Monday, December 26, 2011

December 26, 2011

Feliz Navidad a Todos! Wow Christmas flew by!

The whole week we spent sharing the good news of Christ with everyone. It was great! Friday we had the ward Christmas party, a talent show which was very fun. Lots of the little kids did some songs and dances, and of course we, the missionaries, had a number. We had recorded ourselves singing a song as chin people...very silly. The sound didn´t work though so we ended up showing the video and singing along to it, which was ok, but we were off. The ward laughed anyway:)

Saturday evening we had a baptismal service which was very special (the Relief Society President´s husband got baptised). What better gift for Jesus Christ on His birthday than a promise to always follow Him and keep His commandments! After the baptism we went to the Relief Society president´s house to each dinner with her family. Here in Chile Nochebuena (Christmas Eve) is when all the fun happens. They eat dinner at like 10 or 11pm, then Viajito Pasquero (Santa Claus) comes at midnight...I don´t know how they do that if everyone is still do kids still believe in him?? I don´t know but they do. Anyway then they open gifts at midnight.

So...when in Rome do as the Romans do right? So we ate dinner late, got to our house late, did our nightly planning (which we do everyday) and then headed downstairs (the four of us hermanas) to our makeshift Christmas tree surrounded by presents. (I put my presents from home there so it looked more festive in our house) we also had gifts for each other (we did a secret santa among ourselves). We opened presents at midnight and sang songs and ate Christmas treats till 2am :o (Don´t tell my mission president).

The next day we had church at 10am so went to pick up one of the ladies we are teaching and headed to church for only the first hour, we didn´t have the other classes. The rest of the day was a little one was in the street to talk to and we felt awkward knocking doors on Christmas day. So we visited members and people we are teaching to share a short Christmas message. We ate lunch with a family in the ward (turkey, roast, and shrimp, and potatoes and mayonaise, corn, bread, salad, rice, YUM). In the evening we visited more members and ate dinner with some recently baptised members.

And now Christmas is over! I feel like I didn´t really get a full dose of Christmas though. I want to sing more Christmas songs!:) I´m already planning what I´ll do next year for Christmas!

At the baptism on Saturday night I gave a short talk on Faith and Repentance. So I´ll share a little bit of that with you. I talked about how faith is the first step of everything. If we want to progress, we have to have faith. Faith in Jesus Christ is the key to true joy. We believe that He is our Savior, that He suffered and died for us that we might be redeemed from death and sin. But to have faith doesn´t just mean that we say we believe, it is to act on this belief. If we believe that Jesus suffered so that we can be cleansed from sin, we have to do something to apply the atonement in our lives.

We do this (acting in faith) in many ways, but one of these is to repent. Repentance is an act of faith. All growing up I learned about repentance as a process including recognizing you have sinned, confessing your sin, feeling sorrow for what you did wrong and committing to not make the same mistake. But as I have gotten older and had more experiences, to me repentance is those things, but more than that, it is a change; a change of heart, a change of perspective. To repent is to put your life more in line with the will and commandments of God.

Take for example someone who has decided to be baptised. They have repented of the things they have done wrong in the past, but also they are repenting in the sense that they are changing their life to put it more in alignment with what God wants. They are committing to live the commandments more fully.

But repentance isn´t just a one time thing, we will be repenting all our lives. Repentance is part of the refining process. We were sent to the earth to learn to be like Christ. We make mistakes and then repent of them, ideally as we grow and learn we don´t make the same mistakes over and over, rather we make different mistakes, and as we grow in our understand of the Gospel of Jesus Christ we start repenting for more minute sins. I like the imagery of sanding a big rough-edged rock into a smooth stone. At first you have to knock of the big awkward edges (we have to overcome obvious sins), but with time you start sanding of small imperfections until all is smooth and beautiful. It is the same with us!

Ok that wasn´t actually what I shared in my talk....part of it was. That´s what I wanted to say in my talk, but it came out a little different in Spanish and with less time to prepare:) The point is that it is really important to have faith and to repent. They are the basic principles of the Gospel. Being a missionary I am seeing more and more what a huge role they play in our spiritual health and happiness. For myself as a missionary I need to be faithful and repentant, and I need to teach others how to have faith and repent.

I love the Gospel of Jesus Christ because it is so simple and yet so true! Living the principles of the Gospel is the only way to have true joy in your life. If you aren´t sure where you are with your faith and repentence I invite you to do an experiement. Think of a way to show your faith to God by starting to live a commandment that you struggle with more fully, or think of an area in your life where you know you need to change and be more in line with the teachings of the Savior and make goals to change. This is the reason we are here in the earth, to smooth our rough edges!

I love you all and am so grateful for your love and support! I hope you all had a very merry christmas and have a happy new year!!!

Hermana Bowns

Monday, December 19, 2011

December 19, 2011


I can hardly believe that Christmas is in one week! Christmas is in full swing here now. People have their Christmas lights up and in the city (where we go for our free day like today) parts of the streets are blocked off for booths of cool stuff to buy. And there are these gigantic figures of Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus and the three wise men and Santa Claus. Pan de Pascua is a huge Christmas treat here (fruit cake), I have eaten a little bit so far, but I anticipate that I will be eating a lot more this next week. In the ward we are having a ward talent show/devotional for Christmas. The four of us hermanas are going to sing Todos Juntos (a really simple and popular song here - its about living together in harmony), but we are going to sing it as chin people and I´m going to play the guitar. We are going to record ourselves (or rather our chins) singing and show the video at the talent show. It should be really funny...I´ll try to send the recording next week so you can see it. Also I anticipate that this week we will be talking more than usual about the birth and life of Jesus Christ, which is buenisimo! We have started asking people if we can watch a video about the birth of Jesus with them. I love it! There is something special in the air at Christmas time. It´s the spirit of Christ really. And it´s a beautiful thing. I hope you can feel it too. It´s hard to describe. It makes me want to smile at everyone and give everyone gifts!

these are the figures i was talking about. these things are big!

One of the scriptures that we often share with people at this time of year is in the Book of Mormon, Alma 7:10-16
10 And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers, she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God.
 11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
 12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.
 13 Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me.
 14 Now I say unto you that ye must repent, and be born again; for the Spirit saith if ye are not born again ye cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye may be washed from your sins, that ye may have faith on the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, who is mighty to save and to cleanse from all unrighteousness.
 15 Yea, I say unto you come and fear not, and lay aside every sin, which easily doth beset you, which doth bind you down to destruction, yea, come and go forth, and show unto your God that ye are willing to repent of your sins and enter into a covenant with him to keep his commandments, and witness it unto him this day by going into the waters of baptism.
 16 And whosoever doeth this, and keepeth the commandments of God from thenceforth, the same will remember that I say unto him, yea, he will remember that I have said unto him, he shall have eternal life, according to the testimony of the Holy Spirit, which testifieth in me.
I like to share this scripture because it talks about the birth and life of Jesus Christ, about the purpose of His sacrifice for us. But the thing I like the most is in verses 15 and 16 talks about our part in all of this. Jesus Christ came to the earth, he lived and died for us. His sacrifice makes it possible that we can be cleansed from our inevitable sins, but in order to apply and accept His sacrifice in our lives we have to do as it says in verse 16, set aside our sins and show our willingness to repent by making a covenant with God which we do when we are baptized.

