Hot dogs for Christmas Eve and weiner dogs!

Hola todo! 

It is really hot here in Chile! My companion and I are sweating all day. It isn’t bad though! Christmas week was awesome. We had a great Christmas Eve. We went and visited an elderly woman who lives in our sector. She was so grateful we came. We sang her a song and she gave us an interesting ginger ale drink. I think she is close to 90. It was great.

 

We then saw some other people and then went to this member’s house for a Christmas Eve dinner. The dinner kind of got crazy. We arrived and the family was freaking out. The head of the propane tank in their house broke and all the propane gas escaped which meant that they couldn’t cook the turkey. They were really flustered and running all over the place. The dad left to try and buy food but all the stores were closed. The family then just cooked us some hot dogs and potatoes. They were really good and we ate some good bread. The family was really frustrated and tense though. They tried to act fine but you could tell they were really sad. This situation was bad because my companion gets really bad anxiety attacks sometimes. So with the combination of the family being really tense and the tension in the house and the food not working out, it made my companion start to get anxious. It became really uncomfortable for him and he nudged me and said he was going to throw up. I was just laughing inside but freaking out too. Everything was falling apart and then my companion was going to throw up and he was shaking from this anxiety attack. It was a pretty unforgettable experience. He was very relieved when we finally got out of there. I was enjoying it but felt bad for him. We were really far away from our house and started to walk home. My companion was feeling really sick and I also had to use the bathroom really badly. Then a random taxi driver pulled up and said that the Lord told him to pick us up. He took us home for free. It was amazing. 

Christmas day we got to sleep in until 9:00 am, which was amazing. My companion was feeling really sick still because of the dinner the past night and probably because he was anxious to talk to his family. We opened our packages from our family. Then I made some pancakes. It was really fun. We then went to this other member’s house for lunch and I skyped my family! It was so fun to talk to them. So my first Christmas in Chile was very crazy but I really enjoyed it. The rest of the week flew. We had some funny experiences and some miracles! Here are some funny things…. My companion and I got yelled at by a couple of people who told us to go home to America. They told us to leave Chile. My companion is so funny because he gets a little worked up when people yell at us or insult us. So one guy who yelled at us was in his house yelling through his window. My companion yelled back at him “what are you going to do about it!” and then walked towards his window. The guy then just went back into his house. I told my companion to calm down and we left. It was pretty funny. 

I see weiner dogs all the time and one day this man was walking his weiner dog. It looked just like my old dog “Dippy” but it was a miniature weiner dog. I petted the dog and played with it a little while my companion talked to the guy. It was a great way to contact this man and we asked him if he was interested in learning more about the gospel. In the end, he didn’t accept the invitation but he will definitely be more open in the future because of how nice we were with his dog and we talked to him as a friend.

We experienced a couple of miracles this week. We went to see this inactive member. We were talking to her and while crying she told us that we came on the perfect day because it was one of the worst days of her life. She told us the story of when the missionaries first met her. She said that they came on the worst day of her life and helped her change. She said that over time she felt that she was fine and slowly forgot about going to church. She said that now her life is in a hole again and we showed up at the perfect time. It was amazing the timing of us showing up. We talked to her and helped her decide to come to church. It was a miracle. She felt that this was all miraculous and that she needed to go back to church and make things right with God. But she didn’t show up to church! I thought to myself, why wouldn’t she show up to church after she cried to us about how bad her life was and how she wanted to change and how it was a true miracle from God and an answer to a prayer that we showed up to help. It reminded me of many scripture stories where people see angels or miracles in front of their eyes but it doesn’t change them. Also it made me think about the fact that “actions speak louder than words”. It is a lot easier to stay the way you are and not make any changes in your life. It is a lot harder to make the effort to go to church and to pray and work to change. But always with hard work and effort comes great blessings and ultimately change. 

