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

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Mission Presidents


Monday: Today was my first Pday in Los Angeles. We wokie up and headedover to a chapel in the Los Angeles North Zone to play a little Soccerwith them. It was exhausting and I realized that I haven`t reallyimproved my skill at playing soccer, regardless of how much better Iunderstand the game. So, I opted out ofo playing after a little while.Lisonbee and I played catch with his frisbee instead. :) Hna. Barillasand Hna. Alvarez joined us. We got hungry after a bit, and got somecold cheese sandwiches, which are a lot tastier than a lot of peoplegive them credit for. When we all left, we headed to a local shop andgot 3 ft. long completos. I`m pretty sure that that made my day, andmade me feel all manly and stuff. Don`t look at me like that. We wrotethe family and, although everyone wrote seperately, all of themsaidthey missed me and schemed individual plans for when I get back.Sheesh! They`re almost as trunky as I am. I miss them lots. Lindsayand Cassie are enjoying their alst summer there. We tried to pass bysome of the News from last week, but no one answered.Tuesday: Today was alright. We had a really cool spiritual experiencein the afternoon. We went to our Distrizona and spoke as leaders (withmy dear Elder Lisonbee :)). I got some pointers on how to be a betterand more powerful leader. We had a class in our District and I wasable to keep it more under control than last week. I found out thattwo Elders are not getting along. I`ll try and do divisions with themthis week. But after the Meeting, they asked me for some money to getthem back to their sector. Maybe I`ll wait until money comes in. Inthe afernoon, we went by a contact from a few weeks ago. His name`sJorge. He pays attention when we talk. We taught him the Restorationand he accepted it. After the First Vision, he said he felt it wastrue. He said he saw it happen in his mind. He said that pictersdon`t matter to him. When that feeling entered his heart, he said noone can take that away from him. HOw wonderful the Gospel is, to beable to testify in such an utterly POWERFUL way. Sure, people rebelagainst Joseph Smith just because. But Jorge was so receptive. Iinvited him to be baptized and he said, "taht would be fantastic!" Iwas so happy for him. We paid the price last week. Now we`re going toharvest.Wednesday: I`m enjoying my time here, in Los Angeles. It`s not aswindy when it rains, and that makes it a lot easier to endure. We didcontacts in the morning and only two people out of about 20 answeredtheir door, and they only did it to give us a waggle of their fingers.That`s not cool. We had lunch with a Sister, Hna. Amstein. She`sfrickin` vicious! She didn`t smile once, made fun of my comps spanish,and treated us in a very hostile manner. But I guess we Missionarieshave to come down from our polished and oh so stylish pedestals thatrepresent the glamorous lives we live...HA! We had our firstInterviews with Pres. Martinez today. It went really well. He told methat I had stood out to him right away, with my great big smile andenthusiasm to help (I may or may not have been playing tag with hiskids that day). But he also said I was a charismatic person. I`m notgonna lie, that`s AWESOME. My personality from before the Missioncould have been described by the word, "blah." I didn`t know who Iwas. I wasn`t sure abou thte things I did. I din`t have room to grow.And now people think I`m an outgoing , confident and charismaticperson. Isn`t that something? I`m so thankful for the lord and theblessings of our specific needs that he gives us through trials.Thursday: REmember when I said I wouldn`t have any more "hard days"because I knew what to look fore, and how to learn from them? yeah,well, Heavenly Father sent me a tiny dose of humility and humanity.The whold, "I am nothing, for I am man" vibe was going on a bunchtoday. gotta love it! jThere are several people that we can only teachon Thursdays: one was sick, another out of town, and the last one hada relative die. It was freezing and then it started to rain. We didhave a delicious lunch of mashed potatoes and cartilage-free beef.Mmm! During language study, I dried my things next to our Propaneheater. And I mean RIGHT next to it. Theh hood melted into crunchplastic. There was a leak in my left shoe that let water in, and ontop of all that, I got a cold. To the forces of evil, I say unto thee,"bite me." We kept going on, trying to find people.. We knocked allafternoon. Every single person told us they were busy! We couldn`thave a conversation with anyone. My comp. and I were down, despite ourundefeatable optimism and tenacious never-surrenderness. Okay, I madethat last word up. But at least the night ended dry. It stoppedraining.Friday: As I got through the Mission, and life in general, it`sinteresting to see the blessings that come after really hard times.Some-tiems, regardless of whether we`re obedient or disobedient, theLord sees fit to try us or even chasten us becuase he knows what hewants us to become and he wants us to push our limits so we can getthere. it`s like we`re constantly doing push-ups, and every once in awhile, we have to do a few while carrying a cinderblock on our bareback. it`s heavy and the sharp edges may make it even more unpleasant.But our muscles will grow and the skin will callous. We payed theprice yesterday, and today we were blessed immensely. We got intoabout 5 houses, and they all wanted us to come back. We had a membercome out with us and we got to teach a lot of other people with themas well. I got to know Scarlet and Gustavo, our investigators. They`regoing to get married in January, so they can get baptized. We helpedher understand what the true church of Christ had in it`s primitivestate. She`s already received an answer, now we`re resolving doubts.Saturday: We did a lot of walking today. We woke up, got ready,studied (still working on my marking system), and planned. We scrapedthe dregs of all the people we could possibly visit and invite tochurch. Almost all of them fell through. Humph! We actually had anauto-contact. That`s where you walk up to a house and before you evenyell (they don`t knowck doors here), the person comes out to tell you,"no." That happened to us, and we both thought it was hilarious andsad. We ate lunch witha socially awkward (weird) family that had 7cats in their home. Then we went back and forth, between all of ourappts. that fell. I`m tired. Something interesting, when a mom and her3 year-old daughter came out of their gate, the daughter immediatelylooked to her left, at us, down the street. Then she tried to walk tous. Her spirit got to Earth just a while ago. Maybe she can recognizeGod`s servants more readily than others. We bought a completo `causewe were tired and hungry. I only had enough for one, and Elder Burchhad nothing. So I bought the completo for him. But the guy gave us two(before we had paid). When we told him we only ordered one, and thatwe couldn`t afford more, he took it back. But he returned and said,"It`s already made," and gave it to me. We shared a bit of the Plan ofSalvation with him and his family.Sunday: Today was a good day. We went to pick up Lucinda, aless-active member. But when we got to her house, she had just gottenup...again. This was the 4th time ina row. We won`t do it next week.scarlet and Viviana came to church. None of the news we were hopingfor showed up, even thought they said they would. the family Lopez,with whom we had lunch, lives far away, so they just made lunch in theChapel. Then I had to give our numbers and those of my District to theZone Leaders. We`d finished Yesterday, and the Sisters were good, too.But Elders Cotrell and Gomez failed horribly. Elder Cotrell took it lightly, like it didn`t matter. I learned that if I don`t want him totake it lightly, I can`t take it lightly. I told him that work wasunacceptable to the Lord and that he should go work super hard today.We did, too. I called Elder Montalbàn. He is so awesome. I miss him.He said his girlfriend of six years dumped him. That sucks. He alsosaid that Josè and Marìa are getting baptized. Josè`s whole family isgoing to church, too. Calaway and I found him as a late-night contact.I feel like a bad missionary, `cause it seems like things got better,right when I left. Was I holding my comp. back? I miss him. He`s soawesome. But I guess I can`t be so selfish to assume that everythingrevolves around me. Maybe the new Elder that arrived when I leftneeded this experience more than I do.



Monday: I woke up this morning and it was freaking cold! I couldn`t
get warm, even under my blankets. Elder Chavez was the first one up
today. I watched him from my bed as he turned on music, put on his
Aviators, and danced by himself. He`s excited to see his family
tomorrow. That`s such a crazy thought. I think about my family
sometimes, but I can`t really remember their faces and voices. We
picked Elder Montalbàn up from the office, where he`d dropped Chavez
off. I got a letter from Kevin and my Bible. Only problem? It`s in
english. Crap. We tried to play bowling with some other missionaries,
but all of the lanes were occupied for the next three hours. Boof! I
said goodby to the cruz family first. I didn`t cry. I felt really
calm. We had banana cream pie. They`re such a wonderful family.
Maritza, the inactive one, hugged me and as I went to leave, she came
outside and dragged me back in. She`s like 50-something, so it`s okay.
Then we went to the Novoa`s, where the whole ward was waiting. They
took turns commonting on me and thanking me. I gave Paloma my earmuffs
`cause she always stole them. She was glowing. I love being able to
serve. It all comes back to get you. I`m so full of love right
now--and sleepiness. I finished packing at 1:30. WOOT!

Tuesday: Yesterday, I told Elders MOntalbàn and Calaway that we had to
leave at 8:00, to get to the terminal at 9:00. Well, we all woke up at
7:50! I was glad I`d gotten all of my stuff packed last night. Even
still, we left at 8:20! We said a prayer, asking Heavenly Father to
help us get there on time. We got off the Micro bus and went right
through the Terminal, to the loading bay. I got on the bus on it`s way
out. Prayer answered! I got off the bus and Elder Palmer, one of my
good friends, helped with my bags. Elder Burch is a great comp. He`s
happy, humble, and loves to work. This is his fourth transfer in
Avenida Alemania. We had lunch in the middle of a forest. It was
Enchanting. :) their house was just like a gringo house. they took
care of their property and it wasn`t just painted plywood. It was so
unchilean. the sector is an uptown one where all the people are dang
rich. We did 40 contacts and only 10 opened their doors. It`s gonna be
pretty hard, it looks like. But there`s work to do, and I`m happy to
do it. We celebrated Elder Burch`s birthday. Our house is smaller but
taller. We live in the 2nd story of an apartment. Building. Elder
Lisonbee is in the sector next to mine. He`s training a gringo! We`ll
be District Leaders in the same zone!

Wednesday: We got up and went to the DistrizonaBut I should note that
this shower doesn`t hate me. Lisonbee is training an Elder who was
originally from Elder Burch`s MTC District. He came back, and he`s
awesome. I knew that Elder Lisonbee and I would be two of the District
Leaders in Los Angeles, but we`re actually the ONLY District Leaders.
Elders Tonumaipei`a and Decker are the Zone Leaders. They talked us
up. they said that, as leaders, we are expected to have 2 baptisms a
month, `cause Leaders lead from the front, not the back. That sunds
really hard, but if the Lord thinks I can do it, then I`ll just have
to put in more effort. We went to buy groceries with lisonbee...and we
ran into OVERSBY!!! That was fun. We had an ENORMOUS lunch. I`m sure
the Sister wants to fatten me up. ooph. We did a lot of contacts. For
Sanctification Week, we`re trying to focus on getting into 25 houses
for the week. We got into 2 today. It`s pretty hard to get people to
come out. But we`re creative. WE say that we want to sing hymns with
them, say a prayer, or even using their bathroom. One guy wouldn`t let
my comp. got #1. Elder Burch got offended by him. :) Two of his
converts threw a little b-day party for him. They gave him an Eastern
Island head made of onyx. It`s awesome.

