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.
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.