Monday, November 7, 2016

Service on Service on Service

This week was good! As you can read in the title, we had a ton of service this week. Working a lot with wood, breaking it apart from these crates and stuff, and also we were digging up dirt and concrete with picks and shovels at the house of a member so that she can put in grass! 

We went to Rio Gallegos again for a Zone Meeting this week. It was pretty cool and the messages were focused a bit on unity within ourselves as missionaries, companions, and branches. As well as following the guide of the Holy Ghost in our lives! It was pretty cool, and I always learn a lot from them. Plus it's fun to see other missionaries...because otherwise we are just stuck in Calafate with us 4. It can get lonely at times . . . haha.

The branch this Sunday was packed!!! The most I have seen so far! I think there were like 50 or something. It was crazy because we only had like 20 last week. And something super cool happened! There were some tourists, just a guy and his wife, who came to Sacrament meeting! They were from Apine, Utah, and the guy served in Northern Argentina. Guess where? Yep! Resistencia! He got back in 2012 so he missed Christopher by a bit, but we were able to talk with them, and it was so weird to speak in English at church! 

I'm counting down the days until I can talk with you guys on Christmas! It will be so fun to see you guys again and talk for a bit. I'm working on my Spanish so I can impress you guys...but don't have any high expectations....I still can't understand people a decent amount of the time so....yeah.

I was reading in Joseph Smith History yesterday, and I received a strong witness when I was reading that his words are true! He saw God the Father and His son, Jesus Christ in a grove of trees. And he was directed to start this church. Following the teachings of Jesus Christ and our latter-day prophets are the only way to have true happiness, or rather, joy, in this life. How blessed we are to have the gospel in our lives!

I also want to let you guys know that I'm having a lot of fun now! I think I'm kind of getting over the slump you might say in the mission. I am having a lot more fun, I know I am here for the right reason, and the time is just starting to go by faster! I feel very blessed to be here, bringing others to Christ. Every day I get to focus on Jesus Christ! No other distractions. No school. No homework. Nothing. Just me, my companion, the Lord, and the spirit trying our best to invite others to Christ! Que grandioso es mi llamamiento!!!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween!

I realized that it is Halloween in the United States today! That's super fun! I wanna see pictures of everyone's costumes!

This week went well, and Elder Senz and I are getting along really well! He is from Cordoba. He is super chill! He can't speak English really, so we always speak Castellano. It helps me out a lot actually and I'm getting better slowly but surely. We got another noob in Calafate this week! Elder Nelson from Salt Lake is training Elder Revilla from Peru. They are the two elders in Calafate B, and Elder Senz and I have reigns over Calafate A. 

This week we had no investigators at church. I don't know what happened...usually we have like 3 or 4. Basically no one came to church actually...we had like 24 people this Sunday. That's one basically. So we were pretty discouraged and we realize that we have to work harder with the members! There is no point in baptizing new converts if the members are falling away or less active! Our job as missionaries is to bring people unto Christ. All people, including members, and if they happen to be sliding a bit from the iron rod, we need to bring them back before they are lost! So that is going to be our focus in the next couple of weeks! Obviously we will continue to work with our investigators. They have first priority, but the members are sooooo important as well!

Well, I was reading in the Pearl of Great Price this week, and I was reminded of how lucky we are to have these additional records of scripture! I believe that in the Bible, the only thing it says about Enoch is that he walked with God or something like that. But in the Pearl of Great Price we learn so much more! He saw The Lord and he was taught the entire plan of salvation! From these additional records we have so much more knowledge and security about this life! I am just so grateful for this church and all of the many blessings we receive from it!

Also this week we did companion study on chapter 5 in Preach my Gospel. Focusing on the BoM as a tool! We know that our two most powerful tools in converting people is the Book of Mormon and the Holy Spirit! Through these things, an investigator can gain a testimony of Jesus Christ and commit to following Him through the necessary ordinances such as baptism and the reception of the Gift of the Holy Ghost! I am so grateful for the Book of Mormon and the power it has. It truly is the most correct book on the Earth, and we can truly come closer to Christ by abiding by its precepts! 

I love this opportunity I have to be a missionary!!! It is tough, pero vale la pena! (but, it's worth it!) I hope the Lord will continue to bless me, my companion, and all of my family as I work my hardest here!

Monday, October 24, 2016

4 Months Completed!

This week was probably the best week of the mission so far! 

Let's see...where do I even start? I guess I will begin with transfers. Big news! I am staying in Calafate, but I am getting a new comp! So Elder Araujo has been called to serve in Puerto Madryn up north as a District Leader. I now am going to get Elder Senz from Argentina. I am actually super excited about this because I have heard that he is really cool and super chill. So we should get along well. But the main thing is that he speaks Argentine Spanish!!! I am so excited because I feel like this is my opportunity to really improve my Spanish. And I'm definitely going to try to make the most of our time together! 

This week we also had interviews with the Mission President! It was a nice reminder to make sure I am doing all the things I should be doing in order to have the spirit with me at all times when we are finding, contacting, and teaching. 

I believe I mentioned Cesar in a previous email right? But we have these two brothers now as investigators. Friends of a recent convert whose name is José Tito. He brought them to church two weeks ago I believe, and we have met with them twice already with him to teach! They also came to the Family Home Evening on Monday night at the church when President Salerno was here. It was focused on the Restoration and the First Vision. Cesar said that he felt really good watching it, and President clarified that was the spirit! The following lesson we had with them they committed to a fecha for November! So that is really exciting!

We also went to the Glacier Perito Moreno. It is one of the largest glaciers in the world and it is only like an hour bus ride from our area! We went with a group of like 11 missionaries, and it was so fun. Highlight of the mission so far.....because I haven't baptized yet of course. It was truly truly the most beautiful thing I have ever seen, and I tried to take some cool photos. It was a great reminder that God created this world for us to enjoy and be happy, and I am so grateful for that!!

We were shopping in Centro the night we got back from the glacier with the other elders that were visiting, and we went into a certain little shop. We walked in and began to browse a bit. The lady at the counter asked us: "Ustedes son de una iglesia? (Are you guys from a church) or something like that. We said we were from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormons. She said that she was looking for us!! We were like...what? Haha. She said that her boyfriend said that the only church he will go to is the Mormon church. We talked to her more and we set a cita to meet up with her next week on Tuesday with her boyfriend I believe. That was a miracle to find her. And I have found that talking to employees in stores is actually one of the easiest ways to talk to people about the gospel! We had a conversation the other day with a man for about 25 minutes about the gospel in his own store! I believe that we have a lot of blessings in store for Calafate!

Whenever someone accepts the invitation to be baptized or to even meet with us in the first place, I am filled with so much joy. It is that happiness and joy that drives me each and every day. Hoping that I can find at least one person that day that I can bring closer to Christ! I know that you guys can all have those feelings too, as you invite your friends or even strangers! I promise that this is the work of the Lord and we are all missionaries in our hearts!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Tramites y Conferencia de Distrito

This week was interesting to say the least. First off, I was on a bus for over 40 hours. 16 to Comodoro, 16 back to Calafate. Then about 4 to Rio Gallegos for District Conference, and about 4 back. But hey, at least I'm not going to be illegal now! 

So, I slept in my own bed twice this week. And we were only in my area for one day. Needless to say it is hard to help your investigators progress when you are not able to meet with them.

However, the one day that we were here and actually were able to work, we met with a man who is a friend of a recent convert. He was brought to church last week along with his friend. So we passed by him, and taught him Lesson One and gave him a Book of Mormon, and he mentioned that baptism would be something that he would be interested in. He mentioned that himself, so, that's pretty awesome. He seems really cool. We will continue to pass by him obviously this week, and I'm excited to finally have a week without traveling much.

On Friday, in Rio Gallegos, I was able to play basketball for the first time in a while, so that was fun! The basket is only like 8 feet tall, so I was dunking on everyone...haha it was pretty sweet.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Don't Worry!

Hey! Sorry for the late email! (Hopefully you weren't too worried mom.) Today is pretty weird, and I am writing again in a janky internet cafe in Rio Gallegos! I took a bus from Calafate this morning at 11:30 and arrived at Rio Gallegos around 4. Tonight, I'm gonna take a bus with some of the other kids that arrived in my group to Comodoro (12 hour bus ride) so that we can do our tremites. I actually don't know how to spell that, but basically it's the legal documentation so that we aren't illegal here in Argentina! We will do that in the mission office tomorrow and then come back. So in the next two days...I have about 26 hours of bus rides....pretty crazy. 

My Spanish is actually coming along pretty well. I can communicate decently well, and I can understand a good amount of what people say. So that's good. My Spanish is better than most of the others that came in my group so I guess I take a little pride in that. I'm trying really hard! I hope that by the time I get to Skype call at Christmas, I can speak a decent amount. I hope I can have a conversation with Jeff!

Anyways...apparently I'm better at soccer than I thought...because when we played here in this junky indoor facility place, I was actually better than most of the Latins! I scored like 6 goals so that was pretty cool! It was awesome to finally exercise again. I miss playing basketball everyday like I used to do at home. But yeah, it was fun to play soccer! I'm gonna try and buy some "remeras" or jerseys for myself when I go to Comodoro. They are cheaper there than in Calafate, I hopefully will be able to buy some for some people back home! 

After we returned from Rio Gallegos from Conference, we worked in our area for like two days, then had to drive back for Zone Meeting. And then we went back to work in Calafate. And now I'm back for Tremites! So I am literally spending so much time on buses here! It's insane. 

The work in Calafate continues to be slow, but it's okay. It's hard to teach when we are never even in our area.....haha. I hope the work will speed up as we have more time there! We did find three new investigators this week though, so that was cool. 

Here are some pics from when our power went out but continued to make banana bread in the dark with our flashlights! 

Monday, October 3, 2016

General Conference in Rio Gallegos!

I am currently in Rio Gallegos right now in a ciber, or an internet cafe. It's kinda cool, but the computers are so janky. 

Today for P-day we are going to play fùtbol after we finish up writing, so I didn't get a chance to play basketball, but oh well. Soccer is alright I suppose!

General Conference this weekend was amazing, and by far the most powerful I've ever experienced. Watching with a new eye as a missionary made it so powerful. Every word, sentence, and testimony was stretched in my mind and broken apart as to how I can apply it to myself and my investigators, and how I can be a more powerful missionary. Here are my highlights from conference, and things that I took from it. 

- When I pray, do I really pray? Do I feel a real connection to the heavens? Or am I using insincere, vain repetitions?
- It is not possible to fall lower than the everlasting reach of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
- "Faith, Focus, Strong Ambition for Christ"
- If we are ambitious in Christ, we can feel joy even in the midst of our trials.
- When the Lord calls, will I hear?
-As missionaries, we bring JOY to the people of the world.
- Joy comes from living a Christ centered life.
- What can I do better this week to prepare myself for the sacrament?
- Do we know the Savior? Or do we only know "about" Him?
- Repentance is not a back-up plan in case out plan to live perfectly fails! It's a daily process of self-evaluation and improvement!
- When we are on the Lord's errand, we are entitled to His help. 
- Believing in Christ is more than just believing in Him. It's believing that His blessings can come into your personal life. For example, I know that God answers prayers. But do I believe and have faith enough that he answers MY prayers? Does the Atonement reach far enough to erase MY sins? 

Those are some of the many things I got from General Conference, and I hope that all you guys will make a change in your life in some way to get to know our Savior more. Not just know about Him, but get to know Him at a personal level, and how we can receive the blessings that he has promised us, for if we live worthy of them, we are truly entitled to them, if we have faith enough.

Here are some pics from General Conference. All of the gringos got to watch it in English in a tiny room!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Three Months Done!

With the passing of the 22nd of September, I have officially completed three months as a missionary, and I am still alive and well!! I would consider that a success of rather epic proportions if I might say so myself.

As far as my hair goes, (I heard Mom was saying it was long) my companion actually does have a clipper, and I cut the sides this week but frankly I am afraid to cut the top! But I'll have to soon, so be prepared for a wonderfully terrible haircut in a matter of just a few weeks! hahaha

We did have our first baptism this week!!! Zoe (9) is on the left, Adasa (8) in the middle, and Branch President Ortiyada on the right. And their mother on the left. It was so special to see those two little girls baptized and confirmed this week. As they rose out of the water, there was the greatest feeling of peace and tranquility which can only come from the presence of the Holy Spirit. So powerful!! I know we are performing sacred, saving ordinances by the authority of Jesus Christ!! I was filled with feelings of gratitude, joy, and peace, as I heard the words, "Habiendo sido comisionado por Jesucristo, yo te bautizo en el nombre del Padre, y del Hijo, y del Espíritu Santo, amen." I hope we can bring many others to the waters of baptism!!

So, as you can see, our font is a plastic tub. Well, we don't have the piece that connects the tub to the hose to drain it. So after the baptism we had to drain it and clean it in preparation for the next baptism that we might have. So there is currently an inch of water on the floor of that room, which is actually just the "kitchen" in the church, with water still coming from the tub. Our plan is to let it continue to leak, and just crank the heat in there until the water evaporates . . . #problemsolvers. Haha, so yeah. Super classic. Super Argentine.

We are probably going to to Rio Gallegos to watch General Conference this weekend. I still don't know if I will be able to watch it in English or casellano. I will be fine either way, hopefully. Also, there is a gymnasium in the capilla there, and I think we are going to stay for P-day too, so that's awesome. I might actually get to play basketball for the first time in forever . . . #frozen.

This is a picture of the coletivo, (the buses we take to travel from city to city). As you can see, they are very nice!

It appears I have frightened you with my stories of lack of lunches from members! Don't worry!! I'm fine, I am not starving at fact I think I am gaining weight! So don't worry. I am in no manner starving here in Argentina!!

I finished the Book of Mormon this week, and I am now going to start studying it in Spanish! I'm excited for that, and I also wanted to share one thought that I had while reading in the last chapter of Moroni. Moroni 10, verse 32. The invitation is simple, yet powerful. Perhaps, some of the most powerful words I could utter as a missionary of God. It reads, "Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him". In these the last writings of Moroni before concluding his record, he admonishes us to simply "come unto Christ," for it is through Christ, our Savior and Redeemer, that we are made perfect, made clean, made pure; scooped up in the arms of the Good Shepherd, whose infinite mercy satisfies the demands of justice so that we may stand before the judgement bar of God without spot and without blemish. How grateful I am to know that I am loved by Jesus Christ. That we all are. Loved so much that He took upon himself the imperfections and the stains of the world, so that we may be saved. So that we may attain eternal life with our Father in Heaven! I love this message of hope and joy. I desire only to be a tool in the hand of God here in the Patagonia, to help others do as Moroni exhorts: come unto Christ. 

Monday, September 19, 2016

1st Week of Transfer 2 in Calafate

First off, I want to start by saying that I read Hannah's email, and I'm glad to hear that she is being fed well in Colorado! Meanwhile over here in Argentina...we get one lunch a week from members and I currently have 150 pesos to last about 11 days . . . which is basically nothing. But don't worry! My companion and I have mastered Fideos con Tuco. In fact, that's all we eat. Every day. But don't feel bad because it's actually really good! Oh, and about how we basically have no money left...probably because we spend all of it on ingredients to make banana bread and brownies . . . The banana bread is heavenly . . . however, the brownies are straight doggie doodoo. We have tried twice without success.

Also, a member fed us lunch (a rare event) after some service in the morning. And apparently he served liver...and I ate it for the first time. I didn't know what it was because he said it in Spanish, even though I could kinda tell from the look of it, but I gave it the benefit of the doubt and ate it. It actually wasn't that bad, but let's just say that I can live without that taste hitting my tongue again. 

We received Elder Cortes this week since Elder Quintanilla left. Elder Cortes is Chileno and he is actually 27! He decided to serve after a recent reactivation, so that's super cool. He has about 7 more months. He is our district leader now. 

We learned a couple of days ago that we are going to have a competition within our zone based on our work efforts. (contacts, fechas, lessons, baptisms...) So that should be fun, and provide a fun incentive to build the Kingdom of God even further. 

Our investigators are progressing slowly but surely, well some of them. It's super hard to find them. Some we can only talk to on weekends, and then when they aren't home, we can't find them for another week because so many of them work all week. It's pretty lame, not gonna lie, but we need to just keep having faith!!! Haha, that's always the key. Faith. 

But we do have some solid ones. In fact, we have 4 fechas right now, and we are going to baptize two little girls this Saturday. So that's exciting! My first baptism! I don't know who is going to perform the ordinance yet, but we'll see. Hopefully I can perform one of the baptisms at least!

Oh, and remember that cool experience I had with Maria last week where I bore my testimony to her and felt the spirit so strong? Well, she texted us and said that we cannot visit her any more... I think because her boyfriend/husband doesn't want us to or something like that. Huge bummer.

This dog's name is Devin Jay! He always chills in our neighborhood and pretty much always greets us with a smile when we come back from a long day's work! Haha he is so cute!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Transfer 1 in Calafate Completed!

Well, I have officially completed my first transfer in Calafate, and to tell the was sooo long. Haha, it seems like I have been here for months...even though I still can't speak the language. I am enjoying it though, but let's just say each day is pretty long still. But I feel like this transfer will fly by since we have a ton of people to teach now. We worked really hard finding people last transfer, and now this will be the transfer of teaching and baptisms! hopefully...

So we had another zone meeting in Rio Gallegos where we figured out transfers. I will be remaining here with Elder Araujo for at least another transfer to finish my training, and actually it's likely that I stay here for 4 transfers (6 months), so I could be here for a while. Which I would enjoy actually, because I would like the people that I have met here to see my progression in the language! I think that would be pretty neat!

Elder Quintanilla from the other companionship is leaving to be a Zone Leader in Trelew. Elder Cortez is coming here. I've never met him, but I've heard he's pretty cool!

So you know how I said last transfer was a transfer of finding? Well, to prove it to you, we had 2 investigators when I got here. Now, we have 22! We were finding and contacting like crazy, which resulted in a lot of happiness when someone accepted, but also a lot of discouragement, because just imagine how many "No"s we received to get those 22....I'll help you out...a ton. So yeah, I'm glad we have a solid base of investigators to teach now!

We found a lot of new people this week, and we went crazy teaching them last night since we got back from Rio Gallegos Sunday morning at 1 am. We had six straight lessons, each for about 30 minutes. Which was crazy because people normally aren't home too often, but that was cool to have 6 of our investigators/future investigators home! 

Something super cool happened during one of those lessons. It was with a woman named Martha. She is probably around early 30's in age. We had knocked her door earlier last week, like Wednesday or something, and she said come back on the weekend. (That all happened at the door, so yesterday was the first time we were in her home). As we began to talk with her, she did not seem interested at all. In fact, she said that she didn't like religion. She had no opinions on God and didn't want to talk much, but we knew she had to be a little interested if she let us in. So we continued to talk and ask questions. It was by far the most awkward conversation/lesson I'd been in so far, and it was just strange. But as we asked a bit about religion in her life, we noticed that she was rubbing her eyes, and it seemed like she was almost crying. We had given her the Restoration pamphlet, and she was flipping through that. When I noticed that something might be making her emotional, I just went for it and bore my testimony. I bore testimony of God's love for her, His plan for families in this life, and the happiness that comes from the Gospel, and why I chose to leave my family for two years to talk with people like her. To share what we know. She began to cry super hard. Tears were falling from her face, and we still don't know what or why, but something hit her hard, and we believe that the Holy Spirit was testifying to her that we were representatives of Christ, there to help her. We are going back on Tuesday, and we hope that she will open up to us and tell us what is going on in her life so that we can help her! It's crazy how you can love someone so fast, but I already want her to feel the love of her Father in Heaven, and for her to know her individual worth in the eyes of God. Missionary work is pretty cool man. Definitely my most spiritual experience thus far on the mission. 

Even though not much can top that little story from yesterday, following that lesson we also put a fecha with Damian for the 8th of October. We now have three fechas, and we hope those will all come to pass!

Banana Bread, aka "Heaven":

The best ice cream: