Wednesday, January 27, 2016

She Made It!

Dear Family of Sister Hess,
We are pleased to inform that your daughter has arrived safe and sound and smiling to the Chile Osorno Mission.  It was a pleasure for us to greet your daughter upon her arrival and feel her desire to serve.  Enclosed is a picture that we took with her shortly after her arrival.  After a short period of orientation regarding mission procedures, customs of the country, etc., we assigned Sister Hess to work in the city of Futrono with Sister Braithwaite as her companion.  Your daughter's address during her time in the mission will be:
                                                Sister Karissa Hess
                                      Casilla 7-0
                                      Osorno, Chile
Sister Obeso and I love our missionaries and are truly happy to have the opportunity to work with Sister Hess.  We appreciate your willingness to share her with us as she works as a missionary and ambassador for the Lord in Chile.  Sharing the gospel with these deserving children of our Father in Heaven will certainly bring great joy and satisfaction to her, and to you as well.  Thank you so much for helping her get to this point.
Please write her regularly–at least once a week.  Your love, interest, and support will be of great help to her.  Should there be any emergency or if you desire information regarding any urgent situation, please feel free to contact the Missionary Department in Salt Lake City rather than go to the expense of phoning the mission here in Chile. 
The missionary work is progressing rapidly here in southern Chile, and I hope that you will share in her exciting mission experience as Sister Hess writes to you weekly and keeps you informed of her challenges and achievements and experiences.
President Rodrigo Obeso
Chile Osorno Mission


Friday, January 22, 2016

Para Siempre Dios Este Con Vos (God Be with You Till We Meet Again)

The CCM has been under attack for about two weeks now... don’t worry, I am fine and I’ll be okay. This is what’s going on: there are some disobedient missionaries here and at night when we are asleep, the Chubracabra comes and carries them away. Not too scary, right? Just be obedient and you’ll be safe... HOWEVER we found out that the Chubracabra has a sweet tooth... our district leader has been really tired the past week and when we asked him why, he related to us the horrifying tale... in his own words...

"It was a normal night. I was eating my cookies and at 10:30 I went to bed. Then at 2 a.m., I heard a noise out my window. All of a sudden, the Chubracabra crashed into my room and went straight for my cookies!!! I jumped out of bed and thus commenced the two-hour fight for my cookies.

“Finally I was able to shove him out the window and lock it. I thought that would be it, but every night he has returned for vengeance...and my cookies!! That’s why I’m always tired."

So the moral of the story, Joey, be careful and don’t leave candy in your room!! Especially Halloween candy. That’s his favorite! The Chubracabra will come and try to eat it!!

I leave in 4 days!! So crazy! We got our flight plan and water filter two days ago. I leave Monday afternoon at 3:30 from Mexico and arrive in Santiago at 6:45 Tuesday morning. Then I go from Santiago to Puerto Montt from 10:35 to 12:20.

I can’t bring weapons on the plane so I guess I’ll have to leave my nunchucks behind, as well as the lucky machete I got from an orphan boy (it was his Mom’s lucky machete). 

Yesterday there was a worldwide missionary broadcast, first ever in about a decade. Elder Anderson spoke. There were awesome speakers. I love being a missionary!

This week I have grown a lot in Spanish as well as my testimony about faith. I am able to speak more and more and some of the grammar rules that have been hard for me to understand, I am starting to understand (like dang por v para, direct and indirect object pronouns).  

My Spanish is coming along great! The Gift of Tongues is so real! I had an amazing experience with it last night. The Spirit does bring all things to your remembrance, but you have to learn them first for it to work!

We were talking with a woman named Mercedes and she spoke soooooo fast. I was trying to understand her and this thought came into my mind, “You’ll only understand if you love her and want to help her.” I prayed for help in understanding and began to really try to understand what she was saying so I could help her. Then I could understand all the words she said that I knew or had learned. Even though she was speaking extremely fast, I could understand perfectly what she was saying. The words I didn’t know, I obviously couldn’t understand, but I was able to listen and love her and I felt real concern and pain for her when she told us that her kids left the church. I was also able to conjugate correctly and convey all the desires I wanted for her. Sooooooo cool!

Faith is such an interesting concept if you really think about it. It is so powerful. You should read the bible dictionary definition on faith it is amazing.

This past Sunday, we watched an old Christmas MTC devo from 2011 by Elder Bednar. It is probably one of the best talks I have ever heard, we are so lucky to know English. We are so blessed that every conference, devo, you name it, we get to listen right from the mouths of the prophets. Here, whenever we listen to an English address, the Latinos have to wear headsets that translates the words. They never have been able to hear the prophet’s real voice. On top of that, if you know English, you can get a job that pays almost $30,000 more a year here in Mexico than if you don’t know English. We are sooo blessed, and we take it for granted. 

Also another great talk to listen to! 10 things to know on the mission by Richard G. Scott. Mom can you email it to me so I can hopefully print it off? Gracias! (I haven't been able to find Elder Scott's talk, but here's a great article to read)

Funny thing this week...

So dinner was either burritos or tacos. I took a taco and Elder Tidwell took a burrito. We were all shocked to see what was in the burrito... a couple days before, our teachers told us of a popular street burrito they sell in Mexico is burrito de perros (DOG BURRITOS). Luckily, no perros in this dinner burrito, but there was something we weren’t expecting. Elder Tidwell bit into the burrito and it was full of.........

…..mashed potatoes!! That’s all that was in it! A corn tortilla and mashed potatoes. Elder Tidwell is from Idaho and being the potato expert he is, he decided it was unfit for consumption. (And yes Joey, he has a potato brother whose name is Tate, but they call him Spuddy.)

 I don’t know if I’ll be able to write next week since I would have just missed the Prep day by two days... I’ll probably get to call or email an “I’m still alive” email though. 

 I love you all so much! Thank you for your prayers and pictures. Send me more!! (Friends included!!) I want to see your faces!

 Pinky´s up. Thanks for the chips and salsa! It was a hit

Saw this beautiful man on our run around the CCM

Touching the wall....

The home of the Chubracabra

les amo!!!! 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Another Letter to my Brothers

Kyle, Jake and Joey,

I mailed you guys a letter because there was more I wanted to tell you about but ran out of time. Then I realized that you probably won't get it until next month so I'll just type it out to you:

The world is a scary place. I am only telling you this because my "investigator" is my maestra  (teacher) pretending to be a non-Mormon. We teach her as if she was a real person dealing with these problems:

One of my investigators, we found out, is in a very similar situation to Fantine in Les Miserables. My companion and I are expected to know what she needs to hear and what gospel doctrines we can teach her to help her out. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO KNOW HOW TO RECEIVE REVELATION FOR SOMEONE ELSE WHEN YOU ARE A MISSIONARY IF YOU DONT KNOW HOW TO RECEIVE REVELATION FOR YOUSELF. Read Preach My Gospel Section 4. 

It breaks my heart to hear her feelings of hate for herself and feelings of unworthiness. She feels much like Alma the Younger in the Book of Mormon. We are so blessed to have this gospel to guide us. I think that's why I've felt so stressed these past couple of weeks. I want to help and share scriptures, I just don't have all the words or familiarity with reading Spanish in the scriptures to find them fast enough...

Sin embargo (however), the Lord will not leave you comfortless. 

I went to the temple last week with a prayer for comfort. It wasn't until later that night that I felt Heavenly Father's arms wrap around me and pull me up. Be patient with the Lord. He knows how much you can handle. I heard no voice, I felt no overwhelming Spirit, I just felt like I could hold my head a little higher because Soy misionera por la iglesia de Jesuchristo de los últimos días (I am a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). Dios es mi luz (God is my light). El es mi Eterno Padre (He is my Eternal Father). Me conoce y quiere me ayuda (He will love and help me). I can go another day. Go will not leave us. He is constantly there on our right and left bearing us up and catching us when we fall.

Yes, we are given the gift of the Holy Ghost when we are baptized BUT in every prayer (and you should be praying more than 3 times a day) ask and beg the Lord to bless you with His Espíritu Santo (Holy Spirit). You will be more cognizant of your actions and will want to be better. 

Also I would LOVE it if every Sunday (or whenever), you would email me with 5 or 6 pictures of what you did that week and a little description of it!

I want to see your faces!!

I love you so much and am honored to be your sister.

Brightly Beams our Father's Mercy

Another week come and gone! crazy! First off, before I forget, Grandma and Grandpa G and Brian and Liz! Do you know the Dubard family in your ward? Well, their son is in my zone here in Mexico! Small world...

Not much out of the ordinary has happened... but in 2 days it will be exciting!! Jan 16 is going to be crazy! First off, it's Russell´s birthday! Second it marks my month mark and third, it begins the 10 DAY COUNT DOWN TO CHILE!

Language is coming along slowly but surely. Hma Hoskins and I have had a few teaching opportunities and that´s been fun. We got to teach a lesson about Alma 5 and Mosiah 2 IN ENGLISH which was awesome because it relit the desire to go and teach people about this wonderful gospel. I'm so pumped!

We had a devo about Lot´s wife and one quote that I really liked from it was "Her attachment to the past outweighed her confidence in the future." Think about that. Ponder it, and ask yourself what are some fears you have about the future? What are your plans to overcome those fears or deal with them? Once that is established, tell our Father in Heaven. Pour out your soul to Him in prayer. I promise that if you do, you will have more confidence for the future and be able to let go, deal with, or minimize those fears.

We watched a live devo from Provo MTC of Elder Anderson and guess who I saw in the choir!! the beautiful HERMANA ZOE LAINER!! (my old roommate). Totally made my night. 

I had a cool experience with music and the gift of tongues. So there are some songs that aren't in the Spanish hymn book that are in the english, one being If you could hie to Kolob (hymn #284). That is one of my teacher's favorite hymn but she doesn't have the music to it. Someone had an english hymn book... so I spent most of my morning today at the piano composing and translating my version of If you could hie to Kolob. I'm going to play it for her tomorrow and have Hma Hoskins video it. 

Mom-  President Call says thank you! (I wrote him a thank you email for letting Karissa call on New Year's)

In response to your email last week about 1 Ne 1:20 and God only delivering the chosen people from their afflictions and what if we are not chosen... I've been studying that scripture too. I received some answers but have only time to share one: with it in regards to the Lord picking one person over another to deliver and strengthen them, please read and study D&C 121:34-36. "Many (and I believe all) are called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen...?"

It's because they, you, me, us, everyone, we all have the opportunity and responsibility to answer the call. He is always there, knocking, waiting, hoping, praying that we will put away our gosh darn pride, choose to be chosen and allow Him to come in and help strengthen and deliver us from our afflictions.

Before this life we were all foreordained to be something great. Because of our faith in Christ we were chosen to come to this earth and I testify to you that He has made me mighty even to the power of deliverance from feelings of inadequecies to deliverance from fear.

Some of us are asked to give up more in this life than others. I'm not sure if we all knew exactly what our mortal life would entail and what trials we would have to face, but Heavenly Father knew He could trust us enough to allow us to go through that said trial.

He knew our family had the faith to go through the death of Russell. He trusted us to ask "Who's on the Lord's side?" He trusted us enough to know that we would would hold fast to the truth. I hope this puts some light on the subject. It's not doctrine and it needs improvement. This is just what I was thinking about and tried to type out fast enough! hope it helps.

On a less awesome note... my stomach and digestive system still haven't figured out how to properly digest the Mexican cafeteria food... :)

Oh! And it rained yesterday! I was so happy. It smelled fresh and I welcomed the cold wind.

Mom, you wanted me to write you a word picture, well here it goes...

This morning the clouds were a scary dark grey contrasted against a vibrant blue sky. However, now the sky is an ocean blue and it looks like you can see onto eternity. The sun amplifies the white clouds and a gentle yet knowing wind pushes the cloud in a NW direction. When the clouds disperse, allowing the sunlight to reach the ground, the deep green palm tree leaves seem to eat up the light, leaving them with a soft, warm glow. Behind them, pink, orange, blue, lime green and purple houses give a nice contrast to the solid earthy browns and greens that are weaved into trees. The lime green parrots that live in the trees squwak ever so loudly, also enjoying the suns warm's rays. However, in the distance, looming quietly towards us, grey and black clouds splash against the pockets of baby blue. 

Still haven't gotten any letters... did you mail them though the missionary mail thing? The lady at the office said (of what I could understand), if the mail comes after I leave, she will give my mail to another missionary going do to Osorno. So far haven't met any others going to Osorno... so we'll see what happens!

I love you and and thank you for you prayers and emails. You have no idea how much you are blessing and strengthening me.

te amo

Saturday, January 9, 2016

After the Trial of Your Faith

Kyle, Jake, Russell and Joey (and whoever else may be reading this):

I am going to be honest with you guys, because you are my best friends and my brothers and I don't want you to feel as I have during my CCM (MTC in Spanish) experience. This is the hardest thing that I have done. Not physically, but mentally and spiritually. Let me explain to you what it is like here on a physical level:

We wake up at 6:30 and get ready, eat breakfast, then personal study of an hour, then progressing investigator, where were get to teach our investigator for 20 to 40 minutes all in Spanish from one of the Preach My Gospel lessons or what we feel inspired to teach. We ask questions, we respond as best as we understood and try to listen to the spirit to know what and how we can help.

Afterwards it is Spanish class for 3 hours where we sit and practice and learn. However all the explaining and teaching from our teachers is done in Spanish. No English. If you don't understand something, you can ask and hopefully they will understand your question enough to explain it and hopefully you understand Spanish enough to comprehend what they are saying. If not, you have a huge text book that has all the Spanish rules and you can look in there and try to make sense of what it going on.

Then there is lunch, more language study, 1 hour for gym, planning for the next day, teaching again, dinner, Spanish until 9:00, then time to write in your journal and get ready for bed at 10:30.

You are also supposed to find time to memorize 30 scriptures in Spanish, 400 core words and phrases, the Preach My Gospel discussion points in Spanish, what you are going to teach your investigators and mark your Spanish scriptures for when you get in a lesson and think of a great scripture to share. Otherwise you won't be able to find it because it isn't marked and you can't read el Libro de Mormon (not a fun experience).

There will probably be problems in your district because you are with the same 6 people for 18 hours a day in the same class room...

I tell you this not to scare you or make you feel pity for me. I tell you this because I want you to be better prepared than I am. NOW is the time to prepare. I regret not reading Preach My Gospel before I came out here because now there is no time to read it and they expect us to know it pretty well. I regret not re-memorizing the 100 scripture masteries, because for me, if I could remember them in English, then it is a lot easier to memorize them in Spanish. READ PREACH MY GOSPEL BEFORE YOUR MISSION. KNOW YOUR 100 SCRIPTURES AND DONT FORGET THEM! 

What I am struggling the most with is time. Learn now how to manage your time. Learn now how to be patient with yourself. Learn now that every minute counts. Always be doing something worthwhile. 

Also, there is an elder in my district who is having an extremely hard time letting go of his old life. From what I've gathered and heard from him, he was the type to repent right before his mission. Not good. At first he was all gung ho, but as the days became harder and longer, he has fizzled out. I've seen him struggle to the point of tears. He doesn't know why he is here. He doesn't know the scriptures, and he is almost to the point of done trying. It is really sad. And it is really annoying because during personal study and planning, I suffer because he has a big personality and doesn't want to work. Everyone in my district, especially his companion is hurting because he can't focus and doesn't want to.

Figure out now why you're going on a mission. If you are going because you feel you are expected to, that is not enough. If you are going because that's just what you do, that is not enough. YOU NEED TO KNOW WHY YOU ARE GOING!

It is difficult to be with the same person 24/7 especially when your personalities are very different. Start making friends with people that are really different from you. Learn to love them. Learn about them. If anything, come to appreciate them as a son or daughter of God. Don't not like anyone. 

Work in the temple if you can before you go. Mission prep is great, but working for 6 hours non-stop in the temple without someone telling you where you need to be all the time was great training. Here, no one tells us what to do. we are given a 6-week schedule and are trusted to follow it. During Spanish class we have teachers, but for personal study and the language class after lunch we are all on our own. It is easy to goof-off or say, "I've already worked hard today, I'm going to take a break." Breaks are needed, but that shouldn't keep you from performing your best. 

Learn to be diligent. Learn to be patient with others, yourself, and God. Learn to fail and be comfortable making mistakes.

Yesterday during a lesson I thought I said, "When I was a girl" in Spanish, but I really said, "When I had a daughter."  Hahaha...the investigator looked at me all weird. 

It's a rough experience. Sometimes I question why I am here and if I'll be able to handle it. When those thoughts come, I immediately fall to my knees. There is great strength in prayer. I testify of that.

I am still trying to learn how to lose myself in this work. I've started to recognize that I cannot do this. There is no way that I can learn Spanish in 6 weeks. There is no way that I can stand the others in my district after being with them 18/7 or 24/7. I cannot do it alone. But with the Lord I can. He knows what it is like. He know exactly what I am feeling because He experienced it first hand for me, to know how to best succor me. The quicker you learn to let go of your pride and put your life into God's hands, the happier you will be through your trials and bad days.

This work is hard. It is demanding. It is relentless. But, my beloved friends and brothers, it is so worth it! These have been the best 3 weeks of my life.

I love you with all my heart. I pray for you every night. Keep the faith. 

Hurrah for Israel!!

I Love to See the Temple

We went to the temple today!!! It was a much needed break away from the CCM (Spanish for MTC) and stress of CCM life... also a great way to celebrate our half way point in “Mormon prison.” Not really, but it does feel like it sometimes…

This week has been pretty crazy. I don’t think I’ve cried so much in my life. I think this quote accurately describes how I’ve felt this week: 

"When trials are not consequences of your disobedience, they are the evidence that the Lord feels you are prepared to grow more. He therefore gives you experiences that stimulate growth, understanding, and compassion which polish you for your everlasting benefit. to get you from where you are to where He wants you to be requires a lot of stretching, and that generally entails discomfort and pain."
  --Richard G Scott
Even though this is really tough, these are some of the best experiences I’ve had. And I know it will only get harder and better! A little miracle though, the part of the city in which the CCM is in is really smoggy. You can’t see any stars at night and it smells like sewage. BUT! For some reason, it has been super clear this week and I could make out a few stars while walking to my casa. It made me so happy! 
So this Tuesday we performed for devotional. I was the choir pianist and it was a really rewarding experience. Haha although... so I was playing for choir and also for the opening and closing songs. I knew the songs and I could play them… however, when the president welcomed us to the devo and announced the songs that we would be singing.... they were not the songs I was told. in fact, one was a Spanish song that is not in the English hymn book... haha so I was sight reading it, trying to do the best I could and I missed a fermata... I kept playing while every other person in the auditorium held the note. (We’ll see if they ask me to play again :) 

The City

People walk where ever

These next ones are my favorite. I took them from inside the bus. We were at a red light, the guy in blue is walking by, selling cigarettes

Another man just comes up in the middle of the street to buy a pack. The light turned green and people just drove around them!

The Elders had a tie exchange

Some other things that happened:
  • Hma. Hoskins burnt her skirt trying to iron it
  • All of our American and Latino friends left for the mission field last Tuesday...
  • We are now the "old" people here... it’s weird!
  • We are the district of leaders... 2 of the Elders are zone leaders, the other 2 are district leaders and Hna Hoskins and I are sister training leaders
  • Dia de los Tres Magos (Day of the Three Kings) was a few days ago. Kids in Mexico write letters to the wise men asking for presents and then send their letters up in a floating lantern or a balloon, so that was fun to see. And we have pan dulce which is also part of Dia de los Tres Magos. Everyone eats the sweet bread and if you find a plastic little baby in your bread, you have to buy everyone something from the Tienda they have here. One of the elders from the other district got the baby :)
I still haven’t got any of your letters....

Sorry this letter isn’t great. I’m learning a lot and growing a lot. Mentally it is one of the hardest things I’ve done, but I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. Don’t worry about me, I’m on the Lord’s errand.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Editor's Note (by Karissa's Mom)

I'm sure most of you are aware that eight years ago on New Year's Day our son (and Hermana Hess's little brother), Russell, died suddenly and unexpectedly in an accident. I can't explain to you what a horrifying yet sacred experience this was for our family. We received strength from Heavenly Father, power from the Holy Ghost, and an incredible new appreciation for the sacrifice and Atonement of our Savior. Our temple promises became very real and oh, so necessary. We realized through the grief and very real and very debilitating pain that our Heavenly Father's plan truly is a plan of happiness. And every year at this time we feel especially tender as we think about our little Russell and that fateful day.

Christmas wasn't the day we would've preferred to talk to Karissa. If we had the choice, we would've preferred New Year's Day. I don't think President Call knew that, but I know Heavenly Father did. 

We were able to talk to Karissa today, on New Year's Day. For us, it was a great way to start what is always going to be a difficult day to get through.

President Call's kindness and inspiration gave us a special family gift this year on a special, sacred day. Heavenly Father gave us this tender mercy and tender reminder of His love for us, and the reminder that He is mindful and aware of our feelings and quiet desires.