Saturday, December 21, 2013

December 17 Transfers!!

Well as the subject and also the fact that I am writing on a Tuesday say, this week was transfers! I did indeed get transfered to a new area. I am now out of the city in an area called Casador in the city Escobar. In my area is the zoo that the mission president took the whole mission to a while ago. I am really excited to be out here even though it is way different from the city and especially now that it is getting really hot there is no shade to walk in. 

My companion is a good guy from Chile. He speaks little to no English so I am really going to have an opportunity to work on my Spanish the next few weeks! I feel pretty good in a conversation with him I just don´t quite have the vocabulary to speak fluently quite yet. The mission president called me this morning and told me that my new companion is struggling a little bit as he only has a transfer and a half left in the mission and that the Lord and him are counting on me to lift him up and help him finish strong. I am excited to be able to help out another missionary even though I am just a junior companion to him. It will be good though and we already get along great so we will see how it goes!

This past week we had a marriage and a baptism! It was so great to bring a family together in marriage and then to have the couple in all white for the baptism on Saturday. There is always problems that we have to deal with but it all worked out and we were able to baptize them both. It was a great experience and I am so happy to have been able to do it before I left that area. San Cristobal was a great area and I am so blessed to have had it as my first area. Now I am here in Escobar ready to work and do it all over again. I finished my training yesterday so I am finally done with the four months of working to be a regular missionary. I am still pretty new and my Spanish is not perfect at all but I am excited to be able to get out and work here.

As I said the weather here has been hot and getting hotter. It doesn´t help that it is extremely humid as well. I really just sweat all day long and so I have been trying to drink a ton of water. It is really weird to me to be this hot at Christmas time but it is all good. I am already excited for fall haha. I don´t know very much about this area quite yet because I just got here today but next week I will let you all know more about the ward and what it is really like here.

So speaking of Christmas what we are going to do is use the computer of a member here in Escobar to skype after we eat lunch with here. The plan as of now is to go there, do some service for her, eat lunch, then I will skype, followed by my companion. Right now the time we have planned to skype for me is 2 oclock Buenos Aires time. I am pretty sure that will make it 10 am there in Utah, and all of this is on Wednesday, Christmas day. What you all need to do is make a skype account this week and send me the account name so that I can add it on her account and talk to you! If I don´t get this account name next Monday I won´t be able to call you so that is important! I am really excited to be able to call and see you all for a little while, it should be great!
I also was able to pick up the Christmas packages at the mission office today during transfers. I have not opened them yet though but still thank you! Everyone was jealous that I had 3 packages haha so you all did well. It should be a great Christmas here!! It sounds and looks like everyone had a good time making Christmas cookies and what not this past week. It kinda sucks to have missed it but I know I couldn´t be doing anything better than this right now!

Other than all that there really isn´t much new to report. Just getting used to a new area, new comp, new teaching style, and still a new language. This week will definitely be a week of learning for sure and even after just one day of total Spanish with my comp I can already feel my English slipping, so this Skype call should be interesting haha! I am excited though and can´t wait for this next week.
Also, Dad said something about filling taxes for this next year. I usually just did it on tax slayer I think and it worked out great. I have no idea how we go about doing those here but I will ask around about it. I will let you know!

Anyways thank you all for everything, especially the prayers! As I always say I can feel the power of those prayers helping me along every single day! I love you all I and will be able to email for a short time next Monday and then we can Skype on Christmas day! Please don´t forget to make a Skype account and send me the information for it! I love you all and thank you again! Have a great week!!

Elder Zollinger

Monday, December 9, 2013

Hello All! December 9, 2013

Hello all!

Well this past week was a pretty slow yet good one! We have been having some difficulties finding new investigators this past week and so that basically means that we spent all week walking back and forth across our area visiting members and less actives almost begging for references and service opportunities. It has been good though and we were able to make some good relationships with some members and we have hope that the next weeks will bring success.

 We were also blessed to be able to marry two investigators this week and they should be getting baptized this Saturday. We will definitely be working hard this week to make sure that goes down and that they enter into that extremely important covenant with the Lord. I am very happy for them and their family is amazing. The husband is the son of a ward member here and I really feel like I am a part of their family. They are so great and it will be a sad day when I have to leave them. I will probably end up asking my Mission President to come back here my last transfer of my mission if it is at all possible because this is such a great ward and could not have asked for a better place to begin my mission. By the way transfers are this next week and so I will for sure not be writing until Tuesday. I will be finishing my training this week and usually when that happens you get transfered to a new area but we will see. Therefore this may well be my last week here in San Cristóbal but I guess that is just how the mission goes! Lots of change all the time!

It sounds as though everyone back home is doing well and just chilling out (quite literally haha). It has been very very warm here lately, mostly because of the humidity. It does not at all seem like it should be Christmas time at all but I guess that is what happens when you are in a different hemisphere of the world! It is bound to get warmer before it gets colder though so I should not be complaining right now! It is all good though and it will be intersting to have my seasons all changed around for a little while!

From Mom´s email it seems as though the whole fam is focusing more and more on giving this holiday season rather than receiving. That is great and I am very happy to see that happening! It is always fun to receive gifts and what not but if Christmas is about Christ then we should focus on giving ad not receiving because giving is all Christ ever did!!! Everything he ever did he did it for others, right down to his death and ressurection. It is truly great that we are blessed to have enough to give to other people. I just encourage everyone to get into that giving spirit because I can promise that as you give you always always always end up receiving more! Remember we can never give more to anyway than the Lord will give us back in blessings!

It is so weird to think that this time is the Holidays. I do miss being around to make pecan pies for Thanksgiving and the cookies for Christmas but it is just fine to miss it just two times! Even though I haven´t been home much since going to West Point I have always made it home for the holidays, so this is my first time away for them all! It is a Little weird and a tiny bit sad but as soon as you realize the reason behind WHY I am missing it then it all turns around to a very happy experience indeed. It would be selfish to say that Christmas is about giving and then be sad because I am here giving to others and serving the Lord rather than home. I´ll be back soon enough anway cause as we can tell with Dallan Grange the time really does fly!!!

As far as talking on Christmas I am nearly certain that we will talk on Christmas day. But because I could get transfered next week to a new área with a new companion I do not know all the details now. All I know is that you all need to make a skype account on the computer you want to use to make the call. It should be pretty simple just google it and I will let you know next week when I know where I will be for Christmas!

I am so very blessed to have everybody in my life who reads this and I pray for everyone every day! The Lord truly has blessed us all with everything we have and we always need to remember that there are many many many people in the world who dont have us much as we do! I will keep an eye out for my packages cause we will be going to the offices this week for training, so if they are there I will pick them up. Oh yeah and I am looking forward to hearing the stories about the belgian cookies we make each Christmas, there always seems to be a story of something going wrong with those haha. My guess is that this year Avery will burn himself or something hahaha. Anyways it is great to hear from everyone and I love you all. Always remember how blessed we are and I look forward to talking with the fam here in a couple weeks! Keep the faith and fight the good fight! I love you all!!
Elder Zollinger

Sunday, December 8, 2013

December 2, 2013 "The True Meaning of Thanksgiving"

Hello all,

Well this past week went by very well! We were able to find some new promising investigators and also begin working with some less actives in the ward that need our help. We also began planning a wedding for two investigators a week from today. We will marry them and then they both have a date for a baptism on the Saturday directly following. We are both really excited to get them married and become members of the church. They also said they really want to prepare for a temple marraige, which is amazing and always the goal. If we have investigators that we marry and baptize and they get sealed in the temple while we are still in the mission then we are allowed to go to through the temple with them. So in a year we will have to see if that happens for us! I would absolutely love that if I could! Other than that we saw a lot of miracles this past week and can see the work pushing right along here in Buenos Aires!

This past week was Thanksgiving but they don´t celebrate it at all down here. That day we had a lunch with a member so we were able to eat well though don´t worry! She had no idea it was a holiday in the US but it still counts! We ate chicken and rice, which is what we usually eat. It was really good though and it was really special because this certain member really has close to nothing. She gave us all the rice she had and told us that she saved up to buy us really good chicken to eat. She stood by the table the whole time and kept our plates and glasses full until we could not eat anymore. She was so happy that she could give what little she had to as she said "the angels of the Lord". What a powerfull moment that was for me to hear her say that and see how happy she was to give what little she had. It really hit me and I have begun to realize that this mission really is not about me at all, it is about our investigators and those members. I am so happy to be here and serve them with all my heart. They are so great and so humble and it was really hard to keep from crying as we ate. It really was a time to give thanks indeed.

Other than that everything else was pretty normal this week, not a whole lot going on. We are just working hard and trying to keep up with everything we have to do. Sometimes we have our appointments fall through and just end up walking around to members houses trying to see if we can help them with anything. We hardly ever tract or do street contacts, as that really just does not work here at all. We always have to find through the members and investigators.

It is so crazy to me that Dallan is coming home in just a few days or so. His mission really did fly by for me too! I could swear that he just left. I am pretty sure that Landon Lott is coming home some time this month too. It is so crazy to see all of my friends getting home and I am still in training here. But it is all good and I am so glad that they could all be out and serve the Lord. I can´t hardly wait to see them all again but I still have plenty of time left myself! Although I can hardly believe it is December already. I cannot tell if the time as gone by slow or fast, as there really hasn´t been a ton of it yet. I am still just trying to work and become the best missionary as I can be. The language is better now but I still only understand about three fourths of what people say to me. It is all good though and it is just a proccess of time. It will come eventually, I am not too worried about that!

We also have interviews tomorrow with the President so that will be great. I love talking to him as he is a great man and a spiritual giant. A member told me that he is the youngest mission President in the world right now, and I would not be suprised if he ends up being an Apostle some day!

There really isn´t a ton of stuff to talk about this week, just pushing along and enjoying it. I am glad that everyone back home is doing well and having a good holiday season. As we get closer to Christmas I will have more details for how the skype chat will work. It will have to be on Christmas day though because we have a mission conference on Christmas Eve, which should be really good! I am excited to see how this all goes.

By the way it is really hot and humid here which may be the reason why I cant believe it is December! I am so sweaty all day but I am getting more and more used to it. Oh well!

Anyways I love you all and thank you for everything you do for me. All I can ask is keep up the prayers and everything! They help a ton I can feel it! Just keep serving the Lord and he will bless you! I love you all and I will talk to you next week!

Elder Zollinger

November 25, 2013

Well here we are again at the beggining (and end) of another week in La Gran Misión Buenos Aires Norte. The work here is going well and I can see miracles coming to pass on all sides. We had quite the miracle this week in fact! This past week the Bishop come up to us and said that a less active family in the ward was starting to come back to church all on their own and that they had a 9 year old son who wanted baptized. Because he is over 8 he is under our keys and so we happily went to their house and talked with them about it. He already had enough attendences to church and knew a ton of stuff already so we just set the date for Saturday and dove right into it (almost literally)! We baptized him on Saturday and confirmed him yesterday. I forgot my camera though so I can´t send any pics of it :( . It was my 3rd baptism for me in my mission so far. It is always awesome to see people accept the Gospel like that and enter into that great covenant of baptism. 

We also are working hard to complete a family here in the ward by the end of the transfer. A couple in the family need married though so we are working on getting them married and baptized the last weekend of the transfer. Hopefully it will all work out! If it does that will mean we have 4 more baptisms this transfer with just that family, and hopefully more will come with other investigators. We will just have to see!!

Things are going good around here, not really a ton new to talk about. It was a good week and we are definitely staying busy! There is always something to do around here so being bored is not a problem haha. We are working hard and having success, and it is always good to see the fruits of your work!!

This past week I hit 100 days in my mission. I can´t remember what day it was or how I figured it out, but yeah so I am now into the triple digits! It is kind of crazy to think about in all honesty. At this point the time is going by pretty normally, not too fast and not too slow. From what I have been told it will start to really fly in a few months once I really have to language down and am out of my training with a regular schedule and what not. It is not bad to have a lot of time left though and it is actually kind of calming to know that I don´t have to worry a ton about stuff back home and I can just focus on this work, even though as you all know I am always always thinking ahead haha. The craziest thing about hitting 100 days is that it proves to me that this experience really wont last forever, and some day I will have to go home. It is not very soon but it will come, which is kind of nerveracking to me. I am just getting used to all this! Haha it is all good though.

