Friday, November 28, 2014

Firm as the Mountains Around Us

Well I'm starting to wish it was winter again because my comp and I are literally dying of heat and the worst part about it is that it's only spring....My comp even carries around an umbrella to hide herself from the sun! "I don't care what the people think" she says, haha.  Anyways, this week we definitely ran into a lot of obstacles! We are working with so many miracles and the devil sure is doing his part as well. My comp and I got to a point where we were so tried of running into bumps and obstacles that our faith was running on training wheels. Not only were we struggling, but so were our investigators. During one of our district meetings this week, we sang "Firm as the Mountains Around Us," (Carry On)

1. Firm as the mountains around us,
Stalwart and brave we stand
On the rock our fathers planted
For us in this goodly land—
The rock of honor and virtue,
Of faith in the living God.
They raised his banner triumphant—
Over the desert sod.
And we hear the desert singing:
Carry on, carry on, carry on!
Hills and vales and mountains ringing:
Carry on, carry on, carry on!
Holding aloft our colors,
We march in the glorious dawn.
O youth of the noble birthright,
Carry on, carry on, carry on!
2. We'll build on the rock they planted
A palace to the King.
Into its shining corridors,
Our songs of praise we'll bring,
For the heritage they left us,
Not of gold or of worldly wealth,
But a blessing everlasting
Of love and joy and health.
As we sang this hymn, it brought me hope and as well faith that as as my comp and I stay firm and look to the Lord in every moment and every decision we will succeed in the mission work. I realized that not every moment is going to be easy when at first it seems like everything's going great, but that God is testing our faith and our ability because He knows we can learn more and make us stronger, stand firm, and conquer our difficulties as well as others around us. 

We had an experience with the family Spnelli, where they ran into not only one but a few very difficult situations. Not only did this make things very difficult for the family, but that they have been struggling with many things their whole life. At this point they were hanging on by a thread. This is when my comp and I needed as much faith as we could to help this family. My comp and I tried to think of the best thing we could do to help the family and that was to pray and fast. With the little energy they had, they decided to put their faith to the test. They had heard of the law of fast but never actually fasted before. We taught them the importance of fasting and we got the opportunity to pray and fast together with Cynthia and Marcelo, as well as many blessings were brought forth for this family. I have learned so much from this family and their faith and diligence, not only has the Lord sent my companion and I to share with them a wonderful message of the gospel, but I think I have learned more from them than they have from me. This family are definitely angels in my eyes as they strive to live the life that God wants them to live. I testify that when you are struggling and don't have anymore strength, look to the Lord, ask for help, He will hear your cries, He is waiting for you to communicate to Him. Have faith in the Lord, He is your father and He loves you. 

Dallan H. Oak s- Ensign May 2012 
"Why are so many willing to give so much in order to receive the blessings of the temple? Those who understand the eternal blessings which come from the temple know that no sacrifice is too great, no price too heavy, no struggle too difficult in order to receive those blessing. There are never too many miles to travel, too many obstacles to overcome, or too much discomfort to endure.. to be endowed with blessings and power from on high are worth every sacrifice and every effort." 

We have also been working with another family Zerom for almost 3 months now. They have 7 kids a total of 9!!! My comp and I have been trying and trying to get them to church but haven't had any success. This week my comp and I had an appointment with an investigator with one of our members in the church. Well the apt. fell through and we thought of the family Zerom to quickly pass by to see how they were. Well a miracle happened! In the first 5 min Hermana Marazita had everyone - all of the members in the family sitting down in a circle listening in on the lesson including the husband. When this has NEVER happened before. She also invited them over to her house this week for Family Home Evening. What a blessing it is to have such strong experiences with members of the church! Without Hermana Marazita we might have never gotten the family to listen. We are super excited to get this family going and active!! 

Homework: I invite you to give a prayer of only THANKS tonight, which means you're not allowed to ask for anything! :) in return, you will realize how many things you are blessed with in your life when you didn't see them in the first place. 

