Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Good bye Villa Maria

Dear Family,

Mom and Alex its so good to hear that you got back safely and that all went well. It is so weird to think we were semi close this past week.  I cant wait to hear a little bit more about all that happened.

This was my last week in Villa Maria.  I've been transferred! It was sad, but good. To be honest I kinda had a feeling that i was getting transferred. So right now I am in Dean Funes. Its about 3 hours north of Capital. Took me about 7 hours to get here. I was so blessed today. I loved seeing some of the greenie greenie missionaries in the Terminal in Cordoba. My companions name is Elder Robles. He is from Santiago Chile. I like him a lot. I can tell he is a good worker and really focused. I hope to learn lots from him.  Downside-- There is only us 2 in Dean Funes or in other words we never see anyone else haha. I'm going to forget English!  I guess that's OK.  Hopefully mom and Alex learned some Spanish in Nicaragua. I like the area. I already met the branch pres. He is a missionary also from Buenos Aries. He is way cool.

My last week in VM was really great. I got to do a intercambio with Elder Anderson for a day. It was Awesome. It was way hard to leave Elder Anderson. He has been right by my side since July 27th. There is no mission without him. I'll miss him so much. I know that we were so supposed to be together though. You wouldn't believe if you knew how much we had in common. Its pretty crazy. I know the Lord kept him with me to help me. I hope that I helped him too.  Positive of leaving VM--our shower has now been broken for 2 weeks and so we have been showering on the roof with bottles. Some of us hint hint haha. It was so funny. Now I have a working shower though. Sunday was definitely the best day of the week. We were getting ready to start Gospel Doctrine and Elder Catala came running in and saying that Berta's daughter was here. I just ran out as fast as I could to see if she really was. And she was!! I couldn't believe it. Its a miracle. And she made the decision to come too. Berta couldn't believe it. She is so happy. So that's the first miracle of the week with Berta, the second is this. When we started teaching her she was fighting a lot with her only living daughter and they hadn't talked in along time. Well I guess Saturday night she called Berta and worked things out. The 3 problems we found Berta with aren't exactly gone you could say, but she can handle them and find joy in her life. The Atonement is so amazing.

I didn't think it would be that hard to leave the ward but it really was. They called me up to share my testimony and I could barely express my feelings. I felt the spirit so strong. I just love that ward so much. I feel like I really did my best to serve them, but I feel like I'm the one that benefited. They showed so much love and did so much for me. Sometimes I felt where have these people been my whole life? After Sacrament since it was 5th Sunday we all ate in the church. It was way nice to be able to talk to people and say goodbye. I really almost lost it when this little boy named Nemias got all teary eyed and kept asking "don't go Elder Watts".  I really couldn't talk the whole walk home. I love the little guy.

Here is a picture of some of the young men in the Villa Maria Ward:

Well guys thanks alot for everything. Hopefully this email gets to you haha :). Don't worry about me I'm doing excellent. I feel like this is the precise place i need to be in the precise moment.  I love you so much. Holy Cow 6 months. Can you believe it? Crazy. Too fast. Have a good week.
Love Riley

Riley's reference to Jana and Alex being close to him this past week was because they were in Nicaragua with Cause For Hope, a charitable organization that helps people in Central America become self reliant.  Riley went on a similar trip three years ago.  They had a great trip.  Here are a few pictures from their adventure: 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Lost email :(

Riley's email was short this week due to some technical difficulties on his end.  He said he spent 40 minutes writing an email and then it was all lost when he went back to his inbox to re-read an email he had received.  The draft of his first email wasn't saved and he ran out of time he is allotted each week to write emails.  Here is one short excerpt from his email this week:

Berta was baptized and confirmed! It was really awesome and really spiritual. I am so happy for her. A man in the ward baptized her. Its a really cool story but I don't have time. I gave the talk on the Holy Ghost and it went well.

He sent us the following picture as well:

Since I haven't posted anything for two weeks here is some of his letter from last week:

Well we had a good week this last week.  We put together a family night for the Ward on Friday night.  Elder Catala and I prepared a short lesson and then we asked a Hermana to do a game.  I'm not going to lie I went into it with ZERO confidence in the ward.  Because activities in the past have been such a wreck.  Also we are running on Argentine time, frustrating to say the least.  But, after about 20 minutes we had 40 people there.  It was so amazing.  I was so surprised ha ha.  I need to have more faith in our ward I guess.  It was a good lesson and then the Hermana had 4 games that were so fun!  She really came through big time.  Plus everyone brought food.  The Mollo family came, plus 3 other inactive families came. Berta came too. It was really great. 

