Monday, March 30, 2015

Milagros en Marzo, and a Cumpleaños!

Hola familia!!!!

Primeramente, ¡FELIZ CUMPLEAÑO CHARLES! I hope it was amazing! And happy 1 year to Diana! You both rock my socks. ¡That you both complete many more years happily!

This week was wonderful! I didn´t want anything for my birthday, but BOY it was fantastic for so many reasons! The biggest part of my joy was (and is) that Abuela Maldonado can see!!! My "Argentine great grandmother" Had surgery on Friday for her eyes. When I saw her and greeted her that night, I couldn´t believe it. Her eyes were so focused! When we walked in she stood up, walked toward me and began showing off her new mad skills- "What a lovely white sweater Hermana HIll! And here is your red strap to your bag. And wow you´re very blonde aren't you?!" I just about fainted. She took my face in her hands "Le quiero mucho, ¿Sabe?" Talk about a 180 degree change for the better! Abuelita was always so sad, missing her old life of vigor and vive, in which she planned parties and played with her great and great great grandchildren. I´m so happy for my Abuela! It was the best gift ever for my birthday! :) But still, my birthday was made even sweeter by the cake and facturas and cookies and friends. Thanks for the birthday wishes everyone! It's been one that I´ll never forget!

We also had the opportunity to witness a miracle with a family in our branch. We arrived on Tuesday to have a noche de hogar, and the sweet mom told us lovingly and a little sadly that this was the last of their food for the week, and they wanted to give it to us. They almost didn´t call us, but said: we know that if we sacrifice and give servants of the lord food, that He will help us. and if he decides not to, that´s alright too, cause it´ll be an opportunity to learn, but we believe he will help us. They fed us A TON, I felt so many mixed feelings. Gratitude, shame, humility, but I put my faith in God and prayed with every bite that they would have food for the rest of their lives for what they were doing for us. We called the president of the relief society exactly afterward and asked her to put something together for them, that we could be the hands of the lord in bringing a miracle to them and that we should help with the blessings that we´ve been given. When Hermano Maldonado went to bring by a little bit of food and money, to our surprise and joy the mother of the family told us that a friend in Mar del Plata had sent her money from a long forgotten debt, and they were able to have more food than they even needed for the end of this month. I´m so forever grateful for the miracles I've seen this week! I´m so forever grateful for the chance I have to serve here in Argentina and learn so so very much. 

I hope you all have a wonderful week and that you can always look for the hand of God in your life! Love you!

Hermana Hill :)

Monday, March 23, 2015

"I got kicked out of school so I went to Seminary"

There you have it world- Earth´s most rebellious 16 year old, who got kicked out of school so he could go to seminary. While we can´t necessarily applaud his behavior in school (stay in school kids), I´ve got to admit that I admire his style. Maybe you´d have to know him, but I think at least we can all appreciate the moment when the seminary teacher slapped her palm to her forehead as if to say: "what in the world are we going to do with this kid?" His poor mother ;)

Here we are finally in Otoño (autumn)! After a scalding day on the 20th, the cold hit us in the night as unsuspectedly as the shark in jaws would have done without the famous John Williams musical foreshadowing. We knew the cold was coming, but really?! so suddenly? So we roast by day and freeze by night but all is well here in Tre Lau.

Heck, it´s more than ´well´ here, it´s stinking fantastic! ROBERTO WAS BAPTIZED! With heavenly help, he stopped smoking and overcame every challenge in the way. The life of Roberto is hard, but now he has a new family to take care of him, and he´s already receiving blessings for his willingness to keep the commandments. One thing I´ve learned more and more here is that the commandments are blessings, opportunities to learn and have our faith grow. Our Heavenly Father values our agency- our ability to choose. Although it means that sometimes we will fall, He has given us our Savior to pick us back up and walk the path of life with us. If we follow Jesus Christ and keep the commandments, we will live our lives with more joy- The concept is simple! But we must do it by faith, acting on the promises of the Lord before knowing exactly how they are going to help us. I know that keeping the commandments blesses us! Roberto will keep receiving these blessings for as long as he endures in keeping the commandments. Yeah, we partied hard for his great decision to be baptized ;) (meaning that we made cookies and the elders bought soda pop and the kids played fútbol)  Because it´s just so great!!! Even though the world doesn´t understand, I know that there are angels out there partying too because of the decision that Roberto made. Partying because of his faith. (maybe rejoicing is a better way to describe it, but hey, this is big! Do we realize how HUGE is the decision to be baptized? How wonderful it is?)

Speaking of keeping the commandments and walking with faith, we had a super cool Noche de Hogar (family night) this week! The theme- Lehí´s Dream. The activity? FAITH WALK! We led little groups into a room where Hermano y Hermana Garcia taught about our life before this earth and what we have to do here. They were so cute all dressed in white like angels. The groups were then blindfolded and had to hold onto an "iron rod" (yarn) that let them to the "kingdom of God". It was quite elaborate. Tons of people came; it made my heart so full! Freak it was awesome. 

Love you all tons! I´ll write you more soon!!! Keep the faith, love the commandments!


Hermana Hill

Buen Dia! (March 16, 2015)

Here we are again in little old Tre Lau- oh how I love this pueblo! I´ve got my dear Hermana Marple by my side- I gotta tell you, Argentina still doesn’t know what hit it- put the two of us together and BAM!  We´ve seen lots of miracles already :)

Hermana Marple is from California, and a band geek just like me. Her excitement and confidence are contagious, and the rama (branch) here is already re-energized by her spirit! It´s our focus for these next 5 weeks to share the message of the restored gospel with EVERYONE and help the people of Trenque Lauquen to find joy and excitement in their lives- to live with hope and faith and charity. We´re planning activities with all our hearts and we´re talking to every person that we see in the street. 

This week we´re planning the baptism of an amazing man named Roberto! He´s so great! He has around 35+ years, and is definitely a cool cat. He went to church here around three years ago, and couldn´t be baptized cause he had to move. he was able to go to church this week, and although his life is FAR from easy, he keeps his attitude high and is always striving to study the words of the prophets in the scriptures. It´s wonderful to see how excited the branch is to have a new member with them. 

I´m so grateful to serve here in Argentina! I promise to write more stories next week. Love you all!

Hermana Hill

PS- Happy Birthday Zack!

Buen Dia de Bahía Blanca! (March 9, 2015)

Buen Dia de Bahía Blanca! No, I have not seen transfers, I´m still serving in Trenque, but I have had the grand opportunity to take a 6 hour bus ride to Bahía to look for my next companion Hermana Marple and head on back! :) It gives me lots of time to study my scriptures and write in my journal, and it´s wonderful to see the other hermanas in the mission, but it´s hard to sit still for so long without going out and looking for people to teach.

My dear companion Hermana Mercado has died (missionary vocab for finished her mission). It was so great to serve with her for 3 months! I was seriously overjoyed to hear that I´m going to spend the next 6 weeks in Trenque Lauquen- it means I´ll be in this dear area for at least 6 months! :) I´m so glad! There´s a lot of work to do here and I want to do it with all my heart.

Congrats to Zack and Lacey who are going to be married this week!!! Ahh! I can hardly believe it!!!! (I´ve written you a letter and I hope it gets there soon!!!) It´s weird to think of the world moving on out there, cause it feels like I just got here! And congrats to Lee and Kaylie and Kiara and Reese who are expecting a new member of their family in October! I´m going to have so many new people to get to know when I get home and I couldn´t be happier! :D Love you all!

This week we saw lots of success here in little Trenque Lau. There REALLY ARE people who are waiting to hear this message- people who have confusion and who need comfort and who want to find the true church of Christ. Please share your testimonies frequently. It will strengthen your own and fortify those around you! You never know what a little truth can do to comfort another person. Something as simple as "I´m glad that I got to go to church on Sunday" or, something even smaller. There´s a lot of people in this world who think we´re super weird until they get to know us haha okay!? So you´ve got to be open about what you believe, be yourself! People want to learn and are generally afraid to ask. You´re not going to lose anything. Ask your friendly neighborhood missionaries for advice in sharing your testimony if you need it ;) We met a man this week who even told us "hey, I thought ya´ll were pretty weird bugs, but we believe a lot of the same things, yeah, I´ll for sure read this pamphlet"(wow, it´s weird in English...). And it all started cause this man heard that we were talking about religion with one of his friends, and wanted to hear more. Just normal, easy conversations can lead to someone finding a whole lot of joy. 

Fast cultural note- the majority of the people here in tre lau work in the milk factory, or in the fields.

Love you all!

Hermana Hill

Hola from the beautiful city-town of TRENQUE LAUQUEN (March 2, 2015)

First off- HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY KAYLIE!!!! I hope you had a great one! 

This week en Trelau, we had the great opportunity to see baby Benjamin receive his blessing! It was so great :) His mom and grandma recently moved back here from Santa Rosa, and wow how grateful we are to know them! Not only is Hermana Angela Goyeneche a great cook, a fabulous personal trainer, a hair stylist, an Olympian (track and field), but she´s also a woman of great faith. Her daughter Fernanda is wonderful and her enthusiasm for the gospel helps revive us with excitement. We got to know them 1 week before Benja was born, and now here he is! Big as ever! IT´s SO hard not to scoop him up in my arms, but, rules are rules. One day I´ll come back here and play with him ALL day. 

Okay, please excuse my bad translating, but I´ve got to tell ya´ll about the great studies/experiences I´ve had this week. I don´t know if I´ve already shared this, but in the books of Alma and Helaman in the Book of Mormon (where I am right now in my reading), The words "They empowered themselves" (se esforzaron) and "continually" appear with great frequency. Whenever a miracle happened, or the people lived in peace, it was because the people worked to continually strengthen their faith.  I know that if we endure and strive to do what God has commanded us, we too will have peace and success in our lives. I´ve definitely seen the results of it this week. Even when my companion and I are tired, and we just want to take a few minutes to rest, pushing though, working hard, and praying with all of our heart is the only solution. Our Heavenly Father gives us strength. In the words of my dear Dory (and recently quoted by an Hermana Stanger) JUST KEEP SWIMMING. But it´s not enough to just go through the motions. You have to STRIVE, do all that you can. We´ll be able to rest knowing that we gave it our all and that we have been obedient. We can do more than we think we can. Nobody was made to fail. I´ve gotten the chance to share the story of Ponchello (or whatever his name is) from the children´s book "you are special" with a few of our investigators. What is most important is what we think of ourselves and what God thinks of us. If something doesn´t go the way we want it to, we just have to have patience and strive to do better in the future. Isn´t life wonderful that we have the opportunity to change and do things better! I´m not perfect, but I´m not stuck in doing everything badly- I can improve! I´m grateful for these scriptures in Alma and Helaman that remind me of that, and that even when I´m tired, if I work through with joy, there is a heavenly reward just around the corner. Whatever youre going through, don´t give up! You can do it! And with God, nothing is imposible.

And now for a few cultural notes.  

When the fútbol teams of River or Boca are playing, we literally hear shouts of ¡GOAL! from the streets. Or booooo..., but when you hear the crying of frustration, you don’t want to be anywhere close.

Also, yesterday my companion and an investigator were talking about Higo- Figs. I thought they were saying Higado-Liver... I was really worried when they were talking about putting it on crepes with dulce de leche and chocolate... or in alfajores... but, I´m learning new words! woohoo! oh the adventures of Hermana Hill... sometimes they´re rather embarrassing.

I love ya´ll tons!!! Hope you have a wonderful week!

Oh, and mom- (or anyone) can you send me a recipe for scones? THANKS!


Hermana Hill

Tres Tristes Tigres Traigan Trigo en un Trigal,(February 23, 2015)

...en un trigal tres tristes tigres traigan trigo.

