Friday, August 30, 2013

Milagros, Milagros, y Mas Milagros

I love to see your pictures. My, how each of you have grown! Boys, just look at you! You are growing so fast, even if you don´t believe me. What a fantastic, good lookin group of people we have. Loved reading about your Sunday evening at Grandma´s house and seeing TBOW, that cute kitty. I can´t watch any videos not church authorized on my mission, so unfortunately I couldn´t watch your video of him or JP and Ty´s mission impossible video. But you´d better believe we´re going to have a giant sleepover watching those videos you´re making, boys, after my mission!

What a fantastic week in Venado Tuerto, Argentina. I love this place. It is amazing how quickly the places you serve feel like holy ground when serving as a missionary, through the personal Gethsemanes we each experience, and the beautiful triumphs like the morning of resurrection. There are no words to describe the kind of emotional roller coaster we feel. But it suffices to say that it´s beautiful to see how much God´s enabled me to become, and my companions as well, and especially our investigators. God is good.

Marcello´s baptism is this Saturday, at 7 pm. We are so excited for him! Our little branch has reached out in such fellowship to him. He´s a tracting miracle, it´s the truth. After Hermana Ferraez and I met him and invited him to church, he came of his own volition, and has kept coming ever since. Nearly every lesson we have with him has been with a member present, which makes all the difference. He has been attending every elders quorum activity and has even started making visits with members to less active members and the sick or needy. It´s amazing to see how prepared he´s been, muchly do to his own testimony of the Savior and desire to serve others. Elder Vergara, our district leader, came out of Marcello´s baptismal interview just GLOWING. He expressed to us that never in his time serving as a missionary has he met someone so prepared for baptism. I feel privileged to know Marcello! He has been such a delight to teach, so patient with Hermana Alicea and I and our faults with the language. He always asks questions to better understand. Needless to say, we are excited for him and his baptism. Each one of the brothers in our ward that have become close friends with him--Presidente Antuña, Hermano Bolaño, Hermano Ermácora, and Hermano Allasia--will be helping in some way at the baptism, whether offering a prayer, performing the baptism ordinance, or giving a talk. THIS is missionary work. With members as friends to our investigators, we don´t even pick anyone up on the way to church. The members pick them up and accompany them. It´s the best!

This week we had two lessons with Carolina Sosa. Monday, Hermana Allasia accompanied us as we explained about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, especially emphasizing the importance of baptism. She expressed that she wants this peace, this peace she feels with us, always. I expressed to her that it is possible through the gift of the Holy Spirit, given by that proper Priesthood authority, after our covenant of Baptism. We set an appointment to come back Thursday morning.

We planned to teach the word of wisdom to Carolina, but during my studies as I prepared early on Thursday, I felt a strong spiritual impression that we should not teach the word of wisdom, but the law of chastity. I was nervous to follow this impression, knowing full well that Carolina is not married to Gaston--they have been cohabitating for about 13 years now. I don´t know the vocabulary to teach this lesson very well, and especially didn´t feel qualified, but I expressed this feeling to Hermana Alicea, and we both agreed to follow it. When we arrived at Carolina´s home early Thursday, she welcomed us in to sit at the table--and there sat a bottle of wine, half drunk. She put it aside and sat down eagerly to hear our lesson. We began by reading Ether 3--the chapter we had asked her to read in our last lesson, but she hadn´t had time. After reading the chapter I expressed the importance of the Brother of Jared, and his offering of the stones to the lord, for the Lord to touch them and make them light. I asked her what stones she has in her life, the things she is doing and wants the Lord to consecrate and bless. She expressed that her family is all she has desires for, her three beautiful children. It was a perfect segue into the law of Chastity. We read the pamphlet (thank heavens for its simple terms!) and the scriptures therein. I invited her to live the law of Chastity. She explained that she has already been faithful to Gaston, what more did she need to do? I expressed that Marriage is ordained of God, and this faithfulness she´s developed will be perfect in keeping the law of chastity, once she is married legally. She got a shy smile on her face, like a little girl thinking about a princess wedding. She said she would pray about it and talk to Gaston. We´re awaiting her answer, but I´m so grateful for that spiritual impression. With the wine on the table, I just don´t think it would have been wise to teach the word of wisdom in that moment.

