Business first…as always. I don´t need a backpack;
I just bought one down here. It isn’t exactly what I wanted. As in, it doesn’t have a water bladder (although, those really can’t be gotten down here) although it actually has space for one, and a hole.
However, it is super sturdy and I feel like I should easily be covered at this point. It is significantly better, as far as size and comfort for every day walking then my North Face one is. It was 40000. or about $80. I actually bought that just about an hour ago There is a picture included, although it looks a bit bigger in the picture then it really is. It is about 1.5 times as tall as my shoe.
This week though, I have been wearing my belovedly named smurse or the scripture man purse. It holds my scriptures and an extra book of mormon and folletos, but is super uncomfortble and I can’t carry water at all. There are pictures with me wearing it in the files.
The other picture is of pancakes. I really need to carry my camera more, so I can get you some more pictures, but we really only have p-days to carry them. Another like-two, short sleeve shirts would be nice, at the same time, I don’t want to have too much stuff. The thing that would actually be the best is my electric razor. It is packed up in my boxes of stuff, and there are plenty of places to charge it. No problemas. So, that would be incredible. I can’t remember if it needs a transformer though; and if that is the case, that could be a problem. As far as everything else. I am really doing well. I have everything I need down here. Certainly don’t feel as if you need to send anything down.
My spanish is coming along. I practice every morning and obviously when we are working I use it a lot. I think the biggest thing is that I am not recognizing that some things just take time. I want to be able to get across all of my thoughts, and I can’t do that yet. So, the work goes on but I am where I should be given the circumstances. If my companion were a native, I think I would be considerably farther along, but time will bring that to me.
Of course I have money for the last two days of the month. [Missionaries are given a certain allocation of money for the month. Cameo had asked if he had any left since it was two days until the end of the month] Like 3 dollars 🙂 I actually have about $35. But most of that, I don’t have in my hands. I bought our gas a week and a half ago and will get a refund, but not until the beginning of the month. So, yeah I have money; I planned right. I just don’t have any with me. Now that I know the costs of things, I should easily be able to save $15-$20 a month. That is for right now though. Since I don’t have to do lots of exchanges [going to different areas and working with other missionaries] like the district and zone leaders [missionaries called to lead other groups of missionaries under the direction of the mission president] do, I don’t have that many extra expenses. I am beginning to slowly enjoy the avocados and tomatoes more. “Like” is a little bit of a stretch, but tomatoes don’t make me gag as they did before. So, I guess that is a positve. Whether I ever really like them, is to be seen.
The temperatures run, like 30´s but that is in Celsius. The problem is the sun. There is almost no cloud cover here, so I am just baking most of the day. So, yes, I wear sunscreen and lots of it. I have a nice watch tan, as well as a tan line at my collar line also. It is pretty great.
Okay, last business. I am not printing off the letters. I just read them during my email time. It takes me like ten minutes to read all of them, and then I still have plenty of time to do all of my typing. You all don’t need to make any changes, although I don’t know if you want to keep sending hard copies. If I want a hard copy of any given letter, I will just print it. Otherwise, it is going to be hard to carry all of them. Plus, I can file them up and print them after my mission to have a record of them.
All righty. So I am now going to try and give a summary of my week. Most of our days this week have been the same. We got up and studied. Had lunch, and then worked. A lot of our investigators aren´t home, so we spent a lot of time trying to find new ones, which sadly is not going too well. There seems to be a dearth of willing people. Anyway, I am going to share a couple interesting stories from the week and then something I have been thinking about in relation to the work. First, lots of people in Chile live in one part of the country, and work in another. They commute depending on their shift schedule, but once a week is common. The commute is the ridiculous part. There are many, many, many people in La Serena, who work in Antofogasta. That is a 12 hour bus ride. 12 hours!! Nuts! Second, we had lunch with a family that speaks 4 languages. Russian, English, Spanish and German! So cool. They are a couple that have one child. She is from Russia, and he is Chilean. Oh, and they met in Paris and spoke English to each other because that is the only language they had in common. SO COOOOOOL!
They say “cualquier otra dia” [any other day], to mean, “Please don’t come back; I won’t talk to you then either.”
I want to share more of the stories, but I had to write my president so I don´t have time. Maybe next week. However, here is what I have been thinking. As we get doors slammed in our faces, people say rude things, rejection happens and we have the rarer moments where it clicks for someone I have been thinking. As a missionary, the only way anything gets done is with the guide of the Spirit and with your love for the people. I have found that I love the people: their customs, their somewhat different mannerisms and the opportunity that I have to work with them. As a whole, I love them. However, I find it harder to love the one; and unfortunately for me, the gospel is a one by one thing. Christ healed one by one; the people felt his wounds one by one [when Christ appeared in the Western Hemisphere as related in the Book of Mormon]; we are judged one by one and we have the atonement applied to us as individuals and not as groups, one by one. When someone makes excuses not to change, when they tell me they believe but not enough to do anything, when they say I don´t care about your message because I belong to such and such church and I don’t need you, I find that my love falters. It takes a huge hit, and my tendency is to want to bash them over the head with scriptures they profess to study so intently, or I have the desire to have the power to call down lightning on them or strike them dumb. Not generally so strong, but sometimes I think, “Why won’t you open your ears and listen.” We will ask people “Do you think that you can be happier?” And the answer is always “Yes.” “Would you be willing to work to get that happiness?” “Yes.” “The message that we carry, we testify can help you and your family find a level of happiness and peace that will change your life and that you have not had before, could we share this message with you for 10-15 minutes?” “No, I don’t have time to listen to your message. I am too busy.” And then they leave, and I watch them walk away and think, “Do people like being sad? and lost?” Then yesterday we found someone completely drunk. I mean he reaked of alcohol, but he wanted to talk to us. So we did, and we sat down, and we had a lesson with him. We taught him the restoration. We talked to him about the Word of Wisdom [revelation given to Joseph Smith in 1833 that proscribes the use of wine, strong drinks, tobacco and hot drinks. Sometimes referred to as the Lord’s Law of Health”]. We talked for almost an hour and a half, and as we did I got to thinking again. I found it much easier to love this man, a man who by his own admission was lost, drunk and didn’t necessarily want to change, then it was to love all the other people that we had encountered. Maybe it was just because he would listen to me. Maybe it is just because it was clear that he really needs some changes in his life. Maybe it is because it is easier to love someone that could be changed by the result of a real miracle. I don’t really know. I don’t have an answer for it. It just got me to thinking. Everyone has something. Some have the outward signs of having been broken by life. Some just carry them on the inside. But there are a lot of people that have “Hands that hang down” and need strength in their “Weary Knees” . As I think of that, it gives me the perspective to go to the next door and knock, and to smile and to ask people to change and accept the Gospel and a happier way of living. I am thankful for the influence it has had in my life and I am thankful for the opportunity to share it.
All of my love,
— Elder Caleb Tonkinson