Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Week 31

Family!!! Ayyy! So this week was interesting. Let´s get to it:

Cambios: It all started on Tuesday, when we had zone meeting to announce changes. Our ZL (zone leader) gets everyone together, and then is like, "ok, imma split you up into two groups." And so one person from practically every companionship got put into a group on the other side of the room. And he was like, "Ok, all of you have changes!" WHAT (there´s no question mark on this keyboard, so i´ll just insert the literal words "question mark") ANYWAY, so I got changes! Well, actually I didn´t, but my comp did. It was crayzee. And so then he proceeded to tell everyone who their new comps were and stuff, and he left me and the other hermanas in my zone for last. Turns out, it was because my new comp was already in my zone! I´ll get to it in a second. So anyway, then the rest of the day we just passed by all the members for Hna Valdivia to say goodbye to everyone and then we headed out to Concepcion again so I could meet up with my new comp (Conci is only like an hour from Horqueta, so we didn´t have to go that far.)

The new comp: Ok, so my comp´s name is Hermana Aguilar, and she is from Ecuador. She´s tall, black, and has a really chill slash quiet personality. She´s pretty cool and doesn´t have a super dominant personality, and it´s been good to work with her so far. She´s actually literally almost the exact opposite of Hna. Valdivia in a lot of ways. Which is good slash bad. But yeah, she´s really focused on the work, cares a lot about the people, is kinda serious (but not like in a mean way) and doesn´t talk very much. I´m hoping we can become really good friends though, and it´s looking possible. I feel a lot better now than I did before, and I´m hoping it will just keep getting better. I feel like Hermana Aguilar will help me to focus a lot better on the mission and all the stuff we have to do this change, so that will help, I think. She´s a convert of three years in the church, and her testimony and desire to help the people are strong. Stoked for what the future could hold.

Progressions noted with the beginning of a new change: So something I´ve noticed this past week with Hna. Aguilar is that my abilities in the mish have really progressed more than I thought. I can teach better than I thought, my language skills have improved more than I thought (survey says I´m at an 8 now (according to my district and my new comp, so that´s chill)), and I am learning how to retake control of teaching situations in finding and working with investigators and of course, of conversos recientes and menos activos. It´s been good to finally note a little bit of my progress, and I´m hoping I´ll continue to be able to feel the hand of God leading and guiding me from the whole "weakness into strengths" thing. 

Other stuff: Sad day is that our district leader got changes too, which is a bummer, cause he was such a bomb teacher. Seriously, I learned a lot from him. Out new DL is Elder Mendoza from Riverton, UT, but he is pretty Latino on account of both his parents are from Bolivia and he knew Spanish for his whole life and stuff. He´s pretty chill and laidback overall. Other news is that we had our zone activity today in Concepcion. Our zone is like half new people on account of all the changes. But our zone is V small and there aren´t a whole ton of missionaries. Also, since Horqueta is the only part of the zone not in Concepcion, we actually don´t even have a lot of contact with anyone in our zone anyway. But yeah, the activity was fine. We played ultimate frisbee and introduced ourselves and stuff. Just the norms.

Well, for the fact that I had changes this week, I actually surprisingly don´t have much to say. This week was just pretty quiet and chill overall. I´ve been helping my comp get to know the area, we´ve been contacting more to try and find new people to teach, visiting the members of the rama, etc. We have divisions again this coming week though, so that´ll be something going down. Get hyped.

OH YEAH, and in the biggest news of all, GENERAL CONFERENCE IS THIS WEEKEND! I´m stoked as all get out. Really. We didn´t get to watch women´s conference, but I think we will this weekend as well. I´m so excited. All of you get your questions written out and your church shorts on and up, cause it´s gonna be a good time. Shout out to ColinBae "You watch conference, and I´ll watch conference, and we´ll be watching the same conference at the same time in different parts of the world." #sonearyetsofar

Love you long time,
Hermana Ross

p.s. "I am led to believe that our Heavenly Father loves us so much that the things that are important to us become important to Him, just because He loves us." WHAT MATTERS TO US MATTERS TO GOD. That´s real. He is in the details of our lives.


Us with the sign

the alarm my district leader put on our phone for the next day to remind us he got changes haha

my agenda for this change (cambio 6 of 13, fyi)

The sun was looking sweeett after it rained

My companion with the cows!

