Week 50: in which we return to Primary part 2

Dearest family and friends,

We’ve enjoyed a few beautiful sunny days this week in Arauco, and it’s been wonderful. It’s still freezing every day, but the sun brings a kind of hope and light (haha) to Arauco. Everything looks different and happier, and people are more willing to talk to us in the street. It’s beautiful. 😀

I am so grateful for inspired leaders. On Wednesday Elder Ramos, my district leader, gave a class about the difference between sadness and discouragement in the mission, and it was just what I needed. I wanted to share some of the thoughts that I got out of it: Discouragement looks inward–“They’ll never progress because I can’t teach well enough for them to understand.” “Nobody’s let us in, it’s raining, and I’m cold. We’ll never find anyone.” Sadness looks outward–“I know that if they would fulfill their commitments, they could receive their answer.” “They’re missing so many blessings.” Discouragement impedes progress because it thinks “What’s the point?”, but sadness recognizes that even if it can’t see the results right now, hard work and faith can only bring blessings. Discouragement blames the circumstances for failure, but sadness seeks for other ways to help others and itself progress. Discouragement comes because of its own failings, but sadness comes because it feels pain for others. As I thought about this, I made the determination to be sad because someone is not progressing instead of being discouraged and thinking that things will never improve. Discouragement is a tool of Satan because he knows that if we’re discouraged, we’ll stop working and can’t progress. But God provides encouragement in every situation, through scriptures, prophets, prayer, and other people. I loved the quote in this weeks Cosecha, and I’ll seek to apply it in every day.

On Wednesday we also had a cool miracle. During daily planning I wrote down a few less-active families as back-up plans for the next day. However, as we left the house, I felt prompted to visit them that same day. It didn’t make sense to me because I figured that we needed to look for news this week, not spend more time with the members. But the thought wouldn’t leave, so we headed for where I thought was the street. It wasn’t there, and, even with the map, it took us a little more than an hour of contacting and asking for directions before we found it. I almost gave up and decided to move on, but I felt the need to find those families. When we finally found the street and contacted the third family, we discovered that the children aren’t baptized and that one of the daughters–along with her boyfriend–want to be baptized! It’ll be a process because the dad has a bad view of the church, but I know that with a lot of prayer and faith, they can progress and find the joy of the gospel. I’m so grateful for another day in which God showed me that He knows where His children are and what they need. I pray every day that He’ll continue to mold me to be a tool in His expert hands.

Time feels even shorter today, so that’s all for this week. Know that I love you all and that your Heavenly Father is watching over you. He knows your potential and your efforts, and He’s always there to help you if you’ll let him. Take the time to look for the miracles in every day; I promise you they’re there.

Be safe, be kind, be smart. And remember who you are!!

Hermana Saunders

Week 49: in which I become a papà!! :D


Dear friends and family,

I’m a papà! In mission lingo, the first trainer you have is your “mom,” and the second trainer is your “dad.” The trainer(s) of your trainer(s) are your grandparents, and if your trainer trained other missionaries, they’re your “siblings.” Since I’m the second trainer of Hermana Scholl, I’m her “papà,” complete with dad jokes. 😀 It’s fun. 😀

On Tuesday I traveled from Los Àngeles to Concepciòn to meet my new companion, Hermana Scholl, and to receive training for new trainers. Training is a new experience, one of much growth. 😛 But we’ll have fun. 😀 I love Hermana Scholl; although she has 7 weeks in the mission field, she teaches with sincerity and love in the little Spanish that she knows. And she’s an example to me; she really wants to improve a lot in Spanish, so we’ve been talking in Spanish almost 24/7. 😀 I’m surprised by the fact that it’s less of a challenge that I thought, and it’s gratifying to realize that I’ve really improved a lot in my Spanish!

And now I’m here in Arauco, about 15 minutes from the ocean! This is my first time in a little city, and it’s a… different experience. We have a branch here, which means that about 30 people attend church on Sunday. 😛 We also work in several other surrounding towns that are even smaller, so we spend some time traveling. Downtown shuts down around 7:30 at night, and very few people open the door after the sun goes down around 6:30. And it rains. A lot. I’m very grateful for warm clothes and rain gear. (Froggtogg for the win!) We live with another companionship, Hermana Lopez and Hermana Vasquez, in a house we’re renting from a member. (Tip for anyone headed for mid-or southern Chile: bring a sleeping bag because it is often freezing at night, even with a heater. :P) It’s a safe and comfortable house, and I love the sisters we live with. 😊

On Wednesday we had district meeting. It was nice to see some familiar faces; Elder Contreras was my DL in Los Àngeles; Elder Ramos, our current DL, was also in Temuco; and Elders Smith and Howes have been in other zones with me. AND I found another Sky View buddy! Elder Duffin was in the same grade at Sky View in Logan; we never met, but it’s cool. Que chico el mundo….

I still have so much to learn about being a missionary, and I’m grateful for this opportunity to train because I know I’ll learn a lot. I’m grateful that even though I’m so imperfect, God is infinitely patient and can use me in His perfect work. I love being a missionary!

I hope you all have a great week! Be safe, be smart, be kind. May you always remember who you are!!

Hermana Saunders

Week 48: in which change is in the air

Dear friends and family,

Well, looks like I’m headed out this transfer. We got the call on Saturday night that I’m headed to Arauco (my companion’s old area!) to finish the training of new missionary, and Hermana Custodio is staying here to train a greenie! 😀 (A greenie is a new missionary.)  I’m sad that the time has come to say good-bye to Villa Obispo and to Hermana Custodio. I really fell in love with the mission, the members, and the investigators here, and I feel that I have worked harder here than I have at any other time in the mission. It’s so true that service is one way that true love really grows. I’m so grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to be here. I’m also a little nervous about training. I’m grateful for the demonstration of God’s confidence in me, and I’m trying to live up to that. I also know there are things one can learn only through training. I look forward to the opportunity to share with a new missionary all that I’ve learned in these 11(!!!!!!) months and to see what God needs to teach me (probably a little more patience, hope, and charity). I know that if I allow Him to, He can make more of me than I could ever do alone.

Anita Burgos y Felix Rios

On Sunday Chile played in the semi-finals of some championship, which meant that nobody was in the street in the afternoon. Chile becomes a ghost town when there’s a big game on, so it’s nice to be able to plan and study during that time. 😛

Eugenia Sepulveda y Barbara Salamanca

Lesli wasn’t able to go to church this week because of a family trip, but she’s still excited for her baptism (now on the 15). Paola is working to overcome her fear of marriage and meet the goal of her baptism on the 22; she knows that this message is true, and she says she’ll do whatever is necessary to be baptized this month. She is really an incredible woman; I have an enormous respect for her as a mother, woman, and friend. I’m sad that I’ll be so far away for these baptisms and marriage, but I’m grateful for the opportunity to be at least a part of their conversion and to love them.

Scarlet Alarcon, Gustavo, Florencia3

It’s a short one today because time is also short, but know that I love you all. I know that God has restored His true church on the earth because He loves us and wants His children to have clarity and truth. I know that through the Atonement of Christ, we may really become clean and be healed from all affliction, sin, and grief. A member asked me yesterday how I came to know Christ; as I’ve taught, prayed, fasted, served, cried, and repented in these 11 months, Christ has become more real to me than ever. He is my Savior, my Brother, my Friend. I feel His love so much stronger, and as I’ve sought the healing and enabling power of His Atonement, I’ve felt His peace and grown to become a much better person, teacher, and missionary. I urge you all to study His words and His Atonement and to apply it daily in your lives.

Sofia, x, Hna Ingrid Zuloaga, Andres

¡Besitos y abrazos a todos! May you always remember who you are. 😀

Hermana Saunders

Week 47: in which we spend a lot of time singin’ in the rain


Dear friends and family,

I love the opportunity to see the miracles, big and little, in every day. On Sunday Hermana Custódio had our own “fourth floor, last door” experience. Every single one of our citas fell through–including our back-up plans–so we spent a lot of time contacting. At 8:00 that night, we had a few futures but nobody wanted to let us in. We prayed for guidance because we really didn’t know what to do. We felt peace when we asked if we should contact a certain street on the other side of our sector. We began contacting, and after about 45 minutes, not a single person let us in and few people showed interest. Honestly, I was feeling a little discouraged. But my wonderful, positive, hard-working companion said with determination, “We are not going into the house until we find someone to teach!” At this point we had only a few houses left on the street (and it was a long street!). We contacted the last three houses, and at the very last house, a lady opened the door and warmly welcomed us in. We were so excited! And she’s really great. The miracle is that she had just moved in yesterday! This experience strengthened my testimony that God is aware of all of His children, no matter where they are, [and] He can send them the help they need when they need it. We ended that night a little foot-sore but very happy and grateful for this miracle.