Thursday: Today was a really good day. We got up, and my comp. wasn`t
feeling really well. He took a hot shower and felt better. I had a
good time reading the beginning of 2 Nephi in Spanish. I`m marking all
the places where it testifies of Christ. It`s such a great feeling. We
planned for all of our people. I got to call all the people in my
District to get their numbers. I went to call and report to the Zone
Leaders. They needed some info. but no the numbers. They said that
it`s only for me, so that I can measure how my DIstrict`s doing and
help them as I see fit. I didn`t know that. It`s a pretty heavy thing
to think about. We went to lunch,k and I didn`t really talk much. We
did contacts for a while before we met Hna. Pinar, the Relief Society
President. She`s really nice. We got to teach Sabrina, on of our
investigators, The Plan of Salvation. She needs her Dad`s permission.
She`s wanted it since February. Elder Burch is going to want the whole
Ward to fast on the 7th of August. He loves her. She`s just a sweet 11
year-old girl. He`s just such a wonderful comp. He`s a soft teacher,
and humble. I love him. We did more contacts. Right now, we`re
listening to Elder Skousen`s talk again. I feel the Spirit.

Friday: Today was a really good day. We got up and got ready for the
day. We worked really hard before lunch. We did a TON of contacts.
Elder burch likes to throw pass along cards inside the fences of
people who don`t answer their doors. I showed him a different way to
throw them, so they`d go farther. Oh! i had 2 nightmares, last night,
about the same thing. I dreamed I was home after the Mission, and
everyone said that I was still the same, `cause I was being rude and
impolite. I don`t want to be that person anymore. I`m not. I think
that would be the horror of condemnation: not being able to change. I
don`t know why that dream shook me so much. We had lunch with the
Rodriguez family. They live in, I kid you not, a freaking castle. It`s
huge! While we were there, I commented on something political without
thinking, and the Sister gave me a 2-hour history lesson until I
finally saw reason. Sheesh! As we were walking, later, I wasn`t
watching where I was walking, and I ran into a sign. OUTCH! One of our
interesting contacts was to an Asian-looking woman who was looking out
her 2nd storywindow. A few seconds into it, she told us she didn`t
speak spanish. She`s from California. We taught in English, an I loved
it! Her name`s Christine, and she might come to church. She wants a

Saturday: I`m really tired. We`ve gotten ino 4 houses this whole week.
We`ve finished all of our other goals for the week, early, because of
how much we`ve been pushing ourselves to find new people. Our legs
hurt and our eyelids are like a pair of fuzzy anvils. We did lots of
contacts in the morning, but nothing came of it. For lunch, a Sister
took us to a restaurant, paid the waitress and left before we`d even
ordered. I think it`s very ineffective. The only reason we eat lunch
with Members is to ask references. Besides that, we like to share
Scriptures and leave prayers on their homes and families. As we were
looking for some ancient investigators from the Area Book, a huge dog
tried to eat/maime me. It was a wholly...terrifying and
adrenaline-inducing experience. We saw some police cops on horses. We
tried to DISCREETLY take pics. We must have been less than perfect
because they asked if we wanted to pose with (on top of) the horses.
Awesome! Then, two more arrived on motorcycles and we posed on them,
too. I realized that I`ve looked forward to transfers with the hope
that I`ll go to an easier sector. But all of my transfers have only
taken me to harder sectors. But I also see how necessary it`s been. So
this time, I won`t get down. I`ll stick to it and learn as much as I
can. I`m thankfl that I can grow.

Sunday: I discovered something today: I was extremely blessed to have
had the Ward I did, in Hualpencillo. We got a ride with the Elders`
Quorum Pres. to go pick up an inactive Sister. She was still in bed.
Lame. I actually really like the Elders` Quorum Pres, Hno. Pinar, and
his wife, too. But we got to know the rest of the Ward soon enough.
One brother, Hno. Mencilla, was a real jerk to my comp. We were taking
off all of our coats and everything, and he said, "Elder Burch, you
need to take off your scarf, you`re in the Sacrament hall." Then he
told me to tell my comp. to take off his coat to show proper respe t
to the Lord. He was already doing it! Some people might have seen it
as a joke, but he wasn`t smiling. He just like to tell us what to do.
He then tol dus that he was good friends with Our mission president,
and would tell if we ever messed up. I straight up told him that I
didn`t appreciate being threatened, and that I was here to work and
serve the Lord. Nothing else. The Sister we had Lunch with didn`t come
and Elder Burch said that she sometimes gets mad at the missionaries.
What did they DO to this ward?! There are some nice members, bt th
amount of gossip is just crazy . It rained all afternoon.


