Monday, March 31, 2014

Buenos Tardes :) - 7 Months in the Mission!

Hey Everybody! (Sorry not quite feeling the spanish today..haha) 

I had a great first week here in Villa Progreso, in La Plata! Like I said last week it is crazy small, so I am getting to know the area pretty fast! I love it here, I was so so so happy because there is a part of our tiny area that is all campo (country)!! And I was suffocating in Villa España too much city for my liking. So when we got to lunch on tuesday and the backyard was a big open field where I could actually see for a good distance, and some cows and horses it was great! (I know I have never been a hillbilly kid, but after 6 years in Buckeye I really did grow to love open spaces!) So it has a good mixture for me! 

Unfortunately my companion was sick for about 3 days this week, (I am starting to feel like a curse my companions are always getting sick!) but we were able to teach a little and we have a few really great investigators who are progressing towards baptism! The members here are super nice, and they welcomed me right into the ward! We have a big youth program here (28 youth) and the primary has about 20 or so kids so it is great to be around kids! I am so thankful the Lord always puts me in an area with kids. I think everyone knows that is one of the hardest things is not getting to be close and see my little siblings, so at least I have some kids to be around here to make up for it a little! 

One of the great things about being here in Villa Progreso is we are out of the big city of La Plata but we are only 15 minutes away in bus! We went this morning to take out money, and it was so cool. It is an actual big city with kinda skyscrapers, tons of stores, and tourists spots! Which was different for me, because is Quilmes, and Berazetegui the other cities close to Villa España only had like one street of shops and then the rest was all houses. La Plata would be like walking through a downtown of a big US City! I am sending pictures of some of the places we went to this morning, so you all will have to check out the blog when my mom gets pics put up! There is a HUGE cathedral that is gorgeous here! So it was alot fun! 

Overall I am loving it here in Villa Progresso. It has been really nice to have a new change, and to give me some new motivation. My companion is trying to kill me with excercising though. This morning I about fell over dead after we ran, then did push ups, and sit ups, and ran again for more than an hour. But I survived! haha I got pretty out of shape in Villa España, but Elder Herrera only has 8 months left and a girlfriend waiting for him at home, so we work out. I guess it is good for me, I dont have a choice, but to work out! So all is well! 

I hope all is going well at home, and that everyone just remembers the Lord has a plan, and when we put our trust him things are much easier. We talked the other day about how things can be bad, but we can feel good. And I know that this is true, we just have to figure out how to feel good when we are in bad situations. There is always a silver lining to every cloud! Keep the faith my friends :) 

Elder Hall 
 Por Fin! (Finally!) It´s really beautiful! And peaceful, and I am loving it!

 Alright my mom can be a witness that at home one of my favorite snacks was chips ahoy cookies (the blue ones, not the nasty red ones) and here in argentina I like my alfajores, well I discovered an interesting combination of both! 

 I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to do something cheesy! haha 

 La Catedral de La Plata! It reminded me of the ones in Europe! 


 There were 12 of these statues on the wall, and each of them was very unique and interesting!

 This is very interesting, if you look in his robe, there are tons of small faces, I really would enjoy talking to the man who designed this cathedral just to learn about the symbolism! 


 Beautiful Stained Glass Windows! 

I think my favorite of the day! Beautiful Cathedral with the Argentine Flag!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Buenas Tardes de La Plata (AKA I got transferred today!)

Buenas Tardes Amigos y Familia,

Wow. I am tired. And it is only 4 o´clock here! haha Well my time to leave Villa España finally arrived, on saturday night I recieved a call from the Zone Leaders telling me that I was being transferred to Villa Progreso, in La Plata which is another city about two hours away from Buenos Aires, and an hour away from Villa España. It is more towards the south, it has city, country like places, basically a mix of everything. It was here that last april there was a horrible flood that like destroyed a ton of building, and basically the city of La Plata! No worries it is all dried up now though! :) 

We left this morning at about 7:45 to head to Banfield for transfer meeting, and then afterwards started the trek to La Plata. We had to change trains three times, so it is always a little bit of an adventure, but luckily (And my family will not believe this, but you all don´t have any other option!) my sense of direction  has gotten pretty good these days, and can navigate the train system here pretty well! It is a little bit different when you are always on foot, and so you get to learn everything a lot better then just cruising by in a car (however I sure wouldn´t mind one!) But it actually wouldn´t be of any use in this area, Villa Progreso is so, so, so small. Our area is 12 blocks by 8 blocks, (with the division of Villa España our area was 20 by 16). 

