Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Spring Changes in Lleida


The weather is already changing to spring! It has been about a comfortable 15 degrees or so celsius. And it´s only Febrero!

Today is transfers. Can you believe it?! Another six weeks passed! Time has just been flying by! Well I supposed I will cut to the chase. I am staying here in Lleida. However this morning, we dropped Elder Plaskett off at the train station. His new area is Granollers near Barcelona. It was sad seing him go. We have been doing so well together the past few weeks! But I look forward to a new companionship. I have decided that each new companionship is a new learning experience. In an hour we have to go drop off Elder Da Silva at the train station. He is going to serve in Bilboa in a tripanionship with the zone leaders there. (For anyone who hasn´t served a mission, mission presidents usually only ever do that for disciplinary actions). Elder Parrish is staying here. We will pick up our new companions when we drop Elder Da Silva off. Elder Parrish´s new companion is Elder Hughes. He was the first Barcelona missionary that I met (other than the ones I came in with). We met him on the train on our way from Madrid to Barcelona back in October....that seems like forever ago! However, I don´t know him too well. And my new companion is.....Elder Shields from Valencia! What are the chances of that?! I am super excited. It will be interesting since he has only one more transfer than me. But I am confident we will do well. Especially since the area is on fire right now!

Anyway so this week was really nice! We had another great week. It is a goal in the mission to get at least 20 lessons in a week. Here in Spain that can be difficult. Three weeks ago, Elder Plaskett and I accomplished that goal. Elder Plaskett said that would be cool if we ended the last 3 weeks of the transfer with 20 or more lessons per week. Being typical, pessimistic me, I laughed at him in my mind. BUT.... the first week we got 22, then our super good week we got 23, and last week we got 21! We did it! This week Elder Shields and I are on pace for 20 again! It is so much fun teaching people the Gospel and seeing them change for the better! It´s even more fun when you´re working really hard!

We also finally had entrevistas con Presidente esta semana. I LOVE President Hinckley. I walked into the interview ready to just release all my frustrations about the other elders, etc. But the Spirit is so strong with him that I walked into his office and instantly felt at peace. Instead of spending the interview complaining and tattling about the other elders, I talked to him about things that will help me be better. It was a great interview. One of the questions I asked him for advice on is, "where do you draw the line between being a pushover and being humble?" he found this question to be funny, but gave me a great answer. When you are humble you still stand strong and defend yourself; however you do it quietly and lovingly/nonconfrontational. My interview with President Hinckley was very refreshing and encouraging. I am so grateful to have him as my mission president! We also had training by the ayudantes as we waited for interviews. It was also very good!

On a sadder note...Thursday night Elder Plaskett and I were on our way home. We had had a cita and were rushing to get home on time at exactly 10:30. We were walking through the playground across from our piso when we saw a lady leaning against a tree. She looked like a typical homeless lady so we paid now attention to her. However out of the corner of my eye I noticed blood. I stopped Elder Plaskett and we went back to try to help her. She was drunk and is homeless. Her face was covered in blood and her right leg was broken or something. Her friend´s piso was about a 30 minute walk away. We helped her to a bench and tried calling her friend to pick her up, but noone answered. We don´t have any money to give her or call a taxi. Eventually we had to leave her there. It was really sad. It was also really humbling to think about all the times I have complained about life. I am so lucky in my life. I was born into a family that has a comfortable living style and has the restored gospel! I am going to try to complain less often about my life.

Also our friend Geraldo is in the hospital. He is the father of several of the menos activo families we are working with. He is also a ward missionary and in my opinion is one of the best members in Lleida. He´s from Ecuador. He came to Spain for the free healthcare because he had cancer. On friday he went to the hospital for a fever and they kept him there to restart chemo. It really sad because he thinks he is dying. (he has hinted at it before and especially now. He told us that he has been reading Moroni 10.) The amazing thing is that he seems to not be afraid to die. I can tell he is worried about his family, but other than that he seems perfectly at peace. Geraldo is truly someone with great faith! Fortunately he returns home tomorrow.

