Monday, July 28, 2014

Why would the Lord have me sit and wait for a bus that wasn't coming?

Sorry the email is late, Hermana Young and I hiked a mountain this morning, and when we got back down all the internet places in santa maria were closed (there are only two).  So we had to wait three hours until they opened, but we have just been chilling at the house, laughing, and talking.  Definitely one of my best pdays ever.

First, we had to ride up to la higuera.  A thirty minute bike ride up hill, then we got to the base of the hill, locked our bikes and started hiking.  It was a short steep hike, and it only took about 30 minutes.  We actually had to go off road to get to the very top.  When we got there we could see the whole santa maria valley . . SO BEAUTIFUL!!  And the day was perfect for hiking!!  Then, we ate a salad lunch that I made, took some awesome pictures and started hiking back down.  The bike ride all down hill was legit!!  We rode down with no hands . . . yes we are awesome!  All in all a sweet day.  Now, we are finishing up the pday with internet time, and there is a screaming baby in this room . .. but hey thats life.

This week was one of the harder ones in my mission as far as the work goes.  We just have not been finding anyone to teach, and our investigators haven't been progressing.  I have done everything I know how, but with no results.  I sometimes would catch myself thinking "Only three more weeks."  But I don’t want to finish my mission with that attitude. I prayed every night that the Lord would give me the strength to finish strong, and to truly enjoy the work.

On Saturday, our numbers for the week were low, and all our plans had fallen through, again.  By four in the afternoon, I wondered what we could do to fill in the remaining hours. I got the clear feeling three times that we should go to santa filomena.  So, we put the bikes back at the house and went to wait for the micro.  We waited for an hour and nothing came. I began to become frustrated.  We were losing work time waiting for a bus.  I wondered why the Lord would send us to santa filomena and forget to send the bus.

As we were waiting, a member, Hermana Pino, came and sat by us.  We talked to her casually for a moment, then she asked where we were going.  I said santa filomena, and she said that the buses might not be passing today.  I looked at my watch and said that if the next bus wasn't going to santa filomena then we were going to do something else.  The next bus came, and the driver said that it was going to la higuera.  My heart dropped.  Why? Why would the Lord have me sit and wait for a bus that wasn't coming?  We told Hermana Pino that the bus was going to la higuera, and she looked at me and said "Well, why don’t you go to la higuera then?"  Good question.  In a split second, I made the decision.  I tapped on the window, and the bus driver opened the door right before the light turned green.  We were on our way to la higuera.

As I sat on the bus, I became very discouraged as I thought about the difficulties of the sector, and what I could do.  The situation felt hopeless, and I was so low that I was close to tears.  Well, the bus got to la higuera and we got off.  I had no plans, but we started walking, and I felt we should visit a member who recently moved into the branch.  Her husband is a recent convert.  When we got to her house we discovered that her husband wasn’t home, which means that if we taught her a lesson it wouldn’t count for anything cause she is an active member.  But I felt we should share a message with her.

We started talking, and found out that she had been to the hospital that day, and had been feeling pretty low.  As we continued to talk she told us that she had at one time in her life . . . . .   She said that in her suffering she couldn't see past the situation.  We shared a message with her about rising to the Lord's calling.  I told her these words "You may not be the best mother in the world, but you are the best mother for you kids.  No other woman could give them what you can, and what you give them is just what they need.  You have the family God intended you to have."  That lesson for me was very special.  I felt the spirit so strongly.  I realized, that like this sister, I was in a difficult situation and I wasn’t allowing myself to see past it.  Yeah, I had a difficult week, but that doesn’t mean it is time to throw in the towel.  That just means it is time to redouble my efforts (DyC 127:4 . . look it up, its the scripture I share with the sister).

After that lesson I changed my outlook, and was able to move forward diligently in the work of the Lord.  We actually did a couple of really good contacts that day, and taught another lesson.  I realize that the Lord told me to go to santa filomena, cause I would have never listened to the call to go to la higuera (we were already planning on going there the next day), but there was someone in la higuera who needed us that day, and there was a lesson that I needed to learn.

We also had leadership counsel this week, which means I had to go into Santiago. Presidente videla is changing a few things, like the schedule!!  We will now be waking up at 6:30, and going to bed at 10:30, plus our lunch hour is changed to 1pm, and we have study time after lunch for an hour, then and hour dinner time at 6pm . . . thats cutting out some work hours for us, and a lot of the missionaries weren’t happy, including me.  The schedule was fine.  People in Chile sleep in later and stay up later, but 6-7 is like our best hour to work!  But, later in the week I was reading in nephi about how laman and lamuel were complaining about having to leave Jerusalem . . like always.  And there is a scripture that says they murmured because they did not understand the ways of the Lord.  I thought about that.  Laman and Lemual were also obedient.  Were they not?  Did they not leave Jerusalem like Nephi?  The difference was there attitude.  So, we as missionaries can either be obedient like Laman and Lemuel, or like Nephi.

We also now only have an hour of internet time, which means I’ve got to go now.  Sorry I would love to give you more details about my week, or maybe say something to make mom cry again, but I'll save that for next week in my last letter!  Ahh, que loco!!  Just know that I love you all and that I am giving my best out here.
Con amor, 

Hna Ostler

Monday, July 21, 2014

I hope your hearts have changed

Okay, so I don’t have a ton of time to write today cause I had to type up my good bye letter today.  Basically when you are leaving the mission you usually send out a good bye card to everyone you love.  So I typed that up today.  Maybe I'll send you a copy, even though it’s in spanish so you might not understand it. Its actually not that good.  As far as spanish goes, I am really good at talking and reading, but I would say that writing is my weakness.  I can do it, but I am so much better at expressing myself in english when I write.

21 days? really? I know its close, but there are moments when I realized how close it really is.  Honestly, I don’t feel the end.  I just feel like I will keep being a missionary forever. Elder Uchtdorf said in a recent talk "There seems to be something inside of us that resist endings." Yep, that is happening.  Actually I think my body is trying to reject the fact that I am finishing, and so I am like hungry ALL THE TIME! Its not like I just have a desire to be eating, no I am legit hungry. I was trying to lose weight, but I think in these past two weeks I gained it all back.  Its really weird, but its also happening to a few other missionaries who are leaving this next change.

