Hey Everyone!
This is my blog about all the activities and details about my mission. My folks are going to be updating it weekly, based on the information that I send them through my letters. My current address:
Elder Brigham James Merrell
MTC Mailbox # 138
2005 N 900 E
Provo, UT 84604-1793

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Monday: Today was the two-year anniversary of the big earthquake that
hit Chile. It hit just a week-and-a-half after I got my calling to
here. They were running a bunch of cool celebration/memorial programs
all day. they actually made a movie that airs next week. Elder Burch
and I left LA at 8:15 in the morning. We stopped by the office, for
mail, and I found I had my "trunky nametag" waiting for me. It´s like
a regular one, but under my name, it says "Misión Chile Concepción
Sur." You can order it during your last 6 months, but you can only
wear it during your last transfer. We switched back with our comps at
villa acero. My comp. said he´d missed me. That was surprising, but
awesome. We had lunch delivered to us. That was awesome, too. Last
week, the Mall burned down--along with all the gringo food:
McDonald´s, Pizza Hut, and I was looking forward to trying Burger
King. Not anymore :( We then wrote the family. Mama wrote me a poem,
´cause she knows I like them. I love her so much. Cassie /(sister)
sent me a photo of my plaque that´s hanging in the church, and said I
look old. That photo´s 4 years old! Daddy´s still healing. In the
evening, we were going to go with a Sister to pick up some Sister
Missionaries who were going to be travelling. But my comp. and the
gringa, who doesn´t have much experience with Spanish, had a
miscommunication. when I spoke with her, she said they+´d be
travelling on Thursday. The Sister, that was going to help, was Hna.
Barrigas. We had completos and she gave me advice on how to know if
I´m choosing the right wife: if she thinks the same as me.

Tuesday: Today was a great day. My comp. and I are getting along a lot
better, knowing what to expect of each other and dealing with it.
Elder Aparicio is laughing and joking more. It feels good, having
overcome such a big obstacle. I had a Spiritual experience today, in
my Personal study. I was reading my Patriarchal blessing for the first
time in about a year. There were two big things that hit me, but I´m
only gonna be vague in this writing. The most important thing that hit
me was a promise from the Lord, concerning my children, and when I
read that promise, and what it was giving me, a huge amount of peace
and comfort hit me and I KNEW that Heavenly Father knows me. He does,
and it just made my spirit sing as he spoke with me. It was very
special to me. It´s the same feeling as always, but I think it´s
interesting that those thoughts were placed in my heart--irremovable,
undoubtable. We had lunch in the house. We worked in the Afternoon,
but weren´t able to find our investigators. In the evening, we had a
meeting with the Ward Missionaries. We taught them how to teach the
Book of Mormon. I was surprised at the amount of info. we had to give,
regarding teaching methods. But they all di well. I called elder
Calaway, to wish him a happy "monthday." When I told him that was why
I was calling, he said, "I´m so jealous of your big heart." We both
laughed. He said he´s learned a lot in these few weeks as a Zone
Leader. I´ve been learning, too!

Wednesday(Leap Year!): Today was a good day. My comp. wasn´t feeling
so good, though. He´s been grinding his teeth lately, and one of his
fillings popped off, and now it´s hurting him. So, I got up and
prepared a class to give to the Zone. I decided to teach "How to find
the Lord´s Elect" based on the book Sister Tan wrote and gave to me.
When we got to our Distrizona Meeting, we felt we should change it,
and focus on teaching more lessons with a member present. It went
really well, and I got to share my experience of helping my convert
from Hualpencillo, María. I really like being a Zone Leader. I´ve just
felt like I´ve had a lot of good ideas, and now I can share them with
people, and they LISTEN to me. but, saying it like that, I realize I
have a lot to learn still, because I should be focused 100% on helping
THEM, not me. After lunch, we asked the Sister if we could visit one
of her neighbors. She was VERY reluctant, but we got a referral. Some
Sister Missionaries travelled here, from Victoria, tonight. they
didn´t know how to get to their Sector, so we arranged for Hna.
Barrigas to pick them up. when that was all set up, we went to visit
Aurora. She´s doing well, but not really progressing. We got a
referral from the Office--someone who wants to be baptized. WOOT!!!
But when we went by, his Mom answered and said he´s going to Santiago
tomorrow, for several months. Dang it! During lunch, my comp. told the
Sister that I was his favorite comp. I didn´t believe him until he
reaffirmed it in the evening. Thenm, I felt a whole lot better. It´s
definitely been an intense companionship, but it just goes to show
that when you talk things out, everything gets resolved just fine.

Thursday: Today was a good day. We went out to buy breakfast in the
mornign. I offered to buy for my comp. ´cause he doesn´t have any. At
the register, he said, "I´d help, but I lost my money last week." I
thought he was saying it out of spite for our incident last week. I
tried to defend myself, and he got offended again because he HADN´T
been sarcastic. He had a hole in his pants and had actually lost his
money! So we talked when we got home, and he got mad and walked out. I
swept the downstairs, and he said he wasn´t gonna eat the big amount
of food I´d bought (Most was what he had asked for), because if I´d
ahd the intent to share with him, I´d have prepared it for him. He
said I was a prideful gringo with lots of money. That made me cry
because I´ve been trying so hard to be humble. I read talks about
charity and optimism. I found comfort there. After lunch, we did a
contact and Elder Aparicio bashed with him. He was a Pastor. I made
the comment, afterward, that he was aggressive. When we got to the
house, he said we needed to talk...again. He asked what bothered me
most about him. I said that the fact that assumed the worst in me,
making him easy to offend. He nodded and surprised me by saying, "I
feel the same way about you." And he was right,. so I decided right
there to try better and put forth conscious effort to think good of
him. I told him 5 good things I found in him. Things got slightly
better after that. We planned out our plan to help our Zone in the
afternoon. In the evening, some missionaries arrived for oour council
tomorrow. Elder Tavernier, Elder Lisonbee´s hijo, is one of them. He´s
so great. I´m really tired now.

Friday: So, for the ipast two weeks we´ve been having daily tremors of
about 4pts. on the richter scale. It´s like your house is driving down
the freeway, hitting bumps in the road--but the whole city feels it.
We got up at 5:30 so we could p lay soccer as Zone Leaders of the
Mission. We had lots of fun. Then, we showered and changed before
going to the Mission Pres´s. home, for my first Zone Leader Council.
It was great! We spent a lot of time taking turns, explaining what
were some challenges in February, as wella s our plans for march. Our
focus, as a Mission, will be working with the Members, and I´m so
excited. right when we got back, we went to re-interview Hector from
Las Salinas. he´d smoked right before his baptism, last week. But this
eek he seemed a lot better. After that, we went to an FHE with Hno.
Maldonado, our WArd Mission Leader. There, he shared a VERY inspired
class. It was about saying nice things and not getting angry. He
shared 2 Nephi 2:27, which says we´re free to choose to DO good or DO
evil. Hno. Maldonado focused his lesson on choosing to SAY good or
SAY evil. But the Spirit confirmed to me that we can also choose to
SEE good or SEE evil in others. Hno. Maldonado shared 2 Nephi 4:27
which says we shouldn´t get angry. Matt. 12: 34-36 says that as a man
speaks, so is he. And, lately, I´ve been wondering if I should be more
bold, so I´m not picked on so much. But Hna. Maldonado mentioned that
Pres. Hinckley´s wife fell in love with him because he was gentle,
softspoken, and noble. I think I can work on the "noble" part, but it
brought peace to me, knowing that I don´t have to be a macho. At
night, Elder Aparicio shared 2 Nephi 4:26-32 and explained it was his
conversion Scripture. He cried from emotion, and I was grateful the
Spirit had touched him so.

Saturday: We got up this mornign and went to get some groceries. And
we did it without fighting. I had a good personal study. In the last
general conference, Elder Cook gave a talk called, "The Songs they
couldn´t sing." At the end, he quoted a hymn that said, "And Jesus
list´ning can hear the songs I cannot sing."That just struck a chord
in me. There was many times when I can´t express myself, or when I do
things secretly because I know jit´s the right thing to do, and I just
feel alone sometimes. But to know that someone KNOWS me absolutely,
even if I don´t, and loves me despite my shortcomings, is a huge
comfort. I also realized something about myself, today: I act and
think according to how the people surrounding me treat me. It´s not
really a good trait, but true nonetheless. Every time iI was around
Kayla, after she dumped me, I immediately became sad. I couldn´t avoid
it. When I was with Elder Zuñiga, I was the ibest I´d ever been:
happy, confident, funny, and outgoing. When I´m with Elder Aparicio,
even though we get along better now, I´m stiill kind of reserved and
don´t talk much. Sio I´m going to choose to surround myself with
people who make me happy when I get back. We had lunch with Hna.
Valdevenito. She said I spoke Spanish better than my comp. We visited
Tomás, and then dropped off our clothes. We spent a good chunk of the
night getting the numbers, instead of right after church tomorrow. the
Sisters in our Zone, Hna´s Oliver and Baker, are so great. They tried
to set up their Investigator´s interfiew today, but his wife, who´s a
member, stopped them. they were a little disappointed, so I gave them
a Scripture to read and they said they really appreciated it.

