Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Diligence, Trip to Rosario

Dear Family,
This past week passed really quickly, and I am shocked that I am almost at the halfway point of my mission.  TOO FAST.  I wish it would slow down.  Yesterday I gave a talk about the Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End.  I focused most of the talk on enduring to the end.  I used the tortoise and the hare analogy, and invited everyone to be gospel tortoise, not in the sense of being slow, but in the sense of being diligent. We were delighted to see that Amadeo, the reference from Bro. López came to church.  I would appreciate it so much if you could include him in your prayers.  He still has a long ways to go. He has a baptismal date set for the twenty first of June, and he really needs your prayers.  This week we hope to finally have the family home evening with Norma, the reference who contacted us in the street.  We have been waiting for the members to set up the family home evening, and they have lost her phone number a couple of times.  I really hope we can start working with her this week.

Oh, I dont remember if I sent the recipe for microwaveable cake yet.  Here it is.  You can make it in a mug, a bowl, or anything that can go in the microwave.  Feel free to double or triple the recipe.  4 cucharadas de azucar+ 3 cucharadas de harina + 2 cucharadas de chocolate amargo (nesquik will probalby work just as fine) + 4 cucharadas de aceite + 3 cucharadas de leche + 1 huevo.  mix until well mixed, then put the microwave on highest power setting and cook it for 3 to 3.5 minutes.  Enjoy!

To answer a couple questions, we haven’t come in contact with the Matthew 28:19 investigator, I think he has been out of town.  We will either find him this week or we will slip a note under his door.

I love you all more than the number of bugs the car will hit between now and the time you pull the car into garage in Boise.
Elder Withers

Dear Family,
This was an out of the ordinary week because we had to go to Rosario 3 times (3!).  That’s a ton! We first went so my companion could have an x-ray and MRI done, then we went the next day to pick up all the results, and we went again to do what is called a "choque de fuerza" or in other words, overflow a single area in our zone with all the missionaries in the zone for 3 hours to help with contacts and lessons.  It was really awesome, and made me so grateful for Beltran.  The area we were working in has tonnnnns of money, and lots of cold, uninterested people.  But it went well, and it was fun to all work together as a zone.  And as always, it was fun to see Elder Hill :)

When we went to downtown Rosario for the medical stuff, we were told to go to the Gamma Institute, which turned out to be a huge, big medical place right in the middle of downtown Rosario.  It takes almost 2 hours to get there because you have to take 2 different buses, and it took even longer because we had to go the mission office first to pick up the money to pay for all the tests.  It felt like we were traveling all day long.  And when we got to the area of downtown Rosario, everything started to get nuts.  You have to walk really fast to keep up with the speed and the sheer number of people that are invading the sidewalks.  You have to guard your bags because there are so many people everywhere, and not breathe in too deeply because everyone and their mother is smoking.  We walked past the big Broadway theater....ha and in case you are interested they will be showing Phantom of the Opera this week. :)  I would have taken pictures of everything to document it all.......but I didn’t want to attract attention and get robbed, so I just locked it all in my memory and am doing my best to explain it all.  

Funny story....at one point in the journey from the mission home to Gamma, we were given permission to take a taxi.  We called the taxi, got in, and were on our way.  It was an insane roller coaster (like every cab ride.....I miss driving laws) and the car broke.  Right in the middle of the big road.  We got out, and kept going, but it was a funny little adventure.  We spent a lot of time in the big huge city this week, and it was a little stressful, but we made it out alive. Hopefully we can figure out what is happening with my companion’s knee.   

I finished the Book of Mormon in Spanish yesterday, and it is such a powerful book.  I prayed again to ask if it was true, and just like every other time I have prayed and asked.....I got the same peaceful and reassuring feeling that it is.  And I know it is.  

Our investigators are all doing well.  We are still waiting for the paperwork for Roberto and Teresa to come through so that they can get married.  They are progressing well, and we even got to help them lay the cement and place the bricks on the house they are building this week, which was fun.  :)

We also had an investigator named Jorge, who went to church yesterday.  He is living with a member who has 7 kids, and they moved to Beltran recently.  They want to get married (so many people need to get married!) but they are waiting for the divorce paperwork for Lorena, his girlfriend.  Hopefully it comes quick!  They are both cops, and super awesome people.  
All else moves along nicely here in Beltran.  Our branch president is this nice man, but he is huge.  I learned this week that he lifts lots of weights, and it all makes so much sense.  I will send a picture of him some time, he has to turn sideways to walk through the doors his shoulders are so big.  He is awesome though.  Crazy thing is that the relief society president and her husband (he isn’t a member, but we are teaching him) both had polio.  It is very rare to meet people who have had that disease, but apparently Argentina was hit with a bad case that spread quickly, and they were affected before there was a vaccine.  They are incredible people.  

