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Monday, February 28, 2011

Crazy Week!!!

Well Hello Family and Friends!!!

A pretty crazy and fun week has come and gone!! I just recently found out about our transfers and I am off to the Province of San Juan!!!! I am going to a place called Rawson which I have heard is a very suburban like city not too much country. It is near the city of San Juan so if you want to check the weather that would be the city to check! My new companion is Elder Croussa from Uruaguay (not sure if his name of if the country is spelled right...) haha. I have heard only good things about him so I am very excited to work there and leave it all out in San Juan. San Juan is know as the hottest province and Zone in the mission, but luckily I am going there at the end of summer so that should be great!! I'm just so excited to go there :) I will leave here Wednesday morning.

It is a bit hard leaving an area in which I love so much. Rodeo de la Cruz will always have a special place in my heart. I have come to love so many of the people that live here. I have come to realize just one of the reasons why the Savior loved everyone so much. It is because he served among them, and when you serve among the people you gain a deep love and bond with them. I will be forever graeful for the relationships I have gained here and for the great profound lessons I have learned.

Sofia was able to be baptized this Sunday after Church!!! :) She was so happy!!! She was crying the whole service and just poured her heart out to us of her feelings of peace and hope that filled her soul. She bore to us a testimony that she had of the our Savior Jesus Christ and of our Heavenly Father and of the truthfulness of the Church of Jesus Christ. I saw such a change in her from when we first arrived at her house to now. She is genuienly happier and much more full of love. When we first came she was having many problems with her family, but we have seen her love and patience change and how the Gospel has changed her person and literally helped her become born again. Obviosuly being born again is not a one time act of confession, but a desire to change and accept the will of the Lord in our life, and diligent living. By so doing we allow the Spirit to change our very nature and we become changed Spiritually. It is a beautiful thing. As for Fiorella, Giuiana, and Barbara, we will have to wait a bit longer for their baptisms but they should happen this month Si o Si(No matter what). I feel content as I leave this area ready for the harvest :)

So... Elder Williams is quite a character and it has been an interesting transfer, but I have had a lot of fun. He is an outgoing and chill guy. As our District Leader he decided to do something fun and a bit challenging with our District(6 elders). We went to the terminal of Mendoza(the big bus stop where tons of people are) and we stood on a little bench and preached out loud to the hundreds of people waiting for the buses!!! Pretty crazy huh?? I was way nervous, but I just prayed for the courage to do that and the Lord helped me out, and helped me bear my testimony and speak by the Spirit. We each spoke for about 3 min each and it went really well. Many people listened and were touched by what we said. It was a very intimidating experience, but one that I will never forget and was definitely worth while. It was very funny as well because my campanion spoke in the Vosotros form to the people, which is the way they speak in Spain and the way that it is written in the Scriptures. It would be the same as if someone was preaching in English using words like Ye, thee, though, hearken, and it came to pass... ect..!!! It was great :) :)

Oh there are quite a bit of Gypsys out here in Argentina. And of course my companion wanted to know what their deal was so we went and talked to some. It was one of the strangest experiences of my life because they just try to cheat people out of money any way that they can. It was two women in their thirties with a little 6 year old girl. While we were talking to them the girl kept trying to pick our pockets and the people didnt even care. They tried to read my comps palm and stuff it was just weird and funny at the same time... Oh Elder Williams... he is one funny guy I have learned a lot from being with him :)

Oh a story a little scarey, so mom don't read.... haha. We were walking down this street the other day and heard two teenagers( we call Pibes, or Peebays, is how you pronounce it) laughing behind us riding a little motorcycle. I had a bad feeling about it so I was like oh great... Anyways as they passed by going about 20 mph the one on the back reached out and punched me way hard in the back. We were just sort of in shock at first, but they just rode off laughing so whatever! I'm fine so don't worry about it its just a funny little story about how some people are dumb sometimes... haha. I have learned an important lesson though. Now after having been hit, and spit in the face, I need to always let my companion walk closer to the road :) hahaha!!!!

Today with the zone (16 missionaries) we made an Asado!! An Asado is really big down here and our equvilent is a BBQ but they use more parts of the cow. Anyways any time we as missionaries say we are making an Asado it usually means a BBQ. It was the most ghetto thing. There was a big whole on the side of the street, like a giant pot whole, next to oe of the church buildings, so we made a fire there, spred the coals out from it, put the thing to cook it with over it, and put our pieces of meet we bought on it. It was a ghetto BBQ done in a pot hole. It was great!!! Luckily almost all the Elders are Eagle scouts so we knew how to get the fire going!! It was in front of a plaza as well and the parking in the cities are free, but there are people called Cuida coches, which means car carers, or people who take care of your car. Basically when a street that has a lot of parking service someone just claims that spot as theirs and when people park, they go up to them and ask for money. If you give them money they will leave your car in peace, but if not, you might come back to a smashed window or slashed tires. Its so ridiculous.. Where are the cops on that one huh?? But I guess I know how to make some quick cash in Argentina now huh ? :)

