A Week in the Life of Hermana Kimberly Brown

March 12, 2012

This is like my journal entry for the week. So it is in a lot of Spanglish. But this is what is new this week…

We went to visit Julia and before we had a chance to teach anything, she told us, “Chicas, I´m going to church on Sunday. I tried to go this Sunday, but I waited and waited for a colectivo and no colectivo came. But this Sunday sí o sí voy a ir para la cena sacramental.” I was so completely blown away–Julia, who had told us that she had made the decision not to go back to the church. I asked her why now she wanted to attend church, and she said, “Unos días atrás me llamó Margarita–me di cuenta de que me había ofendido por una tontera, y yo tengo que ir para tomar la cena sacramental.” Then we read the Book of Mormon together, from the beginning. 1 Nefi 1. She had never started reading from the beginning, and she really liked it! And I felt the Spirit in a lesson with Julia for the first time in a long time. There really are no duros para el Señor.

Later that day, we met with César and Natalia. César had prepared a delicious desert with a cracker crust and filling made of cream and strawberry mermelada. Like a frozen strawberry cheesecake. It was delicious. We were trying to teach César about the importance of the priesthood: how it had been restored, how he could be baptized by that authority, and how he could use that authority to bless his own family.

But César just wasn´t having any of it. He complained about the members, about the insincere testimonies that were borne in fast and testimony meeting, about this, about that…we just weren´t making any progress with him.

And then Natalia stood up and went into the house for a moment to see to Lorenzo. And when she did, César whispered to us, “Hermanas, yo me voy a bautizar pero necesito más o menos un mes para cambiar algunos hábitos que tengo.” We were completely floored, and did our best to control our hysterical laughter. We set a fecha with him for the 7th of March, and didn´t say a word to Natalia. I think he is keeping it a secret 10 percent to surprise her and 90 percent to be a punk.

Speaking of there being no duros para el Señor, Liliana is…coming along. The other night we had a cita with Carlos, and he failed us. As we were walking home along Avda. Independencia past Carlos´house, we saw him pull into the driveway with Liliana. Of course we were confused, and because Liliana was so mean to us the last time we tried to talk to her, we decided that it was best to just leave them alone. But they climbed out of the car, and Carlos called us over, and Liliana said, “Pasen, chicas!” and invited us in! We had a really good charla with her–she asked us questions about why we don´t drink coffee, etc. We read from 1 Corintios and explained the concept of a modern prophet who speaks to us about modern-day things. We emphasized the importance of her asking God to know for herself. We had a really great charla with her, and the Lord´s Spirit was there. She got called in to work, because she is the private secretary of the Ministra de Salud and she can get called in to work anytime. But a couple days later, we dropped off some brownies and a pretty handwritten note to her to personally invite her to Carlos´baptism.

After she had to leave, Carlos gave us a ride home, and we aprovechared the opportunity to have a very franca charla with him. We had just found out from the Hno Ledesma that Carlos´departamento had fallen through–the señora had given back his deposit and told him that she had changed her mind about renting to him because her son wanted to put a galpón there in the house. We were in a panic–it was already Tuesday night, and Carlos´baptism was on Tuesday! And he had already invited the whole world! How could we baptize a man who was conviviendo?

We talked to Carlos, and explained just how important the ley de castidad was and just how important it was that he didn´t fall into temptation after he was baptized. We found out that it had been almost a year since he and Liliana had had relaciones. And he told us about a friend of his, a man who lives in Barrio Ambato, with whom he had shared the gospel and talked about the Libro de Mormón. He told us that he wanted to go with the elders to teach his friends. “Soy un pescador de hombres, como ustedes,” he told us. I felt that my heart would burst. And I felt sick at the idea of telling Carlos that he couldn´t get baptized on Saturday.

