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Monday, October 25, 2010

News from Mendoza Argentina!

Familia y Amigos!!

Well I finally made it here to Argentina!!Getting here was absolutely crazy. I think there were about 13 missionaries and most of them had never been on a plane. On the plane to Buenos Aires almost all the people spoke Spanish so it was pretty fun practicing with people and trying to understand everyone. It was tough though because I was the only one who was in the intermediate class at the MTC and I'm not that great at the language, but they counted on me to translate for everyone haha. The church representative there in Buenos Aires didn´t speak any English whatsoever so they all looked at me to communicate with him. I swear it was a miracle that we made it here to Mendoza in one piece!! The airport was crazy and when we arrived we had to take a bus for about an hour to another airport in Buenos Aires where we hit a connecting flight to Mendoza. Lets just say it was a very stressful time, but oh what a relief it was to see President and Sister Lindahl waiting for us at the terminal.

Getting there was definitely one of those small little miracles that the Lord blesses us with. And that my luggage made it there too holy cow!! There was some mix up with that in Buenos Aires so it was pretty lucky that it made it. So ya we got there, and threw our luggage in a big van and took another van to the mission office about 20min away. All the AP´s (Assistants to the President) were there helping us every step of the way and they are so nice and awesome. I hope I can be a missionary like that someday. Oh actualy they took our luggage to the mission office and the 13 of us went to President and Sister Lindahls house for a big argentine dinner. It was so good!! I mean mom´s lasagna is way better than the one I had, but Mendoza is known for its fresh fruit and I had a ton of that! Also the dulce de leche is basically amazing but I think that is going to be a treat when I get that haha. After dinner Pres Lindahl talked for about five min and we went to an apartment where the thirteen of us slept in a room about the size of our living room. It was fine, because I slept really well because I was so dang tired!! I barely slept on the plane ride that was about 10 hours... The flight to Mendoza was about 1 and a half. So that was nice.

The next day we walked back to mission office and started all of our orientation stuff. I had to get a card that legalized me so we went and did that at the mall which took about three hours. We were preped on basically everything like money(we get 550 pesos a month, and 44 for transportation, but if we go over on transportation they reimburse us.) We use a mission credit card so ya. So then I had about a 7 mi interview with the President. He he a great and very kind man. Very humble and gentle but also blunt and tells it how it is. Basicaly he told us that the first four or five months will be the hardest in our lives, because of the language and getting used to the country and everything, but he said once you make it through that it all gets better. He put me with my companion Elder Morinico who is an Argentine native. He is what they call on a mission a latigwo(not spelled right.) Meaning Spanish was his first language but that he can speak english as well. He lived in Miami from 2001-2006. So thats nice to have a companion that can really help me out. He is an awesome missionary and is willing to work hard. He has a lot of wisdom so I am learning a ton each and every day. The day I met him we took a Taxi to our area which is about 20 min from the mission home in the province of Mendoza still. The area is called ¨Rodeo de la Cruz. Its a great area. I don't know how I would describe it probably like a small Latino/European Oakland. Its very poor here but its just different. I'm not quite sure how to explain it. I love it though! We live with two other Elders, Elder Aparcana, and Elder Arrua. The first is from Peru and the second is from Uraguay. Its tough because they only Speak Spanish, but its definitely going to benefit me in the longrun. They are so nice and kind though, and they are very loving and hard working missionaries. You can see the Spirit in them and my companion which is the greatest comfort.

So we got to this area and what we are doing is called washing it. Basicaly that means that the other two Elders left and we just have the area book of the progress. SO we have been spending a lot of time getting to know the members and trying to figure out the area. The members are so nice here to, but I realy hope we can get their help a little bit more. We don´t have anything to work with right now, because the past Elders were working a ton with the Less Active members.

