Elder Carter's Argentinian Mission

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

Authentic Argentine Photographs

April11

What a great week! We worked hard and it really paid off! Many people are preparing for their baptisms and it is a privilege to be able to witness it. Everyone who has been baptized is doing great and they are faithfully sharing the gospel with everyone around them. Sometimes it makes me wonder, they are teaching me way more then I have taught them. This is one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I can’t wait to see what these next months bring.

In other news . . . I haven’t sent pictures (other then a couple from the baptism) in a while. Now I have tons of pictures that I wanted to share. I decided to dedicate this post to “Authentic Argentine Photographs” (name provided in part by Larry the Cucumber). I hope that you enjoy them!

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Here I am at Pablo Vilca’s house. We were waiting for my companion to get out of the bathroom so I decided to take his camera for a spin. Isn’t it great?

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I found this in Pablo’s bathroom. It is a new brand “Él Vive” with the subheading “Reparacion Total”. That translates to “He Lives! Repair Completely!”. I thought it was a great lesson on the redemptive and healing power available through the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

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This is called “Planta del Aire” or “Air Plant”. Why does it have such a strange name you ask? Because it lives purely off of air! Crazy huh? They are all over the power lines here (the cables in-between telephone poles). They live on nothing, but yet keep growing. They are like the cockroaches of the plant world (but much more sanitary and less annoying)!

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This was a nice little spider that we found in our kitchen. And yes, it was huge. Don’t worry, there are more coming up!

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I saw this little piece of art when I came into our English Class. Does it look familiar? Ha ha!

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This is Elder Kingsford (during divisions). He saw a really random sign and pulled that face. Yes, this is a reproduction…but the original was identical. Sadly, I was too caught up laughing and forgot what the sign said. I hope it wasn’t important!

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Another great spider. This one was safely outside . . . and about the size of a pea. Much better!

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Here I am trying to buy three kilograms of mustard (6-7 pounds). Hot dogs, anyone?

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Another inspirational product. It says, “Leche con Fe”, which translated means, “Milk with Faith”. If only it were really that easy . . .

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This is a picture of Pablo as he is preparing to teach the gospel with us. He is a great help to us and served his mission in Buenos Aires several years ago.

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This is another strange looking bug. It is on my companion’s arm. This is a picture of his wrist with his palm down. I know that someone would ask me because it looks really weird (both the bug and his arm). The real intent of the picture was the bug though . . .

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This is a spider that we saw on some concrete. According to my companion, it looks exactly like the Pokemon “Spinarak”. I thought that was pretty cool even though I have never heard of it. It reminded me how exotic looking the animals are here! That is one thing I will definitely miss . . .

Also, I bet that you put your hand palm down to see if it looked like my companions in the last picture…Ha Ha!

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This is my companion trying to play pin the tail on the pig. We found out that some sneaky children can cheat while using a tie for a blindfold so we switched to a backpack. It was very effective!

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Here is a close-up of the pig. Why it was a pig instead of a donkey . . . I don’t know (it was a member’s game).  Also, why the pig looks the way it does . . . I don’t know either.

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This is the horizon at twilight. It looked a lot cooler in real life . . . but you will just have to use your imagination . . . or come to Argentina =D

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This is a concrete staircase that doesn’t look very standards compliant. I give it 1/10 for safety and 10/10 for creativity.

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Here I am with my companion.  And yes . . . we always look this happy.

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This is another weird bug. It had crazy shimmering blue and green colors as it was flying. Luckily, it stopped long enough to take a picture.

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This is Ezekiel with Augustine in the background. They were borrowing my camera during an activity and this is what what I got (along with dozens of other random pictures).

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This is a bridge that is about to fall apart in our area. We think that it is fairly sturdy because we use it all the time…other people say that it is going to collapse soon. Luckily it is only a two story drop.

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This was our meeting place for General Conference. It is wall art with the Trinity on the left and a saying on the right that reads, “My God, you are my refuge and my strength…my aide in times of anguish”.

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Here we are at conference making pizza with the branch. It tasted pretty good even though it was just cooked in the microwave. I invented the recipe myself. All you need is half of a pizza crust with sauce, cheese and pepperoni. Put it in the microwave for 2 minutes and 22 seconds. Then cut and serve… bon appetit!

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We had a great find at the fruit stand last week. It was a double banana! Twice the deliciousness with half the price!

