Monday, April 27, 2015

My Argentine Surprise and Waiting Out the Miracles!

First of all, I thought I'd share that on Tuesday I became a mom for the second time in the mission! How quick! We received a call on Monday night from President, in which he told me I would be training Hermana Riquelme,from Buenos Aires, who was waiting for her visa to serve in Mexico. She is brand new in the mission:) She spent 2 weeks in the MTC in Argentina. On top of that, I am still with the wonderful Hermana Yancey, making us a trio! I have to say, I was a little overwhelmed, but so happy for the opportunity to serve in such a capacity! We have spent a wonderful week together, the three of us, and I feel so humbled to be training the two of them. It truly feels as though they are training me, helping me to stretch and become the missionary I've been called to be since day one.

My computer didn't work for pictures so today will include pictures from last week.

So lucky to be with Hawkins again:

On P-day last week: me, Hermana Hawkins, Duran, and Yancey

This Sunday, Hawkins and I will be singing with 2 elders accompanied by Hermana Duran (from Honduras) on the flute at the Despedida in San Fernando.

 In the train station:

This week we searched high and low for investigators, for people who truly have a hunger and thirst for the restored gospel of Christ. Throughout the process we were humbled, and were able to grow closer to Christ. Up until Sunday night we had yet to find one new person. We had made several plans Sunday morning to bring various people to church, but no one was there when we passed by. We had also sent out two different members to help us search out two investigators, but they had the same luck as us. All I knew was that we had done our part. As we were out on Sunday night, with Franklin accompanying us, he told us he had a friend that we could visit. He usually has people we can visit, but often they are old investigators from missionaries before or less active members. Regardless, we always try to visit them. 
This time, as we met the friend of Franklin I could quickly feel that he was an escogido, or someone ready and prepared to hear of the gospel. We invited him to church, gave him the pamphlet over the Restoration, and then I invited him to be baptized. He accepted for the date of the 17 of May. What a powerful blessing and sign of God's presence in the work after a week of searching! Often times, after all we can do, God seems to bless us, putting something or someone in our path that we never saw coming. It is such a testimony builder for me. 
More views of San Fernando

One of the biggest miracles of the week is watching my two hijas progress so quickly! They work together very well. Hermana Yancey has a great knowledge of this area, and Hermana Riquelme is very straight-forward and bold. The three of us truly make a powerful team. 
Some of our Zone:

The sister leaders and I

What a blessing to work with the best the mission has to offer! 
I love all of you:) Take care, and remember, the work isn't ours. 
It's His.

Hermana Dickson
Hopefully, the pictures of my "hija" come through next week!
One of my favorite talks from the most recent General Conference: Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
 "Where Justice, Love, and Mercy Meet"
                                 Referring to Easter:

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"Without safety ropes, harnesses, or climbing gear of any kind, two brothers—Jimmy, age 14, and John, age 19 (though those aren’t their real names)—attempted to scale a sheer canyon wall in Snow Canyon State Park in my native southern Utah. Near the top of their laborious climb, they discovered that a protruding ledge denied them their final few feet of ascent. They could not get over it, but neither could they now retreat from it. They were stranded. After careful maneuvering, John found enough footing to boost his younger brother to safety on top of the ledge. But there was no way to lift himself. The more he strained to find finger or foot leverage, the more his muscles began to cramp. Panic started to sweep over him, and he began to fear for his life.

Unable to hold on much longer, John decided his only option was to try to jump vertically in an effort to grab the top of the overhanging ledge. If successful, he might, by his considerable arm strength, pull himself to safety.
In his own words, he said:
“Prior to my jump I told Jimmy to go search for a tree branch strong enough to extend down to me, although I knew there was nothing of the kind on this rocky summit. It was only a desperate ruse. If my jump failed, the least I could do was make certain my little brother did not see me falling to my death.
“Giving him enough time to be out of sight, I said my last prayer—that I wanted my family to know I loved them and that Jimmy could make it home safely on his own—then I leapt. There was enough adrenaline in my spring that the jump extended my arms above the ledge almost to my elbows. But as I slapped my hands down on the surface, I felt nothing but loose sand on flat stone. I can still remember the gritty sensation of hanging there with nothing to hold on to—no lip, no ridge, nothing to grab or grasp. I felt my fingers begin to recede slowly over the sandy surface. I knew my life was over.
“But then suddenly, like a lightning strike in a summer storm, two hands shot out from somewhere above the edge of the cliff, grabbing my wrists with a strength and determination that belied their size. My faithful little brother had not gone looking for any fictitious tree branch. Guessing exactly what I was planning to do, he had never moved an inch. He had simply waited—silently, almost breathlessly—knowing full well I would be foolish enough to try to make that jump. When I did, he grabbed me, held me, and refused to let me fall. Those strong brotherly arms saved my life that day as I dangled helplessly above what would surely have been certain death.”1

My beloved brothers and sisters, today is Easter Sunday. Although we should always remember (we promise in our weekly sacramental prayers that we will), nevertheless this is the most sacred day of the year for special remembrance of brotherly hands and determined arms that reached into the abyss of death to save us from our fallings and our failings, from our sorrows and our sins. Against the background of this story reported by John and Jimmy’s family, I express my gratitude for the Atonement and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and acknowledge events in the divine plan of God that led up to and give meaning to “the love Jesus offers [us].”2
In our increasingly secular society, it is as uncommon as it is unfashionable to speak of Adam and Eve or the Garden of Eden or of a “fortunate fall” into mortality. Nevertheless, the simple truth is that we cannot fully comprehend the Atonement and Resurrection of Christ and we will not adequately appreciate the unique purpose of His birth or His death—in other words, there is no way to truly celebrate Christmas or Easter—without understanding that there was an actual Adam and Eve who fell from an actual Eden, with all the consequences that fall carried with it.
I do not know the details of what happened on this planet before that, but I do know these two were created under the divine hand of God, that for a time they lived alone in a paradisaical setting where there was neither human death nor future family, and that through a sequence of choices they transgressed a commandment of God which required that they leave their garden setting but which allowed them to have children before facing physical death.3 To add further sorrow and complexity to their circumstance, their transgression had spiritual consequences as well, cutting them off from the presence of God forever. Because we were then born into that fallen world and because we too would transgress the laws of God, we also were sentenced to the same penalties that Adam and Eve faced.
What a plight! The entire human race in free fall—every man, woman, and child in it physically tumbling toward permanent death, spiritually plunging toward eternal anguish. Is that what life was meant to be? Is this the grand finale of the human experience? Are we all just hanging in a cold canyon somewhere in an indifferent universe, each of us searching for a toehold, each of us seeking for something to grip—with nothing but the feeling of sand sliding under our fingers, nothing to save us, nothing to hold on to, much less anything to hold on to us? Is our only purpose in life an empty existential exercise—simply to leap as high as we can, hang on for our prescribed three score years and ten, then fail and fall, and keep falling forever?
The answer to those questions is an unequivocal and eternal no! With prophets ancient and modern, I testify that “all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.”4 Thus, from the moment those first parents stepped out of the Garden of Eden, the God and Father of us all, anticipating Adam and Eve’s decision, dispatched the very angels of heaven to declare to them—and down through time to us—that this entire sequence was designed for our eternal happiness. It was part of His divine plan, which provided for a Savior, the very Son of God Himself—another “Adam,” the Apostle Paul would call Him5—who would come in the meridian of time to atone for the first Adam’s transgression. That Atonement would achieve complete victory over physical death, unconditionally granting resurrection to every person who has been born or ever will be born into this world. Mercifully it would also provide forgiveness for the personal sins of all, from Adam to the end of the world, conditioned upon repentance and obedience to divine commandments.
As one of His ordained witnesses, I declare this Easter morning that Jesus of Nazareth was and is that Savior of the world, the “last Adam,”6 the Author and Finisher of our faith, the Alpha and Omega of eternal life. “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive,”7 Paul declared. And from the prophet-patriarch Lehi: “Adam fell that men might be. … And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall.”8 Most thoroughly of all, the Book of Mormon prophet Jacob taught as part of a two-day sermon on the Atonement of Jesus Christ that “the resurrection must … come … by reason of the fall.”9
So today we celebrate the gift of victory over every fall we have ever experienced, every sorrow we have ever known, every discouragement we have ever had, every fear we have ever faced—to say nothing of our resurrection from death and forgiveness for our sins. That victory is available to us because of events that transpired on a weekend precisely like this nearly two millennia ago in Jerusalem.
Beginning in the spiritual anguish of the Garden of Gethsemane, moving to the Crucifixion on a cross at Calvary, and concluding on a beautiful Sunday morning inside a donated tomb, a sinless, pure, and holy man, the very Son of God Himself, did what no other deceased person had ever done nor ever could do. Under His own power, He rose from death, never to have His body separated from His spirit again. Of His own volition, He shed the burial linen with which He had been bound, carefully putting the burial napkin that had been placed over His face “in a place by itself,”10 the scripture says.
That first Easter sequence of Atonement and Resurrection constitutes the most consequential moment, the most generous gift, the most excruciating pain, and the most majestic manifestation of pure love ever to be demonstrated in the history of this world. Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, suffered, died, and rose from death in order that He could, like lightning in a summer storm, grasp us as we fall, hold us with His might, and through our obedience to His commandments, lift us to eternal life.
This Easter I thank Him and the Father, who gave Him to us, that Jesus still stands triumphant over death, although He stands on wounded feet. This Easter I thank Him and the Father, who gave Him to us, that He still extends unending grace, although He extends it with pierced palms and scarred wrists. This Easter I thank Him and the Father, who gave Him to us, that we can sing before a sweat-stained garden, a nail-driven cross, and a gloriously empty tomb:
How great, how glorious, how complete
Redemption’s grand design,
Where justice, love, and mercy meet
In harmony divine!11
In the sacred name of the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ, amen."


Monday, April 20, 2015

The Official HalfWay Mark in the 18 month adventure series: Argentina!

On Thursday, the 16th of April, I celebrated my illustrious 9 month mark in the mission. This signifies that I am now halfway done with my mission, and everything is down hill and racing from here! In the very beginning of the mission President Ayre shared with my district regarding a certain mountain, the mountain of the mission. He drew it on the board, telling us that the first 9 months were all uphill, steep and rugged, without the ability to see the top or over to the other side. He then drew the second half, a sharp downward decline to the other side. He told us that as soon as we hit the halfway mark we were a blink from home, and would be fighting to keep up with the pace of the time. Let me tell you, at the beginning of the mission we all laughed/inwardly cried, thinking that such a day would Never come, as every day seemed to stretch into a month! And yet, having reached that top of the hill, I can safely say that President was completely right. The first 9 months were quite the climb. I couldn't see the top of the mountain, and the other side seemed impossibly far away. And now, hanging out on the top and looking down at the 9 months I have left, I can say beforehand that it's going to FLY by. I have been so blessed to have been sent to the best mission in the world, Buenos Aires Norte, Argentina. My other friends on missions may contest such, but it's an undisputed fact. ;)

 Hermana Hawkins and I, now in the same zone! (She's a sister training leader.)

 This is us after 9 months in the mission.

 Hermana Hawkins and I at the MTC together, in the beginning!

As for the week, Hermana Yancey and I have been working extremely hard to find escogidos, or people that truly are prepared and waiting to find the gospel. We made tons of plans, walked until my feet gave up, and talked with tons of people. And yet, we didn't end up finding anyone this week. I have to say, as yesterday rolled around and we didn't have anyone at church I was feeling pretty frustrated. On Saturday night I'd been pleased with the work we'd put in, and was sort of banking on the fact that the Lord would help us get someone to church. 

We didn't have anyone at church as an investigator. 
But, as we went through the rest of the day and I gave it more thought I couldn't help but see all the little miracles my companion and I had witnessed throughout the week. All the people we had touched in little ways. All of the effort we had put in. We hadn't been able to bring an investigator to church, but we had brought a young girl and her cousin to church. The young girl, Carmela, isn't baptized yet, although she has turned 8. The cousin was attending regularly, but always went at 9:30, missing the sacrament every week. We had gone to the house at 8:30 in the morning with the intent of bringing Juliana, Carmela's mom who isn't a member. She wasn't there, but we did bring the two girls to church. We brought two more souls to the sacrament. As I contemplated on the little act I couldn't help but Feel that we had done what we could do. That the Lord was pleased with our work, and that we Would find. 
 My view of San Fernando

from our porch/laundry room

 This is my 'washer and dryer'! It's outside on the balcony.


We saw many little miracles as we helped less active members feel the spirit. We didn't do anything out of the ordinary, or anything that hasn't been done before, but we brought the spirit. We shared from the scriptures, we prayed with them, we built them up spiritually and then asked for referrals. And we received quite a few referrals this week. I have realized that I need to do less "scheduling for the next appointment", and more acting in the moment. Sharing the scripture NOW, not setting another day to do it. Saying the prayer now, or inviting them to do so. Because these people need to feel the spirit Now. That is what is going to make the change in these people. In this work. I can't stress that enough. If we are not bringing the spirit to Every person we speak to we are Not succeeding. As missionaries. And also as members. 
In the train station of Tigre, waiting for our zone activity to start.

 train station

 Attempting to eat a cookie with no hands, fun p-day activity with the zone:

As we worked this week we brought the spirit, not only to those around us, but to each other. How I love the work. 
Letters to all my dear converts.

Turns out my current companion is an amazing artist and was studying art at BYU-I before the mission!

9 months to go! 
 With my current companion, Herman Yancey.


Hermana Dickson. 
(Thank you to all who prayed for and continue to pray for Mallory!  She had been quite sick for 3 weeks but is finally well.)

Monday, April 13, 2015

Week 3 in San Fernando

"You are having much more influence than it may feel like sometimes."

This comment shared with me this last week sums up this last week of missionary service. I feel that oftentimes we do not see the influence, the light that we are casting on those around us. It's hard to see a light that's within us, but very easy for those around us to see, to feel. This week consisted of overcoming sickness, district meetings, avoiding fish, working on the mission history, going to the doctor, interviews with President, avoiding facturas (the Argentine equivalent of a donut), going to the doctor again, Fasting for the Cordoba temple, receiving a blessing of health, and sneaking a little bit of fish (cerviche, a Peruvian dish consisting of raw fish).

So let's get to it!
There is art everywhere in Argentina!

 On April 6th my companion and I enjoyed a very relaxing Pday. We ordered a pizza, drew, and told stories, and went window shopping in search of Aladdin pants. However, as 5 o'clock drew near I started feeling sick and asked my companion if we could run back to the house. As it turned 6, I was laying in bed calling the nurse and Hermana Ayre. With their help I got an appointment scheduled with Hermana Ayre's children's doctor. We couldn't go out and work the usual 3 hours that we work on Monday, as I felt too sick to leave.

On the 7th we had a District meeting, the first we've actually had this transfer. We talked all about the Book of Mormon, of its power and the influence it has in the conversion process. It made me think of the powerful Book of Mormon experiences I'd had in the MTC. It turns out that Elder Roberts is not only my zone leader, but in my district as well! (the brother of my MTC teacher Hermano Roberts) It was a very spiritual experience. 

On the 8th we were given fish for lunch. I can't eat lunch due to my face treatment, but thankfully it was a vianda, meaning a meal we take home to eat in the house.  We also had the opportunity to help Hermana Lines with the mission history, finally! From there off we went to the doctor in Olivos, about 40 minutes away in train. On our walk over we saw a beautiful old church covered in ivy. "Majestic!" As Hermana Yancey would say;) When we got there the doctor, who actually speaks English, Spanish, and German, helped me out and gave me a diet as to what I could and couldn't eat. Turns out I wasn't allowed to eat anything sweet... talk about a nightmare! 

