Tuesday, December 11, 2012


May 28, 2012     Tucumán   Argentina

 

Hi mom! This week was a great one! Mainly for the baptism we finally had. Aside from that it was a little slow but we are trying to make some plans to pick things up a bit. Liliana and Rafael got baptized and were super excited! Might not look so much in the pictures but they were having a great weekend. She is the one that learned how to read while we taught her. We are having a family home evening with them and a few other families tonight.

This week I didn’t sleep the best until the last two nights so I was running on very little energy. It was a long week but a rewarding one. We are lacking progressing investigators right now except for a new family we found last week. The dad still hasn’t joined us but we are working on that. They are four in total and are very nice and hard working people. The kids 16 and 18 are very well taught and they don’t have a TV in the meal room!!! That was one of the first things I noticed. They didn’t make it to church but I think they will this week. I love the missionary work when you just keep finding new people like that. We need to focus on that a bit more. We are trying some knew things that the zone leaders helped me out with and it worked great for first visits and helping the people know why we are there. We try to get a baptism date in the first visit and try to teach all by questions – it is tricky but it makes the people think and feel the spirit in return. We are teaching the Book of Mormon first thing now since it’s the strongest tool for the conversion but since we are out of Books of Mormon we are going around to members and converts that have more than one. We are even now lending the book out under the condition that they read, to help them feel the urgency to read or they will lose it. It’s worked with a few people now just to get them going to church.

Well I have to get going.

I love you!

Alex





May 21, 2012      Tucumán   Argentina  

 

Thank you mom for the informacion! The more people we visit with the more I am hearing about cancers and health problems. I better not say anything else because everyone is interested! They all want to know more - maybe I’ll start putting them onto the Clark website in Spanish. I didn’t know they had that.

So this other member has liver attacks... I guess it’s when she eats a heavy food(fatty I am guessing) she gets sick with vomiting and the runs. It’s not the first time I have heard of liver attacks here but I never heard that before the mission. Must just be all the fried foods they eat here...(Q)

She used the oregano and it helped alot and she is not getting the shots anymore! She was super happy! I am going to give her the liver cleanse info because she is excited to get that as soon as possible.

Love,

Alex

May 14, 2012     Tucumán   Argentina

 

Well it was great talking to you! After leaving and heading to lunch some little kids thought it would be funny to shoot us with slingshots. They all missed but came pretty close! I turned around and started walking towards them and the little one started running off. Right on the other side of the street the parents and tons of other people were having a huge party (normal Saturday). One older kid walking by them told them to knock it off so we left. We had a huge lunch! It was so good. I found out she has a bad tooth ache that she gets injections every 6 hours for to ease the pain and so I gave her the oregano oil I had with me so she could try it. She is super excited to give it a try. She also wants to do the liver cleanse and anything else she can. Sounds like we might have to put together a book when I get home for them down here! There are lots of people interested in it all.

So when I got to my computer there was a dog under the desk! He just stayed there for a bit and got up and went to a different desk... only in Argentina! haha

Well I love you!

Alex

May 7, 2012       Tucumán   Argentina

 
You might have an email in Spanish from a family here who would like to learn about the liver cleanse. They have a brother who has epilepsy and all the meds he has to take have been killing his liver over time. I think only a percentage is working now. They are also interested in parasite herbs and what not and are a bit more capable of looking around for the stuff then the other family. I will try to see if they can find a place to get some of the products. The sister who will be writing you is Marcela Balderrama (bucket branch ha ha I find it funny but they find mine funny so it’s OK). They are such a wonderful family! And treat us so good! She makes salad and desserts to go along with the lunch.

The little kid who had the spots like zits is looking really good. He has been taking DE and says it tastes really good! haha. The family of Jose always gives us fruits and stuff to take since they have a little fruit and veggie store at their house. We left their house and this time she had a couple kiwis and mandarins since they are starting to come out again along with apples and oranges. We went to the family of where the little kid is and since we had so much and it was fast Sunday and we start Saturday after lunch we decided to just leave it all with them after eating a mandarin. The little kid had never had kiwi and I have never seen fruit in their house. In fact they are fortunate to have dinner or lunch aside from bread and mate (a tea that everyone drinks here. it smells like teas you would make and strain in a jar). He was super happy and loved the fruit! The parents did too. She works for a lady every once in awhile cleaning her house from 7 in the morning to 5 in the evening and gets 15 to 20 pesos. Enough to make noodles and sauce for the three of them... It’s amazing to see how little people have here. She is waiting for a member to put together a little BBQ thing so she can cook a type of bread in it to sell in the street. She wants to work but has very few options. Her husband gathers recycle to sell to the different places that take it but he might get 40 pesos every month from that. He goes and does other stuff when can too but not too often.

In the stores here everything is going up in price almost weekly. It’s crazy! Things are a few more pesos now than 3 months ago...


The guy that had his hand cut its doing great! I was amazed that a few days after I gave him the oregano it was not swollen and was looking really good! He was really grateful and is now back together with his girlfriend and daughter so we are going to try and get them married now. I had him taking golden seal too because I think you said that was for infections(Q)

This week was a hard one because my comp went to Salta to do some papers and I had to get a member to be with me for one day. Between two members I was able to visit some families. Tuesday was a holiday so they made Monday one also... when we went out looking for new people everyone wanted us to come in because they want to quit drinking or smoking... we don't go in if they are drunk and so when we came back to see them the next day none wanted anything to do with us... lot of wasted time or so it seemed. Every block we passed music was blasting out of the houses. Alot of them have their huge speakers outside right next to the table where they are eating and "visiting". It was like that since Friday night since it was a long weekend.

This guy in a car stopped us in the street saying "man you guys look American!" haha he was born here but at 5 years old moved to Utah with his family and got married there and now 8 months ago he moved back here. Being that his whole body was covered in tattoos I had to ask if he was going to church and he said that he was inactive and loved the lifestyle here! He lives in our area and is a really nice guy so we might see if there is something we can do.

Well I better get going.

I love you all thank you so much for everything!

Love,

Alex

April 30, 2012     Tucumán   Argentina

Hola!

Thanks for the update on stake conference. It’s very interesting how the same things are very much so needed to be said here. I’ll be interested to hear what ours will be about. I am not sure when it is though.

