Sunday, March 20, 2011

Monday, January 3, 2011 -- ¡Feliz Año Nuevo!

¡Feliz año nuevo! Espero que hayan pasado bien. [Happy New Year! Hope you had fun.] . . .

New Year's was pretty cool here. Our missionary schedule did not change, so we worked really hard during the day and into the night. However, towards nightfall things started to get a little weird. As we knocked around the neighborhoods, stuffed, scarecrow-like, life-size dolls began to appear, lining the streets in front of the houses. It was kind of eerie to walk down a street and have these dolls watching you, holding signs that said, "Chao 2010. Bienvenidos 2011." This is one of the ways that they celebrate New Years here in Chile (and in Colombia says Elder Jiménez). On New Year's Eve, people make these dolls that represent the past year, in this case 2010. Then they put them out on the sidewalk or in the street. (What they do with them will come a little later.) However, these creepy scarecrows did not scare a man such as I, for I did press forward!!!

We arrived at our house at the usual time and planned and went to bed at the usual hour (bedtime is 23:00 hours). However, we got up at midnight to celebrate for a few minutes. Fireworks over the bay on one side of the house and above the mountains on the other side, marked the ushering in of the New Year. The loud noises from the exploding fireworks and handheld "confetti poppers" had all the dogs going crazy and they ran down the streets as fast as they could trying to escape. The night sky was brilliantly lit as the colorful bursts of fire fell from above. However, the night was strangely bright in another sense and the city was lit with a reddish-orange glow. I looked down from my balcony to the streets and saw the reason. As the clock stuck twelve, the year 2010 was symbolically burnt away and every life-size doll was now engulfed in flames. Instead of eerie personifications of the year, the streets were now lined with fires. What a way to usher in a new year!

Elder Jiménez and I are working hard and seeing the results. Last change [or transfer] I wrote a few times about how the Lord was trying our faith and that the witness would come. Well, this week we recieved the witness. We now have seven investigators with baptismal dates and we will be putting [or setting] dates with at least three more of our current investigators this coming week.

To start off, I don´t believe I told you that we found Fransisca a couple of weeks ago. Elder Brady and I were tracting and he felt that we needed to go somewhere else. On our way there, we ran into Fransisca. However, we have not been able to teach her until this week. This week we taught her twice. She still has the desires to be baptized. Also, her reasons for wanting to be baptized are pure and true and we were therefore able to put a baptismal date with her. She will be baptized on the 23rd!

Elder Brady and I contacted a teenage girl and her mother in the street and they let us in there house. In the lesson, her brother Daniel was also present. However, in that lesson Daniel didn't really participate. Also, I hate to say it but I thought that he wouldn't be very receptive because he is what we call in the states "emo" or what they call here "pokemon." He has long black hair that covers his face and dresses in darker clothes as well. This last week, Elder Jimenez and I passed by their house to teach the sister and the mother. Daniel answered the door and told us that they weren't there. I told Daniel thanks and was just about to leave when my companion asked him if we could teach him. He eagerly let us in. In the lesson he was very attentive and asked amazing and thoughtful questions. In that lesson with Daniel, he accepted a baptismal date. Since that lesson we have taught him twice and he attended church yesterday! He really is the perfect investigator and completes with all his commitments. It was a very humbling experience for me, and I am trying to work better on "looking upon the heart."

This week we received a refererral from another set of missionaries in our zone. We received the referral at about 9:30 in the morning and the told us that they had set up an appointment with him for 10:30 AM that day. Elder Jimenez and I had to skip some of our studies and we ran to the other end of our area for the appointment. The man lived alone in a small house and did not have chairs, so we sat on one end of his bed and he sat on the other as we talked. Manuel (the man) is in his thirties and has lived a hard life. He is a very hard or tough man and works as a guard in one of the mines. After discussing with him for a couple minutes why he wanted us to come to his house, I picked a hymn to sing and we sang "Families Can Be Together Forever."

After the hymn I asked him if there was something specific that I could ask for him in the prayer that I was about to offer. He looked up at me and asked, "How do you choose the song to sing?" I was a bit confused and responded, "We go into a house and I pick the song that comes to my mind." Crying, he said, "Because that is exactly what I want--to be with my family forever." His son and his ex-wife (separated, but not divorced) live separately and were recently baptized. Manuel eagerly accepted a baptismal date. This man is a blessing from God for Elder Jimenez and I.

Time is short, but very quickly I want to tell you about Olivia. Olivia is an investigator from November, I believe that I wrote to you about her once or twice. Elder Jimenez and I passed by her this week. She always has told us that her problem is that she loves the virgin. However, we discussed this with her and her doubt was dismissed. Also, she always had told us that she didn´t need to ask God if what we said was true, because she had no reason to doubt us. However, Elder Jimenez challenged her to pray to God and ask. On our return visit, she told us that she couldn't sleep because she kept seeing Elder Jimenez in her mind, saying that she should ask God. She told us, tearing up, that she had stayed up all night and prayed and that she received her answer and knows that it is true. We weren´t able to put [or set] a baptismal date for her this week, but we will in a couple days!

. . . I love my mission.

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