Friday, September 30, 2011

Oh Portuguese

Hello to all! 
I am here in Salto del Guairá and loving it, even though another crazy week went by. So we are still in a Trio, tonight we are getting the calls for changes, its looking like they are setting up a "white-wash" when the two elders get taken out and I pretty much get to know the area as I go with a new comp. We have prepared more or less for it, and so I feel as ready as I can be. the area isn't too big, but it will be an interesting week to see what happens, I will let you all know next week!
For the last week and a half, we were living with 5 missionaries in a tiny, dirty, disease-infested (maybe not that far) house. It was made for 2 missionaries maximum, but we were living bad, I was sleeping on the ground, everyone was getting sick, things weren't going well. So we started looking for another house, and found one with AC, so we moved out. I kid you not, it is so small that I could take 5 steps and cross the entire house, or better said, room. It is one room, and a little bathroom. Its very crammed, but we had to get out of the other one, so we are all happy. The move was stressful, it took a lot of phone calls, trips back and forth, but all is well.
Speaking of the branch, the church is really small here. There is a lot of Portuguese, our ward mission leader only speaks Portuguese...I feel like a new missionary when I talk to him, because I can catch out most stuff, but its still confusing. Portuguese is like Spanish and German, its kinda ugly but I like it and am going to start studying a little bit. I hope to be able to understand and speak it by the time I leave here, and I hope I stay for a while.
I got a little sick this week, but it didn't slow me down, just the normal headache sinus infection things, I think its because we were living in a nasty house. Lets just say that when we moved and took out a bunch of stuff, tons of rat poop was on the ground, in the cupboards and closets.
I also got PIQUE! Its this thing when worms get into your toes and it hurts pretty bad. I noticed it last night, so I grabbed my toenail clipper thing and dug it out. all is well.
I am loving the mission. I am learning quickly and growing spiritually daily. I love the mission, I could say it a million times and not be able to express how much it has changed me and my desires, thoughts, actions, intentions, life-plans, EVERYTHING. I am enjoying growing more and more, and understanding more and more Christ's Atonement and love for me. Thanks for the letters and messages, keep me and the people here in your prayers.
Until next week,
Elder Babcock

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Pure Love of Christ

This week has been something extremely normal… till today. Yesterday it rained a little bit, and we have always heard of “waterfalls” in our area… so this morning we spend two and a half hours looking for the falls, and found a little stream. It was super sick… but super little. We had forgotten to bring water so we decided to pull a bear gryll's and drink from the mountain stream. It all seemed well and super tasty till we climbed up a little higher and saw there was a big pile of crap in a little pond… ha-ha J gotta enjoy it ha-ha. Heard a quote this week… and it sounds better in Spanish “La vida es como una paleta, si la disfrutas… se acaba… si no… también.” Life is like a sucker. If you enjoy it… it runs out… if not… it still runs out. Ha-ha after coming down from the mountain we stopped by a pharmacy to buy some water and saw a girl speaking English. She was talking to her kid and was saying she has to eat her fruit at school so I said in English “and your vegetables” She got super pumped and said a few bad words… and we set up an appointment to visit her Jueves (Thursday). Ha-ha.

La historia spiritual esta semana fue esto: My companion felt like we should go to the house of some menos active people and so we went. We hadn’t found them before this occasion, but they opened up for us, and we shared a short message on repentance and the story of Leonti and Amalakia. They shared their testimonies on how they know of the tender mercies of the Lord, and that the missionaries always come in the opportune moment. They strengthened my testimony a lot and I really felt, I don’t know how… but a pure love of Christ for them. I didn’t feel like they were leaning on us for comfort… and I didn’t feel like it was us giving the message, but I really felt like they were my friend and my brothers. Unfortunately they are moving this weekend to another ward… I bore my testimony of family and the example of parents… starting with my own and finishing testifying of the blessings promised to them in the future. The first time in a long time that I have cried during a lesson (Luckily It was when my companion was saying the prayer so no one saw). I hope all goes well with them and really hope I can find such friends in the mission to help receive the gospel. Reach out to someone in need.
Elder Shaun Rhodes

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Goodbye Aregua, Hello Salto Del Guaira

