Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Week 21 - Ibarra, Ecuador - 26 May 2014

Hola Mi Hermosa Familia!

Well, where can I start?! This week was amazing. I feel so blessed and lucky to be here in Ibarra, and even more so here in Ecuador. Siliva was baptized and confirmed this past weekend, and I am so happy. Although the program maybe wasn`t the most organized, it turned out beautiful. Many things went slightly array for example. The church building was out of gas to heat the water! So we brought our own gas from our house, which was a little bit of a struggle because it was super heavy.... but definitely worth it. When we had the water runnign adn everything was perfect, we came to check on the faunt a couple hours later and it was scorching hot. So we carried buckets of cold water to cool it down. On top of that the key  for the church kept getting stuck in the keylocks for the different rooms we needed to access, so we were a little stressed about that as well. And when everything was in place and ready to go, we didn`t have white pants that fit the branch president to baptize Silvia. Thankfully our District Leader came just in time to attend the baptism, and had the feeling that he needed to bring white pants and a tie. Whew! It was so great that our Branch President came and directed the meeting and baptized Hermana Silvia! Our branch president is passing through a refiner`s fire right now. He has a brand new baby, and recently lost his job. He is also relatively new, and the branch doesn`t support him as much as it should. And did I aso mention he is a convert of 4 years? Ya.. well he actually is really amazing and works so hard to help the branch. At first we didn`t really understand him because he didn`t come to the stake meeting for leaders or to my first 2 ward councils, but after Hermana Silvera and I took the time to visit him, offer our service,and share a message of hope, we have seen him work even harder. Anyway! Back to the baptism! After Silvia was baptized, she bore her testimony and I could feel the spirit so strongly She bore witness of the Book of Mormon, that even though we told her to pray and ask God if it was true she didn`t need to do that, becuase she can feel the spirit and the love of God everytime she opens the book to read (We`ve only bee teaching her for 3 weeks and shes in Alma). I also got to sing Nearer my God to Thee, and you know how much I love to sing, There was a love and spirit present in the air...Silvia was wiping tears from her eyes. All of the stress from the hour before started to melt away and I enjoyed the moment. A lot of members came to the baptism as well and Silvia was able to feel the love and support from the branch. We talked about temples and how her next step is to go to the temple! In the end, the baptism was a beautiful success!

After the baptism, we taught the Familia Vinueza in the church building about the temple, and I enjoyed especially seeing David`s face light up about the prospect of eternal families. David, and his two daughters had their baptismal interviews with Elder Lindeman, our District Leader after the lesson, and everything went great! They will be baptized this saturday! We are so excited for them. One thing I have realized through teaching them, is the importance of daily checking up. We have been able to check up on them almost everyday in order to read the book of mormon with them. Now, reading scriptures as a family has become habit and they are progressing so much. On Tuesday, Our zone leaders came with us to teach this family, and it was very neat. Elder Cedeño and Elder Olivares shared their testimonies about the importance of not necessarily needing to know everything in order to be baptized, but needing a testimony, or an answer to a prayer. We also talked about the priesthood, and how its very important for the head of the household to possess this grand power. And that the priesthood is crucial when it comes to having a successful family. I really think after this lesson, David became much more excited for his baptism.   

Wow! And miracles are real. On sunday, before the meetings we were pretty sad, because we didn`t have any promising new investigators. New investigators that we had been working with-- The Juma Family, and Visente--- didnt come to church. We were feeling pretty desperate for new investigators. And then, we received a phone call! From one of our contacts the week before, Simón. He told us that he wanted to come to church and was on his way to the building. Talk about God leading and preparing the elect! We waited outside the gate for him, and then introduced him to the Elder`s Quorum President, Hermano Meneses. Hermano Meneses was so great, he sat by Simón throughout the meeting, and even grabbed him a copy of the May Liahona to read (the conference talks) Simón stayed for all the classes afterwards, and then we were able to teach him outside the buiding on the grass. We wanted the purpose of this lesson to be to answer any of his questions about what he learned in church. But really he just wanted to know about prophets and the priesthood, and so we rolled right into Lesson 1. The spirit was so strong, and he opened up and told us that he feels bored and guilty with the way he is living and he wants to change and improve for the better. He has investigated many churches, but said their is something different about our church, and that he wants to be baptised. He has to leave to go to Guayacil some time in June, and so he doesn`t know if he will be here to be baptized but we are praying that everything will work out, and that even if he has to go to guayacil, he will be able to continue learning more about the restored gospel! 
Well that was our week! Hermana Silvera and I had a little rough patch on Saturday, but we talked about and we`re fine. I think the way that I express myself is sometimes very direct and I need to always rememeber to be careful and mindful of feelings. I learned that I need to always ask her what she thinks and for her opinion. I was always just used to stating my opinion with Hermana Madrid, and then Hermana Madird would boldly state her opinion, but now I know that with Hermana Silvera its not the same. I need to ask and be aware of her opinions or tense feelings build up inside of her... and we fall into silence and can`t feel the spirit as strongly. I am learning so much from her, like to have hope in everyone, and to be humble. We are having a great change and I am glad to call her my friend:)

