Monday, January 13, 2014

Great start for the New Year

January 13, 2014

Dear Family,
Today we went fishing with Adolfo.  It was really cool.  It was on a really nice 120 hectare private property.  The water was really murky with all the snow run-off, but it was fun to cast. Nobody brought anything to net, so there aren’t any fish pictures.  

Pablo went back to his home in Rancagua, if the cancer tests turn out bad it will be really sad, because we know we could have done a lot more to get him ready for baptism the last few months or so.  We just sort of ignored the idea of teaching him because he would come and go every few weeks.

We had a family home evening with recent convert Maria.  She invited 4 neighbors, and we invited 4 members.  One of Maria`s friends took really well to what we were talking about.  Her name is Tina.  She accepted a baptism date, the first of February.  She then went to church with Maria.  It is awesome to see new converts sharing the gospel.  

We have a baptism planned for this Saturday.  Her name is Lorena.  We are really excited, because we have been teaching her for more than 3 months now.  She teaches kindergarten, and has 3 kids.  Her husband, Carlos, isn’t really interested in the church, but says he will go to the baptismal service.  We were planning to have the baptism last Saturday, but her kids were visiting their grandparents in Santiago and wanted to see the baptism.  The oldest son, Benjamin, who is 12 years old has been taking the lessons as well and wants to be baptized soon.  Lorena is a really good person, reads the Book of Mormon, and knows the church is true.  I know that she knows the church is true, because if she didn’t have her own testimony wouldn’t have come back to church based on how some of the members had treated her.  Just speaking to all members within reach of my voice:  be nice to everyone you see at church, sit by them, talk with them, and just be their friend.  

I love all you more than the number of snowflakes in Minnesota,
Elder Withers


Dear Family,
This week it has still been cooler, with breezes and rain storms, mud, and lots of blessings. Yesterday at church it was like Christmas.  There is this young mom named Laura, who was baptized about 5 years ago....she served as primary president and was a great member for the branch, but then had a disagreement with one of the other members.....got offended, and hadn’t been to church in 3 years.  She is a nanny for a different member named Deborah (this town is real small)...and she has been helpful in inviting her and asking her every so often about the church and so on....but Laura just sincerely has never been interested.  We have been passing by ever since I have been here, and in the beginning she wasn’t reading the Book of Mormon, wasn’t praying, obviously wasn’t going to church, and really didn’t have a desire to change.  I have been here for almost 3 months......and since then she started to read the Book of Mormon, is praying, and a couple of weeks ago told us that she felt like it was time to come back.  And yesterday.......SHE CAME!  She paid for the colectivo (bus) ride, brought her two kids, and stayed for all 3 hours.  Miracle.  A lot of the members thought she was a new investigator because she hadn’t been in so long, but when they learned she was a member...they gave her a big hug and now know who she is and can look out for her.  Getting them to the chapel for that first time in who knows how long is a huge hurdle, but if they can do it...the members here are really great at looking out for them.  

But the miracles don’t stop there.  We also have this cute grandma in our branch who is super active, but her husband has a job on Sundays and has become less active.  And her daughter and grandkids are all less active.  One of her grandsons, Luis, lives with them because of some familial problem he had with his parents.  He is 18 years old, with a good conscious to know what is right, but just in a mix with a bad bunch of friends.  He never comes to church on Sunday....because he is out late Saturday and can’t get up the next morning.  Well ever since we met him and learned all of this, we said "what the heck......this kid can come to church."  So we made a plan.  On Saturday night instead of going out with his friends....he has to stay home.  And not only stay home, but expect us to stop by and share a message to keep him accountable to us and to the Lord....to make sure he didn’t go anywhere.  We started this 2 weeks ago....we go over, he is still home, we share the message, he promises to come to church, and then after we leave he apparently went out to go with friends and subsequently didn’t come to church.  So we started the cycle again.  We stopped by once earlier in the week, and told him that we were stopping by at 9:00 Saturday, the last stop of the night to get him ready to come to church, we stopped by, shared a message, he promises to come.....and at 9:00 am he wasn’t there.  His grandma showed up without him, saying she tried to wake him up but he wouldn’t budge...but that she left 3 pesos for the colectivo ride in case he woke up in time to come to part of church. We called him in between meetings, and no answer.  We get to the last 15 minutes of church and the last speaker gets up to give a talk in sacrament meeting....and, who walks in with crazy hair but white shirt and tie?  Luis.  It was excellent, and the only talk he heard was awesome, just what that kid needed.  It isn’t easy to be a youth here.  The young men and young women’s programs aren’t very strong, and there are only a few that are even active....but they are capable. Its taking a lot of work to get these people up and running on their own feet....but the fruits of the labor are worth it.  Even if they are only in the chapel for 15 minutes.  It’s worth it and we can try to do better next week and get to church for a little longer.  

I love being a missionary....it is so cool to be a part of peoples personal conversion and journey back to Christ.  And it is incredibly fun.  I love doing this.  

Yesterday a member fed us "Carpincho" which I have no idea what it’s called in English or what it looks like alive, but apparently is like a giant hamster dog type thing.  You should look it up. It was a reddish meat that smelled kind of like fish but tasted a lot like chicken...it wasn’t the best thing I have ever eaten, but it also wasn’t the worst.  I think it helps that I don’t know what this animal is like in real life.    

I feel like I haven’t been writing very much about the culture or my surroundings, but I will try to write more about that next week.  People ask us all the time what language we speak in the States because they get confused by the fact that we are Yankees speaking Spanish....they sometimes think the U.S language is Spanish.  And McDonalds is super expensive here and legitimately considered fine cuisine.  If you go there people will ask you if it’s your anniversary or birthday or something.  Nevertheless....missionaries still go there because in dollar amounts it’s still really cheap and its one of the only things from the U.S. here in Argentina.

Anyway....I love you all lots.  Keep me updated on everything!  I love you more than all of the people who ask us if we live in the chapel like the Catholic nuns who live in their cathedrals!  

Hermana Withers



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