Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Chad's New Companion, Cockroaches in Argentina

Dear Family,
This week had a lot of happenings.  I got my new companion.  Elder Sellers is huge, about 6’ 4”, and is from Orlando, Florida.  He doesn’t have a southern accent, and he speaks pretty good Spanish.  He really does speak good Spanish for having so little time in the mission field.  He is really humble, and doesn’t complain.  His parents are converts, and his only sibling, his step brother, is less active.  He comes from a town where there aren’t many members, so he has lots of good ideas on how to share the gospel.  He baptized his friend, and this last Saturday, his 24 year old cousin got baptized in Georgia.  It was even cooler, because Saturday was also his birthday.  The Muñoz family, and the Withers family of this ward, organized a surprise birthday party for him.  It was a fun evening, with a few of the members, and we even had time to share a quick spiritual thought, on the TV.  

I don’t know if I ever told you guys yet, but with Elder Vasquez, we organized all the Mormon messages onto a flash drive.  When we visit members who have computers or modern TVs, which is more than half of them, we copy all the videos onto their computer, so they can have quick access to them, and they are great to share in family home evenings.  

Well, son of a nutcracker, I know this letter was short, but I ran out of time.  Next time, I will read all the other letters faster.  

With love,
Elder Withers


Dear Family,
I am in a new area and I am working on getting to know everyone, and it’s taking time.  I am also very aware that Mothers Day is coming up.  So don’t worry, I already asked a really nice lady who gives us lunch on Thursday if we can Skype using her computers (because she has 2 :) and we are good to go.  We haven’t heard anything from President regarding when we can Skype home, but it will be sometime on Sunday.  So we can all rest tranquilo with that.  (Translation:  rest easy) 

There is so much I want to write home about to you guys, but there is just no way my little fingers can type it all in one hour.....so it’s going to take a few weeks to really explain this place.  

Turns out that Elder Hill is only in my zone, my zone leaders in La Paz got my hopes up and told me we were in the same district too, but it’s just the same zone. Which is fine with me, I will still get to see him.  I am also super excited to be in a much bigger zone with lots more missionaries......new adventures!  

My new companion is Hermana Ospinal, from Peru.  She is great, is very patient, and loves to eat.  I have never had a companion who can eat so much.  It’s impressive really.  My new apartment is awesome, much nicer than the one in La Paz.......but this new place has cockroaches....really big cockroaches.  The biggest one I have seen so far was the size of a stick of butter.  Horrifying!  I made us buy cockroach killing sprays and traps and it’s making a difference.  Hopefully little by little we can at least get it under control.  I’m not especially interested in living with bugs.  We also had to go and get groceries.  There wasn’t ANYTHING in the fridge when I showed up.  They had water, and freezer burned watermelon and bananas.  Ha... food storage?  The fridge and cupboards have some food now, and the cockroaches are slowly dying... every day its feeling more and more like home. 

Beltran is a cute town, about the size of Boise, and it reminds me a lot of the town from Toy Story 3 for some reason.  With the picture perfect trees lining the streets, lots of kids riding bikes to and from school, and ladies outside doing yard work on the weekends.  It’s about 45 minutes outside of Rosario (awesome.....you better believe we will spend a P Day there seeing the sites!) and the majority of the people have lots of money.  So when we go contacting, it’s a little harder to find people who are willing to listen.  The fall season is really pretty here and it’s still fun to step and crunch all the leaves :)

But this branch here in Beltran is INCREDIBLE.  On Sunday there was a whole bench full of Priesthood holding leaders who show up to church and activities, and who anxiously fulfill their calling.  And there is excitement in this branch and amongst the members that is sooo fun.  We really are going to see miracles in this area.  I have been slowly getting to know everyone....and I have been very careful to make good first impressions.  I’m always on my best behavior, but this first week is going to be really important in terms of gaining everyone’s trust. Especially because I am the first yankee Hermana to serve in this area.  Before it was an Elder’s area, and in December it got switched to Hermanas......and up until now all they have had is Latinas.  It’s been really fun to get to know everyone :) Here in Beltran we don’t have a chapel because we don’t have the attendance to have one......so we meet in a big, old fashioned two story house.  I will have to send pictures next week :)  It works great though, there is a room for all the classes, a kitchen, bathroom, and big living room space where we have sacrament meeting. I also had to give a talk in church this last Sunday.  I met the Branch President last Wednesday, about an hour after arriving in Beltran...got to know him and he said, well since you are new you have to give a talk and share your testimony this week. And you speak well enough that you can talk for 15 minutes.  Sweet.....it’s been fun to start over in a new area.  In La Paz, all the members could remember how bad my Spanish was when I first arrived in Argentina, but here they have no idea!   I was assigned the topic of charity, and it went well.   

