Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Week 18 in Buenos Aires: New Area, Caballito!

December 30, 2014

What a week! Today were transfers:) I said goodbye to Parque Patricios yesterday, and am now in Caballito, 30 minutes away with Hermana Olmedo. Hermana Olmedo is from El Salvador and this is her last 6 weeks before she goes home.  I was blessed to spend Christmas with a wonderful companion, Hermana Pilliza, and wonderful members, including the Pareja family. I am so thankful for the 3 transfers I was able to spend in Parque Patricios. The members there will always be a part of home for me. 
Mirla, Hna. Pilliza, and I

At the baptism of Cami and Martina

Transfers today were crazy! This morning, upon leaving the shower, I was greeted by a lake of water. And not just the bathroom, but the entire apartment... We joked about it afterwards and claimed it was my tears... but what stress at the time! However, I got to have breakfast with the familia Montiel before the bishop took us to the offices to find our new companions. It felt so good to be with them. It felt like home. 
Upon receiving my new companion and arriving at my new home I discovered that the elevator didn't work. As my companion and I lugged all my stuff up 5 flights of stairs I seriously considered tossing more than half of my belongings. Where did it all come from? I have no idea. 
I will truly miss the great and wonderful people of Parque Patricios!!!


During this last week I have felt the love my Savior has for me. I understand so much better the true meaning of Christmas. It's not about the gifts, or the decor, or the food. It's about the Lord, the Savior Jesus Christ. 
This Christmas my greatest gifts were talking to my family via Skype and receiving a handwritten letter from my Hermana Temple. Such simple things. Things I would have taken for granted before. Things that I hold so dear out here in the mission. I know that this church is true. I know that this work will continue to go forth. We, as the Lord's missionaries, are part of an army. We are here to inspire the troops, battle the enemy, support the leaders, and raise our banners high. This isn't a work for those faint of heart. We are missionaries. We are representatives of Jesus Christ. We are bold. We open the door to the Celestial Kingdom. We save families. We Are the Lord's army. 

I love you all and hope you had a wonderful Christmas with your families and loved ones. Take care!
All my love,
Hermana Dickson

Monday, December 22, 2014

Week 17 in the Mission!

Week 17 in the mission! The computer is being a pain... so I hope this gets to all of you alright! This week we've been working a lot with Wilfredo, one of our investigators who had a baptismal date for the 20th of December. He didn't end up getting baptized on the 20th, but we're working with him for
the 26th!

Wilfredo's dog!

 Christian and his dog Pachu
Lots of dogs in Argentina!

We also got to see the confirmations of Martina and Cami on Sunday as they received the gift of the Holy Ghost. The spirit was strong and it was clear that they had received an added protection and guide. However, let us review a little bit of this busy week shall we?
Cami and Martina

Mission home

On the 15th we spent our Pday at President's house! Needless to say, it was a blast! We were able to steal a nap on a big bed with real covers and air conditioning (I was in heaven), eat tacos homemade by our Mexican zone leader, and play ping pong:) It was like taking a little vacation back home.
On the 16th we had our District Meeting. During the meeting the zone leaders came in and said they would be giving each of us a blessing individually to help us and strengthen us in these last two weeks before the end of the year. I felt prompted to ask Elder Losa to give me mine, even though I haven't known him as long as I've known Elder Seda. As soon as he started I felt the love that my Father in Heaven has for me and couldn't help but cry. The things mentioned in the blessing were exactly what I needed to hear. I know very strongly that God knows us individually and that He cares about the things that we care about. He answered my fears and doubts in the blessing, giving my comfort as only a perfect Father can. It truly was a powerful experience. 
Lunch with la familia Lopez cada sabado (each Saturday)

After a delicious lunch with the familia Palma we visited with Hermana Lurdez, whose husband has recently passed away. We were talking with and comforting one of her daughters who is only 11 or 12 years old. She started to cry as we gave her a hug and asked her how she was. She said that this was extremely difficult for her. As I thought of how hard it would be to lose a father, or my own, I felt tears race down my cheeks. I'm not one for crying, but I couldn't help it. I truly felt a deep love and understanding for her and for her pain. I now have a better understanding of what it means to mourn with those that mourn and to comfort those that stand in need of comfort. During this time I didn't have any thoughts or worries for myself. It was all for this poor family. I know that God is going to lend them strength and that they're going to be ok. I gave the daughter the bracelet I'm now accustomed to wearing from Grandma Shana, Families Are Forever. I explained to her what it meant in Spanish and gave it to her. As a reminder that she will be with her father after this life, and that he loves her and is looking out for her, even on the other side.
The 18th was rough. We went to teach Wilfredo after lunch with Cami and her mother. We called him on the way to his house to let him know we would be stopping by to visit. He said he wasn't home. However, as we were right outside the door we decided to knock. And who did we find? Wilfredo;) We taught him, although it was difficult as he was with a girl. He had told us he didn't have a girlfriend, but we quickly realized that that wasn't the case. We tried to talk with her, but she didn't want anything to do with us. After being yelled at by her our energy was low. However, we stopped by Jhon's afterwards to visit with him and his less active brother. It was stiflingly hot, so we asked for some water. Some of it may or may not have ended up on people;) After the water fight we felt a little bit better, although it was still a rough day. 
Ward Christmas dinner

