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!
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.
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.)