Monday, March 31, 2014

Tarapaca Tiene Talento: Tarapaca Has Talent!

Oh sounds like another crazy and fun week. Hermana Castor and I were talking about the post mission depression that normally accompanies sister missionaries when they return home and dont have a thousand things to do each day. I told her that I will probably avoid that because there is always something going on at my house: a new project or job, always something. She was impressed. 

Tarapaca Tiene Talento was on Friday. The week was full of a little added stress trying to tie loose ends together. We wanted the activity to go smoothy and look somewhat professional, so we spent most of Monday-Thursday visiting the people who had committed to perform. Thursday night we typed up a program and went to help the Young Women decorate the cultural hall. At 4pm on Friday we headed over to the church to finish up the planning. We baked 4 cinnamon cakes (from that recipe you sent) just in case the members didnt bring their dessert assignments. We set up the projector, seats, refreshment table, and finished the decorations. 

Quickly, 7 pm rolled around time for the show to begin. Unfortunately there was only 15 people in the audience and the only performers were the Elders and Young Men but they were still practicing! Chile time is much worse then Mormon Standard Time. Slowly people started trickling in and we finally had a few acts ready to perform. We started the show at 7:40. Hermana Castor stayed behind the scenes getting music and videos and microphones ready while I ran like crazy trying to arrange a program. Basically about half of the acts that had committed to come did not ever show up, but it all worked out alright because several people had pratice something and wanted to present that we did not know about. It was a lot of work coordinating who would go and when, but in the end it worked out perfectly. We had 18 different acts and an excellent presentor that made everything go smoothly. Some of the more exciting acts were a clown, a salsa dance, two of the elders in the stake showed a few wrestling moves, the Young Men did black theater which is hilarious, and the primary got all dressed up to sing Let It Go from Frozen (Libre Soy in Spanish). 

To our surprise many of the member assigned to bring refreshments showed up! However, the four cinnamon cakes were needed because we had an attendance of 90 people!!! We were so happy with that number since attendance on Sunday normally is 85 and we were planning for 70. Three of our investigators came and several less actives. The elders also had a few investigators there and some members brought friends. It was awesome. Everyone said that the activity went really well and looked organized, although behind the scenes was a bit chaotic. On Sunday we had the highest attendance in the ward since I have been here which was 115. I think its all due to the awesome activity hahaha. The bad thing is that with all the hustling Hermana Castor and I did not get to see hardly any of the acts and have no photos. However, one of our friends in the ward has them all and is going to send it to us. Hopefully next week I can send some photos. But overall, it went really well. 

As for the investigators: D we werent able to teach this week. He has been busy with the taxi, but we did get to talk to him two times and we have an appointment for tomorrow. He is excited for his wife to return on Saturday so that she can learn too. He is a great investigator,  although he has yet to go to church. I think he is waiting for his wife to accompany him so that he doesnt feel alone. L continues to progress as well. This next upcoming lesson will be the Word of Wisdom (my first time teaching it). I am a little nervous, but I really hope the spirit will be there so that he can accept to live it. We had a Family Home Evening set up to teach him with his sister but she was sleeping when we showed up, so we still have not been able to teach her,  although we have a good relationship from passing her on the street and such. Leonel is excited for his baptism and is sharing more and more with his family (which is awesome because he is a man of few words). We also got to teach B this week. He is a new investigator that has been attending church in a different ward with a friend of his. He is really curious about the gospel, but his parents are not. He is 24, but we cannot teach him in his home because his parents wont allow it. We taught him this week in the chapel with his friend, and it went really well. We want to put a baptismal date with him this week too. 

AND finally our dificult new investigator. The other day, a woman stopped us in the street and said that she is member but has been less active, but she wants to go to church again. We set up an appointment to visit her (B), her four children, and C (they are not married).B and her oldest son have been baptised, but C is of a different religion and wont allow the younger children to attend church. He doesnt want them getting bad ideas there. He has never attended, but has met with missionaries several times before. He says that there shouldnt be anymore scriptures besides the Bible and if there are scriptures from the Americas, where are the Asian scriptures? It was dificult having the spirit in the short lesson, but all we could do was testify and testify. He says that when he feels the spirit "things happen" and that when he leaves church he leaves that part of him there too, so he cant pray except when he is in his church. It is going to be a challenge teaching him, but we will want to see him change. Perhaps at least we can get him to let the younger children go to church so that B can go. Wish us luck:)

The week overall went really well.I am about to finish the twelve week training program and this past week I had to take the initiative in every teaching and planning situation. It was super easy, surprisingly. I think I have really progressed and this week a lot of things just clicked. I felt more confident that the spirit was helping me to help others. This Saturday we will hear about the transfers, and I really hope that both Hermana Castor and I stay here in our ward. Hermana Castor already has 4 1/2 months here though, so it is possible that I will get a new companion. My fingers are crossed! I also finish my third month tomorrow! I am surprised at how fast the time has gone. I know in just a few more moments I will be finishing six months and then a year and then I will be home. I  constantly remind myself of the short time that I have here and it gives me extra motivation to press on and try my best. 

