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 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Chile has truly become a part of me

Dear Familia,
So Skype was great!  Yeah, I can definitely see the ADD thing . . . . Jajaja.  It's like I just had so much to say, and so much I wanted to talk to you all about, but there is never time, and then when the moment comes to hang up, one feels as if they said a lot without really saying anything.  It’s interesting that you mentioned that I seem happy, cause I have been struggling this week.  This trio has been hard, but I guess when one prays for patience, the Lord sends a test of patience.  That's what this change has been for me, a test of patience, and I don’t know if I past. I am happy, cause I love the mission, and I do love my companions, sometimes I am just the most selfish, terrible person in the world, and I expect them to change instead of looking at myself and seeing what I can change.  This morning, I realized that I spent the last couple weeks seeing the mote in the eye of Hermana C, but I was blind to the beam in mine.

As I am coming to the end of my mission, I realize that I need to put in the batteries and really dedicate my heart to this work, cause like Jackson said, I am going to miss this.  Chile has truly become a part of me, and even now my eyes feel with tears as I think about leaving.  I will never be the same after this, because a part of me will always be here. Am I excited to come home and see you all again, yes!  Yesterday I was reminded how much I love each and every one of you, and how much I truly miss you all, but at the same time, I don’t know if I am ready to be done.  I lack so much learning.  There is so much changing that still needs to happen in me, and I don’t know if three months is enough.

Pero, bueno . . . Thats enough of that.

So, this week was pretty good.  I did two intercambios in catemu, one of the mini hick towns, and it was so fun!  I worked with Hermana Dodds, who was in Jacksons class in the MTC. She is such a hoot! Also, I did an intercambio with one of the new sisters.  She is from Mexico and very shy and reserved.  All the plans she had fell through, and she was devastated, until I reminded her that the worst thing that can happen when all the plans fall through, is that we have one day of knocking doors!  So thats what we did, and we found a few new people to teach.

So it will just be Hermana Arroyo and I for this last week.  I love Hermana Arroyo.  The only problem we have had is when she is more concerned about losing a friend than standing up for what is right.  But, there was one time when I talked to her about that, and I said that we were the sister leaders, and as such we need to stand up for what is right . . ALWAYS! Since then, it was better.  But still, it will be a great relief to just live with one companion again. Maybe we will start to see some real progress in the sector.

We had a great lesson with M & J this week.  We watched the DVD of the Restauracion and the spirit was so strong! E, the recent convert who speaks japones that you met yesterday, was there too. Both Hermana Arroyo and Hermana C cried, but I just couldn't stop smiling. The spirit just filled me with joy and gratitude for the miracle of the restoration. Both J & M felt the spirit and said that they knew what they say was true.  The seed that was planted has sprouted, and now it must be cared for lest it be lost.  Sadly, they didn’t come to church this week cause Maria was working. But I just know that they are going to progress.

Yesterday night, after talking with you guys, we went to a lesson with another family that we are teaching.  They are progressing more slowly cause they have a lot of doubts.  We taught the plan of salvation, and afterwards they had a ton of questions about the Mormon church, and it was super great to just sit there and help them understand better what we truly believe.

We also had our last interviews with president this week.  Sad! President Essig is truly a great president.  I realized that after hearing about all the stuff going on in Harrison's mission.  President Essig has always taught us to teach the 5 lesson after baptism, and it really surprised me when Harrison said awhile back that he had never done that.  President also is super obedient to all the mission rules, and expects the same of us. He has helped me progress, and taught me much.  I am truly going to miss him, but I think I will miss Sister Essig a little more. She is a hoot!

Meeting Lilly almost brought me to tears.  What a cutie! I still can’t believe that I am an aunt, thats just the best.

About Jefferson submitting papers, of course, he needs to ask God about it, but my opinion would be at least a little college first.  I am a strong believer in learning independence before the mission, cause in the mission your list of things to learn and improve on is so so so long, that putting independence there at the bottom of it just complicates your life.  But really, it is between him and God.

Okay, I think that is all I have to say, well, you know me, I could talk forever! But, I will save you from my rambling by signing off.  Thanks for everything.  Love you all!  And that is the truth!
Con Amor,
Hna Ostler

PD. Asi que, corre, corre, corre corazon! 

Monday, May 5, 2014

I don't think I have ever felt such joy in my whole life

We found the tree of life!
Dearest familia!

Wow, what a week.  This week we really put the batteries in and worked worked worked! Things with my companions are going better.  I am still not a fan of the sarcasm, and feeling like I am the joke of the companionship, but I have already told them how I feel.

This week I did two intercambios.  There are a few problems in the companionships we are working with.  One of the problems is between a trainer and her trainee.  The situation reminds me much of what I went through with a companion.  I gave my two cents of wisdom, and prayed that both sides could be open and honest to resolve their problems. But, I was able to work with the new sister, and explain to her how her companion is feeling.  I was able to laugh with her and show her that missionary work can be fun to, and gave her some suggestions and how she can help her companion even though she is new.

The other intercambio was a little dramatic, because one Hna definitely didn’t want me there, plus I was exhausted from my travels and the zone conference we had in Santiago that day.  But hey, I did what I could.  But, the new sister who is having problems with her comp (hna alonso is her name) now wants me to be her companion . . jaja.

My Posterity
Okay, now to the best part of the week.  Remember J & M who are married? Well, we had a noche do hogar with them this week, and we watched the 80s video called together forever. Afterwards we asked them what they thought about it, and J said "The video is true, cause that is exactly what our family is going through." The video was about a father who needed to get his priorities straight and put his family first.  Then M explained how J had little by little become more dedicated to his work and less and less dedicated to his family.  We then testified to them that the gospel would help them.  That they could have an eternal family. The spirit was so strong.

Then, on Sunday we waited in church for them, and they didn’t show up.  The sacrament was passed, and they didn’t show up.  The first few testimonies were shared, and they didn’t show up.  Then, about 20 minutes before the meeting ended they entered the chapel, and a member got up to help them find a seat.  I don’t think I have ever felt such joy in my whole life!  This is a family who is ready to accept the gospel and change.  They also attended gospel principles, and afterwards were talking to a recent convert.  He asked them how they like church, and J said that there was a peace here that couldn't be explained, and M said that in the chapel everyone was equal.  It was so awesome! We are going to visit them tonight.  I am so so excited.  They have fecha for 25 of may.  Changes are one week before that, so I don’t know if I will be here for their baptism, but I truly believe they will be baptized, maybe not on the 25th, but soon!

We are also working with a few other families, but J & M are the most likely to progress. But that was basically my week.  We are also doing a branch choir.  There are about 4 men who come, and I am teach them how to read music. Also I have to sing alto, cause no one knows how to sing a part that isn’t the melody.  But, with a lot of prayers, we might not brake the windows . . jajaja.  Today, we are going to the church with the other 6 sister from our branch and we are going to play ping pong and maybe basketball!  Fun stuff.  Also sister V wants me to bring my piano music so we can play together.  I love her so much. This calling has given me the wonderful chance to get to know so many amazing sisters. 
Welp, I love you all!  Thanks for your support and love.  
Con amor, 
Hna Ostler