Wednesday, December 19, 2012

2012 Year in Review

January, in Melipilla with Elder Balcón from Concepción (but kind of an Argentino because he lived there for 10 years).

[At this point, let me define "changes" or cambios.  Changes= every six weeks, missionaries are moved around, you may be moved to a new area or stay where you are and receive a new companion.  Or you may receive no change and stay together for another six weeks.  So Joshua and Elder Balcón stayed together in Melipilla for 12 weeks. :)]

In March, still in Melipilla, now with Elder Gambini from Argentina.
Elder Gambini far right.

In May, transferred to El Parron, La Cisterna with Elder Inalef from Argentina.

Jesus on the left, Mary on the right, Joshua in the middle.

So it feels like a LOT has happened this week, not least of all is the fact that I got to talk to my Mommy and family for Mother´s Day!

Tuesday I found out that I was going exactly where I thought I was going- La Cisterna.  It´s a tougher zone in the city and I´ve heard it´s also one of the oldest areas in Chile.  I´m way excited though because it´s the same zone where Elder Mahoni served for three months and where Elder Champion was for four.  It´s a weird turn of events but it´s seems that I met the Bishopric, two of Elder Champion´s super strong converts, and the majority of the ward there in the temple two weeks ago.  How crazy is that?? Surprisingly, they all recognized me.  I´ve been feeling really loved and wanted here by the members.  They aren´t many, but they are united and strong.  Hermano Roco said that his family was talking about how it seems like I´ve been working here forever.  That made me feel really happy, because that´s exactly how I feel.  I already love this ward and I´m so excited for everything we have planned.

Okay, so firstly, my companion, Elder Inalef.  He´s from (wait for it) Argentina.  Shocker, I know. He has nine months in the mission, same as me, and is 25 years old.  And, oddly enough, he was trained by Elder Champion.  I love him to death because he´s just the calmest, humblest guy I´ve ever met.  With his slow, well-thought out sentences and quiet testimony, he is a perfect complimentary contrast to my loudness and overly-directness.  Whenever I feel like I´m being too much, I can just shut up and let Elder Inalef knock ´em out with his simple sincerity.  I really want to be more like that kid.

It´s been a change being senior companion, too.  Elder Gambini joked and said that I was always the one in charge (I just walk the fastest and have a very loud, obnoxious personality) but that now it´s ¨legal.¨ Har har har.  But I´ve learned that I never really realized that there was always this bizarre security or protection about being junior companion.  If something didn´t go well or we slipped a bit on a rule, I always could comfort/justify myself by saying, ¨Well, I´m doing my best, but I don´t know 100% what I´m doing and that´s why I have my senior companion to help me and make the call.¨  There were plenty of times where I panicked thinking, ¨What are we going to teach? What are we going to say?¨ And Elder Barrett, Balcon, or Gambini was there to save me.  Now all the responsibility, final decisions, etc, fall on MY head. And it may sound weird but one does feel the weight of that.  Sometimes I want to laugh when Elder Inalef looks at me with this blank face that says, ¨Umm...your turn?¨ because it reminds me of times with my old companions. 

My sector is El Parron, in, as I said before, the stake La Cisterna.  It´s a really, REALLY small sector.  We´re talking like 15 streets by 7.  Anyway, judging by the records and information left by other Elders, it doesn´t look like much of anything has happened since Elder Champion left about 15 months ago.  My second day there I organized all the records of old investigators (some of them are like five years old) by street. Now any time we have a free minute, we´re passing by old investigators or inactive members to find out what´s going on with everyone.  Basically, we´re cleaning up.  Haha and I´ve been really enjoying it.  There was a day where I was so obsessed with this idea of reactivation that I got annoyed because we had planned to pass by some investigators.  My goal here is just to organize the information, figure out who´s a member, and invite them to claim all the blessings they´re missing out on.  We already have this great new plan from the mission- we´re dividing up the sector into groups and every two weeks, two or three really active families have family home evenings with less-active families in their homes.  I´m very happy with how much planning (and work) we´ve done just in the first week.  The ward has been really supportive.  It has a lot of potential that´s been left untapped for a long time. 

I played the piano tons in Melipilla, and it looks like that´s what I´m going to be doing here.  So yes, Mom, all those lessons were worth it. I´m doing exactly what you always wanted me to do haha.  We also had our first English class Saturday and eight kids showed up (5 - 13 years old).  Sounds like more are going to come next week, including a Tia (schoolteacher) of one of the kids.  Haha it´s way different and way hard teaching little kids.  I have no idea what I´m doing.  

Some random cool things about the pension- we have our own washing machine (I appreciate that so much now, you have no idea) and a random ping-pong table for P-days.  Gives me heaps of flashbacks of being in Okada in college (especially of kicking Kike´s butt at three in the morning when we should have been studying) but it´s all good.  The shower is awful, as usual, and the hot water shuts off every three minutes.  I´m learning to not take so many things for granted.  I´m living as a group of four missionaries yet AGAIN (4th time now), which means that I´ve never lived with just my companion.  The other companionship is Elder Nilsen and Elder Acosta.

I´m surprised how many people don´t know where I´m from.  I´ve heard Brazil, Central America, Argentina, and Bolivia this week.  Sometimes when we say that we teach English they ask who´s going to teach.

A family Josh was teaching was homeless.  A TV show spotlighted them and the wealthiest man in Chile donated a lot of money for them to buy land and build a house.

In August, still in El Parron, training a brand new missionary, Elder Tasso, from Utah, aka "la fábrica."

Okay, so my greenie.  Basically, he´s awesome.  His name is Elder Spencer James Tasso and he´s from Alpine, Utah.  Haha, I know, I thought it was pretty funny.   He actually knows Trevor and they used to go snowboarding together.  He was in the same mission prep class as Kim this past year at BYU.   He is a really humble, fun kid and his Spanish is pretty good.  He can´t understand much (boy do I remember those days) but he is not afraid to just go for it so we´ve been getting him to testify and participate pretty well.  He´s getting better in every lesson and all the members are really impressed with where he´s at.  I really do love the kid because he´s just so humble and tranquilo.  When I went to go pick him up, President and the Assistents just laughed and said, ¨He´s just a blonde Elder Jones!¨  That was actually my worst nightmare (having to train myself), but luckily for me, he´s not proud, obnoxious, and loud like I am and he doesn´t judge me at all.  He was studying in the film program at BYU and is thinking about doing something with cinematography.  But, like me, he thinks he´ll end up making money for his family in business.  Anyway, we have a lot in common and it´s been a good experience.  It´s nice because for me it´s like starting the mission again - everything is new and exciting.  I love making him do contacts because as he stammers through his broken Spanish, people who would have just slammed the door in my face listen attently and politely to hear what he´s trying to say.  I am totally taking advantage of it.  I just say, ¨Look, my new companion!  He´s only been here four days!  Doesn´t he speak just super well?¨  

It´s definitely funny being with a Gringo again, especially a white-as-cheese, blonde, blue-eyed Aryan.  Seriously, this kid´s straight up from Sound of Music.  Almost nobody said anything to us when I was with all my Latino comps but just a week with this kid and I´m sick of hearing, ¨ELDER!¨ and ¨HELLO!¨ and ¨GRINGO!¨  Haha and when he says he´s from Utah everyone and their dog laughs and says he´s from ¨the fabrica.¨ 

Anyway, he´s teaching ME a lot.  I´m learning to go back to the basics and try things that I´ve long since forgotten or lost faith in.  He makes me more focused on our purpose and the people and he helps me keep things simple.  It´s really nice.  I never realized how FUN (and challenging) training would be.  It´s like the mission is 10 times more exciting.  I seriously would be happy to train the rest of my mission, even if it is tiring at times hahaha.


I know he wishes Kike could be his companion!

In September, transferred to Maipú with Elder McBride from Arizona.

Yeah, there are just a million things to do even on P-day.  But the good news is that we had lots of great lessons this week. We´re teaching this one family, Sylvia and her sister Mari, Sylvia´s daughter Kuki (nickname), and her boyfriend, Rodrigo.  It´s cool because even though Rodrigo and Kuki are super atheist, they´re really impressed with our religion. They say we entertain them and that they like how our faith seems to go right along with science, history, etc.  They read but they´re not super ready to pray yet.  What I love about teaching with Elder McBride is that we basically only teach the Restoration and focus on getting them to read, pray, and go to church.

We´re sharing a lot with Hermana Olea and her family.  She´s the only active one in her family and her husband is a nonmember.  The cool thing is that her son is serving a mission in Peru (he has exactly the same amount of time out as I do).

