Wednesday, June 8, 2011

{my missionary}

 Nolan's mission has been an amazing experience.  He is referred to by many as "Elder Sonrisa" {Elder Smile} in Argentina.  Last summer he was able to send us some pictures via another missionary returning to the States.  I love the pictures and I love that missionary! 

With four fabulous months remaining of his mission, it's always exciting to receive his emails.

He has grown accustomed to dirt roads and rubble filled streets.  Sadly, he has also become accustomed to being robbed and ocassionally having his life threatened.  The Lord watches out for him!  So, he is still adjusting to his new area after being transferred a few weeks ago.

{Nolan is on the bottom left with his contact juggling ball.  He's covered in dirt!!}

The following pictures coordinate so well with excerpts from his emails . . .

The first day of transfers:
"I did get transferred to Avellaneda {the "ll" makes "sh" so Aveshaneda}.  I'm excited.  It was bitter sweet leaving Fiorito.  The area that I'm currently in is really nice and we don't have a single dirt street or ghetto so its a big change."


The second week of the transfer:
"This area is way rich and way safe.  It's amazing.  I keep staring at the houses in awe because they're actually houses and not made out of chapa {sheet metal or plywood, just a sheet type thing} and wooden stakes with nails thrown into the mix somewhere.  Not all the houses in Fiorito were like that, they were typically made out of that on the roof with a super cheap cinder block substitute {you know its that bad when they are trying to find a cheaper substitute for cinder blocks}.


I may sound anxious for him to come home but I'm really not!  I want him to stay and enjoy every moment.  At times, we do ask about similarities and differences.  When we visited with him at Christmas we asked him what he looked forward to doing when he did come home.  His response . . . "being able to eat as much as I want."  He wasn't complaining and often tells me that he is okay and not to worry about the food.  He is so humbled that the members feed them as often as they are able.  He loves these people and appreciates their incredible generosity. 
{*please note the Texas tie*}

In an email to his dad:
 {we are flying down to pick him up}
"My new area is really cool and the members feed us 2 times a day for the most part.  They're always fighting over who gets to feed the missionaries.  It's a huge contrast to Fiorito.  I'm still walking down the streets in awe that the houses are actually made of brick and not sheet metal and a few boards thrown together.  You'll see how it is when we go to Fiorito.  I may take you though Avellaneda first to give a contrast and then take you to Fiorito the next day."

Nolan loves peanut butter, root beer, and all things Texas.  Believe it or not, peanut butter is a rare find in Argentina {and most of South America}.  It can only be found at Wal-mart and there aren't many of those in Argentina.  We generally ship it to him. He has had a great time introducing it to his companions that are native to South America.  They all love PB&J after their first bite. 

To India:
"Did you know we have 2 Wal-marts in our area, another big supermarket called Coto, and 2 shopping malls? Just in our area!  I don't think there is any other area in all of Argentina with all of that so I can eat peanut butter any time I want.  They don't have all the things that you do in the States but they do have a couple and its nice every now and then."

Of course, he is also very busy doing missionary work.  They "clap" instead of knock at houses. 
I love his sense of humor!

The following is atypical!  He has obviously been blessed with inspiration.  He discovered "something" that has enabled him and his companion to work closely with the members and increase member referrals.

Just before his last transfer he wrote:
"We had a good amount of work last transfer and at the beginning of this transfer but these last 2 weeks were crazy.  We had received 48 references and contactd 19 each week, finding 19 new people the first week and 18 the second.  It was keeping us really busy.  We didn't clap a single house that we didn't have to clap.  It was really nice.  All of our days were full and when we didn't have anything, we knew what we would do - contact references."

The first week of transfers he wrote:
"President told the last elder that was here that this was one of the hardest areas in the mission and that it doesn't have the same average of baptisms as other areas in the mission: so my companion and I have planned to baptize three this transfer.  We just found a family the other day and they have a baptismal date for the 18th.  I'm really excited.  We're going to reach higher than our goal."

This week:
"We've had a great week.  We got 38 member references this week alone, I think we got 24 last week.  I felt pretty good to get a call from the Zone leaders wondering how we could get so many.  We had a really fun experience, we entered a house to teach an investigator and they were skyping.  So, we invited the person on the other end of the computer to join us.  So, we found someone skyping."

I'm anxious to learn how he does it too!  Hopefully we can learn and do better ourselves.  I know that our Savior, Jesus Christ, lives.  That knowledge allows me to send my son to southern hemisphere to live among virtual strangers and love them.  He also loves his Savior and that is the motivation that propels him to want to share the gospel.  The "good news" that Christ lives.