Monday, November 30, 2009

November 30, 2009

Howdy, howdy, howdy!

No e-mails from anyone this week, eh? Oh well, I guess I can do without for this week :-p

(Note from Mom: I was madly typing a letter to him while he was writing this one, and he went back later, having forgotten something, and found mine. So he didn't go away thinking I didn't write!)

Things have been going really well this last week. We had a few rough weeks this cambio when the people we were teaching stopped wanting to hear from us, but we've found some really good new people and they're starting to progress. The dad of one of the families we're sharing with is an english professor, so we've actually taught a few lessons in english haha. He, Irasmo, doesn't like to speak spanish when we're there because he really likes practicing his english (sometimes his wife, Karina, makes him speak in spanish so that she'll understand). Irasmo went with us to Los Angeles for a stake conference yesterday (Karinia couldn't because one of their kids is sick and she had to stay home with her), and he really liked it. Last week he even asked us for a Book of Mormon in English! He and Karina are reading it and they both really like that, so of course we're very happy for them. They're not married yet, but I think they have plans to do so and then they'll be able to get baptized. Hopefully they can do that before I leave Cabrero! Haha.

I've let some people here try the Reeses and the peanut butter, and they all LOVE it. Yesterday while we were eating lunch at Freddy's house I introduced them to peanut-butter flavored ice-cream - we mixed it in with some that they had - and they went crazy over it haha. Carmen Gloria told me to have you send more Reeses, haha, she's got a very sweet tooth and she fell in love with Reeses instantly.

Stake conference, wow. It's been a long time since I've seen that many members in one place - there must have been about 300. Maybe a little less. To you folk up there in gringolandia that may seem pretty average, but when you look at the attendance here in Cabrero for the last 5 weeks - 23 (it rained), 46, 50, 43, 27 (people didn't have the money to go to Los Angeles for the conference) - that's a mountain of people. I think I've said it before, but that's what I miss about Utah, the strength of the members. There are some really strong wards here as well though. The other week we had a multi-zone conference in a HUGE chapel in Talcahuano. It was probably about double the size of the chapel back home. So that was a pretty fun experience. There were about 80 missionaries there as well, which is about more than half of the mission.

It's crazy how fast this cambio has gone by - Elder Hodson will be heading home next week and I'll be staying in Cabrero with a new companion (don't know who it is yet). I'll be officially done with my training at the end of this cambio, though, so people won't be able to call me a 'greeny' hehe. I actually haven't heard that word here, though, now that I think of it. But I won't be one of the newbies. This next cambio there will be 20 new missionaries, and then 20 more the following cambio, and then 20 MORE the following cambio. So the number of missionaries here is going to explode in the next couple months. I wonder why they're sending so many...probably because it's the coolest mission in the world, right? Yeah, that's what I was thinking too...hehe.

How did Thanksgiving go with the family? Did you eat some food for me? I completely forgot about it, haha. It was just another day for me down here. I wonder what I'll be doing for Christmas. I have heard from other Elders that for Christmas Eve the Elders are allowed to celebrate with the people until midnight - in Chile they do all the stuff we do on Christmas the night before. There are some American kids who would really like it down here because of that, I'm sure! So that'll be another new experience. I much prefer our own family traditions, though :) Maybe I'll wake up early and do that to my companion. Could be fun.

Well, I feel like I'm just rambling on about nothing for this week, so I'm gonna go ahead and get some pictures sent. I didn't really take that many this week, so I'll probably send some older ones. I love you all very much and look forward to hearing how your holiday season is going!


PS. Enjoy that cold weather up there! :-p

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

November 24, 2009

¡Hola Mamá!

Well, first things first: The package did get here. I actually got it a week ago today at a multi-zone conference we had in Talcahuano. We changed our preparation day to today (Tuesday) because yesterday we had interviews with President Swenson in Los Angeles. As far as I know everything got here - Reeses (THANK YOU!!!), beef jerkey, dove chocolates, wheat thins, trail mix, and PEANUT BUTTER!!!!! I'm very happy about this box, hehe. I took a package of Reeses to Freddy and Carmen Gloria's house the other day to let them try it and they told me that I have to tell you to send more so I can give it to them haha. They love the gringo treats. Let me know when you get the package I sent out, I want to know how long it takes for it to get from here to there.

Sounds like you're having fun with all those musical callings in the church! The other day President Swenson asked me if you and dad had callings and I didn't remember! So now I'll be able to do that. When I get back I really want to work with the missionaries - preferrably spanish-speaking. And if there aren't any in my ward, I'll go out and look for them haha. I've really noticed how much support from the members can have an impact on the missionary work, so when I get back I'm going to do everything I can to help the Elders in our area out. Plus, it's loads of fun so it'll be well worth it.

