Wednesday, May 27, 2009

To Amy

May 26, 2009 I spent my whole time writing Amy and Teresa. I thought you might like to see my response to Amy. You can take out parts of this letter and post it online if you want to. I love you super a lot.

Hola Amy,

Oh moses smell the roses it's so good to hear how you are doing! I'm sorry that you've been making such a huge transition and haven't heard much from your family. I'm a little sad that your p-day is not until Monday. This email is going to sit in your inbox for almost a whole week before you get to read it. I guess it's still faster than mail to Chile.

It sounds like you have had some missionary experiences already. You may not be able to speak Spanish perfectly or understand it perfectly, but you do speak the language of the spirit. And you have already helped people come closer to their Savior through your sincere desire to share the gospel with them.

When I first came to Washington, it was kind of like entering the MTC all over again. The whole homesickness hit me once again. I think that I actually cried more in Washington than I did at the MTC. Just as you've already felt, the pain goes away and you actually feel closer to them than ever before. And if you ever do feel lonely, just remember that Elder Arnold has always prayed for you the night before.

I do know an Elder Quintana. Last transfer he was serving in Longview, which is not too far from Vancouver. He got moved this transfer though and am not sure where he's at right now.

With Spanish I felt exactly the same as you do. I couldn't understand anything that anybody said to me. So don't feel frustrated. Just keep working and do your best everyday. And then with time the ability to understand and speak just comes. A little bit better every day. Think of it this way, you are probably learning Spanish faster than anyone else in the whole world right now. You are speaking everyday, studying hard, and... you have the gift of tongues!

A few tips on building a good relationship with your trainer. It is a pretty stressful job to train a new missionary. You're responsible for them getting a good start to their mission so that they can be effective in the work. I promise your trainer loves you and wants to help you. Something that will help is good communication. Talk to your companion about everything. Talk to her about your family, about things you like and are interested in, talk to her about Spanish, and always ask her about things you don't understand. Be humble and teachable.

Francisco came to church again this last week! He's progressing really well towards baptism. I'm very excited for the weeks to come.

Yesterday we had a bomb day of tracting on bikes. We rode through a park looking for Hispanic people. We started in a really wooded area where the trail was very overgrown and had roots and low hanging branches. A Russian man shouted us down and we taught him in the little English that he knew. We gave him the phone number for the Russian elder in our mission. We continued on through the park and found an LDS family out on a walk. We then spotted a large Hispanic family having a picnic. We parked our bikes and started talking to them. We shared a little message. They decided that they wanted to move over closer to the bathroom. We got to help them move a big heavy cooler. It was actually pretty cool. At least we started planting seeds. Maybe in a few years they'll remember that and choose to listen to some missionaries. After that it came time to leave. We were just about back at our car when we got another opportunity to teach somebody in English. He just kind of started to talk to us and ask us what we did. We stopped and actually had a really good conversation with him. He's a young guy that just lost his job, has a 6-year-old daughter and is homeless. We bought him some chicken in the Fred Meyer and gave him enough money for a bus ticket to get back to his daughter. We explained the story of Jesus at the well and I think he related pretty well to it. We gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon in English. Since he would be on a long bus ride, I'm pretty sure that he'll read some of it. If nothing else we did some bomb seed planting with this guy. By the way, his name is Victor. That sounds like a Spanish name but he's not.

I'm so glad that you've had a chance to see somebody be baptized. It's something that you just can't describe to somebody else. It's something you have to experience yourself.

Amy, I'm so happy for you and glad that you're experiencing what has brought me so much joy.

I love you so much,

Elder Ben Arnold

PS I've been praying extra hard for you lately. If I did it, so can you! Tackle for you little brother. Te quiero muchisimo hermanita

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What kind of flu did Ben have?

Hola familia,

This week has been pretty crazy. I was sick for most of it. I was stuck in bed for two days straight. It was no fun. I don't ever recommend getting sick as a missionary. First Elder Rodriguez was sick, then I and Elder Godinez both got sick from him. Luckily Elder Tracy has escaped the wrath. As a result we really didn't get very much done.

