Friday, August 21, 2015

Para Siempre Dios Este Con Vos

August 17, 2015

Bueno Día queridos!! :)

My Last Letter. Where do I even start? 

I’ll start with a brief summary of last week. We did divisions twice, once with the hermanas from Almagro and once with the hermanas from Palermo. I was in Palermo for my last division of my mission and it really was just what I needed. It went really well. I’m going to miss getting to know the hermanas and helping them and learning from them. It’s been incredible. On Saturday I broke the news to Ulises that I won’t be here this Saturday for his baptism. It was hard. I cried, I think he may have a little and we were all just really sad. But we’re friends in facebook so he’s going to send me pictures and all. He and his little brother Raul went to church on Sunday. Sadly Noelia, his little sister, didn’t go. She’s super shy and I think was kind of scared of going. But Ulises and Raul had a really great time at church. :) And then, yeah, that was basically a really quick summary of the week. 

When I think back on my mission, it all just seems like a dream. I find it so hard to believe that I have been away for almost 18 months and have just about completed my mission. The mission has been more than I ever could have imagined or hoped for. I remember back 2 years ago when I "chose" to serve a mission. As I have been in the mission I have come to realize that I didn’t choose to serve a mission, GOD chose ME; And how grateful I am that He did. That He has given me the opportunity to learn so much. To show me that there are miracles that happen every single day. To show me just how much He loves me. To show me that His plan is perfect and all I need to do is trust in Him and the plan He has for me. 

The most precious thing in the world to me is the relationship I have been able to develop with my Savior, Jesus Christ, in these short 18 months. I remember thinking that I already had a strong relationship with Him and an idea of the Atonement, but this time in Argentina has shown be just how mistaken I was. I have come to know and love my Savior more than I ever. I know He is leading and guiding me in every moment. He is so aware of me and my needs, and He goes to the extremes to help me. He has carried me through many hard trials and He has rejoiced with me in the very happiest of times. He is my best friend. My greatest desire is to be able to continue developing this relationship with Him so that when the day arrives and I am brought before God, I see my best friend as my mediator.

This work is perfect. This work is the work of the Lord. He is at the head, and He directs it. I have witnessed countless miracles. I have seen His hand touch the heart of His children countless times. The greatest miracle is the change that occurs in the hearts of those who choose to follow Christ and His teachings, while making covenants with their maker. I know that the Church is true. God loves us and knows us perfectly. The Book of Mormon has been my main source in order to know my Savior better. It is true. I love the guidance and comfort that I am able to find through reading it diligently every single day. I know that prayer is real. I know that He hears and answers every single one of our prayers. We are never alone. What joy I have had sharing the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Our message is incredible! It is unique! It is the truth! I hope to share this message with all who choose to listen for the rest of my days. One of my most sincere desires is to be able to serve God forever. How grateful I am for this incredible opportunity God has given me to serve the beautiful people of Buenos Aires Argentina! They are incredible. I love them with my whole heart. "Because I knew (them) I have been changed for good."

Thank you so much for all the love and support you have given me constantly in these last 18 months. I love you all with my whole heart! Hasta Pronto!! Remember, when we love the way the Savior does, miracles happen. And of course, STAY ANXIOUSLY ENGAGED!!!!! :)

Hermana Van 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Calletas con chocolate en Polvo...Yum?

