Monday, April 18, 2011
Thursday, April 14, 2011
This has been a wonderful week. The work is progressing, as am I.
First, I will start with a cultural moment. Food. Well, here in Chile I have eaten on a few times "steak" (essentially a little piece of meat sautéed in oil). I have always thought that the meat tasted a little different, but I just decided that it was cooked "a la Chilena." However, I recently discovered the real reason why the taste was different. Instead of being cow meat, the meat is from a horse. That´s right—horse. I was a little, hmmm how should I put this, "weirded out" to think that I have been eating the meat of a horse. Apparently, here in Chile almost all of the "steaks" that they serve us are horse steaks. They say that the meat is "less expensive and more healthy." I couldn´t help but to laugh as Elder Boyd began to neigh one day after eating our horse meat. Also, I have been privileged to have a cow tail soup. Thus far I have avoided "guatita" or pig stomach, but there is still plenty of time for that.
Victoria and Marcelo are doing great. They are reading and praying. We are really excited for them. They weren't able to attend church this week because Leon (Victoria´s seven-month-old grandson) kept them up all Saturday night and they did not even here the door when a [Church] member passed by to take them to church Sunday morning.
This week we also put a baptismal date with a young woman named Yoselyn. Last Sunday after General Conference we decided to knock a few doors. It was already late, so we went "light hunting," knocking only on the doors of the houses with lights on. At the first house we knocked, Yoselyn came out. She was not able to let us in at that moment, but she took a Book of Mormon and accepted an appointment. The day of the appointment, I was on interchanges* in another area. When I returned to my area and to my companion, Elder Boyd told me that we had found gold. Yoselyn thoroughly enjoyed our visit and eagerly accepted to be baptized.
The Lord is truly blessing us and helping us to find his children.
Elder Boyd and I are getting along really well. The Lord gives me great companions. Tomorrow Elder Boyd will turn twenty-one years old. I am going to try to do something special for him. What? –I still don't know, but we shall see.
I love you all dearly and deeply. I am sorry it was so short this week, but next week I will be sure to write a novel just for you, Mom!
I love my mission!
[*Editors' note: the term "interchange" refers to a missionary's temporarily pairing up with someone other than his regular missionary
companion. The temporary companion is either a fellow missionary or another member of the Church. Usually, an "interchange" lasts no more than a few hours, but on occasion it may last for several days.]
¡Que bien pasó este fin de semana! [What a great time this past weekend!]
As I have grown older and more spiritually mature, I have come to love the words of the prophets, both ancient and modern, more and more. This weekend flew by as I watched the General Conference in English. There were a few noticeable themes throughout the course of the conference. However, throughout the whole conference I thought of my family and how it has helped me become who I am today. I will write more about conference next week.
This week we received some rather bad news. We had not been able to contact Elsa for about a week (since the lesson in which she accepted to be baptized). Throughout the previous days, we had unsuccessfully been calling her often and passing by her apartment and leaving notes. We passed by on Friday afternoon once again. That time, her son opened the door and told us that Elsa was not there, but that she had left a note. It didn´t sound very good—a note from an investigator; it turned out to be even worse. The note says the following:
"The following is to greet you and thank you infinitely for all your time and dedication to teach me about the scriptures and discover the beautiful teachings of The Book of Mormon. However, I should tell you that I will not continue with the studies, neither for baptism nor of the Bible in itself. The motives are health, work, and the rest are absolutely personal . . . ."
As I held the note in my shaking hands, I almost began to cry as I felt my heart swell with sorrow. Elsa is a wonderful daughter of God, who needs the blessings that await her in the gospel path. We have not lost hope nor given up on her. We continue to pray for her and will pass by this week to try and help her.
On a much happier note, we have two more investigators with baptismal dates—Victoria and her son Marcelo. We had just received the note from Elsa. Feeling a little disheartened, we said a quick prayer and began to knock in the apartments close by. The first door was opened, but the man was "too busy" to let us in. We continued on to the next door. A young boy opened the door and then went to get his mother. Before we could say a word, she told us to come in—a blessing after the "trial of our faith." In that lesson we taught and testified and they accepted a baptismal date. I pray constantly for them and for all my brothers and sisters that they can all come unto Christ by receiving His restored gospel.
I love you! ¡Me encanta la misión! [I love the mission!]
