Well, I´ve made it through my first week. I discovered that even after two months at the best language learning facility in the world, I don´t know any Spanish. I can speak pretty well, but I can´t understand. The Chilenos pride themselves on being one of the fastest dialects of Spanish--cause they are. They talk way fast. I feel like Kirby Heyborn in The Best 2 Years: "That ain´t the language they taught me in the MTC." Another Elder in my zone said it took him 3 months to understand them fully, and my companion took 6. Not very comforting. But my companion also told me that he can tell I´m picking up a lot faster than he did. And I speak much better than he did out of the MTC. That is comforting.
Speaking of my companion/trainer, he is way great. Elder Rigby is actually from Logan, Utah. He is really amazing, and I´ve learned a lot from him. I´m glad to have him for a first companion.
The houses here are really different. I´m in a zone called Renca, out in the suburbs. Most of the houses are like one building split into two homes. There is a gate outside, then a patio, and then the actual house. You have to stand outside the door and yell "Halo!" (ah-low) then wait until someone comes out. Often no one will, so we go to the next door and yell again. That is basically how contacting goes. We "knocked" 157 doors this week. The goal for the mission is 140 so we exceeded it, but all of our other numbers were pretty low. Elder Rigby says they were his lowest numbers yet. I feel bad cause I feel that it´s because I haven´t been helping much cause I can´t understand. But once I can understand and help him more our numbers should increase.
The area is pretty poor. The houses aren´t in the best condition. Sometimes they´re a mess. But the people are pretty humble for the most part. There are two main churches down here, aside from ours: Evangelist and Catholic. If someone is a member of one of these two churches, it is hard for them to change. There are dogs everywhere. The ones inside the gate bark as you walk past, and the thousands outside (that´s not too much of an exaggeration) just follow you and sometimes try to get you to pet them. There are a ton of dogs.
Our ward is really great. Yesterday there were 41 members in church. Not high attendance. There are 300-ish inactive families in the ward. We have a huge responsibility with re-activation and retention here. President May spoke in our Sacrament Meeting yesterday, which doesn´t really happen that often. He talked about members helping the missionaries, and really laid down the law. We appreciated it, and hope that it leads somewhere.
The food is really great. We eat a small breakfast in the morning, but the other meals are nothing like U.S.A. Down here lunch is at 1:30 or 2:00, and it is huge! We have a schedule and eat with a family in the ward every day, so we never have to cook. People here have what is called once(oh-n-say)(spanish for 11) at about 8:00, but we have ours at about 11. Ours usually consists of some bread warmed up on a George Foreman grill with butter and maybe jam. Sometimes a bowl of cereal. That´s about it. I actually like how it works, though. Big lunch at 1:30, snack at 11.
We walk a lot. There´s a bus system, which we take some, but not much. We walk most of the places we go. All day. Every night my feet hurt, and my legs are still upset at me. But it´s good for me. All the walking, plus exercising every morning, and I think I might loose that 12 pounds from the MTC, and maybe more. :) Hope so!
Our apartment is freezing cold. I have to wear my coat at night and in the morning. We´ve asked for a heater but don´t know when we´ll get it. Right now our heater is the George Foreman grill. My bed is warm, though, after I´ve been in it for a couple of minutes. That plus walking all day and I don´t have any trouble falling asleep at night. It´s kinda a small apartment, but it works. As we walk in the very small kitchen is on the left, a little farther is the living room, which is half the size of my room at home, and then the bedroom and bathroom, and an extra room where I keep my suitcases. There´s no dresser, so I´m living out of my suitcase, clothes-wise. So it is a small apartment, but it suffices. We´re not in it much anyway.
We do have a few people we´re teaching right now--less actives we´re trying to get back, new converts trying to keep, and investigators. We have a couple investigators that I think will turn out pretty good, but we haven´t gotten very far with them yet.
It´s pretty difficult down here. I have a hard time learning the language and I´m tens of thousands of miles away from my home, family, friends, and what I´m used to doing, etc. But I keep reminding myself that it isn´t about me; it´s about bringing others to Christ and baptism into His church. I know that I´m doing what I´m supposed to, and the Lord will help and bless me as I strive to be obedient and do my best.
We went to the zoo today. Monday´s the only day it´s open so missionaries go a lot for P-day, and we saw some others but none from my MTC district. It was pretty fun. They had elephants, lions, giraffes, tigers, white tiger, bears, condors, etc. kinda like a normal zoo, but it was cooler. It´s on a hill, so there´s a lot of climbing stairs to get to the next exhibit. It was really awesome.
Well, I´m about out of time, and can´t think of anything more to say. The mission is awesome and I love it. I can´t wait to really get into it and get going. Thank you everyone for everything.