Monday, June 30, 2014

Happy July! (June 30)

Hello all!

Well here we are at the end of June and moving on into July. The weather is getting colder here as winter starts to set in but even so it is not all that bad, only when it rains.
Anyway the work of the Lord is moving right along here in Buenos Aires and the time just keeps passing away. This past week was a bit of a boring one, nothing all that crazy really happened. My companion and I are just continuing to work and pray hard and we are hopeful that we will be able to help many people come to a knowledge of the truth. Things are well for me here I am happy and healthy and staying warm! This past week Argentina played in their last group game and won and we had to stay in the pension and do weekly planning until 3 in the afternoon at which point we could leave. It kind of killed the day because they played from 1 until 3 and then the rest of the day people didn´t really want to talk about much more than soccer haha. This week Argentina plays again but this time in the eighth finals and if they win and the US always wins then they will end up playing each other in the quarter finals this next week, which will be plenty crazy. I have no idea what new rules will start coming out as the games start coming with more and more importance but I am sure we will all be safe and entertained!
This next week is the 4th of July and the cruise in there back home so I hope that everyone enjoys that! My comp is from Peru but I am going to be sure to do my own sort of 4th of July celebration! Haha I am not sure what I will do yet but I will be sure to entertain myself in some fashion :).
I don´t have a whole lot of time to write today because we have a short pday due to some sort of mission wide activity tomorrow so that is about all I have for the week, sorry that it is so short! I just want everyone to know that I am well and happy and glad to be so blessed to be here at this time in the work of the Lord. I know that these things are true and my testimony grows every single time that I have the opportunity to speak with someone about it, even if they decide that they don´t want to accept it. This truly is the work of the Lord and I will be forever grateful to Him for this short time that I have to be a part of it. Thanks for all your love, prayers, and support and keep it up! I love you all and hope that you have a great week!

Love always,
Elder Zollinger

World Cup craziness (June 23)

Hello all!

Well just to start off I would just like to say it is completely different being in Argentina for the World Cup than the United States haha. All of the sudden Argentine flags came out of nowhere and now they are all over houses and cars and people and dogs and anything a flag can hang on! Not to mention Argentina won their first two games so now they are already guaranteed a spot in the 8th finals. When Argentina plays we basically have nothing to do... As of yet we have had no special rules come down but we are not allowed to watch the games so we just kind of walk around in the street like lost puppies listening to people scream at the television inside their homes haha. The entire country shuts down for those games! Not even the dogs come out into the streets! And there are a ton of dogs!!! We may not be able to watch the game but we always know what the score is based on the people who come running out into the streets screaming ¡¡¡Goal Goal Goal!!! and of course yelling at the random yankee with a shirt and tie on and his Peruvian friend. I guess it is all part of the mission experience though haha! Argentina plays again this Wednesday but it is at 1 in the afternoon here so we will be eating lunch and not in the streets this time. Hopefully that will work out more to our favor :)
Anyways this past week was a good one we worked hard and found a few new people to teach. We were able to find a less active family who is really cool. They have 4 kids and all of them are baptized but the two youngest ones who have 8 and 6 years old. The 8 year old turns 9 on July 2 so we talked with his family and they agreed that he should be baptized on July 6. However they did not come to church this week despite our best efforts and so we had to put his date back to July 13. We will be working hard this week and of course going by his house to make them go to church this Sunday. It didn´t rain all last week except for between 8 and 9 in the morning on Sunday, right when people are going to church... Of course when it rains here nobody wants to go to church so of a ward of 400 members we had 64 in sacrament meeting due to 1 hour of rain... I guess the normal attendance is like 90ish people though. There are a ton of less actives here. It is sad to see people who once had a testimony give up the blessings of the covenants they made for reasons that have nothing to do with anything.
Nothing really all that exciting happened here this past week. With the colder weather moving in and the world cup it makes it a bit harder to find people willing to listen to a Gospel message and even makes it harder for the members to want to help us do it. I wish that there was something that I could do to help people see that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a bit more important that Soccer but I guess when you are in South America during the world cup it is just a bit hard to do haha. Regardless we are just going to keep working and praying and I am sure that there is someone here who is more interested in their salvation than a soccer game :)
Well that is really about all that I have for this past week. All is well here and the district is doing well too. My district has baptized 4 people so far this transfer so they are all working hard and having success. I have been able to do a few baptismal interviews lately which is really such a humbling experience to stand in as a representative of the Lord to see if a child of God is ready to enter into the first saving covenant with Him. I love being a District Leader and I am really happy to be able to serve with and strive to help the other great missionaries in my district.
Just one thing that I have learned lately is the importance of being diligent. It really doesn't do us much good to work hard when the times are good and the success is easy if we don´t continue working hard when the times are rough and the success is hard to come by. One big inspiration is the Savior in His life and how He was always focused on His purpose of serving others and helping everyone. He never stopped working even after His death as He continued His great work in the Spirit World and then even after His resurrection (no idea how to spell that in English now haha). I am so glad to be able to be here in the mission and have the chance to serve others and learn more about myself and my Savior as I do so. The time continues to fly by and my year mark is starting to creep up on me. All I know is that I need to keep working and love every moment because before I know it it will be gone. Thanks for everything that you all do for me and especially the prayers that you send my way. I love you all and have a great week!

Love always,

Elder Zollinger

Happy Father's Day! (June 16)

Hello!

