A Christmas Like No Other!

Merry belated Christmas everybody!

I hope you all had the Christmas celebrations of your dreams and are stocked full with sugar. Christmas for me this year was definitely unlike any I have ever experienced, and I wouldn´t have it any other way.
We had a big activity this Saturday where all the missionaries in our zone went to the plaza and sang carols for everyone. We had a giant Libro de Mormón and Santa Biblia that the Elders wore to show that we believe in both, plus people going around contacting and so many people wanted to take pictures of us! It was pretty awesome and so much fun. Then we had a group baptism for all of these different families, and it was so wonderful to see so many people get baptized on Christmas Eve. I know they´ll remember this Christmas forvever.
Our Zone Leaders had this idea to have a church tour, and to incorporate the theme of the Plan of Salvation/Tree of Life into the tour. Now, I think our Zone Leaders are really awesome, but they tend to think that they can plan everything by themselves and it´s not until the last minute that they realize they actually need help. So at 6 o´clock the night before the activity, they call us and ask us to make a star, a moon, a sun, a tere of life, and provide some refreshments. Honestly I have no idea how we managed to accomplish all of that but we did. The next day we literally only made it to one appointment because we spent the whole day in the capilla cleaning and decorating! But the activity ended up being a success and we were able to keep our decorations because they were so cute. Yay!
We got our zone t-shirts that I designed and they turned out pretty well, but I was a little disappointed that they spelled my name wrong on the back — H. Lus. I might have let out a not-so tiny groan of frustration, but it´s okay because at least everyone who has a t-shirt knows that I´m Hermana IUS, not hermana LUS. Hay una diferencia.
The best part about Bolivia is that there is no such thing as illegal fireworks, and I say this because it´s a tradition to shoot off every kind of firework at midnight on Christmas Eve. We slightly borke the rules and went to the roftops to watch as the whole valley exploded before us! Our neighbors were literally blowing off professional fireworks right off their rooftops. It was better than the fourth of July, and I thihnk that was when I truly fell in love with Bolivia. I wish you could have all experienced it because it was the most magical event to behold, with giant fireworks literally going off above our heads. It will be one of my favorite memories forever.
One big miracle his week was that we taught a first lesson to a couple and we only had a few minutes to teach because it was so late, but the Spirit was so strong with them and by bthe end of the lesson, we had committed them to get married and get baptized! I´m so excited. The Lord really does prepare people and I´m so thankful to be an instrument in his hands.
I love you all so much and I hope to hear from some of you soon! Remember that the church is true and Heavenly Father loves us.
Los amo mucho!
Hna. Iusdscf05781dscf05871dscf06021dscf06031dscf06071

Our Shower Exploded and Other Fun Stories (And Merrm Christmas!)

Merry Christmas everybody!

For those of you in Utah where it is currently cold and hopefully snowy, I hope you are all enjoying your traditional Christmas traditions and are eating a lot of yummy treats!
This week was sooooo crazy! We had a ton of fun and interesting experiences which could only happen in Bolivia. For example, our shower exploded. Okay not super literally, but the other night I was sitting at my desk journaling, and from where I sit I have a direct view of the bathroom. Hna. Pereira went in there to wash her feet, then next thing I know I hear this strong electrical zing in the air, almost as if Nikola Tesla was conducting an experimenting right here in our house, and I see these flashing red lights from the bathroom, and Hna. Pereira starts screaming and runs out of the bathroom! It was like a scene from a horror movie, only incredibly hilarious. Well, SOMEHOW the shower caught on fire, and there were legitimate flamews and a smell of burnt plastic in our house for the rest of the night, but we´re totally okay and, amazingly enough, the shower still works! Except the water is freezing and none of us trust it, so we´re using buckets right now to wash ourselves. Yay!
I also discovered why it´s a rule that we work out in the morning: So that we can be fit enough to run away from creepy stalker drunk men at night. That was fun!
Mom sent me a recipe for shortbread cookies and I made them and shared them with our investigators, and now everyone wants her recipe! Mom, I think your cookies just might become the next big thing here in Bolivia…😉
Awesome news! Maria Belen has committed to getting baptized! We are soooo excited! Then when we met up with her last, she had started reading the Book of Mormon – only two paragraphs of the introduction, but honestly that´s so much because some of our investigators that we´ve had for months haven´t read anything. This makes me so happy.
The Elders asked me to design a t-shirt for the zone literally the day before they needed nit, then told me the design was too complicated and I had to come up with another design the day the were going to make the shirts. Crazies. Next time they ask me to do something, it better be two weeks early!
Last night Carmiña told us she had something for us, and she gave us a mini Christmas tree! We were so happy and decorated it right there. Carmiña is a member but her husband isn´t and we´ve been trying very had for him to commit to baptism. Last night, Igor (her husband) wasn´t there, and she told us how 2 weeks ago he was slightly drunk and said to her, “I love the Hermanas so much and it makes me sad that I´m not getting baptized! But YOU (Carmiña) are a bad example because they alsways talk about loving everyone but you hate my parents! So the day you love my parents is the day I´ll get baptized!” After hearing this, we told her she needs to learn to love her parents-in-law.
Well everyone, I hope you have a very MERRM Christmas this year! I say “Merrm” because Hna. KNighton´s mom sent us a Merry Christmas sign but instead of saying “merry” it says “merrm” by accident. Haha! I love you all and you mean the world to me!
Hna. Ius

