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