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