Monday, May 21, 2012

May 21, 2012

Hello hello!

Cultural Tidbits

Ok, first of all I have to tell you about the buses here in my sector. So there are a million hills and curves, and when we take the bus into Concepcion on our preparation day  it is like a 30 minutes ride, and I have never been on such a crazy ride in my life. Its like a roller coaster. If you don't watch yourself you could fly out of your seat. And for the past two weeks I almost threw up on the bus ride. It is THAT intense. Its the combination of hills, curves, and rough manual changes (all the cars are manual here) that makes for a crazy ride.

Another funny thing that I have noticed this week is how vague the people here are sometimes. Maybe its because we are missionaries and sometimes people don't want to tell us the truth, or because I don't understand Spanish 100%, but I get really confused when people are telling me about their schedule or giving me directions.

In directions its usually, "around the corner, on this side [with a hand motion...what side? they don't use north or south here], in front of the police station, on the hill, above Maria's house," etc. If I didn't have a native Spanish speaking companion, I would be lost.

And with schedules it's worse. One day we were talking to a woman about a job for an investigator. The woman didn't live there and told us to come by when the owner of the house was home. She told us to come by after 6pm. Then she told us to wait till the end of the month. Then she told us it would be better to talk to the neighbor. Then said it would be better to come by after 8pm. In the end she told us it would be better to wait and not talk to anyone about the job yet....what? I was confused. And that happens all the time. People say "I'm never home, well i get home at 5p, but I go to my grandma's house and don't get back till 11p, but my mom comes home at 8p and i have to eat dinner with her..." I get lost in the details :) Who comes when at what time and where? I think its mainly my lack of understanding Spanish, but it makes me laugh sometimes.

Faith, Fear, and Doubt

This week is the last week of the transfer. Next Monday we will see if I get a new companion or not. I don't think I will. I love my current companion, and I think we will be together for one more transfer before she goes to a new place.

We have been having a trial here in our sector finding people who are willing and ready to accept our message of the restored Gospel. It has been a trial of our faith and patience, and we are learning how to be diligent and faithful. The quote and motto of this next transfer is,

"If God had commanded me to do all things I could do them."
1 Nephi 17:50

I am learning a lot about what it really means to have faith. I still don't fully understand, but it has to do with being positive and full of hope, and acting to bring to pass the things you've been commanded. It has to do with not doubting or all. Fear and doubt will destroy faith because where they are faith cannot be. So this next transfer that is the goal. Get rid of all doubt and fear and walk in faith believing that all things that the Lord commands me, I can do!

I hope you too can learn to eliminate doubt and fear from your life and walk with 100% faith in Jesus Christ, in His Gospel and His promises.

Love, Hermana Bowns

Monday, May 14, 2012

May 14, 2012 - Happy Mother's Day!

Hola hola!

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY to all the mothers who read this!!

Cultural Tidbits

First...Chilean cultural tidbits...its been awhile since I wrote some of those.

Chileans are REALLY resourceful, it isn't uncommon to see a soda bottle being used in other functions, like cut in half with a plant growing out of it, or the top cut off and used as a scoop for cereal, it is also common to see an old tire used as a plant pot. But my favorite example of Chilean resourcefulness is that one day we started talking to a man pushing a cart selling plants. we started asking him about his work and he told us that he doesn't sell the plants, he goes around asking for old shoes and giving plants in exchange for old shoes. Then he fixes up the shoes and sells me seemed like a run around to make a buck, but then i thought about it and maybe shoes sell for more...

Another thing is that here in Chile the rating system for grades is 1 to 7 instead of A to F. So when someone says they got a 6.8 its really good! People also use 7 to describe things that are really great, like if a friend has a girlfriend who's really pretty or nice, you could say, "She's a 7!" And its a compliment!

Greeting people is also a big deal here. I think I've mentioned before that when we go to a ward activity or something, you have to greet everyone, or else people get offended. This past Sunday I noticed that when people got up to give a talk they said, "Hello, good afternoon, to all the people I haven't greeted yet" it's like covering your bases, so no one feels like you didn't greet them on purpose :)

Crazy Week!

Okay, this past week was a little crazy. We had a mini-cambio (which means that me and my companion and another companionship of sisters change companions for the day). Then we had a ward talent show where we had to act out a story from the scriptures, but we did it last minute because...well we're missionaries and don't have time to practice for talent shows. Then I got to video chat with my family!

Three great things, but out of the missionary life norm. so now i'm getting back into the groove of everyday missionary life.

Obedient, Faithful, and Diligent

In the mini-cambio I got to be with a missionary who has 2 months more in the mission than me. She is amazing! I learned a lot from her. I got to see what I can really do if I keep pushing ahead and trying to improve. She mainly taught me about the blessings of being exactly obedient, being faithful (and what that really means) and being diligent.

I learned that when we are faithful we believe that we can do things! Not one negative or discouraged thought enters our mind. We believe, and then we act to bring things to pass. When we are obedient, God is obligated to bless us. You cannot have the success and happiness and sense of fulfillment you want if you aren't being obedient. And then when we are diligent it fine tunes our ability to hear the Spirit and helps us really tune in to what God wants us to do.

I saw miracles walking around with this sister. I was blown away. I work hard , but she works hard and accomplishes amazing things. Now I'm just trying to apply what I've learned...which really is the hardest part. I am at the point in my mission where I feel like I know what I need to do to be more successful and feel more fulfilled in what I'm doing, but I just can't quite do it. How do you bridge the gap between knowing and doing?

I'm still working on it :) But I know that when I figure it out it will be the step to more growth and improvement!

I hope you all had a Happy Mother's Day weekend.

Love you! Hermana Bowns

Monday, May 7, 2012

May 7, 2012 - Mountains to Climb

Mountains to Climb

Did I mention in one of my last letters that I liked that General Conference talk by Elder Eyring from this last General Conference? Well, everyday I've got that quote in my head,
''Give me mountains to climb,''

and I ask myself,

''How do I climb the mountain?''

The switch to a new sector and being senior companion has been great! I have learned so much in just three weeks, but I have a ton more to learn. These past three weeks have been a combination of showing me that I am capable and have a lot of weaknesses. So its been great and horrible at the same time. No one likes to be shown point blank their weak points, but in the mission there is no escaping them.

This last week was the hardest. I live in a house with three other sisters, and boy have we had a run for it in the health department. First my companion fell and skinned up her knee bad, then one sister has got a serious sinus, bronchitis problem, another sister seemed to have scabies (a little bug that lives under your skin and bits you a million times) which is HIGHLY contagious, and then just two days ago I contracted pink eye, and now three out of the four of us have a cold. So we all are doing scabies treatment to prevent spreadage of that (which seems to be uneffective as I have started getting little bug bites).

But today we went to the doctor and with the right meds we should be back to normal in no time! We live across the street from the Bishop and his wife who treat us like their daughters, so no worries, we are in good hands. And all these sicknesses just make life exciting. When I went to church on Sunday my eye was almost swollen shut, so everyone in the ward made fun of me for winking at everyone, and I managed to play the piano for the sacrament hymns with one good eye and one eye half open!

Also it has started raining. I got a taste of Chilean rain yesterday...this is gonna be fun! it will rain torrents, then stop, then rain hard, then you always have to be on your guard. And sometimes the rain is accompanied by gusting winds so strong that it is pointless to use an umbrella because it will break or you will fly away. Luckily for me I really like rain. So all the windy, stormy weather makes me feel happy...we'll see if I sing the same tune after a week of rain non-stop :)

Mission Conference

Two weeks ago we also had a visit from a member of the Quorom of the Seventy. Elder Kevin R. Duncan (he told me that he went to reorganize the Rocklin and Granite Bay Stakes a year!) He taught us a lot of great things. Three things that stuck with me and that I want to put into practice are,

  1. Love needs to be the motivation. You can't force people to act or do things, but if you love them, you invite them to act out of love as well. All that God does He does because He loves us. And He wants us to also do all that we do out of our love for Him.
  2. We have to have a vision of what we want to accomplish. If we don't have a clear view of where we are going (in the long run, and in the short run) it will be harder to get there or accomplish things. And we can't let difficult circumstances in the moment discourage us from continuing to work for the future.
  3. We need to be creators of circumstances. You have to MAKE things happen in your life. If you aren't willing to strive to make things come to pass in your life, you have no one else to blame than yourself for not accomplishing things in you life. We will always be acted upon, but God sent us here to ACT. To choose and work and strive and bring to pass good things through our own efforts and righteousness.
It was a great conference (minus the fact that me and my three housemates couldn't shake his hand because we didn't want to risk giving him scabies:) how embarrassing!)

• • •

Even though sometimes things don't go the way planned, and it is more comfortable to not pass through hard times, I know that hard times are essential if we are to learn and grow. I'm in the growing pain stage of my mission, the stretching is uncomfortable, but I know that I'll come out of it better, stronger, and more capable!

I love the Gospel of Jesus Christ which teaches us to repent and try to always be better, and to endure the trials in this life with faith, trusting always in the Savior.

I love you, thank you for your support while I am here on my mission! I appreciate your prayers and encouragement :)

Hermana Bowns