Monday, June 30, 2014

Siempre Hay Algo Para Aprender!

June 30, 2014
Okay, so I’m going to be honest here, my head is reeling from all the news I have just received from the fam, the friends, and also from the mish. Basically I don’t even know what to write. But I will do my very best to concentrate and give you an account of my dealings this past week.
So basically last week, we worked sooooo hard and we’re basically dead today! It has been an incredible week. I had some of my most spiritual lessons in this last week. I’ll start with Tuesday. Tuesday we had exchanges with the STL´s. So I stayed in our area and Hermana Herrera came and worked with me. Ustedes no saben caunto meido que tenia!! I was seriously so scared, because it meant I had to lead us everywhere and tell her who we were seeing and what we were teaching and lead the lessons más o menos, etc. And she doesn’t speak any English at all (like Hna Centeno does a little) so I had to speak Spanish all day, no choice. Oh and we had a district meeting where I had to do all the accounting for our area. But ya know what? I did it! AND I realized I am far more capable of doing all this than I originally thought! I found out that I know a lot more than I thought! So that was actually a huge blessing. I really enjoyed divisiones and I learned so so much! Hna Herrera is so awesome! We have the greatest STL´s. :)
We had a super amazing Zone conference on Thursday, but I don’t have much time to talk about that so I’m going to jump straight to Friday. Friday was a movie. Literally. We had stuff happen to us that seems like would only happen in a movie. Hna. Centeno and I experienced the most embarrassing thing probably either of us ever have in our lives. But the thing is I don’t know how to explain it in an email. But don’t worry that night we recorded it on my camera, because literally, it was the greatest. Basically we went to contact a reference who apparently had two church attendances and was seeking out the church. Well it turns out he had no idea who we were or what we were talking about, but we still had all his information. Okay, weird. That’s the gist of it, but I can’t explain the embarrassment of the situation AND the awkwardness. I laughed hysterically once we left. When I get home, I will let you watch the video, it explains it all. Oh, but one thing Herman Centeno told me is that when I was teaching this guy, Raul, she said my Spanish was absolutely perfect! Hooray! She was super grateful for that she said because in that moment she said she couldn’t say or do anything jaja!
So after this wonderful experience that unfortunately I couldn’t explain. We encountered a woman in the street. We went up and started talking to her and Hermana Centeno started telling her how much God loves her and that even though she doesn’t live in this area, we were sent to her to remind her that God loves her and knows her. Right then tears started flowing down her face. It was the most beautiful, spiritual street contact I have ever had!! Ah, I can’t even adequately explain it! How beautiful! So we got her information because she was quite interested in learning more about the church. She later sent us a text thanking us and telling us that she knows we were sent from God. Ah!! Que hermosa!!!! This is a testimony to me that God knows His children! We don’t but HE does! And He WILL give us the words we need so that the spirit can touch their hearts. It doesn’t matter if they live in our area or not, with every street contact we can remind the people of the infinite love that Christ has for them. What a beautiful beautiful experience. My heart was changed in 5 minutes. And THAT is just one thing I LOVE about the mission! I am constantly changing and growing! There is always something that I’m learning from. There is something to be learned in every experience. I have asked myself on many occasions, "How on earth would I have learned this or that without a mission??" I know that these things I am learning are changing me and helping me reach the potential that only God can see. And that can be the case for each one of you if you allow it. God works wonders in us when we allow Him to do so. But that’s the hard thing, allowing it to happen. As my companion always says, "En cada desafio hay un oportunidad" "In every struggle there is an opportunity." Take advantage of the opportunities in the trial or hardship, and you will start becoming the person God sees. Our God is a God of miracles. I see that every day!
Well, this letter is long enough. I have more miracles to tell, but I guess those stories will have to be saved for another day. Just know, I love being a missionary!!! The hardest thing every, but also the absolute greatest!!! I hope you all have a fantastic week!! I love you all! Remember, when we love the way the Savior does, miracles happen! And of course, Stay Anxiously Engaged!

