Monday, April 18, 2011

Well, today I am writing from San Felipe. Since it’s my last P-DAY, I have permission to visit. So we left early and took a bus here.

Last week was really awesome. We had a lot of success. It might help that we received reinforcements. That is to say that we are now in a trio with Elder Cespedes, from Argentina. He got here last Monday night, and will probably stay with Elder MacLennan when I leave. He`s awesome, and we`ve had a lot of success.

The biggest success, and what makes me really content, is that we have two baptisms ready for this Sunday. I`ll be going out with a bang! David and Gloria are more than ready and really excited. It`s amazing how fast Gloria has learned and really wants to get baptized. Her inactive son, Camilo, supports her and helps us a lot. He`ll go to church for her baptism this week.

David is also very excited. His mom has been worried about whether he`s ready or not, but last night she told us that she thinks he is. She said that she`s seen changes in him and that baptism will be good to help him keep changing. She`s almost as excited as he is.

We also found and started to work with several new investigators last week.

Last night we had an activity in the church. It was a tour and was great even though it didn’t turn out as we expected. Only a couple investigators showed up, so instead of rotating class rooms we all met in the chapel and a sister from Relief Society talked for ten minutes about the Plan of Salvation and the Elders Quorum President talked about the Restoration. Then we all went to the room where the baptismal font is and the Young Men taught about baptism. It was really great. Even though mainly members went, there were a lot; and it was a nice reminder for them. Also, David`s uncle--who has said that he would never step foot in our church--went, surprising all of us. He liked it and would like to learn more. This Sunday he will accompany David to his baptism.

We went a few hours early to the church to clean up a little and set up for the tour. At one point we left the hall and saw a young lady sitting on the bench in the foyer with her two children (four- and two-years-old). We went to talk to her, recognizing right away an opportunity to teach. She said she had passed by the church many times but never entered. When she passed yesterday and saw it open, she suddenly had a desire to enter. Interesting how the Holy Spirit works with people. She just entered and sat down without saying anything to anyone. Her name is Magalena, and we took advantage of having time to teach her. With help from the ward mission leader, we shared with her a lot about the church. She also stayed for the tour and loved it. She made several friends there, including the Primary President--which was a double bonus because they are both from Peru, and she has two kids of Primary age. She loved everything and wants to learn more. That will be a future baptism for my comps.

Friday I had my final visit to the temple. It was awesome! I learned more things, felt the spirit really strong, and had a wonderful experience. After the session, we did some sealings, being sons and witnesses. It was fun. I had missed the temple and made the goal to go once every two weeks while I`m at BYU-Idaho.

Well, this is my last email home as this is my last week. We`ll see how fast or slow this week goes. Regardless, I will be working hard to leave my comps with as many people to teach possible. Well, I can`t think of something witty to say at the end of my last email of the mission. Except for, th-th-th-th-th-that`s all folks!!!!!

Elder Murdoch

Monday, April 4, 2011

Wow, what a great weekend. I absolutely loved General Conference. It was my favorite so far. I learned a lot, especially what I have to improve in my life. All the talks were great. I really felt impressed by President Monson and Elder Scott who talked about marriage. I have always thought that I don´t want to get married right away after. I´ve always said that I´ll wait, take my time, cause I want to be sure about it. Which is why Elder Scott hit me hard when he said that after the mission my number one priority should be temple marriage. Even more important than work or studies. I also loved the talk by Lynn G. Robins about "DO" and "BE." I will print that one out to study more.

I also enjoyed the choirs as I saw several people that I know in the BYU-Idaho choir, and Dallin Hatch in the Priesthood choir. My companion and I are really excited as they announced new temples in each of our homes: In Meridian, Idaho and Winnepeg, Canada. And the best was when they talked about Mary Murray Murdoch during Priesthood. He was talking about hope and mentioned the pioneers. Anytime anyone mentions pioneers, I think of my fourth-great grandmother. When he said "In 1851..." I recognized the date and my heart stopped until he said "Mary Murray Murdoch..." I threw both my fists in the air and yelled, "That´s my fourth-great grandmother!!!!" It was amazing!

Rodolfo went to Priesthood and enjoyed it. He is doing great. He´s working a little more to get his divorce papers finished. A problem here in Chile is that it takes so long to get divorced. He says that it should be done by September. SEPTEMBER!?!? I´ll be long gone by then!! I really hope it´s sooner than that.

Well, that´s all I have time for now. What a great conference. I testify that all who spoke in it are called and qualified of God and that the words they spoke are the words of God meant for each one of us in our individual lives.

Elder Murdoch

Monday, March 28, 2011

Well, this week was a bit challenging. We are working really hard. I feel like I am doing well at finishing strong. We are using all the resources we have available to find new investigators. We are using the Area Book with potential investigators, former investigators, working with less-active and active members--but nothing. I know that we can find more, we just need to keep working and improving our faith. I hope to see some fruits soon.

Rodolfo is doing great. He has a strong testimony of the church. He has made several comments as to the truthfulness of the church. He knows it´s true. The challenge now is waiting. He has to wait for his divorce papers to finish and then he has to get married to his current partner. Then when that happens, BAM!! baptism. He´s ready.