P.S. HAPPY THANKSGIVING to everyone at home! Eat lots of turkey for me because they don't have Thanksgiving here :( 

ALMA 26:31
 31 Now behold, we can look forth and see the fruits of our labors; and are they few? I say unto you, Nay, they are many; yea, and we can witness of their sincerity, because of their love towards their brethren and also towards us.

Surprise Wedding Dress for Family Spnelli

The Family Spnelli

Our Zone

My Companion and her Umbrella :)

Monday, November 17, 2014

When Faith Endures

We have HOT water!!  For the past two weeks, my companion and I have been suffering freezing cold showers and yesterday one of our members in the church came to our rescue!  FINALLY warm showers again!  So first of all, Monday we found out that the family that is from the United States is exactly one street away from our that was kind of a bummer, which means we no longer are able to teach them.  But we had a wonderful baptism for our investigator Angie on Sunday!  Just about all of the members from the ward came to support, as well as wonderful talks and testimonies were given.  The spirit was definitely present and the room was filled with lots of tears of joy and smiles.  It was also wonderful to watch Angie's mom feel the spirit as she watched her daughter get baptized.

So this week we had a HUGE miracle.  My companion and I got permission to leave our area with our investigator, Cynthia (The mother of the family of 5 we have been teaching), to go to an area called, "White" to get a marriage date set.  When we got to White, Cynthia asked for the closest date possible and after getting everything settled, the date was set for December 17, almost 5 weeks from how.  Well my companion and I decided to call everyday for a cancellation if someone dropped out so she could take their spot.  Well on Friday morning, we called and they told us the earliest they could do was in 20 days.  Once we got off the phone, my companion and I only had 1 1/2 hours to get to White with Cynthia before it closed, or we would have had to wait all weekend and then the date would be delayed.  So my companion and I immediately left the apartment and ran to Cynthia's house to tell them the news and that they had about 2 minutes to be ready to leave....H  Anyways, we called a taxi and when the car pulled up he told us he couldn't take kids. So then, we had to go to plan B.  The bus which drives super fast and is always packed with a million people and with two kids and a baby....Good Luck!  Also, we needed to see how much money we had left in our collectivo card.  The closest store that had a collectivo machine (ATMO was broken and the nearest store that had one was about a 25 minute walk, so we decided to pray and have faith that we had enough.  Once the bus pulled up, we swiped the card and there was EXACTLY enough money on the card for all of us!!  We made it just in time before it closed and right when Cynthia went in and my companion and I started saying a lot of prayers and hoped that all would go well.  Once Cynthia came out, she immediately had a sad face and shook her head, "No"....I was about to cry and I was seconds away from pouncing in the office myself until Cynthia made a little smirk and said, "Yes", they changed the date to November 28!  She said the look on my face was sooo funny!  Once we found out the truth I couldn't hold in the joy and I started jumping and screaming for joy and running around like a three year old!!  I was so happy and so was my companion and Cynthia as well as the two little boys. :)  Through this experience, I definitely learned a lot of diligence and faith that when we have faith in the ord, ANYthing is possible.  I know that we could have not done it without the Lord's help, because we definitely had many obstacles that we had to go through and the devil is trying to do anything he can to stop us.  But as we are diligent in all things, we are successful with the Lord's help.

This family has had so much diligence and patience.  They have so much faith and humility.  Not only has it been such a great opportunity to teach them, but I have learned so much from them!  They are heros in MY eyes.  Every night we've gotten the chance to call them at 10:00pm to say bedtime prayers together.  They on the other side kneel and my companion and I do the same on the other and pray over the phone together.  It's been such a wonderful experience to hear not only the kids learn to pray but also the parents.

I have noticed that especially here in Argentina, it has been a struggle to find families who's parents are married civilly.  I was reading the talk, "Decisions for Eternity", November 2013 (General Conference) and I wanted to share with you a part that I loved.....

