Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Feliz Año Nuevo!

Is it really the last day of 2013? I can't believe it. Four months already. But it was sooo good to talk to you guys on Chirstmas! Execpt everyone just seems so much older and I dont know how much I'm ok with that. Looked like an awesome time and I hope you guys enjoy the rest of your time off.

So, we didn't go to the temple which really bummed us out. The trip got canceled the day before because the was not enough people from the district of Colonia that were signed up to go. A little disappointed, but all is well. Presidente Smith is starting something this year where a least one zone will go to the temple every month, so it shouldn't be too long. I gave some money to my ZL to buy me some scriptures when they go to montevideo this week for concelio.

Also we got our changes and I am staying in Rosario and Dio left for the zone of Cerro, right outside of montevideo. On Saturday we had a celebration with pizza and cake and everything and had a good time, then on Sunday night we had to travel to Colonia because all the people leaving Colonia left at five in the morning on Monday. So on sunday we also learned that my comp was arriving at midnight and that we had to pick him up from the terminal when he arrived. We were with the other elders from our house because one of them was leaving too, so we walked around Colonia a little bit and went and watched the sunset at the beach. It was beautiful and I loved it. Not trunky at all. Then we went and picked up my new comp Elder Sanchez! He is from Paraguay and speaks very little english, but we speak spanish together all the time anyway. After staying the night in Colonia we went back to Rosario and got him all set up and talked a little bit about the area. It made me realize how much work we really have here. Elder Sanchez just came from a solid ward in Mercedez, where they had an awesome system of members and good relations with menos activos y todos. But in Rosario we have none of that. But we are going to change that. He is coming in with all the energy that this area needs. He knows how to do things right, and Rosario is going to change. Yesterday we went out for the first time and visited one of our members and a couple of investigators and it was great. Elder Sanchez is really good at tying everything back to the gospel very quickly and really bringing the spirit. Just from yesterday I was able to see a glimpse of light that we havent had in awhile. I'm super pumped for this change! Its also very nice to just speak spanish. In these two days we have been together, I have improved so much. I can't wait to get even better.

I loved so much to see you and talk to you, and I hope everything continues to go well!! I love you so much and cant wait to hear from you again!

All my love,

Elder Degn

ps. This is our American tribute in the plaza de deportes. No idea.



Sunday, December 29, 2013

I'm Mr. Heat Miser...I'm Mr. Sun...

Fa, Snow already? Ive never been so jealous of snow in my life. I will always enjoy winter so much more now. But I've actually gotten used to it now, so its just a fact of keep moving even when its super hot. But wow, sounds like a pretty crazy week for you guys. Of course the week before Christmas always is, but even with all your other stuff going on now, good work balancing all the time. Christmas break is basically my favorite time of year. Just relaxing and doing nothing but watch tv, play xbox with my boys, and eat good food. The best it can get. I also recieved my package this week! THANK YOU SO MUCH! It was super nice to get all that stuff, and the beef jerky almost brought me to tears.

So this week has been a service oriented week. I dont know why everyone chooses to paint their houses in the beginning of summer, but that is definitely the trend here. We went last week to a friend of one of our members who has built a little apartment in the back of her house to rent out but needs it painted first. We went last week for the first time, then twice this week. We spent about fours hours working each time and then she fed us lunch which was clutch because it is the end of the month and we are crunching down on the little money we still have. But it is interesting to see how the people are different even here. This woman is all about quality and is pretty well off. The building was very well built, but still just cinderblock and tin. But you cant paint on cinderblock, so the first two days we primed the whole thing by painting a cement mix on it. Which doesn't wash off very well in the shower. But it all worked out very well, and actually looks pretty darn good if I say so myself. We also went a different day to a different investigator to finish painting their house we started last week as well. Really turning into the pretty seasoned painting crew here. But it is really nice to get to work and just help people out for free. That makes a big difference to these guys.

Also we had our branch Christmas party on Saturday and it was very interesting. We invited all the members, inactives, and some investigators, and it was attended by about five people not involved in planning it. A little bit of a let down, but still a good night with those that came. It was a little awkward because it started three hours late because our relief society wasnt down making the gifts for everyone. Once we started it was good and had some really good food, then after eating the missionaries had a couple songs prepared, but it turned into just a group sing along which was really fun. We had a fun time just singing everyones favorite hymn and then some christmas ones too. Music is such a strong tool to bring the spirit. That is why we start every lesson with a song. Usually a duet between me and Dio. ( We are getting pretty good)

Also, last night was one of the coolest things ever! Our number one investigator Dante is super active in his Valdense church, and he invited us to their christmas worship service/musical program. We called Presidente Smith and got special permission to go because it started at nine at night, and was in their church. The program was in the back of their church and there were just a bunch of seats put out. It was wierd to have a christmas summer out door concert. There were two choir groups that performed. The Rosorio choral group performed and were super good. They did a bunch of a capella numbers and it was really good. Then the church choir did their performance which the story of Christs birth mixed with a bunch of songs. It was really interesting to watch and over all very good. They had a great turnout and they all looked at us all very disapprovingly for the most part. We just smiled the whole time and said hi to a lot of them. Dante was a champ by introducing us to the pastor and some of his friends, and they were all super nice. Even invited us to socialize after and eat with them. Thats the Christmas spirit for ya. It was an awesome performance and it was a big deal to Dante to have us there to support him. Gotta love it!

Well kiddos, cant wait to talk to you all in a few days! Keep up the work and see you soon!

Love you all,

Elder Degn


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Too hot for Christmas!

Hey there kiddos!

