Wednesday, November 28, 2012

November 26, 2012

November 26, 2012

Hey everyone!

Sounds like everyone is doing really well and had a great Thanksgiving weekend!

Hard week this week in Talca. We have lost a lot of our investigators. We need to find a lot more people, through references from the ward, checking old investigators. We are in for some long afternoons and some long weeks ahead, I fear. We don’t really have any great prospects for December, besides Sandra. The future is as bright as our faith, as Pres. Monson dice.

For Thanksgiving, we ate soup. A little depressing. We have eaten a lot of artichoke and fried fish this week, strangely.

Saw a kid in the streets of Chile this week with a Duke shirt on! “Duke Basketball: It’s worldwide.” If you didn’t get that... repent. Ha ha, broma. Look it up on youtube.

Well, I think that’s about it for this week. Write me with questions; the days are really just starting to blur together here. I don’t always remember what to write. But we are doing relatively well, pushing forward, and I am learning a LOT about what we will change in the future, like patience, charity, having optimism, and moving forward with faith; also about the kind of missionary I want to be-- focused on my purpose and ready to walk the walk, not just talk it.
I like a quote that I saw in relation to the story of John Tanner, an early Mormon. An apostle, Neal A Maxwell, said that ¨Consecration is the only surrender which is also a victory.¨ Important to remember.

Love you all and send my regards to everyone!

p.s. I got some letters this week-- the latest was from Oct 20, I think. Got one from Ben-- how is he doing? I’m also sending some letters today-- to Allie, Tom and Cars, and Ben. What’s the news with all of them?

It’s hard to be here right now, thinkin’ about the holiday season. Easier when we are working hard and focused on the investigators. We helped Alejandro Sanchez hang some ornaments and stuff in his house-- and everyone has their Christmas stuff up. Should be lights on the houses soon! Fun stuff.

And just some silly photos... 
(An investigator gave him a boxing glove)

"I wear many different hats as a missionary."

Monday, November 19, 2012

November 19, 2012: Darth Elder

November 19, 2012

Hey everyone!

We have been working really hard this week. They don’t really do Thanksgiving at all in Chile. But I will celebrate by myself if I have to.

We had a good, busy week with lots of appointments and new people to teach. I played the piano in the ward conference for the choir.

Good to hear about Duke basketball, thanks, Dad! Sweet that they beat Kentucky. If they win a natty champ while I’m gone, voy a matar un perro.

We have been working with menos activos all week and trying to get our baptisms! We hope to be baptizing Sandra this week! She was a reference from a member; she has had a stroke and she has a hard time walking. The baptism will be interesting-- should be a good week!

Right now I am with Elder Rhodes of Garland, Utah; Elder Conti went to Chillan for the day. We played some soccer this morning, but all in all it’s been pretty quiet here in Talca Centro this week. Not as hot this week, which was nice. But I think we might have a couple of long months in our future of hot and dusty days. Huzzah!

Starting to feel like I can really understand everyone, contribute well as we teach, help with all the stuff, voice my thoughts in Spanish, and, all in all, it’s really coming together. Weird to think that Christmas is right around the corner. Should be good.

Love you all and mande mis saludas a los de Duke! I’m going to try and write some letters today to Tom and Cars and Allie, that I’ll send next week, I think. We have to go to Cancha Rayada tonight to work! Elder Rhodes only has one more cambio than me in the mish-- he isn’t great with Spanish either--tonight should be lots of fun!

Also this week we had our Ward FHE-- lots of fun. We played a scripture chase game which was fun and ate some goodies we made. Elder Conti and I spent two hours that morning making a bunch of rice crispy treats out of corn flakes (no rice crispies in Chile) that the ward loved. The recipe is secret. It’s our go to--super easy to make.

I think we are going to try to play some tennis next Monday! Also, I want to try and make some chocolate chip cookies. I miss good American food. Ugh. For Thanksgiving, Grandpa is eating turkey for me, Grandma is eating pie, Rachel is eating vegetables I think--I need someone else to take care of the rolls, potatoes and gravy obviously, and whatever else good stuff there is. Add mayonnaise and oil to any of that and it becomes Chilean!

Lots of love,

Darth Elder Brown with Vicente

Monday, November 12, 2012

November 12, 2012 (Week 16)

November 12, 2012

Hey folks!

Well, here we are in Talca Centro. Elder Conti y yo. Got our cambio noticias this morning! And... we are staying in Talca Centro. No surprise there. I´m really glad I get to hang around here for Christmas with this great ward and with Elder Conti! Even if it is getting hot in a hurry.

We heard about the elections on Wednesday from an hermana in the ward. One of our worse almuerzos-- she didn’t know we were coming. We ate tuna with tomato and pan, with a little rice. Starving for the rest of the day. Her house is just kind of a dark place-- kids are all living a tough lifestyle, she is separated, just feels dirty. And she just dropped it on us that 'el negro salió´(todos Chilenos dicen eso en vez de Obama). The rest of the week we have been answering questions about which I wanted and what I think and all that. We aren’t supposed to talk about politics at all so I just bite my tongue and say they both had good and bad things and kill the subject. Sad stuff, though. Sorry, Mom.

We had another baptism this week! Of Cristofer—finally! It was great-- his ENTIRE family was there-- like twenty Chileans running around in the capilla, none of them members. Wahoo for referencias! We have been working hard with the ward, as well-- trying to really make the work here in Talca a joint effort with everyone. I did the baptizing-- it was neat to pull out the ol’ blanca ropa and give the prayer in Spanish. He was really excited, and I hope he really stays strong in the Gospel all through his teenage years. Life is rough in Chile for the jovenes.

We have been working hard with investigators, as well-- we updated our big map with names of all our investigators and futures and members, etc., to help us plan our days more effectively. We are working better as a team, Elder Conti and I, and I am getting better at just relaxing a little and letting the work happen. It’s frustrating when we don’t meet our goals when we had planned well, or when we spend too long in a house, but it’s better to be charitable and always demonstrate amor than to let that frustration show. I have been working on that.

Had a minicambio with Elder Hernandez, one of our zone leaders, this week. He is from Peru and he is an excellent missionary. A great example for me. Very punctual, very good at controlling conversations, and he teaches powerfully and gets results. He taught me a lot about accountability-- how every goal we are accountable for, if we don’t meet them, and will feel pesar if we don’t get them. Also about planning better and getting more done. Fun guy, too.

We have been working hard and having a great time. I love Talca Centro-- the time is flying by, I can’t believe we are close to halfway through November! Wow! It’s a little sad to think of all the great family and friends and food and relaxing I’m missing at home but we are going to have a great Christmas with the ward, and I am learning so much, and I think am making a difference in many people’s lives. I hope at least a little.

Plenty of time to still enjoy the summer in Talca, love the sweat, the broken bikes, the fallen citas, the porotos, the huge lunches, the arta bebida (literally, my kidneys and liver and spleen and all of me are going to have huge health problems with all this darn Coca-Cola. I hate it), the people, the beautiful city, the good times with the ward and other missionaries!

I hope all goes well this week with everyone! Saludes a Alice, Ben, Tom and Cars, Hno Tonson, Bro Rogerson, Jordan and Han and Adrienne, and all the other Duke people!

Lots of love,
Elder Zach Brown

Elder Brown and Cristofer

Thursday, November 8, 2012

November 5, 2012

November 5, 2012

Hola Familia!

I finally got some letters in the mail! Always good to hear some good jokes from the Taylors. Gotta love the mix between a hippi and a hobo. Some great Elliot humor never fails.

So I have started taking notes during the week so that I can write better emails. Here goes. Monday- P-day. Our funds ran out. Unfortunately, we did not receive more until Thursday. After the initial panic of what we were going to eat, we planned it out, got our haircuts, and then went to a member’s house. They gave us a bunch of food, without us even asking, for us to take home. We spent the next couple of days eating these weird cheeto things with mustard. Miracles. Turns out that happened like three other times in the week. We still haven't bought more food.

Did a minicambio with Elder Carter, a zone leader, in Independencia on Tuesday. Talked with this lady who told us the year before her husband and her had been planning to kill themselves and their children because they had zero money and lots of problems. But they pressed forward and now they have baptism dates.

Visited a less active that had two references for us-- it was weird. We spent way too long in their house because he kept asking us to show them things and stuff, awkward. But he was a really funny guy, and he really loved Journey, and wanted to show me all the songs on his phone, and if I knew all of them. It was funny. The Chileans love the eighties and John Denver. I’m not complaining.

Halloween was cool here in Chile. The Chileans have super ghetto costumes they throw on, and everyone just goes to get candy. Lots of people think it’s really demonic. I accidentally asked some really good folks about it (adventistas) and they gave us weird looks. Elder Conti told me later they see it as pagan and I need to be more careful. Woops. Just trying to make some conservacion. But we spent the night in Cancha Rayada with an Elder Zach Broadhead from Bingham-- we met a couple that had gotten married at 13 and 15 years. Awkward-- but they now are preparing for baptism!

We have had some cool experiences with investigators, as well. Met Sandra, who is gold. She walked to church this Sunday, about a mile and a half, even though she has had a stroke and still has a hard time walking. Really amazing. We knocked the last door of the night, turned out to be a member, and taught her husband Raphael with her and gave him a blessing. We came back the next day and he told us after the blessing he felt way better and it was great. Super cool. He was at church Sunday, too.

We had our first English class at the church this Thursday. Nobody came. Awkward. Everyone asked about it after though, and we were just like, uh, yeah, about that. Everyone said it was probably because of the festival this weekend-- oh yeah, huge party week in Talca-- Dia de los Santos on Thursday, Friday, Sat, Sun., everyone was partying and stuff-- so we are going to try again next week, this time a little earlier. We will see.

We have been working hard with the members as well. We work a lot with the youth and try to match our investigators to people in the ward that can help them. It’s really important that we animate the members about the work-- they are SO important. But we go with Germaine, Gabriela, Pablo, los gemelos Kandalaft, etc. All really friendly and helpful usually. We called them once and all the member girls were watching 'Crepusculo' marathon-- Twilight. Funny how some things just don’t change. Speaking of things not changing-- testimony meeting in the ward. Lots of people with very long testimonies. The bishop had to cut it short, but Mamita Fuentes pushed by and bore her testimony real quick. Funny stuff.

But the big news of the week-- Claudia Mundaca got baptized! On Saturday. The baptism had a few problems but it worked and was very spiritual. She even brought a friend! I played the piano-- I play a lot here, thanks Mom-- and she was confirmed the next day. Good stuff. She gave us a scare and didn’t show up to be confirmed til like the second they called her up. Phew. After church we had a great lunch with the bishop of Mexi food and torta de panqueque, tons of manjar. He had one of those marble games that Grandma and Grandpa have in Oakley where you jump and take it away, and I did it with only two left. The bishop was really impressed. I told him Kristy or Mare or someone claims they did it to one once, but he didn’t buy it. Not sure I buy it either. We then went to this missionary activity for the young people of the stake, and taught workshops on missionary service; it went well and got them pumped up to serve and to share the gospel.

Today was great, as well-- we climbed up to the Virgin statue with both zones of Talca, and had a barbecue of churripan, and Hermana Pulsipher made us all Texas sheet cake. Soooo good. I miss good pastries/desserts. All they eat here is fruit with cream or manjar or alfahor-- not much with flavor.

This week we have the baptism of Cristofer coming up-- we have planned it really well and put out lots of invitations-- way more than usual. It’s really important to his mom, and there are going to be a lot of nonmembers there. Hopefully it goes really, really well! He asked me to baptize him, even though I have a really hard time understanding them. They talk really, really campo. But I am definitely getting way better. Comin’ along.

Feeling pretty good about everything! Having lots of good spiritual experiences! I hope that the elections go well-- excited to hear! I hope all is well with everyone, Allie, Ben, the Jacobs, the ward, Duke people, etc.! Sorry to hear about the hurricane--we have answered a lot of questions about the end of days this week. Even members don’t really understand here-- Chileans are very superstitious and have some weird ideas some times. Getting super hot here, too-- summer is going to be pretty tough. Good thing we have a nice rainy winter to look forward to!

To end, a funny story: The bishop asked me a question at the baptism about something. I was pretty sure he said, “What is Claudia's favorite hymn,” to which I answered, “41.” Grande eres tu. Turns out he asked what her full name was. Pretty sure not that. Ah.

Love you all! Have a great week!
Elder Brown