Friday, December 27, 2013

Nov 2013 - Scott & Ann

We have only had two hot days so far and keep wondering when summer will get here.  We still have our heaters turned on and use them every day.  It is still very cold here and very windy which makes it feel colder than it probably is. 

We had Thanksgiving dinner with the Caniu (Ambar, Ignacio, & Irving) family.  They are the only ones who celebrate in our area because they picked up the tradition three years ago from the missionaries.  Turkey is next to impossible to find, so we had chicken.  It was a nice dinner of cold finger-food like hotdogs in a blanket, chicken strips, ham roll-ups, and an apple salad.  

We had a wonderful FHE where we had a scavenger hunt based on scriptures where the people had to hurry around and gather items in each scripture and race against other teams.  But the real lesson was on service.  We had four stages situations where people could stop and help someone or just keep running to help their team win.  In the end, we gave them more points for stopping to help just once than if they had collected everything listed in the hunt.

One of our best investigators (Jara Family) is finally a few days away from getting the birth certificate they need to get married so they can get baptized.  They have been waiting over three months now for all of the documentation to come together.  Working with this family has been one of the highlights of our mission.  The document should show up soon!

We have worked really hard to get everyone who is worthy a current temple recommend along with patriarchal blessing recommends for those who are ready.  We spent two full days doing nothing but interviews so we could have things ready for our mission president to sign when he came to town.  It is nice to get things like this ironed out and updated because in a little branch like this they tend to get overlooked, especially when the temple is so far away that most people have no real hope of attending any time soon.

We had a district conference and Gustavo Painenao was ordained an Elder.

We had a great charla fogonera (fireside) last night and focused on how to gift a Book of Mormon.  A few of our members are catching the vision.  We have the goal for everyone to give a friend a Book of Mormon or invite someone to hear the Gospel message between now and Christmas - Elder Ballard's challenge from the last conference.  We are hoping for a White Christmas (a baptismal service the week of Christmas) this year.

This week we had a gas shortage.  Apparently the truck drivers went on strike and people were coming from all parts to buy gas in our city because the others were out.  Of course, it didn't take long before there were super long lines and car wrecks created by all of the chaos.  We waited an hour in line to buy gas this week and were grateful to get some because many people waited only to be turned away after it ran out.
We are working with Gustavo and helping him get prepared to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood at the end of this month.  We opened the missionary portal for him this week so he can start on the medical portion of the paperwork.   

We had a ward service project to dedicate the grave of a member who passed away a year ago.  He is the grandfather that everyone is related to here and the one they all talk about and want to be like.  When he died, nobody bothered to tell the branch president and since they bury people within twenty-four hours here it all happened so quickly that he his grave was not dedicated.  In our ward council we discussed it and the plan was to take everyone (adults and children) to dedicate the grave.  Then the Primary president said that we should not take the children to the cemetery.  I pushed her on it because I couldn't see any reason why the Primary children would not benefit from the experience too.  Then she explained that in the public cemetery, not everyone is buried in a coffin or a cement box and that with the amount of water they get in this area there is a lot of shifting and movement of the ground.  She said that it was possible to go this time of year, after the heavy rains, and see things poking out of the ground.  That did it - I agreed that the kids were better off at the church drawing pictures of Jesus than to be subject to nightmares the rest of their lives.  The dedication went well, and thankfully we didn't see anything disturbing.

We had a new family move into the branch on Friday - they are from Bahia Blanca (the coast near Buenos Aires).  They should be a great help to us because they have two Melchizedek Priesthood holders in their family.  We also found a less-active fellow named Saul Casanova who let us and has agreed to have the Elders over this week to teach him the Gospel so he can understand how it really is and get prepared for the last phase of his life.

We are starting to make the transition between us and the members on a few things now and this week we started with FHE.  For probably the first time in six years a family in the ward (rather than the missionaries) was in charge of the lesson, game, and treat for FHE.  It was one of the best we have ever had and everyone loved it.  We are getting about 25 people a week out to FHE and it has been a big boost for many of the recently reactivated members.  

We baptized Silvia this week.  Her sons, along with a sister, parent-napped her and hid her so she could not be baptized last Saturday, but once she resurfaced she said she still wanted to be baptized so we went ahead and had a service on Tuesday.  She is a sweet lady. 

The Elders and Hermanas in our branch are working hard and continue to turn out miracles just about every day.  We  are so grateful to have their help because we could not accomplish the amazing progress that is happening without them.Gustavo Painenao, who was baptized in July, has read the Book of Mormon twice now and will be receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood at the end of this month.  We are starting his missionary paperwork this month too.  He is excited.

We hosted a treasure hunt for our combined activity on Saturday and it was great.  We gave them scripture clues which led them from one location on the church property to another and eventually ended at a fruit tree with a treasure of candy.  We then had a lesson on real treasures and talked about families, Jesus Christ, temples, and scriptures.  There were five young-women investigators who came to the activity and we were excited that some young women are finally coming out to our Mutual activities.

We have had an average attendance at Sacrament Meeting over the past four weeks of 50!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Oct 2013 - Breanna & Zachary

Oct 2013 - Scott & Ann

On monday for Family Home Evening (FHE) we created a Jeopardy game.  It was really fun for the ward members and our attendance at FHE has doubled - we now average around 24 and we can't afford to feed everyone.  We think we will just heat up more water and pass more MATE around to get them full.

We found a really cool (new) fast-food restaurant that offers the traditional pizza, pasta, and empanadas but the awesome thing is that every Thursday they celebrate with international recipes and this last week we had Chinese food - how cool is that? Previous to that we have had Hungarian goulash and Arabian chicken.  Thursday is practically our favorite day now!

We have a new investigator - his name is Mario and he is the son of a member.  He recently came to town to live with his dad and start a new life.  We got to know him through teaching his dad and now he has asked if we can teach him too.

We taught the YM how to play American Football this week.  We couldn't find a real football anywhere so we ended up purchasing a rugby ball for $35 and making do.
Our branch had a baptism this week.  Eliesar and Silvia were scheduled to be baptized on Saturday evening.  We had zone conference all day and when the Elders finally got back to Trevelin to round everyone up for the baptism, Silvia was missing.  She and Eliesar are brother and sister and live in separate homes on the same parcel of ground.  Eliesar had no idea where she was and had not seen her all day.  Silvia's two sons have had concerns about her being baptized because they are of another religion. One of her sons was at her house the night before trying to talk her out of it and must have "arranged" for her to take a little vacation so that she couldn't be baptized.  We will see when she shows up again.  Eliesar decided to move forward with his baptism and not wait for his sister to surface.

On Monday we got together with the District and had a BBQ called Choripan. After that, we went to see the tulip fields that are in bloom.  

The father of one of our part-member families told us this week that he wanted to take lessons and be baptized.  That was good news because for the past two years he has not allowed his wife and children to attend church or even have scriptures in their home.

We pulled off a nice Mother's Day for the branch with flowers (real and homemade), cake, alfajores, and a nice thought on paper with a bow. 
We had 68 people at church yesterday.  Thirteen of them were from the district, so if you back those out we really had 54 of our own.  That is a miracle to have so many people.  Nine of those were investigators!  The Mother's Day songs that the Primary kids sing were fabulous and it was a great Sacrament meeting. 

We received our new missionaries - an Hermana Solorzano from Ecuador and an Elder Finch from West Jordan.  We now have a trio with the Elders.

We continue to visit less-active families in the branch to teach them and encourage them to become active again.  We are finding good success with the Plan of Salvation lesson when we just draw it out on paper and then walk them through the scriptures that apply to each section.
One of our less-active young men was sustained to receive the Aaronic Priesthood (Sharo) this week and we are happy with his progress.  His entire family has come back to church and are a great support to the branch.

We have a young lady (Daiana) who wants to be baptized, but can't until she gets married to her novio (boyfriend).  She is diligent about reading the assignments.  This is the girl whose baby we gave a name and a blessing to about two months ago.  We had a great lesson with her this week and are excited to see her progress.  Gustavo, her novio, says they will get married in December so we will start to help them get prepared.

We were able to watch conference in English over the weekend - it was a real treat.  We spent two hours trying to invite and round up people to go see conference and in the end took a woman who was going to take the bus anyway.  It is sad that something so great as conference is not appreciated and treasured for what it really is.  We will keep working with our members to help them grow their faith.

We find ourselves being more direct with people as we realize we have been teaching some of them for two to three months now and need more action on their part to really progress.  We also realize that we are under seven months now to finish and want to reach more families in the time we have left.   We are sifting our current pool and constantly reevaluating what they need and where our efforts are best spent.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Sep 2013 - Breanna & Zachary

Sep 2013 - Scott & Ann

This week we had the normal stuff - activities and lessons.  We went to the local lake with our district on P-day last Monday.  We did a little reprioritizing of our members and investigators to make sure the frequency of our visits are appropriate and achieving intended results.  This will now allow us to squeeze a few new families into our teaching pool as we lessen the number of visits with those who don't need as much attention now.

On Wednesday we found a new investigator - the sister of a member who happened to be visiting her sister when we dropped in to tell them about some of our youth activities this week.  Ann showed no fear and went in for the contact while I spoke with the member for a few minutes.  Next thing I knew we were tying down a time to take the Elders to her home for an introduction.  It was exciting especially since we had prayed specifically that morning to find someone new that we could invite to hear our message.

We had a lot of lessons this week on the Plan of Salvation.  We knew this lesson was coming up with the Gough family so we read Preach My Gospel and studied the recommended scriptures and made a lesson plan. Turns out that we taught that lesson (or parts of it) to five families within a three-day period.

We made pancakes for the Alarcon sisters, but the ingredients really are different here and they just didn't turn out quite like the ones we make at home.  We know that Thanksgiving is approaching and don't want to be mistaken for wild turkeys so we are increasing the exercise.  It doesn't seem to make a difference though, we both weigh more now than before we increased the mileage.  We are thinking that the controlled substances need to be sugar, meat, white bread, pasta, cheese and a host of other things, but that doesn't leave us much to eat rather than beans and rice of which we already get plenty. :)
Lujan Silva invited all of the missionaries over to her home this Sunday for dinner as a going-away meal for Hermana Obando who has been here with us for six months and will be finishing her mission and going home next week.

9-16-2013 & 9-23-2013 
We have been blessed with a new family from Buenos Aires that is active.  We just made him (Walter Estrella) a counselor in the branch presidency and his wife (Teresa) a counselor in the Relief Society presidency.  He knows a lot about the MLS and will be a great help to the branch.  We can see things lining up so that when we leave next year the branch will be strong enough to press forward and continue growing. 
We had a great service project at the "old folks home" last week.  We provided a program with music, singing, stories, skits, and food.  We fed them pizza and sandwiches and it was touching to see the missionaries and branch members feed the people who were not able to feed themselves.

On Saturday we had a three-hour talent show.  It included paintings, drawing, ceramics, woodwork, etc along with the traditional singing and playing of instruments.  We (the missionaries) did a skit called "A Day in the Life of a Missionary."  It involved working together where one companion worked the arms of the missionary and the other worked the legs.  We had to wake up, prepare for the day by shaving or putting on makeup, exercise, and eat breakfast.  It was funny because the person working the arms could not see anything while trying to shave and feed the other companion.

We are working a lot with the less-actives and with the Elders and Hermana's investigators.

One of the biggest challenges we have in this area is people living together.  There has only been one marriage in the entire city so far this year (2013).  We know that because we are working with a couple that plan to get married next week so she can be baptized.  When they went down to the city to see how long the wait would be they just laughed.  Apparently, there is no line and therefore no wait and they can be married the same day they walk in and pay the fee.

We discovered a new game for FHE.  We set up two chalkboards on opposite sides of the chapel and played Book of Mormon Pictionary.  They loved it!

We have had so much rain lately that it has had a negative effect on the economy of the city.  The streets were turned into rivers and many homes were flooded.  When it rains like that everything just grinds to a halt and nobody goes to work.  When we go into stores now everyone is complaining that business is slow due to the heavy rains and that nobody has any money to spend.  In a few weeks things will get back to normal, but right now it is very common to talk with people (even branch members) who say they are working today for the food they will eat tomorrow.

The spring blossoms came out this week so there is hope that the nightly frostings will end soon.

Last night we invited three young single adults to go with us to Esquel to see Elder Nelson speak by satellite from BYU Hawaii.  At the last minute two of them bailed on us because one had to go to a doctor's appointment the next morning around ten o'clock and the other had to go to work at seven thirty in the morning.  As we were driving to the devotional we asked the kid (Gustavo) in the car with us what time he had to get up in the morning to go to work at the panaderia.  He said four thirty! Amazing how he had to get up earlier than the others but still considered it an honor and a privilege to go listen to an apostle and was willing to make the sacrifice.  He has only been a member for two months.  We love people like that!

We finally updated the MLS with the current address and phone number of all the member we know - we also marked all of them on a huge map.  It was a big job that we started almost six months ago and we are happy to have it done. Now we will go out and start looking for more people on the branch list that we have not met yet.

We found four bullet holes in the church windows this past week.  The police came and documented.  Nothing will really happen because there is no proof, even though everyone knows it was the kid next door who shoots the neighbor's dog with his pellet gun all the time.

A few weeks ago we almost burned down the church.  After an interview, I left the office and just pushed the vinyl chair off to the side.  We had Sacrament Meeting and then brother Vera went back to the office to give someone a blessing.  When he opened the door the room was full of smoke.  Apparently the chair had pressed up against the heater and was being melted.  We were lucky because another five minutes and we would have had a chair on fire which would have caught the drapes on fire and then the ceiling.

We have a new mission rule that all lessons, be it with investigators or less-actives, must have a member present.  It should help to get the members more involved in the work and help them establish friendships with investigators more quickly.

We did a service project for the Uribe family and helped them lower their ceiling so they could build another room in the attic.  It felt good to put on jeans but painful at the same time to see that they don't fit like they used to.  We really enjoyed the physical labor and want to find more.

It just rains and then it rains some more.  We are looking forward to summer with the warm weather. As a branch in a district, we don't have a bishop's storehouse to send members with needs to so we go to the grocery store a lot to buy food for members who are trying to get through the winter months until the tourists return in the Spring.  Each time we haul out of there with a grocery cart FULL of food.  The people who work at the grocery store must think we eat at TON because we are in there a couple of times a week.

Our branch baptized a boy (Eric Aguero) who turned eight earlier this week.  His grandfather was the branch president before we arrived and his mother is less-active. He is one of our most faithful members and has been since we arrived.  Sometimes he has been the only kid in Primary on Sunday!

