This week was really busy for us - it was the last week of interviews, so we were traveling through the north of the mission doing meetings and intercambios with the missionaries of those four zones (Talcahuano, San Pedro, Coronel, and Lebu). Both Tuesday and Wednesday I stayed in my sector, Hualpencillo, while Elder Rubilar went and worked with one of the companions in their sector. It's always fun to work with the missionaries that have a lot less time than I do because I get to see they're learning process and I get to learn things as well (you're never too old to learn something - that's a life lesson, haha). Elder Rubilar and I have challenged the entire mission to challenge at least three people to be baptized each day, so when we go out and work with the younger guys it's fun to see them overcoming the fear of doing that. On Tuesday I was with an Elder Palmer (who is now Elder Laurito's companion) - in the 4 hours that we were together we were able to challenge about 5 people to being baptized, two of which accepted the baptismal dates! So that was a good experience. We would have been able to put another one with an investigator named Scarleth, but right as we were heading over to her house with a member we got a call from the elders in Centinela saying that they had been playing soccer for a ward activity and one had somehow split his leg open to the bone. So I had to cancel the lesson and run over there to take him to the hospital. It was about a 1 1/2-inch gas that did, indeed, go down to the bone. Apparently he had slid into something that opened it up. So we took him to the hospital and waited until about 1 in the morning until he was done getting stitches and stuff. So we got home really tired and then had to drive down to Coronel in the morning for a meeting at 9am. It takes about 45 minutes to get to Coronel, so we left the house by quarter to 8. That night we worked with the elders in the sector of Lota Medio: Elder Jackson and Elder Allen. I worked with Elder Jackson and my companion with Elder Allen - they're good missionaries. Elder Jackson took me to an investigator they are teaching named Dog. Or at least that's what I understood his name was, haha. He's a man who is flipping his life around to live the gospel of Christ; he's got great faith and has just about conquered a smoking addiction, so it was nice to meet him. Dog's friend, Leo, showed up near the end of the visit, and we challenged him to prepare for baptism as well...he accepted! There's great people in Lota (which is the exact center point of Chile). So we got back to the house in Lota after a tiring day to find that there were no extra mattresses or blankets in the house...haha, what luck! I think I woke up every 40 minutes that night, and by the next morning I was more tired than I was when I went to sleep! Luckily I wasn't driving down to Lebu the next morning, so I took a nap - it's about an hour and a half from Lota to Lebu. Depending on how fast you drive, of course.
Interveiws with Lebu went really well. For the two weeks of interviews we've been teaching about being self-disciplined when it comes to planning. Usually what happens at night is a companionship will get home tired, hungry, wanting to sleep, etc. But planning at night helps the work be more efficient, and on top of that you already have everything fresh in your mind when you get home, so it's easier to think of productive things to do. So what we did to help teach self-discipline was have each missionary hold his/her hand straight up in the air for as long as he/she could. There were three rules: 1. You can't lower your hand. 2. You can't support your hand on anything. 3. You can't talk unless you are participating in the discussion or answering a question. They were to keep their hands up for our entire training, which lasted usually about 18 minutes. During those 18 minutes we would have them add things to their hands, like their triple, the bible, and their backpacks. Some zones were really impressive, and some just dropped like flies, haha. But it was a good exercise to illustrate the principle. Anyway, I kind of got side-tracked there. After the meeting was over we did an intercambio with some elders from Lebu (there are two companionships): Elder Gibbs and Elder Lamoreaux. We finished that up and then went up to Curanilahue so that I could say goodbye to some converts. That's also what we did this morning. Seeing all the people that I taught and saw get baptized just filled my heart; they've progressed a lot. I can't explain how much I love these people - they really are my family and I'll miss them.
That's enough talk about leaving, though. I've still got ages left in the mission :)
This coming week we'll start working on the cambios with President Swenson. He has told me that I'll get to finish the mission..er...continue working forever, back out in the field. That is, working in a sector all day every day. So I'm excited for that. I've wondered about if he'll ask me where I would like to go, and I don't think I would be able to choose! I love every part of this mission - I feel blessed that I was able to see each part of it. So I think I'll just leave that decision up to him and the Lord if he does ask me. I'll be happy to go wherever I'm sent.
Well, I think that's about it for this week. Oh! You asked about the protests. There are actually a lot of different reasons why there have been protests. It's kind of disorganized, I think. They're just like, ''Oh! There's a protest! Let's go complain about this!'' And then other people say the same thing and then it all just gets mixed. From what I've seen, though. The topics are about some hydroelectric dams that they are going to make in the south to power the bigger cities (it won't lower the price of electricity for everyone so that's why they don't like it), something about the government not wanting to give the students some kind of public transit discount, and various other things. Personally I don't think much will come of the protests just because stupid young kids get involved and start throwing rocks and junk at the police and then just randomly attack them. Not the smartest thing to do. But I'll stay out of it.
Anway, I'd better get going. Thank you for the letter! It's good to hear from you! Love and miss you tons!
PS. Pictures included are of me saying goodbye to converts/friends in Curanilahue.
Gerardo, me, Jocelyn (Yoshi), Javier
Hna Morales, me, Paola
Me, Angela, Kamila, Oscar