Monday, July 29, 2013

Tucuman -July 29th

Hello Family!
This past week was quite wonderful. We didn't have any of the 5 baptisms we were hoping for, but they'll get there eventually, I have no doubt! Sara (with the dentist and the smoking problem) had a brother that she hasn't seen in 15 years come to visit, so wasn't home almost at all. Carlos, a "dry member" that´s been going to church for years and finally decided to get baptized went on a surprise vacation. The father of two girls that want to get baptized was really stubborn, and refused to give permission, despite every effort from us, the district leader, and the zone leaders, too. David, the father of the girl that passed away, is super ready, and as soon as he gets back from visiting family in Buenos Aires, we have his baptism planned! Satan does a lot to stop people from getting baptized, but only because the blessings are so huge. I'm consoled in the fact that God always wins out in the end.
I want you to know that you guys answered my prayers this past week. I always love getting your letters because you're all so wonderful, but when I read one last week about trials and challenges, it really helped me refocus and get a better attitude. That, combined with the president's letter and a talk from Elder Cook that I remembered - "It's better to look up," made this last week great! I also studied a bit about pioneers and how they took their trials as a way to grow closer to God. The mission is great. My leaders have been a huge support for me lately, and we found a really cool 8 year old that was so happy she was on the verge of bursting into laughter every second. Mosiah 3:19 to mind. (For the anatural bman is an cenemy to God, and has been from the dfall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he eyields to the enticings of the fHoly Spirit, and gputteth off the hnatural man and becometh a isaint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a jchildksubmissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.) Despite the below freezing temperatures and other stuff going on, it was so cool to remember my Savior and the importance of doing this work with good cheer (D&C 123:17)
Anyway, we had two great asados this week. It´s like... a grill. Lots of meat. Really tasty. I like Argentina!
We had a cool lesson with an investigator that we've been trying to get to the church. Her 10 year old nephew came with us, and wow! His testimony was fantastic! "I love going to church and reading my scriptures because every time I do it, I feel the Spirit and I know it, and even though I sometimes don't go because my mom sleeps in, I know it's true." Kids are awesome! And as a side note, thanks for never sleeping in parents!
We did double divisions this week. I went with the district leader, then with a zone leader. Being away from my companion a bit helped me to realize how much I've learned and applied from his example. I've become much more insistent, much more excited, and my Spanish has gotten TONS better during my time with him. God knows what he's doing, and has this work organized down to every companionship.
Well, that's what I experienced this week. There's always lots of miracles and great things going on, and I know that if we take the time to be happy and notice them, we'll be blessed richly from our loving Father. Hope you all have a great week!


Monday, July 22, 2013

Tucuman - July 22nd

Hey Fam!
Not much time today, but I'll write what I can.
We helped a couple guys move a wardrobe the other day and we got to teach them! It was a cool lesson. The guy's wife (they're married!) wants to go to a church. Talking to her made me realize just how grateful I am to be raised Mormon instead of Catholic. They do weird stuff. It also made me grateful for marriage in the US. It's much easier to fulfill the law of chastity when it doesn't take a few months to get married and years to get divorced.
Something that really hit me this week is the power of testimony. If we have a testimony, it doesn't matter what challenges or trials we have - we'll keep the commandments. There are some people I've met that don't go to church or keep other commandments because it's cold or because they have disagreements and all kinds of junk, but really if we have a firm testimony of the gospel, we'll keep receiving the blessings no matter what.
There was a mini earthquake here. I didn't feel anything.
I really like the Liahona. Like it's name, the words of modern prophets are such a great guide when we read them with the spirit in today's world.
Lucas, the kid that would have gotten baptized a couple weeks ago had his mom let him, came with us to pick up investigators to go to church. He's kinda immature, but when he gets with the young men and young women, he fits right in. He's really cool like that.
We had lots of service opportunities this week! From cooking to construction with cement to helping install automatic locks in a car. Really fun!
A scripture hit me in church yesterday - Matthew 11:30. The gospel is the easiest way to live. There was a holiday the other day and everyone was drunk. Plus one of our investigators was super high and doing dumb stuff when we went by the other day, and it made me realize just how easy life is when we obey the commandments.
Last cool story - Sara, who's around 30 and getting baptized as soon as she stops smoking got a blessing from God! Her dentist told her that when she stops, she'll get a free tooth cleaning! It's really cool to see the Lord's hand in the little things.
Well, gotta run! Love you all!


