Monday, November 22, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010 -- Summer

I am so thankful for this opportunity to serve my mission here in Chile. It is an incredible experience to give up every personal care and desire and devote every second to serving the Lord and serving my fellow man. But as Mosiah 2:17 teaches us, when we serve one another, we are serving the Lord.

Therefore, it all comes down to love. If we truly love the Lord, we will want to serve Him. We will want to obey His commandments. When we serve God and obey His commandments, we allow the Lord to bless us. The Lord wants to bless us, but can do so only when we do our part.

There is a quote by President [Ezra Taft] Benson [1899 - 1994] that says something like, "When obedience ceases to be an irritant and becomes our quest, in that moment God will endow us with power from on high." This has been something that I have been working on as of late: showing God that I truly love Him and that I want to be obedient.

Right now in Chile it is starting to warm up. School will be getting out for summer break in a few weeks. Summer is just beginning and the temperature is reflecting that. Luckily, I am very close to the coast right now, so it does not get too terribly hot.

However, I am not very happy with the sun right now, because it seems he has taken it as his personal responsibility to beat down on me until I am red as a radish. He shall not prevail! Don't you worry mother, every morning I rub on my SPF 50 armor to protect me from his attacks.

But anyway, as I was saying before I went off on that random tantrum about the sun, the seasons are changing. November is almost over and then we'll be in December. A song keeps going in my head, "It's beginning to feel a lot like . . . summer?" It will be quite weird to have Christmas in the middle of summer.

This week was a kind of tough week. Some of our investigators that we have been helping are not willing to keep the Lord's commandments and therefore cannot progress and receive the blessings. However, the Lord gives us trials so that we can be humble and learn to have true faith, or as Ether says, "the witness comes after the trial of faith." For after having a very difficult week, the Lord blessed us with some great new investigators.

We have been working on talking to everyone in the streets and not letting a single person pass us by. On one occasion at the end of this week, a mother and her children got off a bus right in front of us and we quickly walked up to them and started to talk to them about the Church. We visited them yesterday and taught them about baptism. They are very humble and loving people. The Spirit was very strong in the lesson and it taught the family about the truths that we were sharing.

Olivia (the mother) and Nelson (her 13-year-old son) accepted baptismal dates for the 19th of December. It was really cool in the lesson, because before we taught about the essentials of true baptism (age, authority, and submersion), she told us that her son wasn't baptized into the Catholic church until he was twelve because she wanted him to be able to choose for himself and because she didn't believe that babies had the ability to sin. Then later she told us that "She was looking for the real baptism and everybody knows the true baptism is by immersion." I am very excited to help them come unto Christ.

Javiera gave birth to Aaron on Friday. A little note about Spanish. In Spanish "to give birth" is said "dar la luz," which literally translated means "give the light." I think that is a beautiful way to look at it. Both Javiera and Aaron are doing fine.

I am so thankful for you, my family and friends. Each of you teaches me so much. I thank our Heavenly Father constantly for each of you. I am thankful for all the little things that God has given me.

Here is a quote that I love from President Monson's talk this last [general] conference, "Regardless of our circumstances, each of us has much for which to be grateful if we will but pause and contemplate our blessings." I hope you each take a moment to think about the blessings that God has given you and then thank Him.

I love my mission!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010 -- My Shepherd

I am doing wonderful. I love it here. My Spanish is coming along, slowly but surely.

Living conditions are all right, not bad at all. Actually, the pension that I am living in right now is supposedly one of the best in the mission. We don't have much of a kitchen, just a sink, fridge, microwave, and camping stove, but that is all right. We don't really have time to cook and the Church members feed us almuerzo, so it all works out.

The food is very, as my cousin Poly [who served a mission in Chile] said "bland." By that I don´t mean that it tastes bad (because it is delicious), but rather that it is not spicy like most North Americans think about South American food.

There are little "stands" (people just turn part of there house into a place to sell food "to go") everywhere. I love going and getting empanadas and papas fritas. The empanadas are delicious as are the french fries. The fries are always freshly cut potatoes and cost maybe a dollar for a huge plateful. But don't you worry, I'm eating healthy and taking my vitamins.

