Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas Deliveries

Today I would like to tell you about our activity last week.  Of course I am speaking of Christmas.  We decided to repeat last year and make several kinds of treats to distribute on Christmas Day.  President Warne is such a good sport to support my sometimes crazy ideas—it usually involves washing tons of dishes. Sister D____ helped out by making over 250 oatmeal raisin cookies.  Still, Christmas Eve day was hectic and stressful as we finished baking, counted, ran errands, counted again and started assembling the trays.  As we did last year, we began in Buin, drove back to Tupahue, then to Rancagua, on to San Feranando and finished in Santa Cruz.  There were enough treats for each missionary to have 5 or 6, which meant we made up around 27 trays! President Warne offered a prayer for each group and we had a great time shaking hands and hugging each missionary (respectively) and wishing them a very happy day.  Each missionary is able to call his or her family sometime during these few days.  Sometimes it is a challenge to set up calls where families do not have computers, or phones, but the local leaders are always willing to help out.  We also passed out Christmas cards from the first Presidency, and then the zone leaders of each zone took over for their planned programs.  We really appreciated the senior couple who drove two hours to Talca to deliver treats to those zones, drove another hour back to Curicó for Curicó I and II.  Then they went one more hour to the small village of Chepica to bring and share Christmas dinner with the missionaries there.  That is selfless service and they were glad to do it.
 It was a very different way to spend the day but we enjoyed it very much.  As President told each group of missionaries, they will never forget their Christmases in the mission field.  After all, what could be better than celebrating the birth of Him whom we represent as missionaries?  We are so grateful to be with these amazing missionaries who work hard every day to find and invite people to Christ, and we are also grateful to have shared Christmas Day with them.


 
One of the many trays--our table was covered!


We filled the car twice with treats, packages and mail
Greeting missionaries in his festive tie
Happy on Christmas!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Navidad


            We have a great tradition in our part of Chile, which is the devotionals held by the districts and stakes.  Tonight we attended our fourth one, including one in a small branch, 2 ½ hours away.
            It is a great opportunity for the Primary children, adult choir and often the missionaries, to sing.  And President Warne always gets the opportunity to say a few words, usually without advance notice:)  Tonight all 27 missionaries serving in the San Fernando district sang several songs.  They were an inspiring group and did a great job.
            By means of the Christmas zone conferences, participating in devotionals, and trying to make sure everyone receives either a package from home or a small gift from us, we try to ensure the missionaries will enjoy Christmas in the mission field.  Also we are moving the district meeting for this week to Thursday and we will visit as many zones as we can.   The custom in Chile is for families to spend Christmas Eve together, have a late dinner and open presents at midnight.  Many members and even some investigators are kind enough to have dinner much earlier than normal so missionaries can join them.  Everyone has to be home no later than 11, but they really enjoy being part of a family celebration.
            We miss our families, but celebrating Jesus’ birth reminds us of our purpose—to help people know Christ and feel the joy that we feel as part of the restored church.  These thoughts bring peace and make Christmas time even more special.  It also helps that they can talk to families on Christmas Day! 

            Please accept our best wishes for a wonderful Christmas and thanks for sharing our experiences through this blog.

A picture of the zone after the serious part.  Next comes the fun!

Elders patiently waiting for the sisters to get their food first.



The Talca and Curico zones are ready to watch the mission video for this y ear.
Enjoying lunch after the games.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

It´s time again for Christmas zone conferences


     Lately it has seemed that each week is busier than the one before if that is possible.  On Tuesday and Friday we held two of the three Christmas zone conferences.  Even though it is too hard to have the whole mission together, except for a visit from a general authority, we divide the mission into three groups so as many as possible can be together and also so we can fit the conferences into a small window of time.  We have a group going home this week--most of them in order to start school on time, and we wanted them to be able to participate.
     This year we have the day divided into three parts: spiritual, games, lunch and mission Christmas video.  We start with the testimonies of the missionaries who are leaving.  One of the coordinadoras speaks, followed by one of the assistants, musical number, one of the church's Christmas videos, me, then President Warne.  I think this part has been inspirational; hopefully the missionaries agree.
      Then everyone changes into P-day clothes and heads to a field for games.  The assistants have done a good job of coming up with games that include the sisters but allow everyone to have a good time.  One is a form of baseball using only hands and a medium size ball.  Another is a soccer variation using a huge ball.  We have some very competitive missionaries!  We have six full water jugs and need all of them even though the days have been a little cooler than last year.
      We really appreciate the senior couples who prepare the lunch and then serve it.  At Friday's conference 122 people came--that is a lot of hot dogs or completos as they are called here, when they each have two.  After lunch we show the video in which each zone was asked silly questions, such as how do the reindeer get ready for the big day and how they answered them.  Also we hand out the mission book with everyone's picture, a copy of the DVD and our gift for this year which is a personalized cover for their Preach My Gospel book.  Those books take a beating through daily usage and we hope it is something they will be able to enjoy and yet it will serve a purpose.
      We have one more conference on Tuesday and then eighteen missionaries will have their final lunch and testimony meeting Thursday before leaving that night or Friday morning.  This week promises to be as full as the last few, so never a dull moment.  I hope you are enjoying your own Christmas preparations and hopefully have been able to take a few moments to watch the "He is the Gift" video.  It is amazing and has really helped missionary work for our missionaries during this month.  Until next week--love from the Chile Rancagua Mission.


Christmas zone conference games
another view of the games

All of these wonderful sisters are going home this week.  We wish them the best but we will miss them!


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Hastening the work

            We finished the second round of conferences for this year so today we were able to visit a branch for the first time in two or three months.  I’d like to describe the experience for you, it is common here in our mission, and perhaps for you as well.  Or maybe you have always been in a ward and you won’t recognize this
            When we arrived just in time to start, there were about 10 people in the room.  By the time the meeting was over the number had grown to 21 including children.  It is Fast Sunday, so we had the opportunity to bear testimony, but after everyone except President Warne had gone, it was only 10:45.  He spoke for about ten minutes and we ended early.  However, even though the group was small, the Spirit was strong, 
            Eight people attended Sunday School including me and the two elders assigned to the branch.  President went to visit a member who is very ill.  I tried to participate as best I could with my limited Spanish.  For the third hour we only changed teachers; not enough people to hold separate meetings.  Both Sunday School and the combined class were well-taught and inspirational.

            This isn’t meant to be a depressing scenario, but a window into many of our small branches.  These are faithful saints who do their best under difficult conditions.  For example, the chorister for Sacrament Meeting also said the closing prayer, and then taught Primary.  To me the message is that we should be grateful for our own circumstances, but we should also find ways to help wherever we can.  Our constant hope is that with hard-working missionaries, these branches will grow to become strong wards and stakes.  That outcome is hard to see after a visit like today's but when I see the members persevering under difficult circumstances, I realize I need to exercise more faith and work harder to make the vision reality.  You can help also wherever you are and whatever your circumstances.

North American missionaries going home.  With the Latins, we said good-bye to 25 missionaries.

A great experience to meet the family of this elder.  We had a fun breakfast.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Report: interviews, temple trip and training


I would like to apologize for not posting last week.  I kept waiting for pictures to add to the post and did not find any, and then it was too late.  Now I have pictures and I will try to be more organized in the future.
We have 245 missionaries in 12 zones; November is an interview month.  Since the transfer date for this cycle is December first, tomorrow, and we only interviewed two of the zones before our family week with our daughter and granddaughter, we had ten zones worth of missionaries to interview before the first.
            Maybe I am making it seem a simple math equation but of course the process is much more personalized.  During each interview President Warne tries to answer questions, challenge each missionary to improve based on their individual needs, and leave each one with a positive reminder of our love for them and also the love Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ has for them.
            Each missionary, by choosing to serve a mission has left behind family, school, friends and other interests and concerns.  They are dedicating their lives to finding people with whom they can share the truths of the gospel.  They must learn to coexist in harmony 24/7 with someone not of their choosing.  Although each of them writes a letter to President each week and may call at any time, this personal interview every three months is anticipated and cherished. (They also look forward to getting the homemade cookie that A____ makes.)
            We interviewed in the Rancagua and Tupahue zones Tuesday and Wednesday, went to San Fernando on Thursday, Curicó on Friday morning, then Talca Friday afternoon and all day Saturday.  This week we went to Santa Cruz on Wednesday and finished with the other Curicó zone on Thursday.  Just to round out the week we attended the temple on Tuesday with the 29 missionaries who go home tomorrow and the next day and on Friday brought the missionaries and their trainers who are finishing their first transfer to the mission home for additional instructions.  The work goes on in Chile; please enjoy your week as well!
Lunch in the cultural hall after the temple

We happened to see several missionaries who will arrive on Tuesday.