Heavenly Father Speaks to us, so individually, so perfectly. I am so grateful for the spiritual impressions that guide me and Hermana Alicea during this time in Venado Tuerto.

Our district is the best--every one of the Elders is so encouraging to us both as we work our way through learning more in Castellano and serving to the best of our ability. I love being a missionary! I love learning a language, and I love seeing people´s lives change for the better as they come to know about Jesus Christ and strive to follow him. This gospel is real! I see it in action every day, and I cannot deny it.

We have another investigator, José, whose girlfriend Emma is a member of the Church. She is just coming back into activity, and Jose has such an immense desire to learn. He is about 40, and one of the kindest people I´ve ever met. He asked us in a lesson about the plan of Salvation this week, "If baptism is important to enter the kingdom of God, what do I need to do to be baptized?" I could have melted, I was so warm inside. That´s a missionary´s dream sentence, right there. We explained that we´ll act as guides to help him come to know more about Jesus Christ and prepare for Baptism. He has come to church once, but couldn´t yesterday because he´s very sick. He and Emma don´t have much, and he struggles to read because his eyes are about as blind as mine without glasses. Hermana Ilse Puck, one of my favorite people in the world, (I need to tell you all about her sometime) is taking him this week to get his eyes checked and help him get some glasses. Any kind of medical treatment in Argentina is extremely expensive, including glasses. Hermana Ilse Puck is a saint. I am so excited for Emma y José.

God loves us, He lives. He is shaping me and helping me become so much more than I ever dreamed for myself. I love my Father in Heaven for seeing in me something far grander than I see. Serving a mission is making me more compassionate, more patient, less quick to judge, more willing to serve, bolder in my testimony, more able to laugh and to help others laugh. I´m learning how to budget, how to cook foreign foods, how to conquer any fear of saying blunders or talking on the phone. And so much more. I thought serving a mission was a chance for me to save souls, but in reality, I´m only beginning to realize how Christ is Saving mine.

For any of you, my dear friends and family, experiencing trials--(pretty sure that´s all of us, in one way or another)--I´d encourage you to read 1 Peter chapter 1. Trials by fire are more precious than Gold to our God.

Love, forever and always and THIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIS much,
Hermana Boren

Friday, August 23, 2013

Because I Have Been Given Much

Dearest Family,

Hello there! There comes a line from Finding Nemo, "Watch while Squirt flies solo . . . " Well, this week two squirts (Hermana Alicea and I) flew Solo, and I think we did pretty good! We´re certainly figuring things out as we go, but We´re practicing spanish as much as we can and teaching and preaching and working as missionaries do. The key to success in a mission, I believe, is obedience. Success cannot be measured the same between missions and missionaries the same, or measured by numbers of baptisms. Never. But we are filled with the spirit and doing our very best to obey the rules in the white missionary handbook and teach the best we know how while studying Preach My Gospel, asking for help from the members, and that´s all we can do. The members have really reached out--oh, my goodness! I think they´re worried about the two little yankies who are just starting to learn the language and culture in their country. All the members ask all the time if we have enough food, if they can accompany us to lessons, if we´re safe, if we´re sick and if so do we need anything, etc. It´s the best! We had 22 lessons total in a matter of 6 days and 7 new investigators, with 4 on date for baptism. All is well.

Hermana Alicea is one of the bravest, most incredible people I have ever met. She has a natural humor that transcends languages. This week during contacting she started taking the lead at doors without me prompting her to, and just starts testifying from her heart. "Hola, somos misioneras de la Iglesia de JesuCristo, y estamos compartiendo un mensaje con las familias. Cree en Dios?" Wow. She´s an angel. All the missionaries crack up at her funny faces, and investigators are uplifted by her bold testimony. It certainly isn´t easy for both of us, the blind leading the blind in learning the language. But that´s the only thing holding her back right now. She is obedient, hard working, and spiritually in tune. Yesterday she played the piano for our small branch, and began making her own arrangements as prelude music. 7 or 8 primary children gathered around to watch her fingers fly, in amazement. It was a precious moment. We especially love to sing together--every morning during personal study, we sing 2 or 3 hymns instead of just one. And during language study, we sing 2 or 3 more! (All in Spanish, don´t you worry). I´m always Soprano, and she alto.

