Tuesday, June 30, 2015

One step forward, two steps back

One of my favorite meals of fish and eggs on a bed of spinach.
June 17, 2015

            Today was a fun p-day.  We played Risk and Monopoly, both of which I won without cheating (the only way I every won a game against my siblings.)  I don’t usually like those kinds of games, but they are more fun when you don’t lose every time you play them. After the games we emailed our families and then bought food and made our lunch. The best part of the day was when we were working and we met some guys who were doing calisthenics in the park.  It was fun to learn some workouts with them.

Miracle #267 (weak one) I was able to match this very fit guy in repetitions on the calisthenics. 

            The worst part of the day was confronting my companions about some really serious issues that he is having.  The whole house talked to him and he denied that he had a problem.  It left all of us with feeling emotionally drained.  I don’t know what to do about this situation.

June 18, 2015

            Today was a decent day.  The problem from yesterday left some tension in our relationship all day.  Also I was as tired as my companion always is, so we just did not bring energy and the spirit to our lessons today. 

Miracle #268: One of the less active members in our ward, is taking lessons from us and he lent me a great book about the history of the church.

            The best part of the day was going home early to grab our jackets because it is freezing here.  We were leaving to go to more appointments but because the spirit was not with us, I decided to stay at home and talk with my companion.  We talked for a long time and by the end of the evening, I had a lot more love for my companion and I hope to work better with him tomorrow.

A kid decided that we should put a broken shovel on the other side of a rake... we´re like the Darth Maul of Chilean gardening!
June 19, 2015

            Well today was a decent day.  We had a service activity this morning, which was good except that the lady seemed like she was just taking advantage of free missionary labor. We had a nice long chat about just stupid things that we have seen on the mission.  We also spent a large part of the day in the house during the killer game of Chile vs. Bolivia. 

Miracle #269: Chile beat Bolivia 5-0. It is really only cool because I am living here and I have to root for Chile.

            Here is a list of some of the different things that happen here:

1.     Chileans water their dirt.  Yep, just dirt. ONLY dirt, no plants.

2.     Chileans can do anything with a broom: wash a car, dust the walls, and scrub the floors.

3.     Chileans complain about being poor, and they really are, except even the tiniest shack has a huge HD flat screen TV in it.

4.     Every house has a huge, imposing fence around it – which is left unlocked most of the time.

5.     La Boca Chueca = the belief that your mouth will freeze if you drink a hot drink and then go out into the cold weather.

6.     They plant water bottles in the dirt, caps closed, not sure why.

7.     Nearly every house has an alter to the Virgin Mary that looks like a little doghouse.

8.     All of the women wear an apron, every day.

9.     They drink only juice and soda….never water even though it is potable here.

10.  They put soda in their baby’s bottles.

11.  Instead of school buses they have school vans.

12.  There are speed bumps on every street and they drive really fast up to the speed bump then screeched to a near stop to go over them.

13.  They fry EVERYTHING in a ton of oil because they genuinely believe that oil is good for you.

14.  They believe that their little Nissans go faster with a tailfin.

15.  They don’t fill their car’s tires full.

16.  They build their own houses and paint everything with really cheap water based paint.

17.  They think that concrete is 1 part rock, 2 parts sand, and 0.05 parts cement.  #dirtisharder

18.  If you eat unripe fruit, it will kill you.

I was practicing card throwing and hit the mark with a card of "The Restoration of the Truth" card...... its at the feet of the Virgin Maria.... hehe
June 20, 2015
            Today was a horrible day.  I had the laziest day of my mission yet.  I just followed my comp and we did nothing. I studied a ton, and I worked out, but that was it.  It was just a terrible day until we did a little contacting in the evening, but even that was very unproductive.

Miracle #270: (there wasn’t one, It was just one of those days.)

June 21, 2015

            Well today was not the best Sunday ever.  I was doing a special fast for our companionship and it is not really working. I did come up with the idea to just give my companion the leadership of the sector.  It may not be good for the sector, but I have high hopes that it will help the companionship.  It was weird not celebrating Father’s Day today.  It is the first time in my life where I haven’t celebrated in any way.  On the bright side, I have decided that this ward is really a great ward!

Miracle #271: I got not 1, but 2 treats to break my fast. One was for Father’s Day, the other was just a random youth who gave me food.