August 10, 2015
Buen Día a todos!! :)
Okay, so this last week was weird jaja. I feel like nothing really happened too crazy. There was one day where Hermana Hawkins and I went completely crazy jaja! I love that girl so much :) Anyways, Hermana Urra was super sick, so we didn’t leave the apartment the WHOLE DAY!! We didn’t even touch the apartment door once to leave, which is in and of itself a miracle, because usually on sick days we half to leave to eat or something, but nope, not on Thursday. So yeah pobrecita Hermana Urra was in bed all day since she was super sick. :( So Hermana Hawkins and I tried to be creative and do stuff, but the time just passed by soooo slowly. We made empanadas for lunch (Hermana Urra´s idea) which were just delicious! :) Then Hermana Hawkins and I wanted chocolate, but we couldn’t leave and buy chocolate, so we attempted to make chocolate chip cookies with what we had, substituting the chocolate chips for nesquick powder, yeah I know we were desperate. So basically they didn’t work too well, so we modified the receta like 3 times and each time they just got worse and worse. So that was fun. We really did have so much fun making them. Then we ironed Hermana Hawkins´ Preach My Gospel with hair straighteners because it was super wrinkled from the rain. Yeah that shows just how bored we were. And yeah, that was basically the sick day.....
I think it was then the next day that Hermana Hawkins found lice in her hair. :/ I was so sure that I had lice too, but Hermana Urra searched me head and told me that I didn’t, and I trust her, because she told us she’s had a lot of experience taking lice out of people’s hair. Ew. But yeah, that was another fun adventure.
Last week, we had Mission Leadership Council and then our Zone Conference and then a Zone Breakfast, so we had like a million meetings last week. jaja. They were all really good and I was able to learn so much. When I go to those meetings I realize just how much I don’t know and how much I still need to improve, and how little time is left. It’s crazy. After almost 18 months I feel like I know absolutely nothing. There is so much room for me to still improve. And sometimes it feels like after the mission I won’t be improving any more, like the time to improve is only in the mission, but I know that’s not true. Progression never stops. After the mission we continue to progress in life. After life, there’s the spirit world, the millennium, and eternity to continue progressing. We truly never stop progressing and that is something that I need to remind myself a lot. I heard in a meeting once that the spirit leaves us for one of two reasons, because we have sinned, or because we have stopped progressing, and we need to search to have the spirit which requires us to progress. So that just a little thought for ya there.
Last week we got to know Ulises (our miracle from last Sunday) a little better. We stopped by his house on Monday and got his permission signed in order to teach him. While we were at it we got the permission signed for his two younger siblings. Noelia (12) and Raul (8). The mom, Maritza, works on Sunday sadly, but it turns out that she had already gone to church before and she wants all her kids to go to church. She has been through so much and is basically and angel. It was a miracle being able to find and teach all of them. Sadly only Ulises went to church on Sunday because the other two had a sleepover with their cousins. :( Next week they’ll all get to church! I have faith! :) But as for Ulises, he’s doing fantastic and progressing super well! :)
Pigeon update: They are just straight up pigeons now. Nasty. And they eat a lot. And I’m just not a pig fan of them any more because the the windowsill outside is just full of pigeon poo. I’d send pictures, but the computer isn’t letting me load so I can’t.
And.....I believe that’s just about it for this last week! :) I hope you all have a fantastic week! It’s crazy to think that this is my last week in the mission field. I prefer not to think about it. But yeah, I love you all. Thanks so much for your support and prayers!! :) Les amo! Remember, when we love the way the Savior does, miracles happen. And of course, Stay Anxiously Engaged!! :)
Hermana Van

Friday, August 7, 2015

Enferma y Milagros!

August 3, 2015


Well, this week has been a mission changer for me personally. I don’t think I’ll ever forget this week, because I have learned very very valuable lessons. We’ll just start right into it.

