Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Cordoba: Life in the Mission Office

Hey Mom!  I´m glad to hear you are well.

To be honest, I´m not really sure if the changes in missionary schedule is affecting much because in the office we hardly have a set schedule.  The other day we had to travel to one of the central bus terminals to buy a trip for some of the zone leaders who had already wasted all of their money to come to a conference.  They didn't tell us until the night before, so we had to leave the office almost at midnight.  We got back around 2 and got up at 6 to get everything ready for the conference.  Last night we had to stay up with some missionaries who were waiting in the office because the bus to their area didn´t leave until midnight. Things like that happen often enough that the schedule changes haven´t made much of a difference for us yet.  That´s awesome that Matthew is still so excited and participating in church...

How is Will? He hasn´t written in a while.  Thanks for the advice with the importance of the Book of Mormon! I´ve been reading Jesus the Christ quite a bit, but I need to refocus some of my time on the Book of Mormon. The time is flying(at least on my end).  I´ll try to attach some photos of the last few weeks.  It´s exactly like you said about how it was for you guys when you were in the office.  We don´t have as much time to work, but we are see miracles in the lives of the people and in finding people who have definitely been prepared.  It´s awesome.  I´ll try to attach some photos and give explanations below

1. German is a kid(who actually is a few months older than me)who was already ready for baptism when I arrived here in the office.  The other elders taught and baptized his four friends a few months before and all of them are still coming to the church.  They are more active than most members.  They´ve already gone to the temple to do baptisms and those who were old enough went to efy last week.  German is super excited to serve a mission.  He read everything we every gave him and is almost halfway through the Book of Mormon.

2. We were able to find help Cristian prepare for baptism in the last few weeks.  He´s 42 and his mom Graciela got baptized when she was 16 but has been inactive ever since.  She was thrilled to see us when we first clapped outside her house.  She helped get her son excited and he has since quit smoking and is learning to read better so he can understand the Book of Mormon better.  He asked us for a hymnal because he really likes the music at church.  The other guy on the right is named Nahuel. We were teaching Cristian and Graciela one night and were about to leave when Nahuel arrived.  He´s 17 and teaches high school at night for adults who never finished.  He was passing by to help Cristian write some songs.  We´ve been teaching him and he has told us that every time we teach the things we say deeply touch his heart.  He told us that he´s receiving answers to questions that he has had for years and that he feels like he is finally finding what he has been looking for.  He also has plans to be baptized in the coming weeks.

3. Elder Sullivan and I on top of the 3000 Book of Mormons that arrived after a misunderstanding with the offices in Salt Lake haha.

I love you Mom.  Know that you guys are in my prayers. Have a great week:)

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

La Calera: Thanksgiving #1

Another great week! It sounds like everyone had a nice Thanksgiving! Nobody here celebrates it, so for me it was just another day in the mission haha. We did have the Christmas Conference for all the missionaries. There was a talent show that was actually pretty cool and the mission President Correa and his wife gifted everyone a pillow (very few of the missionaries had pillows and the apartments don´t have anything haha) and some candy. It was cool to see some of the missionaries from my MTC district as well. Elder Ponce did hilarious impressions of various missionaries and even the President to pass the time between acts. There was also a choir and Christmas devotional that some of the missionaries put on for the public and for the rest of the missionaries. It definitely doesn´t feel like Christmas at all because the weather here is opposite the weather in the states. I most definitely will not be walking in a winter wonderland this Christmas haha. Always remember the counsel we receive in Alma 37:6 that it is by small and simple things that great things are brought to pass. I encourage all of you to put in the effort to prayerfully search the scriptures, asking our Heavenly Father for strength and direction each and every day. The difference a few minutes devoted to God can make in a day is incredible. We have a Heavenly Father who knows us completely--inside and out. He knows exactly what we need to be safe and happy, but rarely will He give us directions that we don´t ask for. Thanks for the support everyone! I´ll write more next week. Love you guys! Elder Walker

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

La Calera: The World is a Small Place

This week was a little less eventful than most, so I won´t be writing a lot!

 The highlights: A girl named Brisa that we have been teaching read and prayed about the Book of Mormon and told us that she received the answer that it is true and this Gospel is the path that God wants for her.

