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...