Wednesday, July 20, 2016

I Fear No Man! (Week 34)

This week......Wednesday was my birthday. We had interviews with President Robertson. The others Elders had a baptism for a lady named Jorgelina. Hermana Cheever got Flashed out of the area and we have a new Hermana from the United States named Hermana Lloyd and.......... I think thats it, well I hope thats it, i always forget the cool stuff and remember the boring stuff. 

But, whatever, down to the details. First off the Elders Quorum President gave us a Ping Pong set, that belongs to the church, because we had planned to do an activity this Saturday but it didn't pan out so we have been playing ping pong all week!!! We play Right before bed, While our food cooks, all P-day, when someone is using the bathroom, And after i write this email we´re going to go play Ping Pong WOOO!! 

In the continuing saga of our missionary bicycles, Elder Wihongi's handlebars literally broke off while he was riding his bike. he super-humanly strong or are our bikes pathetic?!?!  (Picture below) Nothing better than your handlebars breaking off while you're on your way to an appointment. And an added's still mud-central here! Woop-didi-doo!

Also it was my birthday on Wednesday. I'm 19. My dear sweet companion made a giant, 2-inch thick, pancake for me and then we also had our usual giant heap of potatoes, onions, mushrooms, and eggs scrambled together (picture below) It was a good day!!! And we sang a rowdy round of "Happy birthday to you" in Spanish. It was Super Awesome!! 

The best part of that day though was when we had a cool experience....
We were biking out to an investigators house and along the way my companion had the impression that we needed to stop and pray. So, we stopped, took 6 really cool photos and then we prayed. After our prayer we got back on our bikes and, once again, started heading to our investigators house. About 5 seconds in we received a phone call. It was a member of our ward calling to say that some new people were moving in next door to them and that we should come help. So we promptly dropped our current plans and went right over. When we arrived we awkwardly introduced ourselves and asked if we could help. The lady we were talking to said "Uhh...No!" But we didn't let that detour us. We just changed tactics and asked her where she was from and we struck up a conversation with them. After a little bit, right as the conversation was about to die, the husband of this lady who had been unloading while we talked, looked at us and said "so are you guys going help or not?" Haha. We immediately dropped the conversation and picked up a box. After everything was unloaded the husband was talking to us and he seemed impressed that we had rode from out of nowhere to help them with their boxes. We said "Well, yah....we heard you needed help and we like here we are." He was a super friendly man and he promptly said we could come back anytime and to talk to him and his family about the gospel!! Super cool Experience!!!

Elder Wihongi and I have a new saying now that we always use. I Fear No Man! We use this phrase whenever we feel scared to knock on a door, or to contact someone, or to teach someone. We simply look at eachother and whisper-shout "I FEAR NO MAN" and then we practically run at the next door looking for the next person to baptize or call to repentance.  It does wonders for our fears. A good part of the inspiration for this phrase comes from Moroni 8:16
 16 "Wo be unto them that shall pervert the ways of the Lord after this manner, for they shall perish except they repent. Behold, I speak with boldness, having authority from God; and I fear not what man can do; for perfect love casteth out all fear."
Powerful!!! Love that scripture.

I Fear No Man!!!!!

This work is true! Its hard, but there is a never ending supply of hope that Christ offers us. 
I love you guys. 
Elder Ren Porter

Taking the time to appreciate the sunrise!
My birthday breakfast!!
Ping pong
New sister missionary
Elder Wihongi's handlebars literally broke off while we were riding!!

No More Sugar! (Week 33)

For some reason I was really really tired this week, like “first week of the mission tired”!  I kept thinking… what in the world is wrong? why am i so tired? And then I realize, it’s probably because I ate A LOT of sugar this week!! Haha. Did you all know I’m allergic to sugar? And wheat, dairy, grains, nuts, and everything else that tastes good!!  I’m definitely going to try and cut off the sugars this week, but its super hard because my companion loves the sugars, as do I!

Also, remember how I said it was raining like crazy here and we were worried about it flooding? Well it didn't flood, but I now live in a mud bog. It's been really interesting trying to get places on our already pathetic rust bucket bikes through dirt trails and roads that our now giant mud pits. I will be an expert in all bicycle related evasive maneuvers involving dogs, handlebar riding, and mud cycling by the time my mission is over!  Many different missionaries told us I would need really tall boots in my mission. My mom ordered these sweet boots from, they're for mucking out horse stalls on a farm, and in my case, they are for getting anywhere in our area without sinking through the earth or being covered in mud. Thanks mom. Sadly, they are very nice boots (even covered in mud) and everyone who sees them says "hey, those are really nice boots! I like them"! Which in my area translates to "hey, those are really nice boots and if you don't get away from me fast, they will be mine!!!" I'm constantly paranoid that someone is going to jump us one evening and demand to have them! Haha. 

But anyway, besides that, the week was fantastic. We talked with the Family Quevedo this week and it looks like they are going to wait to be married after all. Jorge, the father of the family, has a lot of fear about rushing things to much because of his past marriage experience.  Elder Wihongi and I have tried to guide them to have more faith and to just go for it but they are firm, it seems, in the decision to wait. I believe  they have also started to get annoyed with us a little too because of how much we are pestering them to get married.  We have heard stories about some missionaries who would be to aggressive and incessant with their  investigators and it winds up pushing them away from the church and not towards it. We don't want that happening with them  so we decided to drop it for now and just be their friends and support them as they progressively move forward. We feel fervently that in the near future they will be married and Augustina baptized and they will be an active amazing family here in the church.  For me and my comp It doesn't really matter if WE get to baptize them or if WE get to take credit. It’s the Lords work and they are the Lord’s children.  I'm  just thankful I was able to meet them and share the gospel with them. They are my friends now.  We are happy that they have progressed and we pray that that will continue and that the gospel will become a part of their eternal progression.

Our Good friend Luis is still Progressing!! Slowly but surely he is progressing and though he cant really hear us at all because his hearing is going or read the book of Mormon because his sight is diminishing and the letters are to small, He has been feeling better and better every visit.  And his smoking habit is improving,  cigarette by cigarette. It’s a kind of funny and not the usual way of teaching someone, but because he can’t really understand most of what we say, in our halting Spanish, we have become his friends. When we’re with him, our time is spent cheering him on,  making him laugh, trying to motivate him and trying to help him know that we are here for him and love him and, more importantly, that our Father in Heaven and His son Jesus Christ love him. 

The Family Fernandez is finally showing some signs of progressing as well. We finally got to talk to the Hermana and we were able to bear our testimonies and share our beliefs. We also took the opportunity to teach her that the church she belongs to is wrong and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints is the only true church on the earth. We invited her, as we have done a million times before, to read the Book of Mormon, to pray to our Heavenly Father about it and find out for herself it is true. She finally agreed and said “Well if i read this book, I’m not going to do it because i like you guys or because i Like how your church smells (apparently our church smells good! Just FYI)! I’ll read it and if I find it to be true I will be a member and not a fake member!” Ha, we stopped in our tracks and practically yelled at her that that is EXACTLY what we’ve been asking her to do!!  We are hoping this will be a big step for her in coming closer to the waters of baptism. It was kind of funny and a little uncomfortable in how we approached this lesson with her. As a missionary, sometimes you have to go slow, sometimes you have to back off and sometimes you have to be brutally honest. This was a “brutally honest” time for us, as we lovingly destroyed the church she belongs to!  I spoke very directly about the gospel, why I know its true, and why she needs it in her life. We were very direct but it’s because we love her and her family. We want them to be happy and we know that true happiness is found when you seek after and follow our Savior Jesus Christ. 

