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