Sunday, January 29, 2017

Hola 25 de Mayo!

"Goodbye" Daniel and Carla
Wow! What a week it was down in the ARG! It was probably the most exhausting week of my mission, so far. On Monday night, I kissed Salto “Goodbye.” I also had to say, “Goodbye” to all of my homies whom I came to love so much. To be honest, it was pretty hard to leave them. A mission is always full of changes and unfortunately some of these changes include saying, “Goodbye” to people and never knowing when or if you’ll see them again.
On Tuesday morning, I hopped on the bus to San Luis.  It was four long hours in the middle of nowhere Argentina. LOL. Then, I had another two-hour ride to Villa Mercedes, which is my new area. We are still apart of the San Luis Stake but Villa Mercedes is it’s own little town. There are two wards here with two sets of missionaries and a we have a ton of ground to cover. Our area is soooo big and we walk everywhere, so I come back to the pench dog tired every night. But, that’s a good thing. There are tons of houses to knock and the people here are so nice and welcoming. Literally, at the first house I knocked here we were able to set up an appointment. But a new area, means new accents and the people in this town are from all over so each person has their own little way of talking which has been frustrating. It’s definitely a good challenge for me.
"Goodbye" Elder Mena and Salto de las Rosas 
My new comp, Elder Martinez, is such a boss. He is almost 22-years old and has been a member of the Church for less than two and half years. He has been on his mission for one year and he became a member only a year and half before he left. He got in contact with the missionaries through a friend and was baptized 4 months later. The missionaries found him at a really trying time in his life. At age 17, he was living alone, supporting himself and running with a pretty tough crowd. He has a lot of stories :).  But as a missionary it is so nice to have his testimony and his personal experiences to share with investigators and everyone we talk with.
The work in Villa Mercedes is really going strong.  This week we basically ran all over the place from one appointment to another and we were always so busy. We have a really nice pool of investigators right now, including a lot of couples with young kids and a couple of teenagers. I’m still trying to remember everyone’s name but next week I’ll be able to provide more details about the work. One cool thing we did this week though was knock on a “menos active” door and they were so welcoming. Since Elder Martinez hadn’t contacted them before we weren’t expecting anything but they invited us inside. We got in there and saw that they have this type of dog called a “dogo,” which is the MOST dangerous type of dog. Of course, this family has three of them! So, one of the first houses I entered here and I find out they have three of these beasts! The family saw that we didn’t know what to do so they had to teach us how to handle ourselves with the dog. I sat down like they said and the dog came running towards me and I was freaking out inside thinking, “This dog is going to eat me,” but then everything seemed cool so I went to pet it and apparently, I did something wrong with my hand and the dog started freaking out and the owner had to yank it away from me. I turns out that I didn’t have the confidence of the dog yet so, I couldn’t pet it. I was so confused and freaked out and my companion was just laughing. It was awful! To make things even better (or worse), one of the dogs just had 14 little puppies so, we’ll see how that goes. But, we had two awesome lessons with this family and when Sunday rolled around we were able to take the Hermana to church with us.  It was the first time she’d been to church in almost four years. It truly was a great experience. I like to think of “menos activos” as people who are dangling from a cliff and they just need someone to come help them get back on their feet. 
Killer "Dogo" 
Sunday was such a good experience because it was my first full block of church meetings since I’ve been in the mission field. We had 70 people in church and for Argentina, that is really good. It was the best feeling to be surrounded my families, little kids and just more people. One of the best parts about the Church is the family aspect and in reality, we are all one big family and I felt the love of my new family here in Villa Mercedes so much. 
We also have a new schedule here because people are more available later in the night so we work until 10-10:30 in the night and don’t fall asleep until 11:30. I still wake up at 6:30 because it’s just a habit now. Since we work late in the night we can take an hour nap during the siesta. So, I just grind in the morning and try to stay awake. Then, after a big meal with the members, I take a nap for an hour. It’s pretty awesome! I’m not going to lie.
I’m so happy here in my new area and it’s been an adventure adjusting to everything. Even so, I love the change. Like coach Benson would always say, “You’re either getting better or getting worse, never staying the same.”
I’m so humbled to be a missionary during this time and it is truly an honor to share the Restored Gospel and be a servant of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Much love!!

Elder Roderick

Friday, January 20, 2017

Chao Salto

Hola Familia,
Well, the big news of the week is that I’ll be leaving the little town of Salto and I am off to San Luis to the area 25 de Mayo. I will be with Elder Martinez who is a Chileano and I’m soooo excited. San Luis is known as the “heaven” in the mission because it is 3 hours east of Mendoza and it is really green and different from the rest of the mission. I have heard nothing but good things about the area, the work, and the members so I’m pumped! To be honest, I’m a little sad to be leaving my little pueblito of Salto and especially the people I have come in contact with. Even so, change is always a good thing.
This week I had a big plan to go out and try to find people who have become inactive in the church, have been a menos activo for a long time, and basically anyone else within the area who we could invite to Sacrament Meeting. This means, like every week in Salto, we were all over the map. One night we went out to a little neighborhood which is about 45 minutes on bike to find some people and as soon as we got there I felt my bike tire slowly lose air. Then, before I knew it, there was nothing left in the tire. So, that night my plan failed big time and we ended up walking for 2 hours L. But on our way back, we stopped in a little tiny store to buy a Coke and we told some random family our sob story and they let us into their home. We talked with them for almost 30 minutes about what we do as missionaries. It was the coolest experience! They were so sweet and so interested in what we are doing and I felt the need to share something with them but every time I tried to bring up some of our doctrine the subject got changed.
But, my plan to bring people to Sacrament Meeting actually paid off pretty well. We had the second highest Sacrament Meeting attendance that I’ve had here in Salto, which is always a reward. One of the consequences of spending so much time on the bike was that on two of the days this week I think I had some heat exhaustion or something. It consisted of some bad headaches and dizziness but it eventually passed. I’m really conscious about drinking 5 liters of water everyday so I really don’t know what happened. 
One of the highlights of the week was being reunited with my boy, Francisco! He had spent the last few weeks in Buenos Aires and we were able to catch up this week. He’s such a stud! He told us that he is just waiting until he is 18 so he can have some freedom in his life and one of the things he can be free to do is become baptized. He has a tough family situation and I’ve learned a ton about him.  I really hope and pray for the best for him.
Another highlight was being able to do service this week! We went to the police station to help them clean up and it was a great opportunity to be present in the community and just help people. We also helped our awesome member, Hermano Eibar, with his farm this week.  Like the last time we helped him, I was so tired after 3 hours in the field. Tossing and moving dirt is tough stuff! I eventually dunked my head in a nearby river and it was the best feeling.
One thing I tried to do this week was ask myself, at the end of the day, “Have I done everything I could today to help others come unto Christ and fulfill my purpose as a missionary?” Some nights I felt good about the work we did, but on other nights I felt like we could have knocked on a couple more doors or made a couple more street contacts.
I’m a little sad to be leaving the people of Salto and especially Daniel, Carla, and Francisco who are all so ready to be baptized, but there are some things that are restricting them. It has been a little frustrating for me teach people and not be able to take them into the waters of baptism because I believe they have gained testimonies of this restored gospel. But, the most important thing is that they are on the right path and will be baptized soon. There’s not a doubt in my mind. 
I love you all so much! I’m so humbled to be a missionary and help people come unto Christ every day!

Much love,

Elder Roderick

Friday, January 13, 2017

Planting Seeds

Well, I have another week down in Salto and it was a pretty good week! We started this week by having interviews with President Goates. I really am so grateful to have a President who cares so much about me personally, one whom I can talk with about anything I want to. When I met with him, I asked him about “losing myself in the work” and about how I can put all my heart, might, mind and strength into the people who I come in contact with. He gave me some really good advice about how to do that and it was exciting to put it into play this week.
At the beginning of the week we had exchanges with some other Elders and as always, it was really fun to be in a different area where I could meet and talk with new people. During this particular exchange, I was with Elder Aguilar who is from Arizona. He has only been in the mission for a couple more months than I have, so our weak Spanish made it was a little interesting, but it was still tons of fun. We actually worked in the area where the Hermanas in our District are assigned. We did what is called a “white storm” which means the whole Zone was there, just knocking on as many doors as we could for 2 hours. It was actually really fun, especially because we were all together.
Probably the most exciting part of the week was joining with the Salto community to put in some serious work in the fields! One of our members has a10-acre fruit and vegetable farm. His mom is very sick right now so we jumped at the opportunity to help him. He actually makes a tomato sauce out of his tomatoes and sells it so, he really needs his harvest to pay for his living. We put in about 2.5 hours of work and it was truly something I will never forget. We moved all kinds of dirt and fertilizer all over the place. (I think they were homemade fertilizers because of the beautiful smell.) To say the least, it was nothing like mowing the lawn or pulling some weeds on 2350 Berkeley Street. 
We were challenged this week when we had to push back Carla’s baptismal date so she and Daniel can have more time think about getting married. To be honest, I was pretty bummed about it but, this also caused me to look back at the progress they have made since we started teaching them. I’m trying to recognize the positive side of their situation and remind myself that they have improved so much and truly are a stronger family.
One thing Elder Mena and I are trying to do right now is strengthen the Salto Ward. Our Sacrament Meeting numbers haven’t been looking too good lately so we talked with our members about helping us contact inactive members and former investigators of the Church who still live relatively close. Also, after sacrament meeting we had a council meeting with some of the members.  During this meeting, we made appointments with them to go talk with other ward members.  Our plan is to boost the ward a little bit by getting ALL members to come to Sunday meetings. One thing I have really noticed is how important the members are to missionary work. Truly, we need their help to have success and I’m really hoping and praying we can gain their trust more and strengthen them so we can strengthen the entire ward.
This coming week is the last week of the transfer, which is crazy! It seems to be that Elder Mena and I will be separated soon, which is sad.  Even so, change is always a good thing!
I hope all of you are enjoying the fresh powder up in the mountains and skiing as much as possible for me while I am sweating my bum off on the bike!

Paz y Amor,

Elder Roderick