Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Chad has a transfer and new companion, Obertello Family in Argentina

Dear Family,
We got the transfers.  My new companion is from Harriman, UT.  My new area is Lorenzo Arenas Ward (I don’t know for sure if I spelled that right).  It is in the downtown part of Concepciòn.  The mission office is in the zone limits.  I am going to be training during his last 6 weeks of the 12 weeks training.  It will be exciting to be in Concepciòn this summer (winter for the northern half of the world) when they do the first groundbreaking ceremony for the Concepciòn temple.  They are expected to start construction in the coming months.

I really want you all to know that I know this church is true.  I was preparing to leave the house yesterday, and I couldn’t find my missionary plaque.  I looked, and looked, and looked.  I had no idea where it was.  I knelt down and prayed, asking for help in finding the plaque.  I said amen, and immediately had the thought come to my mind that I had left it on my rain jacket.  It was raining pretty hard the other day, and I forgot to take my plaque off the jacket.  God would not help missionaries of a false church.  He helped me.  This church is true.  I know that if we can learn to apply the gospel into our lives, we can truly become the people that God needs us to be.  I know that it is through the atonement of Jesus Christ, that we can all have the hope of an eternal family.  I know that this Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the true church.  

I love you guys, more than the number of snowflakes that cover Minnesota.
Sincerely,
Elder Chad Withers

                                                                                                                                             
Dear Family,
All is well here in La Paz.  We are going to get a transfer call this morning to see what will happen, but we won’t receive it until after we email......so I will let you know what happens for this transfer next week.  Thanks for the birthday wishes!  It’s crazy to think that I will be 21......not sure how that happened. 

It was so hot this week.  Oh you have no idea.......it’s a kind of heat you can’t even explain.  So hot and humid, that not even a fan can relieve you.  Our pension (apartment) has turned into a giant pressure cooker....and I am jealous that Thomas can access his roof.  Ours is too high, but what he said about the fans is right.  They are really just giant blow dryers.....they don’t actually blow cold air, they just spin the hot air around.  Summers without air conditioners are a whole new kind of ball game.  I am so grateful I only have one full summer here.  The Lord was very merciful at the end of this week and sent a rain storm to clear everything out.  Its starting to get hot and humid again, but the cooler weekend was a blessing.  People here say though that this summer has been especially brutal, that it’s not normally as hot or so hot for so many days in a row.  There are normally more rain storms to keep everything balanced and everyone sane.  Cool!  I sure lucked out.  At the beginning of the summer I thought everyone was crazy for living in a place that was so hot all the time without air conditioning, but learning that this is one of the worst in 50 years makes this place much prettier and it’s easier to understand why people still live here. On the plus side everything is green and beautiful which is awesome. 

There is one family who is especially incredible, the Obertello Family.  They are carpenters by profession, and they run the shop in the back of their house.  They have 14 kids and are all recent converts within the last 4 years.  The teenage daughters were baptized first, and over the years they have all been converted and baptized.  The kids were all converted first and the parents very last.  The mom smoked before, and was supportive of her kids switching from Catholicism to Mormonism, but she never made the change herself.  And the dad is kind and humble, but in the beginning was very opposed to his kids being baptized into the church.  So about a year ago the parents were married, she stopped smoking, and they got baptized.  They are recent converts with strong testimonies, but have a lot of trouble getting to church on Sunday.  We had a Noche de Hogar (Family Home Evening) this last Friday with them and talked a lot about overcoming challenges, and how when we have things to overcome, they can often seem impossible, but if we go to the Lord in prayer, they can still be hard but also become very possible to overcome.  We talked about their struggle to get to the chapel as a family and invited them to pray for strength.  To pray for a solution to the problem and trust in the answer, because it might be something they have never thought of before.  They live a 45 minute walk away from the chapel, and have a few motorcycles, but not enough to take everyone.  And they can’t make several trips because they don’t have enough money to pay for that much gas. So on Sunday morning we anxiously waited to see them.  To see them show up at the chapel, and seeing them walk through the door just melted my heart.  Only the parents came that day for some reason or another, but they are the ones who have the most trouble coming, so seeing them there was like Christmas.  We have Relief Society and Sunday School first, and then Sacrament meeting.  While we were waiting for sacrament meeting to start we were sitting by them and I started talking to them, and found out that their motorcycles were broken, something happened to their car, and they were waiting for the colectivo (bus) to stop by but it never did......so they started to walk.  And they walked the whole way.  They are kind of an older couple (I mean they have raised 14 kids....they can be tired if they want to!) and they walked the whole 45 minute distance.  In reality it was more like an hour to an hour and a half.....because 45 minutes is missionary speed and they move a little slower.  We were so proud of them. There are a lot of sacrifices saints make here to be faithful.....sacrifices that not all members have to make.  But it is something the Lord has required of them, and the idea to start walking as an answer to their prayer in getting help to the chapel I am sure is not something they were super excited to follow through with.....but they did it anyway.  They are such good people, and those 14 kids have excellent parents for examples.

