Monday, September 22, 2014
I hope you´re all doing great. This week was about the same for me, same old missionary life! Time passes very strangely, I cant believe another week is already gone and I´ve been here for 4 weeks now. This whole mission thing has been one big, weird, out of body experience. Like literally, sometimes it does not feel real at all. I wouldnt be surprised one bit to wake up from this dream and have to go back to high school again. New culture, new people, new language, new everything, all at once. And its weird how traveling here by plan distorts my reality of how far from home I am. Im in a different hemisphere, like half an earth away, and I dont even realize it. Thats weird!!
Same old week here, just trying to keep my head above. Its hard to really see the progress of my spanish, its something so inmeasurable, but I feel like im progressing every so slowly. For now, im just trying my very best to understand what people are saying, always listening super super intently, because thats the only way you can ever learn is by listening to people speak it. And im just struggling through the parts where I have to speak myself or bear my testimony, but its getting a little easier every week with the more experience I get.
Something that Im going to really focus on this week during my personal study is reading preach my gospel and the accompaning scriptures with it, and im going to really develop my own personal testimony of every doctrine and principle. Im going to try to put in practice the promise of the Lord that says, ¨seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then your tongue shall be loosed¨. Im realizing that if im going to preach to people, I need to real know and believe the doctrine and principles with my whole heart, I have to really believe and know them for myself. I think people can definitely tell if you personally really believe something or not. They know because when you truly believe those things for yourself, the Spirit teaches their hearts. So this week, during my personal study, im going to focus in developing a testimony for myself rather than how I can say memorized phrases and ways to say things in spanish, and I know that the Lord and the Spirit will help me communicate the things of my heart. It took me a little while to learn this, but im glad that I understand it now. The people of South America are very bold, and if they think you have a problem, that just flat out tell you. And that happened to me this week. We were in a members home, and one man asked me how the spanish was coming along, and I told him it was still more or less, and he said that it wasnt the spanish thats my problem, but that I like the faith. So that was kind of really rude and hard for me at first, but the more I thought about it, the more that I thought it was true. I really need to believe these things for myself, my own personal deep testimony, so thats what im focusing on this week.
Our iluminador, (someone thats committed to baptism and coming to church) Enrique, is still doing great. He is the funniest, littlest man ive ever know. Everything he says is so funny. He is the most ideal of all ideal investigators that there has ever been. He is really into the Bible, he knows the Bible ten times better than I do, and he loves the Book of Mormon now too. He loves the idea of Joseph Smith restoring the truth and bringing forth the book of Mormon. Everything we say to him he just loves and automatically accepts it. He has a real testimony for himself. We are super super excited for his baptism!!!! I think that I might be the one doing the actual baptism, too. Not that its really important which missionary does the baptism, but I would just be really excited to do my first ever real baptism. Ill be sure to get a picture with him. I think that I probably dont understand how much of blessing it is for me to already have a baptism this early in my mission, I know that most European missionaries never get a baptism their entire mission. So im trying to really appreciate this.
We dont really have any other real solid progressing investigators. Other than Enrique, we have been meeting with a few other investigators, but none others that show a lot of interest. We have a lot of lessons with recent converts, re teaching lessons and sharing scriptures with them. We have about 4 converts that we consistently have lessons with other few days. Other than that, its just clapping doors all day, every day. Me encanta, por supuesto.
Sometimes when I think about english speaking missions I get really envious because I think about how much more focused in missionary things I would be. I mean, I feel like all the new missionaries here have a really hard time focusing themselves in spiritual things, or missionary skills like contacting, teaching lessons, etc. just because we cant speak the language yet. I feel like I know nothing about being a missionary, im just super lost. And when I think about being an english speaker, how much progress I would have made by now, sometimes I really wish I just spoke english. BUT, I really do believe and have a testimony that I am here for a reasons that I dont understand yet. I am here learning spanish, with a native companion, struggling, for a reason. And I know that I will see the fruits of all this down the road some time in the future. So, Im trying my best to maintain vision, and to be patient. In the meantime, im just trying my very best to be the best I can everyday. Do the most that I can everyday to learn the language, try to apply skills that im learning, etc. Its hard, but I am learning patience. Something I learned especially this week was that I cant compare myself to others. I need to take everyday personally, making progress personally, and trying my best personally. Its stressful to have to be a missionary without being able to speak right now, but I realized, I dont have to be a perfect flawless missionary. I just need to try my hardest everyday.
Well, thats about all. Every week, we go to a cyber in the morning and print off all your emails, and then in the afternoon we come back and reply, and every week before we come back to the cyber a second time, I write out a personal checklist of things that I want to remember to say, an outline basically. Something like:
-The food this week
-The specific spiritual experiences of this week
-Concluding spiritual insight/whatever
And this week, for the concluding spiritual thought I just wrote:
-Cliche missionary crap
Haha. Because I feel like every missionary pretends to have like grand spiritual insights and great wisdom that they like to cleverly, wisdomly word at the end of every email. Like how everything is a glorious blessing from the Lord and everything is tremedously happy. And I thought about doing this, and I just said, no man. Not my style. A mission isnt an on going, every second spiritual experience. There are spiritual experiences, yes, and you do learn a lot, but its not what its made out to be. Thats how I feel, at least. For the most part, im still just a normal 18 year old boy living life. Im just a representative for the church, asking people if they want to hear the message of the restoration and inviting them to church! haha. I dont know. Maybe that will be something that changes as my mission progresses. I hope that it does, actually. But thats how I feel for now. Im just going to be honest, tell my family how it really is!
Anyway, I hope you guys are all doing great. I sincerely am happy here, despite many hard things. Im learning and progressing a lot every day. Theres nothing to worry about, I think im begginging to start getting the hang of the culture here and how to live on my own. I hope you all have a good week!! I dont have any time left, so I probably cant individually email any of you this week. Sorry!
Love, Elder Miles
This week was basically the same as the last, they all feel the same to me. Everyday we just wander the neighborhoods tracting and teaching, and I try to do my best to understand what is happening but Im usually always pretty lost. I feel like my understanding of spanish is very slowly but surely getting there. Every week it feels like I can understand a little bit more. Everyday is super long, feels like the same exact thing. This stage of the mission I think is just really hard because you cant understand what people are saying or whats happening, and at the same time you´re forced super out of you comfort zone when you do have to share a thought or talk to someone. Everyone says the first few months are just really long and hard, and I think thats definitely true. But at the same time, I am still happy to be serving the Lord. Everyday my testimony is strengthened. Everyday I am a little farther on the path to getting to where I need to be. For now, im just sharing small things by the power of the Spirit and trying my hardest each day to learn the language!
The weather here is crazier than Utah weather. On tuesday, it was the hottest day that I have ever experienced. IT WAS SO HOT. And then for the rest of the week, it rained the entire week and was really freezing. I got a really nasty cold from it. We are about to enter into summer down here, and its going to get really really hot.
Its hard not having someone to talk casually too or joke or anything with in english. I mean, I speak a tiny spanish, enough to survive with my companion, but we arent really able to joke or have very much fun. So even though im with someone 24/7, I feel really lonely here. haha. We ate fish two times this week, and it made me super nausous for the rest of the week. I try super hard to like fish, but I just cant do it. I cant eat fish anymore, I would rather not eat anything at all. haha.
We decided to give our dirty clothes to our district leaders this week, and they were going to take it to a lady in their area that has a washing machine, and she was going to wash our clothes for us, but our district leaders left our dirty clothes bag on a bus, and they lost our clothes. So I lost a bunch of socks, my towels, a lot of my darks. Dang district leaders!
I got some awesome blisters on my feet this week. They are AWESOME
So there was a lot of the bad things that happened this week, but they were some good things that happened too!
Our investigator, Enrique, is a Taxi Cab driver in downtown Resistencia, and the only time he can met with us is his lunchbreak time, so we take a bus to Resistencia every other day to teach him. On wednesday, after our lesson with him, he gave us a tour of downtown Resistencia, it was way sweet. Downtown Res has tons of statues and cool/weird abstract art. It was cool to see. We are super excited for Enrique´s baptism, everything we have taught him he has loved and easily accepted. He is super excited about his baptism too, he is so ready to have the restored gospel in his life. It is really rewarding to see someone love and accept the gospel in their lives as a result from our efforts.
Another cool thing that I noticed this week, is that members of the church, all over the world, are the same people. The members here, they all have the same goals, the same understanding of our purpose in this life. They are all so kind. I think I love church on sundays so much because I feel like im at home for small portion of the day because the members feel like the same people as our members in Utah. Its really cool to see and think about.
That was basically this week. I wish I could tell you guys that Im having tons and tons of amazing spiritual experiences, but the truth is, im not really. Its hard to have spiritual experiences if you cant understand whats being said. Yes, there are times when I connect with an investigator when I share my small part of the conversation and I feel the Spirit in that moment. But overall, I feel like the first few months of a mission is hard because you dont really feel like you are having spiritual experiences or really contributing in the discussions or helping that much because you just cant understand anything or speak! Its hard. But, Im taking it day by day, everyday im progressing and I know that im going to get there eventually. I hope everyone at home is doing great, I love and miss you all a lot!
Tomorrow, I will have completed two months in the mission field! WOOOHOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!! FIESTA!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can do that 11 more times. EASY.
