Thursday, July 14, 2011

July 11, 2011

Jordan and his new companion Elder Vergara in front of the famous obelisk in the middle of Buenos Aires

Jordan had to go into the heart of Buenos Aires with some other Elders from his mission to run some errands for his visa. One of the Missionaries in his group was named Hermana Price. He got to talking while he was waiting and it came out that she was a niece of Barb and Rod Price from the Greenwood Village Ward (where Jord grew up). He was happy to know someone there who has some connection, however obscure, to his life outside of Buenos Aires.  As soon as he finished talking to Hermana Price, some Elders from the Buenos Aires West mission walked into the visa building and he started to talk with them. One of them, Elder Shepard, is from Las Vegas and he used to be in Paul and Erin´s (Jordan's sister and brother-in-law) ward and Paul was his Priests Quorum Leader. It's kind of silly how small the Mormon world is.

"The first week with Elder Vergara was way too good and also really different. With Elder Stokes, we had a lot of immature fun (amidst all of the very mature missionary work of course). Elder Vergara is really fun and easy to get along with, but its a totally different dynamic than I had with Elder Stokes. Seeing as to how Elder Vergara is almost 26, the immature fun on my mission has kind of evolved. But its probably for the best. Elder Vergara is teaching me so much. He is super hard working and loving and warm and has the laugh of tinkling bells and makes me want to be better. I need to send out a recording of his laugh. It's way too good. Seriously. He is such a stud and the only member in his family. He was baptized about four years back, and since then he has been as solid as a rock in the gospel. It's also awesome for my Spanish to have a Latin comp because now I am obligated to speak Spanish 100% of the time. I love it. My Castillano is getting way way better and my English is getting way way worse. Today I was talking to some other American Elders and they were having a lot of trouble understanding me. It gave me a strange feeling of pride not to be able to speak adequate English. Anyways, Elder Vergara is such a great guy. I have been so lucky to have such great companions I can't believe it."

"This week I pretty much just took Elder Vergara around to get to know the area and all of our investigators. Everyone loved Elder Vergara so fast and easily.  One experience especially affected me this week. We are teaching a 50 some year old man named Gustavo. He has been a non progressing investigator in our area for probably a year and a half. Usually when investigators don't progress, the Elders stop visiting them. This should have happened a long time ago in Gusatvos case, but he loves the Elders so much and the Elders love him so much that none of the Elders, including me, have had the heart of wants to drop him. He always says that the Elders are his family since he has none, and treats us as such. He has a hard time believing in God because his whole family except for him (wife and two children) was killed in a bus crash about ten years back. Whenever I have talked to him about the crash, I have had a really hard time expressing why God would let such a thing happen. Elder Vergara and I went to his house this Thursday simply for Elder Vergara to get to know him. As he does with everyone, Elder Vergara got to know Gustavo unnaturally fast and Gustavo told Elder Vergara the story about his family. As he told the story, all three of us started to cry. After Gustavo finished the story, the room was so quiet and intense for what felt like 2 or three minutes. With tears in his eyes, Elder Vergara started to talk and tell Gustavo how his Father had died unexpectedly the third day of his mission. I did not know this before the lesson. Elder Vergara then told us how at this point in his mission he wondered if he should go home and this was a time of a lot of prayer for him. Amidst all the sorrow and prayer Eder Vergara thought of the words of the song ¨"A Child's Prayer", especially the lines "Heavenly father, are you really there?" and "Some say that Heaven is far away, but I feel it close around me as I pray". He said that at this point he felt the presence of Heavenly Father so strong and knew of a surety that his father was alright and that he should stay on his mission.He then gave a testimony of the reality of Heavenly Father and his love for us that siphoned the Spirit so thickly into the room like I have never ever felt it before. Elder Vergara then asked Gustavo if we could kneel together in prayer and have Gustavo offer the prayer. He accepted and Gustavo then gave the most humble and sincere prayer. After he finished we all just sat in silence for a few minutes until Gustavo started saying over and over "Me siento tanto amor, tanto amor, tanto amor". He knows has a testimony of God´s reality and where his family is. It couldn't be better. The whole experience was so intense and real."

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

July 4, 2011

Jordan trying to look cute
 Jordan's dinner on Saturday. The sausage looking things are Mosilla: cooked blood squished into a sausage with floating bits of potato. Mmmmmm.....
 A family of about "5 trillion" that Jordan is teaching and loves so much
Elder Stokes and Jordan reenacting a story for a family of when a pack of dogs chased us (Jordan is wearing a watch...hehe)

"Elder Stokes and I just enjoyed one anothers company as much as we could in what was probably our last week together. We made it a goal this week to follow the Spirit and have it as much in our work as we could. We also made it a goal to find as many new people to teach as we could. Those two goals together induced a lot of success. Just by trying to have the Spirit with us as much as we could, good things just kept on happening. It seemed like every time we took the bus, someone would come  to US and ask US what we were doing here and what our message is. In the end we found 19 new investigators this week. Just by trying a little harder to focus on the Spirit. This makes me want to try even harder to involve the Lord in the work as much as possible. If the Spirit and the missionary work together special things are bound to happen. It was a fitting week to end an awesome companionship on.

