Monday, December 6, 2010

Oh, Amanda!

So regarding the 'Head Incident' ....
About a week ago my comp and I got home before the other hermanas, which is a miracle because that never happens. Typically, we get home last and the other ones are in their rooms planning and then we never see them until bed. They are a little anti-social, not because they want to be but because they are really shy and don't know how to mix with my comp
and I. One of them was my comp that was from Nicaragua.

So anyway, my comp thought it would be funny if we scared them when they came home so she ran and hid behind the door and then told me to jump under the bed. Mind you, I was across the room, so I ran and super slid under the bed. So to better explain what happened, I looked as if I was going on a slip and slide. Anyway, I made it under just fine from running across the room, but what I didn't know was that there was lying somthing beneath the bed for me. As I slid under perfectly agile like, my head caught the corner of a nail and split my left upper brow open, leaving a deep gash. Well needless to say I bled a really nice puddle of redish black. So being me, I didn't want to tell president that I was diving around my house and now needed stitches for my head so I pulled out some skin glue I had bought from the MTC and had my comp clean my gash, apply the glue and then pinch the skin together while putting on the eye bandaid. When the glue came on I don't think I ever bit my teeth so hard. That glue numbed everything, which was not a smart idea because I didn't read the directions until after wards. It says specifically not to apply to deep wounds. Well, I am sure now that I have damaged some type of nerve because right where the glue was, I can't really feel anything. lol But maybe in a week or two, it will come back. lol The glue and tape worked along with lots of ice and now it is closed up and I can hardly tell where it was at. I just wore my hair down for a while. lol

Speaking of hair, I colored my hair. Actually, I highlighted it. lol My comp put in carmel highlights for me and it only cost a total of 6 pesos ($1.25). It looks good! It's not super noticable because I didn't want to leave in the bleach forever but to me it is and I like it.

So as for my 'Tooth Story'...
I am not quite sure how it chipped. It might have been while I was eating breakfast. We have hard bread here. (Soft bread really doesn't exist.) I know I ate the pieces from my tooth, because I felt the scratchiness later and that is when I looked in the mirror, saw my teeth and just about died. So long story short, I went to a member's dentist that is from the capital of Salta who happened to be in town that day and had some time free. It was awesome! He lived in the states for 8 months studying and did a better job on my teeth than most people in the states.

I have to get going but I will talk to you later.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Quick Chat

A few days ago, Amanda had to chat with us regarding chipping her two front teeth. (Oh, how that can go along w/ a Christmas song right about now.) She doesn't know how she chipped them, but thinks that it might be from the food. She says that it is really hard there. In this quick conversation via email, she managed to inform us that her companion colored her hair and she now has carmel colored highlights that make her look like Jessica Alba or J.Lo. She was so excited to say that she only paid $1.25 for it as well.

She also plans to update us on a few funny stories with one being that she gashed her head open right above her eye, but managed to seal it with skin glue. Yes, she did say that she is better now and it was a funny story.

..... to be continued.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

New Companion

I don't really have pictures of me this week because it was my comp's last week so I took pictures for her. You will enjoy getting to know her and more of my area. I loved being with her. I have to say that she was my favorite comp I have had my whole time here. She may not speak well but she gave it her all. I have never been able to work so hard as I have been able to with her. She is amazing! It was hard to see her go. My new comp is a girl I was comps with in Tucuman for a week. She came early so I was her comp until the end of the transfer before moving to a different province. She is great. She knows both languages perfectly and I am way excited for her. We are going to be doing great.

Well, til next time...
Love amanda

Friday, November 5, 2010

Update (or Lack Thereof)

Hermana Castillo has been enjoying everyone's letters so much that she has been writing back of her excitement. Therefore, she simply wants everyone to know that she is LOVING her mission and is very focused right now and not writing much back besides that she's still alive and loving life.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Baptism & Zone Conference

Well this week was great .. again. lol I guess that's about it! Just kidding. What did we do? ummm.. So we had a baptism this weekend and it was my comp's first baptism. It was a great baptism of a woman, Carmen Domingo Castillo. It's family! lol She is 67 and is amazing. In two weeks, her 16 year old son is going to be baptized. It's really awesome to see the change with this family because now all the older siblings are being taught.

Two days before the baptism, all of her children were in her house when we happened to stop by. It was a great blessing. The three older ones listened to us explain a little about our church and what their mother was about to do and why she felt like it was right. Carmen was able to finally share with them her feelings and thoughts about the church and it was awesome. We asked them to continue learning and to find out for themselves if it was true upon which they accepted. We passed them on to the other elders in our district because they are not in our area but they are golden references. They really were actively listening and participating and it was so amazing to see Carmen just radiating with joy from the fact that her children were listening.

This week we had a surprise conference with Elder Foster. He is now in the area presidency here in the 70. He and his wife are actively learning Spanish. He knows a decent amount (maybe from a mission) but it's fun to see them learning just like us. Anyway, at the end, we got a pic with him and our zone and he took one with all three zones that were there for this conference. It was really great! I loved every min of it, but the really cool part was after we got our pic with him. We were shaking hands and my president said he needed to talk to me for a min. and that it was nothing serious but to hang around. So my comp and I hung around.

After all of the hand shaking, my president pulled me into a room with Elder Foster. I thought to myself, "oh shoot what did I do?" My pres went to shut the door and never came back. It was just Elder Foster and I. I looked at him and my heart began to race. He then began to talk and said, "Hermana Castillo, I saw you out there during the conference and felt that I needed to get to know you." ( I just looked at him with a blank expression.) Then, he began to ask me about every question that someone could about my family, my life, before the mission, my dreams, my goals, my hobbies, my mission, how it was going, if my zone was obedient, if I think that we could be better and so on and so on. We talked for about 10-15 min. It was fun, but at the end I was really confused as to why he wanted to talk to me and what he had told my president. But, that was that and he wished me good luck and said that we will meet again. Ya, it was sweet! I got to talk with Elder Foster, but I was way nervous and I think my answers were very basic and to the point. lol Oh well, it was fun!

On Sundays at a member's house, I began learning to play the guitar. It's not that hard actually and I just need to practice. lol The mom is always cooking for a while so that gives me time every Sunday to practice a little. It's really cute because the dad and his four sons are helping me out. It's so much fun and always at the end the dad sings folk music. He sounds like a real native old singer.

The sons have taught me how to beat the Rubik cube. I can do it now in about ten min. My comp and I bought one and we practice when he have really long walks between appts. and at night before we sleep. lol Yep, real nerds, but we aren't going to stop until we can do it in less than two min. lol So, this family is really funny and I love them all.

This area is really great with a lot of room for improvement in all parts and for all of us, but this area has potential to be the baptism city. There are so many people that are progressing and that want to know the truth.

I have to go but I love you all so much.

love amanda

Baptism







Wednesday, September 1, 2010

From Argentina With Love

So a lot has been going on here. I was really happy with this week. My new comp really doesn't know Spanish very well but I am very sure that we all went through that. lol It's very interesting to be with her when I am still learning the language. I now have to really study hard to learn something new. I find myself wanting to revert to the old Spanish when I am with her. lol. (the broken everything in the infinitive form never conjugated). It's really fun because we laugh a lot! So I guess her trainer was a little rough on her and she never got to teach nor have the phone. (well nothing really)

So all this week I let her start the lessons, have the phone and do all the fun paperwork. She loved it! lol I was happy for her and we set a goal that we could only talk in spanish in the streets and in the house she could have a break. This next week, she will ask someone to be baptized. It's really fun to be with a new person because they have all the confidence in you and are wanting to do everything all at once.

When we had our planning session, I put our numbers down and she just laughed. She said there wasn't any way that we could do this. I have been in this area and I have never been close to getting these numbers. She also has not had one baptism in 3 months. This area is a little slow right now and she thinks that this area can't change and that she will never have success. Well, this week was amazing! We met all the goals I put and above and every day she just laughed and said that she couldn't believe we taught so much. She never though it was possible. lol Every night, she went straight to bed after planning. lol She has been really really tired, but it was amazing. So, we got a call from our zone leaders and said that we blew out all the numbers in the whole state of Jujuy. lol I just laughed and said he needed to tell my comp. When she got on the phone and heard the news, she started screaming and jumping up and down. Then, after all the happy things were over, she fell asleep in 5 min. This morning, she woke up and asked if this week was going to be like last week because her body was screaming at her. lol It was really funny and we all just started laughing.. (PS: all four of us hermanas sleep in the same room with bunk beds. The other two hermanas are great and am so glad I get to live with them and get to know them. We are all gringas in this pension.)

