Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Just a Song Before I Go...

I don't really know what to say. I honestly didn't think I would ever come to this day. But, the time passes for everyone, even me. And as much as I didn't want it to come, here we are. It's hard to have to end the mission. It was the best thing I ever could have decided to do. I love Argentina and the people I've come to know here. And I'm grateful to the Lord for every miracle, every blessing, trial, disappointment, and every opportunity to learn, which, if you add it all up, is basically every second of everyday of these last 18 months. Needless to say, I've learned a lot of lessons here on the mission, all of which are priceless.
From this first day....
Perhaps the most important of all the lessons I learned, was that of the reality of the Atonement. When I first arrived in Formosa, November 2014, I quickly discovered that I had miscalculated just how much I would be walking and what type of shoes I would need. And I paid the price for that miscalculation. My feet were covered, literally covered, in painful blisters and cuts. Also, for whatever reason, my feet began to blow up like a pregnant woman. I could hardly walk it hurt so bad. But one must walk as a missionary. And with every step I took, I offered another prayer, asking for strength to keep walking. Every night and every morning, I prayed that my feet would callous over. Then there was the fact that the amount of Spanish I spoke was exactly zero. I felt so helpless; so lost. "What am I doing in Argentina?" I asked myself. "I'm not contributing to anything." Again, I prayed. I prayed to be able to talk to SOMEONE. And in answer to those prayers, I received a simple answer. "I'm here. Don't give up." And somehow, each day, I was able to find the strength to keep walking. Something I've come to learn about the Atonement is that Christ will not take our pains and suffering away, rather He will strengthen us to be able to face them and become stronger. And He did just that those first 2 transfers.

Another lesson I learned is the importance of obedience. Not just to commandments or mission rules, but to the promptings of the Spirit. I found a quote this week from President Monsen from his address to the Priesthood in the April 2012 Conference. "When God speaks and a man obeys, that man will always be right." And as scary as it is sometimes to talk to people on the street or the bus, we always receive blessings for acting on those promptings. I can't even number the times the Lord fulfilled a promise for fulfilling my end. And in regards to obedience to mission rules, Hna. Ostler and I had put specific emphasis in exact obedience to every mission rule when we found Claudio. Sometimes it's a sacrifice to deny a glass of ice cold water in the 120 degree summer heat, but the blessings of heaven are poured on all those who are willing to sacrifice for the Lord and His work.

This past week, Hna. Alduenda and I had the chance to attend the baptism of a woman we taught a couple of times in another part of Corrientes. It was a really simple service, but it taught me another lesson. It's not about me. It never was. And it never will be. The scriptures teach us that without charity, we're nothing. But what is charity? The pure love of Christ. How did Christ love? Selflessly. Everything Christ did was for someone else. He never did anything for Himself. Everything I've learned in the mission, is to help other people come unto Christ through His Gospel.
To experiences like this...
I know the church is true. I know this is where we can learn what the Gospel is and how to apply it in our lives. I know that Christ lives. I know that His Atonement is infinite and real. I know that the power of God has been restored to the Earth through the prophet Joseph Smith. I know that the church is led by living prophets and apostles today. I know families can be forever. This is a Gospel of happiness and I know that it brings happiness to all who live it.

I want to thank everyone who read this silly blog and supported me on this crazy adventure. All the prayers and love sent down this way have been felt and appreciated. I love you all so much.

Con mucho amor,
Hermana Hein


Monday, March 14, 2016

Qué dicha es

The Lord teaches His lessons in mysterious ways and sometimes, they're not the lessons we're expecting. For example, yesterday, I learned the lesson of the sidewalk greeting.

For a couple of weeks now, there's been this police officer working outside of a government building on a street we frequently walk down. I think he's a guard there or something. Anyway. Everytime we walk past, he greets us. "Hola. ¿Cómo están?" Now, you have to understand something about the mission. The men here LOVE to bug us. I don't know if there's been a single day in my mission when some guy in the street HASN'T cat-called or wolf-whistled at me. I DON'T EVEN LOOK GOOD!! But, after 17 months of it, I've grown accustomed to ignorning all men in the street. So, for the past few weeks, I've been ignoring this man in front of the government building. But yesterday, he stopped us.

"Hey wait I talked to someone from your church once over in Laguna Seca but then I moved to Centro and lost contact but he really helped me out a lot in a hard time and I just wanted to know where the church is or what to do!" he said, all in one breath.

I was confused at first, but then I understood. He just recognized us as missionaries and knew we could help him and his family. So we took his address and phone number and told him we'd come visit him and headed on our way. I felt so STUPID. Here I was thinking this guy was just looking to bug when all he wanted was to hear the message of the Gospel. I learned that I maybe need to be a little more Christ-like and be nice to people on the street, regardless if they're looking to bug or not. Haha. Like I said, unexpected lessons in unexpected ways.
I have completed 17 months this week.
 These past 17 months have been an adventure. I only have 2 weeks left, but I'm going to make the most of them. No matter how hard the work is, how many people slam the door in your face, how hot it is, or how much your feet hurt, the work is a joy. But we are responsible for making that decision. We have to decide if we're going to let Satan get us down or if we're going to put a smile on and share it with even those who laugh in our faces.
An Argentine backroad. Love it
I love being a missionary. It's changed my life. And I'm so grateful for the opportunities I've had here in Argentina. It's going to be weird going home. But there starts the REAL mission. And I know that all of the experiences I've had here will be a blessing for me in the future. I know that the Lord lives. I know this is His Gospel. It's the most correct thing this world has to offer. Which is why sharing it is such a joy!
Mexican Monday - Nachos

Until next week,
Hermana Hein

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

An Anchor to the Souls of Men

Hi All:

It feels like the weeks keep going faster and faster. It's not fair. :( Haha. But that's life. I keeps going. Even when we don't want it to. But besides the fact of it being a fast week, it was a good one. Tuesday started out with a trip to Laguna Seca, another part of Corrientes about 40 minutes in bus from where we live in the city to teach a woman who had come to church in Costanera last week named Dora. She asked us to come visit her because she wanted to talk to Hermanas and there's only two of those in Corrientes. We had a nice lesson with her but by the time we were ready to leave, the Argentine rains had come. And when the rains come, they come hard. It always reminds me of Jurassic Park when that first storm comes and all the dino's escape. That's what it's like here... unfortunately minus the dinosaurs. But we hadn't been expecting the rain so we were stranded in Laguna Seca without umbrellas, coats, boots, or even plastic bags to put our scriptures in. Luckily, Dora and her husband had a few extra Jurassic Park ponchos on hand and we were able to wade the few blocks out to the bus stop. Hermana Alduenda was embarrassed by her bright orange poncho. So naturally we took a photo.
Hna. Alduenda and I in our ponchos after the storm.
 Last week, we contacted a house on a street we frequently walk down and found Manuel. He said he'd talked to missionaries before but I think they maybe just greeted him in the street or something because he didn't have a Book of Mormon. But he was really nice and allowed us to share our message. He was attentive and receptive. He liked what we shared. And when we walked past his house later in the day, he was sitting outside in his lawn chair reading the pamphlet we'd left him. The first time we invited him to church, he said it would be hard for him to go because he didn't want to leave his house unattended. (people get robbed frequently here.) But in a later visit, he explained his real doubt: "I don't have a suit." he said. He had seen the pictures of church in the pamphlets we'd given him and was worried that the members would judge him for coming to church in jeans and tennis shoes. But we assured him that wasn't the case and he committed to come. And sure enough, Manuel showed up at the church 10 minutes before Sacrament meeting started. And it was a great Sacrament meeting. (Minus Hermana Hein's terrible piano playing...) The testimonies shared were simple and heartfelt and the spirit filled the room. Manuel listened attentively to every one. Including Claudio's. ;) What a champ.  Needless to say, it was a great Sunday.

