Monday, April 18, 2016

The Tube

I’ll start with the less spiritual, move onto the medium spiritual, and then end with the actually spiritual.
Less spiritual: It rains a ton here. It rained for 3 days straight this week. 
Foggy morning
Our shower is fixed so we now don’t shower in the sink. #blessings. This week, I cooked onion rings and Dutch cookies. Super good. There is a plant that everyone and their dog have that is used to make an herbal tea. While we are tracting, I always snatch a bit off and then make a great tea for the night time. I met a dog this week. It is a mix between a wiener dog and something else. We became friends. This dog has huge ears and bugsy eyes and is super funny. It reminds me a lot of Dobby from Harry Potter. So I named it Dobby.

I received cambios. I will become senior companion in Punta Arenas. But that might not happen because of what the doctor told me this morning. I had a radiograph [MRI] this week (see later on in the letter), and he told me the marrow in my spine is inflaming from overuse and carrying too much weight. He said I need to rest for 30 days. If I don’t the bone marrow will continue to swell and my spine from overuse will start to have fractures. Wow. Snap!
There a lot of English words that people use here in Chile. Whenever I hear them they make me laugh:
-pat time  -nuevo loook  -cofie brek  -brek   -stahnd bi  -inovaytion tat exsites
-beh beh chower -vul time  -and a whole bunch of other funny words.
Riding the micros here is straight up nuts. They drive so fast. iI call it public transportation that resembles more of a blender. If you’re standing, you get thrown onto other people, you levitate on turns. They always are break checking everyone and doing jerky accelerations. You just have to hold onto for dear life. It reminds me of pretending I was surfing as a little kid when I stood up in our van when we went over curbs.
Medium spiritual: On Monday, we ran into the elders from the other sector. That was a miracle because we didn’t have any way to contact them to send them the golden reference we had (the guy who went to church last week), and we had made a cita with him for the next day. The Lord put the elders in our path and the guy is being taught right now.
Another contact we made came to church! I taught a kid in an internet cafe about what happens after this life while my companion checked the computer for references. We taught a college student. He accepted a baptismal date!! After the first vision lesson, we asked him if he had any questions and he said, "No, I don’t. But that (first vision) is so beautiful!"
The hermanas in our ward reactivated a family. Our ward mission leader said that it is the same as a baptism because you helped someone renew their baptismal covenants. That hit me hard.
I’ve been studying grace a lot this week. I’ve learned that the end goal of this life isn’t perfection, but rather improvement. Salvation can’t be bought by obedience. We don’t give up trying. We try our best out of our love for God. And living the gospel faithfully is not a burden.  That has helped me out a lot this week.
Spiritual stuff: This week, I fasted for God’s will to happen for the cambios. I fasted that if it would be according to his will, that I could stay in this area. That was a massive leap of faith. It was scary. But I have felt God’s hand throughout this whole cambio. That is why I love writing you guys every week because it gives me an opportunity to reflect and see that God is totally guiding everything and that this is totally His work.
One day after lunch, I was doing the dishes. I was pretty ticked and frustrated with some things. After I went into my room to blow off some steam. I was going to write how I was feeling down onto paper because that has helped me before. But I felt I shouldn’t, rather instead read Jesus the Christ. So I started to read, but I couldn’t focus. I kept trying to read and trying to read, fighting the feeling to pray. I finally knelt down at the side of my bed and poured my heart out to God. Afterwards, I felt the Spirt. I felt love.  I felt at peace. From this I learned that the Spirit will guide us in small ways from step to step until we are ready to do what we need to in the end (in my case it was prayer). I also learned that prayer is a COMMUNICATION WITH GOD. Do you realize that??? You are talking with God! Nothing in between the two of you. We can communicate and talk to the most powerful being in the universe. The best father. The perfect counselor!
This cambio has been probably been one of the hardest of my mission. But I have grown like never before. My conversion has deepened, I’ve learned the power of kneeling down and turning to God in prayer, patience, and charity. I feel more independent spiritually and emotionally. I feel I have become a man in this cambio. And I’m always growing in becoming a man of God.
The tube. So I went to the hospital for a radiograph [MRI].  It is basically a giant tube. I thought they only used it on cancer patients, and I’ve only seen it on TV. Imagine a giant Twinkie without the frosting, and Elder West is the frosting. They laid me down on a bed and slid me into the Twinkie (tube). I’m not a claustrophobic person, but this was a whole another story. The ceiling was about 4 inches from my face, and it progressively heated up. It was stuffy in there. They designed the thing to blow cool air on your face so you wouldn’t feel so claustrophobic. But I’m taller than the average Chilean so the air was blowing on my chest. The tube is in a separate room with a massive bank safe looking door. How it checks me out is by using sound blasts. I had to wear headphones to dull the sound. They sound blasts started. At first I laughed because it sounded like really bad dubstep. But after a while, it became more like a Chinese water torture. I was in there for 20 minutes.
I was hot, uncomfortable, with back pain, claustrophobic, and a little bit distressed. They slid me out. Then they told me that they were going to inject me with a liquid so they could see the results more clearly. "Oh crud, now I’m going to get stabbed." I lay there as the inserted the needle into my vein. Just like an IV. Then they slid me into the claustrophobic Twinkie, shut the bank safe door, and started the bad dubstep again. I was pretty wound up. So I started so sing "Jesus the Very Thought of Thee" to myself to calm me down. And it calmed me down as my thoughts turned towards the Savior.
And then I felt the Spirit very strong as I thought how Jesus must have had a lot of back pain after carrying the cross to Golgotha’s hill. How He was very hot from the walk. How He had laid down on the cross. How He must felt panic when He heard he was going to get an IV, or rather, nails put through his hands and wrists and feet. How He must have been very uncomfortable as they slid him into the tube again, or rather, lifted Him up on the cross. But Jesus was calm. And that helped me be calm. Christ had been there before, and He was there with me. I feel so grateful for my Savior.

Elder West

1 Corinthians 15:10

After the tube [MRI]