Man I cant believe its already almost Christmas!! Thats crazy! It sure looks like a bunch of fun and I do miss this time of year back in the states. How is everyone feeling with the new bish in the house? Pretty crazy Im sure. It will be sweet im sure of it. Im glad to hear the meeting went so well, not surprised, our ward is great. I was just thinking yesterday how I have not been to a Sunday with more than thirty people since I left. Sure miss that ward. Also, tell the Jacksons thank you for their package. It was great to get some stuff from them, especially the American quality toothbrush. You can also tell them the whole package was thouroughly searched by customs. I opened it and all the little packages inside were opened very roughly. But I think I still got everything. Im surprised they didn't take the orange sticks.
But this week was great! On Wednesday we went to Montevideo to hear from Elder Gonzalez of the seventy and it was awesome. He pretty much just asked us what were the biggest things we were having problems with as a mission and he based his remarks off of that. The things we gave him were people not getting married but having a family and living together(all the time btw), working on Sunday, smoking and drinking(everyone as well) and just things like that. He was really good and he tied everything back to aumentar su fe. Building faith in Christ is how we can overcome all these things. If we have faith and believe all these things can happen, then through Christ it WILL happen. It was really a sweet meeting and we all got to personally meet him and give him a hug. Also it was the first time I met Hermana Smith because she was sick when we got here. When we went by and shook her hand she only talked to me in Spanish which she is still struggling with. Its funny because she thought I was latino. Once that spanish gets there....

Also this week we went to contact a reference of our recent convert Carlos. He warned us that she probably wouldn't want to talk about religion because she was super catholic but that we should still visit her. We went and knocked on her door and the first thing she did was invite us in and have us sit in the main room(Never happens) and within five minutes we had a drink in our hands and she was asking questions about our church. I was stunned at what had happened and how there was a eighty year old woman was able to function and have the energy this one did. I dont know how much we can get in to her because she mostly just asks out of an acedemic mindset, but hopefully we can make her see how true it is.

Also we met with our number one investigator a couple of times this week and he is crazy. His name is Dante and he is the smartest Uruguayo I have ever met. He goes to the Valdense church, but knows so much. He has read the church website and asks the craziest questions. We have already covered D&C, temples, eternal life, and polygamy. its crazy. But he came to church yesterday which was sooo sick! He started talking to a couple members and got along super well, so hopefully we can help get him moving a little better with their help.

Well folks, I hope you guys enjoy this week and the weather. Still sweating 24/7 here. It's pretty bad to just be used to having sweat running down your face and arms. People say we have this glow about us, but really its just sweat glistening on our foreheads;) I sure love you guys and cant wait to hear about all the great things this week will bring. Bendiciones!

Love you all,

Elder Degn

ps- This is me and my dad and my grandpa. He is finishing the mission next week, so this is the last family portrait.
And a picture of a room in our apartment. 



Monday, December 2, 2013

Feliz Deciembre!

Feliz Deciembre!

Man December already? It is really hard to believe, mostly because its like 90 degrees and super humid every day. I pray for rain alot because it gives us about two days of cooler weather. But man, Thanksgiving really looked like a blast. Its so fun that everyone was able to make it, everyone just looks so much older when I am out here. The truth is that Thanksgiving just came and went for us. I might have cried a little on Wednesday night when I thought about all the pie I wasnt eating. (I didnt, but I did miss it) We went and painted again for the less (NON) active woman again on Thursday and she fed us lunch which was great. Some rice and potato and hot dog mush held together with a lot of mayonnaise. A lot. They love it here. I ate two plates no problem, but when she asked us to finish the rest, the third plate, nearly did me in. Quite the Thanksgiving feast eh?

Well this week has been really good. We went to one of our pretty active sisters houses and her and her daughter had both been having some health issues. Her daughter has never at all been even the slightest bit interested in the church, and this was the first time we ever talked to her. We reminded the sister that we have the priesthood and asked if she would like a blessing. They both said yes, so we gave them both a blessing. This was my second time doing the annointing, and after the first when Dio basically told me the whole thing as I said it, I worked hard to memorize it in Spanish. So I was able to annoint both of them perfectly in Spanish and it makes all the difference. We gave them both blessings to help them and you could see that it really made a difference for them. It was super sweet.

I have also realized that I dont talk enough just during lessons and while we chat, so one of my goals has been to talk more. I have really started doing that this week and I can really see the difference it makes. I am able to share a little bit more than I could have, and things really just come. It really makes the difference to me when I am participating in trying to help them, and seeing that they understand everything I say really gives me the boost I need. The Lord needs us to try our hardest in order to bless us, and I am definitely seeing that.

Also in church this week our just baptized investigator was confirmed into the church. Our District President was there, (stake president if it were a stake, he is president over all the branches in colonia) but he and our branch president and my companion and I were the only ones in the circle, and that is the first time I have ever stood in on a confirmation, and man, they are awesome. They spirit is definitely there when you confirm someone a member of the church and give them the gift of the holy ghost. It was an awesome experience and I cant wait to do it again.

We have one or two really promising investigators right now, but we have found some poeple that may really be ready to hear the gospel.

Well im really glad to hear how well you are all doing and that you can kick this cold bug going around. I have really been blessed to not have gotten sick like that yet. Well I love you all and hope you enjoy this first week of December. I love you all and cant wait to see you all soon!

Much love, Elder Degn



Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Man it is so crazy to think that it is this time of the year already. Congrats to Matt and have fun on that team with good ol Scotty. Also, props to my man Josh for rocking the tux and having a super fly date too;) You kids have fun out there in Erie PA. And to everyone! It sounds super fun and this is definitely a super fun time, so enjoy all the good food for me!