Hermana Van 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Mi Vida Como Una Misionera

June 23, 2014

Hola, Como Estan???
Well, I’m going to be honest, I’m kind of at a loss of words (strange, I know) of what to say. I mean, lots happened this week but I don’t know what to write about jaja! This week screamed by super super fast and it was filled with some of the greatest ups I’ve had and some of the absolute greatest downs. But basically that is a mission for ya. Ups and downs like you’ve never experienced before. I mean one day everything is working out and so so great and then the next day everything tanks. It’s crazy.
I guess I’ll start with Last P-Day. It was the BOMB!! We met in La Boca as a zone and played FÚTBOL!!!!! For like an hour. It was so so so much fun!!! We played for like an hour in the gym in the church in La Boca. I was pretty much dead the rest of the day jaja, not really a day of rest, but so worth it. The next day I was so incredibly sore, I couldn’t even believe it. I am super out of shape for soccer apparently jaja. And today we are going to play soccer again! Stoked!!!! :)
So all of our investigators were doing amazing last week and progressing so so well and then something happened to every single one of them on Saturday. I don’t know what happened, it was crazy. But none of them ended up coming to church the next day. :( Mentira! (Lie) We had one named Elva come to church! We couldn’t count her as a progressing investigator though because she is living with her boyfriend (a less active member) and they don’t have a marriage date yet, BUT they ARE getting married so that is thrilling! Elva is so so so so great! I love her! She is 19 (her boyfriend is 26) and last week taught them about the law of chastity. Awkward right? NOPE! It was absolutely the most spiritual Law of Chastity lesson I have ever had! She is making Diego sleep on the floor until they get married so they don’t fall and so she can get baptized afterwards! She’s just the greatest. I love her.
Okay, so the funniest thing just happened to me RIGHT NOW!!! So I’m just sitting here typing away when this guy taps me on the should and says "Hola". I say Hola back and he just leaves. Next thing I know I feel a tap on my shoulder and what do you know, he’s back. He asks me if I dance the tango. para nada. He´s then like "Oh, wow, I thought you danced the tango. How long have you been in Buenos Aires?" I respond "2 months jaja." Then he’s like "Oh well, maybe we can go on a date and dance the tango." Or something to that effect, all the while glancing at my name tag now and then (I think he knew there probably wasn’t a chance when he saw my name tag, even if he didn’t understand it jaja). I say "Oh no, I can’t, I’m a missionary." And then he’s like "Oh okay of course" and just leaves immediately.  I just about died!! It was so so so funny! And now, as I type he is behind me in a station to talk on the phone. Funny stuff in the mission.
So real quick to close let me tell you about our goal as a zone. For this month our goal as a zone is to have 20 baptisms and 20 confirmations (There’s 7 companionships in my zone). We didn’t hit our goal for May and we were all pretty discouraged. Then we got one new zone leader and one stayed. This new zone leader has so much fire! Our zone has so much fire now and so much desire to really reach our goal. We pray so much to be able to reach our goal. And ya know what? Our prayers have been answered. We haven’t reached our goal yet, but Heavenly Father has given us every opportunity in the world to do it. I can’t tell you how blessed we have been. Right when we think, "Crap, how is it going to happen now" Heavenly Father opens a new door. It’s all about having faith and showing God that we are willing to do whatever it is we have to and whatever we are asked and He WILL provide a way! Always!! Just like Nephi tells us. Our God is a God of miracles!! We have been so so blessed this transfer, I can’t even explain it adequately. But just know that I truly have a testimony that if we ask in faith, we will receive. Never before have I seen this happen more than right now on my mission.
Update on the creepy guy. He came back and started talking to me about when my mission ends. Quick summary. He thinks I have a boyfriend in the US (I wasn’t about to tell him I don’t have a boyfriend so that he can think I could date him later or something) and he told me when I get home from my mission I’m going to drink. I told him that I don’t drink, but he then proceeded to tell me that before my mission I had a funny life (He was trying to say naughty but he couldn’t) and that I’m only tranquila (calm) now because I’m on a mission. I kept telling him no and what not, but then he told me that the eyes don’t like. (This last part he tried to speak in English jaja). Basically the funniest thing, but also so so so so uncomfortable.
Well, sorry I wasn’t able to write more about my week. I’ll try to be better next week. I’ll make notes or something on what happened every day. I don’t know. But I’ll be better jaja. Until then, I hope you all have a fantastic week. Love you all so much!! Remember, when we love the way the Savior does, miracles happen. And of course, Stay Anxiously Engaged!! :)
Hermana Van  

