Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Missionary Idea From Moroni, True Argentine Cuisine

September 29, 2014

Dear Family,  
This week has been pretty chill.  We have been busy knocking doors, talking to people in the streets, and asking the members for references.  There was a day this month where lunch with the members completely fell through, and so we bought Papa John’s.  It was great. 

This week we put a booth outside with pamphlets and we talked to everyone who went by.  We also got a phone book and started calling people to invite them to conference.  My comp was great at it, and in about 15 calls had 2 different people committed to go to conference.  There is in our sector a very rich gated community of condominiums; we call it the Bavarian village because of the European style architecture.  Anyway, it is illegal to knock doors in gated communities here, and we think we have found a solution, fresh from the Book of Mormon -  Moroni laid siege, why can’t we?  We were going to put a table outside the gates on Saturday loaded with pamphlets, cards, and a few Book of Mormons, but it rained pretty hard.  We will do it this week for sure.  We got permission from the guard to do it, he himself being an inactive member who wants to come back to church.  Every car that wants to enter or leave will pass by our table.  We want to set as many appointments as possible, and then if we can get some solid investigators we can go into the Bavarian village whenever we want.  

Well, thanks for being who you are.  If you were anyone different, it just wouldn’t be the same.  It would be sort of different, hence, therefore, STAY AWESOME.  I love you all so very much, more than the number of birds and butterflies and whales and other animals that migrate in large groups between the north and south with the changing of seasons.  Have a great week.

With lots of love,
Elder Withers 

Dear Family,
This week had several things that are worth sharing :)  First and foremost...........it’s been a long time since I have been served anything scary, and last Monday reality played a cruel joke on us.  Sometimes I forget that Argentina is a land where the cow is essential.....and nearly every part of it is used for eating and the benefit of humans.  Until someone serves us something whacky, and then I say to myself......."oh yeah".  On Monday, Mauro and his family cooked us a deluxe steak asado (BBQ), with chicken, and ribs, and.....basically everything.  The highlight of the whole steak was a thing called "morsilla" (sp?) and everyone (except us) was anxiously awaiting it.  And they were excited for us to try it.  They cut it up, put it on our plates...........and when I looked at it I knew exactly what it was.  My whole mission I have heard about the infamous morsilla, but I never thought I would actually have to eat it.  And when I looked at it I wanted to cry and die on the inside.  Morsilla is cooked cow blood, stuffed/seasoned/and cooked inside the intestines (which are beforehand cut and cleaned).  I’m not even kidding, I’m not exaggerating, it’s the truth.  It might even have a good taste, but maybe it’s because I am a girl or because I think too much.........the concept was nearly impossible for me to comprehend.  When served, it’s like a dark purple/brown sausage.  You have to cut it open (there are yellowish white blobs of fat inside the blood to add to the effect) and then you scrape out the blood and eat it.  It has a texture of rice or something when it’s cooked, so it’s hard and maintains a shape (it’s not a liquid) ......and it is really spicy.  I was brave and ate it, but in my own sneaky way.  I started out by grabbing a big slice of bread, slicing it open.....and loading it up with mustard and chimichurri sauce.  Then I put other pieces of meat from the asado that were served, inside the bread....making a sandwich type thing (lots of people eat asado that way here) and I took a tiny little scoop of morsilla and added it to the sandwich, because everyone was watching us and excited for us to try it.  So, yes I ate it.....but once I had put my tiny little scoop into my sandwich.......when no one was watching me, I folded the thing back shut, and put it onto the reject plate with the rest of the bones and morsilla skins.  It took me 3 days to get over it and stop thinking and nearly gagging about what I had eaten.  I’m over it now, but in the moment and the few days that followed it......it was sort of a trial.  

