Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Rafael Castillo- Week #14

Sorry family but seriously this is going to be short, don’t worry it isn’t that big of a deal but I am really sick. Food poisoning and I am out for the count. I need prayers so I can get back out and work. My new comp is Elder Shields, he rocks, and is from Utah. He has 13 months in the mission, and is money. I know this email sounds bad, but really I just have a splitting fever and have no desire to type.

Love everyone, we have 2 dates for baptism.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Rafael Castillo- Week #13

Hey Everybody!

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 Buenos Aires. You hear that Brett? We are serving in the same...continent plus one? What is a group of people or land called if is a whole continent...and then also one country on the other side of the world? Anyways...vosotros, it was interesting. It was a beautiful temple, but wow the Celestial Room is small. Smaller than Billings, yet the Buenos Aires temple is considerably bigger than Billings...one of the mysteries of life.

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 Russia, because my cheeks are always rosy...I am not even making this up right now...anyways, all is well, and I am more confident in the language, but anything can happen in a week so keep an eye out for next week’s e-mail. Love you everyone!

Love, Sean

P.S. Will someone in this country please get married!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Rafael Castillo- Week #12 cont.

After we received Sean's initial email today, he sent us another quick note to tell us something he forgot to write about regarding the President of Argentina....

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

Rafael Castillo- Week #12

I have been here a month!

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.

Love Sean

PS Alex I promise I am sending coins for your brother soon.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Letter from first day in Argentina

Sister Benton, Elder Gilmore, and President Benton

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....

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

Dear Family,

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.

Love, Sean

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Rafael Castillo- Week #11

I come to you again in an e-mail...

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

Rafael Castillo- Week #10

Hey Family and Friends,

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!

Love, Sean

(Sean tried to send pictures home this week too, but still no luck)