Usually in my family we make goals at the beginning of a new year, and that is when I think about rededicating myself to my goals and to be better, but this year as I have read these verses and listened to the Christmas Devotional given by the First Presidency of the Church I have thought about the great gifts we receive through Jesus Christ and what could I possibly give to Him in return. In this verses above is the answer. The greatest gift to give the Savior is to put aside your sins, repent and committ yourself to follow Him and keep His commandments. I think from this Christmas on, I have a slightly new perspective of Christmas, thinking about why Christ came to the Earth and how to accpet His atoning sacrifice and to recommit myself to repent and keep the commandments. Because that is all He asks of us...Repent and Keep the Commandments. That is what I will give the Savior this year for Christmas. What are you going to give Him?

Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. He is the Son of God, the Prince of Peace. He is the Light, the Life, and the Way. It is only through Him that we can find joy and eternal life. He lived a perfect life, and did the will of the Father in all things. I am a witness of Him; that He lives and has restored His church and Gospel on the earth once again through a living prophet. I love Him and will follow Him in all things.
Wishing you a Merry Christmas that is filled with the Spirit of Christ!

Love, Hermana Bowns

Monday, December 12, 2011

December 12, 2011

Hola!!! Whew what a week!! Today was cambios and miracles of miracles, Hermana Lope and I are still companions. We really thought that she was going to leave. But hurray we can spend Christmas together. I have officially been in Chile for 12 weeks! It seems like forever and yet it seems like nothing. This week was HOT! It was in the 90´s, and some days it was in the upper 90´s. Don´t worry I put on lots of sunscreen and drank lots of water. And surprisingly I´m not burned or dehydrated considering we walk around in the street all day. I´d much rather prefer this to be freezing though! People say that this much heat at this time of year is unusual thought. right now is like the beginning of June in the states.

Today I tried a food called cochayuyo...its that seaweed that is long and green, and it´s like a tube...yeah they dry it and eat it kind of tasted like fish food...or rather it smelled like fish food, you know the kind you buy at the pet store. Here´s a picture of it!

Also very exciting, this week we had a very special baptism!! One month ago, to the day we met this woman...or rather we talked to her son outside of their house and invited him to be baptized. We arranged to return later that night to talk with his mom. I wasn´t able to go back because I was teaching English Class, but Hermana Lopez and Martinez went back to this house. When they got there the mom came out, angry as a mother bear, demanding to know who had invited her son to be baptized and why. The hermanas explained who they were and what they did as missionaries. By the end of their time talking this woman told them she wanted to know more and set up a time for them to come back. The missionaries invited her to Stake Conference which was the upcoming Sunday. To our delight, she and her son came to the Conference and loved it! When we taught her the first discussion she had tears in her eyes and told us that she knew that we had been sent to her by God because she needed to make some changes in her life. We continued to meet with her and teach her, and she came to church every Sunday. She is so sincere and honest and truly wants to learn, she asks questions and seeks to understand. In most of our lessons she was asking so many questions about the Church it was hard to keep up with her. She never wanted to set a date to be baptised though, she said she needed to keep learning. Her son and brother started coming to Church with her too. This past week as we taught her she started talking about being baptised, as we talked about when she wanted to be baptised she realized that with the holidays and all the acitivities of the end of the year she could either do it on the 11th or wait until January. She decided on the 11th!! In less than 24hrs we organized the baptism and this past Saturday evening she was baptised!!! She tells us that she knows that this is a good thing in her life and that she wished she could get baptised again just to feel that feeling again! It was really wonderful and special. Baptism is the gate to enter to have access to the saving power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It is the portal to eternal happiness and progression.

I am so excited this month for Christmas! But especially to remember Christ, more than during any other time of the year. Starting tomorrow I am going to start reading the New Testament, cover to cover, to read about the life of Jesus Christ! His whole life was for us, to be an example, and to be our Savior. This week a certain hymn has been on the lips of me and the other three hermanas in my house. The hymn is "Savior, Redeemer of My Soul" I´ve mentioned it before, but this song is so powerful to me. Here are the words¨

Savior, Redeemer of my soul, Whose mightly hand hath made me whole,
Whose wonderous power hath raised me up And filled with sweet my bitter cup!
What tongue my gratitude can tell, O gracious God of Israel.

Never can I repay thee, Lord, but I can love thee.
Thy pure word, Hath it not been my one delight, My joy by day, my dream by night?
Then let my lips proclaim it still, And all my life reflect thy will.

Overrule mine acts to serve thine ends. Change frowning foes to smiling friends.
Chasten my soul till I shall be In perfect harmony with thee.
Make me more worthy of thy love, And fit me for the life above.
Hymn 112)

Church Music: Hymn 112 Savior, Redeemer of My Soul
"Savior, Redeemer of My Soul" Performed by Dallyn Vail Bayles (The melody here is different from the one in the hymnbook.)

I hope you think about the Savior more this month, and think about what He is to you and our relatioship with Him. I love the Savior, I know He lives and that He is the only way to be truly happy. Seek to follow Him in all things.

Wishing you happy Christmas preparations!
Hermana Bowns

Monday, December 5, 2011

December 5, 2011

Hola!!! From the land of sun and fruit! It isn´t even officially summer yet (Dec 22 is the first day of summer), but it is HOT! And everyone has started working in the "campo" (in the fields) harvesting fruit. It´s crazy hours to get the fruit at their best. Yesterday someone gave us some cherries from the campo. Holy Cow. They were the most beautiful, plump, delicious cherries I have EVER eaten. This part of Chile is like the heart of fruit. They export it everywhere, from the US to China.

And this past weekend was the Teleton! (That´s like tele-thon, like a television-thon..get it?) yeah anyway it's pretty cool. From Dec 2 to Dec 3, 24/7 on TV they show stories of people who need help, like children who are sick, people who are crippled, etc. They show these stories all day and all night and in between the stories they have games and random marketing stuff, but the purpose of all of it is to raise money for these people who need help. During these two days everyone goes to the nearest bank to donate money. Like all of Chile. Last year they raised about 16 000 000.000 CLP (Chilean Pesos) (which is about $32,000,000.00). Their goal this year was 18 000 000.000 and they reached 22 000 000.000 (that´s like $44,000,000.00!!!!!) I was astounded! That´s a lot of money that they gathered in just two days. The Teleton is HUGE here. That's all anyone did for two days. Of course we didn't watch it, but we heard about it!

