Monday, September 26, 2011

9-26-11 letter

Dearest Family!!!!!!
Wow... I´ve been here for 3 weeks! That is crazy! This week was another good one. It´s still a trial for me to see people choose not to come unto Christ, whether it´s people who have been progressing not accept more lessons, less active members, or people not accept baptism. It´s really sad. There was one day where literally EVERY plan (most actually scheduled lessons) AND EVERY backup plan literally fell through. That mixed with one lady who told us that she was inactive because people in church are poor and that she had nothing to talk to missionaries about. What could 19 to 23 year old kids know and why would she want them telling her about religion? Then another inactive sister told us that she didn´t think it was right that girls would ask to come into her home when she had a husband and a son and that she would be calling the Elders. And then I was feeling pretty junky about my Spanish. Yes, I will admit it, I was getting a little bit discouraged, and I was this close to letting satan get me down. Well, I woke up then next morning and told myself that I am WAY stronger than anything that satan can throw at me and that I can get up and get going or I can wallow in self pity and be a failure because I choose to be. So in my studies, I studied President Uchtdorf´s talk from last Priesthood session about the privilege of the Priesthood, and every time he said Priesthood, I said ´missionary´ in my mind (I don´t think he would mind) and it was AMAZING!!! I then went to Alma 26, which he mentions in the talk which talks about glorying in the Lord. And verse 27 says that if we endure our hardships well, that we will be able to find success. All the talk about glorying in the Lord made me think, "I am a SISTER MISSIONARY!! This is what I have wanted to be for a VERY long time and it´s actually happening! I have the chance to get a front row seat to the Lord performing miracles in the lives of His children!" Wow... seriously though, maybe it´s dramatic, but I am a missionary and that is COOL! I felt much better after that study and even when things are less than stellar or plans fall through, I can glory in my Lord. It´s like Ammon... when the robbers came to steal the sheep, he didn´t freak out. He basically said "How great! I am going to show forth the power of God!" I want to be that way.
This week we had Zone Conference. The night before, our district leader called and told us that we were all supposed to prepare 3 or 4 minute talks about counseling with the Lord. I didn´t think much of it, and prepared a simple talk the next morning before leaving. Basically just some notes and scriptures. Well, we got there and President started calling people up to speak. I figured I was safe since all the Elders he was calling up had been there for a long while and there were 5 other Sisters there. Well, by the 2nd talk I had a feeling that I would be asked to give my talk. I think the Lord had to tell me early, because I might have passed out otherwise. Ha. Well, President called me up and I was SUPER nervous, because it´s not like in the MTC where all of the missionaries came in with you or after you. There were many missionaries there who are on their last transfer, and most everyone else has mastered Spanish. The other new missionaries that were there were honestly all natives. That´s why I thought I would be safe because I was the only one, totally 100% honestly, who didn´t speak Spanish. Yikes! Well, I did okay. I said 2 English words because I had no idea how to say humbling. Humildad is humility, but humbling is a totally different thing. I can´t remember the other word, but there was another one... it was okay though. I actually think it was good for me to know that I can. People seemed to know what I was saying, so they were either super nice, or something I said made a little bit of sense. Ha! Small Spanish victories.

We have the best ward EVER!!! Our Bishop, Obispo Valle is really super awesome. I am in awe at everything he does for the ward. We had ward council on Sunday and his love and concern for the ward was especially evident. He is a good man. Everyone sacrifices a LOT to serve in their callings. Like the YM Pres. He is 25 and from Haiti!!! He is here studying, working, AND is the YM President. Wow. We took him to a lesson with us yesterday and that was super awesome. More on that lesson later. Also in the ward council is Hno and Hna Pinto. We had lunch with them yesterday and we LOOOOOVE them! They are a SUPER cute young married couple from Brazil who are just adorable together. We had such a good time with them and are so impressed with their service to the ward. Hna Pinto is only 21 too and she is the kind of cute wife I want to be some day. She studied in Utah for a year as a youth and now makes cute little cupcakes, cookies, etc. She made us chocolate chip cookies and it was like tasting home! Their apartment is adorable and super nice. We love meeting the people in our ward and building relationships with them is great because then they trust us and will let us teach their friends and family.

