Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Los Conquistadores 1 - Week #2

I had myself a merry little Christmas...

Hey family! It feels like it hasn't been very long since I last talked to ya'll, I'm not sure why that would be... LOL. These last few days haven't been real exciting so this letter might be kind of short.

Yesterday, as you know, was my first Sunday in my new ward. WOW! President Varas, the stake president of the Santiago Chile Huelen Stake, was present and spoke a little bit comparing the ward now to how it was when it was formed 9 years ago. It reminded me a little bit about what the Lufkin Ward was going through a few years ago. He shared that when the ward was formed in 2001 the attendance was around 137 and yesterday it was 67 (big drop). Also he said that in the 9 years the ward has existed they have never sent out a missionary! Sounds kinda like what Lufkin had for a while, right? Anyways the point is that there is A LOT of work to do in this ward!!! ¡Ahora le toca a "your's truly" para ayudar en esto!

One of our investigators, Loreto, went to church yesterday as well, even though she wasn't feeling very well. She seemed to like it pretty well; we are hoping that her dad can go next week too...

In other good news about the ward... We have a young man, 18 years-old & recent convert, named Luis who recently (a few months back) moved into our ward. He is currently preparing for the mission and, as part of his preparation, goes out with either us or the other companionship everyday! Crazy!!! He has also impressed me with his knowledge about the gospel, he knows a lot for only having been a member for 10 months.

We are currently preparing for New Year's! There isn't really anything to prepare for since it will be pretty much a normal day (except for the mission activity in the morning...I hope there's not food), but we are preparing nonetheless. The Chileans are pretty big about New Year's Eve, so the 48 hour span consisting of Friday & Saturday ought to be puro carrete (pure partying)... for them... Those two days are real efficient for working since everybody and their brother is drunk (curado), but we have been instructed that we will be working as normal those 2 days... Yay!!!

I'm excited to hear that the missionaries knocked into Grandma D's door! I've knocked into a few grandmothers with grandchildren in the mission, the conversation usually goes about the same every time...

Work ought to be fun for everybody this weekend. Sounds like Gabe will be hanging out by himself, again.

I kinda wish I could have been home for the trip to Grandma's. I'm sure the drive wasn't nearly as bad as Mom thinks it was, but then again driving in Santiago (not just Chile) has made me where I'm not really scared of anything. About 90% of the streets here are one way and it really throws off the groove of getting somewhere in a fairly easy and quick manner! LOL. Mom would say that my driving skills have gotten worse, but I think I've developed a little more talent from my driving experience here... LOL. I drive about like Dad does now! I think it will probably pay off since my job will put me living in a fairly large city.

It was good to talk to everyone again! Hope that ya'll are still doing alright and that you don't miss me TOO much! Love ya'll and miss ya'll! Have a good week...

-- Élder Todd

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Los Conquistadores 1 - Week #1

Merry Christmas, you've been reassigned to serve in...!!!

As everyone knows Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas for Elder Hendrickson unless he had changes... Well, I've got good news... Christmas came again this year!!! I'm now in Los Conquistadores 1 in la zona Huelen, just south of Renca. My new companion is Elder Diaz from Tegucigalpa, Honduras. We were together in Quilicura for a couple of changes and we are excited to be together. When we were in Quilicura he said that one day we would be companions and I said no, I guess he knew better! LOL.

This past week was pretty crazy in Renca 1... We were preparing almost all week for a ward activity hosted by the obra misional on Saturday, a "talent night". We had practices several times during the week with the Young Men, who were helping with our skit. Until the last minute I was running in about a million different directions and I was very stressed. (That seems to happen a lot, you would think I'd be used to it by now!). All in all the activity came off pretty well! The bishop gave us a huge complement Sunday morning when he asked us how we thought the activity went, he then said that all left very satisfied with the activity and when 100% of those in attendence leave satisfied the activity fulfilled its purpose. I'll try to get some pictures or videos of the activity sent off pretty soon!

Also yesterday we had the opportunity to attend a stake activity in the which the stake presidency showed a recording of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert for this year, featuring Natalie Cole. They hooked up a pretty big sound system and it sounded great, you might want to look into finding it somewhere! It was a pretty big boost to the whole Christmas feeling!

Yesterday I was also able to speak in Sacrament Meeting. Bishop Contreras assigned me the topic of missionary work, but also the challenge of applying it to Christmas. He also told me to get my inspiration from the devotional talk by President Monson. I cheated!!! I spoke on the real reason for Christmas and what was the real Christmas Spirit and then I tied it back into the obra misional at the end. The high council member who was speaking told me that I took quite a bit of what he was planning on mentioning because he didn't think that I'd be speaking on Christmas... OBVIOUSLY he doesn't know the Hendrickson Family!!! It turned out fairly well and I was able to fill about 20 minutes of the 35-40 minute block (a very good thing since Renca 1 only assigns to speakers every week).

You kind of caught me off guard with the comment about Shelbey's wedding! That was something I didn't really see coming. I'm guessing she is attending Sam Houston? I feel way out of the loop with all of the goings on in the family... on both sides!

I'm really missing the "Christmas Spirit" that everybody in the USA gets around this time of year. The cooler temperatures, Christmas music on every corner, the lights and decorations on almost every house... AHHH! I've only got to push through another week and I'll be home free... The mission is going to have a Christmas activity in the mission home on Wednesday & Thursday (miti-miti), it ought to be fun. We don't know details but I think there is going to be a little program and dinner, and I don't know what else. Our zone will be there with the last 2 zones I've been a part of...

Unlike the missionaries at home our mission had a lot of changes this last weekend... It kinda sucks because we aren't with the members we have come to know and love, but we'll live! I feel like in my last ward I got to know the members better in 6 weeks than I got to know the members in Circunvalación, where I was for 6 months. I even found my other Chilean family!!!

I agree 100% with Dad when he said, "¡No necesitamos borrachos!". Unfortunately we get a lot more of them right around this time of year, because everyone gets the day off for the holidays and there are a lot more people on vacation right about now. Yuck!!! Los borrachos no nos ayudan mucho en la obra misional, para nada.

I think that is about all of the excitement that I can belt out today! All in all it was a pretty good week, and I'm looking forward to having another good change together with Elder Diaz. By the way, he is who basically taught me to play fútbol! LOL.

Well I look forward to talking to ya'll on Saturday! I think I've got a few minutes to write on Wednesday afternoon to verify the calls and everything, so try to have me a couple e-mails to read and see how everyone is doing!

Love ya'll and miss ya'll! Especially in this time of year!

¡Todo mi amor!

-- Élder Todd

Monday, December 13, 2010

Renca 1 - Week #6

Howdy Family!

I'm feeling a little more country this morning... Elder Nàjera & I along with 4 other missionaries from the zone woke up before the crack of dawn to climb a killer hill, commonly known as Cerro Renca! I know I probably mentioned while I was in Quilicura that I would never climb Cerro Renca again during my mission, well... and better yet, I promised the same thing again today. It was shortly brought to my attention that I probably shouldn't make that promise because it will almost definitely be broken. But we'll just put it this way... I ALMOST DIED... (But not really)...

This last week was kind of a tough one here in la obra del Señor. Alvaro was confirmed a member of the Church on Sunday morning, so that is a great bit of news. He is now well on his way! Unfortunately it is looking like Christmas here isn't going to get any whitier than the 5th of December. We are however beginning to see a little more success in working with the members here in this ward, and that is always a good sign.

Also the Obra Misional will be hosting a ward activity this Saturday evening, una "Noche de Talentos" (Talent Night), so that ought to be a fun time. And it all gets topped off with a talk given by your's truly Sunday morning and changes Sunday night! LOL.

I did receive my Christmas package this week! Sorry I forgot to reply to that question until after I had aloready finished writing, and I hadn't gotten it yet either. As for the portable hard drive, I was able to find one that met my needs and almost met my price-range, I didn't go too far out... LOL. Thank you much for all the goodies too!

Last night was the retransmission of the First Presidency Christmas Devotional. We were able to attend and I absolutely loved it! It was my first one in 2 years, as our stake never announced it last Christmas. I particularly enjoyed the remarks of President Uchtdorf! He had a lot of great points, we do often have an attitude similar to that of the Grinch, something that we have to work to fix. The music was spectacular as usual, with Andrew Unsworth at the organ, and I always love it more when the orchestra at temple square is present!

The Ward Christmas Activity sounds like it was a success. I'm a little jealous that my part was played by Hunter McCabe... after all that is MY part, anybody who has been in the ward for any significant length of time (aka since before Christmas of 1998) knows that! I just realized exactly how many people that statement includes, or better yet excludes... It is pretty funny, however, that Amanda had to mark my name out of the script!!! LOL!!! Why was it I always liked to be the bad guy? I mean, out of everyone in the story there is one bad guy, and I always played the part... and I always wanted to play the part! (Maybe I'm a little flickted... ¿?). And who played Mary & Joseph?

I think Gabe and Ryah ruined the surprise part of Christmas by not knowing exactly what they are going to get! But then again, at least they'll get what they want... BUMS!

*NEWS FLASH* -- THIS JUST IN ----> We have phone calls on the 25th of December! And ya'll will be able to call me at the number I sent in the other e-mail at 4 o'clock my time! That means it will be (si no me equivoco) at 1 o'clock in the afternoon Texas time! You want to try the number like you've previously done, but I don't forsee any huge problems in that department! And I can't promise that I'll be able to speak completely in English. I'll do my best, but our conversation will probably be in Spanglish, just like my English classes! LOL.

We are fighting through some rather strange weather here lately! On Saturday we had really cool temperatures, clouds, and lots of wind all day long, something that doesn't happen in December in Santiago. We are up to temperatures that are a little warmer, but I'm not sure how long it will last.