Me with the cows

3 day old kittens

I was dying!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Week 30

Dear Family,

Well, this was the other hardest week of my life. So hard so hard. It finished out ight, cause there was a SICK wedding/baptismal fiesta on Saturday, but before that was rough. Anyway, I´ll explain shortly, but mostly it´s just feelings, which are hard to understand, let´s be honest. We´ll start with the bad news and move onto the good news from there:

Bad news:
SO it started out with me just not feeling super happy Sunday night/Monday on account of a lot of passive aggressive communication that was taking place and also just the weird place that I´m in with all of my weaknesses/broken heart/LACK of change of heart. And on Tuesday I was dyingggg. I know that sounds dramatic, but that´s how it felt, ight? I was seriously so sad. We had a BOMB district meeting, as per usual, and I almost cried like 100x (but I didn´t. I kept it together). ANYWAY, but by the time it got to be English classes in the evening, I was defs feeling like I had to do something. And the spirit kept prompting me to ask for a blessing, but I kinda ignored it until it got to the point that I couldn´t anymore. So after classes when most everyone had left, I asked my district leader for a blessing, which I think kinda took him by surprise cause I was acting normal. But anyway, it ended up that the Cranney´s were still there, so the elders and Elder Cranney gave me a blessing. And let me tell you, I could not stop myself from crying. I literally couldn´t. It was low key embarassing on account of I was just crying pretty hard and everyone was like "what´s even happening?" But the blessing was good (my first one received in Spanish, yo), and in it Elder Muños said that the Lord is still expecting more of me, and that I just need to keep going. Which I know, but it was good to hear. Anyway, but then after it was kinda awkwardish cause I was just crying and I think everyone was pretty worried about me (lolz). So then the Cranney´s drove us home, but Elder Cranney took us out to ice cream first. How nice, amirite? He´s really nice.

So after that hysterical incident, I had another real talk with my comp in which I expressed more of my feelings in general and also we had another comp inventory. It bothers me that I´m so weak in that I feel like I have to have a really good relationship with all the people I spend a lot of time with. Things would be a ton more chill if I could just accept the fact that my comp and I are super, super, super different, and not be bothered by it, but I can´t. I don´t know. And honestly I feel a little bit emotionally abused. There´s a ton of manipulation and mind-games at play, but I know she doesn´t know she´s doing it, so I try to just let it go. But it´s really taken its toll on me. I feel like I´m constantly walking on egg shells and it doesn´t really matter what I do, because nothing can truly fix the situation. Maybe help it, but not solve its fundamental problems. I know that your companions help prepare you for marriage and stuff, but I´m pretty dang sure I´d never be in so far with someone emotionally unstable like this. I guess you can´t always know with stuff like that, but I´d like to imagine that I´ll never, ever be in a relationship like this again. Cause I would for sure classify it as "unhealthy." 

So yeah, I felt slightly better after that, but not a ton, per se. Then on Thursday, we had divisions with the hermana training leaders, which was slightly untimely, but also actually good timing in that I wanted to talk to someone. But I went out with Hermana Moreno, from Columbia, who was actually in Horqueta herself for six months. And she´s really nice and outgoing, but doesn´t really do deep emotional conversations, that I could tell, because she literally didn´t ask me a single question the entire time we were together. Mostly we just visited and had lessons with the people in the area she wanted to visit. It was ight, but not really fulfilling. Also, she´s pretty bold with her contacting, and our styles are pretty different. She goes up to groups of like 10 plus people and just kinda starts preaching. I don´t know if I´m just scared or what, but I really don´t enjoy that type of thing. She also likes contacting people who are drinking (like alcohol) so that she can help them to "darse cuenta" with what they´re doing. Also NOT my style. But it was ok overall, I guess. 

Good news: 
On Saturday the elders had a wedding and a baptism for two of their investigators, and it was BOMB! Like, the decorations were ON POINT, it was super fun, everyone was happy, there were pictures, music, CAKE, etc. And after their baptisms they had a huge dance party (but obviously as missionaries we can´t join in and party :() BUT, we got to be there because we were in charge of cleaning up after and stuff, and also there were a lot of investigators there, so there was work to be done. But seriously, it was so fun. It was like a hecka typical latin party with blaring Spanish music (#polkaparaguaya), tons of people dancing, etc. And all the people from the rama were there, and I just felt really happy. It was probably the most fun experience I´ve had thus far on the mish. 