We also performed a Heroic Act Of Service, Like super heroes almost. We were heading to our area and a man called us. With not even an instant of delay we slammed on our breaks and swooped into the rescue. The man said “help! this lady has fallen and she cant get up!!”. WE looked over the fence into the yard of the house he was pointing to and saw an elderly lady sitting in her door way.  We asked her, over the fence, what we could do to help? She said “Can you get the keys and open the door?”  Why, of course, random citizen.  Step back!  And  with the assistance of my faithful sidekick Elder Wihongi,  I scaled the fence and landed, light as a feather,  on the other side of the ….Like Batman!  I then began the mighty search for the infamous keys and i could not find them…haha…Not so much like batman! A little crowd of similar elderly people had gathered to watch my heroics and they were all yelling at me, in Spanish,  saying…”the keys are in the door! The keys are in the door!”  but the lady had like a million doors in her house and apparently I was looking at every door EXCEPT the right door! My Sidekick Tried Helping me by telling the crowd that i didn't speak Spanish, I only spoke  Chinese! haha. A few minutes later I located the keys and opened the  impenetrable gate, thus saving the day.  Before they could give us the key to the city, we got onto our faithful rust buckets  (bikes)  and rode off into the sunset to the sound of five old people yelling words of praise (I’m assuming) in spanish.

We did have one very odd thing happen this week. For some reason a bunch of the missionaries in our district decided that  Elder WIhongi and i weren’t happy or excited about our area. They said we were “dis-animated” about our area or something like that.  So they organized a district wide meeting to help Mercedes A (my area) to boost our morale. Haha. Their hearts were in the right place, they were just wrong.  It was a very confusing experience because, up until that moment,  i had thought that i was very “animated” and excited!!! hahaha. It was probably all the sugar induced tiredness that made them think we were “dis-animated”!! 

On a whole this week was amazing and I learned so much!! 
I love you guys,
Elder Ren Porter

This "road" is actually not that bad, compared to some of the other ones!
My sweet "horse-stall-mucking" boots.

What I Know For Sure (week 32)

SO this week was full of Rain, Rain and more Rain. It's weird for me because I'm from Arizona and it would rain like once a year there so I'm really not used to everything being so wet all the time. I feel like I'm starting to sound like my brother Cole who's on his mission in Tahiti because he talks about how much it rains in Tahiti in his weekly emails! Haha. The streets, or should I say "dirt trails", that we ride on are giant mud bogs now. Good times. Luckily elder Wihongi and I always seem to be in a house, or in church or in our apartment just as the rain starts to pour down on us. We are hoping it doesn't rain to much because that would probably mean an evacuation of Mercedes. Mercedes is kind of like a big bowl. I was told that Mercedes is infamous for being a frequent flooded area, like really bad flooding, up to a one story house bad, I'm told. So with some luck and prayer mercedes will stay safe. My first companion, Elder Ortolano, served in Mercedes this time last year and I remember him telling me that one time Mercedes Flooded and everyone was emergency evacuated. Him and his comp lost contact with all their investigators and all they did for a few weeks was service to help clean up the mess and help people that had been misplaced from their homes. I pray that it won't get that bad but who knows, it could still happen. 

This week was a little difficult, the family Quevedo are having some troubles getting their marriage papers turned in because they have to wait a month. And once they are married they then have to take 10 days off of work, as mandated by the law. And they are a little worried that Jorge will be fired because of that and also because his work, right now, is already laying off some people because of some growth happening within the company. There is just alot of uncertainty in their lives right now. Satan is trying so hard to dissuade them from getting baptized! We have been fasting and praying about it and we are hoping to push them to be married this next month.

A mission has been the best and hardest thing I've ever done in my life. Its the first time in my life that I've been both sad and happy at the same time. So physically and emotionally tired and yet so energized at the same time. The people here befuddle me sometimes. As a missionary, my sole purpose here is to teach people about Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father. About the joy and happiness that can fill their lives by following our Savior. But most people don't want to hear it.  The things people say and the things they do are so frustrating to hear and yet so exciting because it provides a challenge for us as missionaries to overcome, which then helps us to rely more and more on faith and Jesus Christ as we venture out each day to find people to teach. 

I do not know everything and I am so imperfect but what I DO know is that God exists. God Loves us. Jesus Christ is His Son. I am a Missionary. The Book of Mormon is true. Peace and comfort and a safe haven from the storms of life are found in Christ. He can Help us. He wants to help us. We can ask for help. He will give us what we need. Reading Scriptures, Praying to God, and Going to Church are vitally important. I left my family and home to come to Argentina and teach the gospel. I love my family.  I love God and Jesus Christ. I love Argentina and its people. I have been called by a prophet of God to be here In Argentina and I'm here to teach people and families how they can be eternally happy. And I am a son of God. 

THis work will always progress. 
i love you guys. 
Elder Ren Porter

Zone conference (I know I look short in this pic but it's only because I was standing behind Elder Wihongi. He and I are actually the exact same height. Haha)

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Less...awkward robot, more...servants of God (week 31)

Woah. so this week was something.  First off, none of our investigators came to church on Sunday and Argentina lost the Copa Americana finals in soccer yesterday. Secretly, Elder Wihongi and i were rooting for Chile to win yesterday in the Copa Americana. It was done out of spite that none of our investigators came to church. hahaha. Don't worry, I've already repented.
That's all the bad news, and theres not a lot, so thank goodness!! Besides those two things, this week was pretty sweet. We were able to meet alot of our goals this week and we are super stoked now. Also we have been getting progressively better with our teaching. I'm proud to say we're teaching less like awkward robots and more like servants of God!! 

So, now I know that I don't just have bad luck with the bikes here, I also have train issues! we had to go up to a little town in our area called Gowland which you can only reach by a 50 minute train ride. So we took the train up there and we visited all the less active and investigators we know and none of them were home (of course) so we went back to the train station to go home. As we're sitting on the train platform waiting, a guy comes up to us and says the train workers have gone on strike! Huh? So in the one hour that we spent in Gowland, the train went on strike!! My comp and I are thinking "oh good, we were hoping the train would go on strike today!!!" "Hope we can find some sketchy bikes to ride so we can get home by nightfall." So, we found some sketchy bikes and we started the LONG bike ride back to Mercedes. Sadly, we took some weird route that ran along the train tracks and we were on that trail FOREVER. The whole time i was just waiting for some random thief to jump out of the brush and rob us of our candy and cameras but luckily we had luck and that didn't happen. Instead, we were just chased by random dogs!!! But, because we got lost, we found out that we have a small lake in our area, a bunch of brick making Bolivians, and also another small town that we didnt know existed. So it was all quite eventful. 

Its Steadily getting colder here and its also coming into to the rainy season. Yippee. So there always seems to be a constant wind blowing and it always seems to be blowing against us, no matter what angle or direction we ride our bikes!!! haha. 

We visited a less active family this week and it was funny because at the end of the lesson the fathers uncle walked in and we met him and then we asked the family for references of other people we could visit and as we writing down some references we asked if there was anyone else we could visit and the uncle was like " can visit me!" We looked at him and looked at eachother and were like, "Oh man! We are so lame!!" Did I say we were "less awkward robot and more servants of God?" Haha. Anyway, we quickly covered our awkwardness and asked the uncle if we could come tomorrow? It was super funny afterwards, as we were thinking about it because it was so random. So we visited him the next day and we managed to set a date for him to be baptized! Crazy.

