Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Baptismal interview and cambios

Benjamin and Catalina

This has been a full week. As always I’ll start with the less spiritual and then progress from there on.
Last pday I cooked Reece’s, rice, and hot fudge sauce. One of my more relaxing pdays. This one has been polar opposite, haha. We have walked all day around town so Elder Weech can say bye to the members here. He is leaving for Osorno to participate in all of the activities with the missionaries who are ending. And because he extended his mission he will serve 2 weeks in La Union.
Cambios: in Quellón there are 4 missionaries. In the mission our numbers have lowered from 200 to 190, so they have had to close some sectors. They are combining the two sectors here. Elder Weech and Elder Linton are leaving. Me and Elder Torres will stay here and hold down the fort. When we found that out, we were too amped. I love Elder Torrez. During my 2 week intercambio/sobrecambio in Coyhaique with Puerto Cisnes, we changed companions. I also was able to work with him one pday in Coyhaique, and we have lived here in the same house this cambio. He is super funny and we get along too great. Really going to enjoy this cambio. We will see a lot of baptisms here. Legit though. He works so hard and is obedient. I have been blessed to have Elder Weech as my companion. He has taught me so much about working through the members and references. And it was during this cambio that I arrived to feel like a real missionary. I know now more about my purpose and how to do it. The life of a missionary feels more normal now, kind of like it did in high school. Love Elder Weech. He has done so much for the rama [branch] here.
During this week, we were in Castro. I bought a milcao. A milcao is basically mashed potatoes in a huge ball and then fried. Apparently, it is the specialty of Chiloe. So I ate one. First bite felt like a really fat McDonald French fry. Afterwards, I wanted to throw up because of all the grease. Didn’t feel normal the rest of the day, haha. Also in Castro we saw a worldwide missionary capacitacion [training] from SLC. Super good. Cool to see all the missionaries in Utah with their iPads, dry-cleaned suits, padded chairs, talking about past baptisms, and speaking English, hahah. And then us. jk. Totally jk. Well at least about the baptisms part because there are some here.
This week Elder Weech and I made a document for Catalina’s parents to sign giving permission for a baptismal interview. It might become an official mission document because our mission doesn’t have one. We made it on the fly!
After making that document, it was already late and we had like 15 minutes before going to the house. So we knocked the nearest less active’s door just to pass the time. We are just two young punks but the Lord blessed us with a cita with the less active’s daughter and her nonmember boyfriend. Totally God´s work.
Yesterday, we had an asado with Pres. Ojeda and today we ate lunch with him. His confidence in us is building.

There was some contention between some missionaries in our house, so Elder Weech and I made crepes and chocolate sauce for breakfast. Everyone is now best friends. Service works wonders.
I taught 20 minutes in district meeting. Super fun. We talked about goals.
Tonight we have a noche de hogar with Hno. Antonio and Hna. Jacklyn who live in the "kind of campo." We had an asado with them on Christmas. We are going to wash their 10 massive pigs, woot woot!
A few weeks ago, I mentioned that we set a cita with a guy and he turned out to be a preacher so we didn’t go to the cita. Well this week we were talking with Hno. Dias in his carniceria (meat store) and the preacher walks in. Once we saw him, we both thought "oh crud". But Elder Weech actually said it out loud. Haha. I tried not to laugh. He told us we failed the cita and that only men fail so we aren’t of God.  I said a silent prayer in my heart. No idea what to do. I was direct with him and told him we are here to baptize and he probably won’t want to be baptized so he isn’t in our focus. I stood as tall as I could. Being 6ft 4 sometimes doesn’t hurt. :) Then I thanked him for all the good he does in the community and how he helps people. That threw us onto "good vibes" territory, but it was still tense. We told him we had to go so he left.  I guess I tell this story to explain that God put words into my mouth that were not my own to protect the name of the Church and the work of salvation here in Quellón.
This week, I was talking with an elder. He was burdened with stress because of his leadership position. He told me that he is a horrible leader. That in every calling he has had (teachers quorum president and stuff like that), no one has ever wanted to follow him. The guy before him and the guy after him, the people follow, but never him. He tore himself apart in front of me. His thoughts were obviously not coming from the Spirit. I said another payer in my heart during the silence that followed to know what to say. I had no idea but I just opened my mouth. Again, God put words into my mouth. It is a special feeling as they come out. I told him of a blessing my dad had given me where he said that "a leader is just a good disciple of Jesus Christ." I explained to this elder that all he has ever done is try his best, he has never tried to do what’s wrong. He has only had good desires. As I spoke, I watched his eyes change. They softened, and I could see the Spirit working on him. His eyes filled with tears and he hugged and thanked me. Special experience sitting in a bus terminal.
CATALINA: we just barely said bye to them. They left for Santiago. Here is the situation. We went with Hno. Díaz to a cita this week. Her dad (Hno. Mario) answered the door, and we talked with him for several minutes. That is amazing because Hno. Mario has been pretty closed off. In a cita with Catalina, we did a practice baptismal interview. I asked the questions. That girl has a powerful testimony. I felt the Spirit so strong. What joy! The next day, she passed her interview with Elder Vega, our zone leader. He told me he wanted to cry during the interview as she told him of a spiritual experience she had. After the interview, we went to their house to have Hno. Mario sign the baptismal registro to give his permission. He did it! And then we talked for 30 minutes after. HUGE.  He is a pretty cool guy. In church on Sunday, we set a cita with Claudia and she invited the other elders too. That night, we cooked arroz con leche. Elder Torres, not knowing the situation with Hno. Mario, asked if he would join us because he was hiding in his room like normal. Claudia asked him and Hno. Mario came in!!! That whole night he talked with the four of us and we all laughed and had a great time with the family. The family is Benjamin, Catalina, Hno. Mario, and Hna. Claudia. I felt like I was with my own family. Bliss. It has been a complete miracle seeing Hno. Mario open himself up to us this week because in the beginning he wouldn’t even let the missionaries in the house. With time, he will come back to church and they will get sealed in the temple. I’m so humbled to take part in the conversion process of Catalina, reactivating Hna. Claudia, and just becoming a part of their family. Catalina will be baptized Feb 6 and confirmed the day after.
This week I started to read Jesus the Christ. That book blows my mind, and rocks me with the Spirit. I love it. It has helped me a lot.

Elder West
Doctrine and Covenants 100:15

Baptismal font that will soon be filled. We cleaned it and there were spider webs. It has been too long since there has been a baptism

Monday, January 18, 2016

House rest lifted

A Chilote house (on stilts)

Mis queridos!!!!!
So Tuesday the house rest was lifted and we have been able to work normally now. Elder Weech feels better because he is taking some medication to help with the pain. They said he has "calculos" which could be kidney stones. But we don’t know.
We went to Punta Lapas this week. It is the end of the Pan-American Highway. Super cool. Reminded me a lot of the Oregon coast- windy, cold, water, beautiful, salt smell.
Punta Lapas

I had an intercambio with my zone leader Elder Hughes. He is from Nevada. He is taller than I am. We ate completos for lunch, then worked hard. We gave two baptismal invitations, but they weren´t accepted. That’s ok. We did our part. During the intercambio, an hermano named Ronald worked with us. He works in Líder and called us to see if he could work with us even though it was his only day off in the week. Golden.
A few days ago, we passed by Hno Antonio y Hna Jacklyn to visit them. That’s the family we ate an asado with on Christmas. They live on the top of a forever long hill and have a ton of massive pigs. As we were climbing the hill, we could hear pig shrieks. When we got to the house, the hermanas told us to go to the pig barn. The familia Fernandez had just come, and they butchered a pig. We all grabbed a leg and carried it to the car so the familia Fernandez could take it home. Super heavy pig.
The other day, a guy in the street said hi to us. He looked a little too happy. We were waiting for someone to come to a cita with us. After a few minutes, the guy came back and started talking to us. I’ve learned in my mission that if someone wants to talk with you, and not the other way around, it often means they are either drunk or a pastor. He turned out to be the second. He kept pulling out all of these "examples" to help him make a point which he wasn’t doing very well, and he kept telling us parables from the Bible. Elder Weech talked with him. I said hi to people as they passed. The pastor asked me the answer to a parable. I remembered the answer because Dad had talked to me about that same parable a while back. Whipped out the right answer.
This week, I asked Elder Weech for a priesthood blessing because I have been feeling a lot of stress. It helped. Mom, Dad, Uncle Josh, your advice in letters helped me out a ton this week. I’ve made little cards to carry around with me that give ideas on how to deal with stress. That way I always have a resource with me. I’m marking up my scriptures so I have something to read also. The mission is really helping me out with stress. I’ll return super chill :)
Yesterday, we taught Hna Jacklyn and Antonio about preserving to the end. We set up a noche de hogar with them. We are going to bathe their pigs!!! While teaching them, I realized that I absolutely love these people. They are so humble and have such good desires. I love them.
Catalina leaves Santiago on the 24th. We taught her the plan of salvation this week. And during the lesson, she stopped us and told us that she got an answer to her prayer about joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. She said it was a warm feeling that felt good. Her mom started to cry. Tender moment. I couldn’t stop smiling. While teaching the plan of salvation, Claudia realized the importance of the fall of Adam and Eve. It was cool to see that light bulb go on. Tonight, we have a noche de hogar with Hna Jacklyn, Hno Antonio, the family of Pres. Ojeda, and Claudia, Catalina, and Benjamin. We are going to teach the ten commandments. Later this week, we will complete her teaching. She could honestly get baptized this weekend, but we will wait until after her surgery. But I think she will get her baptismal interview this week. So grateful to witness the conversion process of this beautiful family. Catalina has been reading and praying daily and going to church. She is so good!
Until next week,

Elder West

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Que tal mis compadres?!

