Monday, April 23, 2012

April 23, 2012 - New Sector!


I LOVE my new sector. I am really close to the ocean, like a 15 minute walk and I'm at the pier. Its just like Northern CA here. Lots of trees and the ocean, and a millions hills!!!! I'll take a pic to show you, but I've never seen such a maze of hills in my life. We usually don't walk up the hills, we take a bus because it would take half an hour and we would die before we got to the top! It is beautiful and the ward is so great. We live accross the street from our bishop so he and his family take good care of us. There are such amazing people all over the world, that is one thing I love about going to new place, is meeting all the wonderfully strong and faithful people out there!

So like I said last week I am in a new sector with a new amazing companion and am senior companion, which means all responsibility for our work falls on me. But I am so ready for this change and SO excited to be here. This week I grew a lot and was able to see the growth that has taken place over the last 9 months. I was able to set some goals and acheive them based on my own hard work and efforts and I can tell you that there is nothing more satisfying or better for your self esteem than setting goals, working hard, and accomplishing them!

One thing that I have been thinking about this week is all the of the problems that stem from selfishness and being too self-focused. Nothing breaks my heart more than misunderstandings because people are not willing to look past their own insecurities. Everyone is in need. Everyone is wounded and needs healing. At this point in my mission it almost brings me to tears to hear about family and friends who are estranged because of selfishness, being offended and an innability to forgive. There was a big graffitied sign in my old sector that said, Jesus is bigger than your problem. You can interpret that in many different ways but I like to think about it in the way that it doesn't matter what has happened or how hurt you have been, Jesus is more powerful, His teachings are more important, there are no excuses for not following His example. And if you have the audacity to think that your problem is an exception to the law  and doctrine that Jesus taught, He will forgive you and help you anyways once you come to yourself and repent and ask Him for help. There will always be bad things that happen and people who don't treat you right, but that isn't an excuse to not love and serve, forgive and repent like Jesus taught. None of us is exempt from the laws He taught, but that also means that none of us is exempt from the forgiveness and eternal life that He offers.

I am happier than I have been in a long time, because I'm finally understanding some things that I didn't understand before, but I am more full of sorrow than ever before because I am seeing more clearly than ever the fallen state we as humanity are in and how easy it is to rise above that through the Gospel of Jesus Christ and how many people don't take advantage of that because they are blinded by their own pride.

This Gospel is so simple and is the way to eternal life. Learn about it, follow it, live it, love it, and share it.

Love, Hermana Bowns

Monday, April 16, 2012

April 16, 2012 - The Pearls

We'll start with the Chilean cultural tidbits today and get to the good stuff after.

Cultural Tidbits

Chileans are very loving...''de piel'' they say (Translation: of skin, which in English could mean warm).

Just like in english some names have corresponding nicknames, spanish names do to! Like Richard - Dick, Elizabeth - Liz, or Charles - Charlie. Here are some in spanish that I have learned: Rosario - Challo, Franciso(a) - Pancho(a), Rodrigo - Yallo, Alejandra - Jany. At first I didn't get it, why sometimes people called francisa pancha, or alejandra jany, but now i get it:) they're nicknames!

Also here almost everyone attends a private school. so school kids are always in uniforms. it is really rare if people go to a public school. so that means that a lot of kids travel in one or two public buses to get to school, depending on where you wanted to attend school, the school you could afford, or that is of a better quality. and almost all the school have religion attached to them, catholic or evangelical. And lots of kids (and adults) go home for lunch...they have like a 2 hours break to get home, eat and go back to work and school. (I told you lunch is a big deal here:)

Okay here's the update!

