Monday, September 28, 2015

I Don´t Even Know What Happened

Email written: 9/28/15

Well this week not much happened until Saturday. On Saturday we had the baptism for Mara. She was the one who we almost dropped, but we fasted, prayed, and worked hard with her. By Saturday she was ready to be baptized and has so much faith. I was excited that she was going to start a better life and also excited because I was going to be doing the actual baptizing. I was happy the whole day and the baptism went well. It was just a really neat experience. Don´t worry about the picture, she hates pictures so that is why she is like that. At least we got a picture though.

So then Sunday came. We got her to church and were talking to the 1st counselor in the bishopric about the confirmation. Then a brother who has been in the ward forever talked to Elder Hatch and told him something. Elder Hatch then went to talk to the ward mission leader. I couldn´t understand everything they were saying but I felt it wasn´t good. Then the 1st counselor comes back with his phone and shows us Mara´s record. I was thinking ´´wow, they already have her record to go´´ Then they all looked at me and no one really said anything. Then they told me. Mara was already baptized 21 years ago. I was thinking no way this just happened. We then talked to Mara and she said she didn´t remember, even though she was 26 when it said it happened. So we didn´t do the confirmation. I was mad. I wasn´t mad at any one person, but I just felt angry. After all the disappointment these past few transfers. All the prayers and fasting. All the bad days. I finally thought our efforts were worth it. And then to find out it didn´t even matter killed me. It really made me discouraged. I was so excited to send this email on Saturday talking about Mara and showing the picture of me in white and just feeling good, but now nope. And the worst thing is that now for the rest of the 2 years I´m going to be known as ´´the elder who baptized a less active´´ and have already been the butt-end of jokes. I don´t know why I´m here in Soldati and who there is for us to find and it´s been hard. But Elder Hatch keeps telling me that we are going to have our miracles this week and I pray I have enough faith to enact those miracles with him.

But it´s good that we´re starting to reactivate her because in the end she needed to come to church. Speaking of reactivation, this other picture is of the Family Picavia. They were the first ever family we went to visit and I thought they were just normal members. But then a few days ago Elder Hatch told me they have been inactive for years and my first Sunday was their first sunday back to church in a long time. Now they are just so active and awesome and we really love them. 

-Elder Steele

Monday, September 21, 2015

the Good, the Bad, and the Crazy

Email written: 9/21/15

The good- The missionaries have been working since March with Guadalupe. Most of her family got baptized a while ago. For some reason she wasn´t baptized with them. She knows it´s the right thing to do, but wont commit to a date. Elder Hatch and I decided we needed to try one last time to see what´s up with her. We sat down to talk, and like how it has been usually, we get nowhere with her and she keeps saying the same stuff. Elder Hatch tries to get the member to talk and help, and as good of a job he does, still nothing. I just kept thinking, I need to say something but I kept pushing it off. Right before Elder Hatch was going to tell her thank you and goodbye, I started talking. Honestly I don´t know 100% of what I said. I just started saying Spanish without even thinking or translating. I was on such a roll and I felt the Spirit so strong and working through me. At the end I was a little emotional and so was Guadalupe. After a few seconds of calm silence she looks up and asks ´´When am I getting baptized?´´ We put a date for November 8. It´s kind of far, but it gives her time to work out her last few problems and be ready. Elder Hatch really wanted to push her date up, becuase November is a long ways away, so the next day we were going to go back and talk to her again. I was so stressed about what to say because I didn´t want to lose her. We walked in and I had the feeling to tell her about Dad and my life. It wasn´t as poweful as the day before but the Spirit was really there and she is really thinking about having it earlier. I gave my first 15 minute talk in Spanish on Sunday about missionary work. It was fun to prepare. At the end I taught them all ´´Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can´t Lose´´ from Friday Night Lights. 

The bad- First of all, still no gas in our apartment but anyway, for the past 2 weeks we have been running into an old investigator of Elder Hatch more and more. It was to the point of where we knew it was not a coincidence. One day she asked us why we are happy and always say hi to people. We started talking to her more and she told us she had a testimony of Joseph Smith and felt really good about the gospel. We have been working with her this past week prepping her for her baptism next Saturday and everything was going good. She is such an example of faith. But, yesterday right before her interview, she told us she wanted to review the questions again. As soon as she said that I knew we had a problem, and when we sat down I knew exactly the problem she was about to tell us. After a little bit of talking she admitted her problem and my worries were confirmed. It killed me and Elder Hatch. We told her that she wouldn't be able to have the interview so then she got up and left. We both felt like we left it wrong with her and needed to talk to her again. Because the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a message of hope and change, and those are the 2 things she needs in her life right now. We went back and bore testimony to her. She didn't make any promises, but she says she is willing to try to change. 

The crazy- On Thursday we had to go to the villa to get a member. We were crossing the street when a lady called out to us. She had a bike, 2 pots full of food, and a broken bag. She asked if we were the boys who were always nice to people. I was thinking, hey we have a miracle because last time someone asked us this, they got a baptismal date. So we talked and it turns out she has some family who are members. We offered help and decided we were going to teach her a short lesson on the way to her house. But she just kept talking about the most random things. She kept telling us just 2 more blocks. just 2 more blocks´´ after 5 blocks, she hopped on her bike and DISAPPEARED! She just rode off leaving us confused carrying pots of food. To make things worse, one of the pots was really full and spilled down the pants of Elder Hatch. We didn't know what to do. We kept walking trying to find her, and eventually we found her. She was at some sort of outside party with a ton of loud music, beer, and weed. We gave her her pots and got out of there. We then laughed for 5 minutes trying to understand what just happened. 

-Elder Steele

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

It's All in Your Head

Email written: 9/14/15

I can´t believe that it´s already been 3 months since I left home. I does not feel like that. The amount of experiences I've already have had are really special. 

So this week was the first week of transfers and it´s really good. We had a lot of ´dead´ missioanries, which means they are on their last transfer and are at least partly already home. That does not bode well for motivation for the zone. But they all left and we got some really great Elders. Elder Cunningham is one of the new zone leaders and he has really helped bring some new life and motivation in the district. All the other elders that came here are really aweseome too, so we really feel September is going to be the month of miracles.

On Wednesday I had an interesting experience and learned that success (or lack of) is all in your head. It seems like everyone in Soldati has been sick the past week, and Elder Hatch and I are no exception. It probably has something to do with the weird weather change. So I had been sick for a few days already when it came to Wednesday. And then it was so so cold and it was raining a ton. I was pretty miserable. I started thinking that all I wanted was some hot chocolate or mate cocido We were waiting for a member and then I started to think, ´´no. What I want more than anything right now is to have a lesson and get some new investigators´´ The member opened the door and gave us hot chocolate. Then we went up to a part member family who was a reference from another member. We had felt really good about them and their kids but they weren´t there. Still sick, cold, tired, and wanting mate cocido we were ready to go back down the 15 flights of stairs. Then I decided to knock on the door across. They were a couple who we contacted Sunday in the stairs and we had set an appointment with them for Monday but they weren´t there. A concern was that Laura said she was watching a movie about Mormons in Afric but couldn´t remember the name. I thought it was either the Book of Mormon musical or Freetown. Still I knocked when Elder Hatch said no. Then Ramon opened the door and at that point we expected to talk to him in the door and Elder Hatch was about to drop them. But they invited us in, gave us mate cocido and we ended up teaching Ramon, Laura, and their daughter Vanesa a really good lesson. Ramon doesn´t want much but Laura and Vanesa really have a desire to learn more. And at the end we found out that the movie Laura watched was Freetown, which made us feel better. So in the end, what we focus our thoughts on is what we eventually end up getting. 

Friday was Ezequiel´s birthday. On Thursday we asked him if he was going to celebrate it,and his mom said they didn´t really have the money to do anything but still told us to come by on Friday. Elder Hatch decided to make a cake for him that night. The problem is, we have not had gas in our apartment for 2 weeks so we can´t cook, but there are other Elders 10 minutes away with an oven. We bought the stuff thursday night and made plans to go early to their apartment Fridaymorning to shower and make the cake. But, Elder Hatch broke the lighter, so we couldn´t use the oven. We had to take everything to the church and use the kitchen there. After forever we figured out the oven and started baking the cake. The box said 1 hour, which we thought was strange so we decided to go back after 30 minutes. After 27 minutes we went back to the kitched to the smell of burning cake. We pulled it out to find the edges and the bottom were pretty crispy, but there was still some good cake. So we cut out the bad, stacked the good, and frosted it. It turned out a lot smaller than we wanted, but it was still good.

-Elder Steele

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

1 Transfer Down

Email written: 9/8/15

Don´t worry, I´m ok. Because it´s transfer week, P day is Tuesday instead of Monday. Last night they called and told the zone who was staying and who was going. They told me I was staying and then didn´t say anything about my companion. Elder Hatch has this as his final transfer and he really wants to stay and finish in Soldati, so when they didn´t say anything at first he got really scared. Then the zone leaders said ´Well Elder Hatch, we are looking on the map and we can´t find this place you are going. You are going to..... stay.´´ Elder Hatch was so happy, and I was glad too because I still need his help getting around the monoblocks and he is a pretty good companion. 

Speaking of transfers, I can´t believe I´m done with one. I have been out on the mission for 3 months now and I don´t know how to feel. With this transfer I learned 3 things: 
1. Missionary work is hard. Different from the MTC experiences. 
2. The Book of Mormon is really aweomse to read from every morning 
3. Argentina has good food, but Peru has the best food probably ever. 

Sunday was Ezequiel´s confirmation. I was sitting in the back with him and then they called for us to come up and announced I would be doing the actual conforming. I was nervous because I didn´t know how to do one and this is pretty important. But I figured it out and I really felt the Spirit as it was happening. 

Other than that there is not much to write about. We are just working everyday hoping to find the people prepared to listen. This transfer for the entire mission has been a little down in numbers, and it is a little discouraging when we think about it, but it gives us motivation and faith that we can improve and turn everything around. We have really tried to talk to more members and get references from them and we have been using ´´Elder Holland´s testimony of the Book of Mormon´´ Mormon message and asking them to share their experiences with the Book of Mormon, and it has been really powerful and we have started to strengthen them as well as get some references.  There are some days where I don´t feel like a missionary and there are others where I feel that this is exactly what missionary work is. There are some days where 2 years seems like forever and other days where 2 years does not feel like I will have enough time to make a difference.   -Elder Steele

Here´s a picture from last P-day.