Monday, June 29, 2015

He Calls who He Qualifies

This week was amazing. It gets better and better each day. We finally have a bishop in our ward to guide and direct our members. I am excited!

I am in shock and in awe to know that we are more than halfway through the transfer and that God is teaching me more each day. This week was full of learning experiences for sure.

I am actually in Sucre right now and tomorrow I will be in Cochabamba for another leadership training conference. As we were in the 3 hour car ride, I really thought back of the things I learned this week and of the people that I have grown to love. The Lord has helped us and blessed our area. He has given us the revelation to help it grow and progress these past weeks.

I think I am really learning more now during my last months in the mission than I have ever learned before. Its quite an adventure at the same time. My companion is amazing and she is teaching me a whole lot and at the same time we are learning a whole lot together.

Potosi is really changing me overall. I can see it test me in all possible aspects. Spiritually, physically, emotionally...everything. It made me realize how imperfect I am and how much I do need to rely on the Savior to help me to become a better person.

I admit that I can sometimes be a cranky person and reacts before thinking. I had to have a good talk about this with my companion so she could try to understand me and forgive me if I reacted feo, but I promised her and the Lord that I recognized it and that I would change. I prayed a whole lot this week so that God would help me to be able to control my emotions...and He has helped me and continues to help me. I feel absolutely free to know that I can rely on the Savior to be kinder and more loving towards my neighbors.

We had to do an emergency companion exchange this week. It was a learning experience for realize how blessed my companion and I to be able help other sisters with their companionships and to know how to handle our own. The mission is really helping me to learn how to not be afraid to confront people or to be ashamed to be honest to correct them and to correct them to help them grow. I love my companion because she has taught me something big that I can´t forget. We first learned together this week that we need to be a team, but then she taught me after that we need to treat each other as a team. I will always carry that with me throughout my life.

We have been talking with LOTS of people. We made new goals and they are really helping us to have lots of success. We see the blessings....and the Lord is helping us to even find families that we can rescue and baptize.

There is a family that I have met since I got here that I have been trying to find a way to help.....they have kids and they aren´t married and the wife isn´t a member and the husband has a complicated past. But the Lord helped us....I was so afraid of offending him, asking him why he isn´t married to the mother of his kids...but when I asked him, I prayed soooo hard. Asking God to help me speak the language well (when I get nervous, I speak bad Spanish), but I followed the spirit and it helped me to speak and express our love for this family. He didn´t get offended and in fact he was grateful for our concern and will be talking to his partner to know when they should be getting married. We are helping a family that will be getting sealed in the temple one day.

We met one of our recent converts´grandparents this week. Eugenio. Hermano Eugenio is 86 years old! The adorable man talked to us for a good hour of his childhood and how he knew the gospel. He is one of the very first members in Potosi. He and his wife. It was an interesting conversation because the whole time, because I told him that I was from the States, he said I needed to learn Quechua and that my companion needed to translate for me. Then his grandaughter told him, Grandpa, she understands you!. He has a hard time hearing so the whole conversation was full of yelling haha. When we asked for a picture, he said that he needed to comb his hair. The cute man, he shuffled himself slowly to his closet to find a comb.

My companion and I have been anxiously waiting for a bishop and now we have one.

We went to the Casa de Moneda as a zone last week. Interesting lugar. I will miss being a missionary really. I am really happy....really happy. I know there is probably more that I wanted to tell you this week, but after being in a car for 3 hours, my brain in fried...but know that I love you. I will be working even harder this week...til the very end.

Have a great week,
Hermana Santeco

Monday, June 22, 2015

Sweet 16 months

I got into BYU-Hawaii! I just got the email and I got in. :) I am pretty stoked! I will be starting in Winter Semester 2016. Its really getting real more and more each week. And mother........Marvy told me that you are counting the weeks. Hahaha me too. I am counting and just in shock everyday...every moment. But we just keep moving forward right?

