Elder Carter's Argentinian Mission

for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – all comments sent to Jared!

I’m Extending My Mission!

August29
Wow!  This is my last letter home.  It has been the experience of a lifetime and I wouldn’t change it for the world.  It has been my privilege to be able to share the message of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with thousands of people.  I have learned so much and I have enjoyed every last minute.  I can’t wait until I can I continue this great work through out the rest of my life.


For the past few weeks I have been reflecting on how to continue my missionary experience after going home.  I decided that I needed to “extend my mission” after arriving.  At first, I felt hopeless because there aren’t any missionaries in my ward and I hardly ever see missionaries at all.  Not only that, I only have three close friends who aren’t baptized and I have already shared the gospel with them.  Then, I started to see that there is actually a lot that I can do.  I can fortify and encourage members here in Argentina through letters and emails, prepare new missionaries from the youth in my ward (and my children in the future), share the gospel through the Internet, help with genealogy and temple work to save my ancestors, be an example to everyone around me, fortify the church wherever I am called to go . . . the list just kept getting longer and longer!


I got this quote from Meghann and Scott today and it helped me a lot:  “There has never been a time in the history of mankind when we have been better equipped to teach the gospel to our Father in Heaven’s children here on earth. And they seem to need it more today than they ever have. We see a deterioration of faith. We see an increased love for worldliness and a depletion of moral values, both of which will cause increased heartache and despair. What we need is a royal army of returned missionaries reenlisted into service. While they would not wear the badge of a full-time missionary, they could possess the same resolve and determination to bring the light of the gospel to a world struggling to find its way.” –Elder L. Tom Perry  (Conference – October 2001, “The Returned Missionary”)


I have lived in Utah my entire life.  If you would have asked me what sadness or heartache was before my mission I would have said something . . . but I didn’t really understand.  My mission has opened my eyes.  The world is in a critical state – and we are the only ones that can guide others from their paths of despair to the only real source of help.  They don’t need a social or political change – they need a spiritual change.  Their entire existence depends on it.  We have the opportunity to alter the eternal consequences of those around us.  It is real need and necessary change that demands our immediate attention.  Salvation is a personal experience but it was never meant to be a solitary experience.  What we choose to do in every moment has an eternal effect on us and everyone that we come in contact with – we need to act.  Make plans and follow through.  Do everything you can to share the restored gospel with as many people as possible.


In the Liahona for August, there was a quote from President Monson about love.  He said, “We will never regret the kind words spoken or the affection shown. Rather, our regrets will come if such things are omitted from our relationships with those who mean the most to us.”  After reading it I thought that it could very well apply to any principle.   I thought to myself, “We will never regret sharing the gospel with others. Rather, our regrets will come if such things are omitted from our lives.”  And then I was reminded of the scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 18 which says, “Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God . . . and if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father! And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!  Behold, you have my gospel before you, and my rock, and my salvation.” (verses 10,15-17)


You don’t need to be a missionary, a returned missionary, a scriptorian, or a good speaker.  In fact everyone is qualified to share the gospel.  If you have a testimony, share it.  If you don’t have a testimony, plant your “seed” even if it is just a “desire to believe” (Alma 32) and then share that desire with others!  When we reach the judgement day, we won’t have any excuses.  On the other hand, if we do our part, we will reach our exaltation with our families and those who we have helped along the way.  I can’t think of anything better!


Is it worth it?  Every last second.  Would I serve my mission all over again?  In a heartbeat.  Am I excited to go home for my extension?  You bet I am!


Thank you all so much for everything that you have done for me!  You have all helped me so much and I can’t wait to see you all next week!  Stay strong and live your life with no regrets!


Love,
Elder Carter


P.S.
Dear Family,
Sorry if the title startled you, I was just trying to grab your attention. =D

The Fruit Chat

August22

Today is P-Day and it has been a very interesting one!  For those of you who aren’t missionaries, “P-Day” stands for “Preparation Day” and it is when we can read and write emails, clean our house, go shopping, play sports, or visit local attractions.  When someone tried to plan a branch activity on Monday, our branch president (who is a returned missionary) said the following, “P-Day is the most important day of the week – the sacred “Day of Rest” for missionaries . . . you can’t mess with P-Day.”  It was pretty funny, but there is also a lot of truth to what he said.  We always try to use our preparation day to the maximum.  This preparation day was a little bit different though . . .

As we were walking to lunch after church yesterday, we saw Brother Luna in the street talking to a family.  We waved to them all as we passed by and Brother Luna motioned for us to come over.  As we came closer we saw that he was trying to console the family.  The mother was crying and her son was sitting on the bench staring off into space.  He explained to them that we can help and told them that tomorrow at 3:00 we would be passing by.  We quickly agreed and offered any help we could.  Afterward, we hurried on to lunch not knowing what would happen the following preparation day.

Today we tried to finish everything that we could in the morning before we had to travel to our area (which is about 30 minutes away).  Luckily, we finished (almost) everything and set off.  We arrived at Brother Luna’s house to find that there was a problem with the appointment.  We rescheduled for Wednesday feeling a bit frustrated with our decision to work during P-Day.  Why had we scheduled the appointment during P-Day?  We felt that we had sacrificed our time in vain.

We decided to stay and chat a bit with the Luna family.  Something was different.  We were able to talk to them without worrying about anything.  We could talk to them as friends of the family – it was great!  Afterward, we went to the branch president’s home to get something that we had left there.  When the president saw us he was really surprised.  “Isn’t today P-Day?  What are you doing?!”  We explained everything and his wife invited us in to chat.  We passed the time with them chatting about life and eating fruits.  It was really fun!  As we left to write emails before working again I turned to my companion and said, “Well, I enjoyed P-Day!  What about you?”  He chuckled to himself and agreed.  Another P-Day well spent!

It wasn’t something that we had planned, but everything worked out perfectly!  We had a really relaxing and enjoyable P-Day!  I would have never planned to chat and eat fruits for our daily activity but it did the job!  I realized that if we do what we are supposed to do, nothing else really matters.

Heavenly Father knew that the appointment was going to fall through but He didn’t prompt us to set a different day.  We were supposed to set it for today.  It wasn’t because we were going to teach – because we didn’t teach.  It also wasn’t so that we could socialize with the members even though that’s what we did.  It was our duty to offer help to the family and we did our part.  It didn’t matter what happened afterward . . .  in fact, anything could have happened and I’m sure we would have enjoyed it!  We complied and God did the rest.  We thought of others instead of thinking of ourselves.  When we are focused on ourselves, we sometimes have a good time and sometimes not.  When we are focused on others, we can always have a good time!  “And whosoever will lose his life in this world, for my sake, shall find it . . .” (JST Matt. 16:28)  Follow the Savior’s example in doing good continually and you will truly be happy – no matter what happens!

I hope that you all have a great week!  I can’t wait to see you all soon!  Take care!

Love,
Elder Carter

Prove Him Now

August15

We have been very blessed here in Lastenia! Ramon Rodrigez was baptized this past Saturday! It was a great experience and I know that he will be a big support to the branch. Here’s a picture from his baptism:

Ramon's Baptism

Ramon's Baptism 2

Here we are a bit closer! From left to right: Me, Brother Luna (who helped us teach Ramon), Ramon, Blanca (Ramon’s wife), Jesus (Ramon’s son), and Elder Nuñez.

Ramon has been a huge example to me of faith, prioritizing, and the importance of families. He also taught me a lot about tithing . . . wait did I just say tithing?!

The law of tithing was the very last commandment that we had left to teach. We arrived last Thursday for our final lesson before his baptismal interview. As we started to teach him, a big smile came over his face. He chuckled to himself as he breathed a sigh of relief. We stared blankly at him because that isn’t normally the first reaction we receive when teaching about tithing. Then he started to explain . . .

The very first day he attended church he brought money with him so he would be able to donate. Our branch president talked about tithing during the meeting and he waited patiently for them to start collecting but nobody asked for anything. The next week he couldn’t attend but Blanca (his wife) came prepared to donate as well. Nobody mentioned anything. She left just as confused as her husband and when she arrived home they talked about it. Why wasn’t there a money plate? Where was the box to drop your tithing? He knew that tithing was a commandment and had felt the Holy Ghost confirm it, but had no idea how he could be obedient! As he told us the story, we realized that he was worried because he knew that he should pay tithing, but didn’t know how. He and Blanca have been looking for clues ever since so that they could be obedient to the commandments. We explained how everything worked and told him that he could pay his tithing the Sunday after his baptism. He quickly agreed to faithfully pay his tithing for the rest of his life.

I was amazed at his willingness and desire to be obedient to God’s commandments. He understood the doctrine long before we taught it and the Spirit testified of the reality of the Law of Tithing. He knows that God loves us and that He has prepared the way to be able to bless us when we do our part. I know that if we want to know of the the truthfulness of a doctrine, the Holy Ghost will ALWAYS testify of it when we are willing to live by the law. One of the best ways to show that we are willing to live by a law is by actually living it! God made it very clear when He said, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” (Malachi 3:10, italics, underline, and bold added =D. See also John 7:17).

I know that we should prove Him now with every single revealed doctrine. He won’t ever let us down and is waiting to be able to prove His faithfulness as we prove ours. No matter what we do for Him, He will always give us much more in return. It’s ALWAYS worth it!

Thank you all so much for all that you do! I hope you all have a great week and I can’t wait to hear from (and see) you all soon! Take care!

Love,
Elder Carter

P.S. We also had another visitor in our baptism. He didn’t make it outside for the picture because he preferred staying in the corner of the baptismal font =D
Baptism Visitor

Consistency is Key

August8
What a week!  The first part was a little bit rough because I didn’t have a companion.  Don’t worry though because Elder Nuñez is fine now.  The first three days last week I dropped him off at a member’s home and I kept working with another member (because of his sprained ankle).  I had a great time, but Elder Nuñez almost went crazy for not being able to work.  It made me laugh because it seems nice to be able to relax all day . . .  but it is a missionary’s greatest fear.  Anyway, he’s better now and was able to study A LOT.


Anyway, something really interesting happened in the past couple of days.  We have had to adapt our working habits because President Levrino presented a new method of working in the mission.  One of the biggest changes was about how we approach planning our lessons.  Before, we only reported lessons where a member was present, but now we are reporting every single type of lesson that we teach (lessons with investigators, recent converts, less active members, with and without a member present, etc.).  Also, the goal increased a lot (statistically, the goal increased by 500% but in reality it is more like a change of 200%).  What does that mean?   Lots of really short lessons!
We started running around (the best that my companion could) and visiting as many people as possible.  We had to plan our routes a lot better and visit many people on the way to other appointments.  Instead of visiting our 15 families twice a week, we will be visiting them about every other day and contacting them almost daily.  Amidst the chaos I thought about the significance of the change . . .


I was reminded of what I have shared with many investigators.  I compare reading and praying to eating (aka “feasting” – see 2 Nephi 31-32).  Just as it isn’t healthy to eat 7 times more during one day and then not eat during the week, we shouldn’t limit our spiritual nutrition to one day in the week.  Also, why eat just once during the day when you can snack throughout the entire day?  Should we limit ourselves to one isolated moment of spiritual nutrition? How would our studies change if we reflected throughout the entire day.  Then, I started to think about other parts of my life.  Before my mission, I would become obsessed about something and work on it for hours during one day while other days I wouldn’t do anything.  I lacked consistency.  Sometimes I was super excited about my calling and other times it didn’t even cross my mind.  One day I would be focused on my family so much that I let work and school fall to one side.  Then I picked up the slack and unconsciously cut out other aspects of my life (such as personal study or sleep).  If I had divided everything into smaller, more manageable portions, I would have been able to accomplish every important thing that I needed to do.


Visiting an investigator for one hour in every five days leaves them vulnerable to the attacks of the adversary and the distractions of the world.  It is much better to visit for 10 minutes each day to be able to fortify them and verify that they are okay.  Just as visiting an investigator in one day out of five leaves them weak, our daily inconsistency can leave weak spots in our lives.  We cannot spiritually feed our spirits with an “every other day” approach to our studies. We cannot try to isolate our contact with our family to a “quality dinner discussion”.  We cannot expect to retain all of our studies in a “super study session” once a week.  We shouldn’t work ourselves to death in order to go on a “getaway vacation” while the simple joys in life wither all around us.  We were made to be consistent and not extremists.  Our Heavenly Father knows this and is trying to help us become more balanced in our lives.  General Conference, the Liahona (Ensign), and many other sources have shown me the great importance of balance and consistency in our lives.  Now, more then ever, I know that mastering a healthy and balanced lifestyle is the key to happiness and perfection.


