I can’t believe that it is my third week already, … the days really do feel like weeks, and the weeks do feel like days.
On Saturday last week I went into the city of Buenos Aires to proselyte for roughly 4 hours. It was really, really hard. It was so different from the usual practice sessions here at the CCM. The people didn’t like to talk to us, and it hurt. My companion and I walked up to people and would say, "tiene tiempo por un mensaje de feliz?" and they would just say no they didn’t have time, and walk away. Most of the time was filled with rejection which was hard, especially since we went out during siesta time and most everyone was inside. There were two different experiences I would like to share though.
The first was about a man that we met at a bus stop. I can’t remember his name right now, but I looked at Elder Schaefermeyer and said, "let’s talk to this guy." We walked up and asked if he had any time (which was kind of a trick question because he was just standing at a bus stop so of course he had time). We introduced ourselves as missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and then began to ask him about his beliefs. It turned out he was an atheist and didn’t even believe in God! The instant that we found out about this we started to get worried, but we pressed forward nonetheless. We asked him if he had a family, to which he responded yes. We then asked if he loved his family enough to want to spend eternity with them. He said that would be great, but he didn’t believe in a life after death. As we looked at this man and were talking with him, we could see sadness in his eyes. He looked like he had nothing to live for, and he was tired. We ended up just giving him a folleta (pamphlet) on the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and then went on our way. I hope he pursues the things said in that simple little folleta.
Our next experience was with an older man who was riding his bike. We waved at him and asked if he had any time to talk, to which I think he responded yes because he hit his brakes and pulled up next to us. As I was trying to communicate in broken Spanish with this man I could sense he had happiness about him, and I couldn’t tell what made him different from the atheist we had just met. As we continued talking, we discovered turn the man was a member! He was baptized three years ago and went through the temple just last year! As soon as he said that, it all made sense! The aura about him was the light of Christ… I never realized how different members look, but they really do!
After walking around for a bit, … we saw four Latinos playing futbol in a park. We walked over and asked if we could join for a bit. It was so much fun just being with the people of Argentina in their environment. I wasn’t very good, but it was still a blast nonetheless. After we played with them for about 15 minutes, we called a time out and asked if we could give the adult a folleta before we left. He said no, but that he was glad the Mormons would take time with the people, because we are all brothers and sisters in God. He was a good man and it was another very cool experience.
I had another really powerful testimony builder last week. I was having a pretty rough day with Spanish and during one of the practice lessons in the morning I couldn’t even put together a coherent sentence. It was very frustrating. That afternoon I was practicing with some of the Hermanas and after my companion gave the lesson, I started to testify of the truthfulness of his words. I can’t fully explain what happened next. The Spanish that had been such a struggle just a few hours before flooded out of my mouth. Without spending more than a second thinking about what to say, my thoughts were coming out in this foreign language as quickly and fluidly as if I had been in the field for months. I was able to bear my testimony and close in the name of Jesus Christ. It took a few seconds for all of us to realize what had just happened. The spirit in the room was so powerful… I know that the gift of tongues is real, that missionaries are blessed with it everyday, and that I have experienced it. I know that this is the Lord’s work and I know without a shadow of a doubt that I am doing his will.
And from conference, he had this to say...
I LOVED conference this year!! All the talks were amazing and I felt the spirit super strong several times throughout the conference. One of my favorite parts was when they announced the number of missionaries serving worldwide. It felt amazing to realize that I am one of those missionaries! I am one of the 88,000 tserving the Lord. Becasuse of the time difference, we watched the first two sessions on Saturday at 1pm and then 5pm. We went to bed at 10:30 as usual, but it was hard to fall asleep because of this crazy storm that was brewing in the distance! We saw more lightning than I have ever seen in one storm before. The entire sky was lit up! One of the lightening strikes was fairly close, and when we heard the thunder it was breathe taking. It literally sounded like heavy artillery going off outside of the building. It was so loud that several cars across the street from the CCM started having their alarms go off!
Sunday morning we woke up and got ready, but instead of going and eating breakfast like usual we went to watch priesthood session. We fasted all Sunday, which made the whole conference experience even more spiritual. Unfortunately, because of the storm the previous night the recording of the priesthood session got pretty messed up. It was not only really staticy, but it also got messed up so that the English and Spanish recordings overlapped. It would start out fine, but whenever someone started to talk, the recording played in both Spanish and English and it was really disorienting. After a half hour, we just gave up and thought we were going to have to watch it that night on a computer. But instead we were able to download it from online and then watch it in the district rooms with our entire district. My favorite talks were by Tad R. Collister, Lynn G. Robbins, and Jorg Klebingat. I also loved, “Lord, is it I?” by Uchtdorf! So many good talks, I loved it! My favorite story was the one President Monson told about the Bismark, and my favorite quote from that story was “with the rudder of faith we will find our way safely back home”