Whoa! We’re halfway there! Whoa-OH! Livin’ on a prayer!

On Thursday, 29 September, I completed NINE MONTHS in the mission.

Nine months.

Nine months as a missionary.

And I love it! I am the happiest I´ve ever been. I feel like I never want to go back home. But don´t worry, I will. Ja ja ja.

What happened this week? Well, one of our most promising baptismal candidates got arrested. Man, I hate when my investigators get arrested. But at least here they don´t get deported from the country, like in Salt Lake City South.

What else? GENERAL CONFERENCE! Thanks to Heavenly Father and his help, we were able to bring five investigators to General Conference.

I love how in the very first talk in conference, the Misión Argentina Córdoba was mentioned! Just like in the last conference. Because we´re preparing the people of Córdoba for a temple, we are doing an important work here in the MAC. Also, did you know that Elder D. Todd Christofferson served his mission here in Córdoba and Elder Richard G. Scott was mission president?

On 7 August I while in Bell Ville, I wrote these words in my journal: “Youth have to get involved in missionary work. It is the future of temple work, and the Church, and the youth.” I was absolutely delighted to hear Elder Bednar reveal that the Lord´s will is exactly that: that youth will use their technological prowess to build up the kingdom by participating in family history work. I´m excited to see what the future holds with lds.org/familyhistoryyouth .

Some of my favorite conference moments were:

New temples announced! Including our own Provo Tabernacle Temple!
Elder Scott reminding us to immerse ourselves in the Book of Mormon
Elder Clayton bear witness that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is indeed the stone cut out of the mountains without hands; it will indeed fill the whole earth.
Elder Andersen declare the importance of bearing and raising children
President Uchtdorf reminding us that feelings of loneliness and despair cannot last forever, and that the Lord is ever mindful of us
Sister Dalton proclaim the incredible influence for good daddies can have on their daughters
Elder Cornish remind me to have more meaningful prayer

…Just to name a few.

Something that is very precious to me is the testimony that I have gained for myself, while on my mission, that Thomas S. Monson is indeed a prophet of God. I know that he holds the keys to the gathering of Israel, or missionary work and temple building. How I love being a part of that work.



Dallin’s Despedida

The most spiritual and awesome moment I have had in General Paz so far came in week 1 when the bishop of Puerreydon (the other ward we share the capilla with) called us and asked us what we were doing that night and invited us to the despedida (farewell) of his son, Angel or Dallin, who was about to leave for his mission in Buenos Aires Oeste. He told us that many of Dallin´s friends from school, members and nonmenbers alike, would be there in the capilla, and many lived in the boundaries of our area. Naturally we jumped on the opportunity–so many nonmenbers in the capilla! We were stoked.

That night we arrived at the chapel at 8:30. We were already exhausted from a long day of proselyting, but we knew that it was an opportunity that we couldn´t miss. Everyone was standing around, mingling, and I was trying to figure out which kids were the youth of Puerreydon and which ones were the nonmember friends from school (all the Gral Paz youth were there too, but I know all of them, thank goodness!). After asking around some, we realized that all of Dallin´s nonmember friends were chilling outside the church at the front gate. So we went out to find them.

When we went outside, there was a group of more than ten eighteen-year-old kids standing at the gate, talking amongst themselves. It was obvious that they were a tough group of kids, too cool to come inside the church, doing their own thing. My first reaction was to be intimidated–I´d been proselyting in the dusty street all day and didn´t have a hairdo, and I was just a nerdy sister missionary from the Estados Unidos–what was I going to say to these hardened, fashionably-dressed, porro-smoking kids?

And then in an instant I thought of the FHE with the Bogeros, how when we started the FHE you could slice the tension in the room with a knife, and how by the end everyone–kids, parents, and Rosita–were laughing and playing the Lamanite game with tape all over their faces. I thought of all the houses I had marched into and called repentance to men, women, and children–and they had listened. I thought about how Hermana Masters said, “You know what´s cool? After the mission, after surviving all these awkward situations and building all these relationships with all these difficult people and doing everything we do–we won´t ever have to be intimidated of anyone ever again in our lives.” And I thought most of all, I have a placa with Jesus Christ´s name on my chest. I don´t have to be afraid of anyone ever again.

So I squared my shoulders, stood a little taller, and marched over to the group of jovenes, and learned all their names. And introduced myself. And joked and laughed and talked with them until everyone felt at ease. And talked to them about what they liked to do, what their life plans were. And a half hour later we were all still standing there, laughing and joking. And I said, “So you guys know that Dallin is moving to Buenos Aires for two years to be a missionary, to share with people about Jesus Christ. He´ll be a missionary and wear a placa like this one. And my companion and I are doing the same thing here in the barrio that Dallin will be doing there. We share about God and Jesus Christ with the people, about how they have a plan for each one of us. Can we take down your addresses to go and visit you in your houses share more about the gospel with you?”

And they all said yes. Every single one. We got the datos of nine eighteen-year-olds interested in learning about the gospel, who already had a friend who was a member. It was a miracle. But it didn´t stop there.

At about nine o´clock we all passed inside the chapel and the service began. It was a brilliant idea of Dallin´s dad, Obispo Peralta–he had contacted all of the ward and all Dallin´s friends and all the family and invited them, but Dallin didn´t know–it was a surprise. So Dallin thought he was coming to the capilla for a final interview with Pte Chehda nada mas. So we all took our seats in the chapel, and Obispo Peralta welcomed us and then they turned off the lights and waited in perfect silence for three long minutes. Then Pte Chehda led Dallin into the chapel and I think there was a song by The Fray playing in the background (Dallin is a sick talented musician, singing and playing the guitar–music is his life and I think the song had some significance) and then they flipped on the lights and Dallin saw that everyone–everyone–was gathered there. All his friends from school, all the young men and young women he had grown up with, all the members from Barrio Puerreydon and General Paz, all his immediate and extended family, us, the elders, everyone. Oh man, I´m getting chills just writing about it because the feeling of absolute love in the room was so strong. Dallin just kept shaking his head, like he couldn´t believe it was real.

And we sang an opening hymn and had an opening prayer, and Bishop Peralta (Dallin´s dad) conducted the service and it began by his mom sharing her testimony. Then Dallin´s dad. I couldn´t help but admire them, their fortaleza, their strength–I know that this last year can´t have been easy for them. Their 17-year-old daughter Claudia, the president of all her Young Women classes, the “ejemplo de todos,” always leading out the other young women in Personal Progress and always accompanying the missionaries, had gotten pregnant and was not too far off from having her baby. And all the regular pressures of being a bishop in a struggling ward of only 50 active members–I imagine that the moment was very bittersweet for them, with all the hopes for Dallin and his future mission, and knowing that Claudia´s hopes for her mission could never be realized. But nonetheless they were there, boldly delcaring their testimonies of the gospel and sacrifice and missionary work, lifting the rest of us up with their testimonies. I honestly don´t remember what they said, but I remember that I felt the Spirit so strongly and more than anything felt the pure love of Christ. I felt and knew that I was in the right place, in that moment, where the Lord wanted me to be. I knew that he loved us all and had a plan for each of us. And I knew that missionary work was the Lord´s work and the greatest thing I could be doing with my life right now, the greatest thing that Dallin or any nineteen-to-twenty-five-year-old boy could be doing with his life.

Finally Dallin bore his testimony. He directed his remarks mostly to his friends from school, his non-member friends. He thanked them for their examples and for helping him be the person that he was, for being understanding and supportive of his living church standards. He talked about how much he would miss everyone. I looked over and saw that all of his friends were weeping with emotion (okay, we all were).

We finished the meeting by singing “Called to Serve.” All four verses (because Spanish is so much cooler than English so we get four verses of Called to Serve).

I felt so privileged to have been a part of that special moment, so blessed to have been able to feel of the Spirit and love that was present that night. After the service, everyone passed into the cultural hall for comida and a baile (dance), and everyone talked and mingled and hung out. I copied down the direction of one more joven who was a friend of Dallin´s. “Pero pasen!” he said. “Make sure you come!”

