Monday, February 29, 2016


Family! Friends! Nicol got baptized!!!!!! And her family came from Puerto Montt!

But I’ll talk about that later. Today, we leave for Osorno for 2 days to start the process for companion’s second visa. We will be in a bus all day today, and all day tomorrow. But I’m pumped to see more of Chile.

This week we were tracting and it was overcast, then within 30 minutes it just dumped rain on us. Soaked every part of our bodies. All of the pass along cards and baptismal invitations I had with me were destroyed. But by the end of the day my pants had dried off so it works out in the end.

Wild blackberries are all over the place. On the sides of the roads too. We have been eating them like crazy.

Some humorous stories: 

There is a funny menos active who is a little confused. He smokes, so we read 1Corinthians 3:16-17 about how our body is a temple.
Us: “Based on what we have read, how can we keep care of our bodies?”
Him: “We can wear clothes so we don’t get cold. Eat.”
Us: “Good, what other ways are there?”
Him: “Don’t wear makeup. God doesn’t want us to do that.”
Us (trying not to laugh): “Are there any OTHER ways??”
Him: ..... Us: “How about not smoking??”
Him: “Ooohhhhh thipo (ohhhhhh, yeah that’s right)”. 

A confused older lady we met-
Lady: “How are you two doing?”
Us: “Great, thank you.” 
Lady: “I like you guys. I like your religion. You do great things. I also like Jehova’s Witnesses, Catholics, and Evangelicals.”
Us: “Thank you very much! That’s great that you like religion so much and see the good it does.”
Lady: “But do you know who I HATE?”
Us: “Who?”
Lady: “I hate the Mormons.”
Us: “But mam we are Mormons.”
Lady: “No no, you guys are great. But I hate the Mormons.”
Us, after several attempts: “Have a great day!”

Hope you enjoyed that. This week has gone well. This week we had a broadcast in Castro for the missionaries by Elder Bednar. He was in Argentina. It went super well. I received a lot of help from the Spirit. I received comfort for members of my family who are less active or non-members. I felt God is very happy with what I am doing, and I felt an overwhelming calm about the work. The Lord will hasten His work in His own time. I just have to do my part. My absence is helping my family more than my presence. 

During district council we did a practice. We knocked a door, got in, and started to begin teaching. The Spirit hit me with an overwhelming prompting to testify of Christ. But this is just a practice in district council! I thought promptings like this only come in real lessons! But I bore my testimony, and the Spirit was strong. Later that day, we did a street contact. Instead of using the pass along cards and other contacting methods, I just bore my testimony of Jesus Christ to these people right off the bat. I felt the Spirit. The couple didn’t accept our invitation, but I’m doing my part as a representative of Jesus Christ.

Two investigators came to the mission activity on Friday! There were 3 investigators and 3 members, but it went great. Nicol bore her testimony to them, said they should keep investigating, and that they should come to her baptism on Saturday. They came! It has been a little tricky with them. They are 16 and 17 years old. They are off and on. Right when we are about to drop, them they progress rapidly. And the cycle repeats. But they are progressing. 

With a couple we are teaching, their baptismal date is for the 26th of March. They are still working for an answer. They have such great faith. They are a MARRIED couple (that’s rare) with 2 daughters ages 7 and 5 that remind me a lot of my little sister Rebecca. We had dinner with them last night. They are from Temuco. The husband works here in the pesquera (fish factory). His wife is going back to Temuco but is praying for guidance if she should stay or should she should go. They are looking to rent their own house here. Right now they are living with members. That is how we got their reference. The husband has a powerful testimony of prayer, and is praying for guidance in this decision. He told us that he doesn’t believe moving here, living with a Mormon family, and then coming into contact with us as missionaries is a coincidence. Such a great family.

Nicol was baptized on Saturday by Elder Torres. On Sunday, I confirmed her a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and conferred to her the gift of the Holy Ghost. People always look different after their baptism and when they receive the Holy Ghost. There is a light in them. It is noticeable. As missionaries we notice it even more because we interact with every kind of person. Nicol, after her baptism bore here testimony. She said it has been hard. Really hard. And that God has let her struggle through the whole process. But that has made her stronger. She had prayed every night asking God if this is the decision that he wants her to take. She even prayed the night before, seeking a confirmation to her answer. She testified that because of her decision 1,000 problems came. But for every problem, there were 10,000 answers and help. Powerful testimony. She wants to serve a mission but hasn’t taken the decision yet. The poor girl was so scared at the baptism, she was rigid. It took her 3 attempts before she was baptized properly. Elder Torres told her to say a prayer in her heart and then let her feet leave the floor. That was the time that it worked. She has such great faith.

In the broadcast with Elder Bednar, he talked a lot about praying with faith. We do that by telling God our plans, what we want to accomplish, and then asking for His help and blessings as we act. I put that to the test this week. One morning I woke up, still dead tired, and I didn’t want to do exercises. But I wanted to be obedient. I said a prayer and told God I would begin the process of getting ready, and I would do the exercises because I wanted to be obedient. But I asked Him to bless me with the energy to do them as I acted. The energy came! The motivation came! I know God answers our prayers. Yesterday, Elder Torres and I offered the same prayer. We were exhausted and didn’t want to work. But we told God we were going to work anyways, and that we wanted Him to bless us with the strength to walk the rest of the day, and energy to do the work. And it came. Test this out. I know God answers our prayers.

While we taught the gospel principles class about the fall of Adam and Eve, I thought about how this story applies to us. The Spirit testified that just like with Adam and Eve. We make mistakes. We will sin. But God has a plan for us. And even when we fall, He can still make the best out of things, even bring us great blessings as we repent. Just like Brother Wagner used to say in seminary, "God has our goofs worked into His plan for us." 

I love you guys.

Elder West

Monday, February 22, 2016

Another good week

Yesterday we did a door contact and the guy accepted an appointment and gave us two references. Wow.
On Saturday the branch had an asado in the campo (countryside?), we got permission to go! 

While there Hno. Felipe (his dad owns the campo) took us to a super pretty river, we ate wild apples on the way, and he also showed us some wild berries that taste like black licorice. 

After we went back to Quellon for Nicol`s baptismal interview, and she passed it with flying colors and impressed Elder Bliss a lot. She will be baptized this Saturday Feb 27. Happy birthday Rebecca.

Elder Torres’ plan A [his old girlfriend at home in Peru] got married this week, so we’ve been laughing about our circumstances this week.

I had an intercambio with Elder Ramer this week. He has 3 weeks in the mission. I learned a lot from him, his enthusiasm, and sincerity. I love that. All of the new missionaries are super good and bear powerful testimonies. We did 12 semanas (training) and then taught a family (Eliacer and Nivia) that are renting a room from the Familia Fernandez. They had 2 family home evenings and saw the restoration video and have been asking lots of questions. We gave them the restoration lesson. We were in the living room. There was a curtain dividing us from the kitchen where the Familia Fernandez were eating dinner, making bread, and cutting tons of onions for empanadas. We bore testimony. The Spirit was strong. All of our eyes are watering, and then Nivia bursts into tears and I got super pumped because I knew she was feeling the Spirit. She looks me directly in the eyes and tells me, "These onions are making me cry." the whole situation was super funny. We were crying because of onions, but also because of the Spirit.

We made a contact with a guy named Nacho. He is super funny and receptive. He said he was catholic, but was very open, so we were pumped to commit him to baptism. Then he told us he was also baptized, Mormon. That happens a lot here in Chile. With my first baptismal invitation in the mission, the guy turned out to be a less active. Anyway, we are helping Nacho stop smoking and come back to church. He gave us a reference to pass by a friend of his. We contacted the guy and passed by a day later. He wasn’t home. But on our way to a different contact, we saw him on the other side of a busy street. We said hi. He waved back, obviously drunk, and then crossed the road like he was the only person in the world. We screamed in horror thinking he was about to get levelled by the oncoming traffic. But he made it. He was carrying lots of rope, and we asked him why. He told us he was looking for his lost horses. Super funny.

Friday, we organized an activity to help the branch’s energy. We planned to share a message, then pass the rest of night with activities. We invited an investigator named Umberto. He came! Umberto is super sincere, timid, and intense when he talks. He has had a super hard life. We invited people to share their testimonies about prayer. UMBERTO WENT UP!!! Umberto also talks a lot so we were worried. He shared a lot about hard things that have happened to him in his life, and shared his life story. Everyone was QUIET. Umberto opened up a lot that night with the activities, said he felt very welcomed, and now feels comfortable going to church. So that is a huge step.
We are trying to help Umberto recognize that his dream about getting baptized by John the Baptist is an answer to his prayers. God still works miracles.

In that same activity, Catalina got up to share her testimony too. She testified about prayer. She said her dad didn’t want anything with the Church. When she was at the temple in Santiago with her mom and Benjamin, all they did was pray for her dad. Then she pointed at her dad, and said, "And now look. My dad is here. I know God answers prayers." Super powerful, the Spirit was very strong. The Familia Carrillo Lemus gave a big hug after. Later Hno. Mario told us he chose to come back because he has a testimony of the Church, and Catalina’s baptism helped. Wow. Miracles.

The commitment for district council this week was to take a scripture from our lesson one outlines and make a plan on what questions we will use with it to help out teachings. I chose Galatians 5:22-23 for recognizing the Spirit. I remember the first person to show me this scripture was Dad. Anyway, I applied it last night in our lesson with Eliacer and Nivia. It went so well. Asking them questions that helped them apply the scripture brought the Spirit. We were able to involve Nivia more and help her recognize the Spirit. Eliacer accepted the 26 of March as a baptismal date. Nivia will move to Temuco in a week, but we are going to send the missionaries to her.

I know God hears and answers our prayers. I was studying today to receive an answer to a question I have. When we turn to God, prayer, the scriptures, and action, God blesses us with guidance. I know that is true.

Elder West

Also Elder Weech visited this week.

Monday, February 15, 2016

A super-duper week

Rain --again

So this week there has been a clown in the main street of Quellon that has been selling pig balloons. He also screams at people and then does a Joker laugh. He got the people in front of us and it took me a few minutes to relax. Hate clowns.
We finally got a new iron!! To iron, we were putting the broken one we have over the gas burners on the stove to heat it up. Very inefficient.
I tried to make an Asian stir fry this week. I tried making a soy sauce I saw Elder Watson do: 50% peanut butter and 50% soy sauce. It was horrible. After gagging half of it down, I threw the rest away.
Snap, I’m writing this email super slow in horrible English because Spanish is taking away my native language. I forgot how to say "organization" this week in English.
We cut 4 cubic meters of wood for service.
We talked to a youth in the ward. He said in 2 weeks he has read up into Alma. We were impressed. Then he said he has to read to music to be focused. When I asked him what kind of music he listens to, he told me Wiz Khalifa. I died laughing. The kid was dead serious.
This week, we had a dinner with the family Carrillo Lemus. We ate papas lawancquillina or something like that. Elder Torres cooked it. They made ceviche (crab salad). Seated at the table with 6 people eating DINNER (that hasn’t happened in a while) made me feel like I was with my own family. Haven’t felt that chill in a while. HNO MARIO CAME TO CHURCH!!! TEMPLE! TEMPLE! TEMPLE! TEMPLE!
We passed by Mattias this week. His grandma met us outside and told us he doesn’t want to meet with us anymore. We asked if we could talk to Mattias instead. When we met with him, he confirmed what his grandma said. He said he wants to devote time to studying, family, and other things, and doesn’t want to be limited by what we can’t do. We asked questions and listened sincerely. Turns out he had heard and read some pretty whacked out stuff and we were able to respond to those doubts, answer some questions he had, and then watch the restoration video. Helped him out.
In district council this week, Elder Bliss bore a powerful testimony. I had been feeling lukewarm for a while. That sparked the Spirit in me and confirmed my testimony of the restoration. The next day, I bore that same testimony to Nicol, and I felt the Spirit very strong. The day after that Moises told us he doesn’t believe in what we do, and whipped out some scriptures from the Bible. I didn’t know what to do, or how to respond. But I did know that what I have a testimony about is true. So I bore my testimony. My point is that bearing your testimony has a powerful domino effect. Elder Bliss´ testimony this week helped me throughout the week. Please bear your testimonies.
Yesterday, we were talking with a youth. Something happened in the conversation, and then Elder Torres and the kid burst out laughing. I didn’t understand and thought I said something that was interpreted inappropriately (happens a lot), or that they were laughing at my Spanish (neither of the two). Later we were walking to the church, and a group of 3 teenagers were screaming English words and sentences at me, mocking me. That happens a lot, and it takes a lot to ignore and keep walking. They followed us for about a minute. Elder Torres had it and whipped around and did a contact with them and told them they could practice English with me if they wanted. I felt dumb. I had had it. We got to the chapel and while Elder Torres was in the bathroom, I prayed on my knees and cried like crazy. Sometimes it is super frustrating with the language. I want to build relationships, help others, teach and have others understand, and express myself. Sometimes I feel like the ability to express myself is completely taken away from me, even in prayer because I can’t say everything I want to, and it is such a habit to pray in Spanish that it is now difficult to pray in English. I felt the Spirit confirm to me that God was pleased with me. God knows what He is doing. Tender mercy.
After district meeting this week, I was also feeling overwhelmed on the bus ride home. I was stressed, and struggling with my weaknesses, and trying to be focused on the work. I prayed. I had the strongest feeling come over me that in that exact moment my dad was praying for me. I felt his prayer for me. It helped me.
I know God hears and answers prayers, and our testimonies have a powerful impact on others.

Elder West

Wearing out the soles of his shoes
worn out insoles

Monday, February 8, 2016


This week we traveled to Castro twice. Once for district council and again for zone council. There are three new elders being trained in the zone. One is from Hawaii, and we have clicked super well. Once he found out I have 7 months in the mission, he asked me how it felt. Why are you asking me?!?! Haha. Ask the other dude who has 1 cambio left! I feel for the new elders so much because the beginning of my mission was the hardest time of my life. Just like it is for everyone else.
We are working with Richard and Paula. We are helping Paula get divorced with a former husband so she can get married to Richard. Richard is investigating. He came to church yesterday. And in the gospel principles class, he said he wants his 4 year old son to serve a mission!!! Richard wants to be baptized. We are helping him stop smoking. The only downer is the process with the lawyers to get them divorced takes time and we don’t have any control over that so we can’t put him with fecha. But he is so good!
We are helping Luis and Julia get married. Julia is the investigator. She has prayed about marriage and is waiting on an answer. Luis wants to straight up get married. Yyyyyeeeeeeaaaaaahhhhhh buddy!
This week we passed by a member of our branch. She is a widow. We cut her wood every 3 days. She is 84. We talked with her for a while this time. She told us that she is struggling with depression, she misses her husband, her son is a drunk that gets angry fast and she does everything for him (he is like a little kid). Her daughter left the house and her mom with lots of bills and debt to pay off.  This sister can’t leave the house because of her health. We cut her wood, and then pulled out some chairs and shared something with her outside. Right when we ended, the rain started. Not a coincidence. It was so good to hear her testimony. She cherishes this gospel. Great lady, and I felt the Spirit super strong.
Yesterday we visited a less active. Her husband works in the sea, so he is gone a lot. She can’t read. Which means she can’t read the scriptures. She has a very complicated family situation, but we were able to share Doctrine and Covenants 100:15 to help her. She just needed someone to listen to her and read the scriptures with her. Such a blessing to be a missionary and do what Christ would.
Nicole is progressing well. Still going strong for the 27 of February for her baptismal fecha. She read the law of chastity, word of wisdom, and gospel of Jesus Christ pamphlets in one sitting!!!!!!!!!! No one reads ONE. And she read THREE, and all in the same day!! Crazy!! So prepared. She stopped drinking coffee when she heard it was wrong, even before we taught her. So she started drinking tea to replace that, haha. Once she found out about tea, she stopped drinking it in a heartbeat. Her evangelico parents are happy that she is getting baptized and support her decision. They will come down for her baptism from Puerto Montte.
On Friday, a man called us up and asked if he could come out and work with us. Turns out he is from Coyhaique. Turns out he was the zone leaders’ investigator. Turns out he was a guy Elder Lawton and I contacted!!! Crazy! We found him outside of our house. He has back problems and walks with a cane. He fell one day, and couldn’t get back up. His cane was out of reach, and dogs were biting him. Elder Lawton and I found him, and helped him up. As we were working, he said he knows the church is true. But he still isn’t married with his pareja, so he can’t get baptized. But way good guy. He helped us out Friday with citas and all of Saturday cleaning the church and filling the font.