Last Wednesday I woke up just fine, but throughout the day, me health started getting worse and worse. At lunch I could feel that the next day I would be super sick, thinking that at least it would take a little longer and take affect the following day. Well, I don’t know how, but in a matter of hours I was absolutely miserable. My whole body ached, my throat, ears, and head absolutely killed. I was on the verge of tears many times because I couldn’t believe the amount of pain I was in seeing as that it all came on at once. But, I didn’t want to go home and rest because we need to work. We needed to find people. We had absolutely no one. So we continued to work. Then we go to our meeting with the ward mission leader and the other elders, where I basically just sat down and leaned my head against the wall in mas o menos agony waiting for the meeting to finish. A new elder in our ward was sitting next to me and offered to give me a blessing if I needed it (the only one out of the 8 elders in our ward to offer me a blessing and he wasn’t even my zone leader. My respect for him is tremendous.). So then, the young men’s leader came into the meeting (he’s a recently returned missionary) and he sees me and immediately brings me water. After the meeting he asked me how I was and if I needed anything. I ended up asking him and the other Elder for a blessing. (Which was quite an achievement for me, because the truth is that I don’t like asking for blessings because I find them very very sacred and don’t want to ask them for just whatever.) So the Elder did the Anointing and the YM Pres sealed the anointing. It was one of the most special blessings. The spirit could be felt so strongly. I was crying through the whole blessing. He told me in the blessing that Heavenly Father loves me and sees every single one of my efforts in His work and is pleased with what I’ve done. He told me that He wants me to feel more of His love. And then some other things as well. This blessing was honestly an answer to my prayers. After the blessing I felt a spiritual weight lifted off of me. I realized that I honestly needed this blessing a long time ago, but I’ve been too prideful thinking that I didn’t need to ask for Heavenly Father’s help in that way and that I could do it. Luckily for me Heavenly Father loves me enough and I was put into a situation where I would ask for a blessing in one way or another. I’ve been so humbled this last week. Since the blessing I feel like I’m me again. There’s been a big change. It’s been such an incredible experience. 

So last week we worked hard, had quite a few people with baptismal dates, all ready to go to church and then Sunday came, we looked for them to go to church and none of them showed up. Walking to church I tried to keep the faith that one of the investigators that said they were going to church would be there already, waiting for us. We get to church and our ward mission leader says that he has a reference for us and that there was a guy that had shown up by himself. Then he tells us that he thinks the investigator is gay because he heard him say that his novio (boyfriend) told him to go to church. That was disheartening. But after meeting him and talking to him we find out that his novia (girlfriend) is a member in a different mission and has taught him almost all the lessons and told him to come to church. So long story short, he asks how to become a member of the church and ends up accepting a baptismal date for the 22nd of August!! It was a huge miracle!!! It just strengthened my testimony that we really don’t do anything in the work. This is the Lord’s work and He is the one doing everything. He is working grand miracles in our area. It was really such a tender mercy from God. I love the mission. I love seeing God’s hand bringing about His work and His glory. 

Well, this email is already far too long, so I’ll just cut it here. There are some other little things, but it’s okay. The trio is going just fantastic! And the pigeons now look like pigeons and are just hideous. They still have yet to fly. And that’s about it! I love you all!!! :) Remember, when we love the way the Savior does, miracles happen. And of course, Stay Anxiously Engaged!! :) 

Hermana Van 

PS As way of health, I’m much better, but I do have a pretty nasty cough. But it’s all good!!  :) 

Friday, July 31, 2015

Feliz Dia do los Pioneros!

July 28, 2015

Hola mis queridos!! :) 

So today we had transfers!! And guess what?? I’m staying here in Chacabuco for my last 3 weeks!!!! :) I’m so so happy!!!! I’ll be here in Chacabuco in a trio, which will consist of me, Hermana Urra and our new companion Hermana Hawkins! Hermana Hawkins is from California! She is just fantastic! I love her already with my whole soul. We were talking today and we found out that we were in 3 of the same classes at BYU and we never met each other! Too funny! :) The only time I was in a trio was in the MTC, so it’ll be interesting being in a trio. It should be fun. :) 

Hannah in her Trio with Hermana Urra and Hermana Hawkins!
On Sunday I had my despedida. It was so weird. Because I said good bye to everyone, but I’m still not leaving so I just didn’t know how to feel jaja. It was fun seeing the members from my wards and everything, but it just didn’t feel real. Because honestly, none of it feels real. I just can’t believe how quickly the time is passing! :/ 

