Thursday, December 29, 2016

Week 30: Feliz Navidad!

On Friday we had the baptism of Marcelo, a 15 year old whose parents are less active. They came to church earlier in December because it was Christmas time and he loved it and asked us to come to his house to teach him more so he could get baptized! We were more than happy to do that! We are used to a little more rejection as missionaries but this area is giving us lots of opportunities to teach! This week a lady knocked on our door and asked us for a Libro de Mormon and we made an appointment to teach her later that day. We were amazed that the people are coming to us!

Saturday we traveled to Luis Guillon and as we were leaving the pench, we saw that our next door neighbor had put out a washing machine that had a sign that said it still worked but that they were giving it away for free! So we carried it to our pench. Now hopefully we don't have to wash our clothes by hand! We haven't used it yet, but we are excited to try!

Saturday afternoon was my chance to Skype with my family and it went so well! A little short for my liking, but so good to see how the kids are growing and to be able to talk to everyone! My mind struggled a little at times to remember English but it wasn't so bad, right? :) I thought I would miss home more afterwards, but I was just happy!

Saturday night a member brought us dinner to the pench. We all ate, talked, and then watched fireworks. We slept the night in their pench. 

On Christmas day it rained all day and was actually pretty chilly. All day it didn't really feel like Christmas- I think because my surroundings are so different here. And there weren't really any big celebrations or emphasis on Christmas so it was a little strange. There were no buses so we couldn't travel back to Cañuelas so I never could give my talk like I had been assigned. The Elders of Cañuelas told us later that only 11 people showed up to church in Cañuelas because all the streets were flooded. 

The picture is right before we all walked to the chapel in Luis Guillon. The church was just sacrament meeting and it was fun to go to another ward. Afterwards the other three hermanas did Skype with their families and we played Bingo and Uno with the family who lent us their computer. It was really fun! 

I don`t remember what happened in the beginning of this week sorry! 

But tomorrow I will be receiving Hermana Diaz from Brazil as a new companion! Its been a good 3 months with Hermana Molinero and a new stage of our missions are about to start. And a new year 2017! A new start, goal making, and more enthusiasm than ever! I am so excited to keep working in the mission! 

I love you guys! Happy New Year 2017! Have fun Dean and Coleman in Disney World! You guys are going to love it- an experience of a lifetime! 

Mom- it sounds like it was better that we did Skype on Saturday because Christmas was busy for you guys! The other girls in the house where they did Skype had a computer but they didn't have privacy and the camera and connection wasn't very good. So I am grateful for the situation of Skype that we had!

I don't need other sunglasses, but you can send them just in case if you want in case mine get scratched or lost. Umm I dont know what else I want that doesnt weigh a lot or is very big.-Updated printed pictures of the family and pictures of my friends would be nice!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Week 29: Birthday Week, Baptism, Excited for Christmas!

                                            Happy 20th Birthday Hermana McBride!

  My birthday week was pretty awesome and was filled with lots of great things! Celene was baptized!!! The church is just renting a building to use for the meetings so there isn't a font. We have to use a swimming pool! We weren't sure if Celene was going to follow through and get baptized because her dad doesn't like the church, but in the end she decided that she knew the church was true and wanted to be baptized! She is 13 years old. 

Celene with Hma Molinero & I

Here is her mom Maria. She is an investigator as well and wants to get baptized too. We are working with her to quit smoking first. 

Swimming Pool as Baptismal Font

      Cañuelas is bursting with people to teach and I don´t want to leave now! We had 9 investigators come to church yesterday and two of them are going to be baptized next Friday as of now! :) It is so great to teach people that are ready and eager to learn and who are actually progressing in their testimonies. 

     Earlier in the week on Tuesday we had a Zone Conference which was so good and inspiring. It started off with a video of most of the missionaries of Buenos Aires South opening their mission calls. You know how I love watching these and it was so cool to see my mission call opening again as well that of the other missionaries here. The purpose was to remind us of how excited we were before the mission and to give us a reminder that this is a privilege to be here, and that it can be an amazing journey if we are positive and diligent in the work. President Calquin talked to us about other things too. Afterwards we all ate pizza and empanadas and then had a Zone activity. President Calquin and his wife joined in to play soccer and volleyball with us. It was really fun (and strange too to see President not in a suit but in exercise clothes playing soccer alongside the other Elders.)

Since Cañuelas is far away from everything, we stayed the night with the Hermanas of Luis Guillon:  Hermana Hernandez from Mexico and Hermana Biesinger from New York. I love them both a lot! In the morning of my birthday they all bought me "massas finas" (cookie cake type food that is so yummy!) and ice cream and gave me a card. We are going to be spending Christmas Eve and Christmas day with them so I am excited!  

       Hmas Biesinger & Hernandez with me & Hma Molinero
 in the area of Luis Guillon 

    On the way back to Cañuelas some members from the branch called us out of nowhere and offered us lunch so that was a great surprise! Then for dinner, the Huertas family- one of my favorite families here from Cañuelas made me a yummy dinner (see photo) and a cake and gave me two pairs of earrings as a gift. It made my birthday so special. They are a really humble family and I could feel their love as they sacrificed to try to make the occasion a fun one.

Lunch with Wonderful Members in Cañuelas 

Dinner with the Huertas Family made my birthday so special!

     By the time I Skype on Saturday I will know what will be happening in transfers which are Monday! I don´t want to leave after just 1 month of being here! We willl see.

     Here is the plan for our Christmas skype. I will be skyping by cellphone from a member's house in Luis Guillon at 4 o´clock Argentina time on Christmas Eve. (Originally I didn't like the idea of skyping by cell phone but I will have more time this way and it is one day early! Hna. Molinero is going to do it in another members house in Luis Guillon on Christmas day on a computer but already 2 other missionaries are Skyping there too so they will have only about an hour. This way I am the only one skyping and I´m not complaining that its one day early! :)  

Christmas Zone Conference in Monta Grande Zone

Monta Grande Zone with President and Sister Calquin

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Week 28: LightTheWorld: Caroling in the Plazas & Trains

I am so grateful that I decided to serve a mission. I never knew I had so many flaws until the mission. When all the distractions of the world are taken away, I can see myself more clearly and use the Atonement to change the characteristics that are not very Christlike. It's like a massage for the soul. The kinks and the knots are being smoothed out and this process is so difficult but it is how you learn. The mission is the perfect place to learn more about yourself and gain qualities that are going to be helpful in the future. I am learning to forget myself and serve others, adapt to changes, love a new culture, people, and language, learn to love to study the scriptures more, learn how the Spirit speaks to me, how to talk with people, cook, live with someone, budget my money, and teach the doctrines of the gospel. I am learning how perfect the Gospel is and that people really can change their lives. The message that we share as missionaries is a message of hope for the future and I am so grateful that God loves us and is merciful and is always offering us new opportunities. Thanks to Jesus Christ, we can always choose to change and live better than the day before. 

Missionary Choir in the Plazas

 This week all the missionaries in the zone put on a concert and sang hymns in the major plazas and afterwards on the trains. Singing on the trains was more fun because in the choir my feet and head were hurting pretty bad.  First we had to travel an hour and a half by train and bus to meet up.  Then we contacted people in the streets for an hour inviting them to the event. Afterward we rehearsed and then put on the concert. Following the concerts we talked to the people gathered around us. It was a lot of time to be on my feet.
Here is the Dominguez family! They are members of our ward and we are such great friends! I love their kids so much!

   We had one concert on Thursday and then slept over in Monte Grande with 6 hermanas in one pench (one of them being Hermana Abate Daga!) On Friday we were invited to a ward Christmas lunch in Ezeiza by a missionary couple in our mission (Elder and Hermana Medina). It was so fun! The Medinas were so nice and they reminded me of Grandma Jan and Grandpa Ray. Afterwards we had another round of contacting, performing, and caroling in trains. By the end of all that we were totally exhausted!

Chicken Barbeque- Argentina Style!

They grilled a whole bunch of chicken and everybody brought potato salad, bread, and drinks for their own family. It was different from the potlucks that we are used to.  

Elder & Hermana Medina

Our air conditioner (who we've named Peter) is in our living room so Hma. Molinero & I always bring our mattresses there to sleep because our room is too hot! 
     Other than that, we had several lessons with our investigators and they are progressing a lot. Four of them came to church! This Sunday, the Primary teacher didn't show up so we got to teach and entertain 7 kids for 2 hours- that was interesting! It ended up being fun- one of my favorite things is hearing the kids here speak Spanish.  

     We have planned a dinner with members for my birthday and we are going to go out to eat for lunch. Since it is summer it feels so weird that it is my birthday! We are still looking for somewhere to Skype for Christmas but it will happen! :)

     Wow thank you so much for the video! I loved it!! Dean did so well on his solo! Mom, I loved seeing you and the fam in the video! You are so beautiful! I am so proud that you are my mom. 

To answer your question: 

We don't have very many lunches with members and we are walking a lot here. Since my compi can't eat wheat we are eating really healthy- lots of smoothies and fruit, eggs or rice with veggies and hamburger, and salads.

Thank you for what you said in the video about how this is my only Christmas in Argentina. It is good advice and is so true! This week I was a little sad and missing home at times and it was so good to hear encouraging words. I love you so much!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Week 27- Discovering Cañuelas- Growing in Unity

Cañuelas is a cute little town and we are still trying to find our way around. There aren't very many buses here and our area is really big. We have bikes again and are doing a lot of walking. We have to travel an hour on bus each way to our district meeting every week in San Miguel del Monte and we are riding the train a lot too. This week we missed the bus after district meeting and had to wait 2 hours until the next one. In San Vicente it was an electric train but here it is a real train so I feel a bit old-fashioned. We missed the train once too and had to wait an hour. The transportation here is frustrating and it doesn't help that it is so hot! Our pench has air conditioning though so that's a blessing!
The majority of our area is nicer but there are poor parts too. It is a branch here with about 40 active members. We have met 3 member families that are nice but as of now we only have lunch with a member once a week! :( Well I am going to learn how to cook while I am here! Also this month our "assignacion" (allowance) was raised mil pesos so we have more money. Yay! Just in time too since we have to buy most of our food now.

We had to teach Gospel Principles this week without notice and I remember that we had to do that in San Vicente and that I was so nervous! Yesterday it wasn't so hard and it shows that my Spanish has improved. Spanish just comes out now and I don't have to think very hard. I can understand almost everything I hear and am thinking in Spanish too. Yesterday when we were talking to a member, she was telling a story and I thought how cool it was that I am understanding what she is saying! I love that I know Spanish now and I feel like I need to enjoy my time in the mission because I might never have the opportunity to live in a world of Spanish again. I have moments like these a lot and I often feel like I am going to miss this when its over.

Our investigators here are awesome! 5 of them came to church yesterday!  We have German and Elba who the missionaries found 2 months ago. They have a 12 year old son named Lucas who was baptized in Nov. and they are going to get baptized in February after they get married. Then we have Maria del Carmen who is German´s mom who we are trying to help quit smoking but she wants to be baptized too. German´s 13 year old sister Celene is also amazing and we are hoping she will be baptized this month. And then there is Luis, our favorite investigator of gold. He is about 50 years old and lives alone in the country and we have to take a bus for 40 minutes and then walk 20 minutes to get to his house. He is so willing to change and follow the example of Jesus Christ and is going to be baptized on the 23 of Dec. He comes to church even though it is over an hour of travel. We love him!

Hermana Molinero and I are such good friends now and we are loving working together. I think that since we have a lot of experiences together we get along. Usually when you change area you change companions but since we didn't we are even closer. We are wondering how much time we will be together. Transfers are the day after Christmas but it doesn't make sense for one of us to leave after 1 month in the area. This is our second transfer together and it is also rare for companions to be together for more than 2 transfers so we will see! We want to be together again.

 I am in the same district as Hermana Abate Daga again so I got to see her this week! She is my capacitadora and she has one year in the mission as of 2 days ago! Whoo hoo!

I am doing service here helping a girl named Maria learn the piano. She already knows some and is eager to learn more! I am loving helping her. Tell the boys to keep practicing because the piano is so helpful here!

I am not scared to bring my camera out proselyting so here are some pictures of Cañuelas: 

 I love the sky here! I don´t know if the pictures do it justice but the sky is different here in Argentina and it is so beautiful!

 (We have to switch cybers now- but I am going to write more!)

Mom,   Aww I know that feeling! Missing someone is one of the worst feelings ever. Enjoy your other kids during Christmas- don't worry about me! My mind is often here and not there- I am loving the mission. It's not like I love you guys less (I love you  more now that I am far.) It's more that I am in another world and am so busy with the mission life. 

We have a whole box of "Ilumina el Mundo" ["Light the World"] pass along cards and it is easier to make contacts in the street with these. Yay Christmas! We still don't know where we are going to Skype for Christmas-we will keep looking!
Everyday I too am grateful for my family. I love you guys so much! All the members that I show our family pictures marvel. I am so proud to be a McBride!