Sunday, June 17, 2018

The Answer

¡Hola!                                                                                                                          

This week, a lot of interesting things happened. I had to maintain a conversation in Portuguese, we unloaded 1,000 bricks from a truck, received news that we can’t watch the World Cup and it almost snowed. 
I spent my first week with Elder Aguilar, ny New Mexicans friend and final companion. He’s from Puebla, Mexico and he’s been serving for about ten months. He has a ton of energy for the work and he’s made me excited to work through my last transfer.
We have a new member who moved into our ward and he is living with a group of young men who are students, like he is. Their house is basically like a dorm where they all share a kitchen but have their own bedrooms and bathrooms. It’s been so cool to watch this member bring all of his friends/roommates to church with him. This group of students is made up of the new ward member, his friend who is also a member, another friend who is less-active and about eight other young men who aren’t members. Literally, for the last three weeks, since he’s been attending our ward, he’s brought someone new to church with him. The other day we went to their house and had a big group lesson with everyone who was there. It was a little hard to gather everyone together and get started but it ended up being such a cool lesson. It was awesome to sit back and observe a bunch of college kids, from all different backgrounds, discussing God and religion. There was a variety of experiences and opinions shared and it was awesome to observe. Each of the kids are so smart and they have interest in the church so I’m excited to see what happens with them. 
Our miracle girl, Agostina, is progressing very well. The ward members have helped support her as she progresses in the gospel and we’ve had some awesome lessons with her. On Friday, we had a lesson with her about baptism and we know she is more than ready to get baptized but she’ hesitant because it’s a huge commitment. So, in the middle of our lesson she stopped us and said that she feels like in order to know if she’s ready to get baptized, she has much more to learn. I had the feeling to tell her that the best thing she could do would be to ask God. So, we stopped the lesson, knelt together and Agostina prayed. She asked God what she needs to do and if baptism is the next step she needs to take in her life. It was such a sweet and humble prayer. After the prayer, Agostina had a big smile and a glow on her face. Then, she told us that while praying, she felt something that she’s never felt before and that she thought it was her answer. Like the scripture in Matthew 7:7 says, “Ask and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you.” Agostina asked, searched and knocked and God fulfilled His promise and gave her the answer she was waiting for. 
We are also teaching Estela and Nazarero, a single mom and her 15-year old son. For quite some time, they have been looking for a church to attend but they haven’t felt comfortable anywhere. They have been studying our doctrine, along with the Bible, and every time we go to their house, they tell us how our doctrine aligns with what they read in the Bible and with their beliefs. They told us that they are anxious and ready to take the step of being baptized by someone who holds the correct authority from God. Interestingly, Nazarero loves to study the Bible and he always shares his thoughts and asks questions during our lessons. I sure wish I was like him when I was 15-years old. 
The other day we also found an awesome family who lived in Minnesota for eight years. First, we met the wife while she was outside sweeping her porch and when we approached, she spoke to us in English. This encounter really took us by surprise and it was actually quite hilarious. She told us that she and her family were devoted Catholics and had never spoken to any Mormon missionaries before. But, they were open to learning more. Hopefully, we will have some strong lessons with them. If it turns out that they’re not interested, maybe they can at least help me brush up on my English. Haha! 

It’s getting cold down here and the mountains are dusted with snow. It’s so beautiful!

Have a great week! 

Elder Roderick

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Witness to a Miracle

¡Familia!                                                                                                                   
One of the highlights of the week was celebrating the holiday, 25 of May, which is the day of the Argentine Revolution.  It’s a pretty big holiday so all of the businesses and stores were shut down for the day.  The people celebrate by eating the traditional Argentine foods and by dancing the cultural dances.  In the morning, we got together as a ward and celebrated by drinking the famous mate and enjoying treats.  The Argentines are full of pride for their culture and they love to celebrate every chance they get. 
This week we experienced a miracle.  A few weeks ago, Elder Fernandez and I were knocking doors in a neighborhood we weren’t familiar with. We hadn’t really considered proselyting in that part of town, but on this particular morning, we were prompted to go there. We didn’t know why, but we followed the prompting and went.  Apparently, as we were working, a young girl was watching us through her window and she wondered who we were and what we were doing.  So, she looked us up on the internet. (It’s a good thing she didn’t think we were Jehovah’s Witnesses! LOL!) Through her internet search, she got in touch with a missionary in London who works online with people who want to know more about the Church.  They chatted for a while and this girl, Agustina, was able to learn more about the Church.  Then, out of nowhere, we received a text from the missionary in London who told us about Agustina and her desires to learn more about the Church  
So, we got in contact with her and met her on Wednesday morning.  She told the story of how she found us.  On the morning we were working in her neighborhood, she saw us and she expected us to knock on her door but we didn’t.  So, she did a Google search about us because she had been feeling like she needed to get closer to God and she thought we could help her.  This desire made it easy for her to receive us. We met her and we were surprised because she received us so eagerly.  Actually, she was very anxious for our visit.  Agustina is 18 years old and is baptized in the Catholic Church. She is also a very smart girl. She plays volleyball and is about to start studying medicine in college. During our first visit, we just got to know her we talked for about 15 minutes.  Then, on Friday night she came to a ward activity with us. 
In order to join us, she even missed one of her volleyball games. She said, “I play every game and never leave the court so it’ll be nice for the other girls to play a little bit.” Hahaha..  During the activity, she opened up to us and told us that she wanted to feel closer to God. Many things have happened previously in her life that have prepared her to receive the gospel today, including the death of her father and an accident that nearly left her arm paralyzed.  All of the members got to know her and they asked us, “Elders, how did you find this girl? She’s amazing!!” We just replied, “We didn’t do anything.  She found us!” 
On Sunday at church, she participated in all of the classes and continued to interact with the members she met on Friday night at the activity.  She honestly looked like a long-time member. Then, after church, we walked with her to her house and she told us how much she liked the services and how comfortable she felt at church. “What do I have to do to be part of your religion?” she asked.  So, we had a little chat about baptism and she said she wants to get prepared to be baptized soon. We really still haven’t had a legitimate sit-down lesson with her, but she is so golden.  Like the scripture says in Alma 24:22, “Thus we see that the Lord worketh in many ways to salvation of His people.” The Lord truly works in mysterious and always completes his promises.  
Perhaps the funniest part of our week occurred during a lesson we had with an older lady.  We completed our second lesson with this investigator and at the end of it, we tried to set a baptismal date for her.  However, she rejected it because she said that she wants to learn more about the Church and feel more comfortable with the teachings before she commits.  We tried to explain that setting a date was just a goal, but she still rejected us and said, “So, you’re telling me that if I go on a date with a guy, after the second date I already have to sleep with him. Is that what you’re trying to say?” Oh, man!  I was dying inside and couldn’t help but burst out in laughter.  So, we said a quick prayer and just finished the lesson on that note.  Older ladies certainly keep me on my toes! 

With love,

Elder Roderick 

Sunday, May 27, 2018

KNEEL

¡Familia!                                                                                                                    
Elder Fernandez and I were sitting in Sacrament Meeting on Sunday and we heard something that caught our attention.  After the sacrament service, the Bishop was announcing the program and out of nowhere we heard, “Then, our ward missionaries will follow with a brief message.” Well, that was news to our ears!  We had 5-10 minutes to get some thoughts prepared and before we knew it, we were at the pulpit speaking to the congregation.  LOL!  It’s a good thing we were paying attention. 
We had a great week in Mendoza and we spent most of our time looking for people to teach.  When we actually get invited into a home, we’ve been focusing on sharing messages that are twenty minutes or less.  This allows us to teach more people in the span of a day.  
The other day, we found Marisa and Mara who are a mom and daughter.  They accepted our message right off the bat! Due to some bad experiences in other churches, Marisa is looking for a new place to take her daughter.  Simply, she’s looking for a place where they’ll feel comfortable. She’s been to a lot of churches and is still looking for the right one.  When we met them, we quickly shared our message of the Restoration and then Marisa said one of the most powerful prayers I’ve heard.  We knelt down together and she asked our Heavenly Father to lead her where she needs to go and asked if our message was true.  It was simple but powerful!  Then, we just stayed on our knees and let her meditate for a second.  A warm feeling of peace came over us and when I looked up, there was a big smile on her face. I will never forget her ear-to-ear smile or the look she gave me. The Lord truly answers the prayer of anyone who asks will real intent and faith in Christ.  I have no doubt about it!
            Our friend, David, is progressing a ton.  He has read a large portion of the Book of Mormon and has faithfully gained a testimony of the truthfulness of our message.  Every time we go to his house, we begin with a prayer and then he just tells us what he’s been learning and gives us a recap of what he’s read in the Book of Mormon. Every time we’re with him, I’m stunned by his comprehension of what he’s read and of what we’ve taught him.  He understands everything so well and he earnestly wants to learn more. He has a goal to finish the Book of Mormon in two weeks and if he keeps up his current reading pace, he’ll reach his goal. There’s a lot of religious contention in his house but he is able to ignore it because, as he’s told us, he’s received his answer and he’s going to follow it. We’re trying to work with the police so David can get permission to go to church with us.  So, keep him in your prayers!!
            Banti and Florencia are doing well also.  Banti is learning a ton and the other day while we were preparing him for his baptismal interview he taught us the message of the Restoration from the perspective of a nine-year old.  It was pretty hilarious to hear his thoughts and rendition of the message.  He’s a really smart kid and he’s getting prepared for his baptism.  Hopefully, he’ll be baptized soon.  We’re just waiting for a little more support from his family.
            On Friday, we had our Zone Conference and it was one of the best conferences I’ve participated in.  Here in Mendoza, the work is progressing steadily. I had to teach about the importance of ministering to the members as well as the investigators and about how to gain their confidence and trust.  We are truly on the Lord’s errand and ministering to our sheep is our outlook. One thing we’ve implemented in the mission is saying every prayer, in every lesson, on our knees.  It’s just so much more powerful that way and we are able to have more spiritual experiences with our investigators.  We’ve learned that it’s these experiences that help them gain a testimony. Every night we return to our pench with dirty pants, but kneeling in prayer truly makes a difference.
            “If you are ever too tired to stand up, KNEEL.” 
                              – Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Elder Roderick 

Sunday, May 20, 2018

I'm Feelin' Good!

What’s up, Fam?                                                                                                        
This week was actually pretty good.  At the first of the week we had interviews with President Panzzachi and we talked about a lot of good stuff.  He talked to me about my temple recommend and freak!  It took me by surprise because I haven’t even thought about the fact that it will have expired when I get home. I always seem to have the longest interviews with President.  We just get talking and he tells me stories about his mission and his life and how he has continually become more and more converted to the Church. It’s actually really cool to be able to sit down with him and learn from him.  He’s such a good dude and he’s helped me so much while I’ve been serving. He gave me some really good advice about how to finish my mission strong.
Then, since we were in downtown Mendoza (because that’s where the mission offices are), we took advantage of the situation and went to an American restaurant where on Wednesdays they have “Wing Wednesday.” This place is completely American. In fact, the word “Wednesday” doesn’t even exist in Spanish. I’m going to be totally honest.  It was awesome! On Wednesdays, they have all-you-can-eat-wings and every person ate at least thirty wings each. 

Other than our trip downtown we had a regular work week.  Our girl, Ivanna, is on her way to the States, which stinks for us because we lost contact with her. David, our other strong investigator who is on home arrest, is doing really well.  His family is crazy but he’s doing well.  He loves to learn about God and the Book of Mormon, which is really cool.  The other day we were having the second lesson with him and when we asked, “What did you learn this week?” He told us that he read fifty pages in the Book of Mormon and then he retold the whole story of 1 Nephi.  He said, “Nephi had so much faith and he was so obedient.  Even when his brothers were murmuring against him, he had no problem continuing on their journey because he knew the Lord would provide a way for him.” We just sat there, stunned!  He went on and told us about how Nephi tried to build a boat and how the Lord directed him to do it.  It was so awesome to listen to him.
Florencia and her brother, Batista are doing really well too.  Florencia couldn’t come to church because her daughter had a birthday party, which was frustrating but Batista might get baptized this coming weekend because he’s more than ready.  I know they’ll both get baptized, eventually. We also started teaching Alejandro’s mom. He’s our recent convert and he’s been able to get his mom interested. She is pregnant and she smokes like crazy; like two boxes a day. She’s had this addiction for a very long time so it’s tough for her to break it.  However, we went to their house this week and she told us she stopped smoking.  “Yea, I just quit smoking” she said. “Wow!” we thought and when we asked her what happened to make her stop, she said, “Well, I realized I could save money and it will be better for the baby.” This was such awesome news and it made us excited for her.  Now, she just has to get married.  It’s always something!
The rest of the week was chill.  We’re just trying to find more people to teach. It was great to talk to you guys.  It was so cool to see everyone in so many different places and it made me grateful for the technology we have that makes a four-way Skype possible.  

I’m feelin’ good! Have a great week!

Elder Roderick 

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