Sunday, July 11, 2010

June 14, 2010 (Early Birthday!)

It has been a great week. Thank you for everything, especially your emails! They really lift my spirits. I want you to know how much I love all of you.

So first off, thank you so much for the birthday box! I'm sorry, I couldn't resist.... I opened it early! I loved it! We're gonna be getting really fat soon from all of the chocolate. All the better to reach my goal of 300 lbs before I get home! I'm just sending a few pictures I took in Copiapó after our Zone Conference and receiving the box. It was our last Zone Conference with President Urra (and of course I was assigned to translate for the new missionaries, like always...)! I am really going to miss President Urra; he has been such a great example for me. I have learned much from him that I'll be sure to use and apply throughout the rest of my mission and all my life. I will miss him and his wife, but I'll just make sure to keep writing him after I end my mission! President Bruce will be the new mission President. He's from California and will be getting here to Chile in a couple of weeks. Lot's of things could change in the mission when he arrives... But I guess only time will tell!

Wow, where do I start with miracles this week? Our investigator family is still progressing a lot! Manuel has a very strong testimony, as does his wife Mónica. Valeria, their daughter, will also be baptized on June 26th if all goes through, and it should be a beautiful baptismal service. This week we had a neat experience as the family attended church. Manuel lost his job about 5 months ago, and he started losing his faith. While he was going through this crisis, he dreamed of Christ. Our Savior told him: "Wait just a minute. I'm coming back soon." Soon after, the missionaries arrived. As we were speaking with Manuel, he described the way that Christ looked. We invited him to see the portrait of Jesus Christ that is in all the Bishop's offices, the one with the red robe. When Manuel saw it he got really emotional. He said, "That's Him." It was a tender mercy of a loving Father in Heaven, and I am so grateful that we could be instruments in the Lord's hands to help Manuel and Mónica save their faith and find the true Church of Jesus Christ in the earth. They are going to be faithful members, and I even believe that Manuel would be an awesome Branch President one day! Who knows? :)

Another great miracle was with an investigator named Cesar. His wife, Lorena, is a less active member of the church, but we started sharing the missionary lessons with her and her new husband a couple months ago. We lost contact with them for some time, but recently we started sharing the lessons again. Cesar felt strongly that our message was true. He felt something beginning to stir in his heart. He told us that, through our examples, he could tell what we were saying is true. I think that's a great lesson in practicing what we preach! I thought of Ammon when he started teaching Lamoni, how Lamoni was astonished when he saw Ammon's faithfulness and obedience. I know that this is true: a large part of the success we have in life, not only as missionaries, is by the example we set. Through our example of dedicated service, obedience, and diligence in doing what we know we should, we gain the confidence of those who surround us and show that we are disciples of Jesus Christ. I feel so humbled as I see the great goodness and power of our Eternal Father, and I know that this is His work. We, of ourselves, are nothing, but with God we can do all things. By small and simple things God brings about His great and eternal purposes.

On Saturday, we shared a message with Cesar, and we spoke of the Holy Ghost and requirements to have his constant companionship. We spoke of baptism and asked Cesar if he would like to be baptized on July 3rd. And he said yes! He went to church on Sunday, and in all of our little meetings we felt edified and strengthened. The Holy Ghost was with us as we taught and learned together. It was a beautiful Sabbath day yesterday; there were many families in church. I could see that really our little congregation is the salt of Diego de Almagro, the yeast that can lift up the lives of many. It is a great blessing and privilege to work in the Lord's vineyard.

So, just to let you know, I am loving life. Though I am anxious to see you all again, I have to take advantage of the short time I have left! I love the work, and I send you all my love. I'll see you in October!

Investigator bears testimony

June 7, 2010 (Companion going to Houston!)

Wow. It has been a very eventful week here in the mission. My companion, Elder Howard, received his new mission call. He's serving in the Houston South Mission, Spanish speaking! It sounds like an awesome mission, from what I heard, but it's gonna be really hot for him after leaving here in the middle of the winter! Elder Howard's flight left Sunday night from Santiago, and he arrived in his new mission this morning. I hope that his mission is just as amazing as this one; I'm sure it will be! His call came from a prophet of God, and I'm sure that he's excited to keep serving, especially in his own country!

