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

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