Sunday, October 6, 2013

Argentina: Week 11

An Argentine panaderia.

An alfajore which is Hermana's favorite factura because it has coconut.

I´m not too much into a sharing mood today. Transfers are coming up so this will be the last p-day I have with my district. This past week wasn’t my favorite and I struggled a lot. We have a lot of Evangelicals here who think that God is in every church and it doesn’t matter what you preach, just as long as you preach to come unto Christ. I´m not a fan of their beliefs, but it has helped me understand how Satan distorts the truth. Everything we believe, Satan has a counter part that somehow changes the pure truth or creates excuses for sin. It is devastating to see. This reminds me of a talk by Holland called "Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence." It I have already suggested that you read it then sorry, but it is an amazing and powerful talk that can help anyone in any time of trial, I feel.

I truly love you all and thank you sincerely for your sacrifices and support. I was recently reminded of how amazing of an opportunity I have in order to serve a mission. I have a responsibility to do my best so that I can stand before the Lord at the last day and say I did my best. This life is so short, and I know some of you know that, but I would urge you to try to write it on your heart. Try to understand that all of the trials, tribulations, and difficulties are sacred. They are to help us grow and learn. I am reminded of that often when I feel like I´m drowning in the misuse of agency of others. It breaks my heart that they don’t want to work or change to be happier.

Anyway, I would like to ask you all to do me a favor. I would like to know your favorite part about the gospel, the part that gives you joy and fuels the fire of your soul. Please send me an email about it. My favorite part is first: the relationship that we can have with our Heavenly Father. When we understand more about His will and love, we grow closer to him. We also grow closer when we follow His commandments, and as members of the church we are capable of living a higher law and having a closer relationship than most. Please do not take offense if you are not one of our faith. I would ask that you pause and research why we make such a bold claim. This gospel is so much more than another church, or another way to believe. We have the truth, the authority, and the way to return to our Lord and Savior.

Love you!
Hermana Allen

Argentina: Week 10

I am going to try to respond to all the emails I got but I have a buttload to tell you all about what happened this past week. First of all I am going to say that baptisms are so stressful!!! First of all I don’t know how well I explained Laura´s story so I will give a brief overview.

Our relief society president and her husband (ward mission leader) have a very inactive family. They used to be inactives themselves until they went to the temple. Their son was the spouse of Laura and he has been inactive for years. They weren’t married which is what missionaries have been trying to change for the past 10 months or so. They got married Friday so that she could be baptized on Saturday. My companion and I had entrevistas with our Mission President so we couldn’t go to the wedding which was sad, but it didn’t sound like they did that much anyway. Sad. Because she has a relation to the church they have gone to activities and the ward knows and loves her. The ward decided to throw her a party after the baptism which is why we decided to have it later in the day (7:30...they don’t have dinner until 9 or 10 here!)

Now I am going to go into the stresses of a baptism. First of all, from a misunderstanding on the part of the bishop, he told us that in order to go to the dinner after they were saying you needed to have an invitation, meaning that all of our investigators were going to feel rejected by our ward. I was pretty upset about that and we talked to some other people to figure out what was going on. All was well after we figured out the bishop was completely wrong. We then asked the mission leader to find someone to clean the font and fill it. Yeah, that didn’t happen like we thought it would and we didn’t find that out until a half hour before the baptism was supposed to stop. It was "cleaned" but not filled all the way and only freezing cold water could come out fast enough to fill it the rest of the way. We also had a scare about who was actually going to baptize her because the person who was supposed to couldn’t. His wife is an "active" member, but she doesn’t want him to do missionary work or to do a calling or use his priesthood. We aren’t sure what her problem is, especially since they just got married in January and it seems like she hates him. Anyway, not my point. We found someone to baptize her at 7:30, but he didn’t have any clothes so we had to call the Elders to bring theirs. They ran from their apartment, but the person that was going to baptize her still wasn’t there. She had shown up 15 minutes after her baptism was supposed to start and so we still needed to take pictures and wait for the guy who was going to baptize her. It was all ridiculous and we didn’t finish until 9:00, but it was wonderful to see how happy she was. She even cried (and if you know anything about Argentinians that is kind of a big deal to cry in public). She is also not a very emotionally driven person so it was very special to see. (by that I mean that I don’t usually see her mad, or sad, or overly happy). She had no idea about the dinner so it was a wonderful surprise and they took pictures for us because after the baptism we had to book-it back to our apartment to make it by curfew.

The next day (Sunday) she was confirmed and it was great! I am so thankful that I could have been part of it all!!!! I love you all.

Hermana Allen

Argentina: Week 9

So.... I´M GOING TO HAVE A BAPTISM!!! OH MY LANTA I´M SO EXCITED!!! She is super awesome too. The closer it gets to her baptism, the greater she is. Laura and Marcelo are going to be married on Friday and Laura is going to be baptized on Saturday! We had a lesson with them yesterday and Laura has so much faith. Marcelo is the one that we have been working with and trying to get him back on track. He has been less active for three years and he had gone down a very dark road for a long time. We are trying to help him re-establish his faith and he is doing pretty good so far. About a month ago he wasn’t reading or praying much. His answer to everything was pretty much mas or menos. My Spanish is coming along by the way. I still have moments where I don’t understand everything and their expressions in Spanish are so different. Here they say this phrase that is ¨no hay drama¨. That means there is no drama and my companion loves it. That phrase is easy for me to get down but others not so much.

I have some big news! Last Monday we found out some seriously big changes in this mission. Every missionary who is at all obedient knows that members at lessons are one of the most important things. This mission just made the rule that we need to have 4 citas (appointments) with members every day. We cannot count any lesson that is not taught with a member including less actives and recent converts. It was a pretty crazy week trying to change everything but it was good.

I also wanted to tell you all how they make salads here because they don’t have any dressings. They use mayo on everything! One of the little girls in our ward just squeezing the mayo, ketchup and mustard into her mouth during lunch. It is disgusting, but they seriously use it for everything. They have these giant bags that every family uses to put on their meat or their potatoes. Cualquier cosa. It is nasty BUT their salads are super delicious. I didn’t mean to go off on that super long side-track. They make salad here with lemon, oil and salt, and that is the dressing. It is actually really good and I know it doesn’t have as much calories as dressing. They don’t really eat things with tons of calories here. They don’t normally have desserts. Their type of dessert is an apple which we get at almost every single almuerzo. Also, they don’t really believe that much in toilet paper here. If you don’t have it for a while no big deal because every home has this butt flusher thing. The other day I was pretty excited that this family actually had toilet paper! It easily could have been the highlight of my day if teaching lessons didn’t give me so much joy.

Hermana Allen

Argentina: Week 8

Doing some yard work.

The sister had like 300 chickens.

Cleaning the chicken coop.

Lots of work.

Some more work.

So I have a lot more to talk about that normal. First, Mabel dropped us. That was hard but we were planning to drop her anyway because she hasn’t been progressing for a month. We found out Sunday that our area is going to be split and we are going to get Elders in our area. We found some people in part of our area but we aren’t sure if they are going to go anywhere. Laura, the one who is going to be married on the 20th and baptized on the 21st told us she was doubting whether or not she should get married on the 20th because her mom was thinking that was too fast even though they have been living together for 4 years. Right. Anyway, we told her to come to church with that question in mind and we would ask her afterwards. She is for sure getting married on the 20th as of yesterday! WOOT WOOT. Missionaries have been working with her and Marcelo for 9 months. We are pretty excited that we could help them get to this point. We had an awesome lesson with them about how our actions on this earth are building our mansions in heaven, and we even built a little house out of popsicle sticks. We still have it but we haven’t taken a picture of it yet. I also forgot to get a picture of a panaderia before coming here so you will have to wait until next week.

Other exciting news? The bus that we use to get everywhere had a little drama on Friday. The bus drivers went on strike and we couldn’t use the bus to get to the other part of our area. We had also been planning on taking that bus to the stake center to have zone capacitation (training) but none of the missionaries could get there so they canceled it after we had already gone in a taxi for twenty minutes. Fun times.

Now the pictures. Saturday we had service for a single sister in the ward. We cleaned up her yard while some people over-turned the dirt.

We finished with that early and there weren’t enough shovels to do the other part so we asked what else we could do. They told us that the only other thing to do is man’s work. Pah. It was gross, nothing more. It wasn’t hard at all just smelt really bad. We cleaned out the chicken coops that had this layer of dirt/poop and then carted it off to this pile. It was pretty interesting day.

Hermana Allen