Monday, July 27, 2015

Transfers and Pioneer Day

Dear Family,

So, we had transfers... I didnt, but Hermana Villanueva got transfered to Arraijan. We seriously cried for 2 days. Our members cried. Our investigators didn't, but they were sad. She was the best companion that I have had in the mission and I seriously love her with all my heart. We got along so well. We taught together so well. We helped eachother and just understood eachother perfectly... I think yall get the picture. Granted, there were things she did that I didnt like, and I did things she didnt like, but we were able to get over it really fast. I will seriously miss her. 

My new companion is Hermana Garcia from Guatemala. Yeah, I get another Guatemalteca.. I was super nervous when I heard she was from Guatemala because I didnt get along with Hermana Ramirez very well... my Trnew companion is like a little kid. Seriously. I am not kidding. I feel like her mother. She thinks the simplest things are SO interesting. When we go to members houses, she plays with the kids. She is super sweet and innocent. She is a good missionary too. She isnt shy and she is direct like me when she teaches. The Guatemala culture is still prominent in her way of being, and I thank the Lord everyday that he didnt send me there, but she isnt super prideful like others that I have met. She does have a tendency to interrupt me during the lessons and I dont like that at all and we are going to work on it. She has 6 months in the mission, and this is her second area. She was in Tocumen before and that area is very different than Chorrera. She has an amazing memory which I envy a little bit, but thats because I get my memory skills from my mom... right mom? Nah, just kidding, sort of. I have a feeling that we are going to get along this transfer.. and I am sure that we are going to have a lot of success. Wish me luck.

This week we had an activity for Pioneer Day. Everyone dressed up as pioneers and it was just SO CUTE! (I didnt take photos because I was busy helping with the activity (We had a play and I was in it) and I regret it just as much as yall do). It seriously was the closest I have felt to home since I got to Panamá. I felt like I was back in time with my ancestors... it was really cool. A member made us Pioneer costumes and everything! Everyone said I looked the most like a Pioneer, but thats just because I am white (or at least that is what they think... but they dont see my tan lines). 

I was thinking this week about how much God loves us. Everything He has given us, and how much I owe him for my blessings that I have recieved. I have an amazing family that loves and supports me, and I them, I have the gospel in my life and even the blessing to have had it since birth, I have this wonderful opportunity to serve my brothers and sisters in the beautiful country of Panamá, and most importantly, I have His love, and my Saviors love, and the promise that I will live with them for eternity. I have the Atonement so that I can be forgiven of my sins. I started reflecting on it all... every tree, rock, person is all Gods, but he gave us everything he had. I owe him everything, and I will never be able to pay it. Can yall believe that people have started telling me, "When do you go home?" "February" "Oh yeah your done"!!! Can you believe it? My point is it doesnt get to me, because I know that once a missionary, always a missionary. My life literally belongs to my Heavenly Father and I know that I have to give it all. I want to give it all. I love my Heavenly Father more than anything. 

I love yall so much! I hope that yall can feel how much I love you even though I am a little far away. 

Have a great week! 

Love, Hermana Eardley

Monday, July 20, 2015

Ups and Downs

Dear family,

This week was really up and down for us. I have to be honest it definitely wasnt one of the funnest weeks of my mission. It started out really bad... Tuesday started off normal. We had a good lesson with a less active at 11, then our lunch cancelled so we went and visited an investigator. While we were waiting for her to come back with her Book of Mormon, I was looking out the window and saw a little boy (7yrs) get hit by a car. Everyone started screaming and running to help. Thats the thing that sucks about Panamá, there arent ambulances or even a number for emergencies... if you dont have a way to get to the hospital, you die. "Luckily" the car that hit him was a taxi. His grandma and him got in and headed to the hospital. In the moment he was completely unrespoinsive, but for everyone to know, we passed by the next day and he is going to be okay.

