Monday, May 23, 2016

The Last E-Mail

Elders Valenzuela, Jensen, Bravo & McFarland with Dany.
Hola! Hola!
So you guys already know, but great news! DANY IS GETTING BAPTIZED!!!! Woooohh!! He had his interview Friday and all went well, so now it’s confirmed. He`ll be getting baptized Friday May 27th at 6:00. We decided to do it Friday since Saturday there’s a ward temple trip. I’m super pumped and extremely grateful to be able to see him get baptized before I go home. He also asked me to baptize him so it`ll be really special. Elder Bravo will confirm him on Sunday. So we are all pretty stoked. Dany is really excited. He`s been waiting for this for three years. It`ll be a great way to finish off the mission.

Gisela and her son, Facundo are coming along great. They have a new baptismal date for June 4th but it`ll probably get moved back another week since I don’t know if we`ll finish teaching them before that. They came to church though yesterday!

Graciela and Nahuel are also progressing. It was a really special week because Nahuel mentioned in a lesson that he’s starting to feel a desire to be baptized. So we talked with them after he commented that and had a super spiritual lesson. We commented how, with time, he`ll have the desire to do what we are doing right now - serving a mission. He said he already has felt the desire!!! How awesome is that!! So we set new baptismal dates for both of them for June 18. The only obstacle as of right now is that he still hasn’t come to church.

We are also teaching Yhosep and Daniela who are friends of Dany. They aren’t married so their baptism will likely delay a little bit until they can get married but they are super awesome. They went to stake conference and went to church yesterday. So we have a good group of investigators that are progressing but we`ll need to work on finding new ones this week.

Last week we had the temple trip with Hermano Luna on Saturday and it went well. Since there was bad weather early in the morning, only Dany, Graciela and Nahuel ending up going, but it was still great.

This week we have intercambios with the Assistants Tuesday night, so I’ll be with Elder Pribyl again. Then Thursday is the capital tour and afterwards a self-reliance class. Then Friday we`ll go to the temple to do a session with President Thurgood, go back to the mission home to have lunch and then have our exit interviews. Normally the Hermanas would be first but since we have our baptism that night at 600 p.m. President Thurgood scheduled me first at 2:30 p.m. and then I’ll head straight to the baptism. It`ll be a super awesome day for sure.

Wednesday and Thursday night I’ll stay with the other two Elders that are going home in the Zone Leaders pension in Banfield. Elder Bravo will stay here in 9 de Abril in a trio with Elder Jensen and Elder Valenzuela during those days. Saturday and Sunday will be normal. Then Monday morning I go to the mission home. We have a meeting with President Thurgood and eat lunch with President and Hermana Thurgood and the Assistants. Then in the afternoon, we head to the airport. So it’s a busy week but there’s still lots of time to work!

Well this will be the last time I`ll be writing you guys. It feels weird and in all honesty, doesn’t feel like it at all. A lot of emotions. There’s not much time and it’s hard to describe all I feel about these last two years. I don’t know if you can put how I feel into words. It’s been a blessing and a great joy to serve the Lord and the people of Argentina for these last two years. It has been, without a doubt, the hardest two years of my life, but it’s also been, without a doubt, the best and the happiest two years of my life. It has been an enormous blessing for me to be able to serve my God these last two years and be an instrument in His hands, and along the way experience my own conversion. I will be eternally grateful for these last two years; for the experiences I`ve had, the things I’ve learned, and for the people I`ve met.

I will close with my testimony.  I know that God is our Heavenly Father; that He knows and loves us. I know that Joseph Smith was and is a prophet of God; that through him, the church of Jesus Christ was restored again to the earth. I know that by the power of God, Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon and that it is the word of God. I testify that God created a great eternal plan so that we can return to His presence. Jesus Christ is the center of that plan. The Book of Mormon testifies of that plan and testifies of Jesus Christ and His preordained role in that plan. I know that families can be together forever. Thanks to the resurrection of Christ, death has no victory. As a missionary set apart by priesthood authority to represent Jesus Christ I testify, with all my heart, that He lives; that He is our Savior and Redeemer. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

I love you guys. Thanks for supporting me these last two years and for your many prayers. I look forward to seeing you guys after a week of hard work!

Elder McFarland

Monday, May 16, 2016

Our Ways Are Not Always The Lord's Ways

Hola! Hola!

Great to hear about the Sharks! It’d be way cool if they can keep it going. Also great to hear about your temple trip. We were going to take a trip to the temple with Hermano Luna and our investigators last Saturday but we changed it to this Saturday.

My week was good, but remember how I told you guys I was kind of sick? Well yeah I was sick for a few days after that. In the bathroom a lot ha-ha, sorry Kiersten, too much information but yeah pretty rough I dropped a few more pounds. I called Hermana Thurgood and there’s been a few other missionaries with the same thing and a few of them starting eating lots of bananas and yogurt, so she recommended I try that, so for the last few days I’ve been eating several bananas each day and a yogurt in the morning and at night. So far it’s helped, so hopefully it continues because it was starting to interrupt our proselyting, which was rough. Maybe I have a worm ha-ha, just kidding, I don’t think I do.

It was a good week. We went to Las Flores, which is a small city about 200 km from where we are at. We went on a bus for like 2.5 hours and worked there with the Elders for a day.

We were hoping for 4 or 5 baptisms at the end of the month, but it’s looking like we`ll end up having 1 for now. Gisela didn’t come to church yesterday because it was raining and her young daughter was sick, and the investigators need to attend church 3 time to get baptized. She has already attended church 2 times, but her 8 year old son, Facundo, only went once. So technically Gisela could still get baptized before I leave but not Facundo, but we are thinking it’s best if they get baptized together and not to rush Gisela, but they’ll definitely get baptized soon after I leave.

Dany didn’t come to church but he already has attended church 3 times. If all goes well, we`ll finish teaching him this week and Friday or Saturday he`ll have his baptismal interview so we can announce the baptism Sunday at church and then my last week he`ll get baptized.

Graciela was the only one that came to church yesterday, and little by little, she’s progressing. She’s come twice now but her son, Nahuel, didn’t come to church and still has never come. Graciela is a little stubborn, and I think a little afraid to make a commitment, but she’s coming along. It’s been baby steps along the way but she’s progressed a ton since we started teaching her. When I went on the intercambio with Elder Pribyl last transfer, we couldn’t even get her to go to church on Easter. Since then, she’s gone to a baptism, two ward FHEs, twice to church, and this Saturday is going to go to the temple with us.

In the end, it looks like I won’t see all of them get baptized before I leave but if there’s one thing I’ve learn in the mission, that I’ve repeated to you guys, is that our ways are not always the Lords ways. I’ve learned that over and over and over again. Interesting enough my patriarchal blessing says that I will experience success in the mission but not so much in the number of baptisms but rather in helping many come unto to the Lord. At the end of last transfer, I thought staying in El Jaguel would be better and actually would have preferred in that moment to stay. Now I realize why I didn’t. Now I’m beginning to realize why the Lord sent me back to 9 de Abril. Maybe I won’t see the full fruit of it all, but as President Thurgood said, there was still work for me to do here in 9 de Abril. Work that hadn’t even began when I was here the first time with Elder Almeida. It is amazing to see the Lord’s hand in our lives. It’s humbling to see how perfectly things start to fall in place and start to make sense. It’s exciting when we start to see as He sees and think as He thinks.

Some questions from last week that I didn’t answer. Don’t worry mom I still have about $80 or $90 that I’ve kept as emergency money, so if my debit card doesn’t work, I’ll have that.

I know I am receiving personal revelation when...? Well to be honest, many times I don’t know I’m receiving or have received personal revelation in the moment. My experience in the mission has been that I act. Sometimes thoughts to do something or share something will come to my head and many times it’s not until after that I learn or have confirmed to me that that thought or action was inspired. Sometimes I never end up knowing if a certain thing was just my own thoughts or the Spirit, but Elder Bednar has said it doesn’t matter if it was our own thoughts or the Spirit. If it incites us to do good, we know it’s from God. Perhaps what I experience many times is best explained in a talk by Elder Bednar.

