Monday, October 27, 2014

The Work Moves Forward

Hey fam,

This week was really good. Another week that just flew by!  It has been in the 80s and 90s all week temperature wise, and hit 100 today.  And this is supposed to be Spring.  We did quite a bit of service this week, mainly in the landscaping department, and moving bags of concrete that weigh more than I do. We helped out Hermana Martinelli and one of her nonmember friends. We visited Alejandra almost everyday this week, making sure she felt ready for the baptism. 

Thursday was a really good day. We had a lesson with Catalina, the girl who got baptized last week, who brought her friend, Valentina, who appears to be legitimately interested in the gospel as well. Also, we went to Salsipuedes on Thursday, which is a little pueblito outside of Rio Ceballos. Cordoba Capital is like Houston, Rio Ceballos is Sugarland, and Salsipuedes is Sienna Plantation, at least in regards to distances.  Although we ride busses, so everything takes quite a bit longer. And Salsipuedes is probably the poorest of the 3 as well. We went to visit Susanna, who we found a couple of weeks ago, and had already read the whole Book of Mormon when we found her. We went over the Plan of Salvation, and she was in tears as we went over the Atonement. She is in a rough situation right now, separated from her husband who is an alcoholic and she’s living in the back of her sewing shop. As we talked about how Christ knew what she was going through, and had suffered for all of these pains and afflictions that she is experiencing, the Spirit was incredibly strong. She told us that she needs to be baptized, but doesn’t want to rush anything or feel pressured. She’s already told us that she knows the Book of Mormon is true and is currently in the process of reading it again.  It’s only a matter of time, we are going back on Thursday to teach the Restoration, which she is already familiar with. We’ll see what happens!

Saturday we had burgers with the Stake President, and then the baptism of Alejandra! Elder Gravelle and I have been teaching her for the past 2 1/2 months, and it is amazing to see the progression that she has made in that time.  I remember the first time we went to her home, it was my 3rd day in Argentina, and she didn’t want anything. The only reason we went back is because her daughter was interested. Now, after slow and steady progress week by week, she made it. The baptismal service was really nice, her daughter even came.  The only reason she isn’t baptized yet is because she lives with her boyfriend, but we´re trying to fix that.  The Bishop performed the ordinance because he knew her, and the Spirit was there in abundance. It is really neat to see how people completely change into new, better, and happier people when they live the Gospel.

Answers to the fam’s ?’s :

My shoes are always dusty, I have to brush them off every night when I get home.  No primary program as of yet, and I haven’t heard anything about one. Nobody snores, and the food I miss most from home are the chocolate chip cookies.  Send me the recipe!   I will try to celebrate Thanksgiving, although I doubt I will be with this companion because transfers are this weekend and we have already been together for nearly 3 months. Spiritual highlight of the week was the Atonement discussion with Susanna, closely followed by the baptism.  I just finished reading Jesus the Christ.  I am currently studying a lot about the Atonement and the life of Christ.  We do have a baptismal font, and what made me smile today was opening up my email and seeing how loved I am by friends and family.  Glad to hear that everybody is having fun and doing well!

Love you all,

Elder Mangum
PS - No pictures this week, got a bad computer.  Next week I’ll send them, the baptism was a blast! I would love the chocolate chip cookie recipe, and any others that you think are simple and I could use here.  Love you!

Monday, October 20, 2014


Catelina's Baptism!
Hey fam,

This week flew by. They say everything goes a lot faster and is a lot more fun when you’re baptizing, and I can testify to that! Tuesday was a fun, or rather a very funny day.  A recent convert of about 2 years invited us over for lunch on her birthday, she’s about 45 and has kids in primary and young womens. Her mother, who is not a member and is legally blind, also came.  Everything was going pretty normal until they brought out the cake that the old blind lady had made. It was chocolate and banana, and tasted terrible...I could have sworn the bananas were rotten or something. So we finish eating the cake, and the mom starts cackling over in the corner, and we ask what is so funny.  She then tells us that she spiked the cake with liquor AFTER it had been cooked, and that is why it tasted so different and was so moist that it was literally soaked in alcohol.  Needless to say, everything from that point on that day was a little off!  I had made it nearly 19 years without ever partaking of a drop of alcohol, then 3 months into being a missionary that´s not true anymore.  Definitely not a story I was expecting to ever tell!

