ADDRESS: Hermana Arianne Leavitt/ Chile Santiago South Mission/ Apartado Postal No. 544/ San Bernardo, Chile

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Last Letter :o‏ + Pics

So generally I like to pretend that I am an emotional wall but wow, this week it has just all been coming down haha. For the past month, the other missionaries and the whole world seems to be asking me, ''How do you feel (being so close to the end of your mission)?'' This week I finally pinpointed the word that answers most accurately that question, and that word is ''grateful.'' A grateful that's just bursting out of my heart haha. 

I can't imagine my life without this experience. I love so many people in Chile. I had my last ward fhe last night. They presented me with a beautiful map plaque of Chile with my name engraven on it. I felt so much love from this ward and started to cry, so embarrassing! I have been here 7 months, so they are pretty much my family. I was telling my comp, ''I don't want to leave!'' and she said (joking), ''Well, it'd be awkward if you stayed now.'' Hahaha true. It has to end eventually.

Hermana Pocon and I went and said our farewells to Portezuelo, the sector in which I trained her. It was sooo cool to be there together again and see the fruits of some of our labors! There are a couple less actives we worked with who are now active! And a couple who were active who now aren't... well, the work is definitely difficult, but in general the ward has grown a lot. In fact, this mission has had the highest growth of chapel attendance in all of South America South. I am so grateful God assigned me here. Although it is a really tough place, I know it is exactly where I needed to be and has given me the opportunity to feel a bit of what Christ feels for his children. I have loved working with less actives and seeing changes in many of them.

When I first came on my mission, I think I was thinking a lot about myself. Don't get me wrong, I obviously wanted to help people find the gospel, but I also really wanted to grow spiritually, do something hard, have an adventure. And it's ok to want good things for yourself. But somewhere along the line my desires changed. I did grow spiritually, I did accomplish something hard , and I did have an adventure, but even more importantly I felt my charity grow. I stopped focusing as much on myself and felt my desires grow to help others understand and apply the gospel, and feel what has brought me so much joy. People say that the mission is the best time of one's life, and it really kind of is... but not because it's more fun, or easy. I mean, we're walking in the sun, tired, getting rejected over and over. But what makes the difference is that we are focusing on bringing the gospel to others, and life is much more fulfilling when we are focusing on helping others--that's what God does all day! 

I guess I can just end by saying that I am so grateful for my Savior Jesus Christ. I have come to really know him on my mission. He is the Son of God who sacrificed himself to save us and fulfill the plan of redemption. I know we can depend on him during trials and that he can help us overcome our weaknesses. He is so willing to forgive. If we build our foundation on him, we cannot fall. I know this to be true with all of my heart, and I hope to keep sharing it until the day I die, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Pics: A very special person! He reactivated and we're trying to convince him to go on a mission now. He's a little hesitant, but I am praying he'll make the right choice. (seriously, if anyone is considering the mission--DO IT)
 The canal from which I rescued the dog. Oh, the nostalgia. Haha.
 The ward fhe. If you look really close I am holding a map and wearing a hat. If you look reeeaaallly close, I am crying. Haha.
 Another tender mercy--right before leaving Portzuelo, we serendipitously ran into our own little Joaquin! Remember the 9 yr old kid in Portezuelo who went to church on his own for like 3 months? That kid will get baptized one day and be a missionary! They see us and his mom screams and he just runs up and gives us a giant hug, and tells us he read the Lehi's vision in the kid BOM we bought him. The sister missionaries had stopped passing bc the mom didn't progress, but we passed their reference again to the elders.
 A cueca dress! I always wanted one of these! Now every 18 de Septiembre I can put it on and dance cueca around the house and scare my kids. Only those who served in Chile will understand.
 Pedro and I doing our secret handshake (shh)
 Had our ward fhe last Thursday and it was hoppin! We got a lot of youth to mutual and taught how to make oreo truffles, then taught the ward these 3d snowflakes. 

The oreo truffles

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Tender Mercies

My penultimate letter!

Haha, I always loved the word penultimate. 
God put someone very special in my path today. I am so grateful for his tender mercies. On our way to the temple, we saw a woman whom we tracked into while I was serving in Portezuelo. She and her husband were inactive, and her 18 year old daughter unbaptized. We worked a bit with her, but she never came to church, although she always told us she knew she had to come back. Once Hna Gaitan and I fasted for a baptism, and that night, we put a baptismal date on her 18 year old daughter, "E". It was one of those lessons I won't forget--the spirit was super strong and she was crying. Well, "E" never went to church and we were a bit disappointed. But this woman told me that she is active again, and that her daughter "E" got baptized last Saturday! I was so happy! God also showed me again that sometimes the fruits of our fast/faith/effort don't come immediately, but they come. In this case, it took 9 months. 
In other news, the spirit of Elijah is taking over our ward as we are preparing for the temple trip in a couple weeks. Hermana Pocon knows a lot about family search and we are capacitating members.  I have learned a bit more about it from her, but still feel as if it's not my gift. I need to develop it more.. haha. 

Yesterday, the Sotos gave me my first and only breakfast burritos in Chile--yummm.
We got to help with an chapel open house last Sunday. The job of the missionaries was to stand out on the street and try to get people to come in. It was kinda hard to convince them haha but in the end we got a 17 yr old wicken (witch) to come in. She was really sweet haha. 

Well, I'm just enjoying my last days in the mission, trying to soak it up. I will honestly miss it here. I have grown so much and learned to love and appreciate the gospel so much more. I know God lives and Jesus Christ is our Savior and they have so much mercy and are so willing to forgive us and cleanse us if we can be humble before them. The gospel changes lives! I love it!
We tracted into a legit native of Chile--a Mapuchan--who told us about how in their culture they gather in the south every year to sacrifice a lamb, and every 5 years to sacrifice a horse to keep cosmic balance or something. Reminded me of the Book of Mormon haha.

Last week is your last chance to ever write me as a missionary, so try to make it good. Have a wonderful week!
Me and the woman I wrote about whose daughter got baptized.
 The kids in the primary program. I have a funny story about the cute little girl to the right. Her parents drove her to school, and didn't see her teacher. They asked her where her teacher was. She says, ''She died.'' The parents, very concerned, asked around for the teacher, who--turns out--was very much still alive. ''Why did you tell us your teacher was dead, Javiera?'' She just looks at them innocently and says, ''For drama.'' Hahaha she's so adorable.
A Darth Vader snowflake!!!!!! Haha we are gonna teach how to make snowflakes at the next noche de barrio (ward fhe)
 An ugly tie the elders in the ward gifted me because they bought a 75 pound bag of ties and are very excited about it. Haha.
 It's Bane!!!!
  I consciously stood up straight in this pic because Aunt Linda asked why I always crouch down in my photos haha so now you can see the height difference! I actually look slightly tall hahaha