Monday, May 27, 2013

We went around the corner and cried some more


Spanish Brain got fried this week.  So it was great to read about the reunion, and all that jazz.  Sounds like a ton of fun, and I would have loved to have been there.  But I´m here, and I only have like 15 months left so I'm not going to wish any of it away. 

So as for my week . . . well, it was another week of knocking doors and not finding anyone to teach.  The new sector that we are focusing in hasn't seen missionaries for a while.  The people we talk to are all very amable, pero they are too busy, not interested, or Catholic. The beginning of the week was pretty hard.  Hna Leyva and I were just super down about not having very much success, even though we felt like we were doing all we could.  To our best knowledge, we were following PMG and working as effectively as we knew how.  We were testifying, talking to EVERYONE, asking for references, contacting references, visiting less actives, asking for references, visiting members, asking for references, calling members to accompany us to lesson, and did I mention that we asked for references!!!!  But nothing. We didn't find anyone new to teach, and we only had like 3 or 4 investigators.

Then on top of all this, we find out that our golden investigator, P**, who was supposed to get baptized this week with her son, isn't actually "legally" married to the man she is living with.  In the first lesson that we taught them, she told us that her and J** have 4 years of marriage, but when we taught the law of chastity this week, she told us that they aren't actually "legally married," but that having a kid together is just as good a promise as a certificate.

That was a super hard lesson for us to teach.  We discovered that she is super feminist, and doesn't want to get married.  We testified to her of the blessings of marriage, and we were both crying so much!  P** said she would pray, and ask God if marriage was the path for her.  We said a kneeling prayer with her before we left, then we went around the corner and cried some more.

That happened on Tuesday, and all week we have felt her slipping away.  We had two appointments with her that she cancelled, and then showed up an hour late to the third lesson.  She was never like that before.  It has been really hard.  We just love her so much, and she really wanted to get baptized.  She knows that this church is true, but now she is offended that she can't get baptized because she isn't married.  She doesn't understand the importance of chastity.

So now we are working on gaining back her trust.  Her son is still going to get baptized, but he needs a few for assistances to the iglesia first.  P** has seen the change in D** since he started participating in the young mens program, and going to mutual, and church.  So have we.  The gospel is really amazing.  It changes lives.  And we are praying that God will soften P**´s heart, and she can be baptized with her son.

So after all these things were happening: no one listening to us, losing P**, all our lessons with members falling through, we starting asking ourselves, "is it them? or is it us?"  In the end, we were doing everything we could . . . but were we being everything we could?  We learned what it means to qualify yourself for the work and for the guidance of the Lord. Yeah, we were asking for references, we were knocking doors, we were talking to everyone, but why?  Was if for another number, or for the opportunity to invite another soul so come unto Christ?  We realized that we had to sanctify ourselves first through repentance, fasting and prayer.  We had to give ourselves to the Lord, heart, might mind and strength so that He could mold us into the missionaries He needs.

I realized this week that even if you are doing all you can, you can always do more.  I learned what it means to wait on the Lord.  I learned that having faith means having patience to suffer through the trails with hope, and hope is the patience to wait on the promised blessings of the Lord when you are not only doing all you can, but being all you can.

This week, as I turned to the Lord in all my thoughts, in all my prayers, I felt him walk beside me, and strengthen me as yet another door was slammed in the face. I´ve taken another step in my journey to understand the atonement of Jesus Christ.

This week, when I would get down about the situation, sometimes I got frustrated with myself.  I would think "Why am I feeling like this?  In my life I have done hard things, and I've had other days like this on my mission, why haven't I learned how to make myself happy?"  I guess I felt like I had passed through enough refiners fires in my life, and I should be at the point where I am confident in who I am.

I remember the thought "I thought I already discovered who I am," pass through my mind this week, and that got me thinking about the word discover.  I'm sure you have all heard that middle school is where you start to "discover" who you are, but I´m sure you´ve also heard that high school is where you "discover" who you are . . . but wait . . . isn't it college where you "discover" who you are.  The thing is, that you can´t discover something more than once.  Pirates discover buried treasure, and mothers discover that their children don't like to eat vegetables, but people don't discover themselves.  They develop themselves.

