Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Letters from Meredith...

17 de mayo 2010
Querido familia y amigas,

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!

Hermana Cozzens

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Letters from Meredith...

Subject: Hola from Paraguay!

10 de mayo, 2010
Hola, familia y amigas!

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!

Con todo amor,
Hermana Cozzens

Friday, May 7, 2010

Letters from Meredith...

3 de Mayo 2010
Hola, familia y amigos!

¿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!

Love, Hermana Cozzens

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

And the Award For Most Awesome Nurse 2010 Goes to....

Congrats to Shelley Crane who received the Nursing Excellence award this year!
Shelley- you're a great nurse and you deserve it!

"There is no charge- for awsomeness..."

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Cuz it's all about safety...... Ladies LOL! ;0)

...cuz that's what we do on a Sunday afternoon....