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.

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