 We went to the Temple in Córdoba for Pday and I happened to run into two senior missionaries(the Talbots) who worked with Tommy(my brother) in the mission office in Antofogasta for several months! They are traveling to the different area where their children served before returning to the States at the end of this transfer with Tommy.

 In the world we live in today, there are many distractions. Even in the mission, it´s suprisingly easy to forget to focus my thoughts and attention on the Gospel. In 1 Nephi 16:28 we are told that the Liahona which guided Nephi´s family only worked "according to the faith, diligence, and heed" which they gave to it´s directions. In my experience, they Holy Ghost works similarly. In order to receive all of the blessing and guidance that our Heavenly Father wants for us, we need to exercise faith, be diligent in our searching for His guidance, and be willing and ready to act when we receive it. Life isn´t easy, but it was never Heavenly Father´s plan for life to be miserable. In 2 Nephi 2:27 we learn that as children of God we exist to have joy. He is ready and willing to guide us in every moment through the trials of life. We have but to humble ourselves, listen, and obey.

 Thanks as always for the support! I can´t wait to see you all again!

 Elder Walker

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

La Calera: Blessings

This week was yet another filled with learning experiences and miracles.  We were able to baptize a man named Ruben and his two daughters last Saturday and they were confirmed the following Sunday.  A bunch of the members in the branch were able to attend the baptismal service and support.

One of the nights last week we were buying some empanadas before returning to the pension for the night and we heard a crash out in the street.  A dude had crashed his motorcycle and was rolling around moaning and bleeding a ton.  A crowd quickly gathered and we ran over and administered a priesthood blessing, though we couldn´t get him to tell us his name.

I miss all of you guys a ton, but there´s no doubt in my mind that I need to be here.  The knowledge that we have as a result of our membership in this church is incredible.  We know that we have a Heavenly Father who loves us--who rejoices when we rejoice and weeps when we suffer, who listens when we pray wants us to have every blessing that we need in this life to overcome our personal trials.  We know that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can be completely cleansed and healed of our past errors and sins, that we have a system of immediate support that is only a humble prayer´s distance from us at any given time.  We know that families are forever.  The majority of God´s children do not have these precious truths. Each of us has a duty to share the Gospel, but it starts with our personal conversion and testimony.  I invite all of you to do the things that you need to do to strengthen your relationship with our Heavenly Father and your testimony of the Savior.  This Gospel is real.  I realize now how incredible it is that I forgot so often the importance of these things before I had the opportunity to immerse myself in the experience of the mission life.  The Gospel is the way to live in happiness in this life and to prepare to live with God and our families forever. I invite you all to take the steps of faith and put forth as much effort as you can to live this Gospel--it is the best thing you can do to overcome your problems, no matter what they are.  I love you guys so much! I´ll write more next week!

Elder Walker

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

La Calera: Rapidly Adapting to Argentina

Hi everyone! This is the first email that I have written as a group email. Sorry If you´ve been waiting to hear from me and haven´t yet! I don´t usually have very much time to write, but I´ll try to give short updates in the future.  I think I´m almost used to living in Argentina haha.  I can understand almost all of what the people are saying around me most of the time and I am close to being able to teach the lessons in Preach My Gospel.  The people are generally very friendly and it´s not too hard to contact in the street or on the bus or wherever haha.  Something important that I learned about missionary work in the last week is that I can share my testimony with our investigators, but I can´t give them the testimony that I have; my objective is to invite them to begin to develop faith unto repentance and baptism--to come unto Christ.  This is important because before I realized this, I felt as though we were hustling these people toward baptism without fully helping them to convert to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I now realize that when they are attending church and reading the Book of Mormon and praying they are demonstrating their own personal conversion.  It´s possible that they won´t have the same convinction about the same doctrines of the Gospel that I have, but I realized that this is okay.  I´ve had 18+ years to develop a testimony of many different aspects of this Gospel.We are all in different places in our personal conversion to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It´s possible to have a spiritual experience as a result of the testimony of another, but we truly develop a testimony of our own when we put forth the effort in diligence and determination to learn, change, and show Heavenly Father that we are ready to receive further light.  I´ve experienced a lot of personal spiritual growth as well since starting the mission as a result of the difficulties that missionary life presents.  I invite all of you, no matter where you are in your personal conversion, to put forth the extra effort to strengthen your relationship with Heavenly Father and your testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ.  Read the Book of Mormon every day, pray with all of the energy of your heart and mind, and truly believe that Heavenly Father is listening and will help you.  Always remember to turn outwards in service and charity of others.  I promise that forgetting yourself is the best way to experience true joy despite the trials and difficulties that each of us has.  I invite you to read Helaman 5:12,  ponder on the message it contains, and pray with all your heart to feel the support that Heavenly Father is giving you in your daily life. This Gospel is the way that Heavenly Father has told us with which we can obtain peace and joy in this life and in eternity, but we have to personally choose to believe and live each and every part of the Gospel before we can receive that spiritual knowledge that it is true.  Thanks so much for the support you all give me! There should be some photos attatched from our visit to Carlos Paz.  Sorry if I can´t write personally to all of you this week, we had less time than usual.  Love you guys! I´ll write more next week!Elder Walker

