Tuesday, December 17, 2013

25 Years

Dearest Family!!!

25 years ago today, within the Castle walls of the Salt Lake temple, a family began. A Gorgeous young bride of only 19 years and her Handsome Groom made a covenant with God to be forever. I am indebtedly grateful for that promise that they made and forever in awe of the Marriage and Parenthood that ensued thereafter. I love you and am celebrating your 25 years today, Mom and Dad! Love love love you!

Steel wool returned this week with our Once a transfer Día de Limpieza yesterday. Handwashed laundry for 2 hours and lots of scrubbing for the rest. Wooee, we did WORK! Also, as far as transfers go, We got our transfer call this morning and . . . wait for it, drumroll . . . We're all staying together!! All 4 of us sisters serving in Cañada de Gomez are staying here. I couldn't have been more surprised, I thought for sure something would change amongst us four. But lo and behold, it isn't so. We are excited to enjoy the Holidays together. I will be calling home on Christmas via Skype, I'm excited to see your faces! I'm assuming I'll be calling home between 1 pm and 5 pm Argentina time. Also, Christmas will be my Pday so I won't be sending a letter next week, just calling to talk to you. I know that's a wide open window I'm sorry I can't be more specific. I hope it will be a wonderful Christmas!

I don't have much time so I'll have to tell you more in our phonecall this next week. Argentina is getting SO HOT I sometimes think I'm going to melt. It has been in the 90-100 degree weather this week without Airconditioning. I have never been so tan in my life!

The favorite experience of the week: There's a menos activa in our Rama (Branch) named Rita. In Argentina many families live under the same roof, and even moreso live on the same property or street. When we're with Rita, we almost always encounter a new person from her family. This week we met Gimena, a Girlfriend living with one of her Grandsons. She has two little boys, ages 7 and infant of 6 months. She believes in God and has studied the New Testament a great deal. She is a marvelous woman. This week we shared with her the Restoration video and afterwards she said she believed it. We taught her to pray, she has only ever said recited Catholic prayers, and so we introduced the process 1) Dear Heavenly Father, 2)We thank thee for, 3)Please Bless or I ask thee for, 4)In the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen. Usually our investigators say they wouldn't like to pray or are too embarrassed. But Gimena just went for it, and offered up a humble, sincere prayer from the Heart. As she prayed that God would watch over her Children and her "Marido," she broke down into tears. She closed the prayer and continued to sob. We asked her what she was feeling, and she explained that she was overcome with feelings of love, peace. We explained that this is the feeling the spirit brings, testifying of truth. We invited her to be baptized but she has to be married in order to do so. We'll for certain be working with her. There is a tremendous power in prayer!

Remember this Christmas Season that God lives! That the true reason for the Holidays is our beloved Savior, Jesus Christ. 2013 years ago, he was born to a young mother in a humble stable. He lived a quiet life of servitude, and taught us love. He brought to us the way to get back home to our father, and the way we can enjoy true happiness in this life despite the challenges, fears, difficulties, and heartaches that beset us. He is the light, life, and hope of my life . . . and of the world! Praise ye His name!

Love, con MUCHISIMO amor,
Hermana Boren

Monday, December 9, 2013

If you Like Kisses from Mosquitos and Getting Caught in the Rain

Dearest Family,

One of the most comic weeks in the life of a Rosario, Argentina Missionary. I was on divisions with one of the Sister Training Leaders in a little Pueblito called Roldan (its pretty much the Kamus, Utah of Argentina . . . in other words, a little ole country town in the middle of nowhere) and when I woke up in the morning I had 27 mosquito bites, one of which was on my front lip. Remember that year at Mirror lake when i got bit by a mosquito and my whole eyelid swelled up, family? Well, that happened again, but this time on my mouth. I walked around for a day a little asymmetrical, but it made me laugh. Yesterday we had a flash flood--we had studies during the tarde hours after church, and just after we arrived at Brisa Diaz' home (about 6pm) for a lesson, the skies opened up and CRIED. The streets and sewage systems aren't architecturally designed to handle how much water spills from the heavens every summertime. The water was up to a foot and a half deep when the rain began to calm down. After our lesson, we hurried on home, getting soaked all the while. At this time, lightning and thunder began to crack in rambunctious torments all about the sky. It flashed right above our heads on the power lines, and with it's strike, the lights went out in all of downtown Cañada. Hermana Martinez said a quick prayer in petition for protection, and finally made our way Safely to the apartment. We were sure to thank Heavenly father for the protection he gave us in our bedtime prayer. Luckily the other sisters made it home safely as well. Without the lights on there wasn't much journal writing or studying to be done amongst the four of us, and so we made the best of our situation, lit up a candle, cooked some oatmeal and stove top popcorn, and settled down to watch "Legacy" on our battery powered DVD player. It was a fun Sunday night in the mission field I will never forget. Oh, Argetina. There are so many misadventures here that just make us smile.

This was a beautiful week. We encountered a man while doing street contacting the other day, working in his front yard, that called us over to talk to him. He explained that he needs the word of God in his live, and pulled out a few chairs from his home to talk to us. Juan is his name, and he is such a unique person. He is about 60 years old, He has two children, ages 6 and 3, a little boy and a little girl. The little girl has special needs and the little boy is just a doll, he wanted to make sure we had enough "Jugo" (juice) and that we weren't thirsty. Juan currently is housing a homeless man named Elvio, about 40 years old. This week while I was away on divisions in Roldan, Hermana Reyes and Hermana Martinez invited them both to baptism on December 28th, and they accepted! I am so tickled for them and look forward to seeing how the Gospel truly blesses families and changes lives. Juan, after hearing about Joseph Smith, got teary eyed and explained that he's searching for the truth as well. We promised, as we always do, that the answer and testament of the truths we share come from God, not from us. That through the witness of the Holy Spirit, he will come to a knowledge that this is the true and restored church of Jesus Christ upon the Earth, or that it is not. They both read the Book of Mormon together after our visits and their prayers are powerful and sincere. Elvio has this little dog that follows him around everywhere, he calls her his best friend, and he asked us if we needed any help in the music on Sunday because he plays the drums. We explained that we'd love to have his talents at our Noche de Hogar activities on Fridays. We'll wait and see. We are just hoping they will come to church this Sunday so they can progress and make this precious covenant of baptism.

Sister Jan Holiday, I got your package from clear back on August 9th with the marvelous drawings from the Primary Kids! Oh, they are darling! Thank you for sending it and there is hope for the other packages you all have sent! Thank you for your love and your examples. Yes, you sweet primary Children, you ARE missionaries now! You don't have to wait until you're grown. The world needs your light and your pure Christlike examples!

I had a profound spiritual experience this week. On Saturday we had a Zone meeting, and for a couple of reasons it was just an off day. I was caught up in worrying about the safety of missionaries throughout the world, and particularly for the Elders and Sisters in more politically and physically dangerous areas of the world. Living in a foreign country opens my eyes in so many ways of the freedoms and rights I have been offered my entire life. American Heroes, my gratitude is yours! As I pondered the turmoil, temptation, and unrest in the world around me, I felt overcome with worry and contempt in my heart. My heart cried to God all the day long. When we returned from Rosario in the late afternoon, we had an hour for personal study. I felt impressed to open to Alma 56, which relates the account of the 2000 young stripling warriors. Helaman writes to Moroni about his experience as the leader of these young men. During their first weeks and months, he does all he can to evade fights with the Lamanites and protect his little "sons," while still fulfilling their duties and work as a battallion. But there comes a point where the troops of Antipus are dying, and the closest aid they have is this small battalion of teenage boys. I began to weep as I read the following verses:

"And now, whether they were overtaken by Antipus we knew not, but I said unto my men: Behold, we know not but they have halted for this purpose that we should come against them, that they might catch us in their snare,

"Therefore what say ye, my sons, will ye go against them to battle?

"And now I say unto you, my beloved brother Moroni, that never had I seen so great courage, nay, not amonst all the Nephites.

" . . . Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death, and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives, yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them."

I testify that God was with me in this moment, in this dark our of my grief and worry, and testified to me that we are as the armies of Helaman, truly. He is with us on our right hand and our left. He protected me this week through storms of lightning and storms of men, and he does so to each of his precious sons and daughters in the mission field. I so testify that the Book of Mormon is an account of people who actually lived, and that its pages are inspired of God. Those who have not read the book of Mormon, read it now and feast upon its words. Those who have read it and do not believe it, I plead with you to pick it up and read it again. We have to push ourselves in order to find understanding, at times.