Thursday Catalina passed her baptismal interview.  This is the 17 year old girl who is neighbors with the stake president and showed up out of the blue to General Conference and loved it.  She had been prepared for baptism before we even showed up.  Saturday was the baptism, a very good day.  My first baptism of the mission, hopefully the first of many to come. The stake president performed the ordinance, which was really cool because he has known her since she was a toddler. On Sunday she got confirmed, and Alejandra showed up for church.  Alejandra will should be getting baptized this upcoming Saturday, 2 baptisms in 2 weeks!  Which is really good in this area, they have only had about 8 in the past year. I was supposed to give a talk on Sunday as well, but the other missionary who spoke, not my companion, took over 30 minutes so they postponed my talk for another week. It was also Mother’s Day here in Argentina, and we had dinner with Hermana Martinelli, who has been a widow for about 25 years. She sends her saludos (best wishes) to the family, specifically Mom, and says thank you for allowing me to leave yall for 2 years to come bless the people here.

The strangest thing I have eaten in Argentina, other than that cake, is blood sausage.  They do celebrate Halloween, but it is not as big, and there is no peanut butter.  The best thing of the week was definitely the baptism.  Funniest thing this week was the whole day of Tuesday.  Something I am grateful for today would have to be pictures, because they bring back lots of memories.  If I had to give a talk, it would be on Mosiah 18, the baptismal covenant...oh wait I am giving a talk on that soon!   It is awesome to hear how well everybody is doing, and how much fun yall are having.

Love you all!


Our District

View from our apartment

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Intercambios, Noche de Hogar y Tramites

Hey Fam,

We got electricity!  After nearly 3 weeks, we finally got it back on Tuesday.  Unfortunately I left Tuesday morning to do intercambios (exchanges) with the Zone Leaders, so I didn´t get to enjoy it until the next day.  Monday we had Noche de Hogar (FHE) con Familia Aspitia, and they had never heard of milkshakes, so I made some for them and they loved it.  Milkshakes and smoothies aren´t a big thing here, but I’m trying to fix that.  Wednesday we got a new, full time missionary to replace the mini missionary.  Elder Willis, from Jacksonville, Florida.  Back to having 4 gringos in the apartment. On Thursday I finally got a haircut, from a miembro, Hermano Keller.  He didn´t really know how to cut hair, but it turned out alright, and saved me 50 pesos, which down here is a lot. We only get 1400 for the month.  Friday I was in the city of Cordoba all day doing tramites, which is just paperwork to make me legal in the country because my travel visa was about to expire.  We had to wake up at 3:30 to make it over there by 6:30 in the morning, and we were there until after 4 in the afternoon.  All I did the entire day was sign 3 pieces of paper. But now I am legal until next August, so that is a good thing.  Also, I was able to catch up with my old MTC buddy Elder Garrett and talk about what’s been going on for the past 2+ months that we´ve been in Argentina. Sunday was solid, we had cake with a converso reciente, Ruth, her one year anniversary of being a member.  She is getting ready to serve a mission of her own, she has already started her papers.  

Milagro (miracle) this week, we had a nonmember show up to conference with her neighbors, name of Catelina, 17 years old.  We passed by her house this week and taught her the Restoration, and she committed to be baptized on the 18th.  And, her father already gave her his permission to be baptized.  She showed up to church yesterday as well, and is really excited to be baptized. Alejandra passed her baptismal interview, but then didn´t show up to church yesterday, so she won’t be baptized until at least the 25th. She has completely stopped smoking though, all she has to do is show up to church.  She believes that it is all true, so we’ll see what happens!  It is hard to write in English, because I now dream and think in Spanish, and the computers tell me that every word is spelled wrong in English.

They are making a big push with family history here, they just got the My Family little booklets.  I actually am supposed to ask you for information and pictures to fill out the book, about all of my great grandparents, grandparents, parents, and the siblings of all those people as well.  There is time in the schedule to exercise everyday, and we almost always eat cold cereal for breakfast, although the new guy wants to start making stuff.  When the electricity was out, we used both flashlights and candles.  We usually teach lessons just at the homes of the investigators, and usually have 2 or 3 set appointments and just drop by for the rest.  We have used the Restoration video, Finding Faith in Christ, and On the Lord’s Errand, the documentary of President Monson’s life. As far as packages go, nobody really gets any, and if you want to send me something for my birthday, you would probably have to send it now for it to get here even close to then.

I’m glad to hear that Hayley’s volleyball team is killing it, and that everybody is having fun at home!  Love and miss you all.