Under the bridge of Corrientes. A little Inceptiony?
No Leo DiCaprio though... shame
Speaking of testimony, we sometimes wonder what that means. It's simple. A testimony is a declaration of what we believe to be true. It doesn't have to be long or complicated. All it has to be is sincere. And as Ether says, a belief in God brings a hope for a better world. (Ether 12:4) And it's true. As I've nurtured my own testimony here on the mission, I DO believe in a better world. I have that hope. Because I've seen the changes that people can make as they put in practice the teachings of Jesus Christ. I've seen it because I've lived it. And I'm so grateful for it. I love the Lord and everything He's done for me. I love the Gospel and what it's taught me about who I am and what's expected of me. We don't need to be moved by the crazy waves this world brings everyday. We just need to believe.
And some good wall art I found and replicated. Haha. 

I love you all and hope you have a great week.
Hermana Hein

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

It's not our abilities, but our choices‏...

What a week. I forget how stressful it is teaching an area. I haven't had to teach an area since Hna. Dustin came to the mission. Entonces, hace un buen rato.. But it's been fun. Hna. Alduenda and I have already had our fair share of adventures here in Costanera. Including, but not limited to, the incident with Frank's wallet.
After leaving President Godoy's house yesterday evening, we were headed down España when we see in the street, a wallet. "Oh...crapp..." We pick it up and look for some form of identification. This kid has all KINDS of legal documentation in his wallet. But his ID said that he lives in Formosa, which makes walking up to his house and contacting it a bit difficult. We returned to Pres. Godoy's house to ask him to Facebook stalk this kid and tell him that we had his wallet.
Con Hermana Alduenda de México

The rest of the evening we awaited a call from Franco. (Don't say ANYTHING Beckstead) During a lesson with this guy Manuel we'd met earlier during the week, the call came. I rejected it and we continued our discussion about the Restoration of the Gospel. He rang again. I hit the "end" button again. The phone rang a third time. ¡Dejáme che! I put the phone on silent and we continued with the lesson. But my pocket was buzzing the rest of the time we were with Manuel. I could hardly focus. But we finished the lesson and Manuel accepted the baptismal invitation. So that was exciting.

We left Manuel's and went to the corner to call back. Being from Formosa, this kid had no idea where anything in Corrientes is. "We're by the bridge!" we tell him. "Oh cool. I'm close.".... He wasn't close. We waited for a good 20 minutes for him to find us at the Shell station. He was weird. "Thanks." he said. "Where are you from?"
"Uh... the United States."
"Wow. That's cool. What part?"
"Cool." he just kept staring at me....
We had to get home anyway. But the men in this country are just outta control. But at least he got his wallet back.

In other news, we had the great opportunity to participate in a area wide broadcast with Elder Bednar. He came to Buenos Aires and with the area presidency and they did this huge Q & A with the four Buenos Aires missions (800 missionaries) and broadcasted it to the whole South America South area. (6000 missionaries) It was incredible. Bednar is amazing. Something he said that I really liked is that as teachers, we can't play this game of "Guess what's in my head". We can't ask questions we already know the answers to. Our job as missionaries or as any kind of teacher, is to invite and inspire our students to act as agents "for themselves and not to be acted upon" (2 Nephi 2:26)

One of our divine inheritances as children of God is our agency. We have the ability to act as our own agents. We are not objects, waiting for something to happen to us. We are living, thinking beings with the ability to act for ourselves. And as we exercise that agency with righteousness, we are blessed. As I've spent the last 16 months in Argentina, sharing with others the Gospel truths I know, I've come to recognize that our individual agency is essential to our individual conversion. How many times have I wished that I could just put my thoughts into the heads of the investigators? "Am I not explaining it clearly enough? Why aren't you reading the Book of Mormon??" But if we force our investigators to read the Book of Mormon and we believe its words, what makes the difference between us and he who wanted to take our agency away from day one? (Yeah... that was supposed to be a kind of Harry Potter reference.)