Other miracles from this week:

  • Lesli is 100% committed to her baptismal date for July 8!! (I’m just praying that I’m at the very least in Los Ángeles for that.)
  • Another investigator, Paola, accepted a baptismal date after much time of being scared to make a decision. She has a little bit more preparation time, but she said that she´s willing to do anything to prepare herself for that date.
  • On Monday, thanks to a loving member family, we found an inactive family who wants to come back to church, and the two daughters who aren’t baptized are excited to work towards that goal. The mom and the two daughters came to church on Sunday for the first time in about 3 years. It’s been an incredible experience to see so many families coming back to the gospel after so many years on a different, much more difficult path. It’s a testimony to me of God’s love for His children and the power of the Atonement. How great is God’s joy over every sinner who repents.
  • On Wednesday we helped a sister clean her yard and then traveled to Yumbel (a tiny town close-by) to help the elders there find new people to teach. It was raining–of course–and few people opened their doors, but Hermana Custódio and I had fun singing and finding new ways to contact people. I love working with her; she’s so positive, hardworking, and gets my sarcasm. 😀 We also laughed hard when the elders, who had placed their socks to dry on the gas-powered heater during the following meeting in Yumbel, realized that their socks were burning. XD (No other harm was done.) Fun times in the rainy weather. 😀

fam pauviff cipitiria2

I want to end with a quote that I loved from my studies this week: “The real marvel of the journey is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” We are surrounded by so many miracles in every day, but sometimes we become so accustomed to them that we don’t see them. This week, I invite you all to “see with new eyes” and find the miracles, big and little, in every day. Rediscover the beauty of a sunset. Marvel at the growth of your children. Relish the company of the Spirit as you read the scriptures and pray. And never forget from Whom theses things come.

I love you all!! Be safe, be smart, be kind. Make it a great day or not, the choice is yours.

Hermana Saunders

Week 46: [in which there is no subject line]

Dear family and friends,

I don’t know why, but Sunday miracles seem to be the sweetest kind. This Sunday in church was really incredible. In sacrament meeting, Felix, who’s been inactive for about 20 years, gave one of the most heart-felt talks I’ve ever heard. It was an incredible feeling to see him at the pulpit sharing his testimony and then to see him seated next to his daughter in the pew. Also, David, who’s been inactive for 30 years–most of his life–came to church with his girlfriend, whom we are teaching, and their two beautiful daughters. His mom, who’s in our ward, almost cried with joy. Words can’t describe the joy I also felt, and I’m sure it’s just a small taste of the joy that God feels to see His children finding their way back to the path. It’s such a wonderful opportunity to be part of this beautiful work.

In our district meeting we talked about what it means to be a  successful missionary and how success is not luck but the blessing that comes as a result of hard work, love, dedication, and obedience. This week I’ve thought a lot about what it means to “give my whole heart to the Lord.” There are some times when I let my mind wander a little and become unfocused in lessons or in the street, and this week I’ve tried really hard to be more focused and more aware of what thoughts I allow in my mind. I’ve noticed a difference in how I feel at the end of the day; I’m more positive and excited for the work, and I feel more sensitive to the guidance of the Spirit.

On Tuesday I had an incredible experience in a lesson with a very tired mother, Andrea, and her son, Lorenzo. Andrea often says that, as much she wants to, she doesn’t have a lot of time to dedicate to “changing her religion.” Her children have expressed a desire to be baptized, and Lorenzo started saying his prayers often after our very first visit. He even puts soccer off to listen to us! But as I listened to Andrea talk about how overwhelmed she felt, I wondered what we could do to help her. What came to mind was the object lesson about time management that includes fitting rocks and sand into a bottle. (If you’re not familiar with that I encourage you look it up.) I didn’t have either of those, but the Spirit led my eyes to the differently-sized blocks that littered the living room where we were seated. I asked if she had a pot that I could use, and while she and my companion talked, I figured out how many big and little blocks we needed to fill the pot. We used the object lesson to talk about priorities and the putting the things of God first–in other words, making time to study the scriptures, go to church, pray, and spend time in family and putting the other small, fun things in second place. The Spirit testified of the promise of the scriptures that when we “seek…first the kingdom of God,” all other things shall be given. Andrea was greatly comforted by the scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 58, which says, “Who am I, saith the Lord, that have promised and have not fulfilled?” They committed themselves to read and pray as a family, and we left the house with a wonderful feeling of peace. It was so cool to feel so clearly guided by the Spirit to help one of God’s children. I love being a missionary!

Thursday: We had another wonderful multi-zone conference with the other nearby zones. (For those who don’t know, a district is a group of companionships, and a zone is a group of generally two or three districts.) Afterwards we had a women’s conference with Hermana May and talked about the importance that every single one of us has in the work of the Lord. It also rained all evening, but thanks to my FrogTogg rain jacket and my rain skirt, I stayed nice and dry. I looked like a giant pink marshmallow, but I was dry! (If you are called to serve in a rainy area, buy a rain skirt!! Unless you’re an elder. It is definitely one of the best inventions I’ve ever seen.)

Sometimes I wish I could just strap a camera to my head and videotape the mission life because I cannot fit it into one e-mail in less than half an hour. But it sufficeth me to say that we had a great week, we had wonderful miracles, and despite the cold we continue happy and warm. (It’s interesting being with a Brazilian because this is something very new for her. XD) I love being a missionary, and I love serving the people of Chile.

