Hola familia y amigos!
Sooo lets start with the good stuff. This week it was Elder Erickson’s birthday (21 baby!!!!) and Thanksgiving! For thanksgiving we bought a milanesa sandwich with fries and a dozen empanadas and feasted. It was the best. I have video. Anyways….
This week was….. hard. To say the least. We were super excited to work hard and have an incredible week at first. We contacted like a million people, walked super fast to every person that we were going to meet with, and we endured a lot of rejection. But, we were determined and we kept working harder and harder. I don’t think I’ve worked harder one week in my whole mission/life.
But despite our best efforts allll this week, it was the absolute worst week of my mission (looking at the numbers). We taught 4 lessons (1/4 or 1/5 of what we usually teach), we had 26 different appointments cancel on us (only 2 of 28 actually let us in. The other 2 lessons were unplanned in contacts). We found 5 new investigators because of the 120 contacts we did this week (5 is about half or 1/3 of the new investigators we usually find every week). Nobody came to church. And nobody is progressing because they didn´t come to church.
You might wonder (as I have) Why, if I am working harder than I ever have before, am I seeing the worst results than ever before. I can’t come up with a perfect answer but I know there is one. I know there is a reason for failure and for disappointment. Sometimes being a missionary is hard. But there is comfort to be found in the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Elder Holland once said this to new mission presidents:
“Why is this so hard? Why doesn’t it go better? Why can’t our success be more rapid? Why aren’t there more people joining the Church? It is the truth. We believe in angels. We trust in miracles. Why don’t people just flock to the font? Why isn’t the only risk in missionary work that of pneumonia from being soaking wet all day and all night in the baptismal font?
You will have occasion to ask those questions. I have thought about this a great deal. I offer this as my personal feeling. I am convinced that missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience. Salvation never was easy. We are The Church of Jesus Christ, this is the truth, and He is our Great Eternal Head. How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him? It seems to me that missionaries and mission leaders have to spend at least a few moments in Gethsemane. Missionaries and mission leaders have to take at least a step or two toward the summit of Calvary.
Now, please don’t misunderstand. I’m not talking about anything anywhere near what Christ experienced. That would be presumptuous and sacrilegious. But I believe that missionaries and investigators, to come to the truth, to come to salvation, to know something of this price that has been paid, will have to pay a token of that same price.
For that reason, I don’t believe missionary work has ever been easy, nor that conversion is, nor that retention is, nor that continued faithfulness is. I believe it is supposed to require some effort, something from the depths of our soul.
If He could come forward in the night, kneel down, fall on His face, bleed from every pore, and cry, “Abba, Father (Papa), if this cup can pass, let it pass,” 16 then little wonder that salvation is not a whimsical or easy thing for us. If you wonder if there isn’t an easier way, you should remember you are not the first one to ask that. Someone a lot greater and a lot grander asked a long time ago if there wasn’t an easier way.
The Atonement will carry the missionaries perhaps even more importantly than it will carry the investigators. When you struggle, when you are rejected, when you are spit upon and cast out and made a hiss and a byword, you are standing with the best life this world has ever known, the only pure and perfect life ever lived. You have reason to stand tall and be grateful that the Living Son of the Living God knows all about your sorrows and afflictions. The only way to salvation is through Gethsemane and on to Calvary. The only way to eternity is through Him—the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”
The Atonement is carrying me right now. I am so grateful for Him and His love and His support. Every time my father in heaven stretches and tests me I grow stronger and more humble. I recognize Him and his hand in my life every day.
If anybody is in a situation that they think that they can´t handle, I am here to tell you, drawing experience from what little sorrow I have experienced and dealt with, in that moment when you feel like you can’t take one more step, He will be there to carry you. So keep walking and keep trying. When the Lord sees fit he will step in and help. And when that help comes in a big way, you will realize that He was with you the entire way.
I love you all so much. I am so very very happy to be here in Argentina and, even though I miss you all, I know I am exactly where I need to be.
Livin´ the Dream,
Hola mi queridísimo familia y amigos!
It was an awesome and frustrating week to say the least. Sound confusing? Welcome to the life of a missionary. You leave your apartment, walk like 6 or 7 miles uphill and downhill and then back uphill, only to have the door slammed in your face. Every one of your 6 or 7 appointments fall through, and you get called a liar. But, just when you think you’re having a bad day somebody lets you into their house and there you get to testify of the love of God for all of us, his son Jesus Christ, and the truthfulness of the Restoration of the Gospel. You leave that house that was just filled with the spirit and the love of our Heavenly Father, only to be rejected by more people as you search for the people that God has prepared to receive the restored gospel and all of its blessings. Then after 6 or 7 hours of that in the heat, you get back to your apartment absolutely exhausted, fall on your knees to pray, and thank your Heavenly Father with all the depth of your heart for every moment you get to do this work and to carry the name of His son Jesus Christ. It’s never easy, and sometimes it isn´t fun or encouraging either but it is by far the greatest, most faith building experience I have ever had and I´m grateful for every second of it.
Anyways yeah. It was kind of a rough week day to day but it ended with so much joy!!!
PAOLA DOMINGUEZ WAS BAPTIZED ON SATURDAY AND CONFIRMED YESTERDAY!!!
Together, my companion, Paola, and I fasted and prayed that the hearts of her family would be softened. After 2 years she finally sat down to talk with her mom about her decision to be baptized and her mom finally said that she will not be happy for her decision at all but she won´t kick her out of the house or anything. She even came to her baptism with some of Paola´s sisters! It was a great day and a wonderful service and the spirit was definitely there!
