Sunday, August 9, 2015

One week more...

Hey there everybody! (especially to Mom and Dad down there in Mexico disfrutando la playa y el sol, un dia iremos juntos:) Just so you all know, I will be working this whole week like any other week, next tuesday will be my last pday where I will be able to write, and super early on wednesday morning I report to the mission home and will pass the whole day there with the missionaries leaving and Presidente and Hermana Smith, stay the night in the hostal there, and then head out on thursday afternoon to show up friday morning in Salt Lake. So dont you all get mushy on me now, Ive got to work my heart out this week and then next week we can go crazy, deal? Thanks:) There are very odd feelings going through my mind knowing that this is going to be my last week here in Uruguay, the sensation of being able to see my family and be at my home soon, mixed with the desire I have to keep doing what I am doing and see all the we on working on go through to the end. 
Today was fun and remenicent, we went on my last run through the historic part of Montevideo to get some things and have a good time just taking in the capital. Really just a fun time to talk and chill with Elder Neilson and enjoy where we are and what we are doing. We have one of the very very few churches that has a basketball hoop on the inside, so we also went over to the church early to play a little bit of hoops which was super fun, but I learned two hard lessons: 1) Elder Neilson plays dang good 2) Im a little more out of shape then I thought:) But it was still super fun to ball around American style. 
This past week has been absolutely amazing, and I feel like the Lord is coming through for us big time and blessing us for our efforts to follow the direccion of our leaders. We have been trying really hard to put everything that we have recieved in practice and we are really starting to see the fruits of it! There is a family in our ward in which the parents are less active but the two oldest sisters are trying to get ready to go on a mission, and one is a ward missionary, and she told us that her younger sister wants to get baptized, and she arranged everything with her family and we taught her, and she is really excited about the whole thing! Her name is cecilia and she is 12. She loves young womens and has really loved all of the lessons so far and we talked to her about being baptized and the importance of it, and she is willing to prepare herself to be baptized in a month! The mom doesnt really want us around, but we are hoping that through this excitement of the daughters we can get through to the mom again. 
There is also a older couple that has been members for a long time and that we have been working with since the time of Gonzalez and that have become active again (more her than he) but he has changed so much and is coming to church again! Her name is Mirta and she has recently told us about how badly she wants her kids and grandkids to be baptized and learn about the church, but doesnt know how. Then this week we showed up when two of their granddaughters were there that live close by, and there were both very interested and intrigued by the church, and both said they would go to church this week. (they didnt show up, but this week will be the week;) But it was just out of no where we ran into them and they were both so interested and excited to learn more! I feel so diferent in this house then I did when I first got there, they have really changed so much, it is increadible! 
As these and other awesome experiences have happened this past week, I keep thinking of the story of Jesus coming to the apostles after he has been resurected and he finds them fishing. After passing the entire night without fishing anything, He tells them to cast their nets on the RIGHT side of the boat, and they were unable to take up the net because it was full of fishes. If we work in the way the He wants us to do, and do thing the RIGHT way, being His way, we will have the sucess that we desire and that the Lord desires for us. (John 21)  We have really be working to help the ward put in practice the plan that we have recieved from the Area Presidency, and this past month we have progressed so much in that, and the results and miracles have just started to fly in! It is really something increadible! We keep working as hard as we can, following the direction we have recieved, unifying ourselves to the ward to hasten the Lords work, and the Lord is coming through for us bigtime! This place is going to explode! CERRO 8! 
I know that our Heavenly Father exists and loves me. For that reason I know that He equally loves each and every person here in the world and wants them to live right and be happy. I know that He is a just God, and there is no way to get around His demanding justice. Only through the atonement of Jesus Christ can we not only be made clean, pure, and inoccent before the father; but we can achieve our true potential and bring to pass His work and glory. I love Them, and am so grateful for the time that I have been given to dedicate this time of my life to them. I am still young and with much to learn, but as a twenty year old man, I have tithed my life, willingly giving ten percent of my time on this earth to be part of our Heavenly Fathers Army. The best decision I have made so far in my life. Hands down. I know this work is true and that the call has been made, and the work has been hastened. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Les quiero con todo mi amor!
Elder Zachary Degn

Ps. My good friend Ariel, the husband of a member that we are helping reactivate herself. He is not a member but he is a really good guy. They gave us a excelent asado this week to send me off!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tower of Terror...not really!! July 27, 2015

Whats up everyone! Wow this week sounded and looked awesome! Congrats to the boys for the baptism of Jake and Luke! You boys all look dang good in white, have I told you that? For reals though, thats soo cool! Also cannot believe that Clayton is married! Wow, thats soo crazy! All the cousins are looking so old in all of these fotos I hardly recognized much of them. Also, yes, very jealous of mom and dad, that sounds like such a fun trip!! Couldnt have waiting another week to make it a trip for three?;) Haha nah jk you kids go have a good time, feliz aniversario! 
Today was really fun, we went bowling for our zone activity and it was tons of fun to be with the whole zone in that little underground bowling place. It really looked like everyone had a really fun time, and it was fun to be together with the whole zone. Our zone is so big area wise that we are hardly ever together, so it was fun to be together for a little bit. Elder Neilson bowled really bowled well for not having been in so long, and I pleasantly surprised myself with my performance, the best I have done since Ive been here. After that we went and saw some sights and went to a big builing that has a little look out from one of the top floors that looks over all of Montevideo, and it was sweet to get a arial view of the city. We rode up to the 22 floor in a elevator that faces outside, and it felt a little old, and about half way up I had that feeling like I was on the tower of terror and that it was going to let us drop, haha but luckilly it made it just fine.
This week was also so cool! In our area there are sooo many people that were baptized in the past two years, more than we can help at the same time, but we have been working really hard to help them keep learning and stay strong and progresing in the church, and this week we had a huge pay off. We had a ward temple trip for new members and we got to go to work in the bapistry with them. The temple is the ultimate goal for us and all of God´s children, the majority of them went for the first time to do baptisms, but there were two sisters that went to take out their own endowments. One, Elizabeth, was baptized a little more that a year ago, and recently recieved her patriartical blessing which was a huge spiritual boost for her, and now recieved her endowments, and the truth is that she came out a changed person. It really helps us so much to open our minds and to strenghten our relationship with our Heavenly Father. I have been studying a lot about ordenances and convenants recently to help teach and prepare these people for the temple, and it really made me realize the importance that they play in our lives and in God´s plan. We need covenants to be able to progress and make our way toward God, and through sacred ordenances we recieve and make covenants. I love the scripture that is in D&C 84:20. The power of God is made manifest in the ordenances. We can only recieve the saving ordenances once for ourselves, but the Lord allows us to go to the temple so we can still participate in the ordenances and feel of His power and spirit. Other thing, ordenances for our ancestors, such a blessing. We spent a long time explaining that to a couple of people this week and it really just makes perfect sence, its just hard to wrap your mind around the first time. It was honestly such a great experience to see all of these people that we have been working with make it to the temple and see them all dressed in white, the feeling of equality is amazing. Everyone looks so good and happy in the temple, no matter circumstances they may come from. Its a beautiful thing. 
Also Diego and Yanina went and started the paper work for their wedding!! Diego wants to get baptized so bad, and so they went and got everything rolling and on saturday had a big party to celebrate their engagement! He is super excited and is coming along awesome! I am really hoping that they are able to get married before I go, we will have to see, it is usually a kinda long process. Its going to be cutting it close, but I dont think I will be here for the baptism. They will know for sure what day they get married NEXT week, so hopefully it works out alright. This family is awesome!
This past week and this week right now we are going through a bit of a person focus shift. It is interesting seeing the changes in who you focus on and teach throughout the course of a few months, but we are working close with our ward leaders to see some really good progress and follow the plan of the area that we have recieved to work on TOGETHER. There is so much potential here and we are still looking for those that are the most prepared to progress at this time. It is going to be a good week! 
Thank you guys so much for everything you do for me! I love you all soo much!
Con amor,
Elder Degn
ps. Me and Elder Neilson in the overlook of the city! That is the cerro in the backround, we live almost at the top!!