The familia Carrillo-Lemus. LOVE THEM. This is a family I will never forget. This week we were with Hno Mario. HE ASKED US FOR THE SPIRITUAL THOUGHT!!  Then we talked about him going to the temple with his family. He committed to begin on that. Complete miracle. We gave him a form that the Church has that shows all of the steps to get to that point. The form is called the “hoja del templo”. The next cita with him, we planned a welcome home party for Catalina, Benjamin, and Claudia for when they go home from their travels. When they got home, we showed up an hour after. Hna Claudia told us that when they went to buy their bus tickets to Quellòn from Viña del Mar, there weren’t any until the 9th, 3 days after Catalina’s baptism. A few minutes later, she got a call saying that there were EXACTLY THREE SEATS AVAILABLE. When Catalina heard that, she told her mom that she had offered a prayer and asked Heavenly Father if he wanted her to get baptized on the 6th that He would give them seats home. Right after the prayer, 3 seats became available. Miracle. Anyway, we were with them in their house after they got home, and Hna Claudia told us that her inactive mom told her about how women aren’t appreciated in the church, how they are slaves to the men, they don’t have rights, and other ugly things. Claudia said a prayer. The next day they went to church and the bishop in Viña del Mar gave a lesson to the Relief Society about a talk from President Hinckley about the value of women in our lives. THE TALK WAS JUST FOR HER. Miracle. Anyhow, we are with them in their house talking. Catalina tries on the baptismal clothes and they fit perfect. Then we talk more. Then Elder Torres says, "Oh, Hno Mario isn’t there something that you wanted to show to Hna claudia? (wink wink, hint hint)." He then stands up, grabs the “hoja del templo”, hands it to Hna Claudia, and tells her that he wants to be sealed in the temple as a family. MIRACLE. She bursts into tears. The Spirit was so strong. I cried. I have never been more happy in my life.
The next day Catalina was baptized. Branch President Ojeda did it. Later that night, Hno Mario told Hna Claudia that he will come to church from now on and return to activity in the church. WWWHHHHHAAAAATTTT?!?!?! I can’t believe that we are seeing this miracle take place. I don’t deserve to be a part of this. But Heavenly Father is blessing me so much. I love this family with all of my heart.

The next day, I confirmed Catalina as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and gave her the gift of the Holy Ghost. A great experience.
I have no idea why I am being so blessed. This is a miracle. I am so grateful. Before my mission, I had a powerful experience where the Spirit told me there is a specific area that I need to serve in, and specific people I need to teach. I know that the familia Carrillo-Lemus is one of them.

Elder West

Monday, February 1, 2016

Estamos hecho polvopo!

This week has been ridiculous.
Monday we washed pigs. First we had to feed them. We dipped buckets into a vat of slop. Slop is water, and ANYTHING ELSE. For real. Rotten tomatoes, old french-fries, corn husks, mystery meat. Everything. Gagged when I saw it. We carried these buckets of slops to the pig pens to feed the beasts. While we are trying to pour it into their troughs the pigs were slamming their heads into the buckets so slop would fall. Sometimes more slop ended up on the pigs than in the troughs. I also now know what it means to eat like a pig. The pigs slammed their faces into the muck and made all kinds of noises. Once "the feeding" began, all the pigs started shrieking. Straight Jurassic Park. Never going to forget that.

