This is my blog about all the activities and details about my mission. My folks are going to be updating it weekly, based on the information that I send them through my letters. My current address:
Elder Brigham James Merrell
MTC Mailbox # 138
2005 N 900 E
Provo, UT 84604-1793
Monday: today was a great Pday. The Zone Leaders planned an activity in Lebu. Initially, no one in Curanilahue wanted to go with me. Bu then Eler Arjona spoke with my comp, and reminded him of a commitment he`d made, that I wasnt aware of: to keep his comp. happy. So he changed his mind. But when Elder Smith heard we were going to the beach and some caves, he offered to take Elder Brady`s place. It was really pretty. We went from the main beach, through a long tunnel, into a smaller inlet. It was an awesome white sand bach. We spent the first little while taking pictures. We went quite a ways from the main group. We were climbing on the rocks close to the waves. Elder smith wanted to go to a specific place, but it was too close to the waves for my liking. Elder Smith went ahead to show me how. But as soon as he was pinned in what we thought was a "safe spot", the waves got ENORMOUS and came over his head. He pretyt much almost died. I got pictures. But we got back all right. We were going to receive a spiritual message in the tunnel when Hna. Gomez sprained her ankle. Luckily, an inactive member with a 15-person van drove up right then, and took us to the hospital. Lucky. riiiiiight. Here`s waht I imagine the Spiritual message being: We were in a long, dark tunnel with a light at the end. The way was rocky and dangerous (hence the sprained ankle...it was real, not planned, so don`t go having sadistic thoughts about our teachers). We were told to bring our flashlights. Some didn`t. These could depend on others` lights, but it was not easy. I imagine the flashlights being our testimonies. We can lean on others` from time to time, but it`s a lot more hazardous when we`re directly confronted with challenges. The family`s doing better. Mom said the car`s ready and waiting for me. Dad said the clots are now scar tissue that will dissolve. What a relief.
Tuesday: Today was all right. I got kind of sick in the evening, but it was a good day besides. We made i in time to catch our bus to Distrizona. We spoke with the Zone leaders about goals for this month. As a Zone, we`re actually doing pretty well, and I told them we`d have 2 more for March. It was Elder Smith`s last District Meeting, and he was talking and talking, taking away from the lesson. I wasn`t the one teaching it. It was comforting to know he listens better when I`m the one talking. It shows he respects what I have to say. Elder corliss was awesome and bought a cake for Elder Arjona, because it was his birthday last week. We had lunch with Hno. Alvarado, the Elders` Quorum Pres. He runs a tight ship. He laid out exactly how our lunch behavior would be. Afterwards, he chewed us out for the actions of two of us this past Sunday. Apparently someone had tattled, becasue he wasn`t even in Church on Sunday. He said if he catches us being irreverent (sleeping, reading Scriptures not of the lesson) again, hed take us into the hall. Just so youknow, I wasn`t one of the offenders. When he gave us that little lecture, it was done in a very considerate, loving way. The other 3 Elders were offended. I thought it was cool. As a Leader, I`ve found I`m TOO loving, and sometimes people don`t listen to me. Thanks to this brother`s righteous example, I can be a better leader. I got sick in the evening, throwing up 3 times. I`m feling better now. The other companionship traveled to Concepción tonight, for the Conference tomorrow. We`ll be going tomorrow.
Wednesday: Today was great! I mean I`m really happy right now. I actually heard something cool in our conference: Happiness is a decision. I think that`s true. The trick is doing it even when it`s hard. Anyway, we had our big conference today. We got up at 5:00 so we could take our bus to Concepción. As we got to the Meeting--well, a half-hour before it--I studied Scripture Mastery for 10 min. with Elders Woodward and Rasmussen (Elder Rasmussen and I were the only two to get 100% on the test), the San Pedro Zone Leaders. We spent most of the day learning about improving our teaching skils. We had some really cool object lessons. For example, Elder Tanner had us mention investigator doubts and solutions. We`d then get to try and hit a bulls-eye on a dartboard, representing us trying to findInvestigator`s doubts on our own. Then, he played a track on his iPod (low volume) and told us to listen to the "spirit`s" voice, telling us to throw the dart at the ballon in the garbage can in the corner. I was the first one to recognize it, and got to throw from 4 ft. away. After 5 freakin` failed tries, I gave up. analogy to my mission work (being able to find the doubts but not executing the teaching)? Maybe. It was embarrasing. Elder Brady got it on his first try. I talked with Pres. afterward, asking permission to go baptize Scarlet on the 25th. He said transfers were this week, and I`d be leaving. He gave me permission and thanked me for my patience with elder Brady. He said I`d passed through the trial of faith and now the blessings can come. He thanked me for my obedience and righteousness (in front of everyone, no less) and told me he wanted me to be a Zone Leader (in private) somewhere in Concepción. Wow. I didn`t see that coming. I actually feel really good about it. Better than if he`d told me I`d be training. Whew! YEAH!!! We came back at 9:00 PM and had a [very] late lunch with Hna. Diaz. She`s so awesome.
Thursday: today was a good day. for my personal study, I read some little stories from the January Liahona. they were both about people`s conversion tories. And the cool part was that they were totally miraculous! One told of a girl that got a copy of the Book of mormon form a co-worker, saying that he knew it was a true book of Jesus Christ`s Gospel, and that it would touch her heart. she read it and loved it. Some time later, she moved. One day, she passed abuilding witha stained-glass window of Lehi`s dream. She asked a emmber, and he referred her to the Missionaries. For the Missionaries, it was someone who randomly showed up, wanting to be baptized. It happens. But there is so much that goes on behind the scenes, that we`re not even aware of. Heavenly Father knows each of us, and will do everything to give us the chance to choose happiness. It just depends on us. We had lunch with Hna. Judith, Hno. Neira`s sister. We had CFC--Chilean Fried chicken. It was good. In the afternoon, I had to o with Elder smith to Interview their Investigator, Paula. She`s really smart. And she told me of some of her Spiritual experiences. She`d been told if she wanted to know something, she just had to ask. she asked a question on Fast Sunda. Then, someone testified of Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and Joseph SMith. She said she felt, lik, a wind on her face and a feeling that it was true. As I finihed the closin prayer, she looked like she had something to say. At my request, she told me she felt a calm energy on her back as I prayed. It gave her goosebumps, which she never gets. I still have the Spirit!
Friday: Today was great. 2 years ago, from today, Elder Lisonbee went into the MTC. He completed his 24 months of service. So I gave him a call to congradulate him and see how he was feeling. He said he was dead, and that he was sleeping in. Haha! I can`t believe he`s DONE!!! It feels like it coul dnever end. And, indeed, there are many times when I wish it wouldn`t. It`s sad to think I won`t be able to see him for a while. But I know I`ll see him again soon. It`s just another way the Mission relates to real life. I mean, Grandfather and Grandpa have both died, and I was sad. It wasn`t the grief of a permanent loss, but of emporary separation. We`ll see each other again when I finish my mortal mission, just like I`lls ee Elder Lisonbee in a few months. We`ll watch the new Spider-man movie together--AT MIDNIGHT!!! On our way to lunch, a dog HOWLED at us. Like a wolf. It was sweet. Elder Smith also completed 2 years today. He wasn`t too inclined to work. I didn`t push him. He FINISHED his Mission. That`s so cool. We workedin the afternoon, and met a few people. the most receptive was Gloria. We took our clothes to Hna. Nidia`s. As I shared a Scripture, I discovered I had opened to yet another one about humility. Totally accidental, but it struck a chord in her. She talked bout someone who was offended by her actions, but she assured us she never does anything wrong, and she was the victim. She wouldn`t listen. We (Elder Maldonado and I) met with Hno. Neira for correlation, because Elder Smith got sick.
Saturday: Today was a great day. I spent it with Elder Smith, `cause he asked me to. He`s kinda freakin` out because he`s going to see his family in only a few days more. In the morning, we played some cards while just talking. He told me about all the things he`s excited to do/eat/see when he gets back. I just listened. I`m pretty good at that. Our lunch was a little different today. We had a Branch activity where the little kids got to play in inflatable pools an there was a big tarp to make shad for the adults. For lunch, we had Umitas. In Mexico, they`re caled Taales. Basically, they`re rolls of mashed-up corn and onions. The eat them with sugar, and they`re pretty good. We`re probably going to have leftovers tomorrow. :) We spent a while trying to figure out how to get the font going, for the baptism, because it was acting up. But we did that and waited for it to fill. Then we had Paula`s baptism. She belongs to the other Missionaries. Al went well. In the afternoon, I wrote a reply to Miriam. She`s serving in New York. That`s pretty cool. I got a call in the night, telling me the transfers. I`m going to be a zone Leader in the Talcahuano North Zone, in the "Cruz del Sur" sector with Elder Aparicio. I`ve heard he`s good. Elder Mendenhall is replacing me, here, to be with Elder Brady. I called Hna. Pinar in Los Angeles, to tell her how much I loved and missed her. My hijo`s leaving to be in Temuco Cautín. That`s cool. Elder Calaway and Elder Montalbán are going to be Zone Leaders in the other Zones of the North with me. WOOT!!! I love being a Missionary.
Sunday: So, I woke up to a phone call from the Zone Leaders, telling me that the Olivares family, from Tirúa, want me to baptize their 8 year-old daughter, Belén--this Saturday. Dang it! I`m getting transferred. I`ll have to check with Pres. Martinez and my new comp. But it`s great to have both Scarlet and the Olivares family wanting me to be part of their lives. I love them all. In SAcrament Meeting, all of the themes were basic stuff. I used to get bored of all the repetition, but I realized something really obvious: basics are fundamental. I hear lots of Missionaries say things like, "I can`t wait to do such-and-such with my Eternal Companion." But it`s not like we can just skip there, like it`s automatic. We cannoat make Temple Covenants if we can`t do simple things like daily Scripture study. So those primary talks became very important to me. I just love being instructed by the Spirit. Elder Smith and Elder Maldonado went to Concepción for Elder Smith`s Interview (the office people actually screwed things up, and he actually didn`t have it today, and had to come back). We had lunch with Hna. Bernardina. She`s Elder Oversby`s convert. I`m so grateful for all of the Sisters` sacrifices in our lunches. they WWILL receive blessings. The good news is that Elder Smith`s trip to Concepción was not COMPLETELY in vain: I got a letter from Cassie!!! It was awesome. :D
Monday: Today was a good pday. Very productive. We got a call late last night, from the Zone Leaders, saying that we needed to have the house clean all week because Pres. is going to come and inspect them. The gratifying thing is that all 4 of us did our parts. Elder Smith cleaned the nasty bathroom which had not been cleaned in 6 months. Ugh! Elder Maldonado took care of the kitchen. I`ve been asking him to, for over a week,. There have been ants EVERYWHERE in our apartment. Elder Brady cleaned up his "organized Chaos". Now our room looks decent. I swept the house (wooden floors), dusted, and washed the walls. Then, I did something I didn`t use to do: I looked for something else that needed doing, and took care of the fridge. As a house, we`re in a financial pickle again. Everyone`s out of cash again (except me) because everyone keeps lending money to Elder Smith, and he uses his credit card to pay them off. He`ll get cash on Wednesday. I hope. I loved talking with the family today. Mom said that Daddys feeling much better, not coughing as badly, but his neck still aches from bonking his head last week. All in all, it was a good day.
Tuesday:Today was awesome! I got the money situation taken care of, and we were all able to go to Distrizona. We had enough to take only a certain kind of bus, and we had to go on the first one becasue we don`t get many buses to Cañete and take what we get. The first bus wasn`t the one. I asked the driver how much he charged and, sure enough, it was too much. He must have seen something in my face because he offered a lower price, which was exactly what we needed. Tender mercies of the Lord! The Zone Leaders introduced s ome new goals and I passed them to my district. Eder Arjona spoke with Elder Brady, telling him he needed to start helping out or he`d go home. I bought a big painting for $3. It was random, but gorgeous. I`m full of enthusiasm again. There`s still a part that`s tired and a little disappointed, but I know this is a critical time for elder Brady so I`m going to be a good example. I also asked Eder Corliss to motivate me, just in case. We met nice people and not-so-nice people. We got into one guy`s house, but he was WAY drunk because his wife left him 14 years ago. He asked me to help him and I told him to stop drinking. He went into another room and came back with wine dribbling down his chin. I felt bad. The look on his face is something I usually see in children. We shared a scripture before setting an appt. with him for tomorrow morning, hopefully he`ll be sober. Oh! And his name`s gustavo. It felt good to be enthusiastic again. I`ll last longer this time. Also, I found a list of Elder Brady`s "Positives" that he has, to help change his attitude. He mom had listed, like, 4, and he had 2. One of his was a re-wording of one of his mom`s. the other was "my companion". ME! That makes me feel good.
Wednesday:It`s the first day of February. That`s so crazy how fast the time is going. this morning was so great. I got Elder Brady up on time, today. He kept telling me he was not a morning person the whole time. He alsosaid he didn`t like studying. But when I sat him down, and encouraged him to write in his study journal, he took to it like an alligator takes to some hapless animal...that was a weird simile. :) He just got really into it, you know? But it kind of made me feel guilty, knowing that if I hadn`t let myself get disappointed I would have been able to keep him going. But it takes a LOT to get him going. I`m afraid that I`ll be held responsable for not having had the best attitude. It didn`t bother me before. But I feel that I should always be happy as a Missionary. Anyway, I AM feeling happier. We had our personal studies as well as a companionship study. It was awesome to see him explaining things to me. I was so happy to find how many times I was smiling throughout the day. It rained on Monday, and it seems that it was the "end of summer" rain, meaining that it`s going to start cooling down. Thank goodness. I`ll be gone before winter gets here, though. That`s weird. I was kind of nervous to go over to gustavo`s. but he wasn`t even home. We had lunch with Hna. Diaz. She made us french fries and rice. She also prepared an amazing salsa. We were g oing to visit a referral with a member, javiera, but she never showed up. Elder Corliss called in the evening, to check up on me. He really is a caring and considerate friend. His hijo says he wants me to be his comp. Elder Corliss says he`s worried he`s not being a good trainer, even though he`s working really hard. He`s awesome.
Thursday: today was awesome! We had, like, 3 apts. set up for us and I was excited. I got up and had oreos with milk for breakfast (don`t look at me like that) as I studied. I`m reading in Helaman 5 . I read a quote by Pres. Kimball. He aske dwhat`s the most important word in teh whole dictionary? he suggests it is "remember." I think so, too. `cause when you think about it, covenants are the most imporant thing...out of everything. They`re our ticket into the Celestial Kingdom. We HAVE to stay faithful to them. but I also felt kind of bad, `cause history just doesn`t yank my chain, if you know what I mean. Anyway, things are still going well with Elder Brady`s change. He`s getting up earlier and studying. He`s using his study journal and he started Spanish study on his own, reciting the first part of the First Vision before moving onto the next. It was very heartwarming. We had TONS o ffrench fries, with Hna. Soledad, for lunch. SO GOOD!!! She really likes having us over. Something great that Elder Brady did in the afternoon was say, "Let`s go to our appt." I had been trying to muster the motivation to say the same to him. He`s starting to help me out. All 3 of our appts. fell through, and I was sad. the last was a referral from a youth in the Branch, Javiera. But we had a miracle when we got home. Apparently, the other missionaries had been stopped by a member in a car with his family. They just moved here, from Santiago, and he has 2 sons he wants baptized! :O One`s 12 and the other`s 8. The wife`s not a member, either, and she`s indifferent, so we may be able to work with her. The Lord has blessed us with the tender mercies because we`ve been trying so hard. Also the zone Leaders say we should think about baptism so much, that we dream about it. I tried last night, and got close. I dreamt I was swimming in a supermarket. Hey. There was water. That`s close.
Friday: Today was a good day. everythign just seems better since both elder Brady AND I have been trying our best. I had my personal study in Helaman 5 again. It`s the part where Nephi and Lehi are stuck in a prison with a bunch of bloodthirsty lamanites...Oh and there`s a cloud of darkness, and a pillar of fire, and an earth-trembling voice. Anyway, the Lamanites ask, "What can we do, so that this cloud of darkness may be removed?" One of the nephite desserters says they should call to the voice until they have faith in Christ. From a symbolic standponit it gets interesting. A cloud of darkness, in Lehi`s dream for example, usually means temptation or something that keeps us from God. And I`m sure "Ccalling to the voice" doesn`t imply something empty and impersonal. They had a purpose: have faith in christ. they needed to TALK with him. When they had all done that, they were surounded by PILLARS (plural) of fire. It wasn`t one big one. They each had a personal connection, through the Holy Spirit, to Heavenly Father. Just like each of us do. Pretty neat, I think. Elder Brady not only let me teach him grammar, but he was excited for it. I hope he can change. He needs more light in h is heart. We had lu nch with the Branch Pres`s wife. I feel great when I go over there, becasue she used to be really grouchy, and now I just love seeing her face light up when she talks with me. In the afternoon. I went with elder Smith to take out money, so he could pay me back, as well as accompany him to his haircut. We were going to have an FHE with Hna. Soledad and her husband, but she cancelled. We improvised and did what we always do with free time: contacts.
Saturday: Today was really hard for some reason. I just felt really down
Sunday: I woke up this morning in a fit of depression. Things have been going better, and yet I feel as if I`ve been failing more. I don`t know. I completed 21 months today. I remember meeting lots of people with that time, and thinking they were so close to the end, but I still have 3 months left. But even still, I`m pretty dang close to the end and it`s kind of distracting. We met with the Branch Presidency in lieu (ya like that word?) of Hno. Neira, seeing as how he was out of town. he was nice enough to call me 10 min. before the meeting to let me know, as well as to let me know I`d be teaching Sunday School today. Lovely. It actually went pretty well. It was on the "Fall of Adam and Eve," something I`ve studied a lot in the Mission. But the coolest experience of the day was when we were sitting in Sacrament Meeting as the bread was being passed. I was thinking of all the things I wanted to do better on, when all of a sudden I heard a very distinct voice in my thoughts that my whole body heard, "I forgive you." There haven`t been many times when I`ve identified the Spirit as a voice, but this was one of them. and it was the greatest feeling to know that I could put my mistakes, regret, and pain on the Atonement, and to know that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ not only know me personally, but that they love me in spite of everything I may do wrong.
Monday: Today was awesome. I woke up at 7:30 and got paked and ready to go to Concepción. I`ve had to bring my passport to the office for a while, and I totally spaced. Elder Walker, the Secretary, called me on it when we arrived. I travelled with Elder Corliss and his hijo, Elder Butterfield. On the way up, Eloder Corliss and I just remenisced about a lot of things we did together. Let`s just say 2 1/2 housrs passed quickly. We have a meeting in Concepción tomorrow, but we came a day early so that we could say goodbye to Elder Hall. He was REALLY freaking ou t. He said he`s anxious, and confused about how to feel. I teased him about all the different ways he can look at it. One of the Sister Missionaries, Sister Eggbert, said that even though she has less time left than me, she`s not as trunky as I am. Wow. I`m not trunky, and Elder Corliss totrally defended me. But she looked at me like I was sinning. Wonderful. We had lu nch at the new Subway they built. NOt worth it. We replaced Elder Diaz for Elder Butterfield, for the Meeting tomorrow. We had to wait in the office for a while before going to write the family. Mom said Daddy`s cold has turned into an infection and that he bonked his head on Uncle Doug`s new truck. I`m so worried for him! I just want some good news. Pres. gave us permission to visit someone from Hualpencillo. He also thanked me for being with Elder Brady and sticking it out. Elder Pliler said I might be asked to train again, next transfer. I think that`d just be the best. We spent the evening with the Cruz family, being loved and loving back. Then, we spent the night with Elders Mendenhall and Jackson. They`re really close friends of mine.
Tuesday: This morning was cool. WE all got up on time and did exercises. Elder Mendenhall was really impressive. He rean 3 km and then did "ab-ripper X" with me. That HURTS! Haha. I didn`t last long at all. But after that, Elder Mendenhall kept going and worked out with his arms. He`s a stud. I can`t wait to swiom. That, I can do. We eventually had to leave to our Meeting in the church. we`re realizing that the number of baptisms is going down as a Mission. We`re all working hard, but the Asisstantsand Pres. want us to be able to work more efficiently, being able to do more. We didn`t really learn anything new. They just helped us realize that our focus shouldn`t be on contacts or referrals, but that all of the other things help us baptize more people. We practied finding someone`s doubt and solving it. I was the Investigator, being taught by Elders WAlker and DeGracie. I swea, they spoke for, like, 5 min. before they asked me a question. They would just talk AT me. It wasn`t too productive. But ewhen they started asking questions, trying to find out where I was standing and they were able to progress and stuff. I got to see Elder LIsonbee and Elder Burch. They`re so great. We travelled back home. Today was elder SMith`s b-day. Elder Maldonado and I went and got him a Raspberry-chocolate cake. mmm. Yesterday, I oculdn`t write my family for the full hour. So I did, today! I chatted with Cass and Dev. Cass said Mom`s been going easy on me. Apparently Daddy has one lung that`s "dead." Cass said he can recover, though. I certainly hope so.
Wednesday: So, for the first time in 61/2 months of being a District Leader, I didn`t have to prepare a class for my District Meeting. Usually, Elder Smith doesn`t pay attention, claiming he already knows it. So I gave him the class and it was really greatifying to see the enthusiasm with which he taught the class. It had been a while since he`s had it. Before the District Meeting, while we were together as a Zone, Elder Coprliss asked if he could borrow a marker. I gave him mine. As we started our Meeting, I realized he needed it for his meeting., instead of jotting something down. I said sorry for having mislead him, and Sister Eggbert (the one that called me trunky on MOnday) said to only say sorry if I mean it. Duh! That`s why I said it! We had our class and went home. On the ride home, I was really concerned with how Sister Eggbert has been treating me. I mean, I`ve been nothing but nice to her, in the whole 2 conversations we`ve had in 3 months. I barely know her. Elder Smith says she likes me. Ha! yeah, right. If she takes another swing at me, I think I`ll have to confront her. We had some really yummy noodle soup with beans and longaniza for lunch. The other missionaries had their first appointment with their investigator who showed up to church by herself. It`s their 3rd Investigator that they`ve had, that has come, ready to be baptized. I want to be a fruitful missionary. It`s been 6 months since I`ve baptized. I know success isn`t measured by baptisms, but I want...something. We met Manuel yesterday. He invited us back today, and we taught about baptism. He said he doesn`t want anything to do with that, that his Pastor said he`s already saved. I know I cand do better, but I just want a little help.
Thursday: today was a good day. I woke up and had my personal study. I also read Elder Scott`s talk, from this past Conference, about Scripture study. He said that memorized Scripture passages can be like close friends that will always be there to offer comfort, strength, and guidance; and they won`t fade over time. It`s our connection to Heavenly Father for the things we need. These days, I`m preaying my hardest for Daddy`s sake. I love him so much. I think this is one of the few times I`ve had to dependd on my faith so much--trustin gthat everything will be alright. We had lunch with Hna. María Rivas. She made apple/orange/ chirimoya juice. We did contacts for a while, before Elder Maldonado called and asked if I`d go to an appt. with him. He said Elder smith didn`t want to go. So I went. We stopped by Hno. Riffo`s house and had him accompany us, because we were visiting his daughter`s in-laws. The investigator`s name is Sergio. I`ve got to say that it felt good to teach again. I mean, REALLY teach--with a companion and everything. I`ve realized we haven`t had investigators because I just can`t do this on my own. I`ve had 3 months (almost) where preactically nothing has happened. Pres. asks me to be patient. I thought I was, but iot`s getting harder. I find myself wanting more, but I guess that`s the first step: recognize that the impatience and wanting is there. I`ll be better. We had the weekly activity night and Elder maldonado went to the bathroom in the church. all the Neira family tried to tell Elder Smith to be with him. He said no. I know he`s right. the manual said we don`t have to accompany our comps. to the bathroom. But he was pretty impolite to Madelyn and her brother.
Friday: Today was pretty uneventful. I did have a really good time in personal study, though. I read Pres. Monson`s talk from the last conference called, "Stand in Holy Places." He spoke about moral standards an dhow the world has totally lost it`s moral compass. When God`s prophet calls the world out on things like that, you need to sit down with yourself and see how you`re doing. I`m so grateful for coming on my Mission and havin gthe Spirit in my life. Pres. Monson says that there is NOTHING that brings us greater joy in this life. He aslso spoke abou thte special relationship we can have with Heavenly Father, through daily prayer. I think that was a little bit of inspiration--the fact that I chose that story at this difficult time. We had lunch with the Branch Pres`s wife. When I explained about Daddy`s situation, she told me to pray as well. I AM feeling better, even now. Like, no matter what happens, everything will be alight. I guess I can`t be selfish to demand to have what I want over what Heavenly Father wants. We met a really nice woman today named Karen. We chatted with her, and found out she doesn`t feel like she knows Christ. She said we oculd come by another day, to help her. In the evening, we visited Hna. Soledad. She seemed to be doing better. We just had a nice visit.
Saturday: Today was a great day. I read General Conference talks in the morning. I really liked one by Sister Elaine S. Dalton. It was called "Love Her Mother." It was for fathers who needed more help on how to help raise their daughters. Her counsel, obviously, was to love their wives, and she said how to do it. I feel like I`ve changed a lot in the Mission. For example, I find every possible chance to love people, but it`s been so long since I`ve even considered anything romantic. Romantic was all I aspired to be, before the Mission. but that`s only part of it. I`ve learned that righteous actions also have a large rold in everything we do. Things like dligence, hard work, honesty, REAL love--charity (being able to see people as who they really are, and loving the bad as well as the good), patience, and being able to accept the Lord`s will in all things. That came out of nowhere. I`m grateful for revelation. See there? The Lord just helped me see that I`ve learned really good things. I can remember specific instances when I learned those attributes. I treasure all of the opportunities I have had, to be able to progress. I`m feeling the Spirit so strongly right now! I know Heavenly FAther loves me, and that all of my life has a Plan, and that it`s for my happiness. As I become aware of the happiness that the Spirit can bring, I am trying to encourage Elder Brady to be better. But he`s just getting angrier. I went with Elder Smith to a downhill biking event (with Pres`s permission). We worked extra hard during the week so we could have time to go. It was free. They had some really good riders. In the afternoon/evening, we cleaned the Chapel.
Sunday: Toiday was a vbery good SAbbath Day. We started it out by going to our correlation meeting with the Branch Mission Leader. Elder Smith and his comp. weren`t ready on time, so they weren`t there. So, we got chewed out for Elder Smith`s actions on Thursday. Hno. Neira also told Elder Brady to stop looking so darn depressed all the time, and to start studying Spanish. Elder Brady continued to stare blankly, unaware he was being spoken to. It was 5th Sunday, so we started out with everyone together. Pres. Rojas put a black dot on the otherwise blank whiteboard. He asked us what we saw. A lot of people said, "A black dot." He asked if we wouldn`t rather like to see all the white. He said, "Sometimes we see only the black dot in our Brothers and Sisters, instead of the vast white background." I realized I may be one of the "spot" people, so I think that`s something else I want to work on, for myself. An RM asked, "If you had a child on a train track, listening to their headphones, and they couldn`t hear your shouts of warning, would you leave them there saying, "Oh, they have their agency?" Or would you take their earbuds, pick them up, or take some other action?" It was a good example of good parenting skills I`ll keep forever. Judging from yesterday`s entry, as well as a lot of times in personal study, I`ve found that writing=revelation. If we aren`t writing, we aren`t learning. Same thing goes for school. We had yummy tomato pasta for lunch. In the afternoon, we got a call from a member from concepción, who was visiting here, and asked for a blessing for his mom. We met up at the church. The mom recently had her leg amputated, and she had a foot-long stick coming out of her neck (she never explained it). In the blessing (for a head and tummy ache) I gave her, it sounded like I was preparing her and her family for death. That`s a first. I hope everything goes well.
Monday: Today was a wonderful Pday. I was the first one up, and I just walked through the apartment, enjoying the feeling of nothing to do. We went to write the family, but my family hadn written me yet, so we planned to return in the afternoon. Hna. Pinar wrote me and says she misses me and that it`s not the same without me there. Fernanda told me it`s her mom`s b-day this Sunday, and that I HAVE to call. :) We discovered that the 4 of us are almost out of cash, and the rest of our moeny is on our cards. The buses to our Meeting only take cash, and I have enough for my comp. and I to make the trip there. It`s scary because the only ATM in the city is closed. We returned to writing the family, and found out that Daddy now has a cold. My favorite email was from Cassie (friend). She worried about me, and, to comfort me, she used a Scripture I shared with her...a YEAR ago! She remembered! She wanted to open her b-day letter so bad, that Tina had to take it away. My hijo threatened to do the same thing when I got my b-day letter from her. We did contacts in the evening, and had a good time talking with people.
Tuesday: Alright, so today was the best day I`ve had in 2 months. Oh! I`m so happy. I`ve been so focused on the principles of sacrifice and Go`s love for us, lately. today, I finally was able to put them into practice. In my District Meeting, I had everyone analyze the "Christlike Attributes" in PMG and choose their weakest one. Elder Smith and I tied for "Diligence." My next-worst was patience. This week, we`re all going to improve our attributes and become real disciples of Christ. I`m really worried about Elder Smith. He`s too casual with the Gospel, and laughed at me when I tried to motivate them to be better. We had french fries with Hna. Soledad for lunch. Yum. Elder Smith started to annoy me with inappropriate talk, and I then got upset at myself for not being patient with him. So I tried better, and got better. we started a fast for a greater desire for good and for Daddy`s health. We were heading out to do contacts, and Elder Smith was saying somethign contrary, but my comp. said, "I want to do contacts with Elder Merrell!" I was so happy for him! We set an appt. with our first contact. Our last contact (Diligence PWN!) was really special. He was a drunk kid, but we were able to "astonish" (Matt. 7:28) him. He kept asking about 2012 and the end of the world. He also admitted he was smoking and drinking. He wasn`t sure if he should follow God or tuck those beliefs away. I asked for the Lord`s help . I had the impression he was nervous of being held accountable for sins. I taught him of being able to repent, be baptized and receive a remission of those sins. Then, he was really interested. It was like a switch had been flipped. He invited us back for another day. I`m grateful for the Lord`s help with me and my weaknesses.
