Monday, December 28, 2015

Diciembre 28, 2015

Hey. So Christmas happened.
On Tuesday before our leaders meeting in Castro we were able to go to Líder. Líder is Chilean Walmart. I entered and I wanted to cry. The halls were clean, the produce was fresh, and they had PEANUT BUTTER. Bought that in a heartbeat. While we were there a lady stopped us. She just moved from Santiago. She has been a member for 30 years and was wanting to get in touch with the missionaries so they could have Christmas dinner with them. We exchanged information and helped her know where the church is. God knew we would be in Líder. It is cool seeing those small ways that he is involved in our work.
For Christmas Eve we had a noche de hogar [family home evening] with la familia Eramos in the branch. When we got there were two other families from the ward there. It felt like a family reunion. We sang Christmas hymns and had a spiritual thought. Then we all shared our feelings about Jesus Christ. Afterwards we ate. There was a table full of cookies, candy, soda, everything unhealthy. They made a gingerbread nativity scene. They also had a drink called colamono which translates into monkey tail. Colamono is basically eggnog. Tasted just like it. Tender mercy. They cooked a giant 3’x 3’ pizza. They grilled meat. After we were sick from eating food from the table, they sat us down and threw a massive steak in front of us with a potato, longaniza, and a hotdog. Wayyyyy too much. Throughout the whole night, Hermano Alexis kept telling me "eat" whenever I stopped. He is a super funny guy. They had the elders wear Santa hats. Mine didn’t fit over my head. Then they gave us a Christmas stocking with candy, deodorant, soap, and a pair of socks (they know what missionaries need). Super happy night. When I got home I cut the last ring off of my Christmas countdown chain.
Christmas Eve

For Christmas we visited a family that lives at the top of Quellón. Super high up. Their house burned down about 6 months ago. They have had to rebuild everything. We shared a spiritual thought. Then we cooked an asado. An asado is basically a barbeque. They had already butchered a lamb, and it was just chillin on the table right next to us. Kind of distracting during our message, but funny. We put the lamb on a giant asadadore. An asadadore is basically a 12 ft long metal shish kabob. We built a bonfire and then put the asadadore next to it.  It cooked for about two hours while we turned it. While it was cooking we explored around the house. They have roosters, ducks, geese, everything. They showed us a house [barn] where they keep 20 pigs. And I’m talking PIGS. They are more like triceratops. They come up to my belly button. Huge. As we got near the house where they keep them, I could hear shrieks, grunts, everything. It sounded like they were housing dinosaurs. I took pics with some. A beast of a pig almost bit me in the back. As we left, I had splashes over my nice white shirt. We laughed pretty hard over that. With the asado, we would spread salt water with herbs over it and then cook it again. After, we sat down to a fat dinner and just ate. Super good. Love that family.
Christmas day

This week, I had an intercambio with my zone leader Elder Vega. He is serving in Castro. It was super good. It was raining super hard, but we still worked hard the whole day. We did so many contacts and walked till my legs fell off. The highlight of the day is that we were able to visit a hermano that had recently lost his job. We shared the Christmas video and a message about how Jesus Christ knows our struggles. I felt the Spirit.
After skype, I was super trunky. We went home, and I cried and wrote in my journal. This week, I have also been seeing a lot of my weaknesses. I feel weak. The mission isn’t easy. I’m anxious to learn, apply grow, gain members´ trust, do contacts, improve my Spanish, lose weight, be focused..... The list goes on and on. I was in a hole. I had a "collapse to your knees" prayer. I told God everything. After, I asked Him what he wanted me to know. I felt an overwhelming "I LOVE YOU" course through my veins. I also felt that God could see the sacrifices I have made to be here on the mission, that He appreciated them and that He saw them. I also felt Him reassure me that He will always fulfill promises that He has made. I felt prompted to ask for a blessing. I did. Elder Weech helped me out so much. I was blessed to know that my mission to this point hasn’t been a failure; I have touched and blessed lives in big and small ways; that I have changed significantly; that my family has been blessed; that I just have to do my best and I will grow, learn, and “become” in the Lord’s own timing. This church is true. I know it is. God loves us. I know He does. And He is working with me from where I am right now. Even when I feel week. Pondering Doctrine and Covenants 123:17 is helping me.
Elder West

Mission meeting in Puerto Montt with Elder Teixeira

Monday, December 21, 2015

Week 25 – Ho, ho, ho

In the campo

Miracles. This week has been full of them. But I’ll start with the less spiritual stuff first.
The other elders here had an investigator pray and asked if he should be baptized. In the next cita, he told them that he received an answer that he the evangelical church. Haha. The other elders left him with the commitment to pray again.
Dogs: our elders quorum president has a dog that loves the missionaries. He hates it when we leave. When we stand up he barks. So I played around with it. I stood up and then sat down super-fast multiple times, and every time I stood up, it barked. Kind of like a light switch.
I’ma skype with you guys this Christmas!! Woot woot.
The city of Quellón is a giant hill that begins on the seashore. Elder Weech and I started on a road and kept following it. We never got to the end. But after a while, we were out of the general population. It is called campo. Super pretty. Not a lot of houses. A lot of countryside. We took some pics, knocked some doors, and enjoyed the nature. 
Road out to the campo

While we were there:
We saw a MASSIVE pig. The little piglets were nursing.
Pig with piglets in the campo

