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!