Dear Mom and Dad,
Editors note: Questions we had asked last week.
Are you/were you shell shocked? Has it been what you imagined? More? Less? Do you really stay up till 11:30 and eat your main meal at 2? Is there anything you wish you have that you don't have? Have you been bitten by fleas yet? Do you miss Elder Lucero?
Answers to questions--No, the missionaries aren´t all separated natives and gringos. It just kind of happened that way in the picture because everyone was scared out of their minds by what was going on and ended up next to someone with whom they felt comfortable, which happened to be someone they had just spent the last 3-9 weeks with.
Details about Chile... we stay up until 11 and get up at 7, just a little change mandated by pres. Gillespie. The main meal is around 1:30 and, what´s more, there isn´t any dinner! (Although I still haven´t adjusted to that schedule, so I tend to eat a really big snack when we get back). Anything I wish I have that I don´t? Just Holst´s ¨The Planets¨ and more time in every day, really. Other than that... If I think of anything I´ll ask!
I´ve gotten a few flea bites, but it hasn´t been any worse (knock on wood) than mosquitoes at home so far, just five or six. I´ve also been treating my bed every week according to instructions from Sis. Gillespie, I´ll make sure to keep that up too. There are dogs absolutely everywhere, usually about six in every block of street. A lot of things are very similar to the States. For example, since being in Chile I´ve heard Justing Beiber´s name about 100 times, shopped at a place that looks like walmart, and even had people insult me in English, too. In Valparaíso, where I am right now, there are amazingly colorful latin houses built into the sides of these crazy hills. It looks like something out of Dr Suess, and it is so much fun to be here. Our hill also looks out over the rest of the city and the harbor. We can´t take pictures while proselyting otherwise I would attach them here, but I have seen some amazing bright vistas and breathtaking sunsets.
We get around either by walking or using Micros, which is the bus system around here. Most people we´ve talked to are either Catholic or Evangelical, with a few Jehova´s Witnesses mixed in there too (They always seem to want to bible bash, though. Don´t worry dad, I just bear testimony and leave).
Oh, and I ate a completo for the first time two days ago! Slathered in palta (avocado) and mayonaise, as promised, it was pretty rico.
I´ll try to keep including other details about Chile as well, and some pictures, too.
So, now, this last week. We had a lot more success this last week than the one before, but I´m still excited to keep pushing, keep growing, and keep inviting people to Christ. If we keep improving at the rate we are now, by the end of this change (4 more weeks) we´ll pretty much have converted the whole city!
One thing that I love about being here in Chile is seeing the Chilean young men prepare to go on missions. One young man, Jorge, is actually leaving tomorrow for the MTC in Peru. Another, Cesar, who won´t leave for a few more months, has been going with us to visit investigators. Every time we are out with him, he´ll say something like ¨¡Quiero irme en la misión ahora!¨ (I want to leave on my mission now). His excitement and his preparation are amazing for me to see. I am so grateful and so amazed for the faith and the strength that I have found here in Chile.
We taught an athiest through a window on Wednesday. We were looking for a contact from the street and we knocked on someone´s door; Sebastian stuck his head out his window, and we went over to ask him. 30 minutes later we knew that he didn´t believe in God, but his whole family was religious; we taught him that God is real and loves him; and he commited to read the Book of Mormon. Sadly, I didn´t get to be there for his second lesson, we did interchanges, but from what I could see or was told, he really does believe in God and just has had some hard times. But he had enough faith to start reading the Book of Mormon just after talking to a couple of 19 year old guys through his window. What an incredible person! I really believe God led us to him, because we never ended up finding the other guy.
Friday we had interchanges, so while our district leader was here with my companion I went out with his. The fun thing about this is that my companion-for-a-day knew less Spanish than I did. Thus, I ended up leading lessons in my second week out! I think I had the gift of tongues a bit extra that day, because it actually went pretty fantastically. One young man commited to be baptized, and his mom said that she would if she came to church and could tell that it was right. Next zone meeting I´m expecting to hear news that she wants to be baptized, too!
Yesterday, an investigator that I wrote about my first day, Guillermo, came to church. He came at just the right time--the primary program! Several times during the meeting he leaned over and said, ¨This is such an emotional experience. I can´t believe I´m here.¨ Guillermo is one of those amazing people who has absolutely been prepared by God. He has not had any trouble at all keeping any of his commitments, and every lesson nearly leaves Elder Paulsen and I in tears when he bears his testimony.
And to think, there are so many more out there who have been prepared in the same way! Yesterday after church we were walking between appointments when we saw a man leaning against his fence. We went over to talk to him and he invited us in. I didn´t understand everything that happened, but I know I felt God´s love for this one of His sons. We gave him a Book of Mormon and said we´d pass by again, even though he asked us not to teach him. Somehow I still feel like I am going to be a part of his conversion, even if it isn´t as speedy quick as was Guillermo´s.
I am so blessed and happy to be here. Every day I give thanks that I am serving a mission, that I´m in Chile, and that I am seeing such miracles every single day.
Another Chilean signoff: Que les vayan bien,
Elder Jason Ray