June 29, 2015

I'm going to Posadas!

Transfers came today! And after spending almost my entire mission in Paraguay, I'm going back to Argentina! And not just anywhere in Argentina- I`m going to Posadas! It's called Barrio Jardin, and I'll be with Hermana Cannon. I don't know her at all, I think she just barely finished her training. I'm super excited that I get to finish in Argentina!

These past few weeks I have been focusing on just trying to love every single aspect of being on the mission. The awkward stuff, the gross stuff, the scary stuff, etc... Life is definitely a lot more exciting and rewarding when I can laugh bad experiences off!

Maria Isabel came to church on Sunday again! She has a lot of questions that we are answering using the Book of Mormon. It really contains the fullness of the gospel and answers the questions of the soul. 

Also, as a mission we have been putting an emphasis on using the Book of Mormon more. President LaPierre and the assistants put together a list of 25 scriptures from the Book of Mormon that the entire mission has to memorize. At first I thought "easy, scripture masteries." But nope, they are not the scripture masteries we learned in seminary. They are 25 ADDITIONAL scriptures to memorize. But we have been actually using them a lot! I love seeing how our leaders can be inspired to counsel us so well.

The other sisters in our ward had a baptism on Friday! His name is Silverio and he is 69 years old! He is such an example of humility! He is willing to change his life and follow Christ. Even though he has had 69 years of bad habits built up, he is leaving everything behind because he truly wants to follow his Savior. I love it. The gospel can truly change people and it can enhance our lives.

Romans 1:16 " For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth;"

I love you all! Have a wonderful week!
Hermana Simmons

June 22, 2015

surprise, surprise

I found out this morning that my life is about to turn into an uncomfortably realistic rendition of "The RM" (the movie).  Luckily I still have a few months of mission bliss to dim out reality haha. But even if Mom and Dad and Taylia move to Utah, I still am and forever will be Idahoan! (yay for potatoes!)

This week we were out tracting when we met a man named Estevan, he seemed really eager to talk with us which put us on the alert (here in Ciudad "really eager" usually means either "really drunk" or "really creepy"). As we talked with him, we realized that he had lots of in depth questions about the gospel because he had talked a lot with the Elders before. I don't think he had ever met sister missionaries before Hna Moreno and I. We could tell he had sincere interest, but he was also very close to arguing. We didn't want to debate, so Hna Moreno and I just decided to bear our testimonies to him and come back another night when he was less agitated. As we talked to him the scripture that popped into my mind was when Alma left as a missionary "seeing no way that he might reclaim them save it were in bearing down in pure testimony against them." (alma 4:19) We felt the Spirit powerfully, and when we testified he couldn't argue against what we knew was true. We are planning on going back this week to see if he has true interest in the Gospel or if he will just want to debate.

We had a fun Father's Day activity on Friday. There were minute to win it games put together by the other sisters in our ward, asado, and a mormon message video about fathers. It was lots of fun and we were so happy that Maria Isabel, our investigator, was able to come! She like it a lot and told us that anytime there is an activity we need to invite her. She gets along great with the other young women, so right now we are trying to focus on her spiritual needs. We want her to experience a true conversion, not just go to church because she likes the people there. She has a testimony of prayer, and for this week we are going to read a lot of the Book of Mormon with her.

Alma 22:17-18 "the king did bow down before the Lord, upon his knees; yea, even he did prostrate himself upon the earth, and cried mightily, saying: O God, Aaron hath told me that there is a God; and if there is a God, and if thou art God, wilt thou make thyself known unto me, and I will give away all my sins to know thee, and that I may be raised from the dead, and be saved at the last day."

If we want to come to know God, we have to be willing to give up everything for Him. We can't let personal pride, material possessions, favorite sins, fear of other people, bad habits, or ANYTHING prevent us from following Christ our Savior. As one of the members here said, "God only lets his good and valiant soldiers into the Kingdom of God." If we are not courageous, if we are not willing to risk it all to follow God's counsel, we are being cowardly. We are here on earth in training- training to become God´s mighty sons and daughters. We have to live true to our divine heritage. I testify that God is our loving Heavenly Father and that every trial we go through is for our good, and throughout the process of trial He always provides help and relief.

I love you all! Have a fantastic week!
Sister Simmons

June 15, 2015

Autumn Weather!

Good afternoon!

Last week we went down to Posadas for consejo. Tuesday morning we were sitting in the chapel waiting for the consejo to start when Pres. LaPierre and the asistentes walked in. President informed us that he had had the strong impression that we needed to go and have consejo somewhere else for the day. So we all traveled the hour over to La Cruz in Santa Ana, Argentina. We had our consejo in the conference room, and when we ended we had about an hour to walk around and see everything. It was BEAUTIFUL. There was a strong spirit of peace there. The Cruz is a huge cross, and it is set in the middle of a lot of wooded area. So it is kind of like a nature reserve.

Well, I guess it`s about time that something else crazy and wacky happens here. After consejo we all boarded the colectivo to travel back to Ciudad del Este. As we got on the bus, I heard a man saying "norteamericano! mis amigos los norteamericanos!" ("north americans! My friends the north americans!"). An older gentleman had gotten himself miserably drunk and then decided to travel in the public colectivo. Awesome. haha. Apparently he had done this before and he recognized some of the Elders from when he traveled Sunday night on colectivo.

Anyway, he talked to Elder Roberts and Elder Thomas a LOT. I can`t remember about what, I just remember that he could hardly get a comprehensible sentence out of his mouth, and he couldn`t stand still. When he saw me sitting in the back of the colectivo he shouted out "Rubias!" ("blonde girls!"). And then he started trying to invite me to sit with him and share his beer. Yep. So the Elders told him that I didn`t speak Spanish. But that didn`t stop him. He squared his shoulders and shouted out "MADAM! Madam!" Apparently someone had taught him a little English. I tried not to burst out laughing, but I couldn`t hold in the giggles. The poor man thought he had said it wrong so he asked the Elders "Did I say it alright?" They told him that sorry, but she doesn`t speak spanish either. They told him I speak German.

That quieted him down for about a minute as he gazed in intense thought at the floor. Then he got that "lightbulb moment" look on his face, turned to me and said "Buen da!" Just so you know, that is not actually German. When I didn`t respond, he defeatedly walked back to his seat. Later, when the man got up to go to the bathroom, the conductor locked him in the bathroom, threw all his beer cans out the window, and then let him back out. The rest of the trip was pretty routine.

I love this scripture!
Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.
Isaiah 45:22

Jesus Christ is our Savior. He alone can save us. Not money, not friends, not our ancestors, not any other idol or anything else. Only Jesus Christ. He is our Mediator with our Heavenly Father. Through baptism we accept Christ as our Savior and can access His divine grace.

I love you all!
Hermana Simmons

I got to see some of the Elders and Sisters from my old zone!
Me, Hermana Garcia, Elder Collins, Elder Prince, and Elder Graves

We went to the Cruz in Santa Ana, Argentina. It is a huge cross, tourist attraction, nature park area. There were lots of pretty walkways and even a butterfly exhibit.

The cross in Santa Ana

On the 9th floor (there are a lot, but that's the highest we could go without paying anything)

June 08, 2015

hey hey hey

We are at the first of the month again, so that means consejo (counsel/training?). And that means not much time to write. Thanks for all the letters, I`ll try to respond to y'all next week. 
This week we met a 14 year old named Maria. She has had a rough past. And when I say rough I'm not talking about "Mean Girls" bullying status, I'm talking about full on Les Mis tragedy. In the past year of her life she has kind of passed through a living hell. I admire her courage and her hope for the future. She wants to learn about Christ, and she came to church on Sunday. She could feel the love of the members and the peaceful spirit there, and she told us that she would like to be invited to every single activity that there is. We are going to keep visiting her :)
I'm so glad for the opportunity we have every month to fast as a church! I feel that God blesses me so much when I fast with a strong purpose and a willing heart. He can soften hearts, answer prayers, and bless us even more.

I love this scripture talking about the second coming!

"The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the Lord will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel." (Joel 3:16)

God is mighty! He is the source of all hope and strength.
I love you all! Have a great week.

Hermana Simmons

P.S.  Yeah, the longer I`m out here, the more grateful I am for the family that God gave me... The family is so important and central to individual and societal well-being.
This Sunday I was sitting in the Fast and Testimony meeting. One of the young women got up and began to bear her testimony. I recognized her and know that she has been passing through some really tough times lately. I was super glad that she was bearing her testimony because I thought "This is great, this will help our investigator who arrived at church today. She is passing through similar trials."

Then I looked behind the girl bearing her testimony and saw the bishop. Last year he and his wife lost their two year old son to cancer and also the bishop`s father died pretty soon after. It came to me that this testimony could probably help him too. I also remembered two people that had also passed to the front to share their testimonies. An older lady with lots of health problems, and a man who was shot in the spine while working as security (he now has to fix shoes for a living and can't walk- he has a wheelchair).

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is so full of brokenness. Broken people, broken families, people from a broken past. Some people have their problems more apparent than others, but everyone has in some way or another been deeply hurt by injustices in life. The people at church are not there because they think they are perfect. They keep going to church because the Atonement of Jesus Christ is the only thing that keeps them going at all. In the Church of Jesus Christ we have all found healing. Christ completes and mends us.

Sometimes we think that the only people who need help are the ones we can see need help. But we all depend on Christ. We are all completely helpless and broken without the healing grace of Jesus Christ.

It`s easy to compare our sufferings or weaknesses with others, but in the end it does no good. We all need the strengthening that can come from a testimony, from a helping hand. The atonement is not just reserved for some; it is given to all.

June 01, 2015

Little Victories!

Last week we got to see some of the fruits of all our work here! woohoo :)

One of our investigator's, Miguel, has started coming to church regularly. He feels that this is the right path for him, but his obstacle is his grandmother. She is very Catholic and doesn't allow him to go to our ward in the morning. So what he has been doing is attend the Minga Guazu Branch later in the afternoon. We have been working with him pretty slowly because we want him to not feel pressure from us at all, we just want him to feel like he has a personal relationship with God and that Heavenly Father will answer his prayer. We're hoping that he can find a job soon so he can move out of his grandmother's house. That way he'd be able to go to church and still maintain a good relationship with her.

Also, working with the less actives can be a little interesting. We always need to remember that everyone is unique and has their own story. Lots of times they still have very strong testimonies, but they have lost their motivation to endure to the end. Last week we got to see one family we visit come to sacrament meeting, and one young man we work with went to stake conference! Heavenly Father loves all of His children and He is mindful of where they all are and the challenges they are going through.

Elder Viñas from the Area Presidency came down to visit the mission this past Friday. He spoke about the importance of the Holy Ghost. He also reminded us to take the sacrament very seriously and to teach our investigators the same. If we are not making time either Saturday night or Sunday morning to reflect on the week and repent (specifically confessing our sins to God), then we are not taking advantage of the sacrament the way God intends us to do so. The sacrament is a sacred renewal where we witness to God that we want to be obedient.

"Look unto me in every thoughtdoubt not, fear not." Doctrine and Covenants 6:36
I know that when we remember Jesus Christ, we will remember His love and His power. He can do all, He can help us be all that we are destined to be. By relying upon Him, He can lift us higher. I testify of this and of His infinite love. When we have Christ as the center of our lives we do not need to be afraid or discouraged. And if we do feel like that at times, we can always turn to Him and ask for Him to take those feelings away. That is what the atonement can do for us.

I love you all and have a great week!
Hermana Simmons

Here is a photo of a multi-zone conference we had with Elder Viñas last Friday. I played an arrangement of Come Follow Me. This was with the zones Pora, Ciudad del Este, and La Paloma.  (Elise is front row, 5th from the left)