I also saw several horses. My favorite encounter was a dad, and a mom walking, with their young daughter mounted on top of the horse wielding a chainsaw.
While we were walking to a cita we had with a family that lives on the seashore, we saw a van covered in balloons handing candy out to kids. Sketchy. But as we got closer, we saw the people inside were wearing Santa hats, and there was a man in a Santa suit passing the candy out. He called to us, "Elderes, vengan por acá y tomen algunas dulces!" He told us to come and get candy. Confused, we took the candy while trying to put his face with a member’s face. We couldn't. Must have been a menos activo. But we scored candy.
So what is going down for my first Christmas in Chile is this. We don’t have a zone conference anymore. Instead we will be proselyting. But we still get to skype. Grateful to be a missionary.
This week, we have district conference, consejo de líderes [leadership council], and an intercombio in Castro. Each trip is 4 hours in a bus. We will be tired this week :)
I’ma transition now. This week a guy contacted US in the street. He asked us when church was. And he actually came! Wow.
Miracle stories:
-We had a cita with the familia Piedras. They have been investigating for a while. I arrived. We decided that they didn´t know why the missionaries have been passing by or what our purpose is. In that cita, we spoke with the Spirit. We knelt with them in prayer to ask if the Book of Mormon is true. We bore powerful testimony. Many times I cried. I opened my mouth to speak and I felt my words change into words that weren´t my own. That brought the Spirit ever more strongly. My mouth was filled.
-We knocked a menos activo´s door. We found a lady named Claudia. She was baptized 6 years ago along with her husband when they had two little kids. Then they fell away. They went through a rough patch where they didn’t want anything with the Church: threw away their scriptures, stopped going to church, hid from the elders in the streets haha. Everything. We found them at the suggestion of the branch president. Claudia wants to return so bad. She was so happy when we came. She treated us like angels, she presented her kids to us: ages 6 and 10 (potential baptism), and we prayed with her. She told us she wants to return, that she knows it is her duty. I felt the Spirit so strong. Right there on her doorstep, she was crying and I was crying. But a problem: her husband. He was an elder. But after falling away didn’t want anything to do with the church. He was mad when he heard they wanted to go to church. Claudia was afraid he would see us on her porch. She gave us her number to call her when we wanted to come by to make sure he wasn’t home. The other day, we passed by her work and visited with her. As we were talking, her husband entered the store. Elder Weech and I froze. She introduced us. Once we realized he wasn’t there to kill us, we loosened up and were ourselves. We joked around and laughed and built a relationship with him. He gave us permission to pass by, accepted a family home evening for tonight, and said he would go to the branch activity on Tuesday! MIRACLE. He is pretty chill. I could tell he was uncomfortable thought. But HE offered the prayer before we left. Tonight is the family home evening. We have a killer plan. We are going right to the point to tell them we want to help them come back, baptize their daughter, and help them go to the temple. Then we will sing Christmas songs. Too perfect.
-Last miracle. Our investigator Silvia. She is filled with faith. She actually completed her reading assignment and prayed. But not to ask if the Book of Mormon was true. So we knelt with her and she prayed. After, we explained the fruits of the Spirit. She said, "When I asked I felt something warm inside, is that the Spirit?" Again, after we picked our jaws up off the floor, we told her yeah. Then we taught her the law of chastity because she isn’t married with her pareja. We committed her to talk with him about marriage. She asked, "Would you like me to do it right now?" Again, after we picked our jaws up off the floor, we were like "YA WE DO!" What faith!! She brought him in the room. Then it got awkward. He asked us what we wanted. Haha, what do we want? I chose to give him an intro before directly responding to that question. He didn’t see the point in marriage and wasn’t on board. But we knelt with them and Silvia prayed to know if they should get married. Then we left. We need to have another cita. She is golden.
The two citas with familia Piedras and Silvia were back to back. We followed Elder Teixeira´s advice and attacked the need. After like 2 hours of intense Spirit, focus, and worry, I was exhausted in every way. We sang Christmas hymns in the church as practice for a special musical number. Sitting down that night, I reflected on the day. This is bliss. I have never been happier. I am happy with myself. I am growing. I am helping others improve their lives. I am happy.
Doctrine and Covenants 123:17

Elder West

There were more dogs hiding under the bus

Monday, December 14, 2015

Week 24 -- Quellón, hospital, mission conference, etc.

On the ferry to Chiloe Island

Mother Dearest: HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!
For Christmas this year we have a zone conference in Castro, Chiloe. So it isn’t a legit Christmas, but we will feel the Spirit so we are good. Still don’t know about skype.
So we left Coyhaique early Tuesday morning, I’ve had like one day of normal sleep since then because of all of our traveling. I’m now in Quellón Chiloe. I saw the sun yesterday!!! It is just pure rain here! Learning to love it. I’m praying for our investigator Andres in Coyhaique. He was really an elect person that just had an addiction to smoking.
There is a goose coop from our neighbors right next to the window by my bed. They also have a rooster. Every morning from 5:00 am until 7 it crows. It makes me think of the movie Happy Gilmore when Adam Sandler is ticked at the mini golf clown because it won’t take his ball and he says "You’re gonna die clown!" then hacks its nose off with the golf club. I feel like that every morning. Learning patience. :)
My new companion is named Elder Weech from Pima, Arizona. He reminds me a lot of my friend Chandler Jenks. This is his last cambio in the mission. He is a great example to me. I am learning a lot. He has had an illness for a while. The mission nurse doesn’t know what it is. Basically his stomach is always in pain. So he can’t do his exercises super intense, and while we are walking we sometimes have to stop so he can rest a bit. But he fights through it so hard with a good attitude. I love him. Already I am learning how to work through the members (answer to prayers) and how to be chill, reasonable, and balanced while still working. I need that.
The Elder Teixeira conference was straight up amazing. I felt the Spirit super strong. His had us list all of our mission, personal, investigator, branch, and spiritual problems on a white board. Then he told us stories from his son’s mission and other personal experiences to answer every point. He emphasized contacts like crazy. It all starts with contacts. And they can be stupid simple too. We don’t have to stress about teaching a ton or saying something well-rehearsed in a contact. Love it. I felt the spirit teach me. Elder Teixeira said something and the Spirit taught me: "This is the Lord´s work, I’m not in this alone. So why am I doing it alone?" I can involve the atonement so much more in overcoming weaknesses and fears in this work. The atonement is for that too.
In Puerto Montt, I visited the mall there with Elders Watson and Strate because we traveled in two groups and Elder Lawton wasn’t with me. It was like swan diving back into Babylon with all the music, noise, images, and shopping.
While staying in Puerto Monte, I worked one evening with Elder Jepson. We entered a contact’s house. He was drunk. He showed us a Book of Mormon a friend gave him with the steps of prayer in the back. Then he piled a mound of medals and newspaper articles showing that he was a successful weightlifter when he was younger. Because he was drunk and it was going nowhere, we asked if we could leave with a prayer. He agreed, but brought out statues and put them on the table. He said if I was going to pray, I had to pray to them because it was his house. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to make a drunk guy angry. I prayed. Then I told him I would like to use the steps in the back of his Book of Mormon and just went for it. WHILE I was praying, he left the room and piled his weightlifting medals on the table so I could pray to them too. I ended the prayer, and we left the house safe.
I also went to the hospital. About a month ago, I accidentally kicked the corner of the bed while hurrying to the shower. My toenail died. So we went to the hospital so they could rip that baby off. In Chile, you go to the hospital for ANY kind of medical problem. They don’t have family clinics. You just go to the hospital. The hospital was super old and looked ghetto. After an hour or so, they bring me into a curtained off room. I can see two other patients in beds. The guy checks out my toe, tells me "I’m ripping it off," and the next thing I know he has his fingers gripping my toe nail. I was thinking "Bro, what are you doing???!!" My breathing accelerated rapidly. Then he tore it right off. Didn’t hurt too bad because it was mostly dead. But scared me half to death.
In a cita, I played with a little kid to keep him reverent. He was just like my little brother Tyler. Tender mercy. While he was tugging on my jacket, I testified to them of how God has helped me to be obedient even when it was really hard and uncomfortable. I felt the Spirit.
We also knocked on a future investigators door. She answered and was crying. She let us in and we asked her what was wrong. She was crying because she had a super bad headache. But she also poured out to us all of her life stresses with work, money, being a parent, and being overwhelmed. She told us she had just offered a prayer for comfort and help. Then we knocked on the door right after. After Elder Weech and I picked our jaws up off the floor (such a textbook missionary experience), we shared Alma 7: 11-13 about Jesus Christ and then invited her to baptism. It took a bit of explaining, but she agreed to prepare for baptism for the 23 of January.
Yesterday, we ate lunch with a returned missionary and his nonmember mom. Biggest lunch I’ve ever eaten in my life. After the first plate heaped with rice, potatoes, and meat, I had broken the word of wisdom by too much. Then we had another plate. Then ice cream. Then two bowls of jello. I tried gagging myself with a spoon afterwards to make myself throw up. Didn’t work. I just felt more sick. We took a nap and then were able to leave and work.
I have improved my personal studies with better planning. They have lifted me up. The mission is so hard, then my personal study picked me up. I have been able to receive answers for my personal questions and for investigators. During my study today, I was thinking about desire and obedience. Being obedient is enough sometimes. Jesus Christ didn’t want to drink the bitter cup, but he wanted to be obedient. So he did it. It is OK to obey out of the desire to obey, even when we don’t want to because it is hard.
I felt today that I have developed a greater depth of character in my mission. They are so hard. But I have never grown in this way before. I love you all. We are so blessed.

