Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Man, I can´t believe another week has gone by. Do you all realize we´re almost in December? That is blowing my little mind. This week was pretty great. On Tuesday some of the zone and district leaders had a training meeting and I absolutely loved it. It was so great. President is an incredible teacher. He talked a lot about the responsibilities of a district leader and basically just all of the things we need to do. I learned a lot about the importance of the small things we sometimes don´t pay very much attention too. They also introduced a new retention program that comes from the area 70 so we´re excited to get that going because there are sooo many inactive members. When Elder Aidukatis came he mentioned helping the church actually grow, not just increase our numbers. This retention program is focused on the missionaries teaching the new converts the lessons again, after their baptism. So hopefully that´s going to start making a difference of the people who get baptised and stay active in the church. They also introduced a 5-5-5 program where the ward focuses on 15 families who are inactive and tries to help them by asking them if they´ll listen to the missionaries. If they say yes, we go by and start teaching them everything all over again and try to get references from them. And once they´re active we move our focus to another family. Elder Ostler and I are working really hard to get the ward to have ward council because apparently (and this happens with various wards) they haven´t had it for months, if not a whole year. We´ve got an awesome bishop though and we´re excited to start making a bigger change in the ward. It seems like there are not very many people who do their home teaching, which puts a lot of work on us because we have to find new people who want to listen and try getting less active members to come. But, we´re excited to change some stuff.

Soooo one of the things I´m grateful for this week is that we got to eat at an American´s house with american food. It´s a super odd story but this guy named Leo who is from Argentina, lived for a long time in the states. He met this girl but then got deported. She followed him down here, and they got married. He got baptised like a year ago. Now they´re kinda stuck here waiting for a bunch of paper work because they want to live in the states. Anyway, she made us tacos, complete with way awesome state seasoning and ranch dressing. For dessert we had chocolate chip cookies and milk. Of the course the milk still tasted kinda weird but the cookies were like gold, if you could eat gold and it tasted good.

Carmen has been doing great. On Monday and Tuesday we went by her house and helped her daughter Florencia study for English test. We also started teaching Carmen lesson 5 (which you teach after baptism) and she said she really wants to be a visiting teacher and bring all the inactives back to church. I wish all members could have that kind of enthusiasm. She´s just awesome. We haven´t had a ton of time to teach Florencia very much but she committed to read part of the book of mormon. We tried going by yesterday but neither of them were there. She should be done with tests though so we´re hoping to find more time to teach her. The only thing preventing her from coming to church is her work schedule so we´re going to talk to her about trying to always get Sundays off so she can go.

Adriana is doing alright. She says she doesn´t want to change religions but at the same time has told us that she thinks that Book of Mormon is true and that Joseph Smith was a prophet, but we think she´s saying more logically than spiritually and we´re trying to get her focused on reading the book of mormon and asking for an answer. We think she´s pretty afraid of the change and she´s not very social to begin with so it would be a lot new things in her life but we explained to her that everything depends on if the book of mormon is from god or isn´t.

Oh! Last of all, we celebrated Thanksgiving today!! You won´t believe this, Sister Packer cooked a turkey for us. And stuffing. Oh. My. Papercup. It was incredible. We walked into the offices and the most delicious smell of cooked turkey loomed into my nostrils. I can´t believe how lucky I got to be here during thanksgiving. Especially since turkeys are hard to find, I highly doubt any other group of missionaries celebrated like that. Did I mention she made pumpkin pie too? I am currently experiencing that wonderfully horrible sensation that comes after eating more delicious food than my stomach has space to hold. However, I didn´t get my yearly dose of American Football I guess I´ll just have to wait til next year..when I´ll beat dad..

Welp, I think that about wraps it up for me!

With all the love of Columbus,

Elder Lounsbury

Monday, November 21, 2011

Planning and other fun activities

Well, this was week was alright I guess...nothing big happened.....except Carmen got baptised!!!!!!!!!!!!! So pretty much this week was amazing. It was such a cool baptism. She just wanted a small meeting with a friend, her daughter us and a priesthood member from the ward but it was just fantastic. We watched the Restoration right after and I felt the spirit way strong. Then we sung a couple songs and you could tell Carmen was just loving it. None of us wanted to leave haha. We sat around for a little bit with a couple of the other Elders and just talked and laughed and it was just great. We´re super hoping her daughter felt something different and that we can start working with her. This next week we´re going to be going by Carmen to re-teach her the lessons so we´re hoping we can invite Florencia (the daughter) to listen to those when we´re there. We´ve gotten to know her pretty well so hopefully she feels comfortable around us because at first she seemed really timid. But she is super pure and already lives all of the standards and we feel like all she needs a testimony of the Restoration and she´ll be set. We´re going to help her study on monday and tuesday for her english exam on wednesday and then throw in some lessons after the english haha.

