Monday, August 25, 2014

¡Hola a todos!

Brief update on the matter language of my last email- the people are actually saying a whole different word!!!! Seriously... It´s not `como esta´ at all! It´s actually `como anda` Like- how´s it going.... yep. but people still don´t say their s, that much is still true... haha it just helps when you know the words in the first place ;)

Where do I even begin!!! It has been a FANTASTIC week here in Bahía Blanca!!! Guess what!?!?!?! Our dear investigator, María, was baptized this last Saturday! It was beautiful. I couldn´t stop smiling the entire time! It´s an amazing thing, to watch someone you love make a covenant with Heavenly Father and open the door to the path that will lead them to a heavenly home and happiness forever. She is a huge example and a light for her family and neighbors. Many people came to see her take this step in her life, and afterwards we ate cookies and cake and cold pizza and drank maté (not the missionaries, but everyone else drank it. Not that it´s bad! It´s just a social drink and we don´t have the time to drink it) María was very happy and we´re all so happy for her! 

The weather here is NUTSO. Last week, when I sat here writing to you, I had my light skirt on and a short sleeve shirt. I sweated a ton as I walked around the city teaching. Now, I´m sitting here with wool socks, boots, two layers of thermal tights, shorts, heavy skirt, sweater, jacket, coat, hat, and gloves... I didn´t think it was possible to find a place with more bipolar weather than Utah, but it is!!! Welcome to Bahía Blanca :) our apartment also flooded a little from all the rain, and our power is out from all the wind... And I love it! My poor companion is sick though from running around in the rain and cold all day and from giving cheek kisses to all of our sick investigators (they´re not selfish, they´ll give you everything they´ve got, including a cold haha) So we´ve been chilling indoors for 2 days to try to help her feel better. After this excursion to the Centro to write you all, I´m taking her home and making her drink malta and soup and get to bed. It´s my turn to be the mother in our companionship!

Did I tell you last week that there are dogs everywhere? Cause there are. Everywhere. And sometimes, especially if the weather is bad, they run around in packs and it´s pretty freaky.

Oh! And I found two seashells in the street! (caracol en la calle). It was one of those tender mercies that just brighten your day.

To answer some of the questions of my mother: my area is Villa Mitre 2, it´s a little suburb like city just outside of Bahía Blanca (where I am right now to write to you all). I love it so much! I´m grateful for my good shoes and good rubber boots cause most of the streets are dirt and filled with water and ruts and craziness. I'm warm enough, that´s a huge blessing! The people here are super nice and I just am loving every second of it here! And, even if people don´t want to hear our message, they´re pretty darn polite about it. 

I need to talk to you all about the miracle of a smile. One of our investigators has had a REALLY hard life (okay, most if not all of our investigators have had really hard lives truly). We talked to her this week about the love that Heavenly Father has for us, and that through his plan for us, we can be with our families forever. We talked to her about how we know where we were before this life, and why we are here in this world, and where we go afterwards. She began to laugh and cry a little bit, and we were really confused. My companion asked her why she laughed, and after a pause, she said that she had never felt the love of Heavenly Father like when she is with us, when we tell her that God loves her with a smile on our faces. she said that when other people have told her that God loves her, she feels like it´s a conditional love. that she has to change who she is and pay for her sins so that God will love her, and this is something she doesn´t feel like she could do. But God´s love for everyone is unconditional. It´s for each person in this world. The amount that we feel doesn´t change the amount that there is for us! This life is that we might have joy everlasting! So smile. The message of our Savior is one of joy, so smile! Even if you´re not sharing a message of the gospel, or talking at all, smile, and share your joy! If you don´t have joy, smile, and others will smile back and give you some because you´re helping other people do the same. Think about how contagious that is! We also say hi to everyone in the street- that really catches some people off guard. Smile at people, at dogs, and the sky.. Am I sounding crazy yet? Good, cause maybe then ya´ll remember to smile ;)

I love you all! I hope you´re doing well!!! I love hearing from you and I´m sorry that I don´t have much time to write you each individually. You rock my socks, even from thousands of miles away. God bless you and keep you!

