Sunday, December 13, 2015

Till We Meet Again

These past few weeks have been unbelievable. I cannot believe that the 19th month mark has hit. I'm so grateful for this opportunity I had to serve as a full time missionary in Bahia Blanca, Argentina. I have been truly blessed and have grown my relationship with my Savior. I just want to say thank you to all those who have supported me in my decisions and the love and prayers from you. These last 2 1/2 transfers have been a little different than the rest of my mission, but I'm so very grateful for the opportunities that I had to serve in other ways that I never thought I would. I've had so many trials and challenges but what I've learned and grown from exceeds far beyond anything I've experienced yet. I want to give a big thank you to my mission president and his wife for their service, and the experiences we had together these last few months, they feel like family to me and I've learned soo much from them. I cant imagine the day I have to say goodbye, but I'm so grateful to them and I absolutely LOVE them and the relationship I had with them. They have such strong spirits and testimonies and know exactly what their purpose here in life is and as mission presidents. They know the plan, they follow it, and they act and live it. Because of it, they are blessed by our Savior and loving Redeemer. They are such great examples to me and I want to follow their example for my future and my family. 

One of my biggest goals is to have a family for time and all eternity and for that we are here as missionaries to help others take that first step into baptism and then seal there families together for time and all eternity. One of the biggest things that has stuck to me that my mission presidente has taught, is to understand what it means to be "your own agent,"  I have been able to understood more the importance of "the plan." Stop, and evaluate yourself, make changes, and apply the atonement of Jesus Christ in your life, and fulfill your calling. God is waiting for us to make those changes and plans in our life. We have to create our plan and ask Him what do you think? Help me to tweek this plan for the better.... He waits for us to come to him. 

I have a huge testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, and through it I have been able to really understand my purpose here in life. As a missionary I've come to realize that our goal is to baptize but to baptize converts.  Which means we need to be be converted ourselves to help and serve those around us. I want to testify of the importance of a mission for those that are young and are not on or going on missions..  I've never learned so much knowledge, inspiration, and guidance.  The mission has strengthened me during hard times, which there have been many and has helped me to make decisions by the spirit and has provided me inspiration now and for my future. As a daughter, mother, teacher, etc., it is so important to understand where we stand now and our progression in life so that we are continuing as we avoid temptation. I love this gospel and everything about it. I love the people here in Argentina. I love the happy and sad moments. I love my companions - every single one of them. I love my mission presidents, and leaders. I love the 19 months I had here in Bahia to serve. I love my family and friends. I love the beauty of life, God's plan, and my loving Savior who gave His life away so that we could live with Him for eternity.

I hope and I pray that I continue this journey as a missionary, servant, disciple, and daughter of God for the rest of my life. That being a missionary with or without a name tag, we will extend the limits of the heavens. As we embrace our self, be who we are , and do the Lord's will.  I know that without any doubt, that this is the true and everlasting gospel. We are the only church who has the power of god to to seal families and ourselves to God. We have the knowledge of the after life and what our purpose here in life is. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet and saw God the Father and the Son, that the church was restored and that the Book of Mormon is the most correct book on earth and contains the everlasting eternal fullness of the gospel. I know that Thomas S. Monson is our prophet now who is guided by the Savior to help lead and direct us. I know and testify of the importance of the family that there is life after death, the Lord died for us so that an atonement was made, for us to be clean again through repentance. I know Christ was resurrected and that He lives and loves us.
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ amen.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 30, 2015


Hi Everyone, this is Nicole's mom.  If you haven't noticed by now, Nicole hasn't returned from her mission yet because her Mission President asked her to extend another month.  Her return date is now December 15th. Because she has been so busy, she hasn't had time to write a blog so I am including some parts of her email to us as well as another email explaining some of the projects she is working on.   

Email to parents after she decided to stay longer:
I just wanted to let you know that I love you. I have constantly fasted and prayed and I have accepted to extend the mission ½ transfer more and do what my mission president and the lord has asked me to do. I came to understand that the Lord has given me two choices and there is not a wrong answer. Only the “better” and the “Best” The Lord never gave me an answer only the word “Both” I found that He would have loved me for whatever path I took. But the spirit overwhelmed my heart as I began to feel the love of the Savior. It’s all about the SAVIOR and HIS plan. I want you to know that His plan is so intelligent and magnificent. We need to fulfill our responsibility and callings that come our way. I just want you to know that…… I know that the Savior lives! He wants the best for us and sometimes we have to make sacrifices so that He can make us become who He wants us to become. There is nothing greater than that of Eternal Life, especially with our families.