Tucuman - July 15th

Hello Beloved Family!
There were transfers today, but no one in our district moved anywhere.
Happy 9th of July! It's the independence day of Argentina. Or at least one of them. They look for every excuse to have a party and skip work. In our neighborhood it was really boring - no one did anything. Not even a firework. But there were a lot of people in their houses for the vacations, so that was great!
I found out that I'm really bad at soccer. Just so you all know. It´s a great way to make contacts on P-Day, though!
I found out this week that I really like having a knowledge of the gospel that I've built up over the years. We had a few investigators this week that had all kinds of questions, and the members with us tried to answer them all. Were they ever so confused. The gospel has the answers to just about everything, but you can't learn it all just like that. You have to build it up if you really want to understand it all. I'm so grateful that I was born in the gospel and given that chance.
We found a really awesome family! They totally recognized the spirit in the lesson and didn't even need our help! The dad did the prayer at the end and said, "That was weird. I don't feel like that when I do Catholic prayers." I love working in our Father's work with a member of the Godhead to help out. It just makes it so much easier.
I kinda lost my CTR ring on Monday. I said a prayer and we went back to look on the soccer field, but it was no where to be found. I kinda gave up. Then during the week one of the investigators that gave us ride back from soccer said that he found a ring in his car. God really does listen to prayers, and cares about even the stupid little things. I'm really grateful for that.
On the way to a lesson my companion decided we should take a shortcut. Normally we avoid those, but we felt like it would be better. We saved about 5 minutes getting to the appointment, and ended up getting there right before one of our investigators lit up a cigarette. Yet another evidence of the Holy Ghost helping in every moment of this grand work, if we're willing to pay attention.
I gave a talk in church again at a moment's notice. It was nice because I was able to give the same one I gave last time since I'm in a new ward. It was a fun reminder to me of the ability every one of us has to receive "daily or even hourly revelation" (Elder Bowen).
Well, thanks for the letters! I hope you all have a great week! Love you guys!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Tucuman - July 8th

Hey family!
Wow! This week was really great! We had a really cool zone conference and the whole mentality of the mission has kinda changed.
First off, we discovered yet another part of our area. Wow! It's like the states. There are no drunks and the streets are paved. The houses are nice and there are kids playing in the streets with their parents. It was really weird to enter into that different world. It's part of a really huge city that'll probably be it's own area once the missionaries get here finally.
So something that I don't think I said two weeks ago: Camila, the five year old girl with cancer to whom we gave a blessing, passed away due to the cancer. Her family was in a pretty bad way. This week we visited her dad, and were able to share a bit about the plan of salvation. They kept asking, "If she was so pure and innocent, and guaranteed to live with God, why did she have to suffer so much?" I felt like we needed to share the talk from Elder Bowen from October. David, Camila's dad, was in tears. It was so perfect. I'm so grateful for modern day prophets and for all those that they call. It was such a neat experience, and I know that through this, they're developing more faith in Christ, and really coming closer as a family.
A member gave us a reference a while ago. Really annoying kid. Don't know if I've said anything about him, but the first few lessons, he refused to read, pray, and kept asking "why, why why." Grr. Well, he's changed. A lot. Now he reads, says prayers, goes to church happily, and has a baptismal date for this Saturday!
We also found a former investigator! His name is Carlos. I would have sworn that he was a convert - he had a triple, a Book of Mormon, and a few other church materials, including a half-filled-out Duty to God. He just couldn't kick the cigarettes. But that's going to change! He came to church all by himself Sunday!
Something really cool happened. We had a really rough family go to church a week ago. This week we were dealing with all the reactions from the members. The majority were really scared. "I know that everyone needs the gospel, just be careful. This chapel's never been robbed and I don't want to change that." Then we found one sister that said "Hey, I've got some old church clothes that don't fit my son, and I want that family to have them!" What a difference! It was really cool! I don't blame the other members for making that kind of judgment, because they're not completely unjustifed, but how much better is the reaction of that sister!
So the conference talked a lot about the different ages of missionary work. In the beginning, it was all missionaries. Around '85, it changed to being working with the members. Now, it's no longer missionary work. It's the work of salvation. It's the responsibility of the members, who have the full time missionaries at their disposal to help them. We as missionaries now have the responsibility to help the members do their own work, and teach those with whom they work. I really love the quote from Elder Anderson in the last conference, where he really emphasized that the members need to pray to know with whom they can share the gospel. I realized that many times when those "names and faces" come to the mind, for the members here it's usually been "Hey, my old neighbor lives here now! I haven't talked to him in a long time" or "My best friend used to live here. I don't know if she still does." We've found some great people like that. Prayer is the best.
It also struck me this week that we have to make time for God. It's really struck me what 3 Nephi 13:33 says - to put first the kingdom of God. There's a lot of members that say "I don't have time. Come back on a weekend." I've really seen that the members who take 15-45 minutes out of their day to help out in the kingdom are much more blessed and happy than those who leave the work for when they think that they have some extra time.
Anyway, one last thing. I went on divisions with our ward mission leader yesterday! We visited a ton of less actives and I got to give a blessing. The power of the priesthood really is apparent in the ordinances. I didn't really know what I was going to say, and I said a few things that I wasn't really expecting. What really surprised me was when people started talking about it after, because a few of the things they mentioned I don't really remember saying at all. Priesthood power is real, and is such a great gift.
Well, Elder Ortega sends his greetings. Have a great week!


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Tucuman - July 1st

Hey Fam!
So this week was pretty cool. The topic of temples came up a lot. Tori sent me a letter saying that her mission had a temple day, where they had stations set up all around the temple to explain to investigators about the temple. Also Grandma Willey sent me a letter that made me remember all the cool experiences I've had in the temple. Have any cool temple related experiences lately? Sounds like Caiti's getting prepped with the Family History!
I've been working a lot this week on seeing people how they can become, and not judging them. On Friday we contacted some snakes in the street. As they walked past, one of them said to me "My sister wants to go out with you. Does she have a chance?" So we talked to them about Christ and the gospel and got their address. We went by in a part of our area where we've never gone before and contacted their family of 10. Then, on Sunday, 4 of them went to church. Cool, right!? Freaked out a few members because they look a little rough around the edges, but everyone can change!
We had some really cool lessons with a family we're teaching - the Jimenez-Garnica family.  We taught the Word of Wisdom and they had a lot of doubts. The next day we introduced them to Malta - fake coffee - and they were living the Word of Wisdom! We talked to them about tithing and the mom started crying, and told us the story that in that morning, they didn't have money to buy breakfast, but her sister had brought something over, their uncle had come by with some food, and the teacher of her daughter gave her something to eat. She connected that to her obedience with the WoW and tithing in her other church. God really does care about every one of us. He prepares the blessings when we comply with what he commands.
Our gospel principles class was HUGE this past week! We had two less actives come, and both brought family members. We had a great lesson on the sacrament.
We had a fun lesson with a member present this week! A convert gave us the referral of her friend from a yoga class that she took last summer, so we went by and the referral's sister, who just happens to be an active member in another part of the city, was there visiting! Members have so much power in lessons! As missionaries, we can testify all we want, but when friends and family members add their testimonies, it's much more powerful.
Mom and Dad, thanks for teaching me to budget! It's really nice having money when everyone else doesn't because I budget mine. Last crazy thing - my companion's brother was called as a bishop! The weird part? He's almost a year younger than Craig! I tried imagining Craig as a bishop and I couldn't do it. That just seemed crazy to me. Hope you all have a great week!


Tucuman - June 24th

Hey my wonderful amazing beloved family!
I just want to say how cool you guys are. I love getting letters from every single one of you in a week. It just makes my Monday a million times better!
Anyway, yes, I saw the conference. It was interesting - no one showed up to open the stake center until five to the hour, and we got the picture and sound up and running around seven ten our time (ten minutes after it started). We missed most of what Elder Holland said. I was so glad to speak English, because they couldn't get the language changed until about 7:20. Such great messages! For now, we're not going to be seeing any changes here in Salta, but it'll happen in the next few months or years.
I got a hair cut this week! It was fantastic. There´s a member here that has a salon with all the toys, and she cut it for free! That was really cool.
Our baptism this week didn't happen. I don't feel too sad. She needs a little more time to prepare, and I'm sure that she and her family will get baptized eventually. Her dad didn't want to give her permission. Her mom is all on board, even though she's never gone to church, because she's seen the changes in her 10-year-old daughter. It just made me think of how wonderful it is to have two parents who love each other and are on the same page.
I went on a division with Elder Ingalls from Evanston this week! Their apartment has the nickname of "The Bat Cave." There were parts that really looked like a cave. I should have taken a picture. The problem is that I hardly take my camera anywhere. I'll try to improve on that.
It's been really cold and rainy this week. I'm very grateful for all the cold weather gear I've got, but it looks like MAYBE it might be sunny now. Maybe. The weather changes here are worse than in Utah.
I had an adventure this week with a brand new Elder. We went on exchanges for a bit during the baptismal interview and we got a little lost. It was kinda fun to be Sr. Comp in the lessons we had, though. My Spanish really is coming along, and I have a testimony of the gift of tongues.
I heard a fun story this week from a convert we ate lunch with. I like to ask how they came to know the church. He said the missionaries came by, taught him, and he prayed to God for an answer. That night, he dreamed that he was sitting there at a big table, with him on one end, and God on the other. He shouted to the other side of the table, "God, is the church true?" And said that God gave him a thumbs up. So he decided to get baptized! I really know that God answers prayers. We may have to have a lot of patience, and we may not recognize the answer until much later, or maybe even never, but I know that he answers them. If we're in need of help, strength, or if we just don't feel very good, we can ask Him for help, and he will help us. Always.
I love you all a ton. Thanks for being a great family. Mom and dad, thanks for all the family nights and taking me to church and teaching me stuff in general. It's really coming in handy now that I'm teaching a bunch of kids. Some of which are really old kids, but I'm very grateful in every case for the instruction I received in my home.
I hope that you all have a great week!