Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Rafael Castillo- Pictures

Sean ended up sending another quick email and a couple more pictures today....

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!

Rafael Castillo- Week #22


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

Love, Sean

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Rafael Castillo- Week #21

5 Months !!!!

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.

Les amo,

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Rafael Castillo- Week #20

Another Six Weeks...

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

Rafael Castillo- Week #19

Stake Conference and Lunch in Capital

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.

Love, Sean

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!