Well I would just like to start off by saying happy fathers day to all the dads out there reading this. Thanks for all that you guys do for your families and I hope that you all enjoyed your day. Of course I already sent an email to my dad wishing him a happy fathers day but I will go ahead and say it again that I love you dad and thanks for all that you do for me. I wouldn´t be anywhere near what I am without you being who you are. Thanks for everything!!
Well this past week was a bit of a slow one as far as the work goes. It rained almost 2 or 3 days straight and for some reason here people use the fact that it is raining as an excuse for not letting you into their home to talk for a few minutes... We literally would knock at investigators homes and would ask if we could come in and talk and they would just be all like no it is raining come back when it stops. I really have no idea how that logic works out but whatever haha. Anwyay that also put a damper on the motivation of the members to come out with us but I guess that didn't change much cause not many people wanted to talk to us anyway haha. We also had some promising investigators tell us that they didn't want us to come by anymore right out of the blue which was kind of a blow to my companion and I, but it is all good we were able to see those who really wanted to listen to us and learn more about the Gospel of Christ and those who were not interested but just did not want to say no to us. This week in my studies I was thinking a little about how people could say no to learning more about the Gospel of Christ and the plan that our Father in Heaven has for us and for our families. I had no idea how someone could say no to the prospect of eternal life and eternal families. Then I realized that all throughout the Bible and Book of Mormon are stories of prophets who were called to preach to a people that wanted absolutely nothing to do with God or his commandments. Many of them faced mocking and scourge at the hands of wicked people too hard of heart to see the glorious hope that comes from knowing of God´s love for us. Some of them even died striving to declare repentance to God´s children. I realized that it should be no surprise that many people want nothing to do with their Father in Heaven because it has always been that way. I may not understand why it is that way but I do understand that it is reality and all we can do is live what we know to be true and serve God faithfully until the end.
Well like I said before this week was a pretty slow one in terms of finding new people to teach. On the bright hand I have gotten used to using a bike all day and my legs are only a little sore and I am only exhausted halfway to death at the end of each day haha. Some days we get so tired of biking around that we just leave them at the apartment and go walking to our visits. It takes a little bit more time and my feet hurt sometimes but man is it good to get away from that thing for a bit haha. So far we have not had any problems with them it is just annoying after a while! At one point this weekend we were biking and it started to rain really hard. We both got completely soaked but we just kept going anyway. We got to a house of a lady we wanted to contact and knocked on the door. She came out and was really surprised to see two young men completely soaked standing in the rain wanting to share a message with her about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His plan for us. She said she would have normally said no to any missionaries on her door but that just the fact that we were still working in that pouring rain had to mean that we had something good to share. We spoke with her for a while and left her a pamphlet on the Restoration and a Book of Mormon. She said that she would read and pray about it but that she was going to be leaving for a week and would not be able to come to church. We will be going by her house tomorrow to see how it all went. Hopefully it went well!!!!
One nice thing about being on the bikes is that I don´t spend as much money on transportation like the buses and subways in the city. Therefore I have more money to spend on food haha. Needless to say my comp and I are eating well and enjoying the time together haha. About my companion he is a really good guy. Like I said he is from Peru and he is 21 years old like me. Everyone in his family are members besides his dad. He is the second in his family to serve a mission and he has 8 months so far, 2 months less that me. He loves to work and is a really good planner which helps me a lot because I seem to be a bit more yeah lets just go work and baptize everybody haha. We make a pretty good team if I say so myself. The thing is that he already has over 4 months here so he will probably be heading out this next transfer and I will stay. There are also a lot of new missionaries coming in this coming transfer and the next so it is possible that I could be training soon! I have yet to train someone so I guess we will see what happens with that!
Well anyways that´s about all I have for this week. The work just keeps on progressing and the time just keeps on passing by. It is funny to see the changes of the expression on people´s face as they ask how much time you have in the mission and the number of months just keeps getting bigger. The have stopped telling me that I am new in the mission and it has changed to a more oh, you've got experience but still have time left sort of thing. Haha I am interested to see how that goes as I get closer to my year mark.
Anyways thanks for all that you all do for me and the great family and friends that you are. I appreciate the prayers on my behalf and assure you that they help me out every day! I am so grateful to serve the Lord here in Argentina and am just trying to make the best of every single day, because they go by fast. I love you all and I look forward to hearing back next week!

Love,
Elder Zollinger

Goodbye City, Hello Bicylce! (June 9)

Hello again!

Hello from the beatiful Province of Buenos Aires! I hope that all is going well back home and that you guys are all doing good out there and loving the warmer weather. From what I have heard it sounds like all is well and life is just continuing on. Things are going great here as I continue to try and adjust to the change of scenery. I must say that working out in the Province is way different than working in the City, but it is the same great work none the less. This past week flew by as my companion and I worked very hard and had a ton of lessons with member present. We also found many new people to teach and now we are working hard with all of them to try and get them to keep their commitments. It is really something new for me to work on a bicycle... Haha needless to say my legs were a wreck this past week as we really did not walk or do near as much in the city. My area here is easily 4 times as big as my area was there and even there we took buses and subway to get between places most of the time. On the bright side I am not using as much as my monthly allowance on transportation so now I am buying even more food to eat every day haha. My companion is from Peru and they have amazing food there so today he made a dish called Arroz Chaufa, which is basically ham fried rice but even better! It was really really good. It is just rice, green onion, sliced hot dogs, scrambled eggs, and hamburger with some soy sauce. It is simple but great. I was so hungry and eager to eat that I forgot to take a picture of the huge plate I had until after I already ate it... haha woops sorry!
Other than that the other new adjustment is getting used to the dogs that seem to love chasing people on bikes haha. I almost forgot how many dogs there are out in the Province since the last time I was out here was around Christmas time. It is all good though they have not bitten me yet so I am still doing good :) The only thing that gets me is the rain mixed with the cold. It is still not too cold here but in the mornings it is around 40 degrees. During the day I would say it is in the 50s so not too bad I am just fine with my sweater. But when it rains nothing dries out because of the humidity so that is when it can get kind of annoying. Also all the biking around and preaching has made me really tired and when we get back at night I hardly can talk to my district and the zone leaders before I just rack out at 10:30. On the bright side I don´t think I hardly move until 6:30 when the alarm goes off in the morning :)
There is a brand new sister here in my district from Chile. She just finished here 12 days in the MTC then came here. Last night I talked to her and I asked her if she was happy and if she was enjoying her mission thus far. She said yes but it was not very convincing... so I asked her again and she said yes but that she was really tired from working all day. I just said, sister, welcome to the mission! Haha I really don´t understand it sometimes... I have no idea how I can be so happy and so tired at the same time... Sometimes I worry about that but then I just realize that it means I am working hard! Haha
Well other than that this week I will be having my first district meeting with my new district. I am not sure what I will talk about yet but I am sure I will talk about how to help the members understand the importance of the work and how to have more lessons with member. President Ayre has focused a lot on that lately and has said that as we strive to have more lessons with member we will start to see miracles in the work, so that is what we are doing!
Well there isn´t a whole lot going on out here all that exciting, unless you find saving souls exciting haha ;) which of course I do!!!! Haha anyway it is good to hear that everyone is doing well and that life is just continuing on back home in good old happy valley. The time just seems to keep flying by and it is getting hard to believe how fast two years can go. I am sure that as I keep working and learning and striving to help as many people as I can, it will just keep speeding up until the time rug just goes right out from under me and I find myself wondering where in the world it all went. I love this chance I have to serve a mission and to learn more about myself and more than anything to learn more about my Savior, Jesus Christ. I know and testify to all that He lives and love us, and that His hands are always outstretched to us in every part of our lives, we just have to let Him help us. Don´t worry too much if life is not going by easily, cause it was never meant to, if it did, we would go right back to the presence of God the exact same as we were when we left. Now what would be the point in that?! :)
Well that is about all that I have for this week. Thanks to all of you that have been keeping me updated about events back home and for sending your love and your prayers. You guys are the best! I love you all and have a great week!

Love always,
Elder Zollinger

June 9 (Pictures)

Here are some pics of the past few weeks. The first two are pics of reeces peanut butter cups that a member brought us back from the U.S. haha they dont make them here and I did not realize how much I miss them!!! The third is a picture of my first district as their district leader, as you can see Elder Stout is in the picture. The last picture is a pic I took randomly inside our new pension with my comp. Hope that you enjoy em. Love ya!!




Thursday, May 29, 2014

La Casa del Señor (May 26)

Hello All!