Golf outing...July 20, 2015

First off it is super weird to see Nate and KJ home together, it feels like just the other day it was me and KJ there by ourselves...It me up with a foto of Joe as well if you can! Glad to hear that everyone is enjoying their summer activities, we are having some beautiful weather here so we cannot complain one bit. This past week has been AWESEOME! Especially with this pday, there is a ton we did, so I will try to touch on everything. There are two or three golf courses in Montevideo, and there is one in Cerro, actually in our area, and there is a hermano that plays in our ward, and so we set up to go with him to play golf, so early this morning we headed out with him to go hit a round and it was so dang fun! Elder Neilson plays super well, and apart from it being super windy, and breaking off some rust in the first holes, we played really good for not having touched clubs in so long. The course is so sweet becuase it goes right along the beach on the bottom of the cerro and I felt almost like I was playing at Pebble Beach...almost;) President Smiths son Jerry plays really well so we invited him too and so he came out and played a couple of holes with us. He played a ton before they came down to Uruguay and was getting pretty big if I understand right, so it was fun to see him play. Lets just say that yeah, he´s good. He is a good kid and it was fun to hang out with him a little bit as well. After golf me and Elder Neilson went on the scenic walk down by the beach and it was such a nice day we just sat and drank it in looking over the harbor and seeing Montevideo. Such a awesome view and a amazing city. I love it!! Neilson and I are also wearing our gaucho bombachas (Gaucho pants) trying to just look kinda classy:) So yeah, that was today, and besides having my face super windburned and having sore hands, it was a pretty sick day!
This week has been incredible though! It has been a little frustrating with some of our people because really dumb little things keep coming up that get in the way of their progression. Not them not wanting, just having hard things coming up in very inconvenient moments. But we will get there. This week we were teaching a hermana that is coming back to church and her grandson walked in and we starting talking to him as well and he is a very inteligent guy that has looked up a ton of information about tons of ideas and that has honestly watched to much of Discovery Channel programs about aliens and the bible and stuff like that, but lucklily i too watched those programs so I could answer his questions! Haha not really but it did make me think about mom telling me to not watch those shows. We were able to answer a lot of his questions and he was really interested and we are going to be going back to talk to him again this week and give him a book of mormon to read. He said something that really impacted me though, he said that there are no limits, the only limit is ignorance. It really made me think about that, and its true I think, the only thing that keeps us from being able to do things is the lack of knowledge to know how to work or how to do a certain thing. That motivates me to learn more about everything! In the mission I have felt a very strong desire to learn about a lot of different things especially including the gospel. Recognizing how little we really know and how much we need to depend in God is something that helps people stay humble and not letting pride rise up in their hearts. There is so much that we dont know nor understand, and the more we look and work hard to learn, the more the lord will bless us in our efforts. 
The week went really well and the ward is making some huge progress right now, and it all got topped off yesterday with a awesome turnout to church! It is so nice to see fruit of the labor, even if it isnt all we wanted, it was a big progress! When President Smith served his mission in Uruguay 35 years ago, Casabó was his first area, and there a a bunch of people that are still here from that time that we still work with (and him too) and so he comes out every now and then for church. After church there was a hermana that is a good friends of his that wanted him to go visit a family that we found with her this past week of menos activos that knew him. (pte smith) So he asked if we could go with him there right then. Of course we said yes and went cruising through Casabó in his car which was super different and went to visit that family and he helped them out a ton, then they told him about someone else that still was around from that time, so we went to her as well, and then she told us about her two daughters that Pte baptized when he was there, and so we went to go find them as well, and it just turned into a big chain treasure hunt. It was amazing to see Pte with his converts and friends from his mission and see him give everything to help them and bring them back to the church. It was amazing to see how well everyone still remembered him and those times, it was something very special for them. Elder Neilson and I just felt blessed to have been with him and help him help these people as well. Really a awesome day for us! 
The work will always go on and there is nothing in the world that can stop it!! I love what I do and I love so much where I am!! 
I love you guys so much, thank you for being the best family out there! 
Con amor,
Elder Degn

