Thursday, December 30, 2010
This week has been tough. With all the Christmas decorations and everything it is hard to keep focused on the work. And when you start thinking about Christmas you think of home then start to get homesick. I´m actually kind of glad for Christmas to be over so I can focus easier. It was also tough because Christmas Eve our golden family dropped us. This is the family that we found last week that was way excited about everything. We´ve had several lessons with them and they seemed to be progressing really well, reading the Book of Mormon and praying. But Christmas Eve they told us they felt ´impresionados´ (how do you say that in English, ´pressured´?) and wanted to take things more slowly. They don´t want us to visit for at least two weeks. And our other golden investigator, Cristian, told us he is way to busy and won´t be able to find time for us until after the fiestas. So it was kind of a sad day, but we are confident that there are people here who are ready and we are working to find them. We realized we need to work a lot more with the members, all of our investigators we found through contacts on the street, which isn´t nearly as effective.
But along with all this disapointment came a miracle. The elders in our district have been trying for four months to get two girls baptized but couldn´t get the parents permission. On Sunday they finally got permission and decided to do the baptism Monday (yesterday; it´s pretty weird to have a baptism on Monday but they felt that they needed to). So Monday we went to the church at 5:30 so Elder Merrill could do the baptismal interviews. We got there and the elders were literally running around trying to get water. The baptismal font had filled up about a fourth of the way and then the water in the chapel stopped working. We tried for about 40 minutes and couldn´t get water. Elder Merrill then had to do the interviews and the other elders continued running aroud looking for water; the bank next door had water but wouldn´t let them use it, they called the bishop, the city matience people, the firefighters, but nothing worked. At about 8 we still didn´t have water but the family was there and waiting for the baptism. So us four elders knelt and prayed and asked for a miracle. After looking around for a few more minutes we were talking about how we felt during the prayer. One of the elders said he felt very peaceful that it would all work out. The instant he finished talking the door opened and a member walked in. We told him the problem and he fixed it in about 45 seconds. So it was now 8:20 and we had 15 minutes to fill the font and get the girls baptized. We found as many hoses as we could and started filling. I got a bucket and filled it up from a faucet in the bathroom and threw the water in the font. Finally at 8:45 we were ready. The girls changed into white, we had a prayer and a short talk, then they got baptized. It was the craziest baptism I have ever seen, but it happened. And it truely was a miracle that the member arrived just at the time he did. It was interesting. The entire time we were thinking, ¨what do we need to do to get water?¨ It never crossed my mind that we could cancel the baptism and do it another day, the whole time we were just focused on getting water. And at the last possilbe minute God blessed us with what we needed.
This work is true. God lives. 2010 years ago His son was born into this world, and today that Son lives. Miracles still happen, you just have to look for them. I hope everyone had an awesome Christmas and has a great week.
que Dios les bendiga,
p.s. that was a bit longer than I meant for it to be, but I had to tell that story.
Besides that it has been a week of walking. Lots and lots of walking. My legs are exhausted. We have been working hard but not very many people let us into their houses this week. However we did find one family. They are awesome. A husband and wife and four young kids. I talked to the husband on the street a week or so ago and we set up an appointment. When we went looking for his house we got a little lost, but he came up to us and told us where it was. We taught the husband first by himself and he was really interested. We gave him a Book of Mormon and set up another appointment. By the next appointment he had already read several chapters of the Book of Mormon and explained to us the story line (first time I have had that happen). We then taught him and his wife and the wife was interested as well. Yesterday we had another lesson and we taught the kids as well this time. We read 1 Nephi 8 together about the vision of the tree of life and had the kids draw a picture of it. They are an amazing family and we are excited for them to come to church and get the blessings of God in their lives. The only problem is that they are not married and the husband has no intention of ever getting married. But we´ll fix that.
On Wednesday we had a zone conference in the mission president´s house. It was a Christmas party/Zone conference. We talked about the importance of involving the members in the work. Then we played white elephant but all of the presents were ties (what else are they going to give missionaries?). There were lots of bad ties and a few really nice ones. I ended up being near the end so I was able to steal a nice tie from someone, I was pretty happy.
That´s all the news I have for this week. It is almost Christmas which is pretty exciting. I hope everyone has a great time this Christmas and remembers the real reason why we celebrate Christmas.
Que tengan una feliz navidad,
"Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn´t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more"
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Monday, December 6, 2010
Alright I´ll write in English now. It has been an eventful week. When I first got to this area Elder Merrill told me not to get too comfortable because we were going to move in a few days. Well, three weeks later we finally moved. Wednesday night we got a call saying the dueños (landlords) were going to kick us out if we didn´t move. So Thursday we packed everything and moved. Our new house is in the suburbs, away from the city. Which means the road outside our house is a dirt road, and there is no grocery store near by, it is pretty different. But it is in the middle of our area which is nice, less walking for us. We also have a patio and an area to plant things; sadly we never have time to actually use the patio.
So, Thursday we spent almost all day moving. Friday we went to a wedding. Adrian and Rocío got married (the blind man and his wife). Argentine weddings are not romantic at all. We went to a government building, waited in line, then got led into a little room with 20 chairs or so. A lady walked in dressed in normal clothes, sat down, and said the marriage thing they say (´do you take so and so to be your wife....´ but it was in Spanish). During the whole time everyone was sitting down: including the couple getting married and the lady performing the marriage. When the lady finished talking the couple kissed (still sitting) then signed some papers. Then the witnesses signed some papers. Then we left. It took about 8 minutes in the room. No wonder no one gets married in this country. It´s not all that of an exciting ceremony.
Then Saturday was the really important day. The day they got baptized! The baptismal service was really good and a lot of members came which was awesome. Adrian asked me to baptize him and Rocío asked Elder Merrill to baptize her. So I baptized a blind man, it was a pretty cool experience. And they are truely converted to the gospel. I didn´t do anything to help them on their journey to the church, I just happened to be the missionary here when they got baptized. They fast every week, already paid their tithing, read the scriptures and pray every day, are already planning on going to the temple, have shared the gospel with their friends. They are really going to help this ward.
On Sunday Adrian and Rocío were confirmed members and given the gift of the Holy Ghost. That was also a really awesome experience for them. Then they bore their testimonies (since it was fast Sunday) and each talked about 10 minutes. They are caupos. After church we taught an investigator that we haven´t talked to in three weeks and also taught his son for the first time. The dad is still very interested and excited about the gospel and the son also was very interested.
We are starting to have some great success in this area. Now we just got to keep it up.
I´ve officially passed three months in Argentina. As for my spanish, I can understand almost everything. I still don´t know all the words they say but I can understand what they are trying to say, unless they start talking about cars or something random. And I can communicate almost anything I want. Not in perfect Spanish, my accent is still very gringo, but I can express myself. So it is going pretty good. God has blessed me alot to help me communicate.
That´s all I got for this week. I´m sending pictures of the wedding and baptism. ¡Que tengan una buena semana!
Monday, November 29, 2010
Friday, November 26, 2010
Having lived outside of the United States, especially outside of Irvine, Ca, I have come to be thankful for a lot of things we take for granted in the States. Among many, the main three are: my house, my religion, and my family.
1. My house. I have seen all sorts of houses here. Most of them are just cement and brick. Many of them are literally smaller than my front room. They share a kitchen and a bathroom with other ´houses´ that are close by. The people here don´t have the ability to go to their room to be alone, to have a nice table where they eat, couches are almost non-existent, a lot of people don´t even have chairs, just stools. There are also people who don´t even have that much, all they have is the clothes on their back. It is so hard to walk by people sleeping on the street and not just want to cry. To have my own bedroom with my own bed, a fridge, a kitchen, a couch, a tv, a computer, carpet. All of these things I am so grateful for.
2. My religion. There are so many people who don´t know why they are on the earth. Who have no purpose, no foundation. When something bad happens in their live they have no where to turn for comfort or guidance. That is why we have the gospel. That is why we have Christ. So that no matter what happens we know who we are and we know why we are here. It gives meaning to live and a reason to get going enough when life is tough, which it always is.
3. My family. There are tons of broken families here. Girls that got pregnant as teenagers, dads who left, kids who live on the street. The strength and protection that a family gives is invaluable. To have parents who love me and will do anything for me. Siblings that care about me and are always available to give advice or hang out with. It is a great blessing to have a strong large family that loves eachother. Even though there will be at least one more nephew that I don´t know when I get back, I love him too. Though there will actually be at least one more neice/nephew, because Rachel is pregnant.
Have a great Thanksgiving everyone. I love you all. May God be with you till we meet again.
Les quiero mucho,
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Monday, November 8, 2010
Monday of the past week was ¨Day of the Dead¨ which sounds like it would be about ghosts or something but it is actually about paying respect to dead relatives. The tradition is that the spirits of the dead come back and visit the family members, and that this is the only day of the year that they can leave the world of the dead. The families make food that the dead person liked and leave it for them to eat. There was one investigator that was really sad because she forgot to make the food; but we explained to her that it was just a tradition and that the spirits of our loved ones can visit us whenever we need them. She was a lot happier afterwards.
On Friday my companion had to go to paperwork. He´s been here a year and a half and still doesn´t his DNI, the thing he needs to live here legally. Afterwards we went to Florida Street and ate at California Burrito Company. It was pretty good, a nice american burrito; kind of like Chipotle but not as big or as good. Man, if there is one thing I miss here it is Mexican food. The same day (about an hour later) we ate lunch with the Bishop and our district leader came and made tacos. Since he is from Mexico they were ¨real¨ tacos; but they were exactly the same as the ones us Americans made a week ago. The only difference was that he made some special salsa that was pretty good. It was a nice Mexican food filled day.
There isn´t much else this week. The work is moving on. Sometimes I wish it would move a little faster, but it takes time for people to change their lives. Hay que tener paciencia. Sorry for the not too exciting letter. Hope everyone has a great week.
Monday, November 1, 2010
Well, this was by far the most interesting week on the mission so far. On Monday night we went to the villa to visit some people and there were cops in full body gear all over the place. We were in one house teaching a lesson and five of them walked in. I was worried they were going to search us (not that we have anything, just that it would waste a lot of our time) but they just wanted to use the bathroom. Then we went to a family home evening with an investigator family at a member family´s house. But when we got to the member´s house there were police blocking the entrance to the manzana (alleyway) where they lived. Apparently they arrived at about 2 in the afternoon and started a drug search of all the houses in that manzana. They didn´t leave until about 9 at night and during that time no one was allowed to leave or enter the manzana. They ruined our plans.
Tuesday was fairly normal, except that the villa was really quiet and empty. There weren´t the normal drug dealers and there wasn´t music blaring in the street. It felt entirely different after the whole drug bust thing.
Wednesday was the Argentina National Census. In Argentina it is pretty different from the states. Instead of filling out a form and sending it in or whatever we do, Argentina shuts down the country for a day. No stores were open, there was no school, everyone had to stay home and wait for the census workers to arrive. The census workers went to every door in the country and got the information they needed. So we had to stay home all day. It was so boring! There is only so many times you can play monopoly in one day without going crazy. But I was counted in the Argentina National Census, which is pretty cool. I´ll be on the stats for ten years until they do it again.
Also on Wednesday the ex-president of Argentina died of a heart attack (I´m not sure if he got counted in the census before he died or not). He was the president before the current president, and the current president is his wife. I guess there are the Clinton couple of Argentina. So everyone has been watching the funeral services for the past few days.
Thursday we had a member take to a restaraunt for lunch (which has never happened before). I got pizza, which was a mistake. Argentine pizza isn´t that great, they cover it in way too much cheese. I wouldn´t mind not eating pizza again for the next two years, but I know that won´t happen.
When we went to the villa on Thursday there were a bunch of people walking down the street right outside the villa. We asked some members and it seemed to be some sort of protest connected with the ex-president´s death. A lot of people went to the funeral services so the villa was kind of empty and we were advised to stay away for a few days until things got back to normal.
On Friday the ward had an activity at the church were the members made food from their native countries. There was food from Peru, Paraguay, Brazil, Bolivia, Argentina, China, and the United States. We were asked to make food from the states so we made tacos. Everyone made fun of us for making "fake tacos" but they all liked the tacos. They don´t know what real tacos are here anyway so what do they know. And the best part was that members don´t let missionaries pay for things, even when we try to. (I think it was five pesos for a dish) So I got some free food from Peru, Paraguay, and Bolivia; it was all pretty good.
On Saturday and Sunday Elder Ludwig and I took turns not feeling good, and the members were still saying we should stay away from the villa, so we didn´t do a whole lot. We had lunch on Saturday in the villa and we walked through without any problem. From what the members were saying I thought it was some sort of disaster in there; they just worry too much about us. It seems fine. But we have stayed away anyway just in case.
So that was my week. There wasn´t a single normal day during it. Of course normal on the mission is still crazy. We didn´t get to talk to a whole lot of our investigators. I hope they are all still doing well. Hope everyone has a great week! Stay safe, work hard, have fun, read your scriptures, pray, and go to church. That´s my best advice.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
This week has been interesting. José and Inese, the miracle couple we found last week, haven´t taken out a turn for marriage yet. (The way it works here is you go and do some paperwork and then they give you a date that you get married on, usually a month wait or so.) Their car broke so they have had to be with the car while the mecanic fixed it, we are pretty sure it´s the devil trying to stop them. But the car is working now and they still want to get married, so we are going to go with them sometime this week to take out a turn.
We have also been talking with another guy named José. He is the dad of Mica, the nine year old girl who we were going to baptize. He just wants to argue with us, but after talking to both him and the mom at the same time we got him to agree to let Mica be baptized. But when we said he was invited to the baptismal service he said he wouldn´t come. After that the mom backed down and said to wait so that there isn´t problems with the dad. We haven´t been able to talk to them after that and she didn´t come to church. We are pretty worried that something bad might have happened.
On Thursday I had the grossest thing I have eaten yet. It was some sort of chopped up corn that was boiled in water with some sauce on it. It looked like mush, the taste was bland, and the texture was horrible. I made it through one plate and then they gave me a second and I had to fight through every bite. The banana flavored juice didn´t help too much either. Apparently that is a staple for the poorer people here.
As for miracles this week: Saturday morning my stomach wasn´t feeling very good, but I was doing well enough to leave and work. During the day I was completely fine and had no problem. But as soon as we got home, literally the second I walked in the door, my stomach felt horrible again. I couldn´t plan or anything I just went straight to bed. This truely is the work of the Lord and He blessed me with the strength I needed to accomplish His work that day. God is still a God of miracles, I see them every day as a missionary. You just have to open your eyes and see them for what they are.
Well, that´s all for this week. Hope everyone has a great week. O, and ¡happy birthday Cindy (aunt grandma)!
Monday, October 18, 2010
Where to start? First, let me tell you about the area. We haven´t heard anything from the mission president about what to do, so we are just keeping the division we decided on, which means Elder Ludwig and I have the villa. The other two elders in the apartment are Elder Clarke (from Utah) who has six months in Argentina and Elder Amasio (he is Tongan and grew up in Anahiem) who has eight months in Argentina. So there are four yankees serving in the ward. It´s been kind of bad for my spanish because we speak english in the apartment instead of last transfer where we had to speak spanish for the latinos. But my spanish in still progressing and I can understand more every day.
On Tuesday we had a conference with Elder Arnold, a member of the Seventy. It was pretty awesome. He talked a lot about being a consecrated missionary and focusing all our efforts on the work (very similar to what Elder Ringwood told my district in the MTC). He also had a list of things we were going to do differently to be more effective and use our time better, like changing when district meetings are, always praying on knees at the end of lessons, not spending as long with members at lunch, etc. But the real miracle happened after the conference when Elder Arnold gave everyone a hug as we left. I was near the back of the line and when it got to my turn Elder Arnold asked how I was then asked me and my companion to wait a minute. After he finished hugging people he took us into a room and talked to us as a companionship then afterwards he had Elder Ludwig step out and talked to me personally. He pretty much just said that he could tell I was having a hard time and to not be too hard on myself. Sometimes things don´t work out as we want them to and we just have to accept it and not let it get us down. It was definitely something I needed to hear at that moment. I´ve talked to apostles and seventies before but I´ve never had one single me out of a group of over a hundred and talk to me one on one for a few minutes. I could tell he knew what I was feeling and what I needed to hear. It was awesome.
The other miracle of the week happened throughout a period of a few days. On monday we were with a family who wanted us to buy lemons for them. So we went to the store they told us but no one was there (the store is in a home and you just buy through a window). So we went to another fruit stand where the ladies selling the fruit talked to us about the church. One gave us her address. On Wensday we went to go find the house she told us. On the way we got stopped by some people selling mirrors who talked to us about the gospel (that was a fun experience by itself, one of the guys had me pray for him to be able to sell his mirrors; so I stood there in the middle of the villa and said a prayer). When we got to the manzana (I think I would call it an alleyway in english; and yes that is also the word for apple) where the lady said she lived it was obvious the house number didn´t really exist. But as we walked down the alley a guy said ¨hi elders¨ to us. We stopped and talked to him. He is the son of a member and has talked with missionaries a lot, but we have no record of it in our area book. In the beginning as we talked to him he said that he had never been ´convinced´ by the other missionaries. We didn´t teach anything, just asked questions, and all of a sudden he said, ¨tomorrow we will go take out a turn to get married.¨ We have no idea what changed his mind, but he and his wife are going to get married and baptized in a month. There is no way we would have been in that manzana if the fruit lady hadn´t lied to us about her address, or if anyone had been in the first fruit store, and we would have been there too early to talk to him if the mirrors guys hadn´t stopped us. But God knows all things and set up the situation perfectly so that we could be in the right place at the right time.
Both of those experiences were awesome and I know they were both miracles from God. I´ve been kind of sad because there are so many great people who I want to help change their lives, but they just won´t accept what we have to offer, or won´t put in the effort to read the scriptures and pray and go to church. I´ve come to really love some of the people we are teaching, and it is hard to see them deny the comfort the gospel can bring them. But I think that is what Elder Arnold was trying to tell me, I just got to do my best and accept that I can´t force people to come unto Christ; just work hard and put the rest in God´s hands. And He will provide, like He did with the guy we found this week.
Well that is all for this week. Have a great week everyone!
os quiero, (haha, got to love vosotros)
¨As I started down the street last Sunday feeling sort of down and kind of blue. Suddenly a voice said go forth stranger spread the picture on a wider screen. And the voice said neighbor there´s a million reasons why you should be glad in all four seasons. Hit the road neighbor leave your worry and strive. Spread the religion of the rythm of life.¨