Monday, December 30, 2013

Week one in Argentina

BUENOS AIRES -- I cannot believe another week has gone by. CRAZY! 

I  am doing great here in Argentina. I really love it! I am soooo blessed to serve here.  Only 3 things I could do without: the heat, the mosquitos and cockroaches.  ;) but we get a long just fine. No worries. 

All is well here in our area. Me and Hermana Calderon are working hard to get this area into shape. It is weird because we both are in different points of our mission so we both have different focus. She knows the area really well and I am clueless, but I have brought some fresh ideas from Baltimore to try in this ward. Should be interesting. 

Hermanas Newman y Calderon with an Argentine family

Yes, we are a ward here! It's great, I love the people. Dad asked me some questions so I will answer those real quick.

My companion is the best ever. So cute! Last night I taught her how to pray in English... SUCCESS. She is shy with her English, but such a smartie pants. 

The weather is REALLY HOT and HUMID! A little crazy, but nothing I can't handle. I just will return black and a red head, no worries. 

The food is great, my favorite so far is empenadas and milanesa. They love mayo here, which cracks me up. Not a huge fan, but I am a missionary so guess what... I eat everything, and I like it!

For water we have a filter in our house and then filtered water bottles for the streets. (they gave us them in the mtc) The water is never cold, but hey it's water. 

When it's 95 F on Christmas, you have yourself a merry little picnic
My Spanish is just great. I spent so much time in Maryland, that I have picked it up. The only trouble here is the accent and different words. But I am sure I will get those down quick (I hope). I can understand people almost all of the time, but sometimes they get confused with my Mexican/Honduran accent.

We had a great Christmas and I can't believe the New Year iis almost here. 2014?!? What? Since when? 

For Holidays like that, we can proselyte during the day and then once it hits 6 p.m., we have to be in the pension or with members and the members have to drive us home. I keep learning new things every day and am amazed with the people here. They are soo poor, but so happy. Life is good! We are blessed! Especially in the gospel! 

Today in my studies, I was reading from the Liahona. A talk from the General Conference. It's called ¨Be Meek and Lowly of Heart". What a powerful talk. I don't know why I hadn't read it again until today, but it was definitely an answer to my prayers. If you haven't read it, go read it! 

"It is our duty to try to be perfect... To improve each day and look upon our course last week and do things better this week. do things better today than we did them yesterday. So the first step to becoming meek is to improve day by day." - Elder Ulisses Soares. 

I know this to be true! It is a process. Day by day! We can do it, though! It is possible, all is possible with God's help. He expects us to follow Him and become like him (3 Nephi 27:21 and 27

Sara's tree in Argentina

¨God's promise to the humble is that He will lead them by the hand.¨ 

What a great promise. Hand in hand we can persevere to the end! I love you all, hope you have a great week! 

Feliz Ano Nuevo!

Con Amor,

Hermana Newman ;) 

Monday, December 23, 2013

"Mi negra grandota"

BUENOS AIRES — Holaaaaaaaaa! Yep, I made it to Argentina. I don’t even know where to begin to start and what to tell you. 

I am currently sitting at the "ciber" emailing you, using a keyboard that is not like in the U.S. Needless to say, I cannot type very well. 

Argentina is great. SOOOOOOO different than Maryland to say the least. 

Holy smokes, it is hot here. I don’t know Celsius yet, so I am clueless as to how hot it is, but the other day I'm pretty sure it was more than 100 in Fahrenheit. Crazy right? So yes, I am always sweaty and am turning brown very quickly. My companion calls me "mi negra". If you couldn’t guess, it means, "my brown person" kind of.

My companion is the best in the world. Seriously, she is awesome. Her name is Hermana Calderón. She is from Córdoba, Argentina. She has 19 years and is a stellar missionary. She wants to learn English, and I need to learn Spanish more, so we are teaching each other. We decided that in the pensión (our apartment), we would speak English only, and outside only Spanish. So far so good.  She is a quick learner. 

Spanish here is different for sure. I can understand most of it, but I definitely have an accent. The people think it is funny because I sound like I am from México or Honduras. Someday, I will get it down. My companion is from Córdoba like I said, and apparently, they have a different accent so, apparently I am learning Córdobese.

Oh man, everything here is different and so I just find myself laughing and smiling a lot because I am sure I look and sound silly here. Oh well :) My companion pretty much thinks I am a giant, so she tells everyone I am a "grandota", it cracks me up. 

Funny news: I am the senior companion again. I am actually finishing up her training. SURPRISE :) Good thing she knows the area, though, because I am clueless. The streets all look the same. So, I am going to tell you some fun facts I learned about Argentina in the past 4 days. Ready?

  • Cockroaches can fly — and they like our apartment.
  • We have a bidet in our apartment (I don’t plan on using it anytime soon).
  • We eat lunch with members every day. We don’t eat dinner. Kind of interesting.
  • We have to be inside the pensión by 8 p.m. for safety (don’t worry, mom I am great)
  • I am glad I can’t drive here. Remember how we thought it was bad in London? Ha ... understatement. People can’t drive here. Well, there aren’t rules, so it’s kind of just whatever goes. Fun, right?
  • I miss air conditioning, but am very grateful for a fan :)
  • Dogs and cats galore! I can’t believe how many are just roaming the streets.
  • Mosquitoes love me, and I hate them. I know hate is strong, but it is valid. They are eating my legs and I don’t appreciate it.
I thought of a lot more fun facts to tell you yesterday, but of course, I cannot remember them now. Oops. 

My area is great. Lots of walking. It is called Banfield 1. We walk a lot and occasionally take the colectiva (bus) and tren (train). We are in a ward here, which is different because I am used to my little branch, but it is great. The members are very nice and I already love them. 

They were pretty excited to have a nurse come. My mission president is new and they haven’t had a nurse, so they don’t know how to train me. They pretty much gave me the books and said,  "good luck" haha oh dear. Gotta love it. Good thing I have an area doctor here, so that makes me feel a lot better. 

What else can I tell you? No idea. I don’t have very many spiritual experiences yet or teaching so I will tell you more about that next week.

Well, I can’t figure out how to get pictures to work here so I guess I can’t send them until I figure that out. I love you soooooo much! I hope you have a wonderful week and Merry Christmas!

Con amor,

Hermana Newman :)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Pressing on

COLUMBIA, Md. — I don’t even know where to start. I am sitting here trying to write with lots of thoughts and emotions. I am leaving my mission here in Baltimore... my family. But I am going to my other family who is waiting for me in Argentina.

How incredible.

I know the Lord needs me there, too, so I am also very excited to get down there. :)

We have been letting our branch know we are leaving, and it kills me every time. Everyone has such a sad face on, but then after they take a picture with us, give us some hugs and kisses, they are fine and wish us well. We were asked to bear our testimonies at church yesterday. It was a fun opportunity for sure. There was a twist as well: two of our investigators were there who we hadn’t told we were leaving. They were quite surprised I think. Whoops :) Our schedules are quite booked for the next two days because everyone wants to feed us and say goodbye.

This week was great, weird as well knowing it was my last here in Maryland for a while. But Hermana Crotzer and I were working hard to leave with a bang! We had lots of miracles and crazy moments too. 

The weather here is crazy and we get lots of ice, so sometimes the cars are "grounded" and we have to walk. Which is fine by me. But we are located centrally and our area is the entire stake so nobody lives close. We make it work and make the best out of it and have quite the adventures. 

I want to tell you about one of the small miracles we saw. It was one of the days we were grounded because of an ice storm. Hermana Crotzer and I grabbed our boots and rain jackets and started walking up the road a few miles. We stopped at a less-active member's house (Long story short she is not in our branch but is Spanish and so the other ward asked us to work with her). When we first met her, she was very grumpy and not warm and fuzzy at all. She said we Mormons just visited her and she was just a statistic. It made me want to cry. Hermana Crotzer and I decided to visit her every other week so she didn’t feel like a statistic and that she knew we loved her and cared. She is not a warm person to begin with, but slowly and surely she has warmed up to us. Well, she let us in her house (I think because we were soaking wet and cold) but we just talked for a bit. 

When it was time to leave, she offered us a ride home (first miracle!) then after she dropped us off she said, "Hermanas, thanks for not giving up on me. I know I can be snappy sometimes. But I appreciate your visits."

WOAH! Miracle number two! I hope the missionaries keep working with her and slowly and surely I know she can come back to the church. I LOVE seeing miracles. They are all around us. Keep your eyes out... open... whatever that saying is because you can find miracles all over the place.

I am not sure what else to say today except that I love you! I am praying for you. I will talk to you next week except this time.... from Argentina!! :) Have a great week

Con Amor,

Hermana Newman :)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Snow and Saints

COLUMBIA, Md. — Happy day for Hermana Newman!  I woke up Sunday morning to white stuff all over the ground... yep- SNOW! :) WAHOOOOOOOO 

I have missed it so much. It is stinkin' cold here, but the snow makes it worth it, indeed. Funny story about Maryland: they freak out when it snows. Seriously, I about died laughing. The mission grounded our cars for the day (which was understandable), so we were on foot the whole day, which was interesting considering I cover the entire stake. But hey, what an adventure. Out of 21 years, I can only remember church being canceled once and that is because the bishopric got stuck in the snow driving to church. Well, we got to church yesterday. Sang a song, prayed, took the sacrament and then went home. Yep... they canceled church, and we woke up this morning to find out school was canceled and most of the libraries didn’t open until noon. In the words of my branch mission leader, "Yeah Hermanas, it's the end of the world when it snows here."

