April 29, 2013


My dearest friends and family-
Perhaps I should begin this email by reminding you that it is not April Fools Day.
It has been quite the week! We´ll just start from the beginning- Monday after our computer time. We had already been shopping, already visited the office, already discussed how expensive peanut butter is here. I almost bought some that week, but talked myself out of it. Hermana Gonzalez laughed at me, knowing how much I love peanut butter but also how much I don´t really like to spend money. (You'd be proud, Dad. She used to tease me about always using all of the tissue, or not wanting to spend money on little things.)  Hna Gonzalez and I returned to the house with plenty of time leftover. I began making the Manjar Bars, (which were a huge success!! The district and everyone loved them, they were super easy to make, and it made quite a few. I´m sure we´ll make them again soon.) and Hermana Gonzalez and I were going to color her hair. At about this time, we got a call from the Assistants. We glanced at each other curiously, then answered the phone in alta voz. (speaker phone). Before we knew it, they were telling us that there was an emergency cambio, and Hermana Gonzalez was off to ChiajuanSito (I have no idea how that is actually spelled.) Not only that, but "Hermana Oldroyd va a entrenar." Let me translate that for you- Hermana Oldroyd is going to train. My dear people, I am a trainer. For real this time. We were both in shock- we had to ask them several times if this was a joke, but they assured us several times that it was very real.
That night was kind of a blur. We visited one or two families so that Hna Gonzalez could say goodbye, then we organized and packed and did all possible that night to get ready for the next day. We were both trying to process the new information- she was about to leave on yet another emergency cambio (when I came, it was the middle of a cambio like this) and I was about to train after 6 weeks in the field. The next morning during companionship study, we presented each other with our little parting tokens- I'd written her a letter the night before while she was showering, and she had also written me a little card and wrapped up a little package for me. I opened the packed and tears came to my eyes. It was a jar of peanut butter- it was a Christmas present to her from one of her American companions, and she´d mentioned before that she´d been saving it. Just earlier that day, we´d made plans to open it together and share it, and now she was giving it to me as a goodbye gift. We cried together, and she told me that these weeks in Lirquen have been the best of her mission. Before we knew it, the APs were picking us up (something that they usually don't do, apparently.) 

We dropped off Hermana Gonzalez in her new area, which actually isn't that far from Concepcion. We´d already had our emotional goodbye, but it was still hard to believe that after all our time together and all that we´d learned about each other, our companionship was over. On the other hand, part of knew, and knows, that this was happening for a reason. I may only have six (now seven)  weeks here in Chile, but for some reason the Lord saw fit to make this change. I feel confident with Lirquen, and the ward honestly couldn't be more fabulous. They are so supportive and there are many members here that are willing to help us in the work. The way I see it, this opportunity to train is an opportunity to put into practice all my dreams in respect to missionary work. Any goal or idea or anything, now is the time to put it into practice! With the support of my companion, of course.
Ahhh yes. My companion! We picked her up midday in the office in Concepcion, and of course, she was quite tired after her flights. Her name is Hermana Hannah Peterson (funny story, we have another Hannah Peterson in our zone.), and she is from Mesa, Arizona. (Grandma- I already asked her if she knows any Sherwoods. Any other family names down there?) She entered the MTC the same day I did, and has been in the Provo MTC for the last two months, two weeks longer than originally expected. This was due to a lovely foot fracture, so here she is in the middle of a cambio. She took two years of Spanish in high school and has her MTC experience. I think I appreciate a little more now the full meaning of the compliments that I received initially here in Chile- the language is a bit of a struggle for her, but we´re working with it. I'm trying to find the balance between pushing her to speak in Spanish with me, and also helping her to understand things and not feel overwhelmed. We've talked about it and I think we´ll be just great to learn and progress together in the language. 

One thing I love about her already- we have almost exactly the same vision for what a missionary can and should be. We plan to be, and have been, exactly obedient and as possible, and we both have high goals for our time together. Tuesday we worked hard, and then Wednesday and Thursday just happened to be a special New Missionary training sessions in Concepcion. 

