Monday, March 24, 2014

Ya Pues


Dear Family and Friends!
Times and Seasons of Montero

1.  There are currently  30 misioneros in my zone, the most in our whole mission, because of the flooding in Trinidad. So that means my companion and I and 28 elders ha
2.       A lizard, one of the many in our apartment, laid eggs on my pillow. So that was nice.
3.       My companion ate sketch chicken and got salmonella. That’s why I don’t eat sketch chicken.
4.       My best friend, an anorexic flea invaded kitten that is so fugly its cute, died. Of parasitos.
5.       I was literally teaching about el espiritu santo when suddenly someone blasted beyonce and I hadn’t heard her angel voice for months and I literally forgot all my Spanish and stopped the lesson for a good 5 seconds. And that people is the power of beyonce and el Diablo, making me a pecadora during our lesson.
Besides those essencial pieces of news, actually things here are somewhat difficult. Unfortunately my companion doesn’t really like to work. And if anyone knows anything about a mission its that we work. All. The. Time. And especially right now we are just knocking doors because celine was baptized and our other investigadors have been falling through left and right. But I am really trying, and I am leading our companionship, and I am trying to maintain positivity and faith. We found one girl Gabriela, whose abuela recently died, and she has been having the same dream about her grandma over and over and had a ton of questions. So we have been teaching about the plan of salvation, where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going. I am hoping to bring her to conference!!

Thanks everyone for your birthday wishes ! I love you all.
Hermana bingham 

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Quick Update


family and friends,

i dont have much time, but i want to let you know that i am in montero for my third cambio again haha. i am with a new companion from peru, h. padilla. i am feeling good in my area because i know it so well now, and my spanish has progressed enough that i understand almost everything people say, and although my speaking is still super ugly, i can at least communicate independently, even if i needed to be a trainer or something. the transition of companions has been a little bit difficult because h. huenchur de chile was such a good match for me and we worked hard and had so much energy. my new companion is much slower and harder to get to work. i am still junior companion but so far i have had to take the lead in most things so i feel like senior haha. we are searching for people to teach right now which is a little discouraging. we had the familia gomez but their marriage papers are still complicated and we taught them basically everything. barbara my favorite investigator who had accepted a baptism date completely dropped us without a word and when we visited her house her brother came out and said she wouldnt see us. i know it is because her mom is super catholic and really against us :( but it is okay i am going to seguir adelante con fe en cristo! sorry this is so short and boring but my computer is literally going to turn off in like 30 seconds. love you all!

hermana bingham

Love You All!