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This was the latest activity. It is called “Pop everyone else’s balloon before they pop yours!” It was lots and lots of fun. I am in the picture trying to pop the balloon of one of our investigators named Juan Marcelo.

Anyway, that is about it for now. I hope that you all enjoyed the pictures. Keep pushing forward and enjoy the journey! I look forward to hearing all of your adventures soon!

Love,
Elder Carter

Sardines

April4

What a great week! My highlight (and probably yours, too) was definitely general conference. All of the missionaries have been looking forward to this day for the past six months – and it finally came! It didn’t let us down either. It was my last general conference here in Argentina…the next conference I’ll be at home with my family*! Here is what happened…

We have been giving out invitations to those who could benefit from conference (aka: EVERYONE) and have been talking about it in every single lesson that we had. We were really excited and so were our investigators. The big day finally arrived and we got together several hours before conference at our meeting-point. We had a large van to take anyone that needed a ride. I didn’t count how many people got in the van, but Elder Kingsford later estimated that there were about 50. I think that was about right. Many others didn’t fit (like us missionaries) so we took a taxi. As we were driving down the small freeway, we looked out our window to see the van with several people smashed against each window. It was funny, but also very inspiring! As they saw us pass by, they all smiled and waved (those that could wiggle their arms a little). It was amazing to see them all so faithful to go hear the word of the Lord. It reminded me of how President Thomas S. Monson spoke of the sacrifices that many members took to visit the temple. Many of us have been so blessed in terms of access to the words of living prophets. It is a blessing that very few in the history of the world have had – yet millions would have given their very lives for. I hope that we are never slothful nor ungrateful for the easiness of the way. We should each evaluate the importance that we give to this choice opportunity and responsibility.

When we finally arrived, we saw the chapel quickly filling and within several minutes, the chapel was full. The members quickly filled the overflow rooms, standing areas, hallways, English room (converted to Spanish), and even the secretary’s office. It was a crazy yet wonderful experience. I found out later that members had sacrificed to come from all over Jujuy (13 wards and branches) because this chapel is the only one with a satellite dish in the entire province. I never realized I was so blessed to hear the prophet in my whole entire life. Those who came to conference reminded me of the Pioneers of the early church, but instead they are “The Pioneers of Argentina” =D. I know that we all have different trials and I admire this people for conquering theirs. I pray that I can do the same in my sphere and circumstances.

Now, there is one last thing that I wanted to touch on before closing. My two favorite talks. The first was the talk by Elder Dallin H. Oaks on our Desires:

“Desires dictate our priorities, priorities shape our choices, and choices determine our actions…The desires we act on determine our changing, our achieving and our becoming…When we have a vision of what we can become, our desire and our power to act increase enormously.”

The other one that I really enjoyed was by Elder David A. Bednar:

“Most frequently, revelation comes in small increments over time and is granted according to our desire, worthiness and preparation… the fundamental truths of the restored gospel were not delivered to the Prophet Joseph Smith all at once in the Sacred Grove…[if you haven’t witnessed ground shaking revelations or experiences], know that you are quite normal. Just keep pressing forward obediently and with faith in our Savior.”

I hope that you all enjoyed the conference and are already reviewing your notes to set your plans and goals for this upcoming six months. My 6 month plans are extremely complicated because I will first be a missionary and then I will need to reintegrate into “not-full-time-but-still-a-member-missionary-life” before next conference. Watching and listening to the Spirit has helped me not only organize my thoughts, but also bring peace to my soul. I know that these next few months are going to be amazing and I can’t wait to see what the Lord has in store for me. I know that he is helping me in every footstep and that he has many more great things planned for my immediate and distant future. May we all be worthy for the blessings and prepared for the opportunities that He is so anxious to bless us with! I love you all so much! Have a great week and I look forward to talking to you all soon.

Love,
Elder Carter

*It is really bittersweet saying this. I really enjoyed the privilege of watching general conference with our recent converts to see the excitement in their faces as they hear the living prophet. It is also an amazing experience to see our investigators learning basic gospel principles at the feet of prophets. On the other hand, I cannot express how excited I am to see my family and be able to hug them all again. I look forward to that day with all of my heart!

Changing Hearts

March28

Hello everyone!

