Monday, February 24, 2014

God will give her another chance . . . . He always does

Dear familia,
I didn’t get Harrison's email from last week, please forward it! Also, I haven't finished reading your email yet, cause I printed it cause we had to go back to the pench cause we got a refri change and its a long story so I just printed to read on the way but then I didn’t have time, so I have read most of it and skimmed the rest.  Sounds like the family is doing great!  Thanks dad for the advise about DM. She isn’t Buddhist, but she is starting, little by little, to understand the concept of God.  We taught her once this week and I invited her to be baptized . .in english!  I don’t know if I did it like it says in PMG cause I never read PMG in english. She said she wants to be baptized, but she wants to wait to be baptized with her husband who is still living in china and waiting for his visa.  So we'll see how that goes.

About Cambios, once again, mom you are right.  I am staying here in vivaceta with Hermana Peralta.  I am happy to be starting a new change cause this last change was just weird and long, and I just need a new start.  I am also happy to be staying in vivaceta.  I still feel like there is much I can do here, even though it is a harder sector.  I love the people so much.

Ja* didn’t get baptized cause she started smoking again.  And she hasn’t been coming to church.  She still wants to get baptized. . . . . 

About Sy*, we still haven't been able to find her, and I think it is time to let go.  But, I know that God will give her another chance.  He always does.

The weeks always start out good, with finding new people, teaching, inviting people to be baptized and all that other missionary stuff we do, but then you get to Friday and your pday fire has burnt out, and you basically drag yourself for two more days, but then you usually get a Sunday boost when you see investigators in church and menos activos which gets your through until pday.  This last change was no different, except that we rarely had people in church.  Every Sunday night when I had to write a zero next to investigators in church and progressando, I asked myself what more I could have done.  

This week, on Friday when we passed by Ja's house and she was smoking again, we took out another cita with her, and then we walked around the corner and leaned against the wall.  The only words that came to my mind where "What more could I have done for my vineyard."  I feel like I am giving it all.  I pray for these people, I fast for them, I laugh with them, and I cry for them.  I dream about them, and I never stop thinking of what more I can do to help them, but in the end it doesn't seem to be enough.  I can’t make them go to church and progress anymore than I can make the sun go away on the scorching hot days.

I remember feeling this way in Simon Bolivar, except the difference now is that I really am giving all I have.  I remember that when I left Simon Bolivar I wondered if I had done any good there.  Well, this week, I had the opportunity to go back for interchanges.  And guess who is in Simon Bolivar right now?  HNA LIMA!  So I got to do intercambios in Simon Bolivar with Hermana Lima . .it was the best.  We were working in a different sector, but it was still so cool to go back.  And in the night we had a ward family home evening.  Mostly less active members and investigators were there, but there was a handful of members, and I was surprised at how many people remembered me.  The bishop even remembered my name and the first thing he said to me was "wow, your Spanish has improved."  But, the best part of going back was when the sister missionary who is working in my old sector told me that E* would be getting baptized on Sunday. Remember her?  Wow, who knew that seed would grow.  You really never know what good you are doing, and I was lucky enough to go back and see the fruits of some of my labor.

The mission is really just a wonderful time of growing and learning and changing.  Over the past few weeks, I have felt the overwhelming feeling that this is were I belong.  I am doing exactly what I need to be doing at this time in my life, and I love it.

On Sunday Hermana Peralta and I taught relief society, it was fun.  We did it missionary style, and took turns, and asked inspired questions, and all that stuff that we usually do.

Other random stuff.  We are teaching a young woman from Haiti, and she is awesome. Her name is D*, and one day she invited us over for lunch. . food from Haiti is super good!  Her native language is Creole, but she is also fluent in french, and she speaks Spanish very well.  I am learning french from her.  We got her a book of Mormon in french, and she is teaching me how to pronounce the words.  Actually, when I read french its not so hard to understand. I’m not sure why, maybe my brain is just so used to working in a different language and stuff.  Whats hard is pronouncing the words.

I usually think in a mix of Spanish and english.  When I am thinking about the gospel, it is always in Spanish.  For example, when I teach DM, the thoughts come to my mind in Spanish and I translate them into english.  And yes, I have had countless dreams in Spanish.

I feel super bad for Harrison and what he is passing through with his president. Being a missionary opens your eyes to things that happen in the church that come from man and not from God.  I am so happy that I will one day be judged by Jesus Christ, who is just and perfect, and not by my district leader.  Although my district leader is awesome . . jajaja.

