Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas on the Mish‏

Merry Christmas!

This week was pretty good. Wednesday was Christmas Eve, which was quite different here in Argentina than in the states.  Here every stays up all night and eats food and celebrates outside with their friends and families.  President gives permission for missionaries to be out late, until 1 or 2 AM, if we are with families that live close to the pension.  We ate dinner with a less active family, (which is normal here, there are no active families).  It was fun, then we went back to the pension and slept.  

Studying on Christmas Day

Christmas was very different.  No gifts to unwrap, just read some letters and scriptures!  But it was fun, in its own way, really gives one an opportunity to reflect and be grateful for people and past experiences.  Elder Muñoz and I had a good time, listening to Christmas music in English and in Spanish.  It was a very different Christmas, much quieter than normal, but enjoyable.  Thursday morning I got to talk to my family! We went to 3 different places before we finally found a home where the Skype worked.  It was a family that we had reactivated the day before, they hadn't been to church or talked with the missionaries in months.  Definitely a miracle in my eyes!

Elder Mangum and Elder Munoz

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday flew by.  We visited lots of people, trying to encourage them all to come to church on Sunday.  Attendance on Sunday was better than last week, we made it up to 10 people.  I gave a talk again, this time on setting goals.  There is a really good talk from Elder Cook from this past general conference that talks a lot about it.  Sunday night me and my comp headed to La Rioja Capital, he has to go to Cordoba for a training so I am spending this P-day in a trio with other missionaries.  3 weeks into the transfer, and still yet to have a normal Pday!  

Ready for church in our pension

Schedule is a little different, more time in the pension in the afternoon to cook and eat lunch, plus it is so hot outside that we take our study time in the morning and use some in the afternoon.  During the afternoon in Argentina is the siesta, everybody sleeps and nobody answers the doors.  

Hot and dusty Aimogasto - we love it though!

At church my comp and I take turns teaching Gospel Principles, and we both give talks every week. We use normal sacrament trays and cups.  There is only 1 deacon.  Supposedly there are a couple of YW on the lists, but I have never seen them.  Nothing too different here for the New Years as far as traditions go. 

Love you all!

Elder Mangum

More Pictures from Elder Mangum-

Argentina Cordoba Christmas Mission Conference December 2014

The District con Papa Noel y helpers

Together Again!

Christmas in Aimogasta 2014

 Saying Goodbye to mi familias en Rio Cellabos

Hector's Baptism in Rio Ceballos Dec 13th 2014

Saying goodbye to Familia Funes

Pictures from Rio Ceballos

Tree Stump that reminded me of shape of Texas

Random hail storm we got stuck in

Welcome to Aimogasto

Portable Baptismal Font in our Apartment

Sunday, December 28, 2014

A Christmas Miracle

The day after Christmas we were able to Skype with Elder Mangum in Argentina.  It was the best part of the holidays.  It was so great to see his fuzzy picture and hear his voice.  Because of the remote part of Argentina they are in and the lack of members and limited technology in the area, we knew we wouldn't be speaking to him until December 26th when things were open, and weren't sure if it would be by phone or Skype.  After waiting a few hours on December 26th, the computer pinged and we were in business. On Christmas Day the Elders had made contact with a family that hadn't been to church in months and they invited them in and had a computer that worked with Skype.  It was a Christmas miracle!  We are so grateful to them to having the Elders over so we could talk with Michael.  It was fun to wave and speak our very limited Spanish to them too :)

We started and ended our call with everybody on at once, then each person had a few minutes alone with Michael to talk about the mission, school and whatever they wanted.  Jake asked Michael a lot of great questions and we learned lots of details about his life in Argentina.  They also talked basketball and Michael gave Jake some tips for this new season he is about to start at the Y.

Jake and Michael

Hayley, Trevor and Michael had a lot of stories to swap with each other about school, church and mission.  They had a lot of fun talking to each other.

Hayley and Michael
Trevor and Michael
Lots of Fun Stories 
Luke was excited to show Michael all his Christmas gifts, from the Lego Star Wars fighter he and Jake built to the picture he had gotten of him and Michael before Michael left on his mission.*  Michael has a copy of that same picture with him in Argentina that he shows people when they ask about his family. Luke thought it was pretty cool that they both have it now.

Luke showing Michael his Christmas gifts
Words can't express how great it was to see and talk to our missionary!

Don and Michael

Jean, Michael and Elder Muñoz

We wrapped up the phone call all together again, laughing mixed with a few tears.  Michael said a great family prayer before we ended, that was a treasure in itself.  It was so great to see and hear him, laugh as he unconsciously slipped into speaking Spanish mid sentence, and then he would catch himself, smile and start speaking English.  

We love you Elder Mangum!!

