Monday, November 25, 2013

Mendoza Photos

 Hey family!

Sorry I didn't write yesterday, it was another one of those "holidays" where everything shuts down but NO ONE knows what holiday it actually is haha. So we didn't end up doing much either, we tried to go to a few museums because supposedly they only are open on Mondays that are holidays, and that was a bust, so we ended up just walking through centro to get back on a bus and go back to the pench. We ran into a bunch of elders shopping, including Elder Day! I hadn't thought about it, but when I saw him, I remembered that yesterday was his last pday! It's so weird, my "dad" is dying this next week (that's the weird "mission-speak" for saying his trainer is headed home next week). I can't believe how fast things are going, I don't like it! So I got to talk to him a little bit, and then we left, and I probably won't see him again in the mission haha. That's so weird. But then we just went back and slept, because it was a really cold rainy day, just like Oregon. We LOVED IT! Today is pretty cold too, minus the rain sadly. Everyone is out and about in coats and pants, and I want to run around in shorts and a t-shirt. The people in Mendoza are funny :P 
So, M_____ and her daughter didn't end up getting baptized. We had another week where we couldn't meet with them! We went to their house on Thursday and M_____ was really sick. She had no voice, and her sister almost didn't let us talk to her, but M_____ insisted. She tried telling us what was going on and why we couldn't meet with her but promised she would try to come on Sunday, depending on if she felt alright. She didn't end up coming either, so we aren't sure how she is feeling. But we´re going to call tonight and find out. So that's still a work in progress! Someone is doing everything possible to keep them from being baptized....
But this week is week 6 of the transfer and we have big plans! We don't have any idea what's going to happen for transfers so we are just going to work like crazy! Plus I cannot get the thought out of my mind that I have only 6 months left. Last night we talked to a return missionary whose wife got baptized about 3 months ago, and he was talking all about the moment when he was interviewed by his stake president and released as a missionary... and it just hit me even harder, and I have been thinking about it every minute since then. So, I just want to work! In district meeting today I was trying so hard just to have a really spiritual meeting, and normally when a certain someone makes a comment trying to be funny, I let him do it so he doesn't get mad. But today I just ignored him and kept talking, because the spirit was really strong and I really didn't want to lose it. And I don't want to ever. So hopefully he can recognize a little change in attitude and maybe follow the example! I´ve been patient with everyone but he is getting closer to the edge than anyone else I´ve met. (And I´m not talking about my companion, don't worry!) I love this difficult elder, and I´ve tried to help him so much, and I won't stop. Sometimes I get frustrated when I can't help him as much as I wish I could! Ahhhh, the life of a district leader :/
Thanks for the pictures! It's almost good enough seeing the pictures of Africa, although I would still like to go sometime! I love traveling, seeing different cultures. We were in a part of our area on Saturday that I had never seen before, and it reminded me a lot of Ecuador, so that was a cool little moment.
It's really weird to think that Thanksgiving is in two days. I don't know what we´re going to be doing, but our lunch is definitely NOT going to be anything close to a regular Thanksgiving. So we´ll see how that all turns out! 
By the way, Happy Birthday Mom and Yeager! I know I´ve missed A LOT of birthdays, but I remember now! It's hard to forget you two with a holiday so close by! Hope it's a great birthday for the both of you!

Alright, I don't have much more to comment, we don't have much time. But very unfortunately there are a few questions I need because yesterday I received my..."trunky" papers, and to make it worse, they even called them that in the email! Those jerk elders in the offices :P  But I need some answers to some questions really quick...
1)What's the email address of President Chick?
2)The stake president is still President Chick, right? [I think those questions are out of order...haha]
3)If my parents are coming to pick me up [I know you´ve said probably not... but I just keep thinking about it a lot, and even if Dad could somehow come down and stay for two extra days, I would be really happy to see some people once more before I leave. If not, I understand. I just want to be sure I guess.]
Just some questions I need answered so I can send that to the secretary next Monday...
Well I attached some photos as well. Last Monday we walked around the big park and I took a few pictures of the lake and a cool looking museum and stuff like that. So that's what those are. I´m sorry for not having written yesterday! And for a short email today, but I just want to get to work. I love you all, hope you have a great week! I´ll talk to you next Monday.
Elder Tyson Gibbons 

Monday, November 18, 2013


 (Photos:  These first ones are at Cerro de la Gloria, the district with the hermanas at the top by the big monument, and then me and Elder Connolly with a view of Mendoza.  The last two pictures are from the top of a member's house, who live on the roof of this building, and we climbed up to the highest point and took pictures. Our eyes both look really blue in the picture, except I was sunburnt that day and I did NOT like being in the sun, so I happened to blink at the opportune moment.)

Hey Mom!  
Well this last week was just crazy, it was hard to get into houses, and then there were a few days with crazy wind, even zonda (was hoping to escape that leaving San Juan) and we are just worn out! But it's all for missionary work, so oh well!!
I sent pictures already today, I got my card fixed so that was a huge relief. Now I just have to print a bunch of pictures off to send back to Albardon!
So yesterday was a really good Sunday again!! It wasn't freezing, and there were a ton of people in church, it was awesome! But the best part is when we´re standing outside the Gospel Principles class waiting for an investigator to show up, and M_____ and her daughter walk into the church! We were super excited! They both loved the class and Sacrament Meeting, and they were welcomed by first the stake president, then the stake secretary, and then even Carla and Leticia, President Ávila´s daughters came and sat by them the whole time! It was just perfect. We´re trying to get their baptism set for this weekend, since last week we couldn't meet with them at all! But that shows commitment, not a single visit during the week and they show up to church even earlier than last time! They are so great!! And they are already really good people so it's not a huge change for them!
The hermanas in Uspallata had their baptism this past weekend!!! We were super excited for them! Bad news, we didn't get to go up and do the interview, and even worse news, we never will, because President did give the branch president permission to do the interviews. So much for going up there :/ We´re still trying to come up with some idea to go up, such as an activity in Uspallata, and we already have permission to go up with the other hermanas in our ward (not the favorita....but oh well). The hermanas told me last night that the choir there in Uspallata wants to go and sing in the plaza and hand out little pass along cards between songs, and so they wanted us to go up there for that, which sounds good to me! I love Christmas songs. It won't quite be like jazz choir, but it will be cool to go up there anyway!!
Wow I can't believe you´ve already sent the Christmas packages, it seems like it's NOT time for that yet... why is this year passing so quickly?? But I'll be looking for the packages. If they are just the envelope ones, they should be here in a couple weeks. I got a package from Kenzie last week!! That was super cool! Thanks favorite cousin :)  A bunch of blue raspberry Tootsie Rolls and a card. I´m rationing them out, so I don't eat them all in one sitting! They´ve almost lasted me a week now, with quite a few left! :)
I will be looking at prices and stuff for shoes. Of course Adidas and Nike are just super expensive, but I'll try and find a not so expensive pair, and of course I'll fill you in on any details. Thank you very very very much for the Christmas money, by the way. I'll use it wisely. I might save a bit for souveniers for a time that is still far in the future... (Tyson's mission president asked them not to buy lots of souvenirs until they're about to go home.)
I hadn't heard anything about the Philippines, that is so crazy. I am glad that all the elders and hermanas are alright! I hope the members and people can put things back in order soon... A recently returned missionary (home 2 months) gave the class in Priesthood yesterday, and it was about service, and the spirit was super strong, I loved it. He shared an experience about a family he was trying to teach in Buenos Aires, and they were somewhat interested, and then there was a flood, and their pench was filled to about torso height. And the family they were teaching was outside trying to save all their stuff because it was just an adobe house, made of dirt, and the elders passed by on the way to lunch. He said they didn't even think twice, they just walked over, got the normal "Elders you´re going to get dirty!" response, and just told them we don't care about our clothes, what needs to be done still? And so for the next hour they swam in and out of the house, taking out the stove, the fridge, and they brought their son out who had been stranded inside as well. And they didn't stay and hang out after. They finished, and kept going on their way. But he said when they came out of the house, there was almost the whole neighborhood just watching them. I can't even imagine that, it's like a dream service that I would love to do. But I would never wish upon anyone a flood or anything. But he said that the next week, they started teaching 21 of the other families in that neighborhood, just because they had seen them help that one family. Service is just so simple but it can work miracles! I wish so much that it was easier to find service to do here, but everyone just says no... we will keep on trying! If I was an elder there in the Philippines, I feel like I would be super sad to leave the area without being able to help all those people. When there was an earthquake in San Juan, the taxi driver Ariel that we always called in Albardon saw the elders in their white shirts and ties helping people with their houses, their belongings, their families and kids, and that's what opened him up to our religion a lot. And he said he saw the change in a lot of people in the area as well. Service is so awesome!!
Speaking of service, we did service for a member on Saturday, scraping off old paint in his bathroom, but we had a blast, I´ve never had so much fun doing that haha. But he came in about halfway through and told us a quote that his brother or companion had told him. Dad if you could translate, that would be great ;) "Servicio is como hacer piss (that's not a bad word down here, sorry for any expletives) en los pantalones, todo el mundo lo puede ver, pero solo usted lo puede sentir." Hahaha I cracked up when he said that. Then I had to explain it to Elder Connolly. Fun times :) I have pictures, but on my sd card, and I forgot to bring that right now. All my other pictures that were saved from being erased got taken off my sd card and put onto my thumbdrives, and that's what I have with me.  So next time I'll send some more!
I can't believe that you´re going on your trip so soon! That sounds so crazy. Make sure to get some good pictures! 
Whoa, Ben and Emily are dating?? Well that's just awesome. Haha I feel so weird being out of the loop with all of that stuff. I wish them the best though! Hopefully Ben will shave his beard a little :) That thing was crazy! At least 8 months ago when they were in the birthday video haha. Love you Ben!
Anyway, today we´re going to eat some empanadas and go to Soppelsa, a really good ice cream place to celebrate (don't want to say it....) a year and a half last Saturday! It's so crazy. I try to forget it, but these 6 months are going to be great, because I'm not going to waste a day. I know so much already and I can speak, so I´m going to use it all to my advantage!! It's all just coming too fast.
Anyway, we need to get going, the cyber is going to close. But I hope you all have a super exciting week, especially my family in Morocco! Can't wait to hear how things are going next week! I love you all and am very grateful for your support and letters and everything else! I really wouldn't be able to do this without any support! 
Elder Tyson Gibbons 

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Best Two Years

Hey family!!! (Sorry, if there´s a word you don't understand, the missing letter is an f because I have to slam the key down to make it work.)

So it has been a good week, lots of divisions with other elders, but lots of miracles as well! Even though I HATE being away from my own bed and pench, we got a lot of good work done! I got to know la Favorita as well as the Cementista/Bolougne Sur Mer branches (the Favorita I went with Elder Degracia, and to the others I was with Elder Wahl, he has the same time as Elder Thurgood and those Elders, and Elder Egbert from my group was with Elder Connolly and got to meet some of our investigators.)
You asked some questions--as for downloading those songs, I did download them but then the DVD player can't read the file so I can't listen to them anyway. But one of the other elders has the CD, so it's alright! 
So yesterday and Saturday it was really cold! It was even raining, and I heard from Elder Southwick that it actually rained in Albardon! It's a miracle! Haha but despite of the cold, M_____ (our investigator here) and her daughter both came to church!!!! We were so happy!!!!! So M_____ should be getting baptized this weekend, but she might wait until next weekend to do it together with her daughter! But they both loved it! And I figured if they got there on a day when everyone else, members or no, took the weather as an excuse, they must be pretty serious. On top of that, we all fasted or her, and she fasted until 9 o clock Saturday since she has to take medication! But it was all just a very firm confirmation that she really does want all of this in her life. So, this week we will be talking to them again and we´re going to plan out how they want the baptism to be! We both think, Elder Connolly and I, that it would be awesome to have them do it together. But we will see! 
We invited R_____ to come, the one who wants to get baptized in December, but he had prior commitments I guess, and next week he´s going to Chile to vote and to see his mom, but then he should be coming after that! So he didn't come. Neither did the friend of the ward mission leader, and neither did the new American girl we met last Friday! We blame all those on the rain, since people just aren't used to it here. It was really, really cold. 
So on Friday we were going to have a recorrido with another invesitgator, who told us an hour late that she was just finishing work and would be on her way in 10 minutes, and then another hour later we call and her phone is off :/ So we decided to go and talk to people on the street, and this girl H_____ walked by and we started talking in Spanish, and then we asked if she spoke English, and so we talked in English, and we invited her to do a recorrido. She couldn't right then, but she asked us what time the meetings were, because she´s going to be here for a month and wanted to attend a church, and she walks by the chapel every day! We were so excited for her to come, but oh well! We didn't get an address or a number either, I think we were blown away to see an iphone down here. But after she told us she would come, Santiago, President's son (who was there for Mutual), came up and started asking us about her, asked if she was going to do a recorrido, if she seemed interested. And we told him that she was coming to church, and he got SUPER excited, like he had just seen missionary work happen in front of his eyes for the first time. It made us feel pretty awesome. :) And he remembered her name and everything, and all Sunday was waiting for her to show up just like us, and after church he was disappointed as well. It was like having a third companion!
That's awesome that Ellie is going to Alabama!! I do remember her, she´ll be an awesome missionary. And it's just awesome how many missionaries our stake has!
I can't believe your trip has already arrived... you told me about it just a couple months ago it seems! Well I hope you enjoy that. That sounds way crazy fun!! I wish I could go.
Wow, Kate is like the favorite cousin right now, eh? That's way cool, maybe that will teach a little calmness to the crazy cousins haha :) I´m super glad to hear that they love it though! She will be a good mom someday, I agree.
As for the other English speakers, one doesn't live in our area, and we found where the first one lives, and we gave them our number, but we´re going to pass by today to see if we can get a better appointment.
So last week was stake conference, and they released our ward mission leader, so now we do not have one! Which doesn't improve things much. His goal for baptisms was 1 a year for every member of the ward. That's ideally what it should be, but we still have a lot of things to do before we make it to that! But he is now in the High Council, so that's why they released him.
We elders in the pench get along just fine, I just have to fight for the phone every night. Since it was the phone for the area of the other elders, one of them gets too playful and won't let me use it, even though in zone meeting they straight out said that the district leader has priority due to all the calls and verifying we have to do! So yeah, that's about the only problem though.
Last pday turned out really good! We did everything we planned. I have a bunch of awesome pictures.... but I guess I have a virus on my card and the pictures are there, the space is occupied, but the computer can't open the files.... :( so I hope I don't lose those pictures. I´m going to take it to a photo shop because a guy told me that they can recuperate things like that. So we´ll do that later today. It turned out way good though! The hermanas enjoyed it all as well. Hermana Norr, the new hermana that is in Uspallata (in the mountains) is from Washington, the same stake as Kelly´s roommate Kelsey! So that was way weird, and then she said that before coming she had hung out with Kelsey a few times, so she might know who Kelly is, but it all depends on the timing... that would be super weird/crazy. I guess I should ask Kelly if she ever met her!
But anyway, the hermanas in Uspallata have two baptisms, one this weekend and the next as well!!! We´re super excited or them! And we´re still trying to figure out if I´m supposed to do the interview. We both hope I do (Elder Connolly and me, of course) because we both want to go to Uspallata and take pictures, and be in the actual mountains! Not many elders get to go up there, what luck no? We also heard from a member that some movie was filmed over there in Uspallata, called "years in Tibut" or something like that. They think that Brad Pitt was in it. But yeah, I'll have to look up that movie in about a year!....haha.
I am not getting mail that much more frequently, but I'm going to the offices today to get a baptismal tunic for the hermanas in Uspallata, so I'll get more mail!
Well I'm not sure what else to mention, it was a good week and this week will be just as good, if not better! Today Elder Connolly and I just want to rest, we are both exhausted. I don't have time to do anything at night since I fight for the phone until 10 o clock, and then between then and 10:30 I´m making all the calls, but oh well. That's just part of the calling! And I'll do my best to fulfill it.
Oh one more thing, I heard from Elder Southwick today. Basically, story made short, Albardon is doing SOOOO well!!! They have a baptism this Saturday, and then the other 4 people in that kid's family will follow in the future (it's the kid we did a recorrido with the last Monday I was there!!!) And then three other people I taught have baptismal dates too, and one of them has quit smoking and drinking, and I'm pretty sure if he´s getting baptized he´s going to have to get married. So that is sooooo cool!!! And one of the Sundays in the past month they had 96 people there! So many people! Unfortunately the next Sunday there were only 24 (no idea what happened there....) but oh well, I was just super content to know that things were going so well there. It basically took a huge weight off my chest that I´ve had these past weeks. And Enzo, the kid being baptized this Saturday, of course asked Elder Southwick to baptize him! So that's really good news too!
Now I just have to hear from Elder Fullmer somehow. I´m with his MTC district leader right now, and they got along really well, so that should be fun on Christmas, if we are all together!
So yeah, that was our week, and all the news I can think of. Mom, just let me know about the shoes, next week I guess! I love you all, and hope that this week is as good for you as it will be for us! I´ll have pictures of a baptism hopeully this weekend, and if not, the next for sure! This work is so amazing. I´m so happy, and I'm even happier seeing other people drop off weights from their mind and heart and become happier too! There is literally nothing better I could think of doing. Elder Connolly and I both were talking to each other yesterday, and it was crazy that we had the exact same thought: that the mission is just the best possible thing any young man could do, because it changes us, opens our eyes, makes us see differently, gives us a new sense of identity, and shows us what real happiness is. It's pretty awesome, how similar Elder Connolly and I think. We have good unity in the companionship, that's for sure! But seriously, I wish everyone could or would experience a mission. I´m slowly getting closer and closer to understanding more of why they call it the Best Two Years. They really are, I just feel so different, without weights that I had before. There´s nothing better! Trust me.
Elder Tyson Gibbons
¡¡¡Viva Argentina!!! :)

Monday, November 4, 2013

No Shave November?

Hello! Well I suppose President Ávila probably has never even heard of no shave November, so I don't think it will be a big problem down here haha. I´m not sure I´ll ever do that again in my life if I´m honest. It bugs me now, I guess that's a mission thing. Speaking of moustaches and all, Oscar is rockin that up in the picture you sent! Hahaha he looks like a man already. I´m glad he´s still around!  But holy cow, Nathan looks like a giant toothpick. He needs a haircut.

I guess I got here just in time to see the familia Avila at church, because the first Sunday the whole family was there, but then this week was stake conference (first and probably last time I attend three stake conferences in three different areas in one year) and only the three kids were there. Santiago still cracks me up, he´s a little mini-me minion version of President Ávila. But then Carla, his older daughter, always leads the music and is in charge of the youth choir that sang yesterday. And then the second oldest just hangs out with her friends all the time. But she likes talking to the elders, while Carla seems to avoid them. It's all for the best, because either the elders are scared that they´ll do something wrong and Carla will report it to her dad, or her parents told her to avoid us since she is 19 and we have just a bunch of elders, ranging from ages 18-22. Probably for the best! But I´m excited to meet the family a little more. We´ll be eating lunch with them sometime, I just don't know when yet. But I don't know where President would´ve been on Sunday; he has never come to any other church meeting except stake conferences in other areas I've been in, like in San Juan and San Luis.

This area is doing well with missionary work. We have some very, very good investigators. They didn't come to church yesterday though :/  But one of them is a mom who attended general conference and loved it, and just hasn't come back to church yet, and then we´re teaching an older gentleman from Chile. Long story short, he got sent out of his country and has lived here for about 40 years, and hopes to return someday. But he just recently told us he wants to get baptized, but in December after his 70th birthday... so yeah. And then we are working with various less active families to help them come back and help the kids get baptized. So we really do have some awesome people we are teaching! They just need to come to church (as always...)

But, awesome thing about being in Mendoza Centro is that we sometimes meet foreigners. We were walking and some girl said hello to us, but in a regular American accent, so we stopped. I'm sure we just had blank stares on our faces, and she asked if we spoke English, and we said YES!!! So we talked to her a little bit and found out she´s from San Diego, doing a study abroad for UNSC (I am pretty sure that is what she said). We asked to go to her house sometime, and she said she will be here until December, and we just need to find where she lives now. We went last night but she wasn't there. Then last night after looking for her house, we walked by this teenager, probably 17 or 18 years old, and we all said hola. Then we walked away and he said "How´s it going, my buddies???" but in an Australian accent! Turns out he lived in Australia for 8 years and then came back here to be with more of his family. His stepdad is Australian and speaks English, and his mom doesn't anymore, she´s Argentine. And his sister I think speaks as well. But he walked with us all the way back to the pench, and we got his directions and we´ll be going by there as well! I´m so stoked to speak English! And teach in English! It's gonna be cool. That doesn't happen anywhere else on the mission I bet.

So the ward is not very involved in the work, go figure, but we realized after listening to a bunch of testimonies from the youth that we are going to focus on them and get references from them and teach their friends, because at this point only the youth have that fire burning inside. All the older members are dead concerning missionary work :/  We´ll be doing our best to get that fire going again! As for our ward mission leader, he´s just crazy. He has the most random, weird ideas, like having all the missionaries march into the chapel singing hymns at the top of our lungs after his talk in the priesthood session of stake conference on Saturday. (Didn't end up happening, and good thing too, since and Elder Connolly and I were the only ones there! And there was a grand attendance of maybe 25 men. Really, really sad.)

I can't believe how big Hayden is now, he looks just giant compared to last time I saw him! Well, same with the others too.  Those are some great Halloween pictures, by the way. I can't believe Jenn painted herself green!!! That's way crazy. But I like the Minion idea, and Batman haha. And then that's a pretty cool knight costume that Hayden has on! And Jacob looks like a mini James Bond haha!
Anyway, for today we have a district activity planned. We're getting together with the four hermanas and a few members from the other elders' ward. We´re going to go to the giant park, have an asado, then hike Cerro de la Gloria and take some pictures. It´s going to be fun. Since the hermanas in Uspallata (that's an area, but it's basically two hours from Mendoza, on the way to Chile, in the mountains) are coming down today to be with us and for the zone meeting tomorrow, we figured we should take advantage and do something all together. So I´ll send those pictures when I can. Playing soccer went well last week! We formed a team and we won four times in a row, but it was just four really fast games to 2 goals, and it lasted a grand total of 15 minutes. And when we lost the fifth one, I went inside to drink water and I felt like I was going to die. I´ve never felt so out of shape in my life, its awful! :/  We´ll probably keep playing so that at the Christmas party I can give a good performance, otherwise I'll peak at the beginning and be dead for the rest of the day haha. But I had fun anyway.

I also had an interesting experience giving a blessing this week to a 7 year old, here´s the story. We showed up at the chapel at 1 for interviews, since my appointment was at 1:15, and there were still 8 elders waiting for their interviews, so we basically spent the whole day in the chapel. But the hermanas from our ward called us and asked us if we could come and give a blessing to the son of a friend of a less active member. So we thought it was all normal and everything, but then when we got there and I asked what the problem was, she basically told me that she thinks her son gets possessed.... so I had no idea what to do. I just gave a blessing, but with all the things she had told me ringing in my ears, and the kid randomly burst out laughing during the blessing, and slowly moved his head down and down and down. I basically felt really really awkward. When I finished his head was almost to his knees and I had to just bend over and over to keep my hands on his head. It was quite... uncomfortable. Hopefully it doesn't happen again anytime soon. 

Well we have to go soon, to make sure we can buy everything and get things set up before lunchtime.  But I have had quite a few experiences this last week that have just reminded me again and again why I´m here on a mission, and how precious the time really is. And then in conference the spirit was very strong as well. So don't worry about me too much, I know why I´m here! And I know what I need to do to help others, and I have no questions or doubts as to whether I'll do it or not. As much as I don't like it, I realize I only have 6 months left, and I'm going to make it the best six months yet! Teach, testify to, strengthen and love the people I meet, that's the routine I´ll be following! There´s no better cycle to follow if someone wants to be truly happy! I love you Dad, Mom, Nathan and Kate! I´ll make sure to send pictures next week! Have a good week, November is already here!!

Elder Tyson Gibbons