At the beginning of the week we met a new kid named Sebastian. He is a friend of the Abdala family. So it was a member present lesson! We love those kind of lessons. He had lots of questions and we had lots of answers. He's only 16 but he's very intelligent. Something that I thought was awesome: After we had been talking for a while with him he told me that when he came into the room and I said, "hola como estas" he was really confused. Because when he looked at me I was a white kid. But I guess I had a perfect accent. I was so excited. That made me feel like I was on top of the world. And then of course as I already mentioned I was brought really low by my sickness.

Just at the beginning of my sickness there was a Mother's day activity. All of the men cooked and set up a really nice restaurant for the mother's in the gym. It was really amazing. The food was high quality and all the mother's were really impressed. It was run like a fancy restaurant too. No kids or men were allowed in unless they were waiters or escorts or something. The missionaries jobs were to guard the doors from everybody that wasn't a woman and to escort the mother's to their seats. You would've been really impressed. Then to top it off there was a live mariachi band. I don't know how to spell that. There were five Hispanic guys all playing different instruments and singing. The mother's loved it. They all got up and danced and sang along and had a blast. The good news, they loved it so much so we're going to do it for them again in 20 years. Haha. No that was just one of Bro Woodland's jokes.

I haven't heard anymore than you have from Amy. She probably just had a hard time figuring out using the computer. They probably had a lot to do since it was her first p-day as well. She did write a letter. That might just be what the mission president suggested. I don't know. It seems like she's okay and we'll probably hear more from her when everything’s calmed down a little bit next week.

I wrote her a letter this last week but I lost her address so I couldn't wait until today to rewrite it down from my emails. Oh well. It's a bomb letter she'll love it. And it's all in Spanish. She'll get in some extra Spanish study.

That's exciting that school is almost over for you, Matthew and Jonathan. It's also exciting to hear about all the missionary work that you are doing in the ward. Yes that's what I love to hear about!!!

Oh I almost forgot. Transfers. Elder Tracy and I are both staying!!! I love Elder Tracy. And this area is great. Elder Godinez is going to Pasco to be Zone Leader with Elder Waldo. Elder Rodriguez is staying here and training the only Spanish missionary coming out this transfer.

Also just from how things worked out Elder Harris, who is in our district, is in a threesome with us right now. We had a lot of fun doing some spanglish tracting with him yesterday. We actually had a lot of success. We found three new investigators!!!


Elder Ben Arnold

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Beacon Rock

May 12, 2009

Hola familia,

I'm a little slow to emailing today because we had a zone hike this morning (at Beacon Rock). It was great. I got lots of great pictures. I can't wait to send them to you.

I got an awesome letter from Teresa Romero this week! She told me that she really liked church this last week; she didn't tell me why though. She also had a really cool missionary experience. She just got a new job at a warehouse kind of a place. She started talking to a woman a little bit older than her. She doesn't remember how but they got on the topic of religions and Teresa started to tell her about our church. She answered lots of questions that the lady had. And then she invited her to come to church. And the lady was really interested in going. I'm so proud of that girl!

Thank you for telling me about Amy. I'm super excited for her. I know she's going to have a great start to her mission. I'm a little sad that I didn't get to talk to her but I'm glad to hear that she's doing well.

Matthew you're so funny. Falling asleep. Haha. Sorry that I couldn't have called earlier. It was great to hear your laugh again.

Thanks for setting up the skype thing Jonathan. I think it added a lot more to our conversation. I can't wait to get home and do some fun electronics projects with you.

Thanks for sending that information. Now I can get those letters sent out.

Just to answer your other questions: I could hear you really well. I think my microphone was just a little weak.

Love you,

Elder Ben Arnold

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Good-bye, Amy

May 6, 2009
Hola familia,

Happy cinco de Mayo! I didn't email yesterday because our zone had interviews with president. So our p-day got pushed back to today.

I'll answer your questions first mom. I currently have two SD cards. One is a 2GB and I think the one in my camera is the 4GB one. As for that SD card that didn't work, try plugging it into your camera and then hooking it up to the computer with the camera cable. Can you view the pictures on your camera? If that doesn't work you can send it back to me and I'll get it to work for you.

On Sunday I can call whenever I want to. The phones are free on the weekends so I don't need to use a phonecard. By the way I still have that same phone card that you sent me for Christmas. I'm pretty sure it still has quite a few minutes on it. I'll just call you early in the morning at about 8:00 your time and we can set up a time then.

I actually haven't gotten the cinco de mayo package yet. So I'll be looking forward to getting it soon.

This last week has been pretty intense. We met some amazing new investigators.

First, Francisco: Elder Godinez and I were on exchanges. We went tracting into an apartment complex where one of our investigators lives. On about the fifteenth door we knocked on, a man in his late forties answered the door. Elder Godinez began sharing a brief message with us. Part way through Francisco asked us if we'd like to just come inside and talk. Elder Godinez and I looked at each other, our eyes lit up. We got inside and sat down on some white plastic chairs. He began talking to us about how he is going through some hard times right now. He almost immediately began crying. Through tears he began relating to us how he had just lost custody of his little boy. Him and his wife had gotten divorced about 8 or so months ago. And she just left. Then just about a week before we knocked on his door she came back and took their son with her. Francisco was devastated. His son is his whole life. Of course, they went to court over the custody of the child. The court was on the morning that we knocked on his door, so just a few hours previous, in the which he got partial custody. Just on the weekends. Then throughout the rest of the week the young boy stays with the mom. This had destroyed Francisco. He missed his son so much. Much of the night before we came over, he had been reading the bible and praying. Trying to understand why he was going through this. After he calmed down a little bit Elder Godinez and I began sharing some scriptures with him. Mostly from the Book of Mormon and about the life of Christ. Then Francisco said something that I've never heard anybody say before in my entire mission. He said, "That is such a beautiful book. May I have one? How much will it cost?" You could see an eagerness in his eyes. Elder Godinez ran out to the car really quick after the lesson of the restoration and got a Spanish book of Mormon for him.

The story continues...

Elder Tracy and I went back for our return appointment. Elder Tracy was really excited to meet this guy. We sat down with him and began talking to him about the reading assignment that we left with him at our last meeting. He started explaining all of these things to us that just amazed me. It was evident that he had read 3 Nephi 11 and then started from the inside cover of the book. He read all of the witnesses and testimonies of the book. Then read the introduction and everything else that is found at the front of the Book of Mormon. He also managed to read all the way up to 1 Nephi 15. He told us about Lehi and his family. And about Nephi and Laman and Lemuel. I cannot begin to describe how strongly the spirit resided in that room for that short lesson.

Since then we have also had a chance to meet his son and teach him a little bit more.

This is just one of so many people that we have found this last week. I wish I had time to tell you about them all. There's definitely one principle that I've been taught over and over on my mission. The more obedient you are as a missionary to the rules and commandments, the more the Lord trusts you and guides you to those who are prepared.

Amy leaves the MTC in 5 days! The time has gone by so fast. It seems like just yesterday that she went in. I've met a lot of people lately that have connections to Chile. Every time that happens I always get excited and tell them, "Hey, guess what? My sister is going to Chile in 5 days! Isn't that so cool!!!"

I enjoyed hearing about the scuba shop set up in our garage. It'll be fun to use when I get home. I've met a lot of people that I want to go backpacking with when I get home too. So we'll always have friends to go with on any of our trips. Just thought you'd like to know.

Congratulations on tennis Matthew and Jonathan. It sounds like you're both getting better and better every day. What are you going to do next year when coach leaves? I think that'll probably be pretty weird. Hopefully you get a coach as good as him.

I've been using my pull-up bar a lot lately. You'll have to practice to catch up to me, Matthew. Yesterday I did three sets of ten right in a row. And then I'll sometimes do two or three pull-ups on each of the six grips without taking a break. How many can you do, Jonathan?

I love you family, Have a super wonderful week!

Elder Ben Arnold