Monday, September 29, 2014

First Week in Villa Luz. 7 months downnnnn

I absolutely love my new area that I am in. Not only because they feed me well (hehe), but the Lord has really blessed me to come here with a wonderful companion, but He has really prepared me to leave Chilimarca to come here and to meet new people and to edifiy His church in various parts of Bolivia.
A little about my new companion. Her name is Hermana Callata and she is from Peru. She is my third companion from Peru and 7th companion I had (including the CCM). She is amazing. I had never met someone who was recently baptized (3 years ago) and have such a strong testimony. She is 20 years old and has been out here for 3 months now. She is a spiritual giant.
Getting to know a new area takes a lot of patience but it really is an adventure. All the names of the streets here are like in Quechua....and so I finally understand how difficult it can be to memorize the names of the places in Hawaii...wailele, waipahu, waikiki, hahaha I learn so much about culture. One of the things that I love about this area is that the FOOD IS AMAZING. Our pensionista is a professional cake maker....we eat cake almost everyday. I LOVE IT. And recently it was her daughter´s and one of the elders birthday. The cake is huge. Its a brownies and icecream cake. And so we will be eating it for this entire week. I AM SO HAPPY here. My companion already laughs how I can eat so much and I would always tell her like the first thing I think about in the morning is what we will be eating for lunch and when we are eating lunch I would be thinking what we will be eating for dinner. I have changed, but when it comes to hunger habits, I am still the same old Marisa. One of the members asked me today how do I eat so much and stay so skinny. hehehehehehe.
I have to share a strange experience I had this week. As it is cultural, its normal to breastfeed in public and in many cases, during lessons they will be doing it. But something else happened that I didn´t quite understand why it happened. We were reading the BOM with one of our investigators and a cholita and her daughter came up to her saying something about her eyes hurting. So our investigator said something about milk healing eyes...and so she squirted milk out of herself (I have to speak properly and so I won´t be so descriptive in this email) and into the kid´s eyes. The kid was screaming......I had no idea why she did it right there and was so random. The funny thing was that after that we continued reading the BOM like nothing happened.

I love the Women General Conference we had. I had to watch it in Spanish but all the songs were in English. I felt the spirit so strong and literally know that the Lord loves me. That was something I needed to remember. He loves me and He has placed me here for a purpose to do the things according to God´s will. Another thing that I constantly think about is that this was NEVER my will. It is His. I love that. It makes me forget of myself and selfish desires.
Being here made me really appreciate for the things I had learned in my past area. Here the people aren´t as poor. They are much more normal or rich, but they are really good people. Its a flat area. There are no hills...and lots of cake. I am gonna get fat. But I should enjoy myself right?? Hahaha. My companion and I already keep saying that we want to be together here until Christmas. We want to spend Christmas here together. We have our own little house apart of the house of the 70ty in Bolivia. Its pretty sweet! I love it because living with other sisters is hard. Now we can focus on our companionship and enjoy our time together. We made spam, eggs, and rice for breakfast this morning. Its delicious!We have many investigators that are progressing here. That makes me happy. My companion and I had to pick up 15 people to go to church yesterday. It was a rush, but as satan is working hard to make this work hard, one three of them stayed the 3 hours of church. But 15 It was amazing. I had never felt so worried about having to make them feel comfortable in church and even getting there..that I couldn´t sleep that night before sunday. I kept waking up thinking about them. But really it looks like we will be having a baptism soon. :) There is a 12 year old that we are teaching that fasted with us. It was incredible. He fasted with us and he can understand the BOM perfectly when we read it to him. He prays on his knees and all. It made me miss Jesse!

I am really looking forward to General Conference this weekend. To hear the messages that they have for us. I really can testify that the Lord loves us and has special messages prepared for us to hear and to answer our life questions. I constantly think about how blessed I am to be here and to have a family that is happy and eternal. I look forward to hear all about your general conference experiences.

I love you all and be safe.
Hermana Santeco

Monday, September 22, 2014

Hola Villaluz. Chao Chilimarca.


