Monday, August 22, 2011

Dorsal 1 - Week #17 Last letter home

Hola for the last time from Chile!!!

I can't believe that I'm currently sitting in Quilicura and I've got lunch with one of my two Chilean families in 2 hours!!! AHHH!!! It feels like yesterday that I was here, and I'm absolutely excited to see Victor & Sandra again!

Just a quick run-down of how everything is going to work on Monday... (we're going to get the "trunky" part out first thing)... We'll be in the mission home from about 11:00 AM until 4:00 PM, with interviews, lunch, testimony meeting, and all that jazz. From there we'll probably go straight to the airport for check-in and to say our last goodbyes to the Essig's. Then I'm be "leaving on a jet plane" towards Miami. I'll have a little bit of time in the airport to call if you want, but I figured I'd let the suspense build up a little bit and wait til I see ya'll in Dallas (besides, I've got to pass through customs, change terminals, check-in my luggage again, and eat breakfast at McDonalds!!!). To make a long story short, I'll be seeing you on Tuesday but you won't get an e-mail from me on Monday (and you probably won't get a phone call either since I don't have anybody's cell phone number)!

Just to let everyone know... I am a little bit jealous about the Mac Book! But just a little bit, I think I'd have to get used to a Mac to be really jealous because I've worked with PC's all my life!

This week didn't have quite the results that we were expecting. Our expectations exceeded our excitement to fulfill them. In the beginning of the week everything started failing, as we were trying to work in both of the sectors, and we finally decided that we should only be focusing on our side. When we made that decision everything picked back up a little bit, but it was too late to recover completely!

The Calderón family are still doing great for their baptism this weekend. We are actually going to hold the baptismal service Saturday night (I cheated)! Sunday morning they should be confirmed. I feel like they are my second Chilean family, but I feel a little more distant with them than with the Cerda Araya family.

We can now almost count the days on one hand! I'm telling all of the members that say that I'm trunky that I'm not counting, but that I can count the days with my fingers! I'm seriously going to miss this ward!

So, Mom, I'm thinking about extending my mission!!!... Actually, the Area here gives very, very few extensions. The visa for Chile is really easy to get, especially for the Church, but we've already got a ton of missionaries, we don't need more. There are 7 more of us leaving on Monday (4 went last week), and 23 Elders arrive on Tuesday... The mission is growing again!

Time is running short, but I'm super excited to see ya'll in a few short days! The feeling are definitely bitter-sweet, especially today!

Love ya'll lots and I almost don't have to miss ya'll!


-- Élder Todd

Monday, August 15, 2011

Dorsal 1 - Week #17

It's the "Final Countdown"!!!

Time is flying by! We're going to start with the interesting news and then go into this last week's highlights... Last night at about 12:00 we got an unexpected phone call!... But this time it was Elder Garza instead of President... Turns out that our sector just doubled in size! With the exit of several missionaries from my group today there were several special changes that occurred, and one of them was that Dorsal 2 (the other sector in our ward) was closed. Now we have twice the area to cover in the same amount of time! My last couple of weeks ought to be really fun... I'm going to come home on a gurney because I won't be able to walk!

This morning we played soccer & basketball with several ward members and investigators. We had a good time and I actually didn't play basketball too horribly! Now we are headed to eat lunch (barbecue) with our converts and we have a family home evening tonight!

I can't believe several of the cousins have gotten married since I've been away, first Shelbey and now Jessi... What's goin' on? I've missed a lot of action on your side of the world in these last 2 years! Either way, good to hear that Jessi is now married and that the service turned out well... About the getting everybody together... I'm alright with the idea, since I haven't seen anybody from that side of the family in more that 2 years now! Let's make it happen!!!

In other news! Cristian, the other child of Ana (who was baptized recently), was baptized yesterday afternoon! The service was simple, but we had a ton of support from the ward. I was actually kind of surprised by how many people stayed to share that special moment with the newest member of the ward! Also, Friday I was able to attend the temple for the last time here in Chile (as a full-time missionary that is). Eight missionaries from our group and President & Sister Essig were able to attend! President told us "great job", as if we were already finished... LOL. Turns out that several of us from my group are having a lot of success in our sectors right now and it looks as if that might continue until we leave.

Something I've learned within the last couple of weeks is that after about 23 months in the mission field a missionary finally gets good at teaching and knows how to be a missionary... Then all too quickly the last month passes by! Missionary work isn't necessarily easy, so it takes a long while to get used to it and into the groove of things! Sooo... now that I'm in the groove my time is just about up! LOL...

We are working extremely hard here in our sector and hope to be able to keep up with the workload placed upon us by the closing of Dorsal 2... On the bright-side, we have more freedom to move around the ward now. We've got several baptisms planned for the 27th/28th of August, so hopefully everything turns out well there! Keep us in your prayers, we need them now more than ever (even more than last week)!

Love ya'll and I'll be seeing ya'll way too soon!

-- Élder Todd

P.S. You'll probably get a very quick note from me next week since I'll be visiting converts, but I'll do my best to get something substantially long off your way!

Dorsal 1 - Week #16

Buenas Tardes Familia Mia!

Hope all is well in casa this week! Nothing too exiting has been happening here in my half of the world. I'm currently listening to one of the many strikes that is going to be happening in the next couple of weeks between the workers and the public education system here in Chile... (I'm not going to miss the chaos)...

I'm officially enjoying my time here in Dorsal 1! This week we worked our tails off to teach with the members and got to Friday with only 1 lesson with a member present! AHHHH!!! But this weekend we saw really how hard we can work when we aren't sitting around feeling sorry for ourselves... We ended the week having taught 13 lessons with members (and not just the easy ones). In the last weeks I've really been reflecting on the wards that I've been in and their involvement with our work as missionaries. Overall I've seen that Chile lacks alot of participation with the investigators and new members; but of all my wards, I think I've enjoyed Dorsal the most and gotten the most help in this ward!

Missionary work really is differente when the members are involved. We are trying our hardest to get a larger portion of the ward members involved in what we are doing, but it is taking alot more effort than it should! I feel really bad now that I didn't leave very much with the missionaries when I was at home... hopefully it is something I can do more when I get back (my schedule allowing).

I'm excited to hear that the ward is ready for me to be home. It is tough though to not hear from anybody much during these 2 years away. If ya'll want to plan something for when I get home then go for it (but get the ward to help you out if you do anything... you shouldn't be doing it alone)... it makes no difference to me!!! But, if you could do me a huge favor and see when I've got to speak in the ward that would be great! LOL...

Time is flying! We are already in the middle of the change and I'll be heading to the temple this week for the last time in Santiago (apparently they will be doing maintenance from the 15th to the 29th of August). My next P-day has already been planned by several members & investigators here in Dorsal and people are signing up to give me the last lunch with their family! AHHH!!! Everything is working against my staying focused in the mission! It feels like time has passed by so fast... I remember being in Payson and in the MTC like it was yesterday!

Hope the "warm weather" isn't killing ya'll too quickly! We are starting to warm up a little bit here and today is a great day, weatherwise. We are going to be headed to Cerro San Cristobal for my last time to take some killer photos of Santiago! It's going to be a pretty fun day!

Has Lufkin changed much since I've been away, or am I still going to be able to get around fairly easily? I can't imagine at all the changes that happen in 2 years. I don't feel that different because I've been with myself the whole time. As for everyone and everything at home, my mind can't fathom that it has continued progressing... I know everything is different, but my mind put Texas on pause when I left and now I've missed 2 years of the production (the movie)!!! LOL... Crazy analogy, but that's how I can best explain what I feel!

I love ya'll and I'm starting to get anxious to see everyone! I need lots of prayers these next 3 weeks!!!

Miss ya'll and I'll be seeing ya'll very, very soon! ¡Todo mi amor!

-- Élder Todd

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Dorsal 1 - Week #15

Hey Fam!

This week we've done our best to avoid near-death experiences, and so far we are succeeding! Time is ticking quickly away here in Chile. I find it very hard to believe that we are already in week 3 of the change... my last change!!! However, there is still a lot of work to be done and we are going into overdrive here in Dorsal 1 to make sure we don't lose a single minute...

Our entire week here in Dorsal didn't turn out quite as we had planned. It still amazes me how one simple act can change the outcome of the entire week. Despite the number of people who had committed to come to church yesterday, only 3 showed up. On the upside, we had several excellent talks, heard the farewell testimony of a missionary headed to Mexico City, and had a confirmation. Even with these great events, we got a little disappointed and our entire day went down the drain!

Also, yesterday evening we had an activity for the recent converts and investigators in the ward. Hermano Miranda, the ward mission leader, taught about Lehi's dream and then we had cake. It was a pretty decent shin-dig and a good time was had by all. However, the turn out wasn't the greatest... oh well...

Dorsal 1 is looking more white everyday. This last week we have put 2 more investigators with baptismal dates and we are hoping that everything goes according to plan. Right now we have 6 baptisms in planning for August, with a couple more once I'm gone! Sometimes I wonder why we are having so much success here now and not before. The ward here is growing and we are striving to work more closely with the members, but I've got to tell you... IT'S TOUGH!!! Either way, we are looking forward to some changes here in the ward and a lot of success in the not too distant future.

I'm kinda worried that my world is going to be turned completely upside down here in about 4 weeks. It actually amazes me that I've become used to the lifestyle of the mission, to a certain degree at least. I'm going to miss the mission! There are lots of things about Santiago that I don't imagine I'm going to take the time to miss, but a lot of the people here have really affected me and I'm dearly going to miss some of them... a part of me will always be in Chile!

Thanks for the news about Carl's Jr... I remember eating there a couple of times, but mostly stopping in for a break after driving for a long time! Elder Garza was pretty excited to hear that they are putting one in Lufkin, apparently they have them in northern Mexico (Monterrey).

I'm excited to see ya'll this month! Yes, THIS MONTH!!! I can't believe we are already in August of 2011... boy how time flies (when you're having fun... or something)! Keep hanging on and don't get too trunky for me to be home!

Love ya'll and miss ya'll bunches!

¡Besitos y abrazos!

-- Élder Todd

Dorsal 1 - Week #14

Howdy All!

I think I'm getting to the point that it would be easier to put how many weeks I've got left as the subject of my weekly letter instead of trying to keep track of how many weeks I've got left in the sector! LOL. Such is life I guess...

So, this week turned out to be great! I don't think I've seen this much continual success in a sector in my mission, and I thought we were doing great in Quilicura. Yesterday was also one of the best sacrament meetings I've attended since I've been in Chile; we had 2 members who have never spoken in sacrament meeting who addressed the congregation and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The talks were simple, yet heartfelt, and they didn't pull out any stops to let us know what we need to do better. I loved it, and it looks like a few of our investigators felt the same way. Also, Ana María was confirmed a member of the Church yesterday and is now our newest recent convert (Francisca wasn't able to make it to church, but will be there next week).

I'm pretty excited about what we are achieving here in the ward. I'm starting to see really how everything comes together when you have good leadership who are willing to work (most of the time anyways). Honestly, I'd have to say that this is one of my best wards here in Chile! There are a ton of people here that I'm going to miss within a few short weeks, but I'll be moving on to different things...

Good to hear that things are going well at home! Enjoy your hot temperatures... LOL. I'm about frozen over down here, and today is going to be worse because it rained all night and now there are very few clouds in sight! It looks like we might be going to bowling again today, so we shouldn't have to suffer too much during the day.

I can't believe that the family was so spread out again yesterday! Seems like Gabe and Ryah need a little lesson about el Día de Reposo... LOL... just pulling your leg! Either way, it is good to hear that everyone was in church, no matter what part of the state (or what state...LOL) they were in!

Sounds like there isn't too much happening at home...

I almost died this week... LOL... It's a funny story actually! On Saturday we were teaching our English class and one of our investigators was talking with Elder Mendez and was showing him some sort of spray. So me, being nosy, went to see what was going on (I'm curious, what can I say...). The spray was some sort of spray for your throat and they told me to try it, so I did... Instantly I noticed something interestingly familiar about the flavor of the spray! LOL... I checked the label and it definitely had peppermint (in Spanish peppermint, spearmint, and any other mint is just labeled as "menta", so I have to be very careful). After about 5 minutes we had to leave the class with Elder Wilkes and Elder Garza and head to the house to find my Benadryl, that until Saturday I hadn't had to use in Chile! We made it with my throat and esophagus just slightly swollen and having just a few difficulties in breathing & swallowing (but mostly swallowing)! After about 30 minutes I was back to normal... Elder Mendez described the look on my face when I noticed the peppermint flavor as if I had just made a self-goal (autogol) in an important game! LOL... It was pretty comical after we were sure I wasn't going to die!!!

Well, I think that is about all of my excitement for this week! I guess we'll see what this week brings! Hope all is well at home and that everyone is doing great!

Love ya'll and miss ya'll! I'll see ya'll in 5 weeks (my agenda is counting... LOL)!


-- Élder Todd

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Dorsal 1 - Week #13

¡Buenas Tardes a Todos!

I'm feeling in a Spanishy sort of mood this afternoon... We had changes yesterday and received some unexpected news in the phone call at 1:30 this morning (Elder Sáenz had to call 3 times to wake me up). We had changes!!! I'm officially only a senior companion and I'm still here in Dorsal 1. My new companion is Elder Mendez, from Mexico, and I'm super excited to be here with him! ¡Vamos a sacar la mugre!

Yesterday we had 2 baptisms, as hoped for! Ana & Francisca were baptized after a 4 hour battle with the water heater in the chapel. From about 9:00 AM til about 1:00 PM, Hermano Miranda, the ward mission leader, and I waged war on the tankless water heater (nothing else exists in Chile) and kind of won. It turned out that the water at the top of the font was warmer than at the bottom... LOL. But overall everything turned out very well, and Elder Fuentes was able to perform/participate in his first baptism in the mission...

I'm excited to keep working here in Dorsal 1. We didn't quite expect changes, but the whole mission got mixed up pretty good... This ward is getting more on the ball everyday and we are hoping for lots of success this change. Actually, last week we were able to teach a part member family (the mom is a member) who has started to come back to church and we put the dad, Rodrigo, and 2 of the daughters, Constanza & Fernanda, with a baptismal date for the 14th of August. They are an amazing family!!!

It's wild to think that alot of my friends in the mission have finished as of today (they will be on a plane headed home tonight or tomorrow morning). I think I've got 4 former companions that finished today... Crazy!!!

I can't believe that time has passed by so fast! Ethan is already 3!!! That can't be possible!!! Hopefully all goes well with his next procedure.

Good to hear that Mom had a very happy birthday! Wish I could have been there to celebrate with ya'll... Looks like I'm only going to make it home in time for my birthday! Sorry Gabe! LOL...

Bummer that the ward changes so much... I think most places are like that though, or at least that is what it seems like here in the mission. I guess Lufkin didn't suit Ben quite like he expected. And the Reese's, any news yet?

Happy Pioneer Day to everyone! We might be doing a little activity on Sunday to "celebrate", but I'm not sure as of now... a little last minute, isn't it?

I love ya'll and miss ya'll everyday! I'll be home before you know it, but I'm not counting!


-- Élder Todd

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Dorsal 1 - Week #12

Howdy All!

Before I forget and since I won't be able to write later in the week I want to send a birthday shout-out to Mom!!! ¡Feliz Cumpleaños! I wish I could be there to celebrate with you, eventhough our family isn't very big into celebrations! LOL

This week wasn't too exciting apart from the interviews with President Essig on Tuesday. Everything went exactly according to plan, but I'm pretty sure that is the longest interview I've ever had with the mission president. President May was pretty good at keeping them short and sweet, but I'm still sure this interview didn't last more than 10 minutes... LOL. Sunday at church, however, had to have been the highlight of the week!

During this week we focused quite a bit on inviting and committing our investigators to come to church, and it looks like our efforts payed off. The attendance of our sacrament meeting was 131, more than I've ever seen in the ward (even for ward conference with 20 people from the stake present), and we had 11 investigators from our sector! The significance of that is that we only invited them, that their friends and/or family members (members of the Church) did all the work of getting them there, and that all of them live in the sector and can potentially be baptized in the not too distant future! Not too bad, right?!?!? We were super excited that we had to keep counting how many people were coming in to the chapel and watch attently amidst the mass of people for those who aren't members! It's going be a good couple of months for baptizing!!! The most important thing is that out of this experience I've learned something... working with the members really pays off, you've just got to know how to do it!

Great to hear that Aunt Katie's visit went off without a hitch, and that ya'll found something in Lufkin to keep everyone entertained! I wouldn't really have thought of the antique stores as something unique to East Texas, but when you think about it you don't see them much outside of the state... Wish I had been home to see the family!

This Sunday we will be having, not 1, but 2 baptisms! Ana María and her daughter, Francisca, will be baptized on Sunday! I completely forgot that the entire Hendrickson family was fasting when Mom was baptized, but now I've got another testimony of fasting... Hopefully this will only be the first of many baptisms in July & August! I've got to stay super busy so I don't get too trunky! LOL.

It sounds as if the lives of many will be taking a different direction in the coming weeks and months! Good to know that Gabe & Ryah are still working (even if it is at the same places as before)... We've got to see if we can't get Gabe out of a rut too and get him on a mission about the same time Dillon goes!

Just so you don't freak out about time restraints on getting my room ready, you've got 7 weeks! We're going to see exactly how many miracles we can work here in Dorsal in the next little while, there are lots of people here that are prepared to receive the Gospel, so I've got to take advantage of the workload! It feels great to be busy, busy!

Keep cool up there, I'm not having a problem with that here at all! I love ya'll and I'll be seein' ya'll real soon! Changes are Sunday & Monday, but it isn't likely that we are moved! That means I'll be in my last change!

Love ya'll and miss ya'll bunches!


-- Élder Todd

P.S. How are ya'll doing at sharing the Gospel?

Dorsal 1 - Week #11

"It's Independence Day!!!"

Happy 4th of July everybody, here in Chile to celebrate they raised the Chilean flag at La Moneda, not... they are actually celebrating the anniversary of the creation of the Chilean congress today. So much for Chile letting somebody else have a holiday for a change!

So all I can really say is bummer about the ban on fires and fireworks, it just had to happen for the 4th didn't it! Either way, you can't use fireworks in the city limits of Lufkin regardless... Either way, hope that you can see enough of the lightshow from the house, I wouldn't be surprised if Ryah takes it upon herself to climb on the roof to see the whole show!

The celebrations here in Santiago look like they really aren't going to exist. Bummer! Apart from that today is going to be a really poor day to do proselyting as Chile & Mexico play tonight as part of La Copa America (futbol). Elder Garza, the missionary from Monterrey in our same ward, is bound and determined that Mexico is going to win, but I sure hope not... It's very difficult to not stay informed of the score when the whole world goes wild every time someone makes a goal!

Before I get to commenting too much on your e-mails I'm going to start with how our week went. Up until yesterday we were having some success but a few of the focuses that we had put weren't completing very well. We've had a hard time recently helping people make goals for baptism, but thanks to fast Sunday that all changed... Yesterday I woke up not entirely happy and really wanting to eat, but I withstood the hunger pangs and pushed forward. At the beginning of church one of our investigators, Ana, mentioned to us that she wanted to speak with us, but due to the time constraints we weren't able to speak at that moment. The entire block of meetings passed the same way without the opportunity to converse. Right before we left Ana again mentioned that she wanted to talk to us and I stepped off to the side to talk to her. The conversation kind of surprised me as she had a fairly serious look on her face. The first thing she mentioned to me was this, "I want to be baptized, and I want you to baptize me!" WooHoo!!! We then set a baptismal goal for her and her 10 year-old daughter, Francisca, for the 17th of this month.

After this encounter I was speaking with Elder Fuentes and mentioned what had occurred. Without having realized it, both Elder Fuentes and I had be fasting for Ana & her family (among other people), that they might be able to take the steps necessary and be baptized to show their willingness to follow our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Let's put it this way... I've now got a testimony of fasting!

Also this week we had the opportunity to meet President & Sister Essig and their 18 year-old son, Tom, who will begin his mission in August bound for the Chile Osorno Mission. There were several very noticeable differences between the May's and the Essig's, but I was particularly impressed with the immediate outpouring of love shown not only by Hermana Essig, but Presidente Essig as well. The contrast is instantly obvious between the 2 mission presidents that I've had. I'm excited to get to know President Essig better; we have interviews in our zone tomorrow so I don't think I'll have to wait too long.

I'm excited to hear that the Hendrickson family is officially moved to the "Hen House". That's been a long time in the making, but I'm glad it is finally considered official! I can believe that the "house pets" (how dare I call them that...) didn't adapt too well in the beginning, but I'm sure the long staircase will be a source of lots of fun and/or accidents later...

Sounds like lots of things are changing in the lives of some friends. Jared is still at BYU-I and after a semester is still single... LOL. Quentin gets home very, very soon (I was thinking of that the other day) and will be headed out not to long after; I'm sure Sister Boyer isn't super fond of that idea. And when are the Reese's moving? It's summer, so that shouldn't be too far away... Am I right?

Stay safe with the burn bans and everything back home! Mom, I'm anxiously awaiting the drawings from your Primary class, hope they come soon!

I love you all and miss you bunches, but there is only 1 more fast Sunday before I get home!

¡Todo mi amor!

-- Élder Todd

Dorsal 1 - Week #10

Howdy All!!!

This has been a fairly uneventful week here in Dorsal. Training is going fairly well still, I realized that I'm not having quite as much fun as I did the first time, but we're making it through. There's nothing that can keep you on your toes more than a new missionary! LOL... It really does help that Elder Fuentes in Latino and I don't have to try to help him learn Spanish in the midst of everything else.

From the sounds of it my week was way more peaceful than yours! We've been busy teaching and hurrying from on side of our sector to the other, but it sounds like ya'll have been all over the state! Saturday & Sunday sounded way more fun than usual, I kinda wish I had been there for all of the excitement & especially for the Jubilee, but at least there will be a video of the presentation!

I just had the realization this week that I can now count the number of weeks I have in the mission without using all of my fingers... oops! The feelings that are coming at this point are mixed. I'm getting really tired of all of the jokes that the members make about me being trunky, because a trunky missionary doesn't work and we are taking out the trash (sacando la mugre)! I'm kinda ready to be home to be able to see everybody, but I'm glad I've still got some time left in the mission... LOL

What's up with Gabe & Ryah skipping out on church to go to Warped Tour? And travelling with a bunch of people their age to San Antonio to do so? That's wack!!! LOL... I don't know that I really missed out on much as I imagine there weren't too many bands at the concert that I like...

Good to hear that the move is still progressing, hope that everything can get finished up this week for Aunt Katie's visit... or at least within the next 9 weeks for somebody else's "visit"! Good luck finding something exciting in Lufkin to show the family, after all they did want to see where we live. How long are they going to be in Lufkin?

Tomorrow is the day we've all been anticipating for a while... President Essig arrives at 7:30 tomorrow morning and officially takes over a mission president of the great Chile Santiago North Mission! President & Hermana May will be with the Essig's for a couple of hours and as far as I know will be travelling tomorrow night. We have zone conference on Friday with the Essig's to meet them and for them to get to know the mission, and next week we have interviews.

I almost forgot to mention that on Wednesday we had the opportunity to have specialized training with the May's. It was more of a farewell than a specialized training and they ended up speaking a lot on what happens when the "mission" is over here. There were several points in the meeting that I teared up pretty good, but I don't think this is the last that I'll be seeing them!

Time is flying and pretty soon I'll be headed to Miami in route to Texas! Be sure to have lots of people waiting for me at the airport... LOL! Actually just ya'll is fine by me.

Love ya'll and miss ya'll! Try to get some rest after this exciting weekend...


-- Élder Todd

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Dorsal 1 - Week #9

Happy Father's Day!... and Juneteenth! (a little late)...

Howdy all! I can't believe that last week I forgot to mention happy father's day, I even had it written down, but my mind has been kind of a mess this last week. I've had a hard time remembering things this past week, and it caused us a little lost time and a couple people to be not too happy wit me... oh well!

Week 2 of training went off without much of a hitch, we had a training meeting (Fase 1) on Friday. When we entered the mission home Friday morning the fact that President & Hermana May are almost gone hit me pretty hard. Almost all of the family pictures and keepsakes were taken down and replaced with gospel art and there was a crew that was there working on repainting the whole place. It was, however, interesting to see how the oldest Church owned property here in Chile looks brand new on the inside... President & Hermana May leave on the 28th of this month with President & Hermana Essig arriving the same day, that means that these next 3 weeks are going to be very busy with training meetings, zone conferences, and interviews... Yuck!

I didn't know what Dad got for Father's Day, but I'm sure the GPS was really handy for the trip to So. Cal. Before I left the office I had the task of programming a GPS with all of the chapels in the mission for when the Essig's arrive... I can't say it was fun to program, but it was fun to test out; unfortunately the GPS in Chile are missing a few streets and don't normally take you in the easiest route to follow! But I'm glad to hear that the whole trip went down without much of a hitch!

It's exciting to hear that the house is well on its way to being completely moved! You've got a big task of having everything ready within 2 weeks for Aunt Katie's visit. Who is Destiny? Either way, I hope you can get some time off to spend with them and show them around the thriving metropolis of Lufkin! (If not I guess Ryah will have to do it). At least it will all be organized by the time I get home, except my room of course...

Sounds like Youth Conference is going to be a blast; you'll have to let me know how the performance goes! I wish we had done something like that while I was in the youth program, but at least Ryah is getting to participate. Best of luck to all who are participating!

I'm sure Mom is "patiently" counting the days until the end of August, but she's not the only one... There is a member in our ward who informed me on Saturday that I'll be home in 73 days, that means it is only 71 days from today! But who's counting?...

Hope that the firefighters can get the crazy wild fires under control before too much more damage is caused. The weather isn't conducive to helping things here in Chile or back home! We've had lots of rain over about 2/3 of the country and it has caused some pretty good damage along the coast!

I feel like I've taken a long time to write a little bit this week. We stayed pretty stable in the work and I've just been a little out of it, not sure why! I'm having a hard time focusing today too, but at least I'm in a Ciber (Internet place) that plays good music (right now "Sweet Child of Mine")!

Love ya'll and miss ya'll more everyday! Time is flying!


-- Élder Todd

Monday, June 13, 2011

Dorsal 1 - Week #8

Hey, hey, hey!!!

Week 1 of the 12 week training period has come to an end and I still haven't pulled all of my hair out... that's progression! Right?

This last week was a rather interesting one, to tell the truth! Monday I was on exchanges with Elder Wilkes working in both of our sectors, since we share a ward, so that turned out to be kinda frustrating juggling our time. Monday feels like it was a year ago though... Tuesday we had to be in the mission home at 1:30 PM to meet our trainees. In our meeting with the other trainers I realized that only one of them, besides me, has over a year in the mission! I felt/feel really old! At around 4:00 PM we left the mission home with our new companions. My companion is Elder Fuentes from Lima, Peru. He was baptized the same day that I was set apart as a missionary!!!

It is interesting being with a brand new companion, but this week was great! I've really come to notice the advantage that the Latino missionaries have compared to the North Americans, they get here and they can still speak the language... isn't it great!!!

Sounds like the trip to California for Dad, Gabe, & Ryah has turned out fairly interesting up until now! I can't believe Ryah is driving Grandma's car back alone; if I could have gone on the trip that would probably be me... I'm sure Ryah would beg to differ. It is kinda hard for me right now to fathom 1 week of almost pure travelling! And with car troubles and everything... Wow! It is excellent that they found them when they did and not when they were in the middle of the next 23 hours worth of pure desert! And they got to spend a little bit of extra time with Aunt Kristen too.

This week has brought a lot of action on the homefront, from the sound of it. Truck repairs, car repairs, moving, cleaning, packing... I can't really say that I've missed it all too much, but then again I don't think that there is one of those that I haven't done in the mission! (We can thank the mission office for that one).

We are currently teaching about 21 people here in our sector. A few of them aren't progressing very well, but the rest have some real potential! This week we put the daughter & "son-in-law" of Marisol with a baptismal date. They've still got the challenge that they have to get married first, so they won't be baptized until November, but they will be baptized!!! (I'll still have converts after I've been out of the mission for more than 2 months)... LOL. A lot of the people we are teaching are family members of active members, and for many recent converts as well, so we are seeing a lot of progression with them. It's kinda sad that it took me until now to really recognize how much more efficient missionary work is when you are working almost completely with the members.

Yesterday was Ward Conference here in Dorsal, that marked the first time in a year that the stake president has participated in the entire block of meetings in our ward. The theme of the conference was based on the scripture in John 13:14-15, "If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you." The focus was towards those who are not currently serving in callings and those that are serving and are not "magnifying" they're callings at this time, that means that the entire conference applied to about 90-95% of the ward. We've all got things that we can improve, the upside is that I've seen a lot of changes in the last 7 weeks here in this ward... we are definitely on headed uphill! Slowly, but surely! I love it here in Dorsal, but lots of time it looks like this ward gets the short end of the stick when it comes to anything concerning the stake! I'm excited to see the changes here in the coming 11 weeks (yes, I said it) and even after I'm back home. There is still lots of work for me to do in the little time I've got left!

Time is winding down here in Chile, but the mission is still here... better make the best of it! Hope everything is alright with Grandpa and that Dad & the crew get home safely today!

Love ya'll!

-- Élder Todd

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Dorsal 1 - Week #7

Howdy All!!!

Last night brought around one of the most dreaded nights in the mission for many missionaries... CHANGE NIGHT!!! Fortunately I didn't have to wait until 1:30 AM for either of my 2 phone calls that I received. We were in a "family home evening" type thing whenever President May called... yep, I've got a new assignment! I'm still in Dorsal 1, and almost definitely will be until I finish my mission, and tomorrow I will be receiving my last companion in the mission home. I'm training!!! Tomorrow we are receiving 8 new missionaries, 6 Latino Elderes & 2 Hermanas "Gringas". The Missionary Department recently implemented a worldwide training program for new missionaries that encourages the mission presidents to keep the new missionary with their trainee for 2 changes; that means that my new companion is going to be sending me home in 2 changes!

From what I can tell the mission didn't get to awefully mixed up this change. We did have a few surprises, but nothing too out of the ordinary. Elder Brunt is in Lo Ovalle 1, where I was before, so I'm very excited for him. He's going to do great!

Sounds like this coming week is going to be action packed! I can't believe how quick the trip to Cali is going to be, but it is exciting that Ryah is going to be driving a lot of the way there and back. And we'll be adding another car to the Hendrickson auto collection... And shortly after the trip you'll be working on moving the house, that is very exciting! If you move too much of the kitchen you won't be able to cook... Mom, you should try to enlist the help of somebody, or that is going to be a lot of back and forth for you. It's also exciting that Dad is going to get to see Randy, we haven't heard from him in a while... and Uncle Matthew might be coming to Texas! Too bad I won't be home...

Bad to hear that Grandpa Gene had a wreck, good to hear that he is mostly okay! My prayers are with them.

Gabe finally wrote me and told me that the face of the ward is changing again. He couldn't remember the name of the new family, but oh well! I can't believe that the McCabe's and the Drake's are gone. I don't imagine that the Reese family is too far behind them, are they?

Mom, I've got excellent news!!! You've only got to worry about the Monday e-mail for 11 more weeks! LOL!!! Elder Moore, who is now is San Pablo and currently is sitting next to me, said the same thing... It is wild to think we'll both be heading home so soon!

Sounds like Dad had a pretty hairy weekend in the ER! I miss the daily stories, but before too long I'll have some of my own.

Yesterday we had several investigators in church, and Mario & Marisol were confirmed. Mario was also ordained to the office of priest in the Aaronic Priesthood, and Mario & Marisol were called to be the secretaries in Young Men and the Primary, respectively. Also their grandson, Martin, was presented. Church was pretty good and I'm super excited to be working with several of the family members of Mario & Marisol, they'll be baptized before long.

I'm currently the acting ward membership clerk (secretario de barrio) for the Barrio Dorsal. Both of our clerks are inactive, so I'm helping out when I can with the records and trying to get the whole me that previously existed cleaned up... so far so good, because the mess "previously existed". We are working very hard on turning into this ward into a very well-oiled machine! And so far the relationship that I've got with the bishop has played a pretty key role... simply put, he love us!

I miss ya'll and love ya'll! The clock is ticking, but I'm going to tell my new companion that I've only been in the mission for a little over a year... LOL

¡Muchos abrazos y besitos!

-- Élder Todd

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Dorsal 1 - Week #6

Queridisima Familia!

Happy Memorial Day to everyone in the Good Ol' USA! We of course are not celebrating with a barbecue today, but we did have the opportunity to participate in a barbecue yesterday but it was celebrating a different occurrence.

This was a pretty fun filled weekend for us here in Dorsal. Saturday we were able to attend the wedding of 2 of our investigators, Mario & Marisol. The service was what I would classify as an "express wedding", but the ceremony itself seemed very impersonal. It looks like Chile has a tendency to turn events like this into legal encounters more than anything, I guess I'm still not used to that part of the country. However, the party following the ceremony here in Chile is a very big deal!

Sunday, yesterday, Mario & Marisol were also able to be baptized! YAY!!! They kinda freaked us out a little bit because they didn't show up to church... We gave them a call and they said they were definitely going to make it to the baptism and that the party hadn't ended until 4:00 AM, later he mentioned that they cut it off early because they were really tired. They did make it to the baptism on time. The bishop baptized Marisol and I had the opportunity to baptize Mario. All in all it was a wonderful experience... Mario was jumping up and down like a little kid from how excited he was. Mario and Marisol had both been waiting for this moment for a long time! The Church now has 2 excellent recent converts, they actually have interviews with the bishop on Wednesday to receive callings and for Mario to receive the Priesthood. I've also been cordially invited to the sealing in a year, and to travel down to Los Angeles (southern Chile) with them for the party they are going to have down there!

As a rebuttal to my comments about the "end of the world"... Almost all of the Evangelicals here in Chile were freaking out about the "end of the world", hence my comments...

Congratulations to all of the high school graduates out there, especially Ryah and Dillon!!! It's good to hear that Ryah did well on her speech, try to send me a copy if you can! I guess not everything about graduation week can be fun though, but totaling the car didn't have to be how it became interesting.

So Ryah is officially a nursery worker! That wouldn't exactly be my first choice, but maybe the bishopric of the Lufkin 1st Ward is trying to make sure that these young women don't decide they want to become mothers to fast... I guess it would work... right? (Se supone que es revelación... ¿ó no?).

Good to hear that everyone had a semi-decent week at least! By the lack of information about Gabe I'm guessing that he is still just hanging in there...

This week is changes, and the time feels like it is ticking by faster everyday. I can't believe that I've only got 2 more chances, including this next weekend, to be transfered!!! Time is flying!!!

Love ya'll and miss ya'll more everyday! I'll see you all very soon... I'm excited about that part, but there are parts of returning home that I'm not super excited about...


-- Élder Todd

Monday, May 23, 2011

Dorsal 1 - Week #5

Howdy Family!

This last week has been full of ups and downs! We had a tough time in several aspects of the obra but the week ended on a very high note.

Yesterday was a very, very tiring day... We started the day in the church at 8:30 AM with PEC and went through until church was over at 1:30 PM, then we went back from 5:00-7:00 PM for Ward Council. AHHH!!! Everything went way more smoothly than I expected with the meetings, Obispo Catricura has a pretty good grasp of what he is supposed to do and is really working on acting on that. We didn't have to worry about correcting too much apostasy (like in other wards) so that was a nice break. We have however been working extensively with MLS as far as the correction of membership records goes, so that has kept me pretty busy when I've got access to the secretaria (clerk's office). It is good to have the confidence of the bishop enough that he trusts us to do that.

I'm absolutely loving this ward! That isn't to say that it isn't tough sometimes, because it is, but we are trying to work hard at least. I've come to realize exactly how different I am from Elder Brunt, and sometimes that stresses our relationship a little bit... We've got very different points of view on a lot of aspects of missionary work. I've been having a really hard time this week with that. I'm trying to work diligently and be the example that I need to be, but it's very difficult. The change from the office to a normal sector has been very difficult for me, I love the new atmosphere, but I would almost describe my assignment now as having more responsibility. Before in the office I had the responsibility over a few things, but the only person I was really responsible for keeping focused and on track was me. Now I've got 6 of us! And better yet, almost all of the other 5 have less than a year in the mission (Elder Sáenz has 14 months in the mission). It's tough!

Sometimes I feel like I can't confide in those missionaries with whom I'm serving. I know that sounds bad, but that isn't the way I mean it... Before the mission I had a hard time opening up to people, but now I feel like a lot of that fear is gone. However, sometimes people make it hard for one to open up to them! This week I feel like I've been purely criticized by my companion. He keeps talking about how things were so different with his last companion and how he was such a great missionary, but I feel like it is directed at me... I've improved a lot on my patience and my tolerance in these last couple of weeks, it has been hard, but I can tell there is a drastic difference from who I was before. I don't wish I could be the missionary Elder Brunt wants me to be, I'm fine with what I'm doing to improve and I know it is only important to be the kind of missionary the Lord wants me to be. I don't know how I can help him to see that though!

On a much brighter note... Mario and Marisol, the couple formerly known as eternal investigators, are having their wedding on Saturday and will be baptized Sunday afternoon! I don't know that I've been vital in their conversion, but I'd like to think that maybe I helped in something. This is just one of those instances of being in the right place at the right time, and I've received that blessing. Now the responsability that comes with that is that there are 6 other people between their family and the family of their daughter's mother-in-law that need to be baptized! LOL. We are working on that already, as 9 of the 10 between the two families were at church yesterday, and will be for the next 2 weeks as well (at least).

About the other e-mail that I sent... If you want to put it on the blog you are more than welcome to. I was very much inspired by the words of President King about this missionary and the new mission to which he has been called. I can't imagine the pain that his family must be going through right now, but at least they have the peace that comes from the Plan of Salvation and that he was doing what he was supposed to be doing. The letter from President King brought a scripture to mind: "And whoso layeth down his life in my cause, for my name’s sake, shall find it again, even life eternal." (D&C 98:13).

Congratulations to Ryah for the graduation this week! I got the announcement on Tuesday, I couldn't help but show it off (and recognize the Vans)! This ought to be a fun-filled week. What is CHS planning for Project Celebration this year? And what is Ryah's calling, since she didn't write me?... again!

I'm liking very much the goal of being in the house before Dad heads out to California! That does, however, mean that there is a lot of work within the next couple of weeks... and I bet Gabe and Ryah are super willing to help!!! Right?!?!?

Good news, the world didn't end on May 21st! Bad news, the world didn't end on May 21st! We got to searching for the scripture that everyone said corresponded with the prophesy of the loon that said we were all headed toward doomsday, and it has to do with Jonah! Apparently this guy is the same guy that predicted Christ was going to return for the Second Coming in 1994, missed that one too. It was pretty funny though because the whole spill was believed by all of the Evangelical Christians, in the USA there are a few, but about 1 in every 2 people here in Chile is in some way, shape, or form Evangelical. There is no Methodist, Pentecostal, Assembly of God, or Baptist church that doesn't have Evangelical somewhere in its name! I found the whole idea very comical. Keep holding on for the wild ride between now and when the world "really" ends!!!

I love ya'll and miss ya'll! Keep your prayers with the family of the late Elder Jennings!


-- Élder Todd

On a sad note.....

This is a message that President and Sister King in the Chile Santiago West Mission sent out yesterday to all of the missionaries in their mission and President May was kind enough to forward on to us. It really puts things into perspective a little bit.

Love ya'll,

-- Élder Todd

Our dear missionaries,

It is with a heavy hearts, we inform you that on Saturday morning, May 21, 2011, Elder Benjamin Taylor Jennings passed away from this life. Elder Jennings was companions with Elder Ciccio in Las Industrias in the San Miguel zone. They were out jogging for their exercise early that morning, and upon their return, just before they arrived at their pension, Elder Jennings collapsed and all efforts to revive him failed. He passed away quickly and peacefully.

Elder Jennings was a wonderful missionary, full of love for the people of Chile, and happy to be serving his Father in Heaven on a mission. The Bishop from Las Industrias commented that he was always happy, and that his face always shone bright with light. Other missionaries have spoken of how he always took joy in serving others, especially other missionaries. We have only every heard positive comments and feedback about Elder Jennings.

We will miss him dearly. He is one of our beloved missionaries. We all feel saddened by this painful news. His family is suffering the most. He comes from a beautiful LDS family – mother father, two younger sisters and a younger brother. He was the oldest. Please pray for his family. They need our support through our prayers.

But let us rejoice in the Plan of Salvation of our God. Elder Jennings was called home because he was ready and needed to serve on the other side of the veil in the spirit world. He has entered into the rest of our Lord, and is in a far better place.

D&C 138: 57 I beheld that the faithful elders of this dispensation, when they depart from mortal life, continue their labors in the preaching of the gospel of repentance and redemption, through the sacrifice of the Only Begotten Son of God, among those who are in darkness and under the bondage of sin in the great world of the spirits of the dead.

The Lord knows our time and if we are faithful, we will not be taken until we have completed our mission on this earth. Each has his duty to perform. For Elder Jennings, his death was sweet.
D&C 42: 45 Thou shalt live together in love, insomuch that thou shalt weep for the loss of them that die, and more especially for those that have not hope of a glorious resurrection.
46 And it shall come to pass that those that die in me shall not taste of death, for it shall be sweet unto them;
48 And again, it shall come to pass that he that hath faith in me to be healed, and is not appointed unto death, shall be healed.
Elder Jennings certainly has a hope of a glorious resurrection, but having completed his mission here in mortality, he was appointed unto death. Oh that we can all pass from this life while serving faithfully in the work of the Lord, that we all might have that hope of a glorious resurrection and redemption through the infinite atonement of our Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ.

But our mission is not over, we have been called to save the souls of men here in Chile. “Shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory! Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad.” Elders and Sisters, we have the “good news” – the gospel of Jesus Christ. We have the truth with will set men free from sin and suffering. We have the baptism that will open the gate to receive the blessings of the Holy Ghost in their lives and carry them unto life eternal. Elder Jennings has gone on before us. We hope that we all want to be where he is. He would have us continue faithful and diligent in this great saving work of our Lord Jesus Christ. Hagámoslo!
With all of our love and prayers, may the Lord comfort you in this loss,

President and Sister King

Monday, May 16, 2011

Dorsal 1 - Week #4

Howdy All!

Not much exciting going on in Chile this week. Yes, the weather here is starting to get rather chilly, but that's the way the cookie crumbles in the southern hemisphere...

This week, more than anything, I had the opportunity to work with my district a little bit. Friday afternoon and Saturday morning we were in exchanges with la Estrella Sur. I had the opportunity to be working with Elder Sáenz from La Plata, Argentina, while Elder Brunt was with Elder De la Cruz in our sector. All in all the exchanges went pretty well. They are having a few difficulties in their sector in that is has proved difficult recently to help their investigators progress, but they are working on fixing that problem and could very possibly be baptizing this month as well.

Elder Sáenz is currently training Elder De la Cruz so I could see in him a little bit of relief to be separated for the day. Friday night be had the opportunity to teach one of their investigators, Octaviano. I don't think I've every met someone who talks so much in my life, and he's only in his 40's! I feel sorry for his future grandchildren!!!

We finished the exchanges Saturday morning and returned to Dorsal for our English class only to leave after lunch for Los Mares. In Los Mares I was able to have an interview with Diego, one of their investigators, for his baptism that happened yesterday. I don't think I've ever met an 11 year-old who has got such a comprehension of the Gospel. Diego is the only member in his family and we spoke a lot about the example he has to be for the rest of his family. When we got around to the baptismal questions to see if he is prepared to make a baptismal covenant he knew the questions & the answers better than I did! Yesterday he was baptized, his mom attended the baptismal service, and from what the hermanas said it was a very spiritual experience.

I'm beginning to notice that the school year in the US is starting to wind down a little bit. I can't believe Ryah & Dillon are graduating! It feels like I've been out of school for sooo long and that I've been away from home for a very long time too! I can't really imagine getting back into the swing of things again, it's going to be very strange...

I heard that the Lufkin Ward is about to have another move in. It looks like Ben Glade is going to be moving down from Nac. to be closer to work, so that will be cool!

Mom, it is up to you to keep Sister Reese pushing that Dillon go on a mission, but try to convince her that a foreign mission isn't so bad. I've heard some pretty wishy-washy stories about the missions in the states too. Just mention that that the missionaries in Lufkin used to try to teach and tract pretty regular on "the Front"! LOL.

Keep your chins up with work and school and all! It will eventually all finish, for some sooner than others... Love ya'll bunches and miss ya'll too! Just look on the bright side, only 3 more fast Sundays!


-- Élder Todd

Dorsal 1 - Week #3

Howdy All!

Yesterday was great! I'm so thankful for the opportunity that we had to use Skype to communicate with the family, it's amazing how that little bit of technology works so well! I echo what Dad said in that eventhough we were thousands of miles away that it felt like we were so close. I'm very much convinced that I'll be using Skype quite a bit after the mission to be able to stay in contact with some of the people from the mission, in Chile and in the USA.

Once again, for everyone who didn't talk to me, Happy Mother's Day!!! Hope that all of the mother's out there had a wonderful day!

It is wild to think that yesterday marked my last call home in the mission! AHHH!!! And since I probably won't be having a layover either when I get to the US, I'll be seeing you before I talk to you again! I can't believe that time is flying by so fast... I'll be home before we know it!

Yesterday we had the opportunity to participate in the baptism of Mattías Astorga. It was an amazing experience! Elder Brunt & Elder Foster had been teaching Mattías and his brother Lucas before I arrived, so I just kinda helped seal the deal. I don't know that I've ever seen a 15 year-old so excited about the Gospel, we are expecting great things from Mattías in this ward, and a missionary in 4 years!!! Woot!!! The actual baptism was a little bit commical, Mattías is a very big guy, and poor little Tonny was who baptized him. Needless to say, it was a little bit of a struggle, and it didn't help matters any that the water heater in the church has problems... the water wasn't super cold, but it wasn't as warm as it should have been and the tankless heater (like in all of Chile) randomly decided to shut off every once in a while and stop filling the font! So Mattías was baptized by someone half his size in water that only came up to his knees! The ordinance had to be performed twice, Mattías had to kneel, and Tonny had to shove him under the water at the same time Mattías stretched out his legs. It was great!!! I'm attaching a couple of pictures from before the baptism for ya'll to enjoy! (You can thank the Chilean with the camera for the black line across Elder Brunt!)

I forgot yesterday to tell you a funny story that happened to us this week! On Thursday, Jhonny, a young man preparing for the mission (just waiting for his call) accompanied us for a little while. As our luck worked out, every appointment that we had failed and we were trying to find out what we should do. After a little bit we decided to pass by the home of Claudia, a less active member/recent convert who has been trying to come back to church. We got to the house and hollered at the gate (that's how we roll in Chile) and nobody answered... After repeating this several times her 7-8 year-old son came running out of the house and towards to back to play. Francisco, her son, is "mentally challenged" and is quite a character (from what Elder Brunt has told me he apparently plays with a laser pointer in the same way a cat does...) Elder Brunt hollered at him a couple of times yelling "niño" and he didn't respond, after a couple tries he began hollering "loquito" which means crazy man! Francisco responded immediately and ran towards the gate, took off the chain, threw it open, and took off down the road! The three of us stood there for a second and looked at each other wondering what we were going to do, then Elder Brunt started freaking out. Turns out that Claudia wasn't home! Luckily after a couple of seconds, one of the neighbors that was walking by mentioned to us that the store that he had run into knew who he was and that he'd be alright there. Moral of the story... don't holler "loquito" at a crazy little kid, otherwise he might escape from his cage! LOL!

It's little experiences like that that I missed about the mission. When I was in the office we just saw all of the stupid things that missionaries did, and nothing of what happened to them! I love it!!! I'm constantly amazed by the contact that I have with the people here, sometimes it frustrates me so much, but other times I'm purely amused! I'm going to miss Chile!!!

I guess I'll be seeing you again in less than 4 months! I'm not quite to the point of keep track of every day yet, but it is very easy to figure out exactly how much time I've got left!

Love ya'll and miss ya'll bunches! See you again soon!

¡Todo mi amor! ¡Muchos besitos!

-- Élder Todd

Monday, May 2, 2011

Dorsal 1 - Week #2

¡Queridisimo Familia!

This has been the best week that I've had in a long time! It is amazing to arrive to a sector and within a week see the changes that it an make in one's outlook. This has got to be one of my best wards by far and I'm really looking forward to getting to know more of the members here. I've also got an excellent companion, a little Utah-ish, but not too bad!

First things first! I hope you got my other e-mail about the Mother's Day phone calls, an Skype. It would be great to get to see ya'll too, just put Gabe to work on it on your end and I'll see what we can figure out today on mine. It isn't something set in stone since it has been fairly difficult trying to figure out where we can talk to our families anyways, but we're going to see if we can't make this thing happen too. And besides, there are lots of adavantages to Skype anyways, for example video chat, FREE, via the Internet, etc. Hopefully we can make it happen, the only thing that you have to be sure of is that you are connected at 4:00 (Santiago time) on Sunday and that you've got a webcam and microphone (good investments anyways, since I'll buy them from you when I get back to talk to people in Chile via Skype as well).

I've got to admit that Dorsa 1 is very different than being in the office. I'm very much enjoying the availability that we have to work, but the walking is wearing me out a little bit. We are averaging about 8 miles (or more) a day, Elder Brunt has a pedometer, and our sector is small! LOL. I've already gotten to know a lot of amazing people here! We had a confirmation yesterday of an investigator who was baptized in December, her mom thinks that I look like Mark Anthony! Also on Saturday we had a great lesson with two investigators, Matías (16) & Lucas (13), and they committed to baptism. Matías decided that he wanted to be baptized this coming Sunday, so we're super excited about that, but we are going to be trying to figure out the schedule for that and the phone calls too! Our problem that we are baptizing! And Matías is only going to be the first of at least 3 this month!!! We've got a couple that we are teaching, Mario & Marisol, who are getting married on the 28th and are going to be baptized on the 29th. Mario has been investigating the Church for about 2 years & Marisol for 15! It is going to be great to be a part of their conversion.

We've also got several recent converts in our sector who are on fire!!! Christian Ballesteros is in his 40's or so, single, and has only been a member for about 8 months. Recently he received the Melchizedek Priesthood and is very soon going to recieve a calling. And he is only one of many! We've also got a non-compliant heart patient as a recent convert, I love him, but sometimes I just want to slap him around... He's convinced that he's going to die soon, and he's probably right (but it hurts for me to realize that).

The average attendance in our ward is about 120 members, but we could easily have 150 or more. Yesterday we had a chance, as the 4 missionaries in the ward, to speak with the bishop and plan a little bit of how we can help the ward to grow. In the next 5 weeks we hope to see some big changes and hopefully a lot of success comes along with those. It is tough to see a young bishop so worried about the ward and trying to pull all of the weight almost entirely solo. The organizations in this ward don't function really well, but a major restructuring will be happening very soon, and yesterday we had a sneak peek! We are all very excited!

The work is continuing very well! I'm loving to opportunity to be a missionary, and for the first time in about 12 months I'm really, really excited to be working where I am! I love this work and the blessings that it brings in my life!

Love ya'll and miss ya'll, but at least I get to talk to you this next weekend! It's hard to believe that this is going to be another last, the last phone call home during my mission!

¡Todo mi amor y cariño!

-- Élder Todd

Monday, April 25, 2011

Dorsal 1 - Week #1

Howdy from a different frontier!

As I mentioned on Saturday, I definitely had changes!!! I'm now in Dorsal 1 in the zone San Pablo. My new companion, Elder Brunt, is from Highland, Utah (Salt Lake basically) and has been in the mission for about 8 months (or so). I'm excited to be working alongside him in this ward. From what Elder Gibson & Elder Skidmore have told me, there is a lot of success in this sector. Both of them started their missions in this same sector, so they were very excited for me. I will also be serving as district leader to not only 1 sector but 2! La Estrella Sur & Los Mares (hermanas) will be in my district, that means I've got to teach EDPEs in district meeting now... yuck! It will be fun though and I'm really looking forward to this change.

Easter felt like I was back in the Lufkin Ward (of several years ago)... Not one of our 3 speakers in church made reference to Easter, one spoke of the Atonement & repentance so I guess that was close, but it doesn't count. I don't even think that anybody in our ward even remembered it was Easter Sunday. This year there was absolutely nobody really talking about Easter, or Semana Santa (Holy Week), or anything of the sort, it kinda bummed me out. Elder Skidmore tried his hardest to introduce the American tradition of dying Easter eggs, but we failed miserably. He ended up dying them in the house yesterday afternoon, alone, we helped with a few in between packing our bags and everything.

The office is officially in chaos! They started moving the furniture this morning, so it looks like a cyclone hit the 3rd floor of our office building. The assistants to the president told me when we met up for changes that they thought the office might fall apart without me there... LOL. I've been a pretty stable figure there for almost the last year! And now we've got a new crew there (6 weeks all except Elder Gibson), and Elder Gibson is training and will be leaving in about 2-3 weeks for another sector. They'll be lost!

I finally got some pics of Ryah at Prom, she made it sound like she didn't have a very enjoyable time. And what is this I hear about her going to SFA? Did she get into BYU and just opt for something closer to home or what? Either way, it is good that the state still has the tuition program, most other places have way better deals than that! From what I've learned, Texas is pretty stingy with scholarship/grant money for academics!

Dad, I have been thinking quite a bit more about what type of physician I'd like to be. I'm seriously leaning toward Emergency Medicine, but without the sub-specialty in pediatrics. I think I might be limiting myself too much with the pedi but I still think I'd enjoy the fast pace and craziness of E-Med! You told me that you've got to be a little bit touched to enjoy the ED, and I think I'll admit that it seems to run in the family... that means I got some of it too! LOL

I'm super excited to be out working in proselyting again. We've got 4 people with baptismal dates already in the sector and have several other prospects, so we should be seeing some baptisms pretty soon! I'm excited for that since I haven't had any since December, and we are ending April of 2011.

The clock is ticking down until Mother's Day when I get to talk to you! President still hasn't said anything about Skype, but I've got a copy of the official letter from Salt Lake saying it is approved. I guess we'll see if he announces it to us or not, it would be nice because it is free and has video capability! Either way, I'm fine with at least talking to ya'll!

It is possible that I am entering my last area before I head home. I'm still in Santiago, so my luck hasn't taken me to the country yet, but I love it here in the city. You've got no idea how much I'd love to end my mission here, which makes it all the more possible that I don't receive that wish... we know how my mission has worked until now! (I'm pretty much a rag-doll!) LOL. The sector here is pretty small and we share the ward with 2 other missionaries, Elder Wilkes & Elder Hendricks (ought to be interesting for the members). I've heard nothing but good things about this sector and this stake, so we'll see how they hold up!

I love ya'll and miss ya'll bunches! I can't wait to talk to you! And don't forget my P-day is on Mondays!!! LOL

¡Todo mi amor! ¡Abrazos!

-- Élder Todd

P.S. Hope you enjoyed the pictures!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Circunvalacion 1 - "The Final Countdown"

Hey All!

It's Saturday, and that means one thing, that I'm not having changes until Monday!!! YAY!!! That means that you've got to write me again tomorrow so that I'm not completely sad when I get on to do Internet during my new P-day. I'll be struggling for things to tell you, but I've been through that before (how many missionaries can say that?)... LOL

This week has been rather interesting here in El Cortijo, but it has accomplished one of its purposes better than anything else... I'm completely and totally ready to be out of this office!!! I don't want to be here any more!!! Not even kidding. Monday is definitely going to bring a drastic change in scenery, but it will be a good thing. We've been working on moving several of our apartments this week, as the whole office, along with the assistants and the Taylor's, will be moving, so that has taken up a major amount of time & effort this week. Also we are almost completely done packing the office, which will be moved in the first part of the week. I'm excited I won't be here for that since the move will be happening right alongside changes!!! Yipee!

It's hard for me to recognize that I've been in the office, working as an office missionary, for longer than I've been in a normal sector. I've come to realize that a normal missionary schedule hasn't really been something feasible for me for most of my mission. The transition back to a normal sector is going to be a little tough, but I think I'm ready for it. I hate the feeling of being stuck in limbo though, with transfers, but at least this time I'm sure I'm going... just not sure where I'm going. LOL...

From what ya'll told me, it sounds like the house is coming along quite nicely! I'm excited for ya'll to be moved in, and especially excited I don't have to be a part of the actual move. The finishing touches seem to be coming along, which means it shouldn't be too awfully long before the change is made.

Texas weather sounds like it is giving everybody a fit right now. We are having cooler temperatures here, and they expect that next week the temperatures shouldn't get above about 3-4 °C (close to 40 °F). The wildfires sound pretty menacing, hopefully East Texas can stay stable enough to not get mixed up in any big problems like that. Anyways, forest fires would be a little different than the fires I'm sure they are having out west. I do find Governor Perry's declaration amazing. That is pretty cool that he'd publicly announce these couple of days as days to "pray for rain", I'm sure he is getting a little bit of backlash from that though!

Mom, I did get my Easter package, and I think everything inside is already gone... (it didn't make it to Easter)! For Easter we'll be working all day in the office and on packing up the rest of the things in the houses, so apart from Church we don't have anything too exciting. This will be the last Sunday that the office will be in this ward, and that is something amazing since we've been here for 6-8 years! I think we are going to try to dye Easter eggs with a couple of recent converts tonight, but I'm not positive.

It is important that we especially remember why the world is celebrating Easter this weekend. As members of the Church we remember the Atonement of Jesus Christ all year round, but this weekend the entire Christian world celebrates his resurrection. I want to encourage you to watch the Mormon Message on Easter that was given last year by Elder Holland, the way they put it together really helps to imagine it all and really gets the wheels turning!

I love ya'll and miss ya'll! As soon as I get details on the Mother's Day phone call I'll let you know. Don't forget to write me on Monday!


-- Élder Todd

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Circunvalacion 1 - Week #15 (and winding down)

Howdy All!

I can once again officially say that I am near the end of my term here in the office of the great Chile Santiago North Mission. This coming week is the last week of the change and will definitely mean a change of scenery (at least from the office) for myself and Elder Young. I've got to admit that I'm pretty excited to be out working in proselyting full-time again, but there are going to be certain advantages of the office that I'm again going to miss. This time I'm completely confident that my replacement is in complete control and ready to go! Elder Skidmore has completely caught on in the 5 weeks that I've been "training" him, and now he is already flying solo! I'm so proud!!! *TEAR*

This week has been rather frustrating for me on the administrative end of the mission. Monday we had to send a missionary home early, he was going to be ending a week from this coming Monday, but for circumstances of the which I don't know the details, he wasn't able to finish his mission. Apart from that dim bit of news, we have been working on getting everything ready for the move... As I think I've mentioned before, everything in Chile is a major production! So in this week we've been trying to coordinate between our office, President May, the construction department who is overseeing the remodel of the new office, and O&M who will be turning it over to us, as far as how and when the move is going to happen. The turn over was supposed to have happened yesterday, and before that on the 15th, and before that on the Monday after Conference, and before that on April 1st, and now... we might receive the building on Thursday OR Friday!!! AHHHHHHH!!! Next weekend, my last weekend in the office, might be spent moving an entire office and 3 apartments... Oh what fun!!! Such is life...

Monday morning brings about a special time for all the missionaries, it is the last day of interviews with the mission president. We, the office, have interviews Monday morning so that ought to be something to look forward to. This will be my next to last interview with President May before he ends his mission and President Essig shows up. It will probably be a little odd going home only 2 months after the new mission president arrives and barely having an opportunity to get to know him. By the way, I don't know if you've seen it yet but the Church News article featuring President & Sister Essig came out recently. Here is the link if you haven't seen it yet, so that you can see who will be taking care of me when I'm most trunky... LOL
There isn't a whole lot of excitement happening here in the North Mission right now. For some reason our normal work load in the office has decreased by alot and lots of times I find myself struggling to find things to do. (But don't tell President that...) LOL!

I'm happy to hear that Ryah went to Prom and had fun. Did she go with a date, or just with a group? And I still haven't gotten pictures... what's up with that?! I'll be impatiently waiting for those... *Tapping of the foot begins*. But how did she manage to stay out so late on a Saturday night? I'm almost positive she slept through church the next morning... LOL. Speaking of waiting impatiently... I'm still waiting for pictures of the house! *Foot tapping continues*. I keep hearing about all of these advances, but I'm not seeing the progress. Or would it be better to keep it a surprise until I get home and you're already living in it? And when is the projected move in date anyways? I'm genuinely hoping that it is before I get home because I've moved enough houses in the last 10 months to last me a lifetime (as a matter of fact I've moved 2 in the last 2 days).

Congratulations to Miss Ryah for "officially" being the Valedictorian of the Central High School Class of whatever this year is (2011?)... LOL! I better be receiving a video and a written copy of the second most famous valedictorian speech ever given in Central High School history. Of course, we already know who gave the first (but I'm humble)... LOL. Just a tip, get Weathers to take a look at it and proof it for you, that saved me a couple of errors! Oh, and when should I be expecting that the graduation announcement arrive?

Missionary work continues here on the southern half of the world. We as a mission are baptizing consistently, but a lot of the zones are suffering pretty hard right now, but the work goes on. We are kind of in limbo as to whether or not the office will be moving or not this next week, so everything in our sector is in utter chaos! This week will be spent on buckling down on the move and getting everything packed, luckily we still have a little bit of extra man power for now so that ought to make the work a little more bearable.

I love you all and miss you bunches! I'll be talkin' to ya in just over 3 weeks!!! Yay! Just a rumor that I've heard, I'll know more within the next couple of weeks, is that we'll be able to use Skype to communicate with you this time. Right before Christmas the General Offices of the Church in Salt Lake sent an e-mail notifying that is was allowed, and encouraged, to use Skype with video capability to speak with the family for Christmas, but the notice wasn't sent to the whole mission (only the office and a few of the chums of Elder Driscoll, who he thought ought to know). So now we are waiting on the go-ahead from President May, but you might prepare for that anyways.

Hope all is well at home and I'll be waiting for those pictures (patiently). *Tap, tap, tap...*

¡Todo mi amor y muchos abrazos!

-- Élder Todd

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Circunvalacion 1 - Week #14

Howdy All!

This week in the wonderful world of Elder Hendrickson was... General Conference!!! I just had my last General Conference as a full-time missionary (for a long while), so if I wasn't already on the downhill slide I definitely am now.

As I've mentioned before, General Conference is like Christmas, but better, for us missionaries... and this Conference definitely didn't disappoint! There were some really awesome talks given over the course of the 2 days. I was again impressed with the talks by Elder Andersen & President Uchtdorf; I get excited every time it is announced that they are going to speak.

I hope that each of you was able to take as much away from Conference as I did. Now comes the hard part... APPLY IT! I absolutely loved the talk by Elder Holland that spoke about just that, the importance of applying what we learn and listening for what we need to do. One phrase from his talk really jumped out to me, he said, "If we teach by the Spirit and you listen by the Spirit, some one of us will touch on your circumstance, sending a personal prophetic epistle just to you." How true is that statement! Our leaders know our needs, we've just got to listen to recognize what was intended just for us.

The office work se pone pesado (is getting hard). We are working diligently against a clock that we can't see. The construction department got a little behind on turning over the building, but that will be happening on the 15th. On the other hand, we are also having to coordinate with Operations & Maintenance, which has got to be the least organized organization in Area Chile! They are giving us the run around with the move and keep projecting a date that is further away. At this point I'm not sure that I'll still be around for the actual move, or just the preparation (that we are working on now), and I'll almost definitely not be around to enjoy any time in the new office.

Much of this week as been spent working on the move. We are in the process of cleaning out and packing, and so far we've gotten through most just the paper files. We've thrown out about 2 years of financial records and about 8 of membership records. Who ever is working on shredding all of that has his work cut out for him (and it is looking like I'm going to be having a shift or two of it myself)... LOL

Despite efforts in the sector we haven't seen much success. That is the tough thing about the office, and it starts to take its toll on you after a while. When you are stuck behind a desk all day it is kind of hard to preach the Gospel. Yes, we leave to work, but the whole spirit of missionary work somewhere gets lost. I do my best when I've got the time, but there is very little of that when you're stuck here. I'm ready to get out of the office... AGAIN... (Not many people can say that part).

Not much news really for this week. It was pretty tranquil. We did send 2 missionaries home early, for studies, on Monday & Tuesday and we are sending another one on Monday morning. It is wild to see how quickly the time here in the mission is passing. I can definitely say that each of the missionaries who is now leaving the mission are people that I know, something very different from when I first arrived in the office.

And to answer your questions Mom... I have eaten all of the jam and I found it very, very good. And I still haven't gotten the package, it is probably sitting over in Correos Chile and we haven't gotten over there to pick it up yet. Unfortunately it isn't as easy to get mail now as it was before, since we have to travel over close to the new office to pick it all up... yuck! I should be getting it early this week.

Hope ya'll have an excellent week and that work isn't to drab. Wish you could save me a place on the road trip in June!!!

Lots of love!!!

-- Élder Todd

P.S. Good luck to Ryah in Prom, and don't forget to send me pictures!!!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Circunvalacion 1 - Week #13

Howdy All!!!

It's Friday morning and we're sitting here in the mission office like any normal day... but it is actually P-day!!! I'm not entirely sure what we have planned for today, but I'm thinking it will probably be pretty chill. I think we are planning on heading into Santiago Centro to eat and maybe go to the big Catholic cathedral downtown, since I've been in Chile for 19 months and have never been!

This week has been kind of an interesting one. I'm trying to work on a few processes for our office instruction manual but I feel like more than anything I've been twiddling my thumbs... Elder Skidmore is 99.9% in control of his post as historiador and I've very much taken a back seat for the past couple days. It has been kind of nice to be able to run around the mission helping Elder Gibson out with the things he has to do outside of the office, but I'm not sure I could handle doing that for too much longer. I'm still hanging in there, which is a very good thing as it looks like I may be staying put in the office until the end of the change (or there abouts).

We should know today the projected date for the office move. The keys will be turned over from construction to the Operations & Maintenance Department on Monday, as far as we know, all-in-all the time for action should be coming up very soon!

I'm stoked for General Conference this weekend. Not only are we allowed to go to all of the sessions, but we are required to attend. The broadcasts here in Santiago are only shown in the stake centers, so we have to go to the ward next to us (oh so far...) to see the conference. I've got to admit that I'm guilty of not watching Conference in Spanish, it just doesn't have the same feel as it does in English, and since they make it available to us in English I can't help but take advantage of it!

I'm starting to get into several lasts in my mission already, and I've still got about 5 months in the field... This weekend will be my last General Conference as a missionary in Chile, I'll be home for the next one in October. It is kinda hard to believe, but the time is passing by very quickly... I'll be home before you know it.

I'm anxiously awaiting the package from ya'll! Yesterday, Elder Gibson and I headed over to the post office where our new PO box is located. We came back with a pretty big load of mail, and I hit the jackpot! The package from Sis. Whitworth was already there and boy was it filled with all sorts of goodies, and most of them are still there waiting for me... (just so everyone knows I didn't pound them all down within less than 24 hours)... LOL

All of this fresh fruit, jams, bread, etc. is getting me ready to be back to home cooking. I'm kinda tired of the way that we eat here in the office, and there is a place in my heart/stomach that Chilean food just can't fill either... I need some homemade fried chicken or something!!! LOL.

The work here in Circunvalación is going well also. We are striving to help several people accept the gospel. Carlos, from a long time ago, is still sharing with us but it looks like his ideas have been changed a little bit because of some recent sharing with another religion. Let's just put it that he seems to believe entirely too much in the fact that Satan is just as powerful as God (see if you can recognize what church that doctrine comes from). Either way, he's been more tough to help out this time, but we are still hoping that he can make it to Conference and can really get something worthwhile from the messages presented.

Melva, Sonia's mom, is still eager to learn. We had a great lesson with her during the week, but it was interupted by visits at the very end. She was feeling the Spirit very strong, as were we, but she had fallen out of that same rumbo when the time to commit her to baptism came. I'm confident that she will accept baptism though and that she too will become a strength to her family in this great and marvellous work.

I love the Gospel! This weekend is a great opportunity to learn and recommit, and there is alot of that that I've got to do. Take every opportunity you get to share the Gospel, that is how our testimonies really tend to grow the most.

How are Brad and his family doing? Keep me posted. And is there anybody new in the ward that I don't know, that you haven't mentioned before? Overall how is the ward doing? Attendance? I want to know all...

Love ya'll and miss ya'll bunches! Don't start counting down the days yet! But just so you know, only 5 more fast Sundays! (I'll send more details in another e-mail so now everyone thinks that I'm getting trunky!!!) LOL

¡Todo mi amor!

-- Élder Todd

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Circunvalacion 1 - Week No Se Cuantito (#12, I think)

¡Hola Familia Mia!

This has been a pretty laid back week here in the trenches (as Dad puts it). Elder Skidmore is catching on to the work of the Historian very, very quickly... that means that I could have more special changes any minute now! I'm half expecting that my phone rings as I sit here writing you right now... *RING* *RING*

Ok, so I didn't just get a phone call but I've definitely entered into the anxious/nervous mode about what change will happen next. On the bright side, after 2 weeks of training, I've we've now got a new office member who can survive without my help. There will be no sink or swim this time, I've made sure of it!

The work is progressing, slowly but surely, in the vineyard of Circunvalación. We've had quite a bit of extra time this week to work in the sector and we've had a little bit of success in finding. Last Wednesday the father of a young man in our ward died suddenly, Diego wasn't handling it very well at first, and his mother who is not a member of the Church was taking it harder. This tragedy has opened the door of her home again to receiving the missionaries, and we've now had 2 opportunities to share the Gospel with her. So keep Sylvia & Diego in your prayers, they need it and Sylvia needs this gospel.

