Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Small in Number but Strong in Spirit

My first transfer in the field is in the books! What a great six weeks it has been and this week was another great one!
I thought the Ls were over on Monday, but I was wrong. We tried to replace the gas but the two of us gringos don’t know a ton about how to actually do that, so long story short, we ended up breaking a tube that went from the gas tank to the pipe. Dad always taught me “Righty Tighty” and “Lefty Loosey” but apparently that doesn’t work here in the ARG. On Tuesday, we tried to buy a new tube, but the store was closed so we weren’t able to replace it until Wednesday. It was a couple of long, cold days. Of course, the days without gas were the only days that it has rained here. So, it was great timing! It basically rained all of Tuesday and Wednesday and this really slowed us down because everyone lives so far away!
But, on Wednesday, a little miracle happened. We were able to find Daniel, an investigator we have been looking for since I arrived here. We were able to teach him about the Restoration and the Book of Mormon. Literally, it was almost a miracle that we found him. He also has a wife and a daughter, so that is really exciting!! We ran into him two more times this weekend (Yes, after not seeing him for a month, we saw him three times in four days.) and he said he is excited to talk to us again. Yay! It feels so gratifying to see some rewards from our weeks of hard work!
The bad news of the week is that our man, Segundo, is going to visit his family in Buenos Aires for twenty days.  That means “Bye Bye” to his baptismal date. 
On Saturday, we attended our first baptism and it was amazing. It really was a great spiritual experience and I'm praying that a baptism can be ours soon too!  The lady who got baptized is a new mother and when we were singing and waiting for the crowd to come back to the chapel, she started to breast feed her baby right on the front row. I guess that’s one way to celebrate being baptized! But, in all seriousness, it was a great ceremony and an awesome spiritual experience.
In Sacrament Meeting this week, we had the opportunity to hear from the Bishop of the larger ward that we are a part of and he said something that really stood out to me. He said, “We had a few members who had the great opportunity to go to the temple!” (We are soooo lucky to have so many temples near us.) Then, the Bishop talked about their experience in the temple and about how strong the Spirit was. While looking at Elder Hyer and me, he said, “We don’t need a congregation of 300 to feel the spirit. Our 15 people in Salto de Las Rosas feel the exact same Spirt as a congregation of 300 in Salt Lake.” This comment really struck me. Of course, I miss the large P1 building with hundreds of people in Sacrament Meeting but the number of people in attendance doesn’t necessarily mean the Spirit is stronger there. Even with only 15 people in Sacrament Meeting each Sunday I’m so lucky to feel the same powerful feeling of the Spirit as I do in P1. Even though we are tiny in number, the strong Spirit will always strengthen us!!
After Sacrament  Meeting, I saw Santiago, who is a 21-year old member, pay his tithing and it was such a cool experience for me. Santiago doesn’t have much at all.  In fact, he has a bad family situation and as I watched him make the sacrifice to pay his tithing, I couldn’t help but think, “WHAT A STUD!” Obviously, paying tithing is a commandment, but it was really cool for me to witness Santiago’s sacrifice. 
With the enormous amounts of rain and our multiple trips downtown, the work was a little slower than we hoped this week, but we are lucky to have some investigators. We still struggle to get people to come to church and partake of the Sacrament, but that will come with time. I swear, each week we get closer and closer to getting more people to come to Sacrament Meeting, but that will happen real soon!!
My favorite scripture of the week is Alma 38:9.
“And now my son, I have told you this that ye may learn wisdom, that ye may learn of me that there is no other way or means whereby man can be saved, only in and through Christ. Behold he is the life and light of the world. Behold he is the word and truth and righteousness.”

Have a good week!

Elder Roderick

Friday, October 21, 2016

Makin' Progress but Still Takin' Ls

Hola Familia,                                                                                                       
Wow!  What a week it was here in Salto. We started off the week with exchanges and it was a great experience for me. Elder Hyer and I joined Elder Toone and Elder Transtrum in Parque Molino.  Oh my gosh! We walked so much. It made me miss the bikes. It is really starting to get hot here and after a full day of walking, I was dying. Parque Molino is very different from Salto; with big full neighborhoods and tons of people in the street, which made walking around so much more fun. We met with a lot of less actives and and it was so fun to meet new people and see new places!
Back in Salto we had a great week; probably our best yet. We were able to find Segundo on Friday and we had a great lesson with him about the Plan of Salvation. Some things kind of confused him so we simplified it as much as possible and we could tell he was really feeling something. At the end of the lesson we extended a baptismal invitation and he accepted!! Yay!! This was one of the coolest experiences I’ve had so far. He is the perfect candidate to be baptized. So, hopefully we can get him ready and he can see the light!
The rides to and from Segundo´s house were pretty grueling because of the heat and we even had to go back to his neighborhood twice in one day to follow up with a previous contact, a lady name Delis who is really sweet. Like most Argentines, she believes in Christ and says she has a lot of faith so hopefully we can help her strengthen that faith! I was so dead after that long day of biking but the success we had was so worth it!
Saturday was an adventure! Oh my gosh! It rained pretty hard in the afternoon and all of the roads were very muddy and it´s impossible to ride bikes in mud. Unfortunately, our appointments were far away so we had to walk and it took forever. We were literally in the middle of nowhere but, it was soooo pretty. Everything was really green and there were tons of trees. It was awesome. We visited a recent covert who is really old and can’t come to church and then we went to visit a less active couple to invite them to church. Both were great meetings. When we were walking back we could see lightning from multiple directions and then we felt a couple raindrops. Then, before we knew it, it was hailing on us! It was raining sideways and we still had 30 minutes to walk so let´s just say we took so many Ls. Everything about us was absolutely soaked: all of our clothes & shoes and all of our books. It was pretty miserable. We walked into the store to buy some food and we looked like a couple of hungry homeless people. It was bad! Then, we walked into our pench to find out that our gas had run out. We were wet, cold, hungry, and didn’t have any way to cook the food we bought. SO MANY Ls!!
Sunday was Mother’s Day here in the ARG and I thought this would mean a lot of people would attend church, but it was the opposite.  Of course, the people we met with said they would come, but they never showed up, including all of our investigators. It can be really discouraging when only nine people attend Sacrament Meeting but that number will be going up soon!
After church, we had to find a way to cook our meat without gas and we were able to find some wet wood. It was nearly impossible to start a fire but it ended up working out and our meal was nothing short of gourmet! I have running water, a roof over my head and a bed, so I have nothing to complain about!
This week was a big improvement from our last couple weeks and we saw a couple of our prayers answered. Experiences like that make all the bad days and weeks so worth it. Like always, we still need to find more investigators but the work is slowly progressing. Patience is a virtue!
Again, I learned so much this week and I had some unforgettable experiences. Each night when I arrive back at the pench, I am so exhausted and I always sleep like a baby. But, that is such a good feeling. My Spanish is slowly coming along and although it really tests me sometimes, I’m learning to have fun with it!
This week I read in Alma 13 and I really loved verse 28: “But that ye would humble yourselves before the Lord and call on His holy name, and watch and pray continually, that ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear, and thus he led by the Holy Spirit, becoming humble, meek, submissive, patient, full of love and long suffering,” I love this scripture and it really touched me when I read it!  Hope you guys have a great week!!

