The Space Between

There’s a saying here that goes, “Del dacha alfecho hay niche trecho.” What it means is that there is a space between the things we say that we need to do or know is right, and actually doing it. Sometimes that space is big, and in order to accomplish the things we want. We need to make the space smaller.

I’ve heard before that everything we want is outside our comfort zone. I believe that the “space” is our comfort zone and as a missionary, you become well acquainted with being outside of it. The past month I’ve learned a thing or two how to handle being outside of that zone.

This is my first time away from home and I’m in a foreign land in which I don’t speak or understand the language very well. And by that I mean I only understand five percent of what people say and can only pick out words because they speak so fast. I put those words together, form a message in my head (hoping that it is correct_ and trust on that when I respond. I’ve never felt more vulnerable than I do now teaching and sharing with others what is most important to me and the biggest part of who I am. The biggest thing for me is the language barrier and everyday I have to put myself out there. As i do that I am learning how to rely on the Spirit to help me communicate and say the things that people need to hear.

I believe we can get to where we want to be with 2 things: 1) Goals and 2) The atonement of Jesus Christ. There are two parts of a goal. First, is what you want to accomplish. Second, is the way and means you are going to accomplish what you want. Without both together, it is just simply a wish, desire and dream. Goals turn our wishes and hopes into actions (Preach my Gospel, Chp. 8 “Using Time Wisely”), which turn our dreams into a reality. As a missionary I am constantly making goals; personal goals, companionship goals, goals for member and investigators, language goals, daily goals, hourly goals, weekly goals… All day. Errday. But really though, those goals give direction in what I need to do and I can fill the days with activities that will bring me closer to what i want done. This is something I wish i did more before the mission. I would have been able to do so much more and more productive with my time.

I feel myself being stretched in ways I never thought were possible. But because of that, I am growing as a person and making big changes in my life. I wouldn’t be able to make these changes without the Atonement. Christ is everything to me. I know that He is the only person who clearly understand every singly personas heartache, pain, difficulties and guild because He suffered and overcame all, even death. I cannot fathom His experience, but I know He did it for one reason: Love. Love for our Father and for every soul. I’ve found stregth in Him and have been filled with His love. And that has made me and continues to make me into a better person,

We truly can do anything though the Atonement as it says in a scripture in the Book of Mormon

“Nevertheless, the Lord God shouted us our weakness that we may know that it is by His grace, and His great condescensions unto the children of men that we have power to do these things” Jacob 4:7

We don’t have to walk alone. We can invite Christ into our lives by allowing His Atoning sacrifice change and heal our hearts.

FInd missionaries in your area and learn more about the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. mormon.org

Pic 1: Hna torres, me and Andrea!!
Pic 2: Ran into ma soul sista Hna Flinders!!
pic 3: Eating hugo with la familia Paz!!
pic 4: la Familia Zhuira, esta familia es full pilas!
pic 5: Happy Loja Independance Day
pic 6: COoking lessons with Mauruxi!
pic 7: mi madre hna tanner

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Aloha a Loja

It’s a whole new world here in Ecuador. I feel like Jasmine from Aladdin when she says “a dazzling place I never knew… unbelievable sight… can’t go back to where I used to be… every turn a surprise…

Everything from the people, food, culture and way of life is different. I absolutely love everything about Ecuador and so excited that it will be my life.

My first assignment is a small city perched in the mountains called Loja. I cannot get over how gorgeous the Andes mountains are! It is so beautiful the pictures do not do justice. Think of the song “Tradition” from Fiddle on the Roof. That is what Loja is like, very traditional and small town. The people in the Ecuadorian mountains are different form the rest of Ecuador. People her in Loja are all believers in God. Its very rare to find someone who only believes in science or atheists. The mountains are VERY Catholic, even if people don’t practice or believe in it, they claim to be because that’s the culture here.

Family is so important and the people that matter most. Opinions from your family are taken seriously. Children have a lot of respect for their parents and elders, and take very good care of their siblings.