I am with Elder Herrera from Mexico City, Mexico, he was Elder Garcia´s companion in Villa España before I got here, and then afterwards he was still in our zone, so I already knew him!  I am excited to have this change, and get to know a new area of Argentina. It really was hard to leave Villa España, but I kinda knew I was leaving. I felt like my progression as a missionary was a little bit at a stand still, so I think it is funny that I was put in Villa Progreso, which literally means Progress Village! So I hope the area can live up to it´s name! 

I think the hardest part of saying goodbye actually didn´t hit me until I had left Villa España when, I realized that there is a chance I will never see any of these people again, at least during this life. And honestly that was a hard thought to take in, to think that these people who I loved, and grew so close to, that I might not get to see them face to face in this life again. I am thankful for email and for skype and the technology that we have to help us keep in touch, but still it was hard! I think it made me realize the importance of  loving the people, and how I need to live, and enjoy every moment that I have with them! :) 

Overall it was a great last week in Villa España, and I am excited to start this new transfer, and adventure here in Villa Progreso! Also want to throw in a reminder to check out my blog because there is a lot of pictures this week! Hablamos pronto! 

Elder Hall 

 I am going to miss this guy! He was a great Elder who I hope to have contact with after the mission!

 Elder Dominguez (My Zone Leader who went home today!), Elder Brown, and I all are from Arizona! Dominguez is from Yuma, and Brown is from Payson! 

 Armando Aranda, this old guy cracks me up, there first time he prayed he said more then 1 bad word in the prayer (and elder de loayza and I almost died laughing because the context was hilarious), but after a few months of teaching he is praying like a champ, and if he could get his work schedule organized will be baptized! 

 And when missionaries do good service, they get good food! :) Mmmm empanadas! 

 De Loayzita and I! haha 

 We worked our tails off doing service for our investigator Maria the other day! She is in a wheel chair and can´t do a whole lot to keep her yard cleaned up, so we took on the jungle with a machete and a rake! haha and we got it done! 

 Hermana Maria Yanquelin! This lady has learned about just every single church you can imagine, and I can say there was no convincing going on with her. We didn´t have much success with her, until one day she was very sick and we gave her a Priesthood Blessing, and within a few hours she was feeling better. After that a few weeks ago she has came to church every Sunday, and she has never been baptized in a church (not even catholic as a baby (which is rare here!)) and truth to be told she was pretty proud of the fact she hadn´t been baptized, well finally this last week after many lessons and of course this priesthood blessing she committed to be baptized! :)) 

 Alright this pic does not give Emilio any justice to his true personality. He is the funniest, and craziest man that I have ever met. I really will miss the whole family. We had a lot of fun, and some great lessons with them, and I hope to get an email about his baptisms here in a few months! :) 

 Hermano Enrique Millan, this guy is amazing! He was going to school to become an evangelical preacher, and so he went to Houston, Texas for a convention, and met the missionaries! They gave him a Book of Mormon in Spanish, and when he got back to Argentina he was baptized! 

 Hna. Sylvia Antunez,and Hna. Gloria Giles two sisters who I never will forget! They were like two extra grandmas of mine! :) 

 Toto Balbuena, Me, E. De Loayza, Mariano Balbuena, and Ivan!

 La Familia Falcón! The big guy is our branch president, with his wife, kids, and a returned missionary who came back to live in Villa España! 

 Lucia, and Mariana Garcia! Their family has the best lunches in the rama, we always ate great at their house, and they are a really awesome family! 

 Saying goodbye to La Familia Nuñez! (This doesn´t even have all of the kids!) 

 Going to miss these kids! :) Like little argentine siblings to me! 

Las hermanas, Hermana Sylvia Antunez, Hermana Romina Godoy, and Us! 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Otra Semana en Argentina!

Buenas Tardes Queridos! 

This week has been a very good week, and a very fast week (faster then normal)! It is crazy that next week is already transfers again! It feels like we just had transfers a few days ago, so who knows maybe next Monday I will be emailing from a new area. I really have no clue if I am staying here for 6 more weeks, or if I am headed to some where new, and honestly I will be happy either way! 

I am thankful this week for my companion, Elder De Loayza, seriously he is a crack up, and has a ton of patience. There are many nights where we both just stay up talking, whether it is discussing some of the deeper doctrine of the church (which Elder De Loayza is an expert on!) or just about what things were like before the mission, and how they will be after. We have had days where he wakes up singing opera, (in English which just kills us all with laughter) the other day he decided to talk in Portuguese for awhile, I never know what to expect from him, but I am grateful the Lord placed me with such a great friend!  

This weekend was Stake Conference and all 26 missionaries in our zone sang in the choir on Saturday night, and it really went well. It is always great to be around the members, (especially when it is large groups of Argentines (they are all a little crazy so it gets pretty funny!)) but the spirit was definitely very strong in the meetings, and there was lots of talks on The Work of Salvation and how the members should be sharing the Gospel and helping the missionaries in the ways that they can. It is always a comforting things to us as missionaries, to get to listen to the local leaders and hear their goals and the things they want to accomplish, but more then anything to get to talk with members, and see the desire that they have to share the gospel! 

I have spent a lot of time thinking this week about how I could be a better missionary, my companion was sick for a few days, so I have had lots of time to study and think. And it wasn't until I was studying this morning in Alma in the Book of Mormon, and Alma talks about a mighty change of heart that everyone has to have. I grew up in the church, I had my struggles, but I never did anything to terrible, and honestly I guess I always thought that this ¨mighty change of heart¨ was only for the people who do things really bad, and then repent and feel better. Well it was this morning that it hit me, that each of us have to have a mighty change of heart. For some people they have to do crazy repentance, and for others (like me in this case) we have to change our heart in the aspect that we give it to the Lord. We have to change the way we think, to not do what we want, or what we think is best, but to do what the Lord wants, and what he knows is best for us. It isn´t an easy thing to do, it is a constant struggle that we all should be in, but it also isn´t impossible, I think the hardest part is breaking the selfishness, some of the stubbornnessthat is inside of us, and just putting our trust in the Lord! 

Hope all is well at home, and I really hope that everyone can take a minute and just enjoy what life has given us. We were never told this life would be easy, we were just told that it would be worth it! :) Que tengan una  buena semana amigos!! 

Elder Hall 

 After Stake Conference, all of us missionaries with Hermano y Hermana Paez and their daughter Etelvina (she is headed to Chile in a week for her mission!) And on the far right is Lucia Garcia who has sent her papers in, and is waiting for her mission call! 

 Facundo (Our Branch Mission Leader) had his birthday party yesterday! Asado time! 

It was Pday what can we say! haha 

Hola Muchachos Mios! :)

(email from 3/10/14)

Buen Dia Muchachos Mios! 

I hope that everyone has had a good week! And was able to take something, from last weeks, Batman and the Book of Mormon. I really do try to put meaningful things in all my letters, and usually about Saturday night, I start thinking a little bit here and there, about what message I want to share with my friends and family. So these aren't just letters I whip up out of nowhere! :) 

This week had a good week, with good weather! We worked hard, and really enjoyed ourselves! On Thursday we had a Zone Conference, which are always fun, and are great experiences. Some companionships are assigned to  teach on subjects, the Assistants to the Mission President always teach, and of course Presidente and Hermana Thurgoode spoke and taught! It is always a neat experience to get to have thirty missionaries in a room together learning from one another, and just to feel of the spirit that was there! 