Onward, ever onward.
Hermana Boren

Monday, November 25, 2013

Children of a King

Dearest Family,

We are children of a King! I hope you all remember that on the hardest days and on your every days. You are children of King on high! God is our father, and we have the potential and goal of becoming like him. It is not just a good philosophy, good theology, or an optimistic hope. It is a reality I treasure.

Something you should know before I forget--you know the boxcars I mentioned? They are not just there for looks. People actually live in them!!!! Boxcar children are real here in Cañada de Gomez!!! I saw one of the doors open and people sitting down to eat dinner the other night, and I stopped dead in my tracks! I asked a member if it's a restauraunt or kiosko or something, but nope--they are houses!! I told Hermana Martinez we should look into changing our apartment to living in a boxcar, and she just laughed and looked at me like the crazy person I am. I always say little boys never grow up. Sometimes little girls never grow up, too.

This past Tuesday we had the privilege of traveling to Rosario for a Sister's conference, titled "Hijas de Un Rey," or "Daughters of a King." It was for each and every Hermana serving in the Rosario mission. You know what that means . . . drumroll . . . I got to see every single beautiful sister missionary that i love in this mission! I attacked each one with a great big bear hug and didn't let go for the longest time! MTC--Hermana VanWagnen, Hermana Whittaker, Hermana Telfer, From Washington Tacoma and finally here after her Visa waiting was Hermana Dean, and the Sisters I came to love in Venado--Hermanas Guevara, Contreras, Aragon, and Reyes. Seeing Hermana Alicea felt like coming home. She is currently serving in Uraguay. Yup, you heard me, Uruguay. A tiny part of our mission stretches into another country. She is currently whitewashing as well and training a brand new Misionera from Ecuador. I am so proud of her! We're both having transfers full of trials and opposition, but we helped remind each other of one of our favorite themes in an EFY song, "Impossible is not a word." We overcame so many impossible situations in Venado Tuerto together. In the work of the Lord, we can overcome anything. She is like a sister to me and I will forever be thankful for the best friend I have gained on my mission in her!

The conference was balm for the soul. Hermana Alicea, Hermana Whittaker, and I sang a musical number  arrangement of "As Sisters in Zion" with the "We are daughters" harmony, translated into spanish, of Course. We enjoyed inspired counsel from Hermana Giuliani and the Sister Training Leaders about utilizing Music in our teaching, Family History Research and getting recent converts started, Modest Dress, Teaching simply and powerfully like the Savior did, and more. We had a group lunch, it was a lovely set up wtih place mats and centerpieces and everything. The office elders and Assistants to the president dressed up as waiters and served us personally, it was a hoot. We also had a short game where we made dresses made out of Newspaper, it reminded me of one year at girls camp when we made wedding dresses out of toilet paper and such. My favorite part of the conference was the counsel Presidente Giuliani offered to conclude the meeting. He spoke about challenges we sometimes face as missionaries, more specifically with companions. He explained that one of his companions from his missionary days became one of his best friends and a different companion made his life miserable. But he expressed the need to love as the Savior does, and that the hard experiences of our mission are like rain. We need to have a stormy sky now and again in order to have a successful harvest of fruits and grains, etc. We can't always have sunny skies. He explained to keep pressing forward and learn to trust in the Lord. He delivered the message so beautifully yet simply. I am grateful for the comfort of having inspired Priesthood leaders to lead and guide us.

The conference was over too fast, but we set to work the rest of the week, Hermana Martinez and I. Brisa, that sweet, darling little girl of age 9 had her baptismal interview on Saturday. Elder Rodriguez, our district leader, explained that after interviewing her he felt a strong spiritually impression that she is pure and doesn't yet know what sin is. She is at a learning capacity of about a 5 or 6 year old after the birth challenges she had as a premie. Elder Rodriguez explained that she doesn't have the need to be baptized to be cleansed of sin because of her pure state, but that she can still be baptized because of her age if she would like to. We talked with Lorena, Brisa's mother who is a member, and explained the situation. With Brisa's eagerness for baptism, it was decided that she will continue with baptism, but with the condition that Lorena needs to continually remind her daughter as she grows of the covenant she made. We are excited for this beautiful little girl to enter the waters of baptism this Saturday, November 30th.

We are still working with Alfredo, and also wtih a young lady of 14 named Micaela (Mikayla in Spanish). We also enjoyed a fantastic Ward activity involving water baloons and a giant pizza on Saturday. God is good. We keep going, we keep working, we keep loving the Lord. Never forget to cry to him in fervent prayer, like Enos does with pure heart and honest, real intent.

Love, forever and forever and forever,
Hermana Boren

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Amazing Grace

Dearest Family and Friends,

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind but now I see.
My chains are gone, I've been set free.
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood his mercy reigns
Unending love, Amazing Grace.

We sang this every time we had a meeting in the Washington Tacoma Mission. The gorgeous WA-TAC. And I have sung it so often to myself or quietly in the Argentina streets while I've been here. I express often to our less active members and investigators that "musica es una ventana a los cielos," "music is a window to the heavens." It is so true for me! And this song expresses what I feel in my heart so profoundly. Unending love, amazing grace.

This week was beautiful. It started with rains to make us feel like Noah would be coming around the bend in his arky-arky any minute, and ended with rays of AFRICA-HOT, as Dad says. I once thought Utah weather was bipolar . . . I'm certainly not going to claim I'm as tan as Corey gets in the summer time, but . . .  I'm getting there :) I'm excited to see a green Christmas here in the Southern Hemisphere! Also, Corey, you would love the stars. They are different constellations than the northern hemisphere, and I catch myself still looking for the Big Dipper at nighttime. Sometimes we can barely see  Orion's belt on the horizon, but nothing more is familiar in the night sky. I wonder what kind of star pictures belong in this part of the atmosphere. Aren't the creations of our God and King magnificent?

Lots of teaching the past days, one of my greatest life joys and passion. 9-year-old-Brisa now has the whole story of Joseph Smith's first vision memorized and often reads and recites it to her Mom. She is a shy girl, but we're trying to help her feel more confidence and realize the angel that she is and the divine potential that she has.

Alfredo, the Argentine-Bill-Cosby, came to church again this week and wants to be baptized! If all goes well this week with teaching and understanding, and as his conversion process continues, he will be ready to enter the waters of baptism November 30th as well. The other Sisters Here in Cañada (Hermanas Rane y Carlson) have two investigators with baptismal dates for November 30th as well. If all of them come through, we will have 4 wonderful, strong new members of the church confirmed with the gift of the Holy Ghost on December 1st in the Cañada de Gomez branch. How exciting!

Our recent endeavors have also included contacting every family that is on our ward list that doesn't come to church. In our area alone, we have more than 45 houses to visit. GAH! We've met many and have fixed appointments with several. We're hoping to get these good sheep back to their fold.

The other day we were walking to visit one of the less active homes when Hermana Martinez suggested that we take another route. I agreed to have a change of scenery, but it turned out to be very inspired. We encountered a motley group of people chatting outside a lovely home in the summer shade, about 11 am on Saturday morning. We stopped to talk with them--A darling Grandmotherly woman named Victoria, A young, hip, 25 year old mother named Vanessa and her baby, and three friendly kids named Gabriel, age 11, Amilcar, age 13, and Fiambra, age 9. Come to find out, none of them are related except two of the children, who are siblings. They are just neighbors, Gabriel lives with his family down the Street, Vanessa lives in the house next door, Amilcar and Fiambra had ridden there bikes here from around the corner, and Victoria was sitting contentedly talking with them all on her front porch. This is what I love about Argentina. All kinds are friends. They had all just stopped to spend some time together and talk. They gladly invited us to join, and Hermana Martinez and I gladly sat down and began to talk with them. We struck up conversation about families, and expressed that their families are a forever thing--that through the gospel of Jesus Christ, we will live with those that we love forever. Victoria seemed squirmish at first at the idea, like it was too good to be true. She kept shaking her head and saying "No es verdad, no es verdad." But Gabriel piped up, "Yo lo creo," he said confidently, "I believe it." And something changed in Victoria's countenance. A little hope struck, from that confident pureness of her young, neighbor boy. She promptly began asking if we missionaries were well taken care of, who feeds us and if we had enough to eat, and then went inside to fetch us two bananas. I was overcome by her kindness, and she then invited us to come back whenever we could to gather some bread and cheese from her another day. Soon, Gabriel, Amilcar, and Fiambra began asking me a flurry of excited questions about speaking English and the United States--Gabriel was particularly interested in the Spurs Basketball team--and we began exchanging words in English and Spanish back and forth. Gabriel generously gave me two Bon-o-bon chocolates. All the while, Hermana Martinez is sitting with Vanessa teaching an in-depth conversation about the importance of Baptism by proper priesthood Authority. It was incredible. We left with a prayer, a thank you, and an invitation to return promptly. That moment was a tender mercy from Heavenly Father. Sometimes I wish that every day as a missionary could be that easy--sharing the gospel with such willing, listening ears to people of such sincere hearts.

