January 25, 2011


24 de Enero 2011.

Remember how I´m a really funny person? Yeah, well I guess it'll take a while longer for me to have a good sense of humor that translates into spanish. haha Yesterday at lunch with our ward mission leader, Edith (Dario, the WML´s wife) served us grape juice. But it was like powder from a package so it tasted like candy. Without thinking, I said, YUM Purple drink! They looked at me like I was crazy and I was laughing really hard, both at the purple drink and from embarassment. If anyone knows what I´m talking about, that would be great....no latino gets it.

This week: we have ONE more day of the leadership conference that I love so much. It seriously is such a powerful time to be with the Pres and his wife and all the missionary leaders of the mission. To show you how much Pres Gulbrandsen uses skype, he has three Macs set up on a table in front of him for the 3 zones that are in the South. Those elders get front row seats to the conference! haha

There was a newspaper journalist and photographer (i think both students at some university here) at the conference. They are doing a story on the missionaries and they asked why we were here. Pres gave us a few minutes so that those who wanted to share could stand and share. Hna Peña and I stood up at the same time so that we would be able to speak. He didn´t see us at first in his peripheral but when he did, he pointed at us to speak and with a big smile on his face said to the journalist, 'These are my twins'. haha
The reason I´m here? Because of the love for my family. Because I am eternally grateful for the amazing people I call my parents and brothers and sister. I am grateful for the gospel in our lives that has made it possible to overcome incredible obstacles, trials and other hard times in this dark world. I´m here because I know that this message of the restored gospel blesses lives. I know that if Christ were here, this is what he´d be doing. I am here because of the LOVE. I am here because the hope I have for an eternal family is a hope that I CAN´T keep to myself. How selfish would that be?

Well, the conference was great. The pictures I sent are of the sisters who attended. 4 newbies and 4 great ones :)

Hna. Peña, Hna. González 3, Hna. Gulbrandsen, Hna. González (Suzette),
Hna. Romo, Hna. Gillam, Hna. Cariola, Hna. Campos, Hna. Freitas.
(From Left to Right)
Hna Gillum you know, she is standing next to her companion Hna Romo from Texas and I LOVE THEM. haha they make me laugh and they UNDERSTAND MY AMERICAN HUMOR!

Hna. Gillam, Hna Romo, Hna. Peña and Hna. González.
The other siters are Hna Freitas from Selina, UT who is finishing her mission this transfer and is training......da da dum! Hna Gonzalez!!! haah She´s from Chile and is 3rd Gonzalez. I am number 2 because Hna Peña´s trainer was ALSO Hna Gonzalez from Cordova Argentina. hahaha SO MANY GONZALEZ´ Seriously, two Hermanas and two Elders. YEAH. Oh the last two Hnas are Hna Campos from Chile and Hna Cariola (the tall beautiful one who looks like Pop-eyes girlfriend Olive :) ) who is also from Chile. There are more Chilenos here than Argentines!

Basically, this is hard hard work. It is hot, we walk A LOT and people feed us too much haha but it´s also too delicious to turn down. We have been teaching a lot of Peruvians lately and their food is so different from Argentina. Argentine food is not boring, they make so many things that I would never have imagined and it´s great. I will NEVER turn down an empanada. But Peruvians eat a lot of fatty, flavorful food. Argentines, contrary to popular beliefs do NOT eat a lot of meat. On special occasions they will roast half a pig (I saw it on christmas) but carne asado is something I have yet to eat.... :( Ah! But TWO families have already promised to make it for us! I want to go tomorrow! haha

I love the salads here. And they eat a lot of salad. And green olives. And pizza. haha Very European.
I was talking about being here then got distracted by food...haha I´m hungry I guess. But I love it. Every moment. I know this is supposed to be hard, it´s supposed to break my heart and make me fly with joy at the same time. In Mosiah 28:3 is how i feel now about these investigators that we teach. I learn to love them, I´m blessed with that charity for them by the power of prayer and then if they don´t accept, if they don´t progress....it´s the most awful feeling. Only because I grow to desire so much for them to be happy. I love them so much that it hurts to see them reject this message of Christ.
But I keep walking, I keep my smile and a prayer in my heart that we will find the people who are prepared at this time and that others will keep that seed of faith in their hearts and be ready at another time.

I love My Savior. I have a firm testimony of the power of prayer. I know that God hears us. I know that He answers our prayers, all of them. Sometimes we have to work to see the answer because it comes in a form we were not expecting, but He will never leave us alone.  I know that everything we go through is for our good. I am grateful for the great gift of repentance. As I repent, I feel closer to my Father in Heaven and know that I can do better, especially to serve as the missionary He knows I can be and wants to help me get there.

Love you family.
Til next week,
Hermana Gonzalez

January 19, 2011

HI HI HI!!!!

What up y'all?
Wow, I spoke a LOT of english this week at a leadership conference. All the Elders who had heard me say the prayer at the same conference two months ago were amazed at how quickly i picked up the language. Elders that DIDN't know me asked if I was from argentina. SCORE! haha I try really hard to loose my yankee accent but hey, what can I do? At least other yankees can´t hear it.
So I met a lot more missionaries at this conference, in getting there and traveling back to our areas is about a 45 minute train ride where there are more elders than you would ever see together at one time. haha I met Elder McNeil from Orem Ut who went to Orem high. haha He also went to Canyon View and is only a year younger so I just assumed that was why he looked familiar to me. He said I looked familiar too but kept trying to figure out specifically where he´d seen me. We were both coming up with people we knew and we know a lot of the same people. He knows my dear friend Michael Hall and was so excited when I told him about Michael and Jennifer´s marriage. Also, E McNeil knows Bryce Hermann who was at the house at my farewell and I saw him a couple times at the MTC because he is a teacher there. That was fun and I got to know a lot of the missionary leaders.
We have a zone conference tomorrow!!! I´m super excited because I LOVE these conferences. I love President and Sister Gulbrandsen and I love being in a room full of 40-50 Elders and Sisters. It´s such an incredible spirit. I know that we receive revelation for our areas and how we can apply the gospel principles and learn from Preach My gospel how to be efficent and fruitful in our day-to-day work.

Oh, pictures this week! :) Hopefully they all go. I included a pic of the bowling scores (which the Elders still can´t let go) 

The bowling pictures I LOVE because I really think I won because of my lucky WOLF SHIRT! YAY! You can see how ridiculously dark my comp gets and how I seem to be sun repellant. And yellow. Ew. haha

And a picture of me with Estefania who was baptized the week of Christmas and is dreaming and planning to be a sister missionary. She only has 9 years to wait :) The picture was taken at her birthday party. Her birthday is a week before mine and we had a giant delicious cake.

The picture of me in front of the black sign was my birthday picture. My lovely companion made me a delicious apple cake (that I helped her make. Because, don't worry, I MAKE apple sauce now) and she had been working on that sign and balloons and everything every time I went to the bathroom so I wouldn´t see it!

AW! For cute! So we took happy birthday pictures making faces and such. Hna Peña insists that she can't make funny faces. 'Doesn´t know how.' So we were practicing. She really just needs a little more imagination. haha She just always comes out looking cute in pictures. Whatev. I can take the ugly enough for the both of us.

Well, We had a pretty good week. It flew by because we traveled to San Fernando two days. I didn´t get anything yet by the way. I got some letters from Dave Wilson, Stephen, Alivisi,and Gaby! I loved receiving them and reading them! Thanks! 
I got a package from an Elder who finished his mission when I got here. His last area was Urquiza so he was touring with his family and his mom wanted to send us whatever we wanted. We would never ask for anything but he sent both hna Peña and i two bags of reese´s and vaseline, and a lovely calendar of temples for 2011. It was great!
Well I got to go but i love you all and I hope you have a great week!
Ps. people who send LETTERS don´t need to do the same things as PACKAGES with the changing of the name. Letters are just fine to address to ME but Hna Gulbrandsen´s name needs to be on packages for the aduana stuff. I forgot the word in english.....oops
Anywho that´s just because Hna Gulbrandsen thought they were for her and opened them. No worries, they got to me anyway but she felt bad for opening them mistakenly!.
Love you all. I love being here, I love being a missionary and I learn something every day.
Share you tesimonies. You won´t regret it. Open your mouth and it shall be filled.
Hna Gonzalez

January 11, 2011

Hey, Hey!

January 10th, 2011

Ok, same sad, old story: NO TIME

Today was one of a kind. I was a champion. Ok, since we have a new-ish district (because only 2 changed) we still wanted to get to know these Elders. We WERE going to go to the ZOO!!!! which is my favorite but the Elders decided it was going to rain, some have already been before...yadda yadda. So....we went bowling.
E Bahamondes from Chile LOVES bowling. It´s his suggestion EVERY p-day. Since our new district leader came from serving 22 months all in the south and in the provinces, he was overjoyed at the idea of being in captial and going bowling. I think he thought he was going to cream us all in the game....sadly, it was not so. It came to pass that E Pearson was humbled and the Hermanas won both games!
Woot Woot! I´m not prideful but I am proud that Hna Peña and I could hold our own when we play with the Elders. Ok, Ok, i won´t send you the pictures I took of the scoreboard right now but I´ll tell you that I was first in both game! haha But to tell you how badly we ALL play, I won with the high score of 106 and 98. It was a great day. Especially because E Pearson had given me so much guff for being a Ute and was singing the Cougars fight song the first 5 frames and then stopped singing entirely eventually. At least now maybe he won´t bring up the BYU basketball´s record of beating Utah every 5 minutes. :)

This week, we met two wonderful people that we are preparing for baptism. One is a remarkable 9 year old whose grandmother (member) taught her to pray, gave her a hymn book and taught her how to have family home evening. This girl has FHE BY HERSELF every week. She doesn´t know how the hymns go so she reads one, prays, reads a messages from the Liahona that she made photocopies of from her grandmother's and then prays and goes to sleep. What an example!

