Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Week Eleven - Fonts, fasting, and my trainer's final feast

Hola mi familia!

Wow.  Where to begin?  This week flew by.  Well . . . it started in Quito.  We had verification (since I’m still a greenie and all) to see how training was going and to learn some new things as well.  It was awesome!  I learned so much and had some of my prayers answered for sure.  I had to share a memorized scripture with a spiritual thought in front of everyone, including President Christensen and in Spanish and I was so nervous!  I literally got up there and thought I was going to pass out.  I could hardly breathe.  I’m positive I’ve never been so nervous in my life.  Everything went fine and I didn’t have any problems besides almost dying of fear so I don’t know what the problem was. 

I think its just because my ability to speak the language not only reflects my efforts but also my trainer’s, and I really didn’t want to disappoint her or President.  She said I did great though, so that’s good, “Oh man”, we also had to teach a lesson in front of everyone.  That was intense too but the feedback really helped.  We’re always trying to find ways to improve our teaching skills.  Its kind of funny, everyone is always surprised when I tell that this is my first transfer in the field.  They tell me I speak really well and I always wonder why they say that because they only hear me say a few things but Herman Pace says its because they’re surprised when I understand what they’re saying.  This is true, but it also really helps that I definitely feel the difference between when I have full access to the gift of tongues and when I don’t  -- I literally would not be able to do any of this without Heavenly Father’s help. 

There are days when the language is so discouraging, and then there are days where I don’t even pay attention to the language and we just teach and teach and it doesn’t phase us.  I think that the thing that helps the most is when you’re more focused on your love for the people.  When I’ve focused on the people the words just come, no problem.  It’s definitely something I’m still working on through.  Every day!

So anyways, after verification, we only had Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and part of Saturday to work because Saturday evening the elders in our ward had a baptism that we helped set up for.  Hermana Pace and I decided that we should be promoted to be the mission florists.  We always make it a point at our baptisms to have tons of flowers (which are super cheap here) and we try to make the service as beautiful as possible.  Someone’s baptism day is so important.  It’s one of the biggest days of their lives.  So, we try and make it look pretty as well.  But anyways, man, Saturday was crazy.  We showed up an hour before the baptism to help set up and arrange the flowers and the font was completely empty!  And the font in our chapel takes 4 hours to fill up.  So my companion and I went to fill it up and it wasn’t turning on.  It turns out there was no water in the church.  Absolutely NONE!  My companion and I were “freaking out” a bit while the elders were super tranquilo (calm) and not worried at all.  Luckily, we have another chapel in el Centro about 30 minutes away with a font that only takes about two hours to fill.  There were elders there already who started to fill it.  The baptism started a bit later but it turned out to a beautiful service and there was just enough water for Brandon to be completely baptized, Haha!

Speaking of Brandon, we were mostly freaking out because Brandon had been waiting for over three months to be able to be baptized.  I will never forget the day we found out he was finally going to be able to be baptized.  H had to have weekly interviews with the stake president to see if he was ready, and two weeks ago we were waiting for Pamela to finish her interview and she passed.  We were so excited and so we waited around to see how Brandon’s went as well.  He finally came out and he had this serious and sad look on his face with tears in his eyes.  So, we felt bad and didn’t know what to say or do, but then he walked up to the elders and said he could get baptized!  One of the elders picked Brandon up in the air.  They were so excited!  It was seriously one of the happiest moments of my mission so far.

The Gospel changes lives.  And I’m so blessed to be able to see people’s lives changing through our Savior, Jesus Christ everyday.

This week was quite rough actually.  Our time was practically cut in half and then on top of that we’re still experiencing some of the effects of what happened in that lesson with Jose Luis.  That night we felt prompted to bring Veronica and her son, Jose David.  They’re recent converts and were our pensionista (boarder) at the beginning of the change.  Veronica has one of the strongest testimonies and is such a huge help to us.  She comes to lessons all the time and her testimony always helps our investigators.  Well, we thought after the lesson with Jose Luis (when we taught about the priesthood but he brought up polygamy and his doubts about Jose Smith) that she was going to be okay because she testified about Joseph Smith and everything.  Turns out she wasn’t. 

