Happy 9th of November!!!
I for some reason have some blurred memories of this day a couple years ago. Something about taking a head dive into learning a second language and beginning to live out of two large suitcases… No biggie. But wow how the time has flown. And I don´t even want to think about how fast this week went by as well as that we´re on the tail end of week 3 this transfer.
Well since last Sunday we have been going again at a breakneck pace with all of our conferences and trainings that we have this month. But we were quite happy to stay here in Comodoro all week. Travel is great. But travel is exhausting. 🙂 We started out the week with the zone conference with the Comodoro zone down on the other side of the hill. Somehow this zone didn´t end up quite as young as some of the other zones in the mission, and most of the missionaries in the zone are all native Spanish speakers, so that threw us for a loop. (Most of the other zones have several new missionaries from the states who are still getting their feet on the ground with the mission language.) It, as always was a great conference. Coolest part was when one of the companionships invited their investigator to attend the conference so that we could ask her questions. Elba showed up and she spent about 20 minutes talking to us about how she feels about the missionaries, going to church, the Book of Mormon, and a few other topics. It was really interesting to see what questions were asked and what were the answers that she gave us. We closed the zone conference with a testimony meeting. Elder Guevara, one of my really good friends, is one of the zone leaders in the Comodoro Zone and he and I bore our testimonies to start off. Testimony meetings are incredible when you have amazing missionaries together.
And then Tuesday rolled around. It was our first day in the office for most of the transfer, and there was plenty of work that needed to be done. The missionaries from Tierra del Fuego that were coming up for the council also rolled in in the afternoon and so we had a meeting with one of the zone leader companionships to make some plans on how we can help out one of the zones that is not doing so well. We made plans to improve the temporal circumstances of the zone, the training of the missionaries there, and also goals to spiritually uplift the missionaries that are serving in the zone. It was quite the learning experience to be in a meeting with President Rogers and the zone leaders of how to help out a group that is struggling to progress. We´re just going through some growing pains as some of the places that we have missionaries are quite remote and that makes it quite hard to open new areas. But thanks to our awesome leaders, everything is beginning to go a bit smoother. After the meeting Elder Almiron and I spent the rest of the evening preparing and studying for the Mission Leadership Council the next day. It was a long day, and it ended rather late. Typical for the nights before the council.
The council was amazing! With our two new zones and a new Sister Training Leader added to the ranks the cultural hall in the chapel was full of the best missionaries we could ever hope to have here in Comodoro. They came so prepared to teach and to receive counsel on how to help their areas and missionaries to progress. President Rogers took time to pass along teachings received from the area presidency and conducted a question and answer session, Hermana Rogers did a training on constantly teaching of and from the Book of Mormon, Elder Almiron gave a training on finding and teaching families and I taught on working together in unity. President Rogers asked me to talk about our missionary-member plan MMT, as well as Elder Ballard´s invitation to the members of the church in conference, and also the goal that every day each companionship prays for three things: first to find and teach families and future priesthood holders, second, to progress towards each companionship baptizing every month, and to have a temple here in the Patagonia. After the morning session we headed over to the mission home and ended with a testimony meeting. Most all of the missionaries in my group are either zone leaders or sister training leaders, and being that our release date is the first week of December, this was the last MLC for 8 of us. Poor President Rogers for the first time had a visual of who are the leaders that won´t be here next month. But the testimonies were amazing. The Spirit was so strong as missionaries that have become spiritual giants shared just a few of the precious truths that are so important to them. Sister Rogers remarked that it was clear to see that God had prepared such a group and held them in reserve to help do the work of opening and establishing a new mission.
It´s still pretty upsetting for me that I won´t be in the next MLC here in the mission. But we are all more than excited to see the mission grow in the future.