We entered the pension, and I turned to Hna Steward and said, “Hermana, I know it seems crazy and President will say we´re crazy and it doesn´t make sense to baptize someone that is conviviendo–but I just feel that Carlos needs to get baptized this weekend. When I think about telling him that he can´t get baptized on Saturday, I get a sick and sad feeling.”

She said, “I feel the same way.” So we knelt in mighty prayer and explained our motives to the Lord and asked him to soften President´s heart so that Carlos could get baptized that weekend even though he still hadn´t found an apartment. And to my immense relief, President said yes. He said that because Carlos and Liliana hadn´t had relations for almost a year, because Carlos had promised to keep the law of chastity, and because he was still looking for a place to move, another apartment, where he could move as soon as possible, he could get baptized. Oh my goodness we were overjoyed. Carlos was really going to get baptized. The true measure of if someone is converted to the gospel or not is if they want to share and convert others–and it is evident that Carlos is really converted. He has also been sharing the gospel with Liliana, leaving his folletos laying around the house so that she picks them up and reads them, and answering her questions. There is no doubt in my mind that Carlos is truly converted and ready to be baptized.

Our last charla with Carlos was really special–we wanted to teach him about the sacerdocio, so we had left him to read Alma 13. That night was a crazy night and Hno Ledesma wasn´t available, so we just charlared with Carlos in his house (kind of sketchy–but there wasn´t another option, and anyway it was how the Lord wanted it). It turned out to be the best thing that we could have done with Carlos. He first told us that he had read the chapter three times! And in his book I could see that he had highlighted his favorite parts. He proceeded to read us the whole chapter and give us his commentary, verse by verse. It was the best thing that could have happened because he was able to give commentary of what he had learned. He was so incredibly excited–he talked about how the priesthood was eternal, and how the Lord had chosen him before he was born to receive the gospel, and how powerful and essential the atonement is in our lives, and how badly he wants to work and serve in the kingdom. It was such a beautiful moment–I knew that Carlos was more than ready and I teared up as I felt the power of his spirit. He is getting baptized at the age of fifty-one, but he is already more of a spiritual giant in the gospel and has a deeper testimony of this stuff than I do!

On Thursday Hna Steward and I had a charla franca–she talked to me about trusting in the Lord, and how…I can learn to trust him better. And also have more faith in people, and the Lord´s ability to change and help them. More hope for humanity, ha ha. So that is what this week has been all about–trying to trust the Lord better, and realizing that I can indeed put all my trust and confidence in him. Realizing that he has my back! Again and again and again this week I saw his hand in my life and in the lives of the people here. I saw him soften people´s hearts who seemed impossible. I saw him change situations and solve problems that were impossible. Nothing is impossible for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ!

So on Friday we went to charlar with Pablo Nanini, who I had long since given up on. My compie didn´t help me at all with the lesson, because she couldn´t understand what Pablo was saying. So I was on my own and Pablo was so awkward–hitting on me and saying that he would never go back to church because it wasn´t for him.

I didn´t know what to do. It seemed like a hopeless situation. But I remembered what Hannah and I had talked about. So I didn´t give up. After some awkward charlaring, and reprimanding Pablo for his flirtatious comments, I asked him to bring his Book of Mormon. And I read with him Moroni 6, and applied it directly to him. About how he had been baptized and received the Holy Ghost and now we wanted to help him and guardar him in the camino recto and how it didn´t matter if he had sinned, the Savior and repentance were still there for them, and all of the members of the church wanted to help him and be his family. When I finished Pablo sat in stunned silence. Then I asked him, “What do you think?” And he said, “I want you to teach me to read the scriptures like that. To apply them to my life like that.” I told him that of course he would. And he said that he would like to come back to church. The next day he failed the cita, but it was a start. It was a beginning. It was a miracle that the Lord was able to work through me because I was not of little faith.