There are hard days, and their are beatiful days, and God is present always. In the way the mountains touch the clouds with just the right tint of sunlight, in the way we feel love for everyone that we meet, in the way I know that the purpose of this life is to tie families together under binding convenants in the temple for eternities on end. I am so grateful for this mission. I can`t imagine how my life would be if I had not decided to serve a mission. I love this work so much!! Hasta la proxima semana! Les quiero mucho!

Hermana Powley

Week 20 - Ibarra, Ecuador - 19 May 2014

Hola mi Querida Familia!

This week has been great! I feel like Hermana Silvera and I have gotten close and we are able to really teach with the spirit.Some fun facts about my companion. She was baptized when she was 15, and is the only member in her family. After a couple months from being baptized she inactivated for 3 years. And then she decided to turn her life around and go back to church. She told me the hardest part about returning to church wasn`t just the repentance but being accepted in the ward. I see her through different eyes now. She is one of the strognest people I know. And I feel for her. I never want anyone in my ward to feel that way. If someone is trying to return back into the fold of God, we should never judge ony accept with open arms. I am so glad to have her with me, her testimony is so incredibly strong and she is super real. She understands the point of view of the investigator, the less active, and the leaders (did I mension she was also called to be secretary of the stake primary one year after she re-activated?) Wow I have an amazing companion. We have so much fun, we laugh after people reject us and we just keep going, I hope thats OK. But more than anything we are happy adn the spirit is with us. I have gotten to the point sometimes where after praying or studying I feel the spirit so strongly tears come to my eyes. I think this is one of the fruits of my maravilla de mayo. We set goals at the beginning of May to develop an attribute of Christ of our choosing. My "Maravillla de Mayo" is virtue. I have been able to see a change in the way I think... I don`t think in away where I focus on what I`m doing wrong..  but rather what I`m doing right and the things I can improve. I`ve discovered new stengths that I never knew I had, like planning, setting goals, making cake ;). The Lord has opened up my mind in ways that I never thought would be possible. I feel so much love for those around me.. and I know its because I have chosen to focus on having more virtue. Positive and clean thoughts filled with love and meekness. I have learned even more deeply how the power of prayer can change behavior and attitude. I have been able to really relate to one of our investigators, Silvia who will be baptized this Friday. Silvia was addicted to smoking, but we helped her make a plan to quit which included a lot of prayer, a lot of memorized scripture, and alot of reading the Book of Mormon. She has grown so much. I know without a doubt that she will be strong in the gospel because she has learned how to depend on the Lord. She truly has a testimony. I love her. I have seen how the Atonement has changed her behavior. She is filled with hope and focus. As I`ve watched her progress I have been able to seemy own progress as well. I think this is what missionary work is all about. Every time when we go to teach her her testimony fills my eyes with tears. Truly I feel like an instrument in God`s hands. We had her interview yesterday and she is ready!
