Austin James, remember that one Christmas we were driving through Provo Canyon, Dad was Driving us someplace--I think we were on our way to take the "Polar Express" (Heber Creeper) and Handel's Messiah came on the Radio. "For Unto Us a Child is Born . . . Unto Us . . . a son is given . . . " You and I had a miniature obsession with that song and used to echo call it back and forth to each other while we were cleaning around the house. This week I was thinking of you as I was in Rosario for Tramites, or Visa Paperwork. Elder Hill, from my MTC district, is the current Mission secretary and runs all of the Passport Visa Paperwork stuff. He was driving, and Elder Topham and Elder Higginson (also from my MTC district) were in our group of 7 that had Tramites that day. I think all of us Yankies are feeling a little bit of the Christmas Spirit with how cold the weather is turning here in the middle of May, and Elder Hill put "Handel's Messiah" in the CD player of the Mission Van. I missed your voice echoing it back to me, Austin. But the Tramites were quite an adventure, Driving in Argentina is like the Indiana Jones ride and a part of me never stops praying until we are safely parked again. We had to take our fingerprints all over again (they had us clean our hands from the ink afterwards with an oobleck-looking gritty putty) and wait 5 hours in a line for migrations. The 4 of us had plenty of time to catch up, we recounted all of our crazy stories together from the MTC and the miracles we've seen since then. Hermana Shotwell, who has been in the field 5 weeks, was my travel buddy during this time (she is also from the Zona Paraná, we had to leave our companions behind to go to Rosario) and I loved getting to know her. She was a Cheerleader in High School and is from Saint George, and is SO CHRISTLIKE. It is such a neat privilege to come to know so many young people who love the Lord.
What a fantastic week, La Verdad! I've been enjoying my miniature calling as the Choir Director and I'm coming to realize that no matter what happens to us or what calling he extends to us, Heavenly Father gives us the capacity to do it. The Ward members are so excited, I don't know that they've had a choir in a real long time. Pray for us! Stake Conference is the 8th of June and Presidente Giuliani will be listening! We hope to invite the Spirit as we sing "Loor al Profeta" (Praise to the Man.)
Funny stories--I already mentioned this at the beginning of my mission, but the men here cat call at the women sometimes. At first it scared me because I couldnt understand what they were saying, but now that I can understand it's just downright funny. The best recent cat call has been "SHAKIRA!" LIke the Pop singer of "WakaWaka". Hermana Rasband and I just started cracking up this past Monday. Que Cosas Che.
Recent Convert Eric Martinez´ 19 Year old sister Brenda began meeting with us this past week. She didn't even hesitate to accept a baptismal date, and she's preparing to enter the waters of baptism the 14th of June. She is so shy and soft spoken, just like Eric, but so sincere. Eric had her all prepared, he already told her about Joseph Smith and the first vision and they had read in the Book of Mormon together and Everything. She explained to us that she has seen a real difference in Eric since his baptism and she wants the same for her life. She also mentioned that when they read the Book of Mormon together as a family, they are far more united and have much more peace and love in their home. We are hoping to teach Eric's 15 year old Brother Gaston and his Mom, Rosa, soon.
We've also had all kinds of Tracting miracles this past week! We have Investigators just "coming out of the woodwork" as Elder Christensen says in the District. We have more than 17 investigators right now and are finding new ones almost every day. We are supplicating the Lord for help to be able to teach all of them and to have discernment to know whom we should focus on, whom is prepared to make covenants with him, and if all of them are prepared, we hope to know where to find time to teach them with our crazy schedules between trips to training meetings and divisions with the Sisters. It is a delight to have so many people eager to listen to the Message of the Restoration and with desires to change their lives. A broken heart and a contrite spirit are truly essential to change and come unto Christ.
I have a true testimony that God knows us individually. This past Saturday I was having a really off day. I was down about my imperfections and my incapacity to help everyone that I see when they don't want to listen. I was frustrated with agency, human weakness, and my own human frailty. We went to Ward Correlation meeting, where Hermana Shotwell, (who serves with Her companion Hermana Sainsbury in another region in Paraná but within the same ward boundaries), came up to me and gave me a great big hug. "Are you okay?" She asked. "I know that somethings up. You're just not yourself today. I just want you to know that I love you and while you are the ones calling the sisters to see how they're doing, you need someone to ask how you're doing too." I hugged her again and about cried in gratitude. I don't have a lot of really hard days, don't worry Mom :) But when I do have them, Heavenly Father never fails to send me an angel. Saturday night it was Hermana Shotwell. There are such simple ways we need to serve and love those around us! I am so grateful to have been raised in a home and a ward where expressions of love like this one are offered so freely. Kindness is our Religion.
I love the Work, I love my mission. I love the Lord and it is His name that I carry on my name tag and in my Heart! I pray to worthily carry his name always as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I Know he lives and loves me! And I know he lives and Loves you, Mom, Dad, Tyler, Austin, Corey, and Jordan!