I have always heard that going on a mission changes lives. People always told me about how much I would learn and about the person that I would become. I always loved listening to returned missionaries and hearing all of their amazing experiences, knowledge of the scriptures, and testimony of the gospel. I wanted what they had. The desire to go on a mission began to grow in me. I knew that there would be hard times and that it would take a lot of effort. I was willing. I knew I would have to walk countless hours, carrying heavy books, wearing out many pairs of shoes. I was prepared. I knew that I would have to learn a new language and communicate this precious message of the gospel in a way that I had never done before. I knew that many people would not listen. I knew that many of my brothers and sisters that I had come to rescue would close the door in my face, and by doing so, reject their Savior. I knew I would have moments of fear, discouragement, and loneliness. But I also knew that the Lord would help me. I knew, as it says in the book of Alma, that He was pouring out His Spirit on all the face of the land to prepare the minds and hears of the children of men to receive the word--the word which would be given through my very mouth. I knew that I would see miracles, that I would feel joy and satisfaction in my labors, and that I would be an instrument in the Lord's hands in bringing souls to happiness and salvation.
And yet, knowing all of this, I never could have really comprehended just how deep the disappointments would cut into my heart, but in contrast, how much happiness and gratification I would receive to fill in all the little wounds. It is amazing to me how, when coming closer to the Savior, one comes to realize in a very personal and profound way just how far they really are. Many times I have felt that I have been swimming against the current, running against a strong wind, feeling as though I wasn't making any progress. But, in reality, realizing just how strong the Lord was helping me to become. He has truly been preparing me to face the challenges and trials of faith of the future. If I haven't learned anything else on this mission, I have learned that faith does not exist without a trial of faith beforehand. The words of Ether have been my constant guide on the pathway leading up to my mission, as well as throughout it: "I would show the world that faith is the things which are hoped for and not seen. Wherefore dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith." I am grateful for the many trials of faith that I have experienced, and I know that there are plenty more to come. It is in these moments that we are truly being refined, when we learn the great lessons of life which could be learned no other way.
A strange concept I have noticed is that many times it is when I see the people I serve go through their own trials of faith that I have felt the most love for them. I feel the desire to do all that I can to help them overcome their challenges, doubts, and addictions. I try to do everything, then realize that no matter how much I offer to them, they must do these things on their own. They must choose to follow the Savior and have their own personal relationship with Him in order to to progress. I suppose sometimes the Lord feels the same way about me. He has given all that He has to help me to be happy and return to live with Him again. But He cannot force me. He cannot automatically place a testimony in my heart or make me be converted with a snap of His fingers. This is not the plan. The plan is that each person has the opportunity and privilege of choice. And so by seeing those whom I have been serving exercise their agency in unwise ways, I have felt a pain in my heart that makes me realize how much I really do love these people and want what is best for them. And, on the other hand, as I have witnessed others progress and make meaningful changes in their lives, I feel that same love-the pure love of Christ-inside of me, but manifested in a different form. It is a feeling of satisfaction that comes in no other way, except through the Savior Himself.
I have been home for almost a month now and many ask me what my favorite part was from this eighteen month adventure. I think it would be impossible to sum up the answer in one experience. It is a combination of every day, small moments that have helped me to increase my knowledge, faith, love, and testimony. I know the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored through the prophet Joseph Smith. I know Thomas S. Monson is a living prophet today and that he receives revelation from God to guide us. I know that God is my father. He is your father. And he loves us! I know that He sent His son, Jesus Christ to make up for all of our faults, mistakes, and shortcomings. He came to help us to become more perfect and to prepare us to live with Him again. I love this gospel! I KNOW it is the only way to achieve true happiness in this life and exaltation in the life to come. And I am so grateful!
So, what's next?
"Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life."
Thursday, January 10, 2013
Monday, December 17, 2012
I love being a missionary. I love seeing people show their faith. I love my Savior and I am so grateful for his Atonement. I know that He was "born that man no more may die." I know that the Lord loves you all and that the Atonement is something very personal for each of us. I invite you to think of Him this Christmas season and think of a gift that you can give to Him. I feel so much love for my Redeemer, for my brothers and sisters here in Argentina, and so much responsibility to share this message to all those who will hear it. What an important message that we have to share! As I learn about and experiment more of what Christ really did for me it makes me wonder how my Heavenly Father possibly could have sent me here to be His mouthpiece--to preach las buenas nuevas of the gospel. Wow. But I know that I am not alone. He is helping me every step of the way. I really am seeing things in a whole knew light and through small miracles and learning experiences every day, my life really has been changed. Hna Alvey gave me this quote the other day that very much describes what the mission (and life in general) is like:
"When you get to the end of all the light you know and it´s time to step into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things shall happen: either you will be given something solid to stand on, or you will be taught how to fly." -Edward Teller
May you all have a very merry Christmas and focus on the most important things. :) The Lord loves you and so do I!
