Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I Give Thee Thanks For...


¿Qué tal? Happy Thanksgiving! It´ll be weird not having Thanksgiving this year. In fact we couldn´t even remember if it was this week or last week. We had to ask other missionaries and people who have lived in the States. haha! Eventhough I won´t be in the States this week, I can still be very grateful for the things I have. I have much to be grateful for. I am wearing a new Spanish suit. (It looks way good. And it makes me look super slim!) I have an amazing family. Supportive friends. An excellent education. Food. Housing. Í´m in Spain. I have a great companion. An awesome mission president. The thing I am most grateful for is the Atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ. He suffered and died for us so that we can repent and be cleansed of our sins. Have our troubles and sins washed away. How great is that!?! I am so very grateful to be able to partake of the Sacrament every week and renew my baptismal covenants and start each week fresh. It is a wonderful blessing to be a part of the Lord´s restored church and a privelege to serve Him by inviting others to follow His example. I am so grateful for the priesthood that I hold and for the opportunity to live for time and eternity with my family. I am so grateful for the plan our Father in Heaven has for us to return to live with Him with our families. The Gospel is a wonderful thing! And I am so grateful for it.

I mentioned a new Spanish suit. I caved to temptation. We were in H&M and I just looked too good in the suit. Suits here pretty are well priced, compared to the States (even after converting from euros to dollars). I love it! A picture will be included. It´s amazing how nice it is compared to my super baggy missionary mall suit. ´Now spaniards on the streets will take me seriously! by the way, i do not recommend missionary mall for future missionaries. the only thing i like from it are the socks. I liked the shoes until my shoelaces snapped! i had to tie the lace back together and relace it. it is quite uneven now and very bothersome.

this week we spent a lot of time with president and hermana hinckley. they came down monday and we made paella (the rice dish you keep asking me about, mom). then tuesday through thursday we had a "mini-CCM" in the mornings. president hinckley is so intelligent! i learned so much! in the evenings the missionaries from the other areas either returned to their area or came out with us. it was nice having help. we made a lot of contacts with antiguos (old investigators) but still got lessons in. i can´t think of any stories to tell. i had a few i was going to tell, but as usual i forgot. plus i dont want to take a lot of time so that i can upload pictures.

one story really quick. elder lara and i had to return to piso to grab something on friday. we were walking past the capilla and noticed it was open. we peeked inside and saw hermano mambo waving us inside! it was their turn to clean the chapel. i saw johana and thought "oh no, isabel isnt going to be happy" (the only thing keeping johana from baptism is that isabel thinks johana spends too much time at church activities and is slacking with her home responsibilites. sergio´s mom has complained about the same thing). immediately after thinking that i heard an all too familiar laugh...it was isabel!!! we can´t get her to church but here she is cleaning it! lol. i see that as some progress. haha.

also we´re teaching sergo´s family. they are all as awesome as he is.

well that´s all for now. ¡hasta luego!

im having trouble with the pics. hopefully i can figure it out!

elder buchkovich

The Amazing Valencia Zone

Monday, November 15, 2010

Quick One


This letter is going to be quick. We have to be back in piso in 5 minutes. Today was crazy. we got up at 4 am to go get my fingerprints done for my residency. it was my last step. in 40 days i´ll get my dni card and be official.then after that we went down to catarroja to make paella with the hinckleys. the capilla there is HUGE!

this week was fun. i went up to castellon for intercambios for a few days. i was with elder middleton. he´s a transfer ahead of me and super good at spanish. he´s also from london. it was really fun and a great learning experience. i had to speak a lot more spanish. they had christmas lights up throughout the city but they´re not lit yet. it doesnt feel like christmas is less than a month and a half away!! mostly cuz it´s a lot warmer than home and utah at this time of year.

we had another baptism this weekend. two people got baptized in the Valencia 2nd ward (the hermanas´ area). and one from our area, Antonia. Antonia is the 76 year old lady that elder lara and i have been teaching. it was funny because yesterday after she received the Holy Ghost/was confirmed by elder lara, she gave him a 5 minute long hug. then she preceded to slowly (she´s super frail) hug and kiss everyone on the stand. there were a lot of people on the stand bc it was a special sacrament mtg about missionary work and there were a lot of short talks/testimonies.

we get to spend pretty much this whole week with the hinckleys. we´re having a mini ccm (mtc) training session through thursday every morning. i´m super excited. i love the hinckleys. i can´t help but be happy around them!

sorry this pc has no slot for my camera card.i´ll try again next week.

elder buchkovich

Monday, November 8, 2010

Elder Teixeria


This week was pretty amazing! Elder Teixeira of the First Quorum of the 70, came on a mission tour. He came to the Valencia Zone on Friday. It was such a wonderful experience! He is so great and the best part was including him, his wife, and the Hinckleys, there were only 22 of us in the room. So it was seemed very personal. He is very impressed with the work in the Valencia and challenged us to continue being an example to the mission. Elder Teixeira focused a lot on bringing people to church, especially families. He promised our zone specifically, that if we bring investigators to church, especially families, our mission will reach it´s goal of 404 baptisms for the year. That is a remarkable promise because we still need a little more than 100 baptisms to meet that goal. I would just like to point out that we´re not focused on numbers. As Elder Teixeira pointed out, the number itself isn´t important. Rather, each number symbolizes a person. Someone who is that much closer to returning to Heavenly Father. Yesterday we were expecting 18 investigators to come to church. Only 5 showed up. It was disappointing, but we just have to work extra hard this week to make sure they get there.

Tuesday evening we gave Isabel a blessing for health. She has been getting a lot of really bad headaches. She called to cancel our cita. But we showed up anyway and asked if she wanted a blessing. As a side note, earlier that day in the Bible she had been reading about healing of the sick. While we gave her the blessing, she could feel the Spirit. She didn´t admit it to us, but later told her daughter Joanna that she had felt the Spirit and no longer had problems with her (Joanna) getting baptized. Joanna is super excited and on Saturday while she was helping us and the other Elders prepare for a baptism for another girl, Maria Laura, she kept talking about ´"when she gets baptized." Hopefully tonight we can set a fecha (baptismal date).

I had a cool experience on Saturday too. Antonia is a 76 year old lady who is getting baptized this Saturday. She lives with a member family. The buzzers in their apartment building don´t work. Last week we travelled all the way out to their piso (far on the other side of town) and couldnt get in or get a hold of them. Saturday we had the same problem. Emeka (the member husband) wasn´t answering his phone. Thus, I said a super heartfelt prayer asking for a way to get in the building. I got a distinct feeling to wait 5 minutes. At first I doubted that it was from the Spirit. Come on how unoriginal is 5 minutes?! I thought it was just my mind. But being a missionary, I decided to be obedient to the prompting anyway. I didn´t tell Elder Lara about it and he was ready to leave. But after 3 of the minutes had passed I insisted that we wait 2 more minutes and try calling Emeka again. So we did. As he was trying to call Emeka, a lady left the building. I grabbed the door and we went in. When we got up to the piso and knocked on the door, Emeka answered and let us in and we got to teach Antonia.

Today all four of us went to the mall so that Elder Lara could get some suits tailored. Outside the mall there is this glass room set up with couch, toilet, sink, shower, etc. There are 2 people who live in it for 40 days straight. I don´t know if it´s for a reality tv show or what. But, there was a camera crew there. We stopped to watch for a second. The girl inside saw us an said, "who brought the guys in the suits?" (it´s set up so that there´s a mic so that you can hear wat´s said inside and they can hear outside) Naturally we started talking to her. She invited us in, but we didn´t have time. However the camera crew caught us. So i think i am on spanish tv! lol

¡Hasta luego!

Elder Buchkovich

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tender Mercies of the Lord


I´d like to start off apologizing...I forgot my camera so there are no pictures again this week. I really don´t have any great pics anyway because we´re too busy to take many pictures. Also I need to clear up some things from my story two weeks ago about Sergio. He´s Bolivian and he doesn´t have relatives who are members. His girlfriend whom he met on the internet and who lives Peru is a member.

I forgot a bunch of things last week. Now I can´t remember them again. Oh well.

This week has been...well interesting. I have a lot of stories to tell some are spiritual, some fun, and some are....interesting. I´ll go through day by day.

Monday: I weighed myself at Mario, a member´s house during FHE. It turns out that I had lost 2 lbs since leaving the MTC!

Tuesday: I spent the day on intercambios with Elder Ames. James, a member, came with us to several appointments. At one point we stopped at his piso for a minute to pick something up. Elder Ames is very friendly and likes to get to know people. He´s a lot like Dad. Thus, Elder Ames was asking James all kinds of questions about his life. We finally split up after one of our visits. James started heading back to his piso and Elder Ames and I to the bus stop. We got a call at the bus stop delaying our next appointment by a half hour. While Elder Ames was on the phone, James passed by us on his way home. Since we had extra time, we decided to go visit a new convert, Juan Carlos (sweet name, i know). On our way we passed by James again. Well James is from Nigeria orignally and had lived all throughout Africa. Thus, he is a bit paranoid. Later that night he ran into Elders Lara and Shields. He told them that he suspected Elder Ames as being a terrorist and was about to call the police, especially if Elder Ames tried to talk to him again. This may sound funny now, but the 4 of us were FREAKED out that night. We envisioned Nigerians breaking in our house and beating us, or worse Spanish police rappelling into our piso. We were so scared we almost called President Hinckley, but Elder Ames didn´t want to get transferred. Nobody slept well that night. We were paranoid the next day too. Luckily nothing happened. And Elder Ames and James talked things out at church yesterday.

Wednesday: Every Wednesday the ward mission leader teaches a Preach My Gospel class. The missionaries always go and teach a 10 minute lesson on something from PMG. Afterwards, Maria took us out for dinner. She took us to a Chinese buffet. There were tons of sea food. I went crazy. I ate octopus, mussels or clams, calamari, and more! I didn´t feel too well the next day.

Thursday: Afterward correlation meeting, Victor, who is also African and speaks English, gave us a ride to our next appointment. He was listening to inspirational music. This particular day I was feeling super down about my Spanish and lack of ability to teach effectively as a missionary. I had just attempted to talk to a Spanish investigator on the phone. It didn´t go too weel. The very first song played from that CD was a song about believing in yourself. the lyrics were something like, "yes, you can. if you just believe in yourself." it was just what i needed to here. I don´t believe in coincidences. I know that my Heavenly Father and Jesus knew I needed to hear that song. It made me feel a lot better.

Friday: Friday mornign we had interviews wiht president hinckley. i am so lucky to have him as a mission president. he is great. and so is hna hinckley! she is so excited about missionary work. they went to a mission presidents conference in germany last week. one of the area authorities from the 70 said that the harvest in Europe has not yet begun! i am super excited and lucky to help prepare the people of Europe for the restored Gospel!!
Thursday afternoon we started a fast to find to new investigators. The other elders ended up having a surprise dinner appointment so they ate. Elder Lara lasted until friday morning. I was the only one who fasted until our lunch appointment. But we were blessed for it. The evening we stopped my a less active man´s piso. We met his wife and children who aren´t members and are now teaching them.
The best story from the week happened here. Elder Lara and I were looking for a less active member´s piso. The address we had didn´t exist. So we were standing on the side of the road making some phone calls. All of a sudden we hear, "Elderes! Elderes! Esperen!" A man was yelling for us out his window. He came running downstairs to us. His name is David. He is a less active member who just moved to Valencia two weeks ago. He had been looking for the chapel and the day before (thursday) he had emailed a friend for help finding it. Well a different friend of his answered him; even so that we were standing outside his window when he felt inspired to look outside.

Saturday: We vistited David again to get to know him some and make sure he knew how to get to church. He´s originally from Ecuador. He told us the story of his conversion and his mom´s conversion. I¨m short on time so I´ll do the quick version about his mom. His mom was against him and his siblings getting baptized but let it happen anyway. After a year or so she noticed a change in her children...a change for the better. So she decided to meet with the missionaries. She was still unsure so she said that she´d get baptized only if one of the same elders that baptized her children baptized her. By now the elders were finished with their missions and back in the States. Well guess who was on vacation in Ecuador visiting his old mission. Yep, one of the elders. So guess who got baptized? It amazes me how the Lord knows our needs and he watches over us. He helps us with his tender mercies. My faith was greatly strengthened by these stories. He knew that I needed to hear that song for encouragement, he knew that David was looking for a way back to church, and he knew that David´s mom need to be baptized to start the path back to Him. I just cannot express myself on this email how wonderful this is! In the MTC and here in Spain, I have learned to look for the tender mercies of the Lord and my blessing in life. And it makes me a lot happier!

Sunday: We stopped by Veronica´s piso. She is a recent Nigerian convert. She doesn´t have much money and her husband is without work often. But she always insists on making us drink a 2 liter each of fanta when we visit. Today she offered a choice between that and hot chocolate. So we took the hot chocolate, thinking it would be less. WRONG! she brought out these HUGE mugs. Elder Lara couldn´t drink his cuz it was too hott. like a good companion i drank half of it. we ate lunch with the Mambos like we do every Sunday. and we were overstuffed like we are every Sunday! We ate dinner at Mario´s again. I couldn´t resist weighing myself. I gained 2 kilos since Monday. Do the math yourselves...it´s not pretty! I am taking this as a lesson on obedience and waking up on time. I keep sleeping in through exercise time....well that won´t happen anymore.

Well i spent way too much time on this. that´s all for now. ¡hasta luego!

elder buchkovich