Monday, January 19, 2015


Hey guys hows it going? Greetings from Paysandú!!! Crazy Right? I honestly can't believe that I am here right now and that I left Rivera so fast. It really was tough to leave after I had my mind set on staying for another change, but what can you do. I really left some true friends out there. Apart from that, I LOVE PAYSANDÚ!! It is so sweet here!! It doesn't really have the craziness of the Brazilian border, but it is such a cool place! It also is sweet because we live in such a nice house!! It is the entire fourth floor of a five story apartment building. Right. in . the. middle. of . dowtown. It is nuts!! It is like living in the gateway mall enserio. It is a party everyday outside of the house. It is so big because we live with six missionaries with room to spare. It is awesome!! We have the best room because please, we are the Zone Leaders. (Chiste, but its true about the room) The craziest part too is that from our balcony on one side you can see the big ol bridge that goes to Argentina. Its huge! I just stand out there some times and my mind gets blown thinking that six days ago I was in Brasil. The mission  is sooo nuts, I love it!!!  (Thats crazy though right? Three countries in five days? maybe not for dad, but for us normal folk..:) But it is super hard for us to cross. Nothing like Brasil, Argentina is super strict, especially with Americans, so I will probably never be able to go. But I can see it....
Nuts, but anyway, I also love my area and my comp! Elder Silva is from Paraiba, Brasil, and ends in May I think. He is honestly one of the coolest dudes ever and we already get along like brothers! He is such a stud and basically can do everything. His mom is a professional chef, so he cooks sooo good, does MMA, dances samba, sings, and is a boss missionary! We are opening an area in Nuevo Paysandú which is out close to the bridge. Our area doesn't make it to the bridge, but it is out there and is pretty big and takes a long time to walk around as we have found out:) It is my first time opening an area but I love it!! It has been so much fun just walking around half lost all the time just talking to everyone looking for members and people to teach. We have already seen so many miracles, I cannot wait to see how this week goes where we can get a whole week in getting the work done!! Our ward is awesome and has so much potential!! I We have a great bishop that was also a professional volleyball player, super random, but it makes sense because he is super tall for a Uruguayan, almost as tall as me;) He reminds me of Abraham Lincoln minus the facial hair. We also have the capilla right in the middle of our area and it is huge! I'm not used to it at all and it is awesome!! We contact people and we are like, ¨yeah its that super nice church right there, wanna go with us?¨ Its ridiculous to be honest. I have never had that before in my mission, and we are going to get some serious work done here!!! Honestly I love it here so much, I love my area, I love my comp, and I love what I do!!!! 
You guys are the best and I hope you all have a good week!! 
Con todo mi amor,
Elder Z. Degn
ps. I almost cried in the grocery store here, I miss Brazilian import, so much cheaper....

