Monday, December 29, 2014

Bike wreck in Chile, Last of the Last Letters from Argentina

Mother’s Note:  Chad had a wreck on his bike and flipped in the air landing on his head and also hurting his hip.  He told us on Christmas that his companion did the sideline High School sport concussion test and declared that he didn’t have a concussion.  I am grateful for all the angels who watch over missionaries.  We had a good talk on Christmas with both Rebecca and Chad, and we are excited for her return home on Wednesday afternoon Dec. 31.

Dear Family,
Well, Merry Christmas to all of you, and a Happy New Year!!  This week has been good.  Camilla and Aaron were all set to be baptized, but Aaron was a bit forgetful and drank coffee the morning of his interview.  They are still excited to be baptized and will do it this Saturday.

This town is normally pretty calm and peaceful, but our bikes were stolen on Saturday.  I will be looking for a used bike today, (the uglier the better - protection against theft).  

I haven’t written very much, but we will talk on Christmas, I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas.

I have been healing rapidly from the bike wreck.  My hip that hurt for a day was a very manageable pain, and now it is perfectly fine, just a good bruise.  I haven’t had any of the head injury symptoms you mentioned in your email.  

We have cambios and I am staying here and my companion is going to Concepcion.  My new companion will be Elder Durrant. 

Love you all more than the number of Christmas trees it would take to cover the Sahara desert so it looks green from Space.
Elder Withers

Dear Family,
I know we are going to be able to talk tomorrow, but I just wanted to send a little note anyway.  I hope you all know how much I love you and how grateful I am to be a missionary.  Lots of changes are on the way for me, and I am excited to take them on but also anxious.    

I have learned more than words could truthfully or accurately explain, I have worked for a testimony....and I know for sure that this Church is the only one with the truth.  I have learned what it is like to go hungry or thirsty because there isn’t anything to eat, or no clean water to drink......what it’s like to get soaking wet in a rain storm or to roast in intense and humid heat.  I have seen a person rough around the edges or closed to the gospel experience a change of heart.  I have seen the restoration video at least a hundred times......and the part when Joseph Smith wakes up early to go to the Sacred Grove still gives me goose bumps.  I know what it is like to learn a new language, or try whacky weird foods all in the name of showing love to the person who cooked it.  I have been one of 10 people at church each week, and I have defended my testimony and what I know is the truth.  I have worked hard to be obedient every day of my mission.....and even though I am light years away from being perfect, I am grateful for my mission experiences which have helped me become a little more like Christ.  

I know that missions exist so that we can help others come unto the truth, but Heavenly Father is incredibly efficient, because as he sends missionaries around the world, as they lose themselves in service.....they too become more converted, just like the new converts.  I am grateful that He let me help for little bit in his vineyard, in this corner of the world.  I didn’t do it perfectly, but He let me help anyway and I am so grateful.

I love you more than the number of people getting ready to travel for the holidays!
Hermana Withers

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Teaching the Mission President the Atonement, Blessings of Obedience

December 15, 2014

Dear Family,
This week has been a pretty normal week, with nothing too much happening.  We are really working hard so that Camilla and Aaron will be baptized this Thursday.  Their interview is tomorrow, and tonight we are going to go over tithing, even though they have already accepted it.  If you could pray for them, that nothing happens that stops them from being baptized this week, it would mean a lot.  They are that young couple I wrote about several weeks ago.  They have two young daughters, and are a really nice family.  We went to their house Sunday morning to make them breakfast, and then went to church together, it was fun.  We were going to make hole-in-ones, but we messed up and ended up making scrambled eggs and toast, but their toaster was being troublesome, so we put butter on both sides of the toast and put it in a pot and put the pot on the stove, and it seemed to work out all right.  

This week we had interviews with the president, and it was great.  President decided to have us teach about the atonement for 5 minutes to him as if he were an investigator, and that was pretty much the interview.  He told the mission with several weeks notice to study the atonement, and then on the interview teach him in a simple manner as if he wasn’t a member.  I am sure it must have been a great couple of weeks for President.  Also his wife, as with almost every interview gave us cookies, this time large home-made Oreos.  Yea!

