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.

No comments: