Elder Carter's Argentinian Mission

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

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

Yup . . . Transfers

June13
You know the saying, “I’m not losing a daughter, I’m gaining a son”?  Strangely enough, it describes exactly how I feel right now.

We have been working as a trio for the past two weeks in two different cities and two different wards.  It has been absolutely crazy, but also completely amazing.  As for the quote (above), Elder Serón got his new companion and won’t be working with us any more.  I am really going to miss him – but the good news is that his companion is here and is a really great missionary (it’s like gaining another son!).  His name is Elder Miranda and is from Peru.  He is really excited and has nine months in the mission.  That means that I am with three “young” Latino missionaries (The three of them have 15 combined months in the mission and I have over 21).  Their excitement is contagious and I know that the four of us will get along great!

Well, I haven’t written a lot about the work in the past couple of weeks so here is a quick overview*.  As a trio we worked really efficiently together (something that was more difficult in my last trio) and one of the main reasons is because we divided up the time and the responsibilities.  Everyone understood their part and completed it.  In our companionship and in our respective wards, I learned a lot about delegation and trust.  We had to coordinate a lot between ourselves and also between the members.  Also, one of the best things that I learned from this experience is that “You can delegate tasks but you can’t delegate responsibility.”

Almost everyone will agree to help you with the intention of completing, but committing them do do something doesn’t transfer the responsibility to them, but rather the task.  This is also in the scriptures.  Here are a couple of examples:

When the earth got to a certain point of wickedness, God needed to destroy the earth with a flood.  He called Noah to the task of warning the people (which he did for a VERY long time) and then when everyone had been given the chance to repent, He commanded Noah to build the ark.  God had delegated a task upon his servant, Noah . . . but who was the one who was responsible for saving the human race?  Noah had the task (and in some sense, the “responsibility” to complete his task), but God still had the responsibility of saving the human race even though He wasn’t in charge of completing the task.  In other words, if Noah didn’t build the ark God would still have the responsibility to look for someone else because he still had spirit children to be born on this world.

There are a couple of interesting things here:
  1. Noah still faced the consequences of fulfilling his task (had he not done it, he would have been punished).
  2. Noah was carrying the task while God carried the responsibility.
  3. God stayed in contact with Noah while he was building.
  4. God made sure that it got accomplished – no matter what.
From these three things we learn:
  1. There is responsibility for the assigned person on the “task level”.
  2. The one with the task is responsible to the delegator and the delegator is responsible for the outcome.
  3. There needs to be communication between the two parties (commitment, verification, follow-up, etc).
  4. The responsibility cannot be delegated and the outcome depends on the delegator.
There are many other examples in the scriptures with some of the most notable being the Creation, Moses leading the Israelites, the 2,000 stripling warriors, the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, etc.  In each one, there is a higher power guiding a lesser power and in many cases it gives the outcomes if they succeed through obedience or if they fail through disobedience.

Each of us play a leadership role in our lives.  There is no way to avoid it – but that is the beauty of it!  I am reminded of when I was doing my Eagle Scout Project and one of my leaders taught me something very important.  He said that the point of the project isn’t so that we work hard by ourselves, but rather to coordinate and help everyone to lift together.  When we do that, we can do much more then we can ever do alone.  We have been sent to earth in order to learn to become like our Father in Heaven through the example of His Son.  One of the great things that we must learn is to coordinate and manage to help everyone to lift together.  That is why we have been given marriages.  That is the point of families.  That is the purpose for quorums.  Everyone we associate with can help us to help others.  We have the responsibility to magnify what we have been given in life, and our associations with other people is one of those things.  Someday we will be held accountable for everything that we accomplish in our lives – each according to our capacity.  We will speak with our Father and also with everyone that we have (or could have) associated with.  Let us all do everything in our power to move God’s great work along in every way that we can.

“For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”

Thank you all so much for everything!  I love you all so much!  I hope you have an awesome week and do many great things!