Hermana Hill

A note from the mom:  Katie is being an awesome missionary, as we can all tell.  I love how she bears her testimony with each letter, and how her joy and enthusiasm radiate from each word.  I've haven't been getting enough detail on her day-to-day, however.  Thankfully, she was kind enough to answer many of my questions her letter this week.  I also got a bit more information, and permission to "post this little update on my blog if you want."  

How do you like being an "official" missionary?  

I LOVE being an "official" missionary. It´s the The spirit is so strong, and I love the work. I love the chances that I have to help people. Literally all of my time is focused on that, which is such a huge blessing!!! 

From the pictures, it looks like you have another companionship in your apartment - is it just you and Sister Naylor, or are there 4 of you?

We share a house with 4 other missionaries, 6 girls in total (for a while there were 7 of us, with our TINY bathroom... yay!) 

How was church?  How many people were there?  What is the building like?  How far did you have to go to get there?

There are a lot of members, not as much as should be at church, but there are a lot! That is super cool. I don´t know exact numbers.  The chapel is just like the churches back home but with more tile and no dishes and way smaller. We have to fast walk for 30 min to get to our church, and it takes us one hour to fast walk across our entire area, if we´re going the direct route... it´s a lot! 

Monday, August 18, 2014

¡¡¡¡Hola Bahía Blanca!!!!

¡Hola familia y amigos!

Welcome to my first letter from the beautiful and magical land of Argentina! Please excuse my typing errors, the keyboards are different here and the computer tells me that every word is wrong cause it´s not in Spanish (or castillano, as the Argentines would say. They´re very adamant that they don´t speak español, and I´ll agree with them on that one...) Speaking of language, it´s coming along great! It´s really hard, I just cant let myself get nervous. If I stay confident I do fine. Easier said than done, but I know that It´s a huge blessing that I´m able to do that! Holy moly I´m so grateful!!!! At first (and still now) It was really really hard to understand the accent here! I´m getting way better though! Many people don´t pronounce their ´s´ so "¿Como Estas?" sounds like "¿Comm Enda?" and it´s that way with EVERY WORD... yeah, I´m grateful that I´ve got a companion that helps me translate =) she´s the best!!! Her name is Hermana Naylor, and like me, is from Utah. It really confuses people when we tell them that... some people even thought that if they wanted to be a member of the church they would have to move to the United States... nope! It´s for everyone everywhere. Hermana Naylor is also blonde! So we get honked and whistled at everywhere we go... yay Argentina! It´s weird, and sometimes freaky, but mostly just funny! I´m grateful that Hermana Naylor is good at laughing at things! There are so many things in this world and in our missions that just aren´t worth worrying about, and I´m glad to have her as a teacher to help me see the comical in every situation. she´s the bomb. She´s very kind and spiritual and I´ve already learned much from her. we laugh all the time too- she is silly, just like me, so we get along great!

I´m grateful to have good shoes. the part of the city that we are in is very poor, and most of the streets are dirt. haha the first night I came home caked in it! I love it. We flush our toilet with a stick in the wall, but we have a toilet!!! There are so so many blessings here. And I´ve seen so many miracles. I wish I could strap a camera to my forehead and let you all see and experience this too.

Oh man! I have so much to tell you all about!!! The food here is AWESOME. With a member we had lamb milanesa and potatoes and pan y dulce and soup that reminded me of the bean and ham soup that I eat at my cabin sometimes! It was just the bomb. And last night, we stopped by to say hello to the same member and she made us come in and gave us Ice cream, and I coughed a lot cause we had just got done running to an appointment who wasn´t there so she gave me cough medicine! So in other words, know that I´m REALLY being taken care of here!

I have received more kisses here than I think I´ve ever had in my life! Everyone you meet, people on the street even, after you talk, and if you know each other (or if the person is just really nice) you give kisses on the cheek! Typically one, but some of the old ladies here are especially excited to see us and give us two. they´re so sweet! We don't give men kisses cause of mission rules (and it makes sense too, cause we´re working for Heavenly Father and don´t want to get to friendly with anyone of the opposite gender if you know what I mean) But sometimes, and it´s hilarious when it happens, hombre´s ignore our outstretched hand and give us a beso. SO FUNNY! But I love how loving everyone is, and I know I´m going to miss the kisses when I return (at least, I think so...) 

Well, I only have 5 mins left, so I´ll share the most important part of all this, the miracles =) Our investigators are so so amazing. I learn so much from each of them. My first night here, we talked to like 4 people in the street who wanted to hear more about the gospel, who were friendly, and who loved to talk to us. It was certainly a miracle that we met them =) We walk around all day to get to all of our appointments, our area is huge, and there are so many people who want to hear the gospel. I just want to tell you about all of them cause I love them all so much, but I absolutely have to tell you about Rodrigo. He´s amazing. Rodrigo is a 18 year old boy who is SO nice! He has some type of mental disability that makes it so he´s more like 14ish, and he is just the coolest person you will ever meet. We´ve talked to him a few times and he came to church yesterday and wants to be baptized! I was struggling with español, excuse me, with castillano, and he just patted my arm and said "respíre, respíre, tranquila. be happy, you´re my best friend" (He speaks a little English and loves practicing with me, it´s the best! that translates to- breathe, breathe, tranquil- or something like that) I almost started crying. What a blessing he is!!! He´s so kind and always looking out for others. he always wants to hug and hold hands with everyone, and it breaks my heart to tell him no, but he always has a happy attitude about it and smiles real big and says "oh yes, porque usted trabaja por Dios" (oh yes, because you work for God). He´s so smart. and the insights that he shares about overcoming Satan and following Jesus Christ are so beautiful. Like I said, I wish I could talk about all of the sweet people that I know. The children here are just the most adorable! We´re teaching a little girl named Zoe who although she only has 9 years, she knows so much and is confident in it with firm faith. And she´s only been to church a few times but she has figured so much out and is just the best. She´s helping her mom stop smoking and takes good care of her little sisters. What an example!!!

I know with all my heart that this church is true. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is on the earth today. I´m so grateful for this knowledge! It has changed my life, and I wouldn´t be here if I didn´t know it with all of my heart. People are always surprised when we tell them that we pay to be here, but i wouldn´t trade this experience for anything. I love it! I love the people! I love my Savior. I invite you all to read the Book of Mormon, I know that it´s true! I hope you all have a wonderful wonderful week. God be with you! 

Lots of Love, ¡Chao!
Hermana Hill

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Adios Provo!!!

Buenos Tardes a mis amigos y familia!

This is it! This is my last email to you all from the CCM. I GOT MY TRAVEL PLANS!!!! That means that my visa came through, and I have plane tickets and everything! I'm going to Argentina!!! We fly out on Monday morning (we have to leave at 6) then head to Georgia, then to Buenos Aires! You should of seen all of us on travel plans day (last friday). After lunch, we couldn't contain our anticipation and excitement and booked it to the mailroom. Elder Groen got there first and held the white and pink papers high over his head. We couldn't help but cheer and run a little faster, hopping up and down until we got our own plans in our hands. Our entire district got our plans. What a blessing! Elder Rawson is going to equador, but the rest of us fly out together. We all felt bad that he wont be with us, but we're just glad to have gotten to know him and that we all got our visas! This week we also finally met some of the other missionaries going to Bahia Blanca (there are only 3 in our district). Apparently there are at least 10 of us going to that one mission alone on monday! Holy Guacamole! This time next week I'll be in winter! Sorry if this letter is a little all over the place, it's been an eventful day preparing to leave the country and preach the gospel.

