Monday, June 23, 2014

Updates from Cole

6/23/14 2 Elders, 3 Bowls, 2 Cups, 25 Plates
This week has been awesome. I feel like I have been learning a lot lately . A lot about how to ride the storm, and learning to love the struggle . Elder Petersen and I have been having a lot of trouble communicating, but I know it's going to get better. Last night, the Spanish Training Leaders were giving us a ride home and we set some goals and made some plans to improve. The talk we had went really well, and Elder Petersen really opened up for a little bit. We set some goals to communicate more. I have been writing questions that start conversation (who is your favorite superhero, what is your family like, favorite food, etc.) in the back of my planner, to whip out when times get rough or somesing.

Our investigators seem to have a lot of potential, but nobody came to church and nobody has a baptismal date right now. However, we have some plans to remedy both of those. We found a super cool investigator last week, she was a referral from Ft. Worth ward, and she seems really ready. The main problem we have right now, is that we cannot find any exchanges. We called probably around 15 members this week, and not one could come out with us. It has been a real struggle to get member present lessons in this area.
It has been pretty cool here lately. JK it is super hot and I am pure sweaty after like 30 seconds of being on the bike. Also, because it is humid or somesing it makes my whole body sweat from head to toe so my whole body is pure wet and it is awesome. It is really windy in Texas so it cools me off sometimes. I like it. But most of the time I am ridiculously hot. That's all for now!

P.S. I named this email in honor of the disproportionate amount of plates we have in our apartment.

6/16/14  God Squad, Reporting for Duty

Dear Family,
Haha, what's up guys? This was a pretty crazy week haha, it was awesome. This week we kept getting stopped by drunk/high old white guys who asked us to pray for/ with them. They were just going absolutely batpoop crazy the whole time haha, it was so funny. Also our apartment caught on fire and we had to call the fire department. On Monday (last week) there was a convert who was baptized, confirmed, and given the aaronic priesthood in like, 30 minutes. It was crazy! Haha, it was a good week.

So our apartment caught on fire haha. We came in for lunch on thursday, and smart cole had some leftovers so I ate in like 2 minutes then went upstairs to take my lunchnap. Haha, Elder Petersen decided to make enchiladas or something, so he turned on the oven (we have a gas oven/stove). Someone like called or something and he went away from the kitchen for a sec, and when he went back, there was tonz of smoke coming out. The fire alarm started going off, which woke me up, so I went downstairs and it was pure smokey. Haha, he was outside calling the fire department, so I tried to open up the back door and turn on the fan to get the smoke out. Then I went into the kitchen and saw the fire. I had to go back outside for a sec to catch my breath, but then I went back in and tried to put it out w/ water. I sprikled a little bit to see if it worked, then just started shveling water on the fire until it stopped haha. Yay me! Jk, but now our apartment smells like burnt plastic and there is a thin layer of soot everywhere. Haha, it is taking forever to clean up, but at least we got a new stove/oven haha.
Also, Happy Birthday Leena! And happy late fathers day Dad! Hope it was a good one haha!

6/09/14 Biggest. Bike area. Ever.

Hey guys, what's up? Just to clarify, Haltom City is my area, Hurst Stake, Hurst Zone, and Hurst 3rd Ward is my ward. My area is pretty huge for a bike area, which is rough because there is people everywhere, and it takes like 30-45 minutes between appointments sometimes, so I am pure sweat and whatnot when I knock on peoples doors. Maybe that's why people don't listen haha (my excuse). Everything has been going good, we got to know the new area this week. I found out there are 30 members in my area, and 27 are inactive. The other 3 live in the opposite corner of my area (45 minutes each way at the fastest) haha, so I don't work with active members too much here. This area needs a ton of help. Hopefully Elder Petersen and I can do something here.
Elder Petersen is really... quiet. We don't talk a ton. He is a good guy and whatnot for sure though.
Anywhey, not a ton happened this week. There was another baptism on Saturday, and there will be one today and Saturday. This district is killing it, and it is awesome. Love You Guys!

6/02/14   Haltom City

Hi guys! Haltom City Roolz!
My new comp is Elder Petersen, he has been out for about 5 more months than me, and he's from Washington (state). The new apartment is pretty old. The last few missionaries haven't been super clean, it looked like Cole's room pre-surg. tech. Haha, but now it looks more like cole's room post- surg. tech. Also, it is so dang squeaky. Literaly everything squeaks. The floors, chairs, stairs, doors, like everything haha. My new area is pretty sweet. It is a HUGE bike area, which kinda stinks because the church is the complete opposite of all of our work, but other than that it is awesome. Like half of the map is pure saturated w/ Mexicans. The bike is alright, I can still ride pretty good and whatnot and I don't get that tired. Hopefully by the time this transfer ends I'm not so dang fat anymore. Our ward is super missionary focused and it is so sick! There are 5 sets of missionaries in this one ward. They are all in my district. They all had killer weeks too, there was 3 baptisms on saturday, it was an awesome week.
Elder Peterson and I were both new to the area, and whitewashing it was pretty rough. All of our appointments cancelled, and nobody was outside or nothing to teach. We have been outside tracting/ contacting for about 6 hours a day (minimum) with a teeny bit of luck haha. Until Sunday night, we didn't even get into a house, just teaching doorstep lessons. It was pretty rough, but it's looking up now.
Haha, this place is super sick though, on Saturday there was a party in the church, and some guy rented 2 bouncy houses that they blew up in the gym haha, it was so cool. Anywhey, Hurst is sick. Have a good week!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Panthers

Well this week was a goody. I don’t have that much time so I am going to write furiously until my time is up.

First, here on the coast it dumps buckets all day every day.  So this week we "went off a little bit craaazier than usual" (who can name that movie?) and it was just pouring.  It rained so much that it was up to the middle of the wheels of the cars and just about drowning our wheels of the bikes.  Haha It was kinda fun for the first 5 minutes.

Also this week I felt like I was part the animal planet "shark week" except out of the water and replace shark with crazy dogs.  We had several attempts by those sneaky little guys this week.  

There are some that are straight up.  When they see you, they get down in the starting position and they take off at the sound of the gun.  They chase you until they get you or until you outrun them.

There are others that are lazy.  They see you bark a couple of times take a couple of steps and they call it good.

There are others that are trying to prove something to the other dogs.  They look at all of their buddies and then chase us for a bit and then go back to all of the rest.

And then we have the smarter ones—the panthers and the ambushers. We had several cases of these 2 types of dogs this week.

The panthers are the stalkers that follow in silence until you stop.  Then quietly they sneak up on you through the shadows and the bushes.  They wait for you watching every move, until they know that you aren’t ready and then they strike their prey.  

The other is the ambusher.  You will be riding along the street when you see one tiny little dog by himself.  You don’t think that it will be that big of a problem, until they start to sign the war cry. Then you hear them off in the distance.  The other dogs coming.  Running, growling and barking all in unison like a well-trained army.  It is in these times that I feel like I am Indiana Jones running away from his the Indians in the first movie.  My companion and I even have started singing the theme song when we hear the herds coming.

I know that the big man lives.  And he put me in this country with all of these crazy dogs for a reason.  I know that he gives us problems so that we can overcome them and grow.  Keep working hard.  I love you all.  
Thanks for everything and have a good week.
Elder Merkley

Small World

Well this week was not too bad.  We live super far out of the way of everything so when we have to go to church we have to wake up at like 6 to leave at 7 so that we can catch the bus at 8 and then take the bus and get there at 9.  It’s quite a doosey.  But at least we are seeing a lot of the countryside of Argentina, right?

Something real random that I thought was super funny this week is as we were walking in the streets this week a car honked at us and then waved us over.  As I looked into the car I saw a strangely familiar face.  We started talking and I realized that it was a guy from my last area that we always talked to in the street and he was vacationing in San Clemente. Small world huh?

Something weird about Argentina is that they don’t care where the animals are.  We were in a grocery store. There were dogs sleeping on the ground.
        We went to buy tickets for the bus. There were dogs sleeping on the ground.
         We went into a bank. There were dogs sleeping on the ground.
         We went into an Internet cafe. There were dogs sleeping on the ground.
There are so many dogs that I guess it just doesn’t matter to any of them anymore haha.

This Pday we got the chance to take the bus for 4 hours to go to a zone activity.  We went all the way to a place called Pinamar where the one leaders are.  When we got there I felt like I was in a movie.  It reminded me of the Lodge with all of the pine trees but then there were little parrots flying through the trees.  

We walked to the beach and played sand volleyball for a good 5 hours, I also collected some seashells, we went back to the church, ate some homemade pizza, and watched Monsters University.  After that we hopped back on the bus and headed home.  I would say that it was one of the best P days I have had.

Not that much happened this week.  I gave a talk that I wrote on the bus and it turned out pretty good.  My presidente of the branch reminds me of a Spanish Uncle Chris.  Life is pretty dang good.

I love you all and have a good week.

