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