Monday: Pday mornings are awesome. All week is spent waking up and
fighting bed-magnets and arrive exhausted at night. But sleeping in
until 8:30 on pday is so great. Elder Calaway is one of my best
friends in the mission and I look up to him a lot. After that, we went
to the office to look for mail. There wasn`t any. I should be getting
a letter/package next week. I`ve been expecting a letter from Jess for
6 weeks. I think it`s lost. We used internet to write the family. I
had 3 letters from Mom and Dad. They had a fun 4th of July in Payson
Lake with Dev. They have an inflatable motorboat, too! Devin wants to
get his mission fund ready by the time he`s 16. He`s always been
better with moeny than me. Daddy said he`s going to make a tape for
me, and send it to me. I`m really excited for that. Alan sent me some
Scriptures that he compared to us, to show that we`re best friends. I
love him. We went to Hna. Rebecca`s son`s birthday. He`s 3. While
there, they wanted to hear me play a song on their violin. It was
"less bad" after I warmed up, but not anywhere near "good." It is
nothing like riding a bike. We ended up at the Solis family`s. They`re
so awesome. My time here has been really special.

Tuesday: We got up and got some breakfast from the bakery. I got bread
with patè (creamed meat). One tube of patè serves 3 breads for me.
Everyone knows it. Elder Chavez took some for 2 of his breads even
when I asked him not to. I offered him some juice and he declined,
saying he didn`t want to take my stuff. My comp. told me to keep
cool--that he just likes to push buttons. We received sounsel at
Distrizona. After that, we got my comp s batman PJ`s and Elder
Montalbàn`s Flash PJ`s. We ate with Hna. Marìa. While there, Hna.
Soledad told us she`d had two neighbors commit to coming to church on
Sunday. One is the Mom of Josuè`s (Soledad`s son) Classmate. They`re
both about 6-ish. Josuè is the only one in class that raises his hand.
He said he learned it in his church. This mom wants her daughter to
have the same standards. We were really impressed with Josuè`s
example. We did a contact where a big, white-haired man opened up and
hated us. He told us we were wasting our time and should go back to
our country. We talked a little more and found out that he hasn`t had
a job in a month. He wants help, but doesn`t know what to do. He
accepted a return appointment. It`s so amazing to see the changes that
love can make happen. There was another Soccer game and the streets
were deserted. But we found someone to let us in and we shared with t
hem. We won Pero 1-0!

Wednesday: Today, we had a really cool experience with Marìa. Our
District Leader, Elder Demke, told us yesterday that we need to have
more lessons with Members. Taking that to heart, we took Hna. Teresa
with us to teach Marìa the Plan of Salvation. When she opened the
door, I said, "We brought a friend for you." I didn`t think anything
of it at first. But a few minutes later, Marìa told us that not 10
minutes before, she had asked Heavenly Father for a friend because
she`s having hard times. Marìa and Teresa hugged and cried
together--instantly friends. Women. Go figure. I was happy to tell her
that her FAther has a Plan just for her. Teresa was talking a lot,
helping Marìa understand better. We were invited by the Solis family,
in Bio Bio, to have lunch with them. It was seasoned potatoes with
really tender, delicious beef. It was the exact opposite of Chilean
food: flavorful. It was great. It got really windy and rainy in the
afternoon. We taught Josè. Near the end of the lesson, he asked which
church was the true one. We`ve taught him the REstoration twice
already! I just feel like an ineffective teacher sometimes. But he`s
80, so who knows? We did lots of contacts and taught in the streets.
Then we had correlation with the WArd. We took pictures with our
superhero PJ`s.

Thursday: Today was pretty hard for me. I got up on time and studied
all morning. Everyone got up later and joined me. But I had a problem.
I didn`t want to stop reading for our weekly Planning. Everyone was
still showering and doing other things. I just kept going, and we
started our planning late. We did that, and headed into the freezing
rain. My rain suit`s zipper broke, so I got soaked. Lunch was an hour
late. We din`t have any appointments afterward, so we did our language
study. I was so full that I fell into a food coma for a half hour. My
comp. woke me up right as I got to the deep sleeping part. I opened my
groggy eyes and mumbled, "grrr, buggit, flitzmajigger." before I got
fully awake. It was really hard. After that, I thought how nice it
would be, to be home after the MIssion, sleeping in and being with my
family instead of pleading with people to let us in to their homes and
out of the chilling and unescapable water. I pretty much didn`t have
the Spirit. I wanted to be happy. I felt guilty for even having those
thoughts, which was just another burden on my back. In the morning, I
read "More than conquerors through Him that loves us," and "As many as
I love, I chasten and Rebuke," from the most recent Conference. They
said that our trials are for our benefit and are very personal--almost
laser-guided to direct our lives to strengthen the weakest parts of
our souls. I feel like today was one of "those days."

Friday: Today was a bit better than yesterday. We got up and got ready
for the day. Then we went to go teach Marìa the SAbbath Day. She
accepted it and promised to go to Church as often as possible. It
wasn`t as exciting of a lesson because she accepted it so easily.
Haha. Can`t believe I just said that. We had lunch with the Bishop`s
wife after doing some Permaneced. Then we came back to the house to
clean up a little bit, because tonight we got to be put with members
as companions for 48 hours. While we were cleaning, the Assisstants
called us. They said that both Elder Calaway and I will be District
Leaders next transfer! That`s crazy business! We talked to Josè and
told him that he needed to pray. Then we went to the Villa Acero
chapel to pick up our new comps. Mine is Julio Càrcamo. We went back
to the sector--me with Julio and Elder Calaway with his comp.--to
preach. My comp. is very quiet...for now. He was baptized 2 years ago.
It is a lot of work to be with a newbie. I must have been a real pain
to Barajas. We have people to teach, but not enough for two
companionships. So it looks like we`re going to do lots of contacts
tomorrow. We`re going o work and be extra super obedient.

Saturday: We had a real adventure today. We did EVERYTHING exactly
obediently. And we saw results because of it. We also found out our
transfers. But we got up and I got to teach Elder Càrcamo how to study
effectively and WHY we do it. I explained hwo and why we plan and make
goals. It`s a really weird feeling to be teaching from this
perspective. Being the more-experienced missionary, who knows the
moves and everything...well maybe not everything. Aslan, Ghost, and
Gimpy (the dogs that follow us every day) followed us and Elder
Càrcamo thought it was funny. We had lunch and then came home to study
the Language. I just read the Book of Mormon in Spanish. We didn`t get
to visit any of the appointments we planned. So we went to Bio Bio`s
baptism, too. Elder Chavez comleted 2 years today. That made me miss
home. We did contacts all afternoon. We got into 4 houses and found
some really cool people. I was really greateful to have been able to
have had this today, to show Elder Càrcamo the joy of the Mission
Work. My transfer will take me to Los Angeles South, to the sector of
"Avenida Alemania" (german avenue).I`ll be a District Leader with
Elder Burch, there. They`re splitting the Zone of Talcahuano into 2
zones, and Elder Meyr will be the new Assisstant. Elde rCalaway can`t
believe it.

Sunday: Today was a really really good day. We headed off to church,
but stopped by Mirta`s on the way. We heard shouting in the hosue
before she came out with tears in her eyes. Her dad was being a jerk.
Josè and Marpia came to church, along with Josè`s nanny and her two
kids. The Lord blessed us a lot for the hard work we did this last
week of the transfer. I want to finish my Mission like that. I said
goodbye to the WArd. I`d also written about 16 individual letters to
people I really care for. I loved seeing their eyes light up as they
saw that someone cared for them. I like doing that for people. I made
two people cry with them. Haha. I droppe doff Mirta and gave her one
of my nametags. She gave me a hug. I hope she stays well. In her
farewell she wrote me, it was almost pure testimony. She`s totally
gonna get sealed in the Temple. We went to the Villa Acero chapel to
drop off our temporary comps. He was really prideful near the end.
Wouldn`t listen. It was a little difficult at times. While there, we
listened to a talk by Pres. Benson. He said MIssion Work is the msot
important thing in the world. Even being sealed to your Eternal wife
should be postponed. I said goodbye to the Silis family. Elder Rubilar
traded me one of Pres. Swenson`s ties. Score! Chile lost the American
Cup to Venezuela.


Monday: Today was the 4th of July, the day of our country`s
independence. We kicked butt. We, as a zone, had an activity with two
other Zones in Playa Blanca, Coronel. We went there, and it was
amazing. It was such good weather and the ocean was so blue. While we
were there, we played American Football and Ultimate Frisbee--two
sports that aren`t played in Chile. I felt very patriotic. I was
running pretty much all day long. I`m all tuckered out. For lunch, we
had choripanes, which are like mini hot dogs, but with smoked pork
sausage. We also had real hamburgers! All of the "hamburgers" I`ve
htried to buy before have always been too lacking in substance. But
today was legit. After lunch, Elder Kemp tied his American flag tie to
a light post and we sang the National Anthem to it. At the end, a
bunch of Elders pointed to the beach, where a man was standing with a
foot-long flare gun on his hsoulder, like a bazooka and shot a single
flare 300 meters out, into the ocean. It was so cool! We enjoyed the
situation for a while. We wrote the family but they hadn`t written.
Cassie (friend) wished me a happy 4th of July. We couldn`t find a our
way home for a while. The buses were weird. Nobody let us in, in the
night, because of a soccer game against Mexico. Looks like we won 2 to

Tuesday: I have 14 months in the mission. I can hardly believe it. 1
year ago from right now, I was in an airplane over the Gulf of Mexico.
I remember it so clearly, it seems like just like last week. I`ve been
in Chile for ALMOST a year. I`m fluent in Chilean and have come so
close to the Lord. I`m so grateful for the changes the Lord has worded
in me. I`m a better man and son of God thanks to him. We had a
conference to meet our new mission Pres., President Martinez. He has a
great sense of humor and I already love him and trust him as a leader.
It`s different, having a president`s wife that doesn`t need a
translator. It`s a cool experience. I felt like Elder Calaway didn`t
want to be my comp. He just seems constantly annoyed by me. But he
said he`s not. Maybe he`s just like that. We did divisions with Bio
Bio. I went with Elder Chavez. We met the father of a less-active
member. His dad answered and said his son was so bad, his wife had
committed suicide. He had a restraining order against his son. How
tragic. I just thought how Adam must have felt after Cain killed Abel.
We taught an investigator and several less-actives. One in particular,
Jessica, didn`t know about the Book of Mormon. We taught her and she
was really receptive. She`s going to read and pray. I learned a lot
from Elder Chavez. He`s a really gentle and sincere. He really knows
how to help others progress and loves the people.