So on Saturday when the elders had lost track of the key to the pileta, I refused to get worried or panicky. I was determined to enjoy that day, that moment, with Carlos. And it all worked out fine. The font got filled in time; the baptismal service turned out lovely. One of the best parts was that Liliana came, and she brought her sixteen-year-old niece! The DVD player didn´t work, so we didn´t show the DVD we were planning on. So instead the bishop took the time while everyone was changing and bore his testimony. Instead of squirm in my chair with worry like I usually do when Obispo Diaz gets on one of his rants, I relaxed and put my trust in the Lord. And later Silvina Ledesma told us that Liliana had cried all the way through the Bishop´s testimony. He had talked about finding true happiness and peace in this life. Something in the craziness of his testimony had really struck a chord with her. The Lord had touched her heart. He was in the details of that baptismal service.

David had come to the baptism too. He was able to get to know some of the members better, including Héctor.

After the baptism, the Ledesmas invited us over for an asado. It was us, Liliana, Valentina (the niece), Carlos, the Ledesmas, the hna Margarita, and Silvina´s mom Aída. It was great–Hno Ledesma and Carlos were the asadores, and it was delicious. We charlared comfortably with Liliana, and Valentina had lots of questions about the church. Carlos commented to Hna Steward, “You know, a month ago when we were charlaring here in the patio and Hna Brown asked me if I would be baptized the 3rd of March, I thought–these chicas are crazy! I thought you two were absolutely nuts! And look, here I am, the tenth of March, baptized a member of the church!”

Then Liliana found out that we have a curfew, and she started reprimanding the men for not BBQing faster so that we could get home on time. I thought it was so funny that she was the non-member and the only one concerned about getting us home on time. About halfway through the asado, the Lawsons showed up and told us that we´re staying together this transfer! Woot woot!

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Soldado de Dios

March 5, 2012

Brother,

We had a weird week of…a lot of run-ins with critters? An alacrán is a scorpion-like creature with long pincers at the front. It is venomous and found in the deserts of Catamarca, and in the sister missionaries´ pensión because we live next to an empty lot where all the neighbors throw trash and so all manner of creatures find their way into our pensión.

This week Hna Steward got stung by an alacrán! We went to the guardia, the free public hospital (everything in Argentina is free and public—hospitals, universities, housing…). The doctor who attended us didn´t even look at Hna Steward´s skin (which was breaking out in huge peso-sized lumps and a weird rash), but instead shamelessly hit on us. When we told him that we were missionaries de la Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Ultimos Días, he proceeded to warn us about “los Mormones,” who pretend to be missionaries but are actually U.S. government spies who gather information about the poor class of people, because the poor people don´t know any better but to answer their questions. It´s always funny to tell them that we´re the Mormons.

So that was sketchy Argentine hospital round one. Between Hna Zabala´s eye surgery, Hna Adair´s dog bite, and Hna Master´s tendonitis and subsequent physical therapy, I have gotten pretty good at managing Argentine hospitals. So I decided just to take Hna Steward to the nicest sanatorio in Capital, and we got better service there (the médico there only asked a few creepy questions, which is pretty good for an Argentine man). The diagnosis was that Hna Steward was having a severe allergic reaction to the alacrán venom, so she needed a shot. What I understood, but got lost in translation for Hna Steward, was that the shot had to be in her bum. When I broke the news to her she busted out into uncontrollable laughter, which continued all through the administration of the shot and the bus ride home. She was a way good sport about it. When we got home I made her a bread pudding (budín de pan) while she slept it off. Poor traumatized compie.

Also, the other night I got up to go to the bathroom. The bathroom door was open a crack; I reached in and flipped on the light and waited a minute to give the cucarachas a chance to scatter, like I always do. Then as I opened the door and walked in—I felt something land on my head! It had fallen from the door frame or the ceiling above! I reached up and flicked it off, and a six-inch long lizard landed on the tile floor. I then spent about twenty minutes trying to catch it to throw it outside, without success. In the morning it was gone. I think it crawled down the shower drain.

