Tuesday, January 26, 2016

January 25, 2016 - The Best Year and a Half

Hola familia y amigos, 

So this is it. the end has come. This is my last email as a missionary. 

Wow I can't believe this day is already here. I feel like its not actually happening, that I'm dreaming... 

Well this week was pretty normal. I won't spend too much time on details because I'm going to be seeing you all soon... 

On Wednesday we had a world wide missionary training conference and we got to watch it through satellite transmission. we got to listen to Elders Anderson, Bednar and Oaks, and it was awesome. I felt really animated to work and then it was like "wait, I go home in a week" but we still worked hard. 

Friday I had my last interview with Presidente Obeso. It was a really special experience. So much has changed since our first interview when I didn't know what was going on and he had to speak to me in broken English haha. We talked a lot about what I've learned in my mission and what I will continue to learn after. I was relieved that he didn't tell me I have to get married within 6 months haha. 

On Friday the branch threw we a farewell party along with a family home evening. It was really sweet. They made cupcakes and printed out signs of my nametag to put on all the walls. I shared my testimony with them and cried. The members here in San Pablo are like my family. 

Sunday I gave my last talk in church. I also had to teach the Sunday School class so the branch was tired of listening to me haha. I`ve already started saying goodbye to people and packing suitcases... 

Presidente Obeso told me that when a missionary goes home, its normal to have three feelings 1. excitement 2. sadness 3. fear. I'm excited to see my family and friends. I'm sad that I have to leave Chile, leave the people I love and stop being a missionary. And I'm afraid  and nervous of what the future holds and what it will all be like when I get home. 

Well, I would like to end with my last testimony: 

I remember what I came into the mission, I thought a year and half would last an eternity. But it has gone by in the blink of an eye and it has surely been the best 18 months of my life. It hasn't been easy.  I have passed through pain, suffering, sadness, but it was all worth it. Because now when I look back all I remember are the wonderful moments. 

someone very dear to me once said that the mission is like a beautiful field of white roses. from a distance it all seems spectacular but as you start to work your way through the field the thorns start to prick and you bleed and it hurts and you start to think that you don't want to do this anymore. but you keep going. and in the end when you make it through the field you look back at all the beautiful roses and you realize that it all seems even more wonderful now and it was worth every painful step. 

It has been a complete honor and privilege to serve my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for the past 18 months. I wish I could do it for the rest of my life. I wish I could have more time, but it must come to an end. Heavenly Father has other plans in store for me. More people to serve, to love, and to help. More blessings to discover and more lessons to learn. The end of the mission and the removal of my nametag do not mean that I stop being a servant of the Lord. I will serve Him for the rest of my life until the day I die and then for the rest of eternity. 

As a representative of Jesus Christ I testify that He lives. He is the Son of God. He is our savior and redeemer. He suffered and died for every single one of us. His sacrifice, His atonement is powerful, it can clean and purify us. He is the only way we can return back to the presence of our Heavenly Father. He is my example, my friend, my teacher. He is my Master. I serve HIm. I have not been a perfect servant, but I know He loves me. 

I testify that God and Jesus Christ have restored their church on the earth. That Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and today we have a living prophet, Thomas S.  Monson to lead and guide us. He holds the priesthood keys and power to direct the work of the Lord here on the earth. 

I testify that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I know it is true. That book has changed my life. Every chapter, every verse testifies of Christ and of God`s plan for all His Children. 

I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the church of God and of the living Christ. 

I will never forget these days. I will never forget the blessings, lessons, trials, and miracles that I have seen. I  don't want it all to end. 

But the Lord calls me to a new work. I will serve Him for the rest of my life. 

I want to thank all of you for you love, support, letters, and encouragement. I love you all. see you soon. 

love, Hermana Williams 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

January 18, 2016 - One Week Left

Hola familia y amigos, 

This week was very busy and time is going by very fast. 

On Monday we finished up our pday making tacos with our side kick Aldo and his family. Delicious. there isn't much Mexican food here in Chile. 

We left to work in the afternoon and we walked around and knocked doors and visited people who were home. I was tired and feeling a bit frustrated but we kept going.The last door we knocked before we had to walk home was an old contact that Hna Pinto and I found back in October. a lady named Marisel who told us she just found out she was pregnant. We could never find her again. We knocked her door and she came out and she smelled strongly of beer. She had been drinking. She recognized me and started crying. She explained that she had been pregnant but a couple weeks ago she had a miscarriage and lost her babies, twin girls. 

She was really discouraged. crying and asking me "what do I do? I don't know what to do? Tell me what I need to do?" It broke my heart. but it was a really special moment because I was able to testify to her of Christ´s Atonement and power and that one day she will see her daughters. I told her to stop drinking and that we were going to come back and visit her tomorrow in the morning. I gave her a big hug. I don't think I've ever felt so much love for a complete stranger in my whole life. I was really glad we found her. 