¨In the spring of 1829, Oliver Cowdery was a schoolteacher in Palmyra, New York. As he learned about Joseph Smith and the work of translating the Book of Mormon, Oliver felt impressed to offer his assistance to the young prophet. Consequently, he traveled to Harmony, Pennsylvania, and became Joseph’s scribe. The timing of his arrival and the help he provided were vital to the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. The Savior subsequently revealed to Oliver that as often as he had prayed for guidance, he had received direction from the Spirit of the Lord. “If it had not been so,” the Lord declared, “thou wouldst not have come to the place where thou art at this time. Behold, thou knowest that thou hast inquired of me and I did enlighten thy mind; and now I tell thee these things that thou mayest know that thou hast been enlightened by the Spirit of truth” (D&C 6:14–15). Thus, Oliver received a revelation through the Prophet Joseph Smith informing him that he had been receiving revelation. Apparently Oliver had not recognized how and when he had been receiving direction from God and needed this instruction to increase his understanding about the spirit of revelation. In essence, Oliver had been walking in the light as the sun was rising on a cloudy morning.¨ here is the talk

Anyways, I guess that’s how I often feel and my experience many times. Of course sometimes the prompting is very obvious and clear but the majority of experiences have been like what Elder Bednar described.

About classes and housing mom, it all looks fine to me. Maybe I’ll decide to make some changes with classes after I get home, but if it isn’t possible, I’m fine with it how it is. Nothing too urgent that it can’t wait a few weeks :)

About talking in El Camino Ward, I’m not sure by when you need to know. I would love to and am interested. As we’ve already talked, it is somewhat complicated with the timing but I would enjoy it. A kind of one time opportunity. It might be kind of hard giving back to back talks and in different languages on top of that ha-ha. I’d just have to prepare well beforehand. As of right now, I’d like to. Maybe you guys can talk and see if it`ll work out. If there’s still time, maybe I can think a little bit more today and let you know next week.

I hope you guys have a great week!!

Elder McFarland

Monday, May 9, 2016

A Short Email Following A Great Mother's Day Skype.

Hole! Hola!

So yeah, it was great Skyping! It’s always surprising how fast the time goes by. I really didn’t think I’d use that much time since I’ll see you guys soon but the 40 minutes flew by. Anyways, it’ll be great to talk afterwards about everything.

So I actually failed to mention that Mom was right asking about how the Spanish I learn at BYU is different than the Spanish they speak here. So about Spanish right, the verbs have conjugations. The formal singular conjugation is usted and that’s what we, as missionaries, always use. Usted is kind of a sign of respect and so in most Spanish speaking countries when you speak to someone older or maybe like a teacher, or someone of higher rank, or someone you don’t know, you would speak in usted. In most Spanish speaking countries the informal singular conjugation is tu so when speaking to family members or friends and all that you would speak in tu. Well in Argentina, instead of speaking in tu they speak in vos and vos has a different conjugations than tu in the present tense and in commands. Another difference is that Argentina Spanish doesn’t make the distinction between formal and informal, or in other words, everyone speaks in vos with everyone. It’s all in vos, so in that sense, the Spanish I speak right now won’t change because I speak in usted anyways. It’ll just be the change in accent like we talked about yesterday. Yes, the Argentine Spanish is different from many other Spanish speaking countries. I’ve heard that some other countries use vos too but I think Argentina is kind of known for it. Anyways, if I learned and become accustomed to speaking in vos after the mission, I’d have to learn to turn it off and on because the Spanish I’ll learn at BYU will use tu and not vos.

Anyways, this last week was great. I already told you guys about some of it. I also failed to mention we had interviews this week which was great. Also Elder Pribyl arranged it so I’ll have intercambios again with him my last week, ha-ha, so that should be cool.

Well sorry this was super, super short today but I hope you guys have a great week!

Elder McFarland

Monday, May 2, 2016

A Good Week - Prayers Are Answered

Hola Hola!

So great news, two of our investigators came to church! Danny, whose 15 year old son is a member, came to church with us. Also, we stopped by another investigator, Gisela, before church and ended up waking her up and she told us she’d come. After the first hour, she showed up with her little daughter! She got there just in time for gospel principles and luckily here the sacrament meeting is last. They both have baptism dates for May 28. I’m hopeful and praying to see their baptisms before I go. Thanks for your prayers for them. They are both progressing. Danny is super excited for his baptism, yesterday he wanted to get up and share his testimony and invite everyone to his baptism ha-ha. He’s a great guy, has a rough past but is making big changes in his life. He’s aware and at times sad that it`ll mean leaving behind old ¨friends¨ and even some family members, but he’s really motivated. He’s been meeting with the missionaries off and on for 3 years, since his son got baptized and now it’s looking like he’s really ready to be baptized. We`ll eat lunch with him Sunday when I Skype you guys I think.

Gisela was a contact Elder Bravo and I had in early March but it wasn’t until I went to El Jaguel that Elder Bravo and the other two Elders started teaching her. She’s great. It’s a little hard for her to remember and understand everything but she’s really receptive.

The FHE (Family Home Evening) with Graciela and her family went well. In the end, we didn’t have as much time to share with her and take advantage of the Spirit that the restoration video brings because we started late and they had dinner prepared but it went well. Tonight we have another FHE with them and we`re going to try to do an object lesson about repentance and baptism. Maybe I can tell you guys about it on Sunday. She and her son are really the ones listening to us, but she hasn’t come to church. If there’s a chance of her getting baptized before I leave she`ll have to attend the next three Sundays. It would be great and I’m hopeful but the important thing is that she decides to get baptized. Her and her family are really great though. Yesterday her son was sick and called us to see if we could give him a blessing. Our lunch fell through so we went and gave him a blessing and they gave us lunch.

So far we haven’t had much luck with the Martinez family. We taught only Maria this week because Jorge was ¨resting¨. Yesterday the kids had a performance. They are ballet dancers, so they didn’t go to church and then our lesson with them at night fell through. But we are still hopeful.

The meeting with the Stake President and President Thurgood was great. The Stake President is great and is really excited, probably because he was called when I was in 9 de Abril the first time so he has lots of energy and desires to hasten the work in Monte Grande.

The leadership meeting was awesome. The heating in the stake center in Banfield wasn’t working so we walked like two blocks to the mission home and had our meeting there. It was really motivating. Right now, we are reporting 5 key indicators: baptisms/confirmations, lessons with members present, number of investigators that attended sacrament meeting, baptismal dates that we set for that week, and new investigators. The key indicators are lowering a little bit but baptisms are increasing a little. I’ll attach a document President Thurgood sent us about the key indicators for the last 5 weeks.

Well I guess anything else I’ll tell you Sunday and whatever questions you have I can answer then. Oh, I almost forgot other good news.  My Argentine ID card came so I’m legal in Argentina for 2 years!! Until April 2018 Wahoo!!! Hermana Mitchell came me Wednesday when it came and I was like NO WAYYY!! ha-ha. I was super excited. It`ll be a nice souvenir to have in the future and also a lot easier if I return in these next two years.

I hope you guys have a great week and see you Sunday in skype!!

Elder McFarland

Monday, April 25, 2016

Pray that they will be blessed with a desire to come to church.

Hola Hola! Thanks for the emails and the photos! It’s great to hear you guys all got to spend the weekend together for Dad’s birthday and have some family time! Also some nice news to hear the Sharks won.

So this week was great! We found a few new investigators. One was a lady, Maria, who we contacted when I was on exchanges with Elder Teichert (Elder Funk is his trainer). By the way, Elder Funk and Elder Teichert are tearing it up in their area in Ezeiza so you can tell Elder Funk’s uncle (the San Jose Mission President Mella) when you see him ha-ha. We contacted this lady and her two kids and then two days later Elder Bravo and I passed by their house and they let us in. We met her husband, well they aren’t married yet, but we met him and the rest of their kids. They have 4 little kids, a 9 year old, being the oldest. They are both from Paraguay and Maria has a sister in Paraguay that’s a member of the church so she’s heard of the church and she remembers her sister commentating on how much the church stresses the family. Last night we stopped by, but only talked with her since Jorge, her spouse, had been drinking a little and so he didn’t want to join us, but they are a super awesome family. The 9 year old kid, Jose, told us to wait for him to say the opening prayer during the first lesson and then last night we taught him how to pray. They didn’t come to church but I’m pretty sure they’ll come this next week. They accepted a baptismal date for May 28, but they’ll have to get married first. We are excited for them.