We have a few investigators, but not many.  The majority of our time we have spent contacting, trying to find really good people.  I’m excited to see who ends up progressing out of the people we have talked to.  

Overall it was a long week with traveling and adjusting, but also a really great week too.  I hope you all know how much I love you all.  I love you more than all the new streets and new people I have been getting to know this week!  

Love,
Hermana Withers



Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Chad Training a New Missionary, Rebecca Transferring to the City

Mother’s Note: 
Rebecca mentions her excitement about seeing and serving with Elder Hill.  In case some of you are new to this blog or missed an earlier post… Elder Hill is Rebecca’s cousin, his dad is my brother, and he was in the MTC when Rebecca got her call to the same mission.  They saw each other briefly when she was on her way to her first area, and he was passing through the bus station on a transfer.  They have been friends since they were children and have hoped for the chance to see each other in Argentina.  His mother and I are always comparing notes on things going on in the mission.  Enjoy the letters this week!

Dear Family,
We got transfers, and my companion is going to a small town outside of Chillán. My new companion is brand new from the MTC.  I don’t know who he is yet, but it is pretty neat that his first ward is this one, where we have a great bishop and a great ward mission leader.

This week was another exciting week here in on the Pacific Coast of Southern South America.  Try to imagine a thick morning fog covering the thickly forested hills, the deep green pine trees cutting into the horizon.  That was the view I saw this morning, from the freeway heading to downtown Concepción.  We were in the car of a member, to drop off Elder Vasquez at the mission office, it being his 104th week in the mission field.  He was another missionary living in our apartment, and returns home to Guatemala on Tuesday.  Yesterday in Sacrament meeting he gave a talk, and shared Doctrine and Covenants 130:2   “And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy”.

I think that verse is awesome.  It made me think of eternal families.  If we do our part by living the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we will be very very happy for a very very long time.  I know that is true, and that if we choose otherwise, the reverse is true; very unhappy, for a very long time.  

I think that one of the main points of this past General Conference was the blessings of obedience.  The commandments really are to bless us.  They come from God, and along with the Atonement of Jesus Christ, play a critical role in the Plan of Salvation.  This past week being Holy Week, we made an extra effort to share the Plan of Salvation.  We spent a total of about 6 hours giving Plan of Salvation pamphlets to people who came to the General Cemetery of Concepcion. We had to obtain written permission from the cemetery, and we took a document that our bishop signed to help us get in.  My companion and I were so excited, and we invited other missionaries in our zone to come and help us, because most of the cemetery visitors don’t live in our sector.  We took a big white board and drew the Plan of Salvation out really big, and made 6 posters explaining the Atonement, the Resurrection, the Plan of Salvation in general, baptism and eternal families, and the restoration, and so on.  We taped the posters on to a table we carried from the church.  Most of the people came by families, and so we were able to talk to hundreds of people.  My companion has a picture of the posters and whiteboard set up.  I will be sure to get that to you.  The cemetery is huge (it has been around since 1823), and is conveniently located in front of the church meetinghouse.  I know that missionary work really is the work of salvation.  I know that Jesus Christ lives, and that he is at the head of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

I love you all more than the number of people who need to find the Gospel.
Sincerely,
Elder Withers

Dear Family,
This week was super great....and the biggest update I have is that my time in La Paz is coming to an end, and I am going to the zone "Rosario Norte"  where Elder Hill serves, the APs, more Hermanas and a ton more Elders.  My area is called "Beltran" and I have another Hispanic companion....but no idea where she is from. I will learn that tomorrow.  Transfers are sort of a weird mixture of feelings, because it’s bittersweet.  I will miss everyone here in La Paz but I am beyond excited to have a change.  Crazy to believe, but this is really my first time experiencing a transfer.  Last time was because I got my visa and had to change missions, and that’s a transfer but I feel like that doesn’t really count.  I am so excited to experience a big city, to be in a bigger zone, to be closer to the mission home and to serve with Elder Hill.  Never in a million years did I think that President would put us together in the same zone, let alone the same district!  I am in the district with all the leaders, and I am excited to learn lots.  I know that everything in my world is changing though...and I’m excited.  Bring it on :)  
Okay.....on to what happened this week.  