We are “free to choose liberty and eternal life … or to choose captivity and death.” When we choose the loftier path toward liberty and eternal life, that path includes marriage. Latter-day Saints proclaim that “marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.” We also know that “gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.”
Marriage between a man and a woman is fundamental to the Lord’s doctrine and crucial to God’s eternal plan. Marriage between a man and a woman is God’s pattern for a fulness of life on earth and in heaven. God’s marriage pattern cannot be abused, misunderstood, or misconstrued. Not if you want true joy. God’s marriage pattern protects the sacred power of procreation and the joy of true marital intimacy. We know that Adam and Eve were married by God before they ever experienced the joy of uniting as husband and wife.
While we are to emulate our Savior’s kindness and compassion, while we are to value the rights and feelings of all of God’s children, we cannot change His doctrine. It is not ours to change. His doctrine is ours to study, understand, and uphold.
The Savior’s way of life is good. His way includes chastity before marriage and total fidelity within marriage. The Lord’s way is the only way for us to experience enduring happiness. His way brings sustained comfort to our souls and perennial peace to our homes. And best of all, His way leads us home to Him and our Heavenly Father, to eternal life and exaltation. This is the very essence of God’s work and glory.
My dear brothers and sisters, each day is a day of decision, and our decisions determine our destiny. One day each of us will stand before the Lord in judgment. We will each have a personal interview with Jesus Christ. We will account for decisions that we made about our bodies, our spiritual attributes, and how we honored God’s pattern for marriage and family. That we may choose wisely each day’s decisions for eternity
There are always going to be obstacles we are going to run into.  We have lots of decisions we have to make in life and we have to think "which path do I take?  or "What path does God have in store for me?"  As we strive to live worthy everyday, and keep God's commandments, we will receive so many blessings in our lives and in our families.  I know these things to be true with all my heart because I have seen it in my own family and also the people that I teach.  I have seen them grow and God has blessed them with unimaginable things.
Homework:  Read, "The Family a Proclamation to the World"

Sweet is the Work

Transfers!!  Once again we had transfers and I'm with my same companion Hermana Cruz in Pueyrredon.  I'm so excited to work with her for another 6 weeks as we have had so many miracles together.  This week we had stake conference on Sunday and once again the Family Spnelli came to church as well as two other investigators (Angie and Madia).  One who is preparing to get baptized this next Sunday after her marriage on Saturday.  I also had a wonderful reunion with many of the members in my first area in Pigue because they too are in the same stake that I'm serving in right now.  I got to see just about the whole ward as well as some great news about an old investigator (Leanor) who just got baptized two weeks ago!!

Our investigator (Angie) who is getting baptized this week has been preparing now for awhile but needed to get married first before she could take that step forward for baptism.  Her mom is also here from the Dominican Republic for 3 months for the wedding, so my companion and I got the chance to teach her about the gospel as well.  She absolutely loves the church and talks about how much peace and comfort she feels from it and what this gospel carries.  This week we taught her the first lesson as well as the importance of the Book of Mormon.  He daughter couldn't be there during the lesson but we got the chance to call her daughter on speaker phone as she bore a wonderful testimony about the gospel to her mom.  I love that Angie (daughter) has been such a wonderful example for her mother.  Not only did Angie find a testimony of the gospel, but she is acting upon it, she knows and wants God's plan, understands the importance of marriage to fulfil a commandment, to be baptized by someone holding the priesthood and authority of God!  It's been such a wonderful experience to watch Angie grow and not only her but her mother as well.

The family Spnelli who we have been working with has attended church twice now!  We ended up having family home evening with them on Thursday night.  They have 2 little boys and a baby girl who are into everything all the time, just like any other family.  So my companion and I knew that we needed to do something that not only involved the parents but the children as well.  So we decided to watch "The Restoration."  By doing so, 30 minutes passed by and not one of the kids made a peep!  The spirit was so strong and even the parents were in shock.  After the movie we discussed the restoration and also talked about the Holy Ghost and how it brought peace and comfort into the room.  In this moment we also asked the family to be baptized as well as commit to being married.  Suddenly, they agreed!!!  My companion and I are so excited and because of their faith and action, they will be a family eterna!!  That night we all prayed as a family on our knees and it reminded me of my own home and my own family.  I'm so grateful for the family I have now, but how wonderful it is to have the opportunity to bring other families together and one day be sealed in the temple for time and eternity.