Elder Mangum

PS- No pictures this week, we are at a different internet cafe that has a reputation for destroying SIM cards so I’m not going to risk it.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

General Conference

Hey fam,

This week was pretty good, it flew by.  Still don’t have electricity, it’s been nearly 3 weeks now, and I have gotten used to showering from a bucket.  Not sure if that’s a good thing. The new missionary in our pension had to head home, so he got replaced with a mini missionary from the next stake over. We gave Alejandra a blessing on Tuesday to help her stop smoking, and she hasn’t smoked a cigarette yet! She has a baptismal interview scheduled for tomorrow.  We got to watch all of conference in Spanish, except for one session, and that session just happened to be the one where Elder Holland talked, so that was definitely a blessing!  I would have to say that conference is far more enjoyable to watch in English, when you get to hear their actual voices and the emotion, you can’t really get that with the translators. Didn´t have a problem understanding it in Spanish, and it was cool to listen to people speak in their native tongues, it was neat to see how much Portuguese I could understand, more than I thought I would!  All of the members brought food on Sunday to eat in between the sessions, because they are at 1 and 5 in the afternoon here. 

Couple of thoughts that I really enjoyed from conference.

Elder Callister- The role of a parent is sacred, it is an enormous responsibility to be able to raise and teach children.

Elder Holland- It is a duty to bless and help the poor.  Do what you can, its about love, not statistics. 

Elder Bednar- Disciples of Christ should ALWAYS be valiant missionaries. 

President Monson- Christ´s path will always lead us safely home.

And my personal favorite, from Elder Perry- Who can put a price tag on the influence of a mother on their children?  I loved that one, makes me extremely grateful for the mother I have and all that my parents taught me! 

No extra security from what I have heard, I had heard about what went down in Buenos Aires though. Our mission home already had a 24/7 guard because of the construction on the Temple that is on the same property.  I have plenty of ties, but something that I have not been able to find here is contact solution.  Not sure if I am not looking in the right places or what, but that is something that would definitely come in handy.  What do I miss most from home...probably either my bed or the restroom.  Particularly the shower.  And of course, mi familia as well! 

Hope everybody is doing well, praying for everybody day and night.


Elder Mangum

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

3 Months

Hey everybody,

This week was pretty good.  It is getting hotter and hotter here.  We have yet to get electricity back, so I am still showering from a bucket.  Almost 2 weeks already without it, we will see how long it takes them to turn it back on. On Tuesday we had to go to the hospital to give a blessing to the 75 year old that we had given service to last week, Hermano Alegre.  When we got there he was speaking complete gibberish, but we gave him a blessing and he was at church on Sunday, and was completely fine. Thursday night we went to the Kellers, the most gringo-ish people here, and I made milkshakes for everybody.  It was fun, brought back memories from Bahama Bucks. Also, they had a plant with peppers that they thought were extremely hot, but I popped one in my mouth like it was nothing.  The Argentine definition of Picante is about the norm for mexican food, not spicy at all.  Saturday we had lunch with the Stake President, and helped him trim some of his trees.  He was having a little too much fun with the chainsaw if you ask me.  We just cleared the branches that he cut down, nothing too hard. 

This week we continued teaching Familia Herredia, there are 4 of them, and the "wife" is pregnant. They’re not married.  They are really enjoying the lessons though, and we´ve already taught the law of chastity and they want to get married, they already have all the paperwork and everything, they just need to do it.  They came to church this past Sunday for the first time, and it seemed like they enjoyed it.  They have a plan to get married in the next 3 weeks, so we hopefully will baptize them by the end of the month. They’re a really amazing family, keeping all their commitments and reading the Book of Mormon everyday.  Our other investigator, Alejandra is continuing to struggle to stop smoking, but she is smoking less and less everyday, and she also reads the Book of Mormon everyday, which she says helps her to focus on things other than the next cigarette. It is amazing to see how much happier people are with the gospel in their lives compared to the first time we met them.

As far as needs go, I think I am doing pretty good.  We have a CD player and listen to music, when we have electricity. The happiest moment this past week was seeing the Herredia family walk into church together.  We have yet to use the washing machine, because we have no electricity.  This last week I learned, or rather re-learned, how much the gospel really brings true happiness into people´s lives.  My favorite story in the Bible is probably the life of Christ, particularly the last 36 hours or so of his life.  I am currently about halfway through Jesus the Christ, definitely teaching me a lot.

Glad to hear everybody is doing well.  The work here is definitely progressing, and I am looking forward to conference this next weekend.  You’re all in my prayers every morning and every night!


Elder Mangum