Hello to all!
Well....I know all weeks are crazy....but I think I might be able to top most of the times I have said that it has been a crazy week. So after the fun Pday, we did some visits, and then a Family Home Evening game, where the zone leaders came over and showed us the new way that the Area Presidency wants us to ask for references, and by the way, please help your local missionaries in finding! It's the best when members help. After the activity we went home and were talking with the ZLs, when one of them got a phone call and went in the other room to talk. We didn't really notice. He came back and said...Elder Babcock, you need to pack your bags, because you are going on Wed. It was a special change, just came out of nowhere. And a little FYI, I had only been in there for 4 weeks. It was a big surprise, nobody would have expected it. So on Tues. I went around and said goodbye to the strong but short friendships I had aquired, it was really really sad. In my short time here I met some people that I will never forget. I took a bunch of pics, taught lessons, said goodbye, did a lot of packing, and Wed morning I was off to Asuncion to go to the office. It was also sad to say goodbye to Elder Patterson, who has been an excellent companion, and incredible friend.
In the office I met up with a local missionary, who was going out to be with Elder Colligan until the normal changes in 2 weeks. We went to the Terminal in Asuncion, and got on a double-decker bus headed out to one of the furthest areas of the mission, if not the furthest. It took about 8 hrs, things got interesting on the way out when a bunch of farmers had a strike for the land, and all stood in the road, delaying our trip about 30 minutes. It was awesome when we dropped of the local missionary to be with Elder Colligan, and I got to see him for 30 seconds of the side of the bus, we were both beyond excited and yelling and what not. He is great.
Once I got there, I was greeted by my two new comps and they are both awesome. I have been getting to know the area little by little, its hard but cool, because our area was recently opened. Its green and pretty, you can see Brazil from our house, its right across the river. Everyone here speaks Spanish, Guarani, and Portuguese...its insanely cool.
We had a baptism on Friday night of a guy named Marcelo, who is a strong convert. The missionaries had been working with him for a while, and he was baptized. This area has had quite a bit of success recently, so its been a good opportunity to come to an area with good history.
All in all, I am trying to settle in, but to be honest its been a very scary experience. Leaving the city to go really far, being in a Trio where its hard to teach unified, getting to know an area, when we are almost positive both of them are leaving, and I will be going up to senior companion, maybe even training because 30 new people are coming in 2 weeks...all these changes are new for me, so I would greatly appreciate the prayers from home for me, my companions, and the people here. I love the mission, sometimes changes are hard, but they are always for a reason, and whatever the Lord has in store for me, I will do it.
Love you guys!
Elder Babcock

Friday, September 23, 2011

Transfered to Haaga

Big news!
No changes.

I am going to a place way close to my area called Haaga. It’s still in Helsinki and I’m still in the same district. It’s a sweet area with a lot of potential and I am pretty stoked. I also am getting a new Companion today. His name is Vanhin Pearson. He was actually my current companion’s companion in the MTC. I have sort have met him a few times and he seems like a pretty funny and cool guy. I’m excited to get to know him. Also, the Haaga area already has a companion of sisters who are going to be staying there, which is way awesome because they are both way cool. They are both hard working sisters and the told us that the ward is working really well with missionaries and so I’m excited to get over there and get the ball rolling. For my companion, he will be staying here and training a greenie. For a welcoming gift, I hid the cats that Meg and Andy gave me around the apartment for him to find.

It is sad to leave my Neitsytpolku ward because I have met so many awesome people. Especially the people I got to teach. It is hard to be so invested and then get one phone call and say "Well, nice knowin ya!" But it’s the name of the game and I got their addresses so that I can write them. The ward here is so awesome and I really feel like it is my true home here in Finland. The heart of Helsinki was a pretty sick way to start out the mission. This last Sunday they had me bear my testimony. I was excited to try and show everyone how much Finnish I had learned over my 5 month stay. So, I bore it and I felt pretty good. But, then I got to thinking and realized that instead of saying "I love you all" I actually said " I love them" DANGIT! What a newbie mistake! My one chance to show people how smart I think I am and I totally blow it. No wonder the ward was giving such comforting smiles during it. I thought they were smiles of being way impressed at my Finnish, but instead they were smiles of "Oh, cute. He’s trying so hard...." But oh well, they got the point.