 Heel click of Victory!!

Little reassurances...July 14, 2015

Hey there guys! I sent you guys all those pictures not because I feel jealous about all of the peruvian pictures, or the pictures of KJ...but they are all sweet fotos for reals! Making me really excited to go out to peru someday soon!! You guys have also got to give KJ a big hug for me!  Im sure you are all wondering why we are writing  today, it was because yesturday we had a big zone conference with all the Montevideo zones, so we had pday pushed to today. It was a sweet conference and I really learned a ton from President, and we are changing a couple of things in the mission to be more efective and use all the tools we have been given to put in practice the Area plan that we have recieved. Every zone conference all the missionaries that just started and that are ending give their testimonies, so that meant me. I couldn't believe that I am the ending group of missionaries, and it was a surreal feeling, especially because I had a ton of friends there, and it just felt weird thinking that it was my last time. It was really cool because after sharing my testimony I had a huge peaceful feeling come over me. Just a little reasurance I think, it made me feel so good, and soo excited for the last month!

Today has been really fun with Elder Neilson, this is his first time serving in Montevideo so I gave him the pretty good personalized tour. We hit up the pocitos beach with the Montevideo sign, and then played pool and ate mickey-D´s in cuidad vieja. It was super fun and it was great for Elder Neilson to get a feel for the other end of montevideo, we dont really get out of the cerro very much, so it is nice to see the other parts of the city and get a feel for a big south american capital city. He has only been in the interior his whole mission, so it is fun to see him getting out of the small-city boy feel. 

This past week has been great though! I absolutely love being with Elder Neilson! Apart from being one of my best friends he helps me so much to be a better person and missionary. He has such good desires to work and to be obedient that I find myself trying to work harder to be better just to keep up with him. Our big highlight of this week was with the Ramirez family. We went and tought about the gospel of Jesus and Diego told us that he really wants to get baptized! He told us that he really wanted too but that he couldnt because he wasnt married. We talked to them all about it and the importance of the family (luckily her family is a pretty darn good example) and they decided that they are going to start getting the paperwork going to get married!! We were soo pumped!! I was a little worried about how it was all going to happen, but the Lord just keeps showing me that I dont need to worry. Diego has such a genuine desire to learn and do these things, and I am so excited to see things working out for them. It can be a pretty complicated process, so Im really hoping that they are able to get everything done alright. 

We had a great charla with Juan again this week but for some reason he didnt come to church, but he acts the same and is still excited about everything so we will are really going to try to help him make it this week. 
This past week we also had our mission leadership meeting and we learned a lot more about the plan that the Area has made for the wards here to put in practice, it has been taking awhile to get everything going because they are some pretty big changes, but now we understand everything a lot better and we have made big steps with our ward which has sooo much potential! It is a awesome ward, and if we are able to get this all put in practice this place is going to explode! I love this ward and Casabó, there is no limit to what we can acheive here! 
Also this week we read the book of John pondering the relationship that exists in between the Father and the Son. Really made me feel a lot closer to my Heavenly Father and made me want to be a better man and be always willing to do His will. If you have time, I recomend it.
Thank you so much for everything that you guys do for me!! I love you tons!!
Elder Z. Degn

Monday, July 6, 2015

What? Our moms together?