Yes, 29 missionaries are going home tomorrow and the next day.
We will miss all of them!



            

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Mission conferences and family visits

            This past week we were so happy to have our oldest daughter and granddaughter visit us.
            However, on Monday the day before they arrived, we had an all mission conference with Elder and Sister Christensen from the Seventy.  It was a unique experience because we did not expect to be able to meet together as a mission, partly because of the expense and partly because the logistics are daunting.
            We rented five buses in order to transport missionaries from each of our major towns: Talca, Curicó, San Fernando, Santa Cruz, and Buin.  Many missionaries, coming from the little towns outside these areas spent Sunday night in various missionary apartments in those towns.  Hermana A_____ had prepared banana muffins and we served fruit, juice and the muffins for the missionary breakfast.  Some of them got up at 4:30 to arrive at the church by 8.
            President Warne and I drove to Santiago early Monday morning to pick up Elder and Sister Christensen from their hotel and bring them back to Rancagua.  It was a great opportunity to visit with them during that time.  Before we began, we stood in front of the pulpit and shook hands with all 247 missionaries!  It was amazing to do that and then to see them sitting together as a congregation.  During the conference, the Christensen's gave wonderful, instructive talks and advice to the missionaries and to us.
            After the conference, we drove Christensen's back to Santiago for their next appointment.  Meanwhile the missionaries picked up a bag containing their lunch of a ham and cheese sandwich, chips, soda and brownie: some got to eat on the bus, and those living in Rancagua at their apartment.  Everything went smoothly thanks to the hard work of the senior missionary couples and the assistants.
            We had thought this would be a one-time experience, but President Warne received an e-mail notifying us that we will have another conference this Friday.  Our visitors will be Elder Evans of the Missionary Department and his wife, Elder Gonzalez, the area president and his counselor Elder Zeballos.  It will be another memorable event and we had the first time to practice!
            Our family came on Tuesday and we have loved having them here and showing them around our part of Chile, plus Santiago and Viña del Mar.  They even met a few missionaries.   We are always grateful for visitors—both church leaders and family--thanks for reading.
Christensens, mission presidency counselors, Warnes

Mother, daughter, typical view of beautiful Chile



Sunday, November 9, 2014

Elder Nelson and Elder Christensen visit our mission

Greetings to you as you read this week’s blog.  I am very excited to describe the events of this weekend since they are unforgettable for us and a great blessing for all us in our mission, Chile Rancagua.
Yesterday, we went to Santiago to a luncheon with Elder Russell M. Nelson and his wife and also Elder Christensen of the Seventy and his wife.  Elder Viñas and his wife of the South America South area presidency were accompanying them.  After lunch, the women traveled by minibus to another building for a meeting with Relief Society, Primary and Young Women presidents.  I bore my testimony right after the opening prayer, and was very nervous, but after that I could enjoy the rest of the meeting.  After me, Sister Cook from the Santiago South mission, Sister Alder whose husband is president of the Santiago temple and Sister Viñas bore their testimonies.  Sister Christensen gave an amazing talk about removing stains or being more righteous, and then Sister Nelson spoke for over an hour about becoming a holy woman.  I was taking notes as fast as I could!  President Warne told me after that Elder Nelson and Christensen first shook hands with the 500 missionaries at the morning conference and then again with all of the priesthood leaders, about 250, at the afternoon meeting, very impressive and amazing, given Elder Nelson’s age. 
This morning we were able to attend stake conference for the Rancagua stake with Elder Nelson and his wife and Elder Chappe, also a Seventy.  I bore my testimony along with a very short message after the stake president.  President Warne did an amazing job with his talk.  After his wife spoke, Elder Nelson gave his talk in Spanish!  It was very inspiring to be near them and feel their spirit of love and discipleship. 
Tomorrow we have an all mission conference with Elder Christensen and his wife.  It is the first time we have gathered all the missionaries at one time and the logistics have been formidable.  Our sister who works here at the mission home made 250 brownies and 500 muffins this week.  We have 4 huge boxes of bread sitting on our dining room table right now, because tomorrow she and the senior couples will be making sandwiches for the missionaries to take with them as they travel back to their areas.  Everyone is looking forward to the opportunity to attend and learn from the Christensens.  President and I will be giving talks again also, and I’m hoping they go well.  I know President Warne will do a  great job as he always does.
The events of the weekend have been a real boost to my testimony as we have seen and heard a prophet of the Lord and those with him teach and bear witness of the gospel and the things we need to improve.  As I said in the beginning, we will remember this weekend as one of the highlights of our missionary service.

 
We will always treasure this photo

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Mission President Seminar in Argentina

            Last week, President Warne and I flew to Iguazú Falls in Argentina to attend the semiannual seminar for mission presidents.  Both the setting and the seminar were wonderful.  The Sudamerica Sur area includes 28 missions in four countries: Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay.  The purpose of the meeting is to train us and also is a chance to associate with the other presidents and wives with whom we have a lot in common but only briefly see every six months.  We learned a great deal which we are eager to share with our missionaries, both from the teaching by the area presidency and from comparing notes with the other attendees.  It is also a good opportunity to evaluate our progress and that of our mission when compared to the standards and challenges given out by Elder Gonzalez, Elder Zeballos and Elder Viñas and their wives.  We have gotten to know some amazing people who also serve as mission presidents and wives, and feel blessed to be part of that group.
            It was also an amazing opportunity to see one of the wonders of the world.  I had heard of Iguazú Falls but even the pictures can’t really do justice to the spectacle.  One day we walked two of the paths close to the falls and took a boat ride that took us even closer—yes, we were soaking wet after.  If you ever have a chance to visit, go for it.  We were able to stay an extra day after the seminar and visited an amethyst mine, with an extensive gift shop of course, and a place with a Jesuit ruin—the Jesuits worked with the native Guaraní in that area for over 100 years.
            Even though we came home exhausted and had to leave on Saturday for a stake conference in Curicó, it was a memorable experience which will help us do a better job as mission president and wife and help our missionaries be better at finding people to invite people to come to Christ and change lives.  Enjoy the pictures!

Jesuit ruins in Argentina
            
President and I at the falls


Amethysts come from bubbles in the rock
Can you imagine the sound of roaring water and the feel of the spray?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Church is true!


            Today we attended the Tupahue stake conference here in Rancagua.  As always it is a testimony to me of the inspired organization of the Church; the stake presidency was changed by following the usual process.  As the new presidency was sustained I felt the Spirit confirm that these men were called by inspiration.  It is comforting to realize that we don’t have to worry about what will happen when leaders change.  We are trying to teach the missionaries this principle through their callings and releases to be district and zone leaders and coordinadoras.
            Unexpectedly, President and I were asked to bear our testimonies.  Usually, I would need at least a week to prepare and even long, if ever, to not be nervous standing in front of that many people, especially speaking in Spanish.  Even after 16 months I am still not used to sitting on the stand.  However, I did bear a short testimony and definitely felt the Spirit helping me.  President Warne, on the other hand, spoke for 15 minutes and did a great job, talking about missionary work, of course.  I can only stand in awe of his ability to do that.
            We have 38 missionaries in this stake and most of them sang in the choir.  As I watched them sing earnestly and well, I was filled with admiration and love for them.  Our missionaries, and all the others serving worldwide are the future of the Church.  I feel strongly that as they serve they are learning and gathering the necessary strength to carry themselves, their families and the Church through these increasingly troubled times.  It is our privilege to serve with them and help them succeed in inviting the people of Christ to come unto Christ and also in forming life-long patterns of faithfulness.
            If you are reading this post as a missionary parent, I would like to thank you for sending your son or daughter to u s.  Thank you for preparing and equipping them for the mission field.  It is one of the most important things you will do for them.  Please know they are serving as our Savior wants them to do, and thank you for your prayers in our behalf.  Please have a wonderful week!

 
I went out with these sisters on Thursday, crossing this field twice.
Our hard-working assistants, (taking a selfie)
We said good-bye to this amazing missionary.  We will miss her.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Blessings of having senior missionaries


We currently have five wonderful senior couples serving here in our mission.  One couple lives in Buin where they work very hard helping members and nonmembers with family history which has been a wonderful proselyting tool.  They also teach with the missionaries, feed and transport them, or help in any way they are needed.

Another couple help with missionary living conditions.  They find new apartments, help make repairs where needed, deliver all sorts of things from mattresses to ironing boards, and have implemented standards and practices for cleaner apartments.  We have found that missionaries with clean apartments feel better, work harder and feel the Spirit more abundantly.

Our nurse does a wonderful job of training missionaries to be healthier, avoid stress and also with a wide variety of illnesses and injuries.  Her husband helps her, administers the English program for latin missionaries and looks for service opportunities.  We admire our finance elder, who keeps track of the missionaries' funds and other mission expenses-down to the fund to repair bicycles.  His wife keeps the history of the mission, handles baptismal registrations and many other administrative tasks.  The fifth couple is very involved in helping in the branch where they attend.  He serves in the branch presidency, and they often accompany missionaries to teaching appointments.  All the couples help with zone conference meals or other assignments for which we may need them.

Each couple's contribution in our mission and all missions everywhere is invaluable.  Yet when President Warne calls to see about replacing them, the answer is always--"no more available".  The blessings of serving a senior mission cannot be counted, but I would like to list a few:  together time to grow closer as a couple, the knowledge of helping to advance our Savior's kingdom, the example which is set for the family at home, the joy of serving and knowing the young missionaries; I could go on and on.

If you are in the right time of your life to serve or you know someone in that situation, I urge you to consider taking up the challenge to serve a mission or help someone else decide to go. Talk to any returned senior couple so they can personally describe their marvelous experience.  Also, if any of you are ready to help us out in Chile, we have a place for you!  Just let us know and we can coordinate through the missionary department.  Here’s hoping…!
Just a selection of great couples and former assts.

He's a great cook whenever we need him.


Totally unrelated, but so cute I couldn't resist

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Serving with joy



Sometimes it is amazing to think about how fast the weeks go by here.  Last week was especially busy because we had three zone conferences and another day of training for the new missionaries who arrived here five weeks ago.  It is amazing to see how much they have changed since their arrival.  Most have learned some Spanish and others are already speaking fluently.  They have learned a great deal about being a missionary and about both the trials and the joys of serving in the field.
The sister I would like to write about today is an experienced missionary; she goes home in one more week.  She has been an amazing influence for good here in Chile and although I don’t know the number of her baptisms or other facts, I know her and love her for her strong testimony, sweet spirit and willingness to work hard for the last 18 months.
For example, during her zone conference this week, she bore her testimony as one of the missionaries going home at the end of this transfer.  Later in the program, as a sister training leader, she gave a presentation about the gift of listening to investigators as they are being taught.  That night we attended a baptismal service in her town.  There are six missionaries in this small pueblo and they keep busy.  She gave a talk about baptism, and also led the music. 
President Warne has assigned her to challenging companions because he knew she would be able to help train them and improve their missionary experience.  As with many others of our returned missionaries, I’m sure she will be called to a leadership position and will continue to be a source of strength in her home ward or wherever she goes.  Yes, missionary work can be difficult but as our missionaries arrive, change, learn, and grow, then leave to strengthen the church wherever they are, I am so grateful to be here and have the chance to know them, love them and hopefully, help them as they serve.  Thanks for reading.
Observing practices during zone conference training
This is two zones.  The sister I talked about is on the front row.
Activity during lunch

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Conference, missionaries and testimonies

            Naturally this blog is about general conference.  As always, it was amazing.  I felt inspired and challenged by all of the talks.  I definitely have my work cut out for me.
            Each week I write a message to the missionaries for our mission web page.  As with this blog, I hope that I’m able to touch or inspire at least some of them.  It is certainly not required reading!  This week I challenged them to choose a topic from the conference talks that could help them improve some aspect of their lives, as I am also planning to do.  It is wonderful that the talks are available immediately to review and study.
            The missionaries really look forward to conference.  They hope to bring investigators or inactive members with them but the two days also serve as a renewal of their purpose in being here and a way to fill the fountain, so to speak.  I know they look forward to having the talks to aid in their personal and companion study time.
            President and I also use the time as a sort of break.  It is very peaceful to watch the sessions here without the usual challenges of driving to one or more far away branches, to attend, do interviews with missionaries or for temple recommends.    It is a little hard to get used to the sessions at 1 p.m., 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. for the priesthood session.  Last night President went to the Priesthood session broadcast at the stake building and the missionaries were happy to see him.  He said it was interesting to sing the rest hymn in Spanish when the words on the screen were in English, and the sound was English also.

