Monday, May 26, 2014

For Unto Us a Child is Born

Dearest Family,

Austin James, remember that one Christmas we were driving through Provo Canyon, Dad was Driving us someplace--I think we were on our way to take the "Polar Express" (Heber Creeper) and Handel's Messiah came on the Radio. "For Unto Us a Child is Born . . . Unto Us . . . a son is given  . . . " You and I had a miniature obsession with that song and used to echo call it back and forth to each other while we were cleaning around the house. This week I was thinking of you as I was in Rosario for Tramites, or Visa Paperwork. Elder Hill, from my MTC district, is the current Mission secretary and runs all of the Passport Visa Paperwork stuff. He was driving, and Elder Topham and Elder Higginson (also from my MTC district) were in our group of 7 that had Tramites that day. I think all of us Yankies are feeling a little bit of the Christmas Spirit with how cold the weather is turning here in the middle of May, and Elder Hill put "Handel's Messiah" in the CD player of the Mission Van. I missed your voice echoing it back to me, Austin. But the Tramites were quite an adventure, Driving in Argentina is like the Indiana Jones ride and a part of me never stops praying until we are safely parked again. We had to take our fingerprints all over again (they had us clean our hands from the ink afterwards with an oobleck-looking gritty putty) and wait 5 hours in a line for migrations. The 4 of us had plenty of time to catch up, we recounted all of our crazy stories together from the MTC and the miracles we've seen since then.  Hermana Shotwell, who has been in the field 5 weeks, was my travel buddy during this time (she is also from the Zona Paraná, we had to leave our companions behind to go to Rosario) and I loved getting to know her. She was a Cheerleader in High School and is from Saint George, and is SO CHRISTLIKE. It is such a neat privilege to come to know so many young people who love the Lord.

What a fantastic week, La Verdad! I've been enjoying my miniature calling as the Choir Director and I'm coming to realize that no matter what happens to us or what calling he extends to us, Heavenly Father gives us the capacity to do it. The Ward members are so excited, I don't know that they've had a choir in a real long time. Pray for us! Stake Conference is the 8th of June and Presidente Giuliani will be listening! We hope to invite the Spirit as we sing "Loor al Profeta" (Praise to the Man.)

Funny stories--I already mentioned this at the beginning of my mission, but the men here cat call at the women sometimes. At first it scared me because I couldnt understand what they were saying,  but now that I can understand it's just downright funny. The best recent cat call has been "SHAKIRA!" LIke the Pop singer of "WakaWaka".  Hermana Rasband and I just started cracking up this past Monday. Que Cosas Che.

Recent Convert Eric Martinez´ 19 Year old sister Brenda began meeting with us this past week. She didn't even hesitate to accept a baptismal date, and she's preparing to enter the waters of baptism the 14th of June. She is so shy and soft spoken, just like Eric, but so sincere. Eric had her all prepared, he already told her about Joseph Smith and the first vision and they had read in the Book of Mormon together and Everything. She explained to us that she has seen a real difference in Eric since his baptism and she wants the same for her life. She also mentioned that when they read the Book of Mormon together as a family, they are far more united and have much more peace and love in their home. We are hoping to teach Eric's 15 year old Brother Gaston and his Mom, Rosa, soon.

We've also had all kinds of Tracting miracles this past week! We have Investigators just "coming out of the woodwork" as Elder Christensen says in the District. We have more than 17 investigators right now and are finding new ones almost every day. We are supplicating the Lord for help to be able to teach all of them and to have discernment to know whom we should focus on, whom is prepared to make covenants with him, and if all of them are prepared, we hope to know where to find time to teach them with our crazy schedules between trips to training meetings and divisions with the Sisters. It is a delight to have so many people eager to listen to the Message of the Restoration and with desires to change their lives. A broken heart and a contrite spirit are truly essential to change and come unto Christ.

I have a true testimony that God knows us individually. This past Saturday I was having a really off day. I was down about my imperfections and my incapacity to help everyone that I see when they don't want to listen. I was frustrated with agency, human weakness, and my own human frailty. We went to Ward Correlation meeting, where Hermana Shotwell, (who serves with Her companion Hermana Sainsbury in another region in Paraná but within the same ward boundaries), came up to me and gave me a great big hug. "Are you okay?" She asked. "I know that somethings up. You're just not yourself today. I just want you to know that I love you and while you are the ones calling the sisters to see how they're doing, you need someone to ask how you're doing too." I hugged her again and about cried in gratitude. I don't have a lot of really hard days, don't worry Mom :) But when I do have them, Heavenly Father never fails to send me an angel. Saturday night it was Hermana Shotwell. There are such simple ways we need to serve and love those around us! I am so grateful to have been raised in a home and a ward where expressions of love like this one are offered so freely. Kindness is our Religion.

I love the Work, I love my mission. I love the Lord and it is His name that I carry on my name tag and in my Heart! I pray to worthily carry his name always as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I Know he lives and loves me! And I know he lives and Loves you, Mom, Dad, Tyler, Austin, Corey, and Jordan!

With Love,
Hermana Boren

Monday, May 19, 2014

Today I Ate Octupus

Querida Familia Mia,

You'd better believe it. We went to an all-you-can-eat buffet today for P day. We live right off the river Paraná and I thought, well, it's now or never to try the weird water-creature food. My last Birthday I decided I wanted to have 25 adventures before my next birthday. This week I have completed many new adventures--Principally eating an octopus tentacle, but also included is becoming the ward choir director, teaching music in a foreign language, teaching a 14 year old Argentine boy named Elías English, and wearing a Grandma Shirt to church from an Invesitgator in Santa Fe, her name is Sunilda. I am so grateful for the mission field! It actually wasn't too bad. Tasted like chicken.

Miracles, miracles, miracles. It doesn't matter how long I've been in the field, they never get old. Recent Convert Soledad had her twins two weeks ago, and the Relief Society has completely taken over offering the best help! I have been so relieved, especially because as Missionaries there's not a lot of help we can offer--we aren't allowed to hold or pick up children as part of the Legality rules as missionaries. The Relief Society President, Bibiana Moretto, spent an over-nighter with Sole her first night. Nancy and Virginia, her recently called Visiting Teachers, have also taken shifts helping her out at the Hospital. Soledad's family has really stepped up as well--she had formerly been estranged by her parents, but after Sole was baptized, then began apologizing and offering to help watch the other 3 boys, etc. While Sole was recovering in the Hospital, they completely repainted, organized, and Cleaned Sole's small home and built an additional room for 11year old Stefano and 9 year old Giovanni to share. This is truly a miracle and I have seen how Soledad's relationship with her family, her self confidence, etc.Has completely taken a turn for the better since her decision to be baptized. I love her dearly and am so grateful for this shining example of a Single Mom leading her Children in the ways of the Gospel. I have a fervent hope that a widower member of the church will move to Paraná and will come into her life and they'll be married and sealed in the temple . . . .

Other Miracles--the reality of Revelation. I was on Divisions with Sister Van Wagnen from my MTC District. That morning in my Personal Study I read about Nephi and the scriptures that relate his marriage and later when he has children. Both scriptures are followed by how blessed he felt of the Lord. During Companionship study, Hermana Van Wagnen began relating how concerned she is about a few of her Investigators who are co-habitating without being married, and her desire to teach them the importance of Marriage and the law of chastity. I shared with her what I had just read in Nephi and she excitedly thanked me, excited to be able to share what the Book of Mormon has to say about this God given law with her Investigators. It was a miniature miracle of Divisions. The following two divisions we had similar miracles on both ends--Hermana Gudiel from Honduras taught me that we need to be WORTHY in order to be able to teach the Gospel to our investigators, if we aren't worthy the spirit won't testify of our words. Hermana Hawkes from Texas taught me that real Charity is an understanding of the Atonement of  Jesus Christ. I am learning so much about companionships by serving with many different temporary companions--at times 2 or 3 different sisters in one week, aside from Hermana Rasband--who teach me from their own experiences and spiritual strength. I feel as though I have 32+ sisters!

Another Miracle: Finding Elías! Hermana Rasband and I were in Paraná on different days this past week doing divisions with Different Sisters, trading off the area and traveling to be with other Sisters in Santa Fé and Entre Ríos. It's always an adventure in Divisions because we don't know exactly where our companion went with the other sisters the day before, etc. Well, I was with Hermana Gudiel on Thursday in Paraná. When we prayed about where to contact, we both felt very strongly that we should go to the street named Tacuarí. We contacted and found the home of a 14year old boy named Elías, I had met him in the street 2 times before with Hermana Diorio but had no way to contact him again. He is an English student and wants to learn to speak fluently. It was a miracle to find him and we told him about the English Classes we'd be starting in the church on Saturdays. The very next day at the very same hour, Hermana Rasband was in Paraná with Hermana Contreras from Chile. They both felt very strongly impressed to contact the street Tacuarí. And would you guess who they met? ELÍAS. The very next day. This time they got his phone number, too. We've started teaching him English and are hoping to teach him and his Family about Jesus Christ and the Restored Gospel soon. I have a testimony that God is concerned about the One, and He is very aware of his son Elías. Paraná is a city of more than 380,000 people. He directed us to the same door two days in a row, without any communication between my companion and I. Miracles!

Emiliana is another young woman we began teaching this week. She is 27 or so, is a lawyer, and was fascinated by the idea of another Testament of Jesus Christ. We invited her to baptism but she said she'd need to think about it first.

Recent Convert Dora who was baptized in Hermana Diorio's and Hermana Aragon's time is doing fantastic. She is a little forgetful, we think she has early stages of Alzheimer´s (she's only 63!). She came to a lesson at the church way too early this week, we were still in District meeting. She came with her non-member son Damian who has a few learning Disabilities, and our District Leader Elder Alderetes invited them on in to our meeting to be part of our practice. We set up the chairs to be like a colectivo bus and had Dora and Damian be people on the bus we had to contact. It was so much fun and out of the box! Dora forgot it was a practice and began bearing her testimony to me on the imaginary colectivo, and how she came to a knowlege that this is the true church. It was a divine, supernal moment. Damian told Elder Alderetes and I that he knows this is the true Church, he's just not ready for the committment yet. He's getting there. Afterwards we went to the Family History Center and Damian and Dora loved it, they began telling the members there all kinds of stories about their grandparents and the history of Paraná, etc.

One of our latest favorite friends in the Ward is Priscila, a 17 year old laurel who accompanies us one evening of each week to our lessons. She wants to serve a mission in two years and is doing fantastic testifying and even contacting a few doors. We're proud of her, she's like our little sister.

Hermana Rasband is just one of my bestest friends. We started singing Hope of America songs the other day during breakfast and began cracking up because we're from the EXACT SAME CULTURE. "We're the hope of AMEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERICA. Rise and shout for AMEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERICA. We're the brave we're the strong where the dreams belong!" During morning excercises we sometimes share our childhood crushes. I told her about Cody who bought me a christmas present with his own money when I was 5 and she told me about Reese whom she fondly watched on the elementary School playground from afar. This is probably way too much information, excuse me. But I just wanted you to feel how real the friendship is :) She has taught me to make Yogurt cake and I have made her her first tapioca pudding. Thanks for the Tapioca, Mom. We are a united, hard working team striving to show the Sisters their Worth and to value exact obedience in the mission field. Companionship studies are my favorite time of day because we both share our testimonies of the Book of Mormon and answer each other´s prayers with the truths we share.

I made NO bake cookies for the Elders this past District Meeting with the Peanut Butter Aunt Kristen sent me and they have since declared war, they want to make cookies that beat mine in quality. They're still working on their secret recipe. :)

I love you forever, my family. I like you for always. As long as I'm living your MIKSTER I'll be. This is God's Church. He lives, and he loves you! He hears your prayers! Never forget this truth.
Con muchisimo amor y cariño de todo mi corazoncito,
Hermanita Boren

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


Dear Family,

Such a Joy to see you Yesterday! You are a Gorgeous group of people. GUAPO, Like I told you, Dad. You all look Healthy, Happy, Handsome (beautiful for Mom and Grandma) and Well. I couldn't stop replaying our conversations in my mind after we had to finish our skype call. Hermana Rasband asked me later about the Saloon Doors and the Pitstop . . . I cracked up and couldn't believe our conversation took us to that memory. Oh, it's good to know that while we've grown and changed on both ends of the Hemisphere, we are still family. We'll never stop being fluent in Our love languages and ability to laugh and communicate and enjoy time together. I'm really looking forward to that again :) But I'm not getting too trunky, don't worry! We are working hard and giving our All to the Lord.

When I was a little girl I had a friend in 4th grade named Alexis who had many freckles. She told me once that they were Kisses from the Sun, and then proceeded to tell me that I didn't have any. I remember searching in the mirror one day for freckles, looking between my nose and cheeks to see if maybe the Sun had Kissed me yet. And they never came, and I felt a little bit of envy, wishing for a moment to be something that I wasn't, and wondering why the Sun had kissed other people and why it didn't like me enough to kiss me. As I grew older I had other friends who lamented their freckles and wished to be freed of them. We all lamented gifts or traits that we didn't have and were frustrated with the reality of who we are. I've thought this week about freckles as I have talked with some of the Sisters in the mission who struggle with depression, self confidence, and comparing themselves with others. We all have different talents, traits, and beauties. We must never forget that while the world shouts that we will never, ever, be good enough--there is a God on High that is our Father and sees us for the Beauty of our creation. We are precious in his sight. I am grateful that my time in the mission field has helped me come to a clear understanding of how the Savior sees me as I have carried his name. The other day we were walking down a lamplit sidewalk after a long night of knocking doors and appointments that fell through. I was feeling less than adequate when I felt, out of nowhere, an overwhelming warmth swell in my heart. I felt like I do when I open a letter from Mom from home or when Dad used to put Farside Comics in my lunches and I just knew that he loved me and was thinking about me. In this moment as we returned to our apartment,  I felt as though the Savior was hugging me, Spiritually, and expressing his love for me and the work I am offering to bring God's Children to a knowledge of their redeemer. I felt beautiful, confident, loved, and worth it. I felt comfort that while I am imperfect, the work that I do is consecrated by the Atonement. When I give my all and it isn't enough, it's okay, because He's more than enough. How I wish for all of you to feel that way that I did this past Tuesday, too. You are beloved. You are worth it. You are more than you think you are. Those of you With Freckles are Beautiful, and those of you Without are Beautiful, too.

Much love and More Letters to come next week,
Hermana Boren
Mik :)