This week was a really good week. We worked HARDER than last week and we finally found a way to get through the struggles and keep moving forward. After being here 3 months, my companion and I finally found the strategy to move forward the progress here. It started with a goal that we were thinking of a week ago. We made a goal to ask at least 5 people, whoever it shall be in the day for references, if they would happen to know someone that we could teach. It works. It totally works. We asked 41 people this week for references and 4 of the 10 new investigators we found were from references. Our work has improved tremendously and we working even harder each day. As we ask for references from others throughout the day, I know that the Lord recognizes our desires to find someone to teach, and so he places them in our path. We did get rejected many times, but we were still able to continue to look for people to teach. My faith has been tested and challenged here in Potosí, after all the trials and the challenges I had here, and with patience we were able to find a way to help our area progress and improve. I am still learning a lot about patience and I am sure that is something that I will have to learn about my whole life. I am just absolutely grateful for the Lord helping us in this area. Potosí is hard...but its a learning experience that I can´t even imagine not having in the mission.

It has gotten so much colder. The 24th this month is San Juan when supposedly is when its the coldest day of the year, but to be honest, I think I have gotten used to the weather now after just putting on more clothes. Plus its so much colder in the states. They said the coldest it was this pàst week was -8 degrees cesilus (Oh my gosh, how do you even spell that word?).

I had a few ups and downs this week when it came to controlling my attitude towards everything. I am not a perfect person. Potosí really helped me to really accept that I am not perfect. The cold, the weather, the lack of sleep makes me grumpy and I am really learning to control my emotions so it won´t interfere with the spirit nor my faith. The church here is still beginning and it is literally kind of still starting here after 50 years, the church here is still being developed. We have been without a bishop for 5 months already, but the surprise is that they announced yesterday that we will have ward conference this next sunday...which was super out of fingers crossed...I hope we have a bishop. We need one. The Lord needs one.

We did two companion exchanges this week. With two different companionships in our zone. It was a really humbling experience for me. The things that I really learned from them is that I learned to truly search more things to learn and to apply them. If we don´t apply anything we learned in the mission, it wouldn´t mean anything to us and we don´t progress. I did a companion exchange with a sister that only has three weeks in the mission field and I was super impressed by her desires to learn and to apply the things she learns into her life. And with the other sister, she is applying it already...after being in the mission for 16 months, I can see how the Lord really teaches us little by little, precept by precept....and after making efforts to improve each day, He blesses you with more. I remember starting the mission and looking at Preach my Gospel as a book that I was not very familiar with at all....I never knew what to read, what to apply because it was a lot at one time. But now at 16 months...I know what chapter is which by heart and I know what I am applying and what I am lacking in my abilities to teach. The Lord has blessed me to teach in a language I didn´t teach by the spirit. Who would´ve knew that I would reach this point....and now I have great desires to continue teaching the gospel to others when I am home. I never liked when I was asked to teach people because I get so nervous. But now, I love it. I love teaching and I love being involved in the discussions in classes in Gospel Principles and everything...I love it. I love teaching..and who would´ve thought I would? The Lord blesses His missionaries with gifts and talents that they never had before. I am grateful...

As I mentioned before the Lord really had guided us to people this week as we constantly searched for people to teach. We got a reference about two weeks ago that we finally could contact yesterday. We contacted her, great person, made an appointment, left her a pamphlet and we asked her for a reference, too. She sent us to her next door neighbor who happened to be home already. We first thought that maybe we should try going back a different day, but my companion and I figured that we should go already because it was way below of a hill and a little far from where we usually are. We knocked on her door, contacted her, shared a little message....We could feel something really special with her...we could feel the spirit. We were just about to finish with a prayer after making a next appointment and my companion asked her an inspired question, "Hermana is there something you would like me to pray for specifically?" We look at the Hermana...and she just started crying. We gave her a little moment...and we could see that there was some difficulties possibly going on in her family. We prayed with her and she felt a lot more calmer. She said, "Chicas. I´m catholic, but I am willing and openly willing to get to know the Mormons. I think I really need to get to know of this church before I make any conclusions." We left that appointment really happy and really content. The Lord led us to companion also contacted this one lady when I wasn´t with her because we did companion exchanges who is now reading the Book of Mormon. She told my companion that she wasn´t home that day when I was going to meet her finally because she was working. When my companion and the other sister meet her the first time, she was looking for a job and it was HARD. Finding jobs in Potosí is hard. But eversince that visit, she found a job and now she is reading the Book of Mormon. I never got to meet her yet....the downside of companion exchanges, but I already accept it as a miracle and a blessing.