I am so grateful that Bishop Peralta thought to invite us to be a part of that evening, and to make Dallin´s despedida a missionary opportunity for his friends. I am so grateful for the Savior, and for Heavenly Father. I know that they love each one of us with an infinite love. A few special times in my life I have been able to feel a piece of that inifnite love. That night in the chapel was one of those times. That love is the reason we do missionary work. I know that this is the Lord´s work–going after the Lord´s sheep. I had to leave the ninety and nine that I loved at home to go after the lost sheep in Argentina. I am SO GRATEFUL to be a part of this work!

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

I wonder if this is what heaven is like.

In Nacho Libre accent:

Brethren, this is the best life I ever lived!

Okay, in all seriousness now…the mission is the best thing that ever happened to me. It is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life but at the same time the most rewarding. I would not trade this time and these experiences for anything. At times I literally feel like I can´t make it another day because it´s so hard but somehow it always turns into the best day of my life.

This week, the members of our little branch traveled seventeen hours in a rickety old bus to attend the nearest temple in Montevideo, Uruguay (the Buenos Aires Temple is closed until next October). Because travel to the temple is so expensive, the last temple trip was in 2009, and the next one probably won´t be for a while. My favorite part: Hugo Osses, sixty-one-year-old president of the Elders´ Quorum, who was baptized a year and a half ago, went to the temple to be endowed. He´s quite a character; his ex-wife was a gypsy and so he always has gypsy friends who are coming into town and staying at his house, and whenever we go visit him he sets chairs out in front of his house and his chickens peck at the dirt around our feet. Anyway, when we were at lunch at the Castros´ the other day they told us that Hugo had slaughtered four of his hens to have food for the temple trip. And sure enough, when we pedaled by his house on our bicis the other day, there were no chickens running around the yard!

Maximiliano was confirmed yesterday! And on Saturday we have two more baptisms: Ada Ramos, sixty-one-years old, and Micaela, her eight-year-old adoptive daughter. Yesterday we went to pick up Ada for church in a remis–it was a cold overcast morning, but when we arrived at her house we found that she had already left. We found her several blocks away walking in the cold, hurrying to get to Relief Society on time. When we arrived at the capilla, the class in Relief Society was on preparedness and, specifically, having a 72-hour kit in a backpack for each member of the household. Ada is a sharp, funny, sassy old lady, and I thought my heart would burst with happiness as she participated in the class and contributed suggestions to be prepared and insisted that chocolate needed to be a part of every family´s emergency supply. 🙂 It made me miss Mom a lot–thinking of all the preparedness stuff she´s working on at home, and how we´re doing the exact same thing here in Bell Ville, a random town in rural Argentina. I felt overwhelmed with a feeling of sisterhood, all around the world, and I also felt so impressed with the church–all the roles it has to fulfill! Important ones! Missionary work, temples, preparedness, welfare, humanitarian aid, protecting and defending family, everything. In hundreds of countries, in dozens of languages. How could this not be the true church and still accomplish what it does?

What I wish I could share with you all are the people. Ada, who has a perfect memory despite her sixty-one years, who asks probing questions about the Book of Mormon and makes pop culture references about Lady Gaga, who pokes me in sacrament meeting and warns me not to fall asleep. Who smacks the cat on the face when it tries to cuddle her, and has a profound love for everyone and makes fun of everyone at the same time. Her dear daughter Micaela, who adores us just for being the sisters and draws us pictures every time we go over. Twenty-four-year-old Gisela, who raised all her younger siblings when her mom left them, who is trying to quit smoking so that she can get sealed to her sweetheart Sergio and her little girl Estefania. Her dangerously attractive older brother Gaston, who is hilarious and won the hearts of lots of investigators on his mission by baking them banana bread. Papa Reynoso, who won´t darken the door of the church to save his life, but who left the table and went down to the corner store right then and bought us lightbulbs when he heard that we were without light in our pension. Hugo with his chickens and his crazy gypsy friends. President Salas, with his burning testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ and his divinely inspired leadership of the Mision Argentina Cordoba. Three little boys, brothers, Alan and Pepe and Martin, who played futbol with us in the dirt road in front of the house and showed us the kite they made out of garbage bags. Hermana Masters, who regularly provides the comic relief in our day by shooting me with her finger gun while we ride down the streets of Argentina on our horses–er, bicis. The sister I never knew I had; we´ve been through thick and thin and survived six weeks on a time on banana pancakes and gotten very little sleep because we always, always talk late into the night about the mysteries of the kingdom and our investigators and the shoes we´re going to wear to our weddings. Elder Pinkston, who makes us no-bake cookies and teaches us Argentine slang. Our investigator Brenda, a twenty-one-year-old single mom whose baby recently suffered horrific burns when a thermos of hot water for mate spilled on his scalp; now she has to take one-year-old Facundo to Cordoba for treatments every week. Elder Olivera, who saved my life or at least my sanity a few times by his quiet acts of kindness and thoughtfulness, and who was a professional futbol player in his former life (lock your heart lock your heart lock your heart). Crazy Mirta Franco, who stands uncomfortably close to everyone when she talks to them, and never lets anyone get a word in while conversing (hey, she´s Argentine), but who won my love with her amazing squash soup. Veronica and Gabriela and Silvia and all the girls at the bakery who know us by name because–well, because we´re addicted to Argentine pastries.