We are also seeing some slow but steady progress in another investigator, Graciela and her son, Nahuel. We`ve been teaching them since I got here from the office and she’s a little stubborn but they are super awesome. She has a friend that just got baptized a few months ago by the other Elders in 9 de Abril and actually tonight we are going to have a family home evening with them in Graciela’s home. We are planning to watch the shorter restoration video since we just taught the restoration and then have a short testimony meeting. So we are pumped.

We also have a few other investigators we are working with, so things are picking up here. This week we have our meeting with the stake president and President Thurgood and we have our leadership meeting with all the zone leaders. Things are going great though. This morning Elder Bravo cut my hair and didn’t turn out too bad ha-ha. So if you are praying for me or my investigators this week, pray that they will be blessed with a desire to come to church. That’s a big challenge we are having right now. Yesterday before church, we passed by 4 investigators/families to accompany them to church but Maria and her family were leaving for Monte Grande and the other 3 didn’t answer. Some names of the investigators - the Martinez Family: Jorge, Maria, and Jose (and three other small children); Giselda and her son, Facundo; Graciela and her son, Nahuel; and also Dani. Those are the investigators we are mostly working with and that are showing potential as of right now. If you can keep them in your prayers. We are seeing miracles around us every day and I feel in the next couple weeks we`ll see lots more. Hope you guys have a great week!

Elder McFarland

Monday, April 18, 2016

Goal for the last 6 weeks: Ignore that it is my last tranfer, to forget about myself and just serve these people

Hola Hola!!

So I’ll finish my mission up in 9 de Abril!! It’s funny what I wrote last week because as the week went on, the more and more I was kind of hoping I would stay in El Jaguel. Not to take away from 9 de Abril and my love for the area and members there, just that we had a great week in El Jaguel and it was a lot harder to leave than I thought it’d be. Like I had told you guys, I was going to be happy either way but I started to prefer the idea of staying in El Jaguel. The night before I found out, I prayed and kind of just told my Heavenly Father what I was thinking and what I was kind of wanting. I told him straight up that if it was up to me I`d stay in El Jaguel, I felt like it would better for me and just better overall, but that I trusted in Him and it wasn’t what I wanted, rather what He wanted and that He sees and understands things I don’t see nor understand. So the next morning when I found out, a great peace came over me and I felt good about it. It also helps that I trust completely in President Thurgood, that he was called of God and that he will be obedient to the promptings he receives. I was just talking to my companion about how this transfer and other recent transfers there have been many surprising and unexpected changes in the mission. I told Elder Bravo that I love that about President Thurgood because seeing that and also from personal experience, I know that he does what he feels and knows to be correct, not necessarily what always makes sense or what appears would be ¨right¨.  I’m sure all mission presidents do, but I have so much trust in him and I realized the importance of sustaining our leaders.

We had a great week in El Jaguel. I had the most lessons with members while on my mission this last week. It was amazing and we had an investigator and her two kids in church with us on Sunday. Elder Wilson is from Utah, but I don’t remember which city. It was great being with him. He’s really humble and he’s a great guy and a great missionary.

It is very weird for me to think that I’m starting my last transfer. A quote shared by a missionary ending his mission in President Thurgood’s letter last week said ¨“Best solution to not feeling sad about finishing the mission: Just ignore that and help these people. Or, as Pres. Hinckley's father put it, forget yourself and go to work!” So that will be my goal for this transfer; to ignore that it is my last transfer, to forget about myself and just serve these people. If I serve the people and am lost in their service, it will be impossible for me to feel sad about finishing the mission because I will be filled with love for them and consumed by thoughts of how I can help them instead of thoughts of how sad it is to leave the mission behind. I will miss the mission the rest of my life, why start missing it now? Why start missing it all now when I continue to wake up every day and look forward to enjoying that day? If I really just strive to serve these people with all my heart, mind, and strength then I I will be consumed in my service and it will be impossible for me to feel sad about finishing the mission. That is my goal for the next six weeks.
I hope you guys have a great week!

Elder McFarland

Monday, April 11, 2016

Surpirse! Emergency Transfer.

Hola Hola!

So guess what?? I had another surprise/emergency change! Last Thursday, I got a call from the Assistants (Elder Pribyl) telling me that an Elder in the zone, that was serving in El Jaguel, was going home and that President Thurgood wanted me to go to El Jaguel until the end of the transfer to work with that missionary’s companion, Elder Wilson, who is in his first transfer. So I packed a suitcase with clothes and stuff for a week or so. Then, that night a taxi came and picked me up and took me to El Jaguel, so I’m currently in El Jaguel with Elder Wilson. They didn’t tell me much.  I have no idea exactly how long I’ll be here or what will happen at transfers. When Elder Pribyl called it sounded like it would be just for the last week or so of the transfer, until Elder Wilson got a new companion and then I’d go back to 9 de Abril, but I’ve been thinking and it wouldn’t surprise me if President Thurgood just decided to keep me here and have me finish up Elder Wilson’s training. Elder Bravo stayed in 9 de Abril with the other two Elders that are there, Elder Jensen and Elder Sayaz, so they are in a trio right now. El Jaguel only has two Elders so I think that President Thurgood sent me here, instead of putting Elder Wilson in a trio in another area so that he wouldn’t have to close El Jaguel for 10 days because we have a few investigators here and it would have hurt the area a lot to close it for 10 days. Like I said, this is Elder Wilson’s first transfer so it’s not like they could have really gotten a mini missionary either. So yeah, I’m not sure what`ll happen, but I’m not too worried or anxious about it either. In my few days in El Jaguel, I’ve come to love the area and a few of the people and members I’ve met, so I’d be completely content to finish up here. I’d also be happy to finish up back in 9 de Abril.

From unexcitingly getting sent to the offices, to returning to 9 de Abril so quickly, to now getting sent to El Jaguel for at least a week, I’ve had a few surprising and unexpected changes in the last 6 months of my mission so I’ve come to kind of take things as they come and just trust in the Lord. Maybe I was sent back to 9 de Abril just so that I was close by, to then be sent to El Jaguel. Maybe I was sent to El Jaguel for a week to help someone, or help Elder Wilson, or to learn from Elder Wilson. In the end, I have no idea the reasons or His plans. I just trust in His plans and His wisdom and realize that they are not the same as mine. I’ve come to learn that the Lord truly does work in mysterious ways, but that He knows infinitely better than us. The mission is teaching me lots of things, but perhaps most of all, to just trust in my Heavenly Father.

These last few days with Elder Wilson have been great. He’s in his first transfer but his first companion didn’t teach him much of the area or about what’s going on, so to no fault of his, he just didn’t really know what was going on when we started working Friday morning. But he’s a great Elder.  He’s got a great heart and a desire to serve and learn. He’s kind of struggling with the language, but he’s new and it’s coming along. We found two new investigators the other day, well one was an old investigator. Rufina and Domingo are their names and they are old, haha. Then yesterday, we met some inactives and taught one of the sisters and her boyfriend. Cynthia and David are their names and they have two daughters and David accepted the invitation to be baptized but Cynthia has to get divorced first from a previous relationship 8 years ago so that her and David can get married. But yeah, we are getting things going here. They already had a few investigator, but only really one that was sort of progressing, a girl that’s like 11 years old that has a baptismal date for April 23.

As far as 9 de Abril is concerned, before I left at least, we still had not been able to teach Jose, Marilina, and Dora again. We were also unable to find Juan, but we did find Dani and set an appointment with him. He said he’d go to church yesterday but I haven’t talked to Elder Bravo yet to see if he did. So yeah, I’ll have to talk to Elder Bravo and see how it’s going over there. It’s probably been tough because 9 de Abril is a huge area and it`ll be hard to cover both our area and the area of the other Elders.

So this week I`ll be working with Elder Wilson. Hopefully, we can find some more investigators and see progress in the ones we already have. I guess that’s all for now. We`ll see what happens next week when I email and I know where I end up, ha-ha. I hope you guys have a great week!

Elder McFarland

PS This is part of the email I sent to President Thurgood this week and is similar to what I told you guys:

¨With some of the unexpected and somewhat surprising changes that I`ve had in my mission in the last 6 months of my mission, like going to the offices, returning to 9 de Abril, and now working in El Jaguel, I have learned that the Lord does indeed work in mysterious ways! ha-ha. But in all seriousness, I have come to more fully trust in my Heavenly Father and in His plan. I`m learning to trust myself in His hands as I see Him guiding me along the way. Sometimes it appears He is leading me into the dark, the unknown or the uncomfortable but I`ve learned to trust in Him and His wisdom. Then, as I continue in faith, I come to see what He sees. I come to realize that the course that He has led me on is perfect and that ¨He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of [His children].¨ (2 Nephi 26:24) I am eternally grateful for the mission and what it has taught me and the opportunities it’s provided me. Although sometimes we do not fully understand why some things happen or even why some things don’t happen, or why sometimes His plans seem to not make sense or seem so different from ours, I have a testimony that that verse (2 Nephi 26:24) is true. In that verse, I substitute His children for the world so that we can apply it to ourselves and our lives. He is our Father and His Son is our Savior. They will not do anything that is not for our benefit, or that will not further us on the path that leads back to them. It may be uncomfortable at times; it may be painful or it may be confusing or frustrating at times, but they desire our eternal happiness and joy more than our present but momentary comfort and pleasure. That is not to say we cannot have happiness and joy in this life; that it’s reserved for only the eternity. No, we learn in 2 Nephi 2:25 that we were made to have joy in this life and to be happy in our families. At the same time though, we must know that, like Elder Holland said, salvation is not a cheap experience, it never was. If it wasn’t easy for Jesus Christ, the son of God, how can we expect it`ll ever be easy for us.

Monday, April 4, 2016

General Conference

Hola, Hola!

So yeah this week was great with the consejo de liderazgo and then finishing off the week with conference. I feel the same as you Dad, when you were on your mission. Conference has taken on a whole new meaning and importance in my life being in the mission. Before the mission I listened, but to be honest didn’t pay much attention and got practically nothing out of it. Actually I remember one of the conferences at BYU, I played Apples to Apples with some of the guys as we had conference on in the background and then I posted the picture to Instagram. How silly and foolish I feel now for doing both of those things. I have come to absolutely love General Conference in the mission. I remember my first General Conference was such a powerful and spiritual experience. I felt so energized and strengthened and I have felt that way ever since. I have some comments about General Conference so I’ll come back to it.

This week was a good week but a little slower week in terms of the week. The meetings this week took out substantial time to proselyte. Obviously in the end, the time lost was worth it with the instruction I received in the consejo de liderazgo and General Conference. We had intercambios this week and found another potential family but we`ll have to see if we can teach them again this week. We were unable to teach Jose, Marilina and his mom, Dora this week. A family friend of theirs had an ACV this week and later passed away. She was 28 I believe and left a husband and a few children. So we weren’t able to enter and teach them this week and they were dealing with that and going to the hospital, but we were able to talk twice to Jose on his doorstep and testified to him the reality of the plan of salvation and that although there will always be pain and sadness when a loved one dies, we can find comfort, hope, and peace in the Lord’s atonement and His resurrection. We hope to be able to find them and teach them this week so we can teach them all the plan of salvation. We also were unable to find and teach Dani and Juan because they weren’t home when we passed by and neither of them have phones, but hopefully this week we`ll find them while they are home.

Last week we watched Monsters University for the district activity and today is the zone activity and we were going to play capture the flag but it rained last night and it has been off and on today so I think we`ll end up watching another movie. This week we`ll also have two intercambios.

So we watched conference in the stake center in Monte Grande and watched it in English with some other Elders. I went into conference with really four questions and not surprisingly I felt I received an answer or some guidance and counsel for all four of them. While I do not like talking about it or thinking about it, the reality is I’m coming to the end of my mission and one thing that has been on my mind from time to time and maybe you could call a worry is the transition back to ¨normal life¨. How can I make the transition from mission life to going back home while maintaining my spiritual progress and continuing my discipleship?  I felt I received a lot of answers and counsel to that question, one of which is that the temple was talked about a lot this conference. I find it interesting that last conference, if I remember right, there was a heavy theme about our Sabbath day worship and making it a delight in all levels of the church. Now this conference, there was a strong emphasis on the temples. I had felt pretty strongly beforehand a desire to work in the temple when I get back home. That desire grew when I heard about Scott’s desire to work in the San Diego temple and hearing so much about temples in the conference confirmed my decision and desire to work in the temple while I’m at BYU, especially for the summer semester when I first get back. So I’ll have to look into that when I get home and see if it’s a possibility. Also with respect to my transition, I loved Sister Durham’s talk about kicking off the weight of the world. I think it was directed at parents helping their youth, if I remember right, but I took it for me as the key to making the transition. I will be kicking anything out of my life that seems to be drowning out the quiet whisperings of the Spirit. Elder Stevenson talked about three ways to find the keys. For me it was 1, continue with my missionary service at home: 2, attend the temple (or work there like I mentioned); 3, go forward with faith by continuing the fundamentals of discipleship, daily scripture study and prayer. Next, Elder Ballard talked about family counsels and getting rid of the distractions of electronic devices in those moments. So another goal is to put away my phone or electric devices when I’m with family and to find moderation in the use of it and have family counsels and counsels with my roommates. From Elder Waddle, I thought of who am I listening to? After the mission, will I be listening to the prophets and leaders of the church, in essence will I be listening to Christ, or will I begin to listen to the great and spacious building? Always having that question in mind with help with the transition as many things will start to compete for my attention. Lastly, I absolutely loved Elder Hollands talk and you guys agreed. I felt it helped me a lot with my worry about the transition as well as being able to finish the mission strong. So that was some of my thoughts. I haven’t gotten a chance to go over my notes and really meditate over them and gather my thoughts so maybe next week or later on I’ll share more.

With respect to my itinerary, yes I have it. Well I don’t have it, but Hermana Mitchell showed it to me a week or two ago when I went back to the office one day to help. I wasn’t very happy to see it to be honest ha-ha. But yes I know and I thought about telling you but I decided not to because, well you guys know, I don’t want to talk about it much. Sorry, don’t get mad ha-ha, but yes, unless it’s changed since I saw it I`ll get home Tuesday (May 31st) around noon. Ok, no more ha-ha.

About visas, I was able to get a new precaria so I’ll be legal until like June 13th I believe. So I’ll leave legally and coming back shouldn’t be a problem at all.

Thanks for everything! I’m happy to hear you guys enjoyed conference and got a lot out of it and took small plates ha-ha. I tried to be better about that this conference and not take notes of just what was said but the promptings and feelings that came to my heart and mind as I watched. That photo at the SAP Center is awesome ha-ha. I hope everyone is doing well. Love you!!

Elder McFarland

Monday, March 28, 2016

Intercambio with Elder Pribyl and the Big Pizza

As we were walking to cyber in Monte Grande, for some reason there's just like an old Argentine fighter jet chillin in the middle of a round about...ha-ha, pretty sick.

Hola! Hola!

So this week started out kind of rough. We weren’t seeing a lot of success and results from our work, but we finished the week with lots of blessings! We had interviews this week and it was great as always being able to talk to President Thurgood. Turns out it wasn’t my last interview. Normally we switch off every other transfer between interviews and zone conferences, but next transfer President Thurgood is going to have interviews again and then in June before he leaves he’s going to end with zone conferences. So I won’t have another zone conference :( but I’ll have another interview! Elder Bravo and I reviewed the agendas and the area books at the interviews, the same thing Elder Almeida and I did.

After we finished we did intercambios with the Assistants and I stayed in 9 de Abril with Elder Pribyl. It was a super awesome and edifying intercambio. We left in the afternoon, heading late to a lesson we had set with an old investigator we had found a couple days before. As we were walking, Elder Pribyl felt impressed to talk to a family that was sitting on the sidewalk outside their home. So we contacted them and asked if we could share a short message and they said yes so Elder Pribyl sat right down on the sidewalk and began teaching. It was awesome ha-ha. So we sat down on the sidewalk, started talking to them, said a prayer and taught the restoration. It was a man, Jose, who’s probably in his late 20s or early 30s with his wife and his mom. They were super receptive and accepted a baptismal invitation for April 23. Dora, the mom, committed to come to church and we offered to walk with her.

