Monday, August 31, 2015

Missionary Work: It´s E-Z(equiel)

Email written: 8/31/15

We did it! On August 29 (I arrived in Buenos Aires on July 29) we got our first baptism. It was so cool. We taught him all the lessons in a week and he was really ready.

 On Thursday his mom took him out of school just so we could have 3 hours to teach him what we needed to. Elder Hatch really wanted me to do the baptism, but Ezequiel really wanted Elder Hatch to do it. Either way it is evidence of fasting, praying, and hard work. 

Other than that a really uneventful week. I really can´t think of much more to write about this week. It went by so fast and the days have run together. Plus we are really short on time. 

It´s been hard, but somehow I feel I´ve gotten more used to it. I feel that as long as we are obedient and praying all the time, we are going to see more progress. This transfer has been one all about how to have faith and staying positive.   -Elder Steele

Missionary Packages Argentina

Email received: 8/28/15

Your son is great! He has a wonderful companion! Enjoy some pictures of our encounter with him.
Also, we would like to know that if you know anyone that can be part of our mission tours, please share that information with them. 
Pablo Diaz

Thank you, Missionary Packages Argentina, for the special personal delivery service!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Thankfully It´s Not the Tower of Babel

Email written: 8/24/15

Already another P-day. Time here is so weird. It´s an eternity but at the same time it only feels like a day. 

Last P-day we went up the tower that´s near our area. It´s only open on weekends and special days, and Monday was one of those days. It´s pretty tall and supposedly you can see as far as the coast, but it was kind of cloudy so we couldn't see that far. We still got some cool views. 

This week seems to be the week that it starts to turn around. First of all the weather all week was really really nice. It was a nice change from the rain. 

 I gave my 1st blessing in Spanish. I was nervous because 1. I have only given one other blessing and 2. This was going to be in Spanish. But in the end I did it and he thanked me for it and he did get better so I felt good. 

We also did divisions this week. I was scared because I don´t know the area very well (The monoblocks are very confusing so give me a break) and the Elder I was going to be with is not very well like and has had problems with everyone his whole mission (He goes home in 2 weeks). But I decided I was going to make the best. We didn't talk much, mainly because my Spanish is not at full length fun conversation yet. But we stopped by Hermano Montaño to drop off our jackets and some other stuff and then Elder Sorrano decided to talk to the lady who was about to buy stuff from the stand. Turns out that she has a lot of member friends and has heard a little bit about the church and she asked us why the missionaries never have been to her house. So we have a cita with her today so we´ll see where that goes. Then later when we were looking for a reference we went down a floor and knocked on a door. It was an older woman. She told us that she knows who we are and what we represent. Then she told us what a coincidence it is that just a few minutes after she found out her brother died, we knocked on her door (I don't think it was a coincidence). We started to introduce the Plan of Salvation but she was a little emotional and distracted. She is so ready to hear the gospel, we just have to get in to her house and she kept telling us that we can come back at a better time. By the end of the day it turned out to be pretty good, and I only got turned around once. And Elder Sorrano and I got along really well and he didn't have any attitude problems or anything. 

On Saturday we set up a stand in the Fair. We had so many cards, pamphlets, and copies of the Book of Mormon to give out. In those 3 hours we talked to over 300 people and gave nearly everything we had. We only got about 40 addresses, but that´s still a ton of potential. For me, what I learned was just to smile and start talking to people because you have to talk to everyone, you can´t look at someone and judge if they are going to listen to you or not. It was a really good event.

Later on Saturday we visited a less active/part member family. Most of the family got baptized last year except for one of the kids Ezekiel. But when we talked to him on Saturday, he asked us if he could be baptized. We taught him a little bit and he´s going to get baptized next Sunday and we are really trying to get his older brother to do the baptism. But then on Sunday morning Ezekiel didn't want to go because he had a toothache. We kept trying to tell him the blessings of Church and then we told him we´d give him an hour to get ready. 30 minutes later we went back with a member and guess who opened the door all dressed and ready to go... Ezekiel! Then we got to spend first hour in Primary singing and it was so fun. By the end of sacrament meeting he said he really liked church and his tooth felt better, so he´s ready to be baptized next week. 

Finally the coolest thing happened as a result of the fair. Yesterday we decided to visit the one monoblock reference we got from the fair (the other 6 elders work in the Villas and houses around the blocks and the fair was in the Villa). We couldn't find it at first and we almost gave up but then we talked to someone and he showed us where it was. This lady opened the door and we asked her what she liked about the fair and she said when she talked to the Elders she felt peace and happiness. When we heard that, it was so awesome because that means she has been prepared and the fair was worth it. We taught her the restoration and then she accepted the invitation to be baptized on September 13. She kept telling us what she was feeling during the lesson and it was the Holy Ghost testifying. It was just such an awesomely wonderful lesson and I really think she can progress and be baptized.    -Elder Steele

Monday, August 17, 2015

¡Feliz dia del niño!

Email written: 8/17/15

So dia del niño was a big deal this week. Honestly it´s just a commercial holiday to get parents to buy their kids more toys. Between everyone making preparations for that, the rain, and the Stake olympics, we hard another hard week. Everyday we had our member who was supposed to accompany us fall through. We couldn´t get many lessons, which was disappointing and discouraging. We did have some hope though. We had Sarita who we contacted about a week ot 2 ago (time is weird on the mission so I can´t remember) and we decided to pass by one last time. We saw the door was open so we got excited. She was home! And we found out she had been reading in the Book of Mormon and wanted to go with us to church. Elder Hatch turned to me and said ¨You know what we have? A progressing investigator!¨ and I don´t think I´ve been happìer on the mission. It was such a cool feeling. Then it was  and she wasn´t home. Then we got really bummed out and kept asking why. We had been fasting and praying for investigators and we really felt Sarita was the one. So we were making our way to the church building and we ran into Pablo. Pablo was someone we talked to in the stairway and seemed to have some interest. So we talked to him again and made an appointment. Then later that night, we were with a member and we saw Pablo again and the member told us that Pablo is a friend of his daughter and was investigating the church a little bit years ago but his dad wouldn´t let him. Now he´s 18 and his dad moved out, so Elder Hatch and I really feel he has potential. It´s not a coincidence that we keep running into him. 

Other than that, we had a new missionary reunion so I got to see Elder Holtry and Hardcastle again which was fun. Turns out we're all struggling which made me realize I´m not the only one which was comforting. It means that we are all in this together and we can get through it all. 

Lastly, we got to be witnesses for a crime. We were walking to pass by Sarita and the police stopped us and asked us if we could be witnesses. They just wrote down our names and our address. It was weird but exciting. 

Don´t really have much else. It´s been a slow week. A very hard week. But for some reason I´m still smiling. I just know it´s going to turn around for us. 

(Don´t have pictures becuase the computer Im using doesnt have a USB port)
-Elder Steele

Monday, August 10, 2015

It's Not Monotone in the Monoblocks

Email written: 8/10/15

Last week I forgot my little book with all the new email addresses, but this week I have it, so I think I have everyone now. 

I´ve completed my first full week in Argentina! It´s weird. It´s felt like 3 days and 3 weeks at the same time. There is not much to complain about, well actually there isn´t anything to complain about. Yeah when it rains it gets really muddy in our area, but it´s whatever at this point. The food has all been really good, and I´m starting to adjust to the eating schedule and portions. I got to have my first Asado (like Argentina BBQ) and it was really really good. The members have been such a huge help. Speaking of which, everyone at home please help the missionaries. They really need it. Go out with them, feed them, give them a name to contact. Please just do something. 

Elder Hatch (who by the way looks just like Crocker from Fairly Odd Parents) and I have really been trying to work hard even though we have seen little success. We had a lot of potential people we talked to, but nearly everyone of them has fallen through. We are a little bummed, but it´s just motivation to work and pray harder. The coolest thing this week was when we visited a family. They were a member reference. We started talking to the family, and when they described their situation, it was almost exactly like Alex. Alex was the investigator Hermano Weekes played for us in the MTC. I got really excited because I thought back to all the experiences we had with teaching ´´Alex´´ in the MTC. We´re trying to teach them and we think that we really could have potential with them. 

My Spanish is coming along little by little. At this point, I´m actually getting more used to being around Spanish, even when I can barely understand sometimes I end up just smiling and responding with sí or no and hoping it´s the right answer. I really don´t know how many times I´ve probably told someone something incorrect about me or the mission. I did my first door approach and it was going good. I gave her a pass along card and invited her to church then she said something really fast in Spanish so I smiled and nodded and figured out what to say next, but before I could she shut the door. It felt cool to finally do something Elder Hatch and I have been practicing for the past week even if I got rejected.  In lessons, usually I share something simple and brief. If we get to the full 1st lesson, I always get to do the 1st vision which I really love to do. I still am really shy to open my mouth and start talking. 

The most interesting thing I´ve learned about Argentina is that they do not like the rain. At all. Practically everyone and everything shuts down. It makes it hard to get members to go out with us and makes it hard to talk to people. And it´s rained every other day here. We had 2 really good finding activities planned for the fair, but both days it rained and cancelled it. 

Yesterday at a farewell, Elder Hatch and I, along with the zone leaders, were just sitting and listening then the lady annouced what was next on the program. She said ´´Now we will hear a special musical number from the Elders´´ so we all just looked at eachother, panicked, and slowly made our way up to the front. Elder Hatch was going to play the piano, so Me, Elder Jenkins and Elder Rodriguez were going to have to sing. None of us can sing. I said we should sing hymn 88 becasue it´s one of the few I know and it´s a pretty good farewell song. So we tried our best to sing that song and we barely got through it. It was embarrasing but in the end, actually kind of fun. 

We get to have a New missionary reunion on Friday so I´ll get to see Elder Hardcaslte and Holtry again which is exciting.  Overall, Argentina is an awesome place, and I´m happy to be here, and soon enough I´ll figure it all out.

-Elder Steele 

Pictures: My view in the morning

                                                    compared to my view at night

Monday, August 3, 2015

Paz Fuera America

Email written: 8/3/15

Welp, I´m in Argentina. And it is nothing like I expected. And that is ok. 

First off, I actually miss the MTC. I can´t believe that we wanted to get out of there so quickly. The last few days at the MTC were sad but exciting. We had a great district, zone, and teachers who I´ll miss. Flying was not as bad as I thought it would be. I sat next to Elders on both so I just read Jesus the Christ and slept. I was surprised I could sleep most of the flight to Argentina. When we got off the plane in Atlanta one of the Elders ´´accidentally´´ ran into his mom. I think it was planned,  but I´m not complaining because she bought us all dinner. So my last meal in America was Chick fil a.

We got to Argentina and had no idea what we were doing. We finally found our mission president and we got on a bus. The bus already had 13 latinos from the Chile MTC and they didn't speak English so they tried to scare us with Spanish. But they were all really funny. We took a little tour of Buenos Aires and spent some time in the Mission home. Then we went to the church to get our assignments. My trainer is Elder Hatch. When he met me all he said (and kept saying) was that we have a really special area. I didn't know how to think. Then we took an hour taxi ride to our apartment, which isn´t even in our area. We have to travel by bus everyday to and from our zone. So finally on Wednesday, the work began. We are in Soldati, and are we teach in the Monoblocks. The monoblocks are something else, they are almost like legos or minecraft. I can´t really describe them. Just look them up on Google. I had no idea what happened on Wednesday and Thursday. They did not speak MTC Spanish and I was ready to just leave because I did not feel comfortable. Then I gave myself a huge pep talk and have learned to stay positive. We have not had much success. We´re helping reactivate a really amazing family, but other than that we have not taught lessons. In fact, we have not had 1 sit down lesson with an investigator. We talk to them at their doorway for a few minutes and that´s it. We also don´t really do tracting. We are supposed to work with and through the members trying to find people. Things might be starting to turn around, but who knows. Don´t worry, I´m not discouraged. I have to be like LeBron and not quit until I bring Cleveland that title. 

The food is really good. The problem is there´s too much. The members are trying to kill us. Remember in the Office when Michael ate all that fettuccini alfredo and then ran a 5K (or it´s like having to eat 5 navajo tacos for lunch. That reference is for my MTC friends). That´s how I've felt the past few days. I shouldn't complain because we are getting fed very well and I am very grateful I don´t have to worry about food. I've also learned to really like all the types of breakfast pastries, and mate. 

The members here are awesome. They are really friendly and they help us out so much in all different ways. I just wish I knew more Spanish.  I can´t believe I´m here and am just ready to work. I've already learned a lot and am humbled. I really appreciate my life in America, but for now, I´m an Argentine. 

This has been such a crazy week and hopefully this email makes sense. 

-Elder Steele

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Your missionary has arrived!

Email received: 7/28/15

Dear Family,

We are thrilled to report that your son, Elder Steele, has finally arrived safely in his mission this morning here in Buenos Aires.  He was picked up at the airport, and after a brief tour of Buenos Aires was brought to the mission home for a luncheon, followed by an interview with the President.  You should expect to hear from your missionary on his next P-day which will be Monday, August 3rd. Thank you for your prayers and support.

President and Sister Ayre

Almost Out Of Here

Email written: 7/22/15

On Friday we got our travel plans, so on Monday I'm officially out of the MTC and will be on my way to Argentina!!! It's been so weird to realize that we're almost done. It's been a good week. I'm finally not sick and I got to see 2 friends in the cafeteria. I got to see Sister Wright (Oakli) and Elder Eastley (My F1 buddy from BYU).

Because we're leaving and because we've dominated the volleyball courts every day, we decided to take our flag out to mark our territory and take pictures. Then the Germans (our rivals) stole our idea.

The other picture attached is our motivational board because we were trying to get Hermano Magallanes (our teacher) to ask out this girl and we had a good laugh.

Speaking of laughs, I got laughed at by my district during the devotional. If you remember last week, I accidentally prayed in Spanish. So this week after the prayer (in English) President Trost said "Thank you for praying in the correct language" so in other words I got subtweeted over the stand in front of 1996 other missionaries. But it's all good.

We had our last lesson with Marco and it was sad not only because of all the experiences we had but because he was sick we had to skype him. The interesting thing that even through Skype we were able to really feel the spirit in our lesson. One of our teachers left us with a really interesting quote. It makes more sense in Spanish, but I'll also give the English translation. "La mision es la transformacion de un Pecador a ser Pescador" 
If you remember, the difference between fish and sinner is very little, so in English it means "The mission is the transformation of a sinner into a fisher" so that's really something to think about. 

Lastly, today was the last day we have to go to the temple for probably 2 years. It's impossible to top finishing the Book of Mormon last week, but there was something interesting to be learned today. This morning I found out that one of my favorite F1 drivers passed away on Friday after being in a coma. It was weird to think because I remember watching that race early in the morning in October and have been following the story ever since. It is sad for me mainly because his family and most of his fans do not have the knowledge of the plan of salvation so you can imagine the grief. It was in total contrast to President Packer's funeral because there was comfort in the Plan of Salvation. It just reminded me the power that these gospel principles can have on those who do not have a knowledge.

Next time I email, I'll be in Argentina!
-Elder Steele

You can't spell Missionary Preparation without STREP

Email written: 7/15/15

Ok, so I don't actually have strep. I thought I did and it's been going around the MTC this past week. But I have been sick since Thursday. Yesterday I finally found out what I have, it's a "Viral upper respiratory tract infection" and I'm still going to be recovering for another week or so. I've only missed one class block so luckily I'm not behind. 

Have you ever had the feeling something was going to happen and then weeks later they happen? Well that happend twice. On the same day. The first was Elder Holtry and I kept feeling we were going to be made Zone Leaders and then on Sunday morning he asked us to be Zone Leaders. We haven't done much yet, but we do get flip phones so it's exciting. The other thing has to do with devotionals. Ever since the first devotional I've thought "If I ever have to pray for one of those I know I'm going to speak Spanish" and you're supposed to pray in English. So last week I was told I'd be giving the opening prayer for the Sunday evening devotional and just as I feared, my prayer went like this "Nuestro querido Padre Celes- uhhhh oh Dear Heavenly Father" And everyone laughed including the MTC presidency. So now I'm known as THAT Elder who prayed in Spanish #rememberthename. Other than that it's been a pretty normal week. Start the day off dominating volleyball then in class learning Spanish or teaching investigators. 

Spritually it's been an interesting week mainly because I've been sick I haven't focused as much as I probably should, but I still had 2 really good experiences. Friday was another awesome Marco experience. We taught tithing and he understood but also told us it would be a challenge becuase he does not make much and will be taking classes at UVU in August, but we had him pray at the end of the lesson and he said "Please help me know this is a commandment and it's true (15 second pause) I've never felt this feeling before so it must be the Holy Ghost testifying to me" he was emotional after and thanked us for inviting such a spirit. Teach Marco has been such a blessing becuase it has shown us the power of the Holy Ghost in conversion and how crucial it is. The other was this morning. Our branch president challenged us on Day 2 of the MTC to finish the Book of Mormon or at least finish Alma by the time we leave. Well I took the challenge and soon enought I realized that if I paced myslef just right, I could finish Moroni 10 in the Celestial room. The whole session I was so anxious to get to the room to finish. All I can say is what an incredible and almost indescribable experience it is to finish the Book of Mormon in the Temple. The thing is I haven't fully read it all the way through, I mean I kind of did for Seminary but I didn't get much out of it. My testimony of the Book of Mormon has always been based off my testimony of Jospeh Smith. My thinkning was "I know without a doubt Joseph Smith is a prophet, so the Book of Mormon must be true" but after today all I've got to say is the Book of Mormon is so freakin true. 

Overall I'm just taking the MTC day by day. We've gotten into to routine of everything and the Spanish is all coming along. Elder Holtry and I can now teach all the lessons with little to no notes so that's a confidence booster. Just couting down the days until I can finally get to Buenos Aires and speak Castellano (which of course is the best and most pure form of Spanish). This time next week we have to start packing. We're supposed to get our flight plans at the end of this week and we're almost positive we leave on July 27th. 

-Elder Steele

Every Day is the Same. Que Macána

Email written: 7/8/15

It´s just been another week of learning, learning, teaching, and some more learning. The schedule and days run together so much you don´t remember if you learned something 2 hours ago or 2 days ago. But we still have our fun and spiritual moments. 

It´s become tradition in our district to sing "Jesus es mi luz" as a way to close out every day. It is hymn 42. Guess what other great closer had the number 42... Mariano Rivera. It was fun to make that connection. It's the little things that keep us sane here lol. Thursday was a sad day because our Italians left. Since day 3 we've played volleyball with an Italian district and it was a lot of fun, but they all left so we've turned to challenging and dominating every district that tries to challenge us. We are undefeated against every district. And speaking of volleyball, we just spend almost 2 hours playing sand volleyball in pouring rain, and it was probably our best game ever. For the 4th of July we had a special devotional. It was 2 hours of "America is the greatest." It was cool but at the same time hard because I'm supposed to become and Argentine and leave a lot of my American pride at home. Then we got to watch the fireworks from stadium of fire. Well by watch, it was stand in a parking lot for 30 minutes and try to watch them with trees blocking our way. At lunch one day we were ranking Office characters and as soon as I said "I'm usually the Toby of my friend group" I spilled and broke my glass. So the timing could not have been any better. My question is why do they give us glass cups to use in the first place? 

Along with the fun, I've had plenty of other experiences. One of the biggest has come bit by bit. Before the mission I almost never read from the Book of Mormon, but I spend at least and hour reading it every day here and the way it helps set the tone for the rest of the day is incredible. I'm on track to be able to finish it next Wednesday. We taught Marco on Friday and at first it was rough. It was rough because Elder Holtry's stuttering problem was manifesting itself in every word he tried to speak and he kept apologizing to Marco for it. Then Marco did something amazing. The thing about Marco is that he has Polio. He uses crutches to walk and has a hard time standing up under his own power. But he said "Look at me" and under his own strength stood up and stared at both of us and then sat back down. He then told us (all in Spanish of course, but I'll translate) "We all have handicaps or struggles in our lives and we should never apologize. Do you think that every time I pass someone on my crutches I say sorry to them? No! We should never apologize for our difficulties. God knows us and understands our limitations. I know you Elders don't speak Spanish very well, but in my heart I feel you message. I feel in my heart the truth. That's why I want to be baptized" It was so emotional and powerful. That's why we're missionaries is because of experiences like that. Now because he's TRC he might be an actual member pretending to be an investigator, but it doesn't matter because the Spirit that was in the room was so real and that's what matters. Speaking of the Spirit, we had a devotional last night about the power of the first vision in converting. I want to end my email with mi testimonio de José Smith

Yo sé que José Smith es un profeta. Yo sé que José Smith vió Dios y Jesucristo. José Smith es porque yo tengo un testimonio de la Iglesia de Jesucristo. Yo sé que el Libro De Mormon es la palabra de Dios. En el nombre de Jesucristo, amen.  

-Elder Steele


Email written: 7/1/15

The most interesting thing I learned this week is that I'm the only elder with college experience. All the others are fresh out of high school and it's weird. So many times have I said "At BYU..." and they all just look at me. But just because I'm older, does not mean I'm wiser. We were teaching Marco and wanted to find James in the Bible. James in Spanish is Santiago and I forgot that, so for 5 minutes I was trying to find it with no success. Luckily it references it in the pamphlet so it worked out. 

Wed- Was P-day so not much happened. It's nice to get a break for a day but if you're not careful it can throw you off and really hurt your ability to teach a lesson in the evening. 

Thurs- Great day. We got Taco Bell for lunch and on top of that, got the Sprite cans with Drake lyrics on them. So I had 3 cans just to collect some of the quotes. When you ironically listen to Drake for a year, you just feel a connection with the quotes. This week was also new mission president training which meant we had the privilege of having one of the new mission presidents come teach us for an hour. We had Presidente Rios, who will be the president for the new Peru Trujillo South mission. They only spoke (very fast) Spanish and it was exhausting to keep up. But it was fun because we had this 4' 11" Peruvian yelling Spanish at us, and our favorite part was when we talked about the Holy Ghost and he kept saying "El ESSPIRITUUU SAAAANNTOO!" with so much energy. It was great. Even with the language barrier we were still able to learn.

And then after the lesson all of the Hermanas had to immediately to go an impromptu meeting only to be told that their building had bats so they would all have to move out. So then we spent the next hour helping them all move. By this point we were exhausted and we were annoyed with someone in the district so at dinner we talked about how to deal with it. Elder Hardcastle told us to have charity and then yelled "Yo Soy Castidad!!!" Charity = caridad, Chastity = castidad. So that was a great laugh. 

Fri- We had more of Presidente Rios and this time we also had Elder Pino from the 70 with us. It was another exhausting experience to focus to be able to try to understand but it was all good. We then got to teach Marco the Plan of Salvation and he loved it. I was prompted to invite him to be baptized! He said probably but he wanted to pray and read the Book of Mormon a little bit first. It's so cool to feel the spirit so well and to teach. 

Sat- Went by so fast. Not much happened except that I learned how much of a giant goofy lovable dork my companion is. He's the best. He had all of us laughing to the point of a complete breakdown for 10 minutes. And then we got Chick fil a for dinner, so it was a great day. On a more spiritual note, we started memorizing the first vision in Spanish. The first vision has always been one of the strongest times I can feel the spirit. It just reaffirmed my strong testimony of Joseph Smith and I remembered why I'm here. 

Sun- Sundays are such a great day. It's the best spiritual boost, but it is so hard to stay awake all day. Fun fact: We found out Thomas S. Monson drive a Silver Audi A6 L because we saw him get into it. For the devotional we all expected a General Authority because they were all here the past week, and we all were a little disappointed when it was someone else. By the end of the devotional, it was one of the best I've heard. The sass, humor, singing, and spirit were all so strong. Great way to start the new week. Also, please take the time to watch Elder Bednar's "Character of Christ" it's a little long, but life changing. 

Mon- Pretty uneventful. I learned not to kick a volleyball barefoot because I destroyed my toe pero esta bien. And that night, Hermana Smith and I talked for 40 minutes about the Bachelor/Bachelorette it was hilarious. I surprised everyone with my knowledge. I have to thank Bri, Heather, and Oakli for making me watch that first episode of the Bachelor because it's payed off in getting along with all the Hermanas. 

Tues- I had a feeling that all day that I would have to give a blessing to Hermana Adkins. She got a volleyball kicked in her face pretty hard and she tore her retina (or something, Idk, I'm not a doctor) so then in the evening, my prompting proved right. So I've finally given my first priesthood blessing. It was a little stressful to focus so hard on the spirit, but it all worked out. Later we taught Marco and re invited him to be baptized. He said "Of course!" and it was the best feeling ever. We set the date for August 1st. Because it is the TRC (teaching resource center) there's a 50% chance he's a member and a 50% chance he's a real investigator. Either way it's an awesome experience. 

Time is so weird here in that it feels like I've been here forever but at the same time, it's all gone by quickly. Can't believe how soon I'll actually be in Buenos Aires. 

-Elder Steele


Email written: 6/24/15
Well I made it a full week in the MTC. Not going to lie, the first few days were brutal. I'm so glad to have a great district. It's me, Elder Holtry, Elder Sargent (Hopes to go MLB), Elder Hardcastle (Performing arts major, so he's very entertaining), Elder Hoopes, Elder Christiansen, Hermana Smith, Hermana Powers, Hermana Adkins, y Hermana Landen. We've been able to grow close (3 blessings have already been given) and it's very easy to see that we were all put there for a reason. It's helpful to have a good district because the first few days you really end up questioning why you're there but by Sunday you realize everything is going to be ok. And the wise words of Michael Scott have really helped adjusting to the MTC "Adapt, react, readapt, act." Jueves was the first full day and it was a very long day. A typical day in the MTC is

6:30 wake-up
7-8 study in classroom
8-8:30 breakfast
8:30-9:20 Gym (Basketball or Volleyball)
9:50-12:50 Class
12:50-1:30 Lunch
2:05-5:05 Class
More plan and studying
5:45 Dinner
6:30-9:30 Class
10:30 Bed

And class either means learning Spanish or teaching investigators. My companion (Elder Holtry from California. Great companion to have) have 2 investigators we teach: Jorge y Marco. We started teaching Jorge on Friday and our first lesson with Marco was yesterday. Jorge is from Argentina and reminds me of my Dad because his wife is pregnant and Jorge really cares for his family and really wants to be able to have the best family he can. The thing is, we have to teach in Spanish, so the lessons always don't go as planned. But the gift of tongues is a real gift and incredible. We've been able to not only teach in Spanish but also pray and bear testimony. In these lessons we are really able to feel God's love for them. It is great motivation to learn Spanish because all you want to do is help your investigators learn and feel el Espiritu Santo. There was one time teaching Jorge where I said Pescados instead of Pecados. Pescados = fish, pecados = sin. See the problem? 

The food is just ok, but don't worry I am eating. It's like the Cannon center but not as good. But at least I'm getting 3 meals a day. 

My Spanish is coming along bit by bit. WIthout even thinking I can write or speak Spanish in the middle of a sentence, which I think means that I'm starting to get a grip on the language. It's really fun on Loco Lunes y Macanudo Martes because we try to only speak Spanish all day. It's been helpful. I realized that the reason I am learning Spanish is not because I have the ability to learn languages easily, but instead it's to humble me and make me rely on the spirit. Also Macanudo means groovy and we say it all the time just because it's fun. 

There's just so much that goes on and I have so many experiences and it's hard to try to write them all down and share them. I am excited to keep learning and I'm ready to be in Argentina. 

Yo se que Jose Smith es un profeta y vio Dios y Jesucristo. Yo se que la Iglesia es verdadero. Yo soy argedecido por el Espiritu Santo y el don del lenguas. En el nombre de Jesucristo, amen.  (I know there should be accents but this keyboard won't do it. And also I know that the spelling might be a little off)   -Elder Steele

First Day

Email written: 6/17/15

So today I entered the MTC. Before I went in I texted Kyle and he replied with "See ya on the flip side" which reminded me of this scene from the Office
(Don't worry, I sent the link to myself beforehand) It was such a weird experience getting dropped off. It just seems surreal. It got the most real when they handed me the name tag that says "Elder Steele". It feels kind of like EFY but times 10. I saw 4 people from my BYU ward (including the cute girl I mentioned in my farewell) I put my stuff in the room and went to class and freaked out. because in the hour and half we had class, it was all in Spanish. We only spoke 7 words in English, but honestly Spanish is a wonderful language and I'm ready to learn. This evening we spent time in large groups talking with real investigators and it was an interesting experience really having to listen and love these people to try and teach them. 

So it turns out my P-day is going to be on Wednesdays during my time here. Other than that I don't have much to say. I'm just trying to figure this all out.   -Elder Steele

Don't Cry for Me, Argentina!

Elder Steele's Farewell Talk given 6/14/15

Good Morning. For those of you who don’t really recognize me, I understand because I’ve spent 2 semesters at BYU Provo and have only been home for a few weeks. My freshman year was amazing and very memorable. I had countless life lessons, especially some that have helped me prepare to leave this week for the MTC before eventually flying down to Buenos Aires, Argentina. But more on that later.

I was asked to give this talk today referencing Elder David A. Bednar’s October 2014 conference address titled “Come and See.” The main focus of this talk is aimed at answering the question of why Latter-Day Saints are eager to tell about what they believe and why they invite others to learn more. In the beginning of this talk Elder Bednar explains that “The Church of Jesus Christ always has been and always will be a missionary church” Sounds pretty good right? But what is a Missionary? That too is answered by Elder Bednar “A missionary is a follower of Christ who testifies of Him as the Redeemer and proclaims the truths of His gospel.” Notice how he didn’t say “Someone who leaves for 18 months or 2 years, wears a name tag, and rides bikes all over” It is important to remember that we all need to do our part. I haven’t always been as diligent as I probably should have but there was one time around Christmas where I got it. In our student ward we were challenged to use social media to share the gospel and more specifically the He is The Gift video. Now something about me is that I use Twitter. A lot. So I felt as if the teacher was speaking right to me. I had some reservations at first because I didn’t want to offend or annoy anyone but the thought “A CUTE girl just challenged you to do something you’re totally capable of doing AND she promised Christmas treats to the dorms who did it” So the first few hours I did it for the cute girl and the treats but as the day went on I realized that sharing the gospel online is very easy and it was a good testimony builder for me.  So never be afraid to share a quick thought because you never know who might need it.

Elder Bednar then addresses those who are not Latter-Day Saints “When we invite you to attend church with us or to learn with the full-time missionaries, we are not trying to sell you a product” which I think is very important to note. He continues by saying “We are not attempting to coerce you to believe as we do” I think that this is cause for us to be hesitant to share our beliefs with others because we do not want to seem like we are forcing anything upon them. I mean I’ve felt that way before. All we can do is invite them to learn more and have them find out for themselves.

As Elder Bednar continues he explains that being a missionary is more than a spiritual duty but “our desire to share the restored gospel of Jesus Christ with you is a reflection of how important these truths are to us” This makes sense because we tend to talk about things we like or feel important to us. I had to ask myself “Because the gospel is such a fundamental part of my life, why don’t I talk about it more?” These days I spend most of my time talking about The Bachelorette, The NBA playoffs, and Formula 1 racing even though they are not even close to as important in my life as the gospel. That is something I have been trying to improve especially because the next 2 years I will be focusing on sharing the gospel.

Speaking of improving and preparing, while I was writing this talk, I kept thinking about an experience I had during one of my first days in Provo. I moved in on a Sunday and because orientation didn’t start until Thursday, I had some time. Luckily, I had made some friends online beforehand so we had agreed to hangout Monday. A meeting up for lunch quickly led to a 4am drive to draper and then sleeping out on the basketball courts next to our dorm. We didn’t have much sleep and all day Tuesday we helped others move into their dorms. I don't remember how the idea came about, but that afternoon we decided we were going to hike the Y the next morning to see the sunrise. Now if you’re like me you’re thinking “oh that’s cool” but if you’re from Utah or remember geography, the suns rises in the East. The Y faces the West. See the problem? This was not something that crossed our minds. Again we didn’t sleep enough and at 4:30am. Wednesday morning we were at the base of the mountain. I would not recommend doing that hike while very tired, very hungry, dehydrated and not used to the altitude. But we eventually made it and that’s when we decided to check the sunrise time; 7:49. It was about 5:20. Luckily we brought blankets and did the best we could to nap until the sun rose. It was 8:00 and that’s when we realized the direction we were facing. I mean it was still a gorgeous view, but not what we wanted. Why do I share this embarrassing story? That’s what preparing for a mission is like. Just because you have the goal to do it, doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. I’ve realized that being excited and setting the goal is only part of it.  You need to take every step to prepare.

For those of you thinking about going on missions, you need to start now. Wherever you are, start. You can be like Drake; starting from the bottom. Start reading the scriptures. Just read them and enjoy them and that's when you can start to really learn from them. Familiarize yourself with Preach My Gospel. I was fortunate enough to be called to teach Mission Prep (which at first thought was weird because I haven't gone on a mission) for my student ward and feel that was a tremendous blessing because I had to really learn Preach My Gospel in order to teach others how to use and teach from it.  Everyone says this, and it’s true, pay attention in seminary. Try every day to learn something. This is not an easy thing, but it's doable.  There were a lot of days where I just went in with the mindset “How can I relate this to cars and how would I teach this?” and it helped so much. Take every chance you can to learn and share. But this is not a 0-100 real quick thing either, but instead you need Kanye’s “All Day” mentality. And oh boy do you have to fight procrastination and distractions. It seems easy enough to prepare with your free time (before but it also seemed simple enough for the Seahawks to run it at the 1.) but unlike the Seahawks, I know I can be successful with the lord on my side. Like I said being excited is only part of it, but it is still important to look forward to wherever you are called to serve. Given my family history and constant reassurance from my Grandpa, I figured I was going to Europe. But I always said “I’ll go wherever I’m called because that’s where I’ll be needed.” An hour before I was supposed to open my call, I was at a friend’s dorm and they asked where I hoped the call was to. I said “I don’t really care…… as long as it’s really not South America. I just don’t really want to go there.”  63 minutes later of course I found out I'd be going to Argentina. I was still excited but at the same time just kind of like oh. Oh because all I could think about Argentina was: I had made fun of their World Cup loss, The Top Gear disaster, and Bishop Christiansen. That night I did some research and felt a little better. Hanging up an Argentina flag in my dorm helped me feel more excited.

Then one night a few weeks later listening to Big Sean’s New Album for whatever reason helped. The song Deep opens with “I look  up to God, I wonder if I fell from the sky” which made me realize there are people  who have big questions like where they came from and that the Gospel answers questions like that. The song Blessings helped me realize my blessings and how I  want others to also feel just as blessed. And there was another line in the song that got me thinking. “I’m here for a good time, not a long time” which applies to a mission. 2 years is not a long time but it’s what you do with those 2 years that make it a good time in the sense that you serve and teach to the best of your abilities. This leads to the song One Man Can Change the World. I can change the world, well at least down in Argentina I can change someone’s world. I was talking  with a friend sometime after and she really got me thinking about the impact I can have as a missionary and we decided that “One Man Can Change The World” would be my mission anthem and that’s when I realized it doesn’t matter where I’m going. But now I'm so extremely excited to be going to such a wonderful place. What matters is I go with the intent to serve and love the people. And once you feel that, all you want to do is prepare. Now why do all of this preparation to share the Gospel? Because, as Elder Bednar put it “Absolute truth exists. Jesus the Christ absolutely is the Only Begotten Son of the Eternal Father.”

I want to echo those absolute truths. Joseph Smith absolutely saw Jesus Christ  and Heavenly Father. The Book of Mormon is absolutely another testament of Christ. And this gospel is absolutely true, everlasting, and life changing.

 I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen