Monday, October 28, 2013

Weekly Missionary Letters to President Warne

Every week each missionary writes a letter to President Warne to report on the work in their sector, how their investigators are progressing, how things are going in their area of responsibility if they are a district leader, zone leader or a sister coordinator, how they are doing with their companion and anything else they want to share.  The lettes vary in length from a short paragraph to about a page.  It is sent in via the Internet using a system designed specifically for this purpose which is called IMOS. Monday is preparation day and is when the missionaries go to the local Internet cafe and send in their letters.  President Warne reads every letter  and gives a personal response to about a third each week.  His responses usually contain words of encouragement, answers to questions or clarifications about how to go about the missionary work.

The letters are full of faith, inspiration and testimony.  Our missionaries love the Savior and this love comes through in how hard they work, the feelings that they express and their obedience.  We thought it might be interesting to share some of the stories of faith from a few of these letters this week.  We have removed any reference that might violate privacy standards for those involved but they are copied and pasted here just as they were written to President Warne with only those changes.

#1-The other day, I prayed that we could find a family. But not just any family, one that we could baptize and that could be members all their lives and send kids on a mission and everything. Then I asked God if He could show me the family in a dream so I would recognize them when I saw them. That very night I had a dream and saw the family. Their faces weren´t too clear but other features like their hair were, and they had a stroller. I´ve never had a dream like that before. That very day, we found them. We were actually trying to visit someone else but they weren´t there, then we visited the backup plan even though we only had 5 minutes before our next appointment. I wrote the address down wrong and we contacted the neighbor, but it was totally inspired by God. Right then, they arrived home from work. It was a Dad and his little son. He looked kind of like the man in my dream but I wasn´t sure. We taught him the first lesson and it went so well!!! Then his wife called him in the middle and I saw her picture on his phone. She is totally the woman in my dream!!!!!! 
#2-We had a really great experience this week. We were trying to get to lunch, without realizing that there are two poblaciones (neighborhoods) called El Manzano. We went to the wrong one. However, at the first house we asked for directions, lived a less active member and her family who aren´t baptized. Her father recently passed away and she has had a hard time getting over his loss. We have a meeting with them this next week. Honestly, there is no way we would have found them were we not utterly lost. God works in mysterious ways, and truly leads us to the people who need our message!
#3-Well i do have a really cool story about this week that i want to share with you.  We had a lesson with a part member family, the two teenage daughters are less active members and the mom is not a member, and well we were talking about the power of the Holy Ghost and how to recognize it and I bore testimony of it and the mom started to cry and she told me that she has had numerous missionaries over and she has listened to countless lessons but when I testified of the Holy Ghost it was the first time shes ever felt it and she thanked us and said now she knows and understands what everyone was talking about. It was such a cool moment for me
#4-Well, yesterday while we were walking, little things would happen where my companion and I could see the hand of God directing our path. Here is one of the experiences we had. We were contacting in a neighborhood but no one was home. We had done everything to try and find new investigators. We had contacted the references we had received, looked up where the inactive members lived, etc. Nada. Then I remembered an inactive member who we had met 2 months earlier at her daughters house. She had told us we could visit her and that she lived in the neighborhood where we were at. The only problem was, her address was in my other planner at the house. 

Well as I was looking at my planner trying to figure out what to do, I looked up and who did I see walking a few yards in front of us? The inactive member and her boyfriend. We walked up to them and they were so happy to see us! Filomena invited us over and we taught her, her boyfriend Hugo and her daughter. Her son is also a member and was visiting for the weekend. Hugo said he wants to read The Book of Mormon. It was a wonderful tender mercy from our Heavenly Father. 
This is just a sampling of what the missionaries are experiencing each week.  They are wonderful examples of what representatives of Jesus Christ should be.  We have included a couple of pictures of missionaries but they are not directly related to the stories here.
Have a great week.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Hermana Coordinadoras

Another amazing week in the Misión Chile Rancagua.  We are so grateful to be serving here with so many amazing missionaries and working with the wonderful Chilean people.  Every day we count it a blessing and privilege to be here and serve the Lord.  The work is progressing and we are seeing many baptisms and many who were not active in the church returning in large numbers having been invited to do so by the missionaries.  Many of these returning members have felt the Spirit in their lives and the invitation to return from the missionaries comes at precisely the right moment for them.

We now have 104 Sister missionaries in our mission.  A year ago there were only 24 so we are very blessed to have so many of these delightful young women to assist in the work.  We find that some people are more inclined to work well with the Elders and others with the Sisters.  They are full of energy and the Spirit and they touch many lives each week. 

In the mission organization we have District Leaders and Zone Leaders who help manage the work and who do training for the Elders.  Unfortunately, for years we have not had a means to train the Sisters in the same way since the Elders cannot go and train the Sisters one on one.  Earlier this year the leaders of the church established a role that we call Hermana Coorinadora which is a position that is assigned to our experienced Sister missionaries and they handle the training of the other Sisters.  The goal is to have two per zone but we are not quite there yet given the relative newness of our Sister missionaries.  These Coordinadoras meet with the Zone Leaders in our Mission Leadership Council but we also have regular meetings with them by themselves to talk about issues that are specific to the Sisters.  We cannot say enough about how wonderful they are.  These Coordinadoras are an inspired addition to the missionary process and we do not know what we would do without them.  They are mature and so inspired in how they help the other Sisters.  They are such a blessing to us.  This picture is of our Coordinadoras at our recent meeting.  Did we say they are amazing?  In addition to this responsibility many also serve by assignment as counselors in the Primary, Relief Society and Young Womens organization as needed in their respective branches.  They are certainly being prepared for future service in the church. 

