WOW! I am literally at the end of the Earth! And it´s cold... haha. But AMAZING! I can´t even begin to express my gratitude to the Lord for how wonderful the work is here and how amazing it is to be in Ushuaia... it´s pretty much fabulous. I will share more details later on, but in this beginning part, I will say this... they baptize almost every week and when they baptize, it´s often FAMILIES!!! Wow... No, we didn´t have any baptisms this week. We were supposed to have 2, but neither of them happened, even though we worked hard. That´s ok... I have learned more about agency in my mission than I have ever understood before. It was hard, but I felt a true peace, I think because I really did feel that I would see them enter the waters of baptism... and that is what matters, that they are baptized... not when. These are Heavenly Father´s children and we just have to invite ALL of them to be baptized.
Ok... so Ushaia! Leaving Congreso was difficult with so many people that I love and so many impending baptisms, and I did shed quite a few tears. I didn´t know that I could love people so much in only 5 weeks! The most difficult part was Tuesday morning when Saríah, my dear dear friend, the 10 year old daughter of the Bishop, called bawling saying that she didn´t even get to say goodbye, but she wanted me to know that she loved me and would remember me and write to me and that she was going to prepare now to be a missionary! Wow. She´s great!
So I got to the airport and started talking to the people there. I knew that I was in for a weather shock when I saw that EVERYONE had jackets just like mine... I figured that other, normal people would not have trouble since we are supposedly in the middle of spring going in to summer... but when I saw that everyone had big jackets, I knew that I would be forever grateful for mine! The plane was an hour late, but we eventually got going. The man next to me slept for the first hour or so, so I studied and wrote in my journal. He woke up when the brought the bread around and so we started talking. He was super receptive, but then after we had talked for about an hour... him doing most of the talking and me just answering questions and responding to his thoughts on the church, he told me that he could definitely accept it all if he wasn´t so into science. Bummer. But I gave him the opportunity to learn more, so we have a seed planted.
I landed and got my bags and headed out to find the missionaries. My companions, Hermana Malhue (Mall-Way) and González (number 2) were waiting for me with the zone leaders. My companions are both from Chile and wonderful. I have realized that I know much more Spanish than I was giving myself credit for because we aren´t silent all the time, and for the most part, I understand... I don´t understand a lot of "every day talk" but they are helping me... not having the opportunity to speak English really helps you learn! Hermana González is leaving tomorrow. She is going to be a sort of assistant to the Pres (don´t know what to call it... only Elders are assistants, but she is not going to have a set area, but go where President needs her to teach and build up the Sisters. Cool). She is super great and so close to the Spirit. Hermana Malhue also has 3 months in the mish, but since she is a native, has one more transfer more than I do in the field. She is AMAZING and we are so excited to learn and grow together. I knew from the first moment that we would work very hard when we taught our taxi driver the first lesson and committed him to baptism!!!!! Wow. It was a really powerful lesson too!
So we seriously talk with EVERYONE!!! I love it. The people here are so open and willing to listen and accept the gospel. It´s sort of like a ski town meets Manti UT meets San Francisco hills (My legs are going to be tree trunks walking up these streets! ha!). It´s a very small town and then up the mountain are the Barrios (neighborhoods) and that is were most of the people live in..... HOUSES!!! Wow! I haven´t seen a house in ages! haha. But yes, the Barrios are houses but super disorganized... from what I can understand, whenever someone builds a new house (basically plywood and plastic) it gets the next number, so house 30 could be 100 yards from house 31 with a bunch in between! Ha. My first full day, we worked in the barrios all day and set TWELVE baptismal dates! Wow! The people are so open and friendly and PREPARED for the Gospel! Of course, they all have to keep their commitments, come to church, and live according to the standards, but we have a lot of faith and will continue to teach them all that they need to know. After a week of SUPER hard work, we have THIRTY baptismal dates for the next month and a half! WOW! I am so grateful to the Lord for providing these miracles!
WOW!!! I can´t even put into words how wonderful the work is going! I have seen so many miracles and I feel so blessed to be here in UshuaiaHermana Malhue here with me. She is full of love and a desire to serve! We are going to have much success because of who she is and her desire to follow the Lord. I also know that Hermana Gonzalez is going to do amazing things for the Sisters. She is a diligent worker and lives so very close to the Spirit. She is wonderful.