We went to visit her and Jose David this week and she told us she was having the same doubts.  It was like déjà vu.  It was probably more heartbreaking than the lesson with Jose Luis.  She had stopped reading her book of Mormon and praying and was considering asking the Bishop to take away her calling in the Relief Society Presidency.  I could feel my companion shaking.  The lesson with Jose Luis took a toll on her and it was happening all over again.  Then Veronica said, “and the work you two are doing is amazing.  You’re changing people’s lives” which really broke my heart because those were the exact words Jose Luis used when he dropped us the night before his baptism.  But what put me into tears was when she said, “it’s incredible, you leave home for a year and a half, you’re without your family and you leave everything behind to help people.”  I completely broke down.  She was breaking my heart and making me homesick at the same time.  But that’s when I remembered my purpose, not the missionary purpose, but my purpose.  Then I told her.  “You’re right, I’ve left my family and I’ve left everything behind and it’s hard, but I’m here.  And tonight I’m not here because I can answer your question or revolve your doubts about Joseph Smith, but I’m here tonight and I’m here in the mission to testify of my Savior, Jesus Christ.  I’m here to promise you that through Him, you can receive peace to know that everything will be okay, despite your doubts and that you can continue onward through and only through your faith in Jesus Christ.”

This was the first time that I felt that my personal purpose took effect in the mission.  Each and every missionary has a different purpose, which comes from the main missionary purpose.  I came on the mission knowing to an extent this purpose of mine, but I didn’t know the people behind it.  I learned this week that practically everything we do in the Gospel and even in life is for other people.  We gain a testimony to share it with others.  We go to church to serve others.  We read the Book of Mormon and the Bible to gain a testimony to share with others, and we pray for others.  We have experiences and trials so we can help others to make it through those same trials.  We are all brothers and sisters, here on this earth to help each other.  We all have a purpose in life.  It’s written on our hearts.  It comes with our natural instinct to do good and to love one another (even if we may not feel like it at times).  I’ve had experiences on this mission where I’ve felt like I personally have made an impact, like with Pamela, or some of the people in the CCM, but this truly was the first time where I’ve known without a doubt that I, Hermana Beutler, have made a lasting effect on someone with my personal purpose that I have.  

I don’t share this experience by any means to make myself appear better than I really am, because I don’t do any of this work or share any of my purpose with others without my Savior, Jesus Christ.  But I share it because I know there are times in life where we don’t know if our individual purpose is having any affect on anyone else.  Well, I can promise each one of you that you do have an affect and you do make a difference.  As long as we’re striving to be obedient and trying our best to be an instrument in the Lord’s hands, you will make an impact on someone’s life.

We left that lesson heartbroken and unsure of what was going to happen with Veronica and Jose David but what gave us comfort was that they wanted and had faith that they could overcome their doubts.  Veronica had the idea of doing a fast to receive peace.  We joined her in it the next day. 

I thought I had a pretty strong testimony before of the power of a fast, but even more so now I know that fasting with real intent truly works.  3 Nephi 18:20 says, “and whatsoever je shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you.”  And this is exactly what happened.

At church, that Sunday towards the end of our fast during Relief Society miracles happened.  We’ve had investigators come to church and the talk during Sacramento Meeting is exactly what they needed to hear, but this Relief Society lesson was spot on for Veronica.  It was about the parable of the seek sower, and how sometimes seeds can be planted in dry soil.  They still grow immediately and everything seems to be fine.  However, the second the sun (or trials/doubts) come out, the plant (or your testimony) dies.  She talked about how sometimes if we have doubts, we can’t let go of our faith, and we just need to take it day by day.  It was the perfect lesson for Veronica. 