My companion and I have been making lots of efforts to help the people here as well as the members to really keep the sabbath day holy. Its really hard for them here. And I don´t remember if I mentioned this in my letter last week, but Bolivian time is way later than Hawaiian time....we made lots of efforts to help them get to church in time just to take the sacrament. There is a family that we are teaching with a daughter that we will be baptizing soon. As a family, they haven´t taken the sacrament for a longgggggggg time. Last week we called them in the morning...and they came to church and partook of the sacrament. My companion asked the father of the father in a lesson, "Hermano, How did you feel when you took the sacrament?" He said that he felt really good...really realized after all that time of not taking the sacrament. We were able to help a family come to church...and many others yesterday.

We also saw the power of the BOM take place....the familia Vara..we have been focusing a lot in the BOM with the mother who we invited to read it for awhile, but haven´t got to read yet...its sad when one doesn´t read because it all really is read it, pray, and desire to know if its true or not. We asked her lots of questions to understand how exactly she feels...and what she is expecting from us when we visit her. She told us that she still remembers the first time when she read the Book of Mormon and she felt something really special..something really different. She liked that feeling. We asked her, "Hermana why do you think you felt that?" She didn´t know why. "Hermana, that was the holy ghost...and that came from God. And why do you think that God allowed you to feel what you felt?" She said..."I think its because He wants me to read read the Book of Mormon." I was soooooo happy to hear her say that. The Book of Mormon took place...and touched her heart.

It is a little hard here because lots of the schools here are catholic schools and they obligate their students to go to their church and go through their first communion. Its mostly hard for the members here and our investigators...its a challenge, but its something we learn from.

I will have an interview with President this week. I am excited!! and I´ll be completing 16

I am really grateful for my companion. We do make a really good team. We teach by the spirit and we finally know what we are doing. We found that studying in the morning is when we really receive revelation for our area and the people we are teaching. I love that...I love it all...and I can´t imagine it coming to an end.

I love you all and I hope you all have a wonderful week. I love the mission! Es la mejor!!!

Hermana Santeco
PS: I love green apples with peanut butter and nutella!!!

Monday, June 15, 2015

el Espíritu y el amor de Díos tocó su corazón y el mío

This week.....I loved it and it went by really fast....but anyways we went to Cochabamba for a conference of leaders and we ate chinese food. I was once again a happy chinese girl. I took all the extra chopsticks to use later. I love chinese food! But in that conference, I had learned a whole lot about the Sabbath Day. It is a concern for the church that many members are not keeping the sabbath day holy. And its true....the world has changed a whole lot. Its hard to keep the sabbath day holy but it is a blessing.

We made it a goal as missionaries to help the people of Bolivia to understand better the importance of keeping the Lord´s day holy. The scriptures even say it. We have to keep the sabbath day holy because the Lord said so. Its a blessing and it comes with the blessing to strength us every week. 3 days before Elder Perry´s passing, he gave wonderful counsel in terms of keeping the sabbath day holy. I don´t have my book of all my notes, but it was talking about what we should do when we take the sacrament. We should ask ourselves, "Who am I? What am I doing? What should I be doing? What am I doing in my life?" I have made the effort to do so and I do find the sacrament to be even more meaningful for me.

I am not going to lie. The traveling really killed me but at the same time I was able to get back to work. I gained my energy back this week and I am pumped to work. I am in awe...we are already half way through the transfer. Its kind of hard to not count the weeks. I don´t count the days, but the weeks...I do because I see how fast it goes and how much time I do have left to keep working. And plus...there are a few missionaries in my zone who are counting and going home with me. But I am really enjoying my time here while I´m at it.

Leticia gotten a little better this week. But will be going to the doctors to see how the cancer is going. I am hoping everything will go fine with her.

Yesterday the teenager pianist showed up a little late to I had to play the piano....with one wasn´t so bad, but it was funny. I did my best! At the same time only in Bolivia you can find three dogs randomly walk into the sacrament room out of nowhere and no one will do anything....I was the one that had to shoooo them out. There are so many dogs here. The poor things..they freeze in the cold.

Oh this week it has gotten so much colder, but I feel that I have gotten used to the cold. I do get tired of having to put on so much clothes though.

The spiritual note....I have been reading the Liahonas of this month of June and I loved one of the articles that I read. It is called, "No Hubo Traslado" por Lena Hsin-Yao Cho en la Liahona Junio de 2015. It is about a missionary that has been in her area for awhile and she was kind of hoping to be transferred out because it has been so discouraging for her to keep working in a dificult area where it never seemed that there was any success. But she said something at the end that I really love. She said, (It was a liahona in Spanish) "Si bien algunos de ellos decidieron no bautizarse, yo nunce olvidaré sus rostros radiantes y la forma en la que el Espíritu y el amor de Díos tocó su corazón y el mío." This girl eventually had one baptism before the very next transfer and could see the joy of being able to help the people feel the spirit and love of God even if they didn´t get baptized. And this I will carry with me and will always remind me of Potosí. Its a hard place. A cold place, but I won´t forget the same things as she will never forget as well. I will never forget their faces radiating after the way the spirit and love of God touched their hearts, including mines...even if they didn´t get baptized. I have seen how helping the Potosinos to witness these things...the presence of the spirit and the love of God in their lives, I know that at the same time I am doing the will of the Savior. We are His hands.

We are doing all we can now to help the people to get to church on time to take the sacraments. It is a little hard here....I would think that Hawaiian time is late but Bolivian later. We called a family that we are working on, whose daughter will be getting baptized soon so that they could come to church early. They came to church on time the first time and could finally partake of the sacrament. I was really happy to see them walk in early and take the sacrament as a family.

I do testify the importance of keeping the sabbath day holy....and I encourage you all to try to take it in see how we can stand a little taller and keep the day holy.

I am so sorry if my email does not make sense. My english has gotten worse. I am living with 3 latins. But I love Spanish! Hahaha

Les quiero!!!
Hna Santeco

Monday, June 8, 2015

Vale la pena

fotos from my companion. our first night together and after singing in the stake choir in conference

The week has gone by so fast. How is it that you have my flight schedule of when I will be home when I do not even know anything? But really this week...where did it go.

We worked real hard this week. I picked up Hermana Barzola from the plaza in Potosi and we went straight into working. She is an amazing missionary and teacher. I am already learning so much from her. She is a little nervous about being sister training leader in Potosi because of all the please pray for us so we dont get sick from the traveling..hahaha because really we need it. We found great new people to teach this week and are seeing the progress grow and improve each day. But I am not going to lie. I am exhausted. Spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally....I am dead. But we keep going. We keep working. I always like to say to my companions, I can feel the angels behind me pushing me forward as I walk in the streets when I am absolutely tired. And its true. I can feel them encourage me, push me, motivate me, and guide me to places we need to be.

My companion is the only member in her family. From Peru. She teaches by the spirit, with the spirit, and through the spirit. I can also feel it when I am with her in a lesson. I had never had a companion like her where every lesson we have, the spirit is felt and it is present. She has something really special that I just cannot really identify or explain in words. But we worked real hard and we already had gone through a lot the first week together.
There is so much PENA in the mission. pity in spanish but the better way to explain it is that there is lots of heartstring pullings and heart ache. I thought I was getting away from the heartache coming to the mission...but its a different type of heartache. I learned to love the people in Potosi....I am not going to lie, but it was hard for me...really hard for me to learn to love them since I got here. The area is hard as the people are. I think the cold weather really changes behavior...but the gospel can change everything. I prayed everyday so I that I could love them.....and God has shown me how He helped me.