New computer, eh? I think it was about time to get a new one anyway - that other one was just dying. What a bummer that it would have cost so much to fix it, though, it would have been nice to have another one around. I saw a Mac today for the first time in 4 months! It was in a photo shop where I went to get my pictures taken for my visa. We do really have to have visas, Chile just does it differently. I'll be getting my identity card in the next couple weeks, called a ''carnet''. So I'll be officially Chilean...kind of...sort of...not really. There's a saying here that makes everyone laugh when the gringos say it: ''Soy más Chileno que los porotos.'' It means that I'm more Chilean than the Chilean beans. Not really funny when you say it in english...but still, they get a kick out of it.

Don't you worry, that snow will come. And when it does, you'll be really happy you have those snow tires. Just remember all the times in years past when we WISHED we had them. Winter is just testing you, hehe. I'm sure you'll get plenty of snow in the coming months to put those snow tires to the test.

That's really neat about that kid in your orchestra class. I'm sure it can try your patience at times, but just remember to always strive for Christlike love and blessings will come because of it. I've really seen a difference just a little bit of kindness can make in someone's life.

A cd? Wow! I really wish I could put more music on my iPod, but NOBODY has Mac around here, and my iPod is old enough that if I wanted it to work for windows I would have to erase everything on there and reformat it for windows. Or something like that... But all the same, I would love to hear your cd if you finish it before I get back. If not, we can listen to it together when I get back. Oh, here's something cool. Hermana Swenson is trying to put a Christmas activity together for the missionaries this year, and she wants Elder Kamalu and me to play for it. She wants to do three different activities (for three different conferences with Elders in the whole mission), and she told me yesterday that Elder Kamalu and I will be traveling with them to play at all three (if they're able to do three, that is). So that should be pretty fun :). I talked to the music professor, Cristofer Teloza, at the high school Cabrero yesterday and he said he would be more than happy to let me borrow the saxophone, which is actually being fixed up right now. Yay! So yeah, things are going great.

Now for my list of random things I wrote down this week:
1. Is there a way you could send me DVDs of The Testaments and the Joseph Smith movie? Preferably with the possibility of spanish dubs or subtitles. If not, that's fine.
2. There are some teenagers here who asked me how to say a part of the male body in english, and I told them ''panini'' hehe. So now whenever they see us, instead of yelling garabatos (vulgar words), they yell ''panini''! Problem solved :)
3. Here's one that dad will like. We found some Chinese people! And they don't speak a lick of spanish! They're here on business for the wood company called Masisa, and they'll be here for about another 6 months. We requested a Book of Mormon from Santiago in Mandarin, so that should be here in about a week. Dad, if you want to send me a few phrases in Mandarin to say to them that would be great! They speak a bit of english, but it's a little rocky. We're going to try to teach them though.
4. The other day we experienced another miracle. There's a young woman in the branch whose boyfriend has gone to church with her several times, but has never wanted to visit with the missionaries. And then yesterday, when we had lunch with this family, he was there and asked us for a Book of Mormon! And he really wants to read it to know for himself. Blessings come in many different ways, and we're really excited for him.
5. Another really amazing thing that happened, is that Carmen Gloria's dad, Juan, went to church for the first time in YEARS this last sunday! He's not a member, and has been really closed off to the idea of going to church at all. The Lord really does prepare the people, we just find them and help them to be taught the by Spirit.

Well, that's all I wrote down for this week. Hope you enjoyed my random blurbs! And I think that's about all I've got for this week. Thank you for the update on the family! Let the others know that they can write me whenever they'd like - I'd love to hear from them as well. I think I'm going to go try to get some pictures on here, for some reason the computer doesn't want to recognize my camera. So if there are no pictures this week I apologize. Anyway, I love and miss you very much! Keep doing good things!


Monday, November 16, 2009

November 16, 2009

¡Hola Mamá!

Quisiera escribir un poco en español esta semana para que usted pueda practicar ;-) Gracias por escribir esta semana, me encanta a mi recibir cartas de la familia. ¡Que lástima que la electricidad en su pieza no está funcionando! Ojalá que se arregle aquí pronto. Y la alfombra también, yo recuerdo que se ve...bueno, feo, jaja. Pero sí, estoy de acuerdo que sería mejor pagar alguien a hacerlo para que usted no pierda tiempo haciéndolo. ¡Parece que tiene un montón de otras cosas de hacer!

Alrighty, hope you can understand all that!