Wednesday: Today I hit my 1-year mark in Chile. I read my journal
entry from a year ago, and I sounded like I was scared halfway out of
my pants! So much has changed in what is really a short period of
time. If I went home right now, I don`t think I`d think any of the
streets back home would feel foreign to me. But, then again, I haven`t
heard much about Provo. WE got up and went to our Distrizona meeting.
There, we committed to bring 3 peopole to church this week. WOOT!
FUEGO! We`re gonna do it! Ovoer the past few days, I`ve been working
on making my Scripture marking system more intricate and broad. I did
that after our lunch. Then we headed out to see Marìa. It had been 2
weeks since we`d seen her. She said that after we`d left, on Sunday,
after coming to pick her up and her declining, she changed her mind
but didn`t know where the church was, so she couldn`t go and she
cried. We focused on her Book of Mormon reading in 3 Nephi 11. It`s a
powerful tool and we helped her identify the Spirit as it was felt.
She accepted a baptisimal date for August 6th...again. Her kid was
noisy and wouldn`t be quiet. He`s like 4. To shut him up, she raised
up her shirt and breast fed him. The weirdest part was how normal it
was. I wasn`t alarmed at all. *sigh* Weird. We passed by Jessica and
pretty much said that we won`t be able to pass by anymore if she
doesn`t progress. Then we had comitè with the Ward.

Thursday: Today went well for us. I woke up, and studied and marked my
Scriptures for like 5 hours straight. I was just going crazy. My comp.
and the Bio Bio missionaries were joking and romping around. They had
a hard time focusing. I found a lot of really good Scriptures and
really enjoyed it. wE planned for a while before going to lunch. AS we
were heading out the door, I was interrupted by a call from Elder
Lisonbee. When I left Temuco, 7 months ago, I left a lot of post-it
notes, saying nice thing sto Lisonbee that he would appreciate--in his
shoes, backpack, scriptures, etc. We had small talk for a moment
before he told me he`d found one and it made him smile. That made ME
smile. We taught Franco in the Afternoon. We read 3 Nephi 11 with him
like with Marìa. He had had stomach pains, but I think he understood
enough because he agreed to be baptized on July 30th. We passed by
Hna. Marìa. She said she`d had an interview with the Stake Pres.
yesterday. He wants her to be a Temple Worker...in the Concepciòn
Temple that`s gonna be built here soon! I was so happy for her because
I know of the blessings that come from serving the Lord in such a
sacred way. In the evening, we did lots of contacts. I`ve discovered
that instead of thinking, "What am I doing wrong? after work, I want
to ask myself, "What can i change, to get different results?"
Different words, but they convey the same Idea with happier feelings.

Friday: Today was alright. I woke up late, with a saore throat. I
think it was a result of vicious snoring. I watched my comp.
exercising and just thought it was too much efffort, too late. But
when I got up at 8:00, my throat really hurt. So I took a cough syrup
I have that numbs. Unfortunately, it was a drowsy medicine. That
pretty much made studying ineffective. But it passed and we planned
for the day. We went to teach Marìa the Word of Wisdom. She
understands that God gives us commandments because he loves us and to
protect us. She told us that she isn`t consuming any of the things
mentioned in the Word of Wisdom. She`s freaking Golden! I still marvel
at the difference in the amount of success we`re having compared to
when I first got here. It makes me happy. WE did contacts all
afternoon. WE didn`t really have any interesting ones today, try as we
might. Today was the 2nd match Chile played in the American cup,
against Uruguay. People werne`t even answering their doors anywhere.
WE went by Josè, to see him. He invited us in to see the match. WEll,
it seemed the most efficient of all the evils. We got confidence with
him. Then we did more contacts afterwards. We ran into Hna. Rojas. She
said she had my captain America Footie-PJ`s ready. I picked them up,
and they`re frickin` awesome!

Saturday: Today was a pretty good day. It was Elder Calaway`s 20th
Birthday. I gave him my wooden oil container I made when I was 15. He
liked it. For study time, I marked a ton of Scriptures and finally
laminated my shortcuts and taped it inside my cover. It`s rally
complicated. Elder Calaway finally found a way to describe me in one
word: Dramatic. I HATE dramatic people, they drive me nuts. This
announcement pretty much bugged me all day. But I was able to see ways
to stop being this way, too. Not waht I can see how I`m acting, I can
start becoming the person I want to be. All in all, it`s avery ironic
situation. WE did contacts in the morning, that didn`t turn out too
well. WE had lunch with Hna. Novoa. She made us lasagna, the delicasy
of the MIssion. Then she served us cake. Everyone said Elder Calaway
had to take a big bite of the cake. He fell for the oldest trick in
the book! As he bent down to bite, they shoved his whole face into the
cake. The Cruz Family also invited us over. We had banana cream pie.
Mmmm. I was thinking about the Mission today, and how I can remember
things from before the mission really well, even though they happened
a year and a half ago. Like Alan`s and my times together. I can still
remember things so clearly. It`s like I haven`t left. But i know
things are different, now.

Sunday: We woke up and went to church. Our goal for the week was to
have 3 peopole come with us. WE had 4 people tell us they`d come. We
were so happy and excited. But when push came to shove, only 1 came.
Josè, our 80 year-old investigator, came to sAcrament Meeting and
Sunday School. He said he liked it. But we were still kind of bummed
out from the other people who broke promises. That`s not cool. It`s 1
week `til the end of the transfer, and probably my time here in
Hualpencillo. A lot of people were like, "You`re going? We don`t want
you to go!" Taht made me feel better. We ate lunch with the
Fruentealba family. While there, we just laughted a lot, `cause we all
had problems talking, tripping over our words and stuff. I don`t know
why it was so funny. wE celebrated Mauricio Novoa`s B-day before going
to Hna. Marìa`s. While there, we spoke with Maritza, her inactive
daughter. She doesn`t go because she doesn`t want to. I tried to teach
her with Scriptures. I didn`t work. Elder Calaway tried empathy,
saying how Church can be boring sometimes. He said he cared for her.
She said she didn`t like him. Said she doesn`t have friends. We went
on to other things, and like 15 min. later, she said that she was
sorry and took it all back. The Spirit had worked on her! Hna. Marìa
said she loved us, too, and we were all crying--except my comp. He
wants to cry but can`t. But he cries on the inside. I think he jus
thas really absorbant eyelids. :)