Shout out to Mom's mission to Ecuador. :)

In October, Elder McBride goes home, Joshua stays in Maipú with Elder Britt from Orem, Utah.

Elder Britt, who I love, is dying (going home) soon haha.  He was with me in Melipilla (he was actually my district leader) and I was hoping I´d get him.  Although it is funny becuase it seems that now I´ll kill him (he finishes the mission in two changes, in January) and I´ll probably stay one more change here in Maipu with someone else.  I´ll finally have to work in a zone for four changes [24 weeks] haha.  I´m pretty stoked though because he´s a super sweet, goofy kid from Orem.  He just loves everyone and he makes up random songs that he sings around the house.  He´s a good kid.  We´re pretty excited too because Sylvia is progressing really well, going to church, reading, and praying.  We have a noche de hogar this Tuesday with her with the Bishop´s family.  Felipe and his little brother, Celo, came to church this Sunday too.  Seeing so many investigadors in church gets the members excited and makes them want to start working with us.  We´re starting to apply the new mission plan of dividing up the sector and working in just one part (mostly with the members) for a loooong time.  We´re saving lots of time.

 . . .

[Elder Bednar came to visit the mission.  So amazingly, Josh met Elder Bednar three different times on three different continents, Murrietta, CA (2004), Okinawa (2009), Santiago (2012).]

. . .

So things have been pretty good.  Last Monday we went to Santa Lucia and it was pretty cool.  We ran into some Brazilians so now I´m studying (in all the spare time I have haha) Portugese.  My Bishop is a linguistics fanatic and has every book on every language ever (I´m pretty sure he´s got Adamic and Reformed Egyptian somewhere back there) so it wasn´t too hard.  Supposedly we can understand Portugese a lot more than they (the Portugese speakers) can understand Spanish.  I wonder if I´m going to come home and actually study all the languages I want to study.  There´s just so much power in speaking languages and it´s so much fun.  

But that day was one of those days where all the pressure and weight of things hits you at once.  I´m amazed how often it happens on the mission.  Before my life was so EASY.  Anyway, You know, it was one of those hot, sweaty, sacrifice-lots-of-time-and-have-no-time-to-sleep kind of days.  I really don´t mean to be a complainer and I just try to put on a happy face every day when we go out but there are days . . . .  I feel like I´m so inadequate, so weak.

. . .   

I think I received revelation this last week in Church.  I was sitting there thinking about how my companion and I as missionaries simply can´t worry and keep tabs on and notice every member, investigador, and family that we need to.  We get people to come out and start turning things around and then they just don´t have support from the ward (you know, everyone´s nice and everything, but nobody actively makes the effort to be a true friend) and so they go inactive after joining or refinding the church a few weeks after the missionaries leave.  There is so much inactivity.  I´ve never seen a ward here that has a functioning home teaching program.  As I thought about everything we were trying to do to get the ward going with activities, family home evenings, etc, I realized something- a ward is only as strong as its home teaching program.  Just about every problem there is could be solved if every Priesthood holder just did his home teaching every month.  I´m convinced missionary work would increase too, if only because those the missionaries find and baptize would have real friends and attention from the ward.  And you know?  It´s nothing very complicated or difficult.  But boy, is it complicated and difficult when we ¨go to the rescue¨ after they´ve already been forgotten, offended, or unnoticed.  Nobody wants to feel like a ¨project.¨  Nobody wants people to start worrying about them only after they´ve stopped coming to church.  And in any case it´s a myth that only the ¨weak¨ or less actives need a strong hometeacher.  The program is so inspired.  The Church really does have everything figured out.  If we could just get it together as Priesthood holders we would see more miracles in this church.

. . .

Couple of weeks later . . . On a good note, Elder Tasso and his companion told me that Juan from La Cisterna (El Parron) is passing the sacrament and doing his home teaching! I almost cried when they told me that last part, since I´m become something of a home teaching fanatic of late.

Our ward´s turning into a maquina though, so that´s cool.  This week we had 5 investigadors at Church- I was SO proud of Adriana showing up with Felipe, Celo, and Daniela.  The Dad still isn´t really a fan but Adriana has progressed so much, from not really being in the lessons to reading the Book of Mormon and coming out for two hours of Church.  I think she really liked it (Dani´s been in love with the Primary forever) and even Felipe´s getting excited about things.  Sylvia is AMAZING. She has such a young but strong testimony already and she feels very comfortable with all of it.  She loves reading the Book of Mormon (she´s crazy about Ammon) and she´s getting her sister Mary into it too.  We´re getting references from members and having lots of family home evenings.

