Tuesday, May 27, 2014

 May 27, 2014

 Hi mom and dad!

I love you!

How are you? I hope that all is well in California.
Thanks for mailing the letters, mom. I didn`t know their addresses and that was the only thing I could think of. 
That`s good that the garden is still going strong. And that`s funny about the cabbage. If you want some recipes of using cabbage in Guatemalan cooking, I can give you a few ideas. :)  
[Mom and Dad's broccoli plants were mislabeled.  Instead of broccoli sprouts, we got cabbage.]
I`m finishing up Alma - I finished Alma 48 today. I love Alma. Before my mission, I didn`t - I would always think, "The war chapters. Why are they here?" But then you read 1 Nephi 6:4-6 and realize that it`s there for a reason. Yes, there is a lot of blood and carnage, but there are also spiritual lessons in each chapter. you have to look for them, sometimes, but they`re there. Like today - I read Alma 47-48 and it was about Corianton (or is it with a "k"? I don`t remember) and Lehonti. And how Lehonti was "tempted" to come down the mountain 3 times (accepted teh fourth) before he only came down a little way and then, after a period of time, died because of his actions and treachery of others. But that`s how Satan works, by degrees. He lies to us, "Oh, one day without reading your scriptures will be ok" or "You don`t need to pray now before you go to bed - you prayed this morning". And then, it escalates from there and it`s easier each time to not do that thing. We need to keep all the commandments and when we mess up, we repent. As we repent and change, we become better and stronger spiritually, and then we find something else we need to fix, then we repent, and the process continues. We need to be strong in the faith and strong in our beliefs. And not let Satan in, for anything. 
And it`s true - Satan is running rampant and he and his angels are laughing because of the spiritually slain (3 Nephi). But, we have to keep pushing forward and teach those we can teach and serve those we can serve and help. I know it gets bleak sometimes, but we know who`s going to win in the end. We just have to choose what side we`re going to be on when that time comes. I know that living this Gospel will bring so many blessings in the lives of everyone that lives it. 
And, I`m starting to memorize "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" in Spanish. I have about the first two paragraphs memorized. It`ll be good, I think, so that I can quote it more readily to people here. 
I love you, mom and dad! I pray for you everyday and for our family! Keep strong in the faith!
It`s all good! :)
Con MUCHO amor,

Hermana Conover

 Addendums added after Michelle's initial letter: 

I forgot to tell you - we have changes this week (tomorrow) and I`m staying in Patulul and Hermana Johnson is leaving (I`m saying she`s going to Sololá, as well as everyone else we talk to...we`ll see).
So, I`ll let you know about my new companion the next week and I love you!
Con MUCHO amor,
Hermana Conover

 Oh, and we had four baptisms this past Sunday - a mom and three of her daughters. And we`re preparing her other daughter to be baptized this Sunday. They`re going to be really strong in the Church and I`m excited that they`re going to progress in the Gospel.
I love you!
-Hermana Conover

And it`s Amalikiah, not Korianton. I got it mized up just a bit...
Love you!
-Hermana Conover

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Letters to Dad and Mom May 20, 2014

May 20, 2014

Hi daddy!

I love you!

The cookie dough was good. (Chuck's good ol' recipe that Michelle likes.)  We`ve made it about 2 times now...and it goes just as fast.

I am on the taller side here in Guatemala. There are people that are tall (by U.S. standards) but it`s rare. And yes, you would be tall here. :)

That`s sad when the Temple closes for cleaning and reparations every year. But it makes you appreciate the Temple that much more. I know I appreciate the Temple more because I can`t just get up and go whenever I want. I definitely will take advantage of going every week when I get home, for as long as I can. But really, it makes going to the Temple that much more special. And I`m realizing how much family history helps converts stay in the Church. in Preach My Gospel, it talks about how using family history work will increase retention with the converts. We started focusing more in family history work with our converts and I think some of them will come back to church because they are looking for their parents and grandparents and ancestors to take their names to the Temple.

It`s true - I was reading Alma 32 this week and Alma was saying how much more blessed are the people that humble themselves without the Lord`s help (or, they choose to be humble and are not forced to be humbled). As we choose to allow the Lord into our lives to change our characters, we will be happier and we will become what the Lord wants us to be. 

This week we had a day where we had 12 lessons (8 with member) and it was incredible. It was probably one of the craziest days of my mission (we met a lot of different people that were really different). But I learned that I have patience for people. A few times during the day, I recognized that I have developed more patience in my life for other people. I`m still working on patience for myself, but that as well is getting better. And I know that I can change because Jesus Christ paid for the sufferings and afflictions that we have. He already paid HIs part and we just have to do our part. We need to do the little things - read the scriptures, pray, go to church, keep the commandments - and we have the right to ask for help with the things that we need to make better in our lives. I have seen many people here that don`t do the little things because they don`t think that they`re important or won`t help, but that is so far from the truth. Like it says in Alma 37:6-7, "by small and simple things are great things brought to pass". As a companionship, we`re going to do better with explaining that with all the people that we teach - less actives, investigators, inactives, etc. I know that it is through these things that we improve and have the Spirit more with us.

I love you, dad! I pray for you and mom and our family everyday!

Con MUCHO amor,

Hermana Conover

May 20, 2014

Hi momma!

I love you!

I`m glad Sister Silvester got her letter. And that Sister Nelson read my note to the Young Women to the girls. It`s interesting to see how the Spirit works with me - for me it works through thoughts most of the time. I keep thinking about a quote from Elder Bednar, "If you`re worried if it`s you thinking or the Spirit, stop worrying about it. Be a good boy, be a good girl, do what you`re supposed to do, and you`ll be led to do the right thing" (paraphrase). AKA, if we`re doing good things, it doesn`t matter if it`s us or the Spirit, because we`re doing good things (Moroni 7:16-17).

Kelly told me that Sarah Jane`s still afraid of the water. Give her a hug for me and tell her to pray have faith (Alma 32:21) and that God will help her have peace (John 14:26, I think).

And yes, it is better that you lose your shyness before your mission. It might act up again and you need to know how to overcome it. And being able to sing really helps, especially in the countries where there isn`t a piano and no one really knows the tune. So tell the kids to learn how to sing the hymns and play them, if they are learning to play piano.

And guess who got to play trombone this past week? Yep. We had a talent night in the branch and the branch president found one somewhere and I got to play (I played "Abide with me, tis eventide" and "The Spirit of God"). Considering that I haven`t played for a while, it was pretty good. And I also sang a Spanish version of "Come thou fount". Every says that my voice is pretty good and I`ve been singing more. I`m going to sing for hte baptism we have this next weekend. 

And Samuel didn`t get baptized this weekend and we`re going to meet with him tonight. Some things came up and we think that he didn`t feel prepared (because he didn`t come to church on Sunday nor got up for his interview on Saturday). But he still wants to get baptized, we just have to work with him.

BUT we will baptize 4 people this week (Sunday) - Natalia and three of her daughters. And her other daughter will get baptized on the next Sunday and her nieces are starting to investigate the church. She`s awesome - she`s going to do great things in the church.

This morning, my companion and I were talking about how we need to do the little things that are the part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ - read the scriptures, pray, go to church, keep the commandments - because we have seen so many people stop coming to church because they dropped the "little things". They don`t think that the little things offer salvation, but they do. Hermana Johnson was reading in 4 Nephi and how the people started to divide, but it first started with a small part of the people. And I read yesterday in Alma 32 and how we need to nourish our seed with the small things. It`s true when it says "by small and simple things are great things brought to pass" (Alma 37:6-7). We`re going to help people see that more and that they really do need to do the small things to have salvation and not just keep the "big" commandments like the word of wisdom or law of chastity. It`s the small things that will keep us safe and keep Satan out of our hearts and minds. Because if he has a millimeter of space to work in our hearts, he will attack us with all the force he has until he "seals us as his". So don`t let Satan in and do the small things in the Gospel to keep us safe.

I love you, mom! I hope that you and everyone are safe and well! I pray for you all everyday and love you!

Con MUCHO amor,
Hermana Conover

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Letters to Dad and Mom May 13, 2014

Today at 12:34 PM
May 13, 2014
Hi daddy!
That was such a blessing (and miracle) that we got to talk through Skype on Sunday. I am very grateful that we had that opportunity. And my eyes are more green now than brown. I don`t know why, but they`re green. Maybe it`s all the sun.
And yes, I have some difficulty sometimes thinking of words in English. I`m glad that my companion is from Arizona and that I can ask her. And the Zone leader, as well. But, I can relearn English when I get home, if I need to. 
I forgot to ask you that on Sunday - so you did make cookies? We have made the cookie dough two times here in Patulul. My companion wrote down the recipe (I hope that`s ok). And we`ve just eaten it as cookie dough because we don`t have an oven, but if we wanted to, I bet we could cook it in a box with tin foil. But, it`s good just to eat it. :)
There wasn`t AC, but that`s ok, you get used to it.
That`s so weird that you don`t have a calling. How many years has it been? But, knowing the ward, you`ll have a calling again real quick. Maybe you`ll finally work with the nursery! :)

