Tuesday, November 24, 2015

¡Feliz Día de Acción de Gracias!‏

Dear Family,

This week was full of adventures! I cant even tell yall how awesome it was... Okay, okay, I will try.

This week I completed 15 months in the mission! Woohoo!

So first of all, before I forget, those of my immediate family (those coming to Panamá) please (PLEASE) prepare yourselves.. EVERYONE is telling me that they want to cook for you when you come.. I am telling you that everyone we visit is likely to give you food. I have no idea honestly HOW you can prepare yourselves, but when you are here up to your eyeballs in food and you feel like you will explode from the amount of food do not say that I didnt warn you. The food here is good (well, I like it), but they give you a ton and it is kind of offensive if you dont eat it all.. that is why I have gained so much weight... 

This week we got to watch the movie "Freetown". It was so good, but I found it hard to understand.. What happened is that the movie was in English, but with Spanish subtitles. I started laughing to myself because at times I didnt understand their accent so I started reading it in spanish to understand it better... I thought that was funny. I loved the movie, oh my goodness what a challenge that would have been! It touched me so much because their only desire was to teach people about Jesus Christ. I started crying when all of the little children went running to collect pictures of Jesus. That movie is very special, if you havent seen it, it is worth it to watch. 

So we have two women in our Branch that are deaf and mute. They are the cutest! We had lunch with one of them this week and she would not let us leave her house! She was so excited to have us there. She just made sounds and signs with her hands the whole time and at times we understood, at other times a would say between my teeth, "no entendí" and my companion would say, "yo tampoco" and then we would laugh between our teeth. She came to church on Sunday and we asked a Sister to translate for her, she did and it impacted me quite a bit.. She sat there, next to her family but facing away from them, translating into Spanish Sign Language for an hour... she did it all.. The talks, the prayers, even the hymns. It was so special to witness that. I was so thankful for her sacrifice. 

It rained a lot this week, there was a lot of mud... my companion fell in mud... she was so mad.. I tried so hard to not laugh, but I couldnt hold it in. She got mad at first, but then started laughing too and it became a good memory.

So, there is a Canadian community that lives here in David. They live in this place that is gated and I had never seen them before. It is in our area and the moment I found out that people who spoke English live there it has been my goal to contact them... but I never see anyone. This week we were walking and I saw two people who looked like americans walking down the street towards this gated community... I decided to contact them, "Hola! Somos representantes de Jesucristo y tenemos un mensaje para ustedes" Then the man tells me, "poco español"... ... ... yall cant imagine the excitement I felt in that moment. I started talking to them in English and they are so funny. The man has heard little about the church but he knew we dont smoke or drink, his wife said that she knew the church decently well because she had a boyfriend who is a member when she was in highschool, but when he left for his mission they split up. The wife was so cute! She says, "We would like to invite you for lunch one day" and then her husband says, "You two would be perfect guests because I know you wont use any of my cigarettes or alcohol".... I laughed, but later when I told my companion what happened she looked at me like "are you serious" and I said, "I know, we need to baptize them first".

So, I know I told yall, but my companion is from El Salvador. This week she made the most popular dish from her country... PUPUSAS. They are so good! I totally am going to have her write down the recipe because I helped her make them and I totally know how... We are going to have pupusas when I get home. I am also learning typical dishes from Panama. They are not hard to make. Panama food isnt very complicated. 

So there is this fruit that grows here that you cant eat, but what the people do is they take out all of the fruit (you cant eat it... they say that the only thing you can use it for is to boil it and give the water to women who just gave birth to clean out their system.. like the blood and stuff... nothing else) and they scrape the carcass and they put it out in the sun for two days so that it dries completely and it makes what we call a Tutuma. This fruit is actually super cool. The people who live in the outskirts, who are poor, who arent very civilized, use it to make bowls, plates, spoons, forks, pots, etc. It is super awesome and my companion and I found some that were super huge and we made Tutumas!! We actually failed the first time.. we did it by ourselves, but we are going to try again because we know what we did wrong... So cute and exciting!

Almost all of our investigators this week decided to stop progressing.. it was really sad and a little depressing. What was awesome what our young couple Alison and Gair are still really positive. They need to get married, but they have a ton of support from the Branch and I know they are going to get baptized.. well just her, he is a inactive member. We are super excited for them and are focussing a lot right now on finding new investigators. 

My two investigators from Chorrera got baptized.. I cried because I wasnt able to be at their baptisms, (Ines and William). I feel like I have been a sower my entire mission, which is sad because I havent been able to see the fruits of my work, but I know that everything is for a reason. I am so so SO excited to see them in February!

I love yall so much and hope you have a wonderful week! HAPPY THANKSGIVING! I am thankful for each one of you!

With all my love, 
Hermana Eardley

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Dear Family,

Hows everything going? I am doing good... This week was long, but really good. Would you like to hear about it? Okay, here we go.

