Sorry I didn't end up sending an email last week, we played soccer but started late so I could have written, but it was really fun and I haven't played for so long, so it was good to excercise. It's amazing how much you can forget when you don't practice though. I'm sorry you were depressed Mom! I was thinking about you all week, knowing you would be sad, but since our time on pday ended and we aren´t really supposed to go to cyber other days, I just waited until today! I have a lot to talk about, so many questions and news, but I'll try my best.
First off, our zone conference! It was so good! Just like Dad said about Jalen, I can just feel all the time President Ávila spends seeking revelation, studying, praying, and talking with his wife. But everytime I am around him, the feeling I get most is just from the aura he has around him. His spirit just reaches out to every missionary, and his love too. He doesn't ever scold or drop cain, as everyone says here, unless it's absolutely necessary. He just has a calmness about him, and it makes even the disobedient missionaries feel comfortable. That's definitely thanks to the spirit! As men we have tendencies to get mad or upset or frustrated. He has developed the attribute of patience and charity to the maximum! I just feel at peace with myself and the world when we are around him. We focused on the Book of Mormon and there was one thing he said that was like a slap in the face. It was so obvious, but still we need to hear it to apply it. Joseph Smith once said, "If we take away the Book of Mormon from our religion, what are we left with? WE HAVE NOTHING." That's the clave (sorry, can't think of the word in English) of our religion, everything is based on it, if it's true or not. It's just amazing how hard it is to get people to understand that if it's true, there are things to change in their life, and if it's not, well they still have to find out for themselves, by reading pondering and praying. It's a simple cycle, but people don't want to even try, even if it means their life could be changed for the better. But President changed the quote a little and said, "If we take away the Book of Mormon from any lesson we teach or visit we make, what are we left with? WE DID NOTHING." Really their progress depends on their reading and finding out if it is true or not. It's that simple. So I thought about all the lessons I've gone to where I didn't feel the need to bring up the Book of Mormon because they believe so much in the Bible, or visits when we use the pamphlets, nothing more, so that was a good wake up call for me. Now I'm making sure we have a scripture in the Book of Mormon every visit we make, because that's how they are going to progress! And how we are going to progress in this life, studying and praying about all the wonderful things found inside. Like it says in the introduction, it contains the fulness of the gospel of Christ.
Anyway, those were really good talks, and for a practice we left and opened the mouth with people in the street, with different companions, and I went with Elder Tilleman, the assistant, again. It was awesome. We found two huge families and taught about the family, and it was just cool to learn new ways to talk to people, to get their interest. So that was cool. But no I didn't see anyone I know besides the people in my zone and the elders in the offices. I haven't seen anyone from my group since Christmas. Oh well, one day! But, yes I finally got the packages!! Thank you so much Mom and Dad, and also Jill and Jason and kids! I loved the valentines and candy and letters, and I loved the tie! It's a new favorite :)
Oh man, the whole business with the Pope was crazy! Everyone wanted to talk to us about it, but we would just say oh congratulations, he is Argentine! I was impressed with his humility in his first address to the people, everyone told us about that. I have respect for him. I just don't know anything else about how they do everything or why, but to him as a person I respect him! ç
Thanks for all the pictures! Everyone looks like they´re surviving very well, although Dylan looks like he´s freezing in the snow and all that. But that food still looks pretty good, I won't lie! As for the news about emailing friends I heard it too, but it's not an official rule yet, not for the rest of this transfer anyway. But yeah, that will be exciting!
So Jalen is training and district leader? That's just crazy. I know he can handle all the responsibility. He´s doing awesome work over there. I'm pretty sure my companion who comes to replace Elder Galicia (if it happens that he is leaving... one more week and we´ll know) will be district leader and I'll have to travel a bunch still on Sundays and everything. But oh well! It's all good with me. I feel comfortable with the work and the area, so I just want to keep working.
What?? Tyler is going to New Mexico!!?!?!?! That's so sweet! I loved it a lot, and tell him that if he ever is in the Bear Canyon, East Ridge or La Cueva wards he should say hi, not that anyone remembers me. Haha but he will love that. And wow there are a ton of missionaries going to Korea!! They´re going to tear it up over there! I just respect them for learning such a crazy language. I like regular letters a lot. And Peru!!! Sorry but I'm more excited about that, someone is coming on down to South America to join me! I won't feel so far away from everyone now. And make sure to let me know where Sydney is going! I don't even know what to guess. Korea too?? Haha.
Anyway, we did intercambios with the zone leaders this last Wednesday, and I was with Elder Schirner from Utah. So there was a gringo storm in Rodeo del Medio! We worked good, it was really cold and the weather came out of nowhere, but we survived. I think we just got each other sick, but thankfully it's already almost over with! I just couldn't sing yesterday in choir, which made everyone mad since I know the part and they follow me. But my throat has been killing me, I was lucky to be able to play soccer today too (I'll mention that later). But it was good to talk to Elder Schirner, talk a little bit of English and learn from him and his experiences. Then Thursday we switched back and had a good day working. It was a good day. But Friday we went to Unimev in the morning to help commit an investigator of the hermanas to baptism, and that worked out mas o menos well, but at lunch is when things went downhill, at least for me. The hermana that makes us lunch on Friday is menos activa, she doesn't come very often, and he never comes, but they know a lot and are faithful, to the point of coming to church anyway. But she told us that there was an accident and someone had died in our ward. She told us she thought it was a young woman who is recently married and 4 months pregnant, but they weren´t sure who it was, so I was just thinking and thinking and worrying and depressed all day. But then we talked to the zone leaders and they had heard about it because the stake president came to Rodeo del Medio to visit the family, and they told us what really happened. It wasn't the pregnant sister, but it was Agostina, the 10 yr old girl that sits in front of us every Sunday, and I've talked to her and her little baby sister every Sunday, and it just hit me so hard. I don't even know her really, or the family, but I just felt devastated. I realized though that this ward really does feel like family, as it should with any ward. It was a partial answer to all the prayers I've asked for charity, for love for the people. 5 days ago she had been all happy and talking with us and Juan Pablo and her little sister, and then they told me she had passed away. She was crossing an old highway and a car decided to pass the other, even though it was a curve, and... well it killed her instantly. I felt like it was my own sister that passed away... I was just out of it and depressed for days. It's still lingering. I can't imagine being the mom, who went walking after her and found her, already dead, on the side of the road... I wanted to talk to them, visit them, but Elder Galicia had other plans. Not that he did anything wrong, in fact it's good that someone was still focused on the work as well, our first priority, but I was just thinking about it all day long, and all night. That was the rough week we had basically. Obviously they didn't come to church yesterday, and I just don't know what to say or do. But because Elder Resek (one of the General Authorities down here) heard about it, he came to the ward as a surprise and gave such a short, inspiring message about how we need to as a ward be there to comfort them and help them to move on, because if they hold on to her death forever then they won't keep moving on or progressing. It's like that with everything though right? Any bad thing that happens in life will hold us back from moving on if we can't forget it and let it go. I think that was just a sealing testimony about what I talked about two weeks ago. But what hit me the strongest was his simple but firm testimony, that we should remember, that she is now in a better place than all of us are. It was simple, but so strong. We´re still in this imperfect world, and although we mourn the loss, there are others rejoicing that she has come home on the other side. The whole meeting after, I was just repeating the words of the poem that Janet read at Great-Grandma´s funeral. It was very comforting, I wish I could translate it and share it wtih them. I think I'll try to do that.
Anyway, then Sunday came and me and Elder Schirner couldn't sing, so we went out and had a good talk with the dad of a family they've been teaching that they´ve never found, and it was such a good talk! I realize now how important it is to talk to people, and not focus on lessons. Hopefully there is a good future with that family, since the kids and the mom already have a testimony of the Church and the gospel, now it's just the dad that doesn't have it! So yeah, that was a good experience. Then today we played soccer again on a turf field, so that was better than concrete, but I didn't have as much fun as last time. The zone leaders invited members, and it was bascially 3 on 3 instead of 7 on 7. Me and the other elders on the team, and on the other team, didn't do anything, it was all the natives playing basically. So I got bored pretty quick. But whatever, it was still good to excercise! And it wasn't super hot so I didn't get burned. That's a blessing. My poor white skin... I wish it would tan easier than burn.
Well this is the last week of the transfer, and hopefully we can get things picking up! The whole zone has had a few rough weeks, and not just our zone we found out today. As a mission hopefully we can get out of the slump and start moving forward! I'm glad the weather has lightened up though, although I'm sick because it went from super hot to super cold in a matter of two days. But oh well, what can you do?
As you mention my birthday, you said you had warm clothes like sweaters or something to send me? I wouldn't mind if you sent them sooner, I can have my birthday early. I was wishing for a sweater these last few days. It's warming up a little but it's not going to get super hot, then it's going to drop to winter. So that would be nice if you can get them to me at least by the end of this month! I will still consider it my birthday. And as for the rings, I really like the one that's mostly black with the HLJ and it says one moment in time inside. But there´s just one thing... we aren't allowed to wear rings here. You can still buy me one, I would like to have one! But there´s no need to send me it, since it will just sit in my suitcase. Just a rule of the mission! I was pretty bummed, but oh well. I'll be obedient!
I'm glad to hear everything is going well with tennis, soccer, driver´s ed, whatever else is going on!There´s really not much to mention here, I was glad to get the packages and letters! I'm glad all is going well back home, even if there are difficulties! It's still a good life, just focus on the good things! :) Life is happier that way. I love you all! I will let you know about transfers next week. I can't believe it's already ending again. What's up with that? Until next week, cuídense!