31 May 2010

Music in the Streets and Tracking

Hello Family!

Happy Belated Birthday McKenna!

Wow has it already been 3 weeks? It feels like it was pday yesterday but at the same time it feels like this week was the longest week of my life. I'll explain later in the email how it went hah.

This week has been a very interesting week. It's hard to remember everything that has happened during the week but here it goes.  The most important thing is we confirmed Elizabeth this week and she is so strong and loves us. She calls me her son, hah. She feeds us like we are dying and I love it because we don't get a lot of chances to eat but the relief society feeds us everyday. I'm loving the food, especially the dulces.   Back to Elizabeth, her one daughter is ready to be baptized too, and we are working on the 20 year old daughter right now who is interested but still wants to sleep instead of go to church in the morning. Their family is soo rad and we love going to teach them and just being with them. Hopefully we can get the whole family baptized!!

Elder Gneiting and Elder Shepherd
District Meeting
I saw Reese again this week at district meeting and I'll see him tomorrow too! So I'm getting my final Reese spottings in before he leaves. Feels weird and cool at the same time because he is leaving and I have just begun!!!  Some days this week have been really hard. For example this Friday I was about to die in the road because we just walk and walk and it's pouring rain and you pretty much are soaked and muddy.  My companion is a cool guy and he´s really good at teaching.    I´m glad he is my companion. I'm learning patience and perserverance. Well, in the pench we have 4 elders living together.   One elder is from Hawaii (Elder Kupihea) and we totally hit it off.  At the end of the day we can talk to each other.  This past week has been awesome. We have seen miracles too.  A girl that is ready to be baptized got into a fight with her father who was drunk and he told her she couldn't get baptized.  A week later we stopped by her house and she said she has permission to get baptized now!  It's awesome. The ward members are so awesome. The ward is small though, about 45 people attend on average but they are so cool. Everyone loves my ties hah. I´m getting to know the members better because I'm not that first day elder that doesn't know any Spanish anymore. They love me hah.

Sunday and Saturday nights are awesome for tracking because the main street is alive! Music playing everywhere and the flea market is there too so everyone is out. We only pass by there like for 5 minutes because it's on the way to some houses but it is awesome to hear music from here, Bolivian, etc. Oh yeah a lot of people play Rugby here and the usual soccer. I´m ready for the World Cup. Some members always try to talk to me about Soccer but I only know so much and especially in spanish hah. Flags are out everywhere! We usually walk but it's fun to take the collectivo(bus) around town. Its funny hearing some english music. I´ve heard Bob Marley too. That was a good day haha.

Well even if the days are long and hard. I love being here. Feels normal now but at the same time it's super hard. Everyday is a challenge but you just work through it and keep going. You find miracles everywhere. Every time we teach people it's amazing to testify. We have so many people we are teaching and I know I have forgotten to write about them in this email.  We are teaching many people but most of them fall through because they don't commit  to anything. But we are trying everyday. Next email I'll make sure to take notes every night to have better emails.

Here's a picture of Elder Gneiting and the Elders in my pench.  Elder Gneiting spent two nights with us!  

Here are answers to some of the questions you asked me last night:
Q. What are your plans for P-Day?  A. We went to walmart this morning, cleaned the pench and right now emailing. Next we are getting some food and going to sleep till we have to go back to work!
Q. Do you go shopping for food for the week?  A. Yeah we are going right after this.
Q. How often do you cook for yourself? A. We usually never cook unless its right after we get home and are hungry.
Q. How are your clothes and shoes holding up? A. My shoes are fine and everything else is holding up!
Q. Do you need anything? A. Not at the moment.

Tell Ragie I got her dearelder letter and I´ll write back soon, but it takes years to get back to the States!

Love you all and talk to you next week.

Love you guys,

Elder Shepherd

24 May 2010

Rain Rain Rain and a Wave

Hey family, how is it going in the states?  Life sounds really exciting and I love hearing about what is going on. I have some great news. I saw Reese at zone conference this week and that was super awesome. He went on transfers last week after conference and I actually got to track with him for an hour on the way home. It was really awesome to do missionary work with him. It's crazy to think two guys from Vegas were able to track together in Argentina. We eventually came back to the house and he spent the night. I updated him on what has gone on in the world of Summerlin, but not too much, he still has a couple of more weeks. I´m super jealous that he gets to go to the beach though.  Tell Cage congratulations for me, that is so cool and crazy he is graduated from college, especially from Berkeley! Seems like yesterday he was starting his first semester. Time really does fly.  Please let him know I'm proud of him, 4,000 miles away...haha.  Matt P. got his mission call? Awesome, spanish speaking too! The Phillips brothers are taking over the east coast! hah, give him a congrats from me too.  Ah tell McKenna I'm proud of her and great job keeping the Great American Award tradition going. Seems like yesterday she was practicing the states.
Alright now to the mission stuff...
Well this week was still an adjustment period. You still feel like your just following your companion and just walking all day but I´m adjusting now and things feel better. The first two weeks are really the hardest ones. I've never gone through something like that before but I am glad that I did. I've learned you just have to go through it. The best news is, we had a baptism this week! We baptized a single mom this Sunday and it was amazing. She bore her testimony on how much the gospel has brought peace to her life and it was really spiritual. I can't believe I had a baptism in my first two weeks. Their family is so cool and the daughter (19) is coming to church and hopefully we can baptize the whole family. We had pizza with them last night and it's awesome to just be with their family.
The members are opening up to me, I still feel like I´m out of place with my limited spanish.  But the ward feels like home now and it's always great to see them at church and especially the kids. They always come up and shake my hand and call me Elder Chefard. There is a return missionary in the ward and he barely knows english but he talks to me a bit and says "I know how you feel these first couple of weeks. Going to church is one of the highlights of your week oh and especially Pday". Today is so nice and relaxing. Apparently it's Argentina's 200th anniversary celebration.  Everyone will go crazy tonight and tomorrow so it's going to be a hard start to the week. We met a guy who was a ex-boxer from Argentina and he had to show us pictures of his glory days and how he met Don King. Hah it was really funny. 
Well I can't believe it has been two weeks. The work here is hard, really hard but you get used to it. I´m doing more everyday and getting into the flow. You are dead tired at the end of the day and just want to crash. I´m lucky I have an American elder in the pench because we can actually relate and talk. It´s a really nice comfort to have someone with your same style and personality to come home to after a long day with your companion hah.  Yesterday was the craziest day of my mission probably.  We had our baptism!  Then afterwards we went home and got some food and it started to rain so we put on our rain gear. Next thing you know it we are out tracking and it's pouring rain. Like flash flood Vegas style. In our part of the zone it's a valley so all the rain ends up there.  So basically all night we were trudging in water up to our waist.  I actually had some fun, reminded me of being at the beach somehow so I took it as an adventure. We actually had found some people to teach and to talk to and met our goals for contacting even when every Argentine seems to think rain will kill them. Oh I was walking on the side walk and totally got drenched by a passing bus. Like a 10 foot wave of water totally killed me. I was almost swept off my feet hah. It´s funny to look back on now, but at the time I was soo mad.
Well the work is going well, we are working really hard and the people here are nice enough to listen but most of them say ¨otra dia.. or ocupdo but we do teach a lot and have active investigators. It´s hard to see people though reject the message but I know we tried. Time is still going slow but fast at the same time. It's hard not to get distracted but I´m ready to lose myself in the work. You always think about what you will be in two years and how the outcome will be but you always have to go through everyday to reach that lasting goal. The mission is hard, really hard. Everyday feels like a week and you get down but you just keep going and somehow the day turns around because of one person or the time you spend back at the pench
Love you all and I´ll talk to you next week.
Elder Shepherd

17 May 2010

Buenos Aires Temple Trip

So here I am in Argentina. It was great hearing from you guys in the email and everything but it will be hard to answer all the questions and stuff you wrote hah but I will try...

Yeah my companion is able to speak english fairly well and we are able to communicate in english when we need to talk in english.  We contacted 155 people on the streets this week, and taught 30 lessons, brought 2 people to church and have 18 new investigators.  I´m helping with the lessons but I am able to do only so much for now but I´m bearing my testimony, talking with the members, and teaching part of the lessons. The ward is about 50 people and has a small town feel to it.  They don't  have a piano. The ward members are really cool but I can't really communicate with them.  Villa Celina is the area I am working in right now. It's one of the poorest areas in the mission boundaries.

My keyboard is weird so ill not waste time trying to capitalize stuff because the shift key is like smaller than a spec hah. well the first week is pretty crazy. a lot of things to get adjusted to, the MTC is a piece of cake compared to the field, but you experience the real fruit in the field. I have so much to say its hard to put it into words in an email but ill give it a shot.

The bus ride to the temple to meet up with the rest of the missionaries that came to serve in Argentina was pretty tight.  The bus driver had the radio on and Oasis Wonderwall played over the radio and some other American songs.  Hah, nice start, right?

So the first day was the biggest life changing experience ever. You are like, what did i get myself into? because you can´t understand anyone and you just follow and you don't know anything!!. First day was a killer because we walked, walked, walked so much... like Disneyland x 100. It was pretty hard for me because the transition hit me pretty hard.  Sometime during the beginning of the week I had enough and just wanted to give up but I kept going and at the end of the day, dead tired, I saw how well the day went.  There were some times though where I just went into the bathroom and just broke down.

But the week went on and slowly I have gotten used to it. The members are super cool and especially the kids. The kids here are so cute and awesome and they love me haha. The relief society president's daughter is 4 and she is like my best friend. When we walk home from church she always holds my hand.  In church I had to introduce myself in front of the ward and I did pretty well and said what I had to say and when I went to sit back down she came over and said hi and gave me a kiss on the cheek!. The ward is nothing like back home but the people make it what it is. But we had two investigators come to church this week and they are really interested. One has a baptism date set for the 23rd of this month and her name is Elizabeth and has already gained a strong testimony of the church. She's about 50 and has 3 kids. She is the only one that comes to church out of her family but we visit every other night and give lessons and make sure she is doing alright. Then one 14 year old girl came to church and is interested in being baptized, so we are soo stoked about that. So church was great this week. I love how where ever you go, church feels like home.

The people here are different. There are a lot of Bolivians and Paraguayans. So sometimes when I try to contact people they don't understand me and that's the reason hah. I´ve gotten pretty good at talking to people on the street and asking to come teach them in their house about their family. We usually eat everyday at a member's house and they give you so much! They don't have much but they love to feed you. The bishop's family is considered well off in this area (it´s a poor area so well off is nothing compared to our lifestyle back home) and other members are alright too. The church is far away so it's hard for people to come to church. There is a spot called the Villa which is the "ghetto" in this area. It's like nothing you have seen. People live in cement buildings like the size of our closet and they have a lot of kids and it is really hard to see people live dirt dirt dirt poor. I ate with a family that had just a tarp and a couple of plates. Chickens were running around too. So be grateful for everything you have. Even the cement sidewalks, streets and everything. Everything.

There are dogs everywhere, and I mean everywhere. Dogs on roofs, streets, etc. They run the town and they are soo homeless too but I get a good laugh out of dogs here because they remind me of Ollie Moments and how dogs seem to make me and dad laugh every time we see them. The food is really good, I love it. The lifestyle and culture is different here too. People think 50 degrees is really cold so they always ask me if I am freezing but I'm not hah. And no one can pronounce my name too haha.

lol. But somehow they said they seem to know me from somewhere.  I really want to work hard and baptize them.

Ahh there is so much to say in just the first week but I´m trying to tell everything in the short hour I have here at the internet cafe while typing away and having American music play in the background hah.

My companion is Chilean and he is 22. You really get to know your companion well and wow these first couple of days have tested my patience to the max. I mean the max. He is a robot and more obedient than the Mission President I think. He does stuff that would make me appreciate anything my wife will do in the future hah. But he is a good elder and knows the gospel super well and we have a good time.  It was hard to adjust to him but I´m adjusted now

We have another companionship in our ¨pench¨ the crib and they are super cool. One if from Hawaii and we totally hit it off and have the same personality, and the other is Chilean too. The shower is sooo tiny!  The bathroom you can barely stand in. So be grateful for a nice bathroom and water that is hot. Not constant hot water. It is hot for like 3 minutes then goes ice cold and you have to deal with it. We have to pull a McGyver and fool around with the sink in the bathroom too.

Wow, it´s hard to type everything. This first week has been the biggest change in my life. The hardest week but at the same time a week to really be grateful for what you have and the experiences I have already felt. I will have to send some pictures next time but I don't want to carry my camera around because I'll get robbed. We have had some close calls but you just have to be smart but the Villa is really dangerous.

Pday was sweet today. We got up, cleaned the pench (the place we live in) and then went to Walmart. We took the bus and then walked about 2 miles to get there. The Walmart is sooo different. It´s like a mall inside a Walmart, with kiosks and clothing stores. Then there is the actual Walmart.   After the Walmart experience we came back to the Villa, got our hair cut and bought some food. Now I´m here emailing you guys.

Pres Benton is awesome and is soo enthusiastic and Sis Benton is really humble and super momish. I get to see them tomorrow at Zone Conference along with Reese. So tomorrow is going to be sweet. I´ll get a picture for sure.

Will you tell Cage to update my facebook with the dear elder info that is for Argentina?

Alright that is all I can think about now but just living in another country is crazy. The lifestyle and everything. I´m getting used to it though but this first week was hard but I´m doing better now and I´m adjusted. Just be grateful for everything you have and I love you guys so much. Miss you every second and you guys are in my prayers. Have fun back home and I miss you guys and love you.

Tell McKenna great job on the Great American Award and keep working hard and that I love her.

Love, Your Son and Older Brother
Elder Shepherd

11 May 2010

First Week in Argentina Buenos Aires West Mission

Como estan? (this keyboard is "Spanishized"!)

I am here in Argentina and wow, what can I say?... that it is pretty crazy. I can´t even explain it.  Right now I am at a small internet cafe for 10 minutes to let you guys know I am safe and sound.  I've already had 2 contacts and they were pretty nice, but like most people don't want to hear "el evangelio pero esta bien".  Rejected on the first try (haha), not so lucky this time. Wow! Argentina is amazing.  I can´t believe I am here. I'm in the same zone as Elder Gneiting and President Benton said Reese is one of the finest missionaries he has seen and that he has high expectations for me.  Hopefully I will see a lot of Elder Gneiting.  President and Sister Benton are truly awesome people and they are super tight and loving.  It's amazing how much he loves you and it is only the first day.  Be grateful for everything you have in Las Vegas and in America. I´ve already seen some pretty rough areas that look worse than downtown Vegas and east LA.  It's pretty sad but that is why I am here, right? To change lives. Tonight we are meeting the Obispo (Bishop) and the Relief Society president and some members.  I give my first leccion tonight too. It's so crazy... I am surrounded by espanol hah.  I love how the keyboard has the proper espanol punctuation.   I'm at a loss for words.  It's real now.  I can´t believe I am here but I feel comfortable here too, even if it is a rough area.  I'll be honest I am super scared.  I saw a fire in the middle of the road, just like Reese.  My companion Elder LaTorre, a native Chilean.  He's awesome and super nice and speaks really fast hah.  I haven't showered for 2 days since the plan trip but I´m still on the go.  Wow this first day has been the craziest day ever.  I dont know what to say! I'll have more stories to tell next week, but it is true that there are dogs running around, the people seem really nice, and I love it. Very friendly people, even the lady at the internet cafe here at New Net hah. We'll see how everything goes. I bore my testimony today in Argentina for the first time to a mom and her two kids walking down the street.  It actually came out of my mouth!  It's crazy but I´m scared and worried and pretty much a roller coaster of emotions that I'm here now. I'm just so thankful for everything I have ever had in my life. This is seriously a wake up call!  Doesn't matter where you are in the world, the people are the ones who make it and that is why Argentina is amazing so far.  That's it for now. I just have been in our zone for 3 hours. Everything is going hah, that's all I can say for now. I am really here. It isn't a dream anymore. Again, appreciate everything you have back home. We are truly blessed, blessed, blessed. Maybe next time I can send some pictures but for now I have to run to a member's house who works at a bank and exchanges money, then contact some more. It´s real now, real people and only two years to do work. Even though it feels like I've been going forever today, I can´t imagine what a real full day feels like, but I'll find out soon!  I´m just so glad I am living and have good health and a loving family and friends. 

I love you all soo much and I will talk to you next week on Pday

Love your son,
Elder Shepherd

My Pdays are Monday. The best way to mail is through dearelder.com or to the mission home address in Buenos Aires.  I forgot the address but I will verify next week. It´s not the Salt Lake one. It is the one in Buenos Aires.