Chile, Week 7 (Constitución)

Whooh! Thinking about time is dangerous on the mission. Could I really have been out 3 months already!? How did that happen!? I have a new companion now, Hermana Martinez! She is from Mexico and is really awesome. She has this amazing talent of bringing the Spirit super-strong into lessons and she is full of energy and desires to work hard. We are already seeing miracles together. She actually left for the mission at almost the exact same time as me, but she wasn’t in the MTC as long so she has a little more time in the field. We are both super newbies still but it’s awesome. AND, she wants to run with me in the mornings! Which is rare with Latinas haha. I’m really, really improving in my Spanish now because…. well, I never talk English anymore. There is nobody to talk in English with! I’m starting to think and dream and even have memories in Spanish and it feels much more natural. I made a goal to read the entire Book of Mormon in Spanish and that has made all the difference. I’m already in Alma and I’m learning super fast. I feel like my English is not as beautiful and articulate as before but it will come back so I’m not worried.

It’s amazing to me to see the faith of some of the people here. Then there are other people who just hear what they want to hear. We talked with a man the other day about baptism and how this is the only church that has the authority of God to baptize. He agreed with everything we said and then said, “I respect your way of worshipping but I think all churches are good, and the important thing is that we are worshipping God.” This is a concept that is really hard for people here to understand, that God is not variable and there aren’t multiple truths. He has one church, one way that is simple that we can return to live with Him again. We can’t worship however we want and just hope that it works out! God has a specific way for us to follow Him and a baptism without His authority is nothing more than a bath. The power of God is necessary to really cleanse someone from sin. It seems like every other person we talk to doesn’t understand this principle. Any ideas of how to explain it simply? Maybe with an analogy or something easy to understand? We use an ice-cream truck analogy a lot but it doesn’t always work. The idea that if someone in an ice cream truck pulled you over for speeding you wouldn’t pay a ticket but if a policeman pulled you over you would, because he has authority. Most people here don’t have cars….so maybe that’s why it doesn’t always work to explain this. If you have ideas, shoot me an email!! ☺

But to be more positive, there are lots of people who have tons of faith. We started teaching a father named Jorge and after the first lesson, he started praying and looking for another job so that he can go to church on Sunday and bring his family! After one lesson! He is so great, so full of faith. A lot of people can’t be baptized just because they work on Sunday and they aren’t willing to make big changes in their life to go to church! For this we use 3 Nephi 13: 31-33 a lot:

31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
32 For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.

I know its true. I know that when we really put God first in our lives, everything else works out. He will provide for the rest. He loves us so much. He wants us to be happy and He will give us every blessing that He can and that we let Him give. I know that the commandments are blessings; they are a perfect map to happiness that is lasting and beautiful. By following them, we put ourselves in the circumstances where the Lord can bless us more. For example, if I decided to kill someone and got put in jail, I’m really limiting the blessings that God can give me because of circumstances I chose to put myself in. The Lord is always going to give us every blessing that He can. We just have to obey his instructions to put ourselves in the circumstances to receive them.

God respects agency so much that He also allows us to choose things that will make us unhappy if that’s what we decide to do. He makes it very clear how we can find happiness if that’s what we seek. It’s hard to see people choose not to accept the Gospel when I know how much it can bless them, but I have to respect their agency. It’s also because of agency that sometimes bad things happen to good people. I used to think that sometimes God would give me trials or make bad things happen so I could grow. Not true. Nothing bad comes from God. Life is naturally going to be hard because of the agency of others and Satan constantly fighting to make us miserable like he is. God helps us use the hard things to grow and become stronger. He gives us strength and comfort to get through them. He never wants to see us suffer and He doesn’t ever make bad things happen. He will only bless us and the more we choose to follow Him, the more He can bless us!

Love,
Hermana Berbert

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Chile, Week 6 (Constitución)

MY MISSION CHANGED! This post is going be short because my companion got transferred and she still has to pack and say goodbye to everyone before tonight! I’m staying here in Constitución, which means that I’m now in the Rancagua mission! (With Elder Archuletta haha) I’m super sad that my companion has to go, but we knew our companionship was too good to last more than one transfer. Hermana Lovell got called to be the leader of the sisters in her new zone and she is going be so good with them! I honestly believe that the only reason I started out in the Concepción mission was so that we could be companions. She has shaped how the rest of my mission will be and we’ve learned so much together. Luckily she goes to BYU too, so we´ll hang out after the mission and do crazy Chilean things together! She´s so awesome. This week we were walking down the street and we saw a house burning down. We stopped to watch and see if someone had called the firefighters already (it takes a while because firefighters here don´t get paid; they are all volunteers). Anyway, there were a few people watching and we started talking to some of them. Then Hermana Lovell says, “Well, you know, we are missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We’re like firefighters too, but we help save souls.” She´s so funny. Anyway, I´ll write a super good spiritual blog post next week to make up for the short one today!