Well I am doing great and happy! I know that I can work harder and I am going to. I'm happy, healthy, and learning more now than I have ever learned in a class room (even though that is vitally important!!!) I love you all family and friends. Keep smiling, keep working, learning, and never lose your faith! God bless you all:)

Elder Passantino

Monday, February 21, 2011

Que Tal

Dear Family and Friends

Another week has come and gone in good old Argentina! Time seems to be flying these days as the work becomes more a second nature, and the joy of my life. This week we were able to sing in a choir in front of about 500 future missionaries in the stake center of our zone. Two members of the Seventy came and that was a cool experience because there were only about twenty of us Elders who were asked to sing. There were future misionaries from all the provinces around Mendoza that came. Something even cooler is that the girl we just recently baptized, Denise, and her older sister who is a member as well, went and both came back with the convictions that they wanted to serve missions. It was a hapy day for me :) So I guess we will see one day. It is a breath of fresh air out here when you see two young women striving to do what is right, and go the opposite way of the majority of the youth here in Argentina. It gives me hope for the future.

Being an American down here is difficult sometimes because most the people have no idea what America is like. They hear stories and things and believe those things. Someone told me yesterday that the U.S. wasn´t in World War 2... It took me a while to calm down about that... Haha, now I have gotten better at it and have learned to laugh about it. It does give me a testimony of the importance of education though, and how we need to seek all the best learning; Secular and learning by faith. We won´t be saved in our igorance. There is a hard thing down here that we see all the time. People drop out of school to go do some low paying job. They think that it is great at first because they are making money as a kid, and then they face the reality that it doesnt cut it to provide for a family. So they live in poverty the rest of their lives. As missionaries, we sometimes stress the importance of education here to those wayward ones who can´t quite yet see the bigger picture.

We have 4 baptisms planned for this FRiday!!! I am so excited I can´t wiait! We have been facing road blocks all along the way so we could really use some prayers to help these people accomplish their goal and enter the straight and narrow way. Their names are Joel, Sofia, Fiorella, and Giuliana. We are working hard to make it happen so that has been great!! There isn´t a lot to report this week, but we are keepin on and we are hapy. Spanish is coming better and better. It really is such a blessing. I hope that I can master all the basics by the time I get home, and I have faith that I will. Wait, we did have raviolis twice this week which was great but nowhere near my dad´s :) Alright I love you all, keep working hard!!

Elder Passantino

Monday, February 14, 2011

Denise's Baptism! Denise, Elder Williams and Elder Passantino

Denise, the girl we baptized in between Elder Williams and I, and then the Familia Flores with Sofia, Joel, Estefania(already a member)!!

My companion Elder Williams and I before the Baptism outside the Church

Our Zone. Our Zone leaders are the two in the front right.

In the Land of Grapes

Hola y como están familia, y mis amigos!!!

Well, this week has been a really great and fun week. We baptized a 13 yr old girl named Denise this weekend which was wonderful!!!! She asked me to baptize her and I was of course glad to do it. She is really awesome and I´m so excited for her and her future! :) Her mom, Sofia, and her younger brother Joel are both getting baptized this weekend!!! It´s just so amazing to see the Gospel change people. When we first ran into them, they were having lots of problems with their family, like for instance they were getting in a lot of fights. The longer we met with them the greater change you could see, and they told us since we have been coming they have been a thousand times more patient with each other and they aren´t yelling or fighting anymore so that was a huge blessing. Sofia also has two other children that are 18 and 16 and they both are already members of the church and they have started attending again and feeling of the sweetness of the Spirit. It is so amazing to help families out, because that is a central point of the Gospel.

Another huge milestone this week is that we reactivated this lady named Monica Hidalgo. I have been working with her since I got to Argentina and she always said she knew she had to come back to church but she would never commit. She has nine kids and the oldest four are members and the youngest 5 are not. The Father is also not a member of the church. We have been working a lot with two girls (her daughters) Fiorella, and Giuliana and they have been coming to church for the last month and so and are just so ready to be baptized. Fiorella told us of how she received her answer that the church was true when she prayed and read the scriptures. It was so awesome! But the problem was the Father said he didn't want any of his kids getting baptized if the Mom didn´t start coming back. SO SHE FINALLY DID! After many years, she was welcomed back with open arms here by the awesome members :) She had previously been praying if she really should go back to church, and she opened the Book Of MOrmon and had the answer come to her through what she read in 3 Nephi. It is such a testimony that our Father in Heaven knows His children, and will help them when they seek Him. So this weekend we will baptize Sofia and Joel, and then next weekend we will baptize Fiorella, and Barbara!! Im so excited and happy!!!

This week I was asked on to give a surprise talk which are always fun huh? :) I spoke about listening to the Voice to the Good Shepherd. I started with reading parts in John 10(one of my favorite chapters ever) and how we need to know and be familiar with Him and His voice when he calls. I turned to Heleman 5:30 to explain how the voice is and then to some parts in the Doctrine of Covenants to show that when his servants speak with the Holy Ghost they are in a way hearing His. Then I stressed the importance of not becoming so distracted that we aren´t able to hear it anymore. Then I read the promises from the Lord in D and C 93:1 and Revelation 3:20-21! I felt like it was the best talk I have given yet in Spanish and I felt very happy and content about it, it was great!