We don't just go through one hard experience and come out saying "now I know who I am. I discovered myself."  No, because what happens when you go through another hard experience? Another day of knocking doors?  Do you discover a new person?  No you are the same person.

It´s like a log.  Every log has the potential to be carved into a chair, a table, or a desk.  But the log doesn't wake up one day and say "I´ve discovered that I am a chair!"  No, it´s still a log.  But through the skill of a master wood carver, and by chipping away piece be piece, one day that log can be a chair.

We all have potential to be something, someone great!  But we don't discover that person, we develop that person.  I realized that sometimes when I feel like I´m in the same situation that I was in when I first started college, or when I went to Mexico, or when I started my mission, it´s not because I didn't discover who I was during those challenges, it is because I am still developing who I am, and I will be for the rest of my life.

There you go dad.  Another analogy for you. I hope it made sense.

Something else I have been learning is the importance to laughing everyday.  Yeah, the mission is hard, but if you can't laugh through it, if you can't have fun, then you will have few happy memories of your mission.

I remember on Wednesday, Hermana Leyva and I were pretty tired, so we stopped to eat some chocolate and take our 20 minute break.  We could have just sat on the cold ground, and thought about how hard the mission is, and how we would rather be at home, but instead we started talking about how we needed to make a commercial for our new sector because none of them have really seen the missionaries before.  We started scripting out what we would say, and it was super cheesy.  We would use words, or phrases that we always used while contacting people . ..  and it was just so ridiculously funny to think of making a "contact commercial."  We laughed so hard!

It´s moments like that that will make the memories of your mission worth remembering.  Or yesterday, at lunch, when I couldn't speak Spanish to save my life!  Hermana M**, her daughters, and Hermana Leyva were just laughing so hard at all the little mistakes I was making .. . it was so funny!  I just couldn't seem to say anything right!

I think the hardest times in your life are always looked back upon as the best, because that is where you learned to smile even when you are hurting.

I realize that I am not the perfect missionary.  Something I think about Amanda and Jackson and the types of missionaries they were.  Yeah, incredible . . . right?  They probably taught with such power and authority, they probably asked inspiring questions, and taught by the spirit.  Chuta!  Why can't I be like them!!!  But I´ve realized that I don't have to be like them to be a good missionary.  I don't have to be like Hermana Chamberlain, Hermana Leyva, Elder Huaman, or Elder McKinly to be a good missionary, I just have to be me . . . cause I'm different, and I have my own talents.

So it was a hard week, but a good week . . . cause I learned a lot!

Okay, now for some business:
Yes I finally got the packages with the pills and the leggings!!  Thanks!  Also, I got a letter from Hna Chamberlain!  Thanks so much!!  I loved it! Also I got letters form my lil bros . . . you guys are the best!

About the packages .. .  the mission really doesn't care.  Chile is chill.
And yes mom, that is exactly what it feels like to be a missionary.
Also, question:  I need to know if you were planning on sending a backpack or a sleeping bag, cause if no then I need to buy one.  But don't feel like you have to ..  .I just need to know! 

Well, that´s all I got for you this week.  Thanks for always writing me and just being the best family ever!  Love you all!!  Like a lot!

Con Amor, 
Hermana Ostler

Monday, May 20, 2013

It's going to be the greatest day of my mission


We learned how to make sopapillas
Wow!  Jackson is like married!  That is so so so so so weird to think about!  Saturday I was just thinking about him and Katie all day.  It wasn't the easiest day for me.  But other than that, and just being kinda sad Saturday and Sunday, I am doing great!  Hna Leyva and I have decided to focus our effort in a different part of our sector, and as we look back we see that the Lord was directing us in this decision.  But, we have almost no investigators in our new sector of focus.  So it was a long week of knocking doors, looking for menos activos or part member families, and asking for references.  During the week we kept praying to find that one family, that one person who was waiting for us in our new sector, but at the end of the day we came up empty.  But we never lost the animo or the faith, and the next day we went out and did it again.  Then yesterday, as we were saying goodbye to our solid investigator, P**, we asked her if she knew anyone who would like to listen to our message and change their life like she was doing.  She then gave us 8 references!  We didn't have time to contact them last night, but we will tonight, and we hope behind one of those doors there is someone who has been praying for us.

