October 31, 2011

NOTHING is impossible with the Lord!

¡Hola otra vez!

I can´t believe it´s already Monday, the week went by so fast! To be completely honest, the first few weeks here in Pigüé have been a little bit rough since we are both new to the area. We have to take the time to get to know all the members, investigators, recent converts...and then gain their trust. It´s going to take time. The first 6 days here we did a lot of contacting and set up a lot of appointments, but every single one fell through. We´d show up to their house and either they wouldn´t be home or the would be "busy". Ugh. However, our first lesson was absolutely incredible!

The investigator´s name is V, and she has a pretty interesting story. She and her boyfriend have 5 kids. Her boyfriend´s sister is a recent convert in our branch, so that´s kinda how she found out about the church. When they came to church last Sunday she flat out said that she wasn´t really interested, she was only their for her kids and her boyfriend. But then when we went to go teach her, her perspective was completely different! They recently moved to Pigüé because it´s a better, more safer place to raise their kids. Before they moved here life was pretty rough. They were starting to do better financially so they got a car, but the day after they got all the insurance stuff squared away with it, it was lit on fire!! It was one awful thing after the next, but she said ever since they moved to Pigüé life has been better. The first day they were able to find a house to move into, her boyfriend got a job...they went to church...la vida esta buena! We went to her house planning on teaching the first lesson, but she and her 12 year old son had a lot of questions that we ended up answering. They are very ready for the gospel, and I am very excited to teach them. :)

Earlier this week our mission president called us and said he will be sending 2 more hermanas to Pigüé soon! (Probably next transfer or something) We´re very excited. Our branch is very small, but very strong. On Sunday we only had about 20 people that attended church. We could use more missionaries here.

Our mission president has promised us that if we work hard to baptize people, the one stake in Bahía Blanca will grow till we have 6 stakes. And he promised us that if we do that, one day we will get a temple in Bahía Blanca! I feel very privileged to be one of those that the Lord is trusting in to help build the church strong enough to have another temple. :)

I´m still loving Argentina! I can feel myself already getting absorbed into the culture and traditions of Argentines. They are a wonderful people. Most of the people here are Catholic...but they don´t really even know what that means. haha When we go to talk to people they recognize us as missionaries and pretty much always say something to the effect of: "I´m very catholic, I just don´t go to church." uhhh...? Argentines are big talkers though, so sometimes if we talk to them long enough we can talk them into sharing a message with them. :)

My Castellano can still use a lot of work, but I get better every day. It´s still hard to discern one word from another because they speak so fast! I just keep reminding myself that if Heavenly Father said Nephi could build a boat--I can learn Castellano! :) NOTHING is impossible with the Lord!

  • Argentines always have to greet every person and say good-bye to every one
  • It´s pretty much always windy in Pigüé  (I have to wear glasses most of the time)
  • When a car is for sale, they put an empty (or water filled) pop bottle on top of the car
  • Argentines always sing very loud, and very off key
  • Most common foods: meat, empanadas, Dulce de Leche, helado, mashed potatoes, pan! (bread)
  • I feel very tall
  • My apartment is very small and simple! "Very Argentine," my companion says. She also said this is the nicest apartment she´s had on her whole mission...hmm...not sure what I think about that! haha

  • Oh! I had this goal to use up all of the ink in a pen, because it would be proof of all of my hard work studying. :) I started using it in the MTC and it finally ran out this week so I had to get a picture with it. ha!

  • The first few nights in our apartment I didn´t sleep very well because I felt like I was sleeping on a bar. The second night I decided that I´d look under the mattress to see what was under there and I found a little ladder!! (Like for a bunk bed) I don´t know if the elders put it there for support or if it was like a prank they pulled on us like the story of the princess and the pea? Ha I guess I´m a princess!

I love you all!
-Hermana Vawdrey

October 24, 2011

Hola from ARGENTINA!

¡Familia y Amigos!

