Monday, April 27, 2015

Tender Mercies of the Lord

This week has been full of lots of experiences, some good, some not so good, but from all of them I have been able to learn a lot about my purpose as a missionary and how I can listen to, recognize, and follow the guidance of the Spirit.

To start off, we found 2 atheists this week, which is really weird, because the majority of the people in Paraguay claim to be Catholic.  In my personal opinion, there is no such thing as a real atheist, because as we began to talk to them, we found one that believes in Satan, which is ridiculous because if Satan exists, so does God, and the other one was an inactive that was born in the church, but after her father commited suicide, she stopped believing in a loving God, which is reasonable, and we had a wonderful discussion about the tender mercies of the Lord, and how, every day, there is something, however small, that the Lord has given us.  Her husband isn't a member, and we look forward to working with him in the future.

We focused a lot more on following up on investigators and street contacts this week, and it paid off. We found Juana, a lady who lives in the chuchiest (fanciest) house that I have ever set foot in here in Paraguay.  I was totally out of my element:)  We talked about how faith is so important and how, through the gospel of Jesus Christ, we can become worthy to be in His presence again and be an eternal family.  Hermana Francani did the baptismal invitation,  I was so proud of her:)

Another miracle was that we found Paula again.  She was the lady who asked what she needed to do to be baptized, and set her own baptismal date, and then we never found her again.  We passed by late last night and found her:)  We shared a quick message on hope through the atonement. We will have a lesson with a recent convert who was a drunk before she was baptized on Wednesday, so that she knows that there is still hope for her son, who is trying to get rid of his drug addiction.

We were also able to meet with a family that was going to be baptized almost two years ago, but because of something that happened with the bishop and some other members, they decided not to, and since I arrived here in Palma Loma, we have been trying to meet with them, and finally they let us in on Friday.

Something interesting about all of these little miracles was that they all took place after a REALLY long day, and most of the time during the day is the hardest time.  I have really seen this week that when we work hard throughout the day, and when we have enough faith, Heavenly Father will give us blessings.  We talked with all of these people when we could have done something else that maybe wasn't as wise of a use of time, but we have seen the tender mercies of the Lord, like it says in 1 Nefi 20, that the Lord will shed His tender mercies on all of the people who have the faith sufficient to put in Him.

I know that the Lord loves us, and I know that He wants us to be able to achieve our full, divine potential.  I know that it is hard, and sometimes, it can be the last thing we want to do, but it is in these moments when we have to exercise our faith in Him and His ability to perform miracles.  I love you all so much, and hope you have a good week!

Hermana Farish

My "Hija", Hermana Francani

Monday, April 20, 2015

Death By Flood

This week was interesting.  We had a lot of things that kind of messed up our normal proselyting time, but whatever.

Hermana Francani experienced her first torrential storm in Paraguay, and she did great.  One thing that I have never experienced was when we were eating lunch with a menos (less) activo, and it began to rain even harder.  This member happens to live next to a river, which is just great, because as we were eating, I felt something on my foot and turns out the water was rising in the house.  The family didn't even do anything because apparently it always  happens and there isn't anything they can do, so they just wait and hope that the water doesn't rise too high.  Brings a whole new meaning to a house flood. We left REALLY fast, because the water was rising and it was already to our knees. Turns out there was like 3 feet of water in this member's house by the time the water stopped rising.

Training is really fun, and I have honestly felt the enabling power of the Atonement in my life. Thank you for your prayers and for all of the support that I have received in the last 8 months.  My favorite moment of the week is when we can take the sacrament.  Literally, it is another baptism, another opportunity to clean our spirits and start over.

One miracle that took place this week was with a recent convert, Antonia.  She has one year as a member, and to be honest, with Hermana Betancourth we were struggling hard core with her. Sometimes she went to church, sometimes not, and most of the time, she lied to us a lot, making up a lot of excuses.  BUT.  We had a lesson with her yesterday, and we planned on picking up reading where she left off in the Book of Mormon, and turns out, she was reading in 2nd Nephi 31, which is a wonderful chapter where Nefi talks about sincere repentance and baptism.  We read verse 13, which says:

13 Por tanto, amados hermanos míos, sé que si seguís al Hijo con íntegro propósito de corazón, sin acción hipócrita y sin engaño ante Dios, sino con verdadera intención, arrepintiéndoos de vuestros pecados, testificando al Padre que estáis dispuestos a tomar sobre vosotros el nombre de Cristo por medio del bautismo, sí, siguiendo a vuestro Señor y Salvador y descendiendo al agua, según su palabra, he aquí, entonces recibiréis el Espíritu Santo; sí, entonces viene el bautismo de fuego y del Espíritu Santo; y entonces podéis hablar con lengua de ángeles y prorrumpir en alabanzas al Santo de Israel.

After we read this, she just began to cry, and looked at us and apologized for always lying and not going to church.  She really felt it (FINALLY) and we were able to talk about some of her doubts and help her realize that everything was going to be okay and that she could start over.  The atonement is wonderful, FYI.

And yes, I am happy.  I am happy when we work hard and I fall into bed thinking it is the most heavenly thing in the world.  Interesting how that works, right?  At first, I was so incredibly stressed, but...I took the sacrament and all is well now.  For the first time in my life, I can literally feel the strength of the Lord in me.  I can feel that when I am working, He is giving me the strength to know what to say, how to respond to the doubts and preguntas (questions).  Especially con mi hija (with my greenie). (hardcore spanglish, not even going to try).  Enserio, when I talk with her and she has a problem or a question or doesn't understand something, I can feel the spirit with me, helping me to know what to say so that she can feel better.  I have never relied on the Spirit so much in my life.  I have to say, it is a wonderful feeling.

