Monday, August 24, 2009

From Kent 8/24

Subject: He éxitomente hacido semana tres

Haaaalloooooooooooo (In the manner of a Jagular) Fambly!

Muchas grácias por el regalo que dáis! (Thank you very much for the package! I actually am only allowed to say dáis to family, otherwise it's strictly dan. Dáis is the informal second person plural, and missionaries are not to use the informal/intimate second person, unless in prayer.) I did enjoy it very much, and will continue to do so! Also, thank you very much for the addresses, I don't really have anybody's so that will be very nice.

Elder Dushku and I are officially Zone Leaders now! And we started our new leadershippery by finding out that they're changing the way new missionaries handle their first few days, and they're giving us a slew of new and more responsibilities. We take each new district our Branch/Zone gets and give them the tour of the MTC. We also help explain their schedule, give them the lowdown on culture and expectations at the MTC, teach them how to do Companionship Inventories, plan, so on and so forth. Every week. Well, every week that our branch gets new missionaries. We're pretty much the example missionaries, the presidency of the MTC can only say so many times how things are supposed to go, but once the greenies (kinder term than n00bs) see actual missionaries following it then they believe it.

We can't seem to keep our teachers for too long at a time, once Hna. Scaife came back Hno Harrington's Grandpa passed and he had to take the week of for family and funeral type things. We've been lucky to have one steady sub for him though, Hna. Beeston. She's been great, and she served her mission on Concepción as well. In her words, I don't know what cold is yet. Insulation apparently doesn't exist in buildings, and it's so wet and humid that it makes it worse no matter what temperature it is. So I took that as a yes, I probably will want some type thermal garcias.
We got to attend the Oquirhh Mountain Temple dedication, it was very very nice, strong Spirit. They closed the doors at 2:30 and just had silent meditation until it started at 3, which was very nice. Over the past few days my testimony of the Restored Gospel has grown a lot, primarily because of Temples and what happens in them. And we did some serious investigating of Facsimiles in Abraham, and Abraham in general, and it witnessed how authentic and pure The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is, God has restored in full the blessings of old. The verses to "The Spirit of God" have taken on new meaning, very neat.

We've had some excellent teaching experiences this week! In the T.A. (Volunteer scenarios) we taught an excellent lesson, very strong in the Spirit. Earlier in the week we got a new investigator in the R.C. and challenged her to read some passages in the Book of Mormon and pray about them. We haven't gotten a chance to hear back from her yet, we haven't been able to check the R.C. email for the past couple of days, but it was a wonderful experience to talk to a real person who was struggling to "decide whether or not she believed in the Book of Mormon." She was raised Christian and didn't have any objections to what she had read so far (she was about half-way through it). Fingers crossed! Hna. Beeston also took us through a progressive investigator scenario in one of the observation rooms (FBI interrogation style, there's a mic'd "home" set up and a 1-way mirror). Each companionship in the district got a chance to teach, and base it off of what the last had gone over. I find most teachers when 'playing' an investigator will often assume the characters of real investigators they taught. It makes it a lot more authentic, and it really feels like you're talking with this other person who's had all these problems in their life. The Spirit is phenomenal. Elder Dushku and I were the last companionship to teach her (Susan was the simulated investigator's name), and at that point she had become comfortable with the missionaries and really opened up her feelings, why she really hadn't been to church etc., so it wasn't according to any lesson plan, but it felt like it was.

Spanish is coming along great! I can understand most of it if I read it, get a gist when it's spoken, but can hardly speak it... interesting. Anymcwhoozle, time runneth out, I must be trangling off. Two of our missionaries are heading to the Guatemala MTC tomorrow, and we lose all of District A today. Fantastic group of Elders.

Love you all, The Church is True!!

Elder Kent Pímentel

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Germany Berlin Mission Blog

For pictures and more updates see

Report from Colleen

From Colleen:

I will say it again - I can't believe how time flies. The last few weeks have been just packed. I'm so happy to have a Sunday afternoon at home. Just a few highlights:
  • we attended our first baptism since coming on our mission. It was held in a river across the street from the Potsdam Ward building (no baptismal font at the building). It was very cool and the young lady looked just beautiful!
  • We finally got our shipment from the states. Nice to get recipes, measuring cups and family photos.
  • Finally did some yard work.
  • Visited three wards/branches traveling 1 1/2 hrs. to get to one.
  • Gave my first talk in all German in Sacrament Meeting - it was very short but I did it.
  • Picked up 16 new missionaries at the airport and did training, interviews, fed and photos and the next day did the reverse for 17 going home. It was nuts around here but that only happens once or twice a year with groups that big. I love them all. What fine young (and older as well) people they are.
  • We spent this last week in training with the other mission presidents and their wives in the European Area. It was so good to meet up with our MTC group from 6 weeks ago. We received training from our Area Presidency and Elder Rasband, Q of 70 AND Elder and Sister Tom L. Perry. It was a wonderful meeting and we learned a lot. We also got to attend the temple and some church historical sites in the Manchester/Preston England area. We missed our missionaries and are now glad to be home.
We love you all so much. We think of you often. We are headed off again this next week for Zone meetings, Tues.-Fri. and will get back Fri. night.

