Monday, May 15, 2017

Well, this is the most bittersweet thing in the world. There's a saying that goes like this, ¨don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.¨ But I can't help but write this letter holding back tears.

18 months seems like a long time on paper. A year and a half. I remember preparing to come on the mission thinking that the next time I would be home would be in May of 2017. It seemed like AN ETERNITY away..but here we are.

There aren't many words I can say to descirbe how I feel writing my last email as a missionary, so I'll try to keep this email to the point.

The people here in Peru have made the biggest impact on me. I owe so much to them. I've seen families broken and torn apart, tears shed for loved ones, mothers and fathers fighting to provide for their families not knowing where their next meal will come from, lives changed by the grace of God, the joy and light in someones eyes when they hear about Jesus Christ for the first time. I've had doors slammed in my face. I've been yelled at and spit upon for the nametag that I wear. I've been rejected and denied for the person that I represent. I've been mocked and made fun of for being a ¨mormon¨. I've seen people completely change their lives to follow what they know is the will of God. I've been asked really hard questions about life and have tried to answer them only by trusting my instinct and the impressions of the Holy Ghost. I've given counsel to people struggling with really really hard life problems that I have never even expereinced. I've seen miracles. And I wouldn't trade it for the world. In the hard times I felt the presence of the one I represent, Jesus Christ, walking right by my side in every step I took. It has made me realize that what he went through in the garden of Gethsemane made him earn the name of the Savior. He gets us. He understands our pain because he's already felt it all, and that's why we call him our Savior. And even though I've given 18 months of my life for him, it will never be enough to repay him for what he's done for me. It has been the most incredible blessing and privilege to represent him and preach his gospel to the people here in Peru.

And everything Jesus did, he did it for love.
¨Greater love hath no man than this, that a man that lay down his life for his friends¨
John 15:13
These 18 months have been the best. Absolutely the best. I lost myself in the service of others, but by some miracle I was able to truly find myself. I've been able to understand even more my purpose in life and my self worth. I understand even more the love my heavenly Father has for me, and for you, and for all of his children. Our potential as sons and daughters of a living God is absolutely divine. God wants us to return to His presence, He wants us to have all that He has, He wants us to become like Him. That is His will. The cool thing is is that it's attainable. But where we end up afterall completely depends on our actions and desires NOW in this short, earthly life.
¨For behold, this is my work and my glory--to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man¨
Moses 1:39
immortality- being able to live forever
eternal life- salvation; exaltation; to know and walk with God and Jesus Christ; to live with our families forever in the presence of the One who gave us life

Thank you all for sticking with me these last 18 months, it means more to me than you know.

for the last time,
Hermana Celardo

keep in touch por favor!

Monday, May 8, 2017

All is well here in Tacna! I will have to be short today, but I promise next weeks email will be the best! It's finally starting to get a little bit colder which is nice considering we walk all day long. We had another baptism on Saturday so obviously it was a great week!! Since January we have been teaching a 10 year old kid, Victor. His mom is a member but less active. We started teaching them both, with the intention to reactivate the mom and baptize her son. This family has had so many hardships.. every time we go to their house to share a message with them the mom tells us a story about her life. There are so many people here with trials and difficulties like her, it breaks my heart. It makes me so grateful to be from the United States, to be from a family where I know I'll always have a roof over my head and I don't have to worry about when my next meal is going to be. Victor was finally baptized this last Saturday and his mom shared her testimony with us after the baptism. She told us how grateful she was to have come back to church and to see her son baptized. She explained to us that the problems she was having in her life started to disappear when she started applying what we taught to her and her son in her life. The gospel of Jesus Christ is REAL and it helps us with our day to day trials. It gives us hope when we want to give up or when we feel like we can't keep going. It is the only thing we can truly rely on to lift us up when we've fallen down. We cannot completely put our trust in the things of the world because they are not stable. Money runs out. Work is never constant. Sometimes even friends and family fail us. But Christ is infinite. His sacrifice is eternal. He will always be there for us, but are you there for him?

¨And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.¨
Helaman 5:12 (The Book of Mormon)

Make it a good week everyone!

