Tuesday, March 20, 2012
This week was really wild. If I had to compare it to a certain plate of food, it would for sure be stir fry. We did a lot of traveling. This week, we had Capacitation for leaders in the mission offices, and it was the longest thing everrrrrrr. The mission offices are about two hours in bus and train and then bus again. We had to do that trip twice a day for three days. It was so hot and sweaty and humid in the buses and even worse in the trains. If anyone ever wants to have a truly Argentina experience, you need to hop on a bus in the middle of summer (100%humidity) that is so full of nearly naked, sweaty people that you have to contort yourself into a small ball and have your nose in a large Bolivian woman's unshaven armpit to be able to fit on the bus. I complain about it now, but I will miss it so bad in about a year from now. And the trains are even better. In the capacitation, President and the assistants talked about every mission problem there can be. At one point we argued about at what point in sacrament meeting it was okay to take off your suit jacket. Gooooooo. So that is how I spent the majority of my week.
Speaking of missing Argentina in a year or so, I recently talked to President and he approved my request to extend my mission an extra 32 days. Wooooo! All I have to do is find someone else who is scheduled to go home in February and convince them to extend there mission too. I don't think it will be too hard. So, most likely that I will be seeing you all in late March/Early April of next year. I just realized that by extending my mission. I will be missing my third march madness in a row. Rethinking..... haha
My new area is real good. I am actually doing ANOTHER whitewash because Solano used to be two areas and it was just made one when I got here. It's a super good area and the members are super nice from what I have seen so far. This area is pretty villa. All of the streets are so narrow that if you take one step off the path in either direction, you are inside of someones villa house. It's wild. There is lots of robbing that happens all around, but luckily Elder Ramos is friends with all the robbers and they leave us alone. When they want to rob us my comp just says, "No man! We are goin' to church!" For some reason, that convinces them to leave us alone.
Things are sweet with Elder Ramos. I love Peruvians, especially short ones. In other words, I love all Peruvians. They are always so jolly and love to cook you food and love practical jokes. He is teaching me how to be a zone leader, and I listen intently. Basically as a Zone Leader, you have to go to the hospital whenever one of the members of your zone goes to the hospital and stay there till they get out, talk a lot with President about everything that is happening in your zone. You also have lots of meeting with the Stake President. He told me that to be a zone leader is like being a mini mission president over 20 or so missionaries. It's cool thought. I kind of fell like I'm being trained again. This is the first time that I have a companion older than me in about 7 months. It's real good to be taken care of and not the other way around for a little bit.
Today I had to accompany Elder Ramos to Capital to do some paperwork for his visa. It was exciting to go to Capital again. It was good to be out of the villa and into a city for a little bit. We went to capital with a group of other missionaries who had to do paperwork too. One of them was a pair of sister missionaries. I asked one of them where she was from and she told me Nicaragua. I told her that Rick is in Nicaragua and she freaked out and was like, "Elder Millett!!!!!???" Then I kind of freaked out and shouted and danced and peed a little. I showed her the picture of Matt, Rick, Kyle, Akash and I that I always carry around with me. Confirmed. It turns out that she was in one of Ricks wards and knew him really well. It was really exciting and we talked about Rick the rest of the trip. I can't believe my buddies are coming home in the next 4 months. Can't believe it.
The other day we went over to one of the members in our wards houses to have dinner and a family home evening. We got to the house and found out that we would be sharing dinner (an asado) with an Elder who was going home and his family who had just come from the states to pick him up. The family's name is Schmitt. They are from Texas. I cannot tell you how weird it was to speak English with adults from the United States again. It was so good and so funny to watch them try to eat asado. They were really grossed out, but ate blood sausage anyways. (P.S. I'm starting to get a taste for blood sausage. It pretty good once you forget what you are eating....) I acted as the translator because they didn't speak any Spanish whatsoever. They were so nice.
