Monday, January 30, 2012

My first baptism!

Our baptism went well and he´s excited to move forward in the Church and learn and become a part of all he can. We taught him about the priesthood on Monday and he´s excited to prepare to receive it. In his confirmation the bishop talked about him growing in the Church and eventually having a family. He´s 52 years old and single, but in his prayer on Monday he asked God to help him, if it was right, to have a family. He´s pretty incredible and will be a great member of the Church. What a blessing for my first baptism.

I´ve been thinking about baptism a lot lately and a missionaries duty to challenge and testify. We are supposed to invite our investigators to be baptized in the first lesson and challenge them with a date no later than the second lesson. We are to talk about baptism from the very first meeting. If we as missionaries understand our true purpose and have a true desire to share the blessings of the gospel with others, we won´t hesitate. It is not up to us to decide who is prepared to receive the gospel and who is not. Only God knows that. We need to understand that we teach the Doctrine of Christ (2 Nephi 31) and that the Doctrine of Christ is faith, repentance, baptism, the reception of the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. The baptismal challenge is not for people who have already been taught the Gospel. It is for people who haven´t, to motivate them towards heaven. Unless they understand that it is necessary to be baptized by proper authority to be saved, we´re just good people talking about God. Faith must lead to action. If we really have a desire to share the blessings of salvation with others, they won´t feel like we´re just trying to get them baptized. It´s not that we want them to get baptized. It´s what God wants. I´ll get off my soap box now, but that´s what I learned this week. Every person who came to this earth came to follow Christ and His example. How are they going to do that if they don´t know how, where to find it, or that they even need to?

I´m trying to eliminate my fear of talking about and challenging for baptism. I´m trying to have more faith in God and do His work the way He wants it to be done. Only in that way will there be true success and true conversion.

Of course I have more to say, but no time to say it. I love you, and everyone back home. I feel your prayers and faith in me more than I can express. Thank you for everything.


Monday, January 23, 2012

Sigan los milagros

This week was really great. We´re continuing to see miracles here in Libertad. The best one happened on Friday. I told you about our investigator, Rubén, who is a professor of philosophy. The first time we met him we gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon and he said he would read it. Last week after Sacrament meeting Hermana Reales invited him to be baptized after he knew that the Church was true. She said she was really nervous to do it all throughout the meeting, but felt like we needed to do it. We haven´t even really been able to teach him yet. President Carter said in our interviews how interesting it is that we have an investigator who comes to church but hasn´t been taught. It sounds a little backward, right? He has a ton of questions about so many different things that we never really get a chance to teach an actual lesson. Anyway, when Hermana Reales challenged him to be baptized, he said, "Maybe. I´ll have to think about it this week." We went by 3 times this week before we could actually find him at home on Friday.

On Friday he asked us about the law of chastity, so we taught that and answered some of his other questions about the plan of salvation that he had from the pamphlet on the Plan of Salvation. Then he said, "I need to tell you about an experience I had this week. The Book of Mormon is kind of mystical, isn´t it?" Hermana Reales and I didn´t really know how to react to that, but then he told us that during the week he was reading the Book of Mormon in 1 Nephi where Nephi and his family arrived in the Americas and then closed the book and started to think about our invitation for baptism. He said he thought about it for a few minutes and then let the Book of Mormon just fall open. It opened to Moroni 6 and read about baptism. He said he knew then that the book was true and that he needed to be baptized. He told us he wanted to be baptized and asked if there were other things he needed to do, other than his desire. He asked if he could be ready to be baptized on the 28th. We told him we needed to teach him some more things and he said that´s great because he has vacation time this week and will be home every day. We´re going to have a lot to do this week, to teach him everything, but we´re going to have a baptism on Saturday! It´s so interesting because we´ve only taught him the law of chastity and the Word of Wisdom. Funny, huh? But God works in mysterious ways and has been preparing Rubén for this for a long time, according to some of the things he´s told us. It´s so cool, and such a testimony to me of the truthfulness of the Gospel, that he connects all of his philosophical knowledge with the truth and simplicity of the Gospel.

Yesterday was kind of tough and Hermana Reales and I were having a hard time meeting all of our goals. We needed two more lessons with members and 3 new investigators to reach our goal. To have a contact count as a new investigator we have to teach one or more principles, have a return appointment, as well as a prayer (we do a lot of praying in the streets). There weren´t any members that could come with us to do our two lessons, so we had to go by less-active and part-member families to try and do it. The people we contacted didn´t want to pray or weren´t interested. Needless to say, we were a little worried about it. We didn´t want to be the reason that our zone didn´t meet the goals for los datos (all the numbers for the week). We have to be back in the apartment at 8:30 pm on Sundays and we still needed 1 new investigator and 1 lesson with a member at 8:15. We turned the corner there was an inactive member and her friend standing outside the member´s house. They let us share a scripture with them and we got our lesson with a member. Then we started knocking on doors trying to find a new investigator. We found our last new investigator for the week at 8:25 and hurried home. He genuinely seemed interested, too. God really does bless you when you go just a little further than you think you can.

We had interviews with President Carter on Friday and it´s very secure that Hermana Reales is going to be transeferred this next week. I have been so blessed to have her as my companion. I want to learn everything I can from her this week before she leaves. It´s her birthday on Wednesday and I want to do something special for her, but I don´t know what. I´ll keep thinking about it. What better birthday present is there than a baptism? I´ll think of something.

I love you all.

Love, Erin

Monday, January 16, 2012

Una semana milagrosa (A miracle week)

This week was really good. We saw a lot of miracles this week. We had a goal to get all of our lessons and contacts done by Friday so we could focus on the investigators we hoped to have in Sacrament meeting on Saturday. On Thursday we only had 4 lessons with members and didn´t know if we would be able to make it. We got 3 of the youth to come with us on Friday and got all 9 of the lessons we needed done. That was a miracle. On Saturday we went by all of the investigators we had planned to teach and invite to church, but only one was home (and he didn´t come on Sunday). We went to bed that night praying really hard for a miracle. We worked really hard, but weren´t able to talk to barely any of our investigators. We went to church and kept praying. We had one show up during Gospel Principles, towards the end and we were excited about that, but we had a goal to have 5 in Sacrament meeting. We sat down in Sacrament meeting and the meeting began. Our bishop was released and a new one called. During the meeting, the new bishop´s son and his family, who aren´t members, walked in. Miracluously we had 5 investigators in the meeting. I was absolutely amazed. Hermana Reales and I were smiling the whole way home. President Benson was right. The secret to having joy in missionary work is work.

I´m communicating better with the people now, especially with the ward, but I still struggle with conversation. I always have, though. I´m sincerely interested in other people´s lives, but don´t know how to ask the right questions to get them to tell me about themselves. I don´t really need a whole lot of probing to get me to talk and so I don´t really know what it takes. That´s something I hoped to learn before I left, but sadly didn´t master. Any ideas? I really want to make friends in the ward, but more than that have them feel like they can trust me with the work and with their friends. That´s one of my goals for the year. I want to learn how to listen better and get people to talk about themselves. It´s really the only way I´ll get to know them and be able to discern their needs. In reality it´s the only way I´ll be able to teach them what they need and help them understand how the gospel can bless their lives.

It was incredibly hot this last week, but it´s a little better now and not too humid. One of the days it was 41 degrees celsius. You can do the math for that. All I know is that it´s over 100 degree farenheight. It was awful, especially since we work during the hottest time of the day. We´re trying to drink a lot of water and I´m using sunscreen almost every day. Sometimes it doesn´t really do much, though. I sweat it off. I have some pretty sweet tan lines on my feet now, which is another miracle. The sad thing is that the tan hasn´t spread to my legs yet. I¨m still pretty pasty white there. :) Oh well. Hermana Reales says it gets bitter cold here in the winter, though.

I´m still working on getting to know the area. I´m going to try something new this week to learn them because my efforts in the past haven´t seemed to do a whole lot. The area is divided into sectors and I´m going to try and learn it that way. We spend our time in different sectors each day, so I´m going to focus on the streets in each sector when we´re there this week. Hopefully that works a little better.

The work is going well, though it has its ups and downs. Investigators can go from progressing to not in one day and their baptismal dates can fall through if the don´t come to church on Sunday. We had two dates fall through this week and we´re down to one progressing investigator. He´s really great, though. He´s a philosopher and has a lot of questions about the doctrine. He has come to church the last two Sundays by himself and is reading the Book of Mormon. We haven´t been able to really teach him any of the lessons yet, but we´re working on building his faith as he´s more logic based. We trying to help him understand that God speaks to us in our hearts and our minds. He said after Sacrament meeting yesterday, "These things are profound, but simple at the same time." We were really excited to hear that. We´re going to try and commit him to baptism this week.

I love hearing about what you´re learning and becoming. It´s amazing how much we learn and the things we learn at different stages of our lives. We learn to value what´s most important and how to balance the rest.

I wish I could write more, but I´m out of time. I love you.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

From Argentina January 9, 2012

I´m getting a little better with the language, but I definitely need to work a little harder. President Carter assigned us to switch off days with English and Spanish when we´re in the apartment and to only speak Spanish outside of the apartment. I need to dedicate myself to that a little bit more. I’m sure when I do, my progress will improve a lot. I´m a little more familiar with the area now, but it´s still pretty difficult. It´s a lot easier for me to learn to navigate an area when I drive. I pay a lot more attention. But we walk everywhere here and we talk as we walk, so sometimes I don´t really pay attention to where we are. I´m learning, though, and it´s one of my goals for this week to be able to navigate us to our appointments.

I don´t have too many goals for the year, mainly because I know when I set too many I don´t focus on any of them. It´s not too hard to separate my personal goals and the mission goals because the mission goals are just part of life. They´ve kind of become engrained in my mind. I have a goal to be more healthy this year. I want to take better advantage of the required exercise time every day and eat better. I have a goal to like tomatoes by the end of the year. Whenever we´re at a lunch appointment and eat something with tomatoes in it, I force myself to eat it. It´s not fun, but it´s getting easier.

It´s interesting to think that I´ll be on my mission for this entire year. All of my goals can be centered on becoming a better missionary and servant of the Lord. It´s pretty cool. I want to learn the language, of course, but I think my biggest goal is to learn how to love and serve people better. I want to learn how to listen and ask them questions. I want them to feel comfortable talking to me and be able to discern their needs from what they tell me. I want to be a better teacher and help those we teach feel like we´re really there for them, not just to do our job as missionaries and check them off the list. I want to forget myself and go to work. I fasted yesterday for the desire to do the Lord´s will cheerfully. I don´t want to go through my whole mission feeling like I did it just out of duty or obedience. I want to want what He wants for me.

I guess that´s a whole lot more than "not too many," but they really go back to the first and second great commandments. I want to develop charity. I want to be able to feel the pure love of Christ and help others feel it through me.

I never realized, until I came here, how much of a blessing it is to live in a place where the Church is so established. So often I think about how much easier it would be to serve in the United States. I would be able to express myself and teach more clearly. I could connect with people better. Things wouldn´t be so inconvenient. The Church would be more efficient. BUT, God didn´t call me to the United States. He called me to Argentina. They told us in the MTC that we weren´t called on a mission because of who we already were, but because of who we would become. I know I would be relying more on my own strength and wisdom than the Lord if I was in the United States. This is hard for a reason.

Hermana Reales taught me something in our companionship study the other day. She read from Doctrine and Covenants where it says we weren´t sent forth to learn, but to teach. I´m not here for what I can get out of it, or what I can do, or how I can grow. Those are all important and wonderful things about the mission, but that´s not why I¨m here. I´m here to teach God´s children the Doctrine of Christ and help them receive saving ordinances. I´m learning so much about what´s really important, and it´s not me. This work isn´t about me and it never really was. It´s God´s work and I am one of His tools to build His kingdom. There aren´t words to express this realization or the testimony I´m gaining from it. I wish I could describe it all, but I don´t think there would be enough time or enough words to do so.

God bless you all.

Love, Erin

Monday, January 2, 2012

From Argentina January 2, 2012

How was New Year´s? It was interesting to experience it here. We spent it with a family whose daughter (Chanel) does visits with us all the time. She is our life-saver. She lives in a different ward, but almost always makes herself available to come with us, even at the last minute. We were back at the apartment by 10 pm and in bed on time. Hermana Reales wanted to see the fuegos artificiales (fireworks), though, so we got up at midnight to watch them. I doubt we would have been able to sleep through them, even if we hadn´t gotten up.
It´s so interesting to think that it´s 2012 already and that I´ll be in Argentina for the entire year. It was nice, though, to make my resolutions all about missionary work. I have the chance to focus on the things of the spirit for the entire year. What a blessing. What are some of your resolutions? What do you want to accomplish or become in 2012? I hope you remember what Elder Marston said, "What you focus on expands." I know I think about it all the time, especially when I´m evaluating my progress, desires, and goals.

I think I´m progressing pretty well, though I don´t really have anything to compare myself to. I had an interview with President Carter today and he gave me an assignment. He said that, most-likely, Hermana Reales is going to get transfered in the next transfer, leaving me in Libertad. I´ll still be the junior companion, but I´ll have to know the area, our ward, and investigators really well. I really need to pay attention for the next 30 days and put myself a little more out there. They need to trust me, too, not just Hermana Reales, if we´re going to continue functioning after she leaves.

I really want to forget myself and go to work. I think that´s when I´ll have the most success and love the mission the most. I wish I could tell you everything and share every experience. I wish there was time to do so. I guess it´s a good thing that there´s a rule against saying anything "negative" in letters home. It´s forcing me to turn to God for the solutions to my problems. My prayers aren´t exactly where I want them yet, but they´re improving, slowly since I do them in Spanish and can´t really express myself all that well yet. That´s probably a huge blessing, too. Maybe I can learn the language and get to know God all at the same time. He blesses those who go to Him for help.

I love you all. Thank you for everything.
Love, Hermana 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