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 EspĂ­ritu 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:

Monday, September 5, 2016

A Week of Fechas

The weeks are starting to go by faster, even though it still feels like I'm gonna be here forever! haha September 22nd will be three months, so I guess the time is moving, rather slowly at times it seems though.

This week was actually really cool. We tried to work hard, getting a lot of contacts while also working to teach a lot of lessons and put some baptismal dates. Oh, I said fechas in the title, and fecha just means date. So when I say we put a fecha, it means a baptismal date! This week flew by, and we actually put two fechas! One with Zoe, who is a 9 year old girl whose mother is a member of the church. Her date is for the 24th of September, and we are trying to teach her all the lessons by that time! She came to church with her mother and four other sisters yesterday! She's so sweet! I'll send a picture of her eventually!

The other fecha was Sebastian. We were kind of having doubts about him, but when we met with him on Friday, he expressed his desire to be baptized! We set his date for the 17th of September, and we are meeting with him each week as much as possible to teach him. He is living with his "girlfriend" of 8 years, and we are trying to get them married so he can be baptized. Also, he has a bit of a problem with drinking, but he has a desire to quit, and of course we are here to help him always. He attended church yesterday!

As far as the progression of other investigators, we have Luiz, who is 16 I think, and we are planning on setting a fecha with him this week. He seems promising. Damian is progressing well, but he couldn't attend church yesterday because he was in El Chalten this weekend where he works. He really wants to change, and we can help him do that through the blessing of the Atonement of Jesus Christ! Eduardo is someone who has already came to church three times, and he even bore his testimony yesterday! It was so powerful, and we are going to teach him tonight and put a fecha with him! David and Carla are a couple, and they have been taught by the missionaries for about 3-4 years. She got a little frustrated by the missionaries at one point because they kept hounding her for a fecha! But last time, we were just going to chill and talk and befriend them, which we have done a couple times, and she started asking about prophets of the bible. We transitioned from that to Joseph Smith, and the living prophets and apostles in our day. Out of nowhere, they pulled out their Books of Mormon and were saying how they had been reading a bit and stuff! We took that golden opportunity to invite them to continue to read (we assigned them Mosiah 3) and pray! They seemed interested!! Leonardo is still progressing a bit, but he seems to just enjoy our presence and talking with us. We invited him and his wife to be baptized last time, but they said they don't know. We are now trying to help them read the Book of Mormon and pray, and help them see the blessings of the gospel for their family! But yeah! We are actually faring relatively well, and we still have some others that we are teaching!

Sorry for that massive paragraph, but it's so fun to see their progress!! I can tell that they feel something when we meet and speak with them about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that our message can help all persons, and how grateful am I to be one of the many missionaries of the Lord, proclaiming his truth to all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people!

I witnessed my first baptism here on Wednesday. It was an old woman that the other Elders taught. Her husband was a member, and she decided to get baptized. I could see the joy on her face as she rose out of the water! I am excited for the day I get the chance to perform that sacred ordinance with someone who has chosen to be born again through Christ!!

We contacted in centro (downtown) this week with a sign we made about the restoration. That was pretty fun to do! It's helping me be less shy! Haha, let me tell don't know what awkward is until you stop someone on the sidewalk and begin talking to them about the gospel in a language that you can't speak. Let's just say...I'm going to perfect the art of being awkward while I'm here!! hahaha

Me and my companion, Elder Araujo: