Friday, September 30, 2016

Attitude, Effort and Desires

Familia,                                                                                                       

Wow this week flew by! It was a lot better week than last week and I’m slowly starting to get into the flow of this mission thing! 
We had a lot of new investigators to talk with this week so I was really excited for the work. Since our area in Salto is sooo big we have to strategically plan who we are going to visit on each night because we can’t talk to everyone every night. Basically, none of our investigators who showed interest were actually interested. One girl just accepted our pamphlet to be nice, I guess. She played us hard! And, she had a family so that was really frustrating. I thought we had a chance with her. Two others kept telling us about how their family would not like it if they changed religions and it would cause too many problems for them. So, we really tried to tell them that we just want to help others come unto Christ and not necessarily change their religion. 


              I got the full Argentine treatment with these kind of people this week. I have noticed many things about the people this week that have kind of changed my plan of attack but there will always be a way to their hearts. We spent a lot of the week on bikes and we had a couple of bike problems that really set us back. In reality, it wasn’t a very good week for the work but I've just got to keep my head down and keep working. Working hard and giving it my all with a smile on my face is the best thing I can do! 


This Sunday was also the first Sunday with sacrament meeting in our pench and it was very different, to say the least. We had fifteen people in attendance. I think at my farewell, there were that many administering the sacrament! It made me really miss P1 but I’m grateful that we had the opportunity to partake of the sacrament. The ward family consists of three families, an older man, and a 20-year old kid. Since only a few people come to church I wonder why we even have this ward but, obviously, these people need it! There really is a purpose for me being here in this tough area and I haven’t really found it yet but I’m sure I will find it eventually. 



Attitude, effort and desires are what we control in this life so give those three things all you have and eventually something good will happen. 

I love you all so much and I am so grateful to have such a great family!!

Elder Roderick


P.S. Also, dogs suck!  They almost kill me everyday!!

Friday, September 23, 2016

HOLA MENDOZA

Hola Familia,

Final "Goodbyes" at the Provo Temple
WOW! What a relief it is to finally be back on email so I can talk with my fam. The past week was literally the LONGEST WEEK of my life. The final couple of nights I spent at the MTC were awesome! Packing was a little stressful because all of my bags weighed close to sixty pounds but I was able to get the weight down. Don't worry. And, of course, seeing my bro and his homies at the temple on Sunday was such a good feeling. Later that night we had the wonderful opportunity to hear from M. Russell Ballard. The first thing he said was, "I don’t have anything prepared so let’s hope the Spirit can guide me.” It was one of the cooolest talks I have ever heard! He is such a boss. Sunday night was also entertaining because we shaved Elder Poulson for the first time ever! Of course, I did the honors and he looked so fresh.
Monday morning the Hermanas in the district asked the Elders for blessings before our travels and it was an awesome experience! I gave Hermana Edwards a blessing and it was so cool. We took Front Runner and then Trax to the airport and it was a bit of chaos - fifty missionaries all traveling to Argentina. It was nuts! AND, of course, my awesome cousins, Jayne and Scott, just happened to be at the airport! Man! It was so good to get a big hug and chat with them about life. And, they gave me the newspaper of the BYU vs. UTAH game. LOL! It was great entertainment.
Then, my travels began. They started when I accidentally lost one of my tags in the security screening conveyor belt.  I asked a man to get it out for me and so he stopped the belt, stuck his hand in the machine and pulled out a name tag.  I didn’t notice until I was on the airplane that he gave me the wrong name tag. (Apparently, I’m not the first missionary to loose a name tag in the security line.) So, I was “Elder Mortensen” for the travels. LOL! The travels actually were rather smooth. Of course, it was really nice to be able to phone and chat with my fam and all of my other loved ones. As it turned out, I had a little bit of a panic attack on the Buenos Aires flight because I realized what was actually happening to me. I freaked out a little bit, but that only lasted a few minutes. When we arrived in Buenos Aires we dropped off fifteen of the Buenos Aires missionaries and as I said “goodbye” to Elder Allen I had to tell him about the toaster choke! Man that was hilarious!!
The Church sent a man who only spoke Spanish, of course, to help us get on our next flight and it was a nightmare. Forty missionaries had to put all of their bags in a big van and then hop on a bus to go to another airport. Some kids in our travel group had never flown before so they were freaking out in the airport and it was chaos. We took a quick trip through Buenos Aires, saw the temple and then hopped on the plane to Mendoza. This is when things got crazy.  Of course, the only language we heard was Spanish and all of us Elders were just laughing.  In fact, we got giddy as we started flying over the Andes.
President and Sister Goates greet Elder Roderick in Mendoza



