Sunday, December 28, 2014

Second Quarterly update from Elder Backstrom, And a merry Christmas to all!

Well, this week my second Quarterly update and my merry Christmas email will be coming IN ONE EMAIL ONLY! How dramatic and exciting that Two such Important things could find themselves combined! into one even bigger and better thing, no less!

Well, it's been a year- just more than a year, actually- since I arrived here in Argentina, a few centimetres shorter, quite a few shades whiter, and a lot more lost. And lots has happened in the past few months! So? How will I report it, you ask? First I will briefly recall what happened in the last quarterly update (Which I presume all of you printed out and framed and put above your beds so that you can always have it to look at).

In my first update I had only had one area, I had had only two companions in the field, and I had recently recovered from bronchitis and had a few fun stories to tell about crazy San Juan.

Since then:


San Martin 1 Ward ("A" companionship), Maipu Stake-- Which subsequently became San Martin 1 Branch, San Martin District
Amppya Ward ("A" companionship), San Luis Stake


Elder Ortez (Honduras)
Elder Fernandez (Peru)
Elder Inca (Peru)

Mission President:

Presidente Goates


Technically, none but-

Juan Diaz, Ana Diaz and Ruth Diaz All joined Juana Diaz in the waters of baptism after I left San Juan and are currently active in the San Juan Progresso Branch. They are a family with whom I worked a great amount while I served in that area, notably when Juan started to lay the bricks to put a second floor on to their house. I am anxious to be able to visit with them again.

Carlina Rosario (Meche) is a friend of a very strong member of the San Martin 1 Branch (Hna. Alegria) who technically lived in the San Martin 1 "B" area, but that we (The San Martin 1 "A" companionship) taught and prepared for baptism. I have been told that both are still making the hour long trip from the small town "La Dormida" to the chapel almost every Sunday to be able to attend Church.

Other important Happenings:

Three of my previous companions are now home- Elder Spice (He became very sick and went home about four months ago) Elder Ortez and Elder Fernandez (Both finished their missions in the same transfer, about two months ago.)

Cameras so far: 3

Shoes: Still going hard

Shirts: Getting pretty yellow until I bought some way groovy magical whitening powder that has worked to a good degree

Knowledge of the scriptures: Well, I finished reading the entire new testament and am up to numbers in the books of Moses so far this week- and my head has stopped hurting because I think it is
A) no longer absorbing information or

Number of non-contact proximity reader rechargeable bus payment card types used so far: 2, one for San Luis and on for Mendoza 

I've grown about two inches? or like five centimetres? and it's quite strange because I thought I had stopped growing but then just recently I was standing beside this elder who is really tall who I knew in San Juan back when I started and I was almost the same height as him. but not nearly as muscular. He threw shot-put nationally in the sates.

Well everyone, it's Christmas time. this next week we will pass by a holiday that exists in our calenders as a day to remember the birth of Christ. What an opportunity to meditate upon the the birth, life and teachings of the master. The principles that he repeatedly taught through word and example are simple ones of love and kindness and goodwill towards all men: for me, one scripture sums up the great gift that God gave to all of us more than any other:

John 3:17
"For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved."

This scripture appears immediately after the well know "For god so loved the world..." in the sixteenth verse of the same chapter. I am particularly impacted by this scripture because it beautifully expresses the reason that Christ came to earth- not for condemnation, or to rule as a king or great officer; not to be adored or served or ministered too- but to effectuate our salvation. A selfless act of pure love and charity. What an example He laid- never rebuking those who smote and insulted and derided Him, but rather promising that even such would receive a total pardon upon conditions of repentance- and then sacrificing His own precious blood so that that promise could be carried into effect for those who needed it, for which Paul frequently expresses His gratitude in his epistles. What a wonderful standard of righteousness, even to be perfect, as He was. Unattainable as it may be for us imperfect mortal beings there is no more beautiful, beautifying thing than a man striving to be even like his God. That's one of the great reasons I love the mission so much- I get to see, from time to time, people who make the decision to commit themselves to the true path of discipleship, and to see the change that makes in them.

Well, other than that I have a few pictures to send as well.

I forgot to take pictures of the asado we made today, whoops.

here are the smoking coals we cooked it over.

This is (Left to right) Hermanan Carrillo (Colombia) and Hermanan Paulson (Utah).
They are the two new Hermanas in the punta (Hermanas Harris and Jacinto both left)

Somehow, they got my camera -.-
Here is the whole district. the bottom features a sight of the cement table the camera was resting on.
Left to right: Hna. Larios, Hna. Rodriguez, Elder Alverado, El. Backstrom, El. Pinero, Hna. Paulson, Hna. Carrillo, El. Inca.

And a few other photos of p-day.

And now I will explain why selfies with hermanas are always really awkward.
For example, some of them come out all right, like this one;

And then sometimes I get mostly cut out of the picture

Look! with elders it's fine. Because one is allowed to be touching the person one is taking a photo with.

And here, the last example. Believe it or not, I'm to the left of hermana Carrillo in this photo! but nothing.

okay this is actually also not a fantastic photo
notice hermana Larios shadowing all of the photos

Look! normal with elders

okay well that's all. have a merry Christmas everyone! happy one year in the mission me! okay. bie bie.

Advent Calendar Days 19 to 24

Advent Calendar Day 19:

Today we are sending you a Christmas quote:

"Finding the real joy of Christmas comes not in the hurrying and the scurrying to get more done, nor is it found in the purchasing of gifts. We find real joy when we make the Savior the focus of the season. We can keep Him in our thoughts and in our lives as we go about the work He would have us perform here on earth. At this time, particularly, let us follow His example as we love and serve our fellowman."

-- Thomas S. Monson, 2012

Advent Calendar Day 20:

President Monson said that the wise men "presented gold, frankincense and myrrh. These are not the gifts Jesus asks of us. From the treasure of our hearts Jesus asks that we give of ourselves."

This video really demonstrates this.

Love, your family

Advent Calendar Day 21:

Dallin –

Linnea and Robert wanted me to send you something today about shepherds and sheep, but while I was searching on the internet for just the right thing I found this video and I thought that it captured the spirit of Charity (true charity) that I desire to have that I wanted to share it with you. It doesn’t have any talking so maybe they have a Spanish version of this, but even if they don’t I think you could share this with your investigators and members and just translate the scripture for them at the end. Have a happy day Dallin!

Love your family

Advent Calendar Day 22:

Dallin –

Some piano sheet music (free to print off) we are sending a pretty easy one since you only have a couple days until Christmas! That guiding light will still lead us to the Saviour today; it comes to us in our darkest hour if only we will seek Him. Love from

Your family

Advent Calendar Day 23:

Dallin –

Happy almost last day of Advent! Below is a familiar scripture with one small but significant change:

And the angel said unto you, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke 2:10-14)

Love, your family

Advent Calendar Day 24:

For our final advent e-mail, we are sending you a story:

Once upon a time a family went to a cottage on Christmas eve.

They kind of stole a Charlie Brown Christmas tree from a nearby small town tree lot so that they could have a tree for Christmas morning.

While the mother and father worked on supper, the children went out to play and of all things to find on a frozen lake. they found ice.

They got an idea and started to work.

After their Christmas eve dinner, when all was dark outside, they turned off the lights in the cottage and brought their parents to the picture window. Like the star that led the wise men to the baby Jesus, they shone a flashlight out the window onto a stable they had dug out of the snow.

In the stable were the most beautiful Nativity figures their parents had ever seen -- three wise men, Joseph, Mary and Jesus -- shining in the darkness.

Children can be silly, and children can be difficult, but children can often perceive the most important things more easily than adults. So it was on that day, when the family's children saw divinity in ice and warmth in cold.

"Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life" (John 8:12).

Merry Christmas, our spiritual ice carver!

Love, your family

Advent Calendar Days 13 to 18

Advent Calendar Day 13:

Dallin --

Happy Santa Lucia day! Remember night walks with heavy tread round farm and bier... What is a bier anyway?

Love your family

Advent Calendar Day 14:

A religious Christmas joke for you today:

What did Adam say to his wife on the day before Christmas?

It's Christmas, Eve!
Love, your family

Advent Calendar Day 15:

Dallin –

Here is a song to make you think of snow and skating on one of those blistering hot Argentine days! And it’s smooth, smooth jazz to boot, what could be better? We love you.

Your Family

Advent Calendar Day 16:

Dallin –

Because you love food! Here is a recipe for one of your favourite Christmas treats… you might even be able to find the ingredients in Argentina!

Captain Crunch Candy:

1 250g bag semi sweet chocolate chips
1 250g bag butterscotch chips
1 400g box of Captain Crunch cereal

Put the cereal into a large bowl (you need to be able to stir it without it falling out of the bowl). On the stove top over low heat melt the chips together (make sure you do it over LOW heat and stir it constantly so that you don’t burn the chocolate). Once the chips are melted pour the chocolate mixture over the cereal and stir well until all the cereal is coated with chocolate. Transfer the cereal onto a cookie sheet and allow to harden. Once the candy is hardened break into pieces and store in an airtight container. Don’t worry about how long it keeps, it will be gone quick!