Anyway, everything is really good, and I am loving the learning, making mistakes, and learning from them.  I love you all so much and I hope that everything is going well at home!

Hermana Farish

Ummm...awkward, I just realized the scripture was in Spanish, Here it is in English!  SORRY!!

13 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism—yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel.

Monday, April 13, 2015

I Received My "Baby"

Sorry about last week everyone!  We only had half of the normal time so I wasn't able to respond to anyone.  We ran to the hospital in Asuncion to see a recent convert. Sorry about that! mission has taken a rather large turn for the...crazy weird.  We had transfers this Tuesday, and I was told that I was going to train.  Aaaannnndddd....I almost died of a heart attack.  But I am good now.  I received my "baby" on Wednesday, Hermana Francani from Bahia Blanca, Argentina. She is AWESOME.  She is thirty years old, and one year away from graduating from law school...needless to say, I was really, really intimidated.  But she is so amazing, and it has been so interesting to me to look at her, and see where I came from.  She came from a ward that has had a lot of the same problems as Palma Loma, and thus we see that President McMullin is inspired.

We were able to have another lesson with a family that we found last week, Daniel, his sister, and his three sons.  They are SUCH good people, and we hope that we can help them to progress and to recognize the importance of the gospel in their lives and the eternal perspective that it gives to them.

I was reading in Alma 1 this morning, and it was talking about all of the tribulations that happened with the people of Alma y Limhi, and then later with all of the persecutions in Zarahemla.  One verse really hit me, and I love the promises that it gives to the faithful who patiently wait out and endure well their afflictions:

      25 Now this was a great trial to those that did stand fast in the faith; nevertheless, they were                 steadfast and immovable in keeping the commandments of God, and they bore with patience the         persecution which was heaped upon them.

They had patience, and they understood that even though they received trials, their Heavenly Father still loved them and was with them every step of the way.  They PUT THEIR CONFIDENCE IN HIM.  Mosiah 29 and Mosiah 7:33 also talk a lot about that.  With this whole training thing, and it is the first time as senior companion, I was really overwhelmed.  But when I just put it in the Lord's hands, He helped me to have confidence, and to remember all that I have seen, learned, and experienced, so that I can help this sister learn how to stand on her own two feet as a missionary.  I love that feeling.

UM...not really much else happened, apart from...wait for it....THE BISHOP'S WIFE CAME TO CHURCH!!! WOOOO!!!!  But really, we were so happy to see her finally come to church and take the sacrament for the first time in who knows how long.

Yah, life is great, I hope that everyone back home is doing fine.  From reading your letters, it sounds like everyone is so incredibly busy.  I hope you can always find time for the Lord and for the things that should be the most important:)  I love you!

Hermana Farish

My "Baby", Hermana Francani

Monday, April 6, 2015

Oh. My. Chipa. (AND Marriage)

First off, I saw Josh's email in my inbox and the first line said, DEAR ELDER FARISH...I just about had a heart attack.

Secondly, So....we almost died of a chipa overdose.  Seriously.  IT WAS BAD.

Here in Paraguay, something that is REALLY popular Easter week is chipa.  Chipa is a type of bread that is kind of hard on the outside, but on the inside, when it is warm, it is SOOO good, and the inside is soft and salty.  I loved it before this week...haha, not really. For Paraguay, Passover week is the week to make chipa, and almost everyone we talked to gave us chipa.  We were DYING by the end of the day!  Something we laughed about afterwards was when we emptied out our backpacks at the end of the day, and all day we had been sneaking chipa in because seriously, we couldn't eat it all. We had a MOUNTAIN.

And, general conference was just AMAZING. The first day, it was slightly awkward sitting in a room full of missionaries listening to EVERY SINGLE PERSON talk about marriage and family.  HAHA, but really, it was so nice to listen to the general authorities, and listen to the comfort and inspired counsel that they have for us. I loved the talk by President Uchtdorf, that talked about the grace of Christ, and how we will receive while we are doing all we can do, not BECAUSE of all we can do. Also, I loved something that I am sure the entire Mormon population loved as well, when Linda K. Burton said, (in Spanish, I don't know in English) "Tu me levas, yo te levo, y ascenderemos juntos"...something along the lines of "I lift you, you lift me, and we will ascend together."  How cool is that?  We have to help each other always, especially in relationships like mission companions, marriages, and families in general.  We can't be selfish...dangit.

Saturday night, we found a new family!  We had contacted the dad during the week, and we had planned to go to their house Saturday, and we almost didn't find it.  When we found it, at like 8:30 at night, he saw us, called out my companion's last name, and we had a wonderful lesson with him, his three sons, sister, and teen nephew.  We talked about the plan of salvation, and Daniel (the dad), would like to establish a relationship with God, with him and his sons.  We were just like...hey! We can help you with that!  We had finished our fast as a district on Saturday, and we had fasted to find a family!  And what do you know, Heavenly Father found us one:)

Anyways, I hope you have a wonderful week, and I hope you are all doing well!

Hermana Farish

Hermana Betancourth and Hermana Farish