Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Mission Log: 27 August 2012

My first transfer is New Jersey has come and gone, never to be relived again. It's incredible and ridiculous how quickly time keeps passing. Like yesterday when I was 5 years old and an hour seemed like an eternity and now months and years are passing by before I can ever get all the way woken up. It's madness I tell you. This week was like that. It just flew by and I didn't even know what was happening and then it was over. 

Hermana Lowry and I were focusing on charity, and this incredible thing happened. Heavenly Father took my heart and softened it up in His hands, then He stretched it and pulled it and made enough room for all the love He wants to store in there. That happens from time to time. My heart gets so full that I feel it will literally burst from loving so much...then I cry a little bit because, hello, my heart is about to explode here...and then Heavenly Father makes it better. I didn't understand how much He would need me to love. I thought I was pretty good at caring for people, I thought I was okay at being understanding and helping others. I knew I would have to grow and change and be more...I just didn't understand how much more. So much more. More than I ever thought I would be, more than I ever could be if it weren't for His divine help. I'm so grateful for the perfect patience of God. I'm so glad He can help me one little piece at a time, and I'm SO glad He can teach me how to be a little bit that way myself. I'm learning, you know. I am. I'm learning to be more patient. I'm learning to love more perfectly. I'm learning and I think I might even be doing so good as I do. 

As a missionary I invite others to act in their faith. Sister Lowry and I spend a lot of think thinking and talking about the people we teach and try to plan ways to help them the way they need us to help them. Every day we do this. We always invite people to read the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon. We always invite people to pray. We always invite people to come to church. We always invite people to be baptized. It's what we do, not for our own sake, but because it's what God wants from His children. Every single one of His children, that's what He asks us to do. The thing is sometimes the people we teach aren't ready to do these things. Sometimes it's hard. It always requires some sacrifice, and we're always blessed for it, but sometimes it's still really hard. So this week we were thinking and praying and talking about one of the dear families we teach and we had an idea. A picture of Christ. A simple thing we could ask them to do. Just hang up a picture of Christ in their home so they can see it and remember their Savior. We even picked out a picture for them and put it in a frame to give them as a gift. They hung it up right their with us still in their home. It's a beautiful picture, so we talked about it. And our conversation turned into the bearing of testimony that Christ loves us. Before we left we were able to kneel in prayer with their family. It was one of the happiest moments of my life to feel the Spirit in their home. Then yesterday the mother came to church. Joy. That is joy. Soon her whole family will be with her, I know it. Soon that joy will be a constant feeling in their home. I love them. 

These are the things I get to be a part of. This is my life. 

There is power in simply remembering. Remember the Savior, think of all He has done for you. Also, "please never forget that you must be patient and compassionate with yourselves, that some sacrifices are better than others, that you need not wait for a golden ticket to be happy. Please never forget that the "why" of the gospel of Jesus Christ will inspire and uplift you. And never forget that your Heavenly Father knows, loves, and cherishes you." - Dieter F. Uchtdorf  

I don't know who all reads this or ever will read this, but whoever you are I hope you know that I trust God. I hope you know that I love the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that happiness can be found in obedience to the commandments. I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God and I love it. The messages it contains speak peace to my soul. I love being a missionary and seeing the miracles that take place as people act in their faith. I love the miracles that happen in my life as I do the same. 

All my love,
Hermana Jari Santos

Monday, August 20, 2012

Mission Log: 20 August 2012

So another week in Jersey. Everyone has fevers and is dying. It's adorable. Seriously though, everyone is sick. We had to take one of the sisters to the hospital this week. She wasn't happy about it. Do not tell a missionary that he or she is not allowed to work, it just leads to anger. It was fun though, we got to know the staff really well and she was in there with a bunch of other Spanish speaking patients and she made friends and told them all about Jesus. It was good...I just wish she would get better. Being sick is the worst. 

But, despite illnesses (I'm totally fine by the way, just playing apartment nurse and I annoyingly ask "how do you feel" every five minutes, they love me) we had a week full of miracles. We kept running into people and the exact time that they needed us. We stopped a man from drinking himself into oblivion and were able to answer his questions about God. We made friends with more of the members in our ward. It was a good week. Sometimes, no, wait, almost all the time, things aren't spectacular or glamorous. BUT being a missionary is really happy. I just love people. I love them, then I tell them about how God loves them. I serve them. I do what I can to be a good person and I encourage others to do the same. It's a happy life and I'm grateful it's mine. 

