Monday, March 28, 2011

General conference... this week already?


This weekend is General Conference! Can you believe it!? The time is just FLYING by. Of the 4 General Conferences taking place during my mission, this weekend is already the 2nd! I honestly cannot believe that 6 months have past since the last General Conference. This means very soon I will have been in Spain for 6 months! Transfers have become a regular unit of time for me. haha. The only problem is that they are too short! I could possibly be leaving Lleida next week! I don´t want to! It still feels like I just got here and I love the people so much. I am not ready to leave. I feel like I have unfinished business here. Also it doesn´t feel like Elder Shields and I have been together long enough. We work so well together; we need more than one transfer together. I am probably just nervous for nothing. The pattern I have noticed about Lleida is that most elders spend 4 transfers here. I have only spent 3. Plus I spent so little time in Valencia, I don´t think president will move me yet. But we´ll see. This transfer will be interesting. There are a TON of missionaries leaving and I believe there aren´t any coming in.

Again I apologize for not sharing more missionary experiences. Miracles and feeling the Spirit have just become an everyday part of life. Thus, I don´t feel the need to share them constantly. But here are a few.
We are working with a Spaniard named Ismael. Various companionships have been in contact off and on with him since 2006. He is super evangelical and likes to argue. Since we started working with him in late January, he has been kind to us, but still likes to argue but in a nice way. Yesterday was the first time he actually just quietly listened to us. The Spirit was so thick you could cut it! Planning for the cita we weren´t sure what to teach him. But that morning I said a prayer asking for inspiration on what to teach. Going into the cita I felt impressed to talk about faith and Alma 32. At the beginning he tried to "catch" us with a Bible verse. But when it supported what Alma was saying, he became quiet. He answered questions when we asked him, but generally he just listened.

One of my favorite things about Valencia was how people contacted us! They would walk up to us and ask for a Book of Mormon or ask to meet with us, etc. That has happened a few times here in Lleida. Now that Elder Shields and I are together, it has been happening more than usual. We must just be easy to approach. Last week we had several people approach us. One in particular was a lady from Brazil, named Lucia. She had a Book of Mormon in Brasil but accidentally left it there, and she also knew a little about the Church. She moved to Spain 6 or 7 years ago and has seen the missionaries several times. Finally last week when she saw us she felt (the Holy Ghost, quizas? sí!) like she should talk to us this time. We had a really good cita with her, but unfortunately we had to hand her over to the other elders. In fact, all of the golden investigators that have contacted us have lived in the other elders´ area. I think God is trying to teach Elder Shields and me a lesson on being self-less. We should be happy for these people´s salvation, not upset that we don´t get to baptize them personally.

Well I´m out of time for today. If I want to get a napolitana today, I need to get off the computer now before my bill gets to high.


Elder Buchkovich

Friday, March 25, 2011

Happy (Belated) St. Patrick's Day


This week was Zone Conference. As usual it was amazing! We focused on leveraging the power of members in missionary work. THIS WAS SUPER HELPFUL! The members in Lleida do not help out very much. Thus the work has not been progressing much; it is statistically proven that more member references are baptized and remain active members than street contacts. We learned a ton that will hopefully help us increase the animo of the members here and help the work catch fire. At one point during the conference, Hermana Hinckley took the sisters out for a special lesson and President Hinckley taught the elders a special lesson. I´m not sure if the sisters actually got a lesson or if they just helped Hna Hinckley prepare for lunch. But on the other hand President Hinckley gave us a warning lesson on what happens in Spain during the summer. He started out by saying, "In a few days this rain will stop and the sun will come out." He turned to one of our zone leaders, Elder Jimenez, who is a native to Spain and asked,"What happens after that?" Elder Jimenez responded, saying, "The girls go crazy!!" Then President spent 15 or so minutes giving us advice on how to keep virtuous and chaste thoughts while there are so many "distractions" around.

