Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Trompos and Fardos

October 15, 2014

         Today would have really been horrible had it not been p-day.  ALL of our citas fell through and we just didn’t have much success.  P-day was a blast though.  It started with my miracle for the day: 
Miracle 23: After 3 ½ weeks we finally got a cell phone!

      Today we bought the Chilean national game, the trompo which is a spinning top.  It is tough to learn to play!  We also climbed Cerro Negro and got the grand view of our sector and it was very cool.  I had a good time just having some good old fashioned fun with wholesome recreational activities.  We also found some ruins that are now used as a crack den.
The happy climber.

This is one very wise senior companion to find this activity for a restless greenie.

A crack den with character
October 16, 2014

         We had a great day today. We had really good 3 lessons and it made up for yesterday.  Our best lesson was with the V. family. 
         Miracle #24: The father of this family participated for the first time, even saying the closing prayer.  The 11 year old son said that he wanted to serve a mission and bore the most beautiful testimony that I have ever heard coming from a kid…EVER.
         I was so happy after that lesson that I realized that I need to push through the bad days for days like today.
October 17, 2014
         I have decided that I never want to open an area again.  Having 6 lessons planned and only teaching 1 is the worst.  To top it all off we got our brand new cell phone taken away.  Apparently what happened is that instead of ordering sim cards for a new line/phone, they ordered a replacement for an existing line meaning when ours was activated, other lines shut down.  So the mission office has to figure things out once again. 

         Not much happened of note today except we decided to just contact by the spirit and I had my miracle: 
         Miracle #25: We felt prompted to talk to a lady and she said that she had been watching us talking to her uncle and was hoping that we would talk to her.  She had a lot of questions for us.

This was a tree that we pushed over and broke up... super hard and fun
October 18, 2014
         Today was so inefficient and I was disappointed with us.  The best thing that happened today was that we spent the morning doing service that was fun for me (because it was physical) and it was rewarding to accomplish. 

         After that we studied more and left to a cita that fell through.  We came back and basically just talked about how I am feeling about my mission.  I feel very restricted right now because my personality wants to do and accomplish so much more than I am able or allowed to do right now.  I realize that I have been called here for a reason and that I will be able to help someone here, but a lot of the things that I want to try are “not recommended.” 

         I suppose that my miracle of the day was during the only good part of the day.  We were talking to the owner of an Almacen (restaurant) and we just finished and headed to an appointment.  The cita fell through and literally 20 minutes later we passed by the same Almacen which was crawling with police. 
         Miracle #26: Leaving the Almacen right before an armed robbery took place.  (Secretly I wished I had been there)

October 19, 2014
         Today was rough because I had a fever last night and only slept for about 4 hours.  My body is just exhausted today.  We had our crazy miracle happen on top of setting a new attendance record in church (116).  We had the mother of one of our investigators come to church.  We had some good lessons even though I have been feeling drained and achy all day.

         Miracle #27: Hermana F. came to church even though she told us that she wouldn’t come.
 October 20. 2014
         Today’s tracting day started with the miracle of the day and then fell a little flat until the end. 

          Miracle #28: A man called us over in English to talk to us.  He asked us “Why the people of Israel were the chosen people?” Elder Soulier responded that, “It was because that was what God wanted, he chose them.” This man then told us that he has once spoken with an area seventy who told him that he could know if a missionary was guided by the spirit by asking him this question.  He was told that such a missionary would respond the exact way that Elder Soulier did.  It was absolutely incredible.

So we learned that this man is studying English, French, and cooking.  His dream is to be a professional chef in the states.  He was a really interesting person and we wanted to set up a cita with him, but unfortunately he lives in another area. 

         We did have another really great experience with our young investigator.  We taught a family home evening lesson and the subject of the priesthood came up.  I leaned over and told this young man that he would soon be old enough to receive the Aaronic priesthood.  His response was the best!  He turned to me with this look of wonder and excitement and asked if he really could.  I have never every met a youth with as strong of a desire to do the right thing as this boy has.  I can palpably feel the love that the Lord has for him and how happy He is with the desires of his young heart. Every time I see this boy he says that I am his best friend.  All of the sucky hours and days are worth being able to see this boy’s glowing happiness when he talks about Christ and bears his testimony.  I am starting to think that he could be the pillar of faith in his family.