On Sunday, we first went to look for another investigator and then when we passed by Dora’s house to get her, her daughter-in-law said she had already left for church. When we got to church, she was outside!! So we took her in with us and she stayed for all three hours. Then in the afternoon, we went back to their house to teach them. They hadn’t read the Book of Mormon so we read the introduction and talked a little about it and they had some pretty good questions. Jose asked about the Holy Ghost and what or who it is. Dora asked why only the men hold the priesthood. Also, we had to clarify with Jose that Jehovah is Jesus Christ, not God the Father. The whole time, as we responded to their questions, they were super receptive and would say “oh, now I get it or now I understand¨ and then we would repeat what they had learned and understood from our answers. Elder Bravo and I were both kind of nervous as we responded. Personally, in a lesson, that was a first time someone’s asked me why only men hold the priesthood. Also, I was worried about clarifying that Jehovah is Jesus Christ because I was worried Jose would get offended. But they were super open. Jose said he’s really open to learn and he believes there’s one true church and wants to find. He wants to know but doesn’t know how he`ll know and ask us how he’ll know. We also taught them about having a family prayer since they just pray individually, faa.

Elder Pribyl and I were super pumped to find them and again yesterday Elder Bravo and I were super excited after the lesson seeing how prepared and receptive they have been. I think about what would have happened if Elder Pribyl hadn’t opened his mouth in that moment? Or what if we had said to ourselves that we were heading late to a lesson that had been planned and had just contacted them and left them with a pass along card? At the very least, in the short term, this family would not have been introduced to the restored gospel and wouldn’t now be on a path leading them to receive the saving ordinance of baptism. Sometimes in life we have our plans, and we should have our plans because having plans and goals is an act of faith and helps us have direction. But, we must also be humble enough to submit ourselves to His will and His plans so that when directed, we will be willing to deviate from our original plans or goals that we have set in order to achieve and carry out His will.  His will and His plans are not only always better than own, but they are perfect. I’m grateful Elder Pribyl had the faith to trust in the promptings of the Spirit, to talk to this family and then to teach them in the moment, because if not we would not have found them.

So the intercambio with Elder Pribyl was great. He’s a great missionary and will be a great Assistant. Another highlight of the week is that besides having Dora come to church, we had another investigator, Dani, come to church. His son is a member and it’s been like three years since Dani has gone to church. About two weeks ago, a member told us about a convert he had baptized when he had served here but then went inactive. So this week we contacted this man, Juan Carlos, and he came to church too and has an interview with the Bishop on Wednesday!! faa.

It’s been an awesome week! Today we have our District activity and this week we have consejo de liderazgo (leadership council) with all the Zone Leaders.

Oh and happy late Easter!! Elder Bravo and I got our packages this week! Thank you!!! Elder Bravo says thank you very much!!

I hope you guys have a great week!

Elder McFarland

 On the intercambio with Elder Pribyl, we bought a HUGE pizza for dinner.  Take a look... it was so big that the box wouldn't even fit in our fridge.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Super Short

Hola, Hola!

This week was really great! Although I’ve been kind of sick the last couple days with a cold, but the work is going great. We still don’t have any investigators progressing though.

This week we have interviews. It’ll be my last one until my exit interview... and after the interviews we have intercambios with the assistants, so I’m going to be with Elder Pribyl in 9 de Abril!! ha-ha. We are super stoked. It’ll be awesome to work together for a day in the mission field, proselyting. I definitely never expected that!

That’s great to hear about the new mission calls, tell them congrats for me!! Well this is super short but I hope you guys have a great week!!

Monday, March 14, 2016

It Is Good To Be Back

Hola Hola!

So it was awesome - first week back in 9 de Abril!! It has been so great being back in the field, working in the streets and teaching the gospel. Perhaps being in the offices helped me appreciate the time I have left as a missionary. I was so worried and sad when I first got the call to go to the offices that my proselyting mission was over and it hurt. At the beginning I really didn’t think I’d get back out teaching and working like a “normal” missionary, so it is a huge blessing to be back at “work”. I’ve found coming back in the field, from the offices, that I’m a lot more direct and bold talking with the people. I feel like I’ve found a better balance of the same time being able to convey the love that God has for them.

Right now we have a handful of investigators and we found a bunch of new ones this last week. Up until now, none are progressing. We found an awesome young couple the other day. We walked by their house and they were outside drinking mate with their young son and we felt we should return and talk to them, so we did. They ended up letting us in and we were able to teach them. Nahuel and Daiana are their names and they are 24 and 22 respectively with a 6 year old daughter and 5 year old son. They have had problems in their relationship and just 3 weeks ago got back together after being separated for some time. We found them on Saturday and taught them and they said they’d come to church. We offered to come get them at their house and walk with them to church but they politely declined. In the end, they didn’t show up so that was a bummer but they did say that they had a commitment later that day. We are hopeful because they have a ton of potential, especially right now in their lives. We are hoping to be able to take Brenda and Junior with us to a leccion (lesson) because we think they’d be able to help them out a lot.

It was also super special seeing everyone again. Pretty much everyone remembered me. A few of the members from the other half of the ward boundaries recognized me but had forgotten I had served in the ward ha-ha. But yeah, everyone was kind of confused and at first thought maybe I was in a nearby area and just there on an intercambio. Definitely been special being back and seeing everyone, especially after not being able to say goodbye. If I stay for another transfer and finish up here, which I’m almost sure I will, it’ll definitely be hard to say goodbye.

Being with Elder Bravo has also been super great. He’s an awesome missionary and we’ve been working super hard. We get along great and he’s a great guy so I’m super pumped for this transfer and I’ll be happy if I finish up with him.

The Lunas are doing great. Hermano Luna still feels great pain and grief with the loss of his wife and obviously still misses her greatly but he’s continuing on with great faith. Still working hard as Ward Mission Leader. He works as a temple worker and is just a great man.

I did end up going to the offices last week, twice actually. Poor Elder Ward. It’s been pretty much a whitewash for him. With the Medinas, I never got the chance to really teach and train them well, since I didn’t work in the office often, and they haven’t really been able to help Elder Ward out at all so far with what they did learn. He came in and went over some notes I left, but was pretty lost.  I went in twice and helped him out. I think he’s pretty much set, but I’m going to go with him for the first time he does tramites. It was kind of interesting because I was wondering how being back in the field would be. Because honestly I had kind of forgotten what it was like to proselyte all day, ha-ha, but we got to work and it feels so normal and so great. At this point, like I mentioned a little last week, now I kind of don’t remember what the office is like, ha-ha.

So yeah we are also working with the Easter initiative a lot. We got the pass along cards and we started using those yesterday. I haven’t gotten a chance to see the video yet though, but I’m excited.

Well I guess that’s it for now. I hope you guys have a great week. Thank you for the words of encouragement and for everything! I’m always excited to hear how everyone is doing and seeing the blessings, not only here, but back at home too. Miss you.

Elder McFarland

P.S. Good news!!! So Elder Ward just called me and my carta de culto came today! That’s the document I was missing and have had trouble with, so today my new one came and now tomorrow we are going to go to migraciones, so hopefully they won’t deport me now!! Ha-ha. But really, hopefully now I can do my tramites and it`ll all go smoothly this time. I’ll keep you guys updated!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Goodbye Office, Hello 9 de Abril (Take 2)


So I’m currently in 9 de Abril sitting in a cyber, ha-ha. So Elder Bravo and I got back to our pension around 12 so we went to buy a few things to make lunch and he cooked while I started to unpack. After emailing we`ll go buy groceries for the week and then head back to the pension to finish unpacking and clean. Tonight sounds like we`ll pass by a contact they did yesterday and then at 7:30 p.m. we have a Family Home Evening (FHE) with the Lunas. Hermano Luna, if you remember, is the Ward Mission Leader whose wife passed away like two months before I got to 9 de Abril the first time, so I’m pumped to see them again. I’m also excited because things seem to be going well for the most part here. Junior and Brenda (if you don’t remember, Junior is a member and his wife, Brenda, got baptized when I was here with Elder Almeida) still seem to be going strong. Clara Sanchez, who we taught and got baptized and whose parents are members seems to be going to church still and her parents got sealed before they were inactive before. But apparently there’s a guy going around in the area of Monte Grande talking to missionaries and members and saying dumb things and asking them stupid questions like ¨Did you know Joseph Smith did such and such¨ and seems to be sharing anti-Mormon stuff. Well anyways, he’s made his way around and has talked to several of the missionaries in the zone and apparently talked to one of Elder Almeida’s converts here in 9 de Abril and just wrecked his faith. He was a recent convert who was going strong, got the priesthood, was sharing the gospel, and I think just before I left got a calling. But I guess this guy went over and talked to him and now the recent convert doesn’t want anything to do with the church. I don’t know who this guy is but if Elder Bravo and I come across him we`re going to go Alma and Amulek on him. Other than that, things seem to be rolling along well here.