Also we have been teaching David, Luisa, and Alexandra Vinueza. Their baptismal date was set for this weekend as well, but because David and Aexandra were unable to assist this Domingo we decided to change the date for next weekend.. This way we can have the baptismal interview this Friday night and announce theit upcoming baptism in sacrament Meeting in order to have total suport from the ward. Something truly miraculous is the progress we have been able to see in Luisa. Luisa used to be very reserved and struck us as kind of a rebellious child. Her Mom died about a year ago. But after we taught the Plan of Salvation, I can see a new type of light in her eyes. She came to church yesterday with her dad, David`s grifriend, Mercedes (A newly reactivated member) This was another miracel for the week. We talked about the gift of the holy ghost with them last night, adn they are excited to receive this companion to be able to make right choices and to have this companion of peace. David, more than anything is gaining a testimony of the church. He told us yesterday that he feels a special peace and happiness when he reads the book of mormon with his family and when he goes to church! This is the influnece of the Holy Ghost! Just imagine what it will be like when you receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, we told him.
Fun Story: I don`t know if you knew or not but a coupe years back a pair of sister missionaries was kidnapped in Guatamala. Anyway.. so our releif society president of the rama was one of those missionaries! One day when she was accompaning us to visit investigators she told us the whole story! And wow.. it all started with a lady telling them she wanted to be baptized with her husband and telling them to come visit later that night. And so ya.. Gladis and her companion went to this house and it was a trap! These man were waiting with knifes and they tied them up and everything. They were threatened and held ransom and beaten. I had no idea stufff like that even happened anymore. It reminds me of Alma and Amulek. Any way Gladis is just telling us this story like it was funny. I love hershe is so positive. Eventually the Mission President got together with the police force in guatemala and they saved the sisters.. but its the coolest story ever. Gladis would have to tell you... its a long story. Any way you could imagine that Hermana Silvera and I were a little bit on our toes the next day walking down the street in the dark to our last appointment. It was with a man named Pablo and he wanted to meet us outside of a school. We made it to the school and then Pabl drove up in his truck and parked in a little street a longside the school. We were kind of freaking out. There were some ladies waiting on the side of the street we contacted them and then almost begged them to accompany us, they were like.. Oh we know Pablo.. he`s fine! Then Pablo`s cousin comes out from the dark narrow road, and says we`re waiting for you sisters! Come over by the truck theres more light up the road (the little narrow road that looked like it led into the forbidden forest) we were like ok.. coming! And we said a little prayer in our hearts and didn`t feel to scared so we walked over to them. And itwas totally fine. Pablo is great he accepted baptism and everything. We were just a little spooked. We laughed so hard walking back from the lesson. I guess we are just girls sometimes. But if the spirit had told us not to go up the road after we prayed we wouldn`t have done it. Just so ya`ll don`t worry too much about us. Anyway thats my phone story for the week!
I love you all so much! Que Dios les bendiga! 
Hermana Powley