The rest of the week went swimmingly.  We had exchanges with the sister training leaders this week, which means one of them comes to our area, and one us goes to theirs.  I was assigned to go to their area, and one of them came to stay with Hermana Gonzalez.  Before leaving, I felt very strongly that my companion needed to have $100 pesos ($15) just in case of some emergency.  Turns out in the middle of the night on Wednesday, the other sister got really really sick, and they needed to buy some antibiotics.  A member went and purchased them.....and she got better in no time.  She couldn’t travel in colectivo (bus) on Thursday, so I stayed an extra day in the other area.....and then on Friday we switched to everything back as normal.  But it was a miracle that they had the money they needed to buy the pills.  A small tender mercy, because if she hadn’t gotten better.....who knows what could have happened.  I could have been in the other area for several days, and I did not want that.  I was grateful that everything was okay and we could switch back.  I love love love my companion, she is so awesome.  And being with a different companion for 2 days was bizarre; it felt good to go back to normal!

The rest of the week was normal.  A member gave us a potato sack full of apples and oranges, and we have been loving them.  And tomorrow is the last district meeting of the transfer, and so as a district we are going to eat lunch together.  And I have been asked to cook something from the U.S.....and literally nothing has come to mind (because I am only going to do something easy) other than sloppy joes.  And I think I am going to do it.  Super super duper American, no one else here has tried them, and it’s easy (and I know how to do it, no recipe necessary!).  It should be a fun week.  This could possibly be my last week in Beltran because I have 6 months here......but we will see.  I won’t be writing until next Tuesday.  I am excited for General Conference this week!  It’s going to be great and we are going to learn lots and lots.  :)  Praying that there are no storms that block the signal this time.  

I hope you all have a good week!  I love you more than the number of power poles and satellite signals that will be used around the world to broadcast conference!

Hermana Withers    

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Sept 18, Chilean Independence Day and Joy in Progress of a New Member

Sept 22, 2014

Dear Friends,
Well the weather here in Chile is starting to be less chilly.  I can’t decide whether I´d rather have the hot weather or the cold weather, but either way the hot weather seems to be coming. This past week our entire street was covered with flags.  The houses are built really close together, actually they share walls, and almost everyone had at least one flag. This past week we had the 18th of September, and I ate like there was no tomorrow.  I had large sandwiches loaded with ham, pastries covered in icing, more sausage links than I can remember, and salad, and pop, and deep fried sugary pastries, lots and lots of empanadas, and steak.  On Thursday, the 18th for lunch, a member family did a large barbecue, and it all tasted great, but the steak was a little red. They commented that it was a bit rare, but I thought all is well, just eat it.  I later had a mild case of sickness, but Elder Richardson in our house, who is by the way probably one of the best friends I have in this mission, gave me some tums, and then I was fine.  Yesterday, we had an even bigger asado (Spanish for barbecue) and the meat was definitely redder.  I am going to change my definition of red meat after yesterday´s lunch.   My slice of steak was redder than most of the other steaks, and throughout lunch I was praying in my heart that I wouldn’t get sick.  It tasted good though, and I washed it down with lots of belly washer, coca cola.  I took a couple of tums after lunch, and I don’t see any signs of sickness.  I will try to be more careful about eating steak. 

By the way, I find it fascinating the way people barbecue down here.  The grills are very simple but work great.  They have a large half barrel, with bars of iron above it.   The barrel they fill with charcoal.  The bars can be lowered and raised. A contraption así (like this) can cook a lot of stuff pretty fast, and a new one goes for less than a hundred dollars.  They cleaned the grill before putting the meat on it by spreading an onion on the bars as the flames burned the fat off the grill.  They used a piece of plastic as a fan to feed oxygen to the coals, but the member said a hair dryer works better, it just wasn’t available.  I didn’t bring my camera to lunch, but I will get you some pictures sent.  It was the biggest and most delicious barbecue I have had in the mission field so far.  
Thanks for the prayers and fasts on behalf of my companion.  He is doing a lot better, and I think he is on his way out of a really low point.  Thanks a million.

I really can’t believe how fast time is flying by.  It really is amazing.  I am past the halfway point on my mission,  

I love you all more than the number of postage stamps it would take to send a package to the moon.
Elder Withers

Dear Family,
I am so glad all is well.  That life keeps on keeping on and that you are are healthy and happy :)  
This week........was awesome!  There isn’t really order to the highlights of the week, so I will just start from what comes to mind first.  

