Tuesday, April 29, 2014

El Bautismovil: The Baptism Mobile


It sounds like you guys are keeping busy as usual:) Hopefully all goes well with Junk in the Trunk this week and the installation of insulation hahaha. I loved those photos from the Pageant. Dad I am still convinced the beard look is not for you:P Is Aspen a fairy in the birthday party picture? How cute!

This week, we had so many great experineces with many of our investigators. When we went to talk to A and F this week, the boyfriend/father was there. He is really supportive of the church, although he has never attended. However, he loves talking with the missionaries and I was grateful to finally be able to find him. He works in one of the mines in Antofagasta and when he is in town they normally go on vacations. The lesson went really well, and he talked about the great change that he has seen in A since she started going to church. He said it has made her more soft and lovely. He is going to start his divorcement papers and A is trying to as well!

D, D, D. Our lovely taxi driving friend. He is such a great investigator and we had an amazing lesson with him on Friday. The spirit was really strong and he was finally certain that he would attend church . He said the closing prayer for the first time in all of the times that we have been working with him. It was really powerful. Both Hermana Alonzo and I left feeling so great. He is really progressing and we felt such a spiritual high after leaving his house. 

The V family is progressing as well.  This week we were able to put baptismal dates for E and V ( the mom and daughter. The dad is a less active) for the 31st of May. We were super proud, and they are really excited for the date. I can really see how people are more focused when we committ them to baptism and set a date. Although, the baptism may not occur on the first date we set, it really helps get them ready and start preparing on their own. They are excited to reactivate and went to our ward activity on Saturday. It was a dessert festival. Every organization made two desserts to present and share. Hermana Alonzo and I made a "Baptiz-mobile" and the Elders of the ward made cinnamon rolls. Our baptizmobile won most creative!!!! It was super fun, and we were happy to see the V family attend. 

Our other great lesson was with R. He is married and has two children. About a year ago his wife and oldest child were baptized. The youngest is still only five, and R didnt feel ready. I started teaching him with Hermana Castor and he said that he was Atheist, but has faith. We were a little confused by that statement, but we went with it. Over the past few months it has been difficult to teach him (he works in the mines too), but we have seen great change. He has a really strong testimony now of Heavenly Father and prayer and is learning and accepting our teachings. His wife is less active, but wants to go to church as a family. The lesson with him was short, but really powerful. We had brought a member with us and I am convinced that her testimony and experiences really helped him to be more open. It was very powerful. He too said the closing prayer (although not for the first time) and the spirit became even stronger. It was really great. 

A week full of really great lessons. I felt like the spirirt was very strong on several occassions. However, we wouldnt know the good if there was no opposition..... All of these people and families promised that they would come to church. We also had two others that were also saying that they were going to come. With the spirit so strong we believed that we would have 7  investigators in church on Sunday. We called to verify on Saturday night and Sunday morning. We excitedly went to church.

In the first hour no one showed up. Our church schedule is reversed so we do Relief society and then Sunday School and then Sacrament Meeting. We knew that many of the investigators could only come for Sacrament, but we became nervous when no one showed up for the first hour. We made a few calls to those who were supposed to be there to see what had happened and they affirmed that they were still coming . However, when the third hour rolled around, no one had come. No one, not a single investigator. It was a little frustrating and disappointing admittedly. I really thought that at least the majority would come. The lessons had been great, I believed. I now more fully understand that when great things are happening there is a lot of opposition. We went and visited those who didnt come to church yesterday. Sure enough, alll of their plans had grown complicated for one reason or another and they all figured they could just go to church next week. 

We have a lot of hope for change here. We are seeing great things but it was a bit difficult to be sitting alone yesterday. We are going to keep working and make sure that this week they know  the importance of going to church. We just want them to feel that same spirirt that we do when we go. I know it is possible, but it appears that it is going to take a lot of effort. Like I said, when something great is going to happen there always seems to be some opposition. Hopefully, this week was all the opposition hahaha. If not, Hermana Alonzo and I are ready!!

I love you guys!. I have heard that we are talking with our families on May 11th. The bishop said we could use his computers to skype. Our church is from 10am-1pm Chilean time, so it will be some time after that. I will try to get a better schedule this week, and I will let you know. 

Hermana Biggs

Monday, April 21, 2014

First Baptism!