I've finally got a little bit of the Christmas spirit. In our English class Thursday I taught "Jingle Bells" and I randomly left the class singing (and dancing to) "Jingle Bell Rock"! It's kinda fun. I miss set up all of the Christmas decorations and the Christmas tree, but we might get to help one of our converts with her tree this week! (*Fingers Crossed*)

I miss ya'll bunches, and am excited to talk to ya'll on Christmas! The countdown has begun!!! LOL.

Lots of hugs & kisses!

-- Élder Todd

Monday, December 6, 2010

Renca 1 - Week #5

It's beginning to look absolutely nothing like Christmas!!!

This last week my crazy Mexican companion had the realization that it is now December and that we can sing Christmas songs now! It feels absolutely nothing like Christmas here, especially with the temperatures hovering close to 30ºC almost all day and dropping down to cooler nights. I'm very convinced that even when the 25th rolls around on my end of the world it won't really hit me that it is Christmas time. It is good to hear that everyone is enjoying this time of year up on the other end of the world (feels like the other end of the universe sometimes)!

During the week we had a breakthrough with our investigator, Alvaro. We taught him several times this week and we were able to talk one time about his baptism which was coming up on Sunday, December 5th. His response to whether or not he felt ready was different than almost any other that I have heard. He answered that he was sure he wanted to be baptized, but to not expect that he jump up and down out of his seat shouting it at the top of his lungs! ¡Casí murí de la risa! (I almost died laughing!) To make a long story short, he had his interview on Saturday with Elder Céspedes, and was baptized Sunday afternoon. His mother was able to attend church with him, and really enjoyed it from what we could tell, unfortunately she wasn't able to stay for the baptism because of a previous commitment. At the end of the baptismal service Alvaro bore his testimony and left a big impression on me. His testimony sounded almost as if he had known the truths of the Gospel his whole life. He bore a strong, complete testimony and shared a few of his feelings as well as his hopes for the future. The only bad thing about the whole experience is that the water heater in the chapel decided that it didn't want to work yesterday, so Élder Nàjera baptized Alvaro in very cold water (luckily it was hot outside).

Sounds like lots of things keep changing in the ward. Ya'll will be receiving a new counselor in the bishopric pretty soon then... Oooo! Lots of people are moving! I'm positive now that I won't know anybody when I get back. You've got to be sure to invite all of these people that are abandoning me for places that aren't too awfully far away to my homecoming! LOL. And Jared is heading up to BYU - "I Do"... LOL. I hope that goes well for him, his departure date isn't too far off at all.

We are anxious to see the First Presidency Christmas Devotional! They transmit it here in Chile a week late... it's kinda dumb, but oh well at least we get to see it this next Sunday. And I'll probably have to speak in sacrament meeting in 2 weeks, so wish me luck with that!

Bummer that the house won't be ready by Christmas... but it will be by Christmas of next year! I'm excited to get to help decorate it for the first time!!! YAY!!! I can't wait to see pictures of the finished project either, you gotta keep me posted.

And what is this nonsense about me not responding to Ryah's letters. There were no questions to respond to in the last two that I got! ¡¡Na'a que ver!! LOL...

I remembered this morning that it was Grandpa H's birthday too! It is interesting that I forgot Mom's this year and remembered Grandpa's. Either way... Happy Birthday Grandpa!!! I miss him...

I miss you alll! It is hard to be away for the holiday's. I can't really say right now that there is no other place that I'd rather be, but I do know that there is no other place that I should be right now... I love ya'll and will be talking to you very soon!

¡Que pasen bien los festivos! ¡Muchos besitos!

-- Élder Todd

Monday, November 29, 2010

Renca 1 - Week #4

Hey Family!

This last week has flown by. When I finally stopped for a minute on Saturday and looked around I realized that I complete missed Thanksgiving Day! One of the recent converts here in the ward, Leonor, said she thought to mention it to me in the English class of Thursday but decided not to. Oh well! It doesn't mean that I'm not grateful, it just means that it slipped past me like a lot of things do now.

Once again we are here in Santiago Centro for our P-day... it doesn't make sense not to come for 2 reasons: 1) there is absolutely nothing to do in Renca & 2) the trip to get here takes about 15-20 minutes from our front door. I'm not sure exactly what the plan is, but we'll figure out something to do in this tremendous city. I've come to realize that Santiago is only tremendous for people who don't know big cities. What I mean is that for the capital of a country it is pretty small, and the Chilean people don't really want it to keep growing that much... kinda odd right?

Last week we were able to visit Cerro San Cristobal and see "Nuestra Madre de Santiago" or, in other words, the giant Virgin Mary statue set upon the crest of the hill. I'm going to try to attach photos! The whole ordeal was pretty fun, first it sounds kinda weird to say that we climbed (in cable car) an inactive volcano that the entire city is built around, and it kinda freaked us out that is was about 5 degrees (ºF) warmer on top of the hill than at the bottom.

I'm a little jealous about the huge Thanksgiving dinner! At least this was my last Thanksgiving to have away from family & friends, and this Christmas and New Year's will be my last ones as well. Thanks for the pictures Ryah! And what color did Mom dye her hair?

That's great to hear that Brad did get baptized. Many blessings are waiting he and his family through this decision that he has made. And Gabe & Dad stood in on his confirmation, good to see that Gabe at least is using his Sacerdocio [Priesthood]. What is this that I hear about Dad putting in a "plug for action in 2011"? No estoy seguro si yo cacho (entiendo).

Saturday night we had a Noche de Hogar [Family Home Evening] with 4 of the recent converts in our ward along with our investigator, Alvaro. It was a great opportunity to get to know everybody a little bit better and to create a little bit of friendship within the group of people that are new to the Church. In our lesson we taught a little bit about following Jesus Christ and the importance of keeping the commandments, the lesson took a little bit of a turn after a few minutes towards to importance of prayer in coming to know the truth. Our converts began to direct the lesson at that point and focused for a while on that directing every point at Alvaro. We had not said one word to any of the 4 beforehand at any moment that one of the biggest obstacles for Alvaro is that he hasn't prayed to know if the Book of Mormon is true, testing the promise found in Moroni 10:3-5:
3 - Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.

4 - And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

5 - And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.
I've really come to realize the importance of this promise during my mission. Every time that we put this promise to the test we are entitled to receive the same blessing as we did the first time! How wonderful is that!!! We are currently working on that with Alvaro... and we are waiting to see how it goes. From what I've seen thus far he is focused on analyzing every little detail and is the type of person who decides based on logic rather than feelings. We've still got high hopes for his baptism in December!

I'm excited to hear how the house is coming along. It would be great to see it decorated for Christmas!!! *HINT HINT* LOL! Keep me posted on how it is coming along. Also, how are the two projects that are sitting in the front yard coming along?

Love ya'll and miss ya'll everyday! I'll be talking to ya sooner than ya think!


-- Élder Todd

P.S. Here are a few pictures from Cerro San Cristobal for everyone to enjoy! Better yet, I'll send them in a separate e-mail!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Renca 1 - Week #3

¡Feliz Día de Acción de Gracias! [aka Happy Thanksgiving!]

Bummer that this week everyone will be enjoying a day off with lots of food, fun, and football (except Dad of course). Here the Chileans don't have even the slightest notion of what Thanksgiving is, and I've kind of learned that it is a holiday with an origin that is difficult to explain. LOL. But I hope that everyone does have a good Thanksgiving holiday, however short or long it may be.

This week was chock full of activities that took Elder Nàjera and I out of the sector for quite a bit of time. First off we had the normal zone class and weekly planning (2 days of 7) and on top of that we added in a little bit of training in the office & Zone Conference (another 2 out of 7). I'm not really complaining, but it made it look like we didn't have a very successful week. The Zone Conference, however, was a pretty big treat. Elder Corbridge from the Area Presidency was able to attend as part of his "Mission Tour", and we were definitely uplifted. He put a whole new perspective on the Gospel of Jesus Christ (faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, & endure to the end) and really focused on how not only we should make it part of our message as missionaries, but that it should be our ONLY messsage as missionaries. The whole conference was very spiritual and I didn't even fall asleep once during the whole 4 hours that he was talking! Yay me!!!

Congratulations to Brad! I don't know if you'll see this, but I promise you that this will be the best decision you've ever made... that is until you are sealed to your family, of course!

So Mom, Dad, & family... How does it feel to be so closely involved with someone's conversion? Now you know how I feel!

Saturday Elder Nàjera and I opted out of climbing Cerro Renca because for about the past 5 days it has been cloudy in the mornings and we decided that it wouldn't be worth it to get up at 5:00 in the morning to climb a hill and not be able to see the sunrise (el amanecer). So we put it off for a while as I think the zone leaders are planning on climbing for a zone activity one early Monday morning.

Real P-days are great! Today we are in the Centro again (we have a bus that passes in front of our house and leaves almost exactly in the center of the city). We are planning on hiking Cerro San Cristobal (a very easy hike) to the top where there is a giant statue of the Virgin Mary, it is even el Mes de María so we might run into alot of worshippers up there (I'll send pictures or a video next week). We will be going with the missionaries from Huechuraba (in my old ward), Elder Tello & Elder Jones... and at least 2 of us have never been before, so it ought to be fun. They say you can see all of Santiago from the top!

I'm happy to hear that SFA will have Chief Caddo for another year! I didn't know we had him last year, but oh well. And they won Conference play... wow!!! It is good to see that they are doing way better than when I was there!!!

Our investigator, Alvaro, is still progressing. He's got lots of exams this week so we haven't seen much of him outside of church for the past couple weeks, but I guess that's how it goes. He is on the right track to be baptized December 5th, so we'll keep working with him to make sure that gets done. I'm pretty sure there is nothing that would stop him, he showed up to church on his own before we started teaching him for goodness sakes! LOL.

Well, I think that is about all for the week. Hope that everyone has a great Thanksgiving and that they eat lots for me (especially cranberry sauce)!

I miss ya'll and love ya too! ¡Todo mi amor!