And the best news of all is that Jesus Christ lives, loves me, and is with me throughout this entire experience. I may be suffering more than I ever have before, but it´s bound my heart to the Savior´s in a way I never knew possible. As you know, I´ve been praying for a change of heart like CRAZY to try to gain more charity and more love for missionary work. I like to think that this is a righteous desire (IT IS), and quite honestly, well-deserved for the sacrifice I made in choosing to come on a mission practically for the sole reason that God wanted me to. And I´ve just been praying and praying and working and working and figuring that it´s about time that my broken heart be changed for a new one. Right? RIGHT? My theme for this cambio was "change of heart," and I really figured by the end (which I am at now) I would have made a lot of progress. But I haven´t, and it´s kind of devastated me. I mean I know patience is a valuable quality, and that sometimes God´s answer is "wait", but I always assumed that applied to different types of situations. Why would God be telling me I need to "wait" before he´ll bless me with more charity? But guess what? HE IS. OMGosh. I literally got my answer this past week. God is telling me to WAIT. And to just hang in there. Which is CRAZY to me. Really brings to your mind "man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend" (Mosiah 4:9) I know that charity is a gift I can only develop with God´s help, but I just assumed that if I was out here and kept working, he´d just give it to me. But I was wrong. He´s preparing me, I can feel it. And I feel so sad and sometimes so unmotivated BUT I never feel alone, and I never feel abandoned. Neal A. Maxwell said, "One´s life cannot be both faith-filled and stress-free... Therefore, how can you and I really expect to flide naively through life, as if to say, "Lord, give me experience, but not grief, not sorrow, not pain, not opposition, not betrayal, and certainly not to be forsaken. Keep from me, Lord, all those experiences which made Thee what Thou art! Then let me come and dwell with Thee and fully share Thy joy!" Real faith is required to endure this necesarry but painful developmental process." Anyway, I have faith that things will work out, and I know I´ll feel nothing but gratitude for all of these experiences (once they´re over... lolz. Jk, I´m grateful for them now. But I´ll probz be more grateful after.)

ANYWAY, I love you a lot a lot and hope you are receiving blessings x2 right now for my missionary service. If God is "taking" all my blessings and giving them to you, that´d be chill with me (not that that´s how blessings from God work...) Changes are tomorrow and I´ll find out my fate for the next transfer. I´m trying not to stress about it too much because I know it´s all just the will of God. If I got to choose, we all know what I´d choose, but I also know things could always be worse, so I´m happy to just leave it up to the Lord

xoxo Hermana Ross
Me and my comp with the sick wedding decor

             THE district. p.s. It was SO HOT. I was lit-rally melting

                                     The youths

Comp good times

me with a pollito! there were a freaking ton. I had like 10 on my lap at one point. Also, can you tell how hot it is in this picture?

Bendito Sol

Divisions with the sister leaders, I was with Hermana Moreno from Columbia

the youths in the back of President´s truck. We ride in the back of his truck super often, on account of he and the Cranney´s are the one people with cars in the rama. It´s mid-level peligroso, but #yolo

Service project. Sry I´m looking ratchet (it was 1,000,000 degrees). Also, I´m super, super white. Ughhh.

presh youths hanging out

Crazyyyy moth thing that was more like a bird
Service project. Sry I´m looking ratchet (it was 1,000,000 degrees).

presh youths hanging out

Monday, September 14, 2015

Week 29

Dear Family,

Wellll, this week was significantly better than last week. Significantly. I´ll hit some of the deets, but firstly you gotta know that I´m in Conception right now because we came here for a P-day zone-lunch thing, and the keyboard in this cyber is literally the worst. I can´t even with this keyboard right now.

Progressions w/ the comp sitch: 
Ok, so this week was operation Be Best Friends With My Companion. And it was a success. I reached a whole other level of communication and interpersonal skillz. Quite satisfying, really. Let me explain a little bit. So I´m not going to say that I´m perfectly happy in my situation still (which is a myth, actually, let´s be honest), but things are significantly better. I just decided that I´d had enough of not feeling like I had a super good relationship with my comp, so I made really, really concentrated efforts to change it. I won´t get into all of the details involved (cause it would take too long), but I´ll give a few examples. Ok, so after planning at night, I really like to use the 30 or so minutes we have to chill, write in my journal, read the ensign or something, etc. So I would always do those things, but I could tell it bugged my comp that I would just sit at my desk and do my own personal thing (she hates silence and I´m actually surprisingly ok with it). But anyway, I decided that this week I would not do those things, and instead I would talk to my comp every night and do whatever she wanted to do (aka, talk, look at pictures, take pictures in the apartment, other random stuff like that). And it helped a lot. Like, even more than I thought it would. My comp actually has a lot of emotional attachment to taking pictures, so I´ve noted that the more pictures we take, the happier she is. Supes random, but actually a real thing. I had to sacrifice a lot of my pride (which I actually don´t even have a lot of right now on account of ALL THE HUMBLING), but it was still hard. I had to give up practically all of my common sense (so hard so hard so hard), give up efficiency, give up reflection, and just try to replace it all with patience and understanding. Anyway, sorry,   I´m literally dying with this keyboard/I´m super distracted by how loud this cyber is. The ultimate point is that things are much better and I feel much better (with this situation, at least). I almost don´t even know if I´ve ever had such open communication with someone (not a family member). It´s really random for how different I am from my companion how much we´ve both opened up a lot emotionally to each other. So that´s really been the compensatory blessing in all of this. So it´s still a struggle overall, but I´m not in despair about it anymore, lolz #angst #thewillofGod

