Monday, January 25, 2010

Villegas- Week #83


Hey devoted fans and occasional readers,

That’s fine Dad about the housing…at first it kind of ruffled my feathers…you know how us Gilmores can get. You are taking away my pool, gym, and co-ed atmosphere! Plus, what does “not as fancy, but clean” actually mean? But then I calmed down and remembered that the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been since the fall of Adam…so I’m chill with the new plan. And I am also fine with living upstairs when I get home. Use your best judgment about who you add as my facebook friends.

Ok, this week was MIRACLE FILLED!!!!! So as you might have gathered last week I was a little worried about this transfer but was trying to keep the faith about it. We have a lot of people, who listen to us, but we were struggling getting people to church, and you can’t get baptized if you don’t come to church. So this past week we were working like mad-men trying to prepare people to attend Sacrament Meeting. Also as I tell this story it is important to note that we have experienced every type of weather this week. On Tuesday night we were just walking around and all of a sudden a huge gust of wind whipped by us. Our whole area is dirt roads…very loose dirt. If any of you remember the sandstorm part of the movie Hidalgo…that is about as accurate as I can get to what happened to us. It was time to head home anyway, so we started running back to the apartment (15 minute run). I was just praying that Elder Thomas kept running because I couldn’t even see 2 feet in front of me, I am serious. So we are running in the dust tornado hurricane typhoon vortex when all of a sudden it stops. Like in one second the wind was gone, and then…VOOSH!!!!!!! Monsoon season in Villegas. It just started pouring down rain and we were still like 10 minutes away from the apartment…after about 30 seconds I just started walking because I was drenched…it was pretty fun. Then for the rest of the week it was blistering hot. So we were working hard anyway, having a pretty good week and the zone leaders called us and told us we were going to have a zone fast, because the whole zone is exploding with success and we wanted to fast for all the investigators to keep progressing. Here are some numbers: The Aldo Bonzi Zone record for baptisms in a transfer is 29. The mission wide record for baptisms in a transfer by one zone is 44, put up by Catàn last year. After two weeks in the transfer we had 10 baptisms, and 49 baptismal dates. So if everyone got baptized, we would break the record with 59…and we are all really pumped up to do it, but we really need the Lord’s help. So we fasted on Saturday to Sunday.

I put everything I had into this fast because we wanted so badly to help with this record, but we didn’t have any dates for baptism. So we fasted and put our faith in the Lord. We had a ton of plans for people to come and for members to pick up some investigators, and we went out to get people in the morning as well. I was sooooo thirsty I thought I was going to pass out. Anyway, we got two people to come with us, and two were already at the church when we got there so we had four. That is great, but I was a little disappointed because a family of five, the Fernandez family, we are teaching didn’t show up. Our ward mission leader was supposed to bring them but only the dad came because they got into a fight the night before and the mom and kids refused to come. When we heard that I told Elder Thomas, Lets go. He looked at me like I was a lunatic haha. Sacrament Meeting is last in our schedule so we left our ward mission leader with the investigators and we started to long trek back to our area. Our chapel isn’t in our ward limits. So we almost died of heat stroke, but we made it to the Fernandez’ house and were invited in by the family. We told them there was still time to come to church and that we were all waiting for them. Virginia, the mom, said she didn’t want to because she was tired and can’t walk for long periods of time in the heat (she is pregnant). That is when I whipped out the cold liter of water that I brought with me specifically for her…she couldn’t refuse. So we took them all to church, and found out that someone else showed up while we were out looking, so we had 9 people in church. It was a miracle. I really tried to do what President said and show my faith. Heavenly Father honored our fast and blessed us with so much success. So the Fernandez family has a date for the 13th of February to enter the waters of baptism. Also we were number one in the zone this week and number two in the whole mission. I couldn’t believe it. It was just another testimony of the power of fasting, and I think it really helped Elder Thomas. While we were walking in the heat he asked me a lot about fasting and its purpose, so we had a great talk about showing the Lord our priorities and focusing on the spiritual. Great week. Now we have the large task of keeping the coals hot under the Fernandez family so that they make it to their baptisms. We will be working a lot with the other four people too that made it. We will see what happens this week! Love you all, keep up the good work!!!

Elder Gilmore

Monday, January 18, 2010

Villegas- Week #82

Bossier Bretheren

Hey Family!!!

Well another week gone by and I am still not used to these keyboards. This week was great! We did even better than last week, but despite my valiant efforts the hermanas absolutely killed us. I thought we were doing well the whole week, and we were winning until Sunday night rolled around and they report they had 8 baptismal dates and 10 investigators in Sacrament meeting…blast. Haha, just kidding that is great! My district is tearing it up! We are on average 500 efficiency points above the mission average, which to everyone reading this doesn’t mean anything I just realized. Oh well, just know that the Lord is really blessing us with success. So this week was kind of an eye-opener for me. All of a sudden I am getting old in the mission. I came to the stark realization that I am the oldest (in mission terms) in the apartment, which has never happened to me before. Now all of a sudden I am the target of a bunch of trunky jokes, and then last night the zone leaders called me and wished me a happy 19 months…wait…what? I just turned 18…what happened?