I loved this week! We worked really hard and now my comp really believes everything I say and is so pumped to get working and get her first baptism. lol I love it! I love the mission so much. All of the little joys I get out of it are incomparable to everything else. There truly is no time like now. lol

One investigator that we have is addicted to drugs, smoking and, drinking. My comp has been teaching him for 3 months and nothing has changed. This week my new comp & I met with him and we began to talk. One thing my comp didn't know is that his daughter just passed away. That came out during our talk. Evidently, when he was visiting her in Bolivia during a holiday called Dia de niƱos, (Kids' day) an accident happened and his daughter died. It was a sad story that he told us, but it allowed us to talk about his goals and were he wanted to go after this life. We taught him about how families can be together forever and that in order to receive these blessings we must be obedient to the commandments. We read him the scripture from 2 Nephi 2:27 and how we are free to choose our own happiness,or our own destruction. At the end of the lesson, he was asking a ton of questions of how he could change and how could he start and if it was possible to live with his girl again. We developed goals for him to quit the drugs and alcohol cold and to only smoke 15 cigarettes rather than 20 a day. We also set up appts every day with him to have an activity with people and to give him a little boost. This whole week, he completed all of his goals and now we are going to cut his smoking down to 15 every day. He accepted to be baptized and so we are hoping that he will be able to keep up with his goals to be baptized. We will be meeting with him every day to help him out. We will always have an activity at the church with a few members to help give some support since we can't go to his house.

This area is great and I know I am going to love it. I think I will be here for a while since my comp has been here for 3 months. I am thinking I will be here for 4 to 6 months, then one more area before I think I will be home. It's sad to be thinking that, but I think that is reality.

Well, I have to get going, but I will talk to you later.

Love,
Amanda

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Baptisms & Drug Inspections



Well, I have a lot to tell you about this week and something that I forgot to say last time. So to catch up on this week, we just had two more baptisms this past Saturday. Lucas, the son of two of our investigators, got baptized. It was awesome! The mother and father are not married so they can't get baptized but are working on that. They were so excited for their son. Lucas' father, Fabian, sang 'When I am Baptized' and I played the piano. Yep, that is right! I learned a song from the primary book. Actually, my piano skills are getting pretty good. lol I have learned a lot more hymns and have been given the opportunity to play a lot. There are not a lot of piano players here besides the one that lives next to us and plays the same song everyday and tries to sing it in English. lol It's really entertaining because he does 'Falling in Love With You'.

So back to the story. He sang and his mother asked to give the opening prayer. It was awesome! The next woman that got baptized was great!!! She has had a problem since she was 12 with random seizures so it is really hard for her to leave the house. When she gets nervous, she has them every couple of seconds but if she feels great, nothing happens. I was really worried about the baptism because at church she was super nervous and went into tons of convulsions. I felt so bad for her, but fortunately her family came along to support her. Well, the day came and she was just glowing. I was super shocked because she was really calm and radiating. Her whole family was there to support her and to give the encouragement that she needed. Her husband baptized her, who's been a member for a year now. He fasted for the past 3 weeks to be prepared to baptize her. (not every day but every Monday and every Friday) He is the man!

We've had a really great week. We've found 10 more people that have excepted a date to be baptized, who have all randomly been waiting their lives to be baptized. WOW it was amazing and they are amazing and this work is amazing! We still have our hard things, don't get me wrong, but I just don't care. I love this way too much to really write about it. lol I have been super blessed and I know that your prayers have a ton to do with it so thank you so very much.

You are going to just love what we did today! We went close to Bolivia and hired a guide to take us through the jungles!!!! It was da bomb! WE SAW MONKEYS, really exotic birds, very very ugly spiders (will I ever NOT see big spiders while I'm here?), a very pretty river, swung on vines (I am Tarzan) and we walked a ton!!!!! (Note: when you look at the photos, I am not really THAT fat. OK, a little more than when I left, but I will have you know that I have about 5 coats on and about 4 pants with tons of leg warmers.)

As for what happened last week, we were coming back from zone conference, which is about 3 hours away from us and really close to Bolivia in a place called ORAN. Whenever we come back from Oran, our bus always gets stopped. It's just a normal travel bus with tons of people, but the police always stop us and check everyone's bags and passports. I guess they have a lot of problems with people from Bolivia and drugs. This last time was an experience of a lifetime, which I hope we don't repeat.

It was about 7pm and we were coming back, luckily this time with a member from our ward that's wanting to go on a mission. They were invited to this conference and thank heavens. So our bus got pulled over and we all get off. We showed them the copy of our passports, as usual, but this time one of the men on his high horse flips out. He then separated us Americans from everyone else and told the rest to get on the bus. We were a little confused as to why because all he did was see our passports and sent us to the side. He didn't even check our bags. One of the military people took one of our comps, Hermana Olsen, inside a room and none of us knew that she was gone. We were busy talking to them explaining who we were when I notice our other companion was missing. Instantly, we all three stop talking and start looking around and run into the building right behind us and start yelling her name. She answers us but from behind a door. We asked her if she was OK and what's going on, all in English. They wouldn't let us in. About two minutes later, she came out and they "ushered" or kind of pushed me in. I am now in this room all alone with some strange military woman and nobody is telling us anything.

She then started towards me and tried to separate my clothes to get to my stomach. Well, I push her hands away and tell her to explain to me what is going on. She finally does and says that she is looking for drugs in our belly from Bolivia. I started to laugh. All of this huge fiasco was about drugs and smuggling and why were we singled out from everyone? It was all because he took one look at our passport and *bingo* discrimination. (we run into discrimination a lot here, but they can't tell until they see the passport) I was laughing because they never even once look at our bags or our new sealed packages from conference! So really, they were just being a pain. We played along with them until they finally told us to get on the bus.

Just as we were getting back on the bus, they call us back over. Well this time our young member friends get off and start talking to them and letting them have it. Meanwhile, the same military lady is talking to us very serious and asks us. WHAT DO YOU HAVE IN YOUR STOMACHS? I FEEL SOMETHING VERY HARD IN ALL OF YOU. Well one of our comps didn't quite understand the question and responds truthfully "we just ate cookies". lol Well, we once again started laughing and the lady thought that we were playing with her, but the response from our fellow companion was really funny. Then we just told her that we came from Oran, about 3 hrs away, and we all have to go to the bathroom. Well, she and a few other men usher us back in the room and was then asking for permission from her boss to take an X-ray of our stomachs. We all look at each other like wondering what more could go wrong and how many more ways we were going to be violated. She didn't get permission, thank goodness, but we all got felt again and very thoroughly. After the last check, we all had to go to the bathroom really bad because she was pushing very, very hard. I think it was just out of spite and she wanted us to go. She felt dumb because there wasn't anything in us and they had no right to do what they did in the first place.

After wards, we called our president and he had a hay day. We are now getting different documents to carry. It was a funny experience, but if our members weren't there to make sure the bus didn't leave, the police would have kept us and sent the bus off. I am very glad to live in America where I know I have rights and that we respect others rights. I have so much love for my country I can't even explain. I have seen so many bad cops here, the things they do and how the government is has made me never want to speak bad about my country. We are not perfect but we are so very blessed to live in the States, where our voice is heard and justice is for all.

love Amanda

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Surprise Birthday Celebration

WOW! I can't tell you how surprised I was today. We were getting some last minute shopping done for my companion before she goes home and a little haricut for all of us. (we were looking a bit shaggy with our hair always up in a pony tail. lol) Anyway, we were going back to the apartment for a little nap before we head out to write our families and then to work. At that point, I find out that we are going to Favian and Guadalupes for lunch as a group of 4 of us sister. Hmmm, a little odd on our p.day that they all said yes to it when it was a solid tradition of ours to take a nap on our p.day. lol I was a little shocked that everyone had said yes, so after we got our haircut we all went over to their house where we found Favian outside grilling up a storm. There was enough meat there to feed about 15-20 people. I was thinking how they never learn how to cook small. It's always GO BIG OR GO HOME. lol They are really funny! So anyway, he invites us in and has me go in first. As soon as I open the door, there was the 15-20 people that would be eating the meat and they were all singing happy birthday in Spanish and then they did it again in English.