Dear Family and Friends,
This week has been a little long because we haven´t been able to find a lot of new investigadores, however it has still been great to teach those we do have. We are teaching a family now who will be baptized as soon as the parents can get their wedding papers figured out. This family is such an example to me. They are so poor that the parents sleep on the floor, and their 3 children share one bed. When the mom tried to do her paper work for her marriage, she first could not afford it (less than $10) and also she has no identification because she was an orphan growing up. she tried and tried and her and her daughter had to sleep in the street early one morning after she was trying to figure things out. I am so grateful for demonstrations of faith like this to bless my own testimony. It is truly incredible.
Also, mostly for my parents, I wont be able to access the internet at all for the next two weeks, because for Carnival we have to stay in our house for 4 days, we can´t even leave for Church haha. because there will be crazy people in the streets drinking and throwing stuff. so next monday, no letter, but the monday after, yes. Also, if you have read anything about flooding in Bolivia, my area is fine. there was some craziness for the elders in Trinidad, but besides that we are doing great.
Okay, this letter is going to be a very "Cassie" letter so bear with me. I thought i would write about some of my insights because of my mission, how my testimony is developing, and why my sincere desire to share is continually stronger.
First of all (now its going to get abstract and Cassie-ish) sometimes it is difficult to keep in mind the immensity of what i am trying to do right now. and it is interesting the ways in which i can be reminded. For example, sometimes i am just walking in the filthy street, tired, hot, and maybe not really thinking. And suddenly i look up and notice above the constant noise of motorbikes and honking and above the crumbling buildings, the clouds - with lights and colors on them from the sun setting somewhere i cant see, and the beauty and peace is such a contrast and i am caught up in wonder for a minute. because i remember that i am not just living in a fake town in a little pop-up book or something, but i am on Earth, the same Earth with the US and Africa and Europe, and countless people going about their days, my mom maybe on a run, my dad maybe at work, and i am here walking the same 20 dirty streets each day in Montero. But every single one of us no matter how we are filling our days are of the same value and importance, and i am here because i love love love the people where ever they are in this incredibly varied earth. And I know that my message is and will be important for them whether they can accept that now or will inevitably accept it in the future because it is unchangeable truth. and all of this is in that feeling i get when i finally just look up, am startled by the clouds that remind me of the magnificance of a world where any one else can look up and see the exact same view as me, and then we eventually put out heads back down and everything about us goes back to being different. I guess my goal here is to help myself in order to help others to look up more often, up towards our Creator and remember why we are all so similar and why our goals can be the same.
It is incredible that we are so different, but so so the same. our differences are infinite, an infinite combination of spiritual elements, physical elements, environmental elements. But it is because of these differences that we all need the same thing in order to make just the inequity of life on earth with all its variances - an infinite atonement. I love reading about the laws of existence in 2 Nefi 2, about the necessity for opposition because this allows for reality (this can be understood as simply as cold does not exist without hot and vice versa) and that since reality is conditional upon opposition, reality also requires eternal laws in order to create order (because the opposite of order is chaos, chaos is devoid of meaning, and the simplest of our human emotions can convince us that our existence is full of meaning). So when you accept the reality of laws of justice, and the obvious fact that because of the conditions we live in here on earth with infinite variances and influences for good and bad, it is quite simple to accept the reality of a necessity of some sort of saving act, to satisfy law and make infinite injustices just in the end.
And of course this act is the Infinite Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ. We know from Alma that the Atonement not only covers sins, but pain, sickness, temptations, afflictions - all forms of inequality, injustice, sadness. When i think of my major times of pain as well as my daily stupid frustrations, my large errors as well as my daily faults, it seems an Atonement for me alone would need to be infinite. But then to multiply myself by billions, or maybe by an infinite number depending on if the Atonement is an infinite act for numberless worlds.
Sometimes the perfection and infinity of Christ is so overwhelming to think about, that he becomes abstract, instead of a living, breathing fellow Son of God. For me sometimes it becomes so abstract that it is hard to remember the Atonement as an act of perfect love in action, instead of just a word we use. But One day recently I thought about if i would be willing to atone. And its not the same question as "would you die for a friend?" because of course i would do this in a heart beat. But to atone - even for one person - taking on every conceivable horror mental physical spiritual. No i would not be willing. But then even more, I think we often dont think about the prerequisite to atone - utter perfection. We think of perfection as in Christ is Perfect, but do we really think about what perfection is? We believe in a Gospel of process and progression. In order to become perfect one must go through a process of Consecration. This signifies that one must completely give over his will to God in perfect love for God and for others. Christ´s whole essence is energy exerted outward, he wants only for others, He can "do nothing of himself" only the will of the father. He is living and breathing self-denial and submissiveness and this is his exaltation. when i think of the word exaltation or glorification in heaven its like being a royal or something, with everything I want and resting from care. But really the exaltation and glory of Christ is complying with his Father´s will, and His will is always whatever it takes to benefit his children. So if i ask myself the question again - would i be willing to atone? (and if i am really being honest with myself) no. but more than that am i even willing to do what it takes to become qualified to atone. and my answer is a big resounding no. I want to be willing in the spirit of my testimony of God, but my body mind and natural essence fights my willingness to give over my whole and complete will to God every day. every day this is a struggle. because it takes the greatest of faith to honestly and truthfully trust that if we are completely swallowed up in the will of the father - which requires self denial, the opposite of our nature as natural men - that if we completely lose ourself we will in reality find ourself and find perfect love. Right now i am still working on the faith and courage to do this in the smallest parts of my life.
This thought process allows me to see a tiny glimpse of the pure powerful perfect love behind the Atonement, and that defines Jesus Christ.
The talk that made me cross the point of no return in my decision to go on a mission is one that my dear friend Paige sent me while she was on her mission. Swallowed Up in the Will of the Father by Neil A Maxwell. Everyone should read it because it is so beautiful, and has helped me understand with much more clarity what it means to keep my covenants as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ.
I have more to say, but i am out of time, so until next time. I love you all and have a testimony of my Saviour Jesus Christ.
Love, Hermana Bingham

que bonito su cabello


So this week i want to say one thing about my hair. i hated it when i was little and stuff and everyone told me not to. and now i love it because i love being different. and now i love it even more because people in bolivia and africa love it and i love them. and one girl Beatriz REALLY loves it as in is OBSESSED. she is only 12 and we were trying to teach her with her older sister and she could not stop saying Que Bonito Su Cabello. like literally she said it 10 times in 10 minutes. i would read a scripture and ask que entiende de este verciculo sobre la expiacion de jesucristo. and her answer is, que bonita su cabello. so my companion and i couldnt stop laughing after because every time we kept trying to be all spiritual she would just bring up my hair again hahaha.
Also, heres a special shoutout of please forgive me to all those (especially Nichole Boyd) who heard me make fun of returned missionaries who "couldnt speak english normally." well i cant speak spanish or english now. so i guess its my punishment for being a brat. my companion wanted me to pray in english yesterday so she could hear and i hadnt said an english prayer outloud for months and i literally had to pray like a five year old because half the words i could only think of in spanish. so its true people. those boys in sacrament arent faking that they forgot words in english in order to impress people. its real. 

