Monday, July 29, 2013

Bicycles and Chépica

While we try to do our posts each week on Sunday night our day yesterday was filled to the brim from early in the morning till way past missionary curfew.  For those not familiar with the missionary schedule we have a very defined and strictly adhered to timeline for their day that we ask them to follow.  We aren´t required to follow it but there is wisdom in what Church leaders have established.  Here is the general schedule for the missionaries:
7:00 AM arise and personal time (exercise, prayers, eat, personal hygiene)
8:30 AM personal study
9:30 AM companion study
10:30 AM  proselyte
1:30 PM  Lunch with members and study
3:30 PM  proselyte
9:30 PM back home
11:00 PM in bed

This is a bit different than most missions in the church as we have had to adjust it to match the schedule and lifestyle of the Chilean people. 

This week we attended the weekly district meetings in Curicó which is about an hour south of Rancagua.  As part of our routine we try to do a division with missionaries each week, attend one district/
zone meeting, attend a baptism which is usually Saturday night, and then attend church in one of the 19 branches for which President Warne has responsibility.  In this meeting the missionaries meet each week for coordination and training for about an hour and a half.  It was well presented and marvelous to see how spiritual, professional, competent, and mature 20 year old zone and district leaders can be as they lead the missionary work in their areas.  After the meeting we had lunch at a local place while the missionaries were having lunch at the member´s homes.  We ate at a restaurant that must be owned by Chiles since the decor and menu were very similar to that which you would find in the US.  After lunch we did divisions with the missionaries--Sister Warne with two wonderful sister missionaries and President Warne with the Elders.  You can see from this picture that President Warne´s division involved bicycles.  He rode quite a few miles with the Elders to teach and visit members and non-members.  Our mission has a few areas where bicycles are necessary to cover long distances.  Bicycles are an important mode of transportation for many Chileans.  Sister Warne and the sister missionaries knocked on doors inviting people to hear the message of the restoration.

Yesterday we started our day in the Chépica Branch which is about an hour and a quarter from our home in Rancagua to the south.  We speak wherever we go and Sister Warne now gives here testimony and thoughts in Spanish without notes of any kind.  Given the fact that there are few members of the church who play the piano Sister Warne accompanied the congregation for the hymns and even for the choir number.  It is a good thing she is so talented and can play almost any of the hymns without notice.  There were 30 in attendance.  It is a growing area and we are confident that this little congregation will grow as well.   Forty years ago we had branches like this in Spain during President Warne´s mission there and today there are large congregations and stakes so it is just a matter of time before Chépica does the same.  This picture is of the chapel in Chépica.  In these remote branches there is always a small chapel, classrooms, an office for the branch president, and a kitchen. Also, there is always basketball/soccer court in the back that also doubles as a parking lot. 

Every day we wonder if this is the day when our experiences are the same as some other day since we arrived in Chile a month ago.  So far we have not had two days the same and the new experiences just keep coming.  We love missionary work, helping people come unto Christ, seeing changes in people´s lives, feeling the Spirit and working with such wonderful missionaries.  We appreciate all our friends and family for their support and prayers.  Have a great week.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Missionaries Arriving and Departing

Another week in Rancagua and we continue to have new and different experiences.  Life here in the mission field runs in six week cycles driven by the departure of missionaries who have finished their two years in the case of the Elders or 18 months when it comes to the Sisters or the Hermanas as they are called here and the arrival of new missionaries.

Monday was the departure day with 8 missionaries coming to our home.  I interviewed each one where we discussed their mission, their accomplishments and growth and their plans for the future.  It also offers me a chance to give them some advice.  After the interviews we had a very nice lunch and then a testimony meeting.  These missionaries are wonderful and faithful.  Each bore pure and simple testimony of the Savior, of the joy of sharing the gospel and of the profound impact their mission had on their lives.  After the meeting they went their various ways either to the airport or the bus terminal for their trip home.  As is tradition we took a picture in our front yard with them.

Early Tuesday morning two groups of missionaries arrived--some from the Missionary Training Center in Santiago and others from the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah.  The former by bus and the latter by plane.  We received a total of 31 in all. 
Again I did interviews and we did a lot of paperwork necessary for visas etc. with Sister Warne running around keeping much of it going smoothly.  We fed them a small breakfast and then did some training and then we had a nice lunch of hamburgers.  The missionaries love hambergurs.  Did I say in a previous blog that they can eat tremendous amounts of food?  After lunch we invited them all into the chapel and then we announced their assignments and their new companions.  It is really amazing to see them all stand up, see who their new companion is, look at the map that we have projected on the screen that shows the town or pueblo they are going to and then get together.  Everyone is so excited.  This picture is of the new missionaries that arrived. 

Last night we went to a town called Chépica which is about an hour and a half from our home in Rancagua.  The youth in that part of the mission had just had a trek where they reenacted the pioneers in the 1800´s going to the Salt Lake Valley from the east.  They had a very busy and tiring day so that when we got there they were pretty worn out.  I spoke and Sister Warne gave love and support.  The irony of the event is that in this part of Chile these young people are really pioneers themselves.  They have the same faith and devotion to the kingdom that the pioneers did who traveled to Salt Lake.  The trials are different and the hardships are of a modern nature the faith and devotion are the same. 

We are loving Chile and all of our new experiences.  The days are long and filled with many activities.  The chance to serve is an incredible blessing.  Thanks for all our family and friends for your prayers and support.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Church with the Hospital Branch

It has been a busy week here in the mission field.  We have continued doing our zone conferences so that we could meet all the rest of the missionaries.  There are 235 in total and we finished on Thursday.  Each zone conference consists of us meeting for a few minutes with each companionship, taking a picture of each missionary with us that we send to their parents, and then a meeting where the two assistants share their testimonies and then Sister Warne shows a PowerPoint about us including kids and grandkids and then I talk about the vision of the misison and our purpose.  This picture is typical of what we sent to each missionary´s parents.  The parents really like the pictures and we have gotten some very nice notes from them. 

In the messages presented at the zone conferences it is important for the missionaries to understand that they are a fulfillment of the profecy of Daniel about the stone cut out of the mountain without hands that would fill the whole earth (Daniel 2) and also of the servants called for the last time in the last days to work in the Lord´s vineyard as reflected in Jacob 5.  We then have lunch and the missionaries are on their way.  Lunch varies depending on the location but the one thing that all lunches have in common is that the missionaries can eat a lot of food!  There are NEVER any leftovers.    In San Fernando we had these sandwhiches with hambergur like buns with sliced beef, sliced tomatoes, avocado and bacon.  Very good.  Don´t even think about the nutrional information on them.  The missionaries love seeing each other so there is a lot of sociality when they are together.

We did our first training for new missionaries on Friday.  It was held at a chapel not far from here.  The center section or pews of the chapel were full of new sister missionaries and their trainers (20 of each) and the side pews on one side of the chapel had the six new Elders and their companions.  The mission continues to grow with many more sister missionaries answering the call the serve than ever before.

One of the activities that happens every six weeks is that missionaries leave that have fnished their missions and new missionaries arrive to start theirs.  That all will happen this Monday and Tuesday.  Yesterday (Saturday) we had one sister leave that needed to go home a day or two earlier than the rest so we drove to Santiago to take her to the airport.  She was a wonderful and faithful sister missionary and did an amazing job here in Rancagua.  It was our first experience sending a missionary home and we were surprised at how much we have grown to love each of the missionaries already.  We both shed tears saying goodbye to her and we have only known and worked with her for two weeks.  It is clear that it will get harder and harder to send them home in the future.  This is a picture of Sister Warne and our wonderful sister missionary.  Just a note, for privacy purposes we will not be putting names on any of the pictures that we send for the protection of those involved.

We attended church in the Hospital Branch which is located in the town of Paine.  It is about 30 minutes north of us.  It is a small but strong congregation of about 60 people.  We had a bit of trouble finding it as many of the navigation tools that are available don´t always know their way around some of the small streets in the pueblos here in Chile.  As we looked down a street for the location of the church we saw two young men with their white shirts and ties looking like deacons and sure enough they were.  We knew we were at the church.  I took this picture after church.  Sister Warne bore her testimony without notes of any kind and President Warne, as the presiding officer in each of these meetings, always gets to speak.

Life is good here in Chile.  We miss our family and friends but know we are doing what the Lord has called us to do at this time in our lives.  The work is rewarding and the missionaries are inspiring.  We are grateful for the chance to serve and our testimonies of this great work and the restoration of the gospel grow each day.  Have a great week.



Monday, July 8, 2013

We had a very busy week here in Rancagua.  There is much to do as we start to serve in terms of meeting all of the missionaries, getting to know the local leaders of the church and filling other assignments that come with the roles we have here.

Last week we had three zone conferences where we met with about 40 missionaries each time.  They are working very hard and doing much to strengthen the existing members of the church and find others who want to know more about the gospel. 

On Tuesday we were invited to attend a reception at the US Embassy to celebrate the 4th of July with important political and business leaders in Chile.  It was a very important event in terms of US and Chilean relations.  Many  American companies would like to do business and have good relations in Chile so there were vendors of all kinds providing US foods (McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts, Papa John´s, etc.) who provided the food.  The reason we were invited to the event was so that we could accompany Elder Archuleta (most of you will recognize him as a very popular entertainer) who was asked to sing the national anthem and then some other songs for the guests.  He did a marvelous job and those present came away with a greater respect and appreciation for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and for the example that he is as a young and humble missionary who left his successful career for two years to serve the Lord.

Besides meeting the missionaries in formal settings we also spend time each week going out and working with them.  This week Sister Warne went and taught a lesson with two wonderful sister missionaries.  The Spirit was powerful and present and the investigator is feeling changes come into her life.  There is no question about the changes that occur when someone accepts Christ, makes the changes that such a decision requires and then lives in accordance with them.  They are happier, more at peace with themselves and more inclined to serve others and be happy.  This we see time and time again.  I too had a great experience with the Elders and love the time with them teaching them how to server and feeling their spirit and enthusiasm.