Thanks to everyone that sent in a video. They were able to practice singing it with the words that they printed off. lol It was a lot of fun and I thoroughly enjoyed my family singing happy b-day and the video of everyone at church singing (the Spanish version, the English version, and of course the rap version!!!!! lol ) Thank you so very much everyone for your love and this surprise. It was awesome! They videoed a lot of the party so I am sure that you will be receiving it soon and with all sorts of photos.

So anyway, this week was awesome! We are getting ready to have some baptisms and I am way excited. They are on the 10th, 17th and another on the 24th. I am hoping that we will have 2 on the 24th but it all depends if she can get married before the 24th. Her and her husband are great. We found them a week ago and she has just been progressing greatly. She always reads and is wanting to learn more all the time. It is going to be really hard leaving here! I love the people here and this area has a ton of people that are just aching to hear about this message.

Now for the humbling story of the week and probably for my life. We were at a family's house this week to eat lunch. We eat with them twice a week every week. They are not very well off, but they are better off than many of the other families that feed us. They are converts of about 2 years and their daughters of about 3 years. They are a great family, don't get me wrong at all because I love them so much for all of their service and their food that they share with us every week and their love. Well, this is what happened. Here on the mission, my trainer taught me to always eat two plates at a minimum so to not offend them. I always have even when it was really gross or really made me want to throw up. Sometimes I would excuse myself and leave to use the bathroom (thank heavens it is separated from the house) and throw up what I just ate to then go back in and finish it and then after, do it again. The food sometimes consists of some interesting things, but I love the people with all my heart and know that they cook all they have and give all they have.


So when I got here to San Pedro, this sister wanted us to come over and eat with her twice a week and told us to be comfortable and eat like we were in our own home. If we didn't like it, we don't have to eat it and tell her. Well, that was really nice of her, but we still always ate everything that she gave us. At every meal, she would always say that. Well, this Sunday we went to her house and she made polenta, which is something like grits (which i love) but this is not. It was served with some type of tongue (I didn't want to know from what animal). So this was the first time in all of my mission that I didn't eat a second plate nor did I finish all my meat. I had about 4-5 pieces of meat and we both were gagging our way through our meal with a smile. We then shared our scripture like always, thanked them and got up to leave when the mom stopped us and said, "No. I know that you didn't like it because you didn't eat a second plate nor did you finish the first one." She then began to tell us how ungrateful we are and how we are spoiled. She continues to tell us that our parents didn't raise us with any manners and that we are nothing like the elders who would always, always have two plates. Well anyway, she said a lot of things that lasted for 40 min, while her children just hugged us and her husband sat with his head down. We really felt like crap and were really confused. We have always eaten two plates from her and now the first time we decided to take her up on her offer to eat as much or as little as we wanted, we got reamed and we got reamed big time. I don´t know if I have ever been insulted by a member, non-members yes, but they tell us to get a real job. lol As we got reamed, we both just sat down, listened and then when she was done, we didn't say anything and simply pulled our plates back in front of us and ate the last of our food. She then proceeded to tell us that she didn't want us to feel obligated to eat it and only to eat it if we like it and were hungry. I just about laughed. I was so confused at what she wanted from us, but we just ate in silence, gagged a few times, but got it down with a lot of juice. Afterward, we stood up and I saw my comp begin to hug the family to leave. I thanked the woman immensely for her time, her service, and her food. We hugged and left.


I learned that day how to be very humble. It doesn't matter that I didn't like what she was saying or for that matter that the food was really interesting. What matters is that she was offended and we have a job to make it right. I don´t have the luxury of having my pride get hurt and then defending it. lol I have to be a servant, that is basically what my name tag says. Servant to all, psychologist to all, marriage counselor, and my favorite, a waste bin to all. When they feel they need to dump their problems, that is what we are here for. lol The mission is teaching a lot to me about listening and to not get offended. I need not to care about the little things.

I love the mission with all my heart. I love all the people that are here. I know that I am here to help them but I still get blessed with lessons here and there also.

I love you all so much and am so thankful that I grew up in a home where the gospel was taught and that my family truly loves one another. I know we will always be together.

love amanda

Monday, June 28, 2010

It's Amanda's Birthday!

Amanda's birthday is tomorrow, June 29th, and I'm sure she'd love to hear from you with many birthday wishes. So if you have a minute or two free, send her a quick note.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Close Call & A Task Assigned

So this week has been a low key week minus the little things that seem to always pass by.

Something interesting happened this week but I am really happy and am continuing to count my blessings. Last night, my comp and I were leaving an appointment and were walking down the street to another one about 10 blocks away when we almost got jumped. They were intending to get our phone, but God was watching out for us and we were helped out. To make a long story short, just as we were leaving the house, we had turned a corner and a kid had ran in after us and told the family that some kids were planning on jumping us for our phone. So, the friend of ours sped off in her moped, found us and cut the other people off by making a bunch of noise. All in all, we are great and nothing happened, but it could have been a close call.

I also got the SOLID TITANIUM walking stick that my brother, Hemo (Helaman), sent and just in the nick of time so I will collapse that baby and start carrying that around. lol It's about time I start practicing my batting skills.

A little update on the great things that are going on this week include Favian and Guadalupe are doing great. They are not married yet but they are working on their differences before they put a date. They are looking to get married before the 11th. I am hoping that it all works out and want their child to be baptized this month on the 10th. We have been having FHEs with them every Sunday and they love them. We always have a great time with them. I love this family and am praying for a miracle to happen so that they can all get baptized on the same day.

Life is going great! We are making a lot of progress in this Ward and have really been blessed with great friends in the ward to help move this work along and who are always serving us. They really have been wonderful to help in any way possible and are very humble. I know we as members don't really think that we can help very much with this work but there are so many ways of serving them or helping to visit inactive people that they don't always have enough time to do. The life of a missionary is very packed full of people that need to be seen and helped. We as members can help lift it by simply asking who we can visit and if they would like us to come with them for some lessons with investigators. They need friends in the Ward and members are the best method of doing it. So that is your assignment family and friends, help the missionaries and be a good member missionary!

Well I have to go but I love all of you and I am very thankful for your prayers. I know that I have been blessed in many many ways on my mission because of your faith and your prayers for me, my comp, all of our investigators, members and menos activos (Less Actives).

With much love
amanda

Monday, June 21, 2010

Wonderful Experiences

Well this week has been full of many things, but I will start out with a really cool experience that happened with one of our investigators named Cloudia. I will first tell you her history. She has been sick since she was 12 w/ having random spasms or seizures. She would go through times without remembering what had happened and often hurts herself or if she is holding her child and has a spasm, she ends up doing something like throwing the baby or hitting him/her. Its been a really sad story. She is pretty beat up from all of this and has just been living day to day with her medicine and almost never leaves the house. So her husband found the church about a year ago and was baptized after 3 weeks. It was awesome and he is a spiritual giant. Anyway, he commutes to see her and her kids because the only job that he could find is about 45 min away by bus. He comes home Wednesdays and Thursdays to be with them and works the rest of the week in the other town while she lives with her family. Now to the almost present. She has been receiving the missionaries for about a year now and has never made a commitment to be baptized. She has read the BOM but still is unsure about this commitment. Now to us.

So we were walking on the road and a little girl came running towards us saying mi papa mi papa (My Father, My Father) wants to talk to you. We look further down and see this giant of a man of solid muscle stalking towards us. We were a little nervous thinkig that maybe we knocked on his door and he was coming to tell us not to do it again. lol We had no idea. But anyway, he ended up explaining to us who he was and invited us to come and teach his wife (Cloudia). We have been teaching her for about 3 weeks now and have just started over with her with all the lessons. Sometimes when she gets an attack she forgets a little so we have been verifying every lesson with what she remembers. She has never been to church and has never wanted to be baptized. Anyway, this week, she was having a hard time and was having her problems more frequently, therefore, we offered her a blessing from a priesthood holder. She accepted it and so on Tuesday, she received the blessing and had not had a problem until Saturday. She had a little lapse but we explained to her that everything is based on our faith and that the Lord often heals in stages to test our desire and our faith. Like when Christ healed the blind man, it depended on his faith and he healed him twice. The first time he began to see but everything was blurry and couldn't tell a tree from a man. Then the second healing he could see everything. Christ often works in stages with us like in the Book of Ether. We will not receive an answer or, in many cases, a blessing until the trial after our faith.