Can you say "perfect timing"? I was so grateful for that. We went together with Hermana Mendoza to that training, and I learned so much and felt so inspired. It was also super fun to see Hermana Call and Holland, and Elder Adamson at the conference. We trained and learned so much at those conferences, then went back to the house at about 4 to start proselyting again. To add another fun detail into the mix, we also had two extra sisters staying in our house. They proselyted with us on Wednesday night then went home on Thursday. (home, back to their zones... same thing) I saw a mini-miracle this week in the midst  of all this craziness, my own little "feeding the five thousand" experience. With a new missionary that hadn't had time to shop for food, two visiting missionaries that didn't bring anything but clothes, and two other missionaries that basically buy cookies by the day to survive, the food that I´d purchased on Monday somehow lasted all of us until today. I honestly do not know how that turned out, but we all ate and I even got to enjoy some of my own cookies! 

Friday, we found a family. One of our huge emphasis here in the mission is finding and baptizing families, and on Friday, we were following our plans and visiting some old names. When we can´t find names, we general knock all the doors immediately around that name, a trick called "Do the U". Mercedes, a woman of about 55 years, answered the door and immediately let us in. She was there with her husband, Luis, and their adult age son, Victor, and we began to teach. They agreed to come to church, and as we left, I could hardly believe it! 
I was so happy. Sunday, we knocked on their door to pick them up, and Luis answered the door. Mercedes had been called into work last minute and Victor was out visiting, and he didn´t feel comfortable coming alone. I felt quite the weight as we walked into church alone. I sat in sacrament meeting and thought really hard about this calling to be a trainer, about my faith, about my efforts as a missionary. I decided that I don´t want to wallow in my 'unsuccesses' (I know that isn´t really a word, but I like it anyway), but must choose to always look forward and strengthen my faith. Faith faith faith. This is the attribute that I've decided to study this week, and I prayed to the Lord to tell Him that I have faith that in proportion to my diligence and obedience, I know He will bless us with success in the mission field. 

The day before, we´d been lunching (also not a word) with the Elder´s quorum president, Alexys Moscoso and his wife. Just to illustrate how great our ward is, he basically sat us down and said Ì would like to have a Noche de Hogar in my house tommorrow night. We will invite the members and we will provide the food. Will you bring your investigators and a short spiritual message?` Why yes, we would love to!! Though luis and mercedes couldn´t come to church, they were able to come to this NDH, and they were super excited about it. Mom, you wouldn´ve loved it. We got together, did introductions, then had our spiritual message. We used the Mormon Message DVD that Dad sent, and got to hear several conversion stories and testimonies from the members. Then we played games. Games! All adults, and we played games like that straw game with the little candies, where you roll the dice while the other tries to grab as many candies as possible. After, we ate chips and cookies and juice, and I think the world may have been totally perfect.
My testimony and relationship with Heavenly Father is ever growing. I love you all and pray for you every day. I promise I´m doing my very best!! The gospel is so true.
Hermana Oldroyd

Erica wrote that they understand that if you practice speaking while holding a pen in your mouth that it helps with pronunciation

April 22, 2013

Week to week

My dearest family and friends-
I love you all so much! The weeks really fly, and I can hardly believe that another week has passed. Lots to say and so little time-

Two big realizations this week. One is about ´the commitment`. These are so key for missionaries. When we meet an investigator, we always leave with them some sort of commitment to read, pray, come to church, etc. If they keep these commitments, they progress in the gospel and move towards baptism (and we all know how strongly I feel about that!!). If they don´t, things get more complicated. If this happens, which it does often, we have to decide if it was a fault of ours to not explain something properly, to not bring the Spirit enough, not verify with them enough, etc. or if they´re just not interested in the gospel right now. This week we had several really good investigators that just didn´t keep their commitments, didn´t come to church, and came up with some really grand excuses for not meeting with us again.

I´m actually grateful for this, because I realized something important. There are only two people that I can count on to be committed- myself and the Lord. If I am absolutely obedient, absolutely dilligent, absolutely focused on the Spirit, I know that the Lord will guide me and bless me in this missionary work. If I want others to be blessed by the gospel, I need to start inward and these blessings will come naturally as a result of dedicated missionary service.