Coolest thing was Mauro received the Priesthood yesterday.  The branch is doing a most excellent job in incorporating him into the congregation and giving him responsibilities and making him feel welcome and important, and also strengthening his testimony.  He was asked to share his testimony yesterday....and it was so good!  He is so honest and good, but also so humble.  And afterwards he received the Priesthood, the office of a priest, and the branch president committed him to come next week to bless the sacrament.  He is pretty excited.  (And we are too!)  Also another recent convert we have here, Gustavo is progressing and is steadily coming to church and paying his tithing!  

There are 4-5 ice cream men here in Beltran, and they seem to be out in the streets twice as much as us.  They each have a bicycle they peddle (some use a motorcycle) and a big cooler strapped to the front, and they each play the same annoying song from a speaker.  Some annoying tune from Beethoven, blaring as loud as possible.  It’s the equivalent of March, almost April here......and the ice cream men are already relentless!  The bonus to this whole situation is that they are teaching me patience :)

We made empanadas for the first time ever, and........I am going to keep practicing.  They are harder than I realized!  They tasted yummy, they just came out looking like funny little bricks.  But I will master them.  Making them look cute is the hard part.

Remember last week when I told you about a rat situation we were having in the chapel?  Well it’s all fixed!  The branch president called the exterminator, they are in the process of deep cleaning it, and then we are good to go!  It looks really good now.  It needed to be deep cleaned anyway.  

Our branch mission leader has a little kiosk in the front of his house, where he sells things.  And one day he received a super rare $2 peso coin from somebody, and wanted to give it to me.  So he gave it to me, but I felt bad that he only had one and didn’t have one for Hermana Gonzalez too.  A few days later we went to the fruteria to buy our fruit for the week, and the change they handed my companion.....was another one of these super rare $2 peso coins!  We couldn’t believe it!  It is officially a lucky coin.  We are both going to keep them.  

We also went to a nearby area as a zone to all get together and help the Elders in that area with lessons and contacts.  It was awesome :)  There area was huge and a little sketchy.....but I went with the new Hermana from the U.S, and it was fun to work together. We are the only American sisters in our zone, and she only has 3 weeks here in Argentina.  And working with her for a few hours put me on a trippy walk down memory lane, remembering culture shock and all of my first impressions about Argentina and the people.  Getting used to this place is hard, I won’t lie.  But I LOVE IT NOW.  Working with her was good for me to learn how much I have experienced and progressed here.  I have learned lots of incredible things. 

The time goes by quick, and the beginning is especially difficult......but if you put a smile on your face and keep going, it all works out.  I am so grateful for my mission.  It has been the blessing of my life.  And there are days that are hard, or when things don’t turn out.....like all things in life.....but if you have a good attitude, and decide to make a positive situation out of a hardship.......it always turns out.  We weren’t sent to this earth to suffer, but instead to learn.  And learning sometimes comes the hard way.  But my companion always shares with people....."Living the gospel can be hard at times, but it is much more difficult to not do so" and how right she is!  Living the gospel is worth it.  We were sent here to learn, and as members of the church we are commanded to help others and to help them live the gospel too.  It’s worth it. 

I hope you know how much I love you all.  Sometimes people ask me if I will stay in Argentina forever.....and I always so no.  Not because I don’t like it here, but because you are my family and you are all my favorites, and we need to be where our families are.

I love you more than the number of flowers that are starting to bloom in the southern hemisphere!
Hermana Withers

Monday, September 22, 2014

Missionary pictures

Cooking chorizos for zone activity
Rebecca and her companion who just arrived from the MTC and President & Sister Guiliani

Beautiful winter day in Chile

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Chilean Independence Day, Love Working in the Rain

September 15, 2014

Dear Family,
It is good to hear that you are all safe and sound, and doing well.  It sounds like the weather is pretty nice with sunny days and cool evenings.  I have been in some pretty great weather too lately.  In fact, for P-day today we had a zone activity of kite flying, the only downer is that there was zero to no wind, so we got good exercise running.  I bought a cheap kite of the Chilean flag, for less than 2 dollars at Wal-Mart.  Also, I bought a large Chilean flag, a little longer than 6 feet, also at Wal-Mart.  I want to be ready for the 18th of September, the Chilean Independence Day.  The Chileans go crazy for this holiday; in fact, we have been informed that if we don’t have a flag in our window, the police will give us a small fine.  

