March 25, 2013

This is it!!

Friends and followers of Hermana Vawdrey's blog,

The hour is approaching!! 41 hours and counting...and yes, we are counting!

Brittni has truly given her whole heart to HIM as a full-time missionary. We are so proud of her and the efforts she has made in His service. We thank each of you for the positive influence and support you have extended to her through the last 19+ months. She will begin her travels home tomorrow and we will reunite with her on Wednesday.

Details of when she will be invited to speak in her home Sacrament Meeting will be posted once she comes home--we will let her be the one to invite you, but know that you are each welcome to come and support her, and to give her that long, overdue hug. 

Hurrah for Israel!
Steve and Jen Vawdrey and family

March 18, 2013

The last full week of my mission

Familia y amigos,

Today I start the last week of my mission. What?! Like Alma said in the Book of Mormon, "I cannot say the smallest part which I feel." My mission has been an experience that has changed me. It has changed me for good. I left on my mission with a strong testimony, and now I finish with an even stronger testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The principles of the Gospel are engraven upon my soul. I have experienced such great joy that causes me to not even be able to “say the smallest part which I feel.” I've gone through good times and hard times, but I'm grateful for all of it, because I got to know my Savior. I know Him! And I can honestly say that He is my best friend. He has been at my side every day and at every single moment. He has never left me, and I know He will never leave. He patiently waits for us when we struggle, and He cheers us on until we have the success that we desire. I'm grateful for His love. I'm grateful for the Atonement that He endured so that we can live with Him again.

This week I had a really neat experience that I want to share with you. To do so, I'll have to back-track a couple of months. One morning back in December I was studying in Preach My Gospel. I read a part that talked about the importance of sharing why you decided to serve a mission. I remember at the end of my study, I prayed to the Lord that he would bless me with an opportunity to share why I decided to serve a mission. That same day, Hermana Gallegos and I stopped at the church in between appointments to use the bathroom. As we were leaving, a young lady was coming in. She looked at me in the eye and asked, ¿Can I ask you why you decided to serve a mission? I couldn't believe it. The Lord answered my prayer that very day!

I began to tell her how I sadly never really planned to go on a mission. I wanted to serve a mission in the future with my spouse, but I wanted to graduate college, get married and start a family. In November 2011, I was going through a tough time and I asked my dad for a father's blessing. He told me to not forget about the option of serving a mission. I remember being frustrated because that was not the answer I wanted at that time. However that blessing planted the seed. I kept the thought of serving a mission at the back of my mind for several months. By the time General Conference came around, I decided to pray about it for good to see if that was what the Lord wanted me to do. It was interesting because during the entire conference, there was never a talk specifically on missionary work. Yet the entire time I felt a burning desire in my heart to serve a mission. I realized how much I love my Heavenly Father and my Savior. And what do you do when you love the Lord? You serve Him by serving your fellow men!

I remember how anxious I was waiting for the perfect moment to announce my decision to my family. And my brother Brian's arms opened wide as if I had just scored the most phenomenal touchdown for the Lord. To this day I have never regretted that decision. I love being a representative of Jesus Christ. I love that I get to dedicate all of my time to help my brothers and sisters learn more about the Restoration and the Plan of Salvation.

As I shared my experience with this young woman, tears started to stream down her face. All she could say was thank you! ¡Gracias! ¡Gracias! She told us that she was thinking about serving a mission and she was at the church to have an interview with the Bishop to get his opinion of whether or not she should go.

On Tuesday I happened to run into this young woman again at the church. She ran up to me, hugged me, and thanked me again for sharing my experience. She then told me that she was at the church to have her final interview with the stake president so that she could finish her mission papers. I'm humbled to know that I was able to be an instrument in the Lord's hands to help another one of his daughters prepare to serve a mission.

