This has been quite a week here in Los Hornos. I´m not sure where to begin.
We´ll start with the basics. My companion, Elder Mortensen is from St. George. He hit 16 months in the mission last week. He is our District Leader, and is an awesome missionary, and person. We get along really well. That´s something that didn´t quite happen with Elder Pepito or Elder Atwood. They were both great, but Elder Mortensen is already like a friend. He plays guitar, and loves sports. We have played basketball the last two P-days in a row. He has his own band, called Wide-eyed Wildlife. He plays and sings his songs in the pench, which is pretty cool. Dad and Grandpa Stobbe, something that might interest you is that he worked at St. George Golf Club for 3 years. He was one of the maintenance workers. He got free golf at all the city courses in St. George. He used his knowledge of pipes and water systems to help an inactive member fix his water at his house yesterday. He said he has been wanting to use his skills since he got here, but yesterday was the first time he could.
So when I got here, we put a goal of getting 5 baptisms this transfer. We knew that in order to do that, we would both have to do things we have never done before. Every prayer we say, we ask for help and support for this goal, so that we can help more of God´s children be saved. We pray very specifically for miracles, and full expect them to happen. We asked on Tuesday morning to be led to someone who was ready. Later that day, we were riding along and a drunk guy called at us. We weren´t going to stop, because it rarely is a good idea to try and teach drunk people. But Elder Mortensen decided to go back, so we did. We talked to him, and he gave his address and we set an appointment for Friday afternoon. Then we rode away, hoping that it would turn into something. So that was the beginning of one miracle, which you´ll see in a minute. On Wednesday morning, we again prayed that someone would be put in our path, or that we would be able to find someone who was ready, but more of something out of the ordinary than just finding someone through a contact or reference. So after our first appointment at 10:30 that morning, we left and headed to the right. But Elder Mortensen had to use the bathroom, so we turned around after about half a block to head to a member that lived near by. At the next corner, there was a bunch of garbage in the street, and some wire got stuck in Elder Mortensen´s tire. So we stopped, and he was trying to pull it out, but it was way too twisted in there. So we looked up, and there was a lady out hanging up clothes to dry, with her son outside too. We went over and asked if they had some wire cutters to help us get the wire off. The son ran and got some, and fixed up the bike real quick. I was having problems with my seat, so I asked if he had a wrench or some pliers to tighten it up. While he was gone getting them, my companion looked at me and said ´´This is it. Let´s teach them.´´ So while Juaquin, the son was fixing my bike, Elder Mortensen washed his hands in the hose, and talked to the mom. He asked her if she would like to listen to the message we had. She accepted, and we went in the shade with some chairs to talk. Just then, her husband got home. He too was interested and we sat down with the 3 of them and taught them about the Book of Mormon and how the gospel can bless the lives of families. Both the parents agreed to read the Book and pray (the son left in the middle to take care of his niece). They were both very interested and we could tell they were feeling the Spirit. We closed with the mom, Asunción, saying the prayer, and she asked Heavenly Father to tell her the Book is true! When we left, they were all smiling, and we set an appointment for Saturday. I didn´t go to that one, because we were on splits with some young men, but Elder Mortensen said it went wonderful. We know that that was a miracle, but what we didn´t know is that an even bigger one was waiting for us....
On Friday, it was time to go to the appointment with the drunk guy we talked to. He lived way out at the edge of our area, and when we got there, we coudn´t find his house. Where he said it was, no one was there, and we weren´t sure it was his anyway. So, a little bummed we had just come all that way, we turned around and saw a really old man smoking in his patio. We went over and saw that his daughter (about 50) was with him, drinking mate (pronounced mah-te). We asked her if we could share our message, and she said she wasn´t really interested. So we asked if we could pass in anyway just to talk. She agreed. Then she said, ´´I don´t really want to talk to you, but I bet my son does. He´s sleeping. Let me go wake him up.´´ That was weird already, because people rarely wake up family members to listen to us. People love to sleep here. So we went back to the house that was behind the main one, and waited a few minutes for the son (Hernan) to come out. He came, and we started talking, and found out some crazy things. One, he is the son-in-law of the second counselor in the bishopric. Two, he has been investigating the Church for 3 years, and three, for the first time in 4 months he started reading the Book of Mormon again the day before we came. He already has a testimony of Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and the Church. He has had a few baptismal dates already, but over a year ago. We talked a little more, then invited him to be baptized on Christmas. He accepted, and said he would prepare himself for the 25th. When we finally left, we both just looked at eachother and laughed for about 5 minutes straight. We stopped on the side of the road and offered a prayer of gratitude to the Lord for the miracle we had just witnessed.
I have been thinking about the difference between what I am doing now, and what I was doing in Plátanos, and I think it is this: I and we pray very specifically in every prayer, giving names, dates, goals, thoughts and expectations. We have no doubts that the Lord can help us in every part of the work, and we tell Him so. We express our gratitude for the help already received, and then we go out and do everything we can do reach our potential. We no longer are suprised by the little miracles every day, but we are humbly grateful to be having these experiences.
Last Wednesday night, two of the Sister Missionaries in our Zone called everyone and challenged them to re-read the Book of Mormon in 3 weeks, which would be about New Year´s Eve. She said it would take reading 11 chapters a day. That seemed a little low, so I changed that challenge for myself to a week and half. This is different than the MTC, becuase we don´t have very much free time. But I knew I could do it, so I started while my companion was still on the phone talking about the challenge. I am currently in Alma 28, and fully expect to finish on Saturday night. Like that last time I read it fast, it is an awesome experience to see how all the stories relate, and who is visiting who, and who is fighting who. I feel like a blockbuster movie could be made with some of the drama and intrigue in the Book. And, I get to see all the teachings of great prophets and missionaries. Alma and Amulek especially are great examples of missionaries working faithfully in spite of the worse kind of adversity. Overall, it is just wonderful to read it like this. I have decided that I am going to do it every 6 months from now on, seeing as it takes less than two weeks.
I have a bunch of photos to send, but the computer is not letting me hook up my camera. I will try and do it next time.
Speaking of next time, I won´t be emailing again for a while. Our next P-day is Christmas, and I will be calling instead of emailing. And after that, it will be new years, or around there. I´m not exactly sure, but I should be calling inbetween 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM your time. I will call Dad´s cell phone. If you could put about $5 in the account so I can buy a phone card, that would be great. I will probably be sending a short email in the next week or so to finalize the time. The rule is direct family only, and only 45 minutes. So be prepared to comply with that.
I can´t believe that you guys are moving again! How crazy! You are moving as often as I am. haha.
The package from Sister Montes and her friends had cookies, brownies, M&M´s, Skittles, gummy candies, and Mantecol, and Argentine type of candy bar. The closest thing to mantecol in the states would be the middle of a Butter Finger, but kind of chewy. Also there was some bread, cheese, and meat. The bread was moldy, but the meat and cheese were perfectly fine. Almost everything in the package has now been happily consumed!
Hunter and Jessie! Happy Birthday. I mean, Feliz Cumpleaños. Que los cumplan felices. I can´t believe how big and old all the kids are. Crazy.
Summer, I am praying for you and for little Kate. I hope everything goes well and that you feel comforted knowing that you are participating in one of the greatest miracles in this life. That is, Life itself! Like most miracles, it takes faith and hard work to bring about. You have already shown your great faith, and now you just have a little bit more of the hard work. Then, you will enjoy the blessing of holding one of God´s most prized posessions in your arms. I have come to appreciate the importance of parenthood, and even more, motherhood here on my mission. I have seen the influence one good mom can have on generations of children. All of you moms and dads have the privilege of raising potential Gods! How amazing that fact is.
Elder Mortensen and I are looking forward to many more great miracles, especially in December, the month of miracles in the mission field. We have another baptism date for Christmas Eve, a lady named Gabriela. We are thinking of joining the two, both for Christmas Eve.
Yes mom, everything went great with the baptism of Lucas last Saturday. I have a picture, but like I said, I can´t get it connected. He was both baptized and confirmed by his grandpa, Mario.
I think that is all. If anyone has things they want to know, email me the questions, and I´ll do my best to answer them.
-- Elder Scot Daniel Stobbe Jr Argentina Buenos Aires South Mission