Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Letter 49 - 3/25/11

Almost everything in the last couple of weeks has been about the office. We are having a
baptism though! Finally! His name is Byron and is awesome! I always loved visiting him, but
I never mentioned him before because he wasn´t coming to church. He now completed the
requirement and is super repentant and has progressed leaps and bounds. He has truly changed
a lot to be able to live according to the commandments. There´s been a full change in his
countenance. When I saw his face this last Sunday he was beaming. He normally has a mohawk,
but did a come-over for church. We were talking before his interview about how he has felt
during the lessons, reading the Book of Mormon, and attending church. He replied that he has
felt a peace and a happiness that he hasn´t felt in any other part of the world. (GOLDEN) He´ll
be 18 next month and will be able to start going on visits with us. He´s a really great kid, and it´s
such a blessing to have known him and given him the chance to have repentance and baptism in
his life.

This week we´ve had come training meetings. They were great. We lost time in the sector a little,
which kinda miffed me, but they were really useful. They were techniques that I wanted to apply
from the MTC, but because of tradition I didn´t really experiment with it. We used one of them
Thursday night and it went great. All it really is, is getting to know someone/befriending them
then sharing the Book of Mormon with them according to their needs. The Spirit was very strong
in that visit, and I know that the investigator felt something that night. I´m excited to be able to
put this in full practice after the office and see how much success it can bring. What I like the
most about this is that we can much more easily express that we care about them. They are then
able to feel that love that comes from our charity, and with that are more likely to read the Book
of Mormon.

I really know the Book of Mormon is true. I feel it every time I read it. I don´t have a borrowed
testimony. Every time I read it I regain and refresh my testimony. I love and hold precious all the
knowledge it has given me. I know that it will bring peace and comfort to all those who read, be
it member or not. I especially invite all of my friends and family who don´t know the Book of
Mormon, to read it. It will bless your life incredibly because it was written for you. It applies to
your life, and you need it.

I love you all very much. Have another great week

Elder Vuinovic

Letter 48 - 3/19/11

Hey. This is a quick one this week. I don´t have a lot of time. I´m really sorry. It´s been a pretty
stressful week, we´ve had people that have had to stay in the office for various reasons and
playing babysitter isn´t fun. We´ve been running around everywhere this week, which has been
fairly stressful as well. Angelo won´t be getting baptized this week because he told us his parents
were signing the permission slip, but when we had him go get it for us he told us his Dad hadn´t
signed yet and didn´t want him to get baptized. So we have an appointment tonight to go talk to
the Dad to see if he can be baptized next week.

The good news is that we have been able to find new investigators this week and have been
able to put baptismal dates. One of them is a guy that is 20 and accepted his baptismal date like
nothing else. He truly is ready. He just needed to find us, which was by complete "accident". His
name in Ruben Ruiz, his girlfriend is a member and the mom of his girlfriend wants him to go on
a mission. So... we have some good work to do. In spite of how stressed and uptight I feel in the
office, without fail when we get to our sector I feel so much better. We have some great people
that I know will get baptized. So I look forward to be able to work with them every day. I only
wish we had enough time to be able to give them the proper follow up I deserve.

This week I had to do visa renewals. One of the greenies that got here at the start of this change
came because his comp was renewing his visa. I saw that he kinda looked down so I asked him
how he was doing. He dawdled a bit in his response and I knew that he was thinking of how to
phrase it. He responded that it was tough and was working on how to get through it. I could see
in his eyes exactly how I felt at the start of my mission. It was one of the few times I felt alone
in my life. I was so far away from home, and no one knew who I was. I expressed some feelings
that I had and they were exactly how he felt. I told him that it sounds cliche, but as you work and
give it all for the people you become completely filled with a love that fills up all emptiness that
one would feel. President Johns told me to serve with charity and then things would come clear.
I felt at first that it was just a generic response he gave me, maybe because he didn´t know me
well. What I found was that he was 100% correct. As I made it about other people it became all
about me and I received a mountain of blessings and felt a sincere love for all those I served. I
then invited him to do the same and to keep his chin up looking forward. It´s tough. Especially
accepting some of the assignments the Lord gives us, but as we work our best to fulfill them and
to learn we receive everything he has for us.

I love you all a ton, and hope this upcoming week is a great one.

Elder Vuinovic

PS- I like this one a lot. Save it for me.

You Will Be Freed

Letter 47 - 3/12/11

That´s crazy that The coast got whooped like that. We got absolutely nothing out of the Tsunami.
Zilch. The President took HUGE safety measures, but we didn´t get anything. We had so many
plans for that day as well. I was really sad, but we had a really good training meeting. I felt like I
did learn important things from it, but I´m a little worried that the drawback will be cramming to
get our baptisms in.

My one year mark...... I´d rather not talk about it. I know what you mean though, and it´s
exactly what I´ve been feeling. It´ll go by fast. It´s inevitable. I just want to make sure that I do
everything I possibly can in that short amount of time. I´ll just play it out as it goes. I don´t want
to talk about it much more. Saying 1 year instead of how many months kinda trips me out.

This week has been very busy with doing things for the people who ended their mission and the
new missionaries. It´s always a great experience to welcome in new missionaries. They´re a lot
of fun. This group seems like a really great group too. There´s something very simple and sincere
that I like about them. One cool thing about my job is that I can keep tabs on people. I do it all
the time with Elder Shannon. It´ll be great to see how this missionaries progress while I have the
time to watch them. I think the new missionaries are my favorite part of being secretary.

We have two baptisms coming up this next week, but we need to do a lot to assure them. It´s
been tough this week and I want them to be well prepared; not a rushed experience for them that
leaves them questioning what happened. So we are going to be focusing a lot them. If you could
keep them in your prayers I know it will help out a ton. They´re called Byron and Angelo. They
really need the prayers to make sure that everything goes smoothly. They really don´t have any
problems. They´re great kids.

Well that´s about it. Not a whole lot that´s adventurous from this week. I´ll have more time
in my sector next week I hope so I´ll have a whole lot more to tell you.

I love you all very much. I truly hope that all is well, and that God blesses you all during this
next week.


Elder Vuinovic

Letter 46 - 3/5/11

This is how missionary work should be. Make sure the all of the youth see this. There are so
many good people on our town waiting for this, and starting with the youth will get our ward a
great boost.

Inviting All to Come unto Christ Sharing the Gospel

That video is everything that our ward should be and can be. I just imagine how powerful
the youth program is and how much more it really can be. They´re not just youth. They´re a
potential mode for the salvation of their friends.

We did have the baptism of Alex this week. I felt terrible because we had scheduled everything
with the ward so we could show up after the adult session of stake conference, have the baptism,
and we would go and make it home before curfew.

Well we show up early to make sure everything was actually set up, and it wasn´t. Elder Silva
and I were looking desperately for the spigot that emptied the font. Nope. so we wait and the
bishop get there and we find out it was broken. So what do we do?...... We take it out bucket by
bucket - AGAIN!!! I don´t know what´s wrong with me. It´s a terrible curse I have. But he did
get baptized, because we weren´t going to make him wait again, which made his family very
happy; especially his daughter. I had to baptize him in about two feet of water, because there
jsut wasn´t any more time. I basic laid him down on the ground then lifted him back up again.
He´s doing great. He totally had the missionary spirit, and we´re going to work so he has that
spirit forever. He gave us a reference this week and said, "Well that´s the idea right? Now that
I have this I need to share it with other people." I found I had dirt in my mouth because my jaw
was on the floor. I can´t understand it. It´s like he was perfectly programmed with an instinctive
knowledge of the commandments, and had only been looking for the church that would reteach it
to him.