Yesterday we attended church in the Nancagua branch which is about an hour and a half from our home in Rancagua.  It is a small pueblo so the branch is small.  That  said, the Spirit was strong and the members so warm and friendly.  I had the opportunity to do the final interview for a young woman who is putting in her papers to be called to serve a mission.  She is excited to serve and sees the impact that missionaries can have on people´s lives and wants the chance to do the same.

In terms of our work we are trying to go out proselyting with the missionaries at least once a week and attend a baptism each week as well.  This picture is a of a baptism which we attended last week.  I am responsible for many of the small branches of the church throughout our mission area so we attend a different branch each Sunday to meet and strengthen them.

Sister Warne is progressing well with her Spanish.  She understands more than she speaks which is to be expected at this point.  I mentioned this to the missionaries in a zone conference last week and that they should be careful what they say in Spanish in front of her!  They all thought that was funny.  The sisters love her to death and call her ¨hermanita.¨

We are incredibly busy and happy in our missionary service.  We hope all of our friends and family are well.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Arrival in Chile

We arrived in Rancagua Chile on June 28th and were welcomed at the airport by President and Sister MacArthur who we are replacing and who have been here for the last three years.  They are wonderful people and have given dedicated service to the Lord as they have labored tirelessly in the kingdom.  The members, missionaries and people in the Chile Rancagua Mission will forever be impacted by their influence. 

We only had only a couple of hours with the MacArthurs before they were on their way back to Santiago to catch their flight home to Utah.  Life has been a whirlwind since we arrived with the opportunity to meet so many wonderful members, missionaries and people here in Rancagua.  Chile is a beautiful country and the people are very warm and friendly. 

We spent a few hours on the 28th getting acquainted with our life here in Rancagua and then that night we split up and went out with the missionaries as they taught several families about the gospel.  Sister Warne went with two of our amazing Sister missionaries and I went with two faithful Elders.  It was an inspiring evening and the Spirit was strong in each of our lessons.  Our first day in Rancagua is one that we will never forget.

I will give an overview of the way a mission is organized for those that aren't familiar with how one works.  In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the world is divided into 405 jurisdictions called missions for the preaching of the gospel.  Each mission has a couple like us with the husband being the mission president.  The size of each mission varies depending on the area and its needs.  Some are small with about 70 missionaries and others are large like ours with over 250 Elders and Sisters.  Missionaries range in age from 18 to about 23.  We have 70 Sister missionaries and the rest are young men we call Elders.  The missionaries are divided into groups called zones which are comprised of about 20-30 missionaries with each one led by two zone leaders.  Smaller groups of missionaries are assigned to districts within the zones and each one is led by a district leader.  Districts typically have from six to eight missionaries assigned to each one.  I have two Elders who serve as my assistants who help with the administration of the mission.  We also have senior couples who have come to the mission to perform many essential functions.  I will say more about the incredible senior couples in our mission in a later posting.  Perhaps a word is in order about missionary protocols.  The missionaries are referred to as Elder or Sister and their last name.  Never by their first name.  We are called President and Sister Warne and will never use our first names except among ourselves while we are here.  Hence you will see us refer to one another as such in these posts.  The Elders serve for two years and the Sisters for 18 months.

On Saturday (Day 2) we held a zone conference with
the two zones in Rancagua  and had the chance to meet about 40 missionaries.  Sister Warne gave a PowerPoint presentation about us and our family.  It was her first official talk in Spanish and she did an amazing job.  You can already tell that the missionaries are going to love her to death and she them. In Chile there is a lot of hugging and kissing among the women and Sister Warne is a pro.   I then spoke about a variety of topics including how we received our call, the purpose of missionary work, a little about my experiences as a missionary 38 years ago in the Spain Madrid Mission, and some challenges that I gave each missionary.  It was wonderful getting to know the missionaries and feel of their spirit.  They are very committed to the Lord and the work.  Where else but in an LDS mission could you gather so many young people and have them self motivated to work hard day in and day out finding and teaching God's children in a foreign land.  We are proud of them and know that we will love each one.

For those that are wondering our Spanish has now taken the accelerated path to fluency.  That's not to say we are fluent by any means but the immersion we are going through is going to move us along very quickly. We are so grateful for our tutors and all the others who helped us in Utah before we left to prepare us for speaking Spanish.

On Sunday we had the great privilege to attend church in the Guadalupe Branch in San Fernando.  We both spoke in Sacrament meeting.  The Spirit was very strong there and this branch is full of committed members of the church seeking to live the gospel in every way.  Afterwards we were invited to eat dinner (mid-afternoon meal) with the president of the San Fernando District and his family.  They were most gracious and the meal was wonderful.  We could feel of their love for us even though we just arrived in Chile.  We finished the day meeting with the stake president of the church here in Rancagua.  It has been a wonderful few days.  We can see that the pace here in Chile is going to be fast.  That's good.

We are grateful for all the prayers and support back home.  We know we are doing God's work and are humbled by the trust and confidence that He has placed in us to take care of this part of his vineyard and the missionaries serving here.
President and Sister Warne