Chile, Week 41 (San Fernando District, San Vicente branch with Sister Pérez)

This week we saw the most progress with some recent converts. We have 7 converts under our responsibility and only one of them didn’t come to church because she went to visit her dad who’s in jail (you’d be surprised to know that’s a common Sunday afternoon activity here). But it’s really exciting to see that they are all progressing and those that were less active are becoming active again. There have been a lot of miracles to help them out. As far as investigators go… we need to find some more. Almost all the people we found are either getting baptized or we need to drop them now because they haven’t progressed. Hopefully this week we can find some new families to teach! The branch is going on a temple trip this weekend and a bunch of people we’ve been helping will be going for their first time. Also two families are going to get sealed! We even have some investigators that are going to go even though they can only see the outside of the temple, take pictures, and buy materials from the distribution store. That’s gonna be exciting to hear how it went for everyone afterwards.

So… I’ve been really deeply in thought all morning long and I’m still not really sure what to write. This week kind of threw my world out of balance. I won’t go into too many details, but basically Hermana Pérez and I were super stressed out and worn out Friday morning and we both kind of broke down at the same time in a mess of tears and emotion. It’s certainly not the first time it’s happened to me on the mission, but probably one of the worst. I wonder, do the elders ever have moments like that? haha. But anyway, we were feeling pretty depressed for a lot of reasons and prayed together to know what to do and have the strength to leave and work that day. I really didn’t think I could do it. I was completely spent in every way.

These are the moments when we need someone else to talk to. I wanted to talk to my parents, sisters, or good friends, but that’s just impossible. We can’t talk to our leaders cause they are elders and it wouldn’t be appropriate to call them about personal things. I couldn’t call the coordinating sister cause I am the coordinating sister. But when we prayed we both felt like we should call the nurse and talk to her. So we did. And even though Hermana Jett and her husband live far away, by a miracle they were going to be traveling nearby that day and had some extra time. Nobody ever comes to San Vicente, it’s a little town in the middle of nowhere. But they came to our house! It was super strange and unreal. Instead of leaving to work and following our plans, we sat down and talked. For hours. It was the reverse of what we do everyday. Usually we listen to other people’s problems and share with them how the gospel can help, but this time someone listened to us and shared scriptures to help us know what to do. Their visit was a miracle for me. I feel like my entire perspective was changed and I learned a lot. Then they told us to stay in the house for two hours more and rest and prayerfully study to know what we should do. What a strange day.

I feel like I’m not explaining very well. Those of you who know me, know how I am. I have an all-or-nothing, give it everything you’ve got until you collapse, extreme kind of personality. I was born that way, literally. My parents told me that as a baby I would occasionally cry until I couldn’t breathe and just passed out. Even as a baby I was passionate. As I was thinking about my life, I recognize that I have always been that way, in everything I do. If I am going to do something, I do it well and give it everything I’ve got. Sometimes it’s good, I’ve been able to accomplish a lot. But sometimes it’s really unhealthy because I don’t rest or take care of myself.

I think I’m like a short distance runner. When I run, I run fast and give it everything I’ve got. It’s an explosion of energy and passion that lasts a short time and then crashes to rest. It’s an okay thing for short distances, but the mission is a marathon. I feel like I started off running super fast, faster than everyone else and I felt good and people were impressed and complimented me on my fast progress. But anyone who has run a marathon knows that you have to pace yourself. If you burn all your energy at the start, you won’t have anything left to finish. I’ve crashed a few times on the mission, completely drained of energy and enthusiasm. It doesn’t last too long and then I get back up and run again with everything I have, but lately I collapse more and more and it’s harder and harder to get up again.

What I’m trying to learn is the balance in all things. I used a muscle analogy last week to explain how when we do the same exercise over and over again, we get stronger and it becomes easier. Something important I forgot is that even muscles need to rest to be able to grow. Exercise literally tears little fragments of our muscles and then they heal over stronger and that’s why we get stronger. But if I exercised all day and just kept tearing muscles without letting them heal, I would only get weaker, not stronger. I love President Holland. I feel like I relate to him a lot because he’s also super passionate and extreme and always makes me realize how I can be better. But even he admitted the importance of rest in his last conference address:

“In preventing illness whenever possible, watch for the stress indicators in yourself and in others you may be able to help. As with your automobile, be alert to rising temperatures, excessive speed, or a tank low on fuel. When you face ‘depletion depression,’ make the requisite adjustments. Fatigue is the common enemy of us all—so slow down, rest up, replenish, and refill. Physicians promise us that if we do not take time to be well, we most assuredly will take time later on to be ill.”

I was reading in the Bible and Moses also had a similar experience. He was trying to do his duty, but working way harder than was healthy for him and the people he was helping. In Exodus 18 you can read the story.

13 ¶And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses sat to judge the people: and the people stood by Moses from the morning unto the evening.
14 And when Moses’ father in law saw all that he did to the people, he said, What is this thing that thou doest to the people? why sittest thou thyself alone, and all the people stand by thee from morning unto even?
15 And Moses said unto his father in law, Because the people come unto me to inquire of God:
16 When they have a matter, they come unto me; and I judge between one and another, and I do make them know the statutes of God, and his laws.
17 And Moses’ father in law said unto him, The thing that thou doest is not good.
18 Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone.

