This has been another interesting week in the Chile Rancagua Mission. On Monday we sent home 11 missionaries and three senior couples. We had an amazing testimony meeting prior to taking them to the airport. It was sad to see them go even though we have only known them a short time. Our hope is that they will have great success for whatever plans they have following their mission.
On Tuesday we greeted 32 new missionaries and also welcomed back 1 returning elder who had gone home to recover from surgery. Since this is already our second cambio (change) we felt much more comfortable (mostly), than the first time. We had a little hiccup because there was a bad accident on the road between Rancagua and Santiago so the timing was off for transporting them here but we managed. The time restriction is that the missionaries going south have to be to the bus station by around 4 p.m. It is a great feeling to watch the announcement of a trainer and a new missionary. We first introduce the trainer and where they are from and then the new missionary and where they are from and show their area on a big map we have projected on a screen. It is lively and exciting as they jump up and hug their new companion for the first time.
Also this week we (or President) felt our first earthquake. I know I would have felt it if I had been awake. The epicenter was about 25 miles south of Rancagua. It was ranked 5.3 on the Richter scale. The sister who works here at the mission home was unimpressed by that number. She says that Chileans don’t start paying attention until around 7.0 or higher. An 8.8 earthquake occurred in 2010 which caused a tidal wave. Many of the towns in the south of our mission were damaged to some extent in 2010. Earthquake “season” is from November to February according to the locals. We never thought of earthquakes having a season but apparently the frequency goes up at that time.
For this reason each missionary has an emergency mochila or backpack in their house. It contains emergency food, light and other supplies. Our main hope is that we never need to use them. Creating 33 mochilas for new missionaries is a big undertaking! We really appreciate the senior missionaries who perform that task for each cambio.
On Wednesday we visited the town furthest from the mission home which is Constitucion, situated on the coast about 4 ½ hours from Rancagua. We first drove to Talca for a district meeting and then took the four sisters and two elders who live in “Conti” back with us since President Warne had an interview there. Normally they ride the bus two hours each way. It was delightful to visit with the sisters on the way who were in the middle seat of our car while the Elders meditated in the very back seat. Have as wonderful week.