Monday, July 28, 2014

Celebrating Ebelia's 74th with a Birthday Cake and Family Night

Dearest Family,

Looks like you all are the tan ones now and I'm the "pale and whitey" as Austin used to say. Hope the summer sun is just a blast! Enjoy the SOL! You brothers of mine are just handsome kids.

God is too good to me. But really, TOO GOOD. I feel spoiled with all of the miracles and joy that is bursting in my heart these days. I feel that every transfer it just can't get better, but it does. Every time. Hermana Briggs and I are kindred spirits, we have so much in common. We both love poetry and live to write, we both have desires to be exactly obedient, have the same mission backpack, crave chocolate at the same moments, etc. I feel that Heavenly Father is so good to me. She and I are working hard, we know we have such little time together and we want to take advantage of every moment to learn from each other. She gets me ready for the life ahead and I get her ready for the mission ahead. She amazes me, she gave a 20 minute talk yesterday and she's only been in Argentina for 2 weeks. She is teaching me so much and I learn all the time how God Qualifies whom he calls.

I have had a heart to heart with Mormon and Moroni again this week. Mormon explains at one point that he ceases to write about the wickedness of the people to refrain from saddening us too much by their wickedness. I think of him and his tender, considerate heart towards us and our testimonies and feelings despite the cruel and bloodthirsty world that surrounded him. And Moroni's bravery to continue living a virtuous life even when he's the ONLY ONE left of the Nephites. I admire them  both and recognize the same love, and parent-child guidance-obedience in my relationship with my parents. I hope to be like Moroni and follow the council and diligent example my parents offer me, like Mormon gave. How often I have felt like Moroni in receiving letters of love and guidance from my parents in the mission field! The Book of Mormon truly teaches us how to be HAPPY in this life, I know it.

Okay, GÁLVEZ. We have so much work to do, this area is such a blessing to us! The joy of our lives at the moment is the Acevedo Family. Sergio, a single father who has had to raise his 5 kids ALONE for the past 7 years (His wife abandoned them, I don't know the whole story since he doesn't like to talk about it in front of his Kids) has always had a faith in God and has long looked for the truth. About a month ago he saw Hermana Ordoñez and Hermana Dean, the Hermanas before us, and felt he should talk to them. A few weeks later he saw them in the same place and again felt he should talk to them, but resisted. The third time he saw them in the same place, he got off his Motorcycle and went over and talked to them of his own volition. They soon went to his house for a teaching appointment, and after some diligent prayer and reading in the book of Mormon and attending church, he chose his own baptismal date for the 16th of August. He is a ROCK, as are his children. The oldest two have recently left to live with their Mom for a little time, she apparently came back into the picture recently and they are trying to mend the parent-child relationships between the kids and Her. It's a mess, but luckily the Gospel is bringing them so much happiness. Gabriel, age 11, Ailen, age 9, and Esteban, age 7 are so attentive. When we gave them the comic style Book of Mormon Stories book they read it all in 2.5 days. Each night they kneel together as a family for family prayer. They are the first to come to the chapel on Sundays. Sergio says he knows that this is the true church, it's the help that he's been looking for for years in his Struggles as a Single Father raising his family. He delights in the happiness he sees in his Kids. At nights when he comes home tired from work and he isn't always up for reading, Gabriel--this solid, solid as a rock 11 year old boy--sits his Dad down and begins teaching him what he read from the Book of Mormon and asks him if they can read more. Esteban stood up in Primary yesterday and said that if we feel afraid we should pray that Jesus can Help us take the fear away. Needless to say this sincere family has humbled our hearts and amazes us all the time. We love them so much and are striving to help them prepare in every way for their baptism the 16th of August.

This week as an effort to get to know the branch and start getting a firmer grip on the area, we went to visit a Grandma Sister in the Branch named Ebelia. We began to chat and discovered that she has never married, has been a member of the church for 37 years, hasn't any kids nor any relatives that live in Gálvez. Also, that her Birthday was this past Tuesday and nobody remembered, nor did she celebrate. I whispered to Hermana Briggs "My Mom would not be okay with this! We have to celebrate her Birthday!" Well, On Saturday night I whipped her up a birthday cake out of the Yogurt Cake recipe Hermana Rasband taught me, decorated it with Dulce De Leche Frosting and grated coconut. Sunday we invited everyone at church to come with us to her home that night at 6 pm. We showed up with a giant candle in the middle of the cake and sang her "Que Los Cumplas Feliz!" and shared a family home evening lesson in her Home. Her smile and delight was so worth it. I thought of President Monson and how he cared for all those 80+ widows in his ward, and how he United that little ward in Salt Lake City to be a ward family, to love and care for one another. Hermana Briggs and I set a goal that our work in Gálvez must have the goal of uniting this little branch in this little outcast city to be a true branch family. That's the only way it will grow. THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST IS SERVICE. We also wrapped up my gospel art picture book and gave it to her. She ADORES artwork, and we figured this would be the most fitting birthday present of any.

