Monday, April 29, 2013

San Salvador de Jujuy - April 29th

Hello Family!
Sounds like everything's going great back home! I love Elder Allen! He gave two talks when I was in the MTC. Both were super funny with a very deep spiritual side to them. One of them included a presentation of a selection of mormon commercials from almost every era. He was always really dynamic and fun to listen to! I'm glad you all had a good experience. 
That's sad about Julie Shanks, but I think she was prepared to go. You have to love the knowledge we have of the plan of salvation. I was just reading in Jesus the Christ about the resurrection of Christ and his time in the Spirit World and I was thinking about just how normal death is. It's just a brief movement of the spirit to do some more missionary work before coming back to a perfected and resurrected body. The gospel is great!
So we had a baptism this week! That was really exciting. Leila was really prepared. Admittedly, I was a little worried due to the fact that every once in a while she has a blonde moment, but it turned out really well! I was told she passed both her interview with the zone leader and the interview with the bishop with flying colors. The baptism went really well, and she was so happy.
In other news, Manuel Barco, a guy we started teaching a couple months ago, went to the baptism, and decided that he not only wanted to get baptized in a couple weeks, but also his kid! He went to church too! I'm excited to meet his son!
We had some good lessons with some new investigators this week! Two of the three put goals to get baptized. Plus I just realized that all of them are friends from a long time ago of members who we received as references. Just goes to show that the best work the missionaries do is from referrals from members! We've been sharing a lot lately the quote from Elder Anderson that if you pray and ask God, you're going to have names and faces come to mind of people with whom you can share the gospel.
Something really cool: our ward asked us a couple months ago to do a family night once a week with members and investigators. Since it started, it's kinda struggled a bit with people going and such. Elder Jensen just happens to have a whole bunch of great ideas and plans that they've done for family nights in the past! We had a super great activity this past week, and the people that came seemed pretty excited to invite the rest.
Last kinda miraculous thing from this week. Simon Rios is a fairly interested referral we received my third week here. He lives super far away from everything and we could never find him home. We've tried calling and all kinds of stuff like that, but we've never had a lesson with him. The missionaries where he works go by and teach him from time to time. Finally this past week, we arranged a meeting in the chapel. There just happened to be a ward baptism! He saw it and really liked it. We were also able to answer a lot of his questions. Have a great week! Love you guys!

Monday, April 22, 2013

San Salvador de Jujuy - April 22nd

Elder Jensen and me

Hey Family!
We had transfers today. My new companion is Elder Jensen from Arizona. He´s very cool, for the few hours I´ve known him. And cooks really well!
It was funny when Elder Sant left. Camila hit him. She wasn´t very happy.
Me with Rocio and Camila and the hat Rocio gave me

I went to do a little tourism last week! It´s a place called "Shopping." It was basically an American style mall. Kinda cool.
Landon and Landon

I did divisions with Elder Landon Henrikson from Salt Lake this week. It was very cool. He was so full of energy and was just crazy. He´d pull out some pictures of prophets in the Bible, tell their stories, testify of modern day prophets, and challenge people to baptism. They accepted, too! It was really fun to be with him, and I learned a ton. I think that´s one of my favorite things about being with other missionaries - learning the different things they do that help a lot. Oh! And the crazy part. His sister´s name? Caitlin. Spelled just like that, too.
We had a really cool lesson with a former investigator. We were walking in what I like to call The Bandilla de SiĆ³n, or in other words, Zion´s gang. Camila, Alan, us, and another recent convert named Dario. It was so powerful to have so many members present! They just kept testifying and inviting the Spirit! I felt it so strongly, and this girl decided that she really wanted to completely change her life.
Something crazy - at lunch we were watching an EFY video and I saw Caleb Ceran. It´s so weird to see people I´ve met all over the place in church media.
One of the cool things about being accompanied by so many members is that one of them that came with us took us in his car! It was really cool. And fast. And comfortable. I loved it!
One last cool thing that happened. We had a ward baptism this week, and Alan brought a new friend to it. It was someone who he´d met a couple hours before that he started talking to, and just decided to invite to the baptism. It´s so cool seeing members responding to the call of apostles and doing their own missionary work.
Okay, one more. Remember Leila with all the questions? Well she´s totally getting baptized this week! I´m super excited for it!
Well, I hope everything´s going well.
Love you guys!

Camila and Regina

Our Bishop

My district that just drastically changed

San Salvador de Jujuy - April 15th

Hello Family!
Real quick, anyone have any idea HOW Martin Harris lost the book of Lehi? I was just thinking about that this week, and I just can´t quite imagine someone just forgetting a manuscript of that degree of importance in a public restroom or something.
So this week has been really cool with a great Book of Mormon focus. It´s amazing how much power that book has!
We had a zone training on how to use it more effectively, and as we starting to apply stuff, people really started to react! Our first lesson after the training, we read the whole introduction with a guy. When he got to the end where it talks about Moroni´s promise, he looked up and said, "Is this really true?" It was such a great opportunity to bear testimony! I think one of the most important things on your mission is knowing that every single person has the right to receive an answer if they´re willing to ask, and knowing how to help them recognize that answer when it comes. I´m glad I´ve received an answer every time I´ve asked in every way I could ever ask for.
We had a similar experience with a less active later that day. He admitted that he didn´t believe the Book of Mormon was true anymore. He starting throwing some Anti-Mormon stuff at us to "prove" that the Bible was all we needed and that the Book of Mormon isn´t necessary. We were able to just bear testimony that what he said wasn´t true. It was so cool to feel the Spirit witness of what we said. In the end we shared some personal experiences, and he committed to try harder to receive and recognize his answer.
On another topic, I unknowingly had a lesson with a witch this week. It was some random lady in the street we met, that was aparently a former investigator. During divisions with members, Alan and I went to go visit her. It was really weird. She was talking about how she saw Jesus sitting on the grave of her dead husband, and kept doing this weird prayer thing. Then in the middle of the restoration she just got up and said she had to go. So we closed with a prayer and left. After talking to Elder Sant about it, he started putting the clues together and matched up the address with one in the area book where it says, "This woman is a witch. She robbed the missionaries and killed her husband. She acts nice, but don´t go there." We ended up talking to members about her and found out that the area book version was a little bit exaggerated, but that we still shouldn´t go back. I´m just happy we´re safe! Plus it makes for a fun story.
Mom, I used your plate and a bowl activity from primary to teach this week! There´s a member family we eat with and the kids get bored really easy. We talked about President Monson´s talk about obedience, and rolled the marble around in the plate and the bowl to demonstrate how rules keep us safe. They were enthralled. Their dad too! It was great!
I finally dreamed in Spanish! Something about a mother-in-law. Not sure what it was about, but I was thinking in Spanish when I woke up! It was a fun first.
So we have an investigator right now that´s so cool! Leila´s already gone to church three times (including to the wrong chapel for general conference), and just wants to learn! After teaching about the Word of Wisdom and the Law of Chastity, she said "Great! What else?" We mistakenly mentioned tithing, and that we´d talk about it later, but she said we couln´t leave until we explained it at least a little, so we ended up teaching it. The next time we taught the ten commandments and her first words were, "Finally!" The fun part was that her Catholic mom was listening in. When we got to Sabbath Day, she asked her mom if she believed in it. When she replied yes, she asked in good humor "Well why don´t you do it?" It was kinda really funny and left her mom speechless.
In church we taught about the priesthood in principles of the gospel. I realized just how blessed I´ve been all my life to have had a father who holds the priesthood in my home. It really has helped me out a lot...
Anyway, hope everything´s going well with you guys! Love you all!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

San Salvador de Jujuy - April 8th

Happy week after conference, family!
First off, I watched conference in english for everyone that´s wondering. All the gringos did. There´s just a difference between understanding the language and really comprehending the language, and not many of us can catch all the allusions, metaphors, and stories in Spanish. Even the guys with 23 months. I´m considering trying it later in my mission, but I thoroughly enjoyed watching it in my native language.
In answer to your question: Yes, it´s getting colder. There are leaves all over the place, but since everything´s already mostly dirt and rocks, it doesn´t look really out of place. 
Well, it was somewhat of a bittersweet feeling this week. The week went pretty well, then ended with no investigators going to the conference.
First off, we have a new star investigator. Her name is Leila. We went by to have a lesson and she said, "I tried reading this book you left because it sounds really cool, but I´m not exactly sure how it works." We went through and read the first ten verses of Nephi. She asked a question about just about everything, from footnotes to temples. It was really cool! Then she called us Sunday wondering why no one was at church. Unfortunately, she couldn´t go to conference due to work.
We also had a cool experience with Camila, our most recent convert. She is so converted! We mentioned "Angel Moroni" the other day and she understood perfectly what we were talking about. She also gets the organization of the church and all the auxilliares, has a favorite apostle, is going to institute twice a week, has a super strong testimony, is excited to have a calling and to do missionary work, and just loves the gospel. I had no idea it was possible to be so converted in less than three weeks. The other day she went with us to an appointment and just started talking and relating to the investigator and bearing her testimony. It was like we were out with an RM!
Anyway, I loved inviting everyone to conference! It was so cool to just tell every person that we have a prophet that receives revelation from God and that we get to listen to him LIVE! It made me really happy this week!
In other news, we got a lot of references this week from a lady that actually knew just about all of her neighbors. And we had an unexpected chance to do service by helping our neighbors move!
We got a challenge from our mission president to read the Book of Mormon in 60 days, focusing on missionary work and the Atonement. The first few days have been really cool! I´ve thoroughly enjoyed reading at that pace, with only one focus in mind. It´s something I´ve wanted to do since I heard Elder Bednar mention it in one of his MTC talks, but I´ve just never found the motive. Now I have!
I don´t think I´ve ever run so much in my mission. Nor has the time between conference sessions ever gone so fast. Our area is roughly 1.5 miles from the stake center, so after every session we ran back to try to convince our investigators that this really was one of the greatest opportunities for the next six months. It was also really cool to have 4 chances to do it!
As for conference, Elder Packer started it off so well! Then Elder Cook´s talk on peace was just what so many people needed. Between Bednar, Perry, and President Monson, they were very direct about obedience to the commandments. No excuses now! The other couple themes I got were the power of the boys that hold the Aaronic Priesthood and their potential, and how every member can "Catch the Wave" (that was so fun to hear Elder Nelson say that phrase!)
Well, I love you all! I hope everything´s going well at home, and that you take advantage of "conference in your pocket" as Elder Scott was saying!

Monday, April 1, 2013

San Salvador de Jujuy - April 1st

I always love writing every week. It really helps me see how the Lord´s helping me and recognize the personal progress I´m making that I don´t notice from day to day.
We had two day divisions this week. I was with Elder Parada from Columbia, who´s 18, is engaged, and has 4 months on the mission. It was really weird being the unofficial senior comp. It was way awesome though! I had to plan by myself because he didn´t know the area. I felt really good about the plans. We were going to pass by every single reference we had and the morning looked really promising. When we started, nothing happened for two hours. When we got to lunch, not even the less actives that were going to be there showed up. I was feeling pretty terrible, questioning my ability to run the area without a senior comp. I was also praying a ton. It´s a really good thing prayers are answered. After what I like to think about as a trial of our faith, things really started picking up, to the point where we ended the day having about twice as many lessons as usual!
It was also really cool because we really worked hard on remembering to ask for references this week. There´s a promise in Preach my Gospel that talks about how when missionaries ask references from everyone, they usually have plenty of people to teach. And it´s true! We got so many references (I guess it´s referrals in English...) this week, just because we asked everyone! It was really cool to see a promise of the Lord fulfilled. Especially when we asked an older person, and he said no, then his 9-year-old daughter had someone in mind. The little miracles are just so cool.
We also had another mini miracle. We got a reference of a neighbor, and started talking to her. She let us in, and we shared the restoration in about 2 minutes. Then we went to close with a prayer and Elder Sant said, "Your name was Viviana, right?" Then we both realized that we´d never asked her name, just gotten it from her neighbors and started to teach her. Thank goodness for the Spirit. She didn´t realize, and we were protected from what could have been a very awkward situation.
I love prophets! I´ve been reading the October general conference in preparation for the next one, and it really is so cool to have messengers from God who give advice so specific and appropriate for our day that helps in every aspect of our lives. I´m so excited for this weekend!
Also, I´m super grateful to have a family with temple-married parents. There really is so much heartache that´s avoided by marriage. I´m also grateful that you guys didn´t raise me in an idol worshipping home. I always kinda thought that was a commandment for the olden days, but after a week of pascua, I realized it still applies. A whole bunch of people hiked up to this somewhat creepy giant cross on the hill. It´s just nice to know who God really is, and have the existence of our Heavenly Father manifest in many different blessings in life.
Well, lastly, Easter was pretty cool, because we had an investigator that we never thought would come to church come to church! We talked to her once in the week. She´s a former that was dropped because she never went to church and she´s never home. In the lesson she asked a lot of questions and at the end said, "Okay, I´ll try to go to church, if I wake up." We passed by Sunday and her mom said, "I´ll try to wake her up, but who knows." Then we got a text during priesthood meeting (Sacrament Meeting is last here, too) saying that she was on her way! It was really cool. Then at the end of the day, an investigator gave us chocolate eggs, which just made it feel almost like home.
Well, I love you all! I hope everything´s going well at home!