Monday, October 29, 2012

October 29, 2012--Week 14

October 29, 2012

Hey, Everyone!

We have had a really crazy week. It being the last week of the month, all of the districts were wanting interviews with their investigators for baptism, etc, trying to squeeze in the numbers. I hate the numbers. I think way more often than not they take the focus off of where the work should be. But I´ll get to that.

Biggest thing-- the baptism of Cristofer did not happen. Yeah. It was a rough Saturday. We had been working hard all week, going to different sectors of Talca, interviewing, helping the elders in our district who are really struggling, and trying to fit in time to plan the baptism, daily contact with all our good people, find news, etc. We had planned it all out and the whole ward was ready to attend. But the only clothes we could get for him would have been too big on me. We took them to their house at eight o clock Saturday morning and thirty minutes later got a call from the mom, Carolina, a recent convert, that they wanted to wait. Elder Conti talked to her and then we went to visit them to talk. It wasn’t just the clothes, she wanted to invite more people, make it really special, and he was feeling sick, and she was worried what the water would do for that?.... lots of stuff. We talked with them for a while but her mind was really made up. He had asked me to do the baptizing and I was really excited. Really nice, fun kid, good family. She was really nice to me, told me that they wanted to do it on Nov. 10 and that she wanted me to still be the one baptizing. I was upset that it wasn’t going to happen but, to me, I think it’s what they needed, so I was okay with it. Plus, the sister will now have more time to get ready and maybe be baptized with her brother.

So we have been working hard to fix things and plan better and work harder, etc. We spent two hours this morning planning during p-day and spent last night talking about how we can improve as a companionship. It’s going to start with communicating better and staying more focused.

So Saturday was a tough day. But Sunday went really, really well. Gave a really good talk I think-- Church is really tiring. We have to look out for all our investigators there—first, that they show and we call them and go by their houses, etc, then I play the piano, then I had to speak. But it went really well and the ward I think really likes me. My talk was on conversion, and I really made sure that I gave it well with a lot of animation and excitement for the work. We have a really good ward but we want to do even more with them, get more references, etc. We are having our first English class Thursday. We will see how that goes. My talk was based on Elder Hallstrom’s talk from April conference and the three ways we can deepen our conversion in the church AND the gospel. I think everyone understood what I was trying to say, and I think I got everyone really pumped up to help us out with everything!

Other stories from this week-- lots of contacting, lots of walking. Lots of Chilean ensalada--oil, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, sal. Nada mas. Pretty easy and really tasty. Lots of good soups, too, rice with carrot, had some weird pizza the other day from a member, etc. Fun stuff. We have been having fun, too. Our ward mission leader, Alejandro, is the best. After our hard start to Saturday things got better but that night, when we got home, waiting for us on our desk were two pieces of lemon pie from him. He has a key to our house because he lives next door and lived with the missionaries for a while when his house was destroyed in 2010 by terramoto.

Also another crazy story from this week-- while in La Independencia on a minmincambio with Elder Hernandez, we were in the home of a menos activo, and we were teaching L2, the plan of salvacion. We had just wrapped up and it had gone really well, when the police came to the door and asked if this was the home of Nico so and so. The lady we had been talking to, really nice, started freaking out, and running around and left with them. There had been an accident, and he had fallen off a bridge or something and drowned. 16 years old-- her little brother. We talked with the neighbors for a while, one of who is a recent convert, a good guy. The mom lives with them too, but she is really old and sick and no one told her what happened. She was in a different room resting so she didn’t hear, I guess. But we came back by later that night, after talking with the bishop, Relief Society president, etc. The room was all ready for a big meeting, and Paolina (the sister we had taught) was there, and crying. Elder Hernandez asked if there was anything we could do. Amazing that we had just been teaching about the plan of salvation and what happens after this life-- the son of Paulina, died eight months ago. She was really thankful we stopped by. And that’s the last I heard of it. Really, really sad. A reminder to us of the urgency of the work, and the importance of always being prepared for anything, spiritually. Elder Hernandez felt really bad walking away-- he said they had been planning all week to visit that family more but hadn’t made it a priority.

It’s so fun to hear from everyone, see some great pics, and hear about all the stuff goin’ on at home. Feels so different- it’s a completely different world here. I’m doing well, feeling healthy and eating pretty healthy, and the language is coming along more and more each day. I love Talca and it will be hard to leave-- hopefully that won’t come for at least two or three more cambios.

I love you all and miss you all! Keep working hard in everything and being good examples of Christ.

With love,
Elder Brown

Monday, October 22, 2012

Week 13!!

