Monday, March 25, 2013

San Salvador de Jujuy - March 25th

Hello Family!
Fun fact for the day: Elder Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks Spanish. Who knew? His accent was super gringo, but it was so cool to hear him speaking my mission language! Also, Elder Bowen and Elder Clayton of the seventy also speak Spanish! Sister Stephens of the Primary presidency however, does not.
As you might be able to guess, we had a stake conference via satelite here in Argentina yesterday. It was so, so cool! Especially because all the Elders spoke Spanish. It made me all the more excited for General Conference! Spanish is constantly getting easier. I still have a little ways to go before I´d consider myself fluent, but I'm doing okay. It is so much easier to learn here in Argentina than it is in Oregon. 
Anyway, in terms of investigators, there were two really notable instances this week. One was with an investigator named Manuel. He really wants to change his life and get baptized, but it´s really hard for him to pray. This last week, he prayed! He had to get help from my comp to do it, but he finally overcame "This weird force that seems to be preventing me from saying a prayer." I´m really hoping this week we can help him to say a prayer by himself.
We also had the baptism of Camila, the daughter of Regina, our last baptism! It was so amazing. Nearly half the active members showed up (with refreshments)! It was really packed. We also had an unexpected confirmation. The bishop decided there were a lot of people there and there was no reason to wait until after stake conference. She´s super active! In our last lesson she started asking deeper questions about the intro, title page, and the testimonies of the three witnesses. She´s actually reading it all from the beginning! She also went to the conference and talked about how much she loved Elder Nelson´s talk.
Something cool that stood out to me was how much doctrine really does meet the needs of the people. We have an investigator whose sister recently passed away. We were able to teach the doctrine of baptism for the dead and it just seemed to make all the difference for her.
We also had a cool experience with a primary kid. We planned to sing "when I am Baptized" for the baptism as a special musical number, but right before the baptism, we forgot the words. We were frantically trying to remember, and there just happened to be one primary girl there that knew all the lyrics and helped us out. It was one of those mini miracles that doesn´t make a huge difference in the long run, but is a nice reminder that the Lord cares about all the little things.
We had a Zone Conference this week. Those are always great opportunities to learn and do better.
I think my favorite quote from the conference was from Elder Nelson. He said, "Salvation is an individual matter. Exaltation is a family matter." Really, we can´t be saved without a family. I´m so greatful for the wonderful example of my family and their help to me. Elder Clayton also talked about the gospel basics, and how if we do them, there´s no problem we can´t solve. The basics were tithing, a generous fast offering, doing your visiting and home teaching, weekly family night, daily family prayer and scripture study, and magnifying your calling. When we fulfill all those commandments, everything will be okay.
Also, in case anyone´s wondering about the impact of the pope: from what I´ve seen, not much. Catholics are kinda lazy. The day he was chosen it was a little crazy. No one wanted to talk to us because they were watching the pope (some active members included), but since then it´s cooled down. I don´t want to sound critical or overgeneralizing, but Catholics are still fairly lazy and need the fulness of the gospel.
Anyway, love you all!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

San Salvador de Jujuy - March 18th

Well, I loved my studies this week! We got copies of the Liahona for the past two months finally! Sometimes in Argentina, it can take some time for stuff to get to you, but when it finally does, it´s so great! The words of modern prophets are so great and I kick myself daily for not reading more in the church magazines before my mission. It was especially cool because we had an investigator with a question about organized religion and another who recently had a sister pass away. There was a great article in the February that I studied for the church organization and the first presidency message in the March was perfect for our other investigator!
We´re going to have a baptism Thursday! Camila, the daughter of Regina, our most recent baptism, started listening about three weeks ago, and progressed super fast! We had her interview this past week and I just about died. We were on divisions, so while waiting for the interview to get over, I was alone with a member. The zone leader came out of the interview and told me that everything was going well, but we had to wait three weeks. I was so confused, because the pre-interview went so well. After, Camila broke out laughing and he admitted it was a joke. It took me a little bit to realize that it was a joke due to the language, but I was so confused for a little bit. Background info: the zone leader who did the interview is named Landon. On the way out he said to me, "Wow, she´s super ready. Just be careful. She´s a little snakey." He told me in the interview she´d asked him what his name was. Not wanting to tell her, he just said "The same as Elder Willey´s." And she said, "Oh! Landon." A little embarrasing that she remembered my name from about a month ago when Elder Sant and I told them during Regina´s interview, but oh well. All is well.
Anyway, this week we had an awesome family history lesson using Ether 1. I never thought that chapter would be good for anything, but it worked really well. We also had a lesson with someone who "didn´t have time." She saw a picture on Elder Sant's planner of Christ coming to the Americas. That started a discussion and we ended up sharing the Book of Mormon with her. It was so cool! We also had a lesson with a family where a lesson 1 pamphlet had magically appeared on their table before we came. They said two sisters dropped it off, but we still have no idea who they were, because no one in the ward fessed up and there aren´t sister missionaries very close. That was cool.
We also had about an hour of our time spent teaching a very, very drunk man. In the middle of the hour, we got a little time to ourselves, and looked at each other and simultaneously said, "What the crap are we going to do?" (Pardon the language, mom). We prayed, looked in the scriptures, and found something to help him. He still was in no condition to feel the Spirit, but we were able to convince him that we really did want to help and that if he was willing, we were going to help. The gospel really does have some awesome power to it.
Well, sounds like everyone´s doing well. I love all of you!

Monday, March 11, 2013

San Salvador de Jujuy - March 11th

Hola Familia!

At the terminal with zone leaders and a
companionship from our zone during transfers
So I´d like to start off saying how grateful I am for the Plan of Salvation. It´s so great. We´ve run into quite a few people this week that just don´t really get it. Members and investigators alike. There´s a difference between having a knowledge of the plan and actually living like you have a knowledge. Yes, death is sad, but we know it´s not the end. And if we just focus ourselves on living in such a way that we can reach the celestial kingdom, we really don´t have anything else to worry about. I´m just glad for that knowledge.
Modern-day prophets are awesome. I ran into a March Liahona and read the article on the Spirit World. That was so cool! I didn´t know a lot of that stuff. How awesome it is that we have them!
This week we put on a Family Night. It was really fun! A lot of people haven´t played musical chairs here, so it was kinda new for the people that came. Then we related it to the circle of happiness, and how no matter how many things there are that make you happy, you´re never going to be fully happy without the gospel.
Now for investigators! We had a lesson with a lady I thought was super Catholic this week. Turns out that I don´t think she´s all that Catholic. She seems to have a few doubts about the Catholic church, and I´m thinking she might just be ready to accept what the missionaries 20 years ago started to teach her.
We also had a lesson with her neighbor that really wasn´t interested. We went by and she was always busy or doing something else. This last time she said, "I believe in the virgin. You guys don´t really believe in that, right? So go away." So we shared Alma 7:10-12, and said that we do believe in the virgin. I love that scripture. It testifies perfectly of the proper role of Mary and transitions into a place where you can bear strong testimony of the Savior´s mission. She got really quiet and the spirit was present. We got a return appointment. The Book of Mormon is the best!
Awesome miracle this week! We went by to contact someone, but they were busy, so we went next door to write down when we could come back because it was raining and next door had a canopy. As we stood there, the member that was with us (Alan - the really cool one that always comes out with us, even when it rains buckets) happened to stop in the doorway. This girl saw us and said, "One sec, my dad will be right out." And along came Oscar! Apparently he´s a former that was dropped early along the way about a year ago because they couldn´t ever find him home (He´s only really there weekends). He seemed really interested and was excited to talk to us! I love the contacts with the people that invite you in without having to say a thing.

Awesome panoramic view of street

Me in the street with Aan
Last but not least, yesterday rained. A lot. The street that´s the lowest in our area was quite literally a river (I have pictures!). But even so, it was really fun! We had appointments with investigators, so we went to them. And singing hymns never hurts! It was a lot more fun than I expected. The hat is my sombrero. We almost always wear them. It was a suggestion/commandment from the mission president´s wife when I came. It works a lot better than sunscreen, and will probably be cheaper in the long run, too. Well... it won´t take very long to be less expensive. The work is great!

Love you all!

