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: