Monday, August 29, 2016

Bienvenida a General Villegas!

Beautiful Victoria was baptized Friday!
Our last P-day with the other Hermanas before transfers 

Our cute little house in General Villegas 
Hola from General Villegas! After a long, 6 hour bus ride we made it! And I have to say, the bus ride was great! We had the best seats in the house- second story, very front, complimentary sandwich and jucebox...It was quite different from the regular missionary grind. And we will be making the same trip back to Rosario on Thursday to figure out passport things, only this time we are heading out at 2am. I cannot think it will be equally enjoyable. We don't even feel like we are in Argentina here because the houses are insanely nice and the streets resemble the states. We live in a cute little red house in a calm neighborhood- very different from our last area in Parque            Field.
We are working in the area with four other elders, which means there are 6 missionaries in one ward, or ¨group of unity.´´ We are so few in number here that we do not classify as a branch or a ward. At church on Sunday we had about 6 adults and 6 kids, only one man holding the priesthood in the group. We only have two hours of church and lack the order that is usually present in a ward. We are starting from scratch. Because of the lack of members, we do not have the blessing of eating very often at all with the members so we are on our own for the most part, food wise. If anyone has any easy/ yummy recipes I am open to all! We do not have a bishop or a mission leader, so we are working hard as missioaries to figure out ways we can improve the area! There is work to be done here to say the least, but I know there is so much potential as well. We are blessed to be a part of the growth that I know will erupt in General Villegas.

Well, we should have seen it coming, but Hermana Whitworth and I were called out to speak minutes before sacrament meeting. I was asked to speak on prayer and I scrambled to form a relevant thing to say in front of the congregation. I was rather nervous, and usually when I am nervous I will speak fast- but I didn't know that the same thing would happen in another language! T I know that amidst my fears and inadequacies, the Lord filled my mouth with words and my heart confirmed that what I was saying was true. I have a testimony of prayer, and I know that there is never a time when we cannot talk to our Father in Heaven, nor is there a time when He won't be listening.
We are teaching a woman named Magali (28) and she is awesome. Also I know that the Lord is blessing me because I am insanely allergic to cats and she has 8 in her house, and I wasn't even phased! We have only had two lessons with her, but she came to church with us yesterday!  She said that she knows she did not meet us by chance. Her life has had many rocky moments, including the death of both of her parents as well as a long period of depression, but now she radiates light and hope. She is so kind and knows that we are on this earth for a reason, a purpose behind each person. Also, she is studying English right now so we were able to teach a lesson in English! But the cool thing is that no matter the language, the gospel is the same. The spirit is the same. We have relied so much on the spirit this week. It seemed like all of the lessons we taught never ended up being about what we had planned, but I know that is because the spirit was leading us to what our investigators needed to hear, because time and time again we are reminded that we are teaching people, not lessons! Also can I just say I am glad it is only in these 18 months where I have to plan all 24 hours of my day haha.
This week has definitely had many slow moments, I think that is only normal in new areas, but we have been surprised by the outporing of love from the few members and investigators. Many have been exctatic to have sister missionaries because it has been 3 years since they have had sisters here. They have taken us in as their own and have shared their conversions. The people here are  very kind overall. They respect our devotion to come out here, far from our homes, and preach the word of God. Sometimes its nice to hear them say these things, reminding me that we are part of a great work, and we are sacrificing a lot, but on the grand scale of things, we will always be indebted to our Savior. We can offer our time and our hearts, but how could we ever pay back the ultimate price that He payed. For now, I am trying to pay Him back by being happy in the work, and submitting my will to the will of God. I am paying Him back by learning more about His gospel and His infinite sacrifice. I am paying him back by devoting this short time in my life to helping others gain eternal life. Thank you for your love and your examples. I hope you have a great week and I challenge you all to think of ways that you can pay your Savior back this week. 
Sending my love from Argentina,
Hermana Mathis

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Heaven is on Our Side!

HOLA!! Hello General Villegas (near Buenos Aires) and Farewell to Parque Field, Rosario (for now.)

ejercicios! improvised!
This week was super great. We have had countless happy moments and witnessed many miracles. It is true what our mission calls declares that, "greater blessings and more happiness than you have yet experienced await you as you humbly and prayerfully serve the Lord in this labor of love among his children." I have been trying my best to "serve the Lord with gladness" (Psalms 100:2) because this gospel is a gospel of happiness. Hermana Whitworth and I get along really well and find many moments to laugh. 

