July 30, 2013

. . . dear, selfless people . . .

Dear family and friends,

We're back to list form, if you don't mind! Here are a few highlight Mission moments:

1. I love Chileans. Specifically Jocelyn. She continues to be as golden as possible! Turns out she's already been keeping a journal, that ever since she started reading the Book of Mormon she's also felt a greater desire to study the Bible and learn more about Christ, and that she looks up hymns on YouTube in her spare time. Wow. She and Enrique are really struggling economically, to the point where they aren't eating very much right now at the end of the month. Hermana De León and I have been praying for her a lot, and the other day she asked us after a visit (she always has good questions to ask) if we could do her a favor. Of course we can! She asked us if she could make lunch for us on Friday, and asked if we would invite Hermana Mena and Martos to come as well. My dear people, I just didn't know what to say. They don't have money for that. I continue to learn from these dear, selfless people, and I feel so blessed to know and serve them.

2. Hm, here is the embarrassing moment of the list. There we were, knocking doors, and a nice family let us in the talk with them. The Mom insisted that they serve us a "cafesito". Here in Chile, everything ends in "ito". It is a cute way of making everything more casual, everything more little. They only time that really puzzles me is when people use it in reference to God- "Diosito". Anyway. Cafesito applies to all sorts of warm drinks, so we explained that we don´t drink coffee or tea, but that herb teas are ok. She brought out a box, saying, "This is herb tea!" and I passed it to Hermana De Leòn, considering that the Latinas usually know more about tea than I do. She approved it, we drank a cafesito and had a good lesson with the family. The next day it occurred to us- was that really herb tea? After some thought, we decided to ask the Bishop/confess, if necessary. Aaaaaand, as it turns out, we definitely drank tea in front of a new investigator. Pucha. (Other Chilean phrase, like darn.) I broke the Word of Wisdom, people! I was so so so embarrassed. But we've repented of our ignorant sin, I promise.

3. We had a minicambio this week to accommodate ward council and some of the planned visits that we had. I was in between visits with Hermana Martos, and we were talking with a man in the street when all of the sudden... Bam! We saw a dog get hit by a car. And it was loud! Poor Hermana Martos, she was quite shocked. Needless to say, it was a first for me also.

4. For those of you who haven´t noticed the changing shape of my face, here is yet another confirmation of the mission weight gain syndrome. I split one of my skirts when I was leaning over!! Unbelievable. Ok, granted, it was only the inner liner of the skirt, but still. I even took a picture to show you.

5. Still don't like the hymn "God be with you `till we meet again." Our ward counselor chose it for the closing hymn on Sunday, and listening to my dear Lirquen ward sing it, knowing that we're two weeks before transfers, made me cry. Just a little, but I don´t know why we have a hymn like that to rub in goodbyes. I find it rather unnecessary.

6. Henry received the priesthood!!!! I can´t even express how happy I was so sit in the Bishop`s office with all the rest and watch them put their hands on his head. Of course, I cried a little bit again. He looked at me after and just smiled. What a good guy- the Elder's Quorum presidency has started taking him with them on visits, and he´s also going to work in Family History. I love him so so much.

7. We had interview with President this Tuesday! I really don´t have time to write about it, but I´ll just tell you that I felt uncomfortable in a house as nice as his. I don´t know what I´ll do when I get back to the States...

8. The pictures from the beach are from a miscommunication the morning of our interviews. The chapel wasn't open and it just happened to be right next to the beach, so we went! Finally! Oh, it was so gorgeous. Some future P-Day we´ll have to actually go spend some time there.

9. There is a little white board in our mission office that lists the names of all the missionaries who are coming or leaving the mission. Guess whose name is on there??? Glazier, A., with a little star because she´s a sister. Ahhh!!!! Get over here, cousin. Can´t wait to see you!!

I love you all dearly. Until next week!
Hermana Oldroyd

July 22, 2013


Dear family and friends,
This week began a bit slowly- by Thursday we had not found a single new investigator. We were being obedient, dilligent with talking with people in the street, etc. and I pondered what more we could do to show the Lord we were ready to find investigators. If I´ve improved or gained one thing on the mission, however, it is a constant faith in the Savior. I don´t remember if I shared this experience with you? It was a turning point for me in my mission, and in my life.

