Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas and Transfers

Elder Mangum and Elder Diaz on P-Day

Hey fam,

Transfers came and went, and I am still in Marcos Juarez.  I did change companions, and am now with Elder Diaz, from Uruguay.  He has 8 months in the mission, a young fella with some fire to baptize, so we will definitely be doing some of that this next month.  

The week went by really fast, with a zone meeting on Wednesday, Christmas Eve on Thursday, Christmas on Friday, and transfer calls on Saturday.  Truth be told, we traveled outside of our area every day this past week minus Tuesday. Christmas Eve we hung out with a family until about midnight, saw the fireworks, and went off to bed.  Christmas was awesome this year, being able to talk to the Skype and see everybody. The rest of the day we hung out and played games with the sisters, sang Christmas songs, and just enjoyed the Christmas spirit.

Church on Sunday went well, I didn't have to teach or talk.  It was the primary program here in the ward, which is always a great experience.  After church, we went and visited a few families for my comp to say goodbye, then our branch president drove us to Bellville, where 2 of the sisters are (it’s about an hour away, he made it in a half an hour) so that we could be there for their baptism.  It was a spur of the moment decision, but it was nice to be able to surprise them and show our support, because only about 4 members from their actual branch showed up.  This morning at 3 a.m. we took a bus to Cordoba for transfers and get my new comp.  My whole district is different, I am now the only one who speaks English.  It will be a very different transfer, that is for sure.

I loved being able to talk with all of y’all on Friday.  My favorite part of Marcos Juarez (so far) is the branch president, who is always down to work and help us out.  Best thing I have eaten here, shrimp! 
Love you,
Elder Mangum

Pictures from the Branch's Christmas Party & Nativity


Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas from Argentina!

It was great to Skype with Michael on Christmas morning!  
He was able to get a slightly blurry connection and we were so 
excited to be able to see him while we talked!  



Caroline pretty much just slept through
meeting her big brother!

Feliz Navidad!

Monday, December 21, 2015


Hey fam,

This week was easily one of the craziest I have had in the mission. On Tuesday I got a phone call, telling me that my companion and I had to travel to the province of Tucuman the next day with 30 other missionaries to do paperwork to become legal in the country again, because our visas had expired.  Its a 5 hour bus ride from our area to Cordoba, and 10 hours from Cordoba to Tucuman.  Tucuman is also not part of our mission, it belongs to the Argentina Salta Mission.  We woke up Wednesday morning, and started the road trip!

We got to Cordoba and did some paperwork that afternoon, then had 3 hours of free time to walk around downtown Cordoba and do whatever we wanted before dinner. We visited the huge mall they have, as well as the historical Cathedral.  We then had dinner at the mission home (after a trip to McDonalds to grab a KitKat Mcflurry, because what is a trip to the capital without some Mickey D's!).  After dinner we hopped on the bus and headed off to Tucuman, which is actually the city where Argentina signed its Declaration of Independence.  We traveled all night long, and pulled up to our 4 star hotel at 8 in the morning.  We dropped our stuff off, enjoyed a good ole Argentina hotel continental breakfast, and headed off to the police station to do the paperwork. We show up to the police station, and they tell us that we can't do anything today, and to go back tomorrow.  So we leave, take a picture like I had to do with the passport, and call it a day.  Its only 10AM, and we have done all that we can do.  So I headed back to the hotel with my homeboy Elder Parada from Colombia, and we take a nap til lunch.  Then its off to the 2nd fanciest restaurant in the city, to eat the famous Tucuman empanadas.  Then its free time again, so we walk around the city (its only about 110 degrees outside, but how often do you get "vacation" in the mish?!) Take a few pics, and head back to the hotel.  


It was so hard not to take a dip in the pool that was on the roof...but I managed not to.  

The night rolled around, and we headed off to The fanciest restaurant in town (at 10:30 at night- the whole mission schedule thing was kind of thrown out the window by the people in charge). We had the most diverse Argentine BBQ I had seen.  I'm talking intestine, heart, brain, stomach, blood sausage, you name it and it was on the plate. 

After dinner, we head back to the hotel (you know, its only about midnight and we are walking around in downtown Tucuman) and when we get back, the power in the whole block was out.  A transformer had blown, which was going to make for a long night.  Especially with the heat.  Luckily, I was rooming with my son, Elder Lakey, so we talked until 2AM when the power came back on and we could finally put on the AC. 

The next day, we did all of the paperwork we needed to do, had lunch at the hotel, and vacations were just about over.  They gave us another couple of hours Friday night to go shopping and buy recuerdos, so we did that and headed back to Cordoba.  We got back to our actual area about 12 on Saturday, where I was then told I had to write the transfer reports on my district.  Not sure how coherent they ended up being, but I got them done. 

Yesterday, church was pretty normal. We had branch council for the second week in a row, and I felt bad because I kind of took it over, but at the end of the day everybody left with assignments for people to visit and President told me it was the most effective meeting he had been in, so I guess it was OK.  

Last night, we went Christmas caroling with the sisters and some members in Leones, which was a lot of fun.  One of the sisters plays guitar, so we went around singing with the guitar.  It was interesting to see the people's reactions, because caroling doesn't really exist here.  But they enjoyed it.  The favorites were Din Don Dan (Jingle Bells) and Feliz Navidad.  The highlight was going into an old folks home and seeing their faces as we sang, it reminded me of doing the same thing back at home, and feeling the same Christmas spirit.  

Feliz Navidad!

Tonight we have the Christmas dinner in our branch, as well as the nativity scene.  They told me I am going to be Joseph, not sure how that happened.  It’s going to be another fun filled week!  And to top it all off, transfers are this weekend, so it will be exciting to see where I end up, or if I stay.

Love you all!

Elder Mangum

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Christmas Mission Conference

Our "little" Greenies

Hey fam,

What a week!  I am doing well.  I was able to finish the Book of Mormon this week, and yes, I have started studying it in Portuguese.  Highlights of the week include last Tuesday, where we were supposed to have Branch Council, and only the branch presidency and us showed up.  But we planned then and there to give it another shot for Sunday, after church, and this time around everybody showed up.  Progress, por lo menos!  

Wednesday was district meeting, which is always a good time.  I gave a training on using time wisely, and the eternal principle of planning.  Not the most interesting of topics to tell you the truth, but a very important one.  A lot of rain again this week, so that was a lot of fun as well.

Rainy days = Wet Missionaries
Sunday I gave a talk on Missionary Work, and my comp on the importance of studying the scriptures.  Then in priesthood I gave the lesson on Ch. 23 in the Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, Fortalece tus estacas.  Then we had lunch, and got ready to head off to the Christmas Mission Conference.  We took a bus at 3AM and got to the conference at 8.  If you look at a map, my area is practically in a different province of Argentina, we are only about 15 minutes away from being in the Rosario Mission.  

The conference was a blast. President dressed up as Santa Clause, with the assistants as his elves.  

The spiritual part was in the morning, where President taught us the plan for the Area and the Mission for 2016.  The mission plan in 2016- Baptize More, Retain More, and REactvate more. Work with sincerity, unity with the wards/branches, and always with the end in mind (TEMPLE). The plan is a lot of Sabbath Day and Self Reliance (big focus on teaching tithing and fast offerings to everybody again).

Family Meeting with Elder Lakey
Then a HUGE BBQ for the 200 missionaries, followed by a slideshow of the Mission Argentina Cordoba 2015, and then a talent show. President and his wife bought all of the Elders new ties, which was sweet, mine is an orange paisley design. After the talent show, everybody changed clothes and people played basketball, soccer, Frisbee, and even a little American Football.  It had been a year since I had touched a basketball, it felt so good to play again.  We finished up everything about 10 at night, and then we had to take the 5 hour bus ride back to the area.  Long day, and the bus ride back was a little crazy, none of us in the zone had really slept for about 48 hours.  It was a great week to be a missionary in the best mission in the world.

The 6 Texans in the Mish

Plans this week include going caroling with the sisters on Sunday, and going all out in trying to get a baptism before the end of the year.  Only 2 weeks left until transfers.  Gonna try and get a couple BOSS baptisms- Baptized On the Second Sunday. Gotta find los escogidos.  Love you all, and hope y'all have a great week! Good luck on finals!

Elder Mangum

3 am bus ride to the mission conference

The ride back, also about that same time, but after none of us had 
slept for about 48 hours. It was pretty fun!
Familia Marquez, who always feeds us lunch and dinner 
whenever we need it.  Sometimes both in the same day!
The Hamburgers I made on Pday a couple weeks ago
Me and my pal Valentin