Bell Ville is my home in Argentina. I felt from the moment I arrived, from my first day, my first breath, that it was so. Four months here has only made me fall more in love with this place, with these people. This weekend are transfers, and it is almost certain that I will have to leave and start over making a new home here in South America. But for now I´m just going to savor this time: one last week, one perfect moment, in a place that, for all its problems and idiosyncrasies, quirks and flaws, feels an awful lot like heaven.

I love you. I pray for you always. You are always present.


Hermana Brown

Another Update

I hope you all watched conference and especially the part in the Saturday morning session when they talked about the saints in Cordoba, Argentina! Logan, way to rock the priesthood session. I thought it was cool that Orson F. Whitney was quoted several times. Conference here was a great experience–on Saturday there was no transportation so we caught this city bus with our recent convert Veronica and spent about an hour riding on the bus and then running through the streets of Cordoba to make it to our stake center on time. Sunday was even better–everyone from our little ward piled onto this rickety old bus and we all drove together to conference; then in between sessions all the families were drinking mate and eating their picnic lunches (of sandwich de miga, mostly) and then during the afternoon session there was this ridiculous rain storm and the satellite went out. It was a great time. And the messages were all good too, ha ha.

As a missionary I see miracles every day, and it helps me to know that we are all in the Lord´s hands. Several weeks ago we were teaching Veronica and I noticed that she seemed really upset. I asked, ¨Veronica, is everything okay?¨and she explained that because she had been out of work for nearly three months after being laid off from her job as a hospital waitress, she and her mom were going to be evicted from the house where she lived. She asked why we had to go through such difficult things in this life. I thought really hard for a moment and then told her about the promises that the Lord gives in Isaiah 58–that he is bound to answer our prayers when we pray in fast in faith. We planned to fast all together and I promised her in the name of the Lord that something would come up (intimidating!). Then we all fasted and held our breath, ha ha.

Then a few days ago we were going to teach a new investigator and we asked Veronica to accompany us to the lesson. But our cita (appointment) before went really late–we were 45 minutes late to meet up with Veronica and teach the other woman! When we finally got to the cita, the woman was their with her consuegra (the other grandma of her grandbaby) and wasn´t sure if she could attend us because she had company, but decided to anyway. We had a great lesson with them, and after the lesson we were all talking and the consuegra, Gloria, just happened to start talking about the hospital where her daughter-in-law worked. It turned out that the hospital was hiring waitresses! So Gloria gave Veronica her daughter´s name and the information she needed to inquire about the position. What if we had been on time to that appointment? Gloria might not have been there! What if we hadn´t brought Veronica with us to teach? She might not have heard about the job! And we had another lesson with Gloria and she committed to be baptized later this month!

Another miracle was with the family Peralta. They are this awesome family we taught but then weren´t able to find after that–whenever we went over they wouldn´t answer the door and we were afraid that the testigos de Jehovah had gotten to them or something weird like that. But one day we went to eat lunch at a member´s house but the member family forgot so we were walking back to the pension to cook something. We just happened to run into…Roberto Peralta! He told us that they would like to meet with us again and that his wife had been very sick. So we were able to get in contact with the Peraltas again thanks to our canceled lunch.

