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