Friday, December 16, 2016

Week of January 4 2016:

Happy 2016, my beloved sisters and brothers! Can you believe we've made it this far into the future? And we still don't have hover cars. LAAAME. 
Pues, we started the new year eating torrejas, my FAVORITE Guatemalan food in the whole world, and watching Mormon Messages in bed with Hermana Woodward. The next day, the streets were completely empty, because everyone was at home resting from all the calamities of the 31st. We went running on the 1st at 6:30 in the morning, and all of Progreso was eerily quiet, except for a group of old cowboys sitting on the corner, still drinking from the night before. Priceless.
Last night we found ourselves in on the highway from Jutiapa to Progreso at about 7 PM, completely alone and waiting for a bus. The buses kept ignoring our signals and passing us by. In desperation, I said to Hermana Woodward, 'should we pray together?' because we had both been praying silently. Just as I said it, a  young lad walked by and said 'here comes a bus!' and flagged it down for us, then walked away into the night. It was a new years' miracle.
Last week, we tried to focus on the power of the Atonement to erase our mistakes and to give us hope for the future, to help people put goals for the new year. We shared the story of the wife of Lot (Genesis 19) to demonstrate the principle of looking to the future and not dwelling on the past. I love this Mormon Message  , which we shared with everyone who had a DVD player (about one person), and it reminded me of the true power of the Atonement. Even though maybe last year I failed on many of my goals (reading all four of the standard works, giving up bread and chocobananos), this year is a new opportunity to start over (although I know myself well enough to realize I'll never give up chocobananos). What we've done in the past can be erased, if we've truly repented, and today is a new day. Like Isaiah says, 'though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool' (Isaiah 1:18).
Look not behind thee, and keep on keepin' on!
Sister Lightbill

Week of November 16 2015: New transfer! Mini Me!

New companion, new transfer, new bug bites! We had a week full of finding, teaching, and eating free chocobananos (I don't know why, but almost everyone we visited this week decided to give us chocos...not that I'm complaining). My new comp is Hermana Juarez, who's from Canada. Her parents are from here in Central America, but it's hilarious to see the look on peoples' faces when she says she's from Canada. Of course, everyone knows I'm from the US--that's the result of my ever-blonder hair (thanks, sunshine!).
One miracle from this week was a special conference that we had in all of Guatemala yesterday, where we got to hear from Elder Bednar. He talked about the Sabbath Day, and its importance in our lives and to our salvation. The miracle was that one of our converts, whose name is Reyes, has sixty years, and is a grumpy old fart, came to church for the first time in about four months!! His dad died about two weeks ago, so that's been even harder in terms of getting him to church, but he decided to come yesterday, and he loved the conference. Heavenly Father knows what His children needs and He always helps us help them, when we have sincere desires to do so. 
I'm reading in 3 Nephi right now, and I loved what I read this morning in chapter 10. Before the appearance of Christ, His voice speaks to the Nephites, and laments 'how oft have I gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and have nourished you....yea, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens, and ye would not' (3 Nephi 10:4-5). But He goes on to promise them, 'O ye house of Israel whom I have spared, how oft will I gather you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, if ye will repent and return unto me with full purpose of heart' (3 Nephi 10:6). 
Often, we are the ones who reject our Heavenly Father and the help our Savior Jesus Christ offer us, because we're lazy or we feel like we don't deserve it.But the promise is always there, that if we come unto Him, and truly give our hearts and consecrate all we have, He will receive us and take us in as if we had never left Him. Sometimes life is hard and things are confusing, and we all have doubts. But if we can hold on to this simple truth, the rest will fall into place. I promise. 
No cockroach updates this week, but I will send a photo of my mini-me here in Progreso. 
Love you! Keep it up. 
Hermana Shopping Mall