. . .

I have no idea what you're talking about with an invisible horse and a Korean guy.  We don't see anything out here.  Chile doesn't have a lot of US infulence, it's not like Japan.  There isn't even a whole lot of Gringa music. 
[I told him the the III MEF Marine Corps band did a Gangnam style Santa Claus song and dance "Here comes Santa Claus."  Obviously he had no idea what I was referring to.  In Ecuador I had often heard U.S. fads on the buses.]

. . .

Sylvia's doing really well, already inviting people to her house and everything.  We've been struggling as far as finding people to teach and having lessons.  We are getting the ward excited for home teaching, ward council, etc.´ I also discovered this week that I like skinny ties a lot.
My mission just got extended two weeks to accomadate all the new missionaries.  We're coming back like the 25 of August now or something.Crazy huh?  I still have nine months left now! :)
We're living with two other elders from Cinco de Abril, so I´m with Elder Nilsen again hahaha.  I love that guy.

. . .

For our iniciative for the zone, ¨Seàmosle fieles¨ I repented this week and started writing in my journal. I didn´t miss a single day.  I haven´t written a real entry since November of last year.  Ouch.  I did write once in February but literally all it says is, ¨So I´m going to be better about writing in this thing.¨ And there it ended.  Goal-setting FTW.

Some members have already seen El Hobbit oh my goodness TRUNKY!!!!  [Trunky=thinking about home and non-missionary distractions ;)]

Oops, somebody needs to turn his temple picture right side up.


A FAVORITE song and scripture.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Monday, March 12, 2012

Chileno friends in Fukuoka

David and I went to Fukuoka this weekend to visit the Sasebo Branch and go to the Temple.  My flight arrived in Fukuoka an hour before David's and I was looking at the subway map.  A nice young man approached me and asked if I needed any help.  We chatted for a minute when I realized, . . . hey,this guy has a Spanish accent!  So of course I asked where he was from.  You guessed it -- CHILE!  So I hung out with my new Chileno friends, Fabián and Matías, in FUKUOKA while I waited for David to arrive.  They are here training in karate for 3 months.  Small world. :)  Of course we've planned for them to meet up with Joshua in Santiago when they return.
Fabián y Matías
Fukuoka Temple

Catching Up

Sorry I've gotten behind again.  Here are some more excerpts from more recent letters from Joshua:
Elder Champion (Fremont, CA), Elder Balcón (Concepción, Chile), Elder Jones, Elder Lacambra (Barcelona, España)
27 February 2012
I got frustrated with myself a couple times this week. When I mess up as a missionary I feel SO bad. For example, there´s this dog next to our house who ALWAYS goes nuts barking at us when we pass. (All the dogs hate us but this one even more so). Finally I started making a habit of making a juke at him and sending him running. Felt good until this week when the owner saw me and asked me to stop. Elder Balcon was impressed with how I just apologized and didn´t argue about how annoying and stupid his dog is, but I still felt HORRIBLE that I tarnished the missionary name to someone.  It´s so hard being an imperfect person and trying to be like the epitome of perfection, Jesus.
The view from Joshua's desk
20 February 2012

I'm starting to see what a person looks like who can make it to baptism. We have a few wonderful people who are keeping commitments and want to change, too, so it´s exciting.
We´re teaching with a lot of power and feeling the spirit really
strongly as we teach. I wish I wrote down all my experiences in a
journal, but honestly, I´m always so tired and when I have extra time
I like to study Spanish or Preach My Gospel. But I should share a cool
experience I had with Elder Lacambra when we went to Santiago to do our visas.
We were coming back waiting in the metro when this guy looked at us, and started talking to us. He said, "You always go preaching two by two, like Jesus taught. I looked over at you guys and I just felt a peace.  Where can I get one of your books?" We chatted for like ten minutes before we had to switch metros about the Restoration and gave him a Book of Mormon. We got his number and address and sent it to the office. His mom is sick in the hospital and he was going to visit her when he ran into us. It was my first real experience running into someone who was 100% prepared and sincere. It was a big help to my testimony that we are here to find people and that God is in charge of this work. One of the coolest moments of my mission.
I'm getting more creative. We've stopped knocking doors in the
mornings. We just go out in service clothes and offer yardwork to the
neighbors to try and serve them and win their confidence. It seems to
be working.
I love when we teach how when I feel prompted to say something out of the natural order of things or not strictly part of the missionary
lessons, many times my companion says it, many times with the same
words or examples. When that happnes, I know the Spirit is guiding the lesson and teaching, not us. Very cool.

