Monday, August 31, 2015

Stake Conference

August 31, 2015

Hola Familia!

Weird to think BYU is starting again and Mitchell (Gehlbach) is there.  But speaking of BYU and your email, yeah I still want to go back to BYU for the summer session!  You`ll have to talk to my friend Max Hoeft.  He’s at BYU right now and he’s living in The Village, I think, close to Michael (Johnson) or maybe even the same apartment, not sure.  It turns out his new roommates are Garrett Taylor and Chandler Nelson from the Stake! Super small world. He said his contract goes until Fall 2016 so I`ll probably room with Aden Hales for the summer and maybe someone else if they go up for summer.  Then Fall 2016 I think we are all going to try to get an apartment and room together, but yeah we can talk about that later.

So this week was pretty great. We had Zone Conference and there was an emphasis on working with the members and also the atonement. It was super good.

Friday we had to go to the Capital for Elder Gonzales’ ID so we went to the Chile consulate and it was close to the Pink House, Casa Rosada, their version of the White House so we drove by.

I’m not sure if I told you last week but yesterday we had a Stake Conference, but it was a conference for all of Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. It was directed by Elder Maynes from the Presidency of the Seventy and from Salt Lake in the video transmission was Elder Robert D Hales and Elder Cook and they all spoke. Also Elder Gonzalez from the Seventy spoke and a woman from the Young Women's Presidency.  It was super, super good though. The messages were really focused on keeping the Sabbath day holy and missionary work, directed at the youth to prepare for missions. The good news is that Cynthia came!! We even quickly introduced her to President Thurgood afterwards. She seemed to enjoy it and this week we have a lesson with her. Also a less active that we have been working with, Norma came yesterday! And the woman that I told you about a few weeks ago that had doubts or questions about the need to go to the temple, Esther Acevedo, came yesterday! She’s been coming to church now for the past 4 weeks or so and came yesterday! So it was good to see them.

It’s been pretty hot the past couple days. Today we have our Zone activity.  We are going to Parque de Lomas and going to play soccer or capture the flag or something.  It should be fun. Also, I forgot to tell you guys but three weeks ago or so President told us he wanted us to be finished emailing before 4 in the afternoon and that it’d be best to go in the morning after companion study so that’s why I’ve been emailing earlier and from now on I’ll probably always email around this time or for sure before 4:00 p.m. Argentina time. I hope all is going well. I love and miss you guys!

Elder McFarland

PS - I got bit by a dog last night but don’t worry, it wasn’t that bad.

Monday, August 24, 2015

New Investigators - Rosio, Angeles & Daniel

August 24, 2015

Hola Hola!

So sounds like the last few days and weeks have been pretty crazy for you guys! Still really weird to think Scott, Erika and Ryan will all be in San Diego now, but I’m sure it`ll be great for all of them.

So Fabian… we taught him this week and started teaching the commandments, starting with the Ten Commandments, but he can’t come to church again for the next two weeks because his boss is going back to Paraguay. Then the week after that, Fabian is taking a short vacation to Paraguay, so yesterday he didn’t come and for at least the next two weeks he won’t be able to come. So if I don’t stay another transfer, I won’t see his baptism.  But the important thing would just be that he gets baptized, but it’s somewhat frustrating.  He works a lot and says his prayers but he hasn’t asked if what we are teaching is true and he still has yet to read the Book of Mormon, so it’s been a little difficult.

Cynthia also couldn’t come yesterday because it was her son’s birthday and they were celebrating it. Also somewhat frustrating because she said she’d come this next Sunday, unless she was in the Capital again. The good news though is that she usually reads at least parts of the chapters we leave her from the Book of Mormon. She seems to understand everything and is progressing. We changed her baptismal date to September 6, but now it`ll have to get postponed again since she didn’t come yesterday. Silvia has been difficult to find and this week we didn’t get to teach her. The good news though is we have a couple new investigators. We talked to two girls two weeks ago in the center of Lomas and they said we could pass by their house and their address was in our area! So, we stopped by a few days later and set an appointment for this last Saturday.  On Saturday we went by and met their mom and brother, Daniel. The two girls are Rosio (20) and Angeles (15) and Daniel is 13. We talked for a few minutes to get to know them and introduced ourselves and what we do, how to begin teaching pretty much. There are 13 people in their family but we only met the three kids and the mom. They are Catholic but don’t really practice. Daniel is the most religious and believing of them all. He goes to the Catholic Church on Sundays and prays. The mom believes in God but doesn’t practice. She also believes and worships Gauchito Gil (you`ll have to look that up... its big here..)
Angeles says she doesn’t believe in God and Rosio said she isn’t sure. But we are pretty sure they really do know, they just don’t pray or practice. We have a lesson with them Wednesday so hopefully it goes well. After Saturday’s lesson we took Daniel with us to play soccer at the church. Usually, every Saturday, there’s some youth and men from Elders Quorum that play, but the Saturday we went with Daniel there was no one... like 3 other kids so it was pretty boring but Daniel seemed to still enjoyed it and said we are nice.

This next week also is like a multi Stake Conference. In all of Argentina there is going to be a broadcast, I think from the Area Seventy, so we`re going to be in the Stake Center watching that.

September 12th is the day of service here but in our Stake they are doing something a little different. The Church leaders here have been in communication with the Municipio de Lomas and family search and have organized a family history day in the center of Lomas in one of the government buildings. In the building there are about 30 computers and people are going to come and the members are going to help people look for an ancestor I think. There was training for it last night. I didn’t really understand what was going on, ha ha, but the idea is to spark the interest of the people in searching for their ancestors. There was a guy from the Municipio and he said they are expecting 5,000 people, which surprised me and seems like a lot but it’d be great. The training last night was for everyone, the missionaries and members, and then this Thursday there’s a training for just the missionaries, so hopefully I`ll find out more about it this week.

Also this week we have Zone Conference which should be pretty great.

Oh and for the flooding, really it didn’t flood in our area like it did last year when I was in Quilmes. There were some streets that were a little flooded but cars could still get by fine. Cynthia lives in an area that’s dirt roads and so it was hard there to walk and get around and some houses were flooded a little bit but Cynthia’s was fine. In general, it didn’t affect out area. The Hermanas in my District though, their area flooded up to their knees.

I hope things are going well and everything got squared away with the house in Logan and the moving. I miss you guys

Elder McFarland

Monday, August 17, 2015

A Visit From Elder Pribyl

August 17, 2015

Hola Hola!

So guess what?? I saw Elder Pribyl this week!! Ha ha.  He is also a District Leader and this last Thursday we had a training meeting with all the District Leaders. I knew I was going see him but then Thursday morning he called me and told me to look outside my pension so I went outside and he was flippin outside the gate with an Elder that used to be in my District. It was nuts ha ha ha. It was super weird to see him after over a year, but the weird part was that actually after the first few minutes it wasn’t weird or strange. Even though it’d been so long and we are still in the mission, we started talking and it just felt like before. I don’t know, weird and hard to explain. I assume that’s similar to how it`ll feel after the mission. And probably what Scott meant when he said it felt like a dream. You get back, assuming it`ll be all different and maybe weird at first, only to realize it’s not weird being back home at all and it felt like you never left. Of course a lot more will have changed when I get back than when Scott got back, but still weird. Max, my friend from BYU, told me that some girls from our freshman ward are already getting back and others that are getting back in 3 or 4 months and I read that and it just was super, super weird to read. Like I don’t know, time is just passing by insanely fast. It’s crazy. I can’t believe it. Truly passing by like a dream.