Well this is probably been the craziest day of my life! The week I get made companions with one of my boys you guys meet his family! That is sooo nuts! We were honestly both freaking out so much when we saw those pictures! The world is such a small place! When he got here he told me that his family was at aspen grove and we were thinking that maybe his parents would tell Scott, but we had no idea that you guys would all meet up...really cant even believe it. But it is super awesome! They sound like great people, I cant believe they have so many connections to our family too! It has been soo awesome to be with Elder Neilson already, he has a year and two months in the mission and is already helping me out a ton with everything! It is basically like having my brother come down to be my last companion, couldnt have asked for it any other way. 

It was weird to say goodbye to Gonzalez, he has already written me and sent a bunch of fotos, he says thanks for the package, he loved it. Speaking of that I got the other package of ties and Presidents book! Haha I had seen it before but it was weird to have my own, we looked over it and the majority of that stuff he has taught us out here, combined with gospel principles. Really good stuff. 

Our week was cut pretty short for the changes and such and getting ready for the mission leadership meeting which is tomorrow, but we have already had some awesome charlas together and Elder Neilson is a natural. It is awesome working with him, for his time he teaches and works very well, and is really helping me continue to improve. He gets along really well with all the members so far, and we are seeing some big steps being taken by a lot of people we are teaching. We have made some good goals and this week is going to be great getting to everyone and helping them keep progressing!

Im so excited for this change and to be where I am, and to have this time to make myself even better, there is pletty to do. 
Thank you guys for everything you do for me and for being the best family I know! I love you guys so much!
Con amor,
Elder Degn

Friday, July 3, 2015

Adios Gonzalez!!!

Hey everybody! Can't believe that Hannah is already getting back down to her Peru!! I'm jealous of her even though I am still here in Uruguay! I hope that Josh and Dad have a good time, it sounds like a blast! Hope josh enjoys the feeling of not understanding anything. Basically the first two or three months in the mish;)

Well the time has come, my good man Elder Gonzalez is signing out tomorrow. He has sprinted to the end and has been a huge example to me in many ways, he definitely helped me out more than I was able to help him. I do know that we both learned a ton together, and two changes have never gone by faster than these two. I feel like the mother that let her son go and serve in a far-away place, just that now I am sending my brother back into the world in which we live, having seen him completely dedicate and consagrate himself in this time, now having to adapt but keep doing what he knows he needs to do. I love this guy and I am really going to miss him. He was exactly what I needed to get me ready for my LAST change....can you guys believe that? I cant....but I am definitely going to be going out on a BLAST! My last companion in the mission is going to be.........Elder Neilson!!! One of my best friends in the mission! We were in Rivera together for four changes, then lived together for two changes in Paysandu, and now he is stepping up to the big leagues and coming down to Cerro to be my comp! I can't even explain how happy and pumped I am!! This is going to be the best change ever! Gonzalez is going to head out to the mission home early tomorrow, and I will be spending the day in tres cruzes, helping out with changes, always a blast;) 
But apart from all of that stuff this week has been amazing! The first miracle was that the packages that you sent for the both of us got here the last mail day that Gonzalez had. We were both sooo excited and loved everything, thank you guys sooo much! It honestly came in the perfect moment, Gonzalez was really happy, it meant a lot to him. He says thanks. 
This week was super crazy as well because of the copa america, I dont know if you guys have been watching or seen anything, but lets just say that the Uruguayans have very good reason to be furious with Chileans, and they are. Very very very very upset. Every house we go to it is just back and forth in good humor, but you can see that it hurts inside;) Haha now when people ask us in the street where we are from or something he says America or Mexico or something, haha it has been super crazy!
Everyone that we have been teaching is doing really well, Juan is right there still moving foward, the Ramirez family is doing SUPER good, turning on all wheels right now. I cant believe the change that has happened in them, and they just keep going foward! We have also been imensly blessed with another family that we have been teaching off and on because they havent really had a place where we could go visit them, but they finally settled down and we went this week and taught them about the book of mormon and it was fantastic! Rocina, the mother, is so smart! I have already said something about her before, but she knows so much and just takes everything in stride. When they found out that Gonzalez was leaving, they invited us over for dinner before he left, after our THIRD visit! They are awesome! We ate with them last night and it was great. They are so good with us and are just genuine people! I love it!
Well I just want you guys to know how much I love you all and how grateful I am to be where I am and do what I do. Couldnt have made a better desicion in my life. 
Thanks for everything!
Con amor,
Elder Degn
ps. Did I forget to say that Gonzalez is a jerky addict? Because he is!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Elder Gonzalez last P-day!!!