            I would like to end by adding my testimony to those of the brethren, if that is not too presumptuous.  I am so grateful to have the guidance and testimonies of those men who lead the church.  I am grateful for their hard work and many years of service and sacrifice.  I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and that he is the head of the church.  I want to live my life in accordance with his commandments, and return with my family to live in His presence.  I am eternally grateful for this opportunity to serve a mission with my eternal companion here in Chile.  Hopefully, I can make a difference in the lives of the missionaries we serve with as they invite the people of Chile to come to Christ and know the joy that we feel as members of the true church.  I testify of the truth of the gospel in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Some of our great missionaries!

President Warne's pic of the Santiago temple

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Short September report


     Last week was a good one in the Chile Rancagua misión, for us especially because our son and daughter-in-law are visiting us for the week.  We have been showing them around our part of Chile and they have been very good sports about everything, including Chilean traffic quirks and trying Chilean food.  We have had empanadas and still plan to try churrasco and parrillada!  We also enjoyed attending a stake activity where each ward presented a dance.
     On another subject, we feel we are finally making progress with changing and improving our missionary houses.  Some of them were in bad enough shape that we moved them into a new house, while others were much improved with a good mold remover product and newly painted walls.  We have also replaced many stoves, refrigerators, mattresses, chairs, pillows and other life essentials.  Now we are pressing forward with a challenge to keep their house clean and a place where the Spirit will feel comfortable.
     It is amazing how fast this month has gone by.  We did special training in September in three different groups with the zone leaders, district leaders and coordinadoras.  We learned in the seminar from June this year to work with our leaders and trust them to train the missionaries in their care.  Next month we will begin our cycle over again with zone conferences.
     This post has been a bit of a hodge podge, if anyone still recognizes that saying, but please know that we are doing well, we love our missionaries and we are all working together to advance the Lord’s work here in our part of Chile.


One of the dances we saw last night, plus a nice crowd in attendance

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Dieciocho--ole!

            The days are passing rapidly here in Chile.  I saw a picture someone took of the fall leaves in Utah which can’t be right because all the trees are in their spring finery here!  We are headed for another summer Christmas; nice and hot.  Fans and camping supplies are starting to show up in the stores, and the children do not have to worry about cold or snow for Halloween.
            September in Chile also means time for Independence Day or “dieciocho”.  We have July 4 in the US and it is definitely celebrated but I want to share some of the Chilean traditions.  First, all the stores and malls and restaurants are closed for two days.  The gas station guy said they would be open but besides that everyone has time off.  This year the 18th was on Thursday which made for a nice long weekend, except for us missionaries of course.
            Nearly all the wards or branches have an activity during the three or four day period, so on Saturday we went north to Buin where a senior sister (that makes her sound old but she isn’t), was participating in one of the dance presentations.  We arrived at one even though the start time was 12, still plenty early.  After about an hour we were offered grilled kabobs and empanadas which are a specialty in Chile.  The debate is about whether they should be grilled or fried.  Naturally, President Warne and I like ours fried.  A few of the men went to a vacant lot to play a version of horseshoes which involves flinging a small barrel-shaped weight into a mud-filled box with a string stretched across the middle.  Whoever accurately throws the weight and pushes the string into the mud wins.          
         Later we watched the dancing, called the cueca.  It is very graceful and the dresses are pretty as I hope you can see from the pictures.  Our sister did a good job of representing senior missionaries.  Of course, the young missionaries are not allowed to dance but they still looked beautiful in their cueca dresses.  A man and his wife danced, then he danced with his little girl of about three or four—precious!
            As you can hopefully tell, the fiesta activity is very fluid.  People come and go, eat and visit, and participate in the various games.  We left after four hours and everyone was still going strong. 

            We allow and encourage our missionaries to attend their various ward and branch activities, since part of our purpose is to help strengthen the church wherever we are.  We also hope they will be able to bring investigators and less actives.  On the night of dieciocho, the missionaries go in an hour early, at 8:30, to avoid possible problems with inebriated patriots.  Hopefully the pictures below will help you visualize what I’ve tried to describe—enjoy.
Everyone is having a good time
Mud pit for the throwing game
The man throwing came closest
Our sister is the one in dark blue

