Monday, July 26, 2010

I never thought it would be this hard.

It is such a temptation to not write anything this week. But alas, I assume that I should write SOMETHING. So more than anything I’m just sending a shout out. It was a weird week. It was full of weird days and lots of not work. I feel bad because I want to be clapping houses and teaching... but this week was full of meetings and traveling. It is all required things, but not what I want to be doing. But because of that it made the week feel really long. But I am all too often reminded how often I’m going home... which makes it feel even longer. I have this growing desire building up to just go home. It is amazing how much harder it is at the end of the mission... I never thought it would be this hard.

I taught my last workshop as a mission leader... that was weird. We had a really good district meeting that Elder Lucas and I taught. It was simple, but spiritual. We learned how to do better contacts. It is something that we had learned about a month ago and have been using to great success. It was nice to be able to testify of the power of such techniques. We have continued our crazy finding spree this week, even with all the traveling we have done.

One thing that I really enjoyed about this week was getting to know the President a little better. He didn’t know that I was going home so soon and when he found out he was kind of bummed. It was funny seeing him react in such a way. I’m used to the president knowing everything. It was just evidence to me that even mission presidents are just human. I love President Stapley... he will be a great mission president.

It rained again on Sunday, I was kind of upset about that. I hope it doesn’t rain anymore. I’ve already packed my bags and spare shoes... so I don’t want to get my current shoes wet... fyi we are asked to pack a week in advance.

I’m so not excited to write you all... I think I’m just going to stop wasting cyber-space and wait till I can tell you all in person.

This Saturday we get to go to Capital... or the city of Buenos Aires as a special treat for all that go home. So I’m looking forward to that. I also hear that I can call home when I’m in the airport. So I guess next Tuesday I’ll be calling you all bright and early in the morning... MAYBE. If not, I’ll just see you later when I get off the plane.

I love you all,

Elder Steinkuhler

Monday, July 19, 2010

Chè dos semanas... wow

Hello everyone, this is your normally faithful writer Elder Steinkuhler here. I’ve just completed another wonderful week of heavenly labor and am now fully ready to give you a 100% account of all of my actions... the only problem is that I can’t. So we will take out a few key factors and hope that it suffices.

First of all, it is really cold. It feels like about 30º or so. The winds are almost always high in our area and there is always a lot of water, so if you get wet... it is REALLY cold. Sunday morning we woke up to rain... not happy Steinkuhler mood. We went looking for our investigators in the freezing rain/ice sheets and for some reason no one wanted to come with us, go figure. Ha ha, it was fun though. We had a great day in any case. We ended up finding some really awesome people, which brings me to my next point.

Two weeks ago we found a lot of people... families mostly. But none of them really wanted to have us come back... for one thing or another they were busy or didn't want us to come into the homes. Needless to say, they did not read what we left them. So that kind of got us down in the dumps. But this week we found wonderful people. People truly prepared for the gospel. But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself....... I don't know how to tell all of this, so I’ll just start with Tuesday.

We had our zone conference with the new president. It was a great conference and we learned a lot of new things... but he also explained a lot of changes going on in the mission field all over the world. For example, our capitations will now focus on 8 lessons... there will be meetings for four days with the mission leaders... etc. I feel like I can share one thing the Spirit hit me with. I realized that although 75% of my teaching is focused on personal revelation, I was not doing enough to help people get their own answers. The conference really made me look at my teachings from the beginning of my mission until now. And I’ve realized that there are a lot of things that I can be doing better. I know that I am suppose to be like the best in the Zone because I'm the zone leader and have been in the field the most time, but I am not really that good at teaching. I realized that this week. I still have so far to go. So I started adjusting my teachings this week to great success. I focused my own personal prayers and prayers with others to help them feel the Spirit and learn how to get a true answer from the Almighty.

We had this wonderful finding experience this week with a young mother and her boyfriend. Last Sunday we did a few contacts during the soccer world cup finals... to our great surprise there was a nice young lady who talked to us for awhile but didn't want to let us in because her family was watching the game. So we set up an appointment to come back and we found not only her but this wonderfully intelligent boyfriend as well (I love teaching couples). It was right after the conference and I had my heart swallowed up in prayer, so when we sat down and started to get to know them, I felt inspired to read something from D&C section 9. We started reading and she told us that she has problems understanding new things and that she never understands things she reads. So we went slow and she understood everything PERFECTLY!!! It was amazing... and her boyfriend seemed to have already known the things we taught him, it is just that he never lived it. ANYWAY, we taught them lesson one very fast. We started with prayer, then why there are so many churches (apostasy), then Joseph Smith, then The Book of Mormon. It was phenomenal! They loved it and the Spirit was so strong. I was blown away, I don't know if it was just because of how well God had prepared them or because of the things I learned in Zone Conference... but that was one of my favorite lessons yet in the mission.