Well... just when we felt like we had everything figured out and everything seemed to be going smooth- the area, members, investigators, etc., we were thrown a twist. My companion and I are being transferred to open an area named General Villegas, a pueblo close to Buenos Aires. We were very surprised and sad upon hearing this because we love Parque Field! 6 weeks does not seem like enough, and the members agreed, but we know that our President receives revelation and that this is where we need to go. We had a busy day yesterday packed with visiting the wonderful members in our ward and many investigators. Man, transfers are tough. haha. The Lord has a tendency of doing this- just when we get in the groove of things, when things get comfortable, He throws a curve ball  and we don't have much of a choice but to keep moving forward. We are taking this step with faith and we are happy to be doing so together. Here's to another white wash!

Teaching the Primary kids about the Temple
Both Hermana Whitworth and I spoke in Sacrament meeting on Sunday and had the privledge of being with the primary kids and teaching them a song! The kids here are too cute to handle!  They like to help us with our Spanish too, haha. It was a great meeting at church, but what made it especially great was that Miriam, her daughter, and her novio, Leo, all came to church together for the first time in years! After a powerful lesson on commandments with Miriam, she talked to Leo and they are going to get married! In 15 days! And Victoria, the niece of Miriam, is getting baptized this Friday! These two events are really making it hard on us to leave, but we are so so happy for this sweet family. We had our last supper with them yesterday and marveled about how close we had become in a matter of 6 weeks, and about the changes that Miriam has made which have prepared the way for her and her family to receive greater blessings.  For example, she has not missed a day of church since the first day we brought her. I know that great things are in store for them, and we were so blessed to be instruments in the Lord's hands in helping them and witnessing this miraculous change. 

miriam, victoria, naomi, leo!
I hope that you all have a great week. Remember the words of Elder Holland "If we love the Lord Jesus Christ, if we do the best we can to live the gospel, then tomorrow- and every other day- is ultimately going to be magnificent. Heavenly Father wants to bless you, heaven is cheering you on today, tomorrow, and forever! And if heaven is on our side, who could possibly be against us? 

Love you all!
Hermana Mathis

arroz con leche with our fav adopted grandparents, the Cabreras

It will be hard to say goodbye to our pension mates in Rosario.
Good thing Sister Whitworth and I will stay together!
our district


along the Parana River. Second in South America in length to the Amazon

Monday, August 15, 2016

Hola Queridos!

So many things happened this week! To start, we were able to see the monument in central Rosario- the National Flag memorial. Boy was it a sight! I have some cool pictures of the memorial that I was able to capture during the sunrise. We were in the area for tramite, something to do with my passport and other legal things that missionaries need to do, and ended up waiting for hours and not being able to get in!  But we were able to walk around the city and eat a subway sandwich so I am not complaining! 

We had a karaoke night in our ward this week that was a hit! The majority of the members showed up and participated and between the elders and us, we had 9 investigators! We sang a few songs in English- Let it Be, Dancing Queen, and We will Rock You. It was nice to hear regular music. As much as I love church music I do miss listening to normal music. Also I sang a song in Spanish with two young women- shout out to Ms. Harris who taught me all the good Spanish songs I need to know- they are very impressed when they find out that I know a handful of songs in Spanish. 

I made chocolate chip cookies for the members this week and they loved them! But they are not the same as the states... I think all the ingredients are different, the flour, sugar, butter... they turned out to be more like bread. Regardless they liked them, we are just spoiled with our cookies in the states. They have dulce de leche and alfahores so I guess we are about even. Also, I ate my first Asado yesterday and wow do the Argentinians do it right- so, so good! 

We had some interesting contacts with people in the streets this week. One of which Hermana and I were walking on the sidewalk and she tripped head on, dropping all of her things- cards spread out all over the ground. (We are used to her dropping her cards but this time beat all). I tried my best but could not hold back my laughter. A few men saw the scene, and one came to help us pick up. Having everything back in her hands, with me still laughing, Hna offered the man a card. We continued on our path and I said, "Well that's one way to contact!" 

This week we were able to testify many times of the pure love that God has for his children. We heard many people say that they feel like God has forgotten them- that their life does not matter to God. But we know differently. We are all precious sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. We have a Savior who knows us better than we will ever know. I was able to revisit my caligraphy skills and make a card for Graciela, one of our investigators, with the scripture 1 Nephi 21:16 in which the Savior says that we are engraved on the palms of his hand. She accepted the card with a sweet reverence, touching the scar that I had drawn on the hand of Jesus. He loves us one by one. He will never forget us, nor forsake us. 

Yesterday in church we were able to go to young women's with our investigator who is 13. The lesson was on mothers and how we can prepare to become mothers and wives. I think that above all, we should pray for the love of Christ. We should pray for the strength to develop attributes of Christ. We should find time to focus and help others as we know Christ always found the time. We should be worthy and pure in our thoughts and actions. I could not help but think of my mother in this beautiful lesson. She truly has the attributes of Christ and looks outward. She has time for everyone and she shows her love through kindness and service. Her testimony is strong and her example has always been a rock in my life. Thank you mom and all of the mother like figures in my life. You guys are the best and your sacrifices are not in vain. Growing up I was able to observe many righteous women who helped me define the kind of woman I want to be. Thank you for your righteous examples and your faith in Jesus Christ!

I love you all! Be strong and find strength in your Savior. Pray often. Find comfort and hope in the scriptures. The word of God can cure the broken soul (Jacob 2:8). 

Con Amor, 
Hermana Mathis

Monday, August 8, 2016

Through His Grace, We Can Be Lifted

Yes, this is how they do Zone Conference Luncheons down under
Another week gone by in Argentina, another pile of moments that I could make a book out of. So many things can happen in 7 days

It is crazy to think that I am in Argentina. Some days I wake up and go about the missionary life and in the middle of the day Hermana Whitworth and I will just say "wow, we are literally in Argentina." The weather has been much nicer which is a blessing. The transformation to pants is on the horizon and I do not think I would call this a blessing, maybe for our health but I am still in the denial phase. I have had some whack dreams. It seems like we are asleep for a mere hour and are back out working again, but boy do I treasure bedtime. The language is coming along, I am understanding almost everything, minus the few that we encounter who speak on average 100 words per second. With time, with time. 

Olga (one of our investigators) told us that her daughter Soledad asked her why missionaries are sent from so far away for so much time with such little contact with friends and family to come to areas such as Argentina, Rosario. Stumped by the question, Olga asked us a few days later. I sat there pondering as a million thoughts rushed through my head. We are here to teach the same message that is being taught all around the world. We are here to preach a message of faith and hope and happiness. We are hear to comfort, to lift, and to rescue. I am here in this specific mission because I was called by a prophet of God and I know there are people here that I specifically need to teach. I am here to help people remember the love they once felt in the presence of God and the love they can feel now through the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am here,  "because I have been given much, I too must give."

I have always been one for numbers and have always been interested in the scale of things in comparison to each other. This week I have contemplated how big the world really is. Right now I am very far from home, and even further from home home (heaven). But on the grand scale, earth is so small in comparison to the entire universe. This beautiful universe that we have was crafted to perfection. The galaxies defy all description and surpass anything numbers can calculate. Yet, amidst all the greatness of the universe, God chose to send His Son down to the earth. Jesus Christ descended all the way down so that He could reach you! He descended so that we may ascend back to His presence. In His time of suffering, we all crossed his mind, individually. Every pain, every sin, every heartache, He felt- for each and every one of us, so that He would know how to help us individually. He remembered all of us in his afflictions and in ours we have one person to remember- Him. He is the only way. Through him we can have the greatest of all gifts- eternal life. 

 I have been studying a lot about challenges this week. In our zone conference, Hermana Zanni explained how we are all trying to become something better. We want to develop attributes of Christ which she compared to ingredients of bread. We may have all the ingredients, yet bread is not bread if it does not first go through the oven. In Isaiah 48:10, we learn that we must pass through the oven of affliction. Through our afflictions, we will come to know Christ more. Time and time again we read about examples in the scriptures of those who endured what people should not have to endure. Yet the ones who endured are the ones who understood the enabling and strengthening power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. An example of this is in 1 Nephi 7, where Nephi has been tied up by his brothers who sought his destruction. In his moment of suffering, He did not call out to God to save him in, rather he prayed for the strength to break the bands according to his faith. In Elder Bednar's words, "He did not pray to have his circumstances changed, but he prayed for the strength to change his circumstances." I know that we can all endure through the times that are unfair, through circumstances that may seem unbearable with the help of the enabling and stengthening power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Through His grace we can be lifted. Love you all and wish you the best. 
Are They Missionaries or Super Heroes in Disguise?
But Hey, it looks like a pretty nice bathroom for S. America, right?

Hermana Mathis

Monday, August 1, 2016

Belieza en la Calle

HOLA FAMILIA Y AMIGOS. ¿Como estaaan? 
I cant believe its already been another week! Times are crazy. As usual, we hit many highs and lows, but it is such a great feeling when I can reflect at the end of every day and say, by some miracle, I made it through another day!! 

OK-Fun fact: Haylie is wearing the dress that her Grandma made for her mom for her wedding day in 1990.  Lauren wore it for cousin Camille's wedding ceremony before changing into her Bridesmaid dress and Haylie requested it to be sent to her in the MTC so that she could wear it in Argentina. Not quite intended to be worn in the winter with a jacket and black boots and tights however.  An interesting fashion statement but a sweet link between 3 generations of women.
One funny among many this week: We were walking in the dark of the night, whatever light coming from lanterns strung up by wires. During this time there is still a decent amount of people in the streets, but we have to be cautious. As we passed a group of men one said "hay tanta belleza en la calle esta noche." which is to say, there is a lot of beauty in the Street tonight. I assumed he was saying something about how we need to be safe walking around the streets at this time because that is what everyone says, so I promptly said "Yes, we know!" He laughed and a few minutes later Hermana  Whitworth told me what he actually said. HA! Whoops, I don't want to      come off as prideful or anything.

Many kind souls gave us food this week, including members who fed us almuerzo and vendors on the street. I think sometimes the street vendors feel bad for us walking out in the cold so they are very kind to lift our spirits up with some food, and of course we can lift their spirits up with a little message about Jesús Christ. 

Great news-Victoria, the niece of Miriam, agreed to be baptized! She came to church again yesterday with her aunt Miriam and they are just soaking it all in. I am so proud of them. They both have a few things that they need to change, but through the help of Christ,  I know that they can do it. It reminds me of a quote, "Dont give up what you want most in life for something you think you want now." There are such great things in store for us if we just keep an eternal perspective and make decisions now that will lead us to our eternal reward as we find enduring happiness along the way. 

We got to go to a birthday party this week for one of our investigators, named Soledad. Her mother, Olga, is a sweetheart, she is like our grandmother. She always welcomes us with open arms and comments on how the spirit is present in all of the times we teach her. She has received the lessons for years, and she has a testimony. There is something holding her back when it comes to church. For some reason or another she manages to find an excuse, or fills us with false hope. She, along with every other Argentinian, says "si dios quiere," if that is what God wants. We just want to shake her and say yes! It is what God wants. But we are praying that her time to come to church is soon. 

We ran into three kids in the Street this week who proselyted to us, inviting us to their church. Of course we were respectful and took their fliers, giving them ours in return. One of them even sang for us! They followed us around for around 15 minutes, intrigued by the girls from the United States, marveling at our ability to speak English, and laughing at how we pronounced some things in Spanish. Fair enough. They wanted to Facebook friend us but instead we got their number and are going to invite them to our Karaoke activity coming up! 

So, apparently not everyone was mean to us on Dia de Amigos! This week we stopped by someone we contacted on that day named Natalie, and she told us of our first encounter with her through her point of view. She was outside cleaning and was hearing all of the music and the rejoicing that was going on because of the holiday. She then reflected on how she felt like she did not have many friends, and how she felt lonely on this day that celebrated friends! Well,  literally three minutes later, she said, we walked by and asked her if she needed help. We took the time to get to know her, and sincerely listened to her. We shared a short message and wrote down her address and carried on our way. This sparked a religious interest in her, someone who never really had the interest. She said that she read 7 pages of the bible after that day! Wow! 

Serving a mission is unlike anything I have every done before. I am contantly oustide of my comfort zone. There are many times when I am afraid: afraid to speak up, afraid to make a mistake, afraid to embarass myself, afraid to cross a certain street, the list could go on. But amidst our fears we can be comforted. In Exodus 4:10-12 we learn that Moses was afraid upon being commanded to rescue the children of Israel, saying, "But I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue." The Lord then reassures Moses,  "Who hath made mans mouth? Hath not I the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say." I still feel very inadequate in the language, and through reading this, I was comforted. The Lord will reassure us, telling us we can do it! We can do hard things! He is our maker, and He can make us stronger. Elder Mervyn B Arnold states that as we go to the rescue, God gives us power, encouragement, and blessings. I know that this is true. I have felt power beyond my own. I am encouraged when I put forth the effort. I am constantly blessed through God's mercy. 

I love you all so much! Keep on keeping on!

Hermana Mathis