Monday, March 30, 2015

Little Miracles & A Birthday

Hey fam,

This was a really good week, I had a lot of fun.  Lots of little miracles as well.  This week we did about 80% repairs on the Chapel/Pension.  We put in new fluorescent lights, a new sink, and now all that is left is fixing the water pressure so that we can shower.  Then we will buy a few things to improve the pension, like plates and spoons!  Basic necessities to live. 

Wednesday we did exchanges with the other missionaries in the district, I was with Elder Aranda from Spain.  We were only together for a few hours, but we had a good time.  We had lunch and visited with a family that got baptized back in December, which was fun to talk about how they got baptized and the missionaries that taught them (one of which was in the MTC with me that I know pretty well.)  Elder Aranda has only been out in the field about 6 months, so I was the lead missionary in everything. We got a couple of references, and had an overall successful day in his area.

Thursday was a day of miracles.  The zone leaders came down from the Capital and did exchanges with us, I was with Elder Agren from Utah.  We tried to visit a few members, but nobody let us in. Finally we went to a house of a member who hasn’t talked to us since last year, came to church two or three times, got baptized in November, and never showed up again.  Miraculously, she let us in, and we had a very nice lesson.  Then, en route to the hotel to end the day, we contacted a family of 7, Familia Sosa, who let us in to their house, gave us cake, and we taught them Lesson 1.  They understood it well, and committed to praying.  We are going to pass by today or tomorrow, they weren’t able to come to church, but they have a ton of potential.  A complete family here where the parents are actually married!  That never happens!

Sunday, more miracles.  We had visitors from the stake come!  First time in the 3 years of the area that has happened!  A member of the high council, and a counselor in the Stake Relief Society Presidency came and gave talks.  Also the first time in 4 months that I did not have to speak in sacrament meeting.  We had 19 people at church, including 3 investigators!  Elisa, Emilia Barrionuevo (the wife of the member who got married 2 months ago) and somebody who had come a couple of months ago that just showed up randomly!  Elisa and Emilia should be getting baptized this week, we just need to find an adequate source of water to actually perform the baptism.  We just got permission (as I am writing this email) to baptize in the pool of the hotel during the hours of the siesta (2-6 in the afternoon).  Another miracle!

All in all, a really great week.  As far as birthday celebrations for me today, nothing too crazy.  Just a lunch with a member, and maybe dinner at the restaurant in the hotel.  A pretty laid back day.  I definitely don’t feel 19, I feel like just yesterday was the surprise 18th birthday party at the Hickmans!  I am looking forward to conference this weekend, it should be really good.  Hopefully we find a way to be able to watch it here in Aimogasta.  If we don’t, we will travel to the capital to watch.

The most exciting thing this week was finding the Familia Sosa.  And having visitors from the Stake.  The Stake high councilman said he was going to recommend sending 2 more missionaries here to make us a total of 4 in the area, and to send somebody from the stake or branch on a weekly basis, as well as a few other things.  I think that would be really good!  This coming week, General Conference is what I am looking forward to most!  A song we sang, ¡Mirad Reales Huestes! My favorite story of Jesus, walking on the water, and the experience with Peter there.  Anything to eat on my birthday..a toss up between Uncle Zeb’s and a Whataburger Honey BBQ Chicken Strip Sandwich with a Dr.Pepper.  My favorite thing in Argentina, bife de chorizo, a cut of Argentine steak.

Love you all!  Have a fantastic week!  Remember to go into Conference with a specific challenge/question and you will get your answer!


Elder Michael Mangum

Jesus Walking on the Water - Wherefore Didst Thou Doubt?
Matthew 14:25-33

Prepare to Be Inspired
Finding Answers at General Conference

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


Hey fam,

The week was pretty good.  Our district meeting in the capital went well, then my companion and I went to the matrimonial missionaries’ house and he took his final English exam.  He passed it, and now he gets a certificate from BYU saying that he can speak English.  Our hard work paid off!  This week, the best food I ate was a milanesa completa.  Fried steak, fried eggs, and french fries.  So while I couldn't be at the rodeo eating fried oreos, I got my fair share of fried food this week.  

Saturday we traveled to a little pueblito outside of Aimogasta to teach an investigator that had already come to church several times.  We had not had money to take the bus to go visit, but the money arrived this week and we were able to go and put a tentative baptismal date.  Either this weekend or the next one, Elisa should be getting baptized.  She is an older woman, about 56, but very humble and eager to learn.  The desire to change is there, and I love to see that.  

Sunday we had an attendance of 13.  An improvement from last week.  Elisa couldn't make it, her daughter was sick, but a less active, Fabian, and his nonmember wife showed up for the first time.  (They are the ones who got married back in February).  That was a pleasant surprise for us, because it was all their decision, we had not visited or seen them in several weeks.  This upcoming week we have exchanges with both the zone leaders and the other missionaries in our district, so it should be an exciting week.

At church this week, I spoke on Lesson 3 in PMG, and the Gospel Principles class was a little on the life of Christ.  Growing up in the church, I think I have taken for granted all of the stories about His life, because the people here know little to nothing.  So we showed some Bible videos, and it went well.  No plans or customs for Easter here that I know of.  We are working on trying to get a laptop, HDMI cable, and television for the chapel on Sunday so that we can watch at least one session of conference.  The most unusual thing that happened this week...that may be a story I save for when I get back.  

Speaking of exciting weeks, sounds like everybody back home was pretty busy!  2 mission calls, the beach, the rodeo, church activities, sounds like a blast!  I am really proud of Ty and Andra, my brothers from other mothers.  Brazil and Czechoslovakia, that is exciting.  Definitely 2 places I was not expecting for either one, but they will both have an amazing time.  

We still wash everything by hand.  Zone meeting is once a month, the rest are all district meetings.  No packages, but I did get your letter in the mail with 2 pictures and experiences from Grandpa.  Hard to believe I got my call over a year ago. Time flies!  Hope everybody is doing well.  Love you all!

Elder Mangum

Monday, March 16, 2015

Zone Meeting

Hey fam,

Another hot week here in Aimogasta!  We are supposed to be entering fall here, but it is as hot as ever.  A solid week overall, on Tuesday the family who stormed out of church a week ago called us because the father was sick and needed a blessing,  so we thought we were making progress with them.  Then Thursday he called the stake president because he had a question about when Stake Conference was, but he didn't like the way the Stake President answered the phone, so he threw another fit.  No, they did not come to church Sunday, and they didn’t attend us when we visited them with a member Sunday after church.  Everybody’s got their agency!

The full week in the hotel was great, showers and breakfasts, so life is good.  Friday we had a zone meeting with all the missionaries in La Rioja.  There are 3 greenies fresh out of the MTC this transfer in the zone.  I am actually the 4th oldest missionary in the zone in terms of experience, so that gives you an idea of how young the zone is.  I have also been in La Rioja longer than anybody else in the zone.  It was actually kind of funny during the meeting, because the Zone Leader asked a question and said "we’ll start with the people with the most experience here..Elder Mangum, what do you think?" Kind of took me by surprise, but it is true!  After the meeting, 8 of us went to that same restaurant with the Tanners to eat lunch, another Pollo Napolitano for me.  Friday was a really good day.

Sunday at church, we had a grand total of 9 people show up.  Definitely a drop from the 20 or so we had been having the past couple of weeks. Also, 5 of them were under the age of 13. I spoke on Faith during Sacrament Meeting.  Definitely a very different sacrament meeting where the majority are primary children listening. Sundays like these make the whole week hard.  All that work, and so few results. But the results will come, no doubts about that.

In church we sang the song  "Firmes creced enla fe" (hymn 166 in the Spanish hymnbook, I am having a mental block and can't translate the song into English.  It’s the one "shall the youth of zion falter...No!".) No exchanges this week.  Answered prayers..does it count that BYU got into the tournament?  Just kidding, yeah there were, with the zone meeting, there were some doubts that it would go as well as it did.  But all went smoothly.  What type of toast do I eat?  Well it’s the one where you have bread, that has been put in the far as jelly, they have peach at the hotel, so another small blessing!

Glad to hear that everybody had a great week, and now it is spring break! Deep Fried Oreos!  Hey when y’all go to the rodeo this week, be sure to win me a Ford King Ranch truck or some type of Ford so that I can have something to drive when I get back home :)  

Have fun!  Hope everybody has a fantastic week!  

Love you all!

Elder Mangum

Monday, March 9, 2015

Staying in Aimogasta

Hey fam,

This week was a good one, and a quick one.  It was the last week of the transfer, and on Saturday we got the phone call...that both me and my companion are staying together here in Aimogasta for another 6 weeks.  I was not surprised, but definitely grateful, because that means I get to enjoy the month in the hotel!  I definitely enjoy the real showers and breakfast in the mornings, first time in months that I have been able to have that.  Although an Argentine breakfast is basically just toast and bacon and eggs and waffles like at hotels back home.  But it is definitely a step up from nothing, so I can't complain!  