Love Elder Merkley

Pure Gold

This week I went to the offices to pick up my son as they say in the mission. His name is Elder CastaƱeda. He’s 19 years old and he’s from Durango Mexico. He’s pretty cool. He’s one of those way excited missionaries whose always way pumped after every lesson and always wants to wear his suit haha.  I’m in the outskirts of the city and about 30 minutes from the beach. It’s so freaking different. The people are almost impossible to contact but the ward completely makes up for it. I went from a ward of 50 active members to 205 active haha. It’s so great. They members here actually know the doctrine of the church and they aren’t saying how they know that God, Jesus, and the Spirit are the same person when they share their testimonies haha. We walked up to a house a house and some lady came running out saying “Oh elders come in come in" and just started talking way fast while writing a list of references for us. Pure gold.  We have to take buses everywhere and its just kind of weird here. I feel like I’m in a movie that takes place in the future but everything is way rundown and evil kinda haha. I have been doing a ton of thinking about my last two areas and what they were like. I’ve decided that I’ve finally put my finger on what my last to areas were like. You know where the aliens live in the movie district 9? That’s what sihuapan and tres valles was like. Just like dirty cat food cans everywhere haha.  Ill try and think of a way to explain what its like here in Veracruz. I love you guys a ton and I'll update you more next week
Love Elder Kimball

PS we have Air Conditioning  #score

No Payment

Big changes everybody. Big changes. Don’t have a ton of time to write but this week went by way fast. We had a complete miracle haha. We have kinda been teaching this guy named Arturo but not really. He is the son of the mission leader. He was baptized when was a kid but didn’t remember it and had been inactive his whole life. He was going to church with some weirdo apostasy church called the church of god of the prophecy. They have this stupid pastor dude who walks around in pure white clothes and sandals all day preaching whatever he preaches. He had been preaching to Arturo and his family (minus his dad). Way lucky this guy thinks he should get paid to do what he does and was telling them that we get paid as well to be missionaries. So when we went to visit his dad, Arturo was there and his dad asked him if we get paid. We told them ‘No’ and pulled out a scripture about how you shouldn’t receive payment. Ever since then he started going to church with us (aka 3 weeks ago.) He went to conference and liked it a ton. So we were talking to them on Tuesday and he said he knew the church was true and what not. I told him his records weren’t in the church and invited him to get baptized. He accepted and we baptized him yesterday.
In other news I’m leaving Tres Valles! Por fin haha. Everyone says that the heat is even worse in May so even more lucky. I’m going to the city of Veracruz in a part called Reforma. I’m not so sure how lucky this is but I’m going to be training a new missionary and I don’t know the area so that just going to be great fun.. just great. But I’m way excited to go to Veracruz. I’ll up date you guys next week how everything goes. K bye

Elder Kimball

Leaving Ezeiza for the Coast

Holy crappy I forgot to say happy birthday last week and I forgot my agenda so imma try and remember everybody. HAPPY BIRTHDAY SCROOGS, PHILLY JO, AND RYKE BRO!!!
Well this week were transfers and guess who got transferred... That’s right my companion.....
...`s companion, or me in other words.  I was dang sad to be leaving Ezeiza, especially some of the members and Elder Flinders too.  It was super super easy to get along with the guy and even our investigators were saying how well we worked together, I laughed more with him than with any other Elder I have been with but change is for the better I guess right?
So I got moved down to a little place called San Clemente. Anyways that is a story for later.

This week Elder Flinders saw me tying my shoes the only way I have ever learned that takes forever.  He asked me if I wanted to learn how to tie it faster and then he taught me.  So now I can tie my shoes faster... and then I found ten dollars.

So on Wednesday my companion and I received confirmation that I was leaving Ezeiza because we were talking with a couple of investigators and we realized that I was heading out from some stuff that they were saying.  So we started to say goodbye to the people that I had come to know in Ezeiza.  It was a rough one but everything is for the best, right?

So I got called to open up an area with a newer missionary named Elder Rodriguez from Brazil.  It is a 5 hour drive from where we were and we were jammed in a tiny little bus but the good thing is that it is like a San Francisco.  The beach is a good 5 minute walk from where I’m at and it has a nice breeze and smell of the beach with bright sunny sunshine shining on my face all day.  The only difference from San Francisco is that 1 there is nobody in the streets cause it is winter here but it is still nice and warm to me. And 2. It isn’t in the United States.  
Anyways we are getting lost a full but ya live and ya learn right? 
The only down side about this is that it is a huge tourist spot so it is crazy expensive.  Looks like imma gonna have to look back on my scrounging days to get by right?  
Well I love you all.  Thanks for everything.  Have a good week and be safe.  
Your friendly neighborhood scrounger man
Elder Andy Merkley