On Pioneer Day, July 24th, we had an activity as a mission where we commemorated the pioneers and we read Moroni 10 as a mission to finish the Book of Mormon together as a mission. It was one of the most beautiful activities we’ve had. As we finished the BOM and sat in silence pondering, I was able to feel the spirit so strongly. I was able to have yet ANOTHER witness that the BOM is true. It is without the truest book that exists on this earth. I loved feeling the conviction again and again, as we listened to some testimonies from the missionaries. We then watch part of 17 Milagros to remember the pioneers and their sacrifice. I cry every time in the movie. I think it is one of the most beautiful movies there is. One of my very favorites. I always feel so humble watching it. It was a beautiful movie. It has been the most beautiful experience reading the BOM in 24 days. I have no doubt that it was completely inspired by our Heavenly Father. It was exactly what I need, exactly when I needed it. I know the BOM is true. I know it has the answers to all of our questions. It is such an incredible guide in my life. It has the power to change the lives of those who search and ponder it diligently. We receive God’s guidance through reading it. Don’t let a single day pass by where you don’t read it. I love the BOM with my whole soul. It is the greatest treasure to me. 

Judith and Aracelly didn’t go to church again last week so we’ve had to drop them. :( I’m super sad about it, but it’s for the best. If you love them, you gotta drop them. I know that when the time is right they will be baptized. They have the desire and they’ve received their answers, now they just have to wait until the circumstances allow them to. I’m glad I had the opportunity to teach them and show them the truth. Now we’re just about starting from zero, but I know that we’ll find. It’s when you have nothing that you see the biggest miracles!

Today, I had to go to a self reliance class for all the missionaries going home. It was weird....and sad. I think it’s just easier to stay on the mission.  Oh and it was also the last time I’ll see mi hija, Hna Yancey, it was really sad. :( 

Hideous, noisy pigeons!
Pigeon update: They’re absolutely hideous now. And now they make lots of noise. I will send pictures. 

Yesterday we talked to a lot of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I don’t know how. It just happened. It’s very interesting talking to them. I don’t really know why I shared that, it was just a random thought that popped into my head.

Well, I think that’s about it! Love you all and am so grateful for your constant support!! Have a fantastic week!! :) Remember, when we love the way the way the Savior does, miracles happen. And of course, Stay Anxiously Engaged!! :)

Hermana Van 

Monday, July 27, 2015

El Templo, Comida, y Palomitas!

July 20, 2015


Well, last week was pretty good all around. Last Monday for Pday Hermana Urra and I went to an authentic Korean restaurant since a Korean town is in our area! It seriously rocked!! It was lots of fun! :) It was pretty dang good. To me it was really similar to Chinese food, just more vegetables. 

Last week we went to THE TEMPLE!!!!! Oh que gozo!!!! En serio! I can’t adequately describe my love for the temple. But I  think I’ve said that many times. It is just such an incredible place to be. I love it because when I was in the Celestial room I was able to just feel so much peace and tranquility. I love conversing with my Father in the temple because it’s just so easy and there are no distractions and I feel like I can just receive revelation so much easier. It was just pure joy and beauty! Oh how I love it! :)

Hannah's favorite place!
Last week we found a family of 7 and the parents were MARRIED! Huge miracle. Sadly we had to drop them because they weren’t progressing. :( The dad was a chain smoker. I honestly have never seen anyone smoke so much in my life. I would leave the lessons smelling like a smoker. Pelo, ropa, todo lleno de humo! But they are really great people! We had to drop them because they liked learning out of curiosity, but pretty much only because of curiosity, not to actually make changes and what not. It was really hard to teach them a lot of time because they hardly let us talk since they had sooooooo many questions. And the mom had studied a lot with the Jehova´s Witnesses, so that was interesting jaja. But yeah, like I said they are super great people.

Yesterday Judith and Aracely didn’t go to church because they slept in and their mom didn’t want to wake them up. And now they’re saying that their parents want them to wait a year before they get baptized. I was pretty sad about it all during church knowing that they won’t be able to get baptized this week, but I just had the thought come to me that they have the right to exercise their agency however they choose, and Heavenly Father would never take away that right. I’m hoping that tonight when we go and visit them that they will have received an answer that they need to get baptized now, instead of later. We’ll see. I know that whatever happens is the Lord’s plan. 