La hermanita Hill
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
How are you? Well, you´re never going to believe it but I bid farewell to Tigre today! Yup, I will be spending the remainder of my days in URQUIZA! Back in cap-i-tal! It was a big surprise and I was super sad to leave Hermana Hualpa and Tigre...she is my only comp that I was only with for one transfer. And Tigre was the only area I was in for less than six months...I feel so unsettled! Haha I´m actually really excited to work my buns off here in Urquiza. I will get to know one more area and get to know more of the awesome peeps here. I love getting into new areas because it´s like a whole new slate and a whole new batch of people who are waiting for this wonderful message of the gospel. So my new companion is Hermana Alvey. She is from Las Vegas and is so great. There area actually four of us hermanas here... we will be with Hermana Kapp and Hermana Sperry, but Hermana Sperry is in the south right now and won´t be coming up until Wednesday so the three of us will be working together for right now. Hermana Kapp is from Mapelton, Utah and Hermana Sperry is also from Utah (Spanish Fork?) and they both went to BYU. Hermana Sperry will be leaving with me to start school as well. So, yeah, lots of craziness! I will be practicing my english with three American comps, that´s for sure :) In Tigre we were seeing a lot of miracles and I am excited to hear about what happens there and see the branch continue to grow. I love this work and am super pumped to see even more miracles here in Urquiza. Love you all a bazillion!
|Familia Quispe. Lucy and Carlos are recent converts and help us a ton.|
And Carlos is preparing to serve a mission!
|We got to see Milsiades before his baptism at the|
stake conference! Future missionary.
|With my new compies! Hermana Kapp and Hermana Alvey :)|
Monday, December 3, 2012
So much goodness this week! Check it ouuuut.
|Romina showing Astrid the font before her baptism <3|
|With all the fam :)|
|Romina with her dad, Miguel, and her sister, Astrid.|
He reminds me of dad kind of sometimes because
he only has girls and he loves em a lot!
Okay here´s the story of Romina. She goes to church with her friend, Rosita, who is a recent convert. We taught her and she had always wanted to be baptized, but her parents never gave her permission. Last week we felt we should go visit her and talk to her parents again. Also near the area, we had a reference that we needed to contact. We felt that we should go contact the reference first--and it turns out the address didn´t exist. We felt that we should knock all the doors on the block we were at because maybe someone there was prepared. Everyone ended up rejecting us, so we decided to head on over to Romina. Her parents weren´t home because they work a lot, and that was part of the problem of never being able to get permission in the first place. But after teaching her, when we were about to leave, her dad showed up. We began to talk to him and at first he tried to avoid us, but we were persistent and at the end of the conversation, he realized that the best thing he could do for his daughter is to allow her to be baptized. He said he would talk to his wife, which he did, and they gave her permission! On the day of her interview, we brought her baptismal dress to try on. When she came out all dressed in white, her dad gave her a bug hug and just started weeping. It was such a special moment that I will never forget! I love how the spirit softens people´s hearts and always guides us to where we need to be.
|Thanks so much for the AWESOME PACKAGE! We are super|
excited about our regalitos and Hna Hualpa wants me to tell you gracias!
I have the best family. Es la verdad.
|Last Pday we went to Parque de la Costa.|
The Lagoon of Tigre.
|She's so cute!|
|Whoever said missionaries can't divertirse?|
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Last week has been full of prayer, fasting, running, hard work, and miracles. Yesterday was the baptism of Maria Laura :) She is the mom of two girls who were baptized last year. They were baptized with their grandma and always went to church with her, but the grandma moved, and since then, they haven´t gone to church. We went to visit them to see how we could help and began teaching Maria Laura. They have been going to church together as a family and she made the decision to be baptized! Have you ever noticed how the gospel is perfect for families? Also yesterday was the primary program and her little girls got to sing and say their little one-liners. We`re really helping the primary to grow here in Tigre! We´ve got a whole bunch of future leaders here. It´s crazy how kids really are more of an example to their parents than the other way around sometimes. It´s always saying in the scriptures how we need to become like little children...Mosíah 3:19, 3 Nephi 11:38, Mateo 19:17...(or maybe it was 17:19). There is a lot we can learn from these little people, as I´m sure you are seeing from being with Easton! Thanks for being so great! Love you LOTS!
Oh also I was going to tell you that a girl who I was teaching in Almagro, Aylen (I send a picture of her once) got baptized! And now she´s sharing the gospel with the whole world! Did I also tell you that Victor´s son, Alex got baptized? It´s so awesome to see that when we plant little seeds they actually are harvested sometimes!!!
I heard the song surfin USA the other day and almost started doing that dance that we made up when we were little....you know the one...."wearing their baggies....bushy bushy blonde hair-do..." But that´s so beside the point :)
I totally didn´t realize that it´s Thanksgiving this week! Feliz día de acción de gracias! It sounds better in english, doesn´t it? Well I don´t have a lot of time, and I´ll tell you why. Because today is kind of like a super short pday. Because apparently tomorrow the whole country of Argentina is doing...manifestaciónes. Manifestations? I don´t know what it would be in english. But, you know all that political hubub. So we´re not allowed to leave our apartment all day tomorrow. Dang it! Hate to lose a day of work when there is always SO MUCH TO DO in the obra del Señor. But, así es. So today is just internet and compras and back to work! But, hey, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, how about I send you a classic list of things I am grateful for (in no particular order):
-the gospel and everything to do with it
-the Book of Mormon
-Argentine ice cream
-Dulce de leche
-the ability to exercise (for obvious reasons...see above)
-the sky in Tigre
-cute little kids
-el don de lenguas
-my companion, Hna Hualpa, and every companion I have had on the mission.
-those small moments when you know that the person that you are talking to feels the love of Christ
-seeing people progress
-seeing people happy
-seeing families that love each other
-three straight hours of studies every morning
-knowledge that I have a Savior who loves me and wants to help me and see me succeed and live with Him again
-knowledge that I can live with my family forever and can help others achieve the same
-hearing people pray for the first time
-the opportunity to repent and be better every day
-the funny moments when I say things in spanish that don´t make any sense...yeah, still happens :)
-un montón de cosas más....there is just no time.
I am so grateful for all you do for me and for this time I have in the mission! I want to use every single second I have in the way the Lord would have me do. I love you all a ton!!