Change

The only thing that doesn't change about life, is that there are always changes. I'm a little shell shocked today because (1) one of the sisters living in our house finished her mission and went home today...it reminded me of how short my time here really is! (2) i fully expected to stay here in this sector, if someone had to be transfered it would be my companion, but here's the shocking truth....i'm being transfered! again! I just got here 6 weeks ago and i've got to pack my bags once again. I am being transfered to be companions with a sister who has been in the mission for 3 months...so i'll be senior companion...eeeekkk. this will be the first time in my whole mission that I have all the responsibility. That means i have to manage the phone, our goals and numbers, and lead out in teaching and making contacts. wow. stay tuned for next week to see how my first week goes! talk about trial by fire...here we go! the exciting thing is that i'll be living in the same house with my MTC companion and a sister that i dearly love that i have already lived with:) I love transfers! they are always so exciting and bring such surprises.

The Pearls

Yesterday i had to give a talk in church and decided to talk about giving our heart to the Lord through sacrifice. There is a story that I heard as a young women from one of my church leaders that has always stuck with me. I call it "The Pearls."

There is a little girl who has a string of pearls. She loves her pearls more than any other thing she owns. She take them everywhere, she cares for them, plays with them, even sleeps with them. Even though her string of pearls are false, they are her most precious possession.

Every night her daddy tucks her in and gives her a kiss goodnight. One night he asks his daughter, Do you love me? The little girl with a big smile replies, Oh yes daddy! I love you SO much! Her daddy replies, Will you give me your pearls? With sadness in her eyes the little girl shakes her head and says, I love you daddy, but I can't give you my pearls, they are my most favorite thing. Her daddy smiles and says goodnight. The next night her daddy comes to tuck her in and give her a kiss, he smiles and asks her, Do you love me? The little girl responds, Yes daddy, you know I love you. He responds, Will you give me your pearls? Again with sorrow in her eyes the little girl says, Not my pearls, daddy, here take my teddy. I do love you, but i can't give you my pearls. Her daddy smiles and says goodnight.

The next night the little girl expected the request. Her daddy came to tuck her in and asked her one more time, Do you love me? The little girl responded, Yes, daddy I love you very much. Her daddy replied, Will you give me your pearls? The little girl with tears streaming down her face, reaches out to place her beloved pearls in his hands. She says through sobs, I love you daddy, take care of my pearls, they are the most special thing i have. Now her daddy with a big smile pulls out from behind his back a small rectangular jewlery case, he opens it to reveal a beautiful shining string of real pearls.

Sometimes our Father in Heaven asks us to sacrifice things that to our temporal understanding are precious and special, so that He can give us in return that which has real value and is priceless in comparason. Sometimes He asks us to sacrifice things that maybe we don't value but just can't give up. He asks for our time, money, talents, for our pride and fear, He asks us to sacrifice expectations and unrealized dreams, He asks us to sacrifice righteous desires and best laid plans, and more than all that He asks us to sacrifice our sins, to give them up so that He can sanctify us. He doesn't always ask us to sacrifice these things, but surely there will come to all a moment in our lives where He will ask us for that which we value most, or that which we just can't give up. With all the sacrifices He asks of us, whatever it be, they can all be summed up into one request He makes to us, '' Will you give me your heart?''

I have thought for a while how it is that we can give our all to the Lord, our whole heart. And as I was preparing my talk and discussing some ideas with my companion she told me that we can only really truly give our heart to the Lord when we sacrifice that which we value when He asks for it. We give our heart to the Lord in the small and big sacrifices of our lives. We give our heart to the Lord by sacrificing 3 hours of every Sunday to go to church, sacrificing 10% of our income to pay tithing, living the law of chastity in a world that doesn't value virtue, not drinking coffee or alcohol to live the Lord's Word of Wisdom, and on and on. Some of the sacrifices He asks are very personal, to some He asks to sacrifice their life to serve a mission for a time, to some He asks to sacrifice schooling to have a family, to some He asks to sacrifice better job opportunities to live honestly, to some He asks to sacrifice precious time and energy to serve in His church.

He asks these sacrifice to give us the opportnity to give Him our heart and by theredoing to be sanctified and made worthy to enter into His presence. We are here to prepare for eternal life. Sometimes I forget that. But that is His work, as it should be ours.

I love the Lord and I love His work.
Hermana Bowns
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The Cueca

i learned how to dance the cueca. it is the traditional dance of chile. its super fun and not that hard. i learned it because with the outfit i wore yesterday everyone was telling me i looked like a cueca dancer. so someone taught it to me.

Monday, April 9, 2012

April 9, 2012 - Easter

Hola hola!

Mini-Mission

This week was unique! We did something called a mini-mission. 4 young women (ages 16-18) from another city came to be our companions for 4 days. That means that for 4 days I was senior companion walking around with an 18 year old Chilean. It was great! The young women who came were SO amazing. They were better missionaries than I was after 2 months in the mission. When my companion would teach, the Spirit was so strong. I learned a lot from these young girls! I also learned a lot from the experience because this was the first time, in my whole mission thus far, that I was senior companion, which means that I was responsible for the work we did as a companionship. My new companion didn´t know where we were giong or who we were going to teach, or how we were going to do it. It was a great test for me, to see how much I have learned and progressed in the past 6 months. For example, 6 months ago I marveled at how my trainer could manage situations. She could teach anywhere to anyone, and invite people to be baptised at any moment, when she felt that the moment was right. She was bold and could teach even drunk people who would talk to us in the street. I remember thinking how amazing she was and wondering if I would ever be able to do that.

Progress and Growth

Well, in these past 4 days I found myself teaching about the importance of baptism to two women in a little street store and inviting them to be baptized, and then when a drunk man interrupted us to tell me how beautiful I was and that he would change his life if I would date him, I found myself boldly telling him to change his life for Jesus Christ, not me, and giving him a pamphlet about the Word of Wisdom to read. Sometimes we don't stop to look  back in our lives and see how far we´ve come, but I did this weekend and was pleasantly surprised that I have grown and progressed! If you haven´t stopped to see your own progress lately, I encourage you to do so. Think of what you were doing or who you were 6 months ago and who you are or what you are doing now and see the ways in which you are doing better! And if you would like to see more progess, set some goals so that when you look back 6 months from now, that you will see even more progress! We are here to better ourselves, and it is this progress and growth that helps us to feel happy:)

Easter

And Happy Easter!! One of my companions made us little "easter baskets" (a bowl made of paper with candy inside) and in church we heard some really wonderful talks about the Savior. One of the speakers talked about the great importance of the Atonement and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He cited these scriptures from the Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi, Chapter 9:

For as death hath passed upon all men, to fulfil the merciful plan of the great Creator, there must needs be a power of resurrection...Wherefore, it must needs be an infinite atonement—save it should be an infinite atonement this corruption could not put on incorruption. Wherefore, the first judgment which came upon man must needs have remained to an endless duration. And if so, this flesh must have laid down to rot and to crumble to its mother earth, to rise no more. (verses 6-7)

And he cometh into the world that he may save all men if they will hearken unto his voice; for behold, he suffereth the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children... And he suffereth this that the resurrection might pass upon all men, that all might stand before him at the great and judgment day. And he commandeth all men that they must repent, and be baptized in his name, having perfect faith in the Holy One of Israel, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God. For the atonement satisfieth the demands of his justice upon all those who have not the law given to them, that they are delivered from that awful monster, death and hell...and they are restored to that God who gave them breath, which is the Holy One of Israel. (verses 21-26)

The speaker read these scriptures and then said something along the lines of: i get it now. I get why it was so essential that Jesus came to the earth suffered for our sins, died on the cross, and was resurrected. Because if not we would die and never rise again. If not we would be subject to the devil forever. If not, we have no hope for life and happiness. Jesus Christ is the Savior of the whole world. He died that we might have eternal life. He was resurrected and He lives. And all He asks is that we now sacrifice, not our life,  but rather our sins through our own repentance, that He might heal and save us. Even though this was a special weekend that we could remind ourselves of Him and His life, I hope we always remember His Atonement and resurrection and what that means for us!

I love you! Thank you for your love and support and prayers!
Hermana Bowns
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Monday, April 2, 2012

April 2, 2012 - General Conference

Talk about a spiriually boosting weekend.

We spent the whole weekend watching conference practically! As a zone we had a barbeque in between one of the sessions with all the missionaries in my zone and some members of the church. Luckily we who are not native spanish speakers got to listen to Conference in English. That helped so I could really get every last drop out of Conference:)

I love General Conference! All of the talks were amazing and inspiring, but here are some highlights of my favorites or things that people said that really hit home.

Elder Donald L. Hallstrom:

"It is possible to be active in the Church and inactive in the Gospel." What a horrible thought. I was just astounded during his talk at the prospects of that and loved the point he made that we need to be fully and completely converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Church helps us to do that.But if we are active in the Church, and don't understand the Gospel we are missing the point.

President Henry B. Eyring:

Quoting Spencer W. Kimball said, "I feel to say to the Lord humbly, Give me this mountain, give me these challenges." I love so much to listen to President Eyring. His words are always so full of love and the Spirit. His talk and some experiences I've had recently have caused me to think about the reason for afflictions and trials, and what it means if we have little or lots of trials.

I was studying a little about this and came across two scriptures in the Book of Mormon that taught me a little more about afflictions. Alma 32:6 "Alma (a prophet)...beheld that their afflictions had truly humbled them, and that they were in a preparation to hear the word." The challenges we are given and afflictions we pass through are meant to help us be humble. I asked myself "Are you letting your afflictions humble you and prepare you to be taught?" And then in Ether 12:27 "And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."

I like how it all comes together - Our afflictions humble us and help us to see our weaknesses. And when we acknowledge our weaknesses humbly before the Lord He strengthens us! So afflictions are really a blessing that help us learn and grow as we humble ourselves. President Eyring explains a little in his talk, "why...great blessings can come from adversity to more than compensate for any cost."

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland:

"We are not in a race against others, we are in a race against sin!" and "If you have made covenants, keep them. If you haven't made covenants, make them. If you have made covenants and broken them, repent and repair them!"

Elder David S. Baxter:

I was really touched by his talk directed at single parents, and especially single mothers. I liked that he said, "You can't change the past, but you can shape the future." If you are a single parent check out the talk on http://www.lds.org/general-conference/sessions/2012/04?lang=eng.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf:

"The moment we judge others we condemn ourselves, for none is without sin." and "Heaven will be full of people who have been forgiven and who forgive." Many of the speakers of this conference addressed the need to put away contention, envy, and discord in our lives. I really liked that. Life is too short and too precious to be caught up in petty misunderstandings, or even serious grievances. Like President Uchtdorf said "We are all dependent on the mercy of God." So why should we deny it from other people and condemn ourselves by judging and not forgiving others?

Elder M. Russell Ballard:

Of course my ears perked up whenever someone talked about the family, and I loved this talk! I loved that he talked about causes and effects and how the family is the greatest cause in this life (it causes the most wonderful things and has the most beneficial effects), then using a little play on words he said that we should fight for this cause, the cause of family. He said, "Life is better as hearts turn toward family, and as families walk in the light of Christ."


General Conference was DEFINITELY the highlight of the week. These men and women are called of God and speak with His power. These are the words of eternal life! If we listen and learn from them and apply them to our lives we will find greater peace and joy in this life and in the life to come!

I hope you look up the talks online and read them over and over. I know I am going to!

Love Hermana Bowns


PS I hope you liked my April Fool's joke:) They don't really eat frozen cow tongue here...but they do have this cool popsicle that is like frozen jello!

Note: The church will have conference talk text uploaded to the website after April 5th. Once it is up I'll link each to each talk Di mentioned. The speakers' names are linked to their talks from the April 2012 General Conference. -Ryann

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Summer Snack

video