So we have this investigator named Alison. She is the "wife" (They are a couple, live together, have a baby, but arent married) of a less active member. He is the son of a very active family. They invited us over for a Family Home Evening and she was there.. we talked about the Book of Mormon and she was so interested. She kept saying, "I never knew that" and "Why didnt you guys tell me about this sooner" she loved it! Later in the week we had another lesson with her and we talked about Eternal Marriage. She said, "It makes sense. I want to live with my family forever". She is so prepared and what is even sweeter is that her pareja is helping her read the Book of Mormon and has started to become more active in the church. We had a Stake Conferece this weekend (I will talk more about it in a sec) and she came with the whole family! It was so awesome and she is super excited about church. What a blessing for her and her family.

My companion is the cutest.. she has a problem getting up in the mornings... which is difficult for me, but today was so funny. I got up at 6:30 and went to wash clothes (we have to wash them by hand... and give them time to dry..) After finishing and eating breakfast I went and took a shower and then at 8AM I went to go wake her up... I just stared at her for a second... she sleeps completely face down... with the sheet covering her completely... I dont know how she breathes... Anyways, I stared at her and saw that she was waking up so I decided to wait a second.. If yall can imagine it: Just her sheet-covered head lifted up from the pillow, then fell back down like she fainted... I started laughing so hard... Maybe it isnt funny to yall because you didnt see it, but that seriously made my morning. 

Okay, before I forget, the Stake Conference. Elder Alonso came and I was so so so SO excited. His talks are super powerful and I feel like he just looks right at my soul and tells me exactly what I need to hear. I have this habbit of staring people right in their eyes when I talk to them, and he does too... He had a conference with the missionaries and when they went up to shake his hand he took a second and stared at each one of them right in the eyes... Later, he says, "looking at your eyes, I know all of the sins that you have commited, when you commited them, and how you commited them. After this conference I will tell Pte. Carmack who he should have an interview with and what question he will ask you." If yall think it was a joke, it wasnt. After the conference they called about 20 elders and 5 sisters to talk to president... I dont know what happened to them. Anyways, getting back to the conference. It was super good. The talked a ton about "El poder de la Divinidad" which is the Atonement of Christ. The talked a ton about our roles in the church. Like, for example, the role of a Primary President. Their role is to prepare children to take their first step in recieving devine power by helping them prepare for baptism so that they can recieve a remission of sins. Young Men and Women Presidents job is to prepare the young men and women to take the next step and recieve the Temple Endowment. It goes on and on... 

There was a story that impacted me greatly that Elder Alonso shared (and he has shared it before in General Conference) about losing his son. They were in Mexico and at one point on the street they realized that their son wasnt with them... They took off running up and down the streets looking for him, and didnt find him. They took off running in different directions and he got the impression that he should go back.... so he did and saw his wife coming down a street with their son. She had found him staring at some toys in a shop window. The message from this story that impacted me so greatly was this: "He didnt even know he was lost". How many are lost and dont even know it? There are obviously those who havent found the church yet. There are also those who have found it, but have strayed and wound up lost. I thought about that long and hard. How much do we love our family? Our parents, spouses, children? If one of them were lost, how hard would we search for them? 

There are some of us who are lost. We each know people who are spiritually lost. What are we doing to bring them back? or help them find the way? 

Wow, that really hit me hard. That is my purpose as a missionary, and that is your purpose as a member and representative of Jesus Christ. 

I love each one of you with all my heart! You can be sure that you are in my prayers. I hope that yall have a wonderful week and that everything goes wonderfully! Most of all, I invite you all to search for those that are lost, and bring them to the truth.

With all my love, 
Hermana Eardley

Monday, November 9, 2015

Personal Revelation and the Book of Mormon.‏

Dear Family,

OH my gosh. I have got the coolest thing to share with you. Well, yeah who am I kidding, it is so cool.

So three days ago, we were having dinner with some members and I pulled out my Book of Mormon. I have this game that I like to play, (its a game, but it works too) that you say a book, chapter, and verse that comes to your head (it cant be one memorized) and whatever that verse says is your "mini revelation" for that day. Anyways, they each chose a scripture and it really did help them, and then I asked my companion to choose one (we did it as a companionship) and we chose Ether 6:4 which says, (the word "food" is translated to "alimentos" in Spànish, which can mean anything you consume)

And it came to pass that when they had prepared all manner of foodthat thereby they might subsist upon the water, and also food for their flocks and herds, and whatsoever beast or animal or fowl that they should carry with them and it came to pass that when they haddone all these things they got aboard of their vessels or barges,and set forth into the sea, commending themselves unto the Lord their God

We read it, laughed a little, but didnt pay much attention to the revelation. It turns out, that very night, the system that transfers water from Panama to David was damaged. The next morning, there was no water. The whole city of David was without water... when we realized that, the scripture came back into our minds and we had this moment of "oh man... He tried to tell us". That day was a mess, everyone was searching and collecting water in everyway they could. It rained, and there were people bathing themselves in rain water... The next day, yesterday, was Sunday. The water still hadnt been fixed. We had 30 people in church. (It was because no one could bathe themself). My companion tells me, "lets pick a scripture and recieve a little revelation today" of course I was all for it, we needed some guidence. So, we chose a scripture: Helaman 7:20 which says,

20 O, how could you have forgotten your God in the very day that he has delivered 

Wow. That one hurt. We looked at eachother and just said, "we should have listened before..." That was definitely a kick to the knees... I felt a little like He was punishing us.. you know, because we searched for revelation, he gave it to us, and then we ignored it. It was a rough 2 days... but the good news is that today we have water. Everything back to normal... and we got to have a real shower today! The last 2 days it was just a "Plane Shower" (Thats what they call it here when you only have enough water to wash the wings and the motor (armpits and behind)).

