Monday, January 10, 2011

I am smelling the roses . . . and they smell Good!

Week 5 in Rivadavia was great.

Answer key:  All I do with the pictures you send is look at them, make them big and just look for a minute or two.
We get mail about every 3 weeks here.
That is so so sweet about Jase, what you said dad.
I sometimes print the letters.  I’ve done it twice total.
I do email Amanda every week, this is the only week this transfer she hasn’t sent me something.  I hope she got someone in the water Saturday!!
You mentioned carpet.  That is a foreign thought.  We swept the pench this morning and. . . wow.  So much dirt here.  It’s amazing how the carpetless floor collects so much dirt.
We found so many new people this week.  28.  Last night when we reported our numbers, Elder Hinojosa told us that we beat the old record of 26.  So 28 new investigators.  I am becoming really good at finding news.  A new is just someone you pray with, teach one or more principles, leave a commitment, and accepts a specific return appointment.  We had 28 of those this week.
Some highlights
Tuesday morning we went by a reference we had from the chicos in the ward.  The original kid we were looking for was Silvio.  We found out that his parents are members as of 20 years ago, they had a meta to go to the temple, but the husband, I guess just kinda stopped.... in the lesson with them we taught all 4 teenager kids.  Silvio is 15, the oldest is 19.  It was really cool.  We shared the first vision and the libro de mormon with them.  24 hours later we returned to the house.  As the lesson got started I asked (after finding out they all read the intro and prayed) do you believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet?  All four of them responded, si.  It was the most incredible feeling ever.  We put soft fechas with the sisters and other brother, but Silvio was solid.  And they all said they would come to church.
From an ALB address, we found 2 more news.  The wife was great, evangelical, and the husband was . . . truly agnostic.  He really has thought about God, and thus far has no evidence that there is a God, and none that there isn’t a God.  He is a sweet old man.  As I shared one of the most spiritual first visions I have ever done, I know the spirit touched his heart.  His name is Kuki, like cookie.  We gave him a Book of Mormon.  As he thumbed through it, I saw a fire in his eyes.  I was so excited to help this old man believe in God and in his Only True Church.  And the wife was sneaking us little thumbs up the whole lesson, she was shocked he was listening to us.  As we left, I offered twice to clean up the floor that we had made messy because of the mud on our shoes, but they were too nice and wouldn’t let us.
What happens a lot is that we have a great first lesson with someone.  We teach the Restoration, Baptism, Tithing, what have you, and all goes great.  Then upon returning, the person is closed and wants absolutely nothing.  Very sad, happens all the time.  But wow, I really really hope Kuki prayed, we are passing by his house tomorrow.
And just so you know, if I had the time I could describe all the 28 news we had.  Every lesson is so different.  Everyone has a different story.  But time unfortunately does not permit that.  Just know that this email maybe covers 5% of the week.  So many of the people, sights, smells, (Mendoza is a mix of smells, it’s incredible) lessons, and experiences, I just cannot relate to you all, my family, through this computer.  A missino is something you have to live.
One night this week as Elder Owens was in the San Martin pench with 3 Latins, Elder Scoville from California was in our pench.  He is so sweet.  He and I stayed up talking until 2AM.  All we talked about for 3 hours was Argentina and the Mission.  It was so fun.  The culture here is becoming part of me.  For example, I love bagged milk.
Last night we had the sweetest experience.  We met a man who had an out of body experience.  On his porch, he told us a little about this experience he had.  After, Elder McClain asked if he believed in God?  He let us in, Luis se lamma, and we asked for the whole story.  He got in a bad moto accidente.  He was unconscious in the hospital for 4 days.  In those 4 days he remembers this.  He first fell through this dark devilish abyss.  Then he came to a beautiful field of flowers.  He saw God on a throne.  He had a body, white hair, a white beard.  He described to us what God was like, at least 4 different times.  The exact same description every time.  The white robe, clear light skin.  As he told this experience about seeing God, asking him for peace, and then seeing Jesus (he also described what He looked like in detail) it was very cool.  During parts, I really felt the spirit strong.  He says a lot of people don’t believe him, but I do.  Whether his spirit actually left his body. . . I don’t know.
After his story and our questions about the story, he wanted to know what it meant.  We used his experiences to teach him.  For example:  how God has a glorified body of flesh and bones.  Then Elder McClain shared an experience with Luis about a young jovencito who also saw God, in the flesh.  This man was prepared for the restoration because of the experience he had.   He believed it.  It was cool, I know I’ve said that like 3 times, I just can’t relate to you, and it makes me . . . uhhhh, I don’t know.  Just know it was so sweet.
We also had a third lesson this week with a kid, 25, named Emilliano.  He surfs in the canals here.  A way cool dude.  After eating lunch with his inactive parents and him, we had a 2 hour lesson with him.  WOW.  He cried for a good half hour.  We taught the law of chastity, and he loved it.  He was baffled by it, living a pure life, finding a pure woman, and marrying her forever.  He wants it.  I’m not sure if Emilliano has ever before cried . . .  just another crazy lesson.  He is about to change his life, I so hope.