I don’t have much to say about the week.  Ï mean we taught lessons, we did street contacts, we ate lunch with members that is usually drenched in oil, we rode our bikes, we had exchanges, we laughed, I even cried this week, we had hard moments, and good moments, we felt the spirit, and we preached the word.  Yep, that about sums up my week\ mission.

Some specifics: I learned how to ride my bike with no hands!  My companion ate gluten by mistake and then after she realized it and knew that she was going to get sick, she bought an empanada to make it worth it . . and yes, she did almost die. Hna Johnson and Hna Crump had a baptism this week.  A menos active that we have been working with told us that he wants to serve a mission, learn english, then go to BYU . . . yep, I was in awe and thanked my Heavenly Father for changing hearts.

There was a moment this week, when we were out in a poblacion called, Santa Filomena, and we were just knocking doors right at sun set.  The weather was perfect, their was a slight breeze, spanish echoed around me, children were playing in the streets, and I was just standing in the middle of a dirt road, looking down on the valley, and I realized "wow, I love this."  That was one of my "This is my life moments."  I’ve have them ever once in a while.  Its were you realize that you are right where you need to be, and that you love it. My companion had one this week.  We were just walking down the street and she looked over at me and said "hermana Ostler, I am a missionary." and I said "Yes, you are.  Now enjoy it, cause before you know it . . ." I never finished the sentence.  Sometimes it hurts too much to think about, and other times I am really excited.

Okay, I honestly have nothing else to say.  I love you all so much, and I am so excited to see you soon.  This Sunday, Hermana Young looked at her watch and said "Its two o'clock in Missouri, my family is just finishing up church."  And then I said "Its 12 in Washington, my family is finishing sacrament meeting."  (Well, that is if you still go to church at 11, that might have changed.) But in that moment, I remembered that you guys still exist, and that your lives still go on.  I guess that I have felt that when I left, everything back at home just froze, and when I come back it will all be just how I left it.  But life moves on . . . for everyone.  Just as God has changed the lives and hearts of the people I have met in Chile, He has also been changing you guys, and not just your lives . . but who you are.

Yeah, when I get home, I will have a sobrina (I will always call Lilly my sobrina, cause that is what I have called her here, and niece just sounds weird to me.  She is my one and only sobrina) I will have a cunada (And Katie will always be my cunada . . not sister in law) Benson might be a foot taller, moms hair might be grayer, Jefferson might have more muscles, Wilson might not have that gap between his teeth, and dad might be a little rounder, but more than the physical, I hope that I find you all different in your souls.  I hope your hearts have changed.  I hope that you have read your scriptures more, prayed more sincerely, laughed harder, and lived like the Savior lived.  I hope you have remembered your baptismal covenants, and that when I look into your eyes I will see Christ reflected there.  It's a life long process, but I hope to find all of you a little further along in the journey than when I left.  This life is for progression and for change.  I also pray and hope that you will say the same about me, that I have changed.  I think I have less hair than when I left, my skin is a little rougher, and I too might be a little heavier, but I hope that when you look into my eyes you will see the change.  You will see that the hardships and challenges have made me better, and have made me stronger.  So let us continue forward, my family, cause my eternal happiness will never be complete without you.
Con todo el amor en mi corazon,

Hna Ostler 

Monday, July 14, 2014

I felt an incredible peace

Great email.  It’s crazy to think that you all hang out by the pool . ..cause I don’t!!  This week was good.  Just another week in the life of Hermana Ostler.  RC got confirmed!! And yes, I really think that he will serve a mission.  We were talking about it last night, and he is definitely planning on it. After he got confirmed I felt that "What's next" feeling. We have just been working with him so much.  He has been our focus, and now he is a member!!

After church yesterday, we went home to drop our books off, and hit the roads again. When I opened the door, I ran inside and shouted: "RC got confirmed!!" (Except in spanish), and as I said it I felt an incredible peace come over me.  The last interview I had with president Essig, he finished the interview with a prayer, and in his prayer he said: "Bless Hermana Ostler that she can find all those that she was sent to find here in Chile." When he said that, I knew that there was still someone out there.  For my whole mission I have worried that I wouldn’t find all those who are waiting specifically for me, but yesterday when I felt that peace, I knew that I had finally found everyone.  I know that I still have a month left, and if you ask mom she can probably give you down to how many hours I have left, but I feel like this next month is all about preparing the sector for the next missionary to take over, and preparing Hermana Young for the challenges that she will face in her mission.  I feel at peace and content with the work I have done.  You can bet that I am still going to work my booty off this next month, cause thats what I've always done . . so why stop now?

This week we had interviews with the new president.  It was very different than with president Essig . .. and I missed him so much and and Sister Essig too!  But hey, everything happens for a reason.

Hermana Young and I spent a lot of time in the streets this week . . wait . . we are always in the streets!  JAJA.  No, but we just talked a lot and laughed more.  I think that some of my favorite mission memories are talking with my companions in the streets. Our conversations range from spiritual experiences and deep doctrinal analysis, to planning family vacations together with our future families.  The people in santa maria must think that we are crazy.  One time, we went out in the middle of the street and just started pretending like we were skateboarding. . why?  I can’t even remember.  It was like 9 at night, and our sector was just dead, so we brought some life back . . . jajaja.

I was feeling better this week, but my companion somehow ate gluten, she is siliac, and a meal we had from a member must have had gluten somewhere in it. You know that most processed meats have gluten!) and so in Thursday after our interviews she was dying! She couldn't even walk.  We we had to stay home.

Oh, here are some food items you can bring: Graham crackers, cheesitz, BQ sauce, licorice, Reese's PB cups, Moon cakes, pop tarts, hot pockets, pretzels, smiley fruit snacks, Hostess, Lucky charms, and of course, peanut butter.  No, they don’t sell any of that stuff here.  Hermana Young helped me come up with that list, cause I don’t remember any of that stuff.

Yep, that’s all I got to say.  I love you all so much, and I am getting excited to see you! Have an amazing week, and remember to pray for miracles every day!

Con amor,

Hna Ostler

Monday, July 7, 2014

We got to wear jeans!

Dear Familia,
Thanks for the email. It never matters what you tell me, I just love hearing from ustedes.  I hate that there is not one word for ustedes in english.  I just feel awkward using 'you all.' But hey, thats life.