Love your family!

Advent Calendar Day 17:

Important Christmas factoid found on the Internet:

“Norwegian scientists have hypothesized that Rudolph’s red nose is probably the result of a parasitic infection of his respiratory system.”

Love, your family

Advent Calendar Day 18:

Dallin –

On this day at home the thing that you would have been celebrating is not necessarily Christmas related; your parent’s 21st wedding anniversary! 

On this day you can think of two things: the temple (a place where we can make covenants with our Heavenly Father) and that as a result of the sacrifice of our Saviour Jesus Christ families can be together forever! We love you and hope you have a wonderful day!

Love your family

Friday, December 19, 2014

Advent Calendar Days 7 to 12

Advent Calendar Day 7:

Dallin –

So this is the time of year when I read all of our books to you guys and you know one of the classics is “The Grinch”. I am not going to send you the whole story, just one little part of it:

Three thousand feet up! Up the side of Mt. Crumpit,
He rode with his load to the tiptop to dump it!
“Pooh-Pooh to the Whos!” he was grinch-ish-ly humming.
“They’re finding out now that no Christmas is coming!
They’re just waking up! I know just what they’ll do!
Their mouths will hand open a minute or two
Then the Whos down in Who-ville will all cry BOO-HOO!”

“That’s a noise,” grinned the Grinch,
“That I simply MUST hear!”
So he paused. And the Grinch put his hand to his ear.
And he did hear a sound rising over the snow.
It started in low. Then it started to grow….

But the sound wasn’t sad!
Why, this sound sounded merry!
It couldn’t be so!
But it WAS merry! VERY!

He stared down at Who-ville!
The Grinch popped his eyes!
Then he shook!
What he saw was a shocking surprise!

Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,
Was singing! Without any presents at all!
He HADN’T stopped Christmas from coming!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: “How could it be so?
It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
It came without packages, boxes or bags!”
And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore,
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.
Maybe Christmas… perhaps... means a little bit more!”

We hope that you get the opportunity to share the “little bit more” of Christmas with many people this coming week! Love you.

From your Family!

Advent Calendar Day 8:

Hi Dallin --

Today we celebrated Ceris's birthday. It's not totally Christmas-related but her birthday does take place at Christmas time every year so we thought we were justified to send you a gif of her blowing out her candles.

Love, your family

Advent Calendar Day 9:

Hey Dallin –

We all need a little “Canadianess” in our Christmas. Hope you enjoy mom, Robert and Linnea singing this new Canadian classic Christmas carol!

Love your Family

Advent Calendar Day 10:

What could be more Canadian at Christmas than lumberjacks sawing a buche de Noel?

Love your Family!

Advent Calendar Day 11:

Dallin –

Here is a colouring page that you can print off for any of your investigators or members who have little kids that might want to colour a picture of “Little Jesus”

Little Jesus

Fairest little Jesus child
Came to earth so meek and mild,
Came to earth to show the way.
Praise we sing on Christmas Day!

Fairest little Jesus child,
From the heavens angels smiled.
We a gift before thee lay.
Praise we sing on Christmas Day!

Love your family!

Advent Calendar Day 12:

A meme from your favourite Christmas movie:

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Advent Calendar Days 1 to 6

Since we are not able to send Elder Backstrom packages from home (the mission has requested that no packages be sent because of the very large duty put on such packages that arrive from outside the country), we decided to send Dallin an e-mail advent calendar with some fun things for him to enjoy. We know he only gets these once a week on p-day, but we have been sending them every day. We thought you might enjoy seeing what we have sent to him:

Advent Calendar Day 1:


Tonight was family home evening and we set up the Christmas stuff and listened to Christmas music and watched a Christmas video and drank Eggnog. In other news, mom got the Christmas cake made and all in all, we're feeling pretty pumped for the Holidays to come. What's Christmas like in Argentina? The first one you spent was in the MTC, so this'll be the first real one. Hope you enjoy every minute of it. We miss you lots!
The Family

Advent Calendar Day 2:

For day 2 your favourite Christmas elf demonstrates how to celebrate the season in an elevator:

elf animated GIF

Advent Calendar Day 3:

Time to listen to some great Christmas music, Dallin. Hopefully this will bring back some memories and to please you it is a little bit of “cool jazz” for you.