YM President with us so that he could get to know him and that was great. Hermano Alfredo is amazing and was super helpful. Jimmy is 16 and Hermano Alfredo was also 16 when he converted and is still really young, so they connected well. It was really inspired to ask him to come with us.
Rudecinda and Sandra are both doing well. They have started their paper work and we are slowing going to be able to get them baptized!!! We just love them so much.
Pray for our investigators. We have baptismal dates, so that´s great. There are some who just can´t make a commitment and some who we still need to make some changes. Then of course, there are many to FIND. That is always the first step! Finding. It´s fun to try different ways of finding people. This week, our focus is Conference. We are SSSSSOOOOOOOOO excited about conference and can´t wait to tell EVERYONE that there is a literal Prophet on the earth today! Wow! How amazing is that truth??? Will you all take a challenge?? Will you all invite at least 1 person to watch conference with you? Because really, we have a Prophet of God and he is going to speak to us! How can we keep that a secret??? Conference is a spiritual feast and a great opportunity to share the truth! I can´t wait to hear about all the success you have with this.

My Spanish is progressing. I even talked on the phone, which is huge because I am scared of the phone because if I can´t see mouths, I have even less of a chance of understanding! But it actually was okay and I even set up an appointment. So it´s coming.

In all, things are great. I feel so humbled by this work. I have a very long way to go, but I am so grateful that the Lord is teaching me with every single experience!
I love the gospel and I am so happy for the chance to take it to the people of Argentina. It really is the truth in the earth today and we have the authority and power of God. Wow, wow wow!
Thank you for all the love and support! I couldn´t do it without you!
All my love,
Hermana Shelley

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

9-19-11 letter

Well, this week was awesome and difficult all at once. Agency is a tough thing sometimes. We were supposed to have a baptism yesterday, and when we went to pick him up he wasn´t home and didn´t answer his phone all day and when we tried to go back that night and teach him and set a new date, he still wasn´t home. Sad. We are hoping all is well. The hard thing is that this is the second time that he has done this, so we have some work to do. Pray for him.
The work is progressing and things are easier now that we are starting to get to know the area. The members are wonderful and so very helpful, which makes everything easier. The only problem with members is that they feed us way to much! HA! But seriously, I thought that I would just eat super slow and then I would not have to accept seconds, but no... they won´t take no for an answer. Oh boy!
We have 2 "eternal investigators" who both need to be married to their "husbands" before they can be baptized. We had SUPER awesome lessons with both of them this week and they both accepted baptismal dates and both went to get the papers to be married (this is the most difficult part...simply going to get them!) and they are going to be baptized between sessions of GENERAL CONFERENCE on Sunday October 2nd. How cool is that! They are both practically members already who come to church and their children are baptized and now they are finally making this important covenant. WOW! Being a missionary is so amazing because you get to have a front row seat to watch the miracles that God creates. wow wow wow wow wow!

