Dear Mom and Dad,
If there are any random letters or numbers in this letter, then you should know that it is because Javier, Elder Gatica, and Gaby (Yessica´s 4 year old daughter) decided today was bother-Elder-Ray day. But I´ll try to get it to come out understandable.
First off--did you know that here in Chile, Christmas is the 24th? Santa Clause passes by all the houses during the day, and everyone opens presents at midnight. I figured it must be because Santa Clause needed to work more hours to reach the whole world, so he reached an agreement with Chile to move up their Christmas a few hours.
Yesterday in church was a special Christmas program. The ward choir sang hymns while the bishop gave short introductions to each one, talking about different aspects of Christ´s birth. Two of my favorites were "If You Could Hie to Kolob," which isn´t in the spanish hymnal but that we translated, and "Oh Holy Night."
This week we also had our Christmas Conference in the mission. We prepared a skit, a hymn, a capacitation (how do you say that in English? Training?), and a little gift interchange. For our hymn, we did "Angels We Have Heard on High" (just for you, mom).
A couple of cool updates--Yessica and Janyra set the goal of going to the temple the third week in January with the ward. They are going to a class on Family History during the second hour on Sunday to get prepared.
We met the Soto family. Marta Soto, who is a returned missionary, recently came back to church with help from her neighbor. Her kids, Kevin (17) and Valentina (15), came to church for the first time in about a year yesterday. I really feel like I understand Valentina, because she is really worried about studies, doing well in school, and an eventual career (in Chemistry). We´ll keep trying to help them get firmer in this next week.
Carlos is doing pretty great, he came to play soccer with us this morning, and also went to church yesterday. He is pretty worried right now about the house he is living in--when he started renting the house, he had an agreement with its owner that he would eventually buy it. So he upgraded the entire house, basically rebuilding it over again, and now the owner says she doesn´t want to sell... Today he is talking it out with her again, so we are praying that everything ends up alright. Janyra accompanied us to a lesson with Carlos, it was pretty great.
Have I written about the Wiker family? The other day we were looking at the ward directory and we say "Renato Wiker." We didn´t recognize the name, so we decided to go by. There we met Renato, his wife, and his grandson, Bayron. Renato and his wife are now pretty commited to return to church, and Bayron (11) wants to get baptized. It was pretty miraculous how we found them, and right when they had been wondering what path their lives needed to take!
Matias is really excited to get baptized, but his parents still haven´t given him the green light. His dad says that he wants him to wait until he turns 14 in another month, but he really wants to be baptized this next weekend so that he can go on the ward temple trip in January. Your prayers are all appreciated!
I´m excited to see you all tomorrow. Merry Christmas Eve!
Elder Jason Ray