Monday, May 25, 2015

Dear Family,

Thank you all so much for the birthday wishes... I feel kind of old. Wow I cant believe we past Mothers Day, 9 month mark, and birthday all in 1 month... 

This month is coming to an end. One week left and we are in June. It has gone by way too fast. This last week we had some awesome experiences that I would love to share with yall.

First of all, yesterday after church we went to visit an investigator, when we left her house, her dog started following us... and kept following us... all the way to the other side of our area. It came to a point when he was actually lost so he just kept following us, when we visited people he would just wait outside the door until we left and then just keep following us. One sister wanted us to go with her to do visiting teaching, so we walked to her house, got in the car, and she started driving... but the dog started chasing the car. We told the member so that she would stop and we could do something with the dog, but she just kept driving! and the dog got lost... it was aweful. She dropped us off at our dinner appointment and when she got home she called us and told us that the dog was there at her house, it was POORING rain at the time so she said that she would take care of it until the morning and we could stop by and pick him up, but that she wouldnt be there. This morning we got up and went to her house... and no dog. We called her and she said that he was there when she left for work, but that he might have ran out when her sister left... so as of right now we have lost our investigators dog... it really sucks. We dont know what we are going to do if he doesnt return to her house.

We recently found a young man that the sisters had taught about a year ago. He is friends with all of the young men and knows practically everyone in the church. We had our first lesson with him and decided to start over with the lessons and teach the Restoration. When we started talking about it, he said that he had never heard about it before, so we taught it to him. The spirit was super strong in that lesson and after I asked him if he had recieved an answer to know if the church is true, and he said that he had received his answer and that he knows it is true. It was such a special moment for all of us. His family is Catholic and he doesnt have their support, so we have to wait for him to recieve permission from his mom to be baptized because he is 17... FUTURE MISSIONARY! It was so wonderful to hear him say that he knew it was true and that he wants to be baptized. The way someone changes when they accept the gospel is incredible, its a testimony in itself that this gospel is true.

I got to go to the temple on Saturday. It was the best b-day present I could have recieved. It was just filled with peace. I went in just wanting to talk to God. I talked to him about my mission so far, the things I had accomplished and the things I still want to accomplish. I thanked him for his hand in my life. I asked for guidance and support.I read the Bible (it was in english). My comp was awesome she said we could stay as long as I wanted, so we literally stayed there until they kicked us out. I had one moment during the session when I thought about how I have to go to the temple with yall when you come down here, then I laughed to myself thinking how my dad would do in a spanish session... itll be great. 

After the temple my companion took me to dairy queen for some ice cream... it was super sweet of her!

I have heard my whole life that the morning prayer should be thanks to God for another day of life. So, I decided I would put it to the test. Every morning, for the past couple months, I have said prayers of only thanksgiving. It is amazing how it has affected my days. I notice miracles a lot more. I feel the spirit more. I realize how much he has given me.

I am so grateful for yall. I am so grateful for the support you have given me. I hope that each one of you are doing well and are growing spiritually. I hope yall have a great week! 

Love, Hermana Eardley

P.S. The mission was paying a lot of money to recieve packages that contained food, so now, if we recieve a package with food, they take that money out of our account. Please do not send me food. I would rather have the 20 dollars for grocery shopping than for a package full of candy. Thank you.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Dear Family,

First, I realized why we are only 1 hour different now! Yall are in daylight savings time and that doesnt exist in Panama... mystery solved.

This week was a little weird. The rain has started in Panama which means I am going to be wet for the next couple months... Its like buckets everyday. Its pretty great, except my feet... I am not a fan of walking around in wet shoes. 

I am not sure if I have told you, but the beach is part of our area so we go there every wednesday to contact people. We have found 2 families down there! Its really a different world and everyone is related... so people see us and know that we dont belong there. At least it makes it easier to contact people because they always ask us what we are doing there. 

The last week we contacted someone who seemed super positive and wanted to know what happens after this life. We put an appointment with him for this last Thursday. When we got there he was super happy to see us but his "wife" didnt want to come talk to us. He actually made her come out and talk with us. So we started talking about the "after-life" and the plan of Salvation. He was absorbing everything we said, but she looked really skeptical and had a lot of opinions. We taught, but afterwards we testified of what we had said and the Plan of Redemption that God had created for us and afterwards the "wife" (Kelly) turned to her "husband" (Felix) and said, "What they said is true, its all true" It was such a powerful moment and we could all feel the spirit in that moment. It just filled the room. I could see their faces change and I could feel the spirit testifying to them of the things that we had said. It was really a wonderful moment.