Yesterday we also found a wonderful lady who has a daughter with mental problems. She asked us to give her a blessing of health and I performed the sealing. I really have grown to love using God`s Priesthood. The daughter couldn't really talk, but I could see her pure spirit... I felt so much love for her and her family as we performed the ordinance. The funny story about that is that they were references from the lunch appointment we had. After church we had to walk about 30 minutes in the mud to our lunch appointment at the end of nowhere where this one member lives. The truth is that neither I nor my companion wanted to go... but we ended up going because the member wouldn’t take no for an answer. But what a blessing it was. We had such a wonderful spiritual experience that the member gave us about 35 references more... YEAH!!!!!!

Well, I pulled out my suitcases to start packing this week... and I found all the old stuff (or what I called "ish") that had been collecting up for two years. I felt somewhat like Harry Potter when he cleans out his trunk at the beginning of book 7... and yes, I still remember/love every part of the Harry Potter books. I found old cards, drawings, lesson plans, books, toys, keys, etc. It was sad looking at it all and thinking, "I really don’t want any of this ish, I should probably just throw it all away". It was a sad day. I feel like I threw away a part of two years, but it is a part that I just cannot bring with me. I still haven’t actually packed anything, perhaps today I’ll do it. FYI, I did not get my nap last week, and I doubt I’ll get it this week. All well, I’ll get lots of sleep on the plane.

So, it looks like everyone is telling me that I’m going home in two weeks. I don’t feel like it still, I know what is going to happen... but I can’t feel it happening to me. Life is just going on still... and I don’t see it changing, although I am excited to see the changes. I feel like I’m just going to get transferred again, but this time they told me in advance. Well, I will have one more pday left after this one. So if anyone wants to send me an e-mail before I get home... do it this week. If you want anything I MIGHT be able to get it, but with such short time there are no promises. Anyway, I’m off.... I love you all and hope to see everyone soon.

All a missionaries love,
Elder Steinkuhler

PS We played pool today and my companion whooped me 2/3 times. The last time I BARELY won. I’m going to miss Elder Lucas a lot.

Monday, July 12, 2010

how do sore thumbs stick out?

Well family, I'm tired. I am so excited to write this and then go take a nap!!! That is right, Elder Steinkuhler is going to take his first nap in like 6 months!!! I’ve planned it into my day, and will fully enjoy it.

I’ve been slightly sick this week. Almost everyone in the zone has been getting sick... it is just missionary life, nothing big, but bothersome. Today is particularly cold. It is freezing outside, but we went to play soccer, volleyball and Frisbee anyway. I guess my knee is doing better. It hurts unnaturally much when I get hit there, but other than that it doesn't bother me anymore, thanks for the support and prayers.

So, let me start off with the sad news... Spain won the world cup... the good news is that it is all over. I'm so tired of being caught in the street with nothing to do because people are watching the world cup. By the way, I didn't really care who won... but Merry served her mission is Spain, so I was rooting against it. I guess her mission was just better. :D So, people still give me flack (a real word) about being German. I guess I just stick out like a sore thumb (how do sore thumbs stick out?). It is kind of funny because people yell at us asking if we are German and my companion always answers by asking if he looks German. They look at him and he laughs telling them that he is for Paraguay. I love Elder Lucas, he is just a stud! We are working good together... well sorta. Let me explain.

This week was a particularly hard week. I don't know why. Everyone failed on us. Our investigators, our members. It was just difficult. It put me to thinking why. I think God has a lot of things for me to learn in my time left. This week I have learned a lot about what is most important and how to overcome trials. I'm so glad that my trials have not stopped... because when they stop my learning stops. I love being here, things are just so much more meaningful. A rejection at home is just a rejection. Now I can see what God is teaching me by telling me to talk to someone who is going to reject me. I’ve really learned that we are not able of baptizing or changing people. They have to do it for themselves. I’ve learned so much this week that I don't know if I can really explain it all. And even if I were to explain it all you wouldn't understand because it is something that you need to live. But one of the biggest things I’ve learned is that I am a true convert. I’ve learned that my testimony is strong and that it won’t fail me in hard times. But as I stop doing the good things in this life, I will weaken my testimony. All of you who read the scriptures will understand me when I say that the scriptures have power.