Sundays are an adventure. Yesterday We both taught primary, I taught Gospel Principles, Hermana Briggs gave a talk, and I offered a musical number--a capella solo of medley Abide With Me and Abide with Me Tis Eventide. We had 15 souls yesterday, we're making progress. 1 more than last week! After church we rushed with our Branch President to the Hospital, we went to visit the YW President who had some type of sudden vertigo/stomache disease (I don't understand medical Spanish yet, so I didn't quite get the details) but he Gave her a blessing and we offered our love. Our Branch President is going through a personal challenge of 2 of his 4 kids that are suffering distinct forms of Cancer. He is such an example to me of serving this little branch 2 hours away from his home. Everyone has so many distinctive challenges. We must be loving and patient with those around us, we don't know what personal crosses they're carrying. But the Savior does! It brings me such comfort to know that.

I love you all. Please, oh please, never forget how much I love you!
Hermana Boren

Monday, July 21, 2014

Fourteen Souls

Querida Familia Mia,

Heavenly Father expects a lot from me these last 5 weeks.

Tuesday night after a day of saying my goodbyes and packing my suitcases, I laid down in my bed in the dark of the winter night after saying my bedtime prayer. Hermana Rasband was still praying before I got up, and a few moments later after I had already started to doze off she came over and surprised me with a hug and said, "You'll do great things in Gálvez!" I hugged her back and said thanks through a heavy sigh and keeping the tears back. It doesn't matter how many times you change areas, your heart breaks every time. I love Paraná, it´s streets will forever be sacred ground to me.

Wednesday morning I got up at 2:30 am to shower and get ready. At 3:40 we left for the terminal, and by 7:30 I was in Rosario. When I arrived I was greeted by several of my missionary friends who were there for transfer day to coordinate and receive traveling missionaries. Hermana Alicea was among them, it made me happy to see her :) Hopped in the taxi with 3 other sisters and headed to the mission home. We had a great discussion with the Taxi cab driver about his family, he has an 8 month old Daughter that he said is his world. We explained How God is his loving heavenly Father, how he wants to have a relationship with this man just as he thrives on the relationship he has with his 8 month old little girl. We shared the book of Mormon with him, the spirit was strong as we pulled up to the brick CASTLE of the mission home.

Sitting in the Mission Home Parlor with the other Trainers I was brought back to so many memories of a year ago, when I came to the mission home with Hermana Ferraez, when I played the Pump Organ and found out that Hermana Alicea would be my companion again. Can it really have been a year since those treasured memories? Soon Presidente Zanni was instructing us, my heart full of so many memories and emotions. The new missionaries entered the room, and a young Sister that dresses in the same style as Hermana Alicea, with great big blue eyes like her was among the Sisters. Her name is Hermana Briggs. And come to find out, She's my new companion! She is INCREDIBLE. She is from Holladay Utah. She's previously done Humanitarian work in Cambodia, has helped build an orphanage in Mexico, has visited Costa Rica, and has SO MUCH FAITH and SO MUCH LOVE. We've already shared some great moments and are excited to serve together in Gàlvez.

We spent the night in Paraná because Gálvez is far away . . . from EVERYTHING. It was good to hug Hermana Rasband and To hug and talk to Hermana Dean. Galvez is her previous area, and she is now serving in Paraná . . .we did a flip flop :) she gave us some good heads up info on the little branch so that we could be prepared upon arrival. She also gave us the keys and address to our Apartment. Details . . . :)

We arrived in Gálvez at about 2 pm on Thursday. I was so relieved to finally arrive and start getting to know the area. IT's a little town like Cañada de Gomez, safe and secure, nothing like the city I just came from. I'm getting used to quiet town life again! it looks like we just fell out of beauty and the beast. We took a taxi to our apartment and started settling in, then cracked open the area book and started planning, figuring out who our investigators are, finding a map, getting oriented. Gálvez is a tiny branch, about 12 or 15 people attend church every week, and the branch president is imported from Santa Fe every week to preside and conduct the ward. There is SO MUCH WORK TO DO, I don't have any time to be trunky, and that's the best part about it. There's a fantastic family we're currently teaching, a single dad and his 3 kids, his name is Sergio. More details next week, but pray for him and his family and their progression!