We came back the next day with two sister members. We taught marisel the Plan of Salvation and helped her understand that she can see and nurture her daughters one day, but only if she completes with the commandments and necessary ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We invited her to be baptized and she accepted a baptismal date. She said she felt a kind of joyful squeezing of her heart and we explained that its the Spirit, testifying of what we taught her. It was one of those moments that reminds me why I came out into the mission- to be able to help people like Marisel. 

We were able to find lots of new investigators this week and have more lessons with members. The branch members are stepping up so we´re happy. We taught a referral from our branch president, a 19 year old kid Diego. We taught him the Restoration and he accepted a baptismal date too. In the same day we had a member who just a few months ago was less active take us to visit her friend Ingrid and we were able to teach her as well. It was a good day!

We had district meeting. Hna Villena had never tried a pichanga before. Pichanga is a Chilean food with french fries, meat, cheese, avocado, tomatoes, etc. Delicious. Our district leader brought us a pichanga! so she could try and also so it could be my last pichanga. Hna Villena didn't like the pichanga.... but it was still a good district meeting! 

We taught Coni and Aldo with a member! We taught them the Restoration. They're awesome. Aldo reminds me of my brother Phil. 

We helped a member cut her grass. Here in Chile no one has lawn mowers. They either use scissors or a weed wacker. We borrowed a weed wacker and helped her cut her grass... but in the end it turned into the member cutting grass, I raked up grass and Hna Villena played soccer with the three children of the Hermana. 

Sunday we didn't have any investigators in church. We tried our best but everything fell through. Diego was in Osorno, other investigators just couldn't make it and we couldn't find Marisel after our first lesson. But it was still a good day at church. We ate dinner with Hno Aldo and his family and I shared my last scripture with them.... sad.... that's when it really hit me that I'm going home. 

Sunday in the afternoon we knocked about 50 doors and only about 5 people opened up and all of them rejected us. We knocked one more door and a guy came out and started talking to us. He shared with elders a while ago and really didn't have any interest to progress or get baptized. We talked to him for a long time and finally Hna Villena asked him for a glass of water. He invited us inside and we were able to meet his other brother and sister and their children. We talked with them for awhile and they gave us ice cream! We kept mentioning that we wanted to share our message with them but they didn't really want us to. I thought "yeah, let's go, we're wasting time here" but something told me to stay and keep trying a little more. 
Five minutes later they said "yeah, okay, let's hear your message" Whoot! So we shared the Restoration with them. The guy who originally opened the door didn't pay much attention but his brother and sister couldn't take their eyes off of us. The spirit was suuuuuuuuper strong. You couldn't deny it. It was awesome. We set up another day to come back and teach them and the sister wants us to come visit us in her house this week! We're
 excited. 50 doors later and it was all worth it. 

Today we went on a field trip with Aldo and his sister Sandra today! They took us to a river and we took tons of pictures on an old bridge and we made a firepit on the river bank and cooked hot dogs and hamburgers. It was super fun. Perfect last outing in the mission. 

This is my last full week in the mission. Sometimes I feel like its not real and other times I just kind of want to cry... but other than that I'm doing okay! haha. I'm determined to work really hard and enjoy my last days here as a servant of the Lord. I feel like the Lord is blessing and testing me. I feel very grateful for everything He has given me. Ror the chance to serve Him. I know that He lives and loves me. 

Have a great week! 

love, Hermana Williams

January 11, 2016 - Somos Hoy Llamados al Servicio

Hola familia y amigos, 

This week went by really fast. and I'm not going to say how many weeks I have left. My companion is already counting the days.... I think she wants to get rid of me haha. 

Last week we passed through a lot of rejection and kind of a slow moment in the work here. We`ve been doing a lot of contacting but without seeing real success.  Monday and Tuesday we were a little down in the dumps. On Monday we made and ate pizza with the family of Hno Aldo, our trusty returned missionary side kick. We expressed to him how we were feeling and the next day he asked us to come over to his house for twenty minutes. 

We stopped by and he basically had a mini district meeting planned for us haha. In his mission he was a district leader for 6 sister missionaries. So he gave us encouragement and we read the scriptures and then afterwards we asked him to give us each blessings because we both felt discouraged and tired. 

We left his house super excited and ready to work and we stopped by to visit a woman we contacted a week ago. An elderly lady, we greeted her, said hi and then she started yelling at us about how we`re never going to convince her, stop pestering her in her home, she's Catholic and will never change, to stop obligating her.... let me point out that we have talked to this woman twice... we didn't even really teach her anything. and she started yelling at us. It was pretty rough. I realized that I had two choices. I could get depressed and upset or I could let it all go and keep working even harder. We said goodbye and left to go work really hard. 