Elder West

Monday, December 7, 2015

Week 23 -- Cambios, Christmas, Perros

Chopping wood
This week while we were sitting on a bench, a guy asked us if we knew a place that sells marijuana. So we showed him our secret suitcase we carry around...NAH! Who do you think we are??? Ha-ha funny!
Cambios: I AM GOING TO CHILOE. The city is Quellon. It is the exact same sector that Elder Lawton was in before he came to Coyhaique. My new companion is elder Weech from AZ. I will become his companion after the mission conference in Puerto Montt. I’m killing him (meaning his last comp in the mission). So excited! Apparently Chiloe gives tons of food, and our house is the second closest house to the beach.
I will miss Elder Lawton. I have learned so much from him: exact obedience, supporting leaders, dealing with stress, focus on the work, growing grace by grace, patience, love, & desire. A ton. I know God will continue to bless me. Elder Lawton is like an older brother to me.
Elder Lawton’s feet have something wrong with them. They are all super red with spots and stuff. We went to the doctor and afterwards called the enfermera [nurse] in our mission. So we have been under house arrest for this week. We have been reading lots of the Book of Mormon, listening to conference talks, and even watched “17 Miracles”. We don’t leave often, but if we do leave anywhere, Elder Lawton has to wear sandals, NOT shoes. Because his feet need to dry out and rest.
Elder Lawton with sandals
His sandals have seen it all! The registro civil, in exercises, the shower, to church, p-day errands, in colectivos, even to a baptismal interview! He has been doing a lot of explaining.
While walking home one night, we passed by a fence. It went like this: I see big angry black dog. Big angry black dog sees me. He is ticked. I see open fence. I think that the fence shouldn’t be open with angry black dog. Big angry black dog is waist high. I move to shut gate. Little annoying angry dog appears. I kick-shove little angry dog away so I can shut open gate. Oh shoot, big angry dog is here. And then the next thing I knew is that I had this beasts jaws latched onto my glute. It fell off and Elder Lawton (after a very loud scream) starts throwing rocks. The dog runs away. After further inspection, my pants are ripped.  I’m not bleeding, and it didn’t pierce my garments. That is never a coincidence. Dog bite number 2 has been checked off my experience list.

Christmas devotional: we were trying to catch a colectivo so we could make it to the chapel in centro to see it. So we arrived 15 minutes late, at the end of a seventy’s talk. I really enjoyed the following song by the Motab choir, especially with that guy shredding the organ. So good. All the lights and music, and temple square shots made me trunky but put me in the holiday mood. We sang silent night in English. As the words appeared on the screen, I imagine I was singing it right along with my family at home. I remember last year’s devotional. We had just eaten Dutch cookies and milk. My feet were kicked up on the fireplace with a pillow behind my head. So comfortable with such great food that I fell asleep. Good times.
Scriptures that have helped me a lot this week: Helaman 12:23. It let me know that God sees me and is aware of my desires even when it doesn’t feel like I’m close to heaven. 2 Nephi 6:12 --I felt the Spirit as I shared this with a family here after lunch. I know God fulfills his promises to us. I just need to be patient with mine that will come.
Also during a lunch, we had a sad experience. We were sharing the spiritual thought/mini lesson to the recent convert. The husband was taking silly selfies and cracking jokes as we taught. The son was watching soccer and playing the guitar. The daughter wasn’t willing to participate, and this GOLDEN sister had just served us with a lunch and was listening to us. The husband was not giving us respect as representatives of the Lord Jesus Christ. He snapped a pic of me while I was giving my testimony. I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who saw it.  But the hermana’s head was down for a bit. She was fighting tears. So sad. She is so good. God is showing me who I need to be and what I want in my family after my mission.
Everyone here wears these hats

After another lunch with a member who has basically the same situation with a less active husband, she asked us for a blessing. We had just shared a spiritual thought and felt the Spirit guide us in our words to the point that she was crying. I knew I would give the blessing before she asked me for it. As I gave it, I felt the Spirit. I felt I was saying what Christ wanted her to hear. I could feel God’s love for her. She was told what comfort God wanted her to hear. I felt that the Lord was happy with me too, because there isn’t a feeling greater than being able to answer when the Lord needs us to. Missionaries live for experiences like this. That is why we leave the house when we don’t want to.
God is good. Christ is everything. This church is true. I love you all.

Elder West



Monday, November 30, 2015

Week 22 - Puerto Cisnes ends

My time in Puerto Cisnes is over now. This week we saw dolphins, a wild piglet, and found a dead armadillo hanging up by someone’s door.

Dogs: in Cisnes there is a dog with a messed up eye. It can only see through the other so it walks around with its head sideways. Reminds me of the joker. Another dog is super fluffy and fat and looks like a pig. Puerto Cisnes reminds me a lot of that little village in Walter Mitty where he meets that big drunk guy in a bar.
I gave a talk in church. Next week the zone flies to Puerto Montt to listen to Elder Teixeira speak. We will find out transfers this Sunday.
Mom and Dad, prep yourselves to skype for Christmas. Yyyyyeeeeaaahhhhh!
A lot of people here think I’m German because I’m tall and blonde. Because I’m a gringo a lot of people, as we passed by, would say "hello hello" and then slap and tickle each other and think that they are hot stuff. I don’t think it is funny. We also had little kids screaming profanity from the States at us as we passed by. It was super bad and super funny at the same time.
We found a super prepared guy but he travels a lot. Missionaries will get him down the road.
The guy that has us cut his grass with a machete (super old and humble and funny) told us that some people explained to him that we are false prophets, but he straight up told them they were wrong. I don’t know why but that really got under my skin. I then gut the grass with my machete in hand with more vigor.