-- Élder Todd

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Renca 1 - Week #2

Hey Family!

Sorry you caught me in such low spirits last week, it was kind of a
tough change and unfortunately all of the fun isn't over yet but we
should have a faint idea this afternoon of how we can get Elder Smith
trained at least a little bit. Last night I was on interchanges with
the office and I realized exactly how much I don't want to be back
there again. I think sometimes it takes a look from the outside to
realize what exactly you're not missing out on! Either way...

As for good news. I'm absolutely loving my new sector, Renca 1, and
I'm enjoying very much this time with Elder Nàjera. He is a convert of
about 3 years, 22 years-old, and is from Pachuca Hidalgo, México. The
only downside is that he says he is terible sonso [terribly dumb], but
it is fun for me. El tiene cabeza de pollo a veces pero ha hecho esta
semana algo fuera de la rutina que estoy acostumbrado. Sorry that was
in Spanish, but Dad can translate it for ya! I'm finally in a ward
again that functions like it should, our bishop comes to church as
well as most of the leaders, unfortunately there are A LOT of less

This weekend was full of all sorts of amazingness (lol). We had the
Primary presentation in our Sacrament Meeting on Sunday, it was a
treat but I really miss the organization and the enthusiasm of the
Primary programs in the US, that is something you don't get here in
Chile. Also after church we were able to participate in a baptism!!!
Jorge "Jorgito" Carrasco, the 9 year-old son of a family is recently
returning to activity in the church was baptized and we were able to
complete a family. The mom and dad were previously sealed in the
temple with the children being "born in the covenant" but fell away
for a good while, now they are active again and will soon have their
temple blessings restored. It is amazing that the change the Gospel
can make... but only if the people let it!

Today we are here in Santiago Centro enjoying a little bit of the
city, we didn't have a real clear plan on what we are going to do
today, but we decided that the micro that would take us from our
apartment buildings to the center wouldn't be such a bad move. I'm
excited to have a P-day that I don't really have to worry about
working on projects or meeting deadlines or stuff like that, so we'll
see how it turns out. Also just a quick fun fact, I now live next to
the big hill that I sent a picture of with myself, Elder Davenport,
and Elder Diaz on top... and I'm crazy enough that I committed to
climb it again this Saturday, and in time to see the sunrise! (That's
putting us leaving the house at about 5:00 AM).

Another tidbit! I'm now officially an English teacher. I teach an
English class to about 10-15 students every Thursday and Saturday in
the ward building. Elder Nàjera told me that normally about 3-4
students showed up, but I got there on Thursday and we ended the class
with about 15! AHHH!!! It is kind of stressful, but I'm enjoying it so
far. Also one of our investigators is studying to be an English
teacher. He has been studying for 4 years or so and yesterday offered
to help me with the classes when he could! The fun part about the
classes is that almost everyone in attendence is above the basic
English level, that complicates things for me a little bit.

This week looks like it should be pretty busy. We've got a Zone
Conference with Elder Corbridge from the Area Presidency on Wednesday
and Thursday (our zone on Wednesday). He will also be doing a mission
tour, which very few people know, but I'm not entirely sure what that
entails exactly... I guess we'll see!

So far the stress level has lowered tremendously, and I'm hoping it
stays that way for a while. I guess we'll see throughout the rest of
the change.

Thanks for the house pictures! I'm getting excited now too, it would
be great to have it all decorated for Christmas with all of those
shiny floors. It sounds like you're not lacking to much to finish, but
I know there are always little details that are important too. Keep
the pictures coming!!!

Also I was super excited to hear about Brad and his family, I'm sure
ya'll are getting really excited now as are they,and the missionaries
of course! I love how the work goes when the members are involved, it
is so much smoother. Also Ryan is going to Independence Missouri!!!
I'm super jealous!!! I'm guessing that he will be speaking English,
either way I've got several "conocidos" (missionaries that I met in
the MTC) that are there right now speaking Spanish. It ought to be
really cool to see all of the Church History and stuff around there!!!
I'm sure he is exstatic, but he's still got a little over 2 months til
he leaves... I know how the waiting goes!!! LOL.

I'm looking forward to being in this sector for Christmas, we've
already got lunch on Christmas day and the home where we will be
making/receiving phone calls lined out. If all goes well, President
May won't be doing too many changesw before Christmas, he just mixed
the mission up pretty well to be able to avoid that right there at the
holiday! It is tough to be away from home, but I'd have to say (from
experience) that it is more tough to be in a new place as well!

Well,I think that is about all I've got for this week! I love you all
and hope that you have a great week! Miss ya'll bunches!

¡Todo mi amor! ¡Muchos besitos!

-- Élder Todd

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Renca 1 - Week #1

It's P-day Again!!!

As you can tell by my opening comment and the subject of my e-mail, we had changes last night... and boy did things change!!! To start things off, we were working on receiving the key indicators from the zones for a while when Elder Marin's phone rang with President on the other end of the line. Of course that meant that changes would soon be ready and that Elder Marin would be leaving the sector, afterwards he asked to talk to me... President let me know that I would be leaving the office and headed here to Renca 1 with Elder Nàjera, from México, and that I would not be training a replacement in the office. He wouldn't tell me who my replacement was because he didn't know yet, but told me that I would only be answering questions (aka training) over the phone.

These whole changes put a pretty big sinking feeling in my gut, but I'm finally working through it. Throughout the day it has been getting less and less, and now is just kinda there. Turns out that Elder Smith will be my replacement so he won't be entering with absolutely ZERO training (only 3 days of last change...pfff). I'm kinda dreading this change though with working in a new sector and trying to train somebody over the phone (mostly the second part). I've had a million thoughts running through my head of possible scenarios that could be coming in the next weeks, but I don't think they will be happening. I feel very sorry for the circumstances of the which Elder Smith is entering the office and the work load he will be having. I did my best to get everything caught up last change, and succeeded fairly well, so at least he is starting with a clean slate.

Changes didn't really stop there, but all but 15 of 85 companionships had a change involved! Craziness!!! Also from the talk in the office there will be several big changes in procedure coming up for them real soon... can't wait to hear what. I'm kinda sad to have to leave my sector and all that, we had a record in Sacrament Meeting attendance this week with 158 attending. It was amazing, and we had a very spiritual fast & testimony meeting as well.

I'm excited to be away from all of the politics and stress that the office brings, yet at the same time it is kinda hard to leave that style of work behind. The change was a huge surprise since always previously the historian has trained a replacement, but I had no notice at all. With changes we were in the office very late trying to get things ready for the new missionaries that arrived this morning and I was trying to prepare things for Elder Smith. On top of all that our electronic system was not working on President's end and we had to do the changes by hand instead of them showing up in front of us all nice and neat. AAGGGHHH!!! Everything could have picked a different night to go wrong, one that I wasn't already unfocused... We finally left the office around 5:00 AM and Elder Moore and I slept for about an hour and a half while Elder Driscoll & Elder Young got ready to go to the airport at 6:00! It kinda sucked! Today has also be a long day with running all over the place with a few crazy changes and then trying to pack all of my stuff in less than 1 hour (luckily the office is bringing it to me tonight).

So now I sit in the middle of our sector on the Internet in another Ciber, paying to use a crappy computer! But I'm trying to do it with alot of excitement. I'm excited for our new district, which includes Elder Céspedes (one of my old district leaders) as our current district leader, and Huechuraba (one of the sectors in my old ward... the one I just came from)! It will be good to be out in the sector again full-time, unfortunately it is right as summer is starting up pretty good.

Not much new news from down here. And I had no idea that the McCabe family is moving! Where are they going? And that's a pretty big bummer too, I'm going to come home to a ward that I don't even know.

My e-mail sounds like a bunch of ranting, but I truly am excited to be here. A little frustrated too, but excited at the same time! I hope all goes well with Elder Smith and I'll keep ya'll posted with the craziness that happens this change!

Love ya'll and miss ya'll bunches! Now there are only a little over six weeks until I talk to you again. I'm not counting ().

Love you all and I'll talk to you next week, but not until Monday!

¡Todo mi amor!

-- Élder Todd

Circunvalacion 1 - week #24

Good Morning, Good Morning!!!

Jumping right into it... We had an amazing baptism last Sunday afternoon for Margarita!!! The whole service came off without a hitch and the Spirit was felt very strongly, amazingly enough a few of the kids from our condominiums came with Margarita's 11 year-old son (and our next baptism), Fabián. Also Margarita's older daughter came as well and she really did feel the Spirit very strongly, we have hopes that she will soon begin to share with us. From what I've come to know of Margarita, she has a very deep desire to share the Gospel with her family, this is working out very much to our advantage.

Our converts here in Circunvalación have the testimonies that they need to be able to stay active in the Church 10... 20... 40 years from now! I feel great about having had the blessing to be involved in their conversion, even though many times it was only as a spectator. Margarita will be confirmed this Sunday in Sacrament Meeting in the which she will be armed with the Holy Ghost and ready to meet anything that comes in her path.

Last night brought some surprising news for us here in the office, Elder Johns received a call about 10:35 PM from President May announcing what has become routine for me... yes, special changes. Elder Johns is currently on his way to San Pablo to be with Elder Vega, whose old companion will be coming to the office for the weekend to wait for normal changes on Monday. We were kinda bummed to see him go, but we all knew it would be coming sooner or later. For now Elder Driscoll has a temporary companion and will probably be with one of the 3 of us come Monday morning. As everyone knows, we have changes tomorrow night and will be running in every direction possible for the next 2 days. Our new missionaries will be coming in on Monday instead of Tuesday, so that really complicates the whole schedule and everything for these next couple of days.

I did finally receive my Halloween package on Wednesday, it really brightened up my day!!! I'm currently sitting here at my desk enjoying a few of the fruits of it, as a matter of fact. Even the little things cane amaze a missionary or make a pretty big difference. It takes us out of the routine of things, which is good to do every once in a while!

That is great that you have been talking to Sandra!!! I saw that family right around my birthday and it was great to hear how they are doing. I'd have to honestly say that they are my adopted family here in Chile! Keep writing her and pushing that they prepare to go to the temple (before I leave!!!). We've got retention working on them from all sides... jajajaja!!! [Spanish hahahaha]. Also try to keep them posted on how I'm doing, it is kinda tough for us to keep in touch because everything is through the mission mail system, which relies on the missionaries, (which doesn't work real well).

It does not feel like deer season should be starting, or like we should be getting fairly close to Christmas either. We are constantly warming up here, it has been close to 30°C this week and doesn't look like it will be getting cool, yet we have Christmas songs playing in the cars!!! LOL! Closer to the end of this month we'll be decorating the office and all that jazz, ought to be fun. And we'll see tomorrow if I'm still in here for Christmas or if I get to a new sector just a few days before (just like last year).

I'm excited to hear how the project is coming along, and I'm excited to see it!!! [*HINT, HINT*]. I can't wait, as I'm sure ya'll can't either, until it is done and the family can move in. You don't have to be sad either about finishing the big project, because "there will always be another project".

Thanks Dad for sending me the cool news on Carthage, that would be amazing to see a branch of the Church started out there!!! I'm guessing that the High Council is very heavily involved in the planning and creation process of that possible branch. Is Brother Sanders still heading that up on the southern end of the stake? And what is you assignment in the High Council, I know you are assigned to the Spanish branch but does it go más allá que eso? It is very exciting to see the work that is going in behind the split of the stake, we'll see what happens in the coming months and years!

Also just to let everyone know, Halloween this last weekend was the biggest that it has ever been in Chile. On Sunday night we were on the way out from the Taylor's home and were basically attacked by a bunch of costumed midgets. Here is the story as Elder Moore tells it:

"Halloween is becoming something rather big down here. There were trick -or-treaters down here. Except their deal is, they carry eggs with them and if you don’t have candy or answer your door, they egg you. That’s right. They egg you. It looks like all the American traditions that they adapt down here, they learn from the movies and I guess that happens in the movies. I had an army of 15 angry, yet, lovely children threatening to open fire if I didn’t cough up the goods. My mind was called back to watching the Alamo as I saw the fury in their little eyes as the ring leader called out ¡FUEGO! I love those kids. It was the same group of kids who just love seeing us; I guess it is different on the candy battlefield."

Needless to say the experience brought our fairly boring evening back to life!!!

Bummer about the World Series, but I guess I'll live. Also TCU plays Utah today in Salt Lake, ought to be a good game for everyone to watch... I'm rooting for TCU!!!

Hope ya'll don't ever forget que les amo and that I miss you bunches! Can't wait to talk to ya'll again! Have a good week and try not to work too hard!

¡Todo mi amor y muchos besitos!

-- Élder Todd

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Circunvalacion 1 - Week #23

Happy Halloween!!!

We are right around the corner from one of the big American holidays that is celebrated here in Chile, Halloween! Halloween here doesn't bring a whole lot of Trick-or-Treating but every once in a while you see a little ghoul or goblin on the next street over. The Evangelical Churches here don't appreciate the day much (and there are a lot of them) so they received approval from the government to have October 31st as a national holiday called Día de las Iglesias Evangelicas y Protestantes (Evangelical & Protestant Churches Day)... Seems like just another excuse to not work to me, and Monday will be again since it is "All Saints Day".

This week was like a roller coaster. I was reading the e-mails from home and noticed the drastic differences in Mom's and Dad's weeks. As far as the office and the missionary work goes I've had a pretty good week. Tomorrow morning we plan on having a baptism for Margarita, our investigator that we started teaching just over a week ago, and hopefully she will be confirmed in Sacrament Meeting tomorrow. (The baptism will probably be at about 9 o'clock in the morning). As for myself, my week has been kind of a bummer. I've become a total klutz this last week and for about 3 days straight I was running into EVERYTHING... It wasn't very fun...

It has been a whirlwind of a change! It is very possible that in 1 more week, with changes, that I will be training here in the office and preparing to be on my way out of here. There is part of me that is so ready to get back out to working in a normal assignment in the mission, but there is another part of me that enjoys it here in the office amidst all of the stress and problems that come up. (I admit it... I'm crazy!). Either way it happens I'm game! (But then again I'm not really left with much of a choice).

On November 8th we will be receiving 22 new missionaries from North America (18 elders & 4 sisters). We have been, and will be, running all over the mission in preparation for their arrival. Because of several other events happening that same week they will be arriving on change day... YAY!!! That means that none of us have any idea exactly how things will be running and will be hoping and praying that everything turns out alright.

P-day today is going to be pretty chill again. Recently by the time we get around to Saturday we are too tired to really do much, anything exciting or adventurous at least. This morning however we went to a big outlet mall a little north of the office and looked at soccer stuff, shoes/jerseys (that kind of stuff). Elder Marin (my favorite assistant... I was obligated to say that) has been creating a donation fund of "monedas de diez" (10 peso coins). It has been going on for a while and he is now up to over 40,000 pesos. The plan is to use these coins to buy new tennis shoes or soccer shoes, Nike being the brand specified at the birth of the fund, so we are now looking for shoes worthy enough to spend the money on. To kind of give you an idea of how worthless a 10 peso coin is and how much time this took I'll liken it unto American money. 10 pesos = 2 cents. Pretty worthless!!! (I'm attaching a photo). Also a 10 peso coin is about the same size as a nickel but weighs a little less. Either way the backpack we had full of 41,000 pesos in monedas de diez was pretty darn heavy!!! I'll keep you posted on the buy and probably will send a video when it finally happens.

Even with everything that has been going on this week I'm still surviving... That's normally a good sign, right? We did a lot of good for the mission this week, but our sector suffered a little bit. Everything is looking up still for tomorrow morning and then we'll be looking a little bit dry for most of November (unless we get another miracle... like Margarita). I love this work, it wears me out sometimes but even those days are good. I miss ya'll and love ya'll lots! Sorry my letter was kind of short!

¡Todo mi amor! ¡Besitos!

-- Élder Todd

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Circunvalacion 1 - Week #22

¡Hola Familia Mía!

Well, can't really say that the news at the beginning of the e-mail brightened up my day... But that is okay. It is kind of a bummer that you found out about about Aunt Mardria from Facebook!!! That sucks pretty bad actually, I'm not sure I like that that whole side of the family doesn't really let us know about anything (or talk to us, ó lo que sea).

The good news that followed was definitely good news, hopefully we hear more about that very, very soon!!! I'll throw a comment in another e-mail so that it doesn't give anything away. Also it is good that you might be able to see the Gilmore family pretty soon. It is kind of a bummer that I won't be there, but I guess that's how the cookie crumbles!

I got a Halloween package? If I did, it has not come in yet, but hopefully it will get here soon.

The weather here in Santiago can't figure out at all what it wants to do, a couple of days ago it was very hot outside and today it is cloudy and chilly. I'm thinking the climate here is more "bipolar" than the climate in East Texas, but I might have to have a memory refresher to know for sure! We are going into summer here so with the time change we gained an extra hour of sunlight which we are enjoying a little bit. It finally feels good to be able to work in our sector in a little bit of daylight.

This week has been another crazy busy week. We've been all over the place again this week and yesterday Elder Young and I got a little bit lost way over on the west side of Santiago! It was kinda fun... we knew, in a round about way, how to get home but we had no idea where we were going and our map did not lead us very well at all! But along the way we were able to run into a nice little surprise called A&W Root Beer & Dr. Pepper, both are tastes of home and are great even though I wasn't (nor am I) a huge fanatic of Dr. Pepper. This week we will be making root beer floats to celebrate this recent coming of events/stroke of luck that we've been having.

We are in full swing preparations for the 22 new missionaries coming into the mission on the 8th of November. Almost everyone in the office is running in about a million different directions and I'm always just sitting here peacefully at my computer watching the world pass by... it gets a little boring sometimes. Today, as unfortunate as it is, my letter is not receiving my full and undivided attention as I am preparing for 2 RPE meetings that President May has tomorrow. (Oh what fun!!!). ¡Pero así es a veces!

Also this week has had a couple of interesting turns of events in the sector. Wednesday we were able to teach one of our new investigators, Margarita, again. We taught about the plan of salvation and the importance of following the Gospel of Jesus Christ as a part of that plan. The Spirit was very strong and we felt like we should focus a lot on baptism near the beginning of the lesson... Let's put it this way, before we were done with "life on Earth" Margarita had a baptismal date for the 31st of October, just over a week away. She is well prepared for baptism; we will be having a family home evening with her tonight to work on gaining a little more confidence with her and we will be teaching the rest of the lessons that are necessary for baptism during this next week. It was great to see someone accept a baptismal commitment without any reservation at all, and especially a date so close...

I'm not sure I've ever really explained how our teaching and the missionary lessons work... I'll go ahead and give you a little feel for what we go through to help someone be baptized. When we find someone to teach we normally follow a basic outline of lessons to help prepare our investigators. The lessons are found in Preach My Gospel and are designed as 5 lessons with the basic doctrines of the Gospel as well as the commandments, ancient and modern. It is recommended that we teach all of these lessons, but there is no specific order as there is with the old "discussion" format previously used by the missionaries. The idea of this way of teaching is to help us follow the guidance of the Holy Ghost in the lesson and really focus on the needs of the investigators instead of just teaching the points listed in the manual. Other than the lessons, we focus on helping the people we teach to keep commitments to help them gain a testimony for themselves of this marvellous Gospel. In a nutshell that is what we do, and it is all topped off with a baptismal interview by one of the leaders of the mission (Elder Moore will be doing 2 tonight for the Conchalí 14 Ward), and last but not least the baptismal service itself. Pretty exciting isn't it?!?!?