Testimony in Spanish
No sé si tendré tiempo en la semana que viene para escribir, así que quiero compartir mi testimonio de que sé que la Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Últimos Dias es la iglesia verdadera. Yo he llegado a conocer la verdad de muchas cosas durante mi misión mediante el Espíritu Santo, porque Él realmente es la manera que Dios ha preparado para conocer su Evangelio. Sé que el Libro de Mormón es verdadero. Contiene la plenitud del evangelio y el "hombre se acercaría más a Dios al seguir sus preceptos que los de cualquier otro libro." (La introduccion del LdM) El Libro de Mormón habla a mi alma cada vez que lo leo, y yo siempre deleito mucho en leerlo. Tengo testimonio de que José Smith era profeta. Mediante de Él, El Señor restauró el Evangelio y hoy día tenemos la misma autoridad y la plenitud de la iglesia que Jesucristo estableció. Estoy re contenta para decir que soy miembro de la iglesia y sé que aunque no soy perfecta, algún día, mediante la expiación de Jesucristo puedo volver y vivir con mi hermano Jesucristo y mi Padre Celestial. Así que "por lo tanto, gloriémonos, sí, me gloriaré en el Señor; sí, me regocijaré porque es completo mi gozo mío; sí, alabaré a mi Dios para siempre. He aquí, ¿quién puede gloriarse demasiado en el Señor? Sí, ¿y quién podrá decir demasiado de su gran poder, y de su misericordia y de su longanimidad para con los hijos de los hombres? He aquí, les digo que no puedo expresar ni la más mínima parte de lo que siento." (Alma 26:27)

English Translation
I don't know if I will have time next week to write, so I want to share my testimony now that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true church. I have come to know the truth of many things during my mission through the Holy Ghost, because he really is the way that God helps us understand His Gospel. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. It contains the fullness of the Gospel, and 'man would come closer to God by following its precepts than any other book' (the introduction of the Book of Mormon). The Book of Mormon speaks to my soul each time I read it, and I greatly delight in reading it. I am a witness to the fact that Joseph Smith was a prophet. Through him The Lord restored the Gospel and today we have the same authority and the fullness of the church that Jesus Christ established. I am so happy to say that I am a member of the Church, and although I am not perfect, some day, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ I can go back and live with my brother Jesus Christ and my Heavenly Father. So 'yes, I will glory in the Lord; yes, I rejoice because my joy is full; yes, I will praise my God forever. Behold, who can boast too much in the Lord? Yes, but who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy and kindness to the children of men? Behold, I tell you that I cannot express the slightest part of what I feel." (Alma 26:27)

I love you all! Hope you're well! Have a good week. :)
-Hermana Vawdrey

The little brother of one of my Mar del Plata converts

He was baptized shortly after I was transferred out of Mar del Plata

This cute boy was baptized last Saturday.
He attended his uncle's baptism a few weeks ago and felt the
Holy Ghost. He wanted to feel this spirit all the time and
chose to follow his uncle's example and be baptized as well. :)

One of our sweet investigators from the Dominican Republic

I love this little family! The cute little boy wants to get baptized.

March 11, 2013

Last Zone Meeting

Hellooo everyone!

Time is flying. It's already Monday! What?! Mom! I received your Valentine's Day package. Thank you! That was quite the package! Hermana Rodriguez and I were really excited.

We had a really great week, and once again we witnessed many miracles. On Tuesday we had a Zone Meeting, and since it was the last zone meeting of the transfer, all of the missionaries that finish their missions at the end of the transfer were asked to bear their testimonies. That was such an incredible experience. There are six of us in our zone that finish their missions this transfer. The spirit was incredibly strong and it was neat to see how converted we have all become as a result of trying to invite people to come unto Christ. (Hello, run-on sentences! Sorry. That's how they speak here in Argentina.) It truly was a moment I will never forget. It was neat to reflect on the progress that we have made in every aspect of our lives. One Elder talked about how we go home as different people. It's true. I'm still Brittni Vawdrey. But, I'm not the same person I was when I came on my mission. But I'm the new and improved! And as horribly sad as it is that our full-time mission is coming to an end, our missions don't end. As members of the Church we are missionaries every day of our lives. It's just time to change the location. The Lord needs us to be in other places, doing other things so that we can continue to help Him bring all of His children unto Christ.

Another day this week we had quite the adventure because there was another big storm. It didn't rain much, but the wind was out of control! Which isn't that pleasant when you have to walk around in a skirt all day. haha. Because of the wind it ended up cutting out the lights! We got to our apartment one night and had to plan by candle night. :) It was funny because the lights came back on at about 10:25, and we go to bed at 10:30. So we had 5 minutes of light before we had to turn it out again. :)  But it was a good experience to realize just how blessed we are to have light and electricity. For example, instead of taking the elevator we had to hike all of the windy stairs. God has a funny sense of humor sometimes to help us remember just how blessed we are, right?