On the 19th was the Christmas Dinner as a Ward! We had lunch with Hermana Pareja and accompanied her to the church to help decorate and get everything ready. The dinner was a big success and Wilfredo came and enjoyed himself! I really felt like I was among family:) 

Park next to Parusalen :)
Jhon, Mirla, and AnnaMelina

On the 20th we spent almost the whole day with Wilfredo. He was our Third Companion;) He was supposed to be baptized at 6, but because he still hasn't been able to stop smoking we've moved it to the 26th. We talked to him for quite a while about his goals and what he wants to do, how we and the Lord can help him reach the day of his baptism. 
The Medina Family: I love them!

And yesterday was the confirmations of Cami and Martina! I have so much love for the familia Medina. They were truly a miracle, and they will always hold a special place in my heart. After church we headed over to lunch with the Familia Montiel, also family to me:)

All in all a good week! Looking forward to Christmas, for the opportunity to skype my family and participate in the activity we're going to have as a mission! Have a wonderful Christmas, remember that Christ is the center of everything we do, and that He was the first gift. What will we give Him this Christmas?

All my love!

Hermana Dickson
5 months in;) and 13 to go;) Let's get down to business!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Week 16 in Argentina!

I really don't have time to write, but I'll send pictures of the miracle we experienced this week: the baptism of two little angels: Cami and Martina! This family truly was a miracle. We found them through a street contact, taught them, and helped them take the step into the waters of baptism. Their dad had the great blessing of baptizing them! He was baptized quite a few years ago and has been inactive. What great blessings from the Lord.

Cami being baptized by her father!  She seems to glow!

At the baptism of Cami and Martina

I love you all and hope you all have a wonderful Christmas! 
Prayers and love,

Hermana Dickson

Monday, December 8, 2014

Week 15 in the Grand Mission of Buenos Aires

As mentioned in the talk I shared with all of you, the blessings are found after a time of great trial or hardship. And after a rough week we have received an outpouring of blessings. We are now teaching two families that are progressing and following through on their commitments! This is the first time in my mission that I have investigators that truly want to be baptized and follow Christ, and are willing to stretch and improve in order to do so! How great are these blessings! And it is no coincidence that these blessings were received After a rough week. God tests us and tries us before aiding us and giving us strength and direction. So let's get to it shall we? 
Ready to go out and WORK!

The 1st of Dec: An adventurous P day with Tio Brad Mario Alefredo Montiel;) Why Brad? Because he's the Argentine Brad Pitt, of course;) We went to Once to shop and eat. We ate in an Argentine restaurant. I had a classic Milanesa sandwich. The day was a ton of fun, and ended in two purchases on my end: a white brimmed hat for the sun and a long skirt:) The skirt was found my Mario, who ¨followed the spirit¨and led us to the store that had the skirt;) We closed the P day with ice cream! 

Great Argentine Food!
2nd of Dec: Early in the morning my comp and I went to help Anita and Domingo with their documents so they can be married and baptized. They both have a lot of faith and are like grandparents to me;) It was quite the adventure, and required a lot of walking and colectivo. At the end of it all we still weren't done, although in process. After a delicious lunch with Hermana Salinardi and Federico we were off to visit Jhon and Luis. After visiting and teaching the two of them we left with Jhon accompanying us. And this is where the miracles begin. 
While we were walking Jhon felt impressed to introduce us to one of his friends, Wilfredo. He lives quite close to Jhon. We were introduced and quickly realized that he was an √ęscogido¨, someone specifically prepared of God to listen and to accept our message! Naturally we set a baptism date with him and set a time to meet with him the following day. We left him with a Book of Mormon and desires to pray and to ask God if the 20th of December was the day God wanted for his baptism. We left in high spirits!

3rd of Dec: Trametes once more! This time not for Domingo, but for Hermana Pilliza. We took the colectivo out to the Trametes building, giving me a chance to nap;) I also ran into Hermana Downs and we got to catch up! Always so nice to see my peeps from the CCM! :D We had lunch with Leonor and Anthony, a recently married couple. Anthony is from the states and Leonor is from Peru. It was an eyeopener to see the two of them together. It was clear that they loved each other a lot and that they had both sacrificed to make the relationship successful. I was impressed. 
After lunch we went out with Hermana Salinardi. It was hot. My companion's shoes were killing her. Spirits were rather low. And THIS is when we received our second huge miracle. We were walking down to visit Anastasia, a member in the ward, when we passed by a woman with two small children. My companion stopped to talk to them and we invited them to come to church. The woman, Sol, seemed interested and we set up a return appointment for a little bit later in the evening.
 Later, when the time came, we went to meet with Sol. We were greeted by her husband, who had been baptized into the church in Pilar, Argentina, at the age of 12! He had been inactive for quite a long time and we didn't know anything about him. We were able to go into their home, which is very rare here. We were greeted by a beautiful family of 7! We taught them about the gospel of Christ and invited Sol and her two daughters of 10 and 9 to be baptized. They accepted willingly and with enthusiasm! I was in shock. I also felt very strongly as we were walking home and I was thinking about the familia Medina that they are a family I knew before this life. And that I'm in the area I am, in the mission I am, to help them. To be here for them and help them to be baptized. What blessings! What power! 

4th of Dec: We were able to teach Wilfredo about the Restoration:) He is keeping his commitments and has resolve to stop smoking. He is indeed a great blessing, and with Jhon's help he is feeling welcome and will be able to easily adjust to becoming part of the ward. Very excited to be teaching him!

My beautiful Parque Patricios!!!

5th of Dec: Taught both of our miracle families! We taught Wilfredo in the park with Jhon about the Plan of Salvation. We then taught the familia Medina the Restoration with Hermana Casariego, the bishop's wife. What a blessing and miracle to have investigators that are progressing!

View from my pension at night!

6th of Dec: Conference! Wilfredo and his two sons, Sebastian and Santiago, came with us! Jorge Medina came with two of his children as well:)
7th of Dec: Conference part two;) Anita and Domingo came! We also had Wilfredo and his two sons come in the pouring rain! What dedication. After the conference we took the colectivo to Mario and Rosana's house. We had an absolute blast; always nice to be with family:) Jhon came as well. The food was delicious and we couldn't stop laughing! I truly feel very at home with them and will be devastated when I have to say goodbye. I'll just have to visit after the mission;) We also stopped by the bishop's to watch the church video, Only a Stonecutter. Quite inspiring. 
Scripture study time.

Miracles. We are seeing miracles.
What miracles have you seen? And if you haven't seen any, where are you looking, and with what eyes?
This is the place where I need to be.

All my love,
Hermana M. L. Dickson

Monday, December 1, 2014

Week 14 in Argentina

From family letter: So nice to hear that things are going well and that Thanksgiving was a blast! As you know, we don't celebrate Thanksgiving down here. The day consisted of a lot of work. I don't honestly remember what we ate.  I haven't really been hungry recently anyway.  (She had a stomach bug for a few days). This week was pretty stressful for me.

Hermana Pilliza y Hermana Dickson

This week has been one of fasting and prayer. It hasn't been easy. Not that any week in the mission necessarily is. Despite the challenges, internal and external, I know quite distinctly and without a hint of doubt that my Savior lives. That He loves me and is ever observant of me. And that He loves every person I have interacted with this week: member, less active, and investigator. Every person we've invited on the street. Every person who has said yes, and every individual who has turned down our invitation.

This week we spent a little bit of time every day with Soledad, the daughter of Hermana Lopez. She's very attentive when we teach her, and there are certainly times when I know she can feel the spirit. Once during the week we were sharing about the importance of prayer. I can't recall what I said, but I remember being brought to tears the spirit was so strong for me. I don't know if Soledad has a lot of interest in the church right now. But all we can do as missionaries is invite, bring the spirit, and pray. One day she'll feel for herself that this is of God, and that it is true. Right now I feel like I'm planting a lot of seeds. But even if my progress isn't readily seen on the surface, my efforts are never in vain. Through the help and love of Christ I am touching the lives of people here, and Christ is changing me completely, inside and out. 
My companion who is from Ecuador and Spain

Near the beginning of the week Hermana Pilliza and I were in the park with Jhon. We were going to teach Jhon a little bit, but before we reached the bench where we planned on teaching him he wanted to invite a man who was enjoying the shade of a large tree. He was in a wheelchair. We went up and started talking with the man. He didn't want to hear anything, and told us he didn't even believe in God. I offered him a card with the direction of the church, the hours, and our number. When I started talking he seemed to perk up and suddenly have interest. It didn't have anything to do with our message. We quickly ended the conversation and retreated to a different part of the park to teach Jhon. Hermana Pilliza joked with me, calling him my ¨novio¨ (boyfriend).  (Not!) Tampoco. But this is the life of Argentina. Say you're from the United States and wear a skirt and look out!  Don't worry, I'm strong and can run fast.
We had been working with Alan, helping him to be ready for baptism on the 29th of November, this last Saturday. We fasted, prayed, and called him every night, working with him and trying to help him understand why baptism was important. We gave all we had. I gave all I had to give. But in the end, it was up to him. As it always is. And he didn't feel ready. He felt like it was too soon and unimportant. And so it fell through. It was hard for me, in the sense that I can see where Alan can be in the future. I can see him very clearly in the temple. I can see what the Lord sees for him, and it truly aches that he does not have this vision. But I can't say anything. It always seems to be this way. I cannot see the vision the Lord has for me, although I'm trying to earn such spiritual eyes. It's hard in the process. But God isn't going to give up on Alan. And when he feels ready he will take this step, and begin a whole new life, one in perfect harmony with the Lord.

On Saturday it was insufferably hot. The humidity was pressing, and I wanted nothing more than to take an ice cold shower. Dressed for the heat, we headed out. Later in the afternoon, as predicted, it poured. And when I say poured, I'm talking Missouri rain. We had to ford our way across a small ocean, complete with little waves! It was welcome after the heat, although we weren't at all prepared. Go figure;) We stopped by the Pucheta's to dry off and warm up a little bit. They truly are my home away from home and I love them so much!
On Sunday I was blessed with the surprise of jumping up and taking front stage on the piano for the hymns. I wasn't expecting such, so it wasn't my best performance, but it was better than nothing! We had lunch with the Montiel's, for all intents and purposes my aunt and uncle, before heading out, this time completely prepared for the rain. Rain that didn't come;)
It was a trying week all in all, but I know things will turn out all right in the end. This is the work of the Lord. And, as the saying goes, sometimes God calms the storm. And sometimes he lets the storm rage and calms the storm within us. I feel like in this week of internal and external storms the Lord has been mindful of me.

Once a week, we can write home to our friends and family.  We pay for computer time.


I love all of you and am praying for you! Continue to trust in God. Regardless of the pain, or the overwhelming sense of loneliness, trust in Him.

All my love,

Hermana Dickson

Reading Homework from Hermana Dickson:  She says please READ.

“Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence”

Jeffrey R. Holland
From a devotional address given at Brigham Young University on 2 March 1999.
Beware the temptation to retreat from a good thing. If it was right when you prayed about it and trusted it and lived for it, it is right now.
There is a lesson in the Prophet Joseph Smith’s account of the First Vision which virtually every Latter-day Saint has had occasion to experience, or one day soon will. It is the plain and very sobering truth that before great moments, certainly before great spiritual moments, there can come adversity, opposition, and darkness. Life has some of those moments for us, and occasionally they come just as we are approaching an important decision or a significant step in our lives.
In that marvelous account which we read too seldom, Joseph said he had scarcely begun his prayer when he felt a power of astonishing influence come over him. “Thick darkness,” as he described it, gathered around him and seemed bent on his utter destruction. But he exerted all his powers to call upon God to deliver him out of the power of this enemy, and as he did so a pillar of light brighter than the noonday sun descended gradually until it rested upon him. At the very moment of the light’s appearance, he found himself delivered from the destructive power which had held him bound. What then followed is the greatest epiphany since the events surrounding the Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension of Christ in the meridian of time. The Father and the Son appeared to Joseph Smith, and the dispensation of the fulness of times had begun. 1
Most of us do not need any more reminders than we have already had that there is one who personifies “opposition in all things,” that “an angel of God” fell “from heaven” and in so doing became “miserable forever.” What a chilling destiny! Because this is Lucifer’s fate, “he sought also the misery of all mankind,” Lehi teaches us. 2

The Fight Goes On

An entire article could be devoted to this subject of the adversary’s strong, preliminary, anticipatory opposition to many of the good things God has in store for us. But I want to move past that observation to another truth we may not recognize so readily. This is a lesson in the parlance of the athletic contest that reminds us “it isn’t over until it’s over.” It is the reminder that the fight goes on. Unfortunately we must not think Satan is defeated with that first strong breakthrough which so dramatically brought the light and moved us forward.
To make my point a little more vividly, may I go to another passage of scripture, indeed, to another vision. You will recall that the book of Moses begins with him being taken up to “an exceedingly high mountain” where, the scripture says, “he saw God face to face, and he talked with him, and the glory of God was upon Moses.” What then followed was what happens to prophets who are taken to high mountains. The Lord said to Moses:
“Look, and I will show thee the workmanship of mine hands. … Moses looked, and … beheld the earth, yea, even all of it; and there was not a particle of it which he did not behold, discerning it by the spirit of God. And he beheld also the inhabitants thereof, and there was not a soul which he beheld not.” 3
This experience is remarkable by every standard. It is one of the great revelations given in human history. It stands with the greatest accounts we have of any prophet’s experience with Divinity.
But Moses’ message to you today is: Don’t let your guard down. Don’t assume that a great revelation, some marvelous, illuminating moment, the opening of an inspired path, is the end of it. Remember, it isn’t over until it’s over.
What happens to Moses next, after his revelatory moment, would be ludicrous if it were not so dangerous and so true to form. Lucifer—in an effort to continue his opposition, in his unfailing effort to get his licks in later if not sooner—appears and shouts in equal portions of anger and petulance after God has revealed Himself to the prophet: “Moses, worship me.” But Moses is not having it. He has just seen the real thing, and by comparison this sort of performance is pretty dismal.
“Moses looked upon Satan and said: Who art thou? … Where is thy glory, that I should worship thee?
“For behold, I could not look upon God, except his glory should come upon me. … But I can look upon thee in the natural man. …
“Where is thy glory, for it is darkness unto me? And I can judge between thee and God. …
“Get thee hence, Satan; deceive me not.”
The record then depicts a reaction that is both pathetic and frightening:
“And now, when Moses had said these words, Satan cried with a loud voice, and ranted upon the earth, and commanded, saying: I am the Only Begotten, worship me.
“And it came to pass that Moses began to fear exceedingly; and as he began to fear, he saw the bitterness of hell. Nevertheless, calling upon God [the very phrase used by Joseph Smith], he received strength, and he commanded, saying: Depart from me, Satan, for this one God only will I worship, which is the God of glory.
“And now Satan began to tremble, and the earth shook. …
“And it came to pass that Satan cried with a loud voice, with weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth; and he departed hence,” 4 always to come again, we can be sure, but always to be defeated by the God of glory—always.

Do Not Draw Back

I wish to encourage every one of us regarding the opposition that so often comes after enlightened decisions have been made, after moments of revelation and conviction have given us a peace and an assurance we thought we would never lose. In his letter to the Hebrews, the Apostle Paul was trying to encourage new members who had just joined the Church, who undoubtedly had had spiritual experiences and received the pure light of testimony, only to discover that their troubles had not ended but that some of them had just begun.
Paul pleaded with those new members in much the same way President Gordon B. Hinckley is pleading with new members today. The reminder is that we cannot sign on for a battle of such eternal significance and everlasting consequence without knowing it will be a fight—a good fight and a winning fight, but a fight nevertheless. Paul says to those who thought a new testimony, a personal conversion, a spiritual baptismal experience would put them beyond trouble—to these he says, “Call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions.” Then this tremendous counsel, which is at the heart of my counsel to you: “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.
“For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. …
“… If any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.
“… We are not of them who draw back unto perdition.” 5
In Latter-day Saint talk that is to say, Sure it is tough—before you join the Church, while you are trying to join, and after you have joined. That is the way it has always been, Paul says, but don’t draw back. Don’t panic and retreat. Don’t lose your confidence. Don’t forget how you once felt. Don’t distrust the experience you had. That tenacity is what saved Moses and Joseph Smith when the adversary confronted them, and it is what will save you.
I suppose every returned missionary and probably every convert reading these words knows exactly what I am talking about. Appointments for discussions canceled, the Book of Mormon in a plastic bag hanging from a front doorknob, baptismal dates not met. And so it goes through the teaching period, through the commitments and the baptism, through the first weeks and months in the Church, and more or less forever—at least, the adversary would pursue it forever if he thought he could see any weakening of your resolve, any chink in your armor.
This opposition turns up almost any place something good has happened. It can happen when you are trying to get an education. It can hit you after your first month in your new mission field. It certainly happens in matters of love and marriage. It can occur in situations related to your family, Church callings, or career.
With any major decision there are cautions and considerations to make, but once there has been illumination, beware the temptation to retreat from a good thing. If it was right when you prayed about it and trusted it and lived for it, it is right now. Don’t give up when the pressure mounts. Certainly don’t give in to that being who is bent on the destruction of your happiness. Face your doubts. Master your fears. “Cast not away therefore your confidence.” Stay the course and see the beauty of life unfold for you.

The Spirit of Revelation

To help us make our way through these experiences, these important junctures in our lives, let me draw from another scriptural reference to Moses. It was given in the early days of this dispensation when revelation was needed, when a true course was being set and had to be continued.
Most Latter-day Saints know the formula for revelation given in section 9 of the Doctrine and Covenants—the verses about studying it out in your mind and the Lord promising to confirm or deny. What most of us don’t read in conjunction with this is the section which precedes it: section 8.
In that revelation the Lord has said, “I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.” I love the combination there of both mind and heart. God will teach us in a reasonable way and in a revelatory way—mind and heart combined—by the Holy Ghost. “Now, behold,” He continues, “this is the spirit of revelation; behold, this is the spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground.” 6
Why would the Lord use the example of crossing the Red Sea as the classic example of “the spirit of revelation”? Why didn’t He use the First Vision? Or the example from the book of Moses we just used? Or the vision of the brother of Jared? Well, He could have used any of these, but He didn’t. Here He had another purpose in mind.
Usually we think of revelation as a downpour of information. But this is too narrow a concept of revelation. May I suggest how section 8 broadens our understanding, particularly in light of these “fights of affliction” we have been discussing.

Questions Often Precede Revelation

First of all, revelation almost always comes in response to a question, usually an urgent question—not always, but usually. In that sense it does provide information, but it is urgently needed information, special information. Moses’ challenge was how to get himself and the children of Israel out of this horrible predicament they were in. There were chariots behind them, sand dunes on every side, and a lot of water immediately ahead. He needed information to know what to do, but it wasn’t a casual thing he was asking. In this case it was literally a matter of life and death.
You will need information too, but in matters of great consequence it is not likely to come unless you want it urgently, faithfully, humbly. Moroni calls it seeking “with real intent.” 7 If you can seek that way and stay in that mode, not much that the adversary can counter with will dissuade you from a righteous path. You can hang on, whatever the assault and affliction, because you have paid the price for real conviction.
Like Moses in that vision, there may come after the fact some competing doubts and confusion, but it will pale when you measure it against the real thing. Remember the real thing. Remember how urgently you have needed help in earlier times and you got it. The Red Sea will open to the honest seeker of revelation. The adversary has power to hedge up the way, to marshal Pharaoh’s forces and dog our escape right to the water’s edge, but he can’t produce the real thing. He cannot conquer if we will it otherwise. Exerting all our powers, the light will again come, the darkness will again retreat, the safety will be sure. That is lesson number one about crossing the Red Sea by the spirit of revelation.

