Tuesday, December 30, 2008
In case anyone was wondering, my blackout year is starting on Thursday. I will be gone all of 2009, hence I am physically blacked out from your lives, hence the term blackout. It is funny because 2007 seemed not so long ago, when I started BYU and everything, it has really flown by since then, and this past six 1/2 months have absolutely flown by. Those pictures were awesome! I kind of want you to send me the one of the family in front of the tree so I can put it in my album. Tomorrow we have zone conference, so we didn't get mail yesterday, which is annoying because I write letters today...but then get letters tomorrow that I could have responded to today. No, we are out working on New Year's Day and Eve, it isn't like la Navidad. The middle east situation sounds Second Comingish...also is everyone doing the prophetic challenge? In conference, President Monson asked us to pray for the areas of the world not open to missionaries, so we can preach the gospel there. Just a reminder. The death of Tobert Mulligan was a bit of a shock, but that still doesn't trump when you told me Bernie Mac died when I was in the MTC. Mom, don't worry about the garment thing, they are cotton polyester I think, but its all good, and I will start splurging on laundry. I splurged today and bought an American brand toothbrush. Oral B...only cost me 13 pesos. Elder Brett looks good, I wish there was cool places to take pictures in Castillo, but mostly I see dirt and dead dogs...just kidding, but I do have a story about that, we were walking in the street and saw a dog up ahead...then a black blur...then a crunching sound and yelping...then continual yelping and the poor dog squirming in the street until about 40 seconds later it died. The car didn't even slow down. We stood there and watched it as it tried to keep walking, but I think it broke the spine, then it died and we just kept walking...that is what the mission does to you...haha but no it was pretty sad.
So I guess you want to know how I felt after "the call" haha. I felt fine. I wasn't homesick or anything. Yeah, I probably could have talked to you all for a good 6 hours, considering I have done that with mom while I was at college, but the short call didn't put me in a bad place. I have a theory about homesickness. Homesickness isn't when you think about home, or want to be with your family. We are hardwired to want to be with family. Homesickness is letting that get in the way of what is more important, or letting it impede a more important progression...such as the SALVATION OF ALL MANKIND! So in short, no, the call didn't make me homesick, I smiled a lot after, and Elder Fox and I had a good time telling the other what our families said, but then the next day I was right back out to work, which brings me to my next point.
Yes, Elder González is senior companion, naturally, but basically I lead the area because he doesn't know anybody or anything in this area. Let's just say my first week leading the area was pretty boss. Not that I did it by myself, but there were a lot of miracles. We are currently carrying 4 indicators for the Estandarte, we did 28 lessons, found 16 new investigators, and did our 140 contacts, and that was with not working Monday, Tuesday, or Thursday. Monday was transfers, Tuesday p-day, and Thursday Christmas. Then the big news was after a 6 week drought of not having any investigators go to church (which is downright pathetic) we had three this past Sunday in Sacrament Meeting. Before you jump for joy though, they all have to get married because they are living in sin...haha...but seriously, nobody is married and it is just a bit frustrating. But still, I was pretty pumped up and thankful to Padre Celestial for blessing us so much this week. One of the people was some old man named Ramon, who is 74 years old, he has been living with his "señora" for 47 years, but they aren't married. He is still married to some woman from 49 years ago, but it cost too much money for a divorce, so he is waiting for the first wife to die, so he can marry the mother of his 6 children. Not too practical, but I admire his financial skills. When he showed up I told him I would take him into the Sacrament Meeting, and he grabbed my hand and said ¡vamos! he held my hand all the way to the pew, it was hilarious, and not to mention one of the best moments of my life. Then another woman there was Roxana, who has a set of twin daughters and another daughter. We found them on Wednesday, and they are already interested. The "husband" is too. Only Roxana came, to "see what it is all about" and really liked it, and we went by today to talk to her in passing to buy groceries and she canceled the appointment we had for tonight because she is taking her girls to mutual at the church...THATS WHAT I AM TALKIN BOUT ROXANA! Then we told her we would just meet her there and teach her in the chapel, with a member, and the Spirit, and the power and authority given us from God, also maybe cookies and dulce de leche. She said that would be fine, as long as it is Tapas cookies. Well time is up again, but I will be back to tell more next week. I am sending my memory card in the mail today or tomorrow as well, so be on the lookout for that. Elder Gonzalez and I made a Christmas present for you in the form of a video of us singing a Christmas carol. Enjoy that. I will tell more about him next week, I will just leave you with one of his characteristics...he is afraid of the dark...and that is not even a joke right now.
Love you all...and you, too.
P.S. no, don't send me Ensigns, we got them finally, my MTC teacher is in one of the conference report pictures, GO HNO. CONDE
CHRISTMAS DAY CALL
Sean called us at 12:30 p.m. on Christmas Day and we talked for 40 minutes. A funny story we wish to share with you happened a few days before Christmas. He and his companion were invited to a Peruvian family's house for dinner because they were moving back to Peru. They had a nice chicken dinner. After eating the chicken, the man of the house comes out with a big platter. There was an octopus on it. Sean said it was purple and didn't looked cooked. Only the tenticles looked fried. At first he was not going to try it, but ended up having some. He said it was very rubbery. He also said his favorite pastime on P-Day is to sit in the pench and relax in shorts. It is getting very hot in Argentina and thier pench has an air conditioner. Of course, the 40 minutes went by way too fast, but it was wonderful to speak to Sean. He sounded upbeat and happy. He didn't get invited to share Christmas Eve with any of the members, so they went back to their pench at around 9 p.m. on Christmas Eve. They did stay up until midnight and went out on their balcony to watch the fireworks. Some people were lighting fireworks across the street from them and some landed just about 10 feet from where he stood. Sean lives in a pench above a row of stores, so he really doesn't have any neigbors next to him.
Only 5 more months until the next phone call !!!
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Alright so first thing is first. Where am I typing from right now? Let´s just say that we all expected me to be leaving Castillo because of the fact that Elder Shields and I had already been together 3 months and I had more time in the area. Yesterday we had our big transfer meeting with the big powerpoint that shows all the transfers that makes it kind of suspenseful, but lets just say, I already knew what was coming. Nobody knows any of the changes until the meeting, unless you are going campo, which is the far country-side of our mission, which takes like 3-4 hours to get to. If you are going campo, they call you before so you can pack up and take your bags right to the meeting, because you leave right after to head out on the bus. Let's just say we got a campo call on Friday night from the zone leaders...but it wasn't for me...it was for Elder Shields! Elder Shields got bumped up to zone leader, and is the zone leader in Chivilcoy, which means I am here in my first area of Rafael Castillo for my fourth transfer. I will be leaving here on the next transfer meeting, which is Feb. 2nd...August 18th-Feb. 2nd...that is a 5 1/2 month stay in my first area. I wanted to leave...and when Elder Shields first got the call I was really bummed. The natural man got the better of me. I basically thought of every reason I wanted to leave, and every negative thing about my area, and it was weighing pretty heavy on my mind, even to the point that I thought my mission was trickling away while I was stuck in my first area, I mean, we have been working our tails off over here, like hard...but we had so little success in getting people to church and progressing, but I soon got over it the more I thought about it. I realized Satan was already trying to halt the work before the transfer even got started. Through a lot of prayer I received a lot of comfort and an assurance that it is ok, I am needed for another transfer in Castillo, and that there are a lot of good people here that we are preparing for baptism. Plus, with a new companion, it is like a rejuvination of the area, new energy, he doesn't know what happened last transfer, so I am determined to explode through the doors of this transfer and get to work. Basically, I can do whatever I want, because I know this area like the back of my hand. I threw my little temper tantrum and now I have repented and gotten pumped up again for the work.
Speaking of my new companion, he is Elder González, from Chile and he has been in the mission for 13 months, about to hit 14, he was in the last Estandarte for 4 indicators, so I assume he is a hard worker. He is doing pretty well with his English, so we will be learning a lot from each other. He just got finished training Elder Hinton, so I think he is excited to work with someone that understands the language a little better. He is a bit shell shocked it looked like, because Castillo isn't the prettiest place. Little does he know we live in the nice part, but his last two areas have been Campo in Junín, and Merlo. Junin is, from what I hear, the prettiest area, and Merlo is the richest... whereas Catán (my stake/zone) is the poorest in the mission. I don't know much about him yet, he just got here 2 hours ago, but he seems like a good elder.
Anyway, Christmas is coming rapidly, and it actually kind of cooled off here, but it is still hot...also, I already opened all of my presents haha, except the peanut brittle...I am saving that precious treat until Christmas morning. Elder González and I have decided to call home between 3 and 5 my time here, so it would be around 10 to 12 your time. That is good that you bought a card, Elder Shields told me that that is how he does it, has his parents call, but Elder Fox and others buy cards and just call on them, we are going to try and use the Bishop's office, which is what everyone usually does here, so I will use the card I am going to buy today, but if that doesn't work we can use yours, but I will be calling you first regardless. I wrote down the number. I got the pictures of the tree, looks good! but I didn't go to that elf link, we aren't allowed to click on links, it is a mission rule. Well, I could write little details about random stuff, but I only have five minutes left, and we will be talking to each other in 2 days. MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYBODY!!!!
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
We just got back from the mission party and it was pretty fun, but unfortunately P-day is just about over. I still have my full hour to type though, so you should get some good details on how the party was. I got the Christmas package yesterday, and everything was in it, it was sweet, obviously I already opened it. I also got Grandma Sherry's Christmas package, which I wasn't expecting, it had 2 ties, mango bars, a card with a note for 75 dollars for a car fund, slipper socks, and handkerchiefs. I got Grandma Wilma's letter last week asking what I wanted for Christmas, so just tell her I am fine, and that if she really wants to give me something just save something for my nest egg. Yeah I can't listen to that one CD, but I guess I will hold on to it for the next 18 months or something. The rule is it has to be MoTab or the hymns, so a lot of elders try to find any kind of motab cd that isn't hymns because it is like listening to worldly music...but still following the rules.
I have 6 months on Thursday! That is crazy, but I am still a youngin in the mission. Our AP Elder Stephens goes home this transfer, or in other words, next Monday, so everyone was talking today about who the new AP is going to be. Some elders get really into it, and actually make brackets and stuff. I did it last transfer, but it wasn't that fun, so I probably won't do it again. They told us that phone calls home are to be 40 minutes at the most, and haven't given us any more instruction, but the other elders said we just buy cards and call home on them, so I need to look around for a calling card place. I don't know what time I will be calling, but yeah...just stay by the phone all day? haha They want us to be in a members home on Christmas Eve, and if we aren't, we are to stay in the pench, because everyone is drunk then and on Christmas Day too. I am kind of bummed about that because I will have just gotten into my new area, so I won't really know anybody. Also, I am told that they don't really celebrate Christmas here like in the States, here it is more like 4th of July, at 12 on Christmas Eve night, fireworks go off like crazy, and supposedly you can't sleep at all, same on New Years...but I guess I will find out soon enough.
Alright, the other CDs in the package were SWEET!!! MoTab tribute to Disney?!?! I'm not sure there has ever been a better CD. The other Elders really liked their stockings too. I took a lot of videos of it, and of Thanksgiving too, so I think in a couple of weeks I am going to try and send my memory card home. Speaking of which, why didn't you guys put any pictures or videos on the memory card you sent me? I got all excited like it was going to have something, and then...no...thats ok though. I tried to send some pictures today already but I had bad luck and got a bad computer, so maybe next week. Next week I should be e-mailing you from my new area, if I leave Castillo, which I most likely will do. I don't know how I feel about leaving. I am pretty excited, because I just want to get to know more people and more areas, plus when I go to a new area the members aren't going to treat me like it is my first area and I don't understand anything. There are some members that still barely talk to me, even though I understand what they are saying, and Castillo is a bit of a hard area. Ciris was the first baptism here in about 6-7 months, and despite our hardest and best work and efforts, not many more are progressing here, so I wouldn't mind going to an area where they see a few more baptisms, but I just have a gut feeling that I am going to be sent to hard areas on my mission to teach me humility. We were told today that the mission this transfer already has 81 baptisms, with about 55 dates planned for this Saturday, so if all of those go through we will beat last transfer's record by one...if my math is right. Ciris is one of those 81! Also there are some areas in the mission getting like 9 baptisms a transfer, but we will see what happens on Monday.
Anyone ever heard of the mission Christmas Party today! I did, because I was there. They did a big slide show of all the pictures missionaries sent in, which was fun to see, and they gave us all a CD of the slideshow so I have it for memories. There were a lot of funny pictures, and a lot of pictures of dead dogs... We did a huge white elephant with the whole mission, and I got a fashionable pair of sunglasses...made for women...with decorative design and everything. One of the sister missionaries put it in the gift pool. So that was my white elephant gift from the mission. Needless to say I wore them all day, and I have pictures. Also, I put in a hot chocolate mug with the Boca Junior logo on it as the gift I was giving. (Boca Junior is that soccer team here in Buenos Aires) So after that, each zone did their own skit. We did one focusing on the focuses of the transfer. Charity, and Equilibrium in the Work, while throwing in a few jokes here and there, but the funniest one was Zone Castelar. They started out by having an Elder in PJs sing Where are you Christmas? from the Grinch, while the rest of the zone just hummed and swayed behind him. so it was funny because we really are looking for things that make us feel like it is Christmas, down here on the other side of the world, one could literally ask, "Where are you, Christmas? Why can't I find you?" It is way hot here and literally does not feel like Christmas, but not in a bad way, just different. Then about halfway through that, they had another elder dressed up as the Grinch come out and start to play fight with the PJ elder, while the whole zone broke out into a round of "You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch." It was pretty funny, also they got lucky and had a piano player in their zone that knew those songs somehow. So every zone had their little skit, then we ate some chicken and raviolis, heard a devotional by President, and got to watch some of the First Presidency devotional, but just President Eyring and Monson, for lack of time. It was in Spanish, but still really good. Then we came back and now I am here.
This past week I gave a talk in Church about missionary work, and working with the members. It was supposed to be me, Elder Shields, and our ward mission leader, but he is inactive, and didn't show up to church so the bishop just asked us to take up all the 50 minutes...psh...I wrote a 10 minute talk! Luckily they asked the Patriarch, who lives in our ward, to say a few words, and that left about enough time for 15 minutes for each of us, and I got up there and started mine, next thing I know they are handing me a note saying my time was up...i looked up at the clock and I had been up talking for 22 minutes haha, but hey...i had important things to say. Anyway, time is up, and we have to go. I love everyone, and thanks for the support and prayers coming my way.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Hey Mom and Dad,
Well, you probably just got a disappointing e-mail of me just being frustrated because my e-mail that I spent an hour on got deleted. What I am going to start doing is write my e-mail in Word,and then copy/paste so that if anything happens it is still in Word and I won't have to start over. Right when I clicked send, a window popped up saying my connection had timed out and the computer had experienced an error and had to log out. We all know the rest of the story.
So I am going to write the stories that were lost in the e-mail so you know what it is I intended to send, even though this will be about three weeks after the fact. I'm sorry to hear about Auntie Anne and all the mess, that is really too bad that her own son has decided to stoop that low and show what kind of man he is, but what is done is done I guess. I'm not sure what else we can do about that. It is comforting to know, though, that all that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
So I am looking through my journal for the stories I am going to write and I noticed I have almost filled up my journal. I have written one page everyday and if I continue doing that I will run out of pages on January 11th. So if another could be sent that would be great.
Alright, so I talked a little bit about how we got to go to the Capital on Wednesday, and I spent most of the e-mail talking about that. So Elder Sheilds had to get his in-grown toenail treated, so he called Hermana Benton, because she is over all the medicine and stuff in the mission. Well she told Elder Shields that he needed to call the Area Medical Advisor for all of Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, who happens to have his office in the Area Offices for the Church in downtown Buenos Aires. It was nice! We totally were right smack dab in the middle of the Capital. First, we had to take a Remis (taxi) from Castillo to Buenos Aires, but our driver got lost haha so we had to pull out a map and Elder Shields had to direct the guy around. Regardless, we were driving around the city for like two hours! I was LOVING it. It was like a little tour for us. There are cool statues and buildings everywhere. We didn't see the Casa Rosada or anything, but it was still really cool. So we finally find the Church offices and go in. Umm.... I thought we walked into the United States. It was like... a nice Church building... with nice Church artwork... and air conditioning. I seriously felt like we were sitting in Salt Lake City! Let's just say Elder Shields, made the statement of the trip when we were sitting in the lobby and he said... "This place makes me trunky." Haha, it totally did I'm not even going to lie. Not trunky like I want to go home, but trunky like this reminds me of home a lot. Anyway our Area Presidency is Shayne M. Bowen and his counselors Marcos A. Aidukaitis and Claudio D. Zivic, all of the Seventy, and we saw arrows going up some stairs to their offices. Unfortunately, we didn't get to drop in to say hi.
But we did drop into the doctor, Elder Peterson,he and his wife just started their senior mission here six weeks ago. They have lived in Spanish speaking countries for 5 years, and his wife still doesn't speak any Spanish at all. It was so funny! She was hilarious. Anyway, they had to give him some shots in his toe to numb it, and it looks pretty painful, and he looked like he was in pain, but the Sister kept snapping pictures of it haha. She took like 20! of his bloody toe. Maybe she has a blog or something. Anyway after that they gave us oreos! And then we left back to Castillo in a Church owned Remis, but the guy had the radio on to a station that played all ABBA music. I wasn't complaining haha it was sweet! ahem... I mean... I wish he would have played Mormon Tabernacle Choir.. or conference talks...