But, P**, and now her son D**, are both getting baptized on Sunday!  It's going to be the greatest day of my mission!  Hna Leyva and I found P**, I think I already told you that story.  And we are her missionaries.  She is as gold as they get when it comes to investigators.  She doesn't have a single duda!  She just believes everything and wants to get baptized so bad!  Last night we had a noche de hogar with her and with some members.  We taught about tithing, and we were sure this would be her weak point . ..  but it wasn't!  She said that she didn't need the blessings for serving others, or for serving God, but that she would do it for love!  We kept telling her how special she is, and how prepared she is, and how we have never taught anyone like her.  Then she said "You guys always say that I am special, but en verdad, you two are the special ones.  The church is full of people because of you.  I only accepted this message because of you."

30 years from now, Hna P** will get up in fast and testimony meeting, and she will tell her story.  She will tell the congregation how she came home late one night to find three hermanas with black nametages sitting on her couch, waiting for her, and holding the answer to all her questions.  Then she will talk about Hermana Leyva who taught with such clarity, and power.  Then she will talk about Hermana Ostler who struggled with the language, but who always listened, and when she spoke, it wasn't her words, it was the spirit testifying that this message is true.  P**, and her son D** are just so special to us.  They are changing their lives.  They are coming unto Christ.  This work truly is beautiful.  Someday, in heaven, I will see P** with all her posterity, and I will know they are there because on that night that we were heading home, we decided to talk to one more person.  We decided to open our mouths so that the Lord could fill them, and we could reach out a hand to help bring one more daughter and son home.

On Friday and Saturday we did interchanges.  Hna Leyva left with our sister zone leader for 24 hours, and I stayed here with a missionary from Peru who has only been in the field for 1 and a half weeks!  It was an interesting experience.  She doesn't speak any English.  It was a lot of responsibility to lead the sector without my companion.  But we did good.

We taught M**, the wife of R**, and it was great!  She told us that she has been reading the Book of Mormon and she loves it!  So we have a potential progressing investigator.  But I was really happy/relieved when Hermana Leyva came back.  I got a taste of what training is like, and it's really stressful!  But I also got to see how far I have come since that first week!  This poor sister just doesn't get what the mission is about yet.  I remember when I was like that.

On Saturday night we got caught in a down pour!  For the 15 minutes that it rained we were out in it, and we got soaked!  But it was funny.  We laughed about it, cause what can you do.  I can just picture us running through the streets in our skirts and stockings, trying to shield ourselves from the rain.

It's not my fault if the elders fall in love with me -
It's the food that I always feed them!
As far as Spanish . ..  its coming.  Poco a Poco I am getting less frustrated.  I basically understand everything, and I can talk about the gospel.  Talking in past tense is still hard for me, and conjugating verbs makes my head hurt by the end of the day.  Oh, during one lesson, the investigator asked why the 12 original apostles didn't give their authority to others before they died.  I tried to explain that it was because they were murdered before they got the chance, but I think I accidentally said that they murdered people.  Jajaja . . . just the misplacement of one word can give your sentence a whole new meaning.

Also dad, you can't publish my words, cause that is called copyright, and I was already planning on doing it!  JAJAJA.  But I'm happy you like all my metaphors, that is just how my mind works. I don't have a good one for you today, but I´ll think of one for next week.

Now for the business part.  I NEED GOOD SHOES!

This is why I need good shoes. I'm falling apart!
I didn't get any packages this week, but I did get a wonderful letter from Harrison that had me laughing out loud!  Back to the shoes.  I don't think I want Merrill's, they are just a little tight on my foot. As far as the cold, as of now I am fine, but as it gets colder I´ll have to ask the office for more blankets.

Also, you still haven't sent the cinnamon roll recipe!  Jajaja, I didn't think you would with the wedding and all, but if you find a second to remember me, I would love the recipe for those . . . jajaja. 

Well, I love you all so much!  Have fun with the crazy summer you have planned!

Con Amor,
Hermana Ostler
PS.  Thanks Grandpa Skinner for the letter!  It really helped!  Oh, and Amy!  Loved hearing about Hawaii!  Oh I miss that place!

We had sushi last week . . . yum!

Monday, May 13, 2013

It is possible to enjoy hard things


So the skype session was awesome!  But way too short!  I just wish I had an hour to talk to all of you individually!  I would have loved to talk to Harrison about his mission, and Jackson about his future wedding, and chubs about his crazy busy life, and Benson about his lawn mowing experience, and Wilson about well . .. just whatever Wilson would want to talk about for an hour.  Jaja, I'm super happy you got the "flowers."  Tell Jackie thank you! Also, is Jackie moving?  You mentioned awhile back that the Creers sold their house.

And that's super sad about the Elder not getting ahold of his mom. I just can't even imagine! I thank the Lord ever day for my rock solid family, cause I know that I would not have been as strong as that elder to go on a mission without a family to support me.  He´s better than me . . . tell him that!

So what you said about me just seeming happy and better, well that's true.  I've been feeling so much better lately, and it's not because anything changed.  The mission is hard.  The mission will always be hard.  There will never be a day when I wake up and say "wow this is easy."  But it is possible to enjoy hard things.  You just have to make the decision to stop waiting.

I think a lot of people wait.  They wait for life to get better, they wait for the mission to get easy, they wait until they have a boyfriend, a job, money, and they tell themselves that when they have those things that then they will be happy.  But what happens is that they get so used to waiting that when what they were waiting for finally arrives, it's never good enough and they have to find something else to wait for.  They learn to grudgingly endure the hard times, and just wait for the good times, but when the good times come they are too busy waiting to realize it.  So I realized that I had been waiting for my mission to get better. I had been waiting to find the golden investigator. I had been waiting for the Spanish to come, or for the perfect companions instead of just enjoying where I was at.  The truth is that the mission only gets better when you decide to make it better.  So on Wednesday morning I woke up and just decided, I'm going to stop waiting and start making.

So basically I think the hardest is behind me, cause I'm done waiting.

To answer your questions, I know that picture exists because it is in the temple here, but I don't know what it is called, or who it is by.  I think that the church probably owns it and so they don't sell it.  Bummer!!  Also, I don't know anyone going home who could take my card.  But I have all the pictures backed up already. 

Okay, about the shoes.  My companion also needs knew shoes, and she talked to her mom. But her mom says the selection is about the same in Peru as it is here.  So Hermana Leyva asked me if I could ask you if you could buy her some shoes and mail them to us for her. She is a size 9 US.  She lived in the states for 3 years and said that she always bought 9s. She is not picky.  She just wants a good walking shoe that will last in black.  She says that she will pay for them too.  But not those ballet flats that I have.  We want straps on our shoes or laces that hold our feet in place!  Also if you go with Merrill's get me an 8, cause the 7 and a half is a little tight on my right foot with all the stockings that I wear.

Also, as long as we´re talking about sending things, I would love the recipe to no bake cookies and cinnamon rolls.  Also if it is possible a good sturdy backpack.  I bought one here but it is already falling apart and it has only been 7 weeks!  They just don't have good quality of anything here except soccer shoes and jerseys, and if they do it is way over priced.  But if that is asking too much I can just try to patch up the backpack I have.

Okay, so our relationship with the bishop has improved.  He basically loves us now.  I think a huge part of the problem is gone now.  Plus, I always make him treats!  And he has a sweet tooth!  Also things are good again with the Hermana M**.  Hermana Levya basically explained what happened, and Hermanana M** believes her.  I guess (she) told Hermana M** that we were telling lies about her.

So P**, is still progressing.  I don't know if I've ever mentioned her. Yeah, I have.  Basically the last lesson we taught her she said she knew she needed to get baptized in our church. We usually leave her a chapter to read after every visit in the libro do mormon and she always reads the chapter and then like 3 or 5 more!  She is golden!  We tried to teach her husband, but he just doesn't want anything to do with the church.  He just believes that all the churches are true.  But we hope that someday in the future he will accept the message of the restored gospel!  P**´s son, D**, is great too!  He has 15 and Paula really wants him to go to mutual.  She loves the youth of the church and says she wants her son to have friends like them.  He is great!  He has lots of questions about the restoration and jose smith.  He kinda reminds me of chubs, except shorter and Chilean.  jajaja.

Oh, we found this investigator, R**.  What happened, is the day before Hermana Hernandez left, we were out trying to find an antiguo investigator, and the address was 3882, but it was dark, and we passed the house 3982, and I thought it said 3882, so I knocked on the door. Well, R** answered and we explained to him that we had the wrong house number, but that we were missionaries and gave him a pass along card.

Well, he asked us what our names were, and when we wouldn't tell him our first names he got frustrated and said that if he trusted us with his first name we should trust him with ours. It was getting ugly so we tried to end the conversation and slip away.  But he has a very powerful personality.  Then his wife came out, M**, and she asked what was going on. When R** told her that we wouldn't tell him our first names she rolled her eyes and basically told him to give it a rest, and just respect the fact that we went by our last names. R** calmed down after that, and we shared with them a short message.  That's how we met R**, and now we are teaching him and his family.  They are all so great!  And he is so funny!  Like he basically reminds me of Kevin and Randy!  We can't teach them in their house cause it is actually the house of the mother of R**, and she doesn't like people in her hose.  So we just teach them on the doorstep.  Whenever a friend passes, R** always introduces us, and he always changes where we are from.  First he said I was from Columbia, and now he has setting on Venezuela.  It's so funny cause his friends always believe him and I got tired of correcting them, so I just pretend I'm form Venezuela.  We have a lot of hope they will get baptized, but they don't really see the need to be baptized again because they were already baptized in the catholic.  But in our last visit we brought members and they bore powerful testimonies of the church and accounted their conversion stories.  We left behind a Book of Mormon and I know that if R** reads it with a true intent to know, then the power of that book will lead him to the waters of baptism.

We are still teaching MT** and C**.  We still hope they will progress, but they just don't want to get baptized.  Also, mom, you are not a terrible mother for yelling at us. MT** screams at her kids and hits them with a stick. So don't regret yelling at us.  I've realized that living a life without regrets doesn't mean that you never make mistakes it means that you don't desire to go back and change the mistakes you made.  Instead you accept them as part of the learning process, and that you understand through the Atonement of Christ you can be forgiven and change.

So that's my life right now.  Hermana Leyva and I are focusing on finding new investigators cause a lot of the investigators we had with Hermana Hernandez were just numbers to her, or another lesson, and they were never people who where going to progress.  So we need to find people who are prepared, and not just cual que persona! 

Also, today I complete 3 months in the mission!  Yeah!!  Like dad said, I really think the hardest is behind me.  So now I'm just going to go to work, cause I am starting to feel the time pick up.

I love you all!  And just don't have words to express how grateful I am for your support.  I know that every missionary doesn't have what I have.  In fact, I am probably among the few.  So thank you! Tangan una buen semana!!

Con Amor, 
Hermana Ostler

Monday, May 6, 2013

My brownies are becoming famous


Okay, so I haven't read the email, but luckily all the questions are in pink, cause I think I'm just going to answer the questions and write.  A lot happened this week.  So to answer your first question about transfers . . . . well, it's a long story.

(Due to the personal nature of Saydi's trial with a companion, I am not including any details. I will tell you that she needs you, her friends, to pray for her and write to her.)

The rest of the week  was good, we saw a lot of miracles, but we were emotionally exhausted, and literally counting down the days until pday. But our teaching has improved and our investigators are progressing now. We found 3 new families this week. The Lord truly does bless his righteous servants.

So that was my week. Fun right? But I am so excited for this next transfer, Hermana Leyva and I are going to tear it apart!

I got mail this week from the boys and dad. That cabin trip sounded awesome! Oh, and Harrison . . . I'm so jealous you were in Hawaii.  Oh I miss it! Also, shout out to Kelly Griffen . . . your letter was so great! Thanks for writing, honestly, that was probably the highlight of my week, hearing from an old friend.  Hopefully you will be getting my return letter soon, but Chilean mail really isn't that good . . . jajaja.  Also, thank you Grammie for always writing me, and of course Amanda!

So my brownies are becoming famous here, as well as my Oreo balls.  Everyone knows I'm the gringa who bakes.  We planned a noche de hogar with a part member family because they wanted me to teach them how to bake, and they invited all their friends.  Ha ha, it was great!

I'm still frustrated with the language, and sometimes I feel like I don't pull my weight in the companionship because I can't contribute as much to lessons, or conversation.  It just feels like an impossible task to learn a language.  I wonder if there will ever be a day when I stop thinking about verb conjugations and reflexive verbs and just talk.

As for Mothers Day, we know who we are skyping with, as far as time . . . my companion has to coordinate with her family because they have three missionaries out who all need to call home. My guess is around four or five my time, but I will get to email you in the week the definite time.

So that's really all I had planned to say.  Well, I was going to talk about all the families we are teaching . . . but that would take forever! But I do want to talk about P**.  So in my 1st email I mentioned her, about how she wanted to know what church was true.  Well, this week we went back to teach her and she is just so prepared for the gospel. She read the chapter we left her in the Book of Mormon and then some. She had so many questions about what she read. She is just so hungry to learn and she told us she knows it's true.

We went back on Saturday to teach her and her husband with a member. It was a great lesson.  The member told his story about how he found his answer.  What happened is he had been praying to know what church was true and then presto, the missionaries showed up at his house! He said he knew that was answer to his prayer. THAT'S THE SAME THING THAT HAPPENED TO P**! She accepted a baptism date after that and came to church the next day all by herself! Her husband is a little harder to work with, and we are praying that the Lord will soften his heart.

We also found a great family last night. It started out as a normal contact, and they really weren't interested. We asked when we could come back to share more and they gave all the normal excuses . . . oh, I work, I'm never home. But then as we started just talking to them as people and took an interest in their lives, they opened up. We talked for about 15 minutes just in the doorway, and at the end when we asked if we could come back, they said yeah, on Wednesday or just whenever the light is on!  Wow! What a 180 degree turn! The Lord truly does soften hearts.

Hermana Leyva and I make a great team. Yesterday when we called in our numbers to the zone leader, he said he was surprised. He said that they didn't expect us to have the greatest numbers because we are both new, but we proved them wrong! jajaja, our zone leaders are great! Each one of those numbers we reported was a person, a Child of God, and Hermana Leyva and I know them and we are worried about them, we pray for them and study for them. That is a huge difference than what it was before.

So, that's my life. Oh, if you ever feel like sending Mary Kay makeup remover I would be ever so grateful and box mixes are always well received.  I always Love everything you send! Oh, next week could you email me the cinnamon roll recipe?

I'm so excited to talk to you guys! I miss you all so much and love you! I pray for you by name every day . . . which definitely adds time to my prayers. I love the pictures. You boys are too good looking for your own good. Also about the tarantula . . . yeah, not really sure what possessed me, but I just couldn't pass that up!

Les Amo MUCHO!!
Con Amor
Hermana Ostler