Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Merlo- Week 40

It's Autumn Time, It's Autumn Time, The Leaves are Falling Down

Hello again, from Sunny Merlo

Well, let’s just start out by saying thank you for the packages Mom, Dad, and Grandma Wilma. I loved everything inside, especially the Lay’s chips Grandma, because I can only buy generic brand stuff here and it just doesn’t taste the same. To answer Mom’s questions, yes I love you; white shirts would be appreciated, good to go with garments because I bought some when I went to the temple. Don’t really need any of that other stuff, except more paper to write letters would be nice. I am running out. Don’t want more scripture stickers; I don’t really use them that much. Also, if you tried to attach that website, it didn’t work, because I don’t see anything in the e-mail about a link or anything. Thanks for the letters Nat and Gabe! Responses will be arriving in a few weeks.

Alright, March is now over, Autumn started, and today it was actually really nice out, not hot, not cold. Also, today ends the third month of my blackout year, and it ended with a great Zone Conference last Friday. It was all about the Atonement, with Easter coming up and all. Also, we got a mission wide memo about General Conference. The last mission president always made the elders bring investigators to the sessions or they couldn’t go, which I understand, I mean, it is important that investigators go to gain a testimony of living prophets, but President Benton came out with a new policy. He has made it mandatory that we go to ALL sessions of General Conference, with or without investigators, although we should put forth every effort to have investigators there. That’s what I am talking about! I like the way he thinks. The way I see it, if the investigators can’t make it, the best way I can help them is to take a bunch of notes and tell them all about what the General Authorities had to say. I am more than excited for Conference this weekend. Um...anybody ever heard of new Apostle? I have a few picks myself, which go as follows: 1. Richard G. Hinckley...ever heard of him? Son of Gordon B. 2. Allen F. Packer...yeah his dad is Boyd K. 3. L. Whitney Clayton...of the presidency of the Seventy, he just looks like an Apostle. Long Shot: Yoshihiko Kikuchi...who better to start the work in China than the “Man from Japan” Well, anyways...I am probably way off, but it was kind of fun to guess.

So last Wednesday we had Ward Council, and let’s just say it seemed like everything got dumped on the Elders. The Bishop in the middle of the meeting stops the Relief Society President from talking and looks at us and says, “Elders, you are in charge of Sacrament Meeting on Sunday, hymns, prayers, talks, everything.” Um...was that just some crazy revelation...or were you planning on telling us sooner? Anyways, we got everything planned and it was actually a great meeting, and a lot of members came up to us after complimenting our talks. Then on Sunday after the meetings, our Bishop tells us that there is a Ward Family Night on Thursday and that we are in charge...ok that one annoyed me. What if we had appointments...or a meeting...or just plain don’t want to do it. With General Conference this weekend we are going to be running around like crazy as it is trying to complete our weekly goals, and now we have to plan a big ward activity in four days...great. But we are getting a lot of help from the members, and they are planning a lot of it for us, so that is nice.

So we were in a lesson with a lady and her kids that we have been teaching since my first week here in Merlo, and she kind of gave us a wakeup call in terms of how we teach as a companionship. She told us, “You know what, I have noticed that you two do the same thing every time you come. Elder Arriola starts out talking with us a bunch about random things to make us comfortable, he makes us laugh and we feel like you are our friends, and then once we are all feeling comfortable, he starts to teach us about something, but doesn’t explain it very well, then Elder Gilmore comes in and starts explaining what Arriola tried to explain, and he explains it really well, and we understand the Book of Mormon more, but it seems like Elder Gilmore is the only teacher, and Elder Arriola is the only friend.” OUCH! Way to totally stab us in the heart. I felt bad that she said that about Elder Arriola, but also that she doesn’t think I am her friend. I try to small talk more, but Elder Arriola really does talk a lot about whatever comes to his mind, and he is really funny, but needs to work more on his teaching skills, and I guess I need to work more on my social skills...oh well that’s why we have the Atonement, to be able to change our ways.

Also, thought I should tell you, that on February 16th I sent Bishop Orton and Livingston Ward some letters...and on Monday, March 30th, I got the letter back. Obviously I got the address wrong. So if you could send me that it would be great. I thought I knew it, but I was wrong. Well, I am sorry this is going to be a short letter, but I am kind of sick to my stomach, and am uncomfortable in this internet place...I would just feel more comfortable back in the pench in case it gets worse.

Love, Sean

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Merlo- Week #39

Random Numbers

Hey Everyone!

First off I need to let you in on a little bad news. I didn’t get the package again this week, because we didn’t have a district meeting yesterday due to the fact that zone conference is on Friday. So I will be receiving it on Friday. That also means, that all the letters I wrote last week, and this week, are not going to be sent until Friday, so expect that little delay (including a birthday letter for dad). Also, the weekly newsletter this week (El Sol) says that we are going to have to start paying for our packages you send, so I am not exactly sure what that means, but ok.

Just to start off, this week was a bit stressful, but we made it through alright. I stressed all week the importance of goals to Elder Arriola and we ended up reaching a lot of the weekly goals we put, but he is still struggling to understand their importance...now if he only knew he was struggling we would be in good shape to try and course correct. We had to set a baptism goal for the transfer, and last transfer he wanted to put 10, which is way high for this mission, the highest anyone usually gets in a transfer is 8 or so, but last transfer I didn’t really know him that well, and didn’t want to squander his faith, so I talked a little about it with him and we lowered it to 7, and last transfer we had 5, so we didn’t reach the goal. I feel we could have reached it, but we didn’t work like we wanted to reach it. So this transfer, we have a few prospects too, so we prayed, and started to talk about the goal we wanted to put. Here is the conversation that took place:
G-No, last transfer we didn’t reach seven and we started the transfer with five dates.
G-I think three.
A-We going to put six then?
G-ELDER! Are you just saying random numbers, or do you actually have people in mind?
A-Well, Eduardo, Margarita, Marcelo and Ana are four.
G-We have only taught Marcelo and Ana once and they aren’t married.
A-I feel three would be a good goal.
G-..........(in English, so he didn’t understand) you amaze me.......
G-Good idea, Elder, I agree with three.

Other than that, we have been making a lot of progress. Also, we had to move all the baptisms back two more weeks, because there is a stake activity this Saturday, and the bishop doesn’t want to make the members choose between the baptism and the stake...and then the next week is GENERAL CONFERENCE!!! I am pumped up! So baptisms on hold for the time being. Speaking of the living prophets and apostles, I got a little trunky last night, but in a way you wouldn’t have thought was possible. We went to visit a less active family and put on a little family night with them, then we watched Special Witnesses of Christ, and let me tell you, not a good idea. They are showing clips of Salt Lake, Temple Square, the MTC all over the place, and I was like, “Oh my gosh, turn this off right now.” Also, I don’t want to add to the missing of Grandpa, but when I was watching the L. Tom Perry segment, all I could think of was Grandpa. L. Tom Perry and Grandpa have the same mouth and teeth. It is strange to think he has been gone a year already. Also, I turned nine months in the mission last week! I am almost into double digits!

A few little questions. How much did my ring cost? There are a ton of people here that want my ring, members and such, and I tried to explain that it is expensive from the states but they want to know that price anyway...they can only get the green ones at the temple here. Send more green ones anyway, because I gave all of them away already. Also, I am running out of peanut butter... Also, some song just came on and the announcer said that it is a hit song that just came out in the states(which means it actually probably came out 6 months ago) but a woman is singing that she kissed a girl and liked it...also something about cherry chapstick...I can’t hear it very well....how did this become a hit song? It felt so right it felt so wrong... oh geez...I feel wrong listening to it. Just sing a hymn. Well, all is going well here in the mission, hope things continue to go well there too, talk to you next week!

Love, Sean

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Merlo- Week #38

St. Patrick's Day and T-Day! (Transfer day)

Holla! I mean… ¡Hola!

Letter update. I got handwritten letters from Dad, Dad, and…Da…just kidding, Livingston Ward Seminary Class! I got the card and picture dad, also your handwritten letter, which I thoroughly enjoyed. No packages, don’t know what happened there…but now I already know what is inside because mom said it all in her letter hahaha.

Well first, I am sure you all are wondering what happened with Transfers yesterday. Let’s just say I predicted pretty much everything correctly. There are no changes in our apartment. I am going to be with Elder Arriola for another six weeks, and Elder Steele and Elder Mackay are staying, too. This is Elder Steele’s last transfer, so he is dying in Merlo! It was a sweet meeting. We found out who the new assistant is….Elder Woodmansee! He was my zone leader for three transfers in Catán, and I have done divisions with him and stuff, so now both assistants, Pollock and Woodmansee, have been my zone leaders and I have done divisions with them. I told Elder Woodmansee after the meeting that I have learned at the feet of the prophets…I mean assistants. The meeting was also great because we found out how many baptisms the mission had this transfer. Remember when we broke the record a few transfers ago when we had 135, well that was a big deal, because the usual number is about 100, 110 or around there, so 135 was a huge deal. But also, remember that in August when Elder Scott came he gave us the challenge of doubling the number of converts in the mission in one year, and he said he would do everything possible to help us in our goal. Well, this past transfer, we really saw the miracles in the entire mission. President set a goal last transfer that every area has at least one convert, but we didn’t reach it. 70% of the areas had a baptism, which is higher than ever before, but we are trying again this transfer to work together so that every area has a baptism and confirmation. Anyway, we blew the old record out of the water. The convert count last transfer from Feb. 2nd to March 15th was 179!!!! 179!!!!!!!!! That is more than anyone has ever imagined in this mission, but we are doing it. We are meeting the apostolic challenge of Elder Scott, and everyone is excited. Also, everyone is nervous, too, because we have to maintain this level of work. Our mission has a history of exploding with success, and then falling hard into mediocrity….but not this time…Also, Elder Sabey, Stokes, and Maxwell from my MTC district were all made senior companion this transfer. After the meeting I was chatting it up with Elder Sabey, and President walks up to us smiling and said, “I don’t know what it is about you two, but you have attitude we need in this mission.” Then he said to me, “One more with Arriola. Remember what I told you? (I said yes) Good, I have confidence in your abilities, Elder.” Then he walked away into the sunset, like Aslan at the end of the Narnia movie…never to be seen again until I need him. Actually I will see him again next Friday at zone conference.

Well, we didn’t end up having baptisms last weekend either, Margarita is still missing in action. Literally, 11 days of not being home, doesn’t seem like much, but in missionary time, when you are working toward weekly and transfer goals, that is a hefty chunk. Eduardo is still going strong, but I don’t know if we told you this, but we moved the date to the 28th of February, because he uncle who is going to baptize him, is recovering from a broken arm, so he wanted to finish his physical therapy or something. So we are humming along here in Merlo. It was interesting to hear all the Elder Perry talk from Joseph and Brett about how we should be teaching at least 20 lessons a week. I also apologize that I am serving in the Promised Land, aka, El Dorado, where we are teaching 30-40 lessons a week…also, it isn’t my fault that the Lord promised the Lamanites they would have a second chance… Also, I am a firm believer that Brett was the most responsible, spiritual, and prepared of all of us to go on a mission, so maybe that is why he is on the front lines in Spain giving it all he has, because he is one of the only ones who has what it takes to fight in the big leagues…I look up to him. I miss him. I pray for him. I won’t ask him to marry me, but can we at least live across the street from each other someday? Also, Kyle…

Well out of time haha; guess my praises to Kyle will have to wait. I am glad things are going well.

Love you all,


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Merlo- Week #37

I love to see the temple.... I went there today!

Hey Everyone!

First off, thank you Grandma Sherry for the package! That is all I got this week, no letters. I thought it was funny that Grandma put Irish Spring soap in the package, but what was even better was that yesterday I ran out of all my soap, and I was going to just have to bathe myself with shampoo this morning before the temple, but because of grandmotherly intuition, I was able to use soap to smell like the rolling hills of my homeland in the temple. Because despite various family arguments, we have proven that we are more Irish than English...sorry Mom, majority rules. Which reminds me, once during a contact I told an old man I was from Ireland, and he started telling me of all the whiskey he has ever consumed and how Irish whiskey is always the best, then I gave him a pamphlet on the Word of Wisdom...also tell Grandma that I LOVE the mango bars she sent...and that she is welcome to send more whenever she sends another package. I always knew I liked Trader Joe’s.

In answer to questions, I am not sure if Merlo is more dangerous...I know a few robbers in my area here, they all stand on corners and they always say hi to me. One time I talked with a few of them, they told me that they wait for people who show fear, or to try to avoid them, and then they rob them, because they know they have something they don’t want stolen, but we always walk right by them without really acknowledging their presence. I turned out my pockets and told them it was because we never have anything, so we aren´t afraid of being robbed, that we just go about our business of sharing a message of Jesus Christ. Then a few told me that they were grateful for our service but already go to the Evangelist church...how ironic...a few evangelists on the corner waiting to rob people.

Well, we just got back from the temple and it was sweet! I love going to the temple. I put all the family names in the temple prayer roll. Also, this is the last week of the transfer already! It went by so fast. It seems like I just got to Merlo. We had our interviews with President Benton and it was awesome as always. I am thinking Elder Arriola and I will be together again for another transfer, because President talked a lot to me about how I can help Elder Arriola, even though I am junior companion. He told me, “Work with him, help him progress, build a relationship with him that will enable you to say in the eternities when you see him, “This is a good man, a man that I had a good relationship with on earth.” I really took that to heart, and I got hit hard with the impressions from my patriarchal blessing that talks about how I will make relationships in my mission that will carry with me throughout the eternities. He also told me to tell my family that I am doing great in the mission, and that the Lord appreciates my work, that He knows my name. Then he was like, “I know, I asked Him.” Then just smiled at me.... it was just a powerful interview, and I just said thank you, but he told me to write that so that my family and friends know.

Also, just so you know, last week was the one year anniversary of me receiving my call-letter saying I was coming to Buenos Aires! Boy, that year flew by. Last weekend was our stake wide baptism service, and we had about 15 planned, but I couldn’t tell you all the things Satan threw at us and the investigators this week, and it sufficeth to say that dates were dropping like flies, and we ended up having only 4...but it was still a great service. Margarita didn’t get baptized. She disappeared for about 5 days, and then reappeared the day before the baptism, and we taught her about tithing, and did the pre-interview, and everything was set, then she didn’t show up for the interview with the zone leaders...and we haven’t been able to find her, she is never home...but we hope to get her in the water this weekend...if we can find her...other than that, Transfer Meeting is on Monday, and my prediction is another transfer with Elder Arriola, but we will see what happens. Oh yeah, I decided I want socks for my birthday...and I don’t know if Argentines get my humor, but I have to admit, it is usually funnier when they don’t.

Alright time is up, so talk to you next week. Time went really fast today, and it doesn’t feel like I wrote very much...I’ll try to get better at that.

Love, Sean

P.S. also I forgot to tell you that President in my interview told me to stop going by Nora’s house, that it was not a situation we wanted to be caught in the middle of, so we stopped.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Merlo- Week #36

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Hey-lo Family and Friends,

First off, thanks for the letter this week...Joseph Naylor! I enjoyed the picture and letter, and actually have almost already completed the response back in the apartment, complete with picture and all. I will be sending it this week, so be expecting that in about 1½ - 2 months. Haha. Also, Interviews with President are tomorrow and I am really excited! Last transfer’s interview was amazing, and he received direct revelation out of nowhere for something I needed to do, which I did, and saw the fruits of following my mission president. So I am pretty antsy to see what tomorrow’s holds in store for me...I basically consider it sitting in a room with a General Authority, even though technically he isn’t one.

So Elder Mackay and I have had a great time sitting here reading to each other our parents’ e-mails about how our grandmothers chatted it up about us. Well Margarita is still good to go for this weekend, and we had 3 investigators in church on Sunday, even though it was raining again. I don’t understand why it is so hot all week, no relief, and then Saturday night it gets cold and rains all through the night and morning...then right after church it is hot and sunny again...haha talk about opposition in all things. My shoes are holding up fine, and I don’t think I need to buy boots, also mom I don’t know what you are talking about my waterproof shoes? What waterproof shoes? If you are talking about the only two pairs of shoes that I brought with me, haha, then yes, I am wearing those...if they are waterproof...I didn’t notice. My favorite girl scout cookie is trefoil...always and forever. I don’t know what I want for my birthday...surprise me...you have 3 months to decide...

So Margarita this weekend, then the 21st we have another baptism planned with a nine year old boy named Eduardo, whose mother is inactive but started coming to church again, and Eduardo came up to us and said, “I want you to baptize me.” So I said, “Alright, let’s go!” and started leading him to the font and I could only laugh as the look of terror appeared on his face when he thought I was just going to do it right then, but then I told him I was kidding and he calmed down, but he is pretty excited. Also, we have been teaching two of the oldest people I have ever seen, Nora and Emilio, for about 4 weeks now, and they are great, always accepting, and want to get baptized...one little snag...we were informed this past week that Nora, the sweet old grandma with mountains of faith, is a SERIAL KILLER!!!!!!!! PSSSSHHHAHAHAHAHAHA! She killed her husband 30 years ago, but in Argentina they can’t keep you in jail longer than 20 years for something like that (I was told) and so she is now free, but then, a few years ago...she struck again! And beat down a poor old woman! The older woman suffered severe injuries to the HEAD from the cane of Nora. Nora beat a poor old woman over the head until she died! Oh my goodness, we found out because she started to beat Emilio over the head too, but they caught her before she killed him...but the family wants us to keep passing by to help her through her “problem” yeah the problem she has of beating old people mercilessly...haha I can’t help but laugh even though it is horrible. Elder Arriola didn’t want to go by, because he said she was crazy, but I wanted to go anyway to see what she said. This is the conversation that then ensued.

Arriola: Elder, she kills people.
Me: She won’t kill us, we are two young men, we can stop her and her cane.
Arriola: She isn’t right in the head.
Me: I agree, let’s go.
Arriola: (in the most movie like cliché voice I have ever heard.) I AM NOT READY TO DIE!!!!!
Me: ........HAHAHHAHAHAHA ok fine.

Eventually he gave in and we went, but she didn’t confess anything to us, it was a normal visit...but Elder Arriola was eying her cane the entire time. Good times... Well, my time is up I got to go already.

Love to all, Sean