Pictures of my last day in Caballito

On the 9th we had interviews with President, as well as visiting with his wife and talking to the assistants: Elder Stout, Fabila, and Periera. We talked with Elder Stout first. He talked about us as beacons of light, lighting up our area. How every member was a working light bulb, casting light around them. The less active members were unlit light bulbs that we had to try to turn on, with some of the them casting a brilliant array of light. He told us how we needed to strengthen the members, to turn them from simple light bulbs to lighthouses of light and strength. It was an amazing mental image, to see the light absolutely flooding our area. We then talked with Elder Fabila, who talked to us about the definition of escogidos, or the elect. As he did so he told my companion and I that we had been specifically chosen by the Lord to come to this area at this time and to work with these people. As he shared such the spirit hit me hard and I started to cry. I apologized for doing so, to which he quickly responded that he cried all the time in the mission as well. From there I talked with President. I always cry with President, so that wasn't a surprise. He told me I was doing a great job and that he was very pleased with me, which meant a lot. From there I spoke with  Hermana Ayre, our "mission mom", who got to hear all about my interesting state of health. And then Elder Periera, who talked about improving our teaching skills. It was a very wonderful experience, even though I kept on being offered facturas I couldn't eat... Talk about tribulation! Good thing I'm good at resisting temptation... 
We also found Isabela while trying to visit some old investigators. She received us very well and we set up a return appointment. 

On the 10th we went to do my face treatment, for the last time! Yay! 

On the 11th we began our 24 hour fast after lunch with the Rejas, a wonderful family:) We were asked to fast for the dedication of the Cordoba temple, that is coming right up! 

The Argentina Cordoba Temple

On the 12th we headed off to church. The night before I had had a dream about Maria, that she had wanted to go to church. I found that interesting, as we had seen her the day before and she had told us that she wouldn't be going to church the next day. Something seemed to be going wrong, but we didn't know how to help her. After the dream I felt prompted to go see if she wanted to go to church after all. She lives far away from the church, so we would be spending a good 20 minutes walking there, and back, without any way of knowing if she would be there or would even talk to us. However, the prompting was strong, and I followed it. I'm sure Hermana Yancey thought I was a little crazy, but she went with me. We got to her house at about 8:30 and rang the doorbell a few times. Someone finally came to the door, but it was Maria's dad, who said that she was sleeping and that we could come back the next day at 6. As we took the train back in order to make it to church on time I couldn't help but feel a little confused and frustrated. Why had I received a prompting that hadn't resulted in anything that I could see? 

The chapel in San Fernando


At church I still wasn't feeling good, as had been the story of the week. I had called Elder Fabila on Friday night to ask him if he and his companions could give me a blessing. He'd offered to give it immediately, but I assured him we'd be just fine to wait until Sunday. I apologized for taking up his time, but he very quickly let me know that I was Not taking up their time, and that they wanted to serve us and help us in any way possible. After the different church meetings, I was given the blessing. Elder Fabila offered it. All I'll share is that the spirit was very strong, and I know without a doubt that these 3 elders, the assistants to the president, were called by God. That God was truly speaking to me personally through the blessing. That the power of the priesthood is very real, and extremely powerful.
That night when we went to visit Oscar, a recent convert, he gave us a little bit of cerviche, a Peruvian fish dish that I actually like quite a bit. I got to steal a bite of it, and man was it good! Hermana Yancey had the honors of trying it for the first time. However, this was unlike any Cerviche I'VE ever seen, as it consisted of tentacles as well! The brave girl ate them all, what a trooper!  

Things are finally cooling down in San Fernando, although in an interesting way. It's hot for most of the day, especially in the sun, and then as the sun leaves it gets really cold. The wind is cold and the shade as well, so we don't have any idea what to wear! 
This week I felt as though we did everything we could to have people at church, and that regardless we had "failed" in some way, by not having investigators in church. And yet, it's about More than that. It's about our influence. The little things we do every day just to do Good. I know that this work is of God. I have no doubt. I am working among some of the greatest the world has to offer! As I have heard many times and can easily testify, I am in the best mission there is in the world;) 

I love all of you and am praying for you. Remember, follow the promptings. Even if they don't make sense. Because God still speaks to us in these days. He has not ceased to be a God of miracles, and if we do not see the miracles, it is because of our lack of faith, not His lack of power.
Hermana Dickson

Monday, April 6, 2015

Week 2 in San Fernando. The Week of Easter and General Conference!

Hey all of you! I hope everything is well, that every one had a wonderful Pascua, or Easter, and that General Conference was enjoyed! I personally recieved an outpouring of direction and guidance that I can't wait to study and apply in the upcoming 6 months! This was my second conference in the mission, and I only have one more to go before enjoying the April 2016 conference at home:) What a crazy thought...

As for this week, my companion and I did everything we could to find new people to teach, to have members with us, and to invite people to the Ward Home Evening that occurred on Friday night. It actually turned into a pretty tough week, as members kept telling us last minute that they couldn't accompany us, making lessons with a member tough! However, with blessings and heaven's help we pushed through, coming to the end of the week with enough lessons and four new investigators! We also saw a lot of success with the Ward Home Evening:) Lots of members came and had a spiritual and enjoyable time. We started with paper airplanes, followed by a water balloon toss that I was embaressingly bad at (my poor companion), and ending with some church videos. 
Here are some photos of my new area in San Fernando.

 This the the chapel here and it is also where all the farewells at the end of the mission are held.

The highlight of the week was EASILY General Conference, and for those of you who haven't heard of it or seen it, I highly recommend taking a look at! You'll be sure to find a talk that answers a specific question or concern you have. The spirit was incredibly strong in all of the sessions and I received a lot of answers and guidance to personal questions I had brought. 
My room here in San Fernando: No A/C but nice fans

In between the two sessions on Saturday we went out to try to invite people to the conference. We couldn't find a member to go with us, but decided to head out anyway with faith that we'd make some sort of progress and help move forward God's work in some small way. We were trying to get ahold of Facundo, a new investigator we'd found at the beginning of the week. We had been trying, and failing, to find him all week without any luck. As we passed by it was no different. He still wasn't home, and we had to talk to the same poor man who we'd talked to the entire week, who informed us once more that Facundo wasn't home. We were about to just leave when I figured we might as well invite the man we always ended up talking to to conference as well. We asked him if we could invite him. He told us to give him a moment, and then he disappeared. We waited, unsure of what was happening, when a guy we hadn't met before came up to us and asked us if we were looking for Facundo. We said yes, to which he said he was a friend of Facundo and was actually looking for him as well. We started up a conversation, inviting him to conference and getting to know him a little bit better. His name is Jacquin. As we talked with him the conversation flowed naturally and we set up a different time to pass by his house and teach him. As we talked he complimented me on my spanish, asking me how I'd learned so well. When his friend came up and started talking to us as well he also seemed a little surprised by my ability to speak. He said to Jacquin with surprise in his voice that I even seemed to know the littler mannerisms of a typical Argentine, to which I responded: Me esta cargando! A typical Argentine phrase that seemed to entertain the both of them. I'm looking forward to passing by this upcoming Tuesday and talking more with Jacquin:) 
Lunch last P-day: take a look at these crazy hotdogs!  I had the pizza one!

I know they look super expensive but 25 pesos here is about $2.50 American dollars.

My wonderful companion whose training I am finishing: Hermana Yancey

We also got to have lunch/dinner with Hermana and Elder Lines between the Sunday Sessions of General Conference. It was delicious, and then we got to watch the last session of conference with them. Great day! With Franklin's help we were able to have 7 lessons with a member after conference, helping us have the number of lessons we needed for the week!
It may have been a rough week in some regards, but I can't help but reflect on how blessed we were, throughout every moment and every day. The Lord truly is in the inner workings of our lives. Of this I can testify.

After 2 months, I was able to finish reading The Book of Mormon in Spanish!

So, take the time to watch conference! Continue to do the little things that bring us so much STRENGTH.
Pray on your knees.
Dig into the scriptures.
Go to church and actually plan to CHANGE from what you have learned!
Love you all!
Hermana Dickson