Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Hello to all!
We got the news last P-day about changes, and I found out that I am staying in Bella Vista A, and Elder Olson was leaving to Aratiri. Everyone thought I would be leaving, but I was excited to stay. It was sad going around to all our great members and investigators and saying goodbye to them, even though it wasn't me leaving. When it came time for him to leave I was really sad because he has been the only companion I´ve ever had, and we were great companions, but I knew that day would eventually come. I have a new companion from Argentina. I knew who he was because he was in my zone.
We had our first ward party since I´ve been here in Bella Vista, and it was awesome. The party was for mothers day (yes I know a little late haha). There was a bunch of food, skits, singing, and games for all the kids. It was awesome, we have the coolest ward ever. After the party, we had an appointment with a recent convert of the other missionaries, and she made all 4 of us tacos...man I miss good food, it was incredible.
Our investigator Christian went to church again this week, and loved it. He is really excited for his baptism, and says he really wants to serve a mission. He is a great guy and I´m really excited for his future in the church. His original doubt was that he wouldn't know any of the members or have friends there, but after church he was hanging out and talking with all the single adults in our ward, and already fits in. I have a strong testimony of the importance of members in missionary work, and I am so thankful that our ward has been willing to help us. We brought 5 investigators to church this week, one of which was an investigator I had with Elder Olson in my first change. Coincidentally (but not really a coincidence), it was Alberto, the one that the little angel kid I talked about a few months ago led us to. We met with him during the week, and he committed to go to church. It was really cool to see him at church and progressing. I´m excited for the future in our area, we have a few people that are progressing to baptism and active membership.
Its been a somewhat rough week for me, so remember to keep me and my companion in your prayers. I get down on myself at times, but I am so glad to be here. There is nowhere else in the world I´d rather be than here on the mission. Thanks for the messages, thoughts, and prayers.
Until next week,
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Hello to all!
This week has been an eventful one, and I am really excited to be able to share some of it today! This last week on the 17th, I completed 6 months in the mission. It is crazy to think that I have already completed one-fourth of the mission, and how fast time has flown by. It has been a good reflection point, and I hope I can continue growing and bettering myself every day.
We have a family we are working with named Cristian and Nelida. I have explained a little about them before in the past...long story short they are so awesome. There is a special bond between us and them, and they are progressing and working towards baptism in the near future. All of the family of Cristian are members and most are sealed and active in the temple. All but him were baptized. He knows the church is true and wants to get married and baptized. Nelida comes from an all catholic family, and so it has been hard for her to change and be open. But now she knows that she needs to get baptized and married, and knows the church is true. The only thing as of now that is holding her back is what she has seen with some members in Cristian's family. Some of the kids that are members are completely inactive now and have not been great examples to her. She understands the importance of persevering to the end and, quite frankly, is scared for the after-baptism part. We are doing a family home evening with her in about a half hour, and I am excited to continue to help them in this spiritual journey.
We also are working with Christian, who is 20 and really awesome. He told us he has already received an answer, and knows that the church is true. He is preparing for baptism for the beginning of June, and is an overall great kid. We have changes coming up this week, and it is looking like I might be leaving to a new area. If so, I will be a little sad if I wont be able to be a part of his baptism, along with Cristian and Nelida, but I know that I have done my best to help them, and hope they continue to progress to baptism and to being faithful members of the church.
I have been enjoying listening to church music on the mission. I did not think it would have been possible for me to leave behind all my favorite bands for 2 years, but believe it or not I absolutely love listening to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and other church artists and hymns. Its funny to think that it used to be a struggle for me to have to listen to church music on Sundays at home, when I am now enjoying it so much.
We were at a less-active members house this week and they have this cute little 3 year old kid named Mauro. He has some health issues, but is a really funny happy kid. He was starting to pitch a fit, and so I started to try to help with him and let him draw on some of my agenda pages. He noticed my watch and loved looking at the light go off, so I put the watch on his wrist, and he had the biggest smile on his face. When we were getting ready to leave, his mom was asking him to "give the elder his watch back". He put his head down and tried not to listen. After she asked him a few times, he picked his head up, and with tears in his eye (but not crying out loud or making a noise), he gave me the watch back. It was the sweetest thing I might have ever seen.