Week of November 9 2015: El Establo

Six weeks seems like so much time, but it truly goes by in the blink of an eye. Hermana Taps and I have seen so many miracles in this change, and I'll miss her. Here are the few of the wacky and miraculous things that happened this week:
1) On Monday, we went to a fancy restaurant in our area (the only one, I might add) called El Establo with almost all our zone. They only played ranchera music and had horse heads hanging off the wall. I ate a dish called garnachas, which are like fried tortillas topped with carmelized onions and meat, and it came with its own little bowl of pickled carrots and onion slices, which was a throwback to Beto's. They also gave me a GIANT goblet full of horchata, which was equally delightful. 
2) The next day, we had an incredible lesson with a sister in the ward and three youth we've been teaching that all came to church on Sunday. Hermana Sandra got baptized about eight years ago, and she's incredibly sassy and yells at us sometimes, but she's a great teacher of the gospel. She told us that she always wanted to be a missionary, and I told her that she already was one.
3) We had a reunion with some of the sisters under our care in Jalapa, and it was one of the sisters' birthdays, so Taps and I bought her a cake, and at the end of the meeting, the sister and her comp ran outside, and came back with an ice cream cake they had bought to celebrate Tap's birthday! So we all gorged on cake and sang 'las maƱanitas,' which is the traditional birthday song here (although they do also sing 'happy birthday' in English, which is weird. But now we just sing along with a Latino accent, because you gotta go with the flow of the masses).
4) I did divisions with Hermana Enamorado, who's in Jalapa, and we went to a really far sector of their area that she told me has always been really unsuccessful. We found nine new investigators and taught four lessons in about two hours, and she and I were both astounded. Miracles really are possible, people!
5) On Friday we had mission council, which we expected to me nothing but a long session of chicote (someone tell me if there's a good translation for that word, because I haven't found it), but it was actually incredibly spiritual and motivating. President Caffaro had us read 3 Nefi 11 together, and it helped us focus in on our purpose as missionaries, and especially us as leaders--help people come unto Christ through faith, repentance, and baptism! (To get to the cap on time, we got up at 3 and left in the bus at was fun.)
6) We were having a meeting at our branch president's house when a cockroach the size of my plaque entered the room. We all screamed and even though president stepped on its head, it still didn't die...luckily enough, because we still wanted to take a picture with it. Sweet home Guatemala. 
This week we dealt with a lot of difficulties in the lives of our members, converts, and investigators, and I found myself sharing this scripture. I may have sent it before, but a little reminder never hurts:
'Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend' (Mosiah 4:9). 
Maybe I don't know why peoples' lives have to be so hard, or why time has to go so fast, or why there are so many giant bugs here, but I'm sure that Heavenly Father knows why. And some day we will know too! Trust in Him and try to enjoy the rest. 
We'll see how this work goes, because I still get lost every time I'm in divisions in my area...but hey! The Spirit shall be my guide. 
Love yallllllllllllllllll.
Hermana Ramble

Week of October 26 2015: Baptism!