And then!  The real miracle was when Veronica got up at the end to close the meeting and she testified to everyone saying how important our role is as women, and how she received a great feeling of peace during the lesson, and that (in her words) “Estoy agradecida por estar aqui hoy dia, y siempre sequire aqui.” Or in English “I’m thankful to be here today and I’ll always be here.”  WOW.  Probably the biggest miracle I’ve seen so far.  I couldn’t hold back the tears.  My companion I went after church into one of the rooms to pray and thank Heavenly Father for answering our prayers.  We know that it was only through God’s grace and mercy that we saw that miracle.  We know that Vero still needs a lot of support, and we’re going to visit her everyday this week, but we know that everything is going to be okay. 

We’re going to stop by and bring her flowers today (since we clearly love flowers) with a note to remind her to continue to develop her seed of faith through prayer and reading the scriptures.  And now I invite all of you to do the same, if you’re not already doing so.   We can’t expect our faith to grow if we’re not willing to do anything to nourish it. 

I’ve learned that this analogy of faith being like a seed is so true.  And faith without works is literally dead, just like the scriptures say - daily prayer and scripture study along with weekly church attendance changes lives.  It may seem like a sacrifice of time at first, but if you just apply Alma 32:28, you will, with time, know of a surety of the existence of God and the truthfulness of the Gospel, and those three things will truly begin to enlighten your understanding and become delicious to you.

Speaking of delicious, thanks to my wonderful companion who is dying (aka finishing her mission this Sunday) We’re going to be treated to a delicacy this Saturday.  One of the humblest families I’ve ever met, the Toalomos, are feeding us cuy (guinea pig) this Saturday!!!  Oh man!  Hermana Pace has gone her whole mission without eating it and I’m starting out my mission with it.  I don’t know if that’s a sign about the type of food, I’ll be having in the future . . . but still I’m super excited!  And cuy is super expensive here, if you don’t raise them yourself, so we know it’s a huge sacrifice for this family.  So, we’ll definitely be eating it, no questions asked.  But wow.  I’ll definitely take some pictures for you.

Well, now that I’ve written a novel, I just want to say thanks for making it to the end of my email.

I love the mission.  I’ve experienced some of the greatest joy as well as some of the greatest heartache but it’s the best.  My companion and I have some big goals for this last week of the transfer.  It’s going to be really hard and I’m definitely going to cry this Sunday when my mission mom (Hermana Pace) leaves me.  But, my mission president told me that the Lord is preparing someone very special to be my next trainer, so that’s pretty awesome.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you all again next week, and I hope you all have a happy Thanksgiving.  Eat some turkey for me!  This year, I’m thankful for the Gospel in my life, my family, my companions, and clean water. 

Don’t forget to doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith!

Con mucho amor,
Hermana B.

P.S. I’ve really been slacking in telling you my ponderizing scripture.  (Sorry about that.)  This week’s Alma 8:10.  My goal this week is to be more like Alma!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Week Ten - Baptism & Baños photos

Hola mi familia!

This week was a week of heartbreak and miracles. Like I mentioned last week we were looking forward to two baptisms last Saturday. Well, I can't remember if I had mentioned Jose Luis before but he was the one that I said was going to be a future bishop. He was so pumped about the gospel and about his baptism. Well, I experienced this past week how strongly the adversary works against us and how quickly things can change if we don't read the Book of Mormon everyday. Well, Jose Luis stopped reading his Book of Mormon three days before his baptism. It wasn't because he wanted to, but he works all day and also needs glasses, so its a huge strain for him read every night. Then, Jose Luis talked with a friend about his baptism and his friend told him about Joseph Smith and some things about his life. He was filled with doubts. Two days prior to his baptism he asked us if it was true and we did our best to teach him but he had already closed off his heart to the gospel. We decided to do a special fast for him. The next morning we called him and he said he wanted to push back his date. We studied and prayed all morning to know how to teach him and help him remember his testimony of Joseph Smith. That evening, we had one of the most powerful lessons yet. The spirit was so strong, but his mind was already made. The light had left his eyes. It was as if he was a completely different person. He decided he would never be baptized. He disregarded his testimony of the gospel and of the Book of Mormon as well. It was so very heartbreaking. My companion and I felt and still feel the Savior's love for him immensely. As I left the appointment, I was filled with peace, and I knew it was thanks to my fast and thanks to our prayers and studies that I was able to feel of a surety that we did everything we could and we shared the words that the Savior would've if He were there.

I am so grateful for my testimony of our Savior Jesus Christ. I feel so very blessed to be able to testify and feel of His love each and every day. I am also so very grateful for my testimony that Joseph Smith truly was a prophet of God. We may not understand everything about his life, but we can't deny the spirit that we feel when we pray and receive and answer that he truly was called of God. We testified to Jose Luis that even though we don't understand all of the history of the church, we are still here. We are willing to put our faith in Jesus Christ and our loving Heavenly Father and continue forward. As we were studying the doctrine that morning to prepare it was actually quite heartbreaking and difficult to get through. I could understand why he had his doubts. But I am so grateful that I had that experience. As I relied on my testimony that we have a loving Heavenly Father who has a perfect plan for us I was able to testify and feel once again of the truthfulness of the gospel. I am so grateful to be a missionary where I can renew my testimony each and every day.

It was difficult waking up the next morning knowing that Jose Luis wouldn't be baptized, but we were extremely excited for our other investigator's baptism. Pamela was baptized and it was such a beautiful service. The spirit was so strong. The progression that we've seen in her since the first day we met her has been a blessing to see. She is so excited to go to the temple and do baptisms! I already know she is going to be an amazing convert to the gospel. I love her so much! Ahhh! I have to tell you about what happened at her baptism. So I almost ruined the whole thing! We have a bodega in our church building or like a safe room? Don't know what it would be called in English. But we but the baptismal clothing in there. We use the bodega all the time so I know the code by heart and its no problem but the one time I really need it to open....I guess my adrenaline was really pumping cause it was my first baptism and I punched the code in wrong. Then I tried putting it in right and it still didn't work because it didn't reset and then I ended up locking the bodega! And Pamela was in the bathroom waiting! Ahhh! I was super worried. I felt absolutely horrible because we knew it was probably going to be locked for a half hour or so and the baptism was starting like right then. Well long story still kind of long, we told her and then went back to try again and I said a prayer and felt like if I held down one of the buttons I would be able to get it to work and it did! Wow. Complete miracle. Everything went beautifully and she got confirmed the next day and all is well! Haha. Hermana Pace and I celebrated afterwards with an oreo milkshake and chicken. It doesn't get much better than that! Haha.

More miracles...

We also met an amazing family this past Sunday. This woman walked up to us and asked us to come visit her and her family. It turns out she has been less active for years now and has a husband and three boys, one of which is old enough to be baptized. It was a complete miracle that we found and taught them because we didn't realize it then, but they don't even live in our sector, or our ward, but they're super close to our apartment. Despite this, I know with all of my heart that we were the missionaries that were supposed to teach them the first lesson and commit them to be baptized. It was an amazing lesson, and not because of what we were doing, but because of how receptive and ready they are. The words we shared definitely weren't ours, because we taught the lesson so differently than we ever have before. The unity that Hermana Pace and I experienced was incredible, and the husband and son accepted baptismal dates! Once we finished the lesson they got up to grab refreshments for us and my companion turned to me and told me that they weren't in our ward and my heart sunk. I am still pretty sad about it actually. We haven't told the family yet but we're going back on Wednesday and we're going to bring the Hermanas that are over them to make sure that this family is taken care of. There is no way I'm letting anything happen to them. I love them so much! They're amazing. And they really like us! They have a restaurant downstairs and they told us we could come have lunch there everyday and we can't since we have a pensionista (a lady we pay in the ward who feeds us lunch everyday) but we stopped by today and the food was great and Andrea (the less active) didn't even charge us! We tried to pay but she wouldn't let us. You know someone likes you when they give you free food. So this is good. We're going to try and see if the relief society president will let us have her as our pensionista because its so much closer than our other ones. We shall see. I just really want to see that family and make sure they're being taken care of.
I've been getting some questions about where I live and what the weather is like etc. so I'll take a second to answer those.

