Monday, June 17, 2013

Tucuman - June 17th

Hey Family!
Dad, Grandpa Clark, and Grandpa Willey - Happy Father´s Day! I totally had no idea it was Father's Day yesterday until people tried using it as an excuse to miss church. It was great. We said, "What better thing to do on Father´s Day than go to the house of your Father?" It´s really fun to see people´s faces when you say something like that.
We had an RM give a talk in church yesterday. He used a story that blew my mind. I loved it! It goes something like this "A young man, around 15 or 16 went to get his hair cut. As he was there, the barber started chatting with him, and they started talking about God. The barber said, 'I don´t think that God exists.' The boy asked why, and the barber replied, 'If God really existed, why are there so many people suffering in the street? Why are there children who go without food, and so many sicknesses and diseases?' The boy didn´t really know what to say, so when his haircut was over, he left on his way home. Halfway back, he turned around and returned to the barber shop. He said to him, 'I don´t believe that barbers exist.' The barber was surprised, and asked why in the world he would think that. The boy replied, 'If barbers really existed, why are there so many people with long hair out in the street? Why are there people who have ugly side-burns and terrible hairdos?' The barber, a little flustered, said, 'Well they don´t come to me!' To which the boy replied, 'Exactly.'" After that the RM read Matthew 11:28:  Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. It was so great! I´ve heard that question so many times, and I thought that answer was so great! 
Anyway, so I sealed two blessings this week. I´ve only ever done it once before when Elder Sant asked me to give him a blessing. It was kinda cool! The gift of tongues is a really cool thing - especially becuase in blessings you have to use a form of "you" that as missionaries we never practice. Lots of room for divine help.
I had an adventure this week! We crossed some railroad tracks and construction to get to the house of a member. I now have been to two of the four sides of my area. We also found the new housing development that´s part of our area. It´s like a whole different city. I could be totally off on the number, but it was something like 4,000 houses there, and growing.
One thing that I´ve seen a lot in this area are the little miracles that have to do with men being home. Men are never home. It was great in Jujuy because Alan came with us every day. Here there aren´t quite as many members to help out. Even so, it just seems to happen that when we show up to a house, a guy just happens to decide to take a break from work or show up for a few minutes. It´s great.
We had an awesome member reference this week. Her name is Maria, and she´s about 17 years old. We talked about the Book of Mormon the first visit, and watched the video of the restoration the second. After that, we asked if she read in the Book of Mormon. She had. We asked if she prayed. She had. We asked if she got an answer. She paused for little bit. I was ready for just about anything - "I didn´t feel anything," "I don´t really know, I´m not sure," but what she said was, "I don´t know why, but after I prayed, I felt really good." Ah! That´s a wonderful moment when you see the power of God work like that - when someone is so prepared that they recognize the answer the first time they ask! It was a great experience.
A couple interesting visits with various investigators this week. David, the young father of the 5-year-old with cancer (who declined again), has been reading a lot. He has lots of great questions. One of them was "Do you believe in exorcism?" His wife, who lives separately, had taken them to some universal church and he said it was just weird, loud, and he didn´t feel good at all. Great opportunity to explain how the true church of Christ is. I like getting questions from investigators. It makes me think, and oftentimes are things I never even considered. Another investigator, Lucas, didn´t have such good questions. He spend almost the entire lesson asking "why," more to be annoying than because he wanted to know anything. Just a testimony that annoying teenagers exist all over the world. We met another guy who didn´t want to know anything because "he is a church." I´ve heard that ever since the MTC and still am no closer to understanding what in the world people think. They do not have a prophet, 12 apostles, quorums of 70, bishops, priests, teachers, and the authority to perform ordinances dwelling in their heart.
I also met a Catholic lady who was trying to justify her idol worship! She didn´t want to go to our church because we didn´t believe in the Mother of Miracles (Maria) and all the santos, who apparently have to do 7 miracles before being named saints. I decided that by that definition, I´m a saint. Anyway, we read some scriptures in Isaiah about idol worship and in Matthew when Jesus said that we should only pray to the father. I love that face! The one where people have no clue what to say, because they know they´re wrong.
I know that probably sounds mean and not very missionary-like, but I´m just so glad to have the truth. I read Our Search for Happiness this week and it just reminded me how great and how simple the gospel really is.
Anyway, I hope you all have a great week!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Tucuman - June 10th

Hello Family!
This week was VERY different. My comp is crazy, but in a good way. I think the best description I heard of him was the "loquito mexicano" that a recent convert gave to him. All the kids love him and everyone laughs at him (also in a good way). He´s always got a ton of energy, and it´s really fun being with him.
Me with my new comp
I´ve had to get used to a few things here in Tucumán. For one thing, it´s a little more dangerous, so I can´t wear my watch all the time. It´s killing me not knowing what time it is. Also, our neighbors have a rooster that crows. Every day. Really early. I´ve had desires to kill it a couple times this week. In addition, the schedule is different here. We do our studies in the afternoon instead of in the morning. I´ll get used to it quick, though.
The area here is huge! I´ve seen the bottom limit and that´s it. I´m starting to get to know it though... and I think I may even know it better than my comp. There´s not quite as many members that go to church here, but we have a Ward Mission Leader! And he´s active! It´s pretty great.
Something cool that happened: My first day here we went to give a blessing to the five year old daughter of an investigator. She has cancer. The blessing was so powerful. I wasn´t sure going in if it was okay to say that she was going to get better, but I felt so strongly during the blessing that she really was going to improve. When we went again on Friday, she´d improved! It wasn´t a ton, but it was something. Priesthood and fasting works!
We had fun with a 17-year-old member the other day. We went with her to four of her friends and invited them all to church. It was cool! Teaching is much easier when someone they know is there testifying that what we´re saying is true.
We also walked into a Evangelical gospel study this week. That was nuts. I decided that it´s possible to take the Lord´s name in vain in a prayer if you use it every third word. It begins to lose meaning. That lady was nuts... It was basically "Hallelujah! Read the bible, go to any church you want, and pray to God and Jesus will save you!" I´m glad to have a knowledge of commandments, and what it really means to have faith. We met another guy the next day who was very confused on that issue. "All we need is the sacrifice of Christ and we´re good. You don´t need to preach anything but that." I just don´t understand how people can believe in Christ, but not believe that we need to keep the commandments he gives us in order to take advantage of that sacrifice. It says that multiple times in the bible... Oh well. That´s why we´re here trying to teach them!
Me with the Zone Leaders
I finished the Book of Mormon for the first time in Spanish! That was cool. I like that book. A lot. Yeah, it´s a story, but you can apply it to any situation, question, problem, whatever, and the answer will be found. I know it´s true, because like every other time I´ve asked, I got an answer through my thoughts and feelings.
We found 33 new people that let us teach them this week! It was nuts! I think one of my favorite experiences with a new guy was with an 18-year-od named Marcos. He lives in front of the church. We talked to him at the house of a member and said we´d go by his house later in the week. Every time we went by he wasn´t home. We saw him Sunday and he said that he was just about to go to church at some other church. My comp said, "Go here! It´s closer, and you´ll like it better!" So he went! It was kinda awesome!
Anyway, thanks for the letters and prayers and all that. I really appreciate it! You guys are the best!

Tucuman - June 3rd

Hello Family!
So it was translados, err, transfers today, and I got transferred. I got moved from my ward in San Salvador de Jujuy to a province more to the south called Tucuman. I´m in a ward called Villa muñeca. City of Dolls I´m guessing is the translation? Anyway, very excited! My companion is Elder Ortega from Mexico City. It´ll be fun!
Good news and bad news: Manuel got baptized! 
Manuel's baptism
A week later than he wanted to due to the work trip, but he did it! His mom and sister also came to support him. That was really cool. The bad news is that our baptism for the next week couldn´t get permission from her mom. Ariana, that understands really well, even though she only had 14 years.
Kevin (Alan's brother) eating a churipan
We had a ton of people go to church this past week! We found this family that had member relatives in other parts of Jujuy. The parents weren´t too excited to go and decided not to, and I think the 16 year old daughter only went because we´re gringos, but the 12 year old son was super pumped! Both kids brought a friend to church and it was really awesome. Plus we had an investigator come who´s been listening to the missionaries where he works in another area. He wants to get baptized really bad, but his wife is really Catholic, and wants him to take their son to catechism, which just happens to conflict with the sacrament meeting. Annoying, but he´ll get there in these coming weeks!
We ate with Alan´s family yesterday and had a huge barbeque. 
It was really cool, because it ended up being my last week there. 
Me with Alan and Elder Jensen
Anyway, I usually go through my journal and write the highlights, but with packing and the 5 hour trip and all I didn´t do that. So basically that´s what I remember from this past week. Hope everything´s going well!

Me with the Benitez family

Me with my District