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

Rain or Shine, We’re Missionaries!

Hi everybody!

I hope you´re all doing well. The weeks are starting to go by a lot quicker now, and I`m not sure if that´s a good thing or a bad thing.
Last Monday we had a zone activity to a waterfall, Cuimata, and oh my gosh it was sooooooo beautiful! And a TON of fun. Hna. Knighton and I pinky promised to return one day. I took so many pictures and I genuinely hope every single one of you get to go there one day, it was a dream. We also all got a little bit of the feels to go swimming, but the closest anyone got to that was Hna. Bustamante who decided to soak her hair in order to cool off.
After the activity we went out proselyting, and literally no one was home and our appointments fell through. It was super discouraging, but then a bird pooped on my skirt and Hna. Knighton and I just had to laugh because of the irony. The tender mercy was that the bird only `pooped on my skirt and not my head, woohoo!
It´s been raining so much here in Tarija. We were managing to go out unscathed, but the other day we got totally soaked and had no coats or umbrellas or nada, and had to wade through some ankle deep mud. All in all it was pretty fun, though, and fairly refreshing. On this particular day, we happened to walk part one of our investigadors, Sandr (married to recent convert Rossio), and he happened to be in booty shorts, running around doing errands! Hna. Knighton and I just about died. And then he saw us and was super excited, told us to beware Negrita (their dog) ,and then Negrita jumped onto Hna. Knighton, smearing mud all over her white blouse. We had to go home and change.
We had a lesson with Igor again, this time with Wipi, a returned missionary in the ward who LOVES to give waska (Quechuan word for “chastisement” accompanied by a swooping motion of the hand). He talked for a full two and half hours while we were there, and eventually we just had to leave because we wer going to miss our curfew. Later we found out that he ended up leaving at 11:30 at night…..yikes! That´s some hardcore waska. And then at 4:38 in the morning we get a text out of the blue from Igor saying he loves us, have a nice day, and he´ll see us at church on Sunday. We´re pretty sure he was drunk, and no, he did not come to church, but we did see him Sunday! He´s studing the doctrine, but Hna. Knighton and I have decided that we need to stop visiting them for a little bit because we´re just too casual with them and he needs to really study and pray. It´s kind of sad, but at the same time we really feel like he needs this and that it will be for his good.
Fabiola is a new investigator of ours, I believe I mentioned her last week or the week before. We had a really lovely lesson with her again this week, and even though her family lives in complete poverty, she gave us grapes and this other cool unique fruit. She´s so lovely. She told us at this lesson though that her 15 year old sister had been missing for two days, and they didn´t know where she was. When she came with us to church on Sunday (Yay!), she told us that they had found her. As it turns out, her sister had been incredibly drunk and passed out on the streets. For two. Days. And she´s only 15. That absolutely breaks my heart. However, Fabiola really enjoyed Sacrament and wants to return next week and stay the whole three hours, so hooray!
Saturday we met this awesome couple, Javier and Mabel! The Elders contacted them and gave us their reference. As it turns out, Javier is a taxi driver and he ended up driving the Elders one day. He recognized them because he had just recently seen The Other Side of Heaven, so thank you Disney for helping us get new investigators! Mabel is his girlfriend, they´re planning to get married in March. She is genuinely looking for the truth, and when we asked her if she has questions for us, she just told us “I just really want to learn more.” Well, perfect! Because we want to help you learn more! She´s been doing a bit of a religion hopping, trying to find what is true, and I´m just so thankful for the opportunity to help her. We´re also going to be teaching her English, so that ought to be interesting!
Whenever Hna. Knighton and I are having a hard day, Heavenly Father always sends us a sweet dog or a puppy. Yesterday, we literally had no appointments and had contacted just about everybody in our agenda before the day was halfway through, and we really didn´t know what to do. We´d been walking around the same street for three hours, but right after we made new plans for where to go, we saw the absolute smallest, cutest, most adorable puppy EVER. And the owners let us hold her. My soul sang with utter delight. Tender mercies indeed.
Thank you everybody for your love and support! I hope to hear from you all soon!
Hermana Ius

Happy New Year In Bolivia!

¡Feliz Año Nuevo!

I hope everyone had a wonderful New Years celebration. Remember how I told you all that Christmas Eve the fireworks display was insanely gorgeous? Well, THAT was absolutely NOTHING compared to the fireworks on New Years Eve. Like, nobody in our house slept at all because the noise was so loud! Hna. Knighton and I woke up because of it. I also have several videos of the display, so maybe some of you can get an idea for what it´s like here. But then we also couldn´t sleep because one of our neighbors decided to blast music from 2 AM all the way to the morning! Like, the music was still going on even as we got ready to go to church. Locos.
There were also many drunk people on the street, some passed out, others attempting to serenade shop owners in order to buy more alcohol. Haha!
New Years day we had lunch with the familia Aparicio, and Igor made what was literally the greatest steak I have EVER eaten in my life. He could make a vegan go cannibal, it was that amazing. He also made a ton of meat, all of which we miraculously managed to eat. I have no idea how. Anyway, I guess it´s a dream of Igor´s to open up a restaurant one day, so I told him to open one up next to my house because I never want to be without his food, and also because there is no Bolivian restaurant in Utah.
I´m still having steak dreams.
It was also Hna. Alarcon´s birthday yesterday, so we decorated the house and surprised her in the morning by throwing balloons on her. Yay! It was so much fun, and I also managed to get the only good picture with our sparklers.
I´ve also completed my first transfer here! Woohoo! There are new people in my zone now. This is also Hna. Knighton´s last transfer, and then she goes home! I´m so sad. She´s really been such a wonderful companion. Missionary work is hard but she makes it fun.
Yesterday we had lunch with the Elders at a members house, and it was very interesting. My zone leader just finished training a gringo companion, so he was telling me and Hna. Knighton what he did to teach his companion Spanish. I think he misses training a gringo. His idea to teach his companion Spanish was to talk really fast all the time, and I don´t know if he realizes that everyone learns differently and that talking fast doesn´t equal learning fast. Haha! Anyway, I´ve had a few breakthroughs with the language, the biggest one being that I realized that I need to stop stressing about learning it. I´ve been focusing too much on learning the language and planning what I´m going to say to people in my head before, but I need to worry more about our investigators, then the language. Since I´ve had this revelation, I´ve been putting so much more effort into thinking about Christ and thinking about what I want my investigators to know, and it´s been making a difference in our lessons and in my attitude. Hna. Knighton has a phrase that she always says: One thought of Christ can change everything! How right she is. I hope that all of you can make it your goal to think of Christ more often this year, before you get angry or frustrated or sad. I certainly hope to become more Christlike in everything I do!
Well everyone, that´s all for now! I hope you have the greatest new year of your life! I certainly intend to make this year count for me in every sense.
Hna. Ius
Pics (not in order): Hna. Alarcon´s birthday photo, the puppy I stole off the streets to take pictures with (IT¨S NOT A STRAY, WE KNOW THE OWNERS), me and a yummy cookie, night landscape of Tarija, and a picture of a tree I drew in Hna, Knighton´s scriptures Alma 32.

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