Wednesday: Today wasn`t as productive as yesterday, but I was still able to learn a few important things. I`ve discovered that I really am happier when I choose the right. I`ve gotten much better at recognizing the Spirit`s promptings, too. I realized that most times, when I don`t choose the right, it`s because I stop and think, "Oh, but this other thing might be fun," or something. But it`s like in one of those shows where, objectively, you know everything that`s going on and what the character should do. You know what he needs, but he still chooses wrong. I figured I know what I need and what will happen if I don`t do it. So, I`m not even going to consider following my own desires and passions when I get a prompting. If the Spirit says, " " that`s what I`m going to do. I was reading some conference talks. One, by Elder Uchtdorf, taught me another lesson. Pride is one of the most dangerous sins. It`s about competition. There are two extremities Satan uses to attack: making us feel more important than otheres, and making us feel less important and feel alone. But the solution to both of those is selfless/humble service (Mosiah 3:19). I love being able to help others. We had lunch with the Llancapan family. I bought a choc. bar for Hno. Llancapan`s b-day. Afterward, I searched our map for 45 min. trying to find our contact`s house for our appt. We never found it, and that means we never showed up. Dang it! Wep re still trying to be better missionaries, though. I hope Elder Brady can change. It seems everyone`s apathetic in this house but me.
Thursday: This morning was normal: Elder Maldonado and I were up while the other two alept. Haha. It`s kind of sad. When Elder Arjona called he had some important announcements. The biggest one was that Elder Hall`s going home, on Tuesday, because of his sickness. Elder Arjona wants everyone who can to meet with them, in Concepción to say goodbye. I spent the next hour coordinating with the other District Leaders, so Elder Hall wouldn`t overhear. I asked Elder Arjona if he knew his next comp. He said no, but it would be really weird if one of us from Curanilahue became his comp., but he`d find out on Saturday. Elder Corliss said I+ d hate him for not telling me something, but I`d find out on Saturday. He thinks I`ll be zone Leader. Ha! I guess we`ll see. We had lunch with Hna. María Rivas. She always makes home-made cherry juice. It`s sooooo good, especially after being in the heat for so long. We had an appt. with a young man, John, we met the other day. I went with Elder Maldonado, so I wouldn`t have to teach alone. John wasn`t home, so we knocked doors on another street for a few hours. We got one appt. with a lady, Veronica. We found an inactive member that has baptism-age children that aren`t baptized. his name`s oscar, and he`s really nice. We had our weekly game night with the ward. We played soccer and tennis. When we got home, Pablo called me. He`s been in Santiago for a few weeks. He said he has a friend, Catelín, who wants us to invite her to church. I told him we`d go by tomorrow. Tender mercies of the Lord are wonderful.
Friday: Today was a good, if uneventful, day. Actually, Elder smith told me of some disturbing news. Apparently, there`s a bill being passed back home, that will outlaw internet copyright infringement--for media, information, etc. I didn`t think much of it until he tol dme that if it gets passed we could lose websites like Google, yahoo, and wikipedia. This is huge! Elder Smith and I went to lunch together. Today, the Relief Society had a party at the city pool. So we walked out there to pick up our bagged lunch and then walked back. As we walked, Elder Smith told me how public gymns work and how great they are. He taught me a little about weightlifting, too. we had peeled potatoes with a lettuce-tuna salad. We bought a completo to help it go down easier. Elder Maldonado went out with me in the afternoon. We went by Catelín`s house, so we could get to know her and invite her to church like Pablo asked us to do. But her dad came out and told us she works in Concepción on weekdays, and that we`d have to return tomorrow. He wasn`t that cordial with us, but we`re going to come back anyway. We found, in a newspaper, that "megaupload.com" was closed yesterday. Since that`s where most of Chile gets it`s music/any media, it was pretty big. If the bill does go through, and we can`t use google, then college is going to be very hard. Holy Smokes!
Saturday: Today was a productive day. WE got up and did our workouts and studies. Elder Maldonado aske dme if I could beat his push-up record. I did, and then Elder Smith beat me. That`sfine. I built for moving and jumping and stuff. I went out with Elder Maldonado, in the morning, to visit some of his old contacts and try and help them progress. wE didn`t find any. and we had to climb a staircase of...I don`t know how many stairs, but we went up a 1/4 mile. Whew! We had lunch with the Riffo family. wE found out that the 60 year-old brother has been working 18-hour shifts for a week, (4 PM-10 AM) and he still comes to church! After lunch, he put on a serious face and said, "Don`t get me wrong Elders, we`re happpy to have you here. Very happy. But--" Right there, I thought he ws gonig to chew us out for something, as a LOT of people like to do in this country. But he said this, "Please forgive us for not having more." He actually thought we cared about that, and wanted to serve us more. This brother is one of the best examples of Christ-like humility that I`ve seen. Elder Corliss had told me a story of a peasant boy who saw a man standing by a shiny car. He asked the owner if it was his. The man said he`d bought it for his brother who wasn`t doing so well. The boy said, "I wish," and the man thought he would wish for a brother to buy him things. But tears came to his eyes as he said, "I wish I could BE a brother like that." I`m going to try and be like that for my family. We couldn`t find Catelín. We were walking around. We passed an old lady on a park bench, and her smile was sweet with a little bit of...hope(?) in it. So I turned around (imagine that image of a missionary doing a 180 on the sidewalk to talk to someone. Weird) and spoke with her. He rname`s María, and she and her husband would love for us to visit them. In the evening, we cleaned the Chapel. Then I helped Elder Brady prepare for the talk that he has to give tomorrow.
Sunday: today was less than awesome, but still ended well. for our class in Priesthood we had to have read "Counsel for the Youth" by Boyd K. Packer. It was a rally good message from the last conference. He said that even though bad, scary things may be happening in the world, IF we heed the promptings of the Spriit, we will be protected. That`s a huge promise. He said that "hearing" the voice of the Spirit is more of a feeling. Elder Brady did well on his talk. We had lunch with a part-member family. I didn`t know that. When Elder Smith introduced himself, I said, "He had the second vision." The non-member 21 year-old said, "What?" Realizing he wasn`t a member, I quickly said, "What?" like I hadn`t heard right, and moved on. In the afternoon, I asked everyone to help clean the apartment for Elder Corliss and his comp. that were going to be staying with us tonight. No one helped for a while. Elder Smith and Elder Brady joined later. We had to take the clothes today. I asked Elder Smith to wait for me. He walked right out the door. My comp. and I left later. They waited a 1/4 mile later. I didn`t speak `cause I felt like Elder Smith just didn`t respect me and had not cared what I had to say. He even said so when I told him what bothered me. He said that he hadn`t heard me aske him to wait, and told me I shouldn`t be so sensitive. He called me a baby and aske if I`d do that to my wife. He said I should grow up. He just kept attacking, blowing the whole thing out of proportion. I said nothing and couldn`t sto pthe tears. Elder Brady swore at Elder Smith for the 2 months of bullying that I`ve endured from Elder Smith. ( hadn`t realized it for what it was). I cried all the way home and the other two stayed to see the laundry sister. I didn`t want to be angry, so I made Elder Smith`s be dand folded hi sclothes. He apologized when he got home. Hna. Soledad asked to speak with us (Elder Smith and I) in person, at 10 PM. She told us about a serious marriage problem that she had(and it is serious). She doesn`t know what to do. I was like, "Please, Heavenly Father, help me help her." I gave her som eadvice, then a Priesthood blessing of comfort. She said she felt the Spirit as I blessed her. I called my convert, Sabrina, and my Chilean mom, Maite Millahual, to wish them both Happy Birthday.
Monday: Today was a relief. We woke up on time, and just relaxed until the Branch Pres. arrived with the tennis net for us. elder Maldonado was the only other one that wanted to play with me. but we still had lots of fun. While we were there, the Assisstants called me. Elder Tanner and Elder Pliler are the new Assisstants! They were my favorite Zone Leaders when they were comps before. Anyway, they asked if I, or anyone here, had a talent to share in front of the Mission at our conference, on Wednesday. I couldn`t think of a talent that was "showable." But Elder Tanner asked if someone SOMEHOW got their hands on a footbag, I would be willing to share that. OH YEAH! Throughout the day, I split up my Internet time, so I cold email and get a response. It took a few tries, but mama wrote me back. She said Daddy`s feeling muh better, with less pain, but there`s still a bit of room to recover.I love mama so much. This must have been such a scare for her. Later, I got a hold of Cassie (sister). It was cool to be able to hear form her. NOw I know why she hasn`t written me: She got a new email address without telling me. She said she`s still trying to figure out her iPhone. I was able to teach her something she hadn`t known before. WOOT! We worked in the evening. I`m feeling better as I make the resolution to do my best, no matter who I`m with. Pres. Swenson said times like this would come, and when they did, I`d have to just keep going and to drag my comp. with me.
