Want to read more classics? Not sure where to start? Think that some encouragement from others may be what you need?
Well- I have the answer for you! ;)
A few of us on the floor have decided to challenge ourselves to read a top 100 classic novels list in the next three years.
(We also have a Facebook page if you would like to go that rout...search 100 classics in three years (aka Hemingway sucks).
If you are like me (first heaven help you) and second- you don't read enough of the classics. So... here is the plan (Stan). The Goal is to read all of the books on a top 100 classic novels list http://www.thebest100lists.com/best100novels/
...minus Hemingway (because I am just not a fan) in the next three years. That averages out to about 3 books a month depending on how many of them you have already covered in the past three years. Sound overwhelming...don't let it be. Even if we get to the three year mark, and you find you have read only 80, 50, or even 25 on the list-- it's more than you would have read to that point anyway so GOOD FOR YOU!! :)
The Rules: 1)You can start by crossing all four Hemingway books off your list now...right now. Good job. (feels good to know you don't have to suffer through those- right? I KNOW!)
2)Now you may cross off any of the books you have read in the past three years. If you have- good for you ! You deserve this small victory/head start!
3)Everyone is allowed five substitutions...the books of your choice MUST be classic worthy, however.
4) Have fun, and challenge as many people as you want to this!
Keep everyone updated. Are you so tearing through this list so fast that you are occasionally looking back through the dust and haze only to cackle to yourself in an evil fashion...(JA JA JA)?
Or...are you more like me, and need some water to choke down the all that dust you are eating??
Whatever! Just do your best, keep pluggin along, and in the end you will find yourself better read than when you began! :) (read less)
Hi Janet, How are you? It sounds like I missed a pretty good party on the 4th floor. I miss all of my friends from 4th. The Holidays were always a lot of fun. Things are going well here for us down here on the Border. My girls are doing well, Shakera (4) is going to Pre-K and Kanani (2) is growing fast and teaching me patience. My husband, Juan, has just been awarded a grant from the Dept. of Agriculture to start a farm and will stop working to pursue his dream. And that means I'll have to go back to work after having a 3 1/2 year vacation.
For those of you who were lucky enough to work with "Princess" Buhler- I thought you would be interested in seeing some wonderful pictures from her wedding. Kim Smith sent them to me via e-mail (what a nice girl she is!).
Our little one is here--he's a week old today and he has been such a good baby! Cache Richard Langton came on 10-20-2010 (which is a pretty cool birthday) and was 7 pounds 15 ounces and 20 inches long.
Thanks for the number for the HR, I got my paystubs and everything I needed. On one paycheck I was paid for being on-call for 24 hours even though I was not even in Utah--is that how you usually do it?
Hope all is well on the 4th floor and say hello to everyone for me.
In a special edition of "Random Quotes from the Fourth Floor" I would like to honor a supernal person named Holly Jara. :) She will be back soon, and I feel that one of the best quotes here- belongs to her:
"Mediocrity is the new excellent...get used to it."
Thanks Holly! We're excited to see you again! (Secretary Parties are just not the same without you!) :)
Hola! I hope you´re all doing well! I can´t believe September is almost here!
There´s not much news since I wrote last Thursday, except RENATO WAS BAPTIZED ON SATURDAY NIGHT! Hermana and I were really hopeful but a little apprehensive when he had his interview Thursday night. We asked Renato afterwards how it went and he didn´t say anything. When we called our district leader to pass our numbers, he asked if Renato had called us. He hadn´t. Our district leader told us to call him right then and ask him when he was going to be baptized! We did, and after making small talk with Renato for a few minutes, he asked if our district leader had told us what they´d decided together in the interview. No, we said. Renato replied, ¨So, you mean he didn´t tell you I´m going to be baptized on Saturday night?¨ There was a second of stunned silence on our part, then we both said something like, ¨Wow, that´s great! We can´t believe it!¨ It was crazy! He was so cool, calm, and collected about it. Saturday night at 6 it was. Very simple, but so beautiful! Sometimes the missionaries will bear their testimonies after the baptism, but sometimes they don´t. When we talked to Renato Saturday morning, he asked us if we would. We were a little surprised, but happy too. It´s hard to describe the happiness and joy that come from seeing another person be baptized, following the example of our Savior and choosing to be happier in his life. Hermana Sargent and I felt so content and fulfilled. Wow! Renato also bore his testimony, and the most impressive part was when he said that this is the most important contract he´ll ever sign in his life--this contract with his Father in Heaven. (Renato plays soccer, and is really good so a lot of teams want to sign him on). When he said that, I looked at his mom (who is also a member) and she was absolutely glowing! She must be so proud--her son did this all on his own! He read, studied, prayed, and was converted! The whole process is really incredible. I´m attaching two pictures from his baptism (Hermana and I had a goal to have pictures of Renato all in white and now we do!). One is with just us and Renato, and the other with the bishop, who baptized him.
Something I´ve realized these past few months is that ¨success¨ can be measured by missionaries in a lot of different ways. Yes, baptizing people is definitely success. But other successes are when our less-active families that we´re visiting come back to church, or when hard feelings in a family or between neighbors are mended. In my first interview with my mission president, he told me that his vision for every missionary in our mission is to leave with a deep and abiding testimony of our Savior Jesus Christ and a desire to serve him faithfully. I think the personal conversion of each missionary is the biggest success in the mission field. I can definitely tell that my personality is still the same--I´m still Meredith! But a lot of the desires I had before my mission seem very unimportant now, and some of those desires are now absolute essentials. I´m so grateful for the mission and the opportunity I have to see the hand of the Lord more clearly in my life and in others´ lives. Every day I think about how this is changing my perspective and shaping my future life. It´s amazing!
One more quick experience. Saturday morning we had a third lesson with a woman named Dora. She is Catholic, but is very open to listening about other religions and practices. Last week we gave her a Book of Mormon and marked 3 Nephi 11 for her to read. This chapter talks about when Jesus Christ came to the Americas after His resurrection and taught the people there. The minute she sat down, Dora started telling us how she´d read the chapter first once, then twice, then three times. She said she felt something so powerful and beautiful that she couldn´t explain and she wanted to read more. Wow! What a testimony of the Book of Mormon! It was a testimony to me that if someone reads with an open mind and real intent, the Spirit can definitely testify to them that these things are true! We´re going to work hard to get her to come to church this Sunday. She´s golden!
Well, that´s about it for now! A few shout-outs: Emily Parker (wow, can´t believe that´s your last name now! Crazy!)--I hope you and Adam are doing well! Have you found a job yet? Love you and think of you often! Ben, Marcie, and Melanie--Thought of you all the other day and hope all is well as your new little one arrives! Is it a girl or boy? I would love to see pictures! Jon and Megan--Have you gotten married yet? Hope all is well! Megan, I´m so excited to meet you after the mission! Miss--Hope your first week of married life was awesome! Can´t wait to hear all about it! Tahl--Love you tons! Hope all is going well with your job! How does it feel to be a bonified therapist now? I wish I had your skills because some days I could definitely use them!
We are working on getting a mandate together so that those who are currently employed on the 4th floor cannot quit. Those who do will be called deserters (not desserters) and shunned. Now you don't want that...do you? I didn't think so. :)
Where are you all going? I'm starting to feel like the last kid picked up from school at the end of the day....
:) Really- you are all going to be/ are currently missed. Good luck and keep us updated!
Hola! Como estan? No puedo creer que yo tengo casi seis meses, la tercera parte, de mi mision! No se donde se fue el tiempo sinceramente. How are you all?! I hope things are going well. This month marks six months in the mission for me! I have no idea where the time has gone, but I can testify that when we enjoy what we´re doing, the time flies!