At the training, President Thurgood told us a little about what’s going on in the mission. Right now there are 122 missionaries, the least amount of missionaries in a long, long time. But in September, 8 are going home and 22 are coming to the mission. Then in November, it’s about the same number that leaves and come.  But then in December, 8 are going home and like 20 are coming. So, in the coming months the mission will have more missionaries.  President Thurgood told me it’s very likely that in September, he`ll put 2 more missionaries in Parque Baron so we`ll have 4 Elders again. I was thinking I`ll leave next transfer but it’s also a possibility now that I might stay and go to one half of the area and Elder Gonzalez will stay in the other and we`ll receive new companions because they have a new pension on the other side of the area. But I might still go and they might do a whitewash. We`ll see what happens, but it`ll be interesting. The change in missions has been a little hard, I think, for many missionaries. A lot of us from the South Mission have noticed that many missionaries from the West Mission are very serious and very strict, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but as I talked to Elder Pribyl and have heard from some missionaries, the West Mission was very different from our mission. It appears the Mission President there was stricter. He had a lot more rules and a lot more things the Elders had to report. I mentioned when we Skyped that from the Area Presidency it’s required to only report the baptisms, confirmations and sacrament attendance and if the Mission Presidents want, they can add more. Up until now, President Thurgood hasn’t added any. And apart from the missionary handbook he doesn’t have many other rules. His way of leading the mission is summarized by a quote of Joseph Smith “I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves.” He likes to have trust in us. I think D&C 58:26-28 also describes his way of leading the mission.

26 For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.

27 Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;

28 For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.

He expects us to be agents unto ourselves and make our own choices wisely. On the other hand, the West Mission President was the opposite. He pretty much micro managed his mission with lots of rules and lots of reporting. I’m not saying one is better than the other, just that they are different. But now it seems like it has created a little tension between missionaries and even missionaries and the members. There’s an Elder in my district that shares an area with the Hermanas in my district and the Hermanas told me he’s offending the members there. There just seems like be a lot of judging and comparing the missions going on and I personally don’t like it. So I think for a time it`ll be a little hard for the new missionaries to adjust to our mission and for everyone to kind of be on the same page and not have any problems between missionaries.

But this week was good. Fabian didn’t come to church. Cynthia was in the Capital again. Yesterday we had a good lesson with Silvia and we`ll see what happens this week. I got to go. Thanks for everything. Love you guys!

Elder McFarland

Monday, August 10, 2015

Jesus & Marie Get Married

August 10, 2015

Hola Hola,

So I’m still with Elder Gonzalez and will still be District Leader. But two of the Elders in my district got transferred. There were lots of changes this transfer because I think President Thurgood is trying to mix the new missionaries from the West Mission into areas in the South Mission and vice versa. I talked to Elder Pribyl and he’s staying in his area but it sounds like he’s now District Leader so that should be good for him.

The lesson with Cynthia this week went really well. We committed her to baptism for August 30th and she said she’d come to church and we offered to come to her house and accompany her to church, but then Saturday night she called us saying she wouldn’t be able to go because it has been raining the last couple days and where she lives it’s dirt streets and she said it was flooded and on top of that she has a baby so she was afraid of trying to leave her house. But again tonight we have an appointment with her so I hope we`ll be able to reach her house. But she seems to be progressing really well. We also had a lesson with Fabian, yes the 20 year old that was a reference, earlier in the week and it went well. He also said he would come to church and he was going to meet his friend who is a member and come to church, but he wasn’t able to come either because there was an election Sunday and his boss had to go vote and so Fabian had to go in and work and his boss didn’t get back until 2. But then after church he called us and offered us dinner and we could share something so last night we went over to his home and his girlfriend was there and he did a BBQ for us but in the end there wasn’t time for us to teach. It was pretty crazy because it’s been raining the past couple of days and last night we were with him in his home and the power went out, but luckily when we got to the pension there was light. This week we have a Tormenta Blanca planned where the elders from the zone are going to come to our area and visit less actives. But we still have to plan it.  There has been poor communication between our Ward Mission Leader and the ward leaders and us, so we`ll see what happens, but hopefully it goes well. The new Bishop seems to be very motivated. We talked with him on Sunday a little bit about the Tormenta Blanca and I think as he gets settled in, things will go a lot smoother.

Jesus and Maria got married Wednesday at a Registro Civil in Lomas and we went. It was very simple and very fast.

