Saturday, February 27, 2016

"Flash" Transfer (week 14)

Okay, so BIG news this week. Elder Ortolano got "flashed", which means that he got randomly transfered to another area with one day's notice. It's usually because of an emergency and in this case it was because My New companion Elder Rojas hurt himself while using the bikes out in the "Campos" (farm fields and far out skirts) and he needed to go somewhere where they don't use bikes! And guess what? We don't use bikes in my area, because if you used bikes here you´d totally get robbed!! So i got a new companion this Tuesday. He is from Spain and he barely speaks any English, which has been interesting, because I barely speak any Spanish! Ha! But it'll be good for me because it'll basically force me to learn Spanish. He's been out for 17 months. We have had some difficulties though....
1) I realize now I don't know my area as well as I thought (ha) 2) My companion speaks SUPER FAST spanish. It's so fast that sometimes even the people here don't understand him. 3) I had to run my area and that involves describing Investigators to my new comp and also actually getting to the lessons. 

Though its really embarrassing that after 6 weeks I still get lost in my area I´ve kind of accepted the fact that I´m like a baby horse trying to walk for the first time. For example, every time we have been out looking for the houses of our investigators Elder Rojas always asks me "are we close"? and I say back, "Uhh....No clue Elder Rojas!" haha. I pray for Elder Rojas every night to have patience with me. Elder Rojas is still getting use to our new area. He is used to being in the more rural/farmland area of our mission and There is alot more gang work (trying to make friends with and teach dangerous gang members) than he is use to and alot more garbage and alot more noise and alot more trees. I'm used to it though. I love our area. We have a pretty big area.  There are some really rich areas and there is some really poor areas as well. the Poor areas are more effective to missionary work and that is usually where we find investigators and the Cheto (rich) areas are almost dead zones. Especially during Ciesta (the argentinian nap time). 

We have had some good lessons this week though and Im super excited to see what happens in the next couple of weeks. I've learned alot already from Elder Rojas and there is a whole lot more to learn from him I know. Yesterday was especially exciting because we had 5 investigators in church.

There are cookies sold here called toddys and they are really good and our pinch (group/house) is not the best at working out in the morning like we should. We usually just stretch and stuff, So we made a contract to workout and our incentive is that we get to eat toddys. 

My mom said that some people on Facebook were worried for their missionaries because a few elders had complained that they didn't have enough money each week to buy food. This was kind of funny to me. There is NEVER enough money because we are a bunch of guys who use money foolishly!!! But that's our fault, not the missions fault. i'm good though. I get enough because I dont need cheto stuff (expensive stuff) i just buy the off-off-brand and live off it. Also it doesn't matter what I do or eat because I always lose weight. I ate three square meals a day (with thirds and fourths every meal) at the MTC and I still lost 2 lbs in the MTC!!! So don't worry about me mom. I'm fine. 

Also, I'm not playing the piano in Sacrament anymore because the bishop told his wife that she had to play because I need to sit with my investigators. Which is true, but it was pretty funny. The bishops wife told me she and I HAD to switch off playing every week and now the bishop told HER she had to play every week (no switching off). It was a little uncomfortable. I felt like I was caught in the middle of a tug-o-war. Haha. I did tell her that if she ever was sick or needed help, that I would fill in for her. I guess I have to say the same thing Cole said a few months after he got to Tahiti....thanks for making me stick with the piano mom and dad, even though I complained and complained and complained!!!!

Something important I learned this week was concerning goals. I've set many goals for myself to improve myself and I realize now that it is also important to make goals that improve my strengths as well as my weaknesses. It can become discouraging to always pray that Heavenly Father will show me my weaknesses and I know He doesn't want me to be discouraged. We have all been given different strengths and gifts and we should pray to know what those are as well. Being able to know some of my strengths gives me hope and encouragement. I can build on the gifts I've been given and use them on my mission and to bless others around me. Then when face to face with my multitude of weaknesses, I feel my Saviors love for me and His desire for me to work on those things as well. But somehow, being shown my weaknesses, while tempered with some strengths, fills me with hope rather than discouragement. Overcoming weaknesses seems do-able, rather than impossible. As my mom ALWAYS says "I can do hard things". I can work on improving my strengths, while also working on improving my weaknesses. It makes me think of a poem I had tacked onto my ceiling at home before my mission. I read it over and over again. 