We had a cool experience with prayer this week that I would like to share. We were having a rough day, and could not seem to get into any house. Things were just not working out. I suggested that we should stop and say a prayer, and ask for help and guidance to know where to go and what to do, and that we would feel good about what houses to stop at and to try. Right after our prayer we started walking, and I felt like we should stop and clap (yes, its kind of interesting, you clap at the gates of houses here instead of knocking or ringing doorbells) a house. A lady came out and let us share a quick message with her and her sister there. They were genuinely interesting in our message, and had great questions. We were able to teach a great lesson with them, and are working with them right now. Who knows what will result from one clap, but whatever happens, I know that the Spirit is the key in finding, teaching, and helping people progress and follow our Savior. I am so thankful for the Spirit. It is vital in success as a missionary, and I am working my hardest to be receptive to the inspirations I receive, and to have the courage to act upon them.
Well, we have changes this week, and I am not sure what my future holds in store. I will be sure to let you all know next week about the latest news down here in the Heart of South America. All is well here, I love the mission, my companion, leaders, and this sacred opportunity to serve. Pray for me and the people here. I love hearing from you all, and appreciate the messages.
Until next week,
Elder Barco, Banco, Vaco, Babcock (whatever you all prefer ha ha)
Its really wild on a mission, but its overall pretty cool. What helps the most for me is getting into a routine. Its always sucky and crazy at first but after a while it gets normal and every so often even a little FUN!!!
This week has been really tiring. I got a new companion named Vanhin Gamblin, he is 6 foot 7 and a basketballer. He is a nice kid and we are getting along well. I was a little worried at first because he mentioned to me that his favorite movie is What happens in vegas.... haha I thought it might be a long change. but he is very cool. With this new companion comes many new challenges for me...
For instance. My old trainer usually was the one to cook the meals and I would usually do dishes... But now, neither of us really know how to cook which leads to some very interesting dinner options. One being a potato with lettuce on a quesada. It wasn’t that bad but we had no sauce so it just tasted like ground. We are learning though.
Another challenge is the bussing schedule. I never realized how chaotic it could be to get to the church. We have been 30 minutes late for pretty much everything....
I am also the one who has to remember and tell him many of the names of people in our ward... He is new to this district so I am the one who knows the ward better. I am now really wishing I wouldn’t have zoned out so much during church. haha. All this is making me very tired. I have been sleeping very well these last few nights...
This week we contacted into a very interesting fellow... He was a conspiracy theorist who thought that a lds mission was really training for the CIA... It sounded crazy at first but the more I thought about it the more I thought maybe this is CIA training:
We learn a language
We live in a different country
We wear suit and tie
We learn names and ´peoples background quickly
We have many rules we must obey
Very interesting stuff... At the end of the conversation we dramatically backed away from us yelling "You don’t know anything man! You don’t know anything....Haha I was very distracted the rest of the day. It gave me sort of a Truman Show kind of feel.
Our investigators are doing well. One has a baptismal date coming up and she is still doing very strong and coming to church and everything... the others still need a little time but they are all doing pretty good.
President Brown leaves at the end of this change... It is super weird to think that I am going to get a new President and also at that point I will have been out almost 6 months. Time flies. Until I think of how much longer I have here... then it sort of crawls. But I’m doing good. Still can’t understand anyone speaking Finnish, but I try.
So that’s about it. Nothing much really to report.
Monday, May 23, 2011
This week was crazy. Washed all of my clothes by hand, just because I’ve never done all of my clothes by hand, and my companion doesn’t want to spend money... and I went to six hours of pure church. I think the first time in my life, what a calling it would be to be in the stake presidency... What happened is an Elder got sick, so I went with his companion to church while my companion stayed with the sick Elder in his house. Definately an interesting experience. About thirty minutes till the second ward (Ours) started... Power went out, not a big deal cause the ward is small and really we don’t need a microphone... but when you have seventy people in a chapel without air conditioning? Definately an experience in hot Mexico.
Carlos recieved the priesthood this week which is super awesome and we ate in their house today. They have a subscription to the Liahona and really already feel like members, they can’t wait to go to the temple to do baptisms for the dead. This week was also super crazy cause there was a talent night in the ward. Some sketches, plays, we sang Come Thou Fount in English, and best of all??? One of the members of our ward is Mariachi... Super sick, what I pictured Mexico as being. Super danky! I’ll send a picture if I can.
This week I’ve definitely strengthened my testimony in the power of service. Service in everything. I’m loving washing dishes, digging ditches, and the new experience of the week? Put out a garbage fire. There was a girl burning her trash, we offered to help, and accepted, while we were putting out the fire… cause it had spread to her grass. She thanked us and told us that really she needed our help. She shared that her husband died in January and she lived in that house by herself. Not only the power of service can help them understand who we are ( representatives of Jesus Christ) but it also helps us understand them, without doing any work. Usually we have to talk with them for a few minutes to find out their doubts, issues, and lifestyle, but with service, we didn’t say a word and found out everything we needed to know to help her. The best part of this was at the beginning, we saw her and a bunch of smoke... We thought (were just going to interrupt her and she’s going to tell us she doesn’t have any time to talk and is busy) And then thought... what does it hurt to ask. We need to follow the guidance in our lives even if it seems like such a small difference.
Why am I a missionary? Because of you. I feel so blessed to have my family and this knowledge that we can be together forever if we just follow the gospel of Jesus Christ. I feel blessed that I was born into this knowledge, because I don’t think I would listen to the missionaries. Like Joseph Smith said, if I hadn’t seen this vision, I myself would have a hard time believing it. I do have a testimony of Joseph Smith. Logically like you mentioned, but also I have felt of his story, especially in the MTC is where I gained a stronger testimony of the prophet. I know he lived, at times I doubt, I need to have more faith, and at times I know for pure assurance that these things are true. At times I think is there really any need for religion, and times when I know that this is the truth. I’m loving serving the Lord and the people of Mexico. Continue to pray for them... With love
Sunday, May 22, 2011
This week started off with playing some more soccer, normal missionary work, and preparing a family for baptism. Definitely a payday to see all of you work that you have put into a family payoff. It was a family of five, a young couple, with three young kids. Their names are Carlos and Jessica and their three kids Carlos 6, Jesus 3 and Jocelyn 1. It was fantastic to see the members of the ward welcome and share testimony about the truthfulness of the gospel. The same night we called home (mother’s day). A full day in the church. eleven in the morning to clean the font, till eight-thirty at night locking up the church. Before the mission it was a hassle to get to two hours of church, but ten? :) It was a great day. Good to talk to ya and thanks for everything. My compañion is going to Monterrey tomorrow, and I’m going to be in this area with Elder Lopez. Don’t know anything else about him, cause there are about 7 elder Lopez’s in our mission. Not much else to say except for thank you
I did something I’ve never done in my life, washed my clothes by hand, im sure all the old people that read this are laughing. Wasnt to hard, just took a long time. This week i waited for a new companion to arrive. His name is Baurak Ale Lopez Bañuelos. He is from Tiajuana and has been on his mision for sixteen months. Definately more promising. He is a nice break but not a hard worker, it seems like there is a trend. He lets me make my own decisions, but doesn’t really like to contact or be in the hot sun, and if we enter a house, he likes to be there for two hours talking with the people. As missionaries we should enter teach and leave with the spirit. A letter will be coming in a few weeks with more details i think. We’ve been enjoying working together and hoping that all goes well for the next few months. I just got over a bit of sickness and I’m feeling great. It was awesome this week to see the recent converts come to churc. White shirt and tie, participating in the classes and they are feeling great. Didn’t study at all how to do a confirmation, cause I though the bishop was going to do it. Told me that I was going to do it about ten seconds before I did it. Explained it to me super fast, and I didn’t do too well, but hey they said they felt good. Already exited to be able to enter the temple in a year. It’s super chido. Anyway not much else to tell the family. Hope all is well and everyone is just doing fantastic. HAve a nice day!
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Spanish is coming along well, Elder Memmott still didn't get his visa for the Peru mtc so he is still in our trio. Also, Elder piereder didn't get to go to the consolate cause he's from Canada and so his is taking a little longer.
The district older than us left this morning at 4 A.M to New York, and I was really close to 2 of the people that left so thats a bummer but tomorrow we get 12 new elders. And we are now the oldest district so that's kinda cool. I remember how when I first came, the guys who had been here for 5 weeks seemed way older than me. And Miercoles will be our 6 week mark. Crazy stuff. We don't have travel plans yet, but 4of us Oaxacans will have our visas on time and most likely be leaving on May 30.
The testimonies of people here are so heart warming. This gospel changes lives. It gives people hope. It shows them a way to live that will bring happiness. I am so grateful to have grown up in it. Thank you so much mom and dad for always letting me choose, but also helping me in making good choices. I feel so lucky to have grown up in our Ward with so many great examples and youth leaders. I'm also grateful for good friends to help me make good choices. I can't wait to get to Oaxaca and teach people about this gospel and give them hope in this life and in the life to come.
I love you all, will talk to you soon.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Hyvää syntamäpäivää! Happy Mothers Day! Sorry i guess i gave you the wrong number..... haha. It was sweet to talk with you all. It is so weird to combine my mission life and home life. It confuses my brain to think "those people are still alive and doing normal stuff?" I forget that the world is still going outside of mission life in Helsinki. It was really fun though. You all sound great.
This week we have a baptism. I am excited. We have another set for two weeks later... Finland is really doing quite well in terms of growth. I am excited to meet the new mission president... He will be coming in just a few months now.
I am liking contacting more and more.... What helps me is my mindset. Sometimes I feel like I am a Christian Nut who goes around annoying people. But if I focus on the few other people who are looking for something more in their current lives, it is worth it to annoy a lot of people to get to those few. Just the other day we talked to a man and he said he was Muslim and wanted to change religion because he did not feel it was right for him. Haha, he told us he had been wanting to find out more about Christianity and was eager to meet again. So, tracting and contacting are worth it for those few people who are wanting a change in their lives.
I have the book Life of Mahatma Gandi. It is super dope and has all of his teachings. I am sneakily reading it every morning when my comp is in the shower haha. I am half way done.
I have sort of come to a conclusion about Joseph Smith. It is hard to believe a lot of these events because I was not there and if they truly happened they were miracles. And humans have a hard time understanding miracles. So it comes down to either it happened or it didnt... and I dont know if I will ever know for sure. But what I do know is that the doctrine that comes from Joseph Smith is very powerful. If you live how it tells you to live, you will be a good person and make the world a better place. And to me that is as much truth as I need. I have really realized on my mission that the lds churchs message is not about "if you dont join, you will go to hell". In reality it is "Life is hard. But this gospel can really help". Thats how I see it. The principles are true. If you follow them, you will be a better person, this is all I really know for sure.
I love you all. Thanks for all you do.
Hello to all!
This last week was an eventful one (like always), and I am sure I will forget to include many great events, but I will try my best to remember it all!
Paraguay celebrated 200 years as being a country on Saturday, May 14th. It was cool to see all the country pride around the city. Everyone had there bicentennial pins, soccer jerseys, flags, and hats on, and were really excited for the big holiday. I am really glad I was able to be here in Paraguay on such an eventful day!
... we always seem to eat weird things...this week wasn't any different. We ate cow hooves, kidneys, and we are almost positive that we ate some cow utters. He was really excited for us to try them, and we did our best to stay positive and swallow them down. The next day we went by his house he was killing a pig, so we saw part of that too. He cut off the "male parts" of the pig, and gave them to the pig's brother to eat.
I talked in sacrament meeting yesterday, making it surprisingly my first real talk in Paraguay. I was asked to speak on missionary work, but since it was Mothers Day here, I included some of my thoughts on the blessings I have had from the things my mom has taught me. Anyone who knows my mom knows how great she is, and so it wasn't hard to talk for a while about her. But the talk went really well, we had a great day at church yesterday. Our family we are working with came to church (only the lady because her "Señior" had to work somewhere). Also our investigator Cristian was able to come to church this week for the first time. We have been teaching and working with him for a really long time, and he finally was able to come. He loved it so much, that he asked if he could move his baptismal date up because he already feels ready. He is a great kid, I love working with him. He already has a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon, and is reading every day. I know that the challenges will continue to come, because its never an easy road to baptism, but I am looking optimistically to the future. Our family has a baptismal date for next Tuesday, the last day of the change, and we are working really hard to make it possible. It isn`t a secure date yet, they still have some work, but I hope that they can understand the importance of marriage and baptism, and that I can be a part of that special day for them.
I am loving the mission more and more every day, and am really enjoying my time in Bella Vista. We get changes next week, and its possible that I will go to another area. I don't know where I will be in a few weeks, but I am doing my best to take advantage of every day here, because its already changed my life more than I could have imagined. Thanks for the emails, letters, packages, prayers, and support. Keep me and the people here in your prayers.
Until next week,
Monday, May 9, 2011
Hello to all!
I had an excellent week. First and foremost, I wanted to give a public "thank you" to the best mother in the entire world (yes I'm talking to you mom), and to all the other mothers out there. I know its not an easy task, but I am so thankful for my mother, grandmothers, and all the mothers that have helped me become who I am today. Give yourself a high-five from me.
Before our district meeting in Luque on Tuesday, my comp had to print off this sheet for the zone. When he was walking out of the cyber, this wild pack of dogs were coincidentally passing by and out of nowhere nailed him and made him fall over in the middle of the city. All the dogs surrounded him and were barking, and it was one of the most chaotic 5 seconds of my whole life. Everything worked out fine, but it was really funny and he is doing great now.
We had zone conferences this week, and so we went in to Asunción to the office for the meetings. To start it off, we watched a talk from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland from the MTC this last January. It was the second time for me seeing it, but it made an even bigger impact on me now that before. He talked about the importance of Preach My Gospel, and how great it is to be a missionary in this era of missionary work. He also talked a lot about staying active after the mission, and always being His representatives. He ended it sharing the story in John 21, where Christ asks Peter 3 times "Do you love me?", and after Peter responds yes, Christ says "then feed my sheep." Elder Holland applied that to us, and that the way we can show our love and gratitude for Him is by feeding His sheep, forever, not just during the mission. Then President Madariaga shared his testimony and talked about his love for us and this sacred work. For the first time since I have known him, he was brought to tears and expressed his deep gratitude for each of us. It was an incredible spiritual booster that all of us needed, and I was very touched by the Spirit.
We are working with a family right now, named Cristian and Nelida. Their parents are endowed and sealed in the temple, and all of the kids are members...except them. They recently moved here and have been going to church. We visited them and they accepted a baptismal/marriage date for the 24th of May. They have a great spirit about them, and have real desires to change and enjoy the blessings of the gospel. I know that there will be many ups and downs, but I really feel like they have great potential, and I hope that they can prepare themselves well for that day, so I can be lucky enough to be apart of it.
Also, we have our golden investigator Christan. He reads and prays everyday, and already has a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon. The only thing keeping him back from getting baptized is going to church. He has real desires to go, but the last few weeks have been crazy for him, with travel, work, and his grandma getting really sick saturday night/sunday morning. He is an incredible guy, and its been awesome getting to know him and helping him on this spiritual journey.
Last night was a special night...I got to "skype" the family for Mothers Day. What a blessing modern technology is, and that even though we are really really far away from each other, we got to talk face to face and share many experiences about the family. I want them to know that I love them sooo much, more than I can explain. I have been blessed with the best family in the world. And because of that, I am here in Paraguay, doing my best to help other families feel the love that I feel from my family every day. I dont know what I did to get so lucky/blessed to be apart of the family I have, but I am eternally thankful for them and their love, kindness, and support. I love the mission, its been the best 5 (almost 6) months of my young life. I have learned more than I could have dreamed. Please pray for me and the people here, that they will accept this true message and allow God to bless them and their families, eternally.
Until next week!
Sunday, May 8, 2011
I like being in Helsinki. This week I have really realized how cool of a place it is. There is so much going on all the time. I really did come to Finland at a great time. The weather is cool and sunny. I really love the city. Its so crazy, There are these 2 huge birds that hang out in the city square... I swear they are huge owls but im not sure. People crowd around with cameras and binoculars to see them. I asked a Finn what kind of bird it was and she said "(Fínnish word)", so i just nodded my head and acted like I understood.
This week went by real quick. It was Vappu which is quite an interesting holiday. Everyone gets wasted the day before... which is a big part of any major holiday. But the next day everyone wears their graduation hats and go have a picnic (where often times they get drunk again). It sounds pretty fun (the picnic and hat wearing, of course). The sidewalks and busses were really crowed. There were also more screaming drunks than usual. The missionaries have to go in early cuz everyone just gets super wasted... ha. This week there have been more and more drunks walking around. they are really funny. and a little scary. There was one that was very entertaining. After urinating at the bus stop he hobbles over to me and elder hamner and offers us a cigerette. than he gives us a hug... and offered us some alcohol. He said he drank so much because "Jesus drank wine, and im trying to be like Jesus...." HaHa well. At least he is trying....
We got a new great investigator this week. She has already texted us and told us she wanted to be baptized haha. We were both just thought ya alright I think that can be arranged.... But she has to come to church for 3 weeks before she gets baptized, so we need to explain that to her today. She is a very interesting Russian lady, about 45 years old.
Oh. I asked a guy to baptism this week and he accepted. It was pretty awesome. It was his first teach though and a little too easy so we will see what happens.
I helped with a baptism... It was a big guy so they needed another body in the font to help pull him back up. They did not have any mens underwear for me to wear, so I had to compromise with womens... It did not look extremely different from the mens, but the frill on the end was a dead give away... I was nervous that when I got wet you would be able to see right thru. But luckily they couldnt tell. Or at least, I hope they couldnt.
Finland does not have a crazy amount of baptisms, but it is on the rise. The missionaries and members are all working hard and it is creating results. Im no big into the numbers and all that, but I have come to more fully understand that they are necessary so that we dont slack off.
I also just finished the DC and the Pearl. Thats some crazy stuff. A lot of the times I dig myself in a hole when I study because I dont understand, or what I read seems contradictory and it bothers me... but my companion is really great. He speaks like the most typical mormon missionary but it helps me to hear his simple faith and his deep deep love for the gospel. I try and get all intricate, but he helps me understand the basics and not get so riled up about the other stuff. Like I have said before. I am coming to my own realization of what I believe, it is not typical, but I feel it is still right because it is what works for me and helps me understand more clearly.
Ok love you all and whatnot.
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Hello to all-
Last week I forgot to mention that while I was emailing, I was in Tobati, a city nearby Caacupe. My companion had a convert family there, and they had a daughter pass away and we were able to visit them. It was really sad, but a very spiritual experience to talk to them. Also, it was a beautiful city and is definitely a place I would love to be in one day.
This last week was Jake's Birthday (happy bday!) and also my companions. A few old ladies in our ward through him a party and we all sat around and ate Paraguayan pizza, mandioca (nasty), and some delicious cake. We called it the Relief Society Party, and I took some great pictures that I´ll be sure to send soon.
The weather here is getting really cold, I thought the day would never come. As missionaries, we can't drink mate or terere, but we can drink whats called mate dulce, which is hot milk with sugar, and shredded coconut. Sunday night we went to a members house and I tried some, it was delicious. Its crazy to think that just a few months ago the heat was insane, and now it feels like Utah in November.
I went on a division this week to Amparo, and spent the day with Elder Brammer from Oklahoma. I guess his family knows Uncle Brent. He is an awesome guy and I was able to get to know a new area. We had a lot of success and taught a bunch of great lessons.
This morning was P-day, and I got to go to the Garden Club here near the airport and play tennis on clay courts. It was awesome.
We have a golden investigator right now named Cristian. He is 20 and is a reference from our ward mission leader. He is incredible. We left with him to read 3 Nephi 11 and when we verified the reading he understood it and explained it better than I could have. He already has a testimony of the Book of Mormon, and hopefully he can get to church to be able to be baptized by the end of the change before I leave or my companion. Our area has been tough to baptized and have a lot of success numbers wise. But I know the Spirit is working through us, and I can see the success in other ways. I love my area, my companion, and my Savior. I am so thankful for the opportunity to be here. I wish I could spend more time to share with you all thats going on here, but unfortunately I don't. I am excited for next sunday, and that I get to talk to the family!
Keep praying for me and the people here. Love you guys, and have a great week!