Thanks again for everything!  I look forward to hearing and seeing you all soon!  Have an awesome week!


Love,
Elder Carter

Cliff Notes

August1

Hello Everyone!

We just got here with 15 short minutes to write!  Wow!  Here are the “Cliff Notes” for the past week:

  • Elder Nuñez is my new companion.  He is from Santiago Chile.
  • Elder Miranda got a new companion who lives in the USA but his parents are Mexican.  His name is Elder Breton.
  • They are both super awesome and the four of us are working really hard.
  • There are still lots of changes from the new mission president and the whole mission is changing (which is a good thing…not that it was bad before, but changes help a lot.  It’s like a new year even though the old year wasn’t a bad one =D)
  • We have a lot of investigators and very little time.
  • Ramon Rodrigez is the closest to his baptism and he is very excited.
  • Our biggest challenge is helping people to attend church.
  • Suddenly, everyone started giving us references (By the way, if you know anyone who you can invite to recieve the missionaries, invite them!  It never hurts and the worst they can do is say no.  Even when they aren’t interested, 99% are grateful for your thoughtfulness rather then offended by the invitation).
  • My companion sprained his ankle and we had to go to the hospital.  That is the biggest reason that we are here late (in the internet café).
  • He is doing fine and will get to study with several of the members in our branch while I go work with one of the priests that is preparing to serve a mission.

Well, that’s about all the time I have.  Thanks so much for your letters*!  I can’t wait to see you all soon!  Have a fantastic week!

Love,
Elder Carter

P.S.  Here’s a picture of me and Elder Nuñez.  He is super awesome and will be my very last companion.  We are already best friends!  Enjoy!
Elder Nuñez
*Two quick apologies for overdue letters:  First, I am searching for postcards but I didn’t think they would be so hard to find.  I found some but they weren’t that great.  Don’t worry Jace, I’ll find some cool ones downtown once my companion gets better.  Second, I forgot to send a letter that I wrote about 2 months ago to Courtney Dickson – Sorry! (it’s a long story, but right now the letter is in the chapel…)  Everyone else, if I haven’t replied, send me a quick email and I’ll try to write… I’m a bit disorganized and I’m sure I haven’t responded to a few other people.  Please forgive me!  Thanks!  You’re all super awesome!!!  Have a great week!!!!!

The Lord Knows

July25

Well, today was transfer day again.  Last night at 9:30 they called us with the news.  Elder Montaño was transferred to Concepción which is about an hour from here.  Elder Serón was transferred to Chijra 2 which is where I was working right before I came here.  I was really excited for him because I really loved it there.  They both packed up and left this morning at 9:00.  Hardly anyone in our branch knows that there was a change, but they will all know very soon!  Our new mission president, President Levrino, announces the transfers one day before (instead of on Friday) which makes the goodbyes shorter and easier (much like the change in the MTC two years ago) and also helps to prevent “trunkiness”.  I think that it’s a great idea . . . other then the fact that it is harder to get any goodbye pictures and exchange contact information.  It is still worth it and I know that our mission president is inspired to make all of the changes that we are going through.

There were many other changes as well – such as the ability to extend your mission an extra transfer.  I have really wanted to extend my mission ever since I started (I love being here!), but the rule changed after they bought my ticket home.  I guess I’ll just have to continue my mission there!  My Heavenly Father knows what He is doing, and if he wants me at home, that’s where I’ll go!

Anyway, due to transfers, I don’t have any more time.  I just wanted to share a quick thing with you all.  We have been teaching Ramon Rodrigez for some time now and he is amazing.  He is 72 years old, but reminds me of my Grandpa Bill.  He just keeps going and going (like the energizer bunny as my Grandma says).  Anyway, it all started when he decided to change the roof on his house.

