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