Email to us this last week:
I'm doing great actually! for the last two weeks I had been working on all the stuff for presidente and for hermana Cifuentes.  I am putting together budgets, exercises, nutrition and overall healthy programs for the missionaries to follow.  I am traveling to all of the mission locations and presenting the information.  Yesterday we had our first conference. It was great. The missionaries were all over it. I will be able to send pictures at the end or next time. It was so interesting because I was in two hours of the conferences teaching them and part of it was in gym clothes. I was teaching them how to do exercises right and wrong and it was like teaching dance classes again.. being in kinesiology from college. We leave at 5 this afternoon to travel to our next conference and we will be gone until Sunday. Then we leave again Tuesday. We have one more conferences this week two next and three the following. I'll be giving the conference and leaving for home the next day.  

I had the chance to go to the ward in THE FALDA my area I served in for almost half of my mission!!! All the little girls came running up to me.. and two of my conversos are in the picture.. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

More Pictures....

The two dogs that followed me around the WHOLE day,,, every time I went into a building they were waiting outside for me...... yep true story. 


Trenque Lauquen

Santa Rosa

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Around Bahia Blanca in 14 Days.......

This week, I've been reminded of the words, "Believe, obey and endure", they have been a guidance and hope for me these last few days.  These past few weeks have been overwhelming and extraordinary!!!  Many changes have occurred and I will NOT be serving in Villa Floresta anymore, nor do I have an area.  But, I will be traveling around the entire mission working on a few project which means my mission president asked me to extend my mission to the 14 of December.  Right now I have already been to areas called, Tres Arroyos, Necochea, Mar del Plata, Mar del Plata Sur and Norte, Tandil, Olavarria and back to Bahia Blanca until Friday night and then I continue my travelings.  It's been SUPER CRAZY!!  But a fantastic adventure!  Luckly I have been so blessed that my president has let my companion Hermana Palma travel with me to have a companion :).  The other day, she said to me..."do you remember the movie, Around the Work in 80 days?", well now it's around Bahia Blanca in 14 days" haha.  Honestly, there hasn't been anytime with so much to do in the little time that there is that my mind feels like alphabet soup.  But it's been such a great experience and being a servant in the Lord's hands, "we are constantly in the process of making decision and we must decide what we will hear and what we will eat, on a higher lever, we must decide what we will watch, what we will read, how we will fulfill our church callings, and how we will receive the pleasing word of God from our leaders.  The Lord expects us to use our common sense but even that is guided by His light which He expects us to use well and wisely as we make our judgement.  We either magnify or diminish the light.  Each righteous decision and judgement is guided by the full power of Christ's light, while every unjust and unwise judgement is tantamount to subjecting that light to a dimmer watch. The degree to which the light of Christ illuminates our lives increases or decreases in direct proportion to our efforts to become as Moroni said, "True followers of Jesus Christ" and "be purified even as He is pure".  The Savior affirms this principle, "That which is of God is light, and he that receiveth light and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day."  (D&C 50:24)  Enabled by the Light of Christ, we can bring in the true and correct verdict in all of our judgments.  There will be no shades of gray."

I am so grateful for my loving Savior and everything He does for me.  He has always been there for me without any doubt.  I know that He lives and He loves us individually and calls and knows us by name.  I'm so grateful to have had the opportunity to serve as a missionary for HIS church, HIS work and it's marvelous and beautiful.  It's perfect!  I hope and pray that I will be a worthy servant, mother and daughter NOW and forever.  I'm grateful for the opportunities the Lord has given me to make me stronger even when they may be hard.  I know the challenges help me become close to His as I stay faithful and true.  I love Him and I love His plan.  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Homework:  Read the talk by President Thomas S. Monson, "Believe, Obey and Endure"

Mar del Plata

Sunday Dinner

Que Quen

Check out my new shoes

Sunset at Necochea

New Friend in Tandil

Monday, October 26, 2015

As Sisters in Zion

Feliz dia de la Madre from ARGENTINA! It's the only country that celebrates mother's day October 18th so I just wanted to send a shout out to all those mothers, daughters and grandmothers, especially my mom.  Happy Mother's Day!!! I love you!!  Thanks for being such a great example, idol, and mother, you mean so much to me and I send lots of hugs and kisses.  Because yesterday was such a special day, I wanted to share a story from Elder Bradley D. Foster:

My good friend Don Pearson shared an experience that highlights this influence. One night his four-year-old son asked him to read a bedtime story. Eric had picked out his favorite book: The Ballooning Adventures of Paddy Pork, a story about a family who lived on the isles of the sea and traveled from island to island by hot-air balloon. It was a picture book that had no words, so Brother Pearson made up words to the story. “Paddy is in a hot-air balloon. He is landing on an island now. He is dropping a line over the side of the balloon.” Eric stopped him. “Dad, that is not a line. It’s a rope.” Brother Pearson looked at Eric and back at the picture book, and then he continued: “Paddy is getting out of the balloon and climbing down the tree. Oh no! His coat is caught on a limb!” Again Eric stopped him. “Dad, that’s not a coat. It’s a jacket.” By now Brother Pearson was somewhat perplexed. He said, “Eric, there are no words in this book, just pictures. Why do you insist that it’s a jacket?” Eric answered, “Because Mother told me.” His father closed the book and said, “Eric, who do you think is the last word, the ultimate authority in this house?” This time Eric thought carefully before he answered, “You are, Dad.” Brother Pearson beamed at his son. What an exceptional answer! “How did you know that?” Eric quickly responded, “Mother told me.” As President James E. Faust said: “There is no greater good in all the world than motherhood. The influence of a mother in the lives of her children is beyond calculation” (“Fathers, Mothers, Marriage,” Liahona and Ensign, Aug. 2004, 3).
Alma 56:48 
48 And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it.

