Monday, October 21, 2013

"The Argentina Articles" :P (Sent Oct 14, 2013)


Man, what a crazy week! I forgot my notes of all the things that I wanted to tell you, but I'll just list what I remember.

So for P-day last week, we all went to the zoo as a mission. I still don't know why. It was super random. But I had a great time! It turns out that there are plenty of yanquí missionaries, but they're all in the other zones. It's about half and half Latino and American in my zone, with a few more latinos. I sent some pictures of the zoo. They have the weirdest animals. But that has nothing to do with the work, I just thought that it was hilarious.

So I'm slowly picking up Castellano. It still sounds so strange. It's like they're mumbling and singing at the same time. The other day I was talking to a missionary from Mexico, and I could totally understand him! Oh, it felt great to actually be able to speak Spanish and understand it. So far I can only understand gringos and Mexicans, (and sometimes Chileans or Peruvians). Argentines just speak something different. They say that they can understand me, and often compliment me on my Castellano, but I still can't understand the context of the conversation, or specifics for that matter. I had an interesting experience the other day. I was praying while we were walking down the street, expressing that I was frustrated, and couldn't do anything so long as I couldn't understand the people. I got the impression that I can still do plenty of missionary work while still getting used to the language. As long as I have faith that the Spirit will compensate for my inability, and open my mouth and say whatever I'm impressed to say, the investigator will hear what they need to hear. I repented and kept working, and had that experience several times later on.

So the Latinos continue to be fascinated with all the profanity and racial slurs of English. They think it's hilarious to say them around me. (Yeah, they're missionaries.) Their logic is since it's in all of the movies and on TV that it shouldn't be bad. What?! What kind of logic is that?! I've never hated the media more. I haven't truely realized the success of Satan in the media until now. I keep trying to express how dangerous it is, but they insist that I'm being too sensitive. I still denounce poor language, but I have come to realize that I'm the only one who can be offended by it. Like I said before, I'm one of maybe 75 English speakers within miles and miles. They aren't using them with a malicious intent, and they don't even really understand the meaning. If I shouldn't be offended by the things the borrachos are yelling at me on the streets, why should I be offended by the things people say which they don't even understand themselves? Offense is always a choice.

I want to specifically mention one investigator: his name is Luis. We talked to his son Diego, who brought us to his house. He told us that he didn't know if God existed, and didn't seem very interested. Then suddenly he said "pasen", telling us to come inside. I don't know what happened, but we did. Elder Pirez was talking to him about something I couldn't understand. Then I realized that it was about politics. I was thinking "Elder! What are you doing?! That's something they explicitly tell us not to do!" Somehow it seemed to make Luis comfortable, and he was extremely receptive to the lesson on the Plan of Salvation. He, like pretty much everyone else, owns a Kiosco (a small store in the house), which we bought some things from, including some mediocre empanadas. But he was so ecstatic to have the visit, the lesson, and the sale. Those were the best mediocre empanadas that I've ever had. Haha, I love Luis. He's awesome!

Yesterday was kind of hard. Firstly, we had none of our investigators that said they were coming to Church actually come. (I don't understand Argentine schedules, but the only things that aren't flexible to them are soccer games. Everything else can wait apparently. We have to go to our appointments like 45 minutes late, and sometimes they still ask us to come back 15 minutes later.) Then later in the day, a girl asked me to seal a blessing we gave her. Of course in Spanish. I felt the Spirit so strongly of what I needed to say, and yet I couldn't find the right words. I knew that I should say the word "sanar" or to heal, but I convinced myself that it wasn't right, and said something like "recieve blessings". She didn't seem to feel the Spirit as strongly as I did, and I still feel so bad that I didn't use the gift of tounges when it was offered me. It's hard in the moment, but something I've learned as a missionary is to have 100% faith at all times. If you make a mistake, have faith that God will compensate. Just always do what the Spirit tells you to do.

The last lesson of the day on Sunday was to a girl that has been taking the lessons for a long time. She believes that everything is true, but she doesn't want to change her life right now, and so she keeps refusing baptism. Elder Pirez shared a scripture with her, testified and challenged her to be baptized: No. He did an object lesson about the Gospel of Christ and Eternal families, re-challenged: No. Another scripture, testify, challenge, rejection. Finally I decided to try. It was really hard to find the right words, but I felt the Spirit so strongly. I spoke what was in my heart, and ended powerfully. Elder Pirez for the final time challenged her to follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized by someone possessing the authority of the Priesthood of God, and... no. She didn't even hesitate. Are you kidding me? Do you realize how hard it was for me to testify? Do you even realize how important this all is? Your whole family could be together, forever enjoying the glory of the Celestial Kingdom, and you don't even want to change a few things in your life to experience the most pure and everlasting joy available to you?

Of course I'm not new to rejection. We're rejected more often than not as missionaries. But every now and then I experience it in a different way. I try to see these people as Heavenly Father sees them. I study the importance of the five parts of Gospel of Jesus Christ every day, and realize and re-realize the essential nature of each in the salvation of mankind. I try to testify powerfully, having perfect faith so that this precious son or daughter of God can come and enjoy the blessings of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. When they use their agency to instead choose the vane, carnal, and temporal pleasure of the world, it breaks my heart. I prayed in repentence once again to my Heavenly Father for my stubborness, and came to recognize how sacred Human Agency is to Him. He understands the importance of this work infinately more than I do, and yet He has made an unalterable vow to never tresspass it. Violating our agency is something that Heavenly Father will never do, but offering His love is something that He will never stop doing.

Just some of the wisdom God shared with me this week. I love you all! I hope you're still doing well! Until next week.

This is Manuel, who I baptized last week and confirmed this week. Also Elder Fuentes and Elder Marchant the other companionship in San Ignacio

Sorry, this computer is so picky about picture uploading, so I don't know if they're in the right order, or the right pictures for that matter. :P

1. Just in case there were any doubts that I'm happy. :)

2. Empanadas at the zoo. Yep! Welcome to South America.

The one with the missionaries and the monkey didn't turn out too well, but it was supposed to look like they were teaching him. :)

And of course the strangest exhibit of all, the Mormons!

Also, the last one is a picture of a safety sign. Who else would be better to demonstrate the safety steps than the SLENDERMAN!

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