On June 4, I was studying in the morning, and read Alma 34: 31. I´ll quote a bit from my study journal:
"Now is the day of our salvation, when we work and serve for the Lord. Humility is recognizing that I am yet in His debt, that I am still in great need, and that I still have much good that I can give. I feel myself changing inside, becoming a woman, becoming more like my mother. I feel my foundation being built more firmly on the rock of Christ, and I feel my concept of my place in relation to Him becoming more clear. I am His and I am nothing without Him, but I know He calls and uses me to call to others. Look to Him first, my own heart and testimony second, and then take and turn those to bless others."
I know that I´m not a perfect missionary, and I know that I will always have things to improve, but I also know that the Lord loves me and wants us to succeed in this missionary work. After all, it is His work and glory. This security that I feel in relation to the Savior stayed with me even through a pretty mediocre week, and I found comfort in this knowledge that even though I´m not perfect I can still work and serve the Lord. I searched for what more we could do, but didn´t feel discouraged or extremely stressed. A little, of course, but I knew that the Lord was leading us to something, whether it be only a little personal growth, or whether it be a family of 9 on Saturday night.

Perhaps we didn´t find a family of 9, but on Friday we did find 5 new investigators- an amazing miracle. Two of those were the other half of a family that we´d found the week before- We´d met Constanza, a young mother, and on Friday we returned to find her pareja, Alexis, and her suegro, Chelo. Two others were a mother and daughter, Dolores and Claudia, and the fifth was a teen girl that really, really needed us to pass by and find her that night. We felt so very blessed, and I continue to feel very, very blessed to be teaching Jocelyn. I highly doubt I will find a more chosen and prepared person than her- she expressed a spiritual emptiness after having missed church last week because of sickness, said she wants to find a job so that she can begin paying tithing and contribute to the growth of the church, that she´s been sharing her feelings with her husband and that he finally agreed to pray with her, and that she´s counting the days until her baptism.

Jocelyn!!!! She came to the baptism  (young man named Jonathan) and couldn´t have been more excited. Everyone, please memorize her face. She is perhaps the best investigator I will ever have in my mision.

So so very grateful to have this perfect gospel as a part of my life. It is true.

I love you and pray for you all!!

Hermana Oldroyd

Although Erica's birthday isn't until August 11th, we sent her bday package early and told her to open it. It had some cold weather items in it.

At Sister Fuentez' home, rolling out the dough for Empanadas.

Enjoying the fruits of our labor

July 15, 2013

The Atonement

Friends and family-

Saludos a todos! It gets harder and harder each week to write in English... If I sound awkward, I´m sorry. P-Days are changing a bit, as we´re trying to spend  our time together with Hna Martos and Mena doing fun activities rather than just going to Concepción and doing the usual. As a result, I also haven´t visited the mission office in a while and have heard even less English than before. Forgive me, all!

Speaking of mission office- we have a new one! As a result, we also have a new address, in case you want to write me.

Mision Chile, Concepción
Casilla 2210
Castellón 1063
Oficina Norte

And speaking of fun P-Day activities, we learned how to make empanadas today! These dear Chileans really are just more relaxed- some flour, oh wait, we´re doubling the recipe so put three cups more! This recipe doesn´t have eggs, but I like it better with eggs, so we´ll add three of those. Throw in a couple spoonfulls of yeast. Mix it all up! Stick some cheese in there. Hm, maybe we should try some other filling also? Why not some corn and leftover chicken? It was fabulous. Now I just have to try and get this little grease spot out of my skirt... (I´ll send pictures next week.)

This week had it´s ups and downs, like always. Might I just spend a moment describing one of the big, big ups?

Thursday, we were doing our usual morning studies. The mission has a program called 12 Semanas, or 12 Weeks, which helps guide the developement of a new missionary. Each week has a couple themes and things for us to study, videos from The District to watch, practices to do with your companion. It is really great. (Fom what I´ve seen of it, that is! I´ve only even made it to Semana 8 before starting over with a trainee. One day I´ll get through the whole thing!) This week we´re studying the second lesson, the Plan of Salvation. We were studying the lesson point by point, referencing scriptures, etc. and then doing a one minute practice of how to explain that concept. I´d demonstrate it, she´d practice it, then we´d repractice it.

