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