And one of the coolest investigators we have right now is Sol. We contacted her on the street–she had funky pretty tattooes on each arm and her shirt off her shoulders and a don´t-mess-with-me look in her eye. She said that she wasn´t sure whether or not she believed in God, but it was funny how she talked about life having a purpose, using the same words I often use in contacting: ¨Life has a purpose; we´re not just here to be born, work, sleep, eat, and die.¨ When I testified to her that the purpose of life was to become like Heavenly Father, the Spirit bore witness that that was true. And it changed her–she no longer had that hard look in her eye, and she was more receptive. We told her that she could pray to know these things for herself because God was her loving Heavenly Father who knew and loved her perfectly. ¨Voy a probarlo,¨ she said (I´m going to try it), beforewe had even invited her to pray. Ï´m going to try it tonight.¨ Then she volunteered her address, ¨so that you can come back and see how it went.¨ What!

Our second lesson with Sol was just as powerful. We asked her how her prayer went. She said that the first time she prayed it had been pouring rain and she said, ¨God, if you´re there and you´re listening to my prayer, stop the rain,¨ and instantly the rain went from a downpour to a drizzle–it nearly stopped. She told us she had been praying every day since then. Then she had all kinds of questions, from everything to tattooes to the law of chastity. But the best part was when we gave her a Book of Mormon. Her eyes got all big and she held it close to her like it were some kind of treasure (it is, of course), and she asked, ¨Where do I start?¨ I know that she will get baptized because she has such a desire to know and because she acts upon what she is given.

Other random things about Argentina/my life in Argentina:

I wash all my laundry in a bucket.

Theft is a huge problem here. All the missionaries have been robbed at one point or another. It is not uncommon that we´ll lose contact with an investigator or member only to find out the next week that their cell phone was robbed. Robbery is common during the day, during the siesta when there aren´t many people out on the street. The first robbery I witnessed here was a couple weeks ago. We heard this woman screaming and then we got closer and saw two young men speeding away on a moto with a handbag. When we got to where the woman was she was crying and bleeding all over the street from where her arm had been cut in the struggle. She was in her fifties or sixties, Grandma age! So needless to say, we only carry a few pamphlets and a Book of Mormon to give away when we´re proselyting. Too many missionaries have had their precious mission scriptures stolen. Also, because of theft and lack of space, everyone here keeps their dogs on their roofs. It´s kind of funny.

So I told you about the cockroach in the canelone incident. But it gets grosser. My companion got lice (lots of people have lice here, and we have to saludar everyone with besitos), and we´ve had to comb through her scalp several times to try to get them out. And we found these little parasitic worms in our shower. Eew!

I helped out with one flier for a ward activity and now everyone–Young Single Adults, the Elders´ Quorum president–asks me to draw fliers for activities. I´m happy to oblige them during my personal time because it feeds my creative soul.

Argentina´s government is really inefficient, so it makes missionary work difficult. No one can get baptized until they get married. Getting married is an ordeal because you have to show up at 6:00 AM at a government office and sacar turno, or draw a ticket, to get married. But if you´re waiting for a dirvorce from a previous marriage, forget about it. Several families we are working with have been waiting for divorces for YEARS to get married. One man we are working with, Gerardo, has been waiting for seven years!

I make my companion wake up at 6:00 to go running with me in the mornings. I wanted to go every day but we have compromised on three times a week. We live down the street from an awesome bakery so sometimes we grab fresh pastries on our way back from our run. Yummy breakfast.

I feel like I died and went to food heaven. I have eaten the best croissants, pastries, and Italian pizza (Napolitana style) I´ve ever eaten in my life. And I am learning to like French fries, believe it or not (I´ve eaten them three times since I got here!).

I saw my first real Cordoba rain storm. Oh my goodness! It was like buckets poured from the sky! And the streets all turned to rivers!

I love you all and I hope you are well. I think of you, pray for you, miss you every day.



Updates on Kimberly

Here’s a recent email from Kimberly:

“We had our first baptism in Argentina this week! A brother and a sister, Sebastian and Roxana. They are pretty cool–both super shy but I guess two days before I got here they went to the baptism of their cousin Veronica and just decided that they wanted to be baptized! So we have been teaching Roxana since I got here. (Sebastian was taught by the elders because he felt more comfortable with them.) But the baptism was great and I feel so blessed to have already witnessed a baptism in Argentina.

The other day I was eating canalonis (Italian pancakes wrapped around meat with sauce on top–pretty good) and I found a cockroach in mine. It was pretty gross. This elder traded me plates and then I ate his canalonis and he ate the cockroach one.

My mission president, President Salas, is so cool. We had our zone conference this week (the first one in my mission! Woot!) and my mission president´s talk was all about the gathering of Israel and about how are job is to gather scattered Israel to help them realize their blessings in the Abrahamic covenant. So cool. Then my mission president´s wife gave a talk all about the power of our thoughts and quoted As a Man Thinketh (in Spanish, of course), and the whole thing was so cool. I feel so blessed by the Lord to have been given a mission president who fits so well. Also, I am working really hard at controlling my thoughts, being positive, and trying to enjoy life in the moment. I miss you all like crazy and it gets me pretty bad if I let it–so every moment I am trying to choose really consciously to be happy.

I witnessed my first robbery in Argentina. It was pretty traumatizing. These two kids on a moto robbed this 50-something year-old woman of her bag. Apparently that kind of thing happens all the time.

Being a missionary is good. We found this woman, Patricia, who had just recently moved with her two young daughters from Salta and had been feeling pretty alone. I know that the gospel can bless her life, and I know that she felt the Spirit when I contacted her. Now I just hope that she chooses continue learning about the gospel.

My companion is pretty cool. We have had some arguments but we have a ton in common and have fun together.

🙂 Kimberly”

I found out that DearElder.com is the fastest way to get a paper letter to her. Apparently snail-mail is supposed to take MONTHS. But I don’t know how DearElder works yet, so you’re on your own.

Finally in Argentina!

Though it was nice to be serving and not stuck in the MTC drinking chocolate milk, Kimberly is glad to finally be in Argentina! No news yet except her mailing address:

Sister Kimberly Gail Brown
Argentina Córdoba Mission
Gay Lussac 5270, Villa Belgrano
Apartado Postal No 49- X5009 ZAA
C.C. 17 Suc 9

If you want to send pouch mail (cheaper postage)…

Sister Kimberly Gail Brown
Argentina Córdoba Mission
POB 30150
Salt Lake City UT 84130-0150

(Only letters that are single sheet, folded into three panels, and taped at the top only (no envelopes), or postcards, may be sent through the pouch.)

Write her a letter!

My mission address!

Write me letters! I love you all so much, and I would love to hear from you so that I can stay updated on everything, and I promise I’ll do my very best to write back to you in a timely manner.

While I’m in the MTC…

Sister Kimberly Gail Brown
MTC Mailbox # 88
ARG-COR 0301
2005 N 900 E
Provo, UT 84604-1793

While I’m in Argentina…

Sister Kimberly Gail Brown
Argentina Córdoba Mission
Gay Lussac 5270, Villa Belgrano
Apartado Postal No 49- X5009 ZAA
C.C. 17 Suc 9

If you want to send pouch mail (cheaper postage)…

Sister Kimberly Gail Brown
Argentina Córdoba Mission
POB 30150
Salt Lake City UT 84130-0150

Only letters that are single sheet, folded into three panels, and taped at the top only (no envelopes), or postcards, may be sent through the pouch.

I love you I love you I love you! Thanks for coming for my talk, for helping me with gifts of time and money and cookies and love, for support and phone calls and texts and e-mails and facebook messages and friendship and love. My family will post updates on the blog once in a while. See you in eighteen months! God be with you till we meet again!

Called to Serve!

Dear Sister Brown:

You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Argentina Córdoba Mission. It is anticipated that you will serve for a period of 18 months.

You should report to the Provo Missionary Training Center on Wednesday, December 29, 2010. You will prepare to preach the gospel in the Spanish language.

Your purpose will be to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel though faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. As you serve with all your heart, might, and strength, the Lord will lead you to those who are prepared to be baptized.

Greater blessings and more happiness than you have yet experienced await you as you humbly and prayerfully serve the Lord in this labor of love among His children. We place our confidence and pray that the Lord will help you become an effective missionary.


President Thomas S. Monson