Sunday, May 31, 2015

Baptisms and blessings

     Last night the baptism we attended was a special experience, as always.  The man who was baptized is married to a formerly inactive member, which is part of the essence of the new focus in missionary work after the Work of Salvation: baptize, retain, and reactivate.  We challenge our missionaries to work in all three areas every day.  Now, hopefully, the sons of this new brother will see changes for the better in him and become interested in the church as well.  This couple has so much potential to help and strengthen their ward; they already have a goal to be sealed in the temple in a year.  We already invited ourselves to go with them!
            While we were eating the refreshments, I began visiting with a woman who has always been very friendly when we see her at various meetings.  She reminded me that her third son leaves on his mission in only two weeks.  Her two older sons also served missions, even though their father died within a month of their departure.  This wonderful faithful woman bore a quiet but fervent testimony of the blessings their family has had due to those two sons serving even after the death of their father.  She expects the same kinds of blessings for this son and is looking forward already to her youngest son going out in a few years.

            We are so grateful to be the president and wife who receive the sons and daughters you send out to serve and I know the other mission couples feel the same.  I told President the other day that when we sent our sons on their missions, it was kind of a limbo for us since we mainly had letters or emails for communication.  Then when they returned we could see the amazing changes and maturity that had occurred.  But now we are the ones here with them and we get to see that growth as it happens.  We see them change and we often hear of the blessings their families have received during their service.  It is a blessing that has changed our lives and we hope to stay in touch with our missionaries and continue to be part of their lives always.  Thanks for your part in raising them and supporting them while they are here.
mission leadership council at the church this month--they are a great group of leaders!

These sisters are way too happy to be having pizza for lunch!

At least we made them have apple slices also.  And ice cream is nutritious, right?

Our newest zone leaders and coordinadora

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Early releases

            Today I would like to write about a difficult and sometimes sad facet of missionary life.  Occasionally, missionaries, for a variety of reasons must return home early.  Injuries and illness are often the cause—if missionaries have physical problems which require surgery or recovery periods longer than a couple of weeks, the best option for everyone is recuperation at home.  Depending on the situation, he or she may return to us.  One elder broke his collarbone, went home for surgery and was back in three weeks.  Obviously, exceptions are made for appendicitis or other emergencies.
            Another cause of early release is emotional problems.  Missionaries don’t always realize how hard serving a mission can be—physically and emotionally.  The mission field is a place for development in many areas, including spirituality and testimony, and learning to get along with companions and others in sometimes difficult situations.  However, it is not a good place to solve serious emotional issues which may become exacerbated due to the normal stress of mission life.  We have an area mental health advisor who is wonderful with the missionaries and often helps resolve problems that otherwise would require a release.
            The third category I will mention is what we call “belated confession” where a missionary did not fully repent before arriving in the field.  It is really sad to see a young man or woman have to return home to make things right.  On the other hand, we are happy to see that they feel the Spirit telling them what needs to be done even though it is going to be hard.  I am happy to share that we have had missionaries return to us after this process and they come back focused and ready to be great missionaries.

            Please know that we love all our missionaries whatever their circumstances or release dates, and we are grateful to have this opportunity to serve with them and sometimes help them through a difficult process whether physical, emotional or spiritual.  Early release for a missionary is not a cause for shame or recrimination, but rather a chance to turn our hearts more to the Savior, and an opportunity to grow stronger in our commitment to be more like Him.

All the office elders are sharing these new bikes.  Great exercise!

Yea, it is time for new missionaries!

As usual, we have wonderful, experienced trainers.

Sunday, May 17, 2015


     I've been writing this blog for almost two years, something I never thought I would do.  I hope I have been able to share effectively some of the in and outs of mission life and also many of our experiences with the missionaries themselves.
     As I said in my testimony in stake conference this morning, it has been a great privilege for us to be here, doing our part to advance missionary work in this part of Chile.  I am certainly not giving a farewell speech since we have a long time left to be here, but we are feeling a bit of anxiety as we look back at the last two years and think of what we would like to accomplish before our time is over.
     Now that I am done philosophizing let's go back to our activities for last week.  It is hard to believe but it has been six weeks and we did our temple trip on Wednesday.  Tuesday night we bring them all to the mission home for an evening of training in self sufficiency.  We really hope this information helps returned missionaries in their adjustments back to normal life and with the many decisions they must make about their future.
     As I have said before, going to the temple is always a special experience--we look forward to being there with these very special young people who are finishing their missions.  Also in the conference today, a newly returned missionary gave an amazing talk--it is what I hope each of our missionaries is able to do in their home stakes and districts.  We feel strongly that worthy and faithful returned missionaries are the future of the church.  They will have the strength and ability to guide themselves and their families through the evils of our increasingly troubled world.
     If you are a parent or family member reading this blog, I would like to say thanks for supporting your missionary as they serve with us, and thanks for sending him or her out to serve others, grow and form or continue the habits of faithful church service that will last a lifetime and beyond.  Thanks for sharing our mission with us.
Lunchtime=happy missionaries
Hermanas first and elders second

We have just finished giving everyone flu shots

We always take a picture with our new coordinadoras or zone leaders

mission leadership council for April

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Mother's Day

Since today is Mother’s Day, I am giving myself the opportunity to express my gratitude and love for my own mother.  She passed away four years ago, but I still often wish I could pick up the phone and “catch up”. 
She was and is an example to me of how to live righteously and stand firm in the gospel no matter what.  She and my father raised eight children who all went to college, married in the temple, and have raised their own families in the church.  I am also grateful to be a mother to six wonderful children who have all become responsible, loving and capable adults. 
Since we came to Chile, we have met and grown to love about 500 missionaries; “children for a time”.  We know we will only be with them for the short interlude of their missions, but we are grateful for that time and hope to stay in contact with as many as possible.  I was thinking today that when missionaries return home their families can see how much they have grown and matured.  But we have the unique opportunity to meet them as brand new missionaries and then watch the amazing changes that occur as they devote 18 months or 2 years to serving the Lord by teaching his children.

Certainly, none of us is perfect; we all have challenges and problems we must overcome.  However, my life has been changed for the better by the privilege of serving with these young people. The opportunity to claim these young servants of God as family during their missions, and friends after our return is priceless.  Happy Mother’s Day!

I love to be with the missionaries

Pday activity making cinnamon rolls

Happy missionaries after training, lunch and an activity.

Elders are always smiling--especially at lunchtime!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Labor Day, lunch, and training

            Here we are, it is Sunday again and time for another post.  As usual, we spent the week in meetings with and training of missionaries.  We also started interviews on Friday, since that is our task for May. 
            May 1 is a big holiday in Chile—Labor Day.  Because pretty much everything was closed and hardly any transportation available, we had interviews at the mission home and the office elders helped out by delivering missionaries to us and returning them to their sectors after.
            Also last week, we went to lunch with the area medical advisor and his wife, who return home on May 7.  We have really enjoyed getting to know them and they have done a wonderful job here in Chile.  I’m sure it was a difficult challenge for them to serve here without speaking Spanish, but they worked hard, found ways around the language and made a difference.  They are definitely on the list of amazing people we have come to know and love during our mission.
            We also held the last two zone training meetings so I hope you don’t mind a couple more pictures of creative scripture reenactments.  During these meetings one of our talented senior sisters repaired clothing brought in by missionaries.  She is a valuable resource for this service because they have no other place to take repairs.
            Just to round out the week, we held mission leadership conference on Wednesday.  That way we avoided the transportation challenges of the holiday weekend.  It is always great to have the mission leaders in the mission home, not only as we are doing training, but also because we enjoy being with them; they also enjoy being with each other.  Sometimes we have to push them out the door!

            All in all, it was just another typical week in the Chile Rancagua mission, but thanks for reading, and have a great week.

mission leadership council--and wonderful missionaries

Even though we watched these 8 different times, we could

never figure out what they were showing.  But the missionaries could
always figure it out!