Monday, August 3, 2015

Saving the Best for Last!

My Dear friends and family,

Well it is pretty outrageous to think that this moment has finally come. I remember getting into the MTC (Missionary Training Center) and thinking, ¨I am never going to get home...this is never going to end,¨ then about halfway through my mission I remember thinking, ¨man this is passing by pretty quick but I still lack a ton until I go home¨ and well today you all are going to get my thoughts about my last week in the mission.

Honestly it is probably one of the strangest feelings I have ever felt in my life, to think of coming home it gives me butterflys in my stomach, and a heart split in two. One half is torn to leave this amazing country and the people that I have come to love so much and then the other half is doing all it can to get back to arizona the fastest possible so it is such a huge mix of emotions.

It honestly makes me pretty emotional to think about all of it. I will be honest I am so sad to have to take off my plack and return back to being a normal person. For the last two years I have had the priviledge to wear the Savior´s name everday upon my chest and I have been able to be one of His representatives. I can not even begin to describe how much I have learned and honestly for how honored I feel to have served as a missionary. This week my prayers have been especially focused in on thanking my Heavenly Father for everything that He has given and for be so pacient and merciful with me during these last two years.

A missionaries service is something much bigger and has so many more sides to it that one could never imagine unless you have experienced what it is to be a full time missionary. During these last two years I have had many doors slammed in my face, had my heart broken by people who decided to stop listening, frustrated to the point of tears, and humbled to some pretty low points. A mission is not easy by any means, but I can tell you it has been the BEST thing I have ever done in my life. Becuase for every hard experience I have had there has always been a happy moment that penetrated deep into my heart that filled the emptiness that some of these experiences can bring.

As I have examined the life of my Savior Jesus Christ I have come to realize that it was never easy for Him and He was perfect! So that means it could never be easy for me if I am a sinner full of weaknesses. Then thinking a little deeper on that same thought it is thanks to life of this magnificent man that each of us can become better. If it would have been easy for Him we wouldn´t be able to trust in Him and know that He truly understands us. Many times I have been lifted up by the strong promptings of the Spirit and by the power of Christ´s Atonement. The thousand times that I fell He has lifted me up and I know for a fact He will continue to do the same. That is the great message of the gospel that thanks to what this Man did we each can start over again and that there is always hope. And it is this hope that has changed so many people and continues to change others. It truly is a miracle.

I have been a personal witness to the mighty changes of heart that people can have when they listen and APPLY the restored gospel to their lives. I have seen people healed of their sicknesses, I have watched families that were torn apart come together again in love and unity with Christ being the center of their home, and I have seen time after time the hand of the Lord work wonders in the lives of every single person that has made the effort to sincerly pray and study the scriptures each day and attend church on sunday. The gospel is so simple and our Heavenly Father is so ready to bless us He just waits for us to act first.

My dear friends and familly that have stuck with me for so long week after week reading me drag on about all that goes on in my life, I want to thank you for all of the love, prayers and support that you sent each week wether it was written or just a random thought every now and again. I know 100% that I could not have done this with out all of your help. Your prayers were felt and I will forever be greatful for the support that you have shown me.

As a representative of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints I add my testimony to those of all the great missionaries that have come before me. I know that Jesus Christ lives, and I have recieved a very personal witness that this church is His. I have prayed, fasted and studied and the spirit has testified to me time after time that God truly has restored what was lost after the death of Christ and His Apostles. I know Joseph Smith was called to be a Prophet of God and that by the power of God not only did he restore the original church of Christ upon the earth again but he also translated one of the greatest gifts God has ever given to His children, The Book of Mormon. There is no greater proof that this is the true church than this amazing piece of work. I am so thankful for the Book of Mormon and for the strength I get from it. I have been so priviledged over the last two years to worked in the Vineyard of the Lord and I will thank him everyday for the rest of my life for what He gave me, when He sacrificed His Son. My only hope is that one day I can become just half the man that He is.