Sunday: Not a lot happened today. We got up and went to Ward Council.
There, Hno. Maldonado reviewed the MIssion Plan for the Ward, and the
parts that each of the organizations will play. It´s really great
because of the new focus the Mission is putting on working with
members. Hno. Maldonado has a lot of fire going for him, just pumped
up and ready to work with us. I haven´t been in many sectors with a
Ward Mission Leader this good. Eduardo maldonado (a different guy) is
absolutely hilarious. He makes me laugh every time we talk. Today, he
said if I ever come back to Chile, I HAVE to stay in his house. He´s
awesome. The class in Sunday School was on Prayer. It´s such a big
part of this work and real conversion. During lunch, I traded ties
with the 2nd counselor in the Bishopric for a sweet green tie. The
afternoon was kind of hectic, because we had to get a lot of info. for
the new form the Misison is using to report weekly. It´s online, so I
didn´t know what to expect beforehand. It took a while to work
through. We spent the Afternoon with Aurora. she´s not a member, and
she won´t let us commit her to things...yet. Right now, we´re trying
to get her trust and teach her correct principles. It´s working. She
comes to Church most weeks. She just needs to read and pray. That´s
all. She´ll get there.


Monday: Today was a good Pday. My comp. was so excited to sleep in,
that he did it twice. He jokingly asked if I´d get him breakfast in
bed. I did anyway. Haha. Then he went back to bed. I got the house
cleaned up,and read some chapters on how to be more creative. Word
play with synonyms and puns are a great creative exercise. I woke my
comp. up at 11, and we went to the office at 12. We hitch-hiked. We
turned it into a "mobile Contact." I didn´t have any mail. While I was
there, I got to talk with Elder Tanner. He said that after a
month-and-a-half he´s just barely having time to leave the office and
work in his sector, which is my old one, Hualpencillo. He said he met
with Hna. Soledad and that she just loves me so much. She asked if
they, the Assisstants, could arrange for me to have lunch with her
sometime.We´ll probably do exchanges on March 4th. That´ll be so much
fun! We went to write the family. Daddy´s almost completely better.
he´ll be off his blood thinners soon, which worries all of us, ´cause
we don´t want the bloodclots to return. Daddy said Cassie (sister)
misses me and loves me so much. I miss her, too. we got lunch at
Doggi´s before coming home.We visited Hna. Aurora and then Hno.
Marcos.Marcos had a court session today,and he saw that his wife just
hates him. He was a brokenman. I testified to him of the healing power
of the Atonement, and thepeace it brings. He called thebishop right
there, and set up an appt.for tomorrow night.

Tuesday: I think I´m starting to get the hang of handling my comp.
There are just lots of little things that he will or won´t do. For
example, he WILL ask me to do lots of things his way (don´t bother him
during personal study, teach by ear (the spirit) so we don´t have to
plan,etc).He WON´T do something for nothing. If I ask him to stop
doing somethign that bothers me, he´ll askwhy, prove that it´s okay to
do, and then accuse me of doing something worse. But it´s helping me
to be better. In the morning, we planned out our distrizona. We
dicided to challenge every companionship to put 3 morebaptismal
dates.Then, we taught them the process of working a Miracle. It was a
really cool study. The Zone was really excited. We´re trying to serve
the other Missionaries by repairingtheir homes. We went to the home of
the Missionaries in Talcahuano Centro. They live at the top of a
staircase that´s 2,582 (or around there) steps long. Ugh! We took
stock of what they needed and reported it to the Mission office. We
had lunch early, with time after, to rest.My comp. said he had a bad
headache.When we finally left, he got after me for not telling him to
go work. What would that have been like ? "Oh! My head hurts! I need
to rest." "Nope. Let´s work." yeah, that´s just asking for trouble. So
it was my fault we left late. We taught our 2ndlesson to Roxana. She´s
a bit of a slow learner. But once she gets it, it´s there. She
understands she needs the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and a new baptism.
She knows Christ´s church was lost. Today we taught about faith. She
feels she has weak faith. We promised it would grow through daily
prayer, Scripture study...and going to church. She was fine with the
first two. But "Church" was her buzz word, and she holed up.But she´ll
get there, I think. Then, we taught Thomas the Word of Wisdom and the
Law of Chastity. I´d never taught the Law of Chastity to a kid, and
found myself at a loss for words. My comp. took over, ask,ing, "Do you
know what the word "sexual" refers to?" I just slapped my forehead
with my palm. SUPER SMOOTH. We then dropped off our dirty laundry.

Wednesday: Today was really great, and ended really well. We got up
and both took our showers. My comp. ate some oatmeal before his
shower.It was funny because he didn´t want cold showers anymore. He
boiled some water and mixed it with some cold.Next thing I know, I
hear a shout fromthe bathroom.Not enough cold water, I guess. When he
finished, he said his stomach hurt from his oatmeal and he went to lie
down. I studied until lunchtime. I love personal study. I wonder if
I´ll like studying for College as much. I better! We had lunch with
some converts who just completed a year in the Church. they´re going
to get sealed this Friday! they´re so happy. they also just got their
Patriarchal Blessings last week. their name´s are pedro and Roxana. We
rested for a bit, before going to meet with the Ward Missionaries. We
then split up to go visit inactive recent converts. We visited a
Sister from Ecuador. She lives in one of the many sheds that the Gov´t
built for victims ofthe Earthquake. She´s inactive because someone
gave her a box of food to help her, along with an offensive message.
At least,she found it offensive. I´d imagine it had said something
supportive. She just came off rather prideful. Our Ward Mission Leader
was withme.he told my comp. to meet us at the Church at a certain
hour, and he wasn´t there. theBrother kind of chewed him out, and
Elder aparicio tried to chew HIM out. Eventually, we found out there
had beena miscommunication and all was forgiven. But as soon as we
were alone, my comp. got after me for not supporting him. So then we
talked THAT out. Imentioned all this successful arguing was really
preparing us to be good husbands.I told him every one of his comps.
has an attribute of his future wife,but that HE had to choose which
one to see.Of me, he said, "You´re really good at memorizing things."
*forehead-slap* I toldhim that didn´t count so he said,"Youreally know
theScriptures." Same vein, but I guess it´s okay. I said I like his
desire to keep improving, regardless of being imperfect.

Thursday: Today was kind of tough in the afternoon. This companionship
is really hard.I got up and was studying when my comp. got up. He
feels really bad for having slept in,so tomorrow we´re for sure going
to get up on time. I called the Missionaries in Los Angeles to see
what was thestatus on scarlet´s baptism. They said she´d just barely
passed her interview, and that she´d had to move it from Saturday to
Sunday, because she´d be travelling in Santiago.Well that´s great. So
I planned out all the things we´ll need. I´m going to have to pay for
my comp. ´cause he doesn´t want to pay for something he has nothing to
do with. We had lunch with an awesome family: The Varrigas family. the
brother is really funny, and the Sister´s food was SO good! while we
ate, their son alternated between his xbox 360 kinect and his PS3.
yes, the food wasn´t the only reason I was drooling. After
lunch,wepiocked up baptismal clothes for Thomas. elderKuhn, our
district Leader, did the Interview. it was his first one,and he did
great! :) After that,I got permission from Pres.to travel on Sunday.
My comp. and I had our biggest argument yet, and we resolved that,
too. So things are good. Keep us in your prayers.

Friday: today was a good day. Things with my comp. got marginally
better. I found out thatwhen he says things that are kind of rude, he
wants me to laughbecause he´s just kidding, even though he´s not. We
had lunch with an RM who is SUPER awesome. He got back from his
Mission to Bolivia a year ago.He got sealed int heTemple 6 months ago.
his name´s eduardo. he´s a real jokester. He was making fun ofme being
trunky, and of Eelder aparicio for not having half my tiem. I
teasedhim a little bit, too. Afterward, he said he wanted to see the
same smile I was wearing when I was messing with him, when he messes
with me. So I got a better idea of how to act. He got sick in the
afternoon, in the tunny, so we stayed in. I got bored. Later, we went
to Las Salinas to Interview their Investigator for baptism. It was my
first one as a Zone Leader. My comp. said it was tradition that i pay
for the bus farethere. Lame. I Interviewed an elderly man, named
Hector. He has some memory problems, buthe was eager to obey all his
commandments. Plus, his family´s member, so he´ll be alright. We had
our baptism at 8:00. Thomas had been waiting for this ever since he
turned 8. He´s such a good boy. His mom was so happy for him.
Everything got awkward when Hno. marcos, for whom his wife has a
restraining order, showed up. He was so desperate to see hisfamily.
the baptism went really well. thomas´s aunt gave an emotional message
afterward. then I bore my testimony. It started to rain, and Hna.
Raquel, Thomas´s mom, invited us to have some cake at their place. Oh!
I forgot to say that when I shared a Scripture with Hno. Eduardo after
lunch, he said it was just what he needed. Inspiration!!!

Saturday: today was a beautiful day. It was still raining in the
morning, and it set the temperature for the rest of theday. After our
usual study,w e bought more gas. Do you know what that MEANS?! I had
my first warm shower in almost 4 months!!! Oh my goodness, it was so
good. Here, we play with the Youth on Saturdays, so we can get some
Investigators. Because of therain, we endedup playing Ping Pong
inside. My comop. is really good.When we got back, we added more
minutes on our phone. Elder Aparicio asked how much I wanted to load.
I said $2. but when we got there, he asked the lasdy for $7 worth, and
asked me for another dollar (so to speak). When we got back, I wrote
it along with all teh other money he owes me. He saw I was keeping
track and got offended. then, I remembered I had cancelled lunch
´cause we were SUPPOSED to be travelling today. He said since I was
the one to cancel, I had to pay for lunch. I woouldn´t do that to
himm,and I asked him to pay for himself.when he refused, I suggested
he just pay from his debt and subtract from his tab. he got offended
again and paid me backabout $10 in the equivalent of pennies, and I
bought us lunch. then, a Sister called, telling us to come over,
andthat she hadlunch waiting. Itwas Hna. Varrigas. She´s so good. by
the time I finished THAT lunch, Iwas so full that I was sick. She
could tell and told me to lie down. Twice in a week. How embarassing.
Thenw e visited Aurora, our Eternal Investigator. We spoke with her
and her family. Then, we played a mini game of soccer in her street
out front. She´s a Grandma, and her grandkids were swarming, and it
was just fun. Then, we shared a Scripture and prayer.

sunday: today was amazing! I woke up and asked Hna. Raquel if she
could bring my memory card,which I´d left in her house, to church.
When we´d gotten to church, we were called up to confirm Thomas. I got
to do it. I was also called to bless the water. After Church, a Sister
told me that when I said the blessing, it was as if she was caught up
to Heaven. A little extreme, but very flattering. Daniel Guiñazú said
he´d felt a spirit that was higher than the usual. Eduardo Maldonado
is really awesome. He said he´d make a photocopy of his study journal
for me. We met up with Elder Burch and switched comps. I just love
Elder Burhc. He´s one of my favorite comps. It was a nice refresher
from how things have been. We had a nice 2-hour drive in the bus, just
talking. On our way to the Chapel, we stopped by Hna. Pinar´s, to make
sure she´d be there, at the baptismm. She was so happy to see us both.
I said hi to lots of beloved members at the church and I was sure it
couldn´t get better, but then Scarlet and Gustavo came in, married,
andI kenw Heaven was there with us. When Scarlet saw me, shestarted
crying, and I started crying ´cause we were sohappy. I baptized her
and it got even better. We tried to hustle out, but it was hard. Hna.
Pinar was like, "That´s my son! I´m his mamita!" She loves me so much.
Hna. Marita has always been jealous and (apart from throwing Hna.
Pinar the stink-eye) offered to drop us off at the Terminal. There
weren´t any more buses available until tomorrow, so the family offered
us dinner:french fries and beef. yum. I finally met Mario, who was in
my HOUSE, and met my FAMILY He´s awesome, and we talked about gringo
stuff. he said I look like my dad. TRUNKY. We´re spending the night
with my grandson, Elder Tholl, and Elder Williams. Elder tholl looks
like Elder Kemp.


Monday: We woke up early this morning and I kept Eldr Smith company as
he finished packing. I hugged him goodbye and wished him good luck. I
spent the morning cleaning the house up so I could make my video tour
of the house. We went to write the family. Daddy doing so much better.
He had his filter removed and he`s recovering well. He`s not coughing
as much, now. Mom and Daddy spent the weekend alone and had a good
time. Mom said Devin paid his tithing and fasted without being asked.
Cassie`s a bit sick, but still has stellar grades. I spent the
afternoon packing. I got it all done by 6. LIfe`s good. I got to say
goodbye to the Diaz family. I didn`t expect their strong reaction to
my leaving. Hno. John and his wife were both very impressed with my
happiness. They said it`s totally contagious and that I should always
be how I am. Hna. Paulina asked how I can always be so smiley. I`ve
really learned on the Mission. I taught her what I`d learned. I think
she`ll be fine. They`re such a good family.

Tuesday: So, today we had our transfers. I got up 40 min. too early,
and got to wait in suspense. I couldn`t believe I was leaving
Curanilahue! I had been totally prepared to finish my Mission there.
We got all my stuff together and made the bus on time. WE got to the
Terminal safely. WE didn`t have to wait long before Elder Brady`s new
comp., Elder Mendenhall, arrived. Elder Brady`s and my goodbye wasn`t
that emotional. As Zone Leader, my first responsibility was to wait
until all of the Zone had arrived. I met my new comp. Elder Aparicio.
He`s a total crackup. He has the straight-face kind of humor. As I`ve
come to know him, I`ve found him to be a little relaxed, but he wants
to get things done well. His last comp. wasn`t much of a team-player,
and he really likes me. I had a good time talking with Elder
Mcconnell, too. But I spent most of my time with elder Burch. We had
lunch with the Bishop`s wife. When we dropped my things off at the
house, I found it to be totally messy. OMG! So I asked my comp. if we
could take some time to clean up. Now it looks amazing. We have a few
investigators preparing to be baptized. One, Thomas has a date for
next week. we talked with his mom, who`s going through a divorce. She
is having a really hard time. I just wanted to help her so much. I
felt that she somehow felt responsible and guilty about what happened.
I told her it wasn`t her fault. She started crying, and we all felt
the Spirit. She`s going to read her Scriptures more, so she can be
closer to God. Her name`s Reaquel. Elder LIsonbee called me up, and
swung by with his parents. Yeah. I was fereaking out on the inside. We
dropped off the dirty clothes before coming back home. I`d heard Elder
Calaway had had surgery last week for appendicitis. I called and he
said he`s feeling much better. He`s gonna be a Zone Leader in San
Pedro, 30 min. to the South. I felt like a Junior comp. today. It was

Wednesday: So...I feel kind of overwhelmed. Haha. After having cleaned
up the house, I was kind of excited to get up. We did our exercises,
and had personal study. I found a book called, "How to become more
creative" which is something I deperately need. And it explained my
lack of creativity as a result of my "judiciary imagination." That`s
the use of imagination to weigh consequences and make decisions. It
weakens creativity. We started out the day doing contacts, before
going to visit the soon-to-be-ex-husband of the Sister we visited
yesterday. He kicked his wife and children out of his home. But the
man we spoke with was penetant and broken. He explained how he was
feeling, and we explained how things can get better. I thought my
comp. was going to go into explaining how to love his wife, or
something. But he did well and set the goal of helping them both come
closer to Christ. That is our purpose after all. We shared with him
the story of King Lamoni`s father, and how he asked to know God, so he
could receive the Eternal life. We had lunch with our WArd MIssion
Leader, who is awesome and actually does stuff with us. We got ot call
the two new Missionaries in our Zone,a nd welcome them to Chile. For a
contact, my comp. called out to a kid with a basketball, asking to see
it. The kid gives it to him, he dribbles it ONCE, it bouncesinto the
HIghway, and a bus pops it. It all happened in 5 sec. and I was
laughing SO hard. And then, he teaches the kid a lesson and asks if he
wants us to come over. The kid shook his head no, and asked for
payment. My comp. didn`t have money, so I had to pay. lame. We went to
see a past contact, Samuel, who runs an upholstery shop. My comp`s
done that his whole life. So we helped upholster a couch. We taught
Thomas, our 9 yr.-old investigator about faith, using water balloons
and a blindfold to make a cool activity. Then we had our commitee and
gave a class. And finally, we picked up the clothes. I`m so lost. :)
But it`s nice to be with someone who knows what they`re doing.

Thursday: Things are getting better. I still felt a little stressed
when we spoke with each other to plan the Distrizona. I have been so
wire-tight, trying to anticipate everything because my comp. is relaly
laid-back and likes to do things in the moment, without planning. Next
to him, the Mamita we live with things I`m a no-nonsense,
super-organized, clean Missionary. But I`m getting better. Our Meeting
went off without a hitch (We DID end up planning it). We`ve got a
really good Zone. There`s an Elder Gonzalez from Provo. He went to the
other High School. He spent 11 months in Iraq, and told me some
stories. When he finished, he said, "I like you, which is weird
because, since the war, I`ve had trouble with that." I really wanted
to gain the Zone`s trust, and everyone else had equally positive
reactions. :) As we were leaving, a bird pooped on me, but only on my
backpack strap. Yay! We had lunch with an Hna. Aurora, who isn`t a
member. She`s been investigating since October, but isn`t fure. She
loves the Missionaries, but her relationship with Elder Aparicio is
too casual, just like everyone here. He says he wants to "enjoy the
Mission", but I think there may be a better way. But I`m trying to be
more humble. We visited Samuel, the Upholstery guy, but he was busy.
He`s gonna read a chapter of the Book of Mormon before we visit again.
As we were walking from him, we started talking with two kids-- one
15, and one 18, both fireman in the 3rd company of firemen. The 18
year-old, Collin, said we could talk with him right there. We sat
beneath a tree and taught baptism. Collin said he wasn`t baptized yet.
He was excited to learn more. WE`ll talk on Sunday. wE taught Thomas
the Baptismal interview questions. He`ll review it with his mom. I
gave her the talk "Forget Me Not" by Elder Uchtdorf from the NOvember
Liahona. We ended the night with the Guiñazú family. We live with
them, and they are SO Nice. They made us a butt-load of completos.
They like it when we visit.

