December was a great month because much of the work we started last March finally came to fruition. We had five people get baptized this month and our attendance at Sacrament Meeting averaged 56 (there were 12 members in attendance the first week we arrived in March). Everyone (missionaries, members, local leaders) has worked so hard to help this little branch grow and become stronger and it has been a miracle for us to see it happen and be part of it.
16 Dec 2014
What an awesome week!
On Tuesday, the Jara's document arrived in the mail. We immediately went with them to get registered at the Civil Registry for the marriage. They were married on Thursday and we had a nice little ceremony where we threw rice and took a lot of photos. After that we took them out for pizza and ice cream.
Next we got geared up for patriarchal blessing and temple recommends and issued a calling to Mario Jara (the dad) to be our Branch Mission Leader. Waste no time! On Saturday Mario baptized his wife (Analia) and his daugther (Micaela - 9 years old). It was a beautiful baptism and they are truly converted because they have been trying to get to this point now for about six months and during that entire time they just kept studying full speed ahead.
Today, they were both confirmed in church, again by Mario. The are being kicked out of where they live now because the landlord doesn't like Mormons - they will have to find a new place by the end of the year. They live in the most humble of circumstances - you can even see outside through the cracks in the wood wall.
We met a girl at the grocery store who is a cashier. She speaks a little English so we try to go through her line when we can to help her practice. We offered to teach her some private English classes and spent about five hours with her last week helping her prepare for her English finals and oral exam at the school she attends. She is 28 and just finishing her fourth year of law at the university. She is a very bright girl. We were a little sad to hear that school was coming to an end, thinking that we would not be able to see her much over the summer, but then she said she wants to continue meeting with us and that she wants to hear our lessons about the Scriptures. Excellent!!! Her first lesson will be this coming Tuesday.
The mom and dad of the little girl (Ambar) we baptized in July are both taking lessons right now and want to be baptized this month as part of the "White Christmas" we are planning. We have spent a lot of time with him helping him understand the Gospel and gain a testimony. He is a very good man and is attracted to the Church and the Gospel because of what it can do for his family - he sees what good it has done for his kids and now he wants to be part of it.
We had 59 people at Sacrament Meeting today. The missionaries are so good at helping round up the members and investigators for church - today we even had two less-actives come that have not been in the church for years, along with a ton of investigators. Our Gospel Principles class was so full that we honestly didn't have room for another person and they started sending people to Gospel Doctrine after the room maxed out around 22 people. That is exciting!
The Young Men were scheduled to go camping this week, but with the rat problems this year we determined it was too dangerous to chance Hantavirus so instead we rented a cabin on a river. Five YM showed up. We roasted hot dogs over a fire and they stayed up until four in the morning talking. We fished the next day on the river. It's the closest thing they will ever get to a Boy Scout overnighter.
On Saturday, Paola Toro and Juan Caniu were baptized. They were the first people to greet us when we arrived in Trevelin. That first evening we were in the grocery store (La Anonima) purchasing cleaning supplies and she ran up to us and was very excited to see missionaries in their town because she had two young boys that were members and wanted them to get involved. We have worked with them for nine months and it took the effort of everyone (missionaries, members, their own children) to get them to this point. It was an exciting day for everyone.
We had a pre-Christmas dinner with the Caniu family on Monday night. They had the house decked out with a strand of lights outside and a decorated tree inside.
On Christmas Day our district got together for a little party at our chapel. We had barbecued lamb (asado) and exchanged gifts. After that we went to President Christian Giorgi and his wife Dana's house for another BBQ - this time it was goat and spent the afternoon with the two of them.
The day after Christmas we had Christmas Dinner with Elena and Amelia Alarcon. They are the best cooks we have met in Argentina and we are always amazed at what they bring out of their kitchen - just like home!
On Saturday, the YM had a cycling activity. Only one young man had his own bike so we ended up renting the others and completed a twelve-mile trip in the country towards Lake Futalaufquen. It is some of the most beautiful countryside around.
On Sunday we made the transition from Missionary branch leadership to local. President Walter Estrella was sustained as the new branch president and I was released. He and his family have been here in Trevelin now for five to six months. When they came here, they both said, "We have no idea why or how we ended up in Trevelin." We all knew why and knew that The Lord had guided them here to help strengthen this branch. President Estrella called Mario Jara as his first counselor and me as his second.