It's very true about having a guardian angel - I've never been worried about my safety for a second here because I know I'm active in the Lord's work. There's a bit of civil unrest here with the native Mapuche, but that's more to the north of here in Rancagua and Santiago, I think. Nothing to worry about, the Lord provides protection for his servants. Thank you for your prayers, though, it's always nice to have that additional support.

It's really weird to think about snow right now. Here it's pretty hot every day (today is a little more clowdy and a little chilly, but not too much). I'm getting tanner and tanner as a result of being in the summer sun all day while you all are bundling up and preparing for snow. Crazy, huh? This inverse season thing is pretty interesting. The flowers are in bloom like crazy here, you would love it. In Cabrero there's a rail-road crossing where there are just BILLIONS of flowers. I keep meaning to take a picture, but I always forget when we pass by. I'll have to get a picture for you before they all go away.

Good to hear that things are moving along with the house. The pictures looked really good - I love the new roof! Everyone here really likes how the house looks as well haha. I've got all the pictures on a flash drive that I carry around with me sometimes to show people that have computers. But it would be nice to have pictures of the family and the house and stuff in a photo album so I can just show people in the street that might be interested as well.

Thanksgiving, good ol Thanksgiving. Hope you ate enough for me as well! Naturally that holiday doesn't exist here. I don't think I even remember which day it is...woops! Oh well ha. I'll bet it was great to have all the family together, or parts of it at least. The family needs a lot of work here, and in the States as well I imagine. A lot of the parents here aren't really responsible in the way they raise their kids and the kids grow up with bad habbits and no manners. I love the people here regardless, though. I don't know what it is, but it's really true what everyone says about the country of your mission becoming your second home. I really feel at home here - even if the people always yell ''Ey gringo!'' in the streets haha. It's great fun.

The package hasn't arrived yet, but we have interviews with President Swenson tomorrow morning and the assistents will be bringing all the mail. So if it has arrived in Concepción I'll be getting it tomorrow. Elder Hodson said he's never had any problems with the mail. His parents even sent him an iPod with some speakers for Christmas last year. So hopefully it's the same story with the packages you send for me! As far as home-baked goods, there are some international laws as to what you can and can't send (just fruit and beef jerky or meat I think). Can't go wrong with Reeses, hehe. They don't exist here. There's this really good candy bar here called Mantecol that I think you would all really enjoy. It's like a Butterfinger, but without the chocolate and it's soft: Sooooooo good.

I know how you feel about not really knowing what to write when you sit down, so I usually have a paper that I write stuff to write during the week and then when I sit down to write I pull that out and voila! This week, though, I didn't do that haha, so we'll see if I can remember some things that have happened.

Here's a neat experience: The other day we were walking down the street and we had the impression to talk to an old lady that was out in front of her house working with her flowers. After getting to know her for a little bit she told us that her husband (they're not married - TONS of people here are living together without being married) has been under the weather in regards to health and that he's out of work. We told her that we could help him, and immediately she invited us in. We shared the story of the restoration with him and offered to give him a blessing for his health. I can't explain the feelings that come while giving a blessing - it truly is an unworldy experience. If your faith and mind are focused on the blessing everything else just fades away in the background and you can feel the spirit guiding your words. I'm positive this man, Juan, felt something - I could see it in his eyes. He wasn't able to go to church this last week because he's got problems with his legs, but we'll be passing by his house later this week to see him. I really hope they're prepared to recieve the restored gospel.

Oh! Here's something cool. So we met the music professor of the high school in Cabrero, his name is Cristofer (can't remember if I already mentioned him...). Anyway, so he has a saxophone and he let me borrow it for a few days! I didn't have any time to practice it in the house - maybe ten minutes one day - but it was really neat to be able to play again. We're actually going to the high school later today to play some music with Cristofer. He plays the guitar really well and wants me to teach him some saxophone - he plays a little but really wants to learn how to play jazz. How cool is that? Jazz is basically non-existent here, so it's really rare that there's anyone here with a saxophone at all, no less someone who wants to learn jazz. So I'm pretty excited about that - we're hoping for this to be a bridge to share the gospel with him as well.

Me at the Torres Family Ranch

Me with the Torres family's cows

Collapsed Bridge

Well, I think that's about all I've got for this week. It was really good to hear from you! No matter what is in the weekly letter I always enjoy reading what's going on with the family. Hope all goes well with Thanksgiving - you're all in my prayers! I love you all very much!


Monday, November 9, 2009

November 9, 2009

Hola Mamá!

No letter this week, eh? No worries. I'll just look forward to next week :) Thanks for the hug and a hi though! It's good to just hear from you, at least.

