Wednesday, December 20, 2017

A White Christmas

Another 6 weeks has passed by which means we had transfers again but nothing changed here in San Luis!  I’ll be here with Elder Hobbs for another 6 weeks and I’m way pumped about it!  We just wrapped up one of the best transfers I’ve had, so we’re excited to have 6 more weeks together.

            So, it’s summer here in Argentina and in San Luis the weather is even more bi-polar than it is at home in Utah.  On Saturday, the heat got up to 48 Celsius (104° Fahrenheit) and legit, it was like an oven outside.  We were dying of heat and humidity then, out of nowhere, a storm came and it started to hail!  It was still 85° outside and it was hailing. It was whack! But, it’s safe to say we won’t be having a weather determined “White Christmas” so we compromised and had some baptisms instead.  Our white clothing made for an awesome “White Christmas!” Haha!
Elder Hobbs, Miguel, Elder Roderick & Augustin 

            On Saturday, Miguel was baptized! It was such a beautiful service and the happiest person there was his son, Augustin! Elder Hobbs baptized him, I gave a talk at the service and everything worked out so well.  Then, on Sunday, the bishop gave Miguel the Holy Ghost and he was presented to the ward as our newest member.  He was welcomed in with open arms!  It was a very special weekend.
            On Friday night, we invited all of the youth and their parents to a little park in the area and we basically went Christmas caroling by singing Christmas hymns to all of the people in the park.  We tried to form a crowd, but that didn’t work out too well so we just walked around to each table and sang to all of the families who were there.  We had the youth run around and pass out “Ilumina El Mundo” cards and those who had smart phones, shared the video. It was a great time and a ton of people were grateful to hear our message that night.

            We had a couple of great lessons with Matias and Dalma this week. We talked a lot about the Plan of Salvation, Family History and Temple work.  These topics were just what they needed to hear about because Matias has already been looking for his ancestors and when we told him the Church has the best technology for genealogy work, his eyes lit up like a Christmas tree!  We are excited for them and we hope they will be our next investigators who will take a swim in the waters of baptism!

            We also found another couple, Carlos and Carolina, who are old investigators.  Carlos is actually a less active member who travels on the weekends to see his kids.  They live in another city with their mother, who he divorced a while ago.  Now he is with Carolina and they are such homies.  Carolina was about to get baptized, but she couldn’t because she and Carlos weren’t married and he was having trouble with his divorce papers.  Now, however, they aren’t going to be living together because Carlos is moving near his kids and they’ve decided not to live together until they’re married.  So, this situation makes it possible for us to baptize Carolina in a few weeks.  They told us about this whole deal on Friday and it was such an awesome Christmas gift.  Haha!

            I was talking with my companion about Christmas and how it’s so different in the mission field.  It’s really different but it’s also so special because we don’t receive many gifts (apparently, Santa doesn’t visit missionaries) and we aren’t with our families but we are giving the best gift and that is the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ! I’m so excited for this next week because we’re getting ready for Christmas by having a party or event literally every night.

Elder Roderick    #Habr├íLugarEnTuCasa? 

Saturday, December 16, 2017

“You Just Got to Have Faith, Brother”