We had 2 investigators at church yesterday, and a whole lot of less actives. The best part is that we didn´t accompany either of them. The members in our little branch accompanied them to church. Marcello is doing great, and is reading not only the Book of Mormon, but Gospel Principles, and the Lorenzo Snow Manual. WOW! We´re teaching several others and it is so rewarding to be able to testify of the things I know to be true with all my heart. There is a God. He loves us. He has a plan far greater for us than anything we can imagine. Keeping the commandments brings happiness. How I love this gospel.

More to come next week, my time is short. Know that God is real, he loves us, he answers our prayers.
Con mucho amor,
Hermana Boren

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

I Can Do All Things Through Christ Which Strengtheneth Me

My Querida Familia y Amigos Mios,

Thank you kindly for your emails. I never tire of them. Send them whenever you can and with whichever details from home you can include--I love to hear from you! I pray for you ever day and think of you all the time. To my beloved friends in the Wollochet Ward in Washington, yourselves included! I thank Heavenly Father every day for the time I had to be with you. My service here is only possible because of what I learned while in the Gig Harbor Ward.

This week has been one of the best in my mission. Hermana Ferraez and Hermana Alicea both have quite the sense of humor, and between the both of them, I spent every moment between lessons busting up into laughter at their chistes (jokes). It is amazing to see them cracking up and getting to know each other even with a language barrier. I spent much of the time translating, to be sure. But it was delightful. The Zone Leaders brought another matres to accomidate a third sister.

Our investigators--Marcello. Marcello is 45, divorced, with 2 grown up daughters. He lives with his parents. It is rare for people here of any kind to live alone, they almost always live with their family--a distant cousin, a grandpa, a niece, a sister. Families never seem to part. Some families, like our investigator Marta, have their 11 grown up kids living on the same street as them in the connected walls of the little Argentine street Houses. Anyways, Marcello was a pastor for over 30 years to the Evangelical church. But as of 5 months ago, has had a little bit of a beef with God and with the people of his church, and so left it. We met him contacting--yup, that clapping thing, kinda like tracting--and he showed up to church the next Sunday! It was a miracle. Since, we´ve had a great member lesson with him and Hermano Allasia, He attended the Elders Quorum Activity Saturday where they cooked and ate Choripan (it´s like a hotdog, except with bratwurst kind of meet instead of a polish dog), and came to church again this past sunday. Hermana Ferraez and I invited him to be baptized on August 31st, and he said that if he gets an answer in the affirmative through prayer, he will be baptized. I commited him to read Nephi 31, and expressed to him that he would receive his answer. He has been keeping every commitment. We have a lot of hope for him!

Carolina. Carolina is living with Gaston, her boyfriend as of 12 years. They have 3 beautiful children. A plague of Argentina are people co-habitating. The government pays unmarried mothers a sum every year for each child they have, and, as a result, many people live ´juntada.´She has felt such a lack of peace in her life and immediately invited us to come back to her home when we met her contacting (yup, more clapping!). She is absolutely beautiful, and used to be a professional ballerina. She, to me, looks like and has mannerisms just like Noelle C., but in an Argentine way--Love you Noelle! She has loved reading the missionary pamphlets and keeps her commitments in reading the Book of Mormon. Right now, she´s struggling with feeling so alone in raising her 3 kids. Gaston supports their family financially, but works all the time, and when he´s home, he´s either sleeping or socializing. When reading the family proclamation, Carolina told us this plan is her dream. She wants this kind of home, and asked how she could find it. We expressed that God has a Plan for families to be forever. Two wonderful sisters in the branch have accompanied us on 2 different occasions and testified of the reality of eternal families. This past week, Hna. Ferraez felt impressed to sing Families Can Be Together Forever at the end of our lesson. Tears began to stream down Carolina´s cheeks. She accepted our invitation to baptism, but has to get married before she can enter the waters of baptism. Pray for her!

Javier--22 years old, a hipster in and of his own right. He weaves dream catchers and has them hanging all over his apartment. We met him contacting and he told us we are always welcome to come to his home and teach him about the gospel (he also asked if I was from Brazil?). We had a great Restoration lesson with him, and a member named Thomas A., who just returned from his mission in Dallas, Texas.

