January 11, 2011


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

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