Thank you all so much for your prayers on behalf of Maria Cruz. She was baptized last Saturday and it was AMAZING! I wish I could explain how happy she was to be able to be baptized… It was definitely worth every extra bit of effort! Here is how the miracle worked out:

As I explained last week, her mother had told her to wait for two more years before she could get baptized. Maria tried to talk to her and her mother got really angry. As I also explained, we had an appointment to speak with her on Tuesday. When we went by, she refused to talk to us. She told us to come by on Sunday, but we knew that it would be too late and make it much more difficult for Maria to be baptized. We said that we would try to come by in a moment that she wasn’t busy in the upcoming days. We started to pass by in every bit of spare time that we had during the day. For the next couple of days, we visited their house about every 4 working hours. After being turned away every single time, we started getting really worried – but this is where the magic happened. . .

We started a special fast from Thursday to Friday. Right after ending our fast, we went by to see her again. We clapped the door and she came out. “My daughters have said that you wanted to talk to me,” she said. We explained that it would be great if we could come in and talk. She surprisingly invited us inside and we started praying silently as we entered the house. We sat down and asked if we could sing her a song. We decided to sing “Have I Done Any Good In The World Today” followed by “Nearer My God To Thee”. Gratefully, we could feel the Holy Ghost there with us to accompany our plea. We said a simple yet fervent prayer with them and then we started talking. We offered to help the family in any way that we could and she took us up on the offer. Then I spoke to her of agency and of how much Maria has grown since she started attending church. Her mother agreed and said that she has seen her improve in many ways. Then, I finally explained how deeply Maria wanted to be baptized – her mother admitted that she knew that Maria wanted to be baptized and said with a smile, “I will support her in her decision. What do I need to do?” We were left almost speechless! We didn’t need any convincing, or begging, or anything! She simply offered her complete support. I explained how the baptism would work and invited them all to witness it on Saturday (the whole family ended up coming to support her). As we left the house, I looked at my companion, “You know that what we just saw was a complete miracle, right?” I asked him. “That was amazing,” came his reply.

I know that what had happened was a direct answer to fasting and prayer. I know that many of you prayed and because of your prayers her heart was softened. I don’t know exactly what our Father in Heaven did to help Maria’s mother make the choice that she did. . .but I do know that it was a complete “180 degree” change from where she was several days earlier. It was nothing short of a miracle. Immediately after Maria was baptized, I looked up out of the font and saw her mother almost in tears. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I know that Maria will be able to bless the lives of everyone in her family and might even be the example that will lead them into the waters of baptism themselves.

Felix, Augustine, and Ezequiel were also baptized. It was also amazing! They are in the pictures below. Karina decided to wait until her mother decides to witness her baptism. I know that she will also be baptized when the time is right. It was definitely a week to remember!

I really do appreciate all of your prayers and support! You are all doing much more then you realize! I love you all so much! Have an amazing week!

Love,
Elder Carter

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This is a picture us right before the baptism on Saturday
From Left to Right: Ezequiel Aima, Augustine Yurkina, Felix Flores, Elder David Kingsford, Elder Nathan Singer, Me, Maria Cruz, Elder Zion Carrillo

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Here we are with all of their families and a couple of members from the branch. Enjoy!

“¡Hola!” from the Sunny South =D

March21

Wow! The weeks are just flying by! I can’t believe it! It seemed like yesterday I was writing letters last P-Day. Thanks so much for all of your emails! You are all super awesome. Everything is going great here in the “Sunny South” (by Sceggy). The weather is cooling off and I have several reports that things are warming up back at home. Life is so good! Ahh…

I feel so great today. Yes, I feel amazing everyday…but I am feeling extra blessed today! I don’t know what it is, but I just feel fantastic! This gospel is so great and helps us to be so happy! I just wanted to say, keep pushing forward because everything good is always worth the effort. Our Heavenly Father loves us so much and he is doing everything he possibly can to help us be happy. Just follow what He says because it will always bring you more joy!

I realized that I haven’t talked too much about our investigators and several of them are getting baptized this weekend. Time to meet them!

The first is Karina Arjona. I wrote about her last week (about being an example). She is ready to be baptized this Saturday but is still really nervous. We are going to go visit her in a couple of hours*. Karina has been working towards her baptism for a really long time and we asked her to share her testimony this Sunday (because we were in charge of organizing the sacrament meeting program). It was completely amazing! She shared that she has been through a lot of good but also difficult times in the church. She said that she keeps coming because of how she feels when she comes. She ended by saying that she has grown to know that the Church is true and that is why she made the very difficult decision to be baptized.

Next is Maria Cruz. She is a super example to me. She has been reading a lot in the Book of Mormon (she is in the Isaiah chapters in Second Nephi). She attends every single week and always has a huge smile. She was going to get baptized on Saturday but we have run into a small difficulty. Her mom has known about her baptism, but the other day she said that Maria needs to wait two more years before she can get baptized. That is a very long time to wait without the companionship of the Holy Ghost. It is especially challenging because she has already made the decision to be baptized so Satan will be putting lots of obstacles in her path. We are going to talk to her mother tomorrow and hopefully everything will work out. With regard to that, I have a huge favor to ask all of you. Please pray to soften her heart so that she will let Maria be baptized and also let us teach her (she needs the gospel just as much as her daughter!). Thank you all so very, very much!!!!

Also, we have been teaching Felix. He is in Chijra and Elder Singer and I found him before Elder Kingsford got here. We were teaching him as a trio and now he is finally getting baptized. He has already read the entire Book of Mormon and is in Mosiah on his second time around. He has an awesome testimony and has a very deep understanding of gospel principles. He has completely immersed himself in the gospel and I have a feeling that he will serve a mission (he is 22 and needs to wait one year as a member before he can serve). I hope that he gets called to Utah so I can teach with him! He is completely amazing!

The last two, Ezequiel and Agustin, (also from Chijra) are boys from a part member family. They have been coming to all of the activities (fun night, English class, etc.) and have progressed a lot! It will be a blessing for them to be able to grow up in the gospel. They have already helped their families so much by their examples. Their family was less active, but the two boys are like little lights that help their family follow Christ. They have helped me realize that anybody can help those around them no matter how big or small they are. Everyone has a chance to touch the lives of others!

We will be working hard to help them all make it to their baptisms. This will be a difficult week for each of them (as I explained when I was in Santiago del Estero). I am just as nervous as any of them, but I know that they will each be blessed if they do everything that they can to progress. Please keep them in your prayers. I love each one of them so much and I can’t wait to see what Heavenly Father has in store for them! Thank you all so much for all of your support! Have a great week and I look forward to hearing from you all soon!

Love,
Elder Carter

*For those of you that are wondering, our preparation day isn’t an entire 24 hours… it is actually just 7.5 hours. But that is alright, working is actually extremely enjoyable when you have the right attitude!

Fun Pictures!

March14
Hello everyone!
Here are some pictures that I have taken recently… I hope that you enjoy them!  Have a great week!
Argentine Lizard
This is a lizard that we found wandering around our apartment.  He is really nice and very fast (Elder Carrillo was the lucky one who caught him).
Body Building
This is what happens if you use your 30 minutes of exercise wisely in the morning.
Elder Carrillo

 

Elder Kingsford

 

Elder Singer
Here are some pictures of the other three elders in the pension. (Okay, they don´t really look like that…but I thought it was funny anyway!)
FHE Team 1

 

FHE Team 2
Here are the two teams from a ward activity called Fun Night.  We played charades, pictionary, puzzles, and mind tricks.  It was really fun and my team won!  Luckily, we shared the prize (homemade carmel popcorn, candies, and punch).
Giant Mosquitos
Here is one of the giant mosquitos that live with us (again, caught alive by Elder Carrillo).
Our View
This is the view from our apartment.  It is even better from the hill looking down.
Salt Lake Temple Puzzle
This is probably the only scale model of the Salt Lake Temple in Jujuy!  Cool huh?  It was a puzzle that came as three perforated cardboard sheets…genius!
Love,
Elder Carter


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Be Thou An Example

March14
Wow!  What a great week!  We were able to meet tons of new people, and there are several that are preparing to be baptized in the upcoming weeks.  It truly is a great day to be a missionary!

 

One of the highlights this week happened after church yesterday.  We were there “mingling” with the members and investigators (one of the best times of the week) and Karina Arjona came to talk with us.  She has been attending church for the last six months but for various reasons, hasn’t yet taken the step to be baptized.  We have been visiting with her and trying to help her make that important decision, but it just wasn’t enough.  We had tried almost everything (which is what makes what I am about to say so miraculous)!

 

Karina had a huge smile on her face as she came over to talk with us.  She blurted out that she wanted to be baptized on March 26th and wondered who she was going to be baptized with.  Wow!  We were absolutely blown away!  She was completely ready to be baptized, but we didn’t know what had made such a huge change.  We pointed out the several other people there at church who were preparing to be baptized.  She talked with us for a few more minutes and then excused herself so she could talk with the other investigators preparing to be baptized.  We couldn’t help but have huge smiles ourselves.

 

As we wondered what had made the huge change, we realized that several of the Young Single Adults had been visiting her recently.  We don’t know what they said, but as they became her friends her spark grew into a huge flame.  They had been exactly she was looking for!  I know that they didn’t pressure her into being baptized, but through their examples and support, she found what she needed in order to take such an important step.

 

As missionaries, it is exactly the same.  I have noticed that what I do is largely influenced by what my companion does.  It is unconscious, but I am very much affected by him and the other missionaries.  Their traits, good or bad, have an effect on me.  Although I am 100% in control and responsible for my own actions, I am largely influenced by the people that surround me.

 

Choose wisely who you surround yourself with.  Look at them and ask yourself if that is where you want to be in 5 years.  It is very likely that you will become like those around you.  The reverse is also true.  In our lives, we have the opportunity to exert a “Positive Peer Pressure” or rather a “Supportive Example” to those around us.  Are you the kind of person that uplifts and edifies those around you, or are you weighing them down?  There is no middle ground and no preventing the influence that we have on others.  Our mere existence and daily contact has a large effect on others…make sure it is a good one.  It isn’t just good advice, but also a commandment, “be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12).  All of you have been great examples for me and I am so grateful to you all for helping me progress and be better.  Just remember, there is always a little bit more that we can do.  As Gordon B Hinckley once said, “stand a little taller and be a little better”.  It is definitely worth it!  Have a great week!

 

Love,
Elder Carter

Have a Great Journey!

March7
Hello again!  This week was absolutely amazing!  My new companion is Elder Carrillo!  I was sad to split up the trio that I have been working with, but Elder Carrillo is a great missionary and I am excited for the extra time that I will be able to spend in my area (instead of working in two areas).  Also, I will still be living with Elders Singer and Kingsford so I think I will be all right =D.  One of the highlights of the week was the opportunity to visit the people in our area that we haven’t been able to see in a while.  It was awesome to see all of them again!

Elder Carrillo is from Tennessee but both of his parents are from Mexico.  They speak Spanish at home even though everyone in his family speaks English as well.  Because of that, he doesn’t have an accent in either language and most of the Argentines that we meet think that he is Mexican and most of the missionaries think he is a Gringo.  If you ask him – he usually says he is Mexican and sometimes says he is Gringo…it really just depends on the day – ha ha.  His passion is break dancing and competes with people all around the country.  He showed me a video that he has on his camera and he is really talented.  I am super excited for the upcoming months because he is an awesome missionary and is very excited about the work.  Sorry, but I don’t have any pictures yet…I’ll be sure to send some in the next week or two.

There was one thing that happened this week that I wanted to share.  The Ramoa family (who were recently baptized) had their father pass away last Wednesday.  We visited them before he passed away and offered a priesthood blessing which comforted him a lot.  Afterward, we went to see the family again to see how they were doing.

While we were talking, I was surprised how deeply it had impacted them.  I know that it is hard when you lose someone because you are physically separated from them for a time, but I was amazed at how much they were affected.  As we visited, I realized that they hadn’t made the connection with what we had taught them about the plan of salvation and what had just happened.  I felt strongly that we needed to talk about where he had gone.

We pulled out a timeline of eternity and started asking them questions.  We talked about the different phases of the plan – what happened when we were born, and what will happen when we die.  We explained the state that he was in, where he is, and what he is able to do.  We also spoke a lot about the temple and the Holy Ghost.  I have never had a lesson quite like it before.

