Tuesday, June 28, 2011

June 27, 2011

Well this week’s story was all about dinners. The members of the Flamingo Ward looooove to feed us. We almost always get food from their countries; American is rare. We have gotten a lot of milanesa de argentina (Dad’s favorite from his mission), lots of peruvian food like papa de huanguaina (see the pic), and all kinds of things. Papa de juanguaina (o algo asi) is a yellow Peruvian sauce that goes on potatoes and arroz con pollo. It’s unbelievable. Soooo goood. Its one of my favorite foods now. We had papusas ( my brother Tim’s favorite from his mission) the other day too! Anyway, the other two elders have the calender and they kind of messed up a couple of times on dinners last week, so we ended up having 2 dinners 3 days this week, hahaha. It was crazy. It would have been ok if the first ones weren’t all really, really good, but they were! Soo I wanted to eat a lot at the first ones, but then the second ones were all even better! It was nuts. I ate soooo much food this week. It’s ridiculous. I definitely need to try to work some off today. Fortunately we got to play soccer a couple times this week, so that has helped work a little off. We got to play with the youth after English class, which turned out to be really good, because we are getting a lot closer to the youth now and a lot of them bring non-member friends to play soccer every week. Then on Friday we had our missionary activity, which was supposed to be a soccer tournament with the youth against the adults, but then the Mexico vs USA game for the final of the Gold Cup got scheduled at the exact same time, so like nobody came. That was pretty bad luck, but we still played some soccer with the youth that came. Hopefully it was still good. I think it was.

This week we had another really good lesson with Maria and Tilda. We were on bike that day, so we had the other elders drop us off at an appt we had before it and then biked to their house after. That was pretty harsh. We had to bike uphill the whole way and it was well over 100. The other elders’ car said 111, they told us later. It was ridiculously hot. When we got there we knocked, and nobody came to the door. I was like, you’ve got to be kidding me. We waited and then eventually turned around to walk away when finally the door handle rattled and they opened. That air conditioning was the best thing I have ever felt! They love everything, and came to church on Sunday. So we are very happy with that right now. Other than that every single investigator canceled on us at least once. We had some good recent convert and less active lessons though and we were on the phone almost constantly setting up stuff for this week. It looks like this week is going to be really good. We already have at least 6 lessons set up and I think we will have a lesson with a really legit referral, which will be awesome.

Monday, June 20, 2011

June 20

Well let’s see. Monday we picked up Elder Zegarra from the office and then went to our recent converts’ house for dinner. We had a good dinner and a lesson with them. They are really fun and strong. It’s exciting to see. They will be headed to the temple this Friday night for baptisms for the dead. Tuesday we had to do email and shopping and everything for Elder Zegarra since he couldn’t on Monday because he was in the car coming down here, and then we had to take the English elders back to the office for a bike, so that was most of Tuesday day. Tuesday evening we visited with another recent convert and her husband. Wednesday we visited a less active and had some appointments fall through, but then later we had a tiny bit of success “tracting” (going door-to-door). Our area is really bad for tracting (we have the upscale side of the ward which means there are like 20 English-speaking houses to every one Hispanic) we've come to realize, so finding people to teach through that isn’t really going to work. Unfortunately our area is also really bad for working with less actives too (they all also live in the other area), so now that we have a lower investigator pool, the area is really slowing down hard. Now we have to focus on getting referrals from members. So far that’s been going decently well. We have about 5 referrals we are working on contacting, and that was most of the daytime from Thursday through Saturday. We had no success until Saturday when we contacted a referral from a member who just saw these two ladies at church and asked if they wanted to meet with the missionaries. We had a first lesson with them and it was fantastic. They were cool with absolutely everything. After we taught about the first vision one of them said, "Que bonito." At the end we asked if they had any questions and Maria said she had heard we have a lot of rules about health and stuff, so we gave a brief overview of the word of wisdom planning on talking about it more later, but they were just like ok, we don’t do any of that anyway, except a coffee every once in a while, but we can give that up. Then we committed them to read and pray and were about to ask them to come to church too when they said "pues, nos vemos a la iglesia maƱana tambien." So we have two new investigators that are super legit, which we really needed. They are great ladies too. Unfortunately it turned out they couldn’t come to church because Tilda (the other lady...Maria's mother in law…who’s about 75) fell on a walk they took that morning. We have an appointment with them on Wednesday though, so hopefully everything is ok. Sunday was good. Just church, things we had to do at church, an appt, dinner, and then we met with an investigator and another recent covert. We had a good lesson with them about prayer and obedience. It was pretty good for them, I think.

It’s been fun feeling the energy everyone in the ward has for CONCACAF right now. The Gold Cup is underway, so it’s all anybody talks about/does. It’s pretty fun. So I know everything that’s happening in that. I believe the US plays Panama Wednesday for redemption from their embarrassing loss in the beginning, so hopefully they can pull out a win there. They just beat Jamaica who was actually kind of streaking apparently, haha. Hispanics and their obsession with soccer is fun for me. The hardest part of the week was how hard a hit the area took with the loss of Elder Miller (possibly the most loved missionary here ever) and with just the natural lull. This week looks like it will be busier though...with appointments that will be a lot more solid. So that will be fun. We should have a good time. Elder Zegarra and I teach pretty well together. We both relax and just let it happen, which is how I feel teaching with the spirit should be.

Friday, June 17, 2011

June 13: Elder Zigarra -- from Peru!

This week is transfers. It is a sad day; my comp is leaving for The Mucc (Winnemucca). I get a new comp tonight. His name is Elder Zigarra and he was in Fallon while I was in Yerington, so I already know him. He is a cool guy and was the one that really kind of welcomed me into the zone there. He is getting close to finishing up...I think just 2 more transfers. Hopefully goes well! Should be fun. He’s Peruvian.

My companion as he was saying goodbye to everyone. They really love him here. There are at least 5 families that consider him family. It’s sad to see him have to leave.... It’s tough to see him go. Me and my new comp have big shoes to fill, but at least everybody is really happy to see me stay; guess I’ve made a good impression so far. They will be happy to meet my new comp and Elder Andrews's new comp this week though. Both are really cool guys. Elder Andrews's new comp is named Elder Marin and he came out with us to the field. Hopefully the 4 of us keep up the good work going in the ward.

So there are other missionaries here from Missouri: Elder Scheifferth (now in Sarah’s ward) from south St. Louis County; Elder Lane from Cape; Elder Farnsworth from St Charles; Elder Sorenson from Washington I think; Elder Josephson who is from Platte City but his family now lives in St Charles. There are some more but I don’t remember them. Missouri is represented in this mission pretty well!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

June 7, 2011

We’re driving a truck! A 2011 Chevy Colorado! It’s pretty sweet. Under 1000 miles. Driving it is pretty fun. It’s pretty high off the ground, but it’s not a huge truck.

We are teaching …

· Lizette, Nicaraguan and the Mom of Karen who got baptized last week. She loves the gospel and goes to church every Sunday. Her commitment this week is to read and pray again.

· Mariana, from Mexico but living here with her member cousin and family right now. She is still learning English, but is getting better and better. She is more than ready to get baptized, couldn’t love church more. She goes back to Mexico at the end of the month and is waiting to get baptized until she gets down there so she can prep her parents and aunt to get baptized with her. They are taking the lessons now.

· Maria, a great lady from Mexico whose twin son and daughter are members. Just waiting for her son to turn 16 so he can baptize her.

· Hermana (Sister) Medina, another great lady whose kids are all members. She works on Sundays, so she has trouble getting to church. Shouldn’t be very long before she’s baptized, though.

· Oswaldo, a really nice guy from Peru. The Gospel is something he likes, but he is the type of person to take his time with it though, so it’s coming along slowly.

· Mili, an awesome Peruvian lady whose son is a member. She really likes the church and loves missionaries.

· Victor, a really nice like 40-yr-old single guy from Mexico. He disappeared for a while but showed up at church again on Sunday, which was good to see.

Many people have a hard time understanding how the Spirit works with them. So when we teach, we talk about how that’s kind of the key pretty often...finding somebody that the spirit works with similarly to you. That is one thing the new mormon.org helps do. There are all kinds of people from all walks of life. I think that people that have similar interests tend to have similar ways they understand the spirit. Mormon.org allows you to search for interests and age brackets to find someone who is like you. That means everyone has the chance to find somebody with similar spiritual experiences as them (even if people don’t even know they've had them yet). That is one cool thing that I learned about that website this week and I think the son of the family we were talking to will really connect with something on there.

I also have a new favorite video on there. It’s of a guy named Samuel Babin and his family. They are a tri-lingual household and he plays tennis, so naturally I love it. Its so funny. The kids get the languages all mixed together. Such a good video and great family. That entire website is just fun to play around on. If anyone really reads the testimonies of the people on there and pays attention to their feelings, they will find something there. Guaranteed.

