Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Awesome Last Letter!

Hola Familia!
How are you all today? I'm great. Still enjoying life as a missionary, and anticipate enjoying it to the last second. And as indicated by the subject, I'm fairly confident that this is the last time I will be writing. Maybe for a second next week to tell you that all is well or something like that.

This week really has been amazing. Another roller coaster. I wouldn't have it any other way. I have mentioned one of our investigators, Heraldo Cordoba. He is so awesome and so ready to be baptized, but is struggling a lot with cigarettes. He’s smoked for years and is having a really hard time quitting. Tuesday night we had one of the most spiritual lessons of my mission. I really won't be able to do it justice, but I'll try. I was on divisions with my district leader Elder Soza from Nicaragua because Elder Pratt was sick in bed. It was the go or no go lesson for this Saturday for his baptism. We talked about the plan of salvation, then transitioned into a stop smoking talk. We started talking about his dad and how after not smoking for three years, went back to smoking, but worse. His wife then shared the story about her dad, how someone told him that how could some little 3 inch thing conquer him, being about 6 feet tall, so that day he threw his cigarettes out and never went back to smoking and is now the stake president in the other stake. We analyzed the differences in these two cases, then a scripture came to mind about the Nephites being motivated by a better cause, even though the Nephites were fighting stronger than ever. We then talked about his family and the temple and the blessings waiting. It was during this part of the lesson that I learned what Nephi was talking about when he said that the words that the children spoke when the Savior came were forbidden to be written. It’s not that they couldn't write the words, but that the words were sacred, and that’s how I consider the words she spoke, but I will tell you what they were (in English). His newly adopted three year old daughter spoke up and said, "don´t smoke anymore daddy." It broke my heart, and if it had that effect on me, I can't imagine what he must have felt. His wife then took him by the hand and asked him to stop to, if not for himself, then for their daughter. He is now motivated by a better cause, which is also now causing him even more heartache because it isn't easy to stop. His is trying so hard, he has received blessings of the priesthood and is united in prayer with his entire family-in-law and us. Even still, he can't kick it. So last night we talked about the purposes of the Lord, and how that someday he will look back on this time of trial and testing and thank the lord for it. For now, he has something to learn. We talked about the people of Ammon and challenged him to literally bury the weapons of his rebellion. I can't even imagine how hard this must be for him, but I know that he will pull through in the end. He really is so awesome and deserves to be baptized as soon as possible.
That was the bulk of the cool stuff this week. We also overcame two days of sickness to have our best week ever and get those famous standards of excellence for the mission, which is very satisfying. We also had some difficulty working due to the world cup of soccer. Everyone, and that means everyone is nuts about it down here. It’s away to find the chosen ones because if they are willing to listen for a bit during a game, they are very very interested in hearing what we say. Every single television was on the game when Argentina played and we heard the fireworks, gun shots and horn honks when they scored, then again when they won. It sounded like war had broken out. I guess the U.S. is looking pretty good too. Apparently, if you can tie with England you are really really good.
Another cool story. Here, you can order anything and have it brought to your door... including ice cream, and so we ordered ice cream once or twice last week. ON one occasion, the ice cream man asked us, if it wasn't a bother, if we could go by his house sometime in the week. We said ABSOLUTELY! Took down his address and everything and passed the reference to the area it belonged to. Conveniently, another time we ordered ice cream he came back and told us that they hadn't come by yet, and that he loved the pamphlets that we had given him. We didn't hesitate this time and gave him a book of Mormon. When he took it in his hands he had a look of awe on his face and promised that the first thing he was going to do when he got home was read it. We saw him in the street the other day, delivering ice cream on his motto and said that he really wants to tell us about his experience reading. We have to order ice cream again.