Love, Elder Miles
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Whew, there goes week 2. It definitely was a really tough week for me. That was probably the hardest week yet. Last week, even though I didnt understand anyone, it was kinda okay because it was my first week. But we do a program called the First 12 Weeks, and I was obligated to have to talk a lot more this week, and it was really hard and stressful. Im starting to understand people better, but I still cant really understand what people are saying to me and replying back is even harder! haha. The language is for sure a killer. When you get your call and you get called to a foreign language speaking mission, you never really think about how hard and discouraging learning the language is, you just think that when you´ll get to your mission, youl already know the language. Its definitely not the case, its super hard, but im working the hardest I can, using all my time wisely to study spanish, and I know that im on the right track to one day becoming effictive at the lanuage. For now its hard, but im learning a lot everday, and ill get there soon!
I forgot to tell you guys in my email last week. I AM THE TALLEST PERSON HERE!!!!!! WOOOO!!! Its weird! But awesome! Ive only met one other guy that was taller than me. Besides all the other american missionaries here.
So this week, we found a new investigator, Enrique, and committed him to baptism for the. He is super excited and really into learning and living the gospel, so we are really excited for him. We also have another promising investigator, Walter, who we really think is going to progress a lot this week, we hope.
In response to some questions, I want to tell you more about what its like here. So we dont knock doors, we clap doors. We stand outside the gate of the persons house, and we clap loud like 10 times, and the people always hear. The walls on the houses aren´t very thick, because there mostly just sheets of metal, and most houses dont have windows, so people always hear. And for the first couple of weeks, that is all we have been doing all day every day. Walking around our area clapping houses. Its super exhausting, and for me its really difficult because I dont feel like I contribute at all in the conversations we have because I cant understand yet what people are saying really. I feel like im going to love tracking though once I can start speaking the language comfortably.
The food here is basically the same, at least the food we eat! I have cold cereal every morning, and we usually go to a members house everyday, and the food us noodles or meat or something yummy, and then for dinner when we return back to our apartment at, our next door neighbors usually make us something really nice. So we are so very thankful for our awesome neighbors, they are super good cooks. The only thing thats hard for me is that we eat a ton of fish, and fish makes me want to gag, but I usually manage to get it down.
My companion, Elder Nava, is still great. Its just hard for both of us because I really want to learn the language, so I ask him questions all day long, and I think he gets inpatient with me asking questions all the time, which is understandable.
In the MTC, I met another Elder Miles going to the Resistencia mission, Craig Miles, and sure enough, we both are in the same district. Haha. So all the people during church on sundays are like,´Wait, there´s two Elder Miles´s?! Him and I are super good friends, I think we´ll definitely hang out after the mission. Hes from like north utah. But hes great, everyand district meeting, him and I get together for a minute and talk to each other in english about how hard everything is for both of us right now and how much at times we hate it. haha. Its one of my favorite times of the week.
All our laundry is done by hand, it takes a long time but I actually dont mind it, Im able to get all the stains in the collars of my shirts out better than if I were to wash it in a machine. The dishes are all washed by hand too.
Momma, pops, I know you guys have looked at Resistencia on google maps, but you guys looked at where the mission home is located, which is in the heart of downtown Resistencia. I am the field, farmland, in a city on the outskirts of Resistencia called Barranquerras. Its a lot less nice. haha.
Well, thats basically my week. It was super tough, the language is super discouraging and difficult, but im taking it one day at a time. I know im on the right path to one day speaking the language comfortable. Im relying on the Spirit most of all though to communicate the message, because he is the one that brings the message to the people´s hearts, we are just the ones that say the words. Im definitely seeing much the power of prayer and the Spirit here, I pray so super hard everyday for the Lord to help me with the language, and ive seen a lot of progress. Prayer for me now is a lot more than what it was before, I have a deep relationship with my heavenly father, I know that he really is our father for everybody. I hope you guys are all doing well, have a good week!
Love, Elder Miles
Monday, September 1, 2014
I dont have very much time because the cyber cafe in our area was closed when we got to it, so we had to take a bus all the way to downtown Resistencia, which took a really long time and we have to get back real soon because our P day ends in half an hour. But I need to tell you guys all about Argentina!!!
First, dad, in the MTC before I left, I had to get two shots, and I think that they need us to pay for it. So can you call or email them and see what they are charging us for? Thanks!
Also, familia, I just want you to know that in my letters to you guys, I dont make things sound happy and missionary like because I know that its going on my missionary blog and my friends and such will read it. I tell you how it is in these emails, I dont really care too much about my mission blog or anything, its all the truth!
