Monday, August 27, 2012

August 27, 2012 - Reflections on Forgiveness

Here I am in my new sector!!! My new sector is GIMUNGEOUS! When my companion showed me the map of our sector I stood there with my mouth open for two minutes...stunned. I'm still lost when we walk around. It is going to take me weeks to figure out where everything is.

It has been a little bit of a rough transition, but I know that before no time I will feel right at home here. The ward members are really loving and accepting and I am jumping right in with teaching a weekly cooking workshop and a piano class to invite people to come get to know the church and it's members.

My new companion is from Chile and she is so loving and funny. She is teaching me how to really speak Chilean and how to understand jokes in spanish (which is the hardest for me, I usually just laugh without really getting the joke:)

Chilean cultural tidbits:

Chileans aren't super into really sweet things. Most of the desserts that I make they like but always say they are too sweet. (like peach cobbler or muddy buddies). Their cakes here aren't very sweet (and to me compared to Betty Crocker they taste like cardboard). It also is not uncommon to find a cake made out of crackers! They'll crush up the crackers and mix it with Manjar (a sweet sticky substance) mold it and put frosting on it. It tastes good, but definitely something I had never seen before.

Their Independence Day is the 18th of September...but they prepare for it the whole month of September and take a week off to celebrate it. For 5 days there are parties, parades, barbeques, and people dressed up in the traditional Chilean cowboy attire. I am SO excited for the 18th! This will be my first 18 of Sept in Chile because last year I got here right after all the festivities.


I learned something in church yesterday! My companion and I taught the Sunday School lesson and the topic was Repentance. We reviewed the 7 principles of repentance which are:

  1. Recognize our sins
  2. Feel sorrow for what we have done
  3. Forsake or abandon the sinful behavior
  4. Confess the sin to God and those you have offended
  5. Make restitution for the damage you've done
  6. Forgive others
  7. Keep the commandments

The one that really caught my attention was number 6. It had never quite occurred to me that our own repentance process is not complete if we ourselves refuse to forgive others.

We read the scripture in 3 Nephi 13:14-15 which says  ''For, if ye forgive men their trespasses your heavenly Father will also forgive you; But if ye forgive not men their trespasses neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.'' That really hit me for some reason. It is so important that we forgive others. Who are we to withhold forgiveness and healing to others? Our time on Earth is too short and our salvation is too precious to not forgive.

In a General Conference talk years ago, President Monson quoted George Herbert, an early 17th-century poet, who said: “He that cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass if he would ever reach heaven, for everyone has need of forgiveness.”(Hidden Wedges, April 2002)  (For another good read look up the talk by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf called The Merciful Obtain Mercy from the April 2012 General Conference).

Prophets and Apostles have been counseling us for years to forgive others and to forgive ourselves, and I am starting to see how important and essential that really is. It has caused me to think and reflect upon my life and if I have any unhealed wounds, any lingering grudges or offenses, I hope you will do the same and if you find that there are still festering wounds that you will extend forgiveness to those who need it, or ask for forgiveness to those you have offended so that we can really benefit from the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The healing and happiness and hope that we need comes only from one source, Jesus Christ and His glorious Gospel.

With love, Hermana Bowns

Monday, August 20, 2012

August 20, 2012 - Transfers!

Do you like surprises????

Good cuz I have a huge surprise! I'm being transferred!

I was 98% sure I was NOT leaving (just like everytime I feel like I'm not being transfered and then end up getting transfered). We were so sure I wasn't leaving that my companion pretty much already said bye to everyone and she packed all her bags the night before. We were in shock this morning when we got the news that I am leaving. I am still in shock. But changes are always good and I know I am going to love my new sector.

Cultural Tidbits

It has been awhile since I wrote some Chilean Cultural Tidbits so here some are:

Chileans LOVE lemons. They put lemon juice and everything, and more than once I have caught people eating lemons straight with salt on them. ooooo...sour!

All of the schools here have uniforms. Which usually consists of pants or a skirt and a button up shirt or a polo type shirt. To keep the clothes clean all the kids also have this jackety thing that looks like a doctor's lab coat that they wear on the way to or home from school. I could never figure out why the kids wore them (because they are kind of funny looking), but then one kid told me it is to protect his idea.

There is also a high school here in my town called Funny School. I was talking to a woman who works in the school district and asked her if she knew what the name meant, she said she had no idea. She said though that out of all of the schools in the district it had the most students. Not because it was the best academially, nor because it was the cheapest (all the schools are private schools here), but because its name was in English. I laughed out loud and told the lady that the school's name meant Funny School and then she just started laughing herself. She said people go crazy for stuff in English even if they don't know what it means.


This week it rained 4 out of the 7 days of the week. And three if those days were in a row! I get the feeling I'm still in for some rain this winter!

Moving Mountains

This weekend my companion and I sang in another baptismal service. We sang another Jenny Philips song called Valiant Faith. There is a line that says something about how I was born to fight for the right, to move mountains and to see the power of God in my life. I liked that because it reminded me that that really is why I am here. To fight for the right, to move mountains and to see the power of God work in my life and in the lives of others.

Valiant Faith by Jenny Phillips:  In English • In Spanish (YouTube videos)

Photo source:
Tolhuaca Volcano, Chile
It made me think about the mountains that I have seen moved and the mountains there still are to move. And about how I want to see the power of God more in my life. Mountains are moved through our great faith. What are the mountains in your life that need to move? And how can you move them with the help of God through your great faith? I like the reminders from these scriptures:

Mormon 9:27 "...wonder not, but hearken unto the words of the Lord, and ask the Father in the name of Jesus for what things soever ye shall stand in need. Doubt not, but be believing, and begin as in times of old, and come unto the Lordwith all your heart..."

Doctrine and Covenants 6:36 "Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not."

Don't doubt and don't fear. Those mountains WILL move! Have faith and ask the Lord for the things you need and He will help you. Don't think it's impossible. If the Lord has asked you to do it, it can be done! I echo the testimony of Nephi when he said, "If God had commanded me to do all things I could do them. If he should command me that I should say unto this water, be thou earth, it should be earth; and if I should say it, it would be done." (1 Nephi 17:50)

Photo source: • R: Mt. Shasta, California,
L: Miscanti Lagoon near San Pedro de Atacama Chile Luca Galuzzi 2006
Let's go forth with great faith this week moving mountains that appear will not budge! I know I have some challenges awaiting me in my new sector and so I more than ever will be putting into practice my faith to see the power of God work in my life and in my sector!

With much love, Hermana Bowns

Monday, August 13, 2012

August 13, 2012 - One of the Best Weeks

This has been one of the BEST weeks in my mission. Why? Because so many wonderful things happened this week. I have felt truly blessed because I have seen first hand the work and glory of God, and what a glorious work it is! My companion and I were talking the other day about how it is times like these that we feel like we could live here and be missionaries for the rest of our lives. And it is because there is so greater joy than seeing the work of the savlation of souls, to see people change their hearts, accept the Gospel and start to live it with their families!

We have been teaching a really amazing family! Yesterday the father of the family who holds the priesthood had the opportunity to baptize his wife (who the first time we visited her said she would never go to church and never get baptized!). They have started having family prayer every night, the mom did a little missionary work when she explained to her own parents why she had made the decision to be baptized and was able to bear her testimony about the Gospel. One of the sons and the daughter-in-law bore their testimonies in church, and the mom and daughter were so touched by the hymn 'Love at Home' that they got teary-eyed during the baptismal service! These are small, but simple demonstrations to me of true conversion to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And seeing the conversion of others strengthens my own conviction that this is the Church of Jesus Christ and this is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and there is no other way given that leads to eternal life and happiness!

In the baptismal service my companion and I sang a song called Courageously by Jenny Philips (but we sang it in Spanish).

Needless to say, it was a very special week/weekend. I feel a little bit like Alma when he said "I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy. And behold, when I see many of my brethren truly penitent, and coming to the Lord their God, then is my soul filled with joy; then do I remember what the Lord has done for me, yea, even that he hath heard my prayer; yea, then do I remember his merciful arm which he extended towards me." (Alma 29:9-10)

The Lord is so merciful and I feel privileged to be able to be an instrument in His hands. I hope you too can find opportunities in your life to be an instrument in the Lord's hands in serving others and helping them to feel the love of God, and come unto him.

With much love, Hermana Bowns

Here is a picture of me and my wonderful companion
 making a delicious treat.