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!

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


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!

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!

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!

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