This Saturday we got our transfer call from the President informing us that Elder Stokes got transferred to another area and that I am going to stay here in City Bell and find out who my companion is the following Monday in transfer meetings. The whole mission gets together in one place to meet their new companions, listen to the Elders testimonies who are going home, and then listen to a quick message from the president. There I found out that I am going to be with Elder Vergaras for the next transfer. I am really sad to see Elder Stokes go, but I already love Elder Vergaras. Elder Vergaras is from Tierra Del Fuego, Argentina (pretty much Antarctica) and is 25 years old. When we were first introduced I just heard "Elder Lewis is going to be with Elder Vergaras" and before I knew it I was engulfed in a lot of man hug from some big thick Argentine man that was Elder Vergaras. He is really jolly and kind of plump and his laughs sounds kind of like the laughs of Aunt Linda, Sister Ludwig, and Julie Perry all rolled up into one. I have a feeling that we are going to have lots of fun with each other. I feel so blessed to have had such awesome and happy and hard working companions thus far in the mission. And companions who love the man hug as much as I do. I love the work. I love the message. I love the people. I love the mission. I love my companions. It's all just too too good."

June 27, 2011

Transfers are coming up this Saturday for Jordan, and it is almost sure that Elder Stokes is leaving. He has been in City Bell for 9 months, and that is already way longer than missionaries are supposed to stay in one area. Jordan said that the idea of Elder Stokes leaving makes his hands sweat, but at the same time, he is excited for the oppurtunity to learn and grow.  His second companion in Argentina will probably be a Latin missionary so he will be speaking Spanish 100% of the time. He says he can finally understand pretty much everything people are saying to him, but as his Spanish gets better, his English gets worse. He and Elder Stokes use a lot of Spanglish around the apartment.  
"This week there was a soccer game where the equivalent of the Yankees (River Plate) lost so many games that they dropped out of the major leagues and is no longer a professional team. It doesn't seem like that big of a deal, but you have no idea. After River officially dropped from the professional level, there were violent riots in all the town squares (hundreds injured) and crying people EVERYWHERE. I could not believe it. Needless to say, we could not get into any houses or do any work and eventually our zone leaders called us and told us to go back to our apartment in light of all the soccer commotion. Soccer is almost literally the national religion here. Who knew it could affect the work so much.

The work is going well and has its ups and downs. We have more than enough people to teach, but less than enough people who are motivated enough to make changes. I know that if we keep on working as hard and as smart as we can, the Lord will do his part and lead us to the people who are truly prepared to hear the word."

June 20, 2011

"There was a big volcano in Chile. The volcano erupted literally tons and tons of ash, and the ash is making its way all the way across Argentina to Buenos Aires.  There is tons of ash falling from the sky and covering everything here in what just looks like dirt. In the western part of Buenos Aires it looks like feet and feet of snow. When we get back to our apartment for the night every night, our white shirts are more like grey shirts. But the best part of the whole thing that I have been loving is that the falling ash makes sweet sunsets like I have never seen in my life. I make Elder Stokes stop (no matter what we are doing) and watch the sunset for 10 minutes or so. It's too good.
Funny Story that happened this week: Elder Stokes and I go to the same little grocery store every time we buy food. At the grocery store we go to, the cashier is a girl who is about 22/23 years old. Every time we check out with her, she just stares us down and is really shameless about it, but will never say ANYTHING to us. (Lots and lots of Argentines just really like American boys) Elder Stokes and I contacted (gave her a church pamphlet and tried to have a gospel conversation) one of the first times we saw her and she just would not say a single word. So Elder Stokes and I have made it a game that every time we go to this grocery store and see her to act like we have never contacted her before to see if she will finally say anything. One day this week we did the contact again with the same result. But as she handed me the folded receipt for the things we had bought, I felt something folded into the receipt. I didn't really think about it at the time and just shoved the receipt into my pocket. As we were unloading the groceries back in our apartment, I took the receipt out of my pocket and found a note that said, in English, "I dream about you last night." In Argentina, saying you dreamed about someone is just kind of a pick up line. I just started laughing and showed it to Elder Stokes and we couldn't stop laughing for a long time. This girl who will NEVER EVER talk to us and we think that she hates us, just gave me a love note. Maybe the next time we go back she will finally talk to us."