We dropped by Elena & Amelia Alarcon's home (Dionisio's daughter) to give Elena a birthday gift and we ended up having two-hour party with TONS of desserts.  At first they brought out the hot chocolate and cake, but then they just kept coming out of the kitchen with plates full of various pies and desserts - the table was full - you really could have fed twelve people with the amount of food the brought out for us.  After eating about five pounds each they sent us home with a heaping plate of cake and pie for the next day.  That ended up being our dinner that day - how cool is that to have cake and pie for dinner?

The next day was a whirlwind with taking the Hermanas to Esquel so they could take a bus to Neuquen for the transfers, a baptismal interview for Eric, interviews with the new family that just moved here from Buenos Aires, a meeting with the Jara family and reviewing their plan to send the dad to his hometown to personally pick up a birth certificate so they can be married, a lesson with Gustavo Painenao on patriarchal blessings, and a FHE with the Uribe family where our friendship is deepening and progress is being made.  We ate on the road and had Lays Potato Chips and Doritos for dinner!  Thats two nights in a row now of really healthy dinners around nine o'clock at night.

Friday was spent picking up the Hermanas and the new Elders and showing them around a bit.  The new furniture for the Hermana's apartment arrived but it will all have to be put together. We also have a new family where the man is a member, but his wife is not.  They have two cute little kids (6 & 1) and have invited us back next week - we are hoping the wife will be interested in taking the lessons.

Saturday was spent putting together Sauder furniture for about seven hours.  Two book cases, two desks, and two closets.  The mortgage company gave us years of good practice to prepare us for this moment.  Our hands still hurt from driving in so many screws.  Finally we rented an electric drill from a guy who was doing work on the house next door or we would still be there trying to put them together.  The ten bucks was well worth it!

We had 45 people at church yesterday and spent the evening with the missionaries splitting the town into two areas along with the fifteen families and lunch appointments.

We  are excited to have Elders and know they will be a great help to us in getting things up and running in the branch.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Aug 2013 - Breanna & Zachary

Aug 2013 - Scott & Ann

We had a member who wouldn't come to church because he didn't have black church shoes so I let him borrow mine until we could buy him a pair.  When tried to set an appointment with him to go shoe shopping he refused, not wanting the Church or anyone else to buy him shoes.  The problem was that I only brought two pair of black shoes - one to run around in all week and another for Sundays.  So we devised a plan....we guessed at his shoe size and purchased a new pair.  I wore them around for a few days, being careful to walk through mud so they would appear to be used and well-worn.  We then went to his home one night wearing the shoes and offered him the new pair I was wearing that might fit him even better.  We made the swap and got my Sunday shoes back :)

Our big activity this week was the "Dessert Duel (Duelo de Postres)."  The YM and the YW each got together on Friday to whip up the best dessert possible in hopes of winning the contest.  The YM advisor (Gustavo Painenao) is actually a baker at a local bakery and is REALLY amazing.  He had the YM prepare a peach flan that was amazing.  We got to the church early to set things up and brought an apple crisp thinking that not many people would participate.  In the end there were fifteen entries total (we were expecting five) and the activity was a huge hit.  Everyone was allowed one vote and in the end the Young Women took first prize beating out the Young Men by one vote.  It was awesome!

A sampling of the desserts

1st Place - Young Women

2nd Place - Young Men

3rd Place - Lujan, Iris, & Melina

There are three big holidays for kids in this country - Christmas in December, Three Wise Men Day in January, and Kid's Day in August.  All three are similar in that just like Christmas the kids get gifts and presents.  What a great country!  We hosted a huge "Kid's Day" party at the church with over 60 people in attendance.  We made an awesome cake out of peaches, dulce de leche, and whipped cream.  It was food galore, music, and games for about three to four hours.  Great party!

It snowed this morning.  We were going to wash the car with our garden hose, but it will have to wait until another day. 

View from our apartment window

Last Monday we went to Esquel to spend a little time with one of the Elders who wanted some life advice on finances and education.  On the phone we told him that we could grab a sandwich for lunch if he and his companion wanted but didn't really know if that would happen because the members feed them almost every day.  We took the Sisters with us to Esquel so they could email their families and we dropped them off in the city and then went to the chapel to meet the two Elders.  When we arrived there were four Elders in the room and we chatted for a few minutes and then I asked the Elder we had the appointment with if he had eaten or not.  He said no and we said, "Then let's go."  With that, "four" Elders stood up and followed us out to the car - SURPRISE!  We piled in the car and found a pizza place.  A few minutes later the Hermanas called the district leader to say that the internet store was not working and that they had nothing to do.  He promptly invited them to come join us.  As they walked in the Pizza place we wondered what the Sister had to be thinking...hey, what's up with this, it looks like the Asbells are taking the "guys" out for pizza today, hmmmmm, wonder why they dropped us off and didn't invite us....Anyway they joined in and we ate four pizzas.  We answered most of their "life" questions, helped them prepare for the future, and dropped $100 on lunch.  After that they wanted to get ice cream.  We love ice cream and couldn't say no to that.  We purchased a kilo and all shared out of the same bucket - hey its more sanitary than Mate!  It was a pleasure to spend time with the younger missionaries and an honor to feed them. :)

