Monday, October 28, 2013

Tucuman - October 28th

Hello Family!
It's always so nice to get a letter from everyone! Thanks all!
Mom, Halloween here is a couple of people hanging their cheap plastic skeletons, a few stores putting up signs saying "HALLOWEEN" and nobody understanding what the heck it is. So... It's pretty basic. Don't worry - I'll celebrate it. I'll buy some candy today and eat it right before our interviews with President on Thursday. 
I did divisions up in Lomas this past week. It was interesting because I went there a few times when it still belonged to us, but this time we went a little further. We went to visit a contact named Marcos I'd made about two months ago, and he started talking to us. I recognized the house, the guy, the dog, everything. Plus he seemed to remember me, too. I did the prayer at the end, asking blessings for Marcos and all his family. We asked if he had any questions before we left and he said, "Just one. Who's Marcos? Is that like some kind of special chosen one or an angel that you include in your prayers or something?" Oops. Sorry Carlos. His house was identical to the house two doors down, and he just happened to have talked to missionaries in the park a couple weeks ago. Still, interesting guy!
We've been visiting a lot two girls named Romina and Ibeth (around 10 and 9). Their parents didn't let them get baptized before because their brothers are all baptized and none of them goes to church. A lot of their extended family is active. We decided that the best way to go is to just get a testimony in the two of them and let them do the parental convincing. It worked! The teaching was really boring at first, but then we started throwing in games, like "Simon Says" to teach obedience, fun signs for the ten commandments, and "Don't Eat Pete" tithing version to teach that. It was great to hear everyone yell every once in a while, "PAY YOUR TITHING!" when the person was about to pick up the coin we'd picked. Their aunt said that they were bugging their parents all week, and when their parents quizzed them, they could answer the questions. It was great! We're really excited for the baptism. Thanks for my history of good Family Home Evenings!
We've been working a lot with Miguel, too. As the week went on, he went on gaining a testimony. Then on Friday, after reading Alma 22-24, he said that he believed in God for sure, but still wasn't sure about Joseph Smith. We taught the restoration again, talking a lot about the Book of Mormon and how it is evidence. After hearing the history of the plates and stuff, he said, "This is going to be really hard for me to believe. Now I'm doubting." Even so, I know that if he keeps reading, all doubt will be lost. I love that book. It's so much easier to do this work with a god-sent piece of evidence.
We helped move a ton of dirt! It was good to get some hard work in there for a bit.
My comp got to give a surprise talk on Sunday. That was fun. It was great to see just how much the people paid attention to him, and the gift of tongues in action.
During one of my comp studies this week we talked a lot about promising blessings when we commit people to do stuff and I realized just how many blessings can be received from living the gospel. It really is incredible how every aspect of our lives can be improved.
Anyway, I hope you all have a wonderful week!


Monday, October 21, 2013

Tucuman - October 23rd

It rained a lot this week.
We had a zone training where we talked a lot about the Book of Mormon and played foosball to show the importance of working together with members.
The part that hit me the most is when a sister - a convert - shared her testimony of the Book of Mormon. The missionaries showed up when she had a brain disease. She couldn't comprehend what she read or what people said to her, but she tried reading the Book of Mormon anyway. She said that she couldn't remember anything she read, nor did she know what it was talking about, but every time she read she felt peace, joy, and the love of God with such intensity that it was undeniable. I realized that really the only thing that matters is the spiritual witness of the Book of Mormon. Even Alma only got his testimony after fasting and praying, despite the fact that he'd repented after seeing an angel some time before (Alma 5:40ish). If your testimony isn't based on the Holy Ghost, it will not endure. If you feel like you haven't received that answer, you don't have the real intent. If you feel like you have the intent and you still don't receive an answer, be patient, and step up your game. The answers come. I know it. Because they've come for me time and time again, especially when I have doubts.
Miguel Tula is a guy we found months ago that didn't believe in God. He's the 19-year-old brother of a member. He's been going to church a lot. The first few times he didn't stick around because he "Had stuff to do" and when we pried for information, he admitted that he just didn't like it in the church. Even so, he kept going. And he reads like a madman. He says he believes in God now. We're having a lot of one eighties lately!
Celebration of a year!
Another of the year mark.
Secco Traditional. It's a hard-to-find soda.
We celebrated with candles and muffins the one year marker for me and Elder Espinosa! Thanks for the candles!
Lucas is just really cool. He admitted that the first time he went to church, he thought that he'd never come back. Now, when he had to miss church for a family party his parents forced him to, he said he really just felt bad and wanted so much to just be in church. Plus he's been going out to visit people with us. When we came out of a lesson with a really distressed, lonely lady, he told us to ask her when he could come by again, if only to keep her company. I just love the change that's happened with him. It's incredible.
I had an interview for baptism with a lady this week for my first time. She's read the Bible in Hebrew and said that when she found the church, it was like finding the fulfilling of the prophecies of everything she read. What threw me for a loop is when I asked if she had any questions and she started rattling off some questions about the different tribes and the Lord's covenant with the Israelites.
We talked to a drunk bible scholar. The guy lives in the street, but yet he has a huge store of scripture references memorized and at his command. It inspired me! Not to be a drunk, but to memorize more scriptures.
We went to Villa Carmela! It's a part of our area two buses away that I've only heard legends about for the past five months.
Waiting at the bus stop.
The bus seemed to take forever to get there, but it finally came! We talked to members that hadn't had contact with the church for from 13 to 20 years. It was nuts! We also had a lesson with someone that hadn't found the truth only because she knew not where to find it. We gave her a card about the Book of Mormon and figured we'd come back another time when we weren't in the street to teach a little bit more, but she just started asking question after question that we just taught her the restoration in the street! The look in her eyes was so cool! I'm excited to go back.
Well, that was my really cool week. I hope yours was equally as awesome. And that your scripture study is going well!
Love you all!


Monday, October 14, 2013

Tucuman - October 14th

Hello Family!
This week has been kinda nuts. The land lady took issue to the fact that there are four of us in our apartment now, but legally her hands are tied. Even so, it's been kinda crazy talking to her all week. At least she's finally coming to terms with the fact that we're not leaving any time soon. We're still lacking in furniture, and that's been different, but it's been a good lesson on patience and putting the needs of others first. The great thing is that everyone understands the situation and is being really nice about it. And today we should be getting the furniture we need. Woohoo!
Having the other Elders in the apartment has definitely been different, but it's been a blast! Elder Espinosa is from Colombia, and Elder Rengifo is from Peru. It's fun having latinos around to help us understand more spanish! They're really cool Elders and hard workers.
Lucas's baptism!

Another of the baptism. Bishop's on the right.
So Lucas finally got baptized! Ah! That had to have been one of the happiest days of my mission. Out of no where his schedule started getting complicated. Before, we never had issues with that. Just goes to show that when we finally get close to the truth, Satan steps up his game. On Thursday, a couple hours after he passed his interview, he sent a message saying that he didn't want to get baptized this week. We were worrying about it all day until we finally got to visit him. Turns out there was a problem in High School about people getting invited to the baptism that he didn't want there. Luckily the gospel is much more powerful than teenage drama! The water for the baptism was freezing cold, but Lucas took it really well. After coming out of the water, he said, "That was sweet! Let's do it again!" Then elegantly doggy-paddled out of the font. Ah... It's so nice that he's FINALLY a member. He's been going with us to visit people for months now. Now he can go and share his newfound testimony as well!
So I'm remembering now how much time it took to be district leader. I'm thinking back to my days with Elder Sant when we never ever got to bed on time. It's more responsibility, but with that comes an added help from the Lord.
We had a cool miracle. We got a reference, but every once in a while the streets here are terrible in their numbering. We looked around and asked around, and people said, "Nope, nobody around here. You could try on the other side of this freaky looking canal. They might live over there." So we decided to try it. However, it was not easy to find a way over the freaky looking canal that Elder Lyman dubbed "something like the river from Lehi's dream - Tucumán style." Then we asked a lady and she said, "Hey! The lady you're looking for is my cousin! I'll show you how to get over." As we approached the bridge that I had no clue existed, a kid came riding over on his bike. She called to him. Turns out the kid was the son of the reference. He took us through the dark directly to the house that I'm sure we never would have found otherwise, and the whole family accepted the invitation to be baptized. How did we stumble upon her cousin? How is it that the kid crossed the bridge just in that moment? God knows who's ready for the gospel, and he's willing to guide us there if we let him.
Anyway, that was one of the cooler, although definitely not the only miracle of the week. This work is the best. I hope you're all having a great time participating in your own ways in the work of the Lord. I love you guys a ton!


Monday, October 7, 2013

Tucuman - October 7th

Dear Family,
The internet in northern Argentina went down last Monday from the morning until around 6:00 - just the time when we start proselyting. They posted a message about it on facebook and reassured all the parents that their kids would write next week. I heard they also sent a letter, but it sounds like it didn't make it to you. Either way, I'm just fine! Better than ever, in fact. And there's LOTS to say!
Dad, I'm glad to hear you went to the priesthood session. There are a lot of members here that just watch it on the computer, but it's just not the same as going there in a large body of believers and priesthood holders to put ourselves in a spiritually conducive place. I loved the talk that the first lady gave in conference. It's those kind of women that understand the plan of salvation, and are just really cool. Like mom. Nice job on picking a wife, by the way. I was thinking about your awesome marriage during a lot of conference.
So... Lots of changes. I'm staying right here in Villa Muñecas for this next transfer. But I'm gonna be district leader of us, another companionship that's coming in to share our apartment, the zone leaders, and another companionship that's going in to share their apartment. It'll be fun!
LUCAS IS GETTING BAPTIZED THIS NEXT WEEK! We were sitting there during Bednar's talk and we got a text. "Elders, if you have time, come by my house. I've got some questions about baptism I want to ask before making the decision." I started teaching him my first week here, and he's gone to church almost every Sunday since then, but never wanted to get baptized and never had parental persmission. Well, now he's 18. So we went up, he asked what baptism is, and we told him. He said that he was thinking about the 22 of November, but decided he wanted to do it sooner. So we're gonna do it on Saturday. Woohoo!
Package! And my cool agenda with Caitlin art.
The package was great. I'm loving the music. Hopefully our neighbors haven't been bugged by my EFY. I had a slight scare when I plugged it into the cyber to get the songs organized a bit and the pendrive stopped working, but luckily I got it all copied first! Also, I'm newly addicted to tootsie rolls. I already finished a bag.
I talked to a Californian Jdub in the street the other day! So weird to hear a non-member speak English. The first time I've heard God's name taken in vain in English in a long time. It was a really fun conversation, though!
This week while watching Special Witnesses of Jesus Christ, conference, and studying conference, I gained a new appreciation of prophets. They really are so crucial. I took our mission president's challenge to be completely focused during conference, and not eat, draw, or have other distractions during conference. I had such an amazing experience. I felt... I dunno. It was a powerful spiritual feeling that wasn't quite the same as what I'm used to. It was much more peaceful than I remember feeling normally. With all the stress on the mission, it was very welcome. I just love prophets. I know they really are special witnesses of Him. I don't completely comprehend what that means, but I sure know that the word "special" is much deeper than it looks. I'm really started to realize the value of the church magazines now.
Between sessions we were encouraged to look for people to invite if we couldn't go back to work in our areas from the stake center. We missed the bus right before priesthood session, so we were stuck in the stake area. We looked all over, but there was no one to be found. I did a silent prayer begging for someone to talk to. And from that moment on, there were people running into us up until conference started. It's like they said in conference: if you want missionary opportunities, all ya gotta do is pray.
There was a lot of cool stuff that happened last week, also. We had zone conference where they talked a lot about repentance. Plus I tried to fix the sink after my success with the bed. Bad idea. Things are working now, and it's much cleaner, but I lost about 3 hours and it still drains at turtle speed. Oh well. Worth a shot!
The old district.
There is so much more I want to tell you guys about, but I don't want to make this letter TOO long. Let me just say that I'm still seeing miracles daily. This work is impossible without depending on the Lord. From DVDs that just happen to start working in Spanish, even though they're based in English, to running into people just when they're wondering why there are so many different doctrines, to people testifying of how the Elders stopped a demon haunting, to running into people in the street you thought you'd never see again, to phones starting to work without issues after dropping them in water, to members becoming available just when you need them to come with you, to a taxi driver who offers you a free ride when you're in a hurry, to kids recognizing you and telling you to come meet their families, the miracles of the Lord happen every day in his service. I love you guys so much, and I'm so grateful for your support, your testimonies, and your examples. Thanks for your patience for the letter. Until next week!