July 19, 2010 (21 years old)
Wow, I feel like an old man now. It still hasn't hit me that I'm 21 already! Where does all the time go? :)
This week was really great. It is awesome to be a missionary again after spending a week in the hospital. And we have been wasting no time in teaching and preaching! This week, Margaret, our progressing investigator who had her beliefs brutally smashed by her husband after he said that the virgin Mary had other children, is doing great. We've kept teaching and helping her develop a renewed faith in our Savior Jesus Christ. It has been lots of work and lots of patience, but I absolutely love it! Margaret told us this week that she was speaking with her husband a lot this week and pondering on what we had taught. She finally realized that it's true: the bible says that we should only worship the one and true living God, and it doesn't say anything about praying to the virgin. She is reading diligently in the Book of Mormon, and she received an answer to her prayers. She has felt the power of the Holy Ghost testifying of the truthfulness of the Restoration and all that we teach. We had her read in Moroni 8, which might seem kind of harsh, but she absolutely loved it! As we conversed, she spoke movingly of what she had felt and learned through reading the Book of Mormon. I was led to remember how I first gained a testimony as I read and prayed as a teenager. I know that this work is true and that our Heavenly Father is truly preparing many people to receive the message of the gospel. There are miracles here in Chile and in the whole world!
For my birthday on Thursday, I baked myself an awesome chocolate cake to celebrate. We also stopped by Hermana Yamilett's house because she made us roscas (little doughnuts) and hot chocolate. It was really nice! I'm sending some pictures of the cake I made, me and Hermana Yamilett, her son Enzo, my pet dog Jorge (the diseased one that always follows us around), and a few scenery shots from Diego de Almagro. I really love this little town, especially the wonderful people here who are so willing to serve and share with us!
The next pictures are pretty exciting. This morning we woke up and needed to do a few different things in our chapel before heading off to Chañaral. I opened up my office door, which was locked, and inside, everything was turned upside down! The desk was open, the drawers on desk, the DVD player gone, and the ceiling was broken up. As we explored the chapel, we found that someone had broken the bars that protect our chapel window and had come inside. They tried to find money or something. The safe under the podium was also thrown about. They entered the bishop's office through the ceiling and ended up doing some damage there. But, everything valuable was locked up inside of a huge safe with 1-foot thick cement walls, which they couldn't get into. I'm still not sure why they didn't steal the DVD player, which we found in the classroom next to the bishop's office. That was strange. After doing an inventory, we found that nothing at all was missing. We just have to repair the damage done to the chapel, mainly to the window and a bit of the ceiling. We called the police, we called the district president and the church offices in Santiago. I think everything should be alright now. I guess the robbers found out that we really don't worship huge golden statues that they could steal! ;)
I also got my flight itinerary today! Isn't that crazy? I'll be getting back to the states on October 1st after a full day and a half of travelling. That should be fun. But, that means that I gotta get working to reach my goal of 1000 baptisms in the mission! And don't worry, Elder Duerden and I are going to do it. We have had lots of success, thanks to a loving and gracious Heavenly Father, and I know that this transfer will be very fruitful.
We also saw all of the virgin dances this week. It is a special week in Chile to celebrate "La virgen María del Carmen, madre de Jesús", and there are lots of religious dances. Loud, ritual drums played loud all throughout the city as the people got together and did lots of dances. It was really neat to see, but I'm still not sure what it means. And it doesn't seem that many people here know either. But it was still neat.
My arms doing a lot better as well. I think I got bit by a "araña rincón", or a corner spider. They are the most dangerous spiders here in Chile, but they're really small. I'm lucky I got to the hospital because lots of people have lost limbs to those spider bites! After I got out of the hospital, we did a lot of cleaning in the house, and we'll probably buy some bug spray and spray everything down. That should be fun! I'll be careful to kill all the spiders I see from now on! :)
Oh yeah, on Sunday we also had the great privilege of ordaining our two recent converts to the Aaronic Priesthood. They are really happy, and they have been well trained for their new responsibilities. It was a very spiritual Sunday as we spoke in sacrament meeting (Elder Duerden, me, Hermana Dinamarca, and Elder Dinamarca) and then Priesthood and Relief Society meetings. I have a greater appreciation now for the Priesthood keys, and I know that this church is guided and directed on principles of divine revelation. It is incredible to feel the influence of the spirit and especially to see the great progress of our little branch. I feel humbled to be in the position of Branch President, serving the great people here in Diego de Almagro. It is a privilege to serve and get to know people who are so special and loving. They have had very spiritual and special experiences here with us, and I love sharing that with them! There were also many birthdays this week (Mónica Ángel, Valeria Segura, me, Elder Dinamarca), so it's also been a nice week to celebrate and enjoy time together.