Sunday, February 26, 2017

Not Invited to the Dance

This week was one where the days were long and hot but full of work so, it flew by! 
I learned a couple of things about Argentina this week.  First, never ask anyone about the Falcon Islands, which are at the bottom of the country, because you will be lectured for thirty minutes about "what really happened" in the war with England.  I also learned that in some cemeteries the caskets are put into little rooms where, through a window, you can see the caskets which are full of dead people.  This was a pretty scary discovery for me.  While we were walking through a cemetery this week, I had the creeps!
            As far as the work goes, we had a busy week. We have a decent pool of investigators right now and it is so gratifying to see them progress in their special ways. For some, it’s trying to pray and read the scriptures, while for others, it’s trying to quit smoking or drinking. Each person we come in contact with has their unique need, so this requires us to be on top of our game to first, identify the need and second, to help find a solution. This is what missionary work is all about!
            We were able to fix baptism dates for our boys, Pedro and Francisco, who are the grandsons of a menos activo we've been teaching. We are teaching the boys' parents and other brother but since Pedro and Francisco are always at their grandma's house, we've been able to teach them on a more consistent basis. Both boys are such studs, but like all teenagers during the summer months, they like to do whatever they want. Sometimes we have to whip them into shape and remind them that they can't just play soccer all day, everyday. We've taught them all of the missionary lessons and they have relationships with the ward members so their future as members looks promising. I'm pumped for them! This week they asked us what they need to do in order to pass the sacrament and I thought that was the coolest thing! 
            This weekend our ward had a youth dance with the other ward in Villa Mercedes.  Since I'm still 18 years-old and technically the age of a "young man" I tried all week long to convince the leaders that I should allowed to attend the dance, but it didn't work.  I guess my Spanish isn't clear enough so I'm not too convincing. Even so, the dance was a success for us because a couple of our investigators attended and they had a blast which makes our job as missionaries so much easier. Instead of searching for friends within the Church for our investigators, they are already there... just waiting on the dance floor.  LOL!
            One of the bummer parts of the week was getting a text from one of the families we are teaching telling us that they aren't in the position to receive us anymore. This was so disappointing because we had a couple of awesome lessons with them and they had tons of questions for us.  I realize, however, that his is just the process as a missionary. Everyone has their agency and it's a tough lesson to accept sometimes.
            A few weeks ago, during our weekly planning session, we went through our phone and called a bunch of people in our contacts who we didn't know.  We did this to see if we could find more people to teach. One of the people we contacted was Leila.  Leila is 22 years-old and she received the sister missionaries a while ago but she doesn't remember much about what they taught her.  She works a ton so she's hard to meet with but we had a pretty cool lesson with her this week.  She had some bad things happen with her marriage and now she is in the process of getting a divorce. Consequently, she's asking a lot of "why?" questions right now.  In our lessons, she grills us with questions and gives us "homework" for the next lesson.  Sometimes she’s a real tough cookie to crack but she's very receptive to our message and after we taught her about the Word of Wisdom, she even stopped smoking. She's looking for something more in her life and let's just hope we have it for her.
            We were also able to teach Nano (yes, like IPod Nano) again, the boyfriend of one of our young women. Like me, he was disappointed that he couldn't go to the dance on Friday night. While teaching him this week, we learned that his mom is a member of the Church. She was baptized when she was 18 years-old but when she moved from Mendoza, she stopped attending church. We were so excited to hear this!  Now, we've just got to find this lady so we can reactivate her while teaching Nano. Nano is such a stud!  He's started to play soccer with us on P-Days and while we play, he makes me look like an absolute fool. He has also been attending church with us every Sunday, so the future is BRIGHT for him!
            I hope everyone enjoyed Valentine’s Day with all the lovey dovey stuff.  I sure missed not attending Highland High on Valentine’s Day because I always looked forward to seeing the life-size teddy bears all over the place! 
            Also, our bishop showed us the video of the MoTab singing "America the Beautiful" at the inauguration of Donald Trump and that was way sick! “SO” to the MoTab!
            Keep it real and have a great week,
            Elder Roderick 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Just Doing My Thing

