Tuesday, July 24, 2012

July 23, 2012

The weeks are going by really fast, and there are pretty normal lately. Every 12 weeks, every missionary in the mission has to have an interview with President. Yesterday, President Stapely called Elder Ruvalcaba and I and told us that he wanted us to come to the mission home in Banfield (1 hour in train from my area) to have our interviews. We took two buses and a train, and were eventually in front of the mission house when President called us and told us that he was at the airport picking up a new missionary, and would not be able to do the interviews today. AHHHH So right now we are in Banfield, not knowing what to do for our Pday until we can catch another train  to our area. Oh wellll...quality comp time.

This week we had the baptism of Maria Ladux. It was fantastic. As a missionary, I do my best to stay out of the spotlight for the baptisms, and have the focus be on the person getting baptized and their family. This baptism worked out perfectly. Marias husband baptized her. While Maria and her husband were changing, we decided to show a church video and decided on "The Touch of the Masters Hand". It is such a good video, but it was kind of strange to show. As it was playing, almost everyone started crying. When we turned the lights back on after the video to continue with the service, almost all eyes were red and puffy. For the rest of the service, the focus of the meeting was kind of on the video and not on Maria Ladux. But oh well, it was great anyways and everyone was happy. 

Elder Ruvalcaba and I received 5000 fliers for the open house of the temple. We are told that we must spend one hour each day dedicated solely to handing out these fliers. It's funny and kind of discouraging to see peoples reactions. Sometimes we walk down a street and give all the fliers, and then walk back up the same street and see about half the fliers have been thrown to the ground. At least we know that some people are going to want to go because of our flyer efforts. 

July 16, 2012

This week was kind of rough. Last Monday, the ward organized a locro (the soup with random animal parts in it (chunks of fat,pig skin, pig head, cow tongue, pig feet, random bones). *tear* *sob* The last time I ate a locro, my digestive system severely punished me, and I made a vow to never eat locro again. Of course, I went into last Mondays activity with the vow still intact. But, Argentines are really good at peer pressuring. I ate two plates of locro, and it was actually pretty good. Never break your covenants. This whole week I was yet again chained to the toilet. So bad so bad. I have only been more sick a few times before. (ie. chopstick in eardrum, my diarrhea week of the past) I still am a sick, but better than what I was. I will probably be heading to the doctor in this coming week. In the last six days, I have lost 5 kilos. So much for being chubby. This time, my vow is unbreakable, I will never eat locro again. Promise.  

Well, there is not much to report this week because I was tied to the toilet by a 19 minute time bomb. But, the little news that I do have to report. We have been teaching a woman named Maria. She is the wife of a member, and is not a member. She has listened to the missionaries a lot in the past, but has never really progressed past her addiction to cigarettes. When we taught her for the first time, she said, "Don't ask me to be baptized because I can't nor will ever be able to quit cigarettes."  That was her attitude for the first few visits, but as we came more and more she started to become softer and softer. This week, my companion gave her a blessing that she would be able to break her addiction. The we committed her to smoke less cigarettes than normal the next day. The next day, she called us and told us that she had lit a cigarette, but the smoke made her nauseous and she couldn't finish it. The same thing happened over and over again. Mari committed to be baptized this coming Sunday. Real good real good. The changes that the spirit can make in a person are my favorite things to see. 

July 9, 2012

This week was very routine. The week was great, but real normal. The other day, I dropped my pen during a lesson, and bent down to pick it up. When I bent down, I found it was harder to bend down than it should be. The reason, for the difficulty was that there this huge thing growing out my stomach called a belly. It's so big. I am getting chubby. That night before bed, I was making a video journal and decided to pull up my shirt and make of video of me doing a truffle shuffle type dance. The results were way better than I wanted. The goonies ain't got nothin on me. (As I was making the video, I ran out of camera memory. It was a kind of prideful moment for me; 10GB of pictures taken.) It was in those moments of low self-confidence that I decided to take on a challenge than many a chubby missionary have taken on before: the six months to sexy program. When a missionary hits 18 months, he starts eating half the amount and working out extra hard every morning. I will actually be doing the 7 months to sexy program, but its the same idea. By the next time I see all of you, I will have a sweet rock hard bod once again. Maybe someday I will overcome my hubris to show you all the Truffle Shuffle: Elder Lewis video.

The weather this week was really nice and sunny. So good.   

We are progressing with a lot of different investigators. We are hoping to have a few baptisms for the 22nd of this month. I will let you know. 

This week we had the zone leader counsel. It was way more exciting than usual. We pretty much just talked about the plans for the upcoming temple dedication. Every companionship in the mission is going to receive 5,000 fliers for the Open house of the Temple. The goal is to give one flyer out to every person in Buenos Aires. The church printed about 2,000,000 fliers for the event. For three missions. So, Elder Ruvalcaba and I will be handing out flayer's to everyone that we see for the next month. In the Zone Leader Council, every missionary who will go home in the next month bares their testimony. Elder Ramos (my ex-comp Peruvian) bore his testimony. It was so good. I'm gonna miss him tons. He is only my third companion to go home. 

I feel super lucky to have had just great companions in my mission. Every missionary probably says this, but I feel like my mission is something really special. I feel like every companion I have had has come as part of a plan to teach me something very specific. I feel like I have been sent to every area I have been in to help a very specific someone and more often, for someone to teach something to me. I feel so lucky to be In Buenos Aires at this time of the Temple. It's so lucky. I feel lucky to be a missionary. One of the other missionaries told me the other day that 0.0000056% of all males serve full time missions. All is well. Life is good.
    Elder Lewis

July 2, 2012

We were in a house the other day and the TV was on in the background. All of the sudden I heard Colorado Springs ,Colorado in a bad Argentine accent. The forest fire made it onto Argentine news! It must be real bad. Shoot. Poor poor mountains.

This week was fairly normal. On Friday and Saturday, I had an intercambio (when you trade companions with another missionary for 24 hours) with Elder Borgersen, (Tim Tebow) my old companion. It was real real good to reminisce with him; getting chased by guys with guns, fighting drunk men, receiving protection from the neighborhood mob, teaching the gospel, and so on. It's weird that we were companions almost a year ago. Elder Borgersen is great. 

The other day, we were walking down the street and saw one of the ladies form the ward chatting with a few other women in front of a house. We stopped to chat and introduced ourselves to the ladies. When the member lady saw us, her eyes got real big and she looked a little scared. I just ignored it. All the women were all totally nice. We decided to share a little message with all of them and then say a prayer. As we were talking, more and more girls kept on coming out of the house until there were about 8 girls listening to us. They were totally receptive. We finished the lesson, said a prayer, set up a day and time to come back, and started walking away with the member lady. Once we had turned the corner, and were out of the view of all the girls we had just taught, the member lady told us to stop and that she had something to tell us. She then told us that the women we had just talked to aren't good girls. She was kind of stumbling with her words, but I was kind of starting to understand. I asked, "Hermana, are they prostitutes?" She just nodded. And then I asked, "Was that a brothel?" She nodded again. hahaha I couldn't believe it. We told her that we still wanted to teach the girls, but we just couldn't go back to that place anymore. We organized to meet in the hermanas house this coming Wednesday. We will see how it goes.....everyone deserves a chance at the gospel.

It is till pretty find to find people who will progress here in Avellaneda. Generally, the people are either super wealthy and don't come out of their houses, or live in the villa and don't have any ambitions whatsoever. I for sure feel like I was put in this area for a very specific reason. Up until now in my mission, it has been fairly easy to find, teach, and baptize. My faith has never really been tried that much. I definitely feel like I am here in Avellenda to be humbled. This work isn't about me or my personal skills, it is about my humility and willingness to let the Lord work through me. I am just trying to do my best to tune into the spirit, and be humble in front of God and my companion. Just need to trust.