So people here have a really hard time pronouncing Shelley... most of the time, it´s Hermana Shirley! haha. So fun. I really love that.
My Spanish is getting better every day. I understand a TON of what is going on, and when it´s about the gospel, I understand almost everything. It´s harder to speak, but Hermana Gonzalez just expects me to speak, and so I do. The gift of tongues is real. Some moments, I think I will never get it, but then the next I express myself really well. It´s all coming. "Open my mouth and it shall be filled!" I really love how animated the Spanish is here. People sound like Italians the way they accentuate their words and all the animation in the sounds. It´s really great!
We are finding lots of great new investigators. The area is interesting, because like I said, there are no houses to knock doors and the apartments are all locked inside, so you can ring a bell and talk to them over the intercom, but that is not usually effective... so, we either have to have set appointments, have a member introduce us to their friends, or street contact. We have some really great investigators and I love them all. It´s crazy how full of love your heart can be as a missionary! We are regularly teaching Rudesinda, Sandra, Agosto, Isabel, Dandy, Javier, and Helda, and have had a couple lessons with Monica, Marisol, Julio and Carmen, and Jimmy. We find more every day, so that´s always great!
Missionary work is such a blessing! I love being a part of this. Speaking of how much I love this, I figure that I might as well let you all know this now... President Gulbrandsen always has Sisters stay for the later transfer (remember how Sisters don´t hit 18 months even on a transfer) which means that I will get to be here until the end of January 2013! I feel really good about this and it feels right. And you won´t have to worry about signing me up for school since I will miss the semester! I won´t have to worry about rushing home and starting right up. I can just focus on my mission and then come home and get a job and stuff. I know that you were all hoping for before Christmas, but know that I love you TONS and am so happy that we are an eternal family. We will have many Christmases together, and in my time here, I will be able to help OTHER families have that same eternal blessing.

I love you all so much and pray for you daily! Thank you for your prays and support. I really could not do this without you. I hope that all is well and that you are all doing well! 
Hermana Shelley  

