Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Week 64: Hola! Double letter!


Sorry about last week: I had some very serious computer malfunctions, but we´re back now :D [She was unable to send us a letter last week because the computer she typed her letter on wouldn't send it out!]

The leadership council was super awesome! It made me realize the importance of the great goals Pres. Doman has for the mission! Where much is given, much is expected, and I know that Chiapas has a lot of people waiting to hear the gospel!

Hna Gonzalez and me!!!
 [Tess' trainer and their first time together since Tess was trained.]

We visit a LOT of people that are struggling with a LOT of things, and we went to visit a less active lady and her family who commented the other day to a member that "The only thing more that could happen is that a dog bites me!" And then the next day a dog bit her son! Basically, life´s pretty hard for her right now. But we went to visit her with our mission leader and he gave her a blessing, and we all could really just feel the comfort of a priesthood blessing. But she said something that I really really liked. I´m going to say it in Spanish first because it´s really really clear in Spanish, and then I´ll explain.

She said: "He aprendido no decir "¿Por qué?" sino "¿Para qué?" "

In Spanish, "por" and "para" basically mean for, or to in English. Por que and Para que, in English, both mean "Why" or "because". But in Spanish, there´s a distinct difference. Por que basically means, as she was saying it: Why me? Why is this happening? Why do I have to deal with this problem? But PARA que means: For what purpose is this happening? What do I have to learn from this situation so that it means something and I´m not just suffering to suffer? I really really love that a small change in wording can mean so much, and it really helped me to understand the importance of our ATTITUDE.

This transfer has been CRAZY in the zone! Pres. Doman has been making a lot of changes in the whole mission. There are a lot of branches in the mission, and Pres George had missionaries in every single branch, but Pres Doman wants us to be focusing on cities, where there are a lot of people, and so every week there´s been some sort of change in our zone! Because of that we haven´t been able to do exchanges with the sisters in our zone since we´ve been helping them look for a new house in their new area!!! It´s a little stressful, but we know that it´s for a reason!

Comitán is REALLY beautiful, but there are some pretty crazy hills in our area. I feel like I´m basically rock climbing when I´m climbing up sometimes.

A view of Comitán :D

Yesterday we spoke in church! There are two companionships in Balun Canan and we all talked about the "Light and truth" of the gospel. It was pretty fun.

Hna Montaño y yo!

We saw some pretty incredible miracles this week, especially when we went with some hermanos to give a blessing to A, the son of P and E. He´s been sick, they couldn´t go to church the other week because he was sick, so we went afterwards to give him a blessing. So in the blessing A was a little upset, a little scared of these people he doesn´t know, but we went a couple days later to check how everyone was and E was super happy to tell us that after the blessing A slept SUPER well, without a single cough! He´s super well now, and I think that really really strengthened their confidence in our message. They´re preparing for 18 November!

Love you all lots!

Hermana Owens

We went to visit some members and they were working on getting rid of this giant rock in their house! So we thought, oh we´re going to work at this rock and get rid of it today so that the brother  who hasn't been coming to church wants to go to church! And we were working at it for a while when I asked them how long they´d been working at that rock. And the guy said, "Oh, several years." We lost our fire a little bit after that :D But it was pretty fun to do :D

Monday, October 2, 2017

Week 62: Leadership Council!!!


We have to leave in a little bit to go to Tuxtla to have the leadership council with all the zone leaders and sister training leaders so we`re just going to write fast, but this was an AWESOME week!

My first Sunday here, an hno came up to us to tell us that he wanted to give us a reference, and he wanted to visit this person with us, so obviously we put a day and everything. This Tuesday we went to visit the reference, and it's a couple: P and E!! They are the humblest couple of people I`ve met in my life: When we visit, we sit on buckets, but even though they don`t have ANYTHING in their house E has left to go buy us some sweet bread and juice the two times we`ve visited, and she does it with so much happiness! They don`t know how to read, and have a little boy, A, who`s one year old. We only met them Tuesday, but they went to conference Sunday morning! The Hno that gave us the reference passed by to pick them up, and they were all ready to go! They LOVED the conference, and P commented on how he really liked when (I think Elder Bednar) spoke about how we can be new through God. I just LOVED that they could understand a little, and could see that really we have the gospel to change! I`m so so so excited to see how these people change, in just these few days that we`ve visited them I can already see that they`re more peaceful and content. I love the gospel! 

