Monday, November 24, 2014

I'm very happy

Hola todos! Como andan?                                    

We had an amazing week here in Tolosa! We were able to meet with many less active members, and find many people who are interested in learning more. The area is growing and we are finding that we have a lot of people who we need to visit. But this makes a missionary very happy!

As far as our investigators go, Ignacio is still coming to church every Sunday; he just needs to continue working with a few more addictions that he is battling. We also found a woman who is interested enough to hear what we have to say. Her name is Marisol, and we were able to have a very good lesson with her about the restoration. She promised to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it.

In this lesson with Marisol I was able to learn a very valuable lesson. I learned that literally every single question that we have can be answered with the Book of Mormon. Marisol had a lot of deep questions, about how to raise a family, whether it is ok to pray for others and ourselves, and where we go after we die. Every question could be answered with a story or scripture from the Book of Mormon, and every personal question we have will also find an answer if we read and pray about the Book of Mormon. What a rare possession we have and valuable it is. 

The work is moving forward, the leaders in the ward are excited to help, and honestly, because of it, church attendance is increasing rapidly. Every week we have more people in church, and it’s mainly because the leaders are willing and ready to work. It really is a great ward here in Tolosa. 

So overall, I am super tired, but I get up in the mornings ready to work. The weeks go by so quickly now, so that motivates me to work all the harder. There is lots of potential, and I think in a few more months, there will be many baptisms! I don’t know if I will be here to see it, but it will be great anyway!

Other than that, it’s been a very normal week! We are happy and healthy and ready to work! What more can I ask for?

Dad, you asked about my district leader duties in the mission. On Tuesdays, We prepare district meetings which are 1-1.5 hours. We plan it, direct it, and teach it. We can ask missionaries to participate, but it depends on your choice. It’s great but a little difficult to stay entertaining and keep the spirit. (Now I understand a little bit of what you felt as a seminary teacher) We also make calls twice a week, do exchanges with every Elder companionship in the transfer (I only have one in my district so that is not so hard), and all baptismal interviews. It keeps me busy, but I enjoy doing it! Over all, the work is a difficult work, especially for someone as imperfect as me, but I try, and I enjoy many things about it and the people we meet.

For Thanksgiving, we will have to do something, but we do have dinner planned with a family who has lots of USA connections. They haven’t mentioned anything, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we had a very nice dinner that night :) so I am excited!

As far as La Plata goes, it is a nicer city than others in the mission, so I am happy with that! The Museum and Cathedral are on my list of P-day activities! We have transfers next week, so I hope that I can get another transfer here to see them!

It sounds like you all had a very fun weekend! I love the Arizona race! It’s the best! And I’m glad Allie ran so well! It’s great to see her finish the season like that, plus with both Allie and Parker both running so well, there are great days yet to come for Vista Nation!

I love you all! Thanks for the Support!

Elder Chipman

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Crying over Wal-mart glazed donuts

Hola Todos!                                                                            
Well while you’re freezing, I’m burning up, but it’s all good! I’ve always liked the heat more than the cold anyway, so I’m happy! As long as the members give us juice, I’m ok.
It’s funny because Tang is a huge thing here. They all buy little Tang packets and literally have it all of the time. I think it’s because the water is so bad they like covering it up, but it tastes good. I just think it is funny because before, I never really thought of tang.
It’s been an event filled week with an apostolic visit, a baptism in the district, and an open chapel. All of that added together means that we really just didn’t have a lot of time to work in our area this week, but we all feel spiritually charged and ready to go.
Elder Russell M. Nelson of the 12 Apostles came and spoke to us on Thursday, and what a visit that was! It made this an awesome week.  His wife also addressed us, as well as Elder Zeballos of the seventy and his wife. We all left feeling spiritually uplifted and ready to work. Elder Nelson mentioned many things in his talk, and many specific statements he made seemed to be specifically meant for me. We were also able to shake his hand and meet him personally. His wife’s talk really stood out to me. She talked of our pre-mortal life and what we did before we were born and the promises we made too. It really changes my perspective.
With all of this, it only strengthened my testimony that prophets and apostles are still called by God today. They lead us and help us with our very personal challenges in life. What a blessing it is to be here serving the Lord.
It was also a great opportunity because all 248 missionaries in our mission were able to attend and we were able to eat lunch together. It was great seeing so many friends from literally all over the world, be at the same place at the same time. It helped me realize how great of a mission we have. 
And to make things better, we went into Wal-Mart today and they sell Donuts there! Like real glazed donuts! Never thought that I would cry about food, but it happened!
As far as exciting adventures, I was able to see downtown La Plata this week.  It is a beautiful city and a lot different than Buenos Aires. There’s a giant Cathedral in the middle that is down right stunning, and many European style buildings. Truly a great place to be! Around town many of the wooden posts or electric posts are painted white with either a red or blue stripe in the middle.  These indicate the favorite soccer team in the area. There are two major soccer teams in La Plata. Estudiantes de La Plata, and Gimnasia. Estudiantes is Red and has a lion as a mascot, and Gimnasia is Blue with a wolf for a mascot. That’s why you will see a lot of wolves and lions painted on the walls because they represent these two teams in La Plata. So the electric posts also follow this same pattern. Kinda fun don’t you think?
Thank you for all of your prayers and for all of the support! I know the Savior lives and loves each of us. He has a plan, all we need to do is trust him, and do what he has told us to do, and we will all be happy in the end.
Thanks for everything!
Elder Chipman

Monday, November 10, 2014

Dogs, garbage, and trying to think outside of the box!

¿Como le va?                                                              Nov. 10, 2014

It’s been another successful week in Tolosa La Plata! The sun is definitely beating down and summer is well on its way, that being said, its better than the rain that we had a week ago, so we are all pretty happy with that. The work is also progressing. This week Ignacio came to church again, but this time with a white shirt! We are working on the tie, but hey he came! We also had a surprise; a woman with her daughter came also. They were once in a lesson about 3 weeks ago, and honestly didn’t, we thought that she didn’t even pay attention, but she was there on Sunday and was able to enjoy it! The work will always move forward!!!

Funny stories of the week--well there weren’t too many.  I had a good laugh when my companion wanted us to knock on the door at the same time. I didn’t want to do it, so he said "come on, you gotta live up the thrills of missionary life Elder!" If knocking on the door at the same time is considered a thrill, I think we need to think a little more out of the box!

Here is some information about the area I live in and Argentina in general:

 We really don’t have an address because we literally live in the Garage of a house. It’s cut off from the house by a homemade brick wall, and we have a door in the side, but that’s about it. It is on Road #117 between 4 and 4bis if that helps to look it up on Google maps. I think the houses are about in the 1100´s. The houses have metal baskets on poles in the front and they  are the outdoor trashcans. They aren’t very big, and the dogs have easy access to them, so there is a ton of trash everywhere in the street. We use grocery sacks for trash bags,  then put them outside, and usually 3 times a week, someone comes by to get it! Everybody everywhere has bars over all their windows. We live in a pretty calm area, but there are always those types of people. That being said, La Plata is one of the safest cities in the mission. Graffiti is everywhere, but usually it has statements about local soccer teams. Some people get very artistic, others, well…..don’t. If someone puts a "Don’t graffiti" sign up, people usually leave it clean! Dogs are everywhere, and there is a ton of poop too. Not much you can do about it though. Stray dogs are always nice; it’s the family dogs that aren’t well trained.

The types of transportation we use are bus, train, remis (independent taxi companies, a little more expensive) or walking. I like walking because it’s the cheapest and I then get to keep more money for food!

The chapel that we use is also used as the stake center and that is why it is really big. Another ward meets in there too. We average about 40-70 people a week in church. That is probably the average for the mission as well. There is a lot of inactivity of the members and honestly there are a lot of people who come every other week.  If everybody just came every week, we would have more than a 100, but it seems like they like to take turns.

I’ve never thought to tell you these things before because they are everyday things that I don’t even think to write about. I hope this helps you get a little more information about the Argentine culture. They are a great people who have a fun culture. I like it!

This week I read ahead for the lesson in Priesthood in the Teachings of the Prophets book. In the lesson, Joseph Fielding Smith teaches us that the church doesn’t tell us to leave what we hold dear and true behind, but to take it with us and receive more light and knowledge. With this in mind we were able to have a great lesson with a family who hasn’t exactly been progressing because they are very Catholic, but like listening to what we have to say. When they realized that we weren’t attacking their beliefs, but helping them receive more, they changed, and decided to finally accept our invitation to go to church. This gospel changes lives, and I get to see it everyday!

Life is always hard, but that doesn’t mean I’m not happy and enjoying it.  I’m realizing that I really don’t have that much time left on my mission, which is weird. I’m still working hard, but I’m getting to the point where I miss you guys a lot, and so I’m ready to finish up too.  I know I still have lots of work to do. Luckily I have a hard working companion who is willing to help me, and honestly, together we work very hard. Elder Johnstun is a nice kid, I like him.  He is really calm and nice, we enjoy each other’s company. We usually don’t eat dinner because we just don’t have the time.  I usually cook up rice or pasta for a snack just before bed.

Being a district leader is fun but weird. I can’t do too much because I have so many sisters in my district, and Presidente is really focusing on us not getting too close with them, but yet I get calls from the office asking about how they are doing. I guess I will learn the balance here in a little bit.

On Pdays, we can’t do much because we lost our privileges to play soccer. What happened was that some missionaries played soccer all day, and wouldn’t write the president until after 7pm.  Pday ends at 6pm, so now we have a rule that we can only play once a transfer.  I’m bummed about that and it stinks but that is what happens when we can’t follow the rules. We find ways to stay active though by choosing to walk instead of taking bus.

This is a long letter this week, but I know you like it mom. If you have any other questions let me know.

I love you all and hope that you are enjoying the oncoming winter! 

Have a good week!

Elder Chipman

Ps: Wish Allie luck for me and tell her to kick some butt in Arizona!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Watermelon Jack-o-lanterns

¿Como Andan?                                                                                       
Well, it’s been a super wet week in Tolosa! It’s been raining for about 3 days now, and everything is soaked! So it’s been a fun, but an interesting week! When it rains, everybody in Argentina shuts down. Church attendance plummets, and people just sleep all day, which means that we are in the street all day. We did have fun though, and so we are happy.

We work hard and are having success. I learned a lot when talking with people on the street and we have lots of investigators to visit right now --which is good.  There’s a lot of work, because there have been 3 Elders who have finished their missions here, and honestly, 2 of them just kinda slept the last little bit, so we are trying to get things up and running again, but the Lord is helping us a lot with that, and giving us people to teach.

Next week, an apostle is coming to talk with just our mission! Rumor has it that it is Elder Nelson, but they can’t publicly announce it until right before it happens. I just hope that he doesn’t come to drop the cane, because we kinda have a lazy group of missionaries here, or maybe that is just what happens when a bunch of 20 year olds do this type of thing. In either case, I’m excited, it should be fun!

I’m learning that being a district leader is harder than I thought it would be, but I hope to get the hang of it soon. There are lots of questions or lots of people wanting to do things they really shouldn’t do, and so I have to be the bad guy. So Mom, now I know why you never liked being the bad guy at home.

Miracle of the week had to be our investigator, Ignacio, came to church on Sunday even though it was pouring rain. Ignacio was satanic just a few weeks ago, but his friend showed him the video of Joseph Smith, Prophet of the Restoration, and it made an impression on him. Ever since then, he has been making a ton of changes! Right now he has a date for the 22 of November for baptism, and only needs to quite smoking in order to do it. So we are very excited for him.  We have been blessed in so many ways with the people we have been meeting and teaching, and with the less active members that are finally getting back to church. It's great serving here!

For Halloween we decided that since we wouldn't be able to eat a lot of candy, we should go to the bakery to get something sweet.  So we did.  We bought a BIG something called a Factura. Usually they are about the size of a donut, but these ones were about the size of a loaf of bread. A Factura is a type of sweet bread with chocolate, jam, and a creamy paste that’s super good. Let’s just say, we satisfied our sweet side.  I’m sending the pictures right now! Yes, I ate the whole thing. Yes, it was delicious!

We also wanted to make Jack-o-Lanterns. The problem is that it’s the summer here, so pumpkins are hard to find. Luckily we found that Watermelons were a good substitute, and carved them up this morning! Happy Halloween!  The People here don’t really celebrate Halloween, but then again, they do. It’s a very selective holiday. Some kids go trick or treating, but the majority does not, so it was weird.

Thanks for all of the love and support! I love and miss all of you guys!

Elder Chipman