Monday, September 26, 2011

September 26, 2011

Whew!! I made it to Chile! That was the longest flight of my life! 13 hr flight and 24 hours of traveling total. and of course i had quite the adventure when i arrived (almost like what happened in paris my first night). We arrived after missing our last flight and met the mission president and assistants to the president. they took us to the mission office to be interviewed by the president and to get things ready for our visas. ugh i felt so gross. we left monday at 6am and arrived tuesday at 10am. i was also feeling really lightheaded. i wasn´t sure if it was from lack of sleep or what (i didn´t sleep much on the plane). Sister Humphrey said it was from the plane ride. being in the air for that long does weird things to you. anyway then we ate lunch and met our new trainers/companions. I LOVE MY COMPANION. she is so amazing. Her name is Hermana Lopez and she is from argentina. she has been in the mission 8 months. she speaks a little english so i teach her and she teaches me. she is so loving and i feel so comfortable with her. luckily my spanish is good enough that we can communicate.

My first day in Chile! With Hermana Lopez on the bus to Rauquen!
we had a little bit of training and then left to go to our areas. the mission office is in concepcion and my area is 6 hours away in curico (but the area i´m in is called rauquen). we got on a bus and i said bye to all my mtc friends. we rode the bus for about 4 hours. by then it was 9pm and for some reason there were no more buses going to curico. great. my companion and an elder from santiago frantically called people and talked to people in the station. i honestly have no idea what was going on but i knew that something would come up that would help us. finally we took a bus to a nearby city to spend the night with the hermanas there. we got there around 11pm and for the second time in my life i was lugging my luggage through a foreign town in the middle of the night.

My first night in Chile spending the night with some other sisters in another area.
but this time i wasn´t alone. we stayed the night at the hermanas house and woke up the next morning to catch a bus to our area. we arrived just in time (11a) for a meeting with our zone. then we headed to lunch at a members house. we then had an hour of language study and i unpacked my bags a little bit and then out the door again for work! we worked until 10p and FINALLY i was able to sleep. so that was the fiasco of arriving in chile. 3 days without a shower and maybe 8 hours sleep total in those 3 days. miraculously i was fine. and i´ve been fine. i am amazed at how well i´ve adjusted. the hardest thing is that i don´t understand everything. it is amazing how the Lord prepares us for certain experiences in our lives. being here is just like being in france only the people are SO much more friendly. they do the cheek kisses here too but you do them with everyone (well for us sister missionaries only with women) but we kiss people we meet in the street. and people you know give you a big hug too. also knocking doors and going into people´s houses is alot like what i did with flourishing families only now i´m praying with them and teaching them and asking for return appointements. (a note about knocking doors. everyone here has a locked fence around their house so you don´t knock you yell. yeah funny right. you stand at the gate and yell ALO and they come out. my second time i accidentally yelled hola. funny!)

Everyone is super nice. i live in a house with three other sisters. the four of us are assigned to one ward. my comp and i started from scratch, meaning we didn´t have any investigators so we had to find them! i introduced myself in the ward on sunday...kind of scary but it went ok. almost everyone that i meet that finds out i´ve been here for only 6 days is super impressed and tells me how well i speak spanish. they say things like, i can understand you, you don´t have a gringo accent, you use the verbs well. such nice things. they are so so so nice to me. even though i don´t say much or understand much. we had a meeting with our one investigator and she talked to us for like 30m about some dreams she had and the most i understood was that she had had dreams about people who had passed on. its good that i understand some but i´m starting to be frustrated with not understanding. with time i know it will get better, but its so weird, the words just float around my head and i don´t know what´s going on. but everyday i try to do a little better. the first day hermana lopez did all the talking. the second day i started trying to introduce us when we contacted people. the next day i tried to introduce ourselves more and gave some prayers. the next day i started inviting people to church when we would contact them. and yesterday hermana lopez said i was ready to teach and so she said when we are teaching we aren´t leaving the house until i say something, at least testify. so i did it!! i was terrified, but the Lord provided opportunities and words.