Well the council day came and went. Thursday we were back in the office in the morning, but in the afternoon we headed out to do exchanges with the zone leaders in the Comodoro zone. Elder Nicol was my companion for the day and we headed out to my area in La Prida. It was quite the interesting day. It started off sunny with no wind and we did service for one of the part member families that we are teaching. And then the wind started and then it started raining. Apart from the part member family we didn´t manage to get in any houses for a formal lesson but we did have a more than a fair share of miracles. We had the commitment to talk to everyone in the street as well as to contact a few references that we have had pending for a while. Well Elder Nicol felt that we needed to knock on a door as we were leaving a less active´s house. And that is how we met Jorge. We talked to him and after taking out a Plan of Salvation pamphlet, he told us that his mom is in the hospital with cancer and that he really needed to listen to us. So he invited us to come back next weekend after going to take care of his mom. A couple of hours later we made the last stop of passing by a reference that we got from a family of members. Her name is Sandra and she has been super hard to track down. Well by that time it was pouring rain, we were both soaked, and the wind was roaring. Outside we said a quick prayer that the wind would calm down so that the family would hear us knocking. Well it did. But there was no one home. So we turned up back the road to head back out of the neighborhood. Thirty seconds later Sandra passed by in her car. She didn´t have time then, but she did say yes to an appointment that we have today at 6:30. Why yes I do believe in miracles. 🙂
And yesterday. Yesterday was Friday. And we had another zone conference! We had it here in the office chapel with the newly divided Comodoro North zone! This one was quite the interesting mix of missionaries but it went really well. We love our zone leaders, being that this is our home zone. (Elder McAllister is one of them) For both of these conferences a member that is from the Centro ward made pizza. It was soo good. After the conference we met with President Rogers and finalized the list of areas that we are opening next transfer. We´re opening five more areas, including an area of sisters in Las Heras!!! Woohooo!!! It´s gonna be great. We also did a bit more work on preparing for Elder Zeballos and the tour he will do with us in a couple weeks. And then before you knew it we had to drop Pte. Rogers off at his house. We would have left but Sister Rogers said that she needed help fixing the internet. So we did. It just took a while. And then it was time to go home.
And here we are in the office writing letters again. We´re about to go downtown for the rest of the afternoon to unwind in our fist p-day in almost a month. I don´t even know what to do with myself in all this free time. But tonight! We have that appointment with Sandra and then we´re going to the baptism that the other office elders have!!! We´re really excited. Can you tell? And then next week it´s off to the north for the week! We´re going to be doing two more zone conferences and exchanges with our three zone leader companionships up in that direction before heading back next Friday. And being that we love Trelew and Madryn, it´s gonna be great.
Well can´t end without something spiritual. So I´ll end with two scriptures:
14 And again, the angel said: Behold, the Lord hath aheard the prayers of his people, and also the bprayers of his servant, Alma, who is thy father; for he has cprayed with much faith concerning thee that thou mightest be brought to the dknowledge of the truth; therefore, for this purpose have I come to econvince thee of the power and authority of God, that the fprayers of his servants might be answered according to their faith.
13 Is any among you aafflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.
I love the power of prayer. It is the best. If there is a problem. Pray. If things are going well. Pray. If you need to get something off your chest, be it good or bad. Pray. The greatest blessings of my life have come from the prayers that I have expressed from my heart. And it is the same for all of us. We can change our lives and the lives of others by getting down right now and saying that prayer that will help us come closer to our Heavenly Father as we use our will to accomplish his purposes. In General Conference Elder Ballard asked each one of us as members of the church to go and find one person that we can invite to come unto Christ. He promised us that millions of lives will be blessed as we work together in this simple, quiet, but powerful objective. So let us pray. Let us find out who it is that God wants us to go and invite. And let us pray to have the words that He would use if it were Him in our place. We will see miracles if we do. Until next week!
Eh I figure it´s better to respond in that way instead of trying out denial. Well this week flew by. Last thing I recall we were still down in the south starting off the mission tour with Rio Gallegos and Ushuaia. That went by really fast. Tuesday we had a nice morning buying some much needed furniture for the elders that just opened a new area in El Calafate, and then we speedily hurried over to a quick lunch and then straight to the airport. So we normally fly on an airline named Sol. You know the teeny tiny 30 seat puddle jumpers I keep mentioning. Well this time around we were able to book a flight on Aerolineas Argentinas which flies 737s. Another difference is that Sol always leaves about an hour later than the posted schedule. So when we got to the airport at 3:00 for our 3:30 flight we were expecting a laid back check in process with some waiting time on the other end of security. Nope. As soon as we came through the door the agent asked us if we were the Rogers and said that we were the last ones to get on the plane. So we sprinted from check out to security up the stairs to the gate and to our seats. Ended up taking off at 3:17. Well at least we got to Ushuaia plenty early.
We got off the plane and headed out to work with the Zone Leaders in their area. They are doing really well and just baptized the week before. So Elder Smith and I teamed up to go and check up on their investigators and some of the less actives that they are working with. Andino is a really cool branch. Wish we had more than a couple hours to work there though.
The next morning we had the zone conference for Ushuaia and I just love that zone. So receptive and ready to be taught. Some of the best missionaries we have in the mission are down there. This time around I had the time to teach from Chapter 11 of Preach My Gospel which talks about the commitments of the missionary lessons. I love teaching from that chapter. In addition I also gave my presentation from Moses 6. My favorite part of the conference though is the practice that President Rogers does for making inspired questions and his lesson on having faith not fear. Is it weird being in several zone conferences each and every transfer? Yup. But you learn a lot. And it is more than intriguing to feel and see the difference between the zones that we have in the mission.
During the conference we had a super cool thing happen though. As we were just starting our testimony meeting we heard someone come through the front door of the chapel. Elder Smith was giving his testimony and Elder Almiron and I went out to check what was up. Well in the lobby we found a couple and at first didn´t have success trying to talk to them in Spanish. But as we began to speak in English so did they. Turns out that the couple are from Slovenia and were in town on the cruise ship that was docked for the day in Ushuaia. They had come by the church and had walked in thinking that it was a museum after looking at the Family History Sign. So we started to talk about family history and he told me that he´s got a few lines back a few hundred years but that lately he has been getting stuck. So I told him that we would be glad to help and talked about the Plan of Salvation and how it makes family history so important. At the end I wrote down his contact information and he asked me to send missionaries to his house next February when his cruise is over. While I was talking to him, Elder Almiron was busy teaching his wife the restoration in English. Pretty darn cool. There is just something about being in the right place at the right time prepared to do what the Lord needs you to do. Like teaching the Strucs from Slovenia in Ushuaia about the Gospel. Who knew that they, just as Elder Almiron and I would literally have to go to the end of the earth so that they could hear the Gospel message. 🙂
Well not more than just a few minutes after the zone conference was over we got back over to the airport to make what was our 5:25 flight. When we got there we repeated the same exact experience as before and we were in the air at 4:45. No joke. So we got to El Calafate, ran a couple of quick errands for President, picked up his car and started our way out to Rio Gallegos. (President and Sister Rogers decided to fly home instead of driving, so Elder Almiron and I had the pleasure of picking up their car. No problem.) So we got to Gallegos a couple of hours later and stayed the night. Next morning it was out on the road again for the 9 hour drive back to Comodoro. The real irony is that President and Sister Rogers, flying back on Sol had thier flight delayed by almost two hours so they got back only an hour before we did. Fun part is that the night before Hermana Salazar from Mexico arrived. So she had spent the night with the Carters and had part of her orientation in the morning. So in the afternoon Elder Almiron President and I gave her a quick version of our new missionary training and got her on the bus that night headed down to Rio Gallegos where she will be in a trio for the rest of the transfer. While we were waiting for her bus Elder Almiron met Alejandro from Mar de Plata and placed a Book of Mormon, and I started talking to a family that was on their way to vacations in Rio Gallegos. They are the Reales family that live in the La Prensa ward. They have 4 kids 13 grandchildren and 51 great grandchildren and most live in the same apartment complex. The great grandmother, a couple of her daughters, and a granddaughter were on their way out of town. So Hermana Salazar began talking to them as well and we ended up giving them some pamphlets and were invited to go by their house. Hooray for talking to everyone!
Friday we headed back to the office to get slammed by the backlog of work that the rest of the office workers have been suffering under since transfers. Long day. But we are so much more on our feet these days.
And then Saturday we headed down to zone conference and district conference in Caleta Olivia! 🙂 🙂 🙂 Out of any place I have served, this is the zone that I call home. I just love going back. The zone is so incredibly strong right now. We had a great conference, and we loved hearing the testimonies of the missionaries there. Caleta Olivia has 8 companionships and 7 of the junior companions are in their first 12 weeks in the field. So you can imagine how old I felt as i was the only one giving an end of the mission testimony. What can ya do? The district conference was also amazing. I love the district presidency and each of the branch presidents. I wish I could have the time to be assigned to that zone in any one of those branches. Some great things are about to happen. Today in the general session we had an incredible 12 investigators in attendance. Some of them are investigators I taught and met back in the day, and 3 were investigators that Elder Brunson and I found when we were on exchanges. You get to the point on the mission where you see a whole lot clearer those small and simple things. It has been such a good week.
And here we are end of week 2 of the transfer. Well it ain´t over till it´s over. So much more left to do. This week we have Mission Leadership council and the zone conference with both the Comodoro zones. So it´s going to be a great week of teaching and service. We´re pretty excited to be staying here in Comodoro all week as well. Time to sprint in our area!
This week during the conferences a scripture that President has been sharing lately has stuck with me. It´s found in D&C 6:
Sometimes we feel like we are alone, or that we are far too few, or too weak, or too tired to keep doing what is expected of us. But I love remembering that I am a son of God. And when I am about His work, He will give me His help. I love seeing His hand in all things and seeing how through little works of good, great miracles begin to show forth. I just dare you to try it out. Because if we build on His rock, nothing can prevail against us. Romans 8 has a pretty good way of summing up how I feel about the future of this work.
Well it´s time to go. Have the best of weeks, and I´ll write again after making the most of mine!
So I wrote this a couple days ago but it never sent. Whoops. Here it is though!
I am alive! Haha and I`m in El Calafate too! Bet you weren`t expecting that one, now were ya? These last two weeks have been INSANE! Well we made it out to Trelew and had plenty of success out there. Things are really picking up with the members and we opened quite a few new areas in that end of the mission this transfer. We even made it up to the branch Sierra Grande at the tip top of the mission. It looks like we are going to try and send elders either this transfer or next up there. Our trip up north went by super fast and before we knew it we were headed back to Comodoro on Saturday night.
Sunday last we went to our ward in Kilometros! Which was quite the score because it just happened to be the day of the Primary Program. We have the best primary in the world. The other companionships in the ward also had brought investigators and less actives to church so it was quite special to feel the Spirit that comes when kids get up and give simple and direct testimonies through primary songs and thier simple messages. After church we spent the afternoon with Elder Barnwell who although is from my group, headed home last week for schooling reasons. Because President and Sister Rogers were about to be in Bariloche all week for the Mission President Seminar, the only day that we had to do the interview and traditional dinner for Elder Barnwell was Sunday night.
And then the next day Elder Almiron and I took President and Sister Rogers to the airport. Right in the middle of transfers. Haha that was a party. Luckily these transfers went really smoothly albeit that we opened up 12 areas and we were preparing to receive 24 new missionaries. No biggie. So Elder Almiron and I spent most of the mornings last week going out to purchase all of the umpteen things that are needed for the new missionary`s arrival and training. Everything from forks and napkins to cereal to sandwiches. We were quite happy to go out to our area and make some progress with the references that we have been receiving lately. We finally tracked down Octavio and met his parents! We have an appointment for next week! Finally!
Most of our time in the office lately has been helping Elder Carter, one of our senior missionaries get out from under all the work that he has been buried under lately. He has been trying to open up and find all of these new housing locations and furnish them, so you can imagine that it has been quite the frazzling job. So we helped him out with the cell phones in the mission and a few other organizational things last week. The work just never ends.
