Elder Neser is so excited!!!!
Elder Neser is so excited!!!!
How’s it going! I have some crazy big news that will top last week’s news! You probably remember there are two islands in my mission…. Well, Saturday night, the mission president called me and told me: “Elder Neser, you’re going to have a companionship change on Monday to “Renca 2” and you will be with Elder Roberts (my companion from the MTC) for a week. But I was about to learn there was more to the plan. The mission president went on to say: “At the end of the week Elder Roberts is going to Robinson Crusoe Island with Elder Evans (my trainer). Then the next week you will be going to EASTER ISLAND!!!!!” I am going to Easter Island! I am going to Easter Island! I am going to Easter Island! I am going to Easter Island! I am going to Easter Island! I am going to Easter Island! I am going to Easter Island! I am going to Easter Island! I am going to Easter Island! I am going to Easter Island! I am going to Easter Island! I am going to Easter Island! I am going to Easter Island! I am going to Easter Island!
How crazy is that? Do you think I am a little excited?? I couldn’t believe it! I told the president: “NO WAY!” He said: “YES WAY!” It was so insane! So in about two weeks, I am going to fly alone to Easter Island in a small seven-seat jet. The flight will take about 4-5 hours. (like flying to Hawaii from Orange County) The elder that will be my companion there just left on Thursday to fly there to replace one of the elders that is already out there. He will get to know the island a little then I will fly out alone and replace the elder that is out there with him now. The mission president said I will be there for three months at least and it could be more. HOW CRAZY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am going to Easter Island!
I thought that I was dreaming when the mission president told me. I still can’t believe it. I really believe that God was preparing me for this to happen. I don’t really know very much else about when I leave or any other details but I am super excited! As missionaries, we all joke and dream about being sent to Easter Island but now it is really happening to me. Not very many elders are sent there. Easter Island is one of the great wonders of the world because of the Moai statues found there. Moai statues are monolithic human figures carved by the Rapa Nui people of Easter Island between the years 1250-1500. The big mystery about these statues is how they were carved and then moved. Engineers have studied these statues and can only guess as to how the Rapa Nui moved such extremely heavy pieces of carved rock. On Easter Island, they speak both Spanish and an eastern Polynesian language called Rapa Nui! It will be insane to learn another language. This is like I am going to a new mission because it will be so different from Santiago. What do you think about that? After I was done talking with the mission president on the phone, I just started jumping and running around the house and screaming! I was so excited! I heard I will probably be eating a lot of fish. I don’t know what else to say. I have some stories from the week but they pale in comparison to this news. The new sector I am in for the next two weeks is right next to the airport. I am so freaking out. I also saw my trainer Elder Evans today and we are like best friends. As I mentioned, he is headed to Robinson Crusoe Island. It was so cool to see him! Because we worked so hard together and put forth so much effort in our area, I think we are both receiving blessings. I also think that we gained a lot of trust from the mission president. I am just so excited and can’t wait to leave!!!!!!!!! That is it for this week.
Things are going great here in Chile! The weather is cooling down. More and more the Chilean culture is growing on me! I love the bread here. There is always fresh bread here that is really good and it is served at every meal. Also, unfortunately Coke is served all the time and it is growing on me too!
This week, my companion and I went running every morning during our workout time. There is this small soccer stadium by our house and there is a track around it. I run about 2 miles everyday. I am going to keep it up because I feel better and it really wakes me up! This week my companion and I went to Plaza de Armas three times because my companion needed to fix his glasses. This plaza is located in the center of Santiago. We went the day after the new Pope was announced and the plaza was packed with people. There is a huge, historic Catholic cathedral there. All of the people were in front of the cathedral talking and chanting. It was crazy. Also, because the new Pope is from Argentina, my companion (from Argentina) tells every single person about the Pope and his country of origin. I think that I have heard it a million times now! He is really good at using it though to start conversations with people.
There is a Chinese “take-out restaurant” in my sector and my companion and I stop there and buy egg rolls sometimes at night before we go home.The food here is actually really good but a Chinese restaurant seems so out of place in the middle of Santiago. The people that work there are Chinese and can’t speak Spanish or English. This doesn’t make sense. But their food is good!