I've got to admit that I was super excited to get updates on the house, but I'm still kind of disappointed that I haven't gotten new pictures of the house or the family for a while. I feel like that part of the e-mail never gets read or something... And I'm really hoping that y'all can be in the house by Christmas, that would be an awesome Christmas present. I'm also pretty excited that the Rangers are going to the World Series, the Taylors' and Elder Moore were pretty excited as well! And Lufkin!!! Woot!!! (If Elder Moore saw the "Woot" he would probably kill me...)

Well, I think that is about all I've got for this week. Sorry it is a little bit choppy, but I'm kinda having focusing problems today. Love y'all and hope all is well!


-- Élder Todd

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Circunvalacion 1 - Week #21

Fellow Citizens of the Planet Earth!

This has been a long 6 days!!! It feels like I haven't written you for over a month, but I know that it hasn't been nearly that long... But on to the better news: We had 3 baptisms on Sunday!!!

On Sunday following church meetings we were privileged to participate in the baptism of Sonia, Susan, & Kimberley. There were a few scary points on Sunday morning in the which we weren't sure if the baptisms were going to happen (mostly when they didn't show up to church on time). Elder Moore and I actually ended up leaving Sacrament Meeting to go get them (the second time). The service was simple but with a fairly decent turnout by the ward... even Presidente & Hermana May showed up! The Spirit was very strong in the baptism.

Also we had a special treat on Monday morning for our weekly office coordination meeting... Monday was a national holiday for Columbus Day so there was zero traffic in and out of the office, thus we were able to go to the mission home as a zone for breakfast with President and Hermana May. It was pretty good to get out a little bit and to see them in a little bit more of a relaxed atmosphere.

Sorry I didn't mention anything about the 33 trapped miners! For a while I honestly forgot that they were even trapped... Oops! That goes to show how far removed from the rest of the world we missionaries are. We did hear quite a bit about it during the whole extraction period. It was amazing what was done and from what I've heard was very well thought out.

Also this last week in Circunvalación 1, with Elder Moore, Elder Young, and I, we've had a lot of firsts. On Thursday we went the farthest south in the world that any of us have ever gone... we were able to go with the Taylors to the south side of Santiago to help them buy a car, it didn't work out on Thursday but they were able to go back on Friday and get the rest of it taken care of. Also Thursday night & Friday morning we were able to find a new house for a few of the hermanas in Quilicura, and we did it in record time! We were all over Santiago trying to get it done, running from one side to the other (better said... driving from one side to the other in the giant tank of a van we have). It was pretty fun but, needless to say, we are about dead now from being so tired!

Today is going to be pretty chill day, which is much needed after the whirlwind of a week that we've had. My work hasn't really suffered and yesterday I finished my big project for the week... come to find out about ten minutes afterward that the presentation wouldn't be needed and we would be rescheduling the meeting for a date in about 6-8 weeks when all of the information wouldn't be valid anymore and I'd have to start the whole thing over (I'm not bitter at all !!!).

Sounds like work sucks, and the house is coming along rather nicely. I almost figured that the floors downstairs would be a little more difficult because we are refinishing them instead of just painting, but I'm confident that Dad will get it to work out alright. Good news for you Mom... we'll get you playing soccer when I get back home... LOL.

This last week we've been able to find a few more people to teach, one of them is a referral from a member in our ward and the other is a former investigator that we couldn't find for a while because she had had back surgery. Both of them are pretty good, and it is currently looking like there are several other possible baptisms this month for our sector. The assistants are currently in the process of baptizing a family (as we speak), so that is pretty cool. I'm pretty sure we are the highest baptizing mission office that has come through the Chile Santiago North Mission for a while, and it feels good...

I love this work and all of the things that I've both learned and continue learning here! I hope that the spirit of missionary work is spreading to ya'll and especially that Gabe can catch the bug pretty soon.

I love ya'll and miss ya'll bunches! Hope that all is well at home!


-- Élder Todd

P.D. ¿La familia Whitworth son activos ahora?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Circunvalacion 1 - Week #20

Happy P-Day!!!

When you really think about it, P-day is just as special for the missionaries family as it is for the missionary himself... so I repeat, Happy P-Day! I'm currently multi-tasking here in the office... I'm writing ya'll and we are doing a barbecue at the same time. A few people cheated and bought a barbecue chicken and are planning on doing churipan again, while Elder Driscoll and I went all out with a nice little steak! I'm pretty excited, but it's all good.

It sounds like this week was pretty exciting on the home front, but I can't say I missed that kind of excitement. Here in the mission we have been busy as usual, but not overly stressed out (for a change). I'm trying to get on top of everything again and stay on top of it for when my trainee comes in next change (in 4 more weeks). I do have some good news about the week to announce however... We will be having 3 baptisms this weekend!!!

Last weekend when planning as a companionship we felt that the Peruanas, Sonia, Susan, & Kimberly, were ready for baptism this weekend. After the nice touch added by Conference and the counsels that Sonia really took to heart we knew that there wasn't anything big keeping them from taking the step. On Tuesday night we had a great lesson with them in the home of the Taylors. The Spirit was so strong there as we reviewed our feelings about General Conference and the truths of the Gospel that we know and enjoy in our lives. We primarily reviewed the baptismal interview questions to clarify that there was no underlying doubt in their minds. Upon completion of the questions and arriving at question 6, speaking about whether the individual feels ready to make a covenant with God that they are willing to take upon them the name of Christ and keep the commandments that we have been given, after much testifying from all of the 4 of us missionaries, Elder Young proceeded to extend a baptismal invitation for this weekend. I noticed a look of discomfort and uncertainty on Sonia’s face and immediately responded with another question focused directly at her. I said “¿Qué les impide de recibir estas bendiciones [las bendiciones de un bautismo] ya?” (aka “What is stopping you from receiving the blessings of a baptism now?”. They responded that there was nothing stopping them. We then followed-up with the baptismal invitation again, being very specific. They all 3 accepted baptismal dates for this Sunday the 10th of October. The preparations are well underway and we are super excited to be baptizing three investigators this weekend!

It took a long time to get these hermanas to the point that they felt ready to be baptized, but I've got no doubt that they will be great members of the Church. There are many blessings that they need to receive and the doors are opening to them to be able to receive them now.

I think I might have forgotten to mention that the weekend before Conference I heard that Victor Cerda received the Aaronic Priesthood and was ordained to the office of Priest. He will now be able to attend the temple to participate in baptisms for the dead. The Taylors are starting a program where they will be carrying recent converts to the temple for their first time to do baptisms for the dead... needless to say, I've gotten a few converts' names to them so that they have a place to start (*wink*).

I'm sincerely glad that ya'll had the opportunity to enjoy Conference weekend... it truly was like an early Christmas for us!!! We had the Peruanas in 3 of the 4 general sessions. I gained such a profound testimony of going into Conference with specific questions and the spirit of looking for answers. I left with an increased testimony of the divine calling of each of the prophets and apostles, I know without a doubt that each one of them is called of God. Also it was great to hear from several people who are either directly or indirectly (by recent visits) connected to la gran Misión Chile Santiago Norte! (ie Elder Kevin Duncan, Elder Claudio Costa, Elder Zeballos, and Elder Corbridge... all gave either talks or prayers)...

Mom: That is pretty funny about your Primary class and their request for cookies! I can't imagine why would somebody want store-bought cookies over homemade cookies!!! I do have to admit that I got a pretty good laugh out of your class of "opinionated five year-olds"! LOL.

Life here in the Southern Hemisphere keeps on keepin' on!!! Not too much excitement as of late... Fútbol season for the missionaries has started back up and we actually got out this morning a played with one of the zones for a little while. I've got to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed it, and really enjoy fútbol no matter how bad I am! We are in warmer weather now, so it is short-sleeves and no jackets almost 24/7, with shorts coming into play when we are just chillin'.

Side Note: This steak I'm eating right now... (my own handiwork by the way)... is pretty good!!!

I'm getting more and more excited for the McProject too... I need ya'll to keep sending me pictures so I'm not completely out of the loop!!! Hopefully all will go well to be in there by Christmas, I'd love to see it all decorated for the season!

Hope all is well with the family! I miss ya'll bunches and love you more! We're a little over 13 months down and about 2 & 1/2 months until our next phone conversation... once again I'll probably be in a new sector the week before Christmas!

Love ya'll and miss ya'll! ¡Besitos y abrazitos a todos!

-- Élder Todd

Friday, October 1, 2010

Circunvalacion 1 - Week #19

It's a wonderful day in the neighborhood!!!

This has to have been the most stressful nightmare of a change week that I've had in the mission... yes, worse than special changes when I came into the office. We have been all over the mission in these past couple of days along with the random changes we had here in the office that got everybody all mixed up! Sunday night had some pretty interesting announcements that came to us about our "new assignments", but those for the most part only lasted until about Wednesday. Elder Johns is training the new secretary, Elder Driscoll, and I was training the new historian, Elder Smith. (Notice I said "was".) These training assignments mixed up the sectors and the companionships pretty good and would have caused that I left the office after only 4 changes! But, alas, the office was once again the way to avoid doing a ton of special changes within the mission as Elder Smith was transferred out for what President May said would be "one more change". From what I've been told I will be training Elder Smith in the office next change... and if not, I'm sure it will happen eventually!

Enough of that craziness... Conference weekend bumped up our P-day to today (Friday) instead of Monday like we were expecting, so it is a nice little treat to get a break from the already overly hectic change week! We don't plan on doing much today. We had previously planned to do another barbecue but then we decided that we are all beat, so we will be doing that next weekend.

I enjoyed the birthday gifts from everyone!!! I have to admit that it didn't really feel like a birthday since I wasn't spending it with the family, also I don't really feel any older. We were in the office all day on Monday and then got to take a trip to the airport that night to send all of the gringos home. It was pretty chill, but I've got to admit that there was alot lacking to make it feel like a birthday. Sunday afternoon the Cerda family showed up at our chapel with a few little gifts for me, so that was an awesome surprise, and on Tuesday the Peruanas that we are teaching made me a cake... all in all everything had a good little culminating effect to make it a good birthday! Also I was able to see my birthday wishes a little earlier in the week than usual so that was nice to get!