 So this Saturday we had a super fun activity in the rama that was like a play/theater thing about the stories of The Book of Mormon. It was way fun to plan/be in, actually, and all the jovenes in the rama are super cool and super active. The attendance ended up being pitiful (like the President of the rama and his family and like 5 other people...), but all the jovenes that participated in the play were there and it was a good time. I´ll send pics.

English class: 
So just a quick note is that we started to have English classes here this past week! Elder Payne and I are teaching. It was a good time. The eightish most active jovenes from the rama came. That´s actually higher asistencia than we had in Anahi, which is like a joke, because Anahi has two wards, and Horqueta is just one branch. But there are for sure some fiel members here (mostly just youth), and it´s a good time.

Ok, so that´s the gist of what I can remember right now. Our area has potential, but right now it´s kinda dead and we don´t have any progressing investigators. We´ll see how it goes this week. It´s the last week of the change, and then a week from Tuesday we´ll find out changes. If I stay with my comp (most probable situation), we´ll have to re-work our strategies. If I get a different comp then we´ll figure something new out based on our styles. Wish my luck. That´s realtalk.

Much love,
Hermana Ross

p.s. And charity SUFFERETH LONG, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no eveil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, BEARETH ALL THINGS, believeth all things, hopeth all things, ENDURETH ALL THINGS (Moroni 7:45)

My package came!


Selfies all night long

At the Book of Mormon Activity

Fun times at the activity

Still more selfies
Me with a puppy!

At a gorgeous pool at Concepcion

Elder Smith's Last P day

The zone

Monday, September 7, 2015

Week 28

Dear Family,

Well, I feel pretty good right now. But I gotta be honest, this week was rough for me. Probably one of the hardest weeks of my life, TBH. Actually, definitely one of the hardest weeks of my life, who am I kidding? Couldn't really even tell you why, because there wasn´t really a specific reason. Just an untimely combination of my own weaknesses, difficulties w/ my comp, language barrier probz, and lack of proper perspective all tied up and mixed together by the will of God. The good news is that I feel God´s presence consistently, I´m learning a ton, I know this is for my own good, and I´ll never, ever give up. Other good news is that I have some hi-sterical journal entries to laugh about in a few years. But I´m pretty sure Albert Einstein thought of the theory of relativity while he was on his mission, cause I could promise you I´ve lived at least a month in this past week. At least. And although this results in hard days feeling like hard weeks, it also has the very real and very powerful effect of catalyzing spiritual experiences and spiritual growth. So imma focus on the positive (cause that´s what I´m going to take with me ultimately from these experiences) and share with you just a few of the things I´ve been internalizing this past month... I mean this past week (cause really it was just a week, but like I said, it felt like a month). 

