Monday, February 23, 2015

Coronel, a Challenging Place

Another week came and gone here in Coronel. this week went pretty fast considering how it feels like only a couple days ago I was sitting down writing this group email to you guys last week. This week was a pretty normal week, lots of contacting and lots of walking, unfortunately not a lot of success, but we´re trying to keep our heads up and keep working hard. These past 10 weeks in Coronel have been very challenging for me. I think they have probably been the hardest in the mission for me. I have had a lot of fun being companions with Elder Knecht but the lack of investigators and success in the aspect of finding, teaching, and baptizing has been pretty hard on me. I don´t really know what the Lord is looking for me to do or say but I am striving myself every day to try and complete with the will of the Lord. I am trying, as always, to learn and grow from these challenges and difficulties, and I give thanks to God for everything that he has given me up to this point in my life. 

As for events this week, me and Elder Knecht found an abandoned museum of which used to be a mine but everything got destroyed in 2010 by the earthquake that hit here. We explored inside all of that for a while which was pretty fun but there were some parts that were pretty sketchy and scary. We are planning on returning with flashlights so we can go into the places we couldn´t because it was too dark, but don´t worry, we will be safe and careful;)

This week the assistants to the president came down and worked in our sector with us. Elder Alexander, who is from California and has 18 months in the mission, was working with me and Elder Knecht. We contacted so many people and we entered in a couple houses. We didn’t find any new amazing investigators but we have a few that we might be able to return to.

A cool story that happened while tracting with him was we found an inactive member who at first almost didn´t let us into his house but then he accepted to a prayer, nothing more, in his house. After the prayer, something must have touched his heart because he invited us to sit down and we talked for about an hour. He told us about all of the trials and hardships that he has been having in his life. He wouldn´t really accept anything we had to say but at the end, he asked if we would pray for him and his family. Sometimes that is all that we can do for people as missionaries, pray. Also we passed by Patricia, the lady that we have been visiting and helping. We set a plan to help her give up smoking and she seemed very excited and happy. It was cool.

The rest of the days this week nothing interesting really happened.  I will try this next week to have some crazy experiences so I can share them with you guys:)

Love you all, thank you for the support. Until next week!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Missionary from 35 years ago, Cleaning and service for others

Family and Friends,

Valentine´s Day was lame, especially as a missionary.  It was just a normal day for us but we seemed to contact a lot more couples who seemed to have something else on their mind besides listening to two gringos talk about God haha.

At the start of this week, we were walking through the main part of town when some guy yelled "Elders" and started walking towards us. Then he started talking to us in English, turns out that he was a missionary here in Cornel in our mission about 35 years ago! It was pretty cool to talk to him and he was with two of his Chilean companions that he had had during his mission. He was a really cool dude and he told us about and showed us pictures of all of Cornel from when he had served here, a lot has changed! He has had 3 kids who have all gone on missions. He also gave us money to go to lunch. It was pretty cool to see that he had come back to his mission and that also he still knows Spanish after all of these years.

Something funny that happened to me, we had to pass by the office and there was a "TRUNKY" letter there with my name on it. A trunky letter is the letter you get when you are completing your mission about your return arrangements and everything. They had accidentally given it to me instead of the other Elder Clay in the mission who is ending. Pretty funny and it was weird to see my name on a trunky letter.

I finally bought a pillow this week after 7 and a half months in the mission haha not as comfy as mine that I had back home but better than nothing!

I went on an exchange with Elder Espitia this week. It went pretty well but a lot of appointments fell through and we pretty much contacted all day. I like having the experience of going on exchanges with other missionaries and see how they work. I take the best thing that I see from each Elder and try to apply it to my work. We passed by an investigator who at the moment needed a little help. She didn’t feel well so we offered to help clean her house because it was a mess. While we doing that she threw away her cigarettes. After all of it she said she felt a lot better. I felt good after doing it and hopefully it helped her. I know that the house looks a lot better now at least haha.

This week we helped a sister in the ward paint her house and some other things around the house that she couldn´t do. She said she was grateful to have two tall gringo boys as her workers haha the sisters in this ward are pretty funny. One of the families in the ward that we are pretty tight with have had cousins at their house for this summer. They aren´t members but we have been spending a lot of time with them and they are going back to Santiago this week. It’s pretty sad to see them go because I’ve made pretty good friends with them but it’s pretty cool because one night I finally got to talk to them about our message and baptism. I gave them all the pamphlets to read and hopefully they can find the missionaries up there.

Something really cool that happened yesterday was that we were contacting and this woman came out to talk to us. She told us that she has been inactive for 30 years and was here just visiting a family member. We talked to her for a long while about how God wants all of his children to return to him, he is just waiting for the call. She told us that she was scared that he wouldn´t want to listen to her because she has neglected him for 30 years, but we told her that he would even be more receiving and wanting her to come back to him because of that. The example of how if we had children and one of them all the sudden decided to move away and cut off connection, how we would want more than anything for them to come back and reestablish connection and we would be just waiting and wishing for it to happen is the exact same thing. We are literally sons and daughters of God and although we get a little lost on the path during times in our life, he will always be there, waiting and wanting for us to return to him. By the end, she was crying thanking us.

Good week here in Coronel. Talk to guys next week. Love you all.

Monday, February 9, 2015

New Investigators and My Love! You have Returned!

This week in Coronel went pretty well! We were able to find some new people to teach and they look like they have some potential to progress! A lot of hard work and patience paid off but now we have to keep with it and continue teaching and searching for more. I started off this week having an intercambio with one of our zone leaders, Elder Marble. He has the same time in the mission as my companion, 20 months, and is one of the best missionaries that I have worked with. We did 50 contacts in one day and were able to find two new investigators! We were outside all day but we kept the spirits up and we were able to find success. In one of the lessons it was pretty cool because at the end the woman told us that she really had the wrong idea of Mormons and she had heard many nasty and bad things and had believed them but that we were able to prove them all wrong and answer her questions and doubts. It was a really cool experience and this kind of situations happens a lot.

