Saturday, October 25, 2014

Love service!!!

Hey guys how yall doing? Sounds like you all had a good week and enjoyed a little bit of time off. This week was changes which I'm sure you are aware of now since I am writing you on Tuesday, and luckily, Elder Bentley and I are staying together!! VAM´ ARRIBA!! Yeah we are pretty pumped about it and can't wait for these next six weeks! It scares me how quickly every change ends, but I'm still loving every day! It is going to be really interesting from now on because our mission expanded and now includes a part of Argentina and Brazil! I can't imagine going anywhere out of Uruguay, but it would be one crazy adventure. Just to be safe, Elder Bentley and I are studying up a little bit on Portuguese just in case. Actually, if you could find a couple of really basic Portuguese things like pronunciation and such and send it to me on the next email to print off that would be great. I understand reading it, but don't really know how to say it and understanding is pretty tough too. Its like I'm a new missionary again!! It would also be crazy if I went to Argentina too because it is the first area that Audrie had and then she left and it became a part of our mission. Crazy right? And such is the life here in Rivera Santa Isabel. Ps dad we live on the street Juan Nuñez 165.

This week has been great though! We did a bunch of service which we loved, been a while since we have worked liked that. Painting mostly, its just that time of year;) It is getting pretty warm, but thankfully it has been raining a lot, so that keeps it pretty cool. We spent yesterday morning, our cleaning day, to mow the front lawn and trim our bushes and trees. Really not a big job, but we only had one machete, so it took awhile, good shoulder/forearm workout though.

It has also been interesting in the bishopric, I conducted church yesterday which was fun and quite an interesting experience. I felt good about it afterward and think I did a pretty good job. The other counseler with me is leaving this week, Elder Berry, he will be missed. The new guy coming in is Elder Bedoya from Bolivia I think. I know him from Cerro, he is awesome and I cant wait to have him here with us. It will just be a big change for us because now we are going to live with two latinos.

Haha speaking of Portuguese, we had a charla with our friend Antonio. Let me just say, he has some profound beliefs about God. He is so smart, and his ideas are almost TOO smart. Thank goodness God is so simple and clear with us. There aren't any secrets. In the transcourse of the charla, in which we would speak English every now and then mixing in spanish, his friend came over and she is brazilian, and so we starting learning some portuguese with her. Then we went back to english with Antonio, then spanish with them both so she understood too. My mind was in such a whirlwind, it was crazy!! Makes me really want to be able to learn this language too.

We have been doing a good bit of contacting as well this week and while we found the hermana of one of our old investigators. She has been going to a lot of churches, including ours, and really wanted us to come by. So we visited her and she has so much potential! I really feel like anyone that can be taught to understand the gospel of Christ would follow Him. Thats what we´re all about.

I also got a small package from you guys this past week with candies, the flag, and matching ties! Elder Bentley says thanks. Me too while we are here, thanks you guys for everything! Keep it up! Les quiero! La iglesia es verdadero, no tengo ninguna duda! Nunca se olviden!

Elder Degn

ps. The district. A bunch of latinos and TWO SOJO BOYS!!!
 

 Home sweet home

 Mowing the lawn
 Painters for hire...
 Enjoying our mate
autobus

Monday, October 13, 2014

Good bye fleas!

Well there kiddos glad to hear that you all had a good week, made me real jealous to see you guys out in the wilderness like that. Haha its funny to see it getting cold, it is starting to get nice and toasty here again. It rained almost all this week, but not before we got a nice taste of that blazing brazilian humid heat. Really though, this is the second hottest place in Uruguay, and we will be buying some nice sombreros soon to protect our faces. Gonna be looking fly;) I also got my card this past week which was awesome! Thank you so much for getting that taken care of. I especially enjoyed that you remembered what picture I had on it before.

We had a pretty interesting week to be honest, we got our house sprayed to get rid of our flea infestation. (Poor Elder Bentley, they like the fresh blood) I didnt get it too bad, just my ankles and forearms. Finally got that taken care of though, going to be sleeping a little more peacefully now... Also I am now officially a counselor in the Bishopric along with one of the other missionaries in our ward, Elder Berry. He leaves most likely next week, so it will be interesting to see who comes in his place. It has really been interesting to be real on the inside of the ward, and it is great to finally to be able to help the Bishop who has been basically been doing his job solo that is really too much for anyone to take. He was holding up really well, but there is a reason that he is supposed to have help. He has gotten better really just knowing that now he has the two of us to help him out a lot more. It will a interesting experience, and Im excited to learn about how the system works, I'm directing sacarament meeting next week, so we´ll see what happens!
This week was actually surprisingly impacted by all the rain, and we had a hard time finding many of our people again to visit, so we are still in the dilema of getting all of these investigators to church. However, like always, the Lord always gives us just a nibble to keep us going. There is a 73 year old man that we visit that was baptized 48 years ago, and hasnt gone in 46 years, named Hernesto. He worked for a really long time in the campo, so he could never go to church, then here he has always been scared to leave his house and little store he has in his house because he doesnt want to get robbed. So for a long time we have really been trying to help him figure out how to fix the problem, and he put chains on one of his doors that doesnt lock, and we found a really old lock in our house that we gave to him to lock the chains shut. After doing just something so simple, he rode his bike to church twenty minutes early, and participated for the first time in 46 years! It is really the best feeling ever to see someone that comes after so long and is finally able to get back on the path!
We have got a few of our investigators right now looking at the conference online and seeing what they think about it, and this week we are really going to be working hard to get them moving and find more people! Also, you guys should go check out Elder Bentleys blog, he writes a whole lot more than I do. He also makes me feel like a old missionary, just praying for one letter every week while he just gets showered by love by his family and special friend. #missionlife. But I love you guys all the same, comin through in the clutch!! Thank you guys for everything, I love you so much! Have a good week!!!
Todo mi amor,
Elder Degn
 


 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

General Conference? Yeah!

My most dear associates, I hope you realize that the true power of conference is only truly appreciated once on the mission. I went into it feeling like I was going to be watching the super bowl. The only thing missing was the huge pan of seven layer dip or wings or something...but I did the best I could! It was awesome to watch the talks in spanish though! All the gringos watch it in English in a separate room, so we just changed the transmission channel, and watched in spanish, it was crazy to see it in general conference, but it was awesome! It was also crazy because when the portuguese guy spoke, those times where you hear their voice and not the translation, I actually understood almost all of it. Super crazy, but awesome right!?

I also saw my boy Ty John in the choir, and made my whole day! Shout out to that stud!

This week was honestly nuts!! We were running around all week inviting everyone to the conference, and we had multiple promising investingators say there were going to go, and we were sooo pumped for them to see the living profet and apostles!! We take for granted how privileged we are to say that we have TRUE apostles and profets, called of GOD. It has been awesome teaching people how men called of God will speak to us and answer the questions and doubts that they have. We honestly had so many miracles happen this week and I was soo excited to see what was going to happen at the conference. We had a family that we contacted and were invited right in and had a great conversation with them and invited them to the conference and said that they were going to go, and then we found Elizabet. She is the neighbor of an old investigator and we talked to her outside of her house a week or so ago, but went back to visit this week, and she is a lovely little 60 year old grandma that is sooo evangelical, but said how she has a burning curiosity to know about our church. She has been looking for something and had just a ton of questions, and it was so fun to just use the bible to answer questions with her, then slip in bits of the book of mormon without her knowing because she still wasnt all game about that. That first charla was awesome, and she asked for our names and didnt want the Elder Last name business, and despite our work, we couldnt get out of it. I told her my name is in the old testiment. And she got to Zacarias pretty quick. When we came back a few days later, the first thing she said was, "vos sabes Zacarias, que yo voy a ir a tu iglesia." I almost cried, it was beautiful. She was all set to go on sunday to the conference. Then during the conferences I had the craziest mix of feelings ever. I loved all of the talks, and watched in shock as almost one by one, the speakers spoke exactly about the questions and doubts of the people we were teaching. The only hard part was that none of them went. It was really disapointing, but we are going to be using these messages to help them. It will happen!! Elizabet also called in between conferences to say that she could not go because her husband that is a pastor of another church wont let her and wont let us come back to her house. It cut me real deep, but we arent about to give up, she was soo sad, and I know we will be able to help her. Right when we were about to give up hope, we had one person come that hadnt been to church in over 10 years. She loved it and is looking prime to make some big steps in her life! The Lord always helps out when we need it. I know without a doubt that this church is true and that we are lead by God himself. I loved all the talks, like Prs. Uchtdorf, and Elder Christofferson. Elder Robbins came to our mission three months ago, and his talk hit me real hard. Never forget which way you face! Alma 48:17

I love you all so much and am so glad to hear that you are all doing wel!! Thanks for everthing!!!

Con todo mi amor,

Elder Degn
 

Shooting hoops before Priesthood session

Sunday, October 5, 2014

#merica--letter from Sept. 29, 2014

Wow. Im not going to lie, those pictures really made me quite jealous, it looked like an awesome trip and I'm really glad that you guys were able to go out and have a fun trip by yourselves. Im sure that it has been way too long since that happened. Then I realize that I am in Uruguay doing the best thing in the world, and I feel better:) That's crazy though that you guys ran into Elder Jewkes and Elder Ogden! I was honestly just joking around about that stuff, didn't think there was a chance in the world...Just hope that you guys kept it professional during Oktoberfest.
But for us, this past week has been crazy!! We have been trying soo hard to find people that will progress and come to church because in all my time here we have only had one go. It is a lot bigger commitment than sometimes we think, especially if they are active in another church. We have invited so many, and have some awesome investigators right now! We right now have three that are some of the most intelligent minds I have ever dealt with on the mission. With Jorge, he has been Evangelical for a long time, knows the Bible back and forwards, but we have had great discussions with him about the restauration and baptism, and we have really got him thinking right now, which is a great place for him to be. We started visiting with one of the sons of a old member that just knows all the mormon myths and has a lot of questions about polygamy and Book of Mormon proof. We straight up read out of DyC with him, and explained a few things as well. (Side note, how many Nefite cities are there? 38. Learned that from him.) But yeah, he knows a ton. He also works in the psych ward of the hospital and sticks up for us like crazy there. He fights with the Evangelical people that work there to keep el libro de mormon in the library and invite us to visit the patients because they always invite pastors. So we have definitely got a bro in the hospital right now, and we will probably be visiting some people there this week. Then we had a aweomse charla with Aldo, who was really hit hard by Alma 32:16-21 that we read with him. He is just looking for the truth, and waiting for a awnswer. I honestly love visiting these people so much! It is some of the hardest charlas we have, but it really makes it all the better! The church is so true!!
Then just to top it all off, we were walking down the main street in the area and we were called down in English by a old classy looking guy, we went and he got out of his cute little red Ford smart car, blaring a really jazzy version of "la bamba" and invited us to his house the next day. So we went and it turns out that this dudes house is actually a super intense museum!! We were both in shock! His name is Antonio and speaks four languages. His english is alright, but we talked the whole time in it. But it is basically a historical arms museum, so I was in heaven. Every time we looked at something he was like, take it, play with it, see how it works. It was actually unbelievable! Elder Bentley and I were just like little kids in a candy store. He invited us to eat, drink wine, drink water, and come by whenever we need anything. His son works for the embassy in Brazil, so anything we need from there, he says he's our man. At the end after swapping numbers, he just said, "Now we are friends." Yep, I love the mission.
The work is moving so fast right now, and we are so close to breaking this place right open!!
I love you all, and thank you so much for all that you do for me and our family! The church is soo true!! Also, look out, I'm getting pretty good at Futbol. Heads up Abby...
Todo mi amor,
Elder Degn
ps. Ligit US marshall badge, winchester rifle, and colt revolver. #merica.
pss. I still havent recieved anything, but mail day is tomorrow and district meeting, so I will hope to see it all there! Thanks for everything!!
 