Last Sunday I was sitting next to a family in church quietly waiting for the meeting to start when a member from the Branch Presidency asked if I could give a 15 minute talk after the sacrament.  Ha.........sure.  Every talk I have had to give up until this point I knew about before hand and had time to prepare for it and write the things out in Spanish that I couldn’t remember how to say, and this time I had about a 2 minute warning.  It went well though.  I talked about the importance of Easter....and how as we reflect on the sacrifice of Christ, it should compel us to become more like him.  We shouldn’t only reflect on the Atonement and Christ (though we do need to do that too.....we should always do that) but we have to DO something.  Put in to action our thoughts and reflection of the Savior and work to develop the attributes of Christ.  Refine ourselves and put to use the gift of the Atonement so that we are ready for Christ to come again.  That was the message that was in my head that I tried to get across.....and I hope everyone understood it :)

I’m not really sure how, but somehow the mosquitoes are still alive and still a nuisance.  It is really starting to cool off and they still aren’t dying!  I am ready for mosquito season to end anytime now.  They are honestly worse now than they were in the summer.  I come home with at least 2 or 3 new bites each night and have a rotating cycle of at least 20-25 on my arms and legs.  

This last Friday we had family home evening with the branch and it was pretty fun.  I put to good use all those years of scavenger hunts and scripture reference puzzles we did at home to find the Easter candy, and we made one up for the branch members to do.  We divided them into 2 teams and they had to solve the phrase by finding each letter in the scriptures.  Finding the reference, counting the lines, and the letters to get the one they needed.  We learned that these members are dangerously competitive, and that we need to have a few activities with scripture masteries or something to help them learn where the different books are in the Book of Mormon.  We gave everyone a piece of candy, put in the DVD "To This End Was I Born" and overall had a great activity.  Next week it’s the Elders turn to come up with an activity :)

Contacts this last weekend were a dream.  Here in Argentina Easter weekend is from Thursday to Sunday, so everyone was focused on Easter for 4 days, and most were at home with their family.  And everyone was insanely kind and nice, way more than normal and it was awesome.  If only it could be Easter weekend all the time to help the world focus on Christ!

The other day these 2 old ladies stopped us in the street and tried to ask us a question.....but neither one of us could understand what they were saying.  Their lips were moving, but all that was coming out was a jumble of noises.  I think they were from France or Italy or something, and I have no idea what they were doing here in La Paz.... and their Spanish was pretty bad.  I switched to English for a minute to see if that could help, and it did!  They spoke perfect English and they were surprised I could speak both.  I was surprised how weird it felt to speak English though.  My whole world for the last 6 months has been in Spanish and it felt strange to speak in English.  Lots of progress has been made since the beginning of my mission.  Spanish and I didn’t start out the best of friends but we get along alright now.

Our investigator Alfredo is still incredible.  We had a lesson with him this last Wednesday, and this time his 11 year old son Francisco was there.  He was such a cool kid.  The whole time he was listening intently and when we invited Alfredo and his family to church on Sunday and a baptismal service on Saturday, Francisco went and found a piece of paper, wrote all of the notes down...and stuck the paper on the fridge.  Sweet.....a secretary!  It was awesome.  Alfredo made it to the Baptismal service (for the Elder’s investigator), and he already knew more than half the people.  Thank you La Paz for being a small town!!  :)  Alfredo loved to see what the baptism was like and is excited for his own baptism on May 10.  He is marching along nicely in the Book of  Mormon and is progressing well.  He is so fun to teach.  

This week really was a great one.  I love being a missionary.  I have loved my time here in La Paz, and I am excited to meet and work with the people in Beltran!  

Thanks for writing me, through Dear Elder and email.  I love writing each Monday, and I hope you know how much I love you all!  I love you more than all the miles I have to travel to get to my new area!  (It’s about 7 hours in a bus........sweeeeet.)

Hermana Withers


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Rocks Thrown All Missed, Zone Conference in Argentina

Dear Family,
This week was another awesome week in Concepción.  Not one day goes by without something crazy, funny or testimony strengthening happening.

Yesterday, someone on the opposite side of a fence threw a handful of rocks at me and my companion, and miraculously, not a single rock made it through the slats of the fence that stood between us and the person throwing rocks.  It was a normal Chilean fence with thin steel poles spaced about 4 inches apart.  It would take skillful aim to hit the fence, but every one of the 5 or so rocks missed.  I count it as a miracle that not one rock made it past the fence.  I felt like Samuel the Lamanite in the fact that God was diverting the projectiles.  For me, it was a confirmation that God is completely aware of us, and is protecting us.  

Our investigator, Kathryn, who had her baptismal date originally for yesterday, just doesn’t quite feel like she has received an answer yet if the gospel is true.  We are praying for her.  She is still reading the Book of Mormon daily, saying her prayers, and going to church, so I hope she will recognize an answer when it comes.

It is getting colder, but my clothes are holding up great. On shirts, and pants, I am doing fine.  The sweet sister who does our laundry seems to just lose socks.  The other 3 missionaries in our house have noticed the same thing.  Don’t worry about sending any clothing because I am doing fine, and I can buy socks here.  

Last Monday, after writing, our zone went with the mission president to see an old warship that has been turned into a floating museum.  I got a lot of awesome pictures.  Also, before going downtown today, we climbed the table rock of Concepcion.  It is a large hill that has a big cross on top, a lot like Boise’s Table Rock.  

I love you all, more than the number of people waiting to find the gospel.
With Love,
Elder Withers



Dear Family,
Life this last week was wonderful.  Last Monday we didn't end up watching Frozen because it wasn’t available....but the Elders didn't say anything.  We showed up to the chapel to watch what we thought was Frozen and the movie started out with weird monsters and dark buildings and mystery music....ha turns out they picked Hotel Transylvania, a movie about Dracula and his daughter.  It wasn't the worst movie I have ever seen, but it also wasn’t the coolest.  It was definitely picked by Elders (and we are always out voted with things like that because we are the only Hermanas here in La Paz!).  It was pretty funny in some parts though.  We watched the whole thing in Spanish.  And then that evening had zone conference.  I got a big beautiful stack of letters from people who love me.  It was awesome, I was in heaven, and it took me 2 whole days to read everything (as in 2 whole day’s worth of free time).

We also had a zone conference, with President and Hermana Giuliani, and the Assistants.  It was sooooo good and it was so fun to have President here for the day.  We hardly ever get to see him.  And the Assistants each gave a talk, which were both really good.  One is from Argentina and the other Brazil.  I knew one was from Brazil, but I didn’t know the other one and from Argentina, who is a blonde white boy.  At first I honestly thought he was from the States.  But then I heard him speak and I thought, "There is no way.....his Spanish is wayyy too good!"  Ha.....turns out he is from Bahia Blanca, Argentina.  The conference lasted all day long, but we had a break in the middle for lunch and they took us to a big hotel, where we ate a really fancy meal like royalty.  The Elders all had to walk to the hotel, but President gave us a ride in his sweet car so we didn’t get rained on....perks of being a girl :)  President really is awesome and he has been pretty sick lately with a cold, but he still opens all the doors for his wife and us Hermanas, and is a good leader.  I will miss them when they have to go in July.  At the conference they also warned us that we have an especially cruel winter coming.........bring it on.  Apparently when there is a harsh summer, a harsh winter follows.  She said be ready for -10 to -20 degrees C (-4 F).  I didn’t realize that the weather was so extreme here.  

