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