Monday, June 27, 2011

June 27, 2011  Salta  Argentina
It has been so cold here! I really don't know how cold but no ice or snow yet. It's really close to it though. I am using two sweatshirts and my big coat, a scarf I found in the apartment, gloves and headband! The cold really affected the number of people at church! They missed out though. There was one of the members of the stake presidency there and he gave a really good talk. One of the stories was (in my own translation - ha ha - don't know if it's exact but it gets the point across):
One day a father decided to take his son, who was always asking for things, out to a poor farm in the country, far away from their house. After spending a day out there on the farm and seeing how life was, they came home and the father asked his son what he learned about the rich and poor. His son started off saying that he learned alot! He said, "We have one dog and they have 10! We have a garden and they have a whole farm and fields! We get our milk from the fridge and they have a herd of cows! They go to the creek whenever they want to go fishing, and we have to wait for you to get vacation to go." The father then realized that he was just taught a much needed lesson. Sometimes we need to slow down and think of the important things in life. 
It was a really good story and I thought I would share it. Who knows - it may have been traveling around the different churches throughout the world but it was the first time I heard it.
This week we helped a family move a bunch of bricks back around to the other side of their house to start their second story (on the house). The father is the most interested in the church and is a very talented tile worker! He showed us a magazine with very expensive homes which he did the floors in. He is a go getter! He has to go to Buenos Aires for the week to get a checkup on his kidney transplant but he wants to get baptized when he gets back! 
We just found a family of about 9 people who listened to us, and the parents and one of the nephews are very interested and are set on coming to church this Sunday! They had the missionaries in their home about 20 years ago and loved the Book of Mormon but never got baptized. The mother was going to if she could see a baptism, but who knows. They have a ton of babies in their house now and maybe they have a different perspective on life. Anyways, they are loving the lessons!
We found another guy, about 30 years old, who wasn't interested really, but then he read 3rd Nephi 11 in a Book of Mormon that other missionaries had given him with that spot marked and he said he wants to get baptized! It was amazing! We just try to help them find direction and overcome their doubts.
I found a German Ensign magazine in the apartment while cleaning today, so I might take a look at that here sometime. I read the cover story titles and didn't think anything of it until one of the others said that it was a German one - after I had set it in the pile to save. I had to look again and, sure enough, it was!
I made cookies today! They were good but didn't turn out like the ones at home cause I didn't spend any money on nuts and raisins and stuff. I had some shredded coconut I put on some which was good though.
Things are going great here! I love what I have been learning from my new companion! 
We just had our last zone conference with the President (Northcutt) and his wife. It was really good and we will miss him, but the new president should be great too! He is about 40 years old and has 5 kids between 5 and 15 (I think). He is from Santa Fe,  Argentina. 
Well I'd better get going! I love you all!  

Baptism Day

At Stake Conference

Visiting Oscar and Family
Oscar's Baptism

Transfers - Elder Serey (leaving) and Alex

June 20, 2011  Salta Argentina
Things are going great with my new companion! He is such a great example for me! I am sad that we will only be together for one transfer but I'll just have to learn as much as I can while we are working together. On Saturday, I got to baptize our investigator, Oscar, who we lost contact with for a little bit. He is SO Happy and Excited.  He is a really great guy and is loving the things he is learning. We talked about family prayer and he said he had never thought about that but said he was going to do it for sure. His wife goes to another church with her mom but she came for the baptism and really felt good about it. They said they want to have us over for  another BBQ too! The last one with them was so good! The corn on the cob here is pretty good! 
This week we found a big family who were interested. We came back last night and they were waiting for us with more family and some cake from Father's Day! They are really excited to start reading the Book of Mormon and to learn more! The kids all have kids of their own and one of them was reading before we left and asking more questions! It was great! The dad and mom had a Book of Mormon a long time ago but hadn't read it or found it yet. The mom said she loved reading it but I guess they lost contact with the missionaries.
We are teaching a Gringo that doesn't know any Spanish! It is the weirdest thing to be teaching in English. When we are with investigators, it's like my mind goes 100% Spanish and I don't know the vocabulary in English because I pick it up in Spanish as I hear it used. My companion, who has been here for 21 months, was having a harder time switching to Spanish!
I love you all!  
Elder Oczkewicz