Elder Wihongi and i have been sharing messages alot about the Atonement lately. The moment in Jesus Christ´s life when he suffered for all the sin of the world and sweat drops of blood for you and me.  We have really been trying to drive home the supreme importance of applying the atonement. I forget sometimes the significance of this, the ability to throw off my burden and guilt and to feel happy once more is not something to kept to oneself. We teach of the neccesity of praying on bended knee to God To receive this gift and not to wait but to apply it in our lives and apply it now!
I know that the atonement is of supreme importance and it is, in reality, something real. Jesus Christ really does exist and He Did do that for me and my family and all the people past, present and future. This knowledge of the Atonement is mine and no matter what happens i know that it is true. 
I love you guys and i love this work!!
Elder Ren Porter

The first pic was taken on the train platform right before we were told they were on strike! And the other two pics were taken on our journey home from the train!

Member Missionaries (week 30)

So this week was pretty awesome. First off, I ate A LOT of.....potatoes, eggs and onions (just like last week)!! Second my area, Mercedes, was created into a Ward which is Awesome because its been a branch since 1944!!! And the district of Lujan, Argentina was made into a Stake, we celebrated by eating A LOT of..... potatoes, eggs and onions!!! Lujan is an area that covers about 230,000 kilometers (i dont know how much that is in miles but i assume alot). Elder Texeira presided over everything and with him was Elder Carter (mission President right before President Robertson), who was called as a 70 this last General Conference and also President Benton-Current MTC president In Argentina and our current Mission President (Robertson). It was a great experience. The Ride home was fun, we all rode on a sketchy bus. I was able to sleep a little bit and we only had to stop once because of a car running into us and shattering its window. Good times.

Also the first group of missionaries that came here with President Robertson (current mission President) left for their homes today. It was quite a big group of missionaries. They made up a big chunk of great leaders that we had here. Also, we received transfer calls yesterday and I am..........staying here in Mercedes!!! AND....I am staying with Elder Wihongi!! Yes!! Anti-climatic, but Awesome. We have been knocking on wood for two weeks now, none stop, Hoping we would stick together again this transfer. We celebrated by eating A LOT of potatoes, eggs and onions!! Elder Lopez and Elder Sales and Hermana Cheever are all staying too, but Hermana Sierra is leaving. 

Me and Elder Wihongi are super excited we're staying here because that means that we will both be here for the wedding and baptism of Augustina. Coolest lady ever!! 
I feel like I`ve done alot more this week but i cant remember anything that happened...hahaha.  I'm sure it was all good though!!

I want to say some things about the  importance of members in missionary work. I have not realized, until now, how important members are in missionary work. I know now that, for an investigator and recent convert to have a member-friend will not only help them feel welcome in the church but will help them not leave the church. I wish i could be there all the time for my investigators and recent converts. When they are feeling lonely, distressed or confused, I just want to stay with them 24/7, give them a hug and tell them to hold on, have faith and don't give up, but as a missionary I can't do that as it will hinder the progression of the `person. I have never realized truly what it feels like to walk into a new and exciting experience full of new words, new people, new concepts and new cultures. The closest example for me would be....walking into a new country. The work progresses everyday but I feel sure in saying that the work would progress so much faster if members participated as well. 

I do love all the help we do receive out here, it helps alot more than people think it does for us missionaries!!!
Love you all, 
Elder Ren Porter

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

I love this work! (Week 29)

SO this week we had Zone conference and President Robertson and his wife, the Assistants and a Missionary Couple shared some words of wisdom with us. The Hermana Missionary taught us the proper way to conduct music. Before her instruction I had thought that conducting the music was pretty simple, but I quickly realized I had been wrong all this time...haha...even with my 10 years of piano lessons, I basically knew nothing about music!!. Usually if I led the  music, I just did something like "okay on three 1...2...3..." and then start waving my hand around to signal that it was time to start singing. I usually drew my name in the air instead of an actual structure but now they’re inviting the missionaries to start learning how to actually do it. hahaha. It’s so hard!!! Moving on, I got my first haircut in Argentina (not done by another Elder).

We are super excited because this area is kicking right now. Ever since started working with Jorge Quevedo (recent re-active and father of recent convert). We have been receiving a lot of work from the Lord. We have started working with Jorge's family now, to re-activate them and also working a lot with his girlfriend Augustina who wants to be baptized. 
Jorge had a surgery on Saturday for his Hernia, so he is trapped in bed until he heals.  We gave him a blessing and we hope he will heal quickly because he and augustina have already shown a truck load of faith. 
We also found a lady this week who we think is awesome. She is friends with some active members in the ward and also has talked with missionaries in the past. We taught her a lesson and it went super great, we even managed to get a baptismal date with her for next month and we have high hopes she will progress well.
ALso we have been working with a man named Luis who is a special case. He is a special case because 1. he smokes and drinks, 2. he has almost no family and lives alone, 3. WE can barely understand him, 4. he can barely understand us, 5. he has talked with elders in the past but they were never able to help him and ,6. He wants to quit smoking but has no faith that he can. Me and my comp are praying all day and night that he will have the strength he needs to overcome his addictions. We have a great hope that he will progress because he seems to sincerely want to change. We just have to be patient with him. 

My favorite part of the week was last night. We had a lesson that I loved a lot and that I want to tell you guys about. There is this family here in our area and they´re less active and super nice, and their family is huge, consisting of the mom and dad, a lot of Brothers and one sister who are all married now and have kids and for one reason or another they either hate the church or just have no desire to return, though if we show up and share a scripture they always say that they feel spirit and realize the need to return to church. Elder Wihongi and I have been working alot with this family and we visited one of the brothers yesterday night. Probably not the smartest decision because they were watching soccer and also this happened to be a night where almost the whole family was there with all the brothers and their families and in the mix was some non-members, baptized (but inactive members), genuine people who wanted to change, people who don't know what they want in life, and people who genuinely hated the church. And we were in the midst of them and they were loud. hahaha. One guy was making sarcastic remarks to offend us and then the wife or sister would hit him and tell him to go away. Some of the people asked us questions about ourselves and other people were trying to make their fellow family members mad by telling us where they lived so that we could visit them because as they were saying "this sheep is super lost"! They would laugh uproariously about that. Eventually they let us share our message. This is the part I absolutely loved about this lesson. Up to this point it had been extremely loud and raucous in this home, but When we started the prayer the room immediately got quiet and everyone listened to the guy saying the prayer. The silence continued during scripture we shared. We shared Ether 12:27 with them and we testified to them quietly and simply about what they had to do be happy in this life. The spirit was present in that moment and my testimony grew tremendously from that moment when I saw these people silence themselves in respect for our Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ. I know that wickedness is weakness and that righteousness is might. 
This week was amazing. 
Love you guys,
elder ren Porter

1 & 2. A typical home in the "campos" or farmland of Mercedes. The Campos are a very humble area of my mission. 
3. A typical rooftop of a home in campos. They have to use heavy garbage to hold the roof down.
4. Me walking down a typical alleyway in the campos. They use tarps to cover walls and windows because they can't afford to buy more. It's very cold in their homes. 
5. On a lighter note, this is the "city" part of Mercedes. I call this picture, "Elder Wihongi....Island princess....lost in Argentina." Hahaha

