Dear Family and Friends,
How are you? I am so happy to get to write you today! My letter is a little bit late because we got to go to the temple so our P-day got changed to today. But that was awesome. I really received alot of answers to my prayers. But first I want to tell an exciting story. So last week was the Semana de Sacrificio and this was the hardest one yet. I am so tired right now because I have not gotten to rest until today. It was so hot, I thought that I was going to die. Not really, but it was really really hot. One of the elders in our zone even got really sick. It was crazy. We helped all of the other areas in our zone and so we went to Ojo de Agua in Alajuela in order to find new people. The thing is that Alajuela is a lot hotter than Heredia. So when we got to the sister missionaries' house, (which is on the side of a members house) we found one elder there suffering from an extreme fever. He stayed there while all of us worked and then when we came back for lunch he was way bad. They called a taxi to take him to the hospital because he couldn't walk, feel his legs, and was shaking like he has a seizure. When the elders carried him out, his legs were so stiff that they could only drag him really. But don't worry, he is fine! I am pretty sure that he had heat stroke or something, but we don't really know. He rested for a day and now is healthy and working just fine. So it was really just a freak accident. But it is a testimony to how devouted missionaries are. We work through everything because we love the Lord. A truly devouted disciple of Christ does not look for excuses to not work, even when he has them. He says, "Great, this will make me stronger" and gets back to work!But that was probably the most exciting thing that happened to us this week. Other than we got to go the the temple! Yay!!! I love the temple. I can't wait until I can get to go every week like before my mission. There is always so much to learn and the Lord is always there! First, We got to talk to President and Sister Laboriel, and most importantly we got to have a moment just to think of ourselves and what we need from the Lord when we entered the temple. It was so peaceful, I loved it. And I truly have a testimony that whenever you ask for comfort from the Lord, he sends it. I prayed in the celestial room for some comfort in the trials that I am having right now, and he sent it immediately. Hermana Cruz was there as well because her zone went to the temple too and she just stood up and said, "Give me a hug right now." So yeah...the Lord answers prayers really fast in the temple.
So everyone go to the temple as much as you can in the future. There are so many blessings waiting for you there and whenever you need guidance, go! He is always there for you!
Dear Family and Friends,
How are you? I am pretty good here in Costa Rica. This week was really hot! Like really hot! Not too fun. But I am still learning a lot here in the mission. I want to tell you a little bit more about the culture here in Costa Rica. Basically everyone believes in God. There are pictures of Jesus in all of the buses and in basically everything. They are a people with a lot of faith. For example, in the bus when we pass a catholic church all of the catholics cross themselves. Also, buses are everywhere. There is a bus to go to almost everyplace. Which is a lot different than Utah. Also my mom has asked alot about the pictures where there are bars in front of everything. Yes, that is true. I have only seen about 3 houses in my entire time here that did not have a really big fence around it and those houses all had bars on the windows and doors. I am pretty sure it is for protection. I have not heard of many people here who have their houses broken into, unless they live in an area too poor to have a good lock. So yeah, I barely notice the big fences and the bars on the windows anymore. Also the sidewalks here are not good. At all. There are pieces of glass, holes, and a whole bunch of other unnameable things. It is one thing that sometimes I miss about the States. The order. Order is a good thing! So somebody go outside and kiss a sidewalk for me or something! Anyway, what else is there to say. Oh yeah, a little miracle for the week! We went knocking doors in Gethsemaní the other day and found a really awesome lady! For one, she lives in a place called Gethsemane!!!! So that is pretty cool. The other is her name. Her name is Maria, she is married to Jose,and she has a baby named Jesus. I am not even kidding you, we found the family of Jesus!!!! She is awesome and absolutley loves us! Which is great because sometimes we just need a little bit of love! She has her pamphlet about the Plan of Salvation propped up on her counter for everyone to see, and is an angel! She loves God and feels like she needs to be closer to Him. So great!! Anyway, I love you all and I am so happy to be here in Costa Rica. I grow to love this country more and more everyday. Especially because it is the most beautiful country in Central America and the safest. For that reason alone, sometimes I think that it was here in the mountains of Costa Rica that Jesus Christ appeared to the Nephites.
I also have a challenge for all of you. This week we focused alot about working with the members. And it is so true. Our stake is prime for work with the members. We are focusing on having every investigator be a friend of a member. Because I have learned something here in my mission. The work of the Lord is most defintely not just of the missionaries. The missionaries are more a helpmeet than anything. Those who truly share the gospel are the members. The only way that the church can grow is with the family, friends, and neighbors of the members. There is a reason why every single one of you lives where you are and is a member of the church! There are people that you know, who are just waiting to hear the gospel. So my challenge for you is this:
1. If you don't know the missionaries assigned to your ward...repent! Get to know them. Invite them to dinner, ask them to have a family home evening! Ask how you can help them! They have a million ideas on how to better the work in the area and are just waiting for you to take the iniciative and ask them!2. Think of a nonmember or a less active family and invite them to a family home evening! This idea is really very simple. Don't just think of a name and give it to the missionaries! Contact them yourself! Simply invite them! I promise you that you are not going to lose friends. I have invited hundreds of people to come to church here in Costa Rica and even when they say no, they are still my friends! We talk! We buy icecream together! They will not take offense at an invitation! In fact...they might take more offense if you never invite them to the things that are most important in your lives, like God!