As for Berta she is doing awesome!  She has made a 180 degree turn.  She is smiling. She laughs.  She gets herself ready in the morning.  One blessing that has come is that the Relief Society has really stepped up.  They went last week one day and brought the message from the Liahona "Forget Me Nots" along with the actual flower.  It was so awesome.  We went this morning and taught her for the last time before her baptism on Saturday.  2 more blessings came.  Number #1--- Sunday she always goes to the river, ( as every Villa Marian does).  When she was walking out the door to leave, Jessica said she wanted to go with. First time in 6 years. Amazing right?  She said she almost fainted.  Way happy for that.  Number #2--- She met a man.. She said that she just wants someone to talk with and have a nice friendship.  She quickly informed us that it doesn't go against the law of chastity.  So you could say that I learned an interesting phrase or two today ha ha.  I'm really excited for her though.  We are really being blessed. Thanks for your prayers and everything else. The Gospel is truly a blessing in our lives.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year Argentina Style

Hey Guys,
Happy New Year! I cant believe its 2012. It doesn't seem real.  We had a really great week here in Villa Maria. It was kinda hard to teach and stuff with everyone preparing for the Holiday, but I still have some good stories.  On Friday we helped an Investigator of Elder Anderson move houses.  It was crazy!  This lady has never thrown anything away in her house.  She used to be a doctor so it was really bad.  But, this time we had a truck so that was good. We just piled it completely full and then we all jumped on and hung on to all the furniture and boxes.  It was quite dangerous I thought.  We got some really funny looks going down the road ha ha.  We even moved a Dentist chair!  You have no idea how heavy those things are!  She said it took 5 men to move it in her house.  It was quite a struggle, but we got it into the truck and then into the new house.
Friday night was way awesome!  Down at the Costanera they had a firework contest.  The 4 biggest firework companies in Argentina put on the show. We watched it from our roof which is about 5-6 blocks away. It was so cool!  They really have some pretty awesome fireworks.  I guess the best stuff we didn't even get to see though.  Apparently before they filled up the costanera all the way they put lights under the water.  And get this, the members said that the company that won the competition made fireworks that skipped like rocks out on the Costanera and then blew up.  It sounded way cool.  Then Saturday night we went and played basketball at the park for a little bit and then went and got ice cream for the fireworks.  Right at 12 it seemed like every person in Villa Maria was letting off Fireworks.  It was way cool!  Every which way that you looked from the roof fireworks were going off. This went on until about 3 in the morning! 
As for Investigadors...
The boys are doing well.  They didn't come to church the last 2 weeks because they were up partying until about 7;30am.... But I think they are coming this week. This last week we taught the 10 commandments and the plan of salvation.  Teaching the 10 commandments was way funny.  Most people here only know about rob and kill.  So its funny to see their expressions about the others.  With every one of them Maxi would say, "Oh I didn't know that. That's good. " It was really funny.  Still have the law of chastity and the word of wisdom to go.  That will be tough.  But teaching with the spirit anyone can understand anything.  They are coming to the church to play soccer in a couple hours. 
I think I have told you about Berta right?  She is they lady that was taught for awhile but didn't get baptized because she was offended by a missionary.  About 5 months ago her daughter died.  She has had a really rough time through this first holiday.  What makes it even harder is that when her daughter died they were in a fight.  She feels like her daughter is still mad at her.  She has an adopted daughter named Jessica.  Jessica is 19 and has lots of problems.  She is really overweight.  Its sad.  And Jessica wont listen to the Missionaries and does not believe in God.  But we have had some good lessons with Berta this past week.  But she keeps saying that she doesn't want to get baptized.  Well that all changed this morning.  We were having a lesson and she was talking about her daughter and just that she isn't motivated to do anything. We were talking about the Holy Ghost and what a help it is for us. I had a really strong impression to share a scripture.  Alma 24:13-14 just popped into my head.  I had read this scripture about 1 week ago and thought it was really cool.  It talks about how Alma and his people are being persecuted and the Lord says the he will visit his people in their afflictions because they made a COVENANT with him ( baptism).  The next verse says that he will ease the burdens on their shoulders so they wont feel them.  It doesn't say that they will disappear, but be bearable.  What a perfect scripture!!  After sharing both our testimonies she said, I need to be baptized.  It was really cool.  I think that we had such a good lesson because we both specifically fasted for her and her daughter yesterday.  I have really grown to like fasting.  I find that I get so much more revelation when I'm fasting.  So we are working with Berta and I pray that I can see her be baptized.  We didn't set a baptismal date this morning because I didn't want her to feel like she is being pressured.  I want her to be happy and comfortable.  I want to see her smile more than anything. 
My first dog bite. When we went to Bertas house she opened up the door and her 3 dogs came charging at us.  They are tiny little things so I wasn't too scared ;), but one jumped up and just bit me right on the thumb ha ha.  I pulled out my hand really fast just in time to smack the other one with my scripture.  I sent that thing flying ha ha.  Like Ephesians says, the word of God truly is a Sword.  Didn't think Id have to use the Armor of God in that way.  It didn't hurt though so its all good.
I found a cool quote the other day.  It was a story about this sister missionary that turns a ward around by working with the members.  She has lots of success.  She says that " As missionaries we don't convince people into the church. We love them into it. Why is it not different with member missionary work?" So we have been doing just that. We have been stopping by and visiting the members more often. Some of the responses have been quite surprising. --- Oh Elders nobody visits us! Thanks for Coming! We love when you come by. I think that as we build up more trust and more than anything a relationship, we will see some more success. We are trying to do more service for the members. I mowed a lawn of this lady that has 2 giant dogs. Geez I though Indy was bad.....
Its getting really hot here!! Holy cow. We started sleeping on the roof just because inside its unbearable. Its way fun though.
Well I love you guys so much. Thanks for Everything! Every prayer means so much to me. I can never say thanks enough. I really can tell you that I know this is Gods work on earth. How lucky are we.