Sunday, December 27, 2015

Christmas #3

            For our third Christmas we again delivered cookies to seventy-five percent of the missionaries.  Now that it is the last time everything went so smoothly!  Isn’t that the way things usually happen?  We spent Thursday getting the trays ready then left at 8:00 Christmas morning and returned home at 2:30.  It was so great to be able to greet each zone we visited and express our love for them.  President told them we were with them as our family in the mission field; just no presents:).  We appreciate the senior couple who took the trays to Talca and Curico and we appreciate the missionaries’ understanding the need to change district meeting to Christmas Day so we could make our deliveries.
            President worked hard to make sure everyone would get a chance to speak with family even if not exactly on Christmas Day, so even though a few had problems they were calm because they knew they could still try again another time.  Every one we have asked reported that they really enjoyed their calls and we also enjoyed the chance to visit with family on Christmas afternoon and evening.
            We are so grateful to be here with these missionaries.  It is hard to describe the love we felt as we shook hands and gave hugs in each place we visited.  Being on a mission at Christmas time can be hard, but we encourage them to reach out and serve.  As they focus on others, miracles happen. 

            We took a picture with each group so I’ll share a couple of them.  I hope that each of you also had a wonderful holiday.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Feliz Navidad, 2015

      Here we are in the week of Christmas already.  Like all the months in the mission, December has flown by.  Missionaries often tell me that the days can pass very slowly, but the weeks disappear.   Often part of a missionary's final testimony is a comment about how long the time seemed at the beginning of their mission and then how astonished they are that it is already time to depart.
       As I have mentioned before this is our third Christmas and we are feeling a little nostalgic already.  We have about six months left to serve, and have begun planning activities and meetings for January, February and beyond.  We very much want to finish strongly and do everything we can to advance the Lord´s work during this final period of our mission.

        Some of our goals include visiting each branch one more time, reading the Book of Mormon before conference as we’ve been challenged by the area presidency, and working with the missionaries more closely through divisions and training.  We have two couples who will finish their time in 2016 and are also grateful for the two couples who are coming.  We feel the church is wise in calling mission presidents for three years--it will be good for a new president with fresh ideas and energy to come in and take our place.  Our goal is that at the end of June when we get on the plane, we will be sad about leaving Chile, the missionaries and the members, but we will have no regrets about our service.  Now I want to wish you a very good week and a wonderful Christmas.  Many thanks for supporting the blog.
  We said
good-bye to one hermana on Monday and hello to a new one
on Tuesday.

First day for new missionaries--small group this time!
One hermana, and five elders--we are very happy to welcome them.
We also had new leader training this week; these are our
amazing new coordinadoras.  Finally watermelon is

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Tender mercies

            This week I wanted to start by thanking those who comment.  This is embarrassing but I haven’t figured out how to respond to them privately so I’m doing it now—thanks!
I would like to share with you a few thoughts from the talk I gave at the Christmas zone conferences, as well as the challenge I gave them.  I based my talk on one by Elder David A. Bednar called “The Tender Mercies of the Lord”.  It is a great talk and well worth your time if you would care to read it. 
            Elder Bednar quotes part of a scripture, 1 Nephi 1:20, which talks about tender mercies and how the Lord is anxious to grant them.  I gave some examples of tender mercies from my own life, for example, my calling before the mission was as Relief Society pianist which has been a huge blessing as I often play for various branches or baptisms.  Another example is the help I have had in learning Spanish; even though it still isn’t great, I am way better than I was when we came to Chile.
            Then I asked the missionaries to volunteer examples from their own lives or missions and it was wonderful to hear them.  A few talked about their companions and how blessed they feel to have had them.  Others mentioned events that helped them with an investigator or other teaching opportunities.
            At the end I asked the missionaries to find ways to be a tender mercy for someone during this holiday season as they listen to the Spirit to know what they should do.  I know they are dedicated to serving every day, but I know also that they will have a memorable Christmas time as they find special ways to serve their companions, investigators, recent converts and the members.  I’d like to leave you with that same challenge: you too can make a difference this season.  It doesn’t take money or need to be complicated but you can be a tender mercy for someone in your life. 

different faces, same place, right?  lunch after the games
maybe you can see there are several different groups
Enjoying the video after lunch
waiting for their turn at kickball/baseball
a practice during the training meeting on Friday--and you can
see the tree!
the assistants are teaching and the one elder is sneaking a peek

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Christmas time is here again

This week’s pictures are all going to be from the Christmas zone conferences.  I wrote a whole post about them last year, and this year’s program is the same so if you need more details, please look up that one.  Even my talk is the same with a few additions.  The talk I am using is from Elder Bednar, April, 2005, about the tender mercies of the Lord.   It is a great talk and after I give a few examples of tender mercies I have experienced, I ask the missionaries to share a few of their own.  It is so great to be able to understand their answers and enjoy what they are sharing.
This year we went back to the first year format for the video and had each missionary send in three pictures from which the secretaries put together a 40 minute presentation.  The missionaries love seeing former companions and the sometimes silly poses others think of.  We give each missionary a copy of the DVD and hope that when they watch it they will remember good things about their mission and the great people they learned to know while they were here.
The secretaries also included a few of the bloopers from when President and I attempted to record a Christmas message the first year we were here.  I am grateful to realize that my Spanish speaking abilities have improved and that I can laugh at how bad it was then.  He and I will certainly never make it to the big screen!

This is a short post but please enjoy the pictures as much as the missionaries enjoy participating in the Christmas zone conferences.
We try to structure the games so the sisters have as much fun
as the elders.  These elders look pretty focused!

Our intrepid and talented elder who takes charge of the menu
while we are doing the rest of the meeting.  This year we are
grilling hamburgers.  It is part of the formidable logistics plan
 to take the grill from our house to each conference.

What a beautiful group of missionaries, right after the talks, music
and videos and right before they change to play the games.

They are thrilled to receive packages from home.

With the mission book (missionary listing), DVD, First Presidency
Christmas card, packages, etc., their arms are full!

Each conference features a special musical number and these five
did a beautiful job.

Happy elders waiting for the program to start.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Time to be grateful

Along with all of you during the Thanksgiving week, I have been counting my blessings.  Wow, I have a lot of them!  However, I would like to focus on one of the big ones.  It is hard to believe we just had our third Thanksgiving here in Chile.  As the other years, we had Thanksgiving dinner with the other senior couples.  It was delicious and a real privilege to spend time with our hard-working senior missionaries.  They labor every day to serve the missionaries in temporal ways so the missionaries can serve more effectively, safely, healthfully and hopefully with cleaner houses!

            When we arrived in Chile, seven couples were serving.  We appreciated that fact but did not realize how rare it was.  Our numbers have gradually reduced until now we have three couples and one will not be replaced so we will leave only two to the new president and wife.  That number is still a tremendous benefit since many missions have none.
            Another part of this grand blessing is the friendships we have formed with these couples.  As we all work together (and separately) we learn to rely on each other and the Lord. The experiences we share cannot be easily explained or replaced in any other situation.  We are also united in our admiration and love for the young missionaries.  While we understand that they are young and not perfect (obviously a trait we all share), to see their dedication, testimony and growth during their time here changes and strengthens us.
            Every full time missionary has made the decision to sacrifice time, family and other pursuits to serve the Lord.  I am not trying to minimize or criticize anyone since we are all engaged in the process of living worthily in order to return to our heavenly home, but I am trying to express gratitude for this opportunity and to urge each person who reads this blog to think about serving when the time is right or to encourage and support someone else who is ready.  Thanks for your support of us and our missionaries.

Yes, it is consejo time again.  The missionaries had to hold on
to the tablecloths to keep them from blowing away.
This group moved their table to the shade.  It is definitely summer time.

Lovely coordinadoras

Since it was the day after Thanksgiving we had turkey dinner
without quite as many side dishes.

