Monday, February 20, 2012

Hola Everyone!
Hope all is going well with you. It´s been an awesome week. So first of all, yes Hermana Reed was tranferred to one of the areas down south. She is not the biggest fan of cold and it´s approaching winter. It´s already snowing down there and it´s still technically summer! Her flight is this thursday so we will be a trio until then. Her companion is Hermana Gutierrez (one of the sisters from the MTC). I´m so excited for her. My companion is Hermana Milmont. We are going to go pick her up at 4pm today so hopefully I´ll be on again later today with a photo. I can´t wait to meet her.
Because of transfers it´s going to be a pretty chill p-day. I´m actually sad that I won´t be playing fútbol today. I know, quite a shock, huh? So I weighed myself the other day and I have lost 15 lbs and about 4 inches off my waist. All this walking and playing fútbol is doing some good. ^_^ Don´t worry, I´m still eating pretty good. I´m actually eating more now than I have before. Although, I am eating less sweets, but craving them just as much. I think my favorite food that I have had is the empanadas. They are absolutely fabulous! I hope that we buy some today. I have found a couple staple foods here and it´s green olives and eggs. Both of these things are, literally, in everything. And I know that eggs are already in everything, but I mean hard boiled eggs or fried eggs. Just thought I´d let you know since you were wondering what the staples were here.
My watch did die and I can´t live that long without one here on the mission so I´m going to be using a little of my money from my account; just so you are aware.
So Monica is doing really good. This last tuesday, we went and visited with her at a small park close to her home. She was there playing with her little brother and for once she looked like a child. I was so happy to see her so carefree for a little bit. We are still working with her on her baptism and are planning for it in two weeks. The other Hermanas have one this coming weekend. We are so excited for them. His name is Angel. He is such a sweetheart and a gentleman and pretty much has taught himself the lessons. He is golden and is so excited for his baptism. There was a little hiccup because for a bit he thought they were Jehovah´s Witnesses. That was cleared up and they are back on track. He´s about 20 and wants to serve a mission as well.
We have not been able to find Juan Carlos or Terecita again, but we shall see what happens. We have had other successes this week. We went to go talk with one of our street contacts and another person was outside her door. Turns out that there is actually 4 houses there. She wasn´t feeling well so we stayed and talked with the gentleman that was outside her door. More acurately, he started speaking with us. His name is Dario and he just moved here from further north about 2 years ago. He had the discussions from the missionaries in his other home through the english classes and loved them. He was so excited to talk to us. He had passed by the chapel in our area, but never went in. He is a private tutor of calculus, biochemistry, physics, biology, and micro biology. You can imagine how excited I was to talk to him. He´s also only 42. We are extatic to talk to him more.
I know it´s a small thing, but I was so excited to find casaba melon in the store last week. I thoroughly enjoyed my time eating it, and now Hermana Bray really likes it as well. The fruit here is delicious and so fresh. I tend to have two plums and a couple granoala bars for breakfast. They are really good. With all the fresh ingredients, the cooking here is wonderful. We went to a member´s house for lunch this last week and had apple crisp. She´s from the US and went to culinary school. I´m going to leave it at that.
The ward is still awesome. We are working at finding the miembro justo for each of our investigators and have had great success. Our ward mission leader is still wonderful and so is his wife. They are working so hard for us and speaking up for us in the ward. They want to help so much and he has come to several of our appointments and given us wonderful advice. The work here is just going to keep growing. I don´t know if I explained the arboles de converso. Basically you have one person, a recent convert or a menos activo. You work with them sharing the Gospel with their friends and family. Through this one person, you have 30 or new active converts. It is a wonderful vision from our President. One of our menos activos who was baptized about 2 years ago was talking with us the other day and we asked if he knew anyone that God was preparing to receive the Gospel. He gave us 6 names of his friends and 5 of them live in our area. We are constantly receiving references and baptismal dates, but the people live in other areas. We were speachless when he gave us these references. On top of that, we have a family night set up with them for this next friday.
The work here is starting to boom. I have felt all of your prayers and I cannot thank you enough. It has been an amazing last week of the transfer. I know that a lot of that was due to your prayers. I have also felt the strength and love this week from all of you. Thank you so much. I love you all and will talk to you soon.

Monday, February 13, 2012

I just got back from playing fútbol with my district and I am exhausted. It´s pretty hot and humid right now too. I am getting better at fútbol, but I also got hit in the face the same person. ^_^ Oh well. It was a lot of fun. We also had cake because Elder Witherspoon (aka Elder WinniePooh, our zone leader) and Hermana Bray are going home this coming monday. It´s so hard to belive that I have been here for 3 months and on my mission for 5. It´s been fast and intense.