Today, we went bowling with the whole zone. It was really fun! I had a really good time!!! I’m proud to say that I wasn’t the worst bowler jaja!! :)

Hey remember the pigeon nest with the eggs? Well this week we did divisions with Almagro and I said to the sister that stayed in Chacabuco with me, "Hey come look at this nest! Do you see the eggs??" And then she responds to me, "Umm...they’re not eggs anymore..." They hatched!!! So now we have baby pigeons outside our window! They’re pretty ugly, but oh well. We’ve decided we’re their aunts jaja!

Well, I think that basically sums up this last week. It’s the last week of the transfer. I can’t believe how quick time is flying!!! I hope you all have a fantastic week! Love you all! :) Remember, when we love the way the Savior does, miracles happen. And of course, Stay Anxiously Engaged!! :)

Hermana Van 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

El Dia de Independencia!!

July 13, 2015
Hola todos! :)
This last week was a good one. :) We’ve seen many miracles in our usual. :) On Saturday we invited a 15 year old kid to church. (We found him through a less active) and at first he was super mas o menos. Then we explained why he needed to go to church. So then he tells us that he was going to go to church and that he would go with his friend (the son of the less active that isn’t a member). Well when he said that he would go with his friend and that he didn’t want us to come and pick him up, I had kind of written him off in my mind, thinking he wouldn’t go because I figured his rebellious friend wouldn’t want to go. Oh ye of little faith. Just as they had promised, they were in Sacrament Meeting 20 minutes early. The rebellious friend is kind of rambunctious (how do you even spell that? no idea), but that fact that they came was a huge huge miracle! I couldn’t even believe it. God continues to show me every day that He is the one in charge of His work and that I need to increase me faith.
Aracely and Judith are progressing very well!! :) Last week we were able to receive signed permission for both of them. Their parents are really really awesome, but they work so we haven’t been able to talk with them much. Aracely was really tired and hungry yesterday morning so she didn’t really want to go to church that much, but Judith was able to convince her to go and they stayed for the whole time. They are just so fantastic. They’re working on receiving their answers to know that the church is true. They’ve been quite diligent about reading the BOM and praying, but they haven’t felt that they’ve received an answer, so we’re helping them recognize their answers right now. The other day Aracely prayed and it was the most sincere, beautiful prayer. I was able to feel the greatest amount of peace and love through her simple prayer. Kids have so much power!
We did divisions with an area called Palermo. It was an awesome experience. :) I was in Palermo with Hermana Johnson. I don’t have the words to express my love for this Hermana. She is incredible. She is my sister in the mission because we have the same mom (trainer). So that’s cool. I was able to learn so much from her. I love divisions because I love seeing how God uses me as an instrument. I mean, that’s every day in the mission, but it’s like I can feel it even more in divisions. This hermana is a huge example to me in diligence and sincere love and interest for those around her.

Last Thursday was the 9 de Julio!! :) Independence Day in Argentina!!! :) We had a really fun Stake Activity with lots of typical Argentine food and dances! The most common dance the members performed was la Chacarera! :) It’s the coolest. I love it so much jaja!! :) Look it up on You Tube! :)
Well, I think that’s about it for this week. Life is good. The Book of Mormon continues to be a huge strength to me. It’s been so fun to read it in such a short period of time. I’m learning so much. After 16 months in the mish I feel like I still know nothing. Crazy how that works. jaja! Well, I hope y’all have a fantastic day/week!! :) Remember, when we love the way the Savior does, miracles happen. And of course, Stay Anxiously Engaged!! :)
Hermana Van 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

El Libro de Mormon, Nidos y Cementerios

July 6, 2015

Mis Queridos! 