All was well, and we came to about the middle of the lesson, which is the Atonement. As we studied it, the room became still. After a moment thought, I decided not to put on the timer for that practice, then started to `explain`, or share my feelings about the Atonement. Will anyone be very surprised if I started crying? I am so in awe of this celestial concept. As I ponder on the immense changes I´ve seen in Henry, the pain that I see in the lives of those who live in sin, on the feeling of relief I have after I repent, on the sound of every sacrament cup that drops onto the tray on Sunday, on the verses that describe the incredible pain and anguish that it was for Christ to complete His atoning sacrifice, I hardly know what to feel.

We had lunch with the Bishop that day, and he is honestly one of the most absolutely Christ-like men I have ever known. We had a tender moment sharing a scripture with him and his wife after lunch, and Hna De León and I left their house crying again. It was a day of sheer wonder- How does it all work? This great and perfect plan, how am I so very privileged to know and be a part of it? What a tender, precious gift it is to know that my Heavenly Father loves me, that His son and my brother loved me to the extent that He took upon Himself my every pain. How marvelous, to know that I never have to live in sin, to know that I can overcome any burdern and any trial if I only give my heart to Him.

How great and expansive, the Atonement that He made. It really does cover every sin, answer every pain, heal every emotional wound. I know and testify that it is real- that it applies to you and me, and that all we must do to access it is form a loving covenant with Him (baptism) and live by it each week. It isn´t that hard, my dear people. Repentance is not just a commandment, it is an invitation from an all-knowing Father, an opportunity from an ever-loving Savior. I have seen and felt the pain of those who have turned away from this covenant. Perhaps they don´t think of it this way, but they are literally refusing the sacrifice of the Savior, refusing to see the encompassing light of forgiveness and love that is available to all of us because of Christ´s expiatory act. I pray that each one of us might make better use of it in our lives. It is everything.

Of that, I testify.

Your always,

Hermana Oldroyd

No new pictures this week, except for this one. I'm guessing it was the last mission conference with the out-going Mission President.

July 8, 2013

I Love . . .

Dearest family and friends,

To begin:

I love the Book of Mormon.
I love being a missionary.
I love my ward here.
I love fast Sundays.
I love Chilean sunsets.
I love the ocean.
I love my companion.
I love all of you.

Yep, those are some of the important points that I wanted to say. This week was a really good one- Hna De Leòn and I saw a lot of miracles, mostly as the result of fasting. We began the week and month with a companionship fast. That was Tuesday, and that was the day that we found Jocelyn. Can I just tell you a little bit of her story? She is the most prepared person that I have met in my mission. She is 21, newly married, looking for a job, and has a little prior experience with missionaries. We knocked on her door and she let us in immediately. Her spouse, Enrique, is supportive and very easy-going, and though he hasn't expressed direct interest right now, (he actually plays computer games and half-listens while we teach Jocelyn), I have all faith that he will show a change of heart. Jocelyn expressed her desire to be closer to God, and right up front told us that she feels this is exactly what she´s been looking for in her life. She accepted a baptismal date for the 27th of July, and I know that she´s going to be baptized.

The week went on, we kept in close contact with Jocelyn, and we began another fast on Saturday, as this was the first Sunday of the month. We started that with a companionship prayer and then called Priscilla to accompany us to visit Jocelyn. Priscilla is a newly married member who is just starting to return to church; we had visited her on Wednesday and she mentioned that she´d been a ward missionary when she was single, but that since getting married they've both struggled to stay active. Right after she said that, I felt really distinctly that we should invite her to visit Jocelyn with us. We invited her, but she wasn´t sure if she´d be able to come. Saturday, after beginning our second fast, we called her again and she said that she could! She came with us to the visit, and I've never seen a member so excited to visit with us. She mentioned that her husband had questioned her a bit- "You´re going to go out with the missionaries? We´re not even really active!" But she was so gratified and excited that we´d invited her to come. The lesson with Jocelyn went so well, and they both expressed their feelings of joy and happiness because of finding the gospel.

This Sunday, Jocelyn AND Priscilla came to church! This is the third Sunday in a row that Priscilla and her husband have attended, and they sat on the very front row. Because I was playing piano for the meeting, I also sat on the front row with them, and you can imagine my feelings as when Priscilla stood up to bear her testimony. She shared the joy she felt when we asked her to visit with us, and her excitement for Jocelyn, and her testimony of the Lord´s forgiveness and love for all of us. When she sat back down, she leaned over and took my hand and said "Thank you, Hermana. I can´t even tell you how much I love you. Thank you."

It was a genuine miracle.

There were some other really tender testimonies- Hna Ana Cortez finally felt well enough to come to church, and she walked arm in arm with Sariah to bear her testimony. That dear woman, so physically weak and so spiritually strong. She is one of the most truly charitable people I have ever met, and she expressed her love and gratitude for all the members of the ward that have helped Sariah prepare for her mission. I reflected on the little details that I´ve witnessed in this process.

During a visit the other day, Hermana Gladys Fuentes (owner of Rincon Marino, and their family is fairly well off) excitedly showed us a big suitcase that she´d purchased for Sariah. She said "I don´t know, I saw it in the store and I just knew it was for Sariah! Buying it, I felt so excited, like I was buying it for myself but even better." Her husband, Arturo, had also been less active but has been to church the last two Sundays. Spirit of service and missionary work, anyone? There have been so many moments like that, and it reminded me of my own mission preparation. So much love and generosity and sacrifice.

Missionary work really is a sacred work of the Lord, one that every heart can recognize and in which every person can participate. What a grand plan this is- that through our faith and diligent work, we can someday be saved, along with all of those that we love. Salvation is not a solitary work! We help and work and strive to save each other, all the while gaining our own place in the Lord´s eternal home. I am so incredibly happy here, and I know that each of us can find the same eternal happiness by serving the Lord in the place that we´re at. I encourage you all to continue doing so!!

My love and prayers,

Hermana Oldoyd

Fourth of July, eating in Rincon Marino like every Thursday, and in walk these adorable Chilean grandmas. They were celebrating a birthday, and we couldn´t help glancing over at their table and forming plans to return to Chile and eat together in Rincon Marino someday when we´re old (advanced in age... or however you want to say it). I just couldn´t help it- after we finished I went and asked if we could take a picture with them. What better way to start a contact? One of them even pulled out their camera to take a picture of us also, and of course we shared our quick testimonies before leaving with a fun little memory.

I may be on the other side of the world, but I didn´t forget the Fourth!

Got called up to the Birthday line in the mission conference! Apparently July and August are stacked with Elders- I was one of two Hermanas. Fun times, having the mission sing to us in Spanish.

July 1, 2013

Oh, Henri!

Oh my dear people,

One of the biggest weeks of my mission? I think so. Henri got baptized!! Thank you so much for all of your thoughts and prayers. The week was a normal one- calling him, verifying that he hadn´t smoked, passing by to fill in his baptismal form, picking up the baptismal clothes from Elder Brown, etc. Henri invited us over for lunch on Thursday, and when we went over he had bought a pre-made chicken from a negocio, a salad of celery and tomatoes, bread, and a premade dessert. He had also purchased the plates and glasses the day before in Concepción. What a sweetheart. We called members to give talks, be witnesses, etc. and everything was almost ready! We´d planned to have the baptism at 9:00, after the ward activity that we were planning (which started at 6).

One small detail- Hermana Peterson received permission from President Humphrey to return for Henri´s baptism, but if we had it at 9:00 she wouldn´t be able to come. Chuuuuta. (As the Chileans would say.) Super last minute, we switched everything around and fixed everything to start at 5:30. At about the same time, one of our talks canceled on us, not to mention that this is also the weekend and we still have to plan on which investigators we´re going to bring to church and how we´re going to organize all of that. Friday night was perhaps the most stressed I´ve ever been in my life. Just in the climax of trying to find another talk, I had one of those little thoughts that said "Call Francisco Cortez". He is a returned missionary, super busy with studies and work, but we called him and he agreed to come give the talk. What a tender mercy!

Saturday came, and I could hardly believe it! We ran around, not quite as frantically as headless chickens, but almost. We´d made the rice crispies the day before for our activity, and so we cut up those, grabbed our dusty pairs of jeans, grabbed the baptismal clothes, grabbed our cameras, and got ourselves out of the house. We arrived at the church early, which was good, because Henry also came earlier than planned. We showed him the font, explained what was going to happen, etc. He was nervous, and so were we, but I kept on using my typical words "Perfecto" and "Buenissimo". (That was one of our discussions before the baptism- I was trying to convince us all that we didn´t need to be so anxious, and was spouting encouraging phrases at us all. Henri teased me a bit because I always say things are "Buenissimo" or "Perfecto".)