Saturday Night, Hermana Briggs and I found our way to the chapel. It is a warehouse that they've converted rooms in it to be a church. When we entered I was overcome by the spirit. Hermana Briggs asked if I would like to say a prayer, I said I would, we knelt and had a sacred moment with heavenly Father. We offered him our thanks to be serving in this little town and pleaded for his help, offering him our will to work with all our hearts so that we can see this little warehouse chapel full.

Sunday we had fourteen souls in sacrament meeting, Sergio and his 3 kids were the first to come to church. :) I taught gospel principles and gave a talk, Hermana Briggs taught primary for 2 hours all by her lonesome (she's a BOSS!) on her first Sunday in the mission field, her first time speaking spanish in a foreign country. I am amazed by her and know that God has a great work fo us to do.

I love you with all my heart, my dear family!
Pray for us, Pray for Gálvez. God is Good.
Hermana Boren

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Dearest Family,

I don't know where to begin. Firstly, that  I love you :)

Next, today is my last day in Paraná. I was called last night by asistant to the President, Elder Holloway. I will be training a new sister, and whitewashing a new pueblito called Galvez, about 1.5 hours away from the city Santa Fe. I've been there once before in divisions, and it's a beautiful little town. There is work still for me to do. I feel such a peace. I will miss Paraná with all my soul, I've served here the longest--6 months, the third part of my mission--but God has work enough for me to do, still. he needs me in Galvez, and instead of fear or anxiety, I am filled with faith and a passion for the Work. We will testify, we will teach, and we will baptize! Hermana Dean, who served with me visa waiting in the Watac, will be taking my place as Capacitadora and as Hermana Rasband's companion. Hermana Rasband and I have such a special quirky friendship that i know will last for a lifetime, I will miss her but knowing she's from American Fork (and the fact that I already know where she lives) brings me a lot of excitement for adventures to come.

I thought I was done being the greatest blood donor to Argentina's Pestilence Society, but the Mosquitos and Spiders somehow returned this week with the unusually warm winter weather we've been having, and I'm covered in the red bumps that are normally characteristic of summer all over again. Que cosas che.

It has been an incredible week! Tuesday we enjoyed zone meeting, which is always uplifting. It's neat to learn from my companion and the zone leaders as they give workshops, as well as from the other missionaries as they comment and share their insights. Wednesday morning we had "Meet the President" zone conference, where we got to know Presidente Zanni and his family better. Presidente Zanni is so inspired, as he spoke he answered several personal revelation questions I have debated recently. I know he has been called to be the mission president of this mission for a reason at this particular time, and I feel honored to learn from him and his sweet wife. A tender mercy came as I played the piano for prelude music, his little girls came running into the chapel and over to where I was playing, and threw their arms around me in a great big hug! After the meeting Elder Higginson asked me to do the R2D2 noise, Jordan. I did it for my district int the MTC to the best of my ability, I can't do it nearly as well as you, but now I'm renown for it amongst the Elders. It's the best :) Thanks for lighting up my life, little bro.

Wednesday I saw one of the most surreal experiences of my life. The streets were DEAD as Argentina played Holland. Not a breathing soul in the street except for a few wandering stray dogs. Hermana Rasband and I walked in absolute silence for about 5 minutes. Well, at about 7:45 the streets went beserk. The winning penalty shots of the semifinal game set the Argentine world on an emotional fire, the streets flooded all at once with men, women, and children of all ages and sizes with number 10 MESSI jerseys, blue and white flags, and blaring bugles as they horned their victory, trucks and motorcycles bustled their way through the streets with people aboard screaming at the top of their lungs while throwing their fists into the air. I felt like I was thrown into a scene from the Hunger games, I have never seen such a cultural manifestation of a soccer victory. It was hilarious, moving, scary, and patriotic all at once. The World Cup . . . kind of a big deal in Argentina.

Friday and Saturday I enjoyed serving with Hermana Sanders on divisions in Sunchales, a little town that bases its industry in making Dulce De Leche and distributing milk. It is a clean, pristine, story-book kind of village. While I was with her I felt the strongest impression that we needed to practice extending the baptismal invitation with every one of the investigators we visited. Although some of them mentioned that they didn't want to change religions during the lesson, I still invited them at the end after testifying of the importance of Baptism by Priesthood Authority. We taught a woman who is an etern-igator and has listened on and off to missionaries for 12 years, a 17 year old young lady named Eliana, and two abuelitos whos kids are members, but the wife just can't stop smoking. Each time they denied the baptismal invitation. But Saturday morning we went to the home of the Familia Villareal. There was a quiet peace about this home of a mother, father, and 5 girls. This particular lesson it was just the mom and the two littlest daughters. The mother of this family, after being invited to follow the example of Christ through baptism, accepted gladly. Hermana Sanders gave me the biggest smile, and it was such a tender mercy to be there with this Sister as she finally saw someone accept the invitation. She has been working so hard in Sunchales with her companion, and it was neat for her and I to both see someone soften their heart. There are many who reject the message of the Restoration. But those that accept it--they make all the tears and heartache and rejection SO WORTH IT!