I want you all to know how much I love you and for how thankful I am for each of you. So that everyone knows I will be getting home Tuesday August 11th at 9:24 am in terminal 3 at Phoenix Sky Harbor those who wish to come are invited! But if you can´t make it during the week everyone is invited to my homecoming talk Sunday August 16th at 8:30am at the church on Eason in Buckeye, we will then have brunch at the house for anyone who would like to stop by!  Love you all. Nos Veremos muy pronto.

This is Elder Hall signing out for the last time...


Friday, July 31, 2015

Almost there! :)

Hey Everybody! 

I want you all to forget about what I have said for the last 94 weeks about how fast time could pass by because I didn´t know anything until this last week. I still can´t believe it is Monday already this week and everything in general is just in hyper light speed so it is pretty unbelievable. I am pretty sure that this week passed by super fast because we traveled 3 hours to a town called Dolores to do exchanges with the two missionaries down there. It was alot of fun and it is always great to work with other missionaries and learn from them. After we got back from Dolores our Bishop asked us to help him with a new project something that I haven´t had the opportunity to do in my mission! A giant play house that sits about a meter and a half up in the air! (I am not sure how many feet that would be it would be about 150 centimeters! I am pretty well converted to the metric system I like it a lot better! haha) Needless to say the thing is big, and our Bishop isn´t exactly a construction kinda guy so basically the future fun of his children are laying on the hands of my companero adn mine´s redneck ingenuity which I gotta say worked very well for us! So this next week we have to finish it! I will send pictures! Lets just say it is going to be awesome!

Then today we have had a lot of fun eating 15 pizzas and almost 20 pounds of ice cream (did I mention how much I am going to miss cheap Argentine ice cream deals! haha) with our district. Sometimes it is just so much  fun to be a missionary we work hard but we also play hard so it all evens out! Some of the things that are happening in our area is that we started teaching a little old man named Juan this last week who is the neighbor of a member and he is doing really great! He is learning things little by little and accepted a baptismal date for the 22 of August and attended church yesterday. Then we have Facudo who says that he is finally going to get baptized on the 7th, the only problem is he broke his leg so we aren´t exactly sure how we are going to work that one out, but the Lord will provide. 

Last night as we were in the house of Maria Romero (who I know you guys haven´t heard a lot about her but she was the one who got baptized a few weeks after I got here)  and she is just so awesome. I just love her so much! It is so amazing to see the changes that the gospel can really make in someone. I have watched people change for the last two years and it never gets old, it seems like every time it is a new experience and it just fills me with so much happiness because I feel like I am truly complying with my missionary purpose and doing what the Lord wants me to do. It was actually a very sad moment thinking about how much I don´t want to stop having experiences like that, but the closer I get the more I am starting to feel that my time is ending and that it is what the Lord wants so it is honestly just a matter of continuing to work as hard as I can these last two weeks and coming home the missionary and priesthood man that the Lord wants me to be. 

I hope everyone is doing great and that each one of you can take the time to realize the many blessings that we receive each day. Some times life is hard, especially when we know we are preparing for a big change but I have a strong testimony that change is good and that it always leads us to where our Heavenly Father wants us to be! We just have to pray and trust in our Heavenly Father! I am pretty sure after writing it every week you all know how much I love you, as I always ask keep me in your prayers and you´ll be in mine! Have a great week! 

Elder Hall 

Is it possible to only have 3 weeks left of your mission?!

Buenas Tardes! 

Man oh man oh man.........I don´t even think you guys understand, ok well maybe some of you have an idea of what it is like to only have 21 days left of your mission. It is finally starting to sink in and it is kinda freaking me out! haha I am trying not to think about it because it just makes me kinda anxious and sad and happy and just everything at once! 