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A snapshot of transfer day

                It is amazing that another week has passed and it is time to write this blog once again.  It is a beautiful sunny evening here in Rancagua, along with the neighbor’s dog who enjoys voicing his opinion of all who pass by.
                Last Tuesday we had cambios or transfers.  I have discussed them before but decided this time around to try to give you a picture of the day by sharing the events in a time snapshot (hopefully this works):
2:30 a.m. Assistants, secretaries, elders who are going to the airport get up; assistant calls the apartment where the sisters going home are staying to get them up also.
3:30 a.m.  Two vans with all of the above plus suitcases leave for the airport.
5:00 a.m.  Arrive at the airport, begin checking in missionaries.  President Warne gets up (or maybe earlierJ.
6:30 a.m.  Latin missionaries coming from the MTC in Santiago are ready for pick-up.  One van leaves the airport to go to the MTC.  Sister Warne gets up (finally)J.
7:00 a.m. Senior couple arrive at the church/office to open up and start preparing for the arrivals.  President loads the car with food, etc. for the breakfast served at the church.
7:30 a.m.  22 missionaries arrive at the airport from Mexico, ready to collect their luggage and get through the customs process.
7:45 a.m. Warnes arrive at the church, unload the car, start slicing bread and making sandwiches (ham and cheese), cutting apples, putting out milk boxes.
8:15 a.m.  Missionaries arrive from the MTC (6 sisters).  It looks like rain so all suitcases have to be taken inside the building.  President starts interviewing new missionaries.  They will also have their picture taken, close their Facebook account, start the visa process, and eat breakfast, and receive their orientation booklet.
8:30 a.m.  Sister missionary arrives at the airport from Provo MTC, Elder J. (senior missionary) plus two elders help her get to Rancagua around 11:oo a.m.
9:30 a.m.  22 missionaries arrive, are greeted by President and Sister Warne, begin the process.
8-10:30 a.m.  Trainers arrive (experienced missionaries assigned as companions to the newly arrived)
11:00 a.m.  Training begins: President welcomes everyone, the nurse talks about staying healthy, the finance elder explains how the money works, trainers and new companions are announced.  This introduction to missionary companionship is very important and President spends a lot of time making sure the assignments are inspired.
12:30 p.m. Time for lunch:  completos (hot dogs), chips, soda and an oatmeal fudge cookie.  We plan for two completos per missionary.  The new ones hesitate, but the regulars know to take everything that is offered because it is the only real meal of the day.
1:30 p.m.  President and I have a picture with each new missionary.  We send these to each family so they know their missionary arrived safely.  The finance elder hands out the debit cards.
2:00 p.m.  Group picture outside, first with news, then with trainers.  We begin the process of sending groups to the bus station—three trips in two cars.  We hired two vans and they each take a group.  Various companionships leave in taxis.  Luggage is everywhere but at least it is sunny.
Chaos!  but hopefully controlled chaos
New missionaries!  we love to have them come
3:30 p.m.  Finally only the secretaries, President and myself and the sister who cooks for us are left.   We load everything back into the car, and head back to the mission home, leaving the secretaries to heave a sigh of relief that we all survived the day.
gorgeous orchards in bloom coming home today from Santa Cruz



Sunday, September 7, 2014

President´s schedule

            Last week I wrote about the nurse, her husband and their many duties.  As I was thinking about what to write this week, I thought maybe you would find it interesting to read about the many responsibilities of President Warne.  I am very impressed as I see him do a great job day after day,
            We have about 240 missionaries, so every week he receives about 230 letters.  Some are long and some are short, but he reads them all.  He interviews all the missionaries every third month, but has other interviews every week.  For example since this week is our transfer, he is interviewing about 15 missionaries before they go home.  If an elder or sister has a problem, they are always welcome to call and discuss it over the phone or meet with President in person.  Also at cambio time he has the final say in whether or not missionaries will transfer and where they will go, and also reads the applications for the new group coming in and pairs each one with a trainer.
            Obviously, he is in charge of training for the mission.  The assistants help decide the subjects to be presented at the various meetings, such as zone conferences or the mission leadership meeting, but President follows the Spirit to know what will help the missionaries do better.  These meetings require planning and so we have meetings with the assistants, plus a weekly office coordination meeting.   He is responsible for the success of the mission, i.e., baptisms, retention and activation.  He receives many reports from the mission, districts, stakes, area presidency, and general church leadership to analyze and then utilize. 
            Our mission has three districts and President Warne and his two counselors are very involved in helping them grow and eventually, hopefully, become stakes.  He has many of the responsibilities a stake president would have, such as temple recommend interviews, setting apart new missionaries and dealing with various obedience issues.  He has an obligation to develop close relationships with the three district and four stake presidents and cooperate with them in managing missionary work in their respective areas, which usually means a meeting at least once a month. 
            In more temporal areas, he must approve every financial transaction that takes place such as rent payments or ordering new mission supplies.  He makes sure that our missionaries’ houses are safe, and in good shape.  He has final say over medical problems and makes the decision if a missionary needs to return home to recover.

