Dear Mom and Dad,
Can you believe that the next time we speak, it will be 2013? I´m still going crazy thinking about that!
Christmas was really delightful, I did enjoy being able to see you and talk to you. I´m still amazed by Jared´s voice. And Cindy Lynn´s belly.
We also had a great Christmas here in Chile, everybody treated us really quite well. We had a fantastic dinner with the Sepúlveda family, our ward mission leader, we had stuffed chicken and fried potatoes. I think the best part was probably the gifts that we brought for them--it was so great to see their happiness as they opened them, especially when Martin (6) started playing with the bow and arrow we brought for him. I felt pretty great :D
In other news, we have moved to a new appartment that is about 10 times nicer than our old one and, to sweeten the deal a little bit more, is literally next door to the church. It´s even worth being on the 7th floor (although my arms were a little tired after carrying the beds up all those floors!)
So, I got an idea from Elder Applegate, who is sitting next to me and writing to his family right now. He is doing a wrap up of 2012, including all of his different areas, companions, and any special lessons he learned. I´m going to try doing the same thing, we´ll see how it turns out.
Stage One: January to March.
Companion: Elder Buffum.
I think this was one of the stages in my mission that I learned the most, that I formed who I would be as a missionary. I started really comminicating in spanish, instead of just speaking moderately well and not understanding hardly anything. I also learned how to teach simply, using the scriptures, to answer specific needs that every person on earth has, to help them realize how the gospel really gives us everything that we need.
This was also a very funny time--Elder Buffum was quite a jokester, and I learned a good stock of lame jokes in spanish that I still pull out from time to time (to my companion´s dismay).
Stage Two: April to June:
Companion: Elder Sosa.
If i learned how to be a missionary in O´Higgins, Quintero was where I really put it all into practice. Elder Sosa was just starting out his mission, and we were put into a ward that neither of us were familiar with. Along with learning how to read a map, I talked with hundreds of people in the street, and for the first time started working with ward members to help find and teach investigators. I think I matured a lot here, just because my companion had less idea of what he was doing than I did (even though I was still relatively clueless). I also kind of faced down my own prideful desires and worked to submit them to God´s will, to lose myself in this work and be just an instrument in God´s hands. And I took lots of pretty beach pictures.
Stage 3: June to July
Companion: Elder Arbon.
Area: La Ligua
I really appreciated La Ligua for two things. First off, I was priveleged to be called as the branch secretary, and was there right in time to help the ward leadership be completely reorganized. It was an exciting, inspiring time, and I feel like I made a few really meaningful contributions. The second part was working with Elder Arbon. From day one, we hit it off fantistically (pretty much the same thing that happened with Elder Lucero in the MTC), and worked together in the closest thing to perfect unity that I¨ve ever experienced. It gave me an idea for how all companionship relationships really should be.
Stage 4: August until now.
Companions: Elder Barría, Elder Gatica.
Area: El Mirador.
I´m still living this part of the journey. I am learning more about myself and about other people, about how to help, motivate, and inspire, and a lot more about working together with everyone--my companion, ward leaders, other missionaries, etc. I have been blessed to get to know some really incredible people, and have learned a few lessons that will bless my whole life (for example, how to follow promptings of the spirit, that I should work in Family History, and how to play soccer). I hope to keep learning and growing as much as I have done so up to this point, and even more.
I am so grateful for the blessing that my mission is in my life. I am endlessly grateful that God would call little old me and send me out as his personal representative, to take the most important message in the whole world to those who most desire it.
Con mucho amor, y
Viviendo el Sueño,
Elder Jason Ray