This week we had probably the most golden teach/investigator. He is a young single adult and goes to all the young single adult activities and loves them. He came to a baptism. Loved it. Came to church. Loved it. We taught him about the Book of Mormon and he brought out his IPad and had already downloaded the Book of Mormon, D&C, and Bible. Last Sunday, I looked over at him and he was just sitting there reading the Book of Mormon. He is so awesome. He is asian and so does not have any knowledge of christianity but he has such a great desire to learn He soaks up everything we teach him. I am a little sad that I will not be around to teach him, but luckily I will still be close enough to go to his baptism.

This last week was a family baptism in our district. It was so sweet to see a family of 3 boys, 1 girl and the mom (the dad will get baptized soon) all get baptized. Ever since our President got here he has emphasized finding families, and now the finding of families is quickly increasing. Finland is really on the rise right now and its cool to be a part of.

I am so thankful to be in Finland. It is the coolest place ever. The work is so hard and exhausting, but while reminiscing about my last five months in Helsinki I could only remember the good times I had. It is so interesting, it has been hard and I know that it has been hard, but when I think of all my memories, I can only remember all of the awesome experiences I had. I have absolutely loved it here. I can honestly say that choosing to go on a mission has been by far the best decision I have ever made in my whole life. The mission is the jam (translation for old people: The mission has been amazing)

Wow. I love you all so much. I have the best family and friends in the world. I am thankful to every single person I have ever met. Life is way good.

Have great weeks. Stay safe. Stay sane.

Elder Jrog Merkley

Vanhin companion



This week was good and stuff. Me and Elder Gamblin has taught me a lot about getting along with different personalities. I have been with him now for almost 5 months. You know when you have been with somebody to long when you occasionally introduce yourself as: "Hi, I’m Elder Gamblin...." which is something that both of us have actually done. This week I asked Gamblin if I was the weirdest companion he had ever had... He said without a doubt yes. He said that I am the only companion he has had who wears chums and half way through there time together decided they are going to be a vegetarian from now on. I was like...well, ya that’s true. It has been funny to see his reaction to some of our differences. A couple weeks ago I realized that Elder Gamblin is quite gullible, and so I have been having some good times with that. I convinced him one time that we had Pac Man on our missionary phone and another time I told him that the apartment ipod had "Dane Cook" (who is a comedian, and also not at all "Missionary Appropriate"). Oh, good times with Elder Gamblin....

Fun Finnish Fact: In Finnish, they don’t say Umm but instead say Tuotta.... which is really interesting because I thought that Umm... was something that everyone said naturally but I guess in a way its English.

This week we met the sweetest guy from Vietnam. He is 22 years old and his name is Minh. He does not have a christian background and so teaching him has been very simple and basic. He came to church last sunday and wants to come to the Young Single Adult activities which will be sweet because he will make a lot of friends. Interestingly enough, we met another Asian man from China and is way cool as well. But he is only here for three weeks and then he goes back to China where we don’t have missionaries, so we are trying to help him as much as possible. Its been really fun teaching these asians. They have no background at all but they are so hungry to learn about God and Jesus Christ. Hearing their prayers was so cool. They don’t have the habit of saying the usual prayers so everything they say is straight from the heart. That has been one of my favorite things while being on a mission, peoples first prayers are so powerful. It made me want to be cooler and say better prayers.

The language is coming along. I understand a lot and can speak simply. Its been really really hard (probably the hardest thing my brains ever had to do, somedays it whines and wants me to go back to watching T.V. and playing Halo all day....Someday Brain! Someday soon!). And I still have a long way to go, but I am making progress and I’m at a point where I understand enough to get along and so I’m not completely bored and zoned out like I was back in the beginning.

Finland is still pretty warm, but it is getting colder especially at night. Speaking of night, the moon is way awesome here. I don’t know how but I swear its way bigger than normal.

Ok, let me know how its going with you all.

I love you guys. Keep doing good stuff.

Love, Vanhin Gamblin......I mean Merkley

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Photos from Shaun

The Need for Others

Well it’s late and p-day ends at six so I gotta write quick. Changes today, but we continue the same. Elder Calva and I in Nueva Aurora. I’m lovin the area and this week put me to thinking. Elder Elbert and Elder Velazquez both changed area and two new elders are coming to the house. The reason I was thinking this week was that Elder Elbert is going home in only a few months… and we’ve had some sweet talks about the future… mine a little further off ha-ha, but we got to thinking on how he has changed, and what he has done to change. He was a lot like me, and when we got to thinking… I figured out why I’ve had a few little problems with some companions.

I realized that in my life I’ve been perfectly content alone. I know I’ve always had my family and we get along great, I had some friends and the same… we get along super. But when I get thinking about it… The activities I did… were a lot of the time, alone. Skiing… A lot of the time solo… I guess you can go with other people, but the only thing you choose together is what routes to take… Biking… The same, a lot of the time alone, but even if your with others, one man, one bike, and finally hiking. I’ve loved my morning hikes alone, again it is something that is done with others, but I’ve been perfectly happy alone. It’s definitely interesting to have the feeling of someone leaning on you, someone looking to you to laugh at their jokes, to follow your example in every step. And it has been hard for me. My path and my direction… but that is not the example that The Savior put for us. He suffered… alone… he died… with robbers (essentially alone) and he resurrected… alone. But as he suffered for us, we are reliant on his actions. We cannot do this alone; we have a profound need for our savior. Its hard at times to get used to what you have to do, to face reality… but a quote that I found that I really like was “The dream of being a better man… is a waste of the man you are” When we see that there is room for improvement… there is a need. We need to act on it.

I’m grateful for the mish and grateful for all the opportunities I have to help others… and myself to realize our life goals.

Thanks Mom and Dad… love you. Pray for me that I may be able to improve my character. Love

Elder Shaun Rhodes

Strawberry Expo, John 21

Hello to all!
We had an awesome week, as usual. Right after sending my weekly email last week, we went to grab a bite to eat in Luque, and met up with the missionaries there. While we were sitting there waiting, we see the 2 missionaries walking towards us, accompanied by Christian.
We had lunch with him, and since he wasn't planning on doing anything for the rest of the day, he went out to Aregua with us to the Expo de Frutilla (the strawberry festival). Aregua is supposedly famous for their strawberries, so we went and checked it out. We were expecting a big festival, because it is known all over Paraguay. However, we showed up to a little group of tents along the main road. I shouldn't have been surprised, we are in Paraguay. But it was really sweet, we bought tons of strawberries...a basket-ful, chocolate-strawberry cake, strawberry "chupa-chupa" (its like an otter-pop, but instead of ice and flavoring, it was real strawberries frozen), pie, juice, smoothie...lets just say we went "strawberry wild".
Still focusing on food, this week we bought a bunch of materials to make Mexican tacos for lunch on Thursday, and they turned out amazing. Who would've thought, there is such thing as spicy food here (though NOBODY here likes it.).
On Thursday we were walking down the road and noticed a big neighborhood activity going on. We kept walking, and noticed a huge festival, with a merry-go-round, rides, trampolines, food, everything! We asked to see what they were celebrating, and of course, it was a big parade/holiday for the Virgin (Maria). I don't know if i have mentioned before, but this country is really catholic, and are all about the virgin. Just about every other week they are celebrating something about her. Its a little sad, but its part of the country. 
On Monday, we visited Manuel and Soledad, our family we have been working with for a while. Soledad has been to church a few times and wants to get baptized, but Manuel's family is really catholic, and wont let him do anything (even though he is 28...with a family...). He used to study to become a catholic deacon, but he got really depressed with all the bad things in the world and stopped attending any church for about 10 years. He has progressed a lot, but on Monday night he told us he will never go to church nor be baptized, even though he knows its true. We were a little bummed about that, so we made a few phone calls, and President Madariaga was interested in doing a visit with us to try and help. Let it be known that President Madariaga is an incredible example to me, along with his wife. They came and we had the most spiritual visit of my life. His presence along changed Manuel. Pres. challenged him to pray about it all, and to be baptized and go to church. I am thankful for a great mission president, along with his incredible wife, and for their willingness to help us in the work. We were really disappointed to see that, even though they committed themselves to go to church, they didn't go. Sometimes people aren't ready, and even though it hurt us, we haven't lost the faith.
I gave a talk yesterday in church about "retaining the knowledge that Christ has given us". It went a lot better than i could have hoped, I talked about John 21, the story at the Sea of Galilee (spelling ?). Christ commanded the apostles, before He was crucified and killed, to go out and preach, to baptize, to spread His message, etc. However, Peter didn't quite fully understand it all, along with the other apostles, so they did what they were doing before Christ came..they went fishing. The story is incredible, you should read John 21 today, it might be my favorite Bible story. Christ asks Peter 3 times "do you love me?"..."feed my sheep". I talked about how when Christ called them to be His apostles, it was forever. In the MTC, Elder Holland gave a similar talk, and it touched me so much, so I had to share it at church, and for you guys. I know this letter is super jumbled, but Christ has called us to serve him FOREVER...not just when its convenient, not just when we are baptized, not just when we are missionaries, but FOREVER. Elder Holland said, "you cannot go back. For if you do, you will break my heart and the heart of God Himself."
Its my prayer that we can keep the faith, keep going until the end. Because if we go back, we are going back on Him. If we love Him, we will keep His commandments.
Love you guys, keep me and the people here in your prayers,
Elder Babcock