Bus stop contacting
October 21, 2014
         I had a good day today.  We did horrible morning bus stop contacts, and then had district meeting where my miracle of the day happened. 

        Miracle #29: I got my birthday package 7 weeks early!!!!! It made me ridiculously happy and trunky at the same time. 
We actually really did have a miracle:
        Miracle #30: One of our investigators that struggle to understand concepts, understood all of our lesson, and our young boy that I wrote about yesterday is reading 10 CHAPTERS of the Book of Mormon every single day!!! I was blown away.
        I am finally able to understand enough Spanish to converse with people who talk clearly.  One major problem remains:  I have always had a good accent when speaking Spanish which makes people think that I know more than I do.  Thus, most people overestimate my abilities and start speaking faster when they hear me respond to them….then they completely lose me. I'm getting along great and the reality is that even though almost every day sucks, I'm still happy for 99% of the time.
Happy Early Birthday Elder Colvin
Cinder block houses might have worked better for Levi growing up.
        Tomorrow for p-day, we are going to buy a fardo, which is a 45 kg. sack of TIES.  I am pretty pumped up to get some cheap, horrible ties and be able to give it to members and investigators. 
I miss this work horse of a strong man...
That is 100 pounds on my back for over a mile!
I think that 100 pounds was worth it!
My cheap anti-theft wallet

Friday, October 17, 2014

Miracles and the Murder Field

Elder Colvin at the Santiago Chile Temple
October 8, 2014

      Today we went to the temple which was another thing that was way harder in Spanish than English.  I am glad that I spent so much time in the temple before my mission so that at least I knew what was going on. The temple was really nice and I realize that I am very lucky to be able to go while on my mission.  Neither one of my missionary siblings in Brazil have been able to go to the temple during their missions.  I am grateful every day for the awesome mission that I get to serve in.

Elder Colvin, Elder Soulier
     Other than the temple, we kind-of squandered our p-day with shopping and eating, which was fun for me.  I got some cool incense stuff and a mate bowl. Other than that, we had an extremely uneventful day teaching just 1 lesson and not contacting very many people.

My personalized mate bowl

October 9, 2014
     This morning was interesting!  We had a cita at 10:00 and on the way there we saw a drunk man relieving himself on the side of a major road.  I am sure that happens in major U.S. cities all the time, but not in Spokane. When we got to the cita it turned out that our investigator had been in an accident that left him with severe amnesia and short term memory loss. Things just continued along those lines until at the end of a long day, my companion suggested that we should make a list of miracles that have happened in the first 17 days of my mission (my own personal 17 miracles):

1.  Finding inactive member who wants to quit smoking and return to church.
2.  Having a young woman stop us and ask us for help, giving us a golden service opportunity.
3.  Knocking doors and actually finding an entire family to teach.
4.  Coming across a member who was in need of a blessing.
5.  Getting record attendance the first Sunday of my mission (106).
6.  Holding a successful Capilla Abierta (open house) with 45 nonmembers.
7.  Finding a man who wants to hear the lessons, is willing to change, and watching him change every day for the better.
8.  Having three investigators go to General Conference.
9.  Running out to find an old woman on the street needing words of comfort.
10. A member came up to us and asked up to contact a relative who was asking to be baptized.
11. A woman in need of help was receptive to our message.
12. An investigator from 5 years ago, wants to take the lessons again.
13. When we went shopping yesterday, we found less active members to work with.
14.  We talked to a member who had extra diapers, which one of our investigators desperately needs.
15.  We found another family ready to receive the gospel message.
16.  Meeting one of our new investigators at the burned out chapel by chance.
17.  Getting a great referral at lunch for a woman.

October 10, 2014

     I’ve decided to look for at least 1 miracle a day to help me have a positive outlook on my service and so far it has really helped!  This morning, we painted with a really terrible quality paint. it should have been frustrating, but it was actually fun!  After doing service, we studied for a while, had lunch, and then went to a lesson with my miracle of the day: 

     Miracle #18 -We had a lesson with M., and she accepted our invitation to be baptized.

We also taught our progressing inactive family and they really are doing great.  They committed to come to church this weekend.
October 11, 2014

     Today was really tough with lots of failed citas and rejection, but for some reason it didn’t bother me.  We went on splits with the youth of the ward because they were having a mini CCM activity.  A young 12 year old girl (who looked 17) went teaching and contacting with us.  I guess that is common here in Chile to mature quickly.  They attribute it to what they call “superpollo” which is chickens that have been fed growth hormones. I don’t know if that is true and actually causes early development or not, but it makes for an interesting story. Another interesting story is that I found this killer speaker (for $5.00) that can play off of a thumb drive and is really good.  I am so excited about this find! My miracle for the day:

Miracle #19 - A man on the street walked up to us and GAVE us his phone number and asked us to call him to set up an appointment so that we could teach him the gospel.

October 12, 2014

     Today was a slow day.  Church in Spanish is hard for me.  When I am teaching or contacting, I can understand about 80% of what is said. But, I am much more lost in church.  Most of our appointments fell through today...again.

     Miracle #20 - Three of our investigators came to church as they said they would and they stayed for all three hours.

October 13, 2014
     Today was zone conference.  My companion was very excited and enthusiastic about going to this meeting, but his enthusiasm was not contagious.  I am sure that I will have less disdain for meetings once I can understand the language better.  Something that is bugging me is the fact that I have been in the field for 3 weeks and we still don’t have a phone as a companionship. Elder S. keeps saying that it is a blessing, but I am pretty sure it just plain sucks.  We can never verify our citas and they fall through all the time.  It just seems so inefficient to me.

      We had a lesson with a really cool 14 year old kid today.  He was my first door contact that actually resulted in a successful followup cita!  The funniest thing that happened today was that during this lesson, my companion looked at me with a weird expression and realized that I was missing something really important….not my nametag, not my bag…I was missing my tie!  I don’t know if our investigator noticed, but man was I embarrassed! The rest of the day we had really good contacting opportunities.

      My miracle today has to do with service opportunities.  We are always asking people if we can serve them in any way and no one ever gives us anything to do. Those of you who know me, know that I can't stand having nothing to do. But today:

      Miracle #21 – We knocked on a random door and it happened to be the president of the home owner's association in a nice neighborhood here and he had service work for us to do!

 October 14, 2014
     Today was a very weird day.  Something really crazy happened at the bus stop today during our morning contacts (almost my miracle for the day.) I was looking for a word in the Book of Mormon and I dropped a restoration pamphlet on the ground. A teenaged boy just straight up asked us if he could have the pamphlet to read.

     After our morning contacts, we had our study time, which was really good today. Then we went out to teach some more.  Our lesson with M. was very focused in on her needs so it turned out to be one of our better lessons.  We then had a few lessons and references fall through before going to teach H. the word of wisdom.  I am not sure how much he understood so we will probably have to reteach that lesson.  We then had a really cool night of contacts and just chance meetings that led to my miracle of the day.  
      So to put this in context, there is a field here that is pretty sketchy at night.  There is a fairly decent risk of being robbed, and I have been told that people have been killed there. I started calling it “murder field” and the name stuck. So we were cutting through murder field when we saw a pretty sketchy looking man walking towards us.  I got all set up for a showdown and as he got closer to us he whipped out his hand, and for a second I thought he must have had a knife or something. I went to smack his hand (TKD style) when I realized he was just holding out his hand to shake.  We started to talk to him and he told us that he had been taking the discussions but had to stop when he got really sick from ecoli.  His name was O. and at first we were all confused by what he was saying to us until we realized that he was speaking English. He lived in Canada for a while because his father is a gringo. He speaks English about as well as I speak Spanish.  Actually, I am feeling much better about my Spanish.  I am able to hold a basic conversation with just about anyone now. 

     Miracle #22 – Not getting robbed in murder field and instead getting a solid contact.  

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A legit p-day at the museum

My zone at the Museum of Science
Use every opportunity as a teaching opportunity!
October 1, 2014

          Today was mostly a play day at the interactive museum.  It was really fun and the earthquake simulator was pretty legit (8.0 on the Richter scale)!  Afterwards, we shopped, emailed, and hit the streets.  For some reason, I could speak and understand everything today.  My companion says that it is because the area where we were was educated and they spoke grammatically correct Spanish, not flaite.  I had hoped that it was because I was starting to get it, but he is probably right.