Lots of Christmas Miracles!

Hey everybody!

I hope you´re all doing swell. We´re halfway to Christmas and I´m still having a difficult time realizing that because it´s soooo warm here. But I love it! Our znoe is planning to sing Christmas carols in the park (or something like that), and they particularly want to sing The Little Drummer Boy a cappella. And SOMEHOW they chose me and two other missionaries to sing the lyrics and have everyone else do the background music. I have no idea how I was volunteered or chosen to sing the main lead, but whatever it´s cool, plus I totally love that song.
I had my first intercambios (splits, teamups, whatever you call them) this week with our Hna. Traning Leader Hermana Secce, mi abuelita! Haha she´s my abuelita because she was the “mama” or trainer of Hna. Knighton, and Hna. Knighton is my mama. I went up to Tabladita and had such a fun time there.
On Monday we had a zone activity to go hike to a waterfall! Except the waterfall we ended up visiting was more of a trickle off a rock than a legit waterfall….haha. The REAL waterfall was waaaaaay off, but it was stil fun, especially when it started raining like crazy. It even hailed! It was super refreshing though and utterly beautiful, though driving back in a micro full of wet missionaries was a tad bit unpleasant. Hna. Knighton and I also bought alpaca sweaters! Well, she did anyway. When we asked the cashier guy if my sweater was pure alpaca, he said, “uhhh más o menos.” So I have a más or menos alapca sweater, and then we took holiday Christmas pictures in them. Hooray!
We´ve had some great miracles this week. Freddy Morales finally decided to get baptized, yipee! But he needs to start comnig to church before that can happen, so his baptismal date is kind of up in the air. I met Claudia this week, an investigator that I was supposed to meet my first day but she was just never home. We taught her the plan of Salvation and at the end I bore my testimony, then after the lesson Hna. Knighton told me that Claudia had said she definitely felt something in her heart when I was speaking. That made me so happy! We also taught some new investigators, Maria Belen (16), her sister Nicole (14?), and her boyfriend (18). We taught them the Plan of Salvation, and we showed them a picture of the SLC Temple and told them that´s where we get married for time and all eternity. When we said that, Maria Belen´s eyes just lit up and I saw her mouth the word “wow!” It was so amazing. Sometimes I think I forget just what it means to have an eternal family, but moments like that really humble me.
Also a wonderful miracle that happened yesterday: The Elders have been teaching this one investigator, Gonzalez, and he´s 19 years old. He´s really interested in the gospel, but his grandmother forbid the Elders from visiting him. So, since the Elders didn´t want to lose him, they sent us instead! Yesterday we went to go check up on him, and he told us that he´s decided that the  Book of Mormon is true and he wants to get baptized. We were so excited, and we called the Elders right away and told them. It was such a huge miracle for them because they´ve been having a really hard week, but this was exactly what they needed.
Yesterday we went to visit the Bishop really quickly to ask him about a reference we had received, and on uor way there a drunk guy came up to talk to us. Hna. Knighton gave him a Word of Wisdom pamphlet and told him to read it because it would help not to drink so much, and he was so happy that he went to go show his drunk friend. Then he came back to us a minute later utterly distraught because his friend had stolen his WoW pamphlet and he wanted another one, but we didn´t have another one so we gave him a Plan of Salvation and Chastity pamphlet. That seemed to make him happy. Last we saw of them they were waling down the street, a bottle in one hand and church pamphlets in the other. They were so pleased with themselves
Love you all so much!
Hna. Ius

Hi everybody!

