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.