Week 38: in which lots of cool things happen :D

Dear family and friends,

Gabriel got baptized on Saturday and confirmed on Sunday! He came to church in his suit and tie, and he looked like a future stake president. 😀 I’m so happy and grateful to be part of his conversion process. And his girlfriend, Lorena, accepted a baptismal date on Thursday! She says that she’s been searching for real personal change, changes that never came from confessions or reciting. In the gospel is the only place she’s really felt a change of heart, and she wants to really feel forgiven. Both she and Gabriel want to raise a family within the church. The Spirit was so strong in that lesson, and I’m so excited for the great family they’ll become.

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Friday was a pretty incredible day. I can now say that I’ve had the chance to meet an apostle of the Lord! President Nelson and his wife came to Concepción on Friday to meet with the missionaries of the our mission and the Concepción Mission. I wish I had brought my notes so that I could share more thoughts with you, but it was an incredible conference. President Nelson and his wife and Elder Teixeira (of [the Quorum of] the Seventy) and his wife all spoke. P. Nelson spoke a lot about the Book of Mormon. He told us to mentally highlight the influence of the BoM in our lives, press “delete,” and think about what our lives would lack if we didn’t have the clarity and second witness of the Book of Mormon. Among the many things I’d lack is the knowledge that children who die without baptism are saved in Christ; that God spoke–and speaks–to all of His children, in every part of the world; and that I can be forgiven and made new through the atonement of Christ. How precious this knowledge is! I invite you all to do this same activity and then make the commitment to making scripture study a priority. ¿Lo harán? 😉

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On Wednesday we were in the house almost all day because of the 2017 Censo. It’s a law in Chile that you can’t leave until you’ve been counted, so we took advantage of that time to deep clean the apartment. We found some pretty neat stuff, including a couple sparkly party hats. 😀 The great thing about deep-cleaning in the fall is the lack of spiders lurking in the corners.

Every day I’m so grateful for the opportunity and great privilege of being a missionary in Chile. Not every day is bright sunshine, and not everyone wants to talk to the friendly neighborhood gringas, but the opposition makes the sunshine and converts all the more sweet. I’m also grateful for the principle of continuous progress; I’ve got a lot to work on, but what a blessing to know I’m not doing it alone! I know that I–and every single one of you–have my Father in Heaven and my Savior Jesus Christ cheering me on, as well as loved ones here and there.

That’s all for this week! Know that I love you all! Remember that you are a beloved child of your Heavenly Father, and His work and glory is your eternal happiness and salvation. How does that make you feel?

Be safe. Be smart. Be kind. And be grateful!

Love from Chile,
Hermana Saunders

P.S. I wanted to share a bit of wisdom I found in a bus stop bathroom last week: “Sometimes God doesn’t change your situation because what he wants to change is your HEART.” Probably the most inspirational graffiti I’ve seen. 😉 How very true. 🙂

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Week 30: in which the hermanas take the cake

Dear family and friends,

We waited anxiously by the phone as we waited to know transfers Saturday night. I was a little sad–but not really surprised–when we found out that Hermana Nielson is headed to another zone to be with–here’s the surprise–Hermana Clark, my companion from the CCM!! 😀 And Hermana Lange, who was Hermana Nielson’s companion in the CCM, will be MY new companion! And now all of my companions are or have been companions with each other. Que locito el mundo. 😀

This week I had the marvelous opportunity to attend two baptisms, one of the daughter of a member, and the other of the elders’ investigator, Benjamin. Benja’s baptism was literally a miracle; for a long time, his dad was so against him getting baptized (his mom’s a member), but he finally saw how much Benja truly wanted it and how much it meant to him. Both baptisms were beautiful, and I was honestly bursting with joy to see two more children of God make covenants with him and enter the gate to so many more eternal blessings. I also had the opportunity to play the hymns for both baptisms; it wasn’t perfect, but I love being able to share what I can. 😀

We promised Benja that we would bring cupcakes to his baptism (his grandma set up this huge table with refreshments afterwards), so on Friday night we made cupcakes with his grandma. It was fun because cupcakes were a new idea to her, so we got to show her something new. 😀 We finished frosting them the next morning, and they were a hit at the baptism. Score two for the hermanas!