Well, I am happy and healthy and looking forward to another week in Chile.  I love you all so much, more than the number of watts of electricity needed to power all the Christmas lights in the world for 1 second.
 -Elder Withers

Dear Family,
This week was pretty normal for me...... we keep on teaching, talking to everyone about Christmas and “He is the Gift” we work a lot with the members, even though there are so few..... We eat lots of otter pops, and have strong testimonies of the gospel.  This week we had several people ask us for help in terms of service projects which was kind of cool, because hardly anyone lets us help them.....but we helped a less active lady who just had eye surgery go to the grocery store and buy groceries, another less active lady clean up the weeds in her front yard, and another  lady move some furniture around in her house....... all three projects were to help old ladies, and it was worthwhile.

Galvez has been a fun place to be for the Christmas season, because they actually decorate here.  There are several houses with Christmas lights, nearly everyone has a Christmas tree put up inside, with several people who have an extra outside, and all the stores are very awesomely decorated.  It’s pretty amazing.  

I really don’t know what else to write from this week.  I keep on keeping on, although I must admit....finishing a mission is not for the faint of heart.  It has been hard.  Everyone reminds me about it......but I am finishing strong.  I sometimes feel like I am in a weird emotional and spiritual and physical limbo, between finishing one stage of life and beginning another.....but I am doing well.  I am learning lots about enduring to the end, and noticing the little blessings that I receive each day.  
I am excited for Christmas and the chance to talk to all of you.  These next two weeks we have are super fast paced with lots of meetings, paperwork in Rosario, and of course......CHRISTMAS.  I am excited and I hope you all know how much I love you.  I really am doing well and being 100% obedient....because it’s the only protection we have, blessings from obedience.

I love you all more than the number of Christmas traditions that families have all around the world.
Hermana Withers

Miracles in Chile and Argentina this week!

December 7, 2014

Dear Family,
Well, this last week was really quite exciting.  It was really hot.  But, I greatly enjoyed being able to teach Patricio, as well as interview other baptismal candidates.  It is honestly one of the most rewarding things in the mission, interviewing people for baptism.  I was really tired all week because of waking up early to finish teaching Patricio, but it was all worth it.  He was baptized, as well as the family the other elders were teaching.  One of the people I interviewed, Carlos, asked me to baptize him.  It was neat that all 4 elders were able to baptize.  

There was a real miracle this week.  The day of the baptismal service, Patricio was working on a roof, and some old wood gave in, he lost his footing, and fell about 10 feet from the roof, landing really bad on the concrete ground, hurting his head a little bit, but his head landed on something soft, but then a large heavy piece of roofing material fell from the roof and landed on his head.  He was unconscious for a little bit, but soon he was able to ride his bike, with great pain, to the car of the Kauers a missionary couple (from Rexburg) who were passing through Parral to drop stuff off, and they took us and him and his bike to the church for the baptism.  He was obviously hurting really bad, and Hermana Kauer gave him a couple of extra strength Tylenol pills.  The baptism went well, and Patricio commented that he felt great, pain free, the baptism took not only his sins away, but also took away his physical pain.  The Atonement of our Savior is an infinite sacrifice, he suffered for not only our sins but also our heartaches, disappointments, embarrassments, and pains of all kinds, spiritual and physical.  The next morning he was still doing great, without pain.  It is a miracle.

I love my mission, and I have a testimony that God lives and loves us. I am out of time now, I love you all, and have a lot more to say, but will send more next week.
I love you more than the number of drops of water in the Pacific ocean.
Elder Withers

Dear Famliy,
I am sitting at sort of an old and ancient dinosaur of a computer, and the exclamation point button doesn’t work, so all of them are going to be upside down today¡
This was a pretty good week.  We keep moving forward with the Christmas plan the church is doing, and it’s been cool, because people are a little bit nicer, and much more receptive to us.  There is something about the Christmas spirit that softens hearts and makes everyone a little bit kinder.  The church has suffered major blows here in Galvez for what disobedient missionaries messed up....... the name of the Christ wasn’t always appropriately represented like it should have been or deserved to be here, and it’s been taking a ton of work to clean it all up....because in small towns, gossip flies at record speeds.   That’s why we are trying to take full advantage of the Christmas spirit while it lasts, because we are making huge advances here with people and a few neighborhoods that have been tricky for us to get to....and its cool to see the miracles and progress¡  The work has never been easy, but it is always’s always possible to see miracles, and witness change and progress......sometimes the moment we wish to see the miracle or progress isn’t always on the same schedule as the Lords.......but they always come. 

We taught Eduardo again, and we taught him the Word of Wisdom.  I admit I was a little nervous as to what he was going to say about all of it....but we said a prayer before going in, and it was a miracle.  We explained that we don’t drink alcohol....and he responded, ´´Oh....I always drink wine with my dinner, but I can just start drinking more juice that’s okay, what else do I need to know?´´  Then we went to coffee and tea, and he said, ´´Well....I don’t know about those two, I really like coffee in the morning to wake me up, but you know what.....I could start drinking more mate¨......what else?´´ And we said, ´´Well....we don’t consume illegal drugs and he said, ´´great no problem there´´ and we also don’t consume tobacco......and when we got to tobacco he went ballistic, saying that he had changed his mind about getting baptized, that smoking isn’t that bad for you, that he needs cigarettes to calm himself down and so on.......the man who before was telling us he was willing to start drinking more juice and mate changed completely, and my heart sunk to the very depths.....we didn’t know what to do.  We calmed him back down...good thing his wife was sitting there with us the whole time, I said like a dozen more prayers in my head......and we started to talk about smoking, and why Heavenly Father asks us not to do it.  It took about thirty minutes of extra explaining and divine intervention from Heaven putting the words in our mouths, but by the end he said.......”It’s true you are right, I have always needed to stop smoking, but I have never really tried.....because truthfully I like smoking.”  He said, ´´God has told me I need to be baptized, so I better stop smoking to make it´´   What a miracle¡

I really don’t know how it happened or how he changed again, but he is truly progressing and changing.  His wife told us later as we were heading out of the house, that for the first time in their thirty years of marriage he said he would stop smoking, before he would fight back or say no, or completely avoid the subject.  Truly amazing.  

On Sunday morning we also went to pick-up a less active family.  The dad always goes, but the mom and kids never do.  We have been working with them since we got here, and when we showed up at their house on Sunday morning to walk to church....we found a family, with the dad and deacon aged son in white shirt and black slacks, the mom in a skirt and her other two boys with combed hair and neatly cleaned clothes.....ready at 8:15 to walk.....they live super far from the chapel and are very very poor, but seeing them make a sacrifice to sharpen up and go to church on Sunday was like Christmas early, they will be eternally blessed for all earthly sacrifices they make to be obedient, no matter how large or small.  

We are just trying to keep up with everything....we are always looking for new investigators, we still clean the chapel each week......may the members who do that each week in their wards or branches be blessed¡.......we keep meeting more and more less actives, and I am truly just so happy.  Happy to be a missionary, and happy to be a member.  

Galvez has done an impressive job with Christmas La Paz last year they didn’t have anything until Christmas Eve, and what they pulled out was kind of pathetic.  This year all stores have nice big trees, lights, music, Santa things and so on....I love it¡  I truly love Christmas.  
Thanks for all your wonderful letters.  In response to questions about Christmas plans. 

Galvez is sort of an interesting situation, in that not a single member here has a computer with internet.   Some have phones with internet, and others have computers but no internet......and we also don’t have anyone to spend Christmas with because the rule from President is that Christmas Eve has to be spent with an active member family, no part member families or less active families allowed.... no non-members may be present for reasons of safety and so avoid people drinking and swearing and stuff, and so in Galvez we find ourselves in a bind, because a perfect and wonderful family like that doesn’t exist yet, but our wonderful branch president yesterday invited us to spend Christmas with him and his family.  And they are out of this world wonderful, the only thing is that they live two hours away in Santa Fe, but we asked our Mission President for permission pleading our case....and it has been granted.  Our Branch President has offered to come and pick us up, spend Christmas Eve with his family, then we will spend the night with sister missionaries who live there, the next day use his computers to call home, and then return to the apartment of the sisters in Santa Fe....for security reasons.  Remember how the police went on some sort of lame strike last year?  Well they are expecting it again, and this year worse.  So Christmas is to be strictly spent in the apartment, and on Friday we will return to Galvez.  Those are our Christmas plans......wonderful right?¡  We have to skype home as soon as possible after studies, all for the same security reasons.....which would be around 10-11am for me.  I hope that works for everyone.  Another bonus is that he has 2 computers.  

