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 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

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