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: I woke up this morning, and just wanted to lay in bed. So I did. It was awesome. I got up and had some hot milk, while I was...swathed(?) in my snuggie, as I wrote my handwritten letter to the President. These moments are some I´ll look back on, with fondness. I love morning study, while wrapped in a blanket. I called Elder Burch. He said the sector, there, is dead, and that his comp. was a super-robot. They planned their Pday activities, including cleaning, where they´d clean, for how long, and with what. He thanked me for my example and for our transfer together. We´re going to hang out after the Mission. We spent the whole Pday doing errands, trying to get my second ID. I tried to get all the stuff ready beforehand, but there were some terms I wasn´t sure of, so the Government lady chewed me out for wasting her time, but at the same time, helped me out. She said I had to tell the police I changed my address from Hualpen,something I did (without notifying the police) 2 months ago. She said if I HAD waited that long, I shouldn´t tell them, or they´d take ALL my documents. Yikes. I asked Heavenly father to provide a path where I wouldn´t have to lie and they wouldn´t take my documents. The police never asked me when I arrived. Whew. We had an FHE planned with Lily (a mom of a family that we found) and the Pinar family. Lily cancelled at the last minute. We watched "The Testaments" with them. It´s awesome.
Tuesday: Today was PERFECT! I don´t even know why, but I just loved it. Everything that we needed to go well for us, did... and then some. I prepared my class, for my District, but was later told I didn´t need to worry about it. I turned in all the things I needed to, and then sent off Jess´s letter. Then, we went to get my receipt for what I did yesterday, then we booked it to lunch, getting there right on the dot. I worked on making a duplicate of my "Scripture shortcuts" for Hna. Roa during our hour after lunch. I was kinda nervous about teaching "Tithing" to Jorge, fearing he´d have difficulty with it. But he accepted it and I got to share some special experiences that I´ve had, through Daddy´s strong, faithful example over the years. We´ve been knocking the same doors since I got here. But I knew of a tiny community we´d passed by once--made up of two blocks or so. But when we went there, there were 9 blocks--9 SQUARE blocks. Never been touched. We found lots of great people. I just got a jolt of enthusiasm. Not even because of the new territory. But people just seemed more receptive. as I realized that, EVERYONE was more receptive. They hadn´t changed. I had. My attitude had. It was beautiful Spring weather. I was friends with everyone. I was on top of the world! I loved today! I loved teaching. I loved the weather. I loved mhy sector. I loved the people. I loved the Gospel. I loved my family. I loved EVERYTHING!!! I´m celebrating by eating popcorn and powdered milk. Okay, when I got the milk I wasn´t thinking, "yipee" so much as "skimpy." I´m trying to budget better. But I´m still celebrating.
Wednesday: Well, today was less "mind-blowingly awesome" than yesterday, to say the least. It was actually really sad. The morning was fine. We got up, studied, and did some practices. We did a few contacts in the morning before we had to walk to lunch, about 2 miles away. ooph. The afternoon is when things start going downhill. We had our appt. with JOrge. He accepted everything yesterday, that had to do with tithing. He´s fine with donating money. But when we met with him today, he told us he doesn´t want to get baptized on Saturday anymore. He said it´s very important to him, and doesn´t want to do it, unless he´s 100% willing to obey. It turns out that when we were showing him how to fill out the tithing slip, we briefly mentioned what fasting was. well, that scared the poop out of the poor man. He said that skipping meals isn´t part of who he is. Not eating, to him, is as bad as drinking coffee or alcohol. He pulled out a receipt that showed how much he weighs. That, I noticed, showed that he´s conscious of his eating. Maybe he can´t NOT eat. we´re preparing a lesson for him for tomorrow. I don´t want to lose him. He´s a real friend, trying to do what´s right. He´ll keep listening tryhing to understand. He just needs more timem. That´s fine with me. I´ve never been in it for the numbers. we did contacts in the afternoon, finding lots of "future investigators." I like it here. I know the streets, I know the people, and I like where I am with everything.
Thursday: Today was an okay day. It was overcast, but it didn´t rain, for which I´m grateful. I spent the whole morning studying myu guts out to learn as much about fasting as I could. I gulped it, I absorbed it, it was a desperation search. I don´t want to lose Jorge. He´s so close. But after learning more about it, I realized that it´s an iffy commandment. You´re not a sinner if you don´t fast. It´s more like a tool at our disposal. It´s not even on the Baptisimal interview list. I called Pres. Martinez to ask and he said Jorge could get baptized without being able to fast at first. Comprehension will come later. We put together a careful lesson (´cuase you can´t just say, "It´s alright if you ignore this ONE commandment so you can get baptized in our church."). We did it, and I was so anxious/excited. We knocked at his door and heard his son telling him to get the door. Then the son said Jorge wasn´t home. AH! I don´t know what to think. Jorge´s a good, honest man. I know he is. He wants to be transparent with us. I don´t think he was avoiding us, but he didn´t answer/return our calls, either. When we had our WArd Correllation meeting, Hno. Garcia said, "I told you two he wasn´t ready. He has to wait until after the 18th, ´cause he wants to get drunk." I wanted to slap the man for dishonoring Jorge´s integrity. If Jorge´s anything, he´s honest and simple. He´s just confused about fasting, NOT alcohol. Hopefully we can get a hold of him tomorrow.I heard that a comet whose passing will happen on the 27th of this month, and will cause a monster earthquake in midwest USA. I hope my family will be alright.
Friday: We were busy all day, today. During our study together, we started Chapter 7 in Preach My Gospel: How to improve and study the language. For me, my learning has slowed ´cause my vocab. just lacks some outlying words. But for most normal conversations, I´m alright. Tomorrow, we´re gonna make a Language study plan fr my hijo, so he can learn English better. We had to cut our study short, because of an appt. we´d made. We walked all the way over there, only to find that her daughter had called from school, a few minutes earlier and was in a diabetic emergency. By that time, we had to take a bus to eat lunch with Hna. Roa. We did some service afterward, and got back to our sector at 5:00. We picked up our clothes and then had to take a bus at 6:00 to interview someone from santa Barbara. It was 5:55 and a 10-minute walk. I wanted to cut down the street where the buses usually pass, to try and catch it on the way. But I had a feeling to go 3 streets farther away, and I was relieved to see it was passing just as we got there. There had been a detour and the Spirit helped us arrive on time. The candidate, Carol, passed. We came back, and Elder Cottrell stayed with us, because Carol wanted him to come from temuco and baptize her. I let him sleep in my bed. At 5:00 AM, one of the sides of the top bunk gave out, and all the boards, and the mattress, AND Elder Cotrell fell on Elder Zuñiga. I was laughing so hard! both were okay. Elder Zuñiga wasn´t even hurt.
Saturday: Today was pretty dull, as far as Missionary Work goes. It´s the day before Independance Day where they eat lots of food. Today, they took all their efforts, and put them into making the food for tomorrow. No time for Gringo Missionaries. In the Morning, we read about how to study the language some more, and how to make a language study plan. My hijo´s English is really coming along. I reviewed all my notebooks, and found some of my first language study plans from the MTC: Those were good times. Our three backup plans for the morning fell through. That wasn´t cool. For lunch, we had a big soup, after which I was full. Then we had 4 empanadas, and 2 desserts. Ha! The average Chilean gains 10 lbs. during this week...until they go to the bathroom :) We did contacts alla fternoon. We got into one house, but it turned out it was because she felt sorry for us, and admired us for leaving our hosues. She wasn´t interested in our message, or anything. A waste of time. We saw Hna. Rodriguez and her family on the Highway, and they pulled over to tell us they want to celebrate with us on Monday or Tuesday (When Chile parties, they do it for days at a time). I was down for that. We worked some more, before visiting Hna. Gloria. She´s happy and well. I´m still laughing over last night. Elder Zuñiga wasn´t hurt, miraculously. It was so funny!
Sunday: Today was Chile´s INdependance Day. It wasn´t as coola s last year´s, but it was also better in some ways. There weren´t a lot of people in church, but I got to learn a lot about the 12 tribes of Istrael from Mouricio Rodriguez. That´s always been a tricky subject for me, and something I´d like to study when I get back. As we were leaving Church, I told Hno. Amstein that I liked his tie (black w/ yellow stripes). He unbuttoned his colloar, loosened his tie, and held it out saying, "Have it." and walked off. I was like, "What the heck?!" So that was awesome. We had lunch with Hna. Pinar. We didn´t have any of the typical Chilean food, as is tradition, but we had delicious pork and, for the first time in my mission, STEAK (w/o cartilage)!!! Our drink was diced peach with orange crush. It was awesome. After that, we watched "Emma Smith: My story." The love she shared with her husband wa sso beautiful. The first time I watched it, I was really excited to go preach to everyone. But today I thought of my family. Cassie and Devin are gonna be my best friends after the Mission, and I´ll be theirs. We did contacts for a while with zero results. I´m gonna be home for the next 4th of July. Sometimes, you can´t help but think of your family, on the mission. Especially on family days. I called the Millahual family. That made me really happy.
Monday: Today was my first Pday in Los Angeles that we didn`t have an activity planned. So instead of running everywhere, trying to do things on a schedule, we got to take things slow. Elder Burch spent the morning packing, while I cleaned and read a little. We went out to use internet and write the family afterward. I called about my leather Scripture cases. Walter said he sent them, and they should be in the office. We spent the evening saying goodbye to more people: Hna. Pinar, SAbrina and her mom, Cecilia, and the Garcia family. I`m actually REALLY nervous about tomorrow. I realize that we don`t have many people to teach. that really scares me a little. Planning with few people is just hard...and repetetive. Luckily my first week with my hijo should be the week of Sactification. We`ll find lots of people! tomorrow`s entry is going to be awesome!
Tuesday:(Pg. 300 in my Journal) Today was a very exciting day. We cleaned up the apartment some m ore, just in case. We finished with just enough time to write in each others` journals. Then we went to the Bus Terminal to leave. I went to Concepciòn to get my hijo. I had TONS of preconceptions. I wanted a gringo to play around with, show him around Chile. And if it WAS a Latin, I didn`t want a Chilean, so I could show him the culture, and the way of talking. I got to the terminal in Concepciòn and talked with all the trainers. We went to the Mission Home, to receive a few training stuff. Then we got our "hijos" (sons). After all my wanting and praying, guess what I got. A chilean. Elder Steele, another trainer, said it was because of my Spanish, and that I should have dumbed it down. There were 20 gringos and 4 Latins that arrived. Out of all the trainers, I was the only gringo that got to train a Latin. I was a little disappointed, but as I thought about it, it was because I wouldn`t be able to do the things that don`t have anything to do with Missionary Work, or couldn`t show off how far I`VE come. How selfish I was! Funny how I had to wait for "retrospective" to help me see that. I think Elder Zuñiga (my son) will help me focus a lot better in my missionary purpose. We got home, and let the Santa Barbara missionaries sleepover for the Distrizona tomorrow.