So this week we had interviews with President Benton. He said he wants one of Lacey’s wedding invitations. It has only been like two weeks since the last interview I had with him so not much changed, but it was still a great interview. He talked to me a lot about faith, and the strength of having a positive outlook on every situation. He counseled me to look at the area as a fountain of success that only grows and adds upon itself, because a lot of missionaries look at areas as wells that dry up after a lot of success. I think I mentioned this before but Villegas has had 6 baptisms for the last 5 transfers straight, and this past weekend we baptized one of our last progressing investigators, so there have been a few skeptics as to whether or not we can do it again. So I am trying to follow President’s counsel, although I will admit that we are in search mode hard core right now. We will see what the Lord has in store for Villegas this transfer. We currently have zero baptismal dates unfortunately. I hate when that happens, but like President told me in my interview. “Move toward your faith. Ask the Lord for help. He won’t deny you.” So I am handing the reigns over to the Lord. I am going to try my hardest to do my part, so that we are worthy to ask the Lord to make up the rest.

Anyway, Alvina was baptized! I will talk about that in a second. Lucas will not get baptized this weekend. We went by his house to teach him and he hit us with the news…pee-wee soccer starts next Sunday, and as a result he says he is never coming to church again. Are you kidding? Haha we got beat out by pee-wee soccer! Except we have to take into account that, all jokes aside, and no pun intended, soccer is a religion here. We tried reaching his small dream stricken nine year old heart by testifying, promising specific blessings, and sharing personal experiences (when I played little league baseball and I couldn’t play an important game on Sunday…go tigers…) but he wasn’t having it, so we are back to ground zero.

Ok the baptismal service. It was a little frustrating, but now has just turned comical in my vast reservoir of mission memories. First, Elder Thomas told her that I would be doing the baptism and she was all for it. I am not sure why since I met her 2 weeks ago, but whatever I was down for it. So I was privileged to perform the baptism. Of course my camera was dead and I didn’t realize it, so I will be borrowing some pictures from Elder Thomas later and I will send them home. Anyway, we were going to start at 7 o’clock in the evening, but hit a few snags. It turns out Ward Council was also being held at 6. Whoops, but ok that is fine we will just have plan well. Unfortunately, it didn’t go that smoothly. We waited until 8 at night, because their meeting was taking a long time. So we asked if a member of the bishopric could come preside, not one single person had a tie on in the whole ward counsel. Our ward mission leader then said, “Don’t worry about it Christ ministered in sandals and a tunic.” Long story short, the second counselor came and the baptism went through, and was really spiritual actually. Alvina was happy and it turned out to be a really nice meeting. So that is all for this week, maybe we should go back to what you used to do and put all your questions at the beginning of your email, because I don’t have time to go back and remember all the questions you have. Bossier Brethren sounds great. Also everyone is talking about Haiti here; I bought a big mac today because 2 pesos of it got donated to Haiti…so that was my kind act of service for the day I guess. I don’t really like big macs.

Well, until next week, pray that we can find some good people, and that we can get them to church!

Love, Elder Gilmore

Monday, January 11, 2010

Villegas- Week #81

Return to the Field

Hey everybody!

Well it is back to writing on lame keyboards…I was really spoiled in the office. This week has been GREAT! Although it has felt like I left the offices months ago. I love Villegas! It is the Promised Land! The land of milk and honey! I thought I had seen some humble places…but it has been kind of interesting teaching someone whose house is made out of cardboard and there is only room inside for a bed. Her name is Monica by the way…she came to church, but says that she doesn’t want to be baptized for another 2 years…so we will be working with her. Also, almost everyone here is from Paraguay. Like they all moved here for work and are building their houses still, so it is a really humble area. Really humble. In Paraguay they have an indigenous language called Guarani…I don’t know how to spell it but yeah it is funny because all Paraguayans know how to speak it pretty much. Well, back in Merlo I picked up a few phrases from some members and I have been practicing them here haha. I use the same exact joke for everyone I meet and every single person laughs when I say it, and Elder Thomas laughs every time too because it works every time. All I know how to say is, “I am a boy with a lot of money”, and “I love you, pretty girl.” So I always start out asking if they know how to speak it, and they say yes, then I tell them I speak it as well and say, “I am a boy with a lot of money and I love you, pretty girl.” It gets them every time. I love saying it most to the little old ladies because they usually say something after like, “Finally, I’ve been waiting for you to come find me. Take me to the States.” The old men usually laugh when I say it because they didn’t think I actually knew how to say something. It sounds more like English than Spanish to me, so it is easy to pick up. One hermana told me that gringos always speak Guarani better than other Latinos. So we will see what other phrases I can pick up. It is a great way to get into houses to teach.

It definitely has been interesting going back into the field. Monday we stayed in the office and went to the mission home for a going away dinner for Elder Fox and me, so Tuesday was the first day of work for us. Then on Friday I had to go back to Ramos for a District/Zone leader meeting, so we lost all day Friday as well. I have been feeling pressure like crazy to work hard. Seriously the mission has changed since I went into the office. What used to be a great week is now below average, and even without those two days of work we still taught more this week than I used to before my office time. It has definitely been an emotional roller-coaster, especially when the sister missionaries in your district are kicking your trash. I just say to myself I had two less days to work haha.

So Elder Thomas is doing great! He only has about 7 months in the mission, but he is doing great. The biggest hang-up this week was his confidence level. He had to lead the area since I didn’t know anybody, and he was nervous I think. He did great, but he gets down on himself sometimes. When I got to the area he told me this transfer was going to be hard and that we weren’t going to have as much success as past transfers because there were no prospects for baptism. All I could say was, “We are in Villegas….there are always baptisms.” So we started the week out meeting the members and investigators and I can now say that there are a TON of people that could get baptized this transfer. We had five people come to church with us on Sunday and two of them now have baptismal dates. The first is Alvina. I guess it is like the feminine form of Alvin. She has been going to church for a while, and was about to get baptized but didn’t show up for her interview. So we are trying again for this weekend! I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard. All you need is your interview? Ok we will have it on Thursday and you can be baptized on Saturday, how is that? Great! So we already have a baptism planned for this weekend. Our other date is Lucas, who is 9 years old, who has come to church twice already, but they had only taught him once and never challenged him to baptism. His mom is a member and his aunt just got baptized last transfer, and his family supports him, from what we can see. So we also set a date with him for the 23rd. So we have two dates right now, and are trying to find some more people who are going to be ready this transfer.

Something pretty interesting happened to us yesterday as we were walking in the street. We walked by some man reading a book, and upon looking closer I realized that it was the teachings of David O. McKay…interesting, so I thought it was a member…false…just some guy reading it. So I asked what he was reading about. His answer: “How families can be sealed together forever through the sacred ordinances of the Holy Temple.” I looked at him for a second and said, “will you be baptized?” ahaha just kidding, we taught him and turns out he has been going to church in Paraguay for 2 years but moved here and lost contact with the missionaries. Now he wants to come to church with us. Go figure. The Lord is working miracles here. Wow that hour flew by; I guess I better wrap this up. I love this work, and I love you!

Elder Gilmore

p.s. We had a confirmation this week and in Sacrament meeting the Bishop got up and announced that I would be doing the confirmation...what? I didn't even know the person...but whatever it was definitely a missionary moment. so I confirmed someone!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Villegas- Week #80

dun dun dun

Hey there,

Well this week has been absolutely crazy! The training with Elder Page is coming to an end, and the final preparations have been made for transfer meeting. I am sure that I won’t finish this letter before the meeting starts, but I am going to be soooo busy today I figured I better write while I can. So this week was interesting with transfers being made by President. Yes, you heard right Dad; Elder Fox is leaving his last transfer to open up a new area training. He is pretty excited. My new area is…..drumroll….VILLEGAS!!! yes!!! It is in the Aldo Bonzi Stake and is unarguably the best area in the mission. It is definitely the poorest in the mission, so it is the complete opposite from Ramos Mejia. Not to mention almost everyone I know in the mission has been there except for me. Elder Fox, Mackay, Sabey, Harper, and Woodmansee all served there and they all loved it. I have always kind of looked at it as an exclusive club I was never a part of…until now! I will be District Leader, and I am pretty excited about that, too. My new companion is Elder Coty Lee Thomas from Washington. He is a baller! He baptizes like a champion. He only has been in the mission four transfers and has 24 baptisms…that is averaging one baptism a week…so he is still working on his language, but I think he is doing better than he thinks. I am really excited about my district. We have the best missionaries. It is just a bunch of young gunners…and then me… So Elder Thomas and I will be working in Villegas, and then Elder Godoy from Chile, who has about 10 months in the mission, will be training a new missionary in Ciudad Evita 2, and Sister Godfrey from Pennsylvania, and Sister López from Missouri/Spain, who both have less than six months. So everyone is really young in the mission, which is perfect because it is the perfect time to really get lost in the work. I am excited. I had my interview with President this past week, too, and I asked what I should do to help the district, because if we think about this…I have never been district leader. He gave me a bunch of great advice and I walked out of it really excited to start working again. So there you go, the secret is out.

We just finished transfer meeting and everything went off without a hitch. My last time doing it…I had a little moment. So I still need to go pack everything up. There isn’t really anything else to say. This is probably the shortest letter I have ever written home…so sorry about that, but it is time to put the blinders on and get focused in the mission. Six months left!!!!! Here goes nothing!!!!!

Elder Gilmore