Speechless

Momma Loves Her Boy

I didn’t expect finishing the mission to be so hard. So many mixed feelings confuse and try to distract me. In other words, It’s hard to not feel “trunky.” With the holiday season in full blow (which in Argentina means crazy parties and lots of drinking, haha), a week left of missionary life, my last baptisms of the mission this past Saturday, and knowing that a huge change is about to hit me hard, I’m honestly quite frightened at first thought. I ate at McDonald’s today and people watched as I ate my salad…I’m not ready to come back to reality. I love what I’m doing so much…this is my reality…and to think my daily routine will change in just a few days scares me.

I trust in the Lord. My mission has blessed me with two things, if I can be so bold as to try to sum it up so compactly: An unshakable faith in my Savior, Jesus Christ, and a testimony tried and true. I, like Luke, believed I had always known the gospel to be true. I had always felt it and tried to always live what I believed. I thought I was born with a testimony. And I still think I was. But now, I have been blessed to be able to polish some of the rough edges. Wet my feet a little before the waters parted. Take a few steps in the dark and rejoice when I saw my path illuminated before me.

I have learned obedience to the Lord and His commandments. I treasure my covenants and plan to always honor them. I look forward to the future covenants I have yet to make. I recognize that the greatest gift we have in this life is time, and how we use our time ultimately determines our happiness. I also have come to know that when the majority of our time is spent in the service of others, and less time spent on ourselves, true happiness is enjoyed. Tonight, we don’t have plans to pass the evening with anyone, but I’ve invited a few other elders to join me in the bus station to sing hymns and Christmas carols to lift the spirits of those who can’t spend the night with loved ones. The spirit of service is the Spirit of Christ. I love it and can’t wait to receive a calling and serve with all my might. After all, I have covenanted to dedicate all my time and talents to the Lord. It’s a welcome obligation.

I treasure the relationship I have with the Savior. As I have now spent close to two years as His representative, I have grown closer to Him and I love Him. Christmas is something very special to me…my Savior came to this earth to save me from the bonds of sins. What a blessing. I have many thoughts and feelings running through my mind as I’m sure you can imagine…so I’ll leave it at that for the moment. We will be talking tomorrow after all.

I love you all so dearly. Merry Christmas Eve. 

Elder Steven Reid Walker

Our visit on Christmas Day was wonderful, to say the least. We had been expecting his call all morning, but didn’t get it until we were at my mom’s for Christmas Dinner. He called just before we were to eat and I jumped up and down and ran outside, then upstairs to settle in for our conversation! It was the first time we’ve SEEN him in almost two years. We got to SKYPE him and what a blessing that was! His English was broken and he had to translate his thoughts from Spanish into English! It was so cute, and a real blessing knowing that he has truly immersed himself in the culture, language and entire mission experience. We talked about his day, his next adventure of coming back to a new reality and the whirlwind turn-around he will have when he gets home. He leaves Argentina January 2nd, arrives in San Diego January 3rd and must be in Provo, Utah January 6th for school to start January 7th…We get him for all of two days, but they will be the BEST two days ever! Thank you all for following this blog and Steven’s Adventures in Argentina. I expect just one more letter from him, but if he is too busy packing and preparing, I hope your days have been brightened by his faith and testimony and the hope in what truly matters. It is the greatest joy to be his mother…now and for eternity. 🙂 Smiles, Marsi 

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Humidity, Blackouts and 0 Wind…

 

Baptism Joy

With humidity, blackouts for hours and 0 wind, it feels a lot hotter . . . I’m all good as to Meeko…such is the circle of life. It bites a bit at times, but she hasn’t been my bird for the last four years anyways if we think about it. I’m thinking it’s about time for dad to go for his falconers license or get a bigger bird. Enough of those little sqwakers. Get something bigger and prettier 🙂 (Steven’s bird, Meeko, died Sunday, December 16th…He’s had him since he was 11. We thought he’d be a bit more upset, but he has learned so much!)

