Hola mi familia!
What a week! We had Stake Conference this week! Also the Church celebrated 50 years this week in Bolivia! It was on Thursday, and all the missionaries went to the central park here and we sang Abide With Me Tis Even Tide. It was really cool! We also talked with everyone in the park, and we were on TV! Well, the local TV station here in Tarija. :) And then that night they had like an awards ceremony and the Stake President received a plaque and cool things like that. It was really nice! And then Friday we had a conference of just the missionaries with President and Sister Willard. And then Saturday was Stake Conference in the night time, and Sunday in the morning. Lots of meetings, and really spiritually fed! At the conference with the missionaries, Hermana Willard talked about a tree here called the Toberochi tree. And this tree, it's name means refuge, or safety. And we talked about what our refuge is in our lives, and how it is the Savior. We also were looking at the photo of Christ when He was atoning for our sins, and He is leaning up agaist a tree that looks like a Toberochi. The trees for us, take in all the bad and then put out the good so that we can breathe. They give us life. Jesus Christ did the same when He atoned for our sins. He took in all the bad, so that we can experience the good. He gives us life. So in this photo when He is atoning for our sins, and He is leaning upon this tree, it kind of gives it a whole different meaning. Christ is our support, our refuge, our safety.
I was also reading a talk by President Henry B. Eyring called "A Priceless Heritage of Hope." And he talks about how we are making choices not just for ourselves, but choices that will affect generations and generations. We cannot force people to accept our message, but we can teach them and then pray they will choose the right. "Heavenly Father and the Savior are our perfect examples of what we can and must do. They never force righteousness because righteousness must be chosen. They make righteousness discernible to us, and They let us see that its fruits are delicious." He talked about faithful parents who faithfully teach their children the gospel, and for whatever reason they reject it or rebel against it. And how that is all a part of our free agency to choose righteousness. "When they are older, they will remember the hymns they sang with you. Even more than recalling music, they will remember the words of scripture and testimony. The Holy Ghost can bring all things to their remembrance, but the words of scriptures and hymns will last the longest. These memories will exert a pull that may bring them back when they wander for a time, possibly for years, from the pathway home to eternal life." We plant seeds, and then these children of God have the chance to choose. I was also studying about Adam and Eve today and I always have the question why God commanded them not to eat of the tree, but then kind of wanted them to really because He told them to multiply and replenish the earth! Always felt confused by that. But then today I was studying and I read a scripture in 2 Nephi 2:15 where it talks about how there is opposition in all things. God had to put the tree in the Garden because without the tree they didn't have the chance to use their free agency. They would have been stuck. And a lot of times God gives us a chance to choose something good for something better. I was trying to think of examples and I thought about when Nephi was commanded to kill Laban when the commandments clearly say "Thou shalt not kill." But he chose to obey God when He said that he needed to kill Laban. He was choosing something good for something better. He was saving souls. Just like Adam and Eve saved souls when they chose to eat the fruit because now we have our bodies and we now have the chance to use our free agency here on earth. Maybe it was an obvious answer, but it finally made sense in my head today. :)
Our investigators are really good. Nelson's baptism is this Saturday, and the adversary is on the move as always. Nelson is feeling a little apprehensive about his baptism because of his long hair. He knows the church is true, so I just pray that he makes a good choice. There's that free agency again.... We have also been teaching someone named Yorka who is so spiritually prepared to receive the gospel it's ridiculous. She prays about everything we teach her, and she knows that the church is true, that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and that the Word of Wisdom is a commandment from God. She's so awesome. We asked her the other day about how she was with the Word of Wisdom and she was like, "Oh hermanas, I was in the street the other day and someone was trying to sell me coffee and I shared with them all the reasons why they shouldn't be drinking that!" Haha I love her. And her son Henry, who's five, is awesome too. He is the sweetest little guy. Anytime we are at his house he always always always brings us something. Glass of water, or says, "Mom, I need to run to the store to buy the Hermanas something." And he'll run to the store across the street and either buy juice in a bag or suckerrs or gum. Haha he's awesome. And Yorka and Henry came to all the activities that I mentioned we had this week! And Henry when he was watching the choir he thought the lady leading was mute because she was waving her hands around and not singing. Hahaha. And he tells his mom, "I need candy because my blood pressure is low..." Such a cute little guy! Another miracle we had was when we were leaving our appointment with Yorka, we were going to go to a members house to pick up some papers we needed but we felt like we wouldn't have enough time before our Ward Council. So we decided to go to the church, and right as we were walking up a lady walked up and said that she needed to talk to someone. It was perfect because there wouldn't have been anyone else to talk to if we hadn't arrived! So we went in and started talking and she's having a lot of family problems. At the end of the lessons it occurred to me that she probably doesn't live in our area but we would pass along the referral anyway. When we asked, it turns out that she does live in our area! I feel like all week we've just been blessed with miracles like this. All week God has been putting people in our path and it has been amazing. Amazing to be a part of it. Amazing to watch all these miracles right in front of me! I loved this week. It wasn't easy, but it was worth it, and it was beautiful. We are being greatly blessed.
To answer some of your questions... I won't be cutting my hair too short! They are having the drive in the next couple of weeks. It'll just be to where it was when I left for the mission. And hopefully Nelson will donate his hair too. :) We went shopping last week, but I didn't end up buying anything! No good deals, no good deals. But a member here donated a bunch of skirts and dresses to the mission and I had some of the dresses made into skirts, and I got those back today! So that's fun! And I can't believe that Emily is home already! Time is going by so fast. I completed 13 months in the mission yesterday, and I was thinking about my time in the MTC, and I just cannot believe how fast this time is going. I love being a missionary. I love giving these people the opportunity to choose to accept this wonderful, beautiful gospel. Every blessing I have received in my life is because I am a member of this amazing Church. I am so grateful that families can be eternal, and for the work of salvation that we do here on earth, in the mission field and in the temple. Thank you family for being awesome. Keep sharing this wonderful gospel with all that you can! Plant seeds. Love you!
Love you a million billion Reese's Pieces,
"Make me more worthy of thy love, and more fit for the life above."