Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Rafael Castillo- Week #27

Here comes the Blackout !!

Hello Moto

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.

Elder Sean

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



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

Rafael Castillo- Week #26

Typing to you from sunny....

Hey Everybody!

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!!!!

Love, Sean

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Rafael Castillo- Week #25

P-Day Navideño

Hey Everybody!

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.

Love, Sean

Monday, December 15, 2008

Rafael Castillo- mailed letter came today

If you follow this blog, on Rafael Castillo- Email #15 you read how Sean lost his long email to us. Well, he ended up writing us a letter that day and it arrived in the mail today. Here is what he wrote:

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!

Love, Sean

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Rafael Castillo- Week #24

Temple !!!

Hey Family!

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

Rafael Castillo- Week #23

Hey Everyone,

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

Love you

Chao chao