One of my favorite parts of the week was Saturday morning. I was feeling kind of sick, but not as sick as Elder Shupple. However, Elder Jones had called us to see if we could do a service project for some members in the area of Claypole. It was a "moving" with the assistants, the elders of Claypole and us. Well, last minute the assistants couldn't make it... so it was just Elder Shupple, Roy, Lucas and me who went early in the morning. It turned out to be a mud/clay shoveling project. It was HARD labor. And Elder Shupple was sick so he did little and almost fainted... he is such as good sport, I love that kid. So they left early. Then my companion died out after like hours. So in the end I shoveled all the clay and my companion wheeled it away. It was interesting to work basically alone for an hour. My muscles were tired and my mind alive... My body turned into a machine and I was able to ponder upon many subjects. It did me so much good. I loved it and the members were so grateful. I had forgotten how good it feels to work hard and serve others. I loved it to death. I’ve been looking for reasons why God has called me to where I am. I know that I am in the right spot and often the only one who can do what I can do. It was so obvious in this day that God wanted me to be exactly where I was at exactly that moment. I look forward to finishing the job if we have time.

Well, I'm off to take my nap. I love you all. I'm working hard and truly, surprisingly happy.

Take luck, I love you,

Elder Tommy Steinkuhler

PS I’m in a good mood, I hope you are too.

Monday, July 5, 2010

123% better

I have no time... so let us start out with the good news; because I have a lot of news (not that interesting, but news), both good and bad.

I was able to do an intercambio with Elder Gaffney this week. He is the new elder of my new elder... or in other words (that are banned from missionary vocabulary) he is my grandson. He is a fun little fellow from Oregon. He speaks amazingly well and has a great desire to teach. We did a fun little change-up on Wednesday morning at 7:00. My companion and I went to another area and changed up with them.... then came back. Then in that morning we went out to work and found 7 people... a new family. Then we ate lunch and in the nighttime we round 5 more. It was a great day. We taught a ton of lessons and he got really excited for working and talking. He is a wonderful missionary and I had a great day.

Going off of that, this week we had better datos then any other week of my mission. I sent you all the standards of the mission some time ago. This week we were able to achieve or surpass all but baptismal goals. We found 31 new people this week... that beat my old personal record by like 12. It was a wonderfully hard week. We worked our tails off. I keep on getting people telling me not to slack off now that I’m at the end of the mission. But what the President told us about being the most effective at the end of the mission really hit me. So we decided to try and raise the bar even higher then what we had... although we almost died, we did it!!!! We had the best week of my mission this week. So don’t you worry, I’m focusing. Not only that but: (here comes the bad news)

Last Monday we ate at an all you can eat pizza place. I had about two entire pizzas... and almost died (they were big). I was already feeling somewhat sick... so that night after sending my update, I went home and couldn’t leave because I needed to be close to a bathroom. So we couldn't work on Monday. Which kind of sucked. But I’m better now... 123% better. However (more bad news)...

Yesterday while going to pick up investigators for church I fell on the train tracks. I was looking at the sky and well......... there was a hole. There was a place where people could walk underneath and I didn’t see it. So I hit my knee pretty bad. We were already running on a tight schedule, so I just brushed off the dirt and kept on going. But after our sacrament meeting it was killing me. Today it is a lot better, but still a little swollen. But it makes for a fun story.

Other bad news... President Asay is gone. He went home already. And President Stapley will not be in Argentina until this week. So we are a little bit without president for awhile.

Good news: It has been wonderfully warmer than normal. Still chilly, but not cold.

Bad news: Argentina lost to Germany. It was scary. We went out to try and teach during the game. As you walk down the street all you can head is a constant dialog from the narrator... Every house was watching it so it was heard in every part of the street. But we lost... and bad... and I look German. So people have been yelling at me for awhile. For a few hours I was really worried for my life, but most everyone knows that we are from the USA. So no prob Bob.

Good news: We discovered an inactive family this week. We started teaching them and he told us that the reason why they went inactive was because the Stake President had told him to cut his hair. I laughed and pulled out my driver’s license and explained what happened to me before the mission. We bonded for a time and they promised to return to the church. They said that their daughter is 9 years old and that they want us to baptize her. So I’m excited to work with them and bring them back into the church. It is really one of those moments where you just know that God sent you to that family. I have way too much in common with this brother that it is impossible for us not to be friends.

Well, I guess that is about it. So much happened this week, but I can’t explain it. We felt a strong desire to clap a house as we went by this week and found a family of 9... all brothers and sisters whose mother passed away 2 weeks ago. They needed our message so bad.

I promise you all that I’m not dying out. I’m working hard... I love the mission life and I love what we are achieving. Miracles are never tiresome. I’ll try and send some good stories next week. Thanks for all of your support.

