So great to hear from you all. It´s great to hear that the family has all arrived from England!! I hope everyone has an awesome time. I´m super excited to talk to everyone next week!! I think I´m gonna call on Sunday by Skype around 2 or 3 Chile time. We´re just gonna have to find an internet place that´s open. I´m pretty excited.
Dad!! That´s too bad about your cold, I hope you get better before Christmas. I remember one year we were all sick and puking and stuff on Christmas. It kinda kills the excitement when that happens. That stinks about the thing at work!! Hopefully everything plays out alright. That´s awesome about those hockey tickets. I miss hockey. Everyone here is completely nuts about soccer, it´s pretty funny. We actually played today with the 2 zones in Talca. That´s too bad that the sister missionary left from the ward. I think I understand how that feels because there was a fear a couple weeks ago that maybe I was gonna leave La Florida and that would stink. I feel attached to the members and investigators and my companion so it´s gonna be hard when the time for changes comes. Tell JoJo thanks for the email he sent me!! I can´t respond right now but hopefully he has a good time in the Philippines!
Mum!! Maybe I will go and buy a camera, but make sure you take my money after to pay for it!! About the spiders, we found a whole bunch so last week bought a thing of Raid that kills especially spiders and fumigated the bedroom. I haven´t seen any more spiders in there since but I know they´re somewhere in the house, probably in the attic, just waiting to come down and kill us. Elder Navarrete is from Santiago, Chile. He´s pretty young in the mission too. He has about 9 months. He starting training me in his 5th cambio and in his 6th cambio he became a district leader. The President thinks really highly of him. We were worried last week because the zone leaders found out that the president was thinking about transfering him to another city to be a zone leader. Luckily he stayed, but I´ve gotta enjoy the 5 weeks I have left with him and then I´m pretty sure he´s outta here. That´s funny about Izaac. We´ve had quite a few experiences with out of control kids. One woman (the mother of an old investigator) had three little boys betweeen the ages of 2 and 5, and another son (the investigator) who was 18. The little kids would play and pee in the street without clothes on, climb all over us, and be completly nuts, but the mother didn´t do anything. There was an investigator at church this Sunday who had to bring her grandson because her daughter was too busy to take care of him. He was flailing around and punching Elder Navarrete in sacrament meeting. It was pretty crazy and we´re a little worried that it ruined her experience. Another family in the ward has a son who was throwing stuff at us during lunch, breaking things, punching a little girl that came over, kicking and punching his mum at church, and everything. It was pretty crazy, and those are only a few of the experiences. That´s great about Kenna. Next week she has to show me here reading and writing skills! That´s exciting about Becky too. I hope everything goes well with her. Thanks for not making chocolates by the way. I think that would kill be not being able to eat them hahaha. I just found this awesome mormon message that I was watching while writing this email. It´s awesome!
Michael! Nice work on your essay bud. I bet you rocked those tests too. You have exams coming up soon too right? That´s good about Josh, I hope he´s doing well. Are you stoked for Christmas? I am. I think it´s cool because this year is gonna be the best Christmas ever. I get to talk to the family which is awesome, and I get to focus entirely on the religious part of the holiday. I don´t have to worry about running around buying things, I just get to think and teach about Jesus Christ. It´s a great privilege. Preach My Gospel is incredible. You will eat, sleep, and breathe Preach My Gospel on your mission. It basically tells us everything we need to do as a missionary.
Charly! That´s really cool about your project!! Send me a picture of it; it sounds really cool. That´s really creative. I hope your having a good time leading up to Christmas. That´s crazy about the basketball team too!! I didn´t know you could play basketball!! Nice work.
Jake!! Are you excited for Christmas? I´m so excited to see you and talk to you on Sunday. It´s gonna be awesome. How goes your scripture reading? I love reading the scriptures as a missionary. Everytime I open the Book of Mormon and start to read it I feel really peaceful and really excited. I hope you can keep reading the scriptures and start to love them.
This week was really good. On Wednesday we had to go to Conty to do an interview so we lost that day entirely. Someone offered us a ride home and we talked to her the whole time about the gospel. She seemed legitimately interested and now we have a pretty good reference for some missionaries where she lives. We also had a conference in a town called Linares about an hour south of Talca. We learned about planning, about how to be loving, and how to work with the ward. It was perfect for what we needed. I learned a lot. I learned that I need to be personable and loving with the people. We have to work to gain the confidence of the Bishop also so we can include the ward more in the work. We also had a huge feast. We each had half a chicken, a huge potato, and a huge chocolate bar with bread and a banana.
Also, all the missionaries in Talca sang in a stake Christmas devotional last night. I got to play the piano which was pretty cool. I´ve also played the piano a couple times in church.
Because of the trip to Conty and the other trip to Linares we lost 2 full days of work in our sector this week. It was pretty tough and we were worried about having no one in church, but we were hugely blessed. Despite that we had few lessons this week, we had 6 people in church. It was awesome. 4 of them are progressing to a baptismal date. 3 of them came for their second time and one of them, Jackeline, came for her fifth time. It was awesome. It´s been a testimony that the Lord blesses us when we do all we can to work hard.
Jackeline has no baptismal date because she had an interview with the Bishop last week to try and set straight some of her concerns about feeling accepted in the ward, and the Bishop told her that she doesn´t need to work with baptismal goals because she´s sick with depression and she doesn´t need to feel any pressure. It was a little bit frustrating for us because it basically killed her progress but we´re praying for miracles that she´ll be able to do it herself. We were impressed though because she insisted on going to church without us calling her and without us picking her up in the morning. She got to church all by herself.
Natalia and Camila are doing good and are friends!! Both are the same age and are new. We love seeing their progress in the church.
We´re working on helping the ward with missionarywork. The missionary program is completely dead in the ward so it´s been hard to coordinate with the ward. We´re working with the Bishop and it seems like we´re making good progress. I think he had some disobedient and not so good missionaries before. Also, some recent converts are struggling, which isn´t the fault of the missionaries, but all that has been difficult for a Bishop with a small ward of 80 regularly attending members, some of which aren´t very strong. I feel for him because I think he has a lot on his plate. We´re trying to focus on the counsel that Elder Cooke gave to us in the conference a while back of being "branch builders." We´re trying to work to strengthen and set goals with less actives as well as with our investigators.
I feel like my focus is changing more to the people rather than the numbers, and I feel like I have more charity now. I feel more like a missionary and more like a servant of Jesus Christ because I feel my desires changing from having numbers of baptisms to strengthening the Lord´s kingdom and helping people enter and progress in the pathway to eternal life.
I´ve also been thinking about the importance of Lehi´s dream in the Book of Mormon. As I´ve studied and pondered it, I´ve come to realize the grand importance of the word of God. If we hope to remain faithful to the end, and if we hope that our families and friends do the same, we have to feast upon the word of God. We have to hold fast to it with all of our strength. We have to love it and seek after it the most we can. We can´t afford to take a casual approach to the things of the Lord, or we will end up like those that took a casual approach in Lehi´s dream - lost in forbidden paths and drowned in the depths of the filthy river representing the depths of hell.
I feel my testimony and faith in the Lord growing everyday. I realize everyday that I have so much to improve with the language, my teaching, and with my attitude, but I know if I try, and if I have the desire to serve the Lord with everything I have, he´ll bless me.
I know that this church is true. I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God. We have prophets on the earth today who gives guidance that is so important. The Lord is reaching out more than ever through missionaries and through the media to call people to Him. There´s so much bad in the world, but there is so much good also. The Lord is doing His great work among the children of men that it talks about in the scriptures. His kingdom is growing, and we have the opportunity to take part in that growth. We have God´s truth. It´s magnificent. I know that Jesus Christ is my Saviour. He lives and loves us. He wants us to be happy, and we will find more happiness through Him than we could find through any other means. During this Christmas season we have the opportunity to remember Him, and turn our thoughts to Him. It is my wish that everyone can focus on the true meaning of Christmas. That we can forget about the consumerism and business that comes at this time of year, and remember our Lord, Jesus Christ. There is no greater gift than the gift that our Heavenly Father gave to us, which is is Son. I hope we can all take a little step to draw closer to our Lord; to leave behind the things of the world and hold a little tighter to the things of God.
I feel so blessed with the opportunities that I have now to serve the Lord. I am so blessed to have such an incredible family, such a great companion, and to have my calling as a missionary. I´ve seen so much the importance of the small things. Strength as individuals and as families come from God.
I love you all so much family!! Merry Christmas and I´ll talk to you next week!