How time flies on the mission! I cannot believe that [my friend] Gustavo will be coming home [from his mission] soon. That means that [my friend] Brian will also be getting home soon. I am so thankful to have been surrounded by such great examples. It fills me with joy to think about the success that they are having on their missions. I feel like Alma, for "my joy is more full because of the success of my brethren . . . . Now when I think of the success of these my brethren my soul is carried away, even to the separation of it from the body, as it were, so great is my joy." (Alma 29:14,16)
My Spanish has been steadily improving. The Lord has truly blessed me with the gift of tongues, for I know that on my own I would not have been able to speak Spanish. About a week ago I was eating lunch at the bishop's house and his wife told him, pointing at me, "This isn't a normal gringo, he catches everything we say in Spanish!" I know that I have a lot to learn and I will keep pushing to learn more and more, but I know that I have come a long way since those first weeks in the MTC.
This week, after much prayer and hard work, we were able to put a baptismal date with our investigator, Elza. She is a single mother of one twenty-two year old son. Life has been hard to her, but because of that, she has learned to live a good, clean, healthy life and has learned to trust in God. Elder Lecaros and I taught her once, but we weren't able to teach her more because of her work schedule. However, she had an operation on her hand this last week, so she will not be working for a few weeks. In our lesson, we taught about the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Spirit was incredibly strong and she began to cry as she told us about the comfort that she had felt from reading the Book of Mormon. As the Spirit testified to her, we extended the baptismal commitment. She accepted the commitment and if all goes well, she will be baptized on the 23rd of April.
Also this week, we helped with a Viña del Mar Stake activity. They did a "Mission for a Day" type activity. They started out the morning in the "MTC." We arrived for lunch and then after lunch, the young men were assigned to go work with the missionaries. The priests and teachers were assigned to go work with missionaries in their areas, while the deacons were going to go set up a stand in a plaza in Viña. Elder Boyd and I were assigned to take half of the deacons and go work the stand. He, the seven deacons, and I walked down to the plaza and there contacted all the people walking by. It was extremely effective and was a lot of fun. I was impressed as these young twelve and thirteen year olds fearlessly approached the people walking by. That is how it should be. Everyone needs the gospel and we should fearlessly approach them and give them the chance to accept it.
This weekend we will have the wonderful chance to listen to our wonderful prophet. We will hear the words of the Lord, given through His chosen servants. I pray that I will be able to understand what the Lord wants me to learn. I pray for our Church leaders and know that they are led by God. They are his servants. This is His church. I am His tool and pray to be able to do what He wants me to do and become who he wants me to become.
. . . I love my mission!
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
The first week of each transfer is always important. During the first few days of each transfer we set the tone for how we are going to work in the following weeks. We establish the type of relationship that we as a companionship will have. The Lord seems to be blessing me with wonderful companions. Elder Boyd is sixteen months into the mission and is a great missionary. He is from Seattle, Washington and is one of ten siblings.
Nothing happens in missionary work without finding. This last week we have been focused on finding new investigators. We have looked and looked, but people seem to find any excuse they can. For example, this week we knocked on a door and we saw a twenty-five year old man look out the window. He then went and got his mom who answered the door. The mother, who was in her late sixties, proceeded to tell us that she didn't have time because she was busy tending to her baby. After she shut the door, we could hear her son say, "What baby?" She responded, "I had to tell them something so that they'd leave." It is so sad. These people are looking for something and know not where to find it. They need what we are offering them-the greatest gift, eternal life. I pray for all those people who have rejected this message, that the Lord will soften their hearts and in the future, these lost sheep will be led again back to the fold.
Sadly, Veronica is not progressing. It has been about four weeks since she last came to church and about two weeks since we have been able to teach her. Along with her slow mental problems she seems to have some psychological which impede her from progressing. However, that means that there is someone else out there waiting for us.
On a slightly funnier note: Yesterday we were "knocking" doors pretty much all afternoon. Here in Chile, practically all of the houses have gates around the front yard, so we don't actually knock the door. Instead, we yell "halo." (Phonetically "ah-low") House after house I was yelling "halo." My mind was so used to yelling that word, that when I went to greet an eighty-year-old woman crossing the street, instead of greeting her with a nice "hola," I yelled at her "halo." She practically had a heart attack, poor little thing.
I am doing very well, happy as ever and excited for the new transfer. For my transfer, I will be staying here in Gomez Carreño and will have a new companion, Elder Boyd. As of now, I don't know much about Elder Boyd, but I am very excited to have the opportunity to work with and learn from him. He will arrive from his old area sometime tomorrow morning.
Veronica is alright. She has some mental disabilities which make it difficult for her to progress quickly. However, she has the desires to be baptized. This week we were going to with her to see a baptism in another ward. At the last minute, something came up and she was not able to go. Elder Lecaros and I still went, because I was to play the piano and to sing a special musical number. In the baptismal
service, I sang and played on the piano a little medley of Primary songs that I had put together. The service was very special because an entire family was baptized. I love baptisms and the incredible Spirit that is felt during the service of this sacred and saving ordinance.
To answer [Mom's] question about the fleas. Hmmm, let's just say that we are not on very good terms—the fleas and I. Every night to prepare myself for bed, I bathe myself in 100% DEET bug repellent, and then cover myself in layers of protective clothing. This strategy seems to be working. It also appears that since they cannot win the physical battle, the fleas have turned to psychological warfare. This week they made an attack in a dream in which the fleas were covering my body. However, the fleas are brave and persistent as we all should be—brave and persistent in sharing the gospel!
As you all know, this last year at BYU I studied Japanese, thinking and hoping that the Lord would send me to Japan. This last week I found out one of the reasons why He did not send me there. I have friends serving missions in Japan and I know that the Lord has protected them. The news of the earthquake and tsunami is very big here in Chile. The night of the earthquake, many parts of Chile were evacuated in preparation for the expected tsunami. The tsunami never did arrive, but the people did prepare after seeing the signs of its coming.
I have been thinking a lot about the preparations for and the signs of His coming, of the Lord's. With the earthquake and the tsunami, my mind turned to Doctrine and Covenants
section 88, verses 89 and 90: "For after your testimony cometh the testimony of earthquakes, that shall cause groanings in the midst of her, and men shall fall upon the ground and shall not be able to stand… and the voice of the waves of the sea heaving themselves beyond their bounds." The Lord is coming soon and we have to be prepared. I have a lot in my head, but little time to explain.
I love you all. I know that we are in the path of preparation. The Lord is coming and we must be ready to meet Him.
I love my mission!!!
Monday, April 11, 2011
Transfers are coming up and as usual, I have been working hard to leave the area better than I found it. Veronica, our investigator who is preparing for baptism, is progressing very well. She is a bit slow when it comes to understanding, so we have to teach very simply and slowly. However, she has the desires to be baptized and to learn. This week we also taught two of her children, Jesus (age 14) and Lorena (age 12). They also accepted [an invitation] to be baptized on the 26th of this month. We are working with them to try and prepare them for that date. The work is progressing and Elder Lecaros and I are begging to see the fruits of our labor as this transfer comes to an end.
In my personal study of the Book of Mormon, I recently read Enos. As I read, I noticed something interesting. The words of his father caused Enos to cry to the Lord. First, Enos cries to the Lord for his own soul. Then after he receives forgiveness and comfort from the Lord, he cries out for the Nephites and then for the Lamanites. Truly this is how the gospel works within oneself. After Enos had come to know the joy and comfort of the Lord, he cries out for his people the Nephites. However, Enos does not stop with the Nephites, but also calls out to the Lord for his enemies, the Lamanites. I pray that the Lord will give me the same desires and faith that Enos had. That I too can come to know the Lord as Enos did and that my friends, family, and ´´enemies´´ can come to know him too.
. . . I love my mission!
Friday, April 8, 2011
¡No puedo creer que ya he cumplido siete meses hoy! El tiempo y yo no somos amigos... [I cannot believe I have already served seven months today! Time and I are not friends ...]
This week started off slightly difficult. Elder Lecaros was ill in bed for a day and a half. So I was stuck inside with him all that time. Although I was not able to leave and do any proselyting, I still got a lot done. I read all the Isaiah chapters (and more) in 2nd Nephi; I cleaned the bathroom, kitchen and closet; I vacuumed the entire apartment; updated my journal; made some delicious noodles; and even wrote a new song entitled "Return With Honor."
As I was inside the apartment for all that time, I realized something—there is a lot of time in every day. There is so much time to find people, to teach, and to serve. It gave me a renewed perspective on the work and the time that I have. Yes, the days and weeks fly by, but there is plenty of time to fulfill my purpose as a missionary and help others come unto Christ.
After being stuck inside for such a "lengthy" period of time, when we left the apartment, I left with a new-found energy and desire to work. Although the current area has been difficult thus far, I am determined to be successful. I remember in the MTC [Missionary Training Center] one of my teachers told us, "There is no such thing as a hard area, just a missionary who lacks faith." As I pondered upon that statement this week, I have examined my faith and the success that we have (or have not) seen in this area. I believe that I have the faith necessary. The Lord has called me here to this area to work for a reason. The scriptures teach us that the Lord is bound when we do what He says [see Doctrine and Covenants 82:10]; so I left the apartment, determined to prove the Lord in His promise.
In the last two days, we have seen the long awaited success as the Lord has fulfilled His promise. On Friday we found a new investigator, Veronica, by doing tours of the chapel. On Saturday, we went to her house to teach her and she accepted a baptismal date for the 26th of March! Furthermore, she attended church yesterday! She is very well prepared and will probably be baptized even before the 26th. I thank the Lord for giving Elder Lecaros and I this tender mercy. I know that if I continue with energy and excitement, being obedient, the Lord will continue to bless us.
