Saturday, February 26, 2011

Circunvalacion 1 - Week #9

Oh Happy Day!!!

This week put in a nutshell could be put as "non-stop paperwork". Until today I think I've been away from my computer for about a total 4-5 hours in the time I've been working on office stuff. INSANE!!! ¡Estoy volviéndome loco!

An unannounced "mission business" trip was planned and finalized during this week without advising the office until Wednesday afternoon. President, Sister May, and the assistants are in a remote part of the mission and decided that they wanted to keep this little adventure top secret... the idea worked pretty well until they started asking us to prepare things for them to take with them (remind me to tell you next week where they went as I can't right now because they won't return until Tuesday). Needless to say, until more details were divulged, Elder Young and I were very confused as to what we were doing and why.

Today was a bit of a relaxing day, despite the fact that we are controlling the mission right now... the last in the line of authority for the weekend. We were able to go up towards Los Andes a little bit and look around up there, all in all it was pretty chill. I can officially tell Grandma D. that I have seen some pretty Chilean country. Unfortunately we are now in smoggy Santiago again and back to the daily grind. Tomorrow ought to be fun as we have to play shuttle to some of the mission technological equipment and run it between 2 different meetings here in Santiago, with 2 different zones/stakes... ahhh, fun times, fun times!

The office move is rolling right along, SLOWLY, but rolling right along nonetheless. We calculated up the other day how many processes we have left to write and we determined that we are about 1/3rd of the way done with the project... the only downside with that is the we are 2/3rds done with the amount of time that we have to complete the project!!! AHHHH!!! I'm getting into my stressed out mode again and I'm not handling it very well. I'm tired!!!

Our investigators are doing alright. Actually about 4 of the 5 don't have much interest anymore, but Jennifer is catching on to the Gospel real quick and loving every minute of it. She has had a pretty tough work schedule this week, but we've been able to share a few times, and even though she has to work tomorrow she is planning on going to Sacrament Meeting first!!! YAY!!! The 3 guys in the house have turned out to have a few problems with a couple of the commandments, problems that will keep them from progressing much at all...

Sounds like work is going well for everybody, even Gabe. He's surviving still so that is a very good thing! I'm excited to hear that all of the problems at the house "should" be fixed, and that ya'll should be moving in "soon". Is my room going to be set up how I wanted? Not sure I'll be using it for too long, but still... LOL

On Monday we had a mission sports activity (divided into 3 groups), where we celebrated having met our baptismal goal of 80 for the month of January. It was pretty fun! President & Sister May showed up early to ours and we played a little bit of broom hockey, we completely demolished the brooms, and President announced who the new mission president will be. It looks like Salt Lake gave specific instructions not to announce who the new mission president taking over at the end of June would be until it was published in Church News, apparently it was on Monday and we now know that President & Sister Essig, from Logan, UT, (surprise, surprise) will be joining us here in the Chile Santiago North Mission at the end of June to begin their 3 years of service. I believe that President Essig is a lawyer and is currently serving in a bishopric there in Logan.

Not much other news from the Southern Hemisphere. We heard yesterday from the other missionaries in the ward that somebody vandalized the church building, but we still haven't confirmed that, it would kinda suck though... We've got high hopes again for church tomorrow, and I'm currently trying to devise a plan that will allow that I don't have to lead the music, somehow I got out of it last week! Our ward leadership has been getting shifted over to the stake recently, so we've had quite a few changes on the ward level and are once again, after a lapse of about 3 weeks of the contrary, are without a ward mission leader again! The work WILL progress, if only we can find time more time to do it. Does anybody have a recipe to add more hours to the day?!?!?

I love ya'll bunches and miss you too! Tomorrow I complete a year and a half in the mission!!! Yay me!!!

¡Todo mi amor!

-- Élder Todd

Monday, February 21, 2011

Circunvalacion 1-Week #8

Howdy Texas!!!

First off I wanted to start with a shout out to the birthday girl... RYAH!!! BIG 18!!! I'm feeling a little old now, my baby sister is all grown up... maybe...

This last week has been excellent. I was able to get a lot of my work caught up, and we were able to have quite a bit of time in the sector as well. The highlight of the week, hands down, was Wednesday night... but I'll start the story from the beginning.

Sunday at church there was a new young woman, 19 years-old, who came in and sat down at the back of the chapel. None of the three of us really payed a whole lot of attention, as there are a ton of unknown members here in Chile, said hello and kept on about our business. At the end of Sacrament Meeting, however, Genesis (the girl) came up to us and introduced herself as a member who had recently moved to the ward. Being missionaries we instantly asked when we could pass by and set an appointment for Wednesday evening at 7:00 pm.

Wednesday came around and we were super busy with work here in the office, but we decided that we would leave to go to the appointment that we had set. We are very glad we did! Upon arriving at the appointment we went in and started "trying" to share with Genesis. The conversation was one of those awkward ones that you ask a question and the person responds with a one word response and chao! AWKWARD! Luckily as we were about to sing, share a message, and leave (all 3 very quickly) one of her friends, Abraham, who also lives there, walked in and broke the ice. We taught him to sing and shared a quick scripture when 2 more friends showed up. Shortly thereafter Genesis' mom showed up and every was all ears to the message. So to make a long story short, Wednesday resulted in 4 new investigators, with lots of potential, a real desire to share, and a return visit yesterday.

We passed by last night again and shared with Jennifer & Mario, 2 of the friends, and with Genesis' drunk dad. The lesson was pretty comical, after all we did have your typical Chilean drunk, but we did make a lot of headway. Jennifer & Mario are planning on attending church on Sunday and are super excited about the gospel!

Missionary work just feels so freakin' good!!! I'm super excited to hear that Ryan is out in the field and starting to tear up the work in Missouri. Have we heard whereabouts he is serving yet?

Bummer to hear the opposite of all the good news. Lots of times one person's bad decisions can effect the lives of lots of people. Jake's life is going to be changed for a very, very long time!

Work sounds like it was pretty fun this week. Dad, I kinda wish I had been there on Wednesday... sounds fun but super crazy at the same time (at the moment I'm sure it was not at all enjoyable). The house sounds like it is taking a new shape, hopefully all of the damage due to "normal" East Texas weather has been fully repaired and the work can keep progressing. I still want to see more pictures! So when is the projected move in date? Is it close or will you be waiting for me on that one?

Hope everything went well with Ryah's birthday. I can't believe she's already 18 and getting ready to graduate pretty soon. She told me that she is still the top of her class! I don't want to miss her valedictorian speech so somebody better record it for me!!! And possibly heading off to BYU pretty soon...

Work here in the office is still going. According to our plan we are a couple of days behind, and President keeps throwing us curve balls that aren't letting us get caught up. As part of the office change we are writing instruction manuals for our jobs, to avoid what happened with Elder Smith. I've gotten one of about 30 processes written and I'm not progressing at all!!! I've been working for that past week or two helping out Elder Taylor with the secretary work, but now that we are getting that lined out I'm able to start working on my stuff. Good thing we've got 3 more weeks before changes and all of this jazz has to be finished... jajaja!

On Wednesday we also got to tour the new office building. It is fairly decent size, but the whole move process ought to be a blast... not! The set-up is definitely going to cause a couple of problems with the furniture that we have now, but we've been to handle it school!

Well, that's about all of the news I've got for now! I love ya'll and miss ya'll bunches! Wish I could have been home for Ryah b-day!

¡Todo mi amor!

-- Élder Todd

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Circunvalacion 1 - Week #7

"I feel the earth move under my feet!" (But this time I didn't!!!)

Apparently there was an earthquake in Concepción yesterday, a 7.0 on the Richter scale... I didn't know until about 30 minutes afterwards when we left the office to work to fix up a house that there had been any seismic activity! The joys of riding in a car during something like that, you are completely oblivious!

The weather here is starting to get a little bit nicer. We have been enjoying temperatures that are a little bit cooler and even a little bit of cloudy/rainy weather. I'm loving it! The nice thing about rainy weather in Santiago is that not too long after the rain shower the smog is gone... for a little while at least. When the city isn't so dirty it looks great!!! Despite all that, I'm still willing to trade for the cooler temperatures.

Sounds like Gabe and Ryah have recently run into a gold mine or something! Where are they all of a sudden getting all the money to do these fun things? What concert are they going to? With almost every e-mail that I get from ya'll I become more and more convinced that I'm the home-body of the family! How did Ryah's applying for BYU go? Is she still looking at going up there, or have ya'll convinced her otherwise?

The McProject seems to be moving along rather slowly because of the fun East Texas weather. That little excuse still doesn't liberate you from your responsibility of sending me more pictures of the progress (and the house in general) to share with people down here! Hopefully all of the factors will start coming together to be able to work on it a little bit more and make a little more headway.

The office is still rockin' and rollin' down here! We are working at double the strength we have to get this project done, and we are hardly advancing at all! This last week we had zone conferences which took a very large chunk of time out of our already very busy schedule. I'm not completely convinced that everything will be ready for the move within the next 4 weeks, but that is the goal... I'm starting to think that we are all insane for thinking it was possible in the first place. The gears are turning full speed here and the work in the office is taking a lot more time than I'm used to. Our sector is suffering pretty badly, but we've been to handle-it school and are hitting the sector hard in the little bit of time that we are there! It is very difficult at this point in time in office history to be able to do as President has counseled us many times, to put the sector first. We're in the middle of a move for goodness sakes!!! I'm going insane, or as they say in Spanish, "estoy volviendo loco"!!!

Just to clarify the doubt, I'm not training another historian at this point. As a matter of fact, nobody in the office is training at the present moment. In fact, the 2 of us veterans (Elder Young and I) are working alongside Elder Taylor as the executive secretary of the Chile Santiago North Mission! It's kind of fun, but a pretty big headache at the same time. I can't get my own work done because I'm trying to help Elder Taylor as well... I'll survive.

Stake Conference sounds like it was great, I haven't had one here for a while... For a couple of months I was getting almost every stake conference in Santiago, but now I've gone a couple of months without getting close to one... Oh well! I think Conchalí has one coming up right about the time that we move offices, so hopefully I'll get that one. I'm a pretty big fan of the regional broadcast format, it is good to hear from the General Authorities, but I also like the more personal feel of the having to travel to conference and get to see everybody from the stake.

To let everybody know a little something about what is going on with me right now... my line of thought more than anything... Elder Taylor, our new office secretary, is a former Army Lieutenant and served for several years in the 82nd Airborne division. Well, he is constantly talking about the military and the experiences he had. This has gotten Elder Young and I extremely excited and wanting to know more about the military, specifically the Air Force, as it is closest to civilian lifestyle and more friendly to family life. For a while the possibility of joining the military for my medical training has been in the back of my mind, and just to let everyone know... being around Elder Taylor everyday is convincing me more and more! Just a fun little side-note...

I miss ya'll and love ya'll! Time is flying by really really fast. Every day seems to be going by faster and faster! Before you know it I'll be home!!!

Love ya'll and miss ya'll bunches! ¡Todo mi amor y cariño!

-- Élder Todd

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Circunvalacion 1 - Week #6

Saludos to the "Frozen Tundra"! I'm willing to trade...

Everybody pretty much guessed what happened with changes... I'm here in the mission office at least until the 13th of March!

It is kind of a relief to have been able to talk to President May ahead of time and find out a little bit about what might happen to me. As I mentioned the week after my "special changes", I was able to talk to President, what I couldn't mention until now (for the wide spectrum of readers) is what I was told in that little meeting. The whole change of offices and the end of year stuff kind of threw my non-trainee replacement for a loop and got everything pretty behind, so I was called in to clean it up and get things rolling into 2011. What I didn't understand until the meeting with President is what I was going to do after I got everything caught up... (that process took less than a week). Well, President told me that it was very possible (probable) that I would be staying in the office until the end of the change, and at least the following change to replace Elder Smith and train a new Historian. Well...

Changes took Elder Smith and Elder Driscoll out of the office along with Elder Andelin, one of the assistants to the president. Elder Smith is training one of the 3 new missionaries that arrived, and Elder Driscoll is far away in Los Andes. Also Elder Fischer is the new assistant along with Elder Romero (still here). The rest of the changes are like I told you last week, Elder Taylor the secretary & Sister Taylor the medic... Elder Taylor is also district leader of the office...

This change has started off pretty interestingly! I can't honestly say that I'm excited to see what other unfortunate events might come our way. Monday & Tuesday morning went off without much of a hitch, the normal changes and the reception of 3 new missionaries. Monday night, however, marked a pretty big event in my mission... Hermana McNeil, who arrived in Chile in my group, went home; that may not sound significant, but it now means that there are no sister missionaries in the Chile Santiago North Mission who have been here longer than I have. I FEEL OLD!!!

Tuesday afternoon brought about an emergency that was far from pleasant. Against the order of President several sister missionaries, last change, had become adoptive mothers to several kittens; with the changes on Monday a sister arrived who is highly allergic to cats, thus began the fun. We had to get rid of the cats and clean the apartment from head to toe all within the afternoon on Tuesday, Elder Gibson did most of the dirty work though. But the disfortune doesn't stop there... Elder Taylor & Elder Young left after a little while to pick up several additional cleaning supplies from Lider and we found an interesting surprise out front of the apartment complexes. Somebody had broken into the passenger side window of the van and stolen several things from inside, the stereo panel, my PIN drive, and a pair of Ray Ban sunglasses. Naturally we spent the next hour waiting on the carabineros (cops) and filling out a bunch of police reports that I don't have a clue about... Oh what fun!!! With the luck I've been having this year, I would be the responsible party for the car at that point and naturally got to deal with all of the "business". Now we're enjoying driving around in a little Toyota Yaris for a couple of days while the van is being repaired. (A Toyota Yaris that I almost wrecked this morning because somebody stopped in the middle of the highway in front of me without warning or reason... smoke was coming out of my rear tires because of how fast I had to stop). Fun times, fun times!!!

Sounds like the winter weather has been exciting during the last couple of days. The Taylors' family said that they've had snow-days for 4 days this week... and apparently the Super Bowl will be played on ice tomorrow at Cowboy Stadium, they might ought to pull out the ice skates to make it a little easier to move around! And it's great to know that the groundhog didn't see his shadow and thinks that Spring is right around the corner... I'm pretty sure he'll get the prediction wrong this year just like he has for the last 20!!! I can't even fathom a 4°F windchill... I'm sitting over here with 90-somethings and very little humidity, it's killing me!!! (Luckily I've got AC in the cars & the office). How's the wood-burning stove working for ya'll this year?

The assistants are completely convinced that fulfilling our assignments in the office is not part of the mission experience. I'm getting sick of hearing the phrase "you'll only be able to wear your missionary plack for 2 years (or "you'll only be able to share the gospel for 2 years..."), but you'll be able to work in an office for the rest of your life". What do they think we are doing here? The last I was informed we were doing missionary work while we were in here too, and it was a special assignment from President May and The Lord!!! I'm pretty much up to here with hearing it from them! Luckily, our district leader, due to the nature of this change and our trying to prepare everything for the new office, is now in charge of all proselyting efforts as well as our work in the office for this change.

I'm running on very little sleep right now! Elder Gibson and I were at the office until about one o'clock this morning working on putting together several notebooks for zone conferences next week, another last minute project that was just introduced yesterday morning and is taking forever. This morning we woke up early to take a missionary to the doctor and to open a new house up in San Felipe, for Elder Driscoll. Oh what fun!!! I slept maybe 5 hours and this week has not had a normal schedule at all. I'm currently working on quite a few big projects for my position and I'm doing my best to help Elder Taylor with his new position that he has assumed without training as the mission secretary... looks like my ability to learn by listening is finally paying off in the mission office setting (good thing I was around the secretary for about 7 months)!

I sincerely hope that my interesting week has come to an end and that I can get a little bit of R&R (I doubt highly that either of those will prove true). ¡Hasta la próxima! ¡Les quiero mucho y les extraño demasiado!

¡Todo mi amor y cariño!

-- Élder Todd