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.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Can a person die from happiness?

My sweet family,

Oh my goodness. You must be praying really hard or something, because this week has been one of incredible miracles and some of the sweetest, tender mercies of my mission. Thank you for all your love and support.

I must first begin with a very important discovery as a result of my personal study this week--I FOUND THE PETER PAN SCRIPTURE! Moses 6 verse 55. "Even so when they begin to grow up, sin conceiveith in their hearts, and they taste the bitter, that they may know to prize the good." Peter doesn´t want to grow because he doesn´t want to sin . . . if we´re looking at things from a gospel perspective.  Also, this one´s for you Casey H.--I FOUND THE NEWSIE SCRIPTURE as well! Alma 34,31.  I´ll leave you to read it, but let´s just say that Now is the time to seize the day. I love finding Gospel connections to things. It reminds me of my time tracting in Wollochet with Sister young--"How is the gospel related to Ferris Buhler?" We would play that game some days just for fun.

Okay, that note aside (I just had to share it, what can I say)  I´ll begin to share my week by typing straight from my journal.

"Time flies and the days pass by in flashes of a moment. Today was a beautiful Wednesday, Hermana Alicea and I rose at 3:30 am and took a remis to the terminal for Rosario. We met Elder Butler, Elder Cordell, Elder Vergara, Elder Alvarez, and Elder Toledo there. SLEEP. We slept all the way, in our posh scushy collectivo seats. I don´t mind the colletivo seats at all, actually. It´s relazing to look out the window while awake, and to recline while asleep.

Rosario--a special training meeting for all the new missionaries and trainers. It was an absolute joy to see Hermana Whitaker, Hermana Van Wagnen, Elder Martin, Elder Higginson, Elder Topham, and Elder Hill. We were only missing Hermana Telfer. We felt like little kids, giggling and chatting and catching up on how everyone´s first weeks had gone. I was so uplifted and emboldened in seeing them! Like a little branch of District family that will always be dear to my heart.

The training was great. We learned about Baptismal records, how to keep them and where to send them and what questions to ask. I was very grateful for this, seeing as Marcelo´s baptism is this Saturday. After this training in the chapel, we broke off into smaller groups. We new folks had a session with President Giuliani. He caringly asked how we were doing, and what struggles we face in our first week. Some new misisonaries--including one sweet, young Elder from Brazil--expressed their intimidation for contacting (tracting). I expressed my concern for how to use the afternoon hours during the time of the siesta effectively--President explained that fixed appointments with investigators is the best option--preferably not knocking doors. . . . I was so grateful for president Giuliani and his love and patience with us through our newbie questions, and wanting so much to hear our thoughts. I love how President Giuliani is teaching me ever more about Father in Heaven. He listens with such love, knowing the answers and has so much experience. Yet he always listens so patiently, emanating with sincerity and wisdom. He knows how hard this is for us--what changes we undergo, hardships we face. The awful things we have to see sometimes, amongst the world. And he loves us for the good we do, and sees such potential for who we can become.

After our meetings with him, we had one last meeting with everyone again in the chapel. The theme was obedience, and the importance thereof in everything we do. When we follow what we´re asked to do, we will see success in our missionas and have the protection of God.

Pictures! PIctures with everyone from our beloved MTC 41B district. chatting. Catching up on everything. Spanish--oh so neat to talk so easily in Spanish! I love them so much!

Afterwards we split back into our zones. We voted on where to go for lunch, and ended up opting for a chinese joint. The funny thing though . . . there was hardly any chinese food! An eggroll or two and some fried rice, but other than that . . . noquis, empanadas, milanesas, papas. Argentina food OTRA VEZ! I just giggled to myself. It was fun to talk with the Elders from chile and the states.

While we waited in the terminal for our collectivo, we decided to whip out our hymnals and sing a few. The acoustics were amazing, my goodness! Our voices reached into the echoey, spacious ceiling of skylights above us. A few fellow terminal waiters listened and smiled. Live music isn´t very common here, and rarer still are voices on key. I don´t know why, but singing isn´t as natural here for folks. I loved the loving stares of a little rubia girl and her mother, their rare blue eyes watching with soft smiles. It was a marvelous moment to realize we were sharing the gospel with them through song.

Collectivo ride--I thrived on the peace of the hum of the bus, the quiet, and the time to finally read my letters from home. I didn´t have any letters, physically, before this point during my time in Argentina. From Rachelle--3 pages of beautiful words, her first summer as a married woman in her new first apartment with Reid. It was so wonderful to hear from my precious friend. From Casey--near 20 pages! I loved it! A detailed account of her a capella tour trip to New York. Her detailed narrative of this marvelous adventure she had seeing NEWSIES on broadway and passing taxis and singin in Carnegie Hall. I loved it, every precious word from my cousin. My sister, more like it. I can´t wait to sing with her again. I can´t believe the beautiful woman she´s becoming so quickly, the firm testimony she holds in her heart, the beautiful soul she is.

From my brothers Tyler, Jordan, and Corey--drawings that made me laugh and sigh like I always do when they crack me up. Words of love, support, and the mischief and adventures they´re causing at home. What fine young men they´re becoming. From mom--a lovely little note and a bracelet from Lake Powell! It´s actually really cool, it has a mini dream catcher woven in the middle. She titled the envelope "Sweet dreams" appropriately.

