Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Let the HOLY SPIRIT Guide (April 28, 2014)


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 fiancĂ© 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!