Hermana Alaniz and Hermana Dana (who drew the picture)
Pretty good for a chalkboard drawing!
Tyson, exhausted after a day as a bike missionary!
Tyson, a little worse for wear, and Elder Taylor--his
"bike companion" for a day
Hola todos de Maipú!
So, yes this last week I received the joke book. It was quite the laugh, I must say. I translated many of them into Castellano, and explained what Maipú says in English to Elder Galicia, and we both had a good laugh. So let Abby know that it arrived safe and sound haha :) The good thing about being so close to Mendoza is that I get mail every single week. Haha it's great. And all the elders and hermanas now know here that I get a lot of mail. And the cycle continues. I got at least 6 letters every week we got mail this transfer so far, and the most that anyone else has got at once was 3. So, thank you so much Sister Eagley, my parents, and everyone else who writes me! I am very spoiled.
So yesterday was Super Bowl Sunday huh? No I have to admit that I'm really glad I didn't know that. Haha and that's pretty cool the Ravens won! I don't have any team, so I'm glad for anyone who wins. But I know Ken, Kelly´s dad, will be upset. Sorry about the loss :/ haha. Wow it sounds like it was a very quiet Sunday dinner with you few people! I guess you still have more people than we do on Sundays. It's just me and Elder Galicia. Haha but it's okay, we have a good time, that's for sure.
So, about this last week, it was a GREAT week. We walked so much, taught so much, and although we didn't have any baptisms, we did enough with some people that this weekend, we for sure have one, and guess who it is??? G___!!!! We are so excited!!!! She had an interview with bishop yesterday too so it's for sure for sure. She has a lot of potential in the Church, and bishop realizes that so he is super excited for her as well. And about that, it was pretty funny how things worked out! We taught her on Thursday and set a sure date for this coming Saturday, and she was still hesitant, but with questions she eventually told us what the doubt was, and she just didn't want to have to repeat the interview for the 3rd time with some other elder that hasn't been there teaching her or anything. And by chance, we had interviews with President Ávila Friday, which turned out really good!! (I'll talk about that in a little bit.) And I mentioned this situation to President, and he gave us permission to do the interview ourselves, and so we were super excited to tell her the news Saturday. So we went, and she told us first thing that she felt bad for saying that about the interview and that she was willing to do it again, she just wants to be baptized! So we were kinda deflated, and told her the special permission we got, and she said sorry again, and it was all just a big fun adventure haha but it is for sure this Saturday. We are all super excited :)
Anyway, so about interviews! Of course, mine wasn't super long, because I'm still relatively new, but it was really good, I could talk freely about whatever thing without problems. and he complimented my Castellano, said it was perfect, and I just laughed because there are so many things I still don't know how to say. But we talked about lots of things, and then got the special permission for the interview situation, and then we headed back to our area. It was a good day! Hermana Alaniz went home afte rthe interview, so I said goodbye and gave her some letters I had written for her family, the Giordano family, and A___, who is going to be baptized on the 17th , but along with G___, the mom of Yoni who already was baptized, because she finally got divorced and will be married this next week, and they are getting baptized together! It's so cool! I'm super excited for Justo Daract, Elder Rogers and Elder Cisneros are working super hard, and the success is coming. What touched me most was that Hermana Alananiz (the mom) and A___ both asked me to ask President if I could come back and perform the baptism. I don't think he will allow it, but I asked just to satisfy my thoughts and their wants. I am honestly just excited that she is going to take this step, it doesn't matter to me who does it for her! But I was very touched that they asked me to do that. I will miss having updates from Justo Daract every week in district meeting, but oh well, life goes on, no? We just have to keep looking forward to the future.
So this last week we ended with such good numbers! I know the numbers don't mean anything about success, but we taught 18 lessons,(I know, nothing compared to the FORTY, yeah that's right--a 4 and a 0, lessons that Elder Olaso in Arizona has planned with his companion. His emails are awesome, inspiring), have 11 people with fechas, and a couple new people that don't have fechas still, and we have been contacting references like crazy! The numbers don't determine success, but they certainly make me feel like I worked super hard this week! It was such a long week but filled with good times, great lessons, hard moments, and smiles. Lots of smiles and laughs, with Elder Galicia but also with members, investigators, and random people even. I feel comfortable with this life. And I plan on enjoying all of it!
I got a letter from the Halls, and there was a page included in there with Kyle, Zane and Ste´fan writing me a message. I couldn't read Ste´fan's name, but it was written in Spanish, so I was thinking so hard about who it could be who knew Spanish! Then I remembered. So that was really cool! It was weird too because in my dream last night I tried to speak Spanish with Ste´fan and I couldn't speak at all. More like a nightmare haha but oh well. Your letters really do make a difference in my attitude! They are invading my dreams even haha.
Well we had intercambios this last Wednesday, and I was in Colonia Bombal, with Elder Taylor from California . Their area is one of the three areas with bikes, so I was SUPER excited!!!!!!...... That lasted about 10 minutes . Hahahahaha it was HORRIBLE! I hated the bikes!!! But, I can say I have been a bike missionary. I have a few pictures of how I felt after the day, and one with Elder Taylor that I will send. But it was such a good day! Plenty of riding with a backpack, sweating, burning a little, getting dirt everywhere, and riding SO MUCH. But I met some amazing people, and I feel like I helped at least a little with a few of their investigators. We rode about 3 miles on a dirt and rock road, with the wind, and we didn't find who we expected, so we had a few people that we visited, but then at 8:30 we were rushing to get home in time, but it was impossible, because there came a HUGE storm, with lightning, wind, rain, and hail. But the thing is here, during the storms, all the vineyards shoot off bombs (yes, real bombs) to explode in the clouds and break up the hail, because the hail destroys all the grapes and everything. So it sounds like constant, short thunder, but it's actually bombs haha. Weird huh? Something new in every place, no? And we had to ride all the way back to the pension, about 5 miles, against 20 mph winds, and my legs couldn't support me standing, so I had to sit on the ever so uncomfortable seat and take every jolt that the bike and the road had for me. So I was plenty sore, let me say. Elder Taylor was full of energy because he has long since been used to it, but it was my first day, and I couldn't go faster than a snail. We got home about 9:45. I felt horrible, but oh well. It was agood day haha just full of exhausting biking! I don't know how they do it. I stood up to put the bike away, and I collapsed haha. Oh yeah, what good fun :)
Anyway, so I got back and Elder Galicia told me about all the miracles they had in our area!!! They found the kids of a family we have been teaching, and the two daughters are more excited about the Book of Mormon and learning more about us than the mom who we have been teaching has been, so that was a miracle (it's weird, they already knew who Joseph Smith was, we taught that and they just accepted it right off the bat, because they told us their church teaches using the Book of Mormon. ?????) But that was really cool. They also found an investigator that has been missing in action since December 10th-ish, so that was way cool! And we found a few really good new people. So that was a blessing to work with the other elder and achieve even more success! Elder Taylor is a stud, he is awesome. So yeah, I'll send those pictures :)
Anyway, that was very cool to see the Lord work through different elders to achieve even more success in the other area. So this last week the leaders of the zone called Elder Galicia and told him a bunch of great news of changes in the mission, starting tomorrow, so I am anxious for our meeting tomorrow!!! There are some changes being made, and especially with this week being the last before transfers, things are going to be super interesting this week. He hasn't told me anything because he can't, but be sure that I'll let you know when Monday comes again! Also, something SUPER exciting, is that we might be moving to a new apartment, because Hermana Avila came to our pension to do a cleaning check, but the whole time she was just complaing about how terrible a pension it was, and how sorry she was that we had to live here, with the kitchen and the bathroom that isn't worthy to be called a bathroom, so we went to check out some brand new (I mean BRAND NEW; they are still building half of them. But they would be so PERFECT: just a little expensive) apartments to get a feel for them. And Elder Galicia told President about that visit. and he said that it is almost 100 percent likely that despite the cost it gets approved because the missionaries shouldn't have to live in such a bad place. I don't have complaints really, it's fit enough to live where we are, but I would miss the view of the mountains since we have an almost unimpeded view from our windows right now. But yes mom, I love the Andes. They are majestic and beautiful, I'll be crying on the way home (in a long time :D) if just for the Andes haha. I would LOVE to move too, change always helps you keep going, like dad said about Jalen maybe leaving this transfer from his first area. Change really is something GREAT to make you refocus your perspective and learn what you really want to achieve. Trust me, leaving on a mission has definitely helped me do that! So yeah, I will keep you updated on that too. Transfers we will know next Monday for sure, so you can all wonder and ponder this week, like I will be doing, and Monday we will find out together! :D
So this weeek, with how busy we have been, and getting home late almost every day, I haven't been able to listen to any talks, even though I have about 40 now and I really want to listen to them. So I don't have any good thoughts from that, sorry! But this week we´ll see how busy I am during the night. Hopefully I can listen to a few. But, we have been finishing Alma with our Book of Mormon challenge as a mission, and I LOVE reading it so quick, in succession, because now I have filled in a lot of gaps that I had before, because I always read with long intervals in between. And I don't know why, but I understand even more in Spanish. President Avila told us gringos that we could read in our language if we thought we would get more out of it, but I LOVE reading the Book of Mormon, or rather the Libro de Mormón. I don't care if it has really old Spanish, I understand basically all of it, and it seems even more personal than any other time I have read it. It's amazing. But one thing that I would like to share is something that President Avila shared with Elder Galicia and he shared it with me. It's the fact that, especially for the missionaries, but also for all the rest who read the Book of Mormon, it teaches many principles and doctrines, but it teaches PEOPLE, not LESSONS, as it says in Preach My Gospel. We are to use the Spirit to determine what we teach and teach according to their needs, we don't just teach and ignore the things they say. Their needs are what lead us to teach the part that is going to capture their attention and is going to be their anchor when they take the leaps of faith to complete with the commitments. And it all just clicked in my head: this book, the Book of Mormon, is just plain magic and marvelous! It's a book, but it teaches US, according to OUR needs, not just teaching the same thing every time we read it. Anyone who has read it more than once has realized that different things stick out, or things that stuck out and helped us the day before don't mean the same thing this time. And it's like that! This book, although only an inanimate book (although I would say plenty living and thriving with the Spirit) gives us the things that we need to hear or read or understand IN THE MOMENT. That is why we preach and testify that it is so powerful, because it doesn't just teach about Nephi and Lehi, and the wickedness of Laman and Lemuel, and then Jacob, and Enos, and Mosíah, and King Benjamin, and Abinadi, and Ammon, and so on and so forth. Rather, it teaches the importance of family to someone who has enough desire to read to the first page of first Nephi; it teaches the importance of not judging those who may have a problem with their lot in life that "God has given them for their misery"; it teaches the ten commandments in a different setting that some may find easier to relate to; it teaches the power of prayer to the one who is struggling with guilt, or remorse for mistakes in the past, and the importance of praying with faith (it's no coincidence that a situation shows up in this book, when it has happened like that through all time, whether with Moses, Enos, or Joseph Smith); it teaches the importance of humility and love and charity for everyone to someone who may be passing through a prideful moment, thinking that they have everything and are on top of the world, and have forgotten the One who has given them everything; or, for one who may be unfamiliar with the gathering of Israel, it gives an intriguing story of an olive garden, grafting in branches, burning dead branches, all in a setting that teaches yet entertains and intrigues the mind to amazement, all at the same time. Truly this book can onlycome from the God of all that is good and truth and light! Only something from God could possibly allow the Spirit to discern the needs of those who turn to its pages, and show exactly what they need to know IN THE MOMENT. What better help is there in this world? We could wait till the next day to ask a friend in a time of crisis, or to ask a teacher, or a parent. Or, even better, we could turn to these inspired pages, read about our question, and ask God, our Heavenly Father, right there, IN THE MOMENT. It amazes me that so many people, including myself, have ever let a single night go without consulting with God, without invoking His holy name in prayer to ask for understanding, strength to overcome a difficult situation, comfort in the midst of sadness or hardship, or just plain conversation with a Father who loves us more than anyone in this world, and would give us EVERYTHING if we just did what He asked. I am grateful for this new perspective I have developed of this great work of literature, this book of God, the Book of Mormon. If any of you haven't read it, I beg you to just give it a try, but to do it with an open heart and open mind, with the intention of praying afterwards, because if it is from God, there is not ONE SINGLE DOUBT in my mind or any of yours that He, the Supreme Being of this world, wouldn't tell you directly that it isn't from Him if that were the case. His spirit accompanies any and everything that comes from Him, so if you ask about this, the spirit is obligated to respond. Please just try it, I promise you it can change your life. And i give that promise with all my heart, because it has changed mine.
So, I am super excited for this week as well! We have one sure baptism, with two possibles alongside of that one! So we are going to be working just as hard to keep this going. Because seriously, when you are teaching, testifying, and working hard, not hing in the world can get you down. I have been so happy this week, and the things that don't matter haven't had part in my mind or schedule. I'm completely focused, and I wouldn't want it any other way. I'm "in the pursuit of happiness" as Kid Cudi says (yes I know, sorry, that's not mission appropriate, but it's playing in the cyber right now, and the lyrics fit perfectly with this last week). I seriously feel like everything is shining and nothing can get me down. I would recommend that kind of attitude for everyone ;) do what you can to achieve that, it's worth whatever sacrifice that may be required.
Alright, enough about me! So, thanks for the updates on the mission calls. That is so CRAZY!!!!! Three people going to Korea!!!! How on earth did that happen? (Rhetorical question, I don't doubt the apostles' divine inspiration or anything.) Christina, you are going to be a great missionary, although I'm not sure you will fit in with all the Koreans much, you are pretty tall! :) But oh well! Just enjoy your last four months (from my experience, since yes I went through that). Just enjoy everything, but prepare yourself the most you can with Preach My Gospel, especially lesson 3! The more you know before, the easier it will be to adjust to another language and teach simply. Good luck! And congrats! The same goes for Matt and Levan too of course. Matt, you will do good no matter what. You said you were a crappy teacher, but trust me, for the first semeseter when I could actually listen to you teach, you had a special spirit and very strong testimony and it's going to bless the lives of the Korean people. And Levan, just keep it up haha. Thanks for your emails, they are very entertaining and inspiring. I'm glad he has a postive attitude all the time. That is my goal!! And Alyssa Goodrich is coming to good ol amazing Argentina? Sweet, I would recommend Argentina for anyone :) I LOVE it down here. I really do.
Well, that is about all the great stuff that has happened this last week, and be ready for more next week! I love each of you, and hope this week and this second month of this year is AMAZING! Just remember, be a controller of circumstances, not controlled by them, whatever your varying circumstances may be for each of you! You will find a lot of help and strength from the Savior as you turn to Him for guidance. Thank you all for all you have given me, your thoughts, prayers, support, and letters every once in a while! Keep on keeping on. This gospel is the greatest blessing I have had in my life, and yet I feel that I didn't start taking advantage of all of the posibilities until 8 months ago. Younger Generation, or others who are my age or even older, DON'T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU. Take advantage of EVERYTHING, as soon as you can! Your life will be more full of laughs, love, smiles, memories, and joy, and you won't ever regret your decision, trust me. Until next week, hasta luego, que Dios les bendiga!
Elder Tyson Gibbons