Monday, December 28, 2009

Lo Ovalle 1 - Week #2

¡Hola Familia!

So, it was really good to get to talk to all of you on Christmas Day. Dad is right, it sounded like I was in the next room rather than however many thousands of miles away. It didn't feel like Christmas this year, in the mission it seems like holidays and birthdays just don't exist because the family is such an integral part in all of it. Eventhough everyone down here spends the holidays with family it doesn't feel the same as being with your own family.

It was so hard to speak English on the phone for the first couple of minutes. It was actually kind of ironic because I had just got done making fun of my companion for the same reason. And then after the phone call and all the next day it was hard to get back to speaking Spanish again (at least with any clarity). I kinda envy the Latinos in this mission that didn't have to switch languages, but I like being almost bilingual... :D

Saturday we found our first success in this sector...Woot! We taught a lesson to a mother and daughter (Maricel y Ivy) and put them with a baptismal date for the 24th of January. The mom has had the missionary lessons before but it was about 20+ years ago and was almost baptized wasn't her time apparently, but it is now! Other than that we've done alot of getting to know the ward because nobody wants to let us into their house to teach a lesson. Eventhough the holidays are the best time to find people in their homes they are also really hard because of the importance of the family in the Latino culture...nobody wants to interrupt their time with their family (and I don't blame them).

This past week has been a real learning experience working in a new sector, with a new companion. Until you are with someone who has barely more time than yourself in Chile it is impossible to know what it is like to rely on the Spirit in EVERYTHING! We should know what it is like before-hand but unfortunately missionaries are still people, and people rely on themselves alot more than they should... But Elder Davenport is great, he's got a really strong Spirit and a great command of the Gospel. We are going to have some tremendous success here, I just know it!

As always, new sectors are full of interesting we can see with Ernesto in my previous sector. Well here these new experiences are called Haitianos (Haitians). Wow!!! They are great people but alot of them don't speak very much Spanish or English nor do they have much time in Chile. Yes they are trying to learn like us but don't have the gift of tongues on their side. We are going to be experiencing the process of teaching through a translator tonight at 9:00 pm. Our translator is named Riki. He is a return missionary from Haiti that has been in Chile for 2 months and only speaks decent Spanish. Apparently we tell him a concept to teach and he goes at it, teaching, asking questions, resolving doubts, etc., etc. We however can't understand any of the conversation so he has to translate some stuff back to us...luckily not all...from the Haitian Creole-French language (más o menos). Sounds like fun doesn't it???

Sunday in our ward we had 171 people present and only 2 of all of those were investigators. We meet at 10:30 in the morning because there is another ward that meets at 8:30 (yuck!). Every ward in this stake, there are 5, has 4 missionaries and alot of active members...definitely a change from my last area, and from home. The leadership here is great and really welcoming, as was obvious by the fact that Elder Davenport and I had to share our testimonies and introduce ourselves in sacrament meeting. The best part was that directly afterwards the bishop spoke and told the congregation again how much time we had in Chile and that the only reason we could speak as well as we do is because the Lord works true that the Lord does work miracles, but I like to think that I've put alot of work into speaking Spanish as well. LOL...

Christmas sounds like it went well for everybody! And good to hear that Lufkin is still mostly okay after the F-3 tornado. I'm glad the only thing significant natural disaster wise that we get in Chile is teremotos (earthquakes) and those are very few and far between...("knock on wood").

Random funny...last Thursday we had all day as P-day because of Christmas and our companionship with 4 other elders and 2 sisters in our zone went into the central to the feria at Santa Lucia. It is a big open market with a bunch of souveneirs and nothing else. One of the elders with us, Elder Morrison, is leaving on the 17th of January to return home at the end of his mission and thus spent nearly $200 (American dollars) in the feria on souveneirs for his family to carry home with him...INSANE...

I'm scared I've lost my Texas accent for now and that I'll have to re-learn it when I get home. The only downside with that is that if I end my mission with a Chilean accent I'll end up losing it within a couple weeks after I return to the states. Either way, I lose...

Once again it was good to talk to everyone on Christmas and take a break from knocking every door in Lo Ovalle. But, I have a goal to knock every street in this sector before I get transferred, so I'm counting on not leaving in January changes...

Hope everyone has a great New Year, party it up for me!!! I'll just be hear losing sleep because everyone else will be partying!

Love you all and talk to you again soon...

¡Todo mi amor y cariño!

-- Elder Todd

Friday, December 25, 2009

¡Feliz Navidad a todos! ¡Espero que todos tengan una Feliz Navidad y que todos puedamos recordar la significanza verdadera de este tiempo del año!

¡Con Amor!

-- Elder Todd Hendrickson

Merry Christmas to all! I hope that all of you have a Merry Christmas and that all of us can remember the true meaning of this time of year!

With love,

-- Elder Todd Hendrickson

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Lo Ovalle 1 - Week #1: Merry Christmas!

¡Feliz Navidad a Todos!

Wow! These last couple of days have been a whirlwind of not so fun times, but so far I'm truly enjoying them. Sunday night at about 10:40 pm our cell phone unexpected rang with Presidente May on the other end of the line, needless to say the news that followed was not what I wanted to here the week of Christmas.

As of about 10:00 am Monday morning I am in the sector Lo Ovalle 1 in the zone Quilicura (maybe you can find it on the mission map). I am with Elder Dallen Davenport from Payson, Utah, and together we are opening the sector (aka white-washed). Elder Davenport has one cambio more in the mission than I, so we are really fresh meat here. Unfortunately we were transferred here under not so great circumstances, but as I'm sure everyone is aware I cannot explain. (Gotta love emergency transfers!!!). The upside is that we have the opportunity to start this sector out fresh and our ward is super supportive. We have about 200 active members in sacrament meeting every Sunday and all of the barrios in this stake/zone have 4 missionaries. Woot! That is definitely a change from my previous barrio. This sector is a little more (make that alot) upper class than El Salto, with many neighborhoods (villas) looking like we walked into the states!

Sounds like everything is decently well at home. Here it is looking a little like Christmas in Texas except that it is super dry (and Texas is cold this year). We are sitting at about 31-32 degrees Celcius on a daily basis here, but I'm starting to get used to it. Unfortunately, I don't think I've ever sweated as much in my life as I did my last week in El Salto (I guess because of the heat and in my case lack of humidity...doesn't exactly make sense).

Bummer that everyone has to work on Christmas Eve, especially since this is the one day of the year that we have almost completely free! Tonight we'll be in the home of a member (the family live about 5 steps from our front door) for cena (dinner) and we go home at midnight. We had our activity in the mission home on Tuesday night with 3 other zones, including my old one (Zapadencia), so we won't be there tonight...still works out OK. We were going to go to the zoo today but it closes at noon (boo!) and is never opened on Mondays. Also Tuesday, because I'm in a new zone and they hadn't gone yet nor had Elder Davenport, I got to go to the temple again. I've now gone through a session in Spanish twice and made it to the other side!!! LOL. I can now make it to heaven in 2 languages! :P

So, the work in this sector right now is few and far between. We have been doing alot of golpeando puertas (knocking doors) and have knocked into several members, as our sector is full of about 90% of the ward. We are having increased success with references from members, like I've never had before and it seems as if the missionary program in this ward and stake are really thriving.

It is hard to stay focused during this Christmas season, especially being so far away from family and friends. But it helps to be carrying a message of such importance to those that don't have the happiness that we do! I'm so greatful for the knowledge of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, especially in this season of the Navidad as we have a chance to reflect on his birth and life. It really helps to focus Christmas on more than just his birth, as crucial as that was, and to remember of his Atonement and sacrifice for each one of us.

(I just realized that whenever I'm trying to type in English I'm translating from Spanish to English in my head. Good luck with the phone call tomorrow! LOL)

I'm super excited to hear everyone's voices again and to hear how things are in the great state of Texas. I miss you all very much and I think about you daily (not enough to be disobedient and forget what I'm doing here). I'm eternally greatful for the sacrifice you are all making to help me be here and the support that each of you gives me. I love this work and this incredible chance I have to help others gain that which I have, eventhough it is hard...and it is HARD!

In this Christmas season I encourage everyone to reflect on the true meaning of this holiday season and think about all that we have received because of our Lord Jesus Christ. May his blessing and love be upon you and your family during this special time of year.

¡Todo mi amor! ¡Yo estoy animado para hablar con ustedes mañana!

¡Feliz Navidad!

-- Elder Todd

P.S. The package was received this morning when I went to the mission office to get a new cell was here in time but if we didn't have to get a new phone or I hadn't asked I wouldn't have it until Tuesday when I'll get the credit card! LOL. (Gotta love the office missionaries...)

El Salto 2 - Week #7

¡Hola Familia!

First things first...there is another e-mail headed your way very shortly with the phone number that I will be at for Christmas. I will be waiting for your call promptly at 1:00 pm (local time) [10:00 am (your time)]. More details on the phone calls in my other e-mail.

So...BUMMER!!! The news I just recieved is definitely going to put a bummer on my P-day, but I'll try to stay as upbeat as possible. Let me know when you get any details, if they come. I can't imagine! Let everyone know that I love them and that my thoughts and prayers are with them in this hard time. Don't lose faith and remember the great knowledge that this Gospel brings of the future! Wish I could be with you, but for now my prayers will have to do...

This week has been pretty mellow here in El Salto. Friday was Fase 2 y 3 so there is a big possibility that I have a quote on Hermana May's Blog (our shoe picture should be on there as well pretty soon). We had divisions this time and showed up late (Elder Sierra and I)...Murphy's Law with the TranSantiago system! Saturday we did divisions in our district so I was with Elder Francis (shout out!) in El Salto 1 for the day. I think we knocked more doors on Saturday than I have any other day in my mission! LOL.

The work is progressing, slowly but surely. Our 2 investigators who were supposed to be baptized this Sunday aren't going to yet (hopefully the following), but we've got one other who should be on the 27th. The other missionaries began teaching him 2 transfers ago and now we are working with him for various reasons, but he is progressing and wants to be baptized now. This past week we ran into him again and he has received an answer to his prayers that this is what he needs to do. Woot! So, he may be my first baptism (if so that will be an interesting story for later).

Today we are headed into Santiago Central to go to a park called Quinta Normal. Apparently it is a pretty big attraction here, with museums all around it, so we may end up going to some of them too. The more time I spend here the more I fall in love with this country (and its people).

Yesterday...elections were held in Chile. Everyone said that voting wasn't as bad as was expected at any time of the day. The system is kinda unique though, the people only vote for president and diputado (representative for 3 communities). If you are registered here you are required by law (with threat of arrest) to vote, but you don't have to be registered. Turns out that yesterday none of the presidential candidates got over 50% of the vote, so the top 2 have re-votes coming up at the beginning of the year (January or February). Ahhhh!!! LOL.

So, I just thought we dropped Ernesto (our investigator with armies). We have since learned that in order to drop him completely we have to completely avoid his street (not just close to his house). Last night we ended up having "the last supper" with him (we got pulled into his lair because we went to close [about 200 yards away]). So, Elder Low wants to keep passing by to basically do a case study on him and I want to avoid him if at all possible. We'll see who wins out on this one, unfortunately I don't think it will be me!

It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas here...everyone has their Christmas trees up and a few people have lights (not at all like the states)...and it is starting to get unbearably hot!!! The wind has all but stopped and the temperatures seem to be getting hotter and hotter everyday with no cooling at night. Oh the joys! I'm dreaming of a white Christmas!!! (But I'm not getting my hopes up).

I just want everyone to know that I love them and miss them, especially in this Christmas season. I look forward to hearing from everyone again soon and talking to you on Christmas day.

HEADS UP!!! Our P-day has been changed from the 21st of December (Monday) to the 24th of December (Thursday). I will be able to check my e-mail on the 21st only to see how the phone call to the member went and makes sure there are no problems with the calling on Christmas Day. E-mail will work as usual on the 24th!

Love you lots and hope to hear more from you later!

¡Todo mi amor!

-- Elder Todd

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

El Salto 2 - Week #6

¡Hola Familia y Emery!

Yes, I just finalized the name for "the DAWG" (as Dad put it), so her name is officially Emery...Gabe and Ryah did good for once.
So cambios happened last night and continue today, we got the phone call at 12:15 this morning (kinda last night). And the verdict says...all 4 of the missionaries here in El Salto are staying put for another 6 weeks. Also none of the Zone Leaders or the Assistants to the President changed this transfer (probably because we met our goal of 120 baptisms in the mission for the month of November), so that was cool too...Elder Low said that has never happened with President May (the leadership not changing that is).
This month is already starting to look promising for my first baptism. We have 2 people with fecha for the 20th and hopefully we will know for sure this week that they are definitely going to be baptized. Unfortunately this Sunday is going to be super crazy as Chile has their elections (presidential). So, hopefully we find out soon how proselyting is going to work or if it is going to change at all for Sunday! We've only got sacrament meeting for church so we'll have a longer day than normal.
Good news!!! We only have a few more weeks until Christmas/Navidad, ojalá Viajito Pascuero will be able to find me here in Chile...LOL. And on Christmas day we get to talk to our family (that means ya'll). I'm going to give you a low down on how it is going to work, because preparations have to be made this week and next week (on my end and yours).
Christmas Calls: We get to talk for 40 minutes of Christmas day! So the time is going to fly, but it is because we have to be proselyting that afternoon at 4 pm. So we will be talking at 1:00 pm local time, which means 10:00 am Texas time. Things here work a little differently so I won't be calling. Rather I will be sending you the phone number of a member next Monday where I will be awaiting your phone call promptly at the appointed time...LOL. Within a couple days of getting the number Dad will need to call it to make sure it works and the connection is OK and then send me an e-mail to let me know. (I say Dad because the person needs to speak Spanish). Then on Christmas day ya'll will have to call the number again (at your expense, way easier than us having to hassle with calling cards or running up bills on members phones). ANY QUESTIONS?
Back to the work... We finally dropped our loco investigator who has armies that are ready to kill us at any moment...luckily he is protecting us. He was really sad when we told him we couldn't visit him anymore, but we have no reason since he doesn't need a baptism.
Our investigator, José Luis, is on fire!!! He has been to church twice, and yesterday he stayed to practice with the choir (which consists of all the youth, one YSA sister, the missionaries, and now him) and afterwards stayed for the baptism that the ward/other missionaries had. He absolutely loved it and he is really clinging to the gospel! So far he is on track for a baptism on the 20th and his wife has started to become interested in our message and actually sat in on part of our lesson the other day! YAY!!! Previously she has been really pesada and not really interested at all, but slowly she has been turning from her prior ways and started to look into what we share. He really wants her to open her mind and at least experiment with our message. We have the highest hopes for him and know that when he is baptized he will be a very strong member (and potentially a bishop by next year...LOL).
Alex, our other investigator with fecha for the 20th, is progressing rather slowly. He has had almost every lesson and knows that what we share is true, he is just rather slow to take the initiative! Fortunately his wife is a member and return missionary, so she has been a huge help in this process. And he has really come a long way from where he was, as he didn't even believe that there was a God several months back.
Work and work on the house sounds fun for everybody!!! I can't say that I miss that part of being at home, since I'm getting plenty of work here! Just keep your chins up...
I'm sad to here that Elder Nielsen is finally leaving Lufkin, but he'll do great wherever he goes! I feel bad for Lufkin too though, he has really brought about so good changes there it sounds like.
SNOW!!! IN LUFKIN!!! Apparently the world is freezing over or something (Chile unfortunately is not). Elder Low just told me that his sister said they got snow in Alberta in one day that was deeper than she is tall, which even for this time of the year is a little unusual...but not nearly as much as snow in East Texas. Is is 90 degrees outside again yet? Or is it looking more and more promising for a white Christmas? We get a green/brown Christmas here, all the trees are pretty but the dirt kinda gets a little boring (fortunately we have about 2 blocks with grass in our sector...we got lucky!).
All is well here, everyone is looking forward to the Christmas program/activity thing we have on the 24th. We will be in the mission home this year (in 2 groups as there are wayyyyy to many missionaries for 1) that will be cool. I've got Fase 2 training this Friday so keep an eye on the mission blog for the comments from missionaries and try to guess if one of them is mine!!! LOL...good luck.
I just want to end with my testimony of this great and marvellous work and the change that it has wrought in me. It is so great to be able to see someone change their life because of a message that is so simple to us yet at the same time so profound. I have really grown to love the place that I have in preaching this great gospel to the people here in Santiago. The simplicity of this message has given me a whole new perspective on the Atonement of Jesus Christ and his life. To see someone take this gospel and apply it in their lives to bring forth a mighty change is something that there are no words to describe. I love this work and this gospel with all my heart and would not trade this opportunity to be a missionary for the world! I encourage anyone who is looking for a change in their life or is searching for more direction to take the opportunity to listen to this unique message that we have (member or not) and to truly apply it in your life. The message of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is truly our unique message to the world, it is from beyond the veil and has made a huge impact on my life and my entire outlook.
I love you all and look forward to hearing your voices on Christmas day!

¡Todo mi amor!
-- Elder Todd

El Salto 2 - Week #5

¡Hola Familia y Amigos!

