Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tennis: last P-day in Ramos Mejia

Arthur Ashe Stadium

Paddle Ball


Sean making his Roger Federrer moves


Oasis Tennis Club



Christmas Eve Fireworks

Christmas Eve watching fireworks

I think the look on my face is answer enough for the joy/fear the festivities gave me.

P-Day Navideño

Missionaries of BAW
(Sean is sitting in the first row, right in the middle in the green tie- in front of President and Hermana Benton) click on pic to make it bigger!

Elder Sabey and Elder Gilmore, mastering the sound system for the skits

Guarding the goody bags


President and Hermana Benton with the office Elders

All current and past office Elders still in the mission

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ramos Mejia- Week #79

I promise this is the last week I am sending an email late....

Hey there clan,

We just got back from my last P-day activity. I finally made it to some of the clay courts of Buenos Aires to hit a few tennis balls, and I had a great time. I had Patrick McEnroe’s voice in my head the whole time like he was commentating on my French Open debut in Arthur Ashe Stadium. I kind of had a little moment…anyway…they also had some little miniature courts to play “paddle tennis” which was actually really fun as well. It is basically like racquet ball, but on a small tennis court. You can use the walls and your racquets are small and fat. Do we have that in the States? We should because it would be a hit!

So the call home was great! I really enjoyed it and it really helped to make my Christmas special! (That was for you Mom) It went by way fast, but it always does. I experienced similar feelings as you did, Mom and Dad. The last two calls I was really trunky after and it took a few hours to get back into gear, but this year I hung up and wasn’t down at all. I felt nothing…haha what I mean is that it didn’t make me trunky. Maybe it was because I feel at home now or something, especially in the mission home. Christmas Day was really good. I think I mentioned last year that everyone lights off fireworks at midnight on Christmas Eve, and this year was no disappointment. I am surprised there aren’t more injuries or fires. Maybe there are and I just don’t know, but in any case, it sounded like a war was going on outside. It is kind of an interesting way to celebrate, and now comes a week of cease fire until New Year’s Eve!

Anyway, this week is transfers, so we will find out where I will be continuing my missionary service. My replacement comes in tomorrow. We just found out who it was last night. His name is Elder Page from Idaho, and he is currently companions with…Elder Tyler Burns Sabey. So Elder Page is going to come in tomorrow and I will head out to 9 de Julio with Elder Sabey…just kidding, haha when we called last night to tell them I told Elder Sabey we were going to be companions again and all he said was, “Please tell me you aren’t lying.” That would be funny, but no, we won’t be companions again. So tomorrow I will start the training…and then 5 days later I will leave…I heard in other missions elders are trained for a whole transfer…not here…the longest training is for the finance secretary…he gets 2 weeks…I guess it doesn’t really take that long to figure out how to sort mail…or how to make sure the sacred funds of the Lord are managed properly and efficiently. We have IMOS now anyway…so I am pretty sure Elder Maxwell just presses a button and it all fixes itself. I am not really sure what he does in his office all day.

Anyway, I don’t really know what else to say this week, because we just talked on the phone…but hope all is well. Oh yeah, Lucio got baptized on Saturday, so my goal of having a white Christmas was fulfilled. We ate lunch with them on Sunday, and all I have to say is I wrote a long journal entry on my personal experiences seeing how the gospel changes lives. Lucio is a completely different person now. He was cold and always looked angry before, and now every time we see him he is smiling and cracking jokes. I was talking with Gladys, his oldest daughter who lives there as well with her husband and four children, and she mentioned that she hadn’t seen her father like that since before her younger brother passed away. Suddenly the story of Lucio unfolded a little more, and I realized a little more just how important the plan of salvation is to everyone. He never told us about his son passing away. Gladys says he doesn’t ever mention it. I can only imagine how he felt when we talked about the plan of salvation. I just sat there and watched him play with his grandson and one of those surreal moments washed over me like you see in movies, and I felt pure happiness. It was one of those moments when you feel like an hour has gone by, but only a few seconds have passed. The best part of all of this is I GET ANOTHER SIX MONTHS OF THIS STUFF!!!!! Who even knows all the great experiences that are waiting for me in my new area, or the great people I am going to meet. In Ramos Mejia I have realized what everyone means when they say they love the people on their mission. I thought I did before, and I did, but my understanding is broadening, and for the first time, I honestly feel kind of sad about having to leave them and go home in six months.

Speaking of going home in six months…about this whole apartment thing, everything sounds good. It actually just so happens that I was talking with a sister in our mission while her companion was in the office calling home for Christmas, and she was talking to me all about BYU. She said stay far far away from Glenwood. Also she said that she heard King Henry was bad, and then she said the best place to live is Liberty Square…what a coincidence! So there is another testimony. That is cool too that Trevor would be living with us, then we can have a party when he opens his call letter. So yeah sounds great. Also today was pretty interesting (it is Tuesday now by the way because this week started off with a bang and I have been swamped with stuff to do for transfers) We were out delivering mail to everyone, and a sister missionary named Hermana Daniels asked me if my first name was Sean. Not a question I usually get, but I answered in the affirmative. She then told me that her mother said that she knows my parents and talks with them all the time on the missionary mom site…I muttered under my breath, “Miguel strikes again…” I don’t think she heard me, but Elder Varela did and started laughing because of his time and association with me in the office. Anyway, Shout-out to the Daniels family.

Love you guys!

Elder Vuestro-hijo “that is for Brett and all those Spaniards out there”

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ramos Mejia- Week #78

Merry Christmas !!!!!!

YO YO YO YO YO HEY HO HO HO HO HO HO FAMILY!!!!!!!! Or as Elder Don Spaniard Anderson would say, ¿que tal vosotros? Or as Elder Ng Anderson would say, Comusta? M´bouti…ng…grignak

Well, I got my package! It was…suuuuwweeeeeeet! Thank you! I loved the ties. They were more conservative than years past, yet very classy. The mango liquorice is already gone…oops…and the peppermint toffee is dwindling rapidly. Also the Winnie the Pooh ornament from Lacey is sitting on my desk as well as the coolest thing I have every seen in my life – the miniature Hyrum and Joseph statue. I am pretty sure it all got here in one piece. It was great . I was going to wait until Christmas, but only lasted about 3 days. Plus, I listened to the tape you sent me and Mom told me half of everything that was there, so I figured I had waited long enough. Thanks again, it was great! I think we will go to a member´s house for Christmas Eve, and then we have been invited to President´s house for Christmas Day, so I am pretty grateful for that. It should be really nice. As far as the call goes, I am planning on calling around 7 my time…I will let Dad figure out what it is your time…I don´t really know the exact schedule of the day, but that is the plan…I would be by the phone anyway just in case. I think we all remember what happened on Mother´s Day…Argentines still love Obama as far as I know…but more than anything the World Cup is the topic of conversation already. The brackets for group play were released and Argentina got a great draw, so they are pretty happy. USA plays England first…great…

Anyway, Merry Christmas to all whom I will not be talking to on the phone. We had our mission Christmas party, but I will save that until the end because there are some other matters to cover first. I almost died again this week…ha, not really. But seriously, it was a potentially life threatening situation. We were calling it a day, and walked into the pench only to find on the wall the biggest spider I have ever seen in my life (in the wild) just hanging out (no pun intended). It was only slightly smaller than a tarantula. I am not sure how it got there, especially because I have never seen anything like that in Argentina, despite the South American stereotypes you hear about. We decided it needed to be captured…and thus started a sequence of war councils and videos taken on cameras of us fighting against the eight-legged spawn of darkness that had infiltrated our humble sanctuary. Elder Maxwell first took a broom to it, and I kid you not, the spider straight up attacked the broom! It like grabbed for it and latched on, so we retreated for a bit, because it wouldn’t be a great start to the war if our best weapon fell into enemy hands so quickly. I know I am just joking around right now, but in the moment I was literally frightened. The thing moved like lightning, and could jump! I kept my distance until I was called to the front lines…Elder Maxwell gave me a bucket and I was instructed to “get it”. So we blocked off its best escape route and I ascended a few stairs until I could see its eyes…and then I lunged like I have never lunged before while letting out a loud “BYAH!” They had to amputate a finger because of the amount of venom...video is on the way.

So P-day Navideño was really good this year. I thought last year was good because I didn’t know any different, but now looking back, last year wasn’t that great. This year the skits were so good. We as a staff danced to Feliz Navidad by Jose Feliciano. Each member of the staff had about 15 seconds to freestyle…and well…I figured I would pay tribute to Michael…so I did a small rendition of the Thriller dance during my solo. It didn’t turn out very well though, I didn’t really practice it, and Feliz Navidad doesn’t exactly have the ideal beat to pull something like that off, but it was fun anyway. There were a few more Michael tributes in other zones. A few Moonwalks, which were sweet. So I had a really great time. We bought 90 kilos of meat…that is like…over a pound per person, so there was plenty to eat. As my white elephant gift I gave away some inflatable toy, and I received…dry erase board markers…merry Christmas? Haha well I guess that is the beauty of white elephant gifts. Every meeting that we have with the mission, I am in charge of all the audio and video stuff, so I always have to contact the stake high council member in charge of technology to get the keys for everything. Well I have never touched the stuff in the cultural hall or the stage, and everyone was asking me how they could get music and microphones for their skits so that was kind of stressful, but it all worked out. After a few minutes of seeing what little red buttons did, I figured it out. Time will tell if I did any lasting damage.

So things with Lucio are looking great for this weekend! Even though I am in gross humid sticky weather, we will still be having a “White Christmas” in Ramos Mejía. So that is going to be a great memory from my mission. We taught Lucio Monday night with our Bishop. It went alright. Our Bishop here has never liked us that much because we are office elders. He loves us on the weekends we baptize, but usually just ignores us, or chews us out in Ward Council. So he has really been pushing for this baptism, so we decided to give him the opportunity to participate in the teaching process, but it was kind of awkward. He was like a supervisor. He just sat there and texted on his phone the whole lesson…but after 7 ½ months of working with him it doesn’t really faze me. Elder Palacios was frustrated with him though. Also some more shocking news. At the end of this transfer the Secretaries are changing areas to Haedo 1 (home of Elder Zivic of the 70) because the Bishop there has declared that no more baptisms will take place until the sister missionaries leave. I am not sure he knows that is irreverent, considering he has no authority to halt saving ordinances, nor decide which missionaries are in his ward, but nevertheless we are swapping. The sisters in that ward are doing great, too, so I am not sure why he is so angry. Anyway, side effect of that is that our bishop here in Ramos couldn’t be happier. Haha it is some kind of messed up cycle. I mean, this ward has seen more success than any other six month period in the history of the Buenos Aires West mission (I know because I checked all the way back to the first baptism) but he isn’t happy with us, and it kind of feels like we are getting kicked out…which is childish, I know, but could we just work together? When we do well it is “Good job members, way to participate in the missionary work.” And then when we go a week without having a baptismal date it is, “oh the elders are lazy sitting all day in the office.” But like I said, I am used to it now after five transfers here. Long story short, we will be the last elders to serve in Ramos Mejía for some time. I am happy with my service here, the miracles I have seen, and the impression the people have had on me. I can honestly say that it has been in this area that I truly learned how to love the people of Argentina. I thought I did before, but now I can see the difference. It is a deeper, and more pure…or purer…I am not sure…but it makes me feel warm inside…ha. Ok basta. I feel like this ward is my home.

So anyway, that is about all that happened this week. Talk to you on Friday!

Elder Gilmore

Monday, December 14, 2009

Oh Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree in the Mission Home

Office Elders and Assistants with President and Hermana Benton

Ok, we might be biased, but doesn't Sean look great?

Ramos Mejia- Week #77

Oo-de-lally!

So, I am not really sure what Oo-de-lally means, or if It is even a greeting, but I figure Robin Hood has never let me down before, and we all know how much I dread thinking of things to put at the start of my emails home. But, as always, I will start with the questions you sent to me. First Mom, to answer your and Donny Osmond’s question, my personal opinion is that although Mary knew her Son was the Savior of mankind, I don’t think she knew specifically that He would one day walk on water. (That was a joke everyone, my mother wasn’t really wondering that…Donny…I am not sure. I don’t know him personally.) Also, Mom, what in the world does palputations mean? That went right over my head…but yes I can feel them? Great letters this week by the way! I was feeling kind of English today Mom, until I looked down and realized I was wearing my Ireland shirt you sent me that says “This be me lucky shirt.” So alas, the Brits are foiled once again, and the Emerald Isle prevails. Dad: BEAUTIFUL usage of “Faa” haha did they say that in Spain, too? When I first got here I thought everyone was on the verge of saying bad English words. Also, I am excited to call home as well, but you have given me our home phone number in the past couple emails. I have written it down, so there will be no need to send it again ha. I haven’t gone to pick up the package yet, and yes I share the chips with people. I don’t have any recipes written down, but I have learned to do some basic Argentine cuisine.

So going back and re-reading that first paragraph I realized that it is completely random and that every sentence is about something completely different. That is because I skim over your email, and whenever there is a question mark, I come back to this and put the answer. Then, I repeat the process, and the first paragraph of every email is formed. Anyway, this week was a little hectic again. We did NOT get out as much as I wanted to, but what can you do? We tried to teach Lucio 4 times, and 4 times we were denied by some outer force. The first time we were going to teach with our Bishop, but his grandfather, the stake Patriarch, passed away, so obviously we weren’t about to call him up and ask him to come with us, but then when we called Lucio he said that he heard what happened and didn’t think we were coming over so he planned something else. Sorry for that run-on sentence…Every other time we called him as well he was busy. He did come to church though, so now he has come like 8 times. Basically the only thing we need to do is teach him. We still have to cover a lot, too, so we are going to follow the Spirit, and decide whether we just teach everything this week and go on with the baptism, or if we spread out the teaching and postpone the baptism for another week. I feel uneasy postponing baptisms…nothing good ever comes of it, but I don’t want to rush things before he is ready.

So my time here in the office is winding down. I have three weeks left, and well, as much as I have loved it, I hope they fly. I have learned sooooo much here in the office, have seen miracles, and received countless blessings, but it is time to move on. I came in here at the end of May! Over seven months! It kind of feels like waking up and going to a job now. I am excited to get back out full time with the people. This transfer has been a little tougher than past ones here, but I am definitely seeing more growth. It seems like we have gotten a little lax in small things, and I am trying to fight it. It is definitely interesting being the office elder that has been here the longest, because I have seen the evolution of the Staff. A lot of things have changed in the mission and office since the days of Elder Sir William Pollock and Elder Woodmansee (my first transfer in the office), some for the better and some not for the better, but that just comes with the rotation of different people I guess. So, I am looking forward to Christmas, and New Years, and then my new assignment.

Well, yesterday we went over to President Benton’s house and met his youngest son Adam, who is visiting from New York for Christmas. He served in Italy, but has picked up Spanish really well. His friend Eric from Houston, and Adrian…or Adriana…I don’t remember, from New York too. They were all really cool. Adrian…a….taught in the MTC for a while. She served in Argentina as well. Eric served in El Salvador. So it was a nice day. We ate and shared some of our favourite Christmas experiences. I used to think that eating Chinese food on Christmas Eve was unique…but it really isn’t…I meet so many other people who do it. The Benton Family does it as well. President Benton shared with us three ideas he thinks will help anyone have a special Christmas. First he started with a quote from Hermana Benton. I guess one time she said, “You can never get enough of things you don’t need.” So basically during the Christmas season you can never buy someone enough of what they don’t need. We don’t need material things to make Christmas special. Second he talked about how the best Christmas we can have is when we are serving others. Third he encouraged us to establish traditions in our future families, so that they will be memorable. So Dad, your idea of the pickle ornament tradition is great! Anyway, we are heading out to buy some essential items for our P-day Navideño Skit. Yes the staff is participating, and lets just say we have come up with one of those ideas that is either going to be a hit, or shame and disgrace my descendants for generations to come. Either way, I will have a video taken. I wont give it away now, but I will say that José Feliciano has become an honorary member of the staff for the time being. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Alright, thanks for all your prayers and support. Until next week.

Elder Sean Gilmore

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Day at the Hard Rock Cafe- Buenos Aires

Sean and the office gang went to the Hard Rock Cafe in Buenos Aires today.

Sean with Paul at the Hard Rock Cafe


Stained Glass Window of the Beatles at the Hard Rock Cafe


Sean went on a recent trip to the post office to pick up packages. Looks like the Christmas packages from home are arriving for the missionaries

Ramos Mejia- Week #76

It is surprisingly cooler than normal here in Buenos Aires!

Happy Pearl Harbor Day!

First…I would just like to say that Mother’s email was not only shocking, but disturbing as well. And I quote, “The move to the new house is off until February, but we will send pics of the outside at least.” What…in the world…are you talking about? Are we moving again? Why have I not heard anything more about this!?! I am completely in the dark on this one people. ¡Hay que decirme lo que está pasando en la casa! ¿Papá por que no me dijiste nada? ¿Mamá, donde está la confianza? ¡SOY TU HIJO! Oh sorry, when I get in a flurry like that I just start ranting in Spanish. Just call me Ricky Ricardo. These past two weeks have just been full of things that you have forgotten to tell me. But seriously, if you were looking for a good subject line for your email, you should have just taken the classic line from Usher: “Confessions Part II”…ok I am done.