This week, I changed my exercises. They are harder now. Tuesday morning I drank too much water before and during my exercises and then felt sick. Haha. Go hard :)
Claudia and Catalina are going to Puerto Montt this week for a doctor appointment. We are feeding their cats. But their house is at the end of a road full of possessed dogs. They all hate us, and there are, no joke, like 13. Once we get past them we have to go through a gate and 3 more dogs. One is nice. One is small and mean. And the other is black and big. It is a touchy situation. The nice one jumps at you because he is glad you’re there, the small mean one tries to bite you, and the big black one gets right up in your grill. With him, it is weird. It is like pet or get bitten. And it has an ugly snotty nose, it is dirty, mangy, and has flea holes in its fur. Pet or get bitten. Don’t look, just pet. And then gag :)
I had an intercambio with Elder Linton this week. He is from Wyoming, has a year in the mission, played soccer and worked construction. He is a good missionary. We worked all day long and didn´t teach a soul. So tired. I hurt everywhere. But I was happy. I felt we should knock a house and we found a former investigator. We made other great contacts. To end the day, we were tracting by the beach front. We stopped for 30 minutes and took pictures and just watched the ocean because it was a really long day. Then on our way home, we ran into a family from Argentina vacationing here. Their accent was thick and I felt like I hadn’t learned Spanish for a bit. Also with Elder Linton, we were in the church checking for references on the internet. A guy knocked. We looked at each other, then answered the door. He was an inactive member, 25 years old. He asked us for a plan of salvation pamphlet. Then he asked us if we could teach him the lesson because he had forgotten it all. WOW. Not a coincidence that he walked by the church and knocked at that exact time. To add to it, I had just finished making lesson 2 diagrams to help teach visually the night before. I used them to help.
The next day, we went to the doctor because Elder Weech was in a lot of pain. The nurse put us under house rest for 5 days, but we could still leave and teach citas.
The daily verifications in our mission have changed. They are more focused on helping our investigatores progress towards baptism, and on the wellbeing of the missionaries. Yesterday, the mission fasted together for a 100 baptisms in a month. That is the mission goal this year. 100 baptisms in a month. That is basically one every companionship. Last month we had 40ish.
The situation with a girl we are teaching: Her baptismal date is for Feb 6. We need about 6 citas with her in 2 weeks to teach her everything, and she needs to complete all of her compromisos. To this point it has gone great. But her dad, who is inactive, seems against the church. He took her to the beach when we had a scheduled cita. Don’t know if that was on purpose or not. We need his written permission for her to be baptized. She will go to Santiago in 3 weeks for a surgery. She will come back and needs to have her baptismal interview soon. Glad I have Elder Weech guiding us through this. We are doing our best to use the members to help open up her dad. We are doing our part and trusting the rest to the Lord. We don’t want a baptism. We want a happy active family that will help this girl in her conversion for the rest of her life.
We taught a man and his pareja the other day. We taught the law of chastity. We found out he is leaving for a month to visit family so his fecha will fall. But we will still be working with them. During the lesson we were able to ask inspired questions. I felt the Spirit really strong. They are hesitant to get married. They didn’t accept a date to be married, but they said they would think about it. I know they felt the truth of our testimonies and what we taught.  We worked and worked to get them to accept a date for marriage but wouldn’t. Just then the neighbors started booming ¨knock, knock, knocking on heaven’s door¨ by guns and roses. I smiled to myself. Super true. These people are so close. Tyler Anderson also came to my mind.
Elder Weech is in a lot of pain. Right before we taught the law of chastity lesson, he asked me what we were teaching when we had just talked about that like a minute before. He is improving, but I took the lead in that lesson.
I gave a talk yesterday on sacrifice. I did my best so I know God will make up the lack of my Spanish ability and help someone. I felt the Spirit as I gave my testimony. Afterwards, I was feeling down and self-conscious about my Spanish. In the second hour class, I read Doctrine and Covenants section 100. It calmed me down. Verse 1 comforted me about my family. Verses 12-13 and 15 helped me a lot too. I know God loves me and is helping me.
I love this work. I know God is real. I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I know Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. And I know the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the restored church that Jesus Christ himself established when he was on the earth. I know it is true. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder West

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Rocking 2016’s world!

I’ll start irreverent and then make it spiritual.
New Year’s and alcohol; wooooooooooot! Story time: within 5 minutes of leaving our house we had passed two groups of drunks. I saw a guy stacking crates of beer head high. People were walking down the streets with bags full of 12 packs of beer. Drunks who live by us had a Christmas tree outside COVERED in beer can ornaments and nothing more. They screamed rookie English at us. No kidding: on New Year’s, the drunks walked the streets like zombies. Some were passed out, others curled up in balls, others were doing the zombie street shuffle, some were moaning, some were quiet, some were shrieking. World war z. I’m not in Utah.
I now have 6 months in the mission, and the burnt orange ocean sunsets with docked boats and lush green grass are beautiful.
In a contact, I opened a person’s walnut with my teeth for her, haha. We also set a cita with a dude. Turns out he was a pastor. We barely avoided that trap. It has rained exactly on every p-day I have had here, haha. Last week, I was trunky after skype. But after a few days of hard work, it left for good.
The other day, we met a guy named Jorge in the street. He just came to Quellòn with only the clothes on his back trying to find work. We taught him lesson one in the street. Humble guy. We asked another contact (turned out to be a member from Castro) for a reference and she gave us 5! I can’t remember if I said, but Silvia went to Valdivia for vacations so her baptismal fecha [date] fell through.
We visited an inactive person as a reference from a member. She didn’t want anything and it was a little contentious. I felt to ask if we could say a prayer and if there was anything she would like us to pray for. I prayed for her family. After the spirit was there and we left as friends.
As we were walking home, we passed a bus stop. There was a guy. I saw him and felt I should talk to him but we were ending the day. We passed him by. I looked back and saw he was watching us walk away. I told Elder Weech we needed to go back and he said he had the prompting to talk to him too. We went back. He didn’t want anything. But we still talked with him. He was having a hard financial time and had a crummy Christmas. He looked super down in the dumps. I don’t know why, but I was worried he would take his life. We testified of God’s love for him. I felt the Spirit. We left him with a pass along card. Great experience.
We were teaching a less active family with a returned missionary member. Elder Weech and he were doing most of the talking because it wasn’t a planned situation and I was mostly quiet. Earlier that morning, I prayed and asked God to fill my mouth so that we could bless His children. I felt to share something. I shared Mosiah 2:41 and testified of the blessings of returning to church and my testimony of the temple and how much I miss it. I felt the Spirit super strong.
In our lesson with two investigators who are living together, we were teaching the law of chastity. Attacking the need. She wanted to be married because she has a strong catholic background. He didn’t see the point. We knelt with them to pray. They both took their own turn and offered a prayer out loud. During his prayer, I had the thought come to me to share my experience of running for student council and how I made that decision. After, I shared with them that I was considering running for class president back in high school, and it was a big deal to me. So I took it to God and the scriptures. I read Moroni 7 which President Packer nicknamed "the chapter of decisions." I shared that after writing down pros and cons, and praying, and then reading that chapter, the Spirit powerfully testified to me that it was God’s will to run. And it all ended out well in the end. Being class president was a great blessing. I left them with the commitment to do the same. God gives us personal experiences to help others. The gospel has real application in our lives.
Two days ago, we were knocking doors. It was pouring rain. We had had no success. We said a prayer and told God we were going to knock this whole street, and from that, we wanted 3 people to open their doors, and one person to accept a return cita. We prayed and expressed our love for the people of Chile and that we want to help them. Then we acted. In the end, 3 doors opened and one guy was OK if we came by later. Prayer answered. I know specific prayers are fulfilled.
Yesterday, we committed another person to a baptismal fecha.
Catalina and Claudia!!!! They came to church!! Claudia is the less active mom and Catalina is our 9 year old investigator. Claudia is dead serious about coming back. She is reading and praying and everything. In gospel principles class, she shared that it is scary coming back. But she does it because she knows it is right. She told her friends that she couldn’t do something with them because she had to go to church!! Catalina has a baptismal fecha of Feb 6. Last night we had a lesson. Catalina can draw so well and she made us Christmas presents. We gifted them candy. Claudia made us arroz con leche and chocolate. During the first vision part of the lesson, Claudia was crying. Powerful. I loved teaching Catalina. So fun. I felt like I was teaching my little siblings. We were laughing and learning. We have a family home evening with them tonight.
I love this gospel. Right now we are being blessed with more success. I love you all.

Elder West

Some more pics from Christmas