Moses was wise enough to take the advice of his father-in-law and change the way he worked so he could have a life as well. I think a lot of good people with good intentions try to do too much. We need to follow the Spirit to know where the line is for each of us between magnifying our calling and doing too much. We shouldn’t sacrifice our health and happiness to serve God. There is always more that we can do, but that doesn mean there is always more we should do. Even good things have their limits. God wants us to be happy. We won’t be able to share happiness with the rest of his children if we don’t have it. Everything good has its season and balance. The mission is also something good, but that has a limit and must end. It’s only 2 years or 18 months because God has other important things for us to do as well. We must trust in Him and follow His Spirit to find the balance in our lives.

Ah! I wrote a ton again and I’m out of time. Sorry. Love you all and an extra extra special shout out to my little sis, Laura, who is turning 19 this week!!! AHHH! I love you so much Laura, you are seriously one of my best friends in the whole world and I’m so excited for you. The homework assignment for everyone reading this is to give her a gigantic hug the next time you see her. Also a shout out to my best friend Kent (Elder Thalman), who will be returning back to the USA this week! Super crazy. I know his family will be anxiously waiting to see him again and Honduras will not be the same without him. He is seriously one of the most amazing missionaries out there and a huge inspiration for me. Love you all and thanks for all your emails and everything. Have a great week and remember to slow down and focus on the things that are most important.

Check out this awesome video: http://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2011-06-012-moments-that-matter-most?lang=eng

LOVE!
Hermana Berbert

Chile, Week 40 (San Fernando District, San Vicente branch with Sister Pérez)

Hermana Berbert and Hermana Pérez

Hermana Berbert and Hermana Pérez

So when I was starting out the mission, somebody told me that “at the beginning of the mission, you’ll be full of energy and motivation to work but have very little experience. Then at the end of the mission you’ll have lots of experience but very little motivation and energy!” Hmmmm, I’ve decided it’s a lie. haha. The more experience I have in the mission, the more energy and motivation I feel to work more and more and more! The mission doesn’t change, it’s the missionary who changes. So if we do it right, we’ll only increase in strength and love instead of decrease. It’s like when I took a workout class in high school. I remember the first time I went, I thought I was going to die. I almost threw up cause it was so hard. Slowly we continued repeating the same exercises all semester long and at the end of the year, I could do the whole thing and instead of feeling tired afterwards, I was full of energy and felt really good. With practice we get stronger, not weaker!

Hermana Berbert with some of the other sister missionaries

Hermana Berbert with some of the other sister missionaries

This week was really rewarding for Hermana Pérez and me. Nicolas was baptized and the service was great. He is an exceptional kid and we both feel like his influence will be huge. He’s gonna help a lot of other people come to Christ, including his family and friends. He is also excited to receive the priesthood, go to the temple, and serve a mission (he’s 13). I have never seen a kid so dedicated and sure of something. Right off the bat he was going to all the activities and wanted to go to church with white shirt and tie. He prayed to know if the church was true and made his decision to be baptized. He reads his Book of Mormon every day and is just an all-around good kid. He’s the fastest baptism I’ve ever had in the mission. In 3 weeks he had all the lessons and was all prepared. That’s the minimum amount of time in which somebody can get baptized and usually people aren’t ready so fast. We’re really happy for him and his family!

Family reactivation and a baptism

Family reactivation and a baptism

The other beautiful part is his family. His dad was baptized as a kid and never went to church much afterward. His dad has had a really tough life. His parents died young and his only living relative threw out all his church stuff in the garbage after he got baptized. He’s a truck driver and one time a little girl ran out in front of his truck. He hit the little girl and she died. That moment tortures him every day and he had depression for many years afterward. Now he has a beautiful family and works ALL THE TIME to give them the best life possible. He wasn’t gonna be able to come to the baptism because he had work but then at the last minute he showed up! I asked him if he had gotten permission to leave work and he said, “No.” Surprised I asked, “What did you do then?” He said, “I just left. How could I miss my son’s baptism?¨ The next day he came to the confirmation as well. Hopefully he doesn’t lose his job. Or maybe he will so he can find a better one! haha. Anyway, the little brother, Franco, decided he wants to get baptized too. He said the closing prayer and was super nervous, but it was really beautiful. The little girl Sofi said, “When can I get baptized???” To which her mom responded, “in 3 more years!” The mom, Fabiola, got a little emotional as well in the baptism and we know she’ll follow his example soon enough. They also invited some family members that aren’t members who really enjoyed the baptismal service. So special.