Ya, but we are working hard. I have never seen this type of poverty before. It is humbling to know how much I am realy blessed I can´t say how thankful I am. The people have usually a kitchen and a living room connected about the size of the corridor between my room and the other bathroom in our house. Its all cement, and they usually have a really run down table with all different types of chairs. They are willing to give you food and care for you though. Its very humbling to see. There are definitely areas I would call the ghettos, but i never really feel nervous or scared when I am there, it is a fine place to be.

Its funny when we go places and shop and stuff most of the music is american haha. When I was at the Supermercado today I heard´Love Story by taylor Swift, Guns and Roses, Lady Gaga and some other people. It was weird because I didn't think I would hear that for another couple years lol. The food is different. Milk comes in bags and cereal is more expensive here. What the meal system is is that we have a cereal in the morning, a big lunch with the members (yesterday it was pollo y pan, chicken and bread (It was good)) and then we work until 930 and usually have some more cereal or leftovers for dinner. It's different but Im not too worried about gaining weight here. We walk about five miles or so a day so ya we definitely burn some calories haha. And we do little work outs in the morning.

The language... Well the language really isn´t going too bad. I can usually say what I want to say and every day I have been blessed with being able to understand a little more of what is being said. I can usually get the jist of what is being said but not all the intricacies. Some days are harder to understand than others. Their accent here is a lot harder to pick up too because the ll makes a y sound in most spanish, but in Argentina is makes a SHA sound. I have been trying to use it more name. For example there is a family named the Cuellos and it is pronounced Kweshos. Its weird but it flows realy well. Seriously everyone here sounds like they are Italians with that stong accent. Also everyone thinks that I am one of them because of my skin tone and my last name. Most people down here are italians so I like that and feel comfortable with that! Also they say that when I speak I don't sound like a Norteamericano, so that has been a blessing. If my mind is working and I am speaking right they say I sound like I could be from Buenos Aires so that has been a huge blessing. Its incredibly difficult I'm not going to lie about that, but with patience, hard work, diligence, and faith in myself and mostly in my Savior I will learn and speak Spanish well!! Its frustrating sometimes but its just all part of the plan.

I miss everyone a lot, its hard being so far away, but luckily I know why I am here and who I represent. I promise to be obedient and diligent and work hard to earn the repsect of the people, the mission and ultimately the Lord. I'm sure I will think of more to say later haha. Luckly we get more time to write emails here than in the MTC. I loved the MTC by the way. It was phenominal! The mission is very hard work, but everytime the Lord had to do something it wasn't exactly easy, and especialy his atonement. Salvation isn´t a cheap one time experience. It is a life of labor and loving the labor of the Lord. It is the enduring to the end which will get us there as long as we have already focused on the others first pricipals of the Gospel. I love the country here and the people here. (U.S. I love more though!!) haha. But Im grateful for this amazing opportunity to serve the people here. I have faith that it will be amazing and it already has been. I love you all I can't wait to hear from you soon!! Oh btw if you want to email me and you aren´t in my family just email my family and tell them to send it to me. I'm sure they will because we aren't really supposed to open emails from others. But if it goes through my parents or sister first its totally fine! I love you all! God bless you!!

Elder Brian Passantino

Friday, October 22, 2010

Brian Arrives in Argentina-President and Sister Lindahl and first companion Elder Morinico

Brian Made it to Mendoza, Argentina!

Elder Passantino arrived safely!!!

What a delightful young man you have entrusted in our care. His companion is Elder Morinico who is from Miami, Florida. He will compliment your son's talents. We spoke with them today and they are reaching their goals and are very happy. There is nothing that makes a missionary happier than when he or she is being strictly obedient and making their goals a reality. We expect a lot from our missionaries just like we did with our own children, but we also extend love and compassion to each of them. We extend to you our thanks for bringing up such a fine young man. We look forward to getting to know him better as the months go by.
Thank you again for sending us a wonderful missionary with a strong testimony.

With Much Thanks,

President and Hermana Lindahl

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Hola Familia y amigos!!

Well it has been one hec of a ride here at the MTC!! I'm so grateful for my time here. I sincerely feel a brotherhood with all the Elders in my District and many in my zone. Yesterday was an emotional day because we said goodbye to the MTC teachers we have grown to love so much. Their names are Hermana Ampuno from Ecudor and Hermano Schwarz from Gilbert, Az who just got from his mission to Houston a couple of months ago! They were so awesome, and filled with the Spirit. I have come to learn one of the best qualities in a teacher is being happy, patient, and simple. With these three keys it makes all the difference. But, ya it was a sad day but I also had an amazing experience that night.

We got to take calls at this place called the RC where people have ordered church videos online or The Book of Mormon or Bible or something to that effect. Well (it was in English) I called this lady named Evelyn in Colorado, because she had ordered a free Mr. Kruger's Christmas movie from the church five years ago and no one had been able to get ahold of her to follow up and see if she received it. So anyways, as I asked her about it she said was that years ago? And I said yea, haha, but she said she didn't remember ever watching it or anything. (Also when we call we say our name and that we are representatives for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). And so I said well Ma'am that movie is generally based on the Spirit of Christmas and the special time that is to celebrate the birth of the light of the world, even Jesus Christ. And then I just asked what religious preference she was, and she said she was a Baptist, and so I asked if I could share a message with her about Jesus Christ and how much he loved her. We talked about that for a little while and then the Spirit was able to guide me to 2 Nephi 31:20 which is Dad and mine favorite scripture. After I read that I asked her how she felt and she said she was going through some hard times in her life, and had been praying for an answer to come from somewhere, and just felt like this was the answer to her prayers. She said she didn't believe in coincidences and that this was her answer. She then told me she wanted one of those "Mormon Testaments" of which I had just told her I read from. I thought that was amazing, so I read her the promise in Moroni 10:4-5 and she accepted the committment to read that. She also wanted the missionaries to come over there and deliver that to her and share a message to her and her husband about Jesus Christ and his Gospel. I just reassured her and promised her of the blessings that would come into her life from this Gospel and the power of the Spirit that comes with reading the Book of Mormon. I also told her how much God loved her and that he knew her and her struggles. She was very touched and grateful for the call, and said at the end, "This just feels right, I know it."

That was a sweet experience to me that God knows each and everyone of his Children. He loves them more than we can know, and when they go and seek Him in prayer wanting to receive an answer or help with a difficulty, he will send it! It was a precious experience for me that got me so excited to teach the people that are preparing their hearts to receive all truth. I know God lives and that Jesus is the Christ!!

I have been getting pretty anxious this week, and have had a harder time focusing on my studys, but I have felt help all along my journey here. I also learned that I do not need to know everything. I just need to have a strong testimony of the basic principals of the Gospel and let the SPirit do the rest. All I am is an instrument in the hands of God to do his will. I wish I would have realized that more when I was younger. I regret my bad example at times, but I hope those I love and care about will forgive me for that and see that I have changed into someone who just wants to bless the lives of others through whatever means. I love this Gospel with all my heart! It has been awesome seeing Cody around he looks and is doing great! It is so nice to know that two of my dearest friends are serving the Lord right along side me :) As well as my sister of course!! The mission is the best thing that has ever happened to me, besides my family obviously, in my life! I love you all and wish you well! Next time I right I will be in Argentina :) :) God bless you! Oh I am trying to write all the letters I can this week, but today has been crazy so I'm so sorry if anyone doesn't get one this week I have just been packing all day!!! Oh btw I have a new address it should be up on Facebook :) Thanks Kin!

Elder Passantino

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

One Week Left in MTC!