I love you all more than the number of people looking forward to Christmas around the world¡

Hermana Withers

Finished Reading the Book of Mormon, Planning a Baptism in Argentina

Dec. 1, 2014

Dear Family,
Well, Happy Thanksgiving!  It seems that you guys had a great week.  It was good to hear that the relatives are doing well, and that you had a good visit.  

The branch of Parral is growing, and it is exciting to be here, where so many members are all about missionary work.  Now that summer break has started we have lots of young men to accompany us to appointments.  Juan Pablo, the young man I mentioned last week was baptized.  My companion baptized him on Saturday, and I conferred the Holy Ghost on him on Sunday.  He is a good young man and hopefully he will be able to go on the young men’s temple trip at the end of December.  There is a man here named Patricio, who was battling alcoholism, and had been doing really well, but the week before his baptism date, he gave into temptation and drank a lot.  The missionaries weren’t able to find him for almost a month because he works nonstop every day, but last Tuesday we found him again, and he had shivers because of battling alcoholism.  I asked my companion if he had ever received a priesthood blessing to stop drinking, and he hadn’t, so we gave him a blessing.  He is doing better, and hasn’t drank since.  We set a new baptism date, for this Saturday, the 6th of December, and he accepted it.  He is a very good man who has honest desires to stop drinking and be baptized.  We will be passing by every day this week, starting tomorrow to finish teaching him, in the mornings at 6 AM, because he has to leave early for work.  I hope he can be baptized, and if he gets baptized this Saturday, the branch will have 5 baptisms this weekend, because the other elders are going to baptize a grandma and three grandchildren.  If you could pray for Patricio that he will be strong against the temptation to drink it will be a big help.

I must make note that I have acquired by trade, a pocket size Book of Mormon in English.  There is a really good Dockers belt that I brought with me to the mission, and I never wear it because I have another belt.  My comp likes the belt a lot, and so I traded it for his mini scriptures, I got out of the deal a pocket size Book of Mormon, and a pocket size New Testament, they are both red.  I will figure out something to trade to get his pocket size Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price double combination.    Interesting to note, Elder Barrios family is moving, permanently to Utah on the 8th of January.  He will study at BYU after the mission.  

About Valerie´s Mongolia economics project, I remember the economic summit in High School, and my country was Chile, and then I got the mission call to Chile.  Just saying....

Today while out fishing, I finished reading the Book of Mormon, for the second time in my life.  I was using my new red book, and yes it fits in a shirt pocket.  It has been a great experience to study the Book of Mormon, and feel of its power.  It is a convincing testament that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the world, that Joseph Smith is the prophet of the Restoration of the Gospel and the Church of Jesus Christ, and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the Lord´s kingdom here on the earth.  I know it is a true book.  I have felt the Holy Ghost confirm of its truthfulness to me, and I felt the spirit as I read it this morning by the river.

I love you all more than the number of snowflakes it would take to have a snow day in every major city in the U.S.

Elder Withers

Dear Family,
I love you lots!  I am so glad that you had a great week with Thanksgiving.  Keep the traditions going.......they are awesome. I can’t believe we are already in December, time flies by fast, and if you don’t take advantage of opportunities they slip away.  

This week.......was pretty good.  Sometimes the days are long because it’s hot outside, but there is always a miracle, and we always meet someone awesome.  The miracle from this week, was putting a man named Eduardo on date for baptism.  He is the husband of our newly called relief society president, and he has been a missionary "project" for over 30 years.  He has always said no to the church, no to listening to the missionaries, no to going to church, and lots and lots of missionaries have worked with him.

Our very first Sunday here we didn’t know anybody, and he showed up.  We thought he was one of the other members, but we quickly learned that it was his first time going in years.  His wife was happier than a kid on Christmas, and she has loved teaching him how to read and sing the hymns (even though during every hymn I feel like I am singing a solo because no one sings very loud and everyone follows my voice, if I accidentally start too high or too’s a terribly funny disaster :), how to study the scriptures, and help teach him in the lessons and so on.  He has attended church several times since then, and is learning slowly but surely.  What has been hard is that he is truck driver and he has crazy whacky work hours, but the harvest of whatever he was hauling has finally ended and he is home much more often.  We are working with him to stop smoking, and we are excited for him to get baptized.  In reality, everyone is excited for him to get baptized.  It’s truly a miracle.  He is evidence of work from tons of other people, and Heavenly Father touched his heart right as we showed up.....but I know that none of the credit belongs to us.  We are only helping him through the steps to get to baptism, and it’s been fun to watch him change.   

