Tuesday, December 30, 2014

First Christmas in Chile!

This week I experienced my first Christmas in Chile! It was weird to experience it without there being snow or family and friends but I had quite the experience! Christmas Eve we had to work as missionaries until 7 and then we could celebrate with member after that. The first house that we went to there was a ton of food. There ALWAYS is a ton of food in Chile. The dad dressed up as Santa Claus and sat us missionaries on his lap one by one and gave us a present. It was pretty funny doing it in Spanish and everything.

At 10:00 we caught a miracle taxi that carried us to a family´s house who are investigators but they have a son who is on a mission. It was pretty insane there haha all the lights were off but they had Latino dance/jazz type music blasting throughout the house and they had flashing dance lights. We sat in this environment for an hour while they prepared us a huge meal.  People here eat dinner at around 10:00 pm, and gave us a present. At midnight we needed to be home so we asked if someone could give us a ride. One of the sons drove us home in his ancient pick up truck thing. I’m pretty sure he was drunk and he was flying to our house on the streets of Coronel, blasting dance music. Haha it was quite the night!

I think I did everything I could’ve to keep my mind away from homesickness but it was still a little rough. I definitely missed all the family traditions we do every year but I had some crazy fun times and experienced a Chilean Christmas! One down, one to go.

On Christmas day it was very tranquil in our house just waiting to go see our families on Skype. I opened some presents that some family and friends had sent me for Christmas which was amazing and I´m so grateful for those who did. We left for lunch and ate an amazing lunch at a members house but I was so excited to see my family I couldn’t focus on the food. After what seemed like an eternity for a morning until 4, I finally got the time to skype my family! So I got on skype and called... and called... and called... and NOBODY answered. For 20 minutes I was just chilling calling with no response haha. Finally I got answered and all my extended family had been at my house for Christmas and they were all getting ready to leave but I was able to see them all! It was so amazing and such a shock to see them I couldn’t get words to leave my mouth haha it was funny. After saying hi to all of them and speaking a little Spanish to my Grandma and cousins who know it, I had my skype sesh with my family. It was incredible to see and talk to them all. We talked about a lot of things but I feel like I could have talked to each of them for a straight day to see what going on in their life and how they’re doing but I had to summarize it all because we didn’t have a lot of time. Saying bye to them was very hard and the past couple days I just keep on thinking of more and more of  things I wish I would have said to them, but as fast as Christmas came, it was gone.

I learned a couple things over this past week. How incredible the members are who invite us and accept us, as missionaries, on Christmas, into their house when they could just spend it with their families, how much I miss and love my family, and how a Chilean Christmas is! A very good week. I hope that you all back home had a very good Christmas as well and remembered the true meaning of Christmas. 

Elder Clay

Monday, December 22, 2014

Superman Companion, New City, Merry Christmas!

Wow lots to write about this week! So as you guys know, last week I changed sectors and now I am in Coronel! I´ll do this in order, first my comp, Elder Knecht. He is from California and has a year and a half in the mission! He is one of the smartest people I have ever met for his age, he honestly knows so much about everything and I have learned so much in one week. Also he was like a beach bum surfer guy, so that´s pretty cool. He is super chill, and we get along really well. He likes to talk about how he is going to be a billionaire and how he is going to get ripped when he gets back hahaha. Oh I forgot to mention that he looks exactly like superman, he has the glasses and everything. It’s pretty sick. We live with two Peruvians, Elder Chumbe and Elder LudeƱa, which is... well living with two Peruvians. Gotta have a lot of patience haha.

Our house is pretty big but it is definitely old. The walls are like falling apart and covered in mold. Our shower is the most pathetic thing I have ever seen, so small haha I have to crouch as I shower. We have rats which we set traps out but the food is gone in the morning and the trap isn´t set off. We can´t drink the water here because we are so close to the ocean, the water´s bad and tastes fishy. So we have to boil it every time we need to cook or use it at all. Quite the experience, but honestly I am having the time of my life! I love it here! In the morning we have been doing Insanity, for you guys that don’t know what that is, it’s a work out video, it’s really hard haha and I’ve been sore all week.

A little about Coronel... It smells like fish mixed with poop outside ALWAYS but it’s pretty cool that I get to see the beach and ocean every day. This city is really old so all the houses are like ancient. It’s not that hot here because we have a ton of wind and the sea regulates the temperature. There are a lot of hill in this sector So I’m going to have legs sculpted by angels by the end of this hahaha. I think that about it for new changes, if you have any more questions, just ask. 

Traveling here was a 6 hour bus ride to Concepcion where I was met in the terminal place by my new companion, I also saw and talked with Elder Casperson so that was cool. I also met a bunch of different missionaries who are all pretty chill so that was cool too. A little bit more about Coronel, it’s not a ward but only a branch. Yesterday in church there were about 40 people there so that was quite the difference coming from Catrihuala, my old ward, which had about 120 every week. But I had the opportunity to meet some of the members and they are all very nice and loving so I feel pretty welcomed.