Like I said, we have seen so many miracles.I love that we extend the invitation to be baptized to everyone, even if it is a street lesson! We are living by faith and opening our mouths, talking to everyone, and letting the Spirit be the teacher. We have to give them the invitation to be baptized, because if not, we are not really inviting them to come unto Christ, because you can´t fully invite someone to come unto Christ without Baptism.
We also had 10 investigators in church, 2 of which we found as we were helping investigators get to church that morning. One, Sergio, said that he has been searching for truth and felt that God had sent him angels. Wow. That was a very humbling moment. He came to church, and excitedly accepted a baptismal date. He had tears in his eyes as he talked with Hermana Malhue and I at the end of the meetings and said how grateful he was that The Lord had sent us to him... The coolest part??? We were looking for an investigator to help him get to church and we accidentally knocked on the wrong door, where we found Sergio! WOW. The Lord´s hand is truly in the work. The other of the 2 that we found that morning was Milagros (translation...MIRACLES!!! How cool is that???) who is the sister of an investigator who came to church and said that she felt so much love and wanted to be baptized! Wow... a 13 year old girl. Amazing.
The branch here is AMAZING! The Branch Pres is a convert of 2 years and so wonderful. He helps us so much and every Sunday, we have a 5 minute meeting where he give assignments to the members of Branch council to help the investigators progress... like President Hinckley taught, he is making sure that ALL the converts AND investigators have a friend, an assignment, and the nourishment of the good word of God. The members are amazing and we seriously have someone with us every day in the lessons and their testimonies make all the difference.
Our studies are going well. It is amazing to see how what we study is exactly what we will use. One day, we were studying how the gospel blesses families and practiced the baptismal commitment. We all felt strongly that we were going to find families and men that day, so we prayed with extra fervancy to do so, and we found three married families, one with five children! And... they all excepted baptismal dates! One of the families was in church yesterday, and we are going to go visit the others today to see what happened. Hermana Gonzalez says that the people in the barrios are the most receptive, but need a lot of love and help to get to church. We will work hard though.
The boots I bought in Congreso are the best purchases that I have made in my entire life! haha. In the barrios, the snow is starting to melt and so everything is mud. I am grateful every day for my boots. Plus, they are super warm. My feet have never been cold, and because I have the best jacket EVER I have only been cold once, the day that it was sleeting (is that a word??? Not rain but not snow... you get what I´m saying). I wear 2 pairs of tights, one fleece and one regular, wool socks, my boots, 2 skirts, my blouse and my amazing insulated coat, and my awesome ear bands (THANKS MOM!!!) So I stay warm! Gas here is super cheep, so the houses are always way warm... sometimes TOO warm! It´s like going from 35 degrees into 80 in a second. HOO! It makes it feel colder when we leave. Today is really nice... probably like 60. It´s funny because some days it´s freezing and others it´s warm. Weird. It´s really beautiful here. We go running every morning (LOVE IT) along the coast. Kadon, you would love all the big boats and ships. I will take pictures today and send them next week. It´s amazing to see the snow on the mountains and the ocean and everything. Wow.
So... I had heard that I would eat sea food here since we are on the coast, and I was excited. One of the sisters asked me if I liked something... I didn´t know the word, so I said "No se que es, pero me encanta todo..." (basicallly, I don´t know what it is, but I love everything) and so she brought it out... you will never guess what I ate..... ready?????????????????????????? OCTOPUS!!!! Yep, you read that correctly. OCTOPUS!!! Woah! Luckily, it was in a dish with other stuff like clam and fish and I only had one tentacle. Haha. It didn´t taste terrible, but was super chewing and a really weird texture. Oh the adventure. haha
I am doing great and loving every moment of being a missionary. Pray for our baptisms this week. Elections are this weekend, and here with elections, everything else stops I hear... so pray for us!
Love you all more than I can tell! I am learning so much and growing every day! I really do feel like I am a different person already, and I still have so much time to become better. I love my comp and she and I are going to learn and grow a lot together here as we LITERALLY take the gospel to the END of the EARTH!!!
With all my love and prayers,