After this experience, she was really different. When we went to visit, her she was all smiles. She never smiled. Never. She was so happy she was just glowing and she felt different. She said that after the blessing, she has just been experiencing a huge gust of heat coming from within her spreading to the tips of her fingers down to her toes. We talked to her and taught her about baptism and the importance of it and she accepted to be baptized even before I got through the question. lol It was an amazing experience and I was so happy to be a part of it. I love my mission here and all the wonderful experiences I am having and that the Lord is blessing me to be a part of it. Well, I have to go but I love you all very much and please keep praying that we will continue to find good people and that they will be open to receive answers from God to this message.
Love amanda

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Last Week

We went to an investigator's house last night for the last part of our night and we helped make empanadas....A TON!!!! We definitely ate a ton and had a lesson, but I guess they weren't very good for me because I ended up tasting them one more time just not in the manner that I would have chosen. ;) So that became a very interesting night, but I feel better now. I don't like being sick. lol

So this week we've been finding new people like crazy and just have not had enough time to keep up with everything!!! I am loving every bit of it. Well, we have two more people that will be getting baptized next week. They are so excited and I am also. Their mother is a little further behind in the lessons but will be hopefully baptized the following week with our two other investigators. He is 24 and is a friend of a member and is really intelligent. We really have been having some great success here and am excited to continue working in this area. My comp will be going home at the end of this transfer and I am sure that they are not going to take me out and leave it blank for two new people because that would be really hard for them like it was for us. I am sure I will have another transfer here and then I will probably leave. I love this area.

So here's a great story that I really excited about. We have a less active family that we have been visiting. They have not come to church since they were young kids living with their families. They are not married and are 27 and 30. The last time they went to church was when she was 19 and he was 15 and now they have 3 kids. One of the kids is from a different man and two kids from this man, but the man in this family is amazing. So their story: they were really inactive for a long time and she got pregnant from another guy. She didn't have anywhere to live because her family kicked her out. They were friends for about 2 years and so he offered to take care of her and her baby. She didn't know that he was a member until their second child, which was about 6 years later, neither did he know that she was a member. They were not married and so therefore never went back to church because they were not living the law of chastity. Well, here's where we come in, knocking on their door. She starts to bawl and said that she has been waiting for us. She drempt about us about 2 nights before we got there. She knew us by our faces from the dream and knew that my comp was called Hermana Aguas in Spanish (my comps name is Hermana Waters) so she was really emotional. We taught her about repentence, the law of chastity and so on, things to help her to change and to have hope of so doing. Sometime last week, we finally got an appt with her "almost husband" and we taught him the same things. We taught them about the atonement, setting goals and beginning to change their lives. Well this week, they told us that she is going to the civil register to sign up to get married asap and she went today! They are going to get married and invited us to come and to be their witnesses! I am way excited to go to a wedding and to share in their happiness. I am way excited! When they get the date, we are going to talk to the ward and see if they want to put on a party for them to help them feel welcomed into the ward and know that everyone is just as happy for them. The have set a goal to go to the temple when they get cleared by the bishop of our ward. I hope I am here on my mission when they get to go because I want to get the big letter with a fat picture of them smiling and laughing. They are so excited and have been doing great. They have really come around full turn and have been super humble and willing to do whatever needs to be done.

The people here really teach me to be humble and submissive. Whenever I read in the scriptures about being humble, meek, submissive like unto a child, I always think of my investigators & inactive families that totally change their lives and are willing to give up everything to have peace and experience joy!!! They truly are the examples of becoming like unto a child.

So another great story. This week was fast Sunday. Guadalupe is one of our investigators. We had invited to fast with us for her that she will be able to get married or separated so that she can get baptized!!!! Well, she loved the idea and jumped on the opportunity to fast to get baptized!! lol She is amazing! She is living everything we have taught. Her family always has their night time prayers, she reads everyday, and now she is teaching all of her friends that will listen about this message. She is now asking for pamphlets to start giving to people while she is at work in the plaza at night with Favian (the almost husband). Anyway, she fasted and has been amazing. She loved the experience and asked if it was going to get easier because her stomach was hurting and was really growling at her. lol We told her it does but to help through the hunger, remember why she is fasting to make her keep going and not to stop. She was a soldier!!!! I am hoping that things change soon for her because her and her non-husband are great people. I just want them to get married and to be happy. They are both living all the commandments, even the law of chastity. lol Favian is so afraid to let her touch him because he doesn't want to have bad thoughts to get through all of his pornography (which he doesn't know that we know. lol He was too embarrassed to tell us that he had it when we were teaching about why pornography is bad.) and now is starting to go through his music and taking out all the bad stuff. He no longer looks at other woman and Gaudalupe thinks he is so funny because they work in the plaza(park) at night selling hot dogs and there are always scanky woman parading around looking for a good time and now she says that Favian is so afraid to look up because he doesn't want to get bad thoughts. Every time he looked up and saw one, he started to sing the song that we sang with him last, 'count your many blessings name them one by one'. lol That's all he really remembers so she said he sang it over and over. She loves the change and we do also. He really wants to change, but now we want them to fall back in love and to be married. I don't want them to separate. He is afraid of getting married and then getting separated later or getting separated now and braking the law of chastity. He said that to be baptized one needs to really be prepared to make these promises with God because he doesn't think God would like it if he got baptized when they were separated and then had to repent big time after wards for breaking a commandment.

It has really been interesting to teach them and to get to know their personalities. We teach them separate during the week and together on Sundays, which has been working out great. They are not afraid to share things with us and to confide in us and have been progressing like crazy. They have been so humble and willing to do what we say. They have been a huge example of the real meaning of humility and submissiveness, which impresses me so much. I am truly beginning to understand what the promise of God was to us missionaries that if we are faithful and willing to do the work the Lord has in store, He will present to us wonderful people that He has prepared for us to teach and that He will work with their hearts. Our work is to love them and to invite them to make and keep covenants and to prepare them to live the word of God. The Lord has truly blessed me in the mission to have found so many people since I first arrived here.

This is the time in my life that I truly feel unworthy to teach these wonderful people I hope I never lose this feeling because when if I do I will probably become prideful and set in my ways. I love the mission so much, yep, I still have my trials of days when my comp doesn't want to talk to you and you have no idea why or doesn't want to teach or you just can't find a door that will let you in or the very, very, very annoying men that never SHUT UP!!!! One day, I may lose my cool and say some very un-missionary, un-Christlike things!!! Oops. It is rude to think it or even say it but I don't know how long my patience will last another year. lol Pray for me.

In reality, this is a time I wish that I could live forever. If there was one wish I wish I could have, it would be that I could be called to work like Ammon and his brethren were, like Alma and Amulek. That I could serve for 14 years and that I would know, like Ammon, that all of the people that he taught and were converted never fell away from the church. They knew without a doubt that God existed. Oh to be like Alma and to have all my converts taste the sweet joy that I have experienced from the gospel and to have seen angels. To have testimony that Jesus Christ is our Lord and our Redeemer!!! These are things that I hope, pray and wish for every night. I pray that my converts will know of my commitment to the Lord and that they will never fall away and that after this life, I will greet them again in the kingdom of God and we will celebrate that none of us was lost in the battle for our souls!!!! This is my testimony that I know God lives. That Jesus is the Christ. That the gospel has been restored and that all of the children of God can participate and drink of the joy and blessings of this tue and everlasting gospel.
I love you all so very much and know that the Lord will bless us if we are true to our covenants.
amanda

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

National Holiday

Wanted to let everyone know that I am doing great but I don't have time to write today. It was a national holiday so all of the internet locations were closed. I was able to get in somewhere to send this quick email. Sorry, but I have to go work now. I love you all!
amanda

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Week Full of Experiences

What an interesting week! We found some inactive families at the most random times ever. We were able to find one family that has been inactive for about 14 years. They told us that we came to their door two days after finding out that their daughter was murdered by her husband. The couple got into a fight and he killed her. He is now in jail, but the family is now stuggling with the after effects. On the same day that they returned home from the funeral and court, we knocked on their door. They instantly let us in and told us the story. We shared with them the plan of salvation and I shared some other scriptures to try and help them have hope. All in all, it has been very interesting. We are trying to help with anything they need and we have included the ward with bringing them back to church and making them feel right at home. They now asked us to teach two of their children, ages 13 and 11, because they are having a really hard time with the death of their sister. Down here when people die, they don't really take the time to cover up anything or try to hide the victim so I guess the whole family saw this horrid scene and now the little kids are having a really hard time. We will continue to assist in any way that we can by continuing to teach the children and really focusing on getting them through this. Things like this can scar their pure, precious minds and it makes me so sad to see what so many little kids experience and the many horrid things in this world.

The next family that we found had the mother leave unexpectedly the day before. This woman lived with her mother, father, brothers, sisters and her two children, a girl 16 and boy 14. She left a note on the table apologizing but stating that she had to leave. She asked for their forgiveness and said that she loves her kids. She told the grandparents that her kids are now theirs. This woman that left was a member and a convert of about 8 years. When we knocked on the door, the grandma answered. We talked with her for a bit and then she just started crying. We asked to come in and she invited us to do so. She then showed us the letter and explained everything. That night, we shared with her Ether 12, which is all about faith. We left her and said we would come back the next day and every day this week to help out. My comp and I prayed that the mother would at least call or write the family. When we stopped by the next day to chat with the grandma, we found her to be a completely different person. She had read the chapter and had prayed. She said that she knew her daughter would call and 5 mins. after we left, she called. The woman said that she didn't know why she was calling because she wasn't planning on ever calling again or talking to them, but she was holding the phone dialing the house number. It was weird for her and she really didn't say anything, but it made the grandma just ecstatic and she begged her to come home. Well, they are now waiting on the return of their daughter and the grandma told us that the Book of Mormon changed her that night and that real prayer did it. She now wants to go to church, be baptized and make us shawls. We are still waiting for her daughter to return, but will continue to have faith that she does.

We worked really hard this week to get more people back to this branch. Last week, there were about 24 people at church and this week there were 49 people at church. I was so excited! My comp and I are hoping that we can continue to have energy to visit people and bring them back. Our goal is to continue to double our numbers every week.

When I get home at night, I change my clothes, plan, and hit my pillow. Before I know it, 5 mins. later, my alarm goes off and I want to throw it against the wall, but I don't. I lovingly turn it off and brightly bounce to the shower happily singing a song while I get ready. lol Yeah right! I'm pretty sure I drag my dead body to the shower, sit at the bottom of it and bathe. I then turn on some music to take away my grumpy morning thoughts of ¨the sun's not even up and there are another 80 newly fat plump cockroaches on the counter.¨ Happy thoughts! lol Yep, being a missionary is really funny hard work. There are sad and good times, but I love it all and will continue to serve with all my heart until I am done.
love amanda

Thursday, April 29, 2010

First Week in New Area

So this week was a blast! It was really interesting to say the least because there have not been missionaries in this area for over 7 or 8 years. We are serving in an even poorer area than my last. We spend most of our days in the sticks walking around to houses made out of mud, cement/sticks and tarps, with the majority being tarps. I love them all.

We also have a large area that is way bigger than my last one, which I thought that was huge. Our zone is so spread out because we are serving in the country. I love to go walking in part of our area that is full of sugar cane fields. It's about a 45-1 hour walk depending if we book it (lol), but it's nothing but sugar cane fields on either side of us. I have yet to try it straight from the field but all of the people want to give us some. Right now we are in the proccess of finding a machete or a very large pocket knife to skin it so we can eat it. lol

In this new area, we are starting from scratch. We have no investigators, no converts and a very very old carpeta de area, which translates to knocking like crazy. Every day for at least half of our days we are knocking, but I especially love knocking in our areas. We are having some good luck and currently have 12 new progressing investigators and 6 people commited to baptism at the end of the month. We will continue to teach them to help them prepare for this date that they will feel confident of their decision. I am so grateful to be here and to have this opportunity to serve them and to share in their life experiences. Because of the size of this area, we have a lot of work to do but I know that president has confidence in us and we have to prove him right. lol I don´t know how but we are trying!

My comp is a good, good worker. I love her to death. I didn't know how I felt about an American comp because I like speaking Spanish all day with my Latin comps. It really helped me with my Spanish and I have developed a good accent but being with her is still great. We are working hard and giving it our all.

This week we asked the Bishop for a blessing to work in his area and we also wanted to talk to him about how we could help get the ward growing and going. Well he said he would but then started to talk to us about his life and how this calling has been very difficult for him and within the first couple of minutes of listening, I knew that this night was not for us but just to help him out and to listen. It was a good conversation and quickly found out that this ward needs a ton of help. There are about 450 members but only about 25 go to church. I was shocked! So this week we are going to be setting up activities with the R.S and Priesthood to visit menos activos. We are going to have a meeting and talk about the importance of members in this work and their role as members. A lot of them are really young members and don't really understand how these programs run and the importance of them so we will be having a lot of activites/meetings to learn about the church programs and the role of being a member. I'm excited but I feel a bit overwhelmed, but what can I do, this is the mission right?! So I'm just going to suck it up and work all I can during the day and sleep hard in the night. lol

I love the mission and I know it's going to be hard to leave them. Dad was right when he said that it is hard to leave people when you have invested so much into them and when you serve them with all your heart, you feel like you belong with them.

love amanda

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

My New Area

My mission president is sending me to St. Pedro, Jujuy (San Pedro de Jujuy, Argentina). I am going to open up a new area for the hermanas with an hermana that is finishing her mission in 2 months. I am so excited but I think my president is crazy for sending me to open a new area! I don't know what I'm doing!! LOL

I am now in my new area and I'm so excited to have the opportunity to open up a new area! I don´t know really what I'm doing here but President thinks I can do something so I guess I will attempt to do ¨something¨. lol

Anyway, this week was really amazing but terribly sad. I never realized how attached I was to my area until these past two weeks. I have not been able to stop crying. I do fine until they hug me and then start crying, or the men shake my hand and the grip gets tighter and tighter as they begin to cry also. I always thought that I could hold my own in a hand shake, but man they can squeeze hard when they start to cry. It was almost as if this was their way of hugging me, but these types of hugs were a little stronger and a bit more painful than the kind I like.

This week was great! Veronica and Celeste were baptized and their whole family came along with many people from the ward! It was wonderful! I learned the song 'His Hands' in Spanish to sing for their baptism because it was the two converts' favorite song. That was really fun to do for them. Then our other investigator showed up with a huge cake that she made at the house for everyone that attended the baptism to eat afterwards. It was amazingly delicious!

Afterwards, she asked if she could speak to me alone. As we walked into the chapel to have some privacy, she started to cry. She then began to tell me how happy she was that we knocked on her door 4 weeks ago. Before then, she really never had faith in God, but every time we enter her house, she feels different and wants to keep her commitments of reading, praying and going to church. She said that we have given her a new strength, especially this week with her and her husband. They have not talked this whole week because he is gone for business and hasn´t come back yet. She said that prayer has helped her to come closer to God and that she knows with a surity that the Book of Mormon is true and that this is the Church of God. She thanked me for sharing this gospel with her and the blessings that come from it and she wants to be baptized now and not wait any longer. I just lost it. I was so happy for her and I feel so blessed to be a part of her experiences! She has invited us to start teaching her children more regularly now and they all want to be baptized. Now all of that is left for my old comp and her new comp to talk to the father more about these things and teach him more firmly. I am so grateful to be here and to have this opportunity to serve the people in Argentina. It's not always easy but I have learned to love in a different way that is more profound and more sincere. I am beginning to understand more about the pure love of Christ and how I can obtain it and grow with it. The mission is really humbling and I realize every day how much pride I have and that hermanas are difficult. I feel for those elders that have to deal with us, but out of all of our stupid girl problems, I know that we can make a difference when we work with everything that God has given us and forget about our personal pride and self needs.

