Monday, December 26, 2011

December 26, 2011 From Argentina

I feel like I have so much to say to you all, but no way to express any of it. I´ll work on that for next week´s email. President Carter asked each of us to share our testimonies with our families when we called, but I forgot with all the rush and trying to get everyone in. I´d like to share it with you all now.

I know this Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is true. I know Christ leads His church through a living prophet and that He restored it through Joseph Smith. Every time we teach the first lesson on the Restoration, my testimony is renewed. I know God is our loving Heavenly Father and that He has a plan for us. He loves us and wants us to be happy and have success in this life. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to the earth to set an example, perform the Atonement, and teach us the way to get back to the Father. It is only through His Gospel - faith, repentance, baptism, the reception of the gift of the Holy Ghost, and our perseverance until the end - that we can be saved. We can have faith in Him and repent because of His infinite sacrifice. Jesus Christ is at the center of the Plan of Salvation. We owe everything we have and everything we are to Him. I love Him. I love sharing that love with the people here in Argentina. I pray every day that I can be the conduit of the pure love of Christ to the people Hermana Reales and I get to teach. I know the Book of Mormon is true. It testifies of Christ and builds our faith in Him. We can find the fulness of the Gospel within its pages. I love the Book of Mormon. Because of the Book of Mormon, I know who I am, I know our Savior better, and I know how to follow Him more. There is nothing more simple and more fulfilling than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We have that Gospel restored in its purity and perfect form today because we have a prophet. God loves us enough to show us the way. I love being a missionary, even though it´s hard. I love what the Prophet Joseph said, "Shall we not go on in so great a cause?"

I hope you all will work to strengthen your testimonies of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ and share it with the people you love. The Savior said, "Lovest thou me?....Feed my sheep."

I love you all so much more than words can express. May God bless you all and inspire you to be more like His Son. It is in following His example that we find true happiness. I am so grateful for your examples of obedience and service to God. You love Him and do His will. I have learned so much from you and I am so proud to call you my family.

Hermana Erin Litster

Monday, December 19, 2011

December 19, 2011 from Argentina

This week was really good. I´m happy, but there are still those moments when missionary work is hard. I still don´t like doing contacts. I´m not afraid to do them, I just don´t like it. That´s my goal this week. I´m going to like doing them by my next letter. I´ll be out of my comfort zone a lot this week, but I have faith that if I do more and more every day, I will like them eventually. They might even be fun.
It's still difficult to imagine it being Christmas when the stores are selling swim suits and inner tubes next to Christmas trees and statues of Santa Clause (or Papá Noel). I´m excited to get my packages today. Today almost the whole mission is getting together for P-day Navideño. Each zone is presenting something and we´ll have musical numbers and things like that. Hermana Reales and I are doing one, too. I´m going to sing "Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee" and she is going to play the clarinet. Hopefully it goes well. We haven´t really been able to practice. There isn´t really time in the missionary schedule for things like that. On Sunday, we´re going to sing "What Child is This?" in sacrament meeting, in Spanish of course. I´m not sure how well that one will be either, but that´s okay.
I´m making a little book for Hermana Reales for Christmas. For each of the 12 days of Christmas I have been writing her a letter. I´ve been thinking about how the day went and what I admired about what she did. I´ve been finding a scripture to go with it and a picture to put on the page. I hope it turns out and that she likes it. I´ve been writing it all in Spanish, too. I think that´s been helping me with the language. I hope so anyway.
Our investigators are doing well. We turned those two men over to the elders in the ward, just to keep it safe. The ward is split into two areas. We have one and the elders have the other. We work with the people in our area. We don´t really get very many member referrals yet, which is sad. That´s something that we´re working on. President Carter wants us to win references from the members, not ask for them. It´s difficult, though, when no one here will let us do service for them. Any ideas?
We have some investigators that I love un montón (a lot). Ramona is a woman that we found doing contacts and she is amazing. She is reading the Book of Mormon and praying every day. She won´t pray in front of us yet, but we´re going to be patient and pray for her. She always talks about how she wants to change her life and how she feels like we can help her do it. Elena is her friend and we found her and her "husband" at the same time as Ramona. They´re from Bolivia and are reading the Book of Mormon together. It´s a little more difficult for them to make changes in their lives and keep all of their commitments, but we´re praying for them. Lily is una viajita (little old lady). We taught her the first lesson on Monday and challenged her to be baptized on the 21st of January. She accepted. She says she attended our church something like 14 years ago and really loved it. I don´t know why she wasn´t baptized then, but I have faith that she will this time. She even lets us help her and do service, which is a miracle here.
Overall, I´m really happy. Some days it´s a struggle, but then I remember all of you at home. I think about the faith you have in my and all the things you´ve said to encourage me. It keeps me going. I really want to be the missionary you all think I am. Thank you for praying for me. I will do my best to live up to your expectations and the expectations of our Heavenly Father. I love you more than I can express and I feel your love more and more with every letter. Thank you.

Hermana Erin Litster

Monday, December 12, 2011

From Argentina December 12

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you for sending all the audio clips. It was so good to hear your voices and even better to hear your testimonies of the Savior. They strengthened my testimony. It´s so strange to me when we talk to people and tell them we´re missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ and people tell us they´re not interested because Jesus hasn´t done anything for them. I want to cry! But every time that happens, I have the opportunity to remember everything He has done for me and how much I love Him. I guess it´s a blessing in disguise.

I still don´t know how Christmas will go. They celebrate it differently here, mostly on the 24th, so we´ll be spending the 25th like it was just any other day. I miss American Christmases with all the special traditions and snow, but I still get to focus on the Savior and tell people how wonderful of a gift He is.

The work is picking up. We had Zone Conference on Friday and I learned a lot of new things and got all pumped up for the work again. I defninitely have a testimony of meetings like that. We need to re-evaluate our goals, look at our progress, and get excited for what we do periodically, in whatever it is we´re trying to accomplish.

I´m beginning to understand more Spanish and I can speak a little better. I speak English way too often, since I know Hermana Reales can understand me, but it´s frustrating to try and express myself in Spanish when I don´t know how yet. That´s one of my goals for this week, to speak Spanish first, ask for help with words, and then if she still doesn´t understand, I´ll say it in English. Hermana Reales is a great blessing in my life. I´m trying to think of ways I can serve her better and be a better companion. I´m trying to do my part more and share more of the load.

We´re slowly starting to work better with the ward. We have to have 15 lessons with a member present every week now, which is a challenge, but we have such good ward missionaries. Almost all of them are still in the Youth program, but do what they can to help us out. We had one of them come with us at the last minute yesterday for about a half hour or so, and because he came, we were able to get our 15 lessons. These young men and women are so solid. There´s a reason they´re the ward missionaries. Sometimes it´s difficult to remember that I´m not on the leaders in the ward. I´m used to having a little more control than I do now. I am merely a tool for the ward to use to move the work forward, not the other way around. I´m learning so much about how the church organization is inspired, how our leaders have been called of God and how I need to be patient with them as God teaches them how He wants things to be done.

Our investigators are doing a little better. We met some really good people in the last few days and I hope they continue to be interested and keep their commitments. One of them, Juan, is a cartonero (he pulls a cart around the streets and sells stuff) He lives in the villa and we weren´t sure he even knew how to read. Turns out he does, which is good. We left him 3 Nephi 11 to read and he only read the introduction on the first visit. We read and explained a few verses on the next visit and told him to read the rest of it by our visit the next day. We came back and he had read all of chapter 11 and chapter 12, too. We were shocked. There´s a lot more to him than we thought. We´re excited to keep teaching him. It gets a little complicated, though, because as of yesterday, we can only teach him with an adult male member of the Church.

Another of our investigators lives in the same house. There are 2 or three families living in a little house with Juan and their 11 dogs. Our other investigator, Marcelo, is an alcoholic. He had a baptismal date, and was trying to stop drinking, but it fell through and he hadn´t been keeping commitments. The last time we met with him before yesterday he was shaking because he hadn´t had any alcohol that day, which was good, but he´s a little creepy when he´s sober. We stopped going to see him for a little while, but yesterday when we were teaching Juan he asked if he could talk to us. He told us he had read what we left for him and that he felt like he needed to repent. We were excited about that, but then he asked if I was married and allowed to get married and what my name was. Needless to say, I was a little uncomfortable. We talked to our Zone Leaders and our ward mission leader and we´re going to have a member with us every time we go see him. Since Juan lives in the same house, we have to have a member with us for him, too. We hope we can help these two as well as avoid any problems. If it doesn´t get any less creepy, we might have to turn both of them over to the elders in our ward.