Well, I can't think of anything else to write about the week. The only other thing is to thank you guys so much for all of the letters you sent me during these two years. They really have helped me be better, even when they were trunky. I love you guys so much and am so glad that we are a family. We are so blessed.
I was listening to song "come thou fount of every blessing" and the words hit me pretty hard. In one of the verses it says "here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by thy help I'm come, and I hope by thy good pleasure safely to arrive at home." Obviously referring to our heavenly home. I remember learning that an Ebenezer is a stone that was raised by a biblical prophet, I can't remember who, as a sign of gratitude to the Lord for having preserved him and his people. I know that the Lord has brought me thus far by his grace and mercy and certainly hope that he will continue to bless me has he has thus far. Everything in my life has been such a blessing, from being born to goodly parents to suffering the infamous "plank" in my youth. It has all helped me be who I am, and it was really the Lord helping me become who he wants me to be. Even though I don't always make the right decisions, he is there to help me make up for it.
The church is true. The Book of Mormon is the word of God. Jesus Christ is our savior and Redeemer. Joseph Smith was a prophet and Thomas Monson continues the work Joseph started, and he does it under direction of the Savior. I know that this is true.
Love you all!
Elder Rau

Monday, June 7, 2010

16 DAYS!

¡Hola Familia!
How are you all today? Its another beautiful day here in sunny argentina! At least its sunny here, I hear that there is snow falling in other parts of the country. But anyway, thanks for all your letters, they were a little less trunky than last week, but still pretty trunky. Thanks...

So things are still goin great here! Kevin and Karen got baptised on saturday and confirmed on sunday. It was great. We had the baptism planned out really well, then everything went wrong right before it, so it was a little hectic, but still a very spiritual experience, and the ordinance got done, so I guess thats the most important part. I'll try and get some pictures goin after I write things. I got to baptise and confirm kevin. I really hope this wasn't the last baptism of my mission. We have two more posibilities right now. They look good, but still need some miracles in their lives. I'm confident that they can go through if the Lord approves of the time frame.

I heared some great jokes this week that Dad will think are funny. I'll give a translation, but I doubt you will laugh.
Why do the children of superman never fight?...porque son supermancitos (they are little superman, but can also be interpereted as very meek...)
Cuanta leche da una vaca en su vida?...la misma que en su bajada (how much milk does a cow give in her life (also could mean in her climb) the same as in her decent)

This week I had my last interview and my last zone conference. It feels really weird. They always ask the missionaries who are finishing to give a testimony in their last conference. I never though I would have to do it. Its amazing how many friends I am making right now! The funny thing is that all of them are asking me for stuff... Some peruano was like, hey elder I really loved your testimony (then in the same breath...) what are you going to do with your camara... I just laughed.

The english fast is goin great. Elder Pratt talks to me in english, and I respond in spanish. It was hard at first to listen in one language and respond in another, but its easier now. Even after studying the language for at least a half an hour every day for two years, I still make mistakes and learn something new every day. that helps me not be prideful.

Anyway, I love you all a whole lot and hope you are well. The church is still true and the mission is still the coolest and best place in the whole world. I'm so grateful for having been alowed to serve. The lord´s work is the best work!

Love ya lots!
Elder Rau

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Today I start an English Fast

Hola Familia!
How are you all this beautiful Monday morning? At least its beautiful here... clear skies but still quite chilly. There is wind, so that doesn't help. So there you have the weather report from this side of the world. Its probably more accurate than google or the weather channel!

Anyway, I love your letters but I must admit you are all quite trunky. I guess I only have to endure your letters for another 3 weeks.... I guess I'm kind of excited too...ok, really excited, but I still understand that I was called for 24 months, and I haven't got there yet, so I will remain focused.

So we are very happy here in holy faith Argentina. We are dealing with a challenge in finding new people to teach, but the people that we are teaching are progressing right along towards the waters of baptism. I'm pretty excited. I'm still on the lookout for a complete family, but I have been thinking a lot about what dad said about finishing families being a great work too. Its true, it feels so cool. Just a few minutes ago I saw the elders that are currently serving in one of my old areas and told me that the last member of an awesome family just got baptized. Now they are complete and have the temple as their goal. That is sooooo cool! It made me happy. Also a guy I was teaching in Rosario got baptized and only has to wait the year to be sealed to his wife forever. They are a young couple and she was a member from before, but now they are the most active and participating members of the ward.