I hope you´re all doing well. Yesterday was my 2-month anniversary, how crazy is that? I’m still at that point in the mission where everyday seems to last a lot longer than just 24 hours, but I love being out here and doing the Lord´s work.
As you might have guessed by the title of my email, I´ve had some interesting experiences over here. I don´t want to get to much into what happened because I don´t want to scare anyone, but yeah, Hna. Knighton and I had a very unique run-in with a drunk guy with a machete, and this incident may or may not have been related to the puppy rescue….yikes! I remember as we were hiding behind this wall scared for our lives, I had the very distinct thought: “I AM A TITHE PAYER. THIS SHOULDN´T BE HAPPENING TO ME!” Now, let me explain, at the CCM, Presidente Tenorio gave a devotional about paying your tithing, and he shared many experiences how paying tithing has literally saved his life, and that´s the reason why I thought I shouldn´t be in incredible danger. However, right after I had that thought, in my moment of incredible danger, I had a revelation – Yes, I am a tithe-payer, and that´s why I´m NOT going to die, despite the fact that we made some stupid choices and temporarily ignored the Holy Ghost and had a very real chance of dying.
But hey, you gotta love the mission!
Anyway, the danger was soon averted because Hna. Knighton called Sandro and he came and rescued us, and we´ve been alive ever since. And don´t worry, mom, dad – not a single hair was harmed on my body! I am perfectly okay! Hna. Knighton totally took (part) of the blame for that, because she actually knew what was going on but I didn´t because I DON´T SPEAK THE LANGUAGE, but like I said, we´re okay. Bolivia is a pretty safe place to be (contingent that you obey the rules).
Also, because of this whole experience, I don{t have pictures with 7 new born puppies. I´m sorry, But I do have a picute with one big puppy, so I hope that´s okay. Like I said before, there are about a billion dogs here that breed like crazy (but this one isn´t a stray, so don´t worry!).
So Monday our Hna. Training leaders told us we were going to a dinosaur museum, but I think there was some mistranslation there because it was actually a dinosaur PARK. It was pretty cool though because the park is at the top of Tarija, so we could see the entire city! So gorgeous.
We also had the opportunity to go to San Lorenzo on Friday for a zone activity. San Lorenzo is a city in Tarija (note: Tarija is both a city and a department'”state”. I´m serving in Tarija City, Tarija). It´s so beautiful there! Anyway, we went there because the goal is to open a new branch there, and the missionaries need a lot of help with getting contacts, so we literally knocked on doors for like 4 hours straight. And took a billion pictures. It was awesome. We also put up a display in the middle of the park, and literally the day before they asked me to make a poster mapping out the life of Christ. I was happy to do it, but gosh it was crazy stressful! All the hermanas in the house had to help me coplor it in and everything, but it turned out pretty well. And to think that I was worried I wouldn´t be able to use my talents out in the field. If anything, everybody has been asking me to draw them since I´ve arrived! Haha but it´s pretty awesome, and I love drawing.
We actually had a really cool experience related to the poster, though. This week, we weren´t having a lot of success with getting new investigators, so I prayed a specific prayer that we would meet a woman this day who was wearing a green blouse and would be excited to hear about the gospel. Well, when we went to the art store to pick up supplies for the poster, the lady who helped us was wearing a big, bright green vest. She asked us what the poster was for, and we explained that I was going to draw the life of Christ, and that immediately piqued her attention. We ended up giving her a Book of Mormon, and she was SO excited. She just kept flipping through all of the pictures with a huge smile on her face, and then she gave us a discount on our purchase! Truly a beautiful miracle from the Lord. I do wish that I had prayed in my specific prayer for this person to live in our area, though, so we could teach her. Haha but it{s okay! What matters are that we are spreading the gospel.
Well, that{s all for now! Thank you for all of your love and support, and I hope to hear from you all again soon! AND PAY YOUR TITHING! It really does proterct you in ways you would never imagine.
Hermana Ius