Even though I´m lazy and don´t take enough pictures, you can still see some mission pictures at http://misionvinadelmar.blogspot.com. Sister Känlein, the mission president´s wife, is pretty into picture taking (her camera is slightly larger than my leg), so there should be a few good ones there.
So. Getting to know a new branch is quite a lot of fun. I was especially happy meeting the bishop here in El Mirador--he is a return missionary from Paraguay, and is exactly the type of person that I want to be after my mission. He just radiates love, happiness, and the spirit, and has a really powerful vision and hope for the ward. One of the things that he asked of me as the newest missionary in the ward was to trust him, to let him help us.
I also got to meet MB, a really great guy who is preparing to be baptized at the end of August. He works renting out lots in a piece of property he owns--he has several houses, a small store, and a barbershop in his property. He is really committed to following God, and is really willing to make sacrafices and do things differently because God asks him to. He has also started to share the gospel with his neighbors and the people he rents to--he is a pretty great guy.
J is another investigator that I met when I got here (she just turned 18 a few days ago--happy birthday to her!) She has been meeting with missionaries for the last year, knows the church is true, wants to be a missionary some day, but is, for some reason, terrified of baptism. Right now we are trying to figure out how to help her get over her fear (it is a strange fear--she isn´t afraid of water, she isn´t afraid of being in front of people, or anything, just afraid of getting baptized). Your prayers are all appreciated.
We had lunch with the Elder´s Quorum president, A, and his wife . They remind me a good deal of Cindy Lynn and Mahon--he is a 25 year old return missionary, she is a 20 year old recent convert. They sing together every week as prelude to sacrament meeting, and cooked 8 home-mader pizzas to share with us (so delicious, way too much pizza).
J (diff J) is a 16 year old recent convert, and is a really interesting person. He lives with his mom and grandma, he knows kickboxing and martial arts, he has a speech impediment and trips over his words when he is nervous but sings like an angel--he actually records his songs, as well, and is slightly famous on Youtube (I'll get a link to one of his songs one day). He isn´t going to school right now (I´m not quite sure why) and goes out with us almost every day. One preparation day I want to go over to his recording studio (a cardboard box covered with egg cartons) and record some hymns with him.
This Friday was my first zone counsel. All of the zone leaders in the whole mission went to the mission office in Viña del mar, and President Känlein, the assistants, and all the office elders talked about important stuff the mission should know. We talked a lot about finding people to teach, and about the small things we need to do so that other people can easily tell that we really are representatives of Jesus Christ (normal rings are out, classic CTR rings are in). It was quite entertaining, I looked around in the middle of the conference at missionaries from all over the world, from all different backgrounds, gathered together and dedicated to the cause of Zion. The thought I had was, "I am surrounded by giants, by champeons, by powerful servants of God.
Last story. When I was in Quintero (two months ago. Wow, it seems like longer than that), I met a mini-missionary named A (one sister had to go home for health complications, so the mini-missionary came in to take her place until a new batch of missionaries got in). It turns out that she was baptized a year ago here in El Mirador. She has since moved and doesn´t live here, but her father, who is not a member, still does, and she introduced us to him. His name is L, he is a professor of history and probably one of the more intelligent people I have talked to in my mission. He read the entire Book of Mormon earlier in his life, and now seems quite commited and excited to say some serious prayers and ask God if he should change his life. I feel quite sure that I was sent here, in part, to answer A´s prayers and help her father to be baptized.
Viviendo el sueño,
Elder Jason Ray