This week, I learned two very important truths, or maybe just relearned them. First, Worrying about something is ALWAYS twice as hard as doing it. Second, the Lord is more powerful than Satan  . . . EVERY TIME!!

Yes, RC got baptized!!!  The little twerp made me cry!  It was his goal.  He says that he always makes everyone cry, and I said that he never made me cry, so he made it his goal and then he asked me to speak at his baptism!  I told him that that is basically cheating. All week I have been thinking about what I could say to him at his baptism, but nothing was coming out right.  So I decided to just get up there and say whatever the spirit told me to say.  So, I get up there and look down at him, dressed in oversized white clothes, then I said two words and just started crying.  He was pretty happy about that, but I am going to get him back.

The baptismal service was super simple.  We don’t have a font in our "chapel" so we had to come into san felipe, and we had to have it at 2pm so that his mom could be there, which means that a lot of other members didn’t come cause that is right at the hour of lunch.  But in the end it was perfect for RC.  Simple, short, and powerful.  They actually didn’t have hot water, so the trooper got baptized in cold water in the middle of the winter! Man I just love him. He will probably be my last baptism in Chile, but it couldn’t have been more perfect.

Of course, getting it all to turn out was a NIGHTMARE!!!  I kept my stress under control for most of the week, but on Saturday night, when RC said that he wasn’t going to be able to come to church cause he had to do something for a friend . . . I ALMOST DIED!!  It has surprised me how hard satan was working on him, I have never had another investigator that had so much opposition.  But, as said before, RC is a trooper, and he really wanted this.  His older sister, who is a member, was so so happy for him, and also his mom. His mom still isn’t a member, but I am pretty sure that it is RC's goal to change that.  I think that of all the people that have gotten baptized during my mission, Luis changed the most, but a lot of the change I didn’t actually see.  RC changed, and I saw the whole process.  I can’t even think about it without getting emotional.  RC is my little brother that was accidentally born in Argentina, but God sent him to Chile so that I could find him and help him get back home.  He is super sad that I am leaving in 5 weeks, but I told him not to worry, because I will still be annoying him through facebook to read his scriptures every day!!

For the forth of july we wore red white and blue, but everyone thought it was for Chile . . . jajaja.  We had our normal branch activity, which was super fun!  We had a quick lesson by me and my comp, then we just played games until we were dead tired.  I have loved all my sectors, but there is something very special about Santa Maria for me. Probably one of the hardest sectors in my mission, but I love it!

My comp and I were sick sick sick this week!  On Thursday, we literally could not stand up without feeling sick.  No, we didn’t eat anything weird.  Plus, I have a cold that has made it difficult for me to breath, which makes sleeping hard.  I am so dead tired every day, but I keep working because I don’t have much time left to work.

What Elder D says is true. I am usually not trunky . . . when we are doing something. But there are some times like at night or when we aren’t teaching or actively looking for people to teach that I start thinking about home.

We had an awesome pday today.  A member took us to a bunch of cool tourist places here in los andes, and we got to wear jeans!!  It feels SO WEIRD!

We met our new mission president. He is super funny, and really falls well with me.  I still miss President Essig, cause he is my mission president.

I wish I could think of more cool stuff to tell you guys, but my head hurts, and I am even more exhausted from todays activities. Here's something to think about . . . you'll only get 4 more letters from me after this!  Crazy!!

I love you all, and if I think of something else bakan to say, I'll just send another email.
con amor,

Hna Ostler

Monday, June 30, 2014

I know with all my heart that God loves us

Dear Familia,
First of all, Chile lost!  The country was devastated!  We didn’t get to watch the game, we did our weekly planning during the game, but we heard what was going on cause our neighbors were very loud!  It was fun.  Sad we lost, but hey, thats life.

Second, president left, which is still really weird to me.  We are going to meet our new president on Thursday at zone conference.  I really would have liked finishing my mission with President Essig, but everything happens for a reason, and I know that there is something I must learn from our new president.  Remember when I was thinking about finishing my mission about a month early to prepare for school and to finish with President Essig?  Well, I am so happy I didn’t, cause then I would have never met Hermana Young.

Third, my fingers are freezing and this keyboard is lame, so this email might not be very long.

At the beginning of this week, Hermana Young got a letter from a friend who is serving on brasil.  He has about a year in his mission and he counseled her to pray for miracles everyday, cause sometimes the Lord is just waiting for us to ask.  So everyday, Hermana Young and I prayed for miracles, and everyday we witnessed them.  There were many days when we had no appointments, and we planned on doing contacts all day or knocking doors, but those were the days that we taught the most.

I think that the greatest miracle we saw was on Tuesday night when RC told us that he wants to be baptized!  With RC, I have been trying not to push him to the font.  I wanted this to be his choice, and on Tuesday we were teaching about praying with real intent, o sea, praying with the intent to act upon the answer that is received.  Then he said "I think I have already received my answer.  I want to be baptized!"  I was so in shock when he said that, and to make sure he was serious, I actually tried to convince him not to be baptized, well, more like I tried to convince him to wait a bit longer, and maybe pray a bit more so that he could be sure  But he stood his ground, and defended his stand.  He was very serious about being baptized.  So, we are now planning his baptism for this coming Sunday. He came to church this week all by himself! And he is reading the book of mormon.  He is changing.

Our miracles this week ranged from a successful contact to putting someone with a fecha. We also had an amazing lesson with a part member family.  We were watching the dvd of the restauracion, and the spirit was so strong you could have cut it with a knife!  Yesterday we had an amazing noche de hogar and so many less active members that we invited came! Hermana Young and I organized it, and we played that game where you all write the name of a noun (in this case we did animals) on a post it note, then you stick it on the forehead of the person sitting next to you.  Then we all go around the circle (pun intended . . dad) and ask a yes or no question about our animal (ex does it have 4 legs). The point is that you want to guess what you animal is with the least amount of questions. It was fun.  A member, who is just a goof, lost, and so he had to sing a song in front of everyone.  He started singing quietly, A child's prayer, and one by one everyone who knew the song joined in, and those who didn’t hummed along.  That was the best part.

