Quick note, I didn’t email yesterday because we had interviews with the president. So today is p-day instead, lo siento.
I dont know where to start. There is a super different perception of time in the mission. Don’t take this wrong, but you all only exist for the most part for an hour and a half a week. Now, what I mean by that is that I only get news of you about once a week. The rest of the time, I think of your examples, I keep you in my prayers, but I don´t have a good concept of what is happening in your lives at any given moment. But for this hour and a half it is really magnificent to see how you are, to here about all of the little parts of life that aren’t part of my life right now. So I get here and I read about your weeks and the time that you have and think, Wow. When was that? How did it go? And what is happening now? and then I think. Well I will know next week, I guess. It is nice to hear that you are all healthy and well though.
Quick business [related to his request for a hydropak]. Mom, I will encounter something down here, those fees are ridiculous and sometimes things get fined once in country, it happened to my companion. So I don’t want to deal with that. I am sure I can locate something that will function better for me. The only problem here, is that ther are not a whole lot of people interested in the outdoors. At least, not that would need a sturdy small bag. They just like the beach, and a bright colored beach bag is the exact opposite of what I am looking for. However do not dismay and do not worry about shipping anything, I will obtain algo.
Well, if I am reading correctly, Dad, your job search is going well. Maine, other than the cold during the winter, wouldn´t be a bad place to live. Nathan, congrats on your talk [Nathan gave a five minute talk in Sacrament meeting, the main meeting at Church]; I am sure you presented it well. I read it; and it was very good. Also, on the spaghetti project [he had to build a tower out of uncooked pasta that would hold five pounds), you are a little engineer. Good work. I am super impressed by the efforts that you make in school and in fulfilling your callings at church. You definitely serve as an example of diligence and hard work for me as I try and move forward the work down here in Chile. So thank you for that example and keep up the hard work. Also, Super good grades buddy!!! Also, I know school is hard; I know that it is frustrating. I know as you work through it though that the Lord will bless you for your diligence.
Gideon. I have a quick story for you. When I was younger, I learned a lot from Mark. We played together, we hung out together, he taught me as I did things wrong and tried to guide me in the best possible way that he could. I owe a lot of who I am to the effort that he put in to being an incredible older brother for me. Obviously there was a lot of help in my development from Mom and Dad too; however, they are not there all of the time. I encourage you to be like Mark, for Addie. She is about 5 years younger, the same difference between Mark and I. You have the opportunity to be a guiding influence in her life. I hope that you try and do that for her. Try and be an example that she can follow as she continues to get older. Good work on you Tae Kwon Do and in school. Stay focused in school. I know that was one of my problems, and I hope that you don´t ever let it become a problem for you. There is so much to learn, in everything. Don’t neglect your education for anything, especially now that you are developing a habit of studying the scriptures. This is a wonderful habit to obtain. Keep it up.
Addie. I cannot wait to see pictures of you doing your ballet. I am happy to hear of your continuing efforts in learning. I hope that you are being a big help around the house, because you are a big girl now and that is what big girls do. I love you and hope you realize that I think of you often….Or more, when I have time 🙂 Be good.
Okay, news from the week. The best food that I have eaten from Chile, this week, is called pebre. It is a spicy, salsa type of thing and it is delicious. I think we are eating with the same family today. So I am definitely excited to have that. Although, on another food note entirely. We had lunch on Sunday with a couple from America, who works for the Church farm system down here. It was sooooo gooood to taste american food and to have an easy meal conversation in english. That is besides the point though. My companion and I are doing well. We have six baptism dates right now. Sadly, we lost one yesterday. It was for this weekend, and he had his baptismal interview scheduled for tomorrow. It was a real bummer to watch and not to be able to find what it was that we needed to say and do to help him. So we left him a little study to do; and hopefully, he will accept later and get baptized. However, the work goes on and we are going to meet with a bunch of new investigators at the end of today. We hope to be able to get them progressing.
Okay. My companion and I are good. We work hard and he is a super good teacher, not just to the investigators but to me as well. It cannot be easy teaching me; I have a tendency to be a little block headed. I have a lot left to learn though, so I am grateful that I have as much time as I do with him. The hardest challenge in reality is my own expectations. We are getting a lot done, a ton of stuff done; and I just want to get more done. I want to be teaching every person we contact, and I want all of our investigators to be progressing towards baptism. Not only that, I have high expectations for myself. The problem is, it really brings everything into the wrong light. I am not here for me. Nor are all of the people ready to here the gospel yet. The true problem is that it focuses my attention in on my weaknesses and not on the work that does need to get done. It focuses my efforts on myself and not on the investigator, where the attention should be. So every time I catch myself slipping that way, I work on remembering Ether 12:27 and remembering that weaknesses are a part of the plan and if I wasnt at least recognizing them, then I wouldnt be headed in the right direction. One step at I time, I move forward though; and I am grateful for the Lords patience in my faltering baby steps towards being a better tool in his hands.
Weekly news. Friday we had a conference with the northern part of the mission. That was super good. We had workshops and presentations, and I learned a whole lot. President Gillespie gave an incredible presentation on the The pillars of eternity (The Creation, The Fall and The Atonement). It was an hour and a half of knowledge being shared. That was the first time that I have really heard any long presentation from him, and I am excited for when it happens again. He is a dentist, from Washington State. If you want to know more, I believe it is on the mission blog. His emphasis is definitely baptism and retention though and doing it in the fastest and most efficient manner as possible.
I will close with a spiritual experience that we had as we taught a lesson. We are teaching this husband and wife. It was our first lesson with them and so we taught the restoration [the principle that sometime after Jesus was crucified and most of the apostles were killed, the early Christian church apostatized from the truth. God called Joseph Smith as His prophet to restore the truth] and then finished with the invitation to read and study the Book of Mormon. When we finished though, the husband sat there an little stunned. He said “We have talked to a lot of different religious groups. They always come in and say ‘It is true. We know it is true. This is the only true church. Just come and join us,’ and I have always felt that isn’t right. You all however, have come in and shared and then asked us to find out for ourselves. That feels right.” WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OOOOO!!!!!!…. Oh yeah by the way, para que sepan…they accepted a baptismal date for the 26 of February if by then they have received a response to their prayers! So excited for them. We get to go teach them more tonight.
Okay, that is all that I have time for this week. I love you all and pray that all continues to be well at home,
Elder Caleb Tonkinson
Oh, also, I plan on sending letters up there next week. I have to finish writing them today… and then get them in the mail. I am really sorry; it just takes a long time, and there is a work that has to get done concerning the people here in La Serena. I am sorry, but my letters home, that are on paper, are going to be super infrequent. Also great scripture of the week. Or just great scripture. Romans 5:8. I really like this scripture because The Atonement is everything and I believe that in a short phrase, this scripture captures everything of the Atonement: our inability to do it for ourselves, the fact that Christ did it, the Love of God that is behind it, and the opportunity that it gives us.