Advent Calendar Day 4:

Because the Christmas season can bring out the very best in all of us; enjoy this poem and feel free to share it with others.

Love your Family

At Christmas
By Edgar Guest

A man is at his finest
     towards the finish of the year;
He is almost what he should be
     when the Christmas season is here;
Then he's thinking more of others
     than he's thought the months before,
And the laughter of his children
     is a joy worth toiling for.
He is less a selfish creature than
     at any other time;
When the Christmas spirit rules him
     he comes close to the sublime.

When it's Christmas man is bigger
     and is better in his part;
He is keener for the service
     that is prompted by the heart.
All the petty thoughts and narrow
     seem to vanish for awhile
And the true reward he's seeking
     is the glory of a smile.
Then for others he is toiling and
     somehow it seems to me
That at Christmas he is almost
     what God wanted him to be.

If I had to paint a picture of a man
     I think I'd wait
Till he'd fought his selfish battles
     and had put aside his hate.
I'd not catch him at his labors
     when his thoughts are all of pelf,
On the long days and the dreary
     when he's striving for himself.
I'd not take him when he's sneering,
     when he's scornful or depressed,
But I'd look for him at Christmas
     when he's shining at his best.

Man is ever in a struggle
     and he's oft misunderstood;
There are days the worst that's in him
     is the master of the good,
But at Christmas kindness rules him
     and he puts himself aside
And his petty hates are vanquished
     and his heart is opened wide.
Oh, I don't know how to say it,
     but somehow it seems to me
That at Christmas man is almost
     what God sent him here to be."

Advent Calendar Day 5:

Today we are giving you something that we don't think you are going to get for Christmas in Argentina: SNOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Since we don't have enough bandwidth to send actual snowballs to you, attached are some photos of your bro in the snow, plus the trampoline, which we didn't get around to putting away before winter. Enjoy -- from your family.

 Advent Calendar Day 6:

Hello Dallin --

When we asked Linnea what we should send you for the Advent Calendar today, she said a nativity. So here are three pictures of Argentina-related nativities. Two are Argentina nativity stamps and the other is a somewhat sacrilegious picture -- or a reminder of where our priorities should be, one could say -- showing former Argentina soccer great Maradona in place of the baby Jesus.

Love, your family

Around The Scriptures In Forty Days!

Well, how is everyone?

I am writing my "General epistle" first this week, seeing as recently the time has made a bad play of me and left me sending sub-par letters.

This week has been a pretty interesting one for me. while we did not manage to find a lot of people at home, we did make some important contact with some people who were sort of slipping through our fingers (especially a lady named Soledad Paz, who is a good friend of a member in a province outside of the mission...)

This week we also had a zone conference with President Goates and also the stake conference on Saturday and Sunday. I learned a lot, and especially in zone conference they really talked about a lot of different things that I appreciated and learned from.

Also this week, I made a new personal study plan, and started a special study project: Starting on the twelfth of December, I was (am) going to read through all of the standard works, cover to cover, in forty days. In approximate math that means 64 pages per day. I started reading in the New Testament and now, on the fourth day, have read up to nearly the end of Paul's epistle to the Romans (and have about 25 pages left to go to finish today even!) Reading that much each day there are definitely things that I don't retain, but it is also helping me get a better knowledge of the the general contents of the scriptures and take away more meaning from the patterns of teaching that I see repeated again and again. Having read all the scriptures that treat the life of Jesus Christ in only two days,  I was impressed by the meaningful, applicable teachings the he delivered in every moment. His actions taught that men should have faith; His example that we should never fear, but rely always in God.

Something that impressed me about zone conference that I then got again from the scriptures was when President taught that the words of greater faith are "and if not..." Citing the story of the friends of Daniel at the point of being cast into the fire by an infuriated king, he reminded us that they were calmly confident that their God would deliver them from the heat of the furnace. Then he pointed out in one of the verses, that the three young men said, "and if not, we know that we would not bow down and worship your idol." He used this example to teach that although it is good to have faith that God will work mighty miracles in our lives, the words of greater faith from these young men (Who where miraculously protected from the flames) were that even if God did not save them according to their desire, they would continue with faith in him. Then, reading of the life of Jesus Christ, it was evident to me that although he knew that he would be delivered up, and scourged, and suffer pains that would make him even to tremble and would that he might not drink the bitter cup, he never so much as wavered in the least in his absolute confidence in his Father. He knew that he would not be delivered, and yet his example taught that it does not mater what we have to go through in this life- that everything is worth the price it takes to do always the things that will please our Heavenly Father.