My true conversion didn't come until I chose to read the Book of Mormon for myself. It doesn't matter how logically we explain the succession of the Priesthood or the effects of the Fall of Adam and Eve, and it doesn't matter how much education an investigator has. What we possess, in terms of knowledge or means, really doesn't matter at all when it comes to conversion. What matters is what we choose to do. How we choose to exercise our agency. And if we decide to experiment with the word, we will receive that witness from the Holy Ghost. It all comes down to us. I have no influence over anyone I teach. I can only invite them to act and invite the Spirit to testify, and the rest is in the Lord's hands. And I know that He does the rest. Just look at Claudio. He didn't even finish high school. But he understands more about the Gospel than people who have a college degree. And what he understands is what's really important.

I'm so grateful I've had this opportunity to be converted to this great Gospel. I know the Lord lives and that He directs this work. I love you all so much.

Homemade Mexican-Argentine tacos.
The tortillas are homemade by Hermana Alduenda

Con amor,
Hermana Hein

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Hold Your Breath and Count to 10...

So. Here we are. The beginning of a new transfer. My last transfer. What's more, it's only 5 weeks. Which means that this 5 weeks is going to be full of WORK. That's what we do as missionaries. And it doesn't stop until that last second. I stayed here in Costanera. But Hermana Ostler was transferred to my old area in Resistencia. She was really sad. This place really is magic. But now, I'm with Hermana Alduenda from Mexico. I trust in the Lord's decisions when it comes to transfers. Which means that we have some work to do here together.

In terms of the last week, it was a crazy one. On Wednesday, we had to go into Resistencia to renew my visa again. It's a long process. For whatever reason, it takes half the day for me to sign one sheet of paper. But it was fun anyway. I got to hang out with Hna. Beckstead one last time before she hits American soil. And the elders bought us McDonald's after so that was good. Er... we THOUGHT it would be good. But then we had to go out and work and we just felt sick. So, I'm over the MacDonald's thing. Good thing too, as I'll be surrounded by it in a month or so. Haha.
Hermanas Ostler, Hein, Beckstead, and Dibble
doing tramites. WOOO!

On Thursday, we had to go BACK to Resi for multizone conference. That was fun. It's always good to see old friends. I also had to give my last testimony in front of all the missionaries in Corrientes and Resistencia. That was werid. But it was good. I still get nervous speaking in public but the Spirit helped me out a lot. I got up there and everything I'd thought about saying before hand just kind of disappeared. But somehow, something came out that made some sense. Haha. I actually don't remember. 

A group of some of my favorite people at multizone conference
... er... and Elder Karmanov.

The rest of the week was normal, including a rainstorm and some interesting contacts. The best one was the guy who slammed his door on us when he found out that we're from the US. He accused us of being assassins. I looked down at my ridiculous outfit and my stupid hat and thought, "Yeah... the best assassins the US has to offer. Watch out!!" Haha. We had a good laugh about it after.

The last two transfers with Hermana Ostler were tough. We learned a lot together. She's such a great missionary and a wonderful example to me. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to work with her. She taught me so much. And I hope that I can put in practice all that she taught me now in my last transfer and continue giving every last drop of energy to this crazy place. I love it so much.
Hermana Ostler and I with Nazarena and Agustina of
Rama Costanera

I studied a talk this week from the October 2011 conference called "The Time Shall Come". It talked about the dream that Daniel interpreted for King Nebuchadnezzar about the stone cut out of the mountain without hands. That stone is this Gospel. And it's rolling forth and growing everyday. I know that this is the work of the Lord. I know that His work can't be stopped. It will never be destroyed by the wiles of man. There is nothing more right than the teachings of Jesus Christ. They help us grow and become better people. I'm so grateful that I've had the chance to be apart of this great work. It has changed me in ways that I never would have experienced before. I'm so grateful to everyone for supporting me in this crazy adventure of mine.

El fin se acerca, pero todavía tengo mucho que hacer. Gracias por su amor y su apoyo.