I also ran into my first English speaking investigator!  She is from Maryland and her family has now lived here for almost a year now.  The family hardly knows any Spanish and the mom has been searching for a church for the family to attend.  My companion and I have an appointment with them on Monday.  It was the weirdest experience to speak English again.  Not only that, but I couldn't get the words to come out of my mouth.  It was like trying to learn how to speak Spanish for the first time, but English....OH NO!!!....

I can't express how happy I am to be serving as a missionary in Argentina to share something that is so important in my life with my brothers and sisters here in Bahia Blanca.

1 Nephi 8:12

 12 And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit.

I have never felt so close to my Heavenly Father, He hears and answers all of my prayers and always has an answer in His own time because He knows my needs more than I even do.  I have loved every moment of the mission and that I get to communicate and share my love of this gospel with others.  I have never felt so much love and happiness when people accept this gospel and reach out to their Father in Heaven.  I also testify of the importance of marriage and what it can do to bring families closer and happier, as well as the examples of others in standing in righteousness and diligence.  There is nothing that has ever brought me more happiness than this gospel.  My family and friends, and missionary work, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Matthew 14:26 (Mateo 14:26) And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. 

Homework:  There are many people who need a smile on their face, go doorbell ditch someone with a plate of goodies!!!!  :)

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Keystone of Our Religion

Homework:  Give a Book of Mormon to a friend or loved one and remember to always keep a BOM with you, in your car, backpack, purse and even by your bed.  You can even buy a military sized one!

Hola familia y amigos!  Guess what?! I can't even express how happy I am.  We had miracles one right after another.  We taught lots of investigators as well as families.  The best part about it is, that we ended up having and ENTIRE family of 5 attend church yesterday, plus two other investigators!  I haven't been able to keep a smile off my face this whole week. My heart is so full of joy and happiness to see investigators progressing and following Christ's footsteps.  This coming week as well we have many dates with investigators as well as a family that we found last week.  I'm super excited to get to know them.  Yesterday, my companion and I got to make breakfast with this family that we a re teaching.  It was so fun to see their smiling faces and their excitement to go to church for the very first time!

So this week I wanted to talk a little about the Book of Mormon.  I had some wonderful experiences to testify of the importance of it and what it can do for us in our life.  First I wanted to express three important things that President Ezra Taft Benson mentioned in his talk, "The Book of Mormon-Keystone of our Religion". 
1.  The Book of Mormon is the keystone in our witness of Christ
2.  It is the keystone of our doctrine
3.  It is the keystone of testimony

My companion and I got the chance to teach a mother and her daughter all of lesson 1 as well as tell them of our testimonies and the importance of the Book of Mormon.  As we offered the book, the daughter turned it down and then the mother did the same.  The same memory of what happened last week when one of our investigators turned it down as well.  During my first 5 months in the mission, these have been the very first times when someone has said, "no", to a BOM.  I have never felt so saddened and heart-broken.  Why would someone say no, to something so valuable.  In this same day, we taught another lady, and got on the topic of personal answers to prayer and how she has never felt like she can find many answers to her solutions.  We shared with her our belief and what the BOM is and testfies and what is can do to help us in this life.  As we offered her the book, her eyes lit up with start and she said, "really, this is for me!"  In that very same moment, she opened the book and read a verse and right then she had found an answer or words of comfort to something she had been worried about.  She couldn't express how happy she was to receive such a wonderful thing!  

In the talk by President Ezra Taft Benson, he said, 
"Once we realize how the Lord feels about this book, it should not surprise us the He also gives us solemn warnings about how we receive it.  After indicating that those who receive the Book of Mormon with faith, working righteousness, will receive a crown of eternal glory (see D&C 20:14), the Lord follows with this warning:  "But those who harden their hearts in unbelief, and reject it, it shall turn to their own condemnation" (D&C 20:15)."

D&C 6:12
12 Make not thy gift known unto any save it be those who are of thy faith. Trifle not with sacred things.

