Monday, July 29, 2013

Everything Is Cool--And Cold

Ned the Head!

How are youz guys?! Good to hear from you again and all the events that have been happening. I must say, I am thoroughly jealous of all of them: Virgil’s graduation and concert! Dang! I hope their new album "Candlelight Virgil" was a smash hit as it should be and that Molly’s party was as jumpin' as ever. Tell The Grandma Ann and Grandpa Mick that I send them lots of "saludos" as always. Glad to hear all was well and good.

It’s been good here in Yuto, bit of a crazy week but it was still good. We had divvies with the ZL´s and it went fairly well. We made a lot of goals of how we can help my comp to be better and such and those goals are working. There’s a lot more excitement in the work and we worked a ton this week.

Tomorrow I'm not going to be in my area for days, I think. I’m going to do divvies with Ledesma for half a day tomorrow and all day Wednesday and then I have to go to a conference in Oran on Thursday so I get back to my area Thursday in the afternoon—bummer but its cool.

Speaking of cool, we had a baptism this week! Yes! Paola was baptized on Friday (as she couldn’t be baptized on Saturday). We had planned an activity that day (Friday) at the church for our investigadors so everybody was already at the church so we didn’t have to get everybody in at the last moment. I got to baptize her and it was really nice—and super arctic cold because we had a polar wind come through Argentina and it lasted till Friday. She was confirmed yesterday and she’s totally a member! What a cool thing.

Well, that was pretty much it for the week. Sorry it’s a short letter. The rule now, for computers, is that every companionship has to use only one computer at a time so we take turns writing. It’s a bummer but yet it’s a rule. So yeah, the letters might be a tad bit shorter than they usually are from now on but it’s cool. Now questions:

  • Are you helping Elias prepare for his mission?  When does his brother get back?
Yes! He’s going out to do divvies with us and stuff. He’s the mission leader too so we are always working with him. His brother gets home in 2015 in February or something like that.

  • Does Yuto have a patron saint?

Yes, but I can’t remember who it is. It may be the Virgin of Guadalupe but idk if it’s her for sure.

  • Where’s Elder Zulauf these days?

He is in my old zone in Salta in this area called Palermo.

  • Who can we pray for?

The Familia Belmonte and that we can have a baptism this week!!! Thank you for your prayers.

  • Do you know much about your comp’s background?

Yeah. He was born in the church there in Uruguay and likes handball and other sports. He’s got a sister and yeah, he’s just a normal kid. His country is the best in the world, of course, and I get to hear about it every day.

Well famz, have a great week. Again, sorry it’s a short letter. Pray that we’ll have a most splendid week and that we’ll baptize someone. Thanks for everything!  F´reals,the prayers and templing are amazing. Keep on with it! I love you! It’s all good.

Con Amor,


Monday, July 22, 2013

My Fondest Birthday Wish

Hey Guys!

Family times! How goes it? Good to hear things are great and rodeo-y. Meh, it would have sounded much classier if you guys had to drive to Wendover but that’s pretty cool. They have rodeos here but with the gauchos. The gauchos rodeos have two old guys playing a kind of music called La Chacarera which is essentially the same song with 2,362,289 versions.  It’s 2nd place to Cumbia in constant airplay—and annoyance. It’s a nifty type of music and I can stand maybe a few minutes of it but then it just kinda bleeds into one constant refrigerator buzz of noise and you want out. Stat! The music constantly plays while the gauchos ride horses and are thrown off and kicked in the jaw.  That and they get to wear fancy pants and berets so I guess its not all bad.

I’m glad to hear its hot there. Here, not so much. I would like to say that the phrase "bone chilling" is an exaggeration but it’s the only way to accurately describe it. There’s no escaping the humidity and the cold just seeps in through everything. I’m keeping warm and I'm chill (no pun intended...seriously) with the cold but it’s just incredible how cold it can be here.

Yes, I’m 21! It’s a grand thing and it was a chill birthday, super chill. On my birthday we had lunch at the familia B______’s house. The familia B______ is a less-active family of like, 20 years and the Hermano B_____ is, in the words of Bruce R. McConkie, "A degenerate old reprobate who found pleasure as he supposed in living after the manner of the world. A cigarette dangled from his lips, alcohol stenched his breath, and profane and bawdy stories defiled his lips. His moral status left much to be desired." Yet this familia, despite of it all, loves the missionaries and we are always trying to help them. We had a super good asado at their house that was beyond delicious. We were just about to leave when the hermano said, "Elder! You gotta see this!" We were eating under a makeshift cabana outside his house so we went inside his house thinking he was going to show us the new TV he bought. Instead, he threw two beat up old sketchy hillbilly blunderbuss-like shotguns at us and said "Elders! This next Saturday we are so going hunting!"  My comp and I just kinda looked at each other and said. "Ehhh, thanks Hermano but we want to live so we’ll pass". He wasn’t too happy about that.

It was another normal day though, we passed by houses and the likes. At the end of the day—with just my comp, Elias, his cousin, a kid we called "Chookie", and me—we had pizza and an ice cream cake. It was super chill. Elias has a video of the festivities and says he’ll upload it to day.  But that was the birthday. Nothing big but it couldn’t have been better.

My birthday wishes would have all come true if the car wash next door went away. Remember when I told you guys we live next to an abandoned car wash? Well yeah, it’s up and running again so there is a constant line of like, 19 semis and the entire PG high parking lot (or "the drag" as we called it) filling our yard and street accompanied by lots of yelling, drinking, and Cumbia. It’s pretty ridiculous but it’s a “getting used to” kind of thing.

The district is doing well. We are really putting our focus on believing and having the faith of seeing the miracle of baptizing every week! It’s possible, I know it is and, if we are working and having that faith and desire, then it’ll happen—for sures! We are all working hard and we’ll be doing the best we can. As always, during each transfer, we have divisions with the zonies. It’s not bad but I just don’t like doing divi´s in general. However, “with the joys of responsibility...”  Pray I’ll have a good day tomorrow for divis. Other than that, ?¿`s

  • What did you do for your birthday and Friend’s Day?

Just what I told you. And as for Friends Day, it mostly consists of everybody getting tanked on five peso boxed wine and singing along to the 80`s radio station they have here. You will never hear a more extreme version of "More than Words" than when you hear it from like,15 barrachos.

  • Did you get your birthday packages?

Nope, not yet. Rosano is going to Salta to do his papers this week so he’ll pick them up.

  • One last time:  Have you found the elusive sugar cane yet?

Yes. I can’t remember if I told you guys or not but the other transfer, when I did divi´s with Elder Murray, we door contacted a family and, as we were talking with them, they said they worked the sugar harvest. I told them they should totally hook me up with some sugar cane so I could try it because I've never had it before. I put it across as a "whatever" kind of comment. Then I got a call from Elder Murray the next week and he told me that they had about five gigantic sugar cane stalks at their pench from this family for me. When I did an interview there the next week I got to eat it and yeah, it’s disappointing. It’s cool but I was kinda expecting like, idk, pop rocks, cartoon food or something like that.

  • Okay Russ, the time has come: What’s the deal with you wearing that old belt?

Remember how I had the same belt all through high school?
And the same shoes too? It’s just my thing with belts and shoes. I'll wear them till they fall apart. That’s why I never ask for belts or ties or stuff like that. I've got less than 4 months left, I’ll survive.

Well, that’s about it. Oh, also, just as a cool talk to read. I was reading the other day from the gigantic pile of Liahonas in our pench and found a talk from a conference way back when by Elder Anthony Perkins.  It’s called "A Great and Wonderful Love".  Its a gem so hit that up.

Thanks for everything, guys. I hope this week is nice and Pioneer-Daylicous. Happy birthday to Molly! My computer is being wacky saying there are viruses and such and it’s being super slow so I gotta head out. Pray that we’ll have a great week this week. I love you guys so much, it’s all good!

Con Amor,


Monday, July 15, 2013

I'm Finally Legal!


Well well. It’s, again, a great thing to hear from you guys. How’s it all going? I'm glad New Mexico (down here, the X is an H sound so it’s like: ¨Meh-he-co¨ also they say Texas ¨tay-has¨) was a blasty, blast full of Cook-doo (a mispelled name that was written on a Dairy Queen cake we bought for Russell's birthday few years ago.  It should have been cookie dough) and sweet tea herbage in Durango and that all my good buds are home! Give Wade a slap on the behind from his good buddy Russ as well as Nick.  

Yes, the news is that I’m going to be 21 which means I will get to soak up all the benefits of being 21. Let’s see: Drink, gamble…Wait, I guess not. Then again, with 21 years under my belt I can adopt a child, supervise a driver with a learners permit (Anna), and most importantly, attend concerts at the Urban Lounge. I don’t know what I’ll have to do first—maybe all at once. Take a note! The first thing I’ll do when I get home is have Anna drive me to a concert at the Urban Lounge with my newly-adopted African son “Mankini” but those are just pipe dreams for now. Thank you for the wishes!

Well, to start off, we got the transfers and I am staying here...along with Rosano. I am completely shocked but, you know, it’s all good. I guess it means the Lord still has more work for us to do together I guess. It’ll be a good transfer. Even better than the last ones. I’m not bummed and actually kinda relived. There’s nothing worse than the night-before-transfers knot in the stomach, “Who’s going? Who’s coming?” I’m only glad to say I’ll be dealing with only a couple more of those. I’m still DL and the district is mostly the same. 2 hermanas that I started the mission with “died” or completed their service and went home yesterday so there’ll be some new hermanas but there weren’t a lot of changes other than that. With all the visa problems I don’t know if there were a lot of people who came in.

It was a good week this week. Not a lot of news to report on. After the capacitacion (training) that Anna, Lou, and all the missionaries in the world saw (posted by a ward member on facebook--that is why we have the photo below), we have been forming and reforming our ward (or branch) councils and working with them on how we can be more efficient and how members can help out more with the work. We have some ward missionaries now so that is always great.

Church was great yesterday. It’s a branch that keeps you on your toes. Like being in sacrament meeting yesterday and during the meeting having the BP tell you “Oh, and can you give a talk?” So that’s nice. I got to give a talk with no prep. We talk like every month or so but this emergency talk was new.

The investigators are going good. We are still teaching Paula and she’s doing great. We are going to start a big finding/search for newbie investigators this week so pray we’ll have the energy for all that. But really, not much to report on. We are still going forward with everything and always trying to do our best and better. Pray that we can do it! But yes, onto questions.

  • I know what time you have to get up but when do you go to bed?

It’s supposed to be 11pm (the rule) but Pres says with when we are still doing (stuff like filling out the area book, calling areas, numbers, etc) then it’s cool that we work past 11 a little bit.  I usually get done with calling the district, planning, etc. at like, 11:30-45pm. But it’s cool, you just kinda get used to always being tired.

  • What has been your favorite area so far?

OOOO, that’s tough but I might say that La Loma was maybe my favorite. Each area has its own things but La Loma was just full of great adventures and people. La Loma is really where I learned to work and have my missionary gears kick in. That, and just all the crazy things that happened there: Trying to find Matt Damon’s house, finding a bakery that had brownies, Christmas drunks, and lots of other stuff.

  • Have you built up a tolerance for Cumbia music yet?

NO!!!!! NEVER!!!! JAMAS!!!! It’s like, I’m so convinced that a deaf cat could make better music. There are maybe 2 songs out of the 3,678,267,192,278 Cumbia songs that sound the same that I like—kinda. But man in the words of Homer Simpson, “It’s...just...awful”.

  • Any bugs bothering you?  Finding any spiders in the baptismal font these days?

Nope. It’s cold now so that means there are luckily, no bugs here. But when it’s hot here there are these little mosquito-type bugs that bite you and you don’t even notice until you look down at your blood covered legs and faint. I don’t know how they do it. But speaking of baptismal fonts, we got a new one this last week!! Say good bye to baptizing in that dirty old bug trap we used to have—we got a new plastic-y smelling font. It’s so new and I’m so happy.

