Monday, April 26, 2010

Lo Ovalle 3 - Week #3

¡Hola Familia!

It is my third and final week in Lo Ovalle 3 with Elder Jensen. Here in another week I'll be having special changes again, hoping to return to Lo Ovalle 1 with Elder Davenport (as of right now that is the plan of everyone I've talked to that has any information). Woot Woot!!!

This last week was a little bit better than the week before, until Friday or Saturday (I don't remember... the days are all one big blur). Now we are on the uphill climb in our companionship and working as hard as we can to baptize 2 people this next Sunday. The Stumpf Family that we've been teaching for the past little while are starting to have desires to be baptized... Jaquelin (the mom) and Ian (12) will be taking the jump this week and Freddy (the dad) has decided to wait and keep preparing. It feels great to find families and work with them to complete the goal together... but here it seems like the fathers are a little bit difficult, thus the last 3 families have had everyone baptized except the dads (including this one).

Mom: I knew the links were in Spanish... but I'm glad you found Google Translator, and I thought Dad might translate for you too. If not I'll translate them here in 16 months or so. And I'm still not counting the days to Mother's Day... but I do know when it is.

Sounds like life is moving pretty good at home, wish I could be there to see the changes with everything. And try to send me pictures as soon as you can... PLEASE!!! And Ryah is going to Prom? With a date or a group? And who?

Congratulations to Gabe for getting ready to be ordained as an Elder... it is kinda a lot of responsibility, but be sure to use the Priesthood when you can! Now you've only got to find a job and get in the driver's seat so you can get headed towards the mission field.

So even more than usual this week has been slow and full of absolutely no excitement... no earthquakes, no baptisms, no flaites [gangsters... más o menos] throwing rocks at us... LOL. The only thing interesting is that Elder Marin, one of the zone leaders, was in intercambios the other day with Elder Davenport and bugged me about half of the night telling me that he was going to send me to The Office (of the mission). Other than that there was absolutely nothing.

As I said last week I'm really learning a lot about myself and seeing changes that are happening with me. I'm not the same person I was, after some of what has happened in the mission I don't know how I could be. It scares me to see the kind of missionary that can go to the mission and not go home changed! After all this is the Lord's work, it is His time, and we are His servants...

I love this work with all my heart and the opportunity that I have to grow closer to my Heavenly Father through this great and marvellous work. I hope I can continue to see changes in myself and help others also to find out how great of a change that true conversion to the Gospel of Jesus Christ can truly make.

I love and miss y'all! Talk to you in a couple weeks. And sorry that the letter was short today!!!

¡Todo mi amor y cariño!

-- Élder Todd

Monday, April 19, 2010

Lo Ovalle 3 - Week #2

¡Hola Familia!

I'm physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually drained (and whatever other type of draining there can be to make you not want to do much). This week was rough! And my training opportunity I've had hasn't been too fantastic... Élder Jensen is a great missionary and we get along, but it has been kinda tough for me to keep my spirits up this week as he is having a few difficulties. It is amazing to what magnitude the attitude of one companion can effect the companionship! This morning (until about 2:00 pm) was a really bad day, as my energy has been a lot lower than what I'm used to, but now we are on the uphill climb, together...

Enough of the sadness... We are trying to work as hard as possible in our new sector, Lo Ovalle3. I'm starting to remember why we stopped working in the sector in the first place, as there are very few people who have interest in even listening to us for more than 30 seconds. I think, however, that I'm finally starting to get the hang of opening sectors... they do say that the 3rd time is a charm... LOL

Sorry I'm writing a little bit later than usual today... but last week was cambios and today we had a few things we had to take care of with the zone leaders (who are awesome I might add), entonces aquí estoy ahora. Last week in cambios I didn't even have to change my bed... and I'm not sure training is something to enjoy, it is an assignment no más and I'm trying my best to do it right and have fun at the same time.

There is so much good stuff going on at home that I'm a little sad I'm missing out... between the Father/Son campout (even though I'm not a huge camping fan) and the home-made jams. But I think that a jar or two of jam would make me feel a whole lot better... *wink, wink*. Also I can't believe that Jared (Elder Hardy) already has a departure date... I wonder if he is starting to get a little bit trunky yet. It is also wild to think that Sean (Élder Gilmore) will be ending his mission pretty soon. Has anybody heard how Alex (Elder Datillo) is doing?

About the earthquake recovery efforts (request of Mom): I'm not kept real up to date on all of the goings on with the earthquake business and all that jazz. We are really limited on the amount of media information that we receive. (Although I'm very impressed by the size of the meteor that flew over Wisconsin... ¡Impresionante!). All I know is that there are 3 elders in our mission (2 that live with me and 1 other) that leave for Concepción on the 4th of May. I've heard also that there are a few sectors that are recently receiving water potable and light, and that there are still a lot of missionaries living in the chapels. The first new missionaries in the Chile Concepción Mission arrived there on Tuesday by bus from Santiago. (They were in the CCM here and the MTC in Provo). There are a lot of service projects and stuff like that happening. The Church is keeping pretty good track of it on the website for Área Chile

The weather here is finally starting to change. Thursday it actually started raining and did so for about 2 hours (light rain no más). It is starting to feel a lot like Texas weather and can't decide what it wants to do... today it is just a little cool out.

On the topic of the earthquake again... I heard about this story or quick account last week from one of the elders in the zone. The following is about what happened in the Isla Juan Fernández where one of my current zone leaders was during the earthquake and tsunami. Here is the link:

So all in all not a whole lot of interesting things happening at this very moment in our sector. It is hard to start everything over from the beginning (de nuevo), but we are trying to keep moving forward. Currently we are teaching a family, la familia Stumpf, and are working with them to get them ready to accept a baptismal date... we've got a goal to have it in the next 2 weeks and the familia could easily meet the goal.

I've really had to learn a lot about myself recently. There are unfortunately a few things that I don't like about who I am, but I'm striving my hardest to change them. In our ward there is una hermana/returned missionary that says that I'm a lot like her (poco tolerante [a little intolerant]), but I'm starting to change... partly because I want to, partly because I need to... I can promise everyone at home that I'm not the person that I used to be, I'm starting to figure out who I am...

I love this work and the changes that it can make in people and in their lives... I wouldn't change a single experience I've had here or am having here for anything else in the world at this very moment. I'm grateful for the opportunity that I have to be a full time servant of the Lord and help other people to change their lives also.

I love you all and miss you all! (And Mom, if I gained weight, good [kinda]... and I think I've gained a little bit). Look forward to talking to y'all in a couple weeks... I'm not really counting.

¡Todo mi amor y carino!

-- Élder Todd

Monday, April 12, 2010

Las Fotos!

Todd y los compañeros!
Elder Hendrickson, Elder Davenport, and Elder Diaz on a Chilean hill.

Lo Ovalle 3 - Week #1

¡Hola Familia y Amigitos!

So, we had cambios yesterday and today and recieved a call at about 12:00 last night (when I was trying to sleep). As you can all probably see by the title of this e-mail (or blog post...later) I had a change. Fortunately I live in the same house as I did yesterday, but now our ward has 3 sectors and 6 missionaries... Wow!!! I'm with Élder Jensen from Sandy, Utah, who arrived in the mission 3 weeks ago and will be going to Concepción on the 4th of May. So, once again I'm training... but only finishing it up this time. In 3 weeks more I've got no idea where I'll be in the mission or who will be my companion. Fun times, fun times! It appears that I won't have a normal transfer in my mission... Also Élder Davenport is now one of the district leaders here in Quilicura and is still with Élder Diaz in Lo Ovalle 1.

Yesterday we had 2 more baptisms, Javiera (14) and Carmen (71) finally were baptized. Carmen is the mom of Patricio, that we baptized in Febrero, and have been working with her for a while trying to get her where she felt ready to make a commitment. Javiera is the daughter of a menos active sister that we found recently and who isn't in the ward roster. We are continuing to teach her family and are working on the conversion of her dad, who has changed a lot in the short time we've been teaching them. We are also preparing for a few more baptisms within the next couple of weeks, hopefully before Élder Jensen and Élder Diaz leave.

Dad: About the menos activo futuros élderes... You might try to adapt part of that message I sent you title Permaneced, I know it isn't written specifically for the members there, but it has a lot of very good and inspired points that could be used in the context you need. I've seen the miracles that can be wrought by the powerfulness and the sencillez of that message. If you haven't read it, I encourage you to do so. Also here is the link to the message por se acaso (the link to the message is on the left hand side under the title Permaneced). Also there were a lot of the General Conference messages focused on rescatar. Tambien si lo puede encontrar habia algunos, o todos, los discursos de la Conferencia de Estaca por Chile recien (por satelite) que tuvieron el enfoque en el rescatar. Cualquier cosa que hace, ¡buena suerte!

So work sounds good and fun for everybody. And Gabe sounds like he had a really tough weekend, he should really try to rest more! LOL. Also shout out to all of the family!!! If you are reading this I'd love to get a letter or an e-mail from you!!! (And even if you aren't family!) It is always good to hear how everyone is from their own mouths. Also, congratulations to Jodi and Nicole on the new additions to the family that should be coming along shortly!

I love you all and miss hearing from you! I feel like my e-mails get more and more boring every week. Eventhough every day in the mission is a different experience I feel like piling it all into one letter doesn't have the same effect. Wish I knew how to share more of my experiences with y'all! Pero igual, know that I love you all and miss you! Look forward to talking to y'all for Mother's Day in a little less than 1 month.

¡Todo mi amor y carino! ¡Les amo muchisismo!

-- Élder Todd

Monday, April 5, 2010

Lo Ovalle 1 - Week #16

¡Hola Familia y Feliz Pascua de la Resurrección!

What about Conference?!?!? Wow!!! I echo the sentiments of President May in his letter to us this week that this is one of the best conferences that I've had the opportunity to participate in. The messages were very direct to the problems that we have in the world today and the way the Adversary is working against us. As did Dad, I particularly enjoyed the talk given by Elder Ronald Rasband in the Priesthood Session of Conference in which he talked about the process of assigning missionaries to their field of labor. In the MTC we heard a few times about the process but never with such a profound testimony given. I'm now 100% more sure of the fact that I'm supposed to be here in the Chile Santiago North Mission... this is where the Lord wants me to be!

Conference for the missionaries is better than Christmas Morning! We get all of the gifts that we want and then some that we don't even expect. What a blessing it is to hear from the Lord's chosen servants here in the earth and the counsel that they have specifically for our times. We have been richly fed and have an abundance to share with others. In each session I was able to pick out something that our investigators needed (unfortunately not all of them where there to hear it) and that we can share with them now. I testify that the words of our leaders are inspired, and are designed to meet our individual needs.

It is great to hear that now Gabe has ganas (the urge -- for lack of a better translation) to serve a mission. Many of the talks in the Priesthood Session were pinpointed directly at the young men of the Church and the importance of preparing for a mission and the blessings of serving. The words were motivational and hit the needs of the Church on the head. We are in a time where every worthy young man should serve a mission, where every worthy young man should dedicate 2 years of his life to serve the Lord. It is hard to see from here in the mission field the unhappiness of those who have chosen not to serve and still have the opportunity. They have a hole in their lives, but they can't seem to figure out why... WE KNOW THE ANSWER!!! Nothing can replace the time that we have here in the mission field and the blessings that we and our families receive, along with the countless numbers of our Heavenly Father's children who have a chance to change! I know my Father lives and that this is where I need to be, nothing can change my mind. (And no, my conditions are not nearly as bad as the movie "The Other Side of Heaven". I basically live in the mini version of the United States.)

I'm glad all is well at home and that y'all were able to enjoy all of the sessions of General Conference as well. (I had the privilege to listen to 4 of the 5 in English... LOL). Good luck with all of the house problems that are still going on. Taking baby steps might work better than trying to take giant steps forward (I'm thinking the steps back might accidentally match). I encourage y'all to remember what you've learned in Conference and to apply it... It isn't worth anything if you only heard it, but if you were listening it will start to make a change.

In this special Easter season (even though I'm a little late) I want to leave my testimony of the Savior and His Atonement for each of us. I can't really express in words the scope of what he did for us or my feelings... but I can tell you as was said in the Conference. I know that He lives, He is no longer on the cross, but He has risen! Our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ lives and loves us! He suffered for our sins so that we might not suffer if we would repent... How great a blessing that is.

Our Heavenly Father sent His Only Begotten Son to suffer, to hurt, and die for us for an outcome of greater happiness in the end. How great is this message! How important it is to be a witness of Christ in all times, and in all things, and in all places... this is our duty to God! We should stand ready to testify of Him, and of "the divinity of His great and marvellous latter-day work". I'm grateful for the opportunity that I have to serve my Lord Jesus Christ among the people here in Santiago Chile. This is where I need to be!

Let us each go forth each day with our eyes open for opportunities to testify of Christ, by our words and most importantly by our examples. There is always somebody watching! I love you all and miss you. Hope all is well at home! Remember who you are and the importance of this great work.

¡Todo mi amor!

-- Su Hijito, Élder Todd