Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Week 13, Cambios & Such

Elders Lawton & West

Hola! ‘Sup! Que Tal! And other rookie Spanish phrases...
A few weeks ago when we had the world of service activity, there was a baptism right after it in centro. We didn't have time to change. So we went in our hoodies and jeans and I felt really uncomfortable, ha-ha.
Elder Ryan and I were also laughing about how as missionaries we are like that kid no one wants to hang out with.
Some Elders with a really nice house up north barely escaped their house with their lives. It caught on fire and burned down on Sept. 18.
Yesterday, my new trainer, Elder Lawton (hi Lawton family!!), and I talked to a man who was drunk. We shook his hand about 6 times. And he had an ax in his backpack. While we were talking to him, he almost fell over backwards because he was pretty sloshed. That ax would have done some damage to his back.
Yesterday, this super evangelico guy let us in. We talked about God, and he was super open and everything and said how we were inspired to teach the word. We tried to tell him about priesthood authority, but it went nowhere. He said the closing prayer. I closed my eyes and the next thing I new he was standing over us, all 5 ft. something of him, with his arms raised to the heavens, and then he pronounced a very evangelico blessing on us. Pretty cool.
Last week before Elder Ryan left, we tried out running for our exercise time. We can sprint walk everywhere. But after running a hill, I was bent over and open-mouth-fat-guy-breathing and all. Ha-ha Wow, I’ve come a long way since ultimate frisbee season.
This last Sunday, our church attendance was 63!!! Normally, it is about 40. We are working hard, and the members are working through branch council with assignments, and we are seeing some legit growth.
Yesterday on our walking home, after unsuccessfully knocking a lot of doors, Elder Lawton and I sang hymns on our way home. I was choked-up with the Spirit. I loved singing. The words brought me comfort, refreshed perspective, hope, faith, and the Spirit. I felt relaxed. I´m grateful Elder Lawton is willing to sing with me. There is power in the hymns. Elder Lawton is from Utah. His mom is from Central America. He went to a year of BYU before, and I know that the Lord has a lot for me to learn from him. He his super humble and a hard worker. He strongly desires to be obedient. He is a good missionary. He will finish up my training.
Elder Lawton has helped me a lot with stress. This week has been the most stressful of my life. I´m basically like senior companion because I was using the phone, paid the bills, lead the planning sessions, and worked with the members. None of that because I’m great and all, but just because I know the area better. I've done a lot of growing up this week.
Yesterday, we made contact with a guy from England who married a menos activo in our ward. He is super cool. He is super ready to come back to the truth. And he can´t speak Spanish, so we are going to help teach him that. We also just got the info from a girl living here from the US. We will visit her too.

Other than that, I´M AMPED FOR CONFERENCE!!!  I have never been more excited in my life. It is like Christmas. We are going to watch it (hopefully in English) in the church in centro. I know that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet, and the Apostles are literal apostles. I´m super pumped to hear the new apostles too. I think we will have a competition in our house to see who can guess the 3 new ones.
Helaman 3:35 helped me a lot this week. I have been working on humbling myself, because I’m getting humbled again, and I want to help the Lord help me and teach me. And that can only happen if I’m humble. Helaman 3:35 says if I humble myself, and strengthen my faith in Christ, then I am yielding my heart to God which will bring me joy and consolation in any kind of situation I am in. I know that is true.
I love you all! I need your prayers for my stress. I´m praying for you all!!

Elder West
Sent from a rented Chilean computer.

To the family:
Dad- PMG makes me so happy. You are being blessed for reading it. Keep sharing it with the kids. I’m praying for that. I love Kyle’s games. Allison brings me SO much joy with all of the good decisions she is making. I just learned how to copy and paste. So I’ll hit you up with more stories if I write them to others. How is BYU football? I heard to only send packages through the US postal service. Kevin better keep playing that guitar! I love you!

Mom- that’s way cool that you talked with Abby. She mentioned that and said you are such a great person. Thanks for the updates with the kids. Allison makes me so happy. Sherri is a great manager, actually the greatest. I don’t know about all of the prices for food, but I’m learning. Thanks for all the recipes. I don’t really have time, even on p-days to make it all, but I’m learning more how to cook. Elder Peterson’s comp that lives in the house with me knows how to cook really well, and he has promised to teach me.