Tuesday: today was great. We go tup and ready to go to our distrizona. I called the zone Leaders to ask if they`d bring some new planners. It turns out they were in Concepción and had cancelled Distrizona because Elder hall was really sick and had a Doctor`s apt. up there. I hope he has a quick recovery. He`s a really good Elder. I finally got a color code going for my new study journal system. I had fun having some personal study. i trie to make a good suggestion to Elder Brady to help with his Spanish, but he acted insulted and said practicing was overrated, like being on time was, as well. In the afternoon, he said he didn`t want to work, and that if I did, I`d have to go with Elder maldonado. Wow. It`s official. I don`t know how to help him. I admitted it to myself today: I`m depressed. I spoke with Elder Maldonado. That helped.We went to visit their recent convert, Alvaro. I wanted to teach him how to study well. We had a really great lesson, and had the opportunity to give a blessing to his mom, who had a horrible headache. They gave us ties, saying, "We got these for the first two missionaries who came to give a blessing." They had so much faith that we`d come, that they`d bought TIES. And the Lord did send us. Elder Smith asked me to run some errands for him. I was so fed up with him and Elde rBrady and I reacted in anger. But then I felt bad and did it anyway. Elder Smith pointed out, the other day, that I`m submissive. That`s his word for humble. I don`t want him to take advantage of me, but I don`t know how else to be. I called Eldder Lisonbee, to wish him "happy 23" in the Mission.
Wednesday: I learned so much today! We had a special conference with our Area Pres./Seventy, Elder Lawrence E. Corbridge. Whenever he comes, my mind pretty much explodes. Sister Corbridge gave a talk that told us, "Decide to decide." She told us we needed to place lines in our lives that we`ll never cross, and just create a pllan for our lives. It was what I`d been praying for: a way to better resist temptation. Elder Corbrige spoke about the relationship of two opposites: He said the more we forget ourselves, the more we benefit from it. Self-interest and selflessness. He asked, "What good having the whole world would do you if you lost your soul?" He said life is about learning good from evil and learning to make the best decisions. Our greatest accomplishment, in this life, will be ourselves. "If there is anything virtuous, lovely, of of good report, or praiseworthy", we seek after THOSE things. Why? Because we become them. We spent the afternoon learning how to teach better. It was a really cool process, but I don`t have room here. Elder Tanner gifted me a footbag, today! It`s so I can hav something to show in the next talent show. I had an interview with Pres. Martinez while Elder Brady spoke with Eder corbridge. I told him what bothered me and he gave me encouragement. He thanked me for thi sservice and told me to have patience. He said he wants 10 more missionaris like me. He told me my hijo looks p to me and has me up on a pedestal. He actually called me today, to cheer me up. He knows I`m struggling. Oh! Elder Burch and I had a mini comp. study and practice because both our comps. hate studying. it was so great to have comp. study again. It`ll be cool to do it with my wife!
Thursday: today was awesome! We got up to go to our Distrizona Meeting, but our bus never came. So, we had to go with the other companionship. We arrived right before the openin prayer. After that, Elder Hall gave me my "Trunky Letter" in front of everyone. I also go tletters from Bro. And Sis. Duke, Sister Nibley, and my friend, Miriam. She`s already halfway through with her Mission. She`ll get home in September, I think. It turns out that the Senior Missionary couple in our mission, are Sister Nibley`s Sister and Brother-in-law. I had prepared a class on the Book of Mormon, but, the whole trip to the Meeting, I couldn`t stop thinking about what we learned yesterday, aout the process of a silogism: 2 beliefs followed by a conclusion. As I taught, my mind was filled with ideas and I knew that`s what we needed. We picked up our clothes before going to lunch. There, Madelyn Neira asked for help scraping off paint when we finished. We spent the afternoon helping her an dher sister scrape paint off the house of an old non-member lady with only one leg. We had fun. I spoke with elder Smith, which was...entertaining. We found that he and Madelyn clash becuase their personalities clash. She did note, however, that out of the four of us, I am the sweetest. That`s a plus. The YSA had a game night, and invited us to come. We`d been working all day, so we did. Thre was tennis, ping-pong, and basketball. B-ball was my favorite. We played 21, and apparently my lak of skill and goofy behavior made everyone laugh. It was a real spirit-lifter.
Friday (the 13th): today was REALLY hot. I got up and did my studying. I finished Helaman 4. It was so sad to see all the bad things that happened to the Nephites, as well as the things they lost. It was not only due to their iniquity, but their lack of belief was also the cause. How many blessings do we lose, in times of need, just becuase we give up on believing? But Mosiah 8:16-18 tells us what we have, in our time, to warn us of all the consequences of sin: a Prophet. The conference edition of the Liahona just came out, and it`s sweet. We left at 10:00 to go help Madelyn and Eileen scrape paint again. It`s a HUGE project. Madelyn tol me of her dream of studying in BYU. Thinking of BYU made me realize how close I am, to going home. I`m terrified! What am I going to do? Going on dates again? AH! We worked until lunch with the Branch Pres`s wife. We were going to work with Madelyn`s brother, Ronald, who came home early from the Mission. I don`t know why. Anyway, he cancelled an hour before we were scheduled to go do contacts. It`s not that hot here (okay, maybe it is), but what really affects me is how strong the sun is. It stings and makes me anxious. Today was worse becuase, because of the heat, I got a really bad migreaine. I tried to keep working, but it got to the point where I couldn`t function and we had to come back home.
Saturday: today was a really good day. I really am grateful for my Mission, specifically because of the chance I have to surround myself with spiritual things, and, in turn, be changed by them. I want to continu having personal study every day after my Mission. It`ll be cool to do it as a family when I get home. In the morning, I went with Eldder Maldonado to go get his hair cut. I almost did, as well, but even though my hair`s long for me, it`s really not that long. so I`ll wait a bit. Our lunch was...different. We started with a big soup filled with some oysters. Yuck! I thought that would be it, but the sister came back with peeled potatoes (not baked) and batter-covered fish. It would have been normal, but it still had silver scales poking thorugh the crust. Mmmm. In the afternoon, I was feeling depressed again, but you know who came to my rescue? Elder Smith! He said for me to come and do contacts with him. That did so muh for me. I didn`t have to do all the contacts myself. I spoke Spanish with him. It was awesome. we were able to speak with a gentleman, named Luis. He said he had to go to a conference today, but he`d love to have us over, another day. Tood bad we were knocking in the other sector`s...sector. We did a quick stop by Internet so Elder Smith could see if his family had sent him money. I`ve been covering for him for a week. But he says he`ll pay me back. He`s good. I can`t wait to hear from my family on Monday:
Sunday: Today was wonderful. I woke up to a phone call from Madelyn, telling me her dad (the Ward Mission Leader) wanted to meet with us at 8:30. Today, we made it on time! During church, I received some very special instruction form Heavenly Father. It just happened n the middle of Priesthood. It was this: "We need to give up everything. God did. He gave up the thing he loved most--his son. What is a good sacrifice I can make? What can I give up, to e a better servant? (Personal desires, impatience, entertainment, time, etc.) If I give up my desires, God`s will replace them and I will be worthy of blessings. Without temporary distractions I can be a better Missionary, and with more work, I can be a better person." Everything in the world belongs to Heavenly Father, except our desires /will. And that`s the one thing he asks of us. We have to give up things that we may think are good, trusting that we will, in the end, receive something great. It`s like that story where the girl gives her pretty fake-pearl necklace to her Dad, and he gives her a beautiful, genuine, pearl necklace. Sometimes sacrifice is hard when you can`t see the results immediately. But that promise will always be there (D&C 130:20-21). We worked in the afternoon. Elder Burch called, and said he`s getting transsferred from his difficult comp. this week, and he`s training! He`s been upset because he`s still Junior comp.--but not anymore. He was so excited to tell me, `cause he knew I`d be happy for him. I miss being around ice, sincere people. Everyone in my house is cool, bu not that loving. Elder Smith and I visited Hna. Soledad, to return a jacket she`d lent me. She`s really cool.
Monday: Today was really cool. Elder Brady and I were the only ones home, still, and we slept in. It was awesome. I studied fo ra while, before he got up and we went to use Internet. Just for a bit, so we could return in the afternoon `cause that`s usually when Daddy writes me. I ended up chatting with Devin for a little bit. He told me about his favorite games and books. We got completos with the other Elders, when they got back, with mint ice cream for dessert. I`d missed it. Nobody had written me, of the family. Elder Maldonado felt sick. He asked if I`d go to the Apartment with him. I read for a while, until sundown. But my lightbulb blew and I couldn`t read more. Smith and Brady said they hand`t found anyone in their contacts. And so ends the first transfer here.
Tuesday: So we got gas this morning. That means no more cold showers! But my shower was actually too hot, and the controls were broken-ish, so I couldn`t cool it down. I acutally missed my cold shower. Today is the first day of the new transfer. I studied some more of Helaman 4. Something I`ve always found strange is how often the Nephites and Lamanites fight. It seems so pointless. In this part, the Lamanites have conquered much of the land. But Moroniah (spelling in english?), the Nephite general, "reconquers" some cities. I turned it into a battle of good vs. evil, like we have in our lives and saw that we have to be brave when the "bad" conquers parts of our lives, and reconquer those parts. ALWAYS resist temptation. We had our lunch that was really far, today. When we got home, I called Mirta, from Hualpencillo. She wasn`t doing so well. Ever since we met her, her father has been an instrument in the hands of the Adversary to hedge up the way. Apparently, right before Christmas, he told MIrta she was dead to him. She just barely turned 16! She got kicked out of her house and is now living with her sister. But she said she had a happy New Year`s. I felt so proud of her. She`s so optimistic. Always. I shared a few Scriptures with her before telling her I loved her and hung up. I`ll be praying for her. We did contacts and got into a few houses, actually. In the evening, we played soccer with the youth. Camilo, the recent convert, and Pablo, who got back from his mini-mission, were there. Pablo said that Pres. Martinez adores me. He said he talks well of all the missionaries, but he really likes me. That helped me, especially because I`ve been feeling kinda like a failure. Soccer was really fun. But now I`m super tired.
Wednesday: Today went well. We got up and waited for our undependable bus. It didn`t show up on time. We eventually made it to our Distrizona Meeting. We all had to introduce ourselves to the two new Missionaries in Tirùa. I think my comp. has changed for the better in the six weeks we`ve already spent together. In our District Meeting, he was definitely participating more than he used to. We did a practice lesson. I said we could do it in Spanish or English, and he chose Spanish. He struggled for a big, but he didn`t give up, and I was just cheerin` him on as hard as I could. I taught them about "The Vision of Baptizing", a talk by Elder Corbridge. I tried to help them understand WHY we baptize, and the importance of the remission of sins. I hope we can see results soon. It`s been getting harder and harder for me to stay strong. I don`t feel depressed, just tired of fighting. I don`t want to be a bad Missionary. I WANT to be strong and make the right decisions every time, but sometimes I`m not that strong. It`s like I know the answer, but not how to execute the plan itself. Anyway, Elder Smith and I went on an exchange to do a service project for Hna. Soledad Rodriguez. Then we finished up, doing contacts. As we headed to the house, we pooled our money and bought a big bag of mashed potatoes. 32 servings baby!
Thursday: So, I completed 20 months, today.I`m in the 20`s! I know that sounds like a lot, but I`ve still got 4 left (Devin!)--plenty of time to work. I studied alone, until I had to report our numbers to the zone Leaders. After I did that, Elder Hall asked me how I was doing. Usually, I tell him I`m alright, but today I came clean. I told him I`m tired and my comp. is dragging me down. Elder hall has been Elder Brady`s Zone Leader all of Elder Brady`s Mission, so he knows him. He asked if Elder Brady had progressed at all. I told him he hadn`t. When I told Elder Hall all this, he said that it shows. I`m losing energy. Anyway, Elder Hall said he`d write Pres. about our situation. Elder Diaz, from tirúa, doesn`t have a cell phone, and didn`t know the Meeting in Concepción was cancelled. So we tried to cut him off in our city, but he wasn`t on any of the buses. Elder Smith went with me. He and I have gotten to be good friends. He just has a really strong personality and likes to be right. He`s totally gonna help me bargain-hunt when I get back. After lunch, my comp. and I did contacts for a while. Then, we tried to visit an inactive member that Elder Smith had told us had kids that aren`t baptized. They weren`t home. At night, we found out our oven works. So we made brownies. It was a weak oven, so it took 2 hours. Hahah. it`s 12:10 AM right now. But they`re delicious, so it`s totally worth it.
Friday: I got up, this morning at 8:15 `cause I left our phone (alarm clock) in the other room and didn`t hear it. I got up and did my personal study. I`ve never asked for an emergency transfer, because I`ve considered it cowardice and going against God`s will. But I am really getting close. During lunch with the Branch Pres.`s wife, she aske dhow much time I have left. When I told her, she said she wants me to finish here because I`m so happy. She confessed that she`s a bit of a serious person. As I began giving her some advice, she asked me for counsel with one of her neighbors. She feels like she`s losing a friendship. It was interesting how the Spirit guided the conversation so she could receive her answer. In the afternoon, I had to use email really quick, and chek the class I have to give next week. But when I looked, I found an email, saying Daddy`s in the hospital with blood clots in both lungs. BLOOD CLOTS!!! LUNGS!!! I can`t function without my Daddy. I just can`t. Mom said the blood thinners should take him back out of the woods. I`m just really scared. We had an FHE with the Neira family and a few other families. They hadn`t warned us that we had the lesson. We taught the Book of Mormon and then watched "The Testaments." I told Madelyn about Daddy, and she offered to call mom tomorrow. that`s so nice.
Saturday: I had a really cool personal study today. I`m starting to do the activities in the Seminary manual for the Book of Mormon that I found. today, I studied pride, and why it`s sometimes called the "central sin," and all the other sins that can come from it. Thankfully, Helman 3:35 shows us how we can get rid of pride. It comes from giving our heart to God. That`s what Alan and I are trying to do. he`s so awesome! Madelyn called me this morning. She had a very soft tone of voice, as if she didn`t want me to get hurt. She said, "I talked with your mom, and she said that you need to remain calm when you hear this--" I stopped listening right there. I started thinking, "I don`t have a Dad anymore. What`s the family gonna do? That am I gonna do?" And my heart was racing. But Madelyn rephrased it and said, "You mom says to remain calm, because your dad`s out of the hospital and recovering." I told her she scared the living CRAP out of me. GAH!!! But I`m very relieved that Daddy`s alright. Whew! the place where we use Internet has a girl, our age, who works there. she took this week off because her dad died. I`m going to give her chocolate and the Plan of SAlvation when she comes back. The 4 of us and her chat when we go over. I think this is God, preparing her. I hoep she can feel better. I can`t imagine how she must be feeling. I got a glimpse, and it almost drove me crazy. We did contacts in the evening. We got in a few houses today. There was on lady, Graciela, who was really nice and receptive. I asked if Elder Smith would sell me one of his Portable hard drives. He`s thinking about it.
Sunday: today was a great day. Well, mostly. Now that we finally have gas, again, for warm showers, our water heater broke. It`s okay. I only got one hot shower and I fount I didn`t like it as much. I guess I`ve just gotten used to these showers. We were almost late to church again, even though we`re two minutes away. Let`s see, nothing exciting happened in church. After that, we had lunch with the Neira family. We had barbeque meat again: beef and turkey, with an awesome salsa. While I was at church, I fount out that Ayleen, a member of the family, wasn`t feeling well..but I don`t know if it was emotionally or physically. So I shared a Scripture from Mosiah 4 that says we aren`t commanded to run faster than we are able, and that we should just be diligent in what we can do. I f we do that, we`ll receive all the blessings we need. It`s so amazing that he put all of the commandments within the limits of everyone. Oh! And I was thinking about Moroni`s primise. He invites us to ask if "these things are NOT true." Why not ask if they ARE true? I think it`s because the latter is too easily dismissed by most people. Can someone who doesn`t believe the church is true prove that it ISN`T true? I think I just condemned myself to dual-questioning everything for life. We finished our contacts today. wE met our goal for the first time, and we got some new investigators. YEAH! At night, we watched Elder maldonado`s copy of "The Errand of Angles." In my opinion, it captures the real feeling of a Mission better than "The Best Two Years." The whole movie, whe`s having a LOT of hard times, and only a few happy times. But at the end, all she remembers are the good moments. It was way cool.
Tuesday: Due to the fact that we gave up our Pday yesterday so we could have our distrizona, we were allowed to do our Pday stuff today. We started out by playing tennis. Last week I was pretty bad. Seriously. this week, I got really good at serving. that reminds me of a quote I read once: "Life is like tennis--he who serves best almost always wins." that`s pretty cool. Anyway, today was pretty epic. Elder Smith beat the 3 of us consistently. but I finally beat him in the last match. Haha. It was the last match because I quit while I was ahead. :) We went back to the house for a while before lunch. While there, I finished my reply to Cassie. While I did that, elder Brady went with elder Smith to write the family. Elder Maldonado went to lunch with the Branch President`s wife. We arrived on time, expecting to see the other 2, but they arrived 30 min. ate. Their taxi wasn`t clear on where they wanted to go. Then I went to write MY family. Kevin said he`s going to Bulgaria tomorrow. That sounds exciting. In the afternoon, we were invited to play soccer with the youth, a common thing in the Mission, but we were so darn pooped form this morning. So we just did the normal contacting. We found a few nice people.
Wednesday: Today was a great day. When I got up, I decided to call Elder Calaway. It had been a very long time since I`d spoken to him. Gosh it was so good to hear from him. Actually, from our brief conversation, I could tell that he`d changed a lot...for the better of course. He`s always been someone just trying to do their best. We talked about how weird it is that time the time has passed so fast. We remenisced about the last time we got to call our parents. His dad had answered and acted normal (i.e. "hey jake.") So funny! he said his parents asked about me in the phone call. "Where`s Elder Merrell?" He said they really like me. I had written them a letter, telling them what a good boy they have. I forgot how much I love Elder Calaway. He really is one of my best friends--someone I can count on. He said we`re going to play a lot of xbox live when we get back. I miss him a lot. He said he might be training this next transfer. I`m so happy for him. It waws just one of those moments when you realize just how big your heart is, and how good it feels to love. I put all my finished letters I`d written in their envelopes. We had lunch with Hna. Daz. She lives on top of a big hill that makes me sweat every single time. We spent the afternoon doing contacts. We had an appt. but she wasn`t there. I got a little discouraged. In one week, I`m almost certain I`ll have another comp. I can`t wait to see how that goes.
Thursday: I had some personal study time and loved it. WhenI spoke with the family, I got to have a one-on-one conversation with Cassie (sister). She`s so good about reading her Scriptures. She says that if she doesn`t read in the morning and night, she feels restless and not as happy as when she does. I feel exactly the same way. Thinking about it, she`s changed a lot. I remember at the beginning of my Mission, or even as recently as this past Spring, she seemed a bit more confused. But now I can see the Spirit influencing her life, and she can see the joy that comes from it. That makes me so happy. I miss my family a lot! We had lunch with the Neira family. They served us peeled potatoes with roast. It`s a really common chilean dish. In fact, we had it yesterday, too. In the afternoon, I went on exchanges with Elder Maldonado. His companion`s causing him some problems, too. He actually broke down and cried because he felt so bad for not having been able to do good work this transfer. I understood that. The sad part is I think he`s staying with his comp. one more transfer. We did contacts in the afternoon. We had some appts., but they all fell through. It`s shocking how little success we`ve had this transfer.
Friday: Today was a good day, but also a little sad. It was sad because elde rKemp went home today. I KNOW, RIGHT?! I remember when he left, two yars ago. For me, time in the mission passes normally. Not fast or slow. But I believe that will change my last day, when I look back and say, "Already?" I got a little taste of that today. Because, for me, my Mission has always been looming in the future, it has been the focus of my financial endeavors, and the bane of potential relationships. but I literally only have a few months left before it`s already over. But I`m not going to focus on that right now. Elder Kemp served his Mission with excellency. I actually got my comp. to have personal and comp. study with me. And he liked it! It was so wonderful to hear what he`d learned and for him to want to share it. I learned some great things in Helaman 3, myself. We had lunch with the Sister that doesn`t season her food. But the food was extra good and she was conversational. She sent us home with 4 giant loaves of home-made bread. In the afteronoon, I got to interview Camilo for his baptism tomorrow. He came to Church, on his own, our first week here. Since then, he`s come to all the Young Single Adults activities and is in the Branch Choir. He`s already a member, pretty much. The Interview went great, for the most part. I had to fill him in on some doctrinal points, because the other Missionaries had skipped some stuff. But he passed. He`ll be baptized tomorrow, at 11. It`s funny because he`s getting baptized in 2011 and confirmed in 2012. Pretty sweet!
