About Me

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I am studying Psychology and Sociology at Utah Valley University, and working at a treatment center for troubled teens. I love life, being with people from all cultures, speaking Spanish, and traveling all over the world. I will never stop laughing, dancing, singing, enjoying, appreciating, and just being.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A True Miracle - Our Savior Lives

Monday December 12, 2011

Queridos hermanos,

Happy holidays! Can I remind you all super quick that it does not feel like Christmas at all. While you are all sipping on hot chocolate, decorating trees, singing Christmas songs, snowboarding, skiing, hanging up lights, and enjoying the winter chill, it is dang hot here! I am just dying sweating every second and the only real Christmas lights I have seen are one little string hung up in the butchers place by our apartment. Instead of sitting by a fire enjoying a little Carpenters Christmas tunes, all I hear all day in the streets is cumbia and corteto. And to top it all off, instead of
finishing up finals and traveling home to be with fam for the holidays, I am with the same person, 24/7 for three months – it’s a good thing we freaking love each other! Haha - but as the holidays come closer and closer, I have come to realize how truly happy I am to be here in the mission. Instead of spending time for gifts, food, and family, I am going outside each day, (even in the dang hot weather ☺), and opening my mouth to everyone I see and testifying of the Savior of the world and how he is truly the most important and significant being in this season of Christmas. This week, or actually, just the past 4 days, has been possibly the most amazing and wonderful days on my mission, and I pray and hope that in just the few words I have to give and express to you all in this email, that it will even come close to help you to understand what I have been through, what I have learned, and felt.

So Thursday was our big Christmas zone conference! I had the opportunity to give my farewell talk since I only have one transfer left, and it was super sad, but went really well. We learned so much during the conference and had a ton of training classes to better us as missionaries and the president talked to us a lot about expecting miracles this Christmas in December as a mission, and how we are going
to accomplish it. Of course, he spoke of the importance of change and repentance, and how we as missionaries really need to re-focus, and begin to develop more faith and power through broken hearts, sincerity, devotion, and sacrifice. It got my companion and I really thinking of what we could do to see miracles at this point because we had absolutely no one to work with lately, and we knew we would need to make a change in us first before we expected miracles.

The next day, Friday, my companion and I woke up just super distracted and nervous. We both had hard times focusing and studying and didn’t know what to do. We started our companionship study with a prayer, and I began to share a book that I got for Christmas in my package from my family, ¨Reflections of Christ: Another Testament.¨ This book has beautiful photographs of Christ visiting the people in 3rd Nephi from the Book of Mormon. The pictures were taken in South America, so it was close to home for us. As I read from its pages, the Preface of what the author wrote about taking pictures of this marvelous scene when Christ came to the Americas, and as we studied the pictures, we both began to weep. In my mind, I wondered what it could possibly be like to be at this photo shoot, and really take your imagination back to this historic and life-changing moment when Christ appeared to the people in the Americas after his death and resurrection. As both my companion and I studied these breath-taking photos, we wondered just what it would be like if we could have been there, and what it will actually be like to be able to see him in his return here. We pondered of our personal worthiness, readiness, our true conversión to Him, and our testimony of his divinity. One of the first scriptures you read when you open the book is in 3 Nephi 9:13…….
13 - O all ye that are spared because ye were more righteous than they, will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?
We thought of this as an actual invitation, as if the Savior was with us in that moment and was inviting us to come unto him, just like he was doing to these people in the Americas, and was asking us to be converted to him so we could be healed. We expressed our personal testimonies of Jesus Christ and really our dedication to serve him.

We both had felt that due to our recent trials and struggles with health and our area, we have not been “in a good place,” and knew we needed a change. In this moment, we literally felt in our minds and our hearts what it would feel like to be with him, in his presence, and know without doubt that He is the Christ…………

(3 Nephi 11:14-15)
14 Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world.
15 And it came to pass that the multitude went forth, and thrust their hands into his side, and did feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet; and this they did do, going forth one by one until they had all gone forth, and did see with their eyes and did feel with their hands, and did know of a surety and did bear record, that it was he, of whom it was written by the prophets, that should come.

3 Nephi 9:20 And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit.
3 Nephi 17:7 Have ye any that are sick among you? Bring them hither. Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner? Bring them hither and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you; my bowels are filled with mercy.

3 Nephi 25:2 But unto you that fear my name, shall the Son of Righteousness arise with healing in his wings
3 Nephi 22:10 For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee.

We both felt such a strong love and gratitude for our Savior and felt as the people, like is says in 3 Nephi 17:10, “And they did all, both they who had been healed and they who were whole, bow down at his feet, and did worship him; and as many as could come for the multitude did kiss his feet, insomuch that they did bathe his feet with their tears.

We decided in that moment how much we just loved our Redeemer and really who He was to us and we just knew that he does live and loved us and was there to pull us into his wings of healing and convert and change us.

Right after we had this intense experience, our phone rang and it was the mission office. They had a reference for us and told us this intense story, and to pass for this lady. It was in a town a little bit farther away so we figured we could just go the next day but we both felt a spiritual impression that we should change all our plans and try and find this lady. The direction was kind of confusing but, after a prayer on our knees together of thanks, love, and help in this journey, we jumped on a bus, and went to find her! Once we got to the neighborhood, we began our search. As we walked through the neighborhood looking like complete tourists with a map and so lost, we asked around for help and a lady directed us to a house that we had already passed and as we had passed it earlier, I felt that it was the house. Normally we would stand really far out and clap our hands, because it is just the Argentina way, but I felt really strongly we should go to the front door directly, and just knock. Right away this lady opens the door and at first looks confused but once she sees our tags, she gets this huge smile on her face and says, ¨come in!¨ ¨I have been waiting for you!¨

She couldn’t believe we found her because when she found and spoke with the
Elders in Cordoba, they acted like it would be confusing to find where she lived.
She sat us down right away and told us her whole story. About 4 years ago she investigated the church in this area, attending the La Falda ward, and was going to get baptized with her whole family but for some reason had some doubts, got scared, and lost contact and never went back. She separated from her abusive husband and was alone with her 5 kids without much work. A few months ago she found out she was pregnant, obviously not planned because she is not really dating
or serious with anyone, and she called the guy and he got super mad, and told her to ¨take care of it¨ and never wanted to see her again. She is 41, a single mother with 5 and now possibly 6 kids, and had no idea what to do. She was in tears, fear, and completely in darkness for weeks and had tons of pressure to get an abortion. Her friend set her up a free appointment at a clinic in Cordoba and she went, thinking there was nothing else she could do, and this was her only option. As she waited her turn in the clinic, she looked outside and saw a mother holding her little son, and she panicked and walked out of the clinic. As she stepped outside, she saw two completely lost elders who had now passed her a third time since she had been in Cordoba and on this third time as they passed, she looked into their faces, saw her two sons in these boys, and felt she had to stop and talk to them. She pulled them aside and began to weep telling her story, and the elders became emotional, testified of the góspel and the plan of salvation, and the importance of saving the life of this child. She agreed to keep the baby and felt peace with these two elders for the first time in a long time in her life. They got her information and it was eventually passed to us.

They gave her a Book of Mormon, which she had been reading and praying, and said to us in this first conversation, ¨I know this is a sign from God and this is the truth. I felt it 4 years ago in your church, I felt it in Cordoba with those two elders, and I feel it very strongly with you two right now.¨ My companion and I looked at each other with tears in our eyes, sat in a few seconds of silence, and I looked her direct in the face and said ¨As a representative of Jesus Christ I testify to you that this is His church and it is true.¨ From that moment on, as we taught this lady and her children, I have never felt the love of God so strong and we just taught with so much of the spirit and unity that we were all just speechless.

The next day we began a fast, and we went to put a baptism date with her. As we taught her the doctrine of Christ she accepted it all and we asked her to follow the
example of Jesus Christ and she said yes! And even better she accepted to be baptized this coming Saturday!!! The next day was Sunday and her and two of her kids came, she felt so happy and comfortable with the members, and even shared her testimony in the principles of the gospel class I taught! Everyone in the ward rallied around this woman and were emotional, with her presence, and story, and just loved her so much! We got permission from the bishop to do it this Saturday and we just have so much support from everyone! After church we put baptism dates with her two kids, Pilar and Tomas who are 12 and 9, and they accepted the same day as their mom! Every single day we are seeing more and more miracles and it is such a blessing. Also in church that same day, a member came up to us and told us his friend was here and is super interested in the gospel and wants us to teach him! Every day we are in more amazement with the huge progression and
change that we have seen in only 4 short days in ourselves, in the ward, in the bishop, and in investigators.

Looking back and reflecting on the experience we had as a companionship, we both can testify that literally the living son of the living God is real. He exists and he, like it teaches us in all of 3 Nephi and throughout all of the scriptures, lives, and loves us,
and is inviting us to truly repent of our sins, be converted, and healed through him and his sacrifice. This is why we have so much reason to rejoice. This is the whole purpose of this season of Christmas. This is the grand plan that God has for us like it states in John 3:16-17,
16 ¶For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

This is what we are all working up to. Just like God testified to Moses,
Moses 1:39 For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

God is here and he sent his son in the world to bring us happiness, so that if we followed him, and truly with a broken heart and contrite spirit, accept him and give up everything to be with him, we will never have to be alone and we will find peace in this life and countless blessings and miracles. When we make the decisión
personally to align ourselves and our will with God’s will, that is when our lives change, we come to know the Savior, and we witness miracles. I have personally witnessed this myself these past few days. I have come to know Jesus Christ and for this reason I am so completely full of joy and gratitude to be here during this season of celebrating the birth of the Savior of the world. I can testify that Jesus Christ and God are real, and live, and are among us. They love us and want us to be happy. During this Christmas season, I desire that we can all return to the real reason Christmas began and we can come to know, personally and truthfully, the King of Israel, the Prince of Peace, Jesus who was born in Bethlehem. I invite all to study His divinity and sacrifice and come to know truly what he did for you. Then, go out during this magical season of love and share that fire of a testimony with others, like these people we are finding, and fill the lives of those around you with your light, love, and joy and go about doing good. It will fill you up inside like no other sensation you can possibly receive and will be the most rewarding gift that you could give to anyone else, and Jesus Christ, during this celebration of Christmas. I know this gospel is true, and I can promise you all that getting to know our Savior is the only way that each one of us will be truly happy in our lives we have been given. I love you all and thank you for all you do for the missionaries of the world. Keep sending them out, supporting them, and praying for them.

Love Hermana Pond

December in La Falda - the Adventure continues!

Monday December 6th, 2011

To whom it may concern...

I have good news world....after 4 whole months I finally got over my laziness and dyed my hair!!! haha It looked so bad - but I finally got productive and went and got the hair color and did it today for pday! My hair looks SO much better now and maybe it will make me look more Argentine...haha - my dream, and it will look better for the talk I am giving Thursday at the Zone Christmas meeting.

So it has been a very basic week. The sad news is my comp and I both got colds this week ahhhhh! My health is a joke - it lasted a pretty long time so we didn’t get to do much - we would like go out and try working and hit up some appointments, but just feel and look like death after a few hours and like roll back home and die in our beds. haha poor us in poor Argentina - what are we gonna do.....

Updates:
-We found a baby kitten like crying SO loud one night in the windy night and we saved her and fed her. It was tender. I don’t think I can count on my hands how many freaking times I have saved little animals in my mission - I feel like there are just so many stray animals everywhere in this country and no one cares about them – so sad!

-We met a super cool guy from Buenos Aires, that stopped us to ask us for directions and immediately regretted it, as he could tell we were not from here either, but he was super nice and we chatted it up and taught him a lot about our church. He was very interested and we got all stoked to continue passing but we found out he was leaving back to Buenos Aires the next day. ☹ We told him to go to the church by his house over there and meet with the missionaries. We hoped we planted a dang good seed because he was super cool and fun to talk to and teach and seemed as though he will follow up.

-We are still teaching Javier and he is super just pumped on life and loves the gospel. We asked him if he was reading the Book of Mormon and he was so fun he was like ¨yes! But the problem is every time I read it, I can’t stop thinking about it because it is just so interesting and I just want to read more and ask questions. He still has all his problems like working on Sundays, still needs to get married, and the whole divorce thing, but we are hoping for yet another great miracle like last month and we are hoping all will work out and he will be able to be baptized by Christmas!

-Monday night we went to go pass for a recent convert Elsa - who has just been the trial of our lives- and she was so crazy and freaked out on us and told us she never wants us to come back and started making up lies, like my comp was going to hit her....,and she was honestly being a child so we like tried talking to her but she just wouldn’t listen and we all ended up just fighting and we stormed out. ☹ It was a mess, and it really made me uncomfortable because I hate contention -like we all know that about me - and it was just so awkward and she was just so annoying. So that pretty much ruined our week because we just felt she was SO ungrateful because we have done everything in the world for that woman and spent so much time with her and energy and she was just so rude and selfish. It really hurt, and we are hoping she has a change of heart and we will see what happens. I mean what can you do - you can only love and try to help people with their issues and problems but everyone has choices and free agency to accept something and change, so we will have to be patient and just see.

-Another story from the week – so we just love the hermanas in Villa Independencia in our zone - Hermana Masters and Mcdonald- (who was my comp for 2 transfers in Arroyito) and Masters is just LEGIT, and so amazing cutie red head from L.A. - they are both such amazing missionaries and just such hard workers and so impressive and obedient and loving, and we just want the world for them, because they deserve that and everything more for the hard work they have put in together and into their missions. They have been working with this investigator, Rodrigo, for all this transfer and have been doing everything so he can get baptized and he has been so close so many times but still wasn’t making it. We all had been praying and fasting and calling them daily just to see how they are, because we love them so much and the zone just wants the best for each other - its like a big family! So we were in our apartment Saturday and Rodrigo was planning on getting baptized that night and so we were
all stoked and happy for the hermanas, and around lunch time I get a call from Hermana Mcdonald and she was just DEVASTATED. She was such a wreck and bawling on the phone and telling us about how the zone leaders said again that he couldn’t get baptized because he had smoked that week, and they told Rodrigo and he was SO upset, and over it and he had REALLY wanted to get baptized that day. They tried explaining to him, but he wasn’t getting it and was just super mad and said he was over it all and didn’t care and wasn’t going to get baptized at all.

They both left just heart broken and confused and didn’t get why all this had to happen and poor hermana was just so emotional and venting to me, and was so over the mission, and trials and life and was just super down and low at this point. I tried going to where she was and even got emotional myself because she and her comp had done everything for this baptism and didn’t deserve this, but I knew that it was just a trial of faith and I tried comforting them with all the words I had and told them it would all be okay because God loves them and saw their hard work and was going to give them success. After we got off the phone I just got so sad and emotional and wondered why this has to happen for all of us in the mission and in life and especially with SUCH good people who have really done everything and are really trying. I said a prayer in my heart and just pleaded to Heavenly Father to bless the hermanas with a miracle because they deserved it and I knew he had the power to do it. After a little less than an hour we get a call back from the hermanas and she said ¨you would not believe me what has happened...¨ she continued to tell me that Rodrigo had called the zone leaders to get their permission to get baptized and they said they couldn’t give permission, but there was someone who could…....the mission president!!! They gave him his number and Rodrigo, so legit, calls our mission president and tells him how much he wants to get baptized that day, and was sincere and plead with the pres, and he got permission!!!!!! I just about died…. and was like jumping up and down so happy - because I just knew that God loves Rodrigo, and loves the hermanas so much and was going to bless them with a miracle, and he did!!!! And even better it was was quicker than I thought!

This week I felt as if I were Alma in chapter 29 in the Book of Mormon after they had all come back from their missions and reunited and heard of the good news about the success of Ammon in the land of Nephi, after converting many lamanites, and Alma states joyfully,

13 Yea, and that same God did establish his church among them; yea, and that same God hath called me by a a holy calling, to preach the word unto this people, and hath given me much success, in the which my
joy is full.

14 But I do not joy in my own success alone, but my joy is more full because of the success of my brethren, who have been up to the land of Nephi.

15 Behold, they have labored exceedingly, and have brought forth much fruit; and how great shall be their reward!

16 Now, when I think of the success of these my brethren my soul is carried away, even to the separation of it from the body, as it were, so great is my joy.
I was just so filled with happiness and joy and love for the hermanas and Rodrigo and this wonderful miracle they had and it was just another strong testimony builder to me that God does live and loves all of his children and I know he is just so proud of all his
missionaries and the work we do. I just love the zone unity we have had and I feel so blessed to be part of such a great big family with so much support and love. love them all!!!

This week has definitely, with all the drama of Elsa and the hermanas and us now running around trying to find new people to teach for December, I have just realized the importance of 2 crucial things, which president Uchtdorf talked about so poetically and clearly in his talk ¨The things that matter the most¨ in general conference Oct 2010. In this talk he talks about 4 key relationships we must focus on but I have found the urgency to find and strengthen 2 that are the most important for ourselves, which is our relationship with God and our relationship with ourselves. I love in the talk when Uchtdorf states, ¨The reason we return to these foundational principles, to the pure doctrines, is because they are the gateway to truths of profound meaning. They are the door to experiences of sublime importance that would otherwise be beyond our capacity to comprehend. These simple, basic principles are the key to living in harmony with God and man. They are the keys to opening the windows of heaven. They lead us to the peace, joy, and understanding that Heavenly Father has promised to his children who hear and obey Him.¨

So many things are going to happen to us in our lives and I have just experienced personally the reason that we must, first before anything occurs big or small in our lives, develop these strong and ¨firm foundations¨ in ourselves and really figure out who we are, who God is, and the way we must daily learn to love them both. Uchtdorf continues to say, ¨As we evaluate our own lives with a willing mind, we will see where we have drifted from the more excellent way. The eyes of our understanding will be opened, and we will recognize what needs to be one to purify our heart and refocus our life.¨

Being so sick and helpless in bed and inside has really taken me to just go inside and really try and figure out who I am and the things I like about myself and the things I don’t, and want to work on and it has just brought me to set goals and come to know my father in heaven and work with him in this whole new process. God created us and knows every single little thing about us, good and bad, and wants to help us to use our talents and gifts as well as build our characters and refine our weaknesses. If we do not come to know our creator, then how can we come to know ourselves, love ourselves, and fulfill our purpose in this life and come to the point of being truly happy? It is all a process! We need to sit down in quiet, aside from our stressful lives and take a moment to really ANALYZE. We need to have an inventory with ourselves and with God. We should pray and communicate with our father in heaven like he was our teacher and really seek his guidance and counsel to become better daily. We should not be afraid to take a good look at who we are. Why can’t we learn to just accept the person we are and learn to adore, cherish, and embrace that person. We all have so many problems...haha - it is the truth - and so many times I feel like we run from them, or we’re in denial and don’t accept that we really do have so many little things we can fix and mend. Then when we do this, so much changes and we really develop a strong and very personal relationship with God and more importantly ourselves. It is really quite beautiful and an interesting process. I love the scripture in Helaman 3:35 that says, 35: Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God.

Do we not just yearn to purify ourselves and yield our whole hearts to God? And I love how it starts out talking about humility! It really takes humility to sit down and adjust yourself out before you go back out there and face the world. I honestly think that by applying these simple things to these 2 key relationships, we will better the other 2 that Uchtdorf talks such as with families and with the people around us. We can better relationships and marriages and we will truly just become more stable people. This is why I just worship the gospel of Jesus Christ! It has all of life answers to all of our questions and problems.

So I invite all to go outside and enjoy the lovely snowfall, sunset, nature, sounds, lights, beauty that is all around you and just go within and figure out what you want, who you are, your situations, problems, your positive physical characteristics, your spiritual gifts, your talents, your worries and troubles, and go to your father that created you who is in the heavens looking over you with his course of angels and just converse with him. Get to know him as a person and have him help you get this all re-arranged and he will truly bless you and make you feel so happy, and feel so full of purpose and love for your life, yourself, him, and the people around you. You will see and feel change and understand that this is not a one time thing, but the basics of the church of Christ is a life-time pursuit. It is a journey and it will take time so get comfortable and get going by doing and applying these things daily. It all works!!! I love the gospel and I love the mission and I can testify that these things are true.

Love Hermana Pond

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November 28th, 2011
Queridos,

So I have good news….like the Lord spoke to David,

¨I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee…¨ (2 kings 20:5)
I have completely recovered from my Argentine fight with illness: hospitals, sickness, beds, medicines, and blessings. I feel so much better, and I am thankful to the Lord, like David, that he has certainly heard my prayers, seen my many tears, and completely healed me. I feel as if I am new again and excited to go out and get back to work in La Falda.

This week has truly been a week of miracles and not just of the miracles of sickness and healing. The Lord has blessed us beyond measure and we have absolutely seen his hand of mercy and love in this last week in the missionary work in this area. Let us begin with how I was not only healed physically but what healed me spiritually and passed time this past week. My companion and I spent a lot of time inside and sometimes it can be a little frustrating being a missionary and so used to schedules and being busy and then be indoors for a week. We decided to, as a companionship; just get completely lost in the scriptures and popcorn read out of the Book of Mormon. I have never enjoyed such a study in my life that has brought me not only closer to my companion but more importantly closer to my Savior, Jesus Christ. I feel abundantly blessed to have the opportunity to read this sacred work for the rest of my life and each time I open its holy pages, I am able to find more knowledge and light about this gospel, my Father in Heaven, and his son Jesus Christ. I testify that like it states in the intro to the Book of Mormon, ¨a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts than any other book,” and we can come to know our Heavenly Father and his desire and expectations of us through the study of the Book of Mormon. I love the quote by Boyd K. Packer that says. ¨In a world ever more dangerous…the Book of Mormon: another testament of Jesus Christ has the nourishing power to heal starving spirits of the world.¨ The study of the Book of Mormon has really changed my life in the mission forever and I can promise any human soul that lives on the earth that if the read it, ponder it, and pray about it, they will receive a strong impact and influence on their hearts from the Holy Ghost that it is the word of God, and that they should study it for the rest of their lives.

So after all my sickness and last week with all our investigators dropping us or not going to church, we were sadly losing the hope of not only baptizing this month but having anyone to teach and progress this transfer. At the conference last week we got to talk to the mission president and he gave us a little hope and told us that he gave us permission to baptize these two precious ladies we were teaching, but he said we had to get permission as well from the bishop and without that, it could not go down. We were completely without hope or faith in that moment because we have had so many problems in this area, this ward with the members, and especially the bishop. Somehow with everything that was going on, we decided to apply the ¨law of attraction¨, or you could call it ¨the secret¨ (seen the movie?), or in the gospel terms TONS of faith and a positive attitude.

We passed for our investigators about Tuesday with a member and they really just wanted to get baptized and were so ready and still wanted to do it Sunday. The member was super surprised and got really emotional because she has been a neighbor to them forever and never thought that they would be so willing and ready but in that moment, she knew that earlier she had planted the seed and at this moment they were so ready to accept the gospel. We all got so emotional and excited and called our leaders, worked out an interview that week, and started planning it all. Returning home from that appointment we got home, said a prayer, and decided to call the bishop and talk it out with him and get his permission to get them baptized. Right away, he was super on board with the idea, super supportive, and totally excited and accepted it all!

As we called our zone leaders, who have just been fighting and supporting us this whole transfer with all the trials, tears, fasting, sicknesses, worries, and problems, and my companion put them on speaker and we both told them that Ofelia an Cristina were getting baptized this Sunday. I was so emotional and in that moment just poured out my heart and soul to God and thanked him for his love and miracles. We had been through SO much and literally were to the point of giving it all up and for that reason I can just testify with all my soul that MIRACLES DO EXIST! This has honestly been the biggest most amazing and incredible miracle in my whole mission.
So they got interviewed and were all ready to go for Sunday and after church, we were going to have the baptism. All was super smooth up until Sunday morning…we had a meeting at 8 and after it ended we went to fill the font but there was NO WATER in the whole church…..uhh it was so stressful and we all just dropped on our knees right there and just pleaded for a miracle to get not only the water back but hot water. We went to go look for Ofelia and Cristina and just pulling up to their house I was so happy! They were both out front waiting just beaming and so excited and ready! Once we got to the church of course the water finally came back on and we got to fill the font and start the baptismal service. I was so nervous the whole time. First of all one of these ladies is like 80 and the other is around 60. Neither of them can walk very well, and one is handicapped. I had no idea what would happen but I trusted in the Lord and with the help and power of the heavenly angels, all of this would work out.

The service was so filled with light and the spirit was super thick. Everyone in attendance was really emotional because it seriously was a miracle that these ladies were going to get baptized. It was such a struggle and so hard and uncomfortable for them but they wanted it so bad and knew it would bless their lives and so they had the faith to do and accomplish it. We had to get 3 men in the font and with a lot of prayers and strength, both of them made it under and right after got confirmed. When they came in after getting changed, which seemed like forever, it was just so perfectly still in the room, and a member was so cute and said ¨here come the two queens¨, and they were just beaming and smiling and so full of peace and joy. I have never been so happy in my life. As we finished with the last song to close the service, ¨I am a child of God¨, I looked around the room with all these people filled with tears, cute Cristina the daughter was attempting to sing along, and I looked at a picture of the Savior and I just felt so happy and so completely and full of love. I honestly cannot express with words how happy I was in that moment and thinking back on all the trials and experiences that had happened to us truly just drifted away and didn’t even matter, and all I could think about was how happy everyone in that room was and as well as the angels in heaven.

It is all worth it. Every little thing I have suffered in my mission was worth it just in that divine and heavenly moment. I felt so at peace with my Savior and just felt so sure of my life and who I was and that I would never, regardless of what is going to come my way, ever leave this gospel. It is truly interesting to see how the Lord works because if I hadn’t gotten so sick, the bishop would have never gone to the hospital to help us and give me a blessing and bond with us. During that experience I feel that we strengthened our relationship with him and we gained his trust and confidence. This eventually led to getting his permission, which he had been hesitant with because of their health situations and certain obstacles. Every little thing that happens to us in life, big and small, plays a part in Gods plan and timing and it will all end up benefiting us in the end and being for our higher good. I believe in miracles.

I can now with every energy of my soul and being testify that God the father of our spiritual souls does live and love us and will always bless us if we do his will. Never doubt and never give up. Always fight until the end, even when it seems like it is too long and too far of a journey more to keep on going. Just like President Uchtdorf has promised us, ¨diligently doing the things that matter most, will lead us to the Savior of the world¨ I too can promise that when we focus on living the principles of the gospel and obey God’s will, we will come into the loving arms of our Redeemer and find peace. I love missionary work and I love every single moment that is occurring in my mortal existence to help me grow and learn so I can come to know who I am and to understand my divine potential. I want to be with my Heavenly Father again someday and become perfect like him, through his beloved and perfect son Jesus Christ. We are so blessed to be able to share this knowledge and happiness with others. We have such a great reason to rejoice. Thank you so much for all your prayers, thoughts, and support. I LOVE YOU ALL!

Love Hermana Pond

GRATITUDE

November 21st, 2011

Family and friends…

Happy thanksgiving! So like every week in the missión…where to begin…

Lets begin with some thanks in the fun spirit of Thanksgiving week!

I am thankful for food - so we had a tender encounter with Nemecio this week. He rang our doorbell one morning and we were all confused who it was and then we go to the window and hear such a sad ¨chicas!¨ Nemecio was all beaten up and had hurt his face somehow and was crying and all upset. We calmed him down and asked how we could help him and he confessed that he had no money or anything to feed him that day and needed our help. We were fasting at the time and starving and had barely nothing in the apartment but found some rice and fried and egg and did a little service and fed this tender drunk homeless man that we have such a soft spot for and gave it to him. He looked us in the eyes and with all the gratitude of his heart he just cried and thanked us so much for always blessing and helping him. We blessed his food with him and sent him on his way. It was a tender experience.

I am thankful for families - this week we found a really cute family who are super poor and really inactive. They have a ton of family problems and want to become active again so they can be happy. We talked to the mom first and she vented to us about her worry for her 4 children who are just devastated and SO torn from the separation of her and the dad and they just struggle emotionally and spiritually. We went 2 times to the kid’s house this week and they are just amazing. They were all glowing and SO happy to see us and we taught them and they seriously are doing so much better. It is so sad to see broken homes and how much it effects kids even when they are super young because the kids are ages 13-3 and so they are so weak and so unsure about life, but we taught them a lot about prayer and the Book of Mormon and they are all reading and praying together and doing so well. I love them so much!

I am thankful for mission rules - we were walking home one night and this funny looking guy with a beard and like bow and arrow sitch on his back walked by us and stopped us in the street and said, ¨I am looking for a woman...will you be my woman?¨ we were laughing so hard because he was SO weird and awk and we explained to him how we couldn’t and we were missionaries and he just ended up saying that his name was Jesus so it was chill... haha- it was funny but sad, and after a few minutes he finally accepted the rejection and walked away. Phew.

I am grateful for my testimony of Joseph Smith and the restoration - so we had a super sad appointment with one of our progressing investigators. We went to her house after starting a fast and doing a ton a practices before so that the lesson could go well and after watching the video of Joseph Smith and testifying our hearts out to her- Lorena -she was not interested at all and said she was comfortable in her church and we will see whatever is standing at the end of the world and what will be the truth. It was so sad and one of the hardest lessons I have ever had because she is SO great and needs the gospel so much for her hard life and her family but I guess it is just not her time.

I am grateful for the Book of Mormon - this week we had the amazing opportunity to teach Javier, who is our golden investigator and is ready and wants to get baptized but his wife needs to divorce first and then they need to get married. He is so amazing! He understands it all and is so ready to become a member so he can go out and share the gospel with everyone. We taught him about the Book of Mormon and gave him his first one and he like almost cried. He made us write in it to dedicate it to him and as he stroked the book and held it close to him he told us that we are going to be given really big mansions in heaven for this work that we are doing and bringing souls, especially him because he is going to convert so many – haha - to the gospel. He has so much faith and is really changing and growing in his testimony, especially about the Book of Mormon, and it is really so moving and amazing to be a part of it and teach someone like him.

I am grateful for the love of God - we have been teaching Cristina and Ofelia this week and they are so tender and every time we are just in their presence, we feel so much love and the spirit. We can just see the light and happiness and peace entering into their lives and filling their souls. They say that they are so much happier since we have been passing, and can really feel God’s love for them with this gospel. They really want to get baptized this week so we will see what happens!

I am grateful for health - so I sadly returned to a hospital this week but way worse. I had a pounding head ache and a fever and pain in the stomache. After visiting 4 different hospitals in 2 days, getting a shot, 2 xrays, and 2 IV’s, 4 different doctors told me different things 1said I was dehydrated, just ¨sick¨ from the sun, 2 thought I had pneumonia, and FINALLY I was told I have a severe sinus infection (which explains the intense head pain) - in conclusion, I am over everyone telling me different things and I am over being sick in Argentina so we will probably stay in a lot this week, take my meds, and rest my way back to my health.

I am grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ - we honestly had a really hard week full of tons of opposition and trials, and with so much stress and problems in life, we are always brought to so much doubt and wonder why and just get so down. For this reason, I am so very grateful for the true church and the true gospel we have because when we live it and we do all we can, we are blessed and we can ALWAYS overcome everything with the help of God through many prayers, sacrifice, and faith. After a day of investigators dropping us, telling us they couldn’t go to church, then POURING rain and us running in it for like 5 blocks, and a new convert telling us she is mad at the church and doesn’t want to be a part of it anymore - yes this was all in one day- I just sat there and wondered what was happening. Then of course on the radio I hear the song ¨bad day¨ and I just started laughing inside because I just couldn’t believe how much we were going through and during all this we were fasting and sacrificing and doing everything on our part for miracles....and this was the result.

Sometimes life is hard. Sometimes things don’t work out, and we are upset - but in the end, we can just really shake it off, laugh even, look ahead, and just know that everything is going to be all right. God loves us and wants us to be happy and for that reason he has given us his gospel to live it and obey it and even when times are crappy - he will ALWAYS end up blessing and helping us. It is normally not in our timing, which is difficult, and sometimes we don’t even notice the blessings because we are so caught up in our problems. We really just need to take a deep breath, look around us and remember how much we truly do have, know it might take some time to pass, and move on with hope, faith, and happiness, and hey guess what...IT WILL ALWAYS WORK OUT. I am alive, and my sickness will pass….and our baptisms and attendances in church will work out and we will see miracles and the ward problems will smooth out, and ALL WILL BE WELL. Whatever problem you are going through right now just remember - God loves you and is with you and will hold your hand and give you the strength until its over. It will pass and you will be fine. Hold your head up and always be GRATEFUL.

I am grateful for the mission - even though its been a WAY tougher road than I could ever imagine, and more in the end of my mission, (enduring to the end - literally!), I am SO grateful for my mission, and have learned SO much in just this time I have been out here than ever in my whole life. I don’t know what I would do with my life if I hadn’t made that decision to come out here. It wasn’t easy - its better to be comfortable in the luxuries of home and with my usual friends and family, but sometimes we just need to close our eyes and jump. We know its going to be something hard, painful, uncomfortable, difficult, effort, work, and a lot of the time… that is why we don’t ever want to do things, but I can promise you all that anything you are pondering in your life right now - whether it is to get married, go on a mission, move, try a different job, make new friends, accept a calling, do service, or whatever it may be - IT IS WORTH IT. You can do it and don’t be afraid and just know that God will bless you as you make these decisions to grow and progress in life because of course he doesn’t want us to suffer, but we also know that this road we choose a long time ago - to be a part of this truth and this gospel - would never be easy. It is a lot of sacrifice and effort, and we are normally out of our comfort zones, but IT IS OKAY. It is going to be fine, and we are all going to learn from these opportunities and experiences so say yes! Take that leap of faith and jump in with no regrets and always remember and know that you will come out stronger and absolutely more GRATEFUL for the things in your life. I love you all and thank you for all your support and prayers. Happy thanksgiving and never forget – especially this month -to be ALWAYS thankful for your blessings.

Love Hermana Pond

Friday, November 18, 2011

Monday November 14th, 2011

Hello lovely world! I don’t even know what to tell you all.....so its been an interesting week. Let me start with last Monday...

So we began to go out and work and I felt sick starting this day, but I didn’t think anything of it. I am in Argentina and I always feel sick...it was mostly a little pain in my head but I thought it would go away. We went out Tuesday and had a LONG day of hard work in the blazing heat, which did not help my head. I thought eating would make me better but I felt even worse. We kept going. We had a ton of appointments that day so we went around teaching people and they kept giving us freaking juice and not water when we were thirsty. Also this lady gave us the weirdest like natural drink that to me tasted like alcohol, and after I drank it my throat hurt SO bad and my head was pounding. We got home and I just collapsed into bed just hoping I would sleep it off. Didn’t work. First of all there was a HUGE thunder and lightening storm all night and so that made it hard to sleep and the power went out so we were just like laying in the pitch dark with one little candle lit - haha - it was great.

Then we get a call from the zone leaders and they are all pumped and tell us that we are going to have ¨Hermana camp 2¨ and they wanted us to go to Villa - the other girls area - for 2 days to work and help them out. We tried acting stoked about it and I didn’t have the heart to tell them no because I felt sick because I truly thought it would go away. Bad idea. So we go to Cosquin the next day and have this huge zone meeting with all this energy and excitement and all the elders were like counting on us to go do miracles over in their area so I kind of just ignored my pounding head ache, stomach ache, and my throat was getting worse. I felt like I was going to puke, so as we left to grab food I was like uhhhh no I cant eat I feel like death and they were all like - uhhh – ok - you should probably eat, but whatever. As we were walking around in more blazing heat I felt like I was going to faint but everyone knows…..I try to be super positive all the time and don’t like to be a buzz kill - especially after this long intense meeting with the zone leaders and everyones all like ¨whooooo hermana camp yayyy!!!¨ haha so I didn’t want to ruin it.

The one hour bus ride to their area did not make matters better....I felt like dying on the bus ride up there and as we waited for our second bus I kept getting the chills and literally felt like death. I tried pushing through but I had just had it - I couldn’t fake my dying state....we go to the apartment and I collapsed on one of the hermanas bed and I just started to cry and cry and my head was SO hot and I seriously thought something bad was happening to me. The hermanas freaked out and called the wife of president and she said to take my temp and my temp was at 102! I felt like I couldn’t breath and then the hermana freaked out and just told the hermanas to take me to the hospital. We rushed in and I just kept my eyes closed and walked around like I was dead because I seriously felt so much pain. As we got in pretty quick to meet with a doctor she took my temp and it was almost to 103 and it was rising fast!!! So she freaked out and told me that I had a terrible fever and that I was dehydrated. She said they needed to hook me up to an IV!!! I got SO scared because I hate needles ONE (I fainted when I got my shots for Africa), and TWO, I have never been in a hospital in my life… let alone in a sketchy little one in Argentina that I don’t even know if i can trust....but as I laid there panicking and just wanted the pain to go away I looked at the doctor and knew I could trust her and they took me in. I lay down and just shut my eyes SO tight because I knew if I looked I would like hyperventilate and scream and precious hermana Masters was with me - love her! She was like my mom and kept squeezing my hand and stroking my arm and told me everything would be alright. Once I got the IV in, my fever started to drop and I felt ALOT better! But that wasn’t the worse part...

So even before they put the dang thing in me, I had to use the bathroom and I told the people that, but she said you can use it later….Cool. So I was laying there all calm and feeling better and i told hermana masters to go to the nurse and ask her if I could please go to the bathroom because I was dying. So she gives me permission like it was nothing and of course chill Argentina hospital doesn’t give me instructions or anything and just hands me my IV bag and is all chill like yeah, just go and you will be fine. NOT! I was so awkward about having this needle in my arm and carrying around this bag of liquid but I didn’t know what else to do - when you have to go you have to go! So I got in the bathroom and locked the door and as I sat down I felt all tingly in my arm first off and then I looked down and my whole IV cord was all red and just blood...I looked at it and panicked and yelled to hermana Masters and asked her if it was normal and she said, “I think so. I ignored it but as I sat there all of a sudden I couldn’t feel MY WHOLE body and I started to black out and I FLIPPED! I started having a panic attack and yelling to hermana Masters ¨oh my gosh I cant see! I can’t see! Help me!!!¨ She sounded so nervous but trying to be calm at the same time and just kept yelling at me ¨open the door open the door!!!¨ I couldn’t move or walk or see or anything, so I started to freak out more and started to cry SO hard and just prayed I would be able to find and get the door open because I could only imagine if I fainted in their alone with the door locked! I prayed and slowly shuffled my feet around and just moved around my hands trying to get the door open. After many prayers from both sides of that locked door I got it open - I have no idea how I swear it was angels - and I just fell into hermana Masters arms like still freaking out and couldn’t see or feel anything. They took me back to the bed and the doctor came running over and saw that all my blood had gone into the tube and hooked it all back up. I was just so happy and relieved to make it out and then when the doctor found out I hadn’t eaten all day she yelled at my comp and told her to go buy me something. I got something in my stomach and calmed down and the other hermanas came to the hospital to comfort me and I felt better. Uhhh - it was the most intense and scary thing that has ever happened to me!

So pretty much the rest of the week I was in bed and just drinking A TON of water and gatorade and taking pills and sleeping alot. I hate being sick - it seriously is so depressing just sitting around and not being able to do anything, but that is what I get. I need to take better care of my health..I learned my lesson.

The good news was that Hermana Camp 2 was not completely a bust because they ended up teaching and putting a fecha with this guy and he is progressing and really excited. So I am glad we helped in some way. On our side it definitely ruined our week because we didn’t get to teach or pass for anyone and we had NO ONE IN CHURCH Sunday - there was only 20 people! It was pouring rain so that didn’t help at all but it was a huge bummer. I did get a blessing from some members and I am feeling A LOT better so that is good! We are having a zone get together today and making asado and watching movies in our chapel so I think that will be fun and then hopefully we can go out and start a whole new fresh week and work hard.

Something that has really helped me during this hard and sad and sick week in the mission is the scriptures. It was so hard to just lay in bed and be inside all day and I just felt so bad for people that are constantly sick and cant move or go anywhere. It is seriously terrible! Any time I stepped outside I just took in the air and looked around at the nature and the sun and birds and was just so grateful for God’s creations and the earth. it is seriously such a blessing to have it all around us and to enjoy it daily!

But I truly do love the scriptures so much and there is seriously so much we can learn from them and most of all just feel a deep and profound love from God that he has for us. I love the scripture in 1 Nephi 15:24-25...

24 And I said unto them that it was the aword of God; and whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would bhold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the ctemptations and the fiery ddarts of the eadversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction.

25 Wherefore, I, Nephi, did exhort them to give aheed unto the word of the Lord; yea, I did exhort them with all the energies of my soul, and with all the bfaculty which I possessed, that they would give heed to the word of God and remember to keep his commandments always in all things.

I know with all of my heart that the scriptures are given to us for our benefit to bless and help us during hard times so we can learn and grow. During this past week I have never felt so down but every time I would open up the scriptures and feast upon its profound words, I would feel the love of God so powerfully all around me and I would know that he cared for me and was there to comfort and help me. It’s like the scripture in 1 Nephi 11:22-23...

22 And I answered him, saying: Yea, it is the love of God, which sheds itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things.

23 And he spake unto me, saying: Yea, and the most ajoyous to the soul.

Through searching and studying the scriptures this week I have found that most joyous feeling to the soul and embraced the love that God has for me. I promise and testify to each of you that if you are sick, going through a rough time, feel alone, or troubled, you can open up your scriptures and learn from their holy pages and feel of that most desirous feeling that god has to offer you. Even if it is a page a day, it will bless your life and feel those dark times with heavens light and love. As much as the mission has its extreme highs and dark and very low lows, I am so grateful for the things I am learning for my life and I feel blessed to have the opportunity to share it with others. I love the mission and love every experience I have been through because each one has come to me for a specific reason to help me grow and learn. I love you all and I cant thank you enough for your prayers. I can feel them daily! Hope you have a good week!

Love, Hermana Pond

Thursday, November 17, 2011

November 7th, 2011

Adventures in La Falda!

Hello! So it’s been a good few days – haha - since we have had a short week with all the weird changes and such.

-Chick fight…OH MY GOSH. So one night we were walking home from an appointment with a family and we were kind of in a sketchy neighborhood and as we were like hiking up this hill we see these four like 14 year old girls and they are on the floor like killing each other! They were screaming and cursing, pulling out each others hair, and scratching each others faces. We freaked out and didn’t know if we should help or just walk away but this older guy saw and tried splitting them up. As we walked higher up the hill we heard someone saying that it was Brenda from down the street that started the whole thing…our investigator! I about died. Lets just say we still haven’t been able to pass for her house. I am little nervous to upset her.

-Sandals…not such a good idea after all - so we were walking out after lunch to go out and teach people and I was just super excited and had tons of energy, just ready to teach! We only get like a few feet from out apartment and somehow I was like distracted pointing at something for my comp to look and I tripped way hard not thinking anything of it because I am just clumsy and awk. We keep walking and all of the sudden my comp looks down and she’s like oh my GOSH you’re dying – haha - and I look down and there is blood everywhere and I had broken open the front of my toe. I just looked down at it and was like oh it didn’t hurt that bad….so I am like hobbling back the apt with a bloody foot and this toothless homeless Indian looking guy who is always on the corner says ¨mamita que te pasa…¨ I just throw up my poor blood foot and tell him I am a wreck and dying pretty much…..haha - it was great. We got home and argentine bandaged it up - wrapped scotch tape around my big toe-and we headed out to preach. My toe still hurts…

-We were in another town this week and went into a tourist office to get a map so we could find our way around. She was súper nice and was explaining everything so well, and was super helpful. As we sat there and chatted with her I just got this feeling to give her something to read about the church and right when I bent down to my bag to pull something out she asked us who we were and what we did! We were in her office for like an hour telling her about the gospel and testifying of its truth. She seemed super interested and said she would call us and also invite other people that would seem to have interest! She is super cute and young and her name is Maggie, so we are just waiting for her to call us so we can have an appointment with her!
-A member called us this week and was like - hey hermanas, I got a reference for you! She said she was talking to her neighbor - who is an older lady that lives with her handicapped daughter - and asked why she was always so happy - MEMBER MISSIONARY WORK! WHOOO! And so she taught a little about the gospel and said she would come over with the missionaries the next day and teach them. Legit! So we went and they loved it and the spirit was SO strong and they have a ton of interest!!!! We set a baptism date for the end of this month and they both came to church Sunday but the only problem is both don’t walk very well at ALL -so its a lot of work to get them to church but we have faith and the members said they will help out a lot. Their names are Ofelia and Christina so pray for them - they are super special and ready for the blessings of the gospel!

-The zone leaders - who I idolize and worship - I am not kidding they are the most intense and best missionaries EVER - came and did a splash in our area to help us find new people to teach and work with the people we are teaching right now. We had plans for all of us to go to a different town but for some reason Elder Snack felt we should stay in La Falda and work with some people here. We were a little down about it because all the people we were working with in La Falda were not progressing that much, but we trusted in the leaders and went around passing for all the people together. We got to this lady’s house – Lorena - and I thought nothing of it. It is usually really loud because she has 2 kids and she is always distracted but we all sat down and at first it was just her dad. We chatted with him but once she showed up the elders just sat her down and drilled her!!! (In a good way), but they taught her the most amazing lesson I have ever been in. The spirit was SO intense and I just kept looking at her and thinking – ahhh - I hope she is feeling this! They tried talking to her about baptism and she rejected. They taught more doctrine out of the Book of Mormon and shared their testimonies. She pondered on the things they said and as they asked if she could imagine what it would be like to experience never ending happiness as a family - she got all quiet and told us because of her experiences - had a drinker abusive husband and left him and is struggling with 2 kids alone financially - she doesn’t think she knows what true happiness is. We promised and testified to her the blessings and happiness of the gospel and the spirit was just piercing all of us and we were all way emotional and then my comp committed her to be baptized! It was probably one of my favorite lessons in my missión. With both us and the elders and such a prepared investigator who was just in the moment of really needing all this for her life and for her kids and accepted it! There was tons of opposition but with the help and strength of the lord through our fasts and prayers she came to church on Sunday for all three hours! I couldn’t believe how much the Lord has been blessing us this week and it just really gave me the testimony that with faith - ANYTHING is possible.

Also this new couple moved into the ward this week and the girl is a member but the guy is not and he wants to get baptized! He pretty much is already learning a lot and strengthening his testimony and in the principles of the gospel class he gave his cool story and journey to the true church. I was giving the class on faith and as all these investigators were there I just bore my testimony of my conversión with all my heart and I just knew, in that moment looking at all them and their desire and faith to find the truth and happiness, that this is the true gospel of Jesus Christ, and through obeying and living its principles we can be happy. It was such a blessing. It was such a good week.

Although it was a week of pure miracles and joy there was also times of a lot of opposition and trials of my faith personally. As we were fasting the night before Sunday we had just had a really hard day and no one was home and we were completely unsure of who was going to be at church the next day and had a ton of pressure from leaders and the missión to get investigators in church. I did doubt a lot. I did struggle internally and at one point of the night I was just so overwhelmed, with the missión, the church, responsibility, work, sacrifice, and faith. I felt like I personally couldn’t do it and handle it anymore. I felt annoyed and frustrated with people’s agency and opposition and thinking how unfair a lot of things were. Our last appointment with this man at the end of the night during our fast I was so tired and over it and I kind of tuned out to what the guy was saying. As I tuned in for a second, I realized that he was really thanking us for our dedication and Heart to the work we were doing and he said ¨someone really needs to not just be convinced to do the things you are both doing but to really be CONVERTED.¨
As we got home at night and I collapsed into bed thinking about all the stress that was above our heads, the work and worry we had to deal with in the morning, and the disappointment we might have to face after a week of true dedication I just wanted to quit. I wondered why I do it all and why I keep going each day. I wondered if it was all worth it and as I laid there in the dark just super restless and weak, I just kept going back to that comment from the shirtless old man minutes before that although had no interest in what we had to share with him could comment and tell us that he KNEW that we were not just convinced of what we did but TRULY CONVERTED. What does it mean to be truly converted and why is it important not just in the missión but as members of this church to be truly converted…

This week I studied a talk written by my companion’s grandfather that he wrote when he was a missión president. He talked about the importance of conversion, and he shares the story of Peter the apostle of Christ. After many experiences of witnessing, testifying, receiving, preaching, teaching, and bearing all things with Christ in his ministry, Peter still heard the words from Christ himself after these experiences that ¨when thou are converted, strengthen they brethren¨ (Luke 22:22).

Is conversión then more than just having a testimony of Christ and not just promising the Lord to do something for him, but it is much more. True conversión really is what it talks about in Alma chapter 5, that ¨mighty change of heart¨ and in Mosiah 3 verse 19 how we must yield to the enticings of the holy spirit and put off the natural man and submit to the will of God forever. After letting down the Lord and rejecting him three times before his death, Peter had let down the Lord, feeling inadequate to do his work or will again. He had felt that he had tried his very best and tried to serve the Lord but must have lacked something. After deciding to go back to his old life and ¨go fishing¨(John 21:3), it must have felt good to take that break and relieve that burden of responsibility. As Christ called to them and Peter jumped in the water to run to the Lord and after asking him three times if he loved him, Peter, precious faithful and faithless peter who had let the Lord down, but did love him with all his heart and did want to prove his love to him, with tears in his eyes and a shaky voice declared ¨Lord thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.¨ (John 21:17). And in this precious moment of forgiveness and love and actual declaration to the dedication and willingness of Peter to his Lord to literally give up anything and do anything for the Lord, the Lord was able to then see this true change of heart in Peter and invite him to ¨feed his sheep¨ and was ready to ¨strengthen his brethren.¨

What was this difference in Peter? After this statement peter never failed his master again and went out and did wonders for the church was a powerful leader of the church and teaching and testifying of the gospel bringing many souls to the fold of the good shepherd.

There are three key things we can learn from this story of Peter and his conversión. As disciples of Jesús Christ and his church he has asked us personally to do the same. When we are truly converted we must go out and feed his sheep and strengthen his brethren. But how do we show to the Lord we are willing and how do we know that we are truly converted?
*First is commitment - we must ask ourselves personally if we have been converted and made the commitment - if we truly have experienced this mighty change in our hearts and we are willing to yield to the spirit and submit to the will of God whatever the personal cost and earthly sacrifice is required of us - Scriptures-Mosiah 3:19, 27:28, Alma 5:7
*Second is sacrifice - we need to literally imagine if Christ was with us and he was pointing to something or he had something of the world in his hands and he asked us ¨love me more than these.¨ (John 21:15) what are those things that hold us back and keep us from doing his work as he would do it? Scriptures- Luke 9:62, Matt 19:16-22, D & C 59:8
*Third is covenant or promise - what of the sacred covenants we have to obey his commandments to sacrifice for the building up of his church, to love and serve him by loving and serving others, and to consecrate our lives FULLY to him and his work and where have I failed or fallen short and what is required of me now…? Mosiah 18:8-10, d and c 20:37, 77, 79
When we fully understand our duties in the church and we come to comprehend the importance of full conversión to have that strong and unmovable testimony and to LIVE for the Lord and do everything for him regardless of what happens - that is when miracles happen and that is when we can be useful tools in the Lord’s precious work and help build up his kingdom with our own converting power. I testify to you all, that like Peter, we must be completely and fully converted to Christ to do miracles in his church. It takes a lot more that just saying we would give anything for the Lord but when the hard times, like Peter fall short and end up rejecting the Lord. We are all very imperfect in this work and gospel but I know that Christ is merciful and he will invite us to the shore, put his hand on our shoulders with all his love and concern, and AGAIN invite us to go feed his sheep and strengthen his brethren.

This work is sometimes disappointing and it has its hard times but I know that if we are PURELY CONVERTED to Christ Jesús and we have had that change of heart and committed our lives to serving him until the end, even when it gets hard and if we just go a little more, we will see and experience the blessings. We can all get offended or upset with others or even un ourselves but in this church, for that reason, we must stay strong and always keep going because the Lord is counting on us and he needs us to keep this work pressing forward. I invite each of you to ¨taste of this love of God…which causes such exceedingly great joy in our souls¨ (mosiah 4:11), ¨Experiment upon my words¨ (alma 32:27), and ¨If you have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel it now?¨ I promise as Alma does that ¨the good shepherd doth call after YOU¨ (alma 5:60) and once you are TRULY CONVERTED, strengthen your brothers and your sisters. I love this gospel and although times can we difficult I am grateful for a loving and understanding Savior who has given me such a strong and never ending testimony of his life and truth and light to continue in the work and feed his lost sheep. Hope you all have a good week!!

Love Hermana Pond

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hello America...

I don’t have much time so I am going to give you all a quick over view of what has gone down in ¨the skirt¨ LA FALDA this week!

- News from Arroyito- CARMEN my favorite convert ever just got called to be relief society president....YAY! she is going to do awesome!

-Cat lady - we were contacting people in the streets and knocking doors and we pass this one house and visibly there were over 20 cats just in the front of the house...I like screamed - haha - I was so excited! We found out its a really old lady and she’s super protective of her cats so we got in trouble for even like looking at them - haha - I wanted to take pics but they wouldn’t let me...it was my dream I loved it...I am the creepy cat lady! We later found out she has over 60...

-Officially Argentine - I have now lived in Argentina for over a year....whoooo! I am old. I still get sad though when people ask me where I am from when I begin to talk - haha – my freaking gringa accent holds me back from becoming the ethnic true raw argentine I want...and my blonde roots are coming in so its a little obvious.

-Blanca y Nieve - so we found Nemecio - homeless guy - in the streets again this week and taught him and invited him to church. Like usual he is carrying his piece of foam bed around and has his dog Blanca y Nieve following him around. We took pics and bonded and he thanked us for being his friend. He is a gem.

-We taught this 16 year old kid this week that just got in the scariest motor cycling accident ever. When we found him he was outside on his porch and just looked so sad and freaked out. He had a head on crash with a car and literally almost lost his life. He is out for like 6 months and cant walk and has this huge metal bar going down his leg to hold his bones in place. It was so hard looking into this lost and scared face of a teenage kid who barely almost lost his life and had no idea why it had to happen to him. We gave him the plan of salvation and promised him it would give him comfort and purpose. I have been praying for him all week. His name is Juliano.

-Like usual we find the most odd people to teach. Normally kids running in the streets, homeless, or crippled people because they are all looking for help and love and ¨have time¨ to listen. That is why it is so important for members to work with the missionaries in the ward because they can help them find people to teach. This guy we found was homeless, crippled, and a little drunk and very alone. We got chatting with him and as I looked at this precious old man I just knew that Christ loved him. He smelled so bad, had really messed up burnt hands, and was cross eyed but as we spoke to him you could feel the sincerity of his heart and the humility he had in life. He meant no harm and truly just wanted to be happy. He smiled a lot and after teaching him a little we gave him a little pass along card with a picture of Jesus on it and he held it close to his heart and said he is going to keep it with him forever. I thought about how in society it would be so normal to look upon this man and judge, hate, discriminate, abandon, or ignore and I just felt so blessed to find him in that moment, feel of the love that God had from him, and testify to him of that love and to not let anyone let him forget it. I knew if Christ were with us in that very moment he would be moved with compassion like it states in the scriptures and immediately heal this mans infirmities because he truly did have so much faith and hope. This is one of the reasons I love the mission - the tender mercies we experience each day in the mission.

-We are teaching this little girl named Milagros and she has grandparents that are inactive members and she is SO epic. She wants to get baptized so bad and every time we come over she is so ready to pray and tell us about what she studied. She went to church on Sunday and LOVED IT! She has a date for the 12th of November so we are crossing out fingers. Her little sister is 4 and SO cute and we are best friends. One night we were walking to her house and she looked out the car window and with these big eyes she mouthed with so much excitement...¨Jeni!!!¨ haha - She cant say Hermana Pond so I told her my name was Jami and she says Yeni - its SO cute. We love their family and work with them every other day.

-Argentine ice cream man - one day we are walking to our apartment for lunch and we see this really small funny looking man and he is carrying this huge white box over his shoulder and we wondered what he was doing. After a few minutes we just hear him like screaming so much - and we were so confused as to what was going on, and finally we figured out he was yelling HELADOOOOOO....no cool van with pretty pictures of all different ice creams to buy and pretty music filling the neighborhoods but a argentine midget man pacing so intensely up the streets screaming at the top of his lungs HELADO....love Argentina.

-Argentine children gone wild - so we are teaching this girl Gisel and she has a son that is 4 and his name is Fernando. Every time we are at their house he is like running around crazy but this week we passed and he was literally out of control. He had a hammer and was like going around shirtless just hitting everything with this hammer and somehow got coal all over his face so he looked like some Indian or warrior. For some reason he got mad at his mom and so he went in the house and one by one he was coming out and throwing different things at all of us. It started out little but then it turned into chairs and boxes of his toys and like a stove iron sitch, and his mom was just like laughing and it was nuts. He finally comes out with like the heaviest thing and as he is doing all this he is like screaming PAPEEE! and has tears running down his face making the war paint like run everywhere and then he comes super close to his mom and screams at the top of his lungs and is like threatening her with a chair above his head about to chuck it at her. I was so amused - I just sat there like struck dumb –haha- because I couldn’t believe what was going down - psycho indio child, gone crazy, and the mom is just sitting there laughing. The kid got over it and just ended up climbing on the roof and chucking things off it but lucky this time it wasn’t at us……this whole thing made me terrified to be a mother some day!

Service - one night its late and we are walking home and we pass this old lady in the street and just with the biggest smile on my face I say hi to her and she is so struck by it she like stops and asks how she knows me – haha - we explained to her we are missionaries and we like to say hi to everyone and offered her help with her bags. We ended up like listening to her life story and carrying the heaviest bags for miles – haha - it was funny because she was just going and going and my comp and I just laughed because it seriously felt like bricks were in her bags and i could barely make it up the hill. She was cute. Love service.

-One of my favorite inactives that we are working with is named Sonia, and we had a family home evening with her and her 4 cute girls. Her husband is not a member and so he wasn’t really interested in listening and when we invited him over he like awkwardly pretended he didn’t hear- haha- shoot. But we had a really good lesson about the story of the tree of life and Sonia really liked it and I feel like it really helped her because on Sunday we saw her and all of her girls show up to church with bright faces after like months not going. She is so cute and we definitely want to work with them more.

I read a talk by Eyring this week that I really enjoyed. It talks about spiritual preparedness and how we must always make the right choices before the hard times come. I like the part when he said...

¨However much faith to obey god we now have, we will need to strengthen it continually and keep it refreshed constantly. We can do that by deciding now to be more quick to obey and more determined to endure. Learning to start early and to be steady are the keys to spiritual preparation. Procrastination and inconsistency are its mortal enemies.¨

¨A loving Heavenly Father and his beloved son have given us all the help they can to pass the test of life set before us. But we must decide to obey and then do it. We build the faith to pass the tests of obedience over time and through our daily choices. We can decide now to do quickly whatever God asks of us. We can decide to be steady in the small tests of obedience which build the faith to carry us through the great tests, which will surely come.¨

It is so important to make the choice today to follow God and be obedient to the things he has given us so we can increase our faith and enjoy blessings and so when those tough times come we are spiritually firm and ready to always choose God and his side, we can never give up and always press forward and choose to follow God. He is the only one that can help us and it is through simple obedience to his laws and commandments that make us stronger and prepare us always for the tests and trials of life. We can never give up. We must always go forward and work on our faith and confidence in him daily. Using our agency correctly is so key. We have so much responsibility to do good and we can with the help of God. Remember who you are - a child of God - trust in the direction he has given you - go forward-and you will make it. Always choose the right. Be strong enough to do so. Stand up for what you believe in. Don’t fear and keep the faith. You have a ton of help and support. Don’t ever doubt. I love the mission and love being a missionary. Time goes by fast…..in life and in the mission. Let us enjoy every experience we have. Cherish it all. Learn and grow. Take it in. Embrace life. LOVE YOU ALL!

Love Hermana Pond