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

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