Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Week 2012!

December 24, 2012

Hey everyone! Feliz Navidad!

We are here, now with Elder Ulibarri from Salt Lake (sorta) in Talca Centro, and life is good!
And busy. Here’s what’s been goin’ on this week.

So on Monday, Elder Conti and I ran all around Talca visiting everyone important before he left
for Longavi. He left Tuesday morning and about forty-five minutes later Elder Ulibarri got here.
He is a smaller guy from the States, went to Westminster for a year before the mission. He has
about six months left in the mission, and is district leader. He is pretty serious but a really good
guy--we are being very diligent and obedient-- I am learning a lot of rules that I never knew
existed before in our mission. Ha ha. Woops. We are also teaching a lot-- this week has been
kind of a test to see how well I know my sector and how well I can work with it. We need to plan
a little better to spend less time on the bike, but that’s really hard to do, and it’s a process. But
with that we are gonna start havin’ a lot more success as well.

Lots of crazy things have happened this week, especially with the end of the world on the 21st.
We got so many questions about that that it was just a little bit disappointing when absolutely
nothing happened. Actually, Tuesday night we had a blackout in the whole region and our
neighbors started going crazy! But it was good stuff, and they came back on fast. We have had
a lot of fun introducing Elder Ulibarri to the sector, and lots of crazy experiences this week. You
can definitely tell a difference with a gringo comp.

We found a great family our first afternoon with Elder Ulibarri. Elder Conti and I had asked the
wife for directions and then the husband let us in and told us his whole life he had felt guilty
because he had been chosen to serve a mission for some church in Rwanda then had gotten
drunk the night before and missed his flight. We are really excited to keep working with them, a
really great family. It was about time.

We are kind of in a hurry, but it’s so great to hear from everyone. Love the pics, especially of
Sam and Allie! Lookin’ good, Sam! ...

Something sad-- I just got a letter that was rejected from the US that I had sent to dear Alice.
That was really sad. I sent it in October and just got it back, so I’m gonna start that process over
again. I am really excited to hear more about Allie´s call and all that, and when she is going to
the temple! I miss the temple. I don’t like thinking about the temple too much-‘ makes me
homesick and trunky.

Our main man, Javier, came to church yesterday! Awkward a little, kind of a weird dude, but he
wants to get baptized and it is gonna change the man’s life. Hopefully the ward can really work
well with him. Also the family of Pilar, who were gonna come to church but ditched us at the last
second, are gonna celebrate on the 25th with us. Hopefully that is fun. Hopefully she will come
to church next week!

One last activity-- On Sunday, we went to sing, us six elders, in a populacion for this less active
guy, Jorge Nunez. I played the keyboard an we sang two hymns, and then he wanted me to
sing one solo. I sang Silent Night in English and forgot the words to the second verse. So I just
sang that. "I don’t know the rest of the words, but Jesus was born and that’s really good," or
something like that. Oh, well. No one understood anyway.

Excited to hear about Duke! And what Tom and Cars are doin’ well! Send my regards to family,
the Jacobs, the Hammonds I guess, Ben, and all that!
Gotta go, but see ya tomorrow!

Feliz Navidad!
Elder Brown

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

December 17, 2012

December 17, 2012
Hey Everyone!

So we just finished up this cambio this week! We have been really busy working with the ward, biking all around Talca, Chile, to find all the members of the ward that have died or moved or lie to us and say they don’t live there any more... all that good stuff. The ward really appreciates us, and the bar is very high for us here in this ward. We have lots of room to improve-- I am looking forward to the opportunity to try out being companero mayor for at least a few weeks-- I think Elder Urubali, something like that, who is going to be my new comp, is going to be district leader here; he has about a year in the mission, I think. These seven weeks with him should be great.

I have gotten four packages I think-- one from the Taylors, one from Gma and Gpa, one little one from Mom, and a big one from Mom. I wrapped them all up so it actually feels a little like Christmas-- but not really because it is really hot, we don’t have a tree; it’s really different and weird. But we have lots of things to do and a lot of work so no time to miss home.

This Wednesday we had our mission conference for Christmas! It was pretty neat-- about 100 missionaries there, the half of the mission. President and Sister Humphrey spoke briefly, there were some special numbers, we watched the video of photos from all the mission they had made which was really cool and funny, and then ate and got our packages. Ate a ton of chicken, rice, gravy, banana, and an AMAZING brownie. Its been a long time since I’ve eaten something chocolatey. That tasted good, at least.

We had a good English class on Thursday-- We compared the Book of Mormon with the Libro de Mormon, reading a Christmas part, Helaman 14:5-8. One guy got really mad-- said he was there to learn English, not about the Mormons, but whatever. His loss.

Yesterday we had lunch with the bishop--our favorite lunch. He lives outside of Talca, and always takes forever-- we never get back before 4, and we are supposed to start working at 3:30. But oh well. Not really anything we can do about that. But his sister-in-law was there, from North Carolina! She is very Chilean and is not very good at speaking English, even though she has lived there for 20 years, in Fayetteville, go figure. But it was fun to talk to her.

Lots of funny stories too-- and miracles as well. Elder Conti, who gets really offended whenever anyone confuses Paraguay and Uruguay, and I were in a part of Talca where all of the street names are names of countries. I was teasing him about Uruguay, oh woops, Paraguay, and he said the next time I said something he was gonna hit me (joking of course). But the next person we talked to told us the person we were looking for lived in "the pasaje Uruguay.... woops, Paraguay.... ah, it’s okay, they’re the same." It was hilarious. We both started laughing, and the lady had no idea what happened.

A sidenote-- Elder Call, who used to be in this sector, is from Rock Hill, South Carolina. So there ya go, Tom and Cars. By the way-- hope finals went well for all those studious students! Allie, Cody, Tom, Cars, anyone else who is in school and happens to be reading this!

Also-- The Story of The Negrita
Elder Conti, about six weeks ago, ordered a jersey of Paraguay from a store near our house. The guy told him it would be ready in a week. We came back, he said it would be ready in two days. This has gone on for about the past six weeks, each time with Elder Conti getting more and more frustrated. About three weeks ago, I told him that if his jersey was there the next day, like the guy said, I would buy him a negrita, a really good cookie thing they have here in Chile. He said that the Spirit had manifested to him that his jersey would be ready. It wasn’t. So I told him he could wait to buy me my negrita until it came. It never came. So finally, here we are with my negrita.

We have had a lot of good lessons and seen a lot of changes in the ward and in ourselves, but one experience sticks out from this week. Before the English class we met in the chapel with a member and Felipe, the boy from the streets that has had a lot of problems with drugs and is homeless. We had given up on him a little because he didn’t show to help us do service. But they showed up, and we taught about faith. He was having a really hard time understanding-- he has clearly been pretty damaged by the drugs. But we invited him to give the closing prayer, which he eventually did, and as he was praying, he just started to cry. It was a really powerful experience, and even though he didn’t come to church Sunday, hopefully he will continue to progress.

Love you all! Feliz Navidad! 2 Ne 19:6. I think. Go Handel. I mean Nefi. I mean Isaiah.

Elder Brown

All the bread we got one day from families. Dont worry, the next day someone gave us some marmalade. Apricot (damasco).

That sign says avoid disturbances. Like missionaries.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

December 10, 2012--with photos!

Hey folks!

Welp. Another cambio is coming to its end. A short one, only five weeks, so that the elders who are leaving can get home before Christmas! Fun for them. A little sad for us. But we are going to have a great time with all the activities comin up with the ward and everything here in TC! 

It will be weird going back to school again after the mission, but definitely not any harder. The schedule on the mission really teaches you how to use your time wisely- one mess up in the schedule and literally nothing else goes as well as you would like. 

So let’s see. Lots going on this week in Talca Centro. We have had a lot of people who we thought were golden just completely go off the deep end. One called us completely drunk and I talked with him for about 5 minutes how he just loves us but has different views of the Word of Wisdom and convenios and all that. Good guy, but honestly, the Chileans can be pretty frustrating at times. Chismosos, mentirosos, orgullosos. But it’s great to find those that want to listen to us and change their lives. We have a few that we are visiting that are promising, but it is still early and we will see. Really it all depends on if they can have enough faith to try to go to church. If they can just go once they are gonna feel something special there, and that makes all the difference. 

It’s us and Jardin del Valle in our district now- we had a minicambio this week again, me with Elder Silva again, but this time in TC. He is pretty tough to work with. Very quiet direct, but a good missionary. Didnt have a lot of success with him. Didnt plan well enough, and didnt get all the visits we needed done. But this week should go a lot better. We have some investigators that should start to progress. Ill share about two of them.

Javier has talked a lot with missionaries in the past. He is a real nervous guy that suffers from panic attacks. Lives with his parents, he is almost forty. I think he has troubles with smoking. He has gone to church once, and he wants to be baptized, but he has a hard time going to church because it makes him really nervous. Which is sad. But we will work hard with him and pray that he can have the faith and courage to do what he needs to.

Felipe is a young guy that was in Church on Sunday with a member. She found him on the street and invited him to church. He has worked as a clown in the circus but got into drugs and now lives on the street. He is a good guy, but seems like he has a hard time understanding, and we are pretty sure he can’t read, although he says he can. We talked with him at church, then visited him in the members house later in the afternoon. We are gonna look for a job for him, do some service with him, and really just try to save this kids life. It’s possible, if he is willing to just do it.

But that’s how it is. It’s all there- people just need to ACT! Super simple- like lookin at a snake on a stick, but still, for pride, or malcomunicacion, or other things, people who honestly need what we have won’t do anything! It’s sad. But we do what we can. I am learning lots of patience and I think I have learned a lot about the balance we need as missionaries with Elder Conti. Fun, but spiritual. Direct, but loving. Focused on our purpose of bringing others to Christ and helping them receive eternal life, rather than the darn numbers. And more patience. And probably above all, humility. Poco por poco thats startin to come too. 

We have been fixing the ward records all week- updating them to all the people that have died, moved, the houses that no longer exist after the terramoto, and all  the menos activos that lie to us when we ask if they know the member.

While we were updating that, we realized that Rayen Concha, a less active daughter of Fabiola, our favorite lady who washes our clothes, hasn’t been baptized. We are working on that, but Fabiola is really strict that she won’t force her daughter to do anything and she doesn’t want us doing it either. So we have to tread really carefully there. Jose our golden investigator who won’t keep the word of wisdom and doesn’t understand repentance is living in a house of all guys who yell at us. Drunks. Awkward the lessons there. 

We are having a mission conference this week- should be really neat to see everyone! Hopefully I see Elder Shumway! Keep me updated on all the mission calls- Awesome that Steph Tidwell is coming here! I met an elder Riley Greenwood today, the son of Ann Perry, the daughter of Peggy Wheelwright today. Had no idea I had a relative in this mission. Whoda thunk. 

Say hi to Allie and Ben and Thomas and Carson for me- they're all great and I hope things are going well as they finish up their semester! Game time! 

Well, that’s all for now folks. Check in next week to find what happens to us in our next transfer. Should be interesting. 99 to 1 says that Elder Conti is outta here. Me- I’m guessin at least one more. Probably two or three. Cause that’s how I roll. Kinda scary- but exciting!

Have a great week!
Elder Brown

This is me in front of a weird rock church by our house. The sign says they are preparing the saints for latter days, and talks about the same organization, apostles, profetas, etc. They are called "Hijos de trueno." Like James and John. Boanerges. Ha ah funny stuff.

Me with my Christmas packages! I took the liberty of wrapping them on up.

Me and Elder Greenwood. Good guy. Good at soccer too. He was just here for the day- not really sure why. But cool! 

Monday, December 3, 2012

December 3, 2012

December 3, 2012

Hey, Everyone!

Sounds like lot’s going on... not a ton of time to write but we are working better here in Talca Centro! Had an inspection of our house today (passed with flying colors) -- and we played tennis, too! It was great. The courts were all dirt, and I don’t think we were supposed to be playin’ on them... but hey, tennis is tennis. Borrowed racquets from a member and played with Elder Skyler Smith from St. George. Good stuff. Fun stuff.

Our fridge broke this week as we were cleaning it. So...workin’ on that one.

We baptized Sandra this week! She was so ready and the baptism was great! Both of us were in the font to help her out--she has had a stroke, and she has a hard time moving.

One experience that really stands out this week is when we were on divisions with the ward. I was with one hermano, Cristian Chamorro, and we were trying to visit a less active. Couldn’t find him but I asked him if there was anyone else we could visit, and we totally found a good investigator. He was really excited and it was great.
I’ll try to share more experiences, but we don’t have a lot of time today between playin’ tennis and having that inspection.

Let’s see--we don’t have any really great investigators right now--lots that could be great but we are just starting with all of them. We are working really hard, though, to get a lot of them in the church so they can progress. I am getting’ the swing of things here in Talca Centro--Elder Conti thinks he is going to leave this transfer and that I’m going to train. Don’t think I like that idea--going to be even more stress doin’ that. But it’s whatever. Better to be focusing on that than missing everything that’s going on at home.

I have seen President like three times, I think? At conference, our interviews, and a training we had on Thursday. Good stuff. Nice guy. Seems really relaxed with everything, which is kinda how ya have to be in Chile, I guess.

So we have been working hard this week. I got a letter from Tom and Cars! Sounds like things are great. Good to hear from them. Classic Tom quote: 'Forget UNC anyway, am I right?' Ha ha. And Carson in religion class with his Buddhist teacher. I’m sure that’s been interesting. I sent a letter to them, too--should get there by the time I get back to Duke. Hopefully.

We got cussed out this week by a drunk in the street, yellin’ at us that we lied to his mother. He had a really long white beard. Basically we got cussed out by the Chilean Santa Claus.

(About the photos from Carson, Tom, and Allie)
Wow, classic photo of Carson with a HUGE beard. What a man. And James! Good guy. Send my regards to him, as well. And great photos of Allie—I’d love to know more about those guys she is with... Na, just kidding. Great Christmas photo of them. In plaid. Lumberjacks. Tom with the pumpkin! Ha ha good stuff. And Molly Culhane... what dance was that? Looks like it was a party. Looks like Cars Daddy trimmed the beard up for that one. Well... looks like all is going good out there. Are Tom and Cars gonna visit Utah this winter?

What else happened this week. Had a good training session all Thursday morning with the president. It was about how to teach more like Christ. I’m really confident in Elder Conti and my abilities in teaching. We are doing well. Just need to keep working hard. Had a mini change with Elder Silva from Santiago this week, in Jardin Del Valle. Super hard two days—lots of walking really fast--taught like three lessons total. Super hard. I learned a lot, especially about optimism and keeping the good attitude! Really essential to the work. Havin’ fun!

Have fun in Hawaii, too. Send my love to everyone! And Maggie, too, even though she doesn’t write me. Punk.
Heard you talked with Al Sanchez! Good stuff! Awesome! Love that guy. He alone will make it hard to leave TC. Give my love to everyone!


P.S. Tell Carson to shave the beard! That thing is ridonk. He looks like the Chilean Santa Claus that cussed us out.