Dear Fam and Friends,

Yet again another awesome week- the mission never seems to disappoint. Today I got all my documents signed for my visa in front of one of the console people. He talked to all the missionaries going to Argentina for about two hours! I'm so excited to be going to that amazing country and I can't wait to preach the Gospel to such amazing people! There is something that I am really looking forward to and that is the food :) He said Americans love it because a filet minion there costs about 1.25$ and same with the other really high priced steaks in the U.S. He definitely confirmed that they eat the most meat of any country by far so that was cool. I'm going to love that, I just got to make sure Im doing all of my workouts... :) I will though, I have doing them religiously here at the MTC too, like at least trying to run a mile and lifting weights. I was playing basketball for lots of the time here, but I sprained my dang ankle again last week so I have decided not to do that anymore, because I always hurt it when I'm jumping... Anyways no need to worry about that it's a lot better. But ya anyways, Argentina, he answered a lot of questions which was really nice about the culture and things. He said they don't use really the formal ways of speaking like the USTED AND TU forms and that everyone is referred to as VOS... SO that will take some getting used to, but the Lord is with me so I don't worry about that.

Something that was brought to my attention this last Sunday's devotional is that it isn't as important as what we say, as it is what they here through the Spirit. God is the great teacher, basically we are just bearers of the Spirit that testifies of Him and His Son Jesus Christ. It gives me great comfort to know that I can't do everything myself, but with God all things are possible. Its such a blessing that I have come to know. I truly believe that our Father in Heaven is most generous of His Spirit with the full time missionaries. We have accepted the call to serve and set ourselves apart from the world. Although many things in the world aren't bad or evil, but in fact good, the best route is always the one that Jesus walked. Focused on the Gospel and living a life in the service of others. While I have been here I have felt the overwhelming desire to make people happy. It's a hard goal at times, but when we align our lives with God's will rather than our own path, we can be an instrument of happiness, in a world full of sorrow and distress. I am trying to become a faithful servant of the Spirit. President Packer said that one of the greatest blessings of a mission is the unique opportunity to learn how the Spirit speaks to us and follow in its path. I love a scripture in Isa 30:21 that talks about how we can know the path we need to take and we will be guided. I have felt the Spirit so strong here, as I continously bear testimony of Father and the Son and the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. It lifts me and makes me a better person. The Atonement of Jesus Chrsit transcends the tests of time and is all encompassing and eternal. It changes people, and it has the power to relieve of of any pains and sorrows as long as we follow the path that God himself has laid for us. I can't wait for the opportunity to spread the Restored Gospel of JESUS CHRIST to those people who are seeking for the truth, but just know not where to find it.

The language has had its tough days, and I have also had days with greater confidence, but the amazing thing is that I just have faith that it will come. I know that I'm not going to be perfect, and that I will struggle everyday to express my feelings, but as long as the will of the Spirit of God is expressed in my broken Spanish, then that is really all that matters. What an amazing opportunity that lies ahead of me!!!! I just can't wait! My attitude is positive and light hearted. I have gained a concrete faith and trust in God that whatever trial will be put in my path, with His help I can overcome it victoriously.

Early this week I started a more indepth study of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It is amazing how profound and simple it is. Jesus pleads with us to, "come follow me." And we are wise when we do. For when we follow the Good Sheperd we will always be in the right. How grateful I am for my Savior, I love him more than anything and would be willing to sacrifice my life for his name like all the great martyers of Him before. How humbling it is to know that I can be the voice of him that begs people to "come follow me." It is a simple phrase, but contains in it's words the power unto Salvation. It is soft, not harsh, and offers unspeakable blessings that have been only made known to the pure in heart. I cannot ever leave His guidance and path, for I have seen the other side, and I want to be by his side. (Rev 3:21, Rom 8:17)

This week our Branch President was released. It was a hard day for him, and for all the Elders and Sisters that had come to know him and love him so much. He was a man of integrity and a man who had a presence of power and of peace. I am very grateful for his leadership and kindness that he carried with him everyday of his life. You could see the Master in his eyes, and that is how I want to be someday. I'm sorry I don't talk about the logistics of the MTC much in my e-mails, but I try to write the things of my heart. It's hard for me to do sometimes, because those not of my faith may mistake this for something that it is not, but I want everyone to know of my testimony of the Savior and the Restored Gospel of the Lamb. I'm just filled with gratitude!! I love you all so much!! Keep smiling and Know that he is God! I'm so excited to leave next Wednesday!!!

