Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sealing in Santiago

            This week was full of interviews (Tuesday through Friday) and other meetings, plus as always lots of travel time.  We know our section of Ruta 5 very well.  But we also enjoyed being part of a memorable experience on Thursday night.
            As I listed a couple of weeks ago, we have missionaries from various parts of Chile.  One elder from Santiago is a great missionary who has been serving as a commissary elder, which means he and his companion help to maintain apartments, and deliver supplies ranging from ironing boards and irons to pamphlets and Liahonas.  When we find a new apartment, they do the work of closing out the old one and returning it to the owner.
            While he has been serving, his family progressed to the point where they could be sealed in the temple.  It was a unique situation where the elder was close enough to return for this very special occasion.  We drove with him and a companion to the temple as the family had very kindly invited us also to be there.
            It was a wonderful experience to see the parents sealed in marriage and then the children sealed to the parents for eternity.  Sister ____ could not stop smiling; our elder told me she had been waiting for this day for 20 years.   Of course the other family members were also beaming.  This occasion has been a real example of hope for many of our missionaries who come from similar situations—hope that this could happen in their families also. 

            Among the routine and challenges of everyday life, it was a good opportunity for me to appreciate how the Lord has blessed this family and stands ready to bless me, my family and everyone who is willing to keep the commandments and commit to follow Him.  Other missionaries have experienced similar miracles:  a father was baptized, another father attended church again after many years, and siblings become interested in serving missions; missionary service is marvelous!  See you next week.

Very happy occasion!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Missionaries are wonderful

            This week has been full of activities: transfers, missionaries returning home and interviews.  Two sets of parents arrived to collect daughters and we enjoyed visiting with them.
            While missionaries are waiting for interviews, either at the mission home or in various chapels, I often have a chance to visit one on one or with a small group.  This opportunity is a privilege for me because at first I didn’t understand or speak enough Spanish to carry on a conversation.  Also, at meetings with 50 or more, or during the organized chaos of new arrivals it is virtually impossible to have a meaningful conversation.
            However, when I can get to know the missionaries individually, (they are very understanding when I ask the same question multiple times), I am continually impressed by their character, dedication and testimony.  They often say, “I want to do only what the Lord would have me do.”   They speak with love about their families and I realize again the sacrifices being made by each missionary and their families.  For example, one elder was working full time to help support his family.  He told me that at first, after he left, his mother really struggled, but now is doing well.  A sister missionary sacrificed three years of school to serve even though now she will have to start over.  Of course, many have postponed school or other activities to serve.
            None of us are perfect, but as President and I watch our missionaries work hard, sacrifice much, encounter miracles and grow stronger in both faith and testimony, our testimonies are also strengthened and we realize again what an amazing blessing we have to be able to serve with and know these amazing young people.  We are working hard every day to hasten the work of salvation here in Chile.  Thanks for reading.

Enjoying lunch after special training for zone leaders, coordinadoras and district leaders--90 missionaries!
Our latest group of new missionaries--26 this time
zone leaders enjoying being together for leadership council

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Mission stats and dats

            As I was thinking what to write about today, I went back and reviewed many of the older posts.  It seems to me I have definitely covered every aspect of missionary life at least once and several twice.  This week we have cambios or transfers and since that comes up every six weeks, I’m sure I don’t need to describe it again.   Also we are about to start interviews again, which I have also explained.  In short, mission life involves lots of changes but they occur in a regular and predictable schedule.
            However, since missionaries are still people, a wide variety of personalities, traditions and countries is represented.  It is an ongoing testimony strengthener to me that such a disparate group can bond together for the purpose of preaching the gospel.  Of course, it is due to the blessings of the Savior that missionaries can come, learn, grow, preach and baptize and return home to strengthen the church in their own wards and branches.
             Right now we have 242 missionaries, or we will again after Tuesday when 27 arrive.  181 are elders and we have 62 sisters, which is way down from our peak when we had 104 sisters.  Missionaries come from Argentina-8, Bolivia-1, Brazil-10, Chile-11, Colombia-7, Ecuador-4, El Salvador-1, Guatemala-3, Korea-1, Mexico-9, Nicaragua-1, Panama-2, Paraguay-2, Peru-30, Spain-3 and Uruguay-4.  Utah, of course is well represented as is Idaho.  We have 11 from Arizona-the same as from Chile plus three more who will arrive on Tuesday, plus various other states.
            As missionaries arrive from different countries, cultures and traditions, it is a real adjustment to learn to live 24/7 with a companion who is completely different.  However, the miracle is that for the most part they do it very well.  The common denominator, of course, is the purpose for which they came and the blessings they receive day to day.  We are grateful each day to be here with them and watch them grow even stronger in their faith and testimony.  Thanks for the comments about the blog you send with your missionaries and for sending them to serve the Lord here in Chile.

This board in President's office has all the missionaries' pictures

Seems like I show a lot of the go home groups at the temple, but here is the latest.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

New Year's Reflections

            This past week in the Chile Rancagua Mission was very peaceful, in contrast to the weeks leading up to Christmas.  I’m guessing it was the same situation for almost everyone.  Now after the holiday week, we have enjoyed the chance to slow down a little, catch our breath and prepare for the New Year.
            As I have said before missions run on distinct time schedules: 18 months and 2 years of service for missionaries, a six week transfer cycle and so on.  We have been here in Chile for 18 months, which is the halfway point for us.   I refer to this because we have been reflecting on how fast the time has gone and how much we have left to learn in order to leave here satisfied with our level of service as mission president and wife.   
            I have also been thinking about my goals for 2015.  It is sometimes considered cliché to have goals but I am determined to better myself and be a better disciple of Jesus Christ.  We often challenge the missionaries to become more like the Savior, although we recognize that it is a lifelong challenge.  Still, the mission is a unique opportunity to focus on service, recognize and rely on the Spirit and I could go on and on. 

            Even with the many distractions of family, work and other pursuits, anyone can set a goal to progress toward more spirituality, more dedication to scripture reading or whatever is needed.  As the missionaries work hard this year to become better, will you accept the challenge also?  Let’s work together to become better people; and when we achieve our goals we will be closer to becoming true disciples of our Savior.  Thanks for reading and Feliz Año Nuevo!

Can you stand a few more Christmas pictures?  It has been so peaceful we don't have new ones.

A group of smiling elders--they love completos (hot dogs)!

This  group  left on December 18, a few weeks early, in order to start school or work