Saturday: Today was a good day. We woke up really early so we could run to the chapel and turn on the baptismal font., for camilo`s baptism. Then, we came back home and studied and got ready like normal. When we eventually returned for the baptism, we were really diappointed with all the people that didn`t show up. There were 3 members and the 4 of us. 2 of the members only showed up because they had to give talks. Elder Maldonado was chosen to do the actual baptism. He kept complaining about hwo small the font was. As he was bringing Camilo up, he guided his head right into one of the metal handrails. OOPH! But camilo said he was alright and we ended fine. Afterward, Ayleen Neira, a way cool youth from the Branch, asked if she could speak with me. She thanked me for the Scriptures I always share after lunch. She said that, out of the 4 missionaries, the ScripturesI share always impact her and are exactly what she needed. that`s proof that the Spirit`s guiding me. Sweet! We were going to spend the night at the Diaz family`s home, but Hna. Diaz called at 7:30 to cancel. Dang it! So we just did the normal thing until it was time to go in. Not a lot of success. We found out our transfers tonight. the 4 of us, in curanilahue, are staying . I`m going to be with Elder brady for 6 more weeks. That`s going to be really hard for me. I called Elder Lisonbee. He`s going to finish in Yumbel, where Elder Burch is currently serving. Elder Calaway`s going to train in Ñielol, and share a house with Elder Montalban. Elder corliss is training as well. And...the Pres ahs decided to re-open Tirúa. My time there was really hard. I hope they have better luck. Elder Lisonbee said he`s getting an iPad when he gets back. He`s excited to wach "The Amazing Spiderman" at midnight with me, and use our iPads in the line while we`re camped out. He knows me so well. :)
Sunday: So, it`s 2012. that`s the year I go home. that also means I spent all of 2011 in a foreign country. That`s awesome! My New Year`s commitment is to continue the good habits I`ve learned in the Mission (i.e. Scripture study, daily prayers, keepng commandments, etc.). And more dates with girls! I was behind on my quota last year. Haha. This whole "New Year" thing is seriously freaking me out. Anyway, we went to church alright. In the afternoon, I tried to study Spanish with Elder Brady, and he asked, "Why?" His usual response to EVERYTHING. I`m so frustrated. because of the new year, we`re starting the "Gospel Principles" book over, hopping off the 3 classes we`ve been stuck on, for months. We learned abou tHeavenly Father...and i learned something! Or maybe it just "clicked." It is this: the more we know God, the more we`ll love him. It`s something I`d been wanting to know, in the back of my mind. Because if we DO love him more, we`ll have a greater desire to obey his commandments. And if that desire comes, we`ll have more power to resist temptation. But how do we get to know God? Reading Scriptures, prayer, and keeping the commandments. It all fits! The Neira family`s warming up to us, at our lunches. Oh! And I totally finished my marking of the Book of Mormon where it mentions Christ. It took about 3 months, but I did it! Not my whole "system" is done. The other companionship got permission to go to Talcahuano to visit some people. We just stayed in our sector and did contacts.
Monday: Today was a great Pday. I spent some time in the morning writing back to Kevin. I like talking with him. I feel like we`re on the same level. It`ll be so great to see him again. We started out the day rather well, I think. Elder Maldonado got together a lot of tennis equipment and invited some members to play with us, at the Church. I remember being better at that sport. Everybody eelse was totally kicking my can all over the place. But then I got warmed up and things went more smoothly for me. After only 2 hours of sunblock-free fun time, I turned bright red. Yay, Chile. We then went to write the family. Mom sent me a bunch of pictures of home, which I loved. Kevin`s doing well in Ukraine. We were going to have FHE with the Neira family, but they cancelled on us. Ugh!
Tuesday: Today...I loved today. We got up early to go to our Mission Christmas devotional. We got to see a lot of my friends, including Elder Lisonbee, and Elder Kemp. Right before the conference started, President and Sister Kemp came in, too. they both said hi to me. Pres. Martinez gave them both some time to share their testimonies. As they spoke, I felt such a strong Spirit of love come from them. The nwe Missionaries introduced themselves, and I got to see my "grandson", Elder Tholl. He had the best Spanish out of all of them. Then, we got to see the MIssion slideshow. It was a LOT shorter than last year`s, but my photo of me, posing like spider-man made it in. AWESOME! Pres. told us we have a big influence on his kids. We had a talent show, full of pianists and guitarists. Then, Pres. wanted to show us how we`d influenced his kids. I thought his youngest daughter was going to play the piano, but when Pres. called Hna. Eggbert up, I knew what was up. Hna. Eggbert is famous in the mission because she can put her whole hand in her mouth. So can Pres`s daughter, apparently. a lot of good Missionaries are leaving this transfer. One Missionary said he`d wanted to go home at the beginning of his mission. But Pres. Swenson saved his life with one word: "no." I got chills when I heard that. The Mission is hard, but it`s the only way to learn this stuff. I got a letter from Cassie! It was sooooooooo awesome. She makes me so happy. And WHO she is is so impressive. I`m proud of all she`s done. Way to go, Cass!
Wednesday: Today was the same old, same old. We got up early so we could go to our Distrizona Meeting. I usually go before the other companionship, for my leader meeting. But today, the early bus never arrived. So I had to go with the other Elders. I don`t think I`ve mentioned this yet, so I will now. It`s been a week since we ran out of gas. Now we`re taking ice-cold showers. This hasn`t happened in a year. I think it`s because of the new financial system. Some sectors need to travel more than others and they used to get more moeny for that travel at the beginning of the motnh. Now we have to pay for stuff and reimgburse it. that takes a few weeks. Anyway, everyone in our hosue is too broke to buy new gas. It`s sweet. When we eventually got on the bus, we found the lebu Elders, including Elder Corliss. His comp. had to go home yesterday because he was really sick. I got to teach my District about asking good questions that cause introspection and can, at the same time, instruct. JUST LIKE THE SAVIOR DID!!! Very early in my Mission, I realized this is one of the most important skills and have dedicated a lot of practice to improving it. I read something I wrote in the MTC, and the way I spoke was so different. It was better. Some of the Elders I`ve lived with ahve been a little more relaxed and crass, and I fear that I`ve become less concerned with my language. I`m setting a goal to become closer to Christ, this week, and through my life, through respectful speaking. Obviously, this never happens in Spanish. so this is meainly to be a better example to the others in my District. We had some appts. in the afternoon, but they fell through. We met our goal of contacts, but we didn`t get any news. BLAST! The Zone Leaders said next week the whole Zone`s gonna come and help us find people.
Thursday: today was a good day. I woke up and did my studying and learned hwo to better overcome temptation and sin by casting it out at the first sign. a lot of studying can be way more effective if we are aware of what we learned and make constant efforts to apply it to our lives and make those changes that are the fruits of repentance. We had our session of Weekly Planning in the morning, as well. While we were doing that, I got a call from Edler Zuñiga, my hijo. they said Scarlett will be baptized on February 25th, and that she wants me to return to Los Angeles so I can baptize her. She`s so special. I hope she realizes that. That news pretty much made my day. For lunch with the Neira family, we had rice with steamed veggies and a wonderful chicken breast. It was very well done. the weeks here are passing by so quickly. We only have next week left of this transfer. That`s crazy! In the Afternoon, we had to go on exchanges so I could interview Alvaro, the other sector`s investigator, for his baptism this Saturday. It was one of my favorite interivews. He really has a testimony. He noticed the change between where he was at first and wheere he is now. He feels a lot calmeer and like a burden has been lifted. The whole purpose of the interview is to give them a chance to testify before a representative of the Lord that they are willing and ready to make a covenant with him. What a wonderful blessing that is. Tomorrow`s Elder Brady`s birthday, so I got him a box of 30 bon-o-bons. They`re his favorite candy(try and imagine me getting that information discreetly...it wasn`t. haha.). We did contacts for a while in their sector while Brady and Smith worked in our sector. Well done.
Friday: Today was really hard for me. We just didn`t have that much success. But I`m still good!
Saturday: So today was Christmas Eve, which, inChile, is way more important than the actual Christmas day. elder Maldonado and I went to the Chapel at 7 in the morning, to fill up the baptismal font for their baptism. We came back and did the mnormal thing until 10, when the baptism was going to take place. Elder Maldonado and I were going to do a special musical number, but I really don`t know how to sing harmony and we ended up cancelling it at the last minute. The branch members are finally warming up to us and acting friendly. I guess everyone likes a good basptism.And on Christmas Eve, too! Alvaro was so happy, and not at all nervous. Everything went off without a hitch (think about that saying. It doesn`t make sense). Last week, Hna. Nidia assigned Elder Brady a Scripture to share for this week. He did remarkably well. He knows Spanish. He`s just got to push himself. because of the holiday, none of the doors we knocked opened. When you think about it like that, especially in this season, I just think of that picture of Christ knocking on the door. It`s pretty cool, being a Missionary during Christmas. All of our contacts were done in the streets and no one gave us their address. I called Hna. Roa, from my last sector. She was doing well and sent me her love. We were invited by Hna. Diaz to spend Christmas Eve with her family. Everyone eats dinner at 10:30 here, and our curfew put some roast and potatoes in a container for us. I called hna. Pinar, too. she was so happy to hear from me. My hijo and grandson were eating dinner with her. I was happy for my posterity.
Sunday: Today was so awesome! I`m so happy right now. It was Christmas, today! Our meeting with the Ward Mission Leader was cancelled. In church, we only had to go to Sacrament Meeting. It was filled with talks by little Primary girls. The smallest one, who looked like she was 6, gave a 10-minute talk about what she wanted to, nothing written. It was a wonderfully impressive discourse. Afterwards, we had some free time to ourselves before our lunch. We went home and just relaxed, taking it easy. Eventually, we went to lunch with the Lazo family. I had so much food that I couldn`t exhale all the way. Haha. Then, we got to call home with a "video call!" It was like another world, being able to see and talk with them. Lindsay`s new home was all decorated and cozy. Everyone`s so excited for me to come home. Cassie got a new iPhone 3GS. SO jealous! She said she didn`t know how to use it, and I just had the biggest urge to just drown her in geekiness. Devin has been stocking up on good galmes while I`ve been away. He`s such a good padawan. Awww. That`s so great. Mom said I`d earned a little "somethin`-somethin`" for when I get home. WOOT! Mom`s super happy. She loves working in the temple...and swimming...lucky. Haha. Goodbyes weren`t too hard, until Daddy. then, for somereason, my eyes started sweating uncontrollably. It probably looked like I was crying. And the air pressure (or something vague) made it hard to keep my voice from shaking. I love them all so much. Now I`m all emotionally numb, and stuff. Groovy.
Monday: Today was a great day. We changed things up, this week. Instead of having Pday, we had our Distrizona, and here in Curanilahue. Everyone came here, so we didn`t have to spend money on travel. Everyone came here and we started heading to the woods. We were also going to share about the Restoration. I helped those of my District feel that burning desire to know something that Joseph Smith had ( I find it interesting that, out of all the people that I`m sure had their questions, he went on a hunt for truth. "I will go and do, not sit and stew."). I then invited them to go out, into the woods, and oepen their hearts to the lord, ask for help in their struggles, and for answers to questions they`ve had. I personally asked to have strength in my decision-making, being able to be strong and follow through with what I say I`ll do. As we left the forest, I felt a distinct peacefulness. I want to be able to help people repent and change, and I can`t do that if I`m fonforming to them. that`s a cool thought. we had a big barbeque lunch, with salad and soda. It was so good, and there was a lot leftover. for the afternoon, we did exchanges as a zone. I went with Elder Aizpurùa, from Panama. He`s Elder Mcconnell`s son. Sweet, huh? The whole zone "attacked" curanilahue, doing contacts. We found, like, o ne good guy. But he wasn`t that receptive. Just relatively good. It was so stinkin` hot today. In the evening, we traded back and we went to get some breakfast for tomorrow with the christmas money mom and dad gave me.
Monday: Today, my fever was crazy. I woke up with a fever of 102.4. I was getting kind of nervous. Physically, I just felt weak. Our first activity of the day was to go to the Government building to finish the process of getting my second ID. It was a possibility that I would get arrested, so I bought a candy bar on the way, for nourishment. That`s smarts, man. Luckily, the woman who was attending me was actually working her first solo shift, and we didn`t have any problems. She was actually really nice. On the way to use Internet, I didn`t feel good, so we went home for a few hours. There, I laid down and tried to rest. But I got..."hot flashes" is the best word I can think of. I`d be shivering one moment, then Ii`d break out in a sweat the next. It was awful. So I called Hna. Martinez to ask which meds. I should take. She told me and told me to drink lots of water. We eventually left to get something to eat. We entered at the same time as someone else. He ordered 3 completos and 3 drinks. Then he gave my comp. and me one each. He wouldln`t let us pay, either. How nice. Then, we found out he`s a member from Talcahuano. We wrote the family after that. Kevin`s opening a sector, over there in Ukraine. Alan`s just a stud in everything he does. Daddy wants Dev and Cass to do what`s right. I hope that I can be as good of a Father as he is. He just loves, loves, LOVES his family. I went with Elder Smith in the evening, to have our FHE with the Rodriguez family and Manuel. Manuel didn`t show up. We waited for an hour-and-a-half. But Soledad Rodriguez is so awesome. She`s my mamita for this sector.
Tuesday: This entry`s going to be a little shorter, because I was just sick all day. We went to distrizona. Our Zone`s doing really well, with their baptismal dates. I taught about How to Begin Teadching. We went through the 10 points laid out in Preach My Gospel. Everyone repeated the points, applying it to one of their Invetigators. I even got Elder Brady to memorize 4! His problem isn`t a learning handicap, it may jsut be a lack of mativation and maybe laziness. But with enough encouragement and positive reinforcement, I think we can get him going. But before the class even started, I just broke down from the pain. Elder Smith went with Elder Hall to buy me some medications. I spent the rest of the day in bed, pretty much. Elder Smith gave me some pineapple ice-cream we had in the freezer.
Wednesday: Today was the same as yesterday, but with less activity in teh morning. The good news is that my fever`s down to 100-ish and my throat and ears don`t hurt anymore. so that`s great. I thought about Alan today. I know it`s a day early, `cause TOMORROW`S his birthday, but I found one of his emails I printed up. He`s so awesome. On Monday, he invited me to work out and beef up with him after the Mission. Totally going to do it.
Thursday: So last night, chile played against Ecuador and won. As a result, the whole country took their cars to the streets and honked non-stop `til 1 AM. We live next to the busiest intersection in town. Ugh. As of this morning, we hadn`t done any work for the week, due to my fever. I decided I would work today because 1) it needed to be done and 2) I had cabin fever. So I got up and studied like I was supposed to. We had lunch with the Neira family--barbeque again! it was so good. Last week, Madelyn said I copied my "Scripture Shortcuts" system and that others were much better. She just kept insulting me. But she was better-behaved this week. her younger sister, Eileen, is a huge fan of swimming and we got to talk about that. Madelyn is going to BYU-I in April. She speaks English?! Anyway, we came home and made our smoothie (OJ, pineapple sherbet, Kiwi, and apple). YUM!!! My comp. was loathe to see his week-long vacation come to an end. We did contacts for a while, before Hna. Martinez called me. She asked how I was. I told her my throat and ears don`t hurt, but I still have a fever. She said I still had to get my anti-biotics from elder Corliss in Lebu. My comp´s out of money, so I took Elder Smith. we picked up the meds. and some letters. I got one from Kevin and one from Elder Calaway`s girlfriend. She was thanking me for the letter I sent her, telling her hw awesome I think Elder calaway is. It was a good letter.
Friday: Today was a great day. I felt really good. I got up and did my personal study (loved it) and all the usual stuff. Elder Smith accompanied me to the store to buy a little bit of food. I got some instant mashed potatoes, some milk and cookies, and more toothpaste. We came back to drop stuff off, then we had to make the long walk to our lunch. this Sister gave us unseasoned rice with unseasoned meat last week. This time, we went with garlic salt. It totally did the trick! the Sister doesn`t even sit at the table with us. In the afternoon, we did some contacts--and we actually found some good people. One guy, Leandro, is a dad. I asked him ho whe felt about that. He said he loves it, and that it makes him happy. I got to tell him that god has prepared a way for them to be together forever. He seemed pretty interested in that. Another woman, Irma, was really receptive as well. She said we coul dcome by next week. It just felt good to be workin gagain, doing what I`m here to do. those times in the Mission, when I`ve had to stay in the house, have just made me feel bad...and restless. but working, just like obedience to all the other commandments, brings a great measure of peace that I prefer over anything. elder Smith and I went to use Internet briefly, so he could coordinate his phonecall. After that, we had an FHE with the Llancapan family. We read Alma 42 with them. and Hno. Miguel. their youngest daughter, Ana, is a member, but inactive. We tried encouraging her to read her Scriptures more. she wouldn`t commit. Are people like that back home? Here, people won`t commit because they "might" mess up. Well, that`s why we set goals, people. Anyway, we came home and I had potatoes. Yum. My comp. won`t take part in the companionship, still. It`s getting hard for me to stay motivated.
Saturday: Today was so awesome! I got up and got my studying done. Elder Maldonado asked if I wanted to go by the feria, which is like a one-ay-of-the-week street market. Everybody goes there, and sells whay they want. I`m pretty sure that these wouldn`t exist if chile had a health code. But it works for me. they had a ton of fruits and veggies that were just so vibrant with their colors. But they also sell miscellaneous stuff. Watches, for example. I got a watch with an orange-and-black display. I was so anxious for lunch, today. we decided we would call our families today, to set up our Christmas call. It was SO AWESOME!!! Cassie answered the phone with Dev. It`s going to be so great to be home, and do things with them. We talked about a lot of things in little time. Gosh, I missed them. But I think they`re more trunky than I am. They were already planning things we`ll be doing when I get back. After the phone call, I was in a kind of shock. I wanted more. I miss them a lot. But I`ll be with them again soon. WOOT! We walked back from lunch, and worked until 7, when we had a Christmas Devotional, provided by the Elders` Quorum. I liked one of the messages, inviting us to live christmas on another level. The first 2 levels are toys; decorations and the nativity; The 3rd level is remembering Christ always and following his example. Afterwward, we had refreshments. I love soda. There`s a pineapple soda, KEM, that I just adore here.
Sunday: So this might be one of my worst streaks in the Mission. It`s been 4 weeks here, in Curanilahue, and I still don`t have 1 investigator. I literally drag my comp through everything. I miss having a companion that I can rely on. I`m getting tired. We didn`t make it to our Meeting, today, because he didn`t get up on time...again. Manuel, the guy that came last week, didn`t show up today. The other Missionaries` Investigators are doing great. Alvaro is going to get baptized this Saturday. I`ll have to do his Interview this week. In Sunday School we`ve been doing the same 3 classes for almost 3 months. It`s ridiculous how repetitive it is. I`m sorry. This entry is really grouchy. I don`t know why I`m so on-edge. It actuallyw as a gorgeous day. Most days are, here. It`s so green and colorful, thanks to the yellow sunshine. It`s so great. We had macaroni-shell spagghetti with a fried egg thrown on top. Typical Chilean dish. It was delicious. In the evening, there was a broadcast from Salt Lake City, showing the General christmas Devotional. Camilo, the other sector`s investigator, went to see it. It was cool, because he got to see the Prophet. Pres. Monson said that EVERY Christmas he reads "A Christmas Carol" and "John Whitman`s Mansion." I`d never heard of the latter. It`s a story of a man like Scrooge who had a dream of the after-life. All the generous people got big mansions from their good deeds. He had a little one because he never sent any "material." I really liked that message. We played cards after the day.