Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Another Solid Week


We had another solid week in villa de Mercedes. However, the rain slowed us down a little. When it rains down here the streets turn into rivers because there are no sewers. Literally it's impossible to go anywhere because the water is six inches deep on the ground. On Saturday, we were trapped inside the house of an investigator for about four hours!
In Argentina, there is a siesta which is basically 3 to 4 hours in the middle of the day to eat lunch and take a nap. LOL!  We don’t usually work during the siesta because no one is available but now we have a couple of investigators who are only available during that time so we work the whole day, only stopping for lunch. That has been nice because the hours we spend in the pench during the siesta are the longest hours of the day because we just have to study more. LOL! Basically, we get a lot more done in a day because we never stop, which makes the day better.
This week was productive because we went around to the members’ houses and asked for referrals of less actives who have children who aren’t baptized. Obviously, we did this with hopes of finding more people to teach and to get more families to attend church. There are about 500 less active people in our ward! With this in mind, we met with the Gila family this week. They are a little on the older side and have 20+ grandkids. They are going through a difficult time because Hermano Gilla lost his leg due to diabetes and so it's hard for them to leave the house. We met with them a few weeks ago, but now with our new focus, we also met with Benjamin who is their grandchild and lives with them. We are trying to reactivate the family through the baptism of a grandchild!
 One of the cool things we did this week was help our convert, Pedro, with his family history! He is the first member of the Church in his family and with our help, he currently has his whole family tree completed for temple work! The best part about it is that the ward is going to the temple in Cordova in a few weeks so he's preparing himself to go with them. He is also preparing to go with his grandmother who got baptized 10 years-ago but went inactive shortly after her baptism. She and her 21-year-old daughter, who is also a member, haven’t been to the temple so I'm praying hard that everything can work out for them! Pedro has changed so much and it's amazing to witness his continual progression after his baptism. He's been guiding his family to become more familiar with the Church and they are slowly joining the bandwagon LOL! Baptism is just the front door to many other amazing blessings!
We also spent a good amount of time with Victor this week. Like Pedro, it's amazing to see the minor changes he has made. We have really grown close to him these past few weeks and he's really opened up to us so it been cool to get to know him better. He has so many stories about all he’s had to do in order to help his family put food on table. I'm so pumped for the progress he has made and he's getting close to entering in the waters of baptism. We also spent a lot of time with Jorge this week. He has really opened up to us as well. He told us how he knows the “street life” and he doesn't want that anymore. He is looking to change his life for the better so he can be an example for his kids. We are reviewing all of the lessons with him. He understands everything well, loves reading and says awesome prayers. However, he is having a hard time coming to church. I called him on Sunday morning to wake him up and after he hung up he went back to sleep and didn't wake up until 6:30 in the night LOL!
During the week, I realized that I share my testimony every day with the people I come in contact with but I just don't share it enough with my family. I'm still a young missionary but in my short time as a missionary I have learned with all my heart that this is the work of the Lord and there is no other place I'd rather be at this point in my life. Being in the Lord’s vineyard has taught me so many things. One thing I know is that God has a plan for every single one of us. He loves us and gives us trials in our lives so we can learn and become better people. I know Jesus Christ lives and is directing His church through a living prophet. We’re so lucky to live on the earth during these last days with a living prophet as well as the fullness of the gospel with the Book of Mormon. It's truly the truest book that we have on the earth and it has the power to change lives like it has changed mine.

Enjoy conference weekend!