On Saturday we bought bread and cheese and chilled on the beach as we ate dinner. The waves, sky and boats really relaxed me. Then a mom and her daughter sat 75 feet away and texted and drank beer together. Weird. Two dogs joined the party.
For thanksgiving we bought some chicken and cooked it in water, oil, salt, and barbeque sauce that Elder Harris had. Suuuuper Goood. We also had instant mashed potatoes. We bought those the day before and talked to the store owner. He had shared before with missionaries a lot. We set up a return appointment.

Rejection: we heard one couple fighting inside their house about who would answer the door and tell us to leave.  Of our 12 citas [appointments] that we made from contacts this week, 11 of them fell through. A lady we found and taught the restoration to told us as we came for our second appointment that she doesn’t like our religion because the Book of Mormon. I shared my testimony of the Book of Mormon with her and then we left. Frustrating. An investigator we had with a baptismal date is moving and he will leave with his girlfriend (sister of the elders quorum president), he told us he is not going to change.
These are the things of the mission that tear you apart. We have been giving lots of people their agency. It just motivates me to use mine better.
By the time I had 4 days in Cisnes, it felt like I had knocked every door. Yesterday, I did a contact. It was with a guy’s wife who had already rejected us hard. She was more open, but her phone went off and she answered it. Her 2 kids were with her. Then her husband came out. I started talking with him again. I was just trying to be obedient. I was just trying to help him because he doesn’t know what he is missing. He told me to leave. To go away. That he had already told us no before and he just wants to be left in peace. He told us to never come back. Then he left with his family. He did it with such venom; like I was a burden in his life; like he was so irritated with what I was doing; for talking to him. We went to branch council. As I was seated down, I noted in my planner that he was contact number four. Then I saw on the page before, written on the top "Dad’s birthday." Then I lost it. I couldn’t stop crying. Here I am, truly treated by many people as "a hiss and a byword", as a grievance to the people. And I’m just trying to obedient, to help the people and show my love for Heavenly Father. I went in the bathroom and collapsed to my knees and prayed for the man and his family through my tears because that is what Jesus would have me do. I loved that man. I want to help him. Missions are hard.
Then there are good people. We taught a man named Nicholas. He is in a wheel chair. He is willing to be baptized but will leave before Christmas. A legitimately good man.
Missions are so hard. But I am growing so much.

Elder West

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Week 21

Hey. Super stressed out because I just had a very difficult conversation with this librarian here in Puerto Cisnes to get a password or something. Took a while; choppy communication. Haha.

OK. Puerto Cisnes RAINS. It just dumps it here. Yesterday was the first day without rain. Everything in my backpack got soaked. We use shopping bags to wrap our scriptures in and such. Crazy. My first day here I was walking with shoes full of water. And then I found out because my feet have been so wet that I have foot fungus. Looks like athletes foot. I’ve been using a cream and it is leaving. Phew.

The members here are GOLDEN. So close knit. There are about 30 that come to church. We taught the second hour class.

Here, the dogs eat rocks. They like it when we kick rocks to them. They chase them and then chew them. More with dogs: we found dog poop in our house, and after a thorough search, we didn't find any dogs.

The other day I totally cut a guys "grass" (more like a jungle forest floor) with a machete, and then we chopped his wood. The Lord is making me a man out here.
For some weird reason, I’ve seen a lot of people here with dinosaurs in their windows; like the little toy kind.

Cisnes is tiny, and so is our investigator pool right now. We are working hard with lots of contacts. The people here don’t have a problem letting me know that they would rather not. But my contacts are improving so much. I’ve made contact plans, so I actually have something to say. It is going well. But here are the weird contact stories of the week:
-One guy wouldn’t talk. We used our hands and signs. Reminded me a lot of that part in Walter Mitty when they are just doing a lot of pointing to communicate and all you can hear are their coats squeaking. We just left him with a pass along card. He had a backpack full of kelp from the beach. Weird.
-Another guy was pretty shafty. As I was asking him if he knew anyone else we could visit, he lost his patience and slammed the door and we hear him yell, “Chao no más!", which I guess translates in this situation to "forget you" or something more mean.
-We talked to a sailor. He was cussing like one too.
-A drunk guy called us swearwords as we walked past his house.
-A lot of people just shake their fingers like "nuh-uh" and we laugh because it looks like they’re a sassy lady trying to be like Beyonce or something.
-During a Chile soccer game against Uruguay, no one was answering their doors. We were calling "ahloo" at an investigators house so we could make a cita, and they weren’t answering. So I tried the Chile soccer cheer. I yelled "chi chi chi" but no one responded with the "le le le." We left.
-One house was playing the drums. They weren’t answering, so I drummed on their door and they still didn’t answer. Fun though.
While we were waiting for a door to answer, Elder Harris was leaning against the hand rail. The wood was so rotted that it broke, and he fell onto the grass. Super funny. He reminds me a lot of my cousin Christian, just with the way he laughs and jokes around. So that is a tender mercy. We laugh a lot about the contacts we do. Also I cut his hair this morning. After, he tried to trim his eyebrows with the hair cutter. He comes up the stairs and looks at me on the bed, and he is like "Elder West, I just shaved off my eyebrows." HAHAHAHA; I died laughing for about 5 minutes. I guess he tried it out a little bit, went too far, and then had to finish the deed. Super funny. He has also been with Latino companions his whole mission. So when we read the mission manual together in companionship study, he has a Spanish accent. And that gets me every time, too.
This one drunk guy let us into his house. He had a buddy there who was suuuuper tipsy with his wine. We sat down. The guy served us sopaipillas. He was talking about anything and everything, and the whole time he would pour some wine, drink, talk, drink, talk. After a bit he was pretty loose. He showed us pics of his family. One was of him surrounded by a crowd of 50 people after he had just split a huge knotted tree trunk in a wood cutting competition. His lips were puckered out and everyone was like "oooohhhhhh." Super funny. Then we saw in another picture that he had that he had an accordion. I asked him if he played. Before we knew it, he was playing the accordion for us and singing. We started clapping, stomping our feet, and providing backup vocals. Meanwhile, his drunken Argentine friend would change from clapping, to doing the robot, to merengue dancing, to chopping the table. Then he would repeat. We had a rolling time. Haven´t laughed so hard in a while. God is blessing me with these funny experiences.

We stopped one lady’s house to invite her to church. It didn't go well. We were testifying and sharing scriptures. But she was denying every effort. It was sad to see her deny the Spirit. She wouldn’t pray either. We went home sad that day. Then she came to church the next day. So that didn’t make much sense. But it ended up well.