Also saw a little miracle this week, one that I´ve actually been seeing for a month and a half. Hermana Gonzalez has changed! Not her personality or anything specific, per se, and I don´t mean to say that she had any great need to change. As we were talking one morning this week, she was sharing her feelings with me and explaining that she feels a need to improve, to change something inside of her, to seek the Lord for help to be a better missionary. It came to me so strongly- she really loves and trusts me. She was NOT this open, this willing to confide and accept counsel from others when we first came together. She still has her personality quirks, and she still had a couple ups and downs this week, but she´s already mentioned discreetly that she hopes we don´t change in the next cambio and that our companionship is something different than she´s had before. I know that working next to an American is still hard for her, but she´s working through that as well (I say that it is hard because Chileans really love Americans, and sometimes we get comments from contacts, investigators, etc. about the contrast between us. This week it came from a set of Menos Activo twins that we visit- they´re super bubbly but not very careful with words, and they made some comments about how American missionaries are always so fabulous and all the rest are average.)

Also gave my first talk this week!  Felt the Spirit and the words just came. I was worried about filling the time, but I used the outline that I´d prepared and it was honestly amazing how calm I felt. So grateful for all my blessings!!

Mom, you asked about more day-to-day details. As for my cereal, of course my corn flakes are sugared! They´re the perfect balance between kid sugary cereal and too-healthy granola. I also eat a lot of fruit. Oh, and cookies! They have a cookie culture here- there are entire aisles in the Jumbo of packs and packs and sleeves and bags of different kinds of cookies, crackers, sweets, chocolates, etc. Also a big juice and soda culture here, but I drink water. You´d be proud of me, Mom!

The shower took a while to figure out- first you have to make sure that the electricity is turned on properly, (we have an electric shower head), then fix the shower head to the right setting. Turn on the water until the light blinks, then hold it right there! The water at this precise spot is nice and warm. So long as no one uses the mini water heater or the microwave, you´re set for a nice warm shower. Realistically, however, you´ll have several cold bursts before getting out. I had a couple cold showers before figuring all this out, but we´re all good now!

Laundry- the wife of the Bishop washes our clothes for us. We pay her 6 mil at the beginning of each month, which is the equivalent of... Oh man, I don´t even know. In my mind, I measure money in terms of bus routes and cookie packets. To take the bus from Lirquen to Penco, where we have district meetings, it costs 300 cien. A pack of cookies is about the same. A pack of instant milk is about 3 mil, and a bag of corn flakes is about 1800 cien. Getting better with my concept of money, but I can´t transfer it over exactly... Anyway. We pay her at the beginning of the month, and then we can take clothes over whenever we like. Usually once a week. She washes and folds, but we have a little iron and do that part ourselves. Want to guess how many times I´ve used it? Maybe twice...

District meetings. I love them! They´re so great, especially now that I know my district and zone so much better. We meet in the chapel in Valle Hermoso building, the area next to us. We take a bus each Tuesday and meet with the Zone in the chapel. Sometimes I play the piano, but we have a couple musical missionaries. Chat, ask everyone how their week went. Begin altogether as a zone with Elder Carter and a new elder leading. Split into zones and discuss our numbers of the week. To be perfectly honest, our numbers haven´t been very good, individually or as a district. This is our time to `rendir cuentas`- remember that phrase? We discuss ways we can improve, etc. Then we meet back together, and the Elders present a class for all of us. Setting goals, how to contact more efficiently, something like that. We´ll split into groups and do practices, then at the end we usually have food. At first it was unofficial, just the elders bringing candy bars or something, but then the Hermanas from Crav (Peterson, Frandsen, etc.) brought cinnamon rolls one week, and now it is tradition. I volunteered to do the treats for tomorrow! I came up with the brilliant idea to make `Manjar Bars`, or in other words, Rice Crispies made with corn flakes instead of rice crispies, and with a little extra flavoring. Familiar with manjar, anyone? It is kinda like caramel, and it is super rico!! I thought it´d be fun to put some of it in with the marshmellow, etc. I´ll be making them this afternoon. Hope it goes well!

Other cooking- basically, there isn´t any. We have a microwave and a little gas stove, but I don´t have the time or animo to try to work with the materials we have. We might have one pot? I do know that we have a nice big plastic bowl that I can stick in the microwave, but much more than that, no. Because of this, I eat cookies, fruit, and cereal.