I am grateful for the Christmas season, and I am sure you have all seen it by now, but the church has made an incredible video and has blasted it all over YouTube,, Facebook, twitter, and so on........and it is super well made.  It’s a month long plan, and as a missionary it is super cool to be a part of.  Each day we have 10 special Christmas pass along cards (and only we have them, not the members) to give out to people, inviting them to watch the video and visit the church website to learn more....and it’s been cool to see people soften their hearts towards the idea of Christ and religion, because of the holiday season.  I love how the Christmas spirit does that to people :)  And each week the church asks for our numbers in regard to this new plan, regarding how many people listened, accepted a second visit, referrals from members and so on so that they can keep track of the missionary impact from this’s estimated that 220 million people are going to see the video, and I am 100% sure that several of those people will be baptized.  How awesome.  Whatever monetary cost the church had to pay to produce and make it all possible, will be more than worth it.  

I am grateful for all you do and for your letters each week.  I really do love you lots and lots and lots.  I feel great and energized and as ready as ever.  Invite the missionaries over for dinner or something, and ask them about the video ¨He is the Gift¨  it’s worth it, and it will be a cool experience for you all, I promise :)  I hope you know that I love you all more than the number of little Christmas lights that will dot the earth and be used to decorate trees and homes this month in celebration of Christmas!  I love everybody and you are all my favorite!  

Hermana Withers

Fishing on P-Day, Feeling Thankful

Nov. 24, 2014

Dear Family,
I am thankful.  I am thankful for a great family, for having been born into a family that has received the gospel, for my testimony, for my mission, and for transfers.  I am so happy happy happy to not be with my last companion, he is one of the most confrontational people I have ever met.  I love my new sector, my companion is a great guy, and I live with 2 other great elders, in a nice house, with bikes, in a nice little town, with good members.  I am grateful for transfers.  

Here in Parral it is pretty, with amazing panoramic views of the Andes Mountains, mountains so pretty,  jagged, and snow peaked, that they dwarf the Sawtooths in Idaho. I will take good pictures.  :)  Today we went fishing. We caught nothing, but it was still lots of fun.   I hope it is all right with you Ma and Pa, but I bought a rod and reel and some hooks and a bobber, figuring that this is a small town with little to do on p day, and I will be here at the very least a few months.  

My companion is Elder Barrios, from Guatemala.  He knows the scriptures very very well, is a smart planner, and a hard worker.  At the end of this transfer he will have 6 months in the branch, and so it is most likely that I will only have 1 transfer with him, so I will have to learn the streets quickly.  Parral is a town of 18,000 people.  It has a lot of cowboys, the people are very humble and helping.  The branch is very strong with lots of priesthood holders, yesterday there were 140 people in church, which is about average assistance (attendance) for the branch.  It is a branch because it is located in a district, if it was in a stake it would be one of the stronger wards in the mission.  We have a baptism scheduled for next Saturday, the son of a less active lady who is coming back.  His name is Juan Pablo and he is 14 years old.  There is also a young couple with 2 toddlers we are teaching who will hopefully be baptized in December.  

It is hot here, but really pretty.  I love this sector and it looks like it is going to be a favorite.  I hope to be able to learn as much as I can from my trainer Elder Barrios.  Being here is different because my companion is experienced and knows how to work, and we make decisions together.  I enjoy not having to prepare district class, but there are plenty of other small tasks and assignments to do that keep us busy.  The zone is doing great, and we are harvesting lots of and lots of fruit.  Here the missionaries are happy, the members are happier, and people in the street are much more friendly.  It is relatively easy to get into homes here in this small town.  In the branch of Parral there are 6 missionaries, 2 of them being new from the MTC.  One of the sisters in the branch that just got here from the MTC is a convert from Mexico who was baptized a year and a half ago, it is amazing how powerful the Gospel of Jesus Christ is.  

I am very happy and excited to be here.  I love you all more than the number of ducks you would need tied to a yacht to lift a yacht out of Lake Champlain in Vermont, cross the Great Plains and set it in Boulder Lake in Wyoming.