Hola Todos! The lovely tongue twister above is what my dear companion taught me to help me have a better accent... yeah, i´m still working on it. The majority of people guess that I´m a Yankee on the spot ;) Hey, whacha gonna do. True to red white and blue! (now new and improved with a Celeste y Amorillo mark on my heart)

First off, I´ve just got to say, I LOVE TRENQUE LAUQUEN!!! The people, the trees, the city, the neighborhoods, the dog Cáramel that follows us everywhere, the cows and horses in the streets outside of people’s houses... I could go on and on. We had a TON of people in the church this Sunday! And it was a huge joy to see people returning to church after being away for a long time. To see the people that recently have been baptized get there with the help of members. To see those who are firm in the faith keeping it. Our little Brenda was so happy to be in the church! And the power of her joy has helped refuel our energy to keep finding the people who find and need the joy that the Gospel of Jesus Crist brings to us.

I loved the words of one of the members in our gospel principles class this Sunday- "The temple of Buenos Aires is only 600 kilometers away, we have to take advantage of that blessing and go as often as possible!" That was really humbling to me, to think that  at home, I have a temple that is only 5 minutes away from my house- When I return, I HAVE to take advantage of that blessing and go as often as possible. I know that the temple is a holy place and that the promises that we make there last the eternities. 

This week walking the streets of TreLau, we found a man named Roberto- or rather, he found us. He at first was just asking a question, but it turns out that he had gone to the church for almost a year straight and wanted to be baptized, but that he had to move away to a little neighboring town and never could. when he returned to TreLau, he didn´t know if it was too late or not to return, and that he had forgotten so much embarrassed him. (Stinking Satan!). BUT, thanks to his confusion of direction, we were able to find us in the street, and he told us that he wants to hear more. Other crazy thing that happened with that- My dear companion was sick, and whellp, to be continued! Love you all! BYE!!!

Carnival (February 16, 2015)

¿Que Tal?

Hola de Argentina! This week was beautiful! It´s a little less hot outside, which is a sweet relief!!! In the begining of this month, we were swimming in the heat of 100 degrees with humidity. Gross. ...please come a little faster fall-time!

This week was the week of the carnivals, the latin equivalent of Martigra. Do yourself a favor and don´t look it up on the internet... It´s a week of partys, parades and crazy dancing in the main street. If you´ve seen the childrens movie Rio, it´s a lot like the parade thing in that :) The misioneras were indoors for all of this, i´ll have you know (haha luckily). And luckily too, it only happens at night, so it didn´t interfere with missionary work! Woohoo! And whats more, there were a ton of people together in families that we could talk to and share the gospel with! 

Saturday, the presidenta of Relief Society asked me to teach the women of our ward how to do "Galletas Yankies"- Mom´s famous Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies :) The were all amazed that we eat soft cookies! They wanted to freeze them so that they fit their customs of crunchiness. Whacha gonna do. But they loved it! And it was so fun to have a little Sister Missionary cooking show! And I had an excuse to overexagerate everything because the Abuela Maldonado is blind, and wanted me to explain everything. In order for these cookies to turn out here, I put in them a ton of Coconut- it rocks. I don´t know if I´ll be able to make them the normal way when I get back!

In one of my personal studies this week, I had the opportunity to learn from Alma 58:40. In the story of the Army of Helaman, their faith was such that not a single soul was lost in the battles, even when ridiculously outnumbered. They took a city without even fighting. But something very important is that their faith inspired them to act, and those things that they were able to do with the strength of the Lord were many. (I feel like I can´t speak english normaly anymore! Ahh! Sorry...) ANYWAY- they worked hard to obey exactly what God had commanded them, and with their diligence, their victories were many. The same principle applies to us today! Even when the trials are hard and many, if we are diligent and we strengthen our faith in God, we too will be able to win our battles. Feel free to read the scripture yourselves, cause I dont know if I can explain it in this language...This week i´ve learned a lot about patience, and this scripture helped lots.

Love you all so much! I hope you all are doing your missionary work and working on your personal progression! We got a chance to teach a sister how to do indexing the other day, it was awesome! There are many ways to serve the Lord and your felow man. :) 

Have a wonderful week!

Hermana Hill