Hey what's up everybody!! Sounds like everyone is doing good, it's hard to believe that it is summer full-throttle out there because here it is super cold. I definitely like it more than the heat, so I won't complain. (And because every house we go to gives us hot chocolate or cebada, that helps a lot too:) Today has been really fun, Elder Gonzalez´s last free pday! We went for one last  pass for the ciudad vieja, ate at subway (his favorite) and then went and played a  couple of  games of pool at the same place we go to do bowling. Haven't played pool for a long time but it was super fun and Gonzalez plays super well. He took me to town the first game but I was just breaking the rust off and handed it to him pretty good the second game. Really fun though!!

This week has been awesome, even though we had a lot that didn't pan out our way. First off, Edrian and his family are doing sooooo goood!!! This week they sent us a text asking when we could come by to start teaching the boyfriend of the daughter. Out of no where this guy is super motivated and is really interested! We had a good ward activity and talked with him a lot there and built a good relationship, then went to their house the next day and the guy has already read all of first Nefi! We just looked at each other shocked! He knows a ton and understands really well and we have some really big hopes for him, he would help this family out a ton. Out of no where this family has basically become the most active family in the ward, so awesome! 

Juan is doing well, just a  bunch of little things keep getting in the way. A big miracle that is happening in his life right now is that out of nowhere he has re-kindled the relationships with all of his siblings that live close in Montevideo,  which has been awesome for them, but almost every weekend someone invites him to go spend a couple of days with their family and he always goes with the intentions of getting back for church, but we all know how it is to get away from family sometimes....joking;) But that is really the only thing that is keeping him from getting baptized right now. A little frustrating but it will work out here in a couple of weeks. 

We are also in the full fury of the copa america, and on Saturday afternoon Uruguay played thier last placement game, and we knew there was no way we would be getting into anybodies house without getting stuck watching the game, so we went out to  Santa Catalina, a litte part of our area outside of casabo, looking to have a charla with Katy, but no dice. We started walking around with no one to visit, and a guy that we  had talked with before in the street (while he was  really drugged up) invited us over, he was outside of a little shop cutting wood with a axe. We talked for  a minute  and  asked if we knew how to cut wood, my comp said no, I said yes, and he wanted me to go for it. The family that ran the store came out and we talked with them, and the guy really wanted me to cut wood, so I took off my coat and chopped a little bit for them. After hitting the huge stump as hard as I could a couple of times the owner showed me how you've got to cut it in pieces and work towards the center because it was rock solid. Then they put up a smaller one and in two swings I split it real good and  left them all impressed. There is a video on the girls facebook page somewhere...I´ll be looking it up when I get back:) It was really fun and we built a good relationship with them, but my hands and arms still kind of hurt...;) 
This is Elder Gonzalez´s last week and we are super pumped! It really doesnt feel like he is going home, we joke about it but it doesnt seem real. Its gonna be a great week!

I have learned a ton recently about the Law that God has and the proccess that is requiered to fulfill the law and recieve mercy. Really awesome stuff, Alma 42 is full of it, something so simple yet so profound. Look it up. 
Thanks for everything guys, I love you all so much!!!
Elder Degn
ps. Edrian and his brother Nicolas!