            The funny part of the day was the fact that we had an enormous lunch and afterwards everyone in the house fell asleep.  We had a fun talk about cars today.

Scary batman-dog keeping vigil over the city of Santiago from the rooftops.
June 22, 2015

            Well today I got chewed out by my zone leaders for confronting my companion about his problem.  Basically they told me that I screwed up and that my companion now wants to go home and that it is my fault.  To that fun bit of information, I had 2 reactions: 1) Let him go home, he doesn’t want to be here anyway.  2) Why would my comp tell everyone except for me how he is feeling.  Of all the things that are necessary for a missionary to have (including worthiness), I truly believe that desire to serve is the most important.  My comp. has no desire to serve and he is an anchor to the work, but he is apparently more important that the people we are supposed to be teaching.  I was also told that his salvation relies on me now….what? Good luck Elder, cause if your salvation  relies on me in the slightest, you are screwed. I can barely manage to keep my own head above the water.

Miracle #272: I handed over the leadership to my companion and it gave me a ton more time to think about other things. I memorized three scriptures in Spanish today.  When you just follow your comp around, things are a lot easier.

            Today was hard and funny because I spent the whole day getting after my comp for seriously checking out the girls.  I see the girls too, but I don’t turn around to stare at them.

June 23, 2015

            Today was a good day.  It was probably one of the best days we have had in this sector.  The coolest part of the day was going to a lesson with some newish investigators who are really eager to learn.  It was moderately stressful for me because every time my comp. would talk, he would say false doctrine.  They I would have to figure out a way to correct what he said later on in a way that would not offend him.  I was pretty tense, but in the end, the lesson turned out great because the spirit was present and testified of the truth.

Miracle #273: For the first time in this sector, our lessons turned out and we taught 5 lessons.  That made my companion super happy.

            There was no funny parts of today. Honestly, I am really ready for p-day.

Monday, June 29, 2015

America Cup and Board/bored games

June 11, 2015
         Today was Elder Farner’s birthday and the beginning of the Copa America in soccer.  Because the copa is in Chile this year, we has to be in the house during the game.  At 7:30 we had to come back and I took advantage of the time to make Elder F. a batch of cinnamon twists.  They turned out a little well done, but they were delicious.  I had a really hard time getting my companion going today so I worked on updating our area book.  I decided that I am really going to try to be a friend to my companion because that it the suggestion that all of my leaders have been giving me.  They say that if I become his friend, that he will then work hard.
Miracle #261: For the first time in my life, I won the board game Risk!  It might have been the shortest game in history. 
         The Risk game was the fun part of the day, but the other fun part was messing with a ferocious pitbull.  It tore apart a stick that I poked through the fence. 
I am the king of the WORLD! (first time ever, probably because I didn't have to compete with my siblings.)
June 12, 2015
         Today we had divisions again and I left the sector again.  Elder Booker, my DL has had my companion before so he helped me understand how to deal with him.  Basically he just advised me to love him and have a lot of patience.  Of course I already knew this, so I was wondering why we needed divisions again.  He then told me that he needed a break from his comp too.  They get along really well, but he explained to me that even though you might have a great companionship, everyone needs a little break now and then.
Miracle #262: After an entire day of just walking, we finally found an incredible person to teach.  It was the very last part of the day.
         The funny/odd part of the day was that we didn’t have a single lesson the entire day. We literally just walked ALL DAY LONG.  This is exactly the same thing that my comp likes to do with his time.  For the first time in a long time, my legs actually hurt.  I am pretty used to walking, and I think that I am very fit.  But today, we easily walked over 20 km.  It was a boring day, but we had a good time chatting while knocking doors.
         On a side note, I learned how to solve the Rubiks cube which seems to be a missionary thing worldwide.  We don’t memorize discussions anymore, but we do memorize the solution to the cube.
June 13, 2015
         Today was another long day.  We contacted pretty much all day long.  Hour after hour of knocking doors and trying to find people got pretty boring.  Typically, I am a good contactor, but not today.  Bays absolutely drag by when your companion is mad at you.  Today, Elder R. got back in bed again and I told him that was a bad idea.  I actually made a great effort to talk to him with love and said, “If you get back in bed you will fall asleep and regret it.”  He just said, “But I am tired.” Then I said, “Elder, we are all tired, but our calling doesn’t permit us to be in bed all day long.”
Sewing the good seed on rocks.