So it’s a little weird being back, ha-ha. It’s weird because only though I’ve been back for a couple hours, it already feels kind of normal to be back and the offices, I feel like will very soon feel like a dream. Which makes me nervous for a couple months... it’s great though at the same time I feel like I can just jump right back in and get to work. I know the area pretty well still, I know the members, so now Elder Bravo and I can just get right to it. Elder Bravo seems like a really great guy and a great missionary, so I’m really excited.

And while I’m definitely happy to be back in the field working in 9 de Abril, I’m very grateful for the time I had in the offices. It was hard at first, and really the whole time - really just feeling a lot of the time it was more like a job than a mission. But it provided me with some great experiences and opportunities and I also learned lots. I also got to know the Mitchells and the Thurgoods a little bit better. I will miss that but I’m sure I’ll stay in contact with them. It`ll definitely be interesting to see what happens. We`ll see later on if my time in the offices has an impact on my career choice. But I feel that being in the offices and the change directly and indirectly helped me increase my faith and trust in the Lord. With the unexpected changes along with personal experiences in that time, I’ve come to trust my Heavenly Father a lot more. While I’ll be the first to admit my faith and trust is not perfect and I still have lots of room for improvement,  I’ve grown a lot in that aspect. I feel like I’ve learned much about putting the Lord first in all things and trusting in Him. Hopefully now that trust and faith will only grow. And hopefully now and after the mission it will help me to be able to better recognize and follow the promptings of the Spirit.

So yes I’m in the same pension as before, even the same bed, desk and closet, ha-ha. Elder Ward, who was in Ezeiza, is now doing the Visas and the poor guy, we`ll see how it goes but I didn’t get to train him and I’m not sure how much the Medinas will be able to help. I tried my best to leave some Power Points and some notes for him to go off of but I might have to return to the offices one day this week or soon to help him out and explain everything. That’s an interesting comment about reading my journal and seeing what I wrote and felt at that time and see the differences now. I hadn’t thought of that and will have to do that. Well I suppose that’s all for now. I hope you have a great week. Miss you!

Elder McFarland

Elder McFarland & Elder Ginatto
at the beginning of the last transfer at the end of January.

It was funny because we got along great and we joked around in the offices and the day before this we heard on the capital tour that in the cemetery there's a statue of a wife whose husband died and their marriage was a love hate relationship so she requested to have her back turned to her husband when she passed away.

Elder McFarland & Elder Tobler

Last week we were cooking and as the food was cooking we were in the office on the computer and Hermana Mitchell asked us for a photo, haha.

Androgue Zone Conference - February 2016

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Unfinished Business

Hola Hola!

So yes I’m getting transferred! President Thurgood called me Wednesday night telling me that he has felt various impressions that I should return to 9 de Abril (his last area before he went to the mission office in November) as Zone Leader! Crazy right!?! Without even thinking I responded ¨en serio?!¨ and he responded ¨en serio¨ ha-ha and then he told me that it appears that there’s some ¨unfinished business¨ for me to take care of in 9 de Abril. So yeah I’m going back to 9 de Abril to finish my mission! I’ll be companions with Elder Bravo who’s there right now. Elder Bravo is from Chile and only has about 8 months in the mission so he’s still pretty young. Last transfer was his first transfer as Zone Leader and while I don’t know him at all, I’ve heard good things about him so I’m pumped. I’m also super excited to see everyone there again since I didn’t get to say goodbye to literally any of the members or investigators.

I was excited when I found out but also just kind of in a daze trying to process it because of how unexpected it was. When President Thurgood told me a week or two ago that I was still getting transferred he said it would probably surprise me and that it did! It’s literally the last place I would have thought of. I’m excited though to go back to 9 de Abril because it’s a super awesome ward and area with lots of work to do. Apparently though I must not have done everything I was supposed to because there’s still work for me to do there.

The night when President Thurgood called me I had a hard time going to sleep because my mind was just racing; excited to go back as well as thinking about the ¨unfinished business¨. It’s definitely interesting. Everyone was super surprised when they found out. In my mission I’ve only heard of one other Elder returning to a previous area but he returned many months later. I’m only returning to 9 de Abril 3 months later, so definitely a little out of the ordinary. But I stand by what I said last week in me email - that these last few months of my mission have presented several experiences where I’ve learned to trust in the Lord and His wisdom and His plans. I have complete trust and faith that 9 de Abril is indeed where the Lord wants me to go. Now I have absolutely no idea what the reason for me going back is. I don’t know what it is the Lord wants me to do or to learn while I’m there again. I don’t know if going back is due to not being diligent in my service the first time. It might be, it might not be. I’ve tried not to think about that too much because often times I feel like Satan uses the past to distract and discourage us in the present. The fact is that if I really did not do something that I was supposed to the first time, then well the past is in the past and now I must take advantage of the second opportunity and do it. Or perhaps a new opportunity to serve in 9 de Abril will bring new opportunities to do what the Lord would have me do. Maybe my time in the offices was necessary to help me learn things and grow in ways to be a better instrument in the Lords hands and better prepared. I simply do not know. I am a little anxious and excited to see how the next few months play out and to come to see why I was sent back. But I do know that it is where I’m supposed to be. I’m absolutely ready to get back in the field though to work my last few months and just work until I drop dead. I’m also excited to be Zone Leader again. I loved being able to serve the other missionaries in my Zone and help them and the opportunities it gives to learn and grow as a missionary and leader.

I saw Elder Pribyl last night in his area. We were talking and we feel blessed because we’ve been able to see each other lots of times in our missions and we´ll see each other a few more times including the last day of my mission and we´ll almost for sure have an intercambio together.
Anyways I guess that´ll probably be it for today. Today there’s lots of work to do getting ready for tomorrow. Tonight I’ll have to pack my suitcases. Imagine I’ll be getting on tomorrow since Elder Bravo will have to write, so I’ll include some other things tomorrow in an email but I wanted to let you guys know of the changes. I miss and love you guys!

Elder McFarland

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Purpose Of The Gospel...

Hola Hola!

So this week was super busy with pensions and visas and we didn’t get to proselyte at all this week which was a huge bummer. Hopefully tomorrow afternoon we’ll have some time. Apparently a member family talked to the sister missionaries in our ward and asked them to ask us if we could teach their son who’s getting baptized in a couple weeks. To be honest, I’m not even sure which members they are which is pretty sad. I think the boy is 8 years old but the family apparently would still like us to teach him and apparently the boy chose us so I think we are going to talk to the family tomorrow and try to arrange a few visits to teach their son. So even though it’s not an investigator, we are pretty excited to teach someone, ha-ha, and hopefully we can use this to strengthen our relationship with the members and find others to teach. So the potato bar last Monday was super good. I think Hermana Mitchell made this gravy which was delicious.

This next week is going to be even busier. I’ll have tramites Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Thursday, I’ll be going to Capital with Elder Nixon to go to the US Consulate at 8 am. We’ll probably have to leave here in a taxi early in the morning. Then Wednesday is when Elder Bednar comes. We have to be in a capilla in Caballito, which is in capital I think, at 8 am and it’ll start at 9 am. All of the missionaries are meeting up at the stake centers and each zone is taking a bus to Caballito. Ours leaves at 6:15 am so we have to be at the stake center, which is our chapel, lucky us, ha-ha, at 5:45 am. Elder Bednar has asked us to read three talks to prepare for the meeting. Between the 4 missions there should be some 800 or 900 missionaries there I believe. It’s unlikely we’ll be able to shake hands with Elder Bednar like we did with President Nelson. I’m super excited though. It should be great.

So the good news is that Thursday I got a few cartas de culto from the area, which means that more should be coming. I emailed them asking about mine and other cartas that we need urgently and they told me we should be getting them in about 2 weeks or so. So there’s still hope for me to become legal! Ha-ha.