I hope you guys keep having a crazy fun time. Good luck witht the Easter Pagaent and the mob scene, dad. I know you didnt miss not being in it last year. I have been reading the New Testament along with all the other materials and am about to finish Luke. I am amazed at the love and understanding that Jesus Christ had for everyone. He taught everyone and was loved by so many, it is hard to imagine that in the end the people chose to kill him. However, it is His sacrifice that gives us hope and eternal life. Like a hymn says, He died so that we may live. Although I cant imagine what was going through the mob´s head when they were yelling "crucify him", I am grateful, that He did die because he is the only one who could have done it with such love and patience and humility. This week I played the piano for ward conference and we sang Jesus once of Humble Birth for the sacrament. I had to hold back tears in order to see the notes, but it was really beautiful. Remember to give thanks for his sacrifice. 

I love you guys and hope you have a great week! 

Hermana Biggs

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

First Baptismal Commitment!

This week was pretty great,  although we didnt get to teach very many lessons. BUT I have my first baptism coming up! We committed L to be baptized the 12th of April and he accepted! I was so excited. He has gone to church now four times and attended a baptism on Saturday for the other ward. We are having a FHE with him and his sister tomorrow, and we are hoping that his sister will be interested and want to learn as well. We havent been able to teach her yet because she works in the mornings when we visit L and where they live is really sketch in the evenings. Hopefully tomorrow we will make some progress with her.

We were doing more service today for the family that is moving to Iquique so I dont have any photos, but I will keep that in mind. The family has to be out of their house today, but they have done nothing in the past two weeks! It looked exactly the same as we had left it the last time Hermana Castor and I helped them. They are rushing to paint and throw away and pack all today before 5 pm. It is going to be crazy, but they had a couple more helping hands so they can do it. Definitely a bit on the hoarder side of things if you ask me since I found out today that two of the three rooms on the second floor are also filled with random stuff. So that makes four storage rooms in a house of eight rooms total. I think this move has really helped them to live like the prophets say: simply. It is going to be sad to see them go, but maybe I will be transfered to Iquique at some point and visit them in their new house.

 This week one of the less actives that we have been working with finally came to church! Hermana Castor has been visiting her for five months now and had never seen her in the church, and she came on Sunday! Even better is that she went to two relief society activities as well. We had a ward relief society anniversary event on Friday and then a stake relief society anniversary on Sunday. She said that she is making Hermana Castor and I´s wedding veils since she is taking a sewing class. She is going to have them ready for us this week and wants to see pictures of us getting married when we return home. She is great and its so good to see her coming to church.

Tarapacá Tiene Talentos is this Friday! There is so much excitement in the ward, I am not sure what to expect. We have over 20 numbers and everyone says they are coming. We are going to need a lot of refreshments, so hopefully everyone remembers their assignments for that. Our goal was to have 60 people attend since it is the first ward activity in a while and attendance on Sunday is about 85, but now it seems like it may be a bit bigger. We are super happy and cant wait until Friday.

We keep having strong trembles here in Arica, sometimes 2 or 3 everyday, but no more earthquakes since last week. The sisters that live with us are really afraid, and everyone says that its odd to have so many one right after the other, so we will see. The center keeps being Iquique and we just get the vibrations, so that is great. We were eating with the some members on Saturday and they said that because of all the tremors, attendance on Sunday would reach 100. Sure enough, yesterday there were exactly 100 people attending sacrament meeting!! That was super hilarious.

Overall things are going great here. I had my first zone conference with the President and everyone in Arica on Thursday, so we got some new instructions and rules to help us be better missionaries. This week we figure we will be busy finishing up everything for the Talent Show, but it will be worth it if we can find some new investigators and reactivate some members. Wish us luck;)

I love you all and hope that everything is going well there!