with all that super important stuff out of the way about ME we´ll get to the OTHER stuff about the people God is trying to help through me, his super humble servant. This week i am just going to tell about Genesis and Barbara because i love them. Genesis is 18, she attended the church in a different town with her boyfriend a few months back, and after moving to montero to study and live with her abuela she searched for a mormon chapel and found us. so we have been teaching her, and she had some initial doubts but than the spirit helped her out. and now she wants to be baptized, but her super evangelical abuela - who tried to teach us about how her pastor knows that mormons are full of apostasy - doesnt want her to. But Genesis keeps on coming to church even when she has to sneak out. Then there is Barbara, the coolest girl ive met here, whose mom is super catholic and says the church will brain wash her. Barbara also sneaks out of the house to see us, even thougfshe isssmony from the first time she was taught the lessons 6 months ago, but in that time she just couldnt break it to her mom that she wanted to be baptized. but i think the time is right now, because we miraculously found her in her house without her mom one day and have restarted all the lessons. she has accepted a baptism date. on sunday she really wanted to come but her mom wouldnt budge. we texted her to pray and have faith, and eventually her mom agreed it was her decision. This is my third investigator like this, because Emilene also had the same problem, but was baptized a month ago and actually to this day none of family knows except her little sister who accidently found the baptismal card we made for her haha. but she promised to keep the secret. both barbara and emilene are 21, but people have to listen to their moms here.

Anyway, it is just so inspiring to see what people can be motivated to do when they feel the spirit testify of truth. it would be much easier for these girls to just forget about the church and not risk their relationships with their moms and grandmas. but instead, they are doing everything they can to make their baptisms possible and participate in the church. their spirits are just so strong, and they are examples to me. sometimes harsh examples because i think of the times when i took the gospel for granted and did practically nothing, when it was so easy for me! it was faithfully taught to me and exhibited to me from birth. But we all have different journeys and i am so grateful for the privilege to know and learn from these girls. 

My favorite scriptures of the week are Mosiah chapters 4 and 5. all of king benjamins words are so inspiring, and i think his emphasis on service is so extremely cool because it is God and the gospel wrapped up in simple words. God is love, and to know God is to love. 1 John 4:7-9 says it all, and than in verse 18, 19, with love there cannot be fear. because when we love we know God, and when we know God there is no earthly thing that could cause us to fear because He is our Rock. The Gospel is Service and "under this head we are made free" when we "render to him all that we have and are." So many people in this world are trying to find the pathway to liberation and "nirvana". If only they realized, like the scriptures teach us, that "world peace" and the "utopian society" could be possible if we turned outward and fulfilled each other in selfless service and genuine love - the doctrine of christ. this is the convenant people make when they are baptized, mosiah 18:8,9, and this is why i can bear testimony to all that baptism is the correct and only path. 