Today I start an English fast that should last until Monday in three weeks. I'm doing it for me and for my comp. I haven't spoken enough Spanish with him yet, so this should give him a head start for the next compañion (i have a feeling it’s going to be a Latin) The goal for now is not to say a word of English, but after the first week I will see if I need to make any changes. I foresee some potential communication/patience problems, so it will be a great opportunity to learn.

I must admit that i was pretty sad to hear that bishop Gardemann was released. As far as I am concerned he was the best bishop in the whole church. His example of optimism and excitement is admirable and the love that I felt when he was with us in church or on other activities is the love that i imagine feeling from the savior. I am glad to hear that he was assigned to keep working with the young men of the stake. Does that mean he will be at the encampment? Its weird that I don't even know the new bishop, but I'm sure he is awesome. I have also decided that to be obedient I will be attending the branch, at least for a while. (That decision has nothing to do with the change in bishop, just to keep the record straight.)

Well, we are looking forward to another baptism this weekend, which will be awesome. Kevin asked me to baptize him, so that will be really fun. I'm so grateful for being a missionary. It really is the best thing in the whole world! This is the true church, without a doubt! I know its true.

I love you all a whole bunch!

Elder Nate Rau

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Where Else Am I Going to Have an Experience Like That?

So anyway, we had quite the average week. We are all systems go for a baptism this week. Two kids will be getting baptized and will be confirmed member of the true church. I will get to baptize Cristian and my comp will baptize Aixa. I am pretty excited. Two weeks later we should see another baptism, and then there is another guy that will get baptized just as soon as he decides he wants to talk to us. the husband of a member lady has been to church a hundred times, he just doesn't like to be rushed. I'm pretty sure all we are going to have to tell him is that his wife deserves someone she can be with for eternity and stuff like that and he'll be in the water. Another brother needs to stop smoking. He is the son in law of the stake pres in the other stake, and is the only member of the extended family not baptized. He really wants to but is having a lot of trouble. I give him three weeks and he'll have it beat.
It’s a miracle I'm not sick right now. Last night we all went out to a city called Santo Tomé to work in the hermanas area. We were there from about 4:30 to 7:30 and at about 6 is started to pour (rain). It was already really really cold, and once it got wet, my suit seemed to suck the heat out of me, but we kept working as any missionary would do...hoping and praying to get into a house! The bus ride home was pretty fun too. The bus was beyond capacity by about 20 people, so we were all scrunched up in the back of the bus. When else am I going to have an experience like that? I love the mission.
Our ward mission leader picked up some food for our lunch with him on Friday from an Arab restaurant. We ate what the Lord might have eaten in the last supper. Meat and trigo (sorry, forgot the word in English, ask dad), flat bread, garbanzo paste and some weird meat/trigo biscuit things. It was pretty tasty.
A family in our ward has a kid in a Jewish school. He would be learning Hebrew, but he has to focus on learning Spanish first. He got to go to a synagogue the other day and hear the real story of Noah from the torah. Cool huh. I would love to visit a Jewish synagogue, just to see how it is and stuff. I have started to be a lot more interested in Judaism. I can't wait to take a class about it at the Y or something like that. I know of a few, but I'm sure there are millions of things in the Book of Mormon that are common in Jewish culture and writing. Just more proof that Joseph smith was a prophet.
I am currently trying to read the Book of Mormon again before I get home. I kind of have a vision of finishing it on the plane right before landing. But anyway, I'm in Alma, and a verse from chapter 31 stuck out in my mind. I think it’s the last verse in the chapter, but it is talking about the sons of Mosiah and Alma and their compañions and how their trials were consumed in the joy of Christ, which I guess can mean the atonement. The part I liked was the fact that because they were on the Lord's errand, doesn't mean they didn't have trials and afflictions. Their afflictions were bearable, even unimportant, because of the hope that they had in the atonement. That all of the injustices and otherwise unfair things that happen will all be made right. They certainly had quite a few trials and afflictions, much more than I have had to face in my mission, but their joy is that much greater. Anyway, just thought I would share.
Anyway, that’s about all I can think of. I should have some interesting pictures for next week though. I'll see if I can get some off today. Just know that I love you all and love hearing from you every week, even when I don't hear from some of you....just kiddin...
The church is true and we have a prophet. The Book of Mormon is the word of God. Jesus Christ is our Savior.
Elder Rau

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Tomorrow Begins My Last Transfer

Hey familia,
How are you all doing? It was really a great time talking to Mom and Dad and a little to Jake and Annika and Anson. I was shocked at the conversation that I could have with Anson. He’s just so big now! What a cute kid! I hope all you mothers had an awesome Mother’s day.