And another random cultural tidbit. Before my mission I was really concerned about what kind of food I would be eating. The other day we were invited to a birthday dinner of one of our investigators. This is what we ate, it was SO Chilean. Bread, cut up tomatoes with salt and oil on them, avacado, crackers and this green sauce (that I know has lemon juice, cilantro, oil, salt, mayonaise, and peppers in it), and jugo natural (natural juice - which is fruit, in this case strawberries, blended with a little bit of sugar and water...SO delicious). And for the cake we ate a cake made of crushed up crackers and manjar with frosting on it. I like the food here, because it is simple, fresh, and delicious.

Most of the people here that we talk to are religious. In fact the grand majority are Catholic or Evangelical. As a missionary preaching the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, sometimes I find it hard, because these people already have faith in Jesus Christ, they already belived that Jesus is their Savior, for them they probably wonder what more we can give them. But this week realized why what we have to offer is unique. I learned this through talking with people and hearing their beliefs and views about religion. For some people it seems that their religion or their church is a way of worshipping God. They believe in Jesus and want to worship Him and so they find a church that they like where they can worship Him in the way the like. I am so impressed by these people, who actively seek ways to make church and Christ part of their lives. But what we as missionaries have to offer is that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is not another church to consider when choosing how to worship, rather this is THE Church of Jesus Christ, it is His church. He is at the head of this church, He directs this church. All we do in the church is in His name and under His guidance. The members of the church are not members because this is the way they choose to worship, rather they are members because they know that this is Church that Jesus Christ has organized in these latter days through a living prophet, the same church that Jesus Christ organized during His ministry on the earth. For me this is a huge difference. I hope I explained my thoughts clearly. When I thought of this it strengthened my testimony and desire to help others come to have this same realization.

I hope you are all getting excited for Christmas! I know I am!! Sadly transfers are on the 12th...just before Christmas:( I most likely will be staying, but I don´t know about my companion. We really want to be together for Christmas because we have some great plans for teaching, and giving gifts to our investigators, and for the ward Christmas activities! I´m having a little bit of a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit since it´s so hot, but once we put up some decorations and start singing Christmas songs, I think it'll feel a little more like Christmas:)

Thank you for your letters and e-mails and prayers!! Wishing you happy christmas preparations!
Hermana Bowns

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Miscellaneous Photos

me eating manjar straight out of the container:)
me and Ilma, a member of the ward, so cute!!!!
she is single and so sweet.

all the hermanas in my mission
I don't know what to call these posts when there are just random photos to share. Any suggestions? Should I just call them Miscellaneous Photos 1, 2, 3... or something else? -Ryann

Monday, November 28, 2011

November 28, 2011

the young women in our ward!
Hola and Happy Late Thanksgiving! I forgot to write that in my last email. I hope you all ate a lot and got to spend time with family. When I would tell people here that it was Thanksgiving they would ask me what we did on Thanksgiving. I told them we ate all day and hung out with our family:) I however was not able to do that this year. For Thanksgiving this year I did what I normally do, study in the morning (I made a little list of things I was Thankful for), ate lunch with some of the members of our ward and then Hna. Lopez and I decided to trek out to an area of our sector that we´ve never been to and is quite a walk away. We didn´t quite make it to the place we wanted to, but talked to people on the way.  And on the way back we ended up teaching a family of 12!! There is a place here called Aldeas Joveniles, its a place where every house has a ´mom´ who takes care of up to 10 kids who for some reason or another don´t have parents that can take care of them. We taught all 10 children, and the ´aunt´ (someone who helps the mom) and the mom came at the end. Then we headed to the church so that I could play the piano for the Young Women, they had their YW in Excellence this weekend and I played for their musical number ´´I Walk By Faith´´. When we got back to the house in the evening, Hna. Kraemer, the other Hna. from the States had ´Thanksgiving Dinner´ prepared for us! Ham and cheese on delicious bread, potato chips (the sustitute for mashed potatoes), and cookies. Yum! So it was a pretty good Thanksgiving, just a little different than normal:)

the four hermanas on thanksgiving
thanksgiving dinner...yum!
me on thanksgiving
And this week I thought of some really cool cultural tidbits to tell you. First the news here is in sign language. I mean its normal, but there is always a box at the side of the screen with someone translating into sign language! Cool! Also a common snack here is cereal with yogurt instead of milk. Maybe people in the states do that too, but I´ve never seen or done it. Now I do it all the time. It´s delicious! Also there are some funny things that people say here. One of them is ´´Si o si´´ (translation: yes or yes) they say this when its like, we have to do this. Like I could say ´´Today we have to visit Gerardo, si o si!´´ They also say ´´si o no?´´ (transaltion: yes, or no?) as a question. People here say its an Evangelical thing, but really everyone says it. Usually they say it when they are trying to justify something, or they are making an argument that really isn´t valid. I don´t really like this saying because it is usually used in a combative, contentious, manipulative way. (or rather the question itself seems innocent, but there is an iceberg beneath it). Also in the houses here a common term of endearment is vieja (for a woman) or viejo (for a man). Children say this to parents, spouses to each other, etc. It really means old man or old woman. It seems kind of offensive to me, but its really common here.

A funny thing that I noticed this week is that I am starting to develop a sort of callus on my knees from praying so much. It´s kind of funny, I would have never thought that would happen, but I have proof on my knees that if you increase your kneeling prayers by at least 5, you will aquire, prayer calluses:) I guess it´s kind of a good thing!

And I have 2 miracles (for us) that happened this week.

the four hermanas
First we had been visiting a woman who is a friend of a member of the ward. She was really open to all the things we taught, but said she didn´t want to commit to be baptized. We gave her a Book of Mormon and a calendar with scriptures to read every day, and then for some reason we didn´t go back and visit her for three weeks. It wasn´t on purpose, we just never made it to her house, even if we had planned to. But her friend who is a member told us that something had changed with her friend and that we needed to visit her. So we did. This woman told us that she had been reading her Book of Mormon everyday for the past  23 days, not only that but she would pray before and after reading. And she said that she is different now. In her relationships with her boyfriend and her kids she is different. Not only that, but she no longer feels alone. She can feel the love of God powerfully in her life now. She said she is truly different, the way she handles situations is different. We were astonished and so happy. This is the power of obeying God´s commandments. To read the scriptures and pray are commandments and she has been richly blessed for following these commandments. Also the Lord says if we seek Him we will find Him. This too is also true for this woman. At this point though she didn´t feel ready to be baptized, she wanted to keep reading and learning before making a decision. We went back a couple days later and she told us that this is her church (that´s a quote), that very morning she had read and prayed and received a powerful answer. She then tried to explain to us the feelings of the Spirit that had filled her heart and mind. In that moment, all I could think of was that THIS is what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is about. It´s about changing yourself to be more aligned with the will of God, and finding a peace that is indescribable.