October 3, 2014

         I forgot my journal on my splits the other day.  What I learned on splits was that I am super grateful for my companion.  I didn’t get along too well with the district leader because his teaching style is so crazy different.  Afterwards he chewed me out pretty good and it reminded me of what Garrison warned me about. It is gonna be tough for me to deal with that kind of criticism for the next 2 years, but I will live. 

         I did insanity workout this morning and I love it!  If I have any way to get insanity, I am going to get it for sure.  I want to do it for the rest of my mission. 

         The rest of my day absolutely sucked until the end.  Practically all of our appointments fell through and the only great part was the very end of the day when we went to visit a family that in the past has been a time waster.  But this time, they had completed their assignment and the girl really understood everything that we wonted her to learn.  That is super RARE here.  We had a phenomenal lesson with her and she is coming to General conference with us, and one of our other investigators.  H. cleaned up all of the inappropriate posters in his house.  He really wants to change.  We have had some miracles, but today was mostly junk and it was the first of what I am sure will be many times when going home is on my mind.

October 4, 2014

         Today was one of the worst general conferences that I have ever had.  The stake president told the brand new guys that we had to watch conference in Spanish…. I FRIED!  After the first session, we had lunch and started our fast; my mind was sufficiently recovered to endure another session.  We went to an appointment that naturally fell through, and so we contacted and I had enough energy to talk to people and start a contact.  Then it was Priesthood session and I lasted through about ½ of it and then, I WAS DONE.  I got practically nothing from any of the talks today and it simply frustrated me.  On top of that, my companion got a little indignant when I bought to his attention the lack of study we do.  Another elder told me that I needed to use all of the time that I am supposed to use, in order to get the most out of this training period.  I have to get over myself. I want to just let go of all my pride and be humble like Garrison.  But, I don’t know how to do it.  

October 5, 2014

         Today was both good and bad.  I had to watch the sessions in Spanish, which sucked a ton. On the bright side, we had 3 people come to the first session, and one of them decided to come back to the second session as well.  I hope that he genuinely wants to change, but I do know that he likes the feelings and having people around him who care.  I know that he can progress and I am super hopeful for him. 

         Today was a withdrawal day for me from climbing, not that I usually climb on Sundays.  There was just so much sitting down time, and I need something more physical to exhaust me. 

         We had some great contacts on the streets today with follow-up appointments (citas) for tomorrow.  A cita is really us just planning on going somewhere in particular on the off chance that a person will actually be there.

October 6, 2014

         We had a pretty good day today!  We finally got all of our studies in today.  When we went to lunch I didn’t understand hardly anything so that was annoying especially when they made fun of the fact that I couldn’t understand.  I just ignored them and ate the delicious food.  Not too much else happened today, but the best part was seeing the crack-heads high out of their minds and just going crazy smacking shovels into the concrete.  A drug deal happened today right in front of us, we saw several dogs that looked like they were decaying, and one dead dog in the trash.  I have to say that the most awkward thing I saw today was a woman who was clearly lactating like crazy.

October 7, 2014

         Today was practically 100% FAIL.  All of our citas fell through and we contacted all day long.  ALL DAY.  We helped a guy push his car, tried not to argue with evangelicals, saw a dog get hit by a car, and saw a cat get hit by a car.  At the very end of the day we were walking into our house when and old lady walked by. I was closing the gate to let her pass when I felt impressed to go and talk to her.  I followed the prompting and found out that she was really missing her son who was dead.  We gave her a plan of salvation pamphlet and we are planning on visiting with her this Sunday. I pray that she was one of today’s miracles.  The other miracle was finding a lady with a handicapped daughter who wants to learn more later this week.  Elder Soulier said that it doesn’t get harder than it did today, so for that I am grateful!  I think that the best part of today is that tomorrow is P-day!

         As I look back on this week, if I am completely honest, there was at least one time each day where I just wanted to go back home (except for p-day).  Some days I even wished I was home.  I think that time drags as much as it does because I am still struggling to understand even the most basic of conversation.  It kills me when the other missionaries are talking in Spanish, laughing, telling stories, and I can’t understand any of it.  People keep telling me how well I talk and teach, but I genuinely just feel completely useless.  The best time of the day for me is when I get up and read the scriptures for about an hour and a half.  I just feel at peace.  I really wish I had realized how awesome that time could be in my life when I was younger.  It probably doesn’t hurt that the scriptures are just about the only things that I can understand and that I can find entertainment in.  I love the mission, but it is tougher than I was mentally prepared for.  I will be just fine though.  I love you all so much!