So, since my companion left, that means that there was another special transfer here in Diego de Almagro. On Saturday, I went to the bus station in Chañaral to pick up my new companion: Elder Duerden! He's an awesome missionary from Provo, Utah. I can tell that we're gonna have a great transfer together. He is in his forth transfer in the mission, but he speaks really well in Spanish. I keep telling him that he'll be the next financier of the mission, and now he's worried that I jinxed him! :)

The Lord has really blessed us this week in the mission. I wish I could share all of the amazing experiences that we had this week! I guess I'll just have to pick and choose... I think my favorite part of the week was on Sunday at church. We had our fast and testimony meeting, and it went really well. There were 23 people at church, and 5 of them were investigators! My favorite part of the day was when, in the middle of the meeting, one of our investigators stood up to give his testimony. Manuel Segura and his family will be baptized on June 26th, and their testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel has just flourished. When Manuel stood up, he spoke of his conversion to the gospel and the empty space in his heart that he feels is being filled little be little. He testified of Jesus Christ and the power of the Atonement in his life. He also spoke movingly of the prophet Joseph Smith and the prophet in the world today. As he spoke and bore witness of the things he knew, the spirit testified strongly. It was amazing, especially coming from someone who hasn't even been baptized yet! Can you imagine how it will be when he receives the gift of the Holy Ghost? I feel exceedingly blessed to have served and taught this family and to see the great changes that have come in the lives of Manuel, Monica, and their two daughters, Valeria and Jerally. I really feel that he would make an awesome branch president after receiving the Priesthood and going to church for a while more!

The greatest blessing that I have received here in the mission is being able to be an instrument in the hands of our Heavenly Father. I feel so humbled and so small for all the miracles that the Lord has poured upon our little town, and I am eternally grateful for the great mercies and the love of our Heavenly Father. It is humbling to participate in this great work and feel the Spirit in such great presence. I know that I am where I should be, and even though I miss being with all of you, I know that my time here in Chile is limited, so I have to take advantage of every minute! :) This is the true Church of Jesus Christ. I know that our Savior Jesus Christ lives and that He is the Redeemer of the world. I am grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, restored through the prophet Joseph Smith, because I know that it is the power to reclaim the blessings of the Atonement and the mercy of our Heavenly Father. What a great blessing it is to have an eternal family and know our potential as sons and daughters of God!

Well, I'm sorry I didn't send any pictures of my new companion. I'll be sure to send some next week. I want to send my love to all of you! Have an amazing week, and let me know how everything's going back at home! I really enjoy receiving your letters and emails; it always makes me feel good inside.

End of May!

May 31, 2010 (Companion's insomnia)

Every time someone asks me how much time I have in my mission, it's just a reminder of how little time I have left and how much I have to get to work and make the best use of what I have! It's been quite a crazy week. I'll try to recap just a bit in this email, but if you want more you'll just have to ask to see my journal after I get back. I wrote like 4 pages for each day. Crazy, huh?

So basically, my companion's had insomnia for a long time now, like 4 months, and now his head is hurting constantly. It's been pretty tough for him, but he's done a great job, and he never really complains, he just keeps working. Well, I finally told him, "Elder, you gotta get that checked out." So, we called President Urra to get permission to get lots of tests done in Antofagasta.

We spent much of the week back in the office in Antofagasta, and it was really nostalgic! I really loved the work there and serving the other missionaries as the financer. I helped Elder Mortensen with reimbursements and did what I could to help while we were there in Antofagasta, but after 2 days I felt anxious to get back to Diego de Almagro. So, with the permission of my mission president, I went back to work with the Elders in Chañaral while my companion spent more time doing tests in Antofagasta. I had the amazing opportunity of doing splits with our district President, Elder Dinamarca, and serve and teach the members and investigators in Diego de Almagro. We worked a lot, but we also travelled a lot between the little towns here in our district.

Finally, Elder Howard came back and joined me so that we could work in Diego de Almagro. And what a happy little reunion! Luckily, there was nothing seriously wrong with my companion's health. We are working hard, and the spirit is our constant companion as we work for the salvation of our Heavenly Father's children.