Working in Santa Maria these past couple weeks has been a little hard, but this week was different.  The Lord made me walk to the edge of my faith and then take that last step into the dark, into the unknown, and that was were the miracles were. I know with all my heart that God loves us.  It doesn’t matter who we are, where we came from, how old we are, what type of car we drive, if we are tall, short, fat or skinny, He just loves us.  I have felt that love so many times as I have been here in Chile, and I have see his hand transform and change lives to many times to try to deny His existence.  He walks the path with us, and when we stray, He is ever waiting for us to come back. I love this gospel, I love testifying of Him.  It has made me happier than I have ever been.

Okay, there was my missionary moment.
My hands are really cold.
Sometimes I feel like we are just constantly camping.
Hermana Young and I planned the branch noche de hogar, and we did a scavenger hunt using scriptures as clues. .. it was awesome.

I had some hard moments this week, but prayer and faith got me through.
I learn more and more about the Savior everyday, and I think that I am finally coming to understand how to be a missionary.  The Lord gives us callings, and when we finally learn how to serve in that calling, He changes the calling.

I taught the gospel principle class in Sunday.  It was about repentance, and it was pretty good!

When I wake up in the morning, I can see my breath and my blankets are usually a little damp from the dew.

I am just writing random things down that come to my mind, cause I know mom likes that type of stuff.  Next week I will send a better email, but my hands are just really cold.

I love you all, and I invite you to pray for miracles and see what happens.

Con amor,
Hna Ostler

PS. I ate a peanut butter and Jelly sanwitch, and it was sooo good! 

Monday, June 23, 2014

The spirit that his words invited brought tears to my eyes

Dear Familia,
Wow, ADVENTURAS! How fun.  Yeah mom, Grandpa has written me a few letters about this familia that he still keeps in contact with.  That's so sweet!  When you save a girl, you save a generation!

So, are you ready for the big news!!  MY COMPANION!  She is from missuri . . aka Zion, and she is 19 years old.  Her name is Sister Young. She is the second oldest in her family, and the 4th missionary.  Her mom served in Germany around the time when the Berlin wall came down, her dad served in Concepcion Chile  (YAY CHILE!) and her older brother served in Nicaragua.  They also live on a family farm.  Like they have cows, sheep, and a large garden.  Its kinda scary how similar we are.  I look at her and see me, or how I was 16 months ago, expect that she is more humble than I was and is VERY patient.  She was in the MTC here for 6 weeks.  She has so so much faith.

Our week was crazy, cause we picked our companions up on Tuesday in the office, and we didn’t end up getting back until 8:30 pm.  But, I still took Hermana Young out to work for the last 30 minutes we had of that day.  Then, on Wednesday was the Chile game, and we aren’t allowed to watch the games, or work during the games . . . well its kinda impossible to work.  So we had district class in the morning and then our weekly planning session.  In the end, we only had about 2 hours to work that day.

Then, on Friday we had fase 1, its like orientation for new missionaries.  So we had to go back to Santiago, and we got back to Santa Maria at like 7:00, just in time for our weekly noche de hogar in the chapel.  Basically, Saturday and Sunday were our only normal days to do missionary work, and we just worked worked worked!  I am afraid that I might kill my companion before she can kill me . . .jajaja.  No, she's great.  She keeps up with me . . . jajaja.  Our numbers didn’t turn out so good this week, but I know that I worked, and I gave what I had to do.  I remember when I used to worry about numbers, but in the end all the Lord has asked is that I work with all my heart, might, mind, and strength.  So if I do that then I will be completing with the Lord, and it is the Lord who will judge me in the last day, not the zone leaders, not the district leaders, and not my mission president.

Yesterday was a miracle day.  I gave another talk in church, and this time I talked about missionary work.  Probably the best talk I have given in Chile.  We had 5 menos activos in church!  Three were part of that group o 18 year old boys that just all went inactive around the same time, about a year ago, and the other two were a married couple. So that was bakan! But, lo mas Bakan fue cuando church finished like three members came up to me and asked if they could work with us that day . . ummm . .wait . . what?  When does that ever happen?  oh wait . . . yesterday!!  It was great.  So we spent the day with the members visiting less active members.  We entered into a lot of houses that we usually can never get in, but with a member at our sides, doors were just opening.

We ended the day with a noche de hogar in the house of the familia V* . . . two of those young 18 year old inactives are a part of the familia.  They are fraternal twins.  They have started coming back to church.  And in the Noche de hogar, R* bore his testimony, and talked about how this last year and a half that he has been inactive he has been missing something, and gone from place to place looking for whatever it is he lost, and then he said that coming back to church has filled him again, and he feels good.  The smile on his face, and the spirit that his words invited, brought tears to my eyes.  He has changed.  I think that is what I love most about the mission, watching people change.

Being with Hermana Young has helped me see my own progression.  When I got to the mission I literally knew nothing about missionary work.  I thought I did, but the Lord has humbled me until I was finally teachable.  Then He taught me how to do His work, and how to help His children.  Now, I am able to teach all that I have learned to another.  And Hermana Young is so much like me, that I literally feel like if I pass all my knowledge on to her, then a part of me will stay here in Chile.

This morning we played basketball again.  Jefferson, I challenge you to a duel when I get home.  I basically made about a third of our teams points today.  Dribbling . . . not gonna lie, I suck.  But if you pass me the ball and I have a clear shot, I'll take that, and about 40% of the time I make it. And if I don’t have a clear shot, I will pass it to someone who does, then run in for the rebound.  Yeah, I know, impressive.

The mission is just full of so many moments. Happy moments, sad moments, crazy moments, ridiculous moments, heart breaking moments, and heart mending moments. You find yourself in so many situations that not even your unconscious mind could have come up with, and sometimes you feel so full of joy that you just want to throw your head back and sing, while other times you wonder if you can make it through the day.  But, you always do, and the Lord always gives you new days and new chances, new challenges, and new solutions.  Sometimes its hard, and sometimes it feels natural, but in the end ... its always worth it.

Thanks for all the support, all the love, and all the prayers.  Yes, I got the package, and I love it!  I'm not gonna ask for anything else cause . . well  . you know . . jajaja.  I love you all so much!  
Con amor, 

Hna Ostler

Monday, June 16, 2014

Today is the beginning of the end

Dear familia,
Great email. I just love hearing about your lives.  Wow mom, a bike ride?  Thats awesome.  Ï went on a 30 minute bike ride yesterday.... wait. .  I do that everyday!  I love biking.