Monday, June 16, 2014

El Mundial y Muchos Milagros

June 16, 2014
¡Buen Día! (Fun fact, I love when we have meetings in the morning because then we get to leave earlier and I get to greet everyone in the street with "Buen Día". It’s just so much more fun to say than "Buenas Tardes" y "Buenas Noches". jaja!)
Sooooo anyways. First... FELIZ DÍA DEL PADRE!!!!! ....ayer. I hope you had a FANTASTIC Father’s Day, Dad! ...And all you other Fathers out there. :)
Well, yesterday was incredible. We had....wait for it....5 INVESTIGATORS at church yesterday! When we were calling all of our investigators in the morning and going to go get them for church and it started to seem that they were all going to be there, I totally started tearing up. It was an absolute miracle! Ah, my heart is still so so full! Both our Zone leaders and our District Leader asked us what we have changed and what we’re doing now that we weren’t doing the last transfer. After Hna Centeno and I had talked about it we decided that really the answer is nothing. I mean yes, every day we make tons of mistakes and every day we try our best to improve, but we’re working just as hard and in the same way as we did in the beginning. We were just as obedient and diligent then as we are now. The difference is that we’re at a different place in the plan that God has for us. I know that God was (and still is in some ways) testing us in our diligence and obedience. I know that He was giving us those trials so that we could show Him that it didn’t matter if we saw the results directly, we would still do our best and work hard every single day. This has also been a huge testimony to me that God is the one in control 100% and He has simply allows me to have a small part in helping His children come to the truth. Because I know without a doubt that these investigators didn’t come to church because of me or something I did. I mean most days I feel like I’m the worst missionary ever, but lucky for me He still uses me as a tool, even with all my inadequacies. And lucky for me it’s the spirit that is changing these investigators and helping them have a desire to come to church and continue learning. How grateful I am for Heavenly Father and His plan. How grateful I am that He would allow me to play a small part in building His kingdom, weaknesses and all. 
So two of our investigators that came yesterday are related. Carmen (I believe I already mentioned her) has a granddaughter named Malena who is 9. Oh my goodness this little girl is so smart and has such a huge desire to learn and be baptized. I mean in the Plan of Salvation lesson she was asking us questions about Cain and Abel! So yesterday, we went to go get them for church and Carmen tells us that Malena woke up with a fever but she said that Malena still wanted to go to church. So she got all bundled up and off we went. After Sacrament meeting she came up to us and said that they had to go since Malena was sick and had a fever and she needed to rest. Totally understandable. Well, about 7 minutes later, in walk Carmen and Malena. She comes up to me and says that Malena said they needed to go to the rest of church and that she wanted to come back and go to primary to meet all the kids. My mind was blown right then and there!! I mean what a miracle and what a special little girl! We have permission to teach her, but her mom doesn’t want her to get baptized yet. Carmen’s and Malena´s baptism date is the 29th of June, so PLEASE pray for her and that her mom’s heart will be softened. I believe in miracles!
Another miracle! Perhaps not as spiritual, but still a miracle. One night we were walking home, and a lot of the time while I walk I look down. You know, don´t want to step in any dog dodo. (It’s seriously everywhere on the sidewalk here. It’s nast.) So I’m looking down and I just stop in my tracks. To my surprise there is 100 pesos just sitting on the ground and there’s nobody in the street, like at all. 100 pesos! So I call Hna Centeno back and we just stare at it, wondering what we should do. So we start looking around to see if anyone else is looking around trying to find their lost money. There was nobody. Then next thing we know we find more money, and more money, and more money. We ended up finding 175 pesos on the ground! Milagro. I’m sure there was even more money, but we were late and had to get home. It was nuts!!
Last little tid bit! Yesterday Argentina had their first game of the World Cup!!!! (Here it’s called El Mundial) AGUANTE ARGENTINA!!!! ANYWAYS, there was absolutely nobody in the street. It was nuts. But because Argentina was playing we had to go home earlier because you never know what’s going to happen in the streets if they lose, or if they win for that matter. The fans are fanatics here. Its great jaja! So yeah, we aren’t allowed to watch any of the games, in the message that informed us that we can’t watch the games, it said "until President says otherwise" (in spanish obvi). So I have hope that Argentina will make it to the finals and that President will let us watch it!!! Jajaj!! :)
Well, this letter is far long enough! I gotta get going! Thanks for all your support!! I love you all so so much! Thanks for your constant prayers! Remember that when we love the way the Savior does, miracles happen! And of course, Stay Anxiously Engaged!!
Hermana Van  

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


June 9, 2014

¡Hola Todos!