So many more . .. I wish I had the time to tell you!

Two final things. Yesterday morning We took a taxi to the Terminal, with Hermana Ferraez´ suitcases in tow. Hermana Ilse P. met us at the terminal and brought her hymnbook, and before I knew it the bags were packed on the Bus and all the missionaries (our zone leaders, district leader, etc.) and ourselves were singing ´Para Siempre Dios Este Con Vos,´or ´God Be With You Till We Meet Again.´ I held it together to the final verse, and then tears began to stream freely from my cheeks. Hermana Ferraez Gave me a sweet, tight, side hug while I warbled my way through the last verse with unreserved tears. I have never cried that much yet on my mission! She told me everything will be okay. I know it will be, the tears were for how much I´ll miss her. How do you put into words your feelings for a friend who has been there for you when you felt like a little kid on the first day of kindergarten? She was my best friend through the hardest 6 weeks of  my life, learning a foreign tongue, learning to live and behave appropriately in an entirely new culture, how to ride the bus, how to budget with pesos, how to teach, where not to travel at night to stay safe, how to be patient with folks telling us that we´re preaching falsely, how to stand as a Witness of God in all things and at all times(she taught a lesson to a woman at the peluqueria, or salon, while she got her hair cut on pday). I´m far more now than I was 6 weeks ago. And I don´t know, for certain, when I´ll see her again. She´s on her way home now, at the end of her mission, to her home in Yucatan, Mexico. My goodness, I sure miss her!

I am so grateful for each and ever companion Heavenly Father has given me on my mission. Hermana Alicea, Hermana Telfer, Hermana Café (Sister Brown,) Hermana Joven (Sister Young), Hermana Ferraez, and Hermana Alicea over again--each sister has been just that, a sister to me. I love you, comps! God never leaves us alone. He always gives us a best friend to have for always as a Missionary, for which I am so grateful. And he gives us our families for forever. Amazing Grace. I am only beginning to realize how infinitely incredible each Child of God is. If only everyone would realize it! We are capable of so much! I am thankful for my family, friends, and companions for seeing things in me I didn´t think were there, and helping me achieve talents I never knew possible.

Finally, I have to express a truth I´ve come to this week and am striving to put into practice. We never need to be afraid of anything. I realized this week as I struggled to overcome feelings of inadequacy or unsurety in this change for this coming transfer, and bidding adieu to my entrenadora--never need we be afraid. When I get to be afraid of a new situation--teaching a lesson I´m less familiar with, or calling someone on the phone (without context of facial expressions or surroundings its alot harder to understand Castellano and it freaks me out!), I stop myself and think about it. Firstly, why am I afraid? Second, what can I do about it? Third, I tell myself everything´s going to be okay no matter how it turns out. And then I act. And you know what, as long as we´re doing our best, that´s all we can do. Ether 12,27. God gives us weaknesses that we may be humble. And Christ suffered all things so that we don´t have to. Don´t worry, be happy. Everything will be okay!

Love you all, and hugs from the bottom half of the world!
Hermana Boren

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Impossible

My dear family,
Thank you so much for your beautiful email. My goodness, I love to hear about home and see the pictures of mirror lake. What a wonderful tradition. That campsite is sacred ground to me. The family is ordained of God, and I know our family has grown so close and shared so many experiences together in that beautiful piece of Heaven.

My title today explains this past week, and my life to come in the next 7. Let me preface my email with the thought that With God, nothing shall be made impossible. I know that to be true. I know that with him, we call do all things (just see philippians).

This past week has been one filled with miracle lessons. Our investigators are progressing, especially Carolina Sosa. We had a marvelous lesson with her Tuesday about the priesthood, the power of God. She was overcome with emotion as we talk about this sacred truth. She offered the most beautiful prayer, offered as a sincere conversation filled with ´buenos´y ´nada mas, padre.´It was beautiful to see her begin to talk to God. She has been reading the book of Mormon consistently and is coming to church this Sunday. I adore her!

Jessica and Isabel, Javier, Marcello, and so many others have been finding and teaching miracles this week.