Katy, thanks for the e-mail! It sounds like there are always adventures at the pre-school! I do remember going up to the cabin! That was almost two years ago! Crazy! That was such a fun night! I remember we played a card game with rabbits and I was so confused the whole time! Great times! Thanks for your encouragement and support!
Skyler, that´s awesome that you´re leaving with the missionaries! I´m sure you´re having great experiences! I´m learning that members make all the difference in the conversion process because we as missionaries can teach and baptize lots, but the members are the ones who really care for the converts. All of us as missionaries are determined to do more to help in the missionary work after our missions!
Stephanie, thanks for your letter! I´m so glad you had a great vacation and that your family are now members! How wonderful! That´s great that Dobson has sister missionaries! I´m partial, but I think sister missionaries are the best!
Tahl, here´s a note for you in Spanish! I´m excited you´re learning! We can talk together after the mission! Que tal? Como esta? Yo estoy disfrutando la mision demasiado. Mi companera es buenisima y es un privilegio a ser un represente de nuestro Salvador Jesucristo. Yo puedo ver que El tiene un plan por cada uno de sus hijos si estamos dispuestos a seguirle. Yo estoy tan agradecida por todas las cosas que yo estoy aprendiendo, especificamente paciencia conmigo y con los investigadores, amor de verdad, y mucho entendimiento. Yo espero que su trabajo es bueno! Se que usted esta ayudando a muchisimas personas! I´ll write a longer note next time! Where did you move to? I hope you enjoy Miss´s wedding! I´ll for sure be there in spirit! Send me some pictures!
Things are great in Paraguay! Funny story. . . we´ve been without gas for our stove for about two weeks now because there´s a shortage. Supposedly more is coming tomorrow morning, but in the meantime we´ve eaten lots of wheat crackers and chocolate chip cookie dough (melting the butter in front of our space heater!) Great adventures on the mission! Hermana and I have seen so many miracles this week! We decided to extend more baptism invitations in the lessons because we want to have five baptisms in the month of August! We started asking people during the first lesson if they want to be baptized, and we put dates with two more people! Hooray! I know that the Lord blesses us for working hard!
We´re going to have a baptism this week! Hooray! His name is Renato. It´s cool because he´s a big soccer star here in Paraguay. He´s been playing for most of his life, and if he gets selected, he could play in the mundial in four years! Wow! We were joking with him the other night that we want his autograph and picture because he´s famous! He just shook his head and said that for ten years Elders have tried to teach him the lessons, and finally he´s going to be baptized with the Hermanas. Haha! He´s awesome! He has changed so much! Osvaldo, our recent convert, came with us when we taught him and it was amazing! Osvaldo told him his whole story about how he stopped doing drugs and truly repented. Renato was super impressed! They both have soccer in common and became friends quickly. It strengthened Renato´s (and our) testimony that people truly can change. At the end of the lesson, they exchanged phone numbers and Hermana Sargent and I are so excited that they each have a friend now! Yesterday Osvaldo showed us that Renato bought him some longer soccer socks so he can start playing again. Chulina! To me, this is the essence of the gospel--helping, supporting, loving, and giving of what we have. I feel so privileged to have witnessed this change in Osvaldo and Renato. What true conversion! We´re having a Family Home Evening with Renato and his family tonight and we´re really excited about it!
We´ve had several experiences this last week that have really strengthened my testimony that the Lord knows us and knows our intentions. On Friday, after we had decided to extend more baptismal invitations, we were doing contacts. We met Juanita, and older woman who attends the Catholic church but has never been baptized. We taught her about the example of baptism that Jesus Christ gave us, and she told us she wants to be baptized in a river! She asked us if we could help her do this. We told her sure, that we would keep coming back to teach her. I asked Hermana Sargent if someone can really be baptized in a river and she said elders have done it before. How cool would that be?! We´re excited! A few hours later, we met Estella. She goes to a different church, and showed us these worksheets that she´s doing to prepare her for her baptism in this church. We asked her if she wanted to follow the example of Jesus Christ and she said yes and she wants us to keep visiting her! The Lord really, truly knows each of His children and has a time prepared for them to hear the gospel. Hermana said that when she started doing these worksheets, she didn´t know she was preparing to be baptized in a different church! We´re excited to keep visiting her. When we´re diligent, the Lord puts people in our path.
Funny story. . . Saturday we were doing contacts and clapped at a house (here you either ring from the gate, or if there´s not a bell, clap outside the houses. It´s fun!) The employee came to the door and we asked if she wanted to hear a message. She said she was sorry, but the front door was locked and she couldn´t come out to talk to us because she didn´t have the key. We invited her to church and walked to the next house. Not thirty seconds later, Hermana Sargent grabbed my arm and said, ¨Look! Isn´t that the lady we just contacted?¨ Sure enough, she was walking down the sidewalk. Hermana stomped her foot and said, ´´Í can´t believe she lied to us!¨´ We both started waving to her. The best part was that she turned around and saw us waving to her, recognized that we knew she had lied to us, and waved back! I was laughing so hard I was crying and Hermana was so mad! We´re pretty used to people doing this, but the fact that she waved to us was hilarious! Great times on the mission!
We continue to teach Antonio, our 86-year-old investigator. A week or so ago when we were there, he sang us this romantic song and played the guitar. Then he told us he wanted dolls made of us! Whoa! He´s a very nice guy, just lonely. We taught him about the Word of Wisdom, but he can´t understand why we don´t drink coffee. He keeps telling us that he always drinks a cup of coffee before bed to help him sleep. I´m not sure how caffeine helps him sleep, but anyway. He´s coming to church, but keeps telling us that he wants to wait until December to be baptized. We´re really working with him to help resolve any doubts so he can be baptized in the next couple of weeks!
Well, that´s about it for this week. Thanks for your prayers and support! I hope you´re all doing well and I send you my love! I know this church is true and I know the Lord knows and loves each of us. I´m understanding more and more the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the power it has in our lives. I hope you all enjoy the rest of your summer!
Con mucho amor y mis mejores pensamientos, Hermana Cozzens
P.S. The photo that´s attached is with twins of a woman we contacted! The twins were so identical that we asked if we could take a picture with them! They were running around and playing in the dirt and oh so cute!
Hola! Como estan? Ojala que ustedes estan disfrutando su verano! I hope you´re all enjoying your summer! I can´t believe it´s the end of July. When we´re busy, the time flies! Katy, thanks so much for your e-mail! I´m so glad you found a job! I hope you love it! I never had classes in a portable, but I can imagine it would be a grand adventure! Laura, thanks for the e-mail! The pictures are so cute! I loved seeing them! Are you going to photograph the wedding as well? I hope you get to work in a great place next year! Oh, I love the movie Emma! It´s one of my favorites! I´m totally up for watching it in a year! Melissa, I got your letter last week! It was so fun to see Russell because I´ve heard so much about him! You look so cute together! I´m so excited for you both! Keep me posted on wedding plans! I would love to see pictures!