After that we were feeling a little down, so we decided to go visit our super positive investigator Roysel who was going to be baptized this last week... in that lesson, I dont know how it came up, but he confessed to us that he has some major problems with the law of chastity... and that he cant be baptized. So, that sucked. Granted, we are working with him and we have put a new baptism date and he is improving immensely. But, it did suck. After that we decided to go visit our most positive family that we were teaching... can yall guess what happened? We sat down, said the prayer, and then the hermana looked at us and told us that she wasnt going to change churches and neither was her husband and that they were sorry for making us think that they would... 

After that we had dinner... dinner was pretty good.

Then we decided we werent going to try our chances with anymore investigators that day... we were a little scared, so we went and visited a less active family... right, because, if something goes wrong, the worst thing that happens is they remain less active... thats not great, but we couldnt visit anyone else... we were just about to throw in the towell for the day. Anyways, we went and visited this less active family and we started talking about the Sacrament. I asked the hermano what taking the Sacrament means to him and he told me, "Voy a decir la verdad. Yo no sé que es la santa cena porque yo no he asistido en mucho tiempo porque no puedo leer." It turns out a member offended him asking him to read a scripture and thats why he doesnt go. ---side note: I dont believe in that. People have given me every excuse in the book about why they dont go to church. "So and so offended me" "I am working" "I dont have time" etc. etc. etc. It is all lies. I have come to the conclusion that people who dont go to church dont go for ONE REASON. They dont understand the Atonement. --- we talked to him for a little bit, but then he just said, "esta bien si vienen un otro día y podemos hablar sobre este con mas calma? pueden venir viernes para la cena?" We agreed. Obviously I am about to skip to Friday to finish my story... So we showed up for dinner on Friday expecting to sit down, have a nice meal, and talk. We get there and he is watching sports. They invite us in and we try to chit-chat with him, but he kept watching sports. When dinner was ready we waiting for everyone to start filing into the kitchen and no one moved... then they told us, "allí esta hermanas. Comen" what? so we walk into the kitchen and there are only two plates.. we sit down and everybody leaves... NOT JOKING. THEY JUST LEFT US THERE. ALONE. Afterwards we went and shared a message with them and waited for them to MAYBE say something about the topic that was supposed to be discussed, but they said nothing. So, we said a prayer and left... worst meal I have ever had, and the food was pretty dang good. 

Well, if you cant tell, our week was a little hard. That was our days... they seriously were all like that until Thursday... We have this member named Patricia Rios. She is amazing and her family is like my family here in the mission. I love her so much! I cant wait for you guys to meat her... even though you wont be able to understand anything she says, which is a real bummer because the stories she tells are one in a million amazing. Anyways, I am getting off topic. Her family makes tortillas out of corn for a business. They are really good and definitely dont exist in the USA. Thursday we passed by her house for a minute and she told us she was headed out to make tortillas at her parents house... so we left to go do weekly planning... we walked into the house and we were just feeling so down and a little depressed because nothing had worked out in the week, so we called our DL and asked permission to leave the area to do a service project, then we called hermana Paty and asked her if we could help make tortillas.. That was the funnest thing we have done in a long time. We had to knead corn into dough and it was so hard. We were dirty, sweating, our arms hurt, and it was just so great. I think it was needed because we were able to just get rid of a ton of stress and we both felt a lot better afterwards. 

Our first and only good day this week was Saturday. A member gave us the reference of one of her best friends and all last transfer we were working with the member so that she could prepare her friend to recieve the missionaries. Two weeks ago she said that her friend excepted and that we could go visit her. We went with the member the first time and it was really good. We talked about our expectations and she excepted our purpose. We had an appointment with her on Saturday, but we got there about 15 minutes early and decided to go try to contact this less active member that lives close by (we have been trying to find her for almost 3 months now and she is never home), we got to the house and they WERE HOME! Before we even introduced ourselves she invited us in and we talked for a couple minutes. She said her son had gotten injured and long story short she had decided that it was time for her to go to church again, and they we showed up! The best part, they actually did go to church! All of them! and her husband and daughter arent members. It was so awesome! Our lesson with the member´s friend (Ines) went really well too. She excepted the Restoration quite easily but has the hang up that she needs to learn everything before she accepts a baptism date. 