Elder Roderick

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Friday Night Lights

This week was another quick one because we spent time traveling to San Luis.
          We started the week having a zone conference with President and Hermana Goates, as well as the assistants. During the conference I had one of the most spiritual experiences I've had on my mission; one I'll never forget.  President Goates talked about "self control" with the mission rules.  He reemphasized a couple of the rules we have and then he talked about finding more people to teach. Years ago, South American, and especially Argentina, was booming with investigators and baptisms.  It used to be much "easier" to find people who were interested in learning about the Church. He made the comparison that missionaries in the past were like fishermen whereas today, missionaries are much more like hunters. He encouraged us to hunt everywhere for people who need our message. President Goates really pumped us up and he brought back memories for me of Coach Benson's pregame speeches.  LOL! Hermana Goates talked about listening to the promptings of the Spirit in every situation. Of course, we should listen to the Spirit while teaching lessons, but we should also listen to it during planning sessions and while knocking on doors. I don't know exactly what it was but, the conference was a real spiritual high for me and it was a great way to start the week.
          Along with the Elders Quorum and the Young Men we held an unusual activity at the ward building this week.  We played soccer! We were able to get a decent sized crowd to the field and it was a great for our missionary work because some investigators and people who aren't very familiar with the Church came to play. On the outside of the ward building there are some awesome lights that illuminate the field so we were able to have our own "Friday Night Lights!" and it was way fun. We cooked up some chorizos, which are basically like brautworst, and had a great time.  Some of the older guys in the Elders Quorum came out to play and a couple of the 40-50 year-olds put me on ice skates.  I managed to score a couple of goals so I feel pretty good about the night, but my goal is to become a Latin with my soccer skills, so it's still a work in progress.
          Our investigators are making great progress and we were able to set some baptism dates for a couple of them. Our friend Jorge introduced us to his daughter so we are teaching them together, which makes our lessons much more spiritual and easier to teach because it allows us to focus on the family aspects of the Church. This week when we met with Jorge we had planned to set a baptism date with him at the end of the lesson. But, in the middle of the lesson he said, "I have a question.  What do I need to do to get baptized?" It was one of those moments that I will never forget! Jorge went on to explain that he wanted a change in his life and he was looking for something more.  Missionaries are always looking for people like Jorge and what a blessing it is for us to have an investigator ask us if he can be baptized instead of us asking the investigator.  
          This week we also learned that we are going to host another "Open Chapel" here in 25 de Mayo. We were able to schedule a couple of baptisms with our investigators for the same day so I'm really excited for that.
          A cool experience we had this week was giving a blessing to one of the young men in our ward.  It was a blessing of comfort because he is starting school this week and preparing to serve a mission so his mom
thought it would be a good idea for the missionaries to give him a blessing.  It reminded me of the blessings my dad would give me before the school year started and the power of the Priesthood. Each time I have had the opportunity to use the power of the priesthood, I have truly felt the Spirit working. How fortunate are we to have this wonderful power on the earth today? As my good friend, Talo Latu, says, "I don't need to be Superman or have any super powers because I got the Priesthood power." LOL!
          The weather is slowing growing colder and it has been so wonderful to be in the streets all day without sweating like crazy. Soon it will be sweater weather!
          "Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the Lord, and they shall fish them; and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks." Jeremiah 16:16
          Have a killer week!
          Elder Roderick 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Pedro's Baptism

         This week was one I'll never forget.  The big news is we were  able to baptize Pedro this weekend! His brother, Francisco, wasn't quite ready but we'll be back in the water with him in a few weeks.           
         To begin the week, we headed to San Luis for a Super P-Day with our entire zone. There are only four Elders in Villa Mercedes so we are kind of like the "lost boys" so it was nice to spend time with more missionaries for the day. On Tuesday, we had our zone meeting and we focused on teaching courageously and being bold with our investigators and people we teach so they're more likely to keep their commitments with us. We also talked about finding more investigators. Every minute we are out in the streets we should be looking for people to teach, not just when we are knocking doors. We received great council from our leaders and we were able to put it into practice this week.
          This week in Villa Mercedes was a little crazy because we spent a lot of our time preparing for the baptism. We made and delivered invitations. I made my famous brownies.  And, the most stressful part of the preparations was filling up the baptismal font.  To be honest, the whole baptism was stressful because it was my first one.
          Even with all of the baptism preparations we were able to get in some good work with some of our investigators.  We caught up with our friends, Silvina and Gustavo, and we had an awesome lesson with them. Silvina is the daughter of a member family and she's been investigating the Church for a couple of months but she lives with her boyfriend, Gustavo.  Of course this isn't an ideal situation and they can't really progress but it is awesome that we can teach a them together.  They plan to get married in the next year so we focus our lessons on the temple and eternal marriage. Gustavo is a good dude and since he isn't too familiar with the Church, he always has awesome questions for us, which is such a a good thing.  We've talked with them about their plans for the future and Silvina eventually told us that a temple marriage is goal for them and she also told us that she has testimony of the Book of Mormon.  This was awesome to hear!
          I had a funny incident with my shoe this week. One night I accidentally stepped in dog crap (which isn't hard to do because there are so many dogs here and therefore, tons of dog crap) so when I returned to the pench, I washed it off and set in the garage area to dry out.  I thought nothing of it.  Well, our garage just has bars, like a jail cell, to close it off and we always have dogs roaming around in there, especially when it's really hot or really cold. Long story short, we were on our way to the chapel on Sunday morning and about two blocks from our pench I saw a familiar shoe in the middle of the street.  One of the dogs had robbed me of my own shoe! When they hang out in our garage, I give them water and food and this is the gratitude I get. Argentina and it's dogs!
          Obviously, the big day of the week was Saturday.  In the morning, we did some service at the local school.  We painted some playground equipment and did some yard work. There was a crowd of people with us so we were able to get some good work done. What's a Saturday morning without a little yard work? Of course the highlight of the day was Pedro's baptism and I was fortunate enough to perform the ordinance.  Many of Pedro's family members came to support him and the ward members also showed a good amount of support to Pedro and his family.  We walked into the water together and as I had him in my hands I had the coolest feeling. I'm not going to lie, I was a little nervous because it was my first time baptizing someone but everything went smoothly.  As I was saying the baptismal prayer I had the coolest feeling.  It was the undeniable presence of the Spirit.
          When we left the water, we shared an emotional moment together.  Pedro gave me a huge hug and it was really something special.  We were chatting a bit and I asked him how he felt and he basically said that he felt like he was starting a new life.  Pedro is such a stud! 
          On Sunday, Elder Prestes confirmed Pedro and gave him the gift of the Holy Ghost.  That was also a cool moment. As I saw Pedro sitting in church with the rest of his family, I had the biggest smile on my face.
          Of course it's not all about the baptism and numbers but it felt so good to help Pedro make a covenant with our Heavenly Father.  Also, on Sunday he was able to receive the Aaronic Priesthood. That means next week he'll be able to pass the sacrament like he always wanted to. 
          This week was a very rewarding week; one I will never forget! Also, during the week I was able to receive my family's Christmas card so "Merry Christmas!" 
          Back to the Grind!

          Elder Roderick 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Hola Elder Prestes


Well unfortunately, we were not able to have the baptism this Saturday. During the week, we did a little tour with Francisco and Pedro's parents to show them what we do in the Church. We focused on the youth and the standards that they use in the Church. They were great with all of it and told us they have no problems with their sons being baptized. However, Francisco and Pedro started school today and the parents wanted them to finish their summer homework this weekend instead of having the baptism, which is understandable. It is better for everyone because we have time to prepare and it's not as rushed as it would've been. The parents told us that during the past couple of weeks they have seen a change in their kid, specifically that they have grown up a bit in the short time they’ve been working with us, so that feels good. Also, the mom was able to join the boys in church this weekend and it was the coolest feeling to see the majority of the family together in Sacrament and with the rest of the ward family. So, this weekend should be really exciting for Elder Prestes and me! We are doing our best to get as many people as possible to come to the baptism, so if you are free at 6 o'clock on Saturday, come show some love!
The other big news of the week is that on Tuesday morning, I said goodbye to Elder Martinez and then I picked up Elder Prestes later that afternoon. Elder Prestes is from Uruguay and he has been in the mission for 10 months.  So, we are both a little young in the mission but this is not a bad thing. Prestes is a good missionary and we've already had some awesome lessons together so I’m way pumped for the rest of this transfer. This week we focused a lot on our boy, Nano, and his progress. Our lessons with him are always a highlight in the week because we teach him with his girlfriend's family and they always give great testimonies and explain things a lot better than we do. This week we fixed a baptismal date with him so I'm way pumped for that. To be honest, when I first met Nano at a lunch appointment I didn't think much of him until we invited him to church and he came. Ever since then he has become one of my most promising investigators. Sometimes you just need to invite people to do things and miracles happen!
During the week, we received a reference to a dude named George Cortez who is a barber down here in villa Mercedes. He is 38 years old and recently separated from his wife. He has received the missionaries before and got really close to baptism but never did it. So, when we met him this week it was almost like we were with a long-lost friend. we were able to chat with him a couple times this week and basically review what he had already learned about the Church. He's an awesome dude and I’m already invited to his birthday party so you can pretty much say we are “bros” now!
Another investigator who is making some good progress is Leila.  Leila has had a couple things happen in her life that have led her to be independent and she doesn’t like to depend on other people. In a previous lesson, she was pretty tough to crack, so I had to reteach her all the principles we had already taught. However, this week she was basically a new person. We showed her some awesome videos from the Church about hope and love and I think it really softened her heart a bit. And then we talked about the temple and what we do there and she really wants to know more about the temple and go there someday. Leile was able to come to church with us on Sunday and we were able to reinforce some of the principle we taught her. She also made friends with a couple of members so it was an awesome experience for her.
Everything is going really well down here and the work is going strong! It's a blessing to have a big supportive ward that helps us and makes our job so much easier. My favorite part of the Church is that we are all brothers and sisters and the people of villa Mercedes have accepted me like family, which has made my time here so far very enjoyable. I'm excited for this week as we are helping Pedro and Francisco take the first big step in the church!