3. Do your visiting and hometeaching! You have no idea how many less active member I have met who have left the church because no body visits them in their time of need! I know one woman who suffers from exteme depression. She was president of the Relief Society. She visited all of the women in her branch when she was president. But in her time of need...nobody has visited her. She has been to hospitals more times than anyone I know...but no one visits her or her family. So if you are the one not doing your duty, change! Be like Jesus and help those in need!
4. Don't make excuses! I know that some of you are going to say, "Well I live in Utah, so everyone I know is members and so is the entire state so I really can't do much more can I?" I am going to politely ask you to repent and change that thought because there are a lot of people in Utah who need to hear the Gospel! I have seen that in my own life! On my steet alone there are 3 non member families and even more less actives! So sit down and make a list of everyone that you know! Those who are members and those who you are not sure of! The woman in the grocery store, the guy who you pass running everyday, the tourists in Zion! There are many people to share the gospel with. It is our duty as members of the church to spread the gospel throughout the world and UTAH IS NOT EXEMPT!
Well I hope that this challenge will help all of you! I know that we can come closer to God through missionary work than possibly any thing else in this world! Remember that you are all in my prayers! I love you!
Dear Family and Friends,
Well, I am pretty much going to be the "oldest" missionary in the zone now! This meaning that I have had the most time in Zona Heredia than any other missionary. (Oh no! I am not the new kid anymore!!!!). Actually only one other missionary has more time here than me and another was here before and transfered back again. But still. I feel pretty good about this! Yesterday was actually transfers but I am here in San Rafael for another transfer! Yay! I will have atleast spent 5, almost 6 months here in Heredia. Which is great because I love these people. There is no way that I am not going to come back here. They are so much like my family. Other great news, we are officially in our new house and really excited! The people to move us didn't come until 8 pm last monday...so we went to bed a little late. Which is not good and I felt terrible. Then we had exchanges with the sister training leaders from Tuesday to Thursday. Which I need really badly. Just to have a little bit of a break from everything. Everything is good, but sometimes you just need to leave your area for a few days in order to recharge the batteries! I went to San Francisco! Thats right, we have a San Francisco here in Costa Rica! My area also has a Gethsemane so that is pretty cool. And we have Belen (Bethlehem) in our zone. It is where the temple is. But anyway, in San Francisco I was humbled a little bit. I entered an area called Guararí and I have never seen an area like this. Cars, even motorcycles, can't enter there because the "steets" are so small. It is in a gully like thing where it basically looks like a big pile of tin sheets. When you enter it was basically a maze. And it is dangerous. As in the elders that are also in the area had to escort us to the members we wanted to visit. One walked in front of us and the other behind to make sure nothing happened. I felt really humble as I saw how these people live. There are some pretty poor areas in San Rafael...but I have literally never seen anything like this in my life. They literally have nothing. Absolutely nothing. But some of the most devout members live there. I met a woman named Juaquina. She just wanted to share the gospel with all of her neighbors. I am truly humbled.
This week all of Central America had stake conference and listened to a transmission from Elder Andersen. This is the second time I have gotten to listen to Elder Andersen talk in my mission so pretty much love him. He is awesome. He talked in spanish and it was funny because I could actually catch the mistakes that he made (He spoke french and portugese before, and is just learning spanish right now). But it was so powerful. All of the general authorities that spoke emphasized member missionary work. Which always makes a missionary happy. We really need to start working with the members more. We are trying so hard, but are also learning and really excited to start appyling some of the things that we are learning.
I also want to share a little something about a scripture that I read this week. I actually first heard this scripture in the MTC and had forgotten about it for awhile. It says,
33. Fear not to do good, my sons, for whatsoever ye sow, that shall ye also reap; therefore, if ye sow good ye shall also reap good for your reward.
34. Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail.
35. Behold, I do not condemn you; go your ways and sin no more; perform with soberness the work which I have commanded you.
36. Look unto me in ever thought; doubt not, fear not.
37. Behold the wounds which pierced my side, and also the prints of the nails in my hands and feet; be faithful, keep my commandments, and ye shall inherit the kingdom of heaven. Amen.