Friday: Today was a good day. It rained for the first time in a while.
Walking through the windy rain reminded me of my dear times with
Elders Calaway, Burch, and Zuñiga. I wonder what it will be like, to
look back on the Mission as a whole? My companion`s beginning to
remind me of Elder Argueta, who I got along with so "stellarly." I`ve
begun to notice he`s a bit of a manipulator, saying rude thigns while
apologizing. It`s really disorienting. But I`m trying to see the best
in others, and my efforts have been rewarded. The Assisstants called
and chewed him out for something he forgot to do. He acknowledged that
he wasn`t perfect, but he tries to be better. And he really doesn`t
get down on himself when he messes up. I`ve gotten hard on myself,
really hard, for failing. But I`ve learned that it`s okay not to be
perfect. It`s the effort of TRYING that the Lord expects. And I`ve
never stopped doing that. In the morning, we went to buy our bus
tickets for our trip tomorrow. We had lunch with a cool Sister that
made us a veggie pie. It was great. We went through the rain all day.
wE found osme new investigators: Roxana, and Alex. Roxana didn`t want
to talk at first. She`s Catholic. But as we explained about Christ`s
Church and the Apostasy, she became very interested. It was all
academic, until we mentioned the GIft of the Holy Ghost. She wanted
it, and will continue receiving us. Then we taught Thomas about
Prophets and the Restoration. His mom really likes it when we come
over. She really needs the visits now. We came home early, because
some members from San Vicente lost a house and were coming to pick up
our spare mattresses. While we waited, we shared the "17 MIracles"
movie with the Guiñazú family. They loved it! P.S. My comp. says I
sleep talk in Spanish and english. He heard me say, "Oh my goodness!"

Saturday: Today was sooo long! We travelled to Tirúa, because the
Olivares family asked me to baptize their youngest daughter, Belén. I
wanted to be out, waiting for the "micro" bus at 6:20, so it could
take us to the bus terminal for OUR bus at 7:30. Yesterday, it took us
an hour. My comp. got us out the door at 6:35. I freaked out a little,
on the inside. WE caught a micro at 6:45, and I asked Heavenly FAther
for help. We made it in 30 min! We got on the bus and made the 3-hour
trip to Cañete, then another hour-and-a-half to Tirúa. It was so cool
to walk up the hill to their house, just like old times. Their house
looked the same, and it brought back all my feelings of love for them.
Lehi`s voice has dropped a lot, and Jayson is still a little, round
sweetheart. Hna. Olivares swas so happy to see me. And Hno. Renato,
from my previous sector, Curanilahue, was there. I saw him last week!
Haha. The Olivares` had all teir relatives over (minus Diego,
Meybelline, and Gonzalo). I had met them all over the course of 3
months last year, but it was great to see them al again. The baptism
was performed in their backyard pool. I had to repeat it because
Belén`s toe popped up. So we did the second time kneeling. Hna.
Olivares made us Choripanes with a good sauce. She`s like, "I made you
the sauce that you like." I was like, "What sauce?" But when I tried
it, I was like, "Oh THAT sauce!" It was amazing. So it was a good day.
We took a 5-hour bus back home. When we arrived, I was so dead. But
Hno. Guiñazú invited us to have some warm soup he had waiting for us.
He`s so good.

Sunday: Today was a good day. We went to our meeting with the Ward
Council. The WArd here is really excited to help the MIssionaries.
They have a few Young Men who are preparing to leave in a little
while, on their missions. My Comp. has a great relationship with the
members, too. He has a great sense of humor, and knows how to use it.
We had a class on the Fall of adam and Eve, the one I taught a few
weeks ago. When we got to lunch, I was SO Hungry. My stomach was
killing me. But as I ate, it got worse, and I asked the Sister if I
could bag up my lunch. She asked if I was well, and I said no. She
invited me to lie down in one of her rooms. As soon as she closed the
door, I cried from the pain. Then the whole family came in and saw. Oh
geez. After a rest, I didn`t feel better, so we went home. I was
worried because we`d miss our 6 o`clock appt. with Collin. But we
randomly ran into him on the way home. Crazy! Tonight, was the first
time I asked my Zoine for their numbers. Elder Alvez`s District, as
well as hi sown sector, had low results for a week of work. I wanted
to love him, but I wanted to do better, too. I was a bit too rough
with him. My comp. asked, "Do you feel you`ve served Elder Alvez
enough to be able to ask things like that of him?" I told him no, and
he taught me how to be a better, loving leader. I have more respect
for him now.I called Elder Alvez back, and apologized. I felt so bad.
I just don`t want to mess up.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


Monday: today was a great Pday. The Zone Leaders planned an activity
in Lebu. Initially, no one in Curanilahue wanted to go with me. Bu
then Eler Arjona spoke with my comp, and reminded him of a commitment
he`d made, that I wasnt aware of: to keep his comp. happy. So he
changed his mind. But when Elder Smith heard we were going to the
beach and some caves, he offered to take Elder Brady`s place. It was
really pretty. We went from the main beach, through a long tunnel,
into a smaller inlet. It was an awesome white sand bach. We spent the
first little while taking pictures. We went quite a ways from the main
group. We were climbing on the rocks close to the waves. Elder smith
wanted to go to a specific place, but it was too close to the waves
for my liking. Elder Smith went ahead to show me how. But as soon as
he was pinned in what we thought was a "safe spot", the waves got
ENORMOUS and came over his head. He pretyt much almost died. I got
pictures. But we got back all right. We were going to receive a
spiritual message in the tunnel when Hna. Gomez sprained her ankle.
Luckily, an inactive member with a 15-person van drove up right then,
and took us to the hospital. Lucky. riiiiiight. Here`s waht I imagine
the Spiritual message being: We were in a long, dark tunnel with a
light at the end. The way was rocky and dangerous (hence the sprained
ankle...it was real, not planned, so don`t go having sadistic thoughts
about our teachers). We were told to bring our flashlights. Some
didn`t. These could depend on others` lights, but it was not easy. I
imagine the flashlights being our testimonies. We can lean on others`
from time to time, but it`s a lot more hazardous when we`re directly
confronted with challenges. The family`s doing better. Mom said the
car`s ready and waiting for me. Dad said the clots are now scar tissue
that will dissolve. What a relief.

Tuesday: Today was all right. I got kind of sick in the evening, but
it was a good day besides. We made i in time to catch our bus to
Distrizona. We spoke with the Zone leaders about goals for this month.
As a Zone, we`re actually doing pretty well, and I told them we`d have
2 more for March. It was Elder Smith`s last District Meeting, and he
was talking and talking, taking away from the lesson. I wasn`t the one
teaching it. It was comforting to know he listens better when I`m the
one talking. It shows he respects what I have to say. Elder corliss
was awesome and bought a cake for Elder Arjona, because it was his
birthday last week. We had lunch with Hno. Alvarado, the Elders`
Quorum Pres. He runs a tight ship. He laid out exactly how our lunch
behavior would be. Afterwards, he chewed us out for the actions of two
of us this past Sunday. Apparently someone had tattled, becasue he
wasn`t even in Church on Sunday. He said if he catches us being
irreverent (sleeping, reading Scriptures not of the lesson) again, hed
take us into the hall. Just so youknow, I wasn`t one of the offenders.
When he gave us that little lecture, it was done in a very
considerate, loving way. The other 3 Elders were offended. I thought
it was cool. As a Leader, I`ve found I`m TOO loving, and sometimes
people don`t listen to me. Thanks to this brother`s righteous example,
I can be a better leader. I got sick in the evening, throwing up 3
times. I`m feling better now. The other companionship traveled to
Concepción tonight, for the Conference tomorrow. We`ll be going

Wednesday: Today was great! I mean I`m really happy right now. I
actually heard something cool in our conference: Happiness is a
decision. I think that`s true. The trick is doing it even when it`s
hard. Anyway, we had our big conference today. We got up at 5:00 so we
could take our bus to Concepción. As we got to the Meeting--well, a
half-hour before it--I studied Scripture Mastery for 10 min. with
Elders Woodward and Rasmussen (Elder Rasmussen and I were the only two
to get 100% on the test), the San Pedro Zone Leaders. We spent most of
the day learning about improving our teaching skils. We had some
really cool object lessons. For example, Elder Tanner had us mention
investigator doubts and solutions. We`d then get to try and hit a
bulls-eye on a dartboard, representing us trying to findInvestigator`s
doubts on our own. Then, he played a track on his iPod (low volume)
and told us to listen to the "spirit`s" voice, telling us to throw the
dart at the ballon in the garbage can in the corner. I was the first
one to recognize it, and got to throw from 4 ft. away. After 5
freakin` failed tries, I gave up. analogy to my mission work (being
able to find the doubts but not executing the teaching)? Maybe. It was
embarrasing. Elder Brady got it on his first try. I talked with Pres.
afterward, asking permission to go baptize Scarlet on the 25th. He
said transfers were this week, and I`d be leaving. He gave me
permission and thanked me for my patience with elder Brady. He said
I`d passed through the trial of faith and now the blessings can come.
He thanked me for my obedience and righteousness (in front of
everyone, no less) and told me he wanted me to be a Zone Leader (in
private) somewhere in Concepción. Wow. I didn`t see that coming. I
actually feel really good about it. Better than if he`d told me I`d be
training. Whew! YEAH!!! We came back at 9:00 PM and had a [very] late
lunch with Hna. Diaz. She`s so awesome.