During the week I was pondering some things; principally about something that Elder Villalba,
the materials secretary, said. He said that he had heard that we as missionaries are not here to
have spiritual experiences. Rather, we are here to help others have spiritual experiences. That,
of course, made me think about Alex. I thought, "During his spiritual experience I had one of
the greatest of my life." Which made me think of why. Truly watching Alex go through the
repentance process gave me a true and firm testimony of the Atonement of Christ. I had already
had a testimony of the Atonement. I have felt the immense power that envelopes he who has that
true repentance. The difference is that what I saw in Alex confirmed what I had previously felt
in my own life. I saw it with my own eyes. I watched as the hand of God worked in his life and
blessed him with the remission of his sins. And as such a case I don´t believe I can say I merely
have a testimony of the power of repentance, rather, a knowledge. I know what I saw and I saw
a man embrace true and full happiness through the Atonement of Christ. The light of personage
is now exceedingly bright, and I can stand before any man and testify that I know of the power
of the Atonement of Christ and that he is our Savior. It is now impossible to deny or doubt these
teachings, because I truly know they are true. It gives me great happiness to be able to say this to
all of my loved ones, and I hope that all may be able to exercise even a drop of faith to be able

know of the same things that I do. I promise great happiness as a result of such a trial of faith.

I love you all so much and hope you have a great another great week. (I finish a year this week.
Yikes!!) - Elder Vuinovic

Letter 45 - 2/26/11

Hey Fam!

I know I´m writing a little earlier than normal. I want to be able to write a lot of letters today
so we´re doing all of the basic stuff early. fun story. Our washer broke. So NO ONE has clean
clothes. We´re scraping to the depths of our suitcases to find something to cover ourselves. The
down side of being in the office is that you don´t get all the cool stuff that the other missionaries
get from the wards. For example, lunches with them or sisters that wash your clothes. It´s getting
fixed today so we´ll see when it gets back. As for right now I´m wearing a garment top from an
elder half my size. I´m sure you can imagine how that feels. Haha!

As far as the week goes we´ve done pretty well. We haven´t found a lot of new people or had
a ton of lessons because we are trying to bring a lot of people to the stake conference this
weekend. President Montalti will be there to speak specifically to the investigators. I´m really
hoping to be able to bring a lot. We´ve organized really well with the ward, but with the little
time we have we can´t do everything so we´re going to keep inviting people throughout today
and we´ll see what happens tomorrow.

Alex is getting baptized today! Can I get a “what what!!!!” He is SO stoked, and so am I. He´s
one that has made the long walk of repentance. Watching him has uplifted me show much and
given me even more of a testimony of the power of repentance. To add on to how great of a day
this is, the weather is absolutely beautiful. It´s one of those Saturday mornings were there´s a
good breeze. It´s warm, but not hot. Much like a Saturday morning baseball day towards the end
of the season. yup.... kinda like that. Gorgeous.

The Book of Mormon continues to amaze me. I´ve learned more in Spanish than I have in my
native language. I think it´s because at the beginning a few scriptures caught my eye about
the purpose of the Book of Mormon, to convert the Lamanites to believe in Christ and repent.
After that I looked deeper into that purpose and what it was saying to convert the Lamanites.
It´s absolutely amazing, especially the scriptures that prophecy about its coming to the light
in these days. The most recent, as in this morning was something in Ether 11. First of all, the
Ether chapters from about 6 and onward can appear to be a genealogy of wicked rulers and
nothing else, right as I started thinking that I realized some cool scriptures. Today it was chapter
11 verses 8 and 20. Verse 8 says that as long as the people repent God will show them Mercy,
but in 20 we see that if they deny repentance God will have to exercise Justice. Lightbulb! I
remembered Alma 34 13-17. Which fully explains the relationship between mercy and justice.
This chapter was just a chapter to show how it plays out in real life. When the Jaredites repented
all was well because they had the mercies of the Lord, but when they had forgotten those things
they were smitten with a perfect justice. Great isn´t it? There´s always something to be learned in
the scriptures. Especially the Book of Mormon.

I love you all very much and pray that all is well, and that you have a great week. btw? what´s
the haps with Dad´s certificate. Anyway, loves!

Elder Vuinovic
PS- Watch this video

Absolutely incredible. I cried when I saw it. Twice. I have such a grown appreciation for the
temple. I can´t wait to go there some day for mission 2.0 haha!
Kyiv Ukraine Temple Cultural Celebration

Letter 44 - 2/19/11

NOOOOOOOOOO....... Kelsey´s getting married. Freak, that´s why she never wrote back. She
told me she´d be single when I got back. Haha! I figured she wouldn´t last long anyway.

Thank you so much for your letter. It feels SO great to hear about your health and the progress of
the boys. To be honest I´m not feeling very well, and it´s going to be a very short letter.

In short, Alex and Christian aren´t getting baptized this week. I´m very, very upset about
that. There were problems in the baptismal interview that they didn´t tell us when we asked
them the questions. I felt like dirt. It was a rough week. I know that Satan was working HARD
against us. I know we tried to stay organized, but it slipped by. We couldn´t do anything about
it because it was last minute. They´re so sad. Alex has cried two times that I know of. When
I talked to him today he started apologizing for not being able to be baptized this week. He
said, "I´m so sorry it´s just when he asked me the question I felt like I couldn´t tell him no. I had
to tell him the truth." I wanted to cry with just those words. He thought he couldn´t be baptized
at all. I reassured him that all will be fine, and that the fact that he felt that way was a good
thing. It means he´s truly repentant and that he sincerely in every way wants to follow Christ. He
deserves this baptism more than anyone I know. I don´t think I´ve ever seen anyone so repentant
in my life. It´s really hard to have to watch someone you love like that have to suffer. It´s been
really hard. Not to mention Christian, who was so excited, but the Zone leaders didn´t tell him
it was a no. So who had to call him afterwards and spoil it? Us. He´ll get there though. We´re
going to go talk to him today. I want them to be baptized not for the number but because they
are repentant people looking to follow Christ. Not meeting the goal is such a secondary (not even
secondary) thought.

One good thing that happened was that when we were talking to Alex earlier in the week he was
talking about the truthfulness of the Church and he said, "This is it. This is the truth. Everything
I´ve seen in this church is everything that´s in the scriptures. It´s a completely selfless work. If
this isn´t it nothing else is." I really love that man. He´s the miracle story that every missionary
wants to have in their mission. I´m going to keep fighting for him. I know he´ll make it.

I´m going to go for now family. I love you a lot, but I´m kinda out of it. Take care and have a
great week.

You´re in my prayers

Elder Vuinovic

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Letter 43 - 2/14/11

Happy Valentine´s Day everyone!!! I hope it´s a great day for all of you. I´m sure it´ll be terrible for all missionaries in Latin America. The culture already doesn´t have any problems with public displays of affection and a holiday dedicated to love is an open invitation. The truth is, yesterday when an investigator mentioned that Valentine´s Day was coming up I froze. I was a crazy shocked that almost made my heart skip a beat. I remember exactly what I did last year during Valentine´s Day. It seemed so close but a year has gone by since then. I couldn´t accept that a year of my mission has almost finished. I really don´t want to. It was a frightening splash of reality, but at the same time nostalgic because I remember everything I did that Saturday night and Sunday while I was out visiting in Utah. I´ve developed this fear of time while being in the office. I´m slowly realizing how much time goes by and that with the little time I so have to teach I don´t want to waste it. At times I feel like I´m battling with nothing. As if there wasn´t any time and we have to get results anyway. With those feelings I have learned that God really does guide his work. I doubt that boys like us could turn out results with such little time. So more than anything it´s a blessing.