One of the nights this week we taught an English class! It was pretty fun and we do it every Thursday night, so that should be nice. One day this week we did 152 contacts in one day... that’s incredibly a lot! We went to a thing called The Feria which is just a giant market in the streets and we just sat on a corner and contacted every person that passed. We don’t have many investigators right now so we have been contacting a lot this week.

An experience that I had this week that was pretty funny, so we had a family home evening with some people and the other missionaries in our house, and after when we were walking home there was wind and ice rain that was coming at us almost horizontally, it was weird.  But I was the only one who had an umbrella so what happened was I had the two short Peruvians strapped clinging onto my sides with their arms around my shoulders and Elder Knecht in the back, crouching to my height with his arms around the two Peruvians shoulders and then there was me in the middle holding my umbrella out in front of us horizontally to block all of the ice rain from hitting us. We walked like that unit for 30 minutes back to our house haha it was quite the view to see for other people. We got some pretty funny comments from the people as we walked by.

 As I said before we don’t have a lot of investigators so this whole week has just been a lot of contacting every day. I love my cambio and I’m very happy with where I am now. It’s weird that Christmas is in 3 days... but MERRY CHRISTMAS everyone! I hope that Christmas goes well for every single one of you and you guys can all be safe. Christmas should be pretty good here and I´ll let you guys know how it goes next week. Love and miss you all!

Elder Clay

Monday, December 15, 2014

Studying the Atonement and Saying Goodbyes

Family and friends,

This week went pretty well for me, I started off this week with an intercambio in Qurihue which is another sector in our zone. I was with Elder Aguilar and Elder Valle in a trio. It was pretty fun and I learned a lot. Every time I have an intercambio I try to learn something good from every missionary. Elder Aguilar has a year in the mission and knows English pretty well. He also can impersonate anybody or anything, it’s so funny. Elder Valle has 22 months in the mission and knows his bible, haha we "bible bashed" with 2 different people that day, it was pretty crazy. But it’s always fun to go on intercambios and experience new stuff.

We had our Christmas conference for missionaries this week that was pretty fun but it made me really homesick haha. It hasn’t really hit me that it is Christmas time because there is no snow here and it is a thousand degrees but with that Christmas Conference, all the feelings and remembrances came flooding back. We talked a lot about how Jesus Christ is the real gift during Christmas time. Sure it is really fun to exchange presents with family and friends during this time but we need to remember the true meaning of Christmas and why we celebrate it. I got to see a bunch of my friends from the CCM there which is always really fun and I also got my Christmas packages and letters from people. Thank you so much for everyone who sent me stuff:) I’m saving all of it until Christmas! They showed our movie that we made too, I guess it was funnier to us because we made it.... hahahaha but I thought it went well.

This week I have been studying the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It’s amazing that I can still learn and grow in my knowledge of something even though I have studied it a lot before. I have been studying it, but more than the fact that because of the Atonement we can receive a remission of our sins and we can be resurrected and live again.  I’m studying how through the Atonement we can receive help and comfort in our everyday lives. We can be strengthened and it helps us to understand why we pass through the hardships that we do. If we come to truly understand the Atonement, we come to know of God’s love for us, and His love for each and everyone one of us is something incredible. I don’t know everything about doctrine and the scriptures, that I’m still working on, but I can testify of the power of God’s love for us because I have felt its influence in my life and it has kept me going when I have been at the lowest points in my life. My invitation for all of you reading this is that you can try and discover a little more about the love that I know that God has for everyone one of you. You can experience it in many ways, scriptures, prayer, church, but I’m going to leave that up to you guys:) Also to remember the true meaning of Christmas.

About cambios today... .I am leaving from Catrihuala! I have had a good time here and learned more than is imaginable. I have had really good experiences and have grown over this short time. This week I have had to say goodbye to friends, members, converts, and investigators, and those of you who know me know that a few tears were shed hahaha always. The experience of being a missionary is amazing.  I am going to a place called Coronel! It is in the north of our mission and is on the coast next to the ocean! So I’m looking forward to seeing the beaches and water every day! I heard that I am going to eat a lot of fish and that it isn’t going to be that hot there so I’m looking forward to that as well. My companion is going to be Elder Knecht which I am very excited for because I heard that he is really funny and is a good guy. It’s going to be sad leaving Catrihuala but I’m ready. I’ll let you guys know how my first week is in Coronel next week! Geez Christmas is close.... Make sure to appreciate the snow because I sure am missing it here:)

Love, Elder Clay

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Tithing, Prayer, Holy Ghost

Mi queridos familia y amigos,

Another week in Chile has come and gone. The weeks are starting to go by really fast and it is scaring me a little because I don’t want this mission to go by too fast haha never thought I would be saying that, well there it is. This week has been pretty good I have had a couple experiences that made me realize things and learn more so it’s been pretty good.