As for transfers, I still have no idea. It’s obvious President Thurgood would like to have me leave the office and work my last two transfers, but I don’t know what’ll happen. At this point I highly doubt I’d train an Elder to replace me before the transfer. The medinas are definitely not ready to take over. An option we talked about is that I could train Elder Tobler, who’s one of the registradores, so that he could continue to train the Medinas.  I’m not sure what’ll happen. I would prefer to leave and be able to proselyte but at the same time I think it might be best that I stay one more transfer to help the Medinas or train someone else. So whatever happens, I’ll be fine I suppose. Although it is getting hard again not being able to teach and proselyte. In the beginning it was real hard with the sudden change, but then I kind of got used to it and was busy working but now I’m missing teaching and proselyting again and I just thought we’d have more time to proselyte but we haven’t. Things continue to be hard with the Medinas though. I just don’t spend enough time with them to be able to sit down and train them. It’s hard for them to learn fast and remember everything. Elder Medina is very focused with the pensionero aspect of it and that has also complicated things. In the end, I think it’s becoming apparent that the vision President Thurgood had and hoped for, of having the Medinas take over the pensions and visas, isn’t feasible. The nature of the assignment is set up where Elder Ginatto gets a ton of calls constantly, from real estate agents, from workers, from missionaries and he gets those calls almost 24/7. So for the Medinas to be able to direct the efforts and be on top of everything they would have to be receiving those calls, but they are just not in a position, as a senior couple, to be receiving calls 24/7 and be working full time, including the weekends and late at night or early in the mornings. At that point the missionary would continue to be informed directly of everything and he’d have to relay that information to the Medinas, which we are doing right now. President Thurgood’s view was to go directly to the Medinas, and when necessary they could tell us what needed to be done, but we just don’t see that being a possibility.  I think this next week we might talk again with President Thurgood and just try to figure out what their role will be in the office and then work towards that. With all that going on, things are going well.

With the busy schedule, time is flying by which kind of scares me. Hermana Mitchell gives me a list of the next three transfers with the missionaries that are arriving and the missionaries that are going home. The list I had previously just went up until April’s transfer, but this last week she gave me the new one and now my name is on it... yeah I didn’t handle that so well. It’s made even worse because with my assignment I interact a lot with the new missionaries that just arrived and when I take them to do tramites and they ask me how much time I have left and then they follow up with their response commenting about how little time I have left, it is hard. Anyways, I’m trying to make the best of it and enjoy it and as they say in sports "to leave it all on the field" or like Elder Holland said I want you guys to have to come pick me up at the airport with a stretcher. I realized if I had my family with me, I could just continue this life forever. Not to say I’m not excited to return and see you and friends and to continue my schooling among other things, but at this point I kind of just feel like I was born in the mission and that this is my life ha-ha. I don’t need much more, other than my family.

I know I’ll enjoy watching movies, listening to music, going out and doing things after my mission, but on the mission one realizes how insignificant all those other things are.  I think about before the mission and how absorbed I was with my cell phone ha-ha. It was kind of pathetic I realize now. I mean, I guess the Stars Wars movie came out and I was like, ehh, that’s cool. The new Batman vs. Superman movie is coming out, I don’t know when, and I’ll definitely watch it after my mission and I’m sure it’ll be great but right now it’s just like, ehh, not really important; don’t really care, ha-ha. The other day when you guys emailed me telling me it was the Super Bowl that day, I literally had no idea. I had completely forgotten that the Super Bowl was coming up. It’s just amazing how on the mission one comes to realize how much temporal and material things can become a distraction in our lives and how insignificant they truly are. Not to sound like a fanatic or anything, like I said, I’m sure I’ll love and enjoy all those things after my mission, but I also hope in a much more moderated way. In the mission it’s so easy to always remember the reason why we are here on the earth. It’s what the mission is all about. It’s one of the messages we share, and I love it because I feel like "in the real world" it’s so easy to forget that important truth. We can get so caught up in the things of everyday life or overly obsessed with material possessions or entertainment.

I guess my theme and invitation is that we need to always keep in mind the true reason we are here on the earth and the purpose of mortality and to make any needed corrections in our lives, to keep our focus maintained on the end goal, eternal life and exaltation; that we can find moderation in all things, and always make time for the things of greatest worth; things that will help us fulfill the measure of our creation and become more like our Savior and our Heavenly Father. I hope you guys have a great week. I love and miss you guys!!

Elder McFarland

PS. Here is a quote I just found from Elder Bednar. “The grand objective of the Savior’s gospel was summarized succinctly by President David O. McKay (1873–1970): “The purpose of the gospel is … to make bad men good and good men better, and to change human nature.”(April 1954 conference). Thus, the journey of mortality is to progress from bad to good to better and to experience the mighty change of heart—to have our fallen natures changed (see Mosiah 5:2).”

Saturday, February 13, 2016

I'm Starting To Smell

Hola Hola!

So yes I’m writing today. Sorry I didn’t really give you a heads up. It’s kind of hard in the offices. I think from now on though we’ll really will try to do emailing on Saturdays unless something comes up. Don’t worry about responding. I’ll still be in the offices for at least a little bit for lunch and after tomorrow so I’ll just get on real quick tomorrow to read your responses and maybe answer any little questions you guys might have but I’ll plan on doing my weekly letter right now.

So time continues to fly by and it’s kind of scaring me. It’s slowly setting in that I’m one of the oldest missionaries in the mission now - which I don’t like. Other missionaries have begun making comments about how little time I have left and how I’m starting to smell (a reference to missionary slang about missionaries dying). I’m like DUDES calm down. I still have lots of time left, ha-ha.

Writing this, I was just reminded of a message from President Uchtdorf in the July 2012 Liahona ¨always in the middle” he said speaking of missionaries ¨Whether they just arrived the day before or are to depart for home the day after, I ask them to think of themselves as always being in the middle....Thinking of themselves as always being in the middle of their missions will embolden and energize these faithful representatives of the Lord. As it is with full-time missionaries, so it is with all of us.¨ So perhaps one goal of mine is to keep the mentality that I’m in the middle of my mission.

I do not know what will happen this next transfer. President Thurgood sounds like he would like to get me back in the field for my last two transfers but the Medinas will not be ready to take over, which means I would have to start training someone very soon or the idea was thrown out of briefly training one of the registadores so they could continue training the Medinas. We´ll see what happens. I’m just trying to keep the mindset that whatever happens is what the Lord wants and I’ll make the best of it.

The other night we got out for about an hour. Before leaving we made a quick plan to stop by the contact’s house and then pass by three members we picked out of the ward list. When we got to Martin´s (the contact) house, he wasn’t there so we continued with our plan heading to the first member’s home. After not walking more than just a few houses, we saw a lady sitting on the sidewalk in front of her home and had the impression to talk to her. We introduced ourselves and began talking to her. The conversation pretty much ended up being a 40 minute lesson. Her name is Rosa, and she’s an older woman, probably in her high 60’s or low 70’s. She told us about herself and we taught some gospel principles, mostly about the plan of salvation. She’s has had difficulty with her family and seems like her living situation isn’t the best with her daughter and son I believe. It was pretty amazing though. We started the conversation standing up but then as we continued to talk my companion and I sat down on the grass besides her. I was just filled with so much love for her. I try to love all the people here and in the end I come to love everyone I come in contact with, but I remember only a few other times when such a powerful and genuine love came over me so rapidly for someone I didn’t even know. She felt the Spirit, no doubt and enjoyed our discussion and the things we testified of. Even though she has been praying for exactly what the Gospel of Jesus Christ offers, she told us that right now she isn’t ready to talk to us. She just doesn’t feel the sincere desire. I told her we wouldn’t give up and would continue passing by every now and then and we could continue to share some things even if it was outside her house again, until she had the desire. So for now there was no immediate commitment but I really do have hope and faith that us or missionaries later on will teach her and she´ll accept the restored Gospel in her life. It just made me grateful for some of the gifts of the Spirit; for the ability to feel even just a small portion of the love that our Heavenly Father has for His children.

So February 24th Elder Bednar is coming to speak to us!!! Like I said, all four of the Buenos Aires missions will be getting together in a church in Capital for it. We found out this week that the meeting with Elder Bednar will also be broadcast to all the missions in the South America South Area, so we feel really blessed to be the missionaries that´ll be able to listen and watch him live.

This last week was our zone conference and it was great. We went over the world wide missionary training from January and focused on the same theme of teaching repentance and baptizing converts. The baptisms in the mission are starting to increase again and we are trying to build off that by not only baptizing more but retaining more as well.