Hope to talk to you again soon. Love, Colleen and Jay

Monday, August 17, 2009

From Kent 8/17

Subject: Semana dos

I've succeeded at week two of the MTC! Many things have happened, I'm now officially in the groove of everything, and todo bien! (all is well!) We got new branch presidents last Sunday, the Lindseys. They perked up at seeing the Pimentel name and asked if I was related to any Pimentels in the Bay area. Turns out they know the Greens more than the Pimentels, but they knew Grandma and Grandpa Pimentel, and I think a Thomas Green specifically. Our branch presidency is an amazing group, I love them all!
Our district, 1C, has two teachers, Hermano Harrington and Hermana Scaife (Hermano = brother, hermana = sister). Hna. Scaife is absolutely phenomenal, I can't even grasp it. She is so in tune with the Spirit I think she could be a general authority. Very often she'll just pause, step back, and then ask a question or make a comment that is not in the exact lesson that was planned at all, but is exactly what we need to hear. Monday night specifically was amazing. I had prayed about something in the temple earlier that day and it was answered in full that night at class, I feel it was being so done for everyone, the Spirit was very very strong. There's a lot of love here among the district and zone and teachers.
On the subject of zones, our zone leaders, both absolutely fantastic Elders, Hammer and Bowden, are leaving for the field next Tuesday. So yesterday during weekly interviews with the Branch Presidency President Lindsey tells me that Elder Dushku (mi compañero) and I are going to be the next zone leaders. It was a bit of a shock, I have to say, what with us only having been here a week. I kind of was anticipating some form of leadership opportunity, however, just not that much this soon. I have full faith that we'll do a great job, however, we've had wonderful examples of how to do it.
Elder Dushku and I room together with another companionship of Elders Mayberry and Barton. Elder Barton knows Addison Redding, so we have quite a bit in common. Elder Mayberry is a very outgoing man with a phenomenal singing voice and is very very savvy when it comes to outlandish thoughts/connections, musical references, etc. Elder Barton gets/makes all the Homestar references of obscurity, etc. It's amazing how clear the Lord's hand is in what districts, rooms, and companions we have. Our entire district gets along amazingly well, we're all just a little weird, and know our Star Wars quotes a bit too well. The new district that came in last Wednesday to my knowledge are all of the same feather as well (Not our crop, but a league of their own). One of the Elders, Elder Hine (pronounced heenay) is a riot. He's black and has a chiseled, sculpted muscular body comparable to that of Zeus, but he'll always be the one reciting the weird Al star wars songs, quotes, etc. Yesterday he did the impossible and did a front flip over Elder Mayberry (who was standing up) on the cement, without touching him at all, and landed on his feet. Very entertaining, we refer to the event/action as "The Hine."
I run into a lot of familiar faces, Alyson Harmon, people from Skyline and choir, people from my BYU ward, lots of faces from my dance classes and ballroom in general. We went to the Referral Center on tuesday and did the outgoing calls, where we check up to confirm deliveries that people call to order movies, Bibles, Book of Mormon copies, etc. I only actually talked with one lady (most of the people live in the South, lots of Texas, Alabama, Mississippi numbers etc.) who was very nice and agreed to have the missionaries come over. Elder Dushku, however, got the persons dad or grandpa, who started asking what stuff was, and when he heard about the Book of Mormon got extremely excited. In short, Elder Dushku taught the first lesson over the phone. In entirety.
I do not receive Dear Elders before my computer time on Mondays, the earliest I'll receive Dear Elders before I write is on Friday evenings, as they don't send them on Saturdays or Sundays. I do find it interesting the way that Dear Elder combines all the letters sent to you by Dear Elder though. I got something short from Brandon, so it combined it with one of Dad's letters. It got to the end of Dad's letter, and then there was a p.s that he gave, and then he signed it again. I got an entire letter with the words "-Continued- -Dad." It was very humorous, so we pinned it up against the wall. The weeks are going by incredibly fast now, I can hardly believe it's already Monday, truly truly bizarre.

My time runneth out, and I must draw to an close. I'm learning how simple and practical Spanish is, it's probaly one of the most efficient languages known to man, especially since it's completely phonetic, no exceptions (no spelling ghoti and pronouncing it fish).

The Church is beyond true, it's amazing, I love you all!!

Elder Kent Pimentel

From Kent 8/10

Subject: P-day!

Hello Flammy!

