Sunday, 15 January 2012

PRETTY GOOD WEEK - 9TH JANUARY 2012

¡Hola familia!

Sounds like everyone´s been super busy!

Dad!  Sounds like hockey was a lot of fun. Too bad we lost against the Russians. We´re supposed to win!! That was funny about the thieves that were stealing from the tire yard. Hahaha chasing them down with your truck. I think you just need to paint the truck black, throw on a black suit with a cape and call yourself batman. Who needs the police when you can chase them down yourself? I like the goal of doing PPIs. I think that´s something really important. President Monson taught that progress accelerates when it´s reported. I like that you took Kenna on a one on one date too. I always loved it the times we did that. Do you have any other cool missionary experiences from your mission?

Mum! I like the idea of a family blog. I´m not sure if I can look at it, so could you just send me what you write every week in a separate email? Sounds like you´ve had and done a lot of visits this week! That´s awesome. As a missionary I´m starting to see how the small and simple things strengthen people immensely. I really like your idea of studying Preach My Gospel. It´s awesome!! It teaches us what to teach and how to teach it, as well as how to find people and how to serve others. It basically tells us everything we need to know about sharing the gospel. I´m happy that things are going well with you. That´s too bad that Jake was sick. I haven´t received any emails from him for the last 2 weeks.

Michael! Sounds like you had a fun week. Too bad you have exams soon! I´m sure you´ll destroy them anyway so don´t even worry about it. I hope that book is good. I´m jealous that it didn´t come out earlier. You´re gonna be an awesome missionary. When do you think you´re gonna hear back from BYU by the way? My zone leader applied for BYU too and he´s curious when he´ll get his response.

This week was pretty sweet. We had a baptism!! Jacqueline got back from her trip on Tuesday so we went by to see her and to give her her Christmas present. We didn´t say anything about baptism, but when we were about to leave she told us to plan the baptismal service as soon as possible. We were so excited!! A huge miracle and answer to our prayers. The next day we went with the Bishop´s wife who was recently called to serve in the Presidency of the Relief Society, and she helped us a ton. Jacqueline was even worse because her daughter and been really insensitive with her. The bishop´s wife helped us a ton by really reaching out to Jackeline and offering to help her. We found out too that she is going to be Jackeline´s visiting teacher. We were gonna do the baptism next week, but felt that we should do it earlier because if we didn´t do it maybe something would arise and Jackeline wouldn´t do it. We did it after the meetings on Sunday and a bunch of the members went to the service too. She bore her testimony and felt really welcomed by everyone. We were really happy for her, and she is really happy too.

We had three investigators at church this week. We had Edith and her sister Mily, and Jacqueline at church. Edith had a baptismal date for the 14, but I dunno what´s gonna happen with that. She feels insecure because she too suffers from a little bit of depression. We went by and taught her and her sister. Her sister had put doubts in her head and basically is trying to bring Jacqueline to her church instead. When she went to church and participated in the classes however, she became interested. We´re gonna see what happens with that. It was interesting too because about 5 minutes before the Gospel Principles class, we found out that the sister who normally teaches wasn´t there, and that we had to teach. Elder Navarrete was a genius and divided the class into groups to study the manual and present what they learned. It ended up working out pretty well.

The Bishop is doing some changes in the ward which is good. He told us he wants to change everything. It seems so far to be working because the Relief Society is taking off, and a new counselor in the Bishopric asked us in Priesthood in the meeting what the priesthood in the ward could do for us. We were taken a little off guard but we´re really excited and are gonna bring specific names and assignments next week. We´re also excited because they´re working on reactivation a lot now, and on getting us good referrals.

This week none of our recent converts were at church. Natalia was out of town, Ximena had instruction from the doctor to stay home and rest because she has an operation in a couple days, and we have no idea what happened with Camila. We were gonna meet with her this week but she couldn´t because she was busy signing up for university classes. She hasn´t answered her phone at all for and I´m a little worried. Normally we meet with her in another member´s house but I wanna pass by to make sure everything´s ok. We´ve also received some bad news that maybe Natalia had a relapse with the word of wisdom. Preach My Gospel teaches us not to be discouraged if that happens, but we´re gonna do everything we can to help her. It´s a lot to expect a huge complete change in a person in such a small amount of time. We´re excited though because we´re getting more and more help from the members.

