Sunday, January 10, 2010

Querida Amiga

I found out this week (thank goodness for Facebook) that a dear friend of mine from Concepcion, Chile was killed in an auto accident. Maritza Riquelme was my companion for one short month in Valparaiso, Chile in 1998. She was an amazing person, and the world is a better place because she was here. With her I learned to be more obedient and optimistic, even though our month together was one of the hardest of my mission in terms of finding and teaching people the gospel. She had such a positive outlook on life and was determined to do what needed to be done. We grew to love each other as sisters do, and the loss that I feel is profound.

I had served with Hermana Hinojosa (also from Chile, on the left) for one month and we had a great thing going... we went to our change meeting on a Sunday night and were relieved that there wouldn't be any changes. The next day was our preparation day, and we ventured into Vina del Mar to eat pizza with our zone... we ran into a couple of other Hermanas, one of whom was Hermana Riquelme (on the right) and she asked us what we were going to do about tomorrow... we had no idea what she was talking about... but she had been informed that she would be coming to our sector to work with us as a trio. (For some reason our APs and Zone Leader neglected to let us in on this little tidbit...) I have to admit that I was very wary of working in a trio and not at all excited. It didn't take me long at all to see that we would not only get along with her, but would enjoy every minute of being together. I wrote in my mission journal that I sort of felt like I was in Relief Society all the time... there was always someone to talk to.

We had several nicknames... from other missionaries, ward members and people we met: The Spice Girls, Testigos de Jehoveh (only because missionaries from Jehoveh's witness usually proselyted in groups of three or more in Chile), Las Maquinas (The Machines... we were that good :)), and the Three Musketeers. I survived an attack from several carnivorous dogs (photos were too graphic to show...) while I served with these women (my fear of dogs still lingers a little bit).

Of course the Elders loved us--we worked hard alongside them doing service.

You can see how the hills of Valparaiso had homes stacked on top of each other. You can also see how I looked like a giant my whole mission, particularly when I had Latin companions!

Hermana Riqueleme and Hermana Hinojosa were with me when Marisol was baptized, which was the highlight of our time together. Marisol is another person who changed my life for the better...
There were many, many stairs in our area...

...and a lot of need for service.

We taught Johanna and many others who did not accept our message, but loved us still the same.We visited a multitude of families in our ward boundaries and had a whole lot of fun with them.

We lived in a family's home--this photo shows our papito and mamita with their daughter Nicole.

We laughed and laughed together... for this meeting we found a whole bunch of ugly ties to give to the Elders in our zone... I can't remember how we got them all, but the Elders thought it was as hilarious as we did.

After our missions Hermana Riquelme stayed in touch with me... she knew Ryan from when they served in another Zone together and was thrilled when she found out we were going to get married. She always strived for excellence in her life and served faithfully in many capacities.

Te extranare querida amiga! Gracias por ser persona tan buena y por bendecirme en tantas maneras. Te quiero tanto.


Kristi said...

That is too bad to hear such sad news, especially about a dear friend who had such a good influence in your life.

It was so fun to see some of your mission pictures of the three of you together! I am sure Hermana Riquelme thought just as highly of you!

Sara White said...

Thank goodness for pictures. They are all a wonderful way to remember her and honor her.

Linn said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your friend. This was a beautiful post!

emilyw said...

So beautiful, made me cry. So sad to hear about her passing. I didn't know her but I certainly love the Chilenos. It was great seeing Valparaiso again too. I served on a different hill there but they all seem to look so similar. :) My thoughts are with you on this sad day.

Anonymous said...

Wow... I knew her, but never actually served with her. That's sad that she died & how she died. Thank goodness for the gospel & for great mission memories!

Allyson said...

What a neat flashback to your mission! I'm sorry to hear about your loss - but what a sweet post about your friend!

Janene said...

those pictures brought back a lot of fond memories. It is hard to be so far away from such a portion of my heart. I love that south american land.