.  Doctrine and Covenants 11 as well.

Love, Hermana Eleanor Briggs