-Elder Withers

Dear Family,

This has been a terrifically splendid that I am doing well and still as excited as ever to be a missionary and share the message with the whole world.  This last week I have been thinking about Thanksgiving a lot, and what it really means to truly be grateful.  Argentina doesn’t recognize it as an official holiday.........but to be grateful doesn’t mean we need a national reminder.  We can be grateful every day, truly truly grateful for all of the many blessings we have.  And when we feel gratitude for the blessings we have, we are able to realize how blessed we truly are.  There isn’t much to report from this last week.  We taught lots of lessons to lots of incredible people, spent some time with our newly called Relief Society and Primary presidents in the branch to help them know how to fulfill their callings (they didn’t know what visiting teachers were, sharing time, and so’s all a process!) and we have also been enjoying lots of rain storms.  This last week was much cooler, but with each rain storm the temperature goes up a little bit more and more, so this week should be nice and toasty.  

Today more than anything I am just feeling very very grateful.........
I am grateful to be a missionary.  That I am worthy and have been called to wear a black badge with Christ´s name....called to take his gospel to this part of the world.  My mission has changed me forever.

I am grateful for the gift of tongues, and that I was able to learn Spanish to be able to communicate with the people here in Argentina.  I am grateful for my health and strength.

I am grateful for my family, for my beautfiul beautiful family and that if we are obedient we can be together forever.  I am grateful that I was born into an eternal family, in the USA.........a truly incredible country with so many opportunities.  (I had to come down here to Argentina to realize how incredible and blessed the United States really is.)  I am grateful for the Book of Mormon, and that it is convincing evidence to everyone that this is the only true and authorized church of God.  I am grateful for Joseph Smith, that he was brave enough to ask Heavenly Father which is the true church, and then stick to his word and testimony regarding First Vision.  He was so valiant, and I am so grateful he never gave up.  I am grateful for temples, which allow us to make covenants and grow closer to Heavenly Father.  I am grateful that I have been able to serve a mission at the same time as Chad, Thomas, and Dallin.....(and in the same mission as Thomas! It has been one of the greatest blessings of my mission!)  I am grateful that someone invented internet, email, and skype which allows me to quickly and easily communicate with you.  I am grateful for all the examples of missionaries in my family (no one believes me when I say that nearly all of my aunts and uncles, grandparents, and great grandparents have served missions.....sometimes members ask me if I am the first, and I have the sweet privilege to say that I come from a long line of excellent missionaries, and I am only carrying on the heritage)

I am grateful for the little things that make life a going on trips, ice cream cones, watching the sun set, visiting family, and traditions.  Life really is too too good.  
I am grateful that I haven’t had to wash my clothes by hand my whole life, or live each summer without air’s something only people a lot stronger than me can do.

And really I could sit here for another 3 1/2 hours writing all the things that I am grateful for.....there are so many things.  I am grateful for the holiday season, and I hope you know how much I love you!  Eat an extra piece of turkey and pumpkin pie for me :) And enjoy all that beautiful snow!

Have a great week and know that I love you more than all the people who are getting excited for Christmas down here!  It’s a great time of year!

Hermana Withers

Moving to Parral Chile, Extra-Ordinary Day Tracting

November 17, 2014

Dear Family,
The cambios (transfers) are......drum roll please.........The sector is being closed.  It was unexpected and rather shocking.  Santa Sabina B is being closed, there will now be 4 missionaries in the ward, rather than 6.  My companion will be going to Talcahuano, a nearby city, and I will be going to the countryside, the town of Parral.  It is a branch with 6 missionaries, has hot weather, and it is a bike sector.  So that should be fun.  I estimate it is about 4ish hours north of the mission office.  For 10 and a half months I have been here in the city of Concepcion, so it will be neat to go out and see what is out there.  If you can google maps ConcepciĆ³n, you can probably find out where Parral is, it is between Concepcion and Rancagua.

I apologize for the short letter.  And will write with a million more details next week.  I love you all a million times over.  The sector is being closed because only 7 sisters are coming this transfer, and 7 sisters and 7 elders are leaving, so they had to cut somewhere.  We have been obedient, I promise.

I love you all so much, more than the number of snowflakes it takes to fall on the streets of Boise to cause a snow day.

-Elder Withers

Dear Family,

Congrats on your new assignment Chad!  You will also love serving in the boonies.  I have spent the majority of my mission serving far away from everything, and it’s a good experience!  I hope you love your new area and companion.