Learning much and loving much. Remember always that you are loved on High, and loved from here in ARGENTINA!
Ty guy and Jordan, Happiest of 15th birthdays! I LOVE YOU THIIIIIIIIIIIIIIS much!

-Hermana Boren

Monday, November 11, 2013


My Beloved Family and Sweet Friends,

So much to tell you! Thank you so much for your emails and letters. I love hearing from all of you! Sister Holiday, NEVER doubt how much I love you and feel of your love! I am so sorry that the packages haven't come through, it's just the unlucky truth of Argentina. Don't you worry, I'm sure they'll make it sometime. And Mom, I did get the letters from you and Corey and the beautiful Simon Dewey cards. They are gorgeous and you know how much I love his artwork. I gave one of them to Hermana Martinez and she placed it all nice and neat in her journal. I love the mail you send! We get mail whenever we have a trip to Rosario for a training or something, or when our Zone Leaders go to Rosario they bring us back the mail. It feels like old fashioned mail times, really. Like the pioneer times! I wanted you to know that though I'm not able to see Hermana Alicea or the other missionary friends of mine I mentioned before, I did happen to be with Hermana Reyes when she got your letter--she is in my zone (I am so lucky because she is an absolute doll! Chilean princess, more like it) and she looked so surprised to have mail when the zone leaders handed her your letter with the Jesus Picture on the front. She looked at the name funny, like "Who is the Boren Bunch" and I explained that "Este carta es de mi familia." She looked so flabbergasted and delightfully surprised and exclaimed "En Serio??" in the same moment, and then she began to cry, gave me the tightest hug I have ever received. Quickly she began to open the letter and look through the pictures, laughing and smiling as she looked at the drawings that Corey and the primary kids sent her, and she loved the pictures of Christ you sent as well. Thank you so much, that moment was a sweet tender mercy I will remember forever. I felt in that moment all kinds of love--love for my sweet friend Hermana Reyes, love for you, my family, and the tender kindness of your hearts to serve selflessly and give much. Love for the Lord and the sweet gift he's given me to serve a mission and come to know such erect, good doing people from all over the world. Love for the Savior, and his example of love and service that we have the gift to follow. Thank you so much for sending her that letter. I'm sure that Elder Vergara, Elder Alvarez, and Hermana Alicea felt much the same. I don't want to ask to much, but if you could send a letter to Hermana Martinez as well, she would love it. She also doesn't get much mail from Honduras. She said she wouldn't give her family the address because she doesn't want them to spend the money. I thought in that moment, by golly, we can at least get her a letter.

I have learned so much this week. I feel that every day in my mission I am learning to sing the song of redeeming love as I experience daily moments of celestial light and also the sorrow of personal Gethsemane. There is so much Heavenly Father has for his missionaries to learn. I feel that the Mission field has given me my life. It's amazing the lives that are blessed on all sides because of missionary service--investigators get a chance to accept the savior and his gospel, converts receive the ordinances of salvation, members receive conversion and testimony as they too thrust in their efforts in the work, and we missionaries . . . I feel like we get it all, because we get to be a part of it all! Heavenly Father is so good to us!

Miracles of this week:

Brisa. She is 9 years old and a little piece of Heaven. She squeezes me with a big hug every time we enter the Diaz' home and even shared her birthday candy with me (it was something like warheads, and I loved it). She was born very premature and was sick, almost on her deathbed, 2 times before age 5. She's been through a lot. She hasn't yet learned to read and I'm figuring she's got to have several learning disabilities, and I'm drawing back on all my Elementary Education experience to know how to help her and how to teach her. I feel it is God's hand that I am blessed to be in her life right now, and I feel no greater joy right now then when I am with Hermana Martinez, teaching this sweet little girl about the Savior and that he loves her. I think she feels very insecure about learning and hasn't had a good experience in school. We are doing our very best to help her learn to love learning as she comes to know the message of the Restoration. I am so grateful that I bought a picture Book of Mormon at the MTC store in Spanish. Mom and Dad, I love this book and have used it often on my mission--thank you for helping me learn the stories of the Book of Mormon through this simplified version all through my growing up years. I know how to find each Book of Mormon story by picture now. Austin, I always think of you when I turn to the part about King Lamoni's father when he learns from Aaron. You know, the little drawing of the wife, and the spear in the background . . . you've got to know what I mean :) Love you, Jbird.

Also, our investigator Maria--we met her on our second day here in Cañada, just doing the good-old door to door contacting. She started bawling when she first met us and asked us to come back. She has come to two different church activities and we have had 4 lessons so far. She is so solid! She has read every reading assignment in the Book of Mormon that we've extended to her and prays every morning and night. We had a supernal moment this week when her granddaughter, Florencia, was listening in on a lesson. We invited Florencia to pray, and when she shied away, Maria encouraged her that she could do it, and before our eyes began helping her through a prayer, step by step. "Padre Celestial, Te doy gracias . . . " Oh my goodness. We felt like two little giddy kids afterwards as we all but skipped from the lesson. Hermana Martinez gave me the spanish equivalent of "Did you just see that! That was awesome!" It is one of the tender things we enjoy as missionaries, teaching others to pray.

We encountered a man during contacts the other day named Pedro. He is deaf in one ear and can't speak very well. In his quiet, half-worded speech, he told us that he is a member of the church, that he used to work in the United states (I think it was Texas) for a time, and found the missionaries there. He was baptized, told us about the peace he felt taking the sacrament, and how he has kept everything he learned about the book of Mromon and Heavenly Father locked in his heart. He then expressed that he felt it was a sign from God that we were passing and stopped to talk to him. He kept pointing at our name tags and then at the sky, the heavens. We hope we can help him return to activity and strengthen his testimony.

Yesterday Hermana Martinez and I taught the Relief Society lesson, that was a first in my mission. Lots of teaching, but never Relief Society before. We talked about the lesson in the Lorenzo Snow teachings manual about forsaking the world and putting our priorities and love with God. Shout out to Bishop Gurney: A long time ago in Youth Conference, you used an example with a glass mason jar about rocks being the essential things, littler rocks and sand being important things, and water being the extra things. You expressed visually the importance of putting our priorities with the essential things. I definitely copied this idea for our lesson and taught the sisters the importance of putting God and his commandments as our essential things, first and foremost in our life. Thank you for giving me that lesson visual! YW and YM leaders, you never know what the youth will remember and need later on their missions and in life. Thank you for each and every one of the Ward members in Highland who have blessed and influenced my life, and that of my family.

Also, 10 minutes before Sacrament meeting, I am asked by the 2nd counselor in the Branch Presidency to give a talk. Gulp! Well, I winged it, but luckily during Sunday School and Gospel Principles Hermana Rane had taught about 7 steps to giving a talk in church. So I was all set with the formula in my brain! It goes like this:

1. I remember when . . . (and give a personal story. It's always more interesting.)
2. Explain the doctrine/topic
3. Scripture
4. Use a visual example (like an analogy)
5. Invite (invite the congregation to act on this principle, it's like a missionary commitment)
6. Promise blessings
7. Testimony

When the time came to give my talk, I opened with sharing a sweet personal experience I had when Sister Watkins called me one summer and asked if I could help her son Logan with physical and learning exercises for a week or so. I explained the tender opportunity I had to walk alongside and help on the playground this wonderful little boy, a beloved son of Heavenly Father, as he better learned to walk and play and develop. I then related to the doctrine of helping our brothers and sisters walk spiritually, helping recent converts or less active members develop testimonies and learn the doctrine, but to do so with love and respect, not with criticism or arrogance. I also spoke about Mosiah 4:19, are we not all beggars before God? Sister Watkins, I want to thank you personally for that experience. I was filled with the spirit as I remembered all that I learned from that one short week in your loving home.

All for now, my sweet family. Keep the faith. Keep serving, keep loving the Lord. Can't wait to hear from you all next week!
Hermana Boren

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

How Steel Wool and I Became Best Friends

Hey Howdy Hey Familia!

For the subject: Yesterday was mission wide Dia de Limpieza, or cleaning day. It's always the 6th Monday of every transfer. For that, I became best friends with Steel wool. I'm pretty sure the missionaries who lived in our apartment before us never cleaned the stove, and so I got a little Aunt Kristen white tornado on the kitchen and began busting all the oil and splash stains into sparkling clean. It was fun to listen to our EFY and church music on full blast and sing and clean as though it was a Saturday at home. Our apartment now: Spotless.

