Monday, January 28, 2013

Letter # 20 01/28/13

Querida Familia,

Today my companion and I visited the catholic cathedral in the middle of our zone to take a look around. It was really neat but I couldn't help but feel uneasy. However, I was impressed by the people praying in the chapel. These people have real dedication. I thought about the scripture that says many are kept from the truth because they know not where to find it. I would add that some are kept from the truth because they think they already have.

Uruguayos talk A LOT. Hermana Vargas and I have been working on interrupting. It's really hard for me, because I feel so irritated when people interrupt me, but I'm getting better. There are a few signs to watch for in order to tell when you need to cut in. Generally, it's when they start repeating themselves. They can talk and talk and talk themselves into a deeper pit if we don't save them. The following are a few phrases that serve as red flags for interruption:
"Soy Catolico..." ("I'm catholic")
"Tengo fe-- tengo MUCHO fe..." ("I have faith-- I have a LOT of faith...")
"...pero respeto todas las religiones..." ("... but I respect all religions...")
"No soy por ir a la capilla y todo..." ("I don't like going to church...")

These, among others, are the phrases that we hear at least 3 times each every day.

Hope you all are well. Love you forever.

Hermana Phillips

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Letter # 19 01/22/13

Dear Family,

I´m sorry to hear that you guys are sick. That´s miserable. But Michelle, HAPPY BIRTHDAY (I´m really late, I know, but I did remember on the 13th!). Also, congratulations on your test! That´s awesome!

The more I am on my mission, the more I realize that I don´t actually have control over anything. This isn´t even MY mission. The only thing I have agency in are the rules of the mission. If I keep the rules the way they were intended to be kept, the Lord is going to take care of everything else. He is aware of us in every situation. We only control ourselves. For example, we have not had investigators in church for about 4 weeks now. This is bad. If they don´t come to church it doesn´t matter how often we visit them or how spiritual the lessons are-- they´re not going to get baptized. Hermana Vargas and I were making some contacts yesterday morning and met a lady in a bit of distress. We stopped her and asked  if we could help her with anything. She rapidly explained that she had to go to the store to buy something and couldn´t talk just then but if we could please stop by her house later she wanted to listen to us. She was having "muchas problemas" with her "pareja" (partner) and was really desperate for help. So we passed by that evening. Like many of the people here, she lives in one room with a small yard shared with her many neighbors. There was loud rhythmic music blaring from next door. We sat outside and had a charla (lesson) about the law of chastity and how it could help her. She said that she loves her boyfriend, but he hits her and she wants to leave him. She has a 15 year old son with another man. She has been married and divorced. We challenged her to be baptized and she accepted gladly.

As we walked away from the house we looked at each other with the same thought: This wasn´t us. It was all Heavenly Father.

The law of chastity is something rarely practiced here. Children are brought up to break it. My companion and I were sitting on a curb to eat some dinner one evening, and some kids of some inactive members sat down to talk to us. We asked them why they weren´t in church last Sunday, and they said they were too tired. I asked when they went to bed, and they told us they play all night until 5 in the morning!!! I was horrified. These little girls are 7- 10 years old and they proceeded to tell me about their "amigovios" (a mixture of the word amigo for friend and novio for boyfriend) We had a brief talk about chastity, in which my beloved and direct companion told them that anyone who gets pregnant before they´re married is going to be alone. You should have seen their faces...

That´s all I have time fore. I love you. Take care of yourselves, and more importantly, take care of each other.

Love you forever,
Hermana Phillips

Monday, January 14, 2013

Pictures: Florida

Letter #18 01/14/13

Dear Family,
There's not much to report this week. I've been feeling kind of down for the past couple of days, so I'll just talk about Uruguay.

We check our email in "el cyber" where there are about 15 ancient computers for public use. The same soundtrack plays with anouncements on repeat about every two minutes.

As you walk down the street in the middle of Florida, every once in a while cars pass that blast public announcements and business advertising. Right now one jingle is stuck in my head: "¡Vamos a la playa, oh, oh-oh-oh-oh!" ("Lets go to the beach!") Everyone is at the beach for the holidays still, including two of our most promising investigators, and things are pretty dead. People leave for weeks!

Hermana Vargas and I have been feeling inspired that we need to concentrate on finding potential priesthood holders to teach. We've been praying about it and asking everyone if they know anyone (along with asking for all other references). A few days ago we were trying to track down one of our recent converts who is now completely inactive, Pablo. Apparently with the previous missionaries, he walked up to them and asked, "what do I need to do to be a mormon?" So he was baptized a week later with only attending church once and without having been taught things like the Plan of Salvation and Tithing, according to the teaching record. So we were trying to find him and instead found his younger brother, Gonzalo, who we are now teaching. During our next attempt to find him we found another younger brother, Sebastian, who is also awesome and whom we are also now teaching. We asked in this lesson how many siblings they actually had. 7 sons of priesthood age. So that's an answer to a prayer that is going to be our project for a while!

There are a LOT of religious groups here. The ones that have the deepest hold are Evangelicals, a church called Cristo Vive, and Testigos de Jeovah (Jehovah Witnesses). While I'm fuzzy on the specific doctrine of each one, I am becoming familiar with the specific type of person each attracts. Everyone that we've met in Cristo Vive, for example, are single women above the age of 55. Everyone else is Catholic. Last week we accidentally interrupted an Evangelical meeting. They were nice and we explained a few of the doctrines they asked us about. They make me nervous, though.

I love you!

Hermana Phillips

Monday, January 7, 2013

Letter #17 01/07/13

Mi Querida Familia,
This week has been really hard. I have never had such a hard time fasting. Hermana Vargas and I usually come into church with high spirits, but yesterday it just seemed harder than ever. Our branch mission leader, Juan Alanìs, called us last night to schedule our weekly correlation meeting and asked if there was something wrong or if something had happened. No, we're just really tired. The holidays are hard because no one wants to talk to you and everyone else is on vacation at the beach, so we've been spending a lot more time than usual in the street. I'm really sunburned.
On Saturday night after starting our fast we both felt ready to fall over. It was at this point that my wonderful companion asked me what my first reaction would be if I saw the Savior like the Nephites did. I said I'd probably do the same thing they did, an be on my knees. We walked in silence for a little while and then Hermana Vargas said, "Siento que Jesucristo esta caminando por nuestro lado" or, "I feel like the Savior is walking by our side." I thought of the song, "If the Savior Stood Beside Me." He is an eternal source of strength for us.

About the culture here:
Transportation - almost everyone gets around by motorcycles, about the size of the Trail 90. They can fit entire families (and a dog) on one. I  never cease to be amazed at the things people do while driving their motos - drinking mate and breastfeeding are the two that scare me the most.

More to come.

I love you so much!
Hermana Phillips