I have sooooo much to tell you all that I gotta start YA! This week has literally been a week of miracles!!! :) I will start with one of the most beautiful parts of the week. The Book of Mormon! We have decided as a mission to put an extra big focus on the BOM, so because of that we have decided to read the entire BOM together in 24 days!!!!! :) (That means we have to read 26 pages every day) We started July 1st and we will end the 24th to commemorate Pioneer Day! Ah, I can’t even express my feelings about this little project we’re doing. It couldn’t have come more at a perfect time. In the last 6 days, my testimony of the Book of Mormon has been strengthened more than I could have possibly imagined! I’ve have been desiring and looking for a greater fire, to truly give it my all in these last weeks of my mission, and I had become discouraged at times when I hadn’t yet received it. But from the very first day I started the BOM the fire and urgency I felt during the day was exactly what I had been looking for. The love for the Savior that I have has been greatly multiplied. My testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ is stronger than ever. On every level my testimony has been strengthened through these 6 short days of reading the Book of Mormon. I testify with my whole soul that the Book of Mormon in the word of God. It is the most powerful and perfect book that exists. I have no doubt about that. God always fulfills His promises, of that I’m sure. "Look and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you." I beg you all to READ the Book of Mormon EVERY SINGLE DAY without fail!! It’s power will be oh so present in your lives. 

I know that as we have put this greatest emphasis on the Book of Mormon that God has been able to work miracles throughout the whole mission. We found a few people this last week and they had planned on going to church, but sadly they didn’t show up. The only one that went with us to church was Nicolas, Miguel’s son. Well, that in itself was a great miracle. After Sacrament Meeting finished, we were going to go to Gospel Principles, when out of nowhere everyone started calling for us to go meet the investigators we had in Church. 2 little girls (Judith-13 years and Aracelly- 8 years) had walked into church with an invitation we had given in the street. Friday night at like 8:30 we had given an invitation to two women with babies, but sadly the street contact was really short because the person they were waiting for showed up and they had to leave. Well, we didn’t think anything of it and kept going. It turns out that one of them was the mom of these two little girls and she and her husband sent them to church yesterday. It was a huge miracle! Then, a member had brought her friend to church that lives in our area. Her name is Noelia and she has 16 years. She’s an amor!!!!! We had been trying to contact her, but never were able to find her. So her friend just brought her to church instead! Ah, en serio, so many miracles this week!! I really could not believe it when we were in church that so many investigators that we had never met were in church! #tendermercies 

Fun times watching the Copa Finals.
I don’t know if any of you have heard of the Copa America, but it’s a really big tournament in South America. Soccer obvio. Anyways, it’s like the world cup but smaller since it’s only in South America. Well, the finals were on Saturday and obviously Argentina was in the finals so we were allowed to watch it!!! :) It was Argentina vs Chile (and it was being held in Chile). So basically it was just a blast to watch! Sadly, Argentina lost to Chile in penalties. :( Needless to say, my companion was very happy.

Chile won, Argentina Lost. Sad Hermana Van:(
Last Monday we took the subway to a random place we had seen on a bus once and it ended up being a cemetery! It was the coolest cemetery I have ever seen!! I will send pictures. Some lady got mad since we were taking pictures so we had to be really subtle about it! jaja!

Saturday Nestor went to the temple with the ward!! Oh my gosh! I am so proud of him! Que lindo!!! :) Also, he passed the Sacrament to us yesterday! It was his first time. He is progressing so so much! It’s so beautiful! He is so golden! I just love that kid so much! :) (Just a quick update on Nestor.)

We have a pet! But don’t worry; we’re not breaking any rules because it lives outside of our window. A pigeon decided to make its nest right outside our bathroom window. And....wait for it....there are two eggs!!!! Now, I honestly hate pigeons. They’re literally so disgusting. They are EVERYWHERE in Buenos Aires. It’s the worst. However, this pigeon is the only pigeon I like because I like to look at the eggs jajaj! :) I will be sending photos! :)
Pet Pigeon Eggs

 Okay, well I think that about covers it all. At least the most important stuff. I could honestly go on forever I think. But I think that’s all I’ll write for today so it isn’t tooooo long. jaja. Oh and we’re going to the temple this Friday! I LOVE THE TEMPLE!!! I’m so so excited! We are being so so blessed! Anyways, I hope you all have a fantastic week! Thank you so so much for your prayers! I love you all so much! Remember, when we love the way the Savior does, miracles happen. And of course, Stay Anxiously Engaged!! :) 

Hermana Van