The MTC is a plethora of things. The first couple days were highly overwhelming, it took a few days for me to stop simply absorbing things and actually asess them. All is well now, I've emerged from my reclusive, observatory coccoon and feel at homeish. It's definitely an entirely different existence, that's for sure. The Spirit is present just about everywhere, and there are SO MANY rules, but I suppose that's good because that only presents more opportunities for obedience, which is one of the simpler requirements for the Spirit. I've been picking up the Spanish rather quickly, it's extremely similar to French so I have twice the cognates. Only problem is that the French will sneak in left and right, especially when it comes to articles and conjunctions. Learning a lot about myself and what is needed in the mission, and so far the primary two are Planning and Obedience, and hardly any focus on me and the things I need to do so I can be a good missionary. Focus is on the people and what THEY need. Amen to that.

Interesting thing, my companion Elder Dushku has twice now spoken distinct and clear Spanish in his sleep, though he hasn't taken any before now. Though he has taken six years of acedemic Latin. Elder Popcorn is here, along with many from my BYU ward, and many from the ballroom world, both Elders and Sisters. The name Pimentel has sparked interest, I met one of Ruth's schoolmates from Harvard, and someone who knows Roger and his family. There were so many missionaries going Spanish speaking the day I came in that they ran out of Spanish Bibles, so I still don't have one :(. Oh well, it will come.

My P-days are on Monday, so that's when you can expect letters from me. One of my roommates has the exact same coat as me, another Elder in my district has a suit the exact same style as me, and my companion has a pair of shoes that's only 1 size different from being identical to mine (I'm a 42, he's a 43). Thank goodness for marking them ;) (And just generically making sure I don't accidentally put them in other people's closets...) With my P-day on Monday it lets me get a weekend to breathe, as Sunday helps me as well, no classes, just usual meetings.

Those I've talked to say that Concepcion is more temperate in the summer and very cold in the winter, so I may need to invest in woolen socks or something of that type, but I suppose I'll find out when I get there. Exciting things I tells ya! It's interesting, I have trouble pronouncing "Pimentel" the way we normally do, I've been saying "Peementeo" type variations without trying to... ah wellz.

Hope everything's going well and such back at home with y'all! The Gospel's true!

Hurrah for Israel,
Elder Kent Pimentel

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Notes from Sam -- 3 August 2009

[Editor's Note: This may be the last letter we receive from Elder Sam Pimentel, as he is slated to return home next week.]

Dear family,

Andy got baptized on Saturday! Everything went really well. Kevin Ashton, a great recent convert who was baptized in April and who comes out teaching with us all the time, baptized Andy (the first time he’s ever baptized anyone). The bishop, the ward mission leader, and the entire elders’ quorum presidency attended and were very supportive, and President and Sister Bullock were also able to come. There were only a couple of hiccups (someone failed to bring a change of underwear and poor Brother Ashton struggled with the baptismal prayer a few times) but it was a very spiritual meeting. Brother Ball, who gave the talk on baptism, spoke in some depth about the people of Alma and the baptisms at the waters of Mormon, which (unbeknownst to him) was perfect for Andy since he’d just studied that chapter in the Book of Mormon and really enjoyed it.

I think Elder Eichelberger and I enjoyed the baptismal service more than anyone else. During the talks especially, we just couldn’t stop smiling. I think one of the reasons I was so happy is because I knew that Andy, who loves the Bible and all discussions of spiritual things, must have been soaking up everything that happened in the service. But also I think now I really understand the baptismal covenant and how amazing it is in a way I didn’t even just a year ago. I’ve been reflecting on baptism this week and I’ve realized that serving a mission is probably the best education about the nature and importance of the baptismal covenant that I could ever have. I’m really grateful for the chance I’ve had to serve here and learn so much about this covenant. I think I will always feel differently about my own baptismal promises because of my service here.

The best moment of the baptism for me, I think was during the interval when Andy and Kevin were changing. Kieron Mayall, our ward mission leader, had chosen to show the Church DVD A Search for Truth, which portrays Wilford Woodruff’s efforts to find the true church and his eventual conversion. Something I really noticed in the DVD as we watched it at the baptism is the passion that Wilford Woodruff demonstrates in his search for a true church – you can tell he is hungry to hear God’s true word and receive his covenants and blessings. Eventually, the DVD cuts to show two missionaries trudging through the snow. They see Wilford Woodruff’s relative’s house, look knowingly at one another, and then go and knock the door, proclaiming the news of the Restoration. Seeing those missionaries, I felt very excited for Wilford Woodruff, knowing that they had exactly what he was looking for and were being guided to bring it right to him. I also identified a lot with the missionaries – I know exactly what it feels like to see a house up ahead and look knowingly at your companion, both of you knowing that you are supposed to knock that door. As I thought about these things, I realized that the gospel still hasn’t sounded in every ear, and that there are people (like Andy) in the world today who are hungering and thirsting for the truth every bit as much as Wilford Woodruff was. And this time I’m one of the people who’s been sent out to bring the gospel to them! It was amazing to really feel how important my calling is, and how real the fruits of our work are. I think this experience was in part an answer to prayer – we have been praying as a zone this week to be pure in heart (i.e. doing the right things for the right reasons). The Lord is so merciful to us.

