Monday, March 27, 2017

The New Nueva Pompeya

Email written: 3/27/17

Last week were transfers, and I´m staying here in Nueva Pompeya and this time with Elder Comp from Utah and we did some hard work this week! At the beginning of this month we had a meeting with all of the leaders in the Chacabuco Stake and they talked about how they are creating 2 new wards and how they are going to change all the ward boundaries and explained how due to the heavy concentration of members in the villas, they had to make some interesting changes. This led them to ask us to start to work outside the Villa and help grow the parts normally forgotten by the missionaries. So that was our goal and then we realized something. We are basically opening up a new area. There are very few families outside the villa and almost no old investigators. We started sharing out desires to work with the members and all of them were surprised. One family told us that we were in for some hard work because we are going to be"pioneers" for the ward. We talked to everybody and gave out a ton of copies of the Book of Mormon in parts that we are sure the missionaries hadn't been to in a very long time. We had never felt so satisfied with out work and then Sunday have nothing to show for it. Nobody came to church and then our numbers looked low, but our week was more than that. We had so many small miracles happen. One of the most noteworthy was with our efforts to help the ward. When we had the zone conference with the 70 Elder Levrino, he said we have to start asking more "how can I help my ward" and a lot less of "what can the ward to do help us?" So that´s what we've done. We have come up with a ton of ideas to help bring this ward back up and Saturday we had an unplanned meeting with the bishop and the youth presidents and we got to planning. As we left we hoped that it wouldn't have just been all talk and then Sunday the bishop started to talk about our plans and a lot of the members loved it and a lot more of them invited us to visit them and we are working more closely with the home teachers to help them get their visits done. This task is not going to be easy and there is no way we are going to be able to do it alone. 

Not only do we have God´s help (because in the end this is His work) we also have a lot of help from the Book of Mormon. We have been encouraging all the families to get better at their reading of the Book of Mormon so that they all personally could get blessed. Elder Comp explained it like this "Imagine that every morning, God came to your room and gave you 2 minutes to talk to Him and then He talked to you for 5 minutes. How incredible would that be? We can have that opportunity as we pray to Him and then read His words." Some of the greatest blessings we can receive will come from the Book of Mormon. One verse I really like is Mormon 8:35  "Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and know your  doing."  because it helps me understand that everything in this Book was put to help us in our day. Just because the world is going downhill doesn't mean we have to go with it. I add my testimony of the Book of Mormon that it is true and contains the words of Christ and "tells man what they must do to gain peace in this life and eternal salvation in the life to come." 

-Elder Steele

Monday, March 20, 2017

Bob the Baptizer

Email written: 3/20/17

This week was a very interesting one. It was one of the craziest weeks ever. Wednesday Elder Marcum was sick and couldn't leave his bed. Elder Juzga stayed with him while I went out for a little bit to work and then we switched while Juzga went out to check up on the investigators we had. Then on Thursday we got up at 4:45am to take Elder Juzga to the offices (a 2 hour trip, and yes Elder Marcum was still sick.) and then I did divisions in Soldati so we could have our baptism interviews. The Elder who stayed in our apartment broke the dresser and made a huge mess. So we decided to remodel the apartment because we also got a new dresser, but we had to put it together and the best part was, we didn't have any tools or instructions! Saturday we had the baptisms of Florencia and Gonzalo! It was so rewarding to see them both be so happy because they were people who really wanted to repent and change their lives. 

So like I said, we had to put together a really big dresser without tools or instructions. It took us forever to try to figure out what to do and it stressed us out a lot. It made me think a lot about how it's like the Great Apostasy. After the death of Jesus Christ, the world went in to darkness and the full truth was lost and people were confused and didn't know what to do to get back to God. Its just like putting together that dresser without tools (the priesthood authority) and instructions (revelation from a prophet) We knew how it should have turned out, but we didn't have how to do it. Luckily we don't have to build our lives without tools or instructions. The gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored on this Earth and thats what we share with everyone! Just like my brother now is going to be going to Sweden in July to share this same message that I'm sharing here in Argentina. I'm so excited for him and I'm so thankful for the opportunity that I have to come to love all of South America so much! 

-Elder Steele

Monday, March 13, 2017

History Repeats Itself

Email written: 3/13/17

Well, last week as you could see from how short the email was, that it was a tough week. This week didn't slow down either between both me and Elder Howard being sick and not being able to work a lot and then on Thursday Elder Howard finished his mission which meant that I´m in a trio (yet again) and for the second time one of my companions is Elder Juzga! So until next week I am going to be with Elder Juzga and Elder Marcum in an area called Almagro. We basically spend all day traveling in bus and subway because it´s a really big area and almost no one actually lives there so it´s very interesting to work. 

Last week after I had finished writing and was kind of down, I was on the Church´s website and found a quote that said: "By and large, I have come to see that if we complain about life, it is because we are thinking only of ourselves." —Gordon B. Hinckley. 

That made me think a lot and I really tried hard to not think about being sick or that fact that I was going to be without a companion for a week but instead on really truly helping the people here in Nueva Pompeya (and now Almagro). One example of how this changed my week this week was on Friday night we had planned a Family Home Evening, but we had planned it all and I almost couldn't get out of bed. I kept thinking how easy it would be to cancel. I was sick, I had to be in Almagro, we didn't have much time to prepare, but for some reason I kept feeling that I had to find a way to make it work. Even though we showed up 25 minutes late and there was still no one there and then we had technical difficulties, we pulled it off! The message was focused on the atonement of Christ and to show it we had a member do push ups. For every 5 pushups, someone else got candy. Now the first few were easy but after the 10th person he was struggling a whole lot and everyone started to say that they didn't want the candy so he didn't have to suffer, but he still did it. Then we talked about how it´s just like Christ and He suffered for all of us, and it´s up to us to accept what He did. Then we bore our testimonies of Christ and the Spirit was so strong and it was the best message I've ever shared in a family home evening.   

-Elder Steele

Pic-Howard´s farewell

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Benefit of Councils

Email written: 3/6/17

This week started off great with the baptism of Micaela! There were a ton of members and investigators and the ward was really excited. This baptism was just a blessing that came out of nowhere thanks to ward council. The best part was that her mom, who is not a member, opened up more and talked seriously about baptism and what holds her back from doing it. The sad thing is that they are moving to Cordoba this week so we won't be able to keep helping them.

Another council that really helped us with our work was yesterday in a meeting with the stake presidency, bishoprics, and missionaries. They talked about the vision of the stake and we all really got excited and captured a new vision of how we should work and we came out of that meeting with a lot of new ideas and we are so ready to work.

The last council was that me and Elder Howard had pretty much everyday. A lot of interesting interactions and visits with people really made us think about a lot of things and helped us put higher and greater goals for the mission and life. We realized how important it is to make it to the Celestial Kingdom and it's a constant effort to do it, and the great thing is that´s what we get to do as missionaries. Help others find their purpose in life and help them change their lives.

-Elder Steele

Monday, February 27, 2017

Just Go With It

Email written: 2/27/17

This week we learned to just go with it.
When it´s 100 degrees and humid, just go with it.
When out of nowhere it starts to pour rain, just go with it. 
When ward council tells you that you have a baptism ready for next week, just go with it.
So that was basically our week. Wacky weather and amazing miracles. On Tuesday I got to go back to Soldati and do divisions and after sweating for the first half of the day, a storm came out of nowhere and we got soaked (a member saw us in the street and took a picture) but it was still a great time and we found some great people to teach all because we focus on bearing our testimonies. On Wednesday Elder Levrino from the Seventy came to our zone conference and changed the game! He talked a lot about the missionary handbook and how the smallest details make the biggest differences. While we never considered ourselves or tried to be disobedient, we realized some small things that we could change to be more consecrated (or dedicated to serving God). And WOW. The next day after the meeting we saw too many miracles. The families we found were all incredible and we just seemed to be working better. Then the best part came was ward council told us that there was a family that has a daughter who wants to get baptized on her birthday Tuesday the 28th and that we needed to go see them. We went and started teaching the first lesson, but in the end she taught us. She was already prepared. So we had the baptism interview and tomorrow we have a baptism! It was great also because jsut an hour before we had to say goodbye to our investigator Agustin because in the end he had to move to Bolivia, but we know our efforts in helping him weren't wasted. 
Two other interesting points that Elder Levrino taught us was about the commandments and weekly church attendance. He pointed out to us that God almost never gives a "why" with His commandments. Yes He mentions blessings, but almost never explains exactly why the commandment exists. So instead of trying to find a why, we act with faith to live the commandment and then see the blessings. Then to end, he talked about weekly church attendance and the importance of the sacrament. I loved how he summed it up "It´s simple. Partaking of the sacrament purifies me for the coming week. If I don't take it one week, I have to go that week impure. And what would happen if I were to die? Nothing impure can enter into God´s presence. I take the sacrament because I love Christ and because I want to go back to live with Him and God" I know that it is necessary to obey to be able to obtain salvation. While it is not complicated, it might not always be hard, but it is always worth it. 

-Elder Steele

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Rain Stopped but the Blessings Didn't

Email written: 2/20/17

Photographic evidence that he
finally got his birthday cards and new suit!
So this week after 5 days of rain, the sun finally came back and it was a good week. Our investigator Agustin was doing alright, but when we called him the first time he said that he couldn't come for the lesson and didn't know if he could meet with us this week. Our hearts dropped because he was going to be an awesome convert, but we waited it out (with prayer) to see what would happen. He came Thursday and told us that even though he received his answer that he should stay here instead of going to Bolivia, his dad said that he has to go with him and there was no way around it. We didn't know how to help him and we kept praying during the lesson and tried to help him and the spirit took over and just let us know that whatever happens, it was going to be the best for him. He couldn't come to church yesterday and we are waiting to see him this week. We were still kind of bummed and we didn't know what to do because we just can´t seem to find the right people. The thing about getting near the end (what´s happening to me and my companion) you tend to reflect back and think "am I even that good. Has what I've done been worth it?" well this week we learned that yes because when one door closes, more get opened. The Brazilian family couldn't be there, but their neighbor could and she is just the sweetest old lady and she loved the Book of Mormon and our little visit and then she even risked a heart attack to come to church. But seriously! She has to take heart medicine every few hours and she didn't bring it with her because we didn't tell her how long church was (we didn't even think she would come) and she said she wanted to stay and was willing to run the risk. But that´s not all. Somehow we had 6 other investigators show up! From the whole week thinking that Agustin would be our only possibility for a baptism, we were immensely blessed with people coming to church and it just showed us how much there is to do in our area. The coolest part is that  none of them are in the villa (something that almost never happens!).
The other event that happened that helped me see why it's worth the hard work is about my brother, Collin. He had the opportunity to baptize his best friend, Jack! As a brother (and a missionary) I couldn't be more proud that Collin could have the opportunity and blessing to take part in something like that. I might not be baptizing right now, but I'm just so happy to know that my family is doing alright and that it's worth it for me to work hard and be obedient. 

-Elder Steele

pics: Obelisco de Buenos Aires

Monday, February 13, 2017

Adam Fell (And Got Back Up)

Email written: 2/13/17

So this week we had to rely a lot on 2 Nephi 2:25
(Adam fell that men might be; and men arethat they might have joy)
to keep us going. It seemed like anything that could go wrong went wrong. From losing lunches without notice to unexpected downpours to 13 appointments
 in 1 day all falling through, this week was not easy. It could have been easy for us to complain or get mad but we made a commitment to enjoy every day and thats what we did. But things did get better. Like for example Agustin, our miracle investigator showed up to church last week is doing good. We saw him again in the week and the first lesson he didn't really talk a lot and we left him quite a number of commitments (more than we normally do) and then on Friday we taught him again and he had kept every single one! This almost never happens the first time. He really liked the Book of Mormon and got a prayer answered because he didn't know if he should go back to Bolivia with his dad or finish studying here and he said he's staying and he wants to change his life and get baptized! Then he came to our English class and went with the young single adults in the ward to a stake dance and he liked it. 

Another thing that helped us this week were references. The sisters live in our area and this past week sent us a ton of references from people they talked to and it was a big help to be able to work outside the villa. While a lot weren't home when we went, there was one that didn't even exist but we still talked to the person who answered the door and it turns out she's going through a lot in her life and she was really thankful we came by and then she said there was a Brazilian family who lived above her and then right then her neighbor showed up and I told her I really like Portuguese and asked if we could come by to practice and talk to them and she told us to come back next week! 

-Elder Steele