I love you all,
Elder Steinkuhler

PS I’m excited to come home. Don’t get me wrong... I am very excited to have my interview with President Paxman. And I am even more excited to be able to be around for two of my friend’s weddings.

PPS The president told us to tell everyone that we have 6 months left... it is so fun telling people that and seeing their reactions. Some people believe me without a doubt... others tell me I should have less... others say that I’m already at home. It is fun to see what people think, but just like David has always told me... it is what the Lord thinks that is most important.

Monday, June 28, 2010

There is nothing more wonderful on the mission than someone telling you that they know that The Book of Mormon is true.

First things first... I’ve been informed that I need to inform you all to inform President Tanner to be ready to release me when I get home. So I’m guessing you all know when I’ll be getting home. If not, it would be about 10:30 Wednesday the 3rd. If President Tanner could release me about that time it would be superbly wonderful.

I don’t have much to write about. This week was a lot of working and running around and little to write about. The World Cup is a killer here. NOTHING happens during the hours of the game. There is literally NOTHING to do during that hour and a half. But it is cool being here in Argentina while Argentina is winning. I hear a lot of new things about soccer here. For example, I didn’t even know that they play soccer in Germany... but I guess they are one of the best teams in the world. Go figure. It doesn’t help that I’m a German looking and sounding as it comes. I might be killed this week if Germany wins. Naw, I’m sure that nothing will happen... I’m actually just glad that the US lost. As much as I wanted them to win, I’m glad we are not going to play Argentina.

We had some really spiritual appointments this week. One of them was with Antonia. She is a recent investigator. We taught her the basics of The Book of Mormon and the family. We returned to teach her about Joseph Smith and we asked her if she had read and prayed about The Book of Mormon... very seldom do they do it the first time... and never have they told me that they received an answer the first time. She told us very quietly that she read. She explained how she read and prayed with her family right after we left. And that she didn’t feel anything. But that night she re-read and asked again and felt the answer. She looked up at me and I asked her how she felt. She smiled and said should couldn’t explain it. She said it was a very good feeling in her chest that came from somewhere else. That same feeling filled my frame and we were both edified. There is nothing more wonderful on the mission than someone telling you that they know that The Book of Mormon is true. After that the rest is just details. When a person really knows that The Book of Mormon is true, baptisms will follow and blessings will spring forth.

The same thing happened some time back with an investigator named Isabel. It was so funny because she reads really poorly. When she reads aloud she gets all the words mixed up and it doesn’t make since unless you are following along in your own book... but she understands PERFECTLY!!! She too quickly received an answer to the challenge we gave her.

We had a little meeting I like to call Jedi Council this week. It is a meeting with all the zone leaders of the mission. We go over trainings we will go through and all that good stuff. The best part was that the president asks everyone who is going home that transfer to give their testimony. So that means that I could give my testimony as well as all my close friends... but also the president. He leaves next week. His message was amazing. It was by far my favorite meeting in the entire mission. I would do it injustice explaining what was said. I don’t want to offend the Spirit and explain all the things that were explained to us through him... but I do want to tell you that it was a wonderful meeting. It truly gave me excitement to work hard this transfer. One thing the president told us last Monday is that we will not be judged off of what we did during our mission... but off of what we do this last transfer. That kind of put the heat on and motivated me to work hard this transfer.

I guess that is it for me. I bought some new shoes today because I want something nice to go home in. And... I’m kind of boring. Sorry. I’m just working. Work... as in work work is not that exciting to explain.

I love you all and will see you soon.


PS My camera broke. It won’t take photos with flash now. Sad day. I don’t think I’ll be sending more photos home till I get home. Sorry... Um, just suck it up and deal with it.

Monday, June 21, 2010

He shared his great wisdom once again with me

I’ve officially entered into my last transfer. I'M SCARED!!!! Today was a huge day! Let us start with today and see how far I get.

Today the president gave his farewell talk... along with his wife, a senior couple and a lot of beloved fellow elders. It was a wonderful meeting and my brief explanation of what they said would not do them justice, so I will leave it to this: "It was wonderful". Lots of people came because almost everyone knows the president. But the biggest visitor for me was ex-Elder Sagripanti. That is right, my trainer and papi. It broke my heart to see him again. We all left the meeting to take a picture of all the missionaries and while waiting for the picture I saw him. After the photo I ran up and gave him a huge hug. We were able to talk for a bit and he shared his great wisdom once again with me. I know that my group and I are the oldest people in the mission (including the president) but Elder Sagripanti was just so much wiser than us. I truly felt like a child with his father again. He is well. He is dating and continuing the life the way it should be. I didn't have my camera, so I hope he sends me a photo.

