Monday, August 25, 2014

First Zone Conference

Monday, August 25, 2014

Hey! Wow this week was awesome!! So Tuesday we had a Zone Conference. I didn't understand much but it was so awesome. They talked about the pilot program and how they are just testing it out. It's not a replacement and so we should be helping the less actives but not forgetting about finding and teaching investigators. There was some other stuff but it was just so awesome. It got me so pumped for this work.

Tuesday afternoon to Thursday morning we did intercambios (exchanges) and I went with Elder Ramos who is the District Leader to Tomas Flores, which borders our area. We actually didn´t do a whole lot of work but I talked a lot with Elder Ramos and it was really good and helpful. He's like 22 I think and after like 16 months into the Mission he went home for 9 months because his Mom was really sick and now he's been back for 2 months, so its been like 28 months or something since he first got set apart as a missionary. I have a ton of respect for him. He has an interesting story and we talked a lot and he was just able to give me some advice and it was really good.

So one of our investigator families is still doing great. Unfortunately, because of the paperwork they won't be able to get married until October so the baptism will have to be put back but it's all good because they`re super strong.

We saw the other investigator family on Thursday because it was the wife's birthday so we had a lesson with her about her role as a mother and talked about the stripling warriors (a story in the Book of Mormon) and the example their mothers were for them. The family went around saying why they were thankful for her and then her and her kids came to church yesterday!! Her husband apparently didn't want to come so that was disappointing but it was great having the rest of the family there. Hopefully we can build off of that this week and keep them progressing. The wife's mother came to church too and I think we`re going to  try to set a baptismal date with her for the middle of September!

One of our new investigators from last week wasn't there both times we went by so hopefully we can catch him this week.

The other new investigator from last week and his aunt weren't there either so we didn't get to teach them but we have set appointments with them for today and Thursday!!
So the past couple days especially have been awesome. So Saturday we had two contacts from a member (two 8 year old boys that want to get baptized) that we stopped by to see. While meeting with one of them we got a text from the Mission saying we had a referral on the exact same street! Unfortunately we didn't have time to go by before lunch but we`ll stop by today. Then later in the night we went to go visit a less active sister,  but she wasn't there. At first I was like disappointed and a little annoyed because she said she`d be there but then as we were leaving we ran into a man that was baptized and has the priesthood but moved from Paraguay so he's been inactive. So we got his information and we`re going to  stop by this week! It gets better though. After that, we were going to go to a member's home but when we got there Elder Durham was like "let's pray and see if God wants us to go here or this other home nearby". So we said separate prayers and man right as I started to pray, I got the strongest impression to go to this other home and afterwards Elder Durham said the same thing. Now people might be like, big deal, 50/50 chance but then we get to this man's home (he`s a member but a less active) and we share a scripture and talk to him for a bit and he tells us that his Alcoholic Anonymous meeting was canceled that night and so he was feeling awful.  He was just having a bad night and was thinking about drinking but then we came and because we came he said he felt amazing and it gave him the strength to keep going and he said he'd  come to church, which he did. CRAZY RIGHT!? Like not a super crazy story but a miracle nonetheless. Heavenly Father knew where we`d be and knew this man needed us and He led us there and provided.  In his prayer at the end he thanked God for sending His angels to him again. Just awesome.

Then yesterday we had a lesson and because of that we didn't have time to stop by the investigator family that is doing really well and we were feeling bad and we were literally about to enter the apartment when we saw them walking down our street.... like they don't even live anywhere near us. Literally what are the odds. It wasn't a coincidence at all. We had a great day, had been working hard, and serving the Lord and we just didn't have time and felt bad but again Heavenly Father provided and placed them in front of us. So we talked to them for a few minutes and honestly it was probably more important for us to see them than for them to see us. Man things like that have just been happening the past couple days.

Appointments fall through and stuff but Heavenly Father always places someone else in our path. We met so many people last week and have so many people to contact this week that can be potential investigators. Just super, super awesome. Like the past couple days we felt like we've really been working our hardest and doing everything we can and it's all just kind of working out and we`re being blessed, but the amazing thing is we are not even doing anything. God is literally placing people and leading us to people that are being prepared and ready to hear the gospel. Awesome week and this week is going to be even better!