Well, tomorrow begins my last transfer, and there will be no more changes for me. Me and my hijo are stickin together and will be able to see the fruits of our labors in the next six weeks. I am very excited for it.

Last night all of the elders in the zone came over to our house and we had a big sleep over. Kind of childish, I know, but it was a lot of fun. I don't know how they pulled it off, but the ZL got permission to use a portable DVD player and we watched the best two years. One of our zone leaders just became the new assistant to the president, so he wasn't actually there, but maybe he had something to do with it. Other elders are getting transferred, lots are staying. The only change is that I am no longer the district leader. The district stayed the same but me and elder Soza changed positions. I am going to be able to focus one hundred percent on the area! It should be nice.

So we are looking at four baptisms in the next 3 or 4 weeks. All are children, but we are going to be finishing, or getting close to finishing the families. The almost atheist dad of two of the kids said that he will come to the baptism! The kids are all really excited for it and love church. The Tira Family (the one that contacted us, I think I already told you about them) is doing so good! When we went to go pick them up for Church, we ran into them on the way to their house. I mean, we were walking towards their house to pick them up, but they had already left. I guess they wanted to get to Church earlier. They were all dressed up and everything. Kevin (9) was really excited to show us his tie. It was cool to see them all walking together.

We kind of got robbed again. Not really, someone just took advantage of a situation. We were in a taxi the other day, and when we got out, I guess our cell phone fell out of my pocket or something. We called it a few times, and when they turned it off, we called the offices to tell them about it and to turn off the phone. So now we will be without a phone for as long as I am here. Sad, but I guess that’s just how it goes. We have to share with the other elders in our apartment. I think maybe the Lord is punishing me. I haven't really been using the phone as much as I should have, to arrange appointments and so forth, so maybe he is saying, let’s see how you do without this great tool I have given you! I took it for granted...I learned my lesson

The mission is such a cool thing. I don't know what I'm going to do without it. It feels like my life has just been like this. All of the memories of my "previous life" just feel like dreams or something I saw on TV or something like that. I have to remind myself that it’s true. It still doesn't feel like I should be going home soon, but as everyone is quick to remind me, the time is getting closer. I'm starting to see "my lasts" Like last planner, last area, last comp, last "work Monday" (by the way, p day will be Monday from now on). This is all just too weird.

I still know without a doubt that this is the true church of Christ. I know that Joseph Smith was, indeed, a prophet, foreordained to bring about a marvelous work and a wonder in these days, and what a privilege it is to participate in it at such an intimate level as I have been.

Anyway, I love you all so much and look forward to hearing from you next week!

Elder Rau

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Mission is the Best!