Keep it real and have a good week!

Elder Roderick

Sunday, March 5, 2017

The LONG Bus Ride

The Elders of Villa Mercedes
The big news of the week is that we had transfers again! It literally feels like I just arrived in 25 de Mayo. I'm going to be staying here for at least another transfer and I will be with Elder Prestes from Uruguay. Another Latin! Yay for the Spanish 24/7! Elder Prestes was Elder Fredrick's companion and Elder Fredrick loved him so I'm very excited. Of course, I'm stoked to stay here in 25 de Mayo as well. I'm a little bummed to see Elder Martinez go because we were working so well together but everything will work out.
            We had a bit of an interesting week. On Thursday night, we received a text from President Goates saying that we needed to be in Mendoza ASAP. To be honest, this freaked me out! I literally had no idea what had happened and I freaked myself out by thinking of all the possibilities. I always get so worried about that kind of stuff.  I even took an Ambien on Thursday night so I could sleep! So, we headed to Mendoza on Friday and the bus ride was almost six hours long so we didn't get to Mendoza in time to talk to President that night. We had to wait until the morning.  We were finally able to talk to him on Saturday morning and basically what happened was someone in Villa Mercedes was spreading a rumor about Elder Martinez and President Goates heard about it and called us in to talk about it.  It ended up not being a big deal and we were able to work out everything.  After the interview, we had a few hours to kill in Mendoza before our bus ride back to Villa Mercedes so Elder Martinez and I were tourists for a couple of hours.  Later that night we headed back to Villa Mercedes, another 5 1/2 hours in the bus.
            The bad part about our trip to Mendoza is that we lost the really important days of the week. It was frustrating to have to cancel all of the appointments we had planned.  But, we'll be alright!
            This week we were able to catch up with our friend, Luis, who is engaged to one of the members of our ward. As soon as they were engaged we were at their door, ready to teach Luis. They are awesome people and I made a really quick to connection with his fiancé with the piano. S/O to Kimberly Baker Music Studio! We've been teaching Luis for a while but he can't really progress because they are living together right now. When we are teaching him, it really just feels like we are talking to a member because he is so knowledgeable about the Church and he's so receptive to our message.  The good thing is, they will be married in April and then they're taking a long honeymoon trip to Hong Kong, China.  Yes! An Argentine couple in China! It's interesting, but pretty cool.
The Elders come bearing: OFF Bug Repellent and a BoM!
            One night this week we had a short Family Home Evening with the Family Sanchez. We have to plan everything out with them very well in advance so we can get their entire family involved. They are still going through a rough patch in life right now because the dad is still looking for work and the parents are frustrated with Pedro and their other kids because of their failure to study in the summer. We talked a lot with them about how they can resolve this problem. We are praying that this weekend we can get Pedro and his younger brother, Francisco, in the waters of baptism but we are going to have to work with their parents.  They are very supportive of us being with their kids and we have a good relationship with them but when we brought up the subject of baptism, they were a little hesitant. So, this week we will be working with the parents to help them understand that the Church can benefit their kids.  It might be a little tough, but everything will work out.
            Earlier in the week we did some "Opening the Mouth" but instead of just knocking doors we talked to a lot of people in the bread shops and little kiosks because it's easier to make a connection that way.  It ended up being really fun and I even found a couple of English speakers along the way!
            The work was a little slower this week but it was still a great week and we are seeing some great progress!  I'm praying we get Pedro and Francisco in the water this weekend, so please put them in your prayers as well.

Have a great week!

Elder Roderick