Thursday: today was a good day. for my personal study, I read some
little stories from the January Liahona. they were both about people`s
conversion tories. And the cool part was that they were totally
miraculous! One told of a girl that got a copy of the Book of mormon
form a co-worker, saying that he knew it was a true book of Jesus
Christ`s Gospel, and that it would touch her heart. she read it and
loved it. Some time later, she moved. One day, she passed abuilding
witha stained-glass window of Lehi`s dream. She asked a emmber, and
he referred her to the Missionaries. For the Missionaries, it was
someone who randomly showed up, wanting to be baptized. It happens.
But there is so much that goes on behind the scenes, that we`re not
even aware of. Heavenly Father knows each of us, and will do
everything to give us the chance to choose happiness. It just depends
on us. We had lunch with Hna. Judith, Hno. Neira`s sister. We had
CFC--Chilean Fried chicken. It was good. In the afternoon, I had to o
with Elder smith to Interview their Investigator, Paula. She`s really
smart. And she told me of some of her Spiritual experiences. She`d
been told if she wanted to know something, she just had to ask. she
asked a question on Fast Sunda. Then, someone testified of Heavenly
Father, Jesus Christ, and Joseph SMith. She said she felt, lik, a wind
on her face and a feeling that it was true. As I finihed the closin
prayer, she looked like she had something to say. At my request, she
told me she felt a calm energy on her back as I prayed. It gave her
goosebumps, which she never gets. I still have the Spirit!

Friday: Today was great. 2 years ago, from today, Elder Lisonbee went
into the MTC. He completed his 24 months of service. So I gave him a
call to congradulate him and see how he was feeling. He said he was
dead, and that he was sleeping in. Haha! I can`t believe he`s DONE!!!
It feels like it coul dnever end. And, indeed, there are many times
when I wish it wouldn`t. It`s sad to think I won`t be able to see him
for a while. But I know I`ll see him again soon. It`s just another way
the Mission relates to real life. I mean, Grandfather and Grandpa have
both died, and I was sad. It wasn`t the grief of a permanent loss, but
of emporary separation. We`ll see each other again when I finish my
mortal mission, just like I`lls ee Elder Lisonbee in a few months.
We`ll watch the new Spider-man movie together--AT MIDNIGHT!!! On our
way to lunch, a dog HOWLED at us. Like a wolf. It was sweet. Elder
Smith also completed 2 years today. He wasn`t too inclined to work. I
didn`t push him. He FINISHED his Mission. That`s so cool. We workedin
the afternoon, and met a few people. the most receptive was Gloria. We
took our clothes to Hna. Nidia`s. As I shared a Scripture, I
discovered I had opened to yet another one about humility. Totally
accidental, but it struck a chord in her. She talked bout someone who
was offended by her actions, but she assured us she never does
anything wrong, and she was the victim. She wouldn`t listen. We (Elder
Maldonado and I) met with Hno. Neira for correlation, because Elder
Smith got sick.

Saturday: Today was a great day. I spent it with Elder Smith, `cause
he asked me to. He`s kinda freakin` out because he`s going to see his
family in only a few days more. In the morning, we played some cards
while just talking. He told me about all the things he`s excited to
do/eat/see when he gets back. I just listened. I`m pretty good at
that. Our lunch was a little different today. We had a Branch activity
where the little kids got to play in inflatable pools an there was a
big tarp to make shad for the adults. For lunch, we had Umitas. In
Mexico, they`re caled Taales. Basically, they`re rolls of mashed-up
corn and onions. The eat them with sugar, and they`re pretty good.
We`re probably going to have leftovers tomorrow. :) We spent a while
trying to figure out how to get the font going, for the baptism,
because it was acting up. But we did that and waited for it to fill.
Then we had Paula`s baptism. She belongs to the other Missionaries. Al
went well. In the afternoon, I wrote a reply to Miriam. She`s serving
in New York. That`s pretty cool. I got a call in the night, telling me
the transfers. I`m going to be a zone Leader in the Talcahuano North
Zone, in the "Cruz del Sur" sector with Elder Aparicio. I`ve heard
he`s good. Elder Mendenhall is replacing me, here, to be with Elder
Brady. I called Hna. Pinar in Los Angeles, to tell her how much I
loved and missed her. My hijo`s leaving to be in Temuco Cautín. That`s
cool. Elder Calaway and Elder Montalbán are going to be Zone Leaders
in the other Zones of the North with me. WOOT!!! I love being a

Sunday: So, I woke up to a phone call from the Zone Leaders, telling
me that the Olivares family, from Tirúa, want me to baptize their 8
year-old daughter, Belén--this Saturday. Dang it! I`m getting
transferred. I`ll have to check with Pres. Martinez and my new comp.
But it`s great to have both Scarlet and the Olivares family wanting me
to be part of their lives. I love them all. In SAcrament Meeting, all
of the themes were basic stuff. I used to get bored of all the
repetition, but I realized something really obvious: basics are
fundamental. I hear lots of Missionaries say things like, "I can`t
wait to do such-and-such with my Eternal Companion." But it`s not like
we can just skip there, like it`s automatic. We cannoat make Temple
Covenants if we can`t do simple things like daily Scripture study. So
those primary talks became very important to me. I just love being
instructed by the Spirit. Elder Smith and Elder Maldonado went to
Concepción for Elder Smith`s Interview (the office people actually
screwed things up, and he actually didn`t have it today, and had to
come back). We had lunch with Hna. Bernardina. She`s Elder Oversby`s
convert. I`m so grateful for all of the Sisters` sacrifices in our
lunches. they WWILL receive blessings. The good news is that Elder
Smith`s trip to Concepción was not COMPLETELY in vain: I got a letter
from Cassie!!! It was awesome. :D


Monday: Today was a good pday. Very productive. We got a call late
last night, from the Zone Leaders, saying that we needed to have the
house clean all week because Pres. is going to come and inspect them.
The gratifying thing is that all 4 of us did our parts. Elder Smith
cleaned the nasty bathroom which had not been cleaned in 6 months.
Ugh! Elder Maldonado took care of the kitchen. I`ve been asking him
to, for over a week,. There have been ants EVERYWHERE in our
apartment. Elder Brady cleaned up his "organized Chaos". Now our room
looks decent. I swept the house (wooden floors), dusted, and washed
the walls. Then, I did something I didn`t use to do: I looked for
something else that needed doing, and took care of the fridge. As a
house, we`re in a financial pickle again. Everyone`s out of cash again
(except me) because everyone keeps lending money to Elder Smith, and
he uses his credit card to pay them off. He`ll get cash on Wednesday.
I hope. I loved talking with the family today. Mom said that Daddys
feeling much better, not coughing as badly, but his neck still aches
from bonking his head last week. All in all, it was a good day.

Tuesday:Today was awesome! I got the money situation taken care of,
and we were all able to go to Distrizona. We had enough to take only a
certain kind of bus, and we had to go on the first one becasue we
don`t get many buses to Cañete and take what we get. The first bus
wasn`t the one. I asked the driver how much he charged and, sure
enough, it was too much. He must have seen something in my face
because he offered a lower price, which was exactly what we needed.
Tender mercies of the Lord! The Zone Leaders introduced s ome new
goals and I passed them to my district. Eder Arjona spoke with Elder
Brady, telling him he needed to start helping out or he`d go home. I
bought a big painting for $3. It was random, but gorgeous. I`m full of
enthusiasm again. There`s still a part that`s tired and a little
disappointed, but I know this is a critical time for elder Brady so
I`m going to be a good example. I also asked Eder Corliss to motivate
me, just in case. We met nice people and not-so-nice people. We got
into one guy`s house, but he was WAY drunk because his wife left him
14 years ago. He asked me to help him and I told him to stop drinking.
He went into another room and came back with wine dribbling down his
chin. I felt bad. The look on his face is something I usually see in
children. We shared a scripture before setting an appt. with him for
tomorrow morning, hopefully he`ll be sober. Oh! And his name`s
gustavo. It felt good to be enthusiastic again. I`ll last longer this
time. Also, I found a list of Elder Brady`s "Positives" that he has,
to help change his attitude. He mom had listed, like, 4, and he had 2.
One of his was a re-wording of one of his mom`s. the other was "my
companion". ME! That makes me feel good.