Aside from him we aren´t teaching much. We have a few other investigators, but they´re not progressing and we may end up dropping most of them.

We are working well with the ward, though. Our ward mission leader is great, the best one I´ve had on my mission. Our coordination meetings with him are great. And yesterday we were invited to ward council, which went great as well. We are planning an activity, which we presented and everyone accepted. Sunday the 17th, we´re going to have a tour of the church. We will use three rooms, with rotations. The organizations will teach little messages. Young Men will teach baptism; the Priesthood-The Restoration; Young Women- Plan of Salvation. At the end everyone will meet in the chapel and we will teach the Atonement, with a clip from "Finding Faith in Christ." Then there will be refreshments(Relief Society) and we will set up a table with pamphlets and Books of Mormon to give out, and a notebook to take down names and directions of people who want us to visit them. Oh, and with an invitation to come to church the following Sunday, which will be my last. It should be a great activity. I won´t see the fruits, except those who go to church the next week, but it should help my companion and his next companion out a lot.

Speaking of my companion, he´s great. We get along really well. We joke around a lot and have a great time. He´s kind of rubbing off his Canadian on me though. I find myself saying "eh" a lot. They use it like we Americans use "huh," and I say it now too. They also pronounce words such as "bag" or "tag" as "beg" or "teg". I harass him a lot for that but also find myself talking like that. Yikes! I´m gonna to come home speaking Chilean and Canadian! AHHHH!!!! :)

Well, gotta go. Have a great week!

Elder Murdoch

Monday, March 21, 2011

Wow, what a week. Where to start? Time goes by so fast. Faster every day. I only have five weeks left. After this one, four emails left to send. Crazy!! But I´m trying not to be trunky, rather finish strong and work to the last. My new sector is a great one. Not too big but not small either. There are few active families, but the few that we have are amazing. They help us a lot. It is a pretty small ward. We don´t even have a bishop, as the last one moved several months ago and hasn´t been replaced. But we hope to get one soon.

We have a lot of potential in our ward, but it does need a lot of help. I hope to be able to help all I can in the short amount of time I will be here. In my last ward, San Felipe, they were at an average of 70 in church when I arrived. They now are at an average of 90. I hope to do the same to Independencia.

The Sunday before I got here, they baptized a little girl, Maria Jesús. Yesterday she got confirmed and is way excited to keep coming to church. We are also teaching her dad, Rodolfo. He has all the lessons, has gone to church a lot, and has a testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. His problem is that he is separated and lives with another woman. He is in the process of getting divorced, which should be something quick but is taking longer than it should. After that he will get married to his current partner and get baptized. He´s really excited for it.

His father has also listened a lot, and the soon-to-be wife also has a little interest; but they both work on Sundays. Supposedly, they will stop soon and will then be able to attend church.

Last Sunday, before I got here, they had Stake Conference. Elder Corbridge talked, and it sounds like it was great. A family of three went, and we are trying to teach them more. This whole last week they were busy, but this Wednesday we will visit them. It´s a couple, Julio and Ivonne, with a son, Diego, 11. They loved the church and want to hear more. Time is the issue with them.

We are teaching a Peruvian, Edward, who wants to get baptized and has been to church a lot. The problem is that we can only teach him in the church, not his house, and only on Saturday night and Sunday after church, although he didn´t go to church yesterday. He also has trouble understanding everything. He´s a little slow. In August he´s returning to Peru to live, and I´m not sure if he´d be able to keep going to church there. It´s going to be a tough decision whether we should baptize him and hope he goes to church in Peru or if we should let the missionaries in Peru teach him. He can get baptized, though.

We have another investigator, Lila, who is about 60 and takes care of her father, 92. The other Elders had taught her, but then she went on vacation for a few weeks. They left her with a couple pamphlets to read, including Word of Wisdom. In those short weeks, she read over half the Book of Mormon. Now, over two months later, she´s in Helaman. She wants to get baptized but does have some doubts. We actually were able to help her with one the other day. She thought that we put too much emphasis on Joseph Smith, almost like a "Saint." We helped her understand that he was just a prophet of God, the same as Moses or Abraham. She understood better and was happier after that. She had read the pamphlet of Word of Wisdom and taught herself and understood it. She also understood that to get baptized, she has to stop smoking. It will be hard as she smokes a box of 20 a day. But she said she once did it for 6 months, then fell again. But now she knows it´s possible. She wants to, and we will be helping her with it.

With all these, and a couple of others, we have several potential baptisms for April, my last month. I hope to finish well and with lots of success.

My comp is great. Elder Maclennan is from Canada, so I always harass him about hockey and moose. Plus he always ends his sentences with "eh,” kind of like our "huh." He´s really fun, and we get along great. He´s a hard worker and should do well on his mission.

Well, that´s about it for this week. Hope the next ones go slower, but probably won´t. Have a great one!

