December 19, 2016

Perseverar Hasta El Fin

Mi Familia y Amigos,

This week was just... wow. Another week of miracles, and experiences that truly taught me what it means to be humble. As a mission, we are studying the Doctrine of Christ, and this week our principle was Endure to the End...well Friday we met a woman who defines exactly what that means. Her name is Nuria, she´s been a member for about 4 years but right now is inactive. The unique thing about Nuria is that she is paralyzed. About 3 years ago she had a stroke that left her completely disabled. She couldn´t talk, she couldn´t walk... and she was left to take care of her 12 year old daughter alone. No husband, no family close by, and a mountain of difficulties. As we talked with her, she told us her story. After her stroke she couldn´t work, and thus had no income.... She shared with us how there had been more than one occassion in that she and her daughter came close to starving to death. One day they were so hungry that they had to eat DOG FOOD because there was nothing else, and no money to buy anything, but she testified of the miracle that it was that she had something to sustain her that night. She told us how for 6 months she hasn´t been able to pay for the pills that the doctors prescriped, but then explained that God is strengthening her now more than ever before. She told us that the doctors told her that she would never walk or talk again, but she smiled and said ¨But I put my trust in the Lord and look at how I am now!¨ It literally brought me to tears to hear her words. I have never met anyone so humble. So completely humble. I looked at this woman, barely able to walk, living in a tiny, dirty house made of blocks, telling us about some of the MANY challenges she has had, and doing it all with a smile on her face! She testified of the power of prayer with so much conviction, that the spirit was palpable! She told us that a few weeks ago she had prayed to Heavenly Father that he would send her his angles, and then we showed up. She said that our visit was a testimony to her that he listens.

It was such an amazing thing to see. I´m happy to report that we called some members on Sunday, and after 10 long months, that Sister was finally able to take the Sacrament. I felt so grateful and humbled at the fact that she called us her angels, even though we had done nothing but read a few verses from the scriptures with her. She has endurance, and I KNOW that she will receive a DIVINE reward for her stamina.

As part of my studies, I found a scripture in 3 Nephi 15:9... I encourage you all to read it, and think about how we can "look unto (the Savior)". As I pondered this scripture, I realized the power of a "look". For example, when a woman is giving birth, she looks to her husband and draws the strength from the nervious/excited expression on his face. When a child is doing a school play, they are nervious until they look at their parents and see them smiling with a thumbs up. When a Grandparent is in the hospital, the smiling look of their loved one's brings them that inner peace that everything will be alright. Their is power in a look. So how much stronger are we, how much more confidence we will have, if we "look" at the Savior. If we open our eyes to see him. THAT is what gives us the strength to endure to the end. THAT is what supports us on this path to eternal life. It's him! It is always him.

I'm sorry this email is so long, but it was a great week! I love you all so very very much, and I hope that your CHRISTMAS is absolutely fabulous! Remember who it's all about.


Hermana Van Deusen

"Christmas" apparently means "EVERYBODY PAINT YOUR HOUSE" here in Panama haha

December 12, 2016


Mi Familia y Amigos,

This week was a week of MIRACLES!! Oh my goodness it has been so fabulous. Let me give you an example of just how much the Lord was helping us this week....

So about 3 weeks ago we got a referral from some other missionaries for a sister that lives in a SUPER far away part of our area. WELL we decided Wednesday that we were going to go out there to try and find her. The only problem is that the missionaries only gave us her name and house number. In the United States that would be sufficient, right???? Well Panama is a different story... because about 95% of the houses don't have numbers, and if they do, they aren't in order. SO we go out there, get off the bus, and look at each other with a kind of "where do we start?" expression. Well we decided that our best option was to ask a group of old men that were sitting outside of this little store close to the bus stop. We asked, "Hey, do you guys know a Maria Rodriguez?" And they were off. Turns out about 8 people with the name Maria Rodriguez live there. They started spitting out names and directions telling us to go this way and that way and maybe it is her but no her last name is Ricardo but maybe it's the widow of Juan and then there's that lady over there but I can't remember if her name is Maria or Marta but my neighbors name is Maria but she's catholic and hey do you guys want a soda?... and it was about 25 minutes of that.  UNTIL an angel came. His name is Ariel, and he said that he would take us to a Maria Rodriguez that lives down the street and we could see if she's the one we were looking for. So we were like, Okay! So we go, and turns out, it wasn't her. BUT she said that there was another Maria Rodriguez that lives down the street that might be the one we were looking for.... so we go, and turns out, it wasn't her. BUT her neighbor told us of a Maria that lived on the other side of town... so we go, and turns out, she wasn't home. BUT some people across the street told us there was another Maria that lived on the other street... so we go, and turns out, she wasn't home either! BUT her husband was!!! And so we asked, is this house number 21???? And he said, "Why yes it is". 2 HOURS OF SEARCHING BUT WE FOUND THE HOUSE!!!!! So we asked if we could share a message with him and wait for his wife to get home. We taught a lesson about the Plan of Salvation, and it was beautiful. Maria Rodriguez got home just as we were finishing up the lesson... she was shocked to see us, but they both told us to come back and share another message. I believe in Miracles.

That was just a little thing. I don't know if she will get baptized, or how her story will turn out, but the Lord wanted us to find her. He didn't make it easy, but by making it such a struggle, he showed us that he is always there. Not to mention the fact that almost everyone in that town knows us now haha. As I was contemplating this experience, I thought of what it says in Mormon 9: 15-19, "God has not ceased to be a God of miracles". He hasn't ceased and he never will. His hand is always there. He is ALWAYS helping us! Sometimes we just have to take the time to see it. Sometimes we have to ASK to see it. As Nephi stated in 2 Nephi 4:35, "I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh". Ask for a miracle. Have faith.

As it says in one of the best Christmas movies ever...

"Seeing isn't believing, Believing is seeing"

I love you all so much!!! Have a FABULOUS week for me!!

Hermana Van Deusen

December 5, 2016

Staying in Caceres

Mi Familia y Amigos,

Well I officially have no time because there was no electricity at all today (happens more than you'd think) and so we are just now getting the chance to write... so to sum this week up...

Changes came and I'm staying here in Caceres... woot woot! Which means I'll be here for Christmas and New Years and all that jazz.. not to mention my half way mark *yeesh. Life is good, the work is progressing, and I'm just so grateful to be a missionary!!

So that's about it! I'm alive and well!!

I love you all and I hope that your week is wonderful and beautiful and full of lot of hot chocolate and Christmas Lights!! I promise that next week my email will be better!!


Hermana Van Deusen