Sunday, March 29, 2015

Typical mission week

            Last week we had a lot of fun here in the mission.  Is that allowed?  It was also much more peaceful than the week before.  The planning and pressure stemming from the mission tour with the Zeballos were over and we had a chance to catch our breath and catch up.
            Since we divided the mission into two conferences (normally we would have had 4-5) we had extra days this week and decided to meet with zone leaders.  We took the assistants with us and held a sort of informal conversation or discussion about their concerns or questions and President also asked for commitments in a couple of areas where the mission needs to improve.  We rely on the zone leaders extensively to guide their zones both by example and by teaching, including what they learn during the mission leadership council.  We also shared lunch, then hopefully left them encouraged and rededicated to improve both themselves and their zone.
            Last Monday we took one of our senior couples to the airport, and tomorrow we will take another couple.  We are very grateful for their service, sacrifice--all the good they accomplished here in the last 18 months.  We have only one new couple coming as a replacement, so, while we are very happy to welcome them, President is having a hard time deciding to which of the many possible areas they should be assigned.  That answer will come through the Spirit but we will keep hoping, along with all the missions I know of, and I’m sure many more, that we will receive more help in the form of more senior couples.

            In short, it was a typical mission week, full of training, challenges and changes.  We love it here and recognize that the time is passing by faster and faster.  We have so much left to accomplish but thanks for your support, in whatever form it takes—Thank you!
One of our zone leader lunches this week--what a great group.
They have only been gone a week, but we sure miss them.
A fun p-day lunch out with the senior couples

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Mission tour 2015

     Last week was very stressful but also very inspiring.  We had our yearly mission tour, this time with Elder and Sister Zeballos.  Elder Zeballos is the first counselor in the area presidency so we have met them several times, but it was a great experience to have them here in our mission.
     We had zone conferences on Wednesday and Thursday which meant that the missionaries in Buin, Rancagua, San Fernando, and Santa Cruz attended the Wednesday conference in Rancagua, and then those in Curico and Talca attended Thursday in Talca.
     It was definitely a logistical challenge because we served a lunch of spaghetti with a cookie for dessert after the conference; 160 on Wednesday and 94 on Thursday.  A_____ cooked 150 pounds of hamburger on Monday, and finished the first batch of sauce on Tuesday.  Cooling it down Tuesday night was a challenge--we used both refrigerators, our big ice chest and finally the freezer.  She made the second batch of sauce Wednesday night, cooked the pasta Thursday morning and then two of the office elders drove the two hours to Talca to deliver it in time for lunch.  We also had to rent buses to bring missionaries to the conference location.  To accommodate that many missionaries traveling at one time would have been a real challenge for  the local system.
     The conferences were definitely worth the logistical challenges.  I spoke about focusing on Christ, President talked about spiritual conversion, Hermana Zeballos talked about being happy serving a mission, remembering who we are and who we represent, listening to the Holy Ghost as a teacher, we need to have a vision of what people can become, search the scriptures, not just study them and we should meditate before and after prayer.  Elder Zeballos told us that faith, hope and charity are important even for missionaries, and also that we can't always see what is ahead of us, but we must recognize that when we overcome a challenge, the Lord often has something else waiting for us in order to make us even stronger.  Their talks were inspiring and the messages will help us improve both the mission and ourselves.

     And I have some great pictures this week:
Standing in line for lunch.  With 160 to feed, it took a while.

Missionaries are happy about spaghetti for lunch
(or just to get their picture taken!).

In order for everyone to travel to either Rancagua or
Tupahue and arrive on time, we rented buses

Each day we organized a group picture.
This is part of one group while we are waiting for Zeballos.

The missionaries love the chance to catch up with former companions and friends.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Conference season

            Once again, we have entered conference season.  Since we have four stakes and three districts, it means we have seven Sundays in about a two month period to attend a stake or district conference. 
            President attends the Saturday priesthood meeting, and then we go to the adult meeting Saturday night and the conference on Sunday morning.  He usually speaks at all three meetings while I only spoke occasionally.  I am trying to do better this time by speaking at every one, if they have time for me.  I have always felt challenged by speaking in church and sitting on the stand has never been a favorite activity—just one more area of many where I’ve had an opportunity to grow and change during this mission.
            It is a good experience to see the members in each unit gather for these meetings and also a thrill to see missionaries assigned to that area.  Now the elders attend the priesthood session and all missionaries come to the Saturday night meeting with or without an investigator.  Sometimes, when we are in a small branch with 20 people or less, it can be hard to remember the strength of the church here in Chile, but when I see the building full back to the cultural hall stage and hear the hymns, I am amazed and encouraged.
            In this weekend’s conference, all the speakers were excellent.  President
Warne even spoke last night in the adult meeting without prior notice.  Fortunately he had brought his ipad with his current talks on it, and did a great job without anyone noticing. 

