Dear wonderful people who read my letters,
Well it´s time to bust out the Martinelli´s and sing some Auld Lang Syne because it´s the end of 2012. Or so they tell me. Not sure if I believe that yet, but I´m pretty sure this was the fastest year of my life. And the fastest week. No joke. I must say this was the first Christmas week that I have been dying of heat. While all of you Utahns were enjoying a white Christmas up in Mormonville, we enjoyed a breezy one. Happy Windsday Owl.
So Christmas celebrations! I imagine that that would be some crucial information! Well Monday we left the cyber after calling home on Skype and headed towards Mama Olga and Flaco´s house. And let me tell you. That was so much fun. First off we get there and find out that the Bolsa had made it from the office and that Elder Lobato had received an envelope. With many mixed feelings we opened up his Trunky Papers that include not only a commitment to finish his mission running, but also his travel itinerary for his flights home on April 20th. What a lovely little Christmas present from President Lovell right? I cannot believe it´s almost been a year since he came to look for me up in Neuquen, and now he´s got two transfers left in the mission. Have I mentioned how happy I am that we´re serving together again?
So Christmas Eve! We had the most delicious dinner of my life. I am not sure how but Mama and Flaco just know what they are doing in the kitchen. Every bit was absolutely delicious. We laughed, told stories of the mission with the family and other missionaries, and we even had a toast after desert! I cannot express with words how amazing this family is. Can you believe that they only were baptized 6 months ago this week???? We finished the festivities on Monday with carols and as we were leaving, we were invited to come back for lunch the next day.
So we did! Please refer to the photo of the asado. Dear world, I´m convinced that I died and went to heaven this week. My mouth is still watering. Yes I know I´m talking a lot about food. But Argentines are pretty big about their meals, especially on holidays. Flaco taught us some of his tricks on Tuesday afternoon, and I´m pretty sure that that was the best lunch I´ve had in my life. We even had cow kidney and small intestine and I´m not going to lie it was delicious. Even the hermanas tried some!
Well after Christmas we got right back to work. And of course, being in this mission work means travel! We had to head out to Villa Regina on Wednesday for a baptismal interview, and that night we were back with our investigators. So it´s time to make sure you all know who Paola is. My first week here in Roca we met her. Paola is a neighbor to the Costa family, and this is the second time she has met the missionaries. She´s already come to church and is reading and praying. But this last week was when we turned the heat up getting her ready for baptism this next Saturday. Last week she said over and over that she just wasn´t sure. After one of the most amazing lessons on prayer I have ever had pretty much everyone in the room was in tears. After a bit of silence we asked Paola if she wanted to be baptized, and smiling, she said yes. She knows. And it´s changed who she is and what she wants from life. She´s only 14 years old but she has an incredible testimony. She blew us away even more on Saturday and Sunday when she invited her cousin Asuzena to a lesson AND to church! I´m ridiculously impatient for Saturday. It´s going to be amazing. We get to meet more of Paola´s family this week, and we´re hoping to start working with the rest of them soon. After spending Sunday in the chapel, Asuzena told us she wants to keep meeting with us and wants to meet with the missionaries back in Cipoletti where she lives. I love missionary work. It´s something amazing. We share the same simple message day after day. But every single time I do I find myself smiling and with a heart full of love. And I have seen what the simple profound but powerful effect that the Restored Gospel has in the lives of God´s Children. The Church, my friends, is true.
So it´s time to share what I consider to be my personal Christmas Gift from Heaven this week. And it starts two months ago in Comodoro. The Venegas family is one of the families that Elder McAllister and I helped to reactivate. One day we were passing by their house and Hermana Venegas flagged us down. She knew I was just about to head up to Neuquén and asked if I would be seeing missionaries from another area. Turns out that her mother in law just happened to be living in the ward where Elder Smith (my old comp) was serving. In Allen. A half an hour to the west of Roca. This relative, Verta, has been an investigator for 15 years. Pays tithing, comes to church every week, everything. She just has not been married. Well so the day before talking to Hermana Venegas, Verta called and told the family that she wanted to be baptized by the end of the year, and she wanted her son Gorge Venegas to perform the ordinance. Two days later I was talking to Elder Smith giving him the information. Just wait it gets better. Remember the Promise of 21 days we were doing awhile back. Name number 1 on the list of the familia Venegas was Verta. Two weeks before leaving Comodoro, Hno. Venegas comes up to us in tears to tell us that Verta had gotten married two days before, and that she would be baptized on teh 29th of December. Still going to get better.
Transfers come on the 8th of December. The Zone Leaders tell me that I´m headed up to Roca as a Zone Leader with my trainer Elder Lobato. That night as I´m falling asleep I realize that a certain investigator would be in my zone named Verta Vera. As I said goodbye to the Venegas Family the next morning in church I told them it was very possible that I would be seeing them very soon in Allen. Fast forward to Saturday. Elder Lobato and I got on a bus out to Allen and arrived at the chapel. After 15 years of waiting, Verta Vera and her entire family, including her son Gorge and his family, showed up at the chapel for her baptismal interview and service. After praying for two months for this incredible sister, I had the miraculous opportunity to perform her baptismal interview. And I have never felt so humble, or so grateful for the absolute mercy in God´s plan for us. Never before has the testimony of someone so humble, so faithful penetrated me to the core. I can only imagine how many prayers had been offered in the 15 years up until Saturday. And I can only sit back in awe of the testimony of this amazing woman. All she wants is to go back to her Father´s house with her family in tow. And she has paid the price of 15 years to finally make a covenant with her Heavenly Father and Savior. In the attached photo, Verta is the woman in the middle of the photo. Included are the elders that taught her, her husband, a son, a daughter, and their families. The plan of God for us is centered on families. And when I see this photo I know that His hand is in everything. Because it was a miracle that we all got there.
I love my mission. I love it more that anything else I´ve ever done or thought of doing. I had the greatest Christmas of my life this year. I couldn´t imagine receiving a better Christmas gift than this Gospel and what it has brought me. And what it brings the people that it blesses. I know what I´m doing is the work of God. It has the power to change the lives of His children. There is nothing that Christ cannot help us do. I look forward to 2013 as an even brighter year. It´s going to be a year of miracles, and I cannot wait another second to see what they will be. I love each and every one of you for praying for me, for writing me, for reading my letters, and hoping the best for me and those I serve. I am the luckiest guy alive. Have an incredible new years, and I will write again next Monday!
A very happy Elder Davis