Elder Passantino

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Los Hombres beben!!!

Hola familia! Como estan? Well I'm doing great after an amazing conference weekend huh?? Aren't you guys?? Wow I am so grateful to have living prophets and apostles on the earth today! Thank heavens God loves us enough to send his messangers to give us his direct word, and how grateful I am for a young boy who was young enough and humble enough to ask what is truth. The faith of that boy brought us the times of "restitution of all things." What an amzing blessing that is! I have gained and strengthened my testimony on so many facets of the Gospel while I have been here and throughout this past week. One of the things I have gained an absolute testimony of, and have had for quite some time, is the power of music in bringing the Spirit to any and every situation. Hymns have significant power as we thank God for the things he has given us that we in reality don't really deserve, and as we shout praises to his name for his work and life, and for giving us the authorized preisthood line of revelation(Elder Oaks talk Sunday morning) The power that they bring is really underappreciated I think because it can really bring such a feeling and comfort of peace into the soul of those who diligently sing the words with all their might, or listen to the Spirit's quite testimony throughout the song! It has been tough here because we are not allowed to listen to music at the MTC, so my companion and I have taken almost every opportunity to sing, or for him to play the piano, becuase he is an excellent pianist. My five favorite hymns I would have to say are, "O My Father," "Our Savior's Love," Nearer My God to Thee," The Spirit of God," and "Lord, I Would Follow Thee." They are amazing!!

SO this week we taught a lesson( in spanish I think it is our fifth 30min one) about the glorious restoration and the truths that have been restored through the Gospel. As Elder Frost and I taught, we truly felt the Spirit guide our lesson to the direction that God wanted it to go. We have had strongly emphasized to us, teaching people, not lessons. As you listen and try to understand those you love and teach, and listen and act upon the promptings of the Spirit, you will truthfully have the words to say come out of your mouth. That has been a testimony that has been solidified in my heart and that I know that that blessing from God is an absolute fact. Even though they are practice lessons, the Spirit still attends when testimony is bore about His restored Gospel, and the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.

Another thing that has been instilled in my soul this week is the divine organization of Christ's church. Jesus established a church while he was on the earth and founded it upon the rock of revelation. As the scriptures attest numerous times he called some prophets and apostles to administer the necessary saving ordinances for salvation, when he would assend back into Heaven. The organization of the Kingdom of God is again on the earth and I'm filled with gratitude that I live in a time where it can be here. Oh how much our Heavenly Father and His only Begotten son in the Flesh, Jesus Christ love us! I can feel their love daily and constantly use the Atonement of Jesus Christ to make myself a better person!

So, I thought that there were some intersting themes during conference. One that was a little scary, was the way and manner that Satan works. He works through whatever means he can to weasel and sneak his way into the weaknesses of man, and magnify it until he has us in his grasp. I thank God for the infinite gift of the atonement! It is truly the only thing that can set us free from his grasp, and help us put off the natural man and becometh a saint. Also there was an emphasis on gratitude and following the prophets. It was such a blessing to hear what everyone needed to hear from our Father in Heaven at this time. Also Elder Nelson talked about Missionary Work, in the Priesthood Session, which is close to my heart right now! ;)

Well here at the MTC things have been going very well! I still love my mission and the opportunity I have been given. It is difficult sometimes, like for example my companion has taught me a lot about patience. A lesson I desperately needed to learn. He does some things which are in complete contradiction to my way of doing things, but it has taught me that I have to be Christlike `in every relationship I will have, and the only things I can change are in myself. I'm so far from being at the level I want to be as a servant of the Lord, but I can feel the hand of Christ helping me along the path. It is truly a peaceful and comforting feeling. I thank my Father in Heaven everyday for my incredible family and my amazing friends who send me letters and send prayers on my behalf. I feel the power of your sustaing and I promise to work as hard as I can. This work is too important to slack. I am filling the Saviors call to serve in the end of Matthew last two verses! I love you all you are always in my heart and prayers!

Elder Passantino