We have been teaching a girl named Janette who is dating a less active member. I dont know why, but I have felt such a strong need to work with the less actives this transfer. Anyways, we have been talking to him a lot and this week he told us why he wasnt going to church aside from the fact that he works.. I felt so relieved that he knew he could confide in us and now we can start working with him and helping him. 

We had a sister move into the branch this last week so we went with the branch President to visit her. She was thrilled and told us that she had been feeling really alone and lost. When we invited her to visit with us she started to cry. She is such a strong member, but it made me reflect on what would have happened if no one had visited her or helped her know where the church was? It is so important that we support one another, because we never know what would have happened if we hadnt done our part. When I was reflecting on that, it reminded me of you, Grandma Eardley, and that story you told me of your visiting teacher and how one visit made a huge difference in your life, then I may have gotten teary thinking what might have happened if that lady had never stopped by. We need to support one another. 

Yesterday we saw a couple in the chapel that we hadnt seen before, so obviously we started talking to them and the woman is a member and the man is not. We set an appointment with them for that afternoon and stopped by. She is pregnant and they arent married, but their goal is to be sealed in the temple for time and all eternity. They both work in Panama City so the only day we can visit them is Sunday, but we are super excited to start teaching them (especially the man (Edwardo)) and to help them reach their goal of having an eternal family.

There have been a couple deaths in the families here and its sad when we visit them and listen to their stories of their family members and how much they miss them, but I have found that one scripture seems to help them more then the rest. Alma 40:11-12, (11) Now, concerning the state of the soul between death and the resurrection -- Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home the that God who gave them life. (12) And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are recieved into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow.  
I think that there is a lot of peace to be found in the Book of Mormon. God can more easily touch our hearts and our spirits when we read it. I am grateful for all of the peace that the Book of Mormon has given me, and all of the counsel God has given me through it.

We are starting to see a lot of seeds being planted and are hoping that we will be here to see them grow in the truth of the gospel. I am so grateful for all that the Lord has done for me and is doing for me. Thank you so much for your support and your prayers. I love yall so much.

Love, Hermana Eardley

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Happy Mothers Day

I ate this

Panama Canal

Traveling and red hair
Dear Family,

So, this letter is going to be super short because I got to talk to yall yesterday.

I just wanted to let yall know how wonderful it was to see you and talk for a bit. I know I got all emotional for a bit, but yall can be certain that I am as happy as Sheldon was when he got a signed napkin. This mission is hard, but totally worth it. 

I just wanted to share a scripture with yall. I am not sure if I have shared it before, but its one of my absolute favorites. Its D&C 50:40-44.

"(40) Behold, ye are little children and ye cannot bear all things now; ye must grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth. 
(41) Fear not, little children, for you are mine, and I have overcome the world, and you are of them that my Father hath given me; 
(42) And none of them that my Father hath given me shall be lost. 
(43) And the Father and I are one. I am in the Father and the Father in me; and inasmuch as ye have received me, ye are in me and I in you. 
(44) Wherefore, I am in your midst, and I am the good shepherd, and the stone of Israel. He that buildeth upon this rock shall never fall."

I know the Lord is strengthening us through our trials, and he is always protecting us. He has sacrificed himself so that we could have eternal life. We must be doing our part, we must make Christ our foundation, then he has promised us that we will never fall, never be left alone, never be lost. I love this scripture so much. Everything he does is because he loves us, now we should make sure that everything we do, we do because we love him. 

I love yall so much! I loved getting to talk to everyone and see your faces. I am always praying for you. I hope you have a wonderful week!

Love, Hermana Eardley

P.S. I am sending the picture of the fish that I ate...

Monday, May 4, 2015

Mayo!! La Chorrera

Hey yall! How is it going?

So, I got transferred to an area called "Altos de San Francisco" that is in Chorrera. I am a lot closer to the city than I was before and its pretty different. My companion is Hermana Villanueva and she is from Mexico. She has 7 months in the mission so its actually really fun because we have close to the same time and we are on the same page. She is super sweet and we get along really well. She speaks English too which is awesome. 

When I got to my area it was pretty dead. She had had two companions who were finishing their missions and they hadnt done anything. We have 1 investigator. and she doesnt know the members, and she has only worked in one part of our area... there are like 5, and one of them is the beach. Needless to say, we have a lot of work to do. I got to the area Wednesday morning and that afternoon her previous companion, Hermana Stucki, left for the city because the next day she was heading home, then we had our Zone Meeting, then we went and met who we thought was the Ward Mission Leader, but turns out he was released and less active. From there we went and I got to meet our only investigator, who is 16, living with a 22 year old boyfriend who is a less active member... so that will be fun. 

Thursday we met with our Branch President to find out his goals for the Branch and what he wants from us, that went really well. We also went and explored a new part of our area that she had never been too and we found a recent convert there. Its a big area, but we put an appointment with her so she could introduce us to the people she knows who live there. On Friday we had a service project in another area in the zone. We helped cook and construct a roof. Then we did weekly planning which didnt take long at all because we only had like 5 people to plan for, then we went out and contacted two references that a member had given us and he was able to come with us. One is really positive, the other no. That night we had a talent show in another area of the zone and they asked us to help and participate. It was super fun! I got to talk with everyone and although almost no one was from our area, it was still really fun. 

Saturday was insane! We went and visited all of the less active families that President Ruiz (Branch President) had given us to visit.. SO MANY PEOPLE. What was weird for me is that we went to visit them and they were all like.. "oh there are new missionaries" then I would say, "yeah I got here Wednesday" then they would look at my companion and ask, "you too?" and she would say, "no I have been here for 3 months" ..... awkward. Also, maybe this is just a personal opinion that I have, but I have mixed feelings about less actives because it makes me so sad to see people who have fallen away from the church, but I also love to teach them because they know what they should be doing and its so easy to tell them, "you need to repent, what would Heavenly Father say if He was here right now?" Obviously I dont say that exactly, many times I say things much more direct, but its because they have gotten lazy and I have a very small tolerance for laziness when it effects your salvation, especially because as the missionary, it affects my salvation as well if I dont say anything.

Sunday was "Game Day" I was able to say hi to everyone and get to know them. We had zero investigators at church, and one recent convert (the one we had found in the "new" area), but the less actives that we had visited the day before also came. I was told that our numbers were really low this last Sunday, that normally we have 80ish people, but this last week we had 69. It was also fast Sunday and the Branch President asked me to bear my testimony which hopefully means that I am gaining a little bit of trust from him, also he invited us to the meeting after church to talk about the area and missionary work and what it is that we need to do to get this area going. We also recieved a new mission leader! After church President and his wife took us around the majority of our area in his car helping us get to know the members and the area and where our new mission leader lives. It was really great! 

This area is super slow, but the members seem to be a little more animated and ready to help, especially President Ruiz. I am so excited to hit the ground running in this area! I have no idea what we will be able to accomplish in this transfer, but I have a really good feeling about it. I loved Volcan, and I definitely didnt want to leave, but I think I was starting to get a little too comfortable there... and the Lord doesnt like it when we are comfortable. When that happens, we start to drift. I actually feel a little relief to have a new companion as well. 

I know that there are a lot of miracles just waiting to be discovered here. One great thing about the fact that this area hasnt had working missionaries in awhile is that there are a lot of undiscovered people who are ready to recieve the gospel.

Hermano Porfirio was confirmed yesterday in Volcan as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints! I wasnt able to be there, but I am just so happy to know that he is able and preparing to enter the temple here soon.

I hope yall have a wonderful week! OH! Duh! How could I forget? So we asked President Ruiz where we could go to skype and he said that we could set up the computer and TV in the chapel so, I am not quite positive of the time... super sorry, but we will see because we have a meeting after church and a family is giving us lunch, so it will probably be around 2pm... maybe.. which is 12pm for yall... and I hope that you wont be in church... but what sucks is that I wont be able to have contact with yall again until that time... so I cant confirm anything... so I am going to say that I will be skyping between the hours of 12:30 and 2pm. which, so sorry, is between the hours of 10:30 and 12pm for yall... sorry, really there is nothing I can do about it. 

Have a wonderful week! I am always praying for yall and I hope that everyone is doing good! if you need to talk I am here every Monday (hours vary). I love my mission so much! This is one of the most challenging things I have ever done and I am loving every second of it... most of the time. I love you all! You are in my prayers.

Love, Hermana Eardley