me and hermana lopez
Second miracle, just yesterday we stopped to talk to a woman watering her grass. She was a little skeptical and wouldn´t even take a pass along card (a little card with a number that you can call to receive a Book of Mormon free - really unintrusive). I thought that would be it and we would move on, but I have an amazing companion who can´t not bear her testimony to everyone, she is truly a missionary to the core:) She talked a little bit about what the Book of Mormon is and the woman began to tell us a little bit about her beliefs and started asking questions. We ended up teaching her briefly about prophets and apostles, the Restoration of the Gospel, and the Holy Ghost. It was a great conversation, this woman had some sincere questions! But then she started saying those things that indicate that she´s done talking like ´´Gracias chiquias, un gusto de cononcerlas´´ (translation: thanks girls, it was nice to meet you). We asked her if she was interested in learning more about the church, she said no, and we offered her the pass along card one more time, this time she accepted it. And once again my companion bore testimony that the things we taught were important to have happiness in this life and that it wasn´t an accident that we had stopped to talk to her. And then this is where I got a little lost because I couldn´t understand everything. But she told us of the sorrow she has and how just before we came she had been praying seeking for answers for why she feels so alone, etc. And tears started rolling down her cheeks. By the end of our conversation, she said we could stop by some time during the week, she would think and pray about the things we had talked about, and she called us her grandes amigas (great friends) and that she knew that God had sent us there. We left and both of us were in a slight state of shock. Had that really just happened? What great change from the minute we started talking to this woman to the moment we said goodbye. This is the power of the Spirit, to touch people´s hearts. More and more I am learning that I am just a messenger, a conduit, the real power of conversion comes through the power of the Book of Mormon, the obedience of the people, and the Holy Ghost. I feel priviledged to just be a part of such a beautiful process, of people changing their lives and finding joy in the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Thank you for all your prayers and love! Until next week...
Hermana Bowns

Monday, November 21, 2011

November 21, 2011

Adventures of the Week

Attack of the Earwigs! We came home one day to find our living room full of earwigs. On the floor, walls and ceiling. we killed them all and mopped the floor and prayed that we wouldn't get infested again. that hasnt happened again, but i found one on my bath towel, hna. kraemer found one in her cereal and we are terrified of where else we will find them. hna. lopez has a paranoia of them and screams everytime she sees one. we cant have this. we are going to bug bomb our house next week.

okay that was really the only adventure.

but here's my cultural minute. i think i talked about the besos before (as a gretting people kiss on the cheek here). as missionaries we only greet with a beso to women, not men. but everyone greets with a beso everyone else. for example in the church we have a lot of activities and meetings and everytime you come or go you greet everyone. even people you dont know. its kind of rude not to. its kind of fun. when you come you go around the room and greet everyone and then when you leave you go around the room and greet everyone. its a lot more personable! but takes a little bit of time. i understand the hymn now that says ''as we greet with a kiss!''

Last week I forgot to write about one of the things that Elder Kent Richards said in our mision conference that i liked. He said that a grain of wheat thrown into the wind reveals the direction of the wind. Thus in the small things in our lives we can see the direction we are moving. (Sorry that was a bad translation from Spanish) but i like the idea that if we want to evaluate the course of our life we need to look at the small things, they will reveal our course. i think also of our tesimony and faith, if we look at the small things we will see the strength of our testimony and faith. Small things like modesty, scripture reading, daily prayer, fasting, visiting and home teaching, the words we use, the music we listen to, the movies we watch, the video games we play, etc. if we look at the choices we make in these areas we will be able to see the course of our spiritual lives. i had never thought of that before he said that. i am familiar and love the saying that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass, but i like this perspective that the small things reveal the greater things!

Another thing I learned this week was about the Gospel of Jesus Christ which is basically to have faith in Jesus Christ, repent, make and keep covenants (like the covenant we make at baptism), receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and follow its promptings, and endure to the end. Of all that we teach in the Church it all comes back to these basic principles. We have to live these things all of our lives, they aren't a one time thing. they are so simple and clear, and they bring so much happiness.  The thing I love about this Gospel is that it is a pattern of living. When we are teaching people i often wonder how to help them understand this principle, that to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is not just to be baptized into another church...rather it is to live the Gospel in its fullness!

Once again I am pressed for time and can't write more. But thank you for your prayers and support! I love you.

Hna. Bowns

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Miscellaneous Pictures

some 17 years old (a couple) that we are trying to teach!

we made spiritual cigarettes for one of our investigators.
cigarrillos de fe: cigarettes of faith
Pallabra de Sabiduria: Word of Wisdom
Salud: Health
Tu puedes: You can do it!

they are papers with scriptures written on them rolled up.

me eating a completo

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

November 15, 2011

Hola! So my gringa name (Bowns) is always a bit of a challenge for people to say here, but they usually get it after one or two tries. The funny thing is the most common thing I hear is ´´ bonds...james bond!´´...uhhh its really funny (Bond...Hermana Bond!)

This week we had the great privilege of having a member of the Twelve Apostles come to our mission! This is extremely rare, in fact it probably won´t happen again while I´m here. The mission conference was in Concepcion so we had to travel 6 hours to get to it and be there by 8:30 am. This was fun and interesting. We returned to our house early on Wednesday night to shower and get ready for the next day (we needed to look our best, hair and makeup done, clean nice clothes, etc.) We left the house at 11:30pm (don´t worry our Bishop´s wife drove us to the stake center) where we met our zone. At midnight we all loaded onto a bus the mission had rented, one of those big nice ones with chairs that recline. And we drove all night. We picked up two other zones on the way and at one point i poked my head around and the bus was full of 45 missionaries all sleeping soundly. it was really funny! We got into Concepcion around 6, slept in the bus for another hour, got our, readied ourself in the bathroom, and then headed to the chapel of the church building to wait for Elder Quetin Cook to arrive.

He spoke to us about our calling as missionaries and how we are builders of the Kingdom of God. Not advertisors of the Kingdom of God. Our job is to help the ward in which we are serving be strong and to grow and develop. He helped us see that by reminding us that we don´t cry repentance in the streets, we visit people in their homes, we take the Gospel to people one by one, in a personal way, the way Jesus Christ would. We build the Kingdom of God by building up the people of the Kingdom of God.

His wife also spoke for a moment and said something that really touched me. She said that when her husband had been called as a general authority they were asked to move to the Philipines for a time. The church leader who was interviewing them for this calling turned to her and asked her, "can you support your husband in this calling?" she said the words to the song "i´ll go where you want me to go dear Lord" came into her mind and she answered, "There isn´t anything we wouldn´t do for our Savior. And no where we wouldn´t go for Him." I love this response. It is full of faith. And as one who has answered the call to leave home and family to preach the Gospel in a foreign land this answer resonates with me, because it is true, it is an expression of my faith too. As a missionary and as a Latter-Day Saint there isn´t anything I wouldn´t do for my Savior. There isn´t anywhere I wouldn´t go. I´m not perfect, and no doubt if he called me to do something hard i might be afraid to do it, but in my heart is this desire, to do all things the Lord has commanded of me, and I know that He will help me to do all the things He has commanded.

And that´s why I´m here in Chile now! And I´m so happy to be here! I love Chile. I love the people I an meeting and getting to know here. And day by day, little by little, I´m improving in my ability to speak and understand Spanish and to teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I love you all, and pray you are well and finding the good in every day. Thank you thank you for your letters and prayers!!!

Hermana Bowns

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

November 7, 2011

Cultural Moment: I love picking up on little things that are different here than in the States. A couple things I thought of this week

1. Negocios: these are little stores, like little grocery stores, but they are just run by random people in the neighborhood and there is one on like every corner. They just have the essentials (toilet paper, fruits, veggies, cookies, crackers, jam, candy, lunch meat, cheese, flour, sugar, milk, bread. eggs. etc.). It is awesome. If you need something really quick cuz you´re making something, just walk down the street. I´m not kidding when I say there is one on every street either.

2. Permiso!: This is like saying excuse me (i think the direct translation in "permit me"). We say it all the time (its kind of a joke with us hermanas, we say it all the time, even if it doesn´t apply). But Chileans say it when they enter a stranger´s house. I´ve noticed it as we've taken members to lessons with us. The people invite us in by saying "Pasen" (which means come in), then as they pass the threshold of the gate, they say permiso, then we hesitate until the people say "pasen" again as an invitation into their house, and Chileans say permiso when they enter the house too. (Like excuse me i´m entering your house now). Not everyone does it, it´s like an unspoken rule/etiquette thing, but I think it is so interesting, and i´ve found myself doing it now!

Well we are getting to summer now. It is HOT. And I hear its going to get hotter. We´re still in spring kind of so there are days, like today, that are a little overcast. but i´ve started wearing sunscreen on my face to avoid getting burned, and i´ve got a nice watch tan coming along. This week was a great week! It was so great because we started teaching some new people. There is no greater feeling than teaching someone about the Gospel of Jesus Christ who is really listening, who actually wants to know, and who is open to what you are saying. It is also really neat to meet someone for the first time, sense that they are a little hesitant or uninterested, and then after talking to them for a bit, they open up, start asking questions about things they really care about, and end up setting up a time for us to come back. It is also always so surprising to me how the Lord puts us in places to meet people who are ready and willing to hear the Word of God. Like yesterday we had gone to an appointment with a couple, but they weren´t there, so we were leaving the street and a little girl was in the road playing, my amazing companion who loves talking to everyone, gave the little girl a picture of Jesus and asked if her mom was home, she was! The mom came out and then said she had a little bit of time and invited us in. We taught her about the Restoration of the Gospel and watched the 20 min video of the Restoration and Joseph Smith´s vision. The woman said she had never heard that story before and we invited her to pray about the things we had taught her to find out for herself if they are true. The video of The Restoration is so poignant and beautiful (if you haven´t seen it I recommend it:) and I was reminded of the great blessing it is that we know that God speaks to His children, that we can pray to receive guidance for our lives, and that we have a living prophet today!

There is something I´ve been thinking about lately though. As we teach people about how Joseph Smith prayed and received an answer and invite others to pray to receive an answer, there are people who come back and say that they did not receive an answer: they felt nothing, heard nothing, and therefore received nothing from God. I´ve thought about this a lot. One thing I know for certain, if we ask God seeking to know the truth, He will manifest the truth unto us, through the power of the Holy Ghost. When we don´t recieve an answer, it isn´t because He isn´t answering us. I thought also about all the people before Joseph Smith who prayed to God to know the truth (I doubt Joseph Smith was the first and only person to ask). But Joseph asked with a sincere heart. He had pondered this question for years, he truly desired to know, and with this desire, he had a sincere intention to follow whatever response he received. This last part is a little hard to swallow for me. You mean if I pray to receive guidance or to know the truth of something, I may not receive the answer because I am not willing to follow it. Geesh...I can´t even think of how many times in my life I prayed for something half-heartedly or with not-so-sincere intentions. Action, this is where the rubber meets the road and great blessings are realized. When we intend to act upon the response to our question, God can trust us with the answer we seek. And when we act upon the answers we receive we begin to see the mysteries of God unfold and blessing pour out from heaven. First of all, if Joseph Smith had only read the Bible and pondered about the verse that says "If any man lack wisdom let him ask of God" (James 1:5) but had never acted upon this answer he received, he never would have had the vision he had, he would not have been called as a prophet. And then if he had not done the things that the Lord instructed him to do, the Church would not have been re-established, the Book of Mormon would not have been translated, and the Priesthood would not have been restored to the Earth through him. So here is your spiritual check-up for the week. Are you praying with the intent to follow the answers you will recieve? I know I have some improving to do!!

I´m excited for the new things I´ll learn this week! One thing I have learned so far in the mission is that I have so much to learn!!!:)

I love you, thank you for your prayers!!
Hermana Bowns

Here is a link to a video like the one Diane shared with the woman and her daughter. This one is an hour long... I couldn't find the twenty minute version:

Monday, October 31, 2011

October 31, 2011

Hola! Well tonight is Halloween. Since they celebrate Halloween here like they do in the states, we are afraid we won´t have much success in teaching people in their houses tonight. So we think we´ll try standing in front of our house and handing out candy and pass along cards and talking to parents out with their kids. We´ll see how that goes. The ward had a Halloween party last friday. We weren´t sure if it was ok or not to dress up since we are missionaries...but the bishop's wife went to the trouble to bring us some fancy dresses and we couldn´t tell her no, and so just for the hour we were at the church at the party we wore old prom-like dresses and claimed to be princesses...with our nametags of course! Also today is cambios! And tada...all four of us hermanas are staying here in Rauquen for another cambio! We are very excited, we love being together!

us on halloween

This the Spirit brought to my remembrance the story of the Brother of Jared in the Book of Mormon (in the Book of Ether chapters 2,3, and 6). This is one of my favorite stories in the Book of Mormon. My companion and I studied it and ended up sharing it with three different people we were teaching. It is a powerful story of faith and humility. My favorite part is in chapter 6 when this group of people get into 8 barges lit by small illuminated stones and head off into the sea. I can´t even imagine the faith it would take to do that. They knew not whether they would die or not. Verse 4 says "they commended themselves unto the Lord their God." Their journey on the sea was rough at times they were submerged in the water and tossed about by the waves. But that fierce wind that blew them came from God, for the purpose of pushing them to the promised land. I love applying this story to my life. Imagining how those people felt in their barges, and also realizing that the only way to get to the "promised land" is to be pushed by the winds. I heard a quote once that I love and think is so true. It says, "The Gospel of Jesus Christ comforts the afflicted, and afflicts the comfortable.*" It is so true. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a message of peace to the burdened and suffering, but to the proud and lazy it is a message of chastening and repentance. I also like to think of the barges in this story like the Church of Jesus Christ. If we tried to swim to the promised land we would surely die. But in our barges (in the Church) there is protection! But even if you are in your barge, the church with all the resources given to you to survive (light, food, family) you will still be pushed. This is one thing I am learning, that progress does not come comfortably. The discomfort that comes from being tried and tested is for a purpose. It pushes us closer to our goals, and our ultimate goal to be like Jesus Christ. The other interesting thing is in verse 9 and 12 of this chapter. During their tumultuous voyage, these people sang praises to the Lord and when they landed they bowed themselves to the earth and praised God again for their safe journey. I like to think that I would do the same in their situation, but I think that I may need to work on that:) Anyway, there is so much more to learn from this chapter. I love it! It is so powerful. Everytime I read I gain new insights. Read it. I promise you will feel the Spirit teaching you things you need to learn.

us on halloween with apples covered in
 manjar and coconut and our "pumpkins"

I wish a Happy Halloween to all! I love you! Thank you for your continued prayers!

Hermana Bowns

*President Harold B. Lee January, "The Message." New Era, 1971.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mail Christmas Packages by Nov. 5th!

Are you thinking about Christmas yet? I'm not! But in order to get a package to Diane by Christmas you've got to send it really soon
      next week!

Here is an excerpt from an email from Diane's mission president:
"Since November is almost upon us and Christmas is just around the corner, I am writing this to urge you to send out any Christmas letters and packages by November 5th!!

PLEASE Send your packages by U.S. mail (this is the most reliable way) to the following address:
Hermana Diane Bowns
O' Higgins 940
Oficina 502

We are encouraging you to send them out this early since last year many of the packages arrived well after Christmas!  Remember that after we receive them, we also need time to get them to all the areas your missionaries live in.  We would rather have them arrive here early than late, and we will keep them safe till time to deliver!"
I guess this marks the beginning of the holiday season. What are you going to send to Diane?

               -- Ryann

P.S. More information on mailing stuff to Diane can be found on the Write Diane page.

Monday, October 24, 2011

October 24, 2011

Hola! Well it has been another great week! I got to eat something new this week that is apparently very common. Here in Chile the people love mayonaise. They put it on a lot of things. Like potatoes. They have this dish, it´s kind of like potato salad but its only cooked cut cold potatoes, mayonaise and maybe some cut up carrots. hmmm...i don´t really like mayonaise but it´s not so bad. What i really like it that they also put lemon juice on everything. Like salad. Try it some day: lettuce, lemon juice and a little bit of salt. mmmm. yummy.

Well I´ve officially been in Chile for over a month! Holy cow! and transfers (we call them cambios (that´s changes in english) here) are next week!! i hope and pray that i´m with hermana lopez for at least 2 more transfers. we want to be here for Christmas...together! but chances are that at least one out the four hermanans in our ward will be transferred:(i´m excited though this is my first time expereincing a cambio. they happen every 6 weeks so i better get used to them!

This week has been the week of lessons with members! This means that members of the church accompany us to our appointments with people. They share their testiomny of the Gospel and try to create a friendship and support system for people learning about the Gospel and preparing for baptism. The members in my ward are awesome! they are so faithful and willing and have such strong testimonies. that has been so nice because seriously when we have a member with us our lessons are so much better, so much more spiritual and effective in helping people feel comfortable. If you are a member of the church and have never accompanied the full time missionaries i encourage you to call the missionaries and tell them you want to come with them to a lesson. They will pass out with joy and surprise! One thing I´ve been learning is that missionaries really aren´t very important in missionary work. i know that sounds contradictory, but really missionaries come and go, our purpose is merely to invite people to come unto Christ and show them the pathway to follow, its the members of the church that continue to help new members and old members alike to grow in their tesimony and faith. that is one of the purposes of the church is to teach, edify and strengthen each other!

This week was also a week that strengthened my testimony of The Book of Mormon which is the keystone of our religion and faith because it testifies so clearly about Jesus Christ. In two different Family Home Evenings my companion and I watched the end of the film The Testaments, the part where Jesus appears to the Nephites and blesses them and teaches them. He invites every single person to come and touch the wounds in His hands and feet and side, to know for themselves that He is the Christ (3 Nephi 11). We cannot touch the hands of Jesus, but we can touch and hold and read The Book of Mormon. And through it we can come to know Jesus Christ and understand His Atonement. There is great power in the Book of Mormon. In my personal study I have strarted to read the Book of Mormon cover to cover instead of jumping around reading what I think my investigators need. In all of our studying e* focus on the needs of the people we are teaching. At first I was worried, ´´how can i read the scriptures cover to cover AND still study for my investigators?´´ But i decided to give it a try, and i have found that the word of God is powerful enough that it can teach me the things I need to know and teach me the things my investigators need to know as i read it cover to cover. That is the power of the Book of Mormon and the Holy Ghost. If you feel like your study of the Book of Mormon is a little disjointed and uneffective, I encourage you to try this. Read it cover to cover and look for applications to your life as you read. The Spirit will bring to your mind connections and teachings that are personal and powerful!

I love you! I can´t thank you enough for all your prayers!
Love, Hermana Bowns

*'e' is 'and' in Spanish.
Here is a link to a clip of The Testaments that Diane was refering to. It is a long video, ten minutes.

Monday, October 17, 2011

October 17, 2011

Wow! What a week! A lot happened this week.

the reason i´m gaining weight...bread!
First and funniest of all, we were talking to a lady in the street and she suddenly asked me, "Are you pregnant?" hahaha what?! i think i´ve gained about 5 lbs so far and counting. its the bread i´m telling you, its so good!! the lady said i looked pregnant because i´m skinny, except my round little belly. hahahaha, i guess i´ll have to be more careful and not eat so much bread...but i´m warning you, i will most likely return from my mission 30 lbs heavier! The other culprit is this thing called Manjar. It is dulce de leche. its like caramel with the consistency of peanut butter, there is no peanut butter here, so manjar is the substitute. they put it on everything. it´s a household staple and its delicious!!!!! for those of you nutella lovers i hate to say it but i think manjar is better. at times nutella is too sweet for me, but i swear i could eat manjar forever!

Also my companion and I have decided that the sky here always looks like a painting. She says its not like that everywhere. But in Rauquen it always looks like a painting, it is so pretty!

Also, there was a Training Conference for new missionaries. Two full days of learning! Luckily they did it in both english and spanish so that us english speakers could learn in our own language. I learned so much, but here are some highlights that I learned:

  • obedience bring blessings and invites the Spirit to be with us
  • there is such power in the Book of Mormon, through it we can come to know the Savior and learn about His atonement. My mission presidents wife bore such a powerful and sincere testimony of the Book of Mormon. I like that she said "The Book of Mormon will make sense when everything else in your life doesn´t. It will be your friend and companion."
  • there is difference between believing in Christ and following Christ. Following Him requires action, obedience, covenants. Many of the people I talk to here are catholic or evangelical. They believe in Christ and might even say they follow Him. What I am learning how to do is help people see that there is so much more to following Jesus Christ. We need to keep all of His commandments which include praying often, studying the scriptures, keeping the sabbath day holy, being baptized, serving others, etc.
A street in the area where I work,
just so you can see what it looks like.
Being away from my sector for two days helped me realize how blessed I am! I have such an amazing companion who is so sincere and loving and hardworking. And my area is so nice. Rauquen is a calm homey place, and I didn´t realize how much i love it until i had left it!

And when I got back my companion had done some work!! Wow! We now have two young families that we are teaching. And they are genuinely interested in the Book of Mormon and finding out if this really is the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth once again!

As missionaries we set a lot of goals! If you don´t have a goal, its like going on a trip without having a destination. This week was so great because we met our goals without even realizing it! To give you an idea of what I mean, these are some of the goals we met:
We invited 78 people to church this week (our goals was 70 people).
We invited 10 people to be baptized (our goal was 8)
We talked to 142 new people (our goal was 140)
We taught 24 lessons (our goal was 24!)
A kiwi orchard in the area I serve.
And because we met these goals great things flowed naturally from these efforts, like 5 people actually came to church! And we were able to begin teaching those two young families who have a desire to be baptized.

Missionary work is interesting. All we are as missionaries is an invitation to act, to find out for themselves whether this is the truth or not. I think of it like we have some delicious cookies and the only way we´ll know if someone wants to try one is to ask. So that´s what we do as missionaries, ask everyone if they want cookies (figuratively speaking). Some of my favorite lessons are the ones we have spontaneously with people in their yards. We stop and talk to almost everyone and most people will chat with us for a bit. One woman was gardening and said she wasn´t interested, but she was willing to talk with us. As we got to know her more she opened up to us and told about some of the pain and suffering she was experiencing in her life. (I don´t know what it was...she was speaking spanish:) but i could feel the sorrow in her words and she teared up), in that moment we were able to teach her about the Atonement of Jesus Christ and help her to find comfort in Him. It was such a beautiful moment, that she was open to our words and to feeling the Spirit that accompanies the doctrines of Christ. I like to compare this experience with one we had yesterday. A woman, again in her yard watering her trees. She was open to talk to us, but very closed to our words and the Spirit. She, instead of listening to what we said, told us what we believed. In many ways she was mistaken about our beliefs, but she would not hear the words we said. For example, we told her how we are centered in Jesus Christ, and just after that she told us that for her Jesus Christ if the only way and if we didn´t believe that that was fine. Did we not just say that Jesus Christ is the center of all? We tried to teach her about how Joseph Smith restored the Gospel of Jesus Christ under the direction of Jesus Christ, and then she told us how Joseph Smith tried to diminish Christ´s role as the Savior and Redeemer. It was a sad moment that we spent with her. We were both (us and her) saying the same thing: that Jesus is the Savior and the only way that we can have true joy), but she didn´t hear us. I have thought about that and asked myself if I am like that in my life. Am I in some ways closed to the truth? Do I allow myself to be taught truth by the Spirit or do I reject those sweet feelings? I hope I am like the former lady, that I am open and trusting!

Well, sorry this update was somewhat crazy, that is how this last week was! Crazy but good!! I wish you all a good week. Remember how great it is to be alive and look for little miracles in your life! I love you! Thank you for your prayers!!!!

Hermana Bowns

Diane sent pictures, but I've been having trouble getting them into this post. I'll keep working on it, so check back! -- Ryann

Monday, October 10, 2011

Siete Tazas

Clockwise from top left: Me, obviously; the Siete Tazas;
our dusty blue bus; the tree and rock I talked about.
Clockwise from top left: Me and a waterfall; a larger version of the tree and rock;
me and a nice tree; me and Hermana Lopez.
Me drinking from the waterfall (hee hee).
This is real! When i saw it i thought it was a toy!

October 10, 2011

Hola! Whew this week went so fast, it seems like two days ago that i was writing you an email. I´ve decided that i need new ears. i need to get rid of these english ears and get spanish ears. seriously. it is so odd that i can speak 10 times as good as i can understand. so i still don´t talk much because its hard to just start talking when you´re not 100% sure what is being talked about. i actually do ok with understanding, i´m just afraid because i don´t know all the details of what is being talked about, only the big picture. the bishop and his family have started teasing me about not talking or understanding. The bishop´s daughter always looks at me and says (in spanish), hermana bowns stop talking your bothering me with all your talking! haha. someday soon i´ll talk more. i´ve started talking more in our lessons. at first hermana lopez did most of the teaching (well she still does) but when i feel like i´m on the same page as everyone else and can teach something i try to pipe in. and people are so nice because even though i speak well, i still make LOTS of mistakes.

Us, pulling weeds.
This was our week for service! We were talking with a woman and her mother and taught them a little bit about the church and made a return appointment. my companion and i often like to ask if they need help with anything before we leave. people usually say no, so my companion offered for us to cut her front lawn, she didn´t refuse! we came back the next day (and the next) to clear up her yard! we actually didn´t cut the grass (even though we had borrowed an old school lawn mower from a brother in the ward and had carried it halfway to the ladies house then put it on the bus the other half of the way!) because it wasn´t grass, they were weeds up to my belly button! we pulled lots and lots of weeds. But the woman was so grateful and she and her mom came to church with her and we are visiting her regularly to answer her questions and help her learn more about the church. We also went to visit the bishop´s family who operates a small cereal factory of sorts in their house. they package cereal and sell it. we offered to help the bishop´s wife package cereal and then bought some! And then we helped a young family who was recently baptized make a bird costume for their son for school. And then we played basketball with some kids. haha wait is the last one really service? We think it might be borderline, but the two other hermanas we live with asked one of the young men they are teaching what they could do to help him be prepared for his baptism and he said play basketball with me. so all four of us went and played with two 10 year olds and two 14 year olds. and on sunday three of the four boys were at church! Yay for service!