An interesting thing happened as we were teaching.  They started pondering about life and as they thought, the Holy Ghost came and testified to them of what we were sharing.  They started looking forward with hope and their faces started shining again.  By the end, they were filled with the conviction to “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ” (2 Nephi 31:20).  It was completely amazing to see the change that came over them.  We encouraged them to keep reading and attending church.  Monica looked at us and said (paraphrased), “We got baptized at the perfect moment.  The help that God has given us at this time in our lives is exactly what we needed and there is nothing that can stop us from pressing forward.  Our happiness and hope is through the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

I was deeply impacted by what had happened.  I never realized how much the gospel helps me in every aspect of my life.  I know who I am, my purpose, and where I am going.  I also have a complete knowledge of what is needed to bring lasting happiness and know where to turn for help in times of need.  I took the gift that my Heavenly Father had given me for granted because I didn’t know the impact that it has had on everything that I do.  Now I know that without the gospel of Jesus Christ, I would be lost…but through applying what I know, I can experience the greatest of joys in my journey back into God’s presence.

We have been blessed with so much knowledge and gifts to help us through this life.  Thank Him every day for that which he gives you and seek each day more of that which He is so willing to give.

Thank you all so much for all that you have done for me.  You are all such great examples!  Stay strong and have a great journey!

Love,
Elder Carter


Ramoa Family Pictures

February28

Picture time again!

I was going to send some pictures of us hauling roofing supplies and also of our trip to Humawaca, Jujuy…but I don’t have very much time left.  Here are the most important ones =D

This is the Ortiz-Ramoa family.  They are absolutely wonderful and have been working towards their baptism for a little while now.  This past Saturday they were all able to be baptized together.  They each have huge testimonies and are great examples to me of changing everything in order to follow Christ’s example.  They are always willing to make and keep the commitments that we give them which shows that they are well on their way to visit the temple someday soon!
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Here we are all in white!  From left to right we have:  Me, José Daniel (like my brother-in-law!), Luis Fernando, Monica Elizabeth, Brenda Mariana, Elder Kingsford, and Elder Singer.  Fernando is holding Mariana’s son and and Monica is holding her granddaughter in the next picture.
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This is a picture of us with many of the ward members that attended the baptism.  It was a great experience, and I know that they will be great members of the church!  They are amazing!

Anyway, my time is up, but I look forward to hearing from all of you soon!  Have a great week!

Love,
Elder Carter

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Saving families . . .one home at a time!

February28

This was an absolutely great week!  I am still working hard with Elders Singer and Kingsford because my companion still hasn’t arrived (sigh…) but I know that our Father knows what he is doing.  In any case, it is lots of work trying to be in two areas but it is worth it.  It is lots of fun and definitely a challenge – also, I love the two companions that I have so much!

Anyway, two great things happened this week – the first is the baptism which I will share with the pictures.  The second was that we saved a house from being destroyed!  What an exciting (and yet very stressful) week!

It all started after one of our lessons.  We taught the family of one of our investigators but their mom stayed outside.  It was a fairly normal lesson and after our prayer we walked outside.  I immediately saw their mother standing there with a worried look on her face.  We said goodbye to everyone and walked over to say hello to her.  She kindly greeted us and then started explaining what had happened earlier that day.  She was visited by the owners of the material that she had used to build her house.  They explained that they were there to take their materials back which would completely destroy her house in the process (they would take the roof, doors, windows, and cinder blocks which would leave nothing behind).  The only way that she could save her house would be to pay the full amount before Saturday.

She explained in tears that she didn’t have any savings and didn’t know what she was going to do.  It looks like she didn’t have many options at all and was turning to us for help…

There we stood…speechless and helpless.  We were teachers and definitely not qualified to help in this area, but here she was searching for anything that could help.  We started brainstorming and got a couple of ideas of where we could start.  We went to work asking different people for help and trying to find the best solution.  We tried everything from extending the deadline to finding donated materials.  Every last thing that we could think of!  We prayed a lot and Heavenly Father helped us and their family out more then I could imagine and we finally came to a very creative and effective solution involving five different groups of people.  Afterward, we met with everyone and they all had smiles on their faces as they shook our hands and thanked us.  It really wasn’t us, it was our loving Father in Heaven that saved their home.

Now, I explained all of that really fast because what I really wanted to get to was the moral of the story.  The problem was created by procrastinating.  I am not trying to belittle anyone because anyone who knows me will tell you that I was the king of procrastinating before my mission – I am sharing this to demonstrate a point.