All in all our week was... I dont really know. This week is transfer week so we will see what happens, but I dont want to get transfered. I hope I dont get transfered. 

At one point during the week my companion told me that this was really hard, and I knew she was feeling even lower than I was, so I told her to ask me if I was happy. She laughed and we kept walking. Then I told her that I was serious and to ask me if I was happy. "Are you happy?" "yes." "why?" then I told her about a talk from Elder Holland. He was talking to mission presidents saying that missionaries were going to ask, "why is it so hard" and that his conclusion is because it was never easy for Him. I told her that when we do our best, but are still rejected, we should be proud because we are standing side by side with the best missionary that has ever lived. I understand why it needs to be hard. We have to feel a portion of what He felt. We have to experience it, there is no other way. I am proud to be a missionary. I know that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing. I dont have regrets. This week was really hard, and I have prayed every night thanking God that I was able to experience every moment of it. We need to understand, to the best of our ability, what the Savior went through. Its a price I am more than willing to pay.

I love you all and hope that your week will be wonderful! You are in my prayers!

Love, Hermana Eardley

Monday, July 13, 2015

Dear Family,
My appologies, this letter is going to be a little short.
This week was pretty great. We got a lot of stuff done and we made some progress with a lot of our investigators. 
I had to buy another journal this week because I finished my last one... Sorry, but this one is completely in spanish. I decided to write the whole thing in spanish first to practice, second, because I feel cool, and third, it gives me a really great reason to not forget my spanish when I get home... 
Roysel has his baptism coming up in two weeks and we are all super excited! On Sunday, he didnt show up to church so after sacrament we asked the young men where he was and they said that his family had a party the night before and that he stayed up late and was sleeping... so we grabbed two of the young men, walked to his house as fast as we could (he lives about 20 minutes from the chapel and we walked there in 10...), we told his mom to wake him up, she did, twice, he got up the second time, came to the door, and I just looked at him and said, "where is your shirt?" he stared at me for a second and was like, "give me a second" 10 minutes later he comes back showered and in a white shirt and tie ready to go... then he just said, "it wasnt worth it to try to give you an excuse".... I felt like a boss. 
We have an investigator named Johanna and she is great! We thought that our recent convert Katherine would get along really well with her so we brought her to our appointment with Johanna... when we were walking to her house Kathy started to ask us what she was like and then said, "she has two kids?" yes. "she is my cousin" what? "yeah she lives right here" oh no.. our investigator lives in the next street. "oh, it cant be her" (we get the the house, yell BUENAS, and she comes to the door. "oh, yeah thats my cousin.. I didnt know she lived her" WHAT? It was so weird... but it made our lesson that much cooler. 
I have had a huge testimony builder this week about obedience. The Savior has said "If you love me, keep my commandments" and he is serious. It is all about trusting in the Lord. I have learned that I cannot do anything without his help, and I need to be obedient to his commandments to show that I trust him. We had so many conflicts this week and when we decided that it didnt matter what happened, we were going to follow the rules, and it was a miracle from heaven that everything turned out the way it was supposed to. I know God wants to bless us. He can help us more than we can help ourselves, but for some reason its hard for us to put that kind of trust in him. That is what faith is, trust. When we do things his way, it turns out the way he wants it to, and there isnt anything better.
I love yall so much and hope you have a wonderful week! Talk to you next week!
Love, Hermana Eardley

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Dear Family,

This week was awesome.. are you ready?

This week we had a lesson with Roysel and the President of the Young Men. It went so well!! He is like an active investigator, but he has told us that he doesnt want to be baptized and that he wont be baptized, well, the power of God is greater than man. We decided to talk with him about enduring to the end, but, that morning during our personal studies, we both felt wrong about it, so we started searching for something else. We ended up sharing with him questions from Alma 5. If yall want to examine yourselves personally, read and answer the questions in Alma 5. After asking him some of the questions, he turned to us and told us that he was ready to be baptized! We were so happy we tried to get him to agree to be baptized the next day. He told us to give him 3 weeks, so his baptism date is the 23rd of July. We are thrilled! Its a testimony builder to me for sure, we arent the ones doing anything, we dont really know what these people need, but God does, and when we are worthy, he is able to act through us. I have learned just how insignificant I am. That may sound a little harsh, but I know that without God I am nothing. 

We had a service project this week helping a family plant a garden in their backyard. It was definitely a project. We first took the machete and cut down all the weeds. That tool is so freaking awesome! It also gave me a huge blister which I havent had in a long time and it got so big it exploded inside my finger and everyone was laughing saying that it was definitely going to hurt for awhile, but God loves me so it only hurt for a little bit when I had to wash my clothes. Then, they gave me a pickaxe and told me to go dig some holes and plant some trees. They didnt have trees ready to be planted either, you had to go and dig them out of one spot and plant them in another. That was really fun too, and they took a video of me because they were amazed that I was actually able to do it... I think they assumed I was from a place where I had never worked outside in my life... Well, thanks to my parents I worked a little bit. It wasnt hard actually... after they had us dig up yucka... I dont know if yall know what that is, but it is the coolest plant ever. You dig up the roots (its a tree) and that is the part you eat, after you have dug up all the roots, you cut up the tree and the good branches you put back in the earth almost horizantal and the branch will start to grow roots and the cycle just keeps going.. it is the second coolest plant I have ever seen (the first is one that smells exactly like rain when it gets wet). Anyways, we did that for a couple hours... afterward I was covered in dirt, had a huge blister that exploded inside my finger, and was incredibly exhausted, but we had a lot of fun.

We went on divisiones that same day. So I went with another sister to help her in her area while her companion stayed and worked with mine in our area. It was tough because they dont have any investigators so we spent the whole day searching for past investigators and contacting... it was really fun, but exhausting, and we had little success.. this day I think I was the most exhausted I have been in my entire mission. I crashed and in the morning I was still super tired! I got up to do exercises, was too tired to stand so do yall know what I did? I layed on the floor to do crunches.. the first time I have layed on the floor here in Panama... I think that speaks for itself. Anyways, it was a bad idea because I fell asleep doing crunches and my companion had to wake me up... seriously my body just gave up. 

Speaking of my companion, today is her birthday. She turned 23! That is why I am so late writing. Our zone through a party for her, and then later a member through her a suprise party... it was great, but our P-Day flew out the window. The great thing was that I found JERKY!! I was so excited I bought a little tiny bag for 5$... woops, but yeah, I was super happy about it. 

Well, its that time again... Testimony Meeting. I hope each one of you took that special priveledge to bear your testimony to your fellow brothers and sisters. At times it may frighten us, and you get that nasty feeling in your stomache, but we cant be selfish. If we look around us in Sacrament meeting, how many of us need a little more hope, a little more faith, the touch of the spirit, or words of encouragement? Everyone. God gave 2 grand commandments. Love thy God with all the heart, might, mind, and strength; and love thy neighbor as thyself. If we love God, we shouldnt be afraid to share that love with him and everyone else. If we love our neighbor, we shouldnt be afraid to share words of faith or strength to lift them up. I would like to challenge each one of you, that if you didnt share your testimony this week, you will share it the next time. We cant be selfish. 

Matthew 5:16 -- Así alumbre vuestra luz delante de los hombres, para que vean vuestras buenas obras y glorifiquen a vuestro Padre que está en los cielos.

Bueno, quiero compartir un parte de mí testimonio con ustedes. Yo sé que esta es la iglesia verdadera, y que nuestro Salvador vive. Por medio de su expiación podemos ser salvos. Él es nuestro salvación. Sin Él, somos nada. Tenemos que recordarle siempre, que grande el amor que nos mostró, ahora, tenemos que demonstrar nuestro amor por él. 

Les amo bastante. Espero que tienen una buena semana y que puedo hablar con ustedes la próxima semana. Están en mis oraciones siempre.

Con amor, Hermana Eardley