13 February 2012

Joshua is not allowed to share names and details of the people he is teaching.  But here are general descriptions with no names.
A young man who's been attending church since a Christmas Party.  He and Josh have a lot in common, music and politics. :)
A single mom with a son Joshua's age and two 2 year old adorable "terremotos" as Joshua describes them.  Her prayers get more and more beautiful every visit.
Another woman we found because I felt strongly impressed that we had to turn back and contact her as she was watering her plants. She's super happy and animated and she adores us. Her youngest son has been playing futbol with us. Seriously, I love soccer now because we can invite TONS of jovenes who actually come and then we can start teaching them the gospel.   We actually started teaching her friend and her husband because they were there when we showed up (she thought we were coming an hour later). Nothing happens by coincidence in the mission. There are always little miracles.

6 February 2012
Seriously, the Mexican seems to be kicking in because today everyone
kept telling me how well I played defense (bajo), even my Chilean
companion, who usually likes to yell at me when we play futbol. I'm
finally the wall you always wanted me to be in baseball hahaha.
We´re working hard but we've been doing fewer contacts. Our sector is OLD and "re tocado" as we say.  The people here have seen lots and lots of missionaries. We´re trying to work with the members and focus on the investigadores we have. That said, we always find some good people contacting, even if the vast majority ignore us.  It´s a hard balance. We alternate between being very powerful testifiers and inviters to more casual, happy jovenes who just want to share a prayer.  I know we just have to follow the Spirit but man it´s hard.  I'm excited for the investigators wé´re working with. 
Seriously, I feel like I´m finally understanding the Atonement, the
plan, everything.  I said and did all (well, tried to haha) the right
things, but now I actually feel it and "get it" to some degree. I
actually feel like I know Him and love Him, and that he´s not just a
teacher, prophet, the founder of our faith, or the Son of God anymore.  He´s actually a person who knows me and has a relationship with me.  And it´s true, the more we understand the Atonement, the more we want to share the Gospel with everyone.
Can´t believe I´m a fourth done. That´s NUTS. Part of me feels like,
Wow, I´m so tired already, but mostly I feel scared that my time is
very, very, short.

30 January 2012
I thought today- I´m tired of being sick, I´m tired of being hot and sweaty and dirty.  But then this new investigator we found last week found me in the street and introduced me to her mom and her sister and talked about how they all want to come to church and needed to know when and where the meetings were. Felt SOOO good. We really work for those little moments. The mission is often hard, but in the end, you really only remember the good times. Pretty much like life I guess.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Excerpts from Recent Letters

9 January 2012
I´m working in the Melipilla Branch, Melipilla District now. It´s a HUGE district (basically a stake) out in the countryside outside of Santiago. There´s like a centro that´s more city and then tiny suburbs and campo campo (like corn fields and cows and horses for days). I´m working in all the tiny suburb areas. The other two elders who live with us have the campo campo and the city.  

Elder Balcon is my companion now. He just became a District Leader this change and he´s from Concepcion, Chile. I´m so glad I´m living with four again. We actually share the branch (my sector is named Melipilla 1). The other two Elders are Elder Champion (like that?) from Fremont, California, and Elder Lacambra from Barcelona, Espana. I love them all. Elder Balcon and I work VERY well together. It´s funny but the minute I went home with the three of them I felt fluent in Spanish. I could understand them all fine and I´m totally comfortable listening to Spanish and saying what I need to say now. I still can´t really explain the feeling because it´s just different. Still have loads to learn but I feel like now I actually notice words I don´t know now and I can ask for clarification and remember the answers for later. I actually understand the reason for the grammar rules and I struggle understanding why English makes sense now haha. I´m learning great Chileno (en vez de Espanol) from Elder Balcon.

I love the branch and her members and the campo is just absolutely gorgeous (just wait until you see my study view!), but it was a very long and trying week. My sector is very small as far as houses and population goes but very loooong, so we walk a ton and still feel like we´re trapped in a box. Elder Balcon has knocked almost every door and most of the time people just don´t come out.  Almost every cita fell through this week. We visited a lot of retention this week (people who´ve been baptized in the past 2 years).

