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

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Provo MTC: First Pictures Home :)

Spencer didn't have a lot to say in his emails this week, but he included pictures of his district:
Spencer and his companion, Elder Asplund

MTC District

I'm noticing that a couple of elders don't have pockets to hang their name tags on.  Some of you know that we panicked after searching for just the right shirts (i.e. shirts that Spencer liked), found them just before sending Spencer to the MTC and then realizing they had no pockets. Thankfully they have the magnet tags!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

MTC: Always Busy

Excerpts from emails sent home.

To Greg:

Hey Dad! I miss you a lot.  I remembered today when said a few weeks ago that I would miss whatever goofy thing I had just rolled my eyes about.  I really do miss you.  Thanks for your example to me, Mom, and the rest of the kids.  I'm not sure if the talks given at the MTC are published or what.  I would just google it since your'e allowed to do that back in St. George.  Also I know you know the story and video of the current bush, but I felt impressed to ask the family to watch it with new eyes and really try to get something out of it through the Spirit one more time.  I've seen it three times since arriving here.  A thought that came to my mind after watching it was that we aren't always cut down like the bush until we allow ourselves to be.  We taught a member lesson to a woman from Buenos Aires and it was much different than anything I've heard here haha.  It will take some adjusting once I get out in the field.  I really hope I have a good trainer.  We have two teachers who we meet with regularly and there are a couple others that we see every now and then.   Both of our regular teachers teach very well and with the spirit.  The teacher who is with us the most is very happy and encouraging all the time.  Thanks to you, and the fact that our whole district is going to Argentina, she arranged for a teacher who went to Buenos Aires to come in and teach us about the accent and now we are all speaking with it, more or less. I love you Dad.  Also my companion Elder Asplund said that he knows an Elder in Cordoba and the old mission president allowed any uplifting music (including Disney songs).  Please be generous with the songs you put on haha.  I can always delete or simply not listen to a song if it ends up violating the rules.  Thanks so much for all you do.  Keep turning outward rather than inward.  That was the principal council given in the devotional I recommended.  Study Christ in the New Testament and look for the ways he reacts to different situations, like when he healed the guard's ear that Peter cut off after. Pray and read the scriptures.  Also I realized that my patriarchal blessing says that I will come forth on the morning of the first resurrection as long as I am true and faithful.  This is the same wording that Brother Tucker gave to me.  He said to be faithful to my wife and true to my children.  Thanks for your continual support and example.

To Mom:

Hi Mom!  I miss you guys more than I ever thought I would.  Also thank you so much for the package and note.  It was really nice for me to see something from home.  The hardest thing about the MTC is that I never get a second to breathe.  Even on P-day I have to be hurrying from one thing to the next or it won't all get done.  Despite my hard work, I still don't usually get done with all of the work and pre-class work they give us because nearly every second of every day is filled with one thing or another.  I would stay up to do it, but that's not allowed either haha.  I'm enjoying it though...

My testimony of the Book of Mormon and the temple and missionary work are all increasing.  My companion [and I] are complete opposites.  He has five older sister and one brother who are out of the house and one younger sister still with him and his parents.  His favorite artist is Taylor Swift and he couldn't believe that I couldn't come up with a single One Direction song that I liked.  I'm still adjusting to being with someone every minute of every day.  I'm not even going to do this with my wife haha...I understand that I can be pretty stubborn when I think I am right so I try to back off when I sense an unimportant disagreement coming on.  I'm also going to try to pay more attention to helping him learn Spanish rather than worrying so much about myself.  I appreciate your letters.  I've been thinking about both sets of grandparents and I'd like to think that they are urging me on as well.  Please keep sending anything you feel prompted to share with me.  I love you and Dad so much.  Thank you for getting me to where I am as a person.  I pray that our family will grow closer and closer every night.

There is a website called Dear Elder that can get me any letter you want to send within a day.  I'm not 100% sure how it works but I'm pretty sure it's free and you just type it up on the website, submit it, and they deliver it to me on paper the next day.  That would be helpful for long letters or talks or anecdotes because I have a very limited time to email and reading may or may not count towards that time depending on whether you ask me or my companion haha.  His name is Elder Asplund.  If you guys want to pray for him you can.  I love you Mom.

To Matthew:

It sounds like you're having a fun time in school Matthew! That makes me so happy.  Keep working hard.  Always remember to be nice to Anna and Will and listen to Mom and Dad.  Give lots of hugs! I love you bud



Sunday, August 14, 2016

Provo MTC: First email home

Elder Spencer Walker entered the Provo MTC on August 3, 2016. Here are a few excerpts from the emails he sent home on his first preparation day.

To Greg:

The MTC is pretty fantastic so far.  I was very worried that either my companion or my district or both would be deadbeats, but they are all pretty committed to being obedient and working hard.  I have appreciated your counsel to remember to have fun.  I'm putting everything I have into studying the language and furthering my conversion, so it's good to have that reminder in my head to not run myself to death.  My companion is from Vista, California and he is a pretty cool guy, although we are not very much alike.  He's had a bunch of sisters and one(or two) brothers but I can definitely see the influence of the sisters on his personality.  I've rapidly progressed so far.  It's really cool.  I wrote in my journal that my biggest problems one day are non-existent the next.  My testimony of sincere, earnest, and diligent prayer is increasing.  I taught everyone in my district about the pronunciation of the double L in Argentina and our teacher appreciated the reminder.  She probably isn't used to teaching that specific way because usually the missionaries in a district are going to several different countries.  Thanks for your example Dad.  Life isn't easy, and I've appreciated watching you and Mom work so hard for us.  My main goal right now is to convert myself to Christ more fully by not worrying about me.  I would highly recommend a talk Elder Bednar gave in the MTC called Characters of Christ...

El Segundo(?) Elder Walker

To Mary Anne:

I have about 7 minutes left to email so I will try to get as much as possible.  I figured you and Dad read each others emails anyway so please read his to find out stuff about the district and such.  The other Elders and the two Hermanas in my district are pleasant to be around and can be pretty funny...

I miss you more and more each day, although I know that I'm doing what is right.  The talk I recommended to Dad in my letter to him is one I recommend for everyone.  It is helping my conversion toward Christ immensely.  Please let the family know I love them.

To Matthew:

Hi Matthew! I miss you so much!  Are you excited for school to start? I bet you'll learn lots of cool things! You can learn to read too! I can't wait to be able to read scriptures with you when we get back! Remember that if you are nice to everyone our family will be happier.  I love you Matthew!

Elder Walker

Monday, August 1, 2016

The day before...

Family pic (minus Tommy)

Shiny New Shoes - we'll see what they look like post-mission