I hope this e-mail finds you all in good health and busy with lots of good things to do this summer. I encourage you to look for the miracles in every day and find joy in the little things. Always remember who you are and whose you are. Remember, God made you special, and He loves you very much!

Until next week,
Hermana Saunders

Week 45: in which we have HAIL

Dear family and friends,

I do not and don’t think I ever can understand Chile’s weather. The other day was partly cloudy and windy when all of a sudden we had a random shower of HAIL. It was small hail, but still. 😛

We had planned on having a baptism scheduled for the end of this coming week, but whether the Lord has other plans or just allowed His child to use her agency, I don’t know. Lesli didn’t go to church yesterday, so her fecha fell. She says that she still wants to get baptized, but she doesn’t feel ready. We’re working to help her better recognize how the Spirit speaks to her, and the experience has helped realize even more that the gospel is a foreign language to some.

As we move into the second half of the cambio, I’m working hard to not be sad that I probably won’t be here when my investigators get baptized. One family in specific makes me sad because they are just so good. The other night we passed by to see how they were and to ask for the bathroom. Lorenzo, who’s 9, was on his way out to play soccer, but he said, “But now that you’re here I’ll stay for a few minutes more.” He’s always excited to see us, and he’s really good at keeping his commitments. One of the hardest parts of the mission is falling in love with the people but being with them for such a short time.

Miracles!! We were finally able to have a cita with an investigator who’s been hard to catch because of work, and he accepted a baptismal date!! Rafael really wants to improve his relationship with God and become a better person. When we first started teaching him, he was super hesitant to accept a baptismal date and didn’t want to pray in front of people, but this past week he did both!! It’s cool to see his genuine desire to change and become better. Anther cool miracle is that more and more less-active families are coming to church, and some of them I honestly thought would never again step foot in the church.

Hermana Custódio and I have done a lot of introspection this past week and have talked a lot about how we can improve our teaching so that our investigators progress, and it’s been great to see how the revelation has come from truly seeking the guidance of our Heavenly Father. He knows His children and He knows what they need. We’re excited for this week to put into practice the changes and ideas we want to make. I’m also so thankful for a companion that really strives to be better every day and works hard. Hermana Custódio and I have lot of fun together. 😀

Fun thing about this ward: they love the missionaries. 😀 Hermana Liz from our ward knit really cool, warm scarves for me and my companion. It’s wonderful to feel the love of the ward members and to be able to serve them. As I’ve served them, I’ve been able to feel even more the love that God has for them, His children.

That’s all for this week! I hope this e-mail finds you all warm and toasty. 😝  Know that God loves you and wants to hear from you. Don’t forget to pray, and remember who you are!

Lots of love,
Hermana Saunders

Week 44: in which baby, it’s REALLY cold outside!!

Dearest family and friends,

For the sake of time, I’m going to copy an idea of a friend of mine and use bullets points from this week:

  • Completos on Monday for our first P-day together. They were a bit pricy but so very yummy. 😀
  • It’s getting REALLY cold outside–it’s in the 20s almost every day. Thank goodness for shirts and tights with polar fleece!
  • On Thursday we actually had all of the lessons we planned! That’s a miracle because that rarely happens. 😀 And it was also an exciting day because an entire family (minus the dad) accepted baptismal dates!! The dates fall because they didn’t make it to church this week, but they still want to be baptized. It’s been really great to see how the light in their faces has changed, especially when they learned about the plan of salvation. It was a beautiful lesson.
  • One of our investigators is going through a really rough time right now, and she told us that she’s found peace and strength as she’s read the Book of Mormon and prayed. It’s really great because she has started saying “When I get baptized” instead of “If I get baptized.”
  • Hermana Custódio has been teaching me Portuguese, which has been a lot of fun. I can now count to 100 and tell you about an apple. 😉 I’m hoping to end this cambio speaking Spanish, English, French, AND Portuguese. 😀
  • I’ve lost both of my name tags, which is why in some of the pictures I’m “Hermana Cunha”… There’s a mission myth that says that every time your name tag falls, your future spouse gains weight. I don’t even want to know what happens if you lose two name tags…
  • This morning we went to Salto de Laja, a beautiful waterfall that’s close-ish to Los Angeles. It was really cool because we went early, so NOBODY was there. 😀 As we paused for a moment, watching the falls, I contemplated what a marvel it is that God created all of this for our enjoyment and benefit. What a wonderful Father. We also played Ninja there, which was fun.
  • Life is full of little miracles if you’ll only train your eyes to see them. God is truly present in every facet of our lives, and He loves us more than we can know. It’s a real blessing to help others come to this knowledge and to see the difference it makes in their lives.

I love you all!! Have a wonderful week!!

Hermana Saunders