Tuesday: Today was perfect. We got up and went to Distrizona. There,
we met as Districts and talked about the people we`re teaching. I
shipped off my letters to Estèe and Cassie (friend). We hustled to the
buses to go to lunch. We had yummy rice with ground meat of some sort.
We came home and listened to a talk by Elder Skousen during our
afternoon study session. It talked about the Atonement. Sure, we talk
about the Restoration. But that`s just incidental to the real message:
The atonement. Why did Christ have to be killed in such a horrible
way? Or suffer so much? He showed a scripture that said that it wasn`t
"this much suffering" for "this much sin." It was to move the Father
to feel compassion. It`s ALL about love and mercy. It`s not about
numbers. I was so naive! Still am. ;P Nyuk-nyuk-nyuk. We got into
houses, found new investigators, taught a less-active, and taught
Jessica the sAbbath Day. We taught Denisse the Plan of Salvation. She
understood it all. Then her parents got home. We talked to them. they
said they wanted her to learn more. She`s answered all the questions
in the lesson correctly. I asked her a question to answer. She just
sat there in silence. Dang it! but I`ve learned about myself, in the
mission, that even when I`m stressed on the inside I can keep a cool
poker face. Denisse just lost her baptisimal date but I spoke fluently
and calmly. They`ll speak as a family and pray. I don`t trust the dad.
He lied a few times, but his family called him out. *sigh* But I feel
great for having run from house to house, preaching repentance. WOOT!

Wednesday: Today was amazing! I have been really blessed to be here,
in Huallpen, for this time. When I got here, no doors opened to us.
today and yesterday we`ve been running from appt. to appt. trying to
teach all the people we`ve found. It`s the power of Heaven in the
work. We returned to visit Marìa, a contact from last week. She let us
in and we got to talking. She said she`d been thinking about God and
what Church she should join this very morning. I wanted to start the
lesson after a few minutes, but got the impression that I should
listen more. we got to know her, and how she went to church with her
Grandma when she was 15, some time ago. we taught her the lesson and
got to the First Vision. After I told it, I almost went onto something
else, but, instead, asked how she felt. She didn`t respond right away.
I was on the verge of asking again when I heard a soft voice say, "Not
yet." It was perfectly clear to me. When I looked at Marìa, she was
weeping. She said she remembered her grandma and going to the Temple
and having to stay outside. I testified of Eternal families and the
veracity of our message. She believed it and accepted the invitation
to prepare to be baptized. I know the Spirit was in that lesson and
helped with my own weaknesses. I just had to do my part--try my best.
Pushing my limits for so long is tiring, after a while. We taught some
inactive members and are going to help them on Sunday, so they can
come take the SAcrament. I listened to talks on Temple blessings. They
sound even more wondrous than what I`m seeing now. I can`t wait to go

Thursday: I feel like I`m finally getting it. I feel like I`ve just
been giving it all to the Lord, and getting blessed because of it.
This whole week, we`ve been too busy to do contacts because we`ve been
running around, teaching people who are progressing and coming closer
to their Heavenly Father. That`s all I`ve wanted, since I came on the
mission. I remember not understanding anyone and being a clumsy
teacher. But now I`m talking and joking with the people and teaching
in a foreign language while applying every lesson to the
investigator`s life. God is taking good care of me. We had a fun
contact today. There was a house of bright yellow and red. My comp
made the joke that Rondald McDonald lived there. But when the door
opened, it revealed a man with bloodshot eyes (from drinking) staring
at us with a black look...oh, and he wasn`t wearing a shirt or
pants.While my comp spoke, I let out a snort of laughter because of
the hilarity of it all. I mean OME ON! That`s just CRAZY! We taught
Camily, a 16 year-old witha baby. She`s a year younger than Cassie
(sister), with a child. When we spoke of repentance of sins she said,
"I know one sin. Having relationships before marriage." I was like,
"Yep. You`ve sinned. It`s a fact. Now you have to ask yourself if you
want to get that off your conscience." She`ll keep talking to us. She
said, "I`ll have to stop smoking, huh? That`ll be hard." it will. But
if she wants eternal life with neverending happiness, she`ll be able
to pu her desires in order.

Friday: The days are going by so fast. I discovered that the bottom of
my foot is bruised because the bottom of my shoe is so thin. Those
shoes were still damp this morning from being caught in the storm
yesterday, so I wore my shoes that I`ve been waiting to wear. They`re
supposedly waterproof, but my feet are sometimes damp `cause water
leaks through. Anyway, my feet felt better. We fasted today, for
Denisse. Her parents want her to wait a while. Elder Calaway and his
next comp will be doing a lot of harvesting next transfer. We spoke
with Marìa. We taught the BOM and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. She
believes them. We invited her to prepare for the 6th of August. She
can only come to church every other sunday. She said she`d pray about
the date. We helped Hna. Teresa cut some branches from her very sappy
tree. We had so many mashed potatoes that we couldn`t stand up for a
while. Then we did some contacts. I`m finding it a lot easier to get
into houses. Actually, when we were teaching Marìa, she said that I
should be a professor when I get back, because I explained things so
well. But we both know who the real teacher is. We taught Camila the
Restoration. I don`t think she was putting very much focus in it. When
meeting new investigators, you have to show both authority and
friendliness. That way they trust you. But we may have thrown the
balanc too much to the "friend" side. Dang.

Saturday: Today wasn`t so much "bad" as it was "less awesome." In the
morning, I wrote a letter to Elder Calaway`s parents, thanking them
for raising their son in such a good way. He`s really one of my best
friends here, in the mission. We picked up the clothes and then went
to lunch. After that, we did a lot of contacts sothat we can relax a
little tomorrow. We passed by Hna. Marìa because we haven`t passed by
in a while, and she`s our Mamita. We were totally surprised to find
Jeffrey there. Hna. Marìa always talks about him. He was a missionary
that was "adopted" by her. Out of all the gringos, he`s the only one
that`s come back to Chile. Hna. Marìa has 7 daughters. Her only son
died. Jeffrey has the same birthday as that son. And he was sitting at
her table like it was perfectly normal. It was so cool to talk with a
non-missionary gringo. He brought red and black licorice. It made me
miss English a liot. And home. One of our contacts said if we came to
her church she`d come to ours. We`re thinking about it. She said she`d
already studied with the Jehova`s witnesses and asked what we thought
of "the 144,000." I was impressed with the materieal and references I
was able to pull out. I wouldn`t have been able to do that before the
mission. A few of our appts. fell through. That wasn`t much fun. I
just realized today that I`ve missed 2 of Cassie`s (sister) birthdays
in the mission. I`ll be home for her 18th and for when she graduates.
I miss my family a little bit.

Sunday: We had 6 people to look for, this morning, including some
inactive members and Mirta. NOne of them could go to church. MIrta was
the only one who came out, and her dad said she had to stay home and
take care of the hosue. The women in Chile do all the work. Walking
down the street, it`s not strange to see a middle-aged woman with a
power saw on a roof. We didn`t have any investigators in SAcrament
meeting. But Henry, the crazy guy from April 7th, came to Sunday
School. Elder Rubilar, the Assisstant, taught the Restoration. Henry
just spat out crazy comments. He said he had sattelite blueprints in
his house, `cause he has to go up into space and repair them so he
could look for the golden plates. He said he`s an astronaut. He took
off his leather coat and waved in the general direction of himself and
said, "I`m 34. This is a perfect body for an astronaut!" Elder Rubilar
was just laughing so hard. We all were. The four of us, in the house,
talked about deep doctrine for a while after lunch. In the night, 4
Elders from Nueva Imperial got here for the Conference Tomorrow. Elder
Oversby is one of them. I`m so happy to see him again. We`ve been
talking about times past. He`s going to end his mission in August. I`m
going to miss him.

Monday:Pres. Swenson had his farewell today. I learned a lot of things
and felt even more. I learned how literal the phrase "broken heart"
is. I really got my testimony after I left a relationship poorly. My
heart was broken and torn up. That`s when I was able to let the Lord
in. How great it is, to understand that! It had a purpose. I made some
comments during the Conference, and I heard Elder Barajas say, "That`s
my boy!" We talked a lot today. I loved seeing him and just being his
friend. He`ll be going home in 1 transfer. He`s a Zone Leader in
Ñielol. He said he saw Robin and Bilha the other day. They`re getting
sealed in August! Pedro and Cristina are getting sealed in October.
Cesar`s still passing the Sacrament and Estefanì and Jonathan are
still active, too! Every one of my converts are active. I felt such a
great joy. We leave on the mission, not only to prepare yourself, but
to find yourself--your desires and the actions you`ll take without
pressure from others. Before the mission, we did what our parents did
and lived by their rules. When we leave, we can put what we learned
into practice. Will we attend church on our own? Because of the
universal need for personal probation, we came to Earth life. When
there are choices to do otherwise, will we follow the Father? Hna.
Swenson shared a very special exp. that she`d only shared with her
husband. She had been wondering why God Would put people in such hard
situations. god doesn`t make us who we are. She received an answer. In
John 9:3 there was a man who was blind so that God`s power could be
glorified. She testified that we all had a choice before this life.
Would you be willing to be born blind to prove to the world that Jesus
Christ is the Son of God? We agreed to our Personal Plan of Salvation
and all it`s problems. There is a reason for everything. There have
been so many times when I`ve wanted to go home. But I became really
sad today. We sang "Called to Serve" in the end. I was crying, so I
just mouthed the words. Hna. Sherwood is a Sister who got here with
me. She`s almost done, now! And I felt such a love for Pres. and Hna.
Swenson that I NEVER wanted to leave. There are 24 measures in "Called
to Serve," one for every month of the mission. I color as I go. My
time`s going so fast. The Sisters are leaving and it still feels like
THEY are leaving early. So LITTLE time. It`s ending. I can`t stop it.
I feel such dread at the thought of leaving. I said goodbye to Pres.
and Sis. Swenson. They said I was like family and should visit. I said
I wished I had something to give them. Pres. said, "Live a good life."
I`ll do it. They were like my parents. It hurt to see them go. A lot.
I spent the whole day with Lisonbee. Oh! We took a mission picture. We
blindfolded Pres. and Hna. Swenson and then all put on white ties.
they cried. I`m going to miss them, but I`ll make them proud.