Sunday was Supernal. Rosa came to church in a skirt with her hair and make up done beautifully. She looked like she could have been the Relief Society president already. Eric was all smiles during all of the meetings, and Brenda, Rosa's daughter and Eric's sister, CAME!!! It was a miracle to have her in Church! After Sacramente Meeting Rosa dressed in white and entered the waters of baptism. She just glowed! We had so much support from the ward, they all pitched in to bring desert and refreshments to enjoy after the baptismal service. The spirit was strong! Hermana Rasband and I were just CONTENTAS. Soledad was finally able to make it to church again, her visiting teachers went to pick her up and help her with the twin babies and the other 3 rambunctious boys. My heart was FULL.

Gabriel is doing great :) About 2 weeks back he kept canceling our follow up new convert appointments. I was worried about him dodging spiritual things, wondering if he had fallen into some of his past addictions or something. One night we called him to see how his reading was going in the Book of Mormon, and in turn shared a scripture in Helaman 5. Since this point, his latest thing has been sending us texts quoting scriptures he has particularly liked in his personal study of the Book of Mormon. He quotes the scripture and then tells us to read it, very Gabriel-like, extending his own commitments to US. Well, this past Sunday he came to church dressed up nice in a white shirt and church sweater, told us that he would like us to teach him more so that he can better prepare to receive the Aaronic Priesthood, told us he has a Reference for us named Lourdes and gave us her number, and THEN kept bugging us throughout church and the baptismal service to know when we can have a lesson to be able to teach him. To top it all off, he wrote in Rosa's baptismal book the sweetest testimony and signed it "HERMANO GABRIEL SCHMITD." I about fainted. He's using the title HERMANO. He's going places, that punk kid.

I love Paraná, I love my mission. I am overwhelmed with Gratitude for the numerous blessings God has given me in this BANGARANG Jungle City. I will miss it more than I can imagine, but the gratitude wells in me more than anything. Someday I'll come back here again. I've got to. But even if mortality keeps me away, I am comforted to know that my brothers and sisters of Paraná will be my neighbors in Heaven. We've got to be firm in the faith, and we'll take our place JUNTOS at the right hand of God.

I love you all, take a look at Chapter 4 of Preach my Gospel under The Spirit and Conversion. Let's study it together this week and then share what we learned in our next letter.
Con cariño,
Hermana Boren

p.s. Ty, Jordan, Josh, and Spencer--I hope EFY is an absolute blast and htat you are even stronger in your testimonies now. I love you guys!
p.s.s. Corey and Dad, congrats on the 15 mile bike ride! WOOHOO!
p.s.s.s. AJ, I hope work is going great and congrats on buying a new car! One of my goals before my next birthday is to learn to drive stick shift. Will you teach me? Oh, and another goal: Learn to ride ripstick. Will you teach me that too? Love you!

Monday, July 7, 2014

I Forget Myself and Give it all to Him

Dearest Family,

Happy 4th of July (Late). I hope it was a great holiday, enjoying time with Grandma and Grandpa and enjoying hot weather! I had a fantastic holiday. I spent my fourth of July wearing a scarf and overcoat inviting others to come unto Christ, teaching the Word of Wisdom to Rosa, Eric's Mom, and seeing her eyes light up as she agreed to live this commandment of God. It was a great way to spend Independence Day and I'll never forget it. Last fourth of July was my 3rd day in Argentina, and I spent it moving apartments with Hermana Ferraez in Venado Tuerto. I'm excited to see what happens next year! :)

This week has been spectacular. You know life is good when one of your greatest sources of stress is finding baptismal clothes adequate for 6 foot 5 man named Sebastian. He's doing fantastic, accepted a baptismal date and is reading at least a page in the Book of Mormon each day. He loves our church meetings, especially the Hymns. We're excited for him and keep cracking up about his story. That's got to go in the Liahona someday, "I met the Sister missionaries in the street and they thought I was going to rob them until I asked them what church they were from." How embarrassing and delightfully funny at the same time!