I first want to tell you guys a little bit about what I did last p day.  So we went as a zone up to Vilcun where this member has property. It was incredibly beautiful and it was a very secluded place. Trees all around, a river that was sick, field to play sports, it was way cool. I played lacrosse with Elder Parkin for a long time which was way fun, then me and two other elders went on an adventure. It was kind of scary, I thought we were lost for a little bit haha but it was all good. While we were up there we also filmed a movie type thing for our zone’s presentation at the Christmas reunion for the missionaries. It was named A Stolen Christmas . Which was pretty much the Grinch and Venom vs Santa Claus, Spider-Man and Iron Man. It was pretty sweet. I hit the five month mark in the mission which is pretty crazy to think, also that I get to see my family on Skype in a couple of weeks!

The start of this week was so hot it was ridiculous but at the end of the week it was pouring rain. Pretty weird climate we have here in Chile but I think that Utah’s is still weirder. We were in Centro, which is pretty much the city part of Temuco, and there came a rush of a million people down the streets pushing shopping carts or things that they sell their fruit or other items, running full blast down the street. It was quite the sight to see haha. Apparently they were the people who don’t pay taxes on the stuff they were selling and that day the police had been going around collecting all their stuff, so they were running away. Pretty crazy.

This week I have had a couple experiences that really impacted me. The first is we taught Patricia and Paulina about tithing. They understood it and all but they said that there was absolutely no way that they could pay it because they are so tight with money. I tried to explain that the Lord always provides a way for his children to complete the commandments he has given. I gave her 1 Nephi 3:7 to read and hopefully something touches her heart because that is the only thing that is stopping them from being baptized. But after that lesson I was thinking about how grateful and lucky I am. I have always had an amazing house, food, family, basic things of life and even more. And there are people living, struggling in everyday life with those things. It hit me really hard how blessed I am and for that I am happy I am here serving this people in whatever manner I can.

Another thing that happened was we were walking and we passed a girl who was crying. We stopped her and asked if there was anything that we could do for her. She said no but we continued to talk to her and we found out that she had just been dumped by her boyfriend and was fighting with her family so she had no place to go. We tried to comfort her but nothing seemed to be working. I started to talk to her about past things in my life and how I have received comfort and help through prayer and the holy ghost. We talked about how she was a daughter of God and how there is always one person who will love us. At the end I think that she felt a lot better and a little comforted. It was an amazing experience.

I’m out of time but I just want to say thank you to everyone for  the support and I hope that everything is going well at home.

Elder Clay

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Thanksgiving in Chile

Update on the district that I am in, I am the only gringo and everyone else has a lot of time in the mission so I am definitely learning a lot.  I talked to a guy in a ciber about all the new video games that are coming out and about his business which was pretty cool. Cibers are big here in Chile and it’s just like videogames and computers. He told me he was Atheist but he respects and thinks it impressive what we do as missionaries of our church. It was cool talking to him.

This week I experienced my first Thanksgiving in Chile!!! It was so sick, one of the best Thanksgivings in my life!!! Not, haha Thanksgiving isn´t even a holiday here. So I spent the whole day thinking about what my family was doing and eating. My thanksgiving meal was some kind of soup that had pumpkin chunks in it.... that´s it haha. Dinner was PB and J’s so yeah I ate pretty well for Thanksgiving!!! Elder Haynes, my comp in the CCM, called me and wished me a Happy Thanksgiving so that was pretty fun talking to him. All in all, Thanksgiving was pretty hard and humbling for me but it was a good experience!

What made it one of the best days in my mission was the package that my parents sent to me for Thanksgiving. It was so amazing, my mom killed it with what she did! It was probably the best Thanksgiving gift I have ever received. Besides the candy with funny little sayings, There was a package of paper leaves on which every one of them had a message from someone in my family and extended family saying why they were grateful for me. Seriously it was one of the greatest things I have ever received. I have such a loving and supportive family and I am so grateful for that. There was also a Thanksgiving paper thing that said on it,”Why we are thankful for the gospel”, and on it many members of my family had written things. All in all it was incredible. So grateful for my mom for setting the whole thing up and doing it. It got me thinking that day how grateful I am for my family and for my extended family. And how grateful I am for the plan that god has prepared for us and for the opportunity we have to live as families forever. I love all of you family and thank you for what you guys wrote. I needed it. So yeah, that was my Thanksgiving. 

Only one more month until Christmas. That´s crazy to think. A couple more things that happened this week... This Saturday when we were playing soccer, we decided to play World cup, which is pretty much everyone vs everyone. I ended up winning it all which was pretty cool because the rest of the people we were playing with were latinos or gringos who played before the mission.

The last thing that I want to talk about in this letter is about Joy. The joy that I have learned about while I have been here on my mission. How great the joy is that I have when I see an investigator or less active member, who we have been working with a lot to get them to come to church, enter into the chapel. Never did I think that my joy could be so great seeing someone at church or anything like that, but now it is the greatest joy in my life at the moment. Also seeing recent converts working in the church with callings is something that is amazing to see also. Vicky, my recent convert, is now working with the primary and it was the Primary program for sacrament meeting yesterday and it was so incredible to see her working with the kids and what they all did. 

My relationship with my companion, Elder Maguina is a work in progress,  there have been some very good times and very funny times with him. To live with someone 24-7 is pretty strange.  We are both working at it.

Hope everything went well at home for your Thanksgiving. I love and am grateful for every single one of you.

Elder Clay