(Responding to some of our questions.) I don't mind hearing about things back home.  To be honest I`m going to  get homesick at times either way and it's nice hearing what's going on so whatever you want to right is fine. I do read the emails it's just hard most of the time to respond to all the questions. I love you guys!
Elder McFarland

Monday, August 18, 2014

Hola - 2 Months Down, 22 To Go

Monday, August 18, 2014

I don´t have much time. We couldn't find computers anywhere so we had to go to the capilla (I think this means chapel) to email. 

This week was better.  The work in progressing. Our first investigator family is still doing great but I think they won't be married in time so we may have to push their baptismal date back. The second family - I don't know it’s tough with them. We had two more good lessons with them but then they didn't show up to church again. That's a month straight they haven't come. We stopped by their house today when we were trying to find a computer and we talked to the son and he said Sunday him and his dad were getting ready to leave to church but his mom said she didn't want to go so they all decided not to go. Super disappointing. To be honest we may have to be kind of blunt with them Tuesday. But on the positive note, the wife's mother is coming to the lessons again. I guess she used to come but then had to work a bunch but now her schedule changed so she's been able to come the last week. And it’s amazing even though she hasn't come the past month she's still been progressing and has a strong testimony so hopefully that helps her daughter.

We have a couple new investigators. My companion and his previous companion met the man on the street and we stopped by his house this week and taught him the restoration lesson. He wants to get baptized but he wants to go back to Paraguay to live with his family but his girlfriend wants to stay in Argentina, so they´re going to talk and reach an agreement before they get married. We were supposed to teach him Saturday but he wasn't there. I´m excited though he's a super awesome dude and has a strong belief. 

Also we have nephew and his aunt. The nephew was a contact and we stopped by his house the other day and he wasn't there but his aunt was and we taught her the first lesson as well. Oh man the Spirit was so strong it was probably the highlight of the week. It was so sick. She just took it all in and has a strong testimony. We were going to teach her Saturday again as well and invite her to be baptized but she wasn't there either :) but three new investigators that I think we´re going to be able to teach and have success with! 

I´m out of time. I´m sorry this was so short. I´ll write more next week. It was a good week and my Spanish is coming along. I'm able to participate more in the lessons and it feels good. Love you. Congrats to Scott and Erika (who got engaged last week)!! Also tell Scott and Kiersten happy birthday!! I don't have time to email them. We have to return to the pension. I'll email them next week. (Elder McFarland sent this about 9:00 p.m. his time, which is very late for the missionaries, so we were lucky to get a letter.)

Monday, August 11, 2014

1st Full Week in Argentina

Monday, August 11, 2014

My first full week in Argentina! To be honest, I don't know if the newness and excitement wore off a little bit but this week was kind of slow. Not a whole lot happened this week. We taught two investigator families consistently during the week but other than that it´s just contacting less actives and trying to find new investigators. 

One family is doing awesome. They´re pretty much already members. I´m not worried about them at all. They have such strong testimonies. The paperwork to get married should be coming this week and then they´ll travel to Buenos Aires to get married! So right now we have a baptismal date set for August 29th with them!! 

The other family, though, it's been kind of tough. They´re an awesome family and they have testimonies but they don´t seem to be progressing much. We meet with them every Tuesday and Thursday night.  Last Tuesday we had a good lesson.  They never prayed to know if this is true so we invited the wife to pray after the lesson.  The Spirit was strong and she said she felt good. It was awesome. The husband said he prayed for help to stop smoking and he's stopped since then, but the wife is having a harder time and is still smoking. Thursday we had another good lesson with them and asked again if they wanted to be baptized.  They said yes but they just aren't taking the steps necessary. The wife is still smoking, they haven´t started the paperwork for marriage, and they haven´t showed up to church the past two weeks, so we aren't quite sure what to do with them. I feel like we´re doing all we can and at this point it's just kind of up to them to take those steps that are necessary. We´ll continue to meet with them this week and pray for them and hope something happens. 

This week was also a little tough because we got stood up a couple times by investigators and members. The new investigator that showed up to church last week, didn't show up at the chapel for our appointment with him and he didn't come to church yesterday so I´m a little afraid we might not see him again. Then a couple times during the week we had meetings with members and they either didn't show up or were like 45 minutes late so it was a little frustrating feeling like we wasted a bunch of time. Also a lot of people here don't have phones and so we can't confirm our appointment with them beforehand and then we´ll show up at their home and they won't be there, so I'm learning to be patient haha. Most days we visit different inactives or less active members or try to meet with people we contact on the street so we never tract or at least haven't so far.  So work was a little slow this week.  We need to find new investigators to teach. Church attendance last week was like 65 and this week was 76 but we were hoping like 10 more people would show up that didn't. 

The members that are active and strong in the Gospel are super awesome though. Just super friendly and treat you like family and we get fed by the members everyday at lunch and then occasionally at dinner too. The past three days I've eaten so much food haha. The people here feed us so much its ridiculous. The other day I had a whole pizza to myself and then at a different meal I had at least 13 empanadas haha so the members are great. I love them. We just need to be better about maybe getting members to come with us to our appointments and strengthening the ward as a whole.

(Answering questions from home.)  We haven't been to ward council yet. We have a sister in our ward that washes our clothes except for our garments so that's nice. The pension is actually pretty good. It has hot water, a stove & microwave. It doesn't have heating but it never gets that cold in the apartment so we have a little portable heater that's enough to warm it up in the mornings, so during the day it's pretty comfortable inside the pension. I haven´t bought a pillow yet so I've been using my laundry bag as a pillow haha but I think I´ll buy one today. There's a Walmart a couple blocks from the pension and there's a little store in there that has computers so that's where we email from and do some occasional shopping.  Last week p-day was alright. We emailed and then played soccer with a couple other missionaries and some kids so it was alright but it really wasn't that fun. Later in the night we had a couple appointments that were good but I´m hoping today's p-day is better. We were supposed to have a zone activity but that got put off until the 25th so I think today we might just go play soccer at the stake center with missionaries so hopefully it´ll be more fun today. Also today we need to buy some more food and I´ll probably buy some stuff like the pillow and colored pencils.  I did get the emails from last week, those were awesome. Thank you. I didn't get an email from Scott this week or last, but last week I got an email from Wip (Erika) telling me about Wendell (who Scott baptized in Utah) so that's super sick. 

I hope everyone is doing well. I hope it's been fun having Scott back and I hope the next couple days with them are fun.  I think that's it for this week. Hopefully this next week we find some new investigators and get a little more work going. Oh also I don't know the address of the pension.  You can't send things directly to me. They have to go to the mission home but I could get the address next week if you're curious. It's super close to the chapel though.  I´ll talk (write) to you next week.  Love you!!

Monday, August 4, 2014

First Email from Argentina!


It´s been a crazy week! Tuesday morning we arrived at the airport and were greeted by President and Sister Thurgood. We went to the mission home and got a run down of the Mission and various information. During that time, we had interviews with President Thurgood. The interview was good; he asked about myself and the family, why I chose to serve a mission and then he told me about the Mission. Apparently Buenos Aires Sur is one of like four missions trying out this pilot program in South America, I think. There's a big focus on inactives and retaining members. He said we´re still a baptizing Mission but because of this focus, the numbers are probably a little lower than they usually would be.  I´m excited. President Thurgood is awesome!! Him and his wife are really kind and personable. Afterwards we had some pizza and empanadas! It was my first meal in Argentina and it was delicious! haha The pizza is different here, but it's still way good.
After that we met out companions!! So as you apparently already found out, haha, my companion is Elder Durham. Super cool guy; he´s a stud. He´s been out for 11 months now and turns 22 on August 15. Right away, when President Thurgood announced we were companions he was just so excited and had a lot of energy. From the mission home we took a bus to our apartment (pension). On the bus ride we, well mainly my companion haha, started talking to this lady and we ended up giving her a Book of Mormon. It was so sick! I had been with him for like 30 minutes and we were already able to talk to a lady and give her a copy of the Book of Mormon. Turns out she doesn´t live in our area but we´ll give her contact information to the other Elders and hopefully something comes of it.

