Monday, March 29, 2010

Man, each week goes faster than the last one! I have very little time to complete a year, and I understand that it goes even faster after that. Not good! But it has been a good time, and I´m learning a lot. The last week, although fast, was good. We found a lot of new people to teach and had a lot more lessons than the other week.
I don´t know if I´ve talked about some of these people before, so here´s an update-ish.

Adela is doing great. She´s been reading in the Book of Mormon from the beginning. The other day we passed, and she was sad because she had left her book at work and couldn´t read it. We gave her another one to borrow till she could get hers. She was way happy. The sad thing with her is that she couldn´t go to church yesterday. She really wanted to, but Saturday they called her to work Sunday. She was really sad, she said she really wanted to go. But Wednesday she´s going to quit her work, which she doesn´t even like anyway. So then we´ll have more time to teach her and help her progress. We´re going to take her to General Conference this week. That´ll be great for her.

We´ve been visiting an inactive, Daniela. She´s 26 and has a 2-year-old girl, but the "dad" (they´re not married) left. He visits for an hour every other day. She wants to return to the church. The other day her mom, who before didn´t want to listen to us but is nice, said that she´s never really understood the importance or story of the Book of Mormon. So we started teaching her. We´re hoping to be able to activate Daniela and baptize Margarita.

Friday we had a zone conference and a Family Home Evening with the ward, so we had about 2 hours to work. We knocked doors in a street and found an old man, Rolando. He is really sick and goes to the doctor every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. At first he was slow to understand us with big pauses between our questions and his answers. But Saturday was better and yesterday even better. He believes in God, but told us that he´s not really religious. He just wants to be finished with his sickness and die. But he has progressed quite a bit.

On Friday we had zone conference. It was really great. We learned a lot from President May and the assistants. The big letdown, like always, was the food. In these zone conferences, the food is usually good, but small. We´re always hungry after. This time it was worse. It was "aji de gallina," a Peruvian food. But Elder Rasmussen said that it was nothing like it. He´s half Peruvian, from his mom, and she´s cooked it before. It really wasn´t all that good. Yesterday we ate lunch with a Peruvian, and she made the same thing. It was a whole lot better. I loved it.

After the zone conference and a couple hours of working, we had the FHE with the ward. About 25-30 people showed up. We didn´t have investigators, but the other Elders did. We had a couple of inactives. It was a good FHE. The ward mission leader gave a lesson about Lehi´s dream, then we played a game and had refreshments. It was great. Daniela went and enjoyed it. She found a lot of friends, some she had known before and some new ones.

Something fun. There´s a family here, Fuentes, that we have lunch with every Tuesday and Wednesday. They all work, so she leaves food out for us and we warm it up. We have a pair of keys to the house to get in. Their 30-year-old son, Juan Carlos, is way funny. And he speaks great English. Why? Because he served in the states. Where? Ogden North. We were talking about it and he started listing off places like Preston, Soda Springs, they lived in Smithfield. He didn´t remember Grace, but that´s not too surprising, its been ten years. But still, that´s awesome that he served in the mission where I live.

There´s a recent convert here, a teenager named Italo, who took pictures of an asteroid last week. Some people from a TV channel that President Piñera (the President of Chile) owns came to talk to him. They offered him about $200. We told him he should ask more. How lucky!

Last Monday Elder Rasmussen and I bought paddles and balls for ping-pong. We have some keys to the church, and a couple days we went at 6 am to play. I´m not very good, but he taught me how to play and do some tricks. I´ve gotten much better, and it´s actually fun. I´m discovering all sorts of new sports here. Ping-Pong, soccer, what next?

Speaking of soccer and ping pong, we have a zone activity today to celebrate the zone goal for baptisms in March. We´re going to play soccer and ping pong. And then have a huge asado, aka barbeque, with tons of meat, and ice cream. Mmmmmm! I´m excited.

Last interesting experience. We visited a family last night. They´ve gone through a lot of problems but really have a lot of faith. At the end of the lesson they started telling us about dreams they´ve had. For example, the one son, a week before the first huge earthquake here, dreamed about the earthquake. He feels bad that he didn´t say anything and then all the people died. There´s not a whole ton he could have done, but he still feels bad. His dad had a dream several months before the attack of the twin towers. He said he didn´t know if it was something from God or not, so he prayed and asked (still in his sleep) and saw a bunch of smoke that formed into the face of God. Pretty interesting. Elder Rasmussen talked about a dream he had that his cousin died and his mom came in his room at 6 am to tell him. Then he woke up relieved it was a dream. A week later his mom came in a 6am to tell him his cousin died. He thought it was another dream, but this time it wasn´t. It made me think about dreams and how they sometimes have significance and sometimes not.