We are still teaching Emilio and his wife Sara, and I will be honest I don´t know if the Lord put them in our path so that we could learn from them, or so they could learn from us. We had a lesson with them that was very spiritual, they were talking about how worried they were about things going on in their lives, and just telling us alot of different things. Well I shared a scripture from the Book of Mormon that talks about if we have faith in the Lord, we can have a firm hope for a better world, and then Elder De Loayza and I bore our testimonies of God´s plan for each one of us. As I bore my testimony, I got pretty choked up (Which rarely happens in lessons) and I shared that as missionaries, when our investigators talk of their sufferings, that we as missionaries can feel that spirit, and that we feel a bit of that suffering, that when they have joy, and share it with us, we can feel of the true happiness they have. It was something that I never had thought about until I was in the moment and the words were coming out of my mouth! So not only did I learn this lesson, but I was actually learning lessons for myself thru the spirit. 

It was a very neat experience, and it makes me want to be a more obedient missionary, to give all that I have to the Lord, and just to be the best missionary I can be. And I will be honest, I have days when I struggle, when I am selfish and stubborn, but I know that as I continue to do what the Lord asks, and keep with this process of changing and becoming better, the Lord will help me, and hopefully before the short year and half that I have left is over, I will become the missionary, that I and the Lord want me to be. 

When we fall, He is always there to dust us off, when we don´t want to walk any farther, He is there to carry us, when we have done all we can do, and we still fall short, He is there to make up the difference. How lucky we are to have a Lord and Savior as merciful and loving as Jesus Christ. Words can not express how grateful I am to be here in Argentina to spread my Savior´s love to the people here. I love you all, and pray for you guys everyday. May the Lord continue to bless us all as we continue on striving to be our best! Talk to you all soon! 

Elder Hall     

¡6 Meses en La Misión!

(email from 3/3/14)

Buenos Dias Amigos y Familia,

6 meses en la misión, como podría ser 6 meses!! I gotta say after 6 months of being in the mission this week, I am pretty dang happy. The first few months I was a little unsure of 2 years, it just seemed like such a long time, but I really am to the point that I just love it. I love getting to serve the Lord everyday, I love getting to talk with new people (even though we come across some locos!), and I have hit the point that I just love the mission in general. Yes of course, I have my days, like everyone when I am tired, when I don´t feel the greatest, or even just days that kinda suck. But I think one of the big lessons the mission teaches people, is how to overcome those days. How to overcome the hard times, and just to enjoy the lives that we have. 

A lesson that Elder De Loayza and I learned this week, was from our investigator Emilio. Emilio has not had a easy life by any means, his life has kinda been like a movie, but especially within the last few months he has had lots of personal trials. But then he found an evangelical church who supported him, and he quit drinking alcohol, and then a month after this we arrived on his doorstep. And I can´t believe the change we have seen in him, and the change he says he has experienced. The lesson though that we have learned from him is that the adversary is always going to be strongest right before something good happens. There is two quotes I have to go along with this topic, one is from Batman, and the other from the Book of Mormon, and they compliment this topic quite well! haha 

From The Book of Mormon:

Ether 12:15
 And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; would show unto the would that afaith is  things which are bhoped for and cnot seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no dwitness until after the trial of your faith.

From Batman
     ¨The NIght is always darkest, before dawn¨

Now in Batman they might not have been quoting a scripture about Faith, but we can easily relate the two, that Satan is going to do all he can to tempt us, right before something good or spiritual is going to happen in our lives, to try and prevent this from happening. The prophet Moroni in the Book of Mormon talks about how we don´t receive a witness (of good things) until after the trial of our faith, The lesson that we can learn from these things is that we need should never give up, that no matter how ¨dark¨our nights are, or how tough of a ¨trial of our faith¨ we have to keep pressing on. I know that the Lord will bless each of us, with the strength we need as we continue to strive to do what is right. If there is something in  your life that you are tired of, and want to  change, fix it. Don´t waste time with things that make you miserable, if you made a mistake, fix it, if you need to repent, repent. Don´t let Satan hold you down, under his guilt and misery, the path of our Father in Heaven is much better, and I can promise much happier. 

I love you all, and you are all in my thoughts and prayers. Keep the faith.

Elder Hall