The general conference talks have been like angels to me.  I love listening to them.  And just so you know, everything has cleared up with the packages.  They arrive without problems.  Just don’t use private companies like FedEx or anything.  

This week really was a stellar week and I am excited for another week of adventures!  This is the last week of the transfer, so I won’t be emailing until next Tuesday.  

I love you all lots!  More than all the people I walked past in downtown Rosario this week!  
Hermana Withers

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Using Both the Book of Mormon & Bible to Teach, Love Being a Missionary

Dear Family,
This week was a really good week.  Working with Elder Sellers is really nice, he speaks amazingly good Spanish.  He sometimes has a hard time understanding the Chileans, but so does everyone.  We get along without any problems, and I really have my fingers crossed that neither one of us gets transferred 2 weeks from now.  We have finally got the member who knows the lady who wants to become a member of the church to set up a family home evening.  It will be this week.    

There is a mentally challenged member in our ward, his name is Christian.  He is 32, is handy with the scriptures, and lives with his parents.  His favorite thing in the world is to work with us whether it’s confirmed teaching appointments or knocking doors in the rain.  He gave us a reference of a preacher who uses the Book of Mormon in his ministry, teaching about 60 people every week in the shed behind his house.  We have passed by that house about 6 times, trying to find the preacher, but we’ve never found him.  Saturday night, he was home.  He said he was busy, but he came out to open the front gate and we gave him more literature to read.  We were finally able to meet with him.  We found out he actually isn’t a preacher, but he does have a Book of Mormon.  His name is Amadeo, he is 83 years old, and is retired.  He worked many years for the PDI, the Chilean equivalent of the FBI.  Having a pretty sharp mind, he taught himself English using an old textbook.  We taught the message of the restoration in English.  The spirit was so strong, and he had really good questions.  I shared my conversion story with him, of how I came to know the truth for myself.  Towards the end of the lesson, he grabbed a Book of Mormon, and said, “I know that this book is true.”  Then he grabbed the Bible, and said, “I am not sure about this book, but I know that this other book is true.”  He is so prepared, and we are going to pass by this Wednesday with Christian.  We are teaching some other really good people, and I wish you could meet them all.  

A while back we were teaching a preacher named Roberto.  He has a very good handling of the Bible, and told us that he respects and admires the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints a great deal, but will never join it because we baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.  He is so set that baptisms should simply be in the name of the Son.  He then said if we could show him a verse in the Bible that explains baptism in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, then he would join our church without question.  We stopped visiting him, since it seemed he only wanted to argue with us.  This morning, I was listening to a conference talk, and Elder Holland was speaking.  He said something that made me think to look up “missionary work” in the topical guide, and it led me to Matthew 28:19.  “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”.  I will hold Robert to his word, Matthew 28:19 has him.

I love you all so much, more than the number of paper clips it would take to make a paper clip chain between the International Space Station and the Statue of Liberty.

Sincerely, with lots of smiling,
Elder Withers

Dear Family,
I’m  glad you are all having a great week!  I can’t believe you are getting ready to leave Minnesota and are going to visit the east coast.  Take lots of pictures!  

This has been a good week and I am so grateful to be a missionary.  We are making lots of fun progress with the less actives and our golden investigators Roberto and Teresa.  They are progressing lightning fast and the only thing we are waiting for are the wedding documents and paperwork to come in the mail so that they can get married and baptized.  Woohoo! 

It is getting pretty cold, and my coat has been the best thing ever.  I love that it’s long, and I am totally ready for winter.  

Congrats to you Chad on all your success in Chile!  It’s amazing how the Lord puts people in our paths to find and teach, but so important to remember to do our part first so that we can be ready and worthy of the blessings.  Keep it up!  

Thanks for all your letters and messages of support.  I love you guys so much, and I feel lucky to be in South America.  My time ran short today because I had to do some paperwork on the computer (my reimbursements!) so sorry the letter this week isn’t as good.  Next week I will have more time and be able to send pictures (Ha...I have been promising for like a month now, but next week I really promise ;).  

