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

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