Ride on the handlebars?? ...Ok!! (Week 28)

SO this week we had a baptism. We didn't think the baptism was going to go through, so we were a little unprepared and surprised, but also super happy. Bianca was baptized by Elder Wihongi and I was able to confirm her and bless her with the gift of the Holy Ghost on Sunday. This was my first time ever doing that blessing. It was such an amazing spiritual experience. I'm so grateful that I got to be a part of this family's joy. Bianca is the daughter of Jorge Quavedo. Jorge is a member but he's been inactive for years and he has a girlfriend who is not a member. We've been teaching The Quavedo family since I got here to Mercedes. The Baptism was awesome, as well, because Bianca and her Family showed up, score!! But also, some less active people that me and elder wihongi have been working a lot with lately showed up for the baptism and they happen to be friends of  Jorge's. Also, Jorge´s parents were there. They are active members. The spirit was so strong and they cried during the last part of the meeting when Jorge got up and bore his testimony about the restored Gospel and about how he knew that the covenant Bianca had made was extremely important and that he was Extremely happy in that moment for her. Amazing experience!! Elder Wihongi and I are SO Happy for Bianca and her family. Jorge has an operation on his leg tomorrow so we are going to pass by and give him a blessing and we have a hope that we will heal rapidly so that he can marry his now fiance Augustina and so that she will be ready to be baptized this next month as well.

WE have also been working with some other people who we believe have some great potential. We’re focusing on one family in particular because they are a family of girls about the same age as Bianca. We are trying as hard as we can to start building up the young women's program here because, as of right now, it only consists of Bianca!!

This week was also super crazy because of the never ending problems with our bikes!! This week my tire exploded twice. I had to get a whole new wheel and then the guy insisted that I get new brakes because my bike hasn't had any brakes since I got it! Haha. Then I had to get a new tread because two days ago the tire exploded again!! My bike is almost perfect now, except the wire for my new breaks is too tight so i've been riding with the brakes on the bike wheels for a few days. It's fine though. My legs are super awesome now like they were when I was on the swim team! Haha. 
Also, elder wihongi and I were heading to a lesson/lunch appt. this week and Elder wihongi had just fixed his bike but as we started going we realized there was another problem. His chain kept falling off! haha. We didn't want to be late, so we walked to a recent convert´s house and dropped off his bike and started heading over again. And what do you do when you have miles to go and a short time to get there and only one bike for two people? Yip, you decide who is stronger and bigger and you have that person pedal while you jump on the handlebars!! I jumped up and held on for dear life!! Poor Elder Wihongi had to pedal my bike, with the brakes that were rubbing against the wheel, and my 6'4, 145 lb. body, for several miles,  against the wind! On the plus side, we made it to our appointment AND we got a video and pictures of our unprecedented journey to lunch (video attached below!). ELder Wihongi and I are probably one of the most unified Elders in our mission. It's been a great experience serving with him. 

Another reason This week was so awesome is because of how much food I've been eating! We don't get fed very well by the members in this area, but the food is really cheap so me and my comp buy tons of food and cook it ourselves. Remember last week how I told you I bought a ton of food? I ate 30 of the eggs I bought this week and 2 kilos of potatoes and onions. In other words I’ve been living in Luxury!!!!!!!

This week was awesome!! Loved it entirely. 
I love you guys.
Elder Ren Porter

1. Elder Wihongi, Bianca, Me (at Bianca's baptism)
2. Me, Elder Sales, Augustina (future wife of Jorge), Bianca, Elder Wihongi, Jorge (at Bianca's baptism)
3. My district--me, Elder Lopez, Elder Sales, Elder Wihongi, Hermana Cheever, Hermana Sierra

Dogs....again??? (Week 27)

So this week was pretty sweet! We had a strange/amazing, experience. Elder Wihongi and I were heading to a lunch appt. with a member, when the wheel of my comps bike broke and we were forced to walk the rest of the way. Right when elder Wihongi picked up his bike to start walking, the intertube exploded inside.....right next to my ear. It was super loud and it scared me for second. Luckily it also happened to scare all the dogs who had been barking and chasing us! Yes! We walked, tranquilo, to the lunch appointment. When we left, we started heading back to the apartment to drop off our now dead weight. As we were walking down a road we saw this little chihuahua being confronted by three big dogs. They were barking at it and lunging at it. Then this bigger dog came out of no where and grabbed the chihuahua by the neck and started throwing it around like a ragdoll. Elder Wihongi immediately dropped his bike to the ground and chucked a rock at the dogs. They scattered and the little dog ran off yelping super loud. I have to say, as much as dogs have bugged and annoyed me here, I was slightly traumatized by what I just witnessed. It was so mean and unfair. That chihuahua is super tiny and there were 4 big dogs trying to kill it. So, as I said, Elder Wihongi jumped right in while I just stood there for a second like a loser. I came to my senses, dropped my bike as well, and chased after my comp, who was running to rescue the chihuahua with a giant rock in his hand. I started yelling "basta" and "cucha" at all the other dogs that were now gathering around the commotion like vultures.  Eventually we managed to grab the little chihuahua. We then headed towards the crowd of people who had come outside because they heard the whole thing, from their houses. We started asking around to see if people knew who this dog belonged to, but we couldn't find an owner. The people who had come out of their houses told us to go try some lady who lived around the corner to see if it was hers. But then another lady said "I'll take the dog to one of my friends house down the street, she likes dogs." So we were like "sweet. take it." Elder Wihongi and I were starting to walk away when some random kid came out and said  "Hey, I can fix your wheel for you!" Before we could say anything, he had changed the wheel. We were like, "well...we don't have any money, but we will come back later and give you some candy and your wheel back". We started riding away again when someone ran to catch us and told us to come back. So we turned around and went back. We started talking to all the people. We met the friends of the lady who took the dog. As we were talking with the lady who took the dog and her family, it turned out that this person, who we had just met, was an old investigator of the church and her son had been baptized in the church many years ago!! Say what??  We were like "wow! Can we teach you something?" They said "yes. But you are not allowed to convert us." We said "ok. We'll try not to." hahaha. They were a super cool family. The next day we returned to the house of that kid who helped us, to give him candy and we were able to meet his mom. We asked if we could share a message. She accepted. We taught her and set a baptismal date, right then, on our first visit with her for the next month. So...because my comp got a flat tire, which forced us to walk, we happened upon the dog attack, which drew a crowd, said crowd witnessed my comp bravely throwing himself into the fight to save that little dog and also witnessed me, standing traumatized, until eventually stepping up to yell "Cucha" (not as brave, but still). So from that, we met two really awesome families. Coincidence? I think not. By small and simple things. haha. I don't know why Heavenly Father does things the way He does, but I trust His eternal wisdom. Maybe it HAD to be dramatic, in this situation, to catch the attention of certain people? I don't know. All I DO know is that I am on the Lord's errand and I need to be ready to testify and teach in any and all situations. 

We set a baptismal date with another girl that we've been teaching for a few weeks as well. She is getting baptized this next Saturday. She is super excited. All in all, this week was completely unexpectedly awesome in the extreme. 

It has been a little hard at times as well though. One thing I love about new experiences is that when something new does happen, you get to see yourself react and see where you are lacking. You also get to see where you are progressing. I realized, for example, that I don't like dog fights! Who knew? I'm actually mortified by them but when called to action I can yell "doghouse" to the biggest dog!! I think a lot about Ether 12:27. I love that scripture!! The knowledge that I won't be stuck with the frailities and weaknesses of life forever, gives me so much hope. It helps me remember my God and my Savior Jesus Christ more. And it helps me remember how much I need them always in my life. This week was awesome and I learned a ton about how I can be a better person and missionary. I'm so grateful to be out here. 

Love you all,
Elder Porter

This is our investigators. The family Quavedo and a young girl we're baptizing this next Saturday. We were making lunch with them in the picture. It was delicious!
Look hands!!!

So half of our area is in the "city", and the other half is "farm lands". This is the NICEST "road" (I'm being generous by calling it a road) we've found, in the "farm lands". Most of the "roads" are waaaayyy worse than this one AND most of the roads have dogs that jump out at you as you ride down them. 

And for my next trick....lesson charades!! (Week 26)


SO this week me and Elder Wihongi did great. I feel like this area is progressing a lot right now and the Lord is preparing the people here, for the conference coming up, which will turn this branch into a ward. We have been getting lots of great possibilities lately in this area. One family in particular we are working with is the family Quavedo.

The Hermano is menos activo but his novia right now is not. He's the only baptized member in his family. We started visiting them to try and re-activate the Hermano, but after we started teaching him we realized that the Hermana was interested as well. So we started visiting Sergio and Augustina more (that's their names) but for some reason we always showed up at the worst times, right as they were leaving so we were only able to share a quick scripture and plan another day to come back and teach the first lesson to Augustina. Every time we went back they told us about something interesting and spiritually impacting that happened to them that week. Augustina told us, one time, she already knew our message was true and wants to join our church and we still, at this point, had not even taught a her a full lesson!! haha. it was awesome. And Sergio helped us so much, as well. He would answer her questions about the church when we weren't there and then tell us the answers he gave her to make sure he told her right. Finally when we had time to sit down and talk with them, we taught them the first lesson, and Sergios daughter (who was an old investigator) was also there. We Managed to set dates and goals for them for baptism. The best part was that me and ELder Wihongi barely had to do anything with this great family. They had already decided, in their hearts, they were going to follow Jesus Christ and do what was necessary to start their path of discipleship.

Also, Me and Elder Wihongi have been growing more unified as a companionship and missionary work has become more enjoyable than ever. Elder Wihongi is a capo. He is hilarious and we quote "lord of the rings" lines to each other all day. So, As I mentioned last week, me and elder Wihongi are about equal in our Spanish speaking skills. This has made for some rather interesting lessons and situations. But, since me and Elder Wihongi are both struggling with the language right now, our “charade abilities” have skyrocketed! Elder Wihongi is particularly good at it. I feel like we could teach a whole lesson together, right now, without saying anything at all. Just letting our bodies do the talking for us!! If they ever have a ward or stake talent night… out!

Mercedes is awesome and I’m super excited for the next couple weeks here. It's starting to get cold. I busted out all my winter gear. We'll see if we got the "right" clothes and shoes for this area during the next couple of months. It's not TO bad yet, but I do have to apologize every single time I shake someone's hand here, because they always go "oh geez, your hand is like Ice!" Haha. 

This might sound strange, but i love how difficult some of the people we've been meeting here are. I love it because my personal study has become so much more focused and has been so much more effective. I have to be on my “spiritual A game” here in Mercedes because we’ve come across some very difficult situations. We met a family the other day and were able to teach the first lesson. Everything was going good. Nice and normal. Then afterwards, they asked us to bless their house because they were being haunted by spirits. haha. Awesome. We also met another lady and some of her family last week. She belongs to a bizarre religion. We've been begging and pleading with her to give up her religion because it superbad and crazy!! They basically worship spirits and sometimes sacrifice animals. We were super blunt with her. We were like, “Hermana this is wrong. You're not going to find peace in this at all. You need to throw all your religious trinkets outside your house and not practice for two weeks and see the difference." She declined because she said one of her “religious holidays” was coming up and so she couldn't stop because the "Saints" of her religion were coming down soon (from the sky) to do some ceremony with the practicers here. Hmm...We´ll go back in a couple of weeks and try again. But her family is really cool, if not a little loud. 

We also have been working with a guy who believes all we have said so far, Like everything. BUT, he can’t accept a latter-day prophet. Oh man, that was such a frustrating lesson!!

So…….Bikes are Awesome! So much faster than walking. But the dogs are also a little more brave when you're on a bike! There’s nothing scarier than a big black dog coming out of the shadows of death and trying to bite your feet! Though, when you're in this situation you can do a number of things. I have created a list of evasive maneuvers that I am testing out.
1) Pedal to the metal and get out of their.
2) Kick it in the face….while you continue pedaling with the opposite foot. (Sorry dog lovers.)
3) Yell “CUCHA” at them, which means “doghouse” in spanish.
4) Get off the bike and start fighting them, with  said bike.
5) Pick up a rock (which usually works because they are smart enough to figure out that THAT means something...)
6) Throw the rock.

All very useful and very effective. My personal favorite is the "CUCHA" technique, its simple, but effective. 

For some reason we don't get fed here in Mercedes as well as we did in Villa Tesei. That has been difficult, because Elder Wihongi and I LOVE to eat!!!! Luckily the food here is super cheap, so me and Elder Wihongi have been buying and making our own great food lately. I bought two kilos of mandarins today for $1.50. AWESOME. 

But anyway, this area is awesome! I love it here and I love you guys!

Elder Ren Porter

#1 & 2- me and Elder Wihongi (all bundled up for warmth)
#3 & 4- some of the awesome Catholic Cathedrals
#5-the “farmland” part of our area
#6- a road near our apartment

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

New Area and New Companion (week 25)

Dear Everyone,  I am now in Mercedes. It is one of the oldest missions in all of south america. My new comp is Elder Wihongi. He's awesome! He is from New Zealand, he's 6'5 (and probably 3x my weight), and he's big into Rugby. We are quite the sight to see walking down the streets of Mercedes. A 6'4, skinny, white Yankee and a 6'5, buff, Polynesian. He speaks English with a really cool British accent and he speaks Spanish about as good as I do, it's made tracting a little difficult, but what we lack in verbal skills, we're trying to make up with sheer determination.  

We have bikes here, but so far, it has NOT made my life easier.  I got a flat on my second day here, so I changed out the tire and went on my merry way. Next another flat. We stopped and I filled it up with air. Later that same another flat!!! At this point it's 6:30 in the evening and we're about 7 miles away from the train station that would take us back to our apartment, and the train was going to leave at 6:45. I had to ride on the handlebars of Elder Wihongi´s  bike while he pedaled and I tried to hold on for dear life. The best part was seeing peoples faces as we passed them!!! Haha! 

This area is huge!!!!! We literally have a cross section of all walks of life. We have a giant, rich, historic city. Then we have farm fields and dirt road towns. We have apartment buildings, the embassy and huge, beautiful giant catholic cathedrals. And then some really poor areas. We have random towns that can only be reached by taking a train. We have people who live in Huts and on farms and are very poor and then people who live in homes and apartments and are very wealthy. It's very diverse. Its awesome, but huge!!! Which makes the bike situation so frustrating. We've had to do a lot of walking because of the bikes, but hopefully Heavenly Father will bless us this week and I'll have nice, full tires! If not, I'll have to get comfortable riding on Elder Wihongi's handlebars. I just wish my legs weren't so long. They drag on the ground unless I hold them up. Oh well, the Lord will provide a way. 

So, Elder Wihongi has been here for ten months. And I've been in Argentina for 5 months. There are two other missionaries in our apartment. Elder Sales and Elder Lopez. Elder Sales is from Brazil, he's been here for 6 months. Elder Lopez is from Guatemala and he has been here for ONE WEEK. We have to sister missionaries in our district also, ones been here for 7 months and the other 4 months. Elder Sales is the district leader and I think we have the youngest district in the entire world!!!!!

But anyway me and Elder Wihongi worked super hard this week and visited a bunch of people. We found some new people and we have 4 people right now with a baptisimal date. We also have alot of great other possibilities! Also, and the ward here LOVES missionaries. It's awesome here and I'm super excited for this area. I was sad to leave Villa Tesei, but Mercedes is going to be amazing! Sorry I can't send any pics. I forgot my adapter for my camera. I'll send a bunch next week.

Elder Ren Porter

I stalked blogs and Facebook and found some random pics of ren's new comp on the "Buenos Aires West mission" Facebook page. This is Elder Wihongi...these are from the MTC (sorry to whoever I copied these pictures from!)
In this pic, from the MTC, Elder Wihongi, is the one on the very end (in case you hadn't figured that out on your own)

The Parable of the tie! (Week 24)

First things first,  Happy Mothers Day!!! Not only to my mom, but to my grandma's, and aunts, and to my second mom (sister Betz). Thank you for loving me and teaching me.

Seeing my family yesterday was awesome, especially because Gerardo, Belen and Nefi, Franko, Enzo, and Gustavo were there. Who are all the people I baptized or helped convert here in Villa Tesei. Super fun. They got to meet my family and talk to them. It was so cool. 

Also, the other Big News is we had transfer calls yesterday and as totally expected, by everyone and their dog, Elder Porter got transferred to the farm fields (campos) of Mercedes section-A. I was talking to president Robertson and he asked me if I thought I'd stay in Villa Tesei a little longer? I jokingly said "Ya, I'm pretty sure I'm going to be here my whole mission." (I've been in Villa Tesei the whole time I've been in Argentina. I've never been transferred.) He jokingly said back to me that "He thinks I need to workout those long legs on a bike for awhile." Which kind of gave it away that I'd be going to the "campos" or farm/country area, because that's the only place they use bikes. Everyone else stayed in Villa Tesei and we think Elder Rojas´s new companion is a Latino, which means now the number of yankees to latinos will finally be tied in our apartment. hahaha. Unfortunately, none of us could understand our zone leader when he called or we just weren't listening, so I have no idea who my new companion is, but vamos a ver, we´ll see, his name sounded latino, which would make sense because I've never had an American comp so far. I'm excited to see who it is. Awesome!!! Also Enzo Se Bautiso´!!!!! Enzo was baptized on saturday by his cousin Franko (my very first convert)!! It was such an amazing baptism. The spirit was so strong and Franko did the baptism perfectly. Capo! President Robertson ( our mission president) came to the baptism and he told us, "wow that kid looked really happy. I have no doubt he's going to be a future missionary." And Franko is about to put his mission papers in!!  I told Franko that no matter what, I'd fly to Argentina when he gives his homecoming talk after his mission. I can't wait. He's going to help so many people. 

So, Most of the people here live in very humble circumstances. They don't have money for things we take for granted. One of the things they don't always have money for is church clothes. All of my converts and friends I've made in this Ward and area are always admiring my ties (my mom has good taste). I knew I was going  to get transferred so I brought a bag with ALL of my ties to church on Sunday and let them all pick their favorite one to keep. It's pretty funny because Enzo wanted the one I wearing, which was actually my most favorite tie, but I was happy to give it to him. What do I care about a dumb tie anyways? It's amazing how UN-superficial you become when you're surrounded by such humbleness. It was a simple thing, a seemingly inconsequential thing to you or I, but they were so grateful and happy. It made me realize how many things I've taken for granted in my life. I've never had to go without, and I'm grateful for that. But I'm even more grateful that my eyes have been opened. That I got to learn and see, firsthand, how blessed my life is and has been.  It fills me with immeasurable joy to think of Enzo passing the sacrament for the first time in my "favorite" tie, or Franko wearing my tie on his mission, or Gerardo wearing my tie when he and his wife and son are sealed for eternity in the temple. 
Funnily, while we were skyping my family on Sunday, Enzo was just in his regular street clothes but he was still wearing my tie around his neck. My mom saw it on the screen and said "hey ren. That's your favorite tie."  Haha. (Down below is a picture of Enzo's baptism day, where I'm wearing said tie....for the last time.)

What a great week, seriously. We tried hitting some areas we don't usually work in because the work is so hard in these areas. We were blessed and able find some new people and re-find some other really awesome people. There were some days, as well, where we were looking for people for a solid couple of hours and found nothing! But I'm grateful for those moments because it made us appreciate the miracles that DID happen.  We were walking all around one day looking for some people we had planned to contact and we weren't getting anywhere. And then bam we got a lesson and then after that one we got another one. It took us all day but we managed to get 2 lessons. Those lessons, for me, were very special lessons, filled with spirit. You feel so much more gratitude for things when you have to work hard for them.  And I know that finding and teaching those people after so much walking and searching was the Lord's blessing to us for just pressing forward and not letting discouragement get the better of us. That day was awesome. 

Also, all the elders  and sisters in my zone had a meeting yesterday morning with the stake president, his counselors and president Robertson and it was Great. I especially liked it when one of the Counselors talked about the newly baptized youth named Enzo in the Villa tesei ward who was baptized by Franko (Hey! They're talking about my spiritual brothers! I perked up when I heard those names). But something really awesome he said, as well, was that we need to start talking to more youth in our areas, which is a great invitation. There are ALOT of youth here and they need ALOT of help. It is really hard to be a youth here in this area. There are so many kids here that are starting to drink and smoke at 13 or 14 years old and then by 15 or 16 alot of girls are already pregnant. Most kids here don't finish school and there aren't a lot of jobs, so a lot of the youth just stand around outside harassing people. It is really sad stuff to see and there is so much need for help. There is so much need for leaders. So much need for kids to join the church and leave on missions and come back and become the future bishops and stake presidents and so on. Sometimes its really hard to talk to the kids here because you're  never sure if they are serious or just joking around with you or stringing you along for their own amusement. So, I'm so grateful he invited us to do that because from what I have seen from the youth that HAVE joined the church here is that they are stalwart examples to me of perseverance and faith and they have the most powerful testimonies and such strong spirits. We need more of them because they have SO Much potential to do good and I can see that they are already so much better than me and I feel so humbled by the youth here, especially when they are the only members in their family. 

I consider it a miracle that I got sent here at this time in Villa Tesei to help people come unto Christ and by having the opportunity to see such progression and strength happen in such a seemingly short time. I'm freaked out honestly by how happy I feel just seeing someone I've come to love realize that God´s love is real and attainable and then feel the confirmation of the Spirit whisper into their hearts that these things are true. To witness the change of their countenance as they except the gospel into there lives. It makes up for all the heat, exhaustion, dehydration, frustration, sadness, and pain....a hundred fold. I'm very sad that I'm leaving this area and these people that I love with all my heart, but I am also excited to go to my next area and meet new people. Franko says it best. He said "its sad that you are leaving but I know this is God's Will for you to do this, because there are other people, like me, waiting for you.  I'm just happy you came for me too!" 

This work is true and the evidence is found in the members of this church. I know that God´s Love is real and He is a God of miracles.

Love you guys,
Elder Ren Porter

Baptism, me (with THE tie), elder rojas, franko, enzo, angel, enzo´s mom, enzo´s brother elias 

Baptism. All the same people from above PLUS  fransisco and president robertson!

me and brother omar our old mission leader. coolest guy ever! I love him alot.

Friday, May 6, 2016

W.W.M.S (What Would Mom Say) (week 23)

First let me tell you about my week and then I'll explain the title of my email. 

Bueno. Entonces. This week Elder Rojas and I killed it. We met a new family named Lorena and Maxi. They were a reference and they are golden. They came with us to mutual and we taught them the Restoration and Plan of Salvation. Lorena asks the best questions and she is studying the church so much and already has been studying Relief Society on LDS.Org and studying all the other books of scripture. Maxi has already read, in the first week, to chapter 18 of Nephi. What a capo! And he also really hit it off with Franko and Enzo. Enzo is about to be baptized this next weekend and Franko (my first convert in the mission field)!! Awesome stuff. 
Something cool happened to me and Elder Rojas yesterday. We decided to work in our Yellow and Orange zone which is a really hard part of our area. We call it the deadzone because there is not a lot of work done there. It's hard to contact people there and people have a little more money or are more wealthy in those areas. And for some reason this greatly effects the work in those areas. I much prefer the poorer part of villa Tesei, even though it's more dangerous. But The people are just so humble and nice. But we made a decision that we would dedicate a sunday there. So we did! We made some plans for this past Sunday and at about 7:30 all of our plans fell through. hahahaha. As expected, but hey, what can you do! But as you will see, "our" plans are not always "Heavenly Father's" plans. So we should never get discouraged. He is always guiding the ship. So we tried looking for someone we had contacted the other day to see if we could get a second lesson with her that day, we weren't able to find her. So as we're walking around, we see this guy working at a kiosk and we start talking to him. And We had a fairly good conversation, as well. And then some people interrupted our conversation to buy something from the kiosk and they were also very friendly and nice and not what I had expected for this area. That's what I get for prejudging this area and the people in it!!! So we finished our conversation with this man and left a pamphlet and continued on. We then tried to look for this random girl from the ward that the bishopric wanted us to go by and visit.  The problem with this plan of ours was that 1. I wasn't really sure what her name was 2. we weren't sure at all why we were going and 3. I had no idea where she lived haha! I know my mom is rolling her eyes right now because all three of those things are "classic Ren moves". Anyway, we still moved forward and hoped Heavenly Father would guide our steps. We started walking down this one street and I suddenly remembered that we had a reference on this street and we could try contacting them. I stopped for a moment as this thought hit me and then I realized something else! We had stopped in front of a house that I recognized because I had contacted it with my previous comp, Elder Ortolano about a month ago. So, I thought, hmm...maybe we're suppose to ask these people where the contact we were looking for lives. So we went up to the house and I had about a 1 out of 10 on the hope scale that we would get an answer. But then a man came out and I recognized him as one of the people we had contacted here the other month. We started talking with him and we said we were looking for so and so that lived on this same street. He said he had no idea where that person lived, but then he said "My wife is super sick. Will you come in and see her"?  We said "yes" and entered into his house and met his wife. She was super sick and laying in bed. Two of their friends were there as well and we were just talking warmly with all of them and we asked if we could bless this lady. We asked for olive oil and consecrated it and anointed it. And then we blessed this little hermana. The spirit was strong and it was a sweet experience. Afterwards we taught them a little of the Restoration and they invited us to come back and visit them. For someone looking from the outside in, It was really something random. Some might say that was just weird luck or a coincidence, but I know it was a miracle. Who guides this ship?? I have no doubt who! Our plans fell through for the night because Heavenly Father is aware of ALL his children. We met people at that man's kiosk who were nice and friendly. This helped change our attitudes towards this area, which spurred us on to continue walking. Our bishop asked us to contact this woman, but we didn't know how to find her so we walked, hoping to be guided. We ended up on a street I actually remembered, in front of a house I actually remembered. They opened the door to us and invited us in. And we were able to bless this man's wife, this beloved daughter of our Heavenly Father. Is this random? No. Heavenly Father and our Savior know us all. He loves that sweet little Hermana and her family. We were led to that house to bless and comfort her in her time of need. Of that, I have no doubt. 

For me, this was nothing short of a miracle and a reminder that God is directing the work and every setback or trial has a purpose. It was amazing to me and in reality I still can't really believe that it happened, but it did and I cannot deny it. I am so glad that God directs this work and that He is a God of Miracles. This work is true. 

Now, about my email title.....
Something I have really been focusing on this last month is maturity and love. To be straight forward, its this, every time I do anything lately I think about you mom. I think about what you would say to me. If I ever think about something or am wondering if I should do something or not, I would wonder about you and think to myself "What Would my Mom Say." Whether it's something dumb, like should I say this joke or not? Or if it was...should I listen to this or not? Or should I do this or not? Whenever there is a thought from satan to be disobedient or to do something unworthy of myself, I think of you and what you would tell me if you were standing right next to me. My mind always thinks, "what would mom say"! And I'll tell you what!...It has made my life tremendously easier. I haven't had to worry about whether what I was doing was good or bad because I always knew what my mom would say. "Yes ren, that's okay." or "no ren, thats ridiculous"!! I love it. Thanks mom! You are still my mom even out here. I'm so thankful for you. I'm also so grateful for all the service you had me do before I left for my mission. I know I didn't act like I liked it, but it had a huge impact on my life. Going everyday with you to serve at the child crisis center was so hard and I didn't want to do it most of the time, but I couldn't help but feel grateful for all the blessings I've been given after spending time with those kids who had nothing and no one. I am so blessed. Thanks for making me do that. I love you mom!

So, a month ago my mom said that what she really wanted for Mother's Day was for me to pray about someone I could do extra service for. Something separate from my service as a missionary. She wanted me to look around me, pray about it, and do a random act of service on my own. 
So, I don't know if this is what you had in mind but here we go. I have also been working on my charity and patience. Especially with my comp. My mom doesn't know any of this because I'm the "suffer in silence" kind of guy, but these past couple of months have been really hard with my comp! We have argued A LOT and I have been close to strangling him many times. My patience has been tried A LOT these last 2 transfers, because I was just hoping that one of us would get transferred so I wouldn't have to deal with him anymore. And I have no doubt that he felt the exact same way towards me. I'm stubborn and have many qualities that probably drive my comp crazy! Don't get me wrong though, there were days and sometimes even weeks that it was the complete opposite and we have been closer than any two people can be, but it has been a very slow progression with us.  But, after I read your email a couple of weeks ago about serving someone, I immediately thought of My comp. I didn't even have to pray about it. It came to my mind immediately and I decided to change our companionship. I knew I couldn't change him. But, I COULD change myself!
I was tired of being miserable and angry all the time and I just wanted us to work unified and be happy. So I made the decision to not care about who was right or who wasn't and to stop focusing on the things that bothered me about my comp. Instead, I would just look at the good, important qualities of Elder ****. Basically, I was trying to look at him with Christlike eyes instead of my dumb mortal eyes. As I did this, I saw, in him, a great missionary. I saw someone who has and will do lots of great things in Buenos Aires. And  I saw someone who will do great things in the church in the future. What a difference this has made! We have been such a unified unit lately and missionary work with him has been such a joy, it's unbelievable. 

Something special that happened between us as well is that we were talking one night and he told me that I have been his comp longer than any other companionship throughout his whole mission, by a large amount. He also said that I had had the most patience with him than any other elder he had served with before and though we argued sometimes, he thought we had a really good companionship and that he had learned alot from me about patience and humility. I told him he was a great missionary and a great example for me and I was happy to be his companion. This is something that would've been so hard and nearly impossible for me to say a few weeks ago. But because my mom had challenged me to be of service to someone and Heavenly Father had put it in my heart that I needed to serve and love my companion, right then in that moment, saying those things to Elder ***** was something easy and a pleasure to say and was the truth from my heart. I learned a great lesson. The more you serve someone, the more you grow to love them. When you let go of pride and the natural man and try to see someone like Christ would see them, it's impossible not to have your heart and mind changed...for the better. 

Happy Mother's Day! See you over Skype on Sunday!

Elder Ren Porter

Elder Rojas, Garardo (our recent convert), Nefi (his son), and me

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Pride and the "bad word" chile pepper! (Week 22)

So this week was a amazingly awesome. Like more awesome than usual!!

First, let's rewind 7 days to last Monday. We had Family Home Evening at Yolandas house. Yolanda is the coolest member in the world, she always has a reference and a cup of juice for us. And we were celebrating Elder Rojas´s birthday as well, so we invited a ton of people, but only a couple showed up hahaha. But, what we lacked in quantity we made up for with quality! We had Yamila (my first baptism), Gerardo (my second baptism) and Belen (his wife), Gonzalo, a super funny, nice member, Our old Mission leader Brother Omar, and four awesome missionaries. Me, Rojas, Schoonover, and Salmon. And what made it so great was because Yolanda knew that Me & Elder schoonover LOVE hot, spicy food. People here call us Yankees if we're from America, but they know elder schoonover is part mexican so they assume he can handle super hot food. And everyone who knows ME, knows that I put Tabasco sauce on everything eat. I've been doing this from about age 8. In fact, I was distraught to learn that Tabasco sauce isn't sold in stores here that my mom ordered 500 Tabasco packets (picture th ketchup packets you get from fast food places, only with Tabasco in them) and found a way to fit them in my mission suitcase! I get to use one a day!!!!
So Yolanda had bought a bunch of chiles, known here as Aj√¨ mala palabra, which means the "bad word" chile, I don`t know which bad word it is, but it`s like the ******** Chile, the people here swear in the name of the chile due to the intenseness of the chile... So, everyone started peer pressuring "someone" to eat one (someone as in the yankees). The lot fell on Elder Schoonover, (usually I would have jumped on this  crazy wagon before this point but I was a little cautious of these peppers because I had already eaten two of them the day before when we went by yolandas house for our daily dose of references and juice.) So, being the mature Elders that our mothers raised, we proceeded to dare and DOUBLE DARE elder schoonover to eat a chile cause "he's mexican and can handle it". His pride kicked in and he said "GIVE ME TWO!" We were stunned, but we were still all running our mouths, and all I remember was that there was a slight argument, and it ended with Schoonover claiming "GIVE ME FIVE THEN". So he threw all 5 in his mouth  with almost no hesitation, I might add. And then we all waited. He chewed, chewed and chewed and swallowed and BAM, it hit him like a wall, his face turned red and his eyes went wide and you could see the regret and terror on his face. It was hilarious. We were all dying of laughter. Poor elder Schoonover was crying from the pain and heat and we were crying  because of laughter. This went on for about 2 minutes of straight laughing. Finally after about ten minutes Elder Schoonover regained control of his faculties and we all sat there holding our sides because we all gave ourselves cramps from laughing so hard. But it wasn't over after that, as if on cue, everyone turned on me, like sharks to bleeding prey. Boom! Suddenly I was now sitting there with 3 chiles in hand and being pummeled by peer pressure and MY pride kicked in and I put all 3 chiles in my mouth and I chewed and chewed and chewed and swallowed and I sat there. I Waited and I waited some more. Nothing. I was Dumbfounded. These things had destroyed me the day before and now I felt nothing? I thought hmm...I must be more manly than I thought. Feeling pretty high of myself I looked at everyone around me who were in turn looking intently at me and I said "nothing happened." There were groans thrown out by the pack of hyenas gathered around me and I thought...."hah! That's what they get for doubting my yankee abilities!" They started looking for their next victim and I continued to sit there. Suddenly I felt something growing from the back of my mouth. It was NOT a pleasant feeling. I felt it creep up slowly and slowly and spread. And then this feeling started getting more powerful and more powerful and I started to realize, by and by, that this uhhh... this hurt, like Hurt hurt!!! That's right. Those bad word peppers had a delayed reaction. And they were coming at me with a fiery fury!!! I was looking all around me, looking for an escape route from this horrible mistake, but all I succeeded in doing was drawing the attention of those whom I had once called my friends. The first to notice my panic was Belen who pointed and exclaimed loudly "It Worked!!" All attention was now on Elder Porter and they had found me at the peak of my internal pain. They wasted no time in laughing at my expense as I sat there, face beat red and at the edge of oblivion. As my tongue slowly melted inside my mouth, I looked left and right for a hint of compassion from these my fellow servants and found none. Just pure enjoyment and mirth. Karma! I am grateful that I was able to give these people such pleasure in their lives. After I quenched the fire of death from my face, they immediately began looking for another victim. The dare then went to Elder Salmon, Gerardo and Elder Rojas. It took a lot of coaxing but we managed to make them eat a chile as well. Gerardo was first. He ate his Chile bravely, but he is a full grown man so he wasn't bothered to much by it. Then elder salmon went into the ring of fire and came out a little charred but unscathed. Finally Elder Rojas put the chile shaped Death in his mouth and it was almost the end of him. He is REALLY not accustomed to hot food and as the magma chile started fulfilling it purpose in Elder Rojas, I thought, for almost a moment, that we had just killed my companion. He reacted horribly and we may have traumatized him for life!  It was Hilarious. I was dying of laughter and so were my fellow cohorts as we watched Elder Rojas cling to life. It was HILARIOUS. After wards when we had all recovered and mentally proclaimed never to eat  a chile again. We shared a scripture about the importance of families and left before they made us eat something else crazy dumb. 

I'm sorry i don't have time to write about much else this week but I want to share my testimony about the danger of pride. Pride is the opposite of humility and humility is neccessary to allign our will with Gods will. We all need to remain humble at all times so that we can be ready to perform Gods Will. Pride will only lead to fiery, painful eternal fire and regret. 

I love you guys. 
Elder Ren Porter.

P.S. Great Object lesson, No?

Elder schoonover in the grips of "bad word" chile pain.
Our little group at Yolandas house. I'm in the very back, looking like a creepy stalker.

This lovely graffiti is an american eagle being shot at by the nice people of argentina, next to it we observe a vulture painted like the american flag above the vein of central america, which connects to a giant heart, which is south america! Should I be more scared of this area than I am?
Zone conference
Me and some missionary friends