Monday, April 27, 2015

Staying put - HOORAH!

A helmet that was made by one of our new people
April 15, 2015
         Today we didn’t do anything for p-day because my ankle was really hurting me in the morning.  I just lounged around reading the scriptures for at least half the day and it was nice.  Other than that, I just realized how unified Elder White and I are and I am so grateful for our companionship. 
Miracle #204: We didn’t have to walk to a single appointment because the bishop was with us all night long.
         The funny part of the day was when the bishop was teaching us ridiculous Chilean expressions.  I think the is going to give me a book that explains all of the Chilean idioms.  My companion and I had fun all day long.  One of the other fun parts of the day might be when I ate 2 spoons full of spicy salsa on a dare…it was kindof nasty to be honest.

April 16, 2015
         Today was like last week; hard, but ultimately rewarding.  We planned for the whole week (which I really hate doing cause our plans never work out) and then we ate lunch.  Following lunch, we went to the church so I could compose an arrangement for the hymns that I have to play in stake conference on Sunday.  It took me an hour, but I am proud (in a good way) of how it turned out.  Other than that, we just contacted and taught a little.
Miracle #205: In just 8 months, I have finished all of the approved reading for a missionary. 
         Today we did a contact where we offered to help a guy pick his weeds.  After he finally let us help him, we were able to chat with him for a bit.  He went into his house for a second and I accidentally kicked a crappy old soccer ball over his fence.  When he came back, I told him what happened and we went to look for the ball, but we couldn’t find it anywhere.  I felt so bad that in 2-5 minutes a junky old ball would get stolen off the streets of Chile. 
April 17, 2015
         Rough day.  Okay really it only ended on a rough note.  We contacted most of the day and we walked a lot.  I am not sure why, but I was irritable today with my comp because he struggles with the language.  But his is an awesome guy in all ways and I am lucky to have his for a companion.
Miracle #206: For the second day in a row a Chilean accepted our offer to help them.  Seriously, this is a big deal here because the Chileans are very independent and stubborn.
         I would say that the fun part of the day was talking to the P. family.  I really like joking with them and they always teach me Chilean ghetto so that I can communicate better.  I really enjoy learning Spanish especially stuff that gringos don’t normally know. 
April 18, 2015
         We started off today by going o clean our disgustingly filthy chapel in the morning. I had a fun fight with the floor cleaning machine that no one else could control.  This machine literally just runs all over the place with TONS of power.  I really enjoyed doing what I could to help the ward.  The bad part of the day was going to accompany the choir.  I do not like how the director leads the choir because he is so very grumpy and critical of these people who are sacrificing their night to sing with us.
Miracle #207: We met a lady who was able to help me improve my Spanish accent.
         The funny part of the day was my wicked flatulence this evening.  It just wrecked us and was so very bad that we were both dying of horror and laughter.
         On another note, I am really grateful for who I am becoming on the inside.  I really have developed a sincere love for people and I have a strong desire to serve them.  I have discovered that I have a gift for helping people relax and laugh a bit so that they can forget the hard stuff that they are experiencing just for a few seconds.
Also the mask proudly presented to me by a little kid in our ward...we are not supposed to wear masks, but just had to take this quick photo!
April 19, 2015
         Today was a really really really good stake conference.  We had an area seventy and our mission president give talks.  They were both so good that I was blown away.  I am so blessed to have the mission president that I have.  Every time he talks, it just leaves me wanting to be a better missionary and study more about the gospel.  Today/yesterday was transfer day. 
Miracle #208: I am not getting transferred and neither is Elder White!  President told me that his plans for me were to leave the sector for a fresh start, but  because of my weekly letters to him, he decided to leave us together for another transfer!
         The funny part of the day was when Elder White told me about the conversation that he had last night with Elder Johnson who is leaving.  Eldr Johnson asked him, “Was it hard to leave your last sector?” Elder White told him no, not really.  Then Elder Johnson said, “ Funny, cause that’s not what your journal said.”  WHAT???!!! Yep, Elder J. has been reading my comp’s journal and I thought it was hilarious until I realized that meant that he has also probably been reading my journal too.  Oh well.