The family borrowed the materials thinking that the deadline would never come.  They were unaware of when the owners would ask for a just compensation, but they knew that it would come.  But, we know that someday, all of our debts will come to a close and everything that we have done in this life must be accounted for:

“And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.” (Alma 34:33)

There is only one way to prevent a tragic ending – act now!  If we had showed up 48 hours later, I am certain that the family which we helped would not have had a house.  I know that we were sent by God and that what happened was supposed to happen, but what are we to learn from it?  What if the consequences weren’t just physical and temporary but rather spiritual and eternal?  What are we doing in our lives in order to prepare for that day because today is what God has given us to prepare for eternity (Alma 34:32).  I know that you are all awesome people.  I love each and every one of you… but I also know that none of us are perfect.  Look for what is holding you back and change it today!  It is way more then worth the effort and you will be eternally grateful for your decision.  Just do it!  Now, I know that my words aren’t very convincing, so I’ll borrow another quote that I love from the Book of Mormon:

“And now, my brethren, I wish from the inmost part of my heart, yea, with great anxiety even unto pain, that ye would hearken unto my words, and cast off your sins, and not procrastinate the day of your repentance*.” (Alma 13:27)   * In other words, changing and improving.

I hope that you all have a great week!  Thank you all so much for everything!  I love you all tons and tons!  And remember to keep improving!!!

Love,
Elder Carter

The Bonds of Love

February21

This week was absolutely fantastic!  We were able to work much more efficiently (thank goodness) and the fruits of our labors more than offset our effort (which is no surprise – it is always like that when you are working on the right team!).  If everything goes well, I will be able to send pictures of my new companion next week (he has a 50% chance of coming in tomorrow).  For now, you will just have to make do with the three of us – ha ha.

I also want to share really quickly something that happened this past week.  We were planning for our week and during each weekly planning session, we end with a companionship inventory.  We started off by setting goals together and giving each other constructive suggestions for improvement.  Then, we have the opportunity to share what our companion’s strengths are and different things that we have learned from them.

As we started to share with one another a warm spirit filled the room.  As we explained what we enjoyed and had learned from one another, I realized that I had grown to love these missionaries in working with them for two short weeks.  I started thinking about the people that we teach and I realize that within a couple of lessons, we become very attached to them, too.  I start worrying about them – if they are reading and praying, how they feel, will they come to church, how is their family, etc.  Then I realized something else as Elder Singer was talking about President Northcutt the other day.  He said that it will be really hard for the President to end his mission because he has become very attached to us as missionaries.  Many times when he hears us sing he will start to get emotional and you can tell that he loves us as he speaks with us in our interviews.

These three observations really impacted me this past week.  Where one was lost in Christlike service to another, he developed a bond of love that is incredibly strong.  It doesn’t take years to develop, all it takes is a heartfelt concern for the well being of another.  We should create these strong bonds with everyone around us.  As we do, we will be able to be more support to them in times of need, and they will also be able to help as we struggle with our own challenges.  This is what God wants for us just as it says in Ecclesiastes 4, “Two are better than one…for if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow.”  Also, life is better with love and without others, life becomes empty and void.

Remember to lift and serve all those around you.  Become lost in the service of others and you will find yourself in the process (Mark 8).  Also, thank you all for everything you have done and are doing to help me.  All of your love and prayers are helping me so much while I am serving here.  I hope that you all have an amazing week and I can’t wait to hear from you all soon!

Love,
Elder Carter

P.S.  Here are the pictures as promised!

Elder Kingsford found a new friend at our investigators hous and they made such a great pair!

Elder Kingsford found a new friend at our investigators house and they made such a great pair!

Here we are confirming some plans.  The mission is full of plans and goals!

Here we are confirming some plans.  The mission is full of plans and goals!

Here we are while welcoming people to English Class... also lots of fun!

Here we are while welcoming people to English Class… also lots of fun!

This is a sculpture that we found after coming back from our pday activity.  It looks like a heart with some faces coming out of it on top of a llama.  I am not quite sure what it is.

This is a sculpture that we found after coming back from our P-day activity.  It looks like a heart with some faces coming out of it on top of a llama.  I am not quite sure what it is.

This is how we look  in our natural habitat.  We were actually having too much fun with the new smile detection on my camera.

This is how we look  in our natural habitat.  We were actually having too much fun with the new smile detection on my camera.

We had a new activity at the church called fun night... here we are with our fun faces on!

We had a new activity at the church called fun night… here we are with our fun faces on!

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