Family! I LOVE YOU ALL SOOOO MUCH!
This week has been so full of miracles.
First of all, my new companion is Hermana Castellanos. She is from Honduras and is 20 years old. She has been in the mission for 3 months. She is absolutely wonderful. We have had such a wonderful week together full of miracles. The hermanas in our zone were so excited when we saw the changes for this transfer. Hermana Castellanos was companions with Hermana Patrone in Mercedes (in our zone) and Hermana Bangeter (my American friend) was in Lujan 1. We kind of just did a switcharoo and Hermana Bangeter is now with Hermana Patrone in Mercedes and Hermana Castellanos and I are together. I didn't know Hermana Castellanos very well but the first thing Hermana Bangeter told me was that she is "so loving". She was right! I have felt nothing but love from Hermana Castellanos from the first day. She immediately told me that she wants to be friends and wants us to feel open to talk about anything. I am so grateful for her desire to have a great relationship as companions, friends, and hermanas. We have already begun building unity through kindness, openness, Oreo night, goals, success etc. I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with her this transfer. I have felt this week, with her help, that I am becoming the missionary that I want to be. The part of me that felt successful back in the states was missing last transfer and at times I felt like I was going through the motions of missionary work but wasn't myself. Hermana Castellanos is helping me to rediscover the balance between accomplishing our indicators and caring for our investigators and doing what the Savior would do in every moment. It has been so great to have her help to work together in unity in our teaching, in planning, and in the responsibility of accomplishing everything. I have felt that we are a team in all aspects which is the way I want to be with all of my companions. I am so grateful for her love and friendship and support and I know we will continue to see miracles this transfer together.
Also, random side note. She and I spent a little time Wednesday cleaning the pench. Hallelujah! There was a bunch of stuff that I didn't know who it belonged to and so we threw away so much stuff. The pench is sooo much better now! Yay for having a clean companion!
My only concern with our companionship is obedience. I want to be completely obedient and this week I have seen little things, with us both being so new to the mission, that we could be disobedient without meaning to. I want to work really hard to make sure we follow every rule with exactness so that we can receive the help from Heavenly Father that we are going to need this week.
Our major miracle this week was with Diego. He had a baptismal date for the 24th of November but the morning of the baptism he told us he no longer wanted to be baptized (most likely because of the influence of his brothers and sisters).
We gave him a little space in the following week but on Tuesday of this week we stopped by and talked to him about testimony. I bore my testimony to him that even when we feel like we are being attacked by Satan and question some of our beliefs we can still rely on the knowledge we do have. I read a scripture in D&C about how we can rely on the knowledge we have already received and that we don't have to doubt. We told him that we know he has a testimony of the church and that all he needs to do is pray and ask Heavenly Father if baptism is right for him and that he can be baptized whenever he is ready.
That night Hermana Suarez called him to tell him she was leaving and he said he wanted to be baptized. He and his Dad had plans to leave for Paraguay on Saturday so we planned the baptism for Saturday before they left. It was such a miracle that he was ready and that we were able to have the spirit with us to know what to say to help him. We talked with him every day this week to help him prepare and he stayed strong.
His baptismal service was wonderful. Neither Hermana Castellanos nor I had really planned a baptism here in the Buenos Aries West mission but we worked hard to get everything ready. We have an amazing Branch President who was so wonderful to take care of everything as well as the Elders in our branch. We couldn't have done it without them. It was a little different than a baptismal service in the states but so beautiful. Sometimes the simplicity of things here in Argentina makes them even more special.
His father, Charlie, was able to baptize Diego and they ended up staying in Lujan for him to be confirmed in Sacrament meeting on Sunday by President Peralta. I am so excited for Diego and the opportunity he has to enjoy the blessings of the gospel. He is so special and I know he will find so much happiness!
Our other great miracle this week was a new family we found. I have been praying to find a family to teach and this week we were blessed to find an amazing family! We had contacted the mom on Sunday in her front yard and on Tuesday we went back to teach her. She wasn't home but her three children were. We taught them outside in the yard and it was amazing! Her children are beautiful. The oldest daughter, Camila, is 15 years old, but so mature. The two youngest are twins, Alma and Marcos, and will turn 8 years old on December 26th. We talked to them about faith and a little about the restoration and our purpose as missionaries to help people repent and prepare for baptism. As Camila said the closing prayer she asked for forgiveness for her sins and began to cry. She hugged us so tight as we left and thanked us so much for coming. It was absolutely wonderful.
We returned a few days later and again taught the children the restoration. As we walked to the door Alma and Marcos ran up to us to give us hugs. They had read the pamphlets we had left them and promised to begin reading the Book of Mormon and come to church. They are so sweet. Unfortunately, we still haven`t been able to contact Pamela, the mom, but we plan on working hard this week to find her and teach them all as a family.
Sunday was a little discouraging for us this week because we had many investigators who had promised to come to sacrament meeting and we were confident they would be there. As we called and tried to pick some of them up in the morning, however, no one answered. We ended up with no one in sacrament meeting, which was discouraging. I had felt more confident in our investigators this week than any other. This week I really want to focus on and learn how to make sure our investigators can come to church. Because they weren't there this week, meeting our goal of 4 baptisms this month is going to be really difficult. I have faith that Heavenly Father will help us to accomplish our goals, however, as we are obedient and diligent.
I am so excited for this transfer, for our wonderful investigators, for my developing relationship with Hermana Castellanos, for the progress I am already seeing with Spanish and will continue to develop as Hermana Castellanos and I work to teach one another the language (we're doing one day Spanish and one day English), and for the opportunity to continue to develop as a missionary.
A random note: you should like or join the page Distrito Lujan Argentina. It is the page for my stake (district) here.
That's about all for the week I think. It's been super great and I am grateful to finally be feeling more like myself with a wonderful companion. Thank you for all your prayers and love and support. I can't wait to talk to you all on Christmas!