Wednesday:It`s the first day of February. That`s so crazy how fast the
time is going. this morning was so great. I got Elder Brady up on
time, today. He kept telling me he was not a morning person the whole
time. He alsosaid he didn`t like studying. But when I sat him down,
and encouraged him to write in his study journal, he took to it like
an alligator takes to some hapless animal...that was a weird simile.
:) He just got really into it, you know? But it kind of made me feel
guilty, knowing that if I hadn`t let myself get disappointed I would
have been able to keep him going. But it takes a LOT to get him going.
I`m afraid that I`ll be held responsable for not having had the best
attitude. It didn`t bother me before. But I feel that I should always
be happy as a Missionary. Anyway, I AM feeling happier. We had our
personal studies as well as a companionship study. It was awesome to
see him explaining things to me. I was so happy to find how many times
I was smiling throughout the day. It rained on Monday, and it seems
that it was the "end of summer" rain, meaining that it`s going to
start cooling down. Thank goodness. I`ll be gone before winter gets
here, though. That`s weird. I was kind of nervous to go over to
gustavo`s. but he wasn`t even home. We had lunch with Hna. Diaz. She
made us french fries and rice. She also prepared an amazing salsa. We
were g oing to visit a referral with a member, javiera, but she never
showed up. Elder Corliss called in the evening, to check up on me. He
really is a caring and considerate friend. His hijo says he wants me
to be his comp. Elder Corliss says he`s worried he`s not being a good
trainer, even though he`s working really hard. He`s awesome.

Thursday: today was awesome! We had, like, 3 apts. set up for us and I
was excited. I got up and had oreos with milk for breakfast (don`t
look at me like that) as I studied. I`m reading in Helaman 5 . I read
a quote by Pres. Kimball. He aske dwhat`s the most important word in
teh whole dictionary? he suggests it is "remember." I think so, too.
`cause when you think about it, covenants are the most imporant
thing...out of everything. They`re our ticket into the Celestial
Kingdom. We HAVE to stay faithful to them. but I also felt kind of
bad, `cause history just doesn`t yank my chain, if you know what I
mean. Anyway, things are still going well with Elder Brady`s change.
He`s getting up earlier and studying. He`s using his study journal and
he started Spanish study on his own, reciting the first part of the
First Vision before moving onto the next. It was very heartwarming. We
had TONS o ffrench fries, with Hna. Soledad, for lunch. SO GOOD!!! She
really likes having us over. Something great that Elder Brady did in
the afternoon was say, "Let`s go to our appt." I had been trying to
muster the motivation to say the same to him. He`s starting to help me
out. All 3 of our appts. fell through, and I was sad. the last was a
referral from a youth in the Branch, Javiera. But we had a miracle
when we got home. Apparently, the other missionaries had been stopped
by a member in a car with his family. They just moved here, from
Santiago, and he has 2 sons he wants baptized! :O One`s 12 and the
other`s 8. The wife`s not a member, either, and she`s indifferent, so
we may be able to work with her. The Lord has blessed us with the
tender mercies because we`ve been trying so hard. Also the zone
Leaders say we should think about baptism so much, that we dream about
it. I tried last night, and got close. I dreamt I was swimming in a
supermarket. Hey. There was water. That`s close.

Friday: Today was a good day. everythign just seems better since both
elder Brady AND I have been trying our best. I had my personal study
in Helaman 5 again. It`s the part where Nephi and Lehi are stuck in a
prison with a bunch of bloodthirsty lamanites...Oh and there`s a cloud
of darkness, and a pillar of fire, and an earth-trembling voice.
Anyway, the Lamanites ask, "What can we do, so that this cloud of
darkness may be removed?" One of the nephite desserters says they
should call to the voice until they have faith in Christ. From a
symbolic standponit it gets interesting. A cloud of darkness, in
Lehi`s dream for example, usually means temptation or something that
keeps us from God. And I`m sure "Ccalling to the voice" doesn`t imply
something empty and impersonal. They had a purpose: have faith in
christ. they needed to TALK with him. When they had all done that,
they were surounded by PILLARS (plural) of fire. It wasn`t one big
one. They each had a personal connection, through the Holy Spirit, to
Heavenly Father. Just like each of us do. Pretty neat, I think. Elder
Brady not only let me teach him grammar, but he was excited for it. I
hope he can change. He needs more light in h is heart. We had lu nch
with the Branch Pres`s wife. I feel great when I go over there,
becasue she used to be really grouchy, and now I just love seeing her
face light up when she talks with me. In the afternoon. I went with
elder Smith to take out money, so he could pay me back, as well as
accompany him to his haircut. We were going to have an FHE with Hna.
Soledad and her husband, but she cancelled. We improvised and did what
we always do with free time: contacts.

Saturday: Today was really hard for some reason. I just felt really down

Sunday: I woke up this morning in a fit of depression. Things have
been going better, and yet I feel as if I`ve been failing more. I
don`t know. I completed 21 months today. I remember meeting lots of
people with that time, and thinking they were so close to the end, but
I still have 3 months left. But even still, I`m pretty dang close to
the end and it`s kind of distracting. We met with the Branch
Presidency in lieu (ya like that word?) of Hno. Neira, seeing as how
he was out of town. he was nice enough to call me 10 min. before the
meeting to let me know, as well as to let me know I`d be teaching
Sunday School today. Lovely. It actually went pretty well. It was on
the "Fall of Adam and Eve," something I`ve studied a lot in the
Mission. But the coolest experience of the day was when we were
sitting in Sacrament Meeting as the bread was being passed. I was
thinking of all the things I wanted to do better on, when all of a
sudden I heard a very distinct voice in my thoughts that my whole body
heard, "I forgive you." There haven`t been many times when I`ve
identified the Spirit as a voice, but this was one of them. and it was
the greatest feeling to know that I could put my mistakes, regret, and
pain on the Atonement, and to know that Heavenly Father and Jesus
Christ not only know me personally, but that they love me in spite of
everything I may do wrong.


Monday: Today was awesome. I woke up at 7:30 and got paked and ready
to go to Concepción. I`ve had to bring my passport to the office for a
while, and I totally spaced. Elder Walker, the Secretary, called me on
it when we arrived. I travelled with Elder Corliss and his hijo, Elder
Butterfield. On the way up, Eloder Corliss and I just remenisced about
a lot of things we did together. Let`s just say 2 1/2 housrs passed
quickly. We have a meeting in Concepción tomorrow, but we came a day
early so that we could say goodbye to Elder Hall. He was REALLY
freaking ou t. He said he`s anxious, and confused about how to feel. I
teased him about all the different ways he can look at it. One of the
Sister Missionaries, Sister Eggbert, said that even though she has
less time left than me, she`s not as trunky as I am. Wow. I`m not
trunky, and Elder Corliss totrally defended me. But she looked at me
like I was sinning. Wonderful. We had lu nch at the new Subway they
built. NOt worth it. We replaced Elder Diaz for Elder Butterfield, for
the Meeting tomorrow. We had to wait in the office for a while before
going to write the family. Mom said Daddy`s cold has turned into an
infection and that he bonked his head on Uncle Doug`s new truck. I`m
so worried for him! I just want some good news. Pres. gave us
permission to visit someone from Hualpencillo. He also thanked me for
being with Elder Brady and sticking it out. Elder Pliler said I might
be asked to train again, next transfer. I think that`d just be the
best. We spent the evening with the Cruz family, being loved and
loving back. Then, we spent the night with Elders Mendenhall and
Jackson. They`re really close friends of mine.

Tuesday: This morning was cool. WE all got up on time and did
exercises. Elder Mendenhall was really impressive. He rean 3 km and
then did "ab-ripper X" with me. That HURTS! Haha. I didn`t last long
at all. But after that, Elder Mendenhall kept going and worked out
with his arms. He`s a stud. I can`t wait to swiom. That, I can do. We
eventually had to leave to our Meeting in the church. we`re realizing
that the number of baptisms is going down as a Mission. We`re all
working hard, but the Asisstantsand Pres. want us to be able to work
more efficiently, being able to do more. We didn`t really learn
anything new. They just helped us realize that our focus shouldn`t be
on contacts or referrals, but that all of the other things help us
baptize more people. We practied finding someone`s doubt and solving
it. I was the Investigator, being taught by Elders WAlker and
DeGracie. I swea, they spoke for, like, 5 min. before they asked me a
question. They would just talk AT me. It wasn`t too productive. But
ewhen they started asking questions, trying to find out where I was
standing and they were able to progress and stuff. I got to see Elder
LIsonbee and Elder Burch. They`re so great. We travelled back home.
Today was elder SMith`s b-day. Elder Maldonado and I went and got him
a Raspberry-chocolate cake. mmm. Yesterday, I oculdn`t write my family
for the full hour. So I did, today! I chatted with Cass and Dev. Cass
said Mom`s been going easy on me. Apparently Daddy has one lung that`s
"dead." Cass said he can recover, though. I certainly hope so.

Wednesday: So, for the first time in 61/2 months of being a District
Leader, I didn`t have to prepare a class for my District Meeting.
Usually, Elder Smith doesn`t pay attention, claiming he already knows
it. So I gave him the class and it was really greatifying to see the
enthusiasm with which he taught the class. It had been a while since
he`s had it. Before the District Meeting, while we were together as a
Zone, Elder Coprliss asked if he could borrow a marker. I gave him
mine. As we started our Meeting, I realized he needed it for his
meeting., instead of jotting something down. I said sorry for having
mislead him, and Sister Eggbert (the one that called me trunky on
MOnday) said to only say sorry if I mean it. Duh! That`s why I said
it! We had our class and went home. On the ride home, I was really
concerned with how Sister Eggbert has been treating me. I mean, I`ve
been nothing but nice to her, in the whole 2 conversations we`ve had
in 3 months. I barely know her. Elder Smith says she likes me. Ha!
yeah, right. If she takes another swing at me, I think I`ll have to
confront her. We had some really yummy noodle soup with beans and
longaniza for lunch. The other missionaries had their first
appointment with their investigator who showed up to church by
herself. It`s their 3rd Investigator that they`ve had, that has come,
ready to be baptized. I want to be a fruitful missionary. It`s been 6
months since I`ve baptized. I know success isn`t measured by baptisms,
but I want...something. We met Manuel yesterday. He invited us back
today, and we taught about baptism. He said he doesn`t want anything
to do with that, that his Pastor said he`s already saved. I know I
cand do better, but I just want a little help.

Thursday: today was a good day. I woke up and had my personal study. I
also read Elder Scott`s talk, from this past Conference, about
Scripture study. He said that memorized Scripture passages can be like
close friends that will always be there to offer comfort, strength,
and guidance; and they won`t fade over time. It`s our connection to
Heavenly Father for the things we need. These days, I`m preaying my
hardest for Daddy`s sake. I love him so much. I think this is one of
the few times I`ve had to dependd on my faith so much--trustin gthat
everything will be alright. We had lunch with Hna. María Rivas. She
made apple/orange/ chirimoya juice. We did contacts for a while,
before Elder Maldonado called and asked if I`d go to an appt. with
him. He said Elder smith didn`t want to go. So I went. We stopped by
Hno. Riffo`s house and had him accompany us, because we were
visiting his daughter`s in-laws. The investigator`s name is Sergio.
I`ve got to say that it felt good to teach again. I mean, REALLY
teach--with a companion and everything. I`ve realized we haven`t had
investigators because I just can`t do this on my own. I`ve had 3
months (almost) where preactically nothing has happened. Pres. asks me
to be patient. I thought I was, but iot`s getting harder. I find
myself wanting more, but I guess that`s the first step: recognize that
the impatience and wanting is there. I`ll be better. We had the weekly
activity night and Elder maldonado went to the bathroom in the church.
all the Neira family tried to tell Elder Smith to be with him. He said
no. I know he`s right. the manual said we don`t have to accompany our
comps. to the bathroom. But he was pretty impolite to Madelyn and her

Friday: Today was pretty uneventful. I did have a really good time in
personal study, though. I read Pres. Monson`s talk from the last
conference called, "Stand in Holy Places." He spoke about moral
standards an dhow the world has totally lost it`s moral compass. When
God`s prophet calls the world out on things like that, you need to sit
down with yourself and see how you`re doing. I`m so grateful for
coming on my Mission and havin gthe Spirit in my life. Pres. Monson
says that there is NOTHING that brings us greater joy in this life. He
aslso spoke abou thte special relationship we can have with Heavenly
Father, through daily prayer. I think that was a little bit of
inspiration--the fact that I chose that story at this difficult time.
We had lunch with the Branch Pres`s wife. When I explained about
Daddy`s situation, she told me to pray as well. I AM feeling better,
even now. Like, no matter what happens, everything will be alight. I
guess I can`t be selfish to demand to have what I want over what
Heavenly Father wants. We met a really nice woman today named Karen.
We chatted with her, and found out she doesn`t feel like she knows
Christ. She said we oculd come by another day, to help her. In the
evening, we visited Hna. Soledad. She seemed to be doing better. We
just had a nice visit.

Saturday: Today was a great day. I read General Conference talks in
the morning. I really liked one by Sister Elaine S. Dalton. It was
called "Love Her Mother." It was for fathers who needed more help on
how to help raise their daughters. Her counsel, obviously, was to love
their wives, and she said how to do it. I feel like I`ve changed a lot
in the Mission. For example, I find every possible chance to love
people, but it`s been so long since I`ve even considered anything
romantic. Romantic was all I aspired to be, before the Mission. but
that`s only part of it. I`ve learned that righteous actions also have
a large rold in everything we do. Things like dligence, hard work,
honesty, REAL love--charity (being able to see people as who they
really are, and loving the bad as well as the good), patience, and
being able to accept the Lord`s will in all things. That came out of
nowhere. I`m grateful for revelation. See there? The Lord just helped
me see that I`ve learned really good things. I can remember specific
instances when I learned those attributes. I treasure all of the
opportunities I have had, to be able to progress. I`m feeling the
Spirit so strongly right now! I know Heavenly FAther loves me, and
that all of my life has a Plan, and that it`s for my happiness. As I
become aware of the happiness that the Spirit can bring, I am trying
to encourage Elder Brady to be better. But he`s just getting angrier.
I went with Elder Smith to a downhill biking event (with Pres`s
permission). We worked extra hard during the week so we could have
time to go. It was free. They had some really good riders. In the
afternoon/evening, we cleaned the Chapel.

Sunday: Toiday was a vbery good SAbbath Day. We started it out by
going to our correlation meeting with the Branch Mission Leader. Elder
Smith and his comp. weren`t ready on time, so they weren`t there. So,
we got chewed out for Elder Smith`s actions on Thursday. Hno. Neira
also told Elder Brady to stop looking so darn depressed all the time,
and to start studying Spanish. Elder Brady continued to stare blankly,
unaware he was being spoken to. It was 5th Sunday, so we started out
with everyone together. Pres. Rojas put a black dot on the otherwise
blank whiteboard. He asked us what we saw. A lot of people said, "A
black dot." He asked if we wouldn`t rather like to see all the white.
He said, "Sometimes we see only the black dot in our Brothers and
Sisters, instead of the vast white background." I realized I may be
one of the "spot" people, so I think that`s something else I want to
work on, for myself. An RM asked, "If you had a child on a train
track, listening to their headphones, and they couldn`t hear your
shouts of warning, would you leave them there saying, "Oh, they have
their agency?" Or would you take their earbuds, pick them up, or take
some other action?" It was a good example of good parenting skills
I`ll keep forever. Judging from yesterday`s entry, as well as a lot of
times in personal study, I`ve found that writing=revelation. If we
aren`t writing, we aren`t learning. Same thing goes for school. We had
yummy tomato pasta for lunch. In the afternoon, we got a call from a
member from concepción, who was visiting here, and asked for a
blessing for his mom. We met up at the church. The mom recently had
her leg amputated, and she had a foot-long stick coming out of her
neck (she never explained it). In the blessing (for a head and tummy
ache) I gave her, it sounded like I was preparing her and her family
for death. That`s a first. I hope everything goes well.


Monday: Today was a wonderful Pday. I was the first one up, and I just
walked through the apartment, enjoying the feeling of nothing to do.
We went to write the family, but my family hadn written me yet, so we
planned to return in the afternoon. Hna. Pinar wrote me and says she
misses me and that it`s not the same without me there. Fernanda told
me it`s her mom`s b-day this Sunday, and that I HAVE to call. :) We
discovered that the 4 of us are almost out of cash, and the rest of
our moeny is on our cards. The buses to our Meeting only take cash,
and I have enough for my comp. and I to make the trip there. It`s
scary because the only ATM in the city is closed. We returned to
writing the family, and found out that Daddy now has a cold. My
favorite email was from Cassie (friend). She worried about me, and, to
comfort me, she used a Scripture I shared with her...a YEAR ago! She
remembered! She wanted to open her b-day letter so bad, that Tina had
to take it away. My hijo threatened to do the same thing when I got my
b-day letter from her. We did contacts in the evening, and had a good
time talking with people.

Tuesday: Alright, so today was the best day I`ve had in 2 months. Oh!
I`m so happy. I`ve been so focused on the principles of sacrifice and
Go`s love for us, lately. today, I finally was able to put them into
practice. In my District Meeting, I had everyone analyze the
"Christlike Attributes" in PMG and choose their weakest one. Elder
Smith and I tied for "Diligence." My next-worst was patience. This
week, we`re all going to improve our attributes and become real
disciples of Christ. I`m really worried about Elder Smith. He`s too
casual with the Gospel, and laughed at me when I tried to motivate
them to be better. We had french fries with Hna. Soledad for lunch.
Yum. Elder Smith started to annoy me with inappropriate talk, and I
then got upset at myself for not being patient with him. So I tried
better, and got better. we started a fast for a greater desire for
good and for Daddy`s health. We were heading out to do contacts, and
Elder Smith was saying somethign contrary, but my comp. said, "I want
to do contacts with Elder Merrell!" I was so happy for him! We set an
appt. with our first contact. Our last contact (Diligence PWN!) was
really special. He was a drunk kid, but we were able to "astonish"
(Matt. 7:28) him. He kept asking about 2012 and the end of the world.
He also admitted he was smoking and drinking. He wasn`t sure if he
should follow God or tuck those beliefs away. I asked for the Lord`s
help . I had the impression he was nervous of being held accountable
for sins. I taught him of being able to repent, be baptized and
receive a remission of those sins. Then, he was really interested. It
was like a switch had been flipped. He invited us back for another
day. I`m grateful for the Lord`s help with me and my weaknesses.

Wednesday: Today wasn`t as productive as yesterday, but I was still
able to learn a few important things. I`ve discovered that I really am
happier when I choose the right. I`ve gotten much better at
recognizing the Spirit`s promptings, too. I realized that most times,
when I don`t choose the right, it`s because I stop and think, "Oh, but
this other thing might be fun," or something. But it`s like in one of
those shows where, objectively, you know everything that`s going on
and what the character should do. You know what he needs, but he still
chooses wrong. I figured I know what I need and what will happen if I
don`t do it. So, I`m not even going to consider following my own
desires and passions when I get a prompting. If the Spirit says, " "
that`s what I`m going to do. I was reading some conference talks. One,
by Elder Uchtdorf, taught me another lesson. Pride is one of the most
dangerous sins. It`s about competition. There are two extremities
Satan uses to attack: making us feel more important than otheres, and
making us feel less important and feel alone. But the solution to both
of those is selfless/humble service (Mosiah 3:19). I love being able
to help others. We had lunch with the Llancapan family. I bought a
choc. bar for Hno. Llancapan`s b-day. Afterward, I searched our map
for 45 min. trying to find our contact`s house for our appt. We never
found it, and that means we never showed up. Dang it! Wep re still
trying to be better missionaries, though. I hope Elder Brady can
change. It seems everyone`s apathetic in this house but me.

Thursday: This morning was normal: Elder Maldonado and I were up while
the other two alept. Haha. It`s kind of sad. When Elder Arjona called
he had some important announcements. The biggest one was that Elder
Hall`s going home, on Tuesday, because of his sickness. Elder Arjona
wants everyone who can to meet with them, in Concepción to say
goodbye. I spent the next hour coordinating with the other District
Leaders, so Elder Hall wouldn`t overhear. I asked Elder Arjona if he
knew his next comp. He said no, but it would be really weird if one of
us from Curanilahue became his comp., but he`d find out on Saturday.
Elder Corliss said I+ d hate him for not telling me something, but I`d
find out on Saturday. He thinks I`ll be zone Leader. Ha! I guess we`ll
see. We had lunch with Hna. María Rivas. She always makes home-made
cherry juice. It`s sooooo good, especially after being in the heat for
so long. We had an appt. with a young man, John, we met the other day.
I went with Elder Maldonado, so I wouldn`t have to teach alone. John
wasn`t home, so we knocked doors on another street for a few hours. We
got one appt. with a lady, Veronica. We found an inactive member that
has baptism-age children that aren`t baptized. his name`s oscar, and
he`s really nice. We had our weekly game night with the ward. We
played soccer and tennis. When we got home, Pablo called me. He`s been
in Santiago for a few weeks. He said he has a friend, Catelín, who
wants us to invite her to church. I told him we`d go by tomorrow.
Tender mercies of the Lord are wonderful.

Friday: Today was a good, if uneventful, day. Actually, Elder smith
told me of some disturbing news. Apparently, there`s a bill being
passed back home, that will outlaw internet copyright
infringement--for media, information, etc. I didn`t think much of it
until he tol dme that if it gets passed we could lose websites like
Google, yahoo, and wikipedia. This is huge! Elder Smith and I went to
lunch together. Today, the Relief Society had a party at the city
pool. So we walked out there to pick up our bagged lunch and then
walked back. As we walked, Elder Smith told me how public gymns work
and how great they are. He taught me a little about weightlifting,
too. we had peeled potatoes with a lettuce-tuna salad. We bought a
completo to help it go down easier. Elder Maldonado went out with me
in the afternoon. We went by Catelín`s house, so we could get to know
her and invite her to church like Pablo asked us to do. But her dad
came out and told us she works in Concepción on weekdays, and that
we`d have to return tomorrow. He wasn`t that cordial with us, but
we`re going to come back anyway. We found, in a newspaper, that
"megaupload.com" was closed yesterday. Since that`s where most of
Chile gets it`s music/any media, it was pretty big. If the bill does
go through, and we can`t use google, then college is going to be very
hard. Holy Smokes!

Saturday: Today was a productive day. WE got up and did our workouts
and studies. Elder Maldonado aske dme if I could beat his push-up
record. I did, and then Elder Smith beat me. That`sfine. I built for
moving and jumping and stuff. I went out with Elder Maldonado, in the
morning, to visit some of his old contacts and try and help them
progress. wE didn`t find any. and we had to climb a staircase of...I
don`t know how many stairs, but we went up a 1/4 mile. Whew! We had
lunch with the Riffo family. wE found out that the 60 year-old brother
has been working 18-hour shifts for a week, (4 PM-10 AM) and he still
comes to church! After lunch, he put on a serious face and said,
"Don`t get me wrong Elders, we`re happpy to have you here. Very happy.
But--" Right there, I thought he ws gonig to chew us out for
something, as a LOT of people like to do in this country. But he said
this, "Please forgive us for not having more." He actually thought we
cared about that, and wanted to serve us more. This brother is one of
the best examples of Christ-like humility that I`ve seen. Elder
Corliss had told me a story of a peasant boy who saw a man standing by
a shiny car. He asked the owner if it was his. The man said he`d
bought it for his brother who wasn`t doing so well. The boy said, "I
wish," and the man thought he would wish for a brother to buy him
things. But tears came to his eyes as he said, "I wish I could BE a
brother like that." I`m going to try and be like that for my family.
We couldn`t find Catelín. We were walking around. We passed an old
lady on a park bench, and her smile was sweet with a little bit
of...hope(?) in it. So I turned around (imagine that image of a
missionary doing a 180 on the sidewalk to talk to someone. Weird) and
spoke with her. He rname`s María, and she and her husband would love
for us to visit them. In the evening, we cleaned the Chapel. Then I
helped Elder Brady prepare for the talk that he has to give tomorrow.

Sunday: today was less than awesome, but still ended well. for our
class in Priesthood we had to have read "Counsel for the Youth" by
Boyd K. Packer. It was a rally good message from the last conference.
He said that even though bad, scary things may be happening in the
world, IF we heed the promptings of the Spriit, we will be protected.
That`s a huge promise. He said that "hearing" the voice of the Spirit
is more of a feeling. Elder Brady did well on his talk. We had lunch
with a part-member family. I didn`t know that. When Elder Smith
introduced himself, I said, "He had the second vision." The non-member
21 year-old said, "What?" Realizing he wasn`t a member, I quickly
said, "What?" like I hadn`t heard right, and moved on. In the
afternoon, I asked everyone to help clean the apartment for Elder
Corliss and his comp. that were going to be staying with us tonight.
No one helped for a while. Elder Smith and Elder Brady joined later.
We had to take the clothes today. I asked Elder Smith to wait for me.
He walked right out the door. My comp. and I left later. They waited a
1/4 mile later. I didn`t speak `cause I felt like Elder Smith just
didn`t respect me and had not cared what I had to say. He even said so
when I told him what bothered me. He said that he hadn`t heard me aske
him to wait, and told me I shouldn`t be so sensitive. He called me a
baby and aske if I`d do that to my wife. He said I should grow up. He
just kept attacking, blowing the whole thing out of proportion. I said
nothing and couldn`t sto pthe tears. Elder Brady swore at Elder Smith
for the 2 months of bullying that I`ve endured from Elder Smith. (
hadn`t realized it for what it was). I cried all the way home and the
other two stayed to see the laundry sister. I didn`t want to be angry,
so I made Elder Smith`s be dand folded hi sclothes. He apologized when
he got home. Hna. Soledad asked to speak with us (Elder Smith and I)
in person, at 10 PM. She told us about a serious marriage problem that
she had(and it is serious). She doesn`t know what to do. I was like,
"Please, Heavenly Father, help me help her." I gave her som eadvice,
then a Priesthood blessing of comfort. She said she felt the Spirit as
I blessed her. I called my convert, Sabrina, and my Chilean mom, Maite
Millahual, to wish them both Happy Birthday.