Here we are again at the beggining of another week in Argentina! Today was a very special day as we were able to go as a mission to the Buenos Aires temple again!!! As always it was an incredible experience and so spiritually renewing to be able to go through the House of the Lord. I absolutely love the Spirit that you can feel in the temple that you just cannot find in any other place in the world. I cannot express my love for the temple enough! It has been great because we went to the temple as a mission just 3 months ago, and in past years it has not been rare to never go to the temple your entire mission. So basically I hope that this is the start of a new trend in which my mission continues going to the temple every few months. If so, I will be a very happy missionary!! I think my favorite part of the temple is that it really helps to just put everything in life back into perspective and really helps us see what is really important in this life. Which is the Gospel and our families. It really just makes our problems seem so small and to be able to feel the Spirit and learn from the Lord.
Well this past week went by fairly well. We had many lessons with members this week but there was a big party in the villa on Saturday night and we had some problems getting people to come to church on Sunday. It was kind of frustrating to work so hard all week and then have so few people come to church, but it is all good and I know that the blessings will soon be coming! The work as district leader is going great. I love being able to serve and love the missionaries in my district. I have realized that as you testify to people your own testimony really grows. It is very true what in says in D&C that both the teacher and the student can be edified together. I have really enjoyed this past transfer and had my last district meeting this past week. We have interviews with the President this week so that will be taking the place of our district meeting. It is all good though cause President Ayre is a boss haha. This next week is also the last week of the transfer which went by way too fast. Therefore I will be writing on Tuesday, June 3, next week. I have no idea if I will stay in Juncal or leave but I am thinking that I will leave. I have been here over 4 months already and if I stay another transfer that will make it 6 months here. Even so it is not very rare to have at least one area in your mission that you stay in for 6 months or so. I guess we will see what the Lord has in store for me! That is one thing that I am sure of is that I will go wherever the Lord needs me :)
So I heard that Andrew Zilles comes back from his mission in Arizona this week. Obviously his homecoming will be in our ward but make sure to tell him welcome home for me and give him a hug! He always was a really good guy and I am really happy and proud of him. Wish him the best of luck for me as he gets adjusted to home life again!
I am so very gratefull for the chance that I have to serve a mission for the Lord. I know that there is no other place in the world that I should be right now that right here. Just like everything in life it has its ups and its downs but one thing that I have not been able to deny is the presence and hand of the Lord in every moment of my mission. Despite the opposition that exists in all things the work of the Lord just keeps on moving forward each and every day. Sometimes two years can seem like a very long time to be away from home, family, friends, and "normal" things such as a cell phone, tv, and facebook. But I have seen and learned that as you just focus on what you are doing and the importance of the message that we carry, all of those sacrifices begin to seem very very small compared with the greatness of the work and the multitudes of blessings that you recieve. As I have said before, the only way to truly get to know our Savior Jesus Christ is by serving Him, and there is no better way to serve Him than to give all that you have, all your time, talents, and abilities, to Him for 2 years as a missionary. I testify to all those that read this that He lives, He loves us, and that only in and through Him can we have real joy in this world or the next. Thank you all for your love and prayers, and messages from home and I wish you all a great week!

Love,
Elder Zollinger

P.S. I am attaching the only two photos that I took at the temple today... I kinda forgot to take more haha sorry! Also don´t forget that I will be writing on Tuesday next week!!


Pictures of Area 1

Well I thought that I might finally send some pictures of what the area that I work in really looks like. Haha I promise it is not near as bad as it looks, but we did have to figure out a tricky way to get Elder Adamson´s camera in without getting it stolen. Haha dont ask... Anyway here it is! I absolutely love the area and I will be so sad when I have to leave. I am also including a photo of a random dude from Masachusets that we found that smelled really bad haha he apparently is traveling all over the world just for the heck of it. Haha hippies....







Hey do you wanna get baptized this weekend? May 19

¡Hola!

This past week was great! We had the miracle of having two baptisms yesterday!!! It is a really cool story! So this last Tuesday we had the impression of visiting two kids named shandé and samir aged 10 and 11 years old. We have been teaching the kids for a while now but their parents never wanted them to get baptized, saying that they just didn´t think that it was necessary for their kids to do. Well anyway we followed the impression and went to their house to visit them. They came out and we started talking and the thought came to my mind that I should invite them to be baptized the next weekend. They had already said that they wanted to but their parents were the problem and without their signature, they could not be baptized. I invited them and they were very happy about saying yes but they fully realized that they still needed permission from their parents, especially their dad. Right in that moment however their dad walked by and I called him over and started talking to him. He had already said no to giving permission probably a few hundred times but this time I felt the distinct impression to talk to him about it. I honestly thought that this time would be just like all the other times that he said no but to my suprise his voice got very serious and said "you know, I have seen a change in my kids since you have been talking to them. They have changed a lot and yesterday they were begging me to let them be baptized. So you know, I cannot keep my children from following their hearts if I can see that they are serious about it." Needless to say we pulled out baptismal registries that we always have and he signed them right on the spot!!! The following week we worked on planning and preparing everything for the upcoming baptisms and yesterday they werea able to enter into that sacred covenant with God! It was incredible experience and it was really proof to me that we can truly be tools in the hands of the Lord to bring about the salvation of souls if we just let Him do it and listen to the voice of His Spirit.
Well that was basically the biggest thing that happened this week. Other than that the weather is continuing to cool off and I almost always wear a sweater now. It is still not too bad though. The ward is doing well and we are working hard to try and help out the ward leaders with things that they need. The members sure do keep us well fed around here with plenty of food so no worries there haha. This last week I was able to hold my first district meeting too! I thought that it was alright but of course everyone else said it was great. Haha I have no idea if they meant that or were just saying it to be nice. I talked a lot about the importance of giving a commitment to every single person that we teach. We ALWAYS invite people to keep a commitment that helps them to repent and come unto Christ whether they are an investigator, recent convert, less active, active member, or their pets. Every time we talk to someone we strive to leave them as a better person and with something to do that will help them be even better. If not, we are not completing our purpose as missionaries. I also talked to them about having a member present in every single lesson if it is at all possible. The members are key to missionary work so I don´t want to see any of you thinking that missionary work is only for missionaries or when I get home I am going to punch you haha. I know and can testify that members bring about miracles every single day in the mission field. If you are not already, just try to do something for the full time missionaries who are serving where you live, whether that is feed them, go out with them on visits, pass references, or just talk for a few minutes and encourage them. But most of all, PRAY FOR THEM! They need all the help they can get as we strive every day to bring about the salvation of souls. I will probably be having another distict meeting tomorrow but it will be the second and last one of the transfer because next week we have interviews with the mission president which takes the place of district meeting for the week.
I am not really sure what time I will be writing next week cause next Monday we will be going to the temple!!! I am so excited and seriously cannot wait to be able to go through the temple here. It is such a beautiful building and like I always say there is a Spirit in the temple that you can not ever feel in any other place in the world. So I am not sure if I will be writing on Monday or Tuesday or what. I am sure that we will be giving time at some point to write but just keep an eye out!
Well anyway I have to go now but I just want to end with my testimony of this work as always. One thing I am learning is that we never learn at our full potencial if we insist on not doing dificult things. If we just go around keeping life easy and not doing anything dificult because we dont want to go through the pain of doing it then we will never learn as much as we can. We learn through experience and trial, not through easy sleep and laziness. The mission thus far has been a very difficult but even more rewarding experience for me and I would not change it for the world. I absolutely love being in the service of my God. Just as the Apostle Peter, once we realize and understand our divine calling and potencial, there is no power or influence in the world that can stop us from serving our Father. It took him a lot of time and pain but once Peter came to that realization, he was one of the greatest witnesses of Christ that has ever been upon the face of the earth. I hope and pray that each of us can come to the same realization of our calling from on high to preach and testify of the Gospel of Christ to all the world, and to never give into or conform to any influence in the world. When God is with us, the significance and influence of man comes to naught. I am so grateful to be learning these things and I am so grateful for the amazing family and friends I have back home supporting me. Thanks for all that you all do and have a great week!

