Sunday, September 27, 2015

Earthquake report

            I’m sure all of you heard about the earthquake here in Chile; it was pretty big news because of the strength.  President sent out an email to parents as soon as we knew all of our missionaries were safe and accounted for.  It was definitely the strongest we have felt in over two years of living in Chile.  President was in Buin—45 minutes north, doing an interview and I was at home working on the last batch of flags we gave out during interviews.  
A________ always tells me that the mission home is one of the safest anywhere because of the concrete construction.  We always joke that it’s great for earthquake safety but terrible for internet purposes.  However, I have to admit I was very nervous when the walls and floors started shaking.  A senior couple, who live on the 11th floor of an apartment building, felt their building swaying back and forth—very unsettling.  President Warne stood in a doorway, which was quick thinking, and headed for home right after it ended.
            We have two towns right on the coast, Pichilemu and Constitución, so when the tsunami warning and accompanying evacuation order went out, we were very concerned about those missionaries and their safety.  Unfortunately, our service provider had a break in service for a couple of hours.  Fortunately, all of the missionaries did exactly what they were supposed to and headed for their apartments no matter where they were; their apartments are all safely away from the tsunami danger zone.

            That area of Chile has had many aftershocks, even one last Friday night, and we are praying that no further damage is being done and the people there have started recovering.  We are grateful that Chile as a whole is as prepared as possible for these strong quakes, and also hopeful that this one will be the strongest we face.  We are happy to have the technology that allowed us to make sure the missionaries were ok and then let parents know.  We were also able to send word to the Missionary Department when we had accounted for everyone.  It is a good opportunity for us to review our emergency plan and encourage the missionaries (again) to make sure their emergency backpacks are ready.  
After district conference

Big smiles from great sister missionaries

three secretaries, one in charge, one leaving
and one new.

I just have to include a picture of our new
missionaries--18, Yea!

18 news means 18 talented trainers--great missionaries, all.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Las fiestas patrias

            Last week was September 18 or the day of Independence for Chile.  They refer to it as dieciocho (18) or las fiestas patras.  I’d like to describe our experience and hopefully you can picture your missionary taking part in a similar celebration.
            This was our third and last time to be here on independence day so we had a hard time deciding where to go since nearly every ward or branch has an activity.  A sister we had seen the week before invited to the Peralillo branch activity so we went there.
            It is a small village surrounded by vineyards, with one of the most attractive plazas we have seen in Chile.  We arrived at 2:30 p.m. because we began the day with a trip to Santiago for a hospital visit—a young boy we know, not a missionary.  The members had already been there for awhile starting the fire, etc.  We visited until the meal was ready.  It is called parillada or grill and we ate steak, pork, and chicken with various salads and pebre (pebrā) which is just like fresh salsa without chiles.
          After the lunch we visited more, several danced the cueca (kwākâ), the national dance of Chile.  After a couple of hours all the sisters disappeared back into the church to start preparing the next meal!  At six we ate fresh empanadas—they made sure that President ate the one I made.  Let’s just say I need more practice at that plus various breads, a fresh cheese, sopaipillas, and a cheesecake.  To say we were full is a definite understatement.
        We only have one set of elders in Peralillo but they were great to participate and even brought in a few investigators.  About 35 people were there at various times, and it was definitely an all day affair.  We left at 7:15 and everyone else was still going strong.  It was a real honor for us to be there and they were so gracious to include us in everything, as you’ll be able to see from the pictures;).
        It was a great day and we hope all the missionaries had an equally pleasant time.  It’s a great chance for them to interact with members and investigators in a more casual yet still productive way. 

egg race--good thing they were hard-boiled
the second meal

making empanadas

four missionaries and the branch president

mother and son dancing the cueca

the traditional cueca dress and the wonderful
sisters of the Peralillo branch

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Testimony and peace

     Today I would like to share with you a testimony building experience that I had on Thursday.  We are in the midst of zone conferences but because of the holiday this week--dieciocho or the Chilean Independence Day we decided to have new missionary training a week early.  You probably remember this is the meeting when we bring back all the new missionaries and their trainers from the last transfer for additional teaching.  We hope they have been in the mission long enough to realize that additional help is a good idea.  Plus they are excited about seeing friends from the MTC and having a nice lunch.

     Anyway, I was feeling a bit sorry for myself since Thursday was the day for a nephew's wedding back in Utah and I knew almost all of my family would be together.  Sometimes 6,000 miles seems extremely far from home.  That morning I prayed for assistance with getting through the day with a good attitude.  During one part of the training we divide into groups for a practice about how to begin teaching an investigator.  In my role as the investigator, as I was listening to my group teach of the blessings to be found in the gospel, I had a very strong witness that I was in the right place and felt a real peace about being here in Chile and with the missionaries.

     I am so grateful for that blessing and witness.  I am grateful for the growth I have experienced in our mission.  As I say often, it is a privilege to know and serve with these young missionaries, representatives of Jesus Christ.  Our time with them is short but life changing for us and hopefully for them as well.  I know that we are doing the Lord's work as we serve here in Chile along with many thousands of others worldwide. The example set for me by the missionaries always gives me a goal towards which to strive; I hope to be like them in their ability to feel the Spirit, to find and teach and baptize.  I am grateful for our Savior, Jesus Christ and our Father in Heaven, and I share these thoughts with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Yep, it is time for zone conference lunches again.  They are
pretty happy with the menu this time.  Salisbury steak, mashed
potatoes, fruit, bread and blueberry zucchini cake.

Good food and good sisters is a great combination

I can't resist these group shots.  The missionaries love trying to
keep their eyes open all at the same time!

We always like to have a special musical number and these two
sounded lovely doing the verses in English and Spanish.

This is the group for new training.  We are so happy with how
far they have come in a short time.  It is hard to believe that
the next group arrives next week.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

We are all family

            The district conference we attended today was about families.  It started me thinking about President Warne and I and also our missionaries.  We have all left families behind to serve here in Chile.  I have a firm testimony that our families are blessed and protected in our absence.  We also hear from many missionaries about the miracles of reactivation and conversion that occur in their families while they are serving here.  Many have the goal to return home to both strengthen and help family members return to church or begin to know the joys of the gospel.
            Also, as missionaries, we are trying to help the people here in Chile become part of our family as members of the church.  We want them to recognize that they are sons and daughters of God—that really we are all part of the same family.  It is our privilege to serve with these young people and support them as they work hard in the Lord’s vineyard.  We are also training them to be ready to have families of their own that will be faithful and obedient.

            As we have started our zone conferences this month, I am happy that we get to meet with the missionaries and hopefully teach them in a way that will help them be better.  Our desire is to advance the Lord’s work here in our mission;  with families at home supporting and praying both for missionaries and for the work, we will be able to find, teach, baptize, reactivate and retain.

one zone conference at our house

#2 zone conference in Buin

We all look a little unsure of this lunch in this picture,
 but they were all happy in the end.