To go along with this, we had interviews with the president this week. It was weird going into his office and talking to him for the last time. We always need to recite a memorized scripture, so I did Luke 2:1-18... it took on new meaning with him. He liked it a lot.

Something else to go along with that... one of the elders I trained is about to train. They will both be in my zone this transfer, so I’ll be able to see them both. Elder Mortensen is going to train. That means that in the mission they would call me a grandfather if we were to still use such language.... but seeing as we don't... don't worry about it.

Cool experience... we went to get investigators on Sunday morning. And while walking with them to the Church I saw a man stuck in the mud with his truck. It has been raining here a lot and there is a LOT of mud. I told my companion we needed to help... he looked at me, and then at his freshly shinned for Church shoes, then at the investigators, then came with me. We pushed and pushed and finally got the truck out. We didn't even really get muddy (the shoes were not shinny). But we just waved at him as we walked past and continued on our way. About 2 minutes later he pulled up next to us and gave all of us a ride to church... saving us about 1.5 miles of walking. We did a contact with him and will be sending missionaries to his home... I LOVE doing service and seeing it pay off.

One more cool experience:
We did a map system to get references from members. We draw a map and have them write all the names of the neighbors that they know. We did this with a fairly popular guy and got a lot of references. Over the past few weeks we have been slowly contacting references from him with little luck. On Friday we were contacting the last of them and had one left... it was pretty far away, and we were thinking about going to another area to work. I meditated on our options and felt we should contact the last reference. My companion thought I was crazy, but we went anyway. We clapped and out walked a lady we had seen earlier that day. She is a friend of Karina (who got baptized a little bit ago). Earlier that day she had blown us off and we thought she didn't like us... but we started chatting with her and found out how much she was suffering. We shared a brief message about The Plan of Salvation and entered into her house to read a part of The Book of Mormon. It was a really spiritual lesson. It was good to help her and see the spirit touch her. We have a return appointment tomorrow.

One cool note for my mother:
We just changed our bishop. Bishops normally change every 5-8 years around here... and in the 4 wards I’ve been in... 3 of them have changed while I’ve been in them... but that is not what I wanted to share. Bishop Monaco is our new bishop. We ate with him this last week and chatted a lot about The Lord of the Rings. He knows elvish and basically everything about The Lord of the Rings. He is also really excited work with us because he has been working with the stake for awhile and hasn’t been able to help us much. So we will be working hard with him soon.

That is about it. I guess I’ll just finish with that and tell you all how weird it is having everyone tell me that I’m going home soon. I don’t feel like it. The president today told us that we all have 6 months left. And if we focus on that we will not begin to slack off. I suspect that with the change of president I will not have 5 seconds to think about home, but we will see. I know that I should be humble though and ask for your help. So, don’t let me get trunky please.

I love you all,


PS I’ll send pictures soon... I promise.

PPS I know what I want for my birthday. If people want to chip in so that I can buy new scriptures that would be cool. I know what I want, so I would like to pick them out... but if you want to help me buy them I would love you forever.

Monday, June 14, 2010

They made me cut it and eat the head because it was my birthday

This week was craziness. We did a lot of things and I’m beat! Where to start... TODAY.

I’ve had a lot of questions about what a zone leader does. Basically we do what everyone else does, but we also need to plan for everything the zone does. So we spend a lot more time planning and talking about our zone then our area. The truth is that we focus a lot in the area, but when we are at the apartment we basically call the other elders and focus on their needs. I feel somewhat like a father. For example, today we did a zone activity. We can do one every transfer and we decided to do ours today. We didn’t think that it was going to rain (which it is doing in abundance). So we were going to get together and cook an American breakfast and then play Olympic games. Well, we did eat an American breakfast... at lunch time. So here is what happened. Being the zone leaders we had to plan the activity, see what people wanted to do... decide who would do what and where and when and then verify everyone five million times to make sure it goes as planned. We also needed a plan B to everything. We actually didn't end up playing Olympic games. But we did play dodge ball and ping pong. It was actually really fun and we cooked a ton of food. We made pancakes, eggs and hash browns for 23 people (but like 30 ate)... WITH HOMEMADE MAPLE SYRUP! How cook are we? Two elders in the zone, a sister and I cooked everything. It was really good. We all had fun and got wet getting to the stake center. It all turned out good, but not as planned. So, that is basically what we do as zone leaders. We animate and plan for everything the zone is going to do. We also try to help the elders get to the zone or mission standards. We teach elders on exchanges how to do certain things and try to show them an example of what we are capable of doing as missionaries. We also meet regularly with the church leaders, including stake president to learn their desires for the zone. I don't know... we don’t really do much, we are just normal missionaries when it comes down to it.

This week was my birthday... it was a good one. I got an amazing jersey from a wonderful sister in our ward. It is a blue Argentine jersey. BY THE WAY, Argentina won their first game in the soccer competition... thing (I don't know its name in English). We are not allowed to watch, so we stayed in the pench to plan and heard people yelling and shooting off gun shots every time Argentina did something good. It was exciting and we didn’t even get to watch it. Anyway... my birthday was really tranquil. We didn’t do much out of the normal. The biggest thing is that we went to a members house at the end of our day because she had cooked us dinner and wanted to give me my gift. It was really a fun work day. As missionaries we celebrated it after planning on Saturday. While people were going crazy because we (I mean Argentina) won, we cooked up some genie-pig and ate them... long story. Basically an elder from Peru decided it would be cool to cook me up a Peruvian specialty for my birthday. It took some days to get it all worked out... I’ll try to send pictures. I felt bad, because he bought them alive and then killed them and cooked them. I only saw them alive and then dead... fortunately I wasn’t around for the killing, I would have freaked (this elder also wants to eat Tinkerbell when I leave... NOT going to happen). It was pretty good. They made me cut it and eat the head because it was my birthday... I tried the eyeball... not so tasty... and that is all I have to say about that.

For the lunch we bought hot peppers... REALLY hot peppers. One of the elders said he would give me his scarf if I would eat half of one of the peppers. I was brave and did it... And it was HOT!!! We are talking bigger and hotter than Jalapeno. But I won a scarf! The elders just looked at me with awe as I bit off the pepper. No one thought I would do it... I don’t even know why I did it, but it was fun and funny. The States don’t really have hot peppers.

Well, with all the rain we have a mud pit of an area again. I love it. I got my leather boots fixed so now I can walk around without using huge, bulky rain boots. I’ve learned very well how to walk, run, jump and slide in the mud without getting myself dirty. It takes a lot of skills and practice to be able to walk for 3 hours in 3 inches of mud without getting your pants dirty... :)

This week we had a really good experience with finding. We worked hard all week to find. We contacted more references then in any moment of my mission this week. We also did normal contacts a lot. But by Sunday we had only found 6 and we wanted to find 12 by the end of the day. So we went out to do our normal visits and decided to run by this lady we had found the week before. She wasn’t there, but her husband and other family members were. We had been praying to be able to find people that day because we had really been working our tails off to find and were not seeing the blessings. But once again the Spirit guided us and we found a wonderful new (big) family and accomplished our goal.

Also, we had this family that we have been teaching. We can only see them like once every other weekend. We took a fecha out with the two of them last week and this week we met up with them again. To get to their goal they need to get married. So although we want to wait normally to teach the Law of Chastity, we decided to do it early. We taught a really spiritual lesson about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We knew that the Spirit would be vital in this lesson so we did all we could to invite it. And it came strong. They felt it and when we asked them why they hadn’t got married until now they said it was a money issue... but now that we had explained the Spiritual importance they wanted to change. They made the decision for themselves and are going to make a plan on how to do it for next weeks appointment. I love how the Holy Ghost shows people what they need to do return to God... and I love it even more when people listen to that Spirit.

I’m off... I love you all and will try to send pictures next time.

Elder Steinkuhler

PS I’ve realized again how soon I’ll be home this week. I can’t believe it... I don’t feel trunky though... that is the good thing, I know lots of you are worried. No worries.