I´m loving the mission right now! We´ve had such a wonderful week and seen the Lord bless us so many times! The most exciting news is that Gloria was baptized on Saturday night! It was a very simple, but beautiful, program. Her son, Osvaldo (he was baptized about a month ago), baptized her. We had quite the adventure trying to heat the water with these little heaters that were made for a bucket of water rather than an entire font! After about an hour of Hermana Sargent and I dangling two of these heaters from extension cords into the font, we decided it wasn´t doing much good. So the water was pretty cold for them, but they were really sweet and didn´t complain about it. Osvaldo went into the font and then held out his hand for his mom. They were both pretty nervous. As he raised his hand to the square and prepared to said the prayer, he looked at Hermana and I and smiled and took a deep breath. I was so proud of him! He has come full-circle in the past three months. It was a very tender moment to watch him baptize his mom, and then hug her after she came up out of the water. I was so happy to be a part of it! Hermana and I sang an arrangement of ¨I Am a Child of God¨ and Gloria also bore a beautiful testimony. There weren´t a ton of people there, but I think Gloria liked it better that way.
We have two investigators with baptismal dates right now: Renato and Antonio. Yesterday after Sacrament Meeting we were disappointed and worried because Renato wasn´t there. Just as we were saying how we were going to go visit him after church, he walks in! What a blessing! He has soccer practice on some Sunday mornings, so he came a little later. He´s such a good young man. At first he was a little unsure if he wanted to be baptized, but last Tuesday night when we visited him, he told us he wanted us to mark TWO chapters in the Book of Mormon for him to read instead of just one. We couldn´t believe it! His date is set for August 7th and we´re really excited about it! There´s a lot of planning that goes into baptisms, but it´s worth every bit of it!
I taught my first lesson in English since the MTC this week! Our first night together, Hermana Sargent and I were contacting and met Bryson, a guy from Oregon who is living here with his family. He´s part of a church/mission group that is translating the Bible into tribal languages and then teaching these people about Christ. He told us we could come visit him and we had an appointment for Saturday morning. Saturday morning we were doing companion study when the phone rang. I answered it, not knowing who it was, then he said, ¨Hi, this is Bryson.¨ I about fell out of my chair! We NEVER have investigators call us! Or it´s really rare. Anyway, Hermana heard and we were both so excited! He told us something had come up for them that morning, but asked if we could come back that afternoon. Of course we quickly cleared the agenda for them. Anyone who calls and actually asks us to come can have an entire afternoon of our time! So we went and visited with him and his wife, Mindy. They´re here indefinitely because they don´t know how long it will take them to translate the Bible, and they have to learn Spanish first. They are really nice! We (another blessing) found an English Book of Mormon on one of our bookshelves and had that with us, but didn´t end up sharing it with them. We shared with them the first lesson, kind of struggling to speak in English. It´s so funny how my mind has converted to Spanish! Bryson then asked if they could share their message with us. He basically summarized the Bible for us. After Hermana and I left, we both said how we felt the power behind our testimony. I could see the understanding in Bryson and Mindy´s faces as well. I know they felt something. We invited them to church as well. We´re going to go back and visit them again this week. It might not be their time to hear the gospel, but we´re planting seeds! And I´m sure they enjoy having someone to talk to in English!
We had a funny experience with Roberto this week. He believes firmly in evolution because he has the Encarta program on his computer and that´s the basis of all his knowledge. There are pictures of fossils in this program and so Roberto doesn´t believe that Adam and Eve were created by God; rather, he believes we evolved from monkeys. He believes in the Bible, and we read with him in Genesis where it says that God created man in His image, but he still doesn´t believe it. Saturday morning he was waiting for us with pictures of fossils pulled up on his computer. It was kind of comical. We just testified to him that we are created in the image of our Heavenly Father. We challenged him to read a chapter in the Book of Mormon on faith and then pray about it. He didn´t come to church yesterday, so we´ll see what happens this week. He´s such a good man, but the tendency to believe everything that is scientific is hard to overcome!
Well, that´s about all the news here. I have a strong testimony that the Lord knows each of us and has a plan for each of us. He is at the helm of this work and it will be done in His time and in His way. I love you all and hope you´re doing well! I would love to hear from you!
We don't really have a side bar for missionaries so I thought I would put it in as it's own post! :)
Santhi's son, Jordan Martin, has been called to serve in the New York, New York mission!
He will be speaking at their church services in the building located at 245 S. 600 E. in Springville (Southwest of the Jr. High) on Sunday, Aug 8, 2010 (9am). If you have any questions feel free to e-mail Santhi @ email@example.com
Hola! Happy 4th of July! I hope you all celebrated well and ate tons of hot dogs and hamburgers! Barbecues here in Paraguay are quite different, but nonetheless extremely delicious. Paraguay was playing in the mundial (the worldwide soccer competition in Africa) on Saturday, so the members we ate lunch with grilled meat and sausage and it was riquisimo! Mmm! Aubrey and Skyler, I have an interesting piece of news for your dad. Yesterday I met one of his mission companions! His name is Brother Privette and he and his family are from Atlanta, Georgia. His first wife who died of cancer was the sister of the bishop in the ward where I´m serving, and Brother Privette brought his new wife and family here to meet all their cousins and other family members. He recognized my name! What a small world in the church! He had fond memories of his mission in Spain.
Things are going really well! Osvaldo and Javier are champs. They received the Aaronic Priesthood yesterday! Woohoo! During the Sacrament, Osvaldo had the task of standing in front of the door during the prayer. He was so proud! I´m so proud of them! They have overcome so much to get to this point! They´re very excited to bless and prepare the Sacrament. There are a lot of activities for the youth coming up, and both Osvaldo and Javier are excited to go. Gloria, their mother, is going to be baptized on July 24th! Hooray! She´s come to church three times, and tonight we´re going to officially begin teaching her. She´s seen some difficult times, but I admire her strength and her love for her children. Yesterday her phone went off in the middle of Sunday School and she bolted up and out of there so fast! She didn´t realize that the tile in the church makes it echo and talks really loud anyway, so I´m sure all of Asuncion could hear her conversation. My companion jerked her head at me to go out and tell her to be quiet! Osvaldo left his class and told his mom that she needed to go way away from the church so nobody could hear. It was actually really funny! They´re a unique family, but are wonderful.
Church yesterday was wonderful! It was testimony meeting, and the Spirit was very strong. Many members testified of how they have seen the hand of the Lord in their lives this past month. I think if we are constantly asking ourselves that question, we will be very humble people. We had four investigators in church yesterday! Our best yet! Gloria, Roberto, Antonio, and Renato are our progressing investigators. Roberto is the man who has cancer. The other day we went and visited him and he had a gun sitting on the table. My companion picked it up and Roberto quickly told her to put it back down because it was loaded! Whoa! He took it all apart and very proudly told us some military stories. He is so good! When we picked him up yesterday for church, he saluted us, shook our hands, and proceeded to complain the whole way to the church because he hates wearing ties. Oh the trials in our lives! But he was a good sport about it. He seemed to enjoy church.
Saturday Hermana and I had a good companionship inventory. I´m pretty sure she´s going to go to another area next week when changes roll around. I don´t want her to go because we have a good rhythm established, but I´m completely willing to do the will of the Lord. She told me that I´m ready to have a local companion to ¨go solo¨ without her. Her confidence really inspired me. Sometimes it´s overwhelming because there´s so much to learn and keep in mind all the time, but my prayers have become more fervent and if there´s one thing I´m sure of, it´s that Heavenly Father answers our prayers and helps us with the things we need. I know He gives us hard experiences in our lives to help us learn and grow. It´s amazing for me to look back on these three months and see how much I´ve learned and grown. Sometimes I can´t believe it, and I definitely can´t imagine my life without the mission. I think back on my life before the mission, and it was great, but there are so many things that can only be experienced on a mission. I´m so grateful for this privilege!
Last week we didn´t find a ton of new investigators, but we did meet Andresa, a wonderful woman in her sixties. She has one living child out of seven pregnancies. What a trial! She also told us that her daughter lost her first child fourteen years ago. She was so cheerful, though, as she told us that through it all, the Lord blessed their family and she knows that Heavenly Father knows and loves her family. What an inspiration! We shared the Plan of Salvation with her, and the Spirit was very strong. I hope we can continue teaching her! On this note, I greatly admire the faith of the people here. They can see that their trials and difficulties are ultimately for their good. I have a testimony of this as well. I know the Lord won´t test us above that which we can handle, and our trials will stretch us and help us learn and grow. We are better for them!
Well, that´s all for this week. Changes are next week, so I won´t have another chance to write until Thursday. I hope you´re all doing well and enjoying the summer! I would love to hear from you all and hear how things are going! Taunia, did you find a new job? Are you and Kirk doing well? I think of you all often and am so grateful for your good examples to me. This Church is true. Heavenly Father knows and loves us.
No puedo creer que yo he estado en Paraguay por casi dos meses! Increible es! Grandma Cozzens, thank you so much for the e-mail! I did get your letter three weeks ago and I have been SO slow in writing you back! P-day flies by so fast! It takes about two weeks for a letter to get to me from the U.S. Not too bad! Jon, congrats to you and Megan! I´m so excited for you both! Oh my goodness, Miss, YOU´RE ENGAGED! I´m so excited for you! I wish I could tell you this in person, but I love you so much! Please send me wedding announcements! I´m so glad that you´re happy and I´m sure Russell is wonderful! I knew when I left for my mission that my cousins (my best friends!) wouldn´t stay single for long. I´m so excited for you all, though, and the wonderful things that are happening in your lives.
We´ve had a good week. Osvaldo and Javier are still set for their baptisms on June 26th. They´re going to have their interviews with our district leader this week. It´s amazing to see the change in their lives. They tell us all the time how much happier and content they are. We love spending time with them! Gloria (their mother) is always feeding us and giving us things. Last night, we stopped by their house for just a minute. All their family and friends were there because it has been six months since their grandpa died. We were really intimidated because they´re all Catholic and didn´t really want to go in, Two of Osvaldo´s uncles came out and told us that we are practically their family, too, because we´ve done so much to help Osvaldo. We told them that it´s the Spirit and Osvaldo´s efforts that have made the change. It´s so great to see Osvaldo and Javier in church every week with their nice clothes and ties! I want to see them passing the Sacrament!
The Lord really does work miracles in our lives. On Saturday, we were doing contacts and getting a little frustrated because nobody wanted to hear our message. We knocked a door and found a wonderful family! It´s been such a long time since we´ve taught a father, mother, and kids. Duglas, Leila, and Lyla were so receptive to our message! They´re Catholic, but very receptive to other doctrines. It never ceases to amaze me how people´s countenances change when we share the First Vision. We´re going back to visit them on Saturday. Leila wants to learn how to cook, so my companion is going to teach her. People always smile when Hermana tells them she is a professional cook. We left their house with huge grins on our faces!
This morning we had a zone activity. We talked about the Atonement. One of the elders read this quote from Sheldon F. Child that I really like: ¨If all you young missionaries truly understood the Atonement of Jesus Christ, there would be no need for mission rules.¨ We were all kind of silent for a minute. It´s true, though! The Atonement is the basis of everything we do and are. Jesus Christ is the center of our doctrine. My testimony of His sacrifice has grown so strong over the past two months! I can see how the Atonement can personally apply in the lives of every person I teach. It´s amazing!
We continue to teach Chela, the wonderful Catholic woman. Last week we taught her about prophets and authority. We read lots of scriptures from the Bible and she understood! My companion and I high-fived each other when she left the room because we were so excited! She understood! We also met two women named Pablina and Teodocia. Both are single mothers with many children. They were very receptive to our message and I´m so excited to get started teaching them!
That´s about all the news here. Thank you all for your thoughts, prayers, and letters! I love hearing from you. I know this church is true. I see the hand of the Lord in my life and in the lives of those we´re teaching every day. I know He knows each of us personally and loves us immensely. Only through repentance can we find peace and happiness in our lives!
Con muchisimo amor, Hermana Cozzens
P.S. I´m attaching more pictures! Hooray! The first is Osvaldo with Hermana and I. Javier was down below taking the picture. The second is Osvaldo with Hermana and I again. He is so great! The third is Hermana and I with the elders in our zone after the zone activity this morning. The elders are so great! They work so hard and have a special spirit about them. The fourth is Hermana and I with the Paredes family yesterday after lunch. ChiChi is the young man, Roli is in back, and Dulce is the young woman. Roli is the aunt of ChiChi and Dulce and they´re so great!
Hola! Espero que o esta todo bien por todos de ustedes. Things are just great here in Paraguay. I can´t believe it´s the beginning of June already! Wow! Brittany Wyckhuyse, congrats on your wedding this weekend! I hope it´s a great day for you and Mark!
Today we studied with our district then played soccer. The elders and my companion are really good! I´m still learning the rules, but I did manage to score a couple of goals. I´m realizing what a big deal it is here! We also went to the mall and ate together. In the mission, you work hard when it´s time to work hard, but you can definitely play hard, eat hard, and rest hard when it´s time to do so. I´m learning just to put my full energies into whatever I´m doing! The new elders in my district are so great! Two of them only have six months in the mission, so I don´t feel quite so new.
Osvaldo and Javier are progressing like champs! The bishop thought it was best to move their baptismal date to June 26th. Osvaldo is nervous to bear his testimony to the ward after the baptism, so we told him that he doesn´t have to. They´re such good boys. They´ve really had it hard these past few years, but they are so kind and sincere and would do anything for anyone. It´s amazing to see the change that can come into people´s lives. Gloria, their mother, has been reading the pamphlets, too. She didn´t come to church yesterday, but is going to next week. She wants to be baptized as well. They´re so great!
This past week Hermana Ortiz (one of the women in the ward) invited us over for hot chocolate. We spent an evening talking to her about her husband´s conversion. She has been a member her entire life, but her husband only for the past five years. It was an amazing story! It was a testimony to me that the Lord prepares people to hear the gospel at a specific time. He knows each of us and our individual circumstances and has a plan for us. This is the reason it´s important for us to continue to attend church after baptism--to learn from others and grow together.
In teaching Osvaldo, I´ve really gained a testimony that Heavenly Father loves each of His children so much! Osvaldo has done a lot of things in his life that he´s not proud of and that he has changed, but Heavenly Father loves Him the same. A couple weeks ago Osvaldo and his family attended the baptism of Ethel Ortiz. During the music and the baptism, I looked over at Osvaldo and he was crying. It was in this moment that I realized how much love the Lord has for each of us. The gospel is for everyone. A person doesn´t have to be perfect to be baptized--they just have to be willing to repent and change and be dedicated to a different way.
This past week we taught a woman named Lidis. We taught her the message of the Restoration, and when we asked her if she thought Joseph Smith really could have seen Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, she nodded without hesitation. It´s amazing how the Spirit can testify to people.
I know this gospel is true! I´m so happy to be serving the Lord and sharing this message with the people of Paraguay. They are so kind, humble, and willing to receive it. I´m so grateful for all the experiences I´ve had in my life that have prepared me to be a missionary, and for the way my mission is preparing me for the rest of my life. I´m grateful for all of you and your examples. I hope and pray that all is well with you. I would love to hear from you!
Con muchisimo amor, Hermana Cozzens
P.S. Dad, thank you for the letter! I got it today.
This week marks one month here in Paraguay! I feel like I´m starting to get more comfortable and more adjusted to everything. I especially feel like I´m making more friends in the ward and getting more comfortable talking to everyone.
Katy, thanks so much for your e-mail and your advice! I know school, work, and life can be so stressful sometimes, but you have such a wonderful attitude. More now than at any other time in my life I know that we´re children of a Heavenly Father who loves us and wants us to be happy and will help us!
We´ve had a good week. We visited Ester, a woman that Hermana Valente taught before I came. She committed to be baptized, but didn´t come to church yesterday. We´re still hoping that she is ready to be baptized and willing to work towards baptism, but it´s difficult when we can´t catch her at home.
The biggest miracle of our week came on Thursday night. We contacted a woman named Gloria on the street and she invited us to her house to share a message. We arrived and instead of teaching her, her son Osvaldo sat down and started telling us how he has been involved in drugs and other things and wants to stop and change. We couldn´t believe it! The Lord really does prepare people to hear the gospel. We bought him a lot of chewy candies because he´s really nervous trying to stop consuming. We´re calling him every day to see how things are going. He has set goals for how he wants to change, and he came to church yesterday! The young men in the ward were very welcoming and he said he felt very peaceful. We´re very optimistic. I know that the gospel can bless his life and the life of his family. We´re going back to teach him about repentance tonight.
Last week I had an interview with President Callan. It was wonderful! We´re interviewed regularly every six weeks. He told me that through diligence, charity, and obedience, I will have success. Right now I´m not worried about the number of lessons we teach or the number of baptisms we have. I just want to be a good missionary. I told Hermana Valente this and she told me that I am a good missionary because that´s my desire. I just have to be patient with myself and know that the language, knowledge of the scriptures, and everything else will come with time and practice. President Callan also told me to really focus on seeing the effects of the Atonement in my life. I´ve always had a testimony of the Savior´s sacrifice for us, but now more than ever it is so real! I know that every frustration I feel, every hard moment He has felt. He understands! That´s my thought this week--the Lord has a path prepared for us and He will show us the way and guide us. President told me that his vision for every missionary in our mission is to leave with a deeper relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and to be truly converted for life. This is what I want!
Well, we have to run errands and things. Thank you all for your e-mails, prayers, and thoughts! I pray all is well with you and would love to hear from you!
Tomorrow marks three weeks being here in Paraguay! It doesn´t really feel like it. I´m really trying to soak everything in, to learn from and enjoy every moment because I know my mission is going to fly by!
Ben, Marcie, Melanie, and baby--thank you so much for your e-mail! I´m so excited for your new little one! Marcie, I hope the rest of your pregnancy is great and that she arrives safely! Congratulations! Ben, thank you for your advice. My companion is kind of a legend in the mission because she has a very unique personality and really relates well to the people. Sometimes it´s hard to let my personality really come through because I can´t fully express myself in Spanish yet. Every day, though, I get more accustomed to everything.
Every day, every week Hermana Valente and I see more miracles in the mission. Last Wednesday we met Marcela, the sister of a young woman who received the discussions about three years ago. When we taught her the first lesson, it was amazing! The Spirit was so strong! I could actually see a change in her countenance. We haven´t been able to catch her at home again, but I hope we can this week. We´re also teaching a woman named Sonia. She has a seven-year-old daughter and lives with her mother. Her mother isn´t too keen on her taking the discussions, but Sonia really has strong faith. We taught her the first lesson last week. She told us that she feels like she has been searching for a church that has the same order that Christ established when He was on the earth. We jumped at that! She really felt the Spirit as we taught her about Joseph Smith and the restoration of Christ´s church. It was a huge testimony to me that if the people are ready and the missionaries are humble, the Spirit will do the teaching.
Another wonderful experience happened yesterday. We were doing contacts and hadn´t found anybody who wanted to hear our message. Hermana Valente said, ¨We´re going to get a lesson, Hermana!¨The very next door we knocked on was Lis, a 21-year-old woman who is watching her house while her parents are in Spain. We taught her about the Restoration, also. She said she has attended the Catholic church, but feels like she is in a rut and looking for something else. Every time we teach the First Vision, I see the countenances of the people change. It´s amazing! Lis is really prepared to hear the gospel. We´re going back to teach her tomorrow and I´m really excited!
There are so many miracles in the mission. One miracle, for me, is that two sisters from completely different backgrounds can come together in a companionship and teach in unity. Hermana Valente and I have become friends. I admire her so much! I want to know the scriptures like she does, to teach with the clarity and power that she does. I know that the Lord put us together for a reason. She is helping me set a pattern for my mission, to see that it´s all about teaching and loving the people.
We´re doing several fun activities in the ward this week. Friday is an activity for Mother´s Day (it´s always May 15 in Paraguay) and then Sunday we´re having a Family Home Evening for the young men and young women because they´re kind of divided in the ward. We´re really trying to work with the members and get everybody involved in the wonderful work of the gospel!
I want to share a scripture really quick. In Doctrine and Covenants 6, the Lord tells Oliver Cowdery to remember the witness that he first received, to remember that the Lord helped him in his time of need. The more I testify of the truths of eternal families and the Restoration, the more I know it´s true. But we have to rely on our first witness, our first answer. It takes a lot of faith, but our faith is rewarded by an increased testimony and conviction that can´t be denied. I also know that the Lord answers our prayers. He is ready and willing to bless us if we will rely on Him. I´ve never poured out my heart in prayer as much as I have here in Paraguay! And I know that the Lord continues to answer those prayers. He loves us all!
Well, I have to go. I hope everything is well with all of you! I love you and appreciate all your prayers and support. I love getting your e-mails and pictures! Thanks for everything!
¿Como estan? Things are going really well here. Tomorrow marks two weeks of being in Paraguay. The first week was really slow, but this last week flew. Rowena, thank you so much for your email! It was very uplifting for me. I know you´ll figure out the best thing for you and Joseph. And you´re right--the Lord does guide us to where we need to be. I´ve felt that very strongly here. A shout-out to Emily Galloway as well--HAPPY BIRTHDAY yesterday! I hope you had a wonderful day.
This past week has been good. Hermana Valente and I are still kind of getting adjusted to each other. The culture here is very different, but I like it. I feel like my Spanish is coming along pretty well--I learn new words every day.
A little about our investigators. We weren´t able to catch Eladia, the woman who came to church with us last Sunday, at home this week, but we happened to run into her yesterday. (I don´t think it was a coincidence). She told us that she liked church last week, but wasn´t sure she could join a church different from the Catholic church her parents attended and that she was raised in. We´re going to go by and see her this week, but it was disappointing.
We have found several new families this week! Mirian is a young mother with two children and she was so incredibly open to the Plan of Salvation! We weren´t able to catch her at home for a second time, either, but we´re still hopeful for this week. Catalina is another young mother with five little children. She is so sweet! We really want to find a family to teach and baptize.
We were feeling a little discouraged as the weekend began because we were getting many follow-up appointments. We´ve been praying a lot to witness miracles, to find those who are ready to hear the gospel. We´ve been working a lot with Ana and Micaela, the two young women who were baptized not too long ago and their grandmother. We helped them get to church yesterday! And the family Chilavert (Justina and Andres) came as well! We had a family home evening at their house with some members on Thursday and made two other visits there. I wanted to cry because I was so happy when I saw them come in! And, the greatest thing was that one of the members brought a friend to church who is very interested and lives in OUR area! So great! Her name is Sonia. We have an appointment to teach her on Wednesday. We´re very hopeful for her, and I hope we´re able to prepare her for baptism. We really want to baptize someone in the next couple of weeks! I know the Lord hears and answers our prayers. Sometimes we have to exercise faith and patience, but after the trial of our faith will come the blessings. Hermana and I witnessed that very specifically yesterday. It was amazing!
This week I´ve really tried to focus on bettering myself so that I can more effectively love and serve the people here. In district meeting on Tuesday, we received copies of a talk about purifying ourselves. It was written by a stake president to his children serving missions. It talks about making goals for 40 days for purifying ourselves. I made my own list, and each day I try to improve a little bit. Each day I see glimpses of how my mission is going to bless my future life and I´m so grateful for this opportunity!
I´m including some photos. (They might actually be out of this order, but hopefully you can figure out which caption goes with which). The first is my first hour or so in Asuncion, with President Callan and Hermana Callan. The Asuncion Temple is gorgeous! The second is me eating my first empanada! The third is Hermana Valente (my trainer) and I in our apartment beside the American flag. The fourth is Hermana and I goofing off (as much as missionaries can goof off--haha). We went to eat lunch with the Alvarez family last week to celebrate Vanessa´s birthday. The fifth is Hermana, Vanessa, and me. Vanessa is 19 and often goes on splits with us. She is great! The sixth is Hermana, me, and Vanessa again with the cake that Hermana made for Vanessa´s birthday. Hermana is famous for the delicious cakes she makes! Haha. The seventh is me by a sign on the street that says, ¨Dios es Bueno,¨which means God is good. Hermana and I thought it was really funny. The eighth was taken last night. This is me, Hermana Valente, and Leila, a member in the ward. Hermana often cooks with the members, and they made a cake last night. Leila went on splits with us, and we enjoyed the chocolate cake afterwards. So fun! I´m going to try and include photos every week. The people here are great!
Thank you all for your prayers and thoughts. I love it here in Paraguay. I´m still adjusting, but the people here feel like another family. They would do anything for the missionaries. I pray for you all! Hope all is well and I would love to hear from you!
First of all, thank you Katy, Skyler, and my family for your emails. I so appreciate your thoughts and prayers!
These first five days have been the biggest adjustment of my life! I´m adjusting to the culture, the language, the mission life, having a companion who speaks no English, whew! What an adventure! I´m trying to stay positive in it all, though, and remember that the Lord called me here for a specific purpose. He also put Hermana Valente and I together for a specific purpose. It´s going to take me awhile to get accustomed to everything, but I know that things will work out. I know this is where I´m supposed to be.
Hermana and I are getting to know each other. We´re getting used to each other´s personalities and teaching together and everything. The work of the mission is stressful, so it´s good when we can come home and find something to laugh about at the end of every day.
We have several investigators right now. Eladia came to church yesterday! It was great! We´ve also been working with two younger girls, Mikaela who is 11 and Ana who is 13. I´m still not quite clear on their family situation, but they were baptized not too long ago and their family doesn´t want to help them get to church. My companion is so diligent in working with them. Mikaela came to church with us yesterday, and last night we went to a member´s house and picked up some clothes for her so she´ll have some skirts and shoes to wear to church. The people here have such faith! They live in small houses with tile or dirt floors and have very little in the way of worldly possessions, but the gospel means everything to them. They are such examples to me!
On Friday I met Juan. He talks nonstop! He invited us in, fixed us popcorn and juice, and proceeded to tell us that his encyclopedias contain all the knowledge he needs. Hermana was getting frustrated, but I thought it was hilarious. I was trying so hard not to laugh! We tried to get him to come to church, but he had all kinds of excuses. What a funny guy. I think we´re going back to visit him this week. The key to it all is getting investigators to make and keep their commitments. If they just take the leap of faith and read a chapter in the Book of Mormon, they feel the peace! It´s so great!
Saturday night the elders in our ward had a baptism of an 8yearold boy. It was really neat to go to. This is what it´s all about! Eladia is definitely our most promising investigator right now, and I hope she can progress to baptism!
Spanish is coming pretty well. Sometimes Hermana Valente gets frustrated with me because I don´t catch every word she says, but she will say it again. One of the members at church yesterday told me that in three months, I´ll be speaking and understanding great. I sure hope so! I can understand most of what people say, it´s just speaking back to them that´s hard! But every day I learn a little more. Hermana and I taught Sunday School yesterday, and one of the sisters gave me a hug afterwards, told me that she loved me, and told me that I´m doing well learning Spanish. It meant so much! My branch president in the MTC told us that the people would love us for trying to learn their language, and it´s so true! They really are so humble and friendly. I have a hard time remembering their names and especially the street names and directions. I just have to be patient with myself. I think after this first change, this first six weeks, I´ll be feeling more confident.
Well, I have to go. Our time is almost up. Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers! I definitely need them. The mission is hard, but I can´t tell you how powerful the Spirit can be in a lesson, the light that comes into our investigators´ eyes when they feel the truth of the message. So great! Pray for my companion and I, that we can have a strong companionship and work well together. I hope all is going well for each of you and I would love to hear from you!
I have so much I could tell you! On Tuesday night, I stayed with President and Sister Callan in their home because I hadn´t met my companion yet. I got nine hours of sleep and it was so nice! Yesterday morning, I went with Elder Paladines, the other new missionary, and several of the elders who work in the office to sign our official paperwork. We enter Paraguay on a 90-day tourist visa, so we have to get an extended visa to allow us to stay here. After that, we headed back to the office and I met my companion, my trainer. Your first companion is always called your trainer.
Her name is Hermana Valente. I had heard from the President and every other missionary I talked to that she is the hardest worker in our mission and an excellent missionary. I was really excited to meet her! I´ll never forget when I first saw her sitting in the conference room. Here, all the women greet by kissing each other on each cheek and hugging. It´s different, but I like it! Very personable. Anyway, she hugged me and then the President talked to us all for a few minutes. We watched a few videos about companionship inventory, and about halfway through, she reached over and put her arm around me. I love her already! She is relentlessly dedicated to sharing the gospel. She is from Argentina and speaks very little English, so she´s helping me learn Spanish and I´m helping her learn English. There is a test that non-English speaking missionaries take at the end of their missions that helps them get some English credits or something. This morning I helped her study and it was kind of fun! She is very serious, but I´ve gotten her to laugh and few times and we already really enjoy each other. President told me on Tuesday that he has known that we should be companions for a long time and he felt a great peace about it. I know she will teach me how to be a wonderful missionary. She relates so well to the people! I admire her so much!
The culture here is so different! It´s probably going to take me awhile to get used to it. Everyone is very friendly, though, which can be good and bad. When we´re contacting, we don´t talk to men on the streets--just women. If we go into a house where there is a man and a woman, we can talk to them both. Just for our safety. Hermana and I have a goal to do 20 contacts a day. The Spanish is coming pretty easily, but I don´t know how in world I´m ever going to learn my way around here! The directions are so confusing! Hermana says that´s why there are two of us--I do the contact and share the message, and she writes down the directions. We make a good team that way!
I haven´t learned hardly any Guarani yet--it´s the Spanish dialect they speak here and also the currency for their money. Hermana Valente says my Spanish is really good, and she is so patient with helping me practice it! We actually understand each other pretty well. I guess the best and most sure-fire way to learn Spanish is to live among a people who don´t speak anything but Spanish!
I´ve met several members already. Yesterday we and two of the elders had lunch with the Abuelos Grau. They´re long-time members who are originally from Spain, but moved here after the war, I think. They were so nice! Abuelo Grau liked that I was from North Carolina because he has been to Atlanta, Georgia and Washington D.C. Speaking of eating lunch, the food is great here! Normally, the people here eat a small meal for breakfast, a HUGE meal at lunch, and then just a little something for dinner. It´s great compared to the MTC! I drink so much water when we´re out teaching and contacting that I´m not really hungry at night. We kind of just snack. The food isn´t Mexican or very spicy--it´s more like noodles and meat. I like it. It´s really hot and humid right now, so I´m trying to drink tons of water. The people are so nice--they take pity on two sweating sister missionaries and invite us in to drink water. We then share a message with them, of course. Here, most people pour the water into a glass and drink it that way. You never see anyone drink directly out of a bottle. Speaking of that, we always drink bottled water. The tap water here is bad.
Shayla, I met one of your converts last night! She is less-active now, so we went and shared a scripture with her. My companion says her name is Gandelaria. She opened up her Book of Mormon and there was a paper with ¨Hermana Ingalls¨and ¨Hermana Simmons¨ written on it. I told her I knew you, and she was really happy. She actually went to the Jehovah´s Witness church last Sunday, and her friend who is a Jehovah´s Witness was there when we got there. ¨She was very open to us, though, and committed to come to church this Sunday. I hope she does!
I also met another member family, but I can´t remember their names. It´s two parents and an almost 17-year-old daughter. Her birthday is on Sunday, so Hermana Valente and I are going to make a cake for her today. Hermana Valente went to cooking school before her mission! Anyway, Vanessa is the 17-year-old and she came with us as we taught two lessons and shared the scripture with Gandelaria yesterday. It is very powerful to have a member there to bear testimony.
That´s pretty much it so far. I´m hoping that it will cool off soon because it is SO hot! I´m pretty sure I sweated off five pounds yesterday. Probably not, but it felt like it! I hope it doesn´t take me too long to get accustomed. I feel like the language is coming along. People are very patient with me. I already love the people here. They are so humble and kind and really, truly so ready to hear the gospel. All but one of our contacts yesterday gave us their names and addresses. So great!
Oh, last night we went by the church. I met a few more of the members. I always love going to the chapels in different towns because they´re always a constant. The Church is true no matter where you go! The chapel here is very simple--just cushioned chairs and no pews. The people here live in very humble circumstances, but would do anything to help you.
Grandma Vesa, thank you for your e-mail! I really appreciate it! I hope your trip to Utah is wonderful. In the MTC, I only had half an hour every week, but here I have an hour. So I have more time to read and respond to your e-mails! I also have a couple new addresses that I´ll be forwarding.
Thank you all again for your good thoughts and prayers! I know that this work is true, and I´m trying to lose myself in it. My goals for this six weeks are to learn as much Spanish as I can and to really learn to love the people.
My p-day is normally on Monday, but I have one today because I just got here. Oh, another interesting bit of info is that we´re washing our own clothes! Hermana Valente kind of laughed at my surprised expression when she showed me the washtub and scrubber, and the lines strung outside to dry the clothes. Oh the adventures that await me!
Well, my time is about up. I hope everything is going well for all of you and I would love to hear from you!
YO ESTOY IN PARAGUAY! After over 24 hours of traveling, I arrived about 10:30 this morning. President Callan and his wife were at the airport to pick us up. There was another Elder on the flight with me from Argentina to Asuncion. The first place we went after the airport was the temple. It was great! I met a couple of the members, and I already love the people here. I´m so excited to get started! Everything is going really well! Thank you for all your prayers and support.
I can't believe I've been here for eight weeks today! The most exciting news is. . . I'm leaving on Monday! I'll be in Paraguay in a week! I thought I would be incredibly nervous, but I'm SO excited to get into the mission field and get started on this great work! The more I learn about it, the more I have a testimony that nothing can stop it. God is at the helm, and He directs it all. Anyway, I travel for about 24 hours, and should arrive in Paraguay mid-morning on Tuesday. I'm so excited! Here is my mailing address in Paraguay:
Hermana (or Sister) Meredith Anne Cozzens Paraguay Asuncion Mission Casilla de Correo 818 Asuncion Paraguay
I hear that mail in Paraguay isn't very good, so people suggest putting stickers or taping pictures of Jesus or Mary on envelopes or packages to ensure they arrive. I look forward to hearing from you!
This week has been amazing. There's so much I can share, but I'll try and hit the highlights. Hermana Cooper and I, along with Elders Wallace and Hendrickson from our district, were selected to demonstrate how to begin teaching for the new missionaries in their large group meetings tonight. We went to a training on Monday that was so helpful! In the first seven to ten minutes with an investigator, I'm learning how important it is for them to learn to trust me and my companion and to feel comfortable with us. Really, though, the main goal is to help them want to come closer to Christ. Sometimes with the focus on Spanish and different details of teaching, that fact is pushed to the back of my mind. I realize, though, that everything I do and say should help my investigators feel Christ's love for them and want to come closer to Him. I'm so excited to teach tonight! It's going to be a great experience.
I want to share some scriptures that my companion and I have really relied on this week. It's 3 Nephi 22:4-10. There's actually a song based on these verses called "My Kindness Will Not Depart From Thee," and it's beautiful. Verse 4 reminds us to "fear not" because the Lord is by our sides. Verse 7 is really similar to Section 121 in the Doctrine and Covenants where the Lord comforts the prophet Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail. It says, "For a small moment have I forsaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee." This is beautiful! I know that the Lord really does gather us "with great mercies." He knows everything about us--our wants, needs, desires. His plan of happiness is for all His children, but the miracle of it is, the plan is also individualized according to what will help each of us grow the most and become as much like Christ as we possibly can. I know that humility leads to submission, which is key to seeing our desires mesh with God's desires and create beautiful miracles in our lives. Verse 8 tells us that "with everlasting kindness, will I [the Lord] have mercy on thee." He really is merciful and so incredibly loving! Finally, verse 10 is the premise:"For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee." I know this is true! If we are obedient and submissive, we will see miracles wrought in our lives.
Yesterday, we taught in the TRC for the last time. I said so many silent prayers throughout the day that it would be a good experience and it was AMAZING! We taught Hermana Ortiz, a recent convert, (we've taught her once before; sweetest lady ever!) the Plan of Salvation with the law of tithing. She told us that she had family who had died without receiving the gospel, and wanted them to enjoy the blessings. We told her that she could be baptized for her deceased family members in the temple. The Spirit was so strong! It's amazing the connections that come to your mind. Then, I had the thought that we should explain that the law of tithing is one of the interview questions for a temple recommend. It was a great lead-in to tithing! We read 3 Nephi 24:10, which is similar to the promise in Malachi 3 that the windows of heaven will be opened if we pay tithing. We all had tears in our eyes as Hermana Ortiz made it her goal to be worthy of a temple recommend and to take the leap of faith and pay her tithing. My companion later told me that as I started talking about tithing, she had exactly the same thought. The Spirit is amazing! I'm so glad we were worthy to have its guidance, because it really is the only way that people are encouraged to make and keep commitments. And we didn't even worry about Spanish! I know the first month or two in Paraguay are going to be crazy and a lot will be over my head (especially because I'm learning a new dialect), but I'm so excited! I pray the Lord will help me understand and communicate with the people!
One last thing I want to share. Last night, Elder Glenn L. Pace of the Quorum of the Seventy came and spoke at our devotional. He talked about Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, really stressing their individuality. He testified to us that they know and love us. He shared some very personal experiences that really brought the Spirit into our meeting. Through his testimony, my testimony of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ was strengthened. I want to share a few particular things he said. First, he quoted Truman Madsen, who said that we can penetrate the veil, the Holy of Holies, within our own being. It's wonderful to think that we can become so pure as to be so close to our Father in Heaven here on earth! He also talked about how we definitely knew Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ before this life. Because of the veil that keeps us from being able to remember that, he reminded us that we need to renew our relationships with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. It made me ask myself what I am doing to come come closer to them and be more like them. We've studied the Christlike attributes a lot in our district, and I feel like I've come a long way in two months! He reminded us that God loves us because of our weaknesses, that He has given us the Holy Ghost to help us overcome the weaknesses of mortality and come closer to Him. It was an amazing talk! I came away feeling very buoyed up and ready to share the gospel!
Thank you all for your thoughts, letters, and prayers. I appreciate your support so much! You can send letters to the above address, or e-mail this address: firstname.lastname@example.org McKell and Katy, thank you for your letters! I always love hearing how you're doing. Emily Goodson, you crack me up! I LOVE your letters! So fun! I wish you all the best this coming week! The next time you hear from me, I'll be in South America! I know this church is true and that God and Jesus Christ love all of you!
**Warning** The pictures you are about to view are bad! The lighting is almost non-existent in the back of Cafe Rio, and- go figure- people don't really like to stay frozen when they are trying to chat with friends they haven't seen in a while. :) On the up side...everyone looks good in low lighting- right?! Sorry to everyone who came to the party and didn't get their picture up in this post-I had to pull out the lest blurry of the batch- next time we'll go somewhere better lit!
Holly brought the twins back for a little visit last month, and we were all excited to see her (and the babies)!! All seems to be going well for her little family. Diego is doing well in school and Holly is back to work one day a week. And make no mistake about it- she still loves us best! :) We decided to get together for a late lunch at Cafe Rio. It was nice to chat and hold the babies. Holly says Olivia is more fussy of the two, but she seemed pretty content, and happy with Ellen making faces at her. Benjamin seemed to have a good time until he got hungry- then he was havin' none of it!
I think Conner misses Audrey :) (Oh- and what a cute green purse that is!;) )
A Blurry Olivia
Some of the gals who came to the party
Traci's Jake giving me his cheesiest smile =D
Benjamin and him mom
Olivia thought Ellen was the most entertaining person there
Greetings from the MTC! Today marks seven weeks of being here! I can't believe it! My district should be getting our flight plans either Friday or Saturday of this week. Crazy! We were all feeling a little nervous yesterday, then we had District Meeting with our branch president after the devotional last night. He told us not to worry; he said not to worry about Spanish because it will come and not to worry about going out into the field because the MTC is honing and refining us into what we need to be. He promised us that we would be safe and protected and have a wonderful experience and it made us feel so good! I'm so excited to go to Paraguay and meet my mission president and his wife and get started doing this amazing work!
I hope many of you had the opportunity to see General Conference last weekend. Conference weekend is like Christmas at the MTC. We didn't have any classes on Saturday, and our days pretty much consister of eating, sleeping, and watching conference. It flew by so much faster than it ever has before! Wasn't it wonderful? I loved the focus on families and women in the church, especially the emphasis on teaching children in the home. I really liked Sister Julie B. Beck's talk about the strength of women in the church. She quoted Eliza R. Snow who said, speaking of the women of the Church, "We want to be fit companions of the Gods and holy ones." That really inspired me to live up to my calling not only as a missionary, but as a daughter of God. We are different from the brethren for a reason. We have a divine nature and unique personality traits in order to bless those around us in a different way. Being women in the Church is so amazing! I also loved Elder Holland's talk about pornography and other addictions. As a missionary, it is easy to let thoughts wander to things that aren't bad, but aren't really conducive to a sincere study of the gospel. I made a goal to really be conscious of my thoughts, to keep them gospel-centered.
I also liked the emphasis on obedience. I know that sometimes standards in the Church seem trivial, but I know that obedience in the small things bring obedience in all things. Strict obedience brings blessings! This week my companion and I studied in 1 Nephi 17, when the Lord calls Nephi to build a ship. Rather than complain or question, Nephi simply asks the Lord where he can go to find materials to make a ship. What faith! I love the example of prophets in the Book of Mormon. I feel like the Book of Mormon has suddenly opened up for me. Everything seems to apply in a way that it hasn't before! It's great!
Spanish is coming along pretty well. Grammar-wise, we only have past subjunctive to learn and then we'll have gone over everything. We've been having four days a week where we do "Ayunos de ingles," or "fasts of English." On these days, we have to speak entirely, or as much as possible, in Spanish. If we absolutely can't say it in Spanish, we have to ask permission to speak in English. It helps so much, and it's a great way for all of us to encourage each other to use our mission language. Yesterday we taught the Plan of Salvation in the TRC in Spanish for the first time. Hermana and I have these cool visual aids and it really helped our investigators understand. It is really good practice for me to try and simplify concepts that can be a bit overwhelming so even a child could understand them. I know that the gift of tongues is real. I know that it's not me remembering the Spanish vocabulary or conjugating the verbs. I'm so grateful for the gifts of the Spirit! When we work hard, the Lord blesses us.
This week I've been reading a lot about being cheerful, and the blessings that come from cheerful obedience. In Doctrine and Covenants 123:17, it tells us to ". . . cheerfully do all things that lie within our power. . ." then to stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. I know that when we go about our lives in a cheerful manner, the Lord blesses us! If I ever get discouraged, it is so much more difficult to teach a lesson! Hermano Taylor reminded us last week to keep a cheerful attitude, especially in the field. People love to see smiling missionaries, and we can share the gospel just by a smile or friendly word!
Sunday night we had a fireside all about the hymns of the church. It was wonderful! Hymns are such a quick and wonderful way to bring the Spirit into our lessons, meetings, homes, lives, or wherever we are! Hermana Cooper and I love to start our lessons with hymns. It makes such a huge difference! Every night before bed, the four of us hermanas sing a song together. It's a great way to de-brief from the day and prepare for bed.
I want to thank all of you for your letters, good thoughts, and prayers for me. I appreciate it so much, and I know my wonderful MTC experience is because of the people I know who have helped me get to this point. Our devotional speaker last night, Elder L. Lionel Kendrick, an Emeritus Seventy, reminded us that at no other time in our lives will we have so many prayers offered in our behalf and the opportunity to take advantage of so much heavenly power. That's a tall order! I really hope I can live up to it.
Things in our district are wonderful. We have really united and come together. I have learned to respect the elders, even though they can be immature. They took a huge step of faith in leaving their homes and coming on a mission and they will do so much good!
A few notes: Rowena, thank you so much for your note! I'm so glad things are going well for you. Aunt Marianne, thank Rebecca for sending her note and the picture! Your girls are so cute and I always enjoy hearing what they're up to! Emily Galloway, CONGRATS ON BEING ENGAGED! I'm so excited for you and your dress is gorgeous! You'll be getting a letter from Utah soon! To all my cousins who are graduating this month, congrats! I'm so proud of all the work you've put into it and the wonderful examples you are to me. You'll do amazing things! Taunia, happy birthday a few weeks ago! I hope all is well with you and Kirk!
I know this Church is true. I know that we have a prophet who leads and guides us today. I know the Book of Mormon was written for our day, that it contains the answers to our questions and concerns. I know that we have a Heavenly Father who loves us, so much that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to atone for our sins. Anyone can access the peace and happiness that the Atonement brings, not just those who have committed serious transgressions. The gospel is wonderful!
Thank you all again for your thoughts and prayers! I love hearing from all of you!