Les quiero mucho,
Hermana Hein

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Straight and Narrow

It's interesting the way the Lord works. He's blesses us as we're obedient to His commandments and tests us as we strive to be more obedient. It's like, you take a determination to be even more obedient and He throws even more trials in your path. Not that Hna. Ostler and I are disobedient. But we focused a lot on tightening the screws in these past two transfers on those little rules that are sometimes easy to forget. Be in the pension right on time, put bug spray on every time you leave the pension, speak in Spanish... those kinds of things. And as we tried to do that, it became a lot harder. But it was all worth it. The important things are never the easy things. But they always matter most.
Claudio's Baptism Day

Claudio got baptized on Saturday. He was so happy and just full of light and it was really special to be a part of that. Hna. Ostler and I really didn't do anything. We were just the instruments the Lord was using here in Costanera. It's an honor.

Hermana Ostler and I are all smiles!
To celebrate Claudio's baptism, we had an activity! It was supposed to be for the whole branch but basically only President Godoy's family came. Haha. But it was still a blast. We played charades and ate choripan and brownies that we burned and everyone who came loved it. Claudio felt right at home. Haha. And yesterday, he was confirmed an official member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I think the confirmation was the best part. He was dressed in full church gear: shirt, pants, tie, shoes. It was the first time he had the whole ensemble. And you could see how having the Gift of the Holy Ghost brought a new light to his eyes. He even teared up a bit as we sang "I Stand All Amazed" before the Sacrament. Man I love the Gospel.

Hermana Flores and I at Consejo
We learned this week about prayer and what it really is. We have to remember that God is our loving Heavenly Father. He knows us. We knew Him before we came here. I'm sure that He misses us. And when we don't choose to talk to Him, it makes Him sad. But we CAN talk to Him. Prayer is such a blessing and such a privilege. I know that God hears AND answers our prayers. He may not always answer in the way we expect but He is aware of us and our needs. I know He lives and I'm so grateful to Him for blessing me with this incredible opportunity. I love the Gospel and I love all of you for your support and prayers. They are felt.

Sending lots of love,
Hermana Hein

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

"Fine day, Sunday. In my opinion, best day of the week‏..."

AloooooooHA!! Sorry. The internet cafe's playing weird Hawaiian music right now. I like it. Haha. Anyway.

It's been a good week. A fast one. But a good one. And a hot one. It's weird how the rain here only makes it HOTTER. Oof. Gotta love that South American humidity.

Claudio came to church for the third time yesterday. Which means he can get baptized on Saturday! We still have quite a bit to do before Saturday, so we'll be working hard this whole week to get everything squared away. Yesterday was a great day. Claudio is just loving church and all the members have been so supportive and welcoming. We taught the Gospel Principles class about Christ's call to be the Savior. I love learning about the Plan of Salvation because as you learn about each individual part, the rest of it all starts to come together. That's what you think anyway, and then you realize that it's just more complicated than you originally thought and you just decide you've gotta keep learning. But it really is amazing to learn about the Plan that God has for all of us. Claudio loved it. He's started a scripture study journal so that he understands better the things we leave him to read. How incredible. And he's just so excited for his baptism. He's already invited his family and his friends.

We had a family home evening with him and the familia Orellano on Friday and we talked about Baptism and the Orellano's shared their conversion story. It was really great. They're an awesome family. And Claudio shared with them what he had learned about the Sacrament. Which was a lot. It's so cool to see the way the spirit teaches those who are willing to listen. You just need to be humble. And Claudio's very humble. And for that humility, he's learning really fast and really well, despite his lack of education. It's incredible.

Painting at Pres. Godoy's House

Anyway. It was a good week. We helped Presidente Godoy paint his house as they have to move this week. So that was fun. I was commissioned to do the top 3 inches of the room and as a result, my back and arm are DEAD. But that's what you get for being the tallest. Haha. But it was fun. And I like that Argentines aren't so particular about their painting. It makes my job a lot easier when I don't have to meticulously place blue painter's tape. Haha.
Some great grafitti we found this week

We've been learning a lot about the spirit this week and the way we can follow his guidance. Again, it all depends on our humility. We have to be humble enough to accept the guidance of the spirit and act on it. It's scary sometimes, but it's worth it if the person you're teaching feels the spirit. I've got a long way to go. But the first step is recognizing it. I hope you all have a great week.

Sending lots of love from the south,
Hermana Hein