Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Some Fruits of Our Labor

I had another solid week here in Villa Meredes.  We didn’t travel and the hermanas didn’t need help getting around the city so we were able to get some good work done.
This week I had a pretty humbling experience that will be difficult to forget. Last week while we were in church, we had a new couple visit the ward.  In order to get to know them better, we started to talk to them and while doing so, we learned they were homeless, have three little kids and literally no belongings.  The wife and two of the children are members of the Church and when we met with them this week it was an extremely humbling experience. We traveled to where they are staying and it was really sad to see how they are living.  Fortunately, as a ward, we were able to get together some blankets, food, and other essentials that they need. I think this is one my favorite aspects of the Church – we are always ready to help those in need and put their needs in front of our own personal needs.  As I talked with the bishop, we decided that the missionaries will give them the spiritual support they need and the ward members will help them with their living situation. Even though they don’t have much, the kids are still smiling and looking for the best!  I pray they can receive some help to get back on their feet and one of the best ways to do that is by living the gospel of Jesus Christ.
This week we also had another awesome lesson with the Sanchez family.  The Spirit was so present. In our previous lesson, we left them with Moroni’s promise and as we were asking them whether or not they had read, both of the parents told us about the feelings they felt when they were reading. It was so amazing to hear about the spiritual experiences they had while reading. We explained to them that it was the Holy Ghost testifying that the book was true! Then we had an awesome lesson and we had the whole family participating and there truly was a special spirit there during the lesson.  At the end of the lesson, they cooked us a pizza and while we were eating, the dad took a phone call outside.  He came back into the house and announced that he had found a job!  This was nothing short of a miracle because he has been without work for two years.  Then the mom asked, “Why are things like this happening to us?” The entire Sanchez family is embracing the Church and they are receiving blessings for it.  On Sunday, they were all together at church and it was the coolest sight. While in the chapel they are literally acting like members.  They offer to help, go to activities and participate in class. I love teaching them and I’m looking forward to the progress they will make over next couple of weeks.
We also met up with our homie, Luis.  This Friday he will be getting married to a girl in the ward, so we had a lesson with him and invited him to get baptized.  He says he’s still unsure about this decision but his future wife really gave some awesome advice to him. So, as a goal for him, we set a baptismal date.  He still hasn’t received the answer he wants about what we’ve been teaching him, but it doesn’t hurt to have a goal in mind. I have a plan to rent a tux and crash their wedding on Friday.  Stay tuned!
On Saturday night we held another game night in the chapel.  In order to gather the ward members together, we played soccer, ping pong and a bunch of other games.  We were able to get some nonmembers to attend as well and it was an awesome opportunity to open the chapel to anyone who wanted to play.
I’m feeling really good about the work we are doing here and it’s really nice to see some of the fruits of our labor. Have a killer week!

Elder Roderick

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Jesús Vive!

Feliz Pascua!,                                                                                                              

Farewell to Elder Prestes

This week was pretty interesting. On Tuesday morning I said, “Bye” to my man, Elder Prestes and later that day, I received Elder Parker.  To be honest, it’s kind of nice to have a gringo companion again but my English had gotten pretty bad so we end up speaking in Spanish most of the time.  Elder Parker is a great guy and he has only eight weeks left in his mission so hopefully, I can learn a couple of things from his experience.
In all reality, this week was stressful because in addition to receiving a new companion, our ward received a pair of sister missionaries.  That meant that this week I had to show the area to three people.  We also had to split the area in half and that was kind of stressful for me because I have the most experience in the area so I did a lot of the directing and deciding. We had to make sure that the area where the sister will serve is the safest and all that jazz. Everyone wanted to give their input and there were a lot of factors to consider when we made the final split. Now that we have the area split, I did lose a good number of investigators because we gave them to the Hermanas but nonetheless, it’s fun to have them in our ward. The work here in 25 de Mayo is going pretty well so, it’s nice to have double the missionary force.
The Elders of 25 de Mayo
Overall, the work was a little slower this week because it was the first week of the transfer and we had a lot of other stuff to deal with but we were able to teach the Familia Sanchez again (Pedro’s family). We got them all together and again, we had an awesome lesson with the whole family.  They are really showing some major interest as a family and they’re just trying to take in everything at once.  The whole family was able to attend the “Open Chapel” we had last week and they had tons of questions about what they learned while they attended it.  Because they have practiced Catholicism for years, things like a living prophet are really new to them.  So, we were able to answer a lot of good questions as well as teach them about the Restoration of the Gospel.  We left them with Moroni’s promise and asked them to read the Book of Mormon as a family.  Then, when I was talking with the mom on Sunday, at church, she told me that she felt something in her chest like, “une sensación reconfortante” (a comforting feeling) that told her the things she read were true.  As I was listening to her and explaining to that what she was feeling was the Holy Ghost, I recognized that her feelings came from the power of sincere prayer.  God does answer our prayers! One of the best parts of teaching the Familia Sanchez is having Pedro right there to testify and help his family understand what we are teaching is true.  It’s basically like having another companion in the lesson with us and it’s amazing to see how much he has progressed in the last few month.
A chocolate egg purchased from a girl on the street
On Sunday, we had a pretty cool experience because we were able to give Victor the Aaronic Priesthood.  It was awesome to be in the circle and participate in his ordination.  Also, he told me that he set a goal to read the Book of Mormon, cover to cover. Now, we just need to get him to the temple!
Both Pedro and Victor are still making such great progress in the Church and they are both studs. As I was sitting on the stand, watching Pedro pass the sacrament in his fresh new suit and tie, it brought the biggest smile to my face.  They both have a lot to learn but it’s been amazing to see the changes they have made and the people they are becoming because of their membership in the Church.
Holy Friday street sign