I told you about the investigator we had who did not believe in God. Well....I had a tough week with that one. We went to that appointment expecting to teach her the restoration finally after teaching her about being open to pray. That day was a crazy day too. We had to go pick up the sisters from Tupiza who were arriving from Cochabamba because their bus came later at night. So we did divisions. I was with a greenie from Peru who just got in the field and it was her very first time out teaching real people. We got the lesson and our investigator told us, "I am sorry sisters but I cant do this anymore. I cant listen to you because I am only feeling more confused." It was a lesson without the spirit because she would not accept our words....not like she did before. I just looked at her and my heartached to see someone I met a month before who was so happy and now was miserable. She left us and asked us to not come back to teach her. I LOVE this woman and leaving her was hard.

Another experience....Leticia. The sister who was suffering was really sick. Her cancer reached until her bones. We couldnt visit her because she was in bed rest, but her sister finally reached out to us and asked for the elders to give her a blessing. We went. Last night. Leticia is really a vegetable in heartached...I kneeled at her bedside and held her by the hand and saw in her grey eyes full of tears and full of light. I told her I loved her and that everything would be okay. I could see mom in her eyes....grandpa and grandma as she was in bed suffering from the pains she had in her body. I honestly dont know until when she will continue to live, but I just dont want her to suffer anymore....I love her so much...

We had stake conference yesterday and as you know, I saw the loving Familia Johnston. April and her family were so kind to give me a bag of goodies. Of candy, makeup, and the things that will help me these next three months. A big MAHALO and a BIG GRACIAS to the Johnston Family. Elder Johnston passed me a bottle of lotion and then I saw that it said Oahu. I was stoked. I was jumping out of my chair. Thank you April!

Stake conference was beautiful. We had two 70ty members present and their messages were wonderful. We sang in the choir and listen to the many great speakers.

I am down to 11 weeks in the mission which means 10 more emails sent home...11 more sundays, 10 more weekly plannings, 2 more fast sundays, and 10 more pdays....and 77 more days to make them count.

I love our Lord Savior Jesus Christ...and I am grateful that He has been so patient with me. I am so imperfect...but He is...and that is my be more like Him.
The mission is full of pena....but vale la is worth the pain.

Hermana Santeco

Monday, June 1, 2015

Siga Adelante no mas!

I learned a lot this week. I did. It was really hard for me to accept that I have only two transfers left and watching the missionaries go home made me realize how hard it will be to go home. It is hitting me harder more and more each day. I tell my companion that its like running into a wall full of spikes. It hurts, but you just gotta run into it because its in front of you. I am so surprised how my flight schedule already got home. This week, the mission secretary even called me to ask me when I am going home and to what airport I will be going home to. As so I have a huge favor to ask all of you that are writing me....please in your emails, I don´t want anything that says, "You will be home in so-and-so weeks, months!" All I want is to receive, "Hermana Santeco, as you know your time is coming to an end....keep working hard and enjoy what you have left. I really need lots of encouragement right now. I am absolutely exhausted and freezing....My body just aches from the struggle of getting use to the huge weather change and the altitud. I need to keep working. Tell me, "Marisa. I want you to know that I´m cheering you on until the very end." I need that and I want that please. I have missionary friends that just left and were not able to sleep their last few weeks in the mission because they were having a hard time to keep working because going home brought them so much fear....I really need to sleep....and I need to forget that I´ll be home soon. I want to work and I want to do it the best that I can. So that is all I ask of you. I imagine you are excited for me to come home so I can get back to helping around the house and to eat all the left overs that you can´t finish, but I need this.

Hermana Crawford is leaving me to Sucre and I will have a Latin companion from Peru. My 5th companion that is from Peru. Sweet! She is from an island I heard. Where its hot. So I think we will just be able to relate as we suffer in the cold haha. I have really came to a conclusion of how blessed I was to be with Hermana Crawford and that I really needed to be with her during these 12 weeks in the mission. These 12 weeks were hard. Really hard for the both of us. But we worked hard and really learned a whole lot. I have never felt so tired and cold. But I am doing all I can and trying to do more so I can become better. I am really going to miss Hermana Crawford. I will be in a house full of three latins and I´ll be the only North American. I´m excited because now I will be speaking more Spanish and I want to speak it more before I end the mission.

We went to Uyuni this past pday. A week ago. It was GORGEOUS. It looked like snow, but endless snow, but it was all salt. It usually looks like glass in January to February when it rains, but it was still beautiful. We went as a zone and got to go to this cactus island in the middle of the salt flatts. It reminded me of an island with a dry sea full of salt. It was BEAUTIFUL. I grown even more grateful for God´s beautiful creations. I wished you guys were there with me to see it. You would enjoy it. We took pretty cool pics there while we were there. I went crazy and bought cute colorful things to wear that day. My companion and I were twins.

We worked super hard this week and we prayed hard for help from the Lord. We felt that we never had any success here in Potosi these 12 months together until the very last week together. We have been watching the district over again to be able to remember the things we learned in the beginning of the mission. Repetition is really good. It helped us a lot and we saw a huge difference in our effectiveness as missionaries. We just forgot so many things to do to make things more effective in lessons. We grown to see that the Lord could see our desire to do better and really do His will. Having a stomach infection was part of His will (which happened two weeks ago), but now I´m better! I´m telling you now what happened...hehehehe but I´m so much better now. We were able to achieve all of our goals together and find three people who are now preparing themselves to be baptized this month of June. I just feel God´s love for me as I type this because He has been so patient with me.....I just see the many imperfections I have as His daughter and I just beg for Him to help me to be work better.

Teaching someone who doesn´t believe in God has been hard, but I love her to death. Her name is Juani and this week I was searching a way to help her. It was hard, but I just knew that she just needed to have a personal spiritual experience. We have been having her try to pray to this "Energy" that she believes in and to ask it specifically if its God. She is slowing but surely doing it. I can´t imagine not believing in God or anything in that matter. I studied a lot for her to know what to do and I came across my journal that I had at home. It was a journey entry I had from July 2013 when I was going through a few hardships at home and I did something a little out of normal. This is a shout out for a good friend of mine who helped me get through the trial and see the blessings of it. My friend Marleyna told me to talk to the spirit, to God in a isolated place and to talk as if He were to be right there with me. I read that journey entry and I just bawled. I remember that day so well. It was after class at BYUH and I took the car to go to the temple and to be alone. I climbed all the way up on Laie hill to see the entire Laie and I talked to God....and asked Him, God are you there? I need your help because I feel so alone. I bore testimony in my journal and saw how that helped me so much. I could feel the spirit so strong that day at the very pavillion up on Laie hill. I could feel the peace that He brought me to my heart. Reading that even brought me the very same feeling. I read other journal entries of when mom was going through Chemo and the trials we went through as a family. My heart was full and I was amazed of how much of a person I was at home to do such a thing, because apart of me makes me feel that because I am so tired and after doing the same thing week after week for 15 months, I forget those kinds of experiences I have and had at home. I neeeded to read that. Now I know how I can try to help Juani. To share her what happened to me. I am grateful for writing in a journal to see how the things that we go through can benefit us in the future and even others around us.

I ate chinese food. We found a new chinese restaurant here in our are. Its called Hermanos Chifas. They are LEGIT chinese people and so I thought two things: 1. They must know how to cook good chinese food. 2. I´m in bolivia...I hope their meat is good...I hope its not cat. I never felt soooooo insecure about eating in a chinese restaurant until I came to Bolivia. After getting an infection, I am super careful with what I am eating. I asked her, the chinese lady what kind of meat it was. She spoke more chinese than spanish. It was funny. But I was stressed because all I wanted to do is eat calmly and peacefully. We ate Chop Suey and it was DELICIOUS. They have a sauce that I like that is not Bolivian. We didn´t eat the meat in it though we were too scared. After eating I told her in chinese, thank you, Shui-shui! She smiled. My companion kept telling her that I was chinese too...It made me laugh.

One thing I learned for sure is to just keep moving forward. "Siga adelante". Keep going. Keep working. I know it will be REALLY hard for me to finish the mission and leave it....but you just keep going. I just have to keep working.

I am really excited to work this transfer and a little curious of what will happen. Its going to be great. Really great. I can feel it. Inspite of feeling cold, I feel great. I love the mission and love being a missionary. I am not trunky, but if anything just a little nervous and excited how time is going by so fast. That gives me more reasons to work! Let´s do this!!!

I love you all. Have a beautiful week.
Hermana Santeco