Chilean pizza

Chilean pizza

Alejandra is a woman that we’ve been teaching lately who has a really tough life. She lives in a dump house and her little son has special needs and pees on EVERYTHING (seriously, the first time we taught her, we sat down on the sofa and it was soaking wet. We had to go to the house to change after cause we could tell by the smell that it wasn’t water.) She has struggled with depression and bipolar disease. Her husband treats her like one of the kids and tells her what to do all the time. He threw away all the things we left her, including her Book of Mormon. He told us that she was reading it obsessively and didn’t want us to confuse her. We didn’t think he would let her come to church and when she didn’t show up we were thinking of dropping her because we can’t help against the will of her husband. But then in the last minute, she shows up to Relief Society and she was all nicely dressed with a skirt and everything. She participated in the lesson and then ran out really fast when it finished. We were really surprised, so we’ll see what happens and if we can’t soften the heart of her husband a bit this week.

Preparation day with the district

Preparation day with the district

Oh and guess what!!! We had a meeting in the mission president’s home like always with all the zone leaders and coordinating sisters this week. And guess who is the newest coordinating sister??? Sister Mendoza!!! My companion from earlier on in the mission. We opened the sector Jardín Del Valle together and I remember we both only had 3 months in the mission and really didn’t know what we were doing. It was so fun to see her again. I love her so much and I was so surprised that tears leaped to my eyes for a moment. It was really sudden and unexpected to see her again.

Painting

Painting

Funny moment of the week: we were doing language study and Hna. Pérez was practicing saying, “She can” in English. But it sounded like she was saying, “Chicken.” “Chicken, clean the house. Chicken, teach the lesson. Chicken, go to bed.” It was pretty funny once I figured out what she really wanted to say!

Today we went to a restaurant that supposedly has food from all over the world. In the United States section of the menu it had ribs!!!! We ordered ribs and another dish from Turkey that we decided to try. It was awesome. I hadn’t eaten ribs for so long. Also the restaurant was really cool and modern looking and played a bunch of oldies music from the U.S. Pretty sweet.

Almost done with the painting

Almost done with the painting

So this week I finished reading the Doctrine and Covenants and there was a really awesome scripture D&C 127:2-4. It’s about how we should even rejoice in suffering when we suffer for God, because we will receive lots of blessings for everything we’ve suffered and all. It’s really great. Also I read in Moses and chapter 7 BLEW MY MIND! It was really beautiful. I highly recommend that you all go home and read it. God shows Enoch his plan for everything that’s going to happen in the world, from the creation until the millennium. It also talks about how God weeps when we make bad decisions and it was really touching to read about Enoch’s experience when he saw the God of the Universe weeping. It talks about the flood when Noah was on the earth and how in the last days, God will flood the earth one more time. But this time, He will sanctify the earth by flooding it with the Gospel before Christ comes again. The Gospel will fill all the earth like a huge flood and all the Saints will be gathered again. (First spiritually and then physically).  Super awesome!

Wow. I wrote a really long post. Not gonna have time to write to anyone. Sorry! Love you all. I love my Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ. I love serving them every day and I’m super duper happy. My heart is just full of gratitude and hope.

Love,
Hermana Berbert

Chile, Week 39 (San Fernando District, San Vicente branch with Sister Pérez)

Happy New Years!!!!

This week was great. Hermana Pérez and I almost met all the standards of excellence this past week. It was great and we feel really happy with the work we were able to do. We had a few of our baptismal dates fall but we are going to do everything we can to take care of them and if they don’t get baptized this month, in February for sure. Nicolas gets baptized this week and we are all really excited! 

This new years we had to enter the house at 7:00 cause it could be kind of dangerous to be outside much later. We organized the area book and enjoyed talking for a while. Then we went to bed. Just like a normal day. At midnight my companion said, “Happy new year!” and I realized that I had fallen asleep kneeling. I mumbled back, “Happy new year” and crawled into my sleeping bag. haha

Today was fun. We had a BBQ with the zone and played soccer!!! It was awesome. We don’t play soccer very much cause the other sister missionaries don’t like to play and just sit and watch. But I love it and was really grateful to run around for a while and burn some energy. IT¨S SO HOT!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Anyway, one of my goals for the new year was to not complain about anything ever. It just doesn’t help anything haha. So this week when it was super hot or I was hungry or my stomach hurt, or I felt tired, etc., I didn’t say anything. And actually, I felt a lot better. Those little things didn’t bug me much when I didn’t express them. I think it’s cause Satan can’t read thoughts so when we don’t say anything when he’s bugging us, he just sees that it’s not working and gives up. But when he sees that something is bugging me cause I said something to my companion or I wrote it in my journal, he’ll attack me with whatever small thing could get me down cause he knows it’s affecting me. Also, when we express things it helps us feel them more strongly, like our love for someone or our testimony of the gospel. So express the good things that you feel and don’t mention the bad things and they won’t bug you as much. Christ suffered a ton but He never said a thing. I think that must have been frustrating for Satan. I like frustrating Satan. I feel good inside. 

I love the mission and I love improving a little bit every day. It’s fun to have more time in the mission cause I’m finally starting to meet the goals I’ve been working on all this time. It wasn’t as fast as I wanted to meet them but everything happens in its time and season and I’m grateful for all the lessons I’ve learned along the way. Love you all!

Hermana Berbert