Hi Dearest Family!
Thank you so much for your emails, I loved reading about all the fun things going on in Southern Utah and Michigan. It has been an amazing week here in San Justo for a trillion reasons. Reason number one being the baptism of our two dear little abuelas! It was truly amazing to watch them step down into the font and come out again as fresh and clean as newborn babies. Pretty cool stuff. I was especially happy about Amalia because we have been working with her for six hard weeks, trying to help her answer the overarching question, “Why do I have to baptized again?” And it was the most amazing moment when I asked her the day before her baptism, “Amalia, if someone were to ask you why you were baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, what would you say?” My heart sang when I heard her response. “Obviously because it’s Jesus Christ’s church.” How simple and beautiful is that? Amalia loves the Book of Mormon and she loves the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and she is going to be a fantastic strength to this little San Justo ward.
Also on Sunday we had one of the most incredible experiences that I have had on the mission so far. One of our investigators, Analia, is the wife of a less-active young R.M. in the ward. His parents are incredibly strong members, but he is a little crazy and I’ve always been a little scared of him because he’s big and tough and kinda rebellious. Anyways we invited Ana and Manuel (the rebellious member husband) to church on Saturday, and then on Sunday they actually came! For the Gospel Principles class we decided to change things up a little and watched the Restoration video of Joseph Smith’s first vision. In the class was just Amalia, Analia and Manuel, our ward mission leader Efrain, and our Stake High councilman who is the most incredible member missionary. We watched the video, and as I sat there, I felt the Spirit enter into the room more powerfully than I ever have when watching this movie. As the movie ended, I think we all felt it and we asked Amalia to share her experience of how she knows that this is true. In one beautiful, humble sentence, the soon-to-be-member said, “It’s something I just felt inside.” Then it turned into a mini testimony meeting as we asked Efrain and Hermano Cordero to share their conversion experiences. Efrain was a rebellious tattoo artist when he found the Gospel, and Hno. Cordero was a hard core atheist. Their testimonies were powerful and the Spirit was just penetrating .
Then we turned to Manuel and asked him to share his testimony. I have to admit that I was a little nervous he might ruin the Spirit that was there, but it was exactly the opposite. Manuel began to testify of how he knew that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is on the earth. He talked of the power of repentance and his renewed desire to return to the church. And then with tears in his eyes, he turned to his wife and said, “This gospel means everything to me, and it is going to bless the life of our little family more than anything else. I know that we can be a family forever, and my most fervent prayer is that your giant heart can accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I want you to feel what I have felt as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ.” This big, scary man just broke down and sobbed, and if the Spirit had been strong before in that tiny little room, now it practically knocked us off our feet. I’m so excited to teach Analia more. There’s a lot to work through before she can get baptized, mainly marriage stuff and legal papers, but I’m so excited for them to one day be an eternal family.
In other news, we had transfers this past week, and I shouted for joy when I heard over the telephone that Hna. Castillo and I are staying together in San Justo! We had a little adventure on Wednesday when Hna. Castillo went to brush her hair and then broke down in tears to discover giant bald patches. We called President and he had us go to a dermatologist outside the mission in Buenos Aires central. So we packed a little lunch of crackers and fruit and got to take a taxi to travel about an hour into the capitol city. It was exciting for us little missionaries, and all is well with Hna. Castillo’s hair. They said it was due to extreme stress at one point in the past two months, to which I responded that I arrived to Argentina and she got me as her companion exactly a month and a half ago. J We like to joke about it with everyone because we’re like the happiest companionship on earth, and she is NEVER stressed. Who knows, the mission does crazy things to you.
Other random things from the week? Like a month ago Fransisco (the little old husband of Gladys) invited us to his birthday party which finally happened on Saturday. It was the most legit Argentine party ever and also the most stressful experience of my life as about 20 dear abuelos tried to greet us with a kiss on the cheek (everyone greets everyone with a kiss on the cheek here. Even the men greet each other that way) As missionaries we obviously can’t kiss men, but it is such a fixed custom and soooo extremely hard to avoid because sometimes they just pounce before you know what’s happening. So I’ve unavoidably sinned a few times in the past months, but usually we’re pretty good at sticking out a stiff arm to shake their hands. This birthday party was just unusually difficult and awkward.
We also had the police called on us a few days ago as we were tracting around. We clapped on this one house and this nice looking lady came out to talk. She wasn’t interested, so we politely told her that she’s always invited to the chapel on Sundays and started to walk away. Then I don’t know what happened but she suddenly turned into the devil, called us back and started accusing us of investigating her neighborhood so that we could rob them all. Then she picked up her phone and started calling the police! I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry, so I obviously started laughing since I always laugh in the worst moments. She started yelling at us as Hna. Castillo just pulled me away from the house, and of course no policemen came investigating or anything of the sort, but it was exciting all the same.
Anyways, that’s a crazy slosh of some of our moments in the mission in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It’s wonderful and exhausting and I love being a missionary! I love you all, and I hope your week is amazing in the fallish world up north.