Thank you for getting the shoe thing together! I really appreciate it. And the retainer has been found for sure - I'm going to pick it up later today. After we do internet we're going to go to McDonalds and then we're going to go to the other Elders' house nearby, pick up the retainer, and head back to Cabrero. We're in Los Angeles for the day, again hehe. There's really not a whole lot to do in Cabrero, so we hardly stay there. Next week we're headed to the beach in Talcahuano for a multi-zone conference. I'm really looking forward to it.

Today I bought some really cool clothing-items made of sheep wool here in Chile. I got a porerón (jacket) and a side pouch - it's like that LL Bean backpack you bought me years ago but much smaller. And they're both made of Chilean wool. I'll send pictures next week. I've also made a Christmas package and sent it off - the caballero in the post office said it would take about 9 days to get to the states, so if it does get there DON'T open until Christmas. I think you'll all like what I sent. I know I do hehe.

Hmmm, what are some interesting things that have happened this week...I'll just start a bullet list and say anything that comes to mind:

1. Earlier this week Elder Hodson and I were waiting for a bus in Monte Aguila after a lunch appointment, and there were a bunch of high school girls at the paradera (bust stop). We got to talking with them, and before I knew it they were all taking pictures with me haha. They asked me if I had a girlfriend and all that stuff and I explained to them that as a missionary I can't have a girlfriend and that I don't have one waiting for me in the states. It was pretty funny. I've actually got a picture that Elder Hodson took with my camera that I'll attach.

2. One of our investigator families went to church this past sunday! It was soooo cool! We've been visiting with them for about 2 weeks now and they finally had time to go this week. The dad works in the factory Masisa here in Cabrero, and the mom cuts hair in her house. Every time we pass by I like to joke around with her and ask how many ears she has cut off this week. We have a really good relationship with them. Oh yeah, we've also taught them a phrase in ''english'', it goes something like this: awashawashawasha! All the kids in the street here try to yell stuff in english at us, and it usually sounds something like that. So now we have that as an inside with joke with this family - the family Chavaria. We've actually been helping the dad, Pascual, with his english. Apparently he's taking a class through work, so the gringos have been helping him haha.

3. We repainted a wall in our study room and in our bathroom this morning. Some of the Elders who lived there previously had drawn some grafiti on the walls, and well...the bathroom wall just needed it. So we got it all cleaned up, and it looks great now. We also got some sillones (soft chairs) really cheap from a member the other night, so we've got it goin' on in Cabrero.

4. We've got two baptisms planned for the 20th this month, and we should be getting some more here pretty soon. It's amazing to see how the Lord really prepares people, we just find them and teach them. And then there are the people that just don't want anything to do with us. Those are always fun, haha. But I keep my head and my heart in the right place and just continue doing my best to find those that the Lord has prepared. As missionaries we just have to keep in mind what it says in D y C 4 (I'm going to write it in spanish because I can remember it better): y he aquí, el campo blanco está ya para la siega: y quien mete su hoz con su fuerza atesora para sí, de modo que no perece, sino que trea salvacion a su alma. The field is ready to harvest, we just have to do everything we can and we'll have fruits. I also keep in mind what it says in DyC 18(?) about how great your joy would be if you laboured all your days and brought only one soul unto Christ. And then the next verse says how great would your joy be if you brought many! So that's what Elder Hodson and I are working on :)

I can't even begin to tell you how much I am loving it out here. The only fear in the entire world I have is that if something ever happened to make it so that I couldn't continue serving the Lord. I'm not afraid of talking to people, or doing anything the Lord asks me. It's such a great thing, being a missionary. I would recommend it for anyone in a heartbeat. And I can't tell you how true it is that every member is a missionary. As a full-time missionary I can tell you that without members our work would be MUCH more difficult. Everyone should be doing their part in the Lord's work, no matter where you are, it's an amazing experience regardless of who you are.

Well, I think I've splurged just about all my coherent thoughts out for now. Thanks for the e-mail this week! It's always good to get some word from home. I'm going to go get some pictures ready to be sent now. I love and miss you very much!


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

November 2, 2009

Hola Mamá!

Boy I sure do love getting letters every week - it's a nice little energizer for the rest of the week.

Halloween is celebrated here. They have adopted the American way of going out and asking people for treats, but only the really little kids. The rest of the people go out and party or spend time with their family or something. And a lot of people actually asked us what we think about Halloween because they said they didn't like it. In the night there was a parade of people singing and carrying torches (we ran because we thought it was a mob coming for the mormons! Haha, just kidding) headed by a marching band from one of the schools around here. When I say marching band I mean kids in their school uniform trying to play drums, trumpets, and what have you - it sounds TERRIBLE, but still cool to see, nonetheless. We were fasting, so we didn't go to any festivities or get any sweets, but that's ok. We worked all day and visited some members during the night. We had some fun encounters with some borrachos (drunks) as well hehe. One of them was drooling all over himself - we gave him a pass-a-long card with a picture of Jesus (which he drooled all over as well) and told him to go to church in the morning. He didn't show up, but we did see him the next day, STILL drunk haha. Good times, good times.

Glad to hear the house is done! Which reminds me, if you could send me a photo album with photos of the family, the house and stuff like that to me for Christmas (or when you can) that would be great. All the Elders usually have one of those so that they can show the people here where they come from. All I've got is a billion pictures of Alexis haha. Also, if you can I would really like some water-proofish shoes. The running shoes I have are great, but their all cloth on the top and so they're not so good for the rain. Maybe some skate shoes or something? Size 11 and half or 12 would be great if you can. But if not, don't worry about it, I'll figure something out. I would just buy the shoes here but nobody has shoes in my size! They ought to make this country gringo-accesible.

I'm actually really glad to hear that you and dad have more time together. You should do you say that in english....OH YEAH! You should TAKE ADVANTAGE of that time you have together because you never know when one or both of you will have a more time-demanding calling. Speaking of callings we just got our branch mission leader yesterday! We're stoked because up until now we haven't really had any support from the branch in our work. Should be good! Glad to hear the house is in good shape and that you're going to have time with Lisa! Send my saludos to her (I'm not really sure how to say that in english I'll just say it in spanish - ¡manda saludos a Lisa!)

Studded tires? Lucky you! I've decided that when I get back I want to get a jeep or something - something with four-wheel-drive.

Colder, eh? I'll just count my blessings that I'm here for the time being, then. We're headed full-fledged into summer and there's no turning back. It's getting warmer and warmer every day. Elder Hodson and I are even running in the mornings. It's really nice because Elder Kester and I didn't exercise at all - he usually liked to stay in his bed in the morning while I got up, showered, and started my studies. Elder Hodson is from Washington! Just thought you'd like to know that. He's headed home in about 5 weeks, and his brother is serving in Antafagasta (northern part of Chile). How cool is that? Two brothers serving at the same time, and both in Chile! The Lord works in misterious ways. I think it's cool. He told me that his parents are coming to pick him and his brother up as well, so that should be fun for them.

I'm working on a little package to send home for you all. It won't be anything TOO big because I'm not sure how much it will cost to send anything home, but I'm pretty sure you'll like what I'm sending.

I've got an interesting experience to share - the other day I was on an intercambio with an Elder Mortenson, and we went to visit one of his investigators. The guy's wife had been sick for awhile, so we offered to give her a blessing. She said she would like that, and then when Elder Mortenson asked her who she would like to give the blessing, she picked me. I felt a little awkward at first because I had never met her or her husband before, but I've gotten used to just doing things here and realizing that the Lord will work through me. So we gave her the blessing, and instantly she sat up in bed and told us that she felt better! Just moments before she had been laying down freezing and hurting in bed, but after the blessing she was cheerful, warm, and everything was better. The priesthood is real - I can testify of that.

I've experienced a real miracle here in the last week - before we had transfers I was still having a little difficulty speaking and understanding, but now I can talk with anyone and feel completely comfortable. The change felt almost instant, and I can't even express how grateful I am for the gift of tongues. It really does exist and the Lord really does give it to his servants. It's amazing. Elder Hodson told me that his first impression of me was that I'm not afraid of anything - he says I would be ready to train this next transfer. That was really good to hear considering President Swenson told me that I would be training before I had a year in the mission. Oh, random fact - President Swenson and his wife have been here a year already, so they'll be leaving about the same time I do. President Swenson and his wife are amazing - we all love them.

Here are some random notes for the week:
1. There's a circus in town called Circo Norte Americano, but there are no gringos! They lie! Haha. We passed by and talked with one of the workers, and she let us take some pictures with the lions, so that was pretty fun. I'll send some pictures.

2. We had an interesting dessert the other day with lunch - it looked and tasted like a loaf of whale fat...not looking forward to having that again. It was disgusting but I shoved it all down haha, more good times. I have no idea what it's called, but I'll try to find out without having to eat it again!
3. There's a joven in the branch here who asked me if you could send a yo-yo called Duncan Wheel. I told him I'd ask, but really, don't worry about it.

Well, that's about all I've got for this week. It was really great to hear from you! I'll be looking forward to the letter for next week! Send my love to the rest of the family and tell them to keep doing great things! I love you!