My mom has been such a great influence for me, in so many ways.  One of the biggest is that she has always taught me to walk in the light of Christ and she shows it by her love.  She has helped me shape my life and has helped make me who I am today.  Love you mom :)

Okay, I also just want to say my companion is awesome!  We work so well together and we have great communication.  She's such a great example and works hard!  I've learned so much from her and thanks to her these last few transfers have been marvelous.  It's been super funny because EVERYTIME we answer the phone, we got, "Who is speaking? Hermana Palma or Hermana Chesler?" It has now happened with our district leaders, zone leaders and members!  We have now become "ONE VOICE" or she now has a Gringa accent or I've got a Chiliana accent, or a mixture of both! haha 

This week we had a DANGEROUS DOG ATTACK.  But we survived and nobody got hurt.  As we finished a lesson with a family, we started walking home and we had 3 dogs following us.  In order to get home where there is light, we had to walk close to the jail wall.  As we began to walk (in front of the jail), out of the corner of my eye, I see a "Pit Bull" running across the road that had broken away from its chain.  My heart drops because we've got 3 dogs next to us and here come the Pit Bull to attack! "We're Dead!" Well to make the story short, the dogs fight right at our feet because they think we are there to protect them.  They fight in 3 different spots, but with us right next to them. They first fight on the sidewalk, second in the middle of the street and have stopped ALL traffic, and last on the grass.  The last time, I couldn't hold the scream in, so I let it OUT, as my companion and I are holding onto each other for dear life. I'm not sure how we got out of the situation but all I remember was the cops came out because we had stopped traffic and everyone stopped to watch. The Pit Bull ran away from my "fierce, but frightful scream", I think.  I thought I had confidence in dogs but there went all my self assurance. ha  Anyways, we are safe!

Besides that, we did have an AWESOME EXPERIENCE with Brisa this week.  WE taught her the restoration to help her strengthen her testimony a little more on prophets.  At the end of the lesson, as she is super young and has been attending church for almost 2 years, I asked, 2 simple questions.."Why do you like going to church?" and "Do you still want to be baptized and why?"  She sat back and said, Yes! and she began to have tears in her eyes and said, "Because it's the only place I can feel different.  I feel good there and I like to learn the things they teach."  She began to continue to share her feelings and it was a moment that the three of us could feel the spirit had taught our hearts.  It was a soft tender moment.  One that I will never forget.  This experience made me think of how grateful I am for this wonderful gospel that I know is true and to trust in the Lord and His divine plan of happiness.  It is based upon eternal, unchanging principles that help and guide us to that correct path we need to be walking on.  I know with all my heart that as we obey His commandments, God will show us His light, His hand, and His heart.  As we live those principles of faith, obedience and the proper use of agency, we will be lead to personal revelation and inspiration.

Homework:  Set a goal to lend a hand to someone in need -  SERVICE :)

So our pday changed today!!!! We had a super pday and we went to the beach!!! I'm a little toasty red but, Oh well. We caught a fish!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

You must become the rock, the river cannot wash away

Como Estas?  So my companion and I got to do some heavy duty sandpapering for a service project this week.  If was for a house that someone new is moving into the ward.  We worked hard and ate facturas at the same time ;)  Genial! after, we were covered from head to toe from the wood ashes and it looked like my companion  had gone grey headed ;)  haha  Service projects are the Best!  

Also, my companion and I are on a ROLL, we found 2 families this week and we've been teaching lots of new people the God has put in our path.  We had an experience with a guy named, Anibal, who recently lost his job and his wife died about a couple year ago and didn't quite understand why.  We had the chance to talk about the plan of salvation, God's grace, and the blessings of the temple.  As we continued to teach and give our testimonies, the three of us began to have tears in our eyes, as the spirit deeply touched everyone of our hearts.  