Hermana Biggs

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

An Earthquake, A Tsunami, An Old Woman and A Hoarder

This week went pretty well. We had some more less actives at church. Last week the youngest son of a family came had come by himself, but this week he brought his older sister! We have been working with them a lot and are hoping that the enthusiam to keep bringing the family to church will grow. The son is 12 and was assigned a talk for next Sunday! and the sister that came is 16 and she wants to have an interview with the bishop to start working toward her temple recommend. After being a member all of my life, I forget about how powerful the spirit can be felt in church. Sometimes I worry that if it is not 100% quite during the sacrament or if there are children running all around, that the investigators or less actives wont be affected by the spirit. But it really does touch their hearts in even just one visit. We are seeing a lot of less actives become fully active and want to change and that is really awesome.
Guess what?!!! We found D, the taxi driver, again!!!! He was not trying to avoid us; his family had gone of vacation to Santiago for 20 days. We have had 3 lessons with him and he loves to learn. He is reading the pamphlets we leave and always has questions. We retaught the restoration to him and he said he would pray about the church and modern day prophets. He is excited to watch general conference; however, he is nervous about attending church for the first time because he doesnt know anyone there. We are hoping that this week we can bring members to our lesson and that he will feel more confortable with attending. We are so grateful to have him back in town and it was a real blessing to see him again. During our last lesson, I really felt that he was progressing. Not just that what we were saying was interesting or that he was listening because he wants to hear the "good word", but that he is actually progressing. He wants to learn more and more and is very open to the things we are teaching. After bearing my testimony about prophets and the book of mormon, he shed a couple of tears and said that what I had said was really important. He wants to know if it is true. I saw true progress this week with him, and I am very grateful. He is not leaving town any more, so we will have plenty of opportunities to teach!
I dont know if it was on the news, but there was an earthquake here yesterday. The epicenter was in Iquique (another city pronounced E-key-K) but it reached Arica too. I dont know the strength in Iquique but here it was 6.5 and lasted for a little less than a minute. I have felt two trembles since being here, but this one was strong and a lot longer than the trembles. We were in a lesson with a less active when it started and she started to get really worried, because it didnt stop after a few minutes. But all is well! It passed and there is no destruction at least for here in Arica. We were fine and continued on teaching after it passed. It wasnt until a few hours later that we got a little worried. Apparently there was a tsunami warning too, so we had to go to our apartments early. Plus, in other sectors the missionaries live really close to the beach and not in "safe zones", so we had a grand sleepover last night with 2 other missionary companionships who had to sleep on the floor. It was a lot of fun and there was no tsunami. In fact, the warning was lifted three hours after the earthquake but just as a precaution the mission president wanted everyone in safe zones.
I like the trembles and the earthquake was a little sketch, but it mainly just feels like a mini roller coaster. Apparently some of the other missionaries were in lesson with people much more frightened. One of the companionships that stayed the night with us said that the little old lady they were with took off running telling everyone to get to the top of the hill. The missionaries went with her, but were startled with how fast she could move. They tried asking people along the way about the conditions and such since they werent too worried, but the lady kept yelling at them to move faster and get to the top of hill. Once they got there she made them stay until the mission offices called and said they need to spend the night with us, but that things were perfectly fine. They thought it was super funny that this little old lady took off running up the hill. I guess she was really worried about the tsunami.
That was all the excitement for this week. We are all perfectly fine and had a great sleepover with the other sisters. People in our sector were super calm since it is a safe zone on the side of a hill, so we really didnt have anything to worry about.
We are continuing to visit with L, the man who doesnt walk well and lives in the last street in the sector. He is progressing a bit and went to church for the third time this month, so we are hoping that we can keep teaching and help him retain the things we teach and gain a testimony for himself.
Oh I forgot to mention the service we did this week! Our old mamita for lunch is having real struggles with packing and moving. One day we went to visit her and she started crying because she felt overwhelmed with the work and with the whole idea of changing cities and homes. We volunteered to come and help so that she could get started and feel a little less overwhelmed. We had never been in more of her house than the dining room and one bathroom, but when we arrived we saw the two storage rooms filled to the brim with random stuff. She was overwhelmed not knowing where she could put things or how to pack everything away. She said that everything she touched would just get transfered from one room to the next because it didnt have a designated place. She was tired of having to touch the same things over and over again.