We visited a family we had taught a few times before on Monday, and in the lesson, I found a few scriptures that I wanted them to read. The two youngest kids rushed to my side, eager to carry my scriptures to their mom, and continued to compete over the privilege of passing the scriptures back and forth for the rest of the lesson. Getting to be around kids is one of the many, many perks of being a missionary (although the setback is not being able to hold them. Boo.).
This week ended in miracles and exhaustion, as has almost every week since I came to El Progreso. On Thursday I had the privilege of getting to know a place called Sanarate, which is a three hour bus ride from my area. There are so many people in the world! That sounds really obvious, but it's really incredible that, despite the huge missionary force working in the world, there are so many people who have yet to get to know the gospel. 
On Saturday, we had the baptism of Fransisca! Here are all the miracles that contributed:
1) We had told her that we were going to go by her house at 12, because in the church in Progreso, there's no font, so we have to go to Jutiapa (which is about 25 minutes in bus). We went by, and she wasn't there! The door was locked and the neighbors told us that they heard they had left for Guate early in the morning, We rushed around, trying to think where she could be, and went all around the town trying to find her. After about half an hour, we felt an impression to go to her house again, and when we did, there she was! She had shut her door because she was showering and getting ready to go. 
2) She brought her granddaughters, one of which told us she wants to get baptized too!
3) One of our investigators showed up to the baptism, even though it was far away!
4) We had started planning the baptism late and hadn't announced it, so we were trying to find members to come, and everyone told us no. The relief society president, who's about 8 months pregnant, showed up by suprise--she's awesome. The branch president came as well, and brought his wife and his mom, along with three little kids. At the end of things, about 10 people were in attendence, which is much more than we had expected.
5) The water in the font came out relatively clear, because outside the cap, the water is usually pretty grey and cloudy and dirty. But by some miracle, it was almost dirt-free! (Fransisca told us it was still really cold though. 
6) We bought pizza for everyone who came, and there was just enough for everyone to have two slices.
It was a great day, and it reminded me how much Heavenly Father wants to bless us. My scripture for last week that I decided to ponderize was Mosiah 2:41, which says: 
And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness.
He wants to bless us, if only we can keep the commandments! Don't doubt His desire to help and bless you. He loves all His children so much, and it's a privelege to be able to communicate that love to others. 
Happy Halloween, and Feliz Dia de los Muertos!
Hermana Vela (look it up on Google Translate. I'm very clever.)

Week of October 19 2015: The Fence Won

As luck would have it, I had the opportunity to attend my second stake conference in less than a month! On Sunday, we got up extra early to get investigators to make the hour and a half ride to Jalapa. No one, but no one, was willing to go, firstly because it's expensive, and also because it's far away. And it was early in the morning, and pretty much everyone was asleep. We got onto the bus, somewhat dejected, when we saw a member family run up with one of our investigators, Alejandra! We hadn't even asked them to pick her up, but she came, and loved the conference!
Other events of this week:
1) We had interviews with President on Friday, and they took us to Wendy's for lunch after (which is about an hour away from my area, just so you get an idea of what rural Guatemala is like).
2) I got into a fight with a barbed wire fence, and the fence won. 
3) I did divisions in Chiquimulilla, which is about 800x hotter than Cuilapa, where I went last week. I literally have never sweated so much in my life, but I also got to see a lake for the first time in my whole mission, so that was nice. 
4) We went to an unknown part of our area on Saturday, and I saw a flock of ducklings and chased them around trying to take a picture, but they ran away from me. 
5) Last week we had an EXCELLENT lesson with Fransisca, who has a baptismal date for this Saturday. She has a hard time understanding things, but the spirit has testified to her that what we teach is true, and during our lesson on Thursday, she told us that she felt a great happiness in her heart, and that she knew the church was true.        
I had a GREAT scripture study this morning in Alma 33, which is a kind of funny cautionary tale after the grand discourse of Alma 32. I love what Alma says about Moses and the children of Israel, and how the serpent he lifted up represents the Atonement of Christ:
O my brethren, if ye could be healed by merely casting about your eyes that ye might be healed, would ye not behold quickly, or would ye rather harden your hearts in unbelief, and be slothful, that ye would not cast about your eyes, that ye might perish?
If so, wo shall come upon you; but if not so, then cast about your eyes and begin to believe in the Son of God, that he will come to redeem his people, and that he shall suffer and die to atone for their sins; and that he shall rise again from the dead, which shall bring to pass the resurrection, that all men shall stand before him, to be judged at the last and judgment day, according to their works. (Alma 33:21-22).
It seems like life is so hard sometimes, but really, if we have faith in Christ and truly believe that he will carry us through, it's easy. It's not easy to get or maintain that faith, but once we have it, the little things that happen in life don't matter. We can receive true happiness if we can learn how to trust completely in our Heavenly Father and in the Atonement of our Elder Brother. 
To borrow a phrase from my brother, keep up the good work. 
Hermana Camel