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

New area of Zicatela

Elder Millet is now serving the city of Zicatela which is located on the pacific ocean side of Oaxaca. His companion is Elder Maldonado who is from Mexico and is really awesome. He is the most dedicated missionary
Taylor has ever had. They are taking 40 minute taxi rides to meet with investigators and walking hours through the forest to get to some of the houses. It is so awesome here...we usually have to ride a camioneta (truck with benches in the back) to get to our area, it's about 20-30 minutes walking distance from our house. And every time we take one of those we can relax for 5 minutes and look out at the ocean, it is so beautiful! The majority of our area if filled with condensed forest and we take paths to get to the casa's and sometimes we even have to cross little rivers, it is so cool. We have been busy teaching the investigators that the other missionaries already had before we came, and we found 10 new investigators this week. They are all doing well and progressing with plan to be baptized soon. We had some really awesome things happen to us this week and every night we are dead tired from running around and climbing the crazy streets here. Last night we were a little off schedule and were late to an appointment by about 2 hours, haha, and on the way to it we saw some people removing some dirt and so we went to help them. After helping them for a while we eventually got to talking about the church. It was a man and woman both about 50 years old. We finished helping them and they invited us to sit down and talk. So we taught them a lesson and they seemed interested. Towards the end of the lesson we saw the investigator who was our appointment walking our way, and we thought he was going to walk past because we though his house was farther up the road. But he walked to the house we were in and it turns out that those people were his parents, It was pretty crazy. The ward here is good there are a few really strong members and about 50 active members, out of 400 total members in the branch. Here in our area there is a couple missionary companionship, Hermana and Elder Velasquez. We get to work with them about once a week and they really help us out. It is really great to be here and see the humble circumstances of some of the people here and the pure love they have toward us. Elder Maldonado and I are both inexperienced, he has 2 months in the mission and I have 5, but we are learning a lot. We get to do all kinds of service and feel like that is one of the best ways to gain the confidence of people. Tell everyone thanks
for there support, prayers and letters.
Love, Elder Millet

Monday, September 12, 2011

Hugos Baptism, Pres. Arnold recap

Hello to all!

I can honestly say this week had a bunch of ups and downs, but I really liked the week. First things first, WE HAD A BAPTISM! Hugo was baptized on Saturday night. He had been investigating the church for a really long time. He chose me to baptize him, and it was a cool reminder of how awesome it is to be able to do it. It had a good turnout, this ward is amazing. Yesterday he was confirmed a member, and we will be working this week to prepare him for the Aaronic Priesthood.
The main event, besides the baptism, this week was Zone Conference. Like I mentioned before, Pres. Arnold of the Seventy came, and to be honest the whole mission was nervous, because the last time he came, he wasn't too happy. We went into Asuncion on Wed. morning, and started the conference. His wife talked on obedience, and gave us all rulers, which is Spanish it means "regla" along with rules in Spanish means "regla". She gave us rulers that say "Reglas nos ayudan", a pun in Spanish. Hna. Madariaga talked about loving the people we teach. The conference focused a lot on planning, working with members, etc.
The highlight was at the end, Pres. Arnold bore his testimony at the end, and started crying completely. He is a VERY emotional man, and got really emotional when he started to talk about the Atonement. He repeated a few times, talking about the Garden of Gethsemane, "that is something VERY personal for me". He explained about Christ´s Atonement, and that he sweat "very large drops of blood". It was one of the most spiritual moments of my life, I don't know if I have felt the Spirit like that before in my entire life, in the form that was felt during his testimony. I know that he has been called of God, along with Pres. Madariaga, and all the leaders of the church, up to Pres. Monson. I know that the true church is on the earth today, and that I belong to it. I have no doubt of that, it isn't even a faith or a belief, its developed into a concrete fact. I know that because I have read the Book of Mormon, and prayed to know it. I challenge all of you to do the same.
Things are going great. Even though our Sunday was frustrating, everyone lied to us and none of our investigators came to church, even though on Saturday night we had at least 4 that said they were going no matter what. The mission is hard at times, but all is well. Thanks for the letters and support. Love you guys.
Until next week,