Elder Murdoch

P.S. Please notice new address and mailing instructions on the right! :)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Well, I´m now starting my last transfer and hoping to finish it out strong. Six more weeks, and they are crucial. Especially since I´m in a new sector. Much to my surprise, and quite an upset, they closed our sector. We knew Elder Hendricks was going to leave. He actually went to Dorsal 2, one of my old sectors. But we did not expect them to take me out, too. They didn´t even put more missionaries in. They closed it completely. I´m pretty upset about it. We were having a lot of success. In three weeks we found 15 new investigators. We were going to have a baptism either this Sunday or the next. We´re really bummed. But that´s how it is, and I´m in a good sector now anyway. I´m in Independencia, which is really close to Carrion, another sector I’ve been in. It´s a good sector, and my companion is great. He´s Elder MacLennan, from Canada. He´s a newbie, starting his third transfer--ready and willing to work. They had a baptism of a little girl yesterday . Her mom and dad are almost ready for baptism. The mom just needs to sign a paper to get divorced and then that´s it--baptism. We should have a lot of success this transfer. My last one.

Well, thanks to transfers I don´t have much to say. Saturday we had a fun day. We made breakfast for lunch for a family. They had an investigator over, and one of their daughters is inactive. Actually, I think I´ve talked about the investigator, Katalina, before. We, the missionaries, made scrambled eggs with chunks of sausage, hashbrowns, and French toast. It turned out great, and they loved it.

Patricia is doing great, although I hope that she still gets baptized. It will be hard for the missionaries there now to be able to take care of their sector and ours, but they are going to try. Last week we taught her a lot, including the Word of Wisdom. She understood well and even said that she´ll have to stop drinking tea. "But hey! Herbal tea is healthier anyway!" She´s great. She´ll be a great member.

Well, that´s about it for this week. We have a new directive on how to send mail, but I don’t have the details with me. I’ll give more information next week. Things will still get to me the old way for a couple of weeks, though.

Well, have a wonderful week!

Elder Murdoch

Monday, March 7, 2011

Time is going by so fast!! Too fast! But we keep finding more people to teach and baptize so things are good. This last week was full of trials and tests but with them many opportunities to strengthen my faith, learn, and progress in many ways.

Like I said, we keep finding people and teaching others that we had. Patricia is doing great. She didn´t go to church yesterday, but today we´re going to pass by and see why. She´s learning a lot and last week accepted a baptismal date for March 20. She can do it but needs to go to church. We also met her son, Yerko, 22. He´s really nice, and we want to start teaching him as well.

Now for one of the trials we had. Last week I talked about Manuel, who knows a lot about the church (cool side note, he has Bob Marley hair) and his friend Ruben. We had a couple lessons with them, and I felt that Ruben has more of a true desire to learn. It´s true. Last night we dropped by and found Ruben alone. He said that they had some problems. Manuel was causing a lot of drama, and Ruben, as owner of the house, had to kick him out. But I think it´s better. He said that Manuel was making fun of us, saying that he knows more than us about the church. Sounds like he´s too proud and that he may not have progressed much.

We also found a great lady named Magdalena last night. Unfortunately, I don´t have time to talk about her, but I will next week.

Have a great week!

Elder Murdoch

La Moneda, Chile's "White House"

Monday, February 28, 2011

Wow, what a week! One of the best of my mission! No kidding! We have had so many miracles, and I know that the Lord is blessing us a lot. For the third week in a row we did over 200 contacts, ending with 268 and 50 Permaneced visits. As we keep improving in these two key indicators, all our other numbers keep increasing as well. This last week we had a total of 10 lessons: 6 with members and 4 others; exactly what we had done the past three weeks of the transfer. We found six new investigators, and one went to church--the first investigator in church since our sector was opened. Let it be said that we have broken the curse of Putaendo!! We are now doing great!

We started something new this week. We have introduced some members to waffles, and they love them. They all ask to use our waffle maker, or better yet, for us to make them waffles. So we compromise. We set up a Family Home Evening saying that we will make waffles after--only if they bring an investigator. Sometimes they do the lesson, other times we do. It´s working. Last week we had a lesson with the Elders Quorum President and his family. His wife reactivated a few months ago, and the three daughters are inactive, although one is working on becoming active. He gave the lesson about the Beatitudes. They had brought a friend, Katalina who was really interested. We gave her a Book of Mormon, and she committed to read. We later found out that she loved the Family Home Evening. Tomorrow night we have another one with her and the member family. It will be great because if she starts going to church, the inactive daughters will have to go with her. So we will baptize and reactivate.

Last week I mentioned Jaime, a reference from the bishop. Well, the other day we kind of met him. Well, at least we tried; but he hid in his room. He apparently doesn´t want to listen; he just didn´t want to say no to the bishop. However, his daughters, Romina and Patricia and Patricia´s daughter, Akim, are really interested. Patricia went to church yesterday and she loved it as well as the baptism of the other Elders in the ward. Afterward, she committed to come to church next week and every Sunday. She has some great potential to progress well.