Well, I don’t like to want to start off on a negative note, but, I think it is important that you all know.  My companion really wants to go home early.  He has only 8 months in the mission field, but he just doesn’t feel like he can keep doing it.  He has health issues, both physical and psychological.  He says that the majority of his thoughts are about home.  He says that he has gotten tired of always doing the same thing every day, and he hasn’t seen hardly any fruits of his labors. Yesterday, I tried to let him know that he was important, that people here in Chile need him.  I read some scriptures about the atonement with him, and asked him if he believed in these things.  I tried sharing all I could to help him realize that God knows and loves him and wants to help him.  I told him that there are 3 weeks left of this transfer, and that if he would work with all his heart, might, mind, and strength, and that if he didn’t see blessings after doing all that, then it is because his eyes are shut.  I hope he can change his attitude and stay.  If he refuses to change his attitude about the missionary work, it might be best that he go home.

I want you all to know that God loves us, that he is aware of who we are, of our strengths and our weaknesses, and that he can help us in whatever circumstance we find ourselves, if we simply humble ourselves and allow him to help us.  Missionary work is really miraculous.  He helps us as we help his children receive the gospel.  That is cool!  I want you all to know that God is watching out for you, that he has angels to protect you, and that his son, Jesus Christ, is our Savior.  I love Him.  I love the mission.  I love being a part of the Lord`s missionary force.  I love being a member of the church that Christ established, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  I want you all to know that I really mean it.  I love to be a member of this church.  Remember who you all are, you are sons and daughters of the most high God.  All of us on this earth are brothers and sisters.  Let’s all work together to return home to the presence of our Father in Heaven.  He will help us.  I humbly share these things in the sacred name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.      

I hope you all have a great new week.  I love you all more than the number of needles you would need in order to weld them together to make a train track from the Southernmost tip of South America to the northernmost tip of North America.  

-Elder Chad Carl Withers

Dear Family,
This was a pretty typical week for us here in Beltran.  We learned that our chapel has a semi serious problem with mice and rats.  The leaders have been informed, but the seminary teacher and kids are so spooked that they have started going to the house of the seminary teacher.  I haven’t personally seen one (yet.....) but they are working to get rid of them.  Which is good, because they are kind of dangerous for sanitary reasons.  

Yesterday we found ourselves in a torrential downpour.  Even though it was raining outside......several people went to church, and we had the gospel principles with more people than Sunday school!  I love it when that happens!  But when we had to go out and work in the afternoon, it was still raining pretty hard.  We bundled ourselves up with raincoats, boots, and umbrellas......and walked in the streets that had flooded.  It was like walking in a little creek all afternoon.  And the mud was awesome :)  It has been ages since it has rained so hard though so it was kind of fun to be in the rain again :)  In the evening the power went out though, so we went right back to our house as soon as possible because it’s dangerous to be outside.  And we made it back in time before the wind and lightning started which was a blessing.  

While we were walking back (and it was almost dark) we were trying to avoid the puddles and make it home quick.  And because it was dark, I couldn’t see the ground very well.  Anyway, a big ugly frog jumped my foot, and although I couldn’t see the frog, I saw the shininess from its eyes and knew exactly what it was.  When I realized it had leaped my boot I honestly went into an adrenaline rush and without realizing it started to scream like a little girl.  I hate frogs.  They seriously spook me more than spiders and cockroaches.  The rainy season is good for lots of things, but one of the downsides is that frogs start to come out of everywhere.  

We spent the week contacting and knocking doors and teaching and planning and smiling and walking and all the other things a missionary does :)  It really was a good week and the time is going by fast.  I realized that I will only be writing you 14 more times after this.  After that I will be in the home.  Hello reality check.  Time flies.  

I hope you have a great week!  I love you more than all the kids who wake up to go to school each Monday around the world!

Hermana Withers

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Love knocking on doors, Wishing to see mission area in 15 years

September 8, 2014

Saludos de (greetings from) Chile,

This week was another great week.  We have been really liking the new house, it now has heated water (those 3 days of cold water were, well, um, 3 days of really cold showers).  We just need to put a shower curtain up and we will be golden.  I have been eating well, a little too well.  There is a french fry stand really close to the house, and they are cheap, and I think we will stop going there on a near daily basis.  Also, I eat either buttered toast or jammed toast for breakfast and dinner, so I will be looking for a way to eat less bread.  I have been doing a lot better about getting my exercise in, and I usually do 50 pushups every morning.  When it gets warmer and less rainy we might go out for runs in the morning.  

One of my favorite things to do is to knock doors.  I have discovered that I really like it.  Last week started out looking not so peachy, but yesterday when we were knocking doors we entered 3 homes.  We had a young man accompanying us, and as we were waiting for someone to come to the door that we were knocking, he said that in all his many times of going out to work with the missionaries over a period of several years, he said that he had never entered a single home while knocking doors.  I thought that odd, and then at that same house, an older man with bad hearing came to the door.  He said he couldn’t hear us well, so he went back in and told his wife to talk with us.  She came out, and we told her that we’d like to offer a prayer in their home and leave them with something to read.  She let us in, we talked about their family, that God loves them, and left them with a pamphlet of the Restoration, telling them to read and pray about it.  We are going back to that older couple on Saturday.  I thought it was funny that we got into a house just as he said that he had never before gotten into a house by knocking doors.  

This past week, the mission President called me asking me to talk with an Elder in our house who was having problems with obedience and working hard.  He asked me to find out why he doesn’t want to be a missionary and to help him get his focus again.  As I talked with the Elder I really felt the spirit.  We used Preach My Gospel chapter 8, in the back where it asks really heart searching questions and he then set goals and plans to improve.  He said that what holds him back is that he doesn’t believe he is capable of doing the work, and a fear of failure, coming from times when he and his companions had taught someone, and then return for a second visit and the investigators don’t receive them for a second time.  He said because of such experiences he doubts his teaching ability, and if he has the spirit.  I told him that those are lies from Satan, that if you are worthy to enter a temple you are worthy to serve a mission and that if you are living the gospel it is impossible to not have the spirit.  At the end I tried to make him happy, laugh a little, and I really think he has a different attitude now (he woke up on time even though it is P day).  I told him that as a missionary you are a ship captain on a wide open sea.  In this big ocean there are lots of people drowning, and this ship that we are taking everywhere, which is the gospel of Jesus Christ, is the only thing that can save them.  We can extend a hand, and lift people into the ship, but they have to take our hand.  If they want to drown, that is their choice.  I felt really blessed to have had the opportunity to talk one on one with him, and help a struggling missionary.  I think he can be a great missionary, and he still has a year and half of his mission to work hard.

Well, I know this letter went into a lot of detail about what may or may not be interesting to read but they really were highlights of my week.  I am so grateful to be a full time missionary.  I love my calling.  I wish you all a great week, may you have success in whatever it is that you put your minds to.

I love you all more than the number of wood chips it would take to make 3 bonfires big enough to have a 2 way smoke signal communication system between Argentina, Chile, and Idaho.

Have a great week!
-Elder Withers 

Dear Family,
This was a great week for us here in Beltran.  Lots of teaching opportunities and lots of contacting.......all work continues on as usual.  I have met literally hundreds of people on my mission, and I have several hundreds more to go....and I wish I could have a way of bunching them all together in 10-15 years to see where they are or how they have changed or if they have finally made it to the church.  It would be cool to see, and I am sure that there would be lots of incredible and miraculous stories.  Wishful thinking, but it would be amazing.  Every person has a story, and as missionaries we usually only get to see bits and pieces of each story, we never get to find out how it all ended!  It’s okay though, I still like being a missionary. :)  

This week we had a general authority come, and.........it was Elder Zeballos from Chile.  And when he said where he was from, it made me remember that Chad is serving in a big ward where a General Authority is from,  and I didn’t get a chance to talk to him afterward because everyone swarmed him and I didn’t want to contribute to the issue....and then he left.  Darn.  It was an incredible conference, and I took lots and lots of notes.  His wife shared a cool object lesson.  When looking at the outside of an apple, it’s impossible to know, or even guess how many seeds are on the inside.  But if you cut the apple in half, you can count each seed......but still, there is even more to the apple still undiscovered.  Because it’s impossible to know how many apples will come from each new seed.....in other words, each person is an apple, but we will never know how many seeds will come from their descendents and the forthcoming generations.  One apple leads to hundreds and thousands and eventually millions.  Cool to think about. 

