Saturday, October 24, 2009

Mission Audit

October 24, 2009 (Sea Lions)

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.

¡Bautismo!

October 17, 2009 (English is difficult.)

Wow, it's getting harder and harder to think of words in English. I think that's a good sign, but it'll be a little awkward at Christmas time when we can call home! Here in Antofagasta, the work is flourishing, and the Lamanites are blossoming as the rose (D&C 49:24). It really is amazing to work among these awesome people, and not only to teach them but to learn from them and see what a great and chosen people they are. I am especially grateful for all that my companions and my leaders are teaching me. But don't worry; the pictures of me reclining with my Pringles and soda is just a joke; we just wanted to take a picture of the TV on the AP's desk to send to our mission president, as we are storing lots of things for the new missionary couple who will be arriving in December (like the TV, the recliner, etc.).

Leciram was baptized this last Saturday! It was awesome. The spirit is always amazing at a baptism, a feeling that cannot be felt anywhere else, except in the temple and in the home. One of the greatest miracle of this baptism is that Leciram's mom came! Leciram's family was super against our church (I think it's because of ignorance, like with many people, who just don't understand the teachings of our church) at first, and that was the main stumbling block for many months and why she wasn't baptized. However, it was a miracle, and I know that she will be an awesome member. And, we could see that the spirit touched her mother's heart also, as tears were streaming down her face as we ended the baptismal service. So, since her family lives in another ward, we're sending the missionaries to her house to teach her family, and I pray that everything goes really well!

We recently received a new focus here in the mission to baptize 4 people before the end of the year and to have 10 inactive members attending sacrament meeting every week. It's going to be pretty tough, especially since there are 2 companionships in our ward now and the goal is not 4 baptisms but 8, and not 10 inactive members but 20. But, I'm excited to get working to achieve the goal that has been set. It'll be fun!

How's everything in the house? It's always great to here from home! I love you all so very much, and thank you to all who have written me. I know I don't have too much time to write every week, but I do hope you all know how much I love you and want you to be happy! I have a strong testimony of the divinity of the work in which I am engaged. No one has given me this testimony except for my Heavenly Father, through His Holy Spirit. I know that the church is true, and this gives me such great peace and happiness in my life. I only pray and hope that everyone has the same opportunity that I have had to learn more about the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ that they too can have this feeling of love abide in them.

Thank you so much for everything. Stay strong, and know that our Heavenly Father is always there for us, and He hears and answers our prayers.

Chile is awesome, by the way. :) If you want some more crazy stories or things like that, you'll have to let me know. I'm all up for crazy stories -- it's part of the adventure of being in a foreign place and learning to love the culture!

I love you all, and you are always in my thoughts and prayers. Take care -- talk to you in 2 months! Wow... It's crazy how fast time flies by...

TGI Fridays

October 10, 2009 (Leciram is getting baptized!)

Thank you so much for writing. Mom, thank you so much especially for your hand written note. It was awesome. I really enjoyed reading about all the happening in the Hobbs house and reading your beautiful testimony. Gracias.

This week has been really awesome. There are now 4 missionaries in Antofagasta Centro, so we don't have to walk around in a three-some. It's really hard to teach the gospel with three missionaries instead of two. But now, Elder Rivas is my companion (AGAIN!) and Elder Brandau is training Elder Madrigal to be the secretary of the mission. Poor guy, he's going to have TONS of work and a huge headache for weeks as he gets used to his new assignment! :) But, it's been really great working here in the office and, even more, in our sector. Missionary work is awesome!

I'm sending a few pictures from this past Monday when we went to TGI Friday's both to celebrate Elder Shirley's 21st birthday and to say goodbye to the amazing Steeds that worked here in the office with us. Elder Steed was the commissary of the mission, and Sister Steed was the Historian. Now, Elder Rivas is doing both of those jobs, and he's going to start teaching Elder Madrigal as well. But, we have felt extremely blessed to have the companionship of the spirit and to be able to leave the office every day really early and work in our sector.

The other pictures are of a university in front of our apartment building. Jessica, don't you love the paint job they did? Isn't is awesome?