On the same day we were able to find a new golden investigator named Gina who said she wants to get baptized, have two lessons with members and contact some really awesome people. We saw a lot of miracles, but only after the trial of our faith. 

This week wasn't perfect, we still had some hard days but at the same time we saw miracles. On Tuesday we helped our landlord cut her grass and I learned how to use a weed wacker for the first time. 

We had a noche de hogar with the Familia Fuentealba and with Hno. Aldo. I made them brownies. I had been promising them brownies for a long time. Chileans love brownies. 
It was adorable because their 11 year old daughter called to tell us that we should bring our swimming suits to the noche de hogar because she was going to have  her little swimming pool set up.... it broke her heart when we said that we cant go swimming. It was hilarious, she was so excited to go swimming with the sister missionaries. haha. 
Selfie with the Familia Fuentealba and Hno. Alba.

on friday we taught a couple the plan of salvation and it was really special because the woman had just had a miscarriage a couple weeks ago. i shared moms story. it really touched her and the spirit was really strong. it felt really great to be able to help them. 

On saturday our mamita taught us how to bake kuchen. I'ts a Chilean pastry that's a lot like a crumble- 

 We also saw an elderly lady carrying firewood into her house all alone. Here in Chile everyone uses wood burning stoves and there are big trucks that drop off big piles of firewood outside your house or on the sidewalk when you pay for more wood. But then you have to move all the firewood from outside and into your own house property, patio, backyard, etc. There was a woman with a huge mountain of firewood and she was entering it all alone! So we immediately helped her. She was a little scared of us Mormons because she was Catholic but we still helped her. The two of us alone threw all her firewood over her fence and into her patio. There were about ten men that passed by on the street but never offered to help. The woman also said that she was going to pay a guy to do it but he never showed up....I felt like we were really an answer to her prayers and even though she wouldn't let us share the gospel with her we still felt really good to be able to serve a daughter of God. 

Yesterday we were able to teach Nataly, a new investigator, the Plan of Salvation and we found another new investigator, Pamela. Last week on one of our hardest days we contacted Pamela and we felt something really special with her. We came back to her house yesterday and she let us in and we were able to teach her and she said that she had been thinking about us all week, she was glad we passed by. She's awesome. 

I feel that we were really blessed this week. I'm really grateful to be a missionary and to be an instrument in the hands of the Lord to be able to help His children find peace and joy in this life and the life to come. I testify that the only source of true happiness is the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Thanks for all the letters and support. have a great week! 

love, Hermana Williams

January 4, 2016- New Year Resolutions

Hola familia y amigos,

I'm going to be honest, this email will probably be short because this week was a lot of walking around and contacting people. So nothing really that exciting happened. 

Our mission changed the goal of 10 contacts everyday to 30 which means we have to talk to at least 30 strangers in the street everyday haha. It doesn't sound that hard but in San Pablo its sometimes a little difficult because there are not many people in the street, or in their homes. A lot of people work outside of San Pablo. So this week we really pushed ourselves to do the 30 contacts everyday. We ended up spending lots of hours just walking around and talking to people. 

On Tuesday we had intercambios. I stayed here in San Pablo with the hermana lider Hermana Segura who is actually from Utah. She´s gringa but her dad is Colombian! I love Colombians haha. It was a good day and it was fun to be able to speak English with someone for a little bit haha. 

The elderly lady that was on her death bed, Hna Ena passed away on Thursday. We were able to visit her one last time on Tuesday and sing her more hymns. We were able to share the Plan of Salvation with her family. They all live in different cities so we could only send them as referrals. 

Thursday was New Year's Eve and we contacted some more and then ate dinner with a menos activa Hna Olga. She was the only person to offer to cook us dinner early. Here, everyone eats dinner at 11 at night... but we had to enter our house at 9:30pm.  We ate with her and made her brownies for dessert. Hna Olga is a little crazy,.... but she really does love us. 

That night we went to bed like normal but set an alarm for midnight and we woke up and celebrated for 10 minutes haha. We wrote down all that we've done this year and then burned the papers outside on our front porch... don't worry, we were being safe and careful.

We also wrote our goals for this upcoming year. It was weird to not write about the mission. Hna Villena who only has 5 months in her mission wrote goals about baptisms, companions, scripture study and I wrote goals about work, studies, friends and getting married.... haha just kidding !

Saturday I think was a hard work day. Everyone had left for vacations, it was super hot outside and we knocked practically every door in San Pablo but only 5 people opened up and wanted to talk to us... we talked but then they said they weren't interested... we also contacted a crazy man who told me that the United States has it's own Abraham, like from the Bible.... Abraham Lincoln.... that was an interesting conversation. 

On Sunday we had a noche de hogar with Hno Aldo and his family, then they fed us lemon pie. I love pie de limon. They take care of us. 