Rachel- Congrats with your sports and thanks for the letter to me this week. You are a dang athletic guuuuurl!

Allison- we were safe on the 18th. Thanks for your prayers. We couldn’t feel the earthquake here. Keep being a great example. I like seriously want to cry because of all the good things you are doing. I love you so much and keep it up.

Dad, Wendy sent me a kind email, please thank her. Aunt Katherine too.  Please thank her and tell her that I almost cried with the Spirit when I read that all the dozens of little cousins are praying for me daily.

Love Elder West      
La familia Quintero
Another Chilean dog

Monday, September 21, 2015

Week 12: Dieciocho happened, and cambios

I´ll begin with some less spiritual things: our neighbors got robbed, we had two guardian dogs follow us around everywhere, I´m working the companionship phone right now (AHHHHH), and Happy Birthday Christian.
For Sept 18, Presidente Obeso told us to go to the activity in Puerto Aysen. The drive there is beautiful. It made me think a lot of the countryside in Walter Mitty and Lord of the Rings. 

At the activity we played dodgeball, listened to storytelling, watched people dance the Cueca a lot, and ate like crazy. We even played basketball!!! I dunked it and the Chileans were like "woooooooooow!" For the food, they had three half barrels filled with meat. They had tons of potatoes, soda, beef, chicken, sausages, hot dogs, Chilean salad, and everything else. We said a blessing, then it immediately turned into a brawl. I thought we would have an orderly line with plates, knives, spoons, cups, and everything. But no, how you do it is you attack the table, eat with your hands, and fend for yourself. We had meat juice running down our chins, and our hands were covered in it too. I ate till I hurt. It was awesome.

Cambios are here. I think they are called transfers in English. ELDER RYAN IS LEAVING ME. He will be a zone leader in Rahue. My new comp will come Wednesday. His name is Elder Lawton. When we found out that Elder Ryan would be a zone leader everyone in the house went berserk. Elder Ryan jumped and hit his head on the ceiling (Chilean ceiling) and the light fixture dropped and shattered on the floor which immediately silenced our energy. Haha, so funny.
Familia Opazo in our rama [branch] is amazing. They hold family home evening every Sunday night with someone who isn't a member.
God helped me feel I´m being successful when I read in Preach My Gospel that a successful missionary loves the people and desires their salvation. God also helped me see that I´m enjoying success, even if it isn't in the form of baptisms, because Elena and Evangelista came to church, and Josaline wants to be baptized, and Jonathan and Veronica are returning to church, along with familia Ovando.
I love my mission because I get to fulfill some of my deepest desires. I get to help and love people. I get to help them feel God’s love.
Heavenly Father helped me see how far my Spanish has come. We visited a menos activo that I visited in my first week here. I can understand her now. Yeah, come at me Spanish! I've been blessed to see that. Sometimes I absolutely know the gift of tongues is real, and then sometimes God lets me see my absolute dependence on him.
The two things that I've learned on my mission so far that Heavenly Father is teaching me are: Family is everything, and the atonement is real. Before my mission I knew that Christ suffered for us and knows exactly how I feel. But I didn't really see a point in why knowing how I felt was important. I now know. It is because in my first two weeks in the mission, in my little Gethsemane, that’s the only comfort I had. There was no relief for me. I just had to drink the bitter cup. But the only thing that gave me comfort was knowing that Christ was feeling it with me. I love my Savior.

3 Ne 5:13

Elder West

To the family:

I’m sharing a blessing I got this week.
God knows what I need to do to be who I need to become. He knows how I feel. He loves me. As I am obedient and do all I can with learning the language I’ll be blessed tremendously. God knows my desires. My very strong desires. As I set goals and make plans he will support me in every aspect. He knows my desires to communicate, speak, teach, share thoughts, feelings, and all. He is so proud of me. Just like Dad. I was sent here to become who God needs me to become. I will have health and strength through my whole mission. As I lose myself in the work and do my best, my family will be taken care of. I don’t need to worry about that in anyway. They’ll be just like normal when I get back. The Lord will provide a way in all things.

I love you all so much.

Mom: thanks for updating me about Kevin and the family. I really appreciate your example to me. You have prepared me so much for my mission and for loving the people here. So many times I have doubts, or fears. And then I remember your counsel to me. I have a stripling warrior mother. I don’t doubt anything because I know you know it. I love you.

Dad: last week you told me you see me as a man now. That’s really all I could think about for a few days. That means the world to me. I love you so much. Thank you for the BYU updates. I need those. And yes, your disappointments sound familiar. More people listen to us than to you, but I’m hungry and putting on weight at the same time haha. I’m learning a lot out here. Thank you for your example. I’m humbled that I can help carry on the missionary legacy in our family. I want to help you complete your goal of this. I have remembered so much of your counsel and it has helped me. Thanks for always cleaning stuff. I’m like you in that sense out here. You’ve prepared me to be a man and mature for the mission. I love you.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Week 11: My p-day was cooler than yours

We went to Cerro Castillo! But it was super snowy and cloudy so we couldn´t see it but we visited some other cool places. Chile is beautiful. Sometimes it hits me so hard that I’m serving in Patagonia. #blessed

Elena (less active) and Evangelista (investigator) came to church! That’s huge because it is hard for us to get them to read or pray but at least they are starting to form an identity of themselves as church going people.

Hermana Isabel (less active) is basically active now which makes me so happy!

Jordana moved out but she will be baptized in Centro. I just know it.

Josaline cancelled a work trip so she could start going to church so she can be baptized. 

Victor Vargaz is a member that is just golden. He never fails us. He sacrifices so much. He just moved back to Osorno with his family. Happy for him but he was such a strength.

Jose is a recent convert with a heavy accent. He said something to me and I didn’t understand. We had him repeat it back slower, and it made it that much harder. Hilarious. Sometimes I feel so lost, but the language really is coming along. I can understand the direction of a conversation now. I can talk well enough, and I can teach. I may not speak perfectly but they understand. Yesterday I asked someone if they wanted me to close their gate, but I didn’t use subjunctive, so it literally translated to "do you want to close me?" ha-ha. I laugh at myself sometimes. 

I´m so happy. I´ve never been happier. I´m growing more and more focused on the people we are helping, and that just makes me so much more happy.
Missions are awesome because of that.

Someone said they were stressed and I told them "I just pray for patience, eat manjar, and everything works itself out." Elder Ryan and Peterson thought that was funny. I was half joking.

Our zone leaders that we live with (Elder Bustamante and Peterson) have a ringtone for when president Obeso calls. It is O Fortuna. Which is that dramatic doomsday choir song. They’re like "OH NO, its President!" when it goes off and I die laughing.

The weather here is a lot like Utah, it’s alright and then it’s snowing the next. The stars here are BEAUTIFUL. There’s not really any light pollution and they are so clear.

I´m kind of like the mom of the house here. I always do everyone’s dishes. :)

It hit me so hard that I´m almost 19. I forgot about my age.

The other night elder Bustamante and I sang hymns and played the guitar and I harmonized. I haven’t felt more relaxed on my mission. I love singing.

For the day of world service the church had on the 12th, we did all of the yard work for a health clinic here.

The other day the spirit comforted me because I was frustrated with the language. It basically boiled down to "Jacob, you don’t need to speak Spanish in order to walk, serve, knock doors, eat, exercise, get ready, love people, study, prepare for lessons, plan, or really anything. And when you need to speak in lessons, you´re blessed with the gift of tongues." That comforted me. Also Ether 12 vs 37 when it says “you have been faithful, therefore your garments shall be made clean, and because you have seen your weakness, you will be strengthened." that hit me so hard in church when I read it. I know it is true.

I want to share with you Alma 32. Use it. I read the chapter with the desire and question of how can I have the faith to see people and myself change. I now have my answer. Take your righteous desires and questions to that chapter. 

I love you all! Please read your scriptures, pray every day, and go to church. 