¡HOLA FROM ARGENTINA! Yes, I did arrive safely. Family, I´m sorry you never got an email from my mission president. I´m not sure what happened there...he took a picture of our travel group and all of us with our new companions, so I´m not sure what happened. But, I am doing great! I love Argentina!

The Elders and Hermanas that arrived with me to Bahía Blanca (with our Mission President and his wife)

It turns out that our flight from Atlanta to Buenos Aires was pretty much a miracle flight. A volcano erupted in Chile a few days previous, so all flights to Buenos Aires had been canceled. Our flight was the first one that was allowed to go. I guess the Lord really needs us in Argentina right now! :) The traveling itself was crazy. (Family, I was sad our phone call ended unexpectedly! What a rip! I was sad too that we didn´t get to have a real good-bye or a chance to bear my testimony in Español...but I just got word that for Christmas I am allowed to SKYPE! How awesome will that be? I´m already looking forward to it. :)

Okay, so the flight to Buenos Aires was ridiculously long. I didn´t really sleep much because I was so excited that I was finally going to Argentina! And those planes are never comfortable anyway... But, I lucked out and got to have a window seat.  My favorite was when we flew over Jamaica :) It popped out of nowhere and was just covered in lights. It was really cool to see from above. Anyway... so we landed safely in Buenos Aires, and we all got through customs without any problems. All of our luggage arrived too, so we were pretty excited. There was a man waiting for us as we were leaving the airport to help us with our next travels. We loaded up all our luggage into a van with windows covered up with cardboard (Awesome?) and then rode a bus to another airport where we would catch a plane to Bahía Blanca. We arrived at that airport and the travel guy helped us all get tickets. The only problem was that we barely missed our flight so we had another four hour layover. Uh! When we arrived at the airport in Bahía Blanca, our mission president, his wife, his daughter and the two zone leaders were waiting for us. They took us to the mission home, fed us dinner, and then gave us a place to stay for the night. (The hermanas stayed at Mission President´s house, and the elders stayed at a house down the street.) The only problem was that we didn´t have any of our stuff! It was all in that van on the way to Bahía Blanca! Ha. So we had to wear the same pair of clothes for 3 days! No bueno. The sweet mission president´s wife spoiled us though and got us a new pair of garments and let us shower and get all cleaned up. Finally!

The next day (Wednesday) we got our new companions and area assignments. My companion´s name is Hermana Freeman. She is from Arizona, is the second of 6 kids, and has been in Argentina for a year now. We get along great and I am excited to serve with her. She is a hard worker and I have already learned a lot from her.

Hermanas Vawdrey y Freeman

My area is called Pigüé (pronounced peeg-way). It is absolutely BEAUTIFUL! There are a lot of trees and parks, and the people are wonderful. Our apartment is on the top floor of the highest building in the city haha (Dad, It´s on Casey Ave if you want to try to find it on Google maps or whatever)

Inside our apartment

Our kitchen

When I first got to Argentina, everything felt very "baby" (as Kate Norma Beckstrand would say). You see LOTS of little cars and lots of old trucks. I love it! Nothing is any bigger than it needs to be. Most houses are only one story, and everything is very simple. Most of the streets here in Pigüé are cobblestone. :)

I´m definitely not in Kansas anymore. Or Utah, or the United States for that matter! But I love Argentina!! I absolutely love the people...just not how fast they speak. haha I think they speak 1,000 miles per hour. Actually, probably 5,000 miles per hour :) I don´t understand much, but each day I make improvement. Pigüé has about 15,000 people. Our mission president refers to Pigüé as 15,000 potential baptisms. :) Our weekly mission standard is one baptism a week! I am really excited about that. It will take a lot of hard work, but the people are very ready for the gospel. We are the first hermanas to serve here in 20 years! I´m honored for the opportunity to serve here. The area is small. There is a small branch in Pigüé, but the members are strong, and we have many potential investigators. It will take a while to get going since we are going in "blind" (both of us are new to this area). My favorite though is our view from the balcony in our apartment. Since we are on the tenth floor we can pretty much see all of Pigüé! :) Every time I look out there I think of all the people that need the gospel. I can´t wait to give it to them!

