March 31, 2014

What inspires you?

Well, quite a few little events to share.

1. Had my first experience with Essential Oils on a mini cambio this week! I had a cold all week and this Hermana had brought her mint, (or something like that), oil with her. She told me to spread it below my nose before going to sleep to help me breath, and boy, does that stuff burn! But I did breath better, I suppose.

2. In that same health line, we had a little scare in our house this week. Even though I usually sleep like a rock, I woke up the other night at 4:30 in the morning and looked around a bit to find what had woken me up. After my brain unfogged a bit, I saw Hermana Aguera lying silently on the floor in front of the bathroom, not moving. I got down and went to ask her what was wrong, and found her in extreme pain. She had been up since 2, vomiting every 30 minutes, and as I talked to her and asked her what she thought was wrong, she said "I don't want to think what I'm thinking..." Turns out that her brother and cousin both had appendicitis, and she felt really intense stomach pains and worried that it might be the same. We called the mission nurse, and kept in contact with her for the next several hours, and at one point she even instructed me on how to do a preliminary test to see if it really was an issue with her appendix. I think that will be one of my Forever Mission Memories- Hermana Aguero on the floor and having to pressure her in the stomach in an attempt to check her for Appendicitis. She has medication now to help her get rid of some little crystals in her kidneys, and we're keeping a close eye on her.

3. We have a university in our sector called University Bio Bio, and this week a couple students decided to protest something. We were walking back from lunch and saw a big stack of black smoke coming from the University, and come to find out they had lined the bridge with flaming tires. Want to know what the only way to get home is? Crossing the bridge. Luckily we got there right as the whole chaos was only starting, so we crossed anyway and noted the several students with nylons around their heads, running around and organizing things. Interesting.

4. We had to get home fast another afternoon, so we grabbed a bus and I asked the driver "Can you take us both for 500 pesos?" (The buses here have a certain route, and we were only taking the bus for a very short part of that route, so if you ask them they'll usually let you ride for partial price.) He looked at me and just started laughing, then said to me "Who taught you to do that? You're not Chilean!!" And he just laughed and laughed. He even honked and waved at us when he saw us in the street a couple days later.

5. We were teaching Fernando about the Restoration the other day and asked him to look up Ephesians 2:20 in his Bible. I don't know which version he has, but when he read it, I followed along in mine and was shocked to see that his Bible completely cuts out the word Prophet. It just startled me to see so personally the manipulation of the gospels clear and precious doctrines. This weekend is General Conference (Ahhhhhh my last one in the mission.....) and I hope we're preparing ourselves to hear from our living prophets. This is another principle I'm still learning here- the importance of preparation. Whether it be for a mini cambio or a conference or the Sacrament or even just a normal day of proselyting, our dedication to the preparation will directly influence the nature of our results. The Spirit teaches us when we prepare ourselves to be taught. Pray, fast, write down questions, study about the value of prophets (they are soooo important!!!), try to find the right environment in which to watch the conference. Go to all the sessions that you can. This really is God that is about to talk to us, and I hope you won't take that lightly.

I love you each so much. This work isn't mine or yours, but let me just promise you that it is mine and your responsibility to take a part in it. We talked to a man in the street today that knows a member in our ward, and what he said really impressed me. Supposedly this member had invited him to come to church before, but obviously the man wasn't ready for that on the first invitation. (That is ok! Success is in the invitation! Wait for the second part, though.)  He did, however, invite the member to tell him a little more about the church. The member responded, "Well, you've got to come and see!" People. It cannot be that way. You may not live a missionary schedule, but you must always be ready to share a little portion of what you know with the people that surround you. They need this.

Think about what doctrine or doctrines are most important to you personally as members of the church. What really inspires you? I promise you that as you study in your mind the truths that have most affected you, you'll have the opportunity to share that with someone in your path. In Preach My Gospel it tells us that true intelligence means taking an eternal truth and teaching it in a way that a child can understand it- just so, member missionary work is taking eternal truths and explaining them in a natural, daily way that will help a stranger understand it. I promise you that they will not only understand, but will feel awake in them the desire to learn more, and that God will bless you for shining your light to His waiting children. Testimony is the most powerful tool you have! Just share what you love and feel- there is nothing unnatural about that. And don't even tell me you can't be a missionary just because you live in Utah. If that is true, I am never coming home.