This week has been a whirlwind, mostly because of the preparation for our investigator Carlos. He has had a really rough time getting to baptism and we have had to have some really crazy charlas with him. We had a charla with him on Friday with our branch president Presidente Rodas and it was super good. We really never have member lessons because there are so few. But it really makes a difference. We covered just about everything with him and Carlos felt really good about everything. So we thought. On Saturday our ZLs came and gave him a formal interview that lasted about a hour and fifteen minutes and came out saying we should wait. We went in and talked with Carlos and realized that he was struggling with tithing. Its understandable for these people to have this doubt because they have nothing. Carlos litterally does not make hardly anything. We had already made all the arrangements for his baptism, so this was hard for us to take. We left him with a commitment to read and pray and ponder during the sacarament about what he should do. On Sunday morning when we got him to the chapel, he talked with Presidente Rodas for a little bit and after sacrament he said he wants to get babtized, so we went on as planned! It is just a crazy roller coaster sometimes, and he was feeling up and down all week, but felt like a million bucks after the baptism. It was awesome to just be a part of everything that happens here.

Also on saturday we spent about six hours working in our capilla with our presidente cleaning and working in the back. Its not a legit capilla so there is a little bit of a back yard that had been overgrown and was like a little jungle. It took awhile but it really looks better now, and we wont have to worry about it for awhile now.

This week was the first of this new change and we had an awesome capacitacion de zona to get it started. Colonia is the only zone that is not a stake in Uruguay, and this is the goal of the Presidente Smith. Since there is no stake president here, he has the keys for Colonia and the goals he sets for us are really high but it is what is needed to get the work moving faster here. We are already seeing the progress all over Colonia. We are still the smallest branch, but it is gettting better every week.

Also, yeah, its getting supa hot. Not just hot, but humid too. Almost everyday I can just feel sweat on me. I dry off after my shower and it basically starts then. It can cool off a little bit, but the humidity just kills yeah. Its not even full blown summer here. And I am in the coolest area of the country. Its going to be a nice fun summer for sure.

Well kids, I know it isnt too much this week, the baptism took a lot of our time this week becasue we had to pretty much prepare everything. But everything is going pretty darn well. Me and my padre made a goal to speak spanish to each other a lot more this change to really help me so I can get my spanish up there to be able to get by on my own after this change. I cant wait because I always feel like I learn something after everytime I speak because I do something wrong and get corrected, then never forget what I did wrong. Its coming for sure.

Thanks for everything you guys do for me. I am so grateful to have come from our family and for the love and support we have for one another. Everynight I thank the Lord for all your love and support. Gracias por todos. Les amo muchisimo. Espero que ustedes disfrutan este semana con todo nuestras familia!

I love you all,

Elder Degn

 This is me doing my laundry in the backyard with the neighboring cat that stalks me...

Thursday, November 14, 2013


But yeah, everything down here is going pretty darn well. The missionwide goal is to double the attendence of church, and our branch has a base of 15, and we have been in the twenties for three weeks strait which means we are getting there. Its crazy how full it feels when we have all these people come. Can't imagine what it is going to be like when I get back. We are one of the only places that does not have a church built chapel, but I really like the building we meet in. Even though the chapels here are really nice and I would really like one. 

 The Zone Conference in Mercedes was soo good! We learned so much and Presidente Smith really showed us some awesome ways to commit people to pray and read. He is asking everyone to memorize them and our creencias for when we are visited by the a member of the 70 in December. Im pretty sure my zone is going to Montevideo for this, pretty pumped. But Mercedes is a pretty big city surrounded by just open countryside. That is basically all of the country. We literally drove for two hours without seeing one city. Colonia is one of the only zones that has more than two cities big enough for missionaries. This country is just wide open space. But it is soo beautiful! I love the sunsets because even when the sun is completely down the horizon is still orange because the country is so flat.

But the work is definitely moving and the spanish is coming along too! We have an investigator that we found last week that is ridiculously smart. Usually we give very simplified lessons because that is what the people can understand, but this guy was studying to be a pastor of a different church awhile ago so he just asks us about our doctrine and beliefs. I wish I could talk better because I can answer his questions very well in English but it takes me too long to put it together in Spanish to help too much. But yeah we have already covered the crazy backstory of the LdM and put all the Mormon rumors to pasture. (polygamy) But he really likes us and is preparing more questions for our next visit. I know the church will work for him because not only is it true because we feel the spirit confirm it to us, but also because from an educated standpoint, it works. If you have faith and believe in a God, then everything else can work so easily. He asked us to sign his book of mormon too, and that was pretty cool.

The thing that I always am suprised by is the kindness of the people here. They give us so much when they have so little. Even people that are not members will still give us something to drink or a snack or something, when I can see there is not really any sign of food in their kitchen. It really warms the soul and makes me want to help them. There is a family that we go to to sing to their 92 year old deaf grandma. We go so we can build a realationship with the family and hopefully they will allow us to teach them. They arent religious at all so its a bit of a tough start. But their little kids are the best. They have three little boys that like singing with us and they like praying too. Those are the best part of my day. When a little kid tells the lord he is grateful for the pastors that are helping his grandma, thats when I knew its worth everything to be out here.

It sure sounds like you guys are going to be having a pretty crazy week, and I cant wait to hear how everything goes! I love you all and love hearing how well everything is going! I am almost done with my first change! six weeks here, crazy how time flies.

All my love, Elder Degn

Monday, November 4, 2013

Hola muchachos!