By William earnest Henley

Out of the night that covers me, 
Black as the pit from pole to pole, 
I thank whatever gods may be 
For my unconquerable soul. 

In the fell clutch of circumstance 
 I have not winced nor cried aloud. 
Under the bludgeonings of chance 
My head is bloody, but unbowed. 

Beyond this place of wrath and tears 
 Looms but the Horror of the shade, 
And yet the menace of the years 
Finds and shall find me unafraid. 

It matters not how strait the gate, 
How charged with punishments the scroll, 
I am the master of my fate, 
 I am the captain of my soul. 

I love you guys. Ill see you when is see you.
Elder Ren Porter
Me and Elder Oakes (both sitting down) and my new comp Elder Rojas and Elder Schoonover (standing behind us)
Me signing our house contract to workout everyday so we can buy Toddy cookies

First baptism (week 13)

Okay, so this week was amazing because Our 17 year old investigator (Franko) that we met while just asking him for directions on the street was baptized this week! It was my first baptism of my mission! cool stuff. Franko didn't have a white shirt so I got to give him one of mine. Franko is such a capo. He is even thinking about going on a mission soon which is totally fantastic because he would be such a great missionary. We watched a video after the Baptism about the restoration that was super powerful and Franko's mom felt the spirit from it so we hope to start teaching her soon. I also learned that baptisms are a little less "formal" here than I'm used to. One of the members of the ward who spoke at the baptism showed up wearing swim shorts and crocs. And the member who baptized Franko was 30 minutes late and showed up wearing street clothes so we had to get him changed real quick. 

We just found out as well that Elder Bednar is coming to our mission to speak to us. I'm SO grateful that he doesn't know spanish so i get to actually listen and get enlightened  for once haha. My comp is SUPER excited because he loves Elder Bednar.

My Spanish IS getting better though. I can understand people when they talk much more than before. Unfortunately, when I try to talk, the people here just make weird/confused faces and then look to my companion for a translation of what the tall, skinny gringo just tried to say. But I won't give up!!!

Oh! Someone tried to rob us the other day, but my comp and I just acted like we didn't hear him, turned around and walked away with determination...quickly!!

Also, I see a lot of people doing wheelies on their motorcycles in the middle the of suburbs, which is hilarious to me.

My Spiritual thought is this, prayer is super important so if you want to take advantage of the blessings you have to work hard for them. Study out what you're going to say beforehand (D&C 9:7-9) and say it with feeling and then wait for an answer. Also I would suggest reading Jesus The Christ, its a super good book.

Well, I'm out of time. I have to go get a haircut. As you will see in my pictures below, my hair grows straight out of my head like a chia pet. It's driving my mom crazy to see the pictures of it. Haha.

Have a great week!
Elder Ren Porter

Elder Ortolano, Franko, Franko's mom and me
Elder Ortolano, Kevin (the member who baptized Franko) and me

Saturday, February 13, 2016

After the trial of your faith (week 12)

Okay, so this week. This week was something special! To me this week has been a huge testimony builder of the truthfullness of the scripture Ether 12:6 " I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith".

So first off, this week was super hot and humid (like usual) but for some reason it just felt so much worse. This is probably because we were walking around everywhere trying to find someone to teach but everyone we met was busy or was "already religious". And when we leave the house in the morning we can only take one water bottle each and within ten minutes of walking around, you feel like you've already sweat out a gallon of water, so I'm constantly thirsty. Unfortunately, most houses that are kind enough to give us a drink don't give us water (drinkable water is hard to come by here) they give us soda, which is good, but is something I'm not only allergic to but also doesn't quite quench your thirst. So that's been a big adjustment. I've never been so grateful for the clean water we have in America!
Have I mentioned there are A LOT of dogs here! I know I have, but just In case you've forgotten, there are a RIDICULOUS amount of random dogs here! And they hate us! It's like they've been trained to seek and destroy missionaries! So during the week A Dalmatian dog almost tried to rip my Comps hand off (aren't Dalmatian's suppose to be nice dogs?) and would have gotten me too if I hadn't ripped off my bag and started swinging. The dogs here come in every shape and size. I've seen Chihuahuas, Rottweilers, St. Bernard, greyhound, husky, german shepard, Dalmatian, boxer, pug, mug, bull, and a host of others I don't even know what they are. But the ones I love the most are the chihuahuas because, apparently, they rule supreme down here. They come in all sorts of diversities. I've seen a golden retriever/chihuahua mix, Dalmatian/chihuahua  mix, Rottweiler/chihuahua mix, and a chihuahua that looked like it got loose in side a cheetoh's factory. Very Weird, unnatural stuff!!!
Oh yah it rained yesterday too and the streets totally turned into rivers. I know now why we had to bring giant irrigation boots with us! It was awesome.  Luckily we were in a lesson during the brunt of the storm so after we left, we only got a little soaked, but the other elders were totally drenched.

 It was also the end of the first transfers yesterday!!! This past 6 weeks has been simultaneously, breathtakingly fast and cold syrupy slow. But the verdict is that I get to stay here in Villa Tesei for another 6 weeks and with Elder Ortolano again too. I guess his "never wrong" "feeling" that he was getting transferred was wrong! I'm super happy about staying because the people here are so amazing and I'm super excited for the investigators here. This kid named Franko we are working with had his baptismal interview this week and he passed with flying colors. This kid is so awesome becuase he is 17 and we found him so randomly, although nothing's really "random" in missionary work, is it. We needed directions somewhere and we stopped him on the street to ask how to get where we needed to go. From there we started talking and then started teaching him. He is already thinking of going on a mission and he's pretty good at futbol too (not that I'd know anything about futbol! But others have told me he's good.) We are also working with this lady named yamila who has a daughter and she is awesome because she told us she is not an emotional lady but she crys whenever she goes to church and in every lesson so far because she feels the spirit so strongly. MAN!!!! She is so awesome and Franko too and there is so many other capo (FANTASTICALLY AWESOME) people here.

 But anyway back to "trial" talk.... so this week was hot. Also there was fast Sunday. We started our fast after lunch on Saturday and we would end it on lunch the next day. Sounds easy right? Its mas o menos. I think it must have been an hour after we started our fast on Saturday that I started getting thirsty again. And I had drained a whole liter of water in preparation for our fast, right before we started.  Immediately I'm thinking "oh dang, this is going to be horrible"! I could not stop thinking about water for like hours. All I could think was selfish and negative thoughts. And it was horrible. I could not get the right attitude. I was getting extremely frustrated with myself because of my attitude. I was angry that I could not shake the stupor of cynicism. Then I began to be afraid as well. I was afraid because I was fasting for a reason and that reason was important. I was fasting so that I could have the Spirit with me in the lessons. I needed this for the investigators and I knew that if I continued this fast with my current attitude, it would all have been for naught. So I did whatever I could to distract myself. I sang hymns in my head, thought of scriptures, read from the scriptures, and read restoration Pamphlets. The last one worked the best because it said lot of good reasons why the restoration was important and helped me get into gear for the upcoming lessons. And I also prayed alot in my heart. I prayed as earnestly as I could. This was the make it or break it time. It helped to distract myself from my thirst. Also starting into the lesson and teaching helped because I didn't have the opportunity at that point to think about myself. I got to put all my attention on this Child of God and see if I could help. The people we taught that day were definitely answers to my prayers. Not for that reason alone though. It was also because of a goal I have. I have been reading from the Book of Mormon lately the history of the Sons of Mosiah and Alma and I love the words they use to describe there demeanor towards service, they were "instruments in the Lords Hands" and they were "zealous" workers in the extreme. I admire that so much and I want to be like that. This week has shown me more fully how I can achieve my goal. So there is the Trial but what was the Witness? The witness came by the Spirit while I was reading some scriptures. I know now how I can acheive this goal. It is through the development of charity withing myself. If you read the definition of Charity in Moroni 7:45-48  it says, 45: And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

46 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail--

47 But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.

48 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen. 

This shows the obvious and simple way to be a profitable servant of the Lord and I received this personal revelation from God through the Spirit. It was such a direct answer to the question I was pondering and so powerful of a feeling from the Holy Ghost straight to my spirit that I cannot deny that it came from God. And I was blessed for my fasting. I know that it is true and this is my Witness, that God does care about me and how I work here because I know He loves the people here. And though I'm so imperfect and have so much to learn, I am exceedingly grateful that my Father in Heaven has blessed me with guidance to further my progression here and to help others in the future. I know that God Lives and I know that He is my Father.

Thanks for all your awesome emails guys!!! 
 Elder Ren porter

Thursday, February 4, 2016

I know the Gospel is true (week 11)

This week was awesome just like all the other weeks here. Dogs keep barking at us and trying to bite us and I just yell at them to get away from me like some sort of crazy mormon. Me and elder Ortolano have fun in between appointments and lessons by talking with accents and I can do a really good irish accent in Spanish! It's funny because elder Ortolano said when I speak Spanish in "me Irish brogue" that my pronunciation gets better. So I've been busting out an irish accent during lessons when people aren't understanding me and it seems to help, weird, I know.  Although, during one contact we made I laid on the accent a little to heavy and the contact started laughing at me so we ended that contact fast with a card and went along our merry way. We laughed once we were out of ear shot, funny stuff. I've also been amusing my fellow elders in the apartment by reading the book of revelation with my new found irish accent.

I've also been working on my cooking skills this week. This week I made fried ravioli with no sauce or any other flavoring actually haha and I called it the ´´wows´´ because they were surprisingly good and I couldn't help but say "wow" when ever I ate one. I also made a hot dog and cheese taco. I called it "super pancho suaves" which translated here means "super smooth hot dog" haha, weird stuff.

A member of the 70 came to our ward yesterday and he gave an amazing talk to my investigators during sacrament meeting. But me being me, I  didn't even he was a 70 until my comp told me a couple hours later haha. It was awesome. I even shook hands with him, but, I have no idea what his name was. 

On a missionary work note, we got 4 investigators at church yesterday. I was so happy I thought I was dreaming. Two of them have baptismal dates set and the other two are a couple who are a part of this really big family. I know that because they came to church the rest of the family is going to be helped so much. One of the investigators with a baptismal date is this super awesome kid. We were running out of time to teach him all the lessons so we just taught him four lessons in 2 days haha but his faith is so strong. And the other investigator is this super stellar lady who is ready for this church. You can see it on her face that she just hungers for the change the gospel will bring into her life.

This is the last week before transfers and Elder Ortolano says he is getting transferred because he has  a ´´feeling´´ and his ´´feeling´´ is never wrong and all I can think is shoot, if he leaves i'll never be able to find my investigators again!! I have no idea how to navigate this area. I'm completely clueless with or without my map. But at the same time I'm just thinking well...I'll do my best and God will help me with the rest. But we still don't know yet what's going to happen, so I could be the one transferred this next week which I will be super bummed about because this area is awesome!!! The people are super nice and the area is nice and the smells are so unique and the people we are teaching right now are so fantastic and I want to see them make it all the way. I guess this is how all missionaries feel.