So, about changes, I am staying in Santa Maria, and I still don’t know my companion.  She will arrive tomorrow from the MTC.  Yep, I will be finishing my mission training in los andes, just how I started.  Hna Alonos went to Llay llay! I was so happy for her, though it was hard for her to leave Santa Maria.  I’m pretty sure that it is going to break my heart when I leave Chile.  Dad, I can’t even imagine that moment, I tear up just thinking about leaving Chile.  Well, I might leave Chile, but Chile will never leave me.

Actually, I was thinking about you a lot, dad.  Happy Fath day!  Just today on the bus ride to san felipe I was thinking about how hard you have worked your whole life to get where you are at, and the amazing part is that you didn’t do it for you. All that you did in you life, you did for a future family that you hadn’t met yet.  All that you now do is for us, and it just blows my mind.

Lately I have been having such a hard time expressing myself.  I think it is because I have so many feelings, that sometimes I don’t really know what I am thinking or feeling, and I don’t ever have time to organize my  thoughts cause I am just riding my bike around Santa Maria sharing the gospel so much that I don’t have time for much else.  But I hope you know that I love you, dad.  I am here doing what I am doing because of you.

This week was okay.  We went to Santiago to hear Elder Robins.  WOW!  After Elder Holland, Elder Robins was my favorite general authority that has spoken in the mission.  He speaks spanish, so there was no need for a translator, which was also awesome. He talked about following the spirit, and just dove head first into the doctrine.  It was so inspiring.

The work was a little slow this week. We had a hard time finding people to teach, and only two of our investigators are progressing.  One of them is R*.  Oh, I just love that kid with all my heart!  I know that I was sent to Chile for him.  He had told us about 2 weeks ago that he wants to serve a mission, and we were just ecstatic! Then, just the other day I brought up the subject again, something about keeping the law of chastity so that he would be worthy to serve a mission, and he said "Hermana, I don’t think I am going to serve a mission."  My heart fell and I asked why. He shyly looked at the ground and said "I don’t have the money."  Then I said, "R*, if you really want to serve a mission, don’t let money be the problem.  Keep yourself worthy, and I will make sure that you serve a mission."

We had another noche de hoger with him, and he was participating.  He came to church all by himself.  The only thing that would keep him from being baptized would be a social fear. He is completely changing his life, and I hope that he stays strong even when the social pressures start to push on him.

So, this year is the first time that Chile has been in the world cup in like 30 year!  So Chile is going crazy!  We actually weren’t allowed to be out proselyting during the game.  So we did our weekly planning Friday night during the game.  But we knew that we had won when we heard all the shouting about 2 hours after the game had started.

We started working in another hick town called Santa filomena.  Basically, missionaries have never worked there.  We went on Friday and walked around the streets, getting to know the people. They are all super amable.  The town population is 950.  Give me two weeks and I will have contacted everyone!  JAJAJA . . no but really.

Hermana Alonso made mexican food this week. SO GOOD!  We ate way to much, and then almost couldn't walk afterwards .  . it was the best ever!

I got mail from Amy, Jackson, Wrendie Henry, and Mary ..  thanks so much for all your support!  Letters are the best!

I am basically just giving your random information about my week, cause again, I didn’t plan this email. I remember when I was good at writing, but that is another talent that the mission has put on hold.  I’m okay with that though.  Remember when my emails used to be all bakan.  Now they are just disorganized.  I just write down what comes to my mind, and I feel like I don’t have much to say.   

I am actually super excited to be training for my last change.  I feel like I will be leaving all my knowledge and experiences with the next generation.The past couple weeks in Santa Maria have been tough, but I am hoping to turn things around and give my new hija a good impression of the mission.  Today is the beginning of the end.  My first day of my last change-  How did the time pass so quickly? Hermana Chamberlain told me that my mission would fly by, and I didn’t believe her, but it is true.  I am super excited to see what my last change brings.  I want to give it all I have, and end just how I started.  Preaching the gospel.

I know that someday my mission will be a photo album of stories, and a box of memories. It will be trials overcome and good times gone by, an experience lived and lessons learned. It will be old friendships and worn our shoes, a smile on my face, and a piece of my heart, countless lives touched, and one changed forever.  The laughter will become an echo, and the tears will dry up, but the memories will live on forever.
I love you all!  Now go and preach the gospel!!
Con amor,
Hna Ostler

Monday, June 9, 2014

Beginnings are hard and endings are sad, it's the middle that counts

Dear Familia,

First of all . . WOW A NEW CAR!  It suits you well.  Second of all, I had a better week . . well, actually there was some down points, cause we have been struggling to find people to teach, but you get through and just keep going.  As one Elder once told me, "There are more doors to knock in Chile."

Actually, it was raining all week!  Which made the work hard, cause there is no one in the streets, and no one opens the door.  One day, at like 6 in the afternoon it just started pouring, and we were not prepared for the rain.  Soaked, Soaked SOAKED! But, a less active member saved us from the worst of it, and we passed about an hour in his house with his wife talking about the book of mormon while the rain passed.

Another day we went out the la higuera, one of the poblaciones that we are working in.  We hiked up a few hills in the mud until it was too dark to see, looking for less active members that are on our list.  But, since the roads don’t have names and the houses don’t have numbers, it was a little difficult.  In the end we found refuge in the house of a recent convert.  We had to take off our shoes cause they were caked in mud.

On Wednesday was my last zone conference in the mission.  Thats crazy.  It was also the last zone conference of President Essig, and it was so amazing!  I am going to miss President and Sister Essig so so much!  I’ll only have about 6 weeks without them, but the mission just won’t be the same.  The good thing is, is that the mission has taught me that change is good, and often needed.  I have learned so so much from President Essig and his wife. It will not surprise me when we see him speaking in General Conference sometime in the future.  Hna Johnson and I are both sure that he will someday be a general authority. In the three years that he has been a mission president, he has not only turned this mission around (I have seen graphs and numbers) but more than 15 general authorities have visited and spoken to the missionaries, including 3 apostles.  Wow, thats incredible.  Elder Robins is going to speak to us on Wednesday, that this will be the 4th general authority that I have heard in my mission.  Wow. What a blessing.