This week has been awesome (as usual). It has also been very humbling. I need to speak spanish more when it's just me and my companion. Heavenly Father definitely got that message across to me yesterday when I tried to teach a lesson. I don't know what happened! My usual semi-fast and decent spanish turned into a halting mess. The only time that I felt confident in my spanish and felt the spirit in my words was when I recounted the story of the first vision in spanish. I'm so glad that I memorized that. There is power in Joseph Smith's words! I will work hard to speak more and learn more, because speaking with conviction is something I never want to be without! It's hard sometimes to get out of the way and let the spirit be the teacher. The prideful natural man in me so often takes over and tries in vain to handle a lesson, or to take care of a disagreement or anything. But it's only through trusting in Heavenly Father that I feel truly like myself and can become a good missionary! I have really learned that to be true these past weeks at the CCM.  I also have found that memorizing scripture can become a great strength to us. When we feel tempted or depressed or confused, we can invite the spirit back into our lives by silently singing a hymn, by praying, by reciting scripture to ourselves. I have to remind myself that I truly have come a long way though! The language that used to be so hard for me gets easier and easier every day! I'm better at understanding than speaking, but I truly believe that the Gift of tongues is real. I'm so grateful for all the tender mercies that I have seen this week. The help that I have received from my Heavenly Father has been immense!

This week we got to teach a lesson via Skype! It was so cool! We taught Maria, a member living in Arizona. She is so sweet! And her spirit is so strong. We were grateful that she spoke english too, cause we felt like there were things that we needed to say in spanglish. Through this, we were able to speak well! And I felt a lot of peace from the Holy Ghost afterwards knowing that I had successfully done something hard for me :) 

I have so many funny stories this week! I wish I could share them all! One thing that we get to do to help us with the language is an online test, where we are given a prompt that we respond in spanish to. We get feedback later in the week. Sometimes we have more time to answer than we know what to do with. One elder in our group didn't know that you could just move on to the next question, and sat there for a minute after asking his "investigator" to read a scripture: "bien hecho! yaaaayyyy..... ole..... leendo....." Okay, maybe that's not as funny for you all cause you don't know this elder, but we all thought that that was pretty great coming out of our stoic cowboy. 

I love you all so much! I can't believe that next time I write you all, I'll be in a different country, typing on weird keyboards, speaking a different language, and eating different foods. The good news is, no matter what is different, the gospel is the same! Heavenly Father's love for his children is the same. The atonement is still real, the scriptures are still true. What a blessing it is that we live in this amazing time when the gospel of Christ is restored! What a blessing it is that we have a living prophet today like the prophets of old. I know that Thomas S. Monson is that prophet, and that he has the keys and the power of the preisthood to lead the church of our Savior. I know with all of my heart that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I'm so grateful that we have the opportunity to make and keep sacred covenants with our Heavenly Father! I heard this week a cool insight about covenants that I thought I'd share. We know that the Iron Rod that Lehi and Nephi saw in visions is the Word of God. It was suggested that this not only can be referencing the Scriptures, but also God's word, His promise.  May we hold steadfastly to the covenants that we have made and partake of Eternal Life. I pray that we can each help others to find the rod as well, to help them make those covenants that would lead them to Eternal Happiness. :) I invite you all to remember your covenants and to help others to do so, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Have a wonderful week! And thank you all for your emails and letters. Know that I get them and love them and cherish them, even though I don't always respond! :) Love you!

Hermana Hill

How time doth swiftly fly!

Hola mi familia y amigos!!!

What a wonderful week it has been, I have no idea where to start- it's just all been so great. I'm learning so much, and my heart grows as I learn more about the Gospel. What a blessing it is to be here.