You can tell that the days just start to become a blur when you've been in a foreign country for over a month and you have to look back at your last e-mail sent home to see how many weeks you've been here. We just completed week 5 in this transfer with cambios coming up next Monday! There is no telling where any of us are going or if any of us are leaving. We should find out at about 11 o'clock Sunday night! LOL.
So, right now we are sitting in the middle of Santiago (outside our sector) in a place called Plaza de Armas. This plaza is freaking huge and is full of people. Right now it is pretty tranquilo as we are sitting in a Internet business (hopefully that explains it well enough). I tried to send pictures home on CD today but the person at the business said my card had a virus...looks like I have to try another way of getting pictures to ya'll.
So this week we have really felt the effects of our stay in the hospital and the fact that my companion is still on "light duty" work... We have a couple of good investigators, but we've had to get rid of several this week and several others have told us they don't want to meet with us anymore. The work still goes on.
We did find out this week that Ernesto, our crazy schizophrenic has armies that are trying to kill us. He luckily has told them not to so we may have to keep visiting him for a little while to make sure he doesn't change his mind...LOL.
Dad, usted lo ha dicho...just when our investigators look golden they take a really big downhill turn. Raul just took one of those this week, and it doesn't look like he's coming back...unfortunately. On the other hand though we have one investigator named José Luis who is on fire (ojalá). He went to church this past Sunday (yesterday) and absolutely loved it!!! It really makes you feel good when you see somebody like that that really starts to cling to the gospel. He does have doubts though, nadie es perfecto...his was devoutly Catholic and now his son is becoming more Agnostic than anything, so he is really worried about his family. He expressed to us his wish that they would open their hearts and at least experiment with our message as he has to see if it is true for them as well. I really have the highest hopes for him!
Thanksgiving sounds like it was a success...and a party at Paw-Paw Tom's that I wasn't invited to...somebody has got to talk to him about that!!! Good to see that Dad is doing his home teaching now...LOL. Work sounds like oh so much fun for everybody! Thanksgiving here was just like any other day...we had pasta with hot dog cut up in it and a salad for our Thanksgiving almuerzo (lunch). But our mamasita does feed us good...
I also have been getting your letters on time for the past 2 weeks (today and the previous), Mom and Dad. So no worries there...but I haven't gotten a chance to print or read the talk yet. I'll try to next week when we are back in our sector.
This week is going to be crazy!!! We have interviews and Clase de Zona/Distrito on Tuesday and inspections for the pensions on Saturday...all with it being the last week of the change and cambios on Monday morning!!! AHHHHH!!! But all is well here in Chile, I'm still healthy and doing great. I've eaten everything they've given me, drink tap water on a daily basis, and eat all my vegetables...LOL. Everything in Santiago is pretty much 100% safe (as to health concerns) except for street vendors, which we are highly advised to avoid.
I love it here...and highly recommend Santiago as a vacation spot for anybody looking for something foreign outside of Europe. It is beautiful, I'm still trying to get pictures for you so be on the look out.
Love you all and hope to hear back from lots of people next week...

¡Todo mi amor! ¡Suerte!
-- Elder Todd

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

El Salto 2 - Week #4

¡Hola Familia!

I got everybody's e-mails this week, so we are good there!

Yesterday, here in el barrio El Salto, we had ward now we have new leadership for the Elder's Quorum, Young Men, Young Women, and Primary along with a new ward mission leader whom none of the missionaries (the 4 of us) know! Fun times!!!

Woot, woot!!! I'm excited to hear that Amanda got baptized. Elder Neilson told me that she had a fecha bautismal but didn't say when. It is also really cool that Tommy has been active enough recently to baptize her as well. I miss being at home and seeing all of the activity going on in the ward there.

On this end, we have one baptism scheduled for this Sunday. He is a 30-something year-old whose wife is a member. His name is Alex; we are like the 3rd or 4th set of missionaries that he has been through, but he is finally progressing (if we can find him at home ever). He is un poco flojo (lazy) and doesn't like to attend church regularly but he does have a strong member support system, he just likes to do his own thing.

To answer a few questions from Mom...we don't have cars in this mission. There are only a few areas with bikes because the houses are small enough that when you get in a door to teach there is not enough room for the bike...hence they get stolen about every 3-4 days or so. The office has 3 cars (1 for president, a van, and a truck) that are shared by the 5 office elders and the 2 assistants to the president. We walk alot and if we have meetings elsewhere in Santiago we use what is called the "Trans Santiago" transportation system. It is a system of Micros (little short trip buses), Metros (underground rails como subways), and Buses (longer distance). Occassionally if we want to get somewhere fast we use the taxis because they are everywhere, no one has an education (so they get a taxi), and the government pays for their car if they use it as a taxi.

This week was definitely an interesting one. I can't go into much detail on the actual problems because my companion would kill when I get home just ask for more information on my first cambio (transfer/change) or to see my journal entry dated 23-November 2009! LOL. Wednesday of this week my companion and I went to the doctor of the mission (and the rest of Chile) se llama Dr. Dixon. He is serving a mission as a doctor for 18 months for the entire Chile region of the church (as we have our own region). My companion had talked to him Tuesday and he said come in. The problem he had had reoccurred from May when he was in the offices. Needless to say, Dr. Dixon sent him straight to a specialist for this problem. The specialist admitted him into the clinic that the church uses here in Santiago se llama Indisa (very prestigous...we avoid hospitals if at all possible). His family and the office was notified and we were in the clinic about 10:30-11 on Wednesday morning. THE JOYS OF PRIVATE MEDICINE!!! SERIOUSLY (IT WAS AMAZING)!!! He had to have surgery and had all of his exams (EKG, bloodwork, ultrasound) and his surgery prep and was under the knife by 1:30 in the afternoon. Sooo...our work got put on hold for the 3 days he was in the clinic (Wednesday-Friday) as I had to stay with him 24/7 as his companion. We were released Friday at about noon and he was on bed rest (except church Sunday) until today.

Saturday and Sunday I had the opportunity to do divisions with a member in our ward se llama Hno. José Contreras. ¡Él es super bueno! So, for the first time, I was speaking only Spanish, teaching by myself, contacting everyone by myself, leading our sector with someone who isn't a missionary, etc. for 4 hours each of the 2 days. Can anyone at home say STRESSFUL?!?!? Anyways, I feel really good about it and am really glad now that I had that experience! I feel like my Spanish has doubled in the last 2 days!!!

Work sounds fun for everyone! And good luck not being busy on Black Friday in a cell phone shop, Mom! I still can't believe I'm not getting Thanksgiving dinner!

And I forgot to mention! We here in El Salto eat almuerzo (lunch) with members on Saturday and Sunday. Dinner and breakfast are not big things here so we normally just eat in the apartment on our own. During the week, Martes-Viernes, we have lunch with our mamacita. We pay her about $3 (US money) a day for lunch (that is 1.500 pesos here), she is an inactive member. On P-day we either get fast food or eat in the apartment because every week our schedule is different on P-day.

Transfers (cambios) happen the 7th de Diciembre (a Monday) on a 6 week rotation. So, the earliest that I could be transferred is December 7th, but lots of the time the new missionaries either stay with their trainers or at least in their first sector for the first 2 changes (no guarantees though...especially since my companion is convinced I'll be training by the first cambio of the new year)... We don't find out if we are being transferred until the night before (so in this case the 6th of December). Fun, fun, fun...

Just to make our investigator sound like less of a bad person for not breaking (like we thought) but cutting his "wife's" hand (with a really nice home-made sword by the way), the two of them were both high at the time of the incident... I know, that just makes our work harder, but he is really trying to change his life...right now, it looks as if he will be moving sometime in the middle of December to another area of the mission, so hopefully we can get him baptized first.

Another story of another investigator... We currently have an investigator by the name of Ernesto. He is about 47 years-old and we found him because of a reference of another missionary. When we first talked to him it was in the street in front of his house and we did nothing more than extend a invitation to church (which down here NEVER works). He showed up that Sunday, and has every Sunday since that he has had a personal invitation (the only thing that is saving us)... Turns out Ernesto is what we like to call "locito", we think he has a pretty significant case of schizophrenia mixed with some ADHD. We are trying to figure out what to do with him and when we asked Presidente May we kinda say "ummmmmmmm" (which is never good) and told us to talk to the obispo. We think we are going to drop him because we are pretty sure he wouldn't even need a baptism because his mind is less that 8 years-old. Although it is commical that someone convinced him that he gets payed to watch TV all day and write short reviews about the movies that are on (he gets a check from the does almost everyone else in Chile).

Hope everything at home continues to do well! I'm trying to send pictures again today, but no promises.

Love you all and look forward to hearing how Thanksgiving with the missionaries goes!

¡Todo mi amor! ¡Exito en todo que ustedes hacen!

-- Élder Todd

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

El Salto 2 - Week #3

¡Hola Familia!

I haven't gotten a letter from Dad yet this week! Good to hear the house is going well and that home is surviving without me. I'm kinda sad that I don't get Thanksgiving dinner at all and that the other missionaries are getting mine...LOL. We are living in the light again, and have been for about a week and a half (I forgot to mention that I guess), luckily the office decided to pay what they call "gasto comunes" finally (basically trash pick-up and other sanitation expenses) so they turned it back on!

