Don’t let those palm trees fool ya

Hi friends!

As you might have guessed, we just had transfers this week. I´m now in my second area, still in  Tarija, but at the other end, in the other zone,  so that´s pretty cool! Hermana Gonzales is now leading Central and I´m so proud of her. She´s progressed and changed so much, I felt peaceful leaving her  in charge of our area and investigators. It was sad leaving so many good friends behind — our converts and our investigators literally became our family here — but I felt ready to leave.
My new companion is Hermana Acevedo! I´m the senior companion between the two of us, but she´s aleady taught me so much about how to be a good missionary. Makes me question who´s really in charge here! haha. I was a little sad when I first arrived and she  told me that we basically didn´t have any investigators (because her last comp didn´t want to fulfill her purpose!). However, we might the decision right away to find new investigators and we left and started knocking on doors right away…..and pucha we´ve already found so many people with such great potential  and it´s only been four days! This transfer is difinitely gonna be b usy.
Other things that happened: I saw the largest spider of my life just walking around in the street and I almost died.
There are beautiful palm trees outside…and it´s winter. Seriously! So winter here isn´t like winter in Utah where we have snow and all that stuff. In the afternoon it´s hot and we sweat but boy at night we slleo in our thermals and bundle up. Apparently it´s gonna get even worse.
I´ve completed 7 months now! Ahhhhhhhh I don´t like it. But we celebrated with hamburgers and Inca Kola so it was alright.
I love you all!
Hermana IusDSCF2055[1]DSCF2089[1]

Time is flying!

Hi friends!

I literally can´t believe it´s already Monday again! The week flew by so fast, and I´m struggling with thinking of what stories to tell you…
Yeah okay so Saturday night we were walking around and we had an hour left before curfew but no appointments, so we decided to pass by for one of the recents converts of the Elders because we hadn´t visited him yet. His name is Isaac and he´s 17 was baptized in October, and this kid is just always so happy to see us! As we were talking to him, he was all like, “Hermanas, I have some questions!” And we were like “Yeah man ask away!”. “Hermanas, is it super super super super SUPER bad to go ona a date with a girl and be alone (as in not in a group date) at my age?” Oh my gosh we just started laughing! All of his questions were about dating, how he should date, and if he needs to get married right away after his mission. It was pretty funny, but I think we helped clear up some of his questions,
I designed a t-shirt for just the hermanas in our zone this past transfer and I just received my new shirt and it came out so perfect and gorgeous and soft! I´m so happy.
Alejandra talked with her family this about getting baptized and has their support with her decision! She´s already planning on serving a mission, too. I can´t believe that we only met her three weeks ago and has already progressed and changed so much. It´s so true when they say that a study of the gospel with change behavior quicker than a study of bahavior will.
I love you all! Feel free to email me I have an extra 30 minutes of internet every Monday now woohoo!
Hermana Ius

Happy Conference Weekend

Hola Everybody!

I hope you all enjoyed your conference weekend and that you´re feeling very much spiritually renewed. We´ve been busy all week inviting people to the conference! We managed to get Tania, Fabiola´s sister, to come to the first saturday morning session and I was sooooo happy! Especially because she was listening to the messages and some of the talks really called her atention. Fabiola and Emili came the next day to the conference and also were able to enjoy the wonderful spirit there.
We had splits this week so I went to another area and Hna. Gonzales led our area for the first time! AND SHE DIDN´T GET LOST! I´m so proud of my baby. We received several references this week, hooray! And the other day as we were looking for one reference, we found his dad first. He asked who we were (Hna. Ius! Hna. Gonzales!) and he replied, “I´m Hermano Fernando!”. We explained that we´re missionaries, and he was all like, “Well I´m catholic but I´m not closed. When can you visit me?” Us: “Whenever you´d like!”
His son ended up being really awesome too! He wasnted to know the address of the church building, asked us for a pamphlet, and asked when we could visit him and his family before we had a chance to ask him any of these things.
Last Monday we had a hermanas-only activity and I made cinnamon pancakes and we watched Moana. Life is good here in Bolivia….
Love you all so much!
Hna. Ius

Too Many Peruanos

Hi everyone!