April 20. 2015
         Well today was pretty good.  We had a good day really working to fix our abysmal area book.  The elders before me didn’t write anything in the book.  I finally got up the energy to buckle down and work on it.  We also had an incredibly useful lesson with one of the coolest families in our ward. Basically they told s all of the things that we need to do to help change the ward and get it moving in a positive direction.  They are completely ready to help and support us in our efforts to work with the ward.
Miracle #209: We got to leave district meeting early to go back to lunch.
         The funny part of the day was going practices with the 6 other missionaries.  They didn’t want to do the practices, so my companion and I volunteered and we had such fun making up really hard people to teach.  In one scenario I was a 15 year old mother of 2 whose husband was an evangelical preacher. 
The size of the pizza bought by someone from E White's old sector..... and he bought 2!
April 21, 2015
         Today was a chill day.  We did some work in the chapel this morning and then just had another tiny lunch in our house before leaving to work.  We went to the hospital to give a blessing to a dying old woman.  It was really sad to see all of the old people suffering in silence.
Miracle #210: The woman who asked us to the hospital knows another less active member we have been working with who is also very sick.  I love serving people on my mission.  I cannot express how good I feel doing this work.
         The funny part of the day was when I was in the hospital visiting people and I kept smelling poop.  I ignored it, but then it was in EVERY room.  About 2 hours later I realized that I had poop on my shoes  and it was my own poopy shoes that I had been smelling all afternoon!  (not surprising since there are stay dogs everywhere in the streets.) 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Started slow but finished strong!

we poured this acidic something or other down our drains in an attempt to banish the horrible odor in our house
April 8, 2015
         Today was another relaxed p-day.  We practically just cleaned the house all day long.  (Working together if you can believe that!)  I am really grateful for p-days like today.  The best part of the day was figuringout a workout routine that I can do with a bum ankle.  It consists of a total of 300 pushups, 100 pullups and p-90X ab ripper-X.  It’s a pretty killer routine and actually gets out all of my pent up energy!
Miracle #197: I still got my personal study in early this morning even though the other elders were chatty Cathies. 
My study desk.
         I laughed so much today with Elder White.  I am having a blast with him so far and we have a lot of companion unity.  I am listening to his advice and respecting him, and he is doing the same thing to me. I am feeling like I am finally progressing again and overcoming some of the personal challenges I have had in the mission such as: not being able to take a joke that is played on me, talking too much in lessons, and always wanting to be in charge.  I need to continue to practice and get better and better every day.  I am really learning to love absolutely everyone and I feel like I am doing a TON better in making progress towards my personal goals. This is an illustration to me of how important the right companion is in order for us to progress eternally. 
April 9, 2015
         Today was a lot of contacting with a little bit of success.  All of our appointments fell through again, so we walked and walked today. A LOT!  Seriously, by the end of the day, when I stopped walking, my ankle felt like it was on fire.  More accurately, it was like hot blood was filling my leg to the point that it would burst.  Anyways, I am still able to work so I shouldn’t whine. 
         The most worthwhile part of today was going to the hospital with our bishop to visit one of the sick less active members we contacted a while ago.
Miracle #198:  We found someone who speaks English 100%.  They learned to speak while studying in University.  We had a really fun time talking with her.
         Today we met an interesting old man who claimed to be 153 years old and an apache descendent of Geronimo.  Otherwise, it was just a slow day full of excuses and rejection.  Some of the Chilean excuses for not listening to us are a real trip.  For example: 1. I am busy (sitting in a chair) 2. I’m cooking (in the early afternoon) 3. I am washing the baby right now. 4.We are Catholic 5. I’s stuck in the house (to which I respond, “Oh my gosh, are you okay?  How long have you been trapped in there?”)  6. I’m working (see #1).  The thing is about most of these excuses is that we can see them watching TV right before they answer their door. 
This was a really fun contacting activity we did on a street corner. We had poster board of a pamphlet called 3 ways to be a happier family.  We were talking to everyone who passed about the family and asking if we could pass by and give them a pamphlet.