One day this week, Friday, I did divisions with Elder Owens in his area.  Yeah, about Silvia.  Elder Hyre called her but her husband had returned so we can’t do anything.  With Elder Owens, they really needed news, so I found them news.  We found and taught 10 that day.  Now, a side note.  Not all of these are super great people ready for baptism.  Some are uninterested, barley listen to us, don’t understand, things like that.  But at the same time, some are really good.  We had a cool lesson where we taught a smoker dad and 2 of his kids.  It was a fantastic lesson.  At one point, he asked me a question I had never thought about before.  It was something about the baptism we perform.  At first I did not know what to say.  So even though I understood exactly what he said to me, I pulled the gringo card and said, “What?” to buy me some more time to form an answer.  As he repeated the question, a scripture in the bible came to mind in Acts 2: 37.  The ones about pricked in their hearts and baptism.  I knew what the scripture was about, kind of, but I really wasn’t sure how I was going to use it to field the question.  But I followed the spirit and that prompting I received.  I opened my bible, had the daughter read the scripture, and then was able, with the help of Elder Owens, teach them a great principle about repentance.  It was super sweet.
Divisions with Owens was great, except for the part about the Dog.  The dog who our next door old awesome catholic lady neighbor, Ana, calls señorita.  The dog had been getting really bad.  Fighting with other dogs all the time, becoming a distraction in lessons.  And with Elder Owens, this day it was especially bad.  We were in one barrio and it was bad.  I mean bad bad.  So many dogs were fighting with it, and just barking at it from the top of their little dog lungs.  It was awful because everywhere we went all the people would come out of their house to try to see why there dog was going crazy.  Then they would see us.  With dogs barking around you ALL DAY.  It’s not conducive for the spirit of the Lord and just really gets ones animo down.  But we finally figured out the trick.  As it is sleeping outside the pench, we throw open the front door and dump water on it.  Then it leaves.
So Friday night with Elder Owens, we were SICK of the dog, and were on our way to Titos house.  He has an auto and we were going to ask him to put the dog in the back of his truck and with us, drive out to the campo, somewhere way out there, and drop the stupid dog off.  Just before we hit his house, Elder Owens wanted to stop by this one awesome investigator they have, one last time.  Well, this guy, Bruno, was home.  And wow, one of the best lessons of my life we had.  I taught him the full plan of salvation, minus adam and eve.  We never teach that.  We read Alma 40 together, or rather Bruno, 22ish, read the whole thing out loud.  To teach the plan of salvation, there were these perfect circular disks on the table and I used those to represent the world and the celestial kingdom etc.  I laid out the plan of salvation before him.  He listens with his heart and has a pure understanding.  Then, after some time, he asked us, “How can I be a missionary like you guys?”  WOW, he is 100% serious about being a missionary.  It was such a cool lesson.
Then Elder Hyre and Elder Owens went there last night.  They talked about being a missionary pretty much the whole lesson.  Bruno wants to change his life and is SO READY for the Gospel.  On his own, about a year ago, he stopped smoking marijuana and the bad life.  He has repented and all he needs is to receive the Holy Ghost to become clean.  During the lesson last night, Elder Hyre asked him what he learned when I was there with Elder Owens.  He remembered my name, then grabbed all the circular things on the table and started to explain the plan of salvation the way I did.  It was amazing hearing that story last night from the Elders.
I didn’t sweat as I slept this week.  It rained 3 different days and was actually pretty chilly one day.  Yesterday, the most vibrant rainbow appeared in the sky, right above Elder McClain and I.  What is a rainbow?  We couldn’t figure out that question of the soul.
Argentina is such a beautiful place.  I love it.  So many cool experiences with the beauty of Argentina.  I appreciate this experience so much.
We had 2 in church, one Silvio, and he has a fecha which makes him a progressing investigator!  And the other one we found because Saturday night we saw an inactive family moving tile from a truck to the house and we helped them out, trying not to get super dirty.  Then we taught them and invited them all to church.  Well, 2 of the sisters came!  And one of them brought their nonmember novio!  Sweet.
Playing piano in church was great.  I learned the Sacrament hymn Sunday morning.  I did pretty good.  So I was playing prelude.  Then all of the sudden the chapel went dead silent for about 90 seconds.  I was up there playing prelude, no one made a sound.  Eventually, after just pure peace, the Branch President got up to start the meeting.
In one ALB we took 8 cigarettes from a guy!
Elder McClain and I are doing so great.  We are rocking it and getting along and working hard.  He has changed so much this transfer.  It’s been awesome to see.
Saturday night we hitchhiked home again, a nice couple picked us up in a nice car.  No worries mom.
Last night was a big festival/beauty pageant.  A big parade was about to start at 10:30.  It was about 10 as we walked home, through the middle of the main street in Rivadavia (all cars were cut off).  There was music going, lights going, and just a party atmosphere.  And Everyone was looking at us.  We had the biggest grins on our faces.  It was a sweet experience.  Elder Ostler and Elder McClain walking down the middle of the street in Rivadavia, billboards for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The ex-marine makes suits and for 20 minutes we watched him measure and cut out a suit.  Way cool.
Life is way good.  Dad, I am smelling the roses, and they smell Good!
Hey, see you all in . . . . . . . a while.
Elder Ostler

The four wisemen