Elder Colvin

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

First full week in Chile

September 24, 2014
         I am not understanding much more and it is definitely holding me back. We talked to some cool people, the coolest of who was a less active man who wants to stop smoking and come back to church. I am feeling the spirit while I teach and learning to follow the promptings better.

September 25, 2014

         Today was awesome! We had tons of craziness happen!  The first thing was a lady who just stopped us on the street and asked for our help.  She heard that the missionaries help anyone who needs it. She asked us to help them build a house.  The coolest ting is that we are going to actually get to do it!  We contacted most of the day, doing door to door. We had 4 successful contacts in a row.  We were knocking on some doors when we found a sister who needed a blessing, but I didn’t know how to do it in Spanish.  It made me want to learn and prepare myself better. The beautiful thing about white washing and area is that you know nothing and all your time is spent contacting and finding people.

         I had one of the hotdogs that Parker told me about and I have to say..not that impressed.  My companion asked if I liked them and he was so enthusiastic that I had to say yes.  They aren’t that good to be honest.

September 26, 2014

         Today was pretty fun.  We got up and went contacting at the bus stops and the 4th person we taught, my freaking companion left me alone to talk to a Chileno!! I was soooooo lost, but I was still able to give the woman a pamphlet and it was good.

         Tonight, we ran into a less active family and had a good lesson with them.  One of the daughters is a little snakey, but whatever.  We taught another woman tonight and she is excited about our message. This is the second time that I have taught this woman and it is exciting to go back and teach someone who actually wants to hear our message.

         The elders in our house are the BEST guys.  We have 6 here. Me, my companion – Elder Soulier, Elder Whitmore, Elder Chavez (who knows 0 english), Elder Velasquez (who knows a little English), and his companion Elder Kimball.  The last two elders are the zone leaders.  They are the freaking best leaders and I am so lucky to be in the same house with them.  We have a zone activity the next p-day and we are going to an interactive museum together.

September 27, 2014

         We were able to teach 4 lessons today and I am starting to understand more and participate a little.  We had a really great lesson with a less active family.  I love to feel the spirit as we teach and I love working here!

September 28, 2014

         Today was the first Sunday here in Chile.  I was NOT able understand ANYONE at all!  Nothing.  Nada.  Haha.  On top of that, I was dead tired after working so hard all week.  I may or may not have dozed off in church.  We had an open house at the church and it was AWESOME.  Elder Soulier and I taught “the baptism” room all night (4 hours) and we had some great experience.  The most fun thing was getting to know the youth of the ward.  I already have a good rapor with the youth and I am doing well with the adults too.  I love it here and this has been the best possible first week I could have ever imagined.

September 29, 2014

         I had the most awkward lesson EVER.  It was good despite being awkward.  We walked in the house and the first thing that I saw  was straight up porn on the wall.  I admit to freaking out a little on the inside, but remained calm and turned to face the other wall where I found, MORE porn….gahhhh!!!!  Without freaking out too much, I tried another wall and luckily there was a picture of….JESUS.  Not kidding.  Boy was that weird for me.  As the end of the lesson I straight up told our investigator that he should take the porn down and he agreed to do it.  I felt ridiculously uncomfortable the whole time though (Jesus was making sure that I was looking at him though so I was okay.)

September 30, 2014

         Today was a long day.  I now understand all of the times when Garrison and Taylor would write about long days.  We had a district meeting and that was pretty great despite the fact that it was at least a mile each way of walking.  Then I went on splits with Elder Whitmore and every single appointment fell through.  We walked probably a total of 10 miles today because we just went from reference to reference and failed.  One of the last things that happened was a crazy lady who ranted at us for at least 30 minutes straight.  I wasn’t even trying to talk to her because I could barely understand her.  What I understood was that she left the church 2 years ago because of something that a bishop did.  My companion (Elder W) kept trying to talk to her and kept getting interrupted.  Eventualmente yo le dije, “Herman escuche a me companero por favor.” Finalmente ella cerro su boca.  (sorry, the transcriber does not know how to place accents or enyas.) I was so glad to be done with that.  We then got churrascos and they are like philly cheese steaks with mayo, tomato, and avocado.  It was crazy delicious after a hard day.