Alma 38 vs 5

Elder West

Sent from a rented Chilean computer

[Explanatory note: Jacob and his companion sometimes get emails which have the “Sent from my IPhone” message at the bottom.  This is a humorous play on that message.]

Answers to Mom’s questions:
Breakfasts for me are rice, or egg sandwich, or oatmeal.
Thanks for the 200. I need to pay for a district sweater, our trip to Cerro Castillo, and so I will use the money for that.
They have stuff like Pero here. We drink herbal tea or that stuff like Pero.
Our branch has 1500 members, but 40 come on average.
We haven’t found a house and the members say it’s dangerous to live alone. About 3 years ago an elder woke up with a guy on top of him trying to stab him. So that’s why we live together.
We buy food at Unimarc which is a small grocery store.
Please, please send meal ideas and also recopies that can be made fast and cheap. Thanks! love you.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Week 10: What a week

The 18th of September is coming up, and now there are almost as many Chilean flags as there are dogs, ha-ha. JK. President told us that we will still work on Sept. 18. Our sector is the most dangerous in the mission, and the 18th is always crazy. People die every year, and it´s dangerous after 6 pm. Please pray for our safety.

Last week we had no food, money, wood to burn, our washer broke, and a cold front came in. We were laughing at our circumstances. But we were alright.

A thing about Chile: fungus. Foot fungus is bad here. We NEVER let our feet touch the floor. Every morning we spray our feet with this stuff, and I rub vinegar on my feet.

Two days ago, I asked a man at his door what the purpose of life is. He said it was to work so we can earn money. So sad. We are so blessed to know that the purpose of this life is to experience joy and prepare to meet our Father in heaven. And we can do both at the same time too.

We knocked an antiguo investigador (former investigator) house and she opened the door and accepted a return appointment. As we left and the door shut we heard a scream. We were like, "huh?" Turns out she screamed because the missionaries came back. She has a baptism date for Oct. 3!  Before we came, she was reading praying and everything. She has a testimony!

Evangelista also has a baptismal date. The AP´s came and we had divisions with them. I was with elder Fotheringham. We taught the plan of salvation, began and ended with a hymn, taught with great power, and gave him a priesthood blessing. He wasn't someone who I thought would change. But he accepted a baptismal date for Oct. 3. That was the most powerful lesson I've been in. Elder Fotheringham in the lesson STOOD UP like in the John Tanner story, and asked him if he wanted a blessing. I felt like I was in a movie. So powerful. We took a picture with them after. Evangelista has his gaucho hat on.

The language is coming slow and steady. Some days I can understand a lot, and then others feel just like day one in the field. Thank you for your prayers. I am progressing.

Yesterday we knocked a door of a menos activo (less active member) named Caesar. He let us in. I asked him to turn off the radio and if we could say a prayer and talk about his relationship with God. That was bold for me. Something I never would have done before the mission. I´m learning how to better apply the principals of how to begin teaching on page 177 in Preach My Gospel. We began. In our discussion with him he told us that he made a deal with his best friend. The deal was that whoever died first, the other had to visit them and tell them what it´s like. His friend died. One year later he had a dream. His friend visited him in this dream and told him only one thing. He said: "The only thing that is important in this life is Family." That was powerful. I testify of that too. Please strengthen your relationships within your families. Caesar also had a playboy bikini calendar on his wall which was distracting from the spirit a lot. There on the wall, Satan presented himself. In all his filth, degrading the sanctity of virtue and women. And it completely disgusted me. I couldn't leave without doing something. After our closing prayer I asked him if we could burn it in his wood burning stove right then. I felt filled with the Spirit and power. I don´t know how to describe it, but it felt like in that moment it was me and Jesus Christ and the power of the priesthood, against Satan. Caesar accepted and burned it immediately. Great experience.

One thing the Lord is showing me a lot of is what I want my future family to be like, and the importance of the family, and living our covenants together as families. I have a story for this. We just made rolls with a great hermana in the ward. Her husband is less active and is way chill with us, but he doesn't give us anything when we try to talk about the church. We made rolls with them to try to build relationships, but her husband just watched soccer and a violent show after. Her children don´t want to participate in the church either. But this hermana is completely golden. We left feeling crummy because she is so good, and her situation is so bad. She told us she just needs more patience. Then we went to Hermano Victor Vargaz. He is awesome. He is so faithful in going to appointments with us. We were in his home with an extremely faithful family that just moved into our branch. We could feel the Spirit in their home. As we talked and sat there, the Spirit just worked me over. I know what I want in my family. I know what God has for us as families is the best. There is great power in a home where the gospel is taught and covenants are kept, and scriptures are read, and when there is love at home. Mom and Dad, thank you for always creating a home environment like this. I love you. 

We are truly representatives of Jesus Christ. And people treat us like Him. Really good and really bad. So many times I feel shoulder to shoulder with the great missionaries in the scriptures. 

One thing we work super hard for with every investigator is reading, praying, and going to church. If they are doing those things then they progress. If you aren't doing those things, please change. And start now. There is great happiness for you if you do them. And spiritual safety. 

I testify that this is God´s work. I love you all.
Elder West

Sent from a rented Chilean computer.

Elders West & Fotheringham with Evangelista.

Elders West & Ryan in Coyhaique

Elders West & Ryan in Coyhaique

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Week 9: Desires and Houses

Thank you for your prayers this week. I could feel them. Especially after I sent the email last week.
There is a girl in our branch that looks so much like Camille Swenson. I did a double take.
In Chile, they pause for a breath between “Christ” and “amen” in their prayers. It is becoming a habit for me.
Dogs: Last week I said I heard dogs are like cats here. Now I have a testimony of it. I saw a German shepherd jump a fence as tall as I am 4 times in a row just cuz, and I’ve seen a lot of dogs on top of fences.  There is a dog that barks super mean at us every time we pass and he sounds straight up evil. I call him Judas.
It is getting warmer. It is becoming spring.
Elder Ryan and I are house shopping for a casa in our sector. It´s funny how just two months ago I still had to ask for permission to use the bathroom [at school] and stay out past midnight.... and now I’m house shopping in southern Chile. Haha. #growth
Yesterday we also found a guy whose grandpa is from Ireland. He looked, laughed, was as tall as, and spoke Spanish like and Irish guy would. His last name was the same as my companion´s. So cool. They bonded really fast and we are going to help him back to activity in the church.
I´ve really worked on my focus on the work this week and my desires. I poured out my soul to our Father in Heaven. I’m giving him my desires. After doing this, I’ve seen a change in my happiness. EVERYTHING we have is God´s. He has given us everything. The only thing that He doesn´t have is our agency, our desires. That is the only thing we have. When we give our desires to Him, we are giving Him EVERTHING. I encourage you all to align your wills with His will for you. Give Him your desires. It changes your life. And in the end, it is the easiest path to follow.
I´ve seen this be true for me this week. Yesterday we had a lesson with Pamela, a less active member. She knows that she needs to be praying, reading, and going to church, but she isn´t. She always feels tired. Her family situation isn´t happy. We taught her what we needed to. I shared John 14:21 and how if we want to feel God´s love in our life we need to keep His commandments. God totally helped me with my Spanish during that time. It was a miracle. We left as her family was scrambling out the door to leave somewhere. They were chippy with each other, the spirit wasn´t in their home. As we walked to our next cita I started to cry. Because I wanted her to read so bad, and I knew what blessings she could receive, and I felt so grateful for my family and that they are living the Gospel. Those were Godly tears for her. God has blessed me with the desires for his children that I have been praying for.
I love you all. I have taken immense comfort in the fact that I am sealed to my family for time and all eternity. I feel that covenant so much stronger as I am here on the other side of the world. I love you all.
Your faithful missionary,
Elder West

To the family:
Things are getting better. My Spanish is too. I can now understand what people are talking about most of the time, but I don´t know specifics, only the subject. I love you all.
Family home evenings are huge. Please make them a priority, the whole night. With games , food, lessons and time together away from technology. Everyone here in Chile is glued to a screen. And it’s sad to see them not interacting. I regret my screen time before my mission and how it kept me away from time I could have had with the family. I love you all.
Elder West

View of the mountains, the town, and a basketball court

At the home of a man they met this past week