            I realize I haven’t said much about missionaries in this post, but of course they form our central purpose.  This week President had interviews, we attended district meeting, we heard about illnesses and other health issues, and received many phone calls with questions on many different subjects.  I’m happy to report we have a wonderful, hard-working group of missionaries and we are doing our best to keep up with them.
            I am so sorry for only once picture this week.  I promise to do better next Sunday.
Hard working assistants and president after our weekly Sunday meeting.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Dos actividades

     Welcome back to another blog post from Chile, and thanks for supporting us.  First, I would like to describe the funeral we attended on Wednesday.  This man was a branch president with a wife and two sons.  He had cancer for a long time.  President Warne visited with him several times, including the day before and was with him at the end accompanying family members.  There is no embalming in Chile so the funeral must take place no sooner than 24 hours later and no later than 48. 
     It was amazing how quickly everyone gathered to make it happen.  Talks were assigned, people were notified, and chairs and canopies set up—the chapel in that town is very small so the funeral was held outside, plus it was hot.  All the missionaries of the zone formed a choir and did a beautiful job.  They also helped with set up and take down.  The missionaries assigned to that branch will continue to support and help the members wherever they can.  Finally, it was a great opportunity for the people who attended to hear the plan of salvation as it was powerfully presented.  Hopefully, some of them will be motivated to seek out the missionaries and learn more.
      Thursday and Friday we were in Santiago for the semiannual mission president’s seminar.  You may remember that I wrote about our trip last October to Iguazu Falls in Brazil.  The meeting last week was about reaffirming our purpose and refilling our cup, so to speak.  We always enjoy the chance to stay at the Mariott in Santiago!  The area presidency taught on Thursday, and part of Friday, then Elder Soares of the presidency of the Seventy gave a final message.  Sometimes, we tend to get a little bogged down in the minutiae of the mission, and it was inspiring to hear again about our noble purpose and suggestions for improvement in our calling.
     We also enjoyed very much seeing the other presidents and their wives, most of whom we only get to see at these meetings.  We all enjoy telling and hearing mission stories since we have a lot in common.  On Thursday morning, the outgoing presidents and wives bore touching testimonies.  It is a little scary to think that next year we will be in that same position.  We need to lengthen our stride and try to accomplish more even as the time goes by ever more rapidly.

we haven't done an airport picture lately, right?

Two of our wonderful sisters

At the seminar on Friday

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Missionary meetings

            The Spanish language has some great superlatives.  The one I like for today is buenissimo! As in—last week in the Chile Rancagua mission was buenissimo (very good, excellent).
            On Monday we said god-bye with thanks and good luck to eleven wonderful missionaries whom we will miss.  We always enjoy with them the lunch of fajitas and then the testimony meeting which is the highlight of the day.   But they were ready to return home, serve in their respective home areas and begin or resume schooling, work and (eventually) their own families.
            Tuesday day we welcomed 10 new missionaries.  They are always glad to finally be in the field, excited to meet their companion and a little nervous about beginning the work for which they have planned and worked toward for so long.  As I have mentioned before, we do a little processing, do some training and orientation, serve a good lunch (hamburgers and cheesecake this time) and send them off.  They will drop off their suitcases, buy groceries, visit the cyber or internet cafĂ© to send a short message letting parents know of their safe arrival, then finally start working in their areas and preaching the gospel.
            Friday we had the monthly mission leadership conference or consejo.  We had four new zone leaders and four new coordinadoras or sister training leaders, which shows the kind of turnover we experience.  Between now and August, 16 of the 22 zone leaders will leave as will ten or so of the 13 coordinadoras.  You can see why we constantly teach and train, sometimes using concepts we taught only a few months ago.

            The activities I’ve described are the reasons I said the week was so good.  We got to interact with missionaries, get to know them better, and we realize every day that as President Warne likes to say:  every day in the mission field is buenissimo!

Hard-working office missionaries--two are going out and two coming in

New missionaries --we are always so glad to see them!

New zone leaders

New coordinadoras