Monday, June 25, 2012

Letter #44

Hello friends and family.

Its week 4 here in Unquillo and Im having a blast! I finally received my money from the mission and so I bought batteries to take some pictures!!! And today we´re heading to a waterfall thing.... so ill be sure to take some pictures of that.

How is everyone doing? Im guessing good. some highlights from this week are:

1. We got pulled over by cops. Yeah.... I guess we were walking to fast or something. so yeah, we were visiting an inactive family who lives in Barrio Talar, which is way far away from our pensión. We were walking to their house and then we decided we were going to try and contact some people. I went up to a house, knocked on the door, and a lady came to the window.... She pretended she was deaf and so i just said, "we´ll come back another day." then the deaf lady replied , "ok, gracias"...... Just an example of the lame excuses that we get from people. but yeah. so we continued walking and there was a bunch of cops on the street next to us.... one of the cops stopped and told us to turn around. We were like..... ok..... so yeah, they walk up to us, ask for our DNI, and so he starts checking our stuff. Then he asks us if we understand spanish... "no dummie, I just stopped when you said to, and turned around when you said to." man i hate cops... but yeah, they told us that some lady just barely called them and said that two "missionaries" were trying to get into her house to rob her..... (kinda an ironic sentence to me) he took down our information and then left. so yeah, I was a wanted criminal in Argentina :).

then this sunday we get out of church and then our zone leaders call us and ask us if we got stopped by cops. we told them the story and then the zl´s told us that some guy showed up at their church and started asking how they could know if we were really missionaries and not ladrones trying to rob them.... Needless to say, we are going to start teaching him this week. :)

2. We put a fecha. We started talking to a girl named deby. She is 18 and her parents are both inactive members. but yeah, we were walking down the street one day and we pass some girl and elder diamond says, "her parents are members but she´s not" "WHAT!? well lets go talk to her!" so we went and talked to her, she came to church, we had a lesson and we put a date for her baptism the 14th of july. :)

3. We taught Fernando. Fernando is just a contact we did on the street. We talked to himand he was like, "yeah, pass by at this time." ok. we got his direction and realized that he lives 1 street away from us. haha. so we visited him. Talked about his family, and then we shared the book of mormon. he is now reading it every night and trying to take stuff out of it to become a better father. the only problem with him is that he is not married.... But that is easily fixable :)

4. We taught familia dominguez. FAmilia dominguez is a family that is inactive. We passed by them, asked them why they aren´t going to church. the are going to a baptist church. So i dropped some cain on them, and went into deep doctrine about the priesthood and the authority. The mom, at the end of the lesson, was like, wow..... if i would´ve known that.....It was a fun lesson.

5. We taught Miguel Ángel. Miguel Ángel is just like the Familia Dominguez but they are investigators. We stopped, and talked to them deeply about the authority and the priesthood and how the Apostasy happened and why there was a need for the restoration. They promised that they are going to read.

So yeah, this week was fun! I learned a lot about the  authority and the priesthood!

I hope you are all good! Love you all!

Elder Gray

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Elder Diamond and Collin

If you think he's a little weird. . . He IS! But we realized he's trying to show us his broken retainer... If you look real close you can see it. =)


Monday, June 18, 2012

Pictures of his apartment--They now have LIGHT!

Letter #43 Unquillo. . .a city of Zion

Hello everyone! Happy Fathers Day to all fathers and especially to my dad. I hope it was an amazing day for you all and that you got to rest a little bit.

Well... Here are some things that happened this week!

1. We had someone in church!! We had a lot of people say to us that they are going to go to church this week. And someone showed up!! His name is Carlos and he is the dad of one of the members. We were sitting in sacrament by ourselves when Elder Diamond whispered to me, "hey, we have someone in church." And we both looked back at the doors and Carlos comes walking in! It was such a blessing! So we went to go sit by him and he randomly leans over to me and says, "hey, what are you guys doing after church"..... Nothing..... "want to come to our house to have some empanadas?"... uhhhhh heck yeah!!!. so yeah, here for fathers day, we went to a way cool investigator and had some empanadas. Afterwards we were talking to him about baptism and he was just plain and simple when he said, "im basically what they call a Mormón seco", which is basically someone who is a mormon but isn´t baptized..... As long as im in this area, he will be baptized!! heck yeah. So now is he reading the book of mormon with his daughter and his neighbors are going to start visiting him with us. :D So we´ll see how quickly the Spirit will touch him and tell him to get baptized.

2. I went to the orthodontist. Yep. I went. They grinded on my teeth a bit so that the point isn´t poking me anymore. And then they had me come back a second day to take some pictures of my teeth. Now they want me to come back to see if I need to get my Wisdom teeth out.... But I think they just want my money. Im not going home to get my wisdom teeth out unless it is ABSOLUTELY necessary.... Silly Orthodontist.