Yep, that's all I got to say about the week.  I hope there is more news for next week.  Love you all!
Con amor, 

Hna Ostler   

Monday, February 17, 2014

I got to teach the plan of salvation in English

Dear Familia,

First of all, Jefferson is a rock star!  Like honestly, who does that?  You know like play for varsity and stuff? Second of all, my week was okay.  Hna Peralta and I worked our butts off. We found so many new investigators . .  it was insane!  We got insynch again and are now teaching really well together.  I’m not sure what will happen with the changes this week, the only thing I know is that I don’t want to leave vivaceta.  Though it is one of the more difficult sectors of my mission, I just love the people here.

The other day we contacted this man reading a book just outside his work, and I had never seen him before, but I just loved him!  I wanted so badly for him to hear the gospel, for him to change his life.  But . .  sadly, like many other cases he wouldn't open his heart to the possibility of the restoration of the gospel.  But that happens all the time.  The further I get into my mission, the more I love these people.

This week, I was also dead tired!  I’ve never been so tired in my life.  It’s like there is a war going on inside me, cause my body is screaming for me to slow down, to take a break, but my heart whispers to me to go talk to that woman sitting on the bench, to go knock one more door, because maybe behind that door is your golden family.

After completing one year in the mission, I was reading through chapter 1 of PME about what it means to be a misionero de exito.  I thought back to my first day in the mission and my first 3 changes, and how I always felt so inadequate, and like I really wasn’t completing my call of being a missionary.  A lot of times I felt like I wasn’t doing any good here in Chile.  But, after reading through that section again in PME, I realized I have come a long way.  I won’t say that I have achieved what PME illustrates as a successful missionary, but I have made progress, and the good news is that I still have six months to work on it.

Also, I thought that after 1 year in the mission I might feel different.  True, I have more experience today than I had yesterday, but, in the end, I am still waking up at 7:30 every day, studying for 3 hours, preaching in the streets, in the doorways, and in the houses, returning to the apartment at 10, planning, going to bed at 11:30, and then waking up the next day and doing it all over again.  Maybe in six months when my schedule changes I will feel different, but for now I am just going to keep doing the same thing, and as always, try to improve.

So, the whole Sy* thing is still breaking my heart.  And I think we are going to have to drop her indefinitely.  But, I guess it is better to find the people who are really going to progress. Its just hard for me to give up on someone.  Being in the mission and seeing so many miracles has planted in me the firm belief that people can and do change when they come in contact with the gospel of Jesus Christ. But, there is still hope for this change, because Ja* might get baptized this Sunday.  She has quit smoking, and now her only obstacle is not feeling ready for baptism.  She is so ready!  Like she is already planning on serving a mission in a year and getting married in the temple.  She has planned FHE with her family, signed up to receive the Liahona every month, and she feels guilt when she misses church. So we are praying that she will recognize God's answer when it comes.

Also, we visited DM, the Chinese woman, a few times this week.  We even got her a BOM in Chinese.  Wow, she is an amazing woman.  This week I had the opportunity to teach her parts of the plan of salvation in English.  I was practicing all week, cause it is so so so hard to teach in english.  Well, as we started teaching her, I quickly realized that she really has no idea who God is.  So, I changed the direction of the lesson, and I was able to testify to her that there is a God, and that He loves her and desires her happiness.  My words seemed very simple as I spoke them in English, but I felt the spirit as I said them, and it was a very special opportunity for me to testify to someone of Gods love in my native language.  I know that someday she will hear the gospel in her own tongue, because that is a prophesy of God, but for now, I am relying on the spirit to carry the message to her heart even if she doesn’t understand perfectly every word.

Question for dad: How do you teach people who don’t have a Christian background?  Like where do you start?  With Joseph Smith?

The bishops daughter who always accompanies us to lessons, got her mission call this week, and she played a nasty trick on us.  Friday afternoon she called us and said that she needed us to come to her house at 9 that night because she had news for us.  Then she said, well, actually its because my dad, the bishop needs to talk to you.  WHAT?  We were freaking out all day. Like what could the bishop possibly have to say to us?  Did we do something wrong?  But, in the end, she just wanted us to be there for when she opened her call . . . jajaja.  Funny ..  NOT!  She got called to Buenos Aries Argentina North.  Is that where Kraymer served?  If so, could you ask him what it was like, and other random info about the mission that a mother would like to know.  She will be the first missionary in the family, and her mom is very worried.