Monday, May 12, 2014

Week 19 - Ibarra, Ecuador - 12 May 2014

Mi Querida Family,
It was really great to hear from all of you  yesterday! Sorry I kind of broke down at the end.. I really wasn´t sad.. just so incredibly happy. I had no idea how blessed we really are to be in such a great, solid, strong family... tied together for eternity through temple ordinances. It was so amazing to see Andrew on the other side... I kind of had deja vu for a little bit remebering the times we were together calling him on mothers day and christmas.. It was interesting to be the missionary this time. I wish you all the best of luck this week. Andrew in interviews, Rachel in the AP test, Liz with finishing up Junior Year, Matt being a menace with his lacrosse (keep that bracelet on ya hear), and Thomas with his baseball bat. I wish I had a cool story to share this week... Just that for P-day today we decided to help the other sisters in our district deep clean their house because it had been inhabited for the past couple years by a dirty specimen: se llaman Elders. The house reaked.. we cleaned up cockroaches in the cupboards, earth from the corners of the floor. And some strange vegetable that had been sitting in a drawer for who knows how long. I feel bad that Hermana Corne and Hermana Wight had to live their for a week before having time to clean! Now the house sparkles, and smells slightly of bleach with an overwaft of apples and cinnamon. We Hermanas, truly are the army of helaman. 
I am so happy to be here in Ibarra with Hermana Silvera. We have been trying really hard this week to work as diligently as we can. I realized that I need to push myself every day... contact every person I see. And challenge many people to baptism. I´ve been able to feel really good at the end of each day because of my efforts. I´ve also  been able to see this week the power of goalmaking. We have an investigator named Sylvia who´s baptismal date is for the 24th of May. We found out this week that she has a smoking addiction. And we were able to help her make a game plan in order to superar este prueba. She still really wants to be baptized on the 23rd, and so she has real desires to complete this goal. We gave her a list of scriptures to memorize that bring a lot of strength, like Moroni 10:32. We also challenged her to throw out all the cigarettes in her house and to not buy more. Everytime she feels the urge to smoke, or feels lonely or down, she is to get down on her knees and start to pray. She told us on Saturday during a tour, that so far its working, and she just thinks about how much she wants to be baptized and she finds strentgh. Sylvia has so much faith in the Lord and it makes me so happy to see her progressing. We really can feel such a strong spirit when we are with her. Also she told us that the relief soceity president, Gladis came to visit her with her counselors. Sivlia said this made a huge difference. She can really feel the support from the ward. More than anything, this made me super grateful. There´s such a great relief or joy when you know that the ward is helping with the missioanry effort. I can´t describe it. All you members out there.. help the missionaries out.. but more than that.. its actually really just helping out our Heavenly father, adn bringing people back into the fold of Christ. After the tour on Saturday Silvia stayed at the church for a relief soceity activity. All the members interacted with her and she had a good time! Silvia really is "de oro". The elders were able to give her a priesthood blessing as well. The only thing is, because of mothers day, she wasn´t able to come to church on Sunday because a friend came to visit. I know.. it doesn´t make much sense... so we´re going to talk to her about keeping the sabbath day holy.
We also were able to teach the Familia Vinueza who have baptismal date for the 24th. They are really trying to read the Book of Mormon.. but in our lesson with them last night, the dad told us that he would really like to read the scriptures as a family each night. This was great for us! He truly wants to have more unity in the family, and knows that reading the book of mormon will bring that peace. We made a plan for them as well. Each night at 8.00 en punto, van a leer El Libro de Mormon juntos at the dinner table. I think we might just call them at 8.05 tonight to see if their cumpliendo eso. They also were unable to come to church because family came to visit for mothers day. I can clearly see that this week we need to focus in on keeping the sabbath day holy and church attendance. This is going to be our focus, that and contacting this week. We want this so bad that our weekly goals for investigators in sacrament meeting this week is 7. I know as we put in all our efforts, God will do his part as well.
One of my goals this month, is to be more virtuous. Never thinking negative thoughts or saying anything negative about anyone or anything.. including myself. NEver doubting in my potential. Becoming pure in mind and heart. One of the steps in my plan in order to be more virtuous is to memorize 3 hymns this month. I memorized my first hymn in Spanish this week, Tan Humilde al Nacer (all 4 verses) and I´m excited to get to work on the next one this week. Hermana Silvera is a great help with this.. we practice on the bus and on the streets. I have made a book mark with lines and I´m using it as I read the book of Mormon (In spanish I might add). When I come across a verse that I think applies to the value virtue... or just applies in helping me have a more pure, joyful attitiude.. I take note of it on the bookmark. Once I have filled the entire bookmark I´m goint to laminate it, and keep it for times when I´m feeling down. Then I´ll have a chain of scriptures that are close to my heart that will help me rememeber this maravilla de mayo. 
I´m feeling so great here in Ibarra! I feel so confident in teaching, in contacting, in ward counsil.. in everything... I really feel like God is strengthening me each day. Now its just my job to help strengthen those around me as well!
 I love you all soooooo much!! Have a great week!
Que Dio Les Bendiga!
Con Amor, Hermana Powley

Monday, May 5, 2014

Week 18 - Ibarra, Ecuador (TRANSFER)- 5 May 2014

Mi Querida Familia!

