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...)

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