A piece of home, so perfect and so needed in that moment. As I looked out the window at the flat Argentina Landscape, with it´s little homes made of brick and cement, and dirt rising up in the racing clouds next to the bus--I thought of them. I thought of this adventure we´re having, I´m having wiht Hermana Alicea, and it made me smile. I can´t wait to share it in stories to my family, my children, my grandchildren--forever. I´m striving to live it and serve it right. I missed my family, as I always do, but as I missed them I did so with such joy. I love them! And I have miles to go before I sleep, to quote Robert Frost, my favorite poet. I know my time and service here will only make our time later all the sweeter. God always does that. He accepts what simple things I bring and sanctifies my offering.

That night, cena con la familia Ermácora. Riquisimo. Como siempre.

The next day, Jueves. Thursday. Hermana Alicea and I had a 5 hour weekly planning session. We had a lot to plan, you know! Between Marcellos baptism and all our investigators, we wanted to make sure we got it right. One of the Goals we made was to never speak in English, to help us both improve. Castellano only.

After planning, we left for contacting. And you know, we knocked on this door. A young fellow with curly dark hair asked if we speak English upon hearing our accent. When we explained that we for sure do, a lesson ensued completely in English, with this 19 year old Jovencito who teaches English at a local school. It was one of those moments when you know God has a sense of humor. We had a fantastic lesson with him on the front doorstep, talking about the precious truths of the Gospel in our own tongue. It was a fun moment to feel like a stateside sister again, with Sister Alicea. His name is Federico, but asked us to call him Fred. We´ll be going back this week to give him the only copy of the Book of Mormon in english I have, besides my own set of scriptures. I brought it with me from Washington with the intention of finding someone in the Alabama airport to give it to, but didn´t have the chance. I´ve been marking it with questions of the soul from preach my gospel, and how the BOM answers those questions. It´s all ready, set to go to give to Fred this week. Tender mercies.

Saturday was spectacular. We had 3 lessons with investigators with members present, and had Marcello´s baptism at 7 pm. Hermana Alicea and I went early to set up and make sure everything was perfect and good to go. So many people came! It was miraculous! All the Elders and Sisters from our Zone attended, and brought with them many investigators, including an entire family! We had tremendous support from our little Branch. Probably 70 people attended, which is a big deal when you take into consideration that sacrament meeting usually has 50 people or so each week. We asked Marcello the week before which hymns he wanted to sing for his baptism, he chose I am a Child of God and the Lord is my Light. Hermana Alicea played the piano. All of the Brethren who have been such fellowship to Marcello played some part in participating in his baptism. Hermano Rafael Bolaño gave the talk on Baptism, Hermano Eduardo Ermácora gave the talk on the Gift of the Holy Ghost, Hermano Daniel Allasia baptized marcello, and Presidente Antuña gave a brief testimony and welcome after the ordinance. The sweetest moments were when Marcello and Hermano Allasia gave each other a huge, wet hug in the baptismal font, and when Marcello himself gave his testimony before the baptism concluded. He looked to us, and said in Spanish, "This all started with the Hermanas, preaching the word--with that other little Mexicana Hermana, at first." He was glowing, and expressed how God touched his heart and allowed him to open up to this beautiful message of the restored Gospel. It was tremendous to see this man and the changes he made in his life, from start to finish with hearing the word and entering the waters of baptism. Magnificent, truly. Hermana Alicea and I also offered a hymnal duet, Descansa Mi Alma, (Be still my soul), A capella.

The next day was Marcello´s confirmation. Another Miraculous attendance at church, of 75 souls, including 4 investigators! It was also fast and testimony meeting. Marcello walked in wearing a suit and tie, the most spiffy I´ve ever seen him. Before, it was jeans and a polo shirt. The spirit and calm of the meeting was incredible. Hermana Alicea and I sat with Hermana Ilse Puck, Jose & Emma, 10 year old Valentino Allasia, and our miracle investigator Mario, who is also to be baptized this coming Saturday.

The Relief Soceity lesson was on Missionary Work, given by lovely Victoria Ermácora, who just returned from her mission in Bahia Blanca (She knows Paul Stott!!! How is Paul? Is he back from his mission too, along With Kaz and the rest of my Sunday school gang?) and asked the sisters to please help us by giving references. We came out with 17 new references to visit this week. If you know anything about missionary work, this is the stuff miracle is made of. We´re lucky to get 3 referalls in a week. We have our work cut out for us, but we couldn´t be more excited.

When it came time to submit our numbers for the week, we ended up having 8 lessons with members, 7 other lessons, 1 baptized, 1 confirmed, 2 new investigators, and those 17 received references. It was an awesome week.  We even got a call from the Assistents to the president last night congratulating us on our work, and telling us that we´re leading the zone. Our goal for this week? To exceed the standards (goals) the mission president has set as a standard for the mission for each companionship. 12 lessons with members, 1 baptized and confirmed, 10 other lessons, 14 new investigators, 6 received and 6 contacted, 80 contacts. Bring it on! We´re so excited!

I know that miracles are possible with God on our side. I love him, I´m grateful that he´s helping two little rubia jenkies who are so new but want to be obedient, see miracles around us. God is good, all the time.

I love you all with all of my heart, but know always that God loves you more and perfectly--and that´s the important thing.

Love forever,
Hermana Boren