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