Surprise! I'm here in a new area, new zone, new provincia! Santiago del Estero! It's the southern most provincia en the mission, the only I hadn't before known. Oh how I'm gonna miss Parque Guillermina and the wonderful people there - it was a super quick stay of 6 weeks but we worked our butts off and got to see the fruits this weekend. I'm gonna send a few pics so you can see them too. Had a missionaries dream - 9 baptisms in one day! It was incredible, especially considering the miracles we saw to bring them to pass. I'm sooo happy for the Lobo and Diaz families, as well as Jessica Quinteros, but am also pretty darn bummed to leave so quickly - the work is just getting started!
Monica Lobo and 3 of her kids got baptized, but we're just now starting to work with Julio (dad) and their 16 year old son Rodrigo. PRAY FOR THE LOBOS - a family truly special with an infinite, eternal potential for happiness. Last night, I left my final message with them - we challenged Julio to set the tone for the fam and he accepted a baptismal date for Dec 27. They're gonna prepare to head to the temple.
Then, there's Eva Beltran and 3 of her grand kids, Nahuel, Maira, and Franco Diaz. Eva is rock solid - friends with all the Relief Society and goes every Sunday. The kids aren't as solid, but the grand hope is in their parents. Their dad (I've mentioned him before) is Jose, and he's such a boss. He wants to get married and baptized - really one of the elect, in my eyes. The keystone will be Rosanna, his partner and the mother. PRAY FOR HER AND THE WHOLE FAMILY! I also left a parting message last night - challenging each and every one of them to be doers of the word and not hearers only! They also have a sister, 15 year old Susana, that wants to be baptized - such great potencial for an eternal family there as well.
Man I'm gonna frickin miss them, but boss hog Elder Philpot is gonna take care of them - he's staying as the DL and is gonna wreak havoc in Tucuman.
Aside from those 2 fams, we found another INCREDIBLE family yesterday - it was a referral from another area, really a gift from heaven. Cecilia and Pablo are a relatively young couple that is looking to pay tithing but don't know which Church to go to to pay it. Huh. I think we can help with that. We went yesterday with a recent convert (more than anything by chance that he came) that turned out to be an all-star for this fam. He answered questions about converting from Catholicism, paying tithing, etc. Incredible. This young couple is a bit lost, just looking for somewhere to put their faith so that their fam can be happy. They asked us if it's bad of them to open their corner store on Sundays because the Bible says we shouldn't work on Sundays - we reaffirmed what the 10 commandments say and they said, "Ok, we're gonna close on Sunday and go to Church!" YEEE. We gave them a LdM and he started reading the intro and says, "wow, this is awesome!" I died pretty much. Then, Pte. Chaparro called in the middle of the lesson (given that it was the last day of the transfer, it was 99% sure that it was because someone was gonna get switched) and so as we said goodbye to this great fam, I prepared myself to just hear about their conversion from Philpot.
We left the lesson and I called Pte - he gave me the news: Elder Blake to Santiago del Estero with Elder Vera (from Colorado). This gave us time to say goodbye and leave the final message. It's been a magnificent 6 weeks, and I'm gonna miss the heck out of this place, but I trust in the Lord and trust in Pte - I'll go where you want me to go.
A few other highlights - Friday we did splits with the ZLs to do the 9 baptismal interviews. After Elder Knudsen did the 4 Diaz interviews, we went to his chapel and the 2 of us did 3 interviews for another area. I interviewed the father of a family that got baptized on Sat - this dude is legit, such a boss. He told me of his conversion and the long hard road of repentance, and I could feel his sincerity. That's what this is all about. Changing lives, opening the doors to the Celestial Kingdom.
Last night I packed until 2:30 am and we got up at 5:30. I took off from the terminal around 7 and by 10 I was in the Santiago terminal completely alone for a good 10 mins. Huh. Luckily, my comp showed up and we headed back to the apt. The apt is really really good - we live the 2 of us, there's air conditioning etc and everything.
Santiago is like Arizona - don't worry mom, we're gonna lather up real good and I'll be rockin my sombrero all summer. Nothing like 125' fahrenheit to get you in the Christmas spirit! Feliz Navidad! I really like my comp so far - he's got 3 months left on his ticket so I might finish him off. We're gonna get to work here in our zone and are looking to raise the bar!
I'm soooo grateful for all of you. Phil and I decided to only give thanks in our prayers on Thursday and it was a great experience. I rocked my Raider tie and Raider socks, but unfortunately looks like the ball didn't bounce our way this year. Bummer.
Well, love you all tons! Send letters, send pics, send love!
Remember this Christmas season that He is the Gift, the most important of all the gifts. God sent His Son.