Yesterday, I wrote in my journal the following: "This is how i wish forever to feel! Today and yesterday I have felt a joy that goes beyond description. This is my joy, my soul here, my laughter, my content. To invite others to come unto Christ and to walk by their side as they have faith, repent, enter the waters of Baptism, and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. I am JOYFUL beyond description. Rosa accepted living the word of wisdom, tithing, and law of chastity without batting an eyelash. She came to church today even thought she and Tatiana got lost and she felt sick on the way. She will have her Baptismal interview tomorrow night and if all goes well, she will enter the waters of baptism on Sunday afternoon, July 13th. Hermana Rasband is so cutely excited in all of hte lessons and when we weekly planned she wrote a number 1 with jubilance in our goals for investigators baptized and confirmed  . . . We are FELIZ. It is neat to FEEL empathy, love, sadness, compassion, etc. at such a magnified level. So much more, now. I feel that I was somewhat under an apathetic cloud, for a time, before my mission. But now I see that Christ has changed me. I understand now that there is no limit on How much love we can feel for others, nor is there any place we should find hate in us. I love my Savior for the person He's changing me to be, and for allowing me to feel of HIs love. My deepest desire is to bring others to feel of the same, as Lehi Did in his Dream (see Nephi 8). I am just SO HAPPY! A joy beyond what I can describe, beyond words. I only hope I can remember forever what I feel in my HEART forever, right at this precious moment in time."

That paragraph pretty much sums it up for me right now. There's so much anguish, disappointment, grief, frustration, etc. that we suffer as missionaries, but when it comes to moments like these, it's all worth it. We just have to forget our griefs, our desires, our plans for the future, etc. And give it all to him!

Presidente & Hermana Giuliani honorably finished their 3-year mission this past Monday evening and are now living in Provo, Utah. I am so grateful for all that my mission President and his wife have taught me. I will most definitely be going to their home often in Provo to drink matte and talk in Castellano and ask for advice on living life in the real world again. I feel pretty lucky to have the opportunity to learn from 3 different Mission Presidents and their wives. Presidente & Hermana Zanni serve here in Rosario now, and they are a young couple! they are both about 43 or 44 years old, about your age Mom and Dad. They are from the Provincia San Juan, the Western side of Argentina.

We had Consejo de la Misión on Thursday, we woke up at 2:30 a.m. to get ready and left from the Paraná terminal to go to Rosario at 4 a.m. ¡Asi es la vida de la viajante! We arrived around 7:15 and headed straight to the mission home, were we enjoyed breakfast in the Mission Home Garage with the other Zone Leaders and Hermana Capacitadoras. Hermana Zanni came in to give us a hello, and Mom, I met your Argentine twin! She is shorter than me, but is skinny, gorgeous, and does her hair just like you do. My eyes even welled up, she just reminded me so much of you! She said hello to all the missionaries, but somehow at the end of breakfast we got to talking just she and I. She has never served a mission before but is very excited to be here with her Husband serving in Rosario. Her father found the church when she was 11 years old, the Missionaries rang their doorbell. She and Presidente Zanni have 7 kids, 3 older boys and 4 younger girls (exactly the same pattern as your family, Dad!). The oldest son is on a mission in Taiwan and the younger 6 live in the mission home. After Breakfast we headed to the Fisherton Chapel and enjoyed learning from Presidente Zanni, His Wife, Elder Eliosoff and Elder Higginson about how to work better with the members, what Christ expects of us as leaders and how we should follow his example, etc. There was a powerful spirit as our new Mission President addressed us. I just love him and his wife already and look forward to the work we have to do together. Afterwards we enjoyed lunch, Presidente brought his kids to the chapel and they are just a hoot. Ana, age 4, Carolina, age 8, Julieta, age 10, Laura, age 15, Santiago, age 17, Leonardo, age 18. We ended up playing with the little girls outside for a small while later on and I was in Heaven, I miss kids!

So much more to tell you and so little time--I want to end by sharing something I've learned from Preach My Gospel recently. I'm sorry I've been a slacker at including this part of our Family study recently, forgive me for that. Page 198 of PMG, Bear Testimony Frequently in Chapter 11 KEEP COMMITTMENTS. We learn the following:

"To bear testimony is to give a simple, direct declaration of belief--a feeling, an assurance, a conviction of gospel truth. Sharing your testimony often is one fo the most powerful ways of inviting the Spirit and helping others feel the spirit.

Bear testimony several times in each lesson, not just at the end. Bear testimony that what your companion has taught is from God.

People may sometimes intellectually question what you teach, but it is difficult to question a sincere, heartfelt testimony."

I love this quote from preach my gospel. We must share what we know, we must declare it from the Heart. And whatever the world may say to rock our logic or reject our words, we must stand unashamed.

"Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life. "

With Love,
Hermana Boren