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

La Calera: A Little Culture Shock

Elder Ulgade (trainer) and Elder Walker
To Greg:

Thank you so much Dad.  I don´t have hardly any time to write, but I love you and miss you more than I ever thought I could.  I had no idea this place was so different from the U.S.  I am currently in La Calera and my comp is great.  I´ve been a little discouraged because I lack patience, but I know that all will be well with God´s help. Sorry it´s so short, but I don´t have more time.  Pritty Limon is still around a big haha! I´ll attach some pictures. I´m definitely experiencing some culture shock and I miss you guys so much. When we went to the only Walmart in Cordoba today I almost started crying because it was the first thing that had any resemblence to the things I know and love.  I´ll write more next week. Thank you so much for your example to me and the rest of the family.  I hope you and Mom are keeping the compromiso I gave you to read the Book of Mormon every day for at least 15 minutes with a prayer sandwich haha.  Gracias por todo

Elder Walker

To Mary Anne:

Hi mom:) I miss you guys so much. This place is crazy haha.  I had no idea the Unites States were so nice.  There´s definitely culture shock.  The first few days were very hard, but it´s starting to get better.  We can´t seem to hit our goals, but we get closer every day.  I have an everlasting headache because I am always trying to understand everything, and we walk so far every day.  probably half of our teaching time during the day is spent walking to appointments or the homes of less active members.  If we had bikes it would be easier, but oh well haha.  My comp´s name is Elder Ugalde.  He is from Costa Rica and converted to the church a year before he began is mission a year ago.  He is a super cool guy and he knows a little bit of English, so he helps me out a lot.  Right now I´m trying to be patient.  I´m not sure how to cultivate the faith that will allow us to change the world, and that is what I want to do. The only investigator we´ve found so far who is really really interested is a woman named Gloria.  We walked past her and the image from an anime I saw of a little girl carrying a hurt boy on her shoulders came into my mind (which is the same image I received in the MTC when I felt God´s love more than ever before in a sacrament meeting) and I felt that I should say something but I didn´t.  About 50 meters past her, I decided to say something to my comp Elder Ugalde and he told me to run back for her. I did and now she is our best investigator. Turns out she has some kind of minor mental problem, so I feel a little weird counting it a baptism and such, but I suppose she is a daughter of God just the same.   I´m running out of time so I can´t write much more until next Tuesday around the same time.  Please share this with Dad as well in case I can´t write a long one for him.  I´m so glad your job is going well and that you were able to spend some time with Jenny...

I know that what I´m doing is the right thing, no matter how hard it is.  I hope you and Dad are completing the challenge I gave to you to read the Book of Mormon every day for at least 15 minutes with the prayer sandwich haha. I love you mom. Thank you for helping me become the person I am today.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Cordoba: On a New Continent

We haven't heard directly from Spencer, but here is a short a message from his mission president and wife.

Dear Parents,

            We are pleased to inform you that your son has arrived to the Argentina Córdoba Mission perfectly well.  We received him in the airport and we came directly to the mission home where we had a welcome meeting and a traditional dinner for this area.  They will spend this night in a nice hotel and that is close to our home.  Tomorrow he will meet his companion and they will go to their area together. 

We are extremely grateful to receive a noble spirit like your son who is so consecrated to the Lord.  Thank you very much for all that you have done to prepare him.  We will take care of your son as if he were our own child.
President & Sister Correa