Monday, September 21, 2009

Wow. This week was definitely a challenge. A lot of problems, prayers, tears, questioning why, growth, learning, etc. I still don´t understand why I´m here in Carrion, on my third transfer, with a companion on his second. I´m basically his second trainer, but I don´t know much more than he. I prayed a lot this week for help with this. It´s been difficult.

On a more happy note, his abilities to speak, do contacts(something that was difficult for him), and teach, have improved immensely in this past week. I know it wasn´t all my teaching, but mostly from the Lord, and I´m grateful for His help. Things are getting better.

On Friday the 18th we celebrated Chile´s Independence Day. Here they prepare for a week, and celebrate for 2-3 days. We went to the Bishop´s house Thursday and ate Empenadas, a Chilean food. Friday we had a barbecue, with hot dogs, sausage, beef, chicken, and potatoes. It was way great. And Thursday night there was a stake party in the stake center. We had permission from President May to go for two hours, with an investigator, but we still had to be in the house at 10, and couldn´t dance or play sports. It was pretty fun. We got to hear some good music and see some of the culture of Chile. I really enjoyed it.

The ward here is really great. The members are willing to help us; the recent converts are really faithful; everything´s great. I love the ward. And the bishop is really amazing. And his family´s great. They actually remind me a lot of the Brady´s, and Kylie and Lauren. I don´t know why, but that´s what I think everytime I see them. They´re really a great family. We had lunch with them yesterday, which was a fun adventure. We ate fish, clam, crab, and lobster. The interesting part was that it was the whole clam. We had to pull the shell open, scoop out the meat, and put the shell in a separate bowl. And the lobster claws, too, which was even harder. But it was pretty fun, even though it really didn´t taste to good, and my hands still smelled like fish all day even after washing like three times. It was a good dinner.

At lunch Saturday with the 2nd counselor in the bishopric, he asked what instruments I play. When I said I play piano, he asked me if I could play in church. So yesterday I played in Sacrament meeting and Priesthood and will probably be the ward pianist now.

We have 25 people with a baptismal date right now, which is a lot. More than I´ve seen in all my time in Renca 1. We´re probably gonna end up dropping some. There are a lot that I still don´t know, but also a few that I´m really excited about.
Fernando is about 11 years old, and really wants to be baptized. He´s received all the lessons. He actually was going to be baptized yesterday, but his parents wanted him to wait one more week. So we have to wait until this Sunday. Also, tomorrow we´re going to teach the rest of his family, and hopefully they can follow his example and join the church. Anibel is in his late teens, early 20´s, I´m not sure which. He´s a little shy and quiet, but a good person. He´s been reading the Book of Mormon and praying but still hasn´t received an answer to his prayer about baptism, so we have to help him with that. He was the investigator we took to the party Thursday, and met a few members of J.A.S. (Jovenes Adultos Solteros, or in English, YSA, Young Single Adults) and now has a few friends in the church, which is good.
Maria and Mario are a couple who have received a lot of lessons, and are preparing for their baptism. But they have to stop smoking and drinking coffee, which they said really won´t be too bad. They also were in church yesterday. I´m excited for them.

I learned a lot this week. I guess it´s true that we can learn from our trials. I´m still having a hard time and still learning a ton. But things are getting better and I know the Lord is with us. Romans 5:3, 4 says "And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope." I know that this is true, that with tribulation we can acquire patience, and with this, experience and hope. I have gained a lot of these things this past week. I´m grateful for the opportunity to be here and for all the things I am learning. It´s definitely a great experience that will help me throughout all my life.

Elder Murdoch

Monday, September 14, 2009

Well, one more transfer under my belt. That went fast! I´m now in a different sector and not sure how to feel. Elder Nicholas stayed in Renca 1 with another missionary. I´m now in a different sector named CarriĆ³n. My new companion, Elder Squire, is from Ohio. He went to BYU-Idaho at the same time as me. He´s really great, and I can already tell that he´s a hard worker and we´re gonna get a lot done. More than that, this is his second transfer. He has one less than me. Kinda hard to believe, huh? I´m a little overwhelmed but also excited to help him learn all the things that I´ve learned recently. The sector´s gonna be great from what I´ve heard. Right now we have twenty-something people with a baptismal date. I´ve heard from him and other missionaries that the sector is great, easy to set people with a date, just have to maintain them, and that the ward is wonderful. Hopefully I can have more success here than in Renca 1.

The language is going great, which will help me be able to help Elder Squire. I can talk really well, basically say what I want to most of the time. And I can understand well too. There are still people who talk way fast that I can´t understand everything. But the majority of people I can understand. I´ve definitely had a lot of help from the Lord.

This last Friday we had a small adventure. It was the 11th, which is an anniversary of some sort of riot in Chile. It sounds like every year on September 11, they cut the lights and have demonstrations. We had to return to the house at 7:00. We planned, ate, hung out, and at about 9:00 the lights and water went out. We went to bed at 10:00. Fortunately nothing dangerous happened and it´s all good now.