On Tuesday, we had a dinner at the Mission home to say bye to the Steeds. They will be dearly missed! They always served so well, and they are an example of faith and love. It has been so great working with them, but now they are in the States again. After the mission I want to keep in touch. They are so awesome. :) Now, we are going to have 3 or 4 missionaries in the office here until December, when another missionary couple will arrive to be the Commissary and Historian. We're looking forward to that day -- should be great!

Just so that you know, we do not consider ourselves office missionaries! We just happen to work in the office every morning. Our hearts and minds are always focused on our investigators in our sector. This afternoon, we have a baptism. Our investigator Leciram is going to be baptized! I am really excited for this baptism. Leciram is one of the most amazing investigators that I have taught, and she has a testimony that is super strong and pure. It is a joy to have taught her and see such a great miracle in her life, the miracle of true conversion.

In our mission, we have a goal to baptize 4 people and have 10 inactive members attending sacrament meeting in each companionship before the end of the year. That means that we have a goal to baptize 8 more people in our ward and have 20 inactive members re-activated. I'm excited to work towards this goal because I love to see the wonderful blessings that come into the lives of the people here as they learn the truths of the gospel and strive to know their Heavenly Father.

I love you all so much! There's tons to say but so little time... I hope you know how much I love you all. You are in my prayers every day, and I know that it will be a happy day when we can see each other again. Take care, and know that the Lord is always with us in our lives.

Conference was awesome!

October 5, 2009 (Luis Julio, an amazing young man.)

How's everyone doing? Life has been super great here in the mission. We've been working hard, and I can see all the fruits of our labors starting to bloom. It is awesome!

A week ago, we had a baptismal service for one of our investigators, Luis Julio. He is an amazing young man and will be a great missionary and member. I don't know why, but here in Antofagasta Centro we've been having a ton of success with boyfriends and girlfriends. Thought it was funny because I just remembered the phrases we'd use before the mission, things like "flirt to convert" and all that. :) However, these converts are amazing. We make sure that they have a strong testimony on their own and they aren't being baptized for their boyfriend or girlfriend. Luis has had a huge change of heart, and I just love seeing and hearing his testimony of the gospel!

This coming Saturday, we'll be having another baptism. And guess what? It's the girlfriend of a member in our ward! Her name is Leciram, and she is really awesome. She has one of the strongest testimonies and desires to learn that I have seen here in Chile. She always has tons of questions about her reading in the Book of Mormon, and she is even starting to understand Isaiah! I would call that progress, wouldn't you?

I really do love being here in the mission. Can you believe that the time is flying so fast? Before you know it, I'll be coming home, getting married, having a bunch of little bouncing babies, and our family will be huge! :)

This week, we're going to see lots of changes in our mission. There are lots of special transfers, and our threesome will disappear! I will still be companions with Elder Rivas, but Elder Brandau will start training a new Secretary for the mission and will be serving separately from us. So, we now have 2 companionships in our area. Yay!

Well, I really do love being here in the mission. Thank you for always writing and for your wonderful spirits and testimonies! I love my amazing family. Keep on being so awesome, and see you in a year.

Over the hill?

September 26, 2009 (1 year in the mission!)

Wow, can you believe I've been here in the mission for over a year now????? It's so crazy!

This week we have been working super hard and seeing tons of great results. One of those is the baptism of Luis Julio that we will have later on today. I'll be sending some pictures next week.

One of the sad things that will happen pretty soon is that the missionary couple in the office will be leaving in October. That is why Elder Rivas is with us to train with the Steeds and learn all of the tasks that he will have to do when they leave. We received an email that a new couple will be arriving in December, so at least we have a new hope that the Steeds will be replaced. But even so, they will be dearly missed here in the office and in all of the mission!

The work here in Antofagasta is going great. I sure am learning a ton, and I feel so privileged to serve my Heavenly Father every day. I know that He has blessed me with lots of talents, and I only hope that I can serve him well and do what he what have me do here in Chile. There really are lots of people who are prepared just to hear my words, to feel of my testimony, and it is a great blessing to find and teach these people. In this same way, I know that the Lord is blessing and preparing people for each one of us, and I only hope and pray that we are ready and willing to help in this great cause. Yay missionary work! :)

Well, I really am not sure what else to say. How is everything going back at home? Please let me know if everything's okay. You already know that I love being here in the mission. I have met some of the greatest people, and I have really learned to love the Chilean people. Today, we have the baptismal service of Luis, and we will have a special musical number: "Cuando me bautice". Luis's girlfriend's family is also preparing a special musical number, the one from D&C 18: "Cuán grande su gozo será". It should be great. I wish you could be here to see all of our awesome investigators! It is such a blessing to be with them, to teach them, and to help them to be happy.

Well, I think that's about it for today. Sorry I don't have any new photos; I think I sent enough last week. :) Oh yeah, make sure you don't post any of our mission president on the internet where he could be embarrassed. I wouldn't want that to happen...

Thanks for everything! I love you all so much. Take care, and know that you are always in my prayers!

Independence Day (for Chile)

September 29, 2009 (Fiestas Patrias)

This week, I decided to just send a ton of pictures because I took a ton of pictures. It was an awesome week. The greatest miracle that happened was the baptism of our investigator, José Vidal. The baptismal service went really well, especially the music (Élder Brandau played the piano, I played the viola, and Élder Rivas sang "Families can be together forever"), and it was super spiritual. José was married in the morning and baptized in the afternoon. His new wife told me that she has only see José cry two times in their time together: when their daughter was born and after his baptism. It was awesome.

This week was also great because it is the beginning of Chile's Fiestas Patrias, or basically independence day. It is celebrated mainly the 18th of September when Chile started to gain it's independence from Spain's rule. It isn't really independence day, but it's celebrated this week. It's tough for proselyting purposes, but there is an abundance of food. In Chile, there's an average weight gain this week of 3.5 kilograms, or 7.7 lbs. Awesome, huh?

For our festivities, we called the mission president's wife and invited her to her own house for a barbecue. :) We (Élder Rivas, Élder Brandau, me, and the assistants - Élder Romero and Élder Shirley) went over the mission house and had a bunch of activities, like an obstacle course, bag races, coin tosses, etc. We watched a cultural event on DVD when the Santiago Temple was rededicated and learned a lot about the Chilean culture (and their national dance, the Cueca), and we ate a ton of meat. I'm sending a bunch of pictures from our little activity also. It was tons of fun! Today, we're going to be heading off to our ward party, so it should be great.

Our work here in the mission is going really well, and I'm especially grateful to be working again with Élder Rivas, my good friend. I really do love being here in the mission and all the many experiences I have had.

How's everyone doing at home? Is Jacob ready to be 22????? Wow, time sure does fly fast. :) I'm going to be sending a card to mom and dad's house because I don't have Jacob and Shauna's address.

I love you all so much! Let me know how everything is back in Albuquerque. My family is so amazing. Keep up being so amazing, and I'll see you in 1 year! (Can you believe that I'll complete 1 year in the mission in a week? Crazy!!!)

Armadillo friend

September 12, 2009 (Flea's)

Wow, I love life. Isn't is just amazing? We've been working a ton here in Chile, especially in the office. This week, we change our entire office system to one on the internet. It's super powerful and awesome! We have direct access to all the databases in Salt Lake, so if we need any information about missionaries we have it. It's great for me especially because it makes payments super easy. Before, to make any payments to missionaries or anybody else, President Urra had to be in the office to put in his password and send the money electronically. Now, he can access this program from anywhere, as long as he has internet access, and approve payments. Yay!

Other than life in the office, work is great. I'm sending some pictures, before I forget, of Antofagasta and where I live. One is of me posing on my bed with my Armadillo friend, who was a gift from Hermana Urra for my birthday. I am also sending a couple photos of our apartment building (we live on the 12th floor) and of our office building, which they are finally repainting!

Thank you so much for your letters! When I was reading dad's letter about his fireside/spiritual thought at Turkey Creek, I read "FLEE" and thought it was kind of funny because it's a word I've been thinking of a lot. But, my spelling is a little different. I've been thinking "FLEA" (or "Pulga") because there sure are a ton here in Chile! I've been spraying my bed with bug killer a lot, but it still seems like I have more and more flea bites every day. Oh well... I'm kinda used to it by now... The other week, I counted the flea bites just on my stomach and back, and there were over 70! Awesome, huh? ;)

Okay, maybe that's something that mom really doesn't want to hear. But don't worry. The fleas don't bug me too much any more. I'm not too itchy (unless I start scratching my stomach) because I'm pretty much used to it by now. I think it's a thing about Antofagasta because I didn't every get flea bites in the other cities.

Onto other news! We're getting ready for transfers again, and in 2 transfers our senior couple is leaving the office! It's pretty sad, but the worst part is that there aren't any other couple missionaries assigned to our mission yet. So, we're fighting with Salt Lake for more, and in the mean time another missionary will be assigned to the office to learn the duties of the senior missionaries. They assigned my previous companion - Elder Rivas! It's gonna be really great working with Elder Rivas here in the office. (But you can't tell him because he doesn't know just yet). He was my companion in Copiapó and one of my really good friends in the mission, and he was also companions with Elder Brandau (my companion right now). Now, we're all together again, and we're all gonna be working in the office. It'll be great. :)

We are seeing tons of miracles also in our proselyting sector. The work is progressing, and we have another baptism this Thursday! I sure do hope and pray that everything goes well with this baptism. Our investigator is José Vidal. He is a great person, and I'm pretty excited for his baptism. He has been coming to church for over a year now, and he's finally going to get married the same day of his baptism. I'm pretty excited for all of it!

I sure do love the work here in Chile. It's really tough many days, kind of like an emotional roller coaster. But, the experiences that I'm having right now in the mission are truly amazing. I am loving every second. Know that I love all of you and think about you a lot! I hope all is well and that you are happy and healthy. Make sure to write!

Hypothermia?

September 5, 2009 (Baptism in cold water)

¡Hola! ¿Cómo están todos? ¿Cómo anda la vida allí en Albuquerque?

Let me tell you, I'm pretty jealous about your new pursuit in the wilderness of Turkey Creek right now. You have to send some sweet pictures of all the fish that you catch and the great meals you make there in Colorado. I'm sure it's going great!

Let's see, what's new to tell you? Oh yeah, we had a baptism! (see the pictures attached). The baptismal service was to start at 5pm last Saturday, so we got there a little early to fill the baptismal font (there wasn't any hot water, so it was nice and cold!), and I had to get changed. At 5pm, Erika Oblitas, our investigator who was to be baptized, wasn't there. We were a little nervous, but this happens a lot here in Chile. We waited a bit longer. At 5:30pm, I took some pictures of me and my invisible investigator. Erika still wasn't there! Finally, one of the members got a hold of her; she was forced to work late in the elementary school where she works, but she got out right away. By 6pm, we got started with the baptism. It went really well, and the spirit was strong. When I got in the water, I flinched because it was so cold! But, when Erika was baptized, her face was of pure joy. Afterwords she told us that she didn't even feel cold at all, only a warmth inside. (hyporthermia???? j/k).

Let's see, what else is new? We're changing our entire system here in the office so that everything is on the internet. It's tons of work, but somehow we have had tons of success in our proselyting sector as well. It really is a miracle to be able to work in God's vineyard and see all the fruits of our labor.

We have a bunch of investigators who are progressing and tons of inactive members who are coming back to church right now. It's is awesome to see them all there in the chapel! One neat experience is with our investigator Silvestre who is a Jehovah's Witness. He is progressing a ton, and his knowledge of the bible is just incredible. He just has one doubt right now, a scripture found in 1 Corinthians 11 that says that the women should cover their heads during prayer. Why don't we practice this scripture? Of course, we know the answer! However, we need to be pretty careful of how we answer. I hope it all goes well in our next lesson!

Well, I sure do love life here in Chile. The people are amazing. I am learning a ton (especially Christ-like attributes) and feel like I'm progressing a lot. This really is God's work here on the Earth; I cannot deny the witness of the Holy Ghost that I've received day after day, especially as I've strived to receive the gifts that only come from our Heavenly Father (like the gift of tongues!).