Chile, Week 33 (San Vicente branch with Sister Pérez)

Sister Juárez, Sister Berbert, and the Ramírez family (Jardín del Valle ward)

Sister Juárez, Sister Berbert, and the Ramírez family (Jardín del Valle ward)

I’m. so. dead. tired. New sector, new companion, new house, new people, new calling, new meetings. The new sector is beautiful. I’m in San Vicente, which is a tiny little branch in the middle of nowhere. It’s beautiful cause everything is green and everybody works farming fruits and vegetables. I feel really far away cause I’m pretty sure besides the people who live here, nobody knows that this little town exists. My companion is Hermana Pérez. She’s Chilean and already the accent is starting to stick on me. She’s a newbie, just finished her training (same as Hermana Juárez). Her calling is actually to Venezuela, but until her visa arrives, is serving here.

The house is ok… the good news is that I took a hot shower this morning! It was so nice. The bad news is that I’m hardly sleeping. We slept with the window open cause it was so hot and I woke up sick. I don’t even use the pillow cause it looks like someone pulled it out of an old couch; it’s huge, square, and hard. One of the great things about the mission is that I’m learning to just laugh when things don’t work out. We’re laughing a lot this week. I’m also learning to be really humble this week. I don’t really know how to be a coordinating sister yet and I tried to play the piano for the zone when I haven’t practiced forever – embarrassing. haha. Then today we played volleyball and that was also pretty funny. It didn’t help that I’m really tired and played like a zombie. Oh well.

Even though it was our first week, we found a lot of new people and brought a lot of people to church. It’s a tiny little building but we’re 8 missionaries in this ward (2 companionships of sisters and 2 of elders). When my companion got here a few months ago, there were only 40 people attending each week. Obviously everybody worked hard cause 3 months later, this Sunday, 120 people came! This week was also the primary program so that helped too.

Many of my dreams are coming true here, haha. I’ve always wanted a Chilean companion. I’ve always wanted to teach Jehovah’s witnesses too and we brought one to church this week. More than anything, I want to help this ward build itself and do its own missionary work. We made a million little calendars this week to give to all the members and invited them to give a gift to God this Christmas by fasting with us this Sunday and praying every day this month. They’re excited.

Out of time. Sorry I didn’t write something more spiritual. Love you all!

Hermana Berbert

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Chile, Week 32 (last week in Talca Stake, Jardín del Valle Ward)

Packing my bags. That’s right, I got transferred. I’m going to San Fernando. It’s more north in the mission which means it will probably be more hot, which means I’m probably going to die. Haha, but really, I don’t know how I could stand more heat than we have right now and its still Spring here. My skin keeps getting darker and my hair is getting lighter. I already startle myself when I look in a mirror because I forget I look different and I don’t recognize myself.

Anyway, I’ll let you all know how the new area is, next week. I’m eager to leave, I don’t like saying good-bye to people, it’s sad and it wears me out. My companion is stressed out because I’m leaving the area in her hands but I actually feel really confident that she will take good care of everyone. Also, President Warne called me as coordinating sister so even though I won’t be training anymore, he told me it will be like training a whole zone, so that’s cool. For those of you who don’t know, a coordinating sister is like a zone leader but for sister missionaries. I’m excited — definitely gonna learn a ton.

I feel like some of the most basic things in the Gospel are things I’m learning for the first time in my life. One of those is the gift of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is a member of the Godhead. He is a God. As many of you know, anybody, sinner or saint,  can feel the Holy Ghost touch their heart. One of His roles is to testify of truth, and before baptism this is a necessary part of the conversion process.

After baptism, we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, which means He can be our constant companion IF we are worthy. I think I didn’t really know the difference before. Much of my mission I have felt the Holy Ghost testify of truth, guide me, and touch my heart, but usually just for moments here and there. I was feeling the Holy Ghost touch my heart, but He wasn’t my constant companion.

The trick is focusing less on being perfect and more on being worthy to have the Holy Ghost with me constantly, which is basically the same thing. We can’t be in the presence of a God if we aren’t completely clean, and that applies to the Spirit as well because He is also a god. Trying to be perfect is hard because it’s almost impossible to measure. But when we are truly clean and worthy, we can have the Spirit with us and that’s a difference we can feel.

Personally, I have to be repenting CONSTANTLY to have the Holy Ghost with me as a companion. It’s hard! I’ll repent of everything and then a single negative thought pops into my mind and the Spirit leaves. I have to repent again before He comes back, and I have to truly do it from the heart or it doesn’t work. I can count on my hand the number of times I’ve kept the Spirit with me for more than an hour. It’s completely different than when the Spirit just touches your heart for a moment.  It’s rare and it’s a treasure. But I’m learning a LOT and repenting like crazy. It’s totally worth it because there is nothing like feeling clean and having a god in your presence. It’s amazing, it completely changes me. It gives me all the attributes of Christ all at once and I know what to say and do and feel like the whole world makes sense. I feel a joy and peace that words can’t describe.

The other thing I’m learning like never before is how to pray. You’d think I should already know how to do that, right? I’ve only taught it a million times. Every once in a while people ask us dumb questions like, “Have you seen any angels yet today?” or , “Have you talked to God lately?” It’s dumb and ironic because these things actually do happen, it’s just not how people think. I talked with God this morning. He told me that He was disappointed that I started my study time late and that as a result, I missed out on learning something really special. We talked about what I was going to do to be better and He told me that He loved me and gave me the gift of the Spirit once again. I’m learning how to listen because I always just talked to God and thought He would answer me in some way later on. Now we trade off talking and listening just like any normal conversation. At first it took me a while to feel what He wanted to say to me or trust the feelings that came. It’s becoming more normal and fast as I understand better how to listen.

That’s all for now folks, I’m out of time. If I don’t email anyone, please don’t feel bad. I’m gonna have twice as many people to write now cause everyone here in Talca wants to stay in contact. Just one last shout out for my Mommy cause today is her birthday!! I have the most amazing mom in the entire world, and I’m not just saying that. She is a fantastic example of diligence and love and everything I want to learn to be. I love you Mom! Thank you for everything and I can’t wait to see your beautiful face again on Christmas! Love to you all who are reading this blog. I really love and miss you from the depths of my heart. Thank you for your prayers and know that you are still in my prayers too.

Hermana Berbert

Chile, Week 31 (Talca Stake, Jardín del Valle Ward)

What a blessing it is to be in the mission field. I love seeing how the Gospel changes lives. This is God’s work and we don’t really do anything but live worthy to bring His Spirit into the lessons. I was thinking of how the missionaries used to just say memorized lessons and thought, “A robot could do that.” What a robot can’t do is bring the Spirit. That’s the most important role we play as missionaries. The Spirit is what touches people’s hearts and teaches them what each individually needs to hear. If we live worthy enough to have the Spirit as the senior companion, He will guide the lesson and let us know what to say. It doesn’t matter if you are just starting the mission or finishing it or a member sharing something with a friend, the Spirit is companion to all who are worthy members and serve with their hearts. I’m so grateful that God lets us participate in His work because I know I’m changing and becoming more like Him.

I want to include a short part of the email my Dad sent me this past week:

Related to that story, I’m still reading the book Continuous Conversion by Brad Wilcox, and in it he talks about the importance of facing the right direction. Regardless of what we have done in our lives, good or bad, what matters is where we are facing. He quoted a man in prison who was repentant and determined to change for the better. He shared the following quote:
“One of the volunteers told me that anyone who is repenting, no matter how bad he has been, can be considered ‘righteous,’ and anyone who is giving up, no matter how good he has been in the past, can be considered ‘wicked.’ It all depends on which way you are facing.”

It’s so true. The Gospel is a gospel of change. What will matter when we stand in front of God again is who we are, not what we’ve done. I’ve seen many people truly change their lives and convert to the Gospel in the mission; investigators, members, even missionaries. It’s a miracle I’ve witnessed as well in myself. The people of Chile have suffered a lot—the huge earthquake that killed their friends and destroyed their houses, a dictator who took anyone who questioned his authority, cut open their stomachs and threw them in the sea, and many people who can’t find work and are living in poverty. One dramatic example of the change the Gospel can bring is one of our investigators named Minerva.

When we found Minerva, she lived in a tiny ugly house that we almost didn’t see because it was so surrounded in weeds. The house was dark and full of cigarette smoke. It was dirty and Minerva was laid back in an armchair, smoking. When we talked to her, she showed almost no emotion at all and it was kind of scary. She told us that the government pays her a bit every month to live because she was diagnosed with serious depression and psychological problems. She slept until 5:00 at night and hardly left the house. She has suffered a TON in her life and lives alone, without a friend or family member nearby. I’m sure she felt abandoned and surrounded in choking darkness.

Now we will fast forward one week. In only a WEEK, Minerva is a completely different person. A group of missionaries and members cleaned up all the weeds around her house. She cleaned up her house, she cleaned up herself, and she made her bed for the first time in about 11 years. Before, she just sat and smoked and listened to music all day long, and now she’s hungrily reading scriptures. One day she only smoked 4 cigarettes. Sunday she only smoked one. She doesn’t plan on buying more. She leaves the house and talks with the neighbors. She put a skirt on and went to church. She wept when we told her about the atonement. She wept when we invited her to be baptized. She has a light in her eyes and personality that didn’t exist a couple days before.

She is a one of the most prepared people I have ever met in my life to accept the Gospel. She has the most interesting life. She has read the Bible cover to cover 3 times. Saturday night she dreamed that she saw all of her family and friends that have died. They came to her in her dream and she could see that they were happy for her decision to be baptized. The next day in church she learned about baptisms for the dead and the work that she could do for all of them. The tears flowed once again.

Like I said, the Gospel is a gospel of change. Minerva told us that she had gone to other churches but none of them had ever changed her inside like this one. I can truly see the light in her eyes. The light of the Gospel fills us up and chases away the darkness. Darkness and light can NOT exist in the same space and the light always overcomes the darkness. If you ever feel that you are lost in a dark place, I beg you to fill your life with the light of Christ and His Gospel. It will change you and the way you see the world. It will change everything.

I love this Gospel. I love being a missionary. I love my family and friends here, at home, and those that have passed on to the Spirit world. I feel the influences of all these people who are separated from me geographically but we remain united spiritually. Keep going strong and facing the right direction. Check out John 8:12 and D&C 50:24, 84:45-46, 88:11-13. and the talk, The Hope of God’s Light by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf.

Hermana Berbert