So this week we were walking down the street and this guy was trying to insult of so he just started yelling ´´Bush´´ at us! Hahaha, we laughed way hard because it was probably one of the dumbest things I have seen and heard in a while. My companion pointed at a Bush and said ´´Bush´´ in spanish and it confused the guy it was a funny moment. Some people are just weird like that, and I have learned to really laugh at things like that because most the people have no idea what they are talking about. Also some crazy people, when you say that you are American they bring up the Falkan Islands war or something and say we helped out. They tell it so dang far fatched it's so ridiculous. I'm pretty sure the U.S. stayed out of it, but they say we helped and that we sent mercaneries and killed all their like 16yr old soldiers... It's so not true. I guess that's what happens when you have government controlled news stations.

The mission is receiving 15 more latino missionaries this next transfer so that should be cool. It will help all of us gringos get down the language a lot better. Spanish is going better and better for me. That is what the gift of tongues is, when we use it for the edifying and teaching of the Gospel, not in random blabbers and unknown tongues. I am very happy and blessed to be where I am and doing what I am doing. I am meeting amazing people and gaining amazing friendships, but more importantly I am doing the Lords work. I love you all so much :)

ELder Passantino

Monday, February 7, 2011

It's True!

Dear Family and Friends,

So this week has been a great and successful week. We really just set our focuses and got our goals done, according to the will of the Lord. We have worked really hard and now we have four for sure baptisms lined up for the next three weekends. We are working hard on two others as well, and doing our best to help them enter the waters of baptism. The four people are Denise and Sofia, who are a Mother and a daughter who are both extremely excited for their baptisms and are just so awesome! Denise quoted back to us the story of the tree of life and Nephi’s struggles with his brothers. It was incredible, she just took it upon herself to find out if the Book of Mormon is true and she now has a stalwart testimony that it is. She is only thirteen too!!!! The other two, are two girls named Giuliana and Fiorella. They are 11 and 16. Fiorella told us of her experience as she knelt and prayed to ask if the church is true. She said she asked God if she should be baptized. She told us that she felt something she had never felt before, and although she didn’t hear a voice or see a vision, she knew that God wanted her to be baptized. Their sister Barbara is 14 and she hasn’t been as interested and as willing as the other two, but we asked her to pray as well. She told us as she prayed she received the distinct response in her heart that she needed to go to church this Sunday.
I just love how God speaks to us!!! He doesn’t yell, he doesn’t force or take away our right to choose, but He answers us in the way that he Answered Elijah, through a still and small voice. Something interesting is that the Holy Spirit speaks to our Spirit and sort of pushes us in the right direction. That is how one of my best Elder friends put it in the MTC. He had been only a member for about a little over a year and a half and he said he knew he had to serve a mission. He told of how his conversion went, ´´I didn’t understand everything, and I wasn’t exactly sure, but all I knew was that I felt something tell me this was right, and it silently led me by the hand along the path that God wanted me to be.´´
As I think about it more, it is how everything in the Kingdom of is conducted; by the inspiration and the promptings of the Holy Spirit. As Peter says men and prophets spake as they were moved upon by the Holy Spirit. The sweetness of the Spirit can be so easily offended that it is hard to feel sometimes, but in the quite moments between God and our own selves is when we learn the profoundest truths, simply because we are allowing ourselves to be taught by the Holy Ghost himself; the third and sealing member of the Godhead. It is so important to keep him with us. He can unlock the treasures of knowledge that we couldn’t ´´reform´´ or reason with ourselves.
The question we always get is, ´´why are there so many churches? ´´ It is because many have denied the Spirit which giveth utterance on the truth doctrinally, and of course the existence of God and Jesus Christ. Whenever people testify that God and Jesus Christ live, the Spirit will testify that that is true, and it will make them feel good, but it takes the humble seeker to find out the doctrinal truths that every church in the world argues upon. That is why God reveals it to the weak things of the world and withholds it from the learned who believe that their opinion is the very truth of heaven and earth. Is their any wonder why men and women from 19-26 serve missions for Jesus Christ. It is because we have received the witness of the Spirit and not of men and know that what we teach and represent is true, not just based upon another scripture which can be interpreted 10 different ways by different religions. It is because the weak things of the world (or the humble testimonies) will one day confound the learned, and inspire the true in heart. As missionaries we are searching for the searchers of truth, and are willing to ask God for themselves. They don’t have to believe us at all. They just have to believe God, who cannot lie. I am so grateful for the sacred calling I have to be God´s instrument in bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. This is the truth, and even if all those I loved, and know strayed, I could not because the witness of the Spirit is stronger than the influence and reason of man. I am so happy. I am working hard. And more grateful than ever before in my life. I love you all!!!

Elder Passantino