One thing that did happen, however, is that President Urra called us to talk about Elder Howard's condition. He spoke to me and to my companion for a lot of time, and we did a lot of thinking and praying. My companion finally made a very hard decision: he is going to change his mission to work in the states. We'll find out what his new mission call is this coming Thursday, after the First Presidency assigns all the missionaries out on Wednesday. Of course, my companion is a little bummed, but we both know that this is what he needs to do. I have learned a lot from my companion and I am grateful to have met him. He is going to do awesome wherever he is assigned to serve!

Let's see, I don't have too much more time to write... But thank you all for your emails and your thoughts and prayers! I feel so blessed to have each and every one of you in my life. We have the greatest family ever!!!! :) I want you all to know that I know that this church is true, that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer and is at the head of this church, guiding the prophets in our days. I also know that the priesthood authority is real, and that we have a great responsibility, having been born in these last days. I love being here in the mission, and I love to see the difference that we can make in others' lives as we strive to do what the Lord would do if he were in our place.

Miracles in Diego de Almagro!!!!

May 24, 2010 (baptisms)

Wow, it's been another amazing week here in Diego de Almagro! Where do I start with miracles? I guess I'll start with the pictures that I'm sending. Some are with Pablo, the son of Marcela who was baptized this weekend. She wants him to be a missionary, so we took pictures of him with my missionary tag. He looks like an awesome future missionary!

I'm also sending pictures of the day we went to El Salvador to teach our investigator there. It's about 1 hour away from Diego de Almagro in bus, but it's really pretty. Last week, when it rained here, it snowed like crazy in El Salvador! Sadly, it all melted by the time we went up, but there is still snow in the hills, and it looks really pretty! Our investigator in El Salvador is doing really great! She's going to be baptized soon because she has a really strong testimony and loves reading in the Book of Mormon -- she can feel the spirit as we teach and as she reads and prays. That's pretty much what we love to hear as missionaries! She only has to make a few changes in her life, and this could be very difficult. This coming week, we will talk about those changes and help her find the strength to overcome a few challenges in her life.

Marcela was baptized! Her baptismal service was beautiful. I really loved the sweet spirit that was there with us. The district president, Elder Dinamarca, also attended with us, and his comments at the baptism were beautiful. After Marcela was baptized, I was able to confirm her a member of the church on Sunday, and she is going to be a strong and faithful member! She went teaching with us the same day as her confirmation, and her testimony was just glowing.
Along with the baptismal service, many miracles came about. I'm sending what I sent to my mission president so you can see some of the great miracles that accompanied our work here. I am so grateful that our Heavenly Father always provides opportunities to help and bless our fellow man. Our job is to be prepared for when those opportunities come to us.

We have been teaching a family for quite some time. Manuel and Monica Segura Ángel have two daughters, Valeria (15 years old) and Jeraly (6 years old). They are great investigators that fell into a huge financial crisis and began losing faith in Christ. We have been teaching them, and they have felt the power of the Atonement in their lives. However, they've always been very timid and never wanted to do TOO much. They never went to church and only really read and prayed. But we were patient because they were receptive and always happy to receive visits from the missionaries. Well, one thing led to another, and this beautiful family felt the need to attend a baptismal service to see what it was like. They felt the spirit very strong when Elder Dinamarca was speaking (our district president, a couple missionary here in this area), and they committed to going to church. At church, Manuel shared a heartfelt testimony of the church, saying that he felt that there was always an empty space in his heart. He said that he felt that space being filled right there in church. He then said that he wanted to be a member of the church.

So, last night was just amazing as we went to their house and talked about baptism. They all committed to being baptized on June 19th, so it'll be an awesome day! We just have to make sure they keep their commitments... It'll be the first complete family that I've baptized in my mission! I'm so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who hears our prayers and blesses his children. We even shared about tithing yesterday, a little hesitantly because of their financial crisis, but Manuel happily accepted the invitation to live the law of tithing after baptism. Yay!!

So basically, I'm loving the mission right now and I know that the Lord is blessing us abundantly. I hope that all is well at home! Thank you for all of your support and love. I can feel it lifting me when I come across difficulties and trials in the mission. I know that our Heavenly Father is a God of miracles and that He hears and answers our prayers as we strive to understand and do His will. This is His church -- I love being a missionary!

Tengo mucho gusto al escribirle hoy y contarle de los muchos milagros que han sucedido en nuestra pequeña rama aquí en Diego de Almagro. Élder Howard y yo hemos trabajado mucho, y vimos grandes milagros del Señor, una cadena de oportunidades. Sólo estoy agradecido que pudimos ser instrumentos en las manos del Señor para la salvación de nuestros hermanos aquí en este pueblito.

Los milagros empezaron hace 3 años cuando Marcela Gómez no quiso bautizarse. Ella vive aquí en Diego con su hijo Pablo. Pablo se bautizó en 2007, pero Marcela nunca tuvo las ganas de bautizarse, aunque tenía un testimonio. Cuando nosotros pasamos por la casa, ella dijo a mi compañero: "Cuando los vi, sentí que ustedes eran los misioneros que me iban a bautizar". Y, este fin de semana, ella siguió el sentimiento que tenía y se bautizó. Era un gran milagro pasar por la casa mientras buscábamos antiguos investigadores.

Pero, este milagro era sólo el comienzo de mucho más. Hemos estado compartiendo con una familia, la familia Segura Ángel, por mucho tiempo. Pero nunca ha ido a la iglesia, y el progreso era muy lento. Pero, ¡había progreso! Decidimos tener paciencia, y por fin ellos sintieron la necesidad de conocer más la iglesia. Les invitamos al bautismo de Marcela, y ellos dijeron que irían si su hija se mejorara de un gripe que se le dio. Yo sentí que debía ofrecer una bendición y explicarles que sólo podía funcionar si había fe. Ellos expresaron su fe, y dimos la bendición. La hija se sintió mejor inmediatamente. Debido a este pequeño milagro, ellos fueron al servicio bautismal.

Al mismo tiempo, Élder y Hermana Dinamarca sintieron que debían apoyar a Marcela en su bautismo y también fueron al servicio. Era muy espiritual, y Élder Dinamarca dio la última palabra. Manuel Segura y su esposa Mónica sintieron fuertemente el Espíritu Santo y se comprometieron a ir a la iglesia. Fueron, sintieron el Espíritu aún más fuerte y expresaron sus deseos de bautizarse y empezar la jornada en el Evangelio de Jesucristo. Manuel dijo: "Antes, fui a muchas iglesias pero siempre sentía un vacío en mi corazón. Ahora, puedo sentir que ese vacío se está llenando". El dijo que quería ser miembro de la iglesia. Esa noche, pusimos una fecha para el 19 de junio, y toda la familia (Manuel, Mónica y su hija Valeria) aceptó con mucha gratitud. Era un gran milagro aquí en esta pequeña rama.

Sé que Dios está con nosotros en esta rama. Está planeando muchas oportunidades para que Sus hijos reciban el Evangelio Restaurado y la Exaltación. Dios empezó a preparar a esta familia hace 3 años cuando Marcela no quiso bautizarse, porque por medio de su bautismo y ejemplo esta hermosa familia sintió el Espíritu penetrar su corazón, y se convirtieron al Evangelio. Se ven mucho más felices, con una fe aumentada. Enseñamos la ley del diezmo ayer, y lo aceptaron con muchas ganas, a pesar de una situación económica muy pesada que tienen.
Sé que ésta es la iglesia verdadera y que literalmente somos representantes del Señor. Y es cierto -- éxito es la intersección de oportunidad y preparación. He ganado un testimonio de eso la semana pasada.

Oro que el Señor nos fortalezca este cambio para seguir con buen ánimo para que cumplamos la meta de 5 bautismos en este trimestre. Sé que hay personas preparadas para recibir la palabra de Dios. Sólo tenemos que estar preparados y seguir el divino patrón que estableció el Señor.

Babelfish translation:
I have much taste when writing today and to tell to him him of the many miracles that have happened in our small branch here in Diego de Almagro. Élder Howard and I have worked much, and saw great miracles of the Gentleman, a chain of opportunities. I am only been thankful that we could here be instruments in the hands of the Gentleman for the salvation of our brothers in this pueblito. The miracles began 3 years ago when Marcela Go'mez did not want to baptize itself. She lives here in Diego with her son Pablo. Pablo baptized itself in 2007, but Marcela never had the desire to baptize itself, although it had a testimony. When we happened through the house, she said companion: " When I saw, I felt that you were the missionaries who went to me to bautizar". And, this weekend, she followed the feeling that it had and it was baptized. It was a great miracle to happen through the house while we looked for old investigators. But, this miracle was only the beginning of much more. We have been sharing with a family, the Safe family Angel, for a long time. But never it has gone to the church, and the progress was very slow. But, there was progress! We decide to have patience, and finally they felt the necessity to know plus the church. We invited to them to the baptism of Marcela, and they said that they would go if her daughter improved of an influenza that occurred him. I felt that I had to offer a blessing and to explain to them that only could work if there were faith. They expressed their faith, and we gave the blessing. The daughter felt better immediately. Due to this small miracle, they went to the baptismal service. At the same time, Élder and Hermana Denmark felt that they had to support to Marcela in his baptism and also went to the service. He was very spiritual, and Élder Denmark gave the last word. Safe Manuel and its Mónica wife felt the Spirit strongly Santo and they were committed to go to the church. They were, they felt the Spirit still more hard and they expressed its desires to baptize themselves and to begin the day in the Gospel de Jesus Christ. Manuel said: " Before, I went to many churches but always it felt an emptiness in my heart. Now, I can feel that emptiness is llenando". It said that it wanted to be member of the church. That night, we put a date for the 19 of June, and all the family (Manuel, Mónica and its Valeria daughter) accepted with much gratitude. It was a great miracle in this small branch here. I know that God is with us in this branch. It is planning many opportunities so that Their children receive the Recovered Gospel and Glorification. God began to prepare to this family 3 years ago when Marcela did not want to baptize itself, because by means of her baptism and example this beautiful family felt the Spirit to penetrate her heart, and they became to the Gospel. They are seen much more happy, with an increased faith. We teach the law of the tithe yesterday, they accepted and it with many desire, in spite of a very heavy situation economic that they have. I know that this one is the true church and that literally we are representing of the Gentleman. And it is certain -- success is the intersection of opportunity and preparation. I have gained a testimony of that the past week. Gold that the Gentleman fortifies east change to us to follow with good spirit so that we fulfill the goal of 5 baptisms in this trimester. I know that there are prepared people to receive the word of God. We only must be preparations and to follow the divine landlord that established the Gentleman.

Flooded house

May 17, 2010 (Rain!!!!!)

So, where do I start with this crazily amazing week$ (sorry, the question mark button on my keyboard isn't working... Weird...). I'm finally sending pictures!!!! Yesterday was one of the craziest days on my mission because it was a day that I never thought I'd have here in the driest desert of the world, the Atacama Desert. It rained! I'm sending lots of pictures of the rain, the flooded city, my flooded house, the sunset last night, the city this morning after it rained, a statue of a couple mining dudes (we live in a little mining community), etc. I hope you enjoy! :)

It turns out that it hasn't rained like it did yesterday for over 20 years here in the northern part of Chile. It was crazy! And we got soaked! :) It rained all day long. Here in Chile, we're just getting into autumn/fall weather, and it is getting really cold. It's lucky that I bought a nice little jacket in Copiapó last winter or I would have died last night walking around in Diego de Almagro! It snowed a ton just 15 minutes away from us in the hills. It was so beautiful this morning to see all the different colored hills -- blue, red, green, pink, purple, and white. It was amazing, but cameras just sadly can't capture all that you can see with your eyes.

Oh yeah, don't worry too much about our house. We have a little patio that filled up like a swimming pool while we were at church and flooded in beneath the patio door. It didn't do any damage to our things, it just took a couple hours to get all the water out. Our little house was like a lagoon! But at least I enjoyed it. And we got some good pictures. :)

However, the greatest part about this week was not the rain. It was seeing our Heavenly Father's miracles in the lives of His children. A few weeks ago, Elder Howard and I felt an impression that we should go visit a former investigator of the church, Marcela, the mom of an inactive young man. We visited her, and she told us all about her story. She felt really discouraged and down because she couldn't stop smoking. She had gone to church many times, and she has a strong testimony about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and the church. She even went to a baptismal interview, but she was honest about her smoking addiction and the Elder told her that she couldn't be baptized.