Church yesterday was...interesting. We did have 20 people show up, so that was good, but then the real fun started. My comp gave the first talk, and started off the talk by saying how yesterday we got the call for transfers and that he is sorry to say that  he "is stay here for another transfer to finish" his mission.  A family in the back got up and left when he said that, and the Dad told me as they left that they would not be coming back until this missionary left.  It has been an ongoing drama with this family and my comp this whole past transfer.  But we'll go visit the family and try and figure stuff out.  Sometimes its hard being a missionary, but hey, people have their agency to choose.   

On the bright side this week, we found a family that lives on the same street as the church, really it's 2 families, so we will see how that progresses.  I am hoping to have a bit more success these next 2 months here in Aimogasta, its been too long in between baptisms for my liking.  But we are having a solid attendance of about 20 nearly every week now, so the talk is to find a bigger place to move into in order to have sacrament meeting.  So the work is moving forward!

Sounds like y'all had a really good week!  And wow, HP doesn't play, they really go all out with their activities.  Man, I would love to eat a jalapeno, they don’t have spicy food here. I haven’t had chili since the USA. Should have gone with the peach cobbler Mom...haha but it sounds like it was a blast!  

Answers to your questions - The best hotel food...yesterday in the morning they did have a small pastry with cream in the middle that was pretty good.  During church I spoke on the baptismal covenant, and the "Why" we come to church.  Because until these people understand the basics, how am I supposed to get up there and talk about the more complicated stuff.  No spirits or devils lately, but we did talk to a drunk guy that wanted to Bible bash with us the other day.  But it wasn't very fun, because he was drunk, and didn't know the Bible.  Not a good combination for somebody who wants to talk religion.  Scriptures I have been focusing on – 1 Nephi 3:7, always a good one.  Also, Hebrews 5:4.

Love you guys, glad to hear that all is going well!

Elder Mangum

"Will We Be Willing?"

Monday, March 2, 2015

Pollo Napolitano

Hey fam,

This week was really good.  We found a couple of new people, and just had an all around good time.  Wednesday was a lot of fun, we had district meeting in La Rioja Capital, and then went to lunch with the senior couple, the Tanners.  They blew a ton of money, the best meal I have had in Argentina.  I had pollo napolitano.  It was chicken covered in ham, cheese, salsa, and it was delicious.   I only ate half, so the other half ended up being my lunch of Thursday as well.  After lunch with the Tanners, we went to their apartment where my companion took a practice English exam.  The mission has a program, where missionaries who do not speak English can take a test and receive a certificate from BYU saying that they know how to speak English, it is pretty cool.  So my comp worked on that, and I talked with Elder Tanner in English for a couple of hours, which was more difficult than you might think.  I kept throwing in Spanish words and phrases.  

Long Bus Rides to La Rioja Capital

On Friday we had the opportunity to go on exchanges with the zone leaders in La Rioja and have interviews with the mission president. I was with Elder Villar from Peru, we taught a couple of really good lessons during the day (and got to have another great lunch from one of the members in their ward) and then the interviews with President rolled around.  That was a really neat experience.  He asked how I was doing, and then we got right to talking about the area, and the changes necessary in order to improve it.  It was really cool, because he asked what I thought would be best, how certain people would do in the branch as leaders.  Then to end that subject, he told me that I will be in Aimogasta to "make history" or "to literally be a part of history."  The way Spanish works when somebody is talking, it could very well have been either of the two.  But I get the feeling he kind of meant both.  So I may end up being in this area for a long, long time.  We talked about a couple of other subjects, such as calling and election and the missionary library.  We ended, he gave me a hug, then grabbed me by the shoulder and said "Elder.  You have this attribute about you, you take the things of the church very seriously and have your mind focused on the sacred things, and your eyes focused on the temple for yourself and for your branch members.  You will be a great leader very soon."  That was also pretty sweet to hear.

Sunday we had 21 people show up, including the branch president of the branch that we are actually apart of.  We had been bugging him for weeks to come, and he finally came.  We gave a youth the priesthood and ordained him a teacher, so that was definite progress.  Things are picking up here in Aimogasta.  We also got permission from President to move into a hotel for the month of March while they fix up our pension, so that will be really good. Finally, a real shower!  And breakfast everyday...have not had that in quite a while!  It will be a great month.

Sounds like y’all had a great week.  I am pumped that BYU beat the Zags, it’s about time.  Sounds like changes are going on back home, or are about to happen.  Fun times.  It is sad that basketball season is over, but I have no doubt that Jake learned a ton. A song I sang this week...Onward Christian Soldiers, the normal one from the hymnbook, not the same version as the one in the video :).  Favorite Star Wars Jedi has to be Obi Wan.  I love the Owens, they always make my month when I get their letters and hear their stories.  Glad to hear that everybody is doing well.

Love you all, and (late) Happy Go Texan Day!

Elder Mangum