This will be a super express email because I am going to email the reunion letter, and try to send a few pictures.
News of this week: Amadeo was baptized and confirmed, and is super happy. The guy really likes to laugh and smile. We preached on a couple buses this week, and it is such a rewarding thing to do, to teach and testify and then invite the crowd to listen to our message. It has happened several times that a member is on the bus, and we don’t always realize it, but the members comment that they think that is so awesome, and it helps us get their confidence, that we are doing all we can to find people to teach. Also, on Saturday we had a ward activity called mate criollo, where it is a party of mate and sopapillas, which are basically scones. It was a lot of fun, and we had a little bit of karaoke. Right before we left, I karaoked “Someone Like You” by Adele, I had no idea how to sing it, but I sang it loud and really had a ball.
Missionary Work is amazingly awesome. I have seen firsthand so many cool things, and I wish I could convey in words all the amazing things I have seen in the last year. These are the last days, this is the time to preach the gospel. The Lord is hastening his work. We now have to work together as members and missionaries, and harder than ever before.
I would like to begin with a quote from President Spencer W. Kimball. “Now is the moment in the timetable of the Lord to carry the gospel farther than it has ever been carried before…. Many a person in this world is crying, knowingly and unknowingly, “Come over… help us.” He might be your neighbor. She might be your friend. He might be a relative. She might be someone you met only yesterday. But we have what they need. Let us take new courage from our studies and pray, as did Peter, “And now, Lord, grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word.” Acts 4:29. He H
It is by sharing the gospel with those around us that many millions of of our fellow brothers and sisters will join the church. As members, it is our duty to carry the joyous message of the gospel to all. As Christians it is our sacred duty to light the darkened homes, and lives of our neighbors, friends at school, co workers, and people we meet throughout our day. In order to do this, we first need to develop a testimony that the Book of Mormon is true. I invite all of you to read the introduction to the Book of Mormon this week. I challenge you to read the Book of Mormon before Christmas. I can promise you that if you really read and pray about that book you will gain a testimony that it is true.
During my mission I have had some amazing testimony building experiences. One that I would like to share is about a man named Adolfo Figueroa. He is a leader in Chilean military training, a really tough guy. His wife washed our laundry, and was inactive for a number of years. His wife was brought back to the church by talented sister missionaries. Adolfo had listened to missionaries many times, had read pamphlets, had gone to church many times, and had even prayed to see if what he read was true. But there was something missing. It was humility and real intent. He didn’t believe in the Book of Mormon. He didn’t want to accept anything besides the first four books in the New Testament. We knew that he loved the savior, and that he had an idea of Christ, but without a testimony of the Book of Mormon, he wouldn’t be able to progress in the gospel. Over a period of about 3 months, we gave service to his family, shared gospel messages when we went to pick up our laundry, even went fishing with him once. We had family home evenings where the spirit was so strong that he cried. As we read out of 3 Nephi 11 one afternoon, he started to believe. After I left that area, he was baptized, and is now an active member of the church, and a priesthood holder in his home. I know that there are Adolfos all around us. Adolfo Figueroa is not alone, there are many like him. They all need the light of the gospel.
I love being a missionary because of the many opportunities I have to share the gospel with all around me. It is a full time job.
I love you all more than the number of pounds of sand it would take to make a sand castle bigger than the Eifel Tower.
This was a pretty great week, with nothing exceptionally exciting or eventful happening. We have been working hard to find new investigators, keep teaching the ones we have, and to keep working with the less actives. There really is nothing new or worthwhile to report, so I am going to use the time to write my family reunion letter. I hope that’s okay.
From Argentina to my favorite friends in Stanley, Idaho:
Oh there is so much that I want to write about missionary work and why I love it and how you can start doing it too, and all the miracles that one can experience when you open your mouth and share your testimony or experiences with others. I only have one hour to write this letter, and I am sitting here anxious to type out an inspiring story or experience I have had on my mission....and in the immediate moment nothing specific or perfect to share comes to mind, because in reality I want to share everything. My experiences over the course of my mission up until this point have been incredible, testimony building, and spiritually gratifying. I have worked with the richest of the rich in the United States capital in Washington DC, to some of the poorest of the poor.......and its all the same. Missionary work is all the same around the world. Joseph Smith once said, “After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the gospel.”
Sharing the gospel really is the most important. Not to say that other things like having a job, and raising kids, going to school, serving in your calling aren’t important, because they are......they are super important, it’s just that as we go about doing each of these things we should always be attentive and prepared for missionary opportunities. As a full time missionary, I have had the blessing of setting aside all of my other concerns and only sharing the gospel.....and it’s been awesome. Sometimes other missionaries will ask me a question that drives me nuts, "How many baptisms have you had?" and I always say, "None of us, ever get to claim a baptism....it all belongs to the Lord." And I believe it. This work doesn’t belong to us, it is the Lords. And if he wanted to do it all really quick to finish it up and do it right, He could. But he won’t, because he needs us to grow and progress......and there isn’t any better way to help us grow and progress than through sharing a testimony. We are imperfect, and sometimes we blow golden opportunities but there is always another one.
Don’t beat yourself up for making mistakes or for being afraid to be a missionary....it’s natural because we are humans. But don’t let yourself stay in that position either. Start another day, get ready to try a little harder, and do your best. The Lord knows he has called us to a work we can’t do by ourselves, so we are naturally entitled to his help. Take advantage of it and be a good missionary. We are all missionaries and Heavenly Father needs all of us to work hard. I guess my inspiring story.....is to say, “Keep going!” The last time you were all sitting in this same camp, which was a year ago.....I started my journey as a missionary. And I have been doing the same thing for the last year, every single day....not skipping a single one. I have made mistakes, learned lots, experienced new things and it has all been worth it. I also have not been in an area at the moment when the Lord blesses it with a baptism. But that doesn’t mean that all my past work doesn’t value anything. And if all our efforts don’t help someone reach baptism, don’t worry about it. It’s in the Lords hands anyway. All we need to do is be obedient, open our mouths, and the Lord will take care of the rest.
Why I like being a missionary:
You can be an instrument in the Lords hands, helping in this ever important work.....while at the same time experience personal growth. Its character building. You get to know a new side of yourself, that you might not have never known before when you open your mouth and share your experiences. :)
I love you all lots, more than all the pine trees in Idaho!