October 22, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

Good to hear from everyone. Bad news first: I have still not received any mail. Oh well. I’m not sure why, hopefully tomorrow. But they send it to Conce, which is three hours away, and then it has to come to us by the assistants or some other way. I just sent my first letter here to Allie; I was going to last Lunes but the place was closed for Feriedad or something like that, a holiday. Really a tough process--you have to go to a crowded post office every time, and Elder Conti never wants to, so I´ll send as much as I can but it may not happen too much.

I am starting to miss the good ol’ USA a little. It’s very different here. We met a very anti Norte Americano atheist that wanted to talk at us for about ten minutes about how everything bad is the US´s fault, how we are completely wrong in our beliefs, and how he knows Satan exists but God doesn’t. Strange perspectives...

Good news! After visiting the policia and the registro civil (imagine the DMV), I am now officially a temporary resident of the Republic of Chile. You can take that to the bank. It was funny, they were all really familiar with missionaries; they said 90 percent of gringos who register in Chile are missionaries. Ha ha.

A lot has gone on this week, and we have our first baptism coming up this Saturday! His name is Cristofer, the son of Carolina Batarse, a new convert. His sister is Mariapaz, she is still struggling. He is ten, and such a great little guy. Lots of fun. I think I have a picture of him on my bike that I’m sending. Also we have 12 new investigators-- six showed up to stake conference, which is way better than the two we had last week. It was nice to see some payoff for the week.

We have been walking a lot this week, and we walk really fast because we are always late. That’s what happens when we spend way too long in every cita. We have had some really good lunches with members, and some not so good. Ate some really weird pasta casserole, and then they made me eat seconds. Ugh. We eat pretty healthy, though-- a lot of fruits, vegetables, rice, and beans, also a lot of Coca Cola and juice.

We have lots of new investigators, and lots of people who reject us. We have a really great ward, all of who are really excited to help us, and to return to the English classes. I am giving a talk this Sunday on the work-- for 15 minutes. Hopefully that goes well. It’s important to have the ward backing you up-- all the best investigators come from them. I think this English class will help.

This morning we were watching the story of Gordon B. Hinckley and I really liked it. His life was pretty inspiring and his determination to try and be like Jesus is one that I am really trying more to take to heart.

Excited for another week here in beautiful Talca!

Hope all is well with everyone and that we get mail soon! Love you all!

Elder Brown


The missionaries have been teaching an English class to some of the members of their ward. Their flyer looked something like this:

Vamos a volver las clases de Inglés, para probar si ellos son eficaces.  ¡Estamos muy animados para dar esta oportunidad a los miembros del barrio y a MUCHOS NUEVOS INVESTIGADORES!
-          ¡¡¡¡¡¡Cuando en la Iglesia, vamos a obedecer TODOS los principios de la Iglesia- NO café, té, fumando, etc!!!!!!
-          Las clases van a comenzar 20:00 hrs AL TIRO hasta 20:45 hrs. ¡Sea puntual!
-          ¡Traiga un NO miembro! ¡Por CADA miembro presente queremos un no miembro también!
-          ¡Venga preparado para aprender y divertirse!
La primera clase va a ser Jueves, 1 Noviembre, a las 20:00 – 20:45. Si hay preguntas, aplique la siguiente-
´´¡Pregúntenles los misioneros!´´ - Élder Russell M. Nelson

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

October 15, 2012

Hola familia!

Estamos aqui en Talca Centro, y toda esta bien. Well, mostly bien.

We have a really good mission leader and bishop, though-- he loves to feed us. I have literally not eaten anything besides the lunches that the members feed us here for the past three days, and I still feel like I´m getting fat. It´s really rude if you don´t finish everything on your plate-- sometimes I feel like I´m going to die. I have had a few close calls. We had some bean soups last week that felt like we were eating buckets. And potatoes and mayonesa kill me now. But they have really good tomatoes and onions and lettuce-- really fresh, and the meat is always good. I attended my first asado-- a less active family invited us to their house Saturday and we proceeded to eat tons of meat and bread until I was about to die. Then they brought out a big bowl of ice cream for each of us. I finally manned that down and was seriously in pain. Then they brought out another. It was like Man vs. Food times ten. Seriously, after two years of this, those challenges he does will be easy.

The other day, I got lost for a second-- we were biking to who knows where, Elder Conti doesn´t really tell me the plan other than that in this block of time we are going to be contacting, so I was just following blindly when my chain came off. He was too far ahead, though, and couldn’t hear, so by the time I got down and fixed it, he was long gone. I just sat there and waited, said a prayer, and probably in three minutes he came back and started reprimanding me in Spanish. That made me a little mad, and what made it worse is that I couldn´t respond in Spanish enough to say it wasn´t my fault but it all worked out and we had a really good lesson right after that so whatever.