Guess who else arrived early? Henri's ex-wife, Maria, and his son Fabián. Also Maria´s son Octavio and his girlfriend. We had encouraged him many times to invite his family to his baptism, but he never gave us a real affirmative, so I was surprised to see them enter the chapel! We all introduced ourselves, and since we had a lot of extra time while Henri was changing, we gave them a tour of the chapel. They loved all the paintings in the hallways, and we answered questions and explained that we worship God, not Joseph Smith. She seemed relieved after that.

Hermana Peterson arrived at about 5:20, and we had time for just a few photos before the baptism started, right on time at 5:30. We began in the chapel, and I played the opening hymn. Hermano Tomas, still with his earbuds in, like always, conducted the meeting. Francisco gave his talk, then Hermana Peterson and I did a special musical number, "Hazme Andar en la Luz". Another mission miracle? Not afraid to sing solos anymore. We left the chapel for the baptismal font, and the Bishop baptized Henri. I thought I´d cry my eyes out, but I just sat and thought about it all.

The rest of the program went well, and then we had the activity. It started late, as always, but Henri and his family all stayed for the activity and we had the chance to speak with Maria. She is super sincere and expressed her amazement at the change she´s seen in Henri. It was also very obvious that she still loves him- perhaps it is unmissionary of me to include that detail but I felt for her. I´m secretly hoping that the situation between them is such that we can teach her- I could see her progressing rapidly with just a little help.

The activity went really well- it was a Night of the Americas, and everyone had a great time. They loved our dance, Cotton Eye Joe, and the Rice Crispies were also a big hit. I left that activity so very very happy!! My dear Lirquen ward, Henri's baptism, my sweet companion, everything was so good.

In our jeans and T-shirts.... Wow, you should have seen the looks we got! The ward hardly recognized us, but it was necessary because of our sweet Cotton Eyed Joe dance that we did. They all loved it!!

That night I also pondered on the not-so-happy things that have happened this week. Elsa, the mom of Alexys and Nicole, stopped by the house of a member this week with the Book of Mormon and pamphlets in hand, and asked her to tell us that she doesn´t want us to come by anymore. Apparently her brother got really sick and the member thinks some of Elsa´s friends from her church suggested that God was punishing her for listening to us. We also got a text message from Elizabet, (don´t worry, we don´t text yet. We do receive them once in a while.), one of our super sincere investigators that was going to come to church this Sunday. She said that her husband was angry with her for agreeing to go to church, and that it would be better if she just stays with the beliefs she has now. Lots of big emotional events this week, and Saturday night it all came together.

I was so pleased about Henri, but at the same time it felt so natural and expected that he should be baptized. Sunday was the climax of all these thoughts and emotions. As he went up to the stand to be confirmed a member, I looked at him and the hands upon his head, and I thought about all that it meant. I thought of Dad and all the blessing he´s given me in my life, and THAT was when I really lost it and started crying. It is so real, this gospel, this path that Christ has laid out for us. Priesthood power? I´ve never felt is so strongly as in that moment. Baptism is one of the most natural, the most precious and sacred landmarks in our lives, and I know that there were many more rejoicing with me that day.

Time is up- I love you all so much!! Take care all.

Hermana Oldroyd

Thought of Mom and Kirsten when I saw her in this shirt.... Kirsten´s kind of phrase and Mom´s mission home!
Hermana Marta!! She is Hermana Yanet Acuña Solis´ mom, and the sweetest thing. The other day we helped take her groceries to her house, then washed their dishes because Yanet is pregnant and the city is renovating their house. Crazy life! I complimented her on her hat, (the one she is wearing), and told her that I´d need to find one like it. Maybe four days later, she shows up to the activity with an extra bag, and had made these hats for us! Not only that, but we looked in the bag later and found two black wool skirts- super warm. When we asked her about the skirts on Sunday, she said they were Yanet´s from her mission, and that they don´t fit her anymore. Is anyone else aching on the inside??? Just thinking about the whole idea of having one of Yanet´s skirts, a hat that she made just for me, etc. makes me so overwhelmed with love for them.