  • What’s your favorite Part of Preach My Gospel?

Hmmm. Well, chapter 10 is always a gem. And I love chapter three as we are always using chapter three. And chapter one. It’s a tie between the three chapters but man, I love PMG!

Well fambilys, I gotta peace out now. Have a most splendid week. Celebrate my b-day there in the home country. I'll try to figure out something to do here like eating live chicken necks or whatever the heck they do down here. A party, I heard, is already planned so no worries. Have a great week. Pray for everyone here:  Investigators, converts (The Fila. A_______ especially), the people we haven’t found yet, and us. I love you guys so much. I love you, its all good.

Con Amor,

Yuto Branch Presidency
Russ and a party of favorites

Monday, July 8, 2013

In Hot Water

Hey Scrammily!

Oh man! How are youz guys! Glad to hear it was a burn-free, semi e. coli free week! I guess hamburger-flavored water wasn’t the best idea to attract more people to Lindon.

As for me, it was another normal week here in Yutopia. We went to the Familia A------ house on Tuesday to share a scripture with them. It was none other than the trusty favorite: Hebrews 10:32,35-36. We talked about how, even though we have trials or things that seem to weaken our faith we must remember when we were illuminated by the spirit and when we know that things are true. Because they are and we have a great reward in store but must be patient to receive it. After we shared that scripture the Hermana A------- sat back in her chair, paused for a bit, and told her husband: “Oscar, go out and find out when the first bus leaves for Ledesma tomorrow. We are going to go get baptized”.  After being wide eyed for a moment, we ran over some last minute preparations with them, called Pres for permission, and we baptized them Wednesday morning. We had to have their baptism in Ledesma because our baptism font is being replaced but yes, they are baptized!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Not to say that the baptism didn’t come without a fight. After we got on the bus and got to the bridge in Ledesma, what do you know...they cut the road! Since the Hermana can’t walk long distances due to her health, we told them to wait at the point of the bridge and we ran, ran, RAN! Alllll the way to the other side and talked to a taxi guy who said he would take us so he drove us over to pick up the A------ but then only took us to the road block and said we had to get off there and it would be 16 pesos! So I gave old generous Mr. Grinchscroogehitlertaxidriver his pesos and we had to maneuver our way through the road block (which was a pile of burning bus tires) and found another cab to the church in Ledesma. As we got there the elders of Ledesma were filling the font. We had the service, it was small but sweet and we entered the font.  For the first time in my mission the water was so boiling hot we couldn’t get in. F´reals, I’m used to baptizing in Titanic-cold water then all the sudden we get the hot pots! We had to put buckets of super cold water in the font to even out the temperature but we got it all leveled out and good. They got confirmed yesterday and even bore their testimonies in testimony meeting. There is nothing better than to hear the testimonies of your converts but my goodness, that was a trial. I guess it’s like in Ether 12:6 where he basically says, “Miracles don’t come until after the trial of your faith.” I think, in a way, the Familia A-------, the missionaries, and others had to go through a series of trials before we could see this miracle. I am more than grateful for prayer: The prayers of us, the A-------, members, other missionaries, and you guys. Thank you very, very much. The family A------- is very happy and content that they have ended their search that they have been on for so many years. Thanks for the advice about what I can do. I am so very grateful for it and please keep giving it. I love it.

The district is doing very well. We got word that the district is probably going to double soon, perhaps by 12 missionaries....I may faint but it’s ok. We will keep doing the best we can, like you guys said, and it’ll all be good. Thank you.

I got my “trunky papers” today in my email which means I got the papers scheduling my travel plans home and such. I am sure the secretary will send you guys these papers as well. I believe I get home like the day before Thanksgiving or something like that. I don’t know but meh, it’s cool. I love the mish and the thought of going home is kinda weird. I love and miss you guys so, so much and I love the mish, and don’t take this the wrong way, but its almost kinda like I don’t want to go home. I do! And don’t get me wrong, but I just love the mish, you know what I mean? It’s kind of what Elder Scott once said when he said something to the effect of: “The 2 hardest moments of a young man’s life are when he leaves to go on his mission and when he has to leave from his mission” I accept, and welcome, and am most happy about the fact of coming home but it’ll be sad for me to leave the people, places, faces, and calling I have come to love and appreciate so intensely. I am sure all the returned missionaries know what I am talking about...but hey, I still got 4 months! Whatever happens, it’ll all be good. It will be a great time!

Yes, it’s the last week of transfers. Please pray it will all be good—whatever happens—it will. It will be the best last 4 months ever, of course! Well then, questions:

How do you locate investigators and less-active folks in your area?
References!!! That’s the good part of the mish. I remember entering Argentina with the idea that “Dang, I bet I have to knock a whole bunch of doors the entire time.”  The reality is that there have only been a very few times that I had to knock doors or do street contacts because we luckily have always had an overwhelming number of references. And reactivating? We sometimes go along with the members to find a house of a less active. We always make a time to pass by less actives. Why, just yesterday a guy that hadn’t been to church in 10 years (I believe) came to church with his family! It was super good to see him (:

  • Do you like polenta yet? two bites.

  • How do you keep your comp motivated?
Example setting and gentle reminders like telling him that all the popular kids are being obedient! Just stuff like that.

  • Seen any armadillos around or is that just a myth?
The only hint of an armadillo I saw was a charango (musical instrument) made from an armadillo. I was tempted to buy it but then found out it’s probably illegal to take to the States...bummer.

Well famblys, have a great week and all. It’s Argentine Independence Day tomorrow so go down to that Argie restaurant and buy an empanada (or a factura or something with dulce de leche) in solemn remembrance. Thanks for all your prayers and everything. I really do feel them and I am super grateful for them. Pray it’ll all be good this week and the week to come. I love you guys so very much. Have a great week. I love you, its all good!

Con Amor,


Monday, July 1, 2013

Burning Up the Fourth

Hey Guys!

How be it? Oh good snakes, hope you guys had a great week and that girls camp was nuttin' but the tops. Do keep in mind that, as Allphin children, we will not learn our sunburn lessons until we develop melanoma. I hope that green tea still helps for sunburns, though. Mom, I hope the birthday was amazing as well. Sounds super chill.

Speaking of chill, its July and freezing cold here but we’ve have got a new, nice heater so it’s ok. We are surviving. Oh but it was an ok week, kinda. We kicked off the week great. The familia A_____ was all ready for baptism, the district was doing well, and all was peachy...'til about Thursday. The zonies came over for planning. It’s a thing they do with the missionaries once and awhile and, though I don’t thoroughly enjoy it, I just take the WC Fields quote to heart and just, ¨Smile...and get it over with¨. Part of their coming over to the pench to plan with the missionaries is to also look for things that don’t meet mission standards, like contraband-type stuff for example. I was lacking cigarettes and pirated DVDs for them to confiscate so nothing happened but my comp got super mad at them and told them “You guys aren’t here to help us plan! You’re just spying on us, and distrusting us, and looking to bust us for something!” and etc, etc…  It was super embarrassing; I wanted to die. Ever since then there has been a change in the trust between us and the zonies. It seems like there is just this big awkward barrier now, ugggh.

On Friday we got a call from the A_______ family who said that this baptism. We asked them why and a thousand and a half things came flying out. They were super sketched out on the baptismal record saying things like, "This could get into the hands of people who want to steal our identity!” and ´´I'm not so sure about the priesthood” and etc, etc, etc. We tried the best we could to testify, explain, and everything but their problem is they are (in the words of The National) “Afraid of Everyone” and everything. They read something or hear something and, if it’s not in harmony with their beliefs, they go crazy, especially the father. If he’s not sure then the whole family’s not sure. He wants an overwhelming confirmation that the church is true. We explained to him how you can get that but he wants a vision or a dream or something along the lines of that. We are still working with them and helping them and we are still welcomed in their home but, idk what the heck happened.  They went from, “BAPTIZE US NOW!” to "Idk, elders...” Satan is just trying to destroy this family. We feel like they are supposed to make an important contribution toYuto and they are super, significantly important but man. That almost killed me. I still feel so bad about it.

Our whole district didn’t have a great week. There was a lot of work but not a lot of progression and there seemed to be a thread of disanimation in the district.  The ZLs said yesterday night that they had a conference with Elder Viñas in Salta last week where he said when there is lots of work but no progression it’s probably because of iniquity or, in other words, disobedience. I'm afraid they think there is. I know that nobody’s perfect but I don’t want disobedience to be a handicap progression. My comp has gotten better at things but he still has some issues and man, it’s just hard sometimes. These things aren’t great sins but are things that make a difference: Things like sleeping in too long, wasting time, etc). I'm feeling that lately it’s hard to buckle down with my comp and help us to do the best we can. It takes so much effort to pull someone along all the time.  I know we can all, as a district, work harder to be more obedient and have the spirit be with us. I know it’s only through grace and simple repentance that it’s possible but it’s hard for a lot of people to start anew and say “Ok, I’m going to commit to be better.”  I want all of us to try and do the best we can. I guess I’m starting to come to grips of what Heavenly Father must think of us all the time and that’s comforting.

It’s been kind of a bummer week this last week but, you know, there’s always this next week. It’ll be better. Pray for all of us to be better. We’ll all do the best we can. I'll do the best I can. Pray for the familia A_______ that they can see the truth and not fear and just come to Christ. It’s one of the most heartbreaking things in this world to see people who have the gospel right at their fingertips and won’t grasp it. That’s one of the only things I don’t like about the mish. But they will get it. We will keep working with them and everyone. Well, that’s my spiel. Sorry it was kind of a bummer letter but they happen at times. Now onto questions:

  • How are all your investigators?

Well, you know what happened with the A______ family but the Familia B________  are doing well. More than anything Paula (the mom of Javier and José) is doing the best. She is assisting church and wanting to have a better life. Alas, she has a pretty messed up family. They make Anna Nicole Smith’s family look picture perfect. I think that’s why she wants to join the church, because it’ll bring so much harmony to her family. It already has.  José and Isaac are doing ok. Their family is not letting them get baptized yet because their older brother was baptized and he is an on again off again member.  They say if their kids are going to get baptized they’ve got to be perfect and it’s kind of hard for the kids to do that. But we are working with them and with a lot of other people we’ve found. We got some references from the Familia A________ that we are going to hit up. We’re doing alright. We are always looking for more people to teach. Pray that we’ll find them.

  • Are you wearing your thermal undies yet?

Ah! Thank you for reminding me. I totally forgot I had those. I used them once in Chijra when it was cold but I gotta break 'em out again for the cold here.

  • Do you use your bounty-hunter skills to track down the less-active members of your elders quorum?

F'reals! It’s ridiculous. There are no directions here in Yuto so the ward directory helps for nothing. The closest thing we have for directions here is “the house by that one tree” so we have Elias or Angel Gonzalez help us find the houses. There are some priesthood holders here but they are super, insanely inactive. We are trying to help them and ordain some of the boys who can become ordained elders. That’ll help them a ton for sure. It’s really about applying chapter 13 of Preach My Gospel in this situation...I love PMG—LOVE IT!  I’m also studying Ether right now and have just finished with chapter 12. T’was a most dandy chapter, it helped me a lot. That and a little bit of how to work with ward councils better so we can really set up a better ward mission plan and do the best we can (along with the advice we received in the mission president capacitation we received last week).

  • Do you ever teach Sunday school or priesthood?

Sometimes. Not as much here as in the other wards I was in. In priesthood, yeah, but Sunday school is all covered.

Well familys that’s about it. It’s the 4th this week so yes, let’s call up some of our firecrackin’ buddies and go burn down a mountain. I’m so down! But yeah, have a most amazing week. I love and miss you guys a bunch. Thank you so much for all your love and prayers, they mean just about everything to me. Keep on with it and have a most burn-free 4th of July and please tell Grandma to keep the fireworks to a minimum. I know how much she loves those roman candles. I love you guys! Have a great 4th and 9th of July (Argentina’s 4th) I love you, its all good.

Con Amor,