 April 12, 2015
         Today was a little rough because of the fact that I was fasting and I could not take ibuprofen for my ankle.  All through church, I was in pain and grumpy from fasting.  On top of that, Elder Chavez and Elder Johnson picked the more convenient lunch for themselves so we had to walk farther.  Ughh!  I just was happy after we had something to eat!
         We worked hard, but then we had to go to choir practice where I played the piano accompaniment.  Afterwards we went to a family home evening where we did the pushup atonement lesson.  I did around 250 total pushups and it went well.
Miracle #210: The choir that we helped actually sounded good!  Normally Chilean choirs sound about like a primary choir. 
          The really funny/crazy story of the day was a dream that the bishop had about me.  Yeah, weird that he is dreaming about me, but here in South America people place a lot of stock in dreams and the power of revelation through dreams.  First of all I should tell you that the Bishop was really excited to talk to me, and asked me if my first name was Aaron?  What?  No, I told him.  Normally we are told to not tell people our first names so that they will call us by our title of “Elder”.   I could see that he was visibly disappointed.  Then he told me that he thought he had a special dream about me, but that it just must have been a crazy dream.  So naturally I was curious and asked him to tell me his dream.   Basically he was wandering in a mist of darkness and was desperately calling my name trying to find me. He kept shouting “Elder Colvin” repeatedly as he searched for me in the mist.  Someone he didn’t know approached him and asked him who he was looking for.  He said, “Elder Colvin.”  The man told him that he needed to call me by my name.  The bishop told the man that is what he called me – Elder Colvin.  Then the man counseled him to call me by my first name.  “But, I don’t know it, “ replied the Bishop.  The man then told the bishop that I was named after the name of the lesser priesthood and then he left and the dream ended. When the Bishop told me his dream I was blown away, then I told him what my first name was – LEVI, which is another name of the lesser priesthood – the Aaronic or the Levitical priesthood.  Then we were both blown away. Crazy cool right??  Told you that I have a special connection with this Bishop!
April 13, 2015
         Today was just a great start to the week.  We had a really tough week last week work wise, but today just got me excited for the week ahead.  We had some good lessons and found some really good contacts.  Today started with morning contacts then we went to San Bernardo where I officially became Chilean by getting my carnet.  I also bought an ankle brace that allowed me to stop using the orthopedic boot that was killing me.  The brace has been the BEST!  I walk way better ad the pressure helps a lot with the pain.
my life-saver of an ankle brace.... its a little annoying but totally worth it
Miracle #202: In the morning I started contacting a young man, but the bus came before I could make any followup plans with him. Later on in the day, we were walking along and I decided to knock a door and it was his door, and he seems interested!
         A funny part of the day had to be that for some odd reason Elder White was struggling today, but it was really a fun day in general. 
April 14, 2015
         Well today was another good day.  We started with a great district meeting where we talked about the importance of the Book of Mormon in  missionary work.  I really liked the lesson and it helped me to re-focus myself on what I am doing here as a missionary.  After that, we jumped into the day and had another great day of work. 
Miracle #203: Today was the first day in this sector where we were fed lots of really good food.
         The funniest part of today was when Elder White had crazy hiccupping fits that lasted over 2 hours.  In the first lesson he started hiccupping during the prayer that I was giving and admittedly I had a hard time not laughing about that.  Then in the next lesson he was asked to give the prayer and hiccupped all the way through it. 
         The worst part of the day was once again having to have a correlation meeting with our ward mission leader.  He ALWAYS complains about how the other ward members don’t do anything.  I just hate judgmental gossiping so I have to shut my mouth whenever he opens his.  I just want to work hard and try to NOT complain which is ironic since I am complaining right now.
my mad card throwing skills (that's the second story)
what we like to do to eggs when we get bored

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

A GREAT week...finally

April 3, 2015
          Today was fun! I basically decided I was going to work all day no matter what.  I left in the morning with just my normal shoe and I was limping BADLY and basically it was just basically a really bad idea.  I walked so slowly and suffered a bit while contacting.  After returning to the house I left on divisions with Elder Chavez.  We walked a lot and when the appointment fell through we made arrangements to pick up a boot for my ankle from the mission office.
Miracle #12: The bishop was able to take us to the office to get the boot and not I can walk with not too much trouble at all.
         I had the energy to work until the end of the day, but the funny par of the day was when I took off my boot and sock and saw my foot.  The swelling has actually improved a lot but the whole foot and ankle is horribly bruised.  It looks nasty, but it doesn’t hurt all that badly.  Mom told me that this would happen, so I am not worried about it.
April 4, 2015
         Today was awesome!  This General conference is SO MUCH BETTER that the last one, probably because I can understand what is being said.  I loved this conference so much!  It is motivating me to be a better missionary.
Miracle #193: Elder White motivates me to do all kinds of good things.  We contacted in between meetings and we saw a bunch of real miracles in finding people to teach and visit in the future.
         The funny part of the day was when I asked Elder Chavez what his conference questions were and he said that he wanted to find out if he should get married soon after his mission.  Then the entire first session talked about marriage.  I teased him, “this must be your answer man!”
April 5, 2015
         Today was weird.  I was really tired in general conference but in spite of that, I still learned quite a bit!  The best talk of today was the talk given by Elder Holland about our older brother saving us even when we send him away.  I loved that talk!  I also love the talk given by the Chilean general authority because he talked way too fast and I couldn’t help but think “wow the translators have got to be suffering right now!”  For the rest of the day we ended up contacting and it was quite fun despite the fact that my foot was hurting a bit.
Miracle #194  I was able to walk without my boot today and without pain.  It seems like my ankle is healing very rapidly, much faster than expected.
         The fun part of the day was either practicing my form with Elder Chavez, or getting invited to snort cocaine by one of our street contacts today.  Really, do I look like I snort cocaine?
April 6, 2015
         Today was rough, but only because it was a weird day, not because anything really bad happened.  The best part of the day was during lunch with a family in the ward who is really funny.  They kept threatening to call the mission president and tell him how badly my ankle is injured. I kept reassuring them that I was fine and it was healing just fine.  But it looks so gnarly that anyone who sees it is shocked. I really don’t care if they call the president or not, but I am not planning on bugging him about it.  I like that family a lot because we always laugh and have fun at their house.
Miracle #195: For the first time, I resisted the delicious Chilean bread at lunch…this requires super powers.
         I have a lot of fun with my companion every day. He is a good Southern Utah guy from Beaver.  I can just be myself around him and he doesn’t belittle or demean me.  He just laughs along with me.  I love working with him.
April 7, 2015
         Today was a pretty long day, but it was 90% self-inflicted.  Last night we stayed up late just talking and getting to know each other better.  We are both a little tired today as a result.  There was basically no one home today so even when we contacted, we didn’t find anyone.  We did get to know a few of the members better though.
Miracle # 196:  We dropped by a less-active family and there was ont of their aunts there who is less active and she asked us if we would regularly visit her too.
         There was also just a cool spiritually guided moment today that happened after an appointment fell through and I was thinking about my plan B.  It came to my mind that I should go back to a member’s home that we tried to contact earlier in the day.  Turned out that they had a flood and lost power and we were able to help them out.  It is cool to have those spirit guided moments because they help to remind me that I am in the right place doing the right thing at the right time.
         I am feeling pretty good about how my ankle is healing.  I basically could walk without the boot on and without pain if the swelling was just a little bit less than it is.  My shoe cuts into my fat swollen foot still.  I am planning to buy an athletic ankle brace and transition over to that sometime this week.  I am feeling pretty blessed to have healed so quickly!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Snap, Crack, and POP

March 25, 2015
         Elder C. is soooo tough.  He got so angry with me that he almost punched me in the face and he destroyed the kitchen.  He pushes and pushes and pushes all of my buttons and I occasionally find myself goaded by his taunts, for example when he called me a very foul word in Spanish.  I almost hit him then, but I didn’t.  He also makes fun of me when I pray to ask God for help with my anger.  I want to change so badly, but this situation is not helping me.