Well then arrived all too soon Thursday night. We drove the trucks up to the airport to meet President Rogers and the entourage of 28 missionaries that came in on the same plane as him. I promise I`ll be sending out the photos of them with all their luggage. We barely had room for everyone! It took two 20 passenger buses in addition to our three trucks to ship all of the missionaries and their luggage to the Mission Home, Carter Home, and the Casa Grande. Elder Carter even had to buy a couple more beds and mattresses because we had never received a group so big before. But apart from all of the work it takes, the new missionary arrival is the best part of the transfer. They are so full of energy and excitement. We received 14 Elders and 10 Sisters, and almost every one of them is from the States. So not too much Spanish speaking there yet.
Friday we spent the day training and meeting with the new missionaries. President Rogers was in interviews for about 6 or 7 hours throughout the day getting to know each one. They spent the morning with the office staff and in the afternoon President, Sister Rogers, Elder Almiron and I gave trainings on items from obedience, to planning, to teaching.
The big dance last week though was Saturday when the trainers arrived. They started coming in at about 4:30 and by 9:30 we had 24 trainers and 24 trainees in the chapel and the 8 of us in the office. Yeah, you should have seen the lunch that we had to prepare for the 56 missionaries that we had there. The thing that is really nuts is how ridiculously young our mission is. Most of our trainers have downwards of 8 months in the mission, and a few of them have around 6. Almost every companionship that we have in the mission right now is training. But we love that all the same. Our mission is growing really fast. After lunch we started sending off the missionaries to their areas, and Elder Almiron and I took truck load after truck load out to the bus terminal. These missionaries came with so much luggage. That actually turned out to be a problem at 11:00 when the bus that was headed for Rio Gallegos was finally about to leave. (It was supposed to leave at9:00, but hey what can ya do?) The zone leaders in the terminal called us and said that the bus company was going to charge us for overweight fees because we had over 20 giant suitcases stuffed in the bottom of the bus. Well the fun part is that all of the ticket booths were closed so there was no one to pay and they for some reason wouldn`t bill it to our account. Happily though, they had already put all of the luggage on the bus, and had no desire to take a single bag out so we ended up sending the missionaries all the same after giving the chofer $500 pesos. So our day that started at the terminal at 4:30 finally ended at midnight with our missionaries on their way to the end of the world.
And then we got up Sunday morning to head out to where we are now! President Rogers wanted to hold the Rio Gallegos Zone Conference here in El Calafate so we could take the missionaries to see the Perito Moreno glacier. So we left at 8:30 and stopped for Sacrament Meeting in Pico Truncado. (Yeah, I was pretty happy to be there again. 🙂 ) And then we kept going not on the normal route 3 that we almost always take, but on the route 40 which is on the other side of the country and is the tail end of Argentine`s version of Route 66. It was quite the drive. Why? Because 200 km of the road isn´t paved. So it took awhile. But we got to El Calafate and had the chance to meet a bunch of the branch members.
The next day the zone of Rio Gallegos arrived pretty early and we headed out in the morning to the glacier Perito Moreno for a p-day activity. It was really cool. We had already seen the glacier a few months back, but this time around we had a ton more time to stay in the park and we also went on a boat to get even closer to the higher section in the lake. In the afternoon we headed back into town and had a zone conference.
And here I am in El Calafate writing this letter. I cannot believe that it is already the end of October. Time is going really fast, and this transfer is already going way too fast for my taste. Tomorrow we head out to Ushuaia for a day. We´ll have zone conference on Wednesday and that afternoon Elder Almiron and I fly back to El Calafate to get the truck and drive it back to Comodoro. I´m loving the zone conference that we have this time around. I´ve been assigned to teach how to teach boldly, and most of what I teach comes from Enoch´s story in Moses 6. Read it. It´s really good. Especially verses 32-34.
Well it´s time to head out. Things are going great. I hardly have any time to think because there is so much to do, but it´s better that way. I´m loving every minute and learning a ton as I continue to serve the missionaries here. I´m excited to have time to get out and do some exchanges with Ushuaia and later on Caleta this week so stay tuned. 🙂 Until next week!