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)