A couple inactive people/families came to church Sunday. That was pretty cool! The branch has been doing alot to help there.

It is sunny today but it’s the first sunny day this week! It was about 55 and rainy all week long! My raincoat bleeds on my white shirts but it washes out in the wash so that's good.

We had a great zone conference that helped me change or start working on changing some things. There was a great talk by Neal A Maxwell called Absorbida en la Volutad del Padre [Swallowed Up in the Will of the Father]. You should look it up. The president applied it to the mission for us and how we serve. He is a great president but it’s hard not to feel bad about your work you have done too after he talks. He could be a future Elder Holland pretty easily. I have to change what I know I can, and do my best and just feel good about the results because lately I haven't been feeling the best about my work - feeling like I’ll never get better - but than I look back and see what I am learning in these harder times and it makes me feel better.

I have to go but thank you for everything! I love you all!

 

Alex

April 23, 2012     Tucumán   Argentina
 

This week was a learning week like any other I guess. Just with a little more patience involved. A family we found who was really interested doesn't want us to come back for now and some others just aren't progressing. We need to keep finding new people so that we can always have people who let us in to teach and help them progress. Sometimes it’s hard to stay cheerful like Alma and the people who escaped from King Noah did while receiving so much persecution and affliction. I just read that today in a conference talk after reflecting on the week. I am excited though to try to apply it for this week everyday. I think it will help me and my outlook on how the work is going and my faith in what we can achieve.

Saturday we stopped by a less active family and found out the dad had to give his first talk ever. He had been asked before but never came to do them in church. He was pretty nervous so we helped gather some materials together since they do have alot of books from the church. It was on agency and Sunday I was going to give a talk in his place since he hadn’t come yet - until just before sacrament meeting. I was happy to see him come with his talk prepared and it turned out to be a great talk. He had been back for one Sunday and they asked him to do it because the few people that go are always giving talks. I know his testimony was strengthened and that many others who attended were also. He was the one last week who we talked about fam. history with and helped them get started. It’s really amazing what looking for family history can do to someone’s excitement. In teaching it to them it really made me want to do more of it. Hopefully we can get some more through Felicia (don’t know how to spell it) in Poland

I know that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ live and love us more than we can imagine. I know that families can be sealed by the priesthood of God to continue together forever. I know our lives on earth can be difficult and trying at times but if we make decisions with the future (life after this) in mind, we will be able to live with our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and our families. I know that it is only by baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost by the power of God that we can return to live with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. These are all truths that we know to be true through the restoration of the church of Jesus Christ. The church was restored by the power of God through Joseph Smith. I know this to be true because my Heavenly Father has told me through the whisperings of his spirit. I know without a doubt that everyone who reads the Book of Mormon with an open mind and heart continuing with diligence(in reading and pondering), faith, and a sincere desire to follow the answer given, that you will know by the power of the Holy Ghost that it is true. You will also receive the blessings promised to those who read it that you will bring yourself closer to Heavenly Father and bring more peace and joy into your life. 

One of the people we are teaching said that she has always argued with her 23 year old daughter throughout her life but since she started reading it, overcoming her preconceived thoughts about it, she said it has changed the atmosphere of her home. She doesn't argue with her daughter or other family members and it prepared her to forgive her brother who came back to see her after having had an argument a year ago. She told us that she knows it because she has been reading but she still doesn't want to leave her religion yet. She is a little afraid of leaving something behind after having been with it for so long. She has told us she has felt an answer that the Book of Mormon is true. She said that when she first started reading she was very reluctant and had many doubts about its origin but when she continued reading even though she felt bad about it she was able to break through these thoughts and feelings and come to know of its truth. She cannot put the book down now.

I invite once again all to read the Book of Mormon which testifies clearly of Jesus Christ and the sacrifice he made because of the pure love that he has for us. Even though the prophets weren't present for his ministry in Jerusalem they testify clearly of his existence and his ministry and love by revelation given to them (prophets) as special witnesses of Him. Heavenly Father loves all his children. That is why they knew of his existence even though they were in other parts of the world. 

I know the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true church of God which is organized to prepare his children for the second coming of his only begotten son Jesus Christ.  In the name of Jesus Christ amen.

I love you all so very much!   

 
Alex

April 16, 2012               Tucumán   Argentina

         
I gave some oregano oil to a guy who was coming back to church then got in a fight with his brother who lives on the same property for selling drugs there. He blocked his face with his arm from a blow with a machete and got hit in the wrist. He cleaned it out and super glued it shut and it’s kind of swollen and so I told him to put it on there a couple times a day. His wife who was investigating the church with his daughter and soon to be born kid left him because of the problems at the house. It’s really sad because he needs her support - just getting out of jail for two years and trying to change his life. The night we came (after that happened) he had started smoking. He had gone to church the week before and sees that Satan is trying to get in the way and knows he needs to keep going but says it’s so hard. It really hurts to see these things happening because if they could get out of the hole they are in they would be great members in the church. The brother who hit him had come to church a few weeks ago with his member girlfriend and 2 year old kid and wanted to change his life around but couldn't find work and so he started drinking and selling drugs again. We kept trying to help him and he loved reading the scriptures with us and with his girlfriend when we weren't there. They were doing really well and then he felt bad because he didn't have much of anything for his family to eat. We do what we can with the ward to help them out but the church wants them to become self sufficient. So we leave that in their hands. The problem is that alot of the members are barely getting by and are working alot of hours. It just makes you want to give what you have but we can’t do that either. 