This week we are baptizing a lady named Lidia. She is 60ish years old and real good. She was a Jehovah's Witness and is now getting excommunicated for getting baptized in our church. She is such a boss with so much faith. This baptism is a little strange for me because I have never baptized someone that I have not found personally. I don't know her all that well because i just got here, but I love her tons nonetheless.
Remember how I was supposed to stay in Longchamps until late April? I thought that was true until President called me Saturday morning and told me that I was called as a zone leader and am to move to a new area. He asked me if I was ready to do that, and I told him that I didn't know if it was such a good idea. He asked me if I believe in revelation and I said okay. I never thought saying goodbye to an area would be so hard. Yesterday I ran around and said goodbye to everyone I have learned to love over the past 8 months. I never thought I would cry so much either. I cried all day long, every time that I said goodbye to someone. I have grown so much in Longchamps and will never forget the people I love so much there. Hopefully I will be able to see them soon though.
In the next few weeks, I was going to baptize Pablo after 7 months of investigating. The bishop is calling president to request that I return to baptize him. We shall see. We baptized Judith yesterday and it was so good.
I will know be in an area called Solano with an Elder named Elder Ramos from Peru. (He is in the picture.) I will probably be his last companion and kill him in the mission sense. He goes home in July. He is way too good and so very jolly. I'm blessed. We will be presiding over the stake of Florencia Valera.
I have learned so much in the last two days. I have honestly felt my heart change, and my capacity to love grow. Its all that i could ever ask for. I love you all. All is well. Life is good.
This week was so good and weird. This coming Sunday we have three people lined up to be baptized, so we have been running around and visiting them as much as we can, trying to make sure that all is in order. It always seems like whenever someone is right on the cusp of being baptized, lots of things happen to mess up the baptism. This week I went to a near by area to give a baptismal interview to a man who other missionaries had taught, and was preparing to be baptized the next day. When I arrived at the church to give the interview, I walked in on the man and the two missionaries who had taught him in a serious discussion in which everyone involved was bawling. I silently backwards tiptoed out of the room, trying not to be noticed. It turns out that the man had been investigating the church for 8 months, and had finally made the decision to be baptized. Right before I arrived at the interview, he told the missionaries that we knew the church was true, but would never be able to take the step of baptism because he was scared. I feel like that happens with a lot of baptismal candidates right before baptism because someone doesn't want the baptism to happen and will do all possible to prevent it. Right now, Elder Abbott and I are trying to make sure this doesn't happen to our investigators. This involves visiting everyone of them everyday and a lot of running around. Sometimes I feel like one of those guys who spins plates on sticks and has to make sure of all the plates get a certain amount of spinning so they don't fall. (Sweet simile.) We are praying so hard, and doing all possible to help our investigators get there. I guess, in the end, this is a good process, because it weeds out the people who really aren't committed. Painful, but good.
This week we got a call from an Elder from a nearby area telling us that he had a really special reference (referral to teach someone) for us. He told us that had met and taught a woman who really like the message that he had to give. She happened to go to be a pastor (pastoress?) for a church in Longchamps (my area), and she wanted her congregation to hear the missionaries. We were really excited/nervous to teach a whole congregation. I had visions going through my head of all of them getting baptized, and just having to change the sign of their church. I called the lady and she told us to meet her in a park in our area at 3:30. I thought it was kind of weird to meet in a park, but didn't think too much of it. As we walked to the park, I heard lots of shouting and what sounded like an outdoor concert. We got to the park, and found that it was not too far from that. The park was full of people in strange long robes and tunics and women with their hair covered in long cloth tubes. All the men had really long hair and beards. They were all turned away from us, facing a stage, where a rock band was playing songs about Jesus and God. I thought to myself, "It's weird that these strange people wanted to meet int the park at the same time we were going to meet an investigator. Way wrong. As we approached, a girl ran out of the crowd and shouted,"Elders!". My stomach sunk and I had a fit of nervous laughter. She grabbed us both by the upper arm and shouted to the stage, "Brothers and Sisters! The Mormons are here!" The man on the stage with the microphone then announced that we were there and everyone turned around, looked at us, and gave a thunderous applause. I was so scared. hahaha I thought that they were going to want us to preach from the stage, but luckily it was not the case. The girl took us over to talk with the leaders of the church, a group of about 10 large, robed, bearded, old guys. They sat Elder Abbott and I in between all of them and began to explain, in really a very courteous way, that there church was right, and that we were liars. I just smiled and said, "Ohhh que bueno!" about a thousand times. They explained that they practice the law of Moses to exactness and that they were a new Israel community. They were trying to expand their message to the whole world, and had pretty much invited us to come to try to get us to convert and become missionaries for them to start a community in the United States. We politely declined and talk them a short version of the first lesson. Then we tried to excuse ourselves while they shoved Bible verses in front of our faces for the next hour. We finally escaped and I come away from the experience learning what an investigator must think when two strange white boys in shirt and tie come up to them and tell them a bunch of strange things. I guess the only difference in the Spirit. It really is essential to everything.
