Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Week 29 Merry Christmas from Chile!

Hello everyone!

Hope that this email finds you all well and happy, and ready for the Christmas season!

I still stand by the fact that if it is not freezing outside with snow and such, it is not Christmas. I miss my mountains and my snow! Haha. But there is something charming about being able to eat ice cream and listen to Christmas music. 

Not a ton happened in the way of the Work this week. We still have a baptismal date for José on the 16th of January, and other people are slowing progressing. The problem is that we just officially hit summer this last week here, and all the people in El Salvador are leaving. Not even joking, half of the branch and more are going to be gone until March. Yesterday was the saddest day of church in my life. 11 people showed up, not a one a person who was in charge of teaching a class, and then they ALL left after sacrament meeting. It was just two sister missionaries staring at an empty chapel, and two hours with nothing to do. That will kill your spirits pretty quick. But we are determined to help the members want to stay. And we are excited to start really working with the members. At this point it is almost like everyone in the Branch is a Less Active member.

We also had our Christmas conference this last week! I got to go to Copiapó with my companion. We met up with both of the zones in Copiapó and had a great day. Lots of Christmas stories and singing hymns. And there wasnt a musical number prepared, so I was nominated with another sister who is an alto to sing a song.  Hermana Handley played the piano and then we sang Silent Night, it really turned out beautifully as well. We were very happy with it, and President loved it. Always a good sign. And after all of the spiritual things were done, we traded gifts. I recieved a really cool gift, that won the Most Chilean spot. Its one of those toys where you have to flip the top up onto a stick that is attatched by a string. The one I got though is basically artistic only. The Elder that gave it burned the mission logo into it. It is really cool, and I totally forgot to take a picture. (Next week).

But if I had to pick the most spiritual experience for the week, it would definetly be during the conference when we were all singing Christmas hymns together. Just the fact that about 40 missionaries were all singing songs and testifying that the Savior is born, it really brought to my mind the scripture in Luke 2, when the Angel testifies to the Shepards that Jesus is born, and then around him are suddenly all the hosts of Heaven singing and praising God. That is really what we are doing as missionaries during this Christmas season. We are the angels sounding the trump to tell the whole world that ¨Ha Nacido un Salvador¨, A Savior is Born. As much as I love my snow, my mountains, my family and friends. I wouldnt trade anything right now, to be in Utah. Here I am doing the work of the Lord. The work that I have been called to do. 

There are people here that I have been called to meet and to teach, and even if they dont initially accept the church they have been given the opportunity. And that is my purpose  here. Invitar a las personas a venir a Cristo. (Invite others to come to Christ.) Thank you all for the love and support that I feel from all of you, and for the many emails with Christmas wishes that I recieved this last week. I love you all and I pray for you always. Merry Christmas all, and may you remember the reason for the season. Remember that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ filled a manger, and emptied a tomb. Today my Savior, your Savior lives, and he loves all of us. And during this time of Christmas, remember the perfect baby, even the Christ, that was born to save the world. 

God bless us every one.

Hermana Randall

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Week 28 The Christmas Season Begins....

Hello There Everyone!

Seeing people with Christmas lights in the windows and fake snowmen in the front yard feel almost like the world is lying to me that it is December. When broiling from the inside out is the state of your body during the day, it is not Christmas. No matter what the Calender says. Although Homesickness isnt a thing, because it doesnt feel like Christmas, which I guess is a blessing in disguise. Haha. For one of the neighborhoods here, they did a Christmas party, so they pulled a trampoline out into the middle of the street, set up some inflatable pools and had a big water party. It was really fun, and I got squirted with a lot of squirt guns while proselyting, that was a new experience for me. Here when it is Christmas, it is water fights and heading to the beach. That is super different. 

Things are going really well here in El Salvador though! I did have a pretty miserable 24 hours when I  caught a stomach bug and was throwing up all night. And it just happened to be the night of Companion Exchanges, so BOTH of the Hermana Leaders were there, so I recived way more support than was necessary. I appriciate that they love me and all, but sometimes you just want to throw up and be miserable in peace. 

But our investigator José is doing great! We were expecting to have a pretty frank conversation with him and his Less Active girlfriend this week about the Law of Chastity, but we had hardly began our conversation when they announced they were getting married the 6th of January! And then they asked us if he could be baptized on the 16th of January! (My baby sister´s birthday, that will be a good day for me.) Everyone is really excited, but no one more so than José he is super excited to be a part of this Church and to have the opportunity in a year to go to the temple and be sealed to the woman that he loves. 

We taught a good number of lessons this week, had intercambios (companion exchanges) and prepared for the Mission Christmas conference on Wednesday. We all are preparing a White Elephant gift to give in 3 categories, 1. Most Missionary 2. Most Funny and 3. Most Chilean. Im going for Most Funny, Im giving a carefully written Dear John letter (Querido Juan) a pack of tissues, a type of candy called Guauitas (which are shaped like little babies), and then an acutally good Candy bar.