 Bridge to Argentina in the background

Rivera...Paysandu!!! Jan. 12, 2015


Good morning folks, around the world;) sounds like you guys are all in the thick of things, and I'm sure you wouldn't have it any other way. To answer some of your questions, Poor Elder Toledo still hasn't had a doctors appointment yet, so he is in the same place, but maybe this week will be the week. And yes, I was released from the bishopric for two reasons, one because two awesome new families moved into our ward and one of the brothers is going to be the new counselor. (such a miracle en serio) and the other is because this week we had changes and I am leaving Rivera!! WHAT!? This week every Zone had a conference with Presidente and the APs as they taught the new from that our mission has to work, and in the conference they told everyone their changes. So I was sitting there all tranquilo thinking I was safe, but it turns out that I am going to the city of Paysandú to be the senior zone leader, opening the zone (both me and my comp are new to the zone) and obviously opening area as well. My mind was like, ´you kidding me right now?´ I feel like I was just barely getting a hang of this whole zone leader thing,now I'm the man running the show. My mind is still tripping, but I've been getting better preparing myself, and now I'm pretty darn excited! I'm also really pumped because my new comp is going to be Elder H. Silva from Brazil!! The Portuguese continues!! He has more time than me in the mish, I'm not exactly sure how much, but I met him in Cerro like a year ago (Crazy) and he seems like a super chill guy. It is also nuts because Paysandú is right on the border with Argentina, just across the river. That part of Argentina is now part of my mission, and we have a little mini-zone there that will be its own thing this change, and then we will see how it works. Another crazy side note is that seven months ago, that Argentinian city, Concepción, was the first area of none other than the Hermana Audrie Robinson. Is that crazy or what? Such a small world sometimes! So anyways the truth is that I am super pumped to go and start over to get a huge jump start on the home stretch of my mission!!! Elder Toledo started the mission in P-dú and he says that my area is the most dangerous outside of Montevideo. Kinda like being in Cerro again. Oh gee, I was just starting to miss being worried for my life, but I'm all good, this happy-go-lucky lifestyle of Rivera has gotten me ready to retire just about;) But yeah, tomorrow I leave at four in the afternoon for the fourish hour busride to my new zone!! Can't believe it!! 
So the truth is that this change has taken me a bit by surprise, so I wasn't really emotionally prepared to leave Rivera, our ward is on the verge of exploding, we had 59 people in church this week, nearly double what we had my first week here. We have had the Lord put families in the ward exactly when we needed them, and we have found some amazing people to teach. I was so excited for this next change because we have gotten a couple of awesome people lined up to get baptized, and I was super excited to see it. One is a eleven year old kid named Matias. His family are members, but inactive, and we have been working with them. The dad is a little bit tougher than the mom, but she has been going with Matias to church recently, and he is really excited to be able to be baptized. We have been trying to get his dad there to do the baptism, so hopefully that still happens. We had a really good visit with Mirian as well, she is in a tough spot because her preacher is pressuring her to choose one religion or the other, and she doesn't really know what to do. I'm sure it must be very hard, and I know that in the end, she will come around as well. Someone I will never forget from this area is Aldo. I don't know if you guys remember me talking about him, but he is the smartest man I have met here in Uruguay. We went almost two months without visiting him, due to medical complications of his wife, and it turns out that within four months of being diagnosed, his wife passed away from cancer. It hurt me so bad to see the pain he went through, I had never seen him lose control of his emotions like that before, and I just wanted to hug him. As we shared the plan of salvation with him, I was so grateful for it in my own life. Thanks to that knowledge we have, we will never have to suffer the pain and agony of losing someone forever. He is also progressing very promisingly as well. Ahh the list goes on and on, there are some families in the ward that I honestly feel like I am in my own home with them, they are awesome! I am going to miss them like crazy!! We have a last family night tonight with them, so we will be able to say goodbye. My good friend Elder Bedoya that is one of the other guys that lives with us is also leaving, and he is awesome and everyone loves him, so we have basically been going around saying goodbye to everyone together. YO AMO RIVERA!! NUNCA LE OLVIDARE! I am so grateful for the opportunity that I had to serve in this beautiful city. But as the missionary line goes, ¨I will go, and I will do.¨
So kiddos, I hope that you guys have a good week and that this time of year is treating you guys nicely, getting everything ready for hannah and everything...;) jaja jk, love you guys, thanks for everything!!!!
Todo mi amor,
Elder Z. Degn--Rivera, Uruguay


Familia Diaz!!

The Bishop's Family from Rivera

A really big frog!

FELIZ ANO NUEVO!!! January 5, 2015

Hey everyone, Happy New Year!! I can't really believe that it is really a new year already and it really freaks me out how fast time goes by...we are in the last week of our change!! New years was really fun, we couldn't stay out late like Christmas Eve, but we still got some goodies from some members and just passed a fun time in our house counting down the new year. In South America it is absolutely crazy and a really big deal, and Elder Toledo was feeling kinda trunky for his family parties, so he had us all dress up a little bit (Crazy) and then we went out on top of our house to get  a good view of all the fireworks! Rivera certainly did not disappoint. Our neighborhood put on a good show, but we can see the Centro from our house, and those guys went all out! It was really like being in a warzone for about fifteen minutes, it was nuts!!! Then we went to bed and started like nothing had ever happened the next day. Ah the mission:)
Apart from the big celebration, we went to Montevideo for our leadership council with President Smith where he gave us the new plan for the mission this year, and man, it was crazy. It was really a call to the church in Uruguay and the changes that we are making as missionaries to help the church edify itself here. We are changing all of the key indicators, or the things that we count and measure, like baptisms, lessons, news, that stuff, and now it is just six things: Attendance in church, baptisms, investigators with a baptism date, progressing members, new investigators found with a member (a member working with us), lessons with investigators, and hours spent working with a member. That is it. We don't count anything else anymore. It will be a very big change, but they are all things that we have already been working with but not really counted like this. It is not what PMG says, but it is the revelation that the Lord has given to our area leaders and our Mission President, and I trust 100% in what they believe. I have seen the need and the results that come when these things are done. It is going to be really interesting to see how the mission and missionaries adapt to the change, here we go!!! I also got to see Dio one more time before he goes home in two weeks which was awesome, and got to hang out for a bit with Elder Bentley, living the high life down there in Montevideo! Really a fun day apart from all of the traveling. It was about three days in a row with less than 5 hours of sleep....feeling better now though!
We had a great week after getting home from the conference and passing the holidays, and we are really seeing awesome progress in our ward and area! We have had two families move into our ward in the past two weeks, and they are both awesome!!! One is from here in Rivera, the other is from Montevideo that moved here to be closer to family and start over, really a big sacrifice from them. With these two new families we are seeing a new excitement that is coming over the members of the ward as they can see the potential that we have. We are working with a lot of the less active members to get them going to church again, and we are seeing a lot of promise. If everyone went every week it would be soooo gooood!!!! But we are getting there...Ernesto is doing awesome still! He gave the prayer in sacrament meeting yesterday and has an interview this week with the bishop about the priesthood, so we are really excited about that! We also have a great investigator named Marian that read the whole first chapter of Nephi in between our first and second lessons, and is doing soo good!! Now we just have to get her away from the church on the corner of her block...little steps at a time.. 
So right now we are doing really well, excited for this new week and for the changes that are going to happen in the zone this change! I should be staying here with Toledo, so we´ll see what happens!! Also, its soooo hot. 
I love you guys so much and I know this work is sooo true! Yo se que el Señor esta bendiciendome a mi y a ustedes todos los dias. Gracias por todo lo que hacen para mi!! Les quiero mucho!!
Elder Degn

ps. The new years party krew!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Feliz Año nuevo!!!! Dec. 29, 2014

Feliz Año nuevo!!!! Wow, I cannot believe how quickly this past year has gone and that I have spent the whole time here in Uruguay! It was soooo awesome to talk with all of you guys on Christmas, it was the best part of my day!! The only thing that does freak me out a little bit is how old everyone is starting to look....and sound....all of my comps here where like ´why the heck does your brother have such a deep voice?´ Couldn't convince them he got it from me, so oh well. I think my spanish voice is a little higher than my english voice anyway;) This week was really fun and full of great festivities and great activities. Something really fun that we did was go around caroling to all of the members in the ward, and we sang a mix of hymns and groovy Feliz Navidad in english and spanish, they thought it was a hoot. We also received so much food from members that we didn't have room to store it all and we could not eat all of it fast enough before it went bad....we had a pretty good cleaning day as well for that. Just like christmas at home right?;) 
Thank you so much for the packages by the way!! The shoes work soooo good and the ties are awesome! Elder Toledo is wearing one and I am wearing one of the others for concilio that we have tomorrow! Oh yeah, we leave tonight to head to Montevideo to have the meeting with President Smith and all the ZLs and Hermana leaders, so we will be there all day tomorrow and then get home late tomorrow night. Lots of traveling again, but it will be well worth it. President has a lot of big things planned for this year and I am really exited to be able to go and get it first hand from him! (Also to eat the food from the Hermana Smith;) All in all it is going to be a pretty good little day trip! I will also see Elder Diotaiuti for the last time because he heads home in two weeks! Crazy right? He has been a great example and one of my best friends here in the mission, and I cant wait to see him after! 
The truth is that we have a lot of people that we have been working a lot with and that we have found recently and that are in the process of accepting more light in their lives. We have seen the power of the spirit in their lives, and we are really looking forward to helping them this week! We have been working really hard to help our zone and ward, and we are starting to see some really good changes and results! New Years is going to be crazy, but I am super excited, it is going to be wild here!!! You guys have fun and enjoy the week and the cold weather...I've been sweating all day:) I love you guys tons!!! Thank you for everything!!!
Elder Degn
ps. Say hi to Zoe for me!