Elder Roderick

We went to Valle Grande today and it was so fun! It looks a ton like Zions and Lake Powell and it me a little homesick but, it was soooo pretty!!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

A Bump in the Road

Hola Amigos,                                                                                               

Another week down here in the 264! This week wasn’t the most exciting week but it was still pretty good. I’m really starting to enjoy myself here in Salto and every day gets better and better. There are still plenty of moments that test my patience but the good moments always overpower the bad ones.
Salto de las Rosas Zone 
We started this week with our zone meeting and this was really fun because it was the first time I met all those who serve in our whole zone. Our zone of San Rafael covers a huge area so we don’t get many chances to all be together. Last P-day we played tons of games together and cooked some yummy chorizo sausages. Tuesday we had our zone meeting and it was awesome to all be together. We made some T-Shirts for each of us in the zone and they turned out really cool. “Iron Rod” has officially taken over.
This week we wanted to find some new investigators to increase our pool and to be honest, it was nothing short of a nightmare. We went to a stretch of houses and the first house we knocked on had about seven dogs that went absolutely crazy and this set off a bomb! I swear, every house on the street also had seven dogs and so trying to talk to people and attempting to let the Spirit testify to these people was literally impossible. The dogs in Argentina are forever testing my patience.
One of the highlights of the week was receiving my first haircut in the ARG and it was an interesting experience. Let’s just say that my haircut vocabulary isn’t the best right now so I couldn’t tell what the lady was asking me.  So, I basically just said “Si” to everything she asked. My hair ended up looking like a really high bowl cut. So, my man, Elder Hyer, used my beard trimmer and went to town on my hair. At least he made it look presentable. It was a very good opportunity to build companionship unity. 
First Haircut
This week we had some big plans for our investigator, Segundo, and we had to strategically plan around him because his house is a 40-minute bike ride away. The first time we went to see him, he wasn’t there when he said he would be and that was frustrating. We went back on Friday and he couldn’t talk because his family was visiting. I had really high hopes for him this week but we operate within the Lord’s timing and I just have to remember that Segundo will come along at his own pace. 
After going to Segundo’s house we started riding back to Salto and along our way we saw a girl's field hockey team practicing.  My man, Hyer, was a little preoccupied by the sight and as we rode by his tire slipped on something and he hit a little road barrier and went flying off his bike in front of the whole team. Oh man! It was sooooo funny! I was dying. Of course, I made sure he was “okay” before I laughed. The field hockey coach even helped him put his chain back on. It was classic!  I’m just glad my comp is alright!
We had a great lesson with Francisco this week and he seems ready to get baptized but he hasn’t been coming to church, which has been frustrating for us. He accepts our message and believes in everything we teach, but he never comes to church. UGHHHHH. Over the last few weeks, I’ve really learned about patience and the will of God. Since our area is so big, we can’t visit everyone and it really messes up our schedule when someone isn’t home because our other appointments are so far away. Elder Hyer and I are really trying hard to find more people and we have specifically set planned appointments with some who are interested, but we haven’t had much success. Cell phones and appointments aren’t a really big thing here and so its difficult to track down who we want all the time.    
There is a lot of potential and possibility in this area and we’re really starting to gain momentum but, there are still plenty of nights that I find myself really discouraged. Even so, the special moments in the week and helping others come unto Christ make it all worth it. It’s difficult to push people to make a leap of faith, but I know our Heavenly Father has a plan for them. 
This week I had an interview with President Goates and during it we talked about the difficulties we were having in the Salto area. He also asked me about all of the blessings I have in this life and he specifically asked me what I have learned from these blessings. It made me realize that I haven’t learned much at all from my blessings! It’s the times when we are really broken down and we feel like we are nothing that we learn! At times, we are broken down in all aspects of life and as life becomes too tough, we should endure with confidence, faith, and hope.  This is when we will grow the most and eventually, we’ll be grateful for our trials. 
There are some days that really test me but I can already see how much I am changing, while I help other people receive this gospel. I love being a missionary and I’m grateful for tough weeks because I know they will eventually strengthen me!
I love my family and appreciate the support they give me every week! They always give me the push I need! This next week will be a great one!

Elder Roderick