Prepping that soil baby!!! we´re such good missionaries
Sewing seeds on good ground
You can see Levi's punk marine haircut well in this picture.

Now we must work with all diligence so that the seed may take root.  alma 32
Miracle #263: I don’t really have one today. I guess it would be that we were freezing cold so we stopped by a members house to warm up and we were able to teach his less active relatives a lesson.
         Today was the first day in Chile where I’ve really truly been cold.  I have been a little chilly before, but never truly bone cold.  Days like today make me very grateful for the stuff we have in the states like heated cars, houses, businesses, and public restrooms.  Other than that, I am just 100% exhausted, literally, I cannot even think straight.
June 14, 2015
         Today was a boring day.  Even though it was one of the better days as far as the sector goes. I still haven’t figured out how to have a fun conversation with my comp.  I am pretty stuck with what to do.  At church today, I was trying to set up citas with members and divisions and instead of taking initiative and talking to other members, my comp just stood quietly in the corner. 
Miracle #264: For the first time in this sector, we had 3 lessons in 1 day.  Even more interesting is that I previously didn’t know any of these people.
         I can’t really think of a fun part of the day to be honest. I did another calisthenics contact today in the park.  I talked to these guys who were doing calisthenics and did a few tricks for them.  I found out that one of the guys is really interested in our message.  I practically didn’t talk to my companion today….he is just so withdrawn and disinterested in the work.
June 15, 2015
         Today was another soccer game that we had to come home for.  It was between Chile and Mexico.  The lights randomly cut off and we decided to have Elder Valle birthday party in the dark.  So we played Monopoly by flashlight which turned out to be more fun than usual.
A crazy member in our ward likes to destroy the missionaries´ rooms.
He also fights with us.... crazy.
Miracle #265: We discovered a huge problem with my comp today and I manage to keep my cool the whole day, including keeping my mouth shut.
 June 16, 2015
         Sadly, today was the funeral of my friend Mario, from my previous sector.  We got permission to attend his service.  It was the first time in my life I attended a funeral for someone that I was close to.  It made me sad, but it is comforting to know that I have a hope to see him again in the next life.  It really felt like ald times being with Elder White again.  I hope to eventually have another comp who works that hard.  I can’t believe how much I miss him as a companion.  Elder R. just seems to care less and less every day that passes.  I am definitely not helping him be a better missionary.
Miracle #266: I young man that I contacted the second day in this sector is doing really well. Turns out that he has been taught before and he already loves the church.
         Well our zone leader is over on divisions again today and he pretty much chewed me out and told me that I need to be more patient with my companion who now wants to go home.  I am told that I am responsible for his desire to stay in the mission field.  Somehow I have got to figure out how to love this comp.  I also need to figure out how to have the spirit with us when we work…this is next to impossible when half of the companionship doesn’t want to try anymore.
My attempt at continuing to serve and love my companion.