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


¡Hola de Argentina!
I am 99% sure that this was an awesome week. I can only be 99% sure because I only understood about half of what happened... I am not even sure that they taught me Spanish in the MTC and definitely not Castellano (still Spanish, but Argentines will not say so... it´s pretty much the same though. Just a different accent). So ya... Spanish is a work in progress, but every day is a bit better. I understand concepts and ideas, but then I get really behind in conversations and so I don´t participate all that much. I am getting better. It´s hard for me because I love to talk and I love to be with these people... they are seriously amazing... but I am struggling to express myself. But it´s ok. I am working hard and praying harder and I have faith in the gift of tongues.
The plane ride here was forever long... not the worst I have had, but long. We had 4 hours to Atlanta and then 10 to BA. There, President and Sister Gulbrandsen met us and we went and picked up the natives from the CCM (MTC here in BA) and then headed off to the mission home. We had interviews with President, an info meeting, and then lunch. We had empanadas and they were soooo good (more on the food later). Then, we watched a video about helping native companions learn English and it was time to meet our trainers. They all came in singing "called to serve" and President went through and told us the companionships one by one. So remember the Hermana that I blog-stocked??? Ya... totally my trainer!!! haha. Her name is Hermana Gonzalez and I love her already. She is a great missionary and a really good example to me. (again, more on her later). We had a training about how everything we do is to invite people to come unto Christ. It was really good. President Gulbrandsen is super in tune with the Spirit and it was a powerful meeting. Then we were off to our area to get to work.
Our area is Congreso, which is in the middle of Capitol. It´s CRAZY... so here is the whole deal... it used to be an Elder area and we are doing what is called "white washing," where BOTH missionaries leave and 2 new missionaries come in. It´s pretty much like reopening the area. And it´s hard. Very hard. We got here and the first thing we did was look through the Area book to find that we only had 1 investigator. BUMMER. So we made a plan. We needed to get to know the ward council and get a LOAD of references and then go visit past investigators to see how we could get them to come back. The first night, we went to visit the Bishop, Obispo Valle, and his family. The Obispo is so wonderful! They have an amazing ward mission plan that just needs some life in it. His family is so awesome. Even though I didn´t understand much, I felt the Spirit very strongly in the home and that´s when I knew that I would be alright. His children are amazing and they are both helping me with my Spanish. sweet! The next few days were all about trying to figure things out and getting the work moving. We visited the ward council members and some other active members and got to know them and contacted their references, which is great. The ward has never had Hermanas before (this has always been an Elder area) and you would think it was Christmas when they found out! haha. And of course, news travels fast in the Church, and lots of people found out and sought us out. It´s really fun to be a Hermana! We also visited past investigators and taught them. We now have 6 investigators, which is definitely still a work in progress, but a step up. The area is pretty big and very diverse. It is 8 blocks by 30 blocks, which probably doesn´t sound big, but the blocks are really big here and trust me, it´s huge. We have not even made it all the way out the the end of our area. Like I said, it´s super diverse. Our area includes the pink house (like our white house) and other government buildings, which is in a really wealthy AND touristy area, sky scrapers and NY style life across the river, and the rest is very humble, relatively poor. It´s so humbling to see their living conditions. Most people live in apartments where you ring the bell on a door that is squashed between 2 buildings and then you walk down this sort-of hallway/alley and then all the way behind these businesses are these tiny apartments, usually only 1 room for EVERYTHING. Bed, table, etc. Still, every place we go, they offer us something to eat or drink, etc. They are so kind. They live in humble circumstances, but they are happy. Very, very happy. It´s not an area where we can really knock doors, because you have to push a buzzer for the one room out of 10 plus and then you get to enter if you know them... some places we can just pick a bell, but others, no. We need lots of referrals and appointments for sure.
So some funny Spanish things... pretty much all I´m good for on the street is to say "hola, buen díahola, buen día" like always, and the member looked at me like I was crazy. The other lady left and we went in the building to the member´s house. We had a good lesson with her and a friend (both less active), contacted and investigator, and left. Well, we got outside and Hna Gonzalez told me that the lady I had said hello to had been threatening the Elders that came before us and the reason that the member had pulled out her phone was just in case she had to call the police! haha. Oh boy... I guess I should try to figure out what is going on. It wasn´t dangerous (don´t worry Mom) just funny!
Another funny thing. After 2 days here, I decided that I needed to at least pretend that I knew what was going on, so that I wouldn´t come across as unfriendly. So Hna Gonzalez helped me with some key phrases that I could say after she said a certain key phrase. So we decided to try it. Well, it went really well and people started looking at me more, rather than just talking to Hna Gonzalez and me being a tag a long. Well, the problem is that when people think you understand, they start asking you questions... ooops. That was interesting... I have to listen really actively, pray that I DO have the right idea, and then TRY to answer. Usually I am right or close enough to right that my response makes sense... but sometimes not. Like the time that a Sister asked what my parent´s callings were and I told her that you met in Utah at school. oops. Please pray for my Spanish.
One day, we were teaching a man outside of his retirement home and it was going pretty well. I got up enough courage to teach a principle (I don´t even remember what) and in the middle he asked me if I knew anyone in the Mafia because the Mafia is really big in America....... ¿Cómo? haha. Good times. He actually ended up taking a Book of Mormon and when we happened to pass by again, he was out reading it! Cool... I shouldn´t have judged Mafia Man.
A great lesson this week was with Isabel. She was a referral from our ward mission leader and so we went to visit. She had already been reading the Book of Mormon and was even telling other people about it! She accepted a baptismal date and we have another appointment with her on Wednesday. The work is beginning. Even though it´s hard to start both in a new area where we don´t know anything and were we don´t really have investigators, we have a lot of faith in the Lord and we just EXPECT miracles, because we know that God is a God of miracles. We have a TON of work to do. Pray for us.
I love Hna Gonzalez. We get along great and she works really hard. I even confessed that I had rad her blog pre mish and it was all super funny. She´s from Utah and is pretty much just super awesome.
I LOVE our barrio (ward). They are such wonderful people. I especially love the children. The Obispo´s family is especially amazing. Their daughter, Saríah told us that she studies the scriptures every day because she doesn´t want a weak spirit, and then their son, Fabricio started quoting scripture to us and told us all of the story of Nefi going to get the plates and building a boat... he´s 7! Wow... what an example to us! Back to the barrio... church this week was great. It was fast and testimony meeting because last week was the primary program so they switched it. Well, the counselor in the bishopric stands and bears his and then says how excited they all are to have Hermanas serving in the ward and would like to invite us up first to bear our testimonies before others came up! I was nervous, but it actually went pretty well. Later in the meeting, a Sister said that when she met me on Wednesday, she didn´t think I understood a thing (which is mostly true) and that now, I was more confident and she could see that I was receiving the gift of tongues. Tender mercies. Then we went to the gospel principles class with our investigators. One of the bishopric members always teaches so that they can get to know the investigators and Obispo Valle taught this week and it was awesome. Our investigators seemed to really enjoy it. Then relief society was... interesting. The sisters are AMAZING and I feel like I have a bunch of Argentine Moms looking out for me. The teacher was our oldest sister, and bless her heart, she had some interesting ideas about death and life after death... let it suffice to say that there were lots of tears, and not the happy kind. At one point, I leaned over to Hna Gonzalez and asked if I was understanding correctly that we were talking about Satan´s spirits being able to enter our bodies if we weren´t careful... all she could say was "yep." haha. We laughed later. Then there was one part that the dear sister said something along the lines of "and we´re so glad to have Sister missionaries. And if they died right now, they would just keep doing their missionary work." Cool.
So a big problem here is that people aren´t married and just living together. 3 of our 6 investigators need to get married before they can be baptized. It´s not difficult, but people get comfortable and don´t want to do the paperwork. We have to have some miracles. Especially because one dear sister has a "husband" who doesn´t want to be officially married. That´s hard. We pray and work and pray and work.
The food here is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO good!!! They only thing that is keeping me from weighing 300 pounds is that we walk EVERYWHERE, which is great! I love empanadas and alfajors (probably didn´t spell that right), and EVERYTHING. It´s all very good. we have breakfast at the apartment, a big almuerzo with members around 1 and then we just have a piece of fruit or something at the apartment when we get back around 9. Something that I have to get used to is that they put Mayo on everything... and you know how I feel about mayo. I am getting used to it. Also something to get used to is how much Pop they drink... I just get a half glass and then drink it slowly so that I don´t offend but don´t have so much sugar. If you finish it, they fill you right back up and like every house offers us soda.
Sounds like the changes in the Stakes will be good. Thanks for the update. It is so weird that Harmony ward isn´t in our stake... one street over and a new stake. Crazy.