Now, to top all of this off, last night we had a miracle. And when I say miracle, I mean MIRACLE!! We had a Family Home Evening with a family that has both inactives and nonmembers. They called to tell us that they weren´t home, leaving us with nothing to do the rest of the night. On the other side of the street we noticed a couple of guys and a girl bringing some big heavy bags out of a house. So we went over and asked if we could help. The one, named Ruben, said "Yes you can. Do you have a book I can read?" So we gave him a Book of Mormon. Then we started to talk with them as we helped carry their stuff to the bus stop. The other guy, Manuel, knows a lot about the church. He started talking about the Doctrine and Covenants, the Liahona, angel Moroni, gold plates, teachings of the prophets, word of wisdom, etc. This guy knows a lot! But he´s not a member. YET. They actually asked, almost begged, us to visit them in their house. The problem is that they moved there last week and didn´t know how to tell us how to get there. So we offered to go with them, helping with the bags, to see how to get there. Let me say that they live IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE! And it´s a really small, humble house. But they are really great. They have a lot of desires to learn more. The girl, Jacqueline, was asking a lot of great questions. They all love to read, so we left each with their own Book of Mormon, and we´re thinking of giving them all the pamphlets of the lessons so they can read and learn on their own. They also committed to come to church on Sunday. They really are wonderful, and will make great progress.

The Lord is blessing us a lot, and we hope to keep working hard and have lots of success these next two (my last two) months. I´m really excited.

Elder Murdoch

Monday, February 21, 2011

San Felipe Area

Huge Spider we found in our house! Don't worry, we killed it!

Elders Squire and Murdoch - Zone Climbing Activity
Well, this last week, aside from once again going fast, was rather uneventful. We´re still working hard to find more investigators. We did receive a couple of great references this past week. One came from the Zone Leaders, who talked to a man named Carlos that said we could pass by. He´s really great. He lives in what´s called a pieza. I´ll do my best to explain. You enter the door from the street and find yourself in a long hallway/courtyard. On both sides are several doorways, each leading into a small house which basically consists of a small living room and a smaller bedroom. They share 2-3 bathrooms and a kitchen. Not the most comfortable situation, but better than nothing. Anyway, the good thing is that there are at least 20 other people there with whom we could share in the future. We just got to know Carlos and left him a pamphlet of the Restoration. We are going to return on Friday.

We also received a reference from the bishop. He was waiting for a bus and struck a conversation with a man. They talked about the church and the man, named Jaime, asked if someone from the church could visit his family. Of course we can!! The bishop sent us there. The problem is that he, like many Chileans, works a lot. Plus he´s been in Santiago a few days visiting a sick brother. So we haven´t met him, but we have talked with his wife and two daughters. They are all nice and really receptive. We hope that he gets back soon so that we can teach them all. There are at least six people in the house, possibly one or two more. That would be great! And they don´t live far from the church, so it wouldn´t be as hard to go.

So this last week they had some special transfers in our zone. There was an Elder, Elder Boyce, who had returned home a couple months ago for personal reasons. (side note: he´s from Malad) He returned last week, and they put him in our zone, replacing an Elder who went to another zone. That Elder who got changed was DL of the four sister missionaries so the leadership got changed as well. Elder Driscoll, the fourth missionary in our house and our ex-DL, is now DL of Elder Boyce and his companion. Meanwhile, I am DL of the sisters. Yea! I love being district leader of the sisters. They are way awesome. They work really hard and cook really well! :)

Well, I think that´s it for this week. Not a lot happened. But at least nothing bad happened. This next week should be better. We are starting to find people. Things are getting better.
Have a great week!!

Elder Murdoch

Monday, February 14, 2011

Wow, this last week went by really fast. But it was a good one. Not much happened, but we´re getting better. We haven´t had a lot of lessons, and we´re still searching for more investigators. But we´re working a lot with inactives. Actually, remember Permaneced, the program that the Chile Area came out with? It´s for working with inactive members. We have key indicators for it, and one is “Visits Made.” The "standard" is 10, with some sectors getting 4-5 and others making 12-15. Two weeks ago our whole zone, 12 sectors, did 119. This last week we did 51. We have also done a lot of contacts. The "standard" is 140, 20 every companionship every day. Recently, contacts have been dropping and companionships are doing 40-70. We did 200. We´ve had very few lessons, and have almost no investigators, but the only two indicators that we can control are Permaneced visits and contacts. We hope that with what we´ve done we can find more people to teach and eventually baptize.

One thing we´ve started doing to get so many contacts is sing on the bus. We have to take a bus for half an hour to get to our sector and again going home at night. So we take advantage and sing a few hymns. Some people listen, others don’t. Then we give the interested ones pass-along cards and do contacts. There´s a family that has been on the bus four times when we sing. One time the dad was on; the other times just the mom and the little son, David. They always enjoy it when we sing, and last night I talked with her to see if we could pass by some day. She said that she doesn’t have much time, just weekends. So I invited her to church. She seemed interested, and we´ll see if she comes.

Last week we got a reference from the Zone Leaders. It´s kind of an interesting situation. They were at a member´s house who had a friend, Rosa, visiting. She was interested, so they taught the Restoration. She accepted a baptismal date for March 6. They called and passed us the reference. We found the street she lives on, but they didn´t give us a number; just hints on how to arrive. We couldn´t find the house, and no one in the neighborhood knows her. So we have to wait for more information to be able to visit. Until then we have an investigator with a baptismal date that we don´t even know. :)

Today we had a zone activity, where we went to some hills in the middle of nowhere and climbed around in some rocks and had a picnic. It was really fun. I loved climbing the rocks and all. Next week I will send pictures of it. It was awesome!