This week was really great because I got to learn about retaining a good attitude and an enthusiastic attitude.  We don't knock on doors here, we clap outside the door. So we clapped at a lot of doors this week and we received alot of rejection, but every now and then we would receive an invitation to come back. Getting rejected so much makes it so much sweeter when someone decides to accept us. Great stuff. A good attiude is the most important thing during missionary work, I feel like, because there is alot of things that will try to tear you down but you just have to laugh and keep going. I know this church is true and I will do everything I can to let other people know.  I know this church is true. That much is irrefutable and I know that the gospel plan is perfect. So why is there reason to fear or sorrow. I know who I am. I know why I am here. I know where I am going. When I know this, nothing seems a struggle anymore. I love it here in Argentina. The people here are fantastic and I know God is preparing people for me right now to find and teach through the Holy Ghost.  I pray that that day will come quick so that I can fill the measure of my purpose here and help those people who have been waiting for me. I love this church and this gospel and I'm so grateful to be here. 

Elder Ren Porter
The local scenery
Walking and walking and walking!
My roommate loves to make these Indian fry bread things! I'm totally allergic to them, but they're delicious.

Comfort zone (week 10)

This is going to be a really short email. We're super busy and don't have a lot of time. Sorry. So this week was super hot ( again) and fun. Me and elder ortolano just sing and make up random games and ryhmes to pass the time while we're walking around. Also, my whistling skills are ever present!

I had to wash my own clothes this week in a bucket, which is definitely journal worthy. 

We also had a baptism this week for an investigator of one of the other elders that lives with me and Elder Ortolano. I had to play the piano music during that time. And I had to  play the interlude music after the baptism but it took a long time for the investigator to come back out so I ended up playing for like 15 minutes straight!! Also, The bishops wife is the only other person who knows how to play piano and I guess she decided that she and I are taking turns every Sunday being the ward pianist. Good thing I'd been practicing the hymns for the last year!!! 

Oh! We found a giant cardboard Book of Mormon at the ward building. We thought it was awesome AND hilarious. It was so random and we have no idea where it came from. This has provided us with much entertainment (as you shall see in the pictures and video we made)! But not much else happened this week. 

So lets get down to the nitty gritty. My spiritual thoughts this week. I've been trying to figure out how to be the best I can be out here in the mission field. I have found the most growth comes from coming out of my comfort zone or maybe I should say taking a leap of faith. Such as talking to strangers, knocking strangers doors, trying to preach the gospel in Spanish that is somewhat intelligible, and sharing my spirit and testimony. This is a challenge for me. I'm a naturally introverted type person, but, I want to be the best I can be. I have done alot of new things lately and I've been able to see myself react to these different situations and have been able to see more clearly the things I need to improve upon. And it's very clear that I've got lots to improve on. Thank goodness for that. This life would be so boring if I had nothing to do but sit around being perfect, haha. In short, growth comes from coming out of your comfort zone and you find these opportunities to come out of your comfort zone in different circumstances in life and its in those circumstances that we reveal ourselves to ourselves, whether good or bad. Only then can we start to change our weaknesses into strengths and improve and refine the strengths or talents we already have. I hope that made sense. Sorry, but I'm out of time. I wish I could talk about this more. I also had some really amazing spiritual experiences everyday this week that I'd love to share with you. Maybe next week. 

By the way, the book "Jesus the Christ" is the most crazy, awesome, amazing book!!! I remember trying to read it before my mission. After a few pages I thought "I'll never be able to read this thing". I'm so glad I didn't give up. I highly suggest you all read it, if you haven't already. 

Also, my camera is working now so you'll get to see several pictures of my new haircut, courtesy of Elder Schoonover, who had no idea what he was doing. (Sorry mom)!!

Talk to you next week,
Elder ren porter 
Me, my haircut, elder Ortolano and our other roommates.
Not sure "moron" means the same thing in Argentina as it does in America.
The chapel in our ward building.
The giant Book of Mormon we found.
Me, my haircut, and all my buddies from the MTC!