Last week I didn´t have time to put something in the letter. First of all, I saw Erick Sanchez, the investigator who got shot the week of his baptism. Elder Shannon and his comp Elder Arevalo came to the office one day and brought Erick with them. Man it was SO great to see him. I gave him a huge hug. He was all dressed up because he accompanies the missionaries on visits. He´s also getting ready to go on a mission. How awesome would that be to have a convert in the mission field before I even finish my mission? I think he might go out a little bit after I finish, but it´s a possibility.

I saw Hermana Ampuño this week. I knew that she was coming here because her sister is getting married. Élder Silva and I were walking over to the Civil Registry to withdraw some passports. I saw that we were getting a call from Juan Ampuño. I answered thinking he was going to ask if we needed his help. When I said hello Hermana Ampuño responded. I literally stopped dead in my tracks. I couldn´t even respond. She asked if anyone was there because I couldn´t speak. I responded that I was Elder Vuinovic, but couldn´t say much more. Later we needed Juan to help us out with a few appointments, so hna Ampuño came too. It was so crazy to see her! I loved the MTC so much. Everyone I met there helped me out in so many ways to be ready for the mission. I truly owe them a lot. Not to mention I had the best teachers in the world while I was there. I dare anyone to try and challenge me on that. Haha!

Christian Sari is an investigator that has a baptismal date this next week. Monday we went over to his house to teach him and we found him very sad. He was a little mopey so we asked him how he was doing. He told us that he fell, and that he had gotten drunk with some friends on Sunday. He really didn´t want to go. He was refusing, but he´s a little slow, so with time he gave in and just went with them. He told us that they weren´t true friends, and that he wasn´t going to hang out with them anymore. As he told about what happened we saw how repentant he was. I was touched to see how much he wanted to change. He told us that the next morning he felt terrible and repented by kneeling and praying. We taught the plan of salvation with the Word of Wisdom, and went over the part about our lives on earth, that we need to overcome the obstacles that we will face. It was a really great lesson, and I was honored to be of help to him in his path of repentance.

Something I´ve learned, more like realized, is how much I´ve learned about love. Nothing romantic, rather a true and eternal love. One day, I was sitting my room, at my desk, thinking. I felt really crappy because I felt like just cubicle slave, with little importance. Being able to look back on my time in the mission I realized how many people that have become a part of my life and how much I truly love them. Not just a casual love because we hang out and do cool things, rather a love that came from service and from having lived the Gospel in our lives. Understanding this I became very grateful for what I have received, and realized that I didn´t comprehend what love really was before my mission. Just know that I truly do love you all, truly.

In my scripture study this week we found a BOATLOAD of great scriptures. One that I´m really excited to use with investigators is Mormon 7: 8-9. TO be honest, it sounds a lot clearer in Spanish. It´s explaining that the purpose of the Book of Mormon is to help everyone believe the Bible, and if you believe the Bible than you will believe the Book of Mormon. SMACK! Also, it´s a great intro to the baptismal commitment.

Anyway I love you all and have a great Valentine´s Day/week!

Elder Vuinovic

Letter 42 - 2/5/11

Sigh.... No, I didn´t see the video. There´s something wrong with it. They said it´s either filmed wrong or it was finalized wrong. I think of the both it was the finalization. There´s been problems there before. Where you able to watch it before you sent it, or only on the computer? Either way, just getting it and knowing a little of what was on it from the editor´s notes made me happy. If you can send it again, great.  If not, well that´s life.

Ryan!! gosh that is absolutely hilarious. I can see the little peanut right now working that monster vacuum. Ugh!  I want to give him a hug so badly. He´s just the funniest, cutest little thing. I´m also so excited to hear about Randy. I´m sending out a packet of letters and next week I want to send out another, but that one will have pictures. está bien¿? I´m really not forgetting about you guys. I want to be able to write more hand written letters, but I don´t have the attention span. Also I randomly got a bunch of bday letters from people that haven´t written me in forever or at all. Which was really nice. I felt very loved :)

So Tarl´s getting out there!! wahoo!!!! I´m so stinkin stoked for that kid!!! He´s going to do such a great job. I know he´ll train early like Kyle and I did. He´s got it in him. I also think he´ll be in the office, but as something important, not materials or historian. haha.  Hermana Ampuño (Spanish teacher from the MTC) comes next week, Wednesday. I’m so stinkin excited!! She´s awesome. She´ll also be able to fill me in on the stuff that´s been going on with other elders of my group and how Kyle and Tarl were while they were in the MTC. It´s going to be so great.

I´m also very excited about the ward fast idea. Especially for the ward missionary efforts. Don´t want to offend (especially because I was part of the problem) but our ward is pretty lame when it comes to missionary efforts. We have a great ward mission leader (if it´s still Leroy) and we feed the missionaries well, but our part was not done. I hope at some point they wake up to the importance of missionary work, especially their end. There´s so much joy involved in it and there´s so many great people waiting for this true happiness.

OK so about the week.  It was great. We had a baptism last Saturday and it went really well. His name is Juan Pablo, and he was so excited. He was crying and just very, very happy. He´s only 14, but very mature and aware of his needs to go to church. We had another baptism yesterday, one of the "street kids". His name is Joseph Villegas. The best is that his family came. We only taught his family one time, but I really feel like there´s a lot of potential there. Especially with the mom. She´s a single mom, but her parents live with her. The family is a very important principle for all of them. I think that once they go to church they´ll realize how family oriented the church is and they will want to learn more. I´m very excited for them. During the baptism and before I felt very excited. I could see how excited he was too and it made me feel very satisfied. I know he´s a great kid and the ward will have him in good hands. I really want to be able to keep contact with him, because I have high hopes that he will serve a mission. Something that will obviously bless his life greatly. Such a great blessing to be able to know him. I´ll send pictures soon.

Finally is the Arango family update. Gosh..... Such great people. I don´t think I´ve ever seen such a golden situation. I know I´ve already said this, but if he was the only investigator that I baptized I would be happy. I would actually be much more than happy. He´s such a prepared and chosen soul. Every time we teach is such a great experience for us as well as it is for him. He came to a ward activity last Friday and the bishop gave them a Bible, because they didn´t have one. He was shocked that someone would just hand out a Bible when at his old church they were sold at lower quality for 30 dollars. When we visited them this Tuesday we explained to him the purpose of tithing and that thanks to tithing we are able to expand the Lord´s work without financial limitations. Also that church positions aren´t paid. He was shocked and said, "So everything that the church does is completely without self interest. Wow, The more I hear, the more I like this." He totally knows it´s the true church, and he hasn´t even attended. This last Sunday he couldn´t come because he got a gnarly cold. We did splits that night and I went by there to see how he was and if there was something that we could do to help. On the way I was thinking that maybe we would be able to give him a blessing. When we actually showed up the member and I looked at each other and we knew that we should. So we went inside we explained the priesthood blessing is the same today as it was in the times of Christ and that we are able to heal as He did. When we went to give him the blessing I felt good about doing the sealing. Normally I try to shrug it off on the other guy, but I felt good that time. While I was pronouncing the blessing I felt the Spirit strongly, but in a way very different.  If I tried to explain it it would come out wrong. So I´m not going to try, but the point is that I knew that the Spirit confirmed what I said. When we were talking the same Tuesday as the tithing talk he told me that he woke up the very next day and felt perfectly fine, and he had only taken one pill early in the day. Then asked me how that happened. We explained the priesthood again and told him that it´s a true power and that we don´t put on a show and ask for money.  It´s because we serve with the priesthood. That also added to his comment about selfless service. I´m really excited about his progress.