So the weather here is really wacky now. Summer is ending, but it´s still really hot. This last week we had a couple of cooler days, and it even rained a couple of days. That is not normal for Chile. It is good, though, as they are in a water crisis. Besides the rain, there were a couple of small earthquakes as well. One day there was a 6.8 in Concepción where the big one last year was. It was smaller here, but they still scare me. My companion wants to have another one as he was not here for the last one and thinks it would be cool. As for me, one is enough. I´m not hoping for any more. It´s so crazy how fast time goes. In two weeks from yesterday we will complete one year since the earthquake. Wow!!

Well, that´s about it for now. We got home late from the zone activity, so there´s not much time. Have a great week!!

Elder Murdoch

Monday, February 7, 2011

Wow, this last week was a really interesting one--full of hornets, new houses, and a new zone with 5 missionaries from Idaho. REPRESENT!!!

Yeah, I guess I´d better explain about the hornets comment. Well, before that, let me describe our old house. We have had several problems with it--leaky bathroom, pealing paper on the shower wall, and ants are just a few of them. Hornets were the straw that broke the camel’s back. Last Tuesday, we had finished planning and were chilling in the living room, where we had moved the beds due the heat in the bedrooms. (We moved studies to the bedrooms.) Suddenly Elder Hendricks started screaming bloody murder because something bit him and it hurt. We realized it was a black hornet and killed it. Then another, and another, two more, four more. AHHHH!! Where were they coming from?!?! We realized that they were coming from a hole in the light fixture. I had the fly swatter, and Elder Hendricks grabbed the can of Raid. We killed about 20 of them, then they started coming out of the kitchen and the garage. Elder Hendricks plastered the light fixture with Raid, then we ran into the bedrooms where they weren´t so we were safe. The funny part is that Elders Driscoll and Dalton didn´t realize it was so serious at first. Elder Dalton was watching and eating popcorn, and Elder Driscoll was talking on the phone and laughing. Then they finally got scared and joined us in the back room. Now, in our house, the kitchen leads to the garage, which has been extended. There is a window, painted white, between the garage and our room. We could hear the hornets hitting the window and see their shadows. It seriously was like a horror movie. Imagine several dozen of those biting you! You could get sent to the hospital! We didn´t dare leave the room because they were in the garage, kitchen, and living room. We called the office, and the zone leaders decided that we had to get out of there. While deciding what to do, Elder Hendricks put on a sweater, long pants, hood, etc., for protection and ran out with his camera in one hand and the Raid in the other. I followed, carefully, also filming. He got out to the garage, didn´t see anything, then confusedly turned back to the kitchen and yelled. I followed. They were all dead, laying on the ground. Same with the ones in the garage. There were easily a thousand or maybe more. We figure that when Elder Hendricks sprayed the Raid they all got mad and left, then it affected their systems and they died. We called a member who took us to the house of some other elders where we slept that night. The next day we went back and found a couple of nests in the garage with another good bunch of hornets. But even though the nests were inside, the hornets were outside and didn´t bug us. We rested a little, then showered and left to work. Later in the day, the hornets were gone. But finally, after so many problems with that house, the office gave us permission to find a new one. Luckily, we found one right away where a member family used to live. Saturday we moved in, with help from a couple members, and we are now living there. It is a very nice house--better than the last one--and we´re really excited about it.

That was basically our week. Not much else happened. Thursday in division, Elder Hendricks and Elder Driscoll found a golden contact. A few appointments fell through, and they felt that they should go to a park close by. They talked to a woman named Noelia, who later told them that she never has time to go to the park but did that day. She has 6 kids, 5 older than 8 years, with 6 more family members next door. She is searching for peace and comfort in her life. She was really interested and almost begged to listen to us. Sadly, she wasn´t there when we passed; but we´re going to go back tomorrow and every day after until we find her. She has great potential to progress well, and that´s 12 possible baptisms.

That´s about all for this week. Got to go. Time´s up. Have a great week!

Elder Murdoch

A lot of dead hornets! (And a mom who is chagrined about the condition of the kitchen. Ewwww!)

2 hornets' nests

Monday, January 31, 2011

Wow! One more transfer over with. Where does all that time go? It really doesn’t seem like that much time has passed since I arrived here in San Felipe. And now I only have two transfers more before I finish. How crazy!! Fortunately nothing happened with transfers. We had heard rumors of them closing our sector, which would make no sense. But they didn´t. I´m still here with Elder Hendricks. One of the other Elders in our house, Elder Weaver, finished the mission and will be flying out tonight. The mission secretary, Elder Driscoll, will move in. He´s awesome and we should have a good time.

This week was another great one. We had several trials and many blessings. Cynthia, whom I talked about last week, has been reading the Book of Mormon; but we haven´t been able to visit much, and she didn´t go to church yesterday. She still has a lot of potential to progress.

Luisa did go to church again yesterday. We visited her Thursday, and she was really happy. She said her health has been better and this last week she´s been more excited about things. She said (without us asking), "This Sunday I´m going to church even if I have to walk." And she went!

