Monday, January 24, 2011

More Pictures


New Year's Dinner


Family in Valencia

Alex Being Alex


The Four Elders

Alex and his roomate.

When Alex came home from the hospital

Lleida Zone Conference


This past week was MUCH better! After several terrible weeks, Elder Plaskett and I finally got back up to our average number of lessons, which is the zone and mission average. Also, Elder Da Silva had to go back to Barrajas (or something like that), where his family lives, to order a new DNI card. Somehow he managed to forget the most important thing- his passport! We had to send it to him. Thus he was gone from Monday morning to Friday evening. So we got a nice break. (that´s terrible to say). Elder Parrish was in a tripanionship with us. It was really fun because Elder Parrish and I get along super well!

Back in December a new zone was created. Lleida is in this zone. We thought it was called the Zaragoza zone because Zaragoza is the largest city in the zone and some papers about transfers said Zaragoza Zone. Well turns out that is actually called the Lleida Zone! This is because Lleida is in the center the center of the zone. This means that we had to host zone conference this week in our capilla. It was nice not having to travel, but at the same time preparing everything is a lot of work. The zone conference, as usual, was amazing. I was talking to Elder Alphin (Tarragona) afterwards and we both agreed that we could listen to President Hinckley speak for hours and hours. The theme of the conference was about lifting our vision higher. President spoke a lot about our potential. He also spoke about recent prophecies about missionary work in Europe and Spain. One thing he pointed out was the average baptisms per year in a South/Latin American mission versus here. He pointed out that we have a ton of immigrants from the Americas in Spain. Thus, with the same people (South/Latin Americans) plus the 10s of thousands of Europians that general authorities have said are being prepared for the gospel, we should be able to do just as well as the missions in the Americas. He then spoke a lot about changing our lives so that we can have the Spirit more and be more obedient. I love the humor of President Hinckley. At one point he said, "What are some small things you all need to repent on. We´re all friends. Go ahead." And elder responded, "I need to stop singing apostate songs when I´m in the streets." At this point one of the sisters who came out to the Spain the same time as me said, "what! we´re not allowed to sing regular music?" and President Hinckley merely responded, "When you are singing youre listening." (we are not supposed to listen to nonchurch music). It was such a great answer. It made me laugh.....i guess you kind of had to be there. This is actually kind of hard for me and Elder Parrish. We LOVE breaking out into random country songs. So now we´re trying to phase out by changing the lyrics to missionary themes. usually it gets to complicated and we give up on singing the song. so it seems to be working. haha. we had a ton of pizza and left over cake that some members made for it. i felt so unhealthy this week. haha. well the zone conference was amazing!

not much else happened this week. And I don´t have any more time. I have to take Elder Plaskett to the foot doctor.
Keep strong in the faith.
¡Hasta Luego!

Elder Buchkovich

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

European mission


What a terrible week!!!! We lost 6 investigators (people we are teaching about our church) this week. Coincidentally they are all from the Dominican Republic. Two of them are Daisy and Tracy, who we used to have a baptismal fecha set for. Ramon, the husband, had to fly to the Dominican Republic because his mom died. They only had enough money to fly him there and not back. Daisy asked us not to come back until Ramon came home. This confirms our suspicions that she wasn´t developing a testimony and agreed to baptism only to support her daughter. Tracy still wants to get baptized when her dad gets home (whenever that is) but we have no way of meeting with her to help her keep progressing. Thus this was a very hard blow. Their friends, the other Ramon and his sons Jorge and Jonathon, keep cancelling on us. And in fact one day while we were walking toward their piso for a cita, Ramon was walking up ahead. He saw us and ran across the street through traffic and kept running to avoid us. Later that day we had to make a quick stop at Mercadona (a grocery store like Giant Eagle or Heinans) to buy some soap. We happened to glance up and see Ramon trying to pay as fast he can and running out of the store. They day before he had cancelled on us also,saying he had a job interview. We passed by a locutorio to talk to one of our future investigators and Ramon was there just chatting with his friends! His face when he saw us was hilarious! Thus we´ve decided to drop him and his sons and stop setting up citas for a while. Another investigator, Juan, keeps saying he´s super interested, but ever since his member friend left to visit the Dominican Republic for a month, he hasn´t shown up to a cita!