Monica was not able to be baptized yesterday. Through no fault of her own, she missed sacrament meeting and before an investigator can be baptized, they need to attend sacrament meeting 3 times. We are hoping that this extra time will help her parents realize that this is something important to her. She is an awesome wonderful girl. Right now, her parents are saying that she can do whatever she wants, but they don´t want to talk to us. It was hard getting a signature for her baptism. We still have hope, but it´s been a tiring week because it was a week before a baptism.
I thought I updated you on Carlos. We had to stop visiting him. He said that he will never be baptized even though he knows the Book of Mormon is true. He doesn´t feel like he can change and we´ve tried helping him in every way. For now, we pray for him and hope that he is still reading the Book of Mormon.
I realize that I forgot to answer a couple of your questions last time. We use internet at a place called a locutorio. It just a small place you go to use phones, internet, and make photocopies. It´s pretty much like a more updated corner store. It even has candy. Yes, the chocolate in the package had softened, but had not melted. The Young Women´s manual in english is perfect. Thank you soooo much for everything.
Saturday was interesting. One of our investigators came back from vacations and so we went and visited him. His name is Didier. He is nine years old and is part of a part member family. He is a very mature 9 year old, but when he doesn´t want to do something he is difficult. He is a good kid and saturday wanted to show us one of the movies he rented. It was Pokémon Heroes. I started talking to him about pokémon (after the lesson of course) and he was thrilled that I knew the names of a lot of pokémon and their evolutions. He is so excited to talk to me now and is facinated by the idea that I like talking about the Gospel more than pokémon. We areso excited that he is more willing to listen to us. I know it´s odd, but this experience really shows me that the Lord is mindful of us and our talents. I am probably one of the very few sister missionaries here that can talk about pokémon with any excitement and there are only sister missionaries in Vicente López. I never thought I would be using pokémon on my mission. Of course I focus on the Gospel, but it´s wonderful that we found a way for him to be more comfortable with us and want to listen.
We have a new couple: Juan Carlos and Terecita. They are probably 70-71. We have not had a chance to speak with Terecita again, but she is reading; according to her husband. We have talked to him a couple times and he has read the introduction. It´s an interesting situation. He loves pulling Hermana Reed´s leg and teases us (especially her) about being ¨Yankees¨. He told us that if we try to commit him to anything, even a time to pass by, he will just get mad/offended and not want to listen to us because ¨His time is his time and our time is our time.¨ We´re working hard. His wife loves reading and says that she will read the Book of Mormon from cover to cover. She read 4 pages the first day. We shall see what happens.
Our new ward mission leader is amazing! We had a meeting with him this last wednesday and he is very willing to fulfill his calling to his best. He wanted to know everything about each investigator, where we were with them, how we were finding people, where we needed help, etc. This last sunday we finally had a ward cousel meeting and he stood up for the missionaries and we were able to express to the ward counsel our concerns and needs. We are very excited to see where things go from here. I did like our last ward mission leader and am sad that he is less active, but it was hard doing everything. Hermano Hales is calling people, following up with baptismal preparations, and everything.
I appreciate your letters soooo much. They bring me such joy and help. It´s been really rough. I am struggling with confidence, contacting/talking to people in the street, making decisions, and teaching effectively. I am enjoying my time and am so grateful to be here. I´m just going through a rough spot right now and am trying not to listen to the adversary. It helps me to hear from you that you are praying for me and love me. Thank you.
I love you all soooooo much. I´ll talk to you soon!!!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Another week has gone by and we are in February. I just got back from playing fútbol with the district and it was a blast like always. Fútbol with my district is more funny than anything else. We really only have two good players and so the rest of us are just running around and tripping over ourselves. No, to be fair everyone does really good, but some of the mistakes are hilarious. Like today, I was team captain and forgot who my team was and gave the ball to the wrong person. Hermana Reed and I both got hit with the ball in the face. I don´t think we´ve had one week where someone hasn´t been hurt by the ball in one form or another. Also, today, they kicked it over the fence, which is about 8 ft tall, and climbed up on the fence to get it back. They stood there debating for a good 10 minutes on how to get the ball back. I was reminded of the movie Sandlot. The owner was home and threw the ball back, but it was still funny none the less. We then had helado. That was a nice end of practice. I don´t know how they make the helado here, but it´s better than anything I´ve had in the states. I wish I could send some home. Maybe that Argentine restaurant over by Grandma Alvey´s has it. I´m going to try and send home some alfajors, though.
Transfers are in two weeks and we believe that Hermana Reed will be leaving. She has been here for 4 transfers/ 6 months, but we never know. Hermana Renteria is most likely staying in the area, because her companion is going home and we doubt that they would white wash the area. We never know, though. We´re excited to see what happens, but work hard everyday like we are going to be there forever.
