Monday, March 30, 2015

The Gospel Blesses Families

30 March 2015

Hello! Good morning!

I bet you have all been hearing about the natural disasters in Chile, probably more than we have because missionaries only get news by word of mouth. Our branch is collecting food for those who were affected by floods in the north. Our new convert was put in charge of organizing the donations on Sunday. We brought a couple of unopened food items from our apartment. It wasn't a lot but I heard Elder Holland's talk in my head, "She hath done what she could." I love the church. And I loved that talk.

Yesterday I gave a talk in church about the work of salvation, emphasizing the retention of new converts. I remembered my last talk in Primer Crucero and feel so much more comfortable now speaking in Spanish and putting together ideas. 

Last week I went to the dentist. His office looks like a scary laboratory from the outside but inside it kind of felt like Grandma Joan's house. They have paintings of flowers similar to Grandma's on the wall and there was choral Christmas music playing. In English.

Tuesday we woke up at 6:00 am to thunder and lightning. Hermana Santander had never seen anything like it in her life and I only remember one or two thunder storms that loud and that close. We unpacked our sweaters and boots and proselyted in the rain. People were so nice to us. First a man on a bike pulled over and gave me a giant jar of natural honey. I asked him his name but he rode off, "I have a friend who was a missionary. Bye!" Hermana Santander was contacting a woman who told us that she knew him and so he shouldn't startle us. Later we saw him again and he gave Hermana Santander another jar of honey. This time we got his name and address so we can visit him this week. We had forgotten our umbrellas and a less active lent us two, and gave us a honeydew melon. Some brand new investigators sent us off with a bag of walnuts. This was all in our first two hours of proselyting.

I have been translating for people recently. A sister asked me to translate something on her new bread oven. It's in English but looks like it is a poor translation from Chinese or something because even I don't understand it. I haven't forgotten English have I? Tell me it's as bad as I think it is. The grammar is horrible and some of the technical words are impossible for me to translate. An 18 year old in our branch, had me translate the information about BYU's Pathway program in Chile because she's thinking about applying. That was fun because it was easier to translate and both Hermana Santander and I were interested in what it said.

Friday I had exchanges with Hermana Kingsbury, this time in my own sector. Hermana Santander and I have been companions for so long that we decided to change up the routine of the exchanges. Hermana Kingsbury is great at using the Easter video the church produced to make contacts and help our less actives. The sister whose bread oven instructions I translated was outside as we were biking and invited us in to have some bread from the oven. I must have done a good job because the bread turned out :) Inside her house, fixing her lights, was a man I contacted before but had never taught. What a small world. We showed them the Easter video and shared some scriptures. 

We also showed the video to a man we struggled to teach last week. He still doesn't listen and still is confused. He doesn't believe in hell. He thinks that we suffer for our sins here in this life and that we will all be saved. We have some anti-Christ-isms going on in Llay Llay lately with a lot of people we talk to.

Something I am learning on my mission is that the gospel blesses families. We helped a member weed her grass this week and it was nice to be able to talk to her and get to know her better. She's worried about the youth in the ward and her own teenage son. She is going to start doing family history with the youth and their parents because there is a promise that they will have spiritual protection. There are no young men's leaders here and mutual isn't functioning. She understands she can't take over but she is doing what she can as a parent to teach the gospel to her children and to help others in her sphere of reach as the family history consultant. 

We tried to visit another woman we have been teaching and when she wasn't home we waited to see if she would show up and talked to her son for a good twenty minutes about movies and things he is interested in. This woman is a single mother fighting Satan and the world at the same time as a custody battle for her son. The only thing scarier than being a parent is being a single parent.

How do parents do it? These two are not the only concerned parents we've talked to recently. There are many with and without the gospel who are looking for help. How are my parents doing it? Love. Humor. More love. A lot more humor. 

We introduced the Book of Mormon to a new investigator. She is very excited to start reading it and understands the importance of seeking an answer. I read Alma 37:6-7 with her and explained the context of the plates and how they were preserved. I told her that beginning to read and pray may seem like a small and simple thing but that it is a small decision that will change her life. She mentioned that since the last lesson, she and her husband had decided to pray together when her husband had something important come up at work and that their prayer was answered. The gospel blesses families. We are not sure if they will progress because they aren't actually married yet and they haven't been available to let us teach lately but they are wonderful. 

We taught a new convert about the temple endowment and showed her the video that the church produced to explain temple clothes (although we could only find it in English so I had to translate--more translation jobs for me this week). This woman is the perfect convert and is ready to go to the temple but her husband is on a different path. The gospel blesses families.

We introduced a less active family, their three kids, and the grandma, to family history. The parents have a goal to be sealed in the temple and it seems that laziness or distractions are the only things that impede them from going to church. I hoped that family history would excite them and give them a vision of the temple blessings and I think it worked. During the lesson I showed them my family history booklet and gave them blank copies to start. They began telling family stories and even pulled a photo off the wall. It's an old, framed, black and white photo depicting four German men with mustaches, their ancestors. We explained where those people are and how they are learning about the gospel but can't be baptized themselves. We imagined what they would say if they could sit there in that room with us and speak to us. I told them I imagine they would plead with them to do their vicarious work. The gospel blesses families.

I can't wait for General Conference and Easter this weekend! It is the best weekend of the year! I have been reading and listening to October General Conference continuously for six months and I feel like I know the apostles and understand their messages better than before my mission. Even though I listened in Spanish and didn't catch as much as I would in English at home, I have been trying to learn as much as I can from their messages between conferences and sometimes quotes, ideas, and stories come to my mind in lessons, conversations with my companion, letters home, etc. It's a blessing I didn't expect to receive on my mission and a habit I would like to keep and encourage all of you to start. I am excited for this weekend but I am even more excited for next Monday when I get to download the talks and start studying them continuously until next October. 

I love you! Have a wonderful week and a happy Easter and the best Conference weekend yet. It gets better every time, doesn't it. We're in the last days. It has to.

Hermana Eva VanCott

Kind gestures and gifts we received while proselyting in the rain—a  jar of natural honey and a honeydew melon!
How we heat our water. You have to light it with a match.
A sister in our branch asked me to translate this. Basically I just had to take a picture of these oven instructions for Grandma Joan and her sister.
After the storm

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