Saturday night we had another experience with Juan and Luiz.  We caught them "skinning an ostridge".....that was gross!!!  We taught them the 10 commandments and once again just about the whole neighborhood kids were listening, including their dogs ;)  All the kids from the soccer field stopped their game and came over one by one.  In the end I think we had a total of 9 people.  With our creative minds...haha....we tried to make a game out of the 10 commandments and I did the hand signals of each one and they all had to guess what commandment it was.  I was soo surprised at how much they knew!!!  I absolutely loved that moment.  Moments like these remind me of how much I love this gospel and for the opportunity to be a missionary/servant of the Lord.  As well, I could feel God's presence and His love.  Especially His love for everyone of these kids and how important they are to Him in His plan here on earth.  It's marvelous!

So this week, I had a "spark" of personal revelation.  I was reading a talk by Elder Richard J Maynes, "The Strength to Endure".  It was EXACTLY what I need.  Honestly, this last week has been a struggle for me "physically".  In truthful words, I'm going to put it as, "I'm physically exhausted!"  The other day I thought what would it like to have the strength and animo I had when I first started this mission 17 months ago.  Now I feel like and old Grandma!!  Every time I crawl out of bed I cry because of the pain that burns through my feet, and the first 8 steps are un-explainable.  I could name a thousand things I never thought or imagined I would ever go through.  I mention these weaknesses because I know I'm not the only one who feels, "Physically exhausted" at times.  It's a part of life!  At time, we are faced with a challenge/opposition/or adversity.  Every one faces it...and even ME!!  At times, it can be hard because the pain each individual goes through is different, no one understands...except our dear, loving Savior.  He reminds me that these challenges we go through are "but a small moment"

D&C 121:7-8
My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;
 And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.

In the talk, I loved the word ENDURANCE.  He said, endurance is an important principle found within the doctrine of Jesus Christ.  It is important because the quality of our eternal future is proportional to our ability to endure in righteousness.  Endurance is spoken as dedication, perseverance, and self discipline.  They apply to both endurance as "good physical condition" and "spiritually conditioned".  The apostle Paul stated, "Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us."  The race that is set before us on this earth is an endurance race filled with obstacles.  The obstacles in this race are the challenges we wake up to each morning. We are here on earth to run the race, to exercise our moral agency and to choose between right and wrong in order to honorably and successfully finish the race and return to our Heavenly Father.  We will need to pay the price of dedication, perseverance, and self-discipline.  We need to get into spiritual shape.  We need to develop spiritual stamina and we need strong testimonies that will lead to true conversion.  As a result, we will find with in ourselves the inner peace and strength needed to endure whatever challenges we may face!

I'm sure some of us at one time or another have felt so overwhelmed with opposition or the battles of choosing between good and evil.  We begin to be flaunted with personal adversities and then discouragement that can threaten or defeat us.  How can we overcome this?  

D&C 84:88
88 And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.

Thanks to our loving Savior, He seems to know just where and when we need comfort and encouragement.  He with His perfect love, helps us endure to the end.  I'm not perfect and I make mistakes, I have weaknesses and challenges daily.....but.....I"m extremely happy because I have the gospel.  God and His angels are at my side as I continue to be obedient and strive to walk in His footsteps.  I'm filled with strength physically, emotionally and spiritually.  As I return home every night from a long, sunny day in the sandy, rocky streets.....I smile and look at the pile of sand I pour out of my shoes and I say, "I gave my very best", and I gently heart, "well done, thou good and faithful servant."

Homework:  Memorize a favorite scripture and share it with someone!
ps - Thank you for your love and prayers!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Come, Join With Us

My LAST transfer call!!!!  I can't believe it's already come.  I'm staying here in my area, "villafionesta" with my sweet Chiliana Hermana Palma ;)  I'm super pumped to be with her my very last transfer.  I've felt a huge and progressive growth with her and I'm excited to see it continue.  We had so much success together and we were bouncing off the walls when we heard we were together again!  I'm so excited to continue working hard with her and enjoy every minute of it.

Last week, we got the chance to help out on "Mormon Helping Hands" and give service to those that are in need.  All of the members in Bahia Blanca were there to participate and I got to sneak in a couple GREAT BIG HUGS" to some members from my old areas ;)

We also put on an activity for the obra misional and we invited all the jovenes (young kids) to play "out-door games" and watch a Mormon message.  We invited all the menos activos and recent converts and it turned out "SUPER GREAT"!  We all had a great time and the spirit was strong.   Right now we are trying to get the kids active and working as missionaries as well so that they too can prepare to be missionaries in the future.  Lately, it's been a little hard to find the people we have been teaching because of vacation or work, but we continue to diligently search and pray with faith.

I love the scripture that says, 2 Nephi 2:11 "Porque es preciso que haya una oposicion en todas las cosas." (Without opposition, we would never progress).  We have been able to keep in contact with the family Romano, whom the daughter, Adiana, has her 15 years this coming week.  This is a HUGE thing here.  It is like Prom for us in the states.  "Dresses, make-up, photos, dinner, party, presentation, etc."  It's a HUGE celebration they put on every time the women turn "15".  We asked to help with the decorations so that will be a lot of fun!  We've also tried everything we could to help Sabastion, but there is only so much that we can do.  People have their agency to choose to take that path to living a righteous and healthy life or not.  We continue to pray and hope that in the near future, he will have that desire to have a changed heart with faith in God and himself personally.