My new companion is Elder Torres from Chiclayo, Peru. He is a straight bro! I haven’t laughed so hard my whole mission. Also, Elder Torres is obedient and kills himself working hard. We have seen a lot of success this week for our work and obedience. He is my first Latino companion. THE SPANISH NEVER STOPS. I have been getting humbled for that. But this kid is a rock star. He has about 10 months in the mission.
This week we were with a family. They let us in to teach. We chatted beforehand and laughed a lot because the grandma. Just the way she talks is super funny. She has died her hair red and says the most off colored things. Elder Torres asked if we could begin with a prayer, and she said "dèle no màs!”, which basically translates to "just give it already." We killed over laughing for about 5 minutes and after gaining composure we started the prayer. Halfway through, we lost it and laughed again. We finally finished the prayer. Funny experience.
This week, because they removed 2 missionaries, we now cover all of Quellòn. We have walked wayyyy too much. We are dead at the end of every day. But God has been blessing us with success. We put 3 people with baptismal fecha! Mattìas (16), Moisès (30ish), and Nicole (19).
Nicole is amazing. Her less active friend from Santiago told her about the church. Nicole has been investigating for a few years now. She has an evangelico background. Last week she just showed up to church all on her own. In gospel principles class we all introduced ourselves. She gave the normal info, then explained that she is looking for the truth and that is why she came to our church. We were all speechless. This week we put her with the baptismal fecha of 27 of Febuary.  Pres. Ojeda gave her a triple combination Book of Mormon, D y C, and Perla de Gran Precio. She has been calling US and asking US when we can meet with her. As we taught her the restoration and asked her if she feels it is true, she told us yes. She feels it is true. She told us that she feels her search for truth has come to an end and she wants to be baptized in our church. WOW. Golden. She went to Relief Society on Thursday and drank mate with the hermanas and said she feels like our congregation is a family. Perfect. I don’t know why God allows me to take part in such an amazing conversion process.

Mattias is 16 and told us that he felt super relaxed and at peace when he prayed about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. His fecha is 27 of Feb., but we will have to change it because he is leaving on vacations. Moises is a former investigator. He directs the choir and plays lead guitar for his evangelico church. He has read the Book of Mormon up until 3 Nephi before. He is set on getting an answer. With all of his time investigating, he hasn’t gotten one, but said if through his efforts God gives him one, he will be baptized for the 27 of February.
Our new district leader, Elder Bliss is super funny. On the day we put Mattias and Nicole with fechas and we told him on the phone during our daily verification, he screamed. The next day when we told him about Moises he screamed again. Love him.
We don’t deserve any of this success. Doing my best to keep my head down and work.
We passed by a less active during the week. He let us in. He was ordained an elder, baptized his sister, introduced the elders to his brother and they baptized him, and was going to be the first missionary from the branch of Quellòn. But he has fallen away. He now is living with a pareja and won’t come back. It gave me great pain to see that. A man who was enjoying the fullest blessings of the gospel is now on the polar opposite side. As we talked he acknowledged what he was doing was wrong. He wants to come back. But he told us it is too hard. I told him very directly why we were there and that what he was doing was wrong and God wants him back. I felt the Spirit very strong. Elder Torres shared Alma 34 about repenting NOW. Then we left the lesson. He didn’t want to act. Walking away, I started praying for him and broke into tears. Agency is so frustrating. I want to use mine well.
During the week, we passed by a recent convert named Karen. We talked a bit outside. As we asked her about her conversion process the conversation became more personal. We asked her how she felt about the apostasy when the elders taught her and if she understood it. We were super down and frustrated with the day and with rejection. Everything she said was a home run to the heart straight from the Spirit. She said it is never our fault if they don’t accept it, and that we teach well. If the investigator is ready and prepared then they will understand it and ask questions if they don’t. She was our missionary in that moment. Elder Torres and I were crying, we sang a hymn with her (at her suggestion), and then said a prayer. That was a massive tender mercy. Such a strong convert, strong testimony. I love Hna Karen.
Hna Claudia called us this week super exited. She told us that she, Catalina, and Benjamin were at the SANTIAGO TEMPLE!!!!!  After Catalina’s examines, they walked to the temple and read their scriptures. She was way too amped. I talked to Catalina and she said she felt super good and ready for her baptism. Yesterday we passed by her dad, Hno Mario, to give him baptismal invitations to pass out for Catalina`s baptism. We ended up talking for half an hour. Then we talked about his baptism (never has been that open enough before!!!) and then shared a scripture (that`s never been done either!!). Elder Torres was bold and took the lead on both of those. Then I asked a question about spiritual experiences and Hno Mario then told us about one. I’m not going to explain it out of respect for him, but we were crying. And throughout the process, hugged like 6 times. Love that man. God has been working on him and he is opening up. Miracle. I see them as a family in the temple someday. Catalina will be baptized this Saturday February 6 and confirmed February 7.
Thank you for all of your support. I love you guys. You are important to me. And I need you. This church is so true and this is God`s work. So grateful to see it happening.

Elder West