And that's really all that happened this week. We´re just trying to work as hard as we can and I'm trying not to think about how I'm coming home in 3 weeks.... there's still a lot I can do in 3 weeks. I'm really grateful to be here and to have a new year to dedicate myself to the Lord's service, with or without the nametag. 

happy new year! I encourage you all to set new goals and resolutions with the question in mind "what can I do to improve? what can i do to serve Jesus Christ? what can i change in order to become who Heavenly Father wants me to be?" love you all! thanks for all the love and support!

love, Hermana Williams

Friday, January 1, 2016

December 28, 2015 - We Wish You a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Hola familia y amigos, 

This week was great, went by really fast. and it was Christmas! Wow. I can't believe a whole year has passed since my first Christmas in Punta Arenas. My best Christmas gift was being able to skype my whole family and meet my baby nephew for the first time! But it was very difficult to speak English and not Spanish. Sorry if I said some things that you didn't understand.
A four-way skype with the entire family!

On Monday we had a branch choir practice. President Vargas asked me to organize something for our Christmas activity on Wednesday. Hna Villena was sick with a bad cold on Monday and part of Tuesday so we couldn't do much, but it was still a good day. 

Hna Villena and I are doing well; we get along great and she's really excited to work hard. She`s super funny and we are already acting like we've been companions for more than one cambio. It was really easy to get used to her; she`s really chill. 

On Tuesday we had district meeting. We have a new district of all elders. We're the only hermanas and I'm the only gringa! It's crazy to think about that. But it was fun, the elders become like you`re brothers. We had a white elephant gift exchange for Christmas and ended up sharing all the chocolate and treats with each other. 

We were able to teach a lot of lessons this week. We taught our mamita Cecilia with Hno Aldo and she really doesn't want to progress so we`re going to be dropping her as investigator... as mamita no, we still need to eat! Haha!

We helped a member do yard work in her house. I`ve never done so much yard work in my life like I have here in Chile. 

On Wednesday the branch had their Christmas party dinner. A ton of people came and we sang in a choir and it turned out really well. Marion, familia Fuentealba, some menos activos and friends of members came. 

On the 24th we worked normally all day. We spent all day contacting because our mission came out with a new rule/ meta. We have to do 30 contacts everyday. Before, it was only 10. It's a lot, especially for San Pablo. It's so small here that there are not a lot of people walking around in the street and lots of people were not in their houses this week. We were able to do 34 contacts on Thursday! We felt pretty good. In the nighttime we ate once with Hno Aldo and his family.(Familia Muñoz) then we found out we were able to stay out until 11pm so we stayed and ate dinner with them too. Here in chile they eat dinner at 10 or 11pm. 

The familia Muñoz gifted us Chile keychains and mugs and we came home, I opened my christmas stocking from home (thanks mom!) and we went straight to bed haha. 

Christmas day it was pretty hard to work because everyone was sleeping all day long. But we were able to visit an elderly lady named Hna Ena, that was baptized but never signed her baptismal registro (license, paperwork, document, I can't remember the word) bueno, in the end it was like she was never baptized and she got offended and never went back to church. But now she`s on her death bed and there isn't more we can do for her. We visited her and we were able to share the Plan of Salvation with her family and I sang her a Christmas carol and some hymns. It was awesome when we sang because the Spirit filled the room; it was super strong. A couple days later the family told me that after the songs Hna Ena was finally able to relax and sleep so it really helped. We visited them all on Sunday again and when we asked if there was anything we could do for them they asked me to sing her more hymns because it really helps her to rest. The power of song!

The rest of Christmas was skyping my family, eating Christmas food and contacting. 

This week ended really well because Sunday morning I received a huge surprise. We walked into the church right when the meeting was starting and I looked back and saw a woman sitting in the last row.I thought "wait...I know her" It was Hermana Lidia Contreras, the mom of my ward mission leader in Punta Arenas!  In my head I was like "what is she doing here all the way in San Pablo?" Five minutes later I looked back and my ward mission leader Johnnie walks in!!!!!! I wanted to scream I was so shocked! but I couldn't because the meeting was starting. 

After the meeting ended I greeted them. It was so crazy wonderful to see Johnnie after all this time.I was speechless haha. They were traveling from Punta Arenas to their new home in Rancagua and they thought to stop by and visit me in San Pablo. I never thought that  I would ever see Johnnie in San Pablo haha. It was great to talk and catch up with them. I felt really grateful for the visit. They stayed all 3 hours and we took photos and then they left to drive back up to Rancagua, which is only 45 minutes outside of Santiago. 

Best surprise ever haha. 

Thanks for all the Christmas wishes and emails and support. I love you all very much. That's all I have to really share this week. We were able to contact and find lots of new investigators so we are pumped. 

I know that Christ lives and I'm grateful to be His servant. 

love, hermana williams