The most important thing I have to tell you in my limited time, is that I received a phonecall from Elder Yarro, assisant to the president, this past Thursday morning. He informed me that that day, 6 sisters from the United States would be flying into our mission. For the next 10 days til the end of the transfer, I would be in a trio with one of these new sisters and Hermana Ferraez. And thereafter, I would be training this same sister for the coming transfer.

Feelings overwhelmed my heart upon this news. I Have only been in this mission for a month, and in teh field for 5! Trainer, already? Training in Argentina is different, because near every missionary that comes here has already been serving in another mission while waiting for a visa. It{s not the same as training right off the bat, but there's much to adjust to as far as the culture goes. Anyways, with this news, I immediately said a prayer. Hermana Ferraez just smiled and gave me the biggest hug and smile. She told me she saw this coming, and that I would be fine.

The next day, we had to drop all our plans. We got up at 4 am, got ready for the day, and took a taxi to the terminal. From there, we took the bus to Rosario, about 3 hours. And from the terminal we took another bus through Rosario, hopped off at a street corner with a verduleria (vegetable market), and walked to the mission home. My heart was filled with so many thoughts, daydreams, as I looked into the clear blue Rosario sky, with the cobblestone streets and the victorian homes slathered in ivy.

Upon entering the gates of the tall, brown brick yard of the mission home, I was greeted by the sound of three voices shouting "Hermana Boren!" To my surprise and delight, I was slammed with the tightest group hug of my life. From the mission office, behind the mission home, came flying Hermana Alicea, Hermana Telfer, and Hermana VanWagnen--my sweet friends from my district in the MTC. 3 of the 6 sisters. I felt, in that moment, that I was surely to be companions again with one of them. It was one of the tenderest moments of my mission thus far.

Hermana Ferraez and I were asked to enter the mission home for a brief meeting. Guess who they asked to play the pump organ for the opening song, Count your many blessings? You guessed it, me.  I have never played organ in my life, let alone pump organ! But with God, nothing is impossible. I confidently walked to the front of the mission home parlor and set to work pumping my feet on the pedals, and doing my best to connect the notes so they don't sound choppy while the rest sang in spanish. It was a blast!

After a brief training, we were asked to go to the mission garage to greet our new companions. I felt such anticipation as they announced whom would be training whom. They called my name to the front of the room, and the name they called next . . . Hermana Alicea! My companion from the MTC! WOW! I couldn't believe it, I gave her the tightest squeeze and we both laughed in cries of delight and surprise.

Come to find out later, President Giuliani told me later he had no idea that she'd been my companion in the MTC. He didn't know this, either, when he called me to be a trainer.

Later, many of the missionaries that work int he office--Assistants to the Preisident, Financial missionaries, etc. Kept asking me, Werent you here just last transfer? Wait, you've only been in the field a month!' I just smiled, what do you say to that? President called me to do this. I'm not going to say no.

Hermana Alicea served in the Kirtland, Ohio mission, English speaking, for 4 months after our time in the MTC. I spoke only english (except at Blue Agave Restaurant and to random gardners) in Washington, and have but a month here. We are two rubias in Venado Tuerto, learning Castillano along our proselyting, missionary teaching way. In all honesty, to everyone here--the other missioaries, ward members, etc.--this has never been done before. Am I a little nervous? I'd be lying to say no. But instead of shying away, I take confidence in my God. He has brought me this far on my mission, through things I didn't think I could do. Instead, I'm facing this new challenge ahead with a broad smile and the words of Kuzco in Emperor's new groove--'Sharp rocks at the bottom? Bring it on.' Heavenly Father calls the weak to do his work, and makes it possible with his hand and help. I am so grateful at this moment to have Hermana Ferraez these first 10 days, teaching me to take the lead in lessons and learn the streets of Argentina. In the same moment, I know I couldn't do this without anyone besides Hermana Alicea. She is my sister in zion, and I am delighted beyond words to be reunited with her!

I love you all. God is good. His miracles are all around us, all we must do is be obedient, and give him a good thank you in our prayers every night. He loves us. HE loved us enough to send his only begotten son to atone and die and rise again, that we may have life eternal! How beautiful a truth.

Remember that with God, nothing shall be impossible. I love you! Stay firm in the faith!

Hermana Boren
Mickey Moo
Mikayla Renee
Missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints