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
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 nice.
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.
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 tomorrow.
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 Missionary.
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 brother.
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.