Here in San Luis, we have what is called “Merendero” which translates to “afternoon snack.”  Merendero is provided by the government for the children on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. There is a designated house in every neighborhood which receives the food and hands it out to the children. So, since the missionaries are still technically “children,” we tried to get on the list for a free afternoon snack, but it didn’t work. So, we talked to the people who are in charge of the Merendero and they made us “exceptions” to the rule. Haha! So, now in almost every neighborhood we work in, we get a free afternoon snack on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The “two lost Gringos” are really making their way up in San Luis!
The BIG event that happened this week is that we traveled to San Juan for a capacitaci├│n (training) from Alan Packer, the son of Apostle Boyd K. Packer. Elder Packer is a 70 from the Area and it was a great experience to be with one of the Church leaders and just feel the spirit that he carries with him. We received capacitaci├│n from Elder Packer, his wife and President and Sister Panzacchi for the entire day.  We talked about the faith that is necessary in missionary work. We also talked about the importance of the Holy Ghost as our third companion in the companionship and what we can do to have this gift with us all the time.  Then, Elder Packer gave us some tips about how to teach so our investigators understand our message and the doctrine.  We received a lot of helpful instruction in a short amount of time, which made my head feel like it was exploding but it was a great experience to be with one the inspired leaders of our church. Due to our travels, I also got to sleep in my old pench in Krause and I was able to hook up with some homies in my last area.
Our travels also made our work week in San Luis shorter than usual. Even so, we are seeing some great progress with Matias and Dalma, who are the children of a less active member of our ward.  Our lessons with them are so great because they are very interested in our message. When Dalma was younger, she studied the Bible with the Jehova’s Witnesses so she has a lot of knowledge about their point of view. We met them because they asked us for a blessing because Matias quit his job because he is troubled by depression.  So, now they are trying to get everything back in order in their lives and gain a better relationship with God. Dalma also knows a little bit of English so it’s always fun to chat with her in English.  Our lessons are so spiritual and it just seems like they have been prepared for our message!
On Sunday, during our Gospel Principles class, two things happened. First, one of the investigators asked us what our life is like as missionaries and wanted to know how it is possible that we have the Spirit with us, a smile on our faces and such a powerful presence. For some reason, everyone looked at me to answer.  So, I answered by talking about all of the blessings we receive as missionaries.  I also talked about the power of prayer.  As missionaries, we pray a ton and I have no doubt that prayer helps us have such a powerful and special presence.  This experience has made me appreciate how cool it is that people can actually feel the Spirit when we are around.
Next, during the class, Juan, our recent convert, talked about all of the changes he’s made and he told us that his friends have noticed that he is truly different.  Early in our relationship with him, we had a cool experience that shows how he is an influence and example to his friends.  Once when we were having a lesson with him at his home, one of his friends came by.  The friend asked Juan if he had to pay for our lessons and Juan humbly responded, “No, you just gotta have faith, Brother.” Juan’s friends have noticed his change and they want to be more like him. I love Juan’s phrase and I am so excited to see the progress that Juan will make.
Have a great week! All my love,

Elder Roderick    


Sunday, December 10, 2017

An Evangelical Pastor - Round II

The BEST part of this week is that December has started! Our big focus now, as missionaries, is the Church’s initiative #LightTheWorld. Basically, our main purpose each day, other that teaching lessons we’ve arranged, is to spread this message to everyone we encounter.  One night this week, Elder Hobbs and I walked around and offered chocolate milk to people in our area and then once they were interested, we’d offer to show them the Christmas video that the Church made.  By sharing the message of #LightTheWorld we’re already full of Christmas spirit and it’s helped us get into more homes too.
On Tuesday, one of the Assistants came to our area to go on an exchange and see how Elder Hobbs and I are working together.  As it turned out, we didn’t have a lunch appointment on Tuesday, so we called the bishop to tell him that the assistant wanted to talk to him about the ward and missionary work. We made all of this up, just to get an awesome lunch from the bishops’ wife.  But, it worked perfectly because they served us a great meal and they had no clue that we set them up for lunch! Also, the bishop’s son, without knowing we’d brought the assistant to lunch, walked into join us and the first thing he said was, “This Elder has the face of an Assistant.”  Elder Hobbs and I were dying of laughter.  Our lunch date and exchange with the Assistant couldn’t have worked out more perfectly.
Since we had baptisms last week, we are desperate for a few more investigators. So, we spent a lot of timing knocking doors this week.  One night, as we were knocking doors, trying to share a Christmas video with people, we saw a little church tucked right into the middle of a neighborhood. At first, we thought the church was just a house, but right as we were about to knock on the door, we realized it was actually a church.  This made us hesitate to knock.  However, I thought to myself, “What’s the worst that could happen?” so we knocked and introduced ourselves.  The family immediately let us in and offered us pizza and soda and told us to make ourselves at home.  As we talked with the family, we learned that the man of the house is a pastor and he has his own church. He also told us that he is “Christo,” which means Christ in Spanish.  I was taken back and I actually thought, “This dude is nuts,” but then he clarified that his last name is Christo. Haha! We continued talking and then the man told us that he is a gypsy! So, he’s an evangelical Pentecostal pastor who is a gypsy! We had a good little chat and he took us on tour of his church.  During the tour, I started to play his piano a little bit and now he’s trying to get me to play for him every week. The whole thing was a pretty crazy experience but the man was so nice and we even left him with a Book of Mormon. As we were leaving the last thing he said was, “Quit preaching about Joseph Smith and become an evangelical pastor!” Elder Hobbs and I were dying of laughter. It was a pretty hilarious way to end the night.     
This week as we were teaching Augustin, we decided to focus our lesson on Miguel, his dad. Miguel has always been present during our lessons with Augustin, but since he is so focused on having Augustin listen to us, he really never thinks about applying our lessons to himself. So, this week, we specifically taught Miguel about baptism and the Priesthood and we extended a baptismal invitation to him and he accepted! It took some convincing to get him to take this step, but after church on Sunday he felt a lot more confident and he’s getting excited for his upcoming baptism!

Have a great week!                                                                 

Elder Roderick