Right now in Preach My Gospel, we just finished reading Chapter 8 about using time wisely. And I love what it says about stewardship and how we need to learn it in the mission because it`s an eternal principle that we`ll use after the mission and after this life, as well.
And today I read in Alma 20 and 21. I especially like Alma 21:23 and how Ammon taught the people of Limhi all things concerning righteousness. And how he was "diligent" in teaching the people. Diligence is an attribute of Christ. We need to develop it as much as we need to develop our faith or our humility or virtue (Chapter 6, PMG.) [Preach My Gospel] We emphasize diligence a lot in our mission - we walk fast (or run, as the case may be), we contact everyone, and we are exactly obedient to have the Spirit and miracles in the missionary work. I know that diligence is also a principle of the eternities and that we need to be proactive to do the things that God asks us to do and that we`re not "slothful servants".
I love you, dad! I am so grateful that I got to see you Sunday! I`ll see you in a month! :) (it`s going to feel like that, just watch)
I love you! I pray for you! and ¡Todo está bien!
Con MUCHO amor,
Hermana Conover
May 13, 2014
Hi mom!

I`m sorry we started late - it was a bunch of things that happened on our end and sorry if you were stressing about it. [Mama wasn't stressing, but the papa bear surely was.)  But I`m just glad we got to Skype and not just talk on the phone. It was such a blessing to see you and dad and our family well.
And it`s true - the Book of Mormon converts people. We use the Bible to convince people (like teaching them how to pray, or how Jesus was baptized) and then we have them read the Book of Mormon to fill in the gaps and to make things "clearer". [Michelle told us in our Skyping session with her that the Bible "convinces," the Book of Mormon "converts".]
And ward music chairman. That`s exciting - what`s Lydia`s calling, again?
I think I said "It`s all good" more in our conversation than in all of my mission. But, it`s true. If we`re optimistic and hopeful and have faith through the hard things in life and choose to be happy, then it`s all good and we can be happy in hard things. And we can have the confidence that we can do hard things.
This week we`re reading in Preach My Gospel in Chapter 8 (and starting Chapter 9 tomorrow) and I love how it talks about spending time wisely. I made the connection the other day that the class I took my first year of college about spending time wisely is Chapter 8 of Preach My Gospel. Well. I`m going to apply it better in my life, now. I understand better how to organize time. And this week I`ve also realized how much the mission prepares us for life - we learn tools in the mission, but we can apply them to life. We we`re talking about outlines for lessons and practicing them, and my companion and I realized that it also works for helping our future kids, If they have a problem, you can practice what you`re going to say and you can receive revelation for them. If it happens in the mission, it can also happen in life.
And I read Alma 20 and 21 today.  And I love Alma 21:16-17 and how it was AFTER that Aaron and his brethren were patient they received blessings. Sometimes, it`s hard to be patient in our afflictions, but when we`re patient and are steadfast and immovable, we can have the assurance that we will be blessed for our patience.
I love you, mom! I`m so glad that I got to see you and the family on Sunday! I pray for you and dad and our family everyday! Have a wonderful week and I hope that you`re plants don`t die and get enough water!
Con MUCHO amor,
Hermana "It`s All Good" Conover

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

May 6, 2014 Letters to Dad and Mom

May 6, 2014

Dear dad,

¡Está todo bien! (now you`ve heard it in Spanish) ; )  [Michelle always says "It's all good!" accompanied by double thumbs up.]

 I love you!

Our area is pretty big and there are a lot of "callehones" (alleys) where there are a lot of houses. So it`s a pretty good sized area. In a bus, our area goes out probably an half an hour or forty-.five minutes. We walk, but to get out farther, we take a pick-up (called "fletes") or a bus or mini-bus. And there are not addresses in Patulul. But if you`re looking at Patulul from above, there`s the church (our Church) and everything to the right is our area, until Pachuta and Parma.

That`s great about Jordan. That`s sweet that he asked you to do that. [A young friend asked Chuck to come to his ward and assist in giving his baby a name and blessing.]

That`s interesting about the General Authority.  
[Elder Christoffel Golden spoke at the Antioch stake conference on May 5, 2014.  He emphasized in the Saturday night session that we need to let up a little on each other, and also to lighten up on ourselves, as well.]
That`s true, especially in the church. That`s the funny thing about the members - we are all perfectionists. Maybe not all, but a good deal of us are. But the thing is, we just have to do our best. There was an article in the Liahona ( I think) that talked about how we don`t talk a lot about "grace", but grace really does work. In the "Guide to the Scriptures" (it`s the Spanish version of the Bible Dictionary and Topical Guide), it says that grace is "The power of God that makes it possible that humans (humankind) can receive blessings in this life and obtain eternal life in the world to come and exaltation after they exercise faith, repent, and do what is possible to keep the commandments" (loose translation, sorry). And later, it says, "Every mortal person needs this divine grace, as a consequence of the fall of Adam, and as a cause of the weaknesses of man". I know that grace works. It`s through grace that we receive blessings and receive a forgiveness of our sins. It`s through grace that we can take part of the Atonement. Too often we are too hard on ourselves, but if we`re doing what we`re supposed to do and are exercising our faith and keeping the commandments and being a witness of Christ, then we are doing our part.

We found an inactive sister that is attending an Evangelical church. But, here`s the thing, she reads to the congregation from the Book of Mormon. We had heard about her from the Senior couple that also works in our area. We thought she was going to "bible bash" with us or something, but we were humbled. She wants to go to church - she knows it`s the true church and that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that the Book of Mormon is true. But something happened between her and a member a while back. It was so sad. So we`re going to help her exercise the Atonement in her life so that she can partake of these blessings, as well.

I love you, dad! I pray for you and mom and our family everyday! I`m excited to see you and mom Sunday! (and everyone else who might be there)

Con MUCHO amor,

Hermana Conover
P.S. and can you believe that it`s been nine months tomorrow? I can`t. It doesn`t feel like 9 months.

May 6, 2014

Dear mom,

I love you!

{Mom asked Michelle quite a few questions about her new area and how she is adapting to it.  Michelle gives her answers but follows each one with "don't worry".]

I`ll get to work on taking pictures on P-Day so that you can have more of an idea of what Patulul is like.

We definitely don`t have cold problems here - it`s hot, but there are hotter parts in the mission, I`ll admit. We have blackout problems - when it rains really hard, the power goes out. But, every time, we say, "¡Que bendición!" (what a blessing).

We don`t use our boots, I`ll admit. We can`t walk fast in them, so I bought a pair of shoes that hold up in the rain. So, don`t worry. And someone stole my umbrella in my first area and, so far, I`ve bought two (I`m using the third one, now). But don`t worry, it`s fine. (and the umbrella was the only thing they stole - it was outside of our apartment and someone took it. So DON^T WORRY).

Correction - I don`t know if it was a cuss word and I don`t remember the word, I only remember that the way he said it and that it sounded like a cuss word. I do not know cuss words in Spanish.

Just sometimes we have dogs chasing us. ; ) Don`t worry, I haven`t been bitten and I know some tricks to keep them away, so no tenga pena (don`t worry).

YOU WENT TO THE TEMPLE!!! [First time since mom's hip surgery just before Michelle went to Guatemala.] That`s so exciting. Isn`t the new movie great? I love the emotion and the pauses. You feel the Spirit so much more and realize the importance of it all. Yes, we learn every time we go, but the Spirit is different with this one. I love it. I`m so happy that you got to go to the Temple. You`ve missed it, I`m sure. I know I have.

Well, tomorrow I complete 9 months in the mission and wow. The time has flown. Really. Hermana Johnson and I are astounded with the fact that we are halfway done. It does not feel like 9 months, at all. It has really flown by, these months. And I`ve learned so much in the past 9 months and will continue to learn. I`m grateful that I`ve learned about exact obedience here in the misison and being diligent in all things. And learning how to contact a bus and teach people. Helping people find out who God really is, as our Father. Learning about the Atonement and applying it to their lives and seeing the power of the Atonement changing them and their lives for the better. 

Everyday I learn a little bit more how Jesus Christ is the center of EVERYTHING. Without Him, we can`t have this blessing of the Gospel or the Atonement or anything like that. We wouldn`t be here. We wouldn`t have the opportunity to learn from our mistakes and repent from them. I know that the Atonement works and that Heavenly Father only asks for our obedience. He has given us everything and only asks for our obedience.

I love you, mom! I pray for you and I`m very excited to see you and dad Sunday. And I`m also excited that you went to the Temple!

Con MUCHO amor,
Hermana Conover