Monday, August 29, 2016

Conferencia con Presidente in Rio Gallegos

This week was pretty crazy. We only had one regular day. All the others were full of meetings, conferences, and bus rides. I was on a bus for over 16 hours this week! The mission areas are so far away here! It's crazy, but luckily the buses are actually really nice.

So yeah, Monday we rode to Rio Gallegos, which is about 4 hours away. We stayed with Elders Texeira and Crawford for the night. 

And then had conferencia con Presidente on Tuesday. It was really good to hear from them again, and hear their expectations from us as missionaries. The talks were all based on "how to be a Preach My Gospel missionary" and how to use the manual to become more effective missionaries as we strive to teach repentance and baptize converts. It is always good to hear talks like that because it motivates me to be more obedient and do more! We drove back from the conference on Tuesday night.

Then on Thursday, we drove to 28 de Noviembre (that is the name of the city)....another 4 hour bus ride...for Zone Conference. Our zone is called Cordillera, but our zone is actually going to dissolve after this transfer, so that is super sad! There are only 8 missionaries in our zone right now, and I love all of them!! It's a super cool zone, but now we have to combine with Rio Gallegos. We called Cordillera the Bro Zone, because an hermana has never served in this zone! So that was kinda funny, but the Bro Zone is no more after this transfer...

In Zone Conference, we have talks from the missionaries and make some goals for the following month. Our goal next month is to have 20 baptisms as a zone of 8 missionaries. We'll see how that goes! Oh, and we had 0 baptisms this that is quite the improvement, but I have faith that we can do it!! We drove back that night (Friday) and arrived at 2 am at our pension...I was so tired.

So yeah, we didn't have a chance to have many lessons or contact too many people this week, but it was cool. We did have one miracle this week though, and I think that it's the coolest thing that has happened to us so far. We were contacting on Saturday night after our appointment with Sebastian was canceled because he was sick. We decided to contact over there, and we said a prayer before we contacted, which we honestly hadn't done in a long time, even thought we are supposed to every time. So we were just trying to get 7 contacts to reach 50 for the week, and on our 7th contact, this man comes out. His one year old boy is at the door, and we talk to him for a bit asking him how many kids he has and stuff.  And he invites us in, which does not happen a lot. We are talking, and he tells us that he has done a lot of bad stuff in the past, and he has recently separated with his wife. He now has these two kids and he wants to change. He wants to be a better person, and we share of course that we know that the gospel of Jesus Christ can change his life and turn him into the person he wants to be. We invited him to church the next morning, and he committed to come, and he actually did come on Sunday!! He is already friends with another member, and they were talking a lot and he seemed to really like the meeting!! SO that was really cool. I believe that God had prepared Damian to receive us, and he had prepared us to find him! Some other cool details about that is that he works every day during the week, so the only time that we could have run into him was on Sunday or Saturday night! And we did. I just thought that was cool! Also, I want to emphasize the power of prayer. I believe that we were blessed because we prayed right before that contacting session, asking Heavenly Father to guide us to those whom he had prepared, and I believe that the Lord heard and answered our prayer!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Fastest Week Ever!

This week went by really fast. Not sure why exactly, but it seemed to fly by! So I had my first Asado this week. An Asado is basically just a bbq with a ton of chicken and beef! Haha. It was at la capilla (the chapel), and it was put on by José Tito, a recent convert. His sister (a non member) just got married, and they celebrated with an Asado! So we were invited! So yeah, that was really cool and really good! 

We are taking a bus to Rio Gallegos for una conferencia con el presidente today. So it was a little bit different than usual, and I had to bring my sleeping bag and stuff.

The weather was pretty good this week. It wasn't too cold. Except for one day, in which it snowed! It was actually really fun though. Plus, this dog, which you can see in the pictures, just followed us around for like 4 hours that night and then tried to sleep in our pension (apartment) with us! We were like what the heck! It finally left, but it was fun to have, until it got our pension walkway all dirty....

Also, we had a lesson with a Jehovah's Witness who claimed to just want to learn more about the Mormons and our beliefs, even though it seemed like she was trying to convince us otherwise....little does she know we are literally thousands of miles from home preaching...and we won't be swayed by some lady who doesn't think Jehovah is Jesus Christ.... And that brings me to what the lesson was about! She couldn't wrap her head around the idea that Jehovah is Jesus Christ. They believe Jehovah is God the Father, and Jesus was just a prophet. Anyways, Elder Araujo, my comp, basically just schooled her with the Bible, haha, but she was still not understanding much. Maybe because she doesn't have the Holy Ghost. We are going back next week, so that should be fun. I shared this because I'm just so thankful to be able to have two testaments of Jesus Christ, the Book of Mormon and the Bible, each supporting each other and testifying of Jehovah, as Jesus the Christ. How lucky are we to have this knowledge!

We also taught Leonardo yesterday. He is someone we found contacting! It was our second lesson with him, and we taught a ton of stuff. He has a nice little family, and he believes in the bible, and was also receptive to pretty much all of our teachings. He is super awesome! I will continue to update on him as we teach him more. 

I know I've been called here for a reason. I know that as I work hard and knock doors and talk to people in my broken Spanish, I'll be able to connect with someone, and that one person will come closer to Christ! And that is why I'm here. I always try to remind myself that I'm not here for myself. I'm here for Him, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I'm here for them, the people of Argentina. I love the opportunity I have to be here! 

Monday, August 15, 2016

First full week in Calafate!

First things first, the food is actually good! I like it a lot luckily. It's mostly pasta and chicken and stuff. Granted, we don't have many members here so we've only had like two meals with members. We make our own lunch every day which is pretty much always pasta with meat sauce, but I actually really like it! So yeah. The food is awesome. 

We bought this ice cream last week, and it was sooo good. Haha. 

It was really nice to come home during the week to some super good ice cream...even though it's freezing every day. I'm getting more used to it though, and I basically only wear my big coat at night when the sun goes down. But yeah, luckily I have nice winter clothing otherwise I'd be chapped...and this isn't even the coldest area! 

We've been tracting a lot this week, just trying to find new investigators because we basically only have three. It's pretty tough walking around in the freezing cold and in the dark (the sun goes down at like 6) for hours just knocking doors and people saying "I'm busy" or "Pasan un otro momento" even though we can see the Olympics on the TV in their house...So yeah it's basically super classic. Haha. But yeah, it's hard to find new people, and I've learned that this is one of the hardest areas to teach. 

When we find someone who actually is receptive to us and allows us to pass by another time we are so happy and it gives us motivation, but that is only like 1 out of every 50 doors. 

We committed our investigator named Sebastian to a baptismal date! It's about a month from now! So that's cool. He has some doubts, but he just moved into a house a lot closer to us, and he likes meeting with us. So that's really cool for us. 

We also found another family this week. La familia de Leonardo. They are Christian but don't go to a particular church. We taught about the restoration and the first vision, and he mentioned how he already quit smoking and is almost done with drinking. And we haven't even mentioned the word of wisdom yet! So that was exciting also.

We don't have many, but the investigators that we do have are awesome!

Saturday mornings at the church we offer English classes. Calafate is a big tourist town so a lot of people here actually do have a desire to learn English so they can speak a bit of English with all the tourists. So far not many have come, but we think more will start coming, and it actually helps me learn Spanish as I teach English!

I am so happy because of this church and this gospel! I know that keeping the commandments of God is the way to eternal happiness. It's true. The scriptures are true, the church is true. Everything is true. Otherwise I wouldn't be walking around in Argentina in the dark and in the freezing cold knocking doors with a Brazilian companion while a ton of stray dogs are trying to murder me. I love this church. I love this gospel. I love this work. I love my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Some pics of our apartment:

Monday, August 8, 2016

Arriving in Argentina!!

So I arrived in Buenos Aires on Tuesday, August 2nd, in the afternoon. Then we flew to Comodoro Rivadavia that night on "Aerolineas Argentinas." 

In Comodoro Rivadavia, we met the mission president, President Claudio Salerno, and his wife, and had dinner at their place. 

We then were taken to different apartments with missionaries to sleep for the night. 

Wednesday is when I learned who my trainer was going to be. All the trainers and the noobs were there together in the main building which had the mission office and the capilla (chapel) in one building. So we were all in there, like 32 missionaries in total, and we were sitting in the chapel and we were assigned our companions. We were all sitting in the seats, and they had a projector on the wall where they would show the area first, the name of the trainer, and then the noob missionary.

The feeling I had then was pure nervousness and excitement. It was super crazy! All of the missionaries had their trainers there....except me. My companion is Elder Araujo from Sau Paulo, Brazil, and we were called to Calafate! Elder Araujo was in Buenos Aires that day doing some paperwork, so I didn't meet him until that night. But he is way cool! He speaks fluent English, and he doesn't even have much of an accent. So he is now fluent in Portuguese, Spanish, and English. 

But yeah, we met Wednesday night, and then we slept at the AP's place for the night. On Thursday, we waited in the mission office all day for our bus to come at like 9 pm to Rio Gallegos, and then on to Calafate. So I didn't get to Calafate until Friday afternoon! Needless to say, I was pretty tired. 

Calafate is one of the missions a little more south, so it's pretty cold at times. It is actually supposed to snow this week so that will be fun! It has a huge glacier here which I haven't gone to see yet, and it's kind of like a touristy town. There is a huge lake, Lago Argentino, right next to us that we can always see, and all these super cool mountains. 

All of the trainers were saying that I was super lucky to begin in Calafate since it's like the best area apparently. So yeah! I am one of four missionaries here. Just me and Elder Araujo, along with Elder Quintanilla from Peru and Elder Tiffany from North Carolina. But we each have our own pensions (apartments). So we don't live together. 

There are a ton of stray dogs here. Everywhere you look there are stray dogs. They are always barking. Well, actually, the stray ones are chill. They just kinda walk around and hang out. The ones that people own are annoying. They just bark all day long.

So down here, in all parts of my mission, they speak Castellano. It's just a different type of Spanish where they do like a "j" sound for y's and double l's. So capilla would be pronounced capija or capisha, kinda. It's a bit hard to explain. I'm honestly like decent at speaking, but I can hardly understand anything. People here speak sooo fast. But I just need to be patient I guess. 

We went tracting already and knocking doors for a bit on Saturday, but it hasn't been too effective. A lot of people aren't home a lot because they are always working in the tourism business or in shops during the day. Plus everyone takes a siesta here from 1-3 in the afternoon so the city just shuts down then. So it's pretty hard to find people. Plus, the branch is tiny. Only like 30 members, give or take, and apparently we don't get many referrals from them. This is gonna be interesting. But they do get baptisms here! So it's not like there is no hope! Haha

Sunday here was way cool. It's such a small branch, but it was all the same. Even all the way here in Argentina, it's the same. The church is true!! I had the opportunity to bless the sacrament in Spanish my first Sunday here! So that was awesome! The people are super nice, and I feel like I'm gonna like it here for sure!