Some people accept the book and others decline it.  Some take it for granted and others look at it like it's a wonderful gift.  Some read it, and others don't.  Some look at the book and judge its cover and some believe it's true before even opening it.  I never really fully realized how important and how powerful such a little book could be until I came on my mission. The praying and studying its words have brought me and have opened my eyes and ears on a whole other level.  I have known that reading both the Bible and the Book of Mormon was something that was always important, it was something my mom always taught me, but how many times did I end up falling asleep or making up excuses or reading and my mind somehow tended to wander off into space thinking about what I was going to wear the next day.  Or about school or how I want Wendy's french fries and a frosty for lunch tomorrow, the list goes one and on.  But the moment I actually sat down and read the Book with an open heart and clear mind, I never realized how precious such a thing could be in my life.  Today I hunger and thirst to read more!  I have watched investigators do the same.  As they open the book and open their hearts to learn, they receive inspiration and conversion.  I testify that this book has brought me personal revelation, knowledge, understanding a closer and greater love for God and the people I teach.  As missionaries, many people ask questions we .  We can answer them, but what a privilege it is to read a book from God and read His own words to find answers...even better!  Your own knowledge will grow 10 times stronger as you find the answers.  It's like a test at school....What is going to help you get that straight "A" you've always been looking for?  Looking at your text book cover and walking away saying you already know all of the answers?  or Shoving it under your pillow and hoping the answers will magically flow through you brain?  No, neither is asking for the answers from other people going to help! Opening the book, searching, pondering, studying and practicing!  This book was so special that it was made just for us in this time and this generation.  From the same talk it says....

"Each of the major writers of the Book of Mormon testified that he wrote for future generations.  Nephi said: "The Lord God promised unto me that these things which I write shall be kept and preserved, and handed down unto my seed, from generation to generation" (2 Nephi 25:21). His brother Jacob, who succeeded him, wrote similar words:  "For [Nephi] said that the history of his people should be engraven upon his other plates, and that I should preserve these plates and hand them down unto my seed, from generation to generation" (Jacob 1:3).  Enos and Jarom both indicated that they too were writing not for their own peoples but for future generations (see Enos 1:15-16, Jarom 1:2)."

I know and testify that there is a unique power to the Book of Mormon and of the Bible!  That it really is the keystone to our religion and our salvation!  Without it, we would fall.  It has helped me to draw nearer to God and be more like Him and His teachings.  To feel the spirit as a companion more strongly and its protection!  As God knows me personally, I'm striving to know Him.  I have found answers to many questions.  As well as this, I can apply things I learn in my daily life.  I love the words, "there is a power in the book which will begin to flow into your lives the moment you begin a serious study of the book, greater power to resist temptation, avoid deception and stay on the straight and narrow path."  The Book of Mormon can do many things for us, for our families and loved ones.  I testify that it is one of the most sacred gifts in my life.  I love that I am serving the Lord, Jesus Christ and I get to share the Book of Mormon with others and help them follow Christ's footsteps.  I leave with you a testimony from President Marion G. Romney:

"I feel certain that if, in our homes, parents will read from the Book of Mormon prayerfully and regularly, both by themselves and with their children, the spirit of that great book will come to permeate our homes and all who dwell therein.  The spirit of reverence will increase; mutual respect and consideration for each other will grow.  The spirit of contention will depart.  Parents will counsel their children in greater love and wisdom.  Children will be more responsive and submissive to the counsel of their parents.  Righteousness will increase.  Faith, hope, and charity--the pure love of Christ--will abound in our homes and lives, bringing in their wake peace, joy and happiness." (Ensign, May 1980, p. 67.)

P.S.  For all of those Twilight book lovers.....As I once was.  Remember that time I tried to explain to you how awesome those books were and you all looked at me like I was some weird girl from Utah????  Well, what happened?......You all became addicted to them and became weird like me!  I now invite you to read the Book of Mormon and I promise you will find more joy and hunger and thirst our of that book more than another other. Thanks so much for your emails and cards!!  Love you!!

Hermana Chesler