Of course, after Marcela was told that she couldn't be baptized, she felt even more discouraged and stopped going to church. A few missionaries passed by her house and, seeing her discouragement, told her frankly that if she didn't WANT to progress, they would stop visiting her. And they did. That was a few months before we got there. We decided to first talk about the Atonement and help her set goals to overcome her addiction. A gleam of hope was in her eyes. We kept going by and encouraging her, and even though she fell back into her old ways a few times, we just tried to be positive and keep a strong spirit of encouragement and love in her home.

At the present date, Marcela hasn't smoked in over a month. She is happy, and she says that she feels the spirit strongly in her life and in her home. She has experienced first hand the Atonement of Christ in her life and the power in the Gospel. We challenged her to be baptized, and now there is nothing stopping her. She is going to be baptized this Saturday. Yay!
Needless to say, I am very happy that we could help one of our Heavenly Father's daughter to have the joy of the Gospel in her life. I really do love being a missionary! It has been a great, fulfilling week, and I know that the Lord is working miracles in our little town, Diego de Almagro.

I hope you all have a wonderful Spring like day while we are heading into a cold winter! I love you all, and I hope the best for you. Take care! You're all in my thoughts and prayers.

Happy day after Mother's Day

May 10, 2010 (working like crazy)

let you all know how thankful he is also for helping him with the call yesterday and for your examples and strength in the gospel. Thank you also for your emails, your counsels, and your love. I can really feel it sustaining me every day as I work here in Diego de Almagro.

So, I was planning on sending some awesome pictures today as a nice Mother's day gift, but I forgot my camera! Too bad... I guess I'll just have to tell you how everything has been going. Yesterday, for Mother's day, we were in the house of one awesome member of our branch, Hermana Inés. We had to ask permission from her non-member uncle who owns the house, and luckily he likes us so he said yes. As we were waiting for the call, he serenaded us with a 75 year-old guitar, singing Chilean love ballads. I thought it was so awesome that I've decided when I come home, I'm gonna have to learn some too. After he was done, I played them the mission song that I wrote, and they liked it so much that they had me play it again while they were recording it. That was kind of fun!

After the phone call, Hermana Inés invited us to eat "once" with her (which is kind of like a snack dinner that they have here in Chile). I felt so privileged to eat in their home, and then we began to talk about gospel doctrines. Hermana Inés' uncle has had a difficult life, and he never accepted the gospel when he was younger, but as we talked I could see a change in his countanence. There was a gleam of hope in his eyes, and though I'm not sure if he'll want to learn more about what we share, I know that we at least planted that little seed in his heart, and he knows that it's true. I really do love being a missionary, helping other people and serving in every moment. I know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ changes lives and is the ONLY thing that can bring happiness, peace, joy, and salvation to the human family. We really do have a pearl of great price, a invaluable treasure that we need to share with everyone!

This week, we also have been traveling a lot. As district leader, I had a baptismal interview in Chañaral (a little coastal city 1 hour away from Diego de Almagro) on Thursday, and then on Friday we traveled in the opposite direction for 1 hour to El Salvador. El Salvador is a beautiful town that was constructed by North Americans that owned a nearby mine. It is small but spacious and beautiful -- it was like taking a step back into a town in the USA. But, the most beautiful part are the hills. We live in the driest desert of the world, the Atacama desert, yet it is not a sandy desert but a mineral desert. That means that the hills are filled with the most amazing colors; I think mom would actually love it! And, at sunset, they shine bright colors and fill one's soul with pure amazement. God created this beautiful earth just for us! I hope that this week I can take some pictures in El Salvador, as we will be working there every week. We have investigators there now, and since there are no missionaries working there, it pertains to our sector. We have been working like crazy!

Of course, the greatest part of the mission is the chance to be an instrument in the Lord's hands for the salvation of His children. I know that this is His work, and it is a great blessing to be able to serve Him. I know that if we serve with all of our might, the Lord will make us examples of the believers and bring many people unto Him. I love serving in this branch, and though I am looking forward to seeing you all again, I know that I am where the Lord needs me to be. It will be a sad day when I have to leave this beautiful branch! I have grown to love the members that I'm serving and the investigators that I'm teaching.

Well, take care and know that I am thinking about all of you. I love you, and I pray for you always. Have a wonderful week! Can you believe that we're already in the middle of May? Time passes by way too fast!


May 3, 2010 (1st counselor passed away)

I hope that everyone is doing well. I am happy to say that my companion is doing much better, and we're taking advantage of every minute for the time we lost while he was sick! It has been a really great week, and I wish I could tell you everything that I learned and felt. But, as the time is limited and I'm sure you don't want to listen to all of it, we'll have to be content with just a few lines.

I'm sending a few pictures. The first is from last week eating lunch with the missionaries from Chañaral, our district. About every week, we stay overnight on Monday in Chañaral for our district meeting on Tuesday. We usually have an activity with them and work in their sector also on Monday evening. The missionaries in the picture are: Elder Rodriguez (Branch President in Chañaral), Elder Howard (my companion), Me, and Elder Silva (Elder Rodriguez's companion). We have a great district. :)

The other two pictures are from today, in our trip to Chañaral from Diego de Almagro. I took one picture of the desert to show you how dry it still is, and I also took one picture of us sitting in the bus. They're kind of lame pictures, but they're all I've got! ;)

So, this week, it actually rained! It was real rain! Sure, it only lasted about 5 minutes, but it still rained! That was pretty big news for everyone in Diego de Almagro. :)

The most stressful part of the week was this past Friday when my first counselor in the Branch Presidency, Enrique Rojas, passed away. He was hospitalized in Copiapó a week ago, an his condition got worse really fast. We were privileged to be able to give him a blessing before he passed away. The image of the last time I saw him is still etched into my mind. He took my hand after I blessed him, he looked me in the eyes, and without even saying anything, he just gave me a heart-warming smile. He was a faithful member of the church, sealed to his wife in the temple. When God called him to His presence, he was filled with peace of mind and tranquility. He knew that God lives and fulfills His promises; he knew that he would live with his family forever because he had dutifully served God all of his days. He was a great example and great man, and the branch will really feel his absence.

We spent a lot of time this week with his family, comforting his wife, and trying to serve in any way we could. I was blessed with the great opportunity to direct his funeral services. Because I was pretty nervous, I had our district president, Elder Dinamarca, come and help with everything, and there were many miracles. I'll add a part of the letter that I wrote to my mission president so that you can read about a few miracles that we witnessed as a faithful son of God continued influencing his family and friends even after he departed from this world. It was quite an experience, speaking, directing, and playing my viola for a congregation of more than a 100 non-members in an LDS funeral service. The spirit of the Lord was with us in abundance, and I know that the Lord has planted many seeds of the gospel in the hearts of His children.

Ah, I just want to write more about everything that I feel and all the experiences that we've had! We also had our zone conference this week, and it was just amazing. I'm looking forward to speaking with you all on Mother's day. I still can't believe that this is the last phone call that I'll have in the mission before coming home! Really, where does all the time go?
I love you all so much. You are always in my thoughts and prayers. I know that this is the True Gospel of Jesus Christ restored on the earth, that prophets direct this great work and help us develop true and lasting faith in our savior Jesus Christ. May God bless each of us this beautiful day and always.

No sabemos cuales son todos los designios de Dios o porque pasa las cosas como pasan en la vida. Pero, si seguimos en la fe, aprenderemos que siempre hay un propósito en el gran plan del Creador del Universo.
Esta semana que pasó estuve un poco estresado con el fallecimiento del Hermano Enrique Rojas. El fue un excelente consejero y hermano en la iglesia. Su ejemplo extendió y tocó a muchas personas, cambiando muchas vidas. Creo que ésta era una prueba grande por mi compañero porque él sólo quería salir a trabajar, pero yo sentí que nos nesecitaban más en la iglesia juntos a la familia. Así que, perdimos muchas horas del trabajo normal del misionero, pero sé que servimos a Dios con toda nuestra fuerza. Y aprendí otra vez que Dios siempre tiene un propósito en todo lo que hace. El día antes de la sepultura, estuvimos en el velorio con la familia de muchas partes de Chile. Escuché a un hermano de la iglesia (Juan Ramos) explicando a un miembro de la familia sobre la iglesia, y le regaló un libro de Principios del Evangelio. Cuando hermano Ramos se fue a su casa, sentí el deseo de conocer a este pariente del difunto, así me puse a conversar con él en la iglesia. Después de conocerle un poco, él me empezó a hacer algunas preguntas sobre la iglesia. Contesté, explicando la restauración del Evangelio. Después de una lección de susurros, con muchos no miembros escuchando atentamente, le regalé un libro de Mormón a este caballero. El me agradeció.
El día siguiente (ayer), tuvimos el servicio fúnebre del Hermano Enrique. Yo estaba un poco nervioso porque dirigí la reunión y tuve un número especial en la viola, y ¡había más de 100 personas que no conocían la iglesia! Sin embargo, todo salió bien, y el Espíritu de consuelo y de amor estuvo en el servicio. Me encantó especialmente cuando el Élder Dinamarca expresó sus sentimientos y el Plan de Salvación a la congregación. Después del servicio, vi la mano de Dios obrar en muchas personas. Algunas se acercaron al Élder Dinamarca para decir que querían aprender más -- él anotó sus direcciones, números telefónicos, etc. para que podamos enseñarles. Y el pariente que enseñé el día anterior me acercó a mi, tomó mi mano y con lágrimas en sus ojos dijo: "Quiero agradecerle por sus palabras y el sentimiento que ha penetrado mi corazón. Ésta es la primera vez que he ido a su iglesia, y seguramente no va a ser la última vez. Vivimos en un país angosto y largo, y sé que debe estar en muchas partes. Quiero ser parte de su iglesia". Era un día de milagros, corazones ablandados y muchas semillas de verdad sembradas en todos los que estuvieron presentes.

Babelfish translation:
We do not know as they are all the aims of God or because it passes the things as they happen in the life. But, if we followed in the faith, we will learn that always there is an intention in the great plan of the Creator of the Universe. This week that happened I was a little estresado with the death of the Brother Red Enrique. He was an excellent brother advisor and in the church. Its example extended and touched to many people, changing many lives. I believe that this one was a great test by my companion because he only wanted to go out to work, but I felt they nesecitaban that us more in the church together to the family. So, we lost many hours of the normal work of the missionary, but I know that we served to God with all our force. And I learned again that God always has an intention in everything what does. The day before the grave, we were in velorio with the family of many parts of Chile. I listened a brother of the church (Juan Branches) explaining to a member of the family on the church, and it gave a book to him of Principles of the Gospel. When brother Branches went to their house, I felt desire to know this relative of the deceased, therefore I put myself to talk with him in the church. After knowing a little him, he began to me to make some questions on the church. I answered, explaining the restoration of the Gospel. After a lesson of whispers, with many nonmember listening kindly, I gave a book to him of Mormón to this horseman. It was thankful to me. The following day (yesterday), we had the funeral service of the Brother Enrique. I was a little nervous because I directed the meeting and I had a special number in the viola, and he had more than 100 people than they did not know the church! Nevertheless, everything came out well, and the Spirit of consolation and love was in the service. He enchanted to me especially when the Élder Denmark expressed its feelings and the Plan of Salvation to the congregation. After the service, I saw the hand of God build in many people. Some approached the Élder Denmark to say that they wanted to learn more -- it wrote down his telephone directions, numbers, etc. so that we pruned to teach to them. And the relative who I taught the previous day approached to me, took my hand and with tears in his eyes he said: " I want to be thankful for by its words and the feeling to him that has penetrated my heart. This one is the first time that I have gone to its church, and surely is not going to be the last time. We live in a narrow and long country, and I know that it must be in many parts. I want to be part of his iglesia". It was a softened day of miracles, hearts and many really seeded seeds in which they were present.