This week has been a pretty good one, it flew by (what a surprise...) but we were able to find some pretty cool new people and some of our other investigators have decided that they want to progress and not just listen to us so we will see what things come from them! My comp and I are super happy because we have been working with the leaders of our ward trying to get things moving here and we have been able to gain the confidence of quite of few of the leaders and so yesterday in Ward Council we were able to get some great plans made and we have already started putting them into effect trying to help the ward out because it is falling pretty quick. We normally had at least 50 people who attended and this last month we have had just over 35 so the leaders are getting pretty worried. So we are trying to get everything up and moving! 

So last week I didn´t want my letter to be super long so I wasn´t able to finish sharing my experience about finishing el Libro de Mormón for the second time two weeks ago. I actually read it a little different this last time because I grabbed a blue pass along version and I marked all of the parts where it talks about being obedient to the commandments of God and the blessings that come from it and I must say I was quite impressed. The Lord always always always helped out and blessed his people when they obeyed His commandments and it was one of the biggest lessons that I took from reading it this time. It really helped me strengthen my faith in God and in His commandments, at times I have felt that the commandments have been a weight on my back but now I understand that they quite honestly were the opposite. As tradition and because of the admonition of the Prophet Moroni in the last chapter of the Book of Mormon after finishing I kneeled down to ask if it was true and as I was praying I couldn´t bring myself to ask if the Book was true. I just had a such a strong feeling that it was already true and my testimony has grown so much over the last two years it just didn´t seem right to ask if it was true, because I already know it is. So as I prayed I asked my Heavenly Father for a confirmation that I am still on the path that He wants me to be on, and my heart was filled with such a sweet spirit. 

I am so thankful for the gift of the Holy Ghost and for the guidance and direction we can receive from Him. I am also thankful that our Heavenly Father is patient with us and allows us to continue asking for help, He doesn´t just kick us out and never communicate with us again. My dear friends and family I promise you all as a humble servant of our Lord Jesus Christ that if in any moment you would like to get closer to and feel the personal love our Savior has for each and every one of you open up the Book of Mormon, read, and then ask Him if what you have read is true. I am so grateful for my testimony of the Book of Mormon and the personal ways that the Spirit has touched my heart to let me know that it is true. For all those who accepted my Book of Mormon Challenge I encourage you to keep on reading! And if you got behind keep on going, the most important thing is to read! 

I hope you all know how much I love you guys and that you are all in my thoughts and prayers. Very soon I´ll have the chance to tell you guys about all of this and a whole lot more in person, but until then I ask that you keep my investigators, the members and I in your prayers. Have a great week! :) 

Elder Hall  
 Mate! Here is my mate cup with the yerba (herb mate) and then the whole set of things that I bought. The big case is leather that they made up in the northern part of Arg. very rarely do you find cool things like this here! 

Hey Everybody :)

(email from July 13, 2015)

Muy Buenas Tardes mis Queridos Amigos :) 

Well as time keeps passing faster and faster it seems that I am continually touched by small things that make every moment count. It seems that every day I continue to learn more and more that helps me to become better and gives me more desires to be a better person and missionary. 

This week we had the opportunity to meet our new mission president. Presidente Nuñez is an amazing guy who I wish I had more time to get to know him. I was inspired by his energy and desires he has to serve the Lord, and make this mission become the best it can. As I have expressed a few times I was sad to be leaving President and Sister Thurgood but as it always is when we get transferred or change companions the sadness wears off quick and we are just left with the fond memories of the past. Some cool things that President has changed is that we get a little more money each month for fruits and vegetables! (haleluya!) We are able to get together with the other missionaries on Pdays more often, and probably the two biggest changes is that he wants us to attend the temple to go to baptisms with our converts and we can now drink Mate (Mah-tay) the traditional Argentine herbal drink! So we are suuuuupppppeeeeer excited! On Saturday we will be headed to the temple with Maria Romero and the rest of the ward, and well we have already been drinking a ton of mate! So the new president not only is a great guy spiritually but he also won us all over that way! 