Love,
Elder Carter

*PS  It was going to be a quick overview, but it turned out to be a sermon on delegation and coordination . . . I’ll talk more about our investigators next week.  If you would like to keep them in your prayers, we are focusing on three families:
  • The Galvan family (she is having some health difficulties and her daughter needs some motivation to attend with her)
  • The Ibañez family (they are progressing well, but are in a difficult financial situation)
  • The Rodrigez family (they are very excited, but are face obstacles each time they try to push forward)
Thanks so much!!!!  Take care!!!!

¡¡¡FELIZ NAVIDAD!!!

December20

Merry Christmas Everyone!!!

Last year was my first Christmas here in Argentina…and it was great!  I am really looking forward to Christmas this year because we will get to go caroling as missionaries (like last year) and there is plenty of holiday cheer.  We have a ward gift exchange, a zone gift exchange, and also packages from loving friends, neighbors, and family back at home.   There are plenty of decorations and we live in paradise (t-shirt weather)!   Some people say that Christmas is the most difficult time as a missionary, but it isn’t really that much of a sacrifice =D.

Anyway, I hope that you have a wonderful Christmas this year and always remember the purpose of it all.  I just want to quickly share three quotes from the Christmas devotional that Sceggy* sent me this morning:

“There is no better time than now, this very Christmas season, for all of us to rededicate ourselves to the principles taught by Jesus the Christ.” –President Thomas S. Monson

Our mission president (President Dan Northcutt) told us that we need to focus our whole lives and everything that we do on the Savior.   When we do, our lives become easier, filled with meaning and purpose, and we are better able to fulfill our Father’s plan and reach our divine potential.  It all starts with the dedication to learn of Christ and follow the principles that He taught.

“This little child, born in a stable and cradled in a manger, was a gift from our loving Heavenly Father.” –President Henry B. Eyring

Our Father in Heaven loves us so much!   He has given us everything without holding back.  Our Savior saw His example and followed it perfectly even to the giving of his own life.  Now it is our turn.  We must be willing to give everything for them and in return we will receive all things.  This is the glorious and perfect plan that our Father developed for us – because he loves you and me perfectly.

“If we look for the good, we can see this time of year with new eyes, perhaps even with the eyes of a child.” –President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Many times, a change of perspective is the biggest step in a change of heart.   Just as the eternal perspective that we gain in the Holy Temples gives us the knowledge that we need to progress, the pure and humble perspective that a child can teach us will help us to become more like our Savior.  Look for the things that you need to improve to become more like Him and with time you will eventually become all that He is.

Thank you all so very much for all of your support in every moment.  I really appreciate everything that you do.  Although we both wish that I was better at returning letters, I want to you all to know that I really do love each and every one of you.  Have a very special Christmas as we commemorate the birth of the Savior of us all.

Love,
Elder Carter

*Sceggy = Scott + Meggy.  Scott and Meghann Slaugh…half of my awesome sibilings (Kristen and Daniel Pereira is the other half…AKA Kraniel)

¡Sin Vergüenza!

July12

I didn’t make it!  Yup, transfer day again.  I got sent to Cuidad de Milagros (City of Miracles) which is an area inside of Salta Capital in Salta.  It was really hard to leave all of my friends in Santiago del Estero, but I am super excited for my new area.  My new companion is from Mexico and he seems like a really great missionary (Elder Avila).

Anyway, you are probably wondering what sin vergüenza means (and no, it has nothing to do with “sins”).  Well, it means “without embarrassment/shy-ness”.  The theme for today comes from Romans 1:16

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth…”

I don’t know if I have mentioned the Guerra family yet, but they are AWESOME!!!  Let me introduce you a little bit.  Carlos and Natalia Guerra are from Salta and they recently moved to Santiago del Estero with their toddler Alejo.  There they opened up a business selling exercise equipment in addition to their online business.  It grew rapidly and they are opening up another one in the neighboring city.  In Salta, they were very active in politics and know many different people in Argentina.  It is really great to be able to talk to them because they are educated and have great ideas.  They were only missing one thing… the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Well, the missionaries came along and luckily (as if luck really existed) found them sitting in the home of a recent convert (the Lazarte Family).  Betty Lazarte invited them over as a surprise and from there we started teaching them.  It seems that they knew that it was something good because they immediately started coming to church and went every week after that.  They studied and in a couple of months were baptized.  The amazing thing is what they did in the meantime…