Earlier this week we had to paint pretty much the whole inside of our house because the President of the mission was going to every house in the mission so we spent days scrubbing mold off walls and cleaning everywhere so that we could paint. But now our house actually looks a little bit better. Still pretty cold and infested with termites, but we are doing what we can to keep it in shape.

Oh a pretty funny story, so me and Elder Knecht visited an investigator that Elder Marble and I found and their little daughter let us in. We were sitting on a couch talking to the wife when the husband, who is a ginormous huge guy who is covered in tattoos and is just the funniest guy ever, comes practically running and turns the corner into the room we were in and makes eye contact with me and screams at the top of his lungs "MY LOVE! YOU HAVE RETURNED!" Hahahaha funniest thing that has happened to me. We were able to teach them and they were very receptive. They have a lot of things they need to change in their lives but I really hope that they will be able to progress. Their 8 year old daughter has the biggest crush on me and her dad was teasing her so bad that she was embarrassed, but it was cute.

Also this week we found the same group of kids twice while we were contacting and talked to them for a while. It’s really fun talking to them because they have so many questions about the United States and some of their questions are so simple and obvious haha.  It was pretty cool because we found this little neighborhood and pretty much everyone would pass by us, talk to us for a little, ask some questions, and move on. I felt like an information stand. 

Also this week I had an intercambio with Elder Chumbe the Peruvian in our house. That went pretty well and I was able to meet some of their investigators and work with him. The last big thing that happened this week is yesterday we went and passed by an investigator that the Elders here were teaching a long time ago. When we knocked on her door, she let us right in. She seemed very happy to see us again. In the records it said she has had problems with depression and I could see it.  However, she seemed very happy to see us and I’m excited to be able to work with her and give her some hope in her life.

The mission work is an amazing thing. Love you all, and hope that you have a good week.

Elder Clay

Monday, February 2, 2015

Lunch from a stranger, Yes he is my Savior and other happenings

Hey guys! Sorry for not writing last week, it was cambios and I was pretty busy with all of that. So I am going to write a little bit about last week as well as this week this time. Last week I had an intercambio with a missionary who at this moment is at his house which is pretty crazy to think. Elder Cruz, he finished his mission last week so it was pretty cool to be able to be his last intercambio and one of the last people he worked with. He was able to teach me a lot and help me with some things that he said had helped him in his mission. It wasn’t the greatest day of success, like most days, but the experiences and striving myself to do my best to serve others and find the people that God has prepared for me makes everything worth it. 

Also last week we had the opportunity to give a blessing of health to a members son who isn’t a member but is going through a hard time with his heart. At the end of the blessing their whole family were in tears and they were so grateful as they all hugged us. It was cool to see some of the hard hearts in that room softened. 

Also last week we had to go to Concepcion twice, one for an interview and another time because my companion got bit by a spider and had to go to the doctor. The bus rides there are pretty beautiful and impressive. There are some amazing views here in Coronel that me and my comp have found because we’ve pretty much contacted our entire sector already.  The views of the ocean and others in Coronel are very beautiful and I love finding different views every day. As you guys already know, this past Monday was cambios but me and Elder Knecht are staying here in Coronel together for another cambio! One of the Peruvians left, Elder LudeƱa, and another Latino came in his place. His name is Elder Espitia and he was born and grew up in Columbia but he came to the mission from Spain where he had lived for about 7 years. Heps was cool and way funny, he´s a good time to have in the house. He is also our district leader and he does a good job at that, his laugh is one of the funniest things I´ve heard. He only calls me Matthew McConaughey and he’s convinced that I look exactly like him haha.
 An experience that I had this week that was pretty cool is we were walking in the street and this guy came up to us trying to speak English, thinking he could, (like every other Chilean on this planet) but he said "I love Jesus, so I want to do this for you" and insisted in taking us into this restaurant and buying us both the biggest combo on the menu haha. He would not take no for an answer or even give in a little bit. He just kept on saying how much he loved Jesus and how he knows we are men of Jesus.  Such a good guy. It was a pretty cool experience and as fast as he came, he was gone, leaving us to eat all this food by ourselves haha. 

Also something that happened this week was Chile played the USA in soccer but I know that none of you were probably watching it because of the super bowl. haha  USA was winning and then at the very end, Chile made two goals and they won. I got some crap from all the members and people on the streets and stuff for that but it’s all good because I know we could beat them at literally ANY other sport;) Other than those things, not much has happened.  Just a lot of contacting searching for families to bring into this gospel:) Oh that and  freezing cold showers and getting devoured by fleas haha.

 One thing that really struck me this week is I have started to notice the amazing faith that the Chilean people have. Like you can literally ask any Chilean if they believe in Jesus Christ and they practically scream YES HE IS MY SAVIOR. It’s really impressive and it’s a joy to hear every time I ask them. Well to be a hundred percent honest, lately has been a difficult patch in my mission. We haven’t had the greatest success and the days seem like years frying in the sun. But my testimony has come in strong to help me, and the thing is that I have such a strong testimony that God does have a plan for us, that as every little hard thing that happens to me, I am able to try and look at it from a growing and learning perspective. Something I have definitely gained from the mission. Also I have grown to appreciate and be so exceedingly grateful for my life before the mission, I know that being here on the mission is showing my gratefulness for the Lord. Well that’s about it for this week. Love ya guys. Hope everything is going well back home! 

Love, Elder Clay