Monday, June 7, 2010

God put me here on Earth to do service

I remember what shopping bags means...
I went on intercambios (or companion exchanges) last week and I tried to show forth the best example possible. Well, I have this thing, I’ve always wanted to help someone carry their grocery bags because in missionary pictures they are always doing that for service. The people here try to run away from you if you offer because they think you are going to rob them. Well, I saw a lady struggling with her bags and I stopped to help her while on intercambios. The part of town we were in was rather nice and fairly friendly. She looked up at me and I smiled at her. It was great to see her old wrinkly face crack into a smile and said she would love help. I grabbed her bags (quite too much for her) and we walked some 5ish blocks to her house. We chatted about things as we walked and eventually talked about the gospel and how she knew we wouldn't rob her because we are missionaries. She loved our little stroll and accepted a return visit the next day. It felt so good to see once again how the pure love of Christ gets to the heart of people a lot faster than a word of testimony. I learned long ago that I God put me here on Earth to do service. That is why I was blessed with a big body and lots of free time. It feels so good doing service. This week we also did service. We saw a young girl carrying 4X4 beams into her yard with difficulty, so I stooped down and started helping. I think she only accepted because she could see that I couldn't run far with her wood and therefore had nothing to worry about. By the end she was a good friend of ours.
This is a little thing for my father: We did a zone learning activity this week where we got together with the Stake Family History Specialist. She taught us a little bit about the services available here so that we can invite people to come in. It was good, but she got mad at me because I told her that my father is a specialist and that I knew little to nothing about it. So I guess I’ll be learning something more when I get home.
The other day while on intercambios again (we do a lot of intercambios) we contacted a wonderful lady. We were looking for this guy and he wasn't where he was supposed to be (on the top floor). So we went down a story and he wasn't there either, and then down another... and still nothing. So I asked some neighbors and this wonderful lady answered the door. It was hilarious because I was looking at the handle and as the door opened the first thing I saw was a huge cross and as I followed the necklace up it got lost in a nuns hood. I chocked back a laugh at doing a contact with a nun and started talking about The Plan of Salvation. It was a good chat and we set up an appointment to come back and teach her and her family more. I was really shocked. But then again, we do share the truth and the spirit can touch any heart. I won’t be there to go back, but I’ll try to figure out what happens and let you know. She was really wonderful though and interested.
Funny side note about the intercambios... I did one this week with Elder Mortenson, one of the elders I trained. He is doing really well. We had a really successful day and I loved to see how much he has changed in the past 6 months. He has really grown up.
We baptized again this week. It was a really lovely baptism. It was a bright sunny day with lots of people who came. The father is a member and was able to baptize his kids. It was really one of those "How perfect" kind of moments. I’ll try to send pictures soon.
One of our recent converts, Oscar, he has taken up this saying. We keep on teaching him new things about the Gospel and he says, "Ah, mirà... que lindo"... or in English, "How wow, look at that... how lovely". He really loves the Gospel and everything it brings. He can’t stop learning and doing things in the church. Hopefully his son and daughter-in-law will get baptized this next month if everything goes well with the marriage and everything. They are such a wonderful family and wonderful people.
One last note: Our zone is number one in the mission and has been for two weeks straight. That probably doesn't sound that cool to any of you, but it does to me because I know the history of the mission. We are in the zone of Adroguè... which has the office elders and assistants. They can’t work all day because they need to be in the offices until 6 at night... sometimes later. So Adroguè has never been the number one zone in the mission. NEVER! Until NOW!!!! I was so excited that I wanted to do something for the zone... because we are rated on an average of every area... which means that every area is working well and hard. Well, I was pondering upon it and what I could do... when I went to a shoe shop to get my shoes fixed. The man was very nice and started talking about all sorts of things (I think he was a little lonely). He off handed-ly commented that he had received two large bags of leather that he was not going to use. I asked to see them and he said sure... and that I could take whatever I wanted for FREE!!! So I rummaged through the bags and pulled out a large stack of hard forest green leather. He looked at me like I was crazy and I asked if I could take it... he said that he had no use for it and that I could take it and whatever else from the bag I wanted. So I brought it home and started cutting. I’ve learned many tricks from my parents and friends about making things with limited tools. So I cut out agenda covers and then cut holes in them with a metal pen tip so that we can bind them to our agendas. I made 42 tops (it took a lot of time... I didn't sleep much). But today I finished them off and gave them to the zone as birthday present from me because they are all working so well. They turned out really well. I like them a lot and the zone was ecstatic. I’ll try to send picture of that too.
Anyway I’m doing well and am really tired. I’ve got to get going to work now... I love you all.
Elder Steinkuhler
PS I don’t have plans for my birthday... I will be working I think. The truth is that I have no idea what will happen.
PPS The World Cup for Soccer starts this week... I pray that Argentina doesn’t loose and that the USA doesn’t win... because if those things happen we’ll be in trouble.

Monday, May 31, 2010

they almost broke the building down with joy

So, last week I sent such a terrible letter that I thought I would try and send something a little better this week... so all week I wrote down little things to share with you all. Let us start with the weather, because it is always a good conversation starter.

I don't know if any of you keep track of the weather in the world (probably not... I wouldn't), but there has been a lot of rain here recently. So much rain in fact that the work is getting harder. This last Sunday we got caught in the rain with our Sunday clothes on and no preparation... let me explain. So, the church is like three miles from our house and our area is between us and the church. So we normally go straight to a member’s house to eat after church. Normally we leave our jackets at the member’s house and get them on our way home. Well, this Sunday we couldn’t. The member’s house was too far out of the way that we just went out in our suits, besides it was cold. We went to a new area to open it up... an area where there are no members and no investigators. Well, while contacting people it started to drizzle... and we found someone and entered the house. Right after leaving it started pouring down rain. So we took off and tried to find cover, but it was too late. We just went to the closest member (1.5 miles away) and then to the pinch because it took us so long to get there in the mud that we had to go straight home. The best part of the story is that the family we found is amazing. There was this lady that freaked out at the pamphlet we gave her and ran to a back room to pull out that same exact pamphlet. She said that she had received it like six months before and enjoyed it so much that she saved it waiting for us to come back. It was a wonderfully simple and spirit filled lesson. We taught and testified about The Book of Mormon and she and her family decided to read it together!