This week we had a pretty tough experience that honestly broke my heart. As we talked with one of the sisters in the ward she told us about her niece that was 21 years old and already had 3 kids and unfortunately abuses them. To save you all and to save myself from having to explain further details of what exactly went on just know it was pretty strong especially with the oldest daughter who is 5. Now basically anyone who knows me knows that kids have a special place in my heart. There is just something about being an older brother that it is just natural for me and honestly to hear the things that happened was comparable to ripping my very heart out of my chest. I just sat and listened and then we said a prayer with the sister and in my prayer I just started crying and got super emotional. 

We live in a very degraded society and the more and more that I hear from friends and family I realize it is in all parts. My dear friends and family take care of your little ones, love them, teach them and help them to understand what things are going on this world. Talking with my mom today she said something that I completely agree with she told me, ¨In my opinion its just time to face the facts, Christians hide their beliefs because of ridicule, & as parents we have to teach our kids to stand up for what they believe in & not be ashamed. It just gets harder & harder.¨ One of the biggest things I have learned is that sheltering is not the answer quite honestly it makes things even harder for kids when they get into the real world. I obviously am not a parent but I have talked with a lot and know that there has to be a balance in between protecting and sheltering and each family needs to find their own balance.

It is so important that we as a society and especially as members of the church need to do all that we can to protect and educate the children of today. In The Family: A Proclamation to the World it states, 
THE FAMILY is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.
The only way to achieve true happiness in this world and in the world to come is by doing what is right and following the immeasurable example of our Savior Jesus Christ. He is the only one that can lead us back to calmer waters where we will be able to enjoy the blessings and the protection of our Heavenly Father! May we all be able to find the strength that we need to help and support our families. Have a great week! :) 

Elder Hall 

Buenas Tardes!

(email from July 6, 2015)

Hey Everyone! 

Hope everyone is doing great and staying nice and warm up on the northern hemisphere! It has been a pretty chilly week for us! We are definitely in the middle of winter down here, it was scarfs and gloves and heavy coats basically all week. The great thing is that this winter it hasn´t rained as much as last and I am hoping that for at least the next five weeks it stays that way!

It is now completely official that I am a missionary of the Buenos Aires East Mission, unfortunately we still haven´t had the chance to meet Presidente Nuñez but on Wednesday we have a special conference with all the missionaries from the three stakes here in La Plata with him and his wife! So I am excited to meet them! 

This week my companion and I have been working hard to look for some new investigators and lift the area up a little! We were able to contact a few good people and we are striving to get the members involved. It is interesting because I honestly feel like it is harder now to find people to teach then when I was a new missionary and I have thought alot about it and my conclusion is that it is a sign of the times. Elder Russel M. Nelson said, 

¨In Luke 21, "The Earth shall be in distress, nations with perplexity, the seas and the waves roaring. Men's hearts failing them for fear." What we're seeing is a prediction that in these latter days people will be afraid. Men's hearts are failing, and that includes women,because they forget their identity and their purpose.¨
Adding my personal thoughts to what Elder Nelson taught, we are surrounded by a world full of temptations and wrong doing, so many people are so confused and don´t know what to do with themselves or their lives. As the world continues in its course of ¨distress¨ and ¨perplexity¨ men´s hearts will continue to fail and the work will only become harder. BUT I am convinced that as we strive to obey God´s commandments and come closer to Him we will be guided and we will be able to help bring others to His fold. My dear friends and family stay strong and hold fast to those gospel principles that unite families and help us to become better people. Don´t let your heart fail you because of the fears of the world, our Savior Jesus Christ said it the best when speaking to His Prophet Joseph Smith for a group of church members in Doctrine and Covenants 50:41-42 said,
 41 Fear not, little children, for you are mine, and I have overcome the world, and you are of them that my Father hath given me;  
42 And none of them that my Father hath given me shall be lost.

