Wow, it's really strange changing your thoughts from one language to another. I never thought I'd be able to speak another language, but now that I can, I can see the true miracle that has occurred in my life.
The other day, I was reading a talk by President Kimball about missionary work, and he taught specifically about examples of great missionaries (like Wilford Woodruff or the missionaries in the Book of Mormon) who baptized thousands and taught with true converting power. So, the other day I jotted down my goal for the mission. The goal is as follows, though it's in Spanish (I copied it from an email I sent to my mission president): :)
LA META: Bautizar y Confirmar a 1000 personas en la misión.
LOS DATOS: Tengo 11 meses en Chile, llevo 11 bautismos. Estoy trabajando a razón de 1 bautismo por mes, o sea, al final de mi misión debo tener 22 bautismos.
EL PLAN: Tengo que aumentar mi eficacia en la obra; me faltan 989 bautismos por 11 meses = 89.9 bautismos por mes = 12.8 bautismos por semana.
1 Familia = +o- 5 personas, o sea, necesito bautizar a 2.6 familias cada semana.
El método más seguro = referencias de miembros. 1 de 2 de cada BUENA referencia se bautiza (más o menos), entonces cada semana necesito 5.2 buenas referencias de familias dadas por miembros.
LA CONCLUSIÓN: Necesito un milagro. Tengo que trabajar más eficazmente con los miembros y darles el mismo deseo de bautizar como yo lo tengo.
Babel fish translation of goals:
THE GOAL: To baptize and To confirm to 1000 people in the mission. THE DATA: I am 11 days old in Chile, I take 11 baptisms. I am working at the rate of 1 baptism per month, that is to say, at the end of my mission I must have 22 baptisms. THE PLAN: I must increase my effectiveness in the work; I need 989 baptisms by 11 months = 89,9 baptisms per month = 12,8 baptisms per week. 1 Family = +- 5 people, that is to say, I need to baptize to 2.6 families every week. The method more surely = references of members. 1 of 2 of each GOOD reference baptizes (more or less), then every week I need 5.2 good references families given by members. THE CONCLUSION: I need a miracle. I must work more effectively with the members and give the same desire them to baptize as have I it.
I hope that Google translator does a good job with my goal for the mission. :) So how is my amazing family doing? I hope that everything is well! I'm sending some pictures of what has happened this week. Elder Brandau did a reenactment of Joseph Smith translating the Gold Plates with Elder Madrigal as his scribe. That was pretty fun. We also saw sea lions! They were super close to our apartment, so we stopped by to take pictures. One of them almost ate a person who tried to touch it. That helped us to keep our distance. We also went bowling this week, the first time in over a year! It was pretty fun. We went after the huge group of missionaries left, so we had a nice, relaxing game for our P-day. It was tons of fun.
But of course, the greatest part of missionary work isn't what we see but what we feel; it isn't in the pictures and can't be communicated by words, but it is in the love that we have for the people here in Chile, the pure love of Christ and the joy that can only come as we learn to do the will of our Father in Heaven. We have been working hard for the past few days, and we have had tons of success.
One neat experience that I had is that we had a mission audit Thursday and Friday! I was pretty stressed at first to make sure that everything was alright, but when Hermano Suazo arrived from Santiago, it was actually kind of awesome to learn and to see how much I have learned as the mission financer. I finally understand accounting! It is not as bad as I thought, though I still prefer the hospital...
I think the greatest accomplishment is that we can now leave the office at 1pm in the afternoon, eat lunch, and go to our sector without worrying if we left something undone in the office. It is a great blessing from our Heavenly Father. In the audit, Hno Suazo told me that our mission was far ahead of the other missions in Chile with lots of what we are doing. We are also one of the only missions under the pre-determined budget for the year. Hno Suazo took lots of pictures to show to the other missions to help them archive documents and work with the many aspects of mission finance. There are a few things that we need to do to improve, but it's mainly just to protect ourselves if someone comes in claiming that we haven't paid a bill or demanding money (which happens quite frequently, actually), or to prevent us from paying a bill twice.
Right now in the mission, we have a goal for each companionship to have 4 baptisms and 10 re-activated members by the end of the year. It's been pretty difficult, and though at times we may get discouraged, I have found that our Heavenly Father always helps us help ourselves. One day this week, all of our appointments and plans had failed, and we just ended up knocking on doors and talking to people in the streets. By the end of the day, we just sang to peoples in their door and on the street, and though we didn't have any lesson, we could not feel discouraged or defeated because the spirit was with us. It was a neat experience.
Well, I hope I haven't rambled on too long. I just want you to know that I know that the Church of Jesus Christ, the only true and living church that can give us the gift of eternal life, is here in the world today. There are prophets and apostles that guide us in this great work. No man has given me this knowledge but my Father in Heaven, who always watches out for me and helps me in times of need.
Thank you so much for your prayers and your faith. I really do love being a missionary, and I can feel the importance of this call I have been given. This is God's work, and the greatest blessings come from dedicated service to Him.