Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Week 48


Hey-o. Welp, today is the first week of a new change! My 9th, actually (out of 13, but who's counting?) Anyway, I feel like I never heard missionaries or even RMs talk about changes that much, but TBH I'm like "uhhhh, they're kinda a hecka big deal." Everything and it's mother in your mission life depends on what area you're in and who your companion is. But bad news bears is that we won't actually find out what's going down until tomorrow in our zone meeting. Although rumor has it I'll be leaving Horqueta. Like it's always anybody's game, but I do have six months here and also I just feel like it's time. But it's gonna be sooooo weird to leave after all this time. I've been here for half of my mission and have passed through a million and a half experiences. So much many things. 

I feel like I've learned so much here. Yesterday at church the Presidente de Rama was like "Hermana, since you're going to leave Horqueta, why don't you give a talk today?" Lolz. But anyway, I was reflecting on everything I've passed through here and realized how much I've truly grown from all the stuff that's gone down. Horqueta for me has REALLY been the refiner's fire. So hard so hard. There were some golden moments in there for sure, but the experience as a whole was very trying. From my companions to the branch here to the RATCHET weather to my personal weaknesses to the fact that I am out in the middle of the lit-rall Paraguayan jungle, I have honestly passed through more trials in the past few months alone than in my whole prior life combined. And through all this, I have finally learned how to internalize the atonement, have grown to better feel God's love for me personally, and have better recognized the methods God uses to speak to me. I have also learned better how to love unconditionally, how to exercise patience more graciously, and how to internalize my faith to the very very core. I have practiced sacrificing my will to align it with the Lord's, learned how to better compromise in my interpersonal relationships, and have become more accustomed to doing things that push me out of my comfort zone. I really can't even begin to explain all of these things with words, and it will probably take a lifetime to truly understand and internalize everything that I've experienced here. But I'm grateful for the trials that I've passed through here and am grateful to the Lord for loving me enough to cut me down. "For whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth" (Hebrews 12:6). 

I've actually been thinking a lot about that this past change, but especially in the past few weeks. My comp has still been dealing with a decent amount of residual struggles from her nervous breakdown, and the past few weeks have been focused a lot on her emotional recovery. It's been a weird kind of difficult to have to take a break from the rigors of missionary work to focus on re-working cognitive distortions. 

Something I’ve really been caught up on is the notion “doing your best.” Because I know all that God asks of us is to do our best, but what happens when we can’t even do our best? Something I’ve really come to internalize with Hermana Lundberg these past few changes is that not only does God love us unconditionally, but He also forgives us for not being able to do our best. [Once again, see Adaptacion a la Vida Misional: Realize that everything you do can´t be above average. You still want to work hard to improve, but no matter how good you become at something, you will perform below your personal average some of the time. This is not a cause for alarm.] I know that not only does the Lord make up the difference, but He already atoned for my sins and it is only through HIS grace that I can work through my weaknesses.

Alrighttt, well time is pretty short on account of there was no internet at the church, so the Cranneys were kind enough to lend us their computers for a few minutes (side note: this computer is from the states and I cannot even with this keyboard. I forget where all the symbols and punctuation are :0). But hopefully all will go well with finding out changes tomorrow (lol @ the #plottwist of if I didn’t even leave Horqueta. Although like I said, I’m pretty sure I am.) Other side note is that it’s going to be WEIRD AS HECK to have a companion that’s not Hermana Lundberg. I have literally grown 2 attached to my mission bae and it’s going to be way hard to be separated #truelove. Our companionship was so inspired and we have learned so dang much together. She has made me a better person and I am so grateful to Heavenly Father for giving me such a great friend. Even if I did have to come to Paraguay to find her, despite the fact that she is from Lindon, Utah lolz.

Ok, love you SO much!
Hermana Ross

w/ the Estigs and Rocio

w/ Familia Gimenez

  Not sure if you can tell how vicious these birds are from the picture #2vish

 In front of a kool fence

The hermanas in la zone de Concepcion (4/4 reppin the states!)

When you're so busy being a PR agent that you can't even get off the phone for a picture

 From the mish Christmas partay


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Week 47


heyyy, so I only have 20 minutes to use the computer today, aka I`m just gonna print everything off lolz. I`ll tell you more about it next week, but the reason is cause today we came to Pedro Juan!! It`s a city that borders  Paraguay and Brazil aka I`ve been to Brazil now. And I have pix to prove it. Sikkk.

This week was pretty dece. Not too much crazy stuff went down. Except for that my ZL Elder Simao got hecka sick and had to be in the hospital for several days, aka we`ve had lots more hospital parties. I`ve never spent so much time in the hospital in my life as I have these past few weeks. District probz, amirite? They think he might have dengue, so that would suck, but it also might be something else.

Ok, sorry this is the most janky email that was ever written. My brain is legit fried from the adventures of today. And also we left at like 4 am, so I`m running pretty low on sleep. But let me just tell ya, PJC is SICK! Brazil sells everything for hecka cheap and I blew a decent amount of dinero buying some sick recuerdos. 

Hermana Ross

p.s. Crazy news is that Sara Diana (the jovencita that I taught from start to finish) actually just moved to northern Paraguay. Like super close to Bolivia. Which is really crazy and random and also kind of sad, because there are no church buildings or missionaries that far in the campo. BUTTT, it`s actually a pretty cool and inspired story, because she literally moved to Horqueta just long enough to meet the missionaries and get baptized. Like I started teaching her in my second change here, she got baptized in my third change here, and now she`s gone before the end of my fourth. So it was obviously like the most inspired thing ever and I actually feel really grateful to Heavenly Father for letting me have such a cool part in Sara`s pretty awesome conversión. And I got to meet her mom (who is not a member and was living in Asunción) and she said all Sara talked about was the church and how much she was excited for General Conference and wants to be a missionary in a few years, etc. Presh!!! #2blessed2bestressed

our parting gift for Sara

Lol @ E`Cranney`s selfie

w Sara`s mom

with the Pedro Juan zone

that time I went to BRAZIL! #hyped

con Sebastiana 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Week 46


Well, this week was an interesting one! It started with my comp getting way sick and ended up with me having the flu. So all in all there wasn´t actually too much that got done lolz. So since there´s not too much to report on, I will take the long-awaited opportunity to cite some of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite fountains of doctrinal and emotional wisdom - the inspired librito, "Adjusting to Missionary Life." I consider it one of the most inspired things to ever hit the missionary world, and I´ll fight anyone who says differently. Aint nobody gonna make fun of "Adjusting to Missionary Life" in front of me, cause I won´t stand for it. So here goes some citas that have gotten me through some hard times (p.s. my real desire is just to copy and paste the whole book, butttt that´s not realistic. So just read it when you get the chance. It´s short and helps with all aspects of life ever.):

-Be kind to yourself. Talk to yourself with the same kind, comforting words you would use with someone else. Everyone gets frustrated or makes mistakes sometimes. Know that the Lord understands. Imagine Him sitting close to you, listening and offering support. Remember, thoughts of helplessness, hopelessness, or harsh condemnation are not from the Lord.

-Break down big or difficult tasks into smaller pieces. If they still feel too hard, break them down more. Then act. If you wait to "feel like" working before starting, you may wait a long time. Get started, and motivation will follow.

-Let go of what you cannot control. The past, the agency of others, the rules, the weather, government bureaucracies, the culture, your limitations, or the personality of other missionaries are outside of your control. Focus on things you can do something about, such as your behavior, your part in a relationship, your current choices, and your attitude. (yeah, this one can be WAY HARD)

-Accept the reality of some boring routines. Not all of life is deeply meaningful and exciting. Avoid creating drama, intensity, or conflict to deal with boredom. Instead, appreciate and enjoy the good around you, and look for ways to improve and serve. (hahaha this one kills me. Looking at you Baby Ray)

-Realize that everything you do can´t be above average. You still want to work hard to improve, but no matter how good you become at something, you will perform below your personal average some of the time. This is not a cause for alarm.

-Listen to the Spirit, not negativity. If you are having thoughts that are belittling, mocking, angry, sarcastic, murmuring, critical, or name calling, they are not from the Lord. Shut them out.

-Give yourself extra credit for doing something you don´t enjoy or don´t do well. Don´t tell yourself it only counts if you are happy about it or if you did it perfectly.

-Write in your journal. It helps to at least feel understood by yourself. (lololololololol, TOO TRUE, omgosh)

-Identify and use your strengths. Some people find talking with people energizing; others find it tiring. Both types of people can be effective missionaries. If you are someone who becomes weary talking with strangers, don´t give up trying. You have other strengths to contribute to missionary work, such as being a good friend to those you know well, having creative ideas, being insightful about people, or excellent at planning. You may assume others don´t like you, even though they really do. Seek inspiration and listen to the Spirit to help you use your strengths in His service and develop more of the attributes of Christ that you have access to as a missionary. You represent Jesus Christ, not yourself.

SOOO as you can see, there are lots of boss things to be learned and internalized from this booklet. The spirit is so chill that it´s always gonna whisper to us what we have yet to work on and how we can improve. One of my favorite conference talks is "¿Que más me falta?" (aka What Lack I Yet?) by E´ Lawrence. He says, "As we travel along that strait and narrow path, the Spirit continually challenges us to be better and to climb higher. The Holy Ghost makes an ideal traveling companion. If we are humble and teachable, He will take us by the hand and lead us home. However, we need to ask the Lord for directions along the way. We have to ask some difficult questions, like "What do I need to change?" "How can I improve?" "What weaknesses need strengthening?"... The Holy Ghost really does give customized counsel. He is a completely honest companion and will tell us things that no one else knows or has the courage to say... the possibilities are endless. The Spirit can show us our weaknesses, but He is also able to show us our strengths. Sometimes we need to ask what we are doing right so that the Lord can lift and encourage us... Heavenly Father knows our divine potential. He rejoices every time we take a step forward. To Him, our direction is ever more important than our speed."

I know the Lord loves us and will use us how we are and help us to become better as we continue to make efforts (even if our efforts are sometimes small or not even our "best efforts" #perfectionistmyth). Our direction is more important than our speed. Truly "the fullness of the gospel [is being] proclaimed by the weak and simple unto the ends of the world" (D y C 1:23). So if a missionary (or anyone) is feeling weak and simple, THAT is when the Lord can use them. And I know that´s true cause I feel it and have had the truth of it confirmed unto me. 

Love you so much!! Hope you have a great week. And also plz keep Hna Lundberg in your prayers cause she is still recovering.

<3 xoxo Hermana Ross

p.s. Here are lit-rally my only pictures from the week.

When my comp´s entire physical and emotional systems failed her and we had to be in the hospital all day. It was a fexhausting experience

 Our first-class Paraguayan bathroom. I chilled on that bathroom floor for a decent amount of time this week, so #pray4Holly #parasiteprobz

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Week 45


It´s been a good week. F´reals. Lots of good times to be had. Mish friends, a super stellar comp, an area I love, super open and receptive people (even if they can´t keep committments, dangit), and a God whose love is infinite and eternal <3 

We finished out the end of the Hollyday season 2015 strong. We had some pretty ill parties this past week intermixed with some good lessons and, as usual, tons of contacting. And alright, again, when I say "party," I just mean a normal event that we call a party cause we don´t go to actual parties. This week, we had a ton of these! It kicked off last Monday with a killer chicken nugget party, followed by a New Year´s Eve pizza hang out, and finished up with a pretty boss Concí get together on Saturday. Such good times. I´ll testify to the day I die that your comp makes all the difference. Or at least like a lot of the difference. 

Anyway, I´ve been reflecting this past week, as to be expected, on the past year, the present, and of course the coming year #2k16. And I´d like to give a shout out to what has always been my favorite talk about new beginnings. I know I´ve quoted it before, but it´s been a while, so here it goes again:

“The start of a new year is the traditional time to take stock of our lives and see where we are going, measured against the backdrop of where we have been… So, as a new year starts and we try to benefit from a proper view of what has gone before, I plead with you not to dwell on days now gone, nor to yearn vainly for yesterdays, however good those yesterdays may have been. The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead, we remember that faith is always pointed toward the future. Faith always has to do with blessings and truths and events that will yet be efficacious in our lives… Faith is for the future. Faith builds on the past but never longs to stay there. Faith trusts that God has great things in store for each of us and that Christ truly is the “high priest of good things to come.” Keep your eyes on your dreams, however distant and far away. Live to see the miracles of repentance and forgiveness, of trust and divine love that will transform your life today, tomorrow, and forever.”

So true. I love faith and how it is so eternally intertwined wtih hope. Like, faith is the basis of all facets of testimony. But how can we have faith, save we have hope? And then that same hope that led us to faith brings us to more hope #deep. And then this powerful combination of faith and hope eventually helps us develop charity #deeper. 

And then this charity that has been developed SUFFERTH LONG. And BEARETH ALL THINGS and ENDURETH ALL THINGS. If there´s been anything the mission has taught me day in and day out, it´s been all of this. This past Sunday was fast and testimony meeting, and Hermana Cranney bore her testimony (while her husband translated it), and it was super powerful. And she said in it that serving this mission has been the hardest thing she´s ever done. And she and Elder Cranney have no doubt passed through some pretty hard things in their lives. But the mission really just packs on the personal trials, I feel like. Which help you learn and grow, but can also be very, very hard at times. But I´m really grateful for faith, hope, and charity, and how they can be developed and exercised to get you through anything. And the atonement of Jesus Christ encircles all of those qualities and all of the imperfect people trying to develop them.. 

Ight, well I hope you have a great week. And thx for all the half-birthday shoutouts I received. Good to know the fans still remember the little things ;) Oh, and p.s. There have been tonsss of special changes in the mission the past two weeks. It´s actually pretty intense. You never know when special changes are gonna strike. I´ve been spared my whole mission thus far, but rumor has it almost no one can escape them for the full mission. Our zone has definitely had some dramatic noticias, but thus far Horqueta has been safe. Vamos a ver. 

Love you tons!! 
Con amor,
Hermana Ross

I call this "Portrait of a Chicken Nugget"

my district leader wanted a selfie of me eating a chicken nugget SO BAD #doitforthevine

When you party too dang hard

New Year's Eve Partay

that time there were special changes for E´Martinez, so we all took a special trip up to Concí to say goodbye

It was Hna Collin´s birthday

With the Hermanas from Concepcion
Not sure if you can tell how fetching HOT it is based on this picture lolz

on the ride home from church #typical

más decor from Christmas

Horqueta Resort... lolz. Cause it´s so hot, ya know? 

With Cecilia at Church

Elder Gomes! Dat Brasil lyfe tho