Working in the Sisters Area

Monday, December 7, 2015

"Missionarying" & Christmas Video

Hey fam,
Pretty normal week in Marcos Juarez.  A week of knocking, talking, and "missionarying" as the people here say.  This week was a zone meeting, I gave another training on the importance of working with members, with a focus of the Law of Witnesses.  Like I've said before, I like to teach principles that apply in more ways than just knocking doors and finding people.  We were able to meet with several of the branch leaders and organize branch council, which will be tomorrow for the first time in several months.  Communication and organization are key in the work of salvation.  
No investigators in church, and only 23 people showed up, felt like a day back in Aimogasta.  This weekend (including today and tomorrow) is a huge holiday, I think its Day of the Virgin or something.  Miracle of the week.  An old lady stopped us on the street on Friday, telling us that she had talked with the Sisters in a different city that morning, and wanted us to visit her house and teach her and her grandson, Kevin.  An hour after she stopped us on the street, the sisters sent us a text message saying "We have a reference for you."  It was the same lady that we had talked with. This week we also were able to work with the other sisters in Leones, going door to door to share the Christmas video of the year and hand out a Christmas message that they had put together, which was pretty productive.  We went out with a member from their branch, and everybody knew him, so they were much more willing to open the door to us and accept the message.  
Sounds like it was a great week back home!  Glad to hear that everybody is doing well.  My favorite time of day is study time.  Favorite part of the week, Wednesdays, being able to teach the other missionaries.  Something I will miss from this area...the branch president.   He is a recent convert, but super cool.  Christmas goals, finish the Book of Mormon before the Christmas mission conference that is next Monday.  I am in Helaman.  I only started last week, so I should finish in time.  Then I'll read it in Portuguese.
Love you all!

Elder Mangum

A Savior is Born

Monday, November 30, 2015

Otro Mes

Hey fam,

Otro mes in the books!  On to December.  Life is normal down here in Marcos Juarez.  This week was pretty average, although we did have interviews with President on Saturday, which was unexpected.  

Wednesday we had district meeting in Leones, and the ZLs came down (they always come to my meetings...not sure if that is a good or a bad thing...)  I gave a training on how to teach in a way that the investigators can understand, and that "understanding the doctrine"  means applying it to your own life.  After the meeting, the sister from Brazil cooked stroganaugh.  Nothing like Mom's, that is for sure.  Apparently it is completely different in Brazil than in the states, although it was quite delicious.  Its just rice and meat, with a special sauce.  It was good, despite the fact the sister had burnt the rice...but with the sauce, you couldn't even taste it!  It is always an adventure when the sisters cook, but I am sure they say the same thing whenever us Elders cook as well.

Saturday we had interviews with President.  They were supposed to start at 5...Prez showed up at 9.  We got back to our area at 2 in the morning.  Quite the night.  But it was good to be able to sit and chat with President, even if it was a pretty quick interview given the time that we had.  While we waited for President, we did an "Open Chapple"  which is where we contact people in the street and invite them to take a tour of the church.  I went on a 30 minute split with Elder Ware from Utah, who has all of 7 weeks in the field.  It was nice to speak a little English. Sunday went OK.  The same member gave the classes in the second and combined third hour.  We talked about Elder Oaks talk "Good, Better, Best."  It is an excellent talk, I highly recommend it.

Something new that I have done, a ton of cooking.  Today I made burgers for the district, it seems that I am cooking a lot more in these last 2 areas.  No Christmas songs yesterday.  My favorite Christmas hymn is I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, but singing it with a good tempo, not too slow.  Argentine traditions, stay up until midnight on Christmas and shoot off fireworks.  That is about it.  And lots of asado (BBQ).

Sounds like Caroline has been getting quite a bit of attention!  I am glad to hear that Thanksgiving went well.

Love you all!

Elder Mangum

Monday, November 23, 2015

Counting Blessings

Hey fam,

What a week!  A new Mangum in the house and everything!  Bienvenidos Caroline!  Down here in Argentina, things weren't quite as crazy as back home, but it went well. We were able to find lots of new people, and Jesus showed up out of the blue at church again, with a few more tattoos than the last time we saw him, but its all good! 

Tuesday and Wednesday were pretty normal, and Thursday we had a zone meeting, and I gave a training on the Holy Ghost.  The importance of recognizing it (and how we can do that), and using it as we teach.  From the feedback I got, it seems like it went well.  Zone conference is in Bellville, an hour away. We got back to our area that night, and there had been a huge storm, and the whole city lost power.  For the next 48 hours they were rotating generators neighborhood by neighborhood.  We would have power 2 hours, and then nothing for 4. That went on until Sunday.

Friday, we went to Leones to work with 2 of the sisters.  Leones is a town even smaller than ours, not exactly the easiest area in the world.  But we went, and tried to help them out, and we found a couple of people for them to start teaching. Sunday here was normal, aside for the whole Argentina electing a new president. Not too much political unrest.  And they did vote for a huge change.   We received a message from the Area Presidency that after 4pm, we had to be in the pension for safety reasons.  So it was church (where for the first time in a long time we didn't have to do anything except attend!) and then lunch, and then back to the apartment.  But it was good, being able to read quite a bit in the Book of Mormon, which is always important!

