Querida Familia Mia,
Every week brings new adventures. This week 6 companionships from our Zone banded together at 8:30 am on Thursday morning, dressed in Jeans and T shirts, and began helping an Argentine family in Parque Gazzano of Paraná build their home. We shoveled cement into buckets, passed the buckets along a human assembly line, which included Elder Allendes on a ladder, where other Elders and Men were waiting on the roof to pour into the ceiling frames they had made with 2 x 4s to complete the cement ceiling. It was so much fun! We got the Roof done in 5 hours, which is pretty darn fast as far as Cement Argentine roofs go down, and the family was so grateful. They cooked us choripanes for lunch (it's like a bratwurst sausage in a sandwich) and of course gave us Coke to drink (another Argentine favorite) and kept saying "Gracias! Gracias!" for our help. It was service, but it was so much fun that I hardly felt worthy of their thanks. They are currently investigating the Church and are in Elder Alderetes and Elder Watkins´area, which is also part of our Ward. We are hoping they continue to listen and progress. We were SO SORE the next day that it hurt to kneel down every time we prayed, our legs, backs, and arms were spent. But it was good to have worked out so hard. Dad, please, leave me the lawn and the weeding and cleaning the car when I get home. I know you'd never thought I'd say it but I miss Saturday jobs!
This week I have discovered all over again how fantastic the Book of Alma is! I have always found light from the Book of Mormon, but I feel that my mission has taught me to truly feast. This week I was blessed by the example of Alma. During their time in Ammonihah, Amulek and Alma suffered the bribes and persecution of men opposed to the church, were thrown into prison, smitten on their cheeks, had their clothes taken away from them, and suffered hunger and thirst. The most heart wrenching is when Amulek and Alma had to watch Amulek's people--all those that had listened and been baptized members of the church, including, I believe, Amulek's family--burn alive in a fire. I cannot imagine the personal gethsemanes these men had to suffer in this area of their mission. But after fleeing Ammonihah and organizing the church in Sidom, Alma 15:18 says the following: "Now as I said, Alma having seen all these things, therfore he took Amulek and came over to the land of Zaraheml, and took him to his own house, and did administer unto him in his tribulations, and strengthened him in the Lord." What an example Alma and Amulek are to me. Amulek is who first invited Alma to his home and ministered to him, gave him food and drink and a place to stay. Then, after their mission and trials together, Alma took Amulek to his own home to help him in his need. Alma was all the family Amulek had left. This scripture teaches me the importance of serving our family and our friends in their moments of need, but also to accept that service. Alma and Amulek not only preached the gospel of Jesus Christ, but they lived it, and they ministered it one to another.
We have some fantastic Investigators right now! Emi is one of my favorites (oops, we're not supposed to have favorites! My bad!) She is a young, MARRIED mom (the marriage part is a miracle in Argentina!) 26 years old. She and her Husband live in a humble home with their two kids, Dulcinea age 4, and Giovanni, 8 months. They are a loving little family and Emi has such a hunger to understand the Book of Mormon. We shared the paragraph from the Introduction of the Book of Mormon that states "The Book of Mormon . . . tells men what they must do to gain peace in this life and eternal salvation in the life to come." She especially liked that part. She is considerate, kept asking us if we needed anything. Somehow in the conversation we found out that she was short on lemons, and she likes to make a hot maté with Lemons when she has a cold to help her feel better. Well, seeing as she had a cold for all of her sniffles, we hurried to a nearby verduleria after the lesson and scrambled back to her house with 4 lemons to give her. I love finding small ways to serve the people we teach, the Sisters and Elders we serve with, and the Members in our ward. Like President Giuliani said last week, The Gospel of Jesus Christ is Service.
Last week we were really bummed because we had given our all to help our investigators come to church and no one showed. We had even walked clear to the Río Paraná to look for one of our Investigators that same morning, and in the end didn´t come. We were downhearted because we want so much for these people to be able to grow and change through the repentance process and coming to know Jesus Christ. When we arrived at church there was a young couple that came into Gospel Principles that I'd never seen before. I thought they were investigators of the other Elders or Sisters, but I felt during Sacrament meeting that I should sit with them. It was Hermana Rasband´s turn to play the piano so I mosied over to where they were sitting and asked if I could sit with them too. They smiled and said of course! Come to find out the Young man is named Adrian, he's from Concordia and is a member of the Church. The young lady is named Maria Ines, she lives in our area and was interested in learning more from what her Boyfriend had shared with her. We began to talk, later they invited us to lunch on Friday and she is now a new investigator. They are both Studying Crime and Discipline (or something . . . its basically detective and police school) here in Paraná, are 21 years old, and are both the nicest people. Heavenly Father taught me in that moment that we're not in control, we can only do our best. His mercy is HIS MERCY, and we need to be patient about that. Our surprise miracle, Maria Ines, taught me that Heavenly Father is aware of us and our efforts and even though things don't always turn out as we have planned or hoped, we will always have reason to rejoice.
Yesterday I had another adventure of leading the 5 Esquinas Choir in Stake Conference. It was so much fun and I'm so happy for how it turned out. We had about 12 Sisters and 12 Brothers that Participated. Hermana Rasband and Shotwell Sang, also Elders Alderetes and Watkins who serve also in the same ward, and Hermana Sainsbury played the Piano. We make a great team. We've seen some fantastic support from the Ward Members now with wanting to accompany us to lessons which also Makes us Ecstatic, of course. Woohoo! This work can only move forward if we work unitedly as Members and Missionaries together.
Love you my dear family. May your week be full of Laughter, Spiritual Experiences, new adventures, good food, summer sun, and Feeling God's love for you.
Con amor gigante,