Wednesday: today was pretty tough for me. As a whole, the concept of planning seems to be the Acheles (spelling?) heel of my mision skills. But I`ve always had a pool of people to draw from, or a comp. to give me some ideas. Now I have neither, and that realization is just hitting me witha gripping fear that makes me feel like I`m hyperventilating inside. I don`t know why. I just don`t think I`ve been this alone with this much responsibility. I just want to give Elder Zuñiga MORE than I have for him, right now. But from here, it just looks like we`re gonna be stuck, doing a lot of contacts. We went to Distrizona and I felt kind of ashamed for only having Jorge`s name to put up, while everyone else had, like, 5. We went to lunch with Hno. Bravo, and the first thing he says is, "Do you want lunch, or a completo?" I LOVE completos, which are considered fast food, which he disdains. He made fun of me! But, we got completos anyway. I got to see the blessings of training with a good focus. We got into 2 houses today. They were people who had lazy missionaries over, who would be buddies instead of teachers. They didn`t want lessons. But my hijo`s loving it. He`s a really good guy, and he knows the lessons. He just gets a little nervous under pressure.
Thursday: Today wasn`t so bad, I think. Yesterday was just a shock for me. But, you know, just a few months ago, I was musing on how life`s trials are laser-guided to the weakest parts of our souls and characters. Why SHOULDN`T I, a person that`s bad at planning with few people, be put in a place that needs someone like that? Now it all depends on how I react. God gave me a chance to prove myself. Maybe I should. We are having comp. prayers mornings and nights, now, apart from when we leave the house. We`re starting Preach My Gospel from the beginning. Comp. study`s really awesome. Elder Zuñiga has really good insights and a lot of knowledge, besides.
Friday: Our good-weather streak ran out today. It was really wonderful while it lasted. At the beginning of the week, having to pay attention to every little thing I did and said, was a bit of a shock. but now I`m getting used to it. It`s also been a bit of a challenge to manage the lessons, because he`s making some of the ssame mistakes I used to. but Elder Zuñiga is SO low-maintainance. He`s not much of a burden at all. He`s just so happy and ready to serve. and I swear you don`t know the MEANING of "puppy-dog eyes" until you`ve seen the kid`s uncertain but completely sincere smile. We`re following the schedule exactly, we`re studying what we`re supposed to, and I`ve somehow managed to keep up enough people for us to visit (it started raining jsut now and I`m inside. Haha!) We finally got to teach some people today. Alexis and Sandra. We started to teach the Book of Mormon, but my hijo took off on another subject, then another and another. We snatched a return appt. and I had to remind Elder Zuñiga that we need to stay focused on one topic. He was cool with it. We visited Scarlet and Gustavo. Scarlet wanted to know of of whose money the Prophet and apostles lived. Law of consecration, baby.
Saturday: Today was one of them walkin` days. We walked and talked all day long, after our appts. fell through. It was just one of the times that has tested my diligence and hope. It was really tough for me, but I just have to keep going. I just need the Lord`s help. We`re fasting and praying for people. Blessings will come.
Sunday: Today was beter than yesterday, for sure. We went to Church, to find Jorge there, again. The other day, he`d told us that he`d had a strange dream. In it, there was a big building that was floating, but fell down. I left him 2 chapters of the Book of Mormon to read: 1Nephi 8 and 11, where it talks of Lehi`s dream and the interpretation of it. When we saw him today, he`d finished his reading. He said it kind of freaked him out, but he felt at peace when he read it. It was really cool. Sabrina`s mom, Cecilia, bore her testimony. He`s a hard case, so she doesn`t cry often. But she broke. down. up there. She used to be inactive, but this experience really gave her a testimony of prayer and fasting. At the end of Sacrament Meeting, Hno Garcia came up to me and told me I had the Sunday School class! 2-minute warning. A new record of unanticipated duty. I was peeved. we did contacts all afternoon, and had a few people tell us to come back. that was good news. We visited Hna. Pinar. She was sick and asked us for a blessing. After all this time in the Mission, it`s still strange to think of how people see me, albeit less strange than at the beginning. We visited Hna. Gloria. She said she`ll go to church next week after 4 months!
Monday: Today was very tiring. We woke up when it was still dark, and walked about 2 172 miles to a gym to play basketball as a Zone. It felt weird, after not holding one for a year or so. We ran and played really hard. Then we had to walk home again. That walk was really long. It took an hour and a half to walk home. But they were good memories. We changed into our Zone t-shirts and headed to the Bus Terminal...I was going to talk about Laja waterfall, but we just got very important news. We`ve been working with Sabrina, trying to have her talk to her dad, and ask permission to get baptized. We had the whole Ward fast for her, to help. She`s been trying for two years. It`s 11:40 right now. We just got a text message form her Mom, saying that she got permission! burch and I were dumbstruck for about a minute. We read it again, and then we both started crying and laughing. We knelt down and hugged each other in the silence, quietly sobbing. I told him that he was a great Missionary, and this would be something he`d always remember. I`m examining my feelings, and I`m just SO happy! I`ve got the giggles I always get after a cry. We saw a miracle of God today. He loves us and he loves Sabrina.
Tuesday: We woke up and went to our Distrizona meeting. I had asked all of the missionaries in my District to prepare a lesson one Christ-like attribute from Chapter 6 in Preach My Gospel. But the zone Leaders wanted us all to get together. they told us that attitude`s the most fundamental thing to success. it`s about "mental toughness" as Elder Ballard said. So we got into 2 circles and each had 1 person in the middle. Everyone would say really negative things to the middle person. I was in the middle. Burch said I was a horrible comp. Someone said I was their worst District Leader. And I had to reply to each of them positively. It was a cool exercise. We had lots of crunchy, cartilage-meat with Hna. brillònes for lunch. We did contacts in the afternoon before we had to share the activity we had planned for the "Missionary Work" night of Ward Conference Week. I`d prepared a lesson on the Atonement. I offered a cookie to each person. For each person who took a cooke and-- to everyone`s surprise--for each who didn`t, Elder Burch did 2 push-ups. The cookies were the Gospel. Christ suffered for everyone. Not just those who accept him. But for those who DO accept him through obedience to his Gospel, life is so much happier and richer. People came up to me afterward, and said it`d been a long time since they`d had such a good lesson. Sabrina was crying.
Wednesday: We planned a lesson for Jorge, this morning, trying to figure out how to help him if he is consuming something outside the bounds of the Word of Wisdom. I`m thankful for Preach My Gospel in this respect. He called us shortly after, to tell us that he had to cancel for today, and for the rest of the week. That was sucky, covered with lamesauce. But it`s alright, `cause we invited him to Sabrina`s baptism on Saturday and he said he could. That sucketh not. We had lunch with the Sister that offended both of Burch`s converts. He didn`t say anything. Not one word. After lunch, we did divisions with the Zone Leaders who were doing divisions with LIsonb ee and his comp. So one Zone Leader, Elder Decker, went with Burch to do Sabrina`s interview, while I went to the Zone Leader`s Sector with Elder Tavernier, who`s got 1 month in Chile. We did contacts, and I realized he has a great attitude. He sees things that are commonly viewed as "annoying" or "impolite" as "funny" or "interesting." He`s so great. We came back and did contacts. Burch taught me how to throw pass-alongs. Yeah! We ended by visiting hna. Gloria. She`s doing well. Burch says everyone thinks I`ll be training next transfer. I don`t think I`m ready. We`ll see what the Lord says. The trainers usually get their calls on Thursdays. Fingers crossed (Though for what, I`m not sure)!
Thursday: No call today. Today was a good day. We goit up and did our workouts extra hard, and it hurt. Yeah! We also did some productive cleaning.We did our weekly planning before we had to go to the Zone Leaders` house to pick up a white tunic for Sabrina to use on Saturday. It`s a perfect fit! I got to see Elder Lisonbee while I was there. He`s still awesome. We had lunch with Hna. Roa in the countryside. We took a bus to get to her very long driveway. While there, I found a picture of a girl in a nightgown (modest) that fell out of my scriptures, where her daughter had hidden it with a note that said, "You should repent for seeing this." So we got revenge on her while she`s away for the week. We did contacts in the afternoon because of our fallen appts. (may they rest in peace) We STILL weren`t able to enter any houses. This whole week, we`ve been in the streets. It`s been tough. But Cassie (friend) told me there`s good in every situation if we`re willing to look for it. And daddy helped me learn more about optimism, as well. So, really, things are better than I would have thought, without their help. I listened to Cassie (sister) and Devin`s tape in the night.
Friday: My mind is still blown from the news that i got this afternoon, but I`m getting ahead of myself. We got up and read through a pamphlet of "common doubts" that`s especially suited for Chileans. it`s a really powerful tool I`ve been neglecting. We were out, doing contacts at about 1:00, when we heard a honk. We looked over, and saw Pres. Martinez and his wife. they`re like, "Hey, we want to go inspect your apartment." The bottom dropped out of my stomach. LUckily, we cleaned yesterday. Hna. Martinez made suggestions to take out the stronger stuff we didn`t reach. I asked Pres. Martinez to settle Burch`s and my bet of me training. He told Burch to prepare his money. Ha! but an hour later, the Assisstants called me! Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my GOSH!!! I`m TRAINING!!! I`m gonna be a father in the mission, with my little hijo. I was nervous at first, but now I`m really excited for this blessing. Wow! I guess I made a really good impression on Pres. Martinez...and the Lord, too, I guess. Wow! this is so cool! We went to Santa Barbara to interview Alan, their potential convert. He passed! We went to a Ward potluck that was so good. When we left, we found items of revenge from Natalia in our backpacks. I got some blue felt material sewn in the shape of a thong with red hearts glued on it. There was a note that said, "You forgot your thermals. Hope you enjoy!" So funny!
Saturday: Today was awesome! We got up and read some really cool things in Preach My Gospel durin gour comp. study. Because of the baptism we had in the afternoon, we knew we wouldn`t have any time to work outside, so we got all of our contacts done in the morning. We knocked a lot of doors, and barely spoke with anyone. They just won`t open their doors! We didn`t find ANY new investigators this week. It`s been kinda tough, especially now that I know that I`m going to have a brand new hijo here. He probably will have a tough time with contacts. I`m so excited to go back to learning the basics. I think there will be some very important things I`ll discover have been lost. We had lunch with the weird "cat family." The food was awesome. We had to go to the baptism right afterward. Sabrina was a little nervous, kinda like Mirta had been. There were about 8 others who got baptized at the "boutizazo." It all went well. One Peruvian Elder baptized for the first time. He had to do it 3x in front of everyone. I felt bad for him. We went to Hna. Quiroga`s house to teach English to her daughter, Florencia. She`s pretty dang smart. We got our transfers tonight. I already knew mine, but Burch found out he`s going to Boca Sur (south mouth) in San Pedro with Elder Jennings. He`s nervous `cause it`s a dangerous sector. I know he`ll be fine.