As for shopping, each P-day we take a bus here to Conce. Stop in the office to pick up mail and ask any questions, make copies of any papers we need, etc. The office is on the fifth floor of an offiece building here, and there is usually quite the hustle and bustle of elders and sisters. To use the computers, we walk a block or two to an internet cafe here in Conce, which we call the `siever. I don´t know why we call it that or what that word really means... There are a bunch of computers here, and about half of the customers are missionaries. We can print, etc. as well. To shop, we leave the siever and walk another couple blocks to `the mall`, which is exactly what it sounds like- a gigantic mall with quite the reputation here. We´re actually not allowed to go in the mall, but underground, there is a big grocery store, or `super`, called Jumbo. We´re allowed to take a side entrance and go downstairs to do our shopping there. It is basically like Walmart, and we buy all that we need there. From there, we take our grocery bags and ride the bus back to Lirquen. This is the typical Pday.

Love you all so much
Hermana Oldroyd

April 15, 2013

Parental guidance

¡Hola todos!
Much love from here in Chile. I believe I was a bit scattered last week- I recounted some, but not all of my General Conference story, and I totally forgot to talk about cambios. No news is good news, I suppose? I´m staying here in Lirquen with Hermana Gonzalez for another 6 weeks (5 weeks now), but we did get a new sister! Hermana Daglio replaced Hermana Joglar, and things have changed already! She has a year on the mission, is super super organized, knows exactly what she wants to do, has a big personality, and always needs to be doing something. We´re all working well together, however, and the work goes on!

Learned another big lesson this week, and it ties nicely with my unfinished Conference story, so here goes! A couple weeks back, Hermana Gonzalez and I found an abuela and young girl standing in the middle of one of the Lirquen hills, standing amidst several grocery bags. It was apparent that they were resting before climbing the rest of the hill, so we scurried over to offer our help. I chatted with the young girl as we climbed, and after reaching the house, we entered and gave a lesson. Turns out that Lilian, the abuela, had significant experience with missionaries, and that several of her children were members. (Key word here is ´were´.) Scarlett was the young girl, a bright, beautiful, intelligent, caring, optimistic 11 year old. Lilian had little interest in really investigating the church, but we returned again to invite them to General Conference. Again, Lilian didn´t want to come, but Scarlett did. Of course, we wanted parental permission first, so we arranged to come by the house again and meet her father.
The day we were scheduled to return, we crossed a man in the street, and according to the ´Talk to Everyone¨ Preach My Gospel mantra that we have, I stopped to talk to him. Turns out he was Scarlett´s father, just leaving the house! His name is Alexis. He was baptized at about 14, served a mission in South Chile, and his wife passed away several years ago. He is now actively attending the Catholic church, but doesn´t have hard feelings toward the church. He gave permission for us to visit freely with Scarlett, to take her to General Conference, but said we couldn´t talk about baptism with her. Hmm, slight problem there, considering that our primary purpose as missionaries is to prepare others for the baptismal covenant and permanent activity in the church. We made plans for Conference, however, and she attended with us that Sunday. She said she really enjoyed it! Hermana Gonzalez brought cookies for her, and I brought a notebook for her to doodle and take notes. She chose the latter, and behaved so well.
Here comes this week. I´m trying really hard to listen to the Spirit more during our planning, and during the day when we contact, etc. It was nighttime, and we `Hallo-ed` at one of the houses. Out came a middle aged man, a father of an all-Evangelical family. We talked a bit, testified, and asked if we could share our message with him. He declined, and I tried again. (Quick sidenote- in our district meeting after cambios, we did a short introduction for everyone. One of the questions to answer in front of the group was Ìf your companion wasn´t Mormon, what religion would they be and why? Hermana Gonzalez said I´d be `Testigo de Jeovah`, because I´m super persistent. She continued to describe our typical street contact- introduction, testify, ask for address, get rejected. Testify again, ask for the address again. Rejected. Testify again, ask in a different way. Score the address!! And she was so right...Perhaps I push beyond reasonable limits sometimes, but I like to tell myself that I just don´t understand Spanish well enough to know when people are rejecting me. It was super funny!) I testified again, but he nicely rejected us again. As we walked away, I felt a pain in my heart that I can hardly describe. It was heavy, and thick, and so real. I didn´t know him, but I did know that he had just missed the chance to accept the living gospel. For the first time of my mission, I felt the full weight of rejection- not the rejection of me as a person, but the rejection of future happiness, of the Lord´s perfect plan for us. It hurt so much.
A day or two later, we had another full day. Visit after visit, the desperate need for the gospel became so clear to me. I felt it so strongly. We had a Noche de Hogar (Family Home Evening) with a less-active family, the Acuña-Rocha family. 