I am leaving this transfer to Villaluz. Its a different part of Cochabamba and you have no idea how I am feeling right now. Mixed emotions to the max. To leave my first area really makes me reflect on everything that I had learned here and how much I had grown. I had grown to really love the people, the food, Bolivia, and everything. I am so grateful for the time that I had here in Chilimarca. Last night after when they told us that I was leaving, I was so excited and then I just got so sad. I started to pack my things and I was SO SAD. I hated it. My heart ached to leave the people here and so I got down on my knees and prayed and poured out my heart to God. I realized how grateful I am to be given the opportunity to grow and learn and to teach here. I look back and see the wonderful experiences I had here and really my time here has ended and that I had down my part in God´s will and now He is sending me to someone new. I am His servant and as the song goes, ¨I´ll go where He wants me to go, I´ll say what He wants me to say...¨. It is His will. My companion is opening a new area in Tupiza and firstly the elders said that new elders were going to take over our area, but after a few complications, it so happens the sisters that are already here in our zone are going to take over our area. Its complicated but I really can feel that our area is now in good hands. I am happy to look back and see how we had improved the work in our area and that we are leaving it better than it was when we found it. That is our work and our goal. To edify the church in our areas and hasten the work of the Lord.  

Transfers are crazy...It really gives you a little touch of the goodbyes you are to say in the mission. There is a sister, Hna Zavaleta that I know and am really good friends with. They recently found a tumor in her and she is being sent home tomorrow. Its sad to see so many getting sick and being sent home, but from her...she taught me so much about strength. We are all fasting and praying for her as a mission because when she goes home she will have to get surgery. 
As for my medallon, the bishop here gave me one but I have to pay...but now that you told me that you have one, I will give it back to bishop and ask you to send it to me if you would like or just hold it til I get home. What a miracle and coincidence that you have one. The bishop gave me one and I am actually wearing it now...but I´ll just give it back hahaha. Its like 10 dollars...but yeah. And plus its the silver one too. So please keep that for me! Thank you for the miracle for the day :). 
One night our pensionista did not cook dinner and so we went out to eat with her and her family. It made me think of our family outings to eat. It made me miss you guys so much. We even went out this past weekend with a member for lunch to a restaurant called Tuesdays. Its like Chilis in the states. ITS SO EXPENSIVE and DELICIOUS. We had a contest in our ward with the missionaries of who taught the most lessons in this transfer. My companion and I won. And so we ate :). It was awesome!!
We went out to do a service to kill and take out the feathers of ducks again.....I hated it. I didn´t do anything this time. I stayed in their garden to pull out weeds. And herded the ducks to the little room before they were grabbed out to die. 
I continue to scared north americans here when I speak English hahahaha. They don´t know I´m from the states. hehehehe. 
And yes...I am out for 7 months already its so dang fast. I am so happy to hear about Dad and Gabriel exercising the preisthood. As for Jesse, I hope he will get better soon. I will be praying for you all. Gabriel...enjoy the power of the priesthood. Good job dad for allowing him to begin to use it because when he comes out on the mission, he will be familiar in giving blessings and following the promptings of the spirit. 

I can´t help, but to watch the video ¨The reason behind christmas¨ I had the urge to watch it because as usual....I do have my downs in the mission and this video helps me to remember that day when I taught a lesson in relief society in the sunset singles branch and how right there and then...I understood the meaning of Christmas. The gift of ourselves....I made the convenant to be here and I promised to give of myself in this calling. This video strengthens me and lifts up my spirit. 
I received the package. Thank you for the spam, the kimchi powder, the blouse, and everything. But if anything....I would love to open a package with letters and notes inside...because as I had said, I do have hard times here in the mission. But you have no idea how happy the other sisters were when they saw that there was spam. Hahaha...they love spam. And the soap...the orange one please! 

I am going to Villaluz where there are lots of mosquitos and no hills. And a really good pension...which means I will get fat. And I will be living with one of the 70! In their house! I am so stoking! 
Know that I love you guys so much and I hope you are all well. Keep going to the temple and all those firesides that I can´t go to. Hahaha. 
Until Next time,
Hermana Santeco

i found it!

Monday, September 15, 2014

La Mano del Señor esta conmigo

Bolivian weddings. Rainy days outdoors and out with a few members of the church :)

they had always warned me that the emails would stop coming and be getting shorter over its about that time right now

