Sunday, May 13, 2018

Two Powerful Lessons

¡Yo! What’s up, Fam?                                                                                                  

Well, another week in the mission is in the books! In Mendoza, we’ve been enjoying the beautiful fall weather. The colorful, falling leaves remind me of the beauty we also enjoy in Utah during the changing seasons.
This week I went on two exchanges with two very different missionaries and during each, I learned a powerful lesson. On Tuesday, I was with one of my best friends in the mission, Elder Schelly. We were in the MTC together but haven’t crossed paths very much during our service. So, during our work together we were able to catch up and share with what has happened on our missions. Elder Schelly is currently the Assistant and we had a great day together. Legit! Tuesday was one of the most memorable days of my mission. We spent the entire day trying to find people to teach by knocking doors and we met a lot of awesome people. In the mission, we are focusing on being “master teachers” by teaching condensed 15-minute lessons that simplify the doctrine and we finish each lesson with a prayer on our knees. The purpose of our short and simple lessons is to bring and leave the Spirit in the homes we enter. At one point during the day we were walking along and we saw a picture of Jesus on a door so, of course, we knocked on it. An 80-year old woman answered. During my experiences in the mission, I haven’t had the best of luck with elderly people, but Norma changed my mind. We walked into her home and immediately began to teach her about the Restoration. We quickly realized that Norma was golden! We also taught her about the Apostasy and she clearly understood the concept that Christ’s church slipped away from the earth after His death. We left her with a Book of Mormon and before we left, she humbly prayed and asked God for an answer about the truthfulness of our message. Norma’s was one do the most powerful prayers I’ve heard while serving. With tears in her eyes, she gave each of us a huge hug and we left. All of this happened during a quick yet powerful 15-minute lesson. My experience with Norma taught me that the Lord truly prepares people for us to teach. Norma was able to attend church on Sunday and she is progressing quickly.
The other exchange I had was with Elder Vallincourt. He is from New Hampshire and arrived in Argentina two short months ago. During the lesson we had together, we taught about the Book of Mormon. Prior to it, he provided me with some background information about the investigators we were about to teach and his plan for the lesson. Then, very humbly, he said, “I don’t really know how to teach this lesson very well or invite them to read the Book of Mormon. My Spanish is limited but I do have a testimony of the Book of Mormon, so we should be fine.” We went to the lesson, taught in a very simple way and in very limited Spanish, Elder Vallincourt bore a powerful testimony of the Book of Mormon. Then, we left. While walking away, I was reminded of the scripture in Alma 37:6 which reads, “by small and simple things are great things brought to pass.” During this lesson, I was taught that it doesn’t matter how much Spanish we know or how well we know the doctrine. A simple testimony can be the most powerful teaching tool.
These two exchanges couldn’t have been more different but each provided me with an opportunity to learn a powerful lesson. One was with one of the most experienced missionaries in the mission, the Assistant. Together we confidently used our experience in the mission to teach a powerful lesson but I learned an important lesson from young Elder Vallincourt as well. From him I learned the importance of simplifying things and just teaching through our sincere and simple testimonies.
On Sunday night, it was stormy and dark outside but we were searching for people to teach and we met David. Upon our encounter, we quickly learned that due to some false accusations against him, he is on house-arrest. So, while locked in his home, David started to read the Bible. Prepared with knowledge from his reading, David was able to have a great conversation with us about the prophets of God and their role. We also talked about the love Jesus has for all of his brothers and sisters, which is something we know assuredly because He visited the Americas. When we talked about this principle, David’s mind was blown away because this was such new principle to him. I’m confident David was prepared to receive our message and he’ll progress as time allows. I swear that the best people are often found at 9:00 at night, on our return trip to our pench, when it’s dark outside and no one is outside!

Everything is going well in Mendoza!  Have a great week!

Elder Roderick 

Sunday, May 6, 2018

On His Errand

Yo! Fam,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          
Another week has come to a close here in Mendoza. We are now in the fall season so it gets a bit chilly in the mornings and at night but in the afternoon, it’s nice and warm. It’s perfect weather to wear a nice warm sweater.  The leaves are starting to drop as well, so it’s beautiful outside.  The weather in Mendoza is basically the same as in Utah except the seasons are just mixed up.  LOL! Unfortunately, we didn’t spend any nights on the roof this week.
            Well, on Saturday, we had a sweet little baptism.  Our young homie, Benjamin, who is the son of a recent convert family, was baptized. We’ve been helping him get prepared for this weekend and it was certainly one of the most memorable baptisms I’ve experienced.  Seeing his anxious face, full of excitement and wonder, was a happy sight for everyone. As soon as he arrived at the chapel, Benjamin ran into the chapel, with his cousin in tow, to check out the baptismal font. It was such a spiritual experience because many in his family are not members of the Church so by attending Benjamin’s baptism they were able to get more familiar with the Church. The best part was his confirmation.  The bishop gave the blessing and Elder Fernandez and I assisted.  As soon as the bishop said, “Amen”, Benjamin jumped out of his chair to give his mom a hug. As he hugged her he shouted, “Mama, I felt it!” We looked him, a little confused and then he declared (while pointing at his heart), “The Holy Ghost! I felt it right in here.”  Everyone started to chuckle but it was such a powerful experience because he was able to feel and recognize the gift of the Holy Ghost immediately. Children really are such great examples because they are humble and they’re able to simplify everything.
           
          The rest of the week was pretty normal.  Nothing crazy happened but we received an announcement that Elder Jeffrey R. Holland will be visiting the Argentina Mendoza Mission during the first weekend in June.  So, we are getting excited for that big event! Maybe Elder Holland will mention my boy, Elder Leone, out there in London, who he met during his worldwide tour. LOL! The stake choir coordinator asked us to be in the choir because she knew someone “big” from the Church was coming to the area but she had no idea who. So, when we told her it was going to be Elder Holland, her jaw nearly fell to the floor.  She just stood there, silent, and did not say a word.  I thought we were going to have to start giving her CPR or something because she was so shocked.  Haha!  Elder Holland’s visit certainly gives us a lot to look forward to. 
            Florencia and Banti are getting very close to being baptized. They need a little more preparation and a few more friends in the ward and then, they’ll be good to go! Florencia, especially, has made a ton of small changes in her life and it’s so cool to see her progress. The other day, one of their neighbors stopped us in the street and told us that Florencia has completely changed since we’ve been visiting the family. It was very interesting because we pass by this neighbor every time we are headed to teach Florencia and Banti.  She hasn’t said anything to us before so we were surprised that she approached us.  We shared a sweet little conversation and it made us feel really appreciated.  So, that experience was a blessing.
            Throughout the week, we spent a lot of time looking for more people to teach.  Sometimes it can be really tough to work for hours without hearing the word, “Yes.”  Even so, our work paid off and we were able to find some awesome new people to teach. On Tuesday, we had a long morning of knocking doors and it was kind of tough; not gonna lie. But, during our work the thought came to me that I truly am so fortunate to be a missionary.  It is such a privilege to be a representative of Jesus Christ. People see us in our white shirts and ties and some of them think that we just want to convert them. Of course, we do want everyone to come unto Him, but I just feel so blessed to be a servant of the Lord, even if I don’t convert the people behind every door.  We are truly on His errand and that’s what our message is all about. I just don’t know how I got so lucky to have this opportunity right now in my life. 

I love you!  #GOJAZZ

Elder Roderick III
            


Saturday, April 28, 2018

Under the Stars

¡Familia!                                                                                                                     