I am excited to be in my new area and excited to open it up and to break ground here and be the first to tread the ground and share what I have. Next week I will send pictures of my new area and also of the baptism. I love you all tons! Remember to thank God for all that we have because we really do have it all and the people here that have nothing are more humble and grateful than we have ever been. I love it here and I think it is going to be very difficult to come home. I miss you all very dearly (don´t think that I don´t .. lol) but I am learning what true service is and that my heart and soul is truly with them right now.

love amanda

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I'm Being TRANSFERRED

Hi All,
This week was busy! I found out ahead of transfers that I am changing areas because my comp is going to be a trainer. We are going to be in a trio this week. The new girl will arrive here tomorrow and I will leave Monday in the morning with everyone else. I don´t know where I am going but I will find out Friday so Monday I will email you again. I am really sad because I love this area and my comp is so much fun. All this week, I have been telling the people here that I am going to another area and that I leave on Monday. Well, it's been nothing but water works. Everyone, I mean every family, investigators, and members have been crying. I was doing great at first b/c I always knew that I had to change areas as some point, but darn it they are making it really really hard. I have cried with every one of them so it has been pointless to use makeup because it is all gone to waste after the first visit.

There have also been some good things this week. I have two baptisms this week and 3 next week. I am sad that I can´t be there for the 3 next week b/c they are a family that we found while knocking doors that have been inactive for about 12 years. We started teaching them, we have family home evenings and now their kids want to be baptized, including their cousin. They are 3 boys ranging from 10-13 years old. I love them to death and now the family has been active this past month. I am so happy for them! The two that we are baptizing this week are two sisters that are part of a inactive family also. They were a referral from their aunt, who is a memeber. We started teaching them and invited them to be baptized. The mom is a member and always talks during the lessons. She talks the whole time but always finds an excuse to not go to church, which is really irritating. And now she has been resisting us to baptize her younger daughter. The two girls are amazing! One is Veronica, 22, and the other sister is Celeste, 9. They are so smart and always keep their compromises with us!! Regardless of the silly mother, they are both going to be baptized this weekend.

I had a miracle happen this week! A couple that I met my very first week and worked my whole time with my first comp finally came around. Their names are Diego and Marisol, both 30 yrs old. They have a kid about 2 years old, are not married but are amazing people. They were my very first investigators and I love them to death, but when it came down to it they didn´t want to get married. Well I should correct this he didn´t want to get married, but she is dying to be married to him. So about 4 weeks ago we stopped visiting them because they were not progressing and they can´t be baptized without being married. This has made me so sad. But this week, a member ran into them and started chatting and told them about me leaving and all of the arrangements. They asked the member if they could talk to me one more time before I left and if it was allowed that they see me off at the terminal. Well obviously this member called us asap and my comp and I stopped by their house this week. We chatted and caught up on life. They gave us the usual tea and bread and my comp pulled out her scriptures to share a part and then we would leave. After she shared her part and started packing up, about this time I was thinking to myself that this is sad because I love this family but I am so irritated with them that they won´t talk about getting married at all. I really love them! They were my first family and I wanted so much for them but you can´t help people that don´t want help. Just as I started to stand up, I felt a strong pulse in my body to sit back down, so I did. The next thing I felt was my heart beating rapidly like I had just ran a hundred meters. I have never felt like this before and had no idea what the heck was going on, though for a split second I was sick or something of the sort, but just as quickly as all of these thoughts came, they left. I can never forget the next feelings and thoughts that came to me. I looked at Diego and Marisol and felt more love in my heart than I can describe. I knew clearly what I needed to say to them and had no trouble explaining my thoughts or feelings to them. I began to tell them what they meant to me and then with all the firmness that I possessed, I don´t know why but I began to tell them all about marriage and the importance of it for them right now!!! I told them that they had to get married now and set a date and start to change their priorities to the things that they knew to be right and true. SO basically, I talked for about 10 mins. and then ended with a question. I asked Diego if he wanted to be married to Marisol, which he replied yes. Then I told him to ask his wife. SO he did he ask her if she wanted to be married to him. She beamed at him and said yes! It was the first time she had heard this question from him and was so happy. He was shocked! He asked her again if she really wanted to be married to him...to him!!...( well it was a new experience for all of us) lol After that, he asked when they wanted to be married and she said that July was enough time to get all the things ready for the wedding and for her family to save some money to visit. I just wanted to cry. I was so happy! So the miracle is that they are going to be married on June 24th and then be baptized the following weekend. They are now in the process of getting their paper work done. A member in our stake gave them the paper for free, which is normally 350 pesos. That's a lot of money for them, but now they have more money to save. I am so happy for them and I cant´wait to write them from my new area and hear about all the plans.

So now for the funny story of the week. We were at a member's house and I was sitting at the table talking with the family & my comp and playing with the dog. Their dog has a toy and I was playing fetch with him. Well, we had been playing for about 10 mins. while I was just sitting at the table. He would bring me the toy and I would throw it so on and so on. Well I had the toy and my comp asked me a question and I began to look at some book with her and our member. I had completely forgotten about the anxious dog and had my left arm up on the table to prop my head (my body leaning forward) and my right arm on the top on the table with my hand hanging off the table in front of my chest (this hand had the toy). Well, not more than 1 min passes by and the anxious dog wanted his toy so in his haste to snatch the toy from my hand he bit my chest the first try and then bit my hand with the toy on the second try. He then tried to run off with the toy and my whole fist in his mouth, but lucky for me he was a pup and doesn´t bite hard. So basically I just felt a sting in my chest and slobber and a bit more sting in my right hand, but that is the story of my life.

Well I have to go but I will talk to you later. I love you tons.
love amanda

Thursday, March 25, 2010

All is Well

This week, Amanda's brother, Josh, managed to be on his email at the exact same time she was going to send out her weekly email. After reading through a long conversation between the two of them (the typical sibling teasing), I managed to gather that all is well in Argentina and she attached pics of her week.

There was another baptism this week. Here is a pic of me w/ the new member & my new comp.

This one is of him and his family & friends.

Another w/ his friends.

This is my new comp!!! (Notice the height difference?)

Another of my new comp. She's actually shorter than my last comp. :)

My former comp, Hermana Romero:

My fellow American Sister roomy that lives in our pension.

She wanted everyone to know "I am still alive (bairly LOL) and I am doing great!"

Thursday, March 18, 2010

New Comp and a Baptism

So this week was great! I have a new comp who is awesome. She loves to work hard and is smaller than my last comp. lol (Yes, it's possible!) She is also from Peru, so understanding her Spanish was an easy transition. One Peruvian for another. lol

We have another baptism this weekend for our teenage investigator, Emmiliano, who is 16. He is the sweetest thing ever. He likes to draw and always has pictures for us, mainly of the soccer team here in Tucuman, San Martin. I think he is trying to sway our opinion of soccer teams. lol

So this week, we were teaching a lesson outside in the street when all of a sudden this old man, who was in the street walking, started to yell. As we looked up, we saw the last glimpse of a teenager hauling off around the corner. The kid had robbed this old man! He had reached into his pocket and took his wallet!!! The guts of this kid and he was freakishy fast!!! We instantly ran over to the old man and helped him over to the curb and began to ask him if he was alright and if he needed help home. He left angry and confused and so did we. Man, this was not an experience I want to watch again. This poor guy! My other comp told me that she always sees people getting robbed because they are in the really ritzy part of Tucuman and people always want to steal from the rich people. I am glad I am not in their area because I don't like seeing people getting robbed and not being close enough to be able to do anything.

