Monday, December 27, 2010

Well, we had a wonderful Christmas and are now ending the year. Wow, 2010 went by really fast! Christmas was great. Thursday night we went to the mission home with a few other zones and had a dinner and show. The part that was most fun, aside from the mashed potatoes and turkey, was that they sent us to the subway station to sing for about half an hour. A lot of people stopped to listen and a few people recorded with their cell phones. It was fun. Also, I got to see a lot of missionaries that I haven´t seen for a while. And I had my picture taken with both assistants because one was my comp in the MTC and the other was my DL in Dorsal 2.

Friday we went to the Stake President´s house from 5:00 until 12:00. There´s a family from Utah, the Smith family, that are visiting them. So there were a lot of people in the house. It was way fun. Weird speaking in English, but oh well. For dinner we had twice baked potatoes, turkey, salad, and for dessert a type of melon with vanilla ice cream and grapes and sugar cookies. It was really good. Then the stake president took the kids to a park to see Santa while we put presents under the tree and in stockings, etc. Then we recorded as they walked in. It was a lot of fun. We also got a couple of presents: chocolate and socks--the first time I´m happy to get socks for Christmas. :) It was great.

My sector is great. Like I said last week, it´s a lot of country. Even more so than Grace. It´s great, but it´s really hot. One day last week it was 105 degrees, and we walked a lot. We carry around big water bottles, and I easily drink 4-5 liters every day. And everyone gives us fruit. There are a lot of orchards here: peach, apricot, orange, plums, etc. Needless to say, with so much fruit, water, and walking, I´m going to come home in good shape. I´ve already been losing weight. I´m down to 198 now, and I hope to get home at 190 or less.

Last week we found some new investigators--a woman named Isabel and her grandson, Valentin. They accepted a baptismal date for January 16th. They and another grandson, Benjamin, were going to go to church yesterday but didn´t. Tonight we´re going to see what happened. One problem in this sector for investigators is that to go to church they have to travel by bus, and it can cost a bit. It´s a sacrifice, but we have to help them do it.

Well, that´s all I have time for this week. It was a great one and hopefully it keeps up. I love my sector and my companion is great. Next week I´ll send pictures. Talk to you next week!

Elder Murdoch

Monday, December 20, 2010

Well, one more transfer done. Three more to go. This one passed really fast, and I´m afraid that the next three will as well. The good thing is that I´m sure that the next three will be great. Last night we got the transfer call. I was positive that both my companion and I were going to stay so I was surprised, sad, and upset when I got transferred. I´m bummed that I´ll miss the baptism of Carolina and her family, although I´ll count them as my converts. I also will not be able to spend Christmas with the family we had planned. But we will probably be with the Stake President, who lives in our ward and has an American family staying with him for a few weeks. So it will still be fun.

I am now in a zone called Los Andes (not to be confused with the mountain range, although it´s not too far away) in the ward San Felipe. The good part is that it´s all country, just like Idaho. I feel like I´ve already returned home. I love it here. Next week I´ll send a lot of pictures. My companion, Elder Hendricks, is from Boise, Idaho, and actually has family members in Malad. He´s great. He’s starting his third transfer so, once again, I´m with someone relatively new. It´ll be a great experience helping him learn, and I´m sure I´ll learn a lot from him.

Elder Hendricks tells me that we have one investigator, and she´s turning a little flakey. So we know have a great opportunity to show our faith and find more souls to teach and save. I´m really excited for this transfer.

Last week we went to the temple, and it was a great experience. I felt the Spirit really strong and left with a boost, a kind of Spiritual adrenaline, ready to work hard for the next four months. This week we´ll have an activity in the mission home, and the always long-anticipated call home. Oh, and Christmas.

Well, due to traveling 2 hours in a bus to the middle of nowhere, this email is not only late but short. I have no more time. So I will just end by wishing all a very merry Christmas and a Happy New year.

Elder Murdoch

Monday, December 13, 2010

Wow, last week went by really slow. Finally a slow week. The problem is that it was a tough one. We keep having trials, but as we teach, it is to help us grow. Last week we talked with Carolina and Luis a lot about trials, and after helping them so much, I have realized that I now need to apply the same lessons in my life.

Carolina and Luis are okay. They both went to church yesterday--her fourth time and his first, although he did wear a suit and tie. Looked good. She is slowly dropping tea and last week said that she doesn´t really feel the urgency to drink tea that she did before.
She has mentioned that she feels that she has some changes yet to make in her life. We told her that this is a life-long process. We always have changes to make in our life, whether we have several months or several decades in the church. We told her that she doesn´t need to be perfect before baptism, cause that will never happen. She is going to pray and meditate to see if she feels ready for this next Sunday. Luis, as well, committed to pray to know if the church is true and if Joseph Smith was a prophet. I believe that he will be baptized in January. Carolina has already received an answer and actually bore her testimony to us a couple of weeks ago. It was really great. They are a wonderful family. and we´ve learned a lot while teaching them.

This last week we had a zone training with President May. It was wonderful, and I learned a lot. But the best part wasn´t the training. Before it started, I had the opportunity to talk with one of the Elders who arrived at Dorsal 2, my last sector, as I left to come here. It was great talking with him about the sector, the members, and best of all, my converts. The sad part is that Patricio, 19, doesn´t go to church and now smokes and has a tattoo. That made me sad. But the good part is that my other converts there are active in the church. Eliana, who was the miracle we had right before transfers, is preparing to go to the temple for a tour and keeps progressing. That is wonderful!

Also, last night we went to visit a family and, much to our surprise, there were already two Elders there. One of them, Elder Boyce from Malad, Idaho, is finishing the mission and was visiting them. He has been is Carrion, another of my old sectors, and it was great talking to him about my converts there. Sadly again, there is a couple who aren’t going to church. But those that do go are really active. And I saw one this morning. We are downtown, which is actually close to Carrion. (I always hope to see someone that I know.) We were in a bus and I saw Nicolás outside in the street. I knocked on the window but he didn´t hear. By the time we got off the bus and started after him he was gone and I couldn´t find him. Rats! It would have been cool to talk to him, but it was at least nice to see him, especially knowing that he´s active in the church. He continues his studies in law, wanting to be a judge. Awesome!

Well, those are the highlights of the week. The weather has been really weird recently. We´re still not in the heart of summer, but getting close, so it should be really hot. I remember that last year at this time it was. But strangely enough it isn´t. It is pretty warm in the afternoon; but in the evening it cools down a lot, and at night and in the morning it´s really cold (considering that it´s summer). Really weird, but I´m not complaining.

Elder Murdoch

Monday, December 6, 2010

Well, this week was pretty tough. We have almost no one to teach, so we´re looking for more. But it´s been hard to find. We´re trying to work more with the members, and I´m sure that this will work out better than knocking doors.

Having said that, Carolina is doing great. She still isn´t sure when she wants to be baptized. But yesterday I asked her how she feels about baptism, and we realized that really her problem is the Word of Wisdom. She drinks a lot of tea, and it´s hard for her to stop. But she said that she´s already drinking less and starting to use herbal tea. That was her big problem, and if she can drop tea, she´ll be baptized soon. Hopefully this Sunday, but if not, maybe the 19. Nicolas as well wants to get baptized. And it gets better. Her husband, Luis, wasn´t living in the house for a while. He actually had left with another woman. But she left him and is now with another man, and Luis is trying to repent and return to the house. Well, really, he already has returned. The problem is that it´s hard for Carolina to forgive him for what he did. But they´re working on it and we´re helping them, and things are getting better there. He has shared a little with us, and we hope to help him get baptized as well. There really is a grand miracle waiting for that family.

Yesterday we had stake conference, and President and Sister May where there and both gave a talk. It was a great conference. The best happened at the end. A brother from Carrion, my other sector, who now is bishop, was there with his family. And they recognized me! It was great to talk with him for a little while. Sounds like the ward there is doing great as well.

I´ve had some great experiences as DL. I´ve been doing several baptismal interviews for the zone leaders and the sisters in my district. And I´ve learned a lot from the people that I interview. It´s been great seeing how they can change and develop a strong testimony. Saturday I interviewed a man who got baptized yesterday who before was addicted to cocaine and beer and smoked 40 cigarettes a day. And he dropped all of that and did a complete 180 in his life. We went to the baptism, and afterwards he gave his testimony. It was great, and the Spirit was there strong. It was a great experience.

Well, not having many investigators, I don´t have too much to say this week. Hope this week is better than the last one.

Have a great one!

Elder Murdoch

Monday, November 29, 2010

Wow, we´re already half way through the transfer. It´s been a pretty rough one, but things are going a little better. Carolina is doing well. We´ve had a lot of good experiences with her, and we know she´s received an answer about Joseph Smith. And she wants to get baptized. Nicolás, 10, also wants to get baptized and is helping a lot with his excitement. They have the goal for this next Sunday, and I think they´ll do it.

The problem is that after them we have no one else. But we have talked with a lot of good people and now just need to pass for them. Yesterday we had what´s called a sector attack. 4 companionships of missionaries came to our sector, and we gave them maps that I had prepared with the names and directions of some people to visit for two hours. No one could enter a house to teach but talked with other people and gave us several great referrals. So this week we´ll be passing for them to see if they´ll listen.