*For a Christmas gift from Michael, each of the kids received a framed picture of themselves doing something with Michael before he left for Argentina and a surprise personal note from him that he emailed me a couple days before Christmas.  It was a special moment on Christmas morning when they all opened their pictures and read their notes from Michael.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


My first week in Aimogasta went pretty well!  Elder Muñoz and I get along great, no language barrier between us with the Spanish which is fantastic.  Mission Conference yesterday was a blast, President dressed up and Santa (Papa Noel) and we had a ton of food and games.  I got some packages, which will make this Thursday a lot more enjoyable!  Saw a lot of old friends from the MTC and my first couple of transfers.  We put together a basketball team, with my trainer and a couple of other guys from my first zone, and dominated the mission.  It was a lot of fun to catch up and talk with old people, and of course I am never going to complain about a little basketball!  

The week was good, we are teaching a ton and time is flying by.  The good thing about the branch is that all the people are either less active or recent converts, so everybody that we visit has a purpose and a necessity that we need to help out with.  We had 8 people show up on Sunday to church, including the missionaries. 2 were investigators.  Definitely a little different than back home!  I gave a talk on the birth of Christ and the meaning of Christmas, which went pretty well.  I will be pretty comfortable giving talks by the end of this area, it is a weekly occurrence here.  The branch comes to the apartment to meet up every Sunday.  We run the branch as missionaries, the mission president is trying to get us officially called and set apart so that we can have the keys and make everything run more effectively. My comp and I are the branch presidency, unofficially. There is no branch presidency called, we are an annex of a branch that is over 2 hours away. There is not another area like this one in the mission, so I'm not sure if that means I am on the President's naughty or nice list. I would imagine nice, he must have some trust in us to put us here. It's been fun so far, the first week flew by.  

We have electricity in about half of the apartment, but not the bathroom.  We bathe ourselves with a bucket in the dark every morning.  The most different thing about the new area is the lack of people.  There may have been more people at Lamar than there are in this town.  The food is all noodles that me and my comp make, there are no members to feed us.  No plans for Christmas, just me and my companion celebrating solo.  We have a small blow up pool that we use for baptisms in the apartment. Hopefully I will get to use it within these next couple of weeks!  

As far as what you can pray for, just I guess that I´ll stay healthy and well. This will probably be the most difficult area, we talked with President yesterday and he said there is a reason that it is us 2 serving in the branch.  There is not another area like this in the mission.  We´ll have some fun though, and baptize!  The people are really humble and receptive to the teachings, so that is great!  Thanks for the update on the fam, it is always great to hear that everybody is excelling. I will Skype home on the 26th in the morning. Hopefully the skype will work. The are no members to do it from their house, so we have to go to an internet cafe and all are closed on Christmas day. We should call between 7 and 9 in the morning your time. Hope its not too inconvenient. In all honesty it may end up being a phone call with the technology of this town. But we will see what happens!  

Love you all!

Elder Mangum

PS:  Y’all might get a laugh out of this.  The address of the chapel is: The house of the ex-mother in-law of Ringo Luna.  It’s a little different, but everybody knows it!

Monday, December 15, 2014


Hey family!

Well I got transferred!  I am now in a totally different province of Argentina.  I am in Aimogasta, in the province of La Rioja.  The climate is a lot like Arizona, for the summer, which starts next week, it’ll average about 120 degrees in dry heat.  Gotta love changes!  Saying goodbye wasn’t easy, and it was 8 hours on bus to get to my new area.  I left last night at midnight, haven’t really gotten any sleep, so sorry if this email doesn’t make much sense!

The week was really good.  Hector got baptized on Saturday, and Alejandra and Catalina are continuing strong in the faith!  Hector was just a contact on the street 3 weeks ago, but it is amazing to see how God has prepared people all their lives for a specific moment to meet the missionaries.  He was definitely what we call escogido.  We also were teaching two people, Ester and Carolina, that were progressing nicely before I left and should be baptized in Rio Ceballos by the end of the year.

Yesterday was one of the hardest days of the mission, saying goodbye to what really had been my home and family for the past 4 months. Particularly to people such as Alejandra, Catalina, and Hermana Martinelli who have really played a significant role in my life in the time I was there. But the call is from God, and there is a quote from President Eyring that says God knows our areas that we will be in, and the companions as well.  I am with Elder Muñoz, from Nicaragua.  It is just us 2 in the pension, which is also the chapel.  It is a branch of about 15 people, and we are the branch presidency.  We conduct the meetings and give talks every week, as well as teach the lessons.  Church is only 2 hours though, just sacrament and Gospel Principles.  I am pumped to get to work here, they have quite a few baptisms already lined up for the rest of the month, the people here are really humble and eager to learn.

We didn’t do a ton of gift sharing this week, but we did hand out a few cards each day.  Best thing I ate was fried chicken and french fries with Familia Aspitia yesterday before I left.  A song we sang this week, It Came upon a Midnight Clear.   I play the piano when I get the chance, which won’t happen at all in this area seeing as there is no piano.  We will be showering from a bucket again, because that is the norm in this area.  It is in the 80s and 90s now, which is nothing compared to what it will be in a few weeks!  My favorite flavor candy cane is just the classic red and white.  