Needless to say, Conference was AWESOME. Daddy mentioned how he really liked Elder Andersen`s talk, and I really liked it, too, especially when he read some excerpts from the talk of Elder Hales. It was just super powerful to know that this apostle prepared these words especially for us, and I just could really feel the Spirit testify of the truthfulness of everything the apostles said. Some of my favorite "quotes" ("quotes" because they`re just kind of paraphrasing what i heard):

"Blessings will come: not by your abilities, but by your decisions." Dieter F. Uchtdorf

"Love without service is like faith without works: dead."

"We have to have the faith to NOT be healed temporally, so that we can be healed eternally."

"Remember to put Christ in the center of your life TODAY."

I know that the apostles and prophets are chosen by God, and that they truly only express what He wants us to know! I loved that the conference focused in service, and in how we treat others, and the importance of LOVE towards our neighbor.

Love you all lots!

Hermana Owens

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Week 61: Nine Stars Branch :)

Hola, Familia!

I am in Comitán, in Rama Balun Canan! Balun Cana means "Nueve Estrellas" in Tzeltal [one of the native languages in Chiapas]. Or Nine Stars in English :D

The earthquake [the terrible one that hit Mexico City so hard] happened during the transfers, but we didn´t feel anything, but all the missionaries who are from Puebla, Mexico, and near there were allowed to call home for five minutes to check that everything was okay! Hna Montaño [Tess's new companion] is from Puebla, Puebla [where the epicenter was] so she was pretty worried, but her mom said, "We´re all good here! Now get to work!" :)

But I LOVE Comitán! It feels like a day in early spring in South Dakota! When it can get a little chilly in the night because it´s still warming up, but it can get relatively hot at noon with the sun. I love it! I´ve used my sweater a couple of times and I sleep with a blanket! It´s pretty awesome! Also, we have hot water!!! :D I´m very content in Comitán :D

But it´s SUPER cool because Comitan is made up of two branches, and then there are a couple more branches outside of the city itself. We´re in Balun Canan, with a companionship of elders. I´m a sister training leader, but it´s a lot less stress than in other zones because we only have one other companionship to worry about! And that other companionship includes Hna Gutierrez, my excompanion, and Hna Ignacio, who´s just super awesome and I already basically know her because she´s been with a few other people that I know. But it´s super super fun here, I love serving in Comitán! We´re living above one of President Doman´s councilors, Pte. Soto, and his family and it´s super great because they help us out a whole bunch. But it´s a little crazy because we´re JUST moving there. The day I arrived we went to that house instead of the one where the sisters were living before! So we´ve been doing a lot of moving, but it´s all good!

A pretty awesome miracle from this week was that we went to look for this one less active member, who also sells icees, so we decided that we would take advantage of the situation and eat an icee (I don´t know how to spell that) too. But while we were there, two ladies, of about 25 and 20 years, walked past and we said hello. They kept going, and we kept talking to the hermano. But suddenly they came back and they just said, "We were planning to keep going, but we saw you guys here and we decided to come back!" and they bought five icees, and as the hermano made them, we spoke with them. The two of them were SUPER friendly and open, but especially the younger girl was super excited and asked if we visited people in their houses and we were like, well if you like!!! :D It was just super awesome to see that there really are these people so prepared to hear the gospel!

Les amo mucho!

Hermana Owens

Hna D and S, two members in la Salle that ALWAYS helped us out.
Sorry, I have yet to take photos in Comitan because we´ve been super busy moving and everything.....but I´ll take them this week :D

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Week 60: Cambios!!!! La Última AREA!!! (maybe)

​Hola, familia!