It´s been a great week. Gotta run. Love you all and have a great week.

Elder Vuinovic
Erick- Love in the world. That I´ve felt in my mission.

Letter 41 - 1/29/11

The sector is going well. We weren´t able to be out there as much as we wanted to be. There was SO much to do. This whole week I haven´t had a good night’s sleep. Last night we were at the airport because an elder had to fly to Quito to renew his visa. So we were waiting for him in the airport until after 11. Oh yeah, and what song comes on? “Faithfully”, by Journey. GOSH! That song is for sure on the "Trunkies of Trunky" list. It was horrible, and yet in a painful way I enjoyed it.

The Bday was decent. We had lunch in the temple with the newbies. Part of it was cake and ice cream so I felt satisfied. I couldn´t really do anything for my bday because the whole day was focused on the processing the new missionaries. It was great to be able to be at the temple, but I was a little sad I couldn´t do the temple session. I was worried about securing the baptisms, so I felt like we couldn´t really sacrifice the time. We are going to be having one baptism today Yeah! This kid named Juan Pablo. He´s such a smart little guy that really wants to be a part of the church. He´s 14 and comes to church all by himself and understands very well the doctrine for his age. He´s definitely different from the little street kids that come by the chapel. Mom, when I talk about street kids I mean kids that just hang around the street a lot running around with their friends. They´re not the richest of kids, but they´re not dirt poor. They definitely act like rowdy street kids so the lessons are a little difficult, but other than that they´re really great kids.

Learning experience: In my time here in the office I´ve had a very difficult time keeping the balance between my missionary/proselyting time and office work. It just consumes everything. At times I find myself not fully completing the missionary schedule along with studies and it kills me. I really don´t like not having that rigorous schedule. Then it hit. "Hi. This is what it´s going to be like when you go home." Yikes. I don´t want to be thinking about going home, at all, but in using the time I have on my mission as a preparation for the rest of my life I had to accept and be grateful for that experience. I realized that when I go home there´s going to be a million things that are going to get in my way of keeping my spiritual high. Even more than now. I´m not in any way excited about that, but I need to use this time that I have to be able to form habits that will help me overcome the barriers that I will face once this great experience is over. So, I´m working to develop strong habits now so I´m well prepared for the things to come. Even if it were for this one experience, I´m grateful for the office. I was so enveloped in my missionary world that when I went home I would´ve been in a very shattered world. I´m still working on accepting the office. The field is still better, but I´m finding the cool stuff here too.

Thank you all very much for the birthday wishes. I love you all very much.

In my personal study today I re-read a great passage about why we need to repent. Yes God is merciful, but the law can never be broken. Alma 42:21-26. So just fess up and repent already!

Love you all

Elder Vuinovic

Letter 40 - 1/22/11

We finally did something cool for Pday. We went out to a field and played ultimate frizbee with the nurses. It felt weird doing something fun. haha

So the bday is coming up.... gosh. I´m going to be 20. It almost doesn´t even seem like a real number anymore. I don´t know what to make of it. O well I´ve been keeping busy with other stuff slighty more important. Salvation… no big deal! I´m scared about how fast time is going in the office. And everyone says it´s only faster once you leave. It´s a scary inevitable principle. I´m just trying to focus on getting the most out of each moment. There were two days were we got tripped up on time waiting for people while proselyting and I felt really bad, which is a good thing, because it keeps me on my toes. Hopefully we can still pull out some big results.

Things have gotten better in the sector. La peñas is such a great ward/sector. I knew there was more potential. We´ve really seem to just run into people. People that I really feel will progress we just really need to focus on getting people to church. So that´ll be the most important part of today. I feel bad for the office staff before the ones that I replaced. There is truly so much potential here. This could be the busiest time of anyone’s mission. I feel like they just weren´t very sure what to do because they were so focused on office work. That´s something that´s really helped me out. I do my office work and I fulfill my duties as best I can, but I really have my main focus on my sector. I´ve felt a lot better that way and I know we´ll have success that way. Meaning, I´ll be even happier. I think we´re on track for a good spiral.

I think the best part of the week was a family named Arango. I think I´ve already told you guys about them. We talked to the husband a while back on one Sunday making contacts. It didn´t seem like huge potential at the time, but they were still on my mind. We finally just went to visit them and they were just golden. We´ve visited them a couple time this week and it was so great. He accepted a baptismal date like nothing else. I think it was the most firm and resolute response I´ve heard. He understood so clearly the need for a correct baptism. They read 3 Nephi 11 and understood everything about it. I felt like I didn´t even need to teach them. They understood even the form of baptism. We taught the plan of Salvation and when we talked about our purpose in this life we went over the fact that we need to be baptized and repent. We asked him again if he would continue preparing himself for his baptism and said very firmly that yes he would and that he was completely decided that he will be baptized. I´m so excited for him to come to church tomorrow.

There´s a teen from the ward that´s starting to accompany us, and he´s introducing us to all of his friends. It´s been awesome because we´ve been able to teach these little street kids and invite them to come unto Christ. People that normally would just laugh at us have listened to our message and have accepted easily the Book of Mormon. I´m really excited for them to learn more about something that will give them so much direction and purpose in their life, and that will help them avoid a lot of unhappiness.

So all in all things are looking good. We just need to do some solid maintenance and include the ward in the lessons with these awesome people that we´ve found.

Hope everyone has a great week. I love you all so much.    Elder Vuinovic

Letter 39 - 1/15/11

I´m almost twenty. This is freaking me out. I´m not ok with this. In this week I´ve realized how much time has really gone by. Everyone is always talking about how fast the time goes by. Always. I would always just think that they were just talking about it because that´s what everyone talked about. It was REALLY cliché for me. I knew that time had gone by and it didn´t seem like that much or that fast. I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that I was in the same house for almost all my life. I think it was last night that a taxi driver had "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" playing and it made me think about that one really stupid lip synch show I did in 8th grade, and then thought about how much time had actually passed. I´ve been gone for ten months. I know I still have a long way to go, but now it feels like the time is slipping. I felt like I was living out the time to the fullest so I wasn´t wasting time, and it felt good. It wasn´t going by too fast nor too slow. I just need to keep working hard so I don´t miss this time and have regrets. That´s really the only thing I worry about.

