Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Missionary Life

Hey fam,

Sorry for not writing yesterday, it was a national holiday in Argentina (again) and everything was closed.  I would be lying if I said I knew what the holiday was for.  This week was good.  I did one last exchange with Elder Golding from Idaho up in the Capital on Tuesday, we found a couple more people for them.  We also got to help them move pensions, which was fun.  Gotta love moving! And there are no "moving trucks" here.  We got a rickety old pick up truck and just loaded everything up on in it.  It was an adventure.  There were several times where the truck died going up hill and we had to get out and push til it started back up.  Wednesday was district meeting, and I got to write the wonderful Transfer Reports on my district.  I got to go to lunch in the fancy restaurant with Elder Tanner, the senior missionary, and another district leader beforehand and have a really good steak, so I can't complain too much!  Bife de chorizo, there is nothing quite like it!  The rest of the week was just working here in the area, trying to find new people and reactivating everybody.

Sunday we had 9 people show up to church.  A definite drop from the 23 we were having, but it was somewhat expected after the 2 week hiatus in the area.  An old investigator, Elisa came, which was really good.  She had been sick and in and out of the hospital the past month, so it was good to see her back up on her feet again.  We talked a little bit about baptism, and we have one tentatively scheduled for not this weekend, but the next.  Now with transfers being this weekend, there is a very high probability of me not being here for the baptism, which is a little hard to think about seeing as we have been through a lot together.  Last night we snagged another night in the hotel because the water in the house completely broke on Saturday, and it had been 3 days since we had showered, so I called up the office and my buddies hooked me up.  So I got a couple of really good showers and breakfasts yesterday and today.  Supposedly today they are going to fix the water so that should be good.  All in all a good week. I gave a talk on Lesson 3 in PMG, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, AKA Article of Faith 4 plus endure to the end.  Looking forward to this weekend to see if I stay in the area or if after 6 months I head on off to a new adventure!

The pension, as you can tell, is still a disaster.  We have looked for a new place, but it seems that there is nothing here in Aimogasta.  So we will just have to contract people to repair everything.  Hopefully they will give us another month in the hotel while they work on the reparations ;)  I doubt that.  The best teaching experience this week was during the exchange, teaching some recent converts the plan of salvation in a little bit more detail than the first time they learned it with the missionaries.  It was good, we clarified a few things and everybody left the lesson edified.  The best part of the week was entering the hotel and seeing all my old buddies haha that was really cool.  "Mangum, como andas amigo? Tanto tiempo!"  I started studying D&C in a bit more depth last week, I am in section 40 something now.  But what stuck out was Section 5 verses 23 to 25.  Not necessarily something I will be teaching to the investigators or recent converts, but something to apply and test the promise to strengthen my own testimony. Nothing too crazy this week, just the last week of the transfer!

Glad to hear that everybody is doing well, we all knew it was Bishop Theurer’s turn!    Sounds like y’all had a great week, and my prayers will definitely be headed y’alls way a little bit longer and harder Tuesday and Wednesday!  Hopefully y’all got to enjoy some BBucks for me!  

Love you all!

Elder Mangum

Monday, May 18, 2015

Cordoba Argentina Temple Dedication

Hey fam,

This week was awesome!  Just an all around good week.  I did an exchange Monday and Tuesday with Elder Aranda from Spain, we found a couple of families here in their area for them to teach.  Wednesday was district meeting so we were in the capital all day working.  The only day this week I was actually in my area was on Thursday.  Thursday morning we get a text message from the assistants saying whoever wants to go to the cultural celebration for the temple can go, but they have to pay their own way there.  I was pumped, but my companion nor any other missionary in my district wanted to go.  But was that going to stop me?  No!  I went with a group of missionaries to the cultural event in Cordoba on Saturday.  We took a bus on Friday night, and we were in Cordoba all day Saturday, then took another bus back Saturday at midnight to arrive just in time for the first session of the temple dedication.  It was worth it. I got permission to go in a trio with some other Elders and we took advantage of the opportunity.  I mean, how many times are you going to be able to go to the cultural celebration of the temple in your mission?  Only once.    Once in a lifetime experience, definitely something I will be telling my kids and grandkids in the future!  I was sitting there thinking "if I could talk to the fam, what would they advise me to do.  Definitely to take advantage of the opportunity and go to the event!" And then I thought as well, what would happen if they found out that I had the opportunity to go to the celebration and didn´t go, they would never let me live it down!  Definitely worth it, even the sleeping two days in a row in the bus (again). I may have back problems for the rest of my life, but as they say, vale la pena!  It was worth it!  