Hermana Celardo

Monday, April 24, 2017

Alright so first things first, we had another miracle baptism (: His name is Estephano and he's awesome. He was SO prepared it was ridiculous! But awesome of course. Honestly it has been the biggest blessing, like ever, to be an instrument in the hands of the Lord. Seeing people that are so converted enter the waters of baptism is the dream of every missionary! I'm so grateful to have been a part of many baptisms here on my mission!

So you could say that things are going well here in my area in Tacna! We are having success in our work, the weather is great, we are healthy and happy and progressing and thriving. Can't really ask for much more than that.

I don't have much time to write today, but I just want to share one thing. Sometimes we get so caught up in the hussle and bussle and chaos of life that we forget why we're here. And maybe some of you have asked yourselves this question, what exactly is my purpose in life? Yes, education and schooling is important. Yes, work and having a stable job is important. But it is not the most important thing in this life. We cannot take these things beyond the grave. We are here to prepare ourselves to meet God. To live in His kingdom. To progress in the eternities. We have a divine potential as sons and daughters of a living God. Our Father in Heaven wants us to return to His presence, and He wants us to become like Him one day.

This life is such a SMALL spec on the scheme of eternity. We have to focus on what really is most important in the short time that we have as mortal human beings. And if we play our cards right, our prize is eternal life.

Have a fantastic week!

Hermana Celardo

Monday, April 17, 2017

This week was a good one! My companion and I being sister leaders in Tacna traveled to Arequipa for a day for a leadership conference and it was so inspiring and really have me the motivation to work hard these last couple weeks of my mission! We talked a lot about how we can work better with the members to receive more references. For all you members of the church out there reading this right now, help the missionaries out!! Prepare people for them to teach! They can't do their work alone! It is absolutely necessary to have the help and support from the members. We have had support from the members here in our area and honestly it's made the biggest difference! We have seen so many miracles thanks to the members that have helped us out!

Alright so today lets talk about prophets. Lets start from the beginning. Adam. He was the first man to come to earth. He lived with Eve in paradise in a place called the garden of Eden. They were given instruction to not eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge or good and evil, but we know how the story goes. They ate the fruit. So as a consequence they were cast out of paradise, out of the garden of Eden. They had also been commanded to multiply and replenish the earth, so thats what they did. They started their family. They had many kids, but among them were two named Cain and Abel. Cain rebelled against the teachings of his father and chose to follow Satan, so much that Cain was tempted to kill his brother Abel. And he did exactly that. The people started to give into Satans temptations as well. They started to reject the prophet, Adam, and his teachings. So what does God do when the people reject His prophet? He takes the prophet away form the earth because the people are not ready to follow his guidance.

So the world was in sad state of apostasy, when there is no prophet to guide the people. But God loves his children and he wants them to prosper and understand how to return to His presence, so He called another prophet.

His name was Noah and Noah was instructed to build an ark and testify to the people that a flood would come. The people were wicked, so they did not follow the guidance of the prophet. And when the flood came, these people that didnt listen to the prophet were killed.

There was also the prophet Abraham. He was instructed by God to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Abraham traveled for days to a mountain and even built an altar to do it. Right when he was about to sacrifice Isaac, an angel came to him and told him not to. But he was blessed because he obeyed Gods orders. There were two cities called Sodom and Gomorrah where the people were known to be extremely disobedient and wicked. God told Abraham that he was going to destroy them. Abraham wanted to find righteous people to live there, but that wasnt enough and the two cities were burned.

Then there was Moses. He led the Israelites out of Egypt. He even opened the Red Sea by the power of God so that the people could pass and the people were happy, but started to complain and rebel. Moses went to speak to God in private and was given the 10 commandments. But when Moses returned to his people, they were worshipping a golden calf with sacrifices and burnt offerings.

In the old testament we see a pattern of this. God calls a prophet, the people obey and are happy. The people rebel and turn wicked, and God takes away the prophet because the people are not worthy nor ready to receive His direction.
God then sent His son, Jesus Christ to the earth. He sent His son to die to save us from our sins, but also to establish a church. And thats what he did! Jesus established his church. Jesus was also a prophet because he spoke with God to receive revelation to guide his people. He also had the power of God, called the priesthood. All the prophets have this power. Moses used this power to open the Red Sea and Jesus used it to cure the sick and work miracles among his people. He also gave this power to his 12 apostles.

