Dear Mom and Dad,
HUGE week this week, and I´m going to finish it off by telling you about the changes that just happened, because I am leaving O´Higgins. But first, other news.
I am actually getting better at soccer. I can now make the ball move forcefully in a chosen direction (this action is commonly reffered to as "kicking") about 90% of the time, and when Elder M acted like a really lazy goaly, I scored a few shots. With another year and a half of practice, I should come back playing at about the level of a third grader--but with a lot of Chilean flair.
We had two minor earthquakes this week. The first one was on Saturday at about 4:30 in the morning, and lasted two minutes. 5.2 on the Richter. I woke up and was quite scared, because the bed was shaking enough I thought it was probably an earthquake, but I was too tired to wake up my companion so he never felt it. I waited for about ten minutes to see if there would be an aftershock, then went back to sleep. Hey, it was 4:30 in the morning. The second was an actual earthquake, though it happened hundreds of miles away in the south of Chile. It was still decently strong here, I heard somewhere in between 6 and 7, but neither I, nor my companion, nor the 15 year old young man from the ward who was acompanying us noticed it, even though it lasted two and a half--three minutes. When we came out of the side passage where we had been, someone in the street asked us if we felt the earthquake. He could hardly believe when we told him that none of us had even felt it!
My companion and I taught a pretty awesome lesson to a nine year old girl this week. We were teaching about the Restauration (Restoration for you English speakers) of the Gospel, but to help her understand everything, we illustrated the whole lesson using pieces of candy. Whenever we mentioned prophets she got to eat a piece of candy, so I think she was quite happy with what she learned.
I went to Rodelillo this week in interchanges, just a couple of hills over from the one where I live and work. While I was there we did a service project, painting a room in somebody´s house. While we were walking to the service project, the other Elder decided that we should kick a soccer ball on the way there. It was fun and entertaining until we got to a really big hill and I lost control of the ball. I ended up racing the ball down two and a half city blocks, finally stopping it before it got away and made it´s way down to the Plan (the flat part of Valparaíso before you get to the hills). It was quite an adventure, but in the end I didn´t have to buy anybody another soccerball, so I´m ok.
In this same interchange, we were about to go teach a recent convert when we looked through a crack in the door to his yard and noticed him sitting outside reading the Book of Mormon. I´ll send a picture that we sneakily took, too--it was just such a precious, beautiful moment to happen upon.
We found an awesome family this week--J, P and B, their 19 year old son. They had a near relative who was a member of the church, so when we knocked on their door they let us right in to talk for a bit. B impressed me quite a bit. While we were talking about the gospel and how the Book of Mormon was the key to their knowing that our message was true, B taught himself and his family a couple of really incredible truths while just sharing his opinion about the way things are. I am so grateful for the promise that all who read the Book of Mormon really can learn that it is true, because I know it will help B and his family to find the same joy and happiness that I have found through this gospel.
Last interchange story, this time from Placilla, a little town half an hour away from Valparaíso. We taught a woman named Señora Q. She had, years before in her life, been really active in the Baptist church. She had already read the Bible several times cover to cover, and understood the scriptures faster and better than anybody else I had ever met, including other missionaries. She understood the promise of the Book of Mormon, that in order to know it is true you have to read it and pray about it, but she was unwilling to pray because she didn´t want to open the door to her past, to a lot of disilusionment and shattered dreams. We encouraged her a lot to pray and ask if our message was true, but she still had trouble opening up enough to give it a try. It made me really grateful for the things that I already know to be true, and that I was able to learn them and their truth in a relatively painless manner. I do hope and pray that Señora Q does decide to pray about it, though, because there is a whole lot of happiness waiting for her when she does.
And now, at long last, the moment you have all been waiting for--what is going on with changes! I am leaving the wonderful ward of O´Higgins, leaving behind Elder B and a couple of really great converts. I´ve already said all of my goodbyes, all that is left is for me to pack my bags and head over to Viña del Mar tomorrow morning. I will be going to a little city a few miles away from Viña called Quintero. I am going to open the area there, which means that I´ll start working in a place that hasn´t had missionaries there before, or at least hasn´t had them for a few months--I am also going to be training a new missionary, fresh from the MTC. I kind of feel like I am starting my mission all over again. Going to a new place, where nothing is familiar, with a new missionary who has even less of an idea of what he is doing than I do. However, I know that with God´s help I can do it, that He trusts me with this responsability and that He will help me to be able to do it. I am excited to be able to serve in this way, excited to serve my Lord and serve my brothers and sisters here in Chile. All I know about the missionary I´ll be training is that he is latino, because there aren´t any gringo missionaries coming into the mission this change. I´m ready to start!
Its absolutely amazing me that God has given this wonderful, fantastic privelege of being His servant and representative to me, a 19 year old kid from North Carolina. But I know that this work is true, that this is the true church, and I wouldn´t rather be anywhere else in the world.
Viviendo el sueño,
Elder Jason Ray