Saturday, December 24, 2011

Feliz Navidad!

It´s the most wonderful time of the year! There will be fireworks lighting and BBQ cooking when loved ones are near!

Christmas here is way different. It doesn´t even really feel like Christmas. I think most of that was because it´s been mid 80s to mid 90s all week. There´s just something weird about a Christmas where it´s not cold or rainy haha. The big traditions here are to light fireworks, cook an asado (the BBQ here) and be with friends and family drinking all night. I´ve seen a couple Christmas trees in businesses (fake of course) and a couple small ones in houses and I think I remember one house that had lights. So that´s been a lot different too. No hot chocolate, no candy canes, no gingerbread houses, no sugar cookies, no eggnog, no warm fire or ugly Christmas sweaters; it´s just a complete different atmosphere. In one way it´s nice because obviously all of those things are not what Christmas is really about, but in another way it seems like tomorrow is going to feel just like any other day.

Even though caroling is pretty unheard of here, a group of us are going to go caroling tonight. We´re going to stop by a couple investigators and give them some gifts and then sing. I´m super excited. It´s gonna help with that whole trying to get it feeling like Christmas thing. We were invited to eat at President´s house tonight, so that´s going to be pretty incredible. Elder Resek (the member of the 70 who lives here in Mendoza) and his wife are going to be there, along with the mission presidency and their families, so things are going to be quite packed. But, it´s a pretty cool privilege that we get for working in the offices.

This week we had transfers so it´s been pretty busy. There´s always stuff to do when people come or go and on top of that we´re getting close to the end of the month so I´ve been plenty busy entering in baptismal registros. Since I´m starting my fourth transfer in the offices we thought I was going to start training a replacement but....I didn´t. I love the people I´m with and the progress I´ve seen as a missionary here but I´m also going to be ready when all I have to focus on is the missionary work. The strange thing is that Elder Oster did get a trainee. So we´re going to be in a three some for a transfer. I have mixed feelings about that, because sometimes those can feel awkward, but we´ll see how it goes. I´m guessing I´ll finally get my replacement next transfer but that´ll put us in another three some situation so it´s going to be weird to see what happens.

Like I said, I love the people I´m with. This week Elder Ostler and I have ran 32 kilometers. It´s been great. I´ve also starting trying to eat healthier, lately for breakfast I´ve been eating a fruit salad I made the day before. Elder Christensen has got us all committed to living healthier haha. I don´t know how he got me but now I´m kinda glad he did. It´s awesome because there´s a running path about half a block away from our apartment so it makes things sooo easy. I´m currently snacking on peanuts and raisons. It´s delightful.

Besides that this week has been pretty normal. Hopefully you´ll have lots of questions for me tomorrow when we SKYPE. I´m super stoked.

With all the love of a firework,

Elder Lounsbury

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Middle Distance Runner

Woah! How is everyone doing?? Things over here are just going great. It still blows my mind how fast weeks pass by, but here we are again.

So, remember last week (at least I think it was last week) I was telling you all about the new Bible Videos that the church has out? Have you watched them yet? We invited a couple investigators to watch the Christmas fireside (they played it a week later in our stake because the other week was stake conference). Anyways, the fireside is where they showed a little bit of the videos they´ve made and our investigators absolutely loved it. They both said it was their favorite part. And when we went by later one of them told us she wants to come to church. We hardly ever hear that, but it´s like music to the ears. Not junky radio music either, we´re talking Jonsi, Passion Pit and Tokyo Police Club kinda music here. Turns out those videos really work haha. I don´t know who´s in charge of them but if I could I´d give them a shout out and let them know what they did helped change and investigators attitude towards church. I can´t wait until they come out with more.