We also are working a lot with the members, which is really the best way. In our sector knocking doors doesn´t do much. But the members help us a lot, and we´re planning some activities with them. We hope to be able to find a lot more people and have more success.

Well, not much has happened so there´s not much to say. Hoping to have more to say next week. Have a great one!

Elder Murdoch

Monday, November 22, 2010

Well, this week was better than the last. And faster. I am now almost down to five months left and trying to work hard for all of it. Last week I got a big boost of energy to finish big. Thursday we had a zone conference with Elder Corbridge of the 70, who is in the Chile Area Presidency. It was obvious that he had no prepared talk. It was all based on our questions, comments, and the Spirit. But it was the best conference of my mission. He talked a lot about the importance of the Holy Ghost, which is the greatest thing that a man can have in this life. He said that the greatest trial in this life is when one does not have the Holy Ghost in his life, which happens when we sin. But thanks to Jesus Christ and his Atonement, we can be clean of our sins through faith, repentance, and baptism by immersion by someone who has the authority. This authority was lost after the death of Christ and his apostles but restored through a modern prophet. That´s a basic lesson outline that he gave us, and I´m excited to use it. I learned a lot from him, took a lot of notes, and it gave me one last boost of Spiritual energy to hopefully last through the rest of the mission.

And it only gets better. He was on what´s called a "Mission Tour" where he talks in several missions. As part of the tour during the conference, he picks several missionaries to interview afterwards. He picked, along with a few sisters, me and my companion. It made me nervous because the assistant, Elder Andelin (who was my comp in the MTC), came up to me afterward and said that President wanted to talk to me. I thought it was because we got there late, having gotten lost. But he didn´t even talk with me; just sent me to Elder Corbridge. He said there was no purpose of the interview, just to get to know me and talk for a few minutes. We talked a little about my plans after the mission and he gave a lot of advice. Afterwards he talked with my companion. Elder Corbridge, several years ago, was the mission president here in Santiago North, and it just so happens that my comp´s brother served under him. So my comp asked for a picture with Elder Corbridge, who was okay with that. Elder Corbridge then asked to take one with me. Just the two of us. Having arrived late to the conference we missed the big group picture with him, but that doesn´t even matter because we both got a personal picture with him. It was great.

Carolina is doing well. We´ve had some real great lessons with her and I´m sure that she feels that this is the true church. She wants to get baptized, but the other day mentioned that she´s afraid that there are some things she´ll have to change. I think she has heard of the Word of Wisdom before because she mentioned wanting to know "What I can and can´t eat." So what we did is we pulled out the six pamphlets of the lessons we teach before baptism. We showed her all and said "Look, you already have these 3, you just need these others." We gave her those three pamphlets and explained that we will be teaching her all of that before the baptism. Tonight we are going to teach the Word of Wisdom. We have seen coffee at her house before, so we bought some Ecco, which is a coffee here in Chile made of wheat, that is healthy and approved by the church. I don´t think she´ll have a problem with it. She should get baptized this next Sunday, along with Nicolás, who is 10. Felipe, 18, isn´t home as much and it´s harder to teach him. He also didn´t come to church yesterday. So we´ll end up baptizing him in December.

Time for the funny story. Well, not way funny for me, but a typical mission story. We were walking down the street the other day, my companion to my left, and on his left a car. Suddenly he started running, and I had no idea why. Then I first heard, and later saw the big German Shepard coming out from under the car. So I took off like a bullet. I ran for a while then looked behind to see where he was. He was inches from my back leg, so I pulled off my backpack and swung it at him. I´m sure that if I had looked back two seconds later or had not taken off my backpack, he would have gotten me. I got him just in time. Then he went after my comp, afraid of my backpack, getting between us. But my comp was too fast, so he came back to me. I squeezed between two cars and kept running. He finally decided that we weren´t going to bug him and let us go. But we kept running till we were sure he wasn´t following. My heart was racing and I had a huge adrenalin rush. It was quite the experience. One I wouldn´t want to relive but one that will be fun to tell in years to come.

Well, I´m out of time for now. This last week was a good one, and this next one shows hopes of being even better.

Elder Murdoch

Monday, November 15, 2010

This week was a good one. Passed really fast. Elder Ibarrola is great. We´ve had a couple of difficulties, but we keep working hard. Eduardo was confirmed yesterday. We´ve talked with him about the priesthood and hope he can receive it soon.

Gustavo is also interested in receiving the priesthood. They want to present (bless) their one-year-old son, and he would like to do it. Might need a little more time, but it would be great if he could.

Carolina is doing great. She and her sons traveled this weekend so they didn´t make it to church yesterday. But last week we went to the house of the Ramirez family and watched The Restoration with them. The spirit was really strong during it. Afterwards we read Galatians 5:22, which talks about the fruits of the Spirit. We asked her which of these fruits she felt during the movie and she responded, "All of them." She feels that this is true. Nicolás, who is 10, has shown a lot of interest and is excited to be baptized. He´s going to show an example for all of them. They are a great family. The sad part is that the dad left them. Yesterday he was there alone and we talked a lot with him. He had heard the message before and we talked a lot about the spirit and how he can know the truth. The Spirit was really strong and I know he felt something. We´ll see if anything happens with him.

We´re a little low on investigators right now. Working hard and trying to find more. We´re working a lot with the members and that should help a lot.

Well, that´s it for this week. It´s been a great experience being DL. I´m learning a lot from the sisters in my district. They´re really great. I love it.

Have a great week!
Elder Murdoch

Monday, November 8, 2010

Wow, that transfer just went flying by. But it was a good one. Tough, but good. And it ended with a great reward. Yesterday Eduardo was baptized!! Elder Webb did it, his last day in the sector. It was a great baptismal service. It´s been hard with him, but he finally did it. He stopped smoking and is really trying to change his life. He already has changed a lot, and I´m grateful to have stayed here this transfer to watch him continue.

Talking about transfers, I am now with my new companion. Elder Webb went to San Pablo, a zone where I have been before. He is training, opening the sector, and DL. I knew he was going to be training. Actually, the other day I even guessed that he was going to San Pablo. I called it!! I´m now with Elder Ibarrola. He´s from Paraguay and today starts his 4th transfer. More or less new, so I´ll be teaching him a lot; although he had a great trainer, so I´m sure he already knows a lot. I´m also District Leader over a companionship of sister missionaries. It´ll be a good transfer.

A couple months ago we had a training meeting with President May and the Assistants. (Side note: one assistant, Elder Andelin, was my companion in the MTC. Sweet!) They introduced us to a new activity that we are now doing with the families in the ward. It is based out of Jacob 5 about the olive grove (the longest chapter in the scriptures) and appropriately named The Lord´s Vineyard (La Viña del Señor). It is split into two lessons, one where we share a scripture about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and offer service. The next lesson we share a scripture about missionary work and a few select verses from Jacob 5. We then give them a special paper we have that has a place for the family name and a bunch of boxes, like an Excel page. We then have them write the names of all the people they know--neighbors, friends, relatives etc., regardless of if they´ve heard the missionaries or not. And really focusing that these are not referrals for us. Yet. After they get a list made, we invite them to pray as a family and pick one person with whom they, not us, can work. They can invite them to the church, FHE, give them a Book of Mormon, etc. and continue doing activities until they think that the family is ready to receive the missionaries. Then comes the cavalry. It works, too. I love it.

We did the Viña,(Vineyard) with an active family in the ward several weeks ago. I actually talked about them a couple weeks back, the Ramirez Family. I mentioned how they took a family with them to church. That family came from The Lord´s Vineyard. The mom is Carolina, with 3 sons--Felipe, 18, Nicolás, 10, and Andrés, 6. (Andrés is Spanish for Andrew, and it´s funny because he reminds me a lot of Andrew Simonson, just smaller.) They loved the church, and we´ve shared with them a couple times. Carolina and Felipe have a baptismal date for November 28. They have been reading a little in the Book of Mormon and progressing well. We are really excited to continue teaching them.

This last week I received a letter from a convert, Nicolás. He´s doing great--studying and working, (he studies laws) and always really busy. But he says that he always ends the day reading in the Book of Mormon. He has the Melchezidek Priesthood and is a counselor in the Quorum of Elders. His letter made me cry for joy, as he is staying really active in the church and progressing more and more. It made me real happy to hear from him.

Well, time´s up for this week. It was a great week and things should keep getting better from here.

Elder Murdoch

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Well, another week has ended and the last one of the transfer is now starting. This past week was really difficult. I don´t know why, but we passed through a lot of trials ranging from sickness to investigators not showing up to church to no one being home. It´s been tough, but we keep working and trying to keep up the faith and doing what we can with what we have.

A really big trial happened with Yasmina and Cielo, the referrals from a member. Cielo, 15, is niece of Yasmina, and they both are really interested and want to keep learning and get baptized. But we´ve had some problems with Marley, Yasmina´s mom. Last Sunday we visited them in the evening, and Marley had a friend over. Her name, or what she told us, is Maria Elena; and she´s Catholic. She told us that her dad´s Mormon even though she doesn´t know him. He served a mission and on the mission got her mom pregnant then left. She then said, "I think you guys do have a good time doing your thing, having kids, and leaving them." Another day Yasmina told us that that was a lie. Maria´s dad is not an RM, not even Mormon. During the whole lesson she was in the back with Marley. I knew they were talking bad about us, as they would look at us with not nice faces, laugh, etc. Neither one of us felt the spirit during the whole lesson, which was basically disastrous. The next day we visited Yasmina, but there wasn´t a man there so we couldn´t enter. We just talked at the door. She actually started crying and said she felt really bad for what had happened the night before. Thanks to the Catholic woman, Marley doesn´t want anything to do with the church and doesn´t want us to visit anymore. But Yasmina and Cielo do really bad. We´re trying to see if we can go with them to a member´s house, but it´s tough. Sister Retamal, the psychologist, was going to talk to Marley but hasn´t been able to yet. We talked with Yasmina a couple days later in the street and she said she´s tired of living with her mom, who doesn’t support her nor will she help with Yasmina´s little baby. Yasmina wants to find another house. That will make it easier for us to pass. Well, long story, but it´s been pretty rough on us and her. We´re praying lot to be able to visit her more.

But now let´s look on the bright side of things. This next Sunday, Eduardo will finally be baptized!!! He hasn´t smoked since Friday, and also took out his earrings. Yesterday we reviewed the questions for the baptismal interview, and he did well. He feels ready, and we feel that he is ready.

This morning, before starting P-Day we visited another referral from Sister Retamal who actually lives in the same apartment building as us. His name is Oscar, and he´s been having a hard time. A little more than a month ago his wife left him and took their 2-year old daughter with. He´s been having a tough time with it. He now lives alone, and this morning told us that he´s been feeling really alone and recently it´s hard to even get up in the morning. Unfortunately, we didn´t have much time; but we gave him a Book of Mormon with a couple paragraphs marked in the Introduction and also part of Alma 32, which compares faith to a seed. We promised him that this book can help him a lot in his life to be able to receive the comfort and the guidance he needs. He gave the closing prayer, kneeling, and it was touching. He thanked God for "these two people that are here to help me in my life" and the Spirit was really strong. We´re going to go by again tomorrow night. I´m really excited to be able to help him.

Well, that´s about it for this week, as time´s running out. Next week we have transfer´s and it´s really likely that my comp will leave. He was 4 transfers here, 6 months. The mission will receive 22 missionaries, but none leave so there will be a lot of opening sectors and trainers. Some think I will be one. We´ll have to see.

Elder Murdoch

Monday, October 25, 2010

Well, now that I´m not going to therapy almost every day the time is starting to fly again. Maybe I should go back. Well, maybe not. I am glad to be done. Friday we went to the doctor who sent me to therapy for a check-up, and he said that my elbow is doing great and I don´t have to go back now. Actually, he really was surprised. He said that it got better a lot faster than normal. I know that there was a lot of heavenly help and prayers behind my fast recovery.

This last week was a good one and a difficult one. We found some great people. Sister Retamal, the psychologist, gave us a couple more referrals that we were able to contact. One, Alexi, is really humble and willing to learn. The other, Oscar, lives really close to us and lives alone. His wife left him a little more than a month ago and took the 2-year old daughter with her. He wants to change his life to be able to get them back. We haven´t shared much with the two men, but they both showed a lot of interest and we hope to help them with their problems.

Once again no one that we have been teaching went to church. But a family brought their neighbors with them. This family, Ramirez, is really great. They´re active in the church; he is in the Presidency of Elders Quorum. Their daughter, Constanza, is going to BYU to learn English next year. They have invited a family that lives in front of them to church and FHE a lot, but they´ve never been able to come. Yesterday they did. The mother is named Carolina, and she has 3 sons--Felipe, 18, Tomás, 10, and the third I don´t know the name. The sad part is that just last week the husband left them. The good part is that they loved the church and want to learn more. Tomorrow we´re going to visit them. Hopefully we can help them.

Eduardo is doing, well, okay. He didn´t go to church yesterday or last week because he slept through, even though the rest of the family went. But he is slowly stopping smoking. This past week we found an empty cigarette box on the ground (pretty common here) and filled it with homemade cigarettes, which is really a rolled up piece of paper with a scripture written on it. It´s been helping him. He has a new baptismal date for November 7. Two weeks. We´re praying a lot for him to be able to do it.

We have a few other people that we are teaching. We are preparing for November and should have a lot of success. And a lot of heat. Things are warming up here as we are entering summer, and I am really missing the coldness and the snow of Idaho. But next year I´ll be up there, so I just have to wait for now and deal with the heat.

Well, have a great week!

Elder Murdoch

Monday, October 18, 2010

What a strange week I just had. It seemed really long but passed really fast as well. Things are going great, but we are also having plenty of difficulties. For example, yesterday we had 8 investigators committed to go to church. Zero arrived. Not one. But it´s a good opportunity to see what we can do better this week to help them come next Sunday.

We are finding a lot of great people to teach. A couple weeks ago we passed for an inactive member and met her father-in-law, who is starting to live with her. We´ve taught a lot, and he accepts it all. He´s Catholic, but just because his parents were; and he easily understands that his baptism wasn´t valid. He has a baptismal date for November 7.

Paolo, the kid whose parents are inactive is doing great. They didn´t go to church yesterday but felt bad about it. His mom wants to go slowly, which is understandable. But she does want to be active in the church and baptize her son. That´s a great family.

Macarena was going to get baptized yesterday but hasn´t been progressing much, and it didn´t happen. She says she doesn´t feel ready. We´ve told her that the reason is because she´s not praying or reading the Book of Mormon. She didn´t even go to church yesterday. Tonight we´re going to go by and have a "frank lesson" and drop her. Sad.

Last week I talked about Sister Retamal, the psychologist who gave us a referral of a Peruvian family. They´re doing okay. Marley, the grandma, hasn´t been home a lot. But her daughter, Yasmina, and Yasmina´s niece, Cielo, have a baptismal date for November 14. And if they can make it, Yasmina´s 8-year-old daughter, Briza, will follow her.

Sister Retamal gave us another referral named Cristina. (Sister Retamal knows a ton of people and always gives us great referrals) She went with us to talk to Cristina, and it was a great lesson. Cristina has had a lot of problems. She was physically abused by her husband who then left her. Six of her seven children aren´t living with her--we still don´t understand the whole situation. And she´s also really sick. Sister Retamal told her that she needs to change her life and needs to start now, and we´re here to help. She accepted it as well as the invitation to go to church. But when Sister Retamal went to pick her up she was sick and couldn´t go. Well, we can´t do too much about her health, aside from a blessing; but we´re going to help her a lot with her spiritual problems.

Eduardo is still having some problems. He really does want to get baptized, but he has to change and doesn’t want to. We´ve done basically all we can. It´s all in his hands now.

Well, time up. That´s all for this week. As a last thing I want to share something I talked about with my mom. The mission starts out as a sacrifice both for the family and the missionary. But Elder King, my last companion who finished the mission, taught me something about that that I love. I don´t remember word for word, but basically he said that when a sacrifice helps someone in their life, it no longer is a sacrifice, but rather a blessing. That is roughly translated. I like it better in Spanish, but it is true. The mission starts out as a sacrifice, but as I help more and more people to change their lives, it becomes a blessing for them, me, and my family.

Have a great week!

Elder Murdoch

Monday, October 11, 2010

Well, this week was actually kind of slow. It seemed a lot longer. I guess that´s a good thing, right? Not really, because I think the reason it was so long was because of the elbow therapy every morning. But my elbow is feeling a little better, so this week should finish it up.

Things are going great here. Eduardo didn´t get baptized yesterday, but he will, don´t worry. He really wants to get baptized, but he´s not quite ready yet. He still has to stop smoking. Also, here in Chile there´s a type of music called Reggaeton, and the way to dance to it is not appropriate. And he likes to do it. Yesterday he told us that he thinks that it´s to do with this age (he´s 15) and that with time he´ll get bored with it. We read in Joshua 24:15 where it says to choose today whom ye will serve, and also Matthew 6:24 that says "No man can serve two masters..." We explained that he has to choose, and only he can do it. He has the power to change, and time won´t affect that. Time really has little to do with it. If he wants he can change tomorrow or in five years. I shared with him the example of writing in my journal saying that I´m busy, but later my activities will end and I´ll have more time to do it. Then the time passes, I have time, and I still don´t do it. The scripture in Joshua says "Choose ye THIS DAY.." He thought for a while and said that we´re right. So he´s hopefully going to work a little harder to make the necessary changes in his life. He really right now is in a tough situation. We´ve taught him everything, and he knows so much that if he doesn´t change, he´ll be condemned according to John 3:5. But if he does get baptized and continues with the same life, condemned. We´re doing all we can to help him realize this and change. He does want to get baptized, but it will probably be in November.

There is a Sister in the ward who works in a health center as a psychologist and thus knows a lot of people. The other day we visited her and she gave us a ton of referrals. Four of them are a family from Peru. They are really humble, as are the majority of the Peruvians here. The family consists of the grandma, Marley, her daughter, Yasmina, her daughter, Cielo (15), and Yasmina´s niece Briza (8). (Cielo is Spanish for heaven, or sky, and Briza is breeze. Pretty cool.) They are really great. They´re Catholics but, because of tradition--like most of Chile, they are really willing to learn and accept everything we teach. Yasmina has prayed about Joseph Smith and received an answer and believes he was a prophet, but she fears that she lacks the faith to follow the answer. We left her a scripture in the Book of Mormon to help with that. They’re a great family, and they can be baptized. Maybe on the 31st or in November.