It was neat seeing all of the youth singing and dancing and hearing a few words from President Uchtdorf.  Not to mention seeing my only ex comp who is still in the mission (Elder Muñoz, the rest have all finished their 2 years!) and a bunch of buddies from Rio Ceballos.  Probably the highlight of it all was eating Subway for lunch and Burger King for dinner while we were in Cordoba, real American food!  

Sunday was the temple dedication.  We were able to go to all 3 sessions, and it was spectacular.  The sessions were at 9, noon, and 3.  My favorite part of the dedication were actually the talks.  President Uchtdorf spoke in each one of the sessions and had a different talk each time.  He had a translator, but Elder Christofferson didn't.  He still speaks Spanish like a pro!  It was a really special occasion, and I am really excited to have the temple so close for the rest of my mission.  They haven't told us how often we can go yet as missionaries, but I will be going the most I possibly can!  There is no place like the temple.  

Sounds like y’all had a great week, congrats to Luke and Jake finishing up soccer and being the estrellas of their teams!  And Hayley Jean finishing up the season with a pair of W’s, that´s what I like to hear.  More car problems, glad to hear that not much has changed back home!  I will probably be here in the capital until Wednesday night, I am doing one last exchange with these missionaries before I have to write reports at the end of this week.  No new pension, but we do have hot water now.  As far as delicious food goes, just Subway and BK!  I actually had a chicken cordon bleu sandwich at Subway...great minds think alike!  

Love you guys, glad that everybody is doing well!

Elder Mangum

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Buses, Buses and more Buses

Zone Conference May 2015

Hey fam,

It was great being able to talk and see you all I did get a little bit more sleep last night.  The family pretty much got the rundown of the week, but for everybody else here it is.  Monday was the new district leader training in Cordoba on the temple grounds, which was a once in a lifetime experience.  I got to have dinner with the mission president because out bus was going to leave at midnight, we had tacos.  Argentine tacos have nothing on the real stuff back home.  Tuesday I got back to La Rioja at 6 in the morning after an all night bus ride (the 4th "red eye" bus ride in 5 nights)  to a zone meeting.  I then got to stay in the capital and do exchanges with Elder Agren, one of the zone leaders.  We found a couple of new families there in his area, then I headed back to Aimogasta on Wednesday in the afternoon to work in my area for the evening. Then Thursday morning at 5AM I was traveling again, this time to a zone conference with all of the missionaries in La Rioja and Catamarca, 2 whole states here in Argentina.  That was a neat experience, to be instructed by our mission president and get to know some other missionaries.  Then came the exchange with the assistant to the president, Elder Burton, from Arlington, Virginia.  He went to the Air Force Academy for a few years before coming on the mission, so he is kind of an intense guy to work with.  An excellent missionary, in 2 hours we found 7 people to teach that accepted return visits. 

Saturday we had the baptism of Emilia Barrionuevo.  She is the wife of a member, who had been coming to church pretty frequently, and she made the decision finally to get baptized.  The husband performed the ordinance, and we got special permission from the Stake President to confirm her at the baptismal service because this week is stake conference and next week is the dedication of the Cordoba Temple, so there wasn't going to be any normal sacrament meetings.

Emilia being baptized in the canal on Saturday.

Sunday was Stake Conference, which was cool because we were in the capital, but really different because the stake covers 2 whole states in Argentina and there were less people than my ward back home in Maplewood.  It was a neat experience as well, and then came talking with the family, which was fantastic.  Today was the zone Pday, we actually didn't end up playing basketball like they told me we were going to, just soccer, Frisbee, and ping pong.  But we had a good time. All in all, a really successful week, highlighted by the baptism and the fact that the temple dedication is in 6 days!  I am really looking forward to that!

Sounds like you guys had a great week, and another good one coming up!  What are the missionaries in the 2nd best mission in the world going eat on Wednesday?  The most challenging part of being a district leader is getting the other companionship in the district to work when we aren't on exchanges with them here in the capital.  The most rewarding part has been being able to see the affect a "leader" can have on the missionaries, and really learning how to be a better leader.  Plus being able to go to Cordoba last Monday was pretty rewarding in and of itself.  It is mostly box homes made of complete cement in Aimogasta.  It shouldn't be too hard to find a new place...I hope!  I did get a special white handkerchief from the mission that has the temple embroidered on it and says "Mision Argentina Cordoba" it is pretty sweet! 

Love you all!

Elder Mangum

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day

It was so great to skype together for Mother's Day.  Michael was able to call us from a senior couples apartment where several missionaries in the capital were gathered to call home and have dinner together.  It was a little loud with lots of other conversations going on in the background in Spanish, but so great to talk with Michael.  He told us lots of stories about Aimogasta, La Rioja and attending the temple open house in Cordoba.  We all took turns talking with him and spent some time together on the computer as well.  

Monday, May 4, 2015

Cordoba Temple Open House

Hey fam,

This week was fantastic.  The trips to Cordoba have been fun.   I am literally writing this email from about 100 feet from the temple here in Cordoba.  I have spent 4 of the past 5 nights traveling in bus to and from Aimogasta to Cordoba, which would be about the equivalent of driving from Houston to Albuquerque. Not exactly a short trip, and even worse on bus.  No chickens on these busses, but there were dogs.  Visiting the temple on Friday for the open house was really amazing, a once in a lifetime opportunity in my eyes.  It almost didn't happen though, the people organizing the trip called us 4 hours before we were supposed to leave and told us it was cancelled because a family of 6 had cancelled because they did not have enough money to go on the trip.  When I heard that, me and 2 other missionaries thought, if it is an issue of money, we can take care of that so that everybody would be able to go.  And we all payed double so that the family could go, we filled the bus up, and got to go to the temple.

The temple was awesome, I saw what felt like half of my first area.  It felt more like a homecoming than anything.  I talked with the bishop, his counselors, my old mission leader, just about everybody!  They told me that my converts were still active, that Hector is about to get the Melchezidek Priesthood, and that life is good in Rio Ceballos.  The highlight of the trip was seeing Catalina, my first baptism, helping and working in the temple as one of the tour guides.  There was a spirit in that temple, and even though it has not yet been dedicated, there is no doubt that it is a special place.  

Sunday was fast and testimony meeting, we had 20 people show up!  2 weeks in a row with 20 or more people, that is a record for Aimogasta.  We are definitely doing some good work there.  Emilia is going to have her baptismal interview this week, and should be baptized this Saturday.  We caught a combi (a rented van) to the capital after church to be able to participate in branch council, and I taught the branch council how to do a visit, and how to fellowship nonmembers and less actives who come to church.  All in all, a really good Sunday, capped off with another bus ride to Cordoba.  

Today all day we had a special training on how to be a district leader.  It was really cool to be here in the mission home again, which literally on the temple grounds.  They talked a lot about showing love for members of our district and how to do effective interviews and exchanges.

Tonight I head back out to La Rioja at midnight.  We have a zone meeting tomorrow in the morning, followed by an exchange with the zone leaders, followed by a zone conference with the mission president on Friday, followed by exchanges with the assistants to the president, then a baptism, then stake conference, then the skype call home!  It will be a very fun and jam packed week, I am looking forward to it.

Sounds like y’all had a busy week!  Congrats mom on the new calling.  Tell Jake and Luke that they need to stop skipping school like their older brother used to do!  

Love you all, looking forward to Sunday!

Elder Mangum