Elder Babcock.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Saying Thanks

This week was really good. I’m not sure if I mentioned last week but we met with a Physics teacher from Harvard. We aren’t meeting with him regularly, but he said he wanted to meet once for a crash course of what we teach. He is a nice guy and it was really interesting to talk to him. He would be talking about some crazy-smart, off topic subject and Elder Gamblin and I would try and keep up and somehow manage to get back on topic. I think we held our own and the meeting turned out to be beneficial for both sides.

Remember that broccoli that made me sick, we left it out on the counter and then eventually realized it was there but at that point it was way to late and it made our kitchen smell like an outhouse. I have had some major broccoli issues lately.

This week was crazy. For one thing, we lost our phone. We had to juggle all over our appointments and hope and pray they would all work out. Most of them did. Some of them didn’t. I felt really stupid explaining to everyone at church that the friendly, reliable, missionaries did not call back because they had lost their phone somewhere in the city of Helsinki. But it was not a big deal and we found it today.

This week we also had Elder Texiera talk with us. He is a 70 and is a really good guy. I learned some really great things that will really help me become a more effective missionary. Our Mission President also talked and it is always good to hear from him. There was a point when he was saying his final words and he simply said: I love you. And I usually feel weird when certain people say that, but when he said it there was an awesome powerful feeling in the room. He is really cool.

The baptism was Saturday. She didn’t care who baptized or confirmed as long as it was either me or Gamblin. So, I baptized her on Saturday and Elder Gamblin confirmed her on Sunday. It was a really low key baptism and really awesome. Nailia is Russian and is a single mother raising her daughter, but it does not phase her at all. She is completely independent. She has been really fun to teach and get to know. Her strong female attitude reminds me of the females in my family. She is also really funny and we got along really great. There was a really great moment at the baptism. I had just gotten out of the font and was alone in the bathroom. I was praying and saying thanks for Nailia and for the baptism going smoothly. I felt amazingly peaceful, thankful and close to God.

I am having some really great experiences out here. I am thankful for the gospel. It is important to realize the blessings it has given us, because so often times they are taken for granted. There are little things that can be criticized about this and that in the church, but if we look at the big picture, everyone needs the gospel.

Love you all. TTYL.

V. Merkley

Monday, September 5, 2011

Que Chido (How Cool)

Estamos saliendo de la canicula! La canicula are the 40 hottest days of the year… and it’s just about over. J And another great blessing- Our room has air conditioning, so this month the hottest month of the year, we have been able to sleep. Crazy that another month has passed and changes are next week. I’m hoping Elder Calva and I stay another exchange together. I love the area and I would love to be here another bit of time. Having a few problems with commitments, but what missionary doesn’t J Were happy and working. Had interviews with the president and its all good, would have wished to talk to him longer but really all is well, so the entrevista only took about three minutes of me sharing my testimony. Ha-ha. Todo tranquilo.

We had stake conference this week and had Elder Lyons from the quorum of the seventy speak to us. He was super direct and positive. Our mission president also spoke and he talked about the missionary work. It was great and we’ve been able to work with the members to find more of their neighbors and family members to teach. This week I have been studying the story of JOB in the bible. And how he was richly blessed… Satan said that he was righteous only because he was blessed… so god let Satan take everything away from him… still happy… still diligent… takes away his health… literally everything. And I would like to repeat the words of Job “Yo se que vive mi Señor.” I know that my redeemer lives.

I was pondering what a testimony is. Reading a talk in the Liahona I found a line that I really liked. “Valor es lo que hacemos cuando nadie esta en nuestro alrededor” Dignity is what we do when no one is around us. And I thought of the same with Job. “Un testimonio es lo que creemos cuando todo lo que tenemos ha sido quitado”…Testimony is what we believe when everything has been taken away from us. Analyzing my testimony I would need to say it still needs some work, I’m sure it will till I leave this earth… but as for now I’m enjoying the blessings that the lord has put in my path. May we analyze our testimonies and strengthen the parts that may fall if everything was taken away from us. Yo se que vive mi señor.

Elder Rhodes

With the Help of Members

So I feel like last week I didn’t mention enough good things about my companion. The truth is we get along great, not perfect but I’m not expecting anything like that. He’s a good person and we work together well, we really do everything well together, just the few small differences that get between us. I can say that honestly, he’s the companion that has helped me the most with my Spanish in all of my mission. He loves to serve, loves to smile and we are working together great. From every companion you learn what you need to learn.

With my first companion Elder Islas I learned obedience. It was tough adjusting to a new situation and country and everything and that made things a little difficult but I really enjoyed working with him. Elder Lopez came and it was hard adjusting to the disobedience and that was the only case that we had problems. After our three months together we had a talk and thanked each other for the wonderful experiences we had in Buena Vista II. In that talk we were able to tell each other straight up everything between us. I made him mad once in three months, and he made me frustrated once right about the same time, I’m grateful for each companion I’ve had... including elder Calva. I know we are going to be able to work together really well these two weeks of the transfer... and if we are together another transfer I will be perfectly fine with that too. He’s a great Friend and I appreciate all that he’s done and is doing for me.

No interviews this week, sometime in the first few weeks of September. The sun is hot as ever, it rained super hard Friday and we had a blast, all the streets, instead of changing to swimming pools like in Matamoros... because we’re right next to the mountains all the streets changed to rivers. We’re finding great people, really atent people in this area. (I hope that’s a word) like they understand really well what we’re teaching... and I’m loving the area. There are a lot of members in a very small area, and most are willing and anxious to serve. I hope when I return home I can help the missionaries like the members are helping us. We can call up members... ask them if they can company us on a lesson, and even if they have activities... are willing to put everything behind to help others. In True to the Faith there is a quote "La clave de la verdadera felicidad en esta vida es esforzarse de lograr la felicidad de los demas" (The key to true happiness in this life is striving to help others feel happy) its prettier in Spanish. Thanks for all your love and prayers. Do something small to help others... it might not be small for them.

Elder Rhodes

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Going eteenpain

I was able to watch the family videos. They were great. Family life really is the good life. I have been realizing more and more all of the things I have to be thankful for... The family I would say is the biggest thing. Being away from family really helps you understand how much you love your family. So, I am just thankful that you are all well and happy and I want you to know that I am doing good too. Sometimes I almost feel bad that people are worrying about me because 1. Finland is ridiculously safe 2. Missionary work (although tiring) is actually pretty fun. For example, yesterday we taught this guy on the sweetest little island ever and the sun was setting and I remember thinking: I wish my family could see how good I have it right now...

Our baptismal date Nailia is going strong to be baptized this Saturday. She was in church and is progressing well. I want to take a picture of her baby because she is super cute. We are trying to teach a few families but families (as I am fully aware) have crazy schedules and so it has been tricky to meet with them. We have some really good potential here though and the work is going eteenpäin (which means forward but I am absolutely sure it is spelled wrong)

I was sick this week. I was really nauseous and would throw up if I moved around to much. So I pretty much laid in bed all day and slept. Which, although I had fantasized about sleeping in many times on my mission, was actually really boring and sucky. I felt bad for Elder Gamblin who, being my devoted companion, also had to stay inside. But he was a good sport about it and made me soup which was really cool of him. I think that I got sick because the day before I ate broccoli and forgot to wash it. Ooops... And I remembered AFTER that my companion said: "make sure to wash this, I saw 2 bugs crawling around" Stupid broccoli. Nobody likes that vegetable anyways. But my sickness could also have been related to the fact that I have been trying to be a vegetarian for the last two weeks ("trying" because I eat meat at dinner appointments. I don’t want to have to turn into "that annoying guy who asks for something different at the dinner table") Is it possible that I got nauseous because of my vegetarian diet? Now some of you may be asking the question: Why have I chosen to be vegetarian? And they answer is: I don’t know. There are a lot of little answers, rolled together. And its not a permanent thing, I’m just trying it out to see how it goes.

Thats about all. Let me know how everything is going. Stay safe. I love you all and whatnot. --Vanhin John