They did some paperwork and then they called all of us in and then a woman spoke, said some personal information of Jesus and Maria and then married them and then they signed a paper.

It was kind of anticlimactic ha ha but it was still an amazing experience being able to see them get married because as Elder Ventura and I taught them they had said their goal was to get married but that they weren’t ready and so I thought I probably wouldn’t see them get married but I’m really grateful I was able to see them get married and support them

Their families were there and then us and two heramanos from the ward. I felt bad because Jesus said he hoped more were going to come.

As they left the building we threw rice at them. I don’t remember if that’s a wedding tradition in general or just in Argentina ha ha.

Then Friday was their reception at the capilla and practically no one came. We got there and there was literally like 5 people and some more people showed up but in the end there were still only a total of maybe 25 people. I was super annoyed and mad at the members because Jesus and Maria announced it and gave out invitations to the members, they just didn’t come. The family that’s friends with Jesus and Maria did a great job of decorating and planning everything, the members from the ward just didn’t show up. I felt super bad for Jesus for the poor support the ward showed.

But I think it was still special experience for them and they seemed to enjoy it.
I have a few short videos of Jesus and Maria dancing ha ha. I was really happy overall to see them get married and to take this step in their goal of getting sealed in the temple. They've expressed their desire to get sealed in a year and it would be great to see them.

This week we also had a pretty intense spiritual experience. Thursday night, as we planned, we put some old investigators we were going to pass by the following day, one of which was a woman named Silvia. So Friday we went to her house and realized we had tried to contact her before but no one answered, but this time we rang the door bell from the fence and Silvia came out and as she came closer to the fence we saw that she was crying and she asked us who had sent us. My companion explained that we had found her name among a list of people that had talked to missionaries before. Again she asked who sent us and if we came to just come or if it was for a purpose and if we knew what was going on. So I pretty much repeated what Elder Gonzalez said and told her we saw her name as we planned and felt that we should pass by to get to know her and that we had no idea what might be going on and I asked if we could come in and share something. She let us in and as we entered and sat down she told us how she had talked to missionaries before, years ago, and gone to church once and then she broke down into tears and told us that now we had came just as she was experiencing the hardest and worst time in her life because her son, German, had recently taken his life. As she said that, I couldn’t hold back the tears from my eyes and in that moment I don’t think my heart has ever hurt so much for someone else. But with that sorrow and heartache that in an instant had entered my heart for her loss also came such an intense and powerful witness to my heart and spirit of God’s love for his children and specifically Silvia. It was in that moment, perhaps more than in any other experience in my life, that I knew and felt of God´s love for his children. I`m not sure if the tears from my eyes were tears of sorrow and sadness for her or if they were tears of gratitude and love towards my Heavenly Father. It is hard to describe what I felt and I hope it’s not something I ever forget. In that moment, the Lord sent two young men as his servants and representatives to bring her peace and comfort with the good news that she will see her son again. That, thanks to Jesus Christ and his infinite atonement, her son will be resurrected and that she will not only see him again but can live with him again, forever. We taught her of the atonement, the resurrection and the spirit world as she asked us crying, where her son was and if there was forgiveness for what he had done. She told us he had psychological problems and had always been nervous but she had never ever expected him to take his life. She told us that soon after his death she prayed and felt a sense of peace but that since then that peace had left her and how she didn’t understand why and she just has an overwhelming desire to see him and to hug him again. The Lord sent us that day to restore that peace to her soul and heart and as she continues to listen to us and accept the gospel of Jesus Christ in her life, that peace can be restored permanently to her soul, never to leave again. Thanks to the great and wonderful news of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. He lives. God loves us. I know that more than I ever have in my life, as He permitted my companion and I to be instruments in His hands and provide peace and comfort to a woman that had lost her son just three weeks ago. How wonderful it is to be a member of His church, to know of the Plan of Salvation and that we have a Savior and Redeemer, who perfectly understands us and knows how to help us if we will just turn to Him.

Elder McFarland