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

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Circunvalacion 1 - Week #10

¡Hola Familia!

I've got to start off admitting that my week did not start off quite the way I would have liked. The news of Sunday evening came pretty hard to me and I struggled with it Sunday night and ALL day on Monday. From Tuesday on I was a little closer to normal, every once in a while I feel the pangs from it but I'm at least functioning now!

How's everybody holding up at home? And the family in California? I wish so much that I could be with ya'll right now, but I'm where I've got to be... it makes it all that much harder that that's how it is!

Bummer that Ryah-Roo is sick! How did she manage to go off and do that?!?!? LOL.

Apart from all that, I just wanted to say Happy Birthday to Dad! I'm sure that this is a hard time right now but maybe even amidst all this I hope you can find a little bit of happiness! You've got one up on Mom... I didn't forget your birthday!!!

I've got good news and bad news... Good news is that our ward building did not get vandalized like the other missionaries told us. The bad news is that our ward building did not get vandalized like the other missionaries told us, and that it would have made for a good story had it happened.

The work here in the office this week has made lots of progress towards our goal. Every day we realize that there is even more work to get done than we originally expected, but that we are still constantly, if not slowly, working towards the end... There is finally a light at the end of the tunnel! I'm extremely worn out, my patience (what little bit I have) is tried every day, and I can't wrap my mind around exactly what I should be learning or exactly why I'm here in the office again! I'm struggling!!!

I'll let everyone in on a little bit of an insight... As I'm sure you've all figured out, being an office missionary is not something easy. The "Mission President's Manual" says that the best missionaries should be assigned to the office, because even then they will still have the desire to work. I don't see myself as one of the best missionaries here, nor close to it. We see a different side of the mission than most missionaries do... a side that isn't as nicely painted. We see President when he is happy, sad, excited, mad, you name it! We are on the inside, and lots of missionaries don't really get how hard that is. Our relationship we have with President is different than that of most missionaries, and when something goes wrong you know it. It hurts to mess up!!! Lots of missionaries can make a mistake and it will often times go without recognition, but us... when something happens or we mess up it really REALLY hurts!!!

This last week was filled with wrapping alot of things up for the end of the change and the end of last month. We haven't had a whole lot of time in the sector, but that's the way the cookie has seemed to crumble recently! We are hoping to be able to teach our star investigator, Jennifer, today and hopefully she'll be able to go to church tomorrow too.

This coming week is going to be full of preparations for changes, happening next Sunday/Monday. We are sending 12 missionaries home and receiving 9 newbies, 6 Latin Elders, 2 American Elders, & 1 American Sister. Ought to be a blast! It is also entirely possible, if not probable, that someone in the office is going to have changes... we're leaning towards the fact that it will be that someone is training rather than receiving a transfer since we are still not ready to train anyone within a one-week time period.

Still not much news on the new mission president. His article either should have recently come out in Church News or should be coming out very soon, but I haven't gotten a chance to take a look. If it hasn't come out yet it should be out in the next week or two.

Hope that work and school is going well for everybody! Be safe in your travels this week, I was left in doubt the other day in whether the funeral was last week or this coming week... they did draw this process out quite a bit. Be sure to write me Friday night, and if you get another chance I'll at least be able to read the letters before I write again.

Love ya'll and send my love to the family!

¡Con todo el amor que poseo!

-- Élder Todd