Friends who read the blog- Anyone can email me, so feel free BUT I cannot respond through email, so include your mailing address and I will write when I can (we don´t have a load of time, but I still love you all and appreciate the mail).

I love you all SOOOOO much ! Thank you for your love and support. It really is so wonderful. I feel your prayers and we definitely need them. This is the Lord´s work and I see His hand in it every day.
Love you,
Hermana Shelley

Saturday, September 3, 2011

On The Way To Argentina

Ok... first, some business about Monday. I have to be to the travel office at 10 AM... we are SO glad it's not at some crazy hour of the morning. My flight leaves at 1:50 for Georgia, so I will call some time before that. I am thinking that it will be between 12 and 12:30 Utah time when I get through security and can call. I don't know for sure, but be ready!!! I think that's like 11 AZ time, yes? Please send me a dearelder today so that I know you are planning on it... Sometimes they don't go through the same day, so if you send it today I will at least get it tomorrow, I hope. THANKS!!!!! So ya... plane leaves here at 1:50, arrives in Atlanta at 7:40, leaves there at 8:50, and we get to Buenos Aires at 8 the next morning!!! LOCO!!!! We are excited though. Pray for me to have a chance to talk about the gospel on the plane.
I had the most amazing week! It was crazy busy, but I am glad because it's easier to remain diligent when you are busy.