On Tuesday we had two Family Home Evenings (Noche de Hogar).  We brought out the projector and showed "Finding Faith in Christ" to a new less-active family that the sisters found recently.  The mom and the three boys were baptized about seven years ago and then the mom was in a bad accident with the sister missionaries in the car and she was almost killed while the sister missionaries walked away without a scratch.  With that, her friends and family told her it was a curse from God for hanging out with the Mormons and she stopped coming to church.  I guess no one reminded her that there are over ten million people a day praying for the missionaries....  Anyhow, our sister missionaries found her and have started working with her and are teaching the youngest son (who is now 22) about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We offered to do a FHE for them and they invited the entire family - all the boys along with their non-member wives and children.  It was a great evening and we had fun and connected with the family.  One of the boys who just had a baby four months ago asked us if we would give it a name and a blessing on Sunday.

On Saturday, we had celebrated the Worldwide Day of Service by hosting a service project in Aldea Escolar where we refurbished and cleaned up an area used by local vendors to sell their hand-made wares and food to tourists who come through in the summer.  It was well attended.

Yesterday was Election Day so we only held Sacrament Meeting and canceled everything else. We blessed Danna Flores (the 4-month old baby of Gustavo and Daiana). We had a total of 47 people at church of which five are taking lessons from the sister missionaries!

Maybe it is to early to say, but we have been out for five months as of today and it seems like we are turning the corner with the branch.  The dangerous thing is the second you think that you get smacked around.  Like last night, at the end of the day we were counting up all of the people who were likely to come to church today and we ended up at 40 - wow, they probably haven't had forty people at church here in quite some time.  But, as luck would have it, it rained ALL night and in the morning it snowed.  People don't go out here when the weather is bad because it is very messy and super cold. So we had four of us Sunday School (Gospel Doctrine) and four more in the Gospel Principles class.  Once Sacrament started a few more squeezed in and we ended up at 28 which was a small miracle considering the weather.  Anyhow, we are optimistic and can see some good things happening and are confident that things are looking up.

Monday, August 12, 2013

July 2013 - Breanna & Zachary

July 2013 - Scott & Ann

Our friend, and branch member, Jorge has been in the hospital now for two weeks trying to recover from frostbitten feet and legs.  He drank for two weeks straight and didn't realize his heater wasn't turned on and just about died.  The landlord finally called the police and they got in and took him to the hospital.  We have visited him just about every other day now and are even showing church movies to the other two guys who are in his hospital room.  He has read half of the July Ensign (Liahona) and has committed to come to our Family Home Evening after he gets out of the hospital.  He is walking again with the help of a walker and is in good spirits.  The members have been very supportive and he has had lots of visits.  This is good for our branch to see what happens when you forget about new members and stop fellowshipping them.

About ten minutes after getting home on Sunday after district conference, we were notified that our branch's oldest member (93 years old) had passed away three hours earlier.  We had just started dinner and decided to go ahead and finish cooking and eating before running over to his house to talk things through with his daughters.  A few minutes later, our building maintenance rep called and asked if the family could use the building for the viewing and of course we said yes.  About thirty minutes later we had finished eating and decided to head on over to the deceased member's house to help the daughters make funeral plans and sort out what they wanted the week to look like.  As we drove to his house we passed the chapel and there was a large van unloading a coffin.  Holy Cow, what is going on here!  We stopped and sure enough they were taking him in to start the viewing.  He was still warm!  From that minute forward the church was swarming with people.  They would have stuck with tradition and held a candle vigil all night long, but we instructed them that the Church does not allow all-night vigils in our buildings and so we shut it down around 11:00 PM and told them to come back in the morning.  During that afternoon vigil we hurried to put together a plan because they had nothing and there are no "do-it-all" services like Berg Mortuary around here.  So we made assignments for speakers, musical numbers, prayers, etc and created a printed program.  Then we went to their house with a niece and pulled photos from their computers to make a slideshow with music that the friends and family could enjoy.  We were so tired you could have pushed us over and had a double funeral.  The next morning we opened the chapel at 9:00 AM (which by the way, is VERY early here) and instantly the church was full again.  We tried to help it be more of a happy time with pleasant music (Tabernacle Choir, etc.) rather than the traditional mourning experience that is typical in these parts.  It shocked a few people, but hey the daughters told us to put together a funeral the way their dad would have wanted - so we did.  Then at 10:30 we sent the friends out and passed around the microphone so the family members could share their favorite memories.  At the conclusion, we let the friends come in to pass by the casket for one final good-bye and then excused them again so we could have a family prayer (offered by an Evangelist grand-daughter in law) and have the children close the casket.  We started the funeral at 11:30 and took the opportunity to explain the plan of salvation.  Every time any of us said "Heaven" or "Jesus Christ" some people in the audience would exclaim "AMEN!"  It was awesome.  Can I get another AMEN???  At the conclusion of the funeral service we all got in the cars and drove to the cemetery where we sang a hymn, had another prayer (offered by his Evangelist grandson) and then dedicated the grave.  The coffin was placed in an above-ground cement box (made by the grandson) and then covered with a six-inch layer of cement as we all stood and watched.  The entire process from last breath to cement enclosure was about twenty-seven hours.  WOW!  His daughters had him buried holding his oil vile in his hand and were touched by the last song, "Families can be together forever" which was his favorite song.  They are now taking discussions from our sister missionaries and both daughters came to church today!
We celebrated the "Day of Friends" this week with a party in our chapel.  We had a lot of youth come out to participate - even six or so from the neighboring city.  It was a four-hour party and was great.  One of our youth created a multi-functional Book of Mormon to put on the wall.  We ate hot dogs - they don't use ketchup and mustard but mayonnaise instead.