We landed in San Juan and there we met President and Sister Goates.  They are really awesome. Then we had another two and half-hour drive to Mendoza and that was probably the longest part of the thirty-hour day. After we got to Mendoza they took us to a hotel where we spent the night. The hotel was really similar to a European hotel. I concluded that Mendoza has the climate of Southern California and has a poor man's European architecture. We spent the entire next day, Tuesday, at the stake center where we were basically familiarized with the mission and all of the rules and regulations it has. Kind of boring! All of the missionaries also had an interview with President Goates and he is such a boss! I really like him a lot. Hermana Goates took us on a tour of Mendoza which included a visit to the grounds where the Church intends to build a temple, but she said there won’t be one there for a long time. We saw some cool historical sites too. Later that night, we had dinner at the President's house and it was awesome. OF course we ate well and I could really feel their love. At the end, we all went onto their porch and sang a song then yelled, "HOLA MENDOZA!" It was so sweeeet.
Elder Fredrick and Elder Roderick 


On Wednesday morning, we went back to the stake center to meet our trainers. My man, Elder Fredrick, was there and we thought for certain we would be companions. HaHa! Of course, President teased us about it a little bit. I am with Elder Hyer, from WX. He is such a cool kid and a dope trainer for me. For the next three hours we had to just chill in the stake center. This gave Fredrick and me plenty of time to chat.  It was so nice! He is such a boss and he’s helped make my transition into missionary life in Mendoza a lot easier. Even though he is about five hours away from me, we still chat on the phone most nights.
Elder Hyer and Elder Roderick 


The area I’m assigned to is Salto de las Rosas and it is the “sticks” of Argentina, to say the least. It is about a three-hour bus ride to the area from Mendoza. One thing I learned this week is how big the mission actually is. It covers an area that’s bigger than California!! So, we cover a lot of ground. Our zone of San Rafael is the largest in the mission. Salto is kind of crazy. Our ward is basically an extension of a bigger ward in the city and the chapel is also our pench! So, we have a big pench, which is nice. Each week, one bishopric member from the bigger ward comes to preside over our one hour of church.
To be honest, these last couple days have been kind of rough. Adjusting to everything has been a lot to deal with. I spend most of the morning studying. My schedule is kind of whack and consists of a lot of studying because the whole town literally shuts down for siestas, which is frustrating. Our plan is to teach in the mornings too but we haven’t actually done that yet because we have had other responsibilities in the mornings. On Friday we had a district meeting at the stake center and then on Saturday we had to clean the chapel (our pench). Our area of Salto is huge and all the houses are very spread out but, we have bikes, which is really nice. We bike all day and a lot every night. We have a few investigators but they are always really flaky and it is really frustrating! I get all hyped to teach a lesson and we bike a long way to meet them, but then we get shut down. It’s tough! But, we have been able to teach some less-actives and they are all really nice and welcoming. I can never just chat with them and be myself because my Spanish isn’t too great yet and they speak really strong Castellano because we’re in the sticks. It’s like speaking English in the South or something like that. But, when I am able to share scriptures and bare testimony I can usually say what I want to say. The members just nod their heads. So, I think they can understand me.
Elder Roderick and Elder Hyer's pench (apartment)
Sunday we had ward conference so we attended the bigger ward that Salto is an extension of and it was great. Everyone was really nice about my limited Spanish and I was able to communicate a little. I understood a little bit of what was happening and I knew the topic of the talk or the lesson and that felt like an improvement. After church was the coolest part of my week. I went with one of the zone leaders to take the sacrament to the shut-ins and when we went to one man’s house, he asked us to give him a blessing too! First, I first had to consecrate my oil (luckily I had some oil in my bag) and then anoint it on the man’s head. It was really great experience. The zone leader then gave an awesome blessing. This was probably the coolest experience of the week.  Following that, we went to a member’s house for dinner and we ate so much! It was really great.
The Salto de las Rosas Chapel / Elder's pench








We spend a lot of time in the pench for studying because I have to do my language study and my "first 12 weeks" training so these last couple days have been really rough. I can only learn so much Spanish in one day and when I am listening to people I try my hardest to understand them but it's really frustrating and exhausting. I often find myself just sitting there thinking, “What in the heck am I doing here?”  Since I’ve been here, I’ve had constant doubts and trials to my faith but I know that is just the Adversary trying to discourage me. I try to read all of my encouraging scriptures and talks and keep them in my mind all day.  I guess you could say I’m just cheering myself a long when I am feeling down but, it's all good. I found an idea that has pushed me along this week in the book, "Our Search for Happiness." Elder Ballard talks about trials and all that good stuff and he councils that the LORD IS IN CONTROL. I try to keep that in my mind constantly and always remember God's plan for me. I have felt the most alone and homesick during the last couple of days, but I know the Lord is always in control and that is such a good feeling.
Overall it was a really long rollercoaster week but I know more is in store for me. On some mornings I felt as down as I ever have in my life and I realized how much the Adversary does not want me here. But, I hope I can just keep grinding! Having a loving family back home who I know cheers for me during every step I take is always encouraging! I hope that during this next week I can start getting into the routine of this mission thing!