If there is one thing that I love about being in a pretty tough area, it is that you really appreciate the little miracles that happen everyday. That is about all we get. Some have been things that I would not even think about happening to us. Elder Diotaiuti and I were walking down a street the other day looking for a woman we contacted earlier and wanted to talk to us again, but she didn’t really have an address so we were walking blind. Dio asked me to say a prayer and I asked Heavenly Father to guide us to someone that would help us. We went up a different street and went to a house that had been contacted a long time ago but we gave it a shot. This young woman came out and it turned out she is related to the person we were looking for! Crazy! We are going to go back and teach their family sometime too, it was just crazy!

Also, our mission president has asked every chapel to have activities every day of the week to invite people to things other than our weekly services. The only day we dont have anything is Monday(noche de hogar) and Tuesday we play basketball at the plaza de deportes, Wednesday is futsal in the capilla,Thursday is ping-pong and more futsal, Friday is clases de ingles, Saturday is noche de rama(branch night), and Sunday is tarde de pelicula(movie night). We have a bunch of young kids that have never talked to missionaries come and play sports with us and it is super fun to get to know these kids and slowly introduce them to the gospel and just give them a good idea about missionaries. We have a ten year old kid that lives right next to the chapel who is in a less active family but they let him come to all our activities. He is super quiet but we like hanging out with him. On Sunday we have our movie night and watched the Testaments and that movie brings the spirit so strongly at the end. When it was over we explained everything about the Book of Mormon to him and gave him one. I hope that he is able to read it and enjoys it. I know the spirit was there and hopefully he felt it too.

We have one real progressing investigator right now that has been investigating the church but never came through with baptism. We discovered a pretty serious problem he had and called the Mission President for guidance. He was going to be in Colonia on Saturday for a meeting with all the branch presidents here and he said he would stop in Rosario on his way back to Montevideo and go visit him with us. I couldn’t believe how well it worked out. He came and gave one of the best lessons I have ever heard. Dio and I just watched in shock. He just taught verse by verse chapter 31 of 2nd Nephi. The doctrine of Christ. He made it so simple and brought the spirit sooo strong. It went a totally different direction than either of us were thinking it would go. At the end he commited him to be baptized in three weeks, and he accepted! I really hope he will be able to go through with this, he has the faith for sure.

So we are moving forward step by step, slowing getting into more houses and meeting more people. I am proud to say that I have been cooking some pretty good stuff lately. I can make a pretty good pasta and sauces for rice. That’s about what we eat every day, we just mix us sauces and meat and stuff. That’s just the cheapest and easiest. So any ideas besides that would be great!

Halloween was super mello here and it’s hard to believe it’s already November! It is getting warm real quick and we had a rainstorm that was crazy and lasted two days! Water fills the streets pretty quick.

We are in Colonia today and staying the night with the missionaries here because our district meeting is here tomorrow morning so we don’t want to spend the money to go back and forth so many times. We are going home Tuesday afternoon then leaving super early in the morning on Wednesday to go to Mercedez for our zone conference. I’m super pumped because we are learning a new way to teach the atonement. I have already heard pieces of it and it amazing. I also get to give my oro testimony in front of everybody. Oros and the people leaving all do it at every Zone Conference.

Well thanks for all of your love and support! You guys are seriously the best! I love you all and miss you guys tons!

All my love,

Elder Degn

ps, this is my first haircut. Pretty nice huh?


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Old Colonia

Everything looks like so much fun! I cant believe how much stuff is going on. You are really just in your own world here. Its hard to think about Utah and normal life still going on. Life here is doing pretty good, its getting pretty hot though and during the night its pretty chilly.

We have a store very similar to an American store where we can buy quite a bit. The problem is that we live in THE most expensive area in the mission. Our monthly money is never enough to get through the month because we have to travel by bus about twice a week for District Meetings and Pdays. Its hard to live within our limits because we buy the food everyday that we need for that day. We basically have a huge lunch and then something small when we get back to the house at night.
There really isnt much of Halloween here. There are a couple stores with some stuff but its not that big. The people here are pretty lazy and laid back. Super laid back. They just drink mate and sit around. So not much of a Halloween feel going on here, but the package will be happily recieved!
The area is doing pretty good, we had our highest church attendence yesturday. 24.
We are making progress though. The people for the most part are super nice and will just talk to you, so we talk to a pretty good amount of people, just cant quite get them interested in the gospel because they cant understand anything not Catholic. Darn those catholics. Good people though.
My spanish is coming along pretty well though. I understand close to 90% of conversations unless we are talking to some of the old people that have lived here their whole lives and it just sounds like drunk mumbling. My speaking is still getting there, just going to take some time.

We went to old school Colonia this morning for a bit of sightseeing and it was sooo cool! This place is so old and right on the beach, but its crazy to think that it is just a river. From the point you can see the skyline of Buenos Aires across the river. Its crazy. I will send you some pictures of it.
Love you all and love hearing how well everything is going!
Elder Degn.


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Buen Dia de Rosario!

Buen Dia de Rosario!

It really sounds like you are all doing so well and that everything is really humming! Mom I would like to say that I wish I was there to help you with all this de-junking, then I have a flashback nightmare of Hannahs room, so sorry but good luck! Oh and I like your new glasses, finally accepting the elementry school teacher role:) But this week has been nuts. Rosario is a pretty tough place becasue there are so many old people. They dont want to change very much because they have lived this long and been fine with what they have. It is really a chore to find those people that are willing to make the change. Oh and no, we have no one to do anything for us. We cook everything. So if you could send me some pretty cheap and easy recipies, I would be most grateful. We eat one big meal a day (almuerzo) then have cereal for breakfast and some kind of flour cake for dinner. Dulce de leche is cheap so we can pretty much eat anything. Also we do do our laundry by hand in a stone was basin in our backyard. Its needless to say I will be getting all new clothes when I get home. It actually works out pretty well.I honestly dont really mind. Since it is also spring turning to summer we get bugs every now and then. Mostly cocroaches. Big ones. The spiders arent massive though, just as big as the biggest one you have ever seen in Utah, still freaks you out for a second though.