So anyway life is going here. We have had rain off and on and I especially love it when it is ON!!!! Wow, what a nice break from the heat. I have to get going, but the work is great. We are working very hard and sleeping like rocks at the end of the night. I typically wake up feeling as though I slept for 4 hrs. lol But such is life! lol. As for the language, I'm kicking butt! I can fool 3/4 of the people here to believing that I am from Peru or Mexico. I talk a lot like my Peruvian comps, mainly because I study with them all day. lol I've got to go. I love ya tons and want to thank everyone for the emails.
love
amanda

NEW EMAIL ADDRESS

*****  AMANDA HAS A NEW EMAIL ADDRESS *****
amanda.castillo@myldsmail.net

We have updated it also on the upper right corner of this page as well for future reference.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tsunami / Earthquake

OK, so here are the pictures that I said that I'd send:

This one was of this past week from all of the rain that we had
from the earthquake / tsunami action going on. This picture is of
our canal near our pention and runs through our area. This canal
is 13 ft. deep and was flooded as was most of our area. We
couldn't get in places and when we did, we were up to our knees
or ankles depending on where we were. It was pretty sweet!

This is of the dress that I had sewn with the kit that my Mom had sent.

This is the lesson I made for all of the converts that explains the Holy Ghost.

And this one is of the girl that joined the church that I made the
baptism dress for. (My comp had her camera but only this one
worked for sending.)

love,
Amanda

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hello from where it is very hot and spiders & bugs are very happy!‏

We ate empanadas for Valentine's day (that is what I used the money for) Thank you!
Your donation fed the 4 of us for 30 pesos, which is about 10
American bucks. (Great Huh!)
I also sent a picture of our washer and 'lettuce' spinner for our
clothes. (Ha!)

Also you will notice our new living arrangements, again, it's
really hot here & since heat rises you can see our solution was
to hug the ground level.

The last picture is for the primary in our new Lake St. Louis
ward, they sent me letters and I got them this week along with
the stamps (yea! Thank you!). If you can send them this picture
or print it out for the primary and tell them that I loved it and
I have all of their letters hanging in our house in the windows.
(helps to shade from the heat too!) It was a nice surprise!

Josh has asked for a story about our investigators. Well, I have
a great story but it is kind of sad at the same time. A family
that we found this past month (named Favian, his 'non' wife
Marina and their small daughter Luciana. We love teaching
them b/c they are very intelligent and grasp everything we
teach them, but this past couple of visits the husband has been
a little different. So, we met with him without his wife and
daughter, just us and him. He began to talk and talk about
everything. We had asked him before this visit to pray to get
married and to know if this church is true. He told us he
doesn't love the woman that he has been living with for the
past 10 years and the only reason he is still around is for his
daughter and they just found out that she is pregnant again.
That puts us in a bind now. We want them to stay together
but not if he doesn't love her. He doesn't want to pray to know
if the BOM is true, but he will pray about everything else. (I
don't know why).

If you'll remember that this last Sunday was my talk, it went
great! I was able to talk about everything I had wanted to
share with the ward. Well anyway, Favian never wanted to
come to church previously. (It has always been his non-wife
and daughter that come but he still insists he wants the
discussions.) This Sunday he came for my talk & stayed the
whole sacrament & ended up liking it a lot. I spoke about what
it means to be a member and how to succeed in this life as one.
Afterwards, he told us he liked it a lot and said that he wanted
to pray now about the BOM to know why we are different and
why we believe these things, but still told us that he doesn't
know about his non-wife. If you could pray for this family that
would be great.

I have to go but I love you so much. Thanks for everything,
and I'm sorry my letter was really random. Please call Carissa
and tell her I love her and congratulations!

Love,
Amanda

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Baptism(s)

So this week was great! We have 2 families progressing and have 5 single people progressing as well. Also, we are now teaching a brother and a sister that we found last week and they both want to be baptized. All they need is their parent's permission and then they are good to go. So, we passed by the parent's house because before, they never wanted us to teach in their house, but their mom chatted with us for a while and invited us to her son's b.day party this Friday. This is the son that we are teaching, who is turning 9, and his sister is 13. She said that she wants to get to know us and a little about what we are teaching her son and daughter. She said that they both asked for church clothes for their next gifts and that they want to pray together every night as a family. Being Catholic, that was a shocker for the parents. So now they are curious about what is going with their kids and us. We normally teach them at their Aunt's house, which is next door. It's been great and they are really so sweet!

We also started working with the sister of one of our investigators that is getting baptized at the end of the month. She is 17, really bright and grasps everything. It is really fun to teach her! So anyway, she prayed this week about everything we have been sharing with her and she accepted our invitation to be baptized the same day as her sister. That will be amazing, but I'm not quite sure how we are going to pull that day off. We now have 5 people getting baptized that day! Well, in roughly a week and a half, I'm not really sure how the program is going to work. We still have to figure that one out.

I am giving a talk in church on Sunday about members, their responsibilities as members and how to succeed as a member. This is going to be great, but at the same time it's a little nerve racking. It's my first talk in the mission! Ahhhh! So I am just going to write it and hope that everything goes well and I will let you know next week. This ward has such great people that love to love the missionaries and have us eat forever, which you know is a huge plus for me.

So, I used a little bit of money to buy Raid so I can kill all the spiders in our pentions, which are a ton. We find about 3 a day and they are nice and fat, which means they have been happily living in our beds with us. I am very disgusted because some are big and brown, some giant black, and others a nasty puke color, which leads me into yet another spider story.

It's been unbearably hot here so we all sleep on the floor with our mattresses in the study room. I was halfway asleep when I felt something on my foot, which is sticking halfway out of the sheet with the other half of my body. I looked down and saw something giant and clearish-yellow. My first thought was that it had to be a dream because this thing was huge, but then it started crawling on my foot up my leg. I couldn't scream and all that came out was air. I flung my foot which started a chain reaction with my entire body of flinging my sheet and squirming to stand on my bed. It ended up waking up all of my comps and we began to search for this giant thing that I had seen. Well, during our scavenger hunt for it, we were looking on the floor and came next to the X-mas tree, which is about 2.5ft tall and is next to my bed. I'm pretty sure this tree has been there since the beginning of missionaries because it is very raggedy. lol Anyway, we were all next to the tree looking all around it when my comp screams and falls backwards. Her face was right next to the giant spider. Evidently during my spasm attack, which the spider caused, I flung it on the tree and it was resting on one of the ornaments. We caught it and measured it with a can. If you take the bottom of a can and look at it, this was the size of the spider. Picture it as a yellow-clear color. Yeah, that's right! Giant and ugly! So that is why I bought spray this week. I am sick of them and have probably shared my bed with them many a nights. lol Sick!

I love you all so much and talk about you all the time to my comp. We laugh a lot! I never realized, but my family is quite funny. lol
love amanda

Monday, February 1, 2010

This Week in Photos

(Assuming this is the path that she walks almost daily)

Here are more pics. Tell Mom and Dad I love them and I am sorry that my time was short. The computers stink, they always die and a lot of other things. I wish I had my laptop. lol I love you all soo much! love Amanda

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Hermana Castillo & Her Companion


The computer stinks this week, so here's a pic instead. Will send more next week.
Love you,
Amanda

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

This Week's Letter

I have now met the coolest, but ugliest dogs ever. They are native dogs that live in the mountains and the Indian tribes here use them a lot for their medicinal reasons. But here in town, a lot of people use them too. They are BALD and wrinkly with gray,black skin, but super super hot. People who have problems regulating body temperature have these dogs sleep on them and then they don't have the problem anymore. It is crazy but everyone says it works. So look this dog up. I don’t think they let dogs this ugly in the states.

We are now teaching 3 teenage girls to speak English. (I am also teaching my comp, but that is a mission rule.) All American comps must teach English to their Spanish companions for an hour every day, so its great. I love it, but it is hard when you don’t remember why we speak the way we do. lol I can't remember all of the rules of why. I just know we do. lol But, I am getting a book this week from the president to help out.

As for other opportunities for the discussions, we are going to teach an English teacher the gospel. He asked me to practice English with him and I said I would teach him only if I could teach him the lessons in English. He agreed. His mom is a member, he is 29 and teaches children English. It was funny because his mom invited us over for 'a snack' but really to meet him and teach him. Well, it worked. Mom’s are allowed to be like that!

So anyway, it is great here. Hard and always hot, but it is great. The people are wonderful. We have two more commitments for baptism and hopefully two more by the end of the week, but we will see how things go.