the food is here is much the same as in the states. the bread is really good! we eat a little bit for breakfast, a huge lunch with members and then nothing for dinner. my companion has already gained 30 pounds! sometimes the members give us normal portions but the biggest so far were one sister gave us scoops of mashed potatoes the size of grapefruits and two big pieces of meat. and one sister gave us soup and bread for an appetizer and then a full plate of pasta. when i say a full plate i mean to the rim, two inches high! i ate as much as i could, but holy cow. living here really reminds me of being in france. the house we live in is old and cold. there is no central heating. i am freezing. it is colder inside the house than outside. luckily summer is on the way. i´m not cold when i´m in my bed but i put on lots of layers during the day and we have a space heater to warm us up while we study. there are a lot of new things but i amhappy and healthy. without my companion i would be lost. i am learning and i know that in time i will feel competent. i´m still learning what my role is here as a missionary.

in the mission we look for small miracles because they are everywhere. one happened while we were knocking doors. no one was home. hermana lopez said what is the spirit telling us to do and i felt like we should go across the street and knock on two certain houses. we did. the first one a young girl came out and talking to us, we invited her to church. the second a man came out and talked to us for 20 minutes! yay! for me that was enough of a miracle, that we were able to teach a little bit. but then on sunday the girl came to church, and brought a friend!!!! wow. exciting.

one thing that i am noticing here in the mission is that although the Gospel of Jesus Christ brings great joy and happiness into our lives, it is not a Gospel of comfort or ease. i heard once that the Gospel comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable. and it´s true. the Gospel is more than just saying you believe in Jesus and leaving it at that. His invitation to us is to follow Him and do as He did. that includes being baptized, but also everything else that He did. that includes teaching, preaching His word, helping, healing people, and inviting them to come unto Him. this is His call to his disciples to follow Him and do as He did. So as a disciple of Jesus Christ and as a missionary, i invite YOU to follow more in your life Jesus and find ways to do the things He did!

I love you all! Thank you for your love and prayers. If you want to pray for something specific for missionaries, pray for new missionaries to be able to understand the language!!! That would help me the most!


Hermana Bowns

Thursday, September 15, 2011

September 15, 2011 - 4, 3, 2, 1...Fly to Chile!

The official count is 4 days!! I leave for Chile on Monday morning. I leave the MTC at 6:30am and leave the airport at 9:40am. We have a two hour layover in LA then a 15 HOUR flight to Santiago, Chile. Whew! A red-eye flight. We arrive in Chile at 6:35am. THAT will be fun:) And then we have a 1 1/2 hour layover to get through customs (that will be a tight squeeze) and a 1 hour flight to Concepcion. I can hardly believe that this is actually going to happen. I have no idea what to expect and I'm slightly freaking out. I'm excited too though, don't worry:)

This past week has been full of fun things! This last Sunday we had a special fireside commemorating 9/11. We watched footage from the attacks and aftermath. Then we watched Music and The Spoken Word's special broadcast about 9/11 and our MTC president spoke to us a little about remembering what happened. It was neat. And then I gave the closing prayer! In front of 2500 missionaries!! Me and my companions got to sit on the stand for the whole fireside. I enjoyed the fireside, but probably would have enjoyed it more if I hadn't been so nervous:) One day my branch president just came up to me and said, "Hermana Bowns you have been assigned to say the benediction at the fireside next Sunday. Okay?" What do you say to that?! At our Devotional on Tuesday night we got to hear from Elder M. Russell Ballard (a member of the Twelve Apostles!). I had just finished reading his book "Our Search For Happiness" (an excellent book about what we believe as Latter-Day Saints) moments before he walked into the auditorium! He talked to us about really becoming acquainted with the Lord and keeping our minds focused on Him and His Atonement. He recommended carrying a picture of Jesus with us everywhere and looking at it and thinking about the Atonement when we are having a hard time. I really want to do that! I feel like it would help me to feel closer to the Savior. He also talked about setting goals. He said that without setting goals, we never know when we've arrived (or accomplished something). He said it is important to have an objective. I really liked that. He also talked a little bit about helping the people we teach identify the feelings of the Holy Ghost and understanding that those feelings are God communicating to them of truth and love. He told us that whenever he talks to people who have converted to the Church he asks them when they knew that the Church was true. He said they almost always say that they FELT something and then knew it was right. I hadn't caught that he said this as much as my companions did and we actually had a neat experience as my companion shared this idea with one of our investigators (our teacher pretending to be an investigator). My two companions are amazing! When we teach they each have their individual strengths. Hna. Kemp, although she feels like the language is hard for her and can't always follow the lesson because she doesn't understand the spanish, will jump in and teach something or testify of something that fits exactly in and something I wouldn't have thought to say, but needed to be said. Hna. Hansen is so good at making the lesson flow smoothly. She shares wonderful insights that connect ideas and invite the Spirit. When we are in lessons I just marvel at my companions. This Wednesday we taught a lesson to our investigator and it went so well. We were all contributing and the Spirit was there. Our investigator was feeling like he wasn't receiving an answer from God about if the Church was true or not. Hna. Kemp started asking him how he felt when he read the Book of Mormon and what kind of an answer he was looking for. He said that he knows we have taught him that an answer will come through feelings of the Holy Ghost and that he felt good when he read the Book of Mormon, he just wasn't sure. Then Hna. Kemp said 3 words. "Sentir es saber" which means "To feel is to know". SO PROFOUND. Our investigator was taken aback and thought about that for a moment. I felt like we had made some headway in helping him to better understand what the Holy Ghost is and does. These simple words have been in my mind too the past couple days though and I like how simple they are. To feel the Holy Ghost is to know that God is real, that the Book of Mormon is true, that Joseph Smith was a prophet, etc. I love that!

My companions and I also had a unique opportunity. Our teachers recommended us to be some teaching examples for new missionaries (a great compliment to us from our teachers). Remember back in my first e-mails when I talked about how our first day we had gathered in a big room with an "investigator" and some missionaries came in, started teaching/getting to know the investigator and then the person leading the activity would excuse the missionaries and we all (the new missionaries) had an opportunity to teach the investigator? Well we were those missionaries who got the lesson started!! Wow. It was so weird to think that just 8 weeks ago we had been the new missionaries. It was also weird to be teaching and praying in Spanish. My companion kept saying "si" and "gracias":) And all three of us introduced ourselves as "Hermana" instead of "Sister". It was a really neat experience. Pretty much all our instruction was to follow the suggestions of How to Begin Teaching in Preach My Gospel (our missionary training manual) and teach with the Spirit and love the people. It was a really fun and neat experience! It got me a little more excited to go out and do that for real!

As much as I love the MTC, it is time to go. All things have their time and season, and the season for Missionary Training has ended and the beginning of Missionary Work begins! In one week I will be writing to you about my crazy flight and what Chile is like:) I can't wait! I love you all!! Thank you thank you for your love and support!

Love, Hermana Bowns

Thursday, September 8, 2011

September 8, 2011 - 11 days!

Hola! Well I can hardly belive it! I've been in the MTC for 50 days! And I leave in about 11! Holy cow. We don't have our travel plans yet, but we got an e-mail from our mission telling us that our flight arrives in Santiago at 5:35am!!! (That means we leave SLC in the middle of the night:0) And then we take another flight to Concepcion. Today we are supposed to get more specifics. The anticipation is killing me! We are getting ready to go and trying to speak more Spanish everyday. The "investigators" we are teaching (our teachers pretending to be investigators) are getting closer to baptism and we are going to have a mock baptism for one of them next Friday. We'll have talks and a musical number and everything! I'm excited. We have been teaching a lot more as our time in the MTC draws to a close, which is good because that's all we'll be doing once we get to Chile: teaching! One day we taught 3 different investigators in the same day! That was new for us. We've been focusing a lot this week on teaching with the Spirit. And it has been really neat. The speaker for Sunday Devotional was one of the Administrative Directors here at the MTC. He had us watch that video where you count how many times people in white shirts pass a basketball between them (and at the same time there are people in black shirts doing the same).

After you watch the video he asked us how many times they passed the basketball. Then he asked if anything odd happened during the video. Half of the audience laughed and raised their hands and the other half of us (me included) was clueless. He showed the video again. And a GORILLA (well someone in a gorilla suit) walked right across the screen and I didn't even notice! Has anyone seen that video? It was crazy. He called it perceptual blindness or something - when you are so focused on something that you miss something huge and obvious. He related this to us as missionaries and how we need to teach with the Spirit and be aware of the conversion process occurring with the people we are teaching instead of being so focused on teaching lessons. He then told some of the most beautiful stories about missionary work that I have ever heard in my life! I cried during each one becaus they were so poignant. They were stories of people who sincerely sought truth and the joy Jesus Christ can bring into our lives and who were willing to change their lives to obtain it. Those stories helped me to feel more excited to leave the MTC. I've gotten quite comfortable here and am a little apprehensive about leaving; it will be a HUGE adjustment. But that's really why I'm here right? To prepare to go to Chile. I was never sent here (to the MTC) to stay.

The people in my district are so fun and amazing. Sometimes I think we have too much fun! One of our teachers was teaching us how to say rebuke in Spanish and then one of the elders in my district points at me and says "Rebuker!" Haha, what?! Oh man. And then one of our other teachers called me "la madre del districto" (the mother of the district). I'm not sure if that's just because I'm 4 years older than most of the elders, but I suspect it's a combo of that with my naturally motherly personality. I do not rebuke them, despite what they jokingly say, but sometimes I may give them guilt trips or chastizing looks...maybe:) I love the elders in our district and am so happy that almost all of them will be in my mission with me. I feel like we act a little bit like my family, we are so loud and if you want to get a word in, you just have to thow it out there. We do a lot of bantering and joking:0 We get along and have fun, but we also learn from each other. They never cease to amaze me with the depth of their testimony and ability to invite the Spirit.

This past Sunday was fast sunday and testimony meeting. I was so happy on this day. Partly because I was fasting to be filled with love, and I defintely was, and I was able to bear my testimony of Jesus Christ (in Spanish) during church. And me and Hermana Hansen played a duet in church. One of the most beautiful I think I have been a part of. It was a piano/flute duet (me on the piano of course). It was a medley "Jesus Once of Humble Birth/In Humility Our Savior" arranged by Todd McCabe and April Meservy. Every time we would practice this song I would feel the Spirit! I felt like I was bearing my testimony through the music, it was so beautiful. The two hymns that made up this medley each speak of Christ and how humble He was and how we must be humble and follow Him. On Sunday the MTC President's wife Sister Brown gave a nice analogy about following the Savior. She showed us a picture of sunflowers and told us to be like them. For sunflowers move so that their face is always toward the sun. She told us that we also need to turn our faces to whereever the Son is. I liked that:) Because the more and more that I am here at the MTC and immersed in reading about, learning about, speaking about, and teaching about the Gospel I am realizing more fully what I already knew before, that the center of this Gospel and this Church is Jesus Christ. And likewise the center of our lives should be Jesus Christ!

I love you all!! Thank you for your love!

p.s. they are moving the mail room here at the MTC so for Sept 12-14 we won't be getting any mail or packages unless they are sent through US mail, UPS, or Fedex. So I won't receive any dearelder letters or packages, or any letters or packages from local areas. I'll get them after that, but just so you know!


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

How to find Diane's Address

I just updated the 'Write Diane' page with her mission addresses and the different ways you can send letters and packages to her. If you don't already have her address, this is the place to find it!

To find the page, come to the blog (, and click on 'Write Diane' in the menu bar at the top of the blog. That's it!

I'll keep the 'Write Diane' page as up to date as I can. I'll also include tips for getting letters and packages to her.

-- Ryann

Thursday, September 1, 2011

September 1, 2011 - Guess who spoke to us???


Well we're down to 3 weeks left in the MTC (probably about 18 days to be exact)! One of my district's teachers got promoted and so this week we got a new teacher:) He just returned from his mission from Seattle, WA about the same time we got into the MTC. He is really cool. So that means this week we also started teaching a new "investigator". It was exciting to see how much we've grown since the last time we taught a first lesson! Spanish is still coming along. I know that I am no where near where I need to be in order to speak so that natives won't laugh at me, but I am satisfied with my progress. I know that if I do my part (study study study and try to speak) that the Lord will help me. He already has. I mean geez I've been here 6 weeks and I can speak Spanish already!!! Wow. This week my district had an "English fast" (where we didn't speak English at all) for one day. We didn't quite do 100% Spanish, but we managed about 80%. It wasdifferent, and a little rough, but that's how it's going to be in 3 weeks so we better buck-up!! We are planning on trying those "English fasts" more often to help us out!

This week also my favorite district of elders (besides my own) left for El Salvador. Seeing them leave the MTC put into perspective the fact that that will be me in a very short time. It STILL hasn't quite clicked that after this MTC experience I go to another live for 16 months...and teach about Jesus Christ 24/7!! I keep thinking this is like EFY or Girls Camp and I'll go home after this. Weird:) I'm excited to go to Chile though, I just don't quite believe it yet!

So not only did we get a new teacher, we also got a new branch presidency member!! He has been a mission president in Mexico and is SO amazing!! In Sacramento Meeting 2 Sundays ago he bore his testimony in Spanish. First of all, I understood every word (which means he was speaking slowly, clearly, and simply) - but the most amazing part was it was one of the most powerful testimonies I have ever heard. And he was speaking SO simply! I realized that the strength of our testimony's are not in their complexity or eloquence, rather their strength comes from their depth and sincerity. This new branch presidency member is one of my new role models! This last Sunday he took each of the companionships in my district aside one at a time and asked us to teach him about the First Vision. First he took some time to get to know us and then we taught him. The Spirit was there from the moment we shook his hand and he looked into our eyes. Our lesson went beautifully, and I know it is because the Spirit was there, because he brought it with him. Then he proceeded to tell us how wonderfully we had done and how glad he was that we were serving and how blessed we would be because of it. After we taught him i thought about why that experience had been so uplifting and I realized it was because of the spirit this man had with him and the love he exuded! His love for the Savior and subsequently for everyone of us shone in his eyes. And when he spoke, he spoke with sincerity. I want to be like him! When I talk to people I want them to feel that I love them and that the Savior loves them, and I want to bring the Spirit with me wherever I go!

So every Tuesday night here in the MTC we have a big devotional where all 2500 missionaries meet to hear a speaker. For the past 6 weeks we have heard from members of the Quorums of the Seventy and from administrators from the MTC mostly. Rumor has it that a General Authority (one of the Twelve or First Presidency Members) comes once a month, but we were starting to doubt since it had been 6 weeks since we had seen one. This Tuesday we waited in line for 2 hours to make sure we would get a seat in the auditorium (we do this every time because it is better to sit in the auditorium instead of in the overflow in another building). And it is a good thing we did because following our MTC President into the auditorium was...Elder Jeffrey R. Holland!! A powerhouse of a speaker. Wow. We were all amazed. As one of the elders in my district said, "I thought I was gonna pass out!" Elder Holland loves the missionaries and missionary work and he spoke to uspowerfully and lovingly about the work that we were doing. He reminded us that all the prophets and missionaries in the Old and New Testaments, in the Book of Mormon, and in the early Church looked forward to this day, to us and the work we would do for the kingdom! He answered some questions that missionaries had previously submitted to the MTC president to have Elder Holland answer. Some of them (and Elder Holland's answers were):

Q: What is the most important thing Jesus Christ would want us to know right now?
A: That He told the truth. Everything He said was true. Especially what He said about how we all need to repent and that He suffered so that we wouldn't have to.

Q: Why does God love us?
A: Because we are literally His sons and daughters. As a parent (and an imperfect one at that) he (Elder Holland) would do anything and give anything for his children. If he (Elder Holland) feels that way about his children. How much more does Heavenly Father (who is perfect) love us and would do anything for us?

Q: How can we best invite the Spirit into our lives?
A: 1. Immerse yourself in the word of God (the scriptures). 2. Pray honestly and sincerely. 3. Don't lose it (the Spirit)! (by doing, saying, or thinking things that the Spirit cannot be a part of)

Q: What can we give to the Savior of the World, Jesus Christ?
A: We can give Him our hearts.

After Elder Holland spoke, instead of the congregation singing a closing hymn there was a musical number. Two sisters and an elder. The elder played an accompaniment on the piano while one sister sang and both signed (ASL). They performed "Savior, Redeemer of My Soul" (hymn 112 in our hymnbook). The accompaniment was not the tune in the hymnbook though. The music, plus the angelic and powerful voice of the sister singing, plus the beautiful mesmerizing signing of the lyrics came together perfectly to touch my heart powerfully. I dare say that that may have been the most beautiful thing I have ever witnesses! The song has been playing over and over and over in my mind since Tuesday night. The song reminds me of why we are here on this earth. At one point the lyrics say "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". We are here to learn to align our lives with the will and commandments of our Heavenly Father!

Well my time is up! Thank you thank you thank you for your love letters prayers and packages. Keep smiling! I love you!

Hermana Bowns