So President has informed us that we should suggest to our families that they prepare their list of questions for “the call” -my battery is low, just so you know, I’m going to a place near by, gotta go- that was a little backstreet boy flashback by the way. So yeah, it would be best if you prepared a list of questions and topics so that we use our time well. Also, not to be trunky, but we made it through the longest time period of the mission without talking. May to December will have been the longest we will have gone without talking. So I just thought I would share that little piece of information with you. This week was good. We got out a lot more, and found some new people. We also set a baptismal date with Lucio for the 19th of December. He is really one of the most interesting investigators I have had. It seems like he has absolutely no interest in our message, but he always accepts it. It is like he doesn’t care about the doctrine, but he likes to participate in the church. He loves coming. It is weird. I challenged him to be baptized and he just looked at me and said, “Ok”…oh…ok yeah…um so you know it is a covenant with God and you have to keep His commandments right? “Ok”…um…ok great…so we are going to be helping you progress more in the gospel and helping you learn all that God requires of you. “Ok”…fantastic…

Elder Palacios and I were talking about it, and realized we aren’t sure what he wants. I am not sure he wants to know which church is true, but I thought I had him with eternal families…nope…he said whatever happens after this life happens. So we asked if he WANTED to live with them forever. He said he “supposes” it would be ok. Haha, talk about being apathetic. But, he is good friends with our bishop, who is baptism crazy by the way, and what Obispo wants, Obispo gets. Elder Sabey and I affectionately called him the Dragon. So Obispo is really pushing for us to get him in the water. We have an appointment with him on Thursday with Bishop, so that should be good, and we can talk with Bishop about what he thinks on the subject. We also had zone conference this week. It was pretty good. We were given copies of President Benson’s talk “Beware of Pride”, which I loved. Elder Bednar mentioned a little bit about pride in our lives as well, and he related it to missionary work. He said that when you say things like, “We taught the most in the zone”, or “We baptized more than anyone this transfer”, we are standing “eyeball to eyeball with the natural man, who is an enemy to God.” We have been having a lot of success in the mission lately, so I think it was inspired of President to warn us about getting prideful.

Ok I am not really sure what else to say this week. Not much happened. Elder Zivic of the Seventy was in our ward again this week to participate in a baby blessing, so that was cool. Any time I have heard him speak in the ward he has really stressed the principle of fast offerings. So donate a generous fast offering. That is the General Authority counsel of the week. Other than the stuff said at the Christmas Devotional, which we didn’t see because it started at 10:00 at night here. They are going to be re-broadcasting it next week at a better time. Also, P-day activity of the day today was a celebration of Pearl Harbor Day…eating lunch at Hard Rock Café…which is probably the most American thing we can do here in Argentina. I bought a shirt, took a picture of the stain-glassed window of the Beatles they had, and saw an autographed pair of Mick Jagger’s (sp?) pants…quality American experience.

Love, Elder Gilmore

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ramos Mejia- Week #75

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

Thanksgiving was great at President Benton’s house. They made all the traditional food, which was good, but what just made it 100% the best moment of my day was the pumpkin pie. I haven’t eaten pumpkin pie in so long! It was a great day, and just barely beat last year’s thanksgiving with my mystery meat microwave dinner…which I ate again this year anyway, just a few days before thanksgiving. It actually is not that bad…but Hermana Benton definitely outdid it. The Benton’s oldest son, Aaron, was there as well with his wife and three kids. It was funny to be around American kids again. It was kind of strange and awkward at first, because I have gotten used to talking to little kids in Spanish, so it was a bit of a process to get back into English little kid mode. Their middle child, Luke, likes Star Wars, so I talked to him a little about that. I asked him who his favorite character was, and he said after some thought, “All of them are my favorite!” Fair enough. They were really nice people to spend Thanksgiving with. I can also now see there was a reason I have stayed in the offices. Thursday, after months of fighting and heartbreak, I finally won the mission home ping pong tournament. Elder Sabey and I always were upset by somebody in a late round, but this time Elder Palacios and I kept cool and took home the title. I guess I can rest easy now.

As for your questions, Mom, I don’t think that it is necessary to make stockings for everyone. It was nice, but everyone gets packages from their families, and it just makes my packages gigantic. However, I will note that I am the only one here that is against it and Elder Fox still has his stocking, but would gladly accept a new one. So the office staff now is Fox, Aceituno, Maxwell, Gamboa, Palacios, Gilmore. The mission tie project is on hold for right now. I have a least a demo tie that I am going to keep, but President is “thinking about it” for now. The guy we were working with didn’t give us very many options to choose from, so I think President feels like we might be settling for something that isn’t exactly what we want. Also, you bought a Wii and Flat Screen LCD HD VHL DVD SNL TNT TV? I couldn’t remember exactly all the acronyms you mentioned in your email, so I tried to over-compensate. Also I got the Thanksgiving photos and I have to say YOU TWO LOOK SO SKINNY!!!!!!!!!!! THIS IS NOT A JOKE!!!! I COULDN’T BELIEVE IT!!!!!!! You are actually doing it! I had my doubts I am sorry to admit, but you two are doing great. It really shows in your faces. Anyway, Dad, I always could drive, it just happened to be that every cool story was when Elder Sabey was behind the wheel. And for the record, Elder Sabey and I were Co-Companions, because we had the same time in the mission. Except for when one of us didn’t want to make a decision, then we would name the other senior companion.

So it has kind of been a slow week after having been visited by an Apostle. Carmen and Luis were confirmed! They are officially members. They weren’t confirmed last week because it was Stake Conference. What a blessing it has been to see their progress, and participate with their family in its spiritual journey. They are a miracle. We also had another investigator in church today. His name is Lucio, and he lives in the same house as Carmen and Luis. He is Carmen's uncle, and has come 4 or 5 times now. He is a little bit set in his ways, but the Lord has truly softened his heart. The first time we met him, he didn't say a word to us. To put it lightly, he was pretty cold, but now he is friendly with us, and we have started to teach him. He talked with our bishop today and said he would like to be baptized! So we are going to be heading over there with Bishop Canga this week to talk more. We are excited about that.

Other than that, Elder Palacios and I are working hard here in the office. I feel a little stressed because I really want to get out and work in the street, and find some more people to be baptized, especially with our bishop "cracking the whip" ha but at the same time, I can see that Elder Palacios is a little overwhelmed. So we are trying to find a balance, but as Elder Bednar mentioned, it is all about spinning the plate that is closest to falling. I really want to have a great transfer though, and find some more people to at least leave the area with something to work with if we don’t end up having more baptisms. I have noticed however, that the Lord truly does bless us for being in the offices. He just kind of puts people right in our path, so that we don’t spend what little time we have looking for them. For example, a couple of days ago, a sister missionary called me and told me that they have been teaching a woman who has expressed desires to be baptized, and has gone to church in their area, but just moved to Ramos Mejía…oh…I guess we can go by…We haven’t met her yet, so I don’t know how close she is to baptism, but the point is that we would have never found here with how little time we get out to work, so the Lord brought her to us. In reality, all missionary work is like that. Even when you are out all day in the street working, what are the chances of you meeting someone who will let you teach them, then make the changes in their life you tell them to make, and then get baptized. I would say very little, but that is why the Spirit is so important in the work. Moral of the story: It doesn’t matter if you are in the offices or not, the Lord is putting the people right in your path, because you wouldn’t be able to find them on your own.

I guess that is all for this week. I was in Capitál for 3 hours today waiting to pick up 15 packages. The best part is that there are still 35 more, but we didn’t have time to get all of them. The holiday season has hit the mail world in full force! Oh well, it is pretty fun getting to drive around downtown so I don’t mind. Thanks for the pictures again. Happy December!

Elder Gilmore

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pictures-

Downtown Buenos Aires

A Hypermarket, not a Supermarket...

Baptism of Carmen and Luis !!!

Ramos Mejia- Week #74

The Saga of Elder Bednar

Hey everyone,

Well, I just woke up from a 3 hour nap, which was very needed after this week. Last night we were up until about 2 in the morning getting the transfer meeting ready, which was a little ridiculous, but something always happens…something always goes wrong at the last second. However, we pulled it off, it was a good meeting and it is over now. Some significant people in my mission went home today. My old companion Elder González from when I was in Castillo. Elder Harper, who I replaced here in the office, so basically my office trainer, also went home. His parents came last week, so we met them and it seems like they had a great time visiting Argentina. And last, but not least, Elder Marchello went home. He was the first American Elder I met, along with Elder Fox, in the mission. They were companions in Castillo 2 at the time and I lived with them my first two transfers. I don’t know if I ever talked about him. He taught me how to do a contact with someone in the street, so he had a pretty big influence on me. He only had 9 months at the time, but it seemed like he was so old in the mission. Funny how your perspective of time changes so much.