We experienced a funny door contact this week. My companion and I were knocking on doors in this block. There were four doors on each floor with two next to each other and the other two on the opposite wall. So I knocked on one door and my companion knocked on another door on the opposite side of me. We were waiting for someone to answer then the door next to my companion opened. We didn’t knock on this door so we were surprised and turned around to look. The guy came out somewhat angrily and said: “what do you want?” He wasn’t wearing a shirt and had the hairiest stomach and chest ever. He was also not the skinniest man. But to make it even funnier, he had shaving creme all over his face and a razor in his hand. My companion and I just stared at him and I tried not to laugh. Then my companion went over to talk with him and he yelled that he was busy and slammed the door. It was pretty hilarious. On Saturday, we went to teach a lesson but the people weren’t there. But down the street, there where two kids playing what looked like tennis. They had some lines drawn on the ground with chalk and two pieces of wood (for rackets) and a tennis ball. So my companion went over and challenged one of them to a game. He played two games then I got up and played. Lets just say that my tennis skills are a little rusty (but I can still take on any of the Nielsens!). So we played a couple of points. Then the kid hit the ball to my off hand and I reached over to swing at it. I hit it a little too hard and the ball flew on the roof of their neighbor’s house. The kids were all bummed. I felt bad. But we were playing with pieces of wood in a narrow street and I was wearing a white shirt and a tie. So give me a break!! But it all worked out well in the end because then we taught the kids about the gospel and they want us to come back and teach them again. I am going to buy them a new tennis ball today, too!
A spiritual thought: in church on Sunday, a sister gave a talk based on Elder Packer’s talk that he gave in General Conference about the atonement. I love the story about the lower lights. You should all go read the talk (http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2012/10/the-atonement?lang=eng&query=atonement+(name%3a%22Boyd+K.+Packer%22+OR+name%3a%22Allan+F.+Packer%22). But what struck me is that as members of the church, we are those “lower lights” to help those who are lost in the stormy seas find their way to the truth. There is a part in the talk where Elder Packer quotes a hymn. It says: “Let the lower lights be burning.” As members of the church, we need to make sure that our spiritual light is burning. We can do this by reading the scriptures daily, going to church and praying every day. If our lights are bright, then it will be easier for those that are searching to find their way back to the main light, which is Christ. I know that this gospel is true and that everyone needs it. That’s it for this week!
Como estan?! This week has been a crazy week with lots of experiences. First of all, on Wednesday Elder Ferreyra made an Asado! It was so good. We have this grill/asado maker in our house so Elder Ferreyra wanted to take advantage of it! The whole house was filled with smoke afterwards but it was really good.
In Chile and in many South American countries there are laws that protect dogs in the street. You can’t kill them or harm them and because of these laws there are tons of stray dogs running around in the streets. They are stray and don’t clean themselves so they get all kinds of diseases and they have all kinds of bugs in their fur. But the most common bug is a tic like bug called a garrapato. They attach to the dogs and suck their blood and they get huge. So on Friday we were knocking on doors in this block and a dog was following us. So to spice things up and have a little fun Elder Ferreyra bent down and searched the dog for a garrapato. He found one and picked it off and then threw it on the ground. He told me to step on it. I said no way! He said it’s really fun and said he always did it in Argentina. So I gave in and stepped on it. Right when I did this a huge spray of blood came out from under my foot. It was pretty disgusting but I agreed that it was kind of fun. We did it a couple more times then decided we should probably stop covering the ground in blood.
Street markets called ferias are really popular here in Santiago. There are two main ones in our sector on Tuesdays and Thursdays. They are really fun because there are a ton of stands selling all kinds of food products and other things. They line the both sides of the street and they go on forever. It is always really crammed because there are tons of people trying to buy things and bargain and there are dogs running between your legs. We like to do contacts in the ferias because there are so many people and they can’t escape from us easily! Ha! So we went to the feria on Saturday and were walking through it and this lady stopped us. She talked to us and told us that she was an inactive member. She asked me if I could help her carry her cart for her and also help her with her little daughter. I said yes. So I pulled her cart and helped her buy things from all of the venders while my companion contacted people. It was fun bargaining with the people and getting into the culture. The lady was really grateful for the help afterwards, but hopefully her heart was touched enough so that she comes back to church.
Also, there is this funny drunk guy in our sector that always talks to us. He loves talking to me because he knows some phrases in English and he loves saying them. He has 3 phrases that he loves. One is “Wasuuuuuup Dude!” Another is “My name is Juan, how are you? The third one is my favorite. He said this one the other day while making a gang sign and pointing at the street. He yelled: “This is my street man! Do ya understand? This is my street!” I always yell back at him in reply. He is really nice though and always laughs at our exchange.
We had a very cool experience during a lesson this week. We were knocking on doors and came to this one door and a man named Enrique answered. He was receptive and let us in. We talked and we asked him questions to get to know him and understand his religious background. He told us that he had 5 kids that were all grown up now and he recently divorced his wife. He told us that he got married to her when he was 17. They had been married for about 35 years. He was wearing this necklace with the Star of David on it so I asked him if he was Jewish. He laughed and said no. He said it was a gift from his children last Christmas. It had all of his children’s names engraved on it. He really loves his kids. But the part that was most interesting was when I asked him if he believed in Jesus Christ. He said yes. I asked him why Jesus Christ was important in his life. He told us his beliefs in Christ and said that it was interesting that I asked. I asked why and then he told us that he wanted to show us something. So he led us to his room and pointed to this cross that was lying on his bed with a Christ figurine next to it. He explained that the Christ figurine was originally nailed on the cross but recently he was looking at it and didn’t like the image of Christ suffering so he took the cross down off his wall and took the nails out of the figurine and separated Jesus from the cross. He said that he believes that Christ was resurrected and that he lives. We then taught him about Christ and his sacrifice for us, but then also explained that he does live. From this experience I learned many things. I learned that as missionaries we really are put in the path of people who are prepared. But what I liked the most was the thought that Christ lives and that he was resurrected and that our last memory of him is not his crucifixion. Through his sacrifice, he conquered death and gave us all the opportunity to live again. We must not forget Jesus’ sacrifice for us but we also need to remember that he lives and that we can live again also. That’s all for this week!
My P-day got changed again just for this week. So today is my P-day. But next week it will be on Monday again. Things are going great! My new companion is super funny and awesome! I am learning a ton from him and my Spanish is getting way better!!!! My new area is very cool.
So here are some stories from the week. First, last Tuesday we went to teach one of our investigators named Mariel. When we entered the house her and her mom were eating this weird plant. They offered it to us. I ate it and it tasted fishy and salty. I asked them what it was. They said it is called “cochallullo”. It is from the ocean. So I guessed that it was seaweed. She said that it is seaweed taken and dried in the sun for a period of time until it is hardened and crunchy like a chip. Then they take these long strands of this “cochallullo” and twist them up and then sell them. It was very interesting. I kind of liked it but to be nice I told the investigator that I REALLY liked it. So she gave me a big chunk of it to take with us. So when we left I had this big thing of dried seaweed that I had to carry around. We left and were walking down the street and passed by this guy selling bread. (There are a lot of people here who make their own homemade bread called pan amosado and sell it.) This guy had his oven on a cart and was making the bread right there in the street and selling it. So as we passed by he yelled to us and asked me if what I was carrying was cochallullo. I said yes and he motioned me to come over. When we got to him he grabbed my seaweed and threw it in his oven with the bread. He said: “Just wait, you are going to like this”. After a few minutes he pulled it out and wrapped it in a napkin and handed it to me. It was all burnt. With an excited smile he told me to try it. My mind and body were telling me “don’t you dare put that in your mouth.” But as I have done many times while on my mission, I smiled and said “okay”! I took a bite. It was one of the grossest things that I have ever tasted. I thanked the man, but as soon as we got far enough away I looked for a trashcan and threw away the burnt seaweed as fast as I could.
Here is another story. We have this investigator named Patricia who lives in these blocks in my sector. We went to see her on Wednesday and when we got to her gate, as custom here in Chile, we yelled “Ah-lo” to let her know we were outside. Right when we yelled it, these two big dogs came running out and jumped on the fence. One of them was a big pit-bull. I jumped back quickly. My companion on the other hand went right to the pit-bull and started playing with it and petting it through the fence. I told him that he was crazy! The investigator came out and opened the gate to let us in. I asked her if it was safe or if I was going to be killed. She laughed and said that the pit-bull won’t do anything and that he is loving and nice. So I slowly walked in through the fence and made my way straight to the door trying not to attract attention to myself. But it didn’t work. The pit-bull came right at me and jumped up and punched me with its two front paws. The dog then licked my leg and ran around me. I was scared out of my mind but I bent down to pet it. We somehow became best friends. I love that dog!
Last Sunday, we had to introduce ourselves in church. It was Fast and Testimony Meeting. So each of the new missionaries got up and introduced themselves. The branch is really small. There were 20 people there at the beginning of the meeting. But four of the twenty were missionaries and 5 were investigators. People kept coming in throughout the meeting and in the end there were about fifty people in attendance. It was very interesting. So all of the missionaries got up and introduced themselves and we bore our testimonies. There is one missionary named Elder Jessup in the ward. He is from Utah and has been on his mission about the same. He is super funny. When he introduced himself he said that his name was Elder Jessup, but to clarify how to pronounce it, he said that it sounds like ketchup. In Spanish, his name and ketchup are very similar. It was really funny because most of the ward didn’t understand and now they all call him Elder Ketchup.
Those are some of the stories from the week. I know that this church is true and I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior. I know that the scriptures are the word of God and that we need to study them daily to be protected from the storms of the adversary. I hope you all have a great week!