I´m glad that you got the pictures. I believe that I told you that everything has bars. I do mean everything. I guess it´s a culture thing. I don´t know, but I won´t miss it when I get home. It is very green here. I´m interested to see what fall looks like and if everything changes colors. That is going to be very pretty as well. It´s been extremely humid this week because of all the rain. I have not been bit recently, but we shall see. Hardly any buildings here have air conditioning. The thing in our kitchen on the wall is a water heater. The small rectangle in the middle is the pilot light. Interesting, no? But yes, our area is still split. I believe that if you look up the Vicente López ward in the Buenos Aires Norte stake you will be able to see how big our area really is. Our half is probably 25 x 30 blocks, and the other area is about 1.5 times bigger than ours. I like it here though.
So it has been an interesting week. We got a looooot of rain this week. Wednesday we were hit the hardest. It was bright and sunny out so we did not bring any umbrellas. Luckily, Carlos gave us one of his, because the next minute, there were huge drops falling all around us. We are lucky because we have good streets and the water had some place to go. In the other areas, the water came up to their calves and our district leader had water up to his waist. We only had one umbrella with us so Hermana Reed had me carry the bags and the umbrella so our scriptures wouldn´t get wet. So I only got half drenched (the bottom half) and she looked like she had fallen into the swimming pool in her church clothes. It was a storm; with wind and thunder and everything. We had fun. Luckily we were able to visit two investigators that day, and I think we really showed them how much we cared because we were standing out in the rain to visit them.
Sadly we had a lesson with Carlos (the Jehovah´s Witness) three days ago and he told us that he has no intention of ever getting baptized. It was hard, but I know that we did everything we could and worked really hard with him. It was a wonderful lesson, though, and Hermana Reed and I taught in unity. The Spirit was very strong, but maybe we were only there to start preparing him to receive the Gospel. I still have hope, but we can´t visit him anymore.
Monica is doing great, though. She is progressing wonderfully and still loves church and the scriptures. She could not come to church yesterday, because her dad was out of town for work and someone needed to watch her brothers. She will be going to church this next sunday and will be baptized right after church. We are working really hard with the ward to help her out. We are also working with the parents, but we first have to be able to talk to them. Every time we are there, they are out working or sleeping. I know that we will be able to talk to them soon. In the mean time, we are trying to have daily contact with her to give her the best chance we can since this is the week before her baptism. Monica doesn´t have a dress or skirt, so one of the members is going to bring a skirt to give to her. I love our ward, they are so sweet to everyone. I wish that you could all meet them.
Today we had another interesting experience. We were in the middle of our language study and our door bell rang. Hermana Reed answered it and it was missionaries from another church that wanted to talk to us. We said we were missionaries too and would like to talk to them as well. I never caught the name of their church, but this was my first experience with other missionaries. We could not quite follow anything. They first said that the mother of Jesus was on the earth then started talking about how we weren´t keeping the commandments because we kept the Sabbath on sunday instead of saturday and that Jesus never changed the Sabbath during his ministry. We talked with them and tried to share our message as well since we had kindly listened to theirs, but they wanted to bible bash and said they wouldn´t listen to us since they don´t listen to anyone who doesn´t keep the commandments. She even called us catholics. Honestly it was an interesting experience and I think we handled it well. We didn´t bible bash and patiently talked with them. Can´t wait to see what else is in store for us.
The mission had a capilla abierta (open house/chapel) and President Gulbrandsen asked Hermana Reed and Hermana Bray to go; so for half the day, me and Hermana Renteria were alone together visiting our investigators. We visited Monica and taught her about following the prophet. Through this experience, I can definitely see that my castellano is alot better, but I need a lot more practice leading lessons, because I was pretty much lost. I really had to follow the Spirit, because my mind went completely blank and I just had to open my mouth and speak since she was my investigator. It was an interesting experience and now I know better where to focus my efforts.
I think the thing I most regret about the MTC was not taking good notes. I took great notes about what the special speakers were saying, but I didn´t really take any notes from my teachers, so now I have to learn how to teach pretty much for myself from the beginning. Any future missionaries reading this I have a couple words of advice. Take notes about everything: the special speakers, the language, how to teach, all of your impressions, etc. You will use those words a lot throughout your entire mission. Grow in unity with your district: they will help you so much and you will enjoy your experience more. Laugh often: if you don´t your mission will get very hard very fast, enjoy it. Talk with your companion openly: they are there to help you and they are not mind readers. They need your help as well and you won´t be effective if you don´t talk. Do the things you don´t want to: it´s through doing hard things that we grow and learn and become the best missionaries and people we can be.
Well, it´s time for me to go. I love you all soooo much and am so happy to hear from you every week. You are a light in my week and I am so happy for this pick me up every week. I´ll talk to you soon.