View from apartment
View from apartment

View from apartment
View from apartment

Well my time is short. I´m so sorry. We have an hour on the computers every Monday from 5-6. Email is probably the best form of communication, but it´s only for immediate family...then it takes up my email time too. :s But other than that the pouch mail and dearelder.com is a great way to send mail. (Only dearelder has a 2 week delay. I guess that´s the price I pay for being in another country!) Packages are expensive to pick up I guess, but if they are 4lbs or less you avoid the extra fee.

I hope all is well! The church is true! It´s true in Argentina, in the United States, and everywhere else!

Mucho amor,

Hermana Vawdrey

October 13, 2011

Knowledge comes from "time to time"

Hola Amigos!

Last Thursday I got my travel plans!! It seriously felt like Navidad. It's definitely down to wire now because I'll be leaving the country in CUATRO DIAS! I don't think I could be more excited. I'm trying not to get "trunky" because my last days here are important. I want to make sure that I am prepared. I don't want to have any regrets.

As a district we are striving to speak todo Español all day long. It's really hard, but it helps me realize how much Español I really do know. Now it's up to me to practice it so that I can conjugate everything correctly into the different tenses. We have now covered all of the grammar lessons that are expected to be taught at the MTC, so we are starting to teach each other during class to further engrain the principles into our heads. I have been reminded time and time again that it is such a miracle that missionaries can leave the MTC after only 9 weeks of studying a language...and be ready enough to go out into the world to teach the gospel! I know my Español is far from perfect and it will take awhile to get there, but I know the Lord doesn't expect us to be perfect all at once. Like it says in D&C 1:28:

"And inasmuch as they were humble they might be made strong, and blessed from on high, and receive knowledge from time to time."

-Notice that it doesn't say that we will receive knowledge all at once. It says we will receive it from "time to time!" I need to be humble. We need to be humble! I know that as we are humble the Lord has promised us that He will bless us and help us become strong. The catch is that this will happen on the Lord's time: from "time to time", not on our time when we think it's right.

I've thought about this a lot this week. I am no perfect missionary, I am no perfect teacher, and my Español is definitely not perfect...but I am trying. I've realized that the people of Argentina don't need a perfect missionary to teach them. They need a real person. They need someone who is also struggling to try to do their best. Life is the exact same way. If we were perfect, if everything in our lives were perfect, there would be no reason in being here on Earth! The Lord sent us here to learn and grow, to struggle and to succeed--and to have the opportunity to turn to Him for help and guidance. I know He is always there to help us. He wants to help us, we just need to let him.

On Tuesday Julie B. Beck spoke at the devotional! She is such a wonderful speaker. I love her, and what she has done for the women of the world and for the other members of the church. She talked about how important it is to love your companion, to love your mission president, and to love the people. I'm realizing that more and more every day. Love is the answer to everything! Charity: the pure love of Christ can solve every problem. If we could only view each person as the Lord does, as his precious sons and daughters, our thoughts, our words and our actions would be completely different.

Yesterday my companionship was asked to demonstrate teaching in front of all the new missionaries. I felt so honored to receive the invitation because we were selected out of lots of missionaries! There have been many moments over the past week when I have felt very inadequate to go to a completely different country, speaking a new language...but then the Lord keeps giving me opportunities like this that make me realize that I am completely capable. Our lesson went pretty well. Our instructions before we went in were to get to know the person and start teaching a lesson--and he would stop us whenever we got to a point where they were starting to grasp the principle we were teaching, and then he would turn it over to the new missionaries to teach. Well...we got to know her, said a prayer and then they stopped us! I was so sad because I wanted to teach her more so bad! (She's from Guatemala...and it turns out that she was a REAL investigator!) BUT! The fact that he stopped our teaching so quick was a huge compliment because we got to a good teaching point really quickly!  :)

Hermanas Vawdrey, Griffin, and Baker

It's interesting that even though it's been 8/9ish weeks in the MTC, our trio still struggles with having a balance of who's teaching. I think that's just the curse of trios. However, I'm SO grateful for both of my companions! I'm so grateful for their patience with me. They have taught me so much. It's going to be hard to start over with a new companionship, but I guess I better get used to that!