Sorry I kinda let everyone know about the P-day change last minute. I haven't really been sitting at my computer much in the last few days, so I wasn't able to get a quick note out... not to mention we didn't find out that long ago.

Hope everyone has had a good week and that everything is going well. From the small notes (I completely understand) it sounds as if there is, as always, alot of stuff going on and that everyone is staying busy. Conference weekend ought to be great, I'm excited to see and hear what the prophets have to tell us!!! I've got to admit that Conference weekend for missionaries is almost as big of a deal as Christmas is for all of the little kids in the world. In fact it might almost be better!!!

I love you all and I hope that y'all get a chance to take advantage of Conference and can watch ALL OF THE SESSIONS!!! Hope you have a great weekend and a great week next week.

¡Todo mi amor!

-- Élder Todd

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Circunvalacion 1 - Week #18

I tried to think of a catchy intro... actually I focused on that for about half of the time I was writing this e-mail!

This last week has been pretty good here in the office. We've had alot of work, but one can't complain too much... after all it is work, and I knew that coming into the mission. As far as the sector goes, it looks like we're still going to be pretty dry for this weekend, but we've got high hopes and lots of faith in October!

The festivities of the 18 de Septiembre were pretty fun... We as a district were able to hit up Santiago Centro on P-day and we had a blast, it would have to be one of the most fun preparation days that I’ve had in a long time. When we first headed to the center we had absolutely no idea what we were going to do there, so we decided to see what was going on and grab a quick bite to eat. While we were eating at one of the completo stand things we saw, basically, a stampede of Chileans start running from the Plaza de Armas down one of the side streets. Elder Johns of course jumped right in there and was eager to run with them knowing nothing of why everyone was running. Elder Barrett and Elder Moore joined them as Elder Young and I finished eating and waited a minute to see what was going on. The excitement of it all pushed us to run as well and before we knew it everyone within sight was not only running, but jumping as high as possible to snatch what appeared to be bookmarks flying through the air. Turns out, it being the bicentennial celebration of Chile, the Chilean Air Force was dropping papelitos with quotes and statements about Chilean history from aircraft flying above Santiago. At the very same moment the same thing was happening over the other 14 regional capitals of Chile. It got pretty intense, but Elder Young and I decided to stay on the edge of the crowd to avoid getting trampled… turns out we got a pretty good haul with the bookmarks, bringing in about 30 each from running all over about 4 city blocks! We then decided to head to La Moneda, the Chilean Whitehouse one could say (the president doesn’t live there though), and check out the setup for the late night light show they were doing over the weekend. The setup was pretty sweet, but nothing was going on at mid-day. Also we were able to visit the museum located below La Moneda and see a little bit of the Chilean culture at its best. The day was wrapped up with heading back to the house, resting for about 10 minutes, studying, and heading out to work a little bit.

Unfortunately national holidays aren't too effective to do proselyting work, but Monday was a very mellow day here in the office with everyone still recovering from their long weekend. Also Tuesday was pretty chill as far as business as well, especially as far as missionaries go because there were enjoying their P-day.

So I'm pretty stoked about General Conference this next weekend... We will of course be attending all of the sessions which will take away from our P-day time. President May hasn't told us much about if our P-day schedule is going to change or not, but a few of the office elders that were here in April said that P-day was moved to Monday... so don't neccessarily expect a letter on Saturday, but y'all are more than welcome to write me any day of the week (every once in a while we have to check our personal mail accounts to make sure President hasn't sent us something important)!

I was able to do my second baptismal interview on Thursday night. It wasn't quite as rough as the first one because I knew exactly what to expect. So Circunvalación 2 will be baptizing Camila (10) this Sunday, it ought to be great.

I almost forgot to tell you about the activity that we had last night in our condominiums... Elder Moore and I, with a little help from the other office elders and the assistants, organized a movie night here in our condominiums. We kinda did it all a little last minute and ran into a few problems as we went, such as the sudden increase in wind, the sudden drop of temperature, and of course the lack of extension cords of a decent length here in Chile. If we had been in Texas we would have had two 100 foot extension cords within about 30 seconds, but here we had about three 4 foot long extension cords within about 40 minutes!!! (We are in Chile!!!) Finally one of the recent converts that just moved from Conchalí 14 to our ward saved the day with a 30 meter long extension cord that he borrowed from his uncle. All in all we had a decent turn out at the movie night, watching first "Finding Faith in Christ" and afterwards "The Testaments". We are hoping that a few new investigators come from this... I know there is at least one probable new investigators as I basically taught Lesson 1 to here during the movie!!! Hopefully we can do it again pretty soon with another movie and get a few more people involved.

Compared to my usually boring letters I'm pretty impressed with what I've gotten written today! Hopefully it will give you a little bit better light on how crazy the mission really is. I really do love it here! And the office is great, yes it is hard to not baptize sometimes, but we are working hard to do so!!! I was speaking with President May the other day and he was asking how the office experience was for me. I answered him that I really do enjoy it, perhaps I don't have as many baptisms here as I would in a normal sector, but I'm getting a little bit different type of experience working here.

I love this work and all of the blessings it has brought in my life. I'm excited to see Ryan getting ready to leave on the mission! Hopefully he gets his call pretty soon so it doesn't eat him up waiting to find out where the Lord would have him go. Keep me posted as far as that news goes.

The house seems to be coming along fairly nicely. I can't wait to see more pictures when you can get them to me (and OF THE FAMILY), and I can't wait to see the finished project. Also I did get my package!!! I opened the outer package and saw the wrapping on almost everything so I decided to wait until Monday to open all of that. The Skittles however did not make it through the end of the week, they weren't wrapped up so I figured they were fair game... LOL. The only thing about international shipping is that it has the dumb little customs label on it, so it gives the whole surprise away every time! But either way, I'm excited to see what's inside!!! I might even get to use it on Monday...

Say "HI" to everyone for me... especially Dillon since he told y'all to write it (he knows he can write me, right?). And send my love to the Stovall family!!!

Hope that y'all have a great week and that y'all enjoy General Conference from the comforts of home!!! (Blah!!!). Love y'all and talk to y'all next week!!!


-- Élder Todd

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Circunvalacion 1 - Week #17

¡Feliz 18 de Septiembre!

Today is the 200 year celebration of the independence of Chile... se llama la Fiesta Patria! We are all pretty excited to have our P-day today and see what kind of fun we can get into. Unfortunately tonight will be fairly limited as far as the amount of proselyting we can do, unless of course we want to talk to a lot of borachos. Yesterday we had a fairly lengthy activity to celebrate la Fiesta Patria in our ward. It started about 11:00 AM (with people getting there finally around 12:30 PM... you've got to take into account Mormon Standard Time thrown on top of Chilean Time), and ended about 6:00 PM... all in all it was fairly short compared to most of the ward/stake parties in the area.

My first and only 18 de Septiembre in Chile is currently underway... so far it doesn't look like there is a whole variety of activities available for us today, so I'm not sure what we'll be doing for P-day. Lots of times it kinda sucks to have P-day on a national holiday... everything is closed today so we can't even hit up the mall for food.

This week has been fairly laid back. Fortunately I haven't had any big deadlines and I've been able to get on top of almost all of my work, let's hope this next week proves to allow the same thing. Monday will be a pretty relaxed day in the office since all of Chile will still be on vacation for the holiday weekend, but Tuesday we'll kick back into full swing!

September 11th went well, we entered the house at 8:00 PM and just hung out with all of the missionaries in the condominiums for a couple hours. We were told the next day that it got a little crazy right around midnight with all of the jovenes hanging out in the street and building bonfires in front of the apartment buildings. All in all it was pretty chill though, and as far as I know there wasn't anything super crazy or exciting that went down. Also the cemetery was pretty cool, it is HUGE!!!... and a little bit creepy. I'll try to get some pictures out to y'all pretty soon, the architecture there is amazing. And you know how I am about architecture! If it didn't know that I was going to be a doctor or that I needed to be a doctor I might consider architecture or something similar.

Work and everything sounds pretty stressful... unfortunately it is about the same here in the mission too, with missionaries who can't really behave themselves. It is also good to hear that Lufkin won again, they are undefeated right now if I'm not mistaken, right?

So Gabe got a new calling? I was looking on the new LDS.org website and it has listed all of the leadership of the ward, I didn't see his name on the list of Elder's Quorum teachers and was wondering what was up. Mom, are you still working in the family history center too? And is Gabe taking over my work I was doing with the family geneology, or is he just there? Sounds like everybody elses callings are doing great, Dad with High Council, and Ryah with president of the Laurels.

I'm kinda tired of not hearing from Gabe and Ryah... even when I send letters they don't respond. If I didn't know better I'd think they were happy I was gone.

¡Felicitaciones a Scott y Amanda! This was the first I had heard of that, since Gabe never sends me news and stuff like that. I feel so out of the loop now, compared to how it was at the beginning of my mission when everyone was still letting me know every little tidbit of information. I'm going to run into a technology and a news overload when I get back and I'm able to get connected back to the outside world!!!

This last week was kinda tough in the Gospel sharing category. Fortunately for us last night went very well! We were in interchanges so I was not able to be in my sector, but Elder Moore and Elder Barrett were able to teach 3 lessons with members present and find a family of 3 new investigators who are all planning on going to church on Sunday (tomorrow). Also I was able to do my first baptismal interview as district leader (first ever) for an 11 year-old investigator in Circunvalación 2 who will be baptized this Sunday. His name is Alfonso and he is ready!!! I was kinda worried at first, but the whole process went very well. I was sweating bullets but we both came out of the interview and he still wanted to be baptized, so that worked out very well. I think I was more nervous about the interview than he was!!!

So like I said I'm going to work on sending out some pictures in the next little bit. Sorry my letter seems short, everytime I write it seems like I write less and less! I love y'all and miss y'all! You've just got to hang in there for a little over 11 months!

¡Todo mi amor y cariño!

-- Élder Todd

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Circunvalacion 1 - Week #16

Buenos Días USA!

Today is September 11th, a day of significance for the USA and for Chile... it is interesting to me however the difference in the reasons that they are significant. In the US today there is a feeling of respect for the lives lost on the 11th of September, 2001. In Chile there is a sense of worry and preoccupation, this day marks the beginning of the political overthrow that came with Pinochet in the year 1970. It is hard for me to believe how one day can have such significance for so many people, but is such different ways.

Please don't worry about our safety here in Chile, everything is fine... the Area Presidency and President May have coordinated to keep all of the missionaries safe, especially here in the Santiago area, thus we have been instructed to avoid large public areas/government buildings (where there are possible problems) and we will be entering the house at 8:00 tonight (at the latest). The only thing that is likely to happen is that we will be without power for a while, because the "flaites" have a tendency to cut it to celebrate...

Enough of that... Last weeks Labor Day barbecue was alright. Even with 3 Eagle Scouts present we had to have the help of a Chilean to get the grill (charcoal) going well enough to cook the churipan. So our P-day last week was pretty chill. Today we have plans to go check out the National Cemetery here in Santiago, close to the location of the new mission office... the idea randomly came to Elder Moore and I last night, so hopefully that will be a pretty interesting event/learning experience. Turns out that this cemetery has rumors to be haunted (but we are going during the day) and is where all of the former presidents of Chile, except one, are buried. Ought to be cool!!!

Overall this week was pretty laid back, a few deadlines came up as usual but everything went of without a hitch. I was in training meetings for a lot of the week with the new information coming down from Salt Lake, so that took me out of the office for almost 2 whole days, but it's all good. The office is still alive and kicking! (For now...) I'm actually enjoying being here quite a bit. Even when it is hard I know that what I'm learning here will eventually pay off.

Thanks for the pictures and stuff, it was good to be able to see a little bit of the progress with the house. Those two things are pretty big steps. Are y'all planning on painting the stairs white or doing the clear-coat thing on them? I know the runner will be in the middle, but I'm trying to visualize it but I can't remember... Also I have broken out the plum jelly and it is almost gone. I wasn't sure what to think at first, cause it wasn't coming out of a package and it had a decent flavor, but I soon became accustomed to it and I'm loving it now!!! LOL.

Try your best to hold on to everything pretty tight with all of the hurricane/tropical storm activity. You know it isn't a good sign when you are in the second week of September and a storm beginnning with the letter "I" is already brewing out in the deep. Looks like it is going to be a pretty active season! Whatever you do, just hang tight!!!

As far as the work this week... We've been able to find 2 new investigators this last week (a mother and daughter), the mother has previously shared with missionaries and was almost baptized. She stated the other day that she knows that the Church is true but that she wasn't baptized, nor will she be, because she doesn't want to drive a wedge between her brothers and sisters. Two of her sisters are LDS already, but one of her brothers is a Catholic priest, unfortunately he wasn't to happy about her decision to be baptized and started a fight with one of the LDS sisters... turns out she wasn't baptized and says that she won't be, but we'll see what happens. You've gotta love the people who just don't understand how the Gospel works! Carlos is still just hanging in there, we are waiting for him to stop smoking and will be focusing on that a little more this week. The Peruvians don't feel like they are ready, but already have all of the teachings they need. Our focus this week with them will be to help them realize the blessings that they are postponing by not receiving this baptism. I know we can't push them, but it is our duty to help make sure that they really understand how important this is.

Not too much exciting happening down here. We're still hanging in there for now!!! So no worries in that department. Hope all is well at home and everyone is doing alright! Love you all and miss y'all bunches!

¡Todo mi amor!

-- Élder Todd

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Circunvalacion 1 - Week #15

¡Buenos Días al Northern Hemisphere!

Happy almost Labor Day to everyone in the great nation of the USA!!! We here in the mission office are taking advantage of the US holiday today and are having our first annual (and possibly last) Labor Day barbecue! We're all pretty stoked about it!

The temperatures here are starting to get a little bit warmer, but we had a pretty good cold snap and some wet weather on Wednesday and Thursday. The weather here can't figure out what it wants to do either... I'm actually starting to feel like I'm in East Texas weather again. Hopefully all continues to go well in regards to the hurricane season. We don't want y'all gettin' too wet up there!!!

I'm super excited to see the house! Did Ryah's floors already get the checker-board print done or just the white? Either way, it sounds like a lot got done on this long weekend and that y'all should be in pretty soon. Right??? Hopefully... LOL.

The ward seems like it continues changing, with more move-outs and move-ins. I'm pretty certain that I'm going to come back to a lot of people that I have no idea who they are. Also, how are the couple of future missionaries doing with their preparation (especially Ryan Whitworth)?

I was able to get on the online banking website, and to answer the question about Subway... yes, I did make the same transaction twice (someone else didn't money for lunch). It will be pretty helpful for me to keep an eye on the account, but either way I don't want y'all to take your guard down about it either.

I feel like all of my statements up until this point have been little 1-2 line responses to a few questions or comments on something y'all have said... LOL. Oh well!

So I'm still not really used to writing on Saturdays. In any other part of the mission we get to write just after our week has finished and fill everyone in on what happened over the weekend (aka baptisms, people in church, etc.). We've got to wait almost a whole week and then have more news the next day!!! I'll live I guess... But, last weekend we had 5 investigators in church for the first time in a long time, As an office we had 12! Carlos went and has stopped smoking (for the most part) this week, hopefully he'll get his act completely together and stop all together so he can be baptized next weekend. Also a Peruvian family we are teaching went to church and absolutely loved it. Sonia, her daughter Kimberly, and her sister Susan all went and stayed for the first 2 hours of church, Sacrament Meeting and Gospel Principles. Kimberly was able to stay for all three hours and was super excited about the Primary (she's 8). When her mom and aunt left she begged them to be able to stay, it was so cute! They've got to be the best investigators, as far as commitment and preparedness goes, that I've had. Kimberly during the week has been working to fulfill an assignment from her Primary teachers to learn the 11th Article of Faith, we passed by yesterday and she already has it memorized... along with her mom and aunt... AND they all memorized the first 3 or 4 Ariticles of Faith as well. Last night I decided to put myself to the test against them with the Articles of Faith in Spanish and they all kicked my trash!!! It was pretty fun though to get beat out by a couple of investigators of just under a month!!!

Here in El Cortijo, the office zone (with 3 full-time proselyting companionships), we are going to have a month of white this month (September). We're looking fairly good so far with the probability of 4 baptisms this month and a few more possible baptisms (a lot depends on church tomorrow)! We are all super excited about the success we've been having and we look forward to more as the month goes on!

The office is still kicking as usual... I'm still fighting against a few upcoming deadlines with almost no time to finish everything, but it will work out alright!!! The life of an office missionary is not easy, but I'm pretty sure learning to balance everything now will work out to our advantage pretty well in life after the mission.

I love this work with all my heart... and I strive daily to put all my heart, might, mind, and strength into what I do. Sometimes I fall a little short, but that doesn't keep me from getting back up and trying again. I love you all and hope that y'all can find the same happiness in sharing the Gospel that I have in these 12 & 1/2 months!!!

Love y'all and hope all is well at home!!! Send me pictures!!! Please!!!

¡Todo mi amor! y ¡muchos besitos!

-- Élder Todd

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Circunvalacion 1 - Week #14

¡Hola Familia!

I'm officially OLD!!! It is kinda hard to think that I just passed my "Hump Day". Thanks everyone for the Happy Hump Day letters/wishes! This week was a little more slow and tranquil, so that was a real blessing for my 1 year anniversary... not a lot of excitement, but I'm alright with that.

So Thursday came and went like any other day. I actually kinda forgot that I completed a year in the mission until a few other elders brought it up! It was work as usual, mostly just staying here in the office all day. Recently however we have been very blessed in our sectors, (the 3 office sectors), with many people to teach and a few baptisms coming up. September is going to be a month of white! Elder Moore and I are working hard here and are hoping to have at least 4 people in church tomorrow if all goes well, with the potential to have several more as well.

In this last week I've started to try to change a little bit how I do the work of the ministry. Recently we've had a lot of training meetings and we've been focused on several key points that the Church is suggesting/pushing that we incorporate in our work. Sometimes it is a little tough to change, but I know it is for the better and I know that there is no better time to change than now, at the end of my first year as a missionary. So far it looks as if we'll start this year off right with several baptisms and helping a few people "come unto Christ". Unfortunately focusing on these changes has pushed me back into the reserved mode that I had a little before and several people have noticed the change... I'm trying to figure out how I can balance the changes and be the missionary that I would like to be, but TODAY!!!

Sounds like fall in East Texas is getting underway pretty good! With football season starting back up (and Lufkin winning of course) and the weather starting to finally get a little cooler! We here in Santiago are finally starting to get a little bit warmer, there were actually a few days this week that we had short-sleeve shirt weather and we definitely took advantage of it! Also we are planning, as a district/zone/office (all the same) on having a Labor Day Barbecue this next weekend to celebrate. I think we are going to go as far as buy a small charcoal grill and cook out somewhere... LOL.

I WANT TO SEE THE HOUSE!!! When are y'all going to send me pictures? I keep hearing about all of these changes and I'm super excited about them, but unfortunately (yet fortunately at the same time) I'm thousands of miles away and can't see them. I'm getting my hopes up a lot about being in the house as soon as I get back, with my own room, bed, futon thing, and all the works... So now I just need to see what I'm coming back to, it may not be too different but I'd still like to see the progress.

More changes in the ward? I'm wasn't real clear on what they were but it sounds like a lot is changing up. Is McCabe still going to be teaching seminary this school year?

So Jared is planning on heading up to BYU Idaho? That is a little farther north than he was planning before the mission, but then again he knew he was going to find out what he was going to be doing for the rest of his life while he was on the mission. I really need to write that kid and see how he is doing... And working at good ol' Chick-fil-A again. Are Ryah and Dillon still working there? I haven't heard recently, nor have I heard from Ryah recently.

Sorry it seems like I don't comment much on what is in the letters, but I promise that I really do try pretty hard. Today I've been dealing with writers block, alot!!! And of course that means that I've got no idea what I'm saying, nor can I think of what to write... LOL. But I guess that is how it is sometimes!

Back to the missionary work this week. Yesterday was probably one of the most interesting days this week. We were in intercambios (divisions) and I was with Elder Young and Elder Barrett in their sector. Elder Barrett ended up leaving with Elder Taylor (since Hermana Taylor was sick) and working with him in the evening and Elder Young and I finally got to do some proselyting together. It was kinda funny because even when we were companions we didn't get a chance to work together! Also Elder Johns was in our sector with Elder Moore, leading it since he just left here weeks ago and knows more about it than Elder Moore does so far. They were able to pass by the home of a few investigators, Maritza and her 9 year-old son Benjamín. Maritza unfortunately wasn't home and they were planning on coming back later... BUT, Benjamín opened the door, let them in, and sat them down to have a lesson. Can you believe it?!?!? What 9 year-old kid would let two 20 year-old missionaries in his house with him alone and would start to talk about Jesus Christ, I think I've only met one!!! LOL. But he sat them down and offered to say the prayer, going on to thank God for the "Testigos de Jehova" [aka Jehovah's Witness] that were able to come talk about Christ with him (that was the semi-comical part). They went on teaching about baptism with him and had a full out lesson with a 9 YEAR-OLD!!! He even went as far as to invite them back for another lesson, so we will be passing by tonight at 7:30 to see how he and his mom are doing!!! LOL.

You've got to love the little tender mercies that randomly happen to us here in the work of the Lord. We find some of them comical but we really love them every time one comes around! I look forward to the experiences that this next year will bring in la gran Misión Chile Santiago Norte!!! (It still feels weird to say that I'm in my second year of the mission...).

I love this work, I'm not the same person I was before and I'm grateful for that! One of my greatest hopes is that Gabe can get in gear and start preparing for a mission, he could have left about 10 weeks ago (as long as you turn 19 while you are in the MTC) and it makes me sad that he doesn't even seem to be working towards it.

I love you all and miss y'all bunches! There isn't a day that passes by that I don't think about la casa (even for just a second) [not to the trunky point though].

Hope that all is well at home and we'll see you here in a year from Monday!!!

¡Besitos a todos!

-- Élder Todd Hendrickson

Monday, August 23, 2010

Circunvalacion 1 - Week #13

¡Hola Familia!

WOW!!! Sorry I'm a little late at writing... but we had a devotional this morning with Elder Amado, the Area President of Area Chile, and Elder Costa, from the Presidency of the Seventy. It was amazing! The whole thing was one of those surprises that President May just randomly brings up in a training meeting on Wednesday and Thursday. Turns out Elder Costa is here in Chile visiting with Elder Scott, and the North and East Missions got to meet with Elder Costa, while the West Mission and Rancagua got to meet with Elder Scott. So we were richly fed this morning, spiritually speaking of course, and we now get to enjoy a little bit of P-day!

In the devotional Elder Costa spoke on several topics that were a little unusual. First off he talked about what a Seventy is and what he does, then about the mission president, and then about us as missionaries. It was kinda cool to get a look into the similarities in the three callings, but also their differences. I loved what he had to say about us as missionaries and the talk gave me a little more drive to change a few things about who I am, both personally and as a missionary!

As far as changes are concerned... the first part of the week was a literal NIGHTMARE! I don't know why but there were a few things that went wrong, finally all was resolved but it was still super crazy. Yesterday was the first and only day this week that we haven't had to get up early for something this week, and in the afternoon Elder Moore and I had to drive out to Curacavi (a sector about 1 hour outside the normal scope of the mission that is only included because it is part of one of our stakes) so that was a lot of fun. We are starting to get some pretty nice weather here, I mean sunshine and short-sleeved shirt weather! So that tan that everyone saw on Facebook that has long since disappeared should be on its way back in no time (if I get time to go outside while I'm working here in the mission office...)! LOL.

So I got my package, and everything was there and in tact. I was kinda hoping for a handwritten note, but I didn't find one... Also I've got a request, but I'll let you know that in a separate e-mail so it doesn't always seem to everybody like I'm ask, ask, ask.

Right now in the sector we are trying our hardest to work with these few people on their commitments and get them prepared for baptism. The finding efforts haven't been real successful this week but we are, in my opinion, doing a pretty good job at juggling 12 investigators with only 4 hours in the sector a day (not counting Monday in which we had 0 hours in the sector). Carlos is slowing progressing towards baptism. He has still got to stop smoking completely, but he is improving. We are hoping and praying that he can be baptized next weekend!

I forgot to let you know that I am no longer companions with Elder Johns. Along with changes we also had changes here in the office. Elder Barrett, the financiero, is now training Elder Young (my former companion of 6 hours) and they are companions of Elder Johns. I'm now companions with Elder Moore, the Texan, and I'm district leader. It looks like President is expecting great things from the Texans in the mission because we are now the second companionship of Texans. There was previously another one but they had changes where one of them is now currently with another Texan! So we Texans are here "sacando la mugre" (por decir)!!!

So it sounds like Gabe will probably be getting his license pretty soon! And I haven't heard from he or Ryah recently. What's up with that? Also it sounds like school starting up ought to be a blast again... and a SENIOR! (Unfortunately that status doesn't bring the discount at restaurants).

Seems like everything is going well for everyone at home, and that all are super busy with work and all that jazz! Good luck with the talks Dad!!! I've had a lot of people recently ask me if you can still speak Spanish well and I'm sure you can, so you'll do fine. How do they do the translating thing for Brother Vercher? Do they just hook someone else into the sounds system or what? Oh yeah, about the picture... I wasn't ring leader at the time, nor do I think I really am now... LOL. I do try to keep us all on the straight and narrow though.

I love y'all and hope that all is well at home! Hope that everything goes alright with work this week, especially with the change of work and all that for Mom!

¡Les amo mucho y les extraño! ¡Besitos!

-- Élder Todd

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Circunvalacion 1 - Week #12

¡Hola Familia!

Good news coming from down here on the other end of the world (aka Santiago Chile): The mail strike that was supposed to last 15 days finished after 1... Correos Chile went on strike last Friday and was open again for business as usual Monday morning. So my package should be well on the way here, arriving the early part of the week... now whether we get time to go down and get it soon or not is a different story.

So right now we are about to start CHANGE WEEK!!! We have so many things that we've got to do this Monday & Tuesday that it isn't even funny. You've got to love sending and receiving large groups of missionaries... We will be sending out 24 missionaries and receiving 17!!! So I'm actually looking forward to getting to know all of the new missionaries on Tuesday, it is always the highlight of my week.

As for this week in the work of the Lord. We have had a lot of success in our finding efforts during this past week. I'm about to start learning how to really balance work in the office and teaching in the sector. We are currently teaching upwards of 12 investigators in 6 or 7 different households! And it is getting crazy. So far there is nobody super close to baptism since we've found 10 of those people this last week. We had previously been hoping for a baptism tomorrow, but Carlos hasn't been progressing with quiting smoking as much as he should be. Also we've recently verified a few understanding problems with him and are having to start back close to square one... the pre-interview (practice) that we did the other night left Elder Johns and I more shocked and embarrassed than any other interview and/or practice interview we've ever had. But we are staying excited and willing to do whatever possible to help him keep/start progressing again!

Also within these 10 new investigators we have found 3 families. One of the families is a Peruvian family of 4 females, 3 of which have recently arrived from Peru within the last couple months... from what I've learned the Peruvian people are more responsive to our message. Also we found a mom and son who had previously shared a little bit with missionaries and another older couple who also had shared with missionaries. It is awesome to find families, even if they are your typical nuclear family (mom, dad, and kids)!!!

So Galveston sounds like it was lots of fun. It would be nice to have a beach house... until the next hurricane hits down there!!! LOL. I wouldn't mind it if for some reason I was close to down there with Med School and stuff like that. The more I really think about specializing, the more I'm set on Pediatric Emergency Medicine! I know... Dad has already reassured me that to work in the ER you've got to be crazy, but I'm embracing it now so it's all good!!!

Also it sounds like the Lufkin Ward has a lot of changing faces! Four new families if I counted correctly. And I imagine that you said Jenny Judkins because it is the Jenny Judkins that I know... Am I right??? Or was that just a major coincidence? And if so, I guess she isn't Jenny Judkins anymore...

Uh-oh!!! Sandra is asking about when my birthday is... When she did that with Elder Davenport they showed up in the ward where he is and took him something!!! LOL. That family is so crazy, but I love them... Y'all need to do your best to push them towards the temple (through Facebook), they really need the blessings of the temple in their family. And I want to be there to see them get sealed!!! (A little selfish, right?).

So I've just got to admit... These letters get more and more interesting every week. I love how you can not hear from somebody for almost a year and then all of a sudden the next thing you hear is that they are moving or something like that... LOL. I really do enjoy the way it feels as if everything at home has just stopped while you're away from a while! All of the changes that happen feel like they are overnight!!!

I can't really think of anything else to tell you! I think I'll send a picture or two and I'll be getting a few more out next weekend... I love y'all and miss y'all!!! Hope all is well at home. And I really look forward to getting that package of goodies this week!!!

¡Con todo el amor y cariño que puedo dar!

-- Élder Hendrickson