I’ve learned that personal space is a thing that only exists in North American… maybe Europe as well? But i wouldn’t know, I’ve never been there. People are more open here and it’s easy to approach and talk to them and from what I’ve been told are more open and easy going in the coast. You can ask them ANYTHING and they will share all with you! they’re so friendly and warm. I love how woman greet each other here, hugs and kisses cheek to cheek.

Dogs RULE the streets of Loja! They are EVERYWHERE. Every house has at least two, but most have five or seven and act like the guards of the house. Two on the roof, two in the patio, one outside the gate and one that roams in the streets. You are not Loajanan if you don’t own a dog.

Well, gotta run, it’s super busy being a missionary. But i am so excited to call the people of Ecuador my family and so grateful for this time to serve the Lord. Love you all, Ciao.

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Someday

It’s hard to believe that it’s been just over a month since I left home! Time seriously flies, I’m in the Mexico City Missionary Training Centre (CCM) until Monday night and then i’m off to Ecuador! There’s no place like the CCM. It’s so special and a living definition of “being in the world but not of the world.” It located in the middle of the city and you can hear policer sirens, cars honking and fireworks going off constantly. But in the CCM it’s a completely different atmosphere. It’s like a safe haven from the world and it’s because of the Spirit that’s here. And i’m going to miss that.

I remember when I first arrived. I felt like Mily cyrus in her ‘Party in the USA.’ And this is why: *cue the music*
I hopped of the plan at Mexico City with a dream and suitcases. Welcome to the land of tacos and desserts. AM i going to fit in? Hoped on the bus headed to the CCM, this all so crazy everyone’s a missionary!… So i put my tag on, the gyms start playing, the crazy fades away. Praying on my knees like year! Proselyting like yeah! It’s great being a missionary!”

I have moment when I think to myself, “is this real life? Am i actually here and a missionary? Am i really doing this for the next eighteen months?” Before becoming a missionary i’d think, “Someday i’ll serve a mission.” And once I got my call, I kept thinking the same thing. And then “someday” cam suddenly. It still feels surreal.

You never forgot the first time you teach at the CCM. We taught our second day. Yup, not second week… DAY. And I thought why so soon? I barely know Spanish I grew up learning French! Why couldn’t we learn a bit first THEN teach. My first lesson is a whole other story for another day. But the thing I realized is. I AM a missionary. I don’t have to wait to teach. I can do this NOW. Someday is today.

Happiness and joy is a real things. I also believe that it’s a way of life. It’s so easy to think “i’ll be happy once I”m done school….once i get this…. when this happens….” and so on. We don’t have to wait or prepare ourselves for happiness. That someday is today. God has given us agency; the ability to choose and act for ourselves. And it’s power. We have power to choose and act for ourselves. In 2 Nephi, the prophet Lehi teaches his sons about the power of agency and counsels them to choose the way of the Lord. In verse 28 it says:

“And now, my sons, I would that ye should look to the great Mediator, and hearken unto his great commandments; and be faithful unto his words, and choose eternal life, according to the will of his Holy Spirit;”

I know that God and Jesus live and that the want us to be happy. And we can through HIs gospel and Atonement all our guilt, pain, and challenges we face can be lifted through Christ. He is always there inviting us to a happier way of life, back to our Heavenly Father.

I am just so pumped and excited for Ecuador! Monday can’t come soon enough! I know I have a long way to go, and that there will be hard times and challenges ahead. But know that I will be okay because I know that my Saviour loves me and will be with me. I choose HIm. I choose to be happy. Because someday is today.

So what are you waiting for? The choice is yours. What will it be?

Cheers

xx Hermana Leah Hidalgo

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The Decision

“I’m going to serve a mission”

This was a decision that did not come easily to me.