Love,
Elder Zollinger

Bye Bye Juncal! (June 3)

Fam and Friends,

Well as you can tell from the subject I have officialy been transfered out of Juncal! After almost 5 months there it was really sad to leave the area, the members, converts, and investigators that I had there but I am very excited to start a new page in my mission. My new area is called El Talar and it is out in the province of Buenos Aires, so I have left the city as well. It is a cool area and town. My friend Elder Stout started here and he loved it so I am ready to rock it here and have some great success. My companion´s name is Elder Vasquez and he is from Peru. Of my 6 companions this far in the mission he is the 5th latin! He is a really cool guy though and I am really excited to work with him. I think the biggest change is that just the two of us live in an apartment that is gigantic compared to my last one in which lived 4 elders. It is all good though and just another change that I have to get used to! I am also going to continue being a district leader which is going to be a lot of fun. This past transfer as a district leader was great and I love the position. I don´t know who is in my district yet but I am really excited to get to work and start helping them out.
My last week in Juncal was great. There was quite a bit change that occured there in the city. Before there were 3 stakes in the capital city of Buenos Aires but as of last week Elder Gonzalez the area president came and created a 4th stake!! Therefore this past week we had stake conference and basically all the wards in the city got shifted around between stakes. My ward moved from the Belgrano stake to the Congreso stake, which is the stake that I started in! Because of the shift and also the growth of the church in the city they added 2 new zones in the mission as well! One of the new zones is now headed out of my area and 2 zone leaders have taken my place there in Juncal. My companion was also shifted out of the area to another part of the same ward. It was a suprise but I am proud of my area to be able to be the head of the new zone and I know the 2 zone leaders who came in and they are great. One of them has already served there in Juncal so I hope that someday I can return to that ward just like he did! Anyway we had a great week teaching and finding new people. Nothing really all that excited happened, just working along and loving every minute of it. Mom has requested that I put more details on what we do each day in my emails but honestly with all the changes that are going on today I dont remember much of the details of this past week... So starting next week I will start doing that a bit better haha.
Anyways I just got back from playing soccer with about half the zone here. It is really a pretty nice place. It is weird being back out in the province of Buenos Aires after having served in the city so much. Of my 6 transfers so far in Argentina I have been in the capital 5 of them, so it is a big change for me. I also have a bicycle for the first time in the mission! It is so weird and I think that I have forgotten how to use a bicycle pretty much haha. I have already almost fell over like 3 or 4 times! But it is all good I will get used to all the changes fast. It turns out that my companion from one transfer ago, Elder Molina from Chile, is now my zone leader here! Haha it was really funny to figure that out and we are already having a good time being back together. It will be fun going on splits with him in the next few weeks, it will be just like the good old days!
Well anyways that is about all that I have for this week. A lot of changes in such a short time. This week will be a great one as I get used to working in a whole new sort of place and begin to enjoy all new experiences. I am sure that next week I will be writing with lots of funny stories and things to talk about. As always, I know that this church is true and the book is too :) I am so happy to be able to serve the Lord out here in the great Argentina Buenos Aires North Mission. Thank you all for all that you do, you are great. Keep up the love, support, and prayers, they are highly appreciated! Love you all!

Love,
Elder Zollinger

Happy Motherskype day! May 12 2014

Hello all!

Well first of all I would just like to say that is was great being able to see everyone in the family yesterday! It looked and sounded like everyone is doing well and that life is moving right along out there. I think that the biggest surprise was how big all the kids have gotten! Geez most of them have gotten huge! I am sorry that everyone had to wait a while to actually make the call though. I am glad that it all ended up working out though and that everyone was able to be patient and wait for me to finally do it! At least for me it felt like it was just yesterday that we were talking for Christmas so if the time between now and the next time we talk goes by just as fast we will be skyping again in no time!
 
Anyway this past week we had our annual mission tour by a general authority and we had the blessing of going to the mission offices in San Fernando to listen to the words of Elder Gonzalez of the Seventy who is also the South America South area president. It was a great experience and before the conference he insisted that all the missionaries come up and shake his hand personally. He was a really cool guy and talked a lot about "real growth" of the church. He basically said that we should be baptizing, retaining, and reactivating all at the same time and that if we did, the church would grow much faster than it is right now. He also talked a lot about our purpose as missionaries and what it means to have the authority to preach the Gospel of Christ. It was really a great meeting and I was blessed to be able to learn many things to help me be a better missionary for my Father in Heaven.

As far as investigators go this past week was a little rough. Everyone here is really quick to saying "yes" to all of the commitments that we extend them such as reading the Book of Mormon, praying, and going to church. However when the time comes to verify if they did what we asked or Sunday morning comes around, they almost always seem to have some sort of excuse or just simply did not do what we asked. It is very frustrating sometimes because the only thing we can do is teach by the Spirit and hope that they use their agency to chose to follow Christ and receive the blessings that He wants to give them. As such we had very few investigators in church this week and our baptism for the upcoming Sunday fell through. Add all of that up with the fact that the Sister in my district needed me to take her to the hospital and Sunday was a very stressful day for me as well. However it was great to be able to end it on a good note by talking with the fam!

Just a little bit about our area, right now I am still in the Juncal ward. I have been here for almost 4 months now and we still have 3 weeks until the next transfer. I think I will probably leave but it is possible that I will stay here for up to 6 months in total. I absolutely love this ward and I really would not complain to be asked to stay here a bit longer haha. Our apartment is in a richer part of the city but it itself is very small, especially for 4 elders. We have to take a bus each day to our area which is a very poor area next to the Retiro train station. It is a great area to work and almost everybody knows us as the Mormons there haha. Most people think that it is a somewhat dangerous area but as far as myself and my companions have seen we feel much safer there than we do in many other areas of the mission. Almost everyone who lives there is either from Peru, Bolivia, or Paraguay. Therefore we don´t eat much Argentine food unless we have lunch with a family who lives in the richer part of our ward. Peruvian food is awesome though so I am not complaining at all! It includes a ton of rice and chicken but it is incredible what they can do with that. What is the best though is that we have lunch basically every day with members so we are definitely eating well. As far as my favorite meal goes, I would have to say that my favorite Peruvian food is Arroz Chaufa, which is basically ham fried rice but instead of ham it has beef or chicken or both. My favorite Argentine meal would have to be an Assado, which is where we just eat a ton of meat haha. Most of the time it is sided with coca-cola and rice or pasta but basically it is just the meat haha.

Well other than that stuff everything else is going well. My comp and I are getting along great and he has a lot of motivation to work hard, which is the most important thing. My district is also doing well and having success. Sister Cipriano who got sick yesterday is feeling better but I will have to keep checking in on her to see if she needs anything. I am hoping that tomorrow they should be able to go out and work again. 

Well anyways this letter was a bit longer than usual but today it is raining so we won´t be doing much more than just writing and relaxing a bit. I just want to end with a thought that I had today during my personal study. In the MTC a speaker told us that the only way to become like our Father in Heaven and our Savior is to come to know Them. The only way to do that is to serve Them and let the Atonement of Jesus Christ take affect in you and in the people that you are serving. I have come to realize that as I have served my mission so far that I have come to have a love for the people here that is different than a love that comes from this world, it is a love for the welfare of their eternal happiness. When we come to know the purposes and designs of God we begin to see His love for us in a way we could never imagine, and then our heart comes to long that other people can feel and know the same things that you have come to feel and know. I still feel like I may have only scratched the surface of this knowledge of my Father in Heaven but even so it is a feeling that cannot be described to be an instrument in the hands of God in bringing about a small part His eternal plan. It is a feeling that impulses one to serve and glorify God for not just the rest of your life, but throughout the eternities. I hope that in their own way, every person can come to know our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ and lose themselves in Their service. I promise as an authorized representative of Jesus Christ in the earth, that as we do so the windows of Heaven will open and we will feel the full extent of our Father´s love for us. I love each and every one of you and thank you for your prayers and all that you do on my behalf. Have a great week!

