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