Also today for our preparation day our whole zone went to Siete Tazas (Seven Cups). Its a waterfall of sorts. There are seven basins, one feeding into another. It was pretty neat, and we got to see two other waterfalls. It was so nice to be out in nature. At one of the falls we took about 30 minutes just to pray and ponder by ourselves. As I was sitting looking at the river I noticed a small tree growing out of a rock in the middle of the river. how rare i thought. and then i realized there was a lesson to be learned in that little tree. The river was rushing by, and i know that river never stops flowing and ebbing around that tree. but that tree is growing and thriving, staying in place because it is rooted in the rocks right next to it. I thought about how life is like that river, never letting up on its ebb and flow, and how tiresome it sometimes is, but how we can be fruitful and happy and alive in our lives when we are rooted in the only sure rock that is constant: Jesus Christ and His restored Gospel. I thought of how grateful I am in my life to have a firm and living testimony of Jesus Christ and how I feel that security in my life, even though it rushes by, because I trust in Jesus Christ and in the doctrines of His Gospel. I hope if you feel rushed by the current of life that you will root yourself in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And if you already are rooted in this Rock but feel yourself being pulled into the current that is so strong, work to root yourself more firmly in the Rock of our salvation! Because it is there you will find strength to live day by day. I know this is true because this is how I am living right now! I am so happy to be on a mission, but I won´t lie and say that it is a piece of cake. It is tough and wearying at times. the river rushed by and i wish i had a moment to stop and process what is going on or time to rejuvenate myself and relax, but I am rooted in the Rock of Jesus Christ and I am here for a reason and it is only because of my faith in Him that I am able to go on day after day. I trust that He sees the end from the beginning and He knows what I am capable of and what I need. And He is richly blessing me!

I love you! Thank you for your prayers and your love. Until next week Ciao!

Hermana Bowns

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

MTC Pictures

My MTC district in our classroom (we may or may not be goofing off).

the hermana trio with Hno. Ridge

Me and the Flarp I told you about

My MTC district with Hno. Grua.

My MTC district in front of the map.

All the hermanas in my MTC zone.

Monday, October 3, 2011

October 3, 2011

Hola to all! Well I´ve successfully completed 2 weeks in the mission! Only something like 68 more to go! Wahoo!

I think my ability to understand people is getting worse. But I´m really good at faking that I understand people...which actually isn´t good, because then they ask me a question and I´m like, what? haha, but its okay. I´m taking it one day at a time. Going to bed each night has never been more of a tender mercy.

Chile is not as different of a place as I thought it would be. There is a grocery store here called Lider (which means Leader in english) and guess who owns it? Walmart! They even have the great value brand! And even though I am in Latin America and expected to eat lots of hispanic food, I have not as yet had any tortillas, tortilla chips, beans, or very much cheese. The food is very normal to what I am used to. Just more fresh, not as processed.

There are a lot of dogs here. Everyone has a dog and that dog barks every time you walk by their house. And then there are stray dogs all over the place. Last night one dog followed my companion and I for like 20 minutes! It almost followed us into our house!

The Chileans speak with a distinct accent too (I´m told...I really wouldn´t know). But they stretch words out like they say, No tengo tieeeeeempo (I don´t have tiiiiiiiime), but they do that with everything they say. And they add po in there everywhere too, like si (yes) they say si´po or ya´po. They also add ita at the end of everything which just means it is smaller. Like hermanita (means my dear little sister), or ninita (means little girl, nina just means female child) or ratito (is a little bit), they do it with everything, which is so funny but also challenging because i have to not only memorize the original word but also recognize this variation. its fun!

Also about half of the music i hear in the streets or in taxis or in stores here is american music.

A little bit of Chile and all the missionaries walking down the street during the sessions of conference, doing an invasion, where we go visit a bunch of people (less actives) in the area and invite them to conference.
this last week was great. i´m learning a little more everyday about what to do and what to say. And always looking for little miracles. My companion and I had a great miracle this week though! One of our investigators really wants to be baptized but isn´t married to her boyfriend who she lives with and has a son with. He is fine with getting married but it isn´t his first priority so it hasn´t happened yet. We went and visited her and enacted what we call a plan to call down the blessing of heaven. we identified our goal (for her to be baptized next month) and what we would do to work towards that (read and pray everyday, and fast three times in the next month) and then what we need from Heavenly Father (that she´ll be able to get married by her baptismal date). Then we prayed about our plan and told Heavenly Father what we intended to do. Our investigator was in tears, she really wants to be baptized and enjoy the great blessings that come from making that covenant with God. The Spirit was there and we were full of hope and faith. We didn´t know how this was going to be accomplished but we would do our part and put the rest into the hands of the Lord. We prayed for her every time we prayed and searched the scriptures for doctrines that would encourage and uplift her. As missionaries we fasted that day for all of our investigators including this one. When we went back to visit our investigator a couple days later she had amazing news. She said that last night her boyfriend had asked her to marry him and said the sooner the better!!! WHAT?! All three of us were stunned. Which we shouldn´t have been, of course the Lord blesses us with the righteous desires of our hearts. What a miracle. There was no doubt it was the hand of God, she had been wanting to be baptized for so long and this one thing stood in her way. I know that she was blessed for her righteous obedience and immense faith.

The hermanas in my zone (we all live together
and serve in the same ward) at conference on Saturday and Sunday.

The other wonderful thing that happened this week was General Conference! Yay! I loved Conference, it was like a spiritual feast! For me there were a couple things that stood out.
1. I heard the message in many of the talks that we are blessed when we keep the commandments of God. I have been reading 1 John and in that book in the Bible there are many references to how we are blessed for our obedience to the commandments, and how through our obedience to God we come to know Him, which John says in John 17:3 is life eternal (to know God). Many of the apostles spoke about this principle and I have a testimony of it. I know that the great blessings I enjoy in my life have come to me because of obedience to the commandments of God. How important it is to live in accordance with the commandments of God. In following them there is safety and great joy!

2. Elder Uchtdorf in the Relief Society session and in his address on Saturday had a great message to share. I felt like he was fervently telling the world that God has not forgotten us and that He knows where to find each of us! And there were many many more wonderful talks. I really like Elder Richardson´s about being a real teacher and a real learner and Elder Eyring´s about our sacred charge as members of the Church to be charitable, be a witness of Jesus Christ, and endure to the end!

I also liked Elder Anderson´s talk when he said that being busy is not the same as being productive. It reminded me of the response we receive often at people´s doorsteps when we ask people if we can talk with them about Jesus Christ. They say estoy muy ocupado (i am very busy), or no tengo tiempo (i don´t have time). Are we sometimes too busy for Christ? I urge you to find time for Him. Because when we make time for Christ in our lives we are greatly blessed.

Well that´s all for now. Thank you for your love and prayers! I love you all. Don´t forget that the source of all that is good in our lives is Jesus Christ!

Hermana Bowns

Here are links to the talks Diane references:
October 2011 General Conference
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, 'Forget Me Not' (Relief Society Session)
President Dieter F. Echtdorf, 'You Matter to Him' (Saturday Morning Session)
Elder Neil L. Andersen, 'Children' (Saturday Afternoon Session)
President Henry B. Eyring, 'A Witness' (Sunday Morning Session)
Elder Matthew O. Richardson, 'Teaching After the Manner of the Spirit' (Sunday Afternoon Session)