Monday, December 28, 2015

Week Sixteen - La Navidad!


Oh man it was so great to talk to the family on Christmas. It was so surreal. I loved every second and was so happy to see everyone. I was stumbling over my English a lot but hey that´s a good thing right?! Haha. I am so grateful to have such wonderful people in my life to support and guide me in my life. Even though it was the fastest 40 minutes of my life I am so grateful to be serving in a time where we have the technology to communicate from any part of the world. I feel very fortunate to have had this opportunity.

We couldn´t find a Christmas tree so we tried making our own and it turned into this. :)

I felt really bad though, my companion couldn´t connect with her family. There was a problem with the skype accounts. She was working at it for a couple hours and she even called her mom but she couldn´t connect with them. She has permission from President to try again a different day. She was a real trooper though. I probably would´ve been a wreck but she didn´t let it distract her from getting back to work. I love my companion! She´s great.

Christmas this year was so special. So different, but very special. It was hard going to sleep Christmas Eve knowing that I wouldn´t wake up at 5 in the morning to wake up my siblings and my parents to start as early as possible our many many traditions but what gave me comfort is what we were able to do as missionaries for the people we are serving. The whole month of December we were contacting with handout cards with the Christmas video of the church and our number. We spend quite a bit of time travelling in the bus so we decided to start contacting the buses. (Part of the culture here is that anyone anywhere can sell whatever they want. People always get on the bus to start selling their food or products). We weren´t going to sell anything, maybe sing a carol and just pass out some cards. It was scary at first but so worth it. It helped me overcome my fear of speaking in the language and we were able to contact a ton of people. Also a lot of people think we´re Jehovah Witnessess so it helped us resolve that too ;) 

On Christmas Day the Zone still had some cards left so for an activity we went down to one of the bus stops and just started getting on buses and contacting. Some of the Elders were really ambitious and just contacted cars at stoplights. It was a blast.

La zona
The only North Americans in the Zone - Hermana Wong, Hermana Peel and I.

The best thing though about this Christmas was the opportunity I had to share one of the traditions of my family with many of the families that we´re visiting. Every year at Christmas time my family takes some time to sit down and write down some of our spiritual goals or ¨Gifts to Christ¨. We place these goals in an envelope and put the date on it and the next Christmas we open the envelope to read our goals and see if we achieved them. I absolutely loved sharing this with the people of Ambato and they loved it too! It helped me realize how much the gospel has truly blessed my family and my life. We need to remember our Savior Jesus Christ all year round, and one of the best ways to do that is by striving to become better through His Atonement. 

Mi amigo el marisco

My lunch :) They brought them from the coast. Pretty cool. And tasty too.
When we got there they were still moving around
and then about an hour later they were our lunch :)

​We had our Christmas dinner with the Familia Muñoz! They´re super awesome!
I hope that each and every one of you can set a goal to do something more in this next year to become more like our Brother Jesus Christ. I know that through this effort, we can all feel the spirit more present in our lives. 

In this week I´ve learned more about how patient our Savior is with us. One of our investigators who was supposed to be baptized this week fell again into some of his weaknesses. It´s hard at times when we´re supposed to have and show our faith in these people when they aren´t giving us reasons to have any faith. I know it´s the same with our Savior. At times we do things or say things that can cause Him to lose faith in us. But what´s great, is that He never gives up on us. He never loses His faith in us. He is so loving and merciful, and as a missionary I am striving to develop these same attributes. It isn´t easy but it´ll be worth it. 

I hope and pray that we can all in this next year strive a little bit more to be more like Christ each and every day. He is always there to guide us along. This week I´ll be studying more about Lehi´s vision, and how is it that we can hold to the iron rod and achieve our goals of eternal life. (1 Nephi 8)

I love this gospel so much and I love being a missionary. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and I wish you the happiest of New Year´s.

Con mucho amor,

Hermana B

Monday, December 21, 2015

Week Fifteen - Divisiones (Splits)

Hola Familia!

Christmas is near! Time is flying by!

As we approach the celebration of our Savior´s birth, I´ve thought a lot about His sacrifice for us and how we can better appreciate and utilize the Atonement in our lives. Jesus Christ was sent to this Earth for a grand purpose. A purpose we probably can´t quite comprehend 100%. He was born into very humble circumstances, yet is the King and Savior of us all. This is a time of celebration, yet what do we celebrate? 

This Christmas I hope we can all focus more on celebrating the grand purpose the Savior has had in our lives. Hopefully we can appreciate more His Atonement, and decide to apply it even more in our daily lives. 

When the Savior was born, the world changed. As we celebrate His birth this Christmas, I hope we can all decide to change one if not more things to become more like our Brother Jesus Christ.

I know I have a lot to change and improve, and its quite overwhelming how much, but I know that through the Savior, we can all become better sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father.

This week is going to be a bit difficult to teach since everyone is going to be on vacation. You would think that people would be more receptive around this time of year but the sad truth is that they aren´t. Most of the people are working even more than usual. It´s sad what this special holiday has turned into. Nevertheless, we´ve got our goals and our plans set in stone and we are going to get to work. It´s going to be great! I love this time of year! We´ve been singing Christmas hymns since November! It´s the best!

Fun fact...the culture in Ecuador is a bit different (okay really really different) around Christmas. Christmas is the 25th, but no one really does anything special on Christmas. All the festivities are on the 24th. Everyone has a big dinner. We really lucked out and got invited to eat dinner with some members who cook THE BEST food I´ve had on the mission. This Hermana has some kind of secret magic ingredient because her food is SO good! We´re pretty excited to say the least. We´re also going to have some activities with our zone so I´ll be sending pictures next week of how it all went!

I am so happy to be a missionary and am so happy that it´s Christmas time. It´s a perfect opportunity to think more about our Savior Jesus Christ and spend more time with our families. I feel so blessed that I get to talk to my family this Christmas! I hope you all enjoy this time of year and this special day with your loved ones!

We had divisions (splits) with the Hermana Leaders this week and it was great! I learned a ton!

Feliz Navidad!

Hermana B

P.S. If you haven´t seen the new Christmas video from the church I invite you all to go watch it! It´s great! Set a goal this week to share it with one of your friends! Here´s the link!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Week Fourteen - Restaurante local mexicana

Hola mi familia!

Wow another week has flown by. I can't believe Christmas is almost here. The weather here never changes, so it's hard to believe that it's December when it hardly rains and it's so warm during the day. 
My bff Sebastian. He's the cousin of my convert Pamela. I'm pretty sure he loves me way too much but it's adorable. He's four :)

You aren't a true Californian if you don't check out the local Mexican restaurant even if you're in South America. I thought of you Carm and had the quesadilla extra queso con pollo. It was quite delicious. Oh and the sombrero was necesary. (I'm forgetting how to spell...)

      árbol de Navidad
So getting people to come to church is probably the biggest challenge we have as missionaries. On Saturday we had ten people with a baptismal date. On Sunday only one. Every time that an investigator doesn't attend church we have to change their date. It's so important to go to church! It's the only place where we can partake of the sacrament and renew our covenants, and we have the opportunity to do so every week! It's such a blessing. Like I mentioned, we did have one person at church this past Sunday, which was honestly a miracle. 

Ricardo is the son of Nancy (an active member) and the cousin of Pamela (our recent convert). He's been receiving the missionaries practically this entire year, but due to issues he's had with the Word of Wisdom and other problematic things he hasn't progressed. We were just about to drop him because he wasn't progressing and he finally told us his whole story and we were shocked about what was going on. We finally were able to understand and know how to better help him. Now he's reading his Book of Mormon every day, is praying daily, and he came to church! He hasn't had issues with the Word of Wisdom in over a week! He is setting goals to change and he is reaching them! It is absolutely amazing to see. It's just another testimony to me that the Gospel of Jesus Christ truly can change anyone's life. It doesn't matter what problems we face, the Savior is always ready and willing to help us if and only if we do our part. 

Not only was it a week of progression for Ricardo but also for me and my companion as well. We have grown a lot together in this past week and we learn more and more every day about how to communicate with each other. I've learned so much from being her companion. I've learned about the importance of continually striving to develop Christ-like attributes. If we aren't striving to be more like Christ every day, we are only making life harder on ourselves. Christ overcame all. He experienced and suffered all of our pains and afflictions. He understands. He knows what we feel and wants to help us overcome the challenges and struggles we face everyday. His instructions are simple, "Come follow me." If we follow the example of the Savior we will be so much happier, the trials will become learning experiences, and we will be able to recognize more the blessings we are receiving each and everyday from our loving Heavenly Father. I have such a long way to go, and it's overwhelming at times to think about how much work I have to do and how many things I need to change to become more like Him but I know that He will show me the way. All I have to do is trust in Him and do my part. We won't always be perfect in our efforts, but through His Atonement when we fall we will always be able to stand back up and try again.

Christmas is the perfect time to stand back up and try again. It's the perfect time to press the restart button and dedicate ourselves once again to strive to be more like our Savior Jesus Christ. 

I hope all of you are happy and doing well. My greatest source of happiness is the scriptures, so if you're feeling down or going through hard times just open up the scriptures! I can promise and testify that you will receive comfort, peace, and answers to the questions of your heart.

I love you all so much and I'm so grateful for this opportunity I have to serve the people of Ambato! Missionary life is the best!

Con todo mi amor,

Hermana B

P.S. Ether 12:27 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Week Thirteen - Buñuelos

Hola familia!

Sorry I don't have a ton of time to write because I was sending pictures from the past couple of weeks.

But oh man, what a week it has been! I don't really know how to describe how it has been but it has been different. So many transitions and so many changes. I knew it was something that I would have to learn on the mission but I didn't think it would be this hard. I think that's kind of how life is though. We are always going to face changes and challenges. We know they will come, but once they get to us we lose all energy and hope. We become saddened at times. I've definitely experienced that this week. Heavenly Father is definitely showing me all of my weaknesses. With the language, with my patience or lack thereof, my ability to teach etc. I've learned a lesson I've learned several times before, and that is that we always need our Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ. We can't do anything without them. There is a chapter in Preach My Gospel all about the attributes of Christ and how we can develop them. I definitely will be resorting to that more in my daily personal study. We always need to be challenging ourselves to become more like Christ, and when we do so, the challenges and changes wont necessarily change, but our ability to overcome them and be a better person will.

My companion is AWESOME! I'm learning so much from her. I'm also learning that even if you can speak a language, to speak with love is a completely different skill to develop, and it is definitely something that I am working on. We both (my companion and I) want to teach with the spirit, and for this we need unity. Our challenge now is figuring out how to communicate with each other with love and with this goal in mind. I have already seen the progress in myself and in our unity, but, I have a long way to go. 

We are all working towards becoming perfect in Christ. At times that seems like an eternity away and maybe it is, but what's important is that we can continue bettering ourselves each and everyday through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I am so grateful for the opportunity I have to be a missionary and I can't wait to share more about my experiences with you all next week! 

I love you all!

Con mucho amor,

Hermana B

Philipians 4:13

Dreams came true when I saw that sign...I've been waiting to take a picture there since I got my call. 

So I was really brave today and I got a haircut by someone besides mom or camille!!! I asked a member whose basically the Latina version of Kim Kardashian to show me her favorite spot and she did! It was nice of her. But it was weird how they cut it. And I'm not quite sure what or how they did it but it looks okay...right??? It was much needed. 

A huge spider in the baptismal font. Even the spiders need the gospel.

Making buñuelos? with our less active sister. THEYRE SO GOOD....It's basically fried bread. But it's the BOMB.

We helped paint a members house a few weeks back. It was like painting with water colors. (They water down their paint here like crazy) Haha. But it was fun!

My face when I realized it was P-day. Always a good feeling.

Hermana Chipana and I

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Week Twelve - Hola y adiós

Hola mi amorosa familia!

Wow what a week it has been. Hermana Pace and I set some pretty hefty goals for our last week, we prayed a lot about them and felt really good about our plan, and then one of our converts had a mini midlife faith based crisis like I explained last week and we rearranged our goals to be able to focus on her more. Well we not only saw miracles in her life, but we also reached most of our original goals that we set. Just to give a little more background, we were fasting as a zone to know which of our investigators we needed to focus in, and we received an answer by losing practically all of our investigators. None of them were progressing anymore. We were really confused but we pressed forward anyways. Then we found out why. This past week we received references from members almost everyday, which are priceless in the mission, because the people already have a support system. We´re working with nine new people now! It´s incredible! The miracles I´ve seen are so hard to explain because they don´t just appear out of nowhere. More often then not we can see the miracles in our lives the easiest when we reflect back on our day or week and try and find how Heavenly Father has had an impact on our life. There will always be miracles when we reflect in this way. We have a family of six that can all be baptized. I´m still in shock about it. They still need practically all of the lessons but I know that if they continue in the way they are they will all be able to be baptized this year if not in the beginning of January. We´ll definitely be praying a lot for their progression. 

As you probably already know the transfer came to an end, and Hermana Pace left me yesterday. Tears were definitely shed.  I was so blessed to be her companion. I learned an infinite amount of valuable life lessons from her, and I´m going to miss her SO much. But I am also grateful for the opportunity I have to continue to learn and progress from my future companions. My new trainer´s name is Hermana Chipana! She is from Bolivia! She is awesome! I´ve only known her for a few hours now but I know that she´s going to be an awesome companion and I´m so excited to work with her. It´s going to be an adjustment since she only speaks Spanish...which is going to be interesting. But it´s such a great opportunity to learn and grow with the language. My goal now is to not get discouraged or overwhelmed. But I´ve seen miracles in the mission so everything should be okay. I´m excited to direct sector and show her around and introduce her to Pamela and the Toalombos and Veronica and a ton of other super important and awesome people. It´s going to be great. 

The mission is the best. I learn something new every day. I have overcome things I never thought I could before, and that´s just another testimony to me that our Savior Jesus Christ lives and loves us so much. Our Heavenly Father is always listening to our prayers. I´ve learned in this past transfer how key faith is. It all starts with faith. No matter how big or small your faith may be, you can decide now that you´re going to do something today in order for it to be just a little stronger tomorrow. We can continue in this everyday until we have the faith to move mountains. 

I can´t believe I´ve been on the mission for three months. Time flies even when it doesn´t. But it flies the fastest when I forget about myself and simply love and serve the people. Being a missionary is seriously the best calling in the world. 

I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving! I ate rice. It was great! ;) 

Keep on keeping the faith and praying everyday!

Con mucho amor,

Hermana B