It was pretty cool to be in Argentina this weekend to see how they celebrate Easter. Obviously, Argentina is predominantly Catholic and they have some pretty cool traditions.  The Friday before Easter is called, “Viernes Santo” of “Holy Friday” and most people don’t work and the whole town is quite because they don’t play music or have any loud noises.  It felt really strange to be out on the streets on Friday night without any noise.  On Sunday, we hit the streets and tried to find people with whom we could share the Easter initiative.  It was fun to just talk with people about how and why they celebrate Easter. It provided us with a perfect opportunity to share some of our beliefs and of course, to find more people to teach!
It was a solid week and  now it'a back to the grind!
Elder Roderick

                                                         Jesús Vive! John 3:16

Friday, April 14, 2017

Starting to Hit My Game

Querida Familia,       
             To be honest, this week was an unforgettable one.  We had transfers again and I’m staying in 25 de Mayo but Elder Prestes is leaving and I’m receiving Elder Parker from Las Vegas. Also, we are receiving a pair of Hermanas in 25 de Mayo so our area is going to be cut in half but I’m excited to have Hermanas in the ward. This means we’re going to have four Elders living in our pench because the Hermanas are going to live in the pench where the other set of Elders lived here in Villa Mercedes.  So, this set up is going to be a little interesting.  I’m pumped to stay here in 25 de Mayo for another transfer.
            During this week we traveled a bit, celebrated my birthday and got some decent work done.  It rained a lot and this slowed us down, but we managed to get in some solid work. The highlight of the week was definitely my birthday.  The members literally treated me like a king and the video that my family made for me was so awesome! Thanks to all of my homies for participating in it. On my birthday, we ate two asadas and I received a ton of love from the members.  We ate so much! In the evening, we celebrated with the Familia Gallardo. They sang to me in three different languages and made me feel like I was at home with my own family. I really am so fortunate to be in an area where the members treat me so well!  19 years-old? I’m not a kid anymore.  That’s for sure.

              This week we were able to have a cita with Augustin and his brother, Alberto. One day we were on our way to teach and we heard Augustin call our names from his car.  Of course, I would never enter into a stranger’s car, but anyone who calls, “Elders” from their car and offers a ride is an automatic homie. It was actually a miracle that we found Augustin because when he drove by us, Elder Prestes and I were on a route that we usually don’t take. When we started out, we were on our usual route but we felt an impression to take a different route, and we were led to Augustin. He is so awesome and he’s really receptive to us. Right now, he’s mad at the Catholic church because he had to pay a ridiculous amount of money for his dad’s funeral. On Friday night, we went to his house for our appointment with him and when we got there his entire family was there for the lesson. This included his brother’s family and some of his friends. There were approximately 15 people in the lesson and they served us hamburgers. Literally, they are the kindest people.  They opened their home to us and basically said, “Our home is your home.” The entire family is interested in our message.  The experience of finding Augustin was an unforgettable spiritual moment and I’m excited to keep working with him and his family.
            This week we also had an awesome lesson with Lali, who is the daughter of the woman who cuts our hair. She has received the missionaries before, but not much happened. She was able to attend one session of General Conference and after it was over, she had a ton of questions about the Church.  We went to her house this week with the goal of answering her questions.  After meeting with her, I think we were able to spark her interest again. We left her with the commitment of praying about her questions and I’m excited to see the progress she can make.
            Another highlight of the week was seeing our boy, Jorge, in the chapel this weekend. We were really excited that he showed some action by attending church this week because his attendance shows that he is actually interested and wants to change his life, like he told us.
              This weekend we were able to participate in two “Capillia Abiertas” (Open Chapels) where we showed the town what we do in our chapel and what the Mormons are all about. On Saturday, we went to Justo Damet, which is a little town that has a branch.  It was kind of fun showing a small chapel to the townspeople.  We were able to welcome in a lot of people from the street and show them the chapel. On Sunday, we did the same thing in our ward in 25 de Mayo and we had an awesome turnout of members, a couple menos actitvos (less actives) and of course, investigators.  Each organization had a little stand where they explained a little bit about what they do.  It was an awesome experience and we had a lot of fun. I’m excited to reap the benefits of these Capilla Abiertas because undoubtedly, they will help our missionary efforts.
            This week I reflected about how grateful I am to be here, especially during this exciting time. Every day gets better and better and I feel like I’m starting to hit my game as a missionary!  As I was watching my birthday video I was really humbled by all of the support I have, especially from my beautiful family, who are all growing so much!
           I love all of you so much!  
           Elder Roderick