I love being here. I love being a missionary. I see so many wonderful blessing from our Heavenly Father.
Love you all and thank you for the Birthday messages!!! I hope you all eat one of those amazing chocolate doughnuts for me! I told Hna Peña about them and how they are my birthday cake and I have been dreaming about them ever since. There is NOTHING like them in Argentina but I´ll make do with a coconut alfajor that I discovered a couple days ago. YUM!

Love you all
Hna Gonzalez


January 3rd, 2011

Funny story: I can’t remember if I’ve shared this yet though. One day a couple weeks ago, a woman contacted US on the bus. She saw my comp´s nametag and asked where the church was. She lives on the same street so Hna Peña, always on her feet, asked if we could visit her. We were one stop away from where we had to get off and so she told us her address as we were jumping off (the buses here only wait until one foot touches the ground and if you’re not fast enough to jump off (literally jump), you stay on the bus for a bit longer). We got off and realized we didn’t know her name. We wrote down her address quickly so we wouldn’t forget and then made plans to visit her later in the week. We finally got to her area on a Friday morning. We knocked on the door hoping that we would know how to find her. She answered the door and was on the phone. She saw me and wasn’t sure and then saw Hna Peña and said to the person on the phone, 'I’ve got to go, I’ve got to hang up, the Sisters are here!' We looked at each other like, what?? Nora, this lovely lady, invited us in and told us about her experience with the Mormons. She loves them! 50 years ago she told us her friends had listened to the elders who would go to one of their houses and sing songs, talk about Jesus and then eat dessert (Family home evening?) She is catholic and always wanted her son to be very religious, even a missionary for the Catholic Church but no such luck. She congratulated us on our service and dedication and asked to make sure we would be taken care of or with family over the holidays. 'If not, you are coming with me to Mar de Plata!' I’m not sure where that is but I’m sure president would never let us go. haha Sadly, she is going to Mar de Plata and will be gone until April! Hopefully, i don’t know, one of us will still be here and we’ll be able to come back and find her!
Right after leaving her house, we were standing at the corner of the street waiting to cross to another address when an older woman came up to us and hugged and kissed us in greeting. We were so confused and asked her how we knew her. She said we didn’t know her but she always saw us walking around and wanted to wish felices fiestas. She told us she did the same thing we did....only for the Jehovah's witnesses! haha Ana, was very nice. We asked her if we could visit her in her home at another opportunity ‘no thanks’ she said. ok! Have a good day! hahaha then less than a minute later, after the shock had worn off, we were walking and one of the guys who delivers pizzas on a bike (and there are TONS of pizza places around here) passes us on his bike and waves ‘Hola Hermanas!!’ WHAT IS HAPPENING TO THE ARGENTINES?! It was a funny and great day. 

Now, about this last week; first, one of the pictures is a picture of Hna Leguisamon who was in a trio with us for 2 days while she was waiting for visa info or going to the BA CCM. She lives in the BA North mission but the south part of it. Ushuaia! Since it’s a District down there, Pres. Gulbrandsen is her president and set her apart. She worked with us and I loved having her. She’s headed to Colombia! yay!
I told you about the Christmas stuff and all that happiness with the 100 degrees and feeling like I was turning into a raisin walking in the street. haha But it was a really rough week. With so many people heading off for vacation and getting out of dodge for the hot, hot holidays we had a lot of failed appointments and the first week of zero new investigators in my mission. Ouch!

We tried not to take it really hard and get discouraged and kept working like anything. We didn’t know who was going to get baptized this week but we knew there had to be someone. Remember how Estefania was baptized on Christmas? Well, we were able to be there and witness the moments when her mom was ready and prepared to be baptized as well. We had told Lidia that she could be baptized the 15th and she confessed to us that that made her really sad. 'Why so long?' she said. Um....with nothing stopping her worthiness anymore, Hna Peña and I looked at each other, read each other’s mind (because we are starting our 2nd transfer together) and said, why not this Saturday? She was so happy that she hugged us and cried. We cried a little too. Another miracle up there for Urquiza. 

Lidia was baptized on January 1, 2011. What an incredible way to start a new year. Bright and clean and new. Hna Peña and I were ready to jump in the water with her. 
Story about the baptism: We were trying to get appointments and continue contacting as if it wasn´t a holiday and as if we didn´t notice that the busy streets of Buenos Aires were basically abandoned. haha That was weird. The morning after Christmas and on the 1st were the first times that I heard Argentina quiet. It was a little unnerving. :) But with the heat wave that has been here the last week, so many people have had on the AC and bought the AC unit etc and are eating up the energy. There have been shortages and so what the city does is alternate cutting off energy to the blocks in different areas. They don’t warn anyone when but they try not to let it last more than 3-4 hours so that not everyone’s food spoils. As luck would have it, the block where the church is was turned off before 5pm on Saturday the 1st. The baptism was to be at 7pm. Hna Peña and I got to the church early to fill the font and set up the chairs and everything. The water is also partially controlled by the electricity and while it usually only takes 45 minutes to fill the font....it took 2 and a half hours! Then we had no light and no microphone for the talks. The closing hymn was sung with cell phones lit up and the handy dandy flashlight keychain that my mother sent me to be able to see the hymnals!

What Hna Peña and I saw as a great challenge and struggle to overcome to make sure everything was perfect for Lidia, Lidia saw as a great blessing and sign of love from her Father in Heaven. She shared with us her experience in a totally different perspective than we had expected. 

Lidia loved that everything was natural. She had even gone without sandals and walked around barefoot because she felt so happy in the church. She was grateful that there was no microphone because it made everyone have to pay more attention to the talks and thoughts shared at the pulpit. She was grateful that there was no noise from the fans that are always going to keep the church cool. Even at the end when we were partaking of the refreshments, she was grateful it was dark because people were brought more huddled together to talk and get to know each other.

Lidia is incredible. She’s the kind of investigator that was always teaching us. She is always one step ahead of us asking all sorts of questions. When we get to her house, she has left the Book of Mormon open to a page where she has questions about what they are talking about or wants to share something she learned. Seriously, when she was confirmed a member, there were incredible blessings given to her and I know that she is working hard to achieve the peace and unity in her family that she desires. She is already a missionary! She ran into a less active member somewhere near the church (we are still confused as to how this happened but it did) and she said, 'hello! Are you coming to the church? I’m being baptized today.' This less active sister had no idea about the baptism but came and then came to church yesterday too. We went to visit her last night and she told us that it had been an answer to her prayers. She’s going through a rough time and knows that the blessings of faithful church attendance and obedience will help her start a better new year.
You look left and right in Urquiza and you see the hand of the Lord. I know that it’s like that everywhere. Look around you and look for the people who need a message of hope and love. You won’t regret inviting them to church or a church activity. Even if they say no, you have planted a seed. Someday, in heaven maybe, that person will be grateful to you for your courage. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to share the gospel.

Oh, another thing that Lidia reminded me of. The temple here in BA is under reconstruction. It is taking longer than the 18 months planned but it will be rededicated in November. It is along the border of my mission and the south mission but we will be able to attend when it opens. I know I’m getting way ahead of myself and it´s still 11 months away but another thing: we will be able to take investigators and converts to the open house and hopefully be invited to the dedication. President Thomas S Monson will be coming to Buenos Aires to rededicate the temple! When I found out, I started to cry. Not only that the President, a prophet of God, is coming here, but that Lidia is already preparing herself for the temple. She wants to meet President Monson and has already promised to invite me for when she goes through the temple. What amazing blessings. I feel so overwhelmed by the Love that is felt here.

Elder Villareal turned Two!

Feliz Navidad!

Sharing time with Hermana Leguisamo
Hna Lourdes Cor, who is very facebook savvy, told me this morning that she chatted with you!! It made me so happy. She is an amazing woman and is always ready and willing to help us. She is a blessing to the missionaries that she hopes someday her son and daughter-future missionaries will find out in the mission field. 

Changes in the district, our district leader E Villarreal, turned 2 years old in the mission and went home to Peru and our new leader is Elder Pearson from Roy, Utah. That makes 3 North Americans in the district, all from Utah. Elder Petersen (the super tall one in the pictures) is from Spanish Fork, very close to Mt Timpanogos temple. Another chi leno replaced E Cortés, named E Andrade. Just the two changes and I look forward to learning new things from both these elders!

I love this gospel and I know that because of Christ´ sacrifice for us, through his atonement, we can be forgiven and receive relief from the guilt of sin. I know that through obedience and faith that we can endure to the end and find the peace and joy that we can´t imagine yet. We will be worthy to be blessed with the strength and patience needed to overcome any and all challenges and trials that come our way. I love this gospel and I love being a missionary full-time, preaching the word of God. 
Love you family and take care ok? i hope that EVERYONE writes next week, eh? I only turn 22 once :)

Super long mail but hey, I had more time today.
Love love love love!
Hna Gonzalez