Love you all so much!
Hermana Berbert

[May 21st update from Dad: Due to 52 new missions being created throughout the world, many of the existing missions are changing their boundaries. Consequently, some missionaries will officially change missions soon. Yesterday Anna thought that the change was official and that she was for-sure changing missions, but now we have found out that there will be one more transfer in 4 weeks, and that transfer will the one that determines which mission she will be in. If she stays in the northern part of the mission next month then she will join the Chile, Rancagua mission.

Chile, Week 05 (Constitución)

Ward activity with skits and other entertainment

Ward activity with skits and other entertainment

Dressed as Elders for a funny ward skit

Dressed as Elders for a funny ward skit

[Dad’s note for the photo above: To summarize the skit, a wife alone at home is visited by a lawyer, a knife salesman, and the Elders, and when her husband comes home she hides all of them in her house. The husband suspects someone has been there, and he threatens divorce. The lawyer jumps out to offer his services, so the husband threatens to kill him. Then the knife salesman jumps out and offers his sharp knives to kill the lawyer. The confused husband now says that he just wants to know the truth, so the Elders jump out and offer to teach the truth.]

Warning! It’s a dramatic blog post today! Gonna get personal. I wasn’t actually going to write about the biggest thing I learned this week, but I feel like I should. Maybe it can help someone else reading too.

As you know, yesterday was Mother’s Day! I got to talk to my family! It was beautiful to see the faces of the ones I love so much (using Skype). It felt almost unreal, like a dream. We talked about our lives a little, and Chile. Then before I knew it, our time was up! We said quick goodbyes and that was it, over. It wasn’t until we hung up that I realized that I wouldn’t talk to them again until Christmas and that we really hadn’t talked about anything at all of importance. I still didn’t know how my family was doing, really. And I didn’t share how I’m really doing in my heart. I didn’t share how I’m changing and becoming someone new and how it’s hard but it’s beautiful and that my testimony has grown so much. After hanging up, I just started crying. And then I didn’t stop for an hour. We missed our next appointment. Thank goodness my companion is so patient and loving.

Visiting with a family of new and reactivated members

Visiting with a family of new and reactivated members

I cried a lot last night and my heart has been filled with a lot of regret since. I cried because of all the things we didn’t say and then the moment passed and it was too late. I cried because I realized I could spend my whole life that way and never deeply connect with my family or let them know how much I really love them. As we said goodbye, I could see in their eyes that there was a lot more going on than what we talked about. So many feelings that weren’t expressed. I’m not going to let that happen again.

2-hour bus ride to weekly district meeting

2-hour bus ride to weekly district meeting

I feel like I’m really learning how to love people. To love people, you have to tell them and show them. You have to let yourself feel in the moments you have now and not later. Really, let yourself feel the emotions in your heart right now. Let them fill you up and spill out and change the way you live. Don’t be afraid of them. Don’t hide them. Don’t cover them or bottle them. Just feel what you feel when you feel it. Let the people around you know. It’s not selfish to talk about how you are feeling inside, the deep personal parts of you. It’s selfish not to. If you really love people, you give them all of you. You give them your heart, mind and soul. And as you do that, your love for them will grow and you both will recognize it.

Typical Chilean bus stop

Typical Chilean bus stop

I’ve also been thinking about how badly I want to be with my family forever in the Celestial Kingdom in heaven. I only testify about it a million times a day. Now I know why we can’t be in the celestial kingdom if we are not sealed to our families – why our fate is also held in the hands of our family members. It’s a group effort, a family effort really. We can’t make it unless we are all there and it’s not because God wants to punish any of us. It’s because it really wouldn’t be heaven, a fullness of joy, if we didn’t all make it together. To have a fullness of joy in this life and after, we HAVE to be sealed with our families and that HAS to mean more than just the physical ordinances. Just like being baptized doesn’t do any good if we don’t live the covenant we’ve made. Being sealed to your family won’t mean anything if you aren’t sealed in your hearts as well. We need to be sealed in every way — united physically, emotionally, and spiritually. We have to communicate with each other, the deepest things we feel inside and the sacred parts of our heart. The sacred covenants we make with the Lord are not things we can just cross off of a list. We have to live them our whole lives. They are the reason we are here and nothing is more important than that in this life.

Typical store (bread and fresh cheese)

Typical neighborhood store (bread and fresh cheese)

I love my family so much and I hope they know it! I love all of you who care enough to read this even though I know you have lots of things to do. You’re the best!

Hermana Berbert