I'm starting to understand how precious individuals are. They are important, and they need to be loved. 

As sister missionaries in New Jersey we also volunteer at the family history center on Ellis Island. It's pretty exciting. We get to help people find long lost ancestors and listen to stories about their families. We just love them and help them and it's great. Except for this week all the power went there was no family history program to help with. Instead the head lady decided that I needed to better understand what happens at Ellis Island so that I'll be more useful in helping the family history center people. So Sister Lowry and I ended up on a tour...and then we took a couple wrong turns and ended up in old abandoned laundry service centers and old communicable disease wards...just another day in the life :) 

I hope everyone is happy and healthy and enjoying the end of summer. 

All my love,

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Mission Log: 14 August 2012

Weird people use public library computers. Like the woman next to me who walked all the way here from who knows how far so that she can play bejeweled and BLAST crazy rap music into her headphones. It's awesome. 

So this week. My I had my first exchange. So my companion left me all alone in Jersey City with the car keys, a day full of appointments all over town, and an English speaking missionary. I was a bit terrified. BUT, good news, I can drive in Jersey, sort of. AND I can speak Spanish. AND I can teach the gospel. So I survived and I have a lot more confidence now then I did before. All good things. 

I went to a little girls first birthday party and lost a potato sack race to a bunch of little girls. In case anyone was wondering missionary attire and potato sacks do not work very well together. Also, the stake president's wife went from hugging me to dancing with me and wouldn't let me go. She was so funny, and so much fun. It kind of reminded me of late nights dancing in the kitchen with my was hilarious and reminded me that even though I'm Hermana Santos right now, I'm also Jari. 

We had a special training for all the new missionaries. It's amazing what great work we do as such young people. We just depend on our Heavenly Father and He guides everything we do. I'm really impressed with each of the eighteen 19 year old boys that entered with me. They have a lot of faith, a lot of confidence, and they invite miracles. I know I was sent to New Jersey for a reason, and there are specific things that I need to accomplish here. I know I am becoming more of the woman Heavenly Father intends me to be. Sometimes the changing and becoming hurts a bit, but it's so worth it. 

I did my first hospital visit as a missionary. I'm really comfortable in hospitals, I attribute that to my father. It works out well too because when people are sick or hurting they just want someone to come in and treat them a little normal. So we came in and sang to this woman for a little while and let her tell us some stories about her family. It was good to be able to spend some time with her and the other patients that were near also came and thanked us for visiting. It was nice. Well, it wasn't nice that she was in the hospital, but it was nice that I could do something to make her and others feel better.

Along with hospitals we visit nursing homes. Specifically, we visit Sister Arranda. She just sits in her little chair all day and sings and makes friends with everyone and prays to God that she can die soon. I ADORE her. She only has one tooth and sometimes she mixes some random mountain language from Bolivia in with her Spanish and I don't understand her at all, but I still just love her. She always asks for the names of all the people we're teaching and prays for them. I'm grateful to her for that. 

I know Heavenly Father loves each of His children. I know He is aware of our needs. I know that sometimes He asks us to do hard things because He knows we can and He knows the experience will make us better. I'm so glad that He knows what's up and He takes care of me. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Mission Log: 06 Aug 2012

AUGUST? WHAT?!  I don't understand what happens with time. I go to bed at night and when I wake up it's a new month. I'm not okay with how quickly time is passing. I need a chance to catch my breath. 

What to say about this week. It's summer time in New Jersey. I may or may not sing "summer stinks and winter's waiting" in my head every single morning. If you know Newsies then enjoy having that stuck in your head the rest of the day. BUT IT'S TRUE. Summer is hot and humid and stinky. Remember the trash I was talking about? Yeah, stinky. It's great though, because it makes a lot of the people I talk to really mad. They hate the trash and they talk about how we should take care of the earth...then Sister Lowry and I start talking about how the earth is a gift from God and we definitelyshould take care of it, and before they realize what's happening we're saying a prayer with them outside on those stinky streets. It happens a lot, and I love it. 

Oh, and I feel like I should get a medal or a sticker or something. This week I got my first door slammed in my face. Yay! I'm a real missionary, it's official. It was a Greek family, the daughter answered the door...then quickly slammed it. Then went and got her mom, who filled the entire door frame, and she screamed and yelled and pushed until we got all the way off her porch and down the street. It made me laugh more than anything. She was obviously a cranky woman and all I wanted to do was tell her how she could be happy forever. If nothing else I hope she feels a little bit bad about it and then as some form of restitution let's the next missionaries who knock her door come in. That would be nice. Either way I survived the experience. I didn't even cry. 