We've been teaching Juan and his brother Luiz and they are sooo awesome!  We showed up to a cita and we came to teach them Lesson 2 (plan of salvation) with a game we put together for them.  As the house is just a little too small for all to fit, we took chairs and sat outside in front in a circle and as we began to play the game, 10 minutes later, four of their neighborhood friends came to join us!!  It was so much fun!  We all had such a great time.  My favorite part about it was watching them all laugh and enjoy the time we had with the spirit. 

Ecclesiates 3:4
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

So who got the chance to watch General Conference??!!  I hope you all did, I also brought 15 questions with me and every single one of them was answered!  I received so much spiritual/personal revelation, so many things to change, apply and develop NOW and in my life in the future.  If you asked me what talk was my favorite, I couldn't tell you because I had 5 favorites and every sing one had something unique about them.  Brisa was also there for all of the sessions and we asked her what was her favorite?  She said, "Todos" (All).  We then asked if she could only pick one...she said, No, I liked Todos! haha She's so awesome .  She was also hoping there was another session after it all ended ;) 

All the Gringos, watching General Conference

So today, I just want to share my favorite frases that caught my attention yesterday/Saturday from General conference...

*  (Uchtdoft) "Exaltation our goal, our journey"
*  (Ballard)  "The plan of the map"
*  (Neil F. Marriott)  "Let it go"
*  (Larry R. Lawrence) "A course of improvement....we need to ask some difficult questions..."
*  (Quentin L. Cook)  "Self control is like a muscle, the more you use it = strengthens"
*  (Robert D. Hales)  "If you want advice from me, be prepared to take it"
*  (Bradley D. Foster)  " It's never too late to lead, guide and walk beside your children"
*  (Dallin H. Oaks)  "We have only to ask"
*  (Rasband)  "The call comes from our loving Lord"
*  (Stevenson)  "Don't focus on what I can't do...but what I can do"
*  (Renlund)  "Eyes to see, Ears to hear, and a heart to feel"
*  (Nelsen)  "Are you finished crying?...Get dressed")
*  (Schwiter)  "True disciples represent the Lord and inspired the people, NOT impress them."
*  (Stephens)  "I want me to put my seat belt on because you love me"
*  (Hayne)  "He wants me to be clean so I'm not left outside His home"

These are just a few of the things we heard this past weekend from our loving prophet and apostles and leaders of the church.  I'm so grateful for them and the revelation they receive from the Lord.  I have a huge testimony that they are servants/disciples/friends/and sons and daughters called of God to fulfill His work here on the earth.  I'm so grateful for the opportunity I have now to use these words, guidance, direction from God's apostles/prophets in my life.  To better my own progress, purpose as a mother, daughter and servant of the Lord.  I love this gospel.  I love my Savior, redeemer, my brother, for his beautiful, unimaginable love for us.  Without any doubt, I know that he live, that he is the son of the most high, our gracious Heavenly Father.

Homework:  If you didn't get the chance to listen or watch General Conference, I invite you to do so in this website.

Armadillo, an Argentinian Food??!!

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Rod of Iron

The weeks just keep getting crazier and crazier!!! As our planners just keep getting fuller and fuller.  Ok, so....we had an appointment with Sebastian and one of the members which gave such a wonderful testimony about the word of wisdom and we left with lots of faith and hope that he could put aside those addictions.  Yesterday he came to church with a huge smile!  Brisa as well came and we have a "lunch date" with her mom this Thursday.  Saturday night, we found a boy names Luiz who is a member but has been inactive for some time and we taught him and his older brother "Juan".  They both showed up to church yesterday :)  The members are super great and greet them like family.  Speaking of members, we had a knock at our door with 4 bags of veggies and fruits from a family in our ward!!  We also passed by the family Romano and taught the Restoration and we found out there are 7 kids, not 4!!  The appointment with them was fantastic and the spirit was sooo strong.  I can't even explain how much I just love them and pray that their progression will get stronger.  We invited them to church and the mom said, "let me have a little time to think about it, but I do love the message you share."  There is hope and there is faith!!!

Ok, so we had noche de hogar with.....president and his wife!!!  Last night and it was a blast, we ate dinner and played games all night.  It was so much fun getting to know them better and it's so hard not to love them as well! We definitely had a few good laughs and I'm so grateful for them and what they do for this mission and for us as missionaries.  This week I had an experience during our zone meeting and one of the Hermanas and I were blind folded.  They grabbed us by the arm and took us to another room and they let me go and I had no idea where I was and what was around me.  All i knew was that I had to get to "paradise", but we had obstacles in our path and not only that people yelling and whispering from every corner trying to tell me to go from one end to the other. "Good spirits" and "Bad spirits".  Well, as I started, I remembered Hermana Risser was there blind folded, so I called to her and we grabbed arms and worked together.  I thought, "2 is better than 1".  As we began, we started going one way and I touched a table with my right hand and I remember there were sooo many voices and I just wanted to cover my ears and shrink down to the floor.  It was stressful and frustrating because I couldn't concentrate.  As I heard one of my leader's voices, I felt the need to listen to it and go towards that direction.   At the same time, I was begin pulled into the other direction by Hermana Risser.  I tried to say, "vamos alla", but she continued to go the other way without hesitation and as I was pulled, I decided to just have confidence in her and as we hit another table, we took of our blind folds.   We had unfortunately fallen into "outer darkness".  I learned a huge lesson from this activity.  Even though it was just an activity, I felt as if sometimes this happens to us in reality.  In the Book of Mormon, in 1 Nephi, it talks about "The Iron Rod", and three groups as they are directed along their path of salvation.

(1) 1 Nephi 8:21-23
 21 And I saw numberless concourses of people, many of whom were pressing forward, that they might obtain the path which led unto the tree by which I stood.
 22 And it came to pass that they did come forth, and commence in the path which led to the tree.
 23 And it came to pass that there arose a mist of darkness; yea, even an exceedingly great mist of darkness, insomuch that they who had commenced in the path did lose their way, that they wandered off and were lost.

(2) 1 Nephi 8:24-28
 24 And it came to pass that I beheld others pressing forward, and they came forth and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press forward through the mist of darkness, clinging to the rod of iron, even until they did come forth and partake of the fruit of the tree.
 25 And after they had partaken of the fruit of the tree they did cast their eyes about as if they were ashamed.
 26 And I also cast my eyes round about, and beheld, on the other side of the river of water, a great and spacious building; and it stood as it were in the air, high above the earth.
 27 And it was filled with people, both old and young, both male and female; and their manner of dress was exceedingly fine; and they were in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers towards those who had come at and were partaking of the fruit.
 28 And after they had tasted of the fruit they were ashamed, because of those that were scoffing at them; and they fell away into forbidden paths and were lost.

(3) 1 Nephi 8:30
30 But, to be short in writing, behold, he saw other multitudes pressing forward; and they came and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press their way forward, continually holding fast to the rod of iron, until they came forth and fell down and partook of the fruit of the tree.

As we are guided to our path to salvation, sometimes we feel like we just need to stop, close our ears and eyes and forget everything and get away.  Who of us have felt that sometimes we find the guidance ("iron rod") and then we get pulled away from distractions? or we end up listening to "the good whispering of the spirit", but don't follow up on those promptings.  Sometimes we are listening to many voices and can't quite figure out what is right.  Sometime we think we can do it together - 2 is better than 1....but what if one has a different path in mind?  Sometimes we need to let go of those and follow our own instincts.  Sometimes we forget our road is solo, that it's our own salvation we need to get in line.  At times, I think we forget that it's our connection to God.  I was truly sad that I didn't make it to the pile of brownies but I was truly happy that I had this chance to learn from my mistakes and that my salvation is by myself and it's my path I need to work on which God has for ME.

Elder Kevin S. Hamilton said, "there was, however a third group that was not only successful in reaching the tree of life, but they afterward did not fall away.  Of these, the scriptures say that they pressed forward, continually holding fast to the rod of iron, until they came forth and fell down and partook of the fruit of the tree.  The rod of iron represented for this group of people the only safety and security that they could fin, and they held fast continually.  They refused to let go, even for something as simple as a Sunday afternoon ride in the country.  The key phrase in this verse is "continually holding fast to the rod of iron"...Perhaps this third group of people consistently read and studied and searched the words of Christ...This is the group you and I should strive to join."

It is so important that we make the right decision in all things because it can lead to our "ETERNAL SALVATION".  We all make mistakes, we all have sinned, we have all fallen.  We forget that the adversary too is very powerful, tricky, and intelligent and can carefully and quickly lead us astray.  But thanks to our loving Savior, we have the opportunity to repent and save ourselves.  In the mist of darkness, he guides us, and leads us, helps until we get hold of the iron rod and press forward until the end.  My words to you is, DON'T LET GO, DO NOT LET GO, CLING TO IT, UNDERSTAND IT, STUDY IT, GET TO KNOW IT, CONTINUALLY HOLD ONTO IT, OF THAT WHICH YOU DEARLY LOVE MOST.

Elder Hamilton also said, "my brothers and sisters, we are a covenant people.  We willingly make and keep covenants, and the promised blessing is that we will receive all that the Father hath.  As we continually hold fast to the rod by keeping our covenants, we will be strengthened to resist the temptations and perils of the world.  WE will be able to navigate this mortal life with all of its challenges until we actually reach the tree with the fruit.  Most precious and most desirable above all other."