Hola Familia!
Thanks for the letters again this week! I loved seeing the pictures Ari sent me of all the kids playing and stuff. Looks like y’all had a great time! We had a pretty good week here too. Not quite as much playing though.
Last Friday we were looking for some less active family that we had on our ward list. When we lack things to do, we just start looking for in-actives. It’s a great source of new investigators. So long story short, we found a family, but not the one we were looking for. Virginia Tira is a member of the church, but inactive for about three years due to lots of trials and difficulties in life. She lost contact with the church, then moved, so nobody knew how to contact her. We were walking by, and the kids yelled, elders! When are you going to come teach us the discussions? So I guess they contacted us. We talked, taught and set the goal to go back to church. Saturday she said good bye to the Jehovah witness’ that knew to come by, and Sunday came to church. The members were great and swarmed her. IN about 10 minutes she had met the entire relief society and a few hermanas set times to go over and visit her. Last night in ward counsel we talked about helping them out a little bit. It was such a cool thing to see the ward in action. Everything worked exactly the way it should, which is the way the Lord has designed it. Two of her 5 children will be baptized in the first part of june. They are already reading and praying together every day. Pretty cool huh.
That was the big story of the week. Everything else is going good. Two other part member families should become a little more complete next week. We have a baptism planed for Wednesday, but we’ll have to see if they can make it to church this week. The mom traveled this Sunday and couldn't bring them, so they didn’t come. They are doing great though. I love teaching and baptizing kids, but I have yet to see a whole family come into the church. I would love to see that before I go home.
News from other areas. I think I might have mentioned it a little bit before. Every week we get an email with a list of all the people that were baptized in the last week, as well as announcements and so forth. It’s been so exciting reading it in the last few weeks because a ton of people that I got to teach have been getting baptized. Last week a couple that has been investigating for a long time, but hadn’t been able to get married just got baptized. It makes me so happy.
From my first area, the dad of a young man (right now on his mission in Ecuador) got baptized. I think I might have told you that already. That was especially cool. It looks like his wife is also investigating.
The mission is the best!
It looks like p-day is going to change back to Monday next transfer, so I will keep you updated on that. As far as the call, I still don’t know anything. Ha ha! I’m sure I will be calling you later in the day. After 3 o clock your time. I’m pretty sure there is a four hour difference. I will write down that number mom gave me, and I’m sure it will work, but I will also have a backup plan. That is, I will buy another card just in case, and then you would have to call me back. I’m sure the Verizon card will work though.
Well, that’s all I got for this week. I love you guys so much and am pretty excited to hear your voices and talk to you on Sunday. I’m so sure that the church is true and that we can be a forever family! I’m so grateful for Christ’s atonement.
Love you guys!
Elder Rau

Friday, April 16, 2010

I'm So Grateful To Be A Missionary, It's The Best!

HOla Familia!
HOw is everyone this morning? You are probably doing great... I hope so at least.

Things are startin to pick up a little bit for us here. I'm startin to see the potential here. Its exciting. Apparently this is one of the oldest wards in the city. There are a few people here that remember an Elder Christofersen...yeah, elder D. Todd Christofersen! He was here when the entire city was two branches. Lots of people also remember his mission president. President Scott...as in Richard G. Crazy huh! There is an hermana here that was the first missionary to leave from Santa Fe, and her mission presidente in the Chile mission was the father of Bishop David H. Burton. She had some pretty funny stories about him. I guess he was a terrible little kid. He threw rocks and the american embassy once. Look where he is now! I laughed pretty hard. He was pretty young I guess. Like 5 or 6, so his baptism took care of all of that.
We are striving to establish unity in the work with the members of the ward. Once we get that down, things are gonna go really smooth. There are a million young RM couples. Lots of excitement...lots of referrals! Woo Hoo!

We did a service project last Thursday and I saw scorpions for the first time in my whole life! Live ones I mean. I killed them with a shovel!

I also got to do another baptismal interview last week. She lives a few blocks away from one of the big futbol stadiums here. They had a game that night against one of the biggest teams in the country, and we were right next to the field about an hour before it started. There were police in riot gear and tons of people everywhere. The police dogs almost attacked us. I had always wanted to go to a game but now I think I'm ok not experiencing it. People die sometimes after those games! Crazy huh.

Dad, I wouldn't be sad if you dropped that dance class. If you don't, its more than likely that I will. I'm cool with ice skating though...as weird as that is. It has always been a dream to play ice hockey. Maybe I'm the next Wayne Gretsky.

I got a cool letter this week...still no package though. I got a few more birthday cards, so thanks to everyone who sent them, but I have to admit the best letter was from Sebastain Montenegro. The second guy that I got to teach (that got baptised) in my first area. He is a stud! Hes doing sooooo good. Hes happy and loving the gospel. He told me that when I go home or when I teach that I should tell everyone that once he was a drug addict and did a bunch of evil things, but now his life is full of light and happiness. Hes so cool. Hes cousin, (the one that he baptised) is the secretary in his ward and in his free time he goes out and hands out church materials to the people in the city. He turns 19 next january.

Well, I guess that'll do for this week. I really do love you all a whole bunch and look forward to hearing from you next week. I'm so grateful to be a missionary. Its the best.
this church is the truest of all the churches.
Love y'all
Elder Rau