Yesterday was quite the adventure. I wish I could send videos home but they are too big. We were told we needed to still proselyte, but no cars. Which is just fine by me but definitely interesting because my area is HUGE and we live near the freeway. Missionaries crossing the freeway is probably not the best idea, so we started our journey walking to the nearest area with members and investigators. What we thought would take us about 30 minutes ended up taking 2 hours in the snow to walk. I was just laughing and grinning the whole way. Life is good! 

I was thinking about the pioneers a lot as I was walking and how amazing they are. They had it WAY worse then having to walk a couple hours in a snowy day. They are amazing! It made me think of the hymn of course:

Come, come, ye saints, no toil nor labor fear;
But with joy wend your way.
Though hard to you this journey may appear,
Grace shall be as your day.
Tis better far for us to strive
Our useless cares from us to drive;
Do this, and joy your hearts will swell -
All is well! All is well!

Why should we mourn or think our lot is hard?
'Tis not so; all is right.
Why should we think to earn a great reward
If we now shun the fight?
Gird up your loins; fresh courage take.
Our God will never us forsake;
And soon we'll have this tale to tell-
All is well! All is well!

We'll find the place which God for us prepared,
Far away, in the West,
Where none shall come to hurt or make afraid;
There the saints, will be blessed.
We'll make the air, with music ring,
Shout praises to our God and King;
Above the rest these words we'll tell -
All is well! All is well!

And should we die before our journey's through,
Happy day! All is well!
We then are free from toil and sorrow, too;
With the just we shall dwell!
But if our lives are spared again
To see the Saints their rest obtain,
Oh, how we'll make this chorus swell-
All is well! All is well!

All is well! All is well! How true that is! We are SO very blessed :) I am thankful for the pioneers and all they did for what they knew to be true. I hope we can be a little more like them and stand up for what we know to be true. Stand up for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The pioneers had it hard, but they endured the trials they had and made the best of it all. I definitely look up to those pioneers!

On another note, we had another great week here in Maryland. The snow has got my attention, so I am having a hard time thinking about what else went on this week. 

Oh! Soila! We had a great experience this week with her. We went over to her house to visit and see how she was doing. We planned on watching The Restoration video with her and reading the scriptures. This woman absolutely LOVES The Book of Mormon. It is quite the humbling experience to me because she only has a 3rd grade education from Honduras, yet she loves to read The Book of Mormon and has a big smile on her face every time she reads. She is amazing to say the least! A

During the video, she kept looking back at me and smiling. At the end she had a big grin and the first words that came out of her mouth was, "Que Bonita." (Beautiful) My favorite part of the night was when we gave her a card and invited her to the temple lights. She looked at the building and asked if she could go inside. I told her that she wasn’t able to right now but that she could someday. She looked at me and said, "Hermana Newman, I want to go there. I will go there after I am baptized." 

Yes! Yes Yes! Slowly but surely she will get there. She knows this is what she wants and needs in her life and I absolutely love watching her makes changes and use the Gospel. I have the best calling in the world: full time missionary! :)

The work is great and moving forward every day. Thanks for letting me be part of this great work and supporting me. I know you all are being great missionaries back at home too! Keep up the work and keep praying for those opportunities! I love you all!

Con Amor,

Hermana Newman :)

Monday, December 9, 2013

Waiting no more

COLUMBIA, Md. — I am sitting here in the library with tears rolling down my face. 

I just got an email that I cannot even believe is real. To make sure, I called my mission President. He looked in his email and sure enough I have my visa to go to Argentina. President cried with me on the phone. Both tears of joy and sadness. 

I can't believe I am leaving Baltimore. This truly is my mission and it is hard to think I am leaving. But I am willing to go where the Lord needs me. 

Watch out Argentina, here I come!


EDITORS NOTE: Hermana Newman will be leaving Baltimore for Buenos Aires via Miami Wednesday, Dec. 18. We will post more information as we get it, but if you're thinking of sending her a letter, do it by Friday, Dec. 13.  

Monday, December 2, 2013

Wet, crying and clean: my first baptism

COLUMBIA, Md. — Hola, mi querida familia!! Feliz Diciembre!

Holy Smokes.... December? Since when? Craziness. 

How was everyone’s Thanksgiving? I hope SO good. Mine was excellent! We did service in the morning, then I got to go help cook at a member's house and we ate at our branch mission leader's home. They are awesome! Then, a family gave us some papusas later. Needless to say, I had a lot of food. 

We weren’t allowed to proselyte on Thanksgiving, so we had a lot of plans with the members. Unfortunately, many of them called and canceled. :/ So what do you do as a missionary who cannot go talk to people on Thanksgiving? Volleyball at the church! :) Turns out a few other missionaries in our area had people cancel too, so we had a little activity at the church. It will be interesting this month because we cannot proselyte on Christmas or New Years Eve/Day. 

This week was fabulous. Many reasons why it was so fabulous, but at the top of the list, JENNIFER GOT BAPTIZED AND CONFIRMED :) Wahooooooooooooooooooo! 

She was baptized on Saturday and confirmed Sunday in church. It was a great baptism. Weird because it was my first, so we weren’t exactly sure how it would go. But the Spirit was very strong. It was awesome, too, because it was all in Spanish! :) Man, I love Spanish, have I mentioned that before? ;) Let me tell you a little about the baptism:

Jennifer had a lot of support from the branch. Quite a few people came, which was great, especially the young women. (She is 15) Hermana Crotzer and I had a lunch appointment in Elkridge that day, so we drove there to visit and eat with a family. Then we had to rush back to Ellicott City to start filling the font. Quite the new experience for me — never done that before. After a while of playing and messing around with water temperatures, we got it down and the font was filling up. It takes about 2-3 hours to fill, so we were there early. We got everything set up, made some cutesy stuff (I love being a sister) for Jennifer and waited for everyone to arrive. 

Remember, we are in a Spanish branch, so everything is on "Hispanic timing". Our branch mission leader and the Riveras said they would meet us at the church 30 minutes before the service to get ready and take pictures and such. Well 30 minutes before and it was me, Hermana Crotzer, a bunch of empty chairs, a full font, and an empty church parking lot. Talk about scary! 

I was a little nervous, but everyone ensured us they were on their way. Sure enough, about 5 minutes before the service was supposed to start, everyone showed up. They about gave me a heart attack, but no worries, I survived. 

The service was beautiful. I loved watching her go under the water and come back out with a big smile on her face. But my favorite part was "behind the scenes". We took her back into the bathroom to change and she had the biggest grin on her face. She started squealing so I gave her a great big hug. She started crying and would not let go. I stood there, in the bathroom of the church, with a soaking wet teenager hugging me. I pondered for a second how special this day was for her and how it will change her life forever.

Finally, she looked up at me and said, "Hermana Newman, I feel amazing. Why do I feel this way? Why am I so happy?" It took me everything not to cry. So of course me being me, I laughed instead of crying and replied with a big grin, "Why do you think, you silly girl?! You are feeling the Spirit!" She smiled and just kept squealing, "I feel so good, I love this feeling. I am baptized!" This simple moment between this young girl and me made such an impact on me. I want to feel this way all the time. I want to be squealing jumping for joy, saying how great I feel because I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!! 

The service was ended with a musical number on the violin, and Jennifer giving her testimony. Her testimony was short and sweet but POWERFUL. Wow. I can’t even describe the Spirit that was felt in the room. I am so glad that I have this opportunity to be her missionary now and forever. What a great blessing that is. Her journey has just begun. I am excited to work with her family more and get them all active and members of the church. We need more strong families in our branch, and they have great potential to be one! :)

We are working hard to find new investigators and work with the members. It’s a little hard because we haven’t found a new investigator for quite some time. But we are still looking! We visited with one of our other investigators this week and she informed me that she has been off coffee for more than 15 days. Woo! Gotta love La Palabra de Sabiduria

I have said this soooo many times before, but I LOVE watching people change their lives and follow the example of Jesus Christ. We are still working through some stuff back in Honduras, which can be tricky, but I know this sweet little lady will be baptized no doubt! She always tells me how much she loves The Book of Mormon. She knows it is true and loves to read it. The difficulty now is she is having eye problems and eye pain, but can't go see a doctor :/ Let me tell you, working with these people has made me seen all the things I have and take for granted. I am SO blessed. I have had quite a lot of humbling experiences out here and she is one of them. She has so many trials, but yet she doesn’t let it get her down and she has enough faith to realize this message is the truth and she wants it in her life. I will be thrilled the day I hear she is baptized! :) She is so solid.

Well, this week has been great! Looking forward to another one! :) How is Utah, by the way? Cold? Any snow? I miss my snow!!!!!!!! It's cold here, but no snow. Lame. I love it here. Every second of it. Have a wonderful week and remember who you are, and whom you represent. Go find those people who need the gospel! There are so many out there who are waiting for all of us to do our work and spread the gospel! I love you with all my heart. 

Con amor,

Hermana Newman :)