3 March 2014
This week Gustavo and Raul taught Family Night - it was awesome. Raul is about 26 and has a baptism date for this coming Saturday, March 8th. He is from Bolivia and the first time we met him (about ten months ago) we felt like he needed to hear the message of the Restoration and that he would be open to it. He attended some of our Family Home Evenings with the Montesino family. Little by little, the hermana missionaries have been teaching him and he now has a testimony.
Lujan Silva’s daughter Melina Rocha was baptized this week. She was baptized at age eight but the branch leaders at that time failed to record the information into the Church record-keeping system (MLS) and we could not find witnesses who could remember who performed the baptism and confirmation so we were forced to start over and baptize her again. If it isn’t recorded – it didn’t happen. She didn’t mind at all and was happy to get baptized again thinking she had sinned plenty over the past two and a half years :)
The Jara family left this week for Trelew where they have great cancer treatment programs. His life might be extended some with chemo-therapy treatments so they are going to give it a shot. We said our good-byes because without a miracle of some kind we may not see them again.
Macarena bore her testimony in church today. She is the little twelve-year-old girl we buy homemade cakes and doughnuts from. We started buying from her about six months ago because we felt that she was a special girl and wanted to help her and her family. Everyday she sells baked goods on the street and in the Plaza. She gets two pesos for each twenty-peso budin she sells and if she sells at least six a day she gets an extra six pesos as a bonus. A peso represents about fifteen cents. Her sisters are all too embarrassed to be seen out in public selling things on the street but she is a determined little girl and is not afraid to make a living by hard work. In her testimony today she said that she knows the church is true and that she has investigated three churches now and this is the true church. She considers herself a member now, even though she is not baptized, because this is the church she has chosen and plans to continue coming until her parents eventually give her permission to be baptized. Her mother is a devout Catholic and her father is a member of an Evangelist church. She is a very special girl and will make a great member and a wonderful missionary.
10 March 2014
We went camping in the mountains with the youth as a district youth conference and had a great time. It was super cold at night but they all survived and want to do it again. We ended up with three active youth, two less-active, and three non-members. Macarena came to church again yesterday and we now have an up-and-running young women's program so they had their first class and lesson yesterday. Even though she is not a member she may end up being our class president because she is a real go-getter and will go out and find the other girls and bring them in.
We worked a lot with Raul this week and had two lessons with him and Gustavo to help him get ready for his baptism which took place on Saturday. He is really converted and took his time to learn the Gospel and gain his testimony.
The weekends are rough here because we live on the Avenue and everyone parties all night. On Saturday night we only had three and a half hours of sleep - we are still trying to recover.
We cleaned the church on Saturday to get ready for our open house on the 15th. We scrubbed years of smoke and soot off of the yellow walls. It seems to be a combination of volcanic ash from the volcano eruption a few years ago along with the gas heaters that leaves a black film on the walls. The difference was amazing and you could see black and white every time anyone wiped the wall with the detergent-water mix.
17 March 2014
We spent the week scrubbing walls at the church getting ready for the open house. We also made a few small repairs and improvements, one of which was a new bulletin board. The old one had a carpet surface and we could never get anything to stick to it - it has driven us crazy for a year now. We decided to install corkboard. Wow, this is where it gets interesting. We first asked the properties manager to send it to us because the last time we purchased a 12 X 18 inch piece of corkboard for the primary room we paid over 100 pesos which was equivalent to a little under $20 US dollars. We needed about five pieces to complete the job and since we only get about 1,800 pesos per quarter in branch budget we didn't want to spend our budget on it. It took a bit of coordinating but they purchased it in Bariloche and sent it to us on the bus and we picked it up a the terminal. When we went to install it, the pieces they sent were of various thickness and we didn't have enough of any particular size to complete the job and make it all lay flat. So we went in search of additional pieces to match the ones we had. It was very educational, corkboard is not a simple thing. It comes in a variety of sizes and thicknesses. It also comes with or without gomaeva (a type of rubber) mixed in. And depending on where you go they sell it by the kilo or by the cut. The large sizes ( 24 X 36) are preferable because they result in fewer seams but are next to impossible to find. In the end, we couldn't find anything in Trevelin or Esquel that matched the pieces we already had. Additionally, each place must have had a different manufacturer because the sizes were not consistent from one to the other. The pieces they sent us from Bariloche were stamped "5" but the other options for sale that were size 5 were much thicker and the smaller sizes 2.5 and 3 were way to thin and of course you had to fly to Buenos Aires to find a size 4 which may or may not work in the end. So, we broke down after about three hours of searching and just bought all