But, yay, that was basically my week.  It felt really long for some reason.  We also had a special stake conference where the area presidency spoke to us via broadcast.  Like Elder cook and Elder Corbridge.  It was sweet, but because it was in the stake center, we didn’t have anyone in church . .but there is always the next week to try again.  My theme song lately has been "The Sun'll Come Out Tomorrow."  In the mission there are so many ups and downs, and sometimes when you are stuck in a day that is gray and lonely, you just have to stick out your chin and grin and say, that the sun'll come out tomorrow.

I love you all!
Thanks for all the support
Con amor,
Hna Ostler

Monday, February 10, 2014

"You're not going to come back?"

Basically, I love peanut butter!

Dear Familia,
Wow, what a week!  I would like to some how make this dramatic, the news I am about to tell you, but . . . I’m so tired that I am just going to tell you.  So, I am not with Hermana Perez anymore, I am with . . you are never going to believe this, but my new companion is . .. are you ready to know?  I think you might have heard of her before.  Okay I am just going to tell you now.  I am now the senior companion of . . Hermana Peralta!  WHAT?  

Okay, here is the story.  So we had interviews last Monday, and President talked to me a lot about Hermana Peralta, and how our relationship was, cause apparently I am the only companion she has had that she hasn't had problems with, and he wanted to know why.  I was honest with him and told him that being with Hermana Peralta wasn’t the easiest thing, but that I truly tried to love her and accept her how she was.  I remembered that she said things how they were, and some people took offense when no offense was meant.  I told president that in our house we were always taught to not take offense when none is meant, and to not look at the mote in your brothers eye when you have a beam in yours.

I understand how Hermana Peralta is, so I understand that her companions might not have gotten along with her, but a better example of a companion mistreating someone would be Hermana Hernandez, not Hermana Peralta.  So, apparently during her interview, a lot was said . . . . .  and he asked her what she wanted.  The only thing she wanted was to be my companion again.  Well, it ended up working out for president, cause on Wednesday another sister had to leave the mission for knee problems, so he had to do emergency changes anyway.

He called Hermana Perez and I Tuesday night to tell us of the changes.  Hermana Perez was sad.  So was I.  The change was just so sudden, and Hermana Perez felt like she was finally starting to learn, and she was so worried that she wouldn't be able to adjust to a new companion.  But, I explained to her that the same thing happened to me.  That I was changed after one month with my trainer, and that sometimes you just have to learn to accept the Lords will.  Hermana Perez went to Lampa!  I was a little jealous, but I told her that she would love it!  And her new trainer is awesome, and I think she will be fine.

So now I am here with Hermana Peralta!  It has been great!  I honestly feel like I am just hanging out with an old friend.  When she first got here it was a little stressful to try to teach her everything, but then one night she said, "Hermana Ostler, I’m not a new missionary, you don’t have to explain how we make goals.  I already know that."  It was kinda funny cause I realized that I was just in training mode and I had been explaining so many things to her, things she already new.

I enjoyed training, but it is hard, and since Hermana Peralta has arrived, I have felt the weight of the sector slow lifted and shared.  Its nice having a companion who knows how to do a good contact, and who knows how to help investigators progress.

This week sacamos la mugre, como dicen en chile.  We worked and worked and worked. We had a lesson with Sy*, I think I talked about her once.  I love her so much, and the only thing I want for her is to progress.  But for me, she is more than just a baptismal statistic, she is an old friend who needs salvation.  Every time I teach her, I feel so desperate.  Like she NEEDS to understand what we are teaching her so she can make it to the celestial kingdom. But this last lesson we had with her, she was pulling out all her old excuses of, "Eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die  . . and if we are found guilty God will beat us with a few stripes."

When the lesson was turning into a battle, I looked at Sy* in the eyes and said that if she wasn’t willing to progress . . . But I didn’t finish the sentence, cause as I looked at her I felt such love, and I didn’t want to tell her that we were going to drop her.  But I knew that I had to because she wasn’t progressing.  Tears filled my eyes, and I opened my mouth to finish the sentence, but she caught on to what I was telling her, and she finished the sentence with a choked cry "You're not going to come back?"  Tears filled her eyes as well, and we cried together.  I have never felt such pain for someone who wasn't willing to change.  I pleaded with her to come to church, to stop smoking, but she just won't.  "What more could I have done for my vineyard?"  Maybe God let me feel the pain that He feels when one of His children chooses not to follow Him, because it was literally tearing me up.

Well, we didn't end up dropping her, cause she promised to come to church, and that she would start trying to dejar a fumar.  I think she needed that scare, to help her understand the situation.  Unfortunately, though we passed by for her on Sunday, she didn’t answer the door or her phone.  Now I don’t know what to do for her, and sometimes it kills me that I just can’t take away her agency for 3 hours and make her come to church.  

This week we found and taught a women from China named DM.  She is so sweet, and speaks better English than Spanish.  She says that she wants to chose a Christian church to bring her daughter to, but that in China there are very few Christian churches, and here there are so many, so she is confused about which one to join.  Sound familiar?  So we taught her pieces of the first lesson and gave her a book of Mormon.  I mostly taught her in English so that she could understand . . but man it was hard!  It is so much easier to speak Spanish. Now we have been practicing lesson two in English to teach it to her tomorrow, but I think it is harder for me than for Hermana Peralta . . jajaja.

We also helped a woman peel garlic . . . like not just one clove of garlic, but like 7 pounds of garlic!  My hands still smell! but it was fun, something different, and we also taught the first lesson while peeling garlic.

For the past two weeks we haven’t had anyone in church, and it has been worrying me. This week we were counting on three people, si o si, that were going to come.  But when we called them Sunday morning they didn’t answer.  I called every investigator I could think of . .but nothing! We had been fasting to have at least one person in church, but sadly, for the third Sunday in a row, we enter the chapel alone.  I decided to accept the situation as it was, and just try harder the next week.

The opening song was "All is Well."  And the congregation sang it, I felt such a warm peace, that even though we didn’t have anyone in church, all was well.  Just before we finished the last chorus, guess who entered the chapel?  Ja* and her palolo.  They were supposed to be at the beach for vacations?  What were they doing in church?  I decided not to ask questions, but to say a prayer and thank the Lord for answering our fast.

So those are the highlights of my week.  I pray for all of you frequently, and hope you all are well.  Remember to keep the commandments, even if they are hard or if you don’t understand them.  Obedience is the only way to have happiness in this life.  

Con Amor,
Hna Ostler

Ps, if you send a package, which you don’t have to, could you include a mini hymn book in english!  Thanks

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Don't let those straws break your backs

Dear Familia,
Wow, sometimes after reading the family email, I just sit back for a moment in awe at how amazing our family is.

Okay, so as for my week.  It was a little difficult emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually.  Training Hermana Perez is very different from training Hermana Morley.  I have tried to love her and be patient with her as she is going through the learning processes and adjusting process that all new missionaries go through.  Though, over the weeks my stress load has been building up, and causing me to swing between moments of frustration and desperation to tolerance and patience.

This past week, there was little unity between Hermana Perez and I, and I know that a lot of it was my fault.  Because I was frustrated and let it show, Hermana Perez was left to guess why I was frustrated.  The tremendous weight of the well being of my sector was starting to feel heavy on my back this week.  For example, a few things I have to worry about: making all the phone calls, saving lessons that start to move in the wrong direction, getting enough contacts in every day, leading companionship planning every night, helping investigators to church and progressing, inviting new investigators to be baptized, pulling through with our numbers, and then explaining it ALL to Hermana Perez.

So there is an example of the weight on my back.  Not very big things, but bunched together it makes a heavy load.  And I tried so so so so hard to keep a good attitude and a smile through the hot long days of knocking doors to empty houses.  But, on Wednesday night when we finally got up to the apartment, I was frustrated, and all I wanted to do was plan quickly and then go to bed.  I didn't even want to talk to Hermana Perez and have to answer all her question.

As we sat down to plan, I realized that I didn't have my agenda.  The straw landed on my back and I had to decided if I was going to let it break me, or if I would stand tall and resist. But, I guess I was tired of resisting and I let that straw break me.  I transformed into the old me that let all the little stuff push me over, and I had a mini freak out session.  Not like yelling, crying or screaming, but all my emotions boiling over.  The interesting thing was that while I was stressing and letting out the bad fruit, it felt unnatural.  A reaction that used to be common for me, turned into something I almost had to force.

Well, we planned quickly, despite my mood, and after planning I realized that I was wrong. So I apologized for my reaction to the situation, but I knew I couldn't change the past. Well, my simple apology turning into a companionship inventory that lasted awhile. There had been a lack of communication in the companionship, just as much my fault as hers, but in the end, she just needed to talk.  So she did.  She talked a lot about her family, her past, her weaknesses, and how she had been feeling since arriving to the mission.  It was a talk that she needed to have, and I mostly just listened.

When we finally went to bed, I was still worried about my agenda.  A missionary without an agenda is like singer without a voice.  It just can’t function right.  The next day, Hermana Perez was much better, and we were able to be more open with each other.  I called Ja* like 8 times to see if I left my agenda at her house, but she was working.  Also I distinctly remember having it in my hand.  When we left the house that day to work, I had a prayer in my heart that somehow I would find my agenda.  Maybe in the street if it had fallen, or at Ja's house.  Well, as we left the apartment building, the man at the front desk called me back.  Guess what he had found just inside the front gate of the apartment building?  Yep, my agenda.

There is a lesson in all this . . well, a few actually.  One is that God is in control of everything, and sometimes He uses small and simple things, like a lost agenda, to bring about great things, like more companionship unity.  And the second lesson would be .  . DON'T FREAK OUT ABOUT A LOST AGENDA, FOR CRYING IN A BUCKET!  Don’t let those small straws break you.  Some might say "It’s not my fault if my back can’t hold anymore."  Well, actually it is, because if you let your back break, then that means you forgot to pull from the ultimate source of strength: our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Don’t forget that you are not holding that load alone.

So I hope that I have learned that when the agenda is lost, when the appointments fall through, when the homework load builds up, when the food burns, when the kids are crying, and when the straws build up, adding more and more weight to my load, that I don’t have to break, because the Lord is right there with me, holding my load too.

Okay, mas sobre esa semana . . hmm.  We didn’t have anyone in church again.  Sad.  But fast and testimony meeting was great!  A lot of the members bore their testimonies, and the common theme was that trails only make you stronger.  It was just what I needed.  Not only to have the common message reinforces, but to see that all these people I have come to love so much are also passing through hard times, and not just me.

The noche de hoger went well.  Fa* couldn’t come, but Ja's boyfriend was there.  He comes to church and loves it, but we have never actually taught him.  So we taught about the book of Mormon and gave him one.  He was very grateful and he asked me to mark something that he could always read when he is feeling down.  I marked 2 nefi 4 verse 15 to the end. He read it right there and loved it!  He said that the words really carried to his heart.  We also took Ja* to the temple this week!  That was fun!  But taking the subway and the bus at rush hour was entertaining.  We squished ourselves in there like tuna in a can.

Also, we are teaching this women of 64 years names Sy*.  Wow, I have come to love that woman so so so much!  She smokes and doesn't want to quit.  She wants to live with God again, but she doesn't want to change religions or keep all the commandments.  She says that she is keeping the 10 commandments so that is good enough.  Yesterday we had a pretty intense lesson with her, where she cried and I was close to crying.  I read her the first commandment and told her that she wasn't keeping it because she was putting her cigarettes before God.  She couldn't disagree.  I also told her that she wasn’t keeping the sixth commandment cause she was killing herself with her cigarettes. Once again, she couldn’t disagree.

As we were teaching her, I felt the Saviors love for her so strongly, and the only thing I wanted for her was to one day see her in the celestial kingdom.  Even now, my eyes fill with tears at the thought.  She is the only one left of all her brothers and sisters and parents, even her husband has died.  When she said that, I was filled with hope, cause I know we have an army on the other side that are working with us.  I feel it every time I enter that house.  They want to be saved too, and she is their link.  She has just got to get over her pride and change her life!  She can do it, I know she can.

Yesterday we had interviews with president, which is why our pday is today.  My interview went well.  President always tells me that I should be a writer. . . well, if I knew how to spell that might work out for me.  He also said that I am a person of many talents and that I have done great work in my mission.  I know mission presidents have to say that kinda stuff, but if still made me feel good.

Oh, I finished reading all the conference talks.  I mostly read them in Spanish, but I always repassed through my favorites in english.  Yay conference! Only three more months until the next session!  YAY!  Oh, and I got my release date.  Ready?  I know I’m not.  But I will end my mission on the 11 of August.

I'm happy everyone is doing well.  I pray for you all and I am so grateful for your support. Keep your heads up and remember to not let those straws break your backs.
Con Amor, 

Hna Ostler