I haven't told you this before, so just wait for it . . . my companion knows how to make tortillas! You think the Costco kind are good--you know, the kind that come uncooked and you put them on the stove, like I used to do for breakfast my Junior year of high school--you wouldn't believe what it's like homemade, fresh off the stove, crafted by Honduran hands. DE-lish. I'll do my best to learn the art and teach y'all later.

A food adventure I'll never forget . . . well, I finally found granola here in Aregentina. I liked it so much I decided to have it not only for breakfast but also dinner! After dainly planning one Wednesday andhopping in my pjs, got a bowl of granola and yogurt and settled down in mmy bed to read and relax a little. And funny thing, I noticed after a moment that my cereal was MOVING. This is after 3 or 4 bites, mind you. Ants. Little yellow squirmy ants. I just about jumped out of my bed and fled into the kitchen to grab a glass of water and scrape the ormiga-infested food into the trash. Yup, got my protein in for the day. It made me thin of that story you told me once mom and dad, from when you were newly weds and had breakfast at someone's house and there were weavel in the cornflakes.

Cañada de Gomez has a charm all it's own. There's a train that passes straight through the city, and when we walk past the stationary train off to the side on tracks long unused (I think they leave them there for historic and aesthetic purposes) I can't help but feel that we should take up residence there and write our own version of the boxcar children. Hermana Martinez is obsessed with the train (the functional tracks run right behind our chapel) and every time it passes she exclaims with delight "Tren!" as the church floors vibrate in tandem with the tracks. I think I'm seeing a replication of the same adoration Carson Thacker once fostered for Thomas the train and friends manifested in my companion.

Deoderant comes in aersol cans in Argentina. Weird, right? I never thought I'd have a deoderant that looks like febreeze. And it stings a little on first contact. I miss Secret.

You would love our ward mission leader. His name is Hermano Francisco Said (you say his name like the character from LOST, Sae-eed) and he looks like Sean Connery. I love his accent--like the people from Cordoba Argtentina. And you'd be surprised how distinctly they talk! Even more like a song. You know how people sound when they are from India? It's like that, but in Spanish. He has such a fire about the misisonary work in cañada de gomez and a new convert of only 2 years. He always gives us chocolate or little hard candies when we have ward correlation meeting. He's just the best. We love him! I'm grateful to have a ward mission leader excited about the work. The ward mission leader is really the key to how a ward functions in the mission field, jointly with the missionaries.

Hermana Bustamante is one of my other favorite people here in cañada. She is a darling, grandmotherly woman who doesn't ever stop talking. But her stories are the best, and it is such a treat to meet such sincere people like her. Everyone says they love missionaries, but there's something precious that comes from people who really  DO love missionaries and demonstrate it through their kind words, willingness to help us find / fellowship others, talk to whichever investigator comes to church, and sit and talk with them, etc. She is a true missionary herself, and besides cooks amazing food (Dad, you would die at the taste of her ASADO, or steak) and even though she never stops talking, she always speaks highly of others. She has an amazing story, too. She grew up in an orphanage, but married, lived a happy life with her husband and 9 children, and joined the church about 20 years ago.

The strong point of the ward here in Cañada is definitely the Primary. I know that might sound strange, but truly the strongest and bravest of Cañada are the little ones. This week during fast and testimony meeting, two investigators of Hermana Rane and Hermana Whitaker stood up to offer their testimonies. They are little boys of about 9 or 10. They explained that "JesuCristo siempre esta a mi lado, y JesuCristo va ayudarles." In English, Jesus Christ is always and my side, and he will help all of you. One little boy in particular, Uriel, directed his testimony at a woman in our ward who lost her Husband about 9 months ago. He explained that Jesus Christ will be there to lift her up and help her when she has a hard day. It was supernal. The most dedicated investigators we have in Cañada are children. It is incredible to me. THe hope of the world are those who reflect the light of Christ strongest, and they are Children.

We met an incredible man in the street the other day, hanging out in his wheelchair on the street corner. His name is Alfredo, and he lost his leg from the knee down a few years back. He's in his late 60'sand is a hoot, I feel like he's the Argentine Bill Cosby. We walked him to his house (I loved pushing his wheelchair ) and invited him to church, and if maybe we could share more about the Book of Mormon. He explained that sister missionaries had visited him before, and he loved what they shared and would love to come to church. Well, lo and behold, he showed up to Church on Sunday with his Wooden leg atached and on crutches. It turns out his wheelchair broke, but he still wanted to come to church! I was so touched. How blessed have I been to have a chapel only a few blocks from my house my whole life, and a temple but a 10 minute drive away. He stayed for Sunday School and Sacrament meeting. We are excited for this new investigator and his desire to learn of Christ!

Also right now we are teaching a sweet little 9 year old of a recent convert/less active family, she is on date to be baptized 16 Nov.

Unfortunately, la Familia Casas is no longer interested in the church, along with many of the other people we have met, taught, and invited to be baptized. But all we can do is teach, invite, and strive to be loving examples. They choose whether or not they come to a knowledge of the Savior. That whole agency thing.

Love you, my family. Pray for you always and lvoe you much!
Con Amor y Cariño,
Hermana Boren

Friday, October 25, 2013

Lead, Kindly Light

Dearest Family,

The Book of Mormon is amazing! I have started reading it over again about a week and a half ago. I never realized the amazing stories that fit inside 1st Nephi! This week was like discovering it all over again. 1 Nephi 4 offers an incredible story of adoption. Think about it--Zoram was, in reality, another one of Nephi's brothers after this moment. He dropped everything to follow, in faith, the family of Lehi. 1 Nephi 7, vs. 19 (make sure to look at footnote a and follow the other scriptures it reads) is one of the sweetest love stories I've ever done read. And Nephi gave me strength this week in chapter 17. If he was called to build a ship and moved forward with such faith and a go-get-em attitude, surely so can I. I love the scriptures. KEEP READING THEM. If you don't read them, I beg you to start today. We live in a confused world--i see it every day walking through Metropolitan central of Cañada de Gomez. The light, the guiding light we have is--truthfully, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Scriptures are our compass, the Prophets our north star. Drink, freely, from these precious words. I know them to be true.

This week has been wild! Tuesday was fantastic, we had a training meeting for leaders and trainers/trainees. Upon walking into the front doors of the church, I saw Hermana Alicea. I don't think I've ever run faster to hug someone in my life! I squeezed her tight and had some time to chat with her and see how the first few days of training had been. She's tearing it up. I knew she would :) Missions are the best. My mission has offered me some of the sweetest friendships I have ever had. The training itself was incredible. President Giuliani frightened me a little bit when he instructed us as trainers, that we need to be almost perfect, because we're raising up/training up the next generation of great missionaries. Well, I'm not sure why he called me to be a trainer, taking note of all the imperfections I´ve got going--but that's who the Lord always calls, right? Jovencito Joseph Smith of 14 years old, Young Samuel, Little David. It was a beautiful meeting and I treasured the counsel and the spirit felt. I think I could have cried with happiness when the other Elders from Venado Tuerto, las Hermanas, and I joined in singing the closing song. There's a special and unique treasure of experience that comes when you serve alongside others in the Service of the Lord.

Hermana Martinez and I have DONE WORK this week. We know our area much better now and are coming to know the members, less actives, and investigators every day. We've both come from completely different backgrounds and have strikingly different opinions about certain things, but we teach with such unity. We testify in great union! On Thursday we had a Miracle--we encountered a family just sitting outside their house in the middle of the siesta. We asked if we could share a short message with them about Jesus Christ, and they accepted. We shared the restoration. I asked, in the beginning, if they believed in Jesus Christ. They expressed that they did. I asked if they knew what Jesus Christ did when he lived on the earth. They expressed no, they did not. Later followed to show that they didn't know hardly at all who Christ is, truly, and what he did. I was moved to tears later, thinking of this concept. I have been blessed all my life with a family who has read the scriptures. I have been blessed all my life with Christlike examples who have surrounded me, primarily my parents. Coming to know him every day, I do know who Christ is, and I love him. We offered the purest testimonies we could muster and invited them to baptism on November 9th. The three women--Grandmother, Aunt, and Daughter of 20 years or so--All accepted. It was a beautiful moment! I hope they continue to progress towards this goal and continue to want to learn about Jesus Christ. I am so thankful to know that Christ lived, that he healed, that he suffered and rose again for me. El es mi mejor amigo.

Some short things--I learned how to make ñokis today! They are my favorite food here in Argentina. A sister in the ward taught us how to make them! I was delighted to learn! Look up a picture, if you can. Also, I love learning and speaking Spanish. I tend to pronounce my s's, which many folks don't here, and I've been told I have an accent like the people in Spain. Every time I hear a word I don't understand, it's like a strategy game to figure it out before I get home to my dictionary. I LOVE TO LEARN LANGUAGES! I'm teaching Hermana Martinez English, and yesterday during language study we found ourselves doing the elementary school hand game "Miss Mary Mack" to learn a few words. I was cracking up! I ended up doing a translation of it into Spanish so she could understand. "Señorita Mack, Mack, Mack, en vestido negro, negro, negro." I have a new addiction to yogurt and granola. OH, and grapefruit. Just plain old grapefruit. Who knew, right? It is bitter but it is the best! Also, music is one of my greatest joys on the mission. I am striving to memorize a new hymn in Spanish every week to have handy when I need something to sing in the streets. We walk, I'd say, about 8 miles or more every day in Cañada. It's a LOT, but it gives me time to think.

I think I've found the Gig Harbor of Argentina, Rosario. Many more plants, and many more folks financially steady. And very beautiful. I will come to love Cañada de Gomez as I have my other areas :) I know. All in time. And you can't help but love where you are when you're serving God. Or rather, when he's blessing you.

I love you, sweet family. Thank you for your prayers. I feel them all the time.

Se que este es la iglesia verdadero de Jesu Cristo. Amo mi oportunidad a servirle con todo mi corazon y en todo el tiempo que tengo. Espero que mi ofrenda chiquita podría ser algo de significa en los ojos de mi Padre Celestial. Se que mi debilidades son fortaleza atravez la gracia de mi Salvador.

Con cariño,
Hermana Boren

Monday, October 14, 2013

I'll Go Where You Want Me To Go, Dear Lord

Dear Family,

I'm just gonna jump right into the story, because there's so much to tell you. Firstly, Last Monday after writing you and enjoying a P day of Music and Soccer at the church (I LOVE my zone in Venado Tuerto!) with the other Missionaries, Hermana Alicea and I met our investigator Fred at this beautiful, 1800s looking school in our Area. Remember Fred? Hes our investigator who teaches English and asked if we spoke English, too. Well, he is only 19 and studying to become a teacher, but has already started his Practicum in teaching younger students English as well. He told the faculty at his school about us, and they were to tickled to have native english speakers that they invited us as Guests to speak to the whole teacher training college at the school! Hermana Alicea and I were so nervous at first, it was over 50 adult students (our age, college students) and the two head of department teachers in their 50s or 60s. We were overcome with excitement. We brought our Amercan quarters, pennies, 20$ bills and 1$ bills and photos of the US and our families in our bags as visual aids and said many prayers in our hearts. Fred invited us into the class, where we were met with  a round of applause. It turned out, all they wanted was for us to speak in English so they could hear our accents. I felt like a movie star--everyone gazed at us in awe as we spoke. We shared why we're here in Argentina as missionaries, some of the things that surprised us about the culture, things we love about Argentina (like the food and the loving people). We shared our pictures and money by passing them around, expressed a little about our country and culture in the United states. We talked about the things that are hard about learning Spanish, and they in turn shared what is difficult about learning English. After sharing a little about these things, the questions began to fire from eager hands raised around the room. It was so neat to be able to have this cultural exchange with this fantastic Students, working so hard to become teachers of the English Language. And, in true miraculous fashion--as God always works this way--we were able to share a gospel message as well. Fred mentioned to the faculty that we sing, and so, after the eager cheers of every person in the room, we proceeded to sing "Come thou Fount" in English, and "I am a Child of God" and "Away in a Manger" in Spanish. We briefly shared our testimonies of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, gave pass along cards, and invited them all to our chapel por 25 de Mayo y Junin. After we closed with a Prayer, which I offered in both Spanish and English, we were smothered with kisses on our cheeks and hugs from the women, and firm handshakes and broad smiles from the men. I wish I could describe the feeling that swelled in that room--it seemed like heaven would descend in a moment. We had two people ask us about our beliefs and if we could come visit them personally to share more about our message. The faculty were delighted with us, and asked us if we could come volunteer to help in their classroom a little every week. We of course, happily obliged. When we told our District leader about this experience in our nightly phonecall from him, he was ecstatic, and exclaimed "You're teaching multitudes like the prophets of old in the book of Mormon!" It was a treasure. Hermana Alicea and I couldn't stop grinning as we walked to our dinner appointment with Presidente Antuña and his family.

Tuesday we got another daily miracle. I prayed, with Hermana Alicea, specifically for 4 new investigators. At 11:30 am, we contacted a  reference as given by one of the members, and the mother and daughter were cooking empanadas. They invited us inside to sit while they continued to cook, and we were soon joined by the Husband and son. We shared a brief message about the book of Mormon, and they invited us to come back. We left with a prayer and a grin on our faces. A family of 4, a lesson shared, and a return appointment. We received our daily miracle of 4 new investigators.

Wednesday Morning, Hermana Alicea told me she had slept awful the night before. Sometimes she gets very nervous in her sleep, and dreams about teaching appointments. She talks in Spanish in her sleep, and ends up waking herself up from the talking. Some nights she does not sleep much at all, and this particular morning was harder than the others. I think we Boren's certainly know about insomnia and sleep depravation. We said a prayer and she began to cry during companionship study. I called Elder Vergara and asked if we could meet at the Church for Hermana Alicea to receive a priesthood blessing. He replied of course, and that he'd be there in twenty minutes. We walked arm in arm to the chapel, and were met by Elder Vergara, Elder Tyndall, Elder Perkins, and Elder Solomon. Elder Vergara had brought his hymnal in English to sing to her to offer some comfort. We gathered around the piano in the chapel, and he played Be Still my Soul and Abide With Me, Tis Even Tide. I rubbed Hermana Alicea's back as we sat on the pews and listened a while, singing where we remembered the words. And then these four Elders, Righteous, erect young men Gathered around my precious companion to offer her a blessing. Elder Vergara offered a beautiful blessing of comfort. The warm spirit that filled our hearts, I will never forget. I am so grateful for the priesthood in my life. I'm grateful for the power of God on Earth, for us, to lead us, guide us, and direct us. I was also amazed at the love and care and concern that emanated from these good Elders in behalf of my Companion and her welfare. God is Good.

Feeling much better, Hermana Alicea and I set out to work, contacting, studying, looking for new investigators, and cracking up laughing during our language study.

Wednesday night at 10 pm the phone rang, Caller ID reading Assistant to the President. We answered nervously, not knowing why they would be calling unless we were in trouble! Elder Milheim told Hermana Alicea and I that we would be having emergency transfers. Three sisters had received their clearance to come to the Rosario Mission and would be arriving the next day. Hermana Alicea and I would both be training, Hermana Alicea would be staying in Venado Tuerto, and I would be leaving to open a new area in Cañada de Gomez, also training. We couldn't believe it.We were stunned, heartbroken, and overwhelmed in the same moment.

I packed my suitcases in a hurry the next morning, and Hermana Alicea tidied up. Almost all of our zone met at the chapel to have a mini farewell party for me--they made this super cute card that all of them signed, with Disney princesses on the front, and had printed me a picture of our district making funny faces. It was my turn to receive a blessing of comfort. Elder Vergara offered a beautiful blessing of counsel and comfort, and then they all sang "God be With you till we meet again" while I just bawled. I can't begin to express how much I love them and miss them. They have truly become my family on the mission. Venado Tuerto is sacred ground to me, now. I will forever love that city and hope, with all my heart, to return someday. It was hard not to have any time to say goodbye to members, to Ema y Jose, to Hermana IlsePuck, to no one. But at least I got that sweet farewell from my zone :)

Hermana Alicea and I traveled to the Mission Home. We couldn't believe we were already back. Soon we met our trainees--Hermana Alicea is training a Missionary from Peru, who has already been serving 3 months in Peru. I am now Training Hermana Martinez from Honduras, who is brand spanking new from the MTC. She only has 3 weeks in the mission. I am a for real trainer this time, and I cant believe it!

We came to our area in Cañada de Gomez with 5,000 pesos to buy furniture for our apartment from the Mission Secretary. We spent the first night on sketchy mattresses in our little room, and the next day we came to know every single furniture and mattress store in this city. My goodness, there are so many life experiences I never thought I'd have on my mission! We finally have the materials we need all situated in our apartment.