It doesn't rain a lot in Ambato. We've had a couple big storms but nothing that's lasted very long. We're headed to Quito tonight for verification and it rains there all the time so I'll probably see more rain there than I have here. No mosquitos. Just fleas, but not in my house or in my sector really since I'm not serving in the campo so for now I'm good. I live in an apartment on the second floor. It's pretty nice compared to the places our investigators live. We have running water, beds, a fridge, stovetop, and hot water for showers so I'm happy with that. The outlets are kind of funky and we have to replace like four light bulbs but I'm super grateful for my apartment.

For every lunch we have soup, rice, meat, and some kind of salad. They feed us way to much. When we fasted the other day we felt great afterwards because it was a break from all of the heavy food they give us. It was pretty funny how happy we were to fast. But the food is good. I eat boiled eggs and fruit for breakfast to try and stay healthy and then dinner is usually unnecessary because we're still recovering from lunch. But if we do eat we have agua aromanticas (herbal tea) and pan (bread).

Speaking of which. It really is true that if people like you they will give you food. We are teaching this menos activa named Gladis and her daughters. Her husband Fausto isn't a member and has never ever been receptive to the missionaries but recently someone tried to kill him I guess and so he had this huge change of heart and is super receptive to us! He even has a baptismal date. Well the funny thing is, is that Fausto doesn't know that his family all joined the church. They've kept it a secret since the beginning of this year! We're trying to help Gladis tell him but she's got a lot of fear. But we can't support the lie and keep teaching them unless she tells him! But anyways, we were over their and they made us these amazing empanadas and Fausto gave us like fifteen free eggs! Supposedly they're natural....who knows how but we're super happy because we know he likes us and is going to keep progressing. It's crazy how here in Ecuador food is the largest indicator if someone likes you. It's not very good for us because we no longer know what hunger is but we're running every morning and trying to keep up with our investigators! Hahaha.

Sorry I'll try and answer more questions next week!

I love being a missionary. It is so hard, but I learn something new everyday. This week had its major heartbreaks, but it was probably also the happiest week of my mission yet. I love this work and I love the gospel. I am so grateful for this opportunity I have and I hope everyone who has the chance to serve a mission takes the opportunity to go. It is something I will never regret. It is hands down the best decision I have ever made.

Con mucho amor,
Hermana Beutler

Hermana Pace and I on our Zone trip to Baños 

New member of the church

Pamela's baptism

A special card & eggs for me 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Week Nine - Zone trip to Baños


I don't have a ton of time to write today. We went to Baños this morning as a zone and on the way back we missed our city...so we got back a bit late. Haha! But all is well! Baños was GORGEOUS! Pictures coming next week. We went to this amazing waterfall and got soaking wet. It was great. 
Wow. So many miracles again this week and not enough time to write. I will share just one. 

So I mentioned earlier Ania, the Ukrainian with two little boys. Well we taught her again and were in the process of seeing if we could order a Book of Mormon in her language. We asked the assistants and they said we wouldn't be able to! We were pretty sad. But then when we had our leaders reviewing our area book during a meeting we were explaining the situation of Ania and one of our zone leaders overheard and asked where she was from. Turns out on his third day in the mission he found a Book of Mormon in Ukrainian in his house. He didn't know why but he felt like he needed to take it with him to his next area. He was going to leave it there but he felt like he needed to take it again. This happened every single time and he is towards the end of his mission. He didn't know why or who it was for but know he does! We were so excited! What are the chances of that! It was a complete miracle. 

The only downside to this story is that we had an appointment to see Ania tonight and give her the book. She texted us this afternoon and basically dropped us. We aren't completely sure why. But as we have learned a lot this week, people have their agency. We can do all that we can, teaching with the spirit, and they can even see several miracles, but they still have their agency.

This story is only a fraction of what I experienced this week with this concept. I think I truly experienced a fraction of the broken heart the Savior has when we choose not to follow Him. Its been hard. But it only motivates me more to work harder and find those who are ready to follow Him.