Well.. I guess I aways knew the end would come. Hermana Madrid and I are no longer companions. I feel like I left my other half in Quito. This morning they dropped me off at the bus station to go to my new area in Ibarra, 3 hours north from Quito. Its beautiful here.. More country.. rather than city. Fun story! I was on the bus, daydreaming right? Trying to come  up with lyrics to this song I`m writing, and all of a sudden this man comes and sits next to me. He strikes up a conversation, and asks me where I`m headed. I tell him Ibarra. And then he tells me we are in Ibarra. I tell him, Oh I know, I`m waiting til we get to the station. And he`s like.. we  past the station. Here I am all by myself in a part of Ecuador that I really don`t know at all. I get off the bus, and un muchacho me ayudò recoger mi maletas. Then I went on the side of the street  trying to flag down a taxi to take me to the bus station. Here I am with 3 suitcases, one of them actually broken, all by myself... 12 weeks ago I would have been terrified, but I actually just felt normal, pretty confident actually... because I think my Spanish is pretty good. Anyway, a super nice lady stopped with her taxi and helped me out. We had a really nice conservation.. she liked my hair. And then I invited her to listen to the missionairies. She said yes! And so that is that! I guess I can make dumb mistakes sometimes and make up for it by contacting people. When we got to the station, I found a cabina called my new companion, Hermana Lampero, who actually really wasnt my new companion, but happened to be with my new companion se llama Hermana Silvera.. Hermana Hill`s trainer!  We finally made it to the house.. which is super cute, in a nice neighborhood... rather than on the side of a busy road with 5 or 6 discotecas (bars) surrounding it (that was our house in Quito). We went to eat with one of the members, and let me just tell you life out here in the country is a lot different then Quito, we had to eat on the ground, because they didnt have a table. But its OK. And now here we are writing!!
 I am so excited to be in Ibarra with Hermana Silvera. It is beautiful here and I am ready to work! Of course I`m sad to leave Iñaquito, but also excited to meet new people and learn new things.  I know that if  I trust in the Lord and strive to follow the spirit we will find  success and happiness. I miss Hermana Madrid, I love her so much.  I learned so much from her. She is one of my bestest friends. She also had to leave our sector to be comapnions with an Hermana who`s really struggling right now. I know of no other missionary better for the job. I hope one day we will be able to work in the same zone or district, or maybe she can be my hermana leader.. or maybe in 5 years from now I can take a trip to Honduras and she can show me around or vice versa. Neverthless we had a great week. We were able to teach the Familia Vallez, and they came to church with us yesterday. They have a baptimsal fecha for the 24th of May. Whats really cool is that their mother, Mariana lives here in Ibarra in the rama elegido. She came with us to church in Iñaquito yesterday but also told us that she went to church in Ibarra tambien the week before. I am going to pass her information along to Hermana Lampero to visit. So cool.
Also our two other progressing investigators weren`t able to come to church yesterday. Jorge and Paola. Jorge had to travel to the coast to visit family. We are a little worried about him because he is beginning to have doubts about the Book of Mormon. I rememeber our first lesson with him he had a strong conviction about the Book of Mormon, and now hes saying things like ¨The bible doesn`t say anything about the prophets in the Book of Mormon." More than anything he is confused and we can see how hard Satan is working. Also with Poala, we had a tour set up and everything but she bailed on us because she needed to visit a friend who broke her foot o algo asi. We were really sad and then she said she would come to church but she never did because she had to stay in a meeting for her son`s Catacismo. Paola truly has desires to be baptized she just has things in the way, her priorities aren`t in the right place. Of course, maybe I don`t fully understand, because my priorities are in the gospel 24/7.. but I wish we could be able to get across to her the importance of church assistance. We have tried.. but I don`t think she really gets it.
On the brightside! We were seeing a lot of progress with our recent convert, Francisco. For one thing, Francisco decided to fast for the first time on Monday, in order to find trabajoo... And Monday morning, he recieved a call offering him a job. The first thing he did was call us and thank us for helping him gain the faith to finally trust in the Lord. He came to chruch in Black pants, white shirt and tie. And the ward sustained him to receive the Aaronic priesthood. Last night we had our last noche de hogar with him and the familia martinez. It was very tender. We talked about developing Christlike Attributes, and letting God strengthen our weaknesses. It was perfect. I felt the spirit so strongly, because the lesson in reality, was meant for me as well. Sometimes I doubt my potential and ability as a missionary because of my weaknesses. But in reality, God shows us our weaknesses for the purpose of strengthening us. All weak things can be come strong in him (Ether 12:27) and God doesn`t view us as what we are now, but rather what we can become. I know I have a divine potential and that God can make me strong. I don`t need to dwell on thoughts of self doubt. I need to give God a little more credit than that... a little more credit that he has the power to make me strong.
I hope with all my heart that the new hermanas taking our sector will be able to continue working with our investigators that we left behind. I really have grown to love Iñaquito and I know that I`m leaving our people in good hands but all the same I am sad. Its cool to think that we all teach by the spirit, and so our investitgators will continue to be taught by the same teacher. I am grateful for that. I feel like I have left behind my home... but soon enough this will feel like home as well.
I love being missionary! Also get excited for mothers day! I can skype... And it will probably be around 3 or 4 Utah time. I`m sorry I don`t have a specific time because we have mamitas after church who feed us. But I will send a quick email 5 minutes before I skype. So keep your eyes on our iphones! I am sooooo excited to see Andrew. Like I might cry so just be prepared.

I am learning how to sing "Someday¨" in Spanish. We know that God will protect the righteous. Its a different world here in Ecuador.

Hermana Powley