Keeping with my Book of Mormon topic, I have been searching a lot (digging down in the deep doctrine) of the prophesies of the BoM. We have had a ton of investigators ask us, "Where does it talk about the BoM in the Bible?" Personally, I am not fond of answering that specific question, I prefer to find people who will test our messege and read it and ask God if its true, but this last week we had so many ask us that I finally said, "Okay, I will find out where, in the Bible, it talks about the BoM". 

I would like to invite yall, if you are interested, to study together these scriptures:

Genesis 49:22 with 1 Nephi 5:10-12, 14
Psalms 85:11 with Moses 7:62
Isaiah 29:4, 18-19, 24 with 2 Nephi 33:10-14 and Moroni 10: 27-28

There are many more. I went nuts with this study and loved every minute of it. The truth is that the Bible speaks in code. In the Old Testament, when the prophets prophesied about Jesus Christ, they never said his name would be Jesus Christ, they said many different names to describe him, but never what his actual "birth-name" would be. If the Bible said his name would be Jesus, can you imagine how many people would have the name Jesus? Everyone would have that name claiming to be Him. Likewise, the Bible does not say specifically "The Book of Mormon" because if it did, how many Books of Mormon would there be in the world? There would be thousands, and we wouldnt know which of all of them is the true book. God is perfect. He has given us everything we need to know. Sorry for the deep-doctrine, but I was just so excited about it that I had to tell yall.

As far as investigators are going, we have one family that is super wonderful. Its the Family Gonzalez. Their names are Guillermo, Guillelis, and Yavelit. It is a father and his two daughters. He is a taxi driver, but doesnt like it because he wants to spend more time with his family, so they are building a tortilla factory behind their house.. its really cool. They are super prepared to accept the gospel. They have prayed about the book of mormon and have recieved a testimony of its truthfulness.. they have questions, but not doubts. They are preparing for baptism on the 21st of this month! I am so excited for them! 

We are on the hunt for more investigators. We are having problems finding people who will progress. Lessons arent a problem, the majority of people accept us into their homes, but they dont progress... they just listen. We are focussing a lot on showing our faith and asking Heavenly Father to help us find those that are prepared. 

I love yall so much and hope you have a wonderful week! We need to make each week count because there are only 7 left in the year! (My comp told me that last week)

I love you and I am praying for you. 

Hermana Eardley

Monday, November 2, 2015

Dear Family,

So, did yall know that people here dont celebrate Halloween? They say its Satans Holiday. No one dresses up, there are no clean parties, and you will never see children walking the streets asking for candy. What happens is there is a lot of wickedness that happens here. The people who have parties just drink alcohol. There are a lot of people in the streets robbing, with guns, attacking people... its all just aweful.. We have had to go home once it starts getting dark... just between Sunday (yesterday) and Wednesday, then everything goes back to normal. The people here celebrate more the Day of the Dead which is today and tomorrow... We live ridiculously close the the Cemetery here and there are people decorating the graves and there are flowers everywhere and people... wow there are a ton of people. The nights are pretty dangerous, but we are being super careful. 

This week was wonderful. It was filled with a lot of service. We have helped the members clean the chapel, run errands, and just a bunch of little things for the members. It has helped because it has given us time to converse with them and gain their trust. I think its working really well because our Branch President has started calling us and asking us to visit people... I feel like we are making a difference and it fills my soul with joy. 

This week my study was focussed on the Atonement. I try to study the Atonement at least once a week, but this week it was everyday. So Cool. I love the Atonement. It doesnt just apply to our sins, or the fact that we are going to be ressurrected, it applies to our weaknesses as well. It strengthens us in times of hardship. Makes us stronger. Keeps up from falling. "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (Philippians 4:13)

Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand, …
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

I have found that there is so much wisdom in hymns... they teach so much doctrine. I never paid attention before. 

I feel so much love from my Savior, and my greatest desire is to help everyone else feel it as well. I know that He lives, and loves me too. I know this is his church, there is no way that it cant be. I have felt the spirit testify to me over and over again that this is the truth, that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and that this is his church. I bear solemn witness of it.

I love you all so much! You are always in my prayers. Keep pressing forward, and remember you always have someone to rely on.

With all my love, 

This is our house... its so cute

Where I wash my clothes

Where I study

This little girl is so cute, and she loves frozen. 

We found a butterfly and it just kind of stuck with us.... #disneymoment


Yall remember the story about the moss growing on the cement outside? This is how we got rid of it... I used a knife, she used a spatula

Final results
Hermana Eardley