Well that is all for this week. It has overall been a great week. I am excited to work with Elder Shields.
¡Hasta Luego!

Elder Buchkovich

Monday, February 14, 2011



Well to start off, I would like to mention of few things I have been forgetting to tell you the past few weeks. First, I went almost 4 months in Spain before seeing a rat in Europe for the first time a couple weeks ago. It was from a distance, thankfully! I saw something scurry under a car down the street and thought to myself, "Oh look a chipmonk!" (it was dark) Then I realized that I was in the middle of a city with not many trees nearby. Also that the tail was way too long to be a chipmonk and the body was too big. And next, I tried eating pig´s hoof for the first time last Saturday. The key word here is "tried." I couldn´t quit figure out how to eat it so I just nibbled at it and then gave up. The Spaniards thought it was hilarious. Because it was originally Elder Parrish´s. When he gave up trying to eat it, I took it and gave it a go. Apparently pig hoof eating is an acquired talent (and taste) because the Spaniards didn´t have any trouble eating it. Also last Saturday, I ate Goose for the first time that I remember. It was AMAZING! I really like eating goose. It´s a good thing I ate it before find out what it was; because when I think of geese, I think of disgusting, mean birds. I probably would not have tried it. But I did. And they taste GREAT! Next time a goose tries to honk angrily at me I am going to remind it how well it tastes when it is grilled!

Elder Plaskett and I had another AMAZING week. This was definitely the best week of our companionship. We only taught one more lesson total, but we taught a lot more investigators instead of menos activos and recent converts. We have been struggling finding new people to teach. But now we have 9 new investigators from one week! And we have a fecha with one of our new investigators, Jude. He´s from Nigeria. A cool story from this week is that one lady we contacted on the street gave us a false address. So when we showed up for our cita, she didn´t live there. However, we set up a cita with the man who did live there. We met him yesterday after church. He is really open our message and is going to come to church this weekend. Most of this success cannot really be attributed to Elder Plaskett and me. For one thing we had intercambios this week with the zone leaders. I stayed here in Lleida with Elder Ryser. Elder Plaskett went to Zaragoza con Elder Jacinto. I learned so much from Elder Ryser. He has exactly one more year than me in his mission. He is a really great missionary. Mostly I learned about the importance of overcoming my fears and contacting more people! Most of our new investigators are from contacts we made while he was here. Second of all, most of our success has come as a blessing for our obedience. The last zone conference was focused a lot on obedience and raising our standards. President Hinckley is really pushing for a month of repentance and rededication to obedience and the mission rules during February. Thus, Elder Plaskett and I have been trying really hard to be more obedient. Thus the Lord has blessed us the Holy Ghost more. We are progressing a lot more in our teaching, etc. And thus the people are more open to our message.

This good week however has been marred by one event. I don´t know how far into detail I should go. So won´t go into far detail. Basically Elder Plaskett had to call the zone leaders about the other elders getting home too late (they were at our menos activo´s house) (also the zone leaders asked him to). Now things are really hard. Alex (menos activo) is mad at us and possibly so is Meritxel, his nonmember friend. The other elders won´t talk to us. At first I was annoyed at Elder Plaskett for doing it and I wouldn´t tell him the zone leaders´ phone number. I was afraid of what Alex would think, what the other Lleida elders would think, and what other missionaries in the mission would think. But then I realized, none of that matters. Obedience is obedience. Their disobedience was effecting our work. In the grand scheme of things the only opinion that matters is God´s. I then realized that my entire life I´ve been trying to please both worldly opinions and church opinions. It has caused me quite the inner division. At times i¨ve made bad decisions, at times good. This innerconflict has actually caused me quite a bit of unhappiness throughout life. And now I feel a lot more at peace, deciding to serve only the Lord. Jesus said, "you cannot serve two masters." And it is so true. I know that others may not like what we did. But God knows what is right. And hopefully someday they will too. I know that throughout life many more people will not like me for my decisions to always choose the right and not rationalize sin. But i will always have the support of my Heavenly Father and my Savior Jesus Christ. I also learned a lesson on setting a good example for others because they other elders started their disobedience after our bad example. And we were all setting a bad example to Alex.

Well speaking of obedience, this went WAAAY over time. I kept writing and rewriting that last paragraph.

¡Hasta luego!

Elder Buchkovich

ps. Happy Valentine´s Day. I forgot that was today!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

El Libro de Mormón


Well, I´m not really sure what to write about this week. Nothing crazy or unusual has happened. It was actually quite a busy week. Elder Plaskett and I had our best week of the companionship so far! The majority of the citas were with menos activos and recent converts and we are still having trouble maintaining steady, progressing investigators. However we are working hard on being better and more obedient missionaries. We even started to apply differing teaching techniques, which seem to be helping. The people of Spain are super prepared for the Restored Gospel. But are the misionaries? Elder Plaskett and I feel really inadequate with our teaching methods, etc. Thus we are working hard on improving and keeping busy. I feel that we are being greatly blessed for our effort.

We didn´t have interviews with President, which was a little disappointing. Somehow there wasn´t enough time for our district. I was really looking forward to that. Hopefully they can fit us in this week or next week.

During district meeting, we focused a lot on the Book of Mormon. I realized that for a book so wonderful and amazing, a book I have such a strong testimony of, that I don´t stress it´s importance enough to others. I don´t show my enthusiasm for it. What kind of missionary am I?! haha....The people here LOVE the Bible. So do I. There are many gospel truths that are in the Bible. The Bible gives more evidence of the truthfulness of the restored Gospel than people realize. Thus it is really easy to get caught up in showing people Bible references that support the Book of Mormon and the church. I find myself teaching from the Bible A LOT more than the Book of Mormon. Thus I also realized this week that the people here already have a testimony of the Bible; if I want them to gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon too, I need to read more from the Book of Mormon and stress the importance of reading from it. How can you gain a testimony of something you haven´t read? Thus I´ve decided to rededicate myself to introducing the amazing, simplicity and truth that is the Book of Mormon!

After our cita with Dunca yesterday, Elder Plaskett said, "I´m pulling out the heavy artillery now!" He showed me a book and said that all we need to do is translate it to Spanish or Romanian for Dunca to read. I ended up reading all of the book last night before bed (i got to bed a bit late). It was a really amazing, interesting book. It was done in comic/cartoon form and presented the Book of Mormon as if it was the defendent in a court case. The book brought up MANY different arguments against the Book of Mormon and then refuted them with scriptures, witnesses, historical facts, and archaelogical finds, etc. It was a fascinating book. I actually learned a lot. But in reality, none of that stuff really matters. In the MTC they didn´t teach us of any of those things. This is because, the only witness that matters is the witness that comes from the Holy Ghost after reading from the Book of Mormon and praying to our Father in Heaven with a sincere heart. This is the only way we can know of the truth of this book. There is no other way. It doesn´t matter what historians, proffessors, or scientists say. The only thing that matters is what God says. That´s how I found out for myself that the Book of Mormon is true and that is how more than 14 million other people in the world today have found out. So, I figured in this email I would record my testimony of the Book of Mormon. It is a simple testimony. The Book of Mormon is true. There is no doubt in my mind that it is a true book from God. It was written through revelation and inspiration from God by ancient prophets. Joseph Smith translated it through the power and authority of God. This testimony of mine comes only from heartfelt reading, pondering, and praying. No person has the right to attack this book without first reading it with a real intent and sincerity, and then asking God if it is true. In fact EVERYONE has the RESPONSIBILITY to do this. No harm will come or ever did come from merely reading a book. But salvation and eternal life in the presence of our Heavenly Father can come by reading this Book. The Book of Mormon shows us the path to returning to our Heavenly Father. It answers every question of the soul. It teaches the Gospel of Jesus Christ: faith, repentance, baptism. the gift of the Holy Ghost, and endurance. It teaches us of our purpose in life and the plan our Heavenly Father has for us. It supports and testifies of the Bible. And most importantly, it testifies that Jesus is the Christ, our Savior and Redeemer. I testify to everyone of you who reads this email that the Book of Mormon is true and you can know this for yourself. In the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Until next week! ¡Hasta Luego!

Elder Buchkovich

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

New Coat

Happy Groundhog's Day


Well not much has happened this week. Just another normal week. Elder Plaskett and I had another fairly good week. We are still having trouble with the other companionship. Luckily the Lord has strengthened me A LOT. I have a lot more paciencia. Whenever they do something to us (and let me tell you this week was full of them causing issues for us) I don´t get angry. When Elder Plaskett gets in an argument with them I just walk away. I don´t yell at them for eating my food, etc. anymore. For example I recently saved up to buy some REAL Heinz ketchup (the ketchup here tastes funny and i had to save up cuz Heinz is expensive here). Elder Da Silva used it without asking, bathing his food in it and using more than double than what I had already used (and i had been using it for about a week). Now I love ketchup (i´m my dad´s son)...but i didn´t loose my temper. I just reminded him that is was mine and expensive, asked him to ask me next time, and walked away. Some would call that being a pushover. I really don´t know. But I´d much rather them eat my food, lie to the members about us, etc. than argue with them. Because when I get angry it only drives the Spirit away from me and effects my ability to teach the Gospel. Thus, I am done arguing. And it is impressive how much peace the Lord had given me, especially helping me not get angry.

In one of the menos activo/part-member families that we are teaching, there is a 5-6 yr old boy who is ADD or ADHD. The first few visits with the family, he was super rowdy and disruptive. He didn´t really like us. Now though he sits still, quietly listening to us. And this past week when we came over, he searched his entire room until he found his Book of Mormon storybook to show us. I think the son´s excitement towards us is having an impact on his nonmember father who isn´t interested in the church, but is slowly warming up to us now.

We have a several new investigators. We met a man this week named, Johan. He used to attend our English class in the past when other elders were here. We helping him learn how to use computer basics, like Microsoft Word. (I´m not really sure if that is allowed...I´ll have to ask President during entrevistas this week). Anyway the catch is that we get to share a spiritual thought. He seems really interested. The are others too but I´m running out of time (i don´t like paying too much here at the locutorio) and I want to tell one more story.

I forgot a story last week from zone conference. During zone conference we read the names of every who got baptized in the mission. Afterwards we shared stories. President Hinckley told us a story about a girl named Johana from Valencia (sound familiar?). Anyway in case you didn´t realize this is the same Johana that Elder Lara and I worked with a lot. President told the story like this (not exact wording and a bit summarized to save time). "In Valencia there is a 17 year old girl who has been attending church for 5 years. Her mom wouldnt give her permission to be baptized. There were a couple of elders in Valencia who worked really hard with her mom and built a close relationship with the family. Finally her mom decided for Christmas she would allow Johana to get baptized. Johana got baptized on a Friday evening. There was a youth temple trip the following day. The youth really wanted Johana to go and Johana really wanted to go. So the Bishop gave me a call asking if she could get confirmed right after the baptism instead on Sunday. I said it was ok. And Johana was baptized, confirmed, had a temple recommend interview with the Bishop, and got to go to the temple the next day." isn´t that an AWESOME story!!!

well i´m out of time. attached is a pic of my new coat. i had to get one that my chappa could fit in. i got it for 70% off for rabajas. it´s from zara!

¡Hasta Luego! Happy Groundhog´s Day!

Elder Buchkovich