We had the wonderful priviledge and opportunity to have a training conference with one of the seventy of the church, Elder Wadell. It was exactly what I needed this week. And at the same time we got to hear from our mission president and mission president wife. I learned so much from a 7 hour was pretty long but I wanted more. I have never felt the spirit so strong in a conference until that very day. Oh I love it. One of the things that I learned is the convenant which we had made when we accepted this calling as missionaries. We made a convenant to God that we would live according to the mission rules and live a higher law as disciples of Christ. Everything that we do is an act of faith. To wake up at 6:30 in the morning is an act of faith. To be obedient in general is an act of faith. Everything we do shows our faith in Christ. It was such a beautiful conference that I will never forget. Hermana Hansen the mission president wife was saying how she was in the new mission president conference before with all the apostles and how she saw Elder Hale mouth the words of the song being played on the piano and having tears in his eyes. When we sang the opening hymn, she just bawled in tears. It touched my heart so much...the spirit was there with us. 
 It was the opportunity to put into practice of what we have learned this week and we had so many miracles. I mentioned before how we fasted and prayed with so much faith that we would be able to find a way to receive permission from one of the father of our investigator. The day after the conference we went to her house and lo and behold, he was home. HE WAS HOME. HE IS NEVER HOME. and we talked to him....not knowing what would happen...and I was soooooo nervous. But we did it. We talked to him and explained to him all that we were feeling...I trusted in the spirit to guide me to help me say something that would bring the spirit and help him feel that his daughter is ready to be baptized...but still we don´t have permission....but we do have permission to continue teaching her. He wants her to have a perfect knowledge of the bible...we have a lot of people who want perfect knowledge and so we really work hard with teaching them about faith. But I am so amazed at how the Lord has given us a way to bring more souls unto Christ. But that is not it...he will be home these two weeks. The Lord has given us two weeks to teach him and his family the gospel and two weeks to bring the spirit into their home to help them feel the need of the gospel. Its a miracle and I am so happy to see the Lord´s hand in this work. And when it comes to when things don´t go the way I wanted to, I just have to remember that there is a time and place for everything in the will of the Lord. 

I have one week left in this transfer exchange and I have no idea if I will be leaving this area. But I will know next sunday night...and I am so nervous...hahaha. We also had another miracle last night. We did not have any set appointments after two set appointments in the late afternoon and I had such a strong feeling to go and visit one of the sisters that is a single mother and has 5 kids. I told my companion, hey I think we should visit this sister...I feel that we need to. And so we went. She needed us. She cried so much saying how much she was struggling. Two jobs, 5 kids, no husband, no money, an incomplete broke my heart. And there we were teaching about the importance of tithing...but one of the things that we learned in the conference with Elder Wadell is that when we teach about tithing, we need to teach it with power and the spirit. I explained to her that right there and right then, I finally knew why we needed to visit her, but before I had no clue why, but the spirit guided me. I said how I know that sometimes we don´t have absolutely nothing...nothing nothing nothing to give with it comes to tithing, but we must have faith and that God will provide a way and it is because He loves us. In John 15 it talks about being surrounded in His love. We can be filled of His love when we keep His commandments. She cried...and it was just amazing how the Lord guides us through the spirit. 

I talked to the bishop in our ward here and I asked if I could buy a new medallion from the ward. He said he is looking into it, but as of now he only has the silver ones, but its all good. Hahaha we will see. 
I am really enjoying my time here. I learn so much. So much patience and love. I am really learning that this was never my mission, but the Lord´s mission. At the conference, Elder Wadell made me think so much about the Atonement. In such a way I had never thought or seen it as before. The mission teaches you about the Atonement and you literally walk through the life of the Lord here. You go through all sorts of emotions of sadness, joy, and all types...and its the same as the Lord has done...but we are not perfect. But we are to be perfected in Christ. 

I am so grateful for the calling that I have to be a representative of Christ. I enjoy it so much. I had never wanted to be so obedient and worthy as much as I do now...well I want to be EXTRA obedient and worthy now. hahaha you all know me...miss goody two shoes. But really. I cannot go back to the old Marisa that I was because if so, I would not be applying what I had learn in the mission to the rest of my life. The mission trains you to face the trials and to face them with faith.

I hope you are all enjoying your time at home. I miss you soooo much and I love you all too. I send all my love to the ward and the beautiful 808 state of Hawaii. 
Until next Pday,
Con mucho amor,
Hna Santeco
PS: Papayas here are HUGEEEE!!!!!!!!!!! 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Septiembre ya!!!! YAY!

Sooooo don´t get so alarmed or scared...but last week on Pday we went to the cancha where its like swampmeet to buy a few things...and I got robbed :(....We were walking with many sisters and searching for the member that was going to go with us and well....a random stranger grabbed me from behind and yanked off my medallion....its not even gold...but to be honest I was in shock for a couple days. I still am scared though. And so I don´t wear anything that looks of good value already. But please don´t worry about me. I am safe. I am just glad he only took my medallion and not my life. There wasn´t any knife involved. He just grabbed me, yanked it off and ran away. But when it happened I didn´t know what to do because I couldn´t leave my companion. I had a rough time for the first few days, but I talked to President Hansen and left feeling better. But pleaseeeeeee do not worry about me. Thank you for all your prayers so that I can be safe. I know God is protecting me...just have faith :). But the sad part is that I lost my medallion and I can´t get it back. Marvy always set the example for me to wear it all the time and it helped me to remember the worth that I have as a daughter of God. But I don´t need it to remind me that I am who I am. sighhhhhhhhhh......but I am okay. I am working hard and moving forward.
I am enjoying teaching the gospel more and more because I can see how the spirit works through us and our investigators. It was a miracle in one of the lessons we had because one of the ladies we are teaching that has been attending various churches told us that she has always felt so empty in every church she has attended and that she is looking for the true church. IT MADE ME SOOO HAPPY. But she prays pretty scary as of now, but she´s getting better. We found a lot of new people who pray so seriously and repeatingly that it scared us so much. It was like they were calling the devil...hahaha We have many lessons with people who only speak Quechua but can´t read. And so my companion would try reading the bible in quechua. Its hilarious. 
I ate frozen yogurt at a store of a member of the church here in cochabamba after the incident at the cancha. I was pretty torn, but I´m better. Food always makes thing better!
It breaks my heart to hear all the sufferings that Sis. Jeremiah has went through, but it brings me so much comfort that she is at rest from her labors and is in a state of rest. I have been teaching about the plan of salvacion so much and I grow to love it more and more because we know where we come from, why we are here, and where we are going. I send all my love and prayers to the Clawson and Jeremiah Family. 
I have grown to be more brave in talking to people. I have learned to understand them and to teach them. I love my calling as a missionary so much. 

Funny story. My Zone Leaders are troublemakers and gullable me I sometimes believe their jokes. One night they called us and said, "Hey President gave us a goal as a zone. He wants us all to pray to Joseph Smith." And I was like..."THATS BLASPHEMY!" I almost did it....then they told me they were joking. They do lots of silly jokes....just wait til I get home. I will tell you everything about these clowns. 
I received a letter from Elder on earth does a letter from Japan only take 2 weeks to arrive in Boliva? And from Hawaii...I haven´t gotten anything yet...wahhhh oh Hawaii why are you so far.
Yesterday was pedestrian day and we walked CHOKE. A lot. I was dead tired that I plopped on my bed and slept early. I loved seeing all the faithful members who came to church despite that there weren´t any cars that day. Hermana Esperanza, the cholita that helps us in all of our lessons, she bore her testimony in quechua and it was so beautiful because she expressed how there are so many people who don´t have an education here, they only speak quechua, don´t know how to read, but are so empty without the gospel, searching for the truth. She cried so hard saying how the people such as them need help...that the missionaries need the help of the members who know quechua to bring the gospel into the lives of others. 
Oh we made pizza with our pensionista one lunch day. It was fun!! We made it with ketchup....people make pizza here with was actually pretty good. But we hung out with our pensionista that day because it was the first time her husband travelled to work and she was sad, missing him. It made me think of ya´ll when mom would travel and I missed her so much. So we stayed with her and helped her feel better :). make me so happy that you are choosing for yourself to serve a mission. Know that it will be the best years of your life. The hardest but the best...I want you to choose to go when you want to go based on your desire and not because I am here and not home with you guys. I want you to enjoy the mission and to learn the many things that I am learning. You will find so much joy in the service of the Lord and His children. You will have many companions that will drive you crazy...hahaha but you will learn from them and you will teach them too. You will become like our Savior Jesus Christ and get to know Him more than you can imagine. That I can testify. There will always be times of sorrow, and also times of joy. You will love the mission. I love it so much and I love you!
I hope this letter from this week finds you all in good state and good health. I miss you all and I feel so blessed to have such a wonderful family who loves the gospel. Go to the temple and be apart of this wonderful work of Salvation. 
Lo que quiero decirles es que estoy tan feliz de estar aca y que puedo servir mi Salvador. Y que les amo bastante.....que tengan una buena semana!!!!
Con Cariño,
Hermana Santeco

I forgot to mention about an article I found in the Liahona magazine. It is about a man from Brazil who walked 25 miles everyday for 15 years of his life just to go to church. Hes been doing since he was 14 years old. He had to leave the house at 3 in the morning and walked for 8 hours just to arrive there. In one year that is 300 hours of walking. He simply did it because he knew that the church is true. This is something I shared with all the members and investigators I had to motivate them to go to church. :)