Every week the mission sends out a newsletter with a message from the mission president, the assistant, and the numbers for the week. Last week President Carter told us that his father had died and shared with us what he learned from him. I thought about the talk from General Conference, the one about the importance of a name. I realized then that I´m not here to represent myself. I have two names on my nametag. The Savior´s and my family name. My name isn´t even on it. I want to uphold both names well and I´m so grateful for the legacy I have with the names I hold. I will do my very best to be a good servant of the Lord here in Argentina.

I learn so much every day. I wish I could share all of it with you, every experience, every thought, feeling, and word. I love you and hope you are all well.

Hermana Erin Litster

Monday, December 5, 2011

From Buenos Aires December 5, 2011

I´m doing really well today. It´s so crazy to think that in two days I´ll hit my three month mark. Thank you so much for your letters and advice and for sending me the ones from my friends at home. It really means so much to me that I have others thinking about and praying for me. I don´t have a lot of time today, and I´ll try and make sure I have more time next Monday to write. Will you tell the Garibaldi family and Mary and Pres. Patterson how grateful I am for their letters? They were really what I needed this week.

This week has been difficult, but good at the same time. All five of our baptismal dates fell through in the last two days and we lost two of our investigators yesterday. I thought I would feel a lot worse, but I only feel peace. I guess that just goes to show how God has a plan for everything and this is really His work. Of course it hurt to hear these two people, Juan and Lizandro, tell us that they weren´t interested anymore, that they didn´t have any faith. I don´t think that will ever get easy to hear, and it probably never should. Hermana Reales and I just feel like we need to work a little bit harder, plan a lot better, and trust a lot more. God will take care of us if we will do our part in the work.

In our last District meeting every companionship set baptism goals for the month of December. We really felt like three was a good number. The rule in the mission for baptisms is that a person must attend Sacrament Meeting at least three times before they can be baptized. That means that in order to have anyone get baptized this month we basically have to have them come every Sunday for the rest of the year, since we didn´t have anyone come to church yesterday, despite our efforts. We have faith in the inspiration we´ve received and trust that it will happen if we do our part.

Hermana Reales and I get along great. I´ll try and get some pictures taken and send them to you. She has helped me a lot, especially since this week has been hard and I haven´t been as motivated as I´d like to be. She keeps me going. Argentina is beautiful, though the days are getting hotter and hotter. We bought a little Christmas tree today to decorate and put in our apartment. We´ll be spending Christmas with one of the member families and a recent convert so she doesn´t have to spend it alone. They do Christmas very differently here, so it will be interesting to experience.

I haven´t really had to face my food fears yet, though I´m sure I will. It´s a lot of beef, potatoes, and they put hard-boiled eggs on and in everything, even pizza. Tang is a huge staple here, too, but they have all kinds of different flavors, not just orange. I like it a lot, but really miss my real orange juice.

I had an interview with President Carter this morning. It went well and I learned a lot. I know he´s been called by God to lead this mission. He reminded me of how important it is to have faith and patience, that the two are pretty much inseperable. I need to focus more on how far I´ve come and how bright the future is if I have the faith and patience necessary to make it so. Since today was la Conferencia de los Resfuerzos (conference of the reinforcements - newbies) we got to meet with all of my friends from my district at the MTC as well as the local newbies.

One of the sisters is a mini-missionary. She´s only here for one or two transfers and lives in the mission. She´s only 18 and has been a member for about a year. Hermana Gomez´s strength and willingness to serve really inspired me. Sister Carter said that the missionary who found and taught her family said he would have worked as a missionary for ten years to find them. It reminded me of the story in the Bible where Jacob worked for 7 years for Rachel, but it only felt like a few days to him because of the love he had for her. It was an amazing and spiritual experience for me. If I love the people here and love God even more, every minute of every day will be worth it to me. They time will go by too quickly and I won´t want to leave when the time comes. That´s the kind of missionary I want to be.

Thank you all for your examples, prayers, and love. I feel it all more than you know. I love you and pray that God will bless you in all that you do.

Hermana Erin Litster

Buenos Aires Temple Rededication Announced

Buenos Aires Temple Rededication Announced
The first presidency announced the re-dedication of the Buenos Aires Temple in three sessions on the 9 of September. Oh happy day! There will be a public open house from the 4 of August to the 25th of August with the exception of Sundays. Saturday, the 8th of August there will be a cultural event as part of the celebration.

December 2011 & January 2012

December 2011 & January 2012

Hermana Litster is in Argentina!

Hermana Litster is in Argentina!

MTC Photos September- November

MTC Photos September- November