Sunday, December 27, 2015

Christmas #3

            For our third Christmas we again delivered cookies to seventy-five percent of the missionaries.  Now that it is the last time everything went so smoothly!  Isn’t that the way things usually happen?  We spent Thursday getting the trays ready then left at 8:00 Christmas morning and returned home at 2:30.  It was so great to be able to greet each zone we visited and express our love for them.  President told them we were with them as our family in the mission field; just no presents:).  We appreciate the senior couple who took the trays to Talca and Curico and we appreciate the missionaries’ understanding the need to change district meeting to Christmas Day so we could make our deliveries.
            President worked hard to make sure everyone would get a chance to speak with family even if not exactly on Christmas Day, so even though a few had problems they were calm because they knew they could still try again another time.  Every one we have asked reported that they really enjoyed their calls and we also enjoyed the chance to visit with family on Christmas afternoon and evening.
            We are so grateful to be here with these missionaries.  It is hard to describe the love we felt as we shook hands and gave hugs in each place we visited.  Being on a mission at Christmas time can be hard, but we encourage them to reach out and serve.  As they focus on others, miracles happen. 

            We took a picture with each group so I’ll share a couple of them.  I hope that each of you also had a wonderful holiday.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Feliz Navidad, 2015

      Here we are in the week of Christmas already.  Like all the months in the mission, December has flown by.  Missionaries often tell me that the days can pass very slowly, but the weeks disappear.   Often part of a missionary's final testimony is a comment about how long the time seemed at the beginning of their mission and then how astonished they are that it is already time to depart.
       As I have mentioned before this is our third Christmas and we are feeling a little nostalgic already.  We have about six months left to serve, and have begun planning activities and meetings for January, February and beyond.  We very much want to finish strongly and do everything we can to advance the Lord´s work during this final period of our mission.

        Some of our goals include visiting each branch one more time, reading the Book of Mormon before conference as we’ve been challenged by the area presidency, and working with the missionaries more closely through divisions and training.  We have two couples who will finish their time in 2016 and are also grateful for the two couples who are coming.  We feel the church is wise in calling mission presidents for three years--it will be good for a new president with fresh ideas and energy to come in and take our place.  Our goal is that at the end of June when we get on the plane, we will be sad about leaving Chile, the missionaries and the members, but we will have no regrets about our service.  Now I want to wish you a very good week and a wonderful Christmas.  Many thanks for supporting the blog.
  We said
good-bye to one hermana on Monday and hello to a new one
on Tuesday.

First day for new missionaries--small group this time!
One hermana, and five elders--we are very happy to welcome them.
We also had new leader training this week; these are our
amazing new coordinadoras.  Finally watermelon is

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Tender mercies

            This week I wanted to start by thanking those who comment.  This is embarrassing but I haven’t figured out how to respond to them privately so I’m doing it now—thanks!
I would like to share with you a few thoughts from the talk I gave at the Christmas zone conferences, as well as the challenge I gave them.  I based my talk on one by Elder David A. Bednar called “The Tender Mercies of the Lord”.  It is a great talk and well worth your time if you would care to read it. 
            Elder Bednar quotes part of a scripture, 1 Nephi 1:20, which talks about tender mercies and how the Lord is anxious to grant them.  I gave some examples of tender mercies from my own life, for example, my calling before the mission was as Relief Society pianist which has been a huge blessing as I often play for various branches or baptisms.  Another example is the help I have had in learning Spanish; even though it still isn’t great, I am way better than I was when we came to Chile.
            Then I asked the missionaries to volunteer examples from their own lives or missions and it was wonderful to hear them.  A few talked about their companions and how blessed they feel to have had them.  Others mentioned events that helped them with an investigator or other teaching opportunities.
            At the end I asked the missionaries to find ways to be a tender mercy for someone during this holiday season as they listen to the Spirit to know what they should do.  I know they are dedicated to serving every day, but I know also that they will have a memorable Christmas time as they find special ways to serve their companions, investigators, recent converts and the members.  I’d like to leave you with that same challenge: you too can make a difference this season.  It doesn’t take money or need to be complicated but you can be a tender mercy for someone in your life. 

different faces, same place, right?  lunch after the games
maybe you can see there are several different groups
Enjoying the video after lunch
waiting for their turn at kickball/baseball
a practice during the training meeting on Friday--and you can
see the tree!
the assistants are teaching and the one elder is sneaking a peek

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Christmas time is here again

This week’s pictures are all going to be from the Christmas zone conferences.  I wrote a whole post about them last year, and this year’s program is the same so if you need more details, please look up that one.  Even my talk is the same with a few additions.  The talk I am using is from Elder Bednar, April, 2005, about the tender mercies of the Lord.   It is a great talk and after I give a few examples of tender mercies I have experienced, I ask the missionaries to share a few of their own.  It is so great to be able to understand their answers and enjoy what they are sharing.
This year we went back to the first year format for the video and had each missionary send in three pictures from which the secretaries put together a 40 minute presentation.  The missionaries love seeing former companions and the sometimes silly poses others think of.  We give each missionary a copy of the DVD and hope that when they watch it they will remember good things about their mission and the great people they learned to know while they were here.
The secretaries also included a few of the bloopers from when President and I attempted to record a Christmas message the first year we were here.  I am grateful to realize that my Spanish speaking abilities have improved and that I can laugh at how bad it was then.  He and I will certainly never make it to the big screen!

This is a short post but please enjoy the pictures as much as the missionaries enjoy participating in the Christmas zone conferences.
We try to structure the games so the sisters have as much fun
as the elders.  These elders look pretty focused!

Our intrepid and talented elder who takes charge of the menu
while we are doing the rest of the meeting.  This year we are
grilling hamburgers.  It is part of the formidable logistics plan
 to take the grill from our house to each conference.

What a beautiful group of missionaries, right after the talks, music
and videos and right before they change to play the games.

They are thrilled to receive packages from home.

With the mission book (missionary listing), DVD, First Presidency
Christmas card, packages, etc., their arms are full!

Each conference features a special musical number and these five
did a beautiful job.

Happy elders waiting for the program to start.