This week we got done teaching our first "investigator" (our teacher acted like one of the investigators he had on his mission so we could get practice teaching). A few weeks ago, I couldn't wait to get done teaching him because I was frustrated with my teaching and embarrassed by how it was going. But I was actually really sad to be done teaching him! I'm so excited for our "new investigator", but I have really grown to love Ángel.  I know we weren't teaching the real Angel, but I loved watching his testimony grow and watching him draw closer to Christ. We were SO ecstatic when he began reading the children's book of mormon (he had to leave school when he was really young to support his family) and when he agreed to go to church on our last lesson we couldn't contain our joy! We had been asking him to do those things since day one, and now he's doing it and wanting to do it too! Our teacher told us last night about the real Angel and we saw his picture. We've never met him but we all love him! I feel the same love for my other investigators now, and some too for every person that I meet (it's growing more and more). Imagine all that love, now multiply that number by infinity. that's how much our Heavenly Father loves us. Woah. I'm learning so much. I have so far to go! But I know that Christ and Heavenly Father will help me, and make up for all those things that I lack.  :) 

Oh and guess what everybody!!?!!?! I totally had my first dream in Spanish!!! Well, I don't remember it, but apparently I woke up my companion one night speaking spanish. She said she didn't catch what I was saying, and it was probably gibberish and random words, but I still feel like it's an accomplishment, okay....?

The Sister Missionaries all have Relief Society together here, and we got to be taught by Sherri Dew this past Sunday! that was stinking awesome. And on Sunday nights they have movies for us to watch (conference talks, devotionals and other church movies, but hey, they're stinking awesome! We LOVE watching those!) The one we watched this Sunday was called "The Character of Christ" by Elder Bednar. It was amazing. He talked about how the character, or moral instinct, of Christ was to continually look and focus outward, away from himself. Throughout his entire life, he not once focused on himself. The natural man in all of us is the opposite of that. We look inwards. Our lives are lived as if we were Cookie Monster (Elder Bednar's analogy, not mine- I wish I could claim it!). "We want cookie now!" He told us amazing stories of Christ and of other people in this world like Him that focus on others. They aren't offended. They love others. They serve and have true charity for those around them. It's a lifelong process, but I know that Christ atoned for us so that we can become like that one day. :) And if we work on it, He will help us. We find ourselves when we lose ourselves in the service of others. But you can't serve others because you want to find yourself. You've got to serve them because you have charity for them. This helps us see our own worth, and more importantly, helps us become closer to Him who heals us. Whatever you are going through, be still, and know that God will help you! Search for Him and serve Him! I know that your life will be blessed, and you'll begin to recognize the blessings and miracles that have always been there.

I love you all so much! I hope you are doing well!!! Thank you so much for your kind and fun emails and for being so awesome. 

Okay, I'll close (maybe) with a funny story. :) My sweet companion, Hermana Sprenz had to give a talk in sacrament meeting this week. None of us know when we are going to be called up to give a talk, so every week we write one on the topic that is suggested. It has to be all in spanish and be 5 minutes long. Freaky, right?! It's super good practice though, so thats alright :) ANYWAY- She was doing SO good, even though she was nervous. She made it to the end and began to bear her testimony. It went a little something like this: "Yo se que esta iglesia is verdadera. Yo se que Padre Celestial es el padre de nuestros almas. Yo se que Jesucristo es mi hijo..." That translates to: I know that this church is true. I know that Heavenly Father is the father of our souls, I know that Jesus Christ is my son. Her SON! We laughed pretty long about that one!! XD Poor thing was mortified. "I blasphemed!!! It wasn't just a silly mistake! It was blasphemy!!!!" Good ole Espanol, keeping us on our toes and helping us blaspheme. ;) I definitely said in one of my lessons that we can't return to God without the Atonement because our fish remove us from Him.... Those darn fish, getting in the way of our salvation... Pescados= fish Pecados=sins, can you blame me!? haha it's been a funny week. We now eat swedish fish and call them Pecados de Sweden (sins of sweden). Yep, that how we roll. 

Have a delightful week everyone! Love you! Hope you're not too mortified about the language skills that I told you about... The church is still true, even if we can't speak very well yet :)

God be with you!
Les amo mucho!!!

Hermana Hill