Monday, October 11, 2010

Monday, October 4, 2010 -- The First Week

Where to start? I feel like I haven't written to in an eternity, but at the same time, it feels like yesterday that I was on the phone in the airport. Aha! There's a good place to start--the airport!

From the Dallas-Ft. Worth airport, we had about a 9 1/2 hour flight to Santiago. I slept some, but not very much. I was too excited or nervous to sleep. Needless to say, that was the longest flight of my life! No, literally, I had never been on a flight lasting that long before! Haha! In all seriousness, the flight wasn't bad at all. After being in the
MTC for two months and sitting in a classroom and studying all day, everyday, a nine hour flight was nothing.

When we arrived in the airport we had to go through customs and security. Dogs were sniffing all the bags, making sure that we weren't bringing in "illegal foods"--they are very protective of their agricultural industry because it is such a large part of their economy. I had some dried mangoes in one of my bags. When my bags went through the scanners at customs, they freaked out a little and took away my mangoes, but everything was fine.

Waiting right outside the airport was
President Gillespie and his wife and assistants. They took us to the waiting vans, gave us a sack lunch and we drove and hour and a half to ViƱa del Mar. We were driving through the countryside and then we drove up and over a hill. When we reached the hill crest I could see the city stretched out before me for miles. It seemed that anywhere you could squeeze a building, it was there. For as far as I could see, city clung to the hillside until the hillside dropped off into the ocean. We stopped at a scenic turnout and President talked to us for a little. He told us to look out and think of all the people out there. All of them are looking for something. Some of them don't know that inside they are wanting more, and others are actively trying to find something. President told us that it is our job to go and find them. That, as Preach My Gospel says--nothing happens in this work without finding. That was our theme for the day--finding.

We then continued to the flower clock where we took pictures. After pictures,
President gathered us all into a group. He said that continuing with the theme of finding, we now had to find our way to the mission home. He divided us into five groups (there were about 18 new missionaries) and gave us a paper with the address on it and told us to go find. My group got in one of the vans and was dropped off down town in the city. However, what President didn't know is that I am an Eagle Scout and came prepared with my own native-speaking missionary! Okay, well actually, I was lucky enough to have one of the native Spanish-speakers in my group. Because of him, we were able to make it there quite quickly.

At the
mission home, we filled out some forms, had interviews and ate "lunch" (I will explain the meals later). For the lunch, we ate some delicious empenadas. The first was an empenada de pino. This had ground beef, a slice of hard-boiled egg, and an olive in it. The second empenada was a napolitano. This had ham, cheese and tomato inside of it. They were both quite tasty!

We were all enjoying our food and each other's company and then all of a sudden at about 4:30, the
assistants told me, Elders LLoyd, Blumel (they were in my MTC district) and one other to go to the President's office. In the office he told me who my companion would be and where I would be serving. He told me to hurry up, grab my stuff and get in the car because I had a seven hour bus ride ahead of me.

At about one in the morning, I arrived here in my area and met my
companion! Well I think that I have built the suspense enough. Aren't you just dying to know where I am? Well . . . I am serving with Elder Brady. He is from South Jordan, Utah and is the leader of our district here. I am in the farthest north area of the mission, in the area La Serena. There is a lot of work to do here and right now it is one of the most successful areas of the mission.

Now some cultural things. Here in Chile, the society is a much later society. By that I mean that they get up later and go to bed later. Because of this, we
missionaries go to bed at eleven and get up at seven [instead of 10:30 and 6:30, the normal missionary standard]. For their meals, the breakfast is pretty much the same--oatmeal or toast and jam. However, their lunch is eaten around 2 PM. This is the big meal of the day. We eat every lunch with members and they usually serve us a few courses for this meal. However, they don't really eat dinner here. At around 9 PM they'll maybe have some tea and eat bread and cheese, but that's about it. It is very different from what I am used to, but I'm sure it will grow on me.

The work is going well here in
La Serena. We will have a baptism this Saturday with an investigator that they have been teaching for a while. We have four other investigators with [baptismal] dates set. Two of these are from the familia Torres Fredes, which we have been teaching. One of them is named Jaun, who is fifteen years old. He has so much light in him and desire to learn and grow. He willingly excepts what we teach and then seeks his personal testimony. From watching him, it has strengthened my testimony of Joseph Smith and how he was called as a 14-year-old. Although Jaun is and Joseph was so young, they both want to know and are willing to do what is asked, knowing that they will recieve their answers.

Time is almost up. Here is a section from my letter to
President about general conference:

I loved General Conference! It was so wonderful to hear the counsel of the prophet and other Church leaders. I particularly liked President [Thomas S.] Monson's talk on gratitude. We have so much to be thankful for--everything to be thankful for. When we express our gratitude we realize how much we actually have and our desire for more decreases. As I have seen in my first week here in Chile, we people in the US have so much and often are not happy. However, here, the people have so little but are willing to give so much. This talk has instilled in me the desire to give thanks for everything, to express my gratitude to God for all He does, to express my gratitude for His children and all that they do for me. It is such a simple thing, but it can mean so much to say, "thank you."

I also particularly enjoyed and was affected by President [Dieter F.] Uchtdorf's talk in the priesthood session [of general conference] on pride. It occurred to me how important his talk was for me as a missionary. We can do nothing by ourselves. This is His work and His glory and I am privileged to take part in it. I am determined to "humilfy" myself before the Lord and His people and give everything I have to the Lord, giving Him all the glory.

I am so excited to be here in Chile. Although the Spanish here is crazy I am confident that the Lord will direct me and help me to bring His children home.

I love my

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