Tuesday, July 10, 2012

July 9, 2012

Dear Mom and Dad,

Fun week! I turned 20, which is odd, because I still feel the same as I did when I was 19. But by that logic, I still feel just the same as I did when I was 8... well, at least I'm taller. But, everything in its order.

Here in La Ligua, instead of using computers at a ciber cafe, we go to the B's house (the married missionaries here). Last Monday we had lunch here as well. We had a nice conversation with them both about how they decided to be missionaries (they had been planning for years and years), talked about their families, and just enjoyed a few hours talking in English. I think God probably put me here in La Ligua for quite a few reasons, but one of the big ones has to be meeting the B's and hearing their story. I'm thinking more and more now about serving a mission with my wife someday... So yeah, fun times.

Because I was called as the branch secretary here, I get to sit in on the weekly leadership meetings. This last week, we were thinking about who could be a possible music conductor, since three different people are trading amongst themselves right now, but nobody has the consistent responsibility to lead the music. While we were all thinking about who it could be, when the name of a sister in the ward, someone who is just barely coming back after a few years away, who wants to serve and do whats right, came to my head. It was a very clear and insistent thought, and I suggested her for the calling. It was neat to be a part of the revelatory experience that leads to people's callings, very testimony-strengthening to know that God really is that much a part of the process.

One of our investigators right now is T, an older lady who walked into church on her own one day. She is a sweet lady, and even though she doesn't always understand everything, she really feels the spirit when we share, and she absolutely loves going to church. We had a dessert night activity last week that she went to, and it was really incredible to see everybody opening up and letting her in to share, laugh, enjoy with them. She gets nervous when we start going through something too fast, but she seems to be moving forward quite well.

A few days ago my companion, Elder A, had the idea to leave little notes in a bunch of different places saying all the things he appreciated about me. So that morning when I got up there was a note in my hot chocolate can, in my wallet, in my journal, in my scriptures, all of them saying things like "thanks for working hard with me" or "thanks for your faith." It was a really sweet gesture, Elder A is a pretty incredible missionary.

We had lunch with the Elder's Quorum president on my birthday. When it came out that it was my birthday, his 5 year old son A wanted to bring me a present. He brought out a tiny little toy skateboard, and said that even though it was really special to him, he wanted me to have it. I thanked him, but right when I stepped on, I heard a *crack*. I don't know why I didn't think that, obviously, I would be too big for it, but I snapped the wheels right off! So, my birthday present turned out to be a child-sized skateboard for 5 year old A that I bought for him. Quite entertaining. (And yes, I got myself a birthday present too. Socks and a hat made out of wool to ward of the winter night chill, I'm excited to use them!)

We had a lesson this weekend with a bunch of the youth from the branch. We talked about a talk by President Monson called "The Abundant Life," about all the things someone needs to do to have a happy and successful life. It was quite entertaining, I really enjoy teaching/working with youth.

Another thing that happened on my birthday--I was thinking a lot about what a birthday is, and what its meaning is, when I had a thought. Instead of always focusing in on myself on my birthday, it should be a day when I thank God for my life by serving others. Instead of planning a party, I should plan a service project. For some reason, that seemed like a good idea, a good way to celebrate.

Elder A and I sang in church this week, a beautiful version of "Abide with Me, Tis Eventide." Elder A has a fantastic voice--he was involved in musicals and choir all through high school--and I can sing a good base on that song, so it ended up really beautiful. I still do have stage fright, and at one point grabbed onto the pulpit to stop my legs from shaking, but I'm making progress!

We have a mission leader now (we didn't before) named Hermano Espejo (for you spanish speakers, yes, that is Brother Mirror). He is a return missionary from Osorno, the southern part of Chile. He served a mission quite a few years ago, and told us a bunch of stories about how his mission was in that time. He said that one time they walked 4 hours to get to an appointment, because they didn't have enough money back then to pay for transportation, and it fell through, so they just walked right back to town. I am definitely happy to be able to take a bus every once in a while!

Viviendo el sueño,

Elder Jason Ray

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