We had another miracle yesterday. A little more than a month ago we were knocking an apartment building and talked with a woman named Patricia. She was really interested and told us to come back another day. But then she was never home and after several times of passing by and not finding her, we stopped going. Yesterday, about a month later, she showed up to church with her husband, Renzo, and son, Paolo. Turns out she and Renzo are inactive members, and Paolo isn´t baptized yet. We visited them after church and talked about baptism. Paolo wants to get baptized, and his parents also want him to. That right there is great, because if they didn´t, it would be harder. But they will be there to help him. He´s a great kid and will be baptized the 31st.

Last night we visited Gustavo and the family and they told us a great story that happened to them. Like I´ve said, he works in a mine. He´s not actually in the mine, rather drives trucks to different parts. BIG trucks. The other week they were short of trucks, so some workers got vacations and others, including Gustavo, would keep working, going home at night and back to work the next day. Which is different because he´s usually up there every day for a week, then home for a week. Then one day the boss came to him and said, "You´re going to be in the truck with me." A couple days later the boss invited Gustavo and the family over for dinner. When they got there they had a present for Gustavo´s son, Jeremias, (who got baptized a couple months ago) even though it was his second time even seeing the boss. It was a new computer, a really nice one that has the computer and monitor combined in one. Wow! Then more happened. Gustavo used to sing in a heavy metal band that later ended. In April, they did a gig that he never got paid for. Last week they paid him. They´re suddenly receiving so many blessings. And the best part: they give the credit to Gustavo´s baptism. They have a lot of faith and are great.

Well, that´s it for this week.

Elder Murdoch

Monday, October 4, 2010

Well, this was quite the week. It was great and not so great. It was a little tougher to work. I guess I´ll start with the face. As of last summer, I´ve been getting sunburned. Even when I put on sunscreen. But a couple weeks ago it suddenly started peeling, like real bad. I was given special permission to wear a hat, which is pretty sweet, but that helps more to prevent, not heal. So Thursday we went to a dermatologist. I had put on some lotion that Mom sent with me. We think that I had an allergic reaction to something in the lotion. So the dermatologist gave me another cream, and one more that she said started in the states and recently arrived here(called Eucerin, or Aquaphor), and one for my hands cause the knuckles are cracked, and a special sunscreen, and some pills. Wow. I´m now longer putting cream on my face than I am in the shower. But I´m already a lot better. The problem with that was that we had almost no time to work Thursday, being at the doctor all day. And Conference also cut into working time as well. So, basically, we didn´t have the best week number-wise. But it was still okay.

Also, the other day they finally, after more than 3 weeks, called me to go do therapy on my elbow. We went in this morning, which took a lot of time and travel. They did some stuff with me and said to come back tomorrow. Actually, I have 9 visits more, so I´ll be down there a lot. But it should hopefully help me, and hopefully that will be the end of my doctor trips. After having swine flu, pneumonia, fractured elbow, and peely face, I hope to pass the last 6-ish months of my mission without health problems.

We did get to see General Conference. I loved it. There were many great talks. As I said last October and again in April and will probably say next April, this was the best General Conference of my life. I loved the talk about pride by President Uchtdorf in Priesthood Meeting. It´s something I have to work on, so it helped me a lot. Also, Elder Kevin R. Duncan, who was sustained as 70 in April, was the mission president here in Chile Santiago North before President May. It was a great Conference, and I´m already excited for the next one. I can´t wait until the Liahona comes out to be able to read the talks and study them a little more.

Eduardo is doing great. His baptism should be this Sunday. His step-father has been a little worried, thinking that he just wants to be baptized because Noelia, his sister, did it, or because his parents are members, etc. So we promised him that we will really check up on Eduardo´s testimony. But we have seen many changes in Eduardo, and we feel that he is ready. He understands why baptism is important, and wants to do it. He has said that he knows this is the only church he wants to follow. Also, the other day he told us he´s received an answer about Joseph Smith. He said, "You guys said that an answer comes like something in your chest, right? Well, then I got it." When we asked him to explain more, he said, "The other night I was praying and my chest filled." It´s especially amazing because it´s been hard to get him to pray. But he´s now doing it, and it really helps. He is ready for Sunday.

Macarena should also get baptized the 17th. She has a few doubts but is progressing well. Also, her younger sister, Francisca, has shown interest. One day when we passed last week she was there and listened. She accepted baptism and has a date for the 31st. We couldn´t teach too much for lack of time, but she understood what we did teach; and we left her with a Book of Mormon and the promise to read and pray. Tonight we´ll go by and see how it went.

Well, that´s about all for now. We keep being blessed with more people. As those we have get baptized, we find more. I know that this is the work of the Lord, and His hand is always present in it.

Elder Murdoch

Noelia's Baptism

Gustavo's Baptism

Top of Cerro (hill) Renca

Monday, September 27, 2010

Well, the transfer ended wonderfully, with Gustavo´s baptism Saturday and his and Noelia´s confirmation Sunday. Gustavo is really excited to continue in the church and should receive the priesthood in a couple weeks. He will be a great leader in the church. After the baptism and he had changed clothes and returned, his wife (who was inactive for 15 years and now is active) gave her testimony and made me cry a little. They have a baby of like 10 months, Zacharías, and she said to Gustavo, "I hope that you are able to baptize him." They are a wonderful family, and I´m grateful to have been able to teach them.

Noelia is also doing great. She got confirmed like I said and is learning a lot in Primary. She turns 12 in a week, so in January she´ll be in Young Women. Eduardo is progressing slow but steady. He´s slowly stopping smoking and the other day took out his earrings.
He showed up to church without them, but when we passed a few hours later he had put them back in. Slow and steady, little by little he´s getting there. He will be baptized in October.

We´ve started teaching a former investigator, Macarena. (Heeeyyyy, Macarena!!) Two years ago she listened to the missionaries in the house of her cousin. The cousin´s dad is bishop of their ward. Macarena told us that during that time her biggest dream was to get baptized. She even accompanied the missionaries! She basically was a dry member. (That´s what we say when someone is basically a member, they just haven´t been baptized.) The problem was that she lives here and was listening somewhere else. So the missionaries told her that she had to get baptized here not there. She then stopped going to church and the fire went out. The other day we visited her with an RM. She showed a lot of interest in baptism, and we asked her what would stop her from getting baptized. The only thing she has a problem with is going to church. If she can conquer that, the rest she´s okay with. We´ve worked a lot with that, and yesterday she went!! The fire is slowly building back up. She should also get baptized in October.

Well, I´m out of time, so I guess that´s all for this week. Things are going great here. In a sector that didn´t baptize in almost a year we´re having a ton of success. Really, it´s all just the faith and attitude of the missionaries. Like Elder Costa told us in a devotional, if we think we can baptize, we can. If not, we won´t. Any sector, any missionary can baptize.

Elder Murdoch

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Well, we´re now on the last week of the transfer. I don´t know where all the time went, but it´s gone. But we don´t think anything will happen with transfers. We´ll both probably stay here. This week was a great one, ending with Noelia´s baptism Sunday. It was a great experience. Everyone got emotional, even her aunt who is Catholic. The aunt actually now wants to come to church every week. Maybe we can teach her some. This family really has changed. We´ve been able to help them a lot. The younger, Antonia, will turn 8 in January and will be baptized. She´s really excited for it. Also, the dad, Ivan, is working with the oldest brother, Yahir, 19, to help him get the Priesthood and prepare for a mission. It really has been a blessing for them and us to see the changes happening.

Noelia´s other brother, Eduardo, 15, is having some difficulties. He wants to get baptized, but he has to stop smoking, and the Law of Chastity will be a problem for him. But he´s progressing well and will hopefully get baptized in October. We also had some problems with Noelia´s friend, Kati, 9. Her mom is an inactive and doesn´t want to go to church. She also thinks that Kati is too young to get baptized. She said that if Kati wants she can, but she doesn’t think she should. We´re going to pass tonight with the bishop so she can know him and maybe he can help her.

We had a miracle with Gustavo last week. He´s been having doubts, and we´ve been working a lot to help him. Last Monday we had not planned to visit him, having only 3 hours to work after P-Day. Half an hour before leaving, I felt really strongly that we needed to visit him. So we decided to go. Elder Webb brought his Preach My Gospel manual, and we read a quote about conversion. It says "When the Spirit touches the heart, hearts are changed." That really touched him (pun intended) as well as some other scriptures we shared. After a long pause he asked, "When do you have baptisms?" We said any day depending on the person but usually Sundays. He said, "I think I could do it the 26th... I don´t see why not to do it." Luckily his wife wasn´t there. He said that he wants it to be a secret for her. If she would have been there or if we would have passed the next day, he wouldn´t have said anything. Only the Lord could have inspired us to pass Monday night cause we had no idea that she wasn´t there or that he would say that.

Yesterday we found some great people. Mauricio is about 23 and accepted a baptismal date for October 24. We also found a family of five with three sons of 18, 15, and 9. They are great and can get baptized in October. Should be a pretty successful month.

Last week was Chile´s Independence Day. We went to the ward party at the church. It was really fun. We watched some people dance Cueca (the national dance of Chile) and ate a lot of food. It was great.

Well, I´m out of time, so I´ll finish more next week.
Have a great week!

