Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Chad has a transfer and new companion, Obertello Family in Argentina

Dear Family,
We got the transfers.  My new companion is from Harriman, UT.  My new area is Lorenzo Arenas Ward (I don’t know for sure if I spelled that right).  It is in the downtown part of Concepciòn.  The mission office is in the zone limits.  I am going to be training during his last 6 weeks of the 12 weeks training.  It will be exciting to be in Concepciòn this summer (winter for the northern half of the world) when they do the first groundbreaking ceremony for the Concepciòn temple.  They are expected to start construction in the coming months.

I really want you all to know that I know this church is true.  I was preparing to leave the house yesterday, and I couldn’t find my missionary plaque.  I looked, and looked, and looked.  I had no idea where it was.  I knelt down and prayed, asking for help in finding the plaque.  I said amen, and immediately had the thought come to my mind that I had left it on my rain jacket.  It was raining pretty hard the other day, and I forgot to take my plaque off the jacket.  God would not help missionaries of a false church.  He helped me.  This church is true.  I know that if we can learn to apply the gospel into our lives, we can truly become the people that God needs us to be.  I know that it is through the atonement of Jesus Christ, that we can all have the hope of an eternal family.  I know that this Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the true church.  

I love you guys, more than the number of snowflakes that cover Minnesota.
Elder Chad Withers

Dear Family,
All is well here in La Paz.  We are going to get a transfer call this morning to see what will happen, but we won’t receive it until after we email......so I will let you know what happens for this transfer next week.  Thanks for the birthday wishes!  It’s crazy to think that I will be 21......not sure how that happened. 

It was so hot this week.  Oh you have no idea.......it’s a kind of heat you can’t even explain.  So hot and humid, that not even a fan can relieve you.  Our pension (apartment) has turned into a giant pressure cooker....and I am jealous that Thomas can access his roof.  Ours is too high, but what he said about the fans is right.  They are really just giant blow dryers.....they don’t actually blow cold air, they just spin the hot air around.  Summers without air conditioners are a whole new kind of ball game.  I am so grateful I only have one full summer here.  The Lord was very merciful at the end of this week and sent a rain storm to clear everything out.  Its starting to get hot and humid again, but the cooler weekend was a blessing.  People here say though that this summer has been especially brutal, that it’s not normally as hot or so hot for so many days in a row.  There are normally more rain storms to keep everything balanced and everyone sane.  Cool!  I sure lucked out.  At the beginning of the summer I thought everyone was crazy for living in a place that was so hot all the time without air conditioning, but learning that this is one of the worst in 50 years makes this place much prettier and it’s easier to understand why people still live here. On the plus side everything is green and beautiful which is awesome. 

There is one family who is especially incredible, the Obertello Family.  They are carpenters by profession, and they run the shop in the back of their house.  They have 14 kids and are all recent converts within the last 4 years.  The teenage daughters were baptized first, and over the years they have all been converted and baptized.  The kids were all converted first and the parents very last.  The mom smoked before, and was supportive of her kids switching from Catholicism to Mormonism, but she never made the change herself.  And the dad is kind and humble, but in the beginning was very opposed to his kids being baptized into the church.  So about a year ago the parents were married, she stopped smoking, and they got baptized.  They are recent converts with strong testimonies, but have a lot of trouble getting to church on Sunday.  We had a Noche de Hogar (Family Home Evening) this last Friday with them and talked a lot about overcoming challenges, and how when we have things to overcome, they can often seem impossible, but if we go to the Lord in prayer, they can still be hard but also become very possible to overcome.  We talked about their struggle to get to the chapel as a family and invited them to pray for strength.  To pray for a solution to the problem and trust in the answer, because it might be something they have never thought of before.  They live a 45 minute walk away from the chapel, and have a few motorcycles, but not enough to take everyone.  And they can’t make several trips because they don’t have enough money to pay for that much gas. So on Sunday morning we anxiously waited to see them.  To see them show up at the chapel, and seeing them walk through the door just melted my heart.  Only the parents came that day for some reason or another, but they are the ones who have the most trouble coming, so seeing them there was like Christmas.  We have Relief Society and Sunday School first, and then Sacrament meeting.  While we were waiting for sacrament meeting to start we were sitting by them and I started talking to them, and found out that their motorcycles were broken, something happened to their car, and they were waiting for the colectivo (bus) to stop by but it never did......so they started to walk.  And they walked the whole way.  They are kind of an older couple (I mean they have raised 14 kids....they can be tired if they want to!) and they walked the whole 45 minute distance.  In reality it was more like an hour to an hour and a half.....because 45 minutes is missionary speed and they move a little slower.  We were so proud of them. There are a lot of sacrifices saints make here to be faithful.....sacrifices that not all members have to make.  But it is something the Lord has required of them, and the idea to start walking as an answer to their prayer in getting help to the chapel I am sure is not something they were super excited to follow through with.....but they did it anyway.  They are such good people, and those 14 kids have excellent parents for examples.

The zone leaders had a training about 2 weeks ago...and they picked up mail but forgot to give it to us.  Almost unforgivable!  But it was kind of fun to get mail in the middle of the month.  I had a few letters and Christmas cards.  Thank you to all! 

My favorite snack lately has been Oreos (they sell them here and it’s the best thing ever!).  And p day activities usually are study, email, get groceries, lunch, and then go to Gridos and get a half kilo of ice cream to share....take it to the chapel, turn on the ac (the church is one of the few places that has ac!) put on shorts, and eat the ice cream directly in front of the ac.  It’s the best ever......and then we spend the afternoon playing ping pong too. 

I am doing well and have so much to be grateful for.  I love you more than all the banana trees that grow here that I didn’t know were banana trees until a week ago!
Hermana Withers 

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