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




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