I love you more than all the people I am going to meet this week through contacts!  
Hermana Withers

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Mother's Day Phone Calls - Short Letters

Dear Family,
I was so excited to talk to you all.  It was awesome.  Amazingly, we were able to hook up all three computers and have a crazy long distance phone call, and be able to see everyone’s faces.  It was awesome to talk with each and every one of you, and to try to catch up with all the many things that are going on.  

This week started out pretty rough, as far as the quantity of people we had scheduled to teach.  We worked hard to talk with as many people as possible, and on Sunday, on our way to lunch we were privileged to talk with someone who is really prepared to receive the gospel.  Her name is Norma.  I was so happy about it that I put it in my letter to president.  We did our part to do the 10 contacts a day per missionary, and we were greatly blessed.  I was honestly surprised when we were walking to lunch yesterday and a couple stopped us, and asked where and when our church meetings are, and what is required to be able to be married in the temple. The man is a member, and really wants to be sealed to his wife.  She is a non-member, but very interested, and asked us about how to prepare for baptism.  We look forward to teaching her the gospel.  I am convinced that had we not been talking with everyone throughout the week, God would not have placed them in our path. I have a testimony of the importance of talking with everyone.  I am happy, and healthy, and excited to start this new week.
The mission is such an amazing experience.  To be able to see people accept the gospel is the most exciting thing.  Those awesome moments when you are really teaching the gospel make it all worth it.  

I love you all so much, more than the number of cheerios it would take to feed all the animals in Hogle Zoo for a week.
Elder Withers

Dear Family,
Oh it was so fun to talk to you guys through Skype.  I lovvvvvved it, and even more incredible was that Chad and I were able to talk for a little bit.  Such a miracle that everything worked out and that we could have a nice relaxing conversation.  

I really love my mission.  I really do :)  All the silly and strange things and adventures that happen are all part of the package, but they aren’t the whole story.  All of the people we talk to in the streets, or the members we visit, the lessons we have, or service we can offer are what make the mission awesome.  As fun as it has been getting to know a new country and culture, that’s not why I came on a mission.  My purpose was and is to serve the Lord, not to get to know a new county.....and it’s been awesome!  As foreign and different as the Argentine people seem sometimes, they really are amazing and have the same spiritual and emotional needs like everyone else in the world....they just speak a different language and are addicted to mate!  

Life is good.  Missionary work really is a life changing experience, which makes a person grow and change in incredible ways.  

I love you lots and hope you know that you are all my favorite!  I love you all more than the number of people who are investigating the church around the world!

Hermana Withers 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

New English Classes, Trips to Rosario

Dear Family,
How awesome that you saw the northern lights!  I wish you all the best on your end of year school projects, and packing.  

We started an English class this last Friday and we had one person show up.  I taught him how to say “son of a nutcracker!” from the movie Elf.  I found it pretty funny.  The way to say that in Spanish is “¡hijo de cascanueces!”  

There hasn’t been a whole lot of happenings here, just working hard and trying our best to find the people who are ready to hear the gospel.  Elder Sellers and I have a lot in common, he likes math, likes airplanes a lot, loves to play checkers, and likes to quote from the same movies.  The other day I said “Wow!  What a hole!”   He recognized it was from the movie “Home Alone Two”.  

Last night we found a family to start working with.  

I have come across some pretty good recipes in Chile.  One is 3 min in the microwave brownies, and the other is what I decided to call Lópèz Leche.  it is:  Sugar+chocolate amargo or fruit or whatever flavoring or fruit you want+warm water+powdered milk.  Put all that in a blender and blend it.  It is surprisingly good, and is the only delicious way I have found of consuming powdered milk.  I bet you could use real milk instead of powdered milk, but I buy powdered milk down here because it is so much cheaper.  I will try to remember to send the brownie recipe next week.  

I love you all, more than the number of Willy Wonka nerds candies it would take to make enough nerd ropes to make a bridge between the north pole and the south pole.

