Thursday, April 29, 2010

Letters from Meredith...

Hola, familia y amigas!

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!

Con mucho amor,
Hermana Cozzens

Friday, April 23, 2010

a new address for Meredith...


I have a new address for the mission home. Packages and letters can be sent here:

Hermana Meredith Cozzens
2881 Del Maestro c/Caballero
Barrio Herrera
Asuncion Paraguay

Jeanice, would you forward this out for me? Gracias!

Love, Hermana Cozzens

Letters from Meredith...

Hola, familia y amigos!

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!

Love, Hermana Cozzens

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Letters from Meredith...

Hola, familia y amigos!

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.

Love, Hermana Cozzens

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Letters from Meredith...

April 14, 2010
Hola, familia y amigas!

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

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: 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!

Con mucho amor,
Hermana Meredith Cozzens

Friday, April 9, 2010

Holly came to visit!

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

A blurry picture of Audrey holding Benjamin

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Letters from Meredith...

Hola, familia y amigos!

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!

Love, Hermana Meredith Cozzens

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Letters from Meredith...

Hola, familia y amigos!

I can't believe I've been here for six weeks already! The time (after the first week) has flown! I'll probably leave in two and a half or three weeks. Crazy! So much I still need to learn! Couple of quick notes: Eimi, I tried to send you a letter to Reynolds but it came back to me at the MTC. If you DearElder me your address, I'll try sending it again! Grandma Vesa, Happy Birthday this weekend!

So many things have happened this week! Our district was struggling a little bit with getting along and such, but we're doing so much better now. When I have the attitude that I need to respect the elders rather than seeing them as 19-year-old boys, things go much more smoothly! Some funny happenings. . . Elder Rood goes to the bathroom about every hour. Yesterday, the other elders got frustrated with him and decided to commit him to read the Book of Mormon while he was in the bathroom. They ran out of the room, and the next thing I knew, they were banging on the bathroom door and loudly questioning, "Leera El Libro de Mormon? Por que no?" It was hilarious! Our teacher just shook his head and said they've been here too long. Good times!

Yesterday we taught the first lesson in the TRC for the second time in Spanish. We were prepared to teach someone who was not a Christian, but our investigator ended up being Catholic. She spoke SO fast, but between my companion and I, we could get the jist of what she was saying. We started our lesson off by singing her one verse of "I Am a Child of God." It really set the tone for our lesson! It was so great! We proceeded to teach her that God is our Heavenly Father and loves us, and we know this through prayer. We taught her how to pray, and committed her to do it on her own. The Spirit was very strong, and I came away with a renewed sense of purpose. This really is what it's all about; personalizing this wonderful gospel to meet the needs of investigators. I'm so grateful for this opportunity! And the great thing is, we weren't that worried about the Spanish! It really just comes on its own! Hermana and I have made a renewed effort to speak in Spanish all we can. In fact, on Monday we had an "English fast," where we tried to speak Spanish all day. We actually did really well!

On Sunday nights at the MTC, they show different films. Some are like "The Testaments," and some are talks by general authorities. This past Sunday, my companion and I went and watched a talk by Elder Bednar called "Becoming a Missionary." I came away from it feeling like there were SO many things I needed to improve on, which is true. I've been thinking a lot about goals and bettering ourselves this week. I think there's a happy medium between setting goals and having aspirations for who I want to become, and setting so many goals that I'm not able to accomplish any of them and I feel completely inadequate. The Lord doesn't want any of us to feel inadequate. He gives us challenges so we can grow, but He provides a mechanism for that growth. I've realized that so many answers and so many suggestions on how I can personally better myself are contained in the scriptures and words of the prophets. Elder Bednar said something I really liked. He said that when missionaries come home, they should stay in the mission field. What he meant was that the habits and characteristics you develop on a mission should stay with me even after I come home. That is definitely my goal. The mission is a very cleansing experience; all day, every day is focused on being the best representative of Christ, serving Him in the best way that I can. I don't want that to change! Hermana Cooper and I were talking about prayers the other day, and we agreed that if the Lord always answered our prayers the way we wanted them answered, we probably wouldn't be very happy. I know that He has answered my prayers in specific ways for specific reasons, and I'm so grateful to be on a mission so I can step back and be able to see that. My companion told me the other day that one of her friends told her that missions are emotional roller coasters because missionaries are closer to the Spirit than they have ever been before in their lives, so the ups and downs are more pronounced. I've definitely experienced this, but I've also experienced the peace and answers that come from praying and reading the scriptures. President Smith, the MTC president, told us in our fireside Sunday night, "Prayer is how we bring Heavenly Father's will and our will into correspondence with one another." So true!

Last night, Elder Charles Didier, an emeritus Seventy, came and spoke to us. He talked about being edified and spiritually mature missionaries. The great miracle of missionary work is that young adults are able to be edified and have their testimonies strengthened, then, with the power of the Spirit, share those testimonies with God's children all over the world. I love this work! I know that these past six weeks have strengthened my testimony and edified me immensely, but this can happen anytime, not just on a mission.

This past week, in preparation for the TRC, our teacher assigned us various gospels to read. Hermana Cooper and I studied Luke. It was amazing! There were so many things I noticed when reading it this time that I've never noticed before. I felt that Christ was so real to me, and I felt that I was doing exactly what He would have me to be doing. The main thing I took away from the reading was the desire to serve. The number of lessons or baptisms doesn't really matter; my measure of success as a missionary (and the measure of success for all members of the Church, I think) is how we serve. If Christ were here, He would be serving. I'm so grateful that I have the opportunity to serve the people of Paraguay!

One last thought I want to share with you. In my personal study this week, I came across Doctrine and Covenants 132:3. It talks about purifying our hearts. I thought this was interesting, so I looked up some of the cross-references, and one of them was 3 Nephi 17:3. I loved this! It says that we purify our hearts by obeying the commandments, praying, and heeding the words of the prophets. I've definitely felt my heart being purified as I've concentrated on studying the gospel and not had to think about many other things.

Well, my time is almost up. Thank you all for your letters, prayers, and good thoughts! I've felt them all! For those of you watching General Conference this weekend, enjoy! I'm told it's like two days of Christmas here at the MTC. I hope all is going well for all of you and I would love to hear from you if you get a chance! Thank you for your positive influences in my life!

Hermana Meredith Cozzens

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Letters from Meredith...

Hola, familia y amigos!

I can't believe I've been at the MTC for five weeks! It's crazy! Katy and Leigh, I got your letters Monday and yesterday. Thank you so much! Letters are so uplifting. I appreciate your words of advice! Tahlia, I hope you had a Happy Birthday last week!

We had another district leave this week; nine elders headed to Honduras, Arkansas, and Virginia. We're getting ten new elders tonight. At lunch, the elders were thinking up different ways to scare them: only speaking in Spanish, telling them they have to get in the showers at 5:30 a.m., etc. Sometimes I just roll my eyes and shake my head at the elders. Good thing they have hermanas to keep them in line!

This past week has been great! Hermana Cooper (my companion) and I made a goal to SYL ("Speak Your Language") more in the cafeteria and residence halls. I was having some trouble conjugating the verbs, but the more we speak, the better it gets! The other two hermanas in our room say they are learning a lot from listening to us speak Spanish. It's so fun! Last week we taught the second lesson, the Plan of Salvation, in English for the second time at the TRC. Yesterday, we taught the first lesson in Spanish! It was nerve wracking and took a lot of preparation, but it went so well! Last week, Hermano Mortimer read us some scriptures and talked to us about the gift of tongues. He promised us that if we worked and studied hard, we would be able to give the first lesson in Spanish. He was so right! Last Thursday night, we watched "The Restoration" in Spanish. Even though it was older Spanish and difficult to understand, the Spirit of the message was definitely still there. Hno. Mortimer promised us that if we focused on the message rather than the language, our lessons would be great. Yesterday, Hma. and I taught David the first lesson. It was such a neat experience! I felt like the verbs were just coming out of my mouth. I didn't even have to think about the conjugations, which is amazing for me. I'm constantly trying to remember preterite, imperfect, future, etc. Anyway, I know that the scripture in the Doctrine and Covenants 38:30 that says, ". . . if ye are prepared, ye shall not fear. . . ." really is true!

So Spanish is coming along great. Last week we took a Language Speaking assessment and the tutor graded it. He ranked us from 1-7 in categories of pronunciation, verb conjugation, and vocabulary. 1 is a brand-new Spanish speaker; 7 is like a native. I got 4's in all categories! I was so excited! I don't feel like I speak that well, but our investigators usually tell my companion and I that our Spanish is really good for five weeks. We took the test again on Monday, so hopefully I did as well this time.

On Sunday, we had Sister Camille Fronk Olson, a professor of ancient scriptures at BYU, speak to us in Relief Society. She focused on chapters 10-13 in Hebrews and talked about faith. She said that the most important part of having faith is having real intent, being willing to and actually acting on the results, or answers, of our faith. It was an eye-opener for me because there are so many times I feel prompted to do or say certain things, even little things, but I don't. I have definitely felt my faith grow so much from being here! Sunday night, Brother Mark Jarman was our fireside speaker. He is a director of training here at the MTC. He talked about how to apply the Book of Mormon to our lives. I felt like this was an answer to prayer. I have been feeling like I needed to read the Book of Mormon all the way through, but I wanted to have a focus, something meaningful for me. So I have started reading it and applying the teachings to my life. It's amazing how things open up. I hope that this will help me to apply the Book of Mormon to my investigators' needs. The Book of Mormon really does answer any question that we might have. President Benson said that the Book of Mormon, combined with the Spirit, is a missionary's best tool in conversion. I know this is true!

Last week, Hmo. Taylor gave us a neat spiritual thought in class. He said that it takes a lot of humility and courage to be happy for others' successes even when we ourselves might not be having success. For missionaries, this could apply if one companionship has lots of baptisms and another one doesn't. I had never thought about this in quite that way before. Sometimes it is difficult to be happy for others. I know I want to have my days to shine. But I've found that when I'm happy for Sister Cooper when she receives mail, or gives a really good part of our lesson, or whatever it is, I find joy myself. I really think that the Lord multiplies our joy when we are happy and rejoice for the successes of others.

Those are the highlights from this past week. I hope all of you are doing well! I would love to hear from any of you if you get a chance! My mailing address it:

Hermana Meredith Cozzens
Provo MTC
MTC Box #252
PAR-ASU 0419
2005 N. 900 E.
Provo, UT 84606-1793

You can also use to send free letters to the MTC. Also, if you get a chance, would you send me your addresses? I'm not sure how mail is going to be in Paraguay, but I would like to have addresses on hand. Thanks!

Well, my half hour is about up. Thank you all for your prayers and support! I love this gospel, and I am so grateful for the happiness it brings to our lives. I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior, that He knows each of us individually and wants us to return to Him. I know that the Book of Mormon is true, and that it was written for us, in our day. I know that as we read it, it brings so many insights into our lives. I hope you are all doing well and hope to hear from you soon!

Con amor,
Hermana Meredith Cozzens

\Hey everyone! Sorry about the confusion, but Meredith just e-mailed me because she realized that she had put the wrong zip code on her mailing address in the last e-mail that she sent. She e-mailed me the correct zip code: 84604-1793 Everything in the rest of the mailing address is still correct though. Sorry about the mix up!
- Jeanice