Back in February Elder Plaskett and I worked with the Bishopric to plan a special Sunday where all the talks and lessons are simple doctrine aimed at investigators. This way members could feel more comfortable bringing friends and us missionaries could bring more people to church by using the Special Sunday as an excuse for people to come. The Bishopric at the time didn´t give us a specific date. We only knew that it would be the 20 or 28th of March. To be honest I kind of forgot about it until last Sunday. The Bishopric nor us advertised it. Last Sunday (the 13th) a lot of the talks seemed focused on the Restoration and the nature of God- simple doctrinal topics. This reminded me of the special Sunday. I was too embarrassed to ask the Bishopric if that was it so I just assumed that we had forgotten and it was too late. Well Saturday evening the Second Councilor came up to us to see if we were planning on during anything during Sacrament Meeting for the Special Sunday. Elder Hughes on the spot offered to do a special musical number. This was bad for two reasons. A. I can´t sing and we had no time to prepare. B. This means that we hadn´t already had the special sunday. It was the next day and we had not advertised it at all. Needless to say we made a lot of phone calls that night trying to get people to come to church and to bring people to church. We actually had quite a few nonmembers come, but not near as many as I would have hoped. Also the musical number turned out well. Josh accompanied us on the piano as we sang the first two verses of "Llamados a Servir" and we invited the congregation to sing the 4th verse with us. It was really nice. Unfortunately all of our adult investigators had to leave after sacrament meeting. The remaining nonmembers and investigators were youth and primary age. Thus we had nobody for gospel principles class. One member didn´t approve of this. He assumed that since nobody was at class that nobody had come to sacrament. And he chewed us out. It was really annoying because if he wants fijo investigators, he should help us out with references!!!!! At the end of his scolding of us he did offer to help us in citas on weekends, so that made it a little less annoying and discouraging. We ended up going to Gospel Doctrines class, which was a nice change.

Currently Elder Shields and I are teaching several part member families. We feel pretty good about them and hope to have some baptisms soon. We are still teaching a couple Africans. One of them is a nice lady named Charlotte. She is nice, but a bit loca! Elder Parrish came on intercambios with me. During the lesson his lips got dry so he licked them a tiny bit. Charlotte freaked out and grabbed his tongue, telling him that we are not animals. It was hilarious!!! When we got home for medio dia he immediately brushed his teeth. haha!

Well I suppose that is all for today. ¡Hasta luego! Happy Belated St. Patrick´s Day!

Elder Buchkovich

Monday, March 14, 2011

Pics Of Pirineos from Bus

Few More

pics of caviar

More Pirineos

French Border Pictures

The Rain In Spain


Well aside from our French border trip, nothing really happened this week. Just another regular week in the mission. In fact the most exciting thing that happened is that it rained a lot more than usual.....which actually gets quite annoying when you have to walk all day long! haha. We do have some new Dominican investigators who love baseball, so it will be fun to talk baseball with them once the season starts (uh...i mean it will be fun to use baseball as an anology for teaching lesson.....or uh baseball will be a great way to bond and build a good relationship with them). haha. Another cool thing is that we did meet a girl from Algeria. I have met so many people from around the world. It´s great!!!!

Oh I did foget something in last week´s letter. That first week in March was actually Carneval. Last Saturday (March 5 i believe) EVERYONE was out in costumes and at parties. All four of us elders were helping out at a service project that night so we walked home together. As we walked home we passed several large crowds of people. Everyone thought that we were dressed up as Mormon missionaries and not actually Mormon missionaries. Elder Hughes played it up and pulled up his pants and tried to look as ridiculous and nerdy as he could. It was hilarious!

Well nothing really worth reporting happened. We are trying to spread the good word, while still having some fun....maybe too much´t worry we are behaving; we all just get along super well! Well I promise to have more stories to tell next week. There is zone conference this week and I plan on going out there and finding some miracle stories this week!

Keep the faith. ¡Hasta luego!

Elder Buchkovich

Monday, March 7, 2011

Bonjour Mes Amis!


Today was by FAR the BEST Pday ever!!!!! I have known for quite a while that our area goes all the way up to the French border. However Elder Shields and Elder Hughes are new to Lleida and did not know that. When they found out that the border was in our area that got super excited (just like me when I first found out). Thus we took some action. Last week got a map of Catalunya and found the closest pueblo to the French border that we could find that was still in our area. So then last Thursday we bought bus tickets to Les, Spain. We left Lleida this morning at 9:30 and arrived in Les at about 12:45. The drive was wonderful! Los Pirineos son muy bonitos! Gorgeous! We took hundreds of pictures! We drove along this river for most the time. There were dams, reservoirs, rapids, etc. We went through a ton of tunnels. And they weren´t like tunnels in the US; they were holes carved through the rock without cement. Only the longer tunnels were made with cement like the US. One of those longer tunnels was 5 km long! The mountains and pueblos were beautiful.

Les is located 5 km from the border. Thus bus stopped at Les, so we had to walk the remaining 5 km to the border. It was a bit scary because we had to walk along a winding, rural road. But, we survived. The weather was wonderful too. We thought it would be super cold. But it was sunny and about 15 or so degrees celsius. We were actually sweating a lot! At the border we took a bunch of pictures by the France and España signs. Don´t worry we never fully crossed into France; we only ever put one foot in France. (at least we think so. we aren´t completely sure where the actually border line was. we only had the signs.) After the pictures we walked back to Les.

Les is very small. We had difficulty finding a place to eat because everything was closed for medio dia. I don´t see the logic there because medio dia is when people eat, so shouldn´t restaurants be open? Anyway we ended up eating at some small bar/restaurant. (my second time doing that in spain). They only served appetizer type food. Sooo...i tried snail. It wasn´t bad! I liked it. My only gripe is that it takes too much work to eat. I´m too lazy to pull the snail out of the shell all the time. I prefer food that is ready to stick in my mouth. Apparently caviar from the Pyrenees is world famous. So we went to a market to buy some. It was super expensive. But, we told the lady we were missionaries, flattered her a little and got it for cheaper. We all pitched in for one thing of cavier. So we´ll only get a bite each. I hope it is worth it. (we didn´t have time to eat it in Les). So that was a quick summary of our Pday today.

This week was another good week. We got off to a slow start. Elder Shields had some crazy allergic reaction Tuesday when we were helping someone move. His eye got super pufffy and red. It was really painful and wouldn´t go down with benedryl. thus we ended up having a zero lesson that day. by wednesday his eye was better and we got to work. Lleida A´s 20 lesson streak is now at 5 weeks! Apparently more and more missionaries around the mission are having the same success. It´s amazing what a little change in attitude and obedience can do to an entire mission. We are so lucky to have President Hinckley to teach us and inspire us!

Well I suppose that will suffice for this week. Au revoir!
¡Hasta luego!

Elder Buchkovich

Thursday, March 3, 2011

More Pictures

Youngest Companionship


This week was another awesome week. The 20+ lesson streak has continued for the 4th week. It is becoming a norm for me! 20 lessons used to seem so it is just expected. We need to keep pushing for more. Elder Shields and I are the youngest companionship. We really want prove to President that he can trust us eventhough we are young. The funny thing about this week is that it doesn´t feel like it was a great week. But in reality it was pretty good. The only disappointing thing is church attendance, which is really important.

We had to postpone Jude´s baptismal date because he hasn´t come to church. However, we did set a new fecha con Best. Best is also Nigerian. He lives in the same piso as Jude. Best is great! He is really excited to have the gospel bless him and his family. He has never been baptised and really wants to experience this spiritual experience. When we first gave him the Book of Mormon, he said that he was going to read it and then have a dream about how to make money for his family. We kind of just smiled at him, not knowing what to say. But the next cita we showed him where the Book of Mormon promises that if you are righteous you will prosper. We promised him blessings for him and his family as he accepts the Gospel in his life. We have several other African families that we are teaching and who seem very open to the message of the Restored Gospel.

So this week was Carnaval, a holiday that I believe originated in France. It is like Halloween. It was really weird because everyone dresses up in costumes. The ward had a party. It felt like October, not February!

I got a haircut last week. I went to a Chinese barbershop/salon. I don´t know if I´ll ever trust a Chinese person with my hair again. It´s not too bad, but there are too many random long strands left uncut for my liking. On the plus side, it was super cheap!

Well there really isn´t too much to tell. It was a great week. The elders here are awesome! Things are wonderful!

¡Hasta luego!

Elder Buchkovich