Elder Murdoch

Monday, September 13, 2010

Wow, the weeks keep getting shorter and shorter. I know I say that every week, but it still feels like I only said it a couple days ago, and I´ll probably say it in a couple more. Time is passing way fast, too fast for me. But you know what they say: Time brings change. I feel that I have changed a lot, physically and spiritually. My testimony has never been so tried and tested, nor so strengthened. This really is an edifying experience, for me and those that I teach.

This week was a little tough. Let me back up a couple months and remind you about my elbow that I fractured. The past few weeks it has been hurting, and I can´t do pushups, lift heavy things, etc. So I talked with the doctor, and Thursday we went in to see what´s up. He had me take another X-Ray, and then comparing it with the one from 21/2 months ago said that the fracture, instead of getting better, is a little bit bigger. So he´s going to have me do therapy, which will probably be 10 visits he said. I´m still waiting for them to call me and say when to go. It´s a long trip there, actually out of the mission limits, so I´m really not wanting to do it. But I´m going to try and do everything they tell me so that I can get better and not have to go anymore. And so I can get back to doing pushups again.

Being at the doctor Thursday, we got home at 7:00 and had 3 hours to work. Short day. Plus we wasted a lot of time and money traveling. The good thing that came out of the trip was that I was able to eat Subway. Subway restaurants are few here, so I took advantage to grab a foot-long Italian BMT with cheddar, toasted, with lettuce, tomato, olives, mayo and mustard, on Italian herbs and cheese. Just like always. Mmmmmm!!! It was really good.

Saturday was another adventure. It was the 11th of September, anniversary of the World Trade Centers. Also anniversary of some revolution that took place here in Chile many years ago. As part of tradition, there are always demonstrations and violence. People do stuff like throw chains at light posts to cut the power, start bonfires in the street, walk around with guns, etc. In some parts not much happens, but in other parts it can be pretty dangerous. So President May told us to go to the house at 8 instead of 10, or earlier if necessary. We, fortunately, live in a new apartment complex, with a gate, wall, and guardhouse, so it´s pretty safe. But right in front there are block buildings, about 27, in a place called La Pucará, which is really dangerous. We ended up going home at 7.
Nothing happened to us, but we did hear gunshots and the next morning there were remnants of bonfires in a couple of streets. Pretty exciting.

This next Saturday is the 18th, which is Chile´s Independence Day, this year being the Bicentennial. Thursday, we´ll go to a ward activity in the church. The best part is the food. They have a lot of traditional foods here that are really good, so we´ll be eating a lot.
Well, not too much hopefully. :)

Talking about food, last week we were finally able to fix our stove, which didn´t have a tube to hook up to the propane. We bought one and a brother who lives close helped us attach it. So now I´m actually eating breakfast. For the past 7-8 months breakfast has been either cereal or nothing. Maybe an apple. Now I´ve been making fried eggs and toast, French toast, omelets, etc. I can finally eat a real breakfast. Plus last night I discovered the blender we have and made an orange-banana smoothie and this morning made one of strawberry-banana. Yummy.

Noelia is doing great. She´s way excited for her baptism this next Sunday. Her friend, Kati, should also get baptized; we just need to get permission from her parents and teach her a few more lessons. Noelia´s brother, Eduardo, will be a little tougher. He also wants to get baptized and has a date for the 26th. But he´s, well, gone a little out of the path. He has a couple of earrings and tattoos and is really rebellious. We´ve taught him the Word of Wisdom and the Law of Chastity. He smokes but has already decided that he wants to quit, so we´ll be able to help him with that. But he goes to a lot of parties, some with dirty dancing, so he said the Law of Chastity will be hard. Yesterday, he mentioned how in the Gospel Principles class there are a lot of older people and asked if there´s someone his age(15). We said yes, there are a lot of teenagers his age, and he said "Yeah, I saw quite a bit of girls there." Lol. We said yep, there are a lot of young men, young women, and you can find a lot of friends there. He was pretty excited about that, and we´re hoping that he can find a lot of friends in the church that can help him, even without realizing, to live the Law of Chastity. Maybe he can trade his old partying friends for new friends in the church. That would be a big help.

Gustavo is okay. He still wants more time, but he´s starting to realize the importance of baptism. Last night we talked a little about it and he said "It´s like getting cleaned even though I shower every day. Haha. But it´s more of cleaning your spirit." So he´s understanding a little more that it´s something he needs to do. We´re praying and fasting a lot, and I think he´ll be able to get baptized the 26th.

Not to startle or anything, but the other day we heard some interesting news. Supposedly there are a lot of volcanoes in Chile, and several are active. One is becoming more and more active, and if it were to go off, it would cover all of Santiago. They´re studying it to see what´s going to happen, but as of now nothing much seems to be going on.

The weather´s getting warmer here. Yesterday and Friday it rained quite a bit and was kind of cold. But, aside from that, it´s getting real warm. We´ve started working in short-sleeved shirts without coats, and even then it´s warm. With an occasional breeze it feels really good, but the bad news is that in a month or two it´ll be really hot, and I´ll be wishing for winter. I guess that´s just the way it is. Freezing in winter and wanting summer, and sweating in summer while wishing for winter. Never happy. Why can´t there be just an intermediate?

Well, that´s it for this week. Now to start another short, fast week of work. Have a great one!

Elder Murdoch

Monday, September 6, 2010

Man, the time passes way too fast! I just barely got here and now the transfer´s half over! The good news is that it´s been a great time. I love it here and have really been enjoying the time. Yesterday Jeremias got confirmed. He´s really excited, and his mom´s happy too.
His dad, Gustavo, is doing okay too. He´s had some problems. Last week I mentioned that he was having a problem with the Word of Wisdom, not thinking that it´s too bad to drink a tiny bit of wine or beer every once in a while. The other day we passed and he hadn´t been reading in the Book of Mormon, so we read with him. He was on 1 Nephi 9, a short chapter when Nephi´s saying "I´m making two records with the plates, one for this reason, blah blah etc." At the very end he says "Wherefore, the Lord hath commanded me to make these plates for a wise purpose in him, which purpose I know not. But the Lord knoweth all things from the beginning; wherefore, he prepareth a way to accomplish all his works among the children of men; for behold, he hath all power unto the fulfilling of all his words. And thus it is. Amen." We explained that at times we don´t understand all things but the Lord does, and He knows why we have certain commandments. If we trust in him and have the faith to obey, we will receive the blessings and maybe even understand why, but not till "after the trial of our faith." That helped him a lot and he committed to drop 100% beer, wine, cigarettes, etc.

Noelia´s doing great too. This last week we finished teaching all the lessons. Now we just have to wait till the 19th. We were going to do it yesterday, but her mom wants us to wait. So it´ll be the 19th, along with her friend, Kati. We´ve also been talking with Noelia´s brother, Eduardo. He has a lot of problems in his life. Actually the whole family´s had problems. But we´ve already seen a lot of changes for the better. He´s a great teenager; he just needs more love in his life. He also is preparing for the 19th.

With Gustavo, Kati, Noelia and Eduardo, we have 4 sure baptisms this month. But we set the goal of 5, meaning we lack one. We have people that could do it, but they would have to go to church every week starting this next Sunday to meet the requirement of three times in the church. I´ve been kind of worried about it all, but I still have the faith that we can do it because we set the goal with fasting and prayer and it is what we felt. Last night I was praying and poured out my spirit to God, telling him that I know we can do it but not without him; we really need his help to do it. I felt a calming and felt a voice, that one we all know so well, say "Don´t worry. Patience, I´m working on it." I know where it came from and that He will help us reach our goal of 5 baptisms this month.

Well, that´s all for this week. My faith and testimony are really growing, and it´s been great to feel it. When I arrived at the MTC and later here in Chile, I had just a basic testimony. Now, after 16 months, I still have just a basic testimony. But it´s stronger and firmer than when I got here. It´s really been an edifying experience.
Have a great week!

Elder Murdoch

Monday, August 30, 2010

Wow, this last week was the fastest one of my mission. I remember having the last P-Day, then two days later it was Friday, and the next morning I woke up and it's Monday! Time's passing way to fast.

Yesterday Jeremias was baptized. It was a great baptismal service. It ran smooth, with a song from the Primary, testimonies from the Primary, a short clip from "Finding Faith in Christ" and the Spirit.
It was the best service of my mission. Also Jeremias' dad, Gustavo, who has a baptismal date for the 12th, was there and he loved it.
Jeremias is really happy.

Gustavo is also progressing okay. One problem is that he works/rests for 7 days. Every Thursday he leaves or arrives here. So we have to take advantage of the little time we have. Last night he told us that he really wants to get baptized, of that there is no doubt. But he wants more time. He said he has a couple doubts, one of which has to do with the Word of Wisdom. He doesn't think it's bad to have just a small cup of wine or beer every once in a while. He said "I'm not a drug addict, or a drunk. I hardly drink at all. But I don't think it's bad to drink just a little every once in a while." So we're trying to help him with that. But he'll get baptized in September.

Noelia is progressing really fast. She would be baptized this next Sunday, but her mom thinks it's a little soon so she wants us to do it the 19th, the original date. That's okay with us. Yesterday she went to church, along with her mom and dad, who are both inactive. It was really great. Her friend, Kati, who also will be baptized the 19th, are progressing really well. And they both are excited to get baptized.