This week has been CRAZY! On Wednesday, our zona leaders pulled us aside and told us that Presidente is closing their area…and combining it with ours! Needless to say, I felt a little overwhelmed with this news. Everytime I start to feel a little comfortable with the mission, Heavenly Father gives me some more responsibility and sometimes it feels really hard, but Heavenly Father knows what we`re capable of so much more than we do, and if we trust in Him and give it our all, He always helps us and blesses us in return.
So, the Elders have been busy showing us their area whenever there was time. Spending time with many Peruanos all at once gave me the great opportunity to practice my Spanish and accidently learn bad words….WHOOPS. For example, they have many words for “stupid” here, and mostly you can`t use them too often because they`re too strong. Hna. Knighton taught me the word “tonto” (and I learned this in the CCM, too), so sometimes I would say to myself “oh that`s stupid” and in this context it`s alright and Hna. Gonzales never corrected me. This one instance with our zone leaders, Elder Mori was telling us how he walked to his house in the rain on a rock road without his socks and shoes, so in my American humor I said “well that`s dumb” AND OH GOSH THAIR REACTIONS. I learned this was not an appropriate situation to use this word. Oh dear.
I also learned that Peruvian word for a swearword here because Elder Barrera was messing around in his made up “chi” language and we were all making fun of him then I tried to say something in “chi” and it turns out this meanssomething very bad in Peru! Thanks goodness we`re in Bolivia and there was only one church member with us at the time.
The other day the Elders also accompanied us to a lesson to give a blessing to a member and at the end of the lesson it started raining SUPER hard and we had to walk home. The roads were LITERALLY rivers. We got utterly soaked! And it says in the missionary handbook that the Elders should never accompany the sisers home, but I guess our zone leaders decided  it was too dangerous and so they ran us all the way to our house…haha.
One of the pleasures of Bolivian life: Pomegranates. They grow in the wild here. I`ve learned how to eat them like an apple now. 🙂
This morning we visited Fabiola and she dressed us up like Chapacas and we took pictures with her mom! It was so much fun.
I love you all! Take care. You`re all amazing.
Hna. Ius

Carnaval is OVer, POR FIN!

Hi everyone!

Carnaval is over AT LAST. It seriously got a little scary some days — I don´t like water balloons very much anymore! We spent three days in the casa and basically watched Disney movies and ate food all day, and the last day Hna. Pereira did all of our eyebrows so now we´re all super pretty, woohoo!
Fabiola and Pablo are for sure getting baptized this week, not sure if I already told all of you that. I´m so excited, Hna. Knighton and I found Fabiola Christmas day when we had no appointments and were just walking around all day! This family was definitely a Christmas miracle. It´s been so amazing to see hos they´ve changed and progressed, and are so willing to follow the Savior. I know that after their baptisms, their lives are going to change so much and Heavenly Father is going to flood them with blessings!
I celebrated my five month anniversay this week, I can´t believe it´s already been five months! In April, I´ll only have one year left, how terrible! And to think that I was worried that 18 months would seem like an eternity — I realize now that it´s not nearly enough time. I just hope to make the most of it and not waste a single second!
Last night, we had a Noche de Hogar with Carla and Chan, a family in the ward, and we made mom´s Best Ever Gotta Have Ém Brownies, and they were soooooooo good! They might just be the next big thing here….;-)
I love you all so much and I´m so grateful fo r your love and support everyday. I definitely have my moments when I can feel your prayers and I know that the Lord is here helping me in everything I do.
Have a great week everyone!
Hermana Ius

It’s Dangerous to go Outside!

Hola everybody!

Here in Bolivia, there´s a month long holiday called Carnaval. In the beginning, it´s not so bad, and you don´t even realize it´s a holiday. Then slowly, teenages start carrying around water balloons to throw at you, children have water guns, and people stand on their rooftops threatening to pour water on you if you walk beneath them. The other Thursday was Copadres, and there were a lot of drunk guys on the street in celebration of this. This Thursday was Comadres, AND IT WAS INSANE. We had literally just finished a lesson, were walking to another house, turned a corner to one of the small plazas in our area, and it was stock full of people smoking and drinking and dancing. My first thought: We´re living in Babilonia! Our area is literally the center of the city, which means on every corner there were groups of men and women drinking and smoking, plus it´s the tradition here to attack the ladies with water guns, balloons, and sprays. WE WERE TERRIFIED, and our appointment for the night fell through meaning we would have to stay outside, but there was no way we could contact anyone when they were all druink. Eventually we called out Zone Leaders and explained the situation to them, and they agreed that it would be much better for us to just go home early, which we promptly did. Anyway, Comadre´s isn´t even the worst part of Carnaval — Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday we have to stay inside all day because it´s just insane outside. Should be interesting! But literally, yesterday Hna. Gonzales and I were walking, looking for a reference, when a car drove by and the backseat inhabitants sprayed us in the face with their waterguns! It wasn´t that bad actually, but boy did it surprise us.
Well, last week we´d been talking with Fabiola a lot about baptism, but everytime we brought it up she told us she wasn´t ready, maybe in 6 months, so we decided that this week we would just focus on teaching her the lessons. We visit her everyday to read the Book of Mormon with her because she can´t read very well, and after one of these visits we asked her afterward how she like the Family Home Evening we had the other night. She told us she likes it very much, and that this Sunday they were going to stay all three hours of church, and the next Sunday she would get baptized. We were so shocked, and I wasn´t sure I understood, so I asked her to repeat it all over again. Sure enough, she want´s to get baptized! We were SO ESTATIC. The only thing is that she wants to get baptized with her husband Pablo, and he doesn´t know this yet, and he also hasn´t received all the lessons, so we´re scurrying to teach him everything. Yesterday, we visited them with Hna. Rodríguez (our mission presedent´s wife), and Fabiola kept talking about how much they´ve changed since they´ve met us, how she´s staying true to her committments, and how she wants to go to the Temple and knows she needs to get baptized first. It was such a humbling experience to see how much an impact someone like me could have in their lives. Really, ity´s not me who´s changing them, it´s the gospel, it´s the Savior, and I´m just an instrument in His hands. Sometimes in the mission it´s really hard to see the fruits of your labors, and we had a lot of days this week where we were just knocking on doors and where all of our appointments fell through, but Heavenly Father is working miracles through us yet!
Well, I love you all so much and I´m so grateful for your love and support. You won´t be getting an email from me next week because of Carnaval, so you´ll all just have to hang on until the week after!
Hna. Ius

Tender Mercies

Hi everybody!

This week has definitely been a long one. It´s my first time leading my area and also training, that plus my need to still learn spanish = slightly stressed Hna. Ius. I really felt like I was working harder than ever and we weren´t seeing any blessings or benefits, but as I look back on the week I can see how we accomplished something good everyday. We practiced knocking on a looooot of doors this week! I have yet to meet a missionary that actually loves knocking on doors, but we met some really nice people. One in particular was this lovely lady who was all like, “Yeah, you girls can pass by for me anyday, everyday! I´m always here!” That made me super happy. We also were finally able to give a Book of Mormon to one of our investigators, Villa. She´s super wonderful and her reaction when we handed her the book? Priceless. We also found, at last, one family that we´ve been passing for since the beginning of my mission, and we set up an appointment with them! Woohoo! We also found an old investigator and visited with her for a little bit, and at the end, she asked us when we could return. Tender mercies….
Well, I hope you´re all doing okay! I love you all very much.
Hna. Ius

Many, Many Miracles

Hi everybody!!

This week has literally just flown by, and I can´t believe it´s already Monday again. We had a worldwide missionary conference on Wednesday, where they announced some new changes to the missionary schedule and the key indicators. It was crazy, and now we have two extra hours of P-day time, aka two more hours to attempt napping.
Also, on Friday, we all went to Santa Cruz to have a conference with Elder Cook! It was fantastic! The meeting was Saturday morning which is why we left Friday night. At the conference, Elder Cook insisted on shaking all of our hands, so I guess you could say that I´m basically friends with him now. 🙂 Haha but seriously, I loved that meeting so much. The spirit was so strong and at the very end, he bore his testimony to us and every single missionary started crying. After hearing him speak, there is not a doubt in my soul that he is prophet, seer, and revelator.
I had another really amazing experience while I was in Santa Cruz. Since we had a few extra hours there on Friday, we went on divisions with other Hermanas. At the end of the day, I was waiting with Hna. Merejilda to meet back up with Hna. Knighton and Hna. Vega when a man approached us and told us that there was a woman sitting on a park bench crying and we should talk to her. We had no idea who this man was, but we followed his advice and went to talk to the woman. As soon as we introduced ourselves, the phone rang and Hna. Merejilda had to answer it, leaving me alone to talk to this crying woman. Needless to say, I felt incredibly awkward, what with my imperfect spanish and the situation. However, I sat next to this lady on the bench and shared with her that through our Savior, we can always be happy, and I gave her a pamphlet and taught her about prayer. It was very simple, but I felt the spirit and in those two minutes of visiting with her, she managed to stop crying and was willing to learn more.
I just want to share my testimony with all of you that I know this church is true and that Christ is our Savior. I´m incredibly imperfect, but I have been working so hard to truly change and become more like my Savior, and I´ve really started to see how that has started to make all the difference in my life. I love this church and I know it´s true, and I encourage all of you to try and learn more about our Savior and what He can do for you.
Hna Ius

Guess Who’s Getting Baptized….

IGOR! That´s who´s getting baptized! Well, everything goes well, that is, haha. After trying different tactics of getting him to accept the gospel (because we´ve very sneaky), I had intercambios with Hna. Undurraga. It was an awesome day because I was able to lead my area and NOT get lost (arguably the biggest miracle of all), we also taught Igor a lesson that day and invited him to be baptized, this time with a date, and he said yes! We literally were dying from happiness. He still has a lot of questions, and doesn´t have a strong testimonv of a living prophet, but he knows the Book of Mormon is true, and that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and that he needs to get baptized. If everything goes as planned, his baptismal service will be this Saturday, 28 of January. Woohoo! It´s honestly such a miracle because Hna. Knighton has been teaching him since August and we´ve all been so worried that he just wasn´t progressing, we even talked about the possibility of having to drop him, but the Lord never gives up on us, so we decided never to give up on him! Just this past Sunday when we saw them in church, I could see how happy he and his wife were. The gospel really blesses families.

Hna. Knighton and I hosted an activity at the church, a movie night where we watched The Testaments. We spent the whole day making pizzas with our pensionista Andrea. I had the recipe, Hna. Knighton had experience, and Andrea had an oven, so all in all it turned out well. The activity was a huge success, a lot of people came, including Maria Belen! She told us afterwards that she had actually cried (yo también), and we just felt so happy that she was able to feel the spirit so strongly.
Last Monday, we visited Mabel again and taught her how to pray in English. At the end of the lesson, we transcribed a prayer she wanted to say that went something along the lines of, “Thank you for sending me the sister missioneries. Please bless me with wisdom to understand thy word and this message.” Her prayer was so simple, but the spirit filled the room as she humbly prayed, and I almost started crying. She was smiling so big at the end, and told us we could visit her everyday if we wanted to because she likes us so much. What a miracle! Except she´s super busy so we don´t get that opportunity very often, but whatever!
This week has been so amazing and I´m so grateful to be here in Bolivia. I´´ve had so many opportunities this past week to see the gospel really touch and change people. I think sometimes we take for granted the blessings we have in our lives, and we forget how much we have to thank Heavenly Father for. The church is true, and Heavenly Father loves and blesses his children so much. It´s a promise in the scriptures that he willl take care of us, and though sometimes life has its challenges and we may wonder where exactly are those blessings, never, ever doubt that they will come.
I love you all so much!
Hna. Ius

Happy Happy Happy!

Hi everybody!

This week went by so fast, I can hardly believe it´s P-Day once again. Some loco things have happened — Monday night, we got a phone call that there were emergency transfers and that Hna. Alarcon would be finishing her training in Santa Cruz. We were so sad, so to “celebrate her memory” we had a last supper. Weirdly, though, the Assistants had no idea there were emergency transfers, and she waited forever to get the information for her flight  plans, which came one hour before she was supposed to leave the next day. So why were there emergency transfers? Well, let me just say this: BE OBEDIENT. ALWAYS. It´s really the key to everything.
So Raymi, Rossio´s nephew, returned home to Cochabamba and we were so sad, but we got to have a farewell lunch with him so that was nice. It was so amazing to see the change in him — he went from Atheist to Christian with us, thanks to his desire to read and pray. His mom is anti-Mormon (or was), but when we met her she was relly open to us and it was so much fun talking to her — she even showed us videos of Raymi singing and dancing! He´s only 15, but apparently he has a TV show or some sort of program that they aire in Cochabamba…que loco! But we really got so close to him while he was here, like a younger brother, and he told Rossio that after our missions we have to reconnect! Also, after we left, he kept telling his mom all about the Restoration and the Plan of Salvation, and his mom was really intrigued by it all. As much as I want to take the credit for helping this kid come to Christ, I can´t, because all we did was give him a Book of Mormon and teach him lessons. His development is because of his faith and thanks to the Lord.
The other day I had to take care of some immigration stuff, so in the morning, the other gringos and I went to go give blood. As I we were waiting on the bench, we hear a voice from inside yell, “He´s going to faint!” and then thud. Poor Elder Gooch, he came out utterly pale and soaked in sweat. I didn´t pass out, but I got a little weasy. Afterwards we bought salteñas though, so I turned out okay.
I also got my slightly belated Christmas package! I was so happy I cried a little bit.
Yesterday we taught a lesson with Presidente and Hna. Rodríguez again, and I was so nervous. It ended up going so well though, and the Spirit was so strong. At the end, Presidente and Hna. Rodríguez congratulated me on how much my Spenish has imprpved. I taught a lesson with them my very first week here and haven´t spoken to them since, but they were so impressed but how much I´ve learned since then. Hna. Knighton was so proud of me and told me that I didn´t make a single mistake when I talked, a miracle that lasted only the length of that lesson haha! But I really just felt so happy haering that from them, and knowing that I am progressing, whether or not I see it.
There´s a new rule in the mission that we have to live in our area, so now Hna, Knighton and I are househunting in our spare time, woohoo!
Yesterday during church a stray dog wandered into the building, and Hna. Knighton and I were the only people that rtied to get rid of it. However, the dog ended up coming back during Consejo de Barrio and took a nap right behind the Bishop´s chair. I love this country.
Love you all!
Hna. Ius