I have met all of our active members, and they are all super nice. It is only a little frustrating because they like giving us new guys a pretty hard time in a loving way, and it is hard because I understand most of what they are saying but I cant really say much back. So I just smile and take it. That is something that is promising though, my understanding has gone through the roof. I am understanding probably 80 percent of conversations. My speaking is definitely getting better but it is still hard to talk about much other than the gospel. It is also hard to always work on spanish with my comp because he is gringo and I know so little spanish and it is so much easier to speak in english. One of our goals is to work on that.

We have a super small town in our area called Barker that we wanted to go contact on saturday. there are only two buses out there all day, so after having very little success there we started walking home. We walked probably three miles then gave up and hitched a ride in the back of a truck. Saved us. It was so hot.

Our number one investigator is an older guy named Carlos. He has an unbelievable amount of faith, he just is scared to make such a big change in his life. Yesterday we visited him because he didnt go to church like he said. He always says that he has too much pain in his legs to walk that far to the chapel. Almost immediately the scripture in D&C 89 came to my head that gives the promise to run and not be weary and walk and not faint. It was an awesome experience to be guided by the spirit than share it in spanish. The spirit really guides us, almost everytime we talk with someone I have things come to my mind that can help them. He liked the promise and then asked us for a blessing. I anointed him in spanish, which was pretty interesting, but all the words got out. It was super cool and my comp gave a very promising blessing.

Our church is so small it allows us to do everything. I have already blessed and passed the sacarament, and yesturday I gave a talk. I worked on it for awhile and felt like I had quite a bit written down and had some really good ideas. I did have really good ideas and tried to talk about it for as long as I could in correctish spanish, but I really spoke for like ten minutes. I just cant wait until I am able to speak well enough so I can get up and just talk about something like I can in English. I know I will get there.

Other than that we are just walking around all day trying to talk to inactives and non members. They are either super nice and talk, or they just turn us down. We have printed off the list of members and we are starting to visit all of them and renew their interest in the church. It will take time, but we will get there.

Love and miss you all!

Much Love, Elder Degn



Tuesday, October 15, 2013

First Week in Uruguay!

This has been the craziest week of my life! I am so glad to hear how well everyone is doing! It feels like I havent heard from anyone in so long, even though the time feels like it has passed so quickly! I will try to cover this story best I can, just brace yourselves.

So, we left the CCM at five AM and headed to the airport, all our luggage was over that airline´s weight limit, but the company that does our flights covered everything. But he had to pay for each bag individually before we could get our tickets, so it took forever and we ran through the airport to board our plane at the final call. Crazy, but it worked out. After a very pleasant 30 min flight we landed in Montevideo, I exchanged my 142 US$ for 2,500 pesos uruguayos. Something like that. All the luggage made it no problem, and our Presidente was waiting for us with the APs and financors. They all gave us a huge hug and welcomed us to Uruguay. It is awesome here. Best place I have ever been. We were taken to the mission home of the Montevideo mission at the temple facility. The President lives there and we had an awesome breakfast and then a full day of orientation. Presidente Smith is awesome. He has his own system of how to run a mission, and it is great. We teach short lessions, make them feel the spirit, then go. Its brilliant and it works. Its different than PME in lession order and stuff, but it is bassically the same idea. Just more condensed. Our mission moto is HOY ES EL DIA. Today is the day. Today is the day we will change this country and change lives. Never yesterday or tomorrow. Today. We also have seven beliefs that I can't really remember right now that sum that up. Its great. We also had interviews with the President. It was great.  So that first afternoon we went proselyting with the APs and other missionaries, and I went with E´ Bossa, an AP from Columbia that speaks both languages perfectly. We went and visited two youth in his area to invite them to a temple activity. He talked basically the whole time and then asked me to bear my testimony about temples. It wasn't very eloquent, but it made sense and I love having a testimony about the temple becasue I could feel it bring the spirit to them. Both times it was the same way, I was able to say enough to really show them how important the temple is in our lives, because of how much it has meant to me in my life. I loved it, and was super surprised at how much spanish I knew.