But the best experience of the week came in one of my scripture studies. This week my mind has been at home a lot because Great-grandma West died. I was so concerned with my family; if they were comforted; how they were feeling; how my other family, who aren’t members of the Church, would take her death. I was super concerned. Stressed. I had two dreams where other siblings died. And the new sector stress was humbling me too. I prayed hard, and God answered. I followed the advice in Alma 37:37. I counseled with the Lord in all my doings. I knelt and let Him know exactly how I was feeling. I felt like I just needed to keep working and have patience. In my scripture study, I was reminded of the promise in Doctrine and Covenants 31:5 where it says if I work hard as a missionary, my family will live. The Spirit comforted me that the Lord is holding my family in his hands. Tender mercy. God gives us comfort according to our needs.

I love you all.

Elder West

Monday, November 16, 2015

Week 20. Me voy a Cisnes!

This week...
Every day at noon the bomberos (firefighters) sound an alarm. Sounds like we are about to get bombed.
For my birthday Elder Watson made me a Mickey Mouse pancake (cute), and Elder Lawton bought me a pan con chicharron. I bought two berlins [jelly filled donuts] and we ate them at lunch. Then we knocked doors all day! But it was a really good day, and I enjoyed it a lot. Forgot my camera so next week = double pics!
This week we needed to buy more gas. They sell them in metal containers and you call for them. I called for like my second time, and I was leaning on Elder Watson and Elder Godoy for the vocab because I don’t speak Chilean gas company Spanish. They were giggling with every word I said. Then after the call they exploded laughing. I basically told the guy on the phone that "we need a 15 kg balloon of gas right now you slave." Haha, love those clowns.
There was this one door contact that lasted for like 20 minutes and he was going on and on about everything anti-American. He said we are super racist. He said he is brown, Elder Lawton is white, and then he called me yellow. Haha. He was short, fat, and super animated with every gesture. Then he talked about Barack Obama, and I lost it. I turned around and laughed so hard. The guy kept talking to Elder Lawton while I fought to not laugh. That made my day.
Elder Lawton and I were at a gate and calling for someone in the house *aaloh. No one came. But there was a big dog in our face. We started talking to the dog in Spanish. It went like this: "Hey, how is your day?" Bark. "Bad? We are sorry." Bark "Is there anything we can do for you?" And then the dog ran away from us. We both said at the same time "Have a good day." It was super funny because we had been getting shafted all day long, and the dog contact went just like every other human contact.
We had one contact where I understood about 5%. Then I was talking two days later with Jose for about an hour in Spanish. I’m living a bilingual paradox. Elder Lawton said the guys were speaking weird and it was even hard for him to understand them so that made me feel better. I’m basically fluent, woot woot. The Lord totally has calmed my fears looking back on my pre mission language fears.
We talked to a 96 year old woman who was pulling nails out of wood and picking up garbage. Wow.
The district mission leader spoke to us at zone meeting. He switched the labels of a can of tuna and a can of strawberry and had two missionaries pick which one they wanted to drink. They were fooled. Then he compared that to his mission. He said that the truly sweet results are found in what first appears to be hard work (tuna). It was powerful.
After interviews with President last week, the zone leaders told me I will be having a two week intercambio [companion exchange] in Puerto Cisnes. My bus leaves in like an hour, so I gotta be pronto. But Puerto Cisnes is beautiful, and tiny tiny. The work there is HARD and it is easy to get disanimated. President said that Cisnes needs an Elder West. I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve with all the enthusiasm I can muster in Cisnes. It’s a four hour bus ride. There are like 2,000 people there.

One guy stopped us on the street and told us he wants to feel closer to God. We have a cita with him this week. Another guy with 15 years [15 year old] told us in a lesson that he wants to be on the right path because his family isn’t religious. We are finding a lot of prepared people here.
One day I felt like we needed to pass by the house of some former investigators. On the way we ran into a recent convert who we found the other day. (I felt like we should knock the house and we did and we found her.) She has 4 months in the church and just moved from Concepcion. She told us when we ran into her again that she moved more into lower Coyhaique. She will now be with the hermanas. It is cool to see how the Lord guides. He didn’t want that sister to slip through the system and not be back at church.
The other day I was organizing our area book and I saw all the people we have taught here and all the new people we have found. I saw the fruits of our labors. It felt good. We are growing this part of the vineyard.
We passed by the house of Hermana J. to pick up our lunch. I shared Mosiah 2:17 with her to thank her, and she had tears in her eyes. It was so tender to see that the Lord communicated to this hermana through me (a complete rookie) something that needed to touch her heart. I’m so grateful to be an instrument in the Lord’s hands.
I heard that Great-grandma West died. I cried. I love her. Mosiah 16:1-7 talks all about the bad things that would be if there was no Christ. I LOVE verse 8 because Abinadi totally lays his testimony out on the table. Verse 8 begins with "But" and in the following verses he testifies of Jesus Christ. I know we will see Great-grandma West again. Moroni 9:25-26. I am praying for you guys.
This week we have tried so hard to do all we can to leave the house on time. As we have, looking back I realized that as we have been more and more obedient, the more I am enjoying the work. I love obedience. It only brings happiness.

Elder West

A picture of Puerto Cisnes from a travel website (

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Week 19 - Toes, blessings, and hot

Thanks for all the birthday wishes.
This week has been HOT. Like I mean leaving out in a t-shirt and sunscreen hot. It got up to 26 °C one day. But it don’t know what that is in Fahrenheit. But it is humid here too, and we are all used to freezing. Hot.
I heard from an RM [returned missionary] at mission prep that a mission is just 2 years of awkward experiences. One of the best bits of advice I’ve ever received.
In my morning routine, I was hustling around and WRECKED my toe on the sharp bed corner. It cut under my toe nail. It hurt super bad, but I could still walk. So I limped everywhere and gritted my teeth. Elder Lawton had his right foot hurting him too this week because of his exercises. So all of these poor confused Chileans saw two white kids in church clothes hobbling around all over Coyhaique. Funny, but at the same time it isn’t.

Because of the heat and my toe, I had a very powerful spiritual experience. We were walking to the highest part of our sector to meet with a lady for service. We were dying of the heat, my toe hurt so bad. And because I had to adjust my walk into a shuffle, I was using different muscles so my calf was hurting too. I don’t know. Just the combination of all the physical and emotional stress and other things, it was hard. I wanted to respond positively to opposition and challenges like Nephi. So I started to pray as we kept walking up the hill. I turned to Heavenly Father in the pain and I said "I love you." Then I started to cry. I knew He heard me.
As we started to serve the lady, my thoughts turned outward. I really enjoyed the service. We built a leñera, which is something that keeps your wood dry. It was so hot, but I lost myself in the service and had relief during that time. Service is great to relieve our own pain. I'll attach a pic of the leñera.