We weren’t there, but he tried to explain what happened.  As he was working, he suddenly lost his footing.  He slid over the edge, but caught himself clutching onto the edge.  He was hanging there with about a 10 foot drop and he didn’t know what to do.  He didn’t have the strength to pull himself up over the edge, but he also knew that a drop from that height could be very dangerous.  Then he remembered that He needed to trust in God and everything would turn out for the best.  One phrase ran through his mind, “The Lord knows.”  It gave him the comfort that he needed and he dropped from the roof.

He fell to the ground and landed on his feet, but the shock of the drop knocked him backwards.  He landed perfectly on his back, and then sat up.  He was fine!  He stood up and checked to make sure that he was alright and all he had was a little scratch on his leg to remind him that he really did fall off of his roof.

As he told us the story, I marveled at his faith. He could have died or been paralyzed if he landed wrong.  Instead of fearing of what could happen, he remembered who was really in control.  He did everything possible and then trusted the rest to the Lord.

Sometimes we need to stop and think . . . Where does my strength really come from?  What is the real purpose for everything that happens?  Am I doing exactly what I know I should?  How can I be worthy of God’s help in my life?  I have asked myself the same questions thousands of time.  Usually I know the answers, but I forget to apply them.  I know what to do and I forget to do it.  I expect His help without giving mine.

Ramon is a big example to me of faith and I know that I can learn a lot from him and from everyone else.  In the MTC they told us that everyone has strengths and weaknesses and that we need to learn something unique from each person in order to become stronger.  I think that it is very true and I challenge you all to learn from those around you, too – it really works.

Well, I really do need to go now.  I talked about a whole bunch of things (please excuse the lack of organization), but I hope and pray that it will help one of you who read it.  I really appreciate everything that you’re all doing and I can’t wait to see you all soon!  Have a great week!

Love,

Elder Carter

Power in the Priesthood

July18

Hello Everyone!

The time is just flying by.  I don’t have much longer here in Argentina, but the last few months are just as good as always!  I have an experience that I wanted to share with you that really impacted me.  Last Sunday (the 10th) I woke up not feeling very good.  We went to church and I made it through (thank goodness!), but during lunch everything started going downhill.  I was achy all over and I also got some really sharp pains in my stomach.  After lunch, I rested for about an hour and then we continued working.  During our appointments I had the strength to teach, but the problem was when we were in the street.  As we traveled to several of our investigator’s houses. I had a hard time walking.  I kept wanting to sit down and my whole body felt weak.  I didn’t know how I was going to make it until it was time to return to the apartment and I even had a hard time staying upright while we were at some of the doors.  I kept praying for the strength to make it through the day and my Heavenly Father helped me keep going.  We started walking down one of the streets and one of the houses was lit up that we had never knocked before.  I told my companion that I wanted to knock it even though we were on our way to another appointment.  It turned out to be where the grandma of one of our recent converts, Mauricio, lived.  She invited us in and we were able to sit down for a few moments which is exactly what I needed (another tender mercy).   It turns out that she didn’t want to hear the gospel, but Mauricio was there and we helped him with his reading in the Book of Mormon.  I know that we were lead to that house to not only help Mauricio, but also as a blessing to recover a little bit of my strength as well.

Finally, the time came to return home and we reached the apartment.  As I walked in, all I wanted to do was go to bed.  The other missionaries were already there and when Elder Miranda saw that I was sick he suggested that I ask for a priesthood blessing.  I have always had faith in priesthood blessings, but never really asked for them.  Growing up, the only time I really received blessings was when I was ordained or set apart for a calling.  Even when I was at college living with 5 other Melchizedek Priesthood holders, I never remember asking for a blessing.  I thought about it and realized that it was exactly what I needed.  I asked my companion and the other missionaries if they could give me one.  When they finished, I felt a little better and knew that I would feel all better in the morning.  I thanked them and went to bed.  I don’t remember anything else because I fell right asleep and didn’t wake up until the morning (which never happens when I’m sick).

The next day, I woke up and felt great!  Nothing hurt, I wasn’t weak, nothing!  It was as if I had never gotten sick in the first place.  I have no idea what sickness I had, and it doesn’t matter much anyway . . . I have never recovered so quickly in my entire life!  Was it a coincidence?  No!  I know that I was healed through the power of the Priesthood.  I need to help the people here in Tucuman, but now I understand that I am not using my own strength.  My strength comes from above – it comes from one with an infinite love who knows exactly how I feel and what I need to learn, grow, and progress.  I am so grateful to be a part of this great work.  I am grateful for all of the blessings that have been restored to us through a loving Father in Heaven.  Everything that happens each day is perfectly tailored to my specific needs and is designed to help me achieve my potential.  I only need to trust in Him and do my part, He does the rest!

Thank you all so much for your support.  I love you all so much and I can’t wait to see you all soon!

Love,
Elder Carter

A Baptism to Remember

July11

This past week was amazing!  Hilda (Hilda del Valle Mena de Galvan) was miraculously baptized!

The miracle wasn’t that she decided to get baptized because she has been extremely excited for her baptism for over a month . . . the miracle is that we had a baptism at all!  There hasn’t been a baptism in our branch for a really long time.  We had trouble with the interview and she was finally approved for baptism at 8:30 at Friday night.  That left us with Saturday to make all of the preparations.

We woke up and went directly to our Branch President’s house.  The three of us started to make all of the preparations.  When we got to the chapel, we found the faucet to fill up the baptismal font was broken.  There was absolutely no way to fill up the font!  We left to assign a talk to a member that lived nearby while President Jimenez kept working (yes, we had to assign the talks the same day, too!).  I don’t know what he did while we were gone, but it started working.  Water was coming out but the water heater didn’t turn on.  The font started filling up with freezing cold water!  It is winter here and without central heating it is very dangerous (especially for someone like Hilda) to get cold and wet.  When we got there, he closed the valve and opened it one last time and the water heater miraculously turned on.  We still have no idea how it started working, but it was obviously another tender mercy.  In any case, we couldn’t fill up the font until we cleaned it.  A small window to the font had broken earlier.  It was sealed off from the rest of the church, but it had filled with millions of bugs.  Most of them had long since died, but there were still many living amongst the cobwebs.  It looked exactly like something out of Indiana Jones.  We killed them all and spent the next two hours in an “Extreme Makeover” of our baptismal font.  With (even more) heavenly help we got it clean and started the 8 hour process of filling up the font*.  Later we continued looking for an adult baptismal dress that we had lent out to some missionaries in another area.  We called several people looking for a delivery service.  Nobody answered.  We couldn’t have a baptism without any baptismal clothes!  While desperately calling to find someone that could drive across the city to get the baptismal clothes we found a member who happened to have a baptismal dress in her house.  I have no idea why it was there, but I was so glad that it was.  We went by and picked it up.  We spent the rest of the day inviting and giving assignments to the other members of the branch.  Everyone came and it was an amazing baptism.  The spirit was really strong and that is one of the things that I was the most grateful for.  Everything else worked out fine, but if the Spirit hadn’t been there everything would have been in vain.  Nevertheless, a loving Father in Heaven provided for everything – from the most critical needs to the smallest detail.  He is in control and when we do our part, He will always do his.

Here are a couple of pictures from the baptism.  The first is me and my companion with Hilda and the second is with her family and a couple of the members that attended.
Hilda's Baptism
Hilda's Family

Also, here are some from the past couple of weeks that I couldn’t send earlier:
1- Argentine Flag
This is the Argentine flag in the Plaza in Tucuman.  Sorry it isn’t more majestic . . . there was absolutely no breeze.
2- Elder Serón
This is Elder Serón, he is from Chile.  It looks like he is yawning, but he actually posed like that for the picture.  He is a really funny Elder and an awesome friend.
3- Elder Miranda
And this is his companion Elder Miranda from Perú.  He is super nice and always really happy.  He is also the perfect example of Christlike service.  He has cooked us meals, cleaned the dishes, made our beds, cleaned the bathroom, ironed our shirts, cleaned our desks, washed our clothes . . . you get the idea.  He is an awesome example for me!  (we normally all take care of ourselves, but somehow he does it when we aren’t looking!)
4- Our Patio
This is Elder Miranda on our patio while I was on the roof.  The roofs here are different than in the USA.  There are stairs up to a landing with chairs and everything (don’t worry, I was perfectly safe).
5- Argentine McDonalds
We decided to go to McDonalds last week.  I picked the cheapest thing on the menu and it came out to $27 (yes, the cheapest meal was a Triple Mac)!  I was surprised by the price, too!  Then, I converted the price from Argentine pesos to US Dollars and realized that it is normal . . . (although still the most expensive food in town – remember the sit down Chinese buffet for $25?)
6- Enjoying Lunch
Here we are enjoying our meal.
7- My Friend Ronald
…and me with my good friend Ronald McDonald.
8- Very Old Orange
Here is an old orange that nobody ever took care of.  It wasn’t so orange after a month or so.  I finally threw it away but when I grabbed it it launched green dust everywhere!  It was really crazy!
9- Tie Collection
And last, but not least, my tie collection (several of you had asked what my ties are like).  I still have some originals to trade, but about half are from other missionaries and members.

Well, that’s it for now.  Have a great week and I’ll talk to you all soon!

Love,
Elder Carter

*There isn’t any water pressure here in Argentina so everyone has tanks on top of their houses and other buildings that require water.  All of the chapels have a water tower, but it still takes over eight hours to fill it up the font.  We should have started at 11:00 but we couldn’t because it was filled with bugs.  We started filling the font at 12:00 and it was still filling when we entered the font at 8:00 at night.  Hilda was baptized with the faucet submerged and still quietly filling it up.

Feed Me Please

July4

Wow, another great week!  We had a lot of great experiences, but with each passing one I am reminded of what Elder Bednar* said about spiritual experiences.   He said something like this, “It doesn’t matter how many spiritual experiences we have had, but rather how long it has been since we last received one.”  In other words, it doesn’t matter if we saw angels in our youth, baptized millions of people during our missions, or had a life changing experience in the temple, if we aren’t feeding our spirit right now, it is dying.  Here is another way to think of it: How you feel doesn’t depend on how healthy your Thanksgiving feast was or how much you ate on Sunday, but rather what you ate for breakfast.

Yesterday we had another spiritual experience.  We were worried about accomplishing our goals (which is very important for our progress).  We were short in finding two new people to teach, but there were more important things that we needed to do.  In between appointments, I looked at my companion and said, “Elder, it is Sunday night and we still need to find two people, when will we be able to do it?”  He responded that he had no idea which reflected exactly how I felt.  Nevertheless, we continued working hard.  We arrived at our second to last appointment and saw that there were two family members visiting who lived just down the street.  We were able to teach them and left the appointment feeling extremely blessed.  We thought that God was blessing us, but later we discovered His real purpose was to also bless another.

When we arrived at our last appointment, nobody was there.   We stood there in the dark trying to figure out the best thing to do.   Almost immediately we both thought of a recent convert to the church who lives nearby who didn’t make it to church.  We decided to see how she was doing.  We went and when she saw us she invited us in.

Her home teachers had come by earlier that day, but she had turned them away.  She explained to us that she didn’t want to come back to church.  There were many things that were going on and her life suddenly became extremely complicated.  Through the tears we spoke of opposition and difficulty, the Atonement, judgment, the Priesthood and many other things.  Before we left, she decided that she needed to return to church in order to receive help.

As we were walking home, I turned to my companion and said, “What a blessing that we were able to go to her house instead of looking for two new investigators.”  He quickly agreed.  We had arrived in the perfect moment in order to help her with what she was going through.  Our Heavenly Father not only guided us, but also prepared everything leading up to that moment.  Our entire week had turned out so that we were able to complete all of our goals except two people and those two people were waiting for us in the house right before we were able to visit the recent convert.  Not only that, but our investigators who normally receive us got home late which left us free to visit someone in need.  All of this coupled with a spirit-filled lesson left us feeling grateful for the direction, mercy, and wisdom of the Lord.

It was a great experience, and we have similar experiences every week – but they aren’t what will sustain me throughout the rest of my life.  The feelings that I felt yesterday will eventually fade away. . . as they always do**.  It doesn’t matter how strong of an experience we have had, we need to continue “feeding” our spirit through new experiences, daily study, regular attendance, and consistent prayers.  Through years of spiritual “diet and exercise” we will become stronger and eventually be prepared to return to the presence of our Father in Heaven.  It is hard, but I know that it’s worth it.  I hope that you all have a great week and I can’t wait to see you all soon!

Love, Elder Carter

*I think that it was Elder Bednar.  If anyone knows which talk I am referring to (I think it was in the talk about how “Faith has a short shelf life”, please confirm who said it and what they actually said.  Until then, the principle is the same =D.

**Experiences like this never entirely fade away, but they are much less help to us than our “daily spiritual food”.  In other words, my meal from last month might have helped me to grow stronger (and is physically integrated into a part of me), but won’t serve to give me the energy that I need for my daily activities.

Reality

June27

What a great week!  We worked hard and were also able to find a couple of new families!  Each day I see God’s hand more and more in this work.  It is fantastic to see how spiritual and temporal things start to blur together once you think about it.  Everything in our “physical” lives depend wholly on what is happening to us “spiritually”.  The big difference for us is that we can’t normally see what is going on spiritually and so we base our entire reality on what our physical eyes are seeing.  It is like the monitor that I am looking at right now (yes, and yours, too!)  I can see a bunch of things: the text that I am typing, the clock, different windows, other programs waiting to be opened, etc.  What I don’t think about is everything “behind the monitor”  The processor, the different inputs and outputs, the RAM, the millions of other computers connected to mine through the Internet.  What I am seeing is caused by billions of other things happening in the background that I can’t see.

It is the same with us, our spiritual lives dictate what happens in our physical lives.  Our physical lives are like the monitor.  We think that we can see everything that is happening because we have the whole screen within our view.  We can study every single pixel and learn millions of things about the interface . . . but the monitor isn’t really doing anything other then presenting what is happening with everything that we can’t see.  It is the same with our physical and spiritual lives . . . we only see what is happening physically, but it is all caused spiritually.

If I choose to do anything, it is my spirit that is causing me to do that.  All of the different feelings that I have – from guilt, to joy, even sickness, is affected by my spirit and also has an effect on my spirit.  I can’t play violent video games and expect it to not have an effect on my spirit.  I can’t get sick without creating spiritual changes.  My worthiness has a huge effect on my spiritual and temporal well being.

Why was everything created spiritually before they were created physically?  Why does a spiritual tree need to exist before a physical one can grow?  How do miracles take place on physical objects?  How can God soften someone’s heart while respecting their agency?  How am I affected spiritually based on my daily physical actions?

Almost every single day this past week, the subject of temples came up.  It caused me to think a lot.  Before my mission, my brother, Daniel, was looking up the symbol of the circle in the square that is on the outside of almost every temple.  He read that the circle means heaven and the square is the earth.  The temple is where they intersect.  There we can learn of spiritual things.  It helps us in our spiritual as well as our temporal lives.  The principles taught there are eternal and will help us to progress in several ways.  I long to be in the temple, but there isn’t one in my mission.  Our area president (and several apostles, I think) explained that we should always have a current temple recommend – whether we are going to the temple right away or not.  Many people here can’t go to the temple right away because of their financial situation.  It is difficult, but many of them have plans to go next February.  We have encouraged them to receive a temple recommend right away.  If you don’t have a temple recommend, set up an interview in the next week!  For those of you who live close to a temple, GO!  Growing up, the temple was one block away.  I saw the temple out of my bedroom window.  I went every once in a while, but I didn’t take full advantage of it.  I am not saying that we should all go every day – and I don’t want to set a limit either because it depends on your circumstances.  I do know, however, that many local and general authorities go about once a week (and many have set a specific day and time).  Like I said, it is different for everyone, but I do know that God knows how often you should go.  Determine what is best for you and then set a goal.  Take your goal before the Lord to see if it is right.

In a talk that I recently read about prayer, it explains that our prayers will be more meaningful if we seek the Lord’s will with a desire to do it.  In our last conference, Sister Northcutt explained that in consecrating our lives to the Lord, we never lose anything.  We do have to do things that we don’t want to – but that is the point!  In doing what He wants instead of what we want, everything turns out better!

Anyway, I hope that you all take my challenge seriously.  I really miss the temple, but I know that my time here is short.  I am still working hard and I hope that you are all doing the same back at home.  It is worth every second!  I love you all so much and I can’t wait to see you all very soon!

Love,
Elder Carter

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