We got to our apartment and lol it's so tiny. It's two rooms and a tiny bathroom. It´s probably the size of my dorm room but it was hot water and apparently its one of the nicer apartments so I´m not complaining haha. Our apartment is pretty much down the street from the chapel so that's nice.
That's the view from my apartment. 
I unpacked a little and then we had a Family Home Evening activity with Sergio and Nancy. We have two families that we are working with towards baptism. Sergio and Nancy are one of them. They´re investigators with super strong testimonies. The only thing keeping them from getting baptized is Nancy has to quit smoking and they have to get married, but in Argentina it takes a month to get married so we´re hoping for a baptism in September with them. They have three children and two of them are baptized. Super good family. Elder Durham got sick so we haven´t been able to visit them since Tuesday. The other family is Claudia and Manuel and they have three kids, Micaela, Brian and baby. They too have to get married first so we´re hoping for a September baptism with them. Wednesday, I met Claudia and her kids and then we went back Saturday night and when we first got there they had some friends in their yard with a bunch of alcohol. In my head I was like, uh oh this should be interesting, but we sat down with them and were able to talk to them about our Church and beliefs. Elder Durham talked about how we believe the Bible to be the word of God but we also believe in the Book of Mormon and then he had them read some verses and he talked about them. Really I have no idea what was said haha but at some point Claudia bore her testimony and I caught enough to tell she was talking about how the gospel has blessed her life so much and when she shared her testimony it brought the Spirit so strong. It was so awesome because I think it gave her a chance to stand by her beliefs and to testify of what she knows and how it's blessed her life. And it brought the Spirit and it was apparent to her friends how she´s been blessed and how much it means to her and I think they were a lot more interested and receptive after that. We ended up getting their contact information and giving them two Books of Mormon but unfortunately they don´t live in our area so we´re going to have to give the other Elders their information and hope they visit them because I know if they are taught, they´ll be baptized. So that was Saturday night.
Thursday we had a district meeting in the morning and we ended up getting lost on the way haha so we got there late but I met the four other Elders in my district and they´re all super chill. On the way back, Elder Durham wasn´t feeling well so we went back to the apartment. He ended up having a fever and was sneezing like every other minute so from Thursday to Saturday afternoon we stayed inside the apartment and let me tell you it was awful. Being stuck inside as a missionary is the worst thing in the world. There´s nothing to do in the apartment and you just want to go out and teach and find people but you can´t. It was frustrating because there´s nothing he could do but get some rest. I ended up giving him a blessing Friday. Finally Saturday afternoon he still wasn´t feeling great but both him and I had enough and were itching to leave so that's when we visited Claudia and Manuel.
Sunday we had church and here they have Priesthood, Sunday School, and then Sacrament meeting (that is the reverse order of what we have here at home). During Priesthood a man came in and apparently he lives by the chapel or has past by it a couple times and always wanted to come in but never did until yesterday. He sat with us during Priesthood and then we went to Gospel Principles (Sunday School) with him. We talked about the sacrament and afterwards Elder Durham told me that in Priesthood Ruben told him that he didn´t feel that good about coming and being here but then after Gospel Principles he could feel the Spirit and felt really good. He sat with us during Sacrament meeting and then afterwards we set an appointment up with him for Tuesday so I´m excited to see how that goes! Oh and during Gospel Principles the teacher turns to me and tells me I´m teaching next week haha so not really sure what I´m going to do yet... During sacrament meeting I introduced myself and bore my testimony though! Overall it was a good first Sunday. It was hard because the entire time I couldn´t understand anything. I´d maybe catch some words here and there but for the most part I had no idea what they were saying, but I could feel the love of the members and it's amazing to see how the Church is the same no matter where you go. The members and leaders here are just so strong in the Gospel and they have so much love. I´m really excited for this ward and I think I´ll become good friends with a lot of them. Sunday we had lunch at the Voerranos. They are a family in the ward and  the mother is the person that added you on Facebook Mom hahah. She sent some pictures to Elder Durham's Mom a couple weeks ago and yesterday she looked you up. That family is so awesome. It was the second time we´ve eaten with them and they´re just such good people.
In the afternoon we watched the Restoration video with Manuel and Claudia and it was powerful!! Afterwards, Manuel said that now he could say that he knows Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. I love them so much. It´s amazing how I can barely communicate with these people but I already feel a love for them. Right now I can´t do much in terms of teaching but I feel I can still show them love and become their friends and earn their trust. Bringing others unto Christ is my purpose here and I think the best way I can do that right now is to be their friends and when I have the opportunity, to teach to the best of my ability and bear my testimony. I´m loving it here!  You can definitely tell its winter but to be honest it´s not as could as I thought it´d be. It´s rained once and that was one of the days we were inside.
Love you