Landon is on an LDS Church mission. After serving six weeks in Medford, OR, he got his VISA and is now in Salta, Argentina. So his mom is posting his letters for anyone who wants to read them. He'd love to hear from firstname.lastname@example.org or
Elder Landon Willey/
Argentina Salta Mission/
Casilla de Correo 429/
This week I think we´re going to have a baptism! Regina, who´s been meeting with the Elders for over a year. She has a super strong testimony of the gospel. She just forgets it at times. This week we had a few awesome lessons with her. She bore her testimony to us of the restoration, and she´s always using funny analogies to explain herself. It´s so great! In one of the lessons this week, we knelt down for a prayer and at that moment her two daughters walked in. They prayed with us, and the spirit was so great. Then at church she told us that she decided not to get baptized, but still meet with the missionaries and go to church and stuff. Not the first time that´s happened. We went by later that day and she told us that she wants to get baptized with all her heart. I really do think she´s ready this time.
Walking down the street in my cool hat
I gave my first blessing this week. Elder Sant was really sick, and asked for one. Since then, he´s only had a really really runny nose. Priesthood power really does work. Also, it was really comforting to feel the security of what I was saying, if that makes any sense. I was a little worried that I wouldn´t know what to say, but the words came and when they stopped coming, I ended the blessing. It was really.... comforting? Just a reassurance that the Lord takes care of us. Also, I´ve given so many annointings since I got here that I lost count. Priesthood is the best.
So Carnival is over! Ish. We never once got hit with a water balloon or flour. The Lord loves us. A lot.
I also had my first dog experience this week! I was walking down the street and a dog that I never once even saw ran up, bit me, and ran away. It wasn´t very hard at all. I later found out from my comp who was paying closer attention that another person was taunting the dog and the pooch took it out on me. Cool thing? Same pants I was wearing when I took a spill on my bike, and they are still just fine! No holes or anything. I love all the tender mercies.
This week was so, so great. We had three people in church! First was a super catholic lady that met with the missionaries years ago. Not too much interest in changing, but she went to church, and it was so great! Regina went as well, and a lady for whom we did service this week. More on her later.
We had a mini miracle in church. This past week, a recent convert moved into our area from another part of the zone. We went by and invited her to church. In gospel principles we had two of our investigators, and no recent converts. Then the girl that got baptized came right before we started! She added so much to that class. Without her testimony of why she joined the church, it would have been very different. I love those times when things just happen to fall into place like that. Really does testify that there´s a divine creator.
I had the cool chance to go on divisions twice this week. And I was totally freaked out both times. Friday Elder Rivera from the other area in our district came. He doesn´t speak English. It was kinda up to me to make plans and stuff. Again, so grateful for the help of the Lord. He is so involved in His work. We had three great lessons, including one with Carmen (investigator that went to church). This lesson was the day after we went by and helped paint her door. We talked about baptism and confirmation and how we need to go to church to prepare ourselves for that. Her original date was back in October, but because she never went to church, she couldn´t get baptized. Friday we committed her to go and she said that she would, for sure. The spirit was powerful in that lesson.
The other division I did was with the ward missionaries. I think I´ve talked about Alan before - He´s the ward clerk, preparing for his mission, and super awesome. He goes out with us almost every day. He´s always got references, too. This week he made a list of practially everyone he knew so we could pass the references on. Well, yesterday I went on a division with he and his brother while Elder Sant went with his other brother. It was so weird being the only full time missionary there! I really had to kinda step up my game and talk a lot more. We taught our transvestite investigator, which went pretty well. S/he had a friend or something like that there that s/he invited to sit in the lesson with us. I didn´t understand a word he said, but he really seemed to have a sincere desire to learn, and Alan was able to answer his questions. We also had a couple other crazy lessons with people just outside their house. Crazy, difficult, but always fun and rewarding to have to really depend on the Lord.
The stairs to our apartment
Well, that´s mostly it. One thing I´m learning here is that really, we don´t have to do too much as missionaries. Some of the best lessons are just the super short ones that have a prayer, a super brief summary of one of the lessons, and nothing more. We had another experience of meeting someone that didn´t have any time, but allowed us to walk in and have a prayer. We said the prayer, testified of the restoration, and left a pamphlet. She seemed so happy when we left and gave us apples to top it all off. It wasn´t really anything we did, just the Spirit.
This truly is the best work there is, and it´s so cool to be out here building my testimony every day.
I had a pretty different week! We had interviews with the president and exchanges this week!
What is with this family and guns? How many have you guys bought since I left? Even so, I´m very excited for the deer hunt when I get back. Apparently I´m expected to cook desserts here every once in a while in lunch with members. Some recipies would be much appreciated.
I liked the thought on the Spirit. It´s so true how simple it is. If it´s something that makes you feel the "fruit of the Spirit," or a good thing, do it. So long as you´re living worthy of the influence, it probably is of the spirit. One thing I liked from Zone training is when the ZL said "It´s like driving a car. You can´t turn in the correct direction until you push the gas." Or something like that. He said it in Spanish.
So today is the beginning of Carnival. Technically it doesn´t end until tomorrow. Really, it lasts the week. I don´t really get it. It´s a holiday where they celebrate mother earth and baptizing the devil... Really it´s just an excuse to skip work and get drunk. And throw flour and water balloons at unsuspecting gringos. Fortunately, we´ve made our travels in such a way that we avoid most the danger zones, and the few people that have attempted have terrible aim.
Exchanges were fun! We ate shishkabobs. Something I never would have expected here. Also, I met a real golden investigator! She was so awesome! She talked about how she really felt the feelings of the spirit in the church, how everything makes sense, how she decided not to move so she could get baptized here, and how she´s so sad that her family doesn´t want to listen. It was a really cool lesson. I was just sad that it wasn´t my investigator.
We also had a cool experience of teaching a transvestite. Just a testimony to me that I need to remember not to judge - everyone is a child of God and needs the chance to hear the gospel. Even if you´re not sure whether to refer to them as a man or a woman.
Another interesting experience - We went to contact a reference. A little kid answered the door. When we asked for the reference the little kid started crying and said, "Ella se fue al cielo." Or in English, she went to heaven. We were a little confused. With our next appointment with the person that gave us the reference, we asked what she was like. She told us that the reference was super sick the last time she saw her. We left it at that...
Last non-spiritual fun interesting fact. In addition to being an awesome teacher and service-full companion, Elder Sant makes a mean cobbler! This week we ate peach and piña colada cobbler!
Well, this week was a little harder. No one seems to understand why they need to go to church. We have one great investigator, but she unfortunately has a bad leg. This week we had a lesson with her, where she explained back to us why we need both the Book of Mormon and the Bible. It was really cool! If it weren´t for her silly family, she´d already be baptized. I´m so glad I´ve got a super awesome family. It´d be so hard to live this gospel without your support.
We also had a cool experience with a recent convert. We´d been trying all day to have an investigator lesson, but they all seemed to be off carnivaling. We stopped by a recent convert and she let us in! She also happened to have a friend there, who we were able to teach. I love it when less actives talk about their baptism and stuff and realize that they´re missing out on the spirit they felt. We taught a lesson on Baptism and Confirmation and the Spirit there was awesome. After we left, Elder Sant told me that of the 3 or 4 times he´d tried to go by, they´d never been allowed in. He blamed my eyes. Sometimes, being a blue eyed blonde gringo can have some major benefits.
One last experience. As we were walking away from a fallen appointment, we ran into a less active member. I was kinda excited to actually be able to talk to someone, but then he started talking about how it was all a bunch of crap and the only thing you really need is faith in Christ. He was a really outgoing nice guy, but someone had brainwashed him bad. There was a really nasty spirit there. We extracted ourselves from that situation and visited another less active. He wasn´t nearly as outgoing or well groomed, but the spirit there was so different. He talked about his baptism and how he felt the help of the Lord in his life. It was just interesting to me to compare the two - both less active, one less personable than the other, but how much more I´d prefer to be with the second, and how much better his chances were of returning to activity. I´m glad there´s people out there that really do understand how great this gospel is.
First off, I totally realized right after I finished last week that I forgot to mention where I am. I´m in San Salvador de Jujuy, up north around where Acey was about a year ago I think. It´s not a city city, but it´s more like a Layton size area. Salta, the biggest city in the mission, is more Salt Lake size. I´m a little further away from the city center, so more suburban kinda area. It´s great! The weather is really hot. The two weeks before I came it rained a ton, but it´s only rained a little once or twice since I´ve been here. The food is pretty basic. Lots of milanesa, which is like flattened meat, either beef or chicken. Also lots of tomatoes, some rice, and potatoes. As for mail, I believe I sent the mission office address for all the letters people want to send. There´s a separate address for packages and stuff and although they´ve explained it a couple times, I still don´t quite understand how pouch stuff works. But it does work if people feel that urge. As for e-mail, anyone can e-mail me (email@example.com). I just can´t respond by e-mail. I haven´t really brought it up before because it takes computer time to read it, but printing down here is dirt cheap, so I decided it´s faster to just have people send stuff and print it.
We have some fun pets in our apartment. Gatito ("literally kitten") y Beethoven (dog). They´re so fun, and great food disposals! They belong to the neighbors downstairs from whom we rent the apartment, but they´re awesome! We have the only automatic laundry machine in the mission and probably one of the smallest apartments. Even so, it´s plenty big. Plus they have nice bathrooms here. Just like home, more or less!
We had our first district meeting this week! Only one other companionship. I made friends with the zone quickly with a bag of Twizzlers. It was great. I made a trip down to Salta this week. I should be legal now! Yay!
Crazy thing... I got kissed twice this week. Once right after I e-mailed last week, this lady came up and was talking and crying so fast that not even Elder Sant could understand. We gave the hand to shake in the end and she just went right in and got us on the cheek. It all happened so fast. Next we were visiting a less active. Some of their friends came in and before she realized what she was doing, one of them gave me the traditional Argentine greeting of a kiss on the cheek. Elder Sant said my face looked totally devastated. After she realized (she was a member) what she´d done, she felt really embarrassed. It was definitely a different experience!
So every once in a while we get some interesting food, some good, some bad. Today for a dessert we had yogurt with m&ms and bananas. That was good. Earlier this week we had noodles with beef and eggs. That was bad. But good for Gatito and Beethoven.
Best part - spiritual experiences. We´re teachig a guy named Rene. He´s partially deaf, so we have to talk really loud. Yesterday when we were talking about church and its importance, he said he didn´t feel really comfortable going because he couldn´t understand much. It was a perfect opportunity to share my testimony. Earlier yesterday, I hardly understood any of the testimonies, however the Spirit was so strong. I really felt good about sharing that even though we may not understand it all, we can still feel the Spirit.
This week we a zone leader training on how to be more persistent. One of the biggest excuses here is, "I'm on my way out the door." They told us that as we all know, it isn´t always true unless they´re actually in the process of walking out the door when you see them. Usually we´re able to set return appointments when that´s the case, but they taught us it´s better to leave with a prayer and a short, brief truth before conceding to just a return appointment. Later that day, we tried it. The lady told us she´d love to talk a little later, but now wasn´t a good time. We asked if we could just say a prayer and she said okay. Turns out she´s a long time former investigator of about 16 years. The Spirit was there, as were some of her kids. We said a prayer, shared a bit of the plan of salvation, and it was awesome.
My last favorite of the week was when we visited a less active. Everything seemed fine, but as we talked to him longer, it came out that he really didn´t know if this was the only true church - he just knew it was good. Also, with all the new doctrine he´s learning, he feels a little confused. I love the Book of Mormon. It´s so powerful. We were able to read the introduction with him and testify that if he truly wants to know, he can ask God and receive an answer. I felt the Spirit strongly. I only hope he did too.
Well, that´s my week! And this week is going to be even better.