Week 64: in which the wheels on the bus go round and round and round and round…

Dear friends and family,

We spent four out of seven mornings this week in Concepcion for medical appointments and check-ups for Hermana Cabezas. She’s fine now; we just have to be more careful about proselyting at night because the smoke from the wood stoves bother her asthma. The highlight of the trip was last Monday because our investigator Alejandra and her uncle Mario drove us up and back (they were headed to Conce anyway to drop off a few orders). On the way back we stopped at the temple site, which was a great feeling. I’m so excited for these people to have a temple so much closer!! The Concepcion temple should be finished within this next year, so I’ll miss the opening, but it’s still exciting to see the progress. 😀

On Friday we met Erika, an old investigator of the hermanas. Hermana Bazaes had taught her and gave us the reference. Through a series of unexpected events, we ended up at Erika’s house, where we shared a video about the power of prayer. The incredible thing was that the experience of the woman in the video was almost exactly that of Erika. We felt the Spirit strongly as she shared her recent challenges, and she told us that in our visit she received many answers and peace that she had desperately needed. We set up another for today, and I left very grateful for the opportunity to once again be a tool in the perfect hands or our loving Heavenly Father.

On Saturday we had a miracle that became a personal parable: We left a cita (an appointment) at 9:15 at night. We needed to get home quickly to plan, but we were on the other end of town, and buses and taxis don’t pass as often in the night. But just as we left the neighborhood, a taxi passed by. I flagged it down but then waved it on because we figured the fee would be much higher at this point on the weekend. But I looked through my bag and scrounged up what I had in coins. (My companion didn’t have money.) Just as I found that, another taxi passed by, and we flagged it down. I asked the driver how much he would charge, hoping against hope that I had enough. He looked at me for a moment and said he would take us both for $1000, which is exactly what I had and not nearly as much as I expected. We were able to get home to plan and get ready for bed on time without problems. As I thought about this experience, I realized that it’s just like the Atonement; we had gotten ourselves into an uncomfortable position and needed help. When this happens, Christ accepts whatever we can give, but–just like the unknowing taximan–He requires ALL we can give. This doesn’t mean that we pay for the consequences of what we did; that’s impossible. Rather, His grace allows all that we can give to be enough to receive forgiveness and mercy and makes change possible. I’m forever grateful for this incredible act of love, and every day I’m learning how to better give my all and to make real changes in my life.

That’s about all for this week! I’m excited for this next week because we have interviews with President and then a multi-zone conference. Wahoo! 😀 I love being a missionary, and it’s the best decision that I’ve made in my 20 short years. There is no better place for us than in the path of Christ’s gospel.

I love you all! Be safe, be kind, be grateful. And always remember who you are!!

Love,
Hermana Saunders

Advertisements

Week 63: in which ataquamos la carpeta

Because it sounds cooler in Spanish. 😀

Dear friends and family,
The title of my e-mail reads, “in which we attack the area book.” The area book is where the missionaries record the names and progress of people they’ve taught or contacted. An “attack” is when a group of missionaries from different sectors descend on one sector to help the missionaries find people to teach. On Friday the sisters from the other zone (because we’re the only ones in ours 😦 ) came and helped us call people from the area book to set up appointments. It was fun to spend time working with them, especially since Hermana Bazaes, my trainer, is one of them! It was great to talk with her again and to meet another “sister”: the fourth trainee of Hermana B, Hermana Baer. We ended up with several appointments for this week. I look forward to the progress we’ll see with these people. 😀 Hay milagros en la carpeta! 😀

becca 2

A miracle from this week was the opportunity to be in the right place at the right time. We passed the house of a home-bound member, Hermana Clarisoni, on the way to visit a less-active member. She had just looked out the window, saw us, and gestured us inside. Instead of telling her that we were headed somewhere else, I followed the prompting to just spend time with her. We spent a while chatting with her about her life and experiences. She is really an incredible lady and one of the most faithful members I’ve ever met. She`s currently home-bound because of various illnesses, but she’s determined to go to church at least once in November. As we talked, we learned that she had had a particularly terrible day. I’m grateful that God sent us down that street so that we could be there to help that sweet sister. We can`t do much for her physically, but it does one a lot of good to talk with people who love you.

This week I read an article called “Motherhood in the Savior’s Way” from the Liahona, one of the church’s magazines. In it a tired mother of young children reflects about what it means to be a mother in the Savior’s way. She reflected on her tendency to complain or to compare the list of things she does for her kids with that of her kids when they complain. In her thoughts she realizes that Christ never did any of those things. He served without complaining out of pure, perfect love. He never expected praise nor sought it, and He never, ever compares how much He did for us when we complain to Him, although He’ll always remind us of the possibilities His atonement makes possible.

becca 1

And somehow, despite all of our imperfections and shortcomings, God still sees fit to send us miracles, even small ones, our way. Antonia is progressing, and she loves to learn. We made a reading calendar for her this week, which was something fun and different. Rayen, who got baptized last week, is excited to go to the temple, and her mom is rallying hard to really come back to church. We’re looking for new ways to animate the members to work with us. Today a sister called and said that her two older children, Araura (9) and Maxi (6) really want to make visits with us. They both recently shared a pass-along card with their respective teachers, and they love to talk with the missionaries. They are an example to all of us, and they are so cute!!

In other news, I’m learning to knit a scarf, I made a really cool decorative thing from wool (pics to come, I hope), and the weather can’t make up its mind about whether it wants to be winter or summer. The gospel is true; I know because I’ve asked and I’ve puts its principles to the test. It truly is God’s plan for us, and if we’ll trust Him enough to put our life in His perfect hands, He’ll make more of us than we can ever imagine. Take courage from the fact that He knows your potential, and He’ll help you accomplish it. As Elder Cook once said, “Yes, you can–and you will–make it.” God loves you, and I do too. Have a great week!

Love from Chile,
Hermana Saunders

Week 51: in which we go to the end of the world

IMG_0265

Dear family and friends,

Or maybe just the end of Arauco, but it was still cool. 😀 We went to the beach today. The weather was gorgeous and perfect for photos, which was a lot of fun. My batteries are dead, so hopefully I’ll be able to send the pics the hermanas took when they’re done writing. I love the opportunity to spend time in beautiful places and think that God created all of this for us. 😊

SANY0158

On Thursday we tried something new: we set up a table in the plaza with pamphlets, cookies, and hot chocolate and invited people to take one of each. 😀 A few people did stop and talk to us, and we were able to take down a few names and numbers to pass by later.  😀

On Friday we went to Concepciòn for a conference with two other zones. It was great because I got to see Hermana Clark, my CCM companion, and Hermana Bazaes, my first companion in the field. 😀 Hermana Clark is training as well, and Hermana Bazaes is a training hermana…it’s crazy how time flies. Also, turns out the senior couple in the office knew Grandpa Saunders from USU! Small world. Elder Willey and Elder Sandoval (elders from the office) talked about setting realistic and helpful goals, and their presentation was honestly an answer to my prayers. I’m trying to be better about making a plan to reach my goal; I often miss the planning part of the process, which is like trying to get to the other side of the canyon without building the bridge. 😛

DSC00700

On Saturday I had the opportunity to return, in a way, to my training and to remember all of the feelings I had at the beginning of my mission. We did a “mini-mission” with members of the Camilo branch (which is an hour and a half bus ride from Arauco). My comp for the day was Pricilla, who is my age and a convert of 7 years. She was so excited for this opportunity to spend the day as a missionary. She doesn’t know yet if she’ll serve a mission, but I know that if she does, she’ll be fantastic. We had fun and saw miracles when the SECOND door we knocked opened, and we found a couple who want to know more. It was a wonderful experience and helped me realize even more the power of a member’s testimony in the lesson. And not even the rain could dampen our spirits. 😀

During our district meeting on Tuesday, I had a bit of personal revelation that I wanted to share: We were talking about our weaknesses, and I was thinking about how frustrating mine were sometimes. A thought came to my mind: our weaknesses do not make us unworthy of God’s help; He’s given them to us so that we’ll draw closer to Him. Sometimes it’s hard to look back on a day or a week and think, “Dang it! I messed up again and again. How can I keep asking God to help me with the same problem if I never (as far as we can see) improve?” But I think that, in some ways, that’s the point. We realize that God is the only one who can help us completely overcome our weaknesses. If we were great at everything, we’d never need to rely on God! I don’t know if that means I’ll always be spacey or bad at time-management, but I know that it does mean that I can always rely on my Father to help me and to forgive me when I mess up.

That’s all for this week! I hope you all a great week! Remember who you are!

Love from Chile,
Hermana Saunders

Week 43: in which my sister comes to town

Dear family and friends,

I’m working with my sister now! Hermana Custódio was trained by my trainer, Hermana Bazaes, which makes us “sisters” in the mission. I love working with her: we’re a lot alike, and she’s a really hard worker and just so incredibly patient and wise. She has half as much time as I do in the mission, but you wouldn’t know it. She says she’s really timid, but she talks to everybody! 😀 We’re going to have a fun cambio.

SANY0137

This week has been one of lots of little miracles, like finding the back of my nametag right after it fell and the fact a member gave us milk instead of juice at lunch 😀 (earlier Hermana Lange and I had told her that in the our families, we were accustomed to having milk or water instead of juice or pop at the table. Here it’s ALWAYS juice or pop). Another miracle is the confidence I feel as I lead the sector. I’m learning that when I’m waiting for something big to happen (cambios, leaving on the mission, a test), the waiting is always worse than the actual thing. Especially in the mission, after the change comes, you just keep working, and God keeps helping you. I know I’m not leading perfectly–nobody is a perfect missionary–but I know that I’m living worthily of the Spirit, and I’m learning to confide in him more. I once made the comment that some of the greatest miracles we see in the mission is our own progress, and I still feel that way, especially as I work here in Villa Obispo.

Hermana Custódio and I have decided that our motto for this cambio is “¡A la batalla con la fuerza del Señor!” (To the battle with the strength of the Lord!) I love the examples in the scriptures of the prophets and youth who trust in the Lord rather than in their own strength. We may be imperfect people, but with the strength of the Lord, we can do–and are doing–incredible things.

This week was really cool because we found two more “news” who are good friends with youth in our ward! We had a short lesson with Javiera, her boyfriend José Manuel, and her cousin Martin on Friday. When we asked why Javiera agreed to meet with us, she said “I like being around Mormons.” She and José have been at several Family Home Evenings with a family in our ward, but this is the first time they’ve had an actual lesson with the missionaries. I’m so excited to teach them!! They’re so honest and open, and I love their questions. It was also fun to show them my pictures from home; they loved the mountains. 😀

None of our investigators came to church on Sunday, but we did have a wonderful miracle: an inactive family came to church for the first time in years!! The dad has been going for a couple months now, but yesterday they all came together. On Saturday we had a lesson with them, and we talked about the Atonement. I shared Alma 7:11-13 and asked what they would be willing to do this week to show Christ that they love him and accept His sacrifice. They all talked about being better with prayer and scripture study, and then I said, “We’d like to make a goal for when we can see the whole family together at church.” They all looked at each other, and to our great surprise, the mom responded, “Let’s go tomorrow.” The first time we met this family, she told us she had absolutely no intention of going back to church. But yesterday she and her daughter thanked us for all we’ve done for her family. It’s a beautiful experience to be part of the changes that the gospel makes in the lives of these people.

I’m out of time, so that’s all for this week! I love you all! I leave you with the same invitation I made that family: As you think about what Christ has done for you, consider one thing you’ll do this week to show Him that you truly love Him and accept His sacrifice. I promise you that you’ll find a wonderful difference in your life as you apply this. I know I have.

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

Love,
Hermana Saunders

Week 19: In which Hermana Saunders experiences growing pains

Dearest family and friends,

Hermana Bazaes transferred up north to Arauco, and now I’m serving with Hermana Chavez from Bolivia. She’s pretty great, although as with everything, it was a transition. 🙂 This week has really stretched me, and it’s been hard, but I’m also grateful for what I’m learning. Since Hermana Chavez doesn’t know English, I have to rely completely on the Spanish that I do know. I realized that I know a lot more than I thought, and it’s a good feeling. Some days I feel a little like I’m walking in too-big shoes and stumbling a lot, but I can feel Heavenly Father helping me. I know I’m not alone in this work.

SANY0017.JPG

I don’t think I really understood “love the members” until I led the sector this week. Until this transfer, I think I’ve mostly been going through the motions of missionary work; my heart was definitely in it, but I felt like I was mostly following Hermana Bazaes. But this week as I’ve taken more initiative to talk to the members and investigators and plan to meet their needs, I’ve felt something special growing in my heart. I feel my love for them growing, and I love the work more too.

On Monday we spent time with several members for a kind of farewell for Hermana Bazaes. The members show their love through food, and it’s really good food. Not great for the waistline, but…

On Tuesday morning I saw Hermana Bazaes off at the bus terminal. It was the weirdest feeling watching her drive off in the bus with me standing in the terminal. I waited with other missionaries who were also waiting to receive their new companions. We waited for about six hours in the terminal; at one point, a few missionaries pulled out hymn books and started singing Christmas hymns quietly, and then an elder pulled everyone together, and we sang for the other people waiting in the terminal. We sounded pretty good, if I do say so myself. 😉

This week a lot of things fell through, but it was just an opportunity for us to see the people who needed us and for Heavenly Father to show us tender mercies. Also, there are so many fresh fruits and veggies available here, and the flavor is fuller here than in the States. It seems like everyone has at least one fruit tree, and we pass so many cherry trees absolutely bursting with ripe cherries. BUT all of the ripe cherries are at the top, waaaay out of the reach of two poor sisters on the ground. But yesterday a member gave us a huge bag of cherries; we ate about half of them on our way home. They where so good! I am a happy hermana. 😉

DSC02036.JPG

I wish I had all day to write, but that’s all the time I have today. I love you all! I appreciate your prayers, and I know Heavenly Father is listening. I know He loves you individually, and He wants to help you. You are His children, and He has a plan for you. Have faith in Him, and let Him lead you, and you´ll find your life is better than you could ever have made on your own.

Ciao for now! Have a great week!
Love,
Hermana Saunders

Week 18: in which the Hermanas melt just a little

Dear family and friends,

The weather here is seriously loco. It’ll be cloudy and cold in the morning but in the high 80s in the afternoon. We’ve had some really hot days, and it seems like the temp is creeping into the 90s. Whoo. BUT on the plus side, summer means a wonderful abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables, and just about every single person has some kind of fruit tree. Seriously, the fruit and veggies here are like candy. I am a very happy hermana. 🙂

SANY0001.JPG

This week Hermana Poyfair completed 11 months in the mission, Hermana Bazaes completed 6 months, and I completed 4! We celebrated with sushi on Wednesday, and Hermanas Poyfair and Alarcon bought cupcakes for Hermana B and me on Thursday. (There’s a cupcake shop in their sector that sells absolutely divine cupcakes. Great for the spirit, less for the waistline. 😉 )

SANY0134.JPG

This week, I learned a very important lesson about teaching people, not lessons. We’ve been a little frustrated with an investigator because every time we tried to teach her about the restoration, she would go off on some tangent, and we would completely lose the lesson. We spent about three weeks like this, and we wanted so badly for her to progress. Finally, this week we both felt like we should teach about the Plan of Salvation, not the Restoration. We changed our plans, and we were able to discover and answer many big questions that she and her daughter had. We had been talking for about a month, but we hadn’t really been listening or asking the right questions, and we had been trying to teach the wrong lesson. I’m really excited to teach her and her daughter, and I know they both can find great joy and peace in the gospel.

