Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Conference Week!

Questions from the family: 

Did you enjoy Women's conference?
yes I did! I asked the Elders like 5 times during the week about making sure they could get it set up in English and well.... I watched it in Spanish. Someone lent me there phone to try and get it working in English last minute, but with the choppy signal, it was easier to understand in Spanish. So I didn't really listen to the first two talks cause I was trying to get it to work, but loved what I heard! I really liked President Uchtdorf's talk. 

That was such a cool story about meeting the Vega's! She was soo happy when we told her. 
haha, everytime I see her Dad he asks, "Do you have any news from Grisel??" And I say, "Its not Monday yet!" :)

How is Abraham this week? (Abraham is the cow outside of their apartment)
Well, Abraham is now named Jeremiah. It seemed to fit him better. We're working on naming his other two friends. 

Will you watch General Conference in English or Spanish? 
well....  good question. If the Elders aren't gonna do anything here to see it in English, I'm gonna go to the Paloma where our HLC is and watch it there. She'll take better care of me :) 

Are you good friends with any elders down there? 
I try to be friends with all the Elders! Within limits, of course. :) But yes, I do have some friends! Theres too many to list but I know about everyone in the mission (I'm like old in the mission now... what??) Elder Prince, who was in my MTC district and helped with stuff there, is one of them. He's a good friend to run in to every now and then. 

What is your favorite part of saltos? 
I dont know, I like it all!!

Some things that I forgot to tell you guys last week is that I have officially eaten cow's tongue and also cow's stomach. The stomach was weird, the tongue was weirdly good but the whole time I just kept thinking about a cows mouth so it was weird to eat. 

Also one fun thing this week was that I went on a division to the Paloma which was a nice break. And the funnest part was that people speak a TON of Portuguese there!! The Hermana I was with was born and lived in Brazil until she was five, so she understands it all and I was just standing there cracking up as people just spoke full out Portuguese to us. I turned to her and was like, "You understand this?!?" I understood about 60-70% of it all, which is pretty good. I'm not sure if I told you guys this statistic that a General Authority told us, but he said that if you can speak English and Spanish you can communicate with 80% of the population of the church. And add to that a basic knowledge of Portuguese and you can communicate with 90%. I'm going for the 90%! :) If I already told you guys that, sorry for the repeat. 

I'm looking forward to this week because we have interviews with President on Thursday and then conference!! It should be a good week. :) 
Sorry this letter stinks, I don't have much to say and I'm kind of stressed so am not writing very well.
But I love you all and I love this work!! I'll be praying extra for Kayla and sending my love her way from here in Salto!!

lots of love,
Hermana Rawlins

p.s. sorry no pictures this week, I had some good ones but the computer's not cooperating and taking forever so I just gave up. next week maybe :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

What is real faith?

Ok you're not going to believe it!!!!

So this week everyone was talking about a temple worker from Asuncion that was in town visiting his family and I was like "oh cool." DIdnt think anything of it. Then they show up on Sunday and the hermano asks me where Im from and I say Philadelphia. And he looks super surprised and says "Ive been to Broomhall." And I was like whhaaaatt. And then he says yeah and I've been to Pennypack too, my daughters live there and we visit them!" So I was like "No way thats so cool!" And he says "Did you meet my wife? She's gonna be so happy!" And I was like "Well I kissed her, but I didnt meet her yet!" (only in latin america... :)
 And then sacrament started so we stopped talking. And then during sacrament meeting I was like wait, I should totally ask him if he knows the Vega family, theyre from Paraguay he's for sure met them up there in America!! So afterwards I go up to him and his wife and they're so excited and before I can ask them he pulls out a picture of their family and is like look this is our family, this is Grisel, and I go WAIT THATS SISTER VEGA!!!!. I know your daughter!!" They freaked out and I was like "yeah I went to girls camp with your granddaughter Giselle!!!". And they whipped out a pic of her too and they were just delighted and made me promise to visit them this week. It was very happy.
Who wouldve thought, here in Saltos I would meet Gizzy's grandparents! And also her cousin who was there too! Such a small world!!!

So another fun thing from this week is that it was the first day of Spring here so in sacrament meeting there were special musical numbers about spring and everything and I legit thought that this coming conference is the one in May. Then I realized that its September and just got really confused. Spring in September?? It cant be. 
I'm waay excited for conference!! Its just the best! And this conference for me basically marks my year mark! I cant believe it. I really cant. Elder Worthington is my zone leader here and he came in with me in the mission. So he's all excited and anxious to be saying he's got a year in the mission, he's been saying it since we got here in Saltos. And he laughs at me cause I keep saying 11 months! I don't want to have a year, because then after a year you only have 6 months left!! This time ends??

Lastly, I want to share my thoughts on faith. Its probably one of the biggest things I have learned on my mission. What is real faith? I've included a picture of the way I decorated my agenda last transfer, including some more of my thoughts on the back. I like the picture on the front because I like the little tiny light in the distance. It doesnt matter that it is far away, it is there. And so we walk towards it. The Lord gives us the power to make it. Also Esther is on the back because she is just the best example of faith there ever was. In the spanish bible dictionary her definition is just simply "woman of great faith." 
As President LaPierre once taught me, there is a difference between faith and belief. Belief is what sits on a shelf. Lots of people BELIEVE in God. But FAITH is something different. It is something concrete. Faith is what stands up and walks out the door. Faith moves forward without doubting.
I wanted to share this because of the job situation, and because of how Brian's health is. I don't know how things will work out. But I have faith in my Lord and Savior, so I will move forward. We will move forward. "Faith is standing up and going even when you cant see anything". This I know, The Lord knows, loves, and takes care of each of His missionaries, and each of His children. Each and every one.

Questions from the family: 

do you get to watch the general women's meeting on saturday? 
yes I do!! I'm so pumped! And im hoping to get to watch it in English, but Ill be watching it alone cause no other sister here speaks English! 

does nobody eat vegetables down there at all?? 
do potatoes count as a vegetable? that and boiled and sliced carrots are all I see

Have you named that cow you watch while studying yet?
No, but know I think it will officially be Abraham. Its got a nice ring.

How are things in Saltos? How is it going figuring out what is needed there? Are you getting more comfortable?

good, good, and yes! Whats really needed here is what President wrote me about today in my letter. We need men ready to hold and use the Priesthood, and families coming to the gospel for "Real" growth. There have been a lot of children baptisms by the sisters here lately, which is nice, but doesnt help the branch grow. President wrote me and told me that what Saltos needs is "mature" missionary work and to do my thing and it will work great. So that I will. If you guys can pray for us to find families with men prepared for the Priesthood that would be LOVELY.

Lots of love,
your Hermana Rawlins :)

I think I'm just gonna head over to Brazil and take care of Brian.
I'm pretty sure my eyes are closed in this picture, but I like it anyway. This is the newest feature of one of the neighborhoods we work in, to wash clothes and bathe. I seriously love Paraguay, its beautiful!!

my agenda about faith
This is our little house in the campo in Saltos!
This is a pic of what we did for fun today, which was wear normal clothes, eat pizza, watch a movie, and play sports. and we played SOCCER!!!! Ahhh it was only for like 15 minutes but I loved it 

Saltos del GuairĂ¡!

So this weeks been a hard one just because I reeally really dont like changing areas and starting over from scratch. Before my mission I asked Mike what the hardest part of the mission was for him, and he said transfers. Now I understand that. I'm not sad because I miss Encarnacion too much or anything cause I wasn't there very much time, but transfers are like moving, all alone, every three months. Not too fun, but definitely worth it in the end. 

So I'm still getting my bearings and getting comfortable, but I really love Saltos. Its awesome. I LOVE Paraguayan campo, and I feel at home here. Which I'm now realizing I never thought I would say. But I do. The branch has the normal problems, but it seems the more problems there are the easier it is to love them. We are craaazy close to Brazil, which I LOVE. (any guesses why...?) People here speak a hilarious mixture of spanish, guarani, and portuguese. Its AWESOME. Today I bought something and the lady spoke to me about it in Portuguese (I bascially understood) and then charged me in Reales. But I paid in Guaranis cause its all Ive got haha.

Also, someone the other day served us beets. You have no idea how excited I was to see and eat a vegetable that I ate a ton even though it was beets, ew.
Also, the other day I saw a chicken crossing the road. A full, double laned road and everything and this one lone chicken just booking it across. So funny. My companion didnt get it :)

Questions from the family: 

What was your journey like? 
Loong. We didnt get here until Thursday in the afternoon.

Were you alone for it?
Nope, I traveled with other missionaries from Encarnacion to  Cuidad del Este Wednesday afternoon, and then met my companion there. We stayed the night with sisters in Cuidad Del Este and then we traveled to Saltos Thursday in the morning.

So more campo, eh? that sounds great. Tell us everything you can!
Yes!!! I looove it. Seriously so much!

Was it hard saying goodbye? 
yes and no, not as hard as Virasoro

Does it get any easier as a missionary who is almost at the year point?
haha, easier in what aspect?? I have learned to love it, so yes that makes it easier. But the work of salvation is an every day battle. 

I also wanted to ask you how teaching piano is going (or went)!  Will you still be doing that in your new area? 
It was really fun, for the three weeks I had to do it haha :) Yes, we will be doing it again in this area, Friday nights at 7! You're all invited and bring friends! :)

How have things gone for you in Salto? That sounded like a crazy trip up there.
Good! So we got here Thursday and then my comp tells me we're moving pensions so we hauled all of my stuff and also all the stuff from the pension to another little house out in the campe that's waaay nicer but I forgot to take a picture of it sorry! Theres a picture of us moving attached. We loaded up the truck like that and then the 4 of us missionaries climbed on on top of all that stuff and we were bumping along through the Paraguayan campo with the wind and the stars and all of a sudden I was just like, "I really love my life." just in case you were wondering. 

Im doing well in Saltos, I promise!! I love the people and the pure humility they teach me. I pray for you all and Im glad to hear that things are well back home, and that Pennsbury is still beating Council Rock at football. All is right with the world :)

Hermana Rawlins

birthday cupcakes from a shop we found in Encarnacion! 
This is the Delgado Family. They are awesome and the ones who made me a cake and we had a family night on Monday night.
Then we got home from that and the sisters from an area nearby came for the night and had a cute cake and present waiting for me!
This was saying goodbye to R. We were all crying by the end, because after the lesson we taught him he ended with the SWEETEST prayer I have ever heard asking God to bless me in my travels and keep me safe. 
Found a butterfly on my last night in Encarnacion and it couldnt fly so we brought it to the pension with us
Can we talk about the condition of my shoes?
This is the inside. Im pretty sure that piece that is only half a footprint, was once a whole piece
 moving all our stuff
Please enjoy this really awkward picture of me and Brazil.
Today we went to "Shopping China" a store that is just 100 percent imports. It was the best thing ever. A kid in the candy shop has a new meaning for me, becuase I literally was one and practically skipping down the aisles. 
I didn't buy it, because it was 100 dollars. If it was anything less than 98 I might have considered it. :)
the view I have while I study every morning. Yes, the cow is there every morning.
me and hermana torres!! Today is Guatemala's Independence day, hence the celebration :)
typical road in Saltos!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Birthdays and Cambios!

So first of all ahh so much birthday love!!! I can't handle it!! I have ZERO time to respond to everyone who sent me an email, but just know that I appreciate it all so much and they're all printed out for me to read and treasure!! Thank you for the love!! :) 
the birthday love started on Thursday when I got my package!! I couldn't wait to open it so promptly did haha :) Hermana Tapia and I took a video of me opening it like on Christmas, so you can all look forward to seeing that in the future :) I LOVED it all! packages are extra special because they're few and far between and so I was pretty happy :) I don't have time to name it all and thank you for it all, but THANK YOU!! :) there, that should cover it :) What it really made me realize though, is that what I love isn't in the things. they're not what made me happy (besides the mint oreos- those are pure heaven :). What I loved most about getting it was in the things that made me think most about you guys. I pictured Alli picking out the shoes for me, dad putting in all the crystal light packets like we drank together at work, and who is it that remembered mint oreos are my favorite? :) And ISSAC (Amanda's nephew) oh my gosh I looked at his pictures like 10 times over and over again. He's waay cuter than gmail does him justice, I can't wait to meet him!! (Oh by the way, ese I got your letter with the pictures too! thanks, so cute!! :). 
Also, it made me realize that one thing I am seriously lacking is pictures of my family. I came on the mission with two. One of the family together, and one of brian and Elder Espiritu Santo. So can you guys slip pictures in regular envelopes and send a few? Pictures of whatever really, kayla's selfies, me and brian, pictures of the family together, I don't have any of Alli's wedding, anything! I realize that this is probably super belated as I only have 7 months left. oops. Anyway yay pictures! I love you guys so much and want to see you! :)
Also another reason is because no one here believes me about what I did before in my life! No one believes I played soccer, was a lifeguard, or liked science. Anyway, I've gotten off on a tangent. :)

So the other big new item is cambios! I thought for SURE I was gonna stay here in encarnacion aand... nope. I'm going to Saltos del Guaira, which is super super far away from everything. It's six hours to Cuidad del Este and then another 3 or more up to Saltos. I've kind of always had a feeling that I was going to go up north to Paraguay, but also been kind of afraid to. It's really campo, not that that's a bad thing, just means more adventures!! And I think I'm going to miss the centro a little because... they have everything here. But I won't miss working in the centro, so that will be a nice change :) It's also super super close to Brazil so I'm hoping to pick up some Portuguese!! Eu no falo nada. haha. literally. I think thats super wrong.
Saltos is where Hermana Anderson started her mission, so I'm sure she's super pumped. You can probably check out her blog for pics. My companion is Hermana Torres, who is from Guatemala and has about 4 months in the mission I think? and I have never met her, but they say she's nice! And I'm also not an HLC anymore, which is fine. The zone already has one and doesnt need another one, so I'll just do my thing. 
Also, I'm going to miss Hermana Tapia. We've really had a ton of fun together and I love her a lot.

To celebrate my birthday we went to a cute place for lunch, worked on my present for Alli which is currently uploading to dropbox :), and then another pair of hermanas are coming once we leave the cyber and the zone leaders gave us permission to watch... SATURDAY'S WARRIOR yaaaayy!! :) It helps that the zone leader's mom is in it, haha :) So that'll be fun and then we have a family night with an AMAZING family here who is just really the best, and also with my favorite investigator that we have. I don't want to say goodbye to her she reminds me of my sisters! :) And then tomorrow will be full of packing and saying goodbye and then wednesday I'll be traveling allll day to Saltos! The next time you hear from me I'll be all the way up there!!

Okay I've got one spiritual thought for you guys this week that I loved. We watched Finding Faith in Christ with a family and at the part where Christ blesses the bread and fishes for the thousands, the thought came to mind. "It is the same with us." God has given us talents and ablities, but even when we do all we can do with them, it comes short. We manage to bless or help only a few people with our supply of 5 loaves and 2 fishes. "But what are they among so many?" (John 6:9). But that's okay with the Lord!! He didn't chastise or yell at the little boy for only having a little. Christ understands us and loves us. And it is only in the moment when we hand over what we have willingly to the Lord, we give Him our all, as little or humble as it might be, that a miracle occurs. We say,"okay, well today I've only got these 5 loaves and 2 fishes to offer", and He takes us, blesses us, and then only through His grace is our offering miraculously turned into something extraordinary. Because of His power and touch, it is made to bless thousands

I'm not sure if I explained that the way it is in my head, just think about it some and it will probably make sense :) 

I just love you all so much and am so so thankful for my eternal family and for the many many people I can call my friends. Your love means waay more down here in Paraguay than you will understand, but I will forever be thankful for it. 

here's to new adventures!! :)

Love love love,
Hermana Rawlins :) 

me and my awesome new shoes!! 
almost cried. legit. I still havent eaten them yet, saving them for the perfect moment... which will probably be this afternoon :) 

the Elder was good to his word and the package came with this stickey note haha :) 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Work of Salvation

So this week has been busy and good!!
On thursday was our zone conference with the Mission President which are always just so awesome! In it he was presenting that comparison thing I sent you guys, but it was sad because he had troubles crossing the border so he got there like 3 hours late and so the assisstants just presented that part by himself. So I didnt get to see President talk about it, but it's fine I trust that it was good!

I also took advantage of the opportunity to get a priesthood blessing from President LaPierre which are just always great to have and made me happy! He told me in it that I have a very special, real way of representing Christ and that people will come to know of Him and His love just by knowing me. So that was super nice to hear, you know? He also told me "just stop with the self-doubt" and "Take what people say to you, spit out the bad, and eat the good. There's some farming advice for you" :) which made me laugh and think of my grandparents haha :) so that was awesome!

Then on Saturday R got baptized!!! He is just the sweetest and it was awesome and super great for him! But also sad because no one he knows came to it! The people he lives with wanted to come but didnt so he was all alone and sad but still cheerful about it. It broke me and Hermana Tapia's hearts. But the solid fact remains that it is THE church of Jesus Christ and that the covenants and ordinances we have are saving ordinances. The door to the celestial kingdom is now open to R, and that is what really matters.

Then yesterday we had consejo which was also really nice to go to!! I got to see Hermana Gonzalez for the first time since we parted ways after she trained me, and that was sooooo weird to see her again. And after only like 6 months! So, family and friends, watch out cause misisonary reunions are like the weirdest things ever. But happy too! :) Also it turned out that ALL my companions were there!! So we took a picture and that was fun :)
ALSO, Hermana Anderson only has TWO transfers left before she goes home! What the heck, people really go home? She's all pumped fro winter semester at BYU but its soo weird cause its totally a different world. I think I'll just stay here in paraguay forever cause I've forgotten everything about America and am kind of scared of it. just kidding take me back please. :) 

Sorry I dont have much particulary exciting to share this week. One thing that I did like was something President shared in the zone conference. He said "This is the work of salvation. This is what God wants for everyone of His children. So why is it so, so hard? Why is it? I haven't discovered all of the answer, but I do know one part of it. That is the change that happens in the missionary."

I know that is true. I love what I'm learning here, I wouldnt give it up for anything anything. I love this opportunity - this privilege - to serve the Lord and more than anything, to come to know Him. That privilege is worth any price. 
I love you all so much and miss you too!! Next time we talk I'll be 20! (what the heck? 20?!?) 

all my love,
Hermana Rawlins :)

One more from the ruins two weeks ago!

me and hermana trillo and finlinson, the sisters in Pilar!

R's baptism! my earrings I just got as a present from Hermana Stanfield in Virasoro, she crocheted them for me!

me and all of my companions!!