A family finally came to church who live a ways away and who have wanted to get baptized for months now. She told everyone in church that she only has two times to come to church then she can get baptized! She asked to say the last prayer in the class which was really full - the Sunday with less actives and investigators. It was a great feeling after having one of the toughest weeks ever. We had less than half of the lessons we should have this past week. We just had the hardest time getting in to teach. The one lesson we had Sunday lifted us up alot too. It was after 6 hours of church because the members that were going to help us out didn't come to do divisions again and since we don't have any minutes on the phone we couldn't get anyone else to come. So we talked to a few people after church at 8:30 about coming over because they have spirits bothering their kid and want someone to give him a blessing and dedicate the home even though they have the priesthood. We have to talk to some of our leaders about it first to see what we can do. After we talked to them we ran over to an investigator with very little time who had come to church earlier in the morning. His sister sat down to listen and is excited and is 9 years old. The kid we are teaching there is 19 with a little daughter and a girlfriend who doesn't want to listen yet. He still wants to come and keep learning though. He has been reading for the last 3 days consistently now and said he feels amazing and loves the book of Mormon. I asked him if he had prayed to ask if it is true and he said "I pray before I read like you told me every time but I haven't ever asked to know if its true. But I don't have any doubts that it is true." My companion asked him if he would follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized and he said "FOR SURE!" He is not married and we have yet to talk to him about it but with the excitement he had he should be able to pray about it and change that. 

Ya trying to picture it here would be difficult but here in this part alot of people have grass and roses and stuff in their yards but in the really poor places not so much. It’s weird because you get people with money living right between the others and some how it just all fits in.

A missionary tossed out a peanut butter jar his family sent him and I grabbed it and cleaned it out since he didn't. It was pretty tasty but it might be hard to fit in the package. I’d rather you just send the DE and ww and stuff for the people here. I don't have too long till I’ll be able to eat it haha.

Time is just flying by. I am already starting my third week with my new companion and we keep learning alot. He is so positive all the time even though he is super tired. He gets lots of compliments on his Spanish which is good. Whatever he says people understand him because he pronounces clearly.

We are trying different ways to get to less-actives here and one way which worked was to help them start their family history. They came to church and are excited to prepare themselves to go to the temple to do the work for their ancestors. It really brings the spirit into their lives and gives them strength to keep going. It also helps us understand how merciful our heavenly father is for all of his children.

I know this church is true and one can know for sure if they read the book of Mormon and pray about it.

I love you all so much! Take care!

Alex





April 9, 2012    Tucumán    Argentina

 We made it back late because of studies and laundry and cleaning the house (which we didn't get very far with) I guess that's where the atonement comes in. I felt like we did the best we could to get everything done but at the same time learned a few things to get better next week. We are expected to baptize every week and when it doesn't work out for a time it’s pretty disappointing but I guess it’s the process of learning. Anyways I love my new companion. He is really tired but still has a great attitude about everything. He is from California (Sacramento area) and is learning really fast! He remembers the Spanish we practice very well and is an honor to work with! I was very blessed with my new companion. We’ll see what the future brings but I guess it’s like a marriage haha. You’ve got to keep it going like it started from the beginning. It’s just our outlook and patience. Well I have to go. Thank you so much for the pictures and everything!

 

I will be writing probably anytime before noon.  Right now I have to get a haircut! I’ll talk to you later!

 

Love Alex

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


April 2, 2012   Tucumán   Argentina

 
WOW! I am officially an uncle! Makes me feel even older! haha Dean looks like Eric alot! I told one of our very humble investigators that I was going to have a nephew at the end of this month and every time we went there and she said a prayer to end or start she prayed for Alyssa! I didn’t even ask her to she just did it. She came from a very difficult and shady background and is the one that has learned to read but she has the biggest heart for everyone. Her step daughter and her husband are druggies that live on the same lot and don’t take care of their 3 year old girl. Samir, who just turned 3 years Thursday always is giving her his milk that his mom makes for him and tea and bread that he gets and goes back and asks his mom for more so he can eat. Her big heart reflects immensely in him at only 3 years old. The oregano is helping the spots on him alot and got rid of the ones he had but he got another one on his chest. I wonder if it’s parasites that he has that are causing them. I guess some DE wouldn’t hurt him would it? haha! I feel bad that I can’t just get it for everyone here but whatever. Their faith can work too.

The guy who has stomach cancer hasn’t been in bed since he started taking the things I gave him and he feels better too. He doesn’t have vomit anymore and he went in for a double check on what he has a half week after he was taking everything and they found a tumor in his stomach that is blocking food passage a bit and so he can only eat liquids. They said it’s not malignant (?) and that he should be fine but they want to go in and take it out. He and his wife came to conference Sunday afternoon and loved it! They are such a nice family. They cant get married because his previous wife from ten years ago won’t allow a divorce or he can’t find her to sign the papers. That’s what the other missionary told me anyways. We’ll see what we can do.

We got 5 investigators to go from our area and some less/inactives to go to conference. It was one of my favorites so far. Maybe I say that every time but I never dozed once because I was so excited to hear and learn from them. It was great thinking about investigators while being there because we will be printing off or showing a few investigators talks from the conference to answer questions. One was a guy whose wife got baptized about 6 months ago and he has questions about why he has a mentally challenged son. Two of the talks were perfect for him and these questions. He didn’t come but he might have watched parts on internet with his son. We have yet to find out.

There was a baptism right after the conference on Sunday and we were about to have a great kid who is 14 years old baptized but then he put doubts in his mind right before and didn’t want to do it. He is planning for next week but we have to help him see his answer again and help him to grow his testimony this week. The problem is that often times people can be unsure now and then after they receive a testimony before the baptism but need to take that leap of faith and do it and feel the difference at the baptism. Alot of people gain their testimony at the baptism.

His mom is almost done with the book of Mormon and we have taught her everything but she still says she’s Catholic. We are not going to focus on her and just let her keep reading and coming to church (came to conference twice too!) and she will eventually know. One of her daughters was ready and told them she wanted to be baptized but then work started and she dropped reading the book of Mormon and her mom said something to her about changing religions. She now has excitement again and a new baptism date planned for the 14th of April. It has been a trying few weeks with them but one learns good attributes from those experiences I guess.

Attributes which I will be needing because I lost my old companion and will be training a new missionary now. I have to work today and tomorrow in my area with a member until I leave Tuesday night for Salta to go pick up my new companion. I don’t know anything about him yet so I’ll let you know next week. But I will but there for all of Wednesday and get back late that night (at least that’s what I am hoping).
It’s really hard to leave your area knowing that nothing is happening there while you're gone unless I can get a member to pass by our investigators. I will be working on getting that to happen here today and tomorrow.

With a new missionary we get an extra hour of companion study and we have a DVD player to watch the "District" and practice alot. They have a new system for missionaries to learn faster and have goals of things they need to do every week which is supposed to bust their progress alot! I am excited to be learning right along side of whomever it is because they didn’t have this in place until the last few months.

