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Monday, January 31, 2011

Keeping on in Argentina!

Happy Birthday to my angel Mom! I hope you know that I am working my hardest, and knowing you that is probably the greatest birthday present that you would ask for. You showed and taught me how to love others and that fame, and material things just really aren’t that important. I am using the skills you gave me to preach the true Gospel in love and truth. And thank you for that Wonderful and Spirit filled e-mail Dad. I am so grateful that I have a stalwart Priesthood holder Father who has an unwavering testimony of the truth to be my best friend and guide!! I miss you dearly right now Dad. It’s been a good but difficult week. I have had a lot on my mind this week, lots about the Spirit and how to keep it with me always. Your email hit me right on when you talked about how you wanted to keep it with you always!! That is how I am right now, and I am struggling to do so. As a missionary Satan puts so many little things in the way to detract from the Spirit. Down here in Argentina there is pornography on the television and on all the magazine stands. The country is dying in immorality and it really saddens me. The language is getting better and better, but I am still trying to find an effective way to study.

We are working with all of those five people Mom and we are almost a hundred percent sure that they will all be baptized this Month (Feb)!!! It is such a miracle from God. Sofia, who is the mother of Denise, accepted the same baptismal date as Denise which is the 12th. She cried as we extended the invitation to follow in the Saviors footsteps and bore testimony to us that she knew what we were saying was true. Denise, 13yrs old, took the initiative to read the Book of Mormon by herself and she literally explained to us the story of the tree of life in all its aspects. It was a phenomenal and Spirit filled experience. She is so ready and bore to us her testimony of the truthfulness of these things. She said she prayed and felt something different and felt a peace come over her. The rest of their family are members too so we are completing a family! I am so happy for that, and this Wednesday we are planning on setting 3 baptismal dates with Fiorella, Barbara, and Giuliana. They are the only nonmembers in their family too and they have a way strong desire to get baptized. If all goes to plan, and we follow the Spirit, we have a guaranteed 5 baptisms in the month of February which would be amazing!! It is very good for the mission and I am full of joy over it :) I´m trying so hard Daddy, I feel like Moses felt when he said, ´´I now know that man is nothing, which thing I had never supposed.´´ I feel in the depths of humility and can only go on with the help of the Lord. I hope you know that I am working my hardest. This Gospel is sooo true and I know it through the power of the Holy Ghost!!!!!! I am seeing miracles! Thank you for your love and prayers!
Elder Brian Passantino

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Dear Familia y amigos,

Dear Familia y amigos,

Well the first week with the new companion was way good!!! He is way funny and teaches and acts totally the opposite of Elder Morinico did. He is from Sandy, Ut and is 21 yrs old. I"ll send a pic of us soon, but people call him Will Ferell with a mix of Paul Walker haha. The girls down here in Argentina love guys like him, so we gotta be careful ;) He does things so funny like we will go up to people and offer our help sometimes, and they will say, No,I'm not interested before they ever take into account what he says. So when they do that he is like, well I just wanted to give you some American money and then he gives them some U.S. pennies or something, and then they realize how mean they were being and they start laughing or something. It's pretty funny being with him sometimes. He also wears like a Cowboy hat a lot to keep the sun off his neck, so he certainly stands out in a crowd!!! Anyway it has been way fun with him and we are really ready to keep the work up in Rodeo de la Cruz and help more souls come unto Christ.

Sorry that I am emailing a day late, but we had a zone conference yesterday and they switched our Preparation day to today. Zone Conference was soooooo amazing!!! It got me so excited to get out there and work as hard as I possibly can.Our Mission President (The man who presides over our Mission here in Mendoza ( 200 missionaries)) President Lindahl is truly a man of God! I know that without a doubt. He knows exactly what is going on its so crazy. He speaks with the power of the Spirit and just has the words given him to say. It was just what I needed to recharge my batteries and go out and work!!!! Lots of the things he talked about is the potential and power we have to do and bring to pass miracles according to the will of the Lord. He talked about the amazing promise the Lord gives in D & C 84:84 and how we should expect to see and feel those types of things. He talked a lot about doing our exercises and staying in good physical shape and obviously spiritually strong. I can't tell you how strong I felt the spirit as he spoke. It was truly an incredible experience and helped me a little more understand my purpose and how happy and satisfying it is to help people come unto their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Sister Lindahl talked about Lot's wife and how she looked back and couldn't let go of all the things in the past which she had loved so much (worldy things). It really applies to us missionaries because we give up the world for the sake of Christ, and the more we focus on Him and His will we gain His trust and he gives us an increase of the Spirit to bring to pass his Will. I can't adaquately express my gratitude for being a missionary and being a representante of Jesus Christ. It is a daily delight to testify of Him and His restored Gospel.

I don't have too much time this week but, I want to bear my testimony of the truthfulness of the work that I know it is true. I know I am in the right place at the right time, and that I am here to help people recognize and come unto their Savior and God. I love you all so much and I hope all is well!!!

Elder Passantino

Monday, January 17, 2011

Hola!!! Find out about Transfers today!

Hola Familia y amigos!!!
Well another week has come and gone and I will find out about transfers today! The mission is really flying! By next week I will be a ¼ of the way done, which is so crazy… About transfers, I will find out in a couple hours, but what we are pretty sure is going to happen is that Elder Morinico will be transferred out of the area and I will stay and lead the area when a new Elder comes in. I really am hoping that that happens!!!! This week was the first week that we hit every one of our goals! We worked really hard, and did our best to seek the Lords guidance on where to go and it paid off big time!! It is a happy feeling knowing that you worked as hard as you can and feel the Lord do the rest.
It was great; Tuesday I did divisions with one of the zone Leaders Elder Fielding!! He is such an awesome Elder and we really hit it off! We accomplished a lot and saw a totally different way to work which I loved. It was pretty crazy though, whenever I have been with Elder Morinico we haven´t had any problems with guys trying to rob us or anything, but when I was with Elder Fielding (Huge white guy from Idaho) these guys harassed us a bit. They asked him if he was a yankee, and he said ´´no, soy Ruso.´´ which means no I´m Russian! It was pretty funny and they didn’t mess with us after that. There are always big groups of teenagers hanging our drinking and smoking outside, so we always try to avoid them. If you look or are latin, they don’t really mess with you, but if not they might mess with you a little. It´s really sad here, the problem with drinking and smoking. Kids here begin smoking at around age 12 and it’s terrible. Whenever we see that we try to help them out and tell them that it’s bad. And even the 8 yr old kids can buy alcohol here. It´s really hard to see. We do what we can to help, but sometimes all we can do is pray and be a good example.
We have been working with this week with the daughter of a member and her family. We have become really good friends with the. The daughter of the member and her children especially. She is about 40 and really kind to us. We tried working with her husband too, but he wasn´t ever interested and was pretty quite. They have three really awesome kids together ages 12, 7, and 5. The other day we went to her house, and we both could feel something was wrong. She wasn´t saying much, so we began to talk to her a bit. Right when I was just about to ask what was really going on, my companion asked, ´´how are you really.´´ she then began to cry and went on to tell her that her husband had left her. She has been telling the kids that he went to his parent’s house, because she doesn´t know how to tell them. She was devastated and so were we. As 20 years old guys, it’s hard for us to understand her pain, but luckily we have just the message that can heal her broken heart. We gave her some comfort, and prepared for the next time we would see her. As we went the next time, she said the only reason she continues on is for her children. Elder Morinico gave her an inspired talk about who she really was and about our purpose for this life. Then I spoke about the Savior and concentrated all I said on him and His words. I read Matt 11:28-30, and remembered other scriptures that I hadn´t really thought much about before. I surprised myself when I had spoken in perfect Spanish the things of my soul, and the things the Spirit prompted me to say regarding Jesus Christ. We were all overcome with the Spirit and she said all that we had said was true. She is opening her heart little by little to be relieved of the burden of this horrible experience, and brought into the light of his glorious rest, found in the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.
There are sweet moments like that, when you are overcome by the Spirit and feel the pure love that God our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ have for us. This week the thing that has been impressed upon my mind is the need to align our will with the will of God. The Spirit has been prompting me that if I want to become the man God wants me to be, then I need to put my will on the altar of sacrifice. If I want the mission to bless others and myself, I need to be willing to follow his will, and to make his will my will. Even ´´bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.´´ It is the hardest thing to do, to literally choose the Lords will, but when we do, we no longer want the things that mean so little, but we begin to want those things which mean so much. I want to live my life in Holiness to the Lord, but I need His help to do it!
I love my mission with all my heart, but I love the Lord more! He is everything to me. I cannot adequately express my gratitude for Him and his infinite sacrifice! I am grateful for the greatest family in the world for an amazing support. I am grateful that I have so many beloved friends and (sister of course:) who are serving along side me as representatives of the Risen Christ. And for all my friends who are not, but that have loved and supported me, and helped shape me into the man I am! I love you all and am excited to tell you the outcome of what happens tonight!!!