This has absolutely nothing to do with anything, but the other day I learned that you have to be Catholic to be President of Argentina, so that’s tragic and borderline communism, but interesting to know.  You can just log it into the part of your brain where all the useless information goes, ha that’s what I did too :)

I really in all honesty don’t know what to write about, I feel like I have written all there is to share about Argentina and have told all my stories.......more than anything I am in the stage of my mission where I am able to enjoy it.  I’m not in culture shock, I know my way around and how to not get lost in new places,  the language isn’t so much of a problem anymore (although I am still learning) I am healthy, and happy, know who I am, and have an understanding of the gospel.  I am part of an eternal family, I have amazing parents and out of this world awesome siblings, I was born in a free country, I have opportunities to study and get an education, and really my life is just so so blessed.  I feel so grateful.

We live in an incredible generation, the last dispensation.....this is it.  Christ is coming after this one, and if we are obedient we have all we need to be ready.  It’s exciting!

I hope you know how much I love you!  I will love you a long time, to the moon and back.  
Hermana Withers

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

New apartment confusion, and a Baptism in Argentina!

September 2, 2014

Dear Family,
It sounds like you have started the new school year started out well.  

This week was a little bit crazy.  We changed houses.  The last landlady was really hard, and just unworkable.  She ended up keeping the fridge the mission bought. We are now living in a house twice the size of the last one, for the same price.  It is great.  I think it is funny that Becca and I were both moving in this week.  We also had a key situation, and waited about an hour with all the mattresses and stuff piled up, waiting for the new landlady to bring the keys.  There are so many coincidences.

I am trying to write letters to people from previous wards today, and to tell new members to go to the temple, sending them small temple photos, and so by using the mission’s member list program to get their addresses, I really don’t have much time to write.  But, I want to say that I am learning a lot every day, that my new companion is a hard worker, and that I am really looking forward to a new week.

I really do read and process every email you all write, and am grateful for your prayers.  

I love you all more than the number of chocolate chips it would take to make 3 chocolate chip cookies for every person in the world.
-Elder Withers

Dear Family,
It is so good to hear from all of you!!!!  This was a most excellent week here in Beltran.  Mostly because life keeps on keeping on, and Mauro was baptized and confirmed a member!  It was such a cool day, and he is so good.  The baptism really went perfectly.  We started 1/2 an hour late because no one arrives on time to church activities here, but it really was a very beautiful service.  We showed the restoration video while we were waiting for them to change and come back....and that movie brings the spirit so powerfully every time.  Lots of non members went (Mauro’s parents and a few other relatives) and several other less actives.  A total success and we are excited for him.  He has started to come to church in a white shirt and tie, with black dress slacks and shoes.  And he is now preparing to receive the priesthood, and his other goals he says are, "my patriarchal blessing and the temple" and he will get there.  He loves to read and that is a huge point in his favor.  

This week we had weather from freezing cold wind, to hot humidity and it’s awesome to think that winter is coming to an end.  I can’t believe that we are already starting September!  
Good news is that Roberto and Teresa were finally able to fix an appointment with the civil register for their wedding.......so that’s awesome!  And on Sunday we had 57 people who went to church.......yes!  We almost didn’t fit in the sacrament room.

And my companion had her birthday!  Today we are going to make brownies and serve them with strawberries to celebrate :)  And really there is not too much new to report or write.  We are still in an intensive search looking for new investigators, but we will find them.  We have several good places to look, and a few of them look very very promising :)

I am grateful to have you all as part of my family and I hope you know I love you more than all the starfishes in the ocean!
Hermana Withers