We are the Father´s little children and Jesus Christ overcame the world, I know that if we put our faith and our confidence in Him we will not be lost but we will be guided to a safer place where we can enjoy the blessings of the gospel and not fear what the world has in store. If we want to remain faithful during the trials of these last days we must be obedient and we put our trust in the Lord. Strengthen yourselves and your families and you will all be blessed. To close I want to send out what the First Presidency and the Quorum of the 12 Apostles sent out to all of the leaders and members of the church this last week it truly is an inspired invitation! 
As members of the Church, we are responsible to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to illuminate the great blessings that flow from heeding God’s commandments as well as the inevitable consequences of ignoring them. We invite all to pray that people everywhere will have their hearts softened to the truths God established in the beginning, and that wisdom will be granted to those who are called upon to decide issues critical to society’s future.
May we all pray for the benefit of our future society for the sake of our posterity. I love this gospel and I hope you all know how much I love you. I am so thankful for my Savior Jesus Christ and for what he did for me. What a marvelous blessing we have to know that He died for us and that through his atoning sacrifice we and our families can be saved! I  am pretty sure we don´t even realize what we have. Keep on doing what you gotta do! :) 

Hope you all have a great week and are still reading! :)  Tomorrow I am going to finish el Libro de Mormón for the second time! I am excited to hear where you guys are at! Love you all! 

Elder Hall

 Scripture study by candle light as they burned all of that outside when they were protesting last month! haha 

 My last picture with Presidente and Hermana Thurgood! 

 Intercambios in Dolores! Such a fun trip with some elders who have become great friends over the course of our missions!

 New shoes! (well fixed shoes!)

 Hermano Stoghe cooking Pollo al disco! Or Disk Chicken! Soooo good! Usually it is cooked over coals 
but it was raining!

 Saying goodbye to Elder Perez!

 Traditional companion with the cathedral pic!

 My last agenda! I found this in a Liahona! hahaha and then you will have to look the scripture up. When a missionary ends his mission he ¨dies¨, so it makes it pretty funny! and then on the back is the family pic, and in silver letters you cant see the scripture in Mathew 19:29!


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Last Transfer starting....NOW! :)

(email from June 29, 2015)

Well everybody you´ve only got 5 more letters after this one! 

So I guess that means I gotta step it up so that they have even more meaning! So I guess I can publicly address this not just with my mom that it is pretty hard for me to think that my mission is almost over. I have had some rough moments trying to swallow the fact that very soon I am not going to have the same opportunities and responsibilities that I have now. It is a very weird thing for a missionary to get to the point in their mission when they are at the end and it has been a struggle, but my mission president that after this wednesday no longer is my mission president gave me some good advice to give it all I have and then I will be able to enjoy my mission and the change will be something natural. So I am excited to know that in 6 weeks I will be coming home, but until then I don´t want to think about it! :) 

Other news is that I got my new companion, his name is Elder Forest Newton from Lakeside, Montana (but his family now lives in Hamilton, if there is anyone who knows montana!) He has been in the mission for about 19 months, and seems to be a super great guy who wants to work hard! I am so excited because I will be able to finish my mission working hard and doing what I love! We are also getting things ready for the change of mission presidents that will happen this week, and my companion and I will be some of the first Zone Leaders in the Buenos Aires Este (east) Mission so we are excited for the opportunities that we have to work with President Nuñez! Should be interesting to see what changes he makes in the mission (not that I am really going to see anything too drastic!) but one thing I have learned and I have expressed it a few times change is a good thing, and it helps us progress! 

I am really just going to try to give it my all this last transfer. I want to do everything I can to find the people that the Lord has prepared here in Los Hornos and I also want to show my Heavenly Father the dedication that I have to endure to the end. I know that this last month and a half will have a big influence on how I look at my mission in general and in my life to come and I just want to be able to get on the plane knowing I did all I could to help the people out here in Argentina and to have the feeeling that my Heavenly Father is happy with the work that I have done here. So that´s the goal! :) 

I hope those of you who are reading the Book of Mormon are keeping up! Let me know the experiences you have had or where your at! Your testimonies help me to strengthen me! Love you all, and thanks to all those who sent me an email wishing me a happy birthday! Have a great week! 

Elder Hall