Thanks for your help with BYU. I’m sure all will work out just fine. Sister Heyman and President Heyman have three months (two now) to recover and come back to the mission. If she doesn’t get better in that time, they’ll be released and a new president will be called. For the time being, we have an area seventy as President. He already served as president in Peru, Lima west, so he’s got experience, but it’s not the same. I wont be able to talk with Pres. Heyman again as a missionary. My last interview will be with Pres. DiGiovanni. I trust the Lord’s wisdom and His confidence in us here to let us carry on this way.

We had transfers this week but I’m here to stay in Corrientes til the end. I have a new companion for these last three weeks (now two) from Wacho, Peru. He’s a very shy little Elder with two months in the mission. We finished his training yesterday and now it’s time to help him get the know the area well enough to take guide my replacement in two weeks.

I really haven’t felt the Christmas season in the least bit. Argentines aren’t all that festive it seems. Everyone paints their houses and prepares everything for company, but decorations and Christmas music, special foods and other traditions are nonexistent where I am.

We had another baptism last week and will have two more this Saturday. As we say here in the mission to those that finish strong, I’m going to die like a man. It’s difficult to stay focused at times knowing that a huge change is around the corner, but when I get out in the street and get to work, I’m in the work and love it. The hardest part is knowing that I won’t be able to see the baptisms of any of the new people that I find now. It’s so hard to finish the mission…

I’ve been trying to set goals for habits I want to carry on throughout my life after the mission. I constantly remember what Elder Jensen of the Presidency of the seventy told us when he came with Elder Christofferson last year, “I govern my life based of the covenants I have made with the Lord.” I’m choosing to do the same. Choosing to dedicate all my time to His service.

It was hard to say goodbyes with Elder Polo last week and I really hope we can see each other again in the future. I know a few other friends returned home last week too, so it’s a season of changes, but I just pray that with trust in the Lord and His will, all will go well.

I’m going to send you a few of the photos from the weekend, but talk to me so we can organize my call home. With Christmas Eve next Monday, we’re going to be working so I won’t be able to write to coordinate details. Let me know.

Anyways, I love you and know that the key to a happy life is positive thinking. Everything that happens to us in this life is eventually for our good. It helps me not to worry.

Elder Steven Reid Walker

Misión Argentina Resistencia

Entre Rios 435

3500 Resistencia, Chaco

Argentina

-4

 

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Un Lindo Calorcito

Baptism Happiness

It’s hot and we’re nice and sweaty. Pretty picture, right? The people laugh at us for our shirts, ties, and hats as we wipe the sweat from our brows with worn handkerchiefs fashioned from expired t-shirts. We let them laugh. Our duty is of eternal importance. I feel more professional and serious when I write, but I feel comfortable when I write my thoughts out loud.

The fontIn short, it’s been a long week full of anxiety and anticipation as we prepared our first baptism since July. José Luis Rodriguez, once a teacher in a Catholic school, decided to follow the strong promptings that the Spirit was giving him and was baptized this past Saturday by our Branch President, who, ironically, shares his same name. He’s been a wonderful investigator, very sincere, and very attentive to both the teachings and the whisperings of the Spirit. In his first visit to church a month ago, he was blown away by the powerful feelings of love and acceptance that he felt while he was there. He loved it and hasn’t left since then. Two years ago (I think I already told you) he was run over by a bus and his legs have essentially been reconstructed with iron. He’s such a sincere guy. He’s had a rough life, he lost his mother young, and every time he’s been ready to get married, his girlfriend has cheated on him (three times). Needless to say, he’s told us that he has felt the forgiveness of our Father in Heaven as he’s prayed and is already learning how to follow the impressions of the Spirit. This one’s going to go far in the church.

In other exciting news, Lucas, our 17 year-old friend, finally received permission to be baptized. His dad has been against him for the last month and a half, but yesterday, his mom told his dad (after growing tired with the way his dad has been taking advantage of Lucas’ desires to be baptized and while his dad was drinking and yelling at the family) that she didn’t want Lucas to turn out like he did and that she was going to sign his permission. Lucas got way excited, jumped up and kissed his mom on the forehead and couldn’t turn off his smile. He’ll be baptized by his best friend from school, another great kid from the branch named Gonzalo, this Saturday.

bbqThe fun with all of this is that this week we have transfers. This means I only have three weeks in the mission remaining. It’s not real to me. I do feel somewhat tired of the routine and the same excuses that the people give us, but trust in the Lord’s wisdom and want to live these last three weeks as if they were my first and love it all. It’s hard, but I can’t die! haha.

Dad, a lesson Presidente Heyman taught me is that we shouldn’t try to understand the lesson we are meant to learn in the moment. Lessons are to be analyzed after the trial has been overcome. It’s a very effective way to stay focused and determined without frustrating ourselves for our apparent lack of progress. It’s what gives us the strength to say, “give me this mountain” and enjoy the growing process.

A cool insight I’ve found this week is just how much the book of Helaman in the Book of Mormon explains exactly what we are living right now. I want to invite you to read Helaman 11 and 12 and then tell me what it reminds you of. Especially in the beginning of chapter 12. Interesting stuff.

Hopefully, I stay here to finish up the work I’ve been given, we’re looking forward to three baptisms this Saturday if all goes well with a marriage this Friday…

The only thing I wanted you to check out, mom, is how we can get my books for BYU and if you can set me a dentist appointment for when I get back. I think my teeth need some love and care after two years without a dentist. Thank you.

And Luke, tell me what’s up? I haven’t heard from you since you told me you were doing your papers. Just because I come home in three weeks is no excuse to not write me, haha.

I feel like Ammon, a bit, in the sense that I feel like I could live here forever. I love the people so much. I love this mission. It’s the best on the earth.

Take care, loved ones,

Elder Steven Reid Walker

Misión Argentina Resistencia

Entre Rios 435

3500 Resistencia, Chaco

Argentina

 

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New Dawn, New Day, New Challenges

Cute KidsErnesto and Pamela’s kids, simply adorable!

Service with a Smile

Service with a smile! Helping in a member’s home. 

What an unpleasant surprise. A few months back, Sister Heyman, the wife of our mission president, had a stroke. Since then, she has been in rehabilitation in a hospital in Buenos Aires. Today we received the news that last Thursday, she and President Heyman traveled back to Arizona to continue her treatment. It is uncertain as to whether or not they will return to the mission and it has come a a shock to us all. In the meantime, we have one of the Seventies of the area replacing President Heyman until further notice. He hasn’t been released as mission president, but the future is uncertain. Needless to say, Sister Heyman is in our prayers and fasts constantly.

We never know what trials the Lord will give us to strengthen our faith. I find that I am at times too weak to search for them. I know that it’s the adversity of life that makes us grow, but at the same time I don’t believe any one of us really wants to suffer knowingly…what wise man will stick his hand in the fire after already having been burnt? But lo and behold, the hotter the fire, the stronger the steel.

I keep trying to climb the mountains the Lord places in front of me. Finishing the mission is difficult. I know that a “change” is coming soon, but strive to keep focused because I honestly don’t want to change anything about who I am and who I’ve come to be upon returning home. This experience is one to grow. One to teach me for life, and I want to take advantage of it. I’ve come to see that life’s smallest moments are the most important. As I bought a pair of alpargatas (genuine TOMS) today, we made a few simple contacts in the store and left a few invitations to church with the salesman. Seeing their enthusiasm and excitement upon receiving an invitation to church was priceless. A few college age guys who live their lives in a mall have little chances of being contacted in home. I love how the Lord works through His missionaries.

I now officially have less than a month remaining in this short ministry. I’m going to live it up more than ever. If all goes well, we should have a wedding and four baptisms this Saturday. We have one for sure; a man named Jose Luis who was run over by a bus two years back. Pamela and Ernesto are in the process of doing blood tests and organizing last minute details to be married this Friday, thus making possible the baptism of her and her daughter. Elder Polo, one of my best friends in the mission from Colombia is in his last week in the mission and we’ve had some pretty deep talks lately. Sunday we bore our last testimonies that we will have in Sacrament meeting as missionaries. Such emotions are difficult to describe, but after José Luis, our investigator, bore his testimony and Elder Polo’s investigator, Cristian, bore his, not a single dry eye could be found in the congregation. I feel my Savior’s love, not only for me, but for all the members of this branch.

Branch President with Elder Polo

This is the best mission in the world. It creates leaders. It teaches patience, trust, love and faith. It teaches us how to be Christlike leaders, how to plan for success and how to enjoy life’s many blessings. How is it possible? It is God’s work. It is His one and only true church restored to the earth through a modern day prophet with priesthood keys and eternal families. What a blessing.

I’m a little out of the loop concerning books and schedules for BYU. It looks like I’m only going to be home for about a day, if that, seeing as how the American elders usually get home Friday night or Saturday morning, depending on their flights. In a week or two the office will send me my travel plans. It’s all so surreal, all of this. (Steven actually comes home Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 10:20am! I thought he had his flight plans already…so we are, needless to say, EXCITED!! He will be home for about three days before heading to BYU to start school January 7th!)

Anyways, I love you and thank you for everything. Never let down your guard. Keep up your spirits and face life’s storms. They always bring blessings 🙂

Elder Steven Reid Walker

Misión Argentina Resistencia

Entre Rios 435

3500 Resistencia, Chaco

Argentina

Photos from a zoo in Argentina! Steven LOVES animals, especially birds!
Hello birdie!
GorillagatorCougarOrange Beak
Polly
“Pepe” belongs to a family in his area, a family that the missionaries have reactivated!
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The Good Life

Steven wrote this in the morning:

No one knows what holiday it was yesterday (Monday), but everyone loves one more day to be lazy here… haha. I’ll be back in the afternoon. Today we’re going to the zoo! We’ll see just how classy it is…

hasta luego

The “Real” letter this week! 

This is it. A once in a life time opportunity that I am enjoying thoroughly. Not much has happened lately as we still await marriages and investigators in church, but all is good. My companion wants to send me home trunky (homesick) and thinks he’s achieving his goal. I beg to differ, but the truth is one can’t help but think towards the future. I’m striving to maintain myself focused on the present, focused on the missionary vision and my purpose, and doing all within my power to offer salvation to the souls of the people I come in contact with day by day through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Such is the gospel of Jesus Christ summed up in one word: Salvation.

José Luis Rodriguez came back to church this week. A member committed himself to come a pick him up every Sunday to bring him to church. This way he saves $50 pesos($11), a considerable amount, in transport by taxi. The man has an incredible faith and even though his health is damaged after being run over by a bus two years back, he knows God has protected his life for a reason. His legs have been reconstructed with iron implants as bone replacements and he walks well, considering his condition, and loves the church and the Spirit that has testified to him of the truth of the restoration. I, too, love the spirit.

I thank you for your love, letters, and support. The mission has taught me so much and I am eternally indebted to my Savior for His Atonement. I’m understanding it better now than ever before and want to be the purest being I can be for the rest of my life. I have some lofty goals for the months ahead and will be depending on Him considerably. He’s helped me this far, I know he’ll help me in the future as well.

My scriptures of the week:

1 Juan 5:3-5 

 3 For this is the alove of God, that we bkeep his commandments: and his commandments are not cgrievous.

 4 For whatsoever is aborn of God bovercometh the world: and this is the cvictory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

 5 Who is he that aovercometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

1 Juan 4:18-21

 18 There is no afear in blove; but perfect clove casteth out fear: because fear hath dtorment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

 19 We alove him, because he first loved us.

 20 If a man say, I love God, and ahateth his bbrother, he is a cliar: for he that loveth not his dbrother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not eseen?

 21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who aloveth God love his brother also.

Alma 16:16-17

 16 And there was ano inequality among them; the Lord did pour out his Spirit on all the face of the land to prepare the minds of the children of men, or to prepare their bhearts to receive the word which should be taught among them at the time of his coming—

 17 That they might not be hardened against the word, that they might not be unbelieving, and go on to destruction, but that they might receive the word with joy, and as a abranch be grafted into the true vine, that they might enter into the brest of the Lord their God.

D&C 45:3-8

 3 And this ye shall know assuredly—that there is anone other appointed unto you to receive bcommandments and revelations until he be taken, if he cabide in me.

 4 But verily, verily, I say unto you, that anone else shall be appointed unto this gift except it be through him; for if it be taken from him he shall not have power except to appoint another in his stead.

 5 And this shall be a law unto you, that ye areceive not the bteachings of any that shall come before you as revelations or commandments;

 6 And this I give unto you that you may not be adeceived, that you may know they are not of me.

 7 For verily I say unto you, that he that is aordained of me shall come in at the bgate and be ordained as I have told you before, to teach those crevelations which you have received and shall receive through him whom I have appointed.

 8 And now, behold, I give unto you a acommandment, that when ye are bassembled together ye shall cinstruct and dedify each other, that ye may know ehow to act and direct my church, how to act upon the points of my law and commandments, which I have given.

John 16:33

 33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have apeace. In the bworld ye shall have ctribulation: but be of good dcheer; I have eovercome the world.

There’s a few of my motivators. I love the scriptures. As Elder Scott said a year ago in conference, they can be our best friends. I treasure mine dearly.

I thank and love you all,

Elder Steven Reid Walker

Misión Argentina Resistencia

Entre Rios 435

3500 Resistencia, Chaco

Argentina

 

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Agradezco

I am grateful.

Grateful for tender mercies of the Lord. Grateful for the patience of neighbors, brothers, friends, and leaders. It has been a very hot week with a little rain and lots of blessings. Today we bought a new refrigerator for the pension and gifted our old one to our Relief Society president. We spent the most part of the afternoon cleaning it and then carried it by hand as a complete surprise to her house about a kilometer away. The look of complete gratitude and surprise that came to her face was enough to leave us all teary eyed as she cried. I am grateful for love-inspired service.

Pamela and Ernesto are loving the gospel and every time we visit their house they round us the kids and we turn the lesson into a mini family home evening. They love us and we love them and they are all set to get married on the 30 of this month, followed by Pamela and her daughter’s baptism December 1st. They’re already asking us how they can be sealed in the temple. I am grateful for eternal family bonds.

Saturday in a baptismal service, a man who we have helped come back to activity in the church named Sergio Benitez took me by the arm and guided me to be presented to other members I hadn’t before met. As he presented me, he said “This is the Elder that brought me back” and hugged me. My heart melted right there. I am grateful for the converting power of the spirit.

We brought a man to church this weekend who has visited a fair number of churches and even taught as a Catholic school teacher. He always has very profound questions and talks a lot, but is sincere. In church, the members loved him and he loved them. As we visited with him later that afternoon in his house, he told us that he had felt the spirit for the first time the whole time while he was in church and that he had never felt it before anywhere else. He has accepted the invitation to be baptized the 8th of December. I am grateful for truth.

I have grown so much in the mission. I have more love for the Savior than I did when I left, that much is certain. I am more grateful for His atonement, for His gospel, for His Plan of Salvation, and for the guidance He gives me through the Holy Ghost. I am thankful for the leaders he calls and inspires. I am thankful for you, my parents and the blessing you are to my life. I am grateful for my family and for having been able to grow up in one…the family almost doesn’t exist here in Corrientes. Listen to the talks by Elder Cook and Elder Oaks from Conference and they describe what I see daily. I am grateful for the Heaven-inspired scriptures. I love them. I never want my hour of personal study to end. I’ve made new friends as I’ve been able to read. Ammon, Alma, Amulek, Nefi, Peter, Paul, Stephen, and Christ himself.

I am grateful, and forever will be for this experience.

Always,

Elder Steven Reid Walker

Misión Argentina Resistencia

Entre Rios 435

3500 Resistencia, Chaco

Argentina

PS. Thank you for the financial support, I hate to bother you with such things, but really appreciate it. Con mucho amor, tu hijo.

Here are the talks Steven referenced~

by Elder Cook:   http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2012/10/can-ye-feel-so-now?lang=eng

by Elder Oaks:   http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2012/10/protect-the-children?lang=eng

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the Mission

As Steven answers the questions below, here is what I asked him 🙂

1. What is the bed like that you sleep upon? Do you still have the same sheets and pillow from the start?
2. Do you drink adequate water each day?
3. What do you feel like eating each day?
4. Who has been your dearest investigator?
5. What companion is your favorite?
6. Which area has been your favorite?

Beloved family and friends,

I hope this letter finds you well. The world is a dark place nowadays and we need to be stronger now spiritually than ever.

To answer your questions, Mom, my bed is a foam mattress and yes, I keep using the same sheets I started the mission with. I’ve come across a few other sheets in other mission apartments from past missionaries and with a little washing, they’ve become part of the Elder Walker sheet collection. The pillow I’m using is, like the mattress, a piece of foam that I found in Puerto Rico. It serves its purpose well. The Lakers pillowcase has suffered a few casualties in washing and I need to sew it a little bit, but it’s going strong. As for water, yes I drink quite a bit. With the temperature and humidity raising considerably, we drink water in about every house we enter, even though the water quality isn’t always the greatest. It’s something we’re just used to. Concerning food, we eat what the members provide us. The average meal here is called  “guiso” and consists of rice or noodles with a few diced veggies, tomato sauce, potatoes every now and then, and a few pieces of fried meat. Humble food, but filling. I really have tried so hard to just completely immerse myself in the mission that the change was never difficult. I’m used to the lifestyle of the humble and I honestly expect the change to be more difficult upon returning home. I am, however, ignoring a craving for Mexican food that’s been gnawing my stomach liner for about 22 months.

Our investigators right now are honestly some of the greatest people I have met in my mission. They all have big obstacles impeding their baptismal goals, but their faith and dedication to keep persevering even though the circumstances aren’t very easy is admirable. Angel and his wife are listening to us again after a month without contact and are awaiting permission from the First Presidency for the baptism of Angel. Lucas is working hard to win the support of his father so that he gives him permission to be baptized at the end of the month. We have another couple who got in the motorcycle accident last Sunday who gained their testimonies in the hospital that night as they prayed that everything would be all right and that the diagnosis would come back clear . . . and it did. They know that God heard their prayer and they are planning their marriage to be able to be baptized the first of December. Also, we found another family of six that is way excited to learn about the gospel even with heavy opposition from Catholic family members. It’s an exciting moment in the mission. I honestly feel like the mission is never going to end.

My favorite companion is difficult to choose, but between Elder Pereira from Santequin, Utah; Elder Everett from Bountiful, Utah; and Elder Garcia from Cadiz, Spain, they’ve all taught me considerably and should be friends of mine for quite some time. My favorite area….La Gran Misión Argentina Resistencia. I can’t name one over the others. They all have their specialties. We can review that question in a few more months.

Elder Viñas of the Presidency of the area South America South visited the mission last week and we had a zone conference with him Thursday. What a wise man. He knows the scriptures by memory and knows how to apply them to his life better than anyone I’ve ever met. He’s motivated me considerably to do the same. I’m starting by analyzing in detail the great general conference talk by  President King Benjamin. What a great message centered on families, the  atonement, the temple and salvation. I love the scriptures . . . I should have taken advantage of their pages years back.

I don’t know what words of wisdom I can give you for the Christmas card, I only know that my soul’s only desire is to live my life in such a way that every day I can be a better disciple of Jesus Christ. He knows who I am and who I can be,  and what better person to try to emulate and trust in than the perfect Son of Man and Redeemer of mankind?

I’m nervous for the adjustment to coming home, but honestly, it’s the last thing on my mind. I’m a called, set apart and ordained representative of the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. I wear His name on my chest and must represent Him well. I think that’s what most motivates me.

Hopefully, the pictures I sent you serve for the card; let me know if you want others.

Love you all,

*Elder Steven Reid Walker*
Misión Argentina Resistencia
Entre Rios 435
3500 Resistencia, Chaco
Argentina

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