Have a good week everyone,
El. Backstrom

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Fun P-day Pics!

Well hello folks.

Welcome to this week's weekly letter. Pictures included!

We had a p-day in the chapel as a district today, playing Frisbee.
The whole district, serious faces. well, the Elders are making serious faces.

Goofy faces!

More goofy faces.

Civilized people.

left to right, top row: Hna. Larios, Hna. Jacinto, Hna. Harris, Hna. Rodriguez
Bottom row: El. Evans, el. Pinero, El. Inca, El. Backstrom

A group photo

Me with each member of the district;

El. Pinero,

El. Evans,

Hna. Rodriguez,

Hna. Jacinto,

Hna. Larios,

Hna. Harris,

And Elder Inca.

And there you go! a few pictures of a fun p-day.

Alright. So, it's gotten really hot. I've had a little trouble sleeping at night due to that. we've had a week with a bit of difficulty finding people at home so it's been a couple of empty days in the beating sun- but at least there is wind here. My study this week has been centered in the gospel of Matthew, and I studied several times the sermon on the mount- it is fascinating how applicable the teachings therein still are. 

Alright, sorry it's short, I have to go, lots of love,

El. Backstrom

Sunday, December 7, 2014

A Christmas Message

Hello everyone who may or may not have believed me to have been seriously ill last week. Well, I was very bad last week but I got better on the Tuesday.

Well I can't write much right now. Please forgive me! but I would like to invite everyone to watch the church's Christmas initiative video and to share it if you can!

Thanks and sorry.
Have a good week!

In case you want to watch or share this video in English, enjoy!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Sick days for El Backstrom

So, this will be short, because I am sick and kind of dizzy and honestly not understanding hardly any of what I am reading. Also I replied personally to almost everyone.

This week has been exhausting! I got sick with something and have been under the weather since Thursday. We did a lot of finding activities with not tons of results but did find one person with whom we had a lesson. It rained this week but we were inside that day because I was very sick. whew, lucky that those things lined up (well for my companion- I would have preferred to be outside in the soaking wet to in the apartment very sick.)

This week I read a lot of scriptures that impacted me a lot, but most of all I enjoyed Jacob 6- especially his concise "Oh be wise; What can I say more?"

Have a good week, keep smiling.
El. Backstrom

Also, some answers to some questions that Dallin's mother put to him that some of you might be interested in:

1.  How big is the ward or branch that you are serving in? Is it a ward or branch? What is the name of the ward/branch?

100ish active people, ward, Amppya

2.  What is it like in Argentina as you get ready for the Christmas season? Is it pretty commercial like it is here at home or is it more Christ focused?

Well Wal-Mart has fruitcake. I honestly have not noticed any other change in anything, except for one member who had us help put up Christmas lights. it's a lot bigger of a deal here that they're going to have an excuse to drink a lot of beer and make a ruckus which they call fiesta than either Christ or consumerism, if you get what I mean? basically it's not much more than another day that everyone has off from work in the minds of most people here.

3.  How long has your companion Elder Inca been out on his mission? What is he like (besides being cool, you mentioned that… just a little more detail please)?

Elder Inca has like 15 months, so not too much more than me. he is short, speaks Spanish, makes fairly good jokes and knows science (chemistry)

4.  Are you in a pench with other elders or is it just the two of you?

Us two, thankfully. makes cleanliness a real possibility

I thought some of you might enjoy a little more info on some of those things. I did. In case you didn't notice I put all of my words in purple!

Introducing San Luis

So, I have photos this week. Let's start there.

Hmm they came out backwards

This is mate, it's a traditional Argentine drink. I don't think I had sent a picture before.

This is the neighbour's dog, Lucy. we share a patio, so she sort of lives mostly in our house.

This is me. In case you did not recognize me.

This is my companion, Elder Inca, from Peru.

And here we are together.

Well this week, we have had a little bit of a hard time getting ahold of the people we're working with. Still it hasn't been bad; we found a few new people to teach and have been working a lot with the ward council on creating a ward mission plan.

I'm sorry I'm making this a little shorter than normal, but time is limited...

This week in my scripture study I happened to read James- and as I read, It interested me that he says that if we ask and do not receive, there is a reason for that. He says that if we ask and receive not, it is because we have asked wrong- or, perhaps, we might need to consider why God might be withholding the blessings we are requesting. Something that was interesting for me.

Well, have a good week then,

El. Backstrom