The photos are when I got home to the pinch. There was so much mud on me and I was so wet that I just jumped in the shower to wash me off. The difference between the photos is that one is from six months ago... when I wasn't in my suit... the new one is this week... in my suit.

Bad/good news... my shoes broke again. Don’t worry, I’ve fixed them... but anyway, here is what happened. About four months ago they broke, the stitching snapped. So I did a quick fix with the strongest thing I had... fishing string. It is plastic and I knew it would get old and break, but I had nothing else in the moment. Well, at a ward activity on Tuesday they asked me to play soccer for 10 minutes... during those ten minutes my shoes busted open. So I bought some good string and sewed them back up... no drama. But the coolest thing was that the members were all surprised that I could do it... so they started asking me about what I did before the mission and I was able to share my talents and help people in new ways, it was cool.

In my agenda I wrote down "shopping bags" but I don't remember why. I’ll think about it and get back to you.

Funny story, we went to a less active member’s house and sat down inside to teach them. Then someone clapped the house and the wife jokingly said, “Must be the Jehovah’s Witnesses”... turns out it was! So their father asked us to go out and greet them. With gusto I went out and we chatted a bit. It was funny seeing their faces. They were not expecting us to come out. We shared a bit of our message with them and them with us... then they left. It is always interesting being instantly recognized as a member of the LDS church. It happens here a lot, and I am glad to say that we do a pretty good job representing our Lord and Savior... If I’m allowed to say that.

One last thing: My companion and I have been working hard to do everything possible. We have been finding lots of new people and teaching lots of new lessons, but it all seems to be coming to nothing. We sat and talked about it and started thinking about how the Lord doesn’t always want us to do all these things just so we can baptize, but so we can be faithful. And then how sometimes when we do everything right, God just puts people in our paths. Well, about four days ago that blessing came. We went to visit a suffering member and their 11 year old son comes up from nowhere and asked us, “When can I get baptized?”. We thought he was some street punk because he is always dirty and never reliable. But we taught him and saw his sincerity and took out a fecha with him. Because of the rain we only had 8 members go to church. But this young boy that so willingly decided to get baptized got up early (without his parents) and came out in the rain with us to walk 2 miles in the mud to church. It is amazing the love people have for doing what is right and I love seeing the people be blessed for it. In about a week he will be baptized!

Sorry, LAST THING: We did a district activity for our district meeting. We went out of our church and tried to bring people into it to teach them. It was a really fun activity and in total we found 8 new people as a district. It was really cool! Oh, and our zone is doing really well... We have been all working hard and united-ly towards our goals and the assistants told me last night that according to our effort and efficiency scales in the mission... our zone is the highest!!! I loved seeing the other elder’s faces when we told them... they almost broke the building down with joy.

Okay, I’m gone. I love you all and want you to know that I am happy. I am working hard and looking fondly to the moment when I will see you all again. All my love again,

Elder Tommy Steinkuhler

PS Today we went bowling and I found out that I stink at it... There are a lot of things that need to be practiced within 2 years or you just lose your touch... like rock band.

Monday, May 24, 2010

putting our feet to the work

Well, another long week down. We had zone conference and stake conference. They were both amazing. I cannot believe that President Asay is going home before I do. I can’t imagine the mission without him.

We had a cool meeting this week with the stake president. He meets monthly with the zone leaders to chat about the stake. It was a great meeting and I was superbly impressed by how much the church is run by God’s election.

One cool thing: we put some great zone goals some time ago and are slowly accomplishing a lot. We have 8 baptisms for next week and found about 22 people more this week. I don’t have time to explain anything, but we are really excited and working hard to keep the increase going so fast.

We had some really spiritual lessons this week, but the biggest thing was putting our feet to the work and finding new people. We have been doing better at talking to lots of people and have been able to increase our teaching pool greatly.

Okay, I’m lame, but this is all I can send today. I’ve got to go and get ready for FHE tonight. I love you all. I’ll let you know more next week. I’m sorry this is so short. Today is an Argentine holiday (no idea what it is) so everything is running slow and making us late today.

Love you all,
Elder Tommy Steinkuhler

PS We will be baptizing 2 this week.