Good to hear that Ryah is getting payed for her work at the chicken company and that Gabe hasn't changed one bit! I really miss all of you especially coming up on the holidays, but I try not to think about it too much...

Woot, woot!!! HOUSE PARTY! Why was I not invited? And be sure to let me know how that goes! (Sounds like it could get really interesting.)

Christmas: I don't (like every other year) know what I want. My companion put out an interesting idea for a electronic Spanish/English dictionary (apparently such a monster exists), so that would be really cool. I do have one special request besides candy (lots by the way, like the big bags they have at Wal-Mart)...that special request is...Peanut Butter. I didn't think I'd ever ask, but you can get a little bitty jar here for a lot of money and it isn't that it will survive the long trip. Other than that I've got no idea what I want/need/etc.

Also, are there pictures of the house coming? My companion is dying to see them! LOL. And I want to see how it has changed in the 3 months I've been gone...

One of our investigators this week got into an "argument" with his "wife" on Saturday night and didn't end up going to church Sunday morning. Turns out that he broke her hand!!! He is not looking so great for a baptism this transfer, but we'll see today. We are going to teach his la Palabra de Sabiduria (Word of Wisdom) today and try to set a plan to resolve his fairly extensive problems with it.

This week, yesterday, we put another golden investigator with fecha for the 13th of December. We are going by today to see if he recieved an answer to his prayer about the Libro de Mormón and José Smith. It is a family of 3, which we fasted and prayed for this week, but so far he is the only one with a fecha bautismal.

Everyone sounds busy, busy at home. And just so you know, we are not having our share of neccessary downtime here in El Salto. I don't think we ever stop. (I'm not complaining, just to clarify...I love it). In a day of 10 hours of proselyting we teach during about 4, tocar puertas (knock doors) about 2-3, visit a member or two, and are walking the other 3 hours... Our apartment is in the other sector (El Salto 1) in our district but we are normally working on the other end of our sector. Fun times!

Chile is finally starting to get hot!!! At night it isn't cooling down as much as it was previously and the days that it isn't nublado (cloudy) we have to do our best to find shade when we are walking and proselyting. Luckily (or maybe not...I'm not sure), it isn't nearly as humid as East Texas, but not nearly as green either. Everyone here either waters or sweeps the patch of dirt in front of their house, and no one has grass. Back yards don't exist (big or little) and almost everyone has a front yard piled with as much clutter as backyards in the states. The sidewalks have varying elevations about every 3-4 feet... Just so you have an idea of Chile. But the views of the sunsets with a reflection off of the Andes with palm trees in between you and the mountains is amazing!!!

I miss you all and love you all. I'm going to try to upload a few pictures now so sorry this isn't super long. Hopefully there will be pictures headed your way!!!

¡Todo mi amor!

-- Elder Todd

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

El Salto 2 - Week 2

¡Hola Familia y Amigos!

Esta semana has been full of all sorts of fun. We have an ex-drug dealer or user or something we are teaching (hopefully EX) and we are planning on him putting himself with a baptismal date tonight. Last night we taught him about a 10 minute lesson after he left Elder Low and I in his house by ourselves for about 35 minutes while he and his palola went to get their kids. (FUN!!! In the neighborhood.) Friday I had what the call Fase 1 training for new missionaries in which we learned about the mission and some of the rules. It was great, we got to go to the mission home in the rich part of Santiago (obviously not our mission) and enjoy the morning learning and then have almuerzo con Presidente y Hna. May. It was definitely a good experience.

This week in El Salto it has been tan vientoso. I don't know where all this wind is coming from, but it has made it un poco frio over the past couple days, especially at night. Although I can't complain much because it should be in the 90's as we are approaching verano here. Today for p-day we are going into el centro to go to a tourist attraction se llama Santa Lucia. It is apparently a big castle built into the side of un cerro (hill). When you climb up to the top you are supposed to be able to see all of Santiago, unfortunately está nublado hoy día, so we'll see. One thing I love about our sector is that you can see Los Andes to the north. Last night when we were contact (tocando puertas) we looked over and saw the sunset reflecting off of the clouds over Los Andes and the pine trees sticking up in between us and the montañas, it was an awesome sight to behold. (I'll try to get pictures this week and send them next week).

My companion is requesting printed pictures of the house to be mailed to us ASAP, since we only have limited e-mail time and we are already 1/3 of the way through this cambio. We had conferencía de estaca ayer and I was to the point of boredom from not understanding anything that I drew the floor plan of the first floor of the Hen. House. He absolutely loved it and really wants to see pictures!!!

Home sounds exciting, especially between the cats and racoons. I'm sure Gabe enjoyed having some fun with them! LOL. And I agree with getting another big dog, my vote is on a female rottie (my spelling is going out the window en inglés!). How is the house coming? Nobody said much this week about it.

Mom: Sounds like the job is going good and that you are progressing in your learning. And isn't the switch in computer programming how it always seems to work out. You'll get it, by the time I get back you'll be proficient at using a computer...LOL. Good luck with the food storage, if by some miracle you figure out how to freeze-dry companion and I would love to have some chili and tacos. (No rush, just within about the next 4 weeks...if there is some other way to get it to us and it still be good then that would be great too.).

Dad: Work sounds fun as usual! The stories never get old, especially when they result from somebody's stupidity and turns out in a cool medical problem...LOL. My companion likes all my medical stories too. He plans on going into medicine when he gets back to BYU in just less than a year, his specialties of choice right now are neurology and anesthesiology! We get along very well.

I miss all of you at home and also the Texas weather, even if it is super rainy. I miss the rain!!! And I get to continue doing so until at least about Marzo...yuck! I get a hard time from all of the English speakers around here about being from Texas, especially with the Texas Pride factor figured in.

I'm loving Chile, every second of it!!! The work that we do here is unique, and the opportunity that we have to be the Lord's hands in it is an experience that I will never forget. At times it is hard, like this week to come will definitely be. Right now we have 11 investigadores con una fecha bautismal. Only 1 of those is progressing and 2 of our other "investigators". This week we are going to end up dropping at least 7 of our 11 that have a baptismal date because they aren't willing to keep commitments and are wasting our time and the Lord's time. Keep us in all of your prayers for our success in this gran obra (work) and as well that our investigators may do the things that they need to do to progress in este Evangelio and recieve the ordenanzas neccessary to recieve salvation and find the path to eternal life.

La Idioma (the language): So far the language is coming along very nicely. I'm at the point where I can definitely speak more than I'm able to understand because of the accent of the people here, and because many are missing teeth. I'm working on figuring out a new approach to my language studies and continuing to improve. It is amazing how much just listening helps. My companion does his best to speak Spanish to me all of the time, he is successful about 98% of the time (it is more difficult to speak Spanish when you are mad...LOL). We just set a goal today to not speak English, except in the apartment after 11:00 pm. We'll see how this works because one of the other elders is in his 2 cambio (change/transfer) and speaks English a lot of the time.

I love you all and miss you alot. My prayers are with all of you daily in your individual endeavours. I look forward to seeing you again in 21 fast Sundays! (I'm not counting). It feels like we've been apart for so long, but I know there is only a short time past and only a little bit longer one ahead.

¡Toda mi amor! ¡Besos!

--Elder Todd

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

El Salto 2 - Week 1

¡Hola Familia!

Just so everyone knows now, I´m in Chile, I´m safe, and all is well. I arrived at the mission home (located in Santiago East Mission) at about 12-ish on Tuesday from a long overnight flight!!! We had several hours of entrevistas y capacitación, after which we got a short (about 1 hour) nap. Afterwards, we met our trainers (decided during the interview process) and went to work, out proselyting by about 7:30 that night.

My companion is from Canada!!! His name is Elder Low, he has been a member his whole life (along with both parents and his 6 siblings) and lived in Alberta. We get along very well so far, I´m his first nuevo to train...he has been in the mission for about 16 months and just finished a couple of changes (9 months) in the mission office serving as secretary and medic. We are in an area of Santiago se llama El Salto. Before last Monday this sector/area did not exist. Basically we are opening a new area, but there are 2 other elders here that were here last cambios. (The area was only split). It is an interesting experience to live in 1 apartment with 3 other elders. Mi compañero is our district leader...and we are in the zone Zapadores. One of the other missionaries in the zone was in my zone/branch in the MTC but left 6 weeks before us.

The work here is great, I´m absolutely loving it! I keep figuring out more and more about Chile and how much certain aspects of it are amazing and other aspects (such as the postal system) sucks. Recieving anything from the states only takes about 2 weeks and doesn´t generally have problems, but sending letters and such from here doesn´t work so well. The only post office basically is in El Centro de Santiago and we can only go in to mail stuff on P-day (aka Monday). The assistants and secretary said say goodbye to the rain for about 6 months, but today it is cloudy and fairly cool out...very abnormal for summer. You can still see Los Andes though and it is so weird to me for it to be this temperature and still have snow on las montañas.