They are older, and can´t leave the house to come to church. We helped organize a little gathering for them, and it was so tender to gather with them, observe their situation, their spirits, their desires, and feel the love of the Savior for them. Directly after that, we had another visit with Scarlett´s father. We had invited her to attend church with us, and she wanted to come, but we needed permission again. I prayed so hard for the spirit to be with us, and it was. We sat down with him in the home, and had a very open, very well-meant conversation. We read D&C 68 (Ooh, I don´t remember the exact verses now... I think 28 and 26. Talk about the responsibility of parents to teach their children.) with him, asked him a bit more about his mission, his feelings about the church, and his influence over Scarlett. He was very polite, very kind about everything that he said, but he was also quite frank with us in saying that he doesn´t want her investigating the church- that he `wants another path for her`. He said `Perhaps I´m mistaken in this, but if so, I will answer to the Lord someday.`
It was about this point in the lesson that both Hermana Gonzalez and I started to get teary-eyed.  We bore testimony, did all we could, but by the end really all I could do was close with a prayer that the Lord bless them. We left on good terms with him, but as we walked out into the street, both Hermana Gonzalez and I practically burst into tears. We walked a bit, then stood in the street for several minutes and just sobbed. He knew and understood everything. He had served a mission, been to the temple, made the same covenants that I so treasure. He has a daughter that is bright and beautiful and good, and he wants another path for her? What other path is there than the gospel? What other place could a parent want to raise a child? How in the world could he know so much of the gospel truth and then turn so blatantly to the other side? Knowing what I know of the gospel and the ways of the Lord, I trembled for Alexis and what the future may hold for him. I don´t mean to judge- I don´t want that at all, but it was so horrifyingly clear to me just exactly what his choice meant.
A painful week, but I continue to learn and be so grateful for the gospel. All this has helped me treasure even more the message that we bring, to testify with more fervor, to pray with more strength for our investigators and for all of you. My love always!!
Hermana Oldroyd

April 8, 2013

Conference Weekend

Hola Todos!
Espero que esten bien. It was a crazy up and down week, but this week is a new one and I´m ready to be so much better than I was the last. Where to start...? Wednesday was the "down" of the week- for some reason I just felt discouraged that afternoon. As I thought more and the day went on, I wasn´t as dilligent as I should´ve been and didn´t spend my time very productively. By the end of the day, I was really feeling the full weight of all my choices. I felt terrible. Cried a little, prayed a lot, and studied repentance and dilligence the next day. I worked a lot harder, and obviously I´m still a work in progress. There is so much I want to do as a missionary, and such infinite potential in this missionary work. I feel much more comfortable with Lirquen, the geography, the ward, etc. and now I feel ready to dig deeper and do more. I´ve never been a very detail oriented person (You can ask my Mom if you don´t believe me!), but now is my time to step it up and start being one! Oh boy, it is going to be a bit of a struggle for me, but I will really try to focus during all of our planning sessions to cover everything that needs to be done, to make lists to remember everything, to study our area even more in order to be more efficient, to organize our information, to make phone calls, to measure our time more exactly. And through all of this, to be confident in myself as a missionary and ALWAYS listen to the Spirit. Oh my, so many ways I could improve.
As you all know, this weekend was General Conference!! It was so wonderful and exactly what I needed. I daresay it was the fastest conference I have ever experienced. We made lots of plans and called lots of investigators to come with us, and as of Friday afternoon, we had two investigators committed to come, Rosa for Saturday morning, and Aurora for Saturday afternoon. We also had another possible investigator, Scarlett, for Sunday morning. Yayy!! Saturday morning, we went to pick up Rosa, a middle aged woman with a baptismal date but a lot of remaining doubts about the gospel. As we visited with her, she basically told us that she had "visits" to make, that she didn´t feel the need to come, that she didn´t feel the need to seek an answer to her prayers, and that she didn´t want us to teach her anymore. Perhaps stop by to visit, but she has no interest in being baptized. That morning I brought only some personal questions to conference, but they were all answered.
As for the setting of my General Conference, all us English speaking missionaries gathered in a little classroom, and it was wonderful. We had a few snacks, had a little English break to speak and joke around, and it was a great bonding time. It felt like a little family.
As for General Conference talks, I loved Elder Cardon´s about forgiveness. It was exactly what I needed to hear after my "weak" week, and I cried. I can´t remember exactly which authority suggested that youth preparing to go on missions should defer their college admission, but I laughed out loud when I thought of all the reprecussions that could have for the Admissions Office. Is Cecil preparing a statement to respond to that? I also laughed a bit during Elder Clayton´s talk about marriage- I could vividly imagine the playful banter in between Mom and Dad in the living room downstairs as they listened together to the counsel of the Lord.
I wrote down several questions before conference, but there was one that I dismissed, choosing not to add it to the list. Part of me wanted to ask if my family was really being watched over, if you are really being cared for and protected. I didn´t write it becauce I already know the answer to that question! Like Elder Holland said, we need to acknowledge our faith first, not our doubt, and I have all faith that the Lord is watching out for you. However, Elder Eyring addressed this exact topic in his talk, promising that the families of those who serve are blessed, protected, shielded by the arm of the Lord. You should´ve felt the intense spirit in that classroom as our small group of missionaries sat and quietly absorbed all the significance of that promise.
Also enjoyed Sister Wixom´s talk about the effect of words on children. I don´t remember any exact words by which my parents raised me, but as I thought of them and all they continue to teach me, the overarching statement I draw from them is something like this (excerpt from my conference notes) "You are strong and bright and good. You have gifts you need to share, many roles you must assume, and a light that you must shine. Take the gospel to the world! Have it always in your heart and we will be here by your side." I am so grateful for my parents and the love they´ve always shown me.
Very struck by President Monson´s remarks as well. OBEDIENCE. This is so applicable to us all, and so very very applicable to me as a missionary. We have so many promised blessings, but we can only receive them if we "hear and do" the will of the Lord. Anyone else notice that the story of the Wiseman was mentioned three times throughout conference? Hear and Do, build on the right foundation, be ready for storms, and we will be alright!
Really don´t have much more time to write. I love you all and pray for each of you!!

Hermana Oldroyd
Yes, I live in a seaside town. What can I say?

April 1, 2013


My dearest family and friends!!

I hope this letter finds you safe and happy. Next week is "cambios", so I´m really not sure how everything will work next week. Anything could happen from here! I´m really hoping that I stay in Lirquen with Hermana Gonzalez- I´m just starting to get a handle on the area and I feel like there is still so much learning and growing that we need to do together. Of course, I´ll be happy with whatever happens. Stay tuned!

This week was crazy, and passed so quickly! But before I write anything else, I have news. They made me a trainer!! Can you believe it?? We have so many sisters coming to the mission that literally every sister in our mission now is being trained on how to be a trainer. I hardly feel qualified just yet to be a senior companion, but I know it will work out somehow! Okay.... just kidding, everyone. Had to include a little April Fools for you, just to keep you on your toes! Apparently Latin America doesn´t really observe April Fools- I tried to plan something with Hna Gonzalez to pull on the other Hermanas, but she had never heard of it before. Darn. To tell the truth, though, this April Fools is only a half-April fools. This week really was a special one! We received a whole bunch of "mini-missionaries" and, every sister had the opportunity to train/work with an hermanita Thursday through Sunday.

We had a training meeting on Wednesday for all the sisters, and it was fabulous. We learned more about planning, our key indicators (lessons with a member, investigators with a baptismal date, etc. They are our guiding principles as missionaries to help us know where to focus our efforts.), and extending commitments. All of those lessons were exactly the ones I needed most, and I loved all the practices we did. Thursday night we picked up our Hermanitas, and I was assigned to work with Hermana Bravo. She was the sweetest girl ever! 17 years old, very easy-going, very positive, very flexible. It was her second mini-mission, and her second time in Lirquen! Crazy, huh? We chatted, and went in a group to drop off all the minis to various members´houses. They slept and ate breakfast with the members, then spent the day with us.

Friday was our first day with our mini-missionaries, and planning a day for 9 missionaries (Hermana Joglar had two companions) in one little town was an experience! We planned out the day and went out to work! We studied in the chapel, since space is limited in our house. I restudied with my comp a talk that we received last week in district meeting, The Vision to Baptize. It sets a really high bar for us as missionaries, and really helped me define my purpose here. I´m working towards it! We contacted a lot that day, and Hermana Bravo was super sweet and a good support. Saturday was similar- lots of contacting and a couple lessons as well. During my hour of language study (I forgot to include that as part of my daily schedule when I wrote last week.) I had lots of help! Spanish is picking up, though I still feel like I miss a lot. Working on it!

