Monday, December 29, 2014

Bolivia, Montero—Week 12

Dearest Family and Friends,

I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas and that this week you can celebrate the New Year with your family and friends. Remember that it is a new year to learn, grow, and become more like Christ.

Just a few conference talks I read this week that I want to share with you all (this is the only Christmas gift we sent to Amanda, besides candy and things for the kids, so she’s putting it to good use!).
Parents: The Prime Gospel Teachers of Their Children by Tad R. Callister: 
“Which parent in Book of Mormon times would have let their sons march out to the front of battle without a breastplate and shield and sword to protect them against the potentially mortal blows of the enemy? But how many of us let our children march out the front door each morning to the most dangerous of all battlefields, to face Satan and his myriad of temptations, without their spiritual breastplate and shield and sword that come from the protective power of prayer? The Lord said, 

“Pray always, . . . that you may conquer Satan” (D&C 10:5). As parents, we can help instill within our children the habit and power of morning prayer.”

“God never gives us a responsibility without offering divine aid”

Approaching the Throne of God with Confidence by Jorg Klebingat
1.  Take responsibility for your own spiritual well-being
2.  Take responsibility for your own physical well-being
3.  Embrace voluntary, wholehearted obedience as part of your life
4.  Become really, really good at repenting thoroughly and quickly
5.  Become really, really good at forgiving
6.  Accept trials, setbacks, and “surprises” as part of your mortal experience

“Yours is the privilege, if you want it, to come to know for yourself, today or soon, that you are pleasing God in spite of your shortcomings. I testify of a loving Savior who expects us to live the commandments. I testify of a loving Savior who is so very anxious to bestow His grace and mercy. I testify of a loving Savior who rejoices when we apply His Atonement daily with the calm and happy assurance that we are facing in the right direction. I testify of a loving Savior who is anxious for your “confidence [to] wax strong in the presence of God” (D&C 121:45).

Love you all!

Have a great week,

XOXO Hermana Nelson
Hermana Gomez
Journal Pages
Christmas Dinner at Puerto Madero
Today we didn’t get to do much because we had to go to the chapel to meet all the Elders to go to Santa Cruz. We got in the micro (bus) and got to Santa Cruz at about 6:00 p.m. Our zone sang our Christmas Hymn and we all began to eat. President and Hermana Zambrano had a gold box on every seat at the table waiting for us to open. Then President read us a devotional from President Monson about a  little girl and her dad on Christmas. The story took place during the Great Depression. The girl was 3 years old and she used a sheet of expensive gold wrapping paper to wrap a box. Her dad was mad that she had wasted the expensive paper, but on Christmas, she gave him the gift. When he opened it, he noticed that it was empty and he reprimanded her, telling her that when you give a gift, you have to put something in the box. The little girl told her dad that she had put kisses in the box and her dad began to cry. 
President Monson said that we all have a gold box full of love from our Savior, family, friends, and loved ones. It is full of love that we can take out when we need it, but we also need to give this love to receive it. When we went home, I realized that I had probably seen a lot of those people for the last time. Crazy.

Christmas Eve
We went looking for people to teach, but almost nobody wanted to talk to us. We did a lot of walking and passing out cards. 
Then we asked President if we could have permission to buy gifts for the “D” family and he said “Yes!” (The missionaries aren’t allowed to give gifts because it makes it hard for future missionaries, but this family was in such dire need that they got permission to get a few things for them. Technology makes things so easy! Amanda called on Christmas Eve to set a time for our Christmas call and asked if we could put some more money in her account and we were able to transfer it into her account before we were even off the phone!)

We bought a laundry basket and filled it with rice, noodles, diapers, toilet paper, drink mixes, toothpaste, soap, detergent, powdered milk, oil, fruit cake, chicken, cookies, belt, wallet, tie, skirt, shirt, headbands, a toy truck, and a doll. Then we went to eat our Christmas Eve dinner and it was great because I didn’t eat rice! Then we went home to wrap the gifts and watch fireworks.
Christmas in Bolivia
We went early to drop off the gift for the “D” family and then to our zone meeting. We gave a class and then we had a gift exchange and too pictures and such. We walked a lot trying to find people to teach, but no success, so we went at 5:00 to talk on Skype with the fam! We borrowed the computer of “Y” and first Hermana Gomez called her family, then me. The family is good. Super “trunky,” but good!

500 Days of Summer (Day 500 of my mission and it’s super hot all the time)
We went to visit an investigator today, but he was sleeping, so we offered to help his wife make “patasca” (a popular soup here made of corn and boiled pig’s head). I used to think it sounded good, but after watching her put in literally every part of the pig’s head, including the nose, tongue, and eyeballs, I decided that I never wanted to try it. But it gave us an opportunity to teach her a lot of the Plan of Salvation. She told us that she had her first daughter when she was 14 years old, then met her husband at a disco and got married when she was 17 (he was 23). She had a lot of questions about life after death.

Our investigators didn’t come, but tons of members came. Hermana “D” even came in her new skirt we gave her for Christmas (she used to only have jeans). She’s great—she hasn’t missed a Sunday since I got here.

Some things I love about Bolivia:
1.  Fireworks are allowed and used all year long, but even more on Christmas and New Years
2.  Almost everyone knows each other—they stay in the same house for years, then their kids and their families live there
3.  The “mercado” (market) is always open and if you know where you’re going, you can find pretty much anything. If you don’t, then it’s almos worse than IKEA. The great thing is that you can barter with them and sometimes get a deal.

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