Dear Family, and All!
Thank you for the great photos, and it sounds like you all had a really really nice Thanksgiving in good ol´ Martinez. It's good to hear that Mom is feeling beter and that the 49ers are still winning. Everything seems to be going really great back home which is good to hear.
Yeah, Thanksgiving here in Chile wasn´t anything too special. Elder Garcia and I did what we could to celebrate it, with a Papa Johns Chicken Pizza for lunch (that's kind of like turkey...right?), and then we took onze (?????) with an inactive family later in the evening. We, withHermana Julia Farai, and her son Rashid, and his girlfriend (I don't remember her name) all had turkey sandwiches and ice cream. Elder Garcia and I shared a short message about he importance of being thankful and everything was great! The situation of the family is really sad though. Hma Julia has been inactive for 4 or 5 years ever since her son left he church and is now athiest. At first whenever we went over to their house, Rashid would go upstairs or in the back yard because he didn't want anything to do with us, but over our past 4 or 5 visits he has stayed and talked with us, and reads with us. We are starting to win over his comfort and trust. On Thanksgiving night he went on for a half an hour about when he was active in the church, when he was in young men/young women's program, and when he was deacon's quorum president, and stuff like that. It was interesting -- his mom might think that he's really, really far away from the church, but I think there's still a little fire in him.
Anyways, this week has been super good, with all the usual business: district class on Thursday, and English class Wednesday night. We visited with Javier last night, and he is still doing well, still going to church, still reading. This past Sunday was the Primary (children's) program in sacrament meeting, and actually a new investigator named Eduardo came with a friend from his work. She invited him to come, so he came, and now we have a lesson with him on Wednesday! He had a really really good time. He has a daughter who is young, so he really enjoyed the primary program. The Pino family is doing better. They were going through a pretty rough time over the past couple of weeks, but now they are doing much better. Also they want you and Mom to fly out here at he end of my mission, so you can meet them.
We spent a majority of this week in houses of the members as well, but this week we put a focus on the leaders of the quorums, and of Relief Society, and the Primary, and all of that, finding out who they think we need to visit and what we could do to help them with their callings. In our spare time, we were going down the ward list. Our ward list has 700 people on it, but only 120 come to church on a regular basis, tops. So there are a good 600 members out here that aren't receiving blessings! This is what most of the work is down here in Chile, reactivating, because apparently in the 1980's or something Chile had the most baptisms in the world, but people need to understand that here is a diference between baptizing people, and helping people become actually converted to this church. A number is a number, but real missionary work is helping souls come to Christ. The transition of lifestyle for a recent convert is SO, SO, SO, SO, SO important and if it doesn't go smoothly, if they dont feel supported or acepted by the ward, they fall away, go inactive. There are about 14 "recent converts" in this ward but only 4 are coming out to church on a semi regular basis. Elder Garcia and I were able to talk the bishop into visiting with us yesterday, and we had a meeting about this; that his ward neds to be a ward family and this ward needs to get excited for missionary work, or else this ward isnt going to grow, its going to shrink. He was totally on board, and understands that the sucess of missionary work starts with the ward. So, that is going to be mine and Elder Garcia's focus over these next several weeks, uniting this ward and getting them excited!
Today was a really nice PDay. We went to this place called Santa Lucia, and I took lots of photos. We actually went with my old comp, Elder Garcia and a few others. We bought some cool mapuche stuff and ate a lot, and it was a grand time. I spent a good portion of my morning writing letters to some people who sent me leters or dearelders. Expect responses in the mail! ERIN BAUMGARTNER SENT ME THE COOLEST PACKAGE IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD, and I got it on Thanksgiving day, so that was really cool, too. Getting a Thanksgiving present -- that hardly ever happens.
Anyways, I love you all. I miss you all. I'm praying for you all, and I'm super excited for Andrew to get his call. I know this church is true, and the blessings that it can bring into our lives are 100000% real! Keep being amazing, and I can't wait to hear from you all next week!
P.S. Christmas stuff -- I would absolutely love a nice little package of PHOTOS. I really do love photos (and if you could tell that to the public too).
Some great pics below. Also, see this link for lots more photos that Elder Schwartz just mailed home and are now posted on a picasa site.
|I own this place!|
|Me and my chilean girlfriend|
|with "new" Elder Garcia|