I love you each soooo much, and I love the Lord. He is the most inspired Father, sending us just what we need to grow and learn and rejoice in our surroundings. Be happy! It is part of God's plan. He loves each and every one of you-

Hermana Oldroyd

Activity after Consejo, my first time ever paintballing! And on beautiful, green Chilean mountainside

Who knew I'd be such a natural? Oh wait, you mean I'm NOT supposed to shoot my own teammate 4 times in the head after he`s already surrendered? Ohhhhhhhh, I was so embarrassed afterwards. Seems like the mix of that big helmet impeding my vision (I couldn`t tell if I'd hit him the first couple times)  and the adrelaline of paintball really went to my head in the wrong way.... Oh boy.

March 24, 2014


Family and Friends!

Good week. Had a very productive mini cambio and we were able to help some sisters overcome some testimony and stress difficulties. It is all about little plans, people. We, as latter day saints and as children of God, are born with a grand vision, but let me just tell you how necessary it is that we make ourselves little goals to get there. GOALS! Not even just soccer kind, but the kind that helps us accept ourselves and the Atonement, the kind that helps us really be saved by grace, that helps us progress and change day by day.

We had a great companionship experience this weekend- we're teaching a 23 year old and she is great. I knew her before, actually, but she was still in her partying, insincere phase when I first met her, and now she is really ready to change. She had the night shift in her bar job on Saturday, which went until 5 in the morning. She said she'd do everything she could to wake up and come to church, but we were worried for her, and decided to fast. We added another family to the fast, because we also reeeeally wanted them to come to church and keep progressing. (This family is the first complete family that I've ever taught in my mission. They are so funny and the dad is so hungry for the word of God! If we can only keep his two sons entertained.... Oh boy, that 8 year old is a crazy one, and the little one has waaaaay more energy than any other 2 year old I've seen. We're trying to help the mom balance between caring for the kids and listening to the lessons. Hard one.) We fasted together for them and they all came to church!! It was so great, and we felt so blessed.

 I was also really impressed by something that Hermana P said- she is the Gospel Principles teacher, and our lesson was about the Atonement this week. She studied so much, and said she was so anxious to teach it well that she fasted in preparation for her class. How many of you teachers out there do that every once in a while? We never quite know when the words that we say, the scriptures we share, the testimony we give, will have an effect on someone's eternity. I can't even tell you how many times that I've been touched by a humble teacher, shaped by the Spirit they helped me feel.

Sunday ended a little harder than usual. We visited a family that I really love here, and found the Dad on one of his grumpy days. As we talked, he basically unloaded on us all the bitterness and disappointment and hurt that he's saved up from all his years in the church. That isn't a really new occurrence- I've jokingly come to think that part of our callings as missionaries is to take the poisonous barbs that people sometimes have to spit as part of their spiritual healing process. His issue was based on several experiences with leaders in the church, and he went so far as to say that he can no longer feel the Spirit in church and doubts if it is the environment in which he wants to raise his daughter.

I can take that, I've seen it before. What really affected me was listening to his heartbroken spouse, a cheerful, lovely, faithful, covenant keeping returned missionary. She just sobbed as she said to him "You can't let that keep you down. You think I haven`t seen those things? You think I didn't see that every day as a missionary? I do not go to church for leaders or for callings, nor do I even go for you or our daughter. I go because I believe in Christ, because I know He lives and I know He leads the church even when His tools are imperfect men. Why can`t you see that?"

I don't think I've been so bold in calling someone to repentance in quite a while. We did what we could, but he was en-caged in his bitterness and wasn't about to let it go in that short hour with us. Walking away from that lesson, I felt a deep sorrow that I haven't felt in a long time. Let me just promise each one of you, as I know I have before, there is NOTHING worth distancing yourself from the church. This man goes every Sunday out of sincere love for his spouse, but he does not feel the Spirit, and he fails to see that his self-righteous stubbornness is causing her a type of suffering that no faithful woman should have to endure. There is no grudge, no swell of pride, no excuse or event that can validly excuse us from the commandments of God. That man is experiencing a living damnation- a literal damnation of personal progress, the sucking of spiritual strength. It hurt so much to see, especially because I know what kind of man he is.

