Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Letters from Meredith...

14 de junio 2010
Hola, querida familia y amigas!

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!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Letters from Meridith...

7 de junio 2010
Querido familia y amigas,

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.