Hermana Lundy Willes

Hermana Lundy Willes

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Struggles Down Here Are Real

Well, this week was a billion times better than last week.  My Spanish is still awful, but I've accepted it and I am relying on the Lord!  Bryant S. Hinckley knew what he was talking about when he said forget yourself and go to work!

My area is kinda in Santa Cruz, but Santa Cruz is huge.  I think I'm in the third ring, (*see picture below) but I can't remember!  We don't live in our area, so we take mecros (buses) and taxis.  So we are constantly poor.  We are trying to find a new house in our area.  Also our current house has rats.  So there's that motivation too! We are about twenty minutes from the mission home. 

We have one investigator who is the father of a member. She is going on  a mission in April, after having only been a member for a year.  She's incredible.  On Tuesday night we taught him and he asked us why we were serving a mission.  In Spanglish (he understands English) I shared the scripture of feeding the Lord`s sheep and then cried as I told him that I just want everyone to feel the joy I feel from the gospel.  He has a lot of questions about the church and sometimes it`s difficult, because Hermana Murga and I feel the spirit so strongly when we teach him and we don't understand how he can't feel it is true like we do.  But, tonight we are having family home evening with them and hopefully we will make some progress.  I think he knows it is true, he just needs some time. All in the Lord`s time.

You all would be amazed by the poverty here.  The struggles down here are real, more real than anything I've ever seen.  Everyone has experienced death, disease, and they all live in shacks.  Sometimes I want to cry because of how hard everyone's life is.  Yet they have so much faith and are so giving.  It amazes me.  One night we were teaching a less active family and the mom, who is deaf, has six children, and lives in one of the poorest houses in our area, showed me how the apostles must have felt when Christ washed their feet.  My finger was bleeding because I constantly pick my nails and she saw that it was bleeding, went and grabbed some nail cleaner thing, and then grabbed my hands and started picking the skin around my fingers.  She started telling me how I need to stop picking my nails because it is super painful and it was bad for my hands.  This woman, who has next to nothing and has more problems in her life than I will ever have, was worried about me being in pain and my hands.  But that's just the kind of people that are down here.  They have taught me more about the Savior's love in two weeks than in any other time in my life.  

I love my ward!  Some of the people speak English and they are so patient with my Spanish.  They always tell me my Spanish is really good and they are always surprised I've only been here two weeks.  They say I talk like a native, so I've got that going for me! They are incredible members and always so willing to help us with the work.  Our ward has 250 people in it and in Latin culture, everyone greets everyone, so church is super long, but I love it! 

The work here is progressing and I love every minute of it! I'm constantly grateful for the opportunity I have to serve here and to learn from the people.  Sometimes I feel like they are teaching me instead of me teaching them.  My companion is awesome, the sweetest person ever.

I miss and love you lots,  I won't write next week because its Carnival week and we aren`t allowed to leave our houses, but I`ll write on the tenth.   Love and miss you all a ton. Hurrah for Israel!

Hermana Willes

The city of Santa Cruz is laid out in what they refer to as "rings".  
Hermana Willes' area is in the third ring.  
The marker is the chapel she attends church on Sundays.

Monday, February 17, 2014

An Emotional Week!

This has literally been the most emotional week of my life.  If I was to talk to a therapist about my average day, they would diagnose me with bipolar disorder.  I've cried every single day, either from joy or stress or something.  But I'm so happy to be here and the Lord has already given me so many tender mercies.

The hardest thing is the language.  100% of my life I have no idea what's going on and that's super frustrating.  But then, I have moments of clarity and it makes up for everything.  Most of the time in lessons I can only bear my testimony and ask a few simple questions and give a few simple answers.  But poco a poco! It'll come!  All the gringos who have been out for a long time speak the language so it has to happen eventually!

I'm in an area called Trompillo.  The ward is huge and there are eight missionaries in it.  One of them is a gringo, so that`s nice because sometimes he explains things to me in English.  And, there is an American in the ward, which is such a tender mercy because it's nice to understand what someone is saying to me and be reminded that once upon a time people didn't have to repeat everything a hundred times for me to understand what they are saying.  My trainer is from Peru, Hermana Murga.  She's only been out three months, so we're both still learning.  She has yet to have a baptism, but we have a few investigators we're going to commit this week and one girl who is committed.  So we'll see!  Bolivians are pro at saying they will do something and then be too busy to actually do it.  But, we have some really golden investigators that are progressing.  We live in a really nice house with two other hermanas.  They are all older than me but really sweet.  I'll send pictures next week! 

I've learned a lot about the gospel and Bolivia, so I'll share a few fun facts:

1. It's "No shave November" here all year round.

2. The whole "crocs are cute--said no one ever!" thing is a lie.  People down here LOVE crocs.  They wear them all the time. 

3. They don't believe in dinner.  I don't even understand that.  Its like they don't get hungry or something.  I tried doing that one day.  It didn`t go to well.  At the end of the day I told my comp (Hermana Murga) that I NEED to eat dinner.  