Do Not Fear

Lesson number two is closely related. It is that in the process of revelation and making important decisions, fear plays a destructive, sometimes paralyzing role. To Oliver Cowdery, who missed the opportunity of a lifetime because he didn’t seize it in the lifetime of the opportunity, the Lord said, “You did not continue as you commenced.” Does that sound familiar to those who have been illuminated and then knuckled under to second thoughts and returning doubts? “It is not expedient that you should translate now,” the Lord said in language that must have been very hard for Oliver to hear. “Behold, it was expedient when you commenced; but you feared, and the time is past, and it is not expedient now.” 8
Everyone runs the risk of fear. For a moment in Moses’ confrontation with the adversary, “Moses began to fear exceedingly; and as he began to fear, he saw the bitterness of hell.” 9 That’s when you see it—when you are afraid.
That is exactly the problem that beset the children of Israel at the edge of the Red Sea, and it has everything to do with holding fast to your earlier illumination. The record says, “And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid.” Some (just like those Paul described earlier) said words to this effect: “Let’s go back. This isn’t worth it. We must have been wrong. That probably wasn’t the right spirit telling us to leave Egypt.” What they actually said to Moses was: “Wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? … It had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.” 10 And I have to say, “What about that which has already happened? What about the miracles that got you here? What about the frogs and the lice? What about the rod and the serpent, the river and the blood? What about the hail, the locusts, the fire, the firstborn sons?”
How soon we forget. It would not have been better to stay and serve the Egyptians, and it is not better to remain outside the Church, nor to put off marriage, nor to reject a mission call or other Church service, and so on and so on forever. Of course our faith will be tested as we fight through these self-doubts and second thoughts. Some days we will be miraculously led out of Egypt—seemingly free, seemingly on our way—only to come to yet another confrontation, like all that water lying before us. At those times we must resist the temptation to panic and give up. At those times fear will be the strongest of the adversary’s weapons against us.
“And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord. … The Lord shall fight for you.” In confirmation the great Jehovah said to Moses, “Speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward.” 11
That is the second lesson of the spirit of revelation. After you have gotten the message, after you have paid the price to feel His love and hear the word of the Lord, go forward. Don’t fear, don’t vacillate, don’t quibble, don’t whine. You may, like Alma going to Ammonihah, have to find a route that leads an unusual way, but that is exactly what the Lord is doing here for the children of Israel. Nobody had ever crossed the Red Sea this way, but so what? There’s always a first time. With the spirit of revelation, dismiss your fears and wade in with both feet. In the words of Joseph Smith, “Brethren [and sisters], shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory!” 12

God Will Help Us

The third lesson from the Lord’s spirit of revelation in the miracle of crossing the Red Sea is that along with the illuminating revelation that points us toward a righteous purpose or duty, God will also provide the means and power to achieve that purpose. Trust in that eternal truth. If God has told you something is right, if something is indeed true for you, He will provide the way for you to accomplish it. That is true of joining the Church or raising a family, of going on a mission, or any one of a hundred other worthy tasks in life. Remember what the Savior said to the Prophet Joseph Smith in the Sacred Grove. What was the problem in 1820? Why was Joseph not to join another church? It was at least in part because “they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.” 13 God’s grace is sufficient! The Lord would tell Joseph again and again that just as in days of old the children of Israel would be “led out of bondage by power, and with a stretched-out arm. … Therefore, let not your hearts faint. … Mine angels shall go up before you, and also my presence, and in time ye shall possess the goodly land.” 14
What goodly land? Well, your goodly land. Your promised land. Your new Jerusalem. Your own little acre flowing with milk and honey. Your future. Your dreams. Your destiny. I believe that in our own individual ways, God takes us to the grove or the mountain or the temple and there shows us the wonder of what His plan is for us. We may not see it as fully as Moses or Nephi or the brother of Jared did, but we see as much as we need to see in order to know the Lord’s will for us and to know that He loves us beyond mortal comprehension. I also believe that the adversary and his pinched, calculating little minions try to oppose such experiences and then try to darken them after they happen. But that is not the way of the gospel. That is not the way of a Latter-day Saint who claims as the fundamental fact of the Restoration the spirit of revelation. Fighting through darkness and despair and pleading for the light is what opened this dispensation. It is what keeps it going, and it is what will keep you going. With Paul, I say to all of you:
“Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.
“For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” 15
I acknowledge the reality of opposition and adversity, but I bear witness of the God of glory, of the redeeming Son of God, of light and hope and a bright future. I promise you that God lives and loves you, each one of you, and that He has set bounds and limits to the opposing powers of darkness. I testify that Jesus is the Christ, the victor over death and hell and the fallen one who schemes there. The gospel of Jesus Christ is true, and it has been restored.
“Fear ye not.” And when the second and third and fourth blows come, “fear ye not. … The Lord shall fight for you.” 16 Cast not away therefore your confidence.

Monday, November 24, 2014

18 Months an Angel: Blazing on in Week 13!

Take a moment to grab something warm to drink and a comfy pillow, because we're digging in deep this week;)

 Picture of a horse I did for Hermana Arntsen before she left.

17th of Nov: In the morning we were once again off to San Fernando. Sitting in the train watching the trees and graffiti fly by I couldn't help but think of what a beautiful place Argentina is. And how short my time is here. It really encourages you to take advantage of every moment. We were heading to the Mission House for Hermana Arnsten to have her last entrevista with President. All of the missionaries that would be going home the following day were there as well, with their companions. Sitting amongst them I felt as though they were pulling me even faster towards the end. No thanks. In the beginning I wanted nothing more than to go home. Now I want nothing more than to stay here. Funny how that works, no? 
 How long have I been out?  My mom keeps track.

We were there for quite a while. The air conditioning was enjoyable, but I felt an itch to go out and work. To do Something. Eventually out we went:) After a delicious lunch with the familia Casriego,  Hermana Arnsten had her second farewell in the Capilla. Off we went to the Montiel's, to say goodbye. I kept thinking to myself how happy I was to be staying with these people I have grown to love and admire so much. I love Parque Patricios. I love this ward. They're always going to have a place in my heart, of that I'm certain. The night consisted of a lot of packing and a lack of sleep. Hermana Arnsten was leaving, and my new companion would be arriving in the morning. Hermana Pilliza. Latina. Was I ready to solely speak in Spanish? It didn't really matter, because here we were going! 
Farewell for Hermana Arnsten con la familia Montiel

18th of Nov: I was getting tired of traveling. This time it was the offices once more, to get Hermana Pilliza and leave Hermana Arnsten. It was going to be weird, but I was ready. Once there I met Hermana Pilliza, and the bishop took us back to our area via Taxi. At first I thought she was rather quiet and serious (apparently she thought the same of me, go figure;) However, as soon as we got to the apartment I knew we were going to get along. We emailed, visited the Pucheta's, and then I got my plantillas started por fin! Happy feet are in my future:) Guillermo accompanied us to visit with Zulma, where we ended up talking with Cristian and asking him to prayer about baptism and its importance. I realized quickly that Hermana Pilliza was very direct in her invitations, especially concerning baptism. What a blessing that has been this week. It has truly brought about miracles in our little corner of Argentina. Upon returning to the pension Hermana Pilliza invited me to sit down on her bed and watch the Joseph Smith movie with her. I was a little taken off guard, but did just that. We talked for quite a while, and I felt love and peace. I'm extremely grateful for my companion, for all the love she has for me, and for this work.

My new companion: Hermana Pilliza from Ecuador and Spain

19th of Nov: I had told Hermana Pilliza about the house were Milagros lives. As soon as she heard that lots of families lived inside she determined to go there. And so we did so. We literally talked to everyone. We didn't necessarily find, but we decided to come back later in the evening when people were home from work. While with Jhon down in the point we found Nico, son of Gladis. He was very receptive and accepted a baptismal date. His mother didn't want anything to do with us, and said matterafactly that Nico was Catholic, and that if if he said he would do something he wasn't going to comply. My eyes were drawn to Nico as she was saying such things. He looked deeply concentrated and was flipping through the pamplet we had given him. I don't care what his mother said. This is His salvation, and I have faith that he's going to make it, and that he's going to one day be in the temple, dressed all in white. That is my vision. He didn't say anything, just looked at the image of Christ before him. This spoke volumes to me, so much more than the things his mother was voicing. He was speaking to us, and to me it was very clear. Later we went back to Milagro's. And there we found another person ready and willing to listen. We set yet another date. More than I'd probably set in 12 weeks, in a single day. Because Hermana Pilliza has the vision. Something I have been working so hard to find. And with that vision she is truly blazing a path in our area, a path I will do anything to follow. I have much to learn, and she has much to teach me.

