Beloved Friends and Family,
I still can’t believe we’re coming to the close of another incredible year. It has been one of the greatest years of my life, and even though I miss being with all of you, I know I am where I am meant to be.
At the start of this year, I was still with my trainer here in the Mission Chile Antofagasta, Elder Cañellas.
We worked hard and had much success, even though I still didn’t have much control of the Spanish language. We worked in a ward called Simón Bolívar in the beautiful coastal city of Arica: La ciudad de eterna primavera (The City of Eternal Spring). I felt God’s hand in my life every day as I struggled to learn a foreign language, as I became accustomed to a new culture and felt the love of the Chilean people. It was a time of miracles and great joy for me. The greatest miracle that I witnessed wasn’t the gift of learning a new language, as I thought it would be before leaving to serve here in Chile. It was the simple gift of love that came as I lost myself in the service of these wonderful people. I was also blessed to serve with two extraordinary missionaries: Elder Cañellas (from Asunción, Paraguay) and Elder Knackstedt (from Seattle, WA).
After talking with my family on Mother’s day, I had been in Arica for 6 months. I received the dreaded phone call informing me that I was to be transferred to the city of Copiapó, an 18-hour bus ride from one side of the mission to the other. It was there that I met my new companion and great friend, Elder Rivas (from San Salvador, El Salvador). We worked hard in our little ward, Los Pimientos, and saw many miracles as we grew together spiritually and physically: Spiritually as we learned to follow the whisperings of the Holy Ghost, and physically as the loving members gave us mountains of food and as we came to adore Chilean sweets (including alfajores and manjar... Mmmmm).
However, after just one transfer (1.5 months) in Copiapó, I found out once again that I was to be transferred. But I know there was a purpose in my short time in Copiapó. Before I left, one loving member of my ward told me in the sincerity of her heart that she felt I was called for that short time to Copiapó just to help her and her family in a time of crisis. I know that I was meant to go to the beautiful city of Copiapó and that there really were many people waiting and ready to hear the message of the gospel from me. What a great blessing it is to be an instrument in the hands of God!
When the transfer in Copiapó ended, I received an unexpected phone call from the mission president. He extended to me my first assignment in the mission – to be the financial secretary. For me, the mission was about to change dramatically. I made the 8-hour bus ride up to Antofagasta from Copiapó and began to learn my role as financial secretary. In the mission office, I was blessed to work with some of the greatest missionaries that I know. The greatest blessing was to be close to our mission president, Presidente Urra, and to feel of his wisdom and genuine love for all of us.
As I worked in the mission office with Elder Hansen (my financial secretary trainer from Las Vegas, NV), Elder Brandau (secretary from Talagante, Chile), Elder and Sister Steed (Commissary and Historian from UT), Elder Shirley (AP from CA), Elder Galli (AP from Argentina), Elder Romero (AP from Chile), and later, to my great surprise and joy, Elder Rivas (Commissary and Historian), I learned more than I have ever learned in such a short period of time. I have not only learned economy, finances, and accounting (all in Spanish!), I also learned about families, patience, service, and love. I have enjoyed every moment of my service as the financial secretary, even with the many difficulties we have had. We have also worked hard in our proselyting sector, Antofagasta Centro, and have had much success in bringing souls unto Christ. It is a great blessing and privilege to be a missionary for the only true and living God and His son, Jesus Christ. I love the work here in Chile!
I have recently begun to train a new financial secretary after 6 months of service here in Antofagasta. My new companion, and the new financial secretary, is Elder Mortensen (from Salt Lake City, UT), an amazing missionary who was in my group in the MTC! We are working hard and having much success, as well as a great time together. I know this is God’s work, and I know that He loves His children. I have come to love the people in every sector that I have been, and knowing that I will shortly be leaving Antofagasta Centro hurts me, but I know the Lord is preparing people and opportunities for me in other places here in the mission. I don’t know where I’ll be after this transfer has ended, nor do I know what I’ll be doing. But I do know that I’ll be in the service of my God, and that is exactly where I want to be.
I love this Christmas Season here in the hot Atacama Desert – the same spirit of love and rejoicing is in the air. Though my only wish is that I could be with all of you this Holiday Season, I know I am where I am needed. I send you all my love and a Merry Christmas to all! Thank you for all your support, your love, and all that you do for me. Each of you has had a great impact in my life.
With all my love this Holiday Season,
Elder Samuel D. Hobbs