Anyway, I am sure you are dying to hear about Elder Bednar, but I figured I would save that last to finish off the email with a bang. There is a great story I have to tell you first to lead into it anyway. So as you know, Elder Sabey and I were together six months, and have had a great companionship. Well, we ended it with the wedding of Carmen and Luis, and then their baptism the next day. It was a really great way to finish. However, with his new responsibilities as branch president, he actually left right after the conference with Elder Bednar, and had to come back for the baptism, so it was almost like our companionship ended Wednesday night. Well, let’s just say that it was only fitting that we spent it together in the police station. So we did! We had just bought 500 bananas and 500 apples for the conference, and the police saw two Americans with a huge van full of boxes. We were driving right next to Fuerte Apache, which they say is one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in South America. All I know is that the police walk around with loaded shotguns there, so there must be a problem. Anyway, some police pull us over, and tell us to get out of the car, and basically start interrogating us. I never felt like I was in danger or anything, because we hadn’t done anything wrong, and their questions were kind of silly. They were like, “Where do you come from!?!” We said the United States, not trying to be smart alecs, but because a lot of times here that question really means, “Where are you from?” not “Where did you just come from?” So we lost points right off the bat haha. Elder Sabey was driving, so they separated us for individual interrogation, I guess to see if one would make a deal and rat the other one out. I had a fun little talk with my officer. He looked over my passport, and said, “Is this from the United States? Where did you get it?” I was very tempted to say, “No, I got it on the North Korean black market when I was there trafficking nuclear warheads…duh…where do you think I got it?” But instead I just said I got it before I came. He actually was a nice guy, just taking his job a little too seriously. So they then informed us that they would have to take us into the station, because Elder Sabey was driving without an Argentine license. Once again, my international license saved us, because they might have taken the car away if I didn’t have it. So they take our names and put it into their system. They already had Elder Sabey’s American driver’s license so they just copied his name down, then they got Elder Palacios’ name, and then he looked at me and said, “Y vos?” I couldn’t help myself, I caught Elder Sabey out of the corner of my eye smiling, because he knew what I was about to do. “Seanmichaelgilmore.” I said as fast and as slurred as I possibly could. It was sooooo funny. Elder Palacios couldn’t contain himself and started choking trying to keep his laugh down. The guy just looked at me….blinked a few times…and asked me to repeat it. “Sean Michael Gilmore”. He didn’t understand one thing that came out of my mouth. I mean, he did ask for my name didn’t he? Finally after playing a few rounds of that game they asked for my passport again to just copy down the name. It was fun while it lasted. So they hauled us into the station and we waited until their boss told them to let us go, seeing as the only thing they could get us on was that Elder Sabey didn’t have a license. Looking back it was kind of funny, but keep in mind this was the night before Elder Bednar came, and we were stressed out running around trying to get everything ready, so it wasn’t very funny at the time.

So that was the perfect prelude for one of the greatest days of my mission. I really can’t express in an email how amazing our experience with Elder Bednar was. Last year with Elder Nelson was very similar. We didn’t have any time alone with him here in the offices. In fact, nobody did, not even President. Just the church security workers were in the office to let him in and then he came straight over to the chapel where everyone was waiting. Sister Bednar was with him, along with Elder Snow of the Presidency of the Seventy, and his wife. Also, interesting to note that Elder Bednar is a little shorter than I thought he was, and that Elder Snow is a giant man. Anyway, we started the meeting off, and Sister Snow spoke first. It wasn’t very long, but really inspiring. She talked about how important unity with your companion is and having the Spirit in your companionship. She ended with a quote by Sister Hinckley that really hit home as well. “It is a wonderful thing you are doing, but it is the least you can do. You will still be in debt to the Lord when you finish your mission.” Then Sister Bednar spoke to us, and I have to say that she was just adorable. You could just see how good she was. I could really see how important wives are to and for their husbands, especially wives of General Authorities. They really were some choice women. Sister Bednar gave us three points: 1. Everyone deserves a good companion, so be that good companion. 2. Be the missionary your mother thinks you are. And 3. Be the kind of missionary the Savior expects you to be. It was really good.

So then Elder Snow spoke to us, and it was so good. We sang “Called to Serve” to start the meeting and he started out commenting on that. He told the story of how “Called to Serve” ended up in the hymnbook. In 1985 when they were making the new green hymnbook, President Packer was preparing the program for a new mission presidents’ seminar in Salt Lake, and wanted to find a special musical number about missionary work. He thought about it for a while, and his wife suggested an old Primary song she remembered from one of the old primary song books that was no longer in print. So they rummaged through all their stuff and found a copy, and a choir of 80 missionaries sang it at the seminar. President Packer then went to the music committee and told them they needed to add “Called to Serve” into the hymnbook. They told him it was too late because they were about to publish it, and they couldn’t add in a new hymn. President Packer then said, “No you don’t understand. “Called to Serve” WILL be in the new hymnbook.” Haha so thanks to President Packer it is now the missionary anthem of the Church. Elder Snow served his mission in Germany, as well as Elder Bednar, and he commented on how hard it was for him. He said that they just knocked doors all day long. He was told once when he was a little discouraged, “Don’t worry Elder, for every door you knock, someone is baptized in Mexico!” haha. But it was interesting that he said, although he didn’t baptize 100 people, he converted himself and to this day, even after being a General Authority, he looks at his life as before and after his mission.

Elder Bednar then took the next 2 ½ hours to address us…and it was mind boggling. First, he has a great sense of humor, and mentioned that it is alright to have fun learning the gospel because people in the Celestial Kingdom are happy, and they love living the gospel. He also mentioned, “Right now in Salt Lake City, on the fourth floor of the temple, the First Presidency and Twelve Apostles are meeting. Elder Cook is in Australia, and I am here with you, and I want all of you to know that if I can’t be there with them, there is no other place I would rather be than here with you.” So that made us feel loved right from the start. He talked a little bit about how to get as much as we can out of the meeting, and how everything was going to work. It was interesting what he said about note taking. He said that we have all been trained to take copious notes on what the speaker says, and then said, “Now, do you ever go back and use the notes? The word in English is ‘NO!’ Do you even know where your notes are from a year ago? The word in Spanish is ‘NO!’ So if you don’t use them, and you can’t find them…porque do you do that!?! (Everyone laughs) You just saw the gift of tongues at work.” (more laughing) What he really wanted us to do was write down the impressions we received from the Spirit, so he mentioned that if we only wrote down everything Elder Bednar said, we would have missed out on some of the greatest lessons taught during the conference. There were almost 600 missionaries there, and at the end of the conference he asked everyone to raise their hand if their questions had been answered. Every single hand went up. The Holy Ghost touched every heart, and whispered to every soul. I couldn’t believe it. I was getting chills the whole meeting, because I had questions that I didn’t even know I had until it was answered, and I realized in the moment that the Spirit was resolving a doubt I didn’t even realize I had. I assume Elder Bednar answered about 15 questions in two hours, and literally every single one of his answers I needed to hear, but I received more than 15 answers on Thursday.

He said it was going to be a question and answer session. He said that he was going to answer and ask questions. Then he said, “Some of you are beginning to sweat, and are thinking, ‘Elder Bednar is going to call on me to answer a question.’ First, I would never embarrass you, or try to make you feel like you don’t know something, so everything will be on a volunteer basis. For example, if I was to point at this sister (points at a sister in the first row) and asked her to stand up and tell all of us the three fundamental points of the baptismal covenant. Now, she knows the answer…UNTIL a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles asks her. As soon as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles points at her, she doesn’t even remember her name.” Everyone was laughing. It’s true. So then he opened it up for questions.

Now he started out saying that there are no bad questions, but some are better than others. Some people asked some pretty wacky questions. It was interesting though, that no matter how ridiculous the question, he always started it out saying, “Great question.” and then sincerely answered the question, without dropping the cane on the missionary or making them feel like they shouldn’t have asked anything. Someone wanted to know about the washing of the feet ordinance mentioned in D&C, to which Elder Bednar stated that details didn’t matter, what matters is the love shown by the Savior when he washed the feet of His Apostles. Then someone asked something about the Mount of Transfiguration, and all that jazz and Elder Bednar told the Elder, “How badly do you want to know the answer to that question? Ok, so you read that account in the New Testament twenty times. Then, read sections 20, 84, 88, 121, and 122 twenty times each. Summarize what you learn in one page, and send me a copy in Salt Lake. Then, if I have something to add, I will. Next question.” …holy cow…the point was that everyone can receive their own answer through scripture study. He told a story of how President Packer invited a group to do the same about the Atonement. Read the Book of Mormon as many times as you can in 6 months and summarize all you learned about the Atonement on one page. That is how Elder Bednar and President Packer get their answers. Someone else asked what he does, as an Apostle, when he is discouraged, and I really liked his answer. He said, “That is an excellent question. Don’t misinterpret this, but I have realized in my life that when I am discouraged it is usually because I am thinking too much about myself.” So when we are discouraged we should start looking to how we can serve others.

Someone else asked about how we can balance everything in our lives, and he gave a great analogy of Chinese acrobats who spin plates on poles. He said that you can never have all the plates spinning at the same velocity at the same time. The trick is to not spin more plates than you are able, and start spinning the one that is closest to falling. He also talked about agency, and how it is a choice between various options. Then he taught that when we make a covenant, disobeying isn’t an option. He also talked a lot about the Atonement that I really enjoyed. There are obviously way too many things to write, and I am not even touching half of all that was said.

Just two other stories and I will be done. So then he started to ask the questions. He asked what had we realized and learned in the pattern of the conference, and a bunch of people gave their answers, but one sister had a great answer. She said that she realized that if our questions that we are too afraid to ask can be answered by the spirit, then our investigators’ questions that they are afraid to ask can be answered as well, if we teach with the Spirit. Elder Bednar immediately said, “Oh sister, I am afraid what I am about to say is going to terribly embarrass you. We are all familiar with the scripture, ‘and angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost.’ Well, brothers and sisters, you just heard the voice of an angel.” That was one of the times I got chills. I was one assigned to be a microphone runner, so Elder Bednar would call on someone and I would take the microphone to the missionary. Well, I happened to be the one that gave the microphone to that sister so I was standing right next to her, and all the sisters sit in the front, so we were only two rows away from Elder Bednar. When he said that, I could see up on the stand, all the mission presidents, the Snows, and Sister Bednar, and there weren’t very many dry eyes. Very few times in my life and in very few places have I felt the Spirit like I felt in that conference. I received witness after witness that Elder David A. Bednar is an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that this is the Restored Church of Jesus Christ on the earth. I enjoyed every second of it. Afterwards, President Benton shared with us some of the things Elder Bednar told him while on the stand. It was an interesting exchange. Elder Bednar said, “I think they are starting to get it.” And President said, “Yeah, a lot faster than we did.” Kind of interesting to think about. It makes me wonder about my future children and how they are going to be even more prepared and valiant.

So that was a short summary of the conference with Elder Bednar, but it wasn’t the end of my experience with him. On Sunday, he did the same thing, but with one of the stakes here in the mission, where members could go and ask questions. Well, they broadcasted it to all the stake centers, so we watched it haha, another 2 hours of Elder Bednar. It was great! Don’t worry, I won’t write another novel on what he said, but one last thing happened that was soooo cool. He asked a little girl to come up onto the stand with him to ask him a question. She was 7 years old, and asked him what it felt like to be an Apostle. He talked a little about feeling inadequate but with the Lord’s help he can do anything. Then he prophesied about the little girl! He said, “One day I will come back here. I will be coming back to South America many times. One of those times, you will be a bigger girl, and we will find ourselves in a meeting similar to this one. Will you please come up to me and say “hi”? “Hey Elder Bednar do you remember me? I was the seven year old girl you met all those years ago. I remember what you told me that night, and it helped me be a good girl. I look forward to seeing you again.” Her father sitting next to her was overwhelmed with emotion, as were Elder and Sister Snow. It was so great. This week has been one of the best in my mission. Carmen and Luis got married and baptized without a problem. The marriage was about 5 minutes long. You just walk in, sign the paper, take a photo, and you are done.

Well, I think I have successfully given myself carpel tunnel. Not to mention how utterly irreverent the length of this letter is. I love you. Chaucitos.

Elder Seanmichaelgilmore



p.s. we LOVED the harry potter beans, and kept closing our eyes and eating them trying to guess what it was...I had horrible luck...I got black pepper, then VOMIT, then sardines...it was so gross! anyway, we are going to the Benton's for Thanksgiving, and their oldest son Aaron, his wife, and three kids are all here too. they seem like a great family.

I liked the shirt too! but I wear a large so it is a little tight. also I appreciated the conference Ensign seeing as we still haven't gotten it here, and probably wont until february. Thanks again! love you bye

Monday, November 16, 2009

Ramos Mejia- Week #73

CANCEL EVERYTHING! ELDER BEDNAR IS COMING!

Howdy doody family,

Well, another fast week has zipped by me again. First off, I got the package, and thanks for everything! That new MoTab Christmas CD is just great. I love how there is a Prince of Egypt song on it…which has nothing to do with Christmas…I mean I think Egypt and Moses are the last things I think about when I think of Christmas, but I love the song all the same. It actually has some really inspirational lyrics if you listen to it. “You must look at your life, look at your life through Heaven’s eyes.” I can just picture Jethro dancing around and singing this, giving one of his daughters to Moses to marry. True love.

Anyway, enough of that trunky talk, I’ll answer your questions now. Yes I have been to the Wal-mart, but I didn’t browse around. We went for something specific in my first transfer here in the office, it is pretty cool I guess. It is for sure like the higher-end shopping in the mission, most areas just have chinos (that may sound racist, but here in Argentina very blunt things are perfectly acceptable to say. The only thing you can be politically incorrect about, or blaspheme, is a soccer team.) So yeah, a “chinos” is a super market owned by people from Asia. I don’t think you actually have to be from China to be qualified as a chinos. Long story short, wal-mart is a nice place here in Argentina…at least in the mission. I am sure that when you get out into some nicer areas, there is normal shopping. I have always shopped in a chinos…but you have to be careful because they try to scratch off the expiration dates on the food, I got some bad milk one time, and realized that they had changed the date on it, and the milk had expired 2 months earlier…but that was a long time ago. I hold no malice. Here in Ramos there is a big store we go to called Coto, which is kind of like Jumbo, the sign outside says it is a hyper-market…haha that is intense. Gone are the days of supermarkets…I shop at a hypermarket! I was almost physically sick when I saw all the streaks USC lost, and how the dynasty has come crashing down. Yeah I still have all of last year’s Christmas decorations, and the stocking. Mom: excellent word choice…”befuddled” I was impressed, and yes I understand what you mean.

Anyway, we have found out where Elder Sabey will be going, and what he will be doing. He is going out to a little town called “9 de Julio” to be Branch President! That NEVER happens. They usually send Latins to be branch presidents so that there is no language barrier. I have to admit when we found out I was a little mad and jealous. I want to go have a sweet assignment like that, but instead I am being left behind in the office…lame. However, I am pleased to announce that was only my mentality for a short time, and have come to the conclusion, after seeing all the manuals he has to study, and hearing about all the problems they are having out there, that I do not want to be a Branch President. Haha. No but really, I feel good about staying. There is something I still need to learn here, or something I still need to do, so I am happy to stay and see what the Lord has in store for me. He will stay here until after the conference with Elder Bednar, then he will head out to the branch, but will be coming back on Saturday for the baptism.

Speaking of baptisms, Carmen and Luis are doing great! I want to go to the wedding Friday morning, but we have to talk to President about it first. We went by to talk with them last night, and they were thanking us over and over again for what we have done for them. We really haven’t done anything, but I was grateful to Heavenly Father that He has allowed me to have these experiences here in Argentina. Every missionary dreams of finding a golden family, and this is mine. This is the family that every missionary dreams of finding. They ARE my family. Not as in the possessive sense of the phrase, but as in they are members of my family. I have never really thought about coming back to Argentina, but I would seriously consider it when they get sealed in the temple. It won’t be for a few years, because the temple closed, and Bryan is going on a mission in June (exactly one year after his baptism!), and they want to wait until he comes back. First we baptized Bryan, then two weeks later his sister, Fiorella, and now 5 months later, his parents too. This is what it is all about: Finding families so they can be together for eternity. I’ll be sure to take lots of pictures.

President is currently in a conference with all the mission presidents in Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay and Elder Bednar. He won’t be getting back until Wednesday, so hopefully the mission doesn’t collapse. Then Thursday Elder Bednar will be here to talk with the North, South, and West missions here in Ramos Mejia. I am pretty sure that he is only going to be here for that one day, but we have been informed he will be here in our offices, but I don’t know what that means or how much interaction we will have with him. It could be that he just comes in and eats alone with his wife and Elder Snow, and then leaves. We don’t have any details. We are cleaning everything! It kind of reminds me of the semi-annual cleaning week we had growing up at home because Grandma and Grandpa were coming from across the country to see us. Well, as important as Grandma and Grandpa are in my life…THIS IS ELDER BEDNAR WE ARE TALKING ABOUT!!!! So the stress level is just a bit higher. I am excited though, and I am sure this is just going to be a great week. Elder Zivic came specifically to tour our mission, so that is why he was here for more time.

I love Elder Palacios. He is on the ball. He lived for six months in Brigham City, Utah learning English. Also, we played soccer today for P-day and we were losing pretty badly at one point, but then Elder Palacios said he was going to play for real…and all of a sudden some kind of Chilean whirlwind took over the game and scored 13 goals for us…when I looked up I realized it wasn’t a whirlwind…it was Elder Palacios. So that was fun. So everything is going well for now. I will be sure to take lots of notes of what Elder Bednar says. Last year, the conference with Elder Nelson changed my mission, and my life for that matter. It strengthened my testimony in a lot of areas that I was weak in, so I am looking forward to enjoy whatever message an Apostle of the Lord has to give. ¡Les amo!

Elder Gilmore

Monday, November 9, 2009

Ever hear of the Joseph Smith Papers?

Elder Gilmore

Ramos Mejia- Week #72

Changes!!!

Howdy,

Well, this week has been an interesting one to say the least. It was really busy, and I actually have stories to tell this time. But first I will answer the questions that were in your e-mails. I have seen Michael Jackson “This is It” posters all over the place, and I have to say that it is the first time in my mission that I have contemplated going A-wall and sneaking out to go see it…ok not really, but that might be the FIRST thing I watch when back on American soil. Sorry Harry Potter. Anyways, for Christmas…I don’t know. Ha just kidding Mom. I guess I’ll take some ties and a car waiting at home (Audi A4, or something similar). That’s all thanks. I will say as well though, with all the love and thanks that I possess, that it does not need to be as big as last year’s. I probably won’t be getting mail the day Elder Bednar comes, I assume anyway. I would say the Italian influence is most prevalent in the food. We either eat meat, or pasta of some sort. Yesterday we had raviolis.

So, on to the news of the week. First, I think it is important to announce that there is a new office elder here. His name is Elder Palacios and he is from Chile. He only has 8 months in the mission, so he is still a pretty young elder. He is really cool though. I already knew him before he came in, and he was just training, so he had to leave his son just like I did. I haven’t brought it up yet because I am sure it was painful. Anyway, he speaks well in English, so he should have no problem being in the offices. So he is here to replace Elder Sabey, and got here last night to start his duties, which makes me…his new companion? Yes, shocking but true, there is no replacement coming in for me. I will be here to start my fifth transfer in the office. That is…7 ½ months…almost a third of my mission. I have mixed feelings about it. I love the ward here, and being around President, but I was a little anxious to get back out working full time. Not going to lie though, I am a little excited to see what the holiday season is like with the Benton family. So yeah, it is a little strange after being with Elder Sabey for six months, to think about having a different companion. I am sure I will have more to comment on next week after it all kind of sinks in.

I have been thinking a lot about people going through repentence. For someone who has tripped and fallen on the path, the last thing they need is for someone to point their finger and laugh, or talk about how weak they are. No, they need someone to support them and help them get up and running again. I didn’t understand that fully 16 months ago. But something that I have learned here in the mission, and something that Elder Fox mentioned as well, is that the people who judge you or say things about you aren’t the ones who care about you, and obviously don’t understand much about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The people who are going through a repentance process are the ones who most need our love and support. They don’t need to be shunned like they are defiled. They aren’t lepers! It goes back to what Hermana Benton said, “People already know about their faults. They need their strengths emphasized.” I would be embarrassed and ashamed if one day my Father asked me why I didn’t help someone trying as hard as they could to get back to His presence and I had to say…because they messed up and I think I am better than them…? How childish. Anyway, just an interesting thought, how sometimes when we mess up we receive the most heat from members in the church, when you would think that they would try lifting you.

So with the temple closing, for some reason they are giving away almost everything that was inside. It was like a massive garage sale where everything was free. We got a bunch of paintings and furniture to put in the offices and the apartments of the mission. It was kind of fun. We drove by at night, and the temple lights were all off. It was just a huge looming building, but it was dark. It was no longer a beacon of light unto the world. So we spent a day hauling stuff back and forth from the temple to the office.

I had another interesting experience this week, too. Elder Sabey and I contacted one of the references we had, and upon getting to know her (Maria) we found out her husband died a little more than a year ago. She probably talked for a good ten minutes straight about how it was a true love and how perfect they were together, and little stuff they used to do for each other. The plan of salvation was PERFECT for this lady. Well, it is perfect for everyone, but you know what I mean. We taught and testified of the plan of salvation, but long story short, she didn't want to hear more. She just talked about how she believed in God, was thinking about being a nun, didn't need us, and how she wasn't going to see her husband again so she wasn't going to have false hope. I felt the spirit strongly as Elder Sabey testified that she could live with him, and how we wanted to help her believe. She wasn't having it, and just said, "No lo creo." (I don’t believe it) Come on! I felt like asking, "Do you even want to believe? Doesn't it at least sound like a nice idea?" We testified one more time, gave her a folleto (pamphlet/booklet/thing) and told her we would come by later anyway to talk with her more, but I just sat thinking about it for a while. If she really loved her husband like she said, wouldn't she do everything possible to be with him again, no matter how far-fetched it might sound? And if she believed in God, why would you think that He would be so cold as to not let you even have the chance to be with your family after this life? It was so obvious, but she didn't even want to try. There was no desire, and it was sad. I was sad that she wouldn't try. We were there. She was there. The Spirit was there, and she wouldn't try to believe.

It was interesting that as we got back into the car, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir CD we were listening to came back on, and “We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet" started playing. I don't think it was a coincidence, because its message was perfect. "We doubt not the Lord nor His goodness. We've proved Him in days that are passed. ...Thus onto eternal perfection, the honest and faithful will go. While they who reject this glad message, shall never such happiness know." How sad! She will never know this happiness we have if she doesn’t try. That’s why we all have to do all we can to help others realize how happy they can be if they have this gospel in their life.

Elder Gilmore

Monday, November 2, 2009

Ramos Mejia- Week #71

Happy Turkey Month !!!

Hey Crew,

I was thinking the other day about how in middle school I loved watching Strongbad emails on Homestarrunner.com, and how he always had a different introduction to start off an e-mail…well…I couldn’t remember any, so I can’t use one right now, so I will just dive right in. Sounds like everyone had a busy yet fun Halloween. It was funny here, because hardly anyone celebrates it. I never saw one decoration. I was on splits with our ward mission leader, Kevín, Friday night and we saw some kids out trick or treating…umm…Friday was the 30th. They didn’t even do it on the right day haha. Kevín is from Peru and usually comments on ridiculous Argentine quirks. He said, “I thought Halloween was tomorrow…I guess there is a soccer match tomorrow.” Yes, Argentina would change Halloween so that they could go to the stadium on Saturday and not have to worry about their kids. Whatever makes everyone happy! So despite the time of year, it feels nothing like the holiday season. It might also have something to do with the fact that it all of a sudden got really hot and humid. I almost died several times this week from heat stroke. It rained though so it cooled down a bit now.

The countdown has started for the arrival of Elder Bednar. He will be here the 19th of November. The area presidency has suggested that we fast about questions we might have for him. I have a few, but I don’t think I will muster up the gumption to ask, plus they aren’t really formed into a coherent sentence I could verbalize. I have the faith that I will receive an answer from the Spirit. They said that it might be just a huge question and answer session, so I am pretty excited for it, considering the question and answer session was the best part of when Elder Nelson came last year. So we are cleaning the offices pretty well, and a bunch of repairs are being done on the church. The temple just closed yesterday for 18 months to remodel, and somehow President worked it out so that we are getting some of the paintings and furniture from the temple to put here in the office, so that is a bonus I guess. I am sad that the temple closed, though, because that means I won’t be going again until I get home. I don’t know if I wrote this already in a past e-mail, but I was thinking about how I want this to be the longest amount of time in my life I ever go without going to the temple, especially since there are so many in the States. It really is easy for us to go to the temple back home. The members here will now have to go to Uruguay or Paraguay, but they are small temples so you can’t go whenever you want, because supposedly they will be filled to capacity. So each stake gets like three visits a year or something like that. Anyway, I won’t be visiting the temple here in Buenos Aires ever again, unless sometime after my mission.

So a lot of stuff happened this week. We were really busy on both ends of the work. The missionaries from the MTC came to our area to practice their contacting and all that jazz, and we received like 80 references, or referrals, or whatever they are in English. So we have been using all of our spare time trying to get out and contact them all. Carmen and Luis are still doing great, and their wedding is still set for the 20th, the day after Elder Bednar comes. Let’s just say that week’s e-mail is going to be good. So that is what we are working with right now in the missionary work.

Here in the office we have been swamped as well. Unfortunately we had some problems in the mission and there were some flashes. A flash here is when someone is transferred in the middle of the six-week transfer to another area. I was assigned to captain the voyage which was sweet because I have never been out to campo (the country). The only down side was that we left at 8:00 at night. So Elder Gamboa and I took the Elder out there and were received well by the Elders out there, with a box of empanadas. Elder Mills from my MTC district is out there right now as District Leader, so I got to see him and catch up a bit. Then we had to drive the two hours back…so we got back into Buenos Aires at about midnight, and I was tired. But I loved it anyway, because it was just dark open road and reminded me of driving late in Montana. The only difference was there are no mountains here, but there was some cool lightning. I love long drives, it is like therapeutic or something for me, even more because we can’t listen to the radio and I was sick of the only CD we had, so it basically forced me to think and meditate about life. Then last night we were up late playing the whole numbers game and Elder Sabey was making El Sol, the mission newsletter. So a few long nights but I’m still up and running.

I would try and get some rest today, but something horrible has happened. There is a very sporadic (I thought it was “sparatic” but spell check tells me otherwise) cycle that accompanies the correspondence of a missionary. For example, let’s say you are lucky and about 10 people are writing you. It would be hard to write ten letters every week back to them. What saves you is that they are all on their own cycles, and you might only get one or two a week to have to respond to. What I have now learned by sad experience is that if I get behind on writing back…I find myself in a complicated situation. Everyone who is writing to me has written me, and I now have to write them all back if I expect more mail. It is kind of like a big game of hot potato, and I have all of them in the drawer in my desk…now the question is whether they will sit there and rot or whether I will pass them back. Anywho, guess I’ll go get started. Have a great week! Also, we have declared it appropriate to start listening to Christmas music here in the office, so we are having a pretty good time.

Elder S. Michael Gilmore

P.S. I don’t go by Michael…I go by Elder…but I get bored putting the same thing at the end of every email, so I change it up occasionally. Although remember when we first moved to Texas and I told everyone my name was Mike, and they called me Mike for the whole youth activity in Nacogdoches, and then remembered like two months later at another activity. It was weird.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Tie Clip

This picture was taken the day of the transfer meeting two weeks ago. Sean is wearing a tie clip that he got from the Bishop of the Ramos Mejia Ward in Argentina for meeting their baptism goals for the Ward.


Ramos Mejia- Week #70

Hey Family,

Another week in the books…they are passing by so quickly now…I don’t even know what to write, because it feels like I just wrote you yesterday. Well, Elder Sabey’s birthday was fun. We celebrated it yesterday with President and Hermana at the mission home. They cooked us breakfast, egg casserole and pancakes…it was so good. Then we went golfing with President. It was fun, and I did a lot better than last time we went. I took a few videos so you could see my athletic prowess…I only lost one ball in the water hazard. So that was fun yesterday. It wasn’t actually his birthday yesterday though. It was last Friday, so to celebrate together we bought a pineapple and ate it. Our tongues were pretty ripped up after from the acid intake. Have you ever tried eating a whole pineapple before? Let’s just say when it is your birthday, or your companions, you just have to be wild and eat a whole pineapple. Sounds like everyone is keeping busy with the holidays coming up, while here in Argentina I haven’t even seen one hint of Halloween…it isn’t very big here. I actually can’t believe it is this week.

Well, Elder Sabey and I came to the realization that no matter what our companionship is coming to an end in four short weeks. It definitely will be weird to have a different companion, after being with him for four transfers. We were talking about it in our weekly planning, and realized that for both of us this has been the most successful companionship we have ever been a part of, and that we have been blessed with more baptisms in this ward than any other companionship that has served here before, as far as the mission records go. I am not saying that to brag, or put us up in the spotlight, because it really did humble us. We realized that we have two baptisms planned for the end of the transfer, and two things could happen. 1. It would be really easy to coast until the end. We would still have two baptisms this transfer and we could reminisce about the glory days of yester-transfers, and no one would really be the wiser. We would still have had a great companionship, but after talking about it, we both agreed that we don’t care about how things were in “the good ol' days…because these ARE the good ol’ days!” HAHAHA ok sorry, that was just a family inside joke…good old Denson Bates from Bossier Ward talking about the good old days. Anyway, moral of the story is that we chose option 2. We decided to sprint to the finish, as they say, and give this last month every single thing we have left to end one of the most important relationships I have had in my mission. We set some pretty high goals, and are going to do all we can to stay diligent and meet them. We also took a moment to realize that it might still be that we only end up with two baptisms, and to the outside world, to the mission, to the ward, and to President, it looks as if situation one occurred, but we know what the Lord expects out of us, and we want to do the right things for the right reasons. So we are excited for what happens this month we have left together.

So yesterday Hermana Benton said something that really hit me. She always has these one-liners that sound like they should go into an inspirational quote book, because they inspire me to try and do better more often than not. In Argentina there is a phrase that people love using. It is “Drop the cane”. They use it when someone is chewing someone else out…or calling them to repentance or something. It is used a lot during General Conference. For example, Elder Scott dropped the cane on pornography. Or, my mom dropped the cane on me for getting home late. (Hypothetical example) Anyway, we were talking about it at breakfast yesterday, and Hermana Benton had some really good insight on it. She mentioned how she didn’t think it was a very effective way to try and correct someone’s actions. Then she said, “People already know all about their faults. They need their strengths emphasized.” It is so true. GO HERMANA BENTON! People need to hear the great things they are doing, not just the things they need to do better. It is something that I am going to try and do better at. So, as a missionary of the Lord I challenge anyone reading this to try and give out a few more sincere compliments this week, and see how you help brighten someone else’s day. President and Hermana Benton are the masters at giving compliments. They notice little things that others do and thank them for it. Let’s not take the people around us for granted. Anyway, that’s all I have for this week. I hope you all have a happy Halloween. Thanks for all the pictures family. Keep them coming.

Love, Elder S. Michael Gilmore

P.S. yeah I got all the cereal Dad, it is great!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hospital Posada

This is when Sean went to the hospital to play with the terminally ill children

This is Milagros who was not allowed to eat the chocolate they brought her so they gave her a toy.




Ramos Mejia- Week #69

Por favor.... Por favor

Hey Grandpa Mike and Grandma Page,

I’ll answer your questions first. The package came, and it was not in one piece. I didn’t have to pay anything for it. It had been broken into. I took a video of it so that you can see the state it arrived in. Long story short, it looked like they ripped into it, ripped open every bag that had candy in it, (I assume looking for valuables) and somehow didn’t find the ring, the memory card, or Dad’s patriarchal blessing. Go figure! They did however eat a few of the apple sauces. I guess there was so much stuff inside they got bored before they got to the valuable stuff at the bottom. So I saw the videos, and have cracked up and fallen in love with Rihanna…I mean Rhiannon…I mean, well you know what I mean. She is going to be perfect for me to take out and attract women with, you know showing my sensitive fatherly side…nah just kidding, that stuff never works, and I wouldn’t stoop so low as to manipulate a five year old like that. My toe is fine, Mom, I only wake up with my sock soaked in blood a few times a week now, so I think it is healing. Also, that last sentence was just dripping with sarcasm, don’t worry, it is completely fine. That’s cool that you made Enrichment stuff for the house. Also, go Lacey super step-mom. Elder Sabey hadn’t heard of the pizza place in Denver. We haven’t really started anything yet for Elder Bednar. He will be visiting here in Ramos Mejía and North and South mission are coming, so it will be more like the time we saw Elder Nelson, and less like with Elder Zivic. I don’t know any more details that that.

So as for Daylight Savings Time: I don’t know if you heard, but Argentina did not participate in it. This is not a joke…they actually refused to do it. President printed off an article that says, “Argentina Says No to Daylight Savings Time”…ha…haha…really? Yes, so we didn’t change any clocks, because the government here decided like the day before that they would have none of it, because there is “no need for it.” I don’t think that they or I fully understand the consequences of this decision, but I am sure that this somehow throws off the whole Gregorian calendar and Ben Franklin is scratching his head in the Spirit World. The biggest thing about this that affects the mission is flight times…but I am sure everything will work out.

So it was another busy week. It always seems like there is a lot that happens, but it doesn’t translate over into an interesting email. It was just busy. One cool thing that did happen was that, like in Brett’s mission, for the first time we as office elders were invited to the zone leader conference at the mission home. Most of them are my good friends, so it wasn’t awkward for me to be there like it was for Brett. Or at least, it wasn’t like what Kyle assumed it was like for Brett. I had a good time. There was a huge ping pong tournament, which Team Gilbey entered…and…we lost in the semi-final against the zone leaders of Marcos Paz…I could give excuses…but I’ll just say that we made too many mistakes. Alright change of subject.

So we went down with the zone leaders, President, and Hermana Benton to Rio de la Plata for a short walk, and had a very interesting experience. We stopped on a little bridge looking thing to take a picture, and there was a small hill / look out point that we were going to go up onto. Well there were like 10 college kids up there and they see the army of black suits nearby. It turns out that they were from the States, studying abroad, and it was apparent that they knew who we were. So we were just taking some photos and some guy that was too cool for his own good yells down at us, “Polygamists!” Good one, buddy. We just minded our own business, and a few seconds later he yells, “Child-Rapists!”…our general opinion at this point is that he is an idiot…and President turns around and says to him, “Hermano por favor”…just trying to be nice and courteous. Then he can’t shut his mouth and down right mocks President Benton, and with an imitation of his accent he says, “POR FAVOR POR FAVOR!” I won’t forget how I felt in that moment or the way that I saw 22 other Elders tense up at the sound of our President being disrespected like that. President just brushed it off and started to walk toward us. I thought that we were just going to leave and forget about it, and then I learned a valuable lesson from President Benton. He said, “Let’s go up there.” So we followed him up and we started talking with all the students there. All of them were really friendly, and President talked with them about the Church and everything. The immature kid just kind of sat in silence after that, and we got to know these other students just getting to know Buenos Aires. They took pictures of us all lined up, and then one girl asked if she could have a picture with us, President said yes, and she came on over and put her arms around me and Elder Hatch…Elder Hatch was just mumbling under his breath, “five more weeks, five more weeks.” He goes home in five weeks, and my hands shot into my pockets. President was just laughing. I told him I would probably need an interview after that, and he has joked around with me about it a few times since then. So I basically had a girl wrapped around me on the romantic Rio de la Plata…it is probably on the internet by now.

Anyway, moral of the story is that President showed that it is possible to share the gospel in all places and situations. It would have been easy enough to just leave and forget about it, but he marched up there and shared the gospel with them. He didn’t retaliate to pathetic insults, but instead was just loving and friendly and got to know some people who needed the gospel. It was really cool for me to see the patience and love that President shows towards all people. I was also thinking about how I felt in that moment. It was a sickening feeling to see a man I admire and love so much be mocked like that. That kid didn’t know the influence that President has had on me, the other missionaries, or this world, and then the soul-searching question presented itself. How do I feel when I hear the lips of men mock our Lord, Jesus Christ? The Son of God, who I admire and love so much, who has had such an influence on me, and on the world, is mocked more than any other being I can think of. How do I feel in those moments? Interesting question to ask yourself. Our lives are constantly filled with opportunities to learn and recognize the Savior’s influence in our lives.

Elder Gilmore

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ramos Mejia- Week #68

Busy Busy Busy

Hey Mom and Dad,

Well this week has been really busy, and I haven’t gotten much sleep in the past three days. We have some really good news, and that is that Bryan’s parents, Carmen and Luis, have a marriage date for the 20th of November, and a baptismal date for the 21st. It is the last week of the transfer, and a few days after Elder Bednar is going to visit the mission. We have a few other prospects for baptism before that too, but we will see. This week has been transfers, and fifteen new missionaries are about to show up in about 2 hours or so. It has probably been one of the busiest transfer weeks I have participated in so far. Elder Woodmansee is now with his parents, and we have welcomed in our new assistant, Elder Aceituno. He is from Chile, but speaks English really well. It is the first time that President Benton has had a Latin assistant since he has gotten to the mission. I think it will be good for the mission, and Elder Aceituno is awesome.

Well, Sunday night was crazy because we were trying to get ready for the big transfer meeting we have, and I had to get all of the sound technology stuff…i.e. microphones, projector hook-ups, and it was getting complicated. The member who usually gets us all our stuff was on vacation or something, and so I had to call the counselor in the stake presidency to track down a key to the sound/audio room. It was stressful…because we can’t have the meeting unless we have the projector and microphones. Well we could, but it wouldn’t be good. So we ended up getting a key at 7:00 Monday morning, the day of transfer meeting, and we told by the stake that after the broadcast of General Conference everything was disconnected, so good luck. Ha GREAT! So cables were going everywhere, and we used some from our own stash to jimmy-rig some kind of miracle solution to the problem. Long story short…lot of stress…everything worked out fine.

1 day later…Ok so right now I am writing Wednesday morning because there was no time for anything. All the 15 new missionaries made it fine. There is a new sister missionary whose family is from Spain, and she has dual citizenship in the USA and Spain. She speaks perfectly in both languages…well, at least as well as she can with that strange Spanish accent, and her lisping all the time. I feel bad for Brett that he has to learn such a weak and feeble version of the language. Nah, just kidding, it isn’t that strange, and I can’t really talk, because she is fluent. So for the past two days as well we have been playing host to all the missionaries going home, and the trainers. It has been interesting. They have taken over the offices, and that is one of the reasons I haven’t written earlier. There are only four computers in here, and for some reason everyone thought that they could get on them whenever they wanted, so there were never any free ones to use, but the madness has passed and no harm was done.

Sorry this one is short, but there really is no time for anything this week. There isn’t very much to tell anyways, just running around loving every minute of it. We never did get to play our championship match, but President invited the staff over for the zone leader conference on Friday where there will be two ping pong tables set up for the ultimate tournament. We hope to be in a good rhythm on Friday. I let you know how it turned out next week. I love you, and sounds like things are looking up. That’s great that you two are doing well on your weight loss challenge! Just keep working Mom, you will break through a wall and will start to shed the pounds like crazy. I’m glad Lacey is doing so well, too. Well, talk to you next week.

Elder Gilmore

P.S. I just read through this thing, and it is kind of boring…sorry about that…

Monday, October 5, 2009

Ramos Mejia- Week #67

Conference!

Buenas,

So before I give my thoughts on Conference, first I would just like to say that I will be applying President Monson’s Priesthood session talk and not be angry or insulted by Mom’s email when she said that the part in my hair is ugly and I should stop doing it…first of all, I think you owe an apology to Elder Varela, he does his best, and second it is a mission rule to have a part in your hair, and although I think it is ridiculous, I would appreciate if the woman closest to me in my life would encourage me to obey mission rules. But for the record I hate it as well. Also, Elder Sabey does have a part in his hair, it just isn’t as noticeable. Also, Elder Zivic isn’t just an area seventy; he is up in the First Quorum of the Seventy. He was sitting there in the conference center. And I didn’t really lie about my toe in May, because it didn’t hurt in May, so I figured I wouldn’t worry you. That white house with the gate is the mission home where President and Hermana Benton live. I do not know an Elder Mason. Yes, Dad I would love some athletic socks, they don’t have to be ankle socks. Ankle socks aren’t good for Clay court tennis. I still have plenty of journal space left. I didn’t eat the avocado…Elder Varela used it for some kind of salsa…he is of Mexican descent. Anyway, now that we have that out of the way…

G-G-G-ENERAL COOOOOOOONFERENCE! Loved it. I had a lot of questions going into it, and received a lot of answers as well. After President Monson announced five new temples, Elder Scott answered a lot of my questions right off the bat about personal revelation, and being guided by the Spirit. I consider that one of my weaknesses. I think I have always relied a little too much on myself and not enough on the promptings of the Spirit, also he just dropped the cane all over the place on pornography, which Argentina needs to hear, because it is just infested with it. I also loved Russell Osguthorpe’s talk on teaching, because, well…I teach a lot. Then the two power hitters ended the session, Elder Bednar and President Uchtdorf. Both were so inspiring! It was very clear to me that the underlying theme of this conference was love, specifically God’s love for us and our love for God. President Uchtdorf taught us so much about the nature of our Father. Elder Oaks spoke on love as well, in a talk that was; as President Benton put it, “meaty”, which was true…I was trying not to let everything he was saying fly over my head. He packed a lot of ideas into 15 minutes. I also absolutely loved Elder Andersen’s talk on repentance. It feels like a long time since we have heard a talk specifically on that. I loved it all. I wrote down a few quotes from it, such as, “The Savior is able and eager to forgive our sins.” “In this life, it is never too late to repent.” And, “Repentance always means that there is greater happiness ahead.”

Priesthood session was really good, too. I was thinking about Dad the whole time Elder Ballard was talking about Father-Son relationships, as I am sure all sons were. Other than that, Priesthood session just made me trunky! It was all advice to returned missionaries. Elder Ballard and President Uchtdorf took a part of their talks to talk to returned missionaries. It was funny. Yoon Hwan Choi just made me laugh inside every time he said “rowdy boys” which he used frequently in his talk, and all of the First Presidency messages were great. Sunday was just as good with all the talks. All I have to say is that Elder Holland blew everyone’s mind with his talk/testimony. It was one of those talks where I didn’t take many notes, but instead just sat back and listened. I just love how he gets all fired up about everything. I don’t think I learned much “new doctrine” from it, but it definitely was one of the most inspiring of the conference, and I loved the story about Joseph and Hyrum, also the fact that he had the book with him there at the pulpit. Elder Christofferson gave a great talk as well to wrap things up. I loved all of it, and there are a lot of things that I need to improve on and change, but that is why we have Conference. I also just loved the music. I thought of Grandpa when they sang, “Have I Done Any Good?” and the time we sang it at his funeral, and O Divine Redeemer was amazing, too. Anyway, it was all so good, and all of our converts were there, and three investigators.

Today we are going to the mission home for a little family night, and last night we held an office meeting with President, were we all submitted a silent ballot as to what our three favorite talks were. The co-winners were Elder Holland and President Uchtdorf on love, so President told us we will watch those tonight at his house. Also, Team Gilbey (Gilmore-Sabey) will be defending its championship title in the Benton Classic Ping-Pong Tournament. Wish us luck.

Love, Sean