Monday, July 21, 2014

Paintball game on P-day, New Mission President in Argentina

July 7

Dear Family,
Reading your letters and emails really is the best part of every p-day.  I wish you all the very best in being in Argentina during the world soccer cup, working at the mill, going to girls camp, and trek, and Sam flying solo in a passenger jet to the Great Salt Lake Valley.

This week has really been quite eventful, with ordering custom made leather scripture cases, contacting people from a car, preaching the restored gospel from the fronts of buses, playing paintball today, completing exactly one year in the field on Wednesday, visiting the announced construction site of the next temple in Chile and lots of other exciting things.  

There is a branch president in the Concepción South mission who does really nice scripture cases, and I decided to venture. para la biblia y el triple, (Bible and Triple Combination) they will be ready to pick up in the office before next p-day, and are going to look pretty cool.  You can call him on the phone and tell him what pictures from the Gospel Art Book (the book with a painting for main scripture stories, and he will make it.  I will send you pictures of the scripture cases.  

There is a man in our ward named Brother Mella.  He is such an awesome guy to work with.  He is about 55 years old, and converted when he was 19.  He and his wife both served missions.  His wife served in Chile when the entire country (the tallest in the world) was all one mission.  Anyway, he and his wife go to the temple in Santiago at least once a month, and this time I had them bring me back a certain few church movies (the restoration, finding faith in Christ, together forever, Creemos (a movie commemorating 50 years since the first missionaries came to Chile), and a movie about the history of the church in Chile, starting in the 1800s when Parley P. Pratt came to Chile for a number of months to preach the gospel.  The movies will be good for family home evenings and p days.  

With Hermano Mella, we went to a couple of visits yesterday, and he is great.  He likes to pull over, roll the windows down, and tell sidewalk travelers to come over.  He asks them if they have met with missionaries before.  Regardless of what they say, he introduces us and tries to schedule an appointment.  It is pretty cool that he has the courage to talk to anybody about the gospel, whether he knows them or not.  When we invited a young family to be baptized last night, he played a real important part, asking some really good questions.  The family did accept the idea of being baptized, but not a baptismal date.  I really hope they actually come to church.  That same day, we went with him to give a priesthood blessing to a sister who has a really bad case of cancer that came back.  Hermano Mella said he would be willing to contact a bus with us, saying he likes the idea of it.  Our whole district is now contacting buses, and it is cool to watch the barrier of fear be leveled to the ground by the power of faith in Jesus Christ.  

When I went to the ward of Pedro de Valdivia to interview Thomas, I was able to get a picture of the announced temple site.  It is a nice area by the river.  It was kind of dark, but it was still really exciting to see.  Thomas, of 10 years, was baptized and confirmed this weekend, so that was really exciting, especially considering his mother is now active again.

We played paintball today.  I really had a good time.  It was in a small, thickly wooded area.  During the last game, I had about 3 paintballs left, so I decided to just forget about hiding and cautiously sneaking between covered areas.  I stood up, gave an Indian war cry, and started running down the hill.  My facemask was all fogged up, and I couldn’t see very well.  I tripped (don’t worry, no blood) and then quickly stood up again.  I started the charge again, firing off the last few paintballs I had, and in less than a second I was shot probably 5 times, in the pants, chest, and head.  I put my hands up and started to leave the field, and oddly, certain missionaries decided to keep shooting the now dead screaming banshee.  When I made it back, I realized that I had paint all over (luckily the company loans camo clothing to go over whatever clothes we came in, so my clothes were very well protected).  I had several head shots that painted my ear pretty well.  The protective equipment did its job, and I don’t have any welts or soreness.  I was pretty well marked, and a lot of the missionaries had their pictures taken with me. It was a memorable p day.  Even though it really stung to be shot repeatedly as I walked out with my hands on my head, I was glad to have played like a screaming banshee rather than hide behind a barrel.

This week I shared my testimony in sacrament meeting, and I would now like to share it again.  I know that God loves us.  He is our loving Heavenly Father, and Jesus Christ is his son, is the savior of the universe.  His life, his teachings, his sufferings, and his death were all for us, that we might live again.  I love you all, so very much,
Elder Withers

Dear Family,
This week President Zanni arrived........and he is incredible.  He is young and energetic, and reminds me a lot of President Riggs from Washington DC South.  He has changed a few things, like missionaries can baptize investigators (before only members in the corresponding ward or branch could baptize) a few other things, and we are able to write for an hour and a half instead of just an hour!!!!!!  I am so thrilled.  That extra half an hour will really help in actually enjoying the letters and not writing so rushed.  The changes have been good.  I love both Presidents, and the amazing things they have done......but I also recognize that changes are good.

This week we had zone meeting, and it was very very good.  I learned lots of great things, and afterwards had a beautiful stack of letters.  I have read them all and I am so grateful for all the people who write.  Letters are awesome.  

Argentina is still in the world cup, and the intensity keeps building up.  Every time its game day, you can feel a weird sort of sensation in the air, like an exhilarating energy......and every time Argentina wins the energy just builds up more and more.  It’s like a pressure cooker, and the more Argentina plays the more dangerous it has been getting at the end of each game.  It doesn’t really matter if they win or lose....people go nuts anyway.  And this is the last week!  It’s all ending on Sunday, thank goodness.  

This was a good week for finding new investigators.  We have been able to find lots of new young couples; each one with a few kids....or in other words.....families!  And it’s awesome.  This last Sunday was sort of miraculous too.  Fast and testimony meeting was very spiritual (it’s not know how they can go sometimes) but this time the Spirit was very powerful.  My companion and I also shared our testimonies, and at the end of the meeting we had members coming towards us to ask when they could go out with us.  That hardly EVER happens.  Basically never, at least here in Beltran....and we couldn’t believe it.  We are always the ones that have to go around asking and bugging everyone when they have a few minutes during the week to do a few visits with us.  Because if we don’t ask, they never offer, as if they think they can escape us.  Well, that’s how it was before.  Now there is this terrifically fun energy for missionary work here in Beltran, and they are anxious to help us.  I’m not sure what the missionaries have been like in Beltran before, but we are doing our best to gain the trust and confidence of each one.......doing all we can to show that we are here to help and that we have been set apart with the authority to teach.  We set up several appointments and family home evenings, arranging to have lessons with members and investigators together.  Operation gaining the trust of the members has been going well in that sense, and the Lord is richly blessing this area.  

A member made pizzas for lunch for us on Tuesday......and used blue cheese.  Ha, shoot.  Do you see where this is going?  At least they told us the differences in the pizzas, "This one is with blue cheese, this one with ham, and this one with olives, choose whichever you want"  Ha......close call.  I have never seen or heard of blue cheese during my time here in Argentina, but now that I now it exists I am going to be a little more conscious.  I didn’t say anything, but I also didn’t try the blue cheese one.

Really all is going well.  I am so grateful for this area.  My companion and I have really been seeing lots of miracles, and progress little by little.  I love this work, and I love all of you!  

Don’t forget to be awesome.  I love you more than all the bomb noise sounds, and crazy maniacs in the streets after every Argentina soccer game!
Hermana Withers

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