We are visiting a youth named RC.  I am counting him as my 6th brother.  I love him with all my heart.  When I met him 3 weeks ago, I had a hard time with him.  He was just immature, and I had little faith that he would progress.  The first time I met him, he said that he didn’t believe in God.  Since then, he has accepted a baptismal date, come to church, read the book of mormon, prayed to know if its true, and completely transformed into a different person.  It never ceases to amaze me what the gospel can do . . better stated, what God can do.

Last night we had an amazing noche de hogar with three of the less active members we are teaching, all young men age 18.  All three of them came to church.  RC also came to the noche de hogar, and he gave the closing prayer!  There were like 15 people there and he said the closing prayer!!!!  I think that was the best part of my week.  He still has doubts about being baptized, but they are more social than doctrinal.  He is worried about losing his friends and changing is life. But yesterday, those three less active young men invited RC to hang out with them after the noche de hogar.  YES!  SCORE!  I can just see every single one of those boys with a black name tag.

On Friday night, we had another noche de hogar, well, its the noche de hogar that we do every Friday night.  RC came, and one other recent convert.  It was a small group, but we had so much fun!  We played ninga for like 45 minutes!  BEST EVER! Then we ate potato chips and cookies  . not so good for the eating healthy plan.  So, my companion and I left our backpacks with the other sister missionaries and ran home.  RC came with us . . super fun.  I creamed them both!

On Saturday we found a Lamanite.  A man named Luis who is native mapuche.  We taught him about the book of mormon and how it was written by his ancestors and was written for him!  At the end of the lesson he offered the prayed in his native language, and both Hna Alsono and I felt the spirit so strongly. Thats Lamanite language! SWEET!

This morning we played basketball again.  My team lost by 2 points!  Lame.  But it was super fun.

Okay, to answer your questions.  Only a few friends from the mission email me every once and a while.  Grammie writes me, and Amy. . . thank so much for all your support! US food that I miss . .depends on the day, but i miss stuff like gold fish, peanut butter, and home made mom food.  The food I will miss from Chile. .  wow, the list is too long.  But a few things will be, Bon o Bon, galleta Toddy, and galleta Frac, the bread, pastel de choclo, empanadas de queso, sopapillas, and the ice cream! The best thing I ate last week . . . Sopapillas pasadas!  YUM!! And Boys . . listen to me . . PRACTICE YOUR PIANO!!

Okay, here are my closing thoughts, sorry for the disorder.  Hna Essig, in her closing testimony in zone conference said a lot of very deep things, but what most called my attention was when she said "Sometimes you have to look back to see how far you've come." I did that this week.  I took out my first mission journal and read through my first days in the mission.  Wow, I took a trip to the past and it surprised me.  I am not nearly done with journey, but I have come far.  The goal is to be perfect, even as Christ is perfect, and I feel like the mission has given me a push start, like the swimmers who push off the wall to get a boost.  That push, for me, was and is the mission.  The course still must be swam, but that boost gives directions and speed.  The mission boost started my progression. I don’t feel like the same person.  My goals have changed.  My outlook on life has changed. And my vision of the future and of myself have changed.

In zone conference all those who just arrived and its their first zone conference have to present themselves in the beginning, and at the end of the conference all those who are finishing the mission give their testimony.  I remember listening to the testimonies of all those who came before me, but I never thought that it would actually be my turn someday. But it was.  As I was giving y testimony, tears gathered in my eyes as I realized that the mission isn’t going to last forever.  Beginnings are hard, and endings are sad, its the middle that counts.  I am going to make these last few weeks count.

I love you so much, family.  Thanks for all the support and all the letters.  You really are the best!
Con AMor,

Hna Ostler

Monday, June 2, 2014

We teach, we commit and we follow up!

Dear family,
Okay, I had no idea that Nicole was even dating, and Sarah . . baby?  I feel like I am just so out of it.  Right now I am exhausted.  We played basketball this morning with some members, and Chubs would have been proud of my balling skills.  I ran my butt off chasing Hna Neilson around. But it was so fun. A few times I totally sunk the ball . . sweet!  But I usually hung out under the basket and caught all the rebounds . . that's the key to basketball . . REBOUNDS!  I whacked a few times and now I just hurt all over.  

Plus, this week, WE GOT BIKES!  We have just been whipping around our sector, but it is more tiring.  We are starting to explore more of the surrounding hick towns.  We have been going out to La Higuera, which is up hill the whole way.  This first time we went there on bike, Hermana Alonso literally almost fainted.  We had to stop so that she could lay down on the side of the road.  But we are getting used to working with bikes.

On Thursday, after weekly planning we had like no appointments, so we got on our bikes to see where we would end up.  We ended up discovering a tiny poblacion about 15 or 20 minutes from Santa Maria.  This is untouched territory we are talking about.  I don’t know the last time that missionaries have been there. So we started knocking doors and the people are very receptive.  It was super fun.

On Friday Hna J and I had leadership counsel in Santiago.  Its a meeting once a month for all the leaders.  I have been like three times.  I am not a sister leader any more, just a trainer, but all the trainers also go.  Basically its pre zone conference, but it was still fun cause I got to see a bunch of my friends.  But we are coming up to a time of great changes in the mission. Almost all the leaders that were there are either leaving this change or the next, plus in 2 weeks we are getting a new president.  So this mission is going to change greatly. I however, will not be here for it, and that's okay.  This mission was perfect for me.

In the end, the week was actually a little difficult, cause we are just not finding anyone to teach.  All our appointments have been falling through, and te menos activos that we are visiting just don’t want to progress.  On Saturday night, I honestly just didn’t know what to do after all the citas fell through again.  So we sat down on a bench in the plaza.  We talked about a lot of things, and in the end, Hna Alonso said that we need to change our perspective.