But what happened with Jesus

Christ? The people crucified him. They rejected him. And they rejected his 12 apostles. After the death of Jesus Christ and his 12 apostles, the church that he established was taken away from the earth. And the world fell into another apostacy. There was no more prophet to guide the people, there was no communication from God, and there was no authority or power from God on the earth.

So what do you think happened next? Wouldn't it makes sense that God calls another prophet to reveal more of His will to his children? God loves us, He wants us to return to His presence, and we cannot do that unless we have guidance from a prophet. We NEED modern revelation. The world is not as it was back in the times of Adam and Moses. So don't you think it would be fair and make sense that God called another prophet?

It is my testimony that God called another prophet. He called another prophet to restore the same church that Christ established when he was here on the earth. The exact same church.. with a prophet, priesthood authority, modern revelation and 12 apostles.

Watch the video below to find out more about this prophet and how he restored Christ's church.

Have a fantastic week everyone (:

Hermana Celardo


Monday, April 10, 2017

Hi friends I hope you all had a great week! So first off we had another miracle baptism on Saturday! The Lord is seriously just unconditionally blessing this area because we have seen SO many miracles here! We started teaching Javier back in January, he was progressing but never felt ready to get baptized. After general conference last week, he received his answer and was baptized on Saturday. My companion and I were very surprised but nevertheless excited! I feel SO insanely grateful to be an instrument in the Lords hands to help these people come unto Christ. There is no other feeling like it (:

So last night my companion and I contacted a woman in her home and we started talking about easter, since easter is this next sunday. Here in Peru they celebrate whats called Semana Santa, which means Holy Week. Basically this whole week people will be marching and singing in the streets, and they even do reenactments of Christs crucifixion. So we asked the lasy we contacted if she knows why we celebrate easter, she replied that she didnt know. Then we asked if she knew why we celebrate holy week? She said that holy week is when we celebrate Christs death on the cross.

Think about that for a second.. why would we want to celebrate the death of our savior?! Why?! Yes we recognize that he suffered for the sins of the world in the garden of Gethsemane, we recognize that he was crucified and experienced physical death. But why would we focus so much on his death when three days later he rose from the dead? 

Three days after he died on the cross, Jesus Christ was resurrected. His spirit reunited with his body and he became an absolutely perfect being. He defeated the grave. He overcame physical death. And he did it for us.

As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we focus more on the resurrection of Jesus rather than his death of the cross. For this reason there are no crosses inside Mormon church buildings. We remember Jesus for the perfect life that he lived, and we rejoice in his resurrection. 

Because Jesus resurrected, we too will resurrect one day. After physical death, which we know is something we all have to experience one day, our spirit and body will be seperated. But not forever.. there will be a day when we are resurrected and we will appear as perfect, heavenly beings. We celebrate easter to celebrate the resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ. He makes it possible for us to return to the presence of of Father in Heaven. So this easter season, I invite you to think a little bit more behind the meaning of this extremely special day and why we celebrate it (:

Make it a great week everyone! And go watch this video!

¡Que se cuiden y tengan una bonita semana!

Hermana Celardo

Monday, April 3, 2017

Alright so I'd like to start with a story that happened to me this last week! As missionaries, we talk to everyone about what we teach. We contact random people on the street, we knock on doors, we talk to the taxi drivers every time we talk a taxi, the person sitting next to us on the bus, everyone! This last week we contacted a man who was sitting in a park and we told him who we were and what church we're from. He told us he belongs to a different religion, and that he doesn't believe in anything we believe in, and that he doesn't believe in the Book of Mormon. We got on the subject of God and Jesus Christ and who they are and their love for us. We found common ground! He also believes what we believe about God and Jesus Christ.
We started to explain the Bible. The Bible was written by prophets, or men that communicate with God, a very very very long time ago in the old continent of Jerusalem. We know that prophets are special witnesses of Christ, they communicate with God to recieve revelation about what God wants his people to do. Basically, prophets are the connection between God and us. God talks to the prophet, and the prophet talks to us. God communicates with prophets because He loves us so that we understand His will. So, if God loves ALL of his children. Wouldn't it make sense that He communicates with his children in all parts of the world? During the time that the Bible was being written there were also inhabitants in the Americas. What happened with them? Technology obviously was not as advanced as it is now so how could these people that lived in the old American continent know what was happening in Jerusalem? Wouldn't it make sense that God spoke to man in the Americas too?
The man that we were talking to agreed, it makes sense that God would be in communication with his children in the Americas at this time.

So if I told you all, that there is ANOTHER book of scripture, ANOTHER testament of Jesus Christ that was written by prophets at the same time as the bible, but in the old american continent, would you believe me?

Well, it's my testimony that God loves ALL of His children. That He wanted all of His children to know of the first coming of His beloved son, Jesus Christ, including the ancient inhabitants of America. The book that I speak of exists and it's called The Book of Mormon. This book testifies that Jesus is the Christ. It starts in about 600 BC with a family that leaves their home in Jerusalem to travel to the Americas. It talks about things like the creation of the world, the fall of Adam and Eve, the birth of Christ and his death and resurrection. Every prophet that wrote in this book testifies that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer, that the only way back to our Father in Heaven is through him that gave his life for us.

After my companion and I explained all of this to the man on the park bench, he didn't have much to say. He kindly excepted a copy of the Book of Mormon and went on his way.

The Book of Mormon is the evidence that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the kindom of God on the earth today, that it is the exact same church that Christ himself established when he was here on earth 2000 years ago. The truthfulness of the Mormon church depends on the Book of Mormon, which is why we invite everyone to read it.

The Book of Mormon is perfect, and I invite you all to read it to find out why.

Also, one more question.. We understand that our Heavenly Father is a loving God that loves all His children and desires that we all return to His presence one day. If prophets are the connection between us and God, and prophets receive modern revelation to be able to help us return to His presence.. wouldn't it make sense that there is a living prophet today to guide us?

Have a great week everyone (:

Hermana Celardo

Monday, March 27, 2017

So before I came to the mission, a wise elder told me that the mission is a crazy time where you will definitely have the best and worst day of your life, and they will happen in the same week. Well, I am a witness that this statement is true because it happened to me last week! I got SO sick this last week. I was in bed for two days with a fever, but I ended up going to the clinic and they did some tests to find out I had a stomach infection. They gave me antibiotics and other meds and I feel a lot better! But they food here is just so different from home that a stomach infection is actually pretty common for us to get sick with stomach problems. In spite of all this, we had 2 baptisms this week!! Aimi and Jenniffer (: Jenniffer was absolutely a miracle baptism. She has been waiting for almost 2 years to get baptized. She was never able to before because of problems with her work and with the father of her two sons, but everything cleared up this past week and she got baptized on Saturday! After all the issues she was having with worldly things, she never lost her hope or gave up what she knew was right. She is such a strong woman and I admire her so much for who she has become!
This month of March has been what our mission president calls a ¨month of miracles¨. He promised us at the beginning of the month that we would see miracles in our areas, but also that it depended on us and our personal obedience. He also gave us the challenge of having 3 baptisms for every companionship. So this month we have all been striving to fulfil this goal of 3 baptisms. Hermana Miranda and I were able to see SO many miracles in our area this month. We were also able to achieve the goal of the 3 baptisms in our ward! I've learned a lot this month about personal obedience, about consecrating myself to this work. I chose to come out here. I chose to serve a mission. So why would I slack off? I'm never going to get this chance again, so I have to work my hardest and give it my all. In the process of losing myself in the labor of the Lord, I have learned more about myself and who I am as human being and my divine purpose in this world. I will be forever grateful for all that the mission has done for me.

¨In the midst of the miracle of serving, there is the promise of Jesus that when we lose ourselves, we find ourselves¨  Spencer W Kimball

Have the best week (:

Hermana Celardo