Monday, April 27, 2015

Mas cerca Dios de ti..en estos 14 meses

I don´t like looking at the calendar and seeing the time pass by faster and faster and see the months disappear.....where on earth did Abril go? Now that we are entering May you know what that means?! It means its going to be mom´s birthday! and also mother´s day! I will only have one more pday to talk to you before deciding about skype, but I do ask you to prepare everything and tell me what time is good for you. I finish church here just about at 1pm and that would be at 7am in Hawaii...but I do eat lunch until 2-3pm and that would be up to 10 in Hawaii, but I think it would be good if we could do it at 5-7pm bolivia time range? That would be 11-1pm time range in Hawaii I believe? Just tell me when and I´ll do what I can and let you know next week because we are still in search of a place to do it. Its kind of hard to get good internet service here but we are doing what we can. I just hope Marvy doesn´t give birth too soon, but at the same time I would love to see the bugger, the Samoan, Chinese, Thai, Filipino baby! I would have never thought our family would include the Samoan blood, but its pretty awesome!

This week, this new week we will be traveling to Cochabamba again for a training leadership conference. I am honestly not looking forward to traveling a lot this transfer. My companion and I will be traveling a lot to fulfil the responsibilities we have. Its a little hard because we are the only sisters in our ward and having to leave is a sacrifice. 

This week just to share a little of what happened was that my companion and I really learned how to be guided by the spirit. We had a tough week to be honest. I have lots to tell you guys when I get home about all the experiences I am having here that I just can´t say right now haha. We will have lots of time for that, but my companion and I really worked to have the spirit with us more throughout the day. Being in Potosí somehow just makes us so tired. That sometimes we are grumpy together. Haha my poor companion, she has been sick these few days with a cold. The rain poured on us one day and it has been really cold. I was blessed to buy a blue scarf made out of Alpaca fur. Its sooo warm. But it rained and we had to walk home to change. But along the way we were going home, we knocked on doors hoping that because it was raining, maybe they would take us in because they felt bad that we were wet. But.....that didn´t work. It made us laugh. We went home, put on some rainboots and continued to look for people to teach. Everyone fell through with the appointments we had with them. There was a young adult girl named Jessica that we contacted the other day and a few more days later we had an appointment. We left her a pamphlet about the restoration and invited her to read it before we would return. When we returned, she opened the door and told us right away that she was against the fact that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that a prophet could even exist in these days. Oh she was hard hearted and my natural man side of me was frustrated and just wanted to change her brain structure just so she could understand it in an instant. We stood at the door and she kept throwing us questions that jumped from on idea to another. I took a deep breath and said to her, "Sabemos que usted tiene mucha buenas preguntas y nos gustaría ayudarle con ellas, pero tal vez podríamos sentarnos y hablar?" She didn´t let us into her house, but we instead went to a little plaza with a bench nearby where we could sit quietly and talk. We sat down and it was so funny because she literally didn´t give us any eye contact and she was very direct with us. We started with a prayer and we specifically asked God to help us with this lesson because we honestly don´t know all the answers to her questions, but we knew that we could somehow bring the spirit to her heart. When we began the lesson, we explained to her importantly that she is a daughter of God and that He really does love her. We explained that we can become closer to Him in many forms....she asked, "How can we get closer to him?" We explained..."Asistir a la iglesia, leer las escrituras, orar, guardar los mandamientos, muchas cosas"....she nodded her head in agreement and we could see she was starting to open up to us. We saw the spirit work in her......but now the proble was that she couldn´t come to accept that Prophets exist. My companion shared a scripture with her and she was amazed...she was in awe...and she was open to know more about them. That lesson we could feel the spirit and we could feel that she could feel it too. Just from a closed-out person, she opened up and could see that it could be true. I am still learning to recognize the promptings of the spirit and continuing to search of how I can be obedient to its my companion and I did this, we also learned that just as there is a good spirit, there is a bad spirit that doesn´t want you to feel secured with the good one.....but its amazing how things work out with the spirit.