My sweet companion Hermana Galan is a convert, and her conversion story leaves a powerful impact every time she shares it.  People can’t say to her, "Oh you grew up Mormon.....it’s what your parents taught you."  Because she grew up Catholic, didn't like that church, and converted.  It’s fun to watch people as she shares her testimony.  She also knows the Bible like the back of her hand, if there is a question someone has, she knows a good place to look in the Bible, and if she can’t find one....I usually know where to go in the Book of Mormon.  We make a good team :)  Ha.....she also has this psycho weird obsession for noticing security cameras.  She points them out to me all the time, and I’m just like....."Uh, yep.....there´s another one!"    

We had a lunch appointment on Saturday with the Quintana family.  They have 11 kids, and all are grown and don’t live at home anymore...but there are always at least 3 or 4 grandkids hanging around.  Anyway we show up, and she kindly offered to take our jacket and bags so we could wipe the mud off of our boots on the grass.  I finished wiping the mud off, walked in the door.....and found Hermana Quintana trying on my jacket.  Haaa.....she is kind of a big lady, and she got her arms stuck in the sleeves.  It was a hilarious scene but I tried really hard not to laugh.  I helped her get it off and asked her what she was doing......she said "I just wanted to see how it looked!"  People here are so charming.  

President switched our schedule for winter time so that we are inside earlier.  It has been really nice, because it’s getting colder and colder each day.  

I love you all lots.......more than all the Argentine women who love their soap operas, and all the Argentine kids (like 5 and under) who love to play soccer bare foot in the streets!  

Hermana Withers 




Wednesday, April 9, 2014

General Conference was Great!

Dear Family,
Conference was great!  I haven’t ever listened as closely as I did this last conference.  The talks were awesome, and I was able to watch all 4 sessions and Priesthood session in English.  The stake center here is big, with 2 floors.  The English speaking missionaries had an upstairs room all to themselves, and we shared treats and candy.  The zone leaders brought a big bag of potato chips flavored like a Chilean salad (tomato and onion).  It was strange but good.  I really liked Elder Ballard´s talk about following up.  There are plenty of talks to study and review.  

The earthquake was pretty scary, because all along the coast there was fear of a tsunami.  Our leaders called us Tuesday night to tell us not to leave Wednesday morning until the President decides all is well.  We got a call later in the morning saying we could leave, but still it was crazy.  That is great that you are having a baptism in Minnesota.  Tell her I wish her congratulations for making the decision to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Yesterday, I did a ´´bus hold-up´´, where a missionary asks the bus driver, for permission to make an announcement, and the driver always say yes, and then the missionary shares a principle and invites them all to do something.  I invited everyone to General Conference, and I felt a strong impression that the mother with her young son was ready to receive the gospel.  I gave them a card that says families can be together forever, and has a picture of a temple.  She readily gave me her contact information (she lives in a different area).  I really think she will be an awesome investigator 

This church is true, and it is led and directed by Jesus Christ through his chosen prophet, Thomas S. Monson.  I know that God lives, and that he answers prayers.

I love you all so very much, more than the number of fish in Minnesota.
Sincerely, Elder Withers


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Dear Family,
This week was awesome, and I feel like my spiritual battery has been recharged, conference was awesome.  We watched it in the chapel.  On Saturday we watched both sessions, and on Sunday at about 12:45 the heavens let out an impressive downpour of rain.  The conference sessions are at 1pm and 5pm here, and so the timing of the rainstorm was a tragic inconvenience.  We had to walk to the chapel, and it was raining so hard that by the time we got there we were soaked.  Our umbrellas didn’t do anything to protect us because it was raining so hard in the horizontal direction and our shoes and feet were drenched because the puddles were so deep the street drains couldn’t keep up.  

When we got to the chapel, all of the faithful La Paz saints were huddled under the awning in front of the chapel talking and watching the rain.  I asked why no one was inside watching, and they all said......there isn’t a signal!  Shooooot.  We have some techy members here thank goodness, and after lots of fiddling with wires and prayers, we were able to get the broadcast.  But the Sunday Morning session we could only get in pieces because the signal was so sketchy......the rainstorm really made a mess of things.  We could see and listen to the speaker for about 15 minutes, and then it would go out again....take about 5 minutes to get it back, and then in another 15 minutes we were without signal again.  It was a continuous cycle.  So that’s how my Sunday morning session went.  I’m sad I didn’t get to hear Pres. Monson or Pres. Uchtdorf....and I think I missed Elder Bednar too.....but I will just wait for the Liahona!  Out of the talks I did get to listen to, I think Elder Holland’s was my favorite.  Such force and strength in his voice, and I love the message for the youth.  I haven’t had food thrown in my face but I can relate to having my beliefs put under pressure.  Often times when we make decisions to defend the faith like stick up for our values at school or work, serve a mission, etc....is when our beliefs are put to an aggressive test.  But it makes for excellent opportunities to grow!