Love, Hermana Bingham

Chicken Hearts


Dear Family and Friends,
here are the Times and Seasons of Montero (or all the weird things that I have seen or done):
-We were literally chased by a flock of crazy huge ducks, that are a special vicious species. Like several people have told me they are known to kill dogs. But literally I was running down the street.
-I finally saw my first chulupaca. Luckily it was dead but still terrifying. It is a huge insect that walks the streets at night that I didn’t believe in at first but now I do. Its literally as big as my whole hand with fingers extended. So basically more like an animal than insect.
-I ate a chicken heart. It was in my soup and when I picked up my spoon there was a heart in it. Like those diagrams in anatomy. And I wasn’t going to eat it until my pensionista pulled the old rich American card and said well we eat everything because we´re poor. So then I just stuck it in my mouth and wanted to cry.
-literally this is the truth. I thought it was rumor. Shakira is a baptized mormon and her family. But all inactive. I know because one of the elders in my district is from Colombia and he said her whole family is in their records listed as inactive haha. Shakira shakira.
Wow, in the last couple of weeks there have been some big changes for me here. First of all, I had been praying before cambios that I might receive another companion. I love my first companion, but there were many things in her form of teaching and working that just really were not good for our area. At an activity I met another hermana from Chile, hermana huenchur. This was a week and a half before cambios, and after the activity she just kept coming to my mind repeatedly that she could be my next companion. When cambios happened, it came as almost no surprise when I found out that hermana huenchur was being transferred to be my new trainer. Both my old companion and hermana huenchur were very surprised by the cambio, and at first really upset. And in my mind I was just thanking God for answering my prayer haha. After hermana huenchur arrived in Montero it took almost no time at all for her to see the cambio was inspired. She has 17 months in her mission, so this is her last area and I am her last companion. I feel so privileged because in only a week and half she has revolutionized my outlook on our mission because of her experience, positivity, and love. She has a very large scope of what missionary work is. It is very difficult for a lot of missionaries to see people and not just numbers, in their wards and with non members. Hermana huenchur is all about focusing on people and being sure that the spirit is in our lessons, and that we are not just teaching to check something off. Already I have seen a change in some of the less active people my last companion had had no hope for, because our approach with them now is love and service first, than teaching the lessons with the spirit second. It has really been such a huge blessing in my life. More and more I feel why this work is so important.
This week Jexael was baptized. He was basically converted by two other elders in our zone, and than after he moved into our area we taught him the last lessons and prepared him for baptism. He is so great and strong and already is working with us as a ward missionary haha. We also found a girl this week, and it was a miracle she was in her house, who I LOVE. She has the coolest spirit, and she was taught the lessons before, and even attended church a few times, but, like many others, her mom is completely against mormons and so she was never baptized. She is 21 years old, and accepted a baptism date from us already, but it will be difficult to work around her mom. I am going to ask Emilene, one of the girls baptized a couple weeks ago, to accompany us to the next lesson , because Emilene was baptized in secret too. Nobody in her family knows because her mom is SUPER catholic and really hates mormons. So hopefully they can bond and Emilene can share her strength and testimony.
Also we had a zone conference with our mission president. It was the first time I got to actually hear him speak besides my tiny little interview in the beginning. And I LOVE HIM. His spirit is so extremely bright and he is so sincerely loving. I was feeling the spirit pretty much constantly the whole time he talked and bore his testimony about the prophet joseph smith. I just feel so privileged to be in this mission with this president. His wife is amazing too and is always worrying everyone is going to get dengue from the mosquitos.
Anyway, I love you all! My Spanish is still the worst, but i am becoming more and more comfortable with my life here and I love trying every day to be better and hone my self so that I can serve more effectively.
Love Hermana Bingham

The Hope That Is In You


On Saturday i got to be a part of two special baptisms! Hermana Emilene and Hermana Fabiola. My companion and her last companion initiated teaching them, but i got to help in a good number of lessons with both these girls. they are both about my age and i love them. it has been such a great experience to watch them learn about the gospel and both express the desire to be baptized and be a part of the ward. i have pictures! but so far this computer is rejecting my camera. so if not today hopefully next week.
My spanish is improving, and i am really able to teach a lot more of the lessons now and i understand un poquito mas cada dia. it is so random when you are just going about the day and all of a sudden realize how much you have progressed and that all though most of the time it doesnt seem like it, you are actually learning a language haha. 
We also have a new investigador hermano renal. i just really love him because he was like un investigador perfecto. he immediately was asking whats the point of life, where do we go after we die, why are there so many churches that all claim to be true but interpret the scriptures differently. i am practically begging that he doesnt drop us because im like WE CAN TELL YOU EVERYTHING haha. 
On a side note, our apt has two new pets that i ushered into the door from outside, lizards. i named one Timoteo. because i want them to eat the baby cockroaches. because horror of all horrors one of the giant cockroaches that sometimes walk around our sink in the kitchen decided to migrate onto our TOILET this week. i almost died. i have a pic of one of these monsters too, so someday you will be graced with this sight. 
also, all the latino elders love me because i play futbol with them when most of the other sisters refuse. and actually i am still really good! or maybe it seems that way because a lot of the latino elders are a little chubby so i can just run faster than them haha. 
Anyway, here is my fave scrip of the week 1 Peter 3:15  "Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear" (fear being translated here from the greek "reverance and awe")
i am so so incredibly grateful for the hope the Gospel and knowing my purpose brings. i pray that i can help others see the light and hope and their endless potential as well. 
love, hermana bingham



Times and Seasons:

-I ate higador unknowingly this week. liver. no wonder it was spongey and weird and i wasnt really enjoying it more than usual haha. 
-one family we visit has this gross mangly captive deer for some reason? named bambi haha. its the only deer i have seen here. also a random monkey lives behind the compound of one of our investigators. 
-i saw another naked man in the street. i never new my mission is where i would see the most nudity of my life. 
-for any youngins who read this here weekly letter, kristen wiig is seriously on pg 108 of the november conference ensign. who converted her???
-A gross man tried to force a greeting kiss on me after shaking my hand in the street, but i used the stiff arm i learned in the CCM and it was hilarious
-This dog that lives in our compound looks exactly like that giant flying dog from my childhood fave movie never ending story. purplish eyes and everything
-spanish is so. hard. 