4. A testimony of the gospel is not enough.  Before we left the MTC, we watched a devotional by Elder Bednar about this.  We go visit menos activos (less actives) and they always bear these awesome testimonies and I sit there super confused.  Last night, we visited this one lady and when we asked her how she felt about being a part of the church, she said she considered it a privilege.  And then, she bore her testimony about the gospel. Yet, she hasn't been to church in over a year and a half.    So, I've learned that while we need a testimony, it is not enough.  We must be converted because when we are converted then we will truly become disciples of Christ. 

5. Faith is an action word.  It takes a lot of faith to learn a language.  Sometimes, it's really hard because I'm tired or discouraged.  But, I have to show the Lord I have faith and then He will bless me. Demonstrating that faith means I have to open my mouth.  And then it will be filled.

I've learned lots more but these are the most important things! 

I love you all so much and miss you tons.  Eat american food for me and take a warm shower, ours is freezing! 

Love you!

Hermana Willes

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

I'm Home!


I have like .5 seconds to write but I made it safe and sound and I am as happy as a kid on Christmas morning!  Tomorrow I find out who my companion is and where my first area is.  President Willard is amazing.  He and Sister Willard met as teachers in the MTC just like you guys (Mom and Dad)!  One of the APs told us that President Willard runs the mission just as Christ would and I can already tell, he is so full of love and compassion.  Also, everyone says this is the best mission, that all the missionaries are super obedient and get the work done.  I can't wait to get out there tomorrow and start teaching! 

Love you all so much! 

Hermana Willes

Saturday, February 8, 2014

If you want to see real faith, come to South America!

Three days and I’ll finally be in Bolivia! I don’t think there has ever been a missionary more excited to get to the field.  I’m going to cry like a little a Willes when I get there.  But what’s new?

I´ll talk about my companion and everything in a minute, but first I want to share two experiences I had this week:

Having a Latin companion is really hard sometimes because you have to concentrate twenty-four-seven on what everyone around you is saying and you feel stupid every second.  It can be very discouraging at times.  My first real day with my companion, I was super discouraged.  We taught a lesson and I had no idea what was going on and all I could do was bear my testimony and every time my companion turned to me I would just be like ¨Yo se que las palabras de mi companera es verdad...¨ I felt so frustruated.  After lunch, I went on my bed and cried for a few minutes because I didn’t understand how I could fulfill my purpose as a missionary if I couldn’t speak the language and understand what was going on.  But I pulled it together, said a prayer, and went on with my day. That night, we were sitting in class talking about how to study and the teacher was talking about how it’s all the Latino's job to help us learn Spanish.  Then she said something I know was an answer to my prayers: It doesn’t matter if you don’t know the words or your pronunciation is terrible because the spirit is the universal language of the gospel.  If you teach by the spirit, the people will be taught in the correct way and it won’t matter how bad your Spanish is.  Then, she kept teaching the lesson, but I sat in the back and cried because it was exactly what I needed to hear.

I had a similar experience yesterday.  I had been getting super frustrated because I felt like everyone was progressing faster than me and I didn’t feel like I had improved at all.  My teacher walked into the class and asked us ¨Today, do you want to hear the words of God to you?¨ He then told us to get on our knees, pray, and then open our Book of Mormon and read.  After I prayed, I read Alma 37:6, which says by small and simple things shall great things be brought to pass.  Then, my teacher shared an experience of how he was trying to learn English and it was so hard for him, but he knew that he could do it and it would bless the lives of his family.  Right after that, he called on me to share my scripture.  I was crying so hard I could barely talk and all I could manage to say was that with the Lord´s help, poco a poco, I could learn Spanish.  Everyone else shared their scriptures and the spirit was so strong, none of us wanted to leave when class was done.  I know that both those experiences were Heavenly Father reminding me that this is His work and He always finds a way to accomplish His work.  I’m so grateful for the Lord and His tender mercies.

My companion is Hermana Chupuimia and she´s from La Paz, Bolivia! I’ve loved having a Bolivian! I ask her like five billion questions a day about what to expect.  She´s a convert of four years and was the only member in her family until her mom got baptized last year.  She’s a sweetheart and I love her so much! I’ll send pictures next week. We were first to email this week and so we didn’t have time to take pics.

I’ve learned so much from the CCM and the Latins.  If you want to see real faith, come to South America.  Most of the missionaries are converts, often of only a few years.  And, usually, the only member in their family. They love the gospel with their whole hearts and when they teach, they teach with power.  The teachers are incredible because not only do they teach us, they become our friends.  I’m going to miss them so much.  I’m so grateful to serve down here!

I’ve been proposed to twice in this past week, so I guess if you want to get married go on a mission? This one missionary was like (in broken English, which made it funnier) Hermana Wllles, after your mission you will marry me.  I was like ok, but you have to move the U.S.  And he was like ok I move to the U.S. you marry me?  I was dying!

I’ll fly out on Monday night.  Rumor is we might stay in the Lima MTC for a night! Next time you hear from me will be in Bolivia! Love you all so much! Hurrah for Israel!

Hermana Willes

Group #3 that Hermana Willes has been a part of at the CCM.  
Her companion, Sister Chupuimia, is on her right (in the brown sweater).