Elder Conti is really funny-- he is really, really bad with directions, and a lot of the time, out of nowhere, he will just start saying the funniest phrases in English. He has been singing this country song some Elder taught to him about, ´´Sara Beth is scared to death to hear what the doctor will say´´ about cancer or something. He just shouts it out—it’s funny. His favorite is to sing hymns with investigators. It’s fine with me—I’m starting to get beyond the point where anything is awkward.

We are having fun here-- there is a lot to do that doesn’t get done but I think that we have a good companionship and are gonna have a lot of success coming up, this week or the next. One of the hard parts about the mission is that most of the people who talk with us have a lot of really serious, really sad problems; it can be pretty depressing, especially when they won’t even test out the Atonement and our message.

Vaya con Dios!

Elder Brown

Monday, October 8, 2012

Another one! October 8, 2012

Zach was able to write TWICE on his first P-day in Chile, so for those of us who can't get enough: 

October 8, 2012, Part II

It is really cold in Chile right now-- it has been raining a lot, and I always just feel cold. Getting out of bed is really hard in the mornings because our linoleum floor is freezing. And I am on the top bunk AGAIN. When I am senior comp, I am definitely always going to take the bottom.

They have a lot of different food here at the stores-- they have this weird meat thing in a wrapping that is like spread. Tastes like refried beans. Not bad. They also eat a lot of manjar-- like dulce de leche. They also use a lot of weird words. ‘Al tiro’ is a really common expression. They add ‘po’ to a lot of stuff, don’t pronounce ‘s’ or ‘t’ very much, and they have funny phrases. We played a game with some cute little investigator girls, one that looks just like Sam Jacob as a kid, with black hair, where instead of ‘cookies from the cookie jar’ it was ‘who stole the sombrero of the maestro.’ Funny.

Everyone here likes to try and speak English with you-- they are all really pretty bad, but you just compliment them and tell them they speak very well and they get very excited and love you. It works. Ironically, I think that’s what they have all been doing with me and my Spanish.

The Chilenos are very, very friendly-- it is very easy to contact because you just say ‘Hola’ and people will say ‘hola’ back and it is easy to start talking. A lot of rejection, but we often meet people who want to learn more. We have had a few really rude people, or agnostic students, but they are definitely the exception.

There are a lot of good things to eat in Chile. So far the best thing we have had is some good pot roast-- but they always have good chicken, or pork once. Some good soup—really good bread but all the elders say don’t eat it. Rule of thumb in Conce mission-- if you don’t eat a lot of bread and don’t eat a lot at night after getting home, you will lose weight. If you do eat at night, you will stay the same. If you eat a lot of bread, you will get fat.

I'm really glad I have a native comp-- he understands everyone. It would be harder if he were a gringo and didn't understand everyone. He has only been in Talca for one cambio though. I think I will have at least two cambios here-- he thinks more. It would be great to spend my first six months in Talca Centro. The other areas around us are Cancha Rayada, La Florida, Jardin de Valle, Constitucion, San Javier, San Clemente, etc. But lots of people say Talca has been their favorite zone. It’s a bummer though-- I don’t like the bikes. I’d rather walk, talk with more people, and not get as muddy from the wheels and all that. We pay a less active lady from the ward to wash our clothes and then teach her -- win win!


October 8, 2012 (First letter from Chile)

October 8, 2012 (First letter from Chile)

¡Hola familia!

I am sitting in the upper level of a little mall in the middle of Talca, in an internet shop, and the computer is telling me that all of my words I am typing are incorrect. Ha. Joke's on them. THEY’RE NOT.

Super crazy week! Everything here is super great-- so, so different. I'll start with the very beginning-- I've heard that's a very good place to start. After talking with you for those two minutes in L.A., because of that stupid phone card, we boarded the plane and flew to Lima, Peru, where we had to disembark at two in the morning, then flew to Santiago, then to Conce. It wasn't that bad, except for that everyone around us was watching movies and it was very hard not to look at all of that Babylonia garbage. But it was fine-- we barely made our flight in Santiago, our bags barely tambien. But it all worked out and we finally got there. We were met by the assistants, the President and his wife, and the two senior couples, the Clawsons and the Kimballs. The Kimballs are getting trained and will be with us for the next year and a half.