Yesterday my companion and I had a rough day. Two dogs attacked us. Two big dogs. I just lost it, I was already frustrated with the things that were going on throughout the day and I just wanted to feel better about what was going on. But these two dogs wanted to bite us....I got so aggressive I grabbed my bag and started to taunt them and scream in Spanglish (haha) so they would just go away. They eventually left us alone. I hate dogs. I hate dogs with a passion. I swear I grown to be afraid of them as soon as I came on the mission. I don´t even think I can watch 101 Dalmations anymore because they just make me nervous. But I learned to protect myself from them. My companion and I are just grateful that they didn´t bite us. Plus, I finally can say that I can face them with more courage. 
Its interesting to really think and ponder about what I´m learning now in the mission and I can see how this things will help me to improve and to grow....14 months out and away from home is a lot of time to be away from home, but it has become the best 14 months of my life. Everyone is now talking to me as if I´m finishing the mission...they tell me, "Hermana Santeco ahora que esta terminando la mision........Hermana Santeco, espero que pueda aprovechar estos ultimos meses de su mision...." Lots of stuff like that. Its crazy. I look back and I swear I was just a newbie here and now I feel like I can finally put all I can to do this work because I finally know how it works. I am truly grateful for the things I´m learning and things the Lord is trusting me to do. He is trusting me to withstand the cold weather. He is trusting me to fight off the bad dogs in the streets even if there are 10 in one street....they are so many dogs....He is trusting me to keep wake up at 6:30 even if its getting harder now because its so cold. He is trusting me to forget myself and remember whose work is this. I had never forgot that it was never was never my mission. It was never my work. I am grateful for the spirit for telling me to serve a mission and for the blessings I have received from it. I know without a doubt that our savior Jesus Christ lives and loves us. I know that He knows us perfectly and wants us to return to Him and our Father in Heaven. 

I love the Lord...I love my family. I love my companion. I love Potosi. I love being a missionary.
I wish you all a wonderful week and a happy early birthday to my dear mother...and my beautiful sister who is about to dar la luz. Dar la luz means give light, but in Spanish it means give birth...hahaha I can´t wait for you guys to hear me try talk in English and laugh at myself fail at speaking proper English.

I love you all,
Hermana Santeco

I forgot to add a little more of what I did this week, but my companion and I spent some time with Leticia. The 64 year old lady who is suffering from uterus cancer. She taught us how to make a bolivian donut type of food. Its delicious. I have the recipe. We are going to do it when I get home! Sadly I forgot my camera that day to take pictures. That very same day we made tacos with our pensionista. I´m just cooking a lot these days. But the thing we made with Leticia is called Roscones de Nuez Mocada. Its DELICIOUS. I enjoyed my time with Leticia. She is just like our grandmother in the mission. She was alone all night so we accompanied her making with her Roscones. Yummmmmm. ^_____^

Monday, April 20, 2015

Living the Book of Mormon

This week has been honestly an exhausting week. I remember when I first got to Potosi and my companion told me, "I don´t know, but I´m honestly so tired here that I feel like I´m falling off the face of the earth". I didn´t understand why she would tell me that, but now I understand. I am exhausted. I literally feel as if I am falling off the face of the earth now. I am a walking zombie...walking in the streets. Potosi makes me tired. But the Lord continues to bless me and to help me to keep going. I feel as if angels push me forward from behind as I struggle my way forward through the streets.

Its been a week a little tough, too but only because people weren´t home and members fell through with their promises to acompany us...but its honestly the life of missionaries here in Bolivia. In Potosi, I feel that the work here is harder, but I love it as well because slowly but surely the miracles are coming out. One night, my companion happened to sit in the back of the bus and I was in the front because of the lack of space in the auto. She talked to the lady she was sitting next to. The following day we went to look for her at her house. She happened to be out already at her door and we were received into her home. She happens to be a single mother who is separated from her husband for a few complicated marriage problems. She lives with her daughter and she was having trouble accepting that she is a daughter of God. That struggle just broke my heart-and I just tried to find the words to help her realize that she is a daughter of our Heavenly Father. My companion and I could really feel that the Savior really guided us to her. We had her say the last prayer to end the lesson and her prayer just touched my heart. I could feel the spirit come to me as she said the words...she thanked God for sending His servants to her.

