Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Rafael Castillo- Week #18

Purse and Script

I got the package this Monday, and it was sweet! The calender was exactly what I was looking for, and the treats were good, and the tape was so cool to listen to.

Ciris is progressing so well! He is on track for his baptism on the 8th, and he is really excited. He missed this past Sunday because he was out of town having to do a school project or something, but Elder Shields called President Benton and got permission to baptize him anyway. So we go by Ciris last night to tell him he can still get baptized on the 8th, but first we wanted to make sure he understood the importance of baptism, so we read Doctrine and Covenants 20:37 and asked him if he felt he had met with all of those requirements, and he looked at us and was like, "No...I missed a Sunday...I need to repent more, I have to repent so much, do you forgive me? No wait, I need to ask God to forgive me, yeah, I need to ask God." I was so PROUD of him! He gets it. I told him that we were really excited for him, and that he already understands what he should do really well. Elder Shields said that Ciris is the most prepared for baptism he has seen in his mission, and I wouldn't doubt it. He doesn't doubt anything that he learns.

So Purse and Script is the subject of the e-mail because this week was kind of difficult. We were working really hard, but numbers wise it wasn't looking like it. We were getting a little frustrated, because we are doing all the things that are asked of us, yet not finding those investigators we want, who will progress in the gospel. So one really hot day last week we were clapping houses and we were like dying of thirst haha, so it reminded me of the New Testament, when Christ sends out the Apostles to preach, and tells them to basically live off of the people you teach, so I said a prayer that we could find a lesson and rest for a bit. A few houses later these two old Catholic women let us into their shady patio and as we were teaching, the old man husband, who wasn't interested in listening, kept bringing out like water and juice and cookies and stuff. It was sweet! So we didn't have purse or script, but the Lord was taking care of us anyway. Also, I hope I am using that analogy right, because if not it would make me look like a pretty clueless missionary.

Anyway, yeah I have seen the Lord boosting my spirits when I get frustrated or tired or something happens that isn't what we were hoping. Elder Shields told me on a particularly hard day, that this is the hardest area he has been in, and I was unlucky it is my first area...I think he was just venting haha. But yeah, we are still giving it everything we got. I was walking in the street one day, and some words from Come Come Ye Saints popped into my head that really helped me out. Hymns are such great answers to prayers. The capital words are the words I put in of my own free will because I forgot the real words...actually I only forgot one...anyway...

Why should we WHINE, or think our lot is hard
Tis not so, all is right.
Why should we think to earn a great reward
If we now, shun the fight
Gird up your loins, fresh courage take
Our God will never us forsake!

It got me all excited to keep trucking along.

In the words of John Joseph Naylor V, "All is Well"

Love you, everyone!


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Rafael Castillo- Week #17

I almost died trying to wake up an hour early this week. Also this past Sunday was mother's day in Argentina...I know random right? I contemplated calling home, but figured you would want more notice haha. Martin, the guy who read the Book of Mormon in 4 days disappeared and we haven't seen him in 3 or 4 weeks, we go by his house almost every other day, but the neighbors say he hasn't been around for a while.

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

Rafael Castillo- Week #16

Hey Family!!!

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!

Love, Sean

PS. Argentinean daylights savings time is this weekend so we lose an hour

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Rafael Castillo- Week #15

Whew! Hey Mom! Hey Dad! Hey Lace! Hey Everyone!

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,
Elder Gilmore

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