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