Just moments after that appointment we walked down the street and ran into a sister member from our ward that we heard that had a reference for us. She took us to the reference that very instant. It was her sister who isn´t a member and is suffering from a type of bone cancer. She was pratically a single mother her whole life of 4 children and an amazing artist and sculptor. She showed us her portfolio of her work and she is talented. But because she is sick, it is difficult for her to do what she enjoys. I thought hard about this, and mom, would you be able to write her a letter of encouragement with maybe a few pictures of you when you were sick and of you now all healthy and all? I´ll translate the letter for you to tell her it. She honestly just needs lots of love right now and is going through a hard time. But I am grateful......she also too ended the lesson with a prayer thanking God for sending His servants to her.

It touches my heart to see how the Lord guides companion and I have been working hard to get to know the members and to help them. We knew that a few had a few problems in their unity as a family or in their marriage and we applied what we are learning now in the mission and taught it to them to help them become strengthened. We taught about prayer in a family home evening in their home and we focused on the different part that they may not have realized that would make a huge difference. Hugs. In the mission they taught us to hug each other after every prayer we do as companions. It really was hard for me to get used to that. I am not very an affeccionate person and a missionary, I just gotten less affectionate (sorry I can´t remember how to spell that word). But I see the big difference and I realized that our family does that. The whole group hug after the family prayer. In this case, in the family we were teaching, the father was a returned missionary and we reminded him of the things he perhaps learned in the mission. We gave them the challenge to do group hugs after praying. Yesterday in Ward Counsel, our ward mission leader gave acknowledgement for that lesson and said that that very brother in the ward, mentioned in their class how grateful he was to be reminded to do that in his family and how it is helping their family to be more united. That made me so happy and it touched my heart to know that the Savior helped us to know how we could bless their family.

We visited a counselor of the bishop (we don´t have a bishop as of right now) so we could see how we could lessen the burden of the ward and help them somehow. All they asked of us was that if we could make a Hawaiian dish with them one night....the problem is that I completely forgot what there is to cook at home.....and here...I just don´t remember a lot of stuff. Can you probably give me ideas mom??? hahah I literally have bad memory now. I was thinking maybe Hawaiian Haystack? Because its a lot more easier to get the ingredients maybe?

So we had our stake activity and acted out the stories of the Book of Mormon. It was a beautiful activity and I could really feel the spirit. We acted a few things such as the story of King Lamoni, the Tree of Life, the life of the missionaries in a funny manner, and when Jesus Christ came to America. This activity really made me realize that these stories are real. They are real stories and to act them out was a wonderful priviledge to do and share with others. I was Sariah in the tree of life scene, a sheep in the king lamoni scene, and one of the people who were there to witness that Jesus came to America. I went home that night in awe and being grateful for the BOM even more......I love that Book and it keeps changing my life more and more each day.

Sometimes as a missionary and doing all I can do to help people progress, and see them not go to church makes me just devastated.....these past sundays were hard to sit in the sacrament room and not see them come. But yesterday my companion and I prayed to accept His will and help us to be patient with our investigators and they make come if it shall be His will....we were blessed. 5 of them came. I was tremendously happy.

I do meet interesting people in the street or at their door step....sometimes I get a little sassy to be honest. I´m not perfect I know, but this lady....I lost it. Her name was Nancy....we thought she was friendly, but it just went downhill. We tried talking to help and give her a little of what we teach, but she just had me look up scriptures in the bible and listen. I tried to talk over her voice, but that didn´t do anything. She asked us, "Do you guys know how many books are in the Bible?" And I told her.....Hermana do we really know that? (I lost it right there...). We had to end it and tell her that we wanted God to bless her and all that stuff. I walked away for blow off some steam.....some people....are still children of God.

