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 

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