The Terrible Trio has officially come to an end because we had transfer calls this weekend. Elder Marcum is leaving and Elder Fernandez and I are staying together here in San Miguel.  The Terrible Trio was a legendary companionship; not gonna lie! We assumed that this was going to be our last week together so we decided to make the most of it.  In our area, we rent a little house in the backyard of an old lady and our living situation is pretty awesome.  One night this week she was away for a night so we took advantage of the situation and put our mattresses on the roof and slept under the beautiful stars. It brought back some great memories of my days as a Boy Scout. LOL! It was a little cold in the morning but it was so worth it!  Our evening escapade was a great way to end the trio.
One highlight of our week was having the privilege of listening to our Area President, Jose A. Teixeira. He visited our mission and gave us some instructions. In a few months, he’ll be in the Presidency of the Seventy so he’s kind of a big deal. LOL! We had a conference with him on Wednesday and it lasted the entire day. It always gives us such a boost to be around General Authorities because the Spirit they carry with them and the energy they have for the work is so infectious. We learned a ton about missionary work and received some instruction about changes we can make to be more effective missionaries.  There was a special spirit present with us and we literally talked about every aspect of missionary work; finding people to teach, working with the members, using our time wisely, being more effective teachers and much more. To say the least, we had an inspiring day with Elder Teixeira!
Multiple times this week we read Moroni’s promise with our investigators. I seriously think we had ten lessons that focused on those verses (Moroni 10:3-5). Usually our first step as missionaries is to help our investigators read the Book of Mormon, then pray about its truthfulness. One of the experiences we had was with a less active family who has kids who aren’t baptized.  We are teaching the kids with the hopes that the entire family will become active again and the kids will be baptized.  The nine-year old loves to read and he loves the Book of Mormon. He told us how good he feels while he’s reading and that on the days he doesn’t read the Book of Mormon, he can feel a real difference in his life.  Moroni’s promise is so strong and every time I read it, I find something new about it that I love.
Our recent converts, Eugenia and Alejandro, are doing very well!  Eugenia is consistently reading the Book of Mormon and she’s also doing her family history work.  Ever since her baptism, she’s had a great desire to continue to learn about the Gospel. So, sometimes we just show up at her house and ask, “What do you want to learn about today?”  Then, we always end up having an awesome lesson about the topic she’s interested in. Alejandro has made a ton of new friends with the young men in our ward and he’s participating in their activities. Every new member needs a friend and Alejandro has many!  He has changed a ton since his baptism.  He just seems happier and much more up-to-beat.  Like Eugenia, he and his brother are working on their family history and getting prepared to take family names to the temple! 
Florencia and her brother, Bantista, the kids of the mom who was baptized 20 years ago, are doing very well.  They were finally able to come to church this week and it was an amazing experience.  Florencia has a daughter who is almost two-years old so she felt like she had to be with her daughter in the nursery during most of church.  Even so, church was still good for her because she met other women in the ward and made a few friends.  They are progressing well and the baptismal font is just waiting for them to enter it in a few weeks!  

Have a great week!

Elder Roderick 

Sunday, April 22, 2018

What a Great Feeling!

¡Hola!                                                                                                                           
If you know the feeling of returning to your pench on Sunday night, dog tired from a busy week, and you look at your companion and ask, “Tomorrow is PDay?” then you know what a great feeling it is.  We had a killer week and we were able to see the fruits of our labors every day!On Tuesday morning, we were doing our morning exercises and while I was lying down doing some ab work (Six months to sexy! LOL!) and out of nowhere, everything started to shake and it felt like I was lying on Jello. Little earthquakes are common here in Mendoza but this one was quite a bit bigger and it lasted for about two minutes. It was certainly a memorable experience.
Also on Tuesday, we had personal interviews with President Panzacchi and the two of us had an awesome chat about the work and how I’m doing personally. During my interviews with President I’m always struck by the fact that it’s literally the only time I think about myself. Every moment of the day, missionaries think about others and their missionary work so it feels funny to stop and talk about myself. But, I am so grateful to have a mission President who makes himself available to talk with each individual missionary. I can feel his love. We talked about how I can really take advantage of the final few months I have in my mission. As well, we talked about the power and authority of our callings as missionaries. Sometimes I forget how important my calling really is because the work has just become part of my daily routine. So, it was powerful to be reminded that missionary work is truly the greatest work on the face of the earth today.
Lately we’ve been working with many part member families and we’ve had a lot of success doing it. We are teaching a momma, her 19-year old daughter, Florencia, and her 9 -year old son, Bantista. The momma was baptized 20 years ago and fell away from the church a few years later. Fortunately, a few days ago we were able to find them and since then, we’ve had some powerful spiritual lessons with them. It’s been really cool to watch the mom get back into the groove of things and align her life with the gospel again. During one of our lessons, the mom told us that she’s been waiting to come back to the church and our visits have given her the motivation she needed to do so.
Our Latina, Ivanna, is progressing very well. This week, we invited her to be baptized and she accepted! Now, she just needs to receive a personal answer about the truthfulness of the gospel. So, we are praying very hard for her! On Sunday, she came to church with her husband and they were very nervous to enter a church that wasn’t Catholic but everything went smoothly and they enjoyed the meetings. In order to see Ivanna get baptized, we’re going to need a lot of help from above but I’m confident it will happen!
This week I also received my birthday package and it was so awesome to read the notes from friends and family. Thank you for taking time to write to me! Thank you also for the chocolate malt mix. I’ve been enjoying chocolate banana malts all week long so I’m a very happy camper.

Mucho Amor!

Elder Roderick 

Sunday, April 15, 2018

The Week of the 20s

Familia!                                                                                                                        
As I hit my 20-month mark in the mission and celebrated my 20thbirthday, it was the week of the 20s. I realized I’m getting old in the mission and in life! There is a big difference between 19 and 20-years old. LoL! I still feel like just a kid. On Thursday, for my birthday, we had lunch with one of my favorite families and we ate one of my favorite Argentine plates.  Then, we had a regular day with appointments all afternoon but we bought an ice cream cake so we could celebrate a little bit. It was an awesome birthday! 
This week was a great one here in San Miguel. We are teaching a ton and it feels like we are always in a hurry and running around the neighborhoods just doing our thing. On Saturday, our boy, Alejandro, was baptized! We had a few problems at the last moment, but everything turned out well.  The young men in the ward welcomed him into their circle with open arms and they basically did everything in the baptismal service.  One of the counselors in the Young Men presidency baptized him and two youth gave talks.  Then, on Sunday, the Young Men president confirmed him.  It truly was beautiful and the Spirit was so strong during the ordinations. Also, a couple of his family members were able to support Alejandro this weekend so, we were happy to see that happen. Whenever there is a baptism it adds some excitement to the ward so we are hoping to keep this baptism train going!
We also did a bunch of service this week, which included some construction work. Basically, every morning we got our hands dirty then we ate lunch and spent the afternoon running to all of our appointments. A tired missionary = a happy missionary. 
            We are still teaching our good friend, Ivanna, who asked us to teach her English.  She has turned into one of our most promising investigators. She is so eager to learn more and she loves everything we give her. She calls us her “little children” and whenever we are in her home, she treats us like kings.  She gives us tons of food and she even spoiled me a little bit on my birthday.  The only thing that is difficult about Ivanna is that she has been a Catholic all of her life and it’s tough to make a big change in religion.  Actually, we are teaching a couple of families who are so ready to receive the Restored Gospel but they also practice another religion and it’s difficult to make such a big change.  We’ve learned, however, that the best thing we can do is trust in Moroni’s Promise and pray that these people can take a leap of faith and open their hearts to receive an answer about the truthfulness of the Gospel!

Con Mucho Amor,

Elder Roderick 




Friday, April 6, 2018

The Church is TRUE!

¡Hola!                                                                                                                            

