Here I start on 2012, the year of my life which will be totally and completely dedicated to being a missionary. I ́m also expecting to see some amazing miracles and make some big changes in this year. But lets start with this week.
This week, I think I learned a principle that will take me through the rest of my mission and, really, all my life. That principle is how to love somebody from the very first second you see them. See, for most street contacts that I had done before, I would stop somebody on the street, ask their name, and then try to say something about the gospel and pray that they would feel the spirit. However, a lot of the time it was like I was beating someone over the head with a message they didn ́t entirely want. Now, after learning a lot from my companion and doing a few practices in a zone conference, my mindset has changed. The entire mission now tries to do contacts by loving the person, getting to know them, and then offering them the gospel principle that they personally need. Now, instead of thinking "OK here is a person, should I talk about the Book of Mormon or eternal families?" I think "OK, here is a son/daughter of God, I love them and want to get to know them and help them." It ́s been a pretty amazing change, I ́m excited to keep going with this!
Something really cool we got to do on new years day--watch the Valparaíso firework show. It is fifth largest in the world, there were about 9 points along the coast from which they launched a 20-minute long show, at times it looked like the entire coast had caught fire and at times it looked like there were a billion shooting stars spread all across the night sky. I think this show could be considered one of the "Wonders of the Mission," and I ́m super happy I got to see it! Sadly no pictures, we were too far away (up in the hills) for them to have come out well.
On the 31 we also got news that the mission goal, 1000 baptisms in 2011, had been accomplished. Final number: 1012 baptisms. I don ́t think anything like this has happened in a long time, and I am so excited to be here in such a time of growth and ánimo!
For this new years, I decided to rededicate myself to the Lord. I am his, in every action and every thought. I realized there were a few things I needed to start doing--loving, serving, complimenting my companion more, talking to people even when I ́m tired or hungry, etc.--and that to start doing these things would be a perfect way to show my love for God and appreciation for all He has given me, especially this amazing mission call.
And a final note for the day (wow, short letter. Staying up til 1 for the firework show pretty much did me in!): My companion is leaving. Elder Paulsen got transfered to another part of the city--he leaves tomorrow, and my new companion, Elder Buffin arrives. I have learned so much here with Elder Paulsen, he really taught me how to be a missionary. I ́ll miss him. We had a lot of good times--a few hard times, but a lot of good ones--and a lot of success as well.
Last night we stopped by a recent convert ́s house so that Elder Paulsen could say bye. One of his converts, Melany (the granddaughter of Alberto, she is 9) broke down into tears when she heard he was leaving. He promised that he would write, and made her promise that she would keep going in the church "until your last breath." Her grandma, Rosa, thanked him deeply and profoundly for everything he has done for her family (Rosa is Alberto ́s wife. Alberto wasn ́t there last night, working).
Last three months have been great, and I ́m excited and ready for the next three.
Love you lots, and happy new years!
Elder Jason Ray
Jason says the following are: Picture of his Zone, Elder Umbach, Elder Marecos, and cool pictures of Valpariso