Monday, June 7, 2010

Parque Leloir- Week #102

The Aidukaitis Effect

Hey there family,

Well, this week was certainly an interesting one. It started with the Elder Aidukaitis conference. Let's just say that he took the mission by surprise with a complete cane dropping on everyone. Back story: Since President Benton came two years ago the mission has seen a huge spike upward in the datos, obedience, diligence, baptisms, and really just everything. He really has been inspired by the Lord to take the mission to a new level. So in the mission we have felt pretty good about ourselves as the most successful mission in Argentina. We were all kind of expecting a pat on the back from the member of the Seventy visiting us. It was more like a slap on the back of the head...haha, but in a good way. The theme of the conference was, "God is happy with your work, but He is not satisfied!" It was intense! He is way energetic, raises his voice a lot, and is very direct. Another direct quote translated into English: "Can I speak with you clearly and directly? Yes? Ok, just know that I am not mad, but I will speak frankly. If the sisters start to cry, I will start to put some more sugar on my words." I really wasn't sure if that was a moment to laugh or not but I did, and then the repentance process began. Elder Hinton and I were called on to give our presentation of the zone's datos first of the three zones there. So we got up and started to give our datos. We said that our baptismal goal for the zone is 30, and that we ha...we were interrupted..."Elders, how many areas are there in your zone?" We answered ten. "Ten? Do you believe that God can work miracles in your missions?" Of course! He then directed himself to the whole audience. "Do you believe that you can baptize every week in this mission?" A unified "Yes!" sounded from the crowd. He then looked straight at me and asked me, "Elder, do you believe that you can baptize every week?" "Yes." "You believe that?" "Yes." "You really believe?" (And then he used some piercing gaze that left me disabled for a few seconds) "Yes?" "Elder, you don't believe that, and neither does anyone in this room." "Oh..." hahaha Let's just say that I think I saw everyone's jaw hit the ground, including President's, the Assistants', the missionaries', and my companion's. "If you really believed that, you goal would be 60, meaning each area would have at least 1 baptism a week. But with a goal like 30, there are weeks when the goal must be zero, and tell me Elder, why would God give you more than you desire?" I think Elder Hinton and I were just the guinea pigs. It wasn't personal. I could feel his love, and his desire for us to improve.
So he gave us a ton of great ways to improve, which I cannot write in this email because they are too numerous. However, I have copious notes in my study journal which I can share with you later. Anyway, so we got a call on Saturday that there was a secret urgent emergency meeting with all the zone leaders in the office Sunday night. So we showed up in Ramos Mejia Sunday night and President and the Assistants revealed the new vision of the mission. Everything has been revamped! I am kind of bummed that I am going to miss this new era of the mission. The new focus is baptizing every week. Everything is changed now. I am still trying to process it all, but I will follow the counsel of my leaders and put it all into practice these last two weeks.

So with that little meeting, we figured we needed to baptize someone this weekend. We had everything ready to go with Maxi to get baptized, and I went in divisions with one of our District Leaders, Elder Callejas, from Chile, to do the interview. We show up and the member in front told us an awful story. Earlier in the day she had gone back to Maxi's house to get the rent money or something, and there was music playing really loudly. She knocked on the door and it swung open and she saw Maxi on the floor with his Dad beating him senseless. He had the music blasting so that no one would hear Maxi screaming. So the member ran back to her house and called the police, the whole while Maxi's dad trying to break her door down to stop her. He said they were just "playing". It made me sick. So we went back there to talk to him, and he opened the door and was really nervous. He can easily beat up a 13 year old, but he was pretty small standing next to us. He was out of his mind talking about how we were obligating Maxi to go to church, and how they are going to baptize him in the Catholic church whether he likes it or not. We told him that would be obligating him, but there was no reasoning with this man. So Maxi didn't get baptized, and we aren't really sure what is going to happen. I think it is in the hands of the legal authorities. Hopefully they can help Maxi out of the nightmare he is living. I thought Elder Callejas was about to wail on the guy...I saw his arm flinch once, so I moved in front of him because we didn't want the throw ourselves into the mix. But it was a really sad ending to the week.

It is starting to ding at my heart that I am leaving. I don't like it. I am afraid to go back into the world. It is too easy to fall, but at the same time, I thank my Father every night for this mission that has prepared me to take on the challenges that will come to me in the future. I would have surely fallen long ago if I hadn't decided to serve this mission. It is no coincidence that Heavenly Father has his 19-21 year old sons spiritually remove themselves from the world and dedicate two years to the studying and preaching of the gospel. I love Him for the uncountable times He has stretched forth His hand in these two years to encourage me, to correct me, to lift me, and to heal me. I know He lives. I know that I am His son, and I know that the precious blood of His Only Begotten Son was spilled for me, so that I could have these experiences, and help my earthly family, as well as my spiritual one, in our progression back to Him. As a child of God I know this truth: A family is forever! I am going back into a dark world, but as President Monson said, "The future is as bright as [my] faith." I think that was President Monson anyway. Well, I am going to close this one up...until next week when I will be writing my LAST EMAIL ON MY MISSION OH MY GOODNESS I CANT BELIEVE IT CAN YOU? I AM NOT TRUNKY THOUGH IT JUST KIND OF DAWNED ON ME RIGHT NOW I HAVE TO THINK OF SOMETHING PROFOUND TO WRITE NEXT WEEK 14 DAYS gum caps lock got stuck. I can't wait to type on real keyboards.

Love Elder Gilmore


Elder Todd Hendrickson said...

Sean, I know you won't read this til you get home. You don't need to think of anything profound to say in your last email. You already said it in this one. I am so proud of the man you have become. Your mission made you the man you are. Your parents should be very proud! Your testimony is beautiful! Wish we could see you. Love, Sis. Hendrickson

Brooke said...

I can´t believe you guys are the most succesful mission in Argentina!! The baptisms and everything must have improved a lot in recent years. Travelling to that country for a mission like that must be gratifying. I remember the first time I set foot in BA I was stunned. I had my own buenos aires apartment and since I was near downtown, I knew almost every place for tourist in the city.
I hope you are enjoying your days there and that you are starting to feel better with yourself.