The baptism on Sunday evening at the stake center was from my trainer(elder Serey) who left for home today. He was also my zone leader for this last transfer (6 weeks). His ward had a few people get up and say a few things for him afterwards and it was really cool! I got up and told him how grateful I was to have him teach me in the mission and was able to say goodbye afterwards. It was a really spiritual experience for the investigators that were present from several different wards.

I sometimes feel like I am learning slowly but when I look back and think about it I seem to be learning so much. I still have so much to learn though and was a bit surprised when I found out I was going to be training. I guess it’s the opportunity to learn all that that I still need, to keep progressing.

I don’t know if I told you but the weather has cooled alot and I actually wore a sweater for two days (last week if I'm not mistaking). The more I am working with our branch presidencies I have grown to love and appreciate all that they do out of their work schedule and family life to help the work move forward.

Well I am so excited for the family and how its growing! That's one thing I have been thinking about... what day it would be and what not but now I just look forward to pictures as Dean continues to grow! I can’t wait to see him in person!

Well I better get going! I love you all so much and will try to get some pictures the next week. I got a little carried away in writing this week.

Love Alex

March 26, 2012   Tucumán   Argentina

 

Toda jolla?! (Tucuman slang for "hows it going")

Well we finally got Rosa baptized! We were about to do it last week but it didn’t work out. It was in our smaller branch of about 15 people and no one came partly due to it being unsure until the last minute. The day before she told us she wasn’t going to be able to make it to church on Sunday because she had to leave town. We told her she had to get confirmed on Sunday and she wasn’t sure when she would be back so it was either do it or not. She was thinking about what she could do and then the phone rang and she found out she didn’t have to go! (silent prayer answered!) I just couldn’t believe how much resistance she received before her baptism. There was so much going against her. But in the end a friend of hers and 2 of her grandkids(adults) came and her son in-law(our branch president’s 1st counselor) was the one who baptized her. It was very spiritual. She bore her testimony on Sunday during fast and testimony meeting too so that was really cool! This one kid named Facundo is really bouncing around with doubts and desires. He will get baptized this weekend though hopefully before conference since its starts at 1 here.

We had a few inactive members to church who really liked it and are excited to go again next week to conference. The guy has quite a history including just getting out of jail... he is super happy though to go church again and is going to be looking to get married once he gets a job and can pay for the papers and stuff he needs.

This week a super poor family wanted to make us some pastries and we were a little hesitant but said that would be great because they wouldn’t have let us say no. So this week when we got to one of our appointments with them we smelled this horrible smell really powerful right before we walked in... we were looking at each other questioning if we should clap or not. We clapped and she came around to greet us super excited and when we went into the yard around their kid’s house she had a bunch of big darn good looking donut things. I figured, better that they are fried than anything because it would kill everything. When she put them on the table there was a new smell and it wasn’t what we were smelling before. They had the peeling of a lime shredded into the batter and it was super good! She sent us with some too for the road. They still haven’t made it to church yet because they need a lock for their door or someone to watch the house while they go but the husband has been late getting back from visiting his son in jail on Sundays too. The son in jail has a book of Mormon and wants to come to church when he gets out so that’s pretty cool. I guess he will be out soon for good behavior.

The last missionaries who were here left us without paying the November and December electric bill so our power got cut... we went the next day on a bus into town to go see why they cut it  and were able to pay them and get it hooked back up that same day. Only a few things went bad in the fridge. haha

The other elders in the pench
grinding it in front of them. They didn’t think anything of it but we were told by members it was probably horse with all sorts of innards ground up in it... they were going to the bathroom that night so it might have been in the fridge for a while too. haha never really know what you could be eating here! DOG?... hope not...

We ate at this member’s house and their cat (full grown) was nursing from the dog... they said that they took the cat in when it was little and the dog just started taking care of it as her own baby and continues to nurse it... I thought... "only in Argentina" but I am sure it has happened else where, I just don’t know about it. ha


 
I learned this fast and testimony meeting in one of the branches that alot of the members are barely making it by day by day for food and still make lunches for us. It’s so amazing how strong some of the people are here and how much confidence they have in the Lord while others have no confidence at all. They will be great helps in teaching people we are finding!

We got a reference to a family who just lost their 23 year old son to some illness and are really sad and have no idea why, after asking God so much in prayer, he could take their son. So we talked a little about the plan of salvation and it seemed like they were alot better
than when we got there. We will see what happens this week. We left some things for them to read.

The gospel is such a great blessing in knowing that we can live together again after this life. I am so grateful for the atonement of Jesus Christ so that we can have this opportunity  to live, learn, and grow here on earth and return to live with all of our loved ones once
again. I know the church is true with all my heart and invite all to find out for yourselves the same by praying and asking your Heavenly Father if it is.

Love Alex


March 19, 2012    Tucumán  Argentina

This was a trying week but we made it and learned alot from it. The last couple weeks haven’t been the best in meeting goals and what not but it all goes back to our planning. When we think we are doing ok we get shot down. This Sunday we didn’t teach anyone again because the people we were going to do divisions with didn’t come or came and waited in the church while we were in one of the class rooms waiting for them. communication errors... since we have church in the morning and afternoon we have to study in between and leave church time to teach. So we both spent 6 hours in church. Looking on the good side I learned alot! But we were both ready to be done afterwards. We went to visit a few people who didn’t come to church but none were there or we couldn’t go in for other reasons. It was a little rough but we talked about it and how we can do things different so we can have more success this week and we both felt better.

 

Well one of our investigators Liliana has quit smoking since Saturday and is doing super good! It was really hard the first few days and she was really nervous but she’s happy and seems like a new person now. She is still learning to read with us so she doesn’t read much alone. She is about 32 or something and had a really hard life including that her previous husband is living with her mom... interesting family situation, but she seems happy her kids are in pretty good hands. She now wants to learn to write so we are working with the ward on these things she needs and they are doing good! They found her a pair of shoes to get to church in and her friend gave her a book bag as a gift and she put her Book of Mormon in and was really excited to go to church. It has been a cool experience to see her grow and change amidst all of the problems and trials she has. I gave her a little oregano oil for her 3 year old who has some weird zit things on his head. They aren’t really zits but they are bumps. Just seeing the conditions of the way they live, there has got to be huge parasite problems down here.