Hola Familia,                                                                                             

This week was another solid one in Villa Mercedes. The weather has started to cool down, which has made walking the streets a lot more enjoyable. On Wednesday morning, it rained like crazy and for some reason, sewers don't exist in Argentina so all of the rain water was just running down the streets.  It looked like we had a small river in front of our pench.
            We started the week in San Luis because we had a Super P-Day with all of our Zone and all of the Chileans in the Zone made us some Chilean food.  It was way fun! Later that night we did some intercambios (exchanges) and we ended up talking with a drunk guy who told us how bad the United States is right now because of Donald Trump. (We actually have conversations like this constantly because apparently, the Argentines hate Donald Trump.) On Tuesday morning, we had our Zone Meeting and our focus was on helping our investigators attend church with us.  We also shared strategies for finding new people, which is something we can always work on.  In the last three weeks, we've traveled to San Luis for different meetings where we've learned how to become better missionaries and more effective teachers. It has been really nice to put these things into play during the weeks.
            This week we did a lot of work with the menos activos in the ward with the goal of helping them come to church with us on Sunday. We had a really cool experience with one of them. We met Hermana Monsilla in San Luis last week when she called us over to chat for a while. While talking with her we learned that her son died only 2 months ago and she was feeling really lost. We were able to get back in touch with her this week to address her needs and help her. We were also able to talk with Hermana Monsilla's 15-year old granddaughter (her father was the man who just died). We were able to help this family because Hermana Monsilla asked us about the possibility of providing a blessing on her son's gravesite. So, on Saturday we were able to go with the family and a member of the ward's bishopric to offer a blessing on the gravesite. Hermano Gallardo, of the bishopric, offered a very special blessing and there was a very strong presence of the Spirit.  It was truly an amazing experience. Of course, it was sad to be in that situation but it was gratifying to be able to promise Hermana Monsilla that death is not the end and she truly can spend eternity with her son. Next stop for her, the temple!
            This week were also able to catch up with the boyfriend of one of the young women in our ward.  He has come to church for the last two weeks.  Victor is 23-years old and he is such a stud. (Yes. He's dating a girl who is 16-years old so that's awkward.  It's basically like Matthew and Emily being together. LOL!) He lives far away so we have to teach him at his girlfriend's house, but that is great situation because the more people we have in a lesson, the better. We had an effective lesson with him this week and it truly helped to have his girlfriend's entire family there with us.
Presenting 6 Months Ties
            We also had another great lesson with Daniel and his wife, Sandra.  We taught them about the Plan of Salvation, which is a Gospel Principle that is unique to our church and its precepts are attractive to everyone. During the lesson, they had so many questions, but most of them were about our previous lesson so that means they are really taking our lessons to heart and thinking about them during the week. Daniel is really testing our knowledge of the Bible, which has required me to read the Bible and strengthen my knowledge of it so I can answer his questions.  Daniel and Sandra have been listening to different viewpoints about religion and they've been a challenge to teach because they have so many questions and comparisons.  Even so, every Sunday they find themselves in our chapel!
Burning 6 Months Ties
            We had a very busy week and it's been such a blessing to have a full schedule. We have seen great progress with our boys, Pedro Sanchez and Fede Vege, because they are really getting involved with the youth in the ward.  Their friendships make our job as missionaries so much easier! Our goal this week is to set baptism dates with these boys.
            On Sunday, I was just doing my thing, you know... leading the hymns, and immediately after the Sacrament was passed I was asked to give a talk.  Yes! In less than 10 minutes! Oh, Man! To be honest, I was hecka nervous. Luckily, I was given a few minutes to find some scriptures and put my thoughts together. Before I knew it, I was at the pulpit talking to eighty-plus people. Thanks to the Gift of Tongues, I was able to deliver my message. However, I can't remember much of what I said.  In all, it was a good experience for me and it turned out just fine.
            The work is really moving and progressing and the best part is being able to see our investigators in Sacrament Meeting with us.  I'm looking forward to this week because we are going to set some baptism dates! Yay!  
            It will be a great week! 

            Elder Roderick