Monday, February 22, 2010

Pictures from Villegas

Sean, Fernandez family (Villegas) and mate

more mate !!!!

Fernandez family baptism


More Pictures

Sean and Cristian

Sean and Ilumina

Sean and Elder Fox


Reason why Sean was still getting wet

Parque Leloir- Week #87

Season's Greetings from Parque Leloir

Hey Family!!!

Well, my first week as zone leader was an interesting one. It rained a lot, and keeps on raining. It is weird, because last year it was just hot all summer, but it has rained a lot this year. Everyone is surprised by it, and places are flooding pretty badly on some days. I loved the pictures of your Utah trip, and thanks Dad for the parking spot, so I don’t have to deal with iced windshields. Elder Hinckley is a baller. He is from Knoxville, Tennessee. He is in a band with his brothers, and they have like a legit CD and everything. He has permission to listen to it on the mission, so we listen to it...and they are pretty good. I was impressed. Parque Leloir is a great ward as well. It was RICH!!!!! There are some huge mansions here that I didn’t know existed in Argentina. In the middle of the area are just straight quintas (huge lots of land with huge mansions, swimming pools, guest houses, soccer stadiums, roller coasters, and airport runways) but on the outskirts of that there are normal neighborhoods, which is where we mostly work. Everybody in the ward has a car, which is nice because they can help us go get investigators. Yesterday, we went with some old man, picked up Anahí (investigator) and started driving back, when the old man started to scream that his brakes went out. NO PUEDO FRENAR!! NO PUEDO FRENAR!!! I thought to myself, “Frenar...frenar...I know what that means...oh yeah...brakes...WHAT? ¿NO PUEDE FRENAR? We started taking turns at 30 miles an hour onto slick muddy roads, with an old argentine man frantically trying to change gears and keep control of the car, and I couldn’t help but start laughing. We made it safely to church though don´t worry. He used his brakes to stop in the parking lot so that confused me, but I didn’t ask questions. It was a pretty fun Sunday morning. We worked about 4 of the 7 days of the week I would say, because of meetings, zone leader conference, baptismal interviews, and so forth, but that is fine with me, we still had a lot of time to reach our goals. We have zone conference in two weeks and we have to give a taller (workshop/training thing) on companionship study...what in the world are we supposed to talk about for an hour? Ideas anyone? How are you supposed to make that interesting?

The zone is doing alright...thanks to the hermanas...haha we gave the challenge to everyone to complete with their 140 contacts for the week, and only the hermanas, us, and one other area completed with it. There is definitely some room for some motivational work here. Elder Hinckley and I have been thinking a lot about what we can do to get everyone going. Hopefully this week will be better. We are going to be doing divisions to try and get some people excited.

We have two baptismal dates as of now. Sebastian and Daniel Esteche. Their dad was baptized last transfer and will be getting the priesthood this week to be able to baptize his sons the following Saturday. So the first Saturday in March we should be having two baptisms. Also, there is a kid named Matias that has come to church this week who is golden! He is going to get baptized! He just has to realize that first. We gave him a gospel principles manual and after ward council we came out and he was still there and had read to chapter nine. He is a reference from the Bishop’s daughter...they said they aren’t dating...but I bear testimony that something is going on. She wanted to know when we could start giving the discussions because Matias told her he is going to come every week from now on. In...the...water... So we will be working with him as well. Anahí also came, and is the niece of a member. She is twenty years old, but when we tried to take out a baptismal date, she said she wanted to but it was impossible. She is a godmother in the Catholic Church to 4 children, and if she gets baptized she will “lose them”. We had like an hour long discussion trying to convince her that she can have her god-children, and still be a member of the Church. It gave me a headache. It basically all came down to, she doesn’t believe in the Catholic Church, except for the godmother part, and believes everything about this church but isn’t willing to give up her “children”. I wrote more details down in my journal, it was just a long conversation, but for now she would rather deny the answer God gave her...oooo...ouch. She will come around, because she is really cool. Well, I will be talking to you next week, and let’s see if I can get some pictures sent here. I love you all, nos vemos.

Elder Gilmore

Ps. Also I need to know what airport I am flying into, the abbreviation and if you are picking me up you have to contact church travel offices says so in my trunky papers, my day of arrival is the 21st of June...that Monday. It changed. So write me back.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Parque Leloir- Week #86

Wasn't expecting this one...

Hey Everybody!!!!

Well, my mission has definitely taken an interesting turn of events. Last week was probably the most stressful week of my entire life. I am not sure, but I think I got into a fist fight with Satan. Our baptisms went down to the wire! We spent all week trying to prepare everyone we had to enter the waters of baptism. We knew that Javier, the dad of the Fernandez family, wasn’t going to be able to be baptized because he still has troubles with smoking, so we started focusing in on the kids. I at first wasn’t the biggest fan of baptizing the kids without the dad, especially since he is so excited about living the gospel, but I did some divisions with Elder Varela and he told them the story of his family and how they all were baptized at different times, and how it helped the family, because having at least one member with the Gift of the Holy Ghost in the home can really effect the rest of the family. So we did the interviews with Ilumina, (yeah, her name is illuminate….it is baller) Cristian, and Alejandro. They all passed with flying colors and were really excited to get baptized. The only problem was they weren’t going to be able to get baptized on Saturday, so we planned the baptism for after Sacrament Meeting. Everything was kind of on the verge of turning into chaos but we kept our cool. We even had to wash the baptismal clothes for them on Saturday night because it was dirty, so we were going down to the wire. Sunday morning rolls around and Ilumina says she feels nervous and doesn’t want to get baptized…dang it…so we try and talk to her but she was set that she wouldn’t do it. We were doing a mission fast at the time and I started praying like I had never prayed before. During Sacrament Meeting I leave to go check the font…and it has overflowed into the hallway and into the bathrooms…SHOOT!!!!!!! I frantically start cleaning it up. Luckily none of the chapels have carpet here, so I just had to push the water towards the drains. Still praying. Sacrament ends and I don’t know what happens but Ilumina is perfect, ready to go. I didn’t question, just thanked Heavenly Father, and started preparing everything. Ilumina and Cristian picked me to baptize them and Alejandro wanted Elder Thomas. So we were ready to go, and I checked the font one more time. SOMEONE HAD TURNED THE DRAIN ON BECAUSE THEY THOUGHT IT WAS OVERFLOWING!!!!!!!!!!! It was only like knee high! I couldn’t believe it…I actually contemplated going down into the water and drowning myself, except there wasn’t enough water. So we turn it back on to fill while the service is going on. When we actually did the baptisms I had to like force their bodies down so that they would all go under…but the point is that they got baptized, and they were way happy! So two years in a row I baptized a family on Valentine’s Day. I love baptisms anyway, even though they are way stressful. So we ended the transfer with 4 baptisms, and the zone ended with 40!!!!!!!! WE BROKE THE RECORD! The record was 29, so we were pretty excited about that. In the mission for the past couple of transfers we have tried to hit 200 baptisms, and a few transfers we got 192 which is the record…or I should say was the record…until today. We had 195!!!! Dang it…so close, but still way good! I barely spent time in Villegas this past week though because I was doing divisions so much, even with Hermana Lopez and Hermana Daniels in their area trying to get there investigators to be baptized. I almost had one kid, but the mom was kind of unstable in the mind and ruined everything, we sang her happy birthday anyway.

So that leads up to transfer meeting today…which was just as crazy. First, I got to see Sabey-baby, and I gave him a Christmas present I bought him in December but forgot to give him. We sat together the whole meeting. It was kind of exciting to not know any transfer that was going to happen before-hand like I did in the office. I got to do my T-Day bracket and everything. A lot of important people went home. Elder Arriola my companion from exactly one year ago went home, as well as Elder Fox…noooooo. It was pretty emotional. He is emotional anyway haha I love him for it. I hugged him and he was like shaking crying, and then fights to say through his tears, “I freakin love you man.” Hahahahahahahaha it was sooooo funny! Then we started like some crying laughing mix chortle thing that made me laugh harder. He probably influenced my mission more than anyone. So transfers…you would think that after only being in Villegas for 6 weeks, there is a pretty big chance I am not leaving. But just because there was a pretty big chance that I was not leaving, doesn’t mean there wasn’t a small chance that I would be leaving. So I left…I did not want to leave at all…in fact I told President that…which probably wasn’t appropriate and now I repent, but I told him in a letter before we knew transfers. So I am currently sitting in Parque Leloir with my companion Elder Hinckley from Tennessee. We are the zone leaders of the Castelar zone. He has about 16 months, so I am senior comp, even though I have never been a zone leader before, but I have realized that senior-junior comp titles don’t mean much. I am excited, because Castelar has some taboo that it is a hard zone that doesn’t baptize, but Elder Hinckley was in Villegas right before I was, I replaced him, and so we are looking to get the zone going. Hermana Lopez also came over from Aldo Bonzi to Castelar which is sweet because she gets work done, and Elder Klein and Mills from my MTC district are the district leaders and are both training, so we will see what the Lord has in store for us. I was really sad to leave Villegas, but I have entered into my last area, and look forward to this new assignment and area. Last transfer I experienced more trials than ever before, but I saw more miracles as well. I saw the Lord pour out His blessings on me as I fasted and prayed. I know Heavenly Father lives, and that He hears us as we diligently seek Him. Fasting works! Show your faith, sacrifice a little, and see the Hand of God lift you up higher than you have ever been and sustain you there as you fulfil the purposes He has set forth for you. I love you all, and hope that you are doing well. Keep your heads up and your eyes fixed on the goal, and then take whatever life throws at you, because it will be but a small moment. Chao!

Elder Gilmore

p.s. holy cow i forgot to tell you i got my package and loved it!!!!!!!! especially the video card hahahahaha that last one when dad just stares until mom turns it off was hilarious! and i got grandma sherrys package with her perfume cotton swab in it, and it smelt so good!!! like grandma...thanks!!!!!!!!!!! now i have some good food too to last a while!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Zone Activity

I hope Hermana Lopez's family doesn't mind that I copied this photo from her blog. The Aldo Bonzi Zone had an activity on Pday this week. Elder Arriola is on the top row on the left, wearing black and is from El Salvador. He was Sean's companion in Altos de Merlo. Second row far left is Elder Varela who is a Zone Leader and worked in the offices with Sean. And Sean is in the second row all the way to the right in his Boca shirt. I don't know which Elder is Elder Thomas (Sean's companion) since I haven't seen a picture of him yet. Good to see the missionaires getting out and having some fun once in awhile. '

Monday, February 8, 2010

Villegas- Week #85

Hey Hey Hey

Hey Family,

Well, just so everyone knows, my foot has completely healed and I was out working again on Tuesday without any problems. So I had the whole week to work and we got a lot done. My few days in the pench were…interesting. After 19 months of being on a mission it is a little mind boggling to sit and do nothing for three days. I tried reading and studying but after 4 hours of that I wasn’t learning anything. So yeah, I am glad to be back out working in the field. We just got back from zone activity, where we played volleyball and soccer. It was pretty fun. My old comp. Elder Arriola is in the zone as well, and we celebrated his upcoming departure to his house in a week by covering him in silly-string. So that was pretty fun. The Tormenta Blanca was already planned, and it actually happened the weekend before my spider bite. The weather actually has completely changed. This week we had rain rain rain, all week long. I hate the rain for one reason…no one comes to church when it rains. Nobody has a car in the ward and all the streets turn into a huge muddy lake swamp pit so nobody can even make it. So we have been wearing huge boots all week to get through the area. Being District Leader is pretty fun, too, because today I formed secret alliances with my district and we dominated in everything. The Hermanas should be having 5 baptisms this weekend, so they are doing great, and hopefully we will as well.

So the Fernandez Family is doing great. Despite the rain, they showed their faith and came to church. It was awesome to see them come by themselves! The whole family of five came and loved it. So they have all been to church enough times to be baptized this weekend. We did a fast during the week to help them get to church, because up until that time they had never come as a whole family, only the parents by themselves, or the kids, but this week they all came. There is only one problem…Javier, the dad, smokes…boooooooooo…. Not good. We gave him some Orbit gum and told him to chew it whenever he had really bad cravings to smoke and he is going down. We want them to get baptized this weekend so badly, but I don’t know what to do, because he can’t get baptized while smoking. We will be talking to him very frankly tomorrow to make sure he quits once and for all. They are so awesome though! They signed up to give us lunch tomorrow! They aren’t even members. They are all really excited about the gospel as well. They tell us all the time about the stuff they are learning, and they are like best friends with the Martinez family now (ward mission leader). So we will see what happens this weekend.

So that is about all that happened this week. I am kind of tired from zone activity so I am not really up for typing that much. I know, don’t you hate when that happens? How inconsiderate of me. The housing sounds fine. I was talking with Hermana Daniels and Elder Cooper today at the zone activity today about BYU housing and there are various opinions and rumors about every place within 10 miles of campus from what I could gather, but neither of them knew much about University Park, so the mystery continues. Whatever. I hope the trip with Grandma goes well, and that you have some fun down in Utah. So…the fact that you are getting me a parking spot at BYU would imply me having a vehicle…do we know what the options are for such vehicle…or is it still kind of a distant future decision to be made? I am glad you both like rock band…never thought I would see the day that my parents would be so proficient at a cutting edge video game. The things that happen on a mission…well, I hope you all stay well this week and that you can see the blessings of the Lord in your lives. Pray for the Fernandez Family!

Elder Gilmore

Monday, February 1, 2010

Spider Bite

Sean got bit by a spider. He had to go to the hospital, received a blessing, and seems to be on the mend, but his foot sure looks nasty. That is one FAT foot!

Villegas- Week #84

The Spider Empire Strikes Back !

Hey Family,

Well, just sit back and listen to this one because it was a crazy week. My backspace is broken as well and I already am annoyed with it. P is broken too. So this week went pretty well up until Wednesday. You know how last week I braved the elements and totally slapped Mother Nature in the face by coming out victorious, right? Well if I had to name this week it would be, “Villegas Wars Episode V: The Animal Kingdom Strikes Back!” Or I would call it “Spider-Elder: The Story of when Elder Gilmore was bit by a radioactive spider.” Yes…I now have added to my bag of cool mission stories the time a spider almost took my life. When Peter Parker got bit he acquired cool powers. I did too kind of…basically I could shape shift my foot so that it grew to the size of a watermelon. So like I said, life was good until Wednesday. Tuesday I woke up with what looked like a mosquito bite…what else is new…and I went about my day. When I went to sleep it was a little red, but I figured it was just because of my sock rubbing against it all day. It is on my ankle. Wednesday I wake up and it is an open wound…like bleeding…I figured I scratched it in my sleep or something. I put a band-aid on it, and kept working…you know doing the whole show your faith thing…but something happened at about 3 in the afternoon. It was about a billion degrees outside, and my ankle was throbbing with the pulse of someone who just finished an Iron man competition. I was dying, but we were behind in the work so I kept trucking along without much thought to how serious the situation actually might be. Elder Thomas had no idea because I kept quiet. Well, we make it through the day, and I take my sock of to some horrific extra-terrestrial war zone going on down there. I could no longer see my ankle because of some large reddish puss filled mass that was eating it, or at least covering it up really well. So I called Hermana Benton and explained the situation…she said that I had to go to the hospital…haha. I guess there is some kind of brown recluse spider or something like that, whose venom eats away at the flesh…sounded kind of accurate.

So Thursday morning I headed to the hospital and the doctor gives me a few hmms and hahs and gives me some antibiotics to take, says I can’t walk for two days, and put ice on it. The whole process took about ten minutes. I asked if maybe we should do a skin test or something, because he barely even looked at it. Argentines have socialized healthcare by the way. Some guy came in and said he had a fever…and they took him into the emergency room…take some advil…anyway, right as he was writing out the prescription he asked me if it hurt. Don’t you ask that at the beginning of your evaluation? I said it hurts when I walk, so he also wrote down some pain-killers on the prescription. Haha, what? What kind of painkillers they are I don’t know, but I haven’t taken them because I have heard stories of people who get addicted. So I took the prescription and was about to leave when he says, “Take those for five days, but if it doesn’t get better tomorrow come back.” I just stared at him, wondering if the gift of tongues was playing tricks on me…nope I heard him right. Wouldn’t it get better in a few days after taking the medication? Whatever.

Friday morning President Benton called me and forbid me to leave the apartment when I told him that I was just going to go to the important appointments that day. He thought it was pretty serious. So I ended up staying in the apartment all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday, except for church. President came and visited me personally. He gave me a blessing, which was such a great experience. It was almost a patriarchal blessing, except he didn’t declare lineage. He blessed me to fully recover and that the bite would have no lasting effect on me in my life. I am sending pictures by the way, so don’t call the mission because they already know my condition.

Anyway, as far as the missionary work goes. The Fernandez family is doing really well, but we haven’t been able to do much this week. Our ward mission leader is saving us! He goes around teaching the investigators! It has been a rough week for the work, but we still got quite a bit done while I was out working. We weren’t last in the zone anyway. Not that that matters anyway, but we are going to have to book it with our investigators to get them in the water. We are going to need some miracles. Anyway, I will wrap it up now. I go back to the hospital tomorrow for a checkup, but it is almost healed so I should get the green light to walk again. Alright, love you all!

Spider Elder