Monday, December 28, 2015

It's all good here.

¡Buenos días y felices fiestas a ustedes! ¿Cómo estan?

Well, things have happened here, as I am sure things have happened. I'll write about some of my favorite occurrences of the last little bit, I forgot to bring my journal so I'll try to write them as well as I can=)

Firstly, like a week or so ago I completed six months in the mission! Yay!! Wow, I am going to sound cliche and all but it has gone by really fast. It's so satisfying to see the growth I have made in such a short amount of time, and I am eager to keep up the work. For you frequent readers, you will know that Élder Holtry and I arrived at the same time and were MTC buddies, so naturally he completed 6 months as well, and to celebrate we each burned a tie (don't get offended please Shelbie but I burned the tie from prom... it was just getting so dirty so easily). 

We finished up all of our Christmas concerts and now I am actually kind of sad to be done! It took up a lot of time, but I like to think that it could have helped some people feel the spirit and strengthen their journey to conversion as our choir shared our talents and layed down powerful testimony of our beliefs. I think it is on the Bueunos Aires North Facebook page if you want to hear some of the songs and also on YouTube, just search Buenos Aires Norte coro de navidad or something like that and I'm sure you'll find it. We gave our last concert during our mission Christmas activity and I finally got to sing my solo in Santa la noche (O Holy Night), so I was especially pleased. I also help out in another special musical number at the activity and we sang this song called ''He's Born'' I think Vocal Point has done it as well. I JUST LOVE MUSIC AND SINGING, GUYS. It's some of the things I miss the most here. I mean I do it anyways, but it's just not the same. And now that the choir is over it's back to everyday normal life in the mission field.

Christmas Eve we had our mission Christmas activity, which was great. It's so fun to see old friends that I have made and to talk with them again. We got to watch the Christmas Devotional (and choir stuff by us in between the talks) and ate hamburgers (Dad yours are still numero uno), and after lunch we did a white elephant in which I won Pringles and a back massager which is affectionately called Bug (pronounced Boog), and then we got to talk with Presiente Ayres and Hermana Ayres and receive our 'facebook', which is a pamphlet of all the missionaries currently serving in Bs As Norte and their names. My good friend Élder Parraguez brought his selfie stick and we were taking lots of pictures during the whole day, and I even snagged one with the Ayres=) 

Christmas day was  special to be sure. It was our Pday and it started off with my studies. During personal study I turned on some EFY 2014 songs to give me some nice background noise, and I as I pressed play to one of the songs and it began to play I was hit with some pretty dang strong nostalgia. I played this album almost every time I went to the temple this last year at home. I got thinking about how I was back then and all the things that were on in my life and my worries, and then about the change that I have seen in myself here in the mission (newsflash, you change a lot in the mission), and I was overcome with such a peace and a gratitude for this Gospel and it's influence in my life. I can't write down all the blessings I have received from this understanding and this belief that there is truly more to this life than existing. So, so much more. And then some other elders came over and we played Uno and chilled until the afternoon when I got to talk with my family (even Holden in Japan a little bit!), and it was just a good day. Good good goood.

That's some of the highlights of this week. The work goes on hard and stressful, but what happiness I have to believe and to feel and to testify that there is a God who loves me and helps me, who knows of my imperfections and forgives me when I mess up. I sit here content with this understanding. 

Sending out positive vibes to you all. Shoutout to my big brother Holden who turns 21 today and to Kelsey and Rees who are tying the knot this week. I wish I could be there with you guys!

Everyone, take a quick moment and think about life. And then think about Christ. How can you make these two things more complimentary in your day-to-day dealings? I promise that as we chose to follow Christ, he will bless us in the most wonderful ways. 

See you all soon enough!
Élder Hardcastle

6 months, bug, and selfies with the Ayres=)

Monday, December 14, 2015

Howdy Gang

thanks Mom and Dad for the jazzy Christmas Tree Advent Calendar!

Élder Holtry and I getting some morning bulk on with some creatine we have in the apartment

 Élder Parraguez and I 

the dirty deed

Monday, December 7, 2015

The bus story and MORE!

Hello hello hello. 

One week DOWN. Five more to go this transfer. 

Well well well it has been a week. WE FINALLY FOUND SOME PEOPLE! So that is nice. Lamentably we didn't have lessons with them this week, but we have one scheduled for tomorrow and one person we are going to call and one person we'll pass by his house to see if he's home, and then we'll have a lesson with him=) he scheduled to meet him this last week but he was at medical so we'll try once more and if he's not there, we'll drop him. THE SECRET IS TESTIFYING, I know it probably sounds basic, but it's the key. This last transfer I was kind of scared to testify... well I would try to contact and then they'd tell me they're Catholic or something and I'd be like ''Oh, great!... and lose everything in my brain. I made an effort to testify one day with all my contacts, and while I wasn't able to do it with all I did it with the majority and I just felt so much better. Now I just have to find members to accompany us and I'll be a testifying machine. I say a member because the vision is that we incorporate the members and the missionary work. We have been told that the miracles of the mission lie with the members, and so they really stress lessons with members, referrals, and having members accompany you while you are working. Thus, it's kinda of hard to motivate myself to contact if we don't have a member, because I don't want to waste time with people who really aren't ready for the gospel. It's a mental tug-of-war that never ends it seems, because there is only one member (50 or 60 years old hermana) that is really active in helping us, and she is amazing, but we need more. 

Fun story of the week. We spend a lot of our time looking for less actives. We have a pretty large list and we look for them and stuff. Our branch has about 30 active members and 200 less active families... or so it says on the list. Most of them have died or moved! Anywho, we were looking for one less active this week and his address number didn't even exist. So I went to a house that was close to his number and decided to ask if they knew this person. A woman came and we started to talk with her about this person but them later changed to the Gospel, because, you know, I'm a testifier now=) and it was super great. She goes to a church in the capital (that's like 2 hours away, wow) and we start talking about our church and we gave her a quick version of the lesson of the Restoration and we talked about the Book of Mormon. As we were going over the introduction and talking about Christ, we got talking about when Christ came to the Americas and she was like ''Christ came to the Americas?'' with this look of utter shock, and we were like '' Yes, He did!'' and she said ''Ohh... I didn't know!'' and she looked so content. We have a meeting with her tomorrow, POR FAVOR pray that all goes well tomorrow. That was probably my favorite finding experience so far in the mission and she could be someone who is ready and willing to listen to our message.

Now for the fun bus story of last week, slightly less spiritual but nice none the less. =) Actually, it was more than a week ago (Nov. 27 to be precise) but ya fue. We were on our way to choir practice on a rather rainy Friday morning. In order to arrive in San Fernando where we have the Mission Office and choir practice. We left the apartment at around 6:55am and needed to get to San Fernando at 8:30. Like I said before, you need about two hours to get to the Capital, and San Fernando is just outside the Capital, so we usually plan our trip to be an hour and a half. So we were going to be cutting it close. Anyways, we leave the apartment and it is raining. Flooding, better said. We get to the bus stop and the bus comes pretty quickly. Usually the bus is pretty busy, but I think because of the rain nobody wanted to go anywhere, and it was empty and the bus driver let us on for FREE! Which was a small miracle because I was running short on my Sube card (public transit card) so we sat down pretty dang happy. Were on on our way, and the bus is cruising, I think most the cars were going pretty cautiously because of all the rain, and there wasn't much traffic because, well, rain (did I mention it was raining?) but Mr. Busman was driving as if there wasn't any problem. Literally water was flying up the sides of the bus. We landed in San Fernando just after 8am. Almost less than one hour for a trip that is usually an hour and a half or more! We had time to kill so we went to this bakery I really like called Bruno's and I bought facturas with some of the money I was going to use to fill up my Sube. There was this little peach one that I think is one of the best things I've eaten here yet (Mom and Dad, when we come back one day I am taking you here and you will try them. Sooooo good). So, it was a good day. =) God is good.

That's some of the biggest excitement I've had these last few weeks! We began our choir performances, so if you are in the River Plate area, come on down and watch us! 
Thank you all for the support. Happy Holidays from Buenos Aires! See you all soon enough. =)


Élder Hardcastle

Elder Parraguez has a selfie stick... =)
Today we played volleyball and soccer.

La Zona Sarmiento, traslado uno

Elder Cunningham and I at his despedida.

It was raining really hard one day so we went to the house of a member.  He ended up giving me some pretty jazzy rain wear.  I felt like Sherlock Holmes or something.


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Los Polvorines take DOS

Greetings all! 

Transfers came and went, y me quedo en Los Polvorines (that mean I'm staying my area) with Elder Molina. It has been a bit of a struggle this last transfer, and with lots of prayers I am settled that God wants to stretch me a little (or a lot, we'll see) so I can become better. This is my new moment of growth in the mission and I need to step it into high gear, get out of my comfort zone a little bit more and make some changes in Los Polvorines, so stay tuned!

Elder Santos left the apartment and now we have Elder Holtry, and for all you dedicated readers, he was in my district in the MTC! Así que, vamos a divertirnos este traslado=)

I was going to share my fun bus story from this week, but I am running short on time, so I'll save it for next week okay? Also I brought the wrong SD card to the cyber cafe so no new photos =(  oops. Don't hate me, okay?

Sending positive vibes to you this holiday season,

Élder Hardcastle