 

  We almost had a baptism this weekend but we had a little complication and it didn’t work out. It should happen this weekend though along with a brother and sister from another family. The brother tells us it’s true and wants to get baptized, then when we get close he tells us he’s not ready and it’s all because he’s not reading consistently. When he is reading he has the desire and feels it’s true but right when he stops it’s like he forgets what he felt. One of our recent converts here asked why so few people are going to church and I was really wondering the same thing. In all the areas down here there are tons of members and only a few in church. I got to thinking about it and I see all these poor houses with satellite dishes on them. Any time we enter a house the TV is always on and alot of lunches we have, the people have their TVs on and only talk about the news or stuff on TV and not about things that should be talked about as a family. Not all are like this but alot are. I can only think that TV took over scripture study and prayers and then when some trial comes, they aren’t able to keep going. Also I was reading in the teachings of the prophets - George Albert Smith - about keeping the Sabbath day holy and that triggered some ideas too. It is so important - just as the other commandments, but it really is a way we can demonstrate our love and diligence to the Lord and in return he will bless us to the degree we keep the commandment(s)(Alma 38:5). This has been one of my favorite scriptures lately along with alma 36:3,5(?). It’s 36 or 37  but I really like those chapters alot. 

It (scripture study and obedience to all the commandments) is so important! Maybe it’s easy for me to say that while on the mission because I can imagine the little distractions that get in the way of the bigger things.   

  

Well I better get going now. I love you all and thanks for the goodies!

 

It’s cooling off a bit at night so it’s perfect to use half of the blanket – some times of the night the whole thing! It’s still 85 or 90 during the day though and the humidity doesn’t change here I am  guessing haha. Cleaning today my shirt was drenched in sweat! I never thought I’d enjoy the cold showers we get at this house due to a very random instant hot water heater. It can be on all the way and the flame is on but the water is only warm.

 

Love you all! Take care!  

Saturday, September 15, 2012

March 12, 2012    Tucumán  Argentina

We clap alot here (at people’s houses) unless the door is right at the sidewalk. One thing I have learned though is just to open up the gate and go to the door to knock it or ring the door bell. Alot of times it’s at the door beyond the gate so that random kids don't hit it as they walk by. But yes we clap most of the time.

I have had blood sausage here too. It is good but I like chorizo(spelling?) better. It’s pretty gross to watch them make it at the carniceria where you buy meats. They take seasonings and parts of meats and grind it all together and stuff it in the little intestines then tie it off every 4 inches and you buy it by the kilo. I don't like going to buy meat and stuff because the carniceria always smells like rotting animals. Maybe not that bad but I just stick to eating meat usually with members so I don't have to prepare it. haha

This week we were really focusing on getting references because we had been forgetting to ask in every one of our appointments and contacts. So we started thinking about it more and we started asking but it seemed that every time we got one, it ended up being an inactive person. I can only imagine that they are praying for help. Heavenly Father is watching out for his children who have made covenants with him. I was almost getting frazzled because every person we were introduced to by an investigator was an inactive. But it serves its purposes because instead of one person being helped we should be able to have more and more together listening. We even asked a few people whose doors we knocked and one of them told us across the street are living a couple kids 20 years old or so who could use a better path. So excitedly we went over thinking about how she had just said that one got out of jail recently. When we got there they said come in and told us they were both members and wanted us to come back and talk to their girlfriends so they could eventually get married in the church. They were a little drunk but they said they would be fine the next time we come so we are really excited at where the Lord is guiding us. One seemed alot more prepared and he had asked a missionary who was at his active sister’s house about 2 months ago to send the missionaries over to his house but they never showed up. So I am sure Heavenly Father was listening to his desires to change his life around. They both have a little kid so I am sure that is one reason they are thinking about things a bit more. We had some very good and tough experiences this week but we learned alot from all of them, so that's what counts! 
I love you all!

 Alex

Sunday, April 29, 2012

March 5, 2012     Tucumán    Argentina
This week was better but I am still getting to know the people and area(s) haha. I feel like I am getting to know it unusually fast so that might be the Lord helping me get to know it before my companion leaves. He will have been here for 7 months by the end of this transfer (April 2). Time is going so fast. It motivates me to try and do everything faster but actually we just have to work more efficiently. That’s one thing that can be deceiving in the mission because if we are doing something a good way and there is a way to do things better, we can be slow to change because Satan will tempt us not to progress.

This week we had some great experiences with different families. We have some investigators who are reading a ton but just aren't looking hard enough to receive a testimony. A few are in 2 Nephi and Alma and the end of 1 Nephi. It’s just they aren't sure yet. They all say they feel it’s true but maybe we haven't helped them fully understand what it means when it’s true. Others aren't going to church yet so we have lots of work to do.

It feels like in every area there are new challenges that you have to figure out how to get around and over. It's very interesting because I know it will happen but there is just something we have to learn first. As we continue searching together as a companionship what lessons we can learn, I am sure we will find out what they are with the help of the Holy Spirit. 

This week our president of the branch (one of them) asked us what we think he can do to help the ward get excited to fulfill their callings and have the desire to help in the Lord’s work. We mentioned the things which the area presidency had asked us to do in order to have the most success. So we should be working pretty closely with him for a while to get going in this area. The other presidency members are all converts in the last year and a half.

They are excited but feel a little overwhelmed (which I could imagine) since there are not enough priesthood holders to fill the needed callings. Basically there is alot of search and rescue to be done. I guess we will learn the best way to work together with the few people we have in the ward. 

Right now I live on the  Pasaje  cabildo (street) right by the universitario (university). The city from what I have seen is similar (more or less) to Cabo only here there aren't any huge hotels. Also here the big supermarkets are pretty rare. You get a couple but nothing like Home Depot. The other day we were walking down the street and this guy had a machine for making cinder blocks. It was this thing that when the form got set on the ground they would fill it up and then it would vibrate. Then when he hit a lever it lifted the form straight up so it wouldn't ruin it. There were few big rows of them drying. It was pretty cool to see. 

We went into the city a little deeper in order to find an ATM that had money in it. At the intersections there are no lights for people on the sidewalks telling them to walk or not. We found out nobody likes to wait either. That part of town was pretty upscale though because it actually had stop lights and not just a free for all. It had to have them though because they had 2 lanes coming and going from each side. 

Some guy walked up to the other missionaries and reached in the one’s pocket that had his cell phone and a little money while they were knocking a door. He turned around and the guy took off running. I guess he had just paid for a new cell phone recently and didn't want to pay for another and they took off after the guy yelling at him to stop! After running and catching up to him in a couple blocks the guy held the stuff out as he was running and when the missionary grabbed it and stopped the guy kept running. By now everyone was out of their houses watching at 9 in the morning and an old guy came up and asked what happened and they said the guy robbed them. He pulled out a gun from his pants and took off in the direction the guy was running. I guess the robber lives right there on those couple blocks and might not be liked by the neighbors now. Members 4 blocks away knew about it later that day just because news travels so fast in these neighborhoods. 

A missionary a little while back got robbed and the guy tried to stab the missionary but when the knife hit his stomach/garments it bent! It didn't go through the garments. And when the guy saw the bent knife he got scared and took off. I thought that was pretty cool. Heavenly Father really is watching over us here. I am grateful I haven't had any problems but I know that Heavenly Father is protecting us. It’s a great comfort to have him on our side. I have never really even gotten scared in the streets yet which I feel blessed for too. I always am trying to keep my eyes open for groups of people and or singles that walk toward us. I then go to the other side of the street. It has worked well. 
   
Well I better get going. I love you very much!

Take care!
Alex

February  27, 2012   Tucumán    Argentina

My area now is the outskirts of a bigger city but it’s still not like a sky scraper city or anything. Not that I can see anyways. I have some dirt road area in my new area too. I guess it’s pretty dangerous but it seems less so than my last area and nothing ever happened there. Today on our way to the store a guy tried to stop us four missionaries in
the street for us to break a hundred peso bill. I never get money out in front of anyone in the street but my new comp had his out before we could say anything. He exchanged the bills and then when we got to the store and tried to use it he found out it was fake... so now we know how to look for that. He still has the bill for a reminder.

I got word from my comp that on of our investigators in my last area died of a heart attack at the age of 22... he was the son of the guy that died while we were at the house. He didn't quit drinking and smoking. It really took a toll on him. It was very sad to hear. That is the 3rd kid in that family to die and not including the dad...

My new apartment is tiny compared to my last one and the layout is kinda weird which makes it seem smaller but we get by with 4 there. We have small areas to study and no AC but the hot weather is coming to an end. At least the extremes.

We did divisions on Sunday so that my companion Elder Dempsey could go to church in the morning and I could go later in the day. It worked out well but we have to get more people to church. There were 20 in one branch, 30 in the other.
We stopped by a less active member and the guy said he knows it’s true and needs to come but the last time he came with his daughter who is a member the mom came and screamed at them at church in front of everyone telling them they can't go. She let two of her kids get baptized because they had a strong desire but now she has changed her mind a year later. The wife forced her son this last Saturday to get baptized in her church and he didn't want to since he was already a member of ours and still believed that it was true. The daughter got punched by the mom because she didn't want to get baptized... it’s been a hard time for the family but they really have strong testimonies. We’ll see how they can get over these problems which have only been getting worse. I left feeling super sad for them and for the mom and how confused she is and what it’s doing to their family. But it also made me so happy for the blessing I have in my life and my wonderful family.

So we found someone this week who stopped us in the street when we were
near their house looking for someone else. Supposedly she was dead for 7 days and then came back. We will find out more next time but it was a very good experience with them because they want to get baptized already.

Well I have to get going. Thank you for everything and I love you all! Say hi to Aleta Bray and everyone else! It is so true what you said about the mission. I think about how I would be progressing or at least the rate of progression if I hadn't come on the mission and it scares me! The mission is the greatest experience for my life or for the life of
anyone without a doubt!

Take care!
Love, Alex
February  20, 2012     Tucuman    Argentina

Hi!
So... I got transferred. I am in my new area right now. After we got home Sunday night I had to pack up and leave in 2 hours. It wasn't very fun and was pretty sad but I feel good about how the area was going when I left. Definitely better than when I got there - thanks to the members' help and all that I was learning from my companion. I will really miss him alot. We had our times but worked them out. I think we worked really well together. I am now in Tucuman. I got here at 1 this afternoon so it was about 12 hours in the bus. I was very blessed and woke up very few times and it seemed like a very short ride. I was so tired from this last week. On Sunday I was studying and was talking to my companion when we both went out like light bulbs. I thought it was a few minutes but it was an hour! We couldn't believe it but there was nothing we could do about it after it happened. It was very hot and we had just eaten. I guess I’ll go get my head wet with cold water when I feel it's about to happen again. 

I am just outside of Central from what I understand but I’ll let you know as I learn the area. The interesting thing is that I came from a branch that had 4 missionaries and there was alot of work. Now the area I am in we are in charge of 2 branches. One meets at 9:30 Sunday and the other is at 5 in the evening. I am really excited but I can see there being alot of work working with 2 different leaderships and confusing them all until I have been here for a while! We are really close to the college here in Tucuman, if that helps you find out where I am on the map. It’s a pretty small area and there are about 30 people going to each of the branches with lots of less actives. The ward close to us has fewer members assisting but they will grow. It’s just a matter of getting the members we have excited and getting inactive people excited through teaching friends and kids who aren't baptized.

Tartagal had a couple lower assistants this last 2 weeks because of all the carnival stuff going on. This last week was an awesome week in that area though! We had 6 or more people receive the Aaronic priesthood and we had 3 more baptisms. My comp and I had the mom of one of our recent converts and the little brother of the kid we baptized last. The other missionaries had the mom of the two boys that just got baptized and now the dad decided he will do it this next weekend! It’s really blowing up in that area!
Some of the kids who got baptized recently have been waking up early to go out with us every day of the week and a couple have already given talks in the other baptisms. They have amazingly strong testimonies and all want to serve missions so badly. One is 19 so he will prepare right now. The others are 14 and 12 so they have a while but they are getting to church early to greet people and get them to seats. They also have an amazing influence on their friends with the activities they have been having. A few of their friends want to have Book of Mormons and listen to us. Before they weren't excited about it but they all came to a couple baptisms and came to church and have much excitement to learn more.
With the reactivated 16 year old and the recently baptized 19 year old we have been able to do divisions a couple times during the week and it has been working wonderfully.

We also were talking to the family of the kid that has been doing really hard drugs and they have been reading a lot in the Book of Mormon and feel that it is true. They have to work on their own tobacco and drinking issues but they seem excited and confident that they can get rid of those problems. I am excited to see them on the list of weekly baptisms in the future. They do have to get married first though. The work is really moving forward in that area and I am confident that it can be the same here!

 Well I have to go.

Love,  Alex! 
February 13, 2012     Tartagal   Argentina
 Wow! Alot is going on back home! It is so amazing how fast Monday goes and we still didn't get everything done we needed to... the house is very clean though! I get up and clean in the morning. I have come to realize that it is therapy for me. ha ha
This week was a crazy one! I got bit by a dog too! ha ha it didn't bleed or rip my pants so I was happy but it stung a bit for a while. I threw a rock at it when it came at me again but missed by a mile. My companion is quite good at it and got another dog really good that is always a threat. There are so many dogs here!

We visited with one of the druggies (the son of Lucia Lopez (the mom of a lady we baptized here)). Lucia is progressing amazingly and has received an answer and will be baptized this weekend. She is having a very hard time with her son who is in the drugs. I guess the same day we came and talked to her they had verbally fought a bit and so she picked up her book and opened it to a part about repentance which we had planned on talking about. Later, the spirit directed our lesson very smoothly. Then she left to go next door to her mom’s so we could knock on her son’s door and talk to him. It was a very positive lesson but he had just been smoking too. This drug makes people look like a skeleton in a week depending on how addicted they are. They just lose all the fat and muscle on their bodies. He knows he could die from it soon and wants to quit but he didn't go to the meeting his mom had planned for him at the rehab place. She wants us to see if he wants to go to it and we would then take him. I guess up on the hill where they live (their house is in the picture of the soccer field I sent you) alot of kids go there at night so it’s all very close and very hard for him to give it up. His mom found him asleep the morning after we came with the book of Mormon on his chest so we are hoping that is one way he can get the strength he needs to quit. 

The member we have been taking with us to these appointments had a similar lifestyle before he got baptized. He came to church the first time randomly in October to the general conference. His little brother just got baptized and so will his mom and dad. One of the missionaries was waiting for a family outside the church and invited this kid and his friend in to listen. The other one left and wants nothing to do with it but Cristian stayed and wanted the missionaries to come over to his house.  He didn't come to get confirmed after his baptism because his older brother took him out and pressured him into drinking and he fell back into it all but then started going out with the missionaries to their appointments so he could have something to do and got confirmed this weekend. He even got offered to smoke and chew on the way home from church with his little brother who just got baptized and turned it all down. We took him to all the people we are visiting who have kids in the drugs and he was a huge comfort to the parents and families to know that it’s possible. He also felt the pain that the families were going through and didn't want it for his family again. He bore his testimony and is super excited to prepare for a mission. He is 19 years old so that should be possible in the coming year! 

Along with the baptism of his little brother, a little kid got baptized who turned nine that same day. He should have gotten baptized a while back but his mom never told him what he should do and just let him stay home from church all the time. The family is getting a little bit stronger now but the dad is still inactive. He has a chewing problem he doesn't feel he can give up. The funny thing is that his grandson didn't want to give him a kiss because he said he eats weeds. The grandson is in the picture I will send. He is the one with the toy gun pointed at his head. The kid that got baptized is quite a handful. None of us knew he had it in the pictures. ha ha. 

We also got to do some service on a farm where we are visiting a kid (Walter the uncle of Franco who got baptized in November). It was really cool. I love going out there to teach him because the breeze comes through his farm. It’s so nice and quiet. They have huge avocado trees which will be ready in a month. And they have a couple fig trees too which I got to try. It was almost all the way ripe. What we did for service is we ground up, by hand, a bunch of corn for the chickens so he could come to church in the morning. It was fun! They gave us a juice called "chicha de maiz". They bake some dried corn just right then they grind it up really fine and boil it for 2 days! And then strain it a bit. It looked like water with D.E. in it! Or like mud but it was actually pretty good. The corn is naturally sweet so it doesn't need any sugar.
Before leaving we took a few pictures with my companion’s camera so you can see what the farm is like a little. Also before leaving I went to the bathroom... that is a very misleading word to use for that "outhouse" or whatever you want to call it. I first asked my companion if I should use the "outhouse" or the cactus plant... he told me to use the "outhouse". Reluctantly I walked over and opened the wood door that was about the height of my neck and ready to fall off... I ducked in and looked around the 3 foot square wood-floored room only to find a hole in the floor... I thought "where do they go?"... Then I saw a clue half way hanging in the hole and the other half on the wood floor. I was then hoping with all my heart the floor was not rotten because I was a good 30 minute walk from home... luckily it wasn't and it turned out to be a pretty entertaining discovery. I guess they just squat and there was no sign of paper so I really didn't want to ask. When I left it I told my comp. we aren't leaving until he checks it out. He came out quite entertained as well! ha ha Sorry to gross you out.
It was really hot so I washed off afterward to cool off. That’s why my tie is undone and my hair is all messed up. Don’t worry, I don't walk around like that. ha ha
In some of the pictures you can see the house they live in but not the outhouse. We’ll get one next time. We just happened to have his camera for the baptism later that day.
On our way out to the farm this kid on the corner jokingly told me to run away fast and then I realized he had a big knife in his hand. Then all his friends started laughing. I don't know what he was doing with it but I wasn't wanting to find out. Looked like he was thirteen years old! 