P.S. Just FYI, It was transfers today. I´m staying here with Elder Sant, so nothing too interesting. And other people can e-mail pictures if they want.

 Choque family that feeds us and is super active!
Ferreira family - the family of Alan - super awesome
Us with Vilches family (former ward mission leader that
 went into a coma, wasn´t expected to live, woke up, had
 to get a leg amputated, and now is just a really funny member)

Monday, March 4, 2013

San Salvador de Jujuy - March 4th

Hello Family!

Thank you so much for doing this blog thing! It´s so cool and I get tons of mail! I just can´t write anyone back if they don´t put their addresses in their e-mails. 
So Caitlin, on the phone the last time we talked you asked if I still broke out into song randomly and stuff like that. Well no. But since I´ve been with Elder Sant, all the time. We always start talking and it become a converstation with words of primary songs, or we´ll hear some random melody in the street and start singing broadway. And occasionally Disney. But with the later two we generally correct outselves into church music quickly. Just thought I´d share!
We made pizza!
So this week I did a couple interesting things. I cut my own hair. It looks okay. I understand better now why Criag´s hair always looks so blah in his missionary pictures. Also, I totally made empenadas. And they were delicious. Also, I learned they have Trix here. Real Trix. Not that nasty shapless stuff they sell in the states now. I also got jumped on with a dog with super muddy paws, but it was okay, because my shirt was dirty anyway and we were a block away from the apartment. I spent two days on divisions with the Zone leader this week. That was pretty nuts! It´s crazy when the other companion doesn´t know anyone you´re visiting, but really gives you a chance to learn and improve. I also showed the family photo for the first time to the members here because I had it with me for once. They said Craig looked younger than the girls. And that Libby looked 20. And that I look 3 years younger now than I did in the picture. Also mom, they guessed you looked around 30. They didn´t believe me when I told them you were 50.
So this week was full of super short lessons. No one really had time, but we still said, "Can we at least say a prayer with you?" And most people like that. Then we take the chance while we´re in their house to share a quick five minute lesson and commit them to read a pamphlet. It´s pretty great!
We talked to this family again this week. Up to this point, I think we´ve talked to all of them once, but never together. They´re all super awesome! When we talk to them about the family, the spirit is always there, and when we shared the Book of Mormon, they seem really ready to read it. I just hope we can find them in house this week!
We also found another family, and finally had the chance to talk to them this week! The dad said he likes everything the Mormons say and do, but´s just too lazy to ever go to church or do anything else. Kinda sad, but I´m thinking there´s some way to get them there. We´re thinking trying the English class approach - starting in their house, moving it to the chapel, then inviting them to go on Sunday for church. At least the daughter shows some interest! We´re also teaching their neighbors and she sometimes shows up for those lessons. I have hope!
On Thursday we went on a referral rampage! It was awesome! We started applying the parts in Preach my Gospel where it talks about talking to the neighbors if the reference isn´t home, and also making sure to ask every single person for references, not just in general to the family. We had 7 received and 5 contacted! The people we contacted just kept giving us more and it just went on and on and on! I think my favorite was when we asked this family and they gave us one, and said that all of their neighbors had already heard and rejected the gospel. When we left, their 7-year-old daugher was outside... so we asked if she had any friends to visit. She said yes, and took us a couple houses down. We asked if she knew her friend´s parents´ names. She did. We contacted them, and they were super awesome! They even asked a question or two about the church. We´re going to have a lesson with them this week. When we talked to the wife yesterday, she said, "My husband said you guys could come back? That´s weird. He never wants to talk about religion." My testimony that Preach my Gospel really was written by prophets grew so much this week. They really do know the best way to do missionarywork, and it´s all right there in PMG.
We had a really cool lesson with another reference. The spirit was really strong and she was really interested. When we got to the end, we totally felt like challenging her to baptism. Then she started by saying, "Well, a long time ago a went a lot to your church." Great! She´s already been to church! "In fact, my uncle´s a member." Even better! Family in the church! "And I was baptized when I was 12." No longer a new investigator. But it´s okay, because everyone has the same worth in the sight of God. She needed all of lesson 1 over again. So that´s what the Lord prepared for her!
Lastly, I just want to say how awesome church is. We had a couple investigators come yesterday that have been saying they´d come for a while, but until yesterday, hadn´t. I was so excited! Like the scriptures say, joy is exceeding when you help bring souls to Christ. The testimony meeting was powerful, and I realized how blessed I am to experience the church in another part of the world. I really know that this isn´t just a great organization made for one particular culture. This is the church that Jesus Christ established for every person in the world, and all can feel of His love and spirit by attending.
Well, Love you all! Have a great week!

San Salvador de Jujuy - February 25th

We had a few miracles this week! On Monday we hardly had any lessons at all, so we decided to stop and pray. We thought for about a minute, and decided where we should go. We went to that house, and had a lesson with the son of one of our potentials! Prayer really does have power. Later in the week, we were one lesson and one less active visit away from our goal. We figured why not try the prayer thing again, right? Well, again, it worked. WIth 15 minutes left in the day, we visited one of the formers we had, and his member wife and daughter were there. Goals accomplished. All because prayer rocks and we have a loving Heavenly Father who´s very involved in His work.
So in personal study I found out that I really love the Psalm of Nephi. It´s a lot more interesting to study than I thought it´d be. Also, I found out that Isaiah makes a lot more sense in English than he does in Spanish. So if you ever feel like complaining about how little sense he makes, just feel blessed that at least he´s not making sense in your own language.
I had the fun opportunity to take a bucket shower this week! Our water stopped one morning, and Elder Sant showed me the stock of water that his last companion made. It was really cool, actually. I was so grateful for that last companion that created that huge stockpile of water. Amazing how your actions can affect someone you don´t even know at a time in the future. 
Fun stuff I ate this week - carne asada - but like, the real stuff, with lots of fat, bones, and really tasty meat, empenadas (I could eat those all day), and giso. It´s like a soup type thing. Also, I was a few seconds away from drinking tea. I really don´t understand all the rules for what tea is okay and what tea isn´t. Thank goodness for Elder Sant!
We got to do service this week! To make cement, they use dirt. Lots of people add rooms onto their roof using bricks and cement. Once construction is done, there´s usually a ton of dirt left over on the roof. Our service was helping taking all the dirt down and dumping it in the grass. It was kinda fun!
So this crazy evangelist guy stopped us this week. He looked at my comp and said, "I have a scripture for you. Isaiah 60:19-20. It´s for you (pointing to me) and you (the member that was with us) but especially for you (punching finger into my comp´s chest)." He must have repeated that like three times. He then borrowed my bible and shared the scripture. I didn´t really get it. Elder Sant was sure that he was gonna take off running with my bible, but I got it back (yay!). It made me happy that in the church we actually have real revelation that can help people, and don´t have to just make stuff up and stop random people in the street to share a random scripture.
We had a talent show this week in the ward. We sang Brightly Beams our Father´s Mercy. Everyone really liked it. It helps that I´m sure that the Lord was helping us, and also that most latinos are tone deaf.
So we had an awesome lesson with one of the investigators that I´ve been trying to teach my whole time here. We´ve passed by Mirian about every other day and only taught her once. We finally got to teach her. The lesson started with her saying that she didn´t want us to come by anymore, but later she opened up and admitted she had a drinking problem and was really embarrased every time we came by. We were able to testify of the power of the atonement, and how she truly can be free from her addiction through Jesus Christ, and realize her desire to be baptized. I love it when the spirit is super strong in lessons!
Regina's Baptism
We also had a baptism this week! It´s a lady that´s been listening for over a year - Regina. This was her fourth interview with the Stake President, and she passed! We had the baptism, and were really worried that no one was going to come after only our Ward Mission Leader, 1st counselor in bishopbric, and one other Elder were there 1 hour after it was supposed to start. Then people started coming right when we needed them. We had a sister come that was able to help Regina get all ready, then the sister missionaries came (even thought their investigator never showed up), and that really added support. Finally, we had the Relief Society preisdent show up just in time to give the welcome. Member of the bishopbric, ward mission leader, sister to help, and president of the organization. Exactly what we needed. Regina was so happy! I´ll send a picture as soon as I can. Also, her daughters just recently got intrested and started to listen! It´s pretty exciting.
Well, I love you all! Thanks for all your support!