Oh as you know this week is the beginning of new transfers. My companion and I are staying together in Potosi. And its getting colder and colder each day. We are having a few new more sisters here in our area to do some companion exchanges. I´m pretty stoked! I can not believe that half of April has already gone by and I´ll be making 14 months already......its going by so fast and that means that is only 3 transfers left before going home.

I do have a question though, when is mother´s day? I´m sorry....I don´t know anything about home now that I´m away haha. Tell me soon so I can start searching places with my companion to do skype with you guys. I hope that you all have a wonderful week and I´m just waiting for that email to hear that Marvy already had the bugger come out of her. I expect pictures of him. I want to see my handsome nephew out and chubby.

I love you all and thank you for your love!!!
Hna Santeco

Monday, April 13, 2015

Why do I have two eyes?

I just love getting emails...and hearing all about what blessings our family is receiving.....I already planned on going to Bangkok for the Temple dedication and seeing the cultural celebration will be just amazing. I just feel so blessed just thinking about it. I am really happy Gabriel wrote me. His email made me laugh. He is still the same old Gabe. I can see him as a missionary that makes all the people he meets laughs.
This week was a good week. Did I tell you guys that all the missionaries in Potosi (we are about 20ish) are going to reenact stories from the Book of Mormong. I am going to be a sheep (a cute one of course) and Sariah from the Tree of Life story. Its going to be great! I gotten so hooked on making costumes and decorations...It made me miss my mayor. There is just never enough time to do this things. The sisters and I were in charge of making the tree of life. I was pumped. I wished I had wires and spray paint and a whole bunch of time to do it. But I had to use what we had in the house. I found a broken green umbrella, a christmas tree and branches. I sewed the branches to the tree. I thought it looked pretty neat. Ghetto. But neat in regards to the limited time and supplies to do it. Then one day I was in a lesson and look to the side of me and see a fake BEAUTIFUL fall  tree. We asked them to lend it to us. So my tree I made won´t be used, but its okay because I couldn´t finish it. Hahaha. We don´t have a car, so my companion walked around the streets with it. People gave us weird looks haha. 

Sometimes people ask us the weirdest things. We contacted this one man in the street one day and as I was about to explain about Joseph Smith, he interrupts me and says, "Why weren´t there 10 apostles? Why there had to be 12?" I tried to keep calm...and explain it to him with love....but I could feel the I asked him, "Well why do I have 2 eyes?" I had a point......sometimes we don´t have the answers to the questions we have, but all we do know is that God created us that way, and Jesus established His church that way.
It has been so cold. Really cold that I can´t be outside without wearing leggings (thermos). I am having to do it...I´m taking out money. I know I´m  stingy with money, but I am dying from this weather. I never thought the cold could be so painful....Sometimes I´ll wake up in the morning before the hour to wake up and I´ll be so cold that I can´t sleep. My companion is taking good care of me though and she lends me warm clothes. Sometimes it rains and when it rains, it hales....we were outside this week when it haled and I remember just standing at the door step of a house knocking with my companion, hoping someone would let us in. It was a man´s house so we couldn´t enter and we stood at the door. I was just standing there feeling the hail hit my back. Hahaha...the mission life. Never gonna live this at home.

We taught english classes this week. I got to teach two little kids while my companion taught the adults. They were the most two adorable kids ever. They just keep talking to me about their dog and I tried to help them learn the names of the colors in English. Sometimes I still can´t believe that I´m finally fluent in has been so Its what I have been waiting for since day one.
Our district leader is awesome. He is such a humble guy. I had never had a district leader like him. But one of his lessons really impressed me. We all had to teach about an attribute of christ in the district meeting. When it was his turn, he has us all read when Jesus washed His disciples´ feet. Then my district leader said, "I know I´m your district leader, but I do, too have weaknesses. And so I would like to clean your shoes". He got down on his knees and pulled out a pack of shoe polish and a brush. He told us he couldn´t do it for my companion and I because it would be appropriate, but he did it for the elders. And I just watched him and thought about our Savior Jesus Christ.....he was polishing their shoes and I started to get teary....Now that I can finally understand Church Doctrine better in my life, I find it hard to believe when Jesus returns and does such acts like that...I was really grateful for that class that he taught. He has helped our district grow and have success. We set some goals, one being to find families and contact 10 people everyday in the street. My companion and I love contacting and we are finally able to do it without being afraid, but with confidence. We did intercambios or companion exchanges and I stayed in my area. We put it to test. I read a conference talk about becoming consecrated missionaries that teach us that a consecrated missionary puts in his all. He walks in the rain. He knocks just "one more door", he smiles even when people reject him. I was with the lovely, Hermana Giles from Arizona that day and it was raining that night. It was a cold night. No one in the streets. We looked for a reference who ended up not living there, but someone else who automatically let us in because it was raining. We got to meet him and his wife. We left the house happy because Potosí not easy. Getting into people´s house the first time is not easy, but they let us in. We continued looking for people to teach. We were going to look for one of investigators that wasn´t progressing, but we felt prompted to go somewhere else. We were walking around the block, avoiding the puddles...more like rivers (Bolivia doesn´t have water drains in their streets) and we decided to knock on doors. It was fun. We would knock, and I said, "Is Mary here?" Then we hear a voice..."NO. MARY DOESN¨T LIVE HERE!" And I respond, "CAN WE GIVE YOU A GIFT?" and she yelled back, "NO!". We laughed soooooo hard and continued to walk in the rain. We knocked on another door and three kids opened the door. "Is your mom home?" We talked to her mom and she let us in......we found a family. We walked in their beautiful home. A family of three kids, a mom and a dad. They gave us something warm to drink and bread. I was in awe...We found a family.
It is amazing how the Lord leads people in our paths.....
We had interviews with our mission president. I loved it. Being sister training leader makes the interviews a little different, but interesting. But he asked about Marvy and I just cried. I was just so happy to see that the baby boy is going to be born and that she will be going to the temple this year. Then he asked me, "Hermana Santeco, now that you are finishing the mission, how do you want to end it?" I first I am really close to the end....and I said, "I want to work hard...and finish it good." He smiled....he was happy with my answer. I had came to a point that if I don´t work hard, I feel terrible. I feel like a terrible missionary. I want to finish it good. Finish it with every ounce of energy that I have....I want to live it to the fullest...because it really is ending soon.
I am so grateful for this time...sacred time to serve the Lord. I reflect upon the blessings and continue to feel the love of the Savior and my Heavenly Father in my life. I know that this is the Lord´s work. Its a work of love and work of miracles.
I do hope you all have a wonderful week and have a wonderful sunny day in Hawaii!
Hermana Santeco

Fotos: Making a tree out of an umbrella.
The Vara Familia

Monday, April 6, 2015

Happy Easter! Pascua!!!!

I am so happy.....To hear that there is going to be a temple in Bangkok, Thailand!!!!! That is just such a wonderful know that when we go to Thailand, we can also go to the temple...I would just love to be there and do a session...and visit all of the Lord´s temples..To hear that announced from the words of the prophet, I was uplifted and my eyes were filled with tears...for a place where a small percentage of people actually believe in christ. i know that was all based on inspiration...the Lord knows that it will move forward His work.

This week my companion and I traveled to Cochabamba for leadership training conference. We left tuesday night to take a 3 hour taxi ride to Sucre. It was a dreadful car ride. I do not know how people can go on road trips. Being outside of Cochabamba as a sister training leader is a lot of traveling...and I am always so tired, but I just love it. We slept with the other sister training leaders in Sucre that night and left the next morning to take a half a hour flight to Cochabamba. It was so weird to be there. In Cochabamba! I took pictures...but I forgot to bring my camera with me...this morning...i was rushing so sorry. But my companion passed me a few pictures that she took on her camera. But Cochabamba has perfect has begun to be cold. We arrived in Cochabamba and went directly to the stake chapel to our meeting conference. It was a loaded schedule for us. It was a wonderful trainingship. Inspite that I was really tired, I could see how the things I learned there has helped me to become a better missionary this week. Oh and I have to mention this part. We had chinese food for lunch! It was DELICIOUS. I had never eaten amazing chinese food in Bolivia before because it is usually just chicken......but this was like a Choy Mein! And there was chop sticks.....that just made me soooooo happy. I was a happy chinese girl! haha! We were welcomed into the Mission house, President Hansen and Hermana Hansen´s house that night. The beds were comfortable. The towels were so fluffy...and we were just outside across from the temple. They made hot chocolate fudge ice cream for the night and made breakfast for us. Bacon with scrambled eggs with cheese, banana bread, orange juice, and cinnamon rolls...I was in heaven. It was just like being at home. Hahaha my companion and I only went out to eat dinner after the conference and straight to the mission house to rest. We were so tired from traveling. We had this thing called Pipokids, which is popcorn chicken with lemonade. They had a cool container for it. I took a picture, but like I said I forgot my sorry haha.

We came home after having breakfast with president and his wife. A flight back, and a three hour taxi ride again....I slept the whole taxi ride. We got back to Potosi and directly went back to work. The following day we had to do companion exchanges and prepare a few things....It was a lot..of things to do. But I laughed through it all. Hahaha. I think the mission really helped me to handle stress better and to just take things little by little and just to really enjoy the ride.

General conference had a interesting topic in almost all the conference talks that were given...Marriage, having kids, family, being parents......I guess I receieved some revelation about that..but really I did. As I am finishing the mission....which I can´t believe its happening, I can see how the Lord is preparing me for what is to come after.

We were blessed to watch conference in English and Elder Johnston bought all of us snacks. It really helped me to stay awake. I think it was the first time that I watched all of the sessions without falling asleep. I watched it soooo happy. I love conference!

Today on Pday, the sisters in our zone might go out to eat lunch together at a Hawaiian Chicken place...its funny because I didn´t know that Hawaiian Chicken existed...hahahaha. Its almost like any other place...the chinese restaurants only have chicken...bolivian chicken..but I actually like their chicken so I can´t complain.

It has gotten so much colder these days. I´m being sure about this but either today or during these days, I´ll be pulling out some money from my card. I need to buy me some warm clothes. I am freezing. haha.

But the spiritual note of the things that happened this week...President Hansen gave us the challenge to focus on the Book of Mormon in our teachings. We were able to put into practice and into the test this week and we had seen how the lessons are so much powerful and spiritual when we focus on this book....I came to know that I truly had obtained a testimony of the Book of Mormon in the has made me who I am today. I love the Book of Mormon and see how it is truly our guide in our lives. President asked us, "How many of you or your investigators actually go to the Book of Mormon when they are passing through difficult times in their lives?" That made me we are trying to help ourselves and the people we are teaching to trust in the Book to help them....because it has really helped me. Talking about the Book of Mormon makes me realize that God truly loves His children and that He wants us to build our faith in Him and His son. And so, I´m reading more....everyday and seeing how the Book of Mormon teaches us and has all the answers of our souls.

I´m sure you saw the video, Gracias a que Él vive that is probably viral on the internet from the church. I know that Jesus Christ lives and loves us that he resurrected and has gave us the way to live with our Father again. Happy Easter.

Palm sunday came around again and it made me think when the bishopric came to the house to give mom the sacrament and a blessing after going through chemo. Its amazing how the gospel blesses us...I urge each of you to remember Christ in your can make a huge difference in your day. I promise.

I know that this Church is true and that He lives and loves us. I feel so blessed to know these things and to share it with His children.

I hope you all have a wonderful week.
Con muchisimo amor,

Hermana Santeco