Honestly though, this was a really great week. We taught A LOT of lessons to a lot of different people. Here's an idea. If you want to know what my week was like you should call the missionaries and ask them to come teach you about the Restoration of the Gospel, The Plan of Salvation, or the Doctrine of Christ. That's what I did all week. So hang out with the missionaries for a little bit, learn something good, and then times it by 30 and you'll have my week in a nutshell. 

No really, go do that. You won't regret it, I promise. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Mission Log: 30 July 2012

More MTC photos.
With cousin Elder Anderson
So Jersey is just this strange little world. I love it. Police sirens are my constant lullaby, there are always random strange people to talk to, I see NYC every single day, the pizza is amazing. To be honest, my life is pretty charmed. I work one day at Ellis Island every other week helping people with family history. It's so fun. Hearts of the children are definitely turning to their fathers, and I love it. Family history is cool. It's even more cool when I get to talk about temples and how families can be together forever, but that's a bit taboo when I work at Ellis Island. It's okay though, because a lot of people ask anyway and then I get to tell them who I am and why I'm there and hope they keep asking me lots of questions. It's a fun life. I love my name tag all the time, but I especially love it when I'm at Ellis Island, because then I get to tell people about my purpose. I get to tell them that I'm this random half Danish/Colorado-native half Brazilian mutt who doesn't speak English, Portuguese, or Spanish who calls Florida home but is living in New Jersey for 18 months WHY? So that I can invite others to come unto Christ. That's why. And it's not just at Ellis Island. I go lots of places, and I always have the same purpose. And I love it. Most the time people just tell me I'm doing a really good thing, but sometimes they ask me more. Sometimes I meet Esteban who just wants to know what he should teach his son so that he'll grow up to be a good man and so that he'll know that God loves him and that he'll keep God's commandments. Sometimes I meet Luis who is just a teenage boy who doesn't understand if his life has any purpose, and if it does have purpose he doesn't know what to do with it. Sometimes I meet Crystal who doesn't want to talk to me any more, but for 5 minutes on a random Sunday I got to tell her that Heavenly Father knows her, and that he sent His Son, Jesus Christ, for HER and that she matters. 

That's why I love being a missionary. I love it because I get to help people understand how to receive answers to some of lives hardest questions. I get to remind people that they are children of God. I get to pray with people. I get to pray for people. I get to help people carry their groceries. I get to be a better person each and every day. I get to love so many people. I love it. And guess what, you don't have to be a missionary to do all those great things. So do some of them, and love it. Love, serve and help others. Read the scriptures. Say your prayers. Just do good, and be good, and be so happy. Because that's what you're suppose to be.

Something else to know about Jersey, there are bugs and garbage everywhere. Especially along the roads and sidewalks. Every place you look. Because they want us to be extra safe and to not wreck cars that are owned by the church I have to get out of the car and watch/guide my companion every time we back up. So I was helping her yesterday and wasn't paying attention as I was walking backwards guiding her. I FELL IN GARBAGE! I fell in my skirt, in my pretty skirt and pretty jacket right into some roadside garbage. It was terrible, but also hilarious. So I started laughing and couldn't get myself out of these disgusting, stinky, hot, black bags of garbage. And when I finally got all the way out and stopped laughing I realized that we had just parked at a bus stop and had to find a new place to park. Great. I do silly things like that every day, I'm just grateful that Sister Lowry can laugh at me and that I can laugh at me. Because if not my klutzy nature would get really old really fast. And the bugs. We found this weird bug in our shower the other day. We took a picture of it and showed our bishop what it was...he said it would sting/burn us if we touched when we got home we killed it with Lysol. I felt kind of bad about it. Poor little, ugly bug. 

Anyway, life is really great. Really, really great. I don't understand how I have energy, and sometimes I get frustrated because I don't speak perfect Spanish...but mostly my life is just a whole lot of fun. I make lots of friends, I share the most precious thing in the world with them (the Gospel of Jesus Christ) and I watch as they make choices that change their lives for the better. It's great. Just great!

Notes from Annalee: Sorry the blog was late this week. And just so everyone knows Jari's address has been updated (there was just a little change).