First off, I uploaded some pictures to DropBox, with descriptions. I hope you enjoy them.
Mom, I hope you are doing better. I did not like to hear about you being sick, but I am grateful you had Dad to take care of you.
This week we had a two days of meetings. Because we are far away, we "had" to go stay with some other missionaries for a few days. We left Wednesday afternoon, and got back Saturday morning. Then we had Stake Conference on Sunday, and had to travel again. That, plus we were travelling last Sunday and Monday as well. We are all travelled out!
Dad, we could always consider shortening your stay, right? Would that drop the cost enough? We'll see what happens!
For now, Camila's baptism is on hold. We weren't able to see her at all this week because of all the travel. We have a goal for her to get baptized on April 7th, along with Margarita.
Mom, I have actually been thinking a lot that and am very excited to do Family Home Evenings when I get home.
I am so happy to be here with you today. I would like to thank my mission president for this opportunity to speak.
Yeah, so... how is everyone? I got letters from a whole slew of people today. Thank you all for writing! It makes my day so much brighter (even though it is raining right now.)
Aubri, I am so happy for you! Have a great week! I wish I could be there, but I'll see you when I get home.
Today I am feeling very happy. This is the last P-day of the transfer, and one of the Sisters is going home on Monday. We are going to miss her, but today we are enjoying ourselves. We went in the morning to a sort of carnival, but it was already closed. But then the Sisters told us that there is a maze close by that is made with bushes or hedges, like in Harry Potter, except that it is only about 4 feet high. So we did that and then went to a park and took pictures and then came back to the church to eat, play ping pong, and write our families! Also today one of the Elders in my district, Elder Jarvis got a video of his little brother receiving his mission call. He is going to Chile. It was a lot of fun to see another future missionary receive his call!
This last week we had some great contacts. We were able to talk to some people who are very promising that we are going to visit again this week. Margarita and Camila both have baptismal dates for the 24th of February right now. They both need your prayers! Camila told us yesterday that she has been praying every night and is waiting for an answer that the Church is true and that she should get baptized. She is worried that it will never come. She has the doubt that maybe the Church isn't for her, so Heavenly Father isn't going to answer he prayer. We have faith that she will in fact receive it. Margarita just needs to go to church. She was sick this weekend and couldn't go, but she told us she knows she needs to and will go this week.
Some experiences from this week:
After leaving a members house (the family of Ludmila, who got baptized in December) we were riding our bikes down the street when her little 3 or 4 year old brother runs out screaming something. He was screaming "¡Un Beso! ¡Un Beso!" "A kiss! A kiss!" In argentina they say hello and goodbye with kisses, and we only accept them from little kids. I left with "saying goodbye" and he wanted to tell me goodbye!
On Tuesday I did an exchange with the elders in Dolores, and while we were out clapping houses, we saw some Jehovah's Witnesses. This is common, but they usually avoid us and go down a different street. But this time, we were in front of a house waiting for a guy to come out, and they went to the house right next door and clapped it. It was interesting to be doing contacts side by side with them. They may have some strange ideas, but at least they are out trying to share an important message!
After lunch on Wednesday we were sharing a scripture with the family, and they had their grandkids there. My companion asked Sofia, who is 10 years old and a member to read 1 Nephi 1:1, but to replace "Nephi" with "Sofia". Now to understand what happened next we have to explain a little Spanish. When is says "born of goodly parents" in Spanish that is "nací de buenos padres". So "goodly" is "buenos" in this case. But when she read it, she changed it more than expected and said "Yo, Sofia, nací en buenos aires, y recibí por tanto..." This may not be funny or make sense in English, but it was pretty funny when it happened!
On Wednesday night, we had a Family Home Evening for the branch in the church. My companion organized it all, and was a great success! We watched the Testaments, did the "Seminary Doughnuts" lesson but with Alfajors, played a game where you had to pick up a candy with your teeth from a plate, but it was buried in flour. Then we played hangman and had a piñata. The phrase in hangman was "Appearances can be deceiving" and they got to break the piñata when they guessed it. The piñata was filled with paper and flour (appearances can be deceiving) and we taught a lesson about how the devil tries to make sins appear good, and how we can avoid falling in his trap. Then we had chips and soda and candy to finish. It was really fun, and we had about 4 or 5 inactive members come who haven't been to church in more than 6 months! In two weeks we are having another one about the Plan of Salvation.
I love you all so much! Thanks for your prayers and love.
This week I wrote down things to tell, and I realized today that they all have to do with death, or something related. Weird, right?
First, an update. We had several great lessons with Camila and Margarita this week. They are both progressing, but at different rates. I wish that we could just have lessons with them all day every day, because we feel the spirit so strong and care about them so much. It is a great experience. We started taking members with us to visit Margarita, and she loves it! She said she remembers from before when she was investigating the Church that members would always go and visit her, and it made her feel so good. So we are trying to help with fellowshipping that way. Camila is trying to change. Even though she is only 14, she lived a very worldly life before. She knows it is for the best to live in accordance with God's laws, but it is hard for her. One night she wrote her mom and told her that she didn't want to meet with us that day because we talked about God too much. haha. We explained to her the next time that we don't really have anything else to talk about! We are trying to organize an activity where she can just enjoy herself with the members and us so she sees that the Church isn't just missionary lessons and sacrament meeting.
Speaking of sacrament meeting, we had 12 people total yesterday, including the two missionaries and Camila. It was the smallest I have ever seen. I gave a talk, and I felt like I was teaching a sunday school lesson because there were so few people.
So this week my companion and I were looking for some addresses, and we stopped to check our map. We look on one side of the street and there is a preschool. Then we looked on the other side, and there was an old folks home! haha. My companion was like, oh look, the beginning and end of life! I wonder if someone planned to put them next to each other, or it just happened?
We were with Margarita talking about the Plan of Salvation, and she said something interesting: "The only thing you need to die is to be alive!"
Unfortunately this week in Buenos Aires there was a terrible tragedy. There was a train accident and over 50 people were killed, and over 600 injured. The brakes were not functioning correctly, and when the train got to the final station where the tracks end and there is a barrier, it crashed. The first two cars smashed together like an accordian. It has been very sad this last week. Luckily, we know that all those people are ok, and that death is not the end. It was a great experience to be able to share the Plan of Salvation with people who asked us if we had heard about the train accident.
We had a leadership and secretary training meeting on Saturday for Bishoprics and Branch Presidencies and all the presidents from each ward or branch. It was with Elder Avila, who is an area Seventy. At one point during a question and answer session, someone asked what to do in an emergency when a member needs welfare help. The answer was "Follow the spirit" But he used the example "If the spirit tells you to cut off a head, you just get up and cut it off!" It was a great example! Then he clarified by saying that that only happened once, so don't get any ideas.
This next part is specifically for the Montes Family, so can you make sure it gets to them?
En esa misma reunión, estaban hablando de qué tipos de alimentos se deben dar a los miembros necesitados. Decían que solamaent deben ayudarlos mantener la vida, y no mantener un "estilo de vida". Entonces, nos dieron unos ejemplos de alimentos que son "necesarios para sostener la vida" ¡y los primeros que dijeron eran Yerba y Azúcar! ¡Me dió tanta gracia! Me encanta estar en Argentina!
Dad, Congratulations on your sale! I am glad things are going well.
I am glad to hear Jessie is getting better at church. It makes me so happy to hear about his experiences.
In almost every email I get, I am told that you don't want to repeat each other, so sometimes you leave out stories because someone else is going to tell me. I think it might be better if you all say what you want, and I'll deal with repeat stories! Remember that I read really fast (I did a test the other night with my companion and I was at roughly 700 wpm.) So don't be afraid to repeat stories!
I love everyone. I am so grateful for your prayers and love. I know that I am doing the Lord's will serving a mission.