Well, there's so much more to tell you. But I'll leave it at this: Pray for me. I am certainly being humbled right now, especially whitewashing while training for the first time, and opening everything up brand new. I have so much to learn. Thank you for your love, your prayers, and everything. Love you so much, family of mine.

Hermana Boren

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Working Hard at Work Worth Doing

¡Mi Querida Familia!

El arco iris va a aparecer despues del tormento.
The rainbow will appear after the storm.

I apologize if my last email seemed down and out or cloudy skied. It was a rough week, last week. But Heavenly Father always blesses us with the best things after the hard times! This past week was one of WORK and MIRACLES.

After I wrote you on Monday, our zone left to eat at Drops, perhaps the only Burger Joint in all of Venado Tuerto. It was delicous! We enjoyed talking and laughing together before leaving to the church. Every Monday we like to spend as a zone, all of us missionaries together. As a missionary, it´s kind of like the other missionaries are our temporary family. Mondays are like Sunday night tapioca time at Grandma Reesa´s house :) Sometimes we play volleyball, we take turns making foods from our respective countries, like Arroz Chaufa from Peru or Empanadas of Chile. This past Monday Hermana Alicea and I started writing a song or two on the piano. She is a fantastic pianist! She loves to make up tunes, and I love to write lyrics, so we make a good team. We have created our own version of "Have I done any Good in the World Today," and we´ve had requests from the Members at times to sing "Come thou fount" together after eating lunch or dinner at their homes. There´s something magical about music.

Tuesday and Wednesday were FULL of finding efforts! We talked to every person we encountered on the street. We had a great street side lesson with a man taking a smoke outside his sister in law´s house, with hair like the 70´s and a huge mustache. He explained that he believes in the Bible and loves God with all his heart. When we gave him a book of Mormon and explained that it is another testament of Jesus Christ, a record of the People in the Americas, he got teary and expressed that this is the best gift anyone has ever given him. I was like "WOW" walking away. I didn´t see that one coming--you just never know who needs the gospel. He´s from Buenos Aires, so I don´t know that we´ll get to teach him, but we have an appointment with him in the coming weeks. We stopped a young lady out power walking with ear buds in, and she almost glowed when we gave her a book of Mormon. She explained that no one has ever given her a book before, and was delighted with this gift and wanted to learn more. Matias was watching his Nephew play outside right before they were sitting down to Almuerzo (or lunch. The biggest meal of the day here) and was surprised when we stopped to talk to him. We offered a brief lesson that God´s priesthood power has been restored, and also gave him a book of Mormon, along with a prayer. We love to pray, in the middle of the sidewalk or at the door, with anyone who will permit us to. We include their names, specifically, in our prayers and supplicate God for help with every detail we can remember about them from what they´ve told is. It´s amazing to see the change in people´s countenances after we pray.

Anyways, almost ALL of Tuesday and Wednesday were like that. It was a great experience, lots and lots of talking to people. We call those contacts, and count them daily in this mission as well. How many people we talk to daily. Tuesday and Wednesday combined we talked to over 77 people for the first time, in addition to our other appointments. The weekly goal for the mission is to contact 80. Needless to say, we worked!

Thursday we saw a miracle. Every morning we pray for a miracle in specific, and do everything we can to work towards that miracle. Thursday we prayed in the morning to find someone to put on date for baptism. That is something we have really been struggling to do--everyone has been declining! Sure enough, in an afternoon lesson with 72 year old Lydia, Hermana Alicea offered her Baptismal invitation. No one could have said no to her bold declaration! Lydia responded with a smile and, "Bueno." We are striving to help this sweet old woman who can hardly walk to prepare for baptism for the 2nd of November.

Friday. Miracle again. We almost forgot to pray for a miracle, walking down the sidewalk to our first appointment, when I said "Hermana Alicea! We forgot to pray for a miracle!" We stopped, and she prayed. She offered a very specific prayer to find a family with a father or mother who is less active, with children and a spouse who are not a member. I thought that was interesting, more specific than normal. But only 10 minutes later, a man approached us on the street. "Are you Hermanas?" he asked. Of course we replied that we were! He said his name was Marcello, gave us his address, and told us he was a member. He asked us to visit his home when we can. We were stunned and surprised! We paused to offer another prayer of relief and gratitude for an incredible and immediate answer. But that´s not all! Later that day, we were going back to visit a street contact for a man named Eduardo. He invited us into his home to meet his wife, who then told us that she is a member, but hasn´t been to church in 15 years. Her spouse and children are not members. We were amazed! Heavenly Father had blessed us with a double whammy!

Miracles are real, this I know. Never doubt that God is listening. Never feel bad to ask him for help, to ask for him to bless you with the things you need help with or hope to see improve in your life. Never stop working. With him, we make a great team. Without him, we are nothing.

Conference was spectacular! We were blessed to watch in English in the Relief Society room with all the Yankie American Missionaries. And 4 of our Investigators came!!! It was truly incredible. God loves us. The blessings come after the storm. Never forget!

Love you dearly and will send pictures next week,
Hermana Boren

Monday, September 30, 2013

If I do not Love, I am Nothing (part 2)

My dear family,

I realize that I didn´t explain the email title I sent last week. It comes from a song I brought with me on my mission, but never took much thought to before. The lyrics are as follows:

I could travel over oceans
cross the deserts, climb the mountains
just to share your story, bring you glory
and win the souls for your
I could sing like an angel, song so humble
and so thankful for the drama and emotion
So the world would know your truth
I could give away my money and my clotes and my food
To restore those people who are poor and lost and down and out.
Oh I could succeed at all these things
Find favor with peasants and kings
But if I do not love, I am nothing

I could live a flawless life
Never cheat or steal or lie
And always speak so kindly, smile so warmly
Go about doing good
I could dedicate myself to do
What everyone else wants me to
Listen to them, compliment them
Say the things I should
I could show up every sunday
and lead the choir and gospel study
And they all might come to know me as a leader and a friend
Oh I could acheive success on earth
But success will not define my worht
And all these actions, all these worries won´t matter in the end.
Cause songs will fade to silence
And stories they will cease
Dust will settle and cover all my selflessdeeds.

So as I strive to serve you, won´t you make it clear to me
That if I do not love, I am nothing

And if I can live my live withought loving my brother
Then how can I love the one who lived his life for me
Sent to Earth from Heaven, humble servant, holy king
Come to share a story, get no glory
save my searching soul
You knew that we´d deny you
Crucify you, but nothing could stop you from living for me,
dying for me
so that I could know
Songs will fade to silence, stories they will cease
Dust will settle, covering all my selfish deeds
Your life here made it clear
For me to see
If I do not love, I am nothing.
I am nothing.

I have thought about this song over and over and over again, listening to it in the mornings while we exercise or are getting ready. And I kept wondering, isn´t giving other people charity love? Or isn´t saying nice things a way to love others? But as I keep listening, and keep studying Christ like charity and love in Preach my Gospel and in the Scriptures, I´m beginning to realize what love really means. It´s loving like Christ did--doing good for the people, not for us. Doing the good we do truly for the benefit of others, not to build up our own esteem or confidence. Its like that story of the mansion that President Monson shared in Conference a few years back. Just some food for thought. I´m learning all the time how Christ loves us, and truly helps us, as I square with my own inadequacy! I am also coming to realize, more and more, like the hymn says--God is love. Christ Jesus is the purest manifestation that God loves us. I know that Without him, I am nothing!

This week has been a trial of our faith--I´ll say that straight out! Hermana Alicea and I both love to work, and this week seemed to be swept from us!  Almost every lesson we had planned fell through. Either investigators cancelled, or no one was home. Starting with Monday, we were paired with another sister for the first 3 days in between transfers. Hermana Guevara had problems in their apartment that needed to be repaired as part of mission wide apartment inventory, and so all of Monday was spent cleaning and helping the Elders repair the door and key problems (all authorized by President Giuliani, of course). They also re-set up the plumbing system in the bathroom. Lots of singing hymns in spanish and language study as we waited and helped with what little we could at the other sisters´apartment.  We ate chocolate chip cookies and shared some homemade popcorn, popped right on the stove! Tuesday was pday (oh blessed day) and with Wednesday as transfers, we spent 3 hours or so inbetween the terminal helping the new companion of Hermana Guevara, hermana Contreras, get all of her things to the apartment and get situated. Thursday was weekly planning, which is usually about 3 or 4 hours to prepare for the rest of the week. And Friday and Saturday there was a torment of Rain! It was a total blast! We jumped in mudpuddles and took pictures of the running floods in the streets. And with our American natures, of course we went out to work, no matter the rain. But the Argentina mindset is that when there´s rain, NOBODY leaves the house unless its urgent, like the Doctor or something. Even the kids don´t go to school. As a result, not many folks wanted to listen to us either. So we spent the days walking, knocking, clapping, ringing doorbells, and trying to cheer each other up with girls camp songs and memories of home. We came up with some great alternate editions to Princess Pat. (P.S., Dad, I don´t know how I never realized this, but in `the other day I saw a bear` song, when the lyrics say `a great big tree, oh glory be` it´s glory be, not glory bee. I had thought my whole life that it was bee like the insect. I am not sure why. Well, I feel sheepish . . .) Needless to say, by the time Sunday came around, our numbers for the week were atrocious compared to the success we had previously been experiencing.

We dropped many of our investigators this week, they either told us they weren´t interested in learning any more or never are home/don´t answer our calls. We feel like we´re starting from scratch over again.

Also, Mario, our recent convert, was thrown out of his house by his father this week. His father is convinced that he has joined a cult and started raging, breaking Mario´s things, like his guitar and other possesions. Mario spent the night at the Branch President´s home, and luckily has a new apartment on the other side of town. It caused us to worry and he was really shaken up, but he´s doing better now and still leaving with every pair of missionaries in our zone to share the good word with his many friends.

This week has been a little rough. But I share this not to discourage you, but to show that hard things happen in our lives. We are presented with trials. Sometimes, things don´t go according to plan. We have to respect other people´s decisions and agency to choose as they wish, and sometimes it makes us sad. Something I learned this week is that though we don´t always have control over our circumstance, we always have control over our attitude. Though there were hard things, we also had a blast. Hermana Alicea and I LOVED the rain! I was reminded fondly of washington, and Hermana Alicea of Kirtland. We jumped in puddles . . . For lunch on Saturday, we tried to re-concoct a recipe for Niokis that one of our members shared with us, and we did a pretty great job remaking it. It was a delicious hot lunch on a cold day. We have been experimenting a lot with food, lately. I have successfully made banana bread 4 or 5 times now, trying to do mom´s recipe by memory. All of the missionaries in our zone LOVE it! Mom, I would love to have your chocolate chip cookie recipe if you could send it. And any other recipes you have time to send, especially baking ones, so I can try to remake them Argentina style with the ingrediencts we have here. Also, on October 12th, we´re doing a service project with the Primary and teaching them to make Chocolate chip cookies.

Other highlights of this week--I surprised Hermana Alicea by leaving notes with sharpie marker on her eggs in the fridge (little faces on the egg shells) and she surprised me with little notes of encouragement hidden in my preach my gospel. There was a talent show in Rama Centro 3, more northern part of Venado Tuerto, and the Elders of that ward invited us. There was a guitar, and I got to play! Hermana ALicea and I did an impromptu version of come thou fount. Music is one of our favorite ways to share the gospel with investigators.

In all, there are rainy days. But there are also delightful moments and memories made and character built through the hard times. I Know the light of Christ can shine through whatever dark time we have and lift us up, dust off our skinned knees, and help us begin again.

I love you all! Happy birthday this week, Dad!
Hermana Boren

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

If I do not love, I am Nothing

My dear family,

God is so good to me, and I don´t deserve it! I just received a call from our zone leaders, here while we´re sitting in the cyber, reading your letters. HERMANA ALICEA AND I ARE STAYING TOGETHER!!!!!!!! I cannot describe how happy my heart feels. I wish I could describe what it´s like serving with a best friend. She is darling, funny, kind, and feels like family. She makes me feel like a million bucks. Everyone should have a companion like her, I´m serious. Their mission would be a blast. I feel so at home, and how strange is that!? Being on the other side of the world and feeling so myself. I prayed, and prayed, and prayed that we would stay together. I feel like the scripture in Matthew 7, verse 11, "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" I asked a great deal this week. And I feel overwhelmed with this blessing of continued service together, what I wanted so deeply to have. President Giuliani has been so pleased with how far we´ve come together, and the miracles that have been happening in Venado Tuerto. To continue to see them, and to continue to be here--this sacred, holy ground--is a tender mercy indeed. I´ve heard about hard companions, but I´ve never had them. Every one I count as a treasured, beloved friend. I don´t know why I keep getting so blessed.

This week was a whole lot of finding. After Mario and Marcello´s miracle baptisms, we kind of felt like "What´s next?" So we have been contacting like crazy. We stop everyone we meet on the street and introduce ourselves. You meet all kinds that way, let me tell you. Dads on their way to work. Folks that haven´t showered in a while and have a really neat lorenzo-snow style beard going for them. Moms carrying toddlers with little ones holding on to their belt loops, like my mom used to have us do! I love being able to share the gospel with anyone and everyone. At first it was scary, especially in another language. But understanding, more and more, the blessings that come from the gospel--I want EVERYONE to have that. So ít makes it easier with that desire.

More finding efforts--We  have been looking through the records kept by all the past missionaries of former investigators, and visiting everyone we can. Mario has been a huge help in this, he wants us to teach all of his friends and family. He has been the one to contact them and set up appointments with us, and he´s the one giving Book of Mormons and pamphlets before we even get there. He just cracks us up, and is such an inspiration for how we should share the gospel. His friends aren´t weirded out, because they know how important this is to him. He´s lovingly bold, and that strikes their attention. Lots of teaching the Restoration this week. Lots of doors, lots of people in the streets. We´re a little tired, I´d be lying to say anythings else. But we love it.

A story I forgot to mention but think that you´ll love--We had a district meeting, in other words, the meeting we have every week with the missionaries in our immediate area. Its a time for us to receive some training from the other missionaries and talk about our investigators, and what we can do to better help them progress towards baptism. Well, this particular district meeting an investigator showed up! There were some folks working on the church to renovate the lighting, and a bypasser walked on into the church to see what we were about. His name is Gustavo. We invited him in, and he sat in on our meeting. He kept asking why we were concerned about these people, why it was important whether or not they came to church, etc. It was awesome! When it came time for the training, it was actually my turn. The lesson was from preach my gospel, about how to teach to understanding. I had cut out some pictures of chirst from the Ensign and pasted a different name of christ on the back, for each of his many names. I then pulled out a picture of my sweet cousin Benjamin Harper from my mini scrapbook, and had each of the missionaries demonstrate how they would teach Ben about Christ, and what "King, counselor, brother, savior, etc." means in Kid terms, to teach to understanding. It think it worked out just great for Gustavo, as well, to hear these sweet simple testimonies from missionaries of Peru, Chile, U.S.A, and Ecuador of the Savior. Afterwards, Hermana Alicea and I ended up teaching Gustavo in our "practices" (like the MTC) later on. It was such a neat experience. Elders Alvarez and Vergara are currently teaching him for reals, now.

Well, my time is up but my heart is full. Know that i love you deeply and will write more soon! I got your letters this week, Family, kelsey, and kano family. Thank you for your support and examples to me!

Con cariño,
Hermana Boren
Mikayla Renee!

Monday, September 16, 2013

The time of my life

Dear Family,

I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY! I´ll just start with that. I love speaking Spanish! I love working, I love seeing miracles every day, I love having best friends from countries all over the world. I love serving people, I love seeing changes come into their lives because of the doctrine of Jesus Christ. I love being a missionary. It is the hardest thing I have ever done, and I think that makes it the most worth it. Working hard at work worth doing!

First, some things about Argentina life. I do all my laundry by hand in our kitchen sink. I´m getting pro! We have a clothes line on our balcony and laundry soap next to the dish soap. It´s an adventure every week to get everything clean, in and out of the sink and on the line to dry. Some people have washing machines, but they are tiny compared to the states. no such things as dryers here, tampoco.

Another thing about Argentina--everyone has a hard time just letting goodbye be goodbye, even if you´re going to see them again in the same day. The Hermanas always give 2 or 3 besos, and the men and women alike say Ciao, Hasta Luego, or Nos Vemos multiple times. Or all of the above. The person that makes us laugh the most is Marcello, who at one point (we always count) said ciao a total of 10 times in a row, un interuppted. It´s the best, always makes us smile.

Well, so much to tell you, like always. I´m going to take an entry from my journal again,
"Sunday again. I can´t believe how quickly time truly flies, more especially when we´re having ´missionary fun´as Sister Young used to say. I love being a missionary when we´re obedient and seeing miracles.

