Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Grateful to be a member of the same Church Christ organized, A day in the life of the Mission Secretary

August 18, 2014

Dear Family,
The person who owns the house we rent keeps raising the rent, and the mission knows that the house isn’t worth what this lady wants for it, so, we have been looking for a new place to rent.  We have found several good places that are sizeable with hot water and everything, and will be moving hopefully within the next 1-2 weeks.  I thought it was funny that Rebecca was also dealing with a house moving deal.  Funny how it works out that way.

Our zone went to a really pretty beach today with a couple other zones.  The waves were big and pretty.  I got what I would consider to be the best pictures that I have yet taken here in Chile, but on my companion’s camera.  I forgot to bring my camera, but I will have him email them to me.  The ocean here is really pretty.

We have been teaching several part member families.  One of the families is really progressing, the only catch is that they aren’t married yet.  However, they are going to get married in November, and the father will be baptized the 30th of November.  He, Patricio, knows the church is true, and shows up on the list of active people in Santa Sabina that the ward secretary gave us.  His wife is a member, and goes to church pretty frequently.  Patricio knows the church is true and has a testimony, and wants to be baptized.  They have 4 kids, all of whom minus the baby are members.  The oldest, is about 17 and he wants nothing to do with the church, but we hope he will change.  They have 2 daughters that are about 15 and 12 years old, and they participate in the church.  They also have a little daughter that is about a year and a half.  In Chile it is not uncommon to see people with very white skin and hair color that would make you think they aren’t from South America.  The wife, Claudia has red hair, Patricio has black hair, and is about 6 foot 5, and the youngest daughter has light brown hair with blue eyes.  I think she looks like baby pictures of Rebecca.  I told them, and they want me to bring pictures of what Rebecca looks like now so they can see what the baby will look like when she’s older.  Chileans are fun.  Patricio is a wealthy man, he is a manager of large construction projects, is studying towards a degree in civil engineering, and buys and sells Mercedes-Benz from his home.  He took us home in one of his Mercedes, and he really hit the gas.  It was exciting.

I invite you all to invite others to come unto Christ.  It will bring lasting joy in this life and in the next.  Something we have been sharing lately is Doctrine & Covenants  18:10, and the next 5 or so verses.  They are good and apply to missionary work.

I am really enjoying my mission.  I love thinking that every day I get the chance to be a full time missionary, to be an authorized representative of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and to be as Elder Holland described full time missionaries, “apostolic witnesses” of Jesus Christ.  I know that the Book of Mormon is true, and that if we study it daily we will grow closer to God, than by studying any other book daily.  I am grateful to be a member of the same church that Jesus Christ established 2000 years ago.  

Nothing too crazy happened this past week.  I want you all to know that I love you lots.

I love you all, more than the number of blades of grass it would take to make a grass walkway 20 feet wide and that linked to Rosario and Boise and Concepción.
-Elder Withers

Dear Family,
This week the most incredible thing happened.  Mauro talked to his parents..........and.............they are okay with him getting baptized!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We had a lesson with him this last Friday, and he was really nervous.  He wanted to tell his parents, but was scared.  Saturday afternoon after work he went with his fiancée to talk with them, they talked for a long time, and all is good.  They asked lots of questions, but not to be mean.....their questions were out of curiosity as to what he is doing, and why he wants to and so on.  When Mauro and Nadin told us we were over the moon excited, and the branch of Beltran is pretty excited too.  He won’t be baptized this Saturday though, because of a few complications with work (he works with his parents in a butcher shop and to keep the peace they made a schedule so Mauro can go to church, but it requires waiting one more week) and then he’s golden!  He will be baptized August 30, and I am so excited.  Hermana Gonzalez and I are the only missionaries that have ever taught him and it’s because he has progressed super fast.  He has the church apps on his smart phone and when work is slow he reads or watches Mormon messages or studies the gospel principles manual......and he asks questions that I haven’t even thought of before.  He is good.  He loves to study, is planning to take Nadin to the temple in one year, and he is another future priesthood holder that this area desperately needs.  I feel so lucky and blessed to be the missionary that got to teach him.  My only worry is that I might not be there for his baptism, because transfers are the 27th......which would be kind of a bummer, but I have gotten to be able to do all the fun part of it will be okay.  (Incredible thing to guys fasted for us that we would have success, I was fasting Saturday afternoon too.......and that was when Mauro was talking with his parents.  Fasting is powerful).  I will make sure to send a picture of Nadin and Mauro and their family.  We love them so much, and if I am allowed to have favorites......they are it!