Because serving a mission is a priesthood duty, most elders decide at a young age to serve a mission and have their whole lives to prepare for it. It’s a different story for sisters.  We don’t have that expectation on us.  It is a wonderful opportunity and a completely personal choice to serve. As sisters we may sometimes find ourselves bouncing back and forth between decisions.  Should I go to school? Should I serve a mission? Wouldn’t it be fun to travel for a year? A mission? Maybe I’ll date and meet Mr. Right…Or go on a mission…The cycle repeats (not to worry ladies, if you are experiencing this it is completely normal and you are not alone).  These are not bad things to do.  Heavenly Father has a plan for each of us and what matters is choosing the path that will bring us the most joy and shape us into who He intended us to be.  The decision is between you and God.

When others learned the news of me going on a mission, it came as a shock and surprise.  What?!?! I had no idea you were preparing! I didn’t know you wanted to go on a mission! Whoa where did this come from all of a sudden?! Just a few of the responses I received. There’s a bit of history behind my decision and I thought I’d share it.  So here is my story…

 

I always had a love and sense of responsibility when it came to missionary work.  I just never realized it until I was a teenager.  

In primary when the lesson was about serving a mission, it was usuallymore directed to the boys than girls.  And I wondered what the girls got to do while the boys were out serving.  All I remember being told was that girls didn’t need to serve but they can if they want.  I never thought twice about the matter so that was the end of that.

Fast forward to circuit 2006 to when I was fourteen and my oldest sister went on a mission (Denver Colorado North Mission).  She shared a quote in her farewell talk that spoke right to me and the Spirit was so strong.  Deep down inside I really wanted to go on a mission.  But it was not a priority so I never thought much of it and I didn’t say anything to my parents.  I remember wanting to go so bad that I said I planned on going on a mission and shared my testimony about missionary work in a testimony meeting at Youth Leadership Conference (a confession soon forgotten and never to be brought up again until this year).  It  just all felt like this grand and untainable dream.

My love for missionary work grew when I brought my best friend in grade school to church activities. I felt so much happiness seeing my friend being touched and inspired by the Spirit.  The gospel brings me so much joy and I loved sharing that happiness with her.  The desire to serve a mission was officially planted in my mind.

That was shoved under the rug once I turned eighteen and started going to YSA.  I have the best family and friends anyone could ask for, I loved going out with people and having a good time just enjoying myself, got a solid career doing what I love and I have a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and love Him and Heavenly Father.  Summing up my life in two words: Great and blessed.  I didn’t feel the need to leave what I had here.

But over time, the desire I had to serve would always come back to me. All it would take is someone asking me if I thought of serving a mission, or prospective missionaries sharing their call and testimony, or going out teaching with the missionaries to spark that feeling. I wasn’t sure if it was just a feeling or Heavenly Father trying to tell me I needed to go on a mission. I let myself wonder about it for a long time, until I got to a certain point in my life where I felt like something was missing. I was doing all these things in my life and felt like it wasn’t enough. I really wanted to know what it was that Heavenly Father had in mind for me. And I was willing to to do whatever it was to He wanted. I prayed to Heavenly Father to help me know what I needed to do in order to move forward and in the right direction. And He did. I felt and knew that I needed to go on a mission. At the same time I didn’t like the answer I received. I was so absorbed in my own life and couldn’t let go what I had here. And again for awhile I fought it. Heavenly Father kept giving me answers and VERY CLEAR signs that I needed to go.

Then one day we had the missionaries over for dinner and one of the elders said something, I can’t remember exactly, but I remember how I felt. I felt myself letting go of my pride and accepting what Heavenly Father has planned for me; serving a full time mission. I felt so much peace, joy, happiness, and a burden lifted after I decided that I was going to go.

And the rest is history…and very fast paced. I had all I needed for my papers in less than a month and given five weeks to prepare for my report date. The Lord’s work is truly hastening and He needs us now more than ever.

So where do you go from here? If serving a mission comes to your mind often, you have a desire for service and missionary work, or if you get a little excited whenever someone asks you about serving a mission or just the topic in general…you may want to consider more the decision to serve. Really pray about it and talk to your bishop and parents about it.  Read your patriarchal blessing and prayerfully read the scriptures. You will be guided to know what Heavenly Father has planned for you. And whatever it may be I know that it will bring you happiness and peace.