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

June 13, 2011  Salta Argentina

This transfer flew by! I lost my trainer, Elder Serey, but don´t worry, I did get a new companion! =) ha ha. His name is Elder Beukers and he is from Utah! We had to wait a bit today so we got here late. I will fill you in next week.
One thing I found pretty funny this week was one day we were studying and saw a stray horse walking down the street. Nobody was with it. The next morning we saw it about the same time walk by our apartment in the other direction... we were laughing for a while cause it's just weird stuff like that that happens everyday here! ha ha!
June 6, 2011  Salta Argentina
So transfers are next Monday... I am not worried about it but it would be nice to stay here so the area doesn't get white-washed (meaning two new missionaries take over the area). My companion is for sure leaving because he has 6 months in this area and already found out. He went to a zone leader training last Friday in preparation for his next area. He has been district leader for a transfer. He will be a good zone leader! He has been a great companion! I have learned so much from him! 
On Sunday we had a baptism of a 9 year old in a non-active family. The mom and sister came to church and her baptism after church (it was after so her dad could come - he didn't show up). Alot of the relatives are very active and the whole family and relatives are sealed in the temple. Hopefully they will make their way back to church now. 
We were supposed to have another baptism on the 4th (Saturday) for a guy who we had get married on Wednesday but Thursday he never answered his phone and wasn't at his house when we had an appointment... Friday, the same, when his interview was going to be and Saturday too. We tried from other phones to see if he wasn't answering ours but nothing still. He was one of our best investigators, so we are thinking that there was an emergency or something. Hopefully we will find him this week. 
We have found some more great people but none of them made it to church. Most, because of something they already had going and committed for next week. This week we still had 6 people at church so that was really good! One was an investigator who said she would, but had flaked out on all of our appointments for weeks. You just never know what they are feeling. The JW family had been having some issues and 2 weeks ago the wife told us that she was more content with her church. She told us she wasn't a member because she couldn't memorize the scriptures needed to be baptized but still went to study with them. This Sunday her husband was supposed to come but she and her 8 year old daughter came instead! We were blown away! We went to her house that night and her husband was doubting there was a God like he has many times, but after we talk to him he is always excited to read again and go to church and feels good about what we are teaching. The wife said she just felt like she needed to go today and that she had been reading the Book of Mormon after having said she didn't really want to. It was Fast Sunday and she felt really good about all the people's stories about how they have changed so much because of the gospel. She loved it and said she was going to go again. I think she has gone 4 times now. The 8 yr-old wants to come early like they did once before because she absolutely loved Primary. I think she will be key in getting her parents to church and baptized! We watched Together Forever the other night with them and they both loved it and felt that the families in the movie had some of the exact same problems that they were and are dealing with.
Another experience we had this week was with someone we heard about from a member. We stopped by 5 weeks ago and had a GREAT lesson with him! He was so excited but he works a ton and we just got to meet with him again this week. We just started visiting with him and asked how he felt about the church when he went there a year ago once and he told us he felt good there and never felt that at the other churches he visited. He told us that when we talked about Joseph Smith and him seeing Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ that he felt an amazing peaceful feeling similar to that which he felt in church but much greater! He couldn't stop thinking about it that night and talked to his wife about it (this was 5 weeks ago). He had something going Sunday but said he was going to for sure come next week. He isn´t actually married so we have to get him married too before we can baptize him.
These experiences have confirmed the truth of the gospel to me 10 times more than it already was! Its truly the work of the Lord! 
May 30, 2011   Salta Argentina

We had another baptism this Saturday! On Friday, we went with them to the place where they marry people here. It takes place in the city hall and it's just one after the next. You have to sign up ahead of time and so they took the earliest time which was Friday at 10 am. It was different but it was great! We had a little reception after his baptism for the wedding and the baptism. It was really good! This Wednesday, we have another marriage in the morning at 10 and then on Saturday, Oscar will be getting baptized. His wife is very shy and isn't interested in the lessons right now but Oscar thinks that will change after a little bit. She will come to his baptism and so hopefully we will be able to set a time to meet with them both after that. The reason they have to be married first is because they are living together, and to complete the law of chastity, it is a requirement before baptism. On Sunday we have another baptism of a 9 year old girl whose parents aren't active but are letting her get baptized because the grandma takes her to church. The family is sealed in the temple and they are a great family so hopefully they will start coming again.
My companion baptized the person last week and this week, and I did the confirmations. Last week at the baptism, I started to not feel so well but I made it through. I had a rough night of many trips to the bathroom... I was feeling good the next morning and was still able to do the confirmation so that was nice. This baptism my companion was feeling crummy but he had spent the whole day in bed trying to get over whatever bug he had. It didn't pass as fast but we made it to the baptism and he was still able to get in the water.
Ciao Ciao!