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 Curic√≥ for Curic√≥ 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.