 Cool.

 
 Elder B. flipping pancakes!
 
 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Service on the Playground

Hey guys, cant even lie, sounds like you kiddos are in for a really fun week, but I think mom and dad got the better end of the stick. Look out for some Bingham boys out there in Denmark and Germany, I think the place is crawling with em by now. But all you guys just enjoy it! Shout out tambien to my man squash boy for looking soo fly for the dance, just like we did it back in the day;)

I hope you guys live it up the best you can, because right now me and Elder Bentley certainly are! It is so much fun I cant even explain it! I was feeling like I was growing up a little bit but then he got here and now I just feel like we are back in highschool again! Its funny because we had a zone meeting where every companionship had to teach in front of the zone and when we went, despite his spanish, everyone was just shocked at our unity and ability to play off the other guy. (We didnt tell them we had four years head start on all of them, but we felt super pumped after that!)

We also went to a little school for a stake service project to repair the playground equipment and just fix up the facility. It was tons of fun and the place really turned around. Not many feeling better than doing service! Ha we also had a little ward activity because this week was ward conference and Elder Bentley represented la obra misional by playing a couple of really awesome arangements of hymns, and really was a treat for the ward because there arent many people that can do that here. He is also the ward pianist, props to him for that one. Really a big difference with a piano. Appreciate that one.

Recently I have really been studying the apostasy and the Bible because Rivera is seriously a place of "great excitement on the subject of religion". We honestly feel like we are living in the same time of Jose Smith. With the influence from Brazil, there are SOOOO many churches! In our medium sized area we have probably fifteen! Just last night during planning we were listening to the sunday night rock services at the church a couple blocks from us. Felt like they were right next door... Basically we just are having to help people understand what Christ did, and what he left for his followers to do. That is exactly what has happened with our investigator Aldo. We have had some really profound conversations with him, he is rediculously smart, and I always leave with a enhanced vocabulary afterward. But we went this week and just started reading 2 Nefi 31 with him and he understood perfectly that he needs to be baptized, he believes the Book of Mormon is perfect, and he believes we are the true church...He just wants to not have any doubts and have is faith solidified. Sooo close, but with the right direction!! He will be getting there no doubt.

It is also a lot easier contacting with Elder Bentley because he spent the summer as a door to door salesman and so we come up with good approaches and then when they still play hard to get I just turn it over to him, let him get all tangled up in spanish, then play the innocent, happy new gringo that is just trying to learn the language. Then we become friends:) It honestly makes me sad to see how well it works and how I can't sell that one anymore...Haha its just a crazy world down here, but I love it so much!! I love you guys tons and hope you have a good week, no matter where in the world you are! Thanks for everything!!

Con amor,

Elder Degn
 Jungle Gym
 Putting in a Teeter-Totter!
We had a little visitor...Yum! haha
 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Feliz Cumpleanos Mama!!!

First and foremost...FELIZ CUMPLEAÑOS MAMÁ!!! Seriously mom, have a great day!!! Buy yourself something nice for me! I can't believe that you're all growed up. 29 right? I say that partly because I honestly dont know for sure how many years you completed. But its probably better that way right?;) You´re the best mom a kid could ask for. Love ya.

Haha I cant even tell you guys how crazy this last week has been! On that pday I had in Deo we went to the Temple with the Montevideo zones, and then I went again the next day with Elder Bentley, and it was fantastic!! I love the temple sooo much!! Especially here in Montevideo it is a huge sacrifice to get to the temple because the closest one is in Montevideo, 7 hours away. I love it so much, go as often as you can. But the day we had together in the mission home was awesome too! Some amazing american food, temple, and seeing a bunch of my old friends in the mission that are also training. Crazy that most of them were 18 year olds that just graduated. It was really just an awesome little get away!

So when we got back we only had three days to work to get people going to church. We visited a lot of our investigators, and had just milagro tras milagro! Our first day back we were finally able to have another charla with Ruben and Silvia that Harbold and I found a month ago and had an awesome first charla. So we got back to them and taught them about the LDM, and Elder Bentley just goes right out there and invites them to get baptized, and they didn't really understand, so we both got a little scared. They looked at me to explain, and I just asked them exactly what Bentley said, and they looked at each other and thought about it and said yes!! Que capo mi hijo!! I was so proud of Elder Bentley, and super pumped for this family. We also finally got in to a family that the missionaries found a couple of months ago then got left for awhile, and as we started teaching them, one by one, all of their NINE kids came in and sat down and listened to us. It was increadible! They only have two beat up couches, we were on one and the parents were on the other, and there was one lightbulb in the big room, so it was pretty dark, and all the kids were just sitting wherever they could, a couple in chairs and the rest on the floor. We had a great charla with them and extended them the invitation to get baptized as well and they said yes too!! We were both just freaking out on the inside! It was almost to good to be true! We were quite disappointed when none of them came to church or the other ten menos activos that promised to go, but we went back to their houses last night and they both just had last minute things that came up, but are still asking for us to come back, so we´ll see how this goes!!

And while we were sitting in church all sad that no one came, one of the menos activos Jose Smith came in! He is such a stud and just made everything worth it. Just one. It honestly felt like we won the super bowl with just one there. Makes all the effort worth it. D&C 18:15

Also this change they split up the zone because it is the biggest in the mission as far as missionaries, so now we are in the new zone, but I am still DL, and there are five companionships in my district. Its a little bit more, but I love who I've got!

It is honestly so much fun with Elder Bentley, feels just like old times! It honestly feels like working with my long lost brother. I dont even feel like I am training him, just guiding him around and letting the spirit work through him. He is an awesome missionary already and is tearing it up and just makes me so proud. I love the mission so much!!! No where else I would rather be!

Love you guys like crazy! Thank you for everything!

Con Amor,
Elder Degn
 At the temple with President & Sister Smith
 SURPRISE!! It's Elder Degn and I'm your companion!
Fixing something on the chimney...it's all good
 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Jose Smith...yeah!

I am here in MONTEVIDEO again! Since this is the beginning of another change, Elder Bentley needed to come in to get trained by Pte. Smith to "start the mission" So we were called last minute last night and rushed to get on the midnight bus to Deo and showed up right on time. Then we chatted for awhile and got a couple of hours of sleep on the seven hour bus ride. But we got here a couple of hours ago and then we were just chilling at the zone leaders house here and the secretaries came by and just picked up the two new missionaries, and left us chilling in the rain. So I am sitting here in a cyber in crazy downtown Deo, its raining really hard and I dont have any of my rain gear, my son is gone, and I left my toiletry bag in his overnight duffel. But life goes on. Tomorrow I will go to the temple to pick him up so Im super pumped for that!

But yeah, this week has been really crazy! The trio was definitely an adventure it only worked so well because we all got along so well. Elder Harbold is off and running now to Salto to be his trainers last comp which he is SUPER pumped about! Good on him, he deserves it. It was awesome to be with him and I really learned a lot and we became really good friends.

This week we had one of the coolest charlas of my mission too! There is a 23 year old guy that lives in our area that is named Jose Smith. Yes, after the profet! His whole family were members and he was very active until he was 16 and his dad was excumunicated and their family fell apart and went inactive and he turned to the darkness of the world. But now he has cleaned up and is dating an awesome girl and he wants to come back to church so bad, and he really just opened up completely to us and we were able to help him out and he promised he is coming back. It is those moments where everything that you ever have to deal with is worth every minute.

Thanks to the help of some members we found some new really awesome people to teach, and for the most part, they are all very very intelligent. As in they are going to have to go through a vey intense conversion process. But thats the beauty of the spirit. Im sooo excited to see where we can go with them! The ward is really starting to make a huge effort to help us out with visiting people, and that is going to make all the difference!

Also this week, I told a Catholic woman that her baptism was invalid. It took some good explaining as well, but I felt quite accomplished afterwards. I love the authority of the Priesthood!

Elder Bentley is doing sooooo good! He is picking up spanish soo fast and already helping me out tons! This is going to be a awesome three months!!

Love you guys tons!!! Thanks for everything!!
Con amor,

Elder Degn

ps. Mi distrito. That dude next to me is from peru. One of hannahs little friends probably;)
 

 Bentley and I at the "Line"
Biggest snail I've ever seen---still very slow!

 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Elder Bentley!!!---September 1, 2014

Well, there folks, it sure sounds like you are all getting back in the swing of a super busy school schedules, and don't worry, I definitely remember those days. I'm glad that the big anniversary fest with gma y gpa Hart went well and I'm glad that they liked everything. They sure do deserve it.

But I know that you are all waiting to here about my son ELDER BENTLEY!! Yes world it is true. He is here in Rivera Uruguay with me right now. He says hi. IT was a very crazy start for him because he showed up right in the middle of the change here, so instead of having a nice tranquilo two day stay at the mission home and get the whole mission pitch from Pte. Smith and go to the temple and all that jazz, he just got picked up at the airport and taken straight to the bus terminal in Montevideo by Pte. y Hermana Smith and told a couple of important things, then he was thrown on a bus to Rivera. It was crazy how fast it all happened, but it has been awesome to have him here! We are going back to Montevideo next week when changes end so that he can go through the temple and talk to President Smith more. Actually looking foward to that myself..

But the trio is marching! It is actually really different and has its challenges, but it is super fun! I just feel like I am still comps with Harbold and we still teach and everything together, then its like, oh yeah, let the new guy talk...but it is really coming along really well. I am SO impressed with the preparation that Elder Bentley has. He already is doing a lot to contribute to the lessons and to planning and everything. He spent the summer doing door to door sales, so we are working on some pretty creative door approaches:) He also just has no fear to go out there and speak that spanish. He already speaks a lot better than I did, and he works like crazy to learn as we go. I just feel like I am guiding him along really, not leading him or pulling him anywhere.
But this week was NUTS! I completed a year in the mission! I cannot believe that to be honest. Some days do feel long, but looking back, I feel like it just flew right by. To celebrate I bought some chorizo (sausage) and we had a bbq in our back patio for lunch. It was a fun little party to be honest. I know that I still have a long way to go, but my spanish sure has come a long way as well. Even though it is basically just Uruguayo, not really true spanish, but I love it still.

This week we had sooo many miracles though!! We are really just trying to talk to a bunch more people to open up our teaching pool and people that can progress, and this week it just went through the roof. We let Elder Bentley choose a house to contact and we went and a very well dressed man opened the door but was on the phone, but he just invited us in without us saying anything. We sat down and waited for him to finish his phone call and he came in and started talking with us about his beliefs about the bible (actually a ton, almost too much) and how the restoration isn't necessary. He was very very nice, and right when we were about to get going on some doctrine, his wife and daughter got home and started talking to us about the states and english and stuff like that and then we ran out of time and had to leave. I honestly felt like I was walking out of a members house as we left and he invited us back anytime we want. Crazy.

We also have found a very very intelligent man that has talked to missionaries for a a little bit but then didn't get anywhere, but we talked to him and he left the catholic church when he was a teenager because he said their church didn't do half of what the bible says, and that who knows ¨maybe he will be a mormon¨. We also have a seventy something old awesome little old lady in our ward that has been fasting and praying to find someone to share the gospel with that will progress in the church, and so she went with us to go visit the four people that she thought of, and all of them are showing some really big potential! The Lord´s hand is everywhere in Santa Isabel!! I love the mission so much and love the Lord more than anything. He is coming through for us big time right now!
I love you guys a ton too and hope all goes well!!
YO AMO LO QUE HAGO!

Con amor,

Elder Degn

ps. The big three at the bbq
 
 The trio!
 My man, Elder Bentley...
 

 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

One year!!!

Hahaha I'm sorry that I might have laughed a bit to see that you are all back in school, but it also made me realize that this week I hit one year officially! This Thursday will be the mark, and it really is unbelievable that I only have one year left in the mission! Time has gone by so fast! I really cant believe how old everyone looks back home either! (the kids that is..) And that both the boys are going to be in high school just blows my mind. But keep it up in the sports. Way to keep the legacy going;)

But here in Santa Isabel we had a pretty crazy week to be honest. The hermanas in my district had a baptism so I did my first baptisimal interview, and that was really just a amazing experience. I was a little bit nervous but it was a 80 year old woman that had been evangelical her whole life but was telling me about how now she has found the true church of Jesus Christ and she was more that willing to accept all of the commandments and do everything to be baptized. It really is a special spiritual experience to be a part of the proceess of them joining the church and hearing from them their determination to follow. It really is important for all of us to remember our moment and moments of conversion. It is what gives us strenghth in challenging moments.

We also had a zone conference with President Smith which was also awesome as usual! We really learned a lot about teaching the priesthood and helping the recent converts and less actives progress in the church and be able to understand the whole other world that exists as a member of the church. It was one of those things that I never really thought about until I got here, but it is very real, and sometimes it is hard for people to understand everything and the importance it all has. So yeah, working on that:)
For me though the highlight was our stake conference we had, it was sooo good! I was very impressed with the way the Presidency handled everything and taught the members of the stake. The things that they focussed on really were what the members needed and the things that I personally needed. They focused on The Work of Salvation and the roloe that each of us plays as members of the church to do our part to hasten the work of the Lord. He is doing His part, so we definitely need to do ours! The sunday session was a broadcast from the area presidency to all the stakes in Uruguay and Paraguay, with the key note speaker of Elder Bednar, who focused on repentence and the atonement. Needless to say, it hit home. Really something that we were all needing to remind us what we ALL need to do everyday.

Alright, and the cherry on top. A month and a half ago I expressed my desire to President Smith that I would like to train my good friend Elder Bentley that is coming into the mission. he said he would ponder about it, and last night he called me and said YES!!! TONIGHT ELDER BENTLEY IS COMING TO RIVERA!!! He is going to be a trio with me and Harbold until this change ends, and then I will continue training him!! DEMASIADO LOCO!!! But yeah, I cannot wait!! This is going to be aweosme!!

I love you guys so much!! Thank you for everything, your letters, emails, and prayers. You guys are the best!!!
De Rivera con amor,

Elder Degn

 

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Plaza on "The Line"


 Hey kiddos glad to hear that you are all enjoying your last (hehehe) week of summer! Sad to hear about that...;) But thats crazy that another school year is about to start and that both the boys are going to be in high school together! Look out Wisconsin....here come, THE ONEDERS! But really, enjoy that summer homework to the max. The time just keeps flying by for us here in Santa Isabel. We go to the centro and the border every pday because we have to take out money and go to cyber. There arent either in our area. Then we go to the plaza on the border and eat good hotdogs and then go to the brazilian super market because there are better things and its cheaper. Then we look at all the little shops and stuff and maybe pic up a suvenier (sorry, no idea). Somedays we play soccer with the zone too, then we head back out to the house and clean up a bit. Thats the life right there. But we love it!!

So yeah, this week has been just as crazy and the truth is that the lord has taught me many lessons. Like not to assume that someone that has been investigating the church for a long time knows what they need to do to get baptized. (facepalm) But we got that doubt taken care of real quick, but she is probably going to stop reading the book of mormon so fast. She went to church again yesterday, so we just need to get a couple more things taken care of and she will be good to go!

Elder Harbold is such a boss!! I keep thinking he has more time in the mission because he is already soo much better than I was when I had his time. He speaks really well, and teaches really well too, and he has no fear to talk to anyone! That is what we have really been working on, and he just goes right at it, starting those awkward conversations until we can get enough out of them to start teaching or get a time set up to come back. We are already having a great time together and its a lot nicer when your comp has got your back.

Fa but then last night we went to go talk to a couple we found looking for old members, and it went soo good! We went and they were there with their kids and just chilling and so we got to know them a little bit, Ruben and Silvia, and his mom was baptized recently so he was interested, so we gave them one of the best first lessons I have ever been a part of. The spirit was working hard for us because the devil was also working hard, (lots of distraccions) but the spirit came through and we ended up praying right there on our knees with them and he gave a very humble, genuine prayer, and it really hit home with both of them I think. We are going back today, but yeah, miracles are everywhere!!

Also Elder Martinez called me last night to tell me that right now two of the people we found together are getting ready to get baptized!! I am so happy!! It makes me almost more happy just to hear that they are still moving forward than to be there! The Lord is great and He is guiding His work! I love you all so much, thank you for everything!!
Todo mi amor

Elder Degn

 
 Plaza on "The Line"
 Building a foundation
 
Elder Harbold deep in thought

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Walking...Talking... August 11, 2014

Hey there kiddos, I hope that you all had a good week and that you are enjoying the ending weeks of your summer! Its crazy to think that the kids almost go back to school and that Hannah hits a year this week and that I am not far behind either! Where is the time going?!? Today we played some futbol as a zone, then went and bought super good loaded hot dogs in Brazil and went to a free shop which is a store with imported goods that are cheaper than normal but only foreigners can buy there. It was a mini heart attack to being in the states again and how wierd I am going to feel.

Fa, but this week was awesome!! We walked like crazy but we made it work. This area has been chugging along for a long time, and just about everyone that we were visiting when I got here hadnt really been moving for a long time, and we have had to change the approach, and walk a lot, and talk to a lot of people, but slowly but surely, the Lord is putting the people in our way! We have been looking for a lot of old members to help us find people, and one night that was super cold we were out contacting old addresses of members and we went to one house and a woman came out and before we even said a word she told us to come in and sit down because it was so cold outside. We just expected it to be a old member, but nope!! Just a really nice woman named Maria that just let us come right in and get to know here and teach her. She was super receptive and we were quite surprised, and hopefully in this week we can get to teach her again!

We have also found a very Catholic woman that we went and in the first lesson she just told us about how a lot of her family has died and how many trials she has had, so Elder Harbold whipped out Plan of Salvation, then we just jumped right to the Atonement, and it hit he super hard. The spirit is the key to everything. The spirit was definitely there, and she was very impacted by it, and she invited us, yes that it right, to come back!! I love it!!!

Haha the portuñol is also coming along, its really not too bad....but when its bad its bad. We have a member that just speaks portuguese, and it is rough sometimes because I have to rely on Harbold to help me out because he has been on the border his whole mission. But it is really nice to listen to, and I am reading the book of Mormon a litte bit in Portuguese, but written is easy, listening is still harder. But its coming!!

We have got tons of work to do and this week should be awesome!! The district is also coming along great! Except sometimes the hermanas make me feel bad becasuse they just work like crazy....no me importa....

Love you guys! Thank you so much for everything!! The Church is true!!

Todo mi amor,

Elder Degn

ps, sorry, this computer doesnt read my camera, next week....

Bem-venidos de Rivera!--August 4, 2014


Hey guys how are you doing!? Im sorry to hear about dad, and I may or may not have chuckled a bit to myself. I know that sounds terrible, but just play that back in your mind and you will get what I mean;) Also because sometimes I feel a bit old at 6:30 in the morning getting off of my top bunk and trying to get to the ground without breaking anything. (Myself, my comp, the bed.....)
 
But hey! Im in Rivera! It is crazy here and I am basically going through Uruguay/Brazil culture shock again. My comp is Elder Harbold from Pleasant Grove and he has 7 months in the mission. I am his fourth comp. He is such a stud!! He is really tall too, just a little shorter than me, and really gringo, so we look pretty funny walking through the streets together. My district is two other elders, Farnsworth and Izquierdo, and two hermanas, Ventura and Amarilla. They are really fun and we actually had a really good district meeting this week and I am feeling really good so far about it! Our area is a neighborhood outside of Centro, and it is a small ward split with two other elders that live with us. We share a chapel with another ward (WHAT???) but our ward is only like 30 people usually. It was actually really good, just different from my ward in Cerro. But I am the sunday school teacher of the 14-18 year olds, which is basically 6 young women and 1 young man, so it was interesting but I really liked it and honestly just love teaching. We have a ton of work to do here because there is only one investigator progressing and their story is crazy...we will see if they are going to be able to move through some serious challenges they are facing. But she went to church with he daughter this week which was awesome! Her name is Paola. I will let you in on some more deets next week. But my comp says that in the last two weeks all of their super good investigators moved away. So we are basically starting from scratch. But yesterday we had a super good planning session and Elder Harbold is super enthusiastic which is something that I havent had for a long time, and we are both feeling super pumped about this next change!!
Haha but yeah, Rivera is right on the border of Brazil, and it is a open border so we can go into Brazil no problem. We actually go almost every Pday from what Ive heard because everything is super cheap over there. We are going in a little bit, so I will let you know how that goes. Thanks to the border here the majority of the people speak portuñol. (Portuguese and Español) Right when I was feeling like I was in the clear on spanish, I get here where they speak the craziest mix of languages. For the first two days I felt like a new missionary again, not really understanding anything. But it is amazing how fast the lord will help you. I dont really know all the words, but I understand what they are trying to say, and that really makes me feel good. I am reading the O Livro de Mormón in portugues a bit, and that is fun, it is easy to read but harder to listen too and understand. But hey, we are gettting there!!

I am also calming down a little bit because here it isnt dangerous at all basically. The first night I was like, ¨Hey why dont we lock the gate? Or the house? Or have dogs or take the keys with us or have barbed wire or not use backpacks?¨ So it was a bit of a transition, but Im really liking it so far!!! Vamo arriba la celeste!!!
Todo mi amor,

Elder Degn

ps. Happy aniversary Mom and Dad! 24 years aint too shabby. Sure seems like that has flown by... Love you guys tons! Thanks Mom for consenting to marry Dad. It worked out pretty well eh?

 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Ciao Cerro!

Well kiddos, I really cannot tell you how glad I am that you all enjoyed Cali this week, and I’m not going to lie, but it makes me really homesick to see you guys there, one year no mas:) Well this week has certainly been a crazy rollercoaster! The down side is that Leo didn’t get baptized, and it has been really tough to see him get so close and then not get there at the last minute. Really tough.

There have also been a lot of problems that have come up in the area, and we are closing the part that we recently opened and had a bunch of success. Elder Martinez is going to be working a lot with the members so we can have lessons in their houses so they can still teach this people. We have two people in their that should get baptized in this next month, but I will only see the pictures because I have been changed! Tomorrow morning I am taking a bus to RIVERA! It is such a bittersweet feeling because I love this place so much and the members and everything, but Rivera is basically the place everyone wants to go. It is where Dio started the mission, and it is on the border of Brasil and they pass over to there on pdays to buy cheap stuff and eat good food. So I’m super pumped for all of that! I am also going to be District leader! That was actually a big surprise, but I’m super excited! My comp is Elder Harbold. I know nothing about him except that he only has five months in the mission. I will also see my brother Elder Davis up there, and I’m soo pumped!!!!

Ahh this is the craziest mix of emotions I have ever felt, and I don’t like it that much, but I will go and I will do. Cerro has been exactly what I needed exactly when I needed it. I have progressed here spiritually more than any other time in my life. Maybe someday I will break open that story book for ya... I love this place so much, and it has really just been a huge blessing to be here and have my gratitude for everything just explode. Something that hit me super hard recently is in Mateo 16, the last six verses I believe. The question that hit me is ¨what will a man give in exchange for his soul?¨ What am I willing to do to be saved? The answer like always is in el Libro de Mormon. Alma 5:10-13. Fueron fieles hasta el fin. Endure til the end. The ONLY WAY. That is what I hope everyone can understand, Eloy, Jesus, Charo, Piriz, Iris, Leo, everyone that I love so much here. I love you guys more than I can describe, thank you for everything! Nos vemos de Cerro, por la ultima vez. Les quiero!!

Elder Degn

The District
 
 I Love all these people and will miss this area so much!!




 The 2nd Counselor in the Bishopric--He guards and protects us. It helps that he is an ex-marine and has a black belt in Karate.

 

IRIS!!!!---July 21, 2014


Hey everyone, I’m so glad to hear that you all had a good week, and that Abby had so much fun at girls camp! I really miss those ward outings, awesome memories. I am also quite upset that you are going to Cali again without me, just hit me up with a postcard please:) We have been doing pretty well here, but we have both been really sick this week. It is the weather, its super-hot during the day, so we don’t go out all bundled up, and then when the sun goes down it is freezing cold. Martinez had some crazy body cold for like four days, then he got better and it hit me yesterday. I could barely get myself out of bed to go to church. It was crazy, I just feel like an old man. Today is better, so hopefully I will get out of it soon.
Apart from all of that, the Lord has blessed us SOOO much this week! We had the baptism of Iris on Saturday! Leo quit smoking, and everything was going well, but then last Sunday there was a super big storm and it blew the roof off of their house, and he just got really mad. He was upset and didn’t know why so many bad things were still happening to them. It was honestly really tough, and he didn’t want to get baptized. So we let him cool off a little bit, they both talked to the bishop, and yesterday he decided to get baptized again, so this week we should be having his baptism! It really is amazing how the Lord works, and it really depends on us to see his hand in our lives along with the challenges.

So yeah this week we weren’t able to visit everyone because of the sicknesses and such, but yesterday we had 4 investigators come to church and 4 of the 5 converts of this year come! It was really just a tender mercy for us and the Lord telling us that He is looking out for us.

This is also the last week of the change, I can’t believe it has gone by so fast. I’m a little worried about leaving Martinez here because this past week one of the companionships in our ward got roughed up pretty good in the street and one of the elders of the other companionship got shot in the head with a bb gun. Luckily nothing has happened to us, but I just hope that if I leave that President sends another big guy to help out Martinez.

Well, I love you guys so much, and I hope that you guys have a good week! Say hi to Cali for me...

Con todo mi amor,

Elder Degn

ps. IRIS!!

Alemania no mas!--July 14, 2014

Alemania no mas!! Whew, yeah, the Mundial was super fun and all that, but after another day inside yesterday, I'm ready for everyone to get back to normal. Uruguayans hate Argentinians, so they were all super happy that Alemania won. It was almost as crazy as when we beat Italy, it's like we all just turned into Germans overnight. So yeah, it was a fun ride, but we are looking forward to being able to go into houses and not have to wait until half time to teach a lesson. Not really the best way to invite the spirit. Also, yesterday was the Uruguayan Father´s day, so Pops, Feliz dia!! The other day in June is Grandparents day, so Father’s day got kicked back a little bit. I got a cool keychain from the relief society as a future father, so I was super happy about that. Everyone thinks I’m super old and have kids anyway, so it works.

This week has been a bit of a roller coaster! We had the wedding of Iris and Leo on Wednesday and it was super fun! We all went to Ciudad Vieja for the ceremony and some of their family came and it was just crazy. The ceremony was performed by a woman, and she put on this sash thing of the Uruguayan flag which gives her authority or something like that, read them the laws and importance of marriage, and it honestly felt like a joke because she was cracking jokes with the family the whole time. It was funny, but it is easy to see why many people don’t respect their own weddings. (TEMPLE; TEMPLE; TEMPLE) But it was fun and we were witnesses, so we got to sign this huge book of forms and everything and sit in the big chair and I felt pretty official. They were really happy, and that makes everything worth it. Then on Thursday they had their interview to be baptized and Iris passed with flying colors, but Leo is still struggling with smoking. He has given up so much stuff, but this last little bit is more difficult. So they did not get baptized, but we talked about everything and put the goal for this next week. They both agreed and are going to really work at it for this next week. So we are really hoping that everything comes together for them.

Other than that it was Elder Martinez´s birthday on Tuesday and he turned 22! He is super Viejo. One of the members in our area is a professional cook and cake-maker, and she made him a huge toy-story cake, and it was amazing. We ate cake for quite a few days. We also went to the house of one of the recent converts that we are really helping right now and she made a bunch of food too, so we ate pretty well for a couple of days. It was pretty darn nice. It was fun for Martinez, and we just had a good time.

Also, spiritual though of the day. Attributes of Christ: HUMILITY. There is way too much pride in this world, and it changes within each of us. Don’t be prideful, accept the will of the Lord, and keep on keepin on. Love you guys like crazy! Thank you for everything you do and have fun this week!!

Todo mi amor,

Elder Degn

ps. This is Iris and Leo and two of Iris´s sisters.

What World Cup?--June 30, 2014


Hey y'all, sounds like you are all super busy but all for a good cause! Fa the truth is that I miss camping and stuff like that. There aren,t mountains here so it makes me a little sad. Even though sometimes I feel like I'm camping because at night it feels the same as sleeping in a burrito wrap. But yeah, the country is pretty calmed down now, just upset at Suarez, and Brazil for buying off the FIFA. (Dont know if thats true, but its what everyone says) This week I was pretty sick with headaches and congestion and a sore throat so I finally called the mission nurse and she told me I had an infection of some sort and so she gave me meds and made me stay inside for A WHOLE DAY to give everything a break from the really cold air. Yeah, so we were inside all day for the Uruguay game...but it was still good, we cleaned. A lot. Oh and yeah, I'm a lot better now.
Also, this week was awesome! We saw the Lord´s hand so blatantly it was amazing. We were standing in the entrance of the nieghborhood of Iris waiting for her to come get us and take us to her house when a bunch of women with their kids passed us on the way home from school. We smiled and said hi to all of them, and then one came back and asked us what church we were from. Martinez was in a bit of shock, so I explained and she asked when we can come to her house. So we set something up and went back two days later and she turns out to have eight kids and lots of health problems but has been meeting with the Testigos de Jehova for a year or something because she likes learning about the bible and stuff like that (they dont event use the bible) but said that some of their questions they couldn't answer about life, death, stuff like that. All of which we DO have the answers. So we had a really great first charla with her and I'm super excited to see what this week brings!
Haha that same day when we went to visit Iris and Leo it was hilarious because they went to a party Sunday night and Leo got stone drunk. Which led to him getting heated with the bus driver, which led to him getting punched by the bus driver, which led to him spitting back at the bus driver a bunch of blood and his front teeth. Which then led to him yelling all sorts of stuff like how he can't get married to this witch and then fell asleep outside. Oh my gosh you guys have no idea how hard we were laughing with them it was hilarious!! Iris has made him promise to quit drinking now, and without knowing any of this, our plan was to teach them the Word of Wisdom. So hey, pretty good timing eh? They are going on super well and this week they are going to the temple again with the ward, and are bringing a couple friends from the nieghborhood.


We also had a fun class in church yesterday in which Martinez taught the ley de castidad with five Uruguayan mothers present. Yeah, it was a pretty interesting conversation for a 21 year old mexican about standards, morals, why this, why that, they best way for this, yeah it was a show. I just enjoyed watching. Gotta love it!
Well kiddos we are going to temple again this weekend so we are really pumped for that, and really, I love you all so much! Thank you for everything!
Ciao.

Elder Degn

ps, What World Cup?
 
 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

USA!USA!USA!


So anyway that Family reunion looked like a absolute blast and I am actually pretty jealous. We´ll have to do it again in a couple of years. Im also glad to see how fun it is to go to a nice clean beach when it is really hot and all that fun jazz. Because this past week has been the coldest yet, it was a little bit odd to celebrate the fourth of july in the middle of winter, but it still got pretty patriotic in la casa. Also recently thanks to Elder Patterson (KJ) and our constant exchange of That thing you do quotes, I have seen a connection between this epic classic and the missionary life. Por ejemplo:

When you comp leaves the lights on downstairs and you are all in bed, ¨Let her burn, let her burn, let her burn all night. Bring me down here in the dog-gone middle of the night to turn off the lights, cant he get anything right?!¨

Or when a missionary gets called to DL, ¨You mean you´re going to start paying me?? I didnt say that!¨

Or when you see someone that looks like a golden investigator, ¨hey go talk to them, you can eat a burger anyday!¨

Hahaha yeah, its been cracking me up lately, I´ll let you know when I realize some more:) #Oneders

Fa, but we had another awesome week! Iris and Leo have been doing very well, they both found jobs the week after they started investigating the church, and so they are very gratefully busy. They have been blessed so much for their efforts, its amazing. We are going with them Wednesday back to downtown Deo for the wedding! Martinez and I are both preparing ourselves mentally so that it isnt too much of a blow for us to see the happiness of everyone getting married and just enjoy the moment. Then on Saturday is the baptism! We are so pumped for them and it has been amazing to see them come so far in such a short time. I cant believe how quickly we have come to this point, and at church yesturday they were both just very excited for everything.

What has absolutely blown my mind is how much the area has changed just because of the nieghborhood that used to be closed. It has exploded and we have started to teach five or six people and they are all geniunely interested and recieving the lessons very well. We have gone in with a couple of members that are really helping us out, and they have really connected with these people and it has just been really a testimony-builder to me to see the importance of the members because they have similar life styles and experiences, but really testify with power. Its really is amazing.

I also went on divisions this week with one of our ZLs Elder Caires Franca from Brazil. It was pretty fun talking with him because Portugues is his first language, and he had to learn spanish in the mission, so its is kinda a goofy sounding spanish, but he works like a boss. I really learned a lot from him about how to teach better, which is really something that I have been working on a lot lately, and it is great to see the difference.

We also went to the temple with the ward on Saturday, and there is really no where else in the world like the temple. We worked in the baptistry for a couple of hours, and I was able to perform comfirmations, and it was really an amazing experience. I love the temple so much. No joke.

Well folks, I love you guys like crazy, and love to hear that you are all doing well!! (Even though Matt and Josh think they look big, its just because they are wearing my swim trunks. Enjoy it while you can boys, this guy aint any smaller)

Con todo mi amor,

Elder Degn

USA, USA, USA!!