English classes were interesting this week. We had a great lesson with the two people that showed up on Wednesday, and then I had a great time practicing for the baptism when nobody showed up on Saturday. I’m hoping that we’ll be able to bring more people to the classes, and maybe when school starts we’ll have more people.

I love this scripture I found in personal study one day: “…let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power: and then we may stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed” (Doctrine and Covenants 123:17). It was a good reminder for me when I felt a little like I was chasing my tail in the sector. I must work diligently and with a good attitude with the faith that, in God’s perfect timing, my work will bear fruit, and the people I meet may one day enjoy the “salvation of God.” I don’t have to see it now because I know that nothing I do is ever wasted.

Thursday was a great day with a conference with Elder Packer, the son of the former President Packer. I left with a ton of energy to work, and I’m grateful for what I learned.

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I’m sad to send off Hermana Nielson tomorrow, and I’m grateful for the cambio we had together. I’m so grateful for companions; there’s safety in numbers, yes, but I’ve also learned so much from her. She’s a hard worker and really loves the people here. She’ll do great wherever she is. And I’m looking forward to this new adventure with Hermana Lange. 😬

I’ll leave you with a quote from Tuesday’s district meeting: “People are rewarded in public for things they’ve practiced for years in private.” (can’t remember who said that…) Maybe not everyone can see how you’ve progressed over the days, months, years, but rest assured that your Heavenly Father always can, and it makes Him so happy to see that.

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

Lots of love,
Hermana Saunders

The rest of week 5: in which Hermana Saunders learns that Mom was totally right :)

 

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Dear family and friends,

Surprise! An e-mail on Wednesday! We have meetings all day Friday, so our P-day was switched to today. We fly out on Monday!! I’m both super excited and nervous. There’ll be a lot of growing pains.

Mom, you are right; fresh mangoes are SO GOOD! I had two at lunch yesterday, and I was a very happy hermana. 😀

Friday: Hermana Clark and I had SOOO much fun playing soccer with a bunch of other hermanas. Most of us were either so-so or just bad, with a few really good exceptions. So it was all in fun, and we laughed pretty much the whole time. I heard an elder watching us say, “They’re so nice.” Yup. 😉

We also finally got the elders together so we could practice our musical number for Sunday. It’s a tradition that the departing districts give a special number in sacrament meeting, so we’re singing “Be Still My Soul,” and Hermana Clark will play violin. It actually doesn’t sound too bad.

Saturday: I guess there wasn’t much to report for this day. We were going to do a service project, but we couldn’t find our service leader, so Hermana Clark and I played piano after several minutes of searching.

Sunday: Sundays are really the best. Fast and testimony meeting was wonderful, a really great time to recharge and be uplifted by the testimonies of others. Almost everyone bore their testimony in Spanish, and I could follow almost all of it! It felt good. 🙂 And I bore mine without having to write it down first. 😀 I’ve come a long way.

Monday: We had a fabulous lesson with “Alfredo.” Hermana Clark and I have learned how to teach together and ping-pong throughout the lesson, so things go smoothly, and we were able to have a really great conversation with him. And we committed him to baptism! (He’s not actually getting baptized, but if he had been a real investigator, he would have.) Hermana Clark and I tried to speak solomente in español. We did really well in the morning, but it fizzled out after lunch. But we’re trying!

Tuesday: We had a really great devotional from Elder D. Todd Chritsofferson in the evening. They live-streamed from Provo, so lucky Elder Meanea actually got to be there. Nyah. Elder Christofferson said something that really struck me. He emphasized the importance of being trusted. He said, “Yes, God loves you very much. But can He trust you?” Can He trust me to be diligent with the talents and opportunities he gives me? Can He trust me to love the investigators He sends me? Can He trust me to keep the commitments I’ve made? I want to be a missionary that both He and the members can trust completely.

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Wednesday: Our district spent about an hour and a half playing volleyball. It was fun! It’s the first and only time we’ve gotten everyone together to play volleyball; the hermanas can’t play soccer with the elders, so volleyball is about the only sport we can play together. I’m glad that we were able to play; I just wish it hadn’t taken five weeks. Later the hermanas are going to play soccer again. I can’t wait!

Life is good. I love being a missionary, and I’ve learned so much. I’m hoping the video of my testimony will go through so you can see that I’m at least learning a little Spanish. 😉

I love you all! Be safe and remember who you are! Until next week!

Love,
Hermana Saunders