Luckily, thanks to someone, I am a master organizer  I have also watched a lot of clean sweep hahah. So I said lets start in the first storage room and in one corner, I got three boxes, one to pack, one for trash, and one for things that were going to stay with the house. I just started picking up things and asking "pack, keep or trash?" At first it was hard for her to throw things away. She had lived in the house most of her married life and of course "everything has a purpose". SO I had to remind her that she was moving and that she could start anew. Soon she got the hang of things and we finished the entire room in just over 3 hours.
She was super grateful and her husband as well. More than half of the things went into the trash and then we put some stuff out on the curb for people to take for free. I was so glad I could help and was bragging about all the experience I have because my crazy mom makes us work in hoarder houses hahaha (not those words exactly). But they (including my companion) were really amazed.
Of course I am not one to keep anything, and I let them know that just about everything I own is here in the mission with me and fits in two suitcases (one if I didnt have the tower of you know whats :P- we sent Emilee with an 18 month supply of feminine hygiene products :) ) hahah so I got the nickname throw away master. But it was really what they needed. We went back the following day and did the same thing in the second storage room. The movers are coming with the truck on Thursday so I assume we will return between now and then to help.  Oh the skills I have learned, Thanks mom:)
Hermana Biggs

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Work Continues

This week went pretty well. I was grateful for the pew full of people that came with us last week, but this week was even better! We had 4 investigators present and 4 less actives. Two of the less actives had not come yet since I have been here, so that was great improvement. One less active was a 12 year boy. We visit his family a lot and they love us. They were really active at one point in the church and then just started doing other stuff on Sundays and the older children ran into problems. C is the 12 year old and is the youngest of the family, but has a lot of excitement to start coming back to church. He also remembered some of the members from his active days, so all things are looking great. His dad dropped him off at the building, so maybe next time we can get his dad to stay.

We are continuing to work with L who was our new investigator last week. He cant read or write, but a family said that they are willing to help him learn and are going to start working with him. He came to church again this week and really liked it, but during our lessons we realized that he doesn't have a solid religious background. We were explaining some principles and realized that he had no idea what we were talking about. I started teaching him about Jesús and his life here on earth. It is really fun to teach people for the first time the things that I assume most people know. You really see them start to change as they come to know for themselves the truth. I am hoping we will see this with L. He has made a few friends in the ward, so everything is going well there.

We are having some struggles with our 8 year old F that we wanted to baptize. She is the child of an investigator and they both attend every other Sunday. She was really excited to turn eight, but she cannot be baptized until her mom and dad are. She was super disappointed. Her parents are both married to other people , but have been seperated from their spouses for 20 and 15 years and have been living together for the last 10 years. They both have desires to be baptized but their desires have not yielded action because they havent done anything to start the divorce process. It is really easy here to get a divorce if the people have been seperated more than 3 years and do not have any minor children. They just have to go and fill out the paperwork. Hopefully, we can get them excited to do that soon. However, now F wants to be baptized in another church because "it is easier, she doesnt have to read or learn" and her godfather can baptize her. So we have to keep trying to explain about the restored priesthood authority. We told her that she needs to be baptized in the true church. She is just a Little stubborn and wants to be baptized NOW!!

We are continuing to see miracles here in Arica and hopefully I will be here a while longer to see the fruits of all our labors. We have really got the ward excited for our Tarapacá tiene talentos night and there are tons more members who want to help us with lessons and FHEs. We are super grateful and excited for that. We are seeing great changes which will help everyone, members and non members.

Dad, did you finish King Benjamins talk? I like chapter 5 of Mosiah because it is the response of the people after learning basically all of the missionary lessons. It says that they recieved a great change of heart due to their faith, they had no more desire to do evil, and they praised God. The first several verses talk about the conversión that they had. This is the same conversión that Heavenly Father desires all of us to have. It is the only way that we will be strong enough to arise through the struggles we face. The people were truly converted.I love their willingness and their response to the teachings.

I love you all and hope you have a nice relaxing week. Tell brax happy birthday!! I hope he enjoys his party in the park.Love you

Hermana Biggs

Monday, March 3, 2014

A Full Pew

We have learned here that most things that involve food go well:) Haha which is why our Tarapaca Tiene Talento night will include a variety of desserts to bring in the people. We are moving ahead full throttle with our ward activity, and I think many people are super excited! We already have 10 people that want to present and we have not even gone to the classes on Sunday yet.