We drove from the airport in Conce, relatively small, to the mission office, where they quickly started all our visa work and we had a quick interview with the President. He is very nice, and very easy to understand in Spanish. He really sounds like a gringo. We kinda hung around there for an hour or two while everyone got their visa stuff figured out. Then we went to the chapel in Conce and met all the trainers and ate Domino's Pizza and jugo. Then we had a brief testimony meeting, met our trainers, and peaced out to get to work!

Elder Conti is great! He is from Paraguay-- he was a professional soccer player there before the mission, is a qualified computer programmer, his polola (girlfriend) is a professional tennis player there, and his dad is a general. Elder Conti is district leader, and I am his first hijo. Oh-- and he speaks zero English. So we had about a three and a half hour ride up to Talca on this super hot bus, and when we finally got here at about eight went straight to work! My first lesson was to Carolina, a recent convert, and her two children, Mariapaz, 17, and Christopher, 10. It was great-- we taught the kids about the first lesson and they have baptismal dates for the twentieth of October. More on that to come.

Chileans don´t speak Spanish. In the mission office, I was feeling really good about myself-- there were two elders there from Peru and Guatemala that I could really converse with, and all of the other gringo elders had no idea. But depending on the person out here, it sounds like they are just mumbling vowels. They don't pronounce words PARA NADA. But I have been learning fast-- it helps that we speak next to no English. Elder Conti this morning while we were doing exercise started yelling at me 'for kor' or something-- with further searching I discovered he was trying to say 'fourth quarter como los jugadores de futbol americano.' Funny guy.

But since then, we have done a lot. We get up at seven-thirty each morning, exercise until eight, then study until twelve, then eat lunch with a member, then work, then come back at ten, plan for a half hour (which usually takes us more like an hour), then go to bed at 11:30. Busy days. We have a lot of lessons, but they fall through a lot. We are teaching Claudia Mundaca, but she has problems with ley de castidad. Christopher is super ready-- but Mariapaz is having lots of problems. We do a lot of contacting-- my first full day here we found a great family who we gave an LdM and taught the first lesson, but haven't been able to get back to. I think tomorrow night.

Hardest parts so far-- I can speak and say most of the things I want to say really well, and I feel like people understand me. I can understand now most of the Chileans, but sometimes there are a few that are really hard to understand. Most of them are super impressed with how well I speak, though, so that’s promising. Talca is super poor by American standards-- just streets of dirt, little houses with walls thrown up and stuff. Most people have tv, though, so they aren’t that badly off. We have had some great lunches with members-- they just stuff you full and we basically eat nothing for the rest of the day. Always starts with ensalada, then soup, then arroz y pollo, or some other meat, then a dessert. They eat mayonesa with EVERYTHING. Our sector is pretty big-- we have bikes-- my bike is super broken, the seat doesn´t work, the handle bars are twisted weird, the pedals are weird-- I spend most of my time just trying to keep up with Elder Conti. But we have had lots of good times. Our house has a study room, a little kitchen, a little bathroom, a little bedroom, and that’s it. It is pretty rundown. We cleaned this morning though, so now it’s a little better.

We were contacting and came across a little girl who Elder Conti thought was a member named Alison. The family wouldn´t let us in that day, but she stood there at the door and just pleaded with us to come back. 'Por favor, por favor.' It was the most heartbreaking thing I've ever seen. She can't come to church because she has no one to go with, and she is just in a bad situation. But we are going back on Friday I think. It´s so sad to see these people that need the gospel so badly but won't accept it. Really hard to watch, but I am really starting to love the people of Talca-- I never want to leave this sector!

Missions are much harder than I have ever given them credit. It is hard to be among all these poor, suffering people, but still be rejected. It is depressing seeing all the abuse, alcohol, and broken families, and all the evil out here. But I can't wait until we baptize Christopher and Mariapaz, and their Mom can finally get a little more peace. Anything broken can be fixed-- and I am starting to see that here with the families of Talca.

I love a verse from Jacob 2:8-- this was shared with me by a great friend from the MTC. Any wounded soul can be healed by the word, the scriptures, the hope it brings, the light and forgiveness. Interesting to note that one of the names for Christ is The Word.

We played some futbol with the zone this morning and then went to a fast food place-- I ate my first completo. Huge hotdog. Lots of mayo, avocado, y tomato. Not too bad. We are grocery shopping today, and all that. I'll try to send pics next time, but I’m not sure how that works. I hope everyone has a great week! I love you all! We are hard at work here in the best mission in the world!

Elder Brown

Friday, October 5, 2012

Elder Brown has Arrived!

Our very favorite Elder Brown, with President and Sister Humphrey. 
Elder Brown arrived safely in Chile on Tuesday, October 2.