We slept in the hostel at the temple facility which is really nice and had a great night sleep. In the morning we all went to the doctor to have a blood sample taken and just a check up. I had to convince the doctor there that I had my heart cleared in America, but through our spanglish she wrote me a paper that explains my condition in spanish in case Ineed to go to another doctor here. So I'm all good, no worries. We got back to the temple and they lined us all up and then our trainers walked behind us in a line and sang called to serve then yelled ¡Hoy es el Dia! then we turned around to meet them. My father (trainer) is elder Diotaiuti from West Jordan, Ut. He is awesome and we get along really well. He has been out for only eight months but is pretty darn fluent. We then went to a temple session with our trainer which was awesome. The temple is beautiful and small. But I absolutely love it. After the temple we went to lunch and then headed out. All the buses in the country are run through Montevideo. The station is called tres cruzes. Its like a huge airport for buses. We are in the zone of Colonia. Right on the coast. Its so beautiful. We got to downtown Colonia pretty late on Wednesday so we stayed the night at the missionaries house that have that area. That was culture shock to the max. It was basically a four-roomed hut. It was filthy and had trash everywhere. They only had two lightbulbs, so we had to move them from room to room if we needed light. We were traveling with two other elders that live with us so the four of us slept sideways on two old mattreses. Not much sleep there. But in the morning we went to the chapel there and it is beautiful, the city is super nice. Uruguay in general is super nice down here. And everything is like Colonial aged. (Colonia) But we went to the chapel and had a zone meeting with all the missionaries from Colonia. Elise Jacksons friend is in my zone! He is super cool, I cant remember his name though, its crazy. But after our zone meeting and a really good lunch at a pizza place (not American pizza, but still good) we went to catch a bus out to our area. We are about an hour back from Colonia, in a beautiful, quaint city called Rosario. Its an awesome little old city with some really run down areas on the outskirts. We live at one end of it in a pretty nice two story place. Its probably good we stayed that first night in a dump because now I feel like we are living the high life. Its really just a humble abode. We have this huge 300 year old catholic cathedral in the middle of the city but the plaza, the building is amazing but its a pretty strong catholic influence. Its still really cool. Elder Diotaiuti and I have half of it, and Elder Teloma and Elder Arriola have the other half. Elder Teloma is an Oro from my group too, and Elder Arriola is his trainer. We all live together. Rosario used to be Dio and Arriola´s area but it is too big so it was split and they were both made trainers. So the first two days there we were basically running errands to get stuff for the house, since it was only set up for two people. We bought a lot of furniture and other stuff we needed. Our area is one of the most expensive in the mission, basically the same prices of food and stuff as in America. Just a little less. But we finally got everthing set and got out to see some people. There are about 15 active members in our branch, from about three different families. Our goal is to double the attendace. We can do it, its just going to take some work. We dont have a chapel, just a pretty sweet old building we meet in every week.

So don't worry about me, we are doing pretty good down here. Right now I am sitting in a internet cafe in Nueva Iglesia, the area of our zone leaders. We hang out as a district on p-days, and its so pretty here too. Its just hard seeing a beach when I cant get in. I still love it though. I will send pics of Uruguay next week!

Glad to hear how well everything is going, and I love and miss you all!

All my love,

Elder Degn
ps, send everything to the mission home. They put it in bags and send it to our disricts

Friday, October 4, 2013

Cinco Dias!

¡Cinco Dias!
Thank you guys so much for the letters! I just barely got all the letters that were sent in the first two weeks of September so this morning felt like Christmas! The government holds our mail for awhile and then finally gives some after they get enough. I especially appreciate Matt´s three letters about his fantasy football team. En serio, I can't believe that I am almost out of here! I'm so ready to get out but I know that the change is going to be crazy. This last group of Latinos we got has a lot of people that are going to my mission, so it's cool to talk to them. One of my new best friends is Elder Castellanos from El Salvador. He is my roommate and going to my mission. He speaks a little English and really helps me practice Spanish. Can't wait to be companions with him in a year or so. My companion right now and the majority of my district are going to Paraguay so its going to be super sad to say goodbye to them in a few days. Elder Page and Elder Worsham and I have all promised to stay in touch so we can hang out after the mish.
This week felt so fast, and we are practically done. On Saturday and Sunday we have G.C. (so pumped) Then Monday we have all day orientation then we leave around four in the morning on Tuesday. We are going on a half hour flight to Uruguay and then who knows where from there. We will miss a P-day so this will be my last big email for the next ten days. But the last time we went proselyting was last Saturday because of general conference. We were in a much nicer area, and the people were much more polite, but we still didnt have too much success. We did place one Book of Mormon to a young woman that took if from us still with her cigarette in her hand. She seemed interested and I hope that she reads.
We have really been studying a lot about the finer points of grammar in Spanish and I realized how much harder it is than you normally think about. I always stay positive though and I know that it will really just come with time and practice. It is so awesome to see Hannah out in the real world! I know she will be awesome!  It's hard at times, but being able to stay focused and push through the hard times really make the good times so worth it.
We play a ton of volleyball here and everyone is super impressed because I can do dads between the legs backwards serve like a boss. Everyone loves it. One of my teachers Hno. Fiorimantti was watching us one day and asked if I was a professional volleyball player back in America. I said yes. I eventually told him I wasn't, but it was fun to pretend. I am also getting pretty good at futbol and Elder Simpson and I play with the Latinos a lot. Elder Simpson is way better than me but I am finally able to hold my own. The Latinos love having me for corner kicks because I can jump two feet higher than any of them. Its great.
Cant wait to talk to you all again from URUGUAY! I miss you guys and love you all!!
Love, Elder DegnInline image 1

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Buen Dia Todos!!
This week has just flown by! Im so glad to hear how everything is going back home. One of the CCM Presidency members teaches a lesson here every sunday (his real job in sud america is head of the FBI in this area) and he told us about the BYU-Utah game. He was a little disappointed that he stayed up until 3am watching it and it was terrible. Personally, I just shrugged, typical BYU football.
Its hard to believe this has been one month! We feel like we have been here forever, but it really isnt that long at all. It was super hard to see the last transfer of Latinos leave because we were hear for two weeks when they got here, then they left, and we still have two weeks to go. But we are starting to get the new group today and there are fifteen North Americans, which we are super pumped about. These are the first new ones since our group. Someone that will hopefully understand us because all the Latins think we are crazy. En serio. My district is super fun, but it is hard to be DL sometimes because there are people that want different things and I have to be the middle man that balances the two wants and then try to make the most people happy.  I know the Lord only calls us to do what we are able, and wants us to succeed.
I hope I didn't make last weeks proselyting sound too bad because this week was even crazier! We were in the same exact area, but the weather took us for a loop. It was nice all morning I just wore a long sleeved white shirt. It was nice until about two hours in and it starting raining. Not as hard as it usually does but it sure got us soaked. With three hours to go. We were able to have a solid conversation with one guy before the rain, so once the rain came no one was outside. It was freezing and I couldn't believe I didn't bring anything. We had one other real conversation the whole time. Simpson (my companion) and I were jumping from dry spot to dry spot, and while we were getting a break underneath a balcony a man came out to his gate to the house next to us and I started talking with him. He was pretty old but I was having just a good conversation about the weather and how he thinks we were crazy without umbrellas. Then he saw my name tag and he went crazy about I have no right to tell him to repent because we all need to repent and I am just a boy. Its frustrating to have someones attitude flip that fast. The most frustrating part is knowing that I could walk up to anyone in any situation and have a good conversation in English, but I'm not very confident in my spanish yet, so I have a hard time connecting to the people. That's why we are trying now though. This Saturday will be our last day proselyting because next week is general conference! Never been so excited in my life!
I love my district and have some friends I hope to keep forever. We are all really different and come from different backgrounds.  It is a super wierd mix but we get along like family.
Love you all and hope all is going well!
Elder Degn