Adjustment phase

June 3, 2015
         Today was a lame p-day.  My companion just wanted to sleep all day so I ended up studying and getting to know the members we live with better. I am definitely going to be the energy of this companionship.  I really thing that my new comp is a great guy, but I am not so sure he has the drive to serve a mission.  He has had a hard life in Peru and he doesn’t have anyone who writes him.  I feel for the guy and want to help him out in some way.
Miracle #253: In this new missionary house, we have a HOT shower!!! In my other house, we had a shower, but it was only occasionally lukewarm at best.
         The funny part of the day didn’t exist.
June 4, 2015
         Today was long and boring. I ended up contacting most of the day in order to get it done.  My comp is super laid back, and low on energy.  As we were doing the street contacts, I came to realize that EVERYONE in this sector opens their doors for us.  It is great.  Plus, they are all home by 5 pm.
Miracle #254: In a couple of hours of contacting here, I can do more than I could in days in los cardinos. 
         I found it funny how clueless my comp is about this area.  We will be trying to fin a house of a member and he has to call another elder in the sector for help.  I am going to memorize the streets ASAP because I don’t like the feeling of being constantly lost. 
June 7, 2015
         Today was hard.  Elder R. has zero initiative.  Even if he had the best of intentions, he doesn’t follow through.  Most of today was at least entertaining at church.  First off, I was/am the ward pianist.  The keyboard is old school and has the cheesy built in buttons that put a beat in with the melody.  As I was getting ready to play the closing hymn, I accidentally switched the setting and when I hit the first note, and 80’s rock beat filled the chapel for a few seconds.  We all felt evangelical.
Miracle #257: I was able to clean up our area book today so that it is presentable. 
         A funny part of today was getting a lot of flack from the old members of the ward about my haircut.  They think that it is too ghetto. Oh well, it will grow.  We did a ton of contacting today.  I am averaging about 28 people/day in this area. It is great!
June 8, 2015
         I am having a hard time with my new comp.  He hates my initiative and generally hates his life.  He got so pissed at me today that he called me a MF in English.  Basically all I want to do is to do the work and not walk in random circles.  He doesn’t want to contact or teach, and only wants to walk slowly around an area that he does not know. He is 100% disinterested in the message that we are sharing and his comments are just off the wall.  It is HARD.
Miracle #258: I gave out 3 Book of Mormons and 13 pamphlets today.  I contacted a total of 39 people today.
         The funniest part of today was realizing how easy it is to not get distracted by a beautiful girl if they are holding a screaming baby.
June 9, 2015
         Today was pretty good.  99% of the reason it was good was because we did divisions.  The zone leaders called us this morning telling us that we had divisions.  I am not sure who told them that we aren’t doing too well, but I don’t mind a break.  This was the second time where I was basically told that my comp was a huge challenge and I need to keep working on it.  I think that my president is giving me another test and this time I really don’t want to fail. I figure that I must be in the pool of hard companions else why would I get paired with them. 
Miracle #259: We found a super receptive less active member wile contacting door to door.
         The funniest part of the day today was a contact we did with a grandma and her granddaughter.  We asked her if we could visit  and she made the typical excuses that she was never in the house and she was always busy.  But the little girl chimed in and said, “Grandma you are lying. You are always in the house!”  It was hilarious how this little girl kept calling her out.  In the end, she finally said that we could come back to teach her.
June 10, 2015
         Today was good. Instead of going bowling with the zone, we stayed home and just made food as a house.  The purpose was to help the struggling companionships to grow closer together.  We all ended up having a better day.  We didn’t really work hard, but we talked and had a good time. 
 Miracle #260: The other missionaries are helping me and my companion to get along better.
         The fun part of the day was when the entire house decided to do ab ripper together.  The other missionaries absolutely died.  This is one of the hardest workouts that I have been doing for about 3 months.  Everyone wants to try to do this workout as a group 3 times a week.  I am up for it!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

New area - camping in the city.

Morning studies
May 27, 2015
         Today was pretty good.  We had a laid back p-day with a a nice zone activity/BBQ mixed with a movie!  We actually got to watch a real MOVIE!  Our mission president approved the move, “The Saratov Approach.”  From a spiritual standpoint, I really liked it and thought that it had a lot of valid points that are applicable to the work that I am doing right now.
Miracle #246: We found an internet café that is much closer to ur sector. We now only have to walk 5 minutes instead of 20.
         The best part of the day was finding a delicious and cheap ice cream shop.  A liter of good ice cream cost around 3$.  We ate it ALL! 
May 28, 2015
         Today was another great day except for the fact that we didn’t contact anyone.  We had a few good lessons and went to visit M. in the hospital again.  That situation is rough. We had an interesting conversation about the apostate condition that our ward used to be in.  Seriously, all I can say is that I am glad that people can change and that the ward is headed in a better direction now.  I also learned that if I don’t do any contacts during the day, I feel a little bit useless, like I am not using my time well.
Miracle #247: We, including the other elders, deep cleaned our house today.  It was a miracle because it was a team effort that almost never happens.
         The funny part of the day was a gift from the bishop.  He thinks that I will be transferred so he made something for me to remember him by.  He took a combination of pictures of Spokane, including my house, and made a collage type of thing for me.  He put it in front of a binder of music and on the back he taped a letter to me.  Basically he just told me that he loved me which was really a thoughtful thing for him to do.

May 29, 2015
         Today wasn’t bad.  We did divisions with Elder Chaves and Hanni today and I worked our sector with Chavez.  We actually had a decent day. The most interesting part of today was teaching a first aid class to the youth of the ward for mutual.  It wasn’t the most amazing activity, but it was educational and entertaining. We stopped by to visit an investigator that we haven’t seen for a while and he seems to be more interested now than he was a month ago.
Miracle #248: A less active member who we didn’t think would ever progress is reading the Book of Mormon.
         The funny part of the day was just how out of it Elder Chavez was during one of our lessons.  I would turn time over to him to talk and he literally fumbled over his words because he was so tired.  His eyes were glazed over the whole time.  It all turned out fine and I just was totally okay with it because it always happens to me in lessons.

May 30, 2015
         Well today was nice.  We started our day by going to help out our miracle man J.  Almost immediately after that, we went to an awesome Chilean BBQ and it turned out to be the longest lunch of my mission.  It was a lot of fun and we ate so much meat!  I had some really rare steak that I had to cook some more even though I love rare meat.  We had some really effective lessons to end the week and a good miracle.
Miracle #249: We got a less active member who says that he does NOT EVER want to go to church, to come to our English class.
         I got the call tonight that I am leaving this sector.  I am kindof bummed but not surprised.  I hate to leave this ward.  I have loved my time here even though my time with Elder C. was the worst time of my mission.  Probably having Elder White as a companion has been the best part of my mission so far.  With this new change, I will have served in 4 wards in less than a year.  That is not that weird for other missions, but for this mission it is very unusual.  The norm is for an elder to serve in one area for 6 months.  I guess that it is my fate to be different.
May 31, 2015
         I hate packing, with all of my heart.  I think that packing and saying goodbye are the worst parts of the mission, but mostly the packing. I am realized today that this ward is the first ward that genuinely loved me back. I tried to say goodbye to as many people as I could and it is exhausting, but we did get to teach a message to each family that we visited. 
Miracle #250: Today was the day that marked the first time on my mission to have achieved the mission standard of excellence for 29 lessons and 6 divisions in a week.  It really makes me happy because when I got here, we were only getting around 11 lessons and 4 divisions.  I guess that even though numbers don’t mean much, they can help you measure some personal productivity goals.
         More than the numbers, the thing that really matters most is the growth that I have seen in this sector.  We have so many peoples that we teach now and most of them are progressing which is another miracle. Hermano R., who we have been teaching for a long time, finally decided to come to church today.  The first day that I met him, he told me that he was an atheist and that he never wanted to go back to church.  I was so happy to see him there and on my last Sunday! 
         Our recent convert gave me a farewell gift that I absolutely love, a pajama shirt that says, “Bedtime Beckons.” 
June 1, 2015
         Today was the last day together with Elder White and it was interesting.  It started with a district meeting where we all had to write our notes to the district and it was fun. I have had a blast here, but I am ready now for the next challenge.  I finished my marathon goodbyes and it was nice to see the ward’s love. 
Elder Skabelund...6'11" volleyball player and great elder!
My hero.
Last district meeting!
Miracle #251: M comp. is going to be training for the first time in his entire mission. He is going to do a wonderful job!
         The funny part of the day was when we had a meeting for the new trainers.  The meeting was at 1:30 but no one called us to let us know the night before. We got the call at 2:15 telling us we were supposed to be in a meeting. We frantically rushed to get to this really important meeting and managed to get there in just 15 minutes.  Now my comp is super nervous because he really doesn’t want the responsibility of training, but he is determined to do his best.  I know he will do a great job.
June 2, 2015
         Changes baby!  I got sent to Elder White’s old sector today and it is awesome.  I am with Elder Ramirez who is from Peru and has been on his mission for 7 months longer than I have. We walked a ton today!  Elder White predicted that I would be sent here just this morning! 
Miracle #252 This sector has tons and tons of people in the street all the time.  This makes contacting so much easier and more fun.
         Well, I am not sure if there was a funny part of the day, but I saw something really disturbing and sad.  A little kitten got hit by a car – poor little guy. I really missed being in a sector where you could just do street contacts all day long and not get bored.  The house that we live in a basically like scout camp.  We live in cabins with 6 elders.  The cabins have outhouses and shower stalls out back.  It is way cool!