More reflections on weaknesses: Ok, ok, so I swear I´ll understand and really internalize this lesson one day. But I guess that day is not today, because I´m still thinking a ton about how to turn weaknesses into strengths and how we can discover and develop our talents. But I came across a powerful scripture acerca de esta tema in Exodus 4:10-12, in which the Lord has commanded Moses to speak unto the Pharaoh. "v.10 And Moses said unto the Lord, o my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: But I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue. v.11 And the Lord said unto him, who hath made man´s mouth? Or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? Have not I the Lord? v.12 Now therefore go, and I will be thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say." Wow. I feel so much like Moses in these verses. It´s like I´m saying to the Lord, "O my Lord, I am not eloquent. My Spanish is hecka broken, I don´t know the doctrines or the scriptures as well as I could, I feel awkward a lot, and I hardly ever feel like I know what to say." And then the Lord says back to me, "Who hath sent you to Paraguay on your mission? Who hath called you to serve in a foreign country with a different language with a different culture? Have not I the Lord? Therefore go, and I will be thy mouth, and teach (not just give) thee what thou shalt say." If me serving a mission wasn´t part of Heavenly Father´s plan for my life, He would have just let me chill happily at BYU living the good life. But He told me I needed to serve a mission, and now he´s teaching me how. It´s harder than heck, but I really, really, really know that God is in charge. And he could take away all my trials right now if it was his will. But since he´s not, I know it´s ultimately for my benefit. (see D y C 122:7. "If the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.") In our district meeting on Tuesday, Elder Muñoz was teaching us about the allegory of the olive trees in Jacob 5. And in vs. 70-72ish, it says "And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard sent his servant (Hermana Ross to Paraguay); and the servant went and did as the Lord had commanded [her]...And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard said unto [Hermana Ross] go to, and labor in the vineyard with your might... And it came to pass that [Hermana Ross] did go and labor with [her] might; and the Lord of the vineyard labored also with [her]." As missionaries, we are not working for the Lord, with are working with the Lord. And when I go to contact, or when I go into a lesson and I don´t feel inspired, or don´t know what to say (aka like always), the Lord is with me. He´s not just watching me like another missionary in zone conference observing and evaluating my teaching skills to give me feedback. He´s literally teaching with me. And there´s limitless power in that, ya know? Anyway, still working on internalizing this lesson 100%, but it´s getting closer.

Refletions on grace: So more great news is that the more I learn about the atonement of Jesus Christ, the more I can understand and internalize his grace. I´ve been thinking about it a lot, especially in terms of where I am now and where I want to be. Elder Neal A. Maxwell said, "Now may I speak to those buffeted by false insecurity, who, through laboring devotedly in the kingdom have recurring feelings of falling forever short... this feeling of inadequacy is normal. There is no way the church can honestly describe where we must yet go and what we must yet do without creating a sense of immense distance. This is a gospel of grand expectations, but God´s grace is sufficient for each of us." Bruce C. Hafen and Brad Wilcox offer more insights: "The Savior´s gift of grace to us is not necessarily limited in time to "after" all we can do. We may receive his grace before, during and after the time when we expend our own efforts. So grace is not a booster engine that kicks in once our fuel supply is exhausted. Rather, it is our constant energy source. It is not the light at the end of the tunnel but the light that moves us through the tunnel. Grace is not achieved somewhere down the road. It is received right here and right now. It is not a finishing touch; it is the finisher´s touch." It´s just truer than true, ya know? #doubletrue. Last night we visited this recent RM from the rama last night who out of nowhere hasn´t been coming to church for like two months. Anyway, he ended up kind of having a breakdown and disclosed to us that he broke the law of chastity and feels miserable. He says he knew better (as an RM and endowed member, ya know), and he doesn´t even know what to do with himself now. Anyway, we ended up having one of the most spiritual lessons I´ve ever had with him, in which I testified with everything I could give that I know God´s love doesn´t change for us based on mistakes we´ve made (or weaknesses we have). And that he´s not alone, that he can change and be forgiven, and that I know Christ´s grace is real. And I meant what I said. I do know those things. God´s love is the realest.

Segue into reflections on God´s love: So I´ll keep this section kind of short, cause if I don´t, I´ll go on forever (look forward to that after the mission #doctrinebyHolly #tranquinottrunky). Mostly I just want to cite a scripture in Romans #Biblelyfe #actuallyidon´tknowthebiblethatwell (Se encuentra in captiulo 8, versiculos 35, 37-39). It says, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword (or a hard companion, or the inability to communicate fluently in Spanish, or missing my family, etc.)? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, (nor the Paraguayan jungle), shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." The love of God doesn´t change depending on where we are, what we are doing, how we feel emotionally, etc. It is simply always there.

Well, sorry I didn´t say like anything about my week. Like I said, mostly it was just really normal, but I didn´t feel normal. But I´m fine, and it´ll be fine. I´m progressing in my teaching skills, learning to minister better to people´s needs, I really like the rama here, etc. And we had a really good comp inventory on Friday (dare I say the best I´ve ever had?) I´m just an open communicator, ya know? 

Ok, well I love you a ton! So much. Hope you forgive me for pretty much typing up a talk, lolz.

Hearts and stars,
Hermana Ross

Me with my comp and Apple Juice

Us at a Family Home Evening

The Familia Diana

At the Church