So that was the main story I told. The other ones I don't really remember what I wrote. It has been rainy here lately, but it is supposed to clear up today and tomorrow. So, hopefully, you weren't too bummed I didn't write a lot today. I was kind of bummed. It is a rule we have to write our families once a week, so it feels weird not to send a good long e-mail of what is going on. I will be in touch before you get this so talk to you next week.
Love you! Thanks for everything!
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Well, this week I am writing my email in Word so I can just copy/paste it after I am done, and then if anything happens I still have it waiting in Word to send again. No, I haven’t gotten your card with the pictures in it, but I am excited to. I have gotten everything else, so just keep using the same address you are using, the other one might be to President’s office or something, I don’t know. Yeah I got the picture in the email and yes you are allowed to do that haha. Also, after last week’s failed email I wrote you a letter home so hopefully that will help fill that email’s void.
Well we just got back from the temple and it was great! I understood so much better. I was sitting there listening, and I remember thinking to myself, “I can’t believe I am actually understanding this right now.” We took a bunch of pictures, but my battery died so I will send some next week, but let’s just say that there is one of Elder Sabey and I on the temple grounds that is just inspired, the beauty of it, I just can’t describe it. It was interesting because it was all of us elders, and then one Elder Walker, who just finished up in the Bahia Blanca mission, and his parents who just picked him up. So his mother was the only woman in the session, and they had to bring workers in to do the prayer part. But anyway, the parents had to have English headsets, and stuff, but the poor mom just couldn’t get things to go her way. Her headset didn’t work the first half of the session until they could find a replacement, then they almost started the session without their son in the room, then he finally came in, and they sat him in the back, when there were clearly enough seats for him up by his parents. The mother looked a little perturbed…but oh well. Everybody’s names are in the temple now. You can tell Grandma Sherry, I am still following her instructions of putting all the Aunts in there. I filled up a whole sheet hahaha, but hey, there are a lot of people I care about.
By the way before I forget, I have written one page in my journal every day since my first day in the MTC, which means I am filling up my journal pretty quickly. I counted the pages ahead and have come to the conclusion that I am going to run out of journal space on January 11th…in other words…I need another journal by January 11th please, or else the generations to come with never know of the miracles that occur January 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, …you get the picture. No, we didn’t get to see the Christmas Devotional, but I wanted to badly, and yeah we heard about Elder Wirthlin, he gave so many great talks! It is sad to see him go. We are STILL waiting around for the Conference Ensigns to make it to the mission. I hear that we usually get them about 2 months behind schedule, so maybe they are coming soon, but I have re-read my notes enough to where now I just want to be able to read the whole talk again. Mom! That sponsoring the three little girls thing sounds SW-EET!!! That is what I am talking about! Christmas Spirit all over the place! Also, it is good to hear that Dad’s building grand opening went well. I kind of want to take a little tour of it too. Also, I love that story from your mission, it makes me laugh. From what I hear, we can’t go out and work on Christmas because the whole country is going to be drunk. We haven’t heard much about calling home on Christmas, other than that I heard from the older elders that we only get 40 minutes on the phone, and I thought we were going to have an hour, but I guess not, so make sure you have some conversation topics you want to hit, and write them down, so we don’t waste time thinking about what we wanted to say. Everything is going well, and I am enjoying the last few weeks I have here in Castillo, I will most likely be moving on to my second area this transfer coming up. Love to everyone!
P.S. Lacey…what are you doing? It was sweet to get that e-mail from you, you sounded like you were doing well and I started laughing when you said the every flavor beans thing.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Oh my gosh, I just wrote a long email for an HOUR and it all got deleted just not even five seconds ago, because the Internet is a piece of junk and I hate it. I don’t even know what to do. I really don’t want to write another whole hour. Dang it…that really stinks…I am all flustered and don’t even remember what I wrote. So first, you don’t have to send the shorts, it was just a spur of the moment desire. Maybe for my birthday or something. We are going to the temple next week and I am excited about that. Then in two weeks is our P-day Navideño where we are all going to celebrate Christmas as a mission, that sounds like fun. So wow I just don’t even know what to write.
Sorry to hear about all the stuff going on. Everything is good with me here, I just wrote a few different stories, that I also wrote in my journal, so in two years you can read them in there. One was that we went to Capitál on Wednesday and it was really cool. Elder Shields had to get his ingrown toenail worked on by the area doctor who is headquartered in the Church Offices in Buenos Aires. It was really cool.
DANG IT I WROTE A REALLY GOOD EMAIL THIS WEEK and the stories were really good, and now I don’t have time to do them justice. Boo…I guess I will just write more next week. Sorry. I am just frustrated right now. Hopefully next week we have more luck. Sorry
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
I forgot to tell you I got the package, and am really excited to eat the Thanksgiving stuff, also I can't figure out how to get the pictures into a smaller format to send, hopefully you can figure that out. This is another picture of the baptism, and then one of Elder Fox and I sporting some soccer jerseys we bought of the Buenos Aires team. ¡Boca!
Hey, Hey Family and Friends,
First of all, this week could be labeled as the best week of the mission, and at the same time, the worst week of the mission. I, however, have labeled it the best week. First I'll tell you all the bad stuff that happened and finish it off with the baptism. Elder Shields and I got robbed this week! Haha looking back on it, it seems really stupid what happened, but at least I can say I was robbed in the service of the Lord. It was at 3 in the afternoon, and people were in the street and everything just watching it happen...it was kind of lame. So we are walking and all of a sudden some guy grabs Elder Shields from behind and is like, "I'm going to kill you!" Elder Shields like pushed him off real fast and we backed off and the guy was just screaming and shouting, demanding everything we had. He had a "gun" in his shirt pointed at us, but after about five seconds it was plain to see that it was only his finger in his shirt. So we told him we didn't have anything, but he was just out of his mind shouting, and started to go through my pockets. He found my keys, which he didn't take, and then checked my other pocket, where I actually had a couple of pesos, and somehow he didn't find them haha. Then he grabbed my planner, on which I taped a picture of Christ, and after he saw the picture of Christ he put it back HAHAHA that was the best part, they are really superstitious here. Then he checked our bags and found scriptures so he wasn't very successful. He kept screaming he was going to kill us, and so I finally said, "With what? Your finger?" hahaha he just stared at me, and I know realize I should have just kept my mouth shut, but he was annoying trying to act tough, he asked me if I was scared...what? I think I had just acknowledged the fact I wasn't scared by bringing to light the fact that I knew he didn't have a gun or anything, but i didn't say anything else. He ended up getting away with our watches, of which he will probably get 10 pesos for on the street. Big whoop!
Also, yesterday I almost died from sickness again. I woke up at like 3 in the morning and was throwing up really badly, then I couldn't get back to sleep, and threw up 2 more times before 6:30 rolled around. Needless to say, I wasn't able to go out and work. I tried to get ready later at about 9 but then threw up again. 4 times in 6 hours! I also had some experience with the burning ring of fire, if you know what I mean, hahaha Lacey, also a fever, so I had to stay in the pench all day and it was miserable. I used to think that it would be cool to hang out in the pench all day, but then when it actually happened it was lame. I wasn't feeling good so it was hard to even just read or study, and the whole time I felt bad that no work was getting done in our area. I feel a lot better today though, and am good to go for the rest of the week hopefully.
So the big news is the baptism went off without a hitch! I baptized Ciris Sever Caceres! Yeah he has a weird name, even for South America. All the members think his name is weird. It was just amazing! The service was great and the Spirit was so strong! The water was freezing cold but that was alright because it was hot outside. We had the service at 7 in the evening, and we had filled up the font half way that morning, and then were going to fill the rest up right before with warm water, but we got there an hour early and the hot water had been cut because some workers were out back working on it or something. The feeling of doing it was indescribable though. When I watched him as I put him down into the water and come back up clean from all his sins, I felt like everything has been worth it. All the hard days, the bad lessons, the hard headed people, the frustration, all of it, everything that could be looked at as negative in the past five months, washed away with his sins. I just felt an overwhelming peace, like I would welcome the frustration for more feelings like that. He was confirmed on Sunday, by one of the counselors in the bishopric. It was great!
So as you can see, I got a picture uploaded and sent! Hopefully it gets to you. It takes about 10 minutes just to upload one, so sorry I am not sending more, but I will start sending a few with each email. It takes up my writing time to upload them. Also, Elder Fox has sent his memory card back and forth to his house his whole mission and has never had a problem, and what he and his family do, is they take videos and then send the card with a bunch of videos, and then Elder Fox watches them, and fills up the card with pics and stuff and sends it back, just an idea. I guess the mail is pretty safe for memory cards. Also, I though of something else you could send for Christmas, some USC shorts. You don't have to haha I just was thinking it would be fun to rep USC against Elder Fox's Utah shorts, since my BYU ones are now disgraced. I can't believe they lost. Anyway, sorry this is shorter than usual, but my time is already up, hope you enjoy the pictures!
Love you all
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Hey Saints of Zion
I turned five months old in my mission today! Boy how the time is flying, no? Also more good news...Ciris is getting baptized on Saturday! Woo! Let's hope everything works out and things run smoothly so he can have a great service he will remember for the rest of his life. I also have to type fast because I wrote half of this e-mail and then I accidentally clicked out of it and now have to start over. Anyway, this week has been AWESOME! We are really starting to enjoy success at every turn. We have been really working hard to establish a good size pool of investigators that will progress, and we are starting to see it come to pass.
First, it has been amazing to see the Spirit guiding us in the area. You always hear those stories of missionaries who are lead by the Spirit directly to a house of a person prepared to hear the gospel, well hate to break it to you, but it isn't always like that. A lot of days you are just trying to find anyone who will listen. BUT...I totally was led right to someone this week. Ok, so there are little corner shops everywhere that are called Kioscos, and they sell snacks, and other kinds of stuff, well there is one like two blocks away from our pench. Anyway, we walk by there a lot and there is always this old lady sitting inside who smiles and waves, but this week when she did it I kept getting the feeling we needed to go in there, but we were always in a hurry, so we kept walking. Long story short, I have been bugging Elder Shields to go in there, so we finally did and bought some alfajors and started to talk with the lady, turns out sister missionaries used to teach her and she wants to be taught again, and her niece who works in the store with her told us she is interested to because she wants a family and to find a man with high standards, and wants her family to mean something and have a purpose...good thing that is EXACTLY WHAT OUR CHURCH FOCUSES ON!!!!! This might not sound like a great story, but you have to realize there are like 100 kioscos in our area, and to just feel like we needed to go into that one was a cool feeling. Elder Shields after we walked out the first time said, "Elder, THAT WAS STRAIGHT INSPIRATION!" We were pretty excited.
Also, we just found a lady yesterday, Carmen, that told us she was thinking about coming to our church but didn't know what time it started, and it was a cool story how we found her. The night before we were planning and Elder Shields was like, I think we should go by some former investigators, so we pulled out the area book and there are like 40 former teaching records, so he looks through them, and chooses one, and turns out that the person moved a long time ago, but now Carmen lives there. She has been praying for God to send someone to help her, because she was being visited by evil spirits, and she said that she was going to kill herself by jumping in front of a train, but realized it was Satan tempting her, so she has been praying for help. So we taught her and are going to bring her to church, and she wants to go to Ciris' baptism too, and we did a blessing on the house.
Then there is Dornata. We just found her clapping doors, and taught her, she didn't say very much, but at the very end she said, "I dreamt last night you would come today." She wants to come to the baptism too. Also, just a cultural note, people here take dreams very seriously. Everybody has them, I don't know why...in fact Ciris had a dream about the Book of Mormon being true, and that’s what decided it for him. It is kind of hard though, because some people say they feel a burning in their chest when they pray about the Book of Mormon, but they don't know if it is true because God hasn't sent them a dream...WHAT! We constantly have to teach that dreams aren't the only ways God can answer you, and that usually it will be through your feelings.
Last story, we have been focusing on Ciris' family, because his mom is a member, he is soon to be, but his 2 younger brothers aren't and his dad isn't either, but the dad's mom is. Anyway, we have been trying to get in to teach the dad but the mom is always like, no he is duro(hard) he doesn't like the church no no no no no no...but yesterday we found him alone and he let us in. He is sweet! He told us that they are all going to Ciris' baptism because it is important for the family to support one another, and then we told him about the Confirmation on Sunday, and he said..."Bueno, vamos a ir entonces...bien temprano." Or in English, "Alright, we are going to go then...good and early." He was sweet! Oh yeah and I forgot...HE READS THE BOOK OF MORMON EVERY NIGHT! This guy has GOT to get baptized. The only reason he doesn't is because he doesn't like to be obligated to do things, and he thinks God has a time for everything, including when he needs to be baptized...so we told him to pray and ask when his time is...hint: now! At least the whole family is coming to the baptism, which will be good for Ciris, and also, we have been told that it is great to have investigators at baptisms because it is a planned appointment with the Spirit. The Spirit IS going to be there.
I am loving my mission more and more every second, especially as I learn to recognize and follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit. I hope everyone is doing well. Tomorrow is Zone Conference, so we didn't get mail yesterday, but I will probably get the package tomorrow. Elder Fox's comp is Elder Gonzalez from Paraguay, and he is a stud, he already speaks pretty good English, kind of, if you talk slow to him, but he wants to go to BYU after his mission so he is studying hard to get the church program certificate thing that lets him go free of charge. Thanks for everything.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Well, the results are in, I am in Castillo for another six weeks, and Elder Shields is staying with me. Elder Marchello got transferred to Moreno, and Elder Fox is going to be a Papi! He will be training a new Elder that is flying in today, so I am not going to be the youngest elder in the pench. Ciris came to church this week, so if he comes one more time I am putting him in the water. The problem is, is that he finds out on Thursdays if he is going to have to work on his school project on the weekend, so send some prayers his way. We told him he can start preparing to serve a mission, and he said he wants to. So we asked him where he would want to go and he says, "Wherever God sends me..." We just started laughing at him, and tried to pry an answer out of him, finally he just smiled and kind of said under his breath, "....England..." Haha it is so amazing how prepared he is to accept and live the gospel.
Something crazy happened at transfer meeting though. President is opening up a new area in the mission, and the two who are opening it are Elder Ilief, who is from southern Argentina, Patagonia region, and also supposed to go home tomorrow, and Elder Lopez, from Brazil...Brazil region...who is starting his last transfer. So Elder Ilief accepted an extension, and Elder Lopez came down from the Zone Leaders to both go out there and end their missions opening an area where nobody knows who the missionaries are. That would be SWEET!!! Also, last transfer (my first) the mission had 66 baptisms, and the focus has been to duplicate baptisms, so we go to transfer meeting, and the APs tell us that we have set a new record for baptisms in the mission, the old record was 130, set like a year ago or something, and this transfer we reached 135! We totally duplicated from last transfer! and we broke the record! Everybody was cheering and clapping...but I felt like an idiot haha because we didn't contribute to that number at all, but whatever. Also, President Benton set the new goal at 186 for the transfer we just started. The Lord will provide a way, or else he wouldn't have asked us to duplicate our baptisms by next year.
Anyway, I couldn't think of anything I want for Christmas, as usual, but I mean it can't be that hard. Socks, garments, Motab Christmas cds, Motab Showtime, cool ties (ok so there is a big confusion about ties, what are flashy and what aren't, and I have come to the realization that just because the tie is a power tie, does not mean it is flashy, I can wear nice ties that look fashionable) other than that I really don’t know what you could send. Eating with Elder Shields' uncle last week was cool. We thought we were going to capital, but ended up just eating in Ramos Mejia where the offices are. I ate some good steak and ribs, it was so good. His uncle was a nice guy, and teaches an Argentine History Class at BYU that I will probably look into when I get back.
Dad's trip sounded good, and that is crazy about the protests, and yes we heard about the elections from everyone. Everyone wants our opinion on it here, but we just brush it off and talk about the gospel. Anyway, that’s cool we could break that race barrier, and hopefully things work out in the country, I will be sending prayers in behalf of the Obama family, but it’s funny how before coming here I loved talking politics and watching that kind of stuff, and now in the work, it doesn't interest me at all, and I could care less who would have won, because there is Someone more important than any other, guiding me in His work. It has really put things in perspective, that the Savior should be the number one purpose, focus, and person in everyone's life.
Well to end, I have something to say to Grandma and Mom. It is interesting how just this morning I was reading some old conference talks (because that is what I do for fun in my free time now haha) and I read a GREAT one by Elder Wirthlin. It is from the October 2006 conference, and called "Sunday Will Come". As soon as I read it I thought of Grandpa and Grandma, and how she is doing without him. Elder Wirthlin relates his own experience of losing his wife and how he is dealing with it. It really is a message of hope and I was really edified by it. I love the analogy he uses of the Savior's death and Resurrection. And how the time between death and the resurrection is a dark one for those who have lost loved ones, but oh how great the joy will be when we are together again as a family. Let's live worthy to have that great opportunity guys. Let's make sure that we will get to live together forever. I encourage everyone to read it.
I love you,
P.S. I bought a new camera today! It is a Kodak M1063, and seems pretty good. It has 10.3 megapixels and all the gadgets, and I don't need batteries for it, it charges in the wall. It cost 800 pesos, which seems like a lot, but when I looked at a few different stores, most other ones of that caliber were costing over 1000. So I am happy with that, thanks mom and dad, that could be my Christmas present if you want.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Hey Fam and Friends, and other people who read this blog...
No, Dad, we can't use our backpacks, so don't send a camelback, and no I haven't used that filter water bottle because I don't have a backpack to carry it around in during the day. I had to buy a little one strap bag from the mission to just carry scriptures and some folletos in. Also, folleto means pamphlet...or whatever that English word is. And that picture in the Estandarte will be my picture for the end of time. They take it the day you arrive, and if all goes well we should be in there this transfer for 3 indicators...which really isn't that hard to do, I don't know why more missionaries aren't in that thing.
Well, not to start out on a negative note, but I almost threw away my white pants this week because I figured I am never going to baptize anyone, but then I realized that I am only in my second transfer. Ciris MISSED church again, ahhh so baptism is cancelled. All he had to do was come to stake conference, on a FREE shuttle the church paid for...come on...haha no its all good. I was disappointed, but Elder Shields cheered me up. The thing is, people say, oh well you are planting seeds, or, baptism isn't a sign of success. Well I'm not some gardener out here people, I'm not here to plant seeds, I am here to baptize, and the seeds being planted are just a natural consequence of the work we do. The field wouldn't be white already to harvest if we were still planting seeds. Anyway, at least in this mission, I have only met one missionary who HASN'T had at least one baptism every transfer...and I am going on three without one. But then Elder Shields told me that Elder Hill, who is awesome, and I really look up to him as an example, didn't have a baptism until his 4th transfer, and I feel a lot better. Anyway, the negative is behind me, I feel better and am excited for next transfer.
So we went over to Ciris' last night to see what happened on Sunday, and he said he had to do his school project again...I just can't stay mad at him...he is awesome. He showed us his project and the kid is a dad gum genius architect kid. He had his whole room covered in blueprints he has made up for all different kinds of buildings. It was sweet. Also, when we first met him he said he wants to be a Pastor...obviously with a little construction business on the side... Anyway, Elder Shields kind of let me take charge a little bit in the lesson, and by that I mean, I prepared a little something in my mind while walking the streets that day. So I taught Ciris all about how there is going to come a time in your life where you are going to have to choose between right and wrong, for example, baptism, and Satan is going to do every single thing possible to stop you, and that I wouldn't be surprised if something came up the next couple of weeks on Sunday, and he is going to have to choose, and when we choose we show two people two things. We show God that we don't have the faith the follow Him, and we show Satan that we will give in to the temptations that he throws at us, which just gives him more power over us. I was really feeling it, and the Spirit was really strong. Anyway, we reset the date for a couple weeks from now, and we will see what happens. Also, I have decided that I am not going to tell you every single date we set for baptism because it is lame when every email I have to tell you that dates fell through. So from now on, it will just be like, I AM HAVING A BAPTISM THIS SATURDAY, all of a sudden.
Also, it was stake conference this week, and it was GOOD. Too bad Ciris wasn't there to see it. President Benton was there and spoke and got all the members fired up to get involved in the work. Then the temple president spoke, who is from the United States, but sounds Latin, and it was by far my favorite talk. It sounded like a General Authority up there. He talked about how he imagines a congregation like ours, sitting in a room all dressed in white in Spirit Prison, learning to understand the ordinances so they can accept them when their work is done, and every time a baptism is done in the temple, the door from Prison to Paradise opens, and all the spirits in Prison see Paradise, but only one gets to leave. He ended like this, "How great the joy in Prison is when that door opens, and how great the misery is when it closes again." It was really powerful and reminded me that I am out here doing work for the living, but it is every member’s job to be doing the work for the dead, because they are waiting with baited breath for that door to open for them to walk through.
So today is kind of special. President Benton called Elder Shields last week sometime and told him that his uncle, who is a BYU professor or something, is in Buenos Aires, and that he is going to let him go to lunch with him today in Capital. So...naturally...as his companion who has to be with him at all times...I am going to lunch in Capital today! Kind of takes up some of my P-day, but WHO CARES. This is going to be sweet! I am pretty excited about it. Also, I think there is some special reason President is allowing this, but I don't know, because I am pretty sure that just because family comes you can just go out and eat with them...don't get any ideas family.
So I will end with one more story. This whole transfer, our companionship is the only one in the whole zone who has done at least 20 contacts every day for the whole transfer, and the promise given by Elder Ballard of the Twelve to missionaries is that if each Missionary does 10 a day their baptisms will double, because they will find the elect of God. So we have really put our faith in that, and we're not doubting, but wondering, when our baptisms would duplicate, well we still don't know, but we are finding higher quality investigators it seems. People who are keeping more commitments. For example, we taught this one woman yesterday who we contacted last week and set an appointment. Her name is Bernarda and seemed interested. Anyway, we teach her, and she is giving like all the right answers to our questions, as if she had been taught by us before or something, so we ask her, and she says she way being taught about 6 months ago but the Elders stopped coming by, and thanks to our incomplete area book we had no record of her. Anyway, we tried to give her a book of Mormon and she says she has one already...not only that she has been reading every night...she is in Mosiah! She has just been reading with not contact from the church. Her exact words, "I read and pray and meditate, and I know it is from God, it is SACRED to me." YOU BET YOUR FRIED EMPANADAS AND POMELO SODA IT IS! We tried to give her a fecha, but she said she needs to pray and meditate about that too...which is alright with me, because I know the answer she is going to get. Anyway, I think next transfer is going to be sweet. Transfer meeting is on Monday, so hopefully I am staying in Castillo to see the fruits of all our labor.
P.S. I am going to go camera shopping next week, so thanks for the money in the account, it should be about 700 to 800 pesos for a good one, Elder Shields said, so there is plenty in the account. Love you!
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
So our three fechas dwindled down to one this week. Ciris is the only one who came to church, because it was Dia de la Madre, and the others wanted to stay home. So we might be able to baptize them next transfer, but Ciris is the only one of the brothers who will have enough church assistance to be baptized the 8th. So we were walking in the street on our way back from Ciris' house and Elder Shields was like, "He is going to be your first convert, right?" I said yeah, so he replied, "Ah yeah! You gotta be the one to baptize him!" So that is pretty sweet, my boss senior comp is going to let me be the one to actually baptize him. I heard there are a lot of senior companions that take advantage of having young companions, making the excuse, oh well you are going to have a lot more opportunities, so I am pretty excited for that.
Sorry if this spoils your fun, but Lacey already told me in an e-mail that you had TAYLOR MORRIS FOR DINNER!!! How sweet is that? Did he sing for you? Send me a tape of him singing!!!! Just kidding, but seriously...He was my executive secretary! Also I saw him in the MTC right before I left. Also I am glad to hear that you are going on splits with the Elders, Dad. I didn't realize how much the members move the work forward. There is a statistic in our mission that like 65 percent of member references gets baptized. Everybody's homework is to start to get to know your neighbors and build friendships with them, and then present them to the missionaries. In our conference with Elder Nelson, we were told that there are hundreds if not thousands of people in EVERY area of EVERY mission who are ready to hear the gospel and be baptized. So why are some areas harder than others? Because the missionaries don't have the support of the members, not just in feeding them and loving them, but in working with them.
So we went on splits with the Zone Leaders this week, because Elder Shields is district leader, so we do it twice a transfer (WOAH that song that’s like Everybody hurts, and Everybody cries, that Dwight from the office sings in his car is playing right now in the internet cafe...I am laughing out loud while typing and attracting strange looks from Argentines...) anyway...so I was on splits with Elder Woodmansee from Oceanside, CA and we were with a menos activo family, and by menos activo I mean less active...and we were starving, and she comes out with like some crackers no mas. So we eat them, and Elder Woodmansee is like, oh my gosh I need more, so he asks her the most brilliant thing I have ever heard. "¿Hermana, como se hace tortas fritas?"(Hermana, how do you make scone like treats?)BRILLIANT!!!!! She then puts on a little demonstration and we eat the spoils of it! I need to remember that one.
So we also had interviews with President Benton, which were only supposed to last 15 minutes, but mine lasted 45...he was dropping the cane the whole time. Just kidding, we were just sitting in there swapping stories and it was pretty sweet just getting to know him a little better. He told me that Elder Shields and that the Zone Leaders said I am doing really well with the language. Both Zone Leaders said that I speak way better than they did when they got here. Elder Pollock, my zone leader last transfer, said that I speak better than any new elder he has ever heard in the mission. Then a member from the stake high council visiting last Sunday thought I had like a year in the mission already. Not going to lie, at first it made me feel really good, but now it is getting kind of awkward. You know when people just don't stop complimenting you and it gets a little over the top, yeah I don’t like it, so I have decided to mess up on purpose, just kidding. But seriously, I still have so much to learn, it isn't even funny.
Well, it has been super hot here, but today was a huge hail storm and it is still raining, so it cooled down today. Also, Elder Fox and I have decided we have never heard more random news than Tampa Bay being in the World Series...also get it together Colin Powell!
Love from another continent,
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
First off, I got your packages on Wednesday the 8th because District meeting was moved to Wednesday, so it took a little over a week. The other elders all send their thanks for the treats you sent them. By far the highlight was the orange hot chocolate, it was so good. Suggestion, the kool-aid is cool, but a couple of the packets broke on the trip and the powder crystallized and got sticky, and so everything in one of the boxes was all sticky and nasty, but its all good, still appreciated. If you feel like sending another package...haha...i have some requests. A new better camera. Mine is decent, but it always takes blurry pictures, and i might have some baptisms coming up, and I want nice pictures of it. 2. Can you send a little calendar that I can hang up. Elder Shields has a sweet mini calendar of the temples, and i have found that a calendar is useful in trying to plan meetings and stuff like that, whatever, if you can find just a small calendar to hang up. That’s it for now. Thanks!
Ok so Elder Russell M. Nelson was BOSS!!!! I got to shake his hand, and his wife's, and Elder Shayne Bowen of the seventy, who is our area president. They all addressed us, and it all was awesome. Elder Nelson just did a question and answer session, and turned it into this huge boss lesson. Someone asked about marriage or something, and he was like, "Let me refer you to the Conference Talk I gave 8 days ago..." It was pretty funny. He was saying how only covenants with the Lord are honored on the other side of the veil, and people who don't make those covenants and think they will be with their husbands and wives on the other side, "are in for a bit of a shock"...get married in the temple kids...Anyway a few little questions like that were asked and finally he stopped the session and said this, "Ok, enough with those questions. I perceive that someone here has been fasting and praying for two days now that I would answer the question they have. Would you please stand and ask, don't be shy, I'd love to help you answer it." There was dead silence, and like a shockwave of the Spirit went through the room. In my mind I thought, HE JUST RECEIVED STRAIGHT REVELATION THAT SOMEONE IS FASTING FOR HIM TO ANSWER THEIR QUESTION!!! Nobody moved...he just stood up there with hands folded and waited. It was one of the most definitive moments in my life; I don't think I will ever forget it. The Spirit was so strong, finally in the front of the chapel a sweet sister missionary stood up. Elder Nelson smiles, "Ah, there you are." HOLY SMOKES!!!!!! I'm telling you, I don't know how to describe how I was feeling in that room. I was with an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the joy I felt was indescribable...spell check that for me...The hermana's question was that she loves her mission more than anything else, and has no other desire but to serve the short time that is asked of her, but she was born like 30 minutes away in the South mission, and got called to the West mission. So she asked, "The Lord knows I live 30 minutes away, so why did he send me here?" Elder Nelson, "Now that is unusual. But I tell you, The Lord uses the unusual to accomplish the impossible! You are here to do something that would be absolutely impossible for anybody else but you, and that is why you are here." He promised that it is the same way for all of us, and to cast away any doubts we have about our calls, because through us the Lord will accomplish the impossible. It was amazing! He went through the scriptures and used examples, with the climax of the lesson being Christ of course, and how the impossible was used to bring the Son of God into the world. He was like, "We all know it is impossible for a virgin to have a child, but through the miracle of Mary's conception, the most important part of the Plan of God commenced." It was just a great day.
So we have been working our tails off trying to find investigators to get baptized this transfer, but we haven't found anyone, and I was thinking, oh my gosh nobody here wants to listen to us. Elder Shields, who I get along great with, said this has been his hardest area so far, because no one lets us in to teach it seems, yet we are still meeting the mission standard of at least 10 new investigators a week. Anyway, Sunday night we got into the house of this old lady, Cecilia, 86 years old...I am telling you she is the Argentine version of Auntie Anne. Mannerisms, looks, the way she talks (except in a foreign language), all of it. I was loving it, it was kind of funny. I told Elder Shields when we left we are going to baptize that old lady!
But the great story of the week. The Lord is really directing His work, even if His missionaries, especially me, are hard-headed morons. So like in Week one of the transfer we contacted this lady in the street who said she got baptized in Paraguay and now lives here with her family, and she gave us her address and we gave her the address to the chapel. Haven’t seen her since, and we forgot to pass by. This past week a lady from Castillo 2 stops us in the street and gives us a reference saying she has some family who wants to hear from us, so we pass by last night to this address in the most dangerous part of our area in the muddy muck at like 8 at night, not usually the smartest thing to do, and we even considered forgetting about it and leaving, but we decided we were close anyway might as well go. So we show up, and it is the lady we contacted 2 weeks ago, and she has 3 sons 18, 15, and 11 who all want to get baptized, and she really wants them to too. Ceres, Juan, and Luis respectively. So we gave them the date of the 8th of November, and they all accepted. Please pray for them to stay strong, I don't want to get too excited, but they seem excited for it. Ceres, the 18 yr old, wants to be a preacher, but I told him, Forget Preacher, you can be a Missionary like us, preaching the word of God for two years nonstop! He said these exact words, "You can count on me." Woo!!!! I hope they stay strong. So that is interesting that the Lord had to send us hints to pass by there twice because we completely ignored the first one, because we were completely focused in our own work, and not the Lord's. ¡Entonces, seguimos asi con tres fechas!
Thanks for everything, everyone. Love you!
PS. Argentinean daylights savings time is this weekend so we lose an hour
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
So I will start with the illness story. Last Monday was Transfer Meeting, where all the Elders in the whole mission go to Ramos Mejia (the offices) and we have like a huge meeting. The leaving Elders speak and the AP's speak, and President and Hermana Benton. Then there is like a huge slide show and it shows all the new companionships, it is pretty fun because everyone like oohs and aahs at everything. Especially when it shows who is going to train the new elders. But anyway, I left there feeling like a million bucks. We eat pizza for lunch and head out to work some more. At about 7:00 at night I was dying. I had a full body fever...like my entire body was on fire...seriously. So we went by la Hermana Romero and she found out I wasn't feeling well...probably because I was about to pass out on her table. So she asks what I ate that day. I told her "pizza no mas". She asked where I got the pizza, and I THOUGHT it was our usual place. But no, Elder Torres said he got it from a street vendor because it was cheaper...what? IDIOT!!! haha so we found out the cause, and she starts making this weird lemon drink to give me. So it is this herbal lemon steaming hot drink...like burning my throat, and she is giving me random pills to take at different times of drinking this thing, and all I can think is what the Health Guy in the MTC told us, NEVER TAKE MEDICATION FROM MEMBERS!!! But, I was dying, and she reminds me a lot of Karen McCann except shorter and will smaller hair, so I trusted her. ;) Love ya Karen! Anyways the stuff worked wonders...in seriously 15 minutes I was back on my feet and feeling 100 %! It was VOODOO MAGIC!!!! I do not know what in the world was in that stuff, but I felt better so quickly. Then when I woke up the next morning on p-day I felt like crap again, but I slept for like 5 hours and felt better, and I have been better ever since. So basically I was sick for like the 8 hour window I had to email you. But, it’s done now; I am doing great physically and spiritually so no worries.
Umm...anyone ever heard of General Conference? oh you have? yeah it ROCKED!!!!! We were allowed to go if we had investigators there, and let’s just say, Heavenly Father really blessed me this week, especially because I am senior companion for 2 weeks until Elder Shields learns the area, anyway, I was blessed to not send Castillo 1 into apostasy under my direction, and I got to go to EVERY session! I was so happy! Also, not only that, but for missionaries that have spent less than a year in the mission, they set up an English room, so I got to watch in the language of the restoration: English.
I don't know if it was just this conference, or because I am a missionary, but there were some canes being dropped all over the place. It is interesting that the more in tune you are with the Spirit the more you get out of conference, because the Apostles are speaking with the power of the Holy Ghost, so the more you have the spirit the more you understand the message they are delivering. Holy Cow they were coming down on the people, calling for some serious repentance, with love of course. We were laughing because it seemed like every talk they were telling the church in Argentina what they are doing wrong. Example: Elder Oaks giving that talk on Sacrament Meeting. The people here needed to hear that. No texting! No wearing flip flops! Dress appropriately! Everyone here wears jeans to church. He said something like "it is sad to see people come the Sacrament Meeting to renew their covenants to remember Christ always, and in the same meeting see them breaking that covenant." WOAH! I like how he said Sacrament Meeting CAN be a spiritual experience, it doesn't have to be, and he said going to Sacrament Meeting is as sacred as going to the Temple...wow great talk! Also Elder Nelson dropping the cane about marriage! Haha it was insane! He said, "Marriage is a divine commandment! It is a gift from God, and when we reject a gift, we reject the Giver of the gift." WOAH! Who has the gumption to reject God? not me, I am getting married! Also, Dad, dang did you hear Elder Scott in the Priesthood Session, he said, "Imagine we are having a personal priesthood interview...If you feel uncomfortable about any of the questions I asked, the time to repent is now!" and then he just stared into the camera for like 5 seconds...5 seconds of silence and him staring into the camera...HOLY SMOKES!!! it was intense, and I was loving every minute of it. Also, the women talks dominated this Conference. The sister that gave that talk on Virtue! That was the best talk I have ever heard in my life. Also, that morning in personal study I had just read that part of the Book of Mormon about Lehonti coming down off the mount and being poisoned by degrees, so I felt cool. Elder Bednar has made my prayers so much better. He said to try and say a prayer without asking for anything, only giving thanks. It really makes you feel good to only tell Heavenly Father what you are thankful for, and helps you realize how much He blesses us. I really liked Elder Holland's talk on angels, too. So deep! I loved how he said angels aren't only beings on the other side of the veil, because it made me think of mom so much. I just think back on all my experiences in my life, and all the help mom has given me, and some of those experiences I can't think of any possible way I could have gotten through it without her, including, but not limited to, being born...haha. but seriously, thanks mom for everything, I love you so much, you are my angel! Alma 56:48
Anyways, it’s about time to sign off. Quick baptism update, we lost both our fechas because they don’t have enough times at church, so back to square one, but I feel good about the work I am doing, so I know I am doing what the Lord wants me to do, and if I don’t get any baptisms my whole mission so be it, even though, everyone else is getting a lot of baptisms...there is a lot of stress and pressure in the mission, but this transfer I realized that it is a satisfying stress if the stress comes from wanting God's children to progress to return to Him, and not just stress about having outward success to be able to tell people about. I love my mission, I love this Church, and I can't see any way that it can't be the Kingdom of God. Thank you all for the prayers!
Con todo el amor que esta en mi corazon,
Ps. there is a sweet techno song playing in the internet cafe right now and I guess I was bobbing up and down subconsciously to it, because Elder Fox just started laughing at me...don’t be hatin...Peace be the Journey, Cool Runnings
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Love everyone, we have 2 dates for baptism.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
First, President Benton made his first changes. Investigators now only have to attend church 3 times instead of 4, so that has a lot of Elders excited. It doesn't seem like much, but trust me, if there is one thing I have seen in this work it is that Satan only needs one day to completely change a person's mind about the gospel. Also, the rule for general conference is that we are supposed to go to priesthood and Sunday morning, and if we want to go to any others we have to bring investigators. Also, our stake center is like 50 minutes away by bus...so I doubt investigators are going to be filling the buses to go. I think General conference is a great way for people to learn about the church, because it is straight teaching from the prophet and apostles...but at the same time...IT IS STRAIGHT TEACHING FROM THE PROPHET AND APOSTLES AND I DONT WANT TO MISS IT! Thus...I have made a goal to fire up our investigators about hearing from the Prophet and Apostles so I can go as much as I can.
Also, anyone ever heard of Elder Russell M. Nelson, of the Quorum of the Twelve? Oh yeah, him...also he is coming to our mission on October 13th! A memo went out to everyone saying to be in a certain chapel near the capital by a certain hour to hear him speak to just our mission. Everyone is pretty excited about that...also me...I am excited.
I just got back from the temple, and it was sweet! We obviously did the session in Spanish, but I understood a lot of it, mainly because I remember it in English. It was funny though because it is all in ye and thee and thy so it is in the vosotros form in Spanish, which nobody uses in normal talk here, except I have been told those crazy Spaniards use it up in Continental Europe...and I say continental Europe because some countries, such as Argentina, are a part of Europe, just not continental Europe. It is true; ask anyone here, they will say they are European, but maybe only because I am so close to
Today on the way to the Temple we had to switch buses in Laferrere, Elder Sabey's area, where he had a baptism last week woo hoo, and I saw my first McDonalds in the country, and let me tell you, it was MASSIVE! It was seriously bigger than any fast food restaurant I have ever seen, it had like 2 floors and a balcony and stuff, it was sweet!
Also, Grandma Wilma is winning the contest of who sends me the most written mail. Her prize is being mentioned right now as the person who sends me the most written mail. Tell her sorry she hasn't gotten anything from me yet, but last week I didn't write anybody because of zone activity, and I also have to go find somewhere that sells envelopes because I ran out, but she will get something soon. Also, I still haven't gotten something from Grandma Sherry, but once you get down there mom and set up her new computer I'm sure I will get some things. Regardless, I am going to write both of them this week.
No there are no museums to go to here in Castillo. It isn't very...developed...at least the part I am in. There are 3 wards here, and I only walk around one, so I don’t know, and unless we get permission we can’t leave our areas on P-day, so we can't just go into the city for a day of sight-seeing haha.
So the members don't give us a lot of references, but I hear when they do they almost always end up in baptisms. We try to get references all the time, but the members always say they will look around or think about it. Anyway, this past week we received like 5 references so that was neat. Also we have one investigator with a fecha.(date for baptism) His name is Martin, and he was a reference from the Romero family. He lost his wife, and was really receptive to the Plan of Salvation. Also, he knows the Bible cover to cover, like seriously, he is the bomb. So we gave him a Book of Mormon, and the next appointment asked if he read it...no...why?...my niece stole it...what?...she stole it...why?...I don’t know, she was curious so she started reading it, and she really likes it and wants you to start teaching her too...umm, let me think, PSSSHHHH Take 10 copies of the Book of Mormon and hand them out to your family to see if they like it!!!! IT WAS SWEET! Also, his baptism is set for Oct. 25. We ran into him yesterday on the street and asked if he read...yeah, the whole thing...WOOO! He is a stud...except he is a bit confused...he somehow got it mixed up that Lehi is Levi...as in one of the sons of Israel...and he thinks that the Book of Mormon is the story of what happened to the tribe of Levi when the tribes were scattered....so yeah, kind of need to straighten that out with him, but geez he read the whole thing in 4 days!
Also, it is funny how I am mistaken for different nationalities all the time. I have been called Canadian? English, and my favorite just this past week, Russian? Some guy asked if I was from
P.S. Will someone in this country please get married!
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
I forgot to tell you that the President of Argentina was here this week, on our street in front of our apartment! It was crazy! We weren't allowed to leave because it was just a mob of people, Elder Fox and Elder Marchello got a video of her, but I was out on the other side of town and wasn't allowed to come back near the apartment so I didn't see her, but it was big news, also she has no last name...she is just...Cristina...I don't know much else about her though, but that was kind of interesting and fun.
love ya bye
It has gone by way fast, and I have come to ask one question from all my experience so far...umm...when do I become fluent? Haha seriously, I understand a whole lot more then when I first got here, but still have so much to learn. However, I marked a major milestone this week. I was sitting in a member's home talking with a little boy, and the mom asked me something, and I responded without looking at her or anything. Like, I recognized she was talking to me and understood and answered her while playing with the little boy the whole time. I CAN MULTI-TASK IN SPANISH!!!!!!!
Anyways, Dad thanks a bunch for the sports updates and politics, I love it. It is my little guilty pleasure during the week. I also love hearing how Brett, Kyle, and Joseph are doing. ¡Sigan así Élderes! Joseph is sending me his emails though so you don't have to. Also, Joseph, I sent you a letter that you will probably get in a couple weeks, but I sent it before I read some of your E-mails and so there are a few things that i now understand, such as you getting letters from other people and things of that nature...
Question Time... Ok, first off, I have not seen any part of Buenos Aires since my first day. Our Stake Center is in Gonzales Catán and that is where we have Zone Conferences and District Meetings. Elder Torres is my District Leader. We go to the temple once every other transfer, and it just so happens that it landed on this transfer, so we are going next week on P-day. Today was zone activity which we do once a transfer and we played kickball, which was fun, but it took up pretty much all of our P-day, thats why this email is so late. I decided I am not going to worry about puncuation anymore so you can fix it for me...usually on p-days we just do internet, buy food, and sleep or go play some pool or something. We aren't allowed to play soccer for some reason, but I guess it is a church wide rule that new mission presidents are not allowed to change rules until after two transfers after they arrive, and this is the end of President Benton's second transfer so rumors are flying about all these changes that will be made...I just hope he lets us email whoever we want like he said he would.
So It really couldnt explain to you about all the people we teach, because we teach a mountain load of people, its just that barely any are actually interested or progress. President Benton's big opening focus has been para buscar la fruta baja, or to seek out the low hanging fruit in our areas. He showed us a stat about our mission. We baptize around 100 people a transfer, and on average 60-70 of those are always references from members, or people in part member families. So we are focusing a lot on that.
There is a family in our ward, la familia Otero, who are all members but the dad, and the dad comes to church and reads his scriptures and stuff but cant get baptized because he isn't married to the mom, which is the case for almost everyone I have met here, but we just visited them last night and he said that they already went to get the papers to fill out to start the marriage process, which was encouraging. He reminds me a lot of Grandpa before he was baptized, just the nicest guy and he even helps his five year old pray when we are there, like whispers into his ear and stuff, so i think he might be a possibility for baptism next transfer. So yeah things like that are encouraging.
Sorry I don't write a lot, but by the time I read both of your emails and then collect my thoughts I dont have much time, but I like your emails so dont stop writing, also I am bad at handwriting letters because I never know what to write, because I have to write them as if I was talking 2 weeks from now...but anyways, this country is great, I am loving it, and the work is great. I am feeling more and more effective as a missionary.
Love ya everyone.
PS Alex I promise I am sending coins for your brother soon.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
We received this photo of Sean taken with the Mission President and his Wife, the day he arrived in Buenos Aires. Sean also wrote us a handwritten letter on his first day. Both the photo and the letter arrived yesterday.
Here is the letter, a little out of sequence from the emails, but exciting still the same....
I made it! I am loving it! We got off the plane and made it through customs. It all kind of hit me that I am in a foreign country. I have been laughing under my breath all day because of all the different things here. There are little soccer fields everywhere. We got to go to the temple and take pictures so that was neat. This place is so cool!!!!! There are dogs everywhere running the streets. The mission home is way nice, and we got to eat an amazing meal. Then we had interviews. President and Sister Benton are great! When we got off the plane he gave me a hug and said all in Spanish, "Who are you? Elder Gilmore? You look much different than your picture! Wow, you are good lookin'!"(muy guapo). Then later he passed by and just smiled and said, "You look great, Elder!" I was getting a kick out of it. We get our companions tonight, and head to our new areas at 7:00 tonight. No one is in General Villegas, the farthest area from the mission home. President Benton said our new areas were basically determined two days ago when he and the Assistants were praying about transfers. I am nervous and excited all at the same time. We just get to send off this quick note, but I will be able to tell more later. Sorry this was short.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
First, I have gotten one e-mail from Grandma Sherry but it didn't say anything, it was just a blank page, so obviously she did something wrong. And yesterday I got a letter from Grandma Wilma, but i don't remember the date she put on it, which i know isn't very helpful haha. The other elders don't really send pictures home. Elder Fox just got transferred here when I did and the others never really gave a clear answer so I don't know. Yes, we pay like 2 pesos to use the Internet for an hour. There are little Internet cafes everywhere, where about 20 computers are set up in a room, mostly kids come to play video games, because no one has computers in there houses.
By easier to heat, I meant that we only use small space heaters that are electric, so it is easier to put all of them in one room and sleep there. No I have never seen that sign you told me about, and no the shopping is not Americanized...pretty much just the oreos are the only familiar brand...and cereal, i can buy frosted flakes if i want.
Anyway, No one came to church this week, and we even were out for two hours before going by all our investigators...and just got rejected in the face every time, haha good times. So that really slims the chances of Elder Torres baptizing anyone while he is here, which I don't think is helping his motivation. So there are 10 Key Indicator Weekly Goals that everyone in the mission has, such as 10 new investigators a week, or 10 inactives visited a week and things like that, and if you reach those goals you and your companion are put in the mission periodical that comes out every transfer. I have mixed feelings about it, I mean, I want to be in it so badly, just because it is natural to want to be recognized, but all we heard in the MTC and in Preach My Gospel, is not to compare yourself to other missionaries, and that numbers don't equal success, but I mean...it is hard not to compare yourself to others when the mission is doing it for you in a publication...I am already competitive as it is, and i don't think "The Standard" is going to help me overcome that pride. As of now, Elder Torres and I can only get two of the indicators, but I plan on getting them, if he keeps his engine running for another three weeks. And yes, if I don't get transferred when he leaves, which i probably wont, I become senior companion for 2 weeks until my new comp. can get familiar with the area...which i am nervous about, but what the hey, whats the worst that can happen, i fall flat on my face and the offices don't make that mistake again. haha No but seriously supposedly it happens a lot, and a lot of new missionaries have to do it.
So this next part is R rated, and you might not want to put it on the blog. (we will edit...)
Ok so we all hear stories about when missionaries say something that they didn't mean to say, but they didn't know it. I am happy to say, I now have my own classic story for the ages. Ok so last night we were in a members home, and this family is one father about 60 or so, his wife, and 4 daughters who are all from 29-37, and they are slightly rowdy but it is fun to go to there house. Anyways, one of the daughters wanted me to translate an English song, and it was I love rock and roll...so put another dime in the jukebox baby...ya know that one...anyway I am trying to explain what a jukebox is because i don't know the word at all, and i was trying to say machine which is (mak-heen-a) in Castellano, and........ (he says another word instead, on accident, that a missionary should not be saying) ................ aHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA they just stared at me....in silence....and finally the mom said...oh claro claro elder, which is clearly clearly elder, so i thought they understood me, and of course Elder Torres doesn't say a word, and we get back to the apartment and he tells Elder Fox and Marchello what I said, and I started laughing so hard, WHY DIDN'T YOU SAY ANYTHING!!!!! so I wrote it in my journal so I will always remember, it was close to the happiest day of my life.
The work is still going on. It is definitely difficult, but I don't mind. I am understanding more and more everyday, but are still times when Elder Torres blindsides me in a lesson and just says, and my companion is going to explain a little more about that...and i was daydreaming because I wasn't understanding what they were saying. And he says, Elder what is the priesthood? are you kidding...I can say like 2 sentences about the priesthood in Spanish. We study a principle in the morning in comp. study and then he has me teach something completely different in lessons, but that's fine, I need to learn anyway. A few people this week even said that it sounds like I have been here a couple months, so that is encouraging, and Elder Torres said that when we go to zone meetings he talks with the other new elders and he says they still don't speak very well, but I am doing great...I think he is just joking or being nice or something.
Anyway, time to sign off again, love you guys.
P.S. Don't worry Nat, I am eating. I gained 9 pounds in the MTC and have only lost 7 here so I am still in the positives.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Well week two is behind me, and I realized that I have been in a foreign country 14 days...also that is only going to happen 43 more times before my mission is over. I guess I will start with the questions you sent.
The food is awesome! We eat a lot of pasta and meat...and that is about it...but all of it is really good. We eat every single day with a member. There is a huge calendar in the chapel and all the sisters like fight over who gets to feed us on what day. We always eat lunch with the members because that is the big meal here, and they seriously feed us sooooooo much. Like, it sustains me for 24 hours. I rarely eat breakfast or dinner in the apartment, and if I do it is just cereal or I make an egg sandwich or something. We occaisionally cook a meal like on P-days and stuff, but we all just cook it together. If there isn´t another priesthood holder in the house at lunch the sisters just give it to us in a tupper and we eat in the apartment.
I am swimming in money. We get 450 pesos a month, and I spend 20 pesos on food a week...and we dont pay rent or anything out of our monthly allowance. Elder Marchello gets extra in his allowance to pay for all of that. So basically I can spend the extra money on internet and cleaning supplies and laundry and stuff like that. Everybody buys their own food and other stuff. I always just buy milk and eggs and bread and cereal...oh and oreos because every thursday is oreo night. We all dip our oreos in our milk at the same time, also last week I started singing the USA national anthem when I did it and the other Elders were rolling on the floor laughing at me.
Buying things isn´t bad though because you only have to talk at the register, and even then you don´t really have to. I am nervous about getting a haircut...what am i supposed to say?!? Oh well, I´ll cross that bridge when I come to it. We take laundry to a lady who does it for like 5 pesos or something. It was kind of cold when I got here but nothing to bad, I use my sleeping bag, but only because it is easy to make my bed in the morning if I use it.
The apartment is supposedly one of the worst in the mission...but it isn´t that bad. The hot water is only a trickle so if you want pressure in your shower it is cold, but I don´t mind that much. There is a kitchen, bathroom, two bedrooms and a big living room thing, but we dont use the bedrooms, all four beds are in the big room because it is easier to heat, and then one bedroom is used for the dressers and closets and stuff, we also have a rooftop patio and stuff which is kind of cool.
Yes i speak english with the american elders. We had interviews with President Benton last week, and he told me to only speak english in the apartment so Elder Torres can start learning...even though he goes home in a month. Elder Marchello and Elder Fox are the other elders from Kansas and Utah respectively, and E. Marchello has been on his mission 9 months and Elder Fox for 6. They are pretty normal, it is not like God´s Army at all, Elder Marchello is kind of a goof but we dont play jokes or anything.
Ok, we teach a lot but it is hard to keep people interested. Like, people let you in to teach because they are nice, but they really don´t care at all about what you are saying. I have not taught a person once that actually kept the committment to pray about the Book of Mormon or Joseph Smith, yet we keep teaching them. Elder Torres is great, but it is kind of frustrating because we have been given the goal to baptize 3 people, and we have a few prospects, but he wants to go teach the people that are clearly not even interested. I don´t know why, but we visit the people that actually read and pray like once a week, and others who aren´t like 4 times a week. He is completely obedient to the rules, which is a blessing, but sometimes I just want to say, COME ON! WORK! It is just little things, like we will be walking in the street and he will say, I´m bored...WHY! We have places we could go right now. I mean i know I just got here two weeks ago, but i want to baptize three people this transfer. We wouldn´t have the goal if it couldn´t be done. The hard part is, the rule of the mission is the investigator has to come to chruch 4 times before being baptized, and there are only 4 sundays left this transfer, and we have a few that have come 2 or 3 times, but they still haven´t received an answer to prayer.
Anyways, he is a great elder and usually works hard, but it is just sometimes that I think in my head, "Why didn´t you do that? I would have if I knew how to in Spanish, but I don´t so you have to do it until I learn." Anyway, that was a little vent, but I only feel that way 2 percent of the time, the other 98 percent I feel good about the work we do. Anyway, I am going to try the picture thing one more time, so hopefully it works.
Hope everything is going well at home in the States. Love ya!
(Sean tried to send pictures home this week too, but still no luck)