After our dinner with a great view of Rancagua in the background

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Beginning again

            I’m not sure if anyone is reading this since I did not post for two weeks.  For those of you who have checked back, sorry about that.  I did not have missionary activities to write about since we were in Utah.  However, President’s surgery went very well, he is almost entirely recovered and we returned home on Thursday.
            We were very grateful to be able to see our family and they surprised us with a delicious Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday of the weekend we were all together.  It was very hard to leave them again even though we really missed our missionaries and constantly worried about their welfare.
            We arrived back in Chile on Thursday and were able to attend a meeting Friday morning with Elder Quentin L. Cook, Elder Ulises Soares, Elder Walter Gonzalez and their wives.  The mission presidents from Santiago, ViƱa del Mar and us attended in person while the other presidents and wives from the area attended by videoconference.  We were encouraged to teach the missionaries to continue to work in the three areas of the work of salvation, and also to encourage them to set an example for the youth in the units where they are serving.  The youth have so many temptations and opportunities to stray and we need to help them remain strong and hopefully serve missions in their turn.
            It is a privilege for us to serve in Chile with missionaries who have chosen to serve the Lord while putting aside their worldly concerns.  We try to send them home ready to serve while they return to school or work and start families.  Thank you to you families who have raised them to be worthy to serve and support them while they are here.

            While we were home we hosted an open house for all of our returned missionaries.  We knew that only those in the local area would be able to attend but we were thrilled to see and visit with those who came.  They are doing good things and setting examples in their post mission lives—fulfilling one of our most important purposes, which is to keep them in the fold forever.  It is good to be back—see you next week.

brand new companions

the favorite part of the meeting--finding companions

all the trainers

all the new missionaries

zone training

one more--new companions

Sunday, November 1, 2015

"la semana loca"

            The week before transfers is always a bit crazy and this was no different.  Our name for it with the office elders is “la semana loca” which means crazy week.  The term also includes Monday and Tuesday of this week because of the final dinner with those going home, the new ones who arrive on Tuesday, plus the transfers for the regular missionaries.
            Just to sum up the week:  the temple trip on Tuesday was amazing as always plus we had the privilege of a short meeting after the session with the temple president and his wife.  Consejo on Thursday is always a great chance to interact with and teach the mission leaders so they can, in turn, teach and train the elders and sisters in their charge.  The training meeting on Friday for new missionaries is great for us and them since we retell them everything we said when they came—hopefully this time they recognize the importance of what we are teaching—and they get to reconnect with friends from the MTC.
            Today we were in Santa Cruz for district conference.  The missionaries from the zone sang as the choir.  Last night and today they sang and did a wonderful job.  Tomorrow President will do final interviews; we’ll have the final dinner and testimony meeting for ten missionaries and then on Tuesday we receive eight new elders and sisters.
            I’ve included all these details because I wanted to share with you the activities of la semana loca and because of the unusual event happening this week.  President Warne needs to have surgery—not serious—so after we send the new missionaries off with their trainers we are leaving for Utah.  After the operation and a hopefully short recovery, we will return to Rancagua.

            In our absence, a temporary president and wife will take our place.  We have tried to take care of as many things as possible, but please be assured that your missionary will be in good care during our absence.  Even though we haven’t even left yet, we are anxious to return to our mission and our missionaries.  Thanks for your support.
These sisters are enjoying me prepare the snack for self sufficiency
training.  What a great looking group!

How many elders does it take to put up a pergola?  Answer:
obviously, seven!

I introduced  this sister to a new toy--an apple parer.
She loved it and was a great help at the same time

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Meals and missionaries

            As I was scanning old posts looking for inspiration, I realized I have duplicated a few pictures, so sorry about that.  If I have also duplicated subjects, I apologize for that, too.  President was trying to give me suggestions about different aspects of mission life to cover, but I told him I have just about analyzed every single facet of mission life I can think of.  By the time we go home, some of them will have been covered two or three times, so thanks for your patience.
            This is that last week of the transfer when we try to cover a lot of ground before the cambios next week.  On Monday the missionaries are supposed to do a deep cleaning of their house or apartment and have an inspection by either the zone leaders or a coordinadora.  I am certain that your missionary would benefit from any cleaning suggestions you might send them.  Also, on Monday night all the missionaries who are going home come to the mission home for training about being self-sufficient. 
            Since A_____ is still out I will be doing a lot of cooking this week.  I will serve a snack after Monday's training, a light breakfast and then lunch after we go to the temple on Tuesday, again with those going home.  Wednesday we will do our last session of family history training in Santa Cruz; thank goodness I already have the cookies in the freezer. 
            Thursday is mission leadership meeting, which includes breakfast and lunch, and I am making our lives a little easier by serving pizza; always a hit with the missionaries.  Friday we are meeting with all the new missionaries and their trainers from this transfer, which again requires breakfast and lunch.  I have figured that with all the activities of the week, we will be serving around 230 individual meals, not including Wednesday’s cookies.  Thankfully, the senior couples are always a huge help.