We set goals this week to improve with our time usage and to focus more in our studies. We didn´t find anyone good this week, and almost all the people who committed to go to church didn´t show up and didn´t answer their phones. It was frustrating on Saturday when everything just fell apart with the appointments we had and everything. We decided that in order to have more success with the things outside of our control, we need to show the Lord that we´re going to be better with the things inside our control.

We´re still working with Edith, Susana, Cony, and Antonia as possibilities this month. We might drop Silvia because she hasn´t done anything and didn´t go to church after swearing by God to go. It can be very testing to your patience when people completely bail on their commitments and the appointments that we have. I think the important thing is to always show the love of the Lord, but we have to use our time effectively, and not with people who don´t wanna change their lives.

It´s starting to hit me that Elder Navarrete is almost for sure going in 2 weeks. It´s gonna be terrible! I´ve learned so much from him in this short time, and the experiences I´ve had here have changed my outlook on life completely. I feel more patient, and I feel like I´m more able to see things how they are in terms of the gospel. I´m more able to see sin and see righteousness.

I love being a missionary. Although at times it can be difficult when we´re knocking doors in the sun or when all our plans fall apart, I know that this is the Lord´s work. I have a million things to improve, and I love improving everyday. I´ve been so blessed with the language, my teaching abilities, and with the miracles I´ve seen. Although I have to improve immensely as a missionary, I´m happy to see the progress I have made.

I know this is the Lord´s work. This is His church, and His gospel. Joseph Smith was a prophet. He saw the Father and the Son, and He translated the Book of Mormon by the power of God. This is the Lord´s kingdom, and His work will go forth.

Thank you so much for all your letters and for your prayers. I´m so happy to see the progress in each one of you, and I know that the Lord will bless you and me as we seek to follow Him more closely.

¡Chao!

FELIZ ANO NUEVO - 2ND JANUARY 2012

¡Feliz año nuevo familia! I hope everyone had an awesome new year. Sounds like it was quite the party with the wedding and with the whole family. That´s pretty awesome.

Congratulations to Brad and Mary-Clare!!! It sounds like the wedding was awesome. I´m so happy for you both!! I still can´t believe that Mary-Clare got married. A year ago I never would of guessed her getting married at 20 years old.

Dad! To answer your question about training, I have no idea!! I don´t personally feel ready, but I don´t think anyone is ever completely ready for assignments they´re given. I´m guessing the next cambio Elder Navarrete will leave and they´ll send a new district leader to be my companion. There is a possibility though that they´ll send 2 new missionaries to our sector and we would each have a new companion and stay here. It´s all up in the air right now, but we´ve got our ears to the ground cause we´re really curious haha. I like that talk from President Benson you talked about. I already have it so don´t worry about sending it. I bought a camera last week and a case. In total it cost 72ish thousand pesos. I imagine that´s around 150 bucks. Please take it out of my bank account. Love ya Dad!

Mum! Sounds like things have been pretty crazy with all the parties and everything!! when do all the kids go back to school? That´s a funny story about Andy and Elodie and Rachel. I wanna see that video of her chasing him hahaha. The wedding sounds like it was a realy big deal and well planned and stuff. Haha I bet Mary-Clare was making sure the whole time that it was done just right. Those little glass coke and sprite bottles that you mentioned are all over the place in Chile. I don´t think I´ve seen a can of pop, but there are always little glass bottles, and you have to return the bottle to the place where you bought it so they can recycle it. That´s pretty hilarious about Izaac with the ring. I can just imagine you stressing yourself out watching him like that!! Hahaha.  I really like the idea of that Caribbean cruise! I am definitely in support of that. Also, yes, I did buy my camera. I love you so much!

Michael! Sounds like you´ve been having a pretty good time. That´s cool about Tanner going to Houston. Texas is pretty awesome considering I almost went there. That´s pretty funny about Mackenzie. 2 hours to get ready to meet the family? Girls... I haven´t heard of 17 miracles, is it new? What exams do you have to take? You´re gonna kick butt and it´s all gonna be good getting accepted to BYU. You´re good to go with the grades you´ve been getting. To answer your question about girls in Chile, I´m not gonna answer your question! I´m a missionary! There are tons of snakes though. Something about being a missionary draws the attention of homeless people, drunk people, and 15 year old girls, especially when you have blonde hair in a latin country. It can be pretty funny sometimes.

Charly! Thanks for making everyone feel bad for not coming to talk to me haha. Punks. that´s pretty sweet that you got to be a bridesmaid!! I bet you had a lot of fun with Gabrielle too. Do you have exams soon?

Jake! How was your new years? From what the family´s said it sounds like you had a riot! Did you enjoy having everyone over from England?

Kenna! You got to be a flower girl! How was that?? You looked really cute in the pictures I saw. Did you have fun with all the family and did you have a fun New Years?

Izaac! I heard you got to be the ring bearer!! How was that? Mum said you almost dropped the rings but good job for holding on strong. Did you have a fun New Years?

Ok! A couple funny experiences. We´ve been woken up in the night by what sounds like crying babies. We´ve looked outside and seen two cats who stare each other down while moaning and then start fighting. It´s pretty funny. Once in a lesson we heard two cats moaning far away, and then heard them screaming and fighting in the front yard. After the lesson we saw a bunch of cat fur scattered all over the front lawn. It was pretty hilarious. Also, our neighbours have a rabbit that sometimes comes into our yard through the fence to eat our grass. The other day he was out front of the house and fighting with a cat. It was funny.

The last couple days we´ve found a bunch of corner spiders which are the deadly poisonous ones. A huge one was in Elder Navarrete´s clothes. We also found a bunch of smaller ones in our study room. We have a collection of dead corner spiders by our window. This morning we woke up and in the kitchen we saw a ton of ants. Hundreds had gotten inside somehow and were going into the garbage and up on the counter in the kitchen. It was nasty. The ants here are way smaller and always walk in long lines with other ants. We killed them all with good old insecticide and went on a cleaning spree. I hate bugs.

New Years in Chile was realy interesting. First of all, the people her normally go to bed at around midnight, which isn´t too different to North America, but the big difference is that everyone goes to bed at that time, not just the parents. The kids stay up til midnight regularly, and are usually outside playing until like 11. With New Years, the people eat dinner (they eat dinner on Christmas too) which they don´t do everyday cause normally they eat a big lunch and a little meal right before bed. so they eat a bunch at new years then the families go outside and watch the fireworks at midnight. We were allowed to be out until 11 and then heard the fireworks when we were planning in the house afterwards. it´s pretty sweet. Chilenos are good party-ers it seems like cause Natalia, our recent convert, went to bed at 6:30 in the morning, and when we were arriving at church we saw to girls who were just returning home from the parties. We were super happy cause Natalia went to church despite going to bed so late, something that a lot of the long-time members didn´t do, and she payed her tithing! Ximena went to church too. Camila couldn´t because she was out of town with her family, but she was so good that she called the Bishop to let him know and everything.

It was kind of a bummer for us at church, because only 57 people in the ward showed up at church. We had 3 investigators that were completely sure to go to church that all slept in and didn´t go. Elder Navarrete and I were a little bummed with that but it´s ok. The Bishop spoke in sacrament about how his kids had asked him the night before if they were going to go to church because they were so tired and he said "absolutely yes. We made a commitment with God to go to church and if we´re super tired, and if no one else goes, we go anyway because our commitment is with God." I really liked it because it made me think about my life and about people in general. Our first commitment is with God, and we must always keep that commitment no matter how inconvenient it is.

This week we taught an old investigator of other missionaries about a year ago and she committed to get baptized and was really excited. Unfortunately she didn´t show up to church, but she really wants to get baptized. It was quite the miracle. We also found another family that´s really good and another woman that seems pretty good that all want to go to church. This month we have 3 that have committed to get baptized for sure for sure, that really want to do it, and we have 3 other possibilities. s.



We met with the Bishop this week and I feel for him. The ward is really small and a lot of the people aren´t that strong. He´s starting to do changes in the callings of the whole ward. A few weeks ago we were a little worried about the relationship we had with the Bishop but after meeting with him the last couple times we feel a lot better. He tells us a lot of details about the ward and we´re really happy about that cause it means he trusts us enough to tell us. I´ve learned a lot from him. I love working to strengthen the ward and not only bring in new people. I feel more like a missionary and a representative of Jesus Christ.

We´ve visited quite a few less active people lately and it´s so sad how people just die spiritually. the people forget commandments and basic beliefs of the church, and lose their testimonies. It´s good when we see people like Antonia´s family that really wanna change and come back, but when we see people who have hardened their hearts it´s heart-breaking for us. There was a family sealed in the temple that stopped attending church and complained about the ward and how it doesn´t complete it´s function. We ended up "dropping the cane" on them pretty hard in the lesson as we felt the need to share really strong scriptures and talk really strongly and bluntly. I felt like Nephi who was constrained by the Spirit to call his brothers to repentance. It´s pretty ridiculous when people complain about the ward that they themselves are part of, but don´t do anything to contribute or fix the problem either. That´s always been a pet peve of mine when people complain without doing anything.

A few things I learned this week from discussions with my companion and with experiences we´ve had with people, is that when we embrace the things of God, we accept the truth and light, and are therefore more intelligent. We´re able to think more clearly, and spiritual things become obvious to us. I´ve noticed a huge change in myself since being a missionary as my commitment to serve God has increased and spiritual understanding has expanded. I´ve also seen the other side of it that when people distance themselves from the light they become spiritually stupid. They become incapable of basic spiritual reasoning and understanding of the scriptures. Spiritual things appear foolish to those who distance themselves from God in action or belief. When we strive to draw nearer to God, the things of the world lose their worth and we begin to reason more clearly.

I also learned the necessity to look for excellence. There are a lot of really good people in the world and in the church, but God´s best servants aren´t just good, they´re excellent. That doesn´t mean excellent in the eyes of other people, rather in the eyes of God. In order to be excellent, we need to drop anything to be more obedient to the commandments and to draw nearer to God, and we need to stop holding onto our "favourite sins." The attitude of "it´s not that bad" inhibits our progress and keeps us in the realm of mediocrity. In order to really progress and please God, we need to dedicate ourselves completely to Him. Clearly He knows better than us, and when He tells His prophets that we shouldn´t watch certain movies or participate in certain entertainment, we must obey with exactness without excuses. When He promises us greater happiness by obeying Him, it´s because we really can be happier and enjoy a higher plane of living. Obedience is how we can embrace the light and truth and become more intelligent.

I love being a missionary. I´ve seen so many miracles, and I´ve seen huge changes in people´s lives. I´ve also seen a huge change in my life. I know the church is true, and that Joseph Smith was a prophet. I love reading the Book of Mormon and I know it´s true. I feel a huge peace and joy everytime I read it. I know Thomas S. Monson is a prophet, and that Jesus Christ is our Saviour. I know that true happiness comes from God, and the only way we can obtain that is doing His will. I have so much more to learn and a ton of changes to make in my own personality to become closer to God. I always want to be a missionary. It´s like we automatically become people´s best friends just for doing our work. I can testify of the reality of the calling of a missionary and the mantle that comes with it as people see us as true servants of the Lord.

Family, I love you all so much!! I hope you´re all doing well and drawing nearer to God every day.

2 Nephi 9:39
O, my beloved brethren, remember the awfulness in transgressing against that Holy God, and also the awfulness of yielding to the enticings of that cunning one. Remember, to be carnally-minded is death, and to be spiritually-minded is life eternal.
Helaman 5:12
And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.

¡Chao!

Sunday, 1 January 2012

FELIX NAVIDAD Y FELIZ ANO NEUVO - 26TH DECEMBER 2011

Family!!

It was so great to talk to you yesterday. It´s weird cause I hadn´t really thought about the phone call that much because we were too busy, and then before I knew it it was over!! It was great to see everyone and hear your voices. I´m happy that everyone´s good, and it seems like everyone´s having a good Christmas! Sounds like you´re having a pretty crazy time! 22 people crowded in one house must have been nuts.

It was pretty weird speaking English while the people around me in the house were all speaking Spanish. I realized too that my English is really bad now hahaha. I couldn´t remember a bunch of words and I think my grammar was really bad.

So this week was pretty good cause we had a baptism!! Ximena (pronounced hee-men-ah) got baptized on Saturday and confirmed on Sunday. We´re so happy for her. My first day in La Florida, Elder Navarrete asked me where I thought we should do contacts. I had no idea and pointed to one place on the map after he reassured me that I had been called and set apart as a missionary and was entitled to receive revelation for the work in this sector. Ximena was the first person that let us in the house in my first day of the mission. She has 10 dogs. 3 are always outside, and 7 are in the house. Two of them have been with us in pretty much every lesson and always fight for attention when we´re teaching. It´s pretty funny, and after every lesson we would leave the house covered with hair. Because of her work schedule she can´t go to church every week, and that´s why it took her so long to get baptized seeing as she needed to have attended 3 times minimum, and we had to wait to baptize her until the week when she could get confirmed on the Sunday. She h as been really good at reading the Book of Mormon, and last time we checked was in Enos. She´s just a really good person. We thought she was about 23 or 25 or something, but found out when we filled out her baptismal record that she´s 37. We were completely floored. She works in a HomeCenter store as a cashier. She studied in university to be some kind of administrator or something but has never had the chance to work in the career she studied for because of a problem she has. She has a problem with her foot so it´s really hard for her to walk. She can´t go to church alone, and in the winter she tells us that the cold hurts her foot. She´s single and lives with her mother, and despite the obvious difficulties that she´s had in her life I imagine in school as a child as well, she´s a really happy and positive person. I´m so happy to see that now she´s receiving the blessings of the gospel. She deserves it. Also, it´s pretty cool to say that I got to baptize my first investigator ever!

The baptismal service was really hard. Our ward mission leader was going to plan it but as usual he didn´t do anything. We had to plan the whole baptismal service and prepare everything within about 3 hours of the service. It was quite frustrating especially when just before the service a sister complained against us and called us disobedient because we forgot to invite the president of the relief society in the rush of things. It was frustrating because we basically had to take all of the blame for anything that didn´t go perfectly smooth because of someone else´s mistake. Also, we managed to have a meeting with the ward mission leader that the bishop attended too. We were really happy because with the bishop, who´s really good, we were actually able to get stuff done for once instead of talking and receiving "counsel" from the ward mission leader. It was a little bit frustrating with that too when he criticized us of not teaching to people´s hearts and criticized us for not motivating people. I think we understood a little bit in that moment how it feels to be a bishop sometimes when he works so hard to make sure everything goes perfectly, but the people complain and don´t do their part. Let´s just say that Elder Navarrete and I were biting our tongues a lot to try and keep things sweet. We decided that it´s better if someone has a problem with us than with their leaders or with other members of the ward. The most important thing is that the Lord is happy with us. If we receive criticism from some people in order to strengthen the ward, it´s ok.

Yesterday Ximena got confirmed which was awesome, and Elder Navarrete and I had talks. I talked about how God sees us, and about our potential to become like Him. Elder Navarrete talked about Jesus Christ and how we can give a gift to him this Christmas. I don´t think my talk was that great, especially as I was speaking in Spanish and I tried to do it without preparing it word for word, but I´m glad it´s done. Camila, my first baptism, also gave a talk. She had prepared so much and did great!!! We were so happy about that and a lot of the members were really surprised at how fast she progressed. She´s quite shy, and when we were teaching her I was a little bit worried that maybe she wasn´t really ready to be baptized and was just blindly accepting everything we said. I was mistaken! She talked as though she had years as a member of the church! The Bishop assigned her a 5 minute talk about baptism and how it´s been important for her. She talked for almost 15 minutes and touched like every subject of the restoration perfectly and bore a powerful testimony of how she knew that the church was true. I was so happy. One, because it meant I had to talk less in my talk, but more importantly because of how strong she is. She got baptized on December 3, and already gave a talk on December 25. Right now in her Book of Mormon reading she´s in Alma. We are so happy because she´s really going to be, and already has been, a huge pillar of strength for the members in the ward. She´s made Ximena feel more accepted, has integrated herself right into the programs of the church, and I think the Bishop will be thrilled to have someone as strong and willing to work as her. You feel incredible as a missionary when you see that in a convert.

I love being a missionary. Despite the fact that we have challenges, we always have blessings. The Lord always provides. I´ve been so blessed to have such an incredible companion. I think that´s really given me a great start to my mission.

I know the church is true. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. Jesus Christ lives, and He died for us. This gospel is incredible. It´s so simple, but it´s so important.

There´s nothing better than being a missionary. If anyone that reads this has any doubts about going on a mission,  prepare yourself and go. It has strengthened my testimony, my understanding, my conviction, and my dependence on the Saviour so much. Nothing brings greater joy than serving the Lord.

¡Chao!

Elder Blomfield

P.S. thanks for the pictures I just got them!!