Week of October 5 2015: Goats, Dogs, Frogs, Toads

Outside the capital city of Guatemala, there are a large number of animals who inhabit the roads almost more than the people do. I've seen a LOT of cows (they kind of just go strolling through the street a few times a day), goats, dogs, frogs, toads, GIANT ants and spiders, and many other delightful creatures that really make me appreciate the beauty of God's creation, in a non-sarcastic way (but really, that's not sarcasm!)
El Progreso is at about three and a half hours from the city, and I got to make the trip three times this week! On Tuesday, I came to the area with a group of five elders. They were my companions for the entire trip, and it felt very strange to be without another sister...but they were very protective of me, which was cute. On Friday, we went into the cap for a meeting of all the leaders in the mission. The meeting started at 8, so we got up at 3 and were in the bus by 4. One benefit was getting to see the Guatemalan sunrise, which oddly I've hardly seen in my whole mission. The sun rose over the rolling hills and mountains (volcanoes?) that constitute the landscape of Guate. It was pretty cool. 
We're visiting an elderly gentleman named Virgilio, who lives adjacent to a small river that runs through part of the area. He was baptized into the Catholic church, then into an Evangelical church, and now that we're teaching him, he wants to be sure that it's really true before he goes through the whole baptism process again. He's funny, but he's one of the few people I've met in my mission that actually reads the pamphlets and has questions about them. Hermana Tapusoa was trying to remember his name, and when she couldn't, she referred to him as 'the man down by the river,' which made me think of the Chris Farley motivational speaker SNL sketch, and now we almost only refer to him as 'the man down by the river' (in a very reverent way). 
Maybe some of you have heard about the mudslide in Santa Catarina Pinula. Many people I knew were killed, and I would appreciate it if you could please keep them in your prayers. 
Conference was real good! I hope you all got the chance to see it. I think it was Elder Redlund who talked about how our callings really aren't about us, but rather what Heavenly Father wants to do through us for other people. As a misisonary, it's easy to get caught up  in your own problems and trials, but the best way to ignore disappointment, fatigue, and homesickness is thinking about other people and their needs. That's what Christ did, and our life here on the earth is really jsut our time to try to become more like him. One of my favorite scriptures I read this week is in Alma:
 14 And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have y ereceived his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?
We should try to receive the image of Christ in our countenances through good works on behalf of others. That's my challenge to you this week, and I hope (paraphrasing President Moncito) we can have a resolve in our hearts to be a little better than we have in the past. 
Hermana Campbellita
ps. here is a foto of what the area is like. that day it was raining a little bit, but normally, it's SUPER HOT.

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Week of March 7 2016: And It Came to Pass . . .

'And it came to pass that I began to be old, and an hundred and seventy and nine years [or eighteen months] had passed away from the time that our father Lehi left Jerusalem [or the time that Hermana Campbell left Seattle]' (Enos 1:25).
Just kidding. But the last eighteen months have passed incredibly quickly, and the end has come too fast. This last week was full of miracles, including two baptisms, of Daniel and Jeny. Baptisms are always stressful, and we had to push ourselves to be able to visit both of them all week to finish teaching them the lessons and prepare them for their interviews, but we had a wonderful baptismal service on Saturday and they were both confirmed on Sunday. 
Of the many things I could learn in my mission, the principle that has changed me the most is this: accept the will of the Lord, no matter what it be. It's tough sometimes, whether it be getting caught in the rain to be able to teach lessons, or accepting that your investigators aren't ready for baptism, the Lord has a plan for us and we have to accept it. I've met so many wonderful people and seen the gospel change their lives. I know that Christ lives and is more than just an idea or a name in a book. He is a person who worries about us and wants to help us, and he suffered for us so that we could be saved. The gospel is joyful, and we should live it as such! Trust in the council of the prophet, apply the atonement in your lifes, and remember that there is an all-powerful being who worries about you and loves you. Si? Si.
'And it came to pass that we lived after the manner of happiness' (2 Nefi 5:27).
Be safe. Be happy.
Hermana Campbell