As for adjusting, still haven't done it. Why you may ask? Well, let me tell you. I just haven't felt the need to adjust. I mean it does not seem that foreign to me. That probably sounds wierd as I am half way around the world in another country speaking another language, but I think you know what I mean.

You asked me about singing and playing the piano. Singing--I do it all the time. When we walk in the streets, in the house, in the shower--EVERYWHERE. In fact, I write songs as I go. Here is one I have been singing/writing:

My Shepherd

He knows me more than I can understand
He knows me and has raised me from a lamb
He carries me when I am broken or afraid
He encircles me in love and says tenderly:

``Ye are my sheep, I am your shepherd´´
Safely we sleep for He watches over
In the morn´ His voice is heard
He calls my name and I will follow
He is my Shepherd

He is my Shepherd and I shall not want
He is my Shepher and watches o´er His flock
He leads to pools of water, sparkling and clean
He encircles me in warmth and says lovingly:

``Ye are my sheep, I am your shepherd´´
Safely we sleep for He watches over
In the morn´ His voice is heard
He calls my name and I will follow
He is my Shepherd

When I was lost in the wilderness
The other ninety-nine He left
To find and bring me to the place
Where His sheep can safely graze
He carries me there and in my ear He says

``Ye are my sheep, I am your shepherd´´
Safely we sleep for He watches over
In the morn´ His voice is heard
He calls my name and I will follow
He is my Shepherd

The work is moving along here in La Serena. Javiera will have her baby on this Wednesday, so we have had to push back her and Danny´s dates to the 12th of December with Raquel.

Elder Brady and I are working hard to be tools in the Lord´s hands. Not caring about what we want, but going and doing what the Lord wants.

I know that Jesus is my shepherd and that he has sent me here to find those lost sheep and bring them back to His waiting arms of mercy.

I love my mission!

Smile of the week: A lot of the houses here have patios with gates in the front of the house. I was on splits with Elder Roylance and we entered a patio with an open gate to knock the door. While I was knocking the door, Elder Roylance played with the gate and shut it. The gate could only be opened with a key. We ended up being stuck in the patio for 25 minutes before the owner of the house came and let us out.

Monday, November 8, 2010--The First Change

Today is the day that comes every six weeks in the life of a missionary. It is a day looked forward to, but also dreaded. Today was my first day of cambios [transfers] here in Chile.

I especially was nervous this morning about the change, because I had gotten a call on Saturday morning telling me that I would be leaving my area. When the call came I of course was excited, but also devastated. I love it here in La Serena and we have such wonderful investigators and Church members here. Although I knew that it was the right thing and what the Lord wanted, I did not want to leave. I took consolation knowing that I would be leaving the area better than I found it.

Then on Saturday night, Elder Brady got a call from the zone leaders and they told him where I would be going, but he couldn't tell me. Today in zone meeting I found out where I was going. The zone leaders said, "Elder Rowley, se va" (you are going), "a quedarse" (to stay!!!!!!!!!!!!!).

Needless to say, I was confused at first, but then I realized that I would not be leaving!

Hooray! It turns out that originally I was being transferred to Brillador B (I´m in Brillador A-- same ward), but the Saturday night call told Elder Brady that we would be together for another change!

This last week was wonderful! I set three baptismal dates with our investigators this week. Danny, Juan's brother, readily accepted a baptismal date for the 27th. Also, Danny's girlfriend, Javiera accepted a baptismal date for the same day, unless she has her baby, then we will have to push back her date.

On that same date, we will have the baptism of an eleven year old girl named Dangela, who's mother is a less active member who recently reactivated herself. Also, on that day, we will have the baptism of Jorge and Pia, a father and his daughter. Finally, on that date, Tamara will be baptized. Then in December, Juan's parents will be married and then his mom will be baptized.

Great things are coming this change in Brillador and I am thankful to be here. I love it here.

I love my mission!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Monday, November 2, 2010--Three Months

This week I turned three months old! How crazy is that? Yesterday I got my mission call, last night I reported to the MTC and today I am in Chile with three months of my mission already gone.

Three months. That´s one eighth of my mission already gone. That is scary. Seven times that and I will be home and will have to start worrying about myself again.