I'm so grateful to have this gospel in my life so that I can continually hold fast to the iron road and for the plan and blessing God has waiting for us as we continually press to the end.  Hold firm to an eternal purpose, remember and recognize the things you do now and ask yourself, "where will this bring me to the end of my journey?"  Am I dangling along or holding on with my pinky finger, or am I grasping with both hands?  As we continue in righteousness, we will b e edified together and unified as we are ALL on the same path.

Homework:  Are you holding steadfast to the iron rod?  I invite you to read 1 Nephi 15:8  ;)

Monday, September 21, 2015

Spiritual Apathy

What a crazy week!!!  First of all, my companion, poor thing was practically in bed with a bug for 4 days.  But thanks to many prayers and faith, she is now back on two legs working hard ;)  Glad to have her back!

Second...guess who came to visit us this week?....Elder Teixeira from the Seventy and his wife.  We had a mission conference with half of all the missionaries in Bahia Blanca and another in Mar del Plata.  Presidente Cifuentes and his wife also gave such wonderful talks as well.  It was fantastic!! 

Speaking of fantastic, church was so great yesterday, so many of the menos activo (less active) families we are teaching attended church as well as Sabastion who is doing great but struggling with addiction problems.  He full-heatedly believes that God will help him in the process and the He has a better plan for him.  I absolutely love his attitude and diligence as he acts upon his faith in God. 

Okay, so yesterday we finally were able to contact the family Romano that we found about two weeks ago and we met all 4 of her kids and their bright smiles.  Lucas, Mida, Annali, whom are all over the age of 10 and then the littlest, "the baby".  This time we got to know them a little bit better.  We played a "get to know you" game and it turned out to be so funny.  In the end, they were laughing so hard!  We also taught them a little more about "the family" and the spirit had definitely touched everyone of our hearts.  I'm in love with this family and am so grateful God put us in His path to share His gospel with them.  I'm so excited to watch them progress and continue to share this beautiful message with them.  Including we left with a plate full of cookies from Annali and then their dog followed us all the way home that night ;) haha.  

Okay, so I think we've got the area down....It's been a week since I last used our map.  I still meet new members every Sunday but either way, they're super awesome with such great attitudes, and ready to get to work.  So I want to share a little that inspired me during our conference by Elder Teixeira.  They all talked a lot about the spirit, "how can we understand the promptings of the spirit?"  Something that caught my attention was the question, "Como estan nuestros oraciones?" (How are our prayers?)  He said if we want the spirit it depends a lot on our obedience and your prayers.  If you want to teach with the spirit you got to pray more personally and with the people you teach, pray particularly for guidance and the help of the holy spirit.  As we do so, it will help us to have the blessing to be sensible to listen and hear the impressions of the spirit and after....valiantly DO the impressions.  I learned so much from this conference and had the opportunity to study this week a lot about the importance of the spirit in prayer and teaching and got to exercise it as well.  In Preach My Gospel, pg 95, Elder M. Russell Ballard, spoke of the power of the spirit, "the conversion comes though the power of the spirit,  When the spirit touches the heart, hearts are changed.  when individuals....feel the spirit working with them or when the see the evidence of the Lord's love and mercy in their lives, they are edified and strengthened spiritually and their faith in him increases.  These experiences with the spirit follow naturally when a person is willing to experiment upon the word.  This is how we come to know the gospel is true."  I've learned that the spirit takes a huge part in our own conversion and in the conversion of others.  We should pray to that others will be guided in that path and that same spirit will touch their hearts.  It's important to pray to have the spirit as a companion and that we can understand and know the impression of the spirit but to ACT upon them like Elder Teixeira said.  It is a blessing, a gift, a protection that God has given us.   Who wouldn't want that blessing?! In the scriptures in Alma 12:7

 Now when Alma had spoken these words, Zeezrom began to tremble more exceedingly, for he was convinced more and more of the power of God; and he was also convinced that Alma and Amulek had a knowledge of him, for he was convinced that they knew the thoughts and intents of his heart; for power was given unto them that they might know of these things according to the spirit of prophecy.