This week, amidst self-humbling, we had a few mini-miracles. We were just walking down the street the other day in a pretty nasty part of town when I noticed that a man was stumbling towards us, specifically toward us. My villa instincts told me to cross to the other side of the street and walk faster and I did. The man also crossed the street, walked faster, and started shouting at us to wait for him. I was nearly sure that we was trying to rob us until he shouted, "Elders! Please! I need you!" Those words don't usually come out of the mouth of your run of the mill robber, so Elder Ruvalcaba and I turned around and asked him what he wanted. It was only then that I realized that he was stumbling not because he was drunk or high, but because he had a really bad limp. He told us that his name was Urbano and explained to us that he had just moved here from Peru. He had had a stroke and a half body paralysis, and that the Elders in Peru had found him and helped him out a lot. He paralysis is now improving and he can walk with the help of a cane. He told us that he wants to talk and have us over for dinner. We were about to finish our convo when I felt the distinct impression to ask him if he knew anyone else that we could visit. He replied, "I will tell you on Sunday when you come over." I suspected that he was snaking out of the question and gave up. Yesterday we went to his house to visit. As we were at his door, ready to walk into his  house, he stopped me and said "Remember how you asked me if I know anyone else that you can teach?" I nodded and he opened the door to the house. There, sitting in chairs, on the floor, on the beds were about 20 people, mostly kids. Missionary gold mine. Urbano has five kids and about 20 grandchildren, and he wants us to teach all of them. We shared a message of Christ and the Atonement, and there was a sweet spirit present. 

I know that there are people ready and waiting for Elder Ruvalcaba and I. We just have to obey the Spirit in order to find them. I will do my best to be willing. All is well. Life is good.
   Elder Lewis

June 25, 2012

First of all, my second pair of Ecco shoes broke this week. I was so mad. We were just walking down the street, and it felt like I stepped on something that caused me to lose my balance, and I fell to my knees. I looked back to see what I had tripped over, I saw that my shoe was weird. The heel of the shoe had just kind of split in two parts. We were late for a few appointments, so I just hobbled around for the rest of the day with my socked foot find of poking out of the heel. I took it to a shoe guy  and he took off the sole and put on another one for 140 pesos. He said that the shoe broke because it is SO humid that certain kinds of rubber just kind of fall apart if you put any pressure on them. So far the shoe is working just great.

For the past few weeks, Elder Ruvalcaba and I have been preparing an activity for the ward. We decided to use the fact that Elder Ruvalcaba is from Mexico and have a Taco Night. We made a flier to hand out that said that the cost of entrance to the activity was to bring a friend. We didn't really know what we were getting ourselves into. We predicted that about 100 people would come to the activity, and started to buy the necessary taco ingredients. We bought 20 kilos of ground meat, a ton of flour to make tortillas, rice and cinnamon to make horchata, and all that we were missing were the vegetables. We were talking to the bishop about the activity and told him they we were about to go to a market to buy all the vegetables. He got really excited and told us, "No! Elders, we have to go to the Marcado Central if we are going to but lots of vegetables! It is much cheaper!" So on Saturday morning we went to "Mercado Central" to buy the vegetables. Never knew that buying vegetables could be so sweet or so illegal. The bishop took us in his car to buy the vegetables. I thought we would be going around the block, but he just kept on driving and driving until we were on a highway in the middle of nowhere. We eventually came up to a giant warehouse that looked like a deserted aircraft hanger. I was curious where we were, but didn't want to look stupid or innocent by asking where we were. We drove around the back of the warehouse and walked up to a tiny door. The Bishop knocked on the door and a little slit opened up in the door and a pair of eyes looked out at us, and then shut really fast. (Yep, medevil peephole style.) And the door opened. It was crazy inside. There were tons and tons of people (all shouting), and stacks and stacks and stacks of all kinds of vegetables everywhere. The bishop ushered me in a whispered, "Welcome to the black market of vegetables." In Argentina, the government controls all the prices of all goods, so they never get too expensive or too cheap. Right now, vegetables should be really cheap, but the government keeps the prices high. This aircraft hanger in the middle of nowhere full of shouting people and onions is the place where people sell their vegetables below government prices. Its pretty much like an auction, and the people shout out how much they want to pay for a kilo of whatever kind of vegetable and the vendor accepts or denies. Sweet, right? So we shopped around and bought a whole bunch of illegal vegetables with the bishop. It was sweet. I am spending too much time on this subject, but I thought it was the best thing ever.

The actual activity was an experience. The whole point of the activity was to find and teach the friends of the members who came to the activity to eat tacos. It didn't really work out like that. The Sunday before the activity, we passed around a sign up sheet for relief society ladies to help us prepare 500 tacos. 15 ladies signed up. When I imagined what it was going to be like to cook 500 tacos with the help of 15 ladies, I kind of imagined it like that one scene in The Three Amigos. Who know? The sewing scene? ¡Andale Hermanas! ¡corta ¡corta! It was kind of like that. Dream come true. But, Elder Ruvalcaba and I were so busy in the kitchen, serving the people, keeping the chapel intact, and everything that we didn't really have time to talk to any of the nonmembers who came. The people also kind of behaved like savages too. hahah I was a little bothered because most of the people who came, came for the food, and then left before we could carry out the activity, many people told us that the tacos were gross, most of the people let their kids do whatever they wanted, and left the chapel in a complete disaster. I was kind of bothered and discouraged because the purpose of the activity, to find new people to teach kind of failed. I was feeling bothered and all until one of the young men came up to me and introduced me to his friend. His friend was totally nice and asked me if he could have a Book of Mormon. We still have not visited him. Elder Ruvalcaba and I ended up staying in the chapel until 11 at night cleaning everything for the next Sunday. It was so gross. hahaha The floor of gym was slick with the grease from the ground meat. But, it was all worth it because we met the young mans friend.

This week we had two baptisms. One of them was a kid named Carlos that we have been teaching for a while. He is 15 and a stud. He lives in this area that everyone calls the villa mormona because everyone there are so many members in this villa. hahah Whenever we go into this villa, everyone starts shouting "The Elders are here!" and all the people come out of their house to say hi to us. haha Carlos is great. The other baptism was of an 8 year old kid named Michael. He is from a family of 19 kids from the same Mom and same Dad. 19 kids. hahah The missionaries before us found this family a while ago and we have been teaching them ever since. The kids have gradually been getting baptized one by one. So far, 6 are baptized. Every member of the family who is big enough earns all of their own money collecting trash and recycling it. Right before the baptism, we couldn't find Michael. We started looking for him all over the place. Eventually, I ran outside and found him fist fighting another little kid. hahah He had the kid pinned to the ground and was punching him in the face. I separated them and asked him why they were fighting. He told me that the kid goes to his school and that they both like the same girl and were fighting for her. The other kid was 10. Oh boy, only in Argentina. I asked him if he still wanted to get baptized and he said yes. The baptism was really hurried, but still had a sweet spirit.

Lately, I have been reading the New Testament from start to end for the first time. It has been real good. I am especially enjoying the story of Paul/Saul. While I was reading about his conversion on the road to Damascus, I remembered the talk the President Uchtdorf once gave called "The Road to Damascus". The message was that sometimes, we get stuck on our path of discipleship because we are waiting for some amazing, supernatural experience to build our faith. Uchtdorf said that we will not come to know Christ through large bounding steps, but through small steps of faith. We will come to know Christ personally as we study and pray, piece by piece. That was kind of big for me. Sometimes I find myself waiting on the road to Damascus, waiting for the next big growth of my faith. It's not like that. One is converted more and more as he makes the little decisions everyday. I know it is true. I love you all and wish you the best. All is well. Life is good.
    Elder Lewis

June 18, 2012

Things are going pretty well. Elder Ruvalcaba and I had a pretty rough week. The work is turning up being a lot harder than I thought it would be here. It is super easy to find people, especially in the villas, but to get them to progress is another question. We had about 18 people who committed to come to church this week and 1 showed up. I was kind of discouraged. But, this next week will be a lot better, I am sure.

There is a family in my ward who gives us lunch every Saturday. They are from Peru. The mom of the family went to Peru this month to visit her family, and apparently, she went to visit in Kyles ward in Peru. Wild. I keep on finding all these weird connections with Matt and Rick and Kyle.
I can't believe that Rick is coming home next week. It does not seem like two years ago that Matt and I said goodbye to Rick and stood there crying on the Millet's front porch. I am much more manly now than I was then.

This week we have a baptism coming up and I hope it will be good. I am out of time, but all is well. Life is good.

     Elder  Lewis