            The missionaries are always very appreciative of the food they receive no matter what it is.  A couple of sisters told me today about the times they have had pig feet and chicken feet for almuerzo.  It is one reason why we try to have a delicious, nutritious, and slightly less adventurous meal whenever we feed missionaries.  See you next week.

One missionary in each zone is training the others about
Family History.  It is going well.

The missionaries are fascinated to see each other's family
trees in Family Search

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Seminar in Uruguay

            The subject of this post will be a little different since we were at the mission president’s seminar in Uruguay.  I hope you will enjoy a short report on our experience.  It does affect the missionaries because we come back ready to share what we learned at the seminar, and also with ideas to improve both our service and that of the missionaries.
            The seminar is held twice a year as I’ve said before; last year in October we went to Iguazu Falls in Argentina.  This year we went to Punta del Este, Uruguay, a beautiful coastal resort town on the Atlantic.  One of the major benefits of the seminar is the chance we have to be with other presidents and wives.  We exchange experiences, laugh together and enjoy being with friends we don’t see often but who are “in the same boat” as we are.
            The purpose of the seminar is for the area presidency to present information we need to improve ourselves and our missions.  They help keep us firmly on the right track and let us know of their concerns about how the South America South area is doing.  They teach us how to be better missionaries because like our young missionaries our focus is inviting people to come to Christ and be baptized.
            After, laughing together, eating delicious food, learning how to improve and feeling the spirit testify of the truth of what we are doing we have come home renewed and ready to work harder here in our part of the Lord’s vineyard.

            I hope you'll enjoy some of our photos from the seminar and next week I promise to have pictures of missionaries!

The wind blew fiercely much of the time.
We enjoyed a tour of the city--that is why we are casually dressed.

Punta del Este is a peninsula with the River Plata on one side
and the Atlantic on the other.

Our hotel--we were on the 15th floor so we had a great view.

A sculpture of five fingers coming out of the sand.  And the wind, again!

An amazing sunset and back to work after a great seminar

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Focus on Family Search

            We really enjoyed conference last week and we are really grateful for the technology that allowed us to listen and watch each session as it was broadcast.  The priesthood session did not start until 9:00 with the three hour time difference; President went to San Fernando to be with the missionaries and members there so he didn’t get home until 12:00 a.m.  He said it was worth it to be there and they were thrilled to see him.
            We have been counseled that our focus should be not just on baptism but baptism as a necessary step toward the temple.  We presented this concept in our mission leadership council for September, so every missionary then heard about it in their district meeting last week. 
            Since October is our month for specialized training, President decided we would meet with each zone and have a presentation by a missionary about how to create an account in Family Search and some basic information about adding or finding names.  Then each person had a short time to find their account and make sure they could access it.  They also have an extra hour in the cyber this week to work in their account.  Of course, we have a wide range from families with most of the work done to new converts who have their name and little more.  The point is that they will be able to share this concept with their recent converts and recently activated members.  Even investigators can create an account and start working on their family history.  We are hoping to see an increase in temple attendance by the members in our mission, even for baptisms which can be done as a family with the older children.

            We met with four of the eleven zones this week and really enjoyed each meeting.  I hope the missionaries enjoyed it as well.   We rewarded them with cookies as they left, which they are always happy to receive.  We are always happy when we can be with the missionaries, so we had a great week.  I hope you did also. 

Missionaries accessing family search in the mission office

This elder is explaining family search to one of the Tupahue zones

Sunday, October 4, 2015

It's a picture week!

            I’m assuming that most of you who are reading this post have been enjoying the conference this weekend.  It has been inspiring and uplifting and also a call to improve and do better.  Rather than try and cram an additional message into the mix, I am going to just send pictures for you to enjoy.  But please remember—we love our missionaries and we are so grateful for this time to serve with and be with them.