Here is one more miraculous experience. Yesterday, we went to see this member who we didn’t know and had never seen before. We are trying to go see the members in the ward and we have a list of all their names. We planned to see this member yesterday. We got to the house and it was an old couple. We sat down on their couch and they asked us if we were there to give them the sacrament. We told them no, but that we could. They said that someone always comes at 1:00 on Sundays to give them the sacrament because they are too old and can’t walk to the church. We arrived at their house at 5:00 so whoever was supposed to bring the sacrament forgot to come. We administered the sacrament to them and they were very grateful. It was an amazing testimony to see the endurance of this couple. They are so old and can’t do much but they make a huge effort to take the sacrament every week to renew their baptismal covenants. It was also a testimony to miracles. The one week that somebody forgot to go give them the sacrament we showed up and were able to do it for them. This week was filled with many more crazy stories and adventures but I just don’t have time to write them all! I hope all is well and I pray for all of you. That’s all for this week! Hasta luego!

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Chilean bread and “Igo” fruit

Hola!

This e-mail will be a little shorter because I am going to skype the family tomorrow and my companion and I are going to go to “Plaza de Armas” right now. It is a main plaza with this huge historic cathedral in the middle of Santiago. This will be a fun way to spend Christmas Eve!!!

So here are some stories. There was a lot of talk about the world ending this week. It was really crazy because everyone asked us about it. It was actually very useful at times because we got to teach a lot more people about Gods plan for them. But a lot of people really believed that the world was going to end!

It rained really hard all day on Wednesday. It was really fun but I was soaked by the end of the day because we were knocking on a lot of doors and we had to walk everywhere. We got invited in to this guy’s house on that day and he gave us this gross herbal tea and told us his life story. He told us that his grandpa was buried under the house. He also said that his house was built over an old cemetery. We decided just to leave him a pamphlet and get out of there. Also we wanted to get out because we thought  he was mentally insane.

Everyone gives us this bread called “Pan de Pascua”. It isn’t very good but it is starting to grow on me. It is like bitter cinnamon bread with chunks of dried fruit inside. Everyone loves it here. We had lunch on Saturday in the Armada de Chile. It is a naval base. One of the sergeants is a member of our ward. It was pretty cool.

One of our investigators that we have been teaching since day one told me recently that I look fatter now than when I arrived! Chileans have no problem with throwing the word “fat” around. So I cut back on the food I bought at Lider today.

We met a drunk man on the street yesterday and he talked to us and then just started crying. All the drunk guys here cry and talk about their lives. When we left him he kissed us both on the cheek twice. It was very weird. We did service for this sister in our ward who is an old lady and afterwards she gave us these fruits called Igos from her Igo tree (Pronounced…. Ego like the word egotistical). It is supposedly the only tree in the world that produces two different fruits throughout the year. It was really good but very interesting. The inside looks like tentacles with a purplish goo.

A spiritual experience…… We had lunch with one of the members named Karl. He is from Austria and moved here about 10 years ago. He told us his conversion story. He then said “we are all here because of Joseph smith and the vision he saw. It was very true and I thought about it more. I was sitting at a random Austrian man’s table in a random block in the middle of Santiago, Chile with a companion that I have known for 2 months and we are all speaking in a foreign language about our faith and belief in this gospel and church. This church is true and Gods lives. Joseph Smith really did see God and Jesus and restored his church. I also want to add my testimony that Jesus lives. During this time of year we all need to remember what Christ did for us. His Atonement was the single greatest act of love and charity in all of history. I am so blessed to be where I am and have a belief in these things. Feliz Navidad!

Elder Neser

 

From juggling “flaming torches” to the Russian Mafia

Hola Everybody!!!!! 

It has been just awesome this past week in Chile! Time is still flying and it is almost Christmas! So crazy! It doesn’t feel like Christmas at all though. Chile doesn’t really celebrate it. We try and listen to Christmas music all the time though and sing Christmas hymns every chance we get. That is fun. My trainer has the habit of singing a hymn at the beginning of every lesson or whenever we get into someone’s house. I like it, but we sing a lot and to a lot of investigators! 

First of all, my prayers go out to anyone who was affected by the shooting in Connecticut. It is interesting because the day it happened we went into one of our investigators homes for a lesson and he said to look at the TV. We saw the headline about the school shooting. Everybody down here is interested in American news. All kinds of people have asked us about it. 

So here are some funny stories from the week. We were walking down the street a couple days ago and this kid was kicking the soccer ball in between these trees with this long 2×4 across the trees as a crossbar. It was a make shift goal. So I ran into the goal and played goalie. I told the kid to “bring it” and he then set the ball up about 15 feet away in the middle of the street. He got a head start and kicked it. It looked like it was going way left so I ran to it but it was out of my reach. I thought that the ball was going to be way out but then I turned to watch it and it hit the top corner of the goal and went in!! That’s the last time I challenge a South American in soccer! 

Also there is a street where there is always a kid juggling tennis balls in front of the cars during red lights to make money. We passed by that street a couple days ago at night and saw this lady juggling flaming torches in front of the cars. It was insane! (The things people do to try to earn money!) 

We have been having a little trouble with keeping investigators. We have had a lot move away or they don’t want to keep their commitments or progress. But this week we had the craziest experience with losing an investigator. By just knocking on doors, we met this man on Tuesday named Yerko. He answered the door and without hesitation let us in and wanted to talk. He could speak English fluently. He told us about himself. He is a professional music composer and director. He is 72 years old. He showed us how he was making an arrangement for the song “O Holy Night” for his choir to sing. He is very intelligent. We asked him about his choir and the music he composes. He said that his choir sings classical songs in German and Russian. We asked why the choir sings in those languages. He said he loves those languages and his ancestors are all from Croatia and the former Yugoslavia. So he speaks German and Russian and a little Croatian. It is crazy. Anyways he was very, very nice and was really interested when we taught him. We went back again 2 days later to teach him and it was great. He was very interested. He told us how he learned English. He lived in America during the 70s and worked in a factory for little money. He said it was rough but he made a lot of friends and learned a lot. He said he then moved here to Chile where he was born and has been teaching music and composing music for 42 years. So it seemed all great and we thought he was going to progress and be a great investigator until Saturday. We went to visit his neighbor’s who are also members of the church and asked them about Yerko. We wanted to see if they knew him and if they would help us teach him. One of the members that lives in that house is from Austria and we thought that he probably knew Yerko. So we asked him to come with us to our next lesson. He blurted out no way! We were shocked and asked why. He said that he lived with Yerko when he first came to Chile from Austria and learned that he was a very bad man. We asked how is he was such a bad man?? Karl (the member from Austria) was hesitant to tell us why but we probed a little more and he told us why. He said that Yerko is part of the Russian Mafia. We were shocked and didn’t know what to think. He told us a little more about how he is part of some weird groups and works with weird people. We were so shocked and confused and bummed out. So anyways, getting back to the point of losing investigators, we don’t think that we will be going back to his house. This is the trouble we have been having. Our investigators turn out to be part of the Russian Mafia!! 

Anyways one more story on a happy note. In church yesterday, we went to the Gospel Principles class during the second hour with our investigator. That class is pretty funny sometimes because it is the new converts and investigators who don’t know a whole lot about the church. So at the end of the class the teacher chose this man named Gregorio to give the closing prayer. He is a new convert and loves to talk. He is hilarious too. So he got up to the front of the class to give the prayer and he starts by saying Buenas Tardes Hermanas y Hermanos (Good afternoon brothers and sisters). Then he started telling this story about how he was late to church and missed the Sacrament and then he looked up to the ceiling and was asking God for forgiveness because he got to church late. He just kept going and then bore his testimony about how the church is true then ended with a loud “Amen”! It was so funny but an awesome prayer. 

Here is your spiritual thought! I saw a man on the subway with a shirt that said: “Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.” It was a quote by Jimi Hendrix. I really thought about that this week and tried to put it into practice. During one of our lessons, the person was relating a story about her hard life and some of her struggles. My companion answered her questions with scriptures and gave parts of lessons. I sat thinking. The meaning of the quote hit me in the middle of all of this. Sometimes we just like to blurt out what we know and blast facts at people. It is all done with good intentions and I know my companion was trying to help the investigator, but I had a thought that maybe we should just be quiet and listen to her. Then listen to the spirit and listen to what God was trying to tell us and then speak to her. It is very hard to do a lot of the time but it is the way that we should teach and help others. We need to pause and listen to the spirit because God knows what peoples needs are better than we do and we only know the “tip of the iceberg” regarding some of the challenges people face. We need to listen to the spirit because the spirit will tell us how to understand the whole problem or challenge a person is facing. Then through direction from our Heavenly Father we can really help the person. We really are just instruments in Gods hands and we need to pray and listen to his guidance so that we can do what he wants us to do. Well, those are some of the cool stories from this week! I miss you all! Feliz Navidad! 

Elder Neser