The rest of this week was kind of long, because we weren’t living in our own apartment.....we were sharing with the other hermanas, but it turned out to be fine.  It was fun at night, after everyone finished planning for the next day and calling in, we would all sit and talk.  Sometimes reality hits me like a brick and it is so amazing to me where I am.  Sometimes I forget that I am in Argentina, and then out of nowhere I realize it again.  Just in our temporary apartment....there are 4 countries represented.  Peru, Chile, Mexico, and the U.S.  The work really is awesome and it really is an international effort.  I will make sure to send pictures of all of us too!  We stopped by our apartment a few times, and they absolutely destroyed it. was a mess.  They drilled holes in the roof and in the walls, tore apart the walls, and there is dirt and dust everywhere.  This afternoon we are going to spend cleaning it all up, and tomorrow we move back.  Whoohoo!  At least we have a water heater now.  (Not that we didn’t have one before, that would have been tragic.  They are just putting in our own so that we don’t share one with the next door neighbor. )

This week we also had to go to Rosario to do visa paperwork.  It was long and extensive, and we had to do it twice.  This is what Elder Hill is in charge of, doing all the paperwork, calling the missionaries saying it’s their turn to go to Rosario to sign everything, and then send them back.  He does 7 or 8 each day, and after one day I was already tired.  My companion and I were going to do everything all together the first time, but my fingerprints came back bad, so we had to go back and do mine separately.  What Elder Hill does is seriously amazing, he has angels watching out for him and helping him.  He drives the mission car, packed to capacity.....with a special gray folder that holds all the paperwork and passports (worth more than gold.....he doesn’t like anyone touching it :) and we all go.  We went to several offices (no one really knows what all the paperwork means except him).  We stop at one place, all pile out, sign things, pile back in, go to another place, and get all the fingerprints, then go take pictures to put with the documents, and then go to immigrations.  It is a sad and stressful place, packed to capacity with angry people and missionaries.  He drives the mission car in downtown Rosario like it’s no problem.  But in Argentina, no one respects the lanes and there aren’t stop signs....whoever gets to the intersection first goes first.  It’s scary, and he does it like a champ.  It should also be noted that millions of people live in Rosario, driving in downtown Rosario is like driving in downtown Chicago or LA, and he knows how to get to all of the places without asking for directions or getting confused with the one way streets.  He takes 7 or 8 missionaries through the same process each day, doing tons.  When we went we had lots of time to talk and catch up while we waited in all the lines, and he said that the church changed the way they do visas for Argentina.  Before, the church waited until the missionary had the visa before they went....but now they send us, and we do everything here.  It works out better because then you don’t have visa waiters, but it’s a lot more work for the church.....(more like a ton more work for Elder Hill).  He talks to professional government people like it’s his first language, and they all know him by name because he is in their office every day, helping different missionaries.  More than anything I was just really impressed.  Everyone respects Elder Hill because he has work that no one else knows how to do (not even President, Elder Hill works with the church in Buenos Aires) and he does it every day.  That immigration office was something else, I don’t know how he does it every day.  It’s fun to be his cousin, and to serve with him down here.  The intense paperwork is starting to wind down, because the church is getting caught up on all the paperwork that couldn’t be done before (or in other words all the missionaries who were all visa waiters before) and soon it will be more stable.  Mine has taken so long because my paperwork got lost and Elder Hill had to do everything again, but........I’m good to go now!  

It was a great week with lots of adventures!  I hope everything works out with registering school, classes, and lockers.  I hope you all know that I love you more than all the travel fees the church pays to provide for  missionaries!
Hermana Withers

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