Love,
Elder Zollinger

Some More Photos Real Quick -- May 5

I really need to get better at taking more photos, but this is what I have from the past few weeks. The Hulk mask is from the package that Shawna sent me and I used it cause the tuppers in the fridge had some really old stink food that we forgot that we had haha.
 



 

Mother's Day Eve! May 5

Hello all!

Well here we are on the 5th of May, which for me is already Mother´s Day Eve! That is because the next time I come back into communication with my family it will be by skype on Sunday! Whoo! I am really looking forward to seeing and talking with everyone and sharing experiences that I have been having lately. I will for sure be skyping on Sunday and should be making the call at about 11:30 in the morning Utah time so if anyone wants to talk, be in my house about that time! I should have about an hour to talk so it will be good. Those who want to talk need to be in my house though because last time I tried to call individual families and although it worked it took too much time and I had very few minutes to talk with everyone.
 
Well other than the upcoming semi-annual skype session all is going well here in the north mission. My companion and I are working hard and enjoying being together. He is a really good missionary and loves to work. It is so much easier when your companion is as motivated to work each and every day as you are for sure. Not saying that any of my other companions weren´t motivated, but this one is just really good with that! This week we really worked hard and taught a ton of lessons. In the end of the week we had ended up teaching 42 lessons with a member present, which by far was the best week of my mission with that. Basically we have really been trying to focusing on finding new people to teach who want to listen so we just took a member out with us and started trying to find opportunities to help others and teach them a bit. My area is actually a pretty easy area to find in, so we end up finding a ton and then just focusing on those who really want to progress. It is going well though and we should be having baptisms coming up in the next week or two. I am still working on my adjustment from junior companion to district leader, but all is going well there. I was able to go on companionship exchanges for a day with the zone leaders and I really did learn a ton from them. They are great missionaries and really know how to work as effectively as possible so I basically just went out with them and took as many notes as possible. 
 
 This week we will be focusing on having even more lessons and finding the people that the Lord and His Angels are preparing to accept His Gospel. It is truly an incredible experience to see someone listen to and accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a lot of work though and every day we get back to the apartment exhausted. Sometimes it is really hard to not fall asleep, especially in and right after lunches haha. It is all good though and as we pray for the physical and spiritual energy to get through the day we are always able to do everything that we had planned to do. It is incredible to see the Hand of the Lord in this work each and every day as He guides us in what we do, say, and where we go.
 
Everything else is also going very well! This week we will have a mission conference in the offices in San Fernando. Elder Gonzalez of the 70, who is also the area president, will be coming and talking to us. We are all very excited to head up there and listen to what a general authority has in store for us! It is always a good experience to listen to and be taught by men such as him with all their Gospel knowledge and experience. We also were told this past week that we will be going to the temple again this month!!! We will be heading down for a session on the 26th, so in 3 weeks. We are all extremely excited for that opportunity!! Usually you only get to go to the temple once or twice in your entire mission, including the session that you do the last week of your time in the field, and since new years this will already be our second visit as a mission! I am really excited and hope that this is a new trend in the north mission. I receive so much spiritual strength from going to the House of the Lord. I will let you know how that goes in a few weeks!
 
Well that is really about all that I have for this week. I just want to testify that this work is true and that the Lord is at the head of it. I have seen many lives change in my few months in the mission as they accept the Savior´s love for them and live His Gospel. I am so grateful for all of you and for your prayers on my behalf. For those of you who are praying for me, if you could start adding my investigators and companion to your prayers that would be great! Thanks for all that you all do for me and I love you all. Have a great week and I will see some of you this Sunday on skype!

Love always,
Elder Zollinger

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Let the HOLY SPIRIT Guide (April 28, 2014)

¡Hola!

Well here we are again with another week down in Argentina. This week was really crazy and it went by incredibly fast. I really think it is because me new assignment as a district leader keeps me way busier than I ever thought that it would! It really is a great assignment though and I am very blessed to have some really great missionaries in my district!
 Basically what my job entails is keeping track of the numbers and progress of three companionships. Each night they call me to let me know their numbers for the day and then we talk about what they were able to do and what I can do to help them in their personal progress as well as the progress of their investigators. I then basically just talk with the zone leaders about what I can see and what they all need and then the information just keeps getting passed up.
 Another thing that I am now able to do is baptismal interviews, which I did my first one this week! It was honestly the most spiritual experience of my life. I was able to interview a man named Olas who is only like 14 days younger than me to see if he was prepared to be baptized. It is such a sacred experience to be able to stand in as a representative of the church and of Jesus Christ and judge by the Spirit if one of the children of God is ready to enter into that sacred covenant with Him. It was amazing and I am glad to say that he was more than ready to enter into the waters of baptism. I have honestly never felt such joy as I did when I was able to tell him with all certainty of heart that the Spirit had confirmed to me his readiness. I will always remember that moment! Even if I never see him again in this life I am sure that some day I will see him in the Kingdom of God and rejoice at his presence there!
Other than that this first week of the transfer went by very well. We were able to find plenty of new people to teach but the problem was that not many of them could attend church this week. We will be working really hard with them all this week and hope to see them all come to church this next week. Also one of my converts from my first transfer here will be getting her patriarchal blessing this week! I am really excited for her and she is progressing so well. She has been assigned as a visiting teacher and also as a teacher in the Primary. I am so happy to see her studying and learning and progressing in the Gospel of Christ. That is really why were are here, to find those people who are going to LIVE this Gospel and help build up the Kingdom of God in their own way.
My companion is also really cool. I said that last week he was from right outside of Rio but I guess that was a lie as he is from Sao Paulo. He is a really good Elder though and he loves to work hard, which is the most important thing. Every night when we get back to the apartment we get right to planning and then he fills out teaching records and fixes appointments while I call the district to see how their days went. We have been working really hard together and are already good friends. I have told him that I want to go visit Rio with Bean during the Olympics there and he said that he will head over there and meet up and we can have a good old time haha. He is a really good guy and I am lucky to have him as my comp especially as I try to figure out this whole district leader thing.
Well there really isn´t a whole lot more going on around here, just working, teaching, and loving every minute of it. I have grown really close to the families in this area and it will be hard when I have to leave but I am sure that it will be all good and that I will head on to where the Lord needs me next. Today for Pday we are going to play soccer as a zone so I really don´t have much time to write. I hope that I don´t get wrecked as much as I usually do though haha. I am bad at soccer as it is and then when you put me in with a bunch of Latinos it just makes me look even worse haha. I guess we will see!
As the subject says I have really learned lately how we just need to let the Holy Spirit guide us in our lives. He knows exactly what we need to do and how to do it, and sometimes we just need to listen. I know that especially this past week I had no idea what to do or say in some moments but I also know that every time that I needed help all I had to do was listen and the Spirit helped me know exactly what I needed to do or say exactly what I needed to say right in the moment that I needed it. It is really cool to see the promises of God being fulfilled as I am working in His work here in Argentina. I have come to love this work and I really am enjoying it. I know and testify that if we just give up ourselves and just try to do the will of the Lord that everything will work out just the way that it needs to. As always I keep all of you in my prayers each and every day and I only ask that you all keep up the prayers on my behalf because they work! Thank you all for all that you do for me and I love you! Have a great week!

