Merry Christmas!! Today is Christmas Eve, wooohooo! I really can feel the spirit of Christmas so strongly here. I will be honest, I was a little freaked out about this Christmas. Because you all know how much I love to watch "It`s a Wonderful Life" with all of you, and do bread visits, and see all of the family and friends. And the music and food and everything! So I was worried it would be a sad and lonely Christmas, seeing as we can`t leave the pension all daytomorrow. But I really am just now realizing what Christmas is. These things are fun and aren`t bad at all... but really the birth of Jesus Christ is EVERYTHING. The fact that the King of us all, both body and spirit, came in the most humble of ways, in the form of a perfect little baby. I am so grateful for this Christmas I have to think and ponder on Him. I am so happy!
Last week we had our Christmas activity and went to Rosario with our Zone. Presidente and Hermana Zanni and their family came, and we played games, made cookies, and sang in a geriactrico (I think that translates to Old Folks Home). It was so good to see everyone but even better to see the little ladies and men crying as we sang. They have had such hard lives, and to know that someone still loves them really made the whole room move with the spirit.
The same happened on Sunday, when we went to a hospital with the stake and sang Christmas songs. After, we were able to go into the rooms of the children and women in labor, and share the Christmas Story with them. We read from Alma 7:10-12. And young mothers without support cried with us as they had such great physical and emotional pain, and we told them of how much their Savior loves them. Oh wow it is so hard to see sad things, but so good to share the hope that our Savior gives us. It is so amazing to feel the spirit work through you and give you the words to say. I have never given birth, nor been in the lonely place that they are in, but I was given the words to say in the moment I needed them. My testimony is growing so much.
It has been a good week but weird as my companion goes home on Monday. Always rough in the last week of the mission. Mica and Ivan are at a stopping point right now, but we are working through. I am studying a lot about the Apòstle Paul. I feel like the prophets truly are my best friends! Always have advice and can help me with whatever it is that I need. Mom, I got the letters you sent! I read all of them in a bus as we road through Rosario. And I love what all of you said, I laughed until I cried hahah but it was just because I was so happy. People probably thought I was crazy! I will tell you more tomorrow when we talk, because I want to talk personally with everyone! Love you so much!
I have to go but Love you and pray for Capitan Bermudez that the members can soften their hearts!
Our leaders called us a few days ago and told us that our mission, the Argentina Rosario Mission, will be divided into two different missions. It will become the Argentina Santa Fe mission, and Argentina Rosario mission. And it will happen in July! What this means: my past areas will be in a totally separate mission. And I might not end up finishing my mission in the Argentina Rosario mission. Wow.
Makes you want to cryThis week was a good one. We saw a lot of miracles. First of all, Mica and Ivan have had a 100% change. They have this light and hope in their faces that has never exhisted before! It is so beautiful to see, there seriously is nothing like it. We were walking on the street the other day, and we heard a little voice yell "Hermanas!" And we turned around and it was their three year old. They pulled along next to us all piled up on their motorcycle, and they were just beaming from ear to ear. So happy and energized! How different from the couple we met that depended solely on cigarettes to have relief, and spent all day watching movies and not knowing how amazingly great their lives could become.
Hard Thing We also had divisions this week with the Hermanas Capacitadoras (I think it translates to sister training leaders). They came down from Parana, and we had a great time. But it was kind of sad because it was the last time I would see Hermana Rasband for a year since she goes home after this transfer (along with my companion). But I am grateful for the time I still have to keep on working!
MIRACLE The next day I was sick and we couldn`t leave from the apartment accept to buy gatorade de manzana (apple Gatorade). But it was such a blessing! Because we planned and did all we had to do, and I was taking a nap in bed (with permission of course) and suddenly we heard a million hard things hitting the tin roof. It was raining rocks!! I guess that happens here sometimes. But it just came out of no where, and if we had been outside it could have been bad. And it was only in our area that it happened!! So I am grateful to have been sick, it truly was a blessing. By the way I am no longer sick now, it was just from something I ate (probably some raw meat).
And church was a great day. There were two less active members in the ward that I have never seen come to church! We have been working with them for a while so that was so great to see. And Mica and Ivan came as well! And she cried and said "Hermoso." Means beautiful. And it is so amazing to see this... she never thought she had any worth, and now she can see it. Ivan as well... his eyes teared up as we spoke of guiding stars in our lives. Today we are going to put a date on their marriage and baptism! I am so grateful to be here at this time and for all of the help and strength that the Spirit sends to us. Heavenly Father loves us and Christ lives.
Okay I officially realized something this week. Our testimonies and faith only grow under not-so-great circumstances. It is easy to be happy under easy circumstances, and another thing entirely to be happy when nothing goes right.
For example: it was really hot this week. But I can`t express the heat... in the night, you have to choose if you`re more hot, or more tired. If you`re more hot, you get up and show IN YOUR PAJAMAS and get back in bed with the fan pointed on your wet body. If you are more tired, you just sweat and try to go back to bed.
Then... our water turned off! We don`t have water in our apartment... so we can`t wash our clothes, our dishes, or ourselves! It is gross to say the least. We also can`t go to the bathroom...
Then it rained really hard, as it always does after this heat. And everyone makes Torta Frita here when it rains... which is like a fried scone. And every single house makes it, and every single house offers it to us! And it is just a lot of fried bread to eat... it slows us down a bit.
It always scares us when it rains on Sunday, because that is always the biggest excuse that people use to not come to church. But we prayed hard. And as we waited outside on Sunday, after 8 sundays in a row (almost two months) without having investigators in the chapel... some members told us to stop waiting. "No one is coming in this rain," they said, pointing to the flooded streets. I was so mad when I heard this! We need to keep the faith!!
Mica and Ivan answered our phone call as we waited for them outside. "We can`t come, chicas. We only have a bike and in this rain it`s impossible. And we are in Rosario right now." Well my heart just dropped. "It`s weird, something always comes up," Mica said over the phone.
We went and sat down in sacrament. Just before it began, we heard someone say, "Hermanas." We turned around, and there was Natalia! She is the mother of a family of less active members that we have been teaching for 2.5 months. It has been 8 years since they`ve attended church! I was so happy. We ran out and hugged them, and they came and sat with us. I was playing with the little girl who is 5, Bianca, when I heard the door open. I turned around and my jaw literally dropped open. MICA AND IVAN! I was so happy I swear I could have died right then and there. They were soaking wet, and had come by bus. They came and sat down next to me, and were smiling so big it just was the sweetest thing to see. I think we were all smiling a lot!
But I see that we need to be diligent and grateful in all circumstances. Like I said before, it is easy to be happy when all is well. But we have been fighting a lot to see this take place... and it truly isn`t until the very last day of the week, in the third hour of church, or (this literally happened) at 9:15 at night when you find the people that have been waiting for you. And the test is how long we can keep smiling and hoping and walking. Keep the FAITH. During all of the storms.
This week was exactly like those weeks that you always hear about in the life of a missionary... but it is so different to actually live it.
It was rough. All of our lessons were falling through. We didn`t see progress in any of our investigators or less active families. We felt that we were losing a lot of time, and we also began having that creeping feeling of "maybe it is all our fault."
We went to stake conference on Saturday night, and it was all about helping our friends from the premortal life. About finding them and seeking them and helping them receive the happiness of the gospel. It was great... I left knowing that I have found some of those people, and that many more I still have yet to find.
But in the Sunday session we were a little bummed out... only two families from our entire ward came to the conference, and no investigators. We came home and maybe cried a little bit :)
I have two minutes left to write so I am going super fast. We went to a less active family, and we visit them every week. But they never seem to progress... they are sealed in the temple and have 5 kids but haven´t gone to church in 8 years. The mom´s name is Natalia. And as we taught, they told us that they are coming to church this Sunday and aren´t going to let anything stop them. They are going to go back to the temple! And Natalie told us, "Thank you for your persistance and insistance... becauase you coming every week gave us the strength we needed to start going back to church. Thank you for always coming." Ah I could have cried I was sooo happy to hear this... because we never know when something we are doing is actually making a huge difference. They have two little girls, (5) and (4) and two boys they are so awesome and ready to be baptized. After 10 weeks of visits, they are going to come to church!!
Love you all! Got to go. I will send more pics next week.