Sunday, June 28, 2015

Adventure in Santiago

     Today I would like to tell you about an adventure that I and two of our sister missionaries had on Friday.  One of the sisters needed a medical exam and we decided to send her to Santiago to a very good clinic.  Also scheduled on Friday was the training for missionaries who have been here for five weeks.  We didn't want the sisters to go by themselves and also someone needed to pay for the the test, so I volunteered to go with them while President and the assistants did the training.
     It was great for me to see how transportation works for our missionaries.  We were dropped off at the bus station in Rancagua where immediately we were called repeatedly to board one bus or another.  I was glad to be with sisters who knew the system!  We boarded a bus, paid our fare of about $3.50 each and eventually headed out to the freeway. I have to admit we all enjoyed a nap on the way.  The bus station in Santiago is about a block from the Metro station, and we only had to wait a short time for a train.  During rush hour the trains are impossibly full, but at noon we didn't have a problem finding 
at least standing room.
     Unfortunately, after a couple of stops there was a problem at a station ahead of us so everyone had to get off, go up to the surface and find a bus that would take us past the problem to another stop. It was confusing with so many people milling around and a long line of buses, but we managed to find the right one, get off at the correct Metro stop, reboard the train and head to our original destination. The plan was to then catch another bus that would get us close to the clinic, but we ended up taking a taxi in order to make the appointment on time.  The sisters and I had a great time visiting and laughing while we made our way to the appointment.  We are also very happy that the test turned out with great results
     Whew!  We were definitely multimodal with public transport, but it took 3 1/2 hours. Fortunately, President came up after the training meeting to collect us and we rode in comfort back to Rancagua, even though it still took three hours to get home because the traffic was so backed up.
       I have mentioned collectivos and micros before, but this is how missionaries travel--we are grateful that Chile has an efficient and reasonably priced public transportation system.  During transfers on Tuesday, there will be many suitcases carried and hauled to bus stations and collectivos and then taken to the new houses.  This was an adventure for me and also a chance to see how calmly and capably missionaries handle the vagaries of public transportation among many other challenges.  They never complain, they just get where they need to go--after Friday I'm even more proud of them.  
new assistants on the left, current on the right

after Tuesday they won't be the new missionaries any longer
but we still love to train them

Our wonderful nurse explaining about stress and
glasses half full or half empty

A picture from our day of adventure in Santiago

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Time for transfers

            This week we finished up zone conferences by holding one in Curic√≥ and one in Buin.  Usually we start in Buin so we decided they could be last for a change.  We do the same program everywhere so it is more about how many times we practice before we get to the last group. 
            President Warne is spending a lot of time pondering transfers since they will be announced on Saturday.  Transfers happen every six weeks, and the missionaries look forward to them with trepidation or anticipation depending on the situation.  Our practice here is that coordinadoras, zone leaders and assistants are released from those callings one transfer before they leave, with a few exceptions.  This time we will replace 8 zone leaders and one assistant so it is a bigger than usual changeover.
            Part of the transfer process is deciding what companionships need to change or who could benefit by staying together.  We try not to leave missionaries in the same sector for longer than four transfers or six months, but occasionally it does happen.  President has a huge board in his office with pictures of all the missionaries in the various zones.  He doesn’t like to change it around too early, because it is hard to remember if a missionary is in the original position or if he has already been moved, but now in week 6 is the time to do it.  After all the changes are placed on the board he will ponder and pray over each companionship to ask for confirmation.
            One of the challenges as well as one of the blessings of missionary life is being with a companion 24/7.  Missionaries who are working hard each day finding, teaching and baptizing are also working at getting along and helping their companion to do the same.  However, we are well aware that none of us are perfect and some companionships don’t turn out well.  We don’t expect that every companion will become a lifelong friend, but we do want them to do their best to make it work.  We often tell them that their mission is a valuable preparation for the rest of their life and this is one way they can prepare for a spouse and a family.
            If you have a future missionary, one great way to help prepare them is to help them learn how to get along in many different situations and with different people.  In our mission, as do many others, we have missionaries from many different countries and backgrounds which we hope will help unity in their families, wards and the church.  See you next week.

They are a wonderful hardworking group of sisters
Sorry all sisters this week, but they are worth putting in the spotlight
All the sisters in Buin.  What a great group they are.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Preach My Gospel challenge

            We had three wonderful zone conferences this week in Talca, Santa Cruz and Rancagua.  As I mentioned last week, our focus for the conferences this time is Predicad Mi Evangelio or Preach My Gospel.  It is a crucial tool in missionary work.  President Warne has challenged the missionaries this month to read it cover to cover.  As with our recent challenge to read the Book of Mormon, the missionaries are enjoying reviewing, relearning and feeling the inspiration of the Spirit as they renew their commitment to learn from and use these two vital resources.
            However, as Elder M. Russell Ballard taught in his April, 2014 conference talk, Following Up: “…Can you imagine the impact if family and friends included things they are learning from their personal study of Preach My Gospel in their letters and emails to their full-time missionaries?  Can you picture the blessings that will come to families when they know and understand better what their sons and daughters will be studying and teaching on their missions?... I invite all members, regardless of your current calling or level of activity in the Church, to obtain a copy of Preach My Gospel.  As President Monson has said, ‘Now is the time for members and missionaries to come together, to work together, to labor in the Lord’s vineyard to bring souls unto Him.’”

            Whether you are a parent with a missionary in our mission or are reading this blog for other reasons, I invite you to join with us in our study of Preach My Gospel and focus, as we are trying to do, on inviting people to come to Christ and receive the blessings of the gospel.  Everyone, whether a full time missionary or not, is entitled to know the joy of sharing the gospel and helping to bring someone to the waters of baptism.  Elder Ballard finished his talk with the following: “May the Lord bless all of us in our efforts to hasten the work of Salvation, I humbly pray in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.” I add my own amen, and thanks for reading.

They are always happy to have pizza--Papa Johns!

Sorry, only one picture of hermanas this week, but they look good!

All the elders from Santa Cruz zone

They look well-fed, right?  From Tuesday's conference in Talca.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Peor es Nada

            Today we visited a tiny branch in a village called “Peor is Nada” which means “Worse is Nothing”, an unfortunate name for sure.  Some of the first members of the church in Chile came from here, and they have had a chapel since the mid eighties.  Today there were four missionaries (us plus our assistants), five children, the branch president and four women.  There was no piano so the chorister sang the first line of the hymn, which is pretty common here in Chile--I’ve even done it myself.  Since today is Fast Sunday, everyone except the children were able to share their testimony.
            Everyone told us thanks for coming several times.  It is a real testimony builder to me that members in these remote places stay faithful and strong under difficult circumstances.  The children there are third generation members of the Church; however currently the missionaries only work one day per week since transportation is problematic.  Hopefully that branch will grow until that room is crowded and they need to ask for an even bigger one.  That is why we are here!
            Also this week we had our first two zone conferences—more to come on that subject next week.  They went well and the missionaries seemed to enjoy them.  We are currently remodeling the kitchen at the mission home so we served Papa John’s pizza one day and hot meat sandwiches called churrasco the other.  There were no complaints, so I’m pretty sure the missionaries were happy with our choices.

            We are happy to be here, to be serving with wonderful, hard-working missionaries and to be, hopefully, advancing the work of the Lord here in Chile.  Thanks and see you (so to speak) next week.

Tupahue zones at their conference.  They are happy with the
training and happy that it is lunchtime.

During each conference, two coordinadoras and two zone
leaders give a presentation--they always do an excellent job.
Chapel in Peor es Nada along with the communal chickens
Believe it or not, this area is supposed to be a plaza, and the
name is Joseph Smith Plaza.  Our elder says it looks better
in the summer.

Elders from the San Fernando zone conference