I made a decision about halfway through the week that I was just going to be the happiest darn Elder in the world, come what may. I made the change because I remembered something my teacher, Hermana Vance, told me in the MTC. "When people see you, they need to see Jesus Christ." It´s become my motto. It makes the day go more easily but we still haven´t found many people who want to listen to maybe I´m going to have to think of even more different ways to present our message.   
Pray for us! I´m staying really optimistic but it has been very rough. I find lots of strength in the scriptures. I love Heleman Chapter 12 and 3 Nefi 7. Isaiah is actually a great motivational speaker for missionaries.

Random tidbit. You´ll be very proud to hear that I had Elder Barrett humming Pride and Prejudice music by the end of our time together. 

2 January 2012
I'm learning SO much on the mission, and not just about the spiritual. After a few different service projects, I'm completely confident putting in ceramic tiles in people's houses (WAY fun!). We got to do it again with an investigator and his family this past week. Cool seeing how Christlike service changes people's hearts and receptiveness to the Gospel. I'm meeting tons of people who say after meeting us they're excited to talk about God or learn about the Church, whereas before it was one of the last things they felt like doing.

I'm leaving Ochagavia!!! It's way exciting but super sad at the same time because I've really fallen in love with some of our investigators (I KNOW some of them are going to get baptized) and they really love us, too. They're starting to really progress. I feel the Spirit more than ever in our lessons and Elder Barrett and I are just tearing it up.  Plus I really don't want to say goodbye to our Bishop and other stellar members of the ward. It's such an awful, mixed feeling. I've been saying goodbyes and taking pictures. I don't know where I'm headed to until tomorrow, so I'll talk more about it next week.

19 December 2011
Yesterday was rough with all the rejection and disappointment but like always, we kept working hard and saw some little glimmers of success by the end of the day. We're teaching this awesome girl named Gabriela. She's the girlfriend of Oscar Nunez, one of the sons of a super strong family in our ward. It's amazing how much we can cover when the person is genuinely interested and wants to hear the message. She waited like three hours yesterday in the Nunez home while we got another person in the house with us so we could teach her. Can you believe that? :)  It was easily one of the best lessons we've taught on the mission. There were like six members there in the end helping us, and she not only has their support and testimonies, but she has seen how much the gospel has blessed their family...even though they've made mistakes. That's how missionary work should be done. Seeing the difference between teaching Gabriela and when we teach people after we knock doors or street contact is amazing. It's like night and day.

28 November 2011
I think it's interesting how being a missionary somehow
makes you a certified drug abuse, marriage, and family life counselor!
They really look at you like you can help them with anything. But more
miraculously, the Lord qualifies us and helps us to be able to fulfill
those roles for His Children through the Spirit.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Extreme Home Makeover and Change

I don't think Josh lives here, but it's a picture of a house nearby, so it'll do.

Joshua's motivational study area.
Hola amigos! Ojala que todos de ustedes esten bien!

Just going to apologize upfront for my English; every week when I reread my emails home to see what my family's responding to, I realize how bad it really is. :P Por fin estoy mas o menos comodo con mi espanol. Practicarlo es divertido de verdad ahora, pero es muy chistoso cuando digo frases de ingles en espanol o viceversa, porque me parecen correcto y no puedo darme cuenta cuando un frase es del otro idioma.

A mission inspector came by a few weeks ago and said our pension was the nastiest in the mission (it's seen around forty years of missionaries), so now we have "Extreme Homemakover: Missionary Edition" going on while we're trying to study. I hate the hammering haha. :) But the pension was pretty bad before, so seeing the new floor and working water taps (not to mention toilet flusher) has been pretty sweet. What with all that and having gas for hot showers again, it's been an exciting week. :)

We had a lot of success this week. We found a ton of super interesting Haitians that are excited to hear the Gospel. It's also one of the coolest things that I've ever experienced because being from Haiti, Spanish is not their first language either. So while we teach in Spanish, they alternate asking questions and helping each other understand what's going on in Creole and French...while Elder Barrett and I plan our next steps in English! Is that crazy or what? XD I love it; they're very cool, humble people. It's also interesting being able to recognize Haitian accents in Spanish. It's funny seeing how similar it is to their English accents. :) Anyways, they're learning a lot from their Book of Mormons and Bibles in French AND Spanish. ;)

Our Mission President taught a lesson this week and talked about a meeting he attended with some other Mission Presidents.  Elder Holland spoke and asked them why missionary work was so hard. Hahaha President said nobody wanted to answer THAT question! :D  Elder  Holland ended up answering his own question, though, and said that he believes that the reason it's so hard is that the Gospel "is a message of CHANGE."  And people don't want to change. Most of us don't like it. 

