Monday, March 31, 2014

Missionaries Training

In previous posts, I have mentioned more than once that missionary work involves lots of training.  Today I would like to talk about the missionaries and what a great job they do of training each other.

Each week missionaries meet together for training.  Once a month the zone leaders present the topics we discussed in the mission leadership council.  The district leaders teach during the other three weeks.  It is amazing to see the dedication and talent shown by these leaders.  They have a clear focus in helping missionaries report on and be accountable for their investigators.  District and zone leaders also teach their respective groups how to be better missionaries: finding, teaching, baptizing.

In the last two training sessions we have held for zone leaders and coordinadoras, they have been assigned to present various topics.  Without exception, they have done amazing jobs.  I had not realized before that one of the benefits of a mission is learning to teach not just investigators, but also other missionaries.  In yesterday’s special training for zone leaders, one elder taught how to effectively train a district leader and another covered how to hold an effective district meeting.

These young men and women are dedicated to the Savior and His work, and in doing so they are blessed as they mature into leaders and teachers who can return home to serve in home wards and branches.  They are the future of the church and we are so grateful for the opportunity to know and serve with them.

This is a picture of four of our amazing Coordinadoras from a recent training session. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Missionaries come and go

     The activities of the last few days of our mission life occur every six weeks.  We call them cambios or transfers.  It is one of the most difficult times because we must say good-bye to those we have come to love.  On the other hand we are happy because we are sending home missionaries who have grown and matured spiritually.  We have a final dinner with all the missionaries who are leaving and then each has an opportunity to bear their testimony.  It is a special and unique gathering, where we hear from those who have faithfully served the Lord for eighteen months or two years.  Almost universally they testify about how it has changed their lives for the better and how they want to continue serving when they return home.
     This time around is especially bittersweet because one of our senior couples is also returning home.  They are finishing their third mission and have definitely had a positive impact on us and all the missionaries here.  It is amazing that they have been willing to leave home and family three times, in three different countries in order to serve where called.  We are so grateful we have known them for the nine months we have been here.
     The other side of the coin is the fact that this week we get to greet our new missionaries.  We have welcomed the couple who is replacing the one mentioned above.  They came ready to work and are already doing a great job.  On Tuesday, twelve new missionaries arrive from the MTC in Santiago, ready to begin finding and teaching the people of Chile.  It is amazing to see these “news”, as we call them, remember the ones who have gone home and realize the growth of spirit and character they will experience during their mission.  We appreciate the chance to be here with them and hopefully, positively influence their lives.   Thanks for reading, and for supporting missionaries wherever you may be.

Missionaries coming and going

Our hardworking new office couple!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Earthquakes in Chile

We have had an interesting experience three times in the last two weeks.  We have felt temblors as we call them here in Chile or earthquakes as we say in the US.  The earthquake "season" was supposed to be between November and February, but we didn't have even a shiver.  The last temblor was yesterday, so apparently, any time is possible.  The strengths have been between 5.4 and 5.8 which, in Chile is usually noted and dismissed.  The earthquake here in 2010 was 8.8, just about the strongest ever recorded.

One missionary called this week because a member in his ward had told him to be prepared for the coming 11.0 terramoto and he wanted to know if that was true.  We told him not to worry because as far as we have heard, earthquakes cannot be scheduled nor their strength predicted.  However, I would like to make a few comments about our preparations for emergencies such as this.  Each missionary, including us, has an emergency backpack with supplies, including food, water, a flashlight, etc.

We also have an emergency plan for the mission, which President Warne recently updated. We are planning to remind or retrain the missionaries of this plan.  Basically, missionaries are supposed to remain in their houses, if possible, until told to gather elsewhere.  District leaders and zone leaders are to contact those for whom they have responsibilities and report back to President.  The office elders, including senior couples will work with the President to ascertain the status of each missionary and decide the best path forward based on the current circumstances.

If you are a parent reading this blog, please feel assured that we will do everything possible to protect and care for your missionary.  For everyone else, hopefully you found it to be of at least academic interest.  The sister who works here at the mission home says that it didn’t even move during the 2010 quake; it is basically a concrete box, which is why we have so many internet problems, but that is another story.  Hopefully we are not destined to have another huge quake, but we are as prepared as we can be. 
Our concrete box mission home!  We think it is beautiful

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Missionary choir

You may remember I mentioned attending a district conference last week in San Fernando.  It is definitely the season for conferences because today we went to Buin for another one.

The district is big enough that six months ago they turned people away even after all the missionaries moved into the hall to give room for others attending.  This time, three other rooms were set up with televisions and sound from the chapel.

We take this for granted in the US because it is so commonplace.  However, here in Chile it is something of a miracle.  Church employees from Santiago have been working on it for months.  Of course, we are hoping that eventually we will have so many who want to attend that we will have to broadcast to other buildings, and in time, a true miracle, which would be to once again have a stake here in Buin.

The speakers were great today, with timely messages.  President Warne spoke about the laws of tithing and fasting, including fast offerings, which are a real challenge for members here in Chile.  However, for real growth, including becoming a stake, obedience to this law is crucial.

Finally, I would like to mention the missionary choir who sang “La OraciĆ³n del Profeta” or “Oh How Lovely Was the Morning”.  It was incredibly moving to listen to these young people express their testimony by singing this song so beautifully.  I really wish I had been able to record it so I could listen to it many times.

We are so grateful for our missionaries.  They are amazing, hardworking and they sing really well!  Thank you for your support of missionaries wherever you are.  By feeding them, giving them references or going out to teach with them, you are helping to advance the work.  Thanks for reading!  See you next week.
Buin church, two great elders and a prospective elder!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Real growth in San Fernando

Today we attended a district conference in San Fernando, which was really amazing.  The speakers were great and a youth choir sang a medley of I Am A Child Of God and Called To Serve.  It was very inspiring.  Probably as I can understand more each time, I am able to learn more.

But I don't have to understand each talk to feel the Spirit and also feel the spirit of the people in Chile.  Today I felt strongly that they are working hard to improve themselves and grow in the gospel just as members do everywhere.

Members in Chile have challenges which are perhaps unique to this country, such as not having cars when the meetings are far away. As we came into the parking lot we saw members getting out of the bus hired to transport them from the distant towns.  Another difficulty is that many are returning from inactivity or are new members who need to relearn or learn for the first time the doctrines of salvation.

Our missionaries are working hard to help members, recent converts and returning inactives to be strong and to make the church in Chile even stronger.  The church leaders talk about real growth and I have come to understand what that phrase means.  It means not just baptizing, or reactivating but making sure these people stay in the church who then, in turn, serve.  In this way, we can help our Savior as he has asked us to do.

We are serving here in Chile, but each has responsibilities to serve wherever they may be.  We pray that you may also look around you and see those who are ready to embrace the joy of knowing our Savior and the happiness to be found in knowing revealed truths.  Blessings will follow as you pray for help and find people for the missionaries to teach.
Just a few of our fabulous missionaries