I will have you know that I got rid of my first pair of shoes this week. I decided that it was finally time. Every night for the past few weeks, I have been getting home and finding that my right foot is all black with dirt. The dirt enters through a large hole in the toe and another large whole in the side of my shoe. On the left shoe, the sole is completely parted in two pieces and i think they were about to rot off my feet. The inside of the shoes have also gradually changed from kind of a golden brown, to a florescent, bright green. I don't know what it is.The hermanas from the Relief Society recently had a meeting where they discussed my shoes. A bunch of them were worried that I didn't have good shoes to use and were preparing to buy me a new pair. Luckily, I got wind of the secret meeting and told the relief society president that I have other shoes. She was relieved. Goodbye Ecco Pair number 1. I will cherish our memories together. Sorry for putting you in mud and poop and on top of frogs so much.
This week was real real real good. The humidity that constantly has me soaking wet no matter what I am doing is slowly going away. I don't think my shirts can handle many more weeks of insane humidity and heat. They have all turned from white, to beige, to yellow, and now approaching green. SO MUCH SWEAT. But luckily, the weather is getting cooler and it is so nice. I have not been in Argentina yet in March, so I'm kind of excited to see what the weather is like. If humidity makes hot hotter and cold colder, what does it do to normal weather, make it normal..er? I hope so. Lately there have been no clouds, a slight breeze and 70ish degrees. Real real nice.
This week was really successful. I have already told you guys about Ana Villagra, the lady who has a strange affinity for the Pearl of Great Price. We have consistently been teaching her over the past few weeks and it has been going so so good. She loves everything she hears, even until the point of tears. We were teaching her about the spirit world and she bawled and bawled. It was the first time in my mission that someone has cried just by hearing a simple doctrine. All of our teaching so far has kind of been ignoring the blaring fact that she cannot get baptized until she first convinces her husband to divorce is wife, and then convince him to start a new marriage with her. This process would probably take 2+ years. Joooeeeee... The other day we planned to have a really frank lesson where we tell her that she wont really be able to participate in the gospel until she get baptized. We first ensured her of our love and then told her that she wont be able to get baptized in the near future without making a huge change in her life. We were expecting her to kind of be destroyed, seeing as to how she has been set on baptism ever since we started talking to her. She always says, "I ready to start over again." But, when we told her, she was surprisingly calm and said, "Okay. I will just leave my husband." She was talking about her husband of 12 years. I was blown away. She explained further that things had not been going well with him for a while and that if she was going to get baptized she was going to kick him out anyways as part of her new start. I felt like kind of a home breaker, but it was good. She will be getting baptized real soon. I thought the situation was going to be really sensitive, touch, and sad, but it ended up being light, and easy, and good.
This Sunday it didn't rain and 8 investigators came to church. :) Randomly our President surprised us in our ward too.