Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The last letter from Chile ...

10 November 2015

Dear Family,

In case you forgot, this is my last mission letter!

Today we are going to a museum in Quinta Normal. Friday I will go to the temple (maybe run into Leah if I'm lucky).

Last week we watched "17 Miracles" with Yolanda. I had never seen it before and was inspired by the pioneer stories as I remembered my own ancestors’ stories and the hardship people suffered through to learn, live, and share the gospel. I have it easy, don't I? I've been reading my mission journals a little bit and remembering all of the miracles I have experienced in the last 18 months. 

In June I arrived in the MTC and was blessed with a visit from Lauren. During a really emotional time she made me feel like I wasn't so far away from home and that a year and a half really isn't that long. Then I was blessed to have the best trainer in the mission, Hermana Dodds. I know that President Essig received revelation to assign her as my companion. She actually reminded me a lot of Lauren and helped me adjust to the mission and Chile. I wasn't homesick but I was really worried that I would be at some point and she assured me that if I ever wanted to give up she would tie my red hair to the bunk bed. 

In July President and Hermana Videla arrived in the mission and introduced themselves. I had my first interview with President Videla. They are both miracles for me, converts who became faithful members and sacrificed so much to serve together in this mission and do everything they can so that I and hundreds of other missionaries can have successful, joyful, service.

I have to mention the Cortes family. I will always remember them as a great part of my experience in Calle Larga and in my first ward, Primer Crucero. In August Macarena and Domingo biked to our house at 2:00 in the morning to bring our cell phone because the other sisters in the ward had used it, forgotten to return it, and the APs were calling us with information about transfers. What kind of members are willing to bike in the middle of the night in the dead of winter to do a favor for the missionaries. They are incredible.

The miracle of September that changed my whole mission was when President trusted me enough to give me an assignment that was too big for me so I could grow into it. I finished my own training and started training Hermana Gomez. I had three months in the mission and wasn't the most efficient missionary but Hermana Gomez and I learned together and it was a real growth experience.

I was still in this learning process and discouraged about our numbers and the lack of success in October. We left district meeting one Wednesday feeling like we had no idea what we were doing and I was comparing us with the other companionships in the zone. That day we had a lesson with Miriam and Ayllen and as we watched the Restoration video Miriam felt the Spirit. As she explained what she felt I testified to her that the feeling she had was the Holy Ghost, that our message was true, and that's why we are here in Chile. I was able to recognize in that lesson that the Spirit testified through me and that Miriam could feel something divine. It is a sensation I will never, ever forget and it changed my perspective about the work we do as missionaries.

The first Sunday in November was the day that Hermano Muro returned to church after a long time away. Although he had been confused about the Book of Mormon before and didn't even want us to talk about it, this day he went to the pulpit and bore his testimony of the Book of Mormon. Hermana Nuñez called me recently to tell me that Hermano Mura had passed away after battling cancer. I am grateful that he was able to make changes and come closer to God during the last month of his mortal life.

I was transfered to Llay Llay in December. I love the members in the Llay Llay branch and had experiences with them and received revelation even before I was transferred that helped me to know that I needed to be there.

I have to mention Hermana Clark. Even though we were not companions we had several exchanges together. We traveled together to Chile, spent a day together when our companions went to the temple as they finished their missions, had P-day together the day before we both started training, had two exchanges doing visa paperwork, and had our last exchange in her sector in Almendral in January. We were in the same district and zone and had several activities and P-days together. We're going to be roommates this coming January, about one year after our last exchange.

Romina was baptized in February. She progressed so quickly and was always so obedient and optimistic about the commandments.

Even though I was in another sector, I was excited to hear about Miriam's baptism in March. We had taught her for six months, which is not common in our mission if someone is not progressing by accepting a baptismal date and attending church. I knew she was special and I'm grateful the Elders returned to visit her after the sector was closed for a while. I was able to send a note of congratulations to her with the Elders when we had a conference with Elder Oaks.

All through May I was with Hermana Young in Los Mares. We worked hard to improve our teaching skills, follow the Spirit, and teach to the needs of the people we taught. We tried to get outside the cookie cutter lessons. We were together a short time but it was a very memorable transfer.

Hermana Fullmer and I survived the venomous spider infestation in June. What an adventure.

July was Christobal's baptism after he surprised us by showing up at church with a humble desire to be baptized.

In August Juan and Yolanda got married and were baptized. A wedding and a baptism! It was a big miracle and they will be my friends for life!

There was an earthquake in September but what left a greater impression on me was Elder Vinas' talk. He is called of God and my questions were answered as I listened to a servant of the Lord.

We met Karina in October. I am sure that I knew her before this life and she will also be my friend for life.

November is still happening. I am excited to hug each of you in ONE WEEK!

If I have learned anything in this year and a half it is that I know nothing. The Spirit is everything. This is the Lord's work and He blesses us by letting us participate and witness His miracles and His power. It's true. All of it.

Hermana Eva VanCott

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your beautiful and inspirational perspectives (perspecti?) We will miss your sweet messages and the encouragement we have received from you from time to time. God bless you as you bid a temporary farewell to those you have come to love so much. Their memories will always be with you. Our continuing love, The Durrans