Espero que todo esté bien en sus vidas! :) This last week was a good one! I can’t really decide if it was a slower week or a fast week. Weeks and days here are basically the same as the MTC. Every day still lasts a week and every week still lasts a day. Interesting the way time works here in the mission. 

So, where to start? Well, I guess I’ll jump right in to the miracle we had on Saturday. (In our zone we are looking for a miracle that happens every day and then we tell our Zone leaders and they send it out to everyone. It’s amazing how evident the Lord’s hand is in the work when you’re looking for it!) So anyways, Saturday we had a meeting with a lady named Angela. We were going to meet her in front of a casino and then she was going to take us to her apartment so we could teach her about the Plan of Salvation. (Her mom just died last week.) Well, she never showed up so we went to plan B. (We always have a plan B.) We went to one apartment building (super humble building if ya know what I mean) so we could check up on some people and hopefully contact some people. While we were there we visited a member in order to get a skirt for Gabriela for Sunday. After we left the member’s apartment we went to an old investigator’s apartment in the same building. So we get there and her mom (around 60 years old) answers the door. We tell her we are looking for Fiorela and she said that she wasn’t there but immediately she’s tells us to come in. So we come in, not having told her who we were or anything. She gets us stools and then we start chatting. Turns out she thought we were psychologists for Fiorela´s children. (Hey, I’m only 19 years old and apparently I could pass for a distinguished psychologist. How cool is that??) We tell her that we’re missionaries and immediately her face fills with joy. She sighs and says something to the effect of, "Really? Wow! I’ve been praying and praying and asking and asking for God to send someone that can help my children and grandchildren!" I was floored! So then we begin teaching her and she says "Wait, can I go get my grandson? I talk to him about God a lot but he doesn’t know if he exists." etc, etc. So we teach Carmen (the grandma) and Rodrigo about the Restoration. Rodrigo was super uninterested to be honest. He had already gone to church before with the missionaries last year, and Carmen doesn’t go to any church, but she was super interested. But wow it was amazing! Carmen accepted a baptisimal date and I can really see her following through with it. She is such an elegido! I can’t even explain how excited I am to teach Carmen! She lives with two of her daughters and grandchildren so there is a ton of potential to teach lots more people there. Wow, I can’t even believe the miracle that happened. The Lord knows His children. I testify of that! And God DOES answer the prayers of His children! What a loving, merciful God we have!!

So I know this email is already long so I’ll only mention a few more things. A huge thing I have learned on my mission already is the importance of putting in practice (I hope that makes sense, in Spanish it’s "poner en practica") our faith. I mean, I thought I had a lot of faith before the mission, but I have realized here on the mission that is completely different to actually put our faith in practice every day. I preach that every single day and I’m still bad at it. I’m trying so so hard to improve, but it is something I have to commit to doing every day. I need to be better at practicing what I teach. jaja. I am a representative of Jesus Christ, which means every day I must show Him that I am willing to do whatever it is He would do here in Congreso, and then have the faith to actually do it. I encourage you all you find new ways in your own lives to show Christ the faith you have in Him. ¡¡Pongan en practica su fe!!

Well folks, I still feel like the Spanish is super rough, BUT there’s hope. I’m at the point where I’ve had quite a few people tell me that when I first got here they couldn’t understand what I was saying, but now I’m much better and they know what I’m saying for the most part. SO....THERE´S HOPE!! I also love the fact that they feel comfortable telling me that jaja. So I would assume that my Spanish has improved quite a bit...even if I can’t see it as much, or if I still feel so lost. 

To close, I will inform you of some things I ate this week. Friday, Saturday and Sunday I had the exact same salad for lunch as a side. I basically never know what I eat here. I just eat what they give me. So I wasn’t the biggest fan of the salad, but I was like whatever, I’ll eat it. Because that’s what you have to do, eat what you get. Well, Sunday I finally found out what the red goopy salad was. It’s beets. Just tons of chopped up beets with a few other stuff in it. Now I know some people really like beets, but after I found out I was eating beets, it was really hard for me to eat. Bleh! Oh also, Saturday I had Blood Sausage hot. I gagged while I was eating it so I hope no one saw that. Jaja. Anyways, I’m officially done trying all kinds of Blood Sausage. It was way worse hot. Bleh, never again blood sausage. Never again. 

