Argentina hasn’t seen the creation of a new stake for nine years. Everyone was super excited about the “Conferencia Y Creacion de la Nueva Estaca Ramos Mejia”. Elder Arnold from the Seventy was presiding and his counselors, Elder Aidukaitis and Elder Foster were there as well. Presidente was asked to speak for 5 minutes at the session for investigators at 9. We were both asked to speak at the general session at 10. We arrived at the church about 8:30 am. At 8:40, Presidente told me that almost everyone was already on the stand. We went and took our places and the meeting started 15 minutes early at 8:45. The chapel was completely full already with investigators/new members.
Since the building at Ramos Mejia has two chapels and a huge cultural hall, it can accommodate quite a lot of people. There were also numerous rooms set up in the building with transmission equipment. Later we were told that 1700 people attended the conference today.
The general session also started early. It was such a blessing for me to look out on the sea of unfamiliar faces and here and there see our missionaries smiling, giving us the thumbs up and other forms of non-verbal communication that said, “We are here for you. You are doing great!” They were there with investigators, and they were there with newly baptized members. They were there with new companions, and they were there with many smiles and abrazos as they greeted their fellow missionaries. They were there healthy and some of them were even there feeling a bit under the weather. We had another cold snap this week with the temperatures dropping down to 1 degree Celsius. Presidente has joined a few of them who are fighting an upper respiratory infection. It is a miracle to watch how they all carry on accomplishing their goals.
Presidente and I were asked to attend the setting apart blessings for the new stake president and new counselors after the meetings. Taking pictures today was impossible for me. They did have a photographer there, so I hope that some of those pictures will show up in the Church News. I handed my camera to Brianna and asked her to do what she could. Looking at this picture, I see that the office elders were helping her!
Elder Bagley, Elder Lopez and Elder Baudon
Elder Savage and Elder Guzman
Elder Ponce, Elder Vorwaller and Elder Leavitt
Thanks Brianna! Here she is with Hermana Rodriguez, aka Mini Rodriguez. She is from Buenos Aires and she is serving temporarily as a missionary companion to Hermana Azcurra. Mini doesn’t smile in pictures because she has braces :), but in person her smile is ever present. Last month, Hermana Azcurra and her previous companion, Hermana Herbsommer baptized a family of 5 and 3 others into the church. Hermana Azcurra humbly acknowledges a friendly competition, and I am pretty sure that she’s got the elders scared, especially since she has 4 other family members coming along! In actual fact, we had two sets of sisters in the top 10 baptizers last transfer! Yeah for the Hermanas!
After the conference, it is back to the tasks at hand for the office elders--Elder Bennett, Elder Baudon, Elder Godfrey and Elder Packer, as well as all the rest of the missionaries.