I got everybody's e-mails this week, so we are good there!
Yesterday, here in el barrio El Salto, we had ward conference...so 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 me...so 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 government...as 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