I'm so grateful to be a part of God's Army spreading the gospel. I know it's true.

Mucho amor!
-Hermana Vawdrey

October 6, 2011

It's black or it's white. It's wrong or it's right.

Hola! Hola!

Dad, you ran a marathon this past weekend, but I feel like I have just ran a spiritual marathon! It has been the greatest week. I'm exhausted, but I have so much joy right now. I have learned so much. General Conference was awesome, wasn't it? I loved each and every talk. I think I took like 15 pages of notes in my little notebook :) I felt like every speaker was talking specifically to me, and there was so much that was said that I want to teach to my future investigators in Argentina. After one of the sessions on Saturday, there was a prayer said that really touched me. He specifically blessed those who had not yet heard the messages of the prophet and the apostles. He blessed them to be touched by the spirit and that they would feel of the truthfulness of the message. I immediately thought of my investigators that I will teach. That blessing includes them! It's neat to think that others are already praying for them. The Lord truly is constantly preparing his children to be ready to receive the gospel.

General Conference - October 2011

L. Tom Perry's talk was one of my favorites. I loved the warnings and counsel he gave to us. He is truly a powerful speaker. During his talk I was sitting in the bleachers of the big gym here at the MTC, and the floor was literally shaking from his words! I know prophets are called of God, and in that moment I knew that was the Lord's voice coming out of his mouthpiece--an apostle. He talked about how important it is to share our testimony. We should never be ashamed to tell others about Jesus Christ's church. So often people learn from our examples of the testimonies that we live, but when they are ready to hear more we need to be prepared to teach them! When we bear our testimonies they will feel the spirit and it will testify of the truthfulness of your words. It's important to be bold. The gospel is either completely true or completely not. It's black or it's white. It's wrong or it's right. It's of God or it's of Satan. I know it's completely true. I know it's "white." It know it's right, and I know it's of God. I wouldn't go all the way down to Argentina for 18 months to preach a lie!

Speaking of Argentina, I get my travel plans TODAY! I'm freaking out. I'm so excited. I only have 11 more days left at the MTC--which is absolutely terrifying since I have so much more to learn, but I am so excited to leave and go in to the field! We celebrated our eighth week at the MTC yesterday, and I can hardly believe it has been that long already.

Sorry that my email is a little short this week, but I hope you all are doing well! Thanks for all of the prayers and support. Have a wonderful week :)

-Hermana Vawdrey


-Carrie Helland & Sister Shannon Carlston: I hope you both had a wonderful birthday! I love you :)

-Jessica Garlick DYER! Congrats on your wedding on Saturday! I wish you the best. And thanks SO much for sending me an announcement. I loved it. It was funny because a few weeks ago I was thinking how I needed to contact you somehow to request an announcement, and then the next day it came in the mail!

-Randy, thanks for that email you shared this week. It's great to hear that you're doing missionary work out there in Pokey. Oh by the way, I met a sister here the other day who you had helped before at your clinic. I don't remember her name, only that she is going somewhere Korean speaking. She has short brown hair and black rimmed glasses. I don't know if you'll even remember her by that, but she sure had some great things to say about you! Whether you're talking about the gospel or not, you're doing a lot of good :)

-To those of you thinking about serving a mission...stop thinking! Do it! I promise you that you won't regret it. It has the possibility of being the hardest two years (or 18 months) of you life, but I promise you that it will be the best two years (or 18 months) for your life.