Sunday: Today was pretty much a day of farewells. We got to church, only to discover that, even though Jorge had promised 3 times to come to church, he didn`t show up. Elder Burch was given time to say goodbye. While he was up there, he took the opportunity to tell everyone that no one should talk bad about missionaries--something that this Ward does frequently. He did it in a way that would only be noticed by those who did it. He emphasize3d it VERY well. So well, that I`m not so sure it was as discreet as he hoped. Someone passed me a note from Javiera Roa with 11 Birdmen. I had to do 11 pushups. We said goodbye to Ricardo first. He lives in a very humble house. He`s going to miss Elder Burch ve3ry much. They both cried a little. ricardo gave a very nice, little speech. Then we said goodbye to Hna. gloria. Last, we said goodbye to Gustavo and Scarlet. They`re so awesome. Elder Bernal called me to tell me that Pres. decided to close the Secto of Tirua. He`s going to Victoria, and Elder Tatasciore is going to finish his mission in LIcan Ray, where I STARTED the Mission.
Monday: We woke up and just laid in bed for a while, talking to each other. It was nice. I really prefer the homes with 4 missionaries more than those with just 2. I`m really grateful that I have an awesome comp. We went over to Santa Barbara`s chapel to watch some movies that Elder Gomez has, that were approved by Pres. We watched "How to train your Dragon" and "Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief." They were both really good. After that, we went back to Los Angeles to write the family. Today, Daddy sent me an email that gave me some really good advice on how to be more positive. He had some really good insights. He told me to enjoy clean rain. It just evaporates. What if it "milked?" That would be messy. He enjoys all of the little things that he can see and hear. What if he went blind or deaf? that really made me want to pay attention to EVERYTHING. There are so many things that I take for granted. I bet that when I start to count my blessings like that, I`ll be able to live a happier, richer life. It was a very important lesson to me. I had turned into a pessimist in the Mission.
Tuesday: We had our distrizona this morning. As a District Leader, I have to give classes to my missionaries. I always say a prayer before choosing. And after I`ve chosen, I see just HOW the class was meant for their investigators. I have a testimony of the gift of discernment. As we were walking back to our sector, I thought of how grateful I was, for my dry feet. Then, water got in them. then, I was grateful that it wasn`t "milking." Then, it started to hail.haha. But at least I don`t melt when I`m wet. :)I just thought it was funny. It`s been raining for two weeks straight. I`m so glad I have my waterproof clothes, and a warm bed to come home to. We had lunch with the Bishop`s wife. she`s a really nice lady. We ran into Ricardo, Burch`s other offended, inactive convert. He said he was insulted by a Sister. He said, "Women shouldn`t even say things like that." We`re really anxious to know what happened. When we dropped off the clothes, we shared what Ricardo had told us, to see what Hna. Pinar would know, as Relief Soc. Pres. She didn`t, but she said that this ward was really proud and rude, and that gossip is really bad. I started thinking of the great chance I have, to help (I found a great lesson on gossip last transfer). We did contacts and visited an inactive Sister. burch and I were guided by the Spirit, and she said shell come to church on Sunday. We`ll call her Sunday morning anyway.
Wednesday: We studied our Scriptures and after a while, Burch got out his Dictionary and started quizzing me on random words. I didn`t get many right. I s`pent the rest of the morning making a duplicate of my Scripture Shortcuts for Hna. Pinar and Elder Burch. When I gave it to her, she was really happy. Elder Tavernier wants a copy, too. WOOT! We had roast(cartilage-free!) and potatoes with ajì. The flavor of ajì would best be described as "mexican horseradish." very good. We spoke about temples and then I showed Hna. Pinar a website where she could look at them all. Then we picked up the Permaneced list we`ve been buggin the Bishop for, for the last week. We tried to visit the less-actives, but either they "weren`t home" or they were honest and told us to go away. We taught Pìa and Rina in the afternoon. Rina didn`t pay attention much at first, so we focused on her. Pìa understood and helped her mom understand. The only problem was that Pìa, herself, didn`t believe in the first vision. Rina did! but we left them the invitation to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. As we said goodbye, Pìa did the whole kiss-on-the-cheek thing. It`s alright for the first time, but then you have to tell them, "no." It`s just a cheek bump. No lips while you make the "muah" sound. Nobody told Elder Burch that. He KISSED her cheek. He kept apologizing to me for two hours. He felt so bad. I thought it was funny.
Thursday: I woke up this morning, to a phone call from Elder Lisonbee. He called to tell me that he had a dream about me. We were driving in his two-seater car, and I said, "I need to pick up my goat!" He told me, "It`ll never fit!" Then he woke up. Haha. I love that he called to tell me that. We did divisions today. I got to be comps. with Elder Tonumaipe`a. He`s from New Zealand. Our first few appointments. fell through, but then we taught Jorge. We haven`t taught him since 3 weeks ago. We asked him if he remembered what we`d taught him last time. He did, in great detail. We read 3 Nephi 11 with him. We asked why he thought Jesus gave Nephi power. He said, "Well, if Jesus left, he`d need a representative on Earth." He said he`d stopped a 30-year smoking habit 6 years ago. I related how he felt after he stopped smoking to how he`d feel after being baptized. He told us of some really special spiritual experiences and how he thought he was being prepared. We told him he was being prepared for baptism on Sep. 3rd. He said that`d be fantastic! As I read the BOM in my personal study this morning, I felt such a strong Spirit. I loved it. On the news, students in Santiago are protesting that they need free college. That`s SO dumb. It also showed a guy that was living in a supulcre. Creepy. but today was a really Spiritual day.
Friday: We woke up and did exercises to this awesome Joseph Smith tribute CD I found on Monday. We were playing soccer in our livingroom. it`s alright. IN a Missionary apartment, "livingroom" means "small, concrete, box-like room without any furniture." I marked my Bible and we bothread about helping people keep commitments. When we invite people to make commitments, we`re inviting them to repent. We did contacts in the morning, after an appointment fell throught. Tonumaipe`a "bird-manned" me a LOT. I`m going to play that a lot when I get back. While we were doing contacts, we ran into Ivon, a member. She took us to a market to buy us ice cream and cookies. We had lunch and then ended our divisions. Elder Burch said that he was relieved to be back with me, because Tonumaipe`a`s comp`s Spanish was awful. He likes being with me `cause he knows I`ve got his back. We did contacts during the whole afternoon, trying to find some new people. We couldn`t. But it`s alright. At 8:30, we went to visit Ricardo. He told us of some nasty rumors about him that are going around church, that one of the members let slip. He was very offended and appalled. but he`s had a true conversion. He said he won`t go to church this week, but he will soon. He`s only been a member for a matter of months and these members are just horrible examples of christ. Burch was ANGRY!
Saturday: We had a pretty good day, today. we woke up and did our studies and everything. Contacts in the morning were kind of a bust, because the people wouldn`t even answer the door. That, or they ALL were out, running errands. After all, it was a Saturday and the first sunny day (without rain) in three weeks. It was so beautiful. We were out tracting in our short-sleeve shirts. It was about 70 F. Gorgeous Spring weather! We had lunch with Hna. Ivon. She`s an English proffessor that knows how to cook American (north) food. That said, we had some delicious enchiladas! they were absolutely amazing. For dessert, she made Pazuki--which is choc. chip cookie dough covered in vanilla ice cream, laid ina cake pan. I had 3 bowls. I LOVE cookie dought! We finished up our contacts for the week today, `cause we`ll be in the countryside tomorrow. 3 people let us into their homes. We got to teach a lot, today. We visited JOrge tonight, to teach him about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He accepted everything. He wants to repent and get baptized and take the Sacrament every week. He`s such a good guy. He reminds me of a Spanish John Goodman. Hwe`d read the chapter we`d left him, and he showed us his favorite parts. He said he felt the Spirit while he read it. We visited Hna. Gloria, to see how she was doing. She`s fine--didn`t even mention being offended, and she`ll come to church tomorrow.
Sunday: We got going to Church, and realized that it was really REALLY cold weather for just wearing a suit. This WArd is really gossipy. We heard, today, that one Brother almost called the Mission Pres. to tell him that we were wearing seaters. I mean come on! "heaven forbid, they`re trying to stay warm!" It`s not even against the rules. The Mission Pres. wears a sweater, along with every missionary in the Mission! Jorge came to church, 20 min. early, which is saying something, considering we moved the hour forward. He had to sit on his bench alone, `cause these members are anti-social and we had to pass the Sacrament. But as I realized this, a nice member went to do it. We had lunch with Hna. Roa. She`s so awesome. She invited her adventist neighbors over to listen to us. I knew it would be a bad idea to talk about the Restoration, so we taught the Plan of Salvation. Afterward, they asked about the Sabbath Day. Here we go. I taught well (my comp. didn`t know how to prove it was Sunday, so I used a Scripture chain I`d found in my study). Then she just went off on all these "proofs" that were REALLY biased. I showed her 1Corinthians 16:1-2, which says the members of the church met every 1st day of the week. She wanted to fight. We presented our beliefs and answered her question. And we didn`t argue when she was practically foaming at the mouth as she screamed, "Saturday!" in her enthusiasm. whew.
Monday: Today was a pretty good Pday. We had an activity planned, as a Zone. It was raining when I woke up and I didn´t want to go. But my comp. said going to a freaking volano is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! So I got up and it stopped raining. It was a long bus ride to Antuco, but I had lots of fun talking with Elders Lisonbee and Oversby. We didn´t actually go to the volcano, which was a let-down. We were withing 1 km of the base. Lamesauce. But I saw snow for the first time in a year and a half. We had an epic snowball fight. No one had gloves or boots for the 3-ft. snow. I got white-washed and I just loved being with all my friends that I love. In my email, mom and Dad told me that Peaches died. I cried a l ittle. Dad sent another letter that was more personal. I started crying again, 2 sentences into my reply because I loved him and mama so much. Elder Burch had a virus on his hard drive and almost lost all his photos. But he got them back. His mom didn´t write him for the 2nd week in a row. He was very angry. We bought 2.5 liters of Coke and it´s empty now. I only had 2 glasses.
Tuesday: We had our Distrizona today. We rewarded our Zone with empanadas for completing all the goals for last week. We had lunch with the Rodriguez´s. Their son, woh´s an MTC teacher, said he might visit my family today. We did contacts and found Carlos. He doesn´t go to a Church, but already had a guess that was close to the truth about the Apostasy. (This day´s short because of a LOT of personal thinking and pondering)
Wednesday:We had our conference today. It was really wonderful. We had a lesson from Hna. Martinez about how to study the Scripturees better and more effectively. We learned how to study the Doctrine of the lessons. Pres. Martinez taught us how the children of God are being prepared. I love seeing te hand of the Lord in this wonderful work. The Assisstants had us all practice contacting each other. We drew from a hat, to see if we were the "elect" or not. We were to talk to everyone, to find the "elect." We had 5 min. Turns out that the Assisstant, Elder Bustos, was on the stage, and NO ONE spoke to him. We need to talk to everyone. I got a letter from Cassie. We hit the streets and spoke with EVERYONE! We met Rina and her daughter Pía. Their husband/father died last November. I loved them so much. I wanted to let them know it was okay, that there was hope. I prayed for the Spirit, so we could help them. They trusted us and asked me to interperet a dream they had, of their dad, together. It was really special. I testified of Eternal families. It was a good lesson. I love feeling the Spirit. It makes things so easy to bear. We passed by, to see how Gustavo and Scarlet were. They´re great. They´re reading in 1 Nephi 13 together.
Thursday: I´m feeling really happy. Nothing really exciting happened today. I was writing my response to Cassie, and I realized some things that really made an impact on me. I was asked about something I mentioned in my last letter. I was about to replay an answer that had been locked in my mind since childhood. But as I thought about it I realized my opinion had changed. I thought about other questions and discovered other things that were...different. It was a huge neon sign to me, that the lord´s changed me. I forgot How I thought of some things before. I was influenced by so many things. Here, I´ve really found myself. We went to the Bishop´s house to get a Permaneced list. Elder Burch broke a glass while playing with a balloon. Haha. We spent the afternoon looking for the new investigators from last week. They were all busy. Oh well. We keep on going.
Friday: Today was a great day. It rained in the morning, during our study time. But when it was time to go out and work, it had already stopped. I used my study time to start marking my new bible with my special system. The morning was spent doing contacts. One guy didn´t even listen to us. We asked what his name was, and he said, "I´m fine." but when my comp. reached for a pass-along, the man instinctively reached out a hand to receive it. I realized that some people tune out everything you say and only pay attention to body language-unless you ask good questions to make them think. For lunch, Hna. Carmen Julia just brought out a ton of empanadas, and it was a free-for-all. Then we started our fast for Sabrina. In the afternoon, we told Baltazarwe wouldn´t pass by anymore. We taught Sabrina and she said she´d received an answer about Joseph Smith. We practiced being her dad and she asked us for permission to get baptized. Now it´s in the Lord´s hands. then we went o Mulchen to do my first interview as a District Leader. His name was Marco Siv. It was a short interview ´cause he answered with such thoroughness. He´s a good kid. On the bus ride home, my comp. sawa slug bug, and hit me. I know. I don´t get it either.
Saturday: Today was an okay day. All of our appts. fell through, but we got to talk to a lot of people. We have been organizing our Area Book and taking the list of future investigators and trying to clean it out. It was allthe people that said, 2I´m busy now, come back another day." That´s pretty much what they told us when we passed by this afternoon. When we went to lunch, we had to wait for about an hour, ´cause the Sister had forgotten. We had "meat" and potatoes. But for dessert they gave us ice cream with Chocolate syrup! that was delicious. One lady let us in, but we soon found out that she was an inactive Sister that had been offended by people in the ward. We shared some Scriptures with ehr and invited her to church. THere´s not much more you can do. We´re goint to pass by another day. We contacted a guy, and said we were Missionries. He said, "No" and gave us the finger. I said, "Yes, we are," even though I knew what he meant, and started testifying. We went by Hna. Gloria, Burch´s convert that´s inactive now because someone offended her. She says she doesn´t go now because she´s sick. Maybe she´ll "feel better" soon?
Sunday: We had some exciting experiences today. We got up and went to Church. During Sacrament Meeting, we had 16 inactives come back to church! A really weird Sister, Hna. Martha, got up to besar her testimony, but ended up confessing to everyone that she hasn´t taken the Sacrament in 2 months ´cause she can´t arrive on time,among other things. we were going to eat lunch with the Bishop´s wife, who is cool, but hey switched on us and we had to eat with Hna. Martha. She´s SO weird. She told us how her husband´s a deserter and is avoiding cops. She lives in a forest. Eler Cotrell told us that there were people in black robes that worshipped the Devil sometimes. As we walked around, there were some wposts when we could just feel irritated and agitated. Ugh! SO Creepy! We completed with our contacts, so that I could be a good example for my District. Then we got on a bus for Santa Barbara. We´re gonna party with them tomorrow. But when we got here, they didn´t answer their phone, they weren´t home, and it was 34 F. We waited in the cold for an hour, before they got home. I´m warming up by the stove, now. :)
Monday: Today was a good Pday. We woke up early, so we could get our apartment cleaned from the rigorous harships of dealing with 20 year-old men. And it pulled through alright! Then, we went over to the Zone Leader`s house. they were out of town for the day, but they share a house with LIsonbee and Elder Tavernier. We went over to make pancakes. Mine and Lisonbee`s comp. sat on a couch to talk about weird things like basketball and soccer statististics. It was like another language. Lisonbee and I had fun in the kitchen, trying to coax various pancakes out of the frying pan (not into the fire) without being "wrinkled," and failing almost every time. But the flavor was delicious, and the amorphorous blobs were all a cheerful golden brown. Sweet! We all pitched in, and bought a Volleyball to play with, as a Zone. We did, for a while, before it rained, and we had to go eat lunch at the Mall. We had Churrascos at a place called, "Juan Jaestro." The meat was seasoned! it was so delicious, my mouth was having a meltdown. It was awesome! We wrote the family. Devin wrote for the first time in a while. He`s excited for his Sophomore year that`s coming up. We got home, and I had a monster migraine that incapacitated me. ouch.
Tuesday: Today changed the Mission again. Usually, we have a "Sanctification Week" for the first week of every transfer. During tht week, we do 200 contacts, instead of 240, so we can find new people to teach. Now, we`re going to have the Sanctification Week for the first week of every month, and this week, we have to do 490 contacts. Not impossible. But talking to 80 people a day, trying to have real conversations with them, is challenging. After the Distrizona we did divisions with Elders Gomez and Cotrell in Santa Barbara, so I went there with Gomez. I got a letter from Alan. He reminded me of some really precious moments from our friendship. I really feel like he`s my brother, and will be my best friend forever. We went around, doing 80 contacts throughout the day. There have been so many deaths here, lately. Their investigator`s uncle hung himself 3 days ago! Crazy! We met a lot of mean people today. We contacted a lady, and she said she`d call the cops if we didn`t leave her alone right there. Another girl started running waway when we started talking to her. Then she stopped, and said we`d frightened her. Geez. My Sector did 91 contacts. It`s a good start.
Wednesday: I`m exhausted. I mean, "Whew!" We`ve done the whole week`s worth of work, and then some, in two days. And we`re still not even halfway done. But I`m loving it. I don`t know why. It`s hard. People still reject us. But I guess that now that we all have this crazy-ridiculous goal to achieve, it makes me want to do my part. I don`t want to let anyone down, least of all, the Lord. So we keep on going. While I was with Elder Gomez, he told me about his companionship. He said they were fine now. Elder Cotrell apparently got upset with me, after I told him that not completing with the Lord`s standards was "unacceptable." I didn`t WANT to be hard, but he just doesn`t feel guilty for failing the Lord. It had to be done. We had lunch with the Rodriguez family. I think they like me. Sis. Rodriguez family. I think they like me. We did all of our work today, and saw a miracle. We always pass by this one lady, Blanca. She never lets us in. But we`re asking God for miracles, in our prayers, and Blanca let us in, after a month of daily pestering and wants to hear more.
Thursday: Today was good. It rained a little, but it came in little spurts that were harmless. We had a great plan in the morning, to visit all of our investigators that are only available on Thursdays. Unfortunately, they all told us that they were unavailable. That sucked...again...like last week. But we had a good weekly planning session, anyway. We`re gonna try and help the people we`re teaching in creative, new ways. The things of the Missiopn are to prepare us for life after. Like how contacts are meant to help us date, and find worthy women. but something I`ve realized, is that when they tell us to be creative, that carriews into dating, too. I helped Elder Burch learn which prepositional phrases are accompanied by which verbs during our language study. Then, we went out and did contacts all afternoon. We found some really cool people. That, in itself, is a neat Miracle. There was a woman from Argentina, who has only been here for 3 months. She used to live a block away from the Buenos Aires Temple. Then we found 3 other people who let us in their homes. Lots of work is getting done this week. Cotrell and Gomez have 301 for the week.
Friday: With 15 months in the Mission, I`ve only got 9 months left. Onto the single digits, baby! I`m getting older in the Mission. It`s interesting talking to mothers who have their sons serving Missions, getting to know their perspective, and trying to imagine how my Mom talks to other people about me. Did she ever cry over me? How often does she thing of me? Entirely selfish thoughts, I know. But hey, who doesn`t want to feel their mother`s love, after not seeing her for a year and a half? We trudged around in the rain, and visited some less-active members. None of them answered their doors. We had lunch in an enormous mansion. i mean, they had a pool and a soccer field in their yard. Their bathroom had a one-way mirror-wall, with a view of the forest. Very disconcerting. Our first contact was funny. We were greeted by a young 17 year-old boy. He raced up to get his parents and never returned. We waited 10 minutes by the wide-open door, and they never came. huh. We were tempted to keep the door open when we left, but thought better of it. We`re on track with our contacts. We met an agnostic that believed in reincarnation because he didn`t think it was fair that someone be born without a leg. We taught about the Restoration and the Plan of Happiness that we have, because of the REstored Authority. He said he`s very interested. My Districts`s doing well, too. They`re seeing their own miracles.
Saturday: Elder Burch and I discovered that I have bags under my eyes. Well, dang it. That`s not cool. We`re both really tired. He may be even more tired than I am, seeing as how he has insomnia. But we figured out why this week has been so hard on our eagerness: we`ve been doing 4x as many contacts which means we get 4x as many slammed doors. This sector has just been hardened. We`ve spoken with so many people this week, with very little success. We got to eat lunch with Hna. Roa, today. She`s my new favorite Sister in the Ward. We actually stayed and talked for a while after lunch. She talked to us about Marriage (I`m not sure why), and it was full of really helpful advice. But I`ll be darned if I say it didn`t make me miss girls. When we got home, Burch and I talked about all our past girl experiences. It seems so surreal, like it was someone else`s life. It`s actually kind of frustrating, not being able to feel like those things were MINE. It will be hard to just jump back into the rold of a normal person. REALLY hard. How can I do that? I wrote a letter to Sis. Black. Her husband died not long ago. We also heard there was a "mini-depression." today :O
Sunday: I had a dream that I was back home, at the Christofferson FHE and I saw Colten, and Aunt Leslie and everyone. I was so happy. Then I woke up in Chile. I`m not going to say it was a bad thing, but those kinds of dreams make it really hard to be "here" and happy. Even thought it feel like another life and everything, I`ve just felt kinda lonely lately. This Ward hates MIssionaries, spies on us, and judge us, without even knowing us. My heart just felt a litle heavy this morning. It hasn`t felt like that in a while, so I can`t really coplain. A Scripture I`ve found in my personal study to help this, is in D&C 136:31. It says that the Lord`s people need to be tried sometimes. The Lord`s people, as well as the non-believers. It`s part of life. What am I gonna do? call the Waaaaaambulance? Trials are just easier--as much for others as for yourself--when you take them in stride, and try to do your best with what you`re given. We met as a Stake this morning, to listen to a Seventy. I do`t know what his name is. He gave a good talk about forgiveness. We had chicken and rice with a less-active member (she works Sundays). We spent the afternoon finishing our contacts. We did it! Woot! My comp. was feeling sick, so he`s asleep already.