Elder Passantino

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Hola From Rodeo!

Hola from Rodeo!

Well this week has been a much better sickness free week! I can´t explain now how grateful I am for the simple blessing of good health. Sometimes we need to be sick or have hard times to realize how blessed we really are. Elder Morinico and I had a much better week with much success. We have really been trying to rely on the Lord as we plan for the next day and we have been seeing the blessings of that. We found three people this week that we have been trying to find for three months, and all three have a strong desire to be baptized in the Church of JESUS CHRIST! What a blessing and a joy that is :)

I feel genuinely happy here on my mission, even though it has challenged me to my edge. The testimony of diligence and consistency has been written on the tablet of my heart. I feel so much happier when I am working hard and doing all that I can to bring souls unto Christ. Missionary work is all about service and it is all about others. If we think too much about ourselves and our problems, we miss the opportunities to lighten the load of others. When we focus our thoughts on others and think about how we can bless their lives, we find a different kind of happiness than we have ever experienced. It is true happiness. It is the happiness that the Savior enjoyed as He lived his mortal life; for His life was a total and complete life of service. Everything He did was unselfish, and for the benefit of others. And of course the culmination of His selfless was His infinite atonement, wrought in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the Cross of Calvary. What a blessing that is to all of us, who will, ´´come unto Christ and be perfected in Him.´´

It has been the joy of my life to help others see the light of the Gospel, and see it change their very countenances. When I think it is just so hard sometimes, Heavenly Father shows us the tender mercy of service, and how we have helped the lives of others.

This week I had the opportunity to talk to a Hermano in our ward named Hermano PatiƱo. He broke his ankle about a month and a half ago while he was playing soccer with some friends. He called the missionaries over to give him a blessing. When I got there I figured that he would have me do the anointing and my companion give him the blessing; But to my surprise, he asked me to give the blessing!! (In my broken Spanish!!) I was very nervous and said a pray in my heart that Heavenly Father would give me the words that needed to be said. I really don’t remember what I said, all I know is that I followed the Spirit, and felt good after the blessing. Before all of this the doctor had told him that he would need the cast on for a little more than three months, and that he would need to stay in the house for three months too. He was devastated, but he his also a good man with a love and faith in Jesus Christ. Anyways, we ate lunch at his house this Sunday, and he asked me if I remembered what I had said in the prayer. I told him I really didn’t… He then told me that I told him that he would heal and walk and be able to run perfectly in the due time of the Lord. He then went on to say he had just gone to the Doctor and the doctor told him that the ankle had healed miraculously and he would be getting his cast off a month and a half early, and he would be up and walking soon. He said the doctor told him that because of the type of break he had, they might have to do surgery after his cast was taken off, but because of the healing it did that was no longer necessary. He thanked me with a full heart for the blessing, and expressed his gratitude for me and especially for the mercy of our Heavenly Father.

That experience was special to me, because I realized that Heavenly Father used a 19 year old kid like me to bring to pass a small miracle. The Hermano had faith enough to follow the counsel of James , ´´Is any asick among you? let him call for the belders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.´´ James 5:14-15. I am grateful that even with all my imperfections, I have been chosen as a servant of Jesus Christ to build up His Kingdom one little act of faith at a time. (John 15:16).
As for some funny Agentine updates, the mullets are totally back in style here, and yes they are still nasty as they ever were!! And I am convinced that there are 15 songs here that they just put on repeat on the radios here!!! Haha. Well everyone, I love you with all my heart, and I am happy and excited to see how transfers are going to be next week! Until next week!
Elder Passantino

Monday, January 3, 2011

Crazy Crazy Week

Dear Family and Friends,

Well basically this week has been one of the craziest and stressful weeks of my life!!! The week started off on Monday and our whole Zone went to a city called La Vaya and we got to play basketball there! That was great I forgot how much I really missed shootin some hoops and getting a sweat going. We also brought meat there and had a little BBQ. It was fun just getting together with the whole zone and having fun together. We also had a really good and Spirit filled meeting and it really got me pumped up to step it up and preach the Gospel with all my heart, might, mind and strength!! So that night as we got home pretty late we had a great planning session for the next day and really felt good about everything.
So that morning we got up and began to execute all of our plans perfectly. We really felt the Spirit lead us where to go in our planning and we helped out a lot of people in need that day. We were hitting all of our goals and were feeling great and then the later part of the night started coming on. At around 9 at night I started not feeling too good in my throat and started getting the chills. As we started going home I was shaking a lot and just burning up. When we got home I just took some Advil and went right to sleep. My temp was about 102 so it was pretty high. I had a hard time sleeping but I did and I woke up in the morning still with a high fever and bad body aches. That day we stayed at the apartment and rested, but as I did my throat started hurting and we saw white spots forming so we knew that I was getting/had strep throat. Anyway I called the mission nurse and told her what was going on and that Wednesday she had me start takinig Penicilion for the strep throat, but she said it wouldn´t take effect for about 48 hours which would be the 31st at night. So the next two days Thursday, and Friday were all spent in bed with a worsening condition. By the time the night rolled around my companion was getting really impatient about sitting around in the apartment so he wanted to go visit a family to celebrate New Years with. So I was feeling a little better so we decided to go for a little while. We visited that family and then we visited a counselor in the Bishopric for the actual 12:00 celebration and he had a car and said he could take us home. So we spent it with him and his family, it is the same family we spent Christmas with! They are really awesome and I have really grown to love the family their name is La Familia Ponce. Anyways yes the fireworks were crazy that night like usual and then he drove us home.
I still hadn´t been really feeling better in my throat, and then when we got home at around 12:30 I started getting a bad rash on my arm, and then on my other arm, and then both my legs and then my stomach and chest. I called the nurse and she said to get some Benedryl because I was probably having an allergic reaction to the Penicilion. So we didn't have any, so we went out across the street to the pharmacy which was closed and we went to the other ones and they were all closed as well! So we ended up calling Hermano Ponce at about 2 in the morning and he drove out and picked us up, took us home, and brought me some Benedryl which took the rash down. I slept like a rock though. In the morning I talked to the Doctor who is in charge of all of Argentina and he prescribed something different called azitromicina. So Saturday and most of Sunday were spent in Bed again. Still my throat had the spots over them and was slowly, very slowly getting better.
So last night I woke up and my hands were itching like crazy and they were getting rashed and swolen so I took some more Benedryl and some itching cream and those have gone down now, but the doctor thinks I might be allergic to this azitromina now, so I will be taking allergy medicine every couple of hours for the next week, because I already took all the pills for the azitromicina (which is only three for three days and it last in your body for seven days). So today I am taking the allergy medicine and just praying that this azitromicina will work and get rid of this strep throat so I can go out and start working anew this week!! My body is fine and doing well, its just this dang strep throat that wont go away and I´m just stressed and frustrated about it!!
So needless to say its been a tough tough week of sickness and just hoping that I am not too allergic to these medicines and that they can work to get rid of this strep throat. I appreciate all of your prayers on my behalf. This is just another one of the tests that Heavenly Father gives us to grow and continually learn patience. I think He wants to see if my companion and I will start another week and do that throughout the whole week, even if there is a little bump in the road.
I try to look at the bright side of things about it though, like for instance, now I know that I have allergies to these medicines and know not to take them in the future. Also there was an accident a little ways down from our apartment where we always walk, and who knows, if I wouldn´t have been sick we could have been there when that happened so I am continuing on in faith.
Although I was frustrated and stressed in my trials, I was overcome with the help that Heavenly Father sends us. Every member in the ward has been willing to help in whatever way they can like bringing food and medicine and giving me their prayers. Also the mission nurse and the doctor are always there to help me as well. I am convinced that when Heavenly Father lets us get through trials he always sends help in the way of others.
This week has really tried my faith and patience, but I have learned some valuable things and have felt an outporing of love from all sources. I am grateful to be here on a mission and feel the pure love of Christ others have for me and that I have for others. It has been a tough week, but I hope that by tomorrow I can start anew and come off victorious!!! Thank you for all your prayers and support! I am doing great and I love and pray for you all!!

Elder Passantino