Gustavo was baptized yesterday and confirmed today.  He will receive the Aaronic Priesthood within the next few weeks.  We hope to have mission papers processed for him before we leave next year.  The sister missionaries found and taught him, but he belongs to all of us :)

Key learnings this week:
1 - Always call to confirm appointments an hour before
2 - If investigators are not reading the Book of Mormon they are not progressing

Earlier this week our investigator said, "I know the Book of Mormon is true because I have read parts of it and listened to it on CD."  We are now helping him understand the blessings of keeping the Sabbath Day holy.  Today is the first time he has not worked on a Sunday.  We are making progress.

We had a three-day youth conference for the three branches in our district.  We had a lot of kids attend and four of them are not even members.  It was a huge success and the youth made a lot of new friends with the other youth in the neighboring city.  I got to do a little jig in the talent show on Friday night with a young man from our branch - we danced to Duelin' Banjo.
What we learned this week:
1. "Mission rules protect you from the lack of emotional intelligence of the people you work with."

2. "The Lord is sustaining us and our family in many ways."

3. "We have nothing to complain about - now or when we go home."


We taught a Family Home Evening (FHE) at the home of a less-active family this week and talked about media and how the adversary puts a little bit of garbage into our ice cream a little at a time so we won't notice.  We used a real cup of ice cream along with a gift from our neighborhood cat.  The kids were shocked by the demonstration - probably traumatized for life and ice cream will never be the same again.  We served ice cream for dessert that night (two kilos - that is a TON here) and we hope the lesson sticks.  The mom tasted the ice cream which is called Bariloche Chocolate and said, "This has whiskey in it." would she know?  We were concerned about that because we love the flavor so much, but after further research it has been proven that the ice cream is whiskey-free!

Ambar was baptized on July 4th.  Everything went perfectly and the font was like a hot tub it was so warm.
We went to teach our investigator family in the mountains and ended up helping him put together a chain saw he was repairing on his kitchen table for two hours before we could give the lesson.  Once he got the chain saw put together, which by then it was 11:00 PM, we prayed really hard that it would work so he wouldn't have to take it apart and start over.  Miracle of worked and at eleven o'clock at night he was out there in the front yard running around, happy as a lark, with a chain saw going full blast.  I'm sure the neighbors wondered what was going on.

I did a baptismal interview for a nine year old boy from another city this week and as soon as I got him in the interview room he said, "Where are you from?" I told him the USA and he said, "That's what I thought because you don't speak Spanish very well - none of you from the US do." Later on in the interview he told me again that I didn't speak very well so at that point I said, "Fine, we will do the rest of your interview in English," and I immediately switched over and started asking the baptismal questions in English.  He was lost in an instant so I went back to Spanish and he didn't make any more comments about my poor Spanish after that.

We did a service project for an inactive family this week and made 192 empanadas for them to sell to raise money for their son's school.  It was a good experience.

Today we got a first counselor in the branch.  The bishop who moved in accepted the call and his wife is our new young women's president.  How lucky can we be?

We had an activity yesterday for the youth and we went and picked up two less active boys who are usually a real handful.  By the end of the activity everyone wanted to tie up the older boy who is twelve because he was so distracting to the other kids who were trying to pay attention to the movie we were watching.  We took the two boys home along with Ambar and her two brothers at the same time.   Once the boys exited the car, every one of the three Cañiu kids said, "What a relief."  I asked them what we should do with the older boy and Amber piped right up that we should "roast him over a  BBQ pit!"  Kind of funny coming from an eight year old girl who was baptized two days ago.

Monday, July 1, 2013

June 2013 - Breanna & Zachary

June 2013 - Scott & Ann

30 Jun 2013
We ran out of gas on Friday night coming back from our investigator family in the mountains after teaching another lesson.  It was about 11:30 at night and everyone we called was partying or something and we couldn't get a taxi because they are not allowed to carry gasoline so we ended up calling our investigator family to come save us.  We were truly in the middle of nowhere on a dark desert highway in the middle of the Patagonia and we were FREEZING cold.  They brought the whole family to save us and we piled into their VW to go get gas in Trevelin.  They don't have normal gas cans around here so we had to siphon the gas from the gas can through a hose and into the gas tank.  The poor dad got gas in his mouth in the process.  We were okay with that because we knew he wouldn't go home and smoke that night.  We didn't get home until after 1:00 AM that night and we were really worn out.    
It was worth it because we had a good lesson with them.  We asked the dad to explain the origin of the Book of Mormon to us once we realized he wasn't really focused on reading it very much.  He was confused and after explaining it all again for the third time (with his wife shaking her head the whole time explaining it along with us) it seems like he finally understands. He went home that night after saving us and read two pages of the Book of Mormon and another two pages the next night.  He seems to be serious now and understands the promise in Moroni which we explained in detail. 
We start our English classes next Saturday!  A lot of people are excited so we are expecting this to be a good tool for us to meet people.