3. We have Lunches!!! Here in Unquillo the members rarely helped us with lunches i found out.... but not on my watch! I started a new calendar that will last through the whole year. And now we have lunches every single day. (except for the fifth tuesday and wednesday of the month), But that will soon be fixed.

4. We found 13 new people this week!! So as of right now, we have 21 new people that we are teaching since I have gotten here. And I really hope that it keeps going like that until I leave. This place is Zion, just waiting to be baptized!

Yep. That is about it here inUnquillo for this week. I hope you all are doing good! Im rapidly approaching 10 months! its crazy to see how the time flies here!

Love you all and I hope you have a great week.

Elder Gray

Monday, June 11, 2012

Letter #42

Greetings here from Unquillo. Basically this week im going to take a couple of minutes and describe to you all how my new area is....

AMAZING!!! Its basically like Im just taking a trip up to the cabin, or im up west canyon camping.... but actually literally camping. We dont have any light.... We use gas tanks to cook and heat up water. We use candles to light up the rooms at night. I eat mushed up pumpkins and corn. and I just have to say that I love it.

When we are working, I dont even feel like im working. I feel like im just taking a walk through the forest because all there is is a bunch of trees in every direction and LOTS of hills. Unquillo is its own city and its basically on top of a mountain. I love it. a Home away from home.

But yes, I am freezing my behind off. We havent been sleeping to well because its so cold but then the hermanas from our ward came a dropped us off a bunch of blankets! woohoo. I am super pumped to be warm again. :)

Here are some events from this week.

1. Argentina beat Brazil!!!! 4-3. yeah, we´re the bomb. And messi had 3 goals. I always knew he was the best. The people here were freaking out about the game. Elder Diamond and I would be walking through the streets and then we´d randomly hear a bunch of people yelling, or a bunch of people cheering. so we could tell who scored. Needless to say, during those 2-3 hours we didnt get into a single house beacuse everyone was watching the game..... but its all good.

2. We found 3 new families!! Woohoo. We found the family Reynoso. They are a mom, raul 22, a girl 20, and another girl 15. We talked to the mom outside of her house and we found out that the little girl was having problems with english.... and so we came in to help her with english, but by the end we were all learning something new about Faith, repentance, baptism etc. It was fun to see them all learn together as a family. Hopefully this week we can help them progress to come to church. and then straight into the waters of baptism!

Also antoerh family who are all evangelists and they were asking us a lot of questions about what we believe and such. They also thought that we didnt believe in honoring the flag of argentina and that we dont donate blood..... man i hate how people think that we are testigos. But yeah, we talked them for a while and they love us! we are going back this week to visit with them and hoèfully we can help them progress as well.

We found a family last night as well. We are supposed to be in our pension by 930 at the latest as missionaries but if we´re not teaching, we should get back at 9. So it was 845 and we had nothing to do and so we were heading back to the pension to get our clothes to bring to an hermana who lives next to us who helps us by washing them. we got our clothes, brougth them to the hermana and then sat down and drank a malta with her. Then there was a knock on the door and her sister and her husband came in and started talking to us. So an hour and a half later, I had the scriptures out, Elder Diamond was drawing examples on his agenda, and we were giving marriage advice to this couple about how they can raise there kids better. We must have touched them with the spirit because we have an appointment on wednesday to go and talk with them. Yesterday we got back at about 11.... we´re sinners.. haha

3. My permanant retainer broke..... bummer. Everything is breaking here on the mission. Yeah, Saturday morning I was flossing my teeth (being a good boy) and I started flossing through my permanent retainer and I must´ve pulled really hard because the floss ripped my retainer off of half my teeth. So right now I have my see through retainer on so that the metal doesn´t keep poking me.... And in an hour or so im going to go to an orthodontist to see if they can fix it... The cool thing about this who experience is taht when I speak in spanish I speak like someone from Spain. So everyone asks me if Im from spain. haha :)

I hope Grandma is ok!! Hopefully I can see her when I get back. It sounds like you all had a fun week in OK, camp, etc. Be safe and ill talk to you all next week!

Con mucho amor,

Elder Gray acá en Ciudad Unquillo

Monday, June 4, 2012

Paul E. Koelliker

Here is a talk that I really like. I testify as a representative of Jesus Christ, that he (God), really does love us. He Truly Loves Us BY ELDER PAUL E. KOELLIKER Of the Seventy Because of the heaven-designed pattern of the family, we more fully understand how our Heavenly Father truly loves each of us equally and fully. I love being with the full-time missionaries. They are full of faith, hope, and genuine charity. Their missionary experience is like a minilife packaged in 18 to 24 months. They arrive as spiritual infants with a serious appetite to learn, and they leave as mature adults, seemingly ready to conquer any and all challenges placed before them. I also love the devoted senior missionaries, who are full of patience, wisdom, and calm assurance. They bring a gift of stability and love to the youthful energy that surrounds them. Together the young missionaries and the senior couples are a powerful, persevering force for good, which is having a profound effect on their lives and upon those who are touched by their service. Recently I listened to two of these great young missionaries as they reviewed their experiences and efforts. In that reflective moment they considered the individuals they had contacted that day, some of whom were more responsive than others. As they considered the circumstances, they asked, “How can we help each individual develop a desire to know more about Heavenly Father? How do we help them feel His Spirit? How can we help them know that we love them?” In my mind’s eye I could see these two young men three or four years after completing their missions. I visualized them as having found their eternal companions and serving in an elders quorum or teaching a group of young men. Now, instead of thinking about their investigators, they were asking the same questions about their quorum members or the young men they were commissioned to nurture. I saw how their missionary experience could be applied as a template for nurturing others throughout the rest of their lives. As this army of righteous disciples return from their missions to the many countries across the earth, they are becoming key contributors in the work of establishing the Church. The Book of Mormon prophet Lehi might have been pondering the same set of questions as these missionaries when he listened to the response of his sons to the direction and vision he had been given: “And thus Laman and Lemuel, being the eldest, did murmur against their father. And they did murmur because they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them” (1 Nephi 2:12). Perhaps we have each felt the frustration Lehi experienced with his two eldest sons. As we face a drifting child, an uncommitted investigator, or an unresponsive prospective elder, our hearts swell as Lehi’s did and we ask, how can I help them feel and listen to the Spirit so they are not caught up in worldly distractions? Two scriptures stand out in my mind that can help us find our way through these distractions and feel the power of God’s love. Nephi gives a key to the door of learning through his own personal experience: “I, Nephi, … having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers” (1 Nephi 2:16). Awakening the desire to know enables our spiritual capacities to hear the voice of heaven. Finding a way to awaken and nurture that desire is the quest and responsibility of each of us—missionaries, parents, teachers, leaders, and members. As we feel that desire stirring in our hearts, we are prepared to benefit from the learning of the second scripture that I want to mention. In June of 1831, as calls were being extended to early Church leaders, Joseph Smith was told that “Satan is abroad in the land, and he goeth forth deceiving the nations.” To combat this distracting influence, the Lord said that He would give us “a pattern in all things, that [we] may not be deceived” (D&C 52:14). Patterns are templates, guides, repeating steps, or paths one follows to stay aligned with God’s purpose. If followed, they will keep us humble, awake, and able to discern the voice of the Holy Spirit from those voices that distract us and lead us away. The Lord then instructs us, “He that trembleth under my power shall be made strong, and shall bring forth fruits of praise and wisdom, according to the revelations and truths which I have given you” (D&C 52:17). The blessing of humble prayer, offered with real intent, allows the Holy Spirit to touch our hearts and helps us to remember what we knew before we were born into this mortal experience. As we clearly understand our Heavenly Father’s plan for us, we begin to acknowledge our responsibility to help others learn and understand His plan. Closely tied to helping others remember is the way we personally live the gospel and apply it in our lives. When we actually live the gospel in the pattern taught by the Lord Jesus Christ, our ability to help others increases. The following experience is an example of how this principle can work. Two young missionaries knocked on a door, hoping to find someone to receive their message. The door opened, and a rather large man greeted them in a less-than-friendly voice: “I thought I told you not to knock on my door again. I warned you before that if you ever came back, it would not be a pleasant experience. Now leave me alone.” He quickly closed the door. As the elders walked away, the older, more experienced missionary put his arm on the younger missionary’s shoulder to comfort and encourage him. Unknown to them, the man watched them through the window to be sure they understood his message. He fully expected to see them laugh and make light of his curt response to their attempted visit. However, as he witnessed the expression of kindness between the two missionaries, his heart was instantly softened. He reopened the door and asked the missionaries to come back and share their message with him. It is when we yield to God’s will and live His pattern that His Spirit is felt. The Savior taught, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35). This principle of having love one to another and developing our ability to be Christ-centered in how we think, speak, and act is fundamental in becoming disciples of Christ and teachers of His gospel. Awakening this desire prepares us to look for the promised patterns. Seeking for the patterns leads us to the doctrine of Christ as taught by the Savior and His prophet-leaders. One pattern of this doctrine is to endure to the end: “And blessed are they who shall seek to bring forth my Zion at that day, for they shall have the gift and the power of the Holy Ghost; and if they endure unto the end they shall be lifted up at the last day, and shall be saved in the everlasting kingdom of the Lamb” (1 Nephi 13:37). What is the ultimate means by which we can enjoy the gift and power of the Holy Ghost? It is the power that comes by being faithful disciples of Jesus Christ. It is our love for Him and our fellowman. It is the Savior who defined the pattern of love when He taught us, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (John 13:34). President Gordon B. Hinckley confirmed this principle when he said: “To love the Lord is not just counsel; it is not just well-wishing. It is a commandment. … Love of God is the root of all virtue, of all goodness, of all strength of character, of all fidelity to do right” (“Words of the Living Prophet,” Liahona, Dec. 1996, 8; “Excerpts from Recent Addresses of President Gordon B. Hinckley,” Ensign, Apr. 1996, 73). The Father’s plan designated the pattern of the family to help us learn, apply, and understand the power of love. On the day my own family was organized, my sweet Ann and I went to the temple and entered into the covenant of marriage. How much I thought I loved her on that day, but I had only begun to see the vision of love. As each of our children and grandchildren entered into our lives, our love has been expanded to love each of them equally and fully. There is seemingly no end to the expansive capacity to love. The feeling of love from our Heavenly Father is like a gravitational pull from heaven. As we remove the distractions that pull us toward the world and exercise our agency to seek Him, we open our hearts to a celestial force which draws us toward Him. Nephi described its impact as “even unto the consuming of [his] flesh” (2 Nephi 4:21). This same power of love caused Alma to sing a “song of redeeming love” (Alma 5:26; see also verse 9). It touched Mormon in such a way that he counseled us to “pray … with all the energy of [our] heart” that we might be filled with His love (Moroni 7:48). Both modern and ancient scripture are full of reminders of Heavenly Father’s eternal love for His children. I am confident that our Heavenly Father’s arms are constantly extended, ever ready to embrace each one of us and say to each one with that quiet, piercing voice, “I love you.” Because of the heaven-designed pattern of the family, we more fully understand how our Heavenly Father truly loves each of us equally and fully. I testify that it is true. God does know and love us. He has given us a vision of His holy place and called prophets and apostles to teach the principles and the patterns that will bring us back to Him. As we strive to awaken the desire to know in ourselves and in others and as we live the patterns we discover, we will be drawn toward Him. I testify that Jesus is the very Son of God, our Exemplar, our beloved Redeemer, which I express in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Letter 41