This week was another good one for me!  There isn’t actually anything crazy or unusual that happened, so I am struggling to think of what to write.......but something will come to mind!  Transfer news is that........neither one of us is going anywhere.  Sweet! 

What actually is happening in Galvez, are lots and lots of miracles.  What Galvez has really needed is a great faithful family or somebody, or anybody, to move here.  Someone who understands the doctrine and how the church should function, and our prayers were  answered.  The other day we were outside contacting (in that beautiful but ever-intense Argentine heat!) and a nice man stopped us in the street and asked us where the chapel is.  We quickly told him, but we were also curious as to who he we asked him.  And he told us that he is a member from Santa Fe, but has been sent to Galvez for a year-long work contract.  He is about 30 years old, he doesn’t have a wife or kids....but he is a returned missionary from Bahia Blanca.  And, he said.....whenever you need a member to go visit someone, I am free every afternoon, after 5pm.  We couldn’t believe it!  It was truly a miracle.  Our prayers were answered, and another source of divine help has been sent here to Galvez, such a blessing. 

The other day I saw a family of gypsies for the first time. They were sitting on the side of the road eating a picnic lunch and drinking mate.  They all had really long skirts on, with their fingers and wrists full of jewelry, and in super high pitched voices asked us if we wanted to buy something from them.  We told them no thank you, but it was interesting to finally see one for the first time.  I don’t really know their culture or what it is they do or live like, but I do know that here in Argentina they like to have picnics under the shade of a tree and drink mate.

Good news, is that here in Galvez....otter pops are 1 peso each.  Ha...they aren’t actually otter pops, but they are a popsicle type thing and you eat it like an otter pop and it comes in all the flavors. 1 peso is like the equivalent of 10 cents.  It really is dreadfully hot outside, and when you throw in makes life even more interesting.  We are drinking what feels like gallons and gallons of water, and eating tons of fruit. 

On Tuesday there was a terrific thunder and lightning storm, it’s been a long time since I have seen so much lightning......and it was incredible.  It was kind of a scary walking home, because it was super dark outside and like every 10 seconds a huge ray of lightning would flash what felt like right in front of our eyes.  It was crazy, but we made it home for the night right before it started raining which was a tender mercy. 

I have been trying to take lots and lots and lots of pictures (actually my comp is the professional...she takes pictures of everything, and I am so grateful, I forget!) and I am saving them all on my thumb drive.  Trying to make the most of each day, look for the blessings, work hard, stay focused and obedient, and keep on keeping on.  Sometimes life feels like a long distance marathon, but I am happy.  A sweet stressful happy :)

The other day we spent part of the afternoon contacting, and it was incredible.  We felt like we were on fire........because every single person who answered the door, every single one...100%......we were able to convince them to come outside, accept a pamphlet, and we committed them to read it, and made a follow up appointment. We felt like professional saleswomen.... because we did everything to get them to be interested, to want them to peak their interest, and commit them to read and pray.  Most days aren’t like that, you do your best to introduce yourself to everyone, or offer to give them a free pamphlet or card with Jesus on it, and there is always at least some irritated person, or insanely devout Catholic....or somebody who rejects us.  But this day no.  It was an incredible feeling, I really felt like the plaque that I had on my shirt had an extra-ordinary power that day.  We ended the day with 9 return appointments to brand new people, from only 1 hour of contacting......absolute miracle! 

This last Sunday, we had branch conference, and it was so good.  We had the highest assistance (attendance) we have ever had......20!  And it was great to have several of the stake leaders (there were 7), so in reality the assistence from Galvez was only 13....but it felt great to have the chapel more full!  We had to clean the chapel (we always clean it every Saturday because we are still working on getting some member to have that assignment) but while we are all there is, we do it.   The Sunday services were excellent. The stake leaders really made quite a sacrifice to make the 2 hour drive to be there, and afterwards we had a potluck lunch.  We learned lots and it was good for the members to hear from the Stake leaders. 

Everything really is going well here in Galvez, and things get better and better each day.  I love being a missionary, and I love all of you! All that cold snow looks beautiful.  I love you more than the number of Christmas trees that are up for sale, being cut down, or getting put together in preparation for Christmas all around the world!

Hermana Withers