The zone leaders had a training about 2 weeks ago...and they picked up mail but forgot to give it to us.  Almost unforgivable!  But it was kind of fun to get mail in the middle of the month.  I had a few letters and Christmas cards.  Thank you to all! 

My favorite snack lately has been Oreos (they sell them here and it’s the best thing ever!).  And p day activities usually are study, email, get groceries, lunch, and then go to Gridos and get a half kilo of ice cream to share....take it to the chapel, turn on the ac (the church is one of the few places that has ac!) put on shorts, and eat the ice cream directly in front of the ac.  It’s the best ever......and then we spend the afternoon playing ping pong too. 

I am doing well and have so much to be grateful for.  I love you more than all the banana trees that grow here that I didn’t know were banana trees until a week ago!
Hermana Withers 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Baptism in Chile, Another week for the record books

Dear Family,
I am glad to hear that you are all pretty chill with the Minnesota winter. It is hard for me to imagine how cold it is, because I am in summer.  The summer here is hot, and humidity doesn’t help much.  It would be really nice if it would rain a little bit and cool things off.    

The good news:  Lorena was baptized and confirmed this week.  I baptized her, and Bishop Hidalgo confirmed her in church on Sunday.  The oldest son was really sad that he couldn’t go to his mom’s baptism.  Benjamin was in Santiago with his grandparents and couldn’t make it.  We are hopeful that he will be baptized too, because his mom, not us, scheduled an appointment for us to teach him when he comes back.

Somebody who lives in the other ward was also baptized the same day, all of his family are members and he finally decided to join the church too.  The guy who baptized the other guy is from Chile, but lived in Nampa, Idaho for six and half years.  His wife is from Nampa.  It was cool to talk with somebody in English, about Boise Idaho.

Tina, the friend of Maria, came to church for the second time.  Maria rents part of her house out, and Tina is now renting from her.  She feels she has received an answer that this church is the original, the one and only.  It is good that she will be in frequent contact with an active member. We are quite hopeful that she will be baptized.  We have a family home evening tonight with her and Maria and some other members.

I love you all more than the number of hours it would take for this message to get to you had we been using snail mail.  I love you all!
Elder Withers  


Dear Family,
This week was another one for the record books.  We taught lessons to investigators and menos activos...and they are all progressing!  With some of them the progression feels slow, but they are all moving forward in one way or another.  Marisa is finally going to Neuquen this next weekend to get married, and we have several other people who are all kind of at the same spot. They are listening to us, reading the Book of Mormon....experimenting in their hearts, and we are working on getting them to the chapel for Sunday and on date for a baptism.  We walked a lot, consumed gallons and gallons of water, and had lots of adventures!

There is a watermelon truck that goes around selling only watermelon. The truck is so old that every time I see it I am sort of surprised and mostly impressed that they even got the thing to start.  There is one guy driving, and another in the back with a megaphone advertising.  They just drive all around town selling watermelons.  

The branch here is preparing to go to the temple in Buenos Aires.  The members who want to go have to pitch in money and they are all going to rent a big bus and travel together.  (It’s like 6 or 7 hours).  They are going to stay there for the day doing temple work and then get on the bus and travel home again.  They have been planning this event for forever and it’s cool to see the people who are interested to go and the sacrifices they are making.  

Something that is kind of sad that I have learned is that a ton of people have diabetes here, but they also don’t have any means or way to take care of it so they are just sick all the time.  It’s really sad.

When it comes to traffic here....the general rule of the road seems to be "hit or be hit"  If you walk on the sidewalks all is dandy, but the cars and motorcycles out in the road pay no attention to the speed limits, stop signs, intersections, or lanes.  It’s sometimes scary to watch!

We had interviews with president this week which really was fun.  I love talking to him.  And because we were the last ones from our district to get interviewed, they gave us a ride in their air conditioned car from the chapel to our area while they were on their way out of town.  It was sweet.