This week, should be a pretty normal week, no activities here for Thanksgiving.  Mmmm, Turkey with gravy.  Gravy doesn't exist here.  I miss thatJust gotta keep on keeping on!  Counting every blessing that comes my way, and baby Caroline is a big one!  Enjoy Thanksgiving!

Love you all!

Elder Mangum

Monday, November 16, 2015

Staying in Marcos Juarez

And the Rain came tumbling down...

Hey fam,

Life is good.  Man, transfers were crazy.  Not really, just about everything stayed the same.  I am in the same area with my same comp, Elder Venegas.  And only 1 of the 4 sisters got changed, so the district is pretty much the same as well. We will be spending Christmas together, the next transfers are the 27th of December.  

The week went well.  Last Monday we had Pday as a district, which was a lot of fun. Tuesday was just another day in field.  Wednesday was the last District meeting of the transfer, where I gave a training on Power and Authority. Page 4 of PMG (in Spanish).  I talked about how we get the authority when we get set apart as missionaries, but if we want to preach with power, that requires a little bit more effort on our part.  Obedience, diligent study, etc.  We did a pretty cool practice, where we set the room up as if it was a plaza, and one companionship had 5 minutes to contact everybody in the plaza using the Book of Mormon, and trying to find who was the most prepared. Of course, speaking with the power and authority that corresponds with our calling as well.  

Thursday, it rained.  And rained.  And kept on raining.  All day long. The city had a bit of flooding. Did I mention it rained?  And that I have a hole in my shoe?  Not a good combination.  But we had fun, because in situations like those, you just have to enjoy it!  Running across the city, contacting in the rain and just having a blast.  Friday, the highlight was that we taught a part member family about the Sabbath Day and baptism, using Alma 7:11-16

Saturday, we went to Leones (a town about 15 minutes away) where the 2 of the sisters are, to listen to transfers.  It was surprising that so many of us stayed the same.  It will definitely be another fun transfer!  Sunday was interesting, they asked us to help out in primary because the kids were acting up.  It was the older kids as well, the 10 and 11 year olds.  I am not ready to be a primary teacher.  The lesson was on Matthew 25, and the poor teacher was fed up with the kids.  So I had everybody stand up and we acted out the end of Matt 25.  I put all of the kids who were acting up on my left, and all those who were mas o menos behaving themselves on my right.  It got their attention, especially when I quoted the scriptures on what Christ will say to each group.  It definitely put things in a new perspective for the kids, and for me as well. 

The part member family didn't make it to church.  Something I learned this week...that I still have much to learn in this area and with my comp!  There is no piano in the branch.  6 more weeks in Marcos Juarez...should be fun.  Glad to hear all is well.  Should be an exciting week in the Mangum fam!  And that is awesome about Kev!

Love you all!

Elder Mangum

District Training

District P-Day

Monday, November 9, 2015

Zone Training

Hey fam,

Todo bien aquí en Marcos Juarez.  It was a pretty good week.  On Wednesday the Zone Leaders asked me to give another training to the Zone, this time on the importance of the Book of Mormon.  A lot that had to do with the conference we had last week, but more focused on how to use it in our daily lives as missionaries (and after the mission as well).  Whenever I give trainings, I like to focus on the eternal principle behind the concept, the "why" it is important, and not just in the mission. Lots of people give trainings on how to find new people or the importance of the mission schedule, but I prefer the Joseph Smith way- teach the people correct principles and they will govern themselves.

This week we had a miracle, one of the part member families that we have been working with, showed up to church on Sunday!  The woman is a member, but her "husband" (they aren’t married but they live together) isn't a member, and they showed up for all 3 hours yesterday! It was awesome.  They like to go out and party on the weekends, the clubs here open up at 2AM, and the hermana told me that she woke up at 2, planning to go clubbing, but her husband said no we’re going to church, we can`t go out tonight.  And they came, which was fantastic.  And they are planning to come this next week as well, with their 3 kids.  Definitely the highlight of the week!  Plus the huge BBQ this same family made for us after church, it was finger licking good!  That is one thing here in Argentina that I love, the beef!

Church went well this week, I didn't have to teach or speak, just bless the sacrament. My comp is doing well, but transfers are this weekend and he has been here for 4 months, so we will see!  Tell Luke my favorite Christmas song is the Jingle Bell Rock.  Followed by a close second of Mele Kelikimaka. Sounds like you guys had a great week!  I would send more pictures, but I don`t have the luxury of technology like my buddies do.  