Wow, what a long email! I apologize for that!!! Just lots to say jaja! Anyways I hope you all have a great week! Remember, when you love the way the Savior does, miracles happen! And, of course, Stay Anxiously Engaged!! :)

Hermana Van 

Al Fin!

June 3, 2014

¡Hola! ¿Que Pasa Calabazas?

Bueno, necesito pedir perdón. I totally forgot to mention that I wouldn’t be writing Monday because transfers are this week. Can you even believe it? I’ve made it through my first transfer in the mission field! That is seriously so crazy to me, it doesn’t even seem real. Anyway, Hna Centeno is still my companion and I am still in Congreso 2. I’m super happy that everything has stayed the same so that I don’t have to worry about learning a new area and adjusting to a new comp and what not. Definitely a huge blessing.

So, GREAT news!! We FINALLY had TWO investigators at church on Sunday!!!! AL FIN!!! Oh I can’t even tell you how happy I am!!! It was actually Stake Conference and it was really cool because they made a completely new stake out of our stake and another stake because the work is progressing and growing so much here in capítal! Anyways, one of our investigators that came se llama Gabriela. She has a little 4 month old se llama Rueben and oh my gosh he’s the cutest thing ever. So get this, her story is terribly sad. She’s from Bolivia, and when she was 7 months pregnant her boyfriend died. Actually he was killed. His aunt and uncle were having an argument and he stepped in between them and started defending his aunt. Well his uncle didn’t like that so he killed him...I don’t know how. So now she is in Argentina by herself, raising her little boy. Oh my heart aches for her so much. Since her son is so young and a little sick right now, she told us she was only going to come to church if it didn’t rain and if it wasn’t cold. From Friday to Saturday I fasted that the weather would be good enough that she could come to church. Well, it rained all Friday and then Saturday morning, but Sunday morning it was completely clear and the weather was beautiful. I can’t tell you how much my testimony of fasting has been strengthened from this very simple experience. I know that God answers our prayers and that fasting is a very powerful tool we have. I also know that God rewards those who are diligent. I know that all our trials are for our benefit and they are only to help us reach our potential that only God can see. I went 5 weeks (my first 5 weeks) without a single investigator at church. But todovía, Hna Centeno and I were diligent in finding people to teach and in inviting people to church. In the last Sunday of the transfer we received a very tender mercy. In my eyes I can see God looking down, smiling and saying "Bien hecho mis hijas, ustedes han hecho bien."  He is real. He has a plan for me. I always need to remember that He is God. He sees my potential. And He is the only one that knows how to help me reach that potential. Sé que esto es la verdad para cada uno de ustedes también. 

So it finally happened. I finally tried blood sausage (Morcilla). I knew it was just a matter of time. And oh my lanta, how gross. I didn’t know what it was when I was eating it, but I did have a sneaky suspicion that it was blood sausage. Well my instincts were correct. LUCKILY it was cold. I know that sounds odd, but when it’s hot it is super juicy and the blood is juicy and what not. Since it was cold nothing oozed or anything. Either way it was still gross. I had a tiny little sliver and that’s all I could do. It was horrible. I still can’t believe I ate blood. ¡Que asco! Bueno, enough of eating blood talk. 

OOO!!! I got to play soccer with some kids in a building we were contacting in. Honestly it was on for like 5 minutes and I was in my skirt and everything, but oh my gosh it was so so great! I can´t even tell you! It was so much fun! I seriously miss it so much! One P-day I just want to go out and play soccer with the kids for like an hour or two. Unfortunately that probably won’t happen here in the city. I’ll have to wait until I’m in an area with more space. But yeah, that 5 minutes of soccer fue de diez!

Ahora, that’s everything I can remember. I hope everyone has a fantastic week. I’ve noticed here in the mission that miracles happen everyday. Many times they are very small, and a bit harder to recognize, but they still are happening constantly. Take a moment during the day or at the end of the day and reflect on the miracles you witnessed. I know that you will see just how blessed you are and you will have a greater love for Heavenly Father and everything He does for you. After all, we can ALWAYS love Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ more. His hand is in our life constantly; now just take the time to see it.  :) Anyways, I love you all so very much! Remember, when we love the way the Savior does, miracles happen. And of course, Stay Anxiously Engaged!! :)

Hermana Van