Hello Family and Friends!! I am now here in Barrio Unquillo after transfers! Its basically just a huuuuuuge city just outside of Córdoba. I feel really blessed for the opportunity that I have to be here. So yeah, I left Barrio Jardín and left my dear companion Elder Holtby after 3 months and now I am here in Unquillo with Elder Diamond, another stud. I sincerely want to let you all know, that God really does know us and love us. There is no way that it is just luck that I keep getting awesome companions. Elder Diamond is from West Jordan, and he has 2 or 3 more transfers than me (he completes a year this week). But really, he is a stud. There are a couple things I am going to miss about Barrio Jardín, and they are my investigators.... Yes, Charli is getting baptized this week. Yes, José has decided to get baptized in two weeks. and Yes, Belén (mom of Abril, whom we baptized), has decided to get baptized in a week. Really the field is white, ready to harvest. All we need to do is reap with our might and thrust our sickle. The blessings are just waiting to be found! Also, I thought I would let you know, that Abril, the little girl that we baptized is in the Liahona!!! She is in the general conference edition with the two kids of hermano Castillo. She looks like an angel. :) I think the picture is in elder baxter´s talk about the single parents and such. so if you get a chance, take a look! Oh yeah! I got robbed.... again.... :P Last week we were in Las Flores playing soccer and football. So i left my stuff on the side of the soccer court. So we were in the field playing some football and then some other kids came to play on the soccer court. Then after playing a while, they left and elder Guymon told us that they picked someone´s stuff up off the ground and ran.... of course it was my stuff. So me and elder Holtby went running after them and we caught up to two of them. they didn´t have anything :P. it was the other kid who took it all.... and we never found him again. pucha. But yeah, everything is going good here! Argentina beat Ecuador 4-0 the other night, so everyone here is happy :) But we do play Brasil this next weekend so we´ll see what happens! Its crazy how everyone here loves fútbol. basically me and elder holtby were walking in the street the other night and we were thinking.... "where is everyone?? Usually there is a ton of people in the street during this time. is it the ciesta?" but no, we entered into a house and we found out that Argentina is just playing, and i did see Messi score a goal :) boo yeah. ARgentina was dominating the whole time. Basically, if Argentina is playing, we cant teach.... because the television will not turn off, so we went to two different houses trying to teach a lesson but ended up just watching the 2 halves of that game. Barrio (Ciudad) Unquillo is huge!! search it on google earth and start looking around and you will soon realize how beautiful my new area is! I hope you are all doing fine! Write me if you need anything.... Actually, just write me :) Elder Gray