Wednesday, November 19, 2014

November 17, 2014

Okay so this week has been a good one here in Juan Lacaze!  We had so many adventures...a mission-wide conference in Montevideo, a fun outing for Via Lapanche (I’m not sure if I spelled this right, but it’s the area of the elders), and an AWESOME Sunday in our sweet little branch!  But before I get started, I’d love to share what I learned this past week.  As I was reading in the October Liahona, I found a little story about a missionary who visited the Jadeite Cabbage one P-Day.  Apparently there’s a famous cabbage in Taipei that is carved out of jadeite!  Usually jadeite sculptures are only valuable if they are carved out of jadeite that is one pure color...but this Jadeite Cabbage was special.  It was carved out of a piece of cracked jade that had BOTH green and white parts.  Most sculptors probably passed this piece of jade by because it had flaws.  BUT one sculptor saw what the jade could BECOME and used the jade’s flaws to carve cabbage.  The cracks and different colors made the cabbage more life-like, making the sculpture more valuable than if it had been carved with a perfect piece of jade.  What a cool metaphor for life, no?  We have a sculptor above who realizes we are not perfect.  He could easily toss us aside because we have flaws and weaknesses, but He actually uses our imperfections to make us into the people He wants us to become!  At the end of the Jadeite Cabbage article, the author (Ellen C. Jensen) referenced Ether 12:27, "And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness....[M]y grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."

I love this scripture and it has taken on a whole new meaning as a missionary.  I make so many mistakes every day and living halfway around the world and not having all the same resources I had in my old life has really exposed my weaknesses.  I am a missionary who at times is not as patient as I should be.  I am a missionary who at times hasn’t treated my companions as kindly as I should’ve.  I am a missionary who gets easily stressed.  I am a missionary who is slow of speech.  I am a missionary who is teaching other people although I’m not even close to knowing everything about the gospel.  I am a missionary who gets tired and who dreams about dulce de leche sometimes during weekly planning sessions.  But you know what?  Little by little, I can feel the Lord using these weaknesses of mine and shaping me into the missionary He wants me to become.  Never before have I been so grateful for the atonement, because through this sacrifice, the Lord can truly understand our weaknesses and see them as something that can HELP us.

As I think about this little cabbage, I also think about sweet little Juan Lacaze.  As an area, it has its weaknesses.  Our branch is small and the members live far away from each other.  At times, there is some branch drama.  But you know what?  Even though this area has its problems, little by little, La Rama Juan Lacaze is progressing!  It was so fun for me to see little miracles this week.  Miracles like hearing how Hugo and Marisol (a fun couple in our branch) sang hymns together and read all of 3 Nefi together for FUN one night!  Like hearing awesome talks from Presidente y Hermana Smith, the other mission president in Uruguay and his wife, and Elder y Hermana Christensen (I think Elder Christensen is a seventy) in our mission-wide conference and feeling so pumped to be a missionary in URUGUAY!  Like seeing our branch president drive all around Juan Lacaze Sunday morning to pick up people who aren’t able to walk to church.  Like looking around and seeing a chapel full of happy Uruguayans!  This little place is gradually being sculpted as well!

I am grateful for the chance I have to be a missionary and for the chance I have to work on my weaknesses every day.  I know the gospel of Jesus Christ is here so that we can BECOME the jadeite sculptures the Lord wants us to be.  I love you all, and thank you for telling me about your lives.  I am grateful for you guys every day!

Hermana Dixon

Monday, November 17, 2014


November 10, 2014

Hola sweet familia!!!

This week, I’ve been loving a certain scripture, 1 Nephi 8:12.  This scripture talks about Lehi when he had the dream about the tree of life and all the emotions he felt!  It says,

“And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit.”