This last week in our zone class we had a brainstorming session about what we want the mission as a whole to recognize about the office. When I arrived to the office nobody in the mission really had a clue about what we did or really even recognized much that we existed. Now I'm not sure there are many elders who wouldn't like to come to the office. The office as a whole has gained a reputation for being fun and a lot of nonsense, both of which are entirely not true. Yes, we try to have fun in what we do, but we work hard here! So now our goal is that the mission see what it is the office is really all about... we want to show them that we are here to serve the mission, but also to fulfill our purpose as missionaries "To invite others come unto Christ, by helping them receive the restored Gospel...". It's a tough task to fulfill and it puts even more pressure on us, on top of everything we do now... daily office tasks, processes (aka instruction manuals) we are writing, & moving. I'm excited to leave! LOL...

I'm a little envious of the whirlwind trip to So. Cal. I've recently become very used to driving and I could use a road trip... You sure you can't push the trip off until September or so? LOL... It would be great to be able to see some of the family out there, but I'll still be here when you make that little excursion! I'm sure Ryah would do alright driving through the desert if need be, and it also might give Gabe a chance to learn to drive... just make sure he has his license first (he wouldn't even need to know how to drive before that as 30 hours behind the wheel would give him plenty of experience)...

Mom, I'm officially disappointed that you did not get the Golden Retriever puppy "for Dad"! But then again with one dog that already doesn't know me, it might be best that we keep the numbers as low as possible to avoid possible dog bites/attacks when I get home...

Next weekend is General Conference. We'll be able to attend all 5 sessions over the 2 days, so I'm really excited for that! I'm still not entirely sure what will be happening with our P-day on Saturday (as it won't be happening) but I'll let you know as soon as we have some news, we should know something by Monday afternoon. Pay close attention to the theme that is expressed throughout the Conference, it is always interesting to me to be able to see how a lot of the talks tie together in a common pattern.

I think that is about all of the news for this week. Nothing too exciting still, and I'm kinda hoping it stays that way for a while. I'm still hanging in there, and the reminders of how much is left keep coming at every turn...

Love ya'll and miss ya'll bunches! ¡Besitos!

-- Élder Todd

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Circunvalacion 1 - Week #12

Howdy All!

Just to let everyone know off of the bat, the seismic activity that apparently has been happening in Chile for the last week or two has barely affected Santiago. The other day we felt a little bit of shaking when we were in our 5th story apartment, but it only lasted 45 seconds or so...LOL

Affirmative... my tiny 3 word e-mail does mean that even after changes I am still in the office, but the end is in sight. We are currently 6 Elders plus the Taylors in the office! I am now training Elder Skidmore to be the new mission historian, and boy is he catching on fast. I've been able to relax just a little bit more this week (after Wednesday that is) and help him do all the work... that's the way I like it. But more on this week later...

Good to hear that everyone made it back from California alright and that everything went off without a hitch. I'm guessing that Dad's next trip out there will be by truck instead of by plane... Am I right? Out of the belongings acquired that you mentioned I think I might remember the green velvet couch, was it is the big living room where Gabe, Ryah, & I always stayed? And I definitely remember "Omar the Camel"!!! That's pretty great that Gabe got him. As for the family reunion proposal, I'm completely on board. Now let's just see if we can get me to be close to home when it happens and get the ideas flowing. I'm guessing it will be summer of 2013, right? I'll see what ideas I can come up with, since I mean East Texas really is a hoppin' place...

This week, as I already mentioned, were changes. Monday we sent 3 gringos home to Gringolandia and Tuesday we sent home 9 Latinos. Because of flight problems/conflicts we got the new missionaries in 2 groups, 6 Latinos from the CCM here on Tuesday & the 3 gringos on Wednesday morning. Our new office missionaries were real troopers through their first 48 hours with only about 3 hours of sleep. As for us vets we were running on about 6 hours out of 72+... Yuck! But I will almost definitely not be doing that again... Our new office personnel are great. We've got Elder Skidmore as the historian, Elder Roth (being trained by Elder Young) as the finance secretary, and Elder Sierra (de Honduras) as the executive secretary. We are having a blast and I feel like a lot more is getting done than was when we were only 3!

Sister Taylor is doing well. She got out of the hospital Sunday afternoon and was in the Hinckley Suite in the mission home until Tuesday so that she wasn't alone in her apartment, with all the changes and everything happening. Tuesday she came back to Conchalí and everything is going spectacular. From the point she had the surgery the doctors basically told her that she was ready to run a marathon (not in those words), so she is back to the normal routine with exactness... and with a lot more energy.

Dad's e-mails have been getting me to tear up recently... and today he did it yet again! That is pretty awesome incident, it really does bring the whole reality of the gospel back to home. These things are all truths we know, but sometimes you don't really recognize them until something as real as what Aunt Katie experienced happens. Tell her thanks for sharing!

I miss ya'll bunches! Be expecting to hear from me anytime within the next six weeks about special changes... I'm already on the look out and President has already warned me that I might only be training for part of the change. I'm kind of tired of getting thrown around, but apparently it is something that both myself and those waiting for me in other sectors need!

I love ya'll and miss ya'll bunches! ¡Muchos abrazos a todos!

¡Todo mi amor!

-- Élder Todd

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Circunvalacion 1 - Wek #11

¡Hola Familia!

I all of a sudden had the random urge to start writing in complete Spanish... but I caught myself before too much started coming out on the keyboard and I had to start translating my letter.

I've been thinking a lot about everybody this week. It is still kind of hard to realize that everybody is together in Southern California and that I'm so far away. I wish that I could have been there yesterday and be able to see everyone and participate as well, but everything happens for a reason.

Just to let everyone know, yesterday's earthquake & tsunami did not affect our mission at all. The Isla de Pascua (Easter Island) had a little bit of a scare for a while and were evacuated to higher ground, but all in all everything turned out ok. How was it getting the tsunami warning over in Cali?

This week has been pretty crazy as far as office work goes. We're preparing for changes tomorrow and are not entirely sure what will happen with the office, except that there will probably be at least 1 new assistant and a new secretary in training. I think that all of us will be here for at least this next change! The office move is progressing, slowly, but at least now we are seeing progress. We now have the new mailing address for the office, which we will start using immediately, for those who would like to send me something. Don't worry too much though as we will also be keeping the current PO Box open for a couple more weeks. Here goes the new address:

Misión Chile Santiago Norte
Sucursal Correo Patronato, Casilla #60

This week we will be renting 2 very nice apartments that are about a block from the new office and working on getting a few more things lined out to project when the actual move will be. This last week the boss of O&M (basically Facilities Maintenance) came to the office to see how they'd be able to move everything and told us a couple things we didn't like too much. Later on Wednesday, Elder Taylor & I, along with Presidente & Hermana May, went for another tour of the new office building and were told that even though the contractors are going to turn it over at the end of March our move date was being pushed forward from April 9th to May 15th. We weren't too happy!!! Yesterday, we went to the area offices and talked to the same boss about that subject... he tended to be a little more hopeful and cooperating than he was with President May present, so we'll see how it actually goes down. We've got another meeting Tuesday at 2:00 p.m. to coordinate a little bit of the moving process.

The whole move situation is pretty complicated, but Elder Taylor has the mentality that is can all be done in a matter of hours. If we were in the US Military (as he was... 82nd Airborne Division) and not in Chile it might be entirely possible. I mean, how hard is it to move an office of 5 people in a matter of 1 day... not 1-2 weeks like O&M was projecting!!! It's ridiculous! I'm now adopting the saying of Sister Taylor in that "everything in Chile has to be a major production".

The work in our sector is progressing, slowly but surely, despite all of the action going on in the office/mission. We are beginning to teach the mother of a recent convert, Sonia, who recently arrived from Peru a couple of weeks ago. She seems to be pretty receptive, already reading the Book of Mormon and going to church, but just as Sonia & Susan were, she is devoutly Evangelical Christian. We haven't seen much of Jennifer this week, and our crazy/possessed investigators is now once again seeing a psychologist... still not a lot of change there though.

Also on the office front... This week we had specialized training as a mission, in 3 groups. Thursday our zone, El Cortijo, was assigned to attend with San Pablo & Quilicura. At the training Hermana Taylor began to speak with a couple of the sister missionaries who have been trying to invite her to work with them one night in their sector, in proselyting activities (couple missionaries are not normally assigned to pure proselyting). Hermana Taylor expressed to one of these sisters that she has not been feeling well recently and for that reason she hasn't been able to go with them... she had several times in the last couple weeks complained of shortness of breath but hadn't said much else about the matter. The sister told her she should call Elder Welch, the area doctor, and let him know what was going on. Once again at the end of the conference the same sister again asked her to call... so, even though she had heard the same suggestion several other times, Hermana Taylor listened and called.

In the phone conversation (I find that part completely amazing) Elder Welch diagnosed, without having seen her in person for any of the symptoms, with CHF and told her to make an appointment for that same day, at INDISA (the private clinic we use here in Chile), with a cardiologist... Long story short, Hermana Taylor saw the cardiologist Thursday evening and was admitted to the clinic to have a pace-maker placed. She is now recovering in the hospital and is expected to leave either tonight or tomorrow morning.

If that isn't enough action for this week I don't know what is!!! And you know me, I love it!!! Finally, an emergency in the mission that I'm interested in... LOL.

Lots of prayers are needed on behalf of Elder & Hermana Taylor in this moment. Be sure to send some their way!

Changes happen tomorrow through Tuesday (by changes I mean the whole entire process of changing, sending, and receiving missionaries), so my sleep window for the next couple days is going to be fairly small. We'll see how we fair and what kind of craziness will happen with me now! We know my transfers have never been normal, but it is looking like when I leave the office I will have served here for a minimum of at least 10 months... THAT'S ALMOST HALF MY MISSION!!!

Love ya'll and miss ya'll bunches! Send my love to all there in So. Cal.! ¡Diga a Tio Mark y Tia Connie gracias por haber prestado el computador!

¡Todo mi amor y cariño!

-- Élder Todd