It was a fun first week with my new gringo companion! He is awesome. His name is Elder Millerd! He is from Albany, Georgia! This is another companion for me from Georgia. So I will most likely be taking a trip to Georgia after my mission! He actually lives 20 or 30 minutes from Albany and grew up on a little farm. He is super calm and humble and quiet. It’s awesome! He speaks very little Spanish, which is a challenge because I need to do all of the teaching. But he is learning a lot and understanding more. He is getting more confident. He was a huge camper and Boy Scouter before his mission. He liked hunting and backpacking and outdoor activities. So we have a good amount in common. It was really interesting this week. I had to handle most of the missionary work. It wasn’t hard but just different.
We had some funny experiences doing contacts! My companion is only able to say: “Hi! How are you? We are missionaries. Can we share a message with you?” He says the same words for every contact we approach. But miraculously it works! Like 80% of the time people say yes and two times people let us in without any problem. I was laughing and shaking my head because I couldn’t believe that his approach was working. When I was a new missionary, about 10% of the time people would say “yes” to my request to share the gospel and almost never let me in. So I am going to apply some of his techniques! Ha!
Also this week I had a fun experience with a baptismal interview in my old sector in Los Conquistadores. The craziest part was that I conducted the interview for a young woman that had lost her membership record. When I was in the area a year ago, she helped us visit people and she even did Temple Baptisms with one of the recent converts. But then somehow her records were lost and she had to get baptized again. It was really weird. She was baptized when she was 8 and is 19 now. I have never heard of something like this before.
In church yesterday in one of the talks a member said something really cool. He said “Hijo de tigre nace rayado” which means a tiger’s baby is born with stripes. He compared this to how as children of God we have the potential to become like him someday. We are created in His likeness and share His characteristics. It was an awesome talk. That was the week. Time is flying!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This week was awesome. We had changes again today! My companion, Elder Wortham, went home today. He was very, very excited and felt really strange too. He was nervous. It is going to be weird doing that in about 8 weeks from now. Yesterday, we went and said goodbye to everyone. Everyone was crying and they were all sad that Elder Wortham was leaving. He had been in this area for six months and helped the ward grow a lot. Elder Quispe also left. So now I am with another Elder waiting for our new trainees to arrive tomorrow! So I will be training a brand new Elder for the first time. He will most likely be a “gringo” and won’t speak any Spanish! So it will be a fun experience. I will also be District Leader. They also added two new Elders to our ward. So now we are living with 4 in the house. It will be awesome.
We have a new family that we found that we are teaching. They went to church on Sunday for the first time. It was so cool. They all loved it. We have to help them to get married and then they will be ready to get baptized. This past week I had the coolest experience. I finally got to do an interchange in Simon Bolivar. That is where I started my mission. It was so fun. We visited some of the old people that I taught and saw a lot of the members. It was so crazy walking the streets of that sector again because it brought back so many memories. It was very exciting. I also stayed the night there in my old house. Elder Boelter just got back from Easter Island and lives there too. So we talked forever about the island and all of the people there. It was so cool. He had met and taught and baptized some of the people that I taught. He brought back fish and avocados from the island. He gave me some fish and avocados that I cooked and ate. They were sooooooooo good. Those are the cool events from my week!
Well, I “skyped” my family yesterday and it was awesome!!! It was my last time before I see them in person! How crazy! I already told my family what happened to me so this is going to be a short letter. I had a great week. Ivan Soto was confirmed and is doing great as the newest member of the ward. My companion is getting “trunky” because he goes home in a week.
I was studying this week the topic of “being” and “doing”. Both are important in the Gospel and we must always have a good balance of both. We must BE like Christ and then DO as he did. If we won’t BE but just DO, it’s like jumping into a pool without knowing how to swim and if we DO without BEING, it’s like being a professional swimmer but never jumping in the pool. So this week BE a little more like Christ and DO more Christ-like acts for those around you.
We had a baptism this week!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ivan Soto got baptized. He is the one that got married last week. Now the whole family are members and are preparing to go to the temple a year from now. The baptism was great. Ivan was very excited and every family member bore their testimony and was crying saying that they have prayed for so long for this and finally the day has come. It was very special. For four years, missionaries have been trying to get him to commit to baptism but he never made the move to get married. So we were the blessed missionaries that were here at the right time.
Another cool thing that happened this week was that in a big Zone Conference I saw my old companion from Conchali, Elder Muñoz. We baptized Rodolfo together. He told me that Rodolfo is doing great and that he is now a councilor in the Bishopric!!! That was so cool to hear. Not only is he active but also he is contributing in a big way to build up the church.
My companion has had a clogged ear now for about 2 weeks. So we tried an old Chilean technique that the farmers used to unclog an ear. A member had the idea and tried it on my companion. This technique is called a “cucurucho”. You take about 3 sheets of newspaper and roll them up to make a funnel. Then you put the small end in the ear and the big end you light on fire so it starts to burn slowly and sucks the air out of the ear. It makes popping sounds as the air is sucked out. It was so funny looking. However, in the end it didn’t work because it wasn’t a problem with air in the ear but a problem with liquid clogging the ear. So we went to the doctor today and they gave him medicine to try and solve his ear problems.
We also helped some members move this week and, lucky for us, they couldn’t take their couches with them. So they offered them to us and we gladly accepted them. We were so excited. So now we have two couches in our house that are of good quality. The weather has been great. It has cooled down but during the day it is at a perfect temperature. I am just hoping that it stays as warm as possible until July. Everyone says that the winters here are very cold. We will see. My companion Elder Wortham goes home in two weeks and is getting pretty “trunky” hahaha!! That’s it!