One of the biggest things I’ve been learning on the mission is that this world is a hard world to live in.  There are so many deaths, so many sicknesses, so many problems within families, so many hurt feelings, so many struggles with finances, so many crazy weather patterns, so many people who feel misunderstood and alone, etc.  But you know what else I’ve been learning here?  Amidst this crazy world, it is possible to feel "exceedingly great joy."  Like all other weeks in the mission, this past week was filled with hard things (we moved houses, we missed our bus twice on Tuesday, and sometimes we felt like it was beyond our control to help all the people here in Juan Lacaze), but I’ve begun to realize we have these hard things in life so we know what it feels like to have JOY (GOZO in Spanish)!  Man oh man there were so many little moments of joy this past week!  Here are a few:

·         We have a sweet investigator named Alba and she loves reading the Book of Mormon!  She is reading in Alma right now!  But anyway, lessons are so fun with her because she loves giving us besos.  She gives us besos when we arrive, besos after we sing the hymn, besos after the opening prayer, besos throughout the lesson, besos after the closing prayer, and besos when we leave.  I am so grateful for her and the love she shows to Hermana Paredes and me.  Moments with Alba sure are moments of joy!

·         On Tuesday night, Hermana Paredes and I had a Noche de Hogar with Familia Acoste!  It was Haz Lo Justo (Choose the Right) themed.  Hermana Paredes brought little HLJ rings for everyone, and we made a little HLJ poster for the family to sign.  The next day, we saw Santi (one of their sons) in the street, and he proudly showed us his HLJ ring!  

·         One of our old neighbors is eighteen years old and loves baking alfajores.  This past week, we brought ingredients to make alfajores and she taught us how to make them!  Afterwards, we had a lesson about Alma 37:6.  Just like all the little ingredients in alfajores can make something delicious, little habits in our life can bring to pass grand miracles!

·         On Saturday, Hermana Paredes and I had lunch with Familia Villagran (Uncle Tom’s friends).  They showed us a picture of Uncle Tom and Hermano Villagran together and told us about so many of their adventures (this awesome family has lived in Uruguay, the United States, Peru, and New Zealand).  Hermana Villagran also talked about how much her mother-in-law loves Uncle Tom because she was touched by his violin playing.  It was so fun to hear Uncle Tom reached Uruguayans through music on his mission!  Ahhh it is still so crazy for me that Uncle Tom and I now have mutual friends here in Uruguay!!!

·         I’m not sure if you know this, but Hermana Paredes loves to crochet as well!  Yesterday, we started talking to a lady named Mabel who was crocheting outside of her house.  She was so fun to talk to and showed us a lot of the stuff she was making.  It was so great having three crocheters together.  Crocheters unite!!!

I know even though life is so crazy and many times we experience things beyond our control, our Heavenly Father also gives us moments of exceedingly great joy.  I am so grateful that every day, I have the chance to teach people about the gospel of Jesus Christ, something sweet and of great joy!!!

LOVE YOU ALL, and have a joy-filled week!

Hermana Dixon

Friday, November 14, 2014

Juan Lacaze missionaries at the branch activity (see below)

November 3, 2014

Hola sweet familia!!!

Where do I even begin???  This week was absolutely crazy...a week I will remember for sure!  I don’t have much time so I am going to use bullet points.  Hope that’s okay!

·         On Tuesday, I had my first meeting with my zone!  It is so crazy to be in a different zone, but I really like Colonia!  The chapel where we had our meeting was so cool--two floors!  And on Tuesday, I also received your package, mom!  Muchas gracias!  I am loving the Wintogreen Lifesavers, and my companion is loving the necklace (she was having a rough day so I gave it to her)!

·         Oh my goodness WEDNESDAY!  Tuesday night, it just started raining like crazy, and on Wednesday morning, we woke up and it was still raining so hard.  The streets ended up flooding in Juan Lacaze.  Hermana Paredes and I went out and were walking around in KNEE deep water.  So crazy.  We didn’t have very many lessons this day, but we visited lots of houses to see if people needed anything because a lot of flooding happened.  Please pray for the people here in Juan Lacaze!  I have some pics I’ll send next week.  Oh and guess what, a sweet Hermana named Slyvia accompanied us four hours in this rain!  What a champ!

·         Hermana Paredes is a rock star!  We are having lots of fun together.  She is sure helping me with my Spanish, and I think I am getting pretty close to fluent because I told her the black bean soup story and the crack the egg story in Spanish!  We use dictionaries and hand signals a lot, but it is fun!  And she is a great teacher!  She is helping me with my teaching skills, so I am grateful!

