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