Monday, March 26, 2012

March 26, 2012 - A Baptism and an Earthquake

Yeasterday was quite an exciting day.

A Special Baptism

We had a really special baptism. The man who got baptized was super prepared! And it was a really special day for him. He was pretty emotional, but was able to bear his testimony after and it was amazing! This man's wife is a member of the church and he had been with her 14 years without joining the church. About four weeks ago she left him, and that was when he realized all that he had had that he lost because he was so focused on the wrong things. That's when he came looking for the church.

In his testimony he said (more or less), "I always knew that this is where I needed to be (in the church) and I always said that I hope when God tells me that I need to be here that He won't give me too hard of a wake up call." Which is ironic because he tells us that he hit rock bottom in these last 4 weeks.

But his testimony was so powerful because he said, "Before I looked for physical, carnal things to fill me. And I was filled, on the outside, but on the inside I was empty. When I came to church for the first time I was empty, but this church is different, the things that happen here fill me. Now everything in my life has meaning. I feel like I have harvested the first harvest of my life, reaped the fruit of all the things I have done in my life up until now, these past 42 years, and I'm ashamed of the harvest, I want to throw it out and start anew. Now God has given me a new, good seed to plant and I hope that my next harvest will be more worthwhile. I know it will."

He also shared two scriptures that were really meaningful for him, and that actually kind of sum up pretty good his conversion story and experience these past four weeks. He shared Enos 1:4 and Ether 4:15,
"And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens" Enos 1:4
• • •
"Behold, when ye shall rend that veil of unbelief which doth cause you to remain in your awful state of wickedness, and hardness of heart, and blindness of mind, then shall the great and marvelous things which have been hid up from the foundation of the world from you-yea, when ye shall call upon the Father in my name, with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, then shall ye know that the Father hath remembered the covenant which he made unto your fathers, O house of Israel." Ether 4:15
I am really excited for him because I know that as he lives the covenant he has just made, to keep the commandments always that God will bless him!! This is just the beginning for him:)


Then that same day we were teaching a lesson to a young woman and it started to earthquake!

Here in Chile there are earthquakes all the time. Since I've been here there have been at least five. The thing is there are teremotos (earthquakes) and temblors (earthtrembles). The temblors are under a 6.

Yesterday it started trembling, and then it trembled harder, and it kept trembling for a couple minutes! Usually it starts trembling and by the time you get your senses together to realize its a temblor, its over (I've only felt one other one - for the other three I was asleep). People are saying that it was a 5.8, but the US is saying it was a 7.4. Where I am it wasn't as strong as in other areas. The missionaries in the sector that I just left said they couldn't stay standing because it was so strong!

So that was kind of exciting. The funny thing is that the people here are so accustomed that we were in the middle of reading a scripture. The young woman paused reading long enough for us to realize it was a temblor and then kept reading!

• • •

And then this morning we went to our bishop's house to watch him make pan (bread)! He is a baker and has a little store. It was amazing! He's been doing it for 22 years so he's pro. We pretty much just watched in awe and ate all the good things he made...sopaipillas, french bread, ayulla bread, empanadas, yum!

So life is good. I am really happy. I love being with my companion, we have a lot of fun and find lots of reasons to laugh!!! She's really teaching me how to enjoy every moment and to enjoy the journey.

We are SO excited for General Conference that is coming up. I hope you all have a chance to watch at least a part of the Conference. A prophet and apostles of God are going to speak to us, and it only happens twice a year. Check out for the schedule and how you can have the chance to watch conference! You won't want to miss it!

Have a good week!
Love, Hermana Bowns

Monday, March 19, 2012

March 19, 2012

It finally rained here!!!!! Last night I woke up because the rain was pounding so hard on the roof. It sounded like someone turned on a giant fan. It was the first time it really rained since I've been here. It has rained twice before, but nothing like this. I am SO happy. I love the rain. I don't know how much I'll like walking around in it all day, but I've been in summer mode for almost 10 months now (since I went straight from Utah summer to Chile summer) and so I am SO ready for the rain:)

Your Chilean cultural tidbits for the week:

Chileans are phobic about wearing shoes. Even babies have to wear shoes inside. It is extremely rare to see people in their house without shoes on. If not shoes, then slippers, but shoes are a big deal!

Chilean salad is really different from the salad that you and I are accustomed to. When I say salad, I imagine a bowl full of lettuce and tomatos, celery, carrots, etc. When Chileans say salad, they mean a bowl of cut up tomatos with a little bit of salt and oil. Or cut up celery with lemon juice. Or lettuce alone with lemon juice and salt. Salad refers to a cut up vegetable alone. Its simpler and actually quite delicious!

Chileans are also really big on hot drinks. Even if its 100 degrees outside it is still the norm to drink tea, mate (a hot herb drink), and this hot drink called Ecco. They drink more soda in the summer, but some type of hot drink is still a common option for what to drink even if it's hot outside. I think I have drunk more herbal tea in the past 6 months than I have in my whole life!

There are two phrases here that people use a lot when talking about doing something sincerely. They are 'me nazca' (Translation: It is born of me) and 'de corazon' (Translation: from the heart). People here really don't like doing things unless it comes from the heart, or is naturally born of them. In other words, they don't like feeling obligated or forced to do things, they like to do things when they feel like doing them. As missionaries we hear these phrases a lot because people use them a lot when talking about religion.

Crazy Week

This week has been so crazy and full! I'll give you the run down of what happened one day this week as an example:

One day I swear it was 100 degrees outside, so hot, and we just happened to have to walk all over the place to visit people. On our way we learned how to prepare olives from a member of the ward who has a bunch of huge barrels of unprepared olives in his drive way (random, but cool).

In the morning we taught a 75 year old man about prophets, and it was the neatest lesson! He seriously told us, 'Without a prophet, we don't have the Church of Jesus Christ'. I couldn't help but beam with excitement when we told him that there IS a prophet living today and that we DO have the Church of Jesus Christ again on the earth!!!!!

Then we went to lunch, which ended up being the biggest lunch I've been served yet. I am accustomed now to eating soup before the main dish, but in this house we ate 2 hamburger patties and a half a plate of home made fries first and then were served a mounding plate of spaghetti!!!

Normally after lunch we have time to return to the house for a few minutes before going back to work, that day we didn't have time. We went straight to an appointment, but with all that food in our stomachs and the incredible heat, we were both about ready to pass out. Then as we were walking a dog decided to try and bite my companion.

What?! It came out of nowhere. There are dogs everywhere, so we don't pay much attention to them, but all of a sudden my companion screamed and had a huge hole in her skirt. Luckily the dog didn't actually bit her, just ripped her skirt.

From there we went to a Family Home Evening with a family in the ward and a family we are teaching that has two little girls. We used puppets to help them stay focused during the lesson (which was a little crazy, but we had to do something to help keep the girls entertained!), what made it all the more exciting is that both the little girls have chicken pox!

And that was only one day! Needless to say it has been a week full of great things! People who are learning about and progressing in the Gospel,  but also a week full of really hilarious and random experiences.


This week I have also learned a lot about repentance. We are currently teaching a middle-aged man who has just gone through a life changing experience. He sought us out and is one of the most repentant people I have ever met in my life. He has told us that his whole life has changed. The things that were important to him before aren't anymore. He sees how he was blind before and now feels sorrow for the way that he acted and treated others before.

Every time we teach him I leave feeling so humbled, because he is so humble. My companion and I have also been talking a lot about repentance and what that means for everyone of us. Everyone has things they need to repent of. Some people have obvious sins to repent of (breaking the law of chastity, not living the word of wisdom) but some people have sins to repent of that are harder to identify (like judging others, being idle, pride, fear, being pessimistic) things that maybe don't even seem like something you need to repent of, but no unclean  thing can enter into the kingdom of God, and we are so imperfect.

For me repentance is less of just telling God the areas in which you are imperfect and asking forgiveness, and more identifying your faults and doing something to change. That's the part the is really hard for us, actually changing our behavior. For this reason I have been so impressed by this man we are teaching. I can see in him this process. As he has come closer to Christ and repented of his past sins, he has changed, his heart has changed, he sees with new eyes.

The power of the Atonement to heal and change us is real!

If we do our part and put in our efforts to humble ourselves and follow the example of Christ in all things we will experience a change of heart. That's really what this is all about - changing our hearts.

A couple days ago we taught this man in a classroom in the church. Right before we taught him, we were teaching another person (also in a classroom in the church). When we left the room where we were teaching the first person, we found the other man waiting for us. It was comical because it felt a little like a doctor's office, one patient leaves and the other enters. This man even made that comment. He said, 'Next. I'm your heart patient, here we go to the operating room!' All of us are heart patients and need the healing power of the Savior for the individual infirmities that we have!

Right now I'm trying to figure out what heart problem I have and how I can get the treatment I need through my own repentance and changing. I challenge you to go to the doctor! Seek out the Savior and let Him help you identify the parts of yourself that can be changed and perfected through your humility and obedience and the healing power He offers us! And then use the medication He gives you! This is the most important part. The medication He gives us is usually actions - things we can DO to bring about a change in ourselves.

I love you and hope all is well in your life rigth now. Remember to always trust in the Lord and live obedient to His commandements! Thank you for all your prayers and support.

Love, Hermana Bowns

Monday, March 12, 2012

March 12, 2012

Hola Hola!

New Sector

Well, miracles happen. I have arrived in my new sector!! I felt a little bit like I was starting my mission over again, but after one week here I am so surprised at how much it ISN'T like starting the mission over again. The main difference is that I SPEAK SPANISH! This is the biggest miracle of all. Spanish isn't a problem anymore. Now if I don't say something, it's because I don't know what to say, not because I don't know how to say it. I'm still not 100% on my comprehension, but I get about 90% of what people say. Yesterday was my first Sunday in my new ward and the people here are so loving that I already feel like I've been here a month. And I gave my first 15 minute talk in Spanish (before I'd only given 5 minute talks). I thought that I would feel a little bit more timid, and at times I do, but we had a baptismal service on Saturday and our special musical number fell through and so I VOLUNTEERED to sing a solo. What?! Are you crazy? Yup. My companion has a cold and so I figured it would be better for her if she played the piano and I sang. So I've entered the ward with a bang!

My new companion is from Utah and is super awesome! She is at the tail end of her mission and will be going home at the end of May, so I am learning a lot from her, seeing as I'm still a newbie:) My new sector is huge! Bigger than my old sector. And we walk everywhere, we never take buses or collectivos (a mix between a bus and taxi). Never. So my toned calves are going to be REALLY toned in about a month. I live in a house with three other missionaries so we have fun. The house I was living in before is said to be the best sister missionary house in the mission (the best quality), but this new house has automatic water heating!!!! To me that's better than anything! We don't have to light the gas everytime we shower, AND the water is actually hot enough to create steam! The down side to this house is the staircase. It is super steep and the stairs are bairly big enough to put your foot on. You have to walk down them sideways. I can guarantee that I'll fall down the stairs at least once while I'm here.


In my talk on Sudnay I talked about covenants. I quoted Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles from his talk in the October General Conference. He said,

One of the most important concepts of revealed religion is that of a sacred covenant. In legal language, a covenant generally denotes an agreement between two or more parties. But in a religious context, a covenant is much more significant. It is a sacred promise with God. He fixes the terms. Each person may choose to accept those terms. If one accepts the terms of the covenant and obeys God’s law, he or she receives the blessings associated with the covenant. We know that “when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.”

The greatest compliment that can be earned here in this life is to be known as a covenant keeper. The rewards for a covenant keeper will be realized both here and hereafter. Scripture declares that “ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, … and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven … [and] dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness.”

There are two things that stand out to me in this quote. One is that he says that God sets the terms of the covenant and we choose to accept them or not. We can't pick and choose. He also says that the rewards or blessing we receive for keeping our covenants are received both here and now in our lives and in the eternities. I shared a parable that I really like that applies to covenants. It is the parabble of the kite!

Two men go out to fly kites. One man throws his kite into the air, but fails to keep hold of the string. The wind blows his kite to and fro. Maybe the kite flies well for a little while, but when strong winds start to blow the kite is tossed roughly in the air, out of control and eventually crashes to the ground. The other man also throws his kite into the air, but he holds on to the string. He is skilled at flying kites and his kites soars through the air. As strong winds blow he keeps control of the kite and holds tight to the string. His kite reaches impressive heights. In this parable we are the kite, God is the man who holds the string, the string are our covenants with Him, and the wind could be the trials or experiences we have in this life. When he keep our covenants the difficult things (winds) we pass through in this life become means to help us reach great heights. Without our covenants we are tossed to and fro in the air, out of control.

Our covenants are a protection for us and a means through which God can bless us and help us prepare for eternal life. Looking back over my life (which isn't that much since I'm only 23) I can see how keeping my covenants has been the reason for which I have been helped and protected by the Lord. And I know that if I had not kept my covenant my life definitely would have been VERY different. I encourage you to evaluate the covenants you have made with God and recommit to live them with more diligence and exactness. Great blessings will come because of it. And if you have not yet made covenants with God (the covenants we make at baptism are the first covenants we can make) I encourage you to think about doing so.

The people of God are a covenant people, it's what sets us apart, it's what sanctifies and protects us. I love God and know that doing His will is the only way that we will "reach great heights" in our lives.

I hope you have a good week, don't forget to wear green on St. Patrick's Day (sadly no one knows what that is here, but I'm going to wear green and pinch people anyways:)

Much love, Hermana Bowns

Monday, March 5, 2012

March 5, 2012


Can you feel the winds of change?? I can! I was so sure that I was NOT leaving my current sector, that, after getting emotional while bearing my testimony in church yesterday and having all the members ask me if I was leaving, I reassured them all that I was most likely NOT leaving.

Well, the Zone Leaders called us last night to give me extra time to pack my bags:( Ironically I am switching places with my companion from the MTC, and we are the only hermanas who are changing this time. Big surprise! I can`t believe it.

I am very sad to leave this place and these people that I have grown to love so much. But I am excited to go to a new place and meet new people. Today will be a sad day of saying goodbye. My dad used to have in his house a frame saying, it said something along the lines of , "We never really leave a place we love, part of it we take with us and part of us we leave behind." This is so true. This sector is a place I will love for all of my life and will always want to come back, but I'll take a part of it with me - the things I have learned and experienced here and the friendships I have made - and I will leave a part of me here - the memories that I have left behind.

Change is always hard, but always brings new growth and new friendships.

I won't be able to write very much today because there is a lot to do! and this morning we went to visit a place near our sector that is in the mountains and close to two rivers. We had a great time and came back tired, but happy.

The scripture of the week that I had been thinking about over and over, and even more now that I am getting transfered is in Mosaiah 3:19:
For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.
Especially the part that says that we need to be willing to submit to all things which the Lord puts in our path, whatever it be. I am excited to get to my new sector and see what the Lord has in store for me there and what work He would have me do in another part of this beautiful country of Chile:)

Much love, Hermana Bowns