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