Sunday, May 29, 2016

Serving together, members and missionaries

Throughout our mission we have traveled every Sunday to attend church in one of the branches of our three districts, except for stake and general conference Sundays.  We have enjoyed a Primary program presented by the only 2 Primary age girls and the presidency.  We have visited on Fast Sundays where every person in attendance bears testimony every month.  We have listened to talks given by faithful members who have many different challenges and come from many backgrounds.
It has been a privilege to come to know these members and see their efforts to serve and obey and sustain the church in their home area.  Many branches do not have very many priesthood holders which brings additional challenges. Our missionaries often serve as branch clerks or counselors or with the young men and the sisters often help with primary or young women.
In most of the branches, the missionaries also teach Sunday School (Gospel Principles), often without prior notice.  They also often speak in Sacrament meeting.  Even though we have learned to know and love the members, as the missionaries serve and work in the branches and wards they form strong bonds with them.  The members return that love and serve as they give lunch to the missionaries, go out teaching with them, welcome their investigators and attend baptisms.  They are flexible about accepting missionary changes: saying a fond good-bye to those leaving and welcoming new arrivals.

None of us are perfect so occasionally problems arise, but overall members and missionaries work together to live the gospel and advance the work here in Chile and we are grateful to be part of it and also for the friends we have made among the members.
The pictures today include a couple from the self-sufficiency training, from our temple trip and from new missionary training.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Weekly Report

            This week we finished interviews for the last time, definitely a bittersweet experience.  Since President won’t be interviewing these missionaries when they go home we decided to increase the time a little in order to have a little more one on one time.  While they are waiting for their interviews I have tried to encourage all the Latin missionaries in their English studies and help them remember what a great opportunity they have to learn it on their mission. 
            Next week we will have our last cambio or transfer.  We have 23 going home and 18 coming this time and in July the difference is even bigger.  The new president and wife will have the opposite challenge as when we came.  They will adjust numbers and close sectors, while we struggled every time with finding housing and sectors for large groups. 
            It has strengthened my testimony to realize that the work goes on even as the workers and situations change.  We are grateful for the members here in Chile who help out by giving lunch to the missionaries, going out to teach lessons with them, giving them references and friendshipping investigators who come to church.  Each of us can help the work of salvation by doing those same things wherever we may be.   There are missionaries in almost every part of the world and we all have the same goal: to invite others to come to Christ and be baptized. 

            I invite you to do something this week to help the missionaries in your area.  They will appreciate it and you will be blessed for it.
             The pictures this week are from interviews in Curicó, outside the church in Nancagua and English class after the district meeting in Lautaro.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Where are they from?

            Over a year ago, I posted about the countries represented in our mission.  Today I did a recount because I thought it would be interesting to see how or if things have changed.  One big change is the numbers of missionaries we have.  In October, 2013 we had 290 missionaries, but since then we have gradually decreased in size until today where we have 191.  It seems like everything should be a lot easier with 100 fewer missionaries but we haven’t noticed a decrease in any of our activities.
            Here is the breakdown:  Argentina-14, Bolivia-3, Brazil-15, Canada-2, Chile-8, Colombia-7, Ecuador-10, Guatemala-2, Korea-1, Mexico-8, Nicaragua-1, Panama-1, Paraguay-1, Peru-16, United States-99, Uruguay-3.  Obviously, 15 different countries represent 15 different cultures and even changes in language usage.  Even within countries cultural differences exist.  I feel this is one of the many blessings of a mission; the missionaries can learn that we are all children of Heavenly Father, trying to live the gospel and invite the people in Chile to come to Christ.  I’ve included below the paragraph from the earlier post so you may compare if you like: (we still have eleven from Arizona:))
                         Right now we have 242 missionaries, or we will again after Tuesday when 27 arrive.  181 are elders and we have 62 sisters, which is way down from our peak when we had 104 sisters. Missionaries come from Argentina-8, Bolivia-1, Brazil-10, Chile-11, Colombia-7, Ecuador-4, El Salvador-1, Guatemala-3, Korea-1, Mexico-9, Nicaragua-1, Panama-2, Paraguay-2, Peru-30, Spain-3 and Uruguay-4.  Utah, of course is well represented as is Idaho.  We have 11 from Arizona-the same as from Chile plus three more who will arrive on Tuesday.

            As we look ahead to the missionaries coming in the next two transfers, the numbers of Latinos will increase because few Americans are coming.  The pendulum has moved back and forth several times during our mission but we gladly accept whoever comes because missionaries are called of God no matter what their country or language.  We are grateful for the chance we’ve had to learn about the people and cultures of other countries.
             The pictures this week are from interviews in San Fernando, Santa Cruz, Buin and a Tupahue zone at our house.  The other one is of the elders teaching English class at district meeting.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Missionaries Past and Present

            By the end of our mission we will have had about 600 missionaries come here to Rancagua, Chile.  That is am amazing number when I think back about individuals.  The missionaries ask us if we can remember everyone, and unfortunately that answer is no, unless we see a picture.  Some of the early ones who left right after we got here are not as familiar as those we had for their whole time.  We are anxious to stay in touch with as many as possible and President already spends a lot of time corresponding with former missionaries; answering questions and giving encouragement.
            This weekend we enjoyed visiting with two of our returned missionaries; both are married and one couple is expecting, while the other has a 4 month old baby.  A few weeks ago we visited another couple with a new baby.  It is a wonderful privilege to see them, see their progress and know they are on the right path of temple marriage and starting families.  Plus those babies are very cute!

            When we have our final testimony meeting each change we often ask the missionaries to remember us and keep in touch.  Even though it won’t happen with everyone, we are looking forward to many years of wedding invitations and baby announcements and visits from “our” missionaries.  This is a blessing we didn’t know about in the beginning, but now we look forward to watching their progress as part of a unique family—our returned missionaries and us.
             The pictures this week are from consejo, interviews and other meetings--always plenty of those!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Conference in Curicó

            Today we attended a stake conference in Curicó.  After today’s conference we only have two more before we leave; one in Tupahue stake and the other in Talca.  Even though we are close to the end I am still nervous about whether or not I will speak and if I do whether anyone will understand my Spanish.
            On the other hand, it is so great to see all the missionaries assigned to a stake or district when we go to conference.  We are able to greet each one of them, check up on a few who have been sick or had other challenges, and President usually has at least a couple of interviews; this time he did four. 
            President has become very good at understanding what needs to be said in each of the three meetings and giving a talk based on those needs.  I always have a talk prepared for the Sunday morning meeting but usually bear my testimony instead because the time is short.  It means I can keep the talk ready for a long timeJ

            It is also a real privilege to be with the members.  We have gotten to know many wonderful people here in Chile and recognize many others by their smile and warm greeting every time we see them.  During our mission we have learned to admire the Saints here because of their faithfulness, often under difficult circumstances.  We appreciate their friendliness to us and their generous support of the missionaries by feeding them and going out teaching with them.  However, there is still a lot of work to be done and we know good things will continue to happen even when we are gone.

The first pictures are from the cambio and the last one is from last week's concert in Pichilemu.  The fourth person is from Pichilemu--all of them are very talented!