Love you all, and read the Book of Mormon!  Daily!

Elder Mangum

Monday, November 2, 2015

Mission Conference

Mission Conference Oct 2015

Hey fam,

16 months as a missionary!  It feels more like 16 days to be honest, time just flies by.  The week went well, no news on Jesus G, he seems to have dropped off the face of the earth.  This week we got to go to Cordoba for a conference with about half of the missionaries of the mission, which was a blast.  It’s always great to listen to President and his wife.  In the conference, the focus was on the Book of Mormon and the Sabbath Day - 2 huge instruments in the role of retaining converts, as well as in our own personal conversion.  We talked about that the people we teach really only have one doubt, and that is if the Book of Mormon is true.  Because if it’s true, everything else falls into place.  

This week I also had the opportunity to do a baptismal interview for an 8 year old girl, who proceeded to teach me the 5 missionary lessons.  She will be the only member in her family, aside from her 23 year old uncle who is about to go out on a mission.  She was extremely prepared, and the sisters have only been teaching her for a month.  However, when Saturday rolled around, she showed up to her own baptism crying, due to problems her family was having.  After waiting over an hour, she decided to postpone her baptism for a different weekend. It taught me a huge lesson concerning our free agency as sons and daughters of God.  In the church we don't force anybody to do anything, we have to use our agency.  It was also good to remember that agency is a gift, it’s part of the process that we have to be able to progress.  There is a consequence for every decision that we make, be it a good one or a not so good one.  

We do have Halloween here, but it’s not nearly as big as it is back at home.  Investigators of ours are MIA, we were only in our area 2 days this week with the travel to Cordoba and helping the sisters with the baptism.  There is a branch mission leader, and there are about 6 youth in the branch.  I didn't teach YM, this week I taught YW!  There were only 2, and I taught about giving thanks.  We organized an activity for the Friday after Thanksgiving, to have a Thanksgiving of our own down here. Sunday was my second Fast Sunday in the ward, which was filled with quite a bit of silence. This week I will be in Helaman studying. 

It is beginning to feel a bit more like spring now.  Today I made peach cobbler...didn't exactly come out the way it was supposed to, but the flavor was there! Sounds like things are going great at home!  I am glad that everybody had a good week.  

Love you all!

Elder Mangum

Monday, October 26, 2015

Planting Seeds

Hey fam,

This week went well.  Jesus Guttierrez didn't show up to church, despite meeting with him several times during the week, so the baptism will be pushed back for the time being.  The highlight of my week was probably receiving a text telling me that one of the kids I had started teaching back in La Rioja got baptized this weekend.  5 months later, but I remember finding him during an intercambio in the capital and putting the first baptismal date goal with him.  Him, plus the three in Carlos Paz that got baptized this week, really motivate me, because although I may not be there in the area, I was an instrument in the Lord's hands in planting the seeds, and now we are seeing the fruits of our labors.  Other highlights of the week including eating fried cow heart, and shrimp!  Cow heart is much better fried than grilled.  Shrimp was a highlight because here it is super expensive and rare. 

During the week, the sisters in my district were visited by some of  the Sister Training Leaders from Cordoba, who also came and visited my district meeting.  Truth be told, when I gave the capacitación, it felt a little bit like teaching Relief Society, 6 sisters and my comp.  But it went well, I do enjoy teaching.  I talked about the importance of working efficiently, and not just diligently.  It’s great to work hard, but let’s be smart about it.  And then I talked a little bit about enjoying the work, learning to love missionary work.  I reviewed the basic principle that at the rate we serve others (the people, our comp, etc) we learn to love them.  And once we learn to learn to love the people (and most importantly, the Savior) we learn to love missionary work.  I mentioned Mosiah 15:7-9, and that despite having suffered for us, paying for every mistake that we would ever make, he ascended to heavens, full of compassion and love for us. 

Yesterday was fun as well, they called me last minute asking me to give a sacrament meeting talk on rescuing the less actives, and about 2 minutes before priesthood they asked me to give the lesson in young mens. I taught the lesson on patience. You just need to talk to them about soccer, then they start paying attention.  It was so funny, as soon as I made an analogy about sports, it totally caught their attention.  As a missionary, you learn to be prepared for just about anything!

We have had branch council once since I got here.  I have given 1 blessing in this area.  No activities, another thing that we are working to improve.  I didn't ever practice the Peruvian dance, but I can't get the music out of my head...

Sounds like everybody had a great week, and the trunk or treat looked like it was a lot of fun.  If it comes down to a vote for the name (and my choice gets the boot), I'm for Caroline.

Love you all!

Elder Mangum