Remember the crazy cucaracha house I moved into when I first arrived in Catamarca? We did the service project of helping to clean it out. It was really gross and surprisingly fun. The oldest daughter Bianca (who dreams of going to BYU, and who I promised to invite over for Christmas and drive around whenever she needs a ride) blasted her “cool” American music—Avril Lavigne and Justin Bieber, while we all cleaned and swept and scrubbed everything.

Okay enough about gross bugs and critters. Once in a while we actually do missionary work too.

Our incredible investigator Carlos Verandi came to our pensión to fix our calefón so that we wouldn´t die of a gas leak. We offered to pay him, but he insisted on doing the work for free. I can hardly believe he is getting baptized on Saturday! He participated with great comments and insights in the Principios del Evangelio class, and afterward I overheard him talking to someone about how excited he was to be a member and be able to work in the kingdom. He said, “You know, in the world I´m not worth much—once you´re over forty, no one wants to hire you because you´re too old. But here in the kingdom of God, I´m fifty-one and I´m still worth something. I can still be a good soldado de Dios, a soldier of God.”

Carlos has had to make a lot of changes in his life—including separating from his live-in girlfriend, his pareja, and quitting smoking to be baptized. I think the happiest people of all are Nildo and Silvina Ledesma, his good friends who introduced him to us. They´re so happy that their friend and neighbor of eleven years is finally going to be part of the church they love. The joy of teaching Carlos has been worth all the difficulties, including putting up with Nildo Ledesma´s jokes about how all women need to learn their place in the creation. My rebuttal is usually, “¿Porque Dios creó a Adán y después Eva?” Why did God create Adam and then afterward Eve? “¡Para tener un borrador!” To have a rough draft!

I can´t believe I´ve lived in Argentina for a year! I think this has been the greatest year of my life (and craziest, for sure). It really blows my mind that the Lord lets people as imperfect as me participate and help out in his work of salvation. My testimony of the Lord´s power in our lives has grown so much. In the past two weeks I have seen him work so many miracles in the lives of my investigators—twenty-year-old David was able to quit smoking and gain a testimony of the Restoration. Natalia and César were able to put aside their differences and their history and decide to get married and form a family together. Carlos was able to separate from his antagonistic pareja Liliana. This is the Lord´s work, no question.

Love you kid.


Love,
Kimberly

Paul and Alma

January 9, 2012

I have been thinking a lot lately about Paul and Alma, and what great men they were and how many uncanny similarities there are in their lives and missions. Both passionate persecutors of the saints of God, both called to repentance by miraculous apparitions (by the Lord and by an angel, respectively), both spent all the days of the rest of their lives trying to repair the wrong they had done and defending the cause of truth with every fiber of their being. Both journeyed all around the known world on multiple missionary journeys to the nonbelievers (Gentiles, and Lamanites), while still keeping the church in line at home. Both writers of a significant chunk of the standard works. (The book of Alma is huge! And so is the chunk of the New Testament that Paul wrote.) Where would we be without these two great men?

Feels like home to me

December 12, 2011

Catamarca feels like home to me. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. This week was the happiest week of my life.

The Savior walked by my side this week. I felt his love and my Heavenly Father’s love in every moment.

Catamarca is bordered by the huge Ancasti mountain range on one side, and the even more impressive Ambato range on the other. Two weeks ago we were on our way out into the foothills of the Ambato, looking for a woman we had contacted while she was waiting for a bus. We didn’t find that woman, but out among the cactus nestled in the dry hills was a small cinderblock house with a man perched on top repairing the roof. His name was Francisco. After talking with him for a few minutes, he called his wife Silvina out to meet us, and they invited us in. The house was tiny–one room that served as the kitchen, dining room, and bedroom for them and their two kids, Enrique and Maria Pia. Francisco’s arms were covered with crazy tattooes. Silvina is the most beautiful woman I’ve eve seen, with eyes that seem to be peering into your very soul. We talked like we were old friends–we all said that we felt as though we had known one another before.

Yesterday Silvina and twelve-year-old Enrique came to church for the first time. In Principios del Evangelio, we learned together about the plan of salvation and Enrique proudly answered all the teacher’s questions and participated in the discussion. Then last night we went back to their house on the hills, and invited Francisco and Silvina to get married in preparation to be baptized. They said that they would pray and ask God about it.

It was Maria Pia’s seventh birthday, so we all headed over to Silvina’s mom’s house down in the barrio Banda de Varela, Silvina saluting all of the neighbors on our way. I asked Silvina’s mom Teresa to teach me how to make her homemade tapas for empanadas (the majority of Argentines just buy their tapas from the super). She showed me how to knead and form the dough, and the little miniature beef and potato empanadas that came out were some of the best I’ve ever eaten! The house was full of tios and primos and tioabuelos coming and going. We met all of them, and they were all so kind to us.

Norma is progressing, too. She’s had a really rocky relationship with her marido for several years, so it was easy for her to make the decision that she needed to separate from him in order to be baptized. But it was one thing to make the decision, and another thing to actually carry it out. We fasted with her for her to have the strength to make him leave the house that was in her name.

On Tuesday night on our way back from our Christmas zone conference in Cordoba, I called Norma to see how she was doing. “Tengo una noticia,” she told us. “He left. He left on Sunday. I came back from work and he wasn’t there.” I couldn’t believe it–I almost squealed with delight. She wouldn’t have to go through the agony of forcing him out of the house, calling the police–he had just left! It was a miracle!

And then the last time we were at Norma’s house, her daughter Estefania shyly told us, “I’m going to try going to church with you. My mom said that I would like it–that everyone’s really friendly. And the verduleria hasn’t been doing well lately. I’m going to try what you said–closing the business on Sunday to see it prosper more during the week.” After weeks of trying, we had all but given up on the hope that Estefania would choose to come to church. But she came yesterday with Norma.

The Christmas zone conference was a delight. I had suggested to Hermana Salas that we do a Christmas talent show, so Hermana Adair and I sang our musical number and then we watched the elders sing all their goofy renditions of Christmas hymns, and we all laughed until our stomachs hurt. Then we heard a loud bellowing “HO HO HO!” and President Salas came in with a Santa costume over his mission suit, towing two Correo Argentino (Argentine postal service) bags that were almost taller than he was. They were all our Christmas packages! The conference was great–we played games, ate choripan, and enjoyed seeing the President and the Hermana. But of course the best part of it all was seeing Mom’s handwriting on my Christmas package. I cried when I read the little kids’ letters, and even more when I read hers.

Last night I was walking home and the sky was all lit up like fire. From up in the foothills it was like we were looking straight into the clouds, we were up so high. They were glowing golden-orange, as though it were the Second Coming. It was though I could really feel Heavenly Father looking down on me. I could feel his love in everything this week, and most of all I could feel his love in his sending his son for me. My Savior Jesus Christ, my best friend. My older brother who looks out for me and gets me out of every scrape I’ve ever gotten into.

He and Heavenly Father are always there for me to talk to when there’s absolutely no one else. All those sleepless nights crying myself to sleep from loneliness and fear on the mission; all those sins that have racked my soul and brought me to my knees to plead for hope and help and forgiveness; all those mean rejections on the street or at people’s doors. And all the good moments too. All the beautiful sunsets, like a present from them to let me know that I’m loved. All those times I felt the fire of the Spirit in my soul as I testified of them and their restored gospel. Every time I saw the nervous smile of one of my brothers and sisters all dressed in white as they stepped down into the waters of the baptismal font. All the Sunday mornings when someone miraculously made it to church. Every homesick ache I’ve felt in my soul as I see my baby sisters growing and changing in the photos Mom sends from home. All the nerve-wracking but exhilarating moments when I step into a new investigator’s home, heart-pounding, not knowing what I’m going to say or how they’re going to respond, but knowing that the Spirit is going to guide my words (a far greater adrenaline rush than any roller coaster I’ve ever ridden or ever mountain I’ve ever climbed!). In every moment they were there. They were there for me. Sometimes they let me struggle for a while, to help me learn to be stronger. But they were there.

I know the Savior lives. I love being one of his missionaries. For “the veil was taken from my mind, and the eyes of my understanding were opened. I saw the Lord…his eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, saying:

I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father.”

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

God is still a god of miracles.

December 5, 2011

God is still a god of miracles. I know that because I left General Paz
with a lot of tears–a lot of bittersweet tears, sad to leave members
I loved like family not knowing when I would see them again, and also
sad about Patricia. Patricia, our dearly beloved investigator, hadn’t
arrived at her baptismal date because of a lot of complications and
her inability to quit smoking. The whole thing went up in flames
literally an hour before her scheduled baptismal service–the font was
filled and everything.

So I went to Rosedal, another barrio on the other side of Cordoba, to
work with another hermana for about ten days while we waited for our
hijitas to arrive from the U.S. (they had been delayed because of visa
problems). Near the end of the ten days, I got a call from my old zone
leaders. “We have good news,” they told me. “Patricia quit smoking and
we interviewed her today–she’s ready to be baptized. Will you
organize her baptism?”

So from the other side of Cordoba I flew into action, baking brownies
and calling the members and planning the talks and the service.
Although it was thrown together in about twenty-four hours, it was one
of the most beautiful baptismal services I’ve been part of, mostly
because of the look of pure bliss on Patricia’s face.

A few short hours after Patricia’s baptism, I picked up my new
recruit, Hermana Vicki Adair from Mesa, Arizona, at the mission home.
We boarded a midnight bus to Catamarca, about seven hours to the
north. We arrived in Catamarca on Sunday morning and hit the ground
running. We are opening an area in Catamarca, and we are the first
hermanas here in almost twenty years. Add to the mix the fact that my
compañera was brand-new from the U.S. and spoke little Spanish, and it
made for a few…character-building weeks. 🙂 We’ve gotten lost in our
area a lot and we’ve been so exhausted by the long dusty days and the
Catamarca desert heat.

But the Lord has been really kind to us, and we’ve been able to find
some truly elect people here in Catamarca. One such is Norma, who knew
that Joseph Smith was a prophet the first time she prayed and is so
determined to get baptized that she is in the process of separating
from her live-in boyfriend of eight years to be able to do so.
Francisco and Silvina are two others who we surely knew in the life
before. We first talked to them one windy afternoon outside their tiny
cinder-block house up in the cactus-covered hills; they let us come in
that very moment and we instantly fell in love with their young
family.

I see the Lord’s hand in my life; and I know that the difficult times
will only help me to become more like him. I feel such a profound love
for these people. I know that they are my spirit brothers and sisters
and that before this life I made a covenant with the Lord that during
my mortal life I would do his work, missionary work, the work of
bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of His spirit
children. I want to keep doing this work for the rest of my life.

Another Update

I hope you all watched conference and especially the part in the Saturday morning session when they talked about the saints in Cordoba, Argentina! Logan, way to rock the priesthood session. I thought it was cool that Orson F. Whitney was quoted several times. Conference here was a great experience–on Saturday there was no transportation so we caught this city bus with our recent convert Veronica and spent about an hour riding on the bus and then running through the streets of Cordoba to make it to our stake center on time. Sunday was even better–everyone from our little ward piled onto this rickety old bus and we all drove together to conference; then in between sessions all the families were drinking mate and eating their picnic lunches (of sandwich de miga, mostly) and then during the afternoon session there was this ridiculous rain storm and the satellite went out. It was a great time. And the messages were all good too, ha ha.

As a missionary I see miracles every day, and it helps me to know that we are all in the Lord´s hands. Several weeks ago we were teaching Veronica and I noticed that she seemed really upset. I asked, ¨Veronica, is everything okay?¨and she explained that because she had been out of work for nearly three months after being laid off from her job as a hospital waitress, she and her mom were going to be evicted from the house where she lived. She asked why we had to go through such difficult things in this life. I thought really hard for a moment and then told her about the promises that the Lord gives in Isaiah 58–that he is bound to answer our prayers when we pray in fast in faith. We planned to fast all together and I promised her in the name of the Lord that something would come up (intimidating!). Then we all fasted and held our breath, ha ha.

Then a few days ago we were going to teach a new investigator and we asked Veronica to accompany us to the lesson. But our cita (appointment) before went really late–we were 45 minutes late to meet up with Veronica and teach the other woman! When we finally got to the cita, the woman was their with her consuegra (the other grandma of her grandbaby) and wasn´t sure if she could attend us because she had company, but decided to anyway. We had a great lesson with them, and after the lesson we were all talking and the consuegra, Gloria, just happened to start talking about the hospital where her daughter-in-law worked. It turned out that the hospital was hiring waitresses! So Gloria gave Veronica her daughter´s name and the information she needed to inquire about the position. What if we had been on time to that appointment? Gloria might not have been there! What if we hadn´t brought Veronica with us to teach? She might not have heard about the job! And we had another lesson with Gloria and she committed to be baptized later this month!

Another miracle was with the family Peralta. They are this awesome family we taught but then weren´t able to find after that–whenever we went over they wouldn´t answer the door and we were afraid that the testigos de Jehovah had gotten to them or something weird like that. But one day we went to eat lunch at a member´s house but the member family forgot so we were walking back to the pension to cook something. We just happened to run into…Roberto Peralta! He told us that they would like to meet with us again and that his wife had been very sick. So we were able to get in contact with the Peraltas again thanks to our canceled lunch.

And one of the coolest investigators we have right now is Sol. We contacted her on the street–she had funky pretty tattooes on each arm and her shirt off her shoulders and a don´t-mess-with-me look in her eye. She said that she wasn´t sure whether or not she believed in God, but it was funny how she talked about life having a purpose, using the same words I often use in contacting: ¨Life has a purpose; we´re not just here to be born, work, sleep, eat, and die.¨ When I testified to her that the purpose of life was to become like Heavenly Father, the Spirit bore witness that that was true. And it changed her–she no longer had that hard look in her eye, and she was more receptive. We told her that she could pray to know these things for herself because God was her loving Heavenly Father who knew and loved her perfectly. ¨Voy a probarlo,¨ she said (I´m going to try it), beforewe had even invited her to pray. Ï´m going to try it tonight.¨ Then she volunteered her address, ¨so that you can come back and see how it went.¨ What!

Our second lesson with Sol was just as powerful. We asked her how her prayer went. She said that the first time she prayed it had been pouring rain and she said, ¨God, if you´re there and you´re listening to my prayer, stop the rain,¨ and instantly the rain went from a downpour to a drizzle–it nearly stopped. She told us she had been praying every day since then. Then she had all kinds of questions, from everything to tattooes to the law of chastity. But the best part was when we gave her a Book of Mormon. Her eyes got all big and she held it close to her like it were some kind of treasure (it is, of course), and she asked, ¨Where do I start?¨ I know that she will get baptized because she has such a desire to know and because she acts upon what she is given.

Other random things about Argentina/my life in Argentina:

I wash all my laundry in a bucket.

Theft is a huge problem here. All the missionaries have been robbed at one point or another. It is not uncommon that we´ll lose contact with an investigator or member only to find out the next week that their cell phone was robbed. Robbery is common during the day, during the siesta when there aren´t many people out on the street. The first robbery I witnessed here was a couple weeks ago. We heard this woman screaming and then we got closer and saw two young men speeding away on a moto with a handbag. When we got to where the woman was she was crying and bleeding all over the street from where her arm had been cut in the struggle. She was in her fifties or sixties, Grandma age! So needless to say, we only carry a few pamphlets and a Book of Mormon to give away when we´re proselyting. Too many missionaries have had their precious mission scriptures stolen. Also, because of theft and lack of space, everyone here keeps their dogs on their roofs. It´s kind of funny.

So I told you about the cockroach in the canelone incident. But it gets grosser. My companion got lice (lots of people have lice here, and we have to saludar everyone with besitos), and we´ve had to comb through her scalp several times to try to get them out. And we found these little parasitic worms in our shower. Eew!

I helped out with one flier for a ward activity and now everyone–Young Single Adults, the Elders´ Quorum president–asks me to draw fliers for activities. I´m happy to oblige them during my personal time because it feeds my creative soul.

Argentina´s government is really inefficient, so it makes missionary work difficult. No one can get baptized until they get married. Getting married is an ordeal because you have to show up at 6:00 AM at a government office and sacar turno, or draw a ticket, to get married. But if you´re waiting for a dirvorce from a previous marriage, forget about it. Several families we are working with have been waiting for divorces for YEARS to get married. One man we are working with, Gerardo, has been waiting for seven years!

I make my companion wake up at 6:00 to go running with me in the mornings. I wanted to go every day but we have compromised on three times a week. We live down the street from an awesome bakery so sometimes we grab fresh pastries on our way back from our run. Yummy breakfast.

I feel like I died and went to food heaven. I have eaten the best croissants, pastries, and Italian pizza (Napolitana style) I´ve ever eaten in my life. And I am learning to like French fries, believe it or not (I´ve eaten them three times since I got here!).

I saw my first real Cordoba rain storm. Oh my goodness! It was like buckets poured from the sky! And the streets all turned to rivers!

I love you all and I hope you are well. I think of you, pray for you, miss you every day.

Love,

Kimberly

Called to Serve!

Dear Sister Brown:

You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Argentina Córdoba Mission. It is anticipated that you will serve for a period of 18 months.

You should report to the Provo Missionary Training Center on Wednesday, December 29, 2010. You will prepare to preach the gospel in the Spanish language.

Your purpose will be to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel though faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. As you serve with all your heart, might, and strength, the Lord will lead you to those who are prepared to be baptized.

Greater blessings and more happiness than you have yet experienced await you as you humbly and prayerfully serve the Lord in this labor of love among His children. We place our confidence and pray that the Lord will help you become an effective missionary.

Sincerely,

President Thomas S. Monson

God’s Grandeur

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

-Gerard Manley Hopkins

Gratitude

I am blessed beyond what I can express in words. On this Sunday evening, I’d like to list just a few of the many things that make life amazing for me:

1. My Savior and the atonement that he performed for us. It astounds me that the atonement was planned and prepared before the world was even created–from the very foundation of human existence.

2. Love. The love in my family, the love I feel for good friends like Alecia, and my best-friend-brother Logan, and the love I feel from ancestors who I have never even met in this lifetime.

3. Good music. Regina Spektor, Josh Turner, Paul Simon, Kalai, Ingrid Michaelson, Jack Johnson…okay, music may be a distraction (obsession?) for me lately, but what an enjoyable one!

4. My Aunt Monica and my Uncle Kyle. I enjoy their company every time they come over, and they’re always helping someone out or doing a project for someone.

5. The way the light falls on the mountains where I live. Sunrise or sunset, I truly live in the most beautiful place in the world.

Okay, that’s all I have time for. I’m going to go read a chapter of The Horse and His Boy to my little brothers. Oh, and I’m grateful for C.S. Lewis. And my baby sister Julia. And crochet. And blogging. And musical theater. And Saturday morning runs. And okay I really have to go now.

🙂