Big news of the week..................... ELDER HOLLAND!!!!!! Yes, that's right! Elder Holland was our devotional speaker this Tuesday and it was AMAZING! I can't even begin to tell you all the things that he said, but I want to tell you the things that I felt. I am here on a mission and it is exactly where I am supposed to be. It is an AMAZING opportunity and I cannot let one moment go to waste for it is the Lord's time. Heavenly Father loves me so much. The Brethren love and pray for us often. One thing that he said was so cool. He said that the missionaries are the second most prayed for people after President Monson. How cool is that??? His whole intro was about how every other dispensation ended in apostasy and that those prophets knew that their people would eventually fall away, but that they kept doing their work because they knew that OUR day would come. They saw us and they had hope and faith in Christ. That all things would be restored and that OUR dispensation would find success. Wow. What a responsibility we have to share the gospel. All dispensations have pointed to this one and now we can't let them down. When Elder Holland walked into the room, there was a literal difference that I could tangibly feel. So very amazing. I know that he is the Lord's chosen Apostle on the earth today.
Fernando and Edmundo both had their baptisms this week and they were AMAZING! I know that they weren't real, but it was such a good experience to plan the whole service, give a talk, and just really show love for people. The Spirit was truly strong in each of the meetings, because though the service wasn't real, the talks and musical number, and testimonies were and it was just so neat. You know me, we went all out and had programs, prelude music, cookies, the whole shabang. We even invited another district to bring their "investigators" which made it even more awesome. I will write more about that in the letter as well... so much this week!

Hermana Hill and I were chosen to go the the new missionaries meeting this week to do a teaching demonstration. We were really nervous to teach in front of 250 new missionaries, but it ended up going well. We prayed and prayed and then just went in and relied on the Spirit and it went well. The "investigator" wasn't all that open, but she started to open up and we were able to pass it off to the new missionaries in a good discussion point. Scary, but a good opportunity. Hard to teach in English, surprisingly... I think that means that the Spanish is getting better! haha. I saw Elder Lewis there!!! SO fun!
This Sunday, I was called up to give my Spanish talk in Sacrament meeting! I didn't think I would be since I was playing for our district's musical number (which was so neat, btw) and since Bro Sanchez was being released from the Branch Presidency and asked me to sing as a part of his talk. None the less, I was called up. It actually went well and I could say the things that I had planned, and even was able to get away from my notes a bit. Miracles!
This week, we had ANOTHER fire alarm! True story, promise!!! We were in a TALL lab finishing a training thing at 9:40 when it happened. Darn! We went out and didn't get to come back in till 10:20... needless to say, we didn't make the 10:15 quite time or 10:30 lights out. The culprit??? A Sister from China forgot piece of toast that had gotten stuck in the toaster! haha. Ya. Good times at the MTC.
This week, to be totally honest, I have been really nervous about leaving. Here at the MTC, it's like a form of my old life: the gospel plus school... but now I am getting ready to head out to Argentina and live in a new country when I don't totally speak the language, I don't know what to expect, I will have a new companion, etc. So yes, I have been nervous. Well, one day during personal study time, I came across one of my favorite passages in Mosiah. Chapter 27, verse 26 talks about the sons of MosiahMosiah is really nervous to let the go up the the Lamanites (I'm sure they were more scary than the people of Argentina...) Well, he prays to Heavenly Father, and the Lord says in verse 7 "Let them go up, for many shall believe on their words, and they shall have eternal life." Wow! I am going to be an instrument in God's hands to bring salvation to His children. "LET ME GO UP!!!" And then it talks about how the Lord will protect them and that just made me have so much more peace. I am here because I love the gospel and my Savior and I want all people to know of the truths that I know. I will be ok. I just have to forget myself and go to work. I have nothing to fear.

Well, there is much more to tell, but I am out of time. I am sending home letters and pictures this week, so I will write more there. Thank you all for your love and support. I am excited to talk to you all on Monday. Oh, and yes, Spanish is coming along well. Thank you for the prayers!
OH! I almost forgot, I saw Brother LeSuer and Blake in the Temple this morning. That was really cool. haha.
I know that this work is so important. I know that the Church is true and Jesus is our Savior. I know Heavenly Father loves us so much!

Hermana Shelley