Well, we have transfers this week! These three months en la Salle have FLOWN by!! I can´t believe that I only have three transfers more in the mission!!! I´m going to....Comitán!!! It´s one of the coolest parts (temperature wise) of Chiapas, and I´m pretty excited to use my sweater for the first time in 14 months! :D

[Here is the Wikipedia page about it: Comitan,Chiapas,Mexico  ]

It was pretty sad saying goodbye to all the people I´ve met en la Salle, it´s a really really awesome ward. Especially Hno P! He´s my favorite person ever, I believe. [He is the ward mission leader there.]

It´s also pretty crazy that Hna Hernandez is going to be leading the area now! I keep thinking "Oh, no, I didn´t teach her this thing well enough," or "Oh, will she remember this?" But she´s a super super awesome person and is going to be just fine. I know that with her new companion they´re going to see a whole bunch of miracles :D

This week I was reading in Alma 26 and I LOVE what Alma says in verse 36: that God, and I also interpreted it as the gospel, is "his life, his light, his joy, and his salvation, and his redemption from eternal anguish." Through the gospel, we are HAPPY! We have the gospel for that one purpose! And we share it as we serve, and help other people. If we want to be happy, we share and serve with others :)

Love you lots!

Hermana Owens

We celebrated Mexican Independence Day! el día del grito! It was super fun. A whole bunch of members brought their non member friends and it was super super fun. One of their friends, E, is really interested and we have an appointment with him for Tuesday! (Well, my companion has an appointment... :D)

el Obispo (bishop) and his family!!!

hno P the rockstar mission leader

Monday, September 11, 2017

Week 59 :El Sismo!

Well, before ANYTHING else, I`m just going to make sure everyone knows that we`re all good. It`s crazy: you hear that an earthquake was 8.2, and that just sounds TERRIBLE. But there really has not been very much damage here. Everyone explains that it`s because it was a vibrating earthquake, one that goes side to side, but the earthquakes that do a lot of damage (like the one in Mexico City in 1985) are the wave-type earthquakes. (I know that I took a lot of years in physical science and I should know the actual names of those two types of earthquakes but I`m just going to go with vibrating and wavy earthquakes :D) But the power came back later that night, I think it came back at about 7 or 8. When we came back, the power was back.

But anyway, we woke up to the world shaking at 11:50 (I checked my watch because I thought that it was the middle of the night, like 2 or 3, and I was surprised I`d only been asleep for about an hour). We ran out of the room, and opened the door, and we heard some people yelling on the other side. There were a lot of people that were yelling things like, "Forgive me!" and trying to repent I guess. It made me ask if we would hear things like that in the States, where people are generally less religious.

After the quake, that I guess lasted for about two minutes, honestly....I just wanted to go to bed. I think I need some practice with having fear towards earthquakes and stuff. After seeing movies and TV shows and everything of huge quakes that throw people around and destroy EVERYTHING, I guess maybe I just don`t feel the fear so much? But I`m also going to attribute it to the Spirit. Like, I felt the importance of running for the door, for leaving, but I just didn`t feel worried. Just peaceful.

So we went down and talked with everyone outside for a while (it`s part of the earthquake experience, sharing your earthquake experience). But then at about 2 Pres. Doman sent us a message that we all had to go to our stake building. Oh! And also, it started raining! And it was POURING! But we went there in case there were big replicas [aftershocks], but there weren`t, so then we went back to our house at about 7. We then went around visiting some members to check how was everyone, but apart from the power, there`s not much damage around here!

President Doman has counseled us since he arrived that we should ask special blessings for people, that as representatives of Jesus Christ, we have the special opportunity to ask a blessing for them. It`s been pretty incredible since we started doing it to see how much it really blesses the people we visit. After the quake, we went to eat with a sister, and she was pretty....frazzled? She was worried because she didn`t have power and her gas stove moved and so she didn`t want to turn it on in case it was leaking gas or something, and I think she just felt really bad that she couldn`t give us something a little bit fancier than a tuna salad and some leftovers. (But I had actually been praying that we could eat some vegetables, so the salad was the answer to a prayer :D) But anyway, in the end Hna Hernandez offered the prayer "as representatives of Jesus Christ" and as she said it, we all could feel the Spirit so strongly. As she finished the prayer, the hermana was crying and just said, "It`s so nice to hear a blessing from His representatives." Because there hasn`t been much damage, I thought a little that maybe we wouldn`t have many opportunities to serve, but it`s so not true! Maybe it won`t be in the normal manner, cleaning up houses and stuff, but we`ll be able to share with the people as they`re more open to the gospel.