Hahaha yes I took that picture in the air in her honor haha. Ironically I have met the authors of the two blogs that I read before the mission. They are both serving in Arica. Hermana Brewster (likes to jump) is in her last transfer and is really great. Always happy and a great example. Hermana Severston is also really fun to be around and is one of the Sister Leaders so we do exchanges with her every once in a while.
I did finally get the package! Thank you so much. I have already put those measuring cups to use (and the skittles too) Thank you for all the letters, they are so sweet. I also got some awesome letters from the stake relief society activity and I loved the quotes that they attached. Thank you so much!
L did get baptized and confirmed this weekend. Our own Easter miracle! Although I was not sure how to plan a baptism, I think it went really well. We had a special musical number by one of the YSAs in the ward and a few talks and testimonies. After the baptism we finished with sugar cookies,  which everyone loved. It was a bit stressful the week before baptism. We wanted to be sure that he was really ready for the big change and covenant.
I remember when we first met him. We had gone to his street, which just happens to be the last street in our sector and the city, looking for a member that supposedly lived there. We were disappointed to find that the address did not exist but since we hardly ever walked to that street, we decided to knock on some doors and present ourselves. His was the second door we knocked and his sister invited us to come in and talk to them both. She was there visiting for the weekend, but he invited us to return. At first, the lessons were filled with silence. He hardly talked at all and because of an attack that left him unable to walk and without any long term memory, he couldnt read the scriptures. We would ask a few questions at the beginning of the lesson and receive short responses. At the end, we would ask if he needed anything and then we would leave. We were uncertain of his feelings and progress.
However, the members were willing to go and pick him up to take him to church and bit by bit he started to open up. He said that he really liked attending and thought that everything was beautiful. After the first few lessons we convinced him to say the closing prayer. He would start out speaking loudly saying "Padre Nuestro" and then mumble inaudibly. We thought that maybe he was wasnt saying anything, but in the second lesson we realized that he was indeed saying heart felt prayers. It was really cool. He never rejected an opportunity to say a prayer including a few times in Gospel Principles, but he always maintained his quiet tone.
He said that he would be baptized in the first lesson if he recieved an answer to his prayers about the church. We were super excited and always asked how he was progressing. We made sure to read from the Book of Mormon every lesson, so that he could learn,  although he  was unable to read himself. A few times his nephews helped him read too.
He has had a hard troubled past, but it touched his hear that that would all be washed away. The date for his baptism had to be pushed back a couple of times for different reasons, but finally the day arrived. He had a difficult time standing in the water, and the prayer had to be repeated twice because his legs floated up when he went under in the water. However, despite the difficulties he came out of the water clean. He was happy and glad that he was able to be baptized. It was really a great day to see him be baptized and I am glad he felt ready to make that promise with Heavenly Father.
In the coming weeks we, with some memebers,  get to teach him the ordinances of the church. I hope that he remembers the feelings he had the day of his baptism and always try to live worthily. He is great.
That was the great highlight of this week. We continue to work with D,  the taxi driver, but have still not met his wife. This week we are going to try to put a baptismal goal and drag him to church. He is still really interested and loves reading whatever assignment we give him; however, church attendance is difficult for him. Pray to help him have the time and desires to go.
We had a great experience with A. She is an investigator that always attends church but she needs to divorce and remarry her partner before she can be baptized. This weekend she went to Santiago because her father had passed away and she wanted to attend the funeral. A few days after she returned, we went to visit and had planned to share a short scripture about the resurrection. I started out explaining how Heavenly Father wanted us to be happy and sent us here to live in families, and that in the eternities we are going to live again with our families. Her eyes enlightened and she humbly asked " I am going to see my father again?" I was so happy to be able to tell her " Yes, you will see him again". We spent some time talking about the plan of happiness or salvation and how families can be forever. It was a really great experience and we all felt the spirit really strongly. SHe mentioned that she didnt understand much about the church but that she keeps attending because there is a peace there that she hasnt ever felt anywhere else. Sometimes people ask her questions about the church that she cant answer, but she knows that it is different from any other place. Her testimony was amazing. After the lesson, she felt renewed efforts to get her marital status up to date, and hopefully this week she will go and see what she needs to do to get a divorce. The spirit in that lesson was probably the stronget I have felt in any lesson so far. It was amazing. We were sharing simple truths that change lives.
I hope you guys are still holding up. Sounds like a crazy Easter week, but soon it will be all over and summer time. My companion and I are having a ton of fun and she is a really great teacher. I love it. She is a bit shy, but she knows the gospel principles and has really great experiences to share. We are getting along great!
I love you guys,  talk to you next week!
Hermana Biggs
PS could you send some more dessert recipes? Maybe some healthy stuff if that exista. I know theres that recipe for whole wheat cookies somewhere. See what you can do. I am baking all the time and need some new treats for FHE with the families. Thanks:)

Monday, April 14, 2014

She's A Momma!

My hijita is great. Her name is Hermana Alonzo and she is from Paraguay. We have busily trying to get in our visits this week since we lost two days with the travel to Antofagasta, so she has gotten to know the sector pretty well in these last three days. She is really happy and relaxed which is great. She is also eager to learn and help everyone progress. She is going to be a great companion. 

We are hopefully baptizing L this Saturday!! I am so excited. It is going to be my first baptism, and he is an investigator that I found, taught, and now will baptize. I am really happy for him and the changes that he has made. We had a few hiccups this week with his interview, but he has an interview with the stake president tomorrow, and if all goes well the baptism has been announced for 6pm on Saturday. A great Easter gift for him:)

This week everyone wanted to invite us to their house to eat, so my health is a little overweight. Hahaha Hermana Alonzo thinks I am the most popular person in our sector because we are always running into people that I have met. I love it. It is really fun to be able to build up that trust with the people that I am serving. With the recent transfers many people that I do not know have asked me if I got a new companion. At first, I thought it was a little weird that they were asking and had never talked to us before. However, I am really grateful that even the people I dont talk to, still know that I am there and recognize me and my companion as missionaries. It has been a great opportunity to get to know new people and of course get new investigators. I really feel at home in my sector. It is kinda odd because it is so different from home, but I have met great people and feel like I belong here.

Because of the shortness of the week, not too much has changed. The trip to Antofagasta went really well, and the new missionaries were blown away with our funny and over dramatic interpretations of the earthquakes. Everyone feared that they would have to go to Arica or Iquique for their first sector. To their dismay 6 new missionaries were sent to Arica and 2 to Iquique. But we are tranquil here. I got to show Hermana Alonzo a little bit of Arica as we went to the Morro or Hill. It was one of the military campouts for the Peruvians during the war between Peru and Chile. Chile thought taking over el morro would be a huge task (lasting weeks or maybe months) with lots of blood shed, but they used a trojan horse tactic and conquered the morro in 45 minutes. Now Arica is a part of Chile instead of Peru, so it is an emblem of Arica and there is a musuem and a huge Chilean flag. The flag is brand new and weighs over 52 kilos! It was really awesome. 

These are some of the girls that we do visits with in the ward

Here is a rainbow picture for Aspen. It hasnt rained but last Sunday for some reason there was a rainbow:)
Hermana Castor and I last Sunday together:(
 At the bus station

Hermana Alonzo and I enjoying our free time in Antofagasta. The desire of all sisteraries;)

At the top of the morro. It has an awesome overlook of the whole city and a lot of the ocean. So beautiful:)

Downtown Arica:) 

One more goofy photo with Arica in the background

I love you guys and hopefully will be getting your package tomorrow during our zone meeting:)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

It's A Girl!

Wow as I thought about all the crazy stuff I had to write about this week I was shocked. However, I think you guys had even more events happening. I hope things relax a Little bit, although it seems like life may be at a faster pace with a heavier weight for a little bit. In the first chapter of Joshua,  Moses had just passed away, and now Joshua is in control of the children of Israel. They were supposed to enter the promised land, but it was being inhabited by other people. Joshua had to live the law of Moses and help the Children of Israel enter the promised land. Joahua felt overwhelmed with such a huge charge place on his sholders. He probably felt alone after losing his friend and the prophet, and he was unsure of what to do given the new trial. However, in the first chapter, God gives Joshua the same advice three times. He tells him to "be strong and of good courage". I especially like the ninth verse that has additional advice. Like was said in General Conference this weekend, in this life we have to stand strong even in the toughest storms. I remember the example of the tree that was used. In the strong wind and adversity the tree strengthens itself in order to survive. I know that we grow stronger when we remain faithful in the face of tribulation. Luckily, we have the help of Heavenly Father as well to remind us that we are never alone. His help is divine, powerful, and 100% real. One of the benefits of prayer is that we recieve the blessings that he wants to give to us. One of the talks in General Conference also mentioned three things that families should do in order to remain strong and united: pray together daily, read scriptures together daily, and weekly FHE. Implement these principles, and you'll  have the promise of strength from a prophet.  I know that lds.org has hints to help make scripture study better for families of all ages. Through the hours of study here in the misión my love for the scriptures has grown so much. I use every spare minute Reading the book of Mormon and Bible because I want to learn more. Help the youngsters develop that desire. Be strong and remember (I forget who said it) that it doesnt matter if the house is a mess, if homework isnt done, or laundry isnt washed, scripture study and prayer are worth the sacrifice.

This week got kicked off with the a bang! It was the last week of my second transfer and Hermana Castor and I were excited to get to working. We have increased drastically in the number of our investigators and we wanted to plan a way to visit all of them (plus the less actives and some members) at least once this week. However, the earth had another plan. Tuesday night there was the big earthquake. They say it was 8.3, but it really didnt cause much damage here in Arica. This city is prepared for that kind of stuff. We were in a lesson with B, the less active that we had just met (her husband is not a member). We were teaching the Restoration when the earthquake began. At first we thought it was just a tremor but it got stronger. We opened her front door and saw the cars dancing and everything shaking. There were a few Little electric explosións. After gathering her small children that were asleep upstairs we hugged and prayed. The quake lasted for about a minute I believe (or at least it felt that long). The earth stood still again and we said a short prayer of consolation and then took off to our apartment. Before entering we found a family in the Ward who told us we could go with them to their grandmothers house. She lives really close and has a room ready for earthquakes with food and blankets and candles. We ran over there trying to contact the other missionaries, but the cell lines had been cut. We felt calm and safe, but with the tsuanmi alarm everyone in the city was running carrying blankets and small children. Although we were already in a safe zone, the people still panicked. About two hours passed and the phones were restored. We received news that we needed to head to the stake center for the night. We slept on the tile floor (ouch), but were safe and tranquil. The next morning we returned to the apartment. Then that night the was a replica of 7.4, but it was short. We went to the stake center again mainly because the other sisters in the apartment were terrified. We slept on the floor again but were safe. The next morning we left and everything was tranquil. There was a rumor that the wáter was going to be cut for 2 days, and in some sectors it was, but our wáter was only gone for four hours, so that was great. On Saturday the misión president came to console everyone and make sure we were all safe. We had all been a Little shook up, but really there was no damage done here.

(This is the photo the Mission President sent to show us all the missionaries were safe!)

Really there is a peace that comes from the góspel. Although a Little worried I knew things would be fine. I am in good hands here and am being blessed. Although there was talk of it being the start of the end (hahaha) everything has returned to normal. Chile is the most sismic country in the world thanks to its position and shape, so we are used to Little tremors and movement. With the large quake the people went a Little crazy; I Heard the grocery stores were a mess and people panicked because none of the bread shops made bread for two days (a staple in the Chilean diet). But we are fine, we are happy, and we are safe. Thank you for your concern and prayers:)

Saturday and Sunday we were able to watch the four sessions of conference, and I loved it. The first sesión I think was my favorite. I had a lot of questions answered, and I loved the music. It really brought the spirit.

More exciting news! This week was the last week of my second transfer and as usual there is lots of talk about who will be coming and going. I was praying that Hermana Castor and I would stay together for one more transfer, but as the week drew to a close I was feeling more and more like she was going to be leaving. We got the phone call Friday night and as I had felt (and not hoped) she is being transfered to a super small town called Tal Tal. The offices talked to her first, so I knew from her expression and conversation that she was leaving. I waited impatiently for the phone to come to me, and nervously prayed that I could accept my future companion.

The Assistant to the President told me :Hey Hermana Biggs I hope you are getting ready..... ( I was confused by this) because you are going to give birth! You are going to train one of the new sisters!!! You are going to have a daughter! ( the person that trains is the mom and the one being trained is the daughter. plus there are grandmas and great grandmas.... a Little weird I know hahaha but tradition)

So, here I am. I just finished my training and now I am the one who is going to train. I am excited, but also nervous. I am going to be the senior companion but what if someone asks me a question and I am left clueless. Or what is my daughter doesnt like me or is a picky eater. Who knows. I am super excited and have been really praying to be prepared. General Conference really helped me understand how I can be a good example and show lots of love. Hopefully, the misión president was truly inspired with this calling. I travel to Antofagasta tomorrow to meet my hijita (daughter). There will be a short training sesión for trainers and then we will eat with all the new missionaries and then have the shoe shining ceremony where we find out who is our companion. Wish me luck....... maybe wish more luck to my hijita;) We have spent the weekend trying to tell everyone good bye for Hermana Castor and I took a million photos that I cant upload because theres not a card reader in this internet place!!!! Next week again i will have them.

A crazy week indeed. Due to the earthquakes and conference we didnt meet our goal of visiting all of our investigators and now this week I will be gone two days in Antofagasta, so needless to say my sector needs a lot of work. But change is good. It makes us stronger and we learn so much more. I have to take Hermana Castor to the bus stop tonight and it is going to be hard saying goodbye to my mama, but maybe we will meet again in the coming transfers.

I love you all and hope this week improves. Be strong and of good courage!

Hermana Biggs