BAPTISM!!!! FRANCISCO!!!!!!! He's such a stud. The guy answers many of his own doubts after having pondered so much about them. He's a very thinky kind of guy. I hope to be able to send pictures using Elder Rosazza's camera. We still haven't had meetings in the school house, and won't for another week or two until classes start back up again. And we don't have to go to Rio Grande, I actually haven't been there yet.
P.S. Mom's got the right idea. Ask me questions! I'll usually put all my answers in the general email, whether put as specific question/answer format or no, and I'll probably add other info with each one.
So, Elder Rosazza was here in Tolhuin when I got here, but he'd only been here for one transfer (six weeks) so we're both relatively new to the area. It both helps and hurts. Helps because that means we don't know where the Elders have really gone before and we can be peoples' first impressions of missionaries, and hurts because we don't know where the Elders have really gone before and there aren't all that many people yet who "warm" up to us very quickly.
Speaking of the temperature, it's rather chilly here. Buenos Aires apparently had a record high the other day, while here we were wearing sweaters and coats.
OOHHHH, before I move on. Francisco's baptism was held in the house of a member named Antonela (think Megan and Marvin's old trailer plus another small front room in size). Correction, he was not baptized in the house, but rather at the house, since the house happened to be the place for the church meetings. We had a little portable pool that we set up, which you'll see in the picture, and baptized him between Sunday school and Sacrament Meeting--one so that he could get confirmed in the sacrament meeting, two so that we could give the pool a little more time to fill up. We had attached a little hose to Antonela's kitchen faucet and were filling the pool with warm water from the water heater. As a result the pool was a little less that half full, despite the fact that we started filling four and a half hours before the baptism and added a few large pots of boiling water as well. The water was warm, but he was seated and I on my knees as we performed the baptism so as to facilitate the submersion.
So, getting on with the preparations for said baptism, neither have had problems with accepting a single part of the commandments. On the contrary, Patricia was more excited than any investigator I've ever met to know what the commandments were. The first Sunday I was here happened to be the first Sunday she assisted the meetings and I spoke that day a little about the blessings of keeping the commandments (happiness, peace, etc.) and about changing our attitude to a want to from a have to. That intrigued her, especially since none of the other churches she had attended had ever really placed emphasis on the commandments. Both commented on the fact that they like how our entire outlook on things is positive, focusing on the blessings of keeping the commandments in place of the punishments for disobedience. (Hmmm, I wonder why...??? Oh, maybe that's because God actually wants us to be happy rather than miserable.) They both love how everything in the Church is tranquil (the translation from their word) and they really feel good there. Particia in particular likes the learning aspect that she's never had in any other church as well, and how interactive all the classes and lessons are.
Once again, Francisco is a thinker, and he liked/likes to read from the pamphlets and the Book of Mormon. He reads those, and compares things to the Bible, then thinks about questions. He mentioned the other day the same two scriptures that I've gotten for years from other people about how the Bible says that anyone who adds more will be cursed. Then he answered his own question:
Because of the apostasy and the repeated translation and copying of the Bible, certain things must have been lost. Not only that, but also during that time, Satan had more than enough chances to put misinterpretations in the hearts of men. His evil influence made it so that men would misinterpret and misunderstand scriptures; that God wouldn't close His communications with His children.
It's so true, and he thought of it on his own!!!!!!!!!! He answered his own question, without any help from the Elders or other members of the church!
Then yesterday, as we were eating dinner with Francisco ad Patricia (homemade empanadas, mmmmmmm, so good!), she said that during the baptism her mind had been drawn to the image of childbirth in the sense that is was as like the person was newly emerging from his or her mother's womb again. This coming from a woman who hasn't ever really read the Bible and in general doesn't like to read. We testified that that interpretation of baptism was inspired and then opened to John 3. You could tell she was surprised and she said out loud, "Entonces, ¿cuando me bautizo?" (Then when can I get baptized?)
Uhhh, as soon as you get back from your trip!! (They're going on a trip this weekend for a couple of weeks to pick up their adopted 4 month old daughter from Salta, a distance similar to driving from Orlando, Florida, to Seattle, Washington) She said that she'd keep thinking about it, but we can tell she is much more enthusiastic now about the idea of being baptized.
This last week, we were privileged to have Elder Wilhelm of the seventy and his wife come to speak to us on a mission tour. He and his wife are converts. She was baptized at age 12 then went less active and married him. When they were in their thirties, the Elders knocked on their door and Sister Wilhelm threw open the door and ushered them inside to teach her husband. He's since served as a mission president and a few other callings. Both are from Chile. We received a lot of inspiration from the messages that they all gave (Elder and Sister Wilhelm, and President and Sister Gulbrandsen). While putting in practice some of those revelations received in the conference, we experienced several miracles in this last week. We've found several people who were/are willing to hear the Gospel, and are now just trying to get back in contact with those people.
For the baptism yesterday we even had a weather miracle! All morning it had been spitting/raining/rain-snowing with a light wind that made it really cold outside. As a companionship, we prayed in the morning for the rain to stop at least for the baptism, if it was God's will. It continued like that until about an hour before the baptism when it began to lighten up. The sun valiantly poked through the still dropping clouds and eventually fought them off just in time for the meetings to start. Like I said, we had the classes first as we continued to fill the pool, then held the baptism in perfectly sunny, almost cloudless and breezeless weather. It continued like that until about an hour after Sacrament meeting ended when we had a tremendous wind storm. No rain, just humongous gusts of wind, enough that some roofing was torn off a few houses and it shook the majority. But as far as we know, there were no injuries yesterday. But wow! what a miracle that was!
Complete change of topic, I love shopping wood, it is very calming. It's relatively like carving for me, but more tiring because it uses more muscles. We got to chop quite a bit last week and we're expecting to do some more this week. I didn't bring my whittlin' chip from scouts with me, but if I had, I'm sure my scout masters would have shredded it to pieces by now. ;D
Still working on the camera issue and as I said for a while Elder Rosazza will give me some of the pictures from his. I baught a disposable camera while in Caballito, so I've been using that.
A little more about Tierra del Fuego, I lied about there being only one type of tree here. I was surprised to find a few pine trees, though they're located only in the yards of a few people here, so I think they were brought here. Aside from that, there is only the one tree, and I found out it's called Lenga. It's generally got a rather dull bark color, very grey with a mixed brown every now and again, most of them covered with witches hair moss (though here they call it indian's beard) and some other type of fungus/moss thing that I have no name for. As for the inside, they range from a normal elm type of color to almost an unfinished cherry red, depending on the age of the tree and the distance from the center to the bark. There are relatively few tall trees close to the three main cities, because they are shallow rooters and can be blown down relatively easy if the wind is strong enough, and the rest get to be between two and five meters in height.
The conference was held in Ushuaia so I got to know a little bit more about that place and the bay is absolutely gorgeous, especially at sunrise. The main tourist spots are Ushuaia and Rio Grande and the surrounding lands, but Tolhuin is the midway point between the two and is situated at the eastern tip of Lake Fagnano, which is one of the longest lakes in Argentina. If you want to look up more information on the lake, I can't, so... there... Have fun searching. Most of the glaciers are out of reach of where we can go, but I have hopes that President takes us to something sometime. They have before with past missionaries either before or after conferences on P-Days. Penguins I haven't seen yet, but I understand that they can be seen around Ushuaia. I'll keep a look out the next time I'm there.
I hope you all have enjoyed this letter, it's probably one of the longest I've written, but it's got a lot of cool stuff. And if you want to know more, ask me questions. I have things to share, but questions are always good prompters. They help a lot. And Marvin, I'm still waiting to hear whether or not you've decided on going beaver hunting...
I love you all!!! Have a wonderful week and I will be praying for you.
Pictures: 036-Me, Patricio, Elder Rosazza; 038 Me and Patricio after the ordinance in our "font"; 039 Us, Francisco and Patricia; 020 "fiery" sunset from the Land of Fire