Monday, September 1, 2014

Los Milagros del Señor

We worked so many miracles this week. It was the most tiring week I had for so long and plus difficult. We had intercambios or companion exchanges this week and we were focusing on learning how to talk with everyone. It is something I don´t quite enjoy sometimes because its just having to get over the awkward part of approaching people in the street. But we did it. The intercambios we had started a fire in our companionship to work harder and to be diligent in completing our goals. This week we taught 41 lessons. As a companionship, we have the most number of lessons that were taught in our district. It was amazing. We found 19 new investigators, taught 11 with member present, 18 without member present, and 12 lessons to in-actives and recent converts. We enjoyed the work we were doing. There were people in the street, in their houses, it was a miracle. When we had absolutely nothing to do because appointments fell through, we continued to walk and to search for people to teach. There was a lady that was carrying heavy things in her hands, climbing up the many hills in our area, and I said to my companion, ¿Le ayudamos? We help her? and we did. I first thought she wouldn´t let us attempt to even touch her things, but she gladly passed everything to us to help her carry the load. As we were walking up the hills we talked and conversed just to get to know her a little bit. And this part is funny.....she lives in a house where the Baptist church has their meetings.....but get this, there is more than just her, we found her family! They gladly welcomed us into their home and had us meet every single of her children. We gave them a little message, an invitation to read one of the pamphlets, and we said a prayer. We scheduled an appointment to meet with them this week. It was a miracle and really funny because they live in a chapel practically, but they were so receptive. We had many experiences like that. We would talk to one person and slowly one by one, their other family members would arrive home and so we would have another new investigator. It made us so happy. sunday without going to church. She got baptized and now is a member of the church. And so this is not only for me, but for all of you. Invite everyone to church, invite them to activities, to parties, to everything that might help them feel like they do belong with us especially as children of God. Invite todos!!

We even found a new investigator who loves the bible and when we were explaining to him why we have the Book of Mormon and a little of the Restoration, he said that he was worried that he didn´t have the truth in his life. So we invited him to find the truth for himself and we scheduled another appointment with him this week. ITS AMAZING. Its the first time that I every contributed in finding 19 new investigators in one week. The most I ever found in a week was 10 or 7 average. I really enjoyed the intercambio that we had because I also learned to invite everyone to church. Hermana Hill, my companion for the day during the intercambio told me about when she was in a different area with a different companion, she invited everyone to church and as normally missionaries know that we do invite and there is a huge chance that they won´t come, but we still invite anyways. She told me that she invited a elderly woman one day thinking that she wouldn´t even come. But the thing is that she went to church, and from that day, she never missed a

So this coming Sunday is el dia de peaton....which means Pedestrian Day....which means there will be no cars, no trufis, no buses, NADA. Everyone will be walking. Did I tell you that the chapel is like 45 to 60 minutes away from our house? and that we start church at 8? and our area is in the mountains? Pray for my investigators please that they will make the sacrifice to walk to church even if its far....hahaha I am really hoping they will do it. But it will show a lot of their faith. We already walk so much, only this sunday, we will have to walk even more. 

Hey Marvy, FELIZ CUMPLEAÑOS!!! Happy birthday this week! 22???? I think of Taylor Swift. Hahahaha I hope you all eat something delicious and enjoy yourselves. 

So funny story, during intercambios we were talking to the driver in the trufi and guess what his name is. His name is Jesus. And guess what are the names of his parents? Maria y Jose. hahaha which is Mary and Joseph in english. It was a crack up! Oh the life in the has its moments. 

I made a bucklet list of what I want to do before I finish the mission. One of the things I want to do is teach a Nun. There are tons of nuns outside our house. I just wanna try one I don´t have to baptize her, I just wanna preach the gospel. 
There is a young boy that I mentioned long ago who is deaf and knows sign language. He ran into me this past week and we conversed. It was soooo cool because I could understand his spanish sign language kind of...and I could respond...kind of. I am forgetting so much of sign language and ingles. We sang a song in English in intercambios because hna Hill is from the States too because we wanted to try. It was the weirdest feeling ever. I don´t even want to imagine me home trying to speak.  

Fernando´s sister came home from her mission. She left on the 27th of February and recently came home. She made me so sad to leave the mission one day. She left the same time I have left but the other year and she came home. She told us how hard it was to have the stake president remove her plaque off of made me soooooo sad. I am trying my best to enjoy every day now. haha with the plaque and skirt and all. 
I found a map of hawaii. Hawaii is never one the map or is just cut off at the edge. But I found it and now I really realize how small Hawaii is........and how far I am. hahaha. 

I miss you all so much and I am so grateful for all you do for me. Thank you for your prayers and your support. There is really no other place I rather be. I have learned so much and I am changing so much....I have learned to not look for problems, but to look for solutions. I have learned to endure to the end. The mission teaches you that. You learn to endure to the end and to endure it with pacience. I love you all and have a wonderful week!!!!!!!!

Con cariño,
Hermana Santeco :)

PS-oh i bought scripture covers for my ingles scriptures!!!! :)