We also had several other inactives at church. Some went last week, but there was one new one: Aran Tapia. He´s been a member for like 20 years, since he was 16. He was even ward mission leader several years ago. Then for some reason we don´t know he went inactive, although his wife and daughter are active. A couple of weeks ago, Bishop was in an interview with Brother Aran and invited us in. He asked us to sing "Lead, Kindly Light" then we listened to them. It was great, and he really wants to be active again. Well, his daughter, Dorothy, helped with that. She turned eight in December and has been really anxious to be baptized. They decided to do it yesterday. Since her dad couldn´t baptize her, she wanted an Elder to do it, and they picked Elder Hendricks. Probably because he and Aran are so alike. They both love country music, cars, and suspenders. Elder Hendricks said that he’s found his Chilean counterpart. LOL. Brother Aran went to church and the baptism went great. They´re a great family and will hopefully be sealed soon.

My visa expired some time ago, so last week I had to renew it. Thursday we left at about 7:00 pm to travel almost 2 hours to Santiago, staying with the office Elders. We got to bed about 1:00 am, although I hardly slept. We were three Elders on two mattresses, and I had no blanket. We woke up at 5:30 to be at the office at 6:00, leaving shortly after to do all the “goose chase” process of renewing my visa. It wasn´t as bad as the last time I did it but was still a little stressful. But I did get to eat at Burger King, which turned right into a bunch of fat I had to work off. All in all it was a good experience. I had missed Santiago but decided that I definitely like the country better.

Well, that´s all for this week. As time goes faster, I learn more and more. I wish I could keep learning and progressing so much, but have time pass slower. Oh well.
Have a great week!

Elder Murdoch

San Felipe Elders

A little street-side store called "Kiosko Obama." He´s even here in Chile!!! Actually, he´ll be here for real in March.

Baptism of Javier (taught by other elders in the ward)

Monday, January 24, 2011

My Current Area

It's Hot Here!

A Happy Missionary!
Christmas with the Stake President's and Smith Families

A Tractor--Reminded me of Home

Hey, this horse sings in English!

Elders Corbridge and Murdoch
Wow, what a great week!! Unfortunately it went by way too fast. My weeks here are few now, and each one passes faster than the last. The good thing is that we are having more success and doing a lot of great things. We´ve been a little worried that they might close our sector for a couple reasons. It´s been open for four months now after being closed for four years. The first few months Elder Hendricks and his trainer had a hard time having success, and it was the same my first weeks here. But suddenly, BOOM! we exploded and now we are having a lot more success. But one problem, which I think I´ve mentioned, is that we don´t live in our sector. We have to take a bus like 10 minutes to get to the limit, and 20 more to get to the center, where we usually work more. We easily spend 2 hours and $3 each day traveling. Tuesday during interviews with President May, Elder Hendricks mentioned this to him. He told us to look for a house in our sector, whatever we can find. That same day we found one. A nice house, plenty of space, good neighbors, and cheap. We called the office to tell them, and they called President. He called us the next day to tell us no. He decided not to have us rent it, because this next week is transfers and he said a lot of sectors will be closing. So to be safe, they don´t want to rent a new house, then stop because the sector was closed. That scared me a lot. But we´ve been having a lot more success, and we hope that he will see that and not close our sector. I would be really sad.

Now about this success that I keep saying we´ve had--we are teaching several people, a lot inactives. Yesterday morning we traveled to our sector then returned to church(a big sacrifice), bringing with us three inactives. Three more, the Vera family, who I mentioned went last week, showed up later. And two more unexpectedly arrived. The dad is Elder´s Quorum President, and the mom recently re-activated. And two of the three inactive daughters went! In total we had eight inactives in church. 8 out of 87 attendance. Not bad. It was great!

The other day we were walking around in our sector with nothing to do and decided to contact a few people. We saw a woman named Gina outside of her house trimming the bushes and decided to offer to help. She said, "Really? Okay." but then kept doing it herself. We started talking with her, and she didn´t show much interest. It seemed like she wanted to blow us off, see if we´d give up and go. But we didn´t. Her little daughter, Pamela, was out there and told us that her dad died. We later learned from the bishop, who knows her, that he hung himself. She´s a little bitter about that and maybe other things that we don´t know. At one point we asked her how she feels about her relationship with God. She answered, "He´s not my friend." At the beginning I wanted to leave when I saw that she had no interest, but when she said that I had a desire to help her change it. I felt impressed to talk about how we pass through trials and tribulations in our lives but that is the time that we most need to get closer to God, not farther away. (It sounds better in Spanish.) We need to have trials to learn and progress. I also felt impressed to give her a pamphlet of The Plan of Salvation. I promised her that it would help her with her questions. She responded, "With my doubts?" We said, “yes.” Tonight we are going to visit her and try to help her out.

We actually visited her last night but she wasn´t there, so we decided to knock a few doors in her street. The first door we knocked they let us in. Wow! The mom, Ogla, answered the door and invited us in. We met her daughters, Cynthia, 22, and Valentina, 13. Her husband wasn´t home, and the older son was in his room. We shared about the Restoration and the Book of Mormon. They had a lot of good questions. Ogla has a couple of doubts and some interesting beliefs, but for the most part their beliefs are similar to ours. They don´t go to a church and mentioned how they don´t like the other ones. We actually hadn´t been in the house for five minutes and Cynthia asked us if we could explain our beliefs. She is really well educated and had a lot of good questions. She asked us questions like "What are your church meetings like?" "How is your baptism?" And when we talked about prophets she asked, "Is there a prophet today? Who is he?" Truthfully, I think that she and Valentina will progress better than the mom. We also hope to meet the dad and brother too. A family of five!! Ejalé!! (that means something like "hooray!)

Also, yesterday we found a couple more inactives. (That´s almost a daily occurrence.) We went to visit someone we met the other day, but they didn´t come to the door. As we waited a young woman of about 22 was walking toward us. She suddenly waved and we were like, wait, was that at us? There was no one else in the street, so it had to have been us. She got closer and said, "Hey, are you the Mormon missionaries? My mom´s a member of your church but doesn´t go." They lived right next door, so we visited them. Turns out that she (Andrea) and her mom are members but don´t go. One problem could be because her mom, Carol, is blind. She doesn´t see at all, but she´s learned to manage even so and gets along fine. We got to know them and set up an appointment for Thursday. They want to go to church, so we´ll try to help them with that.

Well, that´s about all that happened this week. Oh, and a couple of mornings of “hooping it up” at the church. I`ve luckily still got my stuff and tear it up every time. Except this morning I only played so-so. But I’ve still got it. And we keep playing a lot of soccer, so I´m getting better at that, too.
Have a great week!

Elder Murdoch

Monday, January 17, 2011

This week was great. We were able to do a lot of great things. One day went to the house of a member in our ward, who lives in a nearby city, and did some service. They had recently purchased the house with a shed out back that was in really bad shape. So we took it down. It was a lot of fun taking down the roof, then the rafters, taking out nails from boards, etc. We ended up getting pretty dirt, but it was a blast.

We keep doing all we can with the inactive members. Yesterday morning we went to pick up a 19-year-old to take him to church, but he was asleep and didn´t come. He, his brother, and his mother are all members, but he´s the only one that listens. Next week he´s going to go even if we have to wake him up; he said it´s okay. We visited later in the day and met his grandma, I think, who also is a member. She went inactive like 3 years ago and started going to another church but didn´t like it. She wants to go to church and said that she´ll go this week with him.

The highlight of it all was church yesterday. The Vera family, an inactive family that I talked about last week, showed up at church! It was great. The members greeted them and they felt really welcomed. They felt great and want to keep coming.

We also visited Isabel, whom we hadn´t seen in over a week. We taught her and Valentin, her grandson, the Restoration. They are pretty illiterate. It seems like she doesn´t have much education, and he´s only 9 years old. So it was interesting to teach them. They didn´t understand a lot. Valentin understood more, and we left them with the pamphlet to read so they can hopefully better understand. We also changed their baptismal date, which originally was yesterday, to February 6. We hope they can go to church and progress.

Well, that´s all I have time for. Last week was great and this week has lots of potential as well. I also have been learning a lot. I have what I call a "Meditation Journal" where I write thoughts and revelations that I receive. It´s been great, and I´m learning a lot. But the most important, and possibly hardest, part of it is applying what you learn. It doesn´t do any good learning if one doesn´t apply. Actually, the other day I was studying the word "Understand" in the guide to the scriptures, and it said that to understand is "To gain a knowledge of or to perceive the meaning of some truth, including its application to life." What really called my attention was where it says "including its application to life." So in order to understand what we are learning or studying, we must apply it in our lives. Understanding requires application. And as we apply, we gain experience. Also, under “Wisdom” it says "A person gains wisdom through experience and study and by following God’s counsel." So as we study then apply what we learn, thus gaining experience, we better understand and are more able to follow God´s counsel.

Elder Murdoch

I liked this picture since I have holes in my shoes!

After service in San Felipe

New Year's Dinner

New Year's Dinner

Monday, January 10, 2011

Wow, the transfer is already half over. It´s going by so fast! This last week was a little rough because Elder Hendricks had to go to Santiago to take out his Chilean identification card so he can be legal. We lost two days of work because he had to go to Santiago Thursday night, stay there and do all the work Friday, getting home just in time for a meeting with the ward mission leader. I´ll probably have to do the same thing this week or the next, so there will be two more days lost. Mine expired in October, and I had to do something to renew it. It´s not ready yet but will be soon. Great1

Last week was also tough because I was sick for several days. The Stake President here lives in our ward and is a doctor. President May has given permission for sick missionaries in our zone to see him so we went to see him. He didn´t tell me what my problem was, but he gave me some pills to take; and they helped. I´m feeling a lot better.

We´ve also been having some problems with the house--leaks in the sink, the shower and the toilet. We always have a swimming pool in the kitchen when we wash the dishes and one in the bathroom when we shower. There´s a member who works on stuff like that for his job, so he came over to fix it all. He actually was going to do it about 5 months ago, but the office said no. Then things got worse. There are new people in the office, and now that it´s more to fix and more money to pay, they said yes. So he came a couple days, and we had to be in the house while he worked on everything. That also took some time. And money, as we had to pay him. I paid $80 and hope the office will reimburse me soon.

Even though we haven’t had much time in our sector, we have been able to do some good things. We´ve been working with a lot of inactive members. We´re trying to get them to church, but they always have excuses. “Family came to visit,” “We don´t have money for the bus,” and, “We didn´t wake up in time” are a few of the many excuses we hear. But we are progressing with several of them and should be able to help them go to church. Last night the bishop accompanied us to a few inactives. We visited one family, the Vera Family. We taught them the Atonement of Jesus Christ by doing push-ups. It was really powerful, especially when I offered the father a candy and he said, “No, I don´t want to see him suffer.” And Elder Hendricks had to do pushups anyway. The father asked, “Why did he have to do it if I said no?” Good question. And when we answered, I think it hit them really strong. To explain it works, I would ask a family member if they wanted a certain blessing i.e. happiness, joy, remission of sins, eternal life, etc. or a little candy. Then, regardless of if they said yes or no, my comp would do pushups. Then we explained how Christ suffered for our sins so that we can have all of these blessings. At times we don´t apply the Atonement in our lives, making him to have suffered in vain. He still suffered whether we accept it or not. It´s really powerful, and we´re sure that the Family Vera will go to church next week.

We also found some new investigators. The ward mission leader from another ward gave us a referral, with whom Elder Hendricks and his trainer had visited but lost contact. We were able to find and teach her. Her name is Javiera. She´s 18 and recently graduated from high school. Her parents, Miriam and Edison, also listened to us. Well, her mom did; her dad showed up at the end. They both have a Book of Mormon, and have read parts of it but don´t remember much. We taught the importance of baptism and the Holy Ghost, and also the Restoration. The spirit was really strong, and I know they felt something. They committed to pray about it. I felt that Javiera might already have an answer. Her mom, Miriam, wants to believe, and I feel that she will pray; and if she does, she will definitely receive an answer. Their problem is that they have a hard time waking up in the morning, so it will be hard for them to go to church. We´ll have to see what we can do to help them.

This last week we got bikes for one day. A zone leader pulled a muscle in his back and can´t ride, so they let us borrow their bikes. We have only used them a little, but it´s still been cool. I like it! I hope that soon we can get our own bikes.

Well, this last week was a tough one and a good one. I´m learning a lot of things. I realized that I´ve been receiving a lot of personal revelations, but I haven´t been writing them down and then I forget. So now I carry around a special diary in my backpack to write any revelation I receive. I´ve been learning a lot and it´s a great experience. I love it!

Well, have a great week.

Elder Murdoch

Monday, January 3, 2011

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!! Hope it´s a great one!!
Wow, last week went by really fast. Seems like a couple days ago was Christmas and now we´re in January. It was also a fast year. We´re already in 2011!! Is that crazy or what!?!?

Last week was a tough one. We have several problems with our sector. There haven´t been missionaries here for five years. My companion is on his 3rd transfer now, and he and his trainer opened the sector. And to explain better, our sector isn´t in the small city of San Felipe. Rather, it consists of a smaller town called Putaendo and smaller surrounding villages. It´s usually a good 20-30 minutes between villages by bus. It´s very spread out. Our sector borders Argentina on the north and Viña del Mar, a big tourist city, on the west. Our sector is one of the biggest in the mission and is the farthest north. My comp, having opened this huge sector, is still getting to know it, and I know even less than he. Also, being five years since there were missionaries, we do not have a house here. We are living in a house with two other Elders in our ward and have to take a bus 30 minutes to the limit of our sector. All this together means a number of things. 1)We can do few things in one day due to traveling so much. 2)We have to be sure that Plan A is going to be home. Plan B can´t be knocking doors cause it´s like one house every 1/2 mile. 3)We waste a lot of money taking buses every day. Just to name a few. But we are getting to know the sector and learning about how to work in it, mostly with members and a lot of inactives, so things should improve.

Having said that, we do have a few investigators. Last week I mentioned Isabel and her grandson, Valentin. They live in really poor circumstances. Actually, they don´t even have a bathroom. Our first visit there, when I asked to use the bathroom, she took me out back to the outhouse! The first time in over two years that I´ve used an outhouse!! I never thought I´d see one on my mission. They were going to go to church yesterday but didn´t make it. Today we´re going to visit them and see why. They want to get baptized. Actually, when we extended a baptismal date, Isabel accepted excitedly. Then Valentin said, "Me too! I want to get baptized too!" Now we have to help them gain a testimony of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.

We are also teaching man named Juan, who I guess is in his 50´s. He and his "señora" (wife) aren´t married, which means he can´t get baptized. But he wants to. The other day we did a practice baptismal interview with him and he answered all the questions well. I felt that he is ready. When we asked if he believes that Joseph Smith was a prophet he said "Oh, I have no doubt of that. I know he was." Wow. The problem is that with the holidays it´s been hard for them to get a date to get married. But today they went and should be able to get one. Hopefully this week, but the next at the latest. And he should be able to be baptized in January.

Good news! I´ve been losing weight! A couple weeks ago I was at 198 lbs. Thanks to Christmas and New Years I´ve climbed to 205. But I´ve maintained that for a good week, and now am going to buckle down, or "put in the batteries" as they say in Chile and do a lot of exercises. We are also playing a lot more soccer and basketball now and that, together with walking and hopefully bikes soon and lots of fruit, should help. I hope to return in four months at 190, maybe less. Which would be quite the achievement, for when I left the MTC I was 215.

Well, that´s all for this week. Happy New Years and hope it´s a good one!

Elder Murdoch