Tuesday, December 16, 2014

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 week......in 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 on.........it’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 blast.........like 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 conditioning.........it’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

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