My comp and I were going to go buy some more sunblock and ran into this man who we always try to avoid just because he is a little weird. He grabs my comp and I by our hands and then proceeds to tell us how beautiful we are and how we should be married and not serving a mission. Then, he looks at me and asks me my age. I just tell him I'm way younger than him. (he is around 60-70) Then he tells me that if he was younger, he would marry me and that I am his Virgin Mary. I reminded him of the Virgin Mary?! My comp loses it and starts laughing so hard and I back up a few steps. I then grab my comp's hand and say my parting good-byes and we walk the other direction. Yeah, it was really gross. I didn't know what to say.

O.K. more stories of foreign language woes & strange customs. So this week, we were eating lunch with a member family and I mentioned to the older daughter (28yrs) that I like her earrings and they look great on her. She takes them off so I can look at them and then says that they are a gift for me. I said no and gave them back feeling very dumb. The father then started to tease me and say that it was rude and that I really didntt like them and so on. The whole family was laughing because my face looks sick because I thought he was serious. So I found out that day that I can turn red in the face. Well, when leaving their house, a man came out of one of the rooms to greet us. He was about 28 also so my comp and I thought that this was the daughter’s husband who was sleeping earlier. (her husband is not a member) So this man comes up and greets me with a kiss on the cheek. (When I got here, they told us the first time we meet people(non members) that it was ok to be greeted with a kiss, but the next time we are to explain to them the rules) So, he kisses me on the cheek and the whole family rushes in on us and starts SLAPPING THE GUY and shouting really fast!! Well, this was NOT the husband that my comp and I thought he was and it turned out that this person was the inactive brother we had never met. So anyway, the whole family was really embarrassed and kept apologizing to me and so on. Well, my comp had another good laugh and I was once again red.

So another funny story. My comp and I were eating lunch with another member family this week. On another previous dinnertime, we had talked about music and all the things we like to listen to. Well, the parents and I had a common interest, which was classical and opera, and my comp and I were able to connect with the inactive son (25yrs). So this dinner time, the family had prepared a series of songs that they played for us the whole time we were there. It was awesome and the son had made my comp & I each a CD of Latin music. It was awesome! He also gave my comp a game for us to play with our music too. (Its kind of like bingo but with music and lyrics) I had asked my comp what one word was and she started to laugh. In Argentina, the word Ramera means whore, (or tramp) but she thought it meant something else in English so she proceeded to tell me what this word was in English and said it very matter of factly (because she was proud that she new this English word) She said very loudly at the lunch table with the family there, "It means b####!" I was stunned. I looked at the family and they had no idea what was going on except for the son who spoke a little English. He and I looked at each other and then began to laugh so hard. My comp didn't understand that in English that was a really bad word. Really bad. lol So I explained it to her later, but who taught her that word? I sure never had during our English lessons! lol

So it doesn’t stop there. Right before we left, the son gave me lyrics to a song called Beseme Mucho and told me to read it later. Yes, I have a problem so look up the lyrics and have dad or the boys translate it. lol The son likes me and now I don't want to go eat with them again, but we eat with them every week on Wednesdays by assignment. Keep laughing! He is way cute. Probably the cutest guy I have ever seen, but I'm a missionary and now there is a problem. I have only met him twice now and spoken with him for maybe a min or two. We always talk with the parents because he doesn't like missionaries. He's inactive and thinks that we are here to get him back to church. So I told my comp and she just laughs and thinks this is such a funny situation. We'll have to fix this somehow. lol *sigh* More awkwardness for me. Guys move way fast here.

Ok. Next thing, I love you all so much. Next week, I will send a ton of pictures and videos. Send me some more photos. I loved the last ones, Denise. Thanks. My members love to see all of the photos of our family. I love you and pray for your safety always.

love amanda

Monday, January 18, 2010

Note from Argentina

***** NOTE: HERMANA CASTILLO'S P-DAYS HAVE CHANGED TO MONDAYS!!! *****

So it rained for the first part of the week. It just poured and poured! It was funny b/c we were up to our ankles is water in some areas, and in others, my comp and I both lost our shoes in mud. They broke, so we took them in this week to get fixed. lol It was funny! Then, when it stopped raining it was scorching hot!!! It has almost been unbareable, but we make it. My clothes are drenched at the end of the day and we look really gross. lol Oh, our New Years was amazing! Wow, I have never seen fireworks like this before! We went on our roof at 11.45 and the fireworks were all over the city. You know all the fireworks that are illegal in every state beacuse they sound like a war is going on and make a lot of messes? Well, they are allowed here. lol It was amazing! For a full hour, we had the whole cities for miles around doing fireworks and all sorts of things. The had little floating hot air balloon looking things all over for wishes. It was awesome!

Ok, next, pray for Damian and Andres. They are the kids I told you about that just became members a week before I got here. Damian is 10 and Andres is 15. Their father is a good for nothing bumb. Andres works all the time filling up tires and cleaning windows on people's houses. I want to help them but I don´t know what to do. We bring them food about every other day and members invite them over for lunchs sometimes, but pray for them that they can get out of their bad living situation. The bishop wants to adopt them, but the dad of the kids said no. We think it is beacuse then he would have to work to feed himself. See, his kids wouldn´t be there anymore to take care of him and so forth. Bum. I am sooo angry with him. I really want to punch him, but i won´t. But if he ever gave me the chance, well man I sound like a mean missionary. I'm not, I'm just passionate. lol

So next, I have come to terms with my illness. I am just going to be sick my whole mission, I know it. I drink a half of a bottle of Creme de Bismol a day and it helps, so its not soo bad, but all the food is not good for me and the ONIONS! Oh the onions! I have been having some serious issues with that, but you can't say no so i have lost 6lbs. I think from all the heat here and the walking it's great b/c then I can eat more lunch.

OH so here's a really random story. My comp and I were contacting people and we came across two people making out under the tree. We figure ha why not?! lol So we aproach them and start talking and end up teaching them lesson 1 and lesson 2. In the middle of lesson two when we were talking about the Atonement, the guy starts crying. UMMM?? It was a little random. His name is Dani and he is 25. We stopped and asked what was wrong. Then, he sobbed harder and told us this story. When he was 16, he and two of his friends broke into our church (the church my comp and I are at). He waited outside as a watch while his friends went and stole a ton of things. Afterwards, his two friends were arguing about who gets what and he started to wonder if robbing a church was right. Then all of a sudden, his friend pulls out a gun and shoots his other friend and kills him. He watched the whole thing and didn´t know what to do. Well, the guy that shot his friend was caught and sent to jail and is still there. Dani said that he knew that God had punished them for stealing from Him and he was going to live with it for the rest of his life. He never stole from a church again, but he steals from other people. (I don´t know the logic, but there you have it) So anyway, he was crying because when we were talking about the Atonement and how you can be forgiven, he said that he knew that God had sent us to him at that moment to teach him these things and to forgive him. That after all this time, he can now be forgiven. (wow...) So he invited us to his house and we met his family and set up a time to meet with him tomorrow. He is really excited. I am really excited. So anyway, that is a way cool story I thought I would share with you.

The people here have gone through so much than we ever dream of and have seen so many horrible things with their government, in their homes and just everyday living. I admire them for their courage to live and their effort to make this world and this life better for everyone.

So another cool story. This Sunday was Fast & Testimony meeting. Well it was Damian's first time in this type of a meeting and he came over and grabed me and said, "Will you help me bare my testimony?" Well, I was nervous as all get out b/c of my Spanish!!! So anyway, I walked up there with him with him pulling me all the way up there by my hand wanting to sprint to the speaker. lol It was cute! Everyone had a good chuckle out of it. It was a great experience for me to help him give his very first testimony and then afterwards I bore mine. I was already up there so why not?!

Man, I love it here! Even with all of the humidity, crazy men, GIANT SPIDERS and crazy dogs, I love it and I wouldn´t change it for the world. Dear elder me and I will keep in touch. I am sorry I wasn´t able to reply to anyone this week, but I love all of your letters and I love all the stories.
Love
Amanda


Haley and Ammon,
I love you guys so much and miss you like crazy. I hope you are happy and doing well. Make sure you guys pray for me and play nice with each other. Oh, and tell Daddy he is a weenie tadepole. Give your mom and dad big hugs and big kisses for me. I love you very much and think about you all the time.
Love
Aunt Amanda

***** NOTE: HERMANA CASTILLO'S P-DAYS HAVE CHANGED TO MONDAYS!!! *****