Monday, February 10, 2014

I got to visit home today!

Querida Familia,

Yep, I got to visit home today! By that I mean that the whole mission went to the Buenos Aires Temple. I´ve missed the temple more than just about anything other than you guys, and in the Celestial Room, I had an incredible feeling that I was just sitting in the Living Room of my Heavenly Father with some of my brothers and sisters. I´m so grateful for the blessing that Temples provide. Even though everything was in Spanish, it felt just like home. I can´t wait to bring more people to feel that indescribable happiness and Celestial nostalgia.

Also, being together with the whole mission again was awesome. I got to see old companions, chat with the new friends that I´ve made, hear about old investigators, and talk a little bit with President and Sister Ayre. I´ve been a part of a lot of teams, organizations, and the like, but there´s nothing like being a part of a team in Missionary Work. My favorite team that I´ve been a part of in my life is de La Gran Misión Buenos Aires Norte in the Kingdom of God.

There were a few other things that made this week awesome. I got over myself and went back to work, and we´ve been reaping the benefits of it. That stud Aarón was baptized on Sunday. He already has a ton of friends in the Branch, and they were all screaming excitedly for him after the ordinance, and he was so happy he was splashing around when he came up out of the water. It was quite irreverant, and some of the older people in the branch were uncomfortable, but I couldn´t help but smile.

Are you ready for the most perfectly Hallmark, cookie-cutter missionary experience ever? Here you go: so my companion and I were going to visit a street contact, and ¨congregated Isreal¨ as we call it, by calling all of the family together to share in the lesson. Their newborn baby was sick, and we offered a Priesthood Blessing, which they accepted. We kept it extremely simple, but they were grateful. We started talking about the Priesthood Authority of God, and smoothly transitioned into the Restoration. They responded well, and asked good questions. All four of them that were above 8 years old accepted the invitation to read, ponder, and pray about the Book of Mormon, attend Church, and be baptized on a specific date. After the closing prayer, offered by one of them, the oldest daughter, Andrea, told us, ¨Hermanos, I was praying for about three days that God would tell me His path that He wants me to follow, and I think that you´re the answer.¨ Boom! This never happens. This is like the MTC examples that they give as an ideal- but almost unrealistic- lesson. I don´t know how it happened, and I can only give all the credit to the Holy Ghost for helping seize upon the moment. This family is truely elect and prepared.

I just thought of something. At the beggining of my time here in Matheu, we had a similar experience with the Vilca family. They were the ones that had to move back to Bolivia before their baptism. Both of these families are Bolivian. I heard something from a slightly-racist member that the Bolivians are the most pure-blooded decendants of the Lamanites. I´ve never understood the prophesy of that ¨the Lamanites will blossom like a rose¨ before my mission, but I´m starting to now. Despite the ugly racial comments among the many nationalities down here and even back home, I´ve seen the elect and prepared accept the Gospel among all kinds of races. The love of God spreads to every one of His children, and sometimes I just want to scream the words of Jacob 3:9 to every Argentine native.

I´ve never thought much about racism during my mission until I sat down to write this letter. I´ve always believed that God had an infinite amount of love for everyone of His children in every corner of the Earth, but I testify again after this moment of personal revelation, that it is true. God looks perfectly, and directly upon the heart. He´s aware of our backgrounds, but doesn´t judge us by them; rather He uses them to better understand our situation. I know that He and Jesus Christ are the perfect, and the only perfect Judges of Mankind. And this I humbly testify en el nombre de Jesucristo, Amén.

Les amo, familia. Hasta la próxima semana. ¡Hurrah para Israel!


1. A scene from Belatriz´s birthday party that we threw for her.
2. Aarón already wants to be a missionary. ¡Qué capo!
3. Buenos Aires Temple

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Yeah! The computers work! (Sent: February 3rd, 2014)

Hola Familia!

Finally I´m in an internet cafe that works! With pictures and everything! I´ll be sure to send them this week, because back in Matheu, the computers are jerks.

What a week. Belatriz was confirmed a member this Sunday, which was awesome. We´ve been visiting her and her family every day, and we´re always received differently. Sometimes they´re all excited to see us, others are indifferent, and on occasion it´s just absolute chaos with more Spanish profanity than I´ve ever heard even in English. But this sweet hermana is so patient, and has finally received the right to the guidance of the Holy Ghost whenever she needs it.

What´s more is that two of her grandsons came to church to watch her be confirmed! One of them, Aarón, is just a down right stud, who is going to be baptized the following Sunday. Braian, is the other one who is such a good person. Taking on the role as primary provider at 19, I´m really impressed with all that he does for his family. He really wants to be baptized, but struggles with a lot of Word of Wisdom problems. We´ve had several lessons with him about it, and in the most recent we decided to go all in. Either he dumps the alcohol, or we´re going to have to move on. We did everything: we testified, gave examples, scriptures, more testifying, pleaded, had his family plead- we even offered to buy him Manaos (Coca-cola ripoff) as a replacement. Then we gave him the yes or no choice: ¨Will you throw out your alcohol, right now?¨ He must of stared at his wine/soda mix for a half an hour. I was praying my heart out for him. Then he looked up and said that he wouldn´t do it.

I was heart-broken. I really like the guy. And it´s weird to continue to testify and promise all these blessings about baptism to his family with him listening even though he doesn´t want to make those changes. But we did so anyway, talking to the Garcia family about how they can be sealed in the Temple to be a family even after this life. It was powerful, and they love the idea. Slowly, one by one, they´re coming to Church and accepting the Gospel. I hope that in turn, each one will use the infinite power Christ offers them to make changes neccessary and follow him, so they can reach that incredible goal of a Temple Sealing.

Speaking of the Temple, we get to go as a mission on the tenth! I´m excited beyond all belief. For the last month or so before my mission, I tried to go to the Temple everyday, and so I have been missing it like crazy out here, where I haven´t been since the MTC. I can´t wait to be in the Lord´s house again.

Also, thanks to everyone who wrote to me this week. There were times this week that I was feeling a bit lonely and discouraged, and trying my best to fight off negative thoughts and feelings. I spent quite a few hours praying to find the charity needed to make it through the problems I´ve been having, and Heavenly Father reminded me through you all that I´m still loved and have an incredible amount of support. You all rock.

And I hope you remember that too. If you ever feel alone, or can´t see or feel that support from your own relationships with other people, please remember your Heavenly Father. As Jeffery R. Holland said, ¨amidst the wonderously complex tasks inherent in the universe, He seeks our individual happiness and safety above all other godly concerns.¨ He truly does love you more than you can imagine, and you can feel His love whenever you´d like to. Do all that you can to feel it, and it will come in whatever moment you need it.

I love you all. Talk to you next week.

¡Hurrah para Israel!

P.S. Pictures:

1. That capo I told you about, Aarón.
2. Belatriz´s baptism
3. Belatriz and the door fragments. Yes, a 74 year-old, half blind, and incredibly humble woman broke down the front door to be baptized!
4. My companion was having trouble pronouncing the word ¨our¨ so he wrote this to help him understand it. It reminded me of the way the Aussies say no. ¨Nauowur¨ Haha :)