This coming Friday is September 18th. It´s basically like our July 4th. They have a big celebration in the church, with lots of food and entertainment. We can go for 2 hours if we bring investigators but can´t participate in dances or sports. I don´t know if we´ll go. We probably will. I´ve heard about some of the food, and I´m excited to try it out.

Yesterday we had Stake Conference. Our chapel is the stake center, so we just went there like normal. It was really great. There were some talks and testimonies from some members including Michael Gonzalaz, who was less active for about a year and a half and now is preparing for a mission with his brother Denny. Then we heard from Sister and President May and the stake president. It was really great. The stake choir was amazing, and the spirit was really strong the whole time.

Well, not much more to say. The language keeps improving; the food´s still great; I´ve lost a bit of weight; and the work keeps going. I´m really excited to work here in this new sector.

Elder Murdoch

Monday, September 7, 2009

Go Cougars!!! Exciting!
The weeks keep going by too fast. We´re already in the last week of this transfer. I don´t know where I´ll be next Monday. I might stay here or go to a different sector. I guess we´ll see.

This week was interesting. I got my plaque back. I had lost in in the micro(bus) the first day of this transfer, 5 weeks ago. Turns out a teenager found it and this last week gave it to some missionaries in my zone. What are the chances!? I was gonna buy another. Glad I didn´t.

Thursday we left the pension, then had to go back in to get something we forgot. This second time, we left the keys on the desk without realizing it. I asked Elder Nicholas if he had the keys, because I didn´t. Neither did he. Uh-oh. We left to work, and called our district leader, who called the zone leaders, who called the office. Line of authority can be a pain sometimes. By the time we finished our day at 10:00, no one had called us about the keys. And the guardhouse of our apartments doesn´t have a master key or anything. So we went to the house of our District leader while waiting for the office to call. At 11:00 we decided not to wait anymore. We live on the second floor, and the back patio of the first floor has a roof. We borrowed a ladder from the guardhouse and Elder Nicholas climbed on the roof and then into a small hole into the kitchen, then opened the door. Quite the experience. Now we both have an extra key in our backpacks, aside from the main set of keys.

Friday we had divisions, and Elder Frost, our district leader, came here to Renca 1 to work with me. While walking down a street there was a house that had rock music playing. There was a dog outside--I think he was sick--bobbing his head in perfect timing with the music. Elder Frost looked at me and said, "Did I just see what I thought I did?" It was amusing.

Elder Nicholas has been teaching me to juggle, and I´ve been practicing. At first I used mandarines, but after ruining like six or seven we made balls of paper and tape. I´m getting better but still have a ways to go. Saturday when we played soccer it was raining a little, so the court was wet and slick. It´s a type of cement that´s normally slick anyway, so it was interesting. Everyone was sliding and falling a lot. Then it stopped raining and the court dried. Then it started again, then stopped again. There were small puddles, and I ran into one at one point. I was running down the court then stopped to go the other direction. Unfortunately my right foot was in a puddle and kept going the original direction. I twisted the ankle, and had to leave the game for awhile. Hours later in the day it was hurting bad, and I couldn´t walk without limping and even then it hurt. So we had to buy some ice and go back to the pension to ice my ankle. We couldn´t leave at all that day to work. I felt bad, because we had a couple of really important appointments. But yesterday we could leave, and today I feel a lot better, even though my ankle´s still a little sore. I can walk normal, and run a little. So it´s all good.

We´re still working with Bastian, trying to get permission from his mom to baptize him, but it´s hard to find her. We also have a couple other people we´re teaching. Not many, but they´re good. Prisila is a friend of a member and is really good. She wants to be baptized, and we´ve taught her a couple times. The problem is that she´s separated from her husband but not divorced and living with someone else. So she has to get divorced and then married. The good thing is that she wants to do it and is in the middle of the divorce right now. The bad thing is that here in Chile it can take a while to get divorced. We´re hoping that the Lord will bless her for her desire and help speed things up so that she can be baptized.

While working with Permanaced, we found a less active and his wife/girlfriend. They´re not married but living together. They have a similar problem like Prisila. Victor is a member, but Ginette isn´t. She´s a single mother since they´re not married. They´re looking for a new house, and she can receive help from the government, being a single mother. So they´re waiting for this, then to buy the house, then they´re gonna get married so she can be baptized, which she wants to be baptized. We had a lesson with them that we talked about how we have to show faith in the Lord and do our part, and he´ll help us with the things we need. We shared 1 Nephi 3:7, 3 Nephi 13:31-33, and Proverbs 3:5-6, all really good scriptures. Then we challenged them to pray and ask if they should get married before buying a house, and promised that God will help them find a house if they have faith. Hopefully they can have the faith necessary to trust the Lord more than the government.

This last week we had interviews with President May. It was really great. The interviews are in English, and I really struggled. I never thought I´d struggle with English, but I could hardly talk. I made it through the interview, but barely. But it was a great interview. One thing that President May said that really made me happy was he told me that he hasn´t lost any confidence in me. That´s good. It´s great to be able to talk with President May. He´s wonderful.

Well, I think that´s about it for this week. Things are improving slowly. Until next week!

Elder Murdoch