We´ve been as busy as walruses and time and just been flying by. I think part of the reason this week has been so cool is because we´re planning wayyyyy better. When Elder Aidukatis came he taught us a ton about planning. Before we´d take maybe two hours to plan and we´d only talk about what we wanted to teach the people or what we needed to do to help them but since he came it´s been completely different. Now we do everything we did before but instead of vague ideas and goals we want to reach, we write appointments in pencil for the whole week and lesson plans on what we want to teach for every investigator we have. Then we go back and make plans for every investigator AGAIN but this time focusing on how we can help them get to church. Basically by the end of our planning we have our whole week filled out with appointments and back ups. We probably spent about 8 hours in total doing our weekly planning last week. But that´s because we´re not very used to it. Hopefully we can get it down to 5 or 6. Then for our daily planning we go over the plans we´ve made and try to solidify them. We probably have around 10 phone calls to make every night now to confirm appointments and try to schedule times when members can go with us to teach. And all of those are on a check list we make during weekly planning. It´s super opened up my eyes to how powerful this stuff is. When Elder Aidukatis talked about it when he came he said that if we don´t plan we´ll only be the outcome of circumstance. And who wants to be that? We´re loving this new way of working and I´m super excited when I get home to use it and conquer the world!

I´m trying to think of other delightful things that happened this week. Oh yeah, I´m a year old now! Elder Oster and Elder Christensen bought me 12 alfajores (for 12 months) and 12 snickers because they know how much I love them. So that was a fun little way to celebrate. I don´t feel a ton different but it is a little strange to think it´s been a whole year since i was a little baby crawling into the MTC and trying to figure out what was going on haha. Everyone says the second year just flies by so I´m stoked to make the best of it.

Welp, that´s about all I can think of.

With all of the love of a yellow submarine,

Elder Lounsbury

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Viento Zonda

Hello from Mendoza!!!!!!!!!!

I hope you all are just doing spaztastic. I sure know I am.

To start off, this week was crazy. And I loved it. On Tuesday there was a Viento (wind) Zonda (pronounced sone-da) which is basically the name of these giant wind storms that Mendoza gets a lot. A member explained it to me a while ago so I´ll try to do the best to explain it to you all. Basically what happens is as air travels over the mountains that border Argentina and Chile it drops precipitation and by the time it reaches the top it´s super dry. Then it starts going down the other side really fast causing friction with the mountain side that creates some kinda energy in the air (it´s supposedly also called the witch´s wind because apparently a lot of people get agitated or sick when this happens). Usually there´s just a lot of dust and there will be a surprisingly warmer air flow (in the winter or fall for example) and that´s how people know it´s a Viento Zonda. But a couple times a year the viento zonda comes with super-extra-duper strong winds. We were teaching in the house of an investigator (lucky, because it would have been horrible to be outside) when the wind really started to pick up. By the time we left it was pretty much over but the damage was incredible. Full grown 25-30 foot trees were literally blown down. Some smaller trees were split in half and the majority were missing branches. There were leaves everywhere. You can imagine the mess it was for power and phone lines.. I wish I had better pictures but I only had my camera after the fact so I only have one decent one, and it doesn´t do the situation justice at all. It blew my mind (ha, get it) to see how wind could do so much damage. Me and my comp made a nerdy scripture comparison about how we need to have deeper roots like the trees that didn´t get blown over. It was great fun.

Also, this week we took a weekend trip (since we have P-days on Saturdays now) to this man made lake in the mountains. One of our investigators wanted to go and to try and make our friendship better we decided why not. Just so you know a little about her, her name is Adriana, she´s about 45 years old, she´s in love with her two dogs, listens to and knows how to play a couple songs by the beatles, was a literature professor andddd is a terrible driver. Haha. We got permission from President to leave our area go with her and a priest in our ward who is about to go on a mission. To be honest the lake wasn´t that great, I mean it was all lakes...but the surroundings were more mountainous and dead-looking like Arizona and the super boring parts of Idaho you drive through to get to Utah. Not exactly the luscious green Oregon forests I love so much. But, it was definitely an adventure. At one point she pulled out in front of a Semi coming down a hill and then didn´t really speed up at all to account for it. He ended up passing us on a double yellow line. I´m grateful to still be alive and do not plan on driving with her again haha. The good news is after telling us she didn´t want to come to church or listen to us much anymore, she came to all three hours and loved it. We´re being super persistent with her so hopefully something will come of it.

While we´re on the topic of investigators, I should probably tell you we plan on baptising a lady named Carmen next Saturday! We´re super excited. It´s ironic because probably a little over a month ago I was supposed to give her a baptismal interview but her anti-mormon kids freaked out on her and sent her to Chile (that´s where´s she from). The funny thing that when she showed up the missionaries were teaching the family member she was going to stay with in Chile! Apparently he has completely changed his life (stopped smoking and doing drugs, leaving all his friends etc) and we don´t know what happened but when she came back from her trip she had changed. Before she was really afraid to be baptised and said she didn´t really have a testimony even though before she had said she knew it was true etc. And now she´s totally and completely committed. We´re way excited.

Going along with the theme of storms, Saturday night we were caught in a giant thunder storm. We were teaching this man named Jorge who we randomly contacted in the street this week. Turns out all of his family are members and that he already has a testimony of the book of mormon and Joseph Smith. He should be getting baptised the week after Carmen, if he´s not too good to be true (we still haven´t really found out why the heck he wasn´t baptised before). We walked all the way home in the pouring rain. It was delightful. Elder Ostler is from Washington so we both felt at home. Anyways, the point of the story is that we had invited Carmen´s daughter named Florencia to come to church the next day but she said she couldn´t because she works. BUT, apparently it rained so much that her boss called her and told her to come in late on Sunday, so we got a nice little surprise when she showed up at church with her mom. We have high hopes for her as well, we just gotta find a way to get her work off on Sundays.

Alright, the last couple bits about this week is that Hermana Packer (the nurse here) made rootbeer from extract and I had rootbeer and rootbeer floats. A sweet reunion was made between two long lost friends. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I had raw fish on Sunday. Apparently they put it in a ton of lemon juice to kill the bad stuff but that means it was just weird fish meat that tasted like lemon juice. Haha. But, it all adds to the experience.

With all the love of fish eyes,

Elder Lounsbury

Monday, November 7, 2011

5 transfers, 5 areas, 5 companions

Welp, the area bouncing continues once again for me. We kinda saw it coming because now that no one is training in the offices we´re down from 6 companions to 4 and therefore one companionship has to leave their area. So, now I´m with Elder Ostler in Godoy Cruz Centro. He is a really cool guy so I´m excited to be with him, hopefully we´ll learn a lot this transfer. It´s kinda strange because he´s the zone leader and I´m his companion but I´m still district leader. Which almost never happens but I guess the offices are just weird like that.

This last week was pretty busy. President is in Buenos Aires for almost all of this week for a Mission Presidents meeting so all of the stuff that was supposed to happen this week happened a week earlier. Tuesday we had consejo, Wednesday we had a Trainers meeting, Thursday there were oldies getting inteviews here before they went home, Friday they left and the new group came and then Saturday we had to get the new group set up with their binders and cards and copies of their passports and all the important stuff like that that they need. It was also the very beginning of the month which meant I spent most of my time making sure we had all of the baptismal registros in. This week is going to be a lot more tranquilo so I´m super excited for that.

In the offices there´s not a ton of new things. We´re in the middle of getting internet that is 10x as fast as what we have so that´ll be great because it´s terrible slow right now. We´re also trying to get everyone using the calendar in Microsoft Outlook because apparently up until now they´ve done all their calendar like planning in excel, which does not make any sense at all. We´re also trying to make sharing information easier with something called evernote. It´s cool because I can put my search program up (offically named Google Mendoza haha) and everyone in the office can always have access to an updated version. There´s smaller things like a daily balance of how much money all of the missionaries have that we used to print off and now we just stick it on evernote and can access it whenever people call.

Yesterday was a pretty eventful day. I went to church in San Ignacio where I got to see Matias get the priesthood and then bless the sacrament so that was way cool. He is such a stud it just blows my mind. He´s coming to all 3 hours of church now and I can tell he´s starting to feel more comfortable with everyone in the ward. It´s just awesome to see that. At night I worked a little bit in Godoy Cruz Centro, although it was somewhat disappointing because the baptism we apparently had lined up for this Saturday is encountering a lot of opposition from her husband who used to be an active member and now is completely anti. Her wife loved church and wants to get baptised but he´s let Satan completely win him over with lies. It was the first time in my mission I´ve come into contact with anti stuff, so it was an interesting experience but it´s just so sad coming from a returned missionary who once had a temple marriage.

On a more random note, as we were leaving we saw a car break down. We went over to see if they wanted us to push them and they said no, and then signalled for the truck behind to inch up until the truck´s front bumper was touching the car´s back bumper. On the green light the truck literally pushed the car until it could get enough speed to start on it´s own. It was so Argentine. Elder Ostler and I had a good laugh about it. Then later that night we had a car of guys drive by us staring yelling "BYU, BYU." We had no idea who they were or how they knew about BYU but I thought it was another weird Argentine experience that I´d share with you all.

Alright, I got one more. Elder Christensen and I just back from eating at this fancy restaurant downtown that had some of the most incredible steak I have had in my life. They practically gave us butter knives to cut with....and they worked just great. The meat was so good. Anyways, that´s not the story. The story is that on the desserts menu they had written "Hoe-made flan" (flan is like a bready pudding). haha. Definitely think they meant to say "home-made". I love english here.

Welp, I think that´s about all I got for this week.

With all the love of an Argentine steak,

Elder Lounsbury