The rain storm kept going all day long, but for the afternoon session someone had the idea of attaching the projector to one of the computers and watching the conference by internet instead of by satellite.  It was brilliant, and we got all of the afternoon session.  In between the sessions on Sunday the members whipped out their yerba and mate cups and sat around sharing mate and eating tortas fritas.  It was a fun little party the members made for themselves.  We peaced out to go pick up an investigator for the afternoon session.

Kind of crazy this week, an Elder that was serving here in my district here in La Paz had to go home for a huge family emergency.  I have no idea what happened, and he was gone before I even knew something happened.  His companion said he found out what happened on Tuesday night, and Wednesday morning he was in the terminal buying a colectivo ticket to get to Rosario.  And that night I think he caught a flight home.  So so so sad.  I don’t know what the emergency is, but I’m so grateful you guys are okay.  It’s expected that he will come back in a few months.  It would be so weird, and hard honestly to leave the mental mindset of being a missionary to go home, and then have to come back again.  

Alejandro and Florencia went to the civil register to schedule their wedding.....and folks that is huge.  They finally did it!  They are getting married April 18, and we will be having a baptismal service for Florencia April 19.  Whoohooo!  Also, Alfredo the cool veteran who loves the Book of Mormon is doing well.  If you ask him the story of the first vision he will recite it back to you, and if you ask him if the Book of Mormon is true he will give you a resounding yes.  It’s awesome! He was going to go to the Sunday evening session of conference, but the rain and mud scared him away.  Shoot.....we will do better next week!

Today for P-Day we are going to watch Frozen and I am so excited......you all said it was so good!  If it’s an Hermanas birthday (only for the Hermanas, the Elders no) or if there was a baptism in the district we can watch a movie.  Sweet!  Plus we have zone meeting this evening, and I am really excited.  I don’t know what kind of mail is waiting for me for the end of the meeting, but I hope something!  Sometimes I really feel cut off from the world....mostly when it comes to mail.  I don’t know who spit in the bean curd of Argentine Customs, but they really hate Yankees.  My best advice for sending things......is make it look non American as possible. When Hermana Sainsbury was here her mom sent her a box that said Correo Chile (Chile Postal) all over it and I have no idea where she got it but the package got here in 2 weeks. It wasn’t this hard before to get packages, and it will probably cool off again.....but for now don’t worry.  I will hope and pray the packages you have sent make it

I hope you have a wonderful week and know that I love you more than all of the leaves that are changing colors and falling here in Argentina!

Hermana Withers


Friday, April 4, 2014

Families Can Be Together Forever, Conference this Weekend

Mom Note:
There was an earthquake in Chile on Tuesday.  The area of impact was the northern part of the country as well as Peru and Bolivia.  Chad's mission office sent an email on Wednesday stating that they are 1200 miles south, and that it was business as usual. Missionaries are happily serving and sharing the gospel.

New rule from Rebecca's Mission:  NO packages to Argentina.  As a missionary mom, I disagree with that rule.  It applies to the whole country.  Hopefully it is temporary. Thanks for your support to the missionaries!


Dear Friends,
A couple of weeks ago, Rodrigo, who got baptized in this ward 5 months ago, received the Melchizedek Priesthood.  It amazes me that less than a half year ago he was an atheist.  It is hard to change, but we must never forget that the Lord, who is all-powerful, can change people.  It was the first time that I participated in ordaining someone to the Melchizedek Priesthood.