This last weekend here in La Paz there was a big triathlon.  It’s one of the only events this town has, so everyone went nuts supporting it.  It was like a parade....everyone lined the streets drinking mate.  And instead of sitting down drinking mate and watching people walk by like everyone here loves to do, they just watched them bike or run by instead.  Also, people stood on the curb with a pitcher of water in their hand waiting for a racer to come by....and then they chucked it at them.  I’m not sure if it was suppose to be considered a public service or not.....because it just looked really annoying.  The finish line was exactly 1 block away from our apartment so there were tons of cars and people.....but it has all cleared out and we are glad it’s over.  We feel like we can have our area back now, because the main part of the course was main road we have to walk on every day.  It was kind of tricky this last weekend...but it’s all calm again! 

I love you all lots and pray for you all everyday!  Keep on keeping on!
Hermana Withers       



Monday, January 13, 2014

Chad and his fishing buddy Adolfo

Chad doing what he loves on P-day.  No fish pictures, but still a great day with friends!

Great start for the New Year

January 13, 2014

Dear Family,
Today we went fishing with Adolfo.  It was really cool.  It was on a really nice 120 hectare private property.  The water was really murky with all the snow run-off, but it was fun to cast. Nobody brought anything to net, so there aren’t any fish pictures.  

Pablo went back to his home in Rancagua, if the cancer tests turn out bad it will be really sad, because we know we could have done a lot more to get him ready for baptism the last few months or so.  We just sort of ignored the idea of teaching him because he would come and go every few weeks.

We had a family home evening with recent convert Maria.  She invited 4 neighbors, and we invited 4 members.  One of Maria`s friends took really well to what we were talking about.  Her name is Tina.  She accepted a baptism date, the first of February.  She then went to church with Maria.  It is awesome to see new converts sharing the gospel.  

We have a baptism planned for this Saturday.  Her name is Lorena.  We are really excited, because we have been teaching her for more than 3 months now.  She teaches kindergarten, and has 3 kids.  Her husband, Carlos, isn’t really interested in the church, but says he will go to the baptismal service.  We were planning to have the baptism last Saturday, but her kids were visiting their grandparents in Santiago and wanted to see the baptism.  The oldest son, Benjamin, who is 12 years old has been taking the lessons as well and wants to be baptized soon.  Lorena is a really good person, reads the Book of Mormon, and knows the church is true.  I know that she knows the church is true, because if she didn’t have her own testimony wouldn’t have come back to church based on how some of the members had treated her.  Just speaking to all members within reach of my voice:  be nice to everyone you see at church, sit by them, talk with them, and just be their friend.  

I love all you more than the number of snowflakes in Minnesota,
Elder Withers


Dear Family,
This week it has still been cooler, with breezes and rain storms, mud, and lots of blessings. Yesterday at church it was like Christmas.  There is this young mom named Laura, who was baptized about 5 years ago....she served as primary president and was a great member for the branch, but then had a disagreement with one of the other members.....got offended, and hadn’t been to church in 3 years.  She is a nanny for a different member named Deborah (this town is real small)...and she has been helpful in inviting her and asking her every so often about the church and so on....but Laura just sincerely has never been interested.  We have been passing by ever since I have been here, and in the beginning she wasn’t reading the Book of Mormon, wasn’t praying, obviously wasn’t going to church, and really didn’t have a desire to change.  I have been here for almost 3 months......and since then she started to read the Book of Mormon, is praying, and a couple of weeks ago told us that she felt like it was time to come back.  And yesterday.......SHE CAME!  She paid for the colectivo (bus) ride, brought her two kids, and stayed for all 3 hours.  Miracle.  A lot of the members thought she was a new investigator because she hadn’t been in so long, but when they learned she was a member...they gave her a big hug and now know who she is and can look out for her.  Getting them to the chapel for that first time in who knows how long is a huge hurdle, but if they can do it...the members here are really great at looking out for them.  

But the miracles don’t stop there.  We also have this cute grandma in our branch who is super active, but her husband has a job on Sundays and has become less active.  And her daughter and grandkids are all less active.  One of her grandsons, Luis, lives with them because of some familial problem he had with his parents.  He is 18 years old, with a good conscious to know what is right, but just in a mix with a bad bunch of friends.  He never comes to church on Sunday....because he is out late Saturday and can’t get up the next morning.  Well ever since we met him and learned all of this, we said "what the heck......this kid can come to church."  So we made a plan.  On Saturday night instead of going out with his friends....he has to stay home.  And not only stay home, but expect us to stop by and share a message to keep him accountable to us and to the Lord....to make sure he didn’t go anywhere.  We started this 2 weeks ago....we go over, he is still home, we share the message, he promises to come to church, and then after we leave he apparently went out to go with friends and subsequently didn’t come to church.  So we started the cycle again.  We stopped by once earlier in the week, and told him that we were stopping by at 9:00 Saturday, the last stop of the night to get him ready to come to church, we stopped by, shared a message, he promises to come.....and at 9:00 am he wasn’t there.  His grandma showed up without him, saying she tried to wake him up but he wouldn’t budge...but that she left 3 pesos for the colectivo ride in case he woke up in time to come to part of church. We called him in between meetings, and no answer.  We get to the last 15 minutes of church and the last speaker gets up to give a talk in sacrament meeting....and, who walks in with crazy hair but white shirt and tie?  Luis.  It was excellent, and the only talk he heard was awesome, just what that kid needed.  It isn’t easy to be a youth here.  The young men and young women’s programs aren’t very strong, and there are only a few that are even active....but they are capable. Its taking a lot of work to get these people up and running on their own feet....but the fruits of the labor are worth it.  Even if they are only in the chapel for 15 minutes.  It’s worth it and we can try to do better next week and get to church for a little longer.  

I love being a missionary....it is so cool to be a part of peoples personal conversion and journey back to Christ.  And it is incredibly fun.  I love doing this.  

Yesterday a member fed us "Carpincho" which I have no idea what it’s called in English or what it looks like alive, but apparently is like a giant hamster dog type thing.  You should look it up. It was a reddish meat that smelled kind of like fish but tasted a lot like chicken...it wasn’t the best thing I have ever eaten, but it also wasn’t the worst.  I think it helps that I don’t know what this animal is like in real life.    

I feel like I haven’t been writing very much about the culture or my surroundings, but I will try to write more about that next week.  People ask us all the time what language we speak in the States because they get confused by the fact that we are Yankees speaking Spanish....they sometimes think the U.S language is Spanish.  And McDonalds is super expensive here and legitimately considered fine cuisine.  If you go there people will ask you if it’s your anniversary or birthday or something.  Nevertheless....missionaries still go there because in dollar amounts it’s still really cheap and its one of the only things from the U.S. here in Argentina.

Anyway....I love you all lots.  Keep me updated on everything!  I love you more than all of the people who ask us if we live in the chapel like the Catholic nuns who live in their cathedrals!  

Hermana Withers



Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Pictures

La Paz

Rebecca with her cousin Elder Hill

Rebecca celebrating Christmas with members

Rainy day on a dirt road

Chad happy to receive first package

Chad with members on Christmas day

Awesome missionary

Monday, January 6, 2014

Going fishing! Running from the rain!

Dear Family,
I would like to start by saying I was floored by the pictures of all the snow.  I can’t believe the amount of snow over there.  You would think that people just wouldn’t build towns in places like that.  Chillan never gets snow.  I have asked a lot of different people about the weather here, and it only snowed once in the last 20 years or so.  And it was just a little that melted the same day.  

There is an awesome family here, the mother has been to the temple, but the father isn’t a member.  His name is Adolfo, he works as a Sergeant in the Chilean Army, and he is a really cool guy.  Anyway, he has been going to church on and off for several years.  He is just starting to really read the Book of Mormon, and he started in 3 Ne 11.  What a great place to start!  Anyway, he loves to fish, especially for trout.  He offered to take us fishing next Monday, in an area just loaded with trout in the 12-16 inch region.  He says they aren’t big, but there are tons of them.  It is close to a tiny little town called Pinto.  We have permission to go and it should be a lot of fun.  I will take pictures.  Hopefully we can hook him on the Gospel and at the same time hook some fish.

Miracle of the week:  We were having trouble finding new people to teach this week.  As we were walking down a street we almost never walk down, because it is about 5 min out of the way, there was a member who started to leave the house of a friend.  We crossed the street (it is called Marchant Street), house number 530, or close to that.  He was in a joking mood as he walked out of the house and got into his car, but he said, “Elderes!  Aqui! Enseñar ella.”  (Elders!  Here!  Teach her.)  He was laughing as he said it, and so was his friend, because she really wanted nothing to do with the church.  Anyway, we went and talked to her at her doorstep, and she said that nothing about the church interested her, that she had heard the missionaries several times before.  We then asked her about what was most important to her, and she said her family, especially her son.  We then said that “your family can be together forever” and her entire demeanor completely changed.  She changed the look on her face, and really wanted to listen.  We then taught her and her son about the Plan of Salvation, and asked them to be baptized.  They readily accepted baptism after we explained priesthood authority.  She is a devout Catholic, who goes to mass, and has the whole mass program memorized word for word.  We are excited for her and her son.  She told us that her husband is also Catholic, and she doesn’t think he will listen to us, but we want to meet with him anyway. The spirit was amazingly strong in the lesson, especially as we testified that Jesus Christ is our redeemer. She told us that she doesn’t get any spiritual satisfaction out of going to mass, but that she felt the spirit as we taught her.

Maria, one of our converts here has an uncle.  His name is Pablo, (or Paul).  He has been to church well over a dozen times, and actually doesn’t live in Chillan.  He lives in the Rancagua mission in Chile, but comes to visits his niece every month or so, and stays for a week or 2.  We have taught him a few times, and he is very receptive.  The thing is, he told us yesterday in church that he has cancer.  He said he wants to be baptized as soon as possible, because in this church they teach the same good things that he learned during his childhood, but one of the differences is that we teach families are forever.  We are anxious to hear the results of the medical tests, because they don’t yet know if it is terminal.  If it is terminal, we plan to teach him everything in a week and baptize him on the weekend.

I love you all,
Elder Withers


Dear Family,
So....we are officially into 2014!  How crazy!  We celebrated the new years by going out for ice cream and attempting (I say attempt because we didn’t have a recipe and they turned out strange) to make M&M cookies.  

We had cooler temperatures for a few days too!  The heat and humidity built up for about 2 weeks, and then the heavens just let down a huge down pour of rain.  It was beautiful.  On Thursday we were visiting a member, sitting on lawn chairs out in her yard under a tree.  It sounds kind of picturesque doesn’t it?  While we were out there, we could see huge, big, black clouds start to roll in.  At the beginning of the visit they were way out in the distance and it looked like the storm would be here by that night....but after half an hour, the clouds were right above us and the rain and wind was about to break loose any second.  We finished the lesson, and started to run.  We were too far from our apartment to make it, so we headed in the direction of a faithful member who lived close by.  In retrospect, I don’t know why we didn’t just stay at the first member’s house.....but oh well.  It was pretty windy while we were running, but it hadn’t started to rain yet....so we decided to go a little bit further to our next appointment with an investigator, and we made it just in time!  It was a blessing indeed....because the rain was nuts!  It all cleared out within an hour or so, but it cooled everything off for a couple days....which was such a blessing.  

Yesterday at church we didn’t have a single less active at church.  Not a single one.  And we only had Marissa, our investigator who is more faithful than most members at church....not any other investigators.  It was kind of a sad Sunday in that respect.  We feel like we work so hard, trying to new things to get people excited and interested in returning to church.....but yesterday there wasn’t anybody.  And the regular members are watching.  Sometimes it feels like finals week every Sunday.....because all the fruit from your work for the week is usually seen at church on Sunday.  But...that’s okay.  We will just try again this week.  

On Friday Chad and I hit our 6 month mark on the mission.  How crazy!!!  The time is flying.  There really isn’t much to write home about because I just barely emailed on Wednesday, so I think I will just start to send pictures that I have been meaning to send but have never had time.  

I love you all more than the number of Argentine kids who are given American names (Austin, Ashley Kevin, David, Jessica, and so on.... just pronounced with an Argentine accent so they sound a little different),

Hermana Withers    

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Christmas phone calls! Miracles

Mother's note:  
On Christmas we were able to talk to both Rebecca and Chad. They both looked and sounded great.  We talked and laughed and listened to them share testimonies in Spanish. Through prayers and miracles, the internet connections worked.  It was truly the best Christmas present ever.

January 1, 2014

Dear Family,
This week has been crazy.  It was really awesome to talk to you all.  The heap of technical problems blasted away when I heard your voices and saw your familiar faces.  I was glad to hear that you are all doing well.  

One of the members in the ward here is so happy.  He baptized his mom!  My companion and I were asking the Oyarce-Saez family for references, and they told us about his mom.  They said she was about the last person in the world that they thought would join the church.  When her son joined the church 5 years ago, she was against it the whole time.  We got her phone number and address, and passed the reference to the Coyquen ward, which is where she lives.  She was a heavy drinker, and smoked too.  But when the missionaries in the Coyquen ward passed by, she was very receptive.  She had been prepared to listen and was baptized in 3 weeks.  My companion and I were so happy, we went to the baptismal service, and the son borrowed my baptismal clothes.  The first person he baptized was his mother, and it was his birthday too.

Miracle of the week: Just yesterday, Sunday, my companion was sick with a fever, so he stayed in the house with another elder from our district.  I went to do some visits with the companion of the other guy.  We did this so that we could visit investigators of both the companionships. Anyway, I forgot where the appointment was.  It was house number 49, and the genius who put numbers on all the houses decided to have houses in the 1800s across the street from the hundreds.  To make a short walk long, I wasn’t able to find the house, until I said a silent prayer. As soon as I said amen, I had the impression to look to my left, and then I realized that we were really close.  We were looking at the 1800s, but the house was just across the street, and a few houses down.  We got into the house and had a good lesson, and it never would have happened had we just kept going without taking the decision to pray.  

I know the church is true.  I really do.  If you have faith that God can your answer prayers, you can have a testimony.  Read the scriptures.  Pray.  Go to church.  The 3 Sunday School answers are the gateway to revelation from on high.

Thanks for all the awesome Christmas wishes.  
I love you all more than the number of snowflakes that fell in cold places last night.
-Elder Chad Withers


Dear Family,
It’s been so long since I have sent an email!  But these last weeks have been excellent and the highlight of Christmas was most definitely being able to talk to you guys.  I am so grateful all of the connections and timing worked out....such a huge blessing.  

All is well here in La Paz.  Besides being good missionaries, our most recent obsession has been finding ways to stay cool.  I love my mission, but I am praying that summer passes kind of quickly.

For Christmas Eve we sang on the radio for La Paz.  Our mission leader Pepe, is the manager for the radio here, and is known as “The voice of La Paz”.  We sang Christmas hymns and it was so fun!  I recorded it all with my voice recorder and if I have time will try to send it today.  And then after singing, we went over to Pepe’s house for a huge Christmas feast.  First he fed us lamb, then chicken, then beef, with lots of potatoes, salad, and bread.  It was a super Argentine dinner with all the meat!  It was fun though.  Here in Argentina, Chritsmas Eve is a bigger deal than Christmas.  Everyone stays up to party, light off fireworks, and then sleeps for all of Christmas morning and then just hangs out for the rest of the day.

Christmas was fun too!  I opened the presents I had already received, and it was so fun.  More than anything the best present ever was being able to talk to you guys.  The afternoon of Christmas we went to the church to watch Monsters University.....and I love that movie!  Even though it was in Spanish, it reminded me of watching it for the first time in Mall of America.  

Because the temperatures have been so high, and the humidity so thick.....it finally rained!  It cooled off a ton, and rained not only once but twice.  I have never felt so loved by Heavenly Father.  Those rainstorms were an absolute blessing.  With the last storm came a ton of really strong wind in the night.  Yesterday we were out walking and we saw tons of fallen or broken trees, some houses beat up, and one of our member’s houses had a whole wall fall down.  We are going to go back and help put it back together.  Houses here are kind of flimsy, so any big wind storm like that gets scary.  

The Lord is really blessing us with lots of success right now.  We have found 7 new people within one week to teach, and on Thursday I met the first person I have ever known here in Argentina who isn’t a member, but who is married.....and has been married for 16 years!  Such a rarity here.  Our investigator Marisa is still doing great and is on date for the beginning of February (still don’t have an actual fixed date because she doesn’t know when she will be back from her wedding in Neuquén), and we have another investigator named Graciella who is progressing leaps and bounds.  Crazy thing though is that Graciella is a 37 year old grandma. Oh....the law of chastity is so desperately needed here!  All is well though.  The people here are kind, the Lord is providing us with lots of opportunities to teach and find more people.  

Last week I had kind of a cool experience.  We were walking up the road we always walk, it’s a hill with a bend that curves to the left....and I had the impression that people were praying for me right then in that moment.  I know that people pray for the missionaries all the time, but for the first time ever I was able to feel them.  I will never forget that feeling, because it was so distinct and powerful.  I love being a missionary and know that there are literally thousands of others doing the same things as me.  

Last but not least.....Happy New Year!  It’s kind of fun to think about, but for me I will spend all of 2014 as a missionary.  Crazy!  It’s going to be excellent.  

Thanks for everything and for being so awesome!  
I love you all more than the number of fireworks that went off to ring in the New Year!

Hermana Withers