My clothes are holding up well so far. Wearing the same thing does get boring pretty quickly, but I do have a few skirts packed away. I figured when I open my luggage again it will feel like Christmas and it will be a wardrobe update. We will see if it works. My shoes are dying. I have only worn one pair since the beginning so I still have the other two that are brand new, but I thought one pair would last a little longer. There are already some holes in the soles and I have to shine them every other day to hide the stratches. I figure if I can make them last til the end of March I can toss them and start wearing another pair.
This week was pretty great. On Tuesday we went with our crazy less active "J". She was the one who had attended church the other Sunday for stake conference. I really felt like she was improving and getting things straightened out, but then she called us and said she needed us to come over immediately. I will spare the details, but I left the visit wondering if what we were doing was helping. We spend all day talking to people and then in the end they dont show up to church or they dont want to make commitments and they stop progressing. I enjoy what I am doing, but in that moment I just felt like we really weren't seeing much progress in anyone. However, Heavenly Father loves us and when we ask with faith for things that are just we will receive the blessing. This week in church we had three less actives sitting with us (and 3 children who are under 8) and 1 new investigator!! We took up an entire long pew!! I looked at all of us sitting there and felt so blessed and like my efforts were bearing fruit. It was a great Sunday.
I had another awesome experience with prayer earlier this week too. We have been working with "R" and "M" .  M is a less active (who went to church this week, R was working in another city) and R is an "atheist" who believes in a Supreme Being and Creator", not exactly atheist if you ask me, but whatever. The last lesson we had with him we talked about God being our Heavenly Father. It makes sense if we were created by something that that being would be our father. He agreed and we encouraged him to pray and ask if someone was there, if someone was listening, and if this someone loved him. He agreed that he would that night, and said the concluding prayer in our lesson.
In Preach my Gospel it tells us that we should be constantly renewing our testimonies. We can always be asking to know if the Book of Mormon is true or if Thomas Monson is a prophet even though we may already feel like we know the truth. I read that part a few days after our lesson with R and decided that I would take the challenge to ask if Heavenly Father was there and listening. I asked in the morning and like normal the answer didn't come then.
That night we were having a FHE with an active family, but their father is inactive. He says that one day he just stopped feeling the spirit and didnt need to go to church any longer. I decided to focus the message on building strong families and wanted to share a Mormon Message that I could kind of recall. The family let me use their computer for a moment and I found the Message. It is a video called Earthly Father, Heavenly Father. We watched it and the whole family was touched. I could hardly speak to give the rest of the short lesson I prepared. I realized that that short video was an answer to the question I had had that morning in my prayer and that although it was a simple question, something I already knew the answer to, it was still answered. It is a great video and you guys should definitely watch it. The message of the video also helped the family I was teaching and really brought the spirit. I was so grateful that the idea to share the vieo had come to my mind when we were planning. 
The work is moving, slowly but surely here in Arica, Chile, and it sounds like you guys are making a big difference there in Mesa. Keep a journal of all the great missionary experiences that you are having so that you can remember. I love you all and hope you continue to do great things!
Hermana Biggs

Excerpt from letter to Bailee:

This week was a great week in the mission feild. We found a new investigator who is really receptive. His name is "L" He lives on the last street of our sector and in a part that is a little ghetto so we hardly ever go there. We had an address of a less active member on the street and decided to go and find the less active. However, the address didn't exist! But since we had not been on the street before and it was still daylight we decided to make contacts and knock on the doors of the houses. Thats how we found L. We have taught him twice and he came to church with us on Sunday! I was so happy to see him progressing in a short amount of time. However, we are going to run into some problems soon. A few years ago, he was attacked while working downtown selling seafood. Several people beat him and he lost his memory and has spinal damage so he can hardly walk. He doesnt remember much of his past, which has one bright side because before the attack he was an acoholic, but among the cons is that he can not read or write. He doesnt remember how, although mentally he is totally coherent. To go to church we had a member pick him up and help him to every class so that was great, and we are thinking that we can download some chapters of the Book of Mormon and he can listen to them instead of read. He is really great and we hope to see him continue to progress.

Advice to Ivory:
Keep up on the piano, this past Sunday I had to play the piano in sacrament meeting, because there is no ward pianist!! It was terrible and I was so nervous. I only knew two of the three hymns and messed up big time on the first one, but I can still improve (hopefully). Keep praticing now so that when it is needed you can share your musical talent:) 

Answers to questions:
Aspen wanted to know if there are any dogs.  

There are lots of dogs here that dont have owners. They wander around in the streets all the time and sometimes they start to follow my companion and I. There is one dog that always tries to bite our ankles but he is little and has some problem with his teeth, so it doesnt hurt:)
Worst food and best food?

The worst thing was definitely the hairy soup, but the other day I was served this peach drink that was pretty terrible too. They had boiled the peaches and then added cinnamon or something. You drink the water of the peach and then eat the boiled peach too. it was all I could do to finish that thing, and then they asked if I wanted more! NO THANK YOU
The best thing hmmmm. The bread here is super delicious and at 7pm it is fresh out of the oven at a local bread shop. We go a few times every week and buy a slice of cheese and a piece a of bread yummm. I love it