it talks about Alma being a powerful man with such a spirit of proficiency and revelation, was able to stand up and testify of the truth.  What would it be like to have such a testimony?  This week, I had the opportunity to exercise prayer more and especially as my companion being sick, I was able to pray for her and for our investigators whom we currently had to put aside for a day so my companion could get better.  Well, Brisa who has 11 years old, has been coming to church for 2 years now.  She was never baptized because her mom wouldn't give permission.  Well one day, my companion and I got to know her mom better and we began to pray not only for Brisa, but for her mom and yesterday at church, Brisa came running saying her mom has given permission.  Anything is possible with the Lord.  What a blessing it is to have the power of prayer given to us as we exercise it.  I have a huge testimony that prayer is important, it is a tool and it is a commandment.  it is our communication with our Savior, when we kneel before God, a new light is brought through us.  Our testimonies are stronger, we have a greater strength to conquer the challenged for temptations or Satan's power.  WE have been brought forth with the spirit of revelation to teach with the power of God.  A new knowledge and others around us will see that light and they too will be touched by it.  If you don't have a testimony of prayer, search for it, find it, and exercise it and strengthen it.  I know God answers prayers, my own prayers have been answered.  I have been blessed and strengthened.  I know and become a witness of it, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Homework:  Read Personal and prayer by President Henry b. Eyring

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Dogs Just Won't Stay Away!

Well my companion and I have taken the coats off and thrown them in the suitcase because summer has arrived!!! We've also turned into milanesas (crispy chicken) from all the sand that's blown into the air.  By the time we get home, we are covered from head to toe.  My companion drew the best picture of us walking down the street ;) 

Also I don't know what it is but the DOGS won't STAY AWAY from me.  This week I had an experience where we started walking down the street and this random dog comes up to me (not the little kind) and wraps it's two front legs around mine and wouldn't let me go! for about a good straight 2 minutes.  Here i am too scared to let a scream out and trying to push its head away so it doesn't bite me.  My companion is throwing rocks at it...."it was a sight to see!"  Finally I escape and it follows us for a good 10 minutes. Anyways, that was ONE of my many dog attacks this week. 

Other than dogs, we had a FANTASTIC WEEK!  Sunday, Brisa and Sabastian came to church.  Brisa is a joven (youth) who has been attending church with a family of member here in Villaflonesta and Sabasitan, we started teaching just this week. It was a miracle because we found him Tuesday and we ended up passing by Saturday to remind him about church and he had moved houses. Well, during sacrament meeting, he came walking through the front doors of the chapel!  He had made it to church.  He absolutely loved it and participated a lot during the classes. Right now in Villaflonesta we've been trying to get to know all the members and the area and we have had lots of success and we've been working with a ton of references.  My FAVORITE! This area is definitely HUGE but God's definitely given us strength every step we take.  haha  I've also gotten to just love my companion Hermana Palma and her great smile.  Such a strong woman with a powerful testimony.  We've been trying to animate each other to do our exercises in the morning more than just a few stretches and such ;)  and we found that our day becomes 10 times better.  One of our zone leaders asked, "what can we do to bring the spirit"?  and during the week, I realized that many things can bring the spirit as well as "the word of wisdom".  There have been many times where I have definitely craved too much chocolate or dulce de leche and after I feel like I can't even walk because my stomach hurts, then I think, why didn't I listen to my mom or when the doctor says, "an apple a day keep the doctor away" ;) 

I love what Elder Russell M. Nelson says about the body, "cada vez que se miren en el espejo.  Vean su cuerpo como un templo.  Esa verdad-renovada congratitud cada dia-puede influir enforma en que cuidaran su cuerpo y la manera en que lo utilizaran; y esas decisiones determinaran su destino.  Porque su cuerpo es el templo de su espiritu, y la manera en que utilizan su cuerpo afecta a su espiritu.  Entre las decisiones que determinaran su destino eterno se encuentran las siguientes.  1. La forma en que decidan cuidar y utilizar su cuerpo  2. Los atributos espirituales que decidan cultivar.  (For those of you who speak Spanish, too much time to put in the accents)

"Your Heavenly Father has known you for a very long time.  You, as His son or daughter, were chosen by Him to come to earth at this precise time, to be a leader in His great work on earth.  You were chosen not for your bodily characteristics but for your spiritual attributes, such as bravery, courage, integrity of heart, a thirst for truth, a hunger for wisdom and a desire to serve others."  I'm so grateful for the body God has given me physically, mentally and spiritually to be able to walk, run, dance, breathe, hear and talk.  To be here on earth.  I know there have been times in my life where I could have treated this gift better.  Better exercising, foods, etc.  More importantly for my spirit.  God has given us many "things good" to help protect and strengthen our bodies.  There are "always many fruits, touch not these things (meaning bad), for in the day thy life shall be shortened and thou shalt die". 

This week, I've noticed  HUGE difference as I have better kept the word of wisdom.  I'm able to walk what seems like the pacific ocean and back, have good health and I've seen and felt the spirit guide me more.  I had the experience to feel the spirit so strong every time I bore my testimony, tears came to my eyes.  I know this is a very important commandment to keep and yes, we will make mistakes, but we can always learn from them through the healing, cleansing and enabling power of the atonement of Jesus Christ.

HOMEWORK:  How can you better treat your body and spirit?  (examples: music, eating, exercising, good words, waking up early, going to be early, etc.)