That is the other hard part- knowing that he is still such a good man. So generous, so humorous and funny and intelligent, so loving and selfless, so considerate and kind. I hope that we all understand that God never stops working to save men like that, never stops working to save each one of us and salvage the divine qualities that He has placed in each one of us. There is always hope, always a way to turn ourselves around and be a little better. I believe that. I know that. I have seen and felt that, and part of me feels that I will spend my whole life preaching the reality of repentance, the real meaning of Christ's saving gift. What does it mean to you?

My heart burns as I write you about this. It has been a long time since I cried while writing a letter, but just believe in my sincerity and real, living testimony of these things. God is not just a distant figure for me- I know Him. His Only Begotten is not only a Bible story, but the foundation of my entire life and being. There is nothing else. There is no greater fount of joy, no grander place of rest. He really is the one.

I love you each so much. What I most wish is that we each might seek that Christ of which has been spoken. I pray, and preach, and work for that every day.


Hermana Oldroyd

Erica and Hna Baturite

March 17, 2014

Water into wine

I am so HAPPY!!!!!!!

Family, I don't even know where to start. Maybe with just saying that I am sore. This week we walked so, so fast, and worked so hard. Poor Hermana Aguero and Hermana Jennings- they complained today that both Hermana Baturité and I were snoring like crazy. Whoops!! I guess that is what happens when we work really, really hard. (Ok actually, I snore all the time. Hermana Miskin once stayed in our house before Consejo, and she started calling me Smoky the Bear after.)

I love my companion so much. We have so much in common and are so comfortable together, and so pumped to really go and work. The Lord has really, really blessed us. We found a family this week and they came to pick US up for church, even despite rain. Fernando is the Dad, and he is very interested and really liked church. Yessica is the Mom, who is mostly just a support for her husband but is interested by our patience and attention to her children. Diego is 8, and has a very short attention span, but he's smart. And Vicente is their little tornado. The other day he dumped my whole water bottle on the floor and started splashing around, that crazy kid. I hope they'll keep progressing!

Fernanda is seeing signs from God in all places- I think it makes a difference that her best friend is an Evangelical pastora. I think she can pull it through, though. We're praying a lot. The ward is super excited still and always willing to work with us, so much so that Hermana Baturité asked me "What did you do with this ward? How did we just have two people come up to us to ask us when they can come do visits with us?" This week we have so many visits planned that we're having to do divisions, and we're trying to mobilize our ward missionaries to start reteaching the less actives. We're talking to everyone in the street, and let me just tell you- I love being a missionary.

Let me tell you my cool little Bible miracle of the week. We made it to church just in time to take the sacrament, and the chapel was so full that we had to grab extra chairs and stick them in the back. A little ways into the program, Cata Oporto came up to me with her little brother Agustine, and asked if I had a candy to give him. (Always carry candy for the kids. Always. Wins trust of the children and the parents and softens hearts.) I checked my bag and realized I had forgotten to refill, but saw one hard candy and dug around to see if I could find a gummy one. Yess! One more apple gummy candy. Vicente saw me pass the candy, though, and started to whine, wanting one also. Usually the parents don't like hard candies for their young children, but as I reached into my bag and pulled out the candy that remained, I was surprised to see that it wasn't a hard candy. It was an orange gummy candy. I looked at it for a minute, and handed it over to Vicente. I thought about it for a moment to decide if I had just seen things wrong, but when I reached in my bag I really did see a hard candy, and it really did come out as a gummy candy.

That is a very small example, and a rather trivial one, but I was very touched. I know that the same power that Christ used to turn water into wine so long ago still exists. It  may not always be visible in our lives, but I know that He is there behind every happening in our lives. I hope we call Him in gratitude for the many blessings He puts in our lives. They really are so many. We may not always knows the 'why' or 'how', but we may always feel His love. That is our ultimate source of vision, strength, and solace. I hope that you are actively seeking it, through those basic daily habits, the renewing of your covenants, the service of your brother. I love you each and I want you to be MISSIONARIES!!!!!  Share the gospel with someone!!! God's promises to those who open their mouths to talk about the gospel are lovely and divine, and He promises them to each of you. Go get them.

I love you soooooo much!

Hermana Oldroyd

Breakfast with the President and his wife.

March 10, 2014

Ask for Help

Family and Friends!

Well, today was cambios! I'll be staying here in Collao and Hermana Call goes to Penco (where she'll be able to do mini cambios with Lirquen. Woohoo!) My new companion's name is Hermana Baturitè, who I already know really well, because she's been in my group and my zone for these last two cambios!! She is from Brazil and is honestly a very amazing person. Obviously I'm sad about losing Hna Call, and I'm going to miss her a lot, but I'm very excited to be with  Hermana Baturité. We're going to work very hard.

This week was an important one for me, for various reasons. Wednesday night as we were setting goals for the next day, I felt rather disappointed with our prospects and was suggesting very low goals- something not like me. Hermana Call listened for a moment and said "Is something wrong? This is weird for you..." and I realized she was right. Rather taken back, I tried to figure out why I had felt that way and what it was that was upsetting me, but nothing came to mind. I just felt really strange and unlike myself, and couldn't pinpoint anything. A thought crossed my mind that night as I was pondering and praying, "I could ask for a blessing." but I immediately ignored that, thinking "Nothing is even wrong, and I would feel dumb asking for a blessing when I know I'll pick myself up tomorrow and be ok. I'm the one that decides if I want to be happy, and I can fix my perspective to be ok again. I don't need to bother my leaders. "The next morning I sought in my study for answers, wondering if something was really wrong and needed to be fixed, or if I just needed to forget it and move on. I wasn't feeling an answer, and when Hermana Call went to the bathroom, I knelt to pray.

When she came back in the room and found me crying, we started talking. I expressed to her basically what I had thought the night before, and that I didn't know what the problem was but that I knew I could decide to get over it and just keep going. She looked at me like I was kind of crazy, and then just said "Remember what you said to Javiera in our lesson yesterday about grace. You have to your part, but you don't have to do everything yourself without asking for help." The next day was our Zone Conference with Elder Zeballos, from our Area Presidency. I went with all of this in mind, and the conference answered all of my questions, even the ones that I didn't know how to say.

I had it confirmed to me that I can't judge myself on a vision of what I will someday be- that is a fault I sometimes have. Shall we call it extreme optimism? I know that the Lord has given me so many opportunities and that He has such a great plan for me and each of us, and sometimes I judge myself with the view of what I will someday be. Honestly though, all the Lord wants for me is that I do the best I can right now and patiently work with others to become the person I need to be. Even if I'm doing well and seeking to help other people, I must never lose the vision that the gospel is also for ME. The resources of comfort and strength and guidance are always, and always will be, here for me. Even if I've reached a certain level of understanding of the Atonement, even if I'm able to deal with stress and manage myself in many situations, that does NOT mean that I don't need help from those around me and from my leaders. I've always been open and desirous to accept counsel, but I haven't always been good at asking for help, due to my desire not to be a burden to those who are already burdened enough.

My biggest miracle of the week was feeling the power of a personally solicited priesthood blessing- it changed everything for me. After the conference, I was going to ask my District Leader, Elder Layton, but when the time came I couldn't find him. I saw President over by the door, standing all alone, so I took a deep breath and grabbed Hermana Call and asked him if he had time to give me a blessing. We went into a back classroom and I explained my situation, and he asked me what conclusions I had felt from the Spirit during the conference, and I told him all that I had learned. Even though I felt infinitely better and felt that I knew what I needed to do and change, I still felt impressed that I should ask a blessing. He came back to me with another question- "How many times in your life have you asked for a blessing? " And I realized that I have never in my life actively sought a priesthood blessing.

I'd received them every year before school and one time when I was kinda stomach sick as a little girl, but that was more expectation and tradition.There was even another time in college when I went to ask one from my father, but he wasn't at work that day and so I just prayed and found an answer for myself. Looking back on my life and realizing that, I was shocked to find myself saying that I could not remember ever asking for a priesthood blessing. He reminded me that I must never resist the prompting to ask for a blessing, and I promised to make the change.

The blessing he gave me was very beautiful. He promised that I'd be capable of asking help from those around me, that I would be able to discern the discouraging thoughts and temptations that come from Satan, that I would be strengthened as a Sister Training Leader, and many other things. I think these cambios with Hermana Call have been all about overcoming my stubbornness and pride, and this was yet another step with that- I needed to learn to ask for help when I need it, even if I think that others need it more, or that I don`t want to be a bother, or that I'm not really that bad... etc. Excuses. It is a work in process and I know that God isn't finished with me yet- nor is He with any of you.

I wish I had time to tell you about Fernanda- she is awesome. I love each of you so much and I pray for you each day-

Hermana Oldroyd

Taught the Young Women how to make brownies. One of them even brought a friend that isn't a member! Can you say `Biggest Mutual activity of the Year?` I love those YW so much!!

Came home at the end of PDay and stuck my bombachos in the wash. Left the kitchen, came back two minutes later, and what do you think I saw? Oh boy, one of the hoses had come loose and our carpet was soaked with green water. THAT was a fun clean up job.


Companion date with burritos and guacamole and an old mission video. Kind of crazy seeing pictures from our very first zones! Fun times

March 3, 2014

One year anniversary!


I've been on the mission for more than a year! That is just a little crazy. On that day, Hermana Call and I hopped into a bakery (she always wants to do that, it is one of our little companionship jokes) and bought a piece of wedding cake for our one year anniversary. We had lunch with the Oporto family that day and pulled the cake out after, then went a little crazy with photos! The Oporto family somehow remembered that it was our year mark, too, and they had also bought us our favorite cake (Torta de Amor, it has layers of manjar, cream filling, and jam. Sooo good.) with candles and everything. They are so thoughtful.

We also went to visit one of the Relief Society sisters in the rest home on that day, and we sang and played the piano for her. She was very sweet and so were several other grandmas that came over to listen. Hermana Call and I discussed what kind of old people we want to be- she wants to die suddenly in a car crash when she is 75 years old, but I think I could be a Alzheimer grandma and live a long time, even if it was in a rest home. I'm a fairly patient person and I think I could handle diapers and the slow lifestyle- those grandmas just had such a touching spirit and we really appreciated being with them.

We gave a class to our Hermana Group about extending commitments, about the Less Active list that we have in our mission (in all of Chile now, actually), and about the Forget Me Not talk. That went well. One of our ice breakers was the "If your companion was a Disney princess, who would she be?" question, and Hermana Call said I would be Gisella, from Enchanted. Apparently I'm the innocent, world is rose colored type! haha

One of the crazy events this week was a surprise visit from Nico, Mari, Nicole and baby Erika. (Yes, it is spelled with a K. This is Latin America.) Last Monday I got a call from an unknown number, and when I picked it up, someone said "Hey! Do you know who this is?" and I knew right away- Mari! They told me they wanted to come to Conce to visit me and present their baby to me. At first they wanted to come on Sunday, because Nico had work on Monday, but I obviously can't take out work time just to visit and chat, so I told them I'd see what I could do and call them. Pondered on that a bit, and then Friday morning they called again, this time saying "We're on the bus! See you soon!" and it actually worked out perfectly. That day we had planned to be in the chapel working on the Less Active list for an hour, and then some Elders had asked us to play the piano for a musical number they`re doing in the next conference. We had our extra study our and two extra hours planned our previously to be in the chapel, so we were able to continue with plans, work, but also visit and chat with those beloved people.

Nico, Erica, Nicole, Erika, Mari (mother)

It was kinda crazy to see them again- I love them so much and was nervous to go pick them up and see them again. Baby Erika is beautiful and peaceful and so calm, and she also eats a lot. At least she takes after me in that!! They're doing alright even though there have been some difficulties in the branch, and I was so happy to hear that Nicole is going to receive a calling!! Young Womens, here we come. She was nervous and happy about it, and she promised that she`s taking care of Ana Maria.

I should start making a list- "Things I've learned from the Chilean people".  One that I pondered the most this week was the ability to love. They are so open hearted and so sincere and giving in their love, and I know I've changed after spending a year with them here. I hope that we are all loving like the Savior and serving with all our heart and might. Relief Society classes and church meetings aren't just for listening- they're to motive us to get up, get out, and go save the people that aren't here listening.

I love you all!!!

Hermana Oldroyd

Followed us all the way to the private beach.

Erica on a cambio with another sister, when she tries to step over the coffee table in between and . . .

not realizing the top is glass, sits on it and breaks it