I really liked that; it makes a lot of sense. What we do as missionaries is invite others to come unto Christ by putting their lives in harmony with His teachings, so that in the end they can be happier. We invite them to "put off the natural man," or the natural state we're comfortable with, and CHANGE, be baptized, be born again.  Only by doing these things, by following Jesus Christ, can we start on the path to enduring happiness and eternal life.  But like Elder Holland said, people don't like change, and really every time my companion and I have been rejected, it has been because the person is comfortable or familiar with their habits, traditions, and day-to-day life.

I loved what our President said at the end. "Hay una vida mejor que tienen ahora." "There is a better life than they have right now." And that's why we keep trying.

I also love this scripture from the Book of Mormon. It really sums up all of our struggles as we try to help people make and keep commitments to pray, to read, and to come to short, to CHANGE. In Alma 42:27 it says, "Por tanto, oh hijo mio, el que quiera venir, puede venir a beber libremente de las aguas de la vida; y quien no quiera venir, no esta obligado a venir." Or in English: "Therefore, oh my son, whosoever will come may come and partake of the waters of life freely; and whosoever will not come the same is not compelled to come."

We all have our agency. God's never going to force us to do or have something, even if that something is happiness. So many good scriptures in the Book of Mormon and Bible about that.

Thanks Morgan, Sarah, and Neal family for your letters (the pictures were amazing haha(! In all they were very inspiring, even if some of them took a while to get here! :)

Miss you all! :) Hope you're all ready for Christmas! Remember what it's really about! :)
Elder Jones

Monday, November 21, 2011

"Uh-oh, uh-oh, trunky, trunky! Change it! NO one's going home for Christmas!"

Here is Joshua with his companion Elder Barrett
 and the two other Elders that share a pension with them.

And here's the little BBQ he mentioned in a previous post.
Hahaha if you're wondering about the title, it's just what my companion said when we were studying and "I'll Be Home for Christmas" popped up on our Christmas playlist. Haha you probably have to be a missionary to really appreciate how funny it was.  "Trunky" is what we call missionaries who are thinking about home instead of the work or counting down days or something like that. ;)
Well, we had changes this week.  "Changes" is when everybody gets their new orders for the next six weeks- where they're going to be serving, who their companion's going to be, etc. Our zone hardly got touched, so I'm happy to say Elder Mason, Elder Mahoni, Elder Barrett, and I will be spending the holidays together. We've found a lot of really good people in the past couple weeks that I have really high hopes for so I definitely didn't want to leave yet. Then again, change is really good, especially on the mission, and I would have been excited to see more of Chile and learn new streets and meet new people again. :)  It's all good.  Where the Lord needs me is where I need to work.
I'm getting really into the language and having a grand old time.  I think my only complaint is that I'd sure like to be able to take a break from proselyting and preaching when I'm sleeping!  I keep having these half-awake, half-asleep dreams where I'm teaching lessons and testifying in Spanish at like 1 in the morning. My companion's hoping it stops, too, because sometimes I have to wake him up to back me up and bear testimony of Jesus Christ. After all, I can't do it alone! ;) ....Anyways, it might be good practice for my Spanish, but it's definitely not helping my sleep. :P
By the way, I miss milk. REAL milk. I can't believe it's come to powdered milk. :( Saaaad face. And what's worse, I can't decide if it's a good thing or a bad thing that I'm USED to it now. :P My workouts every day have become increasingly more creative, too (water storage for weights, using furniture, etc.). Thus far I've been very pleasantly surprised to see how well we're able to stay fit and healthy. Of course, you have to work. We have plenty of elders who've decided it's just not worth the effort haha.
The work's going well. We had a few struggles with investigators this week hearing false information about our church from others. That makes me SO sad.
Special thanks to Kimi, Sister Krogh, Grandpa, Caroline, and Emily for writing me letters! I'll try to respond through my mom or a letter as soon as I can!  Anyway, that's it for now. Hope you're all doing great! :) I miss you all so much!
Keep the Faith!
-Elder Jones