We found several great new investigators this week. And N came to church! It was such a miracle! I wish I had time to tell you all the details. I just have to say that when we give the Lord our hearts, when we do absolutely everything in our power, He does the rest. :)

I know the gospel has been restored. We have the fullness of the gospel on the earth today, and it will never be taken away again! I love my Savior. I know He lives. I know the Lord hears and answers every prayer. We are children of God and we have so much divine potential that we can't even comprehend it. Only because the Lord loves us, and wants us and trusts in us to accomplish great things. So. Keep doing those great things that you're doing. You're making the Lord proud!

Family, I love you! I hope you have a great week! Les quiero mucho!
-Hermana Vawdrey

As a request from the Mama, here are some fun facts/quirks about Argentina:

  • People here in Barrio Pueyrredón love Backstreet Boys. And AC/DC. ha Dad, it makes me think of random times driving in "Gus" when we would listen to AC/DC on the way to the boy's sports games. Good times!
  • Floppy hair! Oh my. I've never seen so many loose, floppy ponytails in my life! And it's always right on top of their head! ha I get a kick out of it.
  • Umm Fashion, (because I naturally notice that) saggy crotch pants are every where. "Pantalones feos" is what I call them. They're so ugly I got a pair because they'll be fun to use for some costume parties in the future.
  • Argentines LOVE stickers! They put them on everything. Phones, computers, cars, wallets, etc.
  • Pan. Argentines cannot live one day without eating their pan (bread)/ They eat bread every day. And it's funny because when it's served they almost never put it on their plate, it always goes on the table.
  • They are so direct! If you look fat, have a bad hair day, etc. they tell you! It's like Grandpa Jon. hahah No filter. ;)

But I love these people. I want you to know that.

Brian Edwards! HELLO!! I got your letter! How great to hear from you. :) I meant to write to you quite a while ago, but I figured you had moved already from the previous apartment address. I hope you're enjoying your internship-trip thing in New York!

Hermana Rodriguez and me
Thanks for sending new socks, Mom. This is what I was wearing!
So pretty before it rains. The sky is huge here without mountains.

March 5, 2013

I LOVE the Book of Mormon!

Family and Friends,

Again, my heart is full. To quote an investigator, "I am in LOVE with the Book of Mormon." It is true! It penetrates my heart and allows the Lord to communicate to me in a way that no one else can. It was a hard week, but it was possible because of all of the encouragement, faith, hope, and "love notes" that the Lord helped me find this week in the Book of Mormon. I know I can always find them there.

Yesterday we witnessed a miracle. Remember last week when I told you about J? He's the "tough guy with long, shoulder-length, curly hair, piercings, beard, tattoos, etc. Not anymore! He came to church yesterday in a white shirt and tie. He borrowed his friend's dress shoes and polished them up all nice. And, he cut his hair!! Wow. I wish I had a before and after picture. It makes me think of the movie "The Other Side of Heaven" when they find the drunk less-active guy and clean him up and bring him to church. That's totally how it was! J was grinning from ear to ear the whole time. He talked to the bishop and he has the goal to get the Aaronic Priesthood in the next little bit. Incredible. No one is ever too far off the path of the gospel to be able to be cleaned up, forgiven, and changed through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I know that my Redeemer lives. Because if it wasn't for him, we would never be able to see these moments of immense joy.

I don't know what it is, but Hermana Rodriguez and I have a talent for finding investigators with really interesting situations and doubts. haha Presidente Parreño came with us yesterday to a lesson to help us try to re-activate an RM/ex-obispo (bishop). And well...that was intimidating. What do you do/say during a lesson when your MISSION PRESIDENT is sitting next to you?! But the Lord comforted me through the Holy Ghost and we had all of the words and direction we needed for that lesson. It went really well.

We're working with another investigator that was going to an evangelical church before, but she had a really bad experience because the people judged her because of her poverty. Sad. We've been able to practice charity, and I've been able to witness that charity, the pure love of Christ that truly heals every problem and every situation. It's interesting because in these past few weeks the Lord has really pushed me out of my comfort zone. We've taught investigators that have concerns or doubts that I've never had before. It's blessed us with the opportunity to consult with the Lord and receive personal revelation of how we can help his children come back unto him. And it's made me remember something that Hermana Juli Jensen once told me. "No one really knows how to be a good missionary. You just have to try." That's some serious wisdom there. No one really knows! No one really knows how to be a perfect father, perfect teacher, etc. You just have to try! And somehow in the middle of all the trying, the effort, sweat and tears, we figure it out.

I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true! The teachings and the doctrine are perfect--not us. We're all just trying to figure it out, little by little, precept by precept.

Family, I love you. Thanks for all that you do. Have a great week!

-Hermana Vawdrey