Elder Lawton can play the piano, so he is a very well used resource here. We were practicing with the primary “Families Can Be Together Forever”. As I listened to the children sing, I felt the Spirit very strong. Tender mercy. They sang great at the district conference.
At district conference, Presidente Obeso came and spoke in every session. I felt the Spirit very strongly testify to me in priesthood session that God always answers our prayers. I know that is true. After district conference, I had an interview with president. This was my second. Up to this point, I have cried in every one. Haha. This time, I laughed and cried. But it was crying because I felt the Spirit. Love his advice and help in my personal struggles on the mission. I can feel God’s love through him.
We have been having DTRs (define the relationship) with a lot of our investigators. We are no longer visiting investigators that don’t want to progress to baptism. It is hard. It takes faith to do that and trust that God will put people in your path. But on a happier note, we have taught 2 people about family history. Family history gets everyone amped out of their minds and it is super fun to teach and show them pics of my ancestors.
Andres chose the 30th of November to stop smoking. His fecha de bautismo [baptism date] is December 12. Please pray for him. We had a powerful lesson with him. I felt the Spirit. In a very powerful moment, I promised him that he will be able to stop smoking if he goes to church, reads, and prays. In the end, Elder Lawton and I both felt prompted to ask him if he would like a blessing of strength. I knew it would be me who would give it. He asked me. I was filled with the Spirit and with faith. No I don’t know Spanish perfectly, but I know enough. I laid my hands on his head and gave my first priesthood blessing in Spanish. I feel so grateful to be in the Lord’s service. I love Andres so much. He is in every one of my prayers.

Yesterday, we saw a guy smoking on the corner. He was white. I felt like we should talk to him. We did, and it turns out that he speaks perfect English and his grandpa is from Italy. He took us to his house that was secluded a bit at the top of the hill by the mountains and let us in. I felt like I was in a house in Alpine, Utah. That hasn’t happened since I left Utah. Wow. He could play the piano and the guitar super well. They even have a cabin! We taught him half of lesson one in English, mixed with Spanish sentences because we are both at the point where speaking church in Spanish is easier than speaking church in English. We will meet again with him tonight at 6:30.
Missions are hard. But looking back over the time I have, I realized how much of a great time this has been. I have my own crazy stories, times of discouragement, happy lessons, and everything in between. God helps us through it all.
Jacob 6:12

Elder West

Monday, November 2, 2015

Week 18 --Perros y Halloween

Dog story of the week: Elder Lawton and I were walking to a hermana’s house with a bag full of her lunch Tupperware. We heard a really low and angry bark behind us. As we turned around, a dog was lurching at us. I remembered Elder Ryan’s advice to me to never run or you will get bitten, that you have to fight back. Instinctually, I cranked the Tupperware bag and clocked the dog right in the face. It ran away. I’m straight out of Coyhaique. We laughed because it was super scary and it was weird that Tupperware did the dirty work.
Cambios [exchanges]: Elder Lawton and I stay together for this cambio. That made me happy. We are getting work done and I’m learning a lot from him. Elder Peterson is dying [going home from his mission], so he will fly to Osorno and elder Godoy will replace him as zone leader. I’m now a normal missionary. My last day of training was yesterday. We ate a birthday lunch with the familia Quinteros. They are angels.

Halloween made me trunky for home. Seeing all the little niños made me think of home. I’m never going to miss a night of trick or treating with my little siblings after the mission. Also on Halloween, there was a baptism of the hermanas [sister missionaries] in centro. Elder Lawton and I killed ourselves for two days trying to find investigators who could go. None of them showed up so we had to leave the baptism. But I was happy and felt good because we did all we could. So it is in God’s hands.

On Tuesday, I left the house only wearing a long sleeved white shirt; first time in my mission. But I had to whip out the coat for after like 6 o’clock. I have 4 months in the mission; woot, woot. Dang that seemed like a big deal. But as I wrote it, I just realized that it is nothing. But I have grown and learned A LOT.

Jose, who is a recent convert, received the Aaronic priesthood on Sunday!!! It is crazy cool to see how the Lord has totally prepared him to go out with us in our citas [appointments].

On Halloween, Elder Lawton and I were writing down information from a contact we just had made, and the next thing we knew there was a bloody scream mask in our face that was screaming. The teenage girl ran away laughing. Weird.
In a cita with Jordana, her 99 year old grandma and I made eye contact. Her grandma then made the sign of the cross. I don’t know if that was a good or bad thing.

While we were knocking doors, I had an insight. As missionaries, we want people to read pray and go to church SO badly because we know the joy that just a little bit of sacrifice to be obedient will bring them. Then I thought about how Heavenly Father must feel the same way about me. If I just sacrificed a little more and completely embraced all the rules and everything with complete obedience then how much more joy could I experience?

Coyhaique after sunset
We knocked on a door and the guy shafted us and was like "hah, go visit my neighbor." Then he shut his door on us. We were going to leave, but Elder Lawton was like, “Let’s just go check it out even if it won’t be anything”. We went. A 25ish year old let us in. We had a textbook how to begin teaching lesson and I felt the Spirit super strong. He came to know God after he was in a coma for 8 months because he saved a guy’s life from some thugs while he was drunk and they beat and cut him up pretty bad. He has some gnarly scars. After that lesson, I said "oh my gosh" and "what just happened" like 100 times. We passed by later in the week and talked about baptism, and he said he doesn’t like the idea of going to church or baptism. But we’ll see how he turns out. Once he keeps commitments, the Spirit will work with him and change him.

We visited Andres. We put him with fecha [baptismal date]. He is so prepared. He just has an addiction to smoking. So we will work with him on that but he really wants to be baptized and have an eternal family.
This week has been hard with lots of walking and sore muscles. Sometimes, I’ve thought "It doesn’t make sense. I don’t have to be planting seeds this whole time. I should also be harvesting seeds that have already been planted." I know God is over all. He guides this. I had a personal study this week where the Spirit very clearly showed me how merciful God has been with me and how He has so perfectly placed everything to work out this cambio with my personal growth and in answering my questions. Questions I have had that seemed like a big deal 2 weeks later are worked out through experience or are no longer important. So much of life and receiving answers is just patience and trust.

The sacrament has become so sacred and precious to me. It is like the temple. Hermana Juetra, after a lunch this week, talked with us. We were talking about the temple. We asked her how she felt when she made her temple covenants. She looked as us with tears in her eyes and choked out "maravillosa." I was about to cry. Afterwards, we were cutting wood for someone and I just sat there as the Spirit worked me over testifying of temple covenants and the family. I’ve never yearned for something more in my life. I ache to visit the temple again and to be with my family, and to go to the temple with them. But all is in God’s timing, and I am focused here.

I love you all.

Elder West
Jacob in his apartment with some aviator glasses he found.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Week 17 - I'm getting fat

First off, shout out to Brother Bennett and Brother Lowder, my mission prep teachers. Doing the practices are the things that have helped me out the most.
One night we sat on a bench to eat a sack dinner. I left my bag on the ground. The next thing I knew there was a dog with its mouth in my bag and it ran off with my bread! DOGS ARE VULTURES.
Right now, to just spice up life I’m writing a poem about dogs and reasons they bark. I’ll publish it in a week or two.
More about dogs: Those two dogs I wrote about forever ago that follow us everywhere, when they follow us, all of the dogs in Coyhaique go crazy and we can’t hear people when we are talking to them. And other dogs attack them, so they try to hide behind us, which means we get an angry dog up in our grill. So we are still throwing rocks and locking them in our fence so they can’t follow us around all day. We call them Dill (brown one) and Squirtle (black one).
Today, we did some chores to get my visa coming along.
We are teaching two menos activos English for service.
It’s now week 6 in the cambio. I’ll find out if I’m getting transferred on Monday of next week. Pretty sure I’m staying. It is also week 12 of my training. After this week, I will be fully trained! Spanish is always coming along. Sometimes when I’m speaking English, Spanish words slip in which is pretty frustrating and cool at the same time. I had a conversation about the political viewpoints of a project for water and electricity going on in Aysen, in Spanish. I understood enough to get the gist of it.
So many times this week, I have crashed onto my bed at the end of the day. My feet and back kill me from walking all day, but I feel happy because we are doing good things. Missions are hard. I’ve never walked for about 9 hours every day before.
Many times throughout the week, I feel down or super happy. When I’m down, I know that means I’m going to have an awesome experience pretty soon, or the Spirit is going to comfort me, or I’m going to feel energized. God is so good. Life is always really good, or only going to get better.
An investigator said she wants to be baptized and is going talk with her pareja to see if they will separate or get married. But she didn’t come to church.
In a conference talk we were listening to, I heard the line, "it will all make sense in the end." The Spirit comforted me with the amount of success I’ve had in my mission to this point. I know that God fulfills His promises He has made to us. It will all make sense in the end.
In our zone leadership meeting we all shared our testimonies of Christ at the end. So powerful. All representatives of Jesus Christ testifying of Him and all living in a selfless manner and keeping their temple covenants equals POWER. Tangible power.
On Sunday, as I took the sacrament, it felt like I was in the temple. Even though I can’t go for two years, I felt like I was in the temple during the sacrament. It felt that way because I thought about my covenants throughout the week, about Jesus Christ, and I prayed for help to be prepared to take it and renew my baptismal covenant.
Yesterday, we taught a woman and her son-in-law. His wife left for Santiago for emergency chemotherapy. We showed up to teach them about the restoration and baptism. But the lesson went a different direction. They unloaded to us all of their stresses, doubts, financial burdens, and everything that is just weighing them down. Then the asked us, US!, what to do. We are just two 20 and 18 year old boys from Utah. But the spirit magnifies us in our calling. We just listened to them and shared with them comfort and strength scriptures. I felt the spirit testify to them when I spoke.
I prayed and asked God to bless me to know that He is aware of me. We were waiting to see if a door contact would answer, and I looked at a wild rose bush. The leaves were so detailed. There was little fuzz, divots, they were so green, and the Spirit struck me and told me: “if God has SO MUCH concern to design and detail a little wild and unkempt rose bush plant that is growing outside of a fence in southern Chile, then HE IS AWARE OF ME. HIS SON.” He will not forget or forsake us. Just like he detailed and designed that plant, he will do the same that much more for my life.
We were walking the other day on a street, and there were some teenaged gangsters sitting on a bench. They called out some stuff at us, and the only word I could hear was "Mormons." They must have that that Elder West was going to keep on walking and that he would be embarrassed. And they would have a good old laugh and then slap and tickle each other. But NO. Before my mission, I was passive a bit, but I have now come to have some red personality in me. When they said that, I was not going to let them mock representatives of Jesus Christ. We hadn’t talked to enough people that day either. I walked right up to them and they started laughing. I shook their hands and told them why we are here and what our message is about. They all turned out to be like 14 or 16 years old. They laughed so hard to blow off their discomfort. I felt guided to tell them that God loves them and he wants to give us guidance in our lives. They just laughed and said that is the kind of stuff their grandma believes in. I could tell one kid was uncomfortable. He probably had good parents teach him. He will remember that experience with us. I could tell that they were all really uncomfortable. But I felt power in that moment because I defended the truth. I looked at my companion Elder Lawton, and I saw a man, a priesthood man. And none of those "cool" kids could even touch that. This is the Lords work. I testify of that.
1 John 4:4

Elder West
Jacob's missionary planner with a President Hinckley quote

Monday, October 19, 2015

Weird Week--week 16

This week was straight weird.
I was actually bitten by a dog this week. He was a shrimp though and it didn’t even hurt. But hey, a bite is a bite.
We contacted this guy in the street. As we approached him we saw he was limp walking, which means he had a deformity or was drunk or both. I thought he was drunk. When we shook his hand he looked at us, and his face looked kind of torn up and bloody a bit. He was like "I’m going to my house. I just got hit by a truck." Then he left us there speechless.
We also saw domestic violence in the street. A guy and a lady were fighting. The lady was hitting him and screaming and he was trying to make her go to his house. There was a little girl with them and she was just screaming and crying. The lady came up to us and kept telling me "ayudáme, ayudáme." At least I knew that phrase from Dora the Explorer. I had NO idea what to do so I just said a silent prayer. The ywere arguing their cases in front of us. They were all up in our grills, and we just stood there. They left when the saw that we had no idea what to do. We called the carabineros [police] after.
We talked with a Jewish man. His parents left Germany when persecution got bad in WW2. We also talked with a Muslim from Algeria. He speaks Spanish, French, Arabic, and English perfectly. He was super cool. 32 years old. Way chill.
Last p-day, we made completos [Chilean hot dogs].

I’m now exercising 30 minutes every day. Hermana Obeso told us we should all do that. I’m rushing so hard in the mornings.
There is a little girl in a park that we pass by often. We stopped to make phone calls and she came up to us to talk. She is 6 years old, and looks just like my little sister Rebecca, except Chilean. We talked. She rode her bike away. I cried a bit because she was Just like Rebecca. Such a tender mercy. No, I’m not homesick, no sarcasm there.
An antiguo investigador [former investigator] let us in to talk. Her name in our phone contacts is "gato lady", but I didn’t know why. I now know. There were 9 cats, but only 17 eyes. One was like a cyclops. During our lesson they were climbing all over me and scratching me. It was hard to focus. But as we focused, we felt the Spirit and we invited her to baptism. She didn’t accept, but she wants to learn more before she says yes. I felt the Spirit testify to her. She understood profetas [prophets] really well and she commented on how excited and happy I was as I shared.
As I have put more focus on studying for questions our investigators might have, I feel the Spirit so much stronger in my study, especially with Moroni 9 and that whole context of that chapter. And then vs. 25 and 26 hit me so hard, and I was crying.
Lee told us that even though he has a critical mind, he is convinced that it was prayer that helped him be happy with his situation here in Chile.
We are now eating lunches with members. The members here are golden and so faithful.
We are teaching Ricardo and Lorenza. We taught them the plan of salvation and shared Alma 7: 11-13. They loved it. I kept thinking throughout the day that we needed to visit them even though they weren’t in our plans. I now know it was the Spirit.
God loves us. He hears our prayers. Even when it doesn’t feel that way. I know that is true.

Elder West

Somebody's pet rock (in espanol)

Monday, October 12, 2015

'Notha week en Octubre

Horse drawn cart in Coyhaique.

Dogs: we saw a dog jump 20 times like a kangaroo about 4 feet into the air. At one point, we had 10 dogs within 5 feet of us. I wouldn't believe it if I didn't experience it. At another point, we had 4 dogs and 2 cats within 3 feet of us. On an intercombio with AP Elder Nogales at a door contact, a dog was barking at me. It was on a hill right by the fence, and our faces were 1 ft. away. His barks were like concussions through my body. I could feel its breath on my face, and its breath reaked. I'm feeding Judas hotdogs now. He still barks like crazy and tries to eat me through the fence, but my feelings towards him have changed. Service lesson of the day for you right there.

We contacted a lady in the street, and the top of her head reached the bottom of my rib cage. 

I pause so many times here because it is so beautiful. Just like Walter Mitty. So blessed to preach the gospel in PATAGONIA.

We found a golden family. We meet up with them this week. They are teaching their kids to pray.

We have been challenged to read the Book of Mormon in three months. I'm reading it before the end of the year. That book is so true. I started on Tuesday to read the scriptures in only Spanish. I understand maybe 80 percent, until I arrived at the Isaiah chapters, haha. I had two conversations this week with Chileans that I walked away from and went "Whoa, I understood all of that, an d they understood me!" Spanish is coming.

Elder Lawton is so great for me. He is helping me with my Spanish, dealing with stress, being myself at all times, and speaking up. We've had to run to the house a bunch at nights to get home on time at 9:30.

Jordana is now living in our sector again!!! Joel is completing his compromisos.

Experiences: At one point there was a Chile soccer game. NO ONE would even come to the door. One guy did, and he was evangelico. He just went off on this rant about "the gospel". I was just standing there, and my mind was elsewhere. Then I realized he is a child of God that is precious to God. I couldn't help but love that guy so much. He didn't know what he was missing, how we could help him. I loved him so much. We left, and, afterward, I felt like crying. I'm so grateful I can help people here.

We talked with a guy, and he just told us all of his marital problems.  Then he asked me what he should do. In that moment I felt like "Whoa, I'm just 18 and I have no marital experience and no idea how to help him". Then the Spirit reminded me that I am a representative of Jesus Christ. And if I open my mouth, it will be filled. I did, and it was filled. We counseled him to pray. He has been, and a completely new light has come into his life. He now has perspective, happiness, and patience.

We were rejected a lot one day, and that night I read 1 Nephi 2: 18-20. The Spirit rocked me and told me that these verses apply to me and I don´t need to worry about anything. I have been faithful, and God will take care of me.

I love you all so much. Ponderize 1 Nephi 17:3 with me this week.

Elder West

sent from a rented Chilean computer

After having to run home at night.

A model dog.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Week 14, Conference

Eating Nalca Root (a type of Chilean Rhubarb)

After trying nalca

For missionaries, conference is bigger than Christmas. I've never had a more enriching conference experience. And conference made me trunky for all of my conference memories with family, priesthood session, and going to it last April.

Last preparation day we made stir fry. Elder Watson bet me I couldn't eat my whole bowl. Well I put him in his place and he is now washing my dishes for the month of October :).   [Jacob later added that he will never actually require him to do them, since his mom's teachings are to engrained in him].

I ate horse.

After the session of conference where the apostles were announced, we watched the press conference with a question and answer session. A reporter from the Associated Press asked them what the biggest problem was that the Church faced and what they were going to do about it. Then he sat down with a smug, arrogant smile on his face. Then Elder Rasband answered that this is the reason why we have conference, and all the answers are there. It was an answer guided by the Spirit, and it wasn’t contentious.

This Friday we have zone conference with Presidente Obeso. Joel is progressing and Lee came to conference.

I can understand more now. Not everything. But it is only getting better. I’m grateful for what I can say and for what I can understand.

I had the question in my morning study today of how can I be happy even when I need to do something hard. All of the scriptures pointed me to Jesus Christ and how through Him we can have joy in every situation. My invitation to you all is to look to Christ when you want to feel happy. Ponder on His sacrifice, what you can do through His atonement, what blessings we can enjoy because of the atonement, His example, and His love for you. Things will get better. I testify that Jesus Christ is exactly who He said He was: Jesus Christ, YOUR redeemer. He did what he said He would do. And that gift to us is priceless. I testify that He works on a personal level.

Elder West


Dad: in conference with Elder Bradley D Foster and his talk about “I was once your age. I’ll tell you what you might experience. And then I’ll help you through it”, that talk hit me like a load of bricks. I thought about you so much. I. LOVE. YOU. Last letter you talked about maybe hanging back on advice after my mission because I’ll be my own man. But I love you, and I want your advice and help. I’m opening up right now the line for all of your advice. Please let me know what you experienced and how it helped you. I love you.

Mom, Grandma, Allison- thank you for being the kind of women in my life that Elder Nelson talked about.

Mom and Dad- birthday stuff. Chao no más. Anything is good. I just want to hear from each of you individually. Thank you for your prayers. Dad, thank you for playing with the kids even when you are tired. Mom, thank you for sending me the emails about what experiences the family is having. It makes me feel at home. Mom, Dad: I want to charge this with as much emotional energy as possible- the Spirit hit me so hard during conference with gratitude for you both. I am on my knees every morning and evening pleading on behalf of my beloved mother and father and thanking my blessed Father in Heaven-without words strong enough to communicate- for my parents. YOU. ARE. EVERYTHING. TO. ME. I love you. I am blessed above all to call you my parents.

Mom, I just want to cook with you when I get home. I love you so much. Elder Holland’s mother talk is on point. I love you.

Allison- I needed your email last week. Every week I almost cry when I read yours because I’m so happy about the woman you are becoming and the good choices you are making. You are an example to me. In what ways have you seen our family be blessed while I’m serving? I’ve never loved you more Allison than I have while I’m out here. Look up "Trust in the Lord" by Elder Scott. It is a great talk. Family is the most important thing. The Lord has drilled that to my core while I’m out here. I will be different with my relationships when I get back. I’ll put more into them. Before your mission, strengthen them too. I love you so much Allison.

Then the rest of the niños- listen to and obey mom and dad, even when it seems dumb because they know what´s up. Don’t wait until you are on a mission in southern Chile to see that. I love you all. Thank you for your emails. I pray for you. Please be kind to each other and spend time with each other. Laugh together. Go to the park together. Play games together (not video games, I mean the old school kind of games), and cook together.

I love you family!!!!