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Zach with his awesome district!

Hey there kiddos! So glad to hear that everything is going so well back in Utah! I feel like time is flying down here. We are halfway done with the CCM! But the group of new latinos leave in a week, so its a little tough to see them come and go while we are still just chilling here. We are still learning and trying to stay on top of everything but the same shedule everyday is a little tough to work with after this long. Spanish wouldnt be so bad if it werent for GRAMMAR! It coming, just taking its time.
The weather here has been impossible to understand! After we had our super wierd last week, we dropped into a serious cold front for about five days. Freezing temperatures and rain. Its crazy, but the past few days have finally felt like spring. We went to the temple this morning and I love this temple! This was our first session in spanish and I was surprised to see how much I was able to understand. The rest of p-day is just chilling with the district. Our district gets along so well, its awesome. different personalities, but we each fill a perfect role. It really is one of the strangest mixes of people ever, but we just end up laughing all the time. There has been a couple of times that we are all crying and trying to breathe because we have been laughing so hard. I love it. Also, I was talking to an Elder Ence, from ol´ Idaho Falls. He loves the Pattersons and spoke very highly of Tyler. Great kid. His group only has one week left.
Is it a bad thing when I get the most homesick during meals? Almost half of the time we have some sort of stewed meat and beans and corn and other stuff over rice or beans. And I feel like im right back at home. Except Im not drinking Coke with it. Whenever the cook hands me my meal I almost say, ¨Thanks Pop.¨ It is exactly like something he makes. But the main meal is never enough so I get a salad from the salad bar and smother it in dressing because their vegetables taste terrible, but I just need more food. And my district has become addicted to Ducle de Leche. Sooooo good.
Saturday was absolutely crazy. They dont let us go to the ¨city¨, just to the middle class suburbs. But the only way I know how to describe the place we were at is to picture San Diego, houses like that that are super cramped and close together. Only if San Diego went through a depression and then civil war. That is what it felt like. Trash everywhere and very worn buildings. It was tough because no one wanted to talk to us. I think a lot of them know who we are because a lot of people would cross the street to not have to talk to us. Then when we finally got someone to talk to us we could barely understand what they were saying, then try to get something that makes sence together to say back. It was intense, and definitely a humbling experience. It was really cool though because we had a really good conversation with some teenage boys on the street and one was really pretty interested. We gave him a Book of Mormon and told him when and where church was on Sunday. He said he would go and I hope he did. It is interesting to see the whole mindset change. This is the scariest place I have ever been but I never once felt scared or afraid, I just wanted to talk to people. It was also freezing. I was wearing all my winter gear. Thanks for putting that beanie in there, saved my poor ears. We are going to the same place this Saturday, so hopefully we will be able to talk to some more people.
Its crazy to think it has been three weeks, and scary to think we get out in three more! I cant wait to get to Uruguay though, Im excited to see a new country. I miss you all and love hearing from you. I still havent gotten all the letters yet because it takes two weeks to get here. Glad you guys got mine though! I cant think of anything I need right now but it would sure be nice to see a DP waiting for me at the Montevideo mission house;) Love you all!!
Elder Degn


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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Santa Vaca!!

Its is so awesome to hear how everyone is doing back home and Im glad to hear that everything is going so well. I cant wait to get your letters and I have sent some out so I hope you guys get them soon enough. The days here are going by so fast! Everynight I feel like the day just zoomed by. It is really awesome to be able to be doing this full time. We watch the provo mtc devotionals a day late because we cant watch them live due to the time difference, and we saw one with Elder Holland as the speaker. He gives us the chills. If you thought he was good, imagine listening to him as a missionary. He said that if we have one convert on our mission it should be us. I totally understand what he was saying. Just based off these past two weeks, I have had experiences that will keep my tesitimony strong for the rest of my life.

Also, the weather here is tripping us out. Last week was super cold but the Presidente said it will probably be the last cold front of the winter. It was chilly. Then we had nearly a two day rainstorm with plenty of lightning and thunder. It was super intense. But seriously, it doesnt just rain here, it pours. Everything was flooding by the end of it. Probably more water than Utah has gotten all year. Then out of no where, it got super hot. Our teacher who sees the outside world told us that two days ago was the hottest day in Buenos Aires for the last one hundred years or so 35.5°C. I believe him. Our district room is one of the two rooms that do not have A/C, and that place turned into a sauna. We had the window open and the fan on, but it was super hot outside with no wind to move the air around. it was definitely hard to focus because of the humidity, which kills you by the way. Ive got a nice brown collar ive got to wash out now. But the weather has really evened out and feels wonderful now.