So, traveling over here was really long, we had three plane rides. We flew to buenos aires over night, and then took a plan from buenos aires to resistencia the next night. So we got to take a bus ride through the central of buenos aires, it was a really cool experiences. Its exactly like how you think it is, and different in many ways. Everything is really really old and dirty and worn out. No two building are alike. They all have grafitti all over them and its just crazy. It was super cool. We took a pit stop in the buenos aires MTC, which is right across the street from the buenos aires temple. I didnt get to go inside but we got to walk around the outside, it was beautiful. Resistencia is like wise. My area is called Barranquerras. Its like the suberbs of Resistencia city. All the buildings are really old and worn out and dirty and falling apart. Its a city of dogs. haha. I swear there are more dogs here then humans. It would be awesome if we were baptising dogs. They all need a bath anyway. The people have the same personalities as america obviously, some really nice people, mean people, etc. The main streets are paved with worn down asphault, but all the rest is dirt roads. My shoes always have an inch of dust/dirt on them. haha. I havent seen the black of my shoes all week.
I dont understand a thing that people are saying right now. Its not the same language we spoke in the MTC!!!!! haha. Really, I am totally completely lost in all conversations. I can usual understand my companion pretty well becuase I talk to him all the time all day, but the locals, I dont understand one bit. Its really frustrating everyday, I want to share the gospel so bad, but my companion right now says everything in the lessons. I catch a few words, a few ideas of whats going on every now and then. Im studying hard and praying hard to start understanding espanol! Its super super hard, im having a really hard time with the spanish, but i know that everyone does. My companion says that his last companion had been out for 10 months, and I understand spanish and can speak it better than he can. So thats kind of uplifting, but also that could mean that a lot of missionaries never get the hang of it. Im trying super hard to start understanding!
My companion is Elder Nava, a native speaker from Mexico, no english. Which is super super hard for every single every day things. Everything is a hard to understand when he wants me to do something. But at the same time, I think it is really helping me out a lot to have a native speaker! Just about everything is different in spanish then english, they way we say everything is different. I can give you some examples next week maybe, I dont have very much time this week! But I think he is really helping me understand spanish a lot lot better, im super grateful that i have him as my companion. Also, he is the hardest working, most focused missionary that I know. I difinitely stereotyped him when I first met him. He is awesome, im so happy I have, he is a perfect companion and trainer. He teaches me so much.
Our apartment is mas o menos! (More or less). Its not a shack, so thats definitely a plus. It doesnt have AC of course or anything like that, but its not too bad. We have a shower head in our bathroom that has two functions: scolding hot, or extremely cold. So every morning is a struggle. We wish all the dishes by hand. Everything is done without the luxuries of America. But i love it, it is home.
More about the Resistencia, its just exactly what you guys imagine. Dirt roads, really old, dirty, falling apart shacks. You really have no idea the luxuries of living in America until you live in a third world country. The people are the same though, happy and very grateful and gracious for what they have.
My companion brought with him the mission field and ipod with all kinds of spiritual upbeat church music on it, and it is english! so we listen to that always in our free time. It is awesome, I love it. Music motivates me so much!!
We have next door neighborhoods, the owners of our apartment, who make us a meal almost everyday. They are the nicest people that I know!!! They are super good cooks, we are always so grateful for the food they make us!! They arent members, but they fed us almost everyday. It rocks.
I wasnt very shellshocked actually when I got here, its just the language barrior thats killing me right now. The culture is super different, I cant even really explain to what its like here, it doesnt fit into words. Its just so different. But I didnt get very shellshocked, after the first day, its like I was just walking around in West Valley, its all completely normal to me now.
It sounds like I shouldnt like it very much, right? But the strange thing is, is that ive probably never been happier. I dont understand a word people say to me, Im in a really broken down, beat up place, but I really am so happy. Sharing the gospel with people, devoting all my time to the Lord, living that lifestyle, it makes me so happy. It really doesnt matter where we live or what we have or anything, if we are living the life of the gospel and always constantly developing, we are really happy. We need struggles, mountains to climb, like spanish, in order for us to be happy in this life.
We have lots of investigators, I have a lot of experiences I would like share I dont think that I have enough time this week. Next week for sure.I just want you guys to make sure that you guys know that I am really happy, everything is awesome. I am more than okay. Mom can come out of her pulmonary enfarkment now haha.
Ill tell you guys more about it all next week! Throw out to me any questions that you guys have about Resistencia. After one week, the things that I thought were crazy when I first got here arent really crazy at all to me anymore, its just life. So there are probably tons of things that im leaving out. So you can ask questions if you have them!
One of the weird things here is that people still read horses here. Like horse drawn carriage things. Its crazy. And EVERY SINGLE PERSON drives a motorcycle. Not very much cars. }
I could probably wake up at any moment now and not be suprised that this whole mission thing has been one big dream, its so weird, but awesome!!}
Until next week familia!! Love you guys!
Love, Elder Miles