It´s been really hard for Elder Plaskett and I. We feel that are teaching methods are not up to par and that we are not inviting the Spirit enough. We also feel that we are not doing adequate job with street contacts. Thus we feel partially to blame for our investigators´ lack of interest in meeting with us. Also our relationship with Elder Da Silva is not improving at all! It´s getting much worse. And now he keeps making us look bad in front of the members. We really don´t know what to do. Thus it has been a really hard week for us.

On the bright side, Alex finally came to church again! He really seemed to enjoy it. And he even told a few of his old friends that he´d see them again next week! Although he won´t admit that he enjoyed it or said that. lol! He really is a great person. I was really depressed Sunday and he cheered me up quite well!

I really don´t know what else to say about this week. I forgot my camera again this week. ¡Lo siento!

¡Hasta luego!

Elder Buchkovich

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Transfer #3 Already


This week is transfers again! I can´t believe I am starting my 3rd transfer in the field already!! At the end of this transfer I will have 6 months in the mission!!! I am remaining in Lleida with Elder Plaskett. Elder Parrish and Elder Da Silva are staying the same too. Thus, we decided to have Pday today like normal, instead of tomorrow. It will be a very interesting six weeks. I think I am going to learn a lot of patience. There is some friction between me and Elder Plaskett. He is very prideful and judgement. Sometimes he doesn´t even realize he is being so and he tries not to be, but it´s wearing on my patience because he can be quite hypocritical. Also he thinks that because he didn´t know much Spanish when he was only a few months in (he still doesnt know too much), that it means I don´t know much Spanish either. During lessons he assumes I don´t know wats going on and often doesn´t include me. One time I tried to answer a question and he flat out told me I didn´t understand. I did. And in fact numerous times I have understand that family more than him. Other than that, we are getting along quite fine and we have a "common enemy" to unite us. Elder Da Silva. He´s a great elder. But he refuses to communicate things to us so it makes us look bad when the members tell him something and he doesn´t tell us and thus we end up being late, missing something, or having to cancel a cita. Also he spends his money on who know what. And then complains that he has no money for food and eats our food. Sometimes he asks, sometimes he doesn´t. Thus, I, being super thrifty (and being sick of buying new food cuz he keeps eating mine), hid my food in my closet. Well another thing Elder Da Silva does, is he doesn´t respect personal space. He likes to sit at my desk and look through my stuff. Today he decided for some reason to look through my closet. And he found my food! We try to explain to him how we feel. But he doesn´t understand. I guess it must be the language/cultural differences since he is from Angola.

Ok well I´m not supposed be negative in my letters or complain about other elders, so we´ll move on. We found out really good news. Tracy gets her cast off today, thus she can be baptized soon! Unfortunately we´re probably going to have to baptize her separately from her mom because we don´t feel that Daisy has a testimony yet and we don´t want her to be baptized for the wrong reasons. Plus, she hasn´t been to church enough times yet.......she´s only been once! However, we are really excited for Tracy!

Last Monday Elder Parrish and I went to the shopping area in Lleida to see the Rabajas sales. Well, they didn´t start until this week. But we still looked around anyway. We were in a store called Sfera, when a man randomly approached us. He asked us if we would pray with him. Now I honestly thought he was some guy trying to make fun of us. So I gave him a funny look and timidly said, "Sí?" Elder Parrish laughed and said, "CLARO!" (of course) And then asked the guy who he wanted to offer the prayer. The man volunteered and to our surprise gave a typical LDS prayer. It turns out his name is Danis. He is a menos activo. He works at Sfera and is going through a difficult time right now. He was excited to see us and gave us his number to call him for a visit.

I went on intercambios this week to Tarragona. The weather was super nice, como Valéncia. I was with Elder Benito, who is from Madrid. He is newer than me in the mission and SUPER SUPER enthusiastic to the point that he scares people during contacts. It was nice serving with him and his excitement kind of spilled over and refueled me some. Tarragona is where the Roman colony in Hispania used to be. So there is a lot of old Roman architecture. We drove past an old Roman aquaduct. Also the inner Drama geek inside me was super excited to walk past a Roman theatre!!!!! YES I have seen a Roman theater in person! It was thrilling and I tried to take a picture. It´s not very good though because the theater is surrounded by tall fencing.

Elder Plaskett and I have noticed that we are running low on investigators. So, we´ve been working really hard to find new people to teach. Yesterday we passed by a few antiguo investigators. We weren´t having much luck and only scheduled one cita. Right as we were leaving the last doorway, a man called to us from across the street and ran over to us. He started talking to us about religion and how he is Catholic but wants to learn about what we have to teach. We set up a cita for today. While we were talking to him, his friend came over. It turns out that his friend is a menos activo member and has a brother in the States who is active. This is a classic example of how when you are working hard, the Lord will put you in the right place to meet those who are looking for the truth!

Well that´s a lot and I´m about out of time.

¡Hasta luego! ¡Feliz Rabajas! (haha)

Elder Buchkovich

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Bourne Elder


When I wrote last Monday I was still quite, very sick. Despite being sick still, Tuesday I had to travel down to Valéncia, alone, to pick up my DNI card (residency card). It was really fun! I had to take the AVE (high speed) train to Camp Tarragona station 30 minutes away. Then from there I had to take a 20 minute bus ride into Tarragona to the Tarragona station. And from there I caught a regular train to Valéncia. I felt like Jason Bourne. Alone, hopping from train to bus to train in a foreign land (in all honestly thought Spain isn´t too foreign to me anymore). At the Valéncia train station, Elder Shields and his new companion (well not so new anymore), Elder Naseath (he used to be in Lleida), picked me up. Elder Shields was under the impression that the DNI place closed at noon and I arrived right at noon. It really closes at 2, but since we didn´t know, we didn´t go and I got to spend the night in Valéncia! I got to go to the district meeting and since all the districts in the Valéncia zone meet in the Valencia capilla, I got to see most of my old zone! (Alcoy was sick and stayed in piso). Nobody recognized me because I have lost so much weight from walking and from my illness! It was really nice seeing everyone. I only got to see Elder Lara for a little bit because he was going on exchanges with Caterroja. After the district meetings, I went on an eating cita with Elder Ames and Elder Montoya (from caterroja). I could not eat anything still, which was torture because they made pumpkin pie!!!!!!!!! They don´t have pumpkin stuff here ever!!! I was very sad! haha. Then that evening I went on splits with Sergio. He seemed quite impressed with the improvement in my Spanish and was able to talk to him the entire evening. We went and visited his mom, who is still investigating the church and then we visited another family that I used to teach. Everyone was impressed that I was speaking more Spanish. We ended the night by visiting Patricia and Simon and their family. They were my favorite member family (other than the Mambos). I didn´t get to say goodbye when I left for transfers so it was really nice to get to finally say goodbye! Wednesday morning I picked up my DNI card and left back for Lleida. It was really nice spending some time with Elder Shields, Elder Ames, and Elder Montoya again. I also enjoyed getting to know Elder Naseath.

Tuesday night there were no elders in Lleida. The Hinckleys set up an appointment for Elder Parrish with a specialist in Barcelona because Elder Parrish was worse than me. So they sent Elder Parrish and Elder Plaskett to Barcelona. Elder Da Silva was going to wait for me in Lleida with a member. Since I had to spend the night, Elder Da Silva had to go to Tarragona and stay with the our district leader. Thus there we no elders in Lleida. Wednesday on my way back through Tarragona, I picked up Elder Da Silva and we ended up catching the same AVE in Camp Tarragona that the other elders were on from Barcelona. So all four of us arrived back in Lleida together.

Thursday I started keeping toast in my body. Friday morning I ate more toast. Friday afternoon I had rice. And Friday by evening I was eating everything (although I avoided dairy and meats). Thus I was finally better!!!!!! However for the following days I was perpetually hungry. Although, I haven´t gained any weight back yet!

We had trouble getting visits on Friday and Saturday. Everyone was partying with family and friends. Thus we had a slow weekend. We spent a lot of time Saturday with Alex. He cooked us an AMAZING meal of pork, rice, and potatoes. Brazilians really know how to cook! So I got to have some pork on New Years! I actually did buy some saurkraut and pork to eat so I can have my goodluck, but I´m still a little afraid to eat it (the saurkraut) since I´m still recovering. So I don´t know when I´ll have it.

During our meal we got a call to come sing with the ward choir at a hospital. We went. And Alex (a less active member) came with us! It was exciting!!

Sunday evening the ward choir had another Christmas concert. This time it was at a fancier but still small auditoreum. Not as many people showed up, but it was still nice. It is really cool in Spain, becasue the Holiday Season lasts forever! It doesn´t end with New Years because they celebrate Reyes (Kings´ Day)! It´s on January 6 and apparently it´s bigger than Christmas. Most kids don´t get their presents until then. Thus all the Christmas lights and music are still up and playing! I LOVE IT!!!

Well I am out of time. I won´t upload any pictures this week. Sorry!

¡Feliz Reyes! ¡Hasta luego!

Elder Buchkovich