Monday, February 23, 2015

Zone Conference

Hey fam (and everybody else in the Maplehood!)

It is great to hear from you!  The week was really good, highlights include exchanges with the other members of the district on Wednesday and the Zone Conference on Friday.  

Wednesday we went in to La Rioja Capital and did intercambios with La Quebrada. I was with Elder Southwick from Utah in the morning (he has about 16 months in the mission) and Elder Golding from Idaho in the afternoon (he has the same amount of time as me.)  We had to do exchanges like that because President was asking reports from the district leaders a week early, and we had not done any intercambios yet.  2 birds with one stone.  Or in this case, 2 exchanges in 1 day.  It was a lot of fun.  Every time we go and do exchanges with these Elders, it pours down rain.  Elder Southwick and I got completely soaked in the morning, running in the rain from appointment to appointment.  We managed to get some trash bags to throw our backpacks in so our scriptures wouldn't get ruined.  Good times, and what is funny is that the only times it has ever rained in my 3 months here, is when we go and do exchanges.  For lunch the 4 of us Elders got back together, and each of us ate an entire chicken.  Yes, you read that right, an entire chicken each.  We were hungry.  In the afternoon I was with Elder Golding, and we had a great time, talking about the MTC and Dr. Pepper.  We were not in the same district in the MTC, so we did not know each other until we got to Argentina, but it was sweet to swap MTC stories and mission stories with somebody who has been out the same amount of time as I have.

Friday was the conference, and that was really enlightening.  My comp and I got to get up in front of everybody (about 40 missionaries) and teach the Area President and his wife about the Book of Mormon and invite them to read and pray about it, everybody said we did a good job.  My comp just got up and started walking up to the stand when they asked for a volunteer companionship, so I had to follow!  But we did well.  A big focus of the conference was the Book of Mormon, and the important role that it should play in each of our lives.  In section 84 it talks about the "new covenant of the Book of Mormon" and Elder Gonzolez expanded a little on that, saying how important it is that we read it on a daily basis.  Also, he promised us that if our converts and investigators get started in the habit early of reading the Book of Mormon, they are almost certain to stay active in the church.  It was a really good conference.

On Sunday I talked about the role of the parents, using as an emphasis various examples from the Book of Mormon, such as the Army of Helaman, Alma talking to his sons, and Nephi declaring in the very first verse of the book that he was born of goodly parents.  I started off the talk by paraphrasing (and translating) the country song "Watching You" by Rodney Atkins.  It was a great way to grab everybody's attention to start, and to show how crucial the role and example of the parents are to their children, and how we never know when they are watching.

My favorite part of the week was definitely the conference, very uplifting.  Although the funnest part was the afternoon with Golding.  I saw a bunch of missionaries from the MTC at the conference, I think there were 5 of us there from the 17 that came on the airplane together.  We did eat pretty good this week, empanadas at the conference and chicken on Wednesday, no complaints there.  As far as things I need, I will never say no to socks or ties, and winter clothing would definitely be of use in the coming months.  A couple of sweaters and a pair of gloves, if they are not already en route.  The carnival holiday here this week..not a fan, it kept me up all night.  I probably got about 20 hours of sleep in the past week of so. My favorite color is definitely still Blue!  The kid in the picture  from a couple weeks ago is 10, he is not the deacon who passes the sacrament.

That is an awesome story about Brother Owens, I especially enjoyed the part at the bus stop. I laughed out loud and got various looks from the other people in the internet cafe. Sounds like you all had an awesome, and very busy, week.  Always great to hear about all of y’alls experiences, and congrats to Jake for scoring in the game and Hayley for rocking it in her theatre competition!  

Love you all, and hope you have another fantastic week!  Happy Birthday to Uncle Matt!

Elder Mangum

An Apostle's Testimony of 
The Book of Mormon

Monday, February 16, 2015


Hey fam,

This week was good.  Crazy that we are already almost in March, time is flying.  During the week the zone leaders came and we did exchanges, I was with an Elder from Utah, so it was nice to speak English for a few hours.  During the week we found a couple of new people who seemed to express interest, but we will see how they progress.  This week we had 7 people show up, 5 if you don't include the missionaries, a big drop from the past couple of weeks.  It doesn't make much sense to me, we visit everybody every week, and some weeks lots come, and others nobody comes.  

Wednesday we went to the city La Rioja to practice the medley we are going to sing in the conference this upcoming Friday.  It is 3 or 4 primary songs all put together, ending with We are as the Army of Helaman in English.  It has potential, but we will see how it goes.    Sunday I taught the Gospel Principles lesson on "Jesus Christ, our Chosen Leader and Savior."  Talked a little about the premortal life and how we all had a testimony of the plan of salvation before we chose to came here, and how we chose Christ before the foundation of the world to be our Savior.  It went fairly well, and I ended by showing the Mormon Message "He Lives" with various apostles testifying of Christ.  In sacrament I gave a talk on the principle of service, and how when we serve those around us, we are serving God.  I read some of the hymn A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief. I also read those verses at the end of Matthew 25, great minds think alike! It went really well, the Spirit was definitely strong. 

No pool (font) yet, we have not received the money to buy it.  The best part of the week...once again I would have to say Monday reading the emails.  I am sunburned 24/7 here, but I think my skin is adjusting.  No interesting new people.  My favorite drink..there is an apple flavored soda, that tastes like a mix between apple beer and cream soda that is really good.  We drink quite a bit of that.  We can buy a 3.5 liter container for 17 pesos (about 2 bucks) so I figure that is a pretty good deal.  Man I miss smoothies!

Glad to hear everybody is doing well, and that y’all are enjoying life!  I love hearing about what everybody does during the week.

Love you all!

Elder Michael Mangum

He Lives

Monday, February 9, 2015

A Wedding

Buen día mi querido familia,

This week was a good one, my comp and I are getting into a nice routine and time is starting to fly by.  Tuesday we spent all day disassembling the "baptismal font" which was not really ours, and belongs to a member of the stake presidency that now wants his swimming pool back.  It took the whole day to take it apart and clean it out, we ended up soaked in sweat after hours and hours of working on it, but we did it.  Wednesday we went to La Rioja capital to have a zone meeting.  We talked a lot about the vision for the zone and the mission this transfer, and the 3 things necessary to have progressing investigators. The same 3 things that were necessary for the Liahona to function, Faith, Diligence, and Attention. Then we went to downtown and spent the whole afternoon searching for a new portable pool for baptisms, which we did find, and have planned to buy this next Wednesday when we go again to the capital. 

Friday we had a wedding!  A member got married with a nonmember girl, who has expressed interest in getting baptized, and have come to church before.  They did not come on Sunday, but she has already had all the lessons from the missionaries and knows the doctrine, just needs to apply it to her life (just like the members here).  It was neat to be there at the ceremony, although all it consists of is signing a piece of paper. No exchanging of rings or anything.  

The Wedding

Sunday was really good.  We had 18 people show up, once again a very high number for this branch here.  2 nonmembers who are investigating, so we should have baptisms at the end of the month if they keep coming to church.  I gave a talk on the Plan of Salvation, with an emphasis on how death is not the end, and in reality it is a very small but necessary step in the journey.  It was a good meeting, and hopefully we can maintain attendance around 20 and not drop back down.  We visit all the members here multiple times a week, it is hard for me to understand why they do not make the decision to come.

Glad to hear that everybody is doing well!  That is great that Hayley had the opportunity to give a talk on Temples, they really are a very special place.  They do celebrate Valentines here in Argentina, however as missionaries I do not believe we will be big participants in the celebrations.  Church was all Plan ofSalvation.  Nothing too crazy this week, we do have a conference coming up with the missionaries in Catamarca and La Rioja (2 whole provinces) with WalterF. Gonzalez of the 70, on the 20th of February.  Everything I ate was normal, and all the people do here is sleep. Very rare to see kids playing out in the street (it does not help with the heat we have here).  School is nothing like ours, they go for 4 or 5 hours and that is it.  They can choose whether to go in the morning, the afternoon, or at night.  Very different.  Best part of the!  Writing the family and friends, hearing how everybody is doing!

Love you all!

Elder Mangum

Monday, February 2, 2015

Sacrifice bring blessings!

Hey Fam, 

Happy Groundhog Day! Life in Aimogasta is going well, my companion and I get along really well, we are having a blast. The week was great, we visited all the members that I knew where they lived, and found a couple more members that I had never met. A week of working hard, ended with a record 23 people in Sacrament Meeting. Hard work and sacrifices pay off! We had 3 investigators come, which was awesome. Everybody seemed to bring a less active friend or a nonmember, and the "chapel" was literally full! 

Unlike the last fast and testimony meeting, we actually lasted the full hour! 4 or 5 members got up to share their testimony, as well as us 2 missionaries. I testified with a focus on the plan of salvation and the Atonement. We covered doctrine from all 5 of the missionary lessons, and afterwards multiple members came up saying this was the most powerful church meeting that they had been a part of. They said they very literally felt the presence of the Spirit there with us. Definitely a good week! I listened to a talk this week that Elder Holland gave in the MTC about a decade ago, talking about Missionary Work and the Atonement. Not sure if you all will be able to find it, it’s about 45 minutes long, but extremely powerful. Talked about the importance of focusing on the Atonement in every lesson that we teach, and how when we testify about Christ and his role as the Savior and Redeemer of the world, we invoke the powers of Heaven in a very literal way. It was an awesome talk.

We sang O, God the Eternal Father as our sacrament hymn. The funniest thing was playing games in an FHE with a less active family and a bunch of little kids from their neighborhood. It is as dry as Death Valley here, very little rain. No, I did not eat anything sweet this week. My comp is cool, he is a convert, got baptized when he was 15 and his family kicked him out of the house. After a little while they accepted him back, but then he gave up a position in the government in Peru to come on the mission, and they disowned him. But about halfway through the mission they sent an email saying they want to be baptized, so it’s all good. Another testimony that sacrifices brings blessings! 

Love you guys, hope that everybody is doing well! 
Elder Mangum

Missionary Work and the Atonement
Henry B. Eyring and Jeffrey R Holland

Text taken from Elder Holland's original talk to Missionaries at the MTC in 2000