Miracle #183: Elder Johnson showed me an article called “Upon the Top of the Waters” that applies to my situation right now perfectly.
         The funny(not) part of the day was when I ended my computer time early so as to be able to end p-day on time.  I then had to wait an additional 20 minutes for my companion to finish.  Then we had no fun contacting with a very angry, unrepentant, and unforgiving Elder C.
March 26, 2015
         Today was a great day even though Elder C. was trying to irritate me.  To be fair, I realized today that I did a little bit of retaliation which is just really dumb and immature.  But, I recognized when I was doing it (a big step for me) and I apologized right away.  What is really the most frustrating is that when I am sincerely apologetic, he says, “ oh, it’s okay, I am used to your pride making you angry. You’re never going to change.”
Miracle #184: (not really a miracle) One of our investigators turned out to be the mother of one of the less active members we are working with.
         The fun part of the day was talking with a member who had to return from his mission early.  He loves speaking in English and he is pretty good. 
         Most of the lessons today were taught solo by Elder C.  He starts talking and talks and talks and talks, and then it is time to go.  
March 27, 2015
         Today was rough with the companionship.  I just kept my mouth shut all morning and I am starting to see a lot more of my own faults and weaknesses through looking at my companion. I am going to do my best to change and when I mention that I really want to do better, he says, “Well I wish that I could see the change, but I can’t.”
Miracle #185: We met a girl who was crying in the street so I contacted her and it turns out that she lives right above our newly baptized member.  She has a really big desire to learn.
         The fun part of the day was going to mutual because we are the “secretaries”.  Basically it was fun to hang out with the bishop who is very much like Bishop McLaws.  We are already very good friends.  We have a great connection. Something really funny is that the Bishop does not like it when the members use the informal “tu” form of verbs when speaking to the missionaries, but he struggles to NOT talk to me using the tu form.  It makes me laugh, and I need to laugh.
Our great Bishop!
March 28, 2015
         Today was an interesting day.  We started to do morning contacts really early - 7:00 in the morning. My companion got up at 6:00 to get ready which meant that I also got up at 6:00. But then after the morning contacts, and during my personal studies, I just struggled a LOT to stay awake.  Usually I don’t have any problems staying awake, but I guess that extra 30 minutes early just wiped me out.  Well that set of my companion and he got really really pissed at me.  He just ripped me apart. He was worried that I was going to make him late for the work day.  Well we left on time at 11:00, returned for lunch at 1:00.  Then when we were supposed to leave again at 2:00 Elder C. wasn’t ready to go.  I sat silently at the door until 3:45 ready to go and waiting for him.
Miracle #186: I am finally starting to overcome my pride to the point that I can see my own faults and errors, and I recognize the role that I play in interpersonal conflicts.
         The fun part of the day was this evening when we had to come back to the house at 6:00 because today and tomorrow are days of protest in Chile.  The bishop came over and we all hung out for 3 hours just eating TONS of food and playing games.  I am a very loud person and that is one thing that I am trying to work on.  It was hard to not be loud in this situation.  I really like the bishop because he has a great sense of humor.

March 29, 2015
         Well I am pretty sure that I am getting a new companion in an emergency transfer today.  We had another falling out and this time it was me who blew up (actually I blew up in response to my companion blowing up). It started when we came back from church and I wanted to study so I asked my comp if he would change his music to a more reverent choice.  He refused, so I asked him to turn the volume down.  He refused again so I paused his music for him and then he got very upset.  At that same time, I accidentally placed my lunch plate (with greasy chicken) on a portion of his desk and got up to get some water.  When he saw that he wigged out and threw the plate so it landed upsided down on my scriptures and left it there.  When I returned to the room, I saw that my scriptures were ruined by the chicken and that just flipped a switch in me.  I basically threw a childish fit (that did not involve hitting him.)  Then he got mad and literally destroyed my desk.  EVERYTHING was ripped out, broken, and thrown.  He ruined one of my shirts and started getting in my face. Still I did not hit him (which is the real miracle of the day,) but I did yell, and YELL, and YELL.  I am not proud of that fact and I feel so so so bad about it because it was a huge step backwards for me in my progress.
Miracle #187: Elder Chavez really helped me to feel better about the situation and see that I can move past this.
         The absolute best part of the day was when we were doing contacts and Elder C. was standing there not paying any attention like he always does.  A street dog came up and sniffed his leg and then decided that Elder C. was his territory.  Yep a dog took and massive pee on my comp’s leg and he didn’t even notice it.
March 30, 2015
         Our last day together.  After I wrote in my journal yesterday, we got a call telling us that Elder C. was leaving and I would get a new companion.  Basically we have spent the entire day today having Elder Castro say goodbye to people.  He spent 2 HOURS in one members house saying goodbye.  It was such a waste of time.  But I didn’t say a word…I just had to survive one more day. Elder Castro actually told me that he was most upset about leaving because I was “killing” all of his investigators and that my only purpose on the mission was to “kill” people.  I just kept my cool.
Miracle #188: This morning after 10 hard rejections, we found 2 solid and friendly future investigators.  This taught me a lot about persistence and faith.
         The funny part of the day was visiting a family in the ward who knew immediately why we were having special transfers.  They started consoling me by saying that most people experience at least one “divorce” in their lifetime.
March 31, 2015
         Today was such a great day!  Sometimes you don’t even know how bad things are until they stop being bad.  I got a new companion this morning and it is awesome to be with someone who doesn’t hate me.  He is a gringo named Elder White and I really like him.  We taught an amazing 6 lessons today and we actually worked together and had the spirit with us.  What a difference it makes in teaching when you have unity in your companionship.  I can’t believe how much I missed having the spirit.  Now that the change has been made, I am really very happy that I didn’t try to tough it out any longer with Elder C.  I think that I will have a great time with Elder White.
Miracle #189: We had a contact who started by answering the door grudgingly and was crying.  By the end of the contact, she let us in to share a message with her and she felt much better.
         The funniest part of the day was when my companion asked some random questions to our contacts, like “do you like sweets?”  We just laughed and had a good time working today.
April 1, 2015 – P-DAY
         Today was another good day. …at least most of it was.  In this mission we are allowed to play paintball as a zone, so for the very first time in my whole life, I went paintballing.  The best game was the first dame because I went all “Call of Duty” ghosts on the other team  There was a house in the field and me and my companion sprinted for the house and made it.  I took out soooo many people super stealth-like until I got shot in the back. It was so much fun!!!

Miracle #190: The taxi only charged us half price to go to the internet café and then the bishop picked us up from the café.  
The reason why this is a miracle is that I twisted my ankle really badly in the last game of paintball. I couldn’t even bear any weight on it for about 4 hours.  I can now limp around a little bit on it, but it hurts like the dickens.  I really hope that it is not broken or else I will end up sitting around the office until it heals.  I have decided to just lay low for a couple of days and see what happens.
April 2, 2105
         Well today was quite possibly the longest day of my entire mission so far.  Once again, I had to stay in the house because of my ankle.  It is blown up and black and blue and I am struggling to walk.  We decided to give it one more day before we go to the doctor.  I am really hoping that my ankle is just badly sprained.  Every time I look at it I can’t help think of an obese person and it just makes me laugh. 
Miracle #191: I have been able to rest a lot today which is honestly not a miracle, but it was the only good part of the day.
         I cannot believe how stir crazy I get just sitting around. I am going to leave tomorrow even if it is just for a few hours of hobbling around.  The funny part of the day was just learning all about my companion and his life.  He is a bug guy from Southern Utah who ropes and fights fires.
         In reflecting about this hard week I realize that I didn’t do too hot this week but yeah I think everything will end up fine because I learned a lot about the stuff I need to change from my companionship with Elder Castro. I’m going to be working really hard with my new comp to overcome the things that really were tough about my last companionship.  I’m going to improve myself and never going to have problems again.