Santa Maria is a hard sector. Basically it is the Justo Duract of the mission.  But, Hna Alonso said that if we look at the sector as a burden, then we will never see it progress. But if we see it as a privilege to work here, we will start to see progression.  Everything depends on the outlook and the attitude.  If one says, "I will never run a marathon" then they never will, cause they won’t work for it.  But if one says "Hey, I’m going to run a marathon."  There, the goal was set, and now a plan will be put in to practice, and eventually that person will succeed.  Its the same.  If we say "This sector is too hard, and we won’t have baptisms.  The branch is weak, and won’t progress.  So I will just endure until transfers."  Well, with that outlook a missionary won’t see any progression, cause they won’t work for it.  But if you change the outlook too "Yeah, this sector might be difficult, but its not impossible. Actually, its a privilege to be working here and to have the opportunity to help this branch. LETS DO THIS THING!" then that missionary will sow, and when one sows, eventually there will be reaping. So its going to be tough, but its not impossible.

That night on the bench in the plaza, Hna Alonso really helped me.  I was just really down, for a lot of different reasons, but she really helped me see the situation in a different light. I guess after spending my whole mission just helping and giving, I had to be humble and realize that I was not strong enough to lift myself, and I too needed a hand.  But, after my park bench therapy I was better, though sometimes I still get down.  I know its just Satan trying to get at me for this last stretch of the mission, but there is no game.

So I am doing okay.  I am just super exhausted. Today we are just going to chill, and I think I am going to bake something.  Sometimes its weird to think that life keeps moving up there in the US, that people are changing, getting married, having babies and going on missions. My world down here is much more simple.  We teach, they commit, and we follow up. Real life seems much harder.  But hey . . as Elder Holland told us . . THIS IS REAL LIFE. There is no going back.

Okay, I don’t know what else to write.  Oh, we are going to start a eating healthy plan. Me, Hna Alonso, Hna Nielson and Hna J.  I don’t know if I told you, but we live in a house with the other sisters in our branch. It’s so fun!  So we are going to start eating healthy.  Carrot sticks - yum!  Actually, I don’t really like carrots. . well . . kinda.

Yeah, when I start talking about carrots, it means that I really don’t have anything else to say.  Love you all. Have a great week!  And take care of my copper!  Pobrecito!
Con Amor,

Hna Ostler 

Monday, May 26, 2014

I was called on a mission to serve God's children

Dear Familia,
Wow, great email.  I had no idea there was a skinner reunion planned.  . BAKAN! Wow, everyone looks so old in that picture.  So, I usually plan a little of what I am going to write you, but this week I didn't.  We were so busy.  The reactivation plan is different.  I’m not really sure where to focus our efforts yet. Its a little difficult, cause in normal missionary work, if an investigator is not progressing then you drop them and find someone else who wants to complete with their commitments. But in this situation, if an inactive is not progressing you can’t just drop them and knock the next door, cause there is only a certain amount of inactives in the sector.  But, I think that after some time I will adapt better, and learn how to help these people return to the fold.

We are out looking for the lost sheep, and when we find them, just like Jesus, we put them over our shoulders and bring them home.  We had three inactives in church this week, and two investigators.  In our sector there is like a group of young men of 18 to 20 years old that are inactive.  I don’t know what happened with this group, but they all went astray about two years ago, so Hermana Alonso and I are working with them specifically, cause they are the future leaders here in Santa Maria.

Hermana Alonso is amazing.  I think I already told you about how she is a doctor and has 2 younger sisters. We live with two other sisters.  It is so fun living with other sisters!  Last night we turned our gas stove on and made shmores! So fun!  Our house is freezing!  The water in the shower only gets like luke warm, and the electricity is terrible so we can’t have all the heaters going at once.  But, my sleeping bag keeps me warm in the night.  The worst is studying in the morning with wet hair, also at night when the sun goes down and we don’t have any appointments so we freeze in the streets! Santa Maria is one of the coldest sectors, but it is so beautiful.

Once or twice a week we go out to a little pobalcation, La Higuera, to work, and it is breath taking. The valley of Santa Maria is filled with autumn painted vineyards that stretch to the base of the snow caped, Andes mountains.  Beautiful.

The branch is tiny.  We actually don’t have a chapel.  We meet in a house.  Yes, a pink house on main street.  I think about 40 people came last Sunday.  I had to give a talk, and we taught the gospel principles class.  We are focusing on creating branch unity.  Every Friday night the missionaries host a FHE in the "Chapel." We are reading the Book of Mormon as a branch, and in the FHE we try to make the reading fun. This Friday we split into two groups and each was assigned a chapter, and given a bag of objects.  Your group had to act out the chapter using all the items in the bag. My group had 1 nefi 3 . . super awesome!  There were only 5 people in my group, but I encouraged everyone to participate, and though in the beginning everyone was a little timid, by the end we were all laughing at the ridiculousness of our skit. On Sunday, a couple that was in my group thanked me for helping them have a good time and break out of their shell.

Also, on Saturday at 12 pm we teach english classes.  This Saturday was our first class. When Hermana J handed me the marker for the white board and said I was in charge, I felt like I had returned to my territory.  I love teaching English!  Hermana Alonso also speaks English, so we took over the class and made a pretty good team.

I love finishing the training of new missionaries.  Today I was talking to Hermana Alonso about it, and she commented that from her first trainer she learned about the missionary schedule, about how to teach, about the rules, what you can and can’t do, but from me she said that she is learning how to love the mission.  She said that she is learning how to have patience, how to love the people, and how to make the service fun.  I think that after the terrible experience I had with a companion, God has given me the chance to teach the new missionaries what I was never taught, to give them what I didn't have.  To love them and teach them to love.

I love my mission, and I can’t imagine my life without it. I know that I wasn’t called to baptize everyone, which is a good thing, cause I would have failed.  But, I think that more than anything, I was called to help the other missionaries who struggle, which is why I had to pass through all those challenges in the beginning of my mission.  The Lord truly knows what He is doing.  I was called on a mission to serve Gods children, and that includes my companions.

Bueno, like I said, I didn’t really plan this email, so I don’t really have much else to say. But, I hope you enjoy. Have a great week!  I love you all!  Also, just so you know I visited some amazing old people this week!  They are the best!  
Con Amor, 

Hna Ostler

Monday, May 19, 2014

We come, we work, we love, laugh and cry, then we leave and do it all over again

Dear Familia,
Wow, what a week.  First of all . . Harrison! Sweet, way to open the doors to the celestial kingdom for six of your brothers and sisters.  If someone baptized six people at a time here in Santiago, they might go down in history. It is also sweet that you are with a spanish speaker. I remember when they put me with Hermana Lima, from Brasil, and I was so scared cause I didn’t know if she could speak spanish, but she ended up being one of my favorite companions.  Tell your comp to make you milonesas! So GOOD!