I really like the members here in this ward.  They are helping us out so much.  Last Monday, the Bello family invited us to a family home evening, and they also invited a newlywed part member couple.  The couple got married 1 month ago, and moved into the ward 3 weeks ago.  He, Raul, served a mission in Spain, and went a little bit less active for a time.  His wife´s name is Kathryn.  The theme of the family home evening was family.  The opening hymn was Families Can Be Together Forever, we had a prayer, and then Sister Bello talked about the importance of getting along in the family. We watched the 30 min church movie Together Forever and it was awesome.  Elder Copling and I then shared that families can be sealed in the temple. Kathryn read D&C 132:19.  We then explained that to enter the temple, a preparation is required, and that the first step is baptism.  Kathryn readily accepted a baptismal date for the 13th of April, but only on account that she comes to the conclusion that this is the true church. She has a lot of questions, and had studied before with the Jehovah´s Witnesses, but we know that if she sincerely asks God if these things are true or not, God will bless his daughter with an answer that this really is the true church, that Joseph Smith really was called of God to restore the church that Christ established during his earthly ministry.  I was so extremely sad when I didn’t see them in the chapel yesterday morning, but they both walked in right before the sacrament hymn.  It was awesome.

I love you all so very much.  I love you more than the number of times a car´s wheels goes round and round between Minnesota and Idaho, or between Concepcion and La Paz. 
Sincerely,
Elder Withers 



Dear Family, 
This last week was great, and this next one coming up is super eventful......we get to watch General Conference.  Sooooo excited!!!!

This week we had a lesson with a cute 11 year old girl in the front room of her house. About half way through her Dad and brothers walked in.  They hauled in big bags of fishing nets, and a handful of fishing poles, and another big bag of who knew what. They dropped it all on the ground, ripped open one of the bags, and pulled out HUGE catfishes.  They were the biggest fishes I have ever seen.  

The Dad would pull one out, hold it up in the air for a second, while his family would all shout (there are like 15 or 16 of them)....."heyyy" and then he would dramatically throw the fish into the sink.  He pulled out 2 monster catfishes and dozens of other medium sized fishes.  I think they sell them, but it was a solid reminder in case I could ever forget -  that I am living right on the Parana River.  

In the mission right now we are doing what is called "Plan de Revolution", where we go through a series of steps to be led and guided by the Spirit to know which sector of our area we should contact, which streets, and at what time.  President calls it a process to receive a reference from the Lord, and it’s true.  We have met lots of incredible people lately.  

I saw a man mow his lawn with a machete the other day.  It looked painfully back breaking and time consuming, but he was just cutting away little by little.  And I don’t know if I have mentioned this before or not, but cough drops are sold in the candy section, because people actually eat them like candy here.  The flavor menthol is a sweet here, but for me I can’t do it.  It tastes like sickness to me.

We got slammed with rain this last week.  So much mud......everywhere!!!!  On Sunday it was the weirdest of all.  It would rain hurricane hard with tons of wind, for about 5 minutes and then it would stop for like 10 minutes, and then start up again raining super hard with tons of wind.  It went back and forth a few times.  

Yesterday we contacted a man who is 100% German.  He moved to Argentina as a little boy with his parents to escape WWII.  We meet lots of people with European descendents, but he is the first who is all the way European.  

And yesterday on our way home people were lighting off fireworks and honking their horns and and yelling like crazies in the streets.  A member told us it’s because a soccer game was going on, and a group of people must have been excited because their favorite team won.  It made me wonder what it’s going to be like here in July when the world cup is going on, and then I decided that I don’t actually want to know what it’s going to be like.  We are still a ways out from the World Cup, and people are already starting to go nuts.  I’m hoping that the U.S. has a really crappy team and gets beat, it would keep everything here a little more peaceful for me.  

I am thrilled to watch conference this upcoming weekend.  It’s true, conference is something that connects us all together all at the same time.  

Just so you know, on Sunday morning, we stand outside the church doors as missionaries too.  We are waiting for everyone to go in.  All 6 of us missionaries. Sometimes we have to go pick someone up and walk with them, but most Sundays we try to be by the doors to welcome members and be ready to show investigators where to go.  It’s cool that your missionaries in Minnesota do the same thing!

I hope you all know how much I love you and pray for you!  I love you more than the number of puddles I walked through this week!  (it was at least a million).

Hermana Withers