The group of Latins that came the same day as us left on Tuesday for the field. It was hard to believe they got here the same time as us and are already out. It was super cool because on the last night they were here all the elders gathered in the hallway of the second floor dorms and we barely all fit, then we sang called to serve as loud as we could in spanish. It was awesome. We can't hear how bad we probably sound, but we shake this building. It was amazing. Then we all knelt down and one of the Latin DLs gave an awesome prayer in spanish. I wasnt able to pick up on all of it, but i got some good stuff. He asked for his North American friends to be watched over and that the spirit would help us learn spanish. It was super cool.

We go proselyting this Saturday! Crazy! I am definitly not ready Spanish-wise, but I am so ready to get out of the ¨compound¨. I really want to be able to see everything out there and see the people i will teach. The older missionaries say its tough but they love it. I cant wait. I also went and bought a mini spanish PME at the distribution center and it was one dollar. I love this place. I spent seven bucks and got twenty pesos back as change for my American ten dollar bill. Never felt like i was getting such a bargain in my life.

Also, please tell the boys to go to the temple as often as they can. The building right next to us is a hotel for families that are traveling hundreds of miles to go just one time. every other day huge tour buses come and drop of families that are here to go to the temple for two days, and might never go again because this is the only temple in Argentina. They hate hearing us say how I have two in my city, so dont let that go to waste.

Seriously though guys i love you and miss you so much. By the way my nick name here is old man Degn. Everyone thinks I am super old and I do a pretty gruff old man voice, and its pretty good apparently. My District is so much fun and I feel like we have known each other for ever. And yes, everything is funny here. We are laughing all the time. At everything.

Good Luck with everything!

Love you all, Elder Degn



Thursday, September 5, 2013

Hola Niños!
This week has been so crazy but I will do my best to cover everything. The first two days of the CCM were the most stressful days of my life. Mostly because we were paired with our companions and put in districts and rooms right away, but my district was not given a schedule, so we just followed the other new district around like idiots until we finally got one the next day. We also had to just take what we would need out of our suitcases for the next six weeks and then our lugguge is put in a big container until we leave for our missions. So I am not even using half of my stuff yet. We flew in with about 21 other missionaries. There are in total around 35 North Americans here split into three districts. All the Americans are either going to Uruguay or Paraguay, and the Canadians are going to Argentina. Then there are four districts of Latinos that are all serving in Argentina. My companions name is Elder Simpson. He is a cousin of the Jewkes family! Except he is like a mix between Brigham Jewkes and KJ. We are starting to work and live pretty well together. Since we are just coming out of winter we get some really cold weather for a few days in a row. The mornings are super cold, but it warms up enough to go play outside in the afternoon.
Also, on the second day the CCM President called me to be District Leader! I said yes really fast and then later realized how much responsibility came with that. The North American DL¨s meet with the Presidente three times a week, and we run all the meetings on Sundays and have to make sure everything is working in the District. My district is awesome, I just wish I wasnt always in charge. There are ten of us, eight elders and two hermanas. The weird part is that we are mostly all eighteen but there is an elder that is 21, one that is 19, and a hermana that is 22. I have to interview all of them every other week to see how everyone is doing, and it feels super weird because I am younger than them. Its all good, I am just trying my best. Also the food here is awesome! They try to serve ¨normal´ food so they dont freak us out, but it is still different and the Latinos dont like it. We love it and just love seeing them try to prepare an American meal. I honestly prefer it when they make Argentine food anyway. It mostly reminds me of home because it is some sort of stewed meat over a bowl of rice or beans or potatoes. The best part is that no one is sick, and the worst I have felt is sometimes at night I have a headache from working all day.
We have to get up at 6AM because our district service assignment is to clean the kitchen at 6:30 before breakfast. Its not bad because I get to use one of the few showers with warm water since no one else is up. There are six elders in a room, and ours has two other NAs, and two Latinos. They are from Chile and Peru. The Chilean speaks decent English, so we are able to talk pretty well in a terrible sounding spanglish. Spanish is nuts. I have learned more in the past week than I have any other time in my life. Im still not very good, but I can communicate pretty well with the latinos and can teach a somewhat decent lesson. I can actually understand Spanish pretty well but just have a hard time remembering how to say things. We have a morning teacher and an afternoon teacher, both native Argentines that have been off their missions for a year. The afternoon teacher speaks better English and is the one that gives us grammar instruction.
We were really thrown right into things by having our third day here be a fast Sunday. Hello first 24 hour fast. It was pretty intense, but we fasted for the gift of tongues as a district, and I know for a fact that fasting works. On Saturday we taught our first investigator and it went terrible. We barely understood him and could barely get anything worth while out. PS the investigator is our teacher. But after fasting all day sunday and working hard to prepare, on Monday almost all of us had a super successful discusion. I was shocked at how much I understood and was then able to say. It still wasnt anything super impressive, but the difference was too much to deny. This has honestly been the most testimony building experience I have ever had, and I have only been gone a week!! Everyday is like a spiritual high, especially since today we went to the temple, which was awesome! We are litterally right next to it. From where I am sitting right now on the top floor of the CCM I could stick my head out of the window and throw a rock across the street and hit the temple. Its the most beautiful building I have ever seen. We are pretty sheltered here but when we look outside of the complex we can tell we are in South America. A lot of trash and shacks. But I love it and cant wait to get out! Oh and we can't take pictures until the last couple days here so sorry your imaginations will have to do for now. The inside of the CCM is not much to look at but this complex sure is.
It was awesome to hear from you all and Im glad to hear everything is going so well! Josh I hope you sleep well knowing I am on a tiny bed on the top bunk. I know you still will.
I love you all and cant wait to tell you more! The days are finally moving faster!

All my love,
Elder Degn