That is one of the things I love about my mission--you don´t have to worry about yourself. In fact, you shouldn´t worry about yourself. The beauty of the mission is that for two years you leave behind selfish cares and desires and devote yourself to the will of the Lord. I don´t have to worry about doing homework, about keeping up on politics, the latest fads, going out with friends. Every second of the mission is spent thinking and worrying about others--my companion, my investigators, my ward, etc.

My focus is to be the best missionary that I can and become a true servant and disciple of Christ. In the MTC they told us, "Be the kind of missionary that your mother thinks you are."

Now about our investigators:

Juan was confirmed a member of the Church yesterday. His mother, Raquel (who will be married and then baptized in about a month), and his brother Dani, whom I talked about last week, both attended. Dani does not yet have a baptismal date, but told us that he will be attending church every Sunday.

Francisca still has not been baptized. I have not seen her in over two weeks. Every time we pass by her house, her grandma tells us that she has been sick, or is gone, or gives us some other excuse.

It hurts me so much to be losing an investigator so wonderful. Francisca knows that this is the truth and was making the changes in her life to follow what she knew, but now we have lost contact with her. I pray that we will be able to find her and that she is okay, but for now we have decided that we need to move on and spend our time more effectively teaching other people, rather than passing by to look for her.

This week we were walking and we saw a lady struggling to push her stroller up a dirt hill. Elder Brady and I quickly ran to help her and carried the stroller to the top of the hill. We talked to her about the gospel and set an appointment with her. She is very sincere and was very interested in the Church.

However, in the lesson we found out that she is "convive" or is not married to her "husband." But on the other hand, she has four children, two of which could be baptized. She told us that she would go to church but would have to miss the first hour.

Yesterday, we hoped that she would come, but expected that she wouldn´t. We were sitting in Sunday school when the bishop knocked on the door and brought in Alison (the lady), her stroller with baby inside, and her six-year-old boy. She is very genuine and I am excited to teach her.

Halloween is celebrated the same here as it is in the states. The kids go around to the houses and yell, "dulce o truco" or "dulce o basura," and then they are given candy. Because of Halloween, we didn't get into any houses yesterday, but we contacted a lot of people in the street.

I love mission!

Monday, October 25, 2010--Terremoto!!

First of all, today is a special day. A day that does not occur very often. It's a day that we celebrate. Do you know what I´m talking about? It´s P-Day!

Okay, well that's not really what I was talking about. What I am talking about is the birth of my father, Kurt Stevens Rowley.

Let's just take a moment to recognize all that has been accomplished during his lifetime. He was born in a land called Pangaea. He was there to witness the discovery of fire and even help with inventing the wheel! Yes, that may seem like a long time ago to some of us, but to him it seems like just yesterday.

I think of that Primary song that says, "One year older and wiser too." Well, Dad is a very, very wise man.

But seriously, Dad, happy birthday! Know that people are celebrating your birthday on the other side of the world. . . .

Yesterday was a wonderful day. Every Sunday is wonderful, but yesterday was particularly special, because it was Jaun's baptism. I was privileged to be the one to perform the ordinance. It has been so beautiful to see the journey that he has started and how he was prepared, even before we taught him, to take this journey that leads to eternal life. His whole family (and the girlfriends of his brothers) attended and thought that the baptism was something very special.

Then last night, we had a noche de hogar at their house and watched Our Heavenly Father's Plan. After the movie, Dani (the older boy, he and his girlfriend will have their baby in November) said that he wants to have an eternal family and that he has the "ganas de bautizarse." It is wonderful to see how the Lord works and how Jaun´s decision will lead to the salvation of his family and many others. We will start teaching Dani and his girlfriend more often and prepare them to be baptized.

As the subject suggests, I experienced my first Chilean terremoto, or earthquake. Don't worry. Nothing major happened. On Friday night, we were sitting at our desk on the second floor, planning for the next day. In the distance I heard a rumbling and then the desk started to shake. I quickly jumped up and ran to the door and Elder Brady and I huddled there, waiting about ten seconds for the tremor to pass. Nothing happened, but it definitely got my adrenaline pumping.

I have learned so much already. The gospel is incredible and I know that this is the true church of Jesus Christ. I love my mission!