Saturday evening we had a ward activity. The activity was a "completada" and talent show. By completada, I mean that we all enjoyed delicious completos. Have I not explained completos yet? They are one of my favorite food items! Completos are hot dogs in toasted bread with tomatoes, guacamole, mustard, mayo, ketchup and "pebre" (salsa). Also, I sang a song while playing the piano, accompanied a couple on the piano and played the piano part of "La Bamba" while the ward sang along. It was an excellent activity and helped the ward come together.
I am so grateful to be on my mission and am so excited for all my friends who have served, are serving, and are still preparing to serve. I know that the Lord blesses us when we are obedient. He gives us trials and tests so that we can learn and become more like Him. I love my Heavenly Father. . . . I love my entire family and all my friends! I love my mission! ¡Amo la misión!
¡Les quiero tanto! Gracias por todo lo que hacen. Gracias por escribirme cada semana y por mandar cartas por correo. [I love you so much! Thanks for all you do. Thanks for writing each week and sending letters by mail.]
My second Sunday here in Gomez Carreño was wonderful. I love Sundays. What a blessing it is to attend church and renew our covenants by taking the sacrament. . . . I play the piano during sacrament meeting. I am so happy that I am able to put to use the talent that God gave me.
Yesterday we had one investigator attend church. Sadly our one investigator with a baptismal date did not come. However, the investigator who came is pretty amazing. We have not yet taught Elsa (the investigator) this transfer. She was taught once by the missionaries last transfer, but since then she has been progressing on her own, with help from her [Church] member friend. She has been reading the Book of Mormon and praying on her own. Right now she has read up to 3rd Nephi! The Lord really has prepared people for us to find. However, it was Elsa´s friend who planted the seed.
We have been working a lot with the members this week. We have been passing by their houses to do an activity with them. At the end of the lesson, we give them a Book of Mormon so that they can write their testimony and gave away the book to a friend. The Book of Mormon is incredible and has the power to change the lives of all those who read it. I encourage you to do the same thing that we are doing with the members—take a book, write your testimony and give it to a friend. Plant the seed and watch how the tree grows!
This last week I have been focusing on learning to listen, feel, and understand [the] promptings [of the Holy Ghost]. As members and missionaries it is important to have the guidance of the Holy Ghost. Through his promptings we learn what the Father wants us to do, where we should or should not be, what we should say, etc. Here are a few of the experiences that I have had that relate to the promptings of the Holy Ghost.
This Wednesday we were walking in the street and I felt a strong impression to talk to a young woman who was walking with her baby in a stroller. She was extremely receptive and accepted a Book of Mormon and a teaching appointment on Friday. During the lesson, she was very attentive and very receptive. When we extended her the baptismal commitment, she said that she needed to read the chapter that we left her, ponder the message in her heart, and ask God if it is true. As the introduction of the Book of Mormon says, those who do this will gain, through the Holy Ghost, a testimony that these things are true. We have an appointment with her tonight.
Last night I had a similar experience. We were working in one part of our area but I felt a prompting that we should go visit the Acuña family. We crossed our area and arrived at their house, where Hermana Acuña was waiting outside for us. She told us that she had been praying that we would come to give her a blessing. The Lord answers prayers and has given us the gift of the Holy Ghost to help us know the answers.
Thank you for your support. . . . I love my mission!
Last week we were doing tours of the church and found Ximena. We have now taught her twice this last week. In the last lesson that we had, we were teaching her about the need to be baptized. We explained that Jesus showed us the example of how to be baptized and taught us that we have to be baptized in order to enter God´s kingdom (John 3:5). She then looked at us with tears in her eyes and said, ´´So if I don´t get baptized the same way that Christ was, then I can´t go to heaven?´´ I then repeated the question back to her and asked her what she thought. We waited in silence. She sat thinking as the Spirit testified. She then said, ´´No, I know that I have to be baptized, I have to be baptized.´´ The Spirit was so strong. We didn´t talk much, rather we testified, read scriptures and let the Spirit teach her as she discovered the answers for herself.
There isn´t much time, I´m sorry. More will come next week, I promise!
I´ll end with an experience. A couple of days ago, we stopped by to check on Hermana Acuña. She told us that the night that we gave her the blessing, she slept like a rock. Ever since then she has not had a single problem sleeping! As all miracles are performed according to faith, I know that Hna Acuña has a lot of faith. There truly are miracles performed today. What a privilege it is to be able to hold the power of God and to be able to act in His name. . . . He is guiding me and helping me find my lost brothers and sisters here in Chile. I love Him. . . . I love my mission!