I sure love the gospel! I`m so happy to be serving here right now, and I`m so glad I have the opportunity to share the gospel with everyone here! I know that Heavenly Father loves us and that only His will can be done. I love you all LOTS.

Hermana Owens

We also had intercambios this week! I was with Hna Larsen! 2 gringas together! ha ha :D
Zone activity!

Note: While Tess was emailing us, she felt another aftershock. She wrote: 

They`ve been happening quite a bit, but just a few that are stronger. You feel it more when you`re sitting than when you`re standing. Every time it happens we all just kind of look at each other to see if it`s suddenly going to get worse and we have to get running. And yeah, there`s always just kind of this feeling like, "What if something happens right now!" It rains a lot and sometimes you hear thunder and you`re not sure if it`s thunder or if it`s the earth moving. It`s really weird.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Week 58 Update: The Earthquake

Dear friends and family of Tess, 

A dangerous earthquake occurred last night off the coast of the state of Chiapas, Mexico, where Tess is serving her mission. We have been worried about her (I admit I didn't sleep all night), but were relieved to receive an email this morning from her Mission President and wanted to share his message with you: 

EACH ONE of the missionaries who are currently serving in this mission is safe and each is with companion(s) --- and all missionaries are now located in safe locations and areas.

We have had contact with each of the areas and with each missionary throughout the mission, and are in contact principally with the coastal zones (Tonalá, Arriaga, Zapata, Chahuites, Zanatepec, Ixhuatan) to make sure that each missionary is safe. We are hoping to travel there today with supplies.

So far, other than damage to structures, there have been no reported injuries or major problems with any of the missionaries, nor any major incidents, all are well and we are aware of all issues related to making sure that all missionaries are safe and have sufficient food and water and supplies.

Thank you for your prayers!

Presidente Kevin V. Doman

The Church also put out a statement about the earthquake:


We are so grateful that our daughter is safe, but also know that many are suffering through unimaginable hardships right now and our thoughts and prayers are with all those who are facing such incredible challenges in Mexico, Texas, the Caribbean, Florida, and others.

A little later in the day we received this update from Tess: 

The Earthquake!

We have permission to write our families quick to let everyone know that we´re okay. It was pretty crazy but we´re okay, nothing even broke in our house! Just shook everything a lot. We don´t have electricity right now, and there isn´t electricity in a lot of neighborhoods by here, but we´re okay. Don´t worry!

We´re visiting a lot of people, trying to see how we can help, and I know that everything will be okay! I know that the Lord hears every one of our prayers. Last night, as we were going to bed, I felt that it was really important that we pray as companions very specifically for our families, that they can have comfort, and then came the earthquake! I know that the Lord knows the why and when for everything, don´t worry about us!

Love you lots!

Hermana Owens

Monday, August 21, 2017

Week 56: Hola Familia!

Hola, Familia!

This week was really good, we´re planning with a couple other wards a talent show that´s going to be the first day of classes in Hogwarts! (September 1)

But we´re working super hard here, and seeing some pretty awesome miracles! L came for the first time to church, the wife of C, and she LOVED it. Now for the next week we just hope C comes, too :)

We´ve been working a lot with less actives, trying to help them remember why they were baptized, and I found this in the Liahona for this month: "Every time that a doubt or a question has come up, I've been able to remember the promise I made, and have based my important decisions in my life on that commitment." I just really liked that maybe we´ll see a lot of things in our life that maybe don't line up with how we think things should be, but if we focus on the things we promised by baptism 1) remember Christ 2) keep His commandments and 3) take upon us His name, our decisions will be easy to make because the Lord´s will will always be that we follow Him. So let´s keep the commandments! Woo! :)

Love you all lots!

Hermana Owens ​

A really awkward picture
because we thought it was funny that we have very similar pajamas. 
The hermanas in our district! Hernandez, Nuñez, Zamora, Larsen, Rivera, and Owens :)
The district!