This week was good and bad, mi Español has been improving daily (despite the amount of slang in Chile and the fact that they speak castellano). Everything here has the J sound instead of the Y when you have a LL, so I´m staying a little lost. There is also ´po´that they through in every once in a while at the end of sentences, it doesn´t mean a thing but depending on who you are talking to depends on how often it is used, there is no rule. Our teaching and finding efforts this week have had some ups and downs. We are having trouble with a concept very common in the U.S. se llama con viviente o con vivir. Everyone down here it seems is living with some one, not married to that person, and is actually married to somebody else still...(I had been warned though, but it is way more prominent than I thought). We are probably going to have to drop a few investigators this week because they aren´t keeping their commitments and/or they don´t want to get married. One interesting concept in this mission is that in order for us to count a person as a nuevo investigador they must have a fecha bautismal. It really cuts down on all of the people trying to waste your time though.

An interesting experience this week has occurred over the last couple of days (weekend). When I came into the area we had a few investigators because they split the community and had already been teaching a few people. One of those people is named Mariajosé. We´ve tried several times to contact and talk to her and still to no avail. The first time her husband (I use the term loosely), Raul, got mad at us. We tried again Saturday and he came up and talked to us, we gave it to him tough (straight forward answers, etc.) so he wouldn´t waste our time. Turns out that with the folleto (brochure) the other elders left with his wife he taught himself the lesson of the Restoration and wanted us to come back that night. We went back and caught him as he was leaving. We returned again on Sunday on an inspiration from the Spirit and taught him a 45 minute lesson that had parts of Word of Wisdom, Lesson 1 (Restoration), Tithing [Diezmo], etc. He ate it up!!! We found out he isn´t married but he and his wife are having problems so we are going to see what to do (either get married or move out in order for us to baptize him). Tonight we have another lesson with him and are going to teach about eternal families, hopefully all goes well.

A little about my area...these 2 sectors cover one ward (El Salto) that has about 90 active members with about 1200 or so on the roster (that may be the other missionaries exagerating a little bit...but not by much). Chile is bad enough with retention that they area presidency has put a program called Permanaced in place with the missions, stakes, and branches to reactivate (Permanaced = Abide). This mission is kinda poor in most areas, there are a few with some richer barrios but not many. We cover a fairly large area for being in the suburbs with most of the others in the campo or Los Andes.

We have been without power in our pensión since Wednesday sometime and the office isn´t wanting to get their act together to get it turned back on. Sorry to everyone at home for the mix up with the letters and pictures, they were supposed to be sent out by Wednesday night but they have a new secretary in the office and he must have been really busy until Friday. Next Monday when I e-mail I´ll try to upload so pictures of Chile and my sector for everybody to see at home.

I love this work and the opportunity that I have to help people here come unto our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It is amazing to see the change that people can make in a few short days, like Raul for example. (We´ve got a couple crazies we are teaching right now but we´ll see what the Lord directs us to do with them.) The mission is a hard thing, but ¨I can do hard things...¨ It is definitely a new experience being here and kinda weird being so far from home. I´ve been doing fine with it except for at times whenever there is no direct focus on what I should be doing, those are when I get a little homesick. The Spirit here in the mission, if we let it in, is way stronger than was felt in the MTC (el CCM) and I love it.

I miss you all, I´m glad I got to talk to everyone from the airport...yes, it would have been nice to see you, but it is easier this way. I love you a lot and I´m kinda glad I´m not having to deal with Texas weather right now (the California weather we have here is fine with me). I look forward to hearing back from everyone. Love you bunches.

¡Todo mi amor!

-- Elder Todd

P.S. You have the OK to post my e-mail address on the blog until at least a year from July, we can e-mail anyone after we e-mail family and this will be easier for everyone else too.

Friday, October 30, 2009

First Letter from Chile

¡Hola Familia!

¡Estoy en Chile! Ahora, I'm sitting in the mission home. We made it okay and will probably be out to the field by 4:00 local time, 2:00 your time. We proselyte cada día until 10:00, bed at 11:30, and up at 7:30 a.m. I'm loving the weather, it is just humid enough... they told us to say goodbye to the rain for about 6 months. I just got done with una entrevista con Presidente May y recibí a blessing. ¡Estoy muy animado! I'm kinda stressing about learning more Spanish and speaking it all the time.

I have to have an interview with Hermana May, and then a short nap, after which we meet our trainers.

Love you and miss you! ¡Nos vemos en 22 meses!

¡ Todo mi amor!

--Elder Todd Hendrickson

P.S. P-day is on Mondays

Arrival in Chile

October 30, 2009

Dear Hendrickson Family,

It was a great pleasure to welcome your son to our mission. He arrived in good health, is enthusiastic, and anxious to begin missionary work here in the Chile Santiago North mission. I have interviewed him carefully and find him well prepared, with a strong testimony, and a good beginning foundation in the Spanish language. I feel honored to be his mission president and know that the Lord has prepared many people here to receive the testimony of the restoration he bears. Sister May and I will treat him as our own son.

Your son will look forward to your weekly letters of encouragement and support. E-mail is a great way to communicate with him as he communicates with me by e-mail weekly as well. If you prefer to send letters, the church pouch system is the safest method. The pouch mail comes several times per week and is delivered to the mission office, where we either carry it ourselves, or send it with missionaries to your son as soon as possible. You can also send letters and packages directly to the mission office. The address of our mission office is as follows.

Misión Chile Santiago Norte
Forestal 2680, Oficina 32 Cajita 18
Conchalí, Santiago

Thank you for all you have done to prepare your son for his mission. Sister May and I will do everything in our power to help him have a wonderful and productive mission.

Sincerely yours,

Michael E. May
President, Chile Santiago North Mission

Saturday, October 24, 2009

MTC - The Last Days

¡Día de Preparación!

¡Dos Más Días!

Pues, as I promised familia here is another e-mail headed your way...yesterday we weren't sure we'd get it because the branch president said no, but it looks like the district presidency already had it unlocked for us today (WOOT!). Today is a busy, busy (yet relaxed) day, if that makes sense. We have p-day until 6 o'clock PM for packing and getting everything ready to go to Chile on Monday since we leave the MTC at 11:30 Monday Morning.

I did get the package, sorry it was kinda last minute but until I got flight plans it wasn't really neccessary and I didn't want to have to send much extra stuff home. I plan on sending a package today with a gift for you (Mom & Dad) and a bunch of the letters I've received as to avoid packing them (and anything else I decide to send). I'm sooo looking forward to being on the plane for over 13 hours...NOT!!! Luckily we have a night time flight so we get to sleep the whole way. There will be at least 24 Chile bound missionaries on that flight (13-Santiago North, 11-Viña del Mar) so our goal is to convert the whole plane on the 10 and 1/2 hour flight from DFW to Santiago. Ought to be fun!

Mom, just to answer your random question: the MTC has its own laundromat...LOL. And it is free (except soap and stuff).

I'm looking forward to Tuesday morning anxiously (some nervous, but mostly excited). I'm really hoping my trainer is a native (not sure why...maybe so I don't have an option but to speak Español). I'm mostly nervous about the unexpected, but it will be a good experience!

Shout out: I heard from Uncle John, so I'll try to get an e-mail back to him this morning. Just a notice to everyone using conventional mail. As of now it would be better to send any letters to me through either one of the 2 addresses in Chile or through (both take about the same amount of time).

Ryah: I didn't think I'd ever say this, but...YOU NEED TO LEARN TO DRIVE MY CAR (aka the Honda)!!! And I did write you on Wednesday (it is a handwritten letter that I sent Thursday morning). Send me your e-mail so I can write you that way too maybe... :D

Mom: Sounds like work is going good, I know you'll be able to get them all lined out eventually (I still can't picture you with technology though).

Dad: Thanks for forwarding the e-mail to the aunts/uncles! I'm hoping to hear from the all soon.

I miss you all and look forward to talking to you on Monday! I better get back to laundry/packing/all that other fun stuff.

¡Nos vemos en 22 domingos del ayuno!

¡Todo mi amor!

-- Elder Todd

Week #9 (the Final-ish)

Hola Familia y Amigos!

This is my last week in the MTC, I'm so excited/nervous/anxious to be out to the field! As of 11:30 AM on Monday morning I will be outside of the gates of this "prison" (figuratively) and headed to the crazy crazy world of a missionary. The whole district has gotten the OK to go to Chile (even my companion, whose MRI came back showing very minor abnormalities...nothing that will majorly affect his work) and eventhough we have two missions we all get the same flights. The 20 something of us headed to Chile (more than 1 district) and going to have all of those planes converted by the time we land! :D

Everything at home sounds super busy and exciting, lots of changes. And I'm sure the calling as bishop kinda surprised Bro. Adams yet again. LOL! And what about swine flu? We've got several in quarantine here and they are allowed nowhere for 7 full days, several are held from leaving for the field to (none of our zone is in "club med" though). I'm sure Amanda was not happy at all. Pues...

Mamá: ¡Felicidades! It is awesome that you got the new job...hope it turns out to be a good opportunity (however, don't freak out because of the amount of technology you will have to use). I can't wait to get to call you, I've got 500 minutes on a calling card so I don't think it will be a big deal to have to get you to call me back, and I'll be able to call from SLC and from DFW (with time left on the card). And I can't believe you just got a new phone and now you have another one...LOL. I unfortunately will not be able to call from Chile until Christmas, but when I get there I'll write a handwritten letter which will be scanned into the computer and sent electronically with a picture of me with the president and one with my trainer. Texas is going to make me trunky between flying in, laying over, and flying out...but I can't wait to be home for a little bit anyways. Oh, and my ring size...I don't know, but my class ring is in one of my boxes (the one without any clothes that is more boxy shaped...I'm not sure which one exactly, sorry!).

Papá: Wow! Your story really makes me miss being at home and hearing those every morning...keep the interesting ones coming though. I understand the whole being tired thing now as we go, go, go about 17 hours a day here in the MTC and el campo is going to be about the same...YAY!!! (kinda sarcastic, kinda not). I didn't know Ryah was actually getting to be a chicken vendor, but congrats to her...(I've got letters heading your way tomorrow). Good luck continuing with the house and keeping Gabe hard at work. And please don't laugh to hard at my letter, it is completely in Spanish and I suck with accents...LOL

So, one last quick story...yesterday we taught in the TRC again. We taugh the Plan of Salvation with Tithing as a commitment. Our investigator's name was Hna. Clark and she spoke really slow, but rather good Spanish. The lesson was filled with the Spirit and it was amazing how we felt at the end of the lesson. It was a great pick-me-up for the rest of the MTC and a good way to end out a fairly stressful week.

I love you all and hope to hear back soon. Enjoy the ability to respond quickly while it lasts (the next 3-ish days). I look forward to talking to you on Wednesday.

¡Todo mi amor!


Thursday, October 15, 2009

MTC week #8

¡Hola Familia!

Wow! It does not feel like I've been in the MTCfor 8 weeks already (MTC time, really 7 weeks). And it really doesn't feel like we should be getting travel plans tomorrow and leaving a week from Monday! The feeling is so surreal. I'll send you a letter tomorrow night after we have our flight plans and I'll answer some more of your questions then.

So, last Friday we had the Chilean ambassador to the United States visit our class while at the MTC. He was kinda intimidating yet down to earth at the same time (does that make sense?). The visit was about 25 minutes and he spoke almost completely in Spanish the entire time, except after he told us we needed to work harder. The last thing he said was that the language we are learning here is totally different than what we will be using in Chile (apparently Chile has the most slang, and aspirates their S's). He did kinda fill us in on a little more information about Chile that we would be figuring out in the coming months, but it is kinda good to have a heads up ahead of time.

Mom: ¡Lo siento! I forgot to mention that I loved the birthday gift, I've worn the tie quite a few times. And I've got no idea what would be good for Christmas as we were given Spanish escrituras when we got here. (I'll write more about that tomorrow too). That is awesome that we've had 3 convert baptisms in the last couple weeks! As we've had one prior to that in the past few years... And awesome about the good news in the e-mail today!!! Hope all works out. And what do you mean you are cleaning my room, I guess you and Belli are the only ones convinced it is my room (as I will never see it again). And by the way there was a method to my shoe box madness, they work well to ship stuff in... Wow, the house sounds like it is coming along! I can't wait to see it finished when I get back.

Dad: Wow, we got a missionary that is related to Aunt Connie, have you e-mailed her yet? And Gabe is taking the initiative to go out with the missionaries or at least work with them, that is good to hear too. I understand the squishy, we got rained on coming back from the temple today, so I felt pretty squishy too... I kinda miss the East Texas weather right now, but it is decent here (I can't complain too much). Still no bishopric!!! What has this ward come to! LOL. Have I been released from my callings yet? And I agree with the house comment, one thing does always lead to another.

So, these past couple of days have been interesting. My companion is having a hard time with health problems. He has prior back injuries and we've got him scheduled for an MRI in the morning to rule out a herniated disk. His pain has been back for about 48 hours, worse than ever. Keep him in your prayers! He is freaking out because there is a possibility that if it is herniated he will be reassigned to a different mission (stateside). Not fun at all.

All is well here and I'm starting to get anxious about going to Chile, a little bit is nervous anxiety but most is excitement. I miss you all and love you.

I love this work and the Spirit that is felt in it, even when we are getting bashed down by general authorities like on Tuesday night (more about that later). Love you all and talk to you soon.

-- Elder Todd

P.S. Tomorrow my companion and I "get" to leave the res. never to return...LOL. JK. Who knows how long we'll be gone though, so seeing the inside of a imaging center lobby might be the highlight of my day tomorrow. :D

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

MTC Week 7

Can anyone believe that I've got twice as much time me in the MTC than I have to go? I definitely can't and it is continuing to fly by!

Sooo, this week...Conference was fantastic!!! I got so much out of all the sessions, and it was amazing that we were "required" to attend all sessions (unfortunately that resulted in us sitting in the same room for 15+ hours this weekend). This whole experience is great. We are now officially the oldest District in our Zone with a district that came in today and one next week! Woot!

Dad: Sorry about last week's e-mail and letter, turns out I responded to almost everything anyways. That really sucks about the house, Mom didn't go into that much detail. It sounds like everything with the stake calling is working out better and that the ward/stake is surviving without me! LOL! As far as I've heard there is not much talk about H1N1 in Chile & so far there has not been one word uttered about a vaccine in the MTC for it. But I should probably get the Flu shot because I was sick when I could have the first time...oops! And apparently the flu wasn't a big cause in restricting MTC (just a good excuse) because they still have local visitors in and out of here all the time (dignitaries, BYU staff, volunteers, etc.).

Mom: Sorry in advance that I probably won't be able to break the Geenan stuff, fortunately I'm a long ways away for now and will be farther soon. That means I don't have to worry about spankings for a while! LOL! And what about my car!!! (Yes, I said MY CAR!!!) Ryah has been driving it for how long and has already run it into a mailbox! Hahaha! What a loser...jk. Sounds kinda familiar actually.

Wow! This time is flying. I've got just under 3 weeks left here, with travel plans arriving sometime next week depending on exactly when we fly out. I'm super excited to be headed to Chile, but kinda apprehensive about getting down there and not exactly knowing what to expect. You here all kinds of stories here in the MTC, but hopefully over the next few weeks with the Chilean Ambassador to the US & our teaching coordinator (who is from Chile) we can have some of the myths dispelled. This work is hard but it is so rewarding!

I miss everyone at home and wish them all the best of luck in whatever endeavors they are pursuing. Love you all!

¡Todo mi amor! ¡Besos!

-- Elder Todd

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

MTC week #6


Wow! I don't feel any older, there is something about not being at home for a birthday that is different...and I don't like it different. I got the best birthday present though, I was NOT asked to be one of the new zone leaders for Zone 40; our roommates weren't so lucky! Just a side note, DearElder will work in Chile too, but it takes about 1-1.5 weeks (I think...). Sorry I didn't get a letter sent this week, I'll do my best to send one Saturday or Monday!!!

Mom: The Hen House...OH NOOO!!! of course as soon as we try to fix something "trivial/aesthetic" we find a huge mess (I guess that is good though)! Conference is this weekend, I'm so excited to have nothing to do except for listen to 10 hours of General Authorities for 2 days. Don't get me wrong, class is great, but a "break" will be nice. We got nuevos last Wednesday and will again next week after the viejo district leaves Tuesday. Beginning at 6:00 AM next Tuesday we will be the oldest district in the zone (and the coolest). I wish we could go to SLC for conference, but it would be a pain to transport 2,300 missionaries to Conference. OK, ok, maybe I did not mean fluent in Spanish, but "more" fluent... :P . I'm happy, no ecstatic, for Bro. Sims & Grandma, and Abby too! Thanks for Jared's e-mail, I'll probablly drop him a line today (if I get time). HSI (Hablar Su Idioma) sucks sometimes, but in the long run it has been super rewarding especially since I learn by hearing. Glad to hear you are feeling better. I miss you.

Dad: I just now got your e-mail from today so I'll send you a more detailed reply later this week, and I successfully printed the Spanish talk, thanks. I heard from Mom about the fireplace at the house, hope the golf language wasn't too strong...LOL. We will leave for Chile 3 weeks from Monday and by the looks of all the recent southbound flights we will be flying from SLC to DFW then to Santiago. Being in Texas will probably make me homesick. We'll know travel plans 2 weeks from tomorrow, it is wild to think this is the beginning of week 6. Here in the MTC the days are long but the weeks are short.

Utah is finally getting chilly! Saturday the MTC goes to fall/winter dress code which makes suit coats mandatory for Elders in public areas & outside. Yay!!! (sarcasm). And of course today it is cold & was raining, sooo I got to use my raincoat for the walk to/from the temple.

Random side not: since I've been in the MTC I've learned 3 new ways to peal a banana! Amazing the things we do for fun here!!!

I miss you all and love you bunches. Todo mi amor!

-- Elder Todd

P.S. - I forgot to mention our teaching experience in the TRC this week...Tuesday we taught completely in Spanish the lesson of the Restoration. We taugh a man named Hermano (Elder) Jay Harker, who served in the Central Americas Mission (5 countries) in the 1950s. The lesson went so well and we taught HIM (not the lesson) well enough that we didn't get past "El Ministerio Terrenal de Jesucristo" (refer to "Predicad Mi Evangelio" to see exactly how far that is)...the Spirit was strong and I know I was speaking Spanish, but I'm not sure what language I was thinking in because it doesn't feel like I was translating. I've definitely been blessed in learning this language. Ohhh!!! And of the 9th of October the Chilean Ambassador is visiting the MTC and our class...


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

MTC Week #5

Can anybody believe I've been in the MTC for 4 weeks? And we've only got 4 & 1/2 more until we fly out to the field! We should get travel plans in about 2 weeks from tomorrow (or 3 weeks, not really sure)... Texas weather sounds nice right now, Utah is cooling off and the lack of moisture & humidity is killing me! But, for the most part it is nice here right now. Our zon leaders leave Monday at 3:00 AM for Mexico, so new zone leaders will be assigned Sunday morning. Unfortunately, President Greenwood (our branch president) has take a particular liking to our district. :( . And also working against us it that my companion & I really don't want the assignment. In 2 weeks we will also be the oldest district in our zone because 40-C leaves a week from Monday...AHHH!!! Shout Out: I got a letter from Angela this week, it seems she'll be in Utah celebrating my birthday without me (this weekend)! It is good to hear that Sis. Gilbert is doing better. But it is a bummer to know that nobody from church is writing me or responding to my letters, all I've gotten is one card. Thank you Lufkin 1st Ward Primary! So if anyone from church is reading this on the blog, I NEED MAIL!!! LOL...but for real, seriously! Good to hear that Geenan got my letter.

Gabe & Ryah: You are both bums, I've only gotten one substantial letter from each of you in these 4 weeks. WRITE MORE!!! How is school Ryah? How is having no school Gabe?

Dad: I got your e-mail and the DearElder, and after several attempts I was able to get both of the attached talks. I read the English but haven't gotten to the Spanish yet. Fun experience with Spanish: my companion struggles some with his Spanish since he doesn't have a whole lot of background with it. Anyways, on Tuesdays we teach a lesson in what is called the TRC (Teaching Resource Center). In this lesson we always have a task (get to know someone, make a contact, teach about prayer, etc.) in Spanish at the beginning and until next week we teach in English for the actual lesson. We yesterday (Tuesday) we taught Sister Ortinez (yes a native) from Mexico City in our task about how to pray and extended a compromiso to hold nightly prayer as a family. After the task we had about 5 minutes prep time to get ready for the actual lesson. The lesson was "Predicad Mi Evangelio" - Lesson 2: The Plan of Salvation. Suffice it to say we ended up teaching una parte de Lección Dos: El Plan de Salvación (up to La Muerte Física). Our teachers kinda persuaded us to teach solamente en español, which we are glad we did (now). My Spanish has grown so much in the last 4 weeks.

Mom: Sick!!! That sucks, I think I'm finally better! Just a quick note about the cookies, the elevation change between Texas & Utah turns them into dust within a few days of getting here. I haven't had cause to use the sweaters yet, unfortunately, but soon though. And by the time I come home I expect you to be fluent in Spanish, :D. It is ok if my birthday package doesn't make it here in time for Sunday. Thanks for the hoodie, I haven't had to use it yet either. And about Jason, our investigator. He is meeting with the missionaries in New Jersey, we don't really ever to get to meet them even if they are local. I've got another potential investigator that I'm going to e-mail tomorrow, he is in Spain. And thanks for thrying to get those addresses!

It's good to hear how everything is at home. We got to do initiatories at the temple today, woot! It was good to remember my own. Tuesday night devotional was by Elder L. Whitney Clayton of the Presidency of the Seventy. I was told we "might" get another apostle before we leave. Tomorrow marks the first day of almost all facets of our MTC experience being conducted almost completely in Spanish. And thus begins the 4 week long headache (literally).

I'm so grateful for my time here, but I do miss everyone at home. Lots of love to all.


-- Todd

Monday, September 21, 2009

The First of the Pictures

The Temple and the Mountains

Provo Utah Temple Sign

The sun was very bright!!!

Me in front of the Temple

Angel Moroni above the Provo Utah Temple

Elder Christensen & I in front of the Provo Temple

Mi Compañero, Elder J. McKade Christensen

Master Jedi Christensen

Behold! The power of the Jedi.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

16-September 2009

Querido Familia,

It is P-day of course. I'm going to write this e-mail and send it in letter form, just in case, so you may get this twice (mor like should). I'm also going to send my receipts for you Mom, it all makes sense I promise (and it was typhoid & the second hepatitis A shot). That sucks about Sis. Gilbert, my prayers are definitely in her behalf. I can only get a haircut on Wednesdays (P-day) and they've only got one barber that day, hopefully next week. I would cut my own hair but they say no because it is hard to clean up after. And the bookstore expenses are mostly miscelaneous stuff.

Dad: Good luck on Sunday, I heard you have to translate the talk to español, let me know how that goes. And unfortunately we don´t get to go to BYU for Tuesday morning devotionals, but we do get our own on Tuesday nights. Last night we had...Elder Jeffrey R. Holland! He focused alot on the mission being "real life" and how if we do this mission the right way nothing at home will ever feel "right". Another major focus was that we should use the only weapon we have: OUR WORDS, and should never hesitate to open our mouths. The Spirit all day yesterday was so strong.

Mom: Texas weather sounds nice right now, Utah has been all over the place since last Thursday or so. Everything here is great, time is flying! I wrote Sis. Boyer last week and might again today if I get time. Belli & Beau are silly, I'm sure they think something bad happened to me or something. Goo luck to Ryah with the job & NHS, is Mrs. Weathers still sponsoring? Get Ryah to give my blog address to a few of my favorite teachers (she should know who they are).

Oh yeah! About my companion...His name is Elder Jackson McKade Christensen and he is from Taylorsville, Utah (outside Salt Lake City). He is very athletic and claims to have 5 horns (lol)! He is a convert, baptized at age 15. We get along pretty well (about 99% of the time). We've figured out how to teach really well together, especially with his rock solid testimony & conversion story! He just turned 19 in June and will be serving in Chile Santiago North too.

Today we of course had the opportunity to go to the temple and participate in...sealings. I acted as witness & proxy for sons. It was nice to go back and try to remember some of the experience we had in LA (eventhough it was slightly different circumstances). This has been a really good past couple of days!!!

I want to end with my love for all of you and my testimony of this great work. I know there is no other place in this world, or even universe, that I should or would rather be than to be serving a mission & going about the Lord's work. I love this gospel with all my heart. I know, like Elder Holland, that "This only comes around once...this is real life." I wouldn't trade even the experiences I've had in these first three weeks for all that the world has to offer!!!

I love you all and my prayers are with you always.

With all my heart,

-- "Elder" Todd (Hendrickson)

P.S. Can you please start putting the date on your e-mails, the one on our server is off for some reason?

P.P.S. Elder Holland's message was unique in that he restated, almost word for word, some of the comments our teachers have said over the last couple of days and focused more on when we come home than most of the other devotionals/firesides have.

Just a little gem to think about: John 15:15-16. Try to liken it to the call of "every member a missionary".

Sunday, September 13, 2009

MTC Week #2 (or 3 not sure how we count)

Hola Familia,

I got everybodies e-mails and Dear Elders. Mom you were right Dear Elders didn't come until Tuesday either because everything goes through the MTC post office. I'm kinda ticked right now because I typed for 15 minuts earlier (1/2 my time) and it deleted my e-mail because the system randomly kicked me off. Everything at home sounds exciting, with the house coming along and Ryah getting her license (is Gabe jealous yet?). I'm not too sure I'm a fan of her driving MY Honda though! LOL. Looking forward to the packages as they haven't arrived yet.

P-day at the MTC is almost like any other day, super booked and busy. We got to go to the temple this morning (highlight of my week) and last night we had a devotional by Elder Richard G. Hinckley. I'm glad everyone is trying to keep up with me at home and yes it is ok to put the handwritten letters on the blog (just use your discretion as to which ones need to go on). Sorry I didn't e-mail last P-day but I didn't get free time until 6:30 and e-mail shuts off at 6:00.

Another kitten!!! No way, it seems like Dad has bad luck with attracting desperate cases like that or something! Wish I was there to see the reaction he had to this one. Say no to adoption, actually it doesn't matter to me, I'm not there.

So do we still not have news on the new bishopric or has no one let me know yet? I still vote McCabe, I'm sure he appreciates that.

I'm loving the MTC (for the most part). Trying to stay healthy. The Spirit here is so strong!!! Spanish and the Gospel are coming along quite nicely (SURPRISE, Central actually helped...but don't tell them that). I'm growing so much in my testimony of this Gospel and my teaching has dramatically improved since I've been here and especially in the last week.

I know that this is where I'm supposed to be and that this is a great work that we have been set apart to do. I know without a doubt in my mind that this Church is the only true church on the Earth and I love it with all my heart. I know that Jesus Christ lives and loves me.

I love you all and look forward to hearing back from you as well as any missionary experiences that you are having back home. Give my love to all. And pictures are on the way within the next couple of days.

Love y'all,

-- Elder Todd

Monday, August 24, 2009

Farewell Elder Hendrickson

A farewell was put together for Elder Hendrickson on Saturday August 15. A good time was had by all and he got to say goodbye to some of his close friends.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Lots of Lasts...And One First

Wow! I'm finally starting to realize that I'm only 2 & 1/2 weeks from entering the MTC. I've got 2 weeks until I'm set apart and won't see many of the people that I'm so close to now again for over 2 years. The whole start of the mission experience is starting to hit home.

Last night I got to to see some of my closest friends for what will probably be the last time for 2 years. I was able to drive to Longview to share one last night with a few of the YSA that I've gotten the experience to know over the last year (all but one...we go back "a little farther"). One of these friends is getting ready to go back out on his mission within the next couple of weeks because of some previous trials while he was out previously. Another friend is getting ready to go off to school at BYU on the 17th. So, it wasn't really just for me. We were able to go bowling and then out to Gilmer Lake and take a little time to enjoy the scenery and peacefulness (despite the constant murmuring)... It was fun to see everyone again before we all go our separate ways and hopefully we can keep in touch wherever we are.

This past Friday I left my job of the last 3 years (unfortunately I had to close still) and several of the friends that I wouldn't otherwise have. It is wild to think that some of the coworkers that I've grown so close too may never see me again. I've had my last school (in a university setting) for a while, my last day of work, my last free time with some friends... Within the next three weeks I'll have to say goodbye to my family, the rest of my friends, the home I've known for my entire 19 years, the ward I've grown up in, and all of the comforts that I now enjoy.

However, this I do know; I know that I'm am doing what the Lord expects of me at this time in my life. Today in Sunday School we had a lesson on service and had the priveledge to have 6 missionaries in our ward (a couple from the offices, our current senior couple leaving on the 17th, and our new elders), they each shared with us their perspective of a mission and the reasons that they were on a mission. This really got me to thinking about why I'm truly setting aside 2 years of my life to serve a mission. I know I'm doing this because it is expected of me, but it is so much more than that as well. I love this Gospel and see a mission as a great faith and testimony building experience, in this endevour I look forward to having an impact on the lives of those I serve.

So among all of the lasts that I'm currently experiencing, I had a literally once in a lifetime experience. Today I had the opportunity to travel to Henderson and receive my Patriarchal Blessing. I met Brother McAvoy there at 4:00 and was able to sit down with him and talk for a few minutes before receiving the blessing. It was a very spiritual experience and had a impact that I'm finding hard to put into words. Not to make it sound like a burden, but it really opened my eyes to the impact that I could have on those around me. I look forward to being able to ponder on the truths and teachings that it contains as it is truly personal scripture. I encourage anyone who is able who has not received their Patriarachal Blessing to do so.

Just as a final note...this week holds a lot of unknowns. Saturday is my "farewell" get together at the Lufkin Ward Building from 6-8 pm and Sunday I get to give my last talk in my homeward for the next 2 years. It is all coming so very fast! But I wouldn't change it from the world!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Return Trip

So, the countdown continues... I've got less than 1 month of work at Randall Medical Clinic left, my "farewell" is in the works (I'll keep everyone posted on that), and I leave in about a month and a half... Boy time flies!!!

Today I had the opportunity to make my first return trip to the temple since receiving my own endowments. I drove down by myself to the Houston Temple for the three o'clock session that my friend from Cub Scouts was going to be attending to receive his own endowments. I arrived at the temple around two o'clock in plenty of time to get ready and have a little bit of chill time before the session. After changing I was waiting in the upstairs lobby for my friend and his parents, and waiting, and waiting. Turns out that they had gotten there early and had been asked if they were interested in attending the two o'clock session instead, of course they jumped at it. At about a quarter til three I went into the chapel and look around at the hand full of people there. A few minutes later the session coordinator came in and announced that the session would be broadcasted in Spanish and that anybody that would need to hear the session in English would have to have it translated (luckily the only English speakers were out numbered 7 to about 30). I can now say that I have been through my first Spanish endowment session (kinda cheating that I listened in English though).

The session ended at about 5:30 and in the dressing room I ran into my friend and his dad, and then in the lobby I see his mom. She informs me that they knew a member of the temple presidency and had been asked if they wanted to attend the two o'clock and had been sitting in the sealing for a little while (the only reason I ran into them). We then went outside and took pictures on the temple grounds and talked for a little bit and then went our separate ways.

I can definitely say that the Spirit was with me in the temple today and that it is a different experience doing the ordinances for someone else than it is for myself. I challenge each of you who read this that have an opportunity to attend the temple and perform vicarious ordinances to pray that the Spirit of those you are serving is with you and that you may feel of the impact the work you are doing really has and what it means to them.

P.S. Love you Boyer family!!!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The "Next" Big Step...

I know it has been a long time since I last posted, but nothing of real importance has come up in the last couple months. I've gotten my passport, my travel instructions, and had about 6 more interviews since the beginning of May, but other than that the same old work/school routine. Until yesterday...

Yesterday I had the opportunity to go to the Houston Texas Temple and receive my own endowments (careful not to use the phrase "take out"). My parent's, a close friend, and I left at 9:30 in the morning to make it to the temple by 12:30 pm for the preparations for my 2:00 endowment session. Of course we still had to go to distribution for some final "supplies" before my session. The trip proved to be longer than Mom expected as we pulled in to the temple lot at 12:30, putting me arriving at the actual temple at about 12:45. At the front counter one of the workers was there waiting on me (he had almost given up) and ushered my dad and I to where we were supposed to go.

[Naturally, Mom denies the blame for us being late (she was driving 90% of the way), but on the way home we proved it because she didn't drive and we made it back in a little over 2 hours.]

Both of my parents and I, along with two close friends (Angela Jones and Jared Huntsman), were able to go through the 2 o'clock endowment session, with me only causing one hold-up. (Go figure, my first time through and they have to stop the session because of me. We all knew I was slightly messed up anyways!)

The Spirit was so strong in the temple yesterday and I know that there was no other place that I would rather have been. I'm thankful for the close friends and family members who were able to share the sacred experience of going through the temple for the first time with me. I want them to know that I love them and greatly appreciate all they have done to help me get to this point in my life. I'm so greatful for the opportunities that the gospel has given me and look forward to continuing to grow and progress in it for the rest of this life and into the eternities. I'm grateful for the knowledge that I have at this point and for the testimony that I possess.

So far, in regards to putting the feelings I have about my mission into words I've come up with two thoughts: 1) I'm so excited about being given the opportunity to put aside my career, education, and personal life for 2 years to serve the Lord and the people of Chile by sharing my knowledge and love of the gospel with them. 2) I am eternally grateful that the Lord saw fit to give me almost 4 months from the time of my mission call to the time I enter the MTC and I'm also grateful that the brethren are and were inspired enough to understand that that was what I needed. I'm definitely not sure that I could handle all of these emotional experiences in a shorter time frame.

I'll try harder to keep my posts more frequent as I continue my preparations to jump with both feet into the mission field at the end of August.

-- "Hurrah for Israel !!!"

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Not So Little White Envelope...

"You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Chile Santiago North Mission... You should report to the Provo Missionary Training Center on Wednesday, August 26, 2009. You will prepare to preach the gospel in the Spanish Language..."

On Friday, May 1, 2009, I received my not so little white envelope that I've been anticipating for 2 weeks now (since the final submission of my mission papers). It is impossible for me to convey both the feelings I had when I saw the envelope addressed to Elder Todd Stephen Hendrickson, I knew that would happen but the thought of it is so much different than the reality, as well as reading the call. My mom has been hoping that I didn't go foreign but after much convincing by myself, my brother, and my dad she has slowly warmed up to the idea.

It is still impossible for me at this point to even begin to describe my feelings, but I know that my call was inspired and I hope that I will do well in the field.

Over the next four months as I prepare to enter the field I will be doing my best to keep this blog updated with anything new. Once I enter the field my family will be updating to keep everyone informed of how I'm doing in the field.