Well, that's all for this week. I hope time can slow down. We have so much to do and so little time to do it in. I'm really having a great week.

Elder Murdoch

Elders Webb and Murdoch with Jeremias and family

Elder Webb, Jeremias, Elder Murdoch

Monday, August 23, 2010

Oh, man! I could never even hope to be able to explain how excited I am to be here where I am. Words could never be enough to describe my feelings. This week was probably the best one of my mission. I love it here. We have a great sector and ward with lots of potential. It´s the exact opposite of what I´ve heard. Because the people in this community are so rich (I always feel like I´m in the States) it has a reputation of being really hard. But I don´t believe it at all. Last week we had more success than any week in my last sector, which supposedly the people there were more receptive. Actually, in the sector I´m in now there hasn´t been a baptism for a year. But we´re going to end that starting this next Sunday.

This might be my last sector. But also it will probably be my most successful. We have a lot of great people we are teaching. We actually will have a baptism this next Sunday and every week in September with a goal of 5 baptisms in that month. This morning, after much prayer, I set a personal goal of 5 baptisms every month for the rest of my mission. With 8 months left that will be 40 baptisms, not counting the one this next week as it is still August. It´s a lot, but it´s possible; and I´ll be praying and fasting a lot to be able to achieve it.

As I mentioned, this Sunday we will have a baptism. His name is Jeremias and he´s 11 years old. His mom was an inactive member, but she´s now returning to the church. Jeremias is really excited for his baptism. His dad, Gustavo, is also preparing to be baptized the 12th of September, three weeks from yesterday. Gustavo works a lot, being gone Thursday to Thursday then home till the next Thursday, etc. So he can only make it to church every other week, otherwise he´d get baptized this week as well. But he´s still progressing well.

Last night we went to visit Jeremias, and when we got there they had a surprise visitor. Carolina is 22, and Marcela, mom of Jeremias, had purposely invited her over knowing we´d show up soon after. They supposedly were talking about something else and somehow got on the topic of religion. Marcela taught a little about the Book of Mormon, the Restoration, I don´t know what else. Several days earlier, I had accidently left a little General Conference Ensign fold-out that has the pictures of the 1st Presidency, the Twelve, and the Seventy. Jeremias brought it over to her and said "I present you to the prophet." hahaha, yeah! Shortly after that we got there and met her. She says she has a lot of questions and doubts about our religion. She has a friend in the university who´s a member and he gave her a copy of the Book of Mormon. We watched "The Restoration" with her and invited her to read the Introduction of the Book of Mormon and pray to know that it´s true and that Joseph Smith was a prophet. We´ll be calling this week to maybe visit her one day.

Last Monday we decided to knock some doors and, following the Spirit, picked a random apartment building. At the first door we knocked, a 19-year-old named Yahir (It´s said like jay-ear) answered and let us in. Turns out he and his mom are inactive members. He has an 11-year-old sister, Noelia, who isn´t a member. Yet. She has a baptismal date for the 19th of September. Actually, we´ve been sharing a lot with them, and yesterday the Mom, Susanna, and Noelia, as well as a friend, Kati, 9, went to church. The little girls loved it, and Kati now has a baptismal date for the 19th of September, as well as Noelia. Yesterday after church we asked Noelia how she feels for the 19th. She said, "Impatient." We asked her what she means by that and she responded, "I want to get baptized now." Wow. So we´ll probably change her date to the 5th. Tonight we´re going to pass by for Kati to meet her parents and get their permission to teach and baptize her. And maybe teach them if they want.

Saturday we went to the chapel next to the temple and had a devotional. It was the whole mission of Santiago North and Santiago East. The speaker was Elder Costa of the Seventy. Elder Amado of the Seventy, also President of the Chile Area Presidency, was also there and he spoke a little as well as the wives. It was a great devotional and really pumped me up a lot.

Well, that´s all for now. This will be a great time here in Quilicura. Something kind of funny--My Zone Leader, Elder Christensen, was in my district in the MTC, and was Zone Leader there also. The other ZL, Elder Carrasco from Peru, also arrived here in Chile with us. So the three of us have the same time. Pretty cool.

Well, have a great week!

Elder Murdoch

Quilicura is a rich area

Our apartment building in Quilicura

Monday, August 16, 2010

Well, one more week down, and with it a transfer ends as well. Elder King left early this morning, and I am now with my new companion. Actually, also in my new sector. Sadly, they took me out of Dorsal 2. Another Elder will be opening and training. I´m now further north in the mission, having spent all of it up till now more south. I´m in a zone called Quilicura. The ward is Lo Campino, but just like Dorsal, there are 4 missionaries so I´m in Lo Campino 2. I´m with an Elder Webb from Arizona, who has a few transfers less than me. He´s a good Elder, and we should get along well. Quilicura is the rich community of Santiago, and supposedly our sector is the richest of Quilicura. It does have a kind of poor part, but most of it is really rich with a lot of really nice apartment buildings. That means it´ll be tough because the richer the people, the less receptive they are. I had heard before that Quilicura is tough and that the best way to work here is with the members. Kind of like the States I guess. But Elder Webb told me that we should have a baptism of a 9-year-old boy in two weeks and his father two weeks later. The mom is a member, recently becoming active again. Hopefully, we can have a lot of baptisms here. Even though Quilicura is though, when Elder King was here in another sector, he had the most success of his mission. So there is a lot of potential.

I was really sad to receive the news that I was leaving. I´ve come to love Dorsal; the members are great, and I love them all. Last night we spent some time with one of the families that we have really come to love and they us. It being my companion´s last day they had purchased a cake to send him off. Later in the night, after receiving the transfers, I called them to say what happened. I talked with Brother Canales, the dad, for a while, then he passed me to his wife. She started crying, which got me crying a little as well. Actually, I had a feeling that I was going to leave even though it was more likely that I would stay. All day yesterday as Elder King said goodbye to someone, they would then turn to me and say, "Oh, we´ll be seeing each other." Every single time it happened I got a knot in my stomach and thought "I hope so." Something inside told me that I would be leaving. Unfortunately, it was right. I really didn´t want to leave. But even so, I am way excited to be here, to know a new companion, new sector, members, etc.

One of the reason´s that I´m really sad is that I left behind a family of 4 that should get baptized in September. The family of Moises. He´s progressing very well, although we don´t know why he didn´t go to church yesterday. They suddenly had to leave somewhere Saturday, so they might not have returned in time. But Friday we met his mom, and she´s really receptive and very nice. She said she´s been wanting to meet us and listen some. She asked us to pass by Saturday because she has a lot of questions. But then they had to leave. But they’re a great family, and they all can be baptized. There´s the mom, dad, Moises, who is 16, and Marcelo, who will turn 8 September first. I´m sad I won´t be here when they get baptized. But the important thing is that they get baptized.

Speaking of baptism, Eliana got baptized yesterday!! It was a huge miracle. I already mentioned last week about what happened. Wednesday, two weeks ago, we taught her tithing, and Word of Wisdom, both of which she accepted. She had to stop drinking coffee, but we gave her a package of Ecco, which is like coffee made with grain, which is healthy so we can drink it. That Sunday she didn´t go to church. We didn´t hear from her till Thursday, when suddenly God put us in her path, and we ran into her in the street. She said to call us Friday to get together, but Friday she didn´t pick up the phone at all. Or Saturday either. So then our hope, which had picked up Thursday, was lost. But then she showed up to church yesterday!! During the Gospel Principles class we sat next to her, and she suddenly said "Well, I guess I´m not getting baptized today. I didn´t come last week and showed up late today." But we told her that she can, she just has to decide to. Elder King said, "Look, the font takes four hours to fill, Elder Mangels (another Elder in the ward, who was a DL) can do the interview, and we can have the baptism at 5:00. She decided that yes, she wanted to. So she and Elder Mangels did the interview in the bishop´s office, we started filling the font, and she was baptized!!! It really was an unexpected miracle.

More good news. Last week in a zone conference I was able to talk to Elder Nicholas, an old companion, who is also in my previous ward, Carrión. I took advantage to ask him about some converts. Unfortunately, many are inactive. But Tomás and Nicolás still go. And Nicolás recently received the Melchizedek Priesthood and is the 2nd counselor in the Elders Quorum. Yea!!

Well, that´s about all I have time for this week. Have a great week!

Elder Murdoch

Members in Dorsal 2

Members in Dorsal 2

Diego, Eliana's son

Eliana's baptism

Monday, August 9, 2010

Well, another week gone. Today starts the last week of the transfer.

Moises is doing great. We visited him a few times last week. He has a baptismal date for August 29. Thursday we left him the homework of reading 1 Nephi 8, about Lehi´s vision of the tree of life. Friday when we returned, he explained the whole chapter to us. He is really smart and understands everything. He even understood right away that his baptism in the Catholic church wasn´t valid and he needs a new one. We took him to an activity in the church Friday. Unfortunately, they got behind schedule, and we had to leave before it even started in order to be in the house in time. He left with us so didn´t get to see it either. But he wasn´t at all upset. He loved it even so. He loved the church building, having thought that it was going to be really small. And a lot of people greeted him, and he found a couple friends. Unfortunately, when he woke up yesterday he felt sick, so he wasn´t able to go to church, even though he really wanted. But he will get baptized soon. He´s great. For only 16, he´s really smart and spiritual. Probably more spiritual than any other 16-year-old I have ever met, including myself.

Thursday we had a Zone Conference with President May. We talked a lot about a new plan that the church mission department came out with. For the next few weeks we´ll be having several training meetings where we will be learning a lot about the new plan. There will be several changes. One of these will be that interviews with President will be every three months instead of every six weeks. Plus Zone Conferences will also be every three months. Supposedly this new way of doing things will give President more time to work with the missionaries and train us better. It should help the mission a lot.

Well, I had a couple more strange food experiences this week. The first one was a cheese that someone gave us with bread. But this wasn´t just any kind of cheese. This was pighead cheese. That´s right. They take the fat off of the pig´s head, and somehow make a cheese with it. The taste is really weird, and it looks even worse. The other was in an activity that the Priesthood held on Saturday. They cleaned the church then afterward had a "mariscal", and ate "mariscos." Mariscos means shellfish. All sorts of shells with meat inside, crab claws, and other weird stuff. We were supposed to eat with the bishop´s wife, but when we got there the bishop said she wasn´t there and he was supposed to take us to the church to eat. I had eaten mariscos before, and didn´t like them, so I didn´t want to. But we went and I suffered through it. Then the bishop´s wife called wondering where we were. She had left for a few minutes but then returned and was waiting for us. So afterward we went there to eat, which was a lot better.

Well, that´s about it for this week. Some pretty interesting experiences. Some fun, some not.
Have a great week all!

Elder Murdoch

Mariscos (shellfish) Some people love it but I hate it! And the Sanchezes. They are like my second family.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Well, another long rough week. That makes 3 now. One problem is that my companion, being DL, had a leadership training meeting Thursday and Friday. And he went on his end of the mission temple trip with President. And Tuesday we had divisions. So I spent almost all of the week with another Elder, and most of that time in another sector. Thursday and Friday I was with Elder Deardon, who has one month here in Chile. He´s from Boston, where Dad served his mission. His wisdom teeth have been giving him problems, so they decided to yank ´em out. Friday morning we went to the dentist, who took out 2 of the 4. Afterwards the office drove us home, and we rested the rest of the day till our companions got back from the training. He´s a great Elder, and I feel sorry for him. This Friday he has to get the other 2 teeth yanked. Bummer.

Adela now has 3 months in the church. And she knows more than half the other members. She´s just eating up all the books. She´s finished the Book of Mormon, and is reading parts of the Bible, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, and other church books like Our Heritage. Also, she got her hands on a book by Joseph Fielding Smith called Doctrines of Salvation. She´s crazy!

The other day we visited her, and she told us about a program she saw on the National Geographic channel about plural marriage. And you bet your bottom dollar that they talked a lot about us. And it was obviously all false. I don´t know where they pulled all of it out of, but it was kind of interesting. She told us 3 big things that are completely bogus. First, they said Emma found Joseph with another woman. And, supposedly Brigham Young said that atonement, or to receive the forgiveness of sins, means that one has to murder. WHAT?! And finally, they said that we (Mormons) practice arranged marriages, which really has nothing to do with plural marriage. Pretty interesting. Kind of frustrates me how they talk about all that stuff that they don´t even know. But it really just helps strengthen my testimony, because if this wasn´t the true church there wouldn´t be so many attacks against it. Fortunately, Adela already knows about polygamy and knew that it´s bogus, so it didn´t affect her any. But it´s still pretty stupid how they do stuff like that.

Eliana is doing a lot better. Wednesday we passed by to teach her. We talked about the priesthood and priesthood blessings. Then we gave her son, Diego--aka Diablito (little devil)--a health blessing and her a blessing of strength and guide. It was really great, and he was actually really quiet that night as well as the next visit Friday and in the church yesterday. It was as abrupt a change as night and day. She has a baptismal date for the 15th, Elder King´s last day here. She wants to do it, but still has a lot of doubts or maybe one big one that we haven´t been able to discover. We´re going to go tomorrow and try to see what we can do to help her.

Here in Chile there are a ton of Peruvians and many in the church. Of course, all Peruvians, in and out of the church, know each other. One member, Sister Dora, takes care of a 7-year-old kid after school until his older brother picks him up. The little boy is named Marcelo, and his old brother, who´s 16, is Moises(Moses). We had met both before but never could teach them. The other day Dora told us that Moises would like to meet us and know more about the religion (knowing that she is Mormon). We went by, and he is amazing! He has more faith than almost any other 16-year-old I´ve met here. He talked about how he always prays and talks with God. He said he sins a lot and feels bad so he repents and asks God for forgiveness; but the problem is that we always committ the same sin again. He has few friends in school as Chileans are really racist against Peruvians. Actually, they treat him pretty badly in school. He really needs the church. We´re going to take some other young men to his house to help him find friends. We also want to take him to an activity at the church this Friday. The church should be able to help him a lot. I´m excited to help him.

The other night we visited the seminary/Gospel Principles teacher, Sister Canales.(She is the sister of Sister Manriquez, Eliana´s friend, and lives in the apartment right next door) She and her husband served the mission in the South of Chile, in Osorno, and they´re great. While there, she talked about a family that lives in the apartment below them. They´ve been having some problems lately. He lost his work, and she´s going through depression. Also, they´ve had some weird experiences in the house. We´ve met them before, but they weren´t very interested and said if they wanted us to come they´d talk with the Canales family above. The wife´s name is Janet, and we visited her with Sister Canales. We ended up giving her a blessing and gave a blessing on the house. (Chileans are pretty suspicious, so we give a lot of dedicatory prayers.) It was a good experience. She started crying and said that she really needed it. I think it helped us gain their confidence a little. Sister Canales invited them to an activity this Friday and to church Sunday. Hopefully we can start teaching them.

Well, I finally pulled out the Rockport shoes this past week. My other shoes, the Eccos, are in bad shape. Actually, one has a huge whole at the end, and with the rainy weather here, my foot is always wet and cold at night. So I started wearing the Rockports, and my feet have been dry all week. Yes!!

Well, that´s it for this week. Things are pretty tough, but that just means that it can only get better from here.

Elder Murdoch

Monday, July 26, 2010

Well, another rough week has passed, but the sun keeps shining further down the road. Last week wasn’t horrible, but not great either. The worst was that no investigators came to church yesterday, even though we had committed several. But we were able to find some more people during the week that should come this next Sunday.

We visited Margarita and Gonzalo a couple times. Saturday we went really deep into the importance of baptism, and Gonzalo accepted a baptismal date. Margarita was a little more hesitant, saying that she wants to do it but that when she feels ready she’ll tell us. I think she’ll do it; we just need to help her understand the importance of having a specific goal. Gonzalo actually was going to go to church yesterday; but when we passed by to pick him up, the gate to the apartment building was locked, his cell phone was off, and they didn’t come when we yelled. We’re going to have to do something different next week so that he goes.

Eliana returned last week. She had been in the South for about a week because her mother passed away. We taught the Plan of Salvation. But, as always, there was a big problem. Her son, Diego, is 7 and really rowdy. He always has a ton of energy. I think he has ADD or something. And the death of his grandma can’t be a great help either. Anyway, with all of those factors together, he was a big pain--making a lot of noise, arguing, not showing respect for us, his mom, or Sister Manriquez (Eliana´s friend). It was a tough lesson, and the Spirit was not there at all. She did tell us that she’s been reading in the Book of Mormon, so that at least is good. We might have to try to set it up to teach her somewhere else where Diego isn’t. We’ll have to see.

Several weeks ago we did a street contact with a woman named Patricia. We taught her a little, but then two weeks ago when we passed by she was busy and said the dreaded "I’ll call you." She was really great, but we kind of lost hope. Then Friday night she called and wanted us to come. We went yesterday, showed "The Restoration", and she accepted a baptismal date for August 29. She is really great. She also had read a little in the Book of Mormon. And she gave the closing prayer. The problem with her is going to be Word of Wisdom. She drinks coffee, and probably tea. Plus, she and her husband are both cooks, and yesterday had a bunch of food they had recently bought for an event they’re hosting, and there were several bottles of alcohol. We know it is to serve to the guests, but we’re also afraid that they might drink a little too. That’ll be the big test with her.

Patricio, who got baptized three weeks ago, finally got confirmed yesterday. He hadn’t made it to church for the past two weeks, but yesterday he came and got confirmed. The bishop did it, and it was really great. I hope he can keep learning and progressing.

We visited the Olave family the other day. (He’s the Brother who destroyed his knee playing soccer.) He’s getting better really fast. They said that the doctors are really surprised that he’s progressing so well. He just uses one crutch now, walking quite fast, and can take a few steps without the crutch. It is amazing how fast he’s improving. We all know that someone has a hand in it.

Well, they’re predicting another earthquake, this one in the North of Chile. They don’t know when or how big, but they say it’s coming. "They" are a couple of professionals, one from the US. I don’t know if I believe it. How can they predict this one but didn’t know anything about the last one till it happened? I guess we’ll see, but I don’t think so.

Well, that’s all for this week. We’re going to play soccer with the whole zone soon, so we have to go get ready.
Hasta luego.

Elder Murdoch

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Wow. What a week. Actually, not much happened. A lot of appointments fell through, so we did a lot of walking and a lot of playing by ear to see where to go next. We were able to find a couple of investigators that we had lost contact with, and we found a new one as well.

Friday we had an activity at the church, then afterwards a couple of appointments fell through. We found ourselves at 8:00 pm with 0 contacts. I haven´t said much about contacts up till now, but we´re supposed to do 20 contacts every day, 10 every missionary. There´s a promise from Elder Ballard that if we do it we´ll double our baptisms. So there we were 2 hours before returning to the house, and we didn´t have a single contact. So we started talking to people in the street and knocked a couple of apartment buildings. In one of them we found a lady, about 50-years-old, named Rosa. She let us in and we shared a little with her. A couple of years ago she listened to the sister missionaries and even went to church a few times! She accepted a baptismal date for August 15th. The problem with her will be that she smokes, so we´ll have to help her drop that. But she´s really great.

Venus has been out bright this past week. It´s been pretty cool to be able to see it, but now it´s dropping lower in the sky.

Well, the other day we had lunch with the same member who in the past has given us seaweed and octupus stomach. This time, though, there wasn´t anything like that, and lunch was really good. The dessert, on the other hand, was a bit different. It was something I´ve had before, but never so much. Also, it never is seen in the States as far as I know, but if prepared right (which it wasn´t on Friday) it´s pretty good. It´s called......Rice with milk. Yep, that is what the name says. A bowl of rice with milk poured in, sometimes with a tiny bit of sugar. It´s not too bad, just a little different.

Saturday morning, for the first time in three weeks, we went and played soccer. It was way fun. Having been out of commission for three weeks I didn´t do very well but not too bad either. I got three goals, and the best is that my arm didn´t hurt at all. Yeah!

Well, kinda short today. Not too much happened. Hopefully more happens this week so next Monday there is more.

Elder Murdoch

Monday, July 12, 2010

Finally we had a week that went slow! Last week seemed to last a little longer. The bad part is that it was a rough week. A lot of real important lessons fell through. On top of that it’s been really cold, and Tuesday it rained, making it almost impossible to do anything except visit the members. We had very few lessons the whole week and didn’t get too much done.

Eliana wasn’t here this week. Her family lives in the South of Chile, and her mom has been really, really sick. Last week she got worse so Eliana went to visit her. Saturday night the mother passed away. We imagine that Eliana will be returning this week, so we’ll be able to teach her again. We’ll definitely teach her the Plan of Salvation. Hope we can help her. She is really interested and really wants to be baptized.

Patricio wasn’t at his house when we went to pick him up for church yesterday. We waited, but no one came out. So we went without him, and he didn’t get confirmed. During priesthood he showed up. He had gotten in a fight with his little brother (they live with an uncle) and spent the night outside of the house. We don’t know where. So he’ll have to wait till next Sunday to get confirmed. The bishop here, as is encouraged in his leadership manual, likes to "get to know" investigators before the baptism. I say "get to know" because he technically can’t interview them till they’re members. But he has to be with us during, so we visited with him and Patricio. It was great. The bishop encouraged him a lot to finish his studies, find work, get to know members, etc. I think it really helped Patricio realize that he will be loved in this ward. It was great.

A while back, Elder Rasmussen and I contacted a lady named Margarita and her 13-year old son, Gonzalo. Later, Elder King and I passed by once and soon after lost contact with her. The other night we found ourselves in the street, all of the appointments fallen through, with nothing to do. We started wandering, talking with people, trying to find someone to visit. We showed up right outside of the departments where she lives. I looked up and noticed the living room light out, and right then she showed up in the bedroom window. She saw us, waved, and asked if we wanted in. We had nothing to do, so we accepted. Turns out she had a question she wanted to ask us and was happy to see us again. We helped her with the question, teaching a lot about the Holy Ghost and how He can help us, "creating a hunger" as President May says, and then explained that the way to receive this Spirit and the blessings is through baptism. It was a great lesson. Tomorrow we will pass by again to teach more. We’re glad to have found her again.

My elbow is slowly improving. It feels a lot better, although is a little sore still, and I can’t use it with too much force. I can’t support myself against the wall, and pushups are out of the question. *sniff* But I’m without the sling right now, and it feels great. It should keep healing pretty well from here.

Well, the World Cup is now over. The final match was yesterday. It was kind of an upset. Germany was playing really well, as well as Holland, and everyone expected one of them to win, and Spain would be 3rd. But it ended up the other way. Germany was 3rd, Holland took 2nd, and Spain won the first place. I thought Spain would win, but wanted Holland. Although at the beginning I was rooting for USA and Chile. They both made it to the second round, but then got out. Well, there’s always 2014. Then I’ll be able to watch it.

Well, last week was a big trial, but this week will be better. We have several people to teach, and are way excited. It should be a good week.

Elder Murdoch

Monday, July 5, 2010

Wow! We just finished up a very short and very busy week. A lot happened last week, the last one of the transfer. Including a lot of wasted money and time in traveling to the doctor, Elder Limburg; to a clinic to do X-Rays; back to Elder Limburg with the images; to the clinic to drop them off and later to pick up the report; back to Elder Limburg with the report; then to an expert on arms. He had me get another X-Ray then looked at it. The final note is that there is a fracture in my left elbow. Fortunately, it’s not broken or displaced, and the fracture is not too big. He gave me a sling and told me to take Ibuprofen and go back this Thursday. So, it’s not too serious. At times it starts hurting pretty bad, not just the elbow but also the forearm and wrist; but I take an Ibuprofen and that helps with the pain. I hope it gets better real soon. I hate being half crippled. Luckily, I can use my arm for some things but not all. The other day at lunch the sister gave us chicken, and she had to cut mine for me. How embarrassing!! I hate not being able to do everything on my own.

We are now starting a new transfer, the last one for Elder King. Nothing happened with us. Actually, the four of us in the ward all stayed here. Elder King is finishing the mission here. The next transfer will be really interesting to see if I stay here one transfer more or if they send me somewhere else and bring in two other missionaries.

Yesterday was a great 4th of July, even though I almost had forgot about it. Patricio was baptized. He was excited for it; it was something he really wanted to do. He’s really quiet and shy, but afterwards a lot of people welcomed him to the ward and made him feel really welcomed. They even invited him to a Family Home Evening, which I think he went to. It was a great baptismal service with a lot of people there to support him. We had asked an RM, recently off a mission one month, to baptize him. It was great!

Last week I talked about Eliana, friend of Sister Manriquez. She is amazing! A golden investigator. She went to church yesterday--the second time--and actually arrived alone, without Sister Manriquez. In a lesson last week, we taught her the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When we were talking about baptism she asked, "What does one have to do to be baptized? Like, what are the requirements?" It’s something that she really wants to do. Her problem is that feels that she lacks the faith to be able to do it. Since then, we’ve been studying a little more about faith, looking up scriptures, etc. to be able to help her. She definitely will get baptized in July, either the 18th or 25th. She’s really great. Oh, and we discovered that Diego, her son, is 7. He turns 8 in October.

The other two Elders in our ward gave us a great referral the other day. A recent convert in their sector has a friend in ours who went to the church with her. His name is Pedro (Peter), the same as his dad, and the mom is Ivonne. We passed by to visit Pedro Jr., but his mom came to the door. We did just a normal contact, and she rejected us. We walked away then decided to go back and ask for Pedro. That time the dad, Pedro Sr., came to the door and let us in right away. Turns out that when Elder King told her that we offer service, she understood that if she needs help she can go to the church to ask. (They live like one minute away from the church.) She is Baptist, but doesn’t go to church. The dad believes in God and Jesus but isn’t part of any church. Pedro Jr. is 16 and likes what he saw in our church. When we were talking about how the Gospel of Jesus Christ blesses families and listed blessings, they were astonished. They said that right before we showed up they were talking about how they’re not very united as a family and there’s too much contention. They said they hadn’t gathered as a family to pray and converse for a long time before we showed up. The spirit was really strong, and at the end of the lesson the dad said, "God sent you two here. I know it." They accepted everything we taught and committed to read in the Book of Mormon and pray about it and Joseph Smith. They are a great family. I’m sure Pedro Jr. will get baptized, probably Pedro Sr., and possibly Ivonne.

The other day I had another interesting lunch. The same sister who gave us seaweed a few weeks ago decided to be creative again. She brought us out a salad with lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, etc. and something white, hardish, and with mayo that Elder King took to be potatoes. But when we ate, it was more chewable than potatoes should be. We soon learned that it was "Jibia", a part of "Pulpo." Well, Jibia doesn’t have an English translation, but it is the stomach of Pulpo, which is octopus. Which is to say: I ATE OCTOPUS STOMACH!! Needless to say, I did not enjoy it too much. At least I ate all of it anyway. Elder King, when the Sister left the room, put his in a napkin and in his pocket. Later he threw it away. Hahaha!

The other day, when we were teaching Eliana, there was a small tremor. We were in an apartment building on the 3rd floor. I felt a little shaking and looked to the side to see if my comp was moving his leg, but he wasn’t. Then it got a little stronger. It was just a small one, but it lasted a good little while. Startled me a little, and Eliana jumped up and ran out the door. Fortunately, it stopped and everything was okay.

Well, I’m about out of time. The last week was a full one, and I hope to have more of those as this transfer progresses.


Elder Murdoch

Patricio Baptism

Almost Dead (?) Shoe