Also last night, we taught a family, Arango, that is really great. We contacted them almost two weeks ago, but I was going to let the other elders teach them because one of the elders is also from Cali, Colombia. Yesterday we went to the same building to see if we could visit a reference we received. He wasn´t there so I thought we should just go visit the Arango family just to see. So we knocked the door and the husband, Alex, said, "Hey! It´s been a while. You never came." He makes teeth and his office is right in the entry so we sat down there. Elder Silva was in the dentist chair, I was on a very small plastic bench, the wife and daughter were seated, and Alex was standing. It was a pretty award set up, but it was such a great lesson. It was more of a discussion and it was really good. We learned about what they thought about God and everything. We were able to answer the questions he had about the church and he realized that our doctrine was very sound. They especially understood the importance of a restoration of the authority of God. We showed them the Book of Mormon and were very intrigued. Alex mentioned that he has a friend that´s an archeologist. The friend said that they´ve found artifacts that show the Ancient Indians knew about and believed in Christ before the coming of the Spaniards. He wondered how it was that Christ was flying around the world preaching while he was in Jerusalem. I was SO stoked when I heard that. We then explained that the record of the Book of Mormon is very old and was written by prophets that taught about Christ. The reason that those people believed was because of these of the prophets. They were very excited to read. We left them a passage to read and they are going to read that as well as from the beginning. They really wanted to come to church, but have to go somewhere in the morning. They´re coming for sure though next week. As we left Alex commented again that he really liked the doctrine and is very excited to come to church with us the following week. It´s such a great opportunity to sit and teach a family. I´m very excited to be able to watch them grow spiritually and receive more of the heavenly blessings.

That´s about it for the week I haven´t been able to get out to the sector this week, but Veronica is still progressing and will be baptized the 29th. We were also able to teach this little kid and his family. To be honest the mom is more interested in going to church than the boy, Jair, but he really wants to get baptized. I´m really excited for them because I see definite potential for a baptism that will have support afterward to stay active.

Have a great everyone. Love you all

Elder Vuinovic

Letter 38 - 1/8/11

Hey fam!

How´s the week been treating you? You´re probably out doing chores right now..... or watching jungle book with Ryan. Actually, what´s his favorite movie now?

So get this. Last night I did a baptismal interview, and afterwards we got into a taxi to go to our sector. The taxi driver is confirming that he knew where the direccion (address) was, but Elder Silva interjected saying that we were going home. I confusedly asked him why and he just said, "Look." I turned around in the seat and saw a HUGE tear in his pants. I was busting up so hard. I just tried to imagine what it would be like if we went out to teach anyway. I kept busting up because if we had gone there would have been no way to hide it, and I´m sure a scene like that would definitely impede on the spirit.

The secretary work is getting better. Like almost all things, it needs better organization. I´ve really found the way to be able put off the small chores and organize the more important things, while I´m doing that I do a lot of organizing. It´s badly needed. I´m pretty excited to be able to get things in order. I know that once I have a grip on things I´ll feel a lot better. I had a cool experience yesterday. I was asked to participate in a blessing for the president. He was sick and asked me to do the anointing. It was a cool experience to be able to serve him like that. I realized there are very few people that will have that opportunity. It´s things like that I want to focus on so I can remember the positive things.

On Thursday I had an especially cool experience. I went to go do a baptismal interview, but it didn´t happen that night. So I was with a greenie, and I wanted to be able to do something with him. I went to a contact to see if we could get a lesson in and some new investigators, but I couldn´t find the house to save my life. I felt really bad, but I just decided to go do some contacts. I couldn´t understand why, but we couldn´t get anything. I was trying to think of something to do, but never once did I think to look at my agenda. I had plans, but it just never came to mind. So I thought, “we´ll just go towards the chapel”. As we´re walking I saw a house. I thought to contact it because we wouldn´t have to try to enter it. We do the contact, and it was alright, but the parents weren´t home so we couldn´t really do anything. I asked what the address was to be able to write down the contact. She didn´t know so we had to go to the corner to see the address. As we were walking, a lady asked if we were Mormons, but in a way very sincere. I responded that we were. When she heard that she explained that she wanted us to visit her husband. Her husband was a member, but inactive and there were some other problems and she wanted us to help him. She too is a member, but went inactive when he did, even though she wanted to still go to church. It was too difficult to keep going when he wouldn´t go. When we got to the house the husband told us his conversion story: He was praying one day that God would give him the truth in his life because he wanted to be happy and he wanted God in his life. Ten minutes later he got a knock on the door from the missionaries. He listened to them and got baptized. He became a very strong member in the church. Received the Melchezidek priesthood and everything. He had the goal to go to the temple, but when he came back to Ecuador he went active and with him, his wife. They then told us that in that same day they were both individually praying. He was praying for help from God and she was praying that God would change her husband. They´re separated right now, but you can tell that she honestly wants things to get better and her family to be whole again. They´re a family that has received a lot of truth in their life and need some help living it again. I know that the bishop will be really excited to her that they were found again. They´re theme this year is "the rescue of the lost sheep". I think this fits in well with the theme.

We had a lesson last night with the sister of a recent convert. Her name is Veronica. It was such a great lesson. We taught a part of the plan of salvation. She´s so prepared. The spirit was very strong. Elder Silva and I teach very well together and we were able include some really great points that are helping her accept that the answer she´s received is for the better for her life even though it requires a change. I´m really excited for her. It looks like she´ll be baptized the 15th of January. Please keep her in your prayers.

Well that´s about it for the week. I love you all so very much. Have a great week!

Elder Vuinovic

Letter 37 - 1/1/11

WOW! Ryan story was SOOOOOOOO flipping hilarious, and especially their fishing pole stories. I can just see how that turned out.

The presents were great I only found the two fives, but I´ll look inside the med kit when I get home.

So this week was interesting. I feel like I don´t know anything. I´ve never had office experience before and I´m so used to being a missionary that it’s been a rough transfer. I know that I wouldn´t be here unless God wants me here. It´s hard to accept His will sometimes, and He always seems to find something that would be hard. It´s ok though, by these things I know I´ll grow in ways that He needs me to grow. Something that was rough to accept was that last night I called Elder Shannon to see if I left some stuff in the other house, and of course I asked him if how the sector was doing. The sector really is doing well. Almost all of the investigators I was teaching are going to be baptized, and people that I´ve been trying to get into the program for a very long time are now in and progressing. That sector is probably going to have 10 baptisms this month. I know it´s selfish to want those baptisms, but besides the statistic those were people that I really wanted to see get baptized, and to be there with them to get them there. I know that the Lord only asks us to give something up so that we may have something better, so I´m working to find that something else that is better. There aren´t accidents in the mission. God wouldn´t take that risk. So now I´m just working to find that purpose. I really feel a lot of potential coming from this ward though. They´re so incredible. It´s such a structured and matured ward. Something I haven´t seen in a very long time. Not to mention their desires for mission work are incredible. We get references like nothing else. The only problem the sector has is a lack of organization on the missionaries’ part. The office staff sadly doesn´t have all day to give to the sector. So they find a bunch of people but they baptize the people that don´t require a bunch of work. That´s something I´m working to change. This place has potential for double digit baptisms with frequency. I really hope to be able to coordinate well with the ward to get more people coming to church, because we´ve also found a lot of people and we’re going to need a lot of help teaching and visiting these people with the little time we have.

Change of pace story: Thursday night there was going to be a baptism. Elder Guerrero and I show up to the chapel to get things ready. We see the font and it is FULL of crickets. Like “cricket community pool” status. So Elder Guerrero and I had to take off our shoes and roll up our pants to go get out all these crickets. We finish and the water smells disgusting and is still dirty. You can´t have a baptism like that even though it´s going to be filled with sins afterwards. (haha) Problem: The valve was broken. So what do we do? We empty it out bucket by bucket (seriously, what´s my problem with baptismal fonts?!)  We´re almost done when someone tells us that the girl who was getting baptized is not coming because something went down with the dad and permission. So we were all sweaty with wet pants and we didn´t even get the baptism. Bust.

Well that´s about it for the week. I love you guys a lot and you are in my prayers. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
Elder Vuinovic

Letter 36 - 12/20/10

This is going to be a quickie but get this. I think it´s the best baptism story ever.
It was a good week, but I´m only going to share our day Saturday because that will take plenty of time as it is.

First of all I found out Wednesday night that I was District leader and that the next day I had to do an interview.... with two mentally handicapped people. That was interesting, but they were both ok. So Saturday rolls around and the same Elders call me and tell me that they need another interview because the sister of that same family is going to be baptized... that same day. (great timing). The whole world stops for a baptismal interview, so instead of filling up the baptismal font we went to do the interview. This interview was INSANE. I seriously felt like I was about to get punked. Who has to interview 3 handicapped people for their first interviews? What made it so rough was that she said she had a problem with one of the questions, but I couldn´t figure out if it really happened or not. I had to ask the missionaries several times if they knew about this stuff beforehand. I had to make sure she was telling the truth and not just making something up. I was SO confused. She would say things that sounded like they could be true with awkward detail, but then there would be facts that were messed up. Finally after 300 questions we finished the interview. The missionaries went to go verify with the mom the validity of the story. Later on…

After the interview I was a little fried, but we went to go check out our appointments in the morning, and there wasn´t anything. So we just went to the chapel to fill up the font. We start the water and get cleaning. Elder Shannon realized that the water stopped filling up. Dang! So we see that there´s a water spigot in the cleaning closet and we go bucket by bucket filling this font up. I realized that it´s time for our lunch appointment, and we really couldn´t be late to their house. So we left and afterwards taught a lesson to the Cedeño family, the one with the inactive dad. It was awesome because the dad was there this time and we had a great lesson. Afterwards we get back to filling the font bucket style, but I realized that there´s no way that we can fill it up in that much time. I remembered that the ex-bishop is a gardener for the church so we went over there and got a hose. Awesome! Hose in the font and its filling up. We go to teach a lesson. Great lesson and we go around making sure that everyone´s coming to the baptism. We go back to the chapel and the hose had been pulled out and there was NO water in the font. Well, enough to maybe roll her around in it, or maybe baptize her catholic style. Not to mention NO ONE from the bishopric came. Even worse was that there were FIVE investigators that came to the baptism, but we had to send them home because there was nothing. I felt so terrible. Shirley Rodriguez, the girl who was going to get baptized, got really sad because she wanted to get baptized that night, and she was really excited beforehand. Not to mention she got all dressed up for it. Elder Shannon felt sad because it was his first baptism, and I felt like junk because I´m supposed to know what to do to fix it, and I couldn´t do a thing. Finally, an hour later, a counselor showed up and I remembered that another ward had a baptism and we could go over there to have it there. He shrugged and said let´s go. So what do we do? We walk, in the rain, all dressed up to the other chapel, and we have the baptism. It was so awesome! Elder Shannon did it, and I felt so proud! It was the closest to Father-Son pride it could be. He was SO excited afterward and Shirley was crying before and after because she was so happy. It was a nightmare that turned out AWESOME! It was a really spiritual baptism and Shirley really showed how much she wanted to be baptized. It was a great experience.
Love, Elder Vuinovic

Letter 35 - 12/13/10

Wow. It´s really good to hear about Randy. Especially how that little message from the gospel helped him out.  Props on getting that kid talking. He just needs to talk. If he can just talk it´s really easy to help him out.  PS- I had a random urge to eat something from a Galt restaurant and go for a walk around downtown..... moving on.

Had a great week. We did a great job keeping up on the investigators from the week before and we had several people come to church this week. It felt really good. One of our older investigators showed up today. He finally got time off of work and it looks like he´ll be able to start coming more regularly. It was funny because I told him he might have to be baptized by other missionaries because he was living in another sector. I found out later that he has the same house, but during the week sleeps at his work for convenience. Before finding this out he was in the hall and he told me, "I´m going to be baptized here, and I´m going to be baptized the 25th." He´s so awesome. He was prepared more than two months ago. It´ll be a pleasure to baptize him. Also the sister of Angel Rodriguez is going to be baptized for sure this week. I´m really excited. Slowly and surely we´re going to complete that family. The cousins want to get baptized, but the grandma they´re living with doesn´t want anything to do with us. So we´re going to have to go talk to her this week. It´s not looking that good, but if you could keep them in your prayers that would be great. They´re named Katherine, Michael, and Paula Tisalema. Also if you could pray that Shirley Rodriguez and Freddy Olvera can keep up their efforts to give up coffee I would really appreciate that too. So, by the looks of it we´re going to get our goal of 3 for the month with a good amount of prospects for January.

Something happened with the ward and I’ts great. We had ward council and the counselor to the bishop was talking firmly about getting support in the mission work, by getting us references. What totally helped was that we walked in there with a progress report full of people. The bishop even said, ‘yeah that´s a lot of people’. They were talking about their monthly goals for baptisms. After that I showed them the progress report. I straight up told them that it was cool that their goal was three for January, but we right now have the potential 10 baptisms realistically speaking, but there are problems that we as missionaries can´t help with. If they have a true friend things will be resolved. I told them that if they want these baptisms that they are available, but we need their help. I´m going to start to carry a progress report with me at all times to be able to talk about investigators. I really think that things are going to get a lot better with the ward, and that I´ve been able to get a little more confidence from the members.

Cool story. We were at a baptism because we stopped by for some investigators and they said they were coming. Afterwards we were going to go by an investigator´s house, Joffrey Chele, to see if he was going to come to church and to wish him happy birthday. As we were leaving Elder Shannon mentioned something about bringing everyone over to Joffrey´s house, but was joking around. I don´t know if it was because I was thinking the same thing or what, but I almost instinctively went around collecting all the young single adults to come with us. He turned 18 so it was perfect for him to get to know them. We bought some bread and a soda so we didn´t look like mooches and we totally surprised them. It went great. Elder Shannon and I came up with a couple games so we weren´t awkwardly sitting around. The mom was probably the most thankful.  She came out and told us that Joffrey didn´t have friends around there because he goes to a high school in another part of the city and all he does is study. I felt so good that he had that on his birthday because pretty much nothing else happened. Some other family members came by I think, but that was it. So before we left I asked him if he was going to church the next day, knowing darn well what the answer would be. haha. We got a very warm yes.

There´s an awesome family that we found the week before last, the Cedeño family. The dad is a doctor and travels a lot. He´s inactive, but tells everyone he´s a member still. The family is great. They have really good standards. The mom is the only one I worry for. She expresses many of the things we hear from Catholics, but I know it´s only from a fear of change. She’ll be ok once she comes to church. I´m really excited for them. They´re such great people that would be so much happier as members of the church. Keep them in your prayers too! Their names are Rosario (mom), Ginger and Donna (daughters), and Borys and Arrón (sons).

Elder Vuinovic

Letter 34 - 12/6/10

Well we had a huge meeting this morning with the President and it took forever so I have no time to do anything today. I have only a little time to throw something your way and shoot off an email to the president.

Cool news....... I`m training!!!! Way cool. I found out last Monday night. So Elder Hernandez left and I got my “kid”.  His name is Elder Shannon and his first name is Nefi.  Not Nephi, but the Spanish, Nefi.  We had a great week.  I`m totally loving his geenie fire and it feels good being with someone who has that energy again.  I`m really not trying to mold him, but rather focus him.  He`s pretty impulsive because of his ADD.  I just laugh normally, but sometimes I have to calm him down/correct. There`s really a huge problem with speaking English.  Wherever we are he speaks English and at one voice level. So I`m trying to get him in Spanish mode.  We put up great numbers, but no one came to church this week. We totally made plans and everything and verified several times throughout the week, but no one was home. It`s still possible to make our goal, but we have to make sure that everyone else comes to church next week.

I wish I had time to fill you all in on more, but training is fun, and things are going well. Much better than in past weeks.  I learned a lot in those weeks, and I know that I´m going to be using that experience for a lot of my mission and the rest of my life.

Love you,
Elder Vuinovic

Letter 33 - 11/29/10

We had to stay in on Sunday for the Census. So I made the food then. It actually wasn´t that bad. Especially given that I made it in 20 minutes. I cried when I said the Thanksgiving prayer. But felt really good to eat stuffing. Surprisingly it was really good. The potatoes too. I missed the pumpkin and apple pie.  There´s no replacing that.

I honestly have no idea how the phone thing works. I´m really sorry, but I don´t have time to be able to look into that. I´ll see what I can do next pday, but I can´t take proselyting time to do that. What I´ve heard of people doing is just calling to their house and then having the family return the call. Phone service is really expensive here especially for a long call. I think it would be better if you guys bought a calling card and returned the call, but I´ll see if I can look into it more next week.

Dad told me about the Polar Express train. Gosh that would have been so awesome!!

It´s really awesome to hear that Tarl´s doing great. I´d imagine so. He did so much to get himself ready. He´ s going to be such a great missionary. Well he was actually already a missionary.

Well I really don´t have more time. It was a good week this week. Things are getting better. We´re moving the program forward and getting some more people. We won´t be going without baptisms this month of December and we´ll also be getting set up for January. Things are looking up. I´ll update you some more next week.


Elder Vuinovic

Letter 32 - 11/22/10

I´m glad you liked the stuff. I really tried hard to get something good for everyone. I think I’m gonna buy a scarf before I leave for me too. Son vacán! Thank you SO much for sending me that package. I´m so stoked. I´m gonna ask if I can take some time that day to be able to cook it and have a little bit of a Thanksgiving dinner. I just want a little something to make me think I´m with you guys.

BEST LEMONADE EVER!!! You really have no idea how good this stuff was. There´s this lemon that doesn´t export of out to the US because it doesn´t last that long. So you´d only find it around here. This stuff was all the things that one could possibly fantasize (spelling?). A lot of lemonades are pulpy or grainy from the sugar. Not this one. wow. pure. smooth. refreshing. sweet. slightly sour. Heaven! The family that made the lemonade, the Castro familia, is a family that we found that sells food. They´re such an awesome family. They accepted a baptismal date on the first lesson. They´re really humble people who really recognized the truth in our message. I´m really excited to see them progress.

This week was better. The numbers weren´t great, but I feel like we´re on a road to get better. We have plans to completely revamp the relationship between the ward and the missionaries. It´s been a really rough week to find new investigators, but I think things will be better as we work out this plan. I really have hopes to get the members in a missionary mindset, or at least think about people that we could teach.

So two cool things this week: One night we passed by the Vera family to teach their recent convert lessons. We were waiting outside for the husband, Douglas, just talking. Monica told me that one day there was a bunch of noise and she couldn´t calm down or catch a breath. She started reading the Book of Mormon and finished with a prayer. Afterwards felt an extreme peace. So much so that she fell asleep. She asked me what it was, and I replied as content as could be that it was 100% the Spirit. I then explained that now as a confirmed member of the Church she has the right to have that companionship forever and that she can always have those feelings, in accordance to her obedience. I was so happy when she told me about that. Looking back it feels like an Ammon experience. Such a blessing to be able to be the messenger that brought them this message of true happiness.

Ultimately, I´ve been working a lot on a project I have to collect scriptures following themes and mark them in my Book of Mormon. I´m almost done. It´s such an awesome experience. Lately I´ve been focused on our purpose and time here on earth and the Atonement of Christ as part of the Plan of Salvation. It´s so incredible how clear things are in the Book of Mormon. I feel like I´ve learned so much. Well, it´s things I already knew, but I feel like my testimony has been greatly fortified. I have such a love for studying this way. Instead of thinking of the Plan, and my testimony thereof in its stages, I look at it more fully and I feel like my understanding is much more complete. I truly view this plan completely as a manifestation of the great and incomprehensible love that our Father in Heaven has for us. I know that Christ is our Savior and that a full and true happiness comes from repentance and obedience. I know that God is our Father and loves us intensely. I know that this is the Restored Church of Christ that He placed on the earth to bless us. I pray that we all recognized these great blessings and our Savior in this celebration of Thanks. I love you all very much. HAPPY THANKSGIVING! :)

Elder Vuinovic

Letter 31 - 11/15/10

As far as Christmas goes, I do need more sole inserts. And I would like some pictures of dad and me with the whole family. Could you send me a recipe for pumpkin pie and apple butter? The patriarch lives in our ward and he´s an ag freak. I wish he could see Sacramento around harvest time. He asked me to take him to the US. I would love to give him the chance to go to Slough House and Apple Hill and all the ag markets in Sacramento, but for now if you could send me those recipes that´d rock. He made something like it out of guava which really made me miss the Sacramento fall. Oh btw I want a mini US flag. That´s all.

Things have been rough again. I´m ready to not plan any more and go just contacting all day long. Any missionary would call me crazy, but I´m losing it. We barely teach. It doesn´t bother Elder Hernandez, because he comes from an area that doesn´t teach. I know the potential of this area and I want to max it out. I feel really stressed because I know I need to help him and I also know that I have to be the one that pushes us to get lessons, but I feel like we can´t move fast enough. I feel stressed because I don´t know what to do. If I knew what I had to do to get things right I would just do it, but I´m having a hard time figuring out what that thing is. I really can´t complain too much. We had six baptisms this week. It was really awesome. An entire family, except the youngest, and two other brothers got baptized, as well as another from Independencia. It was really cool. The family is totally prepared and Douglas has a lot of interest in the priesthood and really wants to understand it. So we taught him about it in depth. It was really awesome. He understood it all and they´re already wanting to go to the temple to be sealed. So things have been slow lately, but now we´re going out full speed to try and find some more people and get them ready for December.

Ecuador moment:  So we´re in the bus going to this pier on the Guayas River. We´re stopped at a red light and I see there´s smoke coming in the window. I thought, "How odd." I looked out the window, and what did I see? (not popcorn popping on an apricot tree) A semi´s exhaust pipe pouring toxic fumes into the bus and them when it accelerated it shot a bunch of black dust into the bus. It really stunk. How I didn´t get cancer and die right there I don´t know. It was one of those precious moments.

Well family, that´s all for this week. I love you all SOOOOO much. I´m gonna miss Turkey Bowl and Thanksgiving, and Christmas lights a lot. But just know that I think about you all the time. Especially when I see those fake Christmas trees and hear this retarded Flea Market quality music. Haha!

Love you all have a great week.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Letter 30 - 11/1/10

The theme at the mall today was "Make Elder Vuinovic Super Trunky Day". Wait.... Embarassing moment... Just happened… I´m typing, ya know, doing my thing, and the key board and it´s tray just fall right out of the computer shelf in the cyber. There was no playing that one off!  It was inevitable.  I looked like a stupid gringo. Why am I always a klutz?  Anyway, let´s go back to my story . So it all started with "With or Without You" by U2 and some other good 80´s hits that made me think of Dad a lot, like "I´ll Be Watching You" by Sting. Then we went into the Mega Maxi and there was this aisle with straight Christmas stuff and Christmas music (apparently “ commercial-itis christmatus” has infected Ecuador also!)  I had to stop myself in the aisle to try and soak it up.  I know that it´s as Christmasy as its going to get for me. It was kind of tough thinking that I wasn’t going to be able to sit around the Christmas tree with you guys, but I know I´ll be alright. Anyway so what song comes on? "My grown up christmas list". One of my favorites.  So we´re (Oh btw I have a new comp. I´ll explain in a sec, but let me finish my story). Anyway, so what song comes on NEXT??? “End of the Road” by Boyz II Men. That was the limit. You don´t know how hard it was for me not to lose it and go straight mo-town on those people. Sad thing is that I´m the only person in that entire building that appreciated that song.

So my comp! Elder Márquez left. That was really hard for him, and when we told one of the convert families she started to cry and told me I was joking. I felt terrible but we both really tried to comfort her. I think we´re going to stop by to make sure they know that they still have the missionaries´ support. My new comp is Elder Hernández. He´s from Guatamala.  Guatamalans are the second most common, second only to the North Americans. He´s really awesome. I´m stoked to be working with him. I can tell he´s someone who really wants to work and have success. Luckily from this last change we did a lot to prepare, and this change we´re going to reap the harvest! haha. He has a change (6 weeks in the mission) more than me, but we´re going to be leaving the same day because of my time in the MTC. He´s someone who’s really easy to get along with and is very focused. We´re going to see a lot of success I think. I´ll have to send you some pictures soon. I was going to send pictures but I wouldn´t be surprised if this computer was straight dial up. Lame.

So this last week was pretty rough. We somehow had lessons, but we had a rough time finding new investigators. By the end of Friday we only had 1 new investigator, which is really rare for this area. I honestly think I spoke more this week than I have at any other time in my life. We worked on almost every contact possible. Situations where we normally didn´t think to contact we would work, struggling to teach someone. We would come home and just sit at our plastic table wondering what we were doing wrong. We finally found a few more people on Saturday. One cool thing that came out of our search was we contacted this guy whose eyes were crazy off axis. Like they guy from Mr. Deeds. I´m mean were talking 45 degrees off.  I couldn´t tell who this guy was talking to. (WAIT! Remember how its Try to Make Elder Vuinovic Trunky day?  Okay, "Only One" by Yellowcard just started up. Talk about a throwback! Wow..... that one brings back a lot of memories.) Ok, let´s move on. So we ended the change fairly well. I can look back and know that I did all that I really could. I really truly worked hard. We only had two baptisms. I don´t know why. We set a lot of baptismal dates and had great people that were progressing. They´re still in the program, and we´re still working with them. They´ll get baptized soon, I guess it just wasn´t their time this last month. We´ll see how this month goes.

Hey random disclaimer. I´m sending out the Christmas package next week. I bought stuff at this artisanal market where it’s almost all handmade stuff, by the natives from the Sierra and stuff. It was cool the first time I went, but this last time was SOO stressful everyone was in my face and there was just so much stuff. It felt like even the products were screaming at me. So I tried to get something for everyone. If I forgot someone or if you think it´s lame I´m honestly sorry. I sincerely tried.

So this week we had a lesson with a family of Evangelicals, they´re almost the equilvalent of Southern Baptist, but with a pentacostal twist. Anyhoo, so we sang a hymn to start the lesson, “I Am A Child Of God”. When we finished they said, "O cool. We have songs too." Out ‘no where they broke out in this song, that if I tried to describe in English would take away from how funny it was to me. This one girl went straight up Beyoncé on us and at the end the member that was with us, Bolívar Guaranda, shouted "Yaayyyy!" and applauded!  Elder Marquez and I knew he was being completely sarcastic, which made it even funnier for us. As soon as we started to talk about prophets it turned into a scripture "sharing time".  So we couldn´t even really finish talking about the Book of Mormon. After the lesson Elder Marquez and I sang that song for days. It gave us some good material for when we were getting tired.

I feel bad writing a long time because my new comp´s family doesn´t write him. So I´m going to wrap it up. I love you all so much. Hope you all had an awesome Halloween and that the Giants win the Series!!!! Wahoo!! PS- mom please give Mrs. Finley (a huge Giants fan) a hi-five and a what´s up.

Ok loves! Have a great week.
Elder Vuinovic

Letter 29 - 10/25/10

The pictures were so awesome!! Steve´s a dad!!! Wow!!!! I´m so sososososososo happy for them.  I know that they wanted kids badly. How awesome!

Elder Marquez (new comp) is from here in Ecuador. More north in an area called Esmeraldas. I didn´t get the Halloween package, but I´ll know tomorrow if it came or not. I think it should be. As far as Christmas goes I just want family stuff.  Like I said in the last letter,  pictures,  cookbook,  stuff like that.  Maybe beef jerky or stuff from our traditions.  The clothes that I need I should just buy here because it´s cheaper and I don´t want you guys to pay shipping for that.

Well this week was really, really good. We finished strong and were able to report strong numbers. First of all, I had an Ecuador moment this week. Everyday there´s this huge market produce, flea market quality toys, sandals, dead chickens with their stomachs hanging open, etc. It´s really cool. Anyway this guy´s walking around trying to sell toothpaste, but he´s advertising this stuff with only two teeth of his own. I thought, "Dude, obviously your product doesn´t work." I mean, buying toothpaste from a guy with two teeth (that are barely hanging on might I add) is worse than buying weight loss shakes from a fat guy, or taking fashion advice from the blind. "Trust me... it works".

Also something totally awesome is last week we went to the store and I saw this offer. Buy two bottles of Axe spray, and you get this free pair of Axe boxers. I thought, “sweet! I need deodorant anyway. Why not snag some awesome boxers along the way!”  So I get home and open up the shrink wrap package that had the boxers and they were these tiny male booty shorts. hahaha. So every now and then I´ll throw em on just to freak out the Latin missionaries. There´s a greenie in our house from Colombia that I’m sure thinks I´m a freak. haha!

On a more serious note: We had some awesome experiences with the Vera family. Last Sunday the dad told us that he wasn´t on very good terms, because he and his wife had been arguing, and he didn´t know if he was going to continue with us. So all day during the last p-day I was thinking about how to help them. We decided to do a family home evening with them to do something fun with them, but I was still thinking about them. Finally I thought that we should show them how we do an inventory in our missionary companionships from "Preach my Gospel".  I wrote it down on a card and brought it to the lesson. The dad Douglas told us that he wasn´t going to be continuing with us because he didn´t feel like there was support from his family in trying to progress and especially overcome coffee. The whole time they were throwing verbal punches and slides.  So, we just taught the "comp inventory”, hoping that they´d do it with love and with the intent to overcome the problems together as we had explained. Turns out they did it, and it totally worked. They were holding hands in the following lessons and the dad was much happier. We did a family home evening with the bishop,  then last night again with the bishop and his wife we set a baptismal date with the entire family. I´m so grateful for the prompting to share the comp inventory with them, not only for the baptism, but because now they are happier and have a way to resolve future conflicts.

Well that´s pretty much the highlight of the week. I´ll let you all know how that baptisms turn out. We still got a lot of work to do with maintenance and all, but everything should go well.

Love you all so much and have a great week.