Those are the first few words of our mission song. Yes, we have a song and it is super good. Sorry that I didn´t get to many of your questions last week. I will get all of them, now.
My ward. There are roughly 250 members attending right now. In Chile, there is pretty much active and inactive. So there are about 250 super fiel miembros de la iglesia y casi 600 inactivos. O si, there are 250 loyal members to the church and about 600 inactives. Sorry, I have been trying hard just to talk Spanish, and it is really rough trying to type in English today. So my ward is awesome; they fellowship super well. Other than that, there isn´t a whole lot to say. They run the spectrum from a couple of Americans who are rich for Americans to a couple Chileans who are quite poor. It is all different kinds of people. There are widely varying degrees of understanding of basic doctrines sometimes but all of the leadership have pretty solid groundings. The interesting thing is to see the influence of so many Catholic converts, just in the way that many of them still have super large amounts of respect for the Virgen Mary. Not that they shouldn’t, just that they talk about it. [Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have a deep respect for Mary as the chosen vessel for the birth and raising of the Savior of the World, but do not worship her in any sense].
I would ride my bike, if I had one. No bikes, no cars, just feet. There is only one area in the mission with bikes. So that is two missionarys. The asistants have a truck. Other than that, no missionarys drive or ride bikes here. By foot, micro (small bus), colectivo and for big changes, large buses.
As you can see, my Spanish is coming along. I am trying not to speak English at all right now. It is really difficult in the pension but it is getting better. I dream in Spanish; when I have been speaking it for a while I think in Spanish and for the most part I know all of the rules. Most of my faults are when I say something that I learned wrong earlier. There are a couple things like that, words that are masculine I say feminine or reverse. They aren’t a huge deal for understanding; it is just clear to the natives that I still have some trouble with spanish.
My average hours of sleep are decreasing poco a poco. I normally can´t fall asleep until about 11:30 and have been waking up at about 6:30. It isn´t to bad, I don´t feel tired, it is just a bummer because I still have to be in bed at those hours due to rules. Anyway, I just sit there and think, or pray or go over lists of Spanish vocab in my head.
I admire my companions ability to recognize the Lords hand in lots of things. I miss it a lot, and he will comment about how things got set up so we could be somewhere in a specific moment. Then I look at it and say “Wow, how did I miss that.” I have also been impressed with his efforts in the last week as district leader.
So those are the questions from last week.
The food is really quite good. Although super fattening and they feed us a lot. So I am actually changing my breakfast and night time eating habits and foods so that I can be healthier and keep from gaining weight. There is plenty of salt but not a whole lot of flavor. Also, I am starting to not gag at tomato. I don´t like it, but it is like eating celery for me now, not necesarilly tasty, but not unpleasent. The same can not be said for palta (avocado). I don´t know if it is the pure fat content, the texture or the flavor, but if I eat even a normal amount of it, I still don´t like it.
I haven´t eaten anything too strange, I guess. Nope they don´t really eat anything strange here. Although salad means tomatos and onions in oil, and that isn´t that good. Everything else has been relatively agreeable.
My work has been good. There is always room for improvement and this week was slow due to things that we had to do with the arrival of new missionaries. However, I am working hard and we are making progress.
Alright. This week.
Tuesday. One of the new Elders came. He had been in the office for six months and is now back out in the field for his last couple changes. He is training and is also a district leader. So in our apartment, we have the zone leaders and the two district leaders in our zone. His arrival meant a lot of reorganizing in the apartment. We aren´t going to be able to find a house for another week or so because it is still tourist season. Things are working though. Elder Garcias companion arrived Wednesday afternoon. His name is Elder Lastra and is Columbiano. It just means that showers are short and that everyone has to clean up super good after themselves or it deteriorates fast. Due to our efforts though, it is actually more ordered then last change and we get more done. We had 8 investigators at church on sunday between our three companionships and all are headed towards baptism.
Speaking of which, we got a call on thursday from a mother. She is a less active member but she called us to come visit her and her family. We went, and she asked us to give us a blessing to her young daughter (who reminds me soooooooo much of Addie it is painful (not really painful but you get the point) to be in lessons with her) who is also 5 years old. So we did, and then we found out that her 9 year old daughter wasn´´t a member. So, we taught her a lesson on the plan of salvation. This Sunday she was at church for all three hours, and then came back for another activity that lasted like 3 hours and was one of the last to leave from both. SOOOO good. Anyway, that was exciting.
We continue to work with the people that we are finding, and we continue to find so the work goes forward. Being in a pension where the focus is getting better has been really nice. I have been able to do some serious study of Preach My Gospel and of the Scriptures in the past week. I think that it will probably be one of the best skills that I get out of the mission. The ability to study and to focus on study for hours at a time, that is not something that I have ever had the power to do before, and it should help a lot.
There isn’t a whole lot more from this week. Although, tomorrow we have interchanges with a companionship and the one that is coming with me is from Canada and his Spanish isn’t so great. So, I am a little nervous to have to take on the burden of understanding more and talking more. Anyway, I think I can handle it.
I love you, am happy to hear that life moves forward as normal. I was trying to think of a spiritual thought to share with all of you but I guess the best thing that I can share is obedience. Elder Holland said that “Obedience is the first law of everything. Will we use our agency to be obedient? That is the question of all eternity.” Follow the commandments and you will be blessed.
All of my love and all of my prayers,
Elder Caleb Tonkinson