Andy’s confirmation on Sunday also went very well. Just before the confirmation, Elder Eichelberger and I participated in the blessing of Vimbai Chatunguma’s 1-and-a-half-year-old son Miguel. I think I’ve mentioned Vimbai before – she joined the Church as a Primary child in Zimbabwe and was very active for a while but lost contact with the Church for four years when she moved to England. Shortly after she moved to Oldham Elder Rose street contacted her, and then I street contacted her again and got her phone number, after which we were able to visit her and help her come to church. Since she first came she’s been fairly active. Vimbai’s new home teacher blessed Miguel, and we also participated. As I was up at the front of the chapel, I realized that I’d street contacted both Vimbai and Andy at the end of May, and that if I hadn’t spoken to them neither the baby blessing nor the confirmation would be happening! I already knew that it was important to speak to everyone because you never know who you might let pass by, but it was kind of startling to see such an immediate and direct impact from my choice to talk to a couple of people. I’m so grateful for the mission leaders who taught me the importance of speaking with everyone and gave me the tools to do it, and I’m also thankful that I chose to listen, apply those things, and stretch myself. Wow.

Elder Eichelberger and I had some cool experiences yesterday. Some time ago we’d received a referral in the mail for a man named Marlon, who had been taught by missionaries in Jamaica. We’d contacted him but he’d been unable to talk. Yesterday we rang him back to schedule an appointment, and he asked us if we had some time later that evening. When we told him that we were free at 6 PM, he said that he was having a barbecue with some of his friends and invited us to come by and we could talk about the gospel! When we arrived at Marlon’s house there must have been a dozen cars parked outside, and when he invited us in his house was packed with people, most of them from Jamaica or of Jamaican descent, from all different parts of Manchester. They were very friendly and we had a couple of good gospel conversations. The food was also very, very good – barbecued fish in tin foil, various salad, juicy barbecued chicken, and Jamaican dumplings (reminded me of hush puppies). My favorite kind of finding activity! : ) Hopefully we’ll be seeing Marlon this week and another one of his friends the week after.

After the barbecue we went to teach a man named Heritier who was contacted by missionaries in Belgium. It sounds like there are some pretty great missionaries over there in Bruxelles – Heritier was telling us that he’s never really listened to missionaries before but that as he’d been helping his uncle move, these missionaries had stopped him and had engaged him in a very spiritual conversation that had interested him greatly and had really made him think. He still remembered a couple of the questions the missionaries had asked him. We had a powerful first lesson with him and he committed to be baptized when he knows the Book of Mormon is true and to come to church on Sunday. Those missionaries will never know it, but their spiritually-guided finding bore serious fruit here. I’m grateful for their dedication. It also makes me wonder about the different people I’ve contacted and referred to different missions.

I’ve had some of the best bus contacting of my mission this week on exchanges with Elder Winward and Elder Hall. I guess felt like I had it down before, but the Lord’s helped me get to a new level. When I started my exchange with Elder Hall, I had an especially cool experience. Right after lunch we hopped on a bus and went to help a member with some yard work. We wore our service clothes rather than our suits. Usually before on my mission when I’ve been wearing casual clothes I haven’t really street or bus contacted – it feels quite weird to do those things without having a shirt and tie on. But I decided that to truly follow Preach my Gospel and “talk with everyone,” I should be speaking to people even in jeans and a T-shirt. So I pushed through my misgivings and did it, and the Lord blessed me a lot! I’d had five quality gospel conversations, including one very spiritual one where I was able to set up an appointment, by the time we returned to the flat to change. I felt like a real missionary! It’s funny for me to think now how before my mission I wanted to be sent somewhere where I would just teach all the time instead of doing finding. I’m so glad the Lord sent me here instead. Finding can be so amazing.

This is the Lord’s work. It really is. I was reading my patriarchal blessing this morning and realizing that every one of the things the Lord promised me about my mission has been fulfilled. I know I was sent here for a purpose, and it feels wonderful to look back and see how the Lord has used me to bless others’ lives. All these things just contribute to my testimony that Joseph Smith was a prophet, that the Book of Mormon is ture, and that the true and full gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored to the Earth by our loving Father in Heaven.

Well, I love you all. I’m really grateful for the support you’ve given me here – it has made my mission a lot happier and easier. I will see you soon!

Elder Pimentel