...Doubt not; Fear not. I love that statement. I remember in the MTC when we were in a branch council meeting with President Doman and he read this scripture. His favorite part was the part that says, "Fear not, little flock." I love this scripture so much! Fear not to do good! Build upon the rock of Christ and nothing, and I mean nothing, can beat you! You can face storms, floods, trials, or the very jaws of the adversary and always win! It is a promise! Build upon His Rock! Doubt not HIS power, Fear not! Remember the sacrifice that He has made for us. He had nails driven into his hands and his wrists! He suffered our every sin! All so that we could conquer the foe! If we always remember to doubt not and fear not, we can feel His love so strongly!
Thank you for all of your love and your letters! Remember to love the Lord with all of your heart and never rest in His work!
Dear Family and Friends,
Sorry that I forgot to send my letter last week! I actually wrote it all and thought that I had pressed send. So this week you get a double dose of Costa Rica! Pura Vida! Hmmm...where to begin for this week? Well I think I will start with the food. So if you didn't know before, here in Costa Rica the missionaries have cooks to serve lunch and wash their clothes for them (Lucky me!). Our cook (or in spanish cocinera) is Natalie Angee. And she is from Columbia. So at times I don't get the typical Costa Rican food. But she has told me that I am the only gringa that has passed through her house that will eat absolutely anything. She pretty much loves it because all of the other missionaries have been picky eaters. Hermana Cruz wouldn't eat onions. Hermana Gutierrez won't eat anything from the sea. And I am the gringa that will eat just about anything.I think it has been engraved in my mind from my family that if somebody puts food in front of you, you eat it and don't ask questions. So at times I have no idea what it is that I am eating. It was only this Sunday that I learned what I was actually eating. The elders also came to eat with us at Natalie's house and she served yuca (something kind of like a potato but we don't have in Utah), potatos, rice, and some meat. I normally don't ask what I am eating because also at times they like to tell me that it is one thing when in reality, it is another. This one time happened when they told me I was eating conejo (rabbit) when in truth it was chicharrón (fried pigs skin. I really like it!). So this Sunday we all sat down and Natalie told them what the meat was and asked if they wanted to eat it or have an egg instead. I just eat everything so she didn't ask me! They all said that they wanted an egg instead! Even the Latino who I thought this food was normal for them! Turns out that we were eating pigs feet. Before it was in a soup so I didn't recognize it. But on Sunday my hunk of meat was very distiguishable as a pigs foot. So I ate it, because in my family you don't say no to any type of food! Did I like it? No. Not at all! It was slimy and gross! But I had to be tough to out eat the elders and make Natalie proud as the Gringa Who Will Eat Anything! I have been told by one of our recent converts that this Saturday I get to try dunbungo (cow stomach) as well. So that will be fun! Also this week I weighed myself again. My first time I weighed my self was in my first week here! And in my three months here I have lost more than 20 pounds! So I was more than just a little happy! If anyone needs to lose weight, send them to be a missionary in San Rafael de Heredia. It is not super hot...but there are a whole bunch of hills here. My area is basically the side of a mountain. So no matter how much I eat here, I just keep losing weight. I am really happy about that! Anyway, today we had to go to the mission office and I finally got to know San Jose! I have been there before, but we never really explored. Today we went to a place that all of the missionaries call "Gringo Alley". It is basically the biggest souvenir shop in all of Costa Rica. The last week of your mission, which you spend in the office doing paperwork and having dinner with President Laboriel, you get to go to Gringo Alley and buy stuff to take home. The people there all know about the missionaries so they give us discounts. Which is pretty great I think. We just walked for the entrance and one lady raced out to direct us to her stall, where everything was cheaper because we are missionaries! There was so much stuff! I am already making a list for things that I want to bring home with me in more than a year! It is quite possible that I will leave all of my clothes here in Costa Rica and just bring back my books and a bunch of stuff from Costa Rica! Yay! So that was really cool!
The work here in San Rafael is going really well! Not perfect, but really well! I have learned so much about trusting in my Heavenly Father and about prayer! That is one of the things that I have studied this week and I have learned that I need to be in constant contact with my Heavenly Father! He has so much love for me and just wants to guide me in everything that I do, I just need to ask! That is basically a rule in heaven! He can step in and help out with comfort and council, but you have to make the decision to trust in Him and just ask! I have found that when I am searching for help and truly praying to him, not just with words but with all of my heart as well (see Mosiah 24:12 I think.), that is when He answers me. I especially felt His love this Sunday during the sacrament. I took out my patriarcal blessing to read and pray a little, and it just really helped. My Father in Heaven knew that I needed to have some peace in my week because normally in during the sacrement there is a 4 year old that likes to literally run around and sometimes scream! So that drives the spirit away real quick. But this week was a miracle because this 4 year old waited until after the sacrement and well into a talk to start running and screaming. Thank goodness! The Lord truly knows how to calm all tempests!
Well I love you all and I would love to hear more from you! Always remember to trust in the Lord and ask Him for help! He is there for you! That was His only purpose in coming to the Earth! To help us!