Being silly

20th of Nov: While trying to find Anita and Domingo we run into a woman who looked in need of help. I asked her if we could help. Now, we ask this multiple times a day. Never do we hear a yes. But this time it was clear that this woman needed help, and there was a yes. We helped her walk to her home in the Torres. she kept calling us her angels. It was simply doing what needed to be done.
21st of Nov: And welcome in the rain! Arm and arm, Hermana Pilliza and I headed off to lunch with the Salinardi's:) Hermana Salinardi accompanied us afterwards. We all tried to fit under my paragua, or umbrella. After trying to find a couple different people we headed to the church, where Jhon was going to meet up with us. I had the opportunity to play a girl's cello. Oh it felt heavenly to have that gorgeous instrument in my hands once more, even if it was only for a minute or so. We looked for people with Jhon down in the point, and didn't really find anyone ready to hear the gospel. We were cold and wet, so we stopped by his house to warm up for a little while before going back out. We were drinking herbal tea when Hermana Pilliza asked a question. I thought it was hilarious, and couldn't help but laugh. She started laughing as well. I think Jhon was a little confused as to what was so funny. I couldn't explain it, as I wasn't quite sure what was so funny. It felt so good to just laugh:) We started home at 8:30. However, Jhon lives quite far from our pension, and we therefore found ourselves at 9 with 20 blocks to go. Not one to be later than she needs to be, Hermana Pilliza took off running. We ran the 20 blocks home in 14 minutes or less. Talk about an adventure. I remember thinking, ¨She's crazy and I love it!¨ She's a lot of fun;)
22nd of Nov: Man, I don't know where to start with this jampacked day. I'm going to cover the big events. First, Soledad. She's a daughter of Hermana Lopez. After lunch we shared a scripture, and then asked the family who they knew who needed the gospel. She jokingly mentioned her daughter, who's not a member. We took her up on the offer, and talked with Soledad. She had talked with the missionaries before, but in the past they had only been interested in a quick baptism. When Soledad said she wanted to take the time to figure it out for herself and make the changes necessary to be a strong member of the church they were lose interest and stop visiting her. We're not going to do that, and have plans to see her today. Facundo, one of Hermana Lopez's sons, came to accompany us afterwards. We ended up in the Capilla. I helped Marcos, a relative of Zulma, with his English. We then had a Pepa competition to see who could eat three of the little cookies the fastest. Facundo and I tied... and when we did it again I won. Not sure how I should feel about that... but there you go! We then read in Joseph Smith History with Marcos about Joseph Smith's experience. I could feel the spirit in the prophet's words, and I hope he did as well. After saying goodbye to Marcos and Zulma AnnaMelina and Trinidad showed up to accompany us. We now had three members and were waiting for Alan to show up, our investigator! He showed up about 10 minutes later with Luciano, rolling our number of members present to 4, the largest amount I've ever had in one lesson! Hermana Pilliza and I took turns teaching about the gospel of Christ, lesson 3. We then got to the subject of baptism. One of the girls invited him to be baptized, and the other said we were planning a baptismal service for the 29th of November with a confirmation on the 30th. We then took turns sharing our personal experiences regarding our baptisms. The spirit was very strong and it was clear that each person had a strong testimony of the importance of baptism. However, when we asked Alan how he felt he said he still didn't understand why baptism was an important or necessary step. Hermana Pilliza invited Luciano to offer a prayer and then to have Alan offer one, asking about baptism and the proposed date. We all got on our knees as Luciano offered up a powerful and humble prayer. The spirit was strong, and I remember praying like I've never prayed before for Alan. Over and over again I pleaded with Father to help Alan, to soften his heart and help him to understand. I realized in that moment that I would do anything to help him get baptized. As I was on my knees I saw Alan in all white in the temple. He can be there. And I'm going to do everything in my power to get him there. Near the end of the lesson I felt strongly that I needed to share a very personal experience with him. My natural man didn't necessarily want to. It was personal and I'd never shared it with anyone before. But I knew quite clearly that it was time to share, and that Alan needed to know MY personal experience. So I shared it. As I started to share the tears started coming. I let them fall. I was going to tell this story, share this experience. I told him about my struggles to obtain the missionary vision. How I had felt like a bad missionary because I didn't understand why baptism was so important. It made me think of a comment Soledad had made earlier in the day. ¨You would think that you guys get some kind of reward for the number of baptisms you have in the mission.¨That was how I felt as well, and I WAS a missionary. I prayed nights to try to figure out why it was so important. And finally I realized, while in the temple, although I didn't see that as my answer in the beginning. Only while searching later did I realize that I had received the answer before. And it's because of the atonement of Christ. We CANNOT access this power without baptism. It's that simple. That black and white. And as I shared I felt the spirit like a wave crash around me. So much power, so much love from Father. It filled my hearts and everyone around me. After sharing I felt completely drained, like all of my energy had been poured into this moment. There was no way he could have missed that overpowering rush of the spirit. Now I know why baptism is important. I am still learning, this is true, but I'm well on my way to finding this vision. And I know with all of my soul that Alan can find this vision as well. He truly Can be ready the 29th of November. And Father will help us, will help him. Of this I have great faith.
23rd of Nov: A day of miracles. In all of my days in the mission thus far we had never had luck in bringing investigators to church. They had always fallen through, and we had walked to church alone. But not this day. We had four people at church. We were seeing miracles. Living miracles. This mission is all about miracles! I can't explain my thoughts or my feelings. I can only marvel at the power of God. I can only marvel at this work. I can only marvel at what God is helping me to become.
Sunday before Dinner at the Montiel's with Rosana y mi companera

I'm not the same as I was before. And I'm not ever going back.

Hermana Dickson.