We had other miracles on Sunday. Daniela, the girlfriend of Miguelangelo, came to sacrament meeting! She doesn’t have much time on Sundays because she has to pick up her daughter from the campo, but she and Miguelangelo took the time for sacrament meeting, and she said she enjoyed it. Also, Ricardo, one of our newer investigators, asked us to call him to wake him up on Sunday morning, and he’s participating in mutual! I’m so happy to see our investigators grow in the gospel and find greater joy, hope, and peace. It is truly a great privilege.

In my studies, I’ve realized how much this gospel is one of peace. The principles of forgiveness, hope, faith, and patience allow us to leave behind the pain and craziness of this world and enjoy peace in Christ. And when we refuse to forgive, we can never feel real peace.

I have a million other things that I learned this week, and I’ve run out of time, but know that I love you all! Never forget that your Heavenly Father loves you perfectly and wants to hear from you. If you’re struggling, you can trust in the grace of Jesus Christ to carry you. Truly, through His grace, we can do all things.

Have a great week! Ciao for now!

Love,
Hermana Saunders

P.S. Hermana Bazaes is transferring. She’ll leave on Tuesday, and my new comp, Hermana Chavez, will be here on Tuesday afternoon. I’ve heard many good things about her. 🙂 I appreciate your prayers and am forever grateful for your support!

Week 17: in which time flies by waaay too quickly

Dear friends and family,

Time is weird in the mission. I can’t believe I’ve been out for almost exactly 4 months now, and this week I finish my training. Wow. Also, haircut! Courtesy of Hermana Alarcon, who learned on herself and her companion.

SANY0125.JPG

I learned a lot this week through challenges and interesting experiences. Wednesday was a hard day in terms of animo, and I was worried about a number of things. I asked the elders for a blessing of strength, and I felt more peace from that. I am so grateful for the priesthood and for the men who keep themselves worthy of it. I marvel that Heavenly Father entrusted this incredible power to imperfect men; it is truly a demonstration of His incredible love and trust.

I also learned that as little as one really good hour can make a seemingly blah and unproductive day totally worth it. Not much happened on Thursday; our appointments fell [through], and very few people opened the door. But in the last hour of the day, we encountered a less-active member that we’ve been trying to reach for a couple weeks, we had a great lesson with part of a family that we’re teaching, and we finally had a member-present lesson with Veronica. (This was a wonderful miracle because the member, Gladis, is a perfect match for Veronica, and her testimony is incredible. We’re so happy to finally introduce Veronica to a friend in the church!) Hermana Bazaes and I walked home that night happy and with much better animo.

SANY0107.JPG

Hermana Gladis also referred us to a friend and her family. We were able to visit this family, who is passing through a really hard time. They’ve had a lot of difficulties, and the father passed away about a year ago. They’re receptive and friendly, and I’m excited to bring this message of hope and peace to them.

Sunday was a good day. We were able to help a home-bound member decorate her house and left her with a little more light in her very difficult life. Also, Miguelangelo came to church! He said a lot of things were very new but that he liked it. We have an appointment with him and his girlfriend later in the week. We had a lesson in the night with Luis and Ema about the Plan of Salvation, and we were able to understand them and their needs better.

That’s about all for this week! I love you all! Keep your head up and rely on your Heavenly Father. Trust that He really does have everything in His hands, and He sees your incredible potential.

Love,
Hermana Saunders