Erica and Hermana Bravo

Saturday night was our Missionary Activity. The other hermanas and I made a list of questions about the scriptures, the organization of the church, the leaders of the ward, etc. and mixed in some fun challenges. Sing a hymn, hug the person next to you, etc. We numbered the questions and pasted sticky notes with numbers on the chalkboard, and divided everyone into two teams. There was lots of laughing, lots of teasing, lots of love. It was a really bright moment, that time to be with my ward in a fun, loving, open atmosphere. I will treasure that memory!

Sunday was crazy- we woke up, got ready, went to pick up the hermanas, then went to church. Called our investigators one more time to remind them about sacrament meeting, went to try and pick up a family, but the Mom was at work and hadn´t given permission for the children to go. We´ll meet with this family again this week and I hope we can win them over!! Ran back to the church in time to play piano for Ward Conference. I love playing, though I have to laugh half of the time- the congregation has their own way of singing the hymns, and sometimes it takes me a verse or two to adjust to their timing. I think they sing louder than our home ward, though, so more power to them!

After church, I ate about the fastest lunch I´ve ever eaten in my life. You´d be proud of me, family! We grabbed suitcases and dropped the hermanitas off at the stake center, which was sad!! We had a great time with them, though I think Hermana Gonzalez loves me more now, considering that her companion was very shy. She said this week that she feels a bond with me that she´s only felt with one other companion (and she´s had five in six months). We´re still working things out, and I´ve begun to pray for her during all of our companion prayers, which I think has helped. She still makes comments here and there but we´re making progress.

Erica and Hermana Gonzalez

Hm, maybe a few short funny stories? The other day, Hermana Gonzalez and I were contacting and met a man who was walking two dogs. He asked us why Noah brought two of every animal on the ark, but none of the people. We looked at each other and basically just shrugged, and he proceeded to explain that animals are better than people and we´re probably all going to drown. Ohh, funny man. We also met up with two men in the street who were quite eager to pull out their pocket New Testaments and argue scripture with us- it took us about fifteen minutes to find enough time to say a polite goodbye. Oh, and how could I forget? Cleaning supplies are different here, but perhaps I should´ve known better than to clean the toilet with dish soap last week. The toilet was bubbly for the rest of the day.... Sorry, hermanas!! I´ve started to dream in a mix of Spanish and English- usually little nightmares that I´m breaking the rules by traveling without my companion.

Here come some of the deep thoughts of the week. These past three weeks here in the Lirquen ward have been perhaps the most tender, spiritual sacrament meetings that I´ve ever attended, specifically during the administration of the sacrament. As I pondered on this yesterday, I could think of several reasons why. Here on the mission, I´m constantly learning and thinking about baptism. The talk I mentioned earlier lays out very clearly the absolute necessity of baptism in our lives- without it, we cannot return to live with our Father in Heaven, we cannot live with our families, we cannot properly access the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Without it, we have no real reason to keep the commandments or work towards a higher goal, because baptism is the door to all the covenants and promises we desire in this life and the next. This reminder of my baptismal covenant holds much more meaning now.

The next reason may seem silly, but they almost missed me this week during the sacrament. Bishop motioned to one of the boys to come back for me, but before he did, I had a minute or two to realize just how badly I wanted to partake of the sacrament this week (especially considering that next week is General Conference). Three weeks without the sacrament? Wow, it felt really, really heavy. Thanks, Bishop! Also, I love to think just how true the church is, in Chile, Utah, and everywhere else in the world. Somewhere on the other side of the world, my family is making the exact same covenant that I´m now making. They´re singing the same songs, looking to the same God, and hearing the same sacrament prayer. The gospel really is for everyone!

In addition, I´m ever learning about my Savior and the role He plays in my life. I feel closer to Him than ever before, I know Him better than before, and those few quiet moments to sit and think of the sacrifice He made for me are increasingly tender. There just aren´t words for it. I just hope that the next time each of you partake of the sacrament, you´ll do it with a reverent heart and a little more thought for what it actually means.

I love you all!! My Easter testimony is this- that Christ really does live and love us, and that He really did fulfill the ends of the law. We are beyond blessed to have this restored Gospel, and to have an advocate in the Savior. I love and pray for you all!!

Happy Easter!

Hermana Oldroyd