And yesterday I had the very special experience of performing her confirmation in Sacrament meeting! It was incredible and the spirit was sooooo strong as I gave that blessing.
I love the Lord. I know that he lives and loves us. I know that He guides this work and every one of his servants. I LOVE ARGENTINA AND ALL OF YOU!
Livin´ the Dream,
ps. I have now lost about 51 pounds in the mission
pps everyone is starting buy christmas stuff and I love it even though its weird because its hot outside
ppps. I can’t speak English. Literally. Sometimes I try and I literally can’t stop talking in Spanish. It sucks but I love it.
pppps. Empanadas are soooooooooooooooooooo good here in Salta
Well I can actually write today! I know you all (or at least my mom) are dying for some info so here’s the lowdown.
Last week in Tucumán: My last week in Tucuman was really good! Just a regular old week though haha! The whole week before transfers we usually take pictures with everyone just in case we are transferred but I was SO SURE that I was going to stay that I took like 5 pictures. Luckily the day of transfers I had my head on straight and took some more. I was in the house of investigators when we got the call that I was being transferred to Mitre in Salta. We called all the people we knew that night to say bye and after I packed until like one and we left at like 7 the next day. The cool thing about transfers is that you can be really really frank with people and nothing bad happens. For example, an investigator Silvia needs to keep the law of chastity to be baptized and she really wants to be baptized but doesn’t want to get married. I said to her “Silvia, I love you, and I want you to be happy, and I know the only way you can be really happy is by making sacred covanents with God like you do at baptism. So, Silvia, You need to either marry Lucho or kick him out of your house or you won’t be baptized and will never be truly happy”
Silvia’s Response: “Bueno mi hijo, lo voy a pensar” (Alright, my child I’ll think about that) (I absolutely love that the older ladies say mi hijo because it makes me think of a grandma from alabama.) And then I left!
I got to Salta and met my companion Elder Erickson from Idaho. He is super cool! 18 months in his mission, super funny (our sense of humor is exactly the same lol) and we have a ton in common. We make a good team! Anyways we got here, found out we were whitewashing and they left us to our own devices. We didn’t have a dang clue of what to do. We had 2 or 3 names of investigators from the other elders, a horrible map of the area, a badly kept area book, and we didn’t even have a clue how to get to our area or where it was (we were living outside of our area but we have since moved into our area). It was rough going at first and we were reeeeaaallly stressed but if there is one thing I´ve learned in the mission it’s that the Lord doesn’t want us to be comfortable because if we´re comfortable we don’t progress. Well we continue to work with the AWESOME members of the ward and its getting good. We even have a baptism this Saturday! Her name is Paola Dominguez and she is an “eternal investigator” aka she has been investigating the church for about 2 years now. Her family has been holding her back form being baptized because they are going to disown her and shun her if she’s baptized but she will be this Saturday! Please Pray for her to have the strength to go through with it!
We also had a mission conference on Saturday! The entire mission was here in Salta to hear from Elder Cook, President Soares of the Presidency of the70 and Elder Texeira of the 70. It was crazy. I got to see all my mission friends and even Elder Huaman. We took a mission picture and we shook the hands of the authorities. The talks were super powerful and we received so much revelation for our area and our missions. What really hit me from the talk of Elder Cook (there’s like 50 things but I mention this) was his testimony of the savior Jesus Christ and his reality. When he spoke and bore withness the spirit touched my heart and He became more real to me than He has ever been before. I add my witness to those of the prophets and disciples of Christ, both ancient and modern, that Jesus Christ lives. That he is the son of God, the savior and redeemer of the world. I bear testimony of His love for us and of his living reality. The spirit of The Lord has made this known unto me and I cannot deny it. I invite all of you to seek your own testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ and of his atoning sacrifice because a knowledge of Him and His love for us changes lives. I know that God lives and loves me and I am so grateful to be a small part of his work and glory. I love this work and I love you all!
Livin´ the Dream,
Hey everyone I’m alive!
Sorry I didn’t get to write last week and now I only have about 5 minutes to write now.
Well I’ve been transferred and I’m in Salta capital and in an area called Mitre 1. My new comp is Elder Erickson from Idaho and he has about a year and a half in his mission. Aaaaaaaand we’re whitewashing this area! (Means both missionaries are new to the area)
So we get to the apartment with the assistants and they just leave us there with our stuff. We live waaaay outside of our area so we had NO CLUE what to do or even how to get to our area. So we looked for a place to write for 2 HOURS and didn’t find a thing so we couldn’t write last week.
It has been a bit of a rough week because not only did we not know our area, we didn’t know if we had any investigators from the other elders because they hadn’t written in the area book in the last 2 months! So we basically started from scratch! We have a ton of help from the members of the ward (THIS WARD IS HUGE we have about 1000 members in our area and 150 or so active members and THEY ARE ALL SO EXCITED TO HELP IN THE WORK). Tender mercies baby! By now we know our way around 2 of the barrios (think neighborhoods but waaay bigger) of the 5 that we have and we have some great investigators! But seriously keep praying for us! We need all the help that we can get!
I hope some of this made sense.
Although I feel like I know nothing sometimes, I can lean on my testimony of the Savior and His work! I know that the Lord won’t let us fail here because the stakes are too high.
Love you all,
ps. sorry for the short sucky letter without pictures, it will be better next week!