How is the Christmas season treating all of you? It just keeps getting warmer and warmer down here but we´re loving it. Christmas time also means Christmas packages, and when there´s almost two hundred missionaries receiving those packages you gotta get a little extra help to pick it up. The senior missionary and Elder Falcon are usually in charge of getting the mission´s mail every Tuesday, but since we´ve been getting like 30 or 40 packages at a time they´ve called in for backup. So the last couple weeks Elder Ostler and I have gone with them to help carry everything. Since we´re getting close to Christmas and we stuff all of the mail into a bag that looks similar to that of Santa Claus, we thought we´d play the part. We put on a couple of the Santa Claus hats and gave M&Ms to the workers there haha. I wish you could have seen me crossing a major street in downtown Mendoza with a giant back of mail on my back and a bright red Santa Claus hat on my head. The picture I sent has us holding the packages that came that week, but in the past we´ve gotten way more than that. (From left to right it´s Elder Packer, Elder Falcon, Myself and Elder Ostler).

The title of the email has to do with some goals we´ve made this last week. We basically all want to get into incredible shape and have bulging 8 packs haha. So, I set the goal to run at least four times every week and to cut down on some of the sweets. Usually in the morning we run about 2.2 miles, but since today was P-day and we had more time we ran 5. On the 30th we´re making plans to run like 9. I was dying at the end of the run today so I don´t know how I´m going to survive that run but it´ll be fun and rewarding....after it´s over. Elder Ostler and I have adopted the phrase, "our future wives are going to love us." haha. It definitely helps with the motivation factor.

We had interviews this week which was really cool. It was my first with President Avila because the last time things got hectic and we just never got around to it. He is such an inspired man though. It´s really a privilege to have a mission president like him. I also found out that I will be getting an Argentine driver license. I am stoked out of my brains. It is going to be so legit. I mean how many people get to do that?

And lastly, but not, I get to skype you guys!!!!!! We found out a couple days ago that the Area Presidency had approved it, so we´re all pretty excited about that. Church is only an hour long so I´ll be ready anywhere after like 10:30 my time. You just give me the word and I´ll be on. If you want to look for me use my mission email.

I hope you´re all enjoying this holiday season. Don´t forget about Christ!

With all the love of an Argentina asado, (which I am going to go eat right now)

Elder Lousnbury

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Driving Privileges

Well, this week was crazy. End of the month registros were insane as normal. I found out two days before they were all due that we were missing two more but didn´t know who they were or what area they came from so I had to go through all of the zone numbers of the month and figure out what I had recorded and what they had recorded and find the difference. Needless to say, it was a mess. But in the end I got it all figured out and everyone can rest happy. We´ve also started this new retention program and I had to fill out on these excel sheets whether or not a convert was going to church and if they had the 5 lessons taught to them after their baptism. And I had to do that for every convert in the mission over the past two years. So that was also a blast. But it´s good that we´re starting to work towards better retention because the retention here is horrible. There were a couple barrios where none of the converts in the past two years were actually going to church. Typing in all of those number really gives you a unique perspective on how strong the wards are here. Some wards had almost all of their converts coming and others had hardly any.

I got to drive in Argentina this week. The mission just traded out their old minivan for a newer one, the problem is that this newer one is stick. And Elder Ostler, who drives the car a lot to do errands and renew visas, didn´t know how to drive stick. So, on Thursday we had to drop some packages off at a nearby stake center where president was doing interviews and since we had just gotten the car the day before and Elder Ostler didn´t know how to drive...I got to drive it. It was so legit. I felt like a boss driving stick again. After that we had to drop some stuff off at a pench and then I taught him how to drive. It was pretty cool. Although I kinda wish he didn´t learn because it would have meant I get to drive more...but that´s alright haha. It was a pretty cool experience igual.

Yesterday night the Ward had a really cool Christmas Party. It was slightly unplanned (I spent a good half an hour trying to help them hook up a computer to the projector in the cultural hall) but a lot of people came and we had 4 non-members and a couple less active members come so it was great for us. Ward activities are the perfect time to invite friend because it´s a little more casual than church and they have better opportunities of getting to know everyone else and feeling comfortable. We watched the movie Joy to The World which has clips of the savoir ´s life while the Mormon Tabernacle Choir signs Christmas carols in the background. It´s a way cool movie.

Speaking of cool church movies, we got an email from the distribution center that I read about the new Bible Videos website the church is in the process of making and watched a couple and they are absolutely incredible. Right now there´s only 6 focusing on the birth of Jesus but they´re going to add videos gradually until there´s around 100. If you haven´t seen any of them you have to watch it. Now.

This week has been bitter sweet with Adriana. She is just so stubborn and doesn´t want to change because she says being catholic feels like home. It doesn´t make sense because she´s told us multiple times that she thinks the Book of Mormon is true etc. but we got to the point where we didn´t know what else we could do to help her and she wasn´t progressing. She loves us though, she´s gave us these mugs that say Mendoza on them, a key holder that has this saying in Spanish on it, and yesterday at the Ward Christmas party she gave us a poem she wrote for us (she used to be a literature teacher) and a Christmas Card. She is about the nicest person in the world but maybe it just isn´t her time quite yet.

Welp, that´s about all I got for now. I hope you all have a splendid week!

Love, Elder Lounsbury

Saturday, December 3, 2011


Alrightyyy familia. This week was pretty normal. It´s been a little busy for me because it's the end of the month (which always means lots of fun entering in baptismal records) and we have interviews next week so I gotta do aguas de cuyo. Which I haven´t started Monday is gonna be a blast haha.

This week we focused a bit more on finding new people because the people that had weren´t really keeping their commitments or progressing. we found a family that looked pretty cool at first but when we went back yesterday there friends were coming out with like 6 beer bottles to go fill up again and this guy who was either high or really drunk came out to talk. Even if the family are angels it´s hard to get baptised when you´re surrounded by those circumstances. We did however talk to the son of Carmen and his wife and a couple friends for a good 45 minutes one day. We went by and the door was open and we just started up a conversation and they were soooo nice. They invited us in and said it was his birthday and gave us some soda and they just seem really open (the wife actually listened to missionaries for a really long time when she was younger) and we´re really excited about them. The only somewhat downside that we have is that Carmen is leaving to Chile for a week with Florencia. So we can´t teach Carmen´s son with her there, which would have been ideal, and obviously we can´t teach Florencia because she´ll be in Chile. However, Florencia is coming to church with her mom tomorrow and we´re gonna try to get Carmen to go to chruch in Chile and also go to the temple because it´s only like 20 minutes away from her house. So that would be a cool experience for both of them. And we´ll just have to go by with a different member to teach her son and wife for this week.

The only mildly exiting or different thing that happened this week was that I got a police background check thing done so I can get my visa renewed soon. That´s a lot of what Elder Ostler does so it was interesting seeing how all of that gets done. He knows like everyone in the government buildings we have to go to because all 200 missionaries we have get their visas renewed at those places. Usually the ladies at one place teasingly/not really teasingly complain and tease him because he always brings so much work for them to do haha. But their still our friends. Sometimes we bring facturas (those donut like things) so that they like us more. Food is the way to win any friend.

We had a super good lesson with Adriana yesterday. She´s told us that she thinks the Book of Mormon is true and that Joseph Smith was a prophet but she says that the Catholic church feels like her home and she doesn´t want to commit to change religions. We re-taught the apostasy and focused on getting a spiritual answer from God. We testified a ton. It was a great lesson. We put a goal for her of getting baptised on the 10th which is gonna require a miracle but it´s all in God´s hands now. She committed to really studying the Book of Mormon and praying to see if it was true so I have hope that she´s gonna make it. She should also be coming to church tomorrow (which is stake conference) and there´s gonna be a sweet choir singing christmas songs so hopefully she really feels the spirit there.

Other than that we´re working with a couple other people but their not really progressing a ton. Jorge for example just isn´t really following through on anything he says he´s going to do. We had an awesome planning session this last thursday so we´re excited for next week. I´m having a blast with Elder Ostler. I love how we work and teach together, we just get along really well and have had some really cool lessons together. I really hope I stay with him another transfer. He would be the first companion since my trainer that I would have more than 1 transfer with. We´ll see what happens.

With all the love of a hot December,

Elder Lounsbury