It sounds like everyone back home is having a good time. It sounds like fun with the house full again and it seems like everyone is keeping right on busy! I am glad that everyone is doing well and I really enjoy getting updates from fam and friends.

We have some extra money left over from this month so we are thinking about going out and buying some meat and having an "assada" for Thanksgiving with my companion and I along with the other companionship in the ward. If we end up doing it I will be sure to take a pic or two and send it next week!

We also haven´t got any word on how skyping for Christmas will work this year, but from what it sounds like we will just go to a cyber café on either Christmas or Christmas Eve and use the skpe on the computers here to get in contact. I will be sure to let you all know when and how as soon as I do. I am way excited to see everyone and talk for a while!

Also, we had a pretty eventfull Pday today! We went out to this Island that is actually partially in our area here. We are never out there cause we have absolutely zero members there. The island is incredibly rich and I finally found where all the American tourists are hahah. I actually heard random people speaking English for the first time here in Buenos Aires haha. It was really cool and my comp took some pictures that I will send in another email. There was an old Argentine Naval ship there in the river which was a museum and the entrance price was 2 pesos. So we went in and looked around and then got a McDonald´s ice cream sundae haha. The funny thing was there was some random Argentine dude on the bridge and when we passed him he kept yelling "Go home Yankees (pronounced shunkeys here)!" in both English and Spanish. We ran into him like 3 more times just randomly haha it was funny. All I could think was that there were tons of American tourists there and the only people he yelled at was the two Mormons haha. Whatever!

Anyway I just wanna let you all know that I am doing great and having a good ole time here. The ward I am in is great and I am having some fun with my comp too. Have a great Thanksgiving this week and remember to give a sincere pray of thanks for everything we have! We truly are blessed to live in such a great country and state and time. As I have spent time here I have found that Logan, Utah truly is a great place. Don´t worry though, Buenos Aires is wayyy better as far as missionary work goes though! I hope that everyone has fun as a fam enjoying the Thanksgiving spirit this week and all I can ask for is for you all to keep me in your prayers as always! Keep the faith and fight the good fight! And just remember, as Preach My Gospel says: "The attitude that you have towards your missionary service (or life in general) reflects your love for our Heavenly Father and His Son, as well as your respect for the Priesthood." So be happy with what you have and give thanks to God for all of it! I love you all and I will talk to you again in another week!

Love always,
Elder Zollinger

Monday, December 2, 2013

Nivenber 18, 2013 ELDER HOLLAND WAS HERE!

Hello all!

As you can probably tell by the subject line of the email we did have a visit from the one and only Elder Jeffery R. Holland of the Quorum of the 12. It was probably one of the coolest experiences of my life. But I will get back to that later!

Nothing really amazing happened this past week as far as investigators. In fact it was a little rough. Most of them lost their baptismal dates so we have yet to have one set in stone. We are on the verge of dropping a few of them because they will not commit to change their lives in order to be baptized. We have tried everything we can and the crazy thing is that they know what we are telling them is true, they just refuse to give up old habits right now. But we are called to bring those who are ready into the Gospel and if they won´t repent then we can´t baptize them. I know some future day missionaries will go back to them though and they will be ready. Sometimes our job is just to prepare them so another missionary can bring them fully into the church. We are going to be focusing on teaching active and less active members this week in order to gain references to new investigators. I have faith that as we do so the Lord will put those people who are prepared for the Gospel in our path.
As for the rest of the week it was pretty normal. Just working every day and teaching whoever will listen. We have some old investigators starting to come out of the woodwork so hopefully this is their time now. I will keep you updated with all of that of course!

Well I guess it is time for the big event! Elder Holland! Unfortunately Elder Christofferson of the 12 was not able to make it, but we were lucky enough to have President Gonzalez (Quorum of the 70 and South America South Area President) and President Suarez (Presidency of the 70) here with him along with all of their wives. It was such a sacred experience to be in the presence of such great men and General Authorities. It would have been a great day with either of the 70´s but of course it was only magnified by having an Apostle of the Lord there too.

 It was also cool cause I ran into two friends from High School who are in the Buenos Aires West and South missions. I saw Bretton Craney and Crystal Rupp. I dont think Sister Rupp saw me but Bretton and I definitely saw each other. It was way cool to see him as I think he is about to go back home soon. I was suprised and I am pretty sure he had no idea that I was here haha.

Anyway back to Elder Holland. The whole experience was extremely spiritual. We had talks from the other two general authorities and their wives along with Sister Holland before Elder Holland spoke last. You could tell that they knew that everyone just wanted to listen to Elder Holland but they did a great job of preparing the way for him. They were all really good and I learned a ton from each of them. Sister Suarez said something that really hit me. She said that missionary work is a privilage, not a sacrifce. And that if we think it is a sacrifice we will feel bad for ourselves every day, but when we see it as the privilage it is we will have more joy than ever before. Sister Holland also hit on that as she talked about staying focused and realizing that this is not about us, this is about the Lord and the work of salvation. She said many things that we very spiritualy uplifting and I can tell that she is an inspired woman.

Then Elder Holland got up. It was absolutely incredible. He spoke with the authority of God and the voice of what seemed like an Angel. Every word was inspired and his message pierced me to my soul. I litteraly think that not one person there will ever be the same after that, as I know that I will not be! I will try to give you all just a glimpse of some of the notes I took.

He started by saying that he flew half way around the world to tell us one thing: That he loves us with all his heart. And that this love is not just his but it is the love of God and of the entire church. He said that we as missionaries are the most prayed for group of people in the entire world. We have millions of prayers for us each and every day. We must accept that love and prayers and be assured by them as we have faith in the Lord. He said that this is not something that we just do for 24 months, we must honor this calling for the rest of our lives, as this is as close as we will ever get to living. He said to stop thinking about "real life" back home, because the work of the Lord IS REAL LIFE. He said that we will never be closer to real life than we are right now. Incredible. He said that we as missionaries have the same calling as the 12 apostles. We are representatives of Jesus Christ in this world sent with a message from on high. We are Apostolic. right now. We have and bear the same title as Apostles. We should savor every single part of our missions, the good, the bad, the pain, and the joy. The key to joy is having a true, deep, genuine conversion. This will help us solve every problem in our lives. Being a missionary is not about what you say or do, it is about what you ARE. I believe that this applies to everyone as well.

He then spoke a lot of stuff about the mission rules and why we have them. It was way good of course. Basically he was saying we don´t do this our way, this life isnt like burger king where we say "I want it my way". This life is about service and about the gospel. We must do everything we can each day to serve others and therefore serve God.

I am now going to tell the most powerfull part of his talk. This is in my own words and according to how I understood what he said, and also I am going to replace the word "mission" with the word "life" because it applies to everyone and to life in general, not just a mission.

Some days we may ask why is life so hard. Some days we just look around in despair and just ask ourselves what in the heck am I doing here? I thought life was supposed to be fun?! On the hard days we must remember this one thing: This life is difficult because salvation is not a cheap experience. There are no easy lives. Jesus Christ suffered for us and it was difficult for him. Sometimes we just take his suffering for granted but we should never forget what he did for us. We should never take 5 seconds in this life to moan or complain about how hard it is. Christ may have suffered for our sins but that was NOT a free gift. We ourselves must feel a tiny portion of what he felt. We must go where Christ went, we must feel what he felt, we must shed the tears that he shed. It is the way of the cross. We must take up our cross and follow him on the road. And the road to salvation always goes through Gethsemane, we must go there. Our cross is small, the Master´s cross was large. This life was never meant to be easy. Take in every moment of life, everything about it. The good and bad, the pain and joy. Every moment brings us closer to Christ as we feel what he felt. We ourselves must feel the feelings of eternity in order to enter therein. We must taste the bitter cup from whence he drank. If this truth is deep in your soul then nothing in the world nor hell can ever wrench it from you. Don´t ever lose hope, dont ever lose faith. If we do well, we will walk into eternity together with Christ, never to feel the pains of the world again. I know that these things are true. There is so much more to our purposes here than we will ever know in this life. Fight the good fight, and keep the faith. There is always hope on the horizon.

I love you all, and I feel like it might be best to stop with that for the week. I spent too long writing today but it is all good. Thanks for everything and I will talk to you next week!

Elder Zollinger