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