Con Mucho Amor,


Elder Roderick

Saturday, September 10, 2016

LESSS GOOO

Hola!
                                                                                                
    
             My last week in the CCM was actually such a great week! As I start to pack up for the big ARG it feels like this place has just been one huge long day. Six weeks in this place is plenty for me and I'm for sure ready to leave, BUT I have really enjoyed my time here. Obviously, there are better places to be, but I have learned so much about the gospel, Spanish, Argentina, and myself. I feel so honored to wear the name Jesucristo on my badge every day. 
Talo and Elder Roderick 
Saying “Goodbye” to my man, Marv, Talo and some Elders in our district was a tough way to start the week but during our Tuesday night devotional we heard from the one and only Christofferson! He and his wife talked about "Teaching repentance and baptizing converts." It was an international broadcast to all of the MTCs in the world so it was kind of a big deal. Elder Amann answered a question and so we were on TV for a little bit LOL! I was smirking so hard and I felt like I didn't know how to handle myself and people said I looked like such a scrub. Also, Tuesday morning, instead of doing a session in the temple we did initiatories. It was my first time doing them since doing it for myself and it was sooo nice. I love going to the temple every week and I'm sure going to miss it for the next two! 
In class on Wednesday our teacher sent us out onto the MTC streets to do "contacting." LOL! It was actually kind of fun. Let's just say everyone that spoke Spanish (including the construction workers) were spoken to! I can't wait to be doing it forrealz in a few days! We skyped again on Thursday with an old lady from Canada who spoke Spanish and it was so fun. Literally, all of our investigators, besides our teachers, have been old ladies! HAHA! I love them so much. Amann took a screenshot of our skype in the middle of it and it was soooo funny.
We also had an in-field orientation yesterday and it was actually pretty fun. They taught us a lot about how to find people and work with members.  They also gave us a long talk about basic stuff we need to know so we don't give the Church a bad name out in the field. We did SOO many role plays it got very annoying and I can't tell you how tired I am of teaching fakes! Literally, I have heard the same fake story for weeks. But, besides that, orientation was actually really fun except that we had to practice teaching in English. As I was teaching, I kept throwing in random Spanish words and it was bad. I guess being biligual is now both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing that I'm really learning Spanish and a curse that I can't speak English anymore.
Amann and I also went running again yesterday morning, way early, and since the Russians didn't wake up we just ran by ourselves and then put in some body weight work back at the room. It always feels so nice to get a good sweat going! And, I put on my Lulu underwear to workout and it felt a little bit like heaven, if I'm being honest. 
As I approached these last few days I wanted to make sure I wasn't getting complacent with my studies and especially the language. I learned a ton more this week and I am starting to feel comfortable with Spanish. But, I know it will be a totally different story when I land in Buenos Aires on Tuesday morning! I'm also trying to read a lot in the El Libro de Mormon and trying to finish by Halloween! President Hinckley said if you study a language and read the Book of Mormon in that language, by the end of your reading, you should feel almost fluent! What a boss man!
A highlight this week was getting a letter from the Flandro Family yesterday! It was so nice to hear from them! An exciting event was that an Elder in our room got pink eye on Tuesday and so trying to stay away from him has been an adventure. Honestly, everyone in the District has been sick at one point except me so I'm really counting my blessings. Also, hearing from an apostle was a major highlight!
Elder Roderick with Maribel, an investigator, & Elder Amann
I'm actually a little sad to leave this place. I can't believe I'm actually saying that but, it will be really bittersweet when I'm flying over SLC on Monday. I am so grateful for my time in Provo (besides the BYU aspect, of course) and I’m especially grateful for all of the people in the MTC.  While I was here I met so many awesome kids and I loved all of my teachers. It was especially such a blessing to be here with my best friends! Seeing them everyday and being able to chat with them has been such a blessing and I will miss them so much!
My next E-mail will be from MENDOZA, Baby! I'm sure these next couple of days will be really crazy and such test of my faith but I'm so excited to get out there and actually start serving!

Mucho amor,


Elder Roderick