Love always,
Elder Zollinger

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Staying Put! (April 22, 2014)

Hello all,

Well today is Tuesday and we had our transfer calls last night and the changes and Pday today. I am going to be staying here in Juncal another transfer which is great because I love this area. My companion has gone up to zone leader and left to go take over a zone out in the Province of Buenos Aires. When the President asked called to tell him about the change last night he asked to talk to me as well. He then told me that I would be staying here and taking over the area as the senior companion. I didn´t really know what to say but I was really happy for the chance to be able to serve and use what I have learned so far to help out my junior comp. He then said that he had been praying a lot and that he felt that I needed to go straight up to district leader as well... that is when I just started to laugh because I had no idea what to say haha. I am really excited and so humbled that the Lord has enough confidence in me to take me straight from junior comp to district leader but I honestly dont think that I have any idea what I am doing right now haha. I guess that is what the Lord wanted though, cause this is the best chance I have had in my life to rely completely on Him cause without him I would have no idea what to say to my investigators, companion, or my new district. I guess that you could say I am a bit nervous, but like I said I have complete confidence that the Lord knows exactly what he is doing right now haha.
Anyways beyond the transfers this past week went by well and fast. We are continuing to work with some investigators and helping them progress. Right now we are more in the finding phase of things as we try to expand our teaching pool but that is fine as it gives my new companion and I the chance to start of the transfer the way we want. I am really excited to see what we can do together this transfer! My new comps name is Elder Costa and he is from Brazil, just outside of Rio de Jenero! He has about 6 months in the mission and is a stud. His Spanish is good but he still is learning cause of course they speak Portugese there in Brazil. He is teaching my Portugese and I am teaching him English as we both learn Spanish together. He is a really good guy and I think we will get along great and work extremely well together. I am very happy that my first junior comp is one of the best in the mission!
I am sorry but I am a little short on time today so this letter is going to have to be a little shorter than usuall. All things are going well here in the the beautiful city of Buenos Aires. The weather is continually starting to cool off and some days I have to wear my sweater, although I love the cold
One of my best friends from West Point, Elder Brent Stout, is my zone leader now! He is such a stud and is having a ton of success here in his mission and as such has been called by the Lord to help teach the grand Belgrano zone a little more about how to be better missionaries. I am really excited and happy for him and I will be going on companionship splits with him in the next few weeks to show him my area. It is going to be a great time working with him I am certain!
Well anyways that is about all I have for this week as I have to get going but thank you all for all that you do for me and I love you all to death. I am so blessed to have such great family and friends behind me! I keep you all in my prayers each and every week. I just want you all to know that I know without a doubt that this church is true and that Jesus Christ did indeed rise from the dead and that HE LIVES!!! I am so gratefull for the Easter season and when you have a moment think and ponder for a moment the significance of the empty tomb for us. The Savior loved us enough to lie down his life and then take it again so that all of us will live again as well. I am so gratefull for him and for the perfect love he has for each and every one of us. Without him, we would be nothing but lost. I love you all and have a great week!

Love always,
Elder Zollinger

Friday, April 18, 2014

Hey All (April 14, 2014)

Friends and Fam,

Well here we are again in another Pday in beautiful Buenos Aires Argentina! This week was great! We were blessed to have the confirmations of Lorena and David who were baptized last week during general conference. As always it went great and I love them and their whole family to death! Now we are working with the last brother in the family to be baptized as well. We are also working with Nahuel, who was baptized a few weeks ago, so that he can get the Aaronic Priesthood and baptize his little sister who will be turning 8 in a few weeks. She will be a ward baptism but to us it is all the same work so we are working on it and plan for it just as if it was a convert baptism. We have also been working hard with some other families and hopefully we will be able to have 2 more baptisms this weekend. They will be two brothers ages 10 and 11 who really want to get baptized, but their parents have yet to sign off on the idea. We have worked with their parents as well but they are not married and the mom is actually married to another man in Bolivia... sadly enough that situation is not uncommon. We are hoping that if the kids get baptized and remain active with the help of some members that live nearby they will be able to help their parents through the process of repentance and entering into that covenant with God as well. There are also other families we are working with but most of them really like to sleep... especially on Sundays! Haha but it is ok we will try as hard as we can to help them realize the importance of the message we bring.
Well I actually just got back from the President´s house as I am writing. He invited 2 zones over to his house for a BBQ for Pday. It was great! Somehow I got put in charge of cooking all the burgers though... haha I think that it went well and nobody complained! I just hope that I don´t hear of anybody going to the hospital for food poisoning in the next few days! Anyways it was great to see some of my friends from the mission and talk to the President along with his wife for a while. We also looked at some photos of when we got here on his absolutely gigantic flat screen tv haha. It was overall a really good time and I am so lucky to have President Ayre as my mission president. Him, Sister Ayre, and all his family are such a great blessing to this mission. I honestly couldn´t see me serving in any other place in the world!
The past couple of days it actually got really cold. I actually love it though because it is the first time I have been cold in such a long time! I basically went through my whole summer there at West Point as a squad leader for beast barracks and then the MTC and then when I got here it was going into summer on this side of the world. So while the world was frozen over up north I was walking in the 100+ degree heat! Needless to say I was so happy to break out the sweaters! I am not sure how long that excitement will last though as I have heard that it actually gets very cold here during the winter... I guess that we will find out!
Well this week is the last week of this transfer. I will be finishing my second transfer here in Juncal. My companion is finishing his third transfer here but it is not uncommon to stay in an area for four transfers so we have no idea which one of us might leave. For some reason I have the feeling that I will be leaving even though the more likely outlook is that my companion will leave. I guess we will be finding out soon enough though!
 Also my second trainer, Elder Kuetell, goes home at the end of this transfer. He was a great trainer so I will be going to his farewell at the mission offices this next Sunday. I was with him when he went into his last 6 months in the mission so it is kind of weird to see him heading home. As I say a lot time flys by way too fast. There were a lot of people from my group at the President´s house today and one of them mentioned that today we complete 8 months in the mission. I didn´t even notice but I guess it is true! Not too mention I feel like the weeks have shrunk by at least 2 days since I got here. The saying is so true that days may be long but weeks are short in missionary work!
Well I guess I thought that I might make it back in time to see my friends´ weddings but that just failed as Marshall Bassett just got engaged haha. I am really happy for him though and I wish him and his fiancé the best of luck. I guess it is what I get for going to West Point for two years though!
Anyways I guess that is about all I have for this week. I have just really been trying to push myself harder to be the best servant of God that I can be. I know that this chance to serve Him full time is not going to last forever, and I know that I need to use it to the fullest. I am so blessed to be able to serve here in Buenos Aires North right now. I am so gratefull to my Father in Heaven that I have this responsibility and blessing to go forth and preach His Gospel. There is no greater duty nor blessing in the world. I have learned and experienced so much in just the 8 months I have thus far and I am looking forward to the even greater things I have yet still to learn in the time that I have left. As always I am also very gratefull for all the great family and friends that I have back home and also the few that are left in their missions supporting me and praying for me! I love you all so much and thank you for everything! Have a great week and keep the faith!


Love always,
Elder Zollinger


Elder Zollinger and other Elders at Buenos Aires Temple in February









Thursday, April 10, 2014

Pictures of Tory and Friends (April 7, 2014)

Here are some pictures from the past week. I forgot to mention it, but we went to a gun museum last pday haha. It was sick! It had some really cool stuff in it. We also went to lunch as a group of Elders in my zone. I only have one picture for now from the baptism yesterday cause my camera was acting weird. I will get more to you later! Love ya!








I Love General Conference (April 7, 2014)

Hello all!