of it from our favorite hardware store in Esquel. As we were walking out the door to leave, I had the thought to ask this fellow if the two small tubes of glue we were sold by another hardware store in Trevelin would be sufficient for all of this. He laughed and said, "No, you need some serious glue to make this stick to the already existing carpet." He showed us two sizes of some super-duper glue that would do the job - a quart and a half quart of glue - one costing about $9 (64 pesos) and the other about $6 (46 pesos) and told us that the half quart would just barely finish the job but that the quart would leave extra for other projects. We purchased the quart of headed home. Once at the church we laid everything out and cut the pieces perfectly with our Leatherman knife so that everything was beautiful and snug. Then we opened the glue. The glue had a terrible smell that gives you a headache just like the Kilz primer we use back home. We spread the glue with a spatula and laughed as we did it that the two small tubes of glue we bought from the first hardware store would have hardly been sufficient for one piece. About half way through we realized that we were almost out of glue and that created a problem because once applied to both the cork board and the carpet, the glue only needed to dry for ten to twenty minutes before being pressed together. We ran to the hardware store across the street and paid over 100 pesos for the exact same bottle we had just purchased in Esquel a few hours earlier for only half as much. We finished the job and were left with about half an inch of glue in the can. We stacked books it to apply pressure and left for a few hours to run other errands. When we came back and took off the books the board instantly bubbled up in about five places where it didn't want to stick. We determined that the moisture from the glue had caused our perfectly sized pieces to expand and that the only way to make it fit would be to trim a few centimeters off around the edge of the entire board so that it would lay flat. We borrowed a razor blade and went to work scraping and separating the cork board from the carpet in the areas that had already dried firmly so that it could be cut and lay flat again. It was at this point that we both looked at each other and said that whatever amount of pain and suffering these people would have incurred over the next ten years of having to deal with a carpet bulletin board was small in comparison to what we were dealing with. A couple of hours later it fit perfectly again. We placed heavy books on it again to hold it in place and left it over night. The next day, as it dried, the cork board contracted and shrunk back to it's original size now leaving gaps in the seams and around the edges of the board. We looked at it and simply said, "it works and it will be full of papers and announcements so maybe no one will even notice." What an adventure!
We handed out over 55 invitations to our non-member friends in the city. We have made a lot of friends at the various businesses so we went out and invited them all personally to our open house.
The open house was a HUGE success and we ended up having 32 non-members attend. Many of them were contacted on the street during the open house and ushered in by our missionaries who stood out on the street greeting everyone who passed by. Five of the people we invited came. We received many referrals and our missionaries are going to be very busy for the next month.
Our sister missionaries were called as young women advisors last week and we called Macarena to be our Beehive Class President yesterday. She is very excited. Even though she is not a member yet, she is our only active girl in the entire young women's program. She is anxious to go out and help us bring the other young women in.
24 March 2014
This week we taught FHE again. We based the lesson on Mosiah 4:30 and focused on thoughts, words, and actions. For thoughts we rolled up colored pieces of paper (bad thoughts) and pushed them into a toilet paper roll (our minds) and then pushed in white pieces of paper (good thoughts) to get rid of the bad thoughts. Then we had someone squeeze a tube of toothpaste and then try to put it back again to show how words are difficult to take back after having been said. Then we had a row of dominoes that represented our actions and how they affect others and how we can stop a chain reaction by just pulling out one domino or by changing our actions. To top it all off we popped popcorn and said that those who followed this counsel were like the beautiful pieces of popped corn and those who did not would be like the kernels at the bottom of the bowl that never flourished or amounted to anything but to be tossed out.
We did a lot of branch work this week to try and wrap up the loose ends. It is all coming together. We act as both counselors, the executive secretary, and the financial clerk all in one so there is always a lot to do.
On Saturday we held our YM/YW activity taught them to make bread. They played ping pong and foosball and built popsicle stick homes while it was rising and baking. They enjoyed it so much that it turned into a four-hour activity. We used the bread on Sunday for the Sacrament.
31 March 2014
We did a Family Home Evening with the popsicle stick housed the youth built on Saturday to demonstrate the difference between a house built on a rock and one built on sand - it was a hit.
We are having lots of success from the open house and already have baptisms set for April. We want to do it every six months!
We took three investigators to the General Women's Meeting on Saturday and then went out for ice cream after - they had a great time.
Ann gave a great talk in church yesterday on missionary work and I did the 5th Sunday combined lesson on finances and budgeting which is an important part of self-reliance that needs to be taught in this area.