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