I just want to start off by saying how much I love General Conference! We are so blessed to have the opportunity to listen to Apostles, Prophets, and servants of God every few months. It is really funny how excited us as missionaries get about General Conference. We were all looking forward to it this past week and we were all so excited when the first session began. It is also pretty stressfull because we know that all of our investigators need to get there and see it!!! There is just a spirit that you can feel watching General Conference that you don´t get any where else. The talks during this past conference were definitely inspired and it is great how even when the general authorities are talking to the entire world, the Spirit makes it seem as though they are talking right to you. I recieved a ton of personal revelation through the talks given that will help me to be a better missionary as well as a better person and son of God. I hope that everyone back home had the chance to listen to all the sessions of conference and if you didn´t, then watch or read them!! There are so many ways to listen or read the talks now that there is not much of an excuse to not listen to what the Lord has prepared for us to hear at this moment. One of the things that hit me the most is when they talked about the handbook Preach My Gospel as a handbook for all members, not just missionaries. I add my testimony along with those of the Apostles that everyone should buy and read a copy of Preach My Gospel and then apply the teachings to what we do every single day. As the Prophet Joseph Smith said, our most important duty as members of the Church of God is to preach the Gospel!! I know that if we all read that and apply its teachings, the Lord will guide us to those who need the Gospel and we will be better able to work with the full time missionaries and together bring more souls unto Christ! There were way too many great talks to talk about them all, but I just hope that everyone can find some time throughout the next few days or weeks to listen to, take notes on, an apply the teachings of God that we given these last few days.

We were extremely blessed to have 2 baptisms this weekend as well! We had the service in between sessions on Sunday. The service was for Lorena Ortiz and her son, David Fasanaro. I was able to baptize David and it was great! I am so blessed to have been able to help them accept the Gospel and see their lives change as they have done so. I remember when we first started talking to Lorena a few weeks ago she told us that she had seen us talking with someone a few days earlier and she felt the impression to talk to us. However, she said to herself that if we truly were servants of God and it really was His will, that we would come to her house and teach her. A few days later both Elder Molina and I had the impression to talk to a young woman riding her bike (Maria), who ended up being her niece. When we went over to her house to teach her, we met Lorena and began teaching her in earnest soon after the baptism of Maria a few weeks ago. Lorena´s oldest son, Nahuel, was baptized and confirmed this last weekend and she was able to attend which really touched her heart. She is an amazing woman and single mother and I don´t believe that I have had a convert yet in the mission that has been quite so ready or happy for their baptism as she was. It was truly a great blessing to take part in this great change in her life. We will be having their confirmation this next Sunday and I will be confirming her as Elder Molina confirms David. I am so grateful to my Father in Heaven for the chance to serve him and be able to perform sacred, saving ordinances. I will keep you all updated on how they progress and I will send pictures in another email!
This past week we also had zone conference with President Ayre in the mission offices. You know, at first I was kind of upset that my mission was so small in terms of land area, but now I realize just how much of a blessing it is. We are always in contact with the President and offices and if we ever have to get there it is never more that 2 hours away. It is also great to be able to keep in touch with friends in the mission. Anyway we had a great conference and President Ayre along with his wife and the assistants taught us a lot of stuff to help us improve as missionaries. He focused a lot on helping the wards with retention. He said that this mission baptizes so much that sometimes it is hard for the wards to keep up with retention efforts. There is no good to helping people come unto Christ through baptism if they do not endure to the end!
The weather this past week was humid and rainy. The temperatures are still cooling off but the humidity is keeping it hot for me. I got soaked through probably 3 or 4 times this week but it is all good it is just water! I just keep rotating my shoes on the fan to dry them out and get them wet haha. I have heard that this week the weather will cool off more though and the rain will stop for a few days. I guess we will have to see!
Well between the baptisms, zone conferences, and general conferences this week was really really busy. I am excited to see what the Lord has in store for us this week and the rest of this transfer. This transfer ends on April 22 so we have just a few weeks left. I have no idea what is going to happen this transfer, anything can go down. Both my companion and myself have time in this area so either one of us can leave or stay. I am not too worried about it right now though there is still time to keep working before that comes! I really do love this mission though. Even though it is difficult in many ways I am definitely blessed to be here. I love being able to help people to come unto Christ and see the change that comes in their lives through his power and atonement. Just like was said in conference, the load that the challenges and difficulities of life actually give us the traction to continue on and progress. Without a load or something to weigh us down a bit, we would just spin out and get stuck. That is how I have come to be gratefull that the mission and life in general is not easy, because if it was I would never learn anything! I just hope that when challenges, difficulties, or problems come to us in this life we can all realize their real potential to help us progress and not as something to hold us back.
Well I just want to sign off for this week with my testimony of the reality that we have living Prophets and Apostles in the Earth today. They have spoken this last weekend and all we have to do is listen and apply their words and we will be blessed beyond all measure. Those men truly are men of God and inspired by him to lead us today. They have his authority to be where they are and say what they say. They are no ordinary men. If anybody out there has any doubt to whether Thomas S. Monson is a Prophet of God and the Quorum of the Twelve are indeed Apostles of the Lord, then listen or read their words and pray about it! God cannot lie. He will answer your prayers because he has answered mine! All you have to do is study, pray with faith that you will recieve, and then be willing to act upon your answer. I have seen this process work in me and in those around me, and I will forever serve and praise my Father for it. I love you all and am so blessed to have you all as my family and friends. Thank you all for what you do for me and I hope that you all have a great week!

Love always,
Elder Zollinger

P.S. Donovan Gualtier comes home this week from his mission in Singapore on the 10th! If you can go to his homecoming and give him a welcome home hug for me! Thanks!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Pictures Elder Zollinger Sent (March 30)

Chalk drawing by a Sister

Baptism of Nahuel


Tory being Tory

Tory looks really tired...haha

Maria's baptism


Elder Zollinger an Elder Molina


Elder Critchlow with Tory's broken bed....Tory said when it broke he thought he was going to die...lol

Nice hat Tory

¡Hola! (March 30)

Hello all!

Well here we are again with another week down in the good old mission. First of all we were able to have a baptism this past week! His name is Nahuel and he is the cousin of Maria who we baptized a few weeks ago. He is 17 years old and such a cool kid. He was baptized on Saturday and then I confirmed him on Sunday. He accepted everything we taught so fast and although it took 2 weeks to get him to wake up in time we finally got him to go to church the past few weeks haha. He is awesome and we were so happy to be able to have his baptism. He even had a competitive soccer tournament on Saturday that he skipped to come be baptized. 
 
One funny note is that there are two soccer clubs that are huge here in Buenos Aires. One is called the Boca Juniors and the other is called River Plate, and they are both HUGE rivals. His entire family are fans of Boca and he is the only one who is a fan of River, who is my favorite team as well. Last night we went to his house to fill out the baptismal registry and River and Boca were playing each other. River ended up winning on a last second goal and he was running around the house screaming while his entire family was basically crying. He ran over to me and we did the River chant and it was hilarious! Anyway it was all fun and games and his mom even made some popcorn for us while we filled out the registry. His mom also came to his baptism Saturday and afterwards she told us that she is 100% going to be baptized this next Sunday in between sessions of General Conference in the stake center! She also wants to get baptized with her other son who is Nahuel´s brother but he would have to come on Saturday to General Conference as well so he could be baptized on Sunday. We will see how that goes! We are also working with the rest of the family and are looking foward to more baptisms in the coming weeks! We are being very richly blessed with success and loving every minute of it!
 
Well besides the baptism this week was just good in general! Nothing crazy really happened but we are still just working along and having a good time. This week we are halfway through this transfer and it is really hard to believe. This transfer is flying by! Unfortunately our Zone missed beating the zone monthly baptismal record by 2 baptisms... we were pretty sad about that. But this next week our zone is looking forward to 7 baptisms so it looks like we might be able to give it another run this month! Besides that if Elder Molina and I end up baptizing the rest of Maria and Nahuel´s family that will be like 5 more at least so we have a pretty good chance! Usually when you break the record the whole zone goes to the temple together but there are transfers right at the end of April and I may end up leaving the area. I really don´t want to leave I love my area right now but I will go where the Lord needs me. I do feel really blessed to have been able to come here though!
 
The weather has continued to cool off this past week. Thursday night there was a downpour and we got soaked completely through again. It also rained Sunday morning which always makes it much harder to try and get your investigators to come to church but it was ok because I just gave them my umbrella and let them stay dry while I got wet. It was fun actually and I didn´t even mind! It is cool to see how much joy you can get from serving others! Besides even though it is cooling down here it is still perfect for me and the rain is warm so it ends up being fun more that anything. The time I spent at West Point during summer training helped me a lot not to even care about getting wet as well. Nothing in the mission can be as bad or as wet as some of the stuff that happened there haha.
 
Anyway I am glad to hear that everyone back home is still doing well and that the weather is heading right into spring. I always loved this time of the year as the weather gets much better and summer starts coming into view. I guess everything here is backwards as far as the seasons go which is still so weird to me haha. I don´t know if I will ever get used to it or I am sure that if I do it will be right as I am about to head home and then I will have to adjust all over again! That seems to be how life works a lot, right when you get comfortable with a change it all changes over again!
 
Anyways as always I just want to end with my testimony of how important this work is and that the church is true. It is the best thing ever to see the changes that come in the lives of people as they accept Christ and His Gospel. I love serving my brothers and sisters here in Buenos Aires and would not give it up for the world. Just like life, the mission is difficult but well worth it. I am so glad to have such great fam and friends back home praying for and supporting me! Thank you for all that you all do and as always just keep on keeping on! Keep the faith and fight the good fight! And remember, when we are doing all we can to keep the commandments and follow Christ, nothing is impossible! I love you all and look forward to hearing from you next week! Have a good one!

Love,
Elder Zollinger

Feliz Cumple Papá y Feliz día de San Patricio! (March 17)

Hola all!

First of all I would just like to do a shout out to my pops who had his Bday yesterday, hope that it was a great one! Love you Dad! Also Happy Saint Patty´s day today! I am indeed wearing a green tie all day today haha. There really isnt anyway here who does much today but it is fun anyway!
Well here we are again after another great week here in the great Buenos Aires North Mission! We had another fun and successful week here as we were able to confirm Maria who we baptized this past week! This week we really started working hard with her family and we have put baptismal dates with 6 of her brothers and cousins. Only one of them was able to come to church this past week so we had to push their dates back a week but they are still looking good to do it this transfer which will be great. My zone is looking to break the record for baptisms in a month here and we are only like 7 away. My comp and I should be able to have one more the last weekend of the month so hopefully that will help the zone break the record! If we do we might be able to go to the temple as a zone!!!! Haha you know that you are a missionary when everyone is working as hard as possible so that we can gain the reward of going to the temple :). 
 
Anyway we have also been having a lot of fun together here with the other two Elders in the ward. We all still live together so it makes for a good time. This morning one of the other Elders cut his foot pretty keep on a random piece of wood we have leaning against my bed and we pulled a chunk of wood out of the cut and he was bleeding everywhere. Haha we were all laughing, including him, as I pulled out my first aid kit and used my first aid stuff I learned at West Point save his life! It actually ended up not being that bad and stopped bleeding pretty quick. I went out and bought some wrap and used some antiseptic and non stick pads and wrapped it up for him. It reminded me of that time at west point when I tore all the skin off of my heels and Bean had it all wrapped up for me haha. He is all good though and we will keep an eye on it. The mission nurse is in our zone and will take a look at it today too.
 
Other than that stuff there really wasn´t anything big that happened this week. We did get soaked to the bone a few days ago. We were eating lunch when it started to rain a ton and of course we did not have our umbrellas. We had to go to the chapel for a meeting so we went to the bus stop but there were no buses running that day so we had to take the subway and then walk like 10 blocks to the chapel. After that we walked to the apartment and then we had to walk like 45 minutes in the downpour to our area to start working again cause of course the buses were still not running. Needless to say we were completely soaked. One thing I learned is that waterproof shoes are only great until you get so wet that you still get water in them. At that point the waterproofing only serves to keep all the water inside your shoes if you are lucky enough to have it stop raining haha. At the end of the day it finally let up and as we were walking back to the apartment my comp said that he thought it might start raining again. I looked at him and said nah I don't think so it has stopped for the day. Sure enough about 30 seconds later there was a thunder crack and it started raining even harder than before. Haha oops... my comp just kept repeating "No no I don't think it will rain any more" over and over again all the way home. Hahaha my bad....
 
We also had a cool experience with the Aunt of Maria, our recent convert. We were talking with her sons when she came in and we invited her to sit down. We taught her about the Gospel of Jesus Christ (lesson 3) and when we invited her to be baptized she started to cry and said that she would for sure. She then explained to us that she had seen us in the street a few weeks ago and said to herself that if it is the will of God and if their church is true, then they will come to my home and invite me to follow Christ. It just so happens that our baptismal invitation is "Will you follow the example of Jesus Chirst and be baptized by someone holding the Priesthood authority of God?" I guess when she heard that the spirit testified to her that it was an answer to her prayers and that this is exactly what she needs to do. She has some problems that we need to help her with first but there is another recent convert in our area that is a perfect member friend for her, so she will be going with us to visit her this week. We are really excited to see how it all goes!
 
Anyway it sounds as though everyone back home is having a good time and working hard. One of the best lessons I have learned on the mission is the principle of hard work and the blessings you can receive from it. I learned a lot about how to work hard at West Point but I have learned more here about why I should work hard here in the mission. It is incredible to see how much we can learn when we give up our lives in the service of the Lord. One other principle I am learning is the principle of planning. Not just planning big things far in the future but also taking time to plan your next day, week, or month. Sometimes it is bad to look too far ahead because it can distract from what you are doing in the moment but if you can find the right balance you will be able to use all the limited time we have to be as productive and efficient as possible. And when we do that we can do more for others and for the Lord than we could if we are just scrambling around wasting time. This life is short and we hardly have enough time to spend with those we love and prepare ourselves to live with our Father for eternity. 
 
Another thing I have really started to feel is the pure love that our Father and Jesus Christ have for us. They really do love each of us individually and perfectly. They are extremely patient with us and only ever want what is best. They cry when we cry and they are happy when we are happy and have success. Our Father only wants us to be able to come back and live with him, and he is so happy when we personally decide to follow the teachings of His son and also when we can help others do that as well. I testify that He is always watching and willing to bless us in every moment, we just have to accept the sacrifice and love of His son and keep His commandments and we will be able to have joy in this life and exaltation in the life to come. I am so happy to be able to make this small sacrifice to serve our Father and His son for two years and I am so blessed to have such great family and friends back home supporting me always. I love you all and keep you all in my prayers daily. Thank you for everything and I look forward to hearing about how things are going next week. Have a good one!

Love,
Elder Zollinger