There was another earthquake last night at almost 5 am. I haven´t heard where or how big. But it felt pretty big for us. I was sure it was going to get bigger, and was almost ready to grab some slippers and a sweater (it´s freezing at night) and run outside. But fortunately it died down and we were able to go back to sleep.

Well, that´s all for this week. I´ve been having a lot of experience--good, bad, funny, sad, etc. I´m learning a lot and am really grateful for my time here in Chile.

¡Hasta luego!

Elder Murdoch

Monday, March 22, 2010

Wow, that week went by super fast! The time is passing way too rapidly. But it was a good week. We found three new people to teach. I´m learning a ton from Elder Rasmussen, and he from me. We definitely have progressed a lot this week.

Like I mentioned last week, we´re going to be doing Family Home Evenings with the ward, families, etc. We had one last week with a less active. Denise is about 26, and has a cute 3-year-old daughter, Francisca. We had a FHE in the house of another Young Single Adult. We were 8 in total, and we talked about the Plan of Salvation with drawings on a mini white board. It was great. Then they invited Denise to a Relief Society breakfast Saturday. She went and loved it and went to church yesterday. It looks like she now has friends, which was her big problem.

Wednesday we found a 15-year-old kid, Pablo. He´s catholic but just by tradition. He understood everything and accepted a baptismal date. Unfortunately, when we passed by yesterday he wasn´t there. His mom had told him to be there at 5 cause we were going to come, but he hadn´t returned yet then. We´re going to pass this week.
Gloria is like 60 and lives with her husband and her sick mom. She´s catholic as well, but one of those that doesn´t go that often.

Monica is funny. She had talked with Elder Rasmussen before with his other comp, but they had never taught her, then they lost contact. But we found her Friday. She has a Great Dane that is huge! Well, skinny but really tall. His head comes up to my belly. When I was sitting down he walked over and we were eye to eye. It is easily the biggest dog I have seen in my life. She´s taking karate classes. She is only a white belt, the lowest. She thought that a prophet was anyone that talks about God. We explained the importance of the priesthood and she understood better. She's great.

Saturday we played soccer in the small court at a church in the zone. There were very few, but it was fun. When it was almost time to go we said "Next goal wins." That next goal was done by me. Another elder took it out of bounds. I was in the goal box, open, so he threw it in the air toward me. I head butted it and it went right past the goalie, Elder Rasmussen. We went wild. It was way fun.

Well, for yet another ward I am playing the piano in Sacrament Meeting. The only problem is that with this piano, the pedal doesn´t work. So if I play a note and let off, it stops, instead of holding. That makes it quite an adventure. But it´s still fun to get to play.

My mission is going way too fast. I lack one month today to complete a year in the mission. Yikes! But I have been learning a lot, and feel that I have been a useful tool in the hands of the Lord to help others learn as well even if they end up not getting baptized. I´ve heard that the success of a missionary really isn´t seen til 20 years after. For example, Elder Rasmussen told me a story about his aunt, on her mission in Peru I think. She didn´t have a lot of baptisms. But when, years later, she returned to visit a little boy she had baptised, he was the Stake President. In the church, he asked her to stand up, saying that she had taught him and led to his baptism. Then he asked everyone to stand up whose baptism in the church had something to do with him or his baptism. About 150 people stood up. It´s a great story that helped me to see that right now I really can´t see the affects of my mission. But in years to come I will.

Well, that´s it for this week. Have a wonderful week!

Elder Murdoch

Monday, March 15, 2010

Well, the past week went by pretty fast and uneventful. Okay, that second one was a lie. We had more earthquakes/tremors. Thursday during studies there was a 7.2, and minutes later a 6.9. Small. It´s kinda funny how after living an 8.5, a 7.2 feels like nothing. Still I do get really nervous after every small shake. Everyone´s saying that there´s going to be another aftershock, bigger than the first earthquake, but farther north. But the other day I heard that the experts said that it´s wrong and there won´t be. I hope that´s right.

Also, maybe having to do with the earthquake, maybe not, there was a power outage last night. I don´t think it was all of Santiago but a big chunk, including where I am. It was about 8:30. We were going to do a few contacts in the street then go to a member´s house because she baked us brownies, which is her business. But then every single light in sight went out all at once. So we both pulled out the little pen lights we keep and went straight to the house. At about 10:20 the light came back. I still don´t know why it went out, but it was a pretty interesting experience.

Last week was a little difficult. We visited a lot of members to present me to them, but we didn´t have many lessons. I am learning a lot from Elder Rasmussen, but we both still have a lot more to learn. He´s still struggling with the language, but I struggle more with the teaching. There´s a reason we´re together. His last companion used to be assistant to the president when we got here. Elder Rasmussen told me that what president is doing with all of our group is trying to get it so that he can put us with the "bad" missionaries so that after being with us they can be better. Also, he´s hoping to make us leaders eventually. Hmmmmm. I´ve got a long way before I´d feel ready to be a leader. But that decision isn´t mine.