·         On Friday, we had an awesome branch activity!  We learned about decisions, and Hermana Paredes and I prepared four bon bons...two had green olives inside, and two had chocolate inside.  Four volunteers ate the bonbons, and the elders talked about how sinning is like eating chocolate with green olives inside!  Afterwards, we played games and ate cookies and candy!

·         On Saturday, we saw two miracles!  Saturday was also super rainy and windy, so there weren’t a lot of people in the streets and not a lot of people wanted to open their doors (I don’t blame them, when it’s cold outside, it’s nice to be in bed)!  We just had no idea who to visit Saturday morning, but we said a prayer in the street.  Literally four minutes later, we stopped and talked with a sweet lady named Irma!  She said she feels something is missing in her life, and both Hermana Paredes and I were like woah, God truly answers prayers!  I also had some Oreos in my backpack so we gave her some and said that like Oreos, the gospel is sweet and we want to share it with her!  We are excited to visit her this week!  Miracle number two:  Saturday night, we arrived at our house at 8:48.  It was still cold and windy, but we decided we could stick it out for twelve minutes.  We visited some of our neighbors and said a prayer with them and sang a hymn.  It was something really small, but we are going back to visit this Tuesday.  I am grateful God blesses us for our obedience.

Okay that is about it!  I love you guys so so much, and read 1 Nephi 7:17.  I found this scripture during my studies this week, and I love that with the Lord, we have the strength to break our bands, whether it be addictions, STRESS (this is what I’m working on in the mission), problems within families, or cualquier cosa!


Hermana Dixon

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Juan Lacaze!!!

With Hermanas Villagran

October 27, 2014

Hola familia!!! 

First things first, sorry for totally spelling Juan Lacaze wrong last week.  After five days here, I can now say I officially know how to spell Juan Lacaze!  

Okay there is just so much I have to tell you guys about Juan is so different here than Fray Bentos, but I love it!  Not a ton of people live here and it’s super country, but it’s AWESOME!  And man oh man have I seen some tender mercies this week or what.  My last night in Fray Bentos was amazing.  Hermano Maneyro and Familia Flores threw a little goodbye party for me and another elder who was leaving (Elder Gutierrez de Mexico)!  We had lasagna, took some pictures, and Familia Flores gave me the sweetest gift and note.  So many people in Fray Bentos gave me notes and things and I am just so grateful I have a little something to remember them by!!  Okay and then Wednesday, I left for JUAN LACAZE!  The bus ride was great and then I finally got to see my new comp, Hermana Paredes!

I forgot to tell you guys all the little connections I have with first change, I lived in a house with Hermana Christensen.  After my first change, Hermana Christensen left to train (she trained Hermana Paredes) and open an area in Colonia (Juan Lacaze).  I remember being so excited for her, and little did I know, I’d be serving with her companion and in her area just twelve weeks later.  When I went to sign my papers in Montevideo two weeks ago, Hermana Christensen and Hermana Paredes were also there!  Hermana Christensen and Hermana Gordillo (my companion at the time) both had to use the bathroom, so Hermana Paredes and I just sat and talked for a bit.  I remember thinking to myself, "you know what, I think she’s going to be my companion one day," but I had no idea how soon it would actually be!  But anyway, Hermana Paredes is awesome.  She’s from Trujillo, Peru and is super tranquila.  As you know, I have the tendency to get a little stressed at times, so she is just perfect for me because she’s all about staying calm and just enjoying the mission.  And guess what???  She taught little kids before her mission, so she is an awesome teacher.  She is going to help me with my teaching skills a lot so I am pumped!  

Both of us are relatively new in the mission and we’re covering two areas (there were two other Hermanas here before but they left to open an area in Argentina...we have bits of Argentina and Brazil in our mission now), so every day is an adventure.  We just walk around with our little map in hand and it’s great!
The people here in Juan Lacaze are very sweet.  We have some awesome investigators named Oscar, Alba, and Brenda (we met her my first day here), and we’re just working on finding all the investigators in the other sisters´area.  

OKAY AND GUESS WHAT?  The world is just so small.  First off, I share a branch with Elder Ballif.  He and his companion, Elder Ramirez, are awesome so it’ll be fun serving with them.  Second off, as you guys know, I met some people Uncle Tom knows!  I walked into sacrament and this sixteen-year-old girl came up to me and looked at my plaque.  Afterwards, she was like, "No way, do you know a Tom Dixon who served his mission in Uruguay and who plays violin?"  And I was like, "YEAH!  He’s my uncle!"  She gathered up her whole family and we all just started hugging and crying.  This family is Familia Villagran and I guess they lived with Uncle Tom and his fam for a year in the states.  I am so excited to get to know them more, and it was honestly a huge miracle for me.  God is very aware of his children!  

Well, that’s all for now!  I’m doing well here in Juan Lacaze, and I feel so lucky to be sharing such a sweet message with all the sweet people here in Uruguay.  I hope you all have a swell week!

Hermana Dixon

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Farewell Fray Bentos!

"A Cute Heart in Fray Bentos"

October 21, 2014

Man oh man am I feeling sentimental!  Here I am, sitting in this little internet cafĂ© in Fray Bentos, just trying to soak in every moment because tomorrow, I will be heading off to JUAN LA CASE!  I cannot believe I’m finishing up in my first area.  I remember when I first arrived in Fray Bentos, I experienced some hard-core culture shock.  I questioned if I’d ever grow to love this crazy place with people who spoke this crazy language I didn’t understand.  Now, four and a half months later, I can honestly say I LOVE FRAY BENTOS!!!  And even more, I LOVE THE PEOPLE IN FRAY BENTOS!!!  The night after I received my mission call, I remember lying in my bed and wondering why in the world I’d be going to Uruguay.  I realized it was probably because of the people there, so I began trying to imagine what their faces, personalities, actions, names, etc. would be like.  I had the opportunity to bear my testimony in my sweet ward, Las Canteras, and as I did so and looked out into the congregation, I realized now I actually know the faces, personalities, actions, and names of so many incredible people.  And it just breaks my heart to think I may not be able to see some of these people ever again in this life.  But you know what???  As missionaries, every day we preach about how families can be together the love we feel within our families is something that lasts even after this life.  I also have a firm testimony friends can be together forever...that the love I feel for all these special people in Uruguay is something that doesn’t need to end.  Before I head out, I am going to share sixteen of my favorite things about Fray Bentos because I lived in this sweet little place sixteen weeks!

1) I love how friendly people in the streets are!  We say "hola" and they just smile and wave and lots of times, talk to us!

2) I love all the memories I have here with Hermana McMurray and Hermana Gordillo (I am going to miss this sweet girl)!!

3) I love how there are fresh fruit stands and little food shops EVERYWHERE!!!

4) I love the beautiful plazas here.  Someday I hope to be able to show you guys these beautiful places with flowers, statues, and gazebos because it is breathtaking!

5) I love seeing cute little kids riding on motorcycles with their parents (not a lot of people have cars, so motos are everywhere).

6) I absolutely love the generosity of the people.  Never in my life have I received so much food, little notes, clothes, etc.

7) I love how tranquilo it is here.  There are trees and flowers everywhere, and it just gives me feelings of peace.

8) Okay I am running out of time, so I guess I will just write eight.  But eight is half of sixteen, so perfect, right???  My favorite thing about Fray Bentos is that here, I’ve realized people from VERY different backgrounds can be tied together through one person.  And this person is our Savior, Jesus Christ.  I am so grateful for my ward, and sometimes I wonder why they’ve done so much for me, a random girl from a country halfway around the world.  But do you know why they’ve done it?  Because they love their Savior.

This has been a fun week full of teaching new investigators (we’ve been teaching an amazing Evangelical lady named Daniella and her daughter), last minute bonding with Hermana Gordillo, lots of goodbyes, and soaking up Fray Bentos.  And next week will be awesome too!!!  I am so excited to meet everyone in Juan La Case with Hermana Paredes (she is from Peru and has one change less than I do)!  I love you all, and continue working hard.  I am so grateful for you guys, and I know The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true!

Hasta proximo semanas (and I promise to send lots of pictures),

Hermana Dixon