Finally -- our mission president, President Black, always has a new joke for zone conference: His latest: "What’s the hardest thing for a missionary learning to ride a bike? The pavement." Haha. It got less funny because we (not me) had several bike accidents this week, one of which resulted in a broken hand. Ironic. He has really helped me understand loving people better. He’s kind of like dad and just loves everybody from the moment he meets them. No problem. He shows a lot of patience here, which is great. Hopefully I can gain the same kind of patience.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Sarah sees Ben

Today (on "preparation day" -- hence the casual clothing).

Friday, June 3, 2011

June 2, 2011

Memorial Day was sweet! We went to a place called Desert Breeze Park and played soccer and just hung and then me and one of the elders I live with went to play tennis because he plays too. I miss playing, so it was really great to feel myself hit some good shots again. It was a super good time. I got a little bit burnt, but nothing bad, and now it’s just farmer tan. I’m used to that though. Since we are on bike this week, I’m just getting darker. So I might be back to my old tan self pretty soon, which is also good.

Our ward had a huge 5 de mayo party at the beginning of the month that was super sweet. We all had a good time at that and a lot of investigators were there which was cool. Our ward has a volleyball season that just ended. They would practice every Wednesday evening and had games on Thursday nights. This stake I guess has a pretty active sports schedule; they even have somebody called as a stake sports coordinator. They have a track meet between all of the wards in October and the missionaries have their own team in it, so I hope I stay here at least until then, haha. That would be super fun. Let’s see, Oh, the Elders quorum got a new president so we had a carne asada. The turnout wasn’t fantastic, but apparently after the first 2 hours a bunch of people showed up. We were just there for the first hour. The carne was incredible! Oh my goodness, it was soooooo good. I was eating just to have the flavor in my mouth, hahaha. I also tried it in a piece of cactus and that was even better, so good. I think we are getting some more tonight too, so I’m excited.

The man who teaches the Principios del Evangelio class in Sunday School is the best teacher ever. His name is Hermano Quintana and his granddaughter Karen is who we baptized on Saturday. He used to be a stake president in Nicaragua, and now he is our gospel principles teacher. All the investigators look forward to his class. It’s like their favorite part of Sundays in general. It’s so cool. He is funny, personable, explains things perfectly, and he is really good at getting people to participate. He is a major reason this ward does so well on baptisms.

Karen's baptism was really great! She has a lot of family that are members and they all showed up to support her. The talks were both really good and I think everyone enjoyed them. Her mom and sister aren't members yet, so it was really good for them to see it. Their cousin, Jason, just got back from his mission in Montreal and he is really working with them. He is super cool and a big help to us. The guy can speak English, Spanish, and French very, very well. Perfect English and almost perfect in the other two. I need to get my Spanish better, but it’s super hard. Well, kind of, it’s always getting better and better, but it takes so long when everybody is constantly going back and forth between English and Spanish. Back to the baptism. Karen was super happy and I think it had a great affect on everyone there. She got confirmed the next day and is just a super solid girl in the gospel now.

We had a great lesson last week with a girl named Mariana who is here temporarily living here with family, but goes back to Mexico soon. We had already taught her the first 3 lessons and she just loved it all. She loves church and everything too, especially in Spanish (she went a few times in English, but she doesn’t speak that much English yet), but she was concerned about tithing. So we went through the 10 commandments with her and talked about tithing when we got to “thou shalt not steal.” Then we went to Malachi where it talks about “will a man rob God?” and says “ye have robbed me” in your tithes and offerings. The scripture then promises that the heavens will be opened unto you if you obey this commandment. She really liked that. Then her aunt shared a really good personal testimony about tithing and also talked about it being 10%. In Spanish the word for tithing is diezmo...signifying the tenth, which is also cool. It was a really good lesson and now she is excited to pay tithing after she gets baptized and to obey all of the commandments. She is now finished with the lessons and just waiting to go back home so she can get baptized with her mom who is also taking the lessons in Mexico. So cool that they can be learning the same thing in different countries.

Ties are doin well. I’ve increased my stash through a couple of good buys and trades. By the way, I’m not asking for them, but if anyone ever tells you that they are going to buy me a tie, tell them to get it from Kohls, a skinny tie that isn’t striped, but has a different pattern. They have a lot like that there and they are all awesome.