24 Jun 2013
We finally made it to Chile.  We have 52 members of our Branch that live in the town of Futaleufu, Chile and we are trying to figure out how to help them.  The trip there and back was crazy.  It was a dirt road through mountains and two border patrol stations.  It took us about 30 miles each way, but by the time you go through the red tape at the border of each country (4 times - 2 each way) it takes a little under two hours to get there and another two hours to get back.  Now we can see why these folks don't come to church as often as we would like.  The trip here and back takes them more time than the three hours they spend in church, and the hassle factor and the wear and tear on a vehicle (for the few that have them) is tremendous.  We will keep searching for ways to help these wonderful people.

Homemade Chilean Hot Tub - just add fire!

17 Jun 2013
When our sister missionaries arrived we introduced them to a young girl who will be turning eight next month and wants to be baptized.  She is the little sister of two of our most faithful members, a thirteen and a nine year old boy.  The sisters taught the seven year old girl the word of wisdom this week and after explaining it all they said, "Will you keep the word of wisdom?" She responded with, "I don't think I can give up my coffee!"  We thought that was a pretty honest answer from a seven year old. :)
We are also reading the Book of Mormon each week with a less-active member and each time we go to his home he tells us he has read, but then can't seem to remember what he read.  Recently, we asked him to read 1 Nephi Chapter 8.  When we sat down to read, as usual, he said that he had read.   As we reviewed it and asked him to explain what the fruit was like on the tree of life in Lehi's dream, he blurted out with an air of pride, that it was "tempting."  As we suspected, he had not read... 
We are witnessing many miracles as people are starting to read the Book of Mormon.  We even had a member who finally came to church last week for the first time in a LONG time show up today again for the second time.  He was excited to tell us that he had bid his wife good bye as she left to go to church and had climbed back in bed to go back to sleep.  It's really tough around here because we start church REALLY early, at 10:00 AM.  Anyhow, he got back into bed and then something told him to get up and go to church. He hurried and dressed only to arrive at the bus stop after the bus had left.  He stood there a bit depressed wondering how his wife would ever believe that he had tried and the a truck zipped by him, hit the brakes, backed up and asked him if he needed a ride.  This guy lives way up in the mountains and it was nothing less than a miracle that someone was even on the road going that direction that time of day.  He was really impressed that he had experienced this miracle and was able to go to church.  Once there he connected with a fellow who is trying to stop smoking and gave him encouragement since he had recently stopped smoking himself.
Our investigators came to church today.  They stayed the entire time and seemed to like it.  In fact, they went to his mother's home for lunch today and told her all about it and now she want to go to church with them the next time.  By the way, his brother owns and runs a local Evangelist church so we are sure it will go over like a lead balloon once the brother finds out the rest of the family is converting to Mormonism... 
Interesting day at church today because many people were away for Father's Day. I was the only Melchizedek Priesthood holder in the building.  I taught the priesthood lesson, conducted the Sacrament Meeting, blessed the bread and the water and then gave a talk in church because the guy who was supposed to speak didn't show up - HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!
The pipes in the church freeze so we had no water in the building today.  Next time we will plan ahead now that it is winter.

10 Jun 2013
We got our hands on a violin and a piano/organ (small portable version) and are starting music lessons for some of the youth in the ward this coming Friday.  They are excited and it should help to reactivate some of the less-active youth.
We finally got home and visiting teaching set up and handed out the assignments today.  It seems like most people are excited to get it up and running again. We think it will really help the branch a lot to have people other than the branch president making visits.
We had a service project at the church where we cleaned all the windows (outside) to remove the ash from the volcano that erupted a few years back.  We also fixed all of the chairs and replaced all of the missing or broken plastic pieces - you know, the ones that are missing on the bottom that always ruin our hard-wood gym floors back home....we had a good turn out with even a few non-members that jumped in to help. 
Our family home evening went well.  We have found that the best FHE lessons are as simple as downloading a quick conference clip with a story from and then discussing it with everyone after watching it. 
We continue to read the Book of Mormon with some members in their homes to help strengthen their testimonies and help them create good habits.  Our friend who survived the heart attack came to church today for the first time in a long time.  We have invested so many hours with this brother that we stopped counting a month ago.  The hook today was that his wife gave a talk in Sacrament Meeting and he was assigned to bring the bread for the Sacrament.  On top of that we prepared ahead of time and sang his favorite hymn and he knew we were doing it for him.  We'll see what we can come up with next week.  Maybe we will invite President Monson to come down and pay the fellow a visit or something.
We called and set apart two new Aaronic Priesthood presidents today (Deacons & Teachers).  After the new Deacon's Quorum President was set apart he stood up and his mother gave him a big hug and said, "Son, this is the first step towards being a member of the Quorum of the Twelve."  It really caught him off guard and he just smiled in a daze....
We took one day this week with the regional property managers and fixed all of the broken things at the church.  We fixed doors, lights, locks, the baptismal font pump (because we plan to use it soon), vacuums, and a ton of simple things that we take for granted back home that cause problems around here.  It was a great day and the church is now better prepared for investigators and members to enjoy.
We had a great visit with our investigating family this week.  We taught them the first lesson about prophets, the apostasy, and the Restoration.  We visited them again tonight and read Joseph Smith's Testimony about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon.  They are doing well. 
We went out to dinner with President Giorgi and his wife last night.  They took us to one of the nicest places in the city where we had squid, cow tongue (surprisingly good), and a few other things.  Luckily we avoided the frogs that they encouraged us to order.  Then we had a steak and salmon (Pacific coast to be specific) for the main course.  Dessert was berries with cream and creme brûlée.
We continue to have people put in our path at very specific times and ways to get us into conversation with them.  Amazing to see it happen over and over!

3 Jun 2013
Our conference was cancelled due to the dangers of the volcano that is letting off some steam. So Elder Cook was stuck in Buenos Aires and didn't make it to Neuquen. Rather than go to Neuquen for a mission conference and meeting with Elder Cook, we ended up having a satellite training from Buenos Aires and I drove to Bariloche with the local leaders instead.  Still a long day, but great training and advice.
We just returned from our second visit with our investigating family in the mountains.  They had a bunch of questions related to the Plan of Salvation so instead of teaching about the Restoration we switched gears and taught them about our pre-mortal live, why we are here on this earth, and where we will go after we die. It went well and we even had their 12 year old daughter there the whole time as we explained it all.  They invited us back this coming Wednesday.
We spent a good portion of the week putting systems together for the branch.  Things like a teaching schedule for Priesthood, Relief Society, and Sunday School; Agendas for Ward Council and Missionary Correlation because they have none right now; a monthly calendar showing all of the activities for the ward and the YM; Youth Interview Schedules and a form to use during the interview; Setting up monthly firesides and service project schedules; a cleaning schedule for the church, a FHE Schedule so we can share the love with weekly lesson preparation, a checklist to use when issuing a new calling to someone so nothing is forgotten, Melchizedek Priesthood preparation training; a schedule of all auxiliary meetings for the rest of the year showing date and time; and a few other things I can't remember right now.  Our focus is on the youth because we really think they will come out and be the future of this branch.  

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

May 2013 - Scott & Ann

We have had an interesting month with highs and lows.  Highs, when someone catches the vision of who they are and who they can become, and lows when they forget and return to their natural-man ways.  We have determined that a mission is as much for the missionary as for the people he or she serves.  With every day comes a new awareness of our shortcomings and weaknesses; the mission experience accentuates all of that and has made it clear to our view. 

We have seen some good progress with members and investigators who are coming out to activities and worship services.  We even celebrated “25 de Mayo,” Argentina’s Revolution Day with a big party at the church where about sixty people came to celebrate and eat “Locro” with us.  Locro is a traditional dish made up of cow stomach, cow tail, pig skin, pig feet, chicken wings, various sausages and a few beans and vegetables.  It took hours to prepare and, along with live guitar and accordion music to sing and dance to, provided the main attraction for the party.

One of our favorite experiences in teaching the gospel so far has been with a family that lives out in a small hamlet near the mountains.  They have been members of various churches (Evangelist churches in particular) in the past but are still searching for the true church of Jesus Christ.  When we first met them, they wanted to talk about prophets.  We explained how the Bible is a record of prophets from the middle east (Jerusalem and surrounding areas) and how The Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ is a record of prophets in this, the American continent.  As we explained how prophets were led from Jerusalem to other parts of the world and that God still loved them and wanted to speak to all of his children through prophets regardless of where they lived, you could see the light go on in their heads and they understood.  The father even said, “so, that means there are probably other records written by other prophets that we don’t even have or know about right now that will come to light sometime in the future.”  We explained how the Bible and the Book of Mormon work together to testify that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that he was crucified for the sins of the world and that he resurrected and lives today.  Having two witnesses (books of scripture) that both testify of the same Savior and his Gospel helps all of God’s children know that what the Bible teaches really is true, that we have living prophets in our day, and that God always has and always will work through his prophets to teach his children.  They are really excited to have this new knowledge and are reading parts of the Book of Mormon to gain their own testimonies of its truthfulness.  I know it is a true book of scripture because I have read it and felt the witness of the Holy Ghost as I read from its pages – it has changed my life.  Anyone can know of its truthfulness with surety if he or she will read and sincerely ask God if it is true - he will answer.