I love you all. my testimony is growing daily here. i feel it in so many things. whenever i am around children because they resonate with godlike innocence. whenever i ponder on the human capacity for emotion and spirituality, and on human potential. whenever i read things like 2 nephi 2 or 9 about the plan and purpose for our lives, and how the power of the atonement transforms people to do things outside and bigger than themselves and live lives full of purpose and joy and human connectedness. When i think about how the world needs a Savior, because without him, the human depravity in the world now would be a tragedy too large to comprehend. 
I love my heavenly father and savior. our Redeemer lives. 

Hermana Bingham

One Month in the Feild


Dear family and friends,

Times and Seasons of Estacion, Montero, Bolivia:
1.       My bed and fan broke. I went one night without my fan and didn’t sleep and my companion wouldn’t open the window because of the bats, and she had a perfectly working fan literally facing the wall in the corner of the room (I don’t even know why it is turned on), because, again she reminded me, we will be diseased if we sleep with fans on us. Luckily my north American zone leader fixed things after I told him at almuerzo that I had to have it haha.
2.       I got bit by another loco perro, luckily it didn’t break skin so no need for the rabies shot. Also I touched an anorexic kitten in one of the member´s compounds and got flea bites all over my arm.
3.       My companion sincerely thinks the whole church needs to repent because we have statues around the salt lake temple of prophets and saints and such and they are “graven images” and I tried to explain to her how it is okay, but she could not be consoled haha
4.       I hate machismo, and so does my companion and she talks about it often since it is so prevalent here. And she is completely afraid of marriage because her own dad isn’t present in her life, and she knows about tons of infidelity, even in the church, including a recent stake president and some bishops in our area. So sad. This is why I don’t care at all when people think I am nitpicky for not having any allowance for sexist jokes.
5.       If you want an idea of the inactivity level in our ward (which I think hovers around 50%), let me just tell you that this week we had to give a lesson to the ward missionary leader, who is inactive, and trying to teach him to read the book of Mormon and pray about it.
Anyway this week has been hard, some people we hoped might want to continue in lessons didn’t and we knocked a lot of gates and people didn’t want to listen then either. And even when they do it is still very difficult with my companion´s way of teaching because we just share one or two scriptures from the bible and no one really cares because they are all catholic anyway. I try to offer suggestions about how we might mix things up, but my companion is bolivian and knows the language, and has been out for 9 months and is super set in her ways. So for now im just trying to learn patience and do the best with what I can. I just want to talk about restored truth and the book of Mormon in case one person out there is interested in a new message, but that´s not how we do it for now.
However, we did get 2 people passed onto us from other missionaries who basically just needed baptism dates, which we extended. We also got an 18 year old boy referred by his brother in law who is an active member, and he is such a great kid to teach because his brother in law has already taught him a lot, so the lessons have been a piece of cake and he actually keeps his commitments and reads and prays, so he already accepted a baptism date. Then we have 2 girls, Fabiola, the sister of a recent convert, who I helped teach about half the lessons to. She has a date, but we keep having to console her, like for example apparently she was visited by a ghost child, so she was scared of her baptism. Cultural idiosyncrasies like this really throw me when you add in the language barrier too haha. And then emilene who has a rich member boyfriend and has a baptism date, however her super catholic mom hates us.
My Spanish speaking and comprehension is undoubtedly a little better. I am just learning patience because it is such a slow process, and It is so taxing to wake up all throughout the night because of the heat and anxiety, and then try all the next day to concentrate doubly hard on what people are saying and still only get a general idea. But I am praying things will continue to improve, and trying to put my trust in the Lord as always! I love your letters, sometimes it is a struggle here to feel spiritually connected if that makes sense, even though I am literally on a mission for the lord, because of the language barrier making me feel really lonely and the heat and the ward being super inactive and lax, so I always feel the spirit when I read your letters that remind me of the love the gospel brings into people´s lives.

Love, Hermana Bingham