We have two miracle baptisms this Saturday and I cant wait to tell you all about them! 

Thanks for all of the prayers! Keep on keeping the fait! Its worth it!

Con mucho amor,
Hermana B 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Week Eight - Getting Acquainted with Ampato

Hola Familia!

Wow, this week has flown by. It's also been the hardest week yet. In the CCM I had some rough days, days where I didn't believe that I could actually do this work. However, the feelings I felt then compared to the feelings I feel now, when we have a progressing investigator with a baptismal date drop us out of the blue, it's so different. My companion and I can do everything we can to support, help, and teach someone, but if they aren't willing to keep commitments our hands are tied. At times it feels as if learning the language is easier than accepting the fact the people have their agency. 

Despite how difficult it was, this week was still filled with mind blowing miracles. The hand of God is always in this work. We just have to open our eyes to see it. 

I was feeling a little down about the language and whether or not I was making a change here in Ecuador. Then last week we were heading from one appointment to another when we passed by this house with the entry door wide open. (Which is really rare) I saw that there was a door on the first level and then a set of stairs. We weren't contacting at the time so my companion kept walking but I couldn't stop looking at this house. We make it a priority to contact families so I told myself that if I saw a toy in the driveway that I would let my companion know that we needed to stop. There was a single toy car. So we stopped and knocked on the first door. No one answered. We were going to leave and then we decided to head up the stairs. That's when we met Sarah. Sarah welcomed us in to share our message about eternal families. Turns out Sarah and her husband German have a 3 year old daughter named Valentina who can't walk. They've struggled to understand why she was born with this disability and why God would do this to her. We had the opportunity to testify to her that Valentina was a valient daughter of God in the Pre-Mortal life, and that when we are all resurrected that Valentina will be made whole through the power of our Savior Jesus Christ. Sarah accepted the baptismal invitation and the next day she called us (this never happens) to invite us over to teach her husband all that we taught her the day before. They accepted baptismal dates! The only problem is they work Sunday's. So we're constantly praying that they'll be able to work something out so they can come to church. They are so ready for the gospel. As we teach them it's as if it's familiar to them, and that's because it is! This experience taught me that even if I can't speak the language perfectly, I can still follow the spirit and continue to fulfill my purpose as a missionary to invite others to come unto Christ.

The primary kids at a baptism of a member that we set up for

Last week on Pday when we made brownies...which were kind of raw...whoops

Hermana Pace and I on the Bus to Quito

Not sure if I mentioned Jose Luis in last weeks email but he is AMAZING. I have no doubt in my mind that he's going to be a bishop or stake president one day. He loves the Book of Mormon and completely eats up the doctrine. He is super excited for Home Teaching because he can't wait to share his conversion story and his testimony. Ah! He's amazing. We're hoping he'll be baptized this week but he has a friend that he wants to do the baptism but he won't be in town so we'll see.

We also met Aña this week. We were walking home when we saw what looked like an American walking with her Ecuadorian husband and two little boys. When we contacted her we found out that she's actually from Ukraine and started learning spanish when she got here. She was super receptive to us because she doesn't have any friends here and we're obviously outsiders as well. When we taught her Saturday it was amazing to hear her story and get to know her. We left the appointment questioning whether or not she's a member. She just has so much faith and was using terms we've only heard in the church. I'm so excited to teach her again. It's easier to talk to her because she understands the struggle of learning the language so I don't have as much hesitation when I open my mouth.

I wish I had more time to describe the other miracles of the week. Missionary work is amazing. Everyone should take part in it. It's the hardest work but that's because it's the most rewarding. We got to see a recent convert use his priesthood for the first time last night when his father in law needed a blessing. I wish you could've all seen the look on his face. He was so happy, nervous, excited, and more.This is what the work is all about, and that is what is going to keep me going this week, the joy of the gospel and the way it changes lives, every single day.

Keep the faith and don't forget that you are a child of God!

Con mucho amor,

Hermana B

P.S. My ponderizing scripture for the week when things get rough and the blisters get worse: 1 Nephi 3:7