It is often difficult to share new things with the people that you know because we often have fears of rejection or worse, tarnishing your reputation!  It is even more difficult for some people to share something as personal as religion in an area that is so strongly rooted in religious tradition.  Well, none of this seemed to matter to the Guerra Family.  They shared the gospel sin vergüenza!

One day we showed up to a lesson and we discovered that they brought some of their friends.  They weren’t even baptized but they wanted to share the message.  We started teaching a little bit about the plan of salvation to everyone.  When we got to the Atonement, Carlos couldn’t hold it in any more.  He started testifying about Christ and giving different examples that he recently heard in church.  On several other occasions he shared about Alma and Moroni and was always so excited to testify about our message.  Later on they asked us to come over to their business.  They didn’t have much time to leave for a lesson so they asked us to teach them right there.  There were people walking by as we taught and they could have easily shied away from the idea (especially with the opening and closing prayers in the front desk of their business*), but it didn’t matter to them!  They knew of the truthfulness of what we were saying and they weren’t about to hide it.  They are great examples to me and I won’t shy away from sharing the gospel with everyone.

We can all learn a little bit from their examples.  We all know thousands of people.  Ask yourself this question:  “How many people have I introduced to the missionaries?”  If your answer is less then 10% of your contacts (at least 100 people) then it looks like you can do a little bit more.  And now that we are talking about numbers, remember that God won’t ask you how your numbers were in the final judgment…but he will definitely hold us all responsible for the opportunities that we have been given.  We need to cease to be “ashamed of the gospel of Christ” and move forward “¡Sin Vergüenza!”

Thank you all so much for being such great examples to me!  I love you all so much and can’t wait to hear from you all soon!

Love,
Elder Carter

* Note:  Although it isn’t always appropriate and sometimes irreverent to pray in public, other times it can be a very good thing.  Just follow the spirit and you won’t go wrong!

Addendum:  I just left my last area after being there for 6 months.  In the move, I found a large stack of letters with half written replies dating back for months.  The two worst were Wade Wallin’s family and Courtney Dickson (both from January and both with half written replies).  I am so sorry!  Looks like I need to get writing (there are about 10 of you)… please forgive me.  Thanks again!  I love you all tons!  Keep being the great people that you are!

Quiz Answers **Don’t Read If You Still Want To Take The Quiz!

February22

Well, now is the moment you have all been waiting for!  You are all winners!  It turns out that you all tied for first place!  Isn’t that great!

I started writing the “Two Truths and a Lie” post last week and found out that I couldn´t lie!  When I tried to type something that was a lie, my fingers cramped up and I couldn´t do it.  It must be the calling… missionaries can´t lie!

Okay, I really could have lied if I wanted to… but there were so many funny things that I thought of, I didn´t want to leave any out.  So the truth is, the lie was in the instructions so that I could include 3 fun facts with each question rather then just two (“Three Truths and a Lie” just doesn´t sound as good…)

A-    I have a bunch of fun-facts about Argentina. (Truth)

B-    There are the three facts in each category. (Truth)

C-    Two are correct and one is a fib. (Lie)

So yes, everything was true… yes, strange but true!  My companions and I had lots of fun reading the responses of everyone.  As a bonus for winning the game, here is a picture of the all around most unbelievable fact according to the votes.  If you look closely at the sign, you will see that people here do, in fact, choose between normal fuel, super fuel, and jet fuel.  Cool huh?  Anyway, I love you all so much! Have a fantastic week

Love,

Elder Carter

jetfuelJet Fuel in Argentina!!

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