This last picture is of one of the Coordinadoras that is going home this week.  She has been a wonderful and faithful missionary.  When we send a missionary home it is like sending a son or daughter away.  The love we have for them is incredible. 

Have a wonderful week.


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Zone Conferences and Companionship Unity

Another wonderful week in the Misión Chile Rancagua.  Every week is full of activity. We are often gone by 8 AM and return late in the day and have the goal to retire by 11.  Normally the calls end by 11 which is when the missionaries are supposed to be in bed. Today included a final interview of a young man in Peralillo who is preparing to go on a mission and attendance at the branch in Peumo.  The countryside is magnificent and there is an abundance of agricultural activity everywhere. 

We did training for our new missionaries this week and also started our zone conferences.  Each conference includes two to three zones so there are from 30-52 missionaries at each one. We go over training topics to help the missionaries improve their techniques and their knowledge of the gospel.  In many of our meetings we have the missionaries do practical exercises to apply the things that they learn.  This round of conferences included topics on the Book of Mormon, how to teach repentance, dress standards for the summer (yes it is starting to be summer here!!!!), health, language study, working with less active members and other current topics.

After the zone conference we always have a lunch since most are too far from their areas to go back and eat.  This time we had a game after lunch where they were challenged to show their knowledge of Preach My Gospel (our manual for how to do missionary work), the Missionary Handbook (the standards for missionaries and other important topics) and the scriptures. This picture above show the game in progress.

The Elders and Sisters always  go two by two and we emphasize the need for unity in the companionships.  Often the Elders will wear the same color tie to the meetings as a show of unity and sometimes the Sisters wear something the same as well.  Here is a picture of two of the companionships of our wonderful Sisters wearing matching clothing at one of our meetings this week.

We sent four missionaries home this week and had 28 more arrive so we continue to grow.  That puts us at 290 right now but it ends with this transfer as the goal is to get us down to 250 missionaries (which is the ideal maximum size for a mission) by sometime next year so our numbers will slowly decline.

We are focused on three groups of people in our missionary work-those who want to know about the church, those who recently joined and those who aren't currently active.  We are seeing wonderful blessings with increasing numbers in each group every week.  This is bringing strength to the branches and wards and more are receiving the blessings of the temple. More on these three groups later.

Have a wonderful week.  Thanks for your love and prayers.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Mission Life

                As we reviewed our week trying to decide what to write about this week, we realized that every meeting we had has already been covered by previous blogs.  I guess that means everyone reading this post knows everything we do, right?  Maybe not quite, but I will just list the meetings so you get an idea of how the week went:  Monday was our usual office meeting.  After that we took our assistants to lunch and then took one to the airport.  He was one of the ones who greeted us when we got here and helped us survive the first few weeks.  I am not exaggerating when I say we probably wouldn’t have survived without him and the other assistant.  I am not allowed to list their names but they are written in heaven, I am sure.  Anyway it was very sad for us to say good-bye to such an excellent young man but I guess they all have to go home eventually and get on with the rest of their lives.  Elder (or former elder, I guess) if you are reading this, please accept our public thanks for a job very well done.
                Tuesday was our mission leadership council which went well because of course our zone leaders and sister training leaders are the best anywhere.  Wednesday we went to a district meeting which means doing the training on Tuesday and then going Wednesday to see how well it is implemented.  Thursday night President Warne went to do divisions and was very impressed at how well the elders did about talking to everyone.  They even set a date to teach someone they met in the street—very inspiring.  We teach the missionaries that they should ensure that every contact feels the Spirit even if they do not immediately accept the opportunity to hear more about the gospel.  This being the case then when that person encounters the missionaries later in their lives they will feel the same Spirit, recognize how good it felt and want to know more.  During the division a young lady that President Warne and the missionaries talked to on the street asked if she could have a copy of the Book of Mormon.  Of course they had one to give her.  She had a previous encounter with the missionaries and recognized the Spirit that night and that is what prompted her to want to know more.  With this in mind we emphasize that all contacts, done with the Spirit, are good contacts.

                Friday we trained the new missionaries who are just finishing their first six weeks in the mission—always a good experience to see how they have grown –and learned to speak Spanish during that time.  Tuesday we have 28 more coming in so we will start the process once again.

             You have probably come to realize how much we love our missionaries.  Here is Sister Warne and one of our sister missionaries that she did divisions with awhile back.  They are unforgettable.  We are grateful for the sacrifices that they have made to be here on their mission in Chile.  Some of their background stories are incredible and very humbling.  This sister is actually a software security engineer in her country but decided to serve the Lord and is doing a marvelous job.  We know the Lord will bless her upon her return home. 

                We spent Saturday and Sunday listening to conference, of course.  We are very grateful for the technology which allowed us to listen to it live here in the mission home.   I am not sure how conference can get better every time.  The messages were amazing and seemed very direct.  We were thrilled to hear the call for members to assist missionaries in the work.  Many members here in Chile are very willing to go out with the missionaries which is a priceless resource in teaching lessons to investigators.  Also the choirs were great.  There is something about hearing the choir sing live that really adds to the spirit of the conference.