I’m glad to hear that everyone is doing well, and is excited to wrap up this first semester of the school year!  We have a mission conference with the entire mission next Monday back in Cordoba (more bus rides!), so I’m not sure when the next email will be, either Monday or Tuesday probably. Good luck everybody on this last week of school!  Love you!

Elder Mangum

Monday, December 8, 2014

Share the Gift

Hey fam,

This week was a good week, another one that flew by.  This whole transfer has been a fast one, we are already down to the last week of it!  On Tuesday we had the opportunity to visit an elderly member who lives in a nursing home.  She had been doing some proselyting of her own, and wanted us to come and visit.  It was quite a bit of fun, at one point I was completely surrounded by wheelchairs and walkers, teaching 4 or 5 different people over the age of 80 at once, and my companion was in the same situation about 15 feet away.  It was definitely a good experience, to be able to answer their questions and teach them, primarily concerning the Plan of Salvation.  

We continued to teach Hector/Hugo (same person, he goes by both names) throughout the week, and he came to church again yesterday. We’re planning his baptismal service for this Saturday, he is really excited.  He views it as an opportunity to start over, to be a different and better person, a new beginning with his eyes focused on God and Jesus Christ.  Those are his very own words, which are always good to hear from the investigator.  

Sunday was good, always love fast and testimony meeting.  It’s not as much fun as it is at home, but it is close some months!  We also had ward council, which was good, only the 2nd time in my nearly 5 months here that we have had it, but it went well.  Some people don’t realize it, but these little frequent meetings with all of the auxiliaries really make the ward function smoother.

Hermano Keller is killing it in his callings, we’ve already met twice in the week since he’s been called.  He knows the doctrine of missionary work.  It is definitely getting hotter, and that is what Christmas looks like here!  We have pass along cards for the Share the Gift initiative, and we report the results to the missionary department on how it is going.  I have gotten a couple letters from friends and the Owens and Sister Hagen.  The funnest thing I did this week was the nursing home experience.  No Christmas trees yet, and they are planning a Christmas/end of the year ward party.  My favorite scripture this week was Helaman 5:12, a lot of focus on that this week.  We were not able to watch the devotional last night, it was broadcast here at 10 at night.  Sounds like you all are having a blast with friends and family back home!  Love and miss you all.

Elder Mangum

Monday, December 1, 2014


Hey family,

This week was a really good week, much better than the past couple.  We found a new investigator on Monday night, who ended up coming to church yesterday.  His name is Hugo, and he’s about 60, with a potential baptismal date this month for the 13th.  Tuesday we did intercambios within the district, I was with Elder Richardson, which was fun because we both got to this area at the same time about 4 months ago.  We visited an elderly hermana in the ward who is practically bedridden because of her health, but she knows the doctrine of the church.  She taught us for about an hour, it was really interesting to listen to, and an experience that once again affirmed to me the veracity of the gospel.  

Thursday was Thanksgiving!  Except it isn’t celebrated here, so it was just a normal day of work.  We did have dinner with la familia Keller though, which is always a good time.  Friday we had dinner with Famila Lehite, he was our ward mission leader but a couple weeks ago he was called as the new Elder’s Quorum President. It’s not normal that we had 2 dinners in one week, the big meal here in Argentina is lunch, but it was nice for a little change this week.  Saturday was pretty fun, we had lunch with the Kellers again, and afterwards as we were walking and proselyting, it started pouring down rain and hail.  We got soaked to the bone, and the temperature dropped like 20 degrees.  It was cold, and definitely an experience I won’t be forgetting!  

Sunday Hugo came to church and said he enjoyed it, so that was good.  Hermano Keller got called as Ward Mission Leader, he is now both the executive secretary to the Bishop and the ward mission leader, and his wife is Young Women’s president.  They’ve got their hands full, and that’s not counting the 7 month old baby they have.  They are definitely one of my favorite families in the ward, and they speak English, which is a rarity for a couple under the age of 25 here. Sunday we also had a really good lesson with Cataline about the importance of the sacrament.  We read 3rd Nephi18:1-12, and explained what it meant, and what the sacrament meant to us personally.  It was a really good lesson, the spirit was definitely there in abundance testifying!  

We sing Christmas songs in the pension, but none in church yet.  I haven’t ate anything in particular that has made me sick, nor have we had seconds of anything this week, because with the 4 of us in the pension most of the meal is gone within 15 minutes.  A scripture that I shared this week would be Doctrine and Covenants 58:31.  Favorite tradition is just eating together during the holidays, that is definitely something I am going to miss. Haven’t seen any Christmas decorations yet, but I will let you know when I do!  The thing I like best about Argentina would probably be the food, I have had some really good meals.  

I am glad to hear that everybody is doing well and enjoyed Thanksgiving!  Now you’ve got 3 weeks more of school, and then even more vacation!  It will be a fun time, I always love this time of year.  Love you all!

Elder Mangum