            With all these balls to juggle, it is no wonder that his hair is a little bit grayer than when we came.  I try my best to help where I can, but often he must bear the burden and in my opinion, does it extremely well.  Thanks for reading!
Scenery pics this week--Santiago temple
Gorgeous sunsets here-taken last night from an upstairs window

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Thanks for serving

          We’ve had another change, which as you know in a mission is just life as usual.  Tonight we took a senior couple to the airport.  She served as the nurse and he worked in several areas: helping Latin missionaries learn English, apartment cleanliness and making sure emergency backpacks were filled and distributed to each missionary.  She spent many hours on the phone, waiting in emergency departments, and going to doctor’s appointments with various missionaries.  Together, they traveled the mission by bus to deliver medicines or other necessary supplies.  They were amazing in these areas and we will miss them very much.
          However, that was just part of how they served.  The elder played for sacrament meetings and for the choir in their ward, including the choir stake conference.  He was also called as a ward clerk.  She sang in the choir and supported the ward in many other ways: they both attended ward activities and correlation meetings.  They often visited ward members including those with challenges and also went out with the missionaries.  They fed the missionaries too many times to count. They were also great at planning get togethers for the senior couples which provided a much needed chance to relax and be together as a group. 
          Another reason to be impressed is that when they arrived 18 months ago, they didn’t speak a word of Spanish, yet today they both gave excellent and spiritual talks in Spanish.  They struggled, worked and progressed in many different areas during the time they were here and most amazing of all is that they are already thinking about another mission!  They serve as an example to all of us of how hard work and the Lord’s help can help us grow, change and do things we never thought we would.  I’m sending heartfelt thanks and love to this wonderful couple, the others with whom we serve now and have served.  Thank you!


Totally unrelated, but it was a great temple trip.
 
Thanks and good-bye to a great couple

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The day missionaries leave

This week I heard from actual blog readers!  Thank you for letting me know; I appreciate your feedback.  This week, I am going to outline a typical day for missionaries going home.

The final day is always a Monday. This time we had lots of missionaries here because 15 were leaving.  Some of the companions who accompanied them stayed a little longer to say good-bye to others.  The assistants and secretaries and comisarios came to help get everyone and their luggage to the airport.  One of the senior couples was here to take the group picture and collect bank cards and extra cash.

It was definitely an active scene with some missionaries giving last hugs, while others worked to get their suitcases to the correct weight.  President Warne spent the morning interviewing those who were leaving, while I, with a couple of sisters, made a trip to Jumbo (grocery store) because we needed a few extra ingredients for the lunch.

Our tradition is to have a nice lunch or almuerzo in the dining room with those leaving, while the office elders and senior couple have the same meal in the kitchen.  Yes, it gets pretty crowded in there.  This group was a little different because we had 14 sisters and 1 elder.  He was a good sport about being there on his own.  We had delicious Chilean-style ribs, mashed potatoes, broccoli, rolls, and a dessert which is a specialty of our cook.  She calls it terramoto, which means earthquake; chocolate cake, with a coconut and nut base served with ice cream, chocolate sauce and whipped cream.  I'm pretty sure no one left hungry!

After lunch we have a testimony meeting which is always my favorite part.  This group of sisters is unique because they are the first group who came after the age change announcement and now they have finished and returned home.  Of course I love all the missionaries but it was a privilege to associate with these wonderful missionaries who chose to serve and were excited to be able to go at 19.

The traditional going home picture in the front yard.
As soon as we finish testimonies, it is time to load missionaries and suitcases and head to the airport in Santiago.  The flights are scheduled so that Americans and Mexicans leave and fly overnight, while all the others leave the next day.  They spend their last evening visiting former areas here in Rancagua and perhaps doing some teaching.

At the airport we try to keep everyone organized as we shepherd them through check-in.  We gather for a final group picture, last hugs and usually a few tears, and send them through the door towards security.  This group went home a few days early so that most of them could start school on time which means that we will repeat the whole process again in two weeks, although usually it happens every six weeks. 

Now, hopefully, you can picture leaving day, and also, hopefully, you enjoyed hearing about it!