Wow! What an awesome week it has been and Conference weekend just put the icing on the cake! It was so exciting to be in the mission field during this historic General Conference where I could feel the energy and urgency in a place like Argentina where the Church is growing quickly. I got the chills during the final part where they announced another temple in Argentina, in Richmond, Virginia and in Russia.  I immediately thought of my boys, Taz and Andrew, because I know they were so excited to hear the news of the new temples in their areas. Even though the new temple in Argentina isn’t very close to Mendoza, the chapel lit up on Sunday afternoon because now it’s most likely that Mendoza will be the next city in Argentina to receive a temple!
With the opportunity to share the Easter message with everyone we possibly could, we had a great week!  The characteristic I love most about the people here in Argentina is that almost everyone is Christian.  Whether it be Catholic, Evangelical or another Christian faith, the people are very receptive this time of year when we are simply sharing a message about Christ and His resurrection. Even though the streets are filled with the smell of fish all weekend, I’ve learned to love my fellow Argentine Christians. 
As he is preparing for his baptism next Saturday, we are working a lot with Alejandro. He was able to watch Conference with one of the members and they told us they had a positive experience with him as they watched the sustaining of President Nelson.  Alejandro is a worker!  He’s 16 years old and he is such a stud. They thing I’ve noticed about him is that he already knows the way and the things we can do to gain a better relationship with our Heavenly Father so we can receive His guidance. Alejandro has been making a lot of changes in his life and we are all very anxious for this Saturday!
On Friday, we got together with the whole ward because it was a holiday.  We cooked a ton of chicken asado, played some games (Ya’ boy still reigns as Ping Pong Champ!), and had an Easter egg hunt to animate for the members how to look for their ancestors as well as to help them remember to look for people to share the gospel with.  It’s always so much fun to get together with the ward, share delicious food, laugh, and develop better friendships. Our activity was a success and we had the whole ward running around the chapel looking for eggs.  It was hilarious!
This week we also had some success in finding some families in our ward who are incomplete (not everyone in their family is a member). By simply going through the ward directory we were able to find some families to visit. Then, as we passed by their homes and introduced ourselves and our purpose, we were able to quickly gain their confidence and get them interested in the Restored Gospel.  There is nothing more beautiful than seeing a full family in their Sunday-best in church together on a Sunday.  We’re just trying to make that happen more often!
The highlight of the week was watching General Conference.  It was such a great honor to be able to sustain a new prophet and other General Authorities.  I love watching Conference in the mission field because I know that in many parts of the world, my loved ones are seeing and feeling the same things I am.  Two of the phrases that stood out to me were, “The stumbling blocks of failure can be used as stepping stones to success” and “Failure is a tutor, not a tragedy” as shared by Lynn G. Robbins.  Failure happens a lot in the mission field but it always leads to better experiences, life lessons, and more success.  Russel M. Nelson is the Lord’s prophet in these latter days and what we felt, saw and heard in Conference testifies of that statement!!   The Church is TRUE!
 
Have a great week,  Elder Roderick 

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

“Let’s have a baptism and call it a fiesta!”

¡Hola!                                                                                                                        

The highlight of the week is that our investigator, Eugenia, got baptized on Saturday!  Elder Marcum and his previous companion found her the week before I got to the area and we were able to teach everything to her in just two weeks.  Her conversion was a quick one and she was able to make the big plunge on Saturday! She was found by the missionaries, crying outside of her house.  They presented themselves and taught the first lesson to her right on the spot.  Then, Eugenia went to church and began to make the small changes in her life that made it possible for her to become a member of the Church. Every one of her family members smokes and drinks but once Eugenia had her first child, she committed to stay away from those practices.  So, she didn’t have too many hurdles to overcome.
The coolest part of Eugenia’s conversion was the habit she developed of reading the Book of Mormon.  In the few weeks that we were teaching her, she read over twenty chapters in the Book of Mormon. So, on Saturday, Elder Marcum baptized her and yesterday, I had the wonderful opportunity to confirm her as a member of the Church! The Lord truly prepares the way for the people who are waiting to hear about and accept the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.
On Tuesday, we were able to use our English skills to teach a woman some English because she is trying to go to New York. She lives on our street and she always shouts to us in English.  It’s kind of funny! So, she invited us to her house and we didn’t really know what or how to teach her English so we used a Liahona we had that’s written in English. We tried to read, in English, some of the stories from the children’s section together. We started reading about the Creation which gave her a better idea of what we believe and it actually sparked her interest.  So, we ended up talking a lot more about religion than about English. Ha-ha! It’s funny because if she hadn’t talked to us, the odds are that we wouldn’t have entered her house because she has a lot of money and she’s a devout Catholic. Now, however, we have a good connection with her and we were able to share our message, which she’s interested in. 
Our other investigator who is progressing pretty well right now is the brother of a recent convert in the ward.  His brother was baptized in September and at that time, Alejandro didn’t have much interest in the Church.  However, two weeks ago he went to an activity with the Young Men and his mind was changed a bit.  He’s spending more time with the Young Men and he’s also started to attend church! He doesn’t have the best home life and it’s been amazing to see how the youth in the ward have helped him along.  We’ve decided that in this situation, we’re basically just Alejandro’s teachers because the youth have done all of the work and they’ve made our job so easy.  Alejandro is progressing really and well and we’re excited to see if he wants to take the next step in his life and join the Church.

Mucho Amor! 


Elder Roderick #MarchMadnessinthemissionfield