I don´t know where to begin for certain. I´ll start by telling you about Mario. August 24th, a Saturday, Hermana Alicea and I met the Elders (Elder Vergara and Elder Alvarez) at the church for Marcello´s baptismal interview. They brought Mario B. with them and came 30 minutes early. Mario was an investigator of Elder Vergara´s and Elder Martinez in July, but he moved to the campo to work for a month. He previously had a baptismal date and everything for July 20th, but fell through when he moved. Anyways, he moved back into Venado Tuerto, but within our ward boundaries. He is 25, about 5 foot 1, and a total fireball (in a teddy bear sort of way. I wish I could describe it.). Anyways, he came on into the church with the Elders and his Yellow bicycle. I had previously asked Edler Vergara if I could have a blessing--this was the beginning of the transfer, and I was a little overwhelmed. He pulled up a chair in the Relief Society Room for me to sit in, invited us all inside, and he and Elder Alvarez laid their hands upon my head. It was a beautiful blessing, and my first priesthood blessing in Spanish. I was blessed with comfort ad blessed to bea able to speak freely, and be able to offer or render service to all who need my help. After I shook their hands in thanks, Hermana Alicea asked if she could have a blessing as well. I took quiet notes during the blessing, not knowing if she would understand and wanting to translate later if she needed me. It, too, was a beautiful blessing of comfort. Mario, our new investigator friend, watched quietly and reverently closed his eyes. After the blessings were offered, I turned to Mario and asked if he´d ever seen a priesthood blessing before. He explained with wide eyes and his fast paced Argentine accent that he hand´t. I explained a little about priesthood power, and that this power of God is what sets the church apart from any other organization. I was astounded and pleasantly surprised when he began to explain "Me encanta la historia de José Smith" and proceeded to tell me the story of hte first vision, and his testimony of it. In that moment, I truly felt a unique spirit of the reality of miracles. He expressed to us that he wants to be baptized as soon as possible, September 7th if he could, especially because it was Elder Vergara´s birthday, and he wanted to celebrate by his baptism. We asked him to pray to see if this was the right day."

Our first lesson, he expressed he felt very strongly that he should be baptized on the 7th. This gave us only 5 days to teach all of the missionary lessons before his baptismal interview (which is always at least a week before the baptism)--needless to say, we felt a little stressed. During our weekly planning session, we took it to prayer, not wanting to discount Mario´s personal revelation but feeling very much responsible for him as the Missionaries over his education. We felt very strongly that the 7th was indeed the answer. We set to work having lessons with him daily, sometimes twice daily, for the next 5 days. He did great in his interview and kept all his commitments, even though it is very hard for him to read. He reads at about a 1st or 2nd grade level, I´d guess from my Elementary Ed days before the mission. He reads the Book of Mormon every day out loud to try to improve his reading skills. The brethren in our ward reached out to come to every single lesson.

Mario´s baptism was a tremendous experience, only a week after the spiritual powerhouse of Marcello´s baptism. He came an hour early to help set up the church for his own baptism and to greet everyone that come. He also made pan casero, one of the most delicious things I´ve ever eaten, for Hermana Alicea and I as a baptism present . . .but for us, as the Missionaries. It was a beautiful experience to see him all in white, finally at his baptism, ready to enter into this covenant he wants so much.

As far as other experiences, this past week was a little weird because we had 2 trips to rosario in the same week, to visit governmental buildings and sign papers to keep our visas as well as a special conference and training from the Area 70, Elder Giovanni. Don´t worry, we got everything signed and worked out with our passports and visas. I have a visa for 1 year, and Hermana Alicea has a tourist visa for 3 months. We´re praying that her visa will continue to come through just fine every 3 months so she can stay. WE´re also praying with all our hearts that we have one more transfer together--next week is transfers, and we´re freaking out! Heads up, I´ll be writing on Tuesday, not Monday. We´re such a team. I honestly feel like she´s an appendage of family or something. We are always laughing and scheming ways to help our investigators and who we need to write a note for to lift their spirits and whatnot. It´s the best. She reminds me so much of the person I used to be and want to be again when it comes to animals, she adores every single stray dog we meet in the street and keeps bread in her pockets just to give to them. I think after my kitty Keiko died I accidentally closed a part of my heart that loves every critter that breathes. She´s helping me soften that part of me back up again.

So many miracles, so little time. Remind me to tell you a year from now! I love you all, and thank you for your prayers. Keep the faith! I read this in my personal study this morning and want to share it with all of you,

"Miracles are a part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. If Miracles cease it is because faith has ceased."

Never lose the faith. The Gospel of Jesus Christ will forever be true, and he has miracles in store for every one of us. Never underestimate the little things that mean so much and enable us to be warriors and soldiers for our God--service, obedience, reading the scriptures, and praying with earnestness of heart. I know he hears me. I know he loves me. And whats more, he does the same for every one of you. Keep the faith!

Love, forever and always and to the moon and back,
Hermana Boren

Primavera (Springtime)

My Dear Family,

Thank you for your beautiful emails! I love to hear from you and look forward to your words every week, more than you know.

First, I want to begin by asking a favor or inviting you little artists of mine--whether my brothers, cousins, or kids in the ward--to help me with something. Some of my best friends here in the mission are other missionaries, and in my District (or group of missionaries for Venado Tuerto) there are missionaries from Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Argentina, and the United States, like us. Recently there has been a strike for the mail service in Chile, and because of that, none of my Chile friends receive letters from their families or friends. I know that many of you don´t speak spanish, but luckily, that´s not important when it comes to pictures, huh. My friends Elder Vergara, Elder Alvarez, and Sister Reyes don´t receive letters, so maybe for a family night perhaps you could have a cartoon drawing party? Their addresses are the same as mine, the mission home on Blvd. Argentina. I showed them some of your drawings, Brothers of mine, and they were cracking up. I think they would love to have a picture or two from you all.

The second thing I want to say for Mom, just so you know ahead of time because I know you like to plan--when Christmas rolls around and you´d like to send a package, i just want to say that don´t worry about sending anything in a package for me like Peanut Butter or Kit Kats. I am without anything from the States, but that´s okay--I´ll have all the time in the world to eat when I get home! Instead, I am hoping you might be able to send some ties (like for men on Sundays), and maybe some simple necklaces or pictures of Christ from Deseret book. I would love to have something to give to my investigators at their baptisms, ties for the men, necklaces for the women. Everyone here is in awe of Hermana Alicea and I´s  clothing, because the clothing and resources here in Argentina are so limited and nothing has pretty print like my flower dress or a polka dot skirt. The importing and exporting issues with the government limits so many things, including the lovely church resources we have so easily and simply in the US. I have taken so many blessings for granted my whole life! Ties, even if they are from DI, are far nicer than anything there is to buy or offer here. Don´t worry about me for Christmas, letters are awesome (always), but if there´s anything I would love it would be something to give them. Another thing about packages--don´t mark that the contents are worth anything more than 25$, otherwise when they come to Argentina.

I haven´t received a package yet, mom, but I did get letters from you and Rachelle and Casey last week. We have a trip to Rosario this week, and I´ll find out then if I got anything from Sister Holiday. I´m touched that she sent something! And I loved hearing about the Schulthies family with McKenna Miller in New York. It is such a gift to wear this black name tag, and what a joy for them to be able to see her. I love you, Hermana Miller! I can´t wait to talk in Spanish with you in a year!

 My goodness, I love hearing about home. Our ward family is fantastic. All of you good youth, keep strong. Keep preparing for missions. Keep the faith! We have a great work to do as missionaries.

I´ve got to start by telling you that in Argentina, everything is eaten with Mayonaise and bread. Every table, every meal. I don´t know why, still trying to figure it out, especially how all the people here are so skinny when the food is pasta, bread, chocolate, and mayonaise. I want to start telling you a fun fact for every week about this place out of time I´m blessed to serve in.

I don´t have much time today, so I´ll just tell you that God is Good. We had another baptism yesterday, our wonderful, miracle friend Mario. He was a reference from the Elders, they taught him before us, but he moved away to work for a month and returned to live in our ward. He wanted baptism so badly--he was baptized 2 weeks to the day after we met him. He is such a fun loving, goofy guy with an accent so hard to understand. I love it. Our ward has been so supportive of these two baptisms two weeks in a row, helping us invite people to attend, getting the font ready, lessons with members. Hermana Alicea and I are so scared to be split up next transfer, we´ve been seeing such success and such love and support in our little rama. The spanish has been coming miraculously, thank you for your prayers. Members who have known me my whole time here, and Hermana Alicea as well, keep asking us what we´re doing to learn so quickly. God is good, and he delights to bless those that serve him. Any doubt, any desire, you can ask him. I promise! He loves to answer our prayers.

That´s all I have today--milagros, milagros, y mas milagros.

I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people.
And what a joy it is!

love, forever and always,
Hermana Boren

Yo se que vive mi Señor.