I’ve got to go. We stayed a bit late cause we went to find someone at the hospital today during visiting hours. I love you all very much!
Alex 








Tuesday, February 7, 2012

February 6, 2012      Tartagal   Argentina

Hi!
This week I learned alot but we didn’t have much success as far as how much we were able to get done. On Tuesday we had to go to Oran for our zone conference. We got up and left at 5 am and got back at 10:15 ish... it was a long day but we learned alot. One reason this week was a little difficult is because people are getting ready for the big carnival parties here. It’s called Corso (Corso Tartagal). It’s like a big dance competition/parade. The kids and people make alot of their own masks and outfits following a guideline so they are all very similar. It starts about 10:30 or 11(at night) and we aren’t out at that time. But at 8 or 9 they have the whole street blocked off every night from this last Friday till next Sunday night! If you want to you can look it up to see what it’s like. I guess it goes till 2 or 3 in the morning, sometimes later - one reason why we had only 80 or so in church.

One lady who we have been trying to reactivate, bore her testimony yesterday which was really cool. She now has gone 4 times and is considered active. That’s along with another guy whose wife is the president of the Relief Society. He is now active and he and his wife are hoping to go to the temple in a year. We are now just working with friends and family of alot of these people. We didn’t have a baptism this weekend but for sure on the 11th. All together in the ward there should be about 5 or so! Should be a very good experience for the ward and everyone that comes.

We had a good turnout for the YM activity today. We have been telling them all to bring friends and we invite inactive kids and now there are about 7 inactive kids and a few more that are starting to come. It just feels like God has prepared everyone here to really grow and help each other. It has been such a great blessing to be present here in Tartagal while Heavenly Father has been performing miracles. I will be very sad to leave but I very well could be changing areas the 20th of this month. Time just flies by!

Oh, so after zone conference we were encouraged to talk to everyone we can about the gospel. We were really pumped so two of the missionaries talked the bus driver into turning down the music and they talked to everyone a second and then we talked to all of the people on the bus and got their addresses. We talked to them until we got back to our town. It was a good experience because alot of people were interested to have the missionaries come to their home and visit. It made me think about that being a responsibility as members too and how to talk to everyone possible. It seemed like it would be difficult but I know it’s not impossible. It’s just getting out of our comfort zone like Peter did to walk to Jesus on the water. We have to get out of our comfort zone to learn and progress. 

This keyboard is horrible and I can’t see half of the keys so please excuse the bad spelling and everything. 
I have to get going but I love you all! One thing I noticed in the intro of the Book of Mormon is in the last sentence of the third paragraph. If you are looking for more peace in your life take a look at what it says there. I know it is true and that because of the restored gospel we are able to understand our purpose and what the important things in life are. I know that Heavenly Father loves all of his children equally and wants the best for everyone! If we only exercise a little faith and put the teaching of Christ into practice everyone can know for themselves the blessings and happiness that we are able to receive and that God has prepared for us. He is just waiting for us to do our part. 
I know the church is true through the Book of Mormon and praying to know of its truth. The Book of Mormon testifies of Christ and his sacrifice for us. It is impossible to return to live with him and our families if we don’t exercise faith and follow the teachings of him. He is our savior and redeemer! 

Love,
Alex  

January 30, 2012   Tartagal   Argentina

Hi!  

This week was a great one! My companion and I have been changing a lot of little things to just do better. We talk about everything and it works out. We just have to keep trying to do better than last week or yesterday or earlier in the day. It’s a constant thing that never ends - or at least in this life. I still remember what Brittany Wilson said about the mission before I left that when we think something needs to change or when something is bugging us alot of times its our "outlook" on what’s going on. When we change our outlook, our attitude changes about the situation. 

I feel so blessed to have the help of the Spirit to tell me when to and when not to say things or react a certain way. I like to go back to one of my favorite verses in the Book of Mormon - Mosiah 3:19. It helps me keep trying and keep going back to my Heavenly Father to have his Spirit in order to make good or better decisions. I know that we were given what we needed to follow the example of Jesus Christ. we just have to take advantage of it (the Spirit) by always being worthy of it. 

This week we had a baptism of a kid named Leonel Orellana. He is 14 years old and has two younger siblings who are not baptized yet but they should be ready this Saturday. The parents weren´t coming to church but the mom has started to come to be with the kids. There are some older kids, the oldest being 23, who we are working on bringing back to church too. They are just one of the nicest families I have worked with. The oldest kid was going to church and when he turned 19 he wanted to go on a mission. His mom didn’t let him because she wanted him to be a border patrol. I think she was inactive at the time. He lost all his excitement and went to be a border patrol. 

This week the girl that lost three babies before they were born came down to Tartagal today to come to church and visit family for 15 days. The mission president said that with their desire they can be baptized with a minimum of coming twice to church. Then they should come once a month to renew their baptism covenants until he can get the priesthood and bless the sacrament in his home! He has to work so it’s going to be harder for him to come down to go to church but we will see what happens. Maybe his wife will lead the way first since she has a little more time.

We had another successful Sunday! There were 115 yesterday in church. It’s hanging out around that number because when someone comes, someone else doesn´t make it. It has really helped me as a missionary to be looking at these numbers and thinking about how we can help it grow. We have been doing all we can to lighten the load of the branch president and it has been working out well because he has alot more excitement to keep going also. He just called 5 members to different callings after we gave him a list of people and possible callings. Hopefully he will continue to call people every Sunday this month! we’ll see how that goes.

We now have a Young Men’s president and teacher for the Sunday school class of the young men and women. We were teaching that a few times. We also now have a refreshed Young Women’s presidency which is going to help alot. Between the young men and women we are going to work to get alot of kids coming back to church. The Young Men’s president is the guy that just got married and reactivated when we baptized Melina his wife. We just played soccer as an activity today which seems to bring alot of them. 

Melina just got called to the Young Women’s presidency. It is so cool to see them with such a strong desire to continue and to help others keep going. Even before they were called, they were going and visiting with a couple of the families. We also just had our 5th Sunday lesson on visiting and home teaching. Our numbers here werent the best... 4 families out of 250 visited and 9 sisters were visited. People shared experiences and they are all very motivated. We hardly could meet together in the biggest room available because the other branch uses the sacrament meeting room during that hour. It was a very stuffy class but very spiritual too.
 
Well I’d better get going.
 Happy Birthday to Ryan Hollander! 

I love you all and thank you for your love and support! Thank you all for the Christmas cards! Please forgive me if I haven´t gotten back to you!

Love,
Alex