I would also like to point out I found a bag of Reese´s Peanut Butter cups here! I did not buy them, because converting Pesos to Dollars, it was about $9.00 I was NOT paying that much.

Anyways! That was about my week! Ups and Downs and all arounds! Hope you are all enjoying snow and the spirit of Christmas. If you havent already I highly recommend you watch the new Christmas videos that the Church put out, they are beautiful and powerful. You can find them at christmas.mormon.org . I love them!

And I love you all! Have a great week! Godspeed and stay strong!

Hermana Randall

PS. I found a fabulous manaquin that I had to share with you all. I laughed way harder than I should have.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Week 27 6 Months Has Never Been so Quick....

Hello there everyone!

Hope this email finds you all well and happy, preparing for the Christmas season no doubt!

As the title says this last Thursday I completed 6 months in the mission. A third of my mission is gone, and I closed my eyes for just one second. I have to say that if the time continues to pass as fast as it has, I dont know if I will even have time to do all that I want to do.  It really spurred me onto new heights this last week.

Companion Update: Hermana Handley and I are getting along famously. She told me yesterday that I am the first companion that she has had in 16 months that she genuinily likes and considers a friend, not just tolerates. So that was nice to hear, haha. We are both trying to prepare for Christmas in the cheapest, prettiest way possible. Something tells me that we are going to end up having a lot of paper snowflakes and handmade things on the walls. We did splurge and spend mil pesos on some glittery garlends, we plan on decorating a little bit today if we have time. 

Things here in El Salvador are progressing day-by-day. We are working as hard as we can but I got to say, walking all day in the heat (it is about 85 degree weather and the sun is really strong up here in the mountains) uphill, really manages to kill your energy level. I have learned new meanings to the saying, ¨The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.¨But despite everything we leave, and press on, and work all the days! 

We were able to find quite a few new families and investigators this last week. The only problem that we are really facing right now, is the school gets out for summer vacation next week. And here in a little mining camp.... No one actually lives here. So next week, the population of El Salvador is going to go from about 5,000 people to like 2,500, and most of them are just going to be the men that have to work over the holiday. Our chances of finding people are dropping like a stone in a lake. But we have been praying and fasting faithfully to be able to find the people who are looking for the gospel truths this holiday season, and we know that if we stay valient, we are going to find exactly who we are meant to find. 

The one story that I feel the need to share with you all this week is about a family. The mother is named Elizabeth, and the father Juan Carlos. They have 3 children, 19, 13, and almost 2. They have been sharing with the missionaries for a very long time. A couple of years actually. The problem that they have is that they have lost faith in a loving God. 14 years ago Elizabeth was nursing their brand new baby boy. And he began to turn purple, they rushed him to the Emergency room, but things here in Chile, medical wise work a little differently. It took them a long time for a doctor to have time to even see the baby, and then he refused to treat him, he said they were wasting his time and that he didnt want to look at the baby. And because of that, their son died. They had the doctor thrown out of the medical profession, but it didnt bring back their baby. So for 14 years they have been in mourning. They havent celebrated the birthdays of their other children for 14 years. It is so sad to see two people, with young children, so hurt and affected by the past, that they cant appriciate what they have.... Breaks my heart every time. They are always receptive, they say what we share is beautiful. That they want to believe it with all their hearts, but they just cant find the faith in God to believe it. 

So the question I have for all of you is this: How do you get back your faith, when you feel like you have lost it completely after such a long time? We have shared all of the typical stories and scriptures, we are working with them as much as we can, and really concentrating on the love of the Savior, plan of Salvation, all of that. But you, my family and friends, how do you go about finding the faith you used to have?

I want to leave you all with my testimony of the Savior. I know that during this time of year when the world is so commercialized we need to remember why we give gifts in the first place. Because the greatest gift to mankind was given to us over 2000 years ago in a quiet part of the city of Bethlehem. Where shepards testified of the birth of our Lord, your Savior Jesus Christ I know that Christ lives, I know he was born here, he lived a perfect life, he suffered for our sins, he gave up his own life, and then he took it up again three days later. And I know that in our days he has once again raised his church. We have a living prophet today to testify and guide each and every one of us through the trials of these last days. I love my Savior and I know he lives. I invite all of you to go to lds.org and watch the new Christmas videos that the church has produced. I also want all of you to watch the sweet little Mormon Message, The Spirit of Christmas. I have had the privledge to share  that little video with many people this week. And every time it touches my heart. Not just because I get a little glimpse of my angelic little sister at the age of 6 or so. But because it is a poignent reminder that Christmas is more than a box under the tree in pretty paper. 

I know my Savior lives. And I love him. May he bless each of you. I love you all,

Hermana Randall