Monday, we are going to have another dinner with all the office staff, which would be us, the registradores, the assistants, the Mitchells, and President and Sister Thurgood. Whether it was done before or not I don’t know but when Elder Spitale came a few months ago he said it might be a good thing to do every once in a while. So Monday at 6:00 p.m. we´re going to do a potatoes bar in the offices, ha-ha’ Sounds pretty awesome. It is really one of the biggest blessings of working in the office - being able to have close interactions with President and Sister Thurgood as well as the Mitchells. We see President Thurgood fairly regularly. Elder Ginatto and I talked to him for about an hour last Monday about the ongoing transition with the Medinas. It seems to slowly be getting better, I think. Honestly, one of the best parts of being in the offices is the Mitchells. They are seriously the best. Elder Mitchell is great and really intelligent and helps us a lot. He also balls pretty hard, ha-ha. We´ve played basketball with him out back a few times and man despite his age he can still keep up. Hermana Mitchell is just kind of like the grandma of the office elders. She’s really funny and goofy and adds a nice balance to the work environment, ha-ha. She always jokes that if President Thurgood (who is her brother-in-law) worked in the mission offices more that she´d have to straighten up, ha-ha. But she keeps us from getting too comfortable with her around because every now and then she´ll call us out and drop the cane a little bit about the kitchen. She and Hermana Thurgood are known for being super clean, so whenever the kitchen isn’t spotless and if the trash isn’t taken out, she has no mercy, ha-ha. They´re great though and it’s been just awesome getting to know them and spending time with them. They help us a lot, both with the work and balancing everything. I think I’ll definitely be visiting them once in a while when I’m out at BYU since they live like 45 minutes away from Provo, I think.

So this week I’m going to be taking Elder Nixon to the US consulate in Capital to correct his FBI criminal record! The downside, only Elder Nixon will be able to enter so I’m not going to the States after all... ;( Two of the area workers that we communicate with just went on vacation for the rest of the month. There’s two people working in their place but hopefully things go smoothly and I can get those cartas de culto fast. Well, I guess that’s it for now. I feel like I was going to include something else. I´ll check my email tomorrow so don’t worry. I love you guys!

Elder McFarland

P.S. Yesterday, Elder Ginatto completed 1 year in the mission so we celebrated last night by eating ice cream, ha-ha. Here are some pictures.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Is The Visero Going To Get Deported?

Hola, Hola!

I’m glad to hear stake conference has been really good so far. Yesterday there was an area training for the ward leaders that was broadcast to the stake centers and all the missionaries went as well. It was really good.

Not on a spiritual note, ha-ha, I remembered I didn’t respond to last week’s question about talking when I get home. It would be nice to be home for Father’s Day and speak on it but to be honest, since school would be starting the very next day, I think I’d prefer to be in Utah that Sunday tranquilo. I’d kind of prefer to get out there beforehand and kind of get myself comfortable before starting school instead of feeling rushed or stressed, so I’d probably prefer speaking the 2nd Sunday in June and then head out to Utah. Yes, I sent Hermana Mitchell the information. I don’t really have a preference for the airport but I guess San Jose makes the most sense.

As for vacation, I’m not sure when you guys were planning to finalize it and buy tickets and what not, because well, there was a minor complication in my tramites, ha-ha. I didn’t want to tell you to worry you but then I decided it was best to let you know so maybe we could hold off on buying tickets and stuff. So what happened essentially, I was given a document in 2014, shortly after getting to Argentina, that lasts 3 months, and that document lets foreigners leave and enter the country. During those three months normally the DNI (the Argentine ID card) should arrive to the address. Sometimes there are problems or complications and we have to return to migraciones to resolve it. For example, presenting the passport again because maybe they scanned it poorly. It can be a variety of things. Well I’ve had complication after complication with this document (precaria) mainly related to this document called a carta de culto, stating I am here in Argentina as a missionary. At first, two signatures didn’t line up. Then I got a new one, but turns out all the cartas de culto that the culto (which is from the Argentine government) has been giving the area have had an error in the name of the church. They all say ¨la iglesia de jesuscristo de los ultimos dias¨ so it’s missing ¨de los santos¨. Before it wasn’t a problem, but for whatever reason, whether it’s with the change of the Argentine president or something else, migrations is a lot stricter and is now rejecting the document for that error, whereas before they accepted it. So that’s my problem now. Well a week and a half ago I went to migraciones to consult about the status of my tramite and they told me migrations has given me a disposition saying that because I haven’t met  the requirements to become legal, they have rejected my tramites and declared my residence as irregular, (even though I’ve done my part and taken the steps in becoming legal, the fact that I’m still not legal is a problem) so the lady told me migrations has given me until March 14th to start the process over again from the beginning and legalize myself. So I asked what´d happen if didn’t legalize myself by then and she told me they´d deport me. Well in reality they wouldn’t deport me (I don’t think, ha-ha) but she said it would just cause a lot of problems to leave and come back to Argentina. So yeah, ha-ha. The problem is I have to wait until I get a new carta de culto and culto (the place where they do them) was closed all of January and just reopened last week. It’s a process that takes a few weeks so I just have to wait and see when the area gets it. I told the lady this, “here look, this isn’t my fault and now I’ll have to wait on you guys”. She said if I don’t get it in time I will have to go back and explain it. Well I’m not sure if any of this makes sense, but yeah that’s my status. Super ironic right, ha-ha, that the visero, the Elder in charge of making sure the missionaries are legal is in fact illegal himself and now faces the possibility of being deported, ha-ha-ha. Sounds like I’m not doing my job very well, ha-ha. I don’t know, I just kind of find this funny. It does sounds like it could be a problem though because now that I have this disposition giving me practically one more chance at becoming legal, it would be worse than if I had just left illegally. In the end I should be able to get this document and legalize myself. If not,  I don’t think in the end, coming back would be a problem but on the off chance that it might be a problem, I’d just hold off a little bit on finalizing any plans until I know more. We´ve been joking around in the office that the visero is going to get deported, ha-ha. So if I come home in March, don’t be surprised. Nah, just joking, but yeah not really good, ha-ha. Pretty sure this is pretty rare. I’ve never heard of it happening before with missionaries from our mission. Missionaries have left illegally but I’ve never heard of someone getting this disposition, although I’m sure every once and a while it happens. I’m not too worried though, more I just think its super ironic and pretty funny.

I went with Elder Pribyl. He’s in the process of renewing his ID card but he also is waiting on the same document I am, but in the meantime, they gave him a precaria so he’s legal at least, ha-ha. So I saw him the other day and called him last night to wish him a happy birthday.

We did get money and we bought lots of closets and drawers and whatnot. We didn’t get to proselyte at all last week. Well two nights, we got back at 8:50 pm, so we knocked on some doors for 10 minutes but didn’t have any immediate success. I’m hopeful this week we´ll have some more time.

We are having some difficulties with the transition of having the Medinas in the office. Not so much for me with the visas, but Elder Ginatto has been kind of having a hard time with Elder Medina. There’s just been poor communication and misunderstandings, I think. They really are great, Elder and Sister Medina, but I think it´ll take some time to work it all out. It’s different with the tramites because the process of what I do is very structured, in a sense, but with pensionero, what they do is a lot broader and more complicated and with that the liberty to do things your own way. In the end, the jobs will be getting done, but the way it gets done, how things get prioritized and a lot of the small things depends on each person.  I think Elder Ginatto has had a hard time with Elder Medina in that sense because do things differently. It’s hard for Elder Ginatto because I think he was already really stressed having to take over all the pensionero stuff when Elder Valis left but now Elder Medina is kind of making it more difficult for him. He’s talked with Elder Mitchell and the other day me, him and the Medinas spent almost an hour with President Thurgood talking. We´ll see how it continues to play out. I’m confident in the future they will help out a lot in the office but right now it’s proved to be somewhat difficult. Also, I’m not sure what´ll happen with me. I will almost for sure end up training an Elder to replace me the following week for the rest of the transfer or I will have to stay another transfer in the office. Either way I’m just trying to go with the flow and take it as it comes.

Well this email is already kind of long and I don’t have a lot more time. Sorry if I didn’t really say much, ha-ha. I’ll try to share things a little more spiritual next week though. Love you!!

Elder McFarland