A special thanks to everyone who has supported Sean and all the missionaries around the world. The Argentina Buenos Aires West Mission is the best mission in the world!
Elder Gilmore leaves Buenos Aires on Monday, June 21 and arrives at the Billings, Montana airport on Tuesday, June 22. We will be happy to be reunited after two years, but also know he leaves his heart in Argentina.
On Sunday, June 27, he will be speaking in the Livingston Montana Ward at 10:00 a.m.
On Sunday, July 18, he will be speaking in the Powell 1st Ward in Wyoming at 9:00 a.m.
Inbetween those dates we will be visiting his Grandmothers in California and perhaps throw in a visit to Disneyland and the beach!
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.
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
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!
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.
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.