Tuesday, December 24, 2013

December 23, 2013

This is Zach's Mom writing. Zach didn't really send a letter this week because we were mostly just coordinating our Skype session on Christmas morning (exciting!) but he sent some fun photos...
Saying goodbye to his Tome companion, Elder Rhodes. Sad stuff!

Hello, Chiguayante! There's a pretty river running through town (behind him).

His companion, Elder Solari, from Uruguay, on the far right. He has one month left. His former companion, Elder Durrant (left of Zach), "his son" (since he trained him). And Elder Durrant's companion on the far left, Zach's "grandson," since Elder Durrant (his son) is training him. All four live together in an apartment. They are having a great time!

Playing soccer today with the Concepcion Zone. In the Chiguayante Zone and the Concepcion Zone, there are only 3 hermanas total, which is highly unusual.

Monday, December 16, 2013

December 16, 2013

December 16, 2013

Hey Everyone!

It has been a great week. We had seven recent converts come to church and four less actives, so the work is going well there. I think that in my time in Tome I’ve really been able to help a lot of people and feel the spirit and grow in a lot of different ways. I am very excited to apply all that I have learned here as I head out to Chiguayante tomorrow! I will be with Elder S from Uruguay; he was comps with Elder R before and seems to be a great guy, so I’m excited for that. I’m leaving the zone in a good place, which I’m happy for, but I wish that the work in our sector was going better. We are still struggling to find some good people. 

I am happy for what I have learned with Elder R. He has been a great example and really helped me grow, I think, in a lot of ways. And aside from all the tough times here, I think that I have had a good effect on the missionaries, which makes me happy. Our district leaders seem like they have grown a lot, and that’s great to see. 

Maybe the most important growth I have seen here, though, is in myself. I have learned to be more direct, trust in the Spirit more, be a better example, and use every opportunity to do what the Lord would. I have learned a lot and it’s been a real shaping time in the mission. I’m so excited to go and apply all that and keep progressing out in Chiguayante! 

Here are some fun pictures of Chilean life. It has been a weird Christmas season, with definitely less emphasis on the commercialism this year. Maybe it’s just a Tome thing but there aren’t many lights, and it still hasn’t really hit, which is a weird feeling, especially with it being so nice out on the beach all the time. Livin’ the life out here in Chile!

So pray for all us missionaries and for the work here! Hopefully all the cambios go well tomorrow and we will see y’all next week!

Elder Brown

Pretty exciting baptism of "my main man" Fabian

The graffiti says Tome is again ZB. How sad!!

Pretty awesome tie we found at the Fam Ortiz!

What a talented zone!

The Tome Zone

The sisters are spelling out "Tome"

Zach is beautiful Dichato

Monday, December 9, 2013

December 9, 2013

December 9, 2013

It has been an interesting week. Fabian got baptized finally! He was super happy, and his family all came! He is going to be a great missionary someday. 

We have been seeing progress in the zone, as well. It’s amazing what a good direct talk with the leaders can do--I was able to have a good study with one of our district leaders, and the attitude really changed. We are going to start having a lot more success from it. 

I have been really trying to stay focused all the time, to remember the importance of every little thing we do. Someone always sees our example, and the results of our actions. If we ever betray that trust living or doing or saying things that don’t correspond with what we want to be or portray, it can take a long time to rebuild that reputation. So I am trying to be that exact example of obedience, animo, humility, and kindness with firmness that I know that the Savior expects from me. 

We have been working with Claudia, the wife of a less-active member from my old sector in Penco a lot. She is a great mother but we need to help her follow through with her desires and get to Church! And then her family will follow--in the end it all starts with the Mom.

It is interesting to me that it is almost Christmas. When you’re still waiting for the snow to fall, it doesn’t really feel like Christmas at all. I guess in the misison it all just feels the same, we have that same focus on Christ year round. That is such a blessing, and it’s amazing the progress we experience from that. Testimonies build, and our desires to be good turn into actions, which is really the important thing.

We are having fun and seeing the effects in our members, less-actives, recent converts, and investigators! I hope you are all finding ways to spread the love of Christ to all those around you!

Elder Brown

Elder Brown and Elder Rhodes amazed at another enormous lunch provided by Domingo

Fabian's baptism

Fabian with Elder Rhodes and Elder Brown

The mission olympics, which completely failed because no one from the ward came

Jumbo asparagus, Maggie's worst nightmare

Crazy huge hamburger lunch from Domingo

Hermana Maggie made the elders chocolate chip cookies but possibly without any brown sugar but still very delicious

Always too much food!!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

December 2, 2013

December 2, 2013

Hey, Everyone!

It’s been a good week! We have had some great baptisms in the zone, and it has been neat to see the changes in the ward! In testimony meeting yesterday, some of the members got up and said some really nice things about us as missionaries, that we had helped them--it is always great to hear that, since the nature of being a missionary is that we don’t always see the real fruits of our labors right there. 

I have been thinking a lot about just how simple the gospel really is. It really is just love God with all your heart, might, mind and strength; and love your fellow man. It really includes everything else in there, all the other commandments and things we do, the ordinances and covenants just really fall into place with that one biggie. I was reading a part in the Bible about the Athenians that would listen to the apostles but, as soon as they realized there was nothing new, they lost interest and rejected them. It happens a lot; but the crazy thing about the gospel is that it’s just that simple, and that’s what makes it so amazing. It’s just about how deeply we apply those simple concepts that we begin to see truly intricate and complex blessings in every way.

These are the questions that always help me be a more devoted disciple of Christ:
How much faith do I really have?
How repentant am I really?
How focused am I on the ordinances, and how much respect do I have for them?
And how devoted am I to keeping my covenants?

Right there sums up the gospel, I think. Applying those is what brings the Spirit and changes everything, makes it all run nicely and brings the blessings. 

Looking forward to a great week, having a great time here in Tome! Say hi to everyone!