Elder Rasmussen is from Ogden, Utah. He also plays basketball (we´re probably gonna go next Monday) and is pretty funny. He got here on the same plane as me, so we have the same time. And seeing that we probably will be together the next transfer, we´ll complete a year together.

This ward is great. The bishop, young, is amazing and all the members are wonderful. The problem is that they have "groups," so we´re going to start doing Family Home Evening as a whole ward once a week, to get the ward more united, to reactivate, and, obvious, to baptize. We actually share the ward with two other missionaries--Elder King from California, on his 3rd transfer; and Elder Romero, who was in Carrión a little before me. Elder Romero, DL, is from Colombia and has the same time as Elder Rasmussen and I. He and Elder King had 3 baptisms yesterday. One was a 9-year-old whose family are active members. The other two were brothers. Their dad and two uncles (who make us think of The Godfather) are also members. One uncle is Elders Quorum President, and the dad is Young Men´s President. So they were easy baptisms for Elder Romero.

Funny thing. I think I´ve mentioned this before, but I don´t remember. I´m famous down here. There´s a TV program called Los Magnificos (The Magnificents). In USA it´s called A-Team. I´d never heard of it before the mission. But it has Mr. T. And there´s a character named Murdoch. He´s supposedly crazy and funny. Hmmmm. But everytime someone hears my name it´s like, "Oh! Murdoch! Like from Los magnificos!" Yup. Fun.

Well, I´m out of time. Got to go. Next week hopefully I´ll have more success to talk about.

Elder Murdoch

Monday, March 8, 2010

Well, another transfer, and another sector. This time transfers were really different. Both me and Elder Squire left and two more Elders came. Elder Squire went to Renca, really close to where I started. I am now in the zone San Pablo, sector Dorsal 2. My new companion is Elder Rasmussen, who actually got here on the same plane as me. He´s great and I´m excited to work with him. My district leader, Elder Romero, (from Columbia) from Dorsal 1, was in Carrión before. So today we talked some about some members, and I´m sure we´ll talk a lot more.

I´m really bummed to not be able to see the baptism of Tomás, but the Lord knows why I had to go. Tomás was actually going to get baptized last Sunday, but couldn´t because of the earthquake. So we rescheduled for Friday. But then another sector was going to have a baptism Sunday(yesterday) after Stake Conference, and the bishop said that would be better, since Friday at 6 it would be hard to find Priesthood holder to be there. But Tomás has family that couldn´t go Sunday. So we, after much discusion, rescheduled again. This time for this Saturday. But now I´m not there so I won´t get to see it. But I know that he will be baptized, and that´s what´s important.

About the Stake Conference: it was really great. Actually, Elder Richard G. Scott was going to come here and talk, and visit members, but because of the earthquake that got changed. Instead we watched a broadcast from the Conference Center. Bradley Foster of the 70, the General Primary President, Elder Bednar, and President Monson all talked. It was a special broadcast for all the stakes in Chile. They talked about the Atonement, serving others, and other topics. It was really great.

We have been still feeling a lot of tremors after the earthquake. Especially in the 9th floor. But things are settling down and we´re hoping everything should return to normal. I heard something about that the earthquake set the motion of the earth off, and now the days are 2 seconds shorter. I don´t know if it´s true, but it would be interesting.

Well, I gotta go, my comp´s waiting for me. So, talk to ya next week!

Elder Murdoch

PS. some pictures from a service we did in Vivaceta Tuesday. They had a back patio in which the wall fell down. It was a lot of adobe, as is the case with a lot of houses here. So we took out a lot of dirt and adobe. It was pretty fun. Plus, a couple houses that had some damage in our sector. But not too much fortunately.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Well, for those of you who haven´t heard yet, I just passed through the scariest and most interesting experience of my whole life. For a couple weeks I´ve woken up several times in the night, feeling a slight tremor. But never anything big, small and smooth, and they last like 10-15 seconds. And only I feel them, Elder Squire no. Friday night, however, was different. About 3:30 in the morning, 11:30 pm in Idaho, I woke up to a small tremor. I expected it to be like the others, small and short. But after the time when it should have stopped, it started getting bigger. I thought "I wonder if Elder Squire feels this one." I looked over and he had raised his head. We looked at each other and both asked "What´s up?" Then it started getting worse. Ended up being an earthquake which lasted almost 3 minutes. We weren´t sure what to do. The automatic answer is get under a table or in the doorway. But in a 13 story building, us living on the 9th floor, what would that help? So we just sat up in our beds and started praying. Elder Squire said one outloud, and was nice and calm. But I was praying inwardly, and not too calm. After an eternity of praying, shaking, and listening to all the sounds (the rumble, stuff falling, etc.) it all stopped. We sat there for a few seconds, then went to check on the damage. Surprisingly, nothing broke. The fridge moved several feet, the small stove fell of the table it was on, and a ton of papers and books fell of the tables. But that was it. We sang Master the Tempest is Raging, said a prayer, read the Emergency Plans of the Mission, talked to our DL, Elder Rosenlaf, and then went to bed. Elder Squire fell asleep right away. For me it was harder, but I was able to sleep some. About 8:00 we got light and water back, but the water is bad to drink, contaminated. Good thing we have big bottles of extra. We got instructions to stay in the house all day. Plus, due to the explosion of a plastics chemical plant in Quilicura, a nearby community, we had to keep the windows closed. We slept a little, wrote in the journal, and studied.

Vivacet, the sector next to us, with Elder Barney and Elder Valencia had to leave their house. The building, only 2 years old, is now in bad condition. They left right away, and later went back and snuck in to pack a fast backpack with important stuff. They then slept in the house of a member and later snuck in again to pack some quick suitcases. (Quickly, because at any moment a 6.9 aftershock was going to hit.) As they were getting out, the fire department and police arrived, saying that no one can ever enter the building again. Since then, it´s been seconds from falling. I imagine they´ll destroy it. They showed us pictures, and it is in horrible condition. So they´ve been sleeping with us.

Yesterday we just had Sacrament meeting. There were very few people. The bishop talked at the end and said that he´d spent some time calling and driving through the ward, and all the members are okay. We also have visited some people and everyone´s okay.

Obviously, thanks to the earthquake, we didn´t have transfers today. They´re going to wait a week. We also have to be in the house at 8:00 every night, instead of 10:00.

Here are some numbers I´ve heard: over 700 deaths; at the epicenter was 8.9, Concepcion 8.8, and here in Santiago 8.5; It was almost 1000 times bigger than Haiti, even with way fewer deaths. Here is why: 1) The ground in Chile is harder, more solid, and 2) Chile is more prepared, with some sort of law that the buildings have to be built ready for an earthquake. We also heard some about the tsunamis. Seems like nothing happened on Easter Island, and on Robison Crusoe there were 8 deaths and a few missing people. Heard about another island that I forgot the name that everything was wiped out. I´m not sure about that one. I also heard that they were taking people from Hawaii to Australia, and that the tsunami alert was for all of the pacific: South, Central and North America, Hawaii, Japan, China, etc. Maybe it´s died down and we haven´t heard. Also, I´ve heard that this is the 5th biggest earthquake in the world. Chile also has the record for the biggest, in Validvia in 1960. 9.8 I think.

Things are getting more or less back to normal now. We´re still a little unnerved, but getting used to the aftershocks. I think I have felt almost every single one, some getting about 6.0. In Concepcion there was a boat that got carried on a wave to the middle of a park. Next to Elder Barney´s building, there was another department building that had (emphasis on had) a swimming pool on the roof, which fell 3 floors. I personally was thinking during the quake "Is the building going to collapse downward, or tip over?" If it had tipped over, chances are it would have destroyed the big Catholic church next door. I was really scared, but things have calmed down now.

Well, I think I´m about out of stuff to talk about. Oh, except for that I SURVIVED AN 8.5 EARTHQUAKE!!!!

Wednesday night we received a call from the bishop. He was in his office in the church and a 19ish year old José Mendoza walked into the office and wanted us to visit him. We passed by Friday. Three years ago, in Peru, he was about to get baptized, but between his parents saying no and his work he couldn´t. But now he can and wants to. He quickly accepted a baptismal date and the invitation to the church. Actually, he lives in a little alley right in front and was gonna go anyway. He still has his Book of Mormon and was already praying to know the truth about Joseph Smith. He hasn´t received it yet and was feeling bad, but we explained that it takes time and faith and patience, but he will receive it. Unfortunately, he couldn´t come to church, because right after the earthquake he went to visit family members. So we´ll have to call him and set up an appointment. But he was really excited to see us.

Another problem from the earthquake is that Tomás didn´t get baptized yesterday. The bishop and we decided it would be better not too. But next Sunday is Stake Conference, so we can´t do it then. And Tomás doesn´t want to wait more. So we´re thinking of doing it Thursday afternoon. He´s way excited about it all. He already has the triple combination, the new bible, hymn book, and new Gospel Principles book. He´s ready and, like I said, way excited.

Yesterday, unsure of transfers, we stopped by to visit Nicolas and Natasha. After much waiting we had gotten them some gifts. We gave Nicolas the triple and a hymnbook, and Natasha some pictures of the life of Jesus Christ and a hymnbook. They were both way excited and happy to receive the gifts. It was kind of like a goodbye, but it looks like we´re both here for one more week.

Well, I´m out of things to say. So, until next week. Ciao!

Elder Murdoch