With lots of love,
-Elder Withers

Dear Family,
This week was soooo awesome.  Really!  Such a great week.  We had to travel to and from Rosario  twice. One was to go to the mission office for interviews with President, another was for our zone meeting.  Our interviews with President are always awesome and it’s hard to believe that president Giuliani goes home soon. When we walked into the office all the office Elders, President, and Hermana Giuliani said......"Oh Hermana Withers, Elder Hill left the office so sad because he didn’t get to see you, he had to take a missionary to the hospital"  and I said, "Oh that’s okay.....I will see him tomorrow at zone meeting!"  Hermana Giuliani felt sad about it anyway and said she wanted to film a little video of me talking so she could show it to him.  So she filmed me, and I didn’t say anything of consequence, just hey, how ya doin, see you tomorrow, and have a great day.  It was fun to do.  And it turned out that I didn’t need to make the video after all, because after she filmed me....he walked in!  It was soooo fun to see him after 6 months.  We were able to talk for about half an hour....just catching up on life, our areas, our families, the funny things about Argentina....and it was sweet.  I love being in the same mission as him.  Even more hilarious is watching everyone’s faces when people learn that we are cousins.  

We also had zone meeting....and Elder Hill had the whole zone laughing several times, cracking jokes about being here in Argentina with his "prima".  (Prima means cousin in Spanish)  After zone meeting there was a stack of dear elder letters like always :) and also a package.  I nearly cried in excitement.  When I read the customs paper to see what it said, it said candy and cosmetics.  My face soap made it!  And a bag of melted Reeses, and apparently there were Cadbury eggs but someone along the way must have opened the box and taken those out.  Its okay, the Reeses were perfect and so fun to eat.  I shared some with the other missionaries in our district while we were waiting at the bus stop.  The face soap has been a luxurious blessing for my skin, and the chocolate such a fun treat.  And it also means that there is still hope for my other packages to get here.  I have no idea how a box with candy and soap made it.....but miracles happen!

After one of the meetings we had we went to McDonalds as a district, and paid quite a price for a burger, fries, and a drink.....but it was so worth it.  It was 44 pesos (!) but in reality it was like 15 dollars.  Which is still kind of a lot for fast food.....but McDonalds is considered fine dining here because it’s more expensive and it was so fun to eat a familiar food.  No matter how greasy and unhealthy it was, it was soo good.  I’m totally keeping the receipt :)

McDonalds was delicious in comparison to what a sweet member served us for lunch the other day.  It was pretty brisk outside, so she made us a stew.  And the stew was made of broth, potatoes, some pieces of beef, and weird square chunks that were a white/grayish color.  I was able to eat everything else...but for some reason those weird square things I just couldn’t eat.  They were just too mysterious and too scary looking to try. So I left them in the bowl (there were only 2 or 3).  And after we left I asked my companion what the square chunks were, and she said pig skin.  I am so grateful for my health every single day.  There are things we are served, and I try to be careful....but it’s not always easy.  I just never look in the kitchen to see what it’s like or how clean it is, or to see if birds or cats or dogs are walking on the counter, or licking the food.  It’s just easier if I don’t know.  But I am healthy and strong!     

We are teaching a really incredible family.....Roberto and Teresa, who have 2 little boys.  They have been taught all the lessons, and are waiting for the paperwork to come in the mail so they can get married the end of this month... and of course baptized afterwards.  Sweet!  They went to church yesterday and are so awesome. They participate in the meetings, go to the activities, and are very solid.  They are fun to work with.  

Our next door neighbor is a sweet member who is also our landlord.  We rent the side of her house (something similar to the short house, with a separate door, and living quarters) and she is a hoot.  We can always tell when she wakes up because at some point when we are doing our studies we can hear her outside talking to her 5 window plants.  She talks to them like someone would talk to a cat or dog.  Except.......they are her plants.  Ha, she is kind of lonely.  

Today we went to Rosario to see all the sights (actually just the one really big famous monument).  And it was sweet.  We are actually still here, we are writing home in the internet place and will head back soon.  I took lots of photos and can’t send any home right now, but next week!  I promise for real!  We also ate lunch at a fancy restaurant, it was an all you can eat buffet which was sooo fun.  

I love my mission.  I love the blessings I have in my life.  I love being part of an eternal family and sharing with the whole world that I know the book of Mormon is true.  This country is always an adventure, and it has been fun to get lost in this big city of Rosario.  We have had to ask at least a dozen times where stuff is......because we have no idea!  

I love you all more than all the moms in the world excited to talk to their missionaries this next week!  
Hermana Withers