Okay, now for the cambios.  Yes, I left llay llay.  Sad face.  I really really loved Llay llay, and as always, I shed a good amount of tears.  But, such is the mission.  We come, we work, we love, laugh and cry, then we leave and do it all over again.

My last week in Llay llay was so great!  We saw so many miracles.  M & J got in a rocket and took off in their progression.  They couldn't come to church this week cause one of their daughters was sick.  But we went by to visit them in the night, and we talked about the importance of pray, scripture study, and attending church . . or OLA as we call it, orar, leer, y asistir la iglesia.  I felt prompted to share with them a personal story. 

I told them how about 6 years ago when dad put the goal to read the scriptures as a family for one year without missing a day. I explained how reading the scriptures and praying together as a family changed the atmosphere in my home, and how we came to love and respect each other more, and the contention that used to fill the house left, and was replaced by the spirit of the Lord.  I testified how by small and simple things, great things are truly brought to pass.

After I shared that story, they looked at each other, with that knowing look, then M explained to us that 5 weeks ago, before we arrived at their house, they were on the verge of separating.  They always argued, and sometime couldn't even stand to be around each other. The spirit of contention filled their home. Then she said "But, when you two showed up, everything change." I have been a first hand witness to that change. When we first arrived they barely looked at each other, and now they laugh together, and they anxiously await our next visit.  I prayed my whole mission to find a family like J & M, and now I got changed. But I know that I did what I had to do. After the lesson, I told them that I was leaving, and they were super sad.  But God has a reason for everything, and instead of being upset or angry that I won’t be there to see them progress or to see them get baptized, I am only grateful that God allowed me to cross paths with them, and that through me, He was able to touch their lives and begin to heal their wounds.

This week we also went to the hospital a few times. We found out that one of our recent converts is in the hospital. I don’t think that I have ever told you all about Nora.  She is just the funniest old woman you will ever meet.  She was baptized about 2 months ago, and only has missed church once.  But, her health is not looking so good, so we spent some time visiting her. And yesterday, when I had to leave her there in that hospital bed, not knowing if I will ever see her again in this life, broke my heart.  I cried and she cried as I told her the news of the changes. But, if it is God's will, she will hold on for a few more months so that I can visit her one last time when you guys come down to chile.

Its hard leaving a sector.  Its hard saying goodbye. But this time as I packed up my suitcases, I felt a calmness.  I felt true peace, and I knew that all the work I had done in llay llay was accepted by the Lord, and that all the people that we have found and taught will be well taken care of.

But, I am sure you are all dying to know where I got sent.  The good news is that I didn't leave los andes!  Woot!  I am training again in Santa Maria.  I will be finishing the training of Hermana Alonso, she is one of the sisters that was in my group of sisters.  I have done and intercambio with her, and she was one of the sisters that wanted to be my companion. Actually just the other day I called her to talk and just see how she was doing and how she was adjusting to the mission, and I said "just wait and see, one day we will be companions." We both laughed cause the probability was slight. And today, when she came to pick me up, the first thing she said was "How did you know?" It was super funny.  But I am so happy to be here working with her, and though it is hard to leave a sector, learning a new sector is always fun.  There are always more people to meet, more people to help, and more people to love.

Here in Santa Maria (or Holy Mary . .  jajaja) if there is not real progression the stake president is going to close the branch.  So the focus of this sector is a little different.  We are putting 50% of our efforts in finding new people and baptizing, and the other 50% of our effort goes in to reactivation.  Basically hunting down the inactive members and bringing them back to church.  It is going to be different.  For example, the standard of street contacts for the whole mission is 140 a week for companionship, for us it is 70 a week.  This is going to take some adjusting, but in the end its what this branch needs.  It does no good to baptize a bunch of people if they are just going to walk in the front door, and out the back.

Santa Maria is so so so beautiful. Its in the middle of grape land. It boarders right with vina del mar, and sometimes you can’t see the end of these grape vineyards. We are going to get bikes, cause our sector is super big, and we have to travel out to the mini hick towns to visit a lot of the less active members.  So its just going to be a fun party.

Hermana Alonso is great.  She is 25, a convert of 3 years, and from MEXICO! Orale! She started medical school when she was 17, and just finished about a year ago.  Then she put her career on hold and came on a mission. Wow, incredible. Her conversion story is just amazing!  This cambio is only 4 weeks, and I know that it is just going to fly by.

My last week with only Hermana Arroyo was so great.  We put the batteries in and just worked worked worked! We had 5 people in church.  It was amazing. Llay llay is going to be a ward any day now.

Okay, now one short story before I sign off.  On Tuesday, Hermana Arroyo and I went to the center to do street contacts. While there, I passed an old man, and the spirit said "Talk to him."  Did I listen?  Nope.  Idiot.  Then I passed him again, and this time he was looking at me as if he wanted to talk. And the spirit said "Hey, are you listening? I said . .  " before the spirit could finish his sentence I had already started a conversation with the old man.  I asked him how he was doing and he said not so good.  I talked to him for about 20 minutes, and he told me about how his life is basically falling apart. His name is Edwardo, and I just listened to him as he talked, and at the end I testified that despite how things may appear, God really does love him, and only sends difficulties so that we can be made stronger. I tried to set an appointment with him, but he said that he isn’t from llay llay.  He is from san felipe.  He said that about an hour ago he couldn’t stand being alone in his house anymore, so he got on a bus and ended up in llay llay.  I tried to give him a book of mormon, but he wouldn’t accept.  I tried to give him a passalong card, but he said he already had one.  So I asked, what can I give you.  He took my hand and said "you have listened to me, and you have been my friend.  That is enough.  Thank you."  Then he walked away.  I know, without a doubt that God led Edwardo to llay llay that day just so that he could talk to me, so that he could share is load, and walk away a little bit lighter.

Man I love being a missionary.

Thanks for all the support and love.  You guys are really the greatest.  Now go and visit some old people. First of all they are usually a hoot, and second of all they are usually alone.  
Con amor,

Hna Ostler