Tuesday, January 26, 2016

I finally played fútbol



My current roommates


 

So this week we got a new MTC president (President Brady). He's a really nice guy and definitely still learning exactly how to do things, but he'll become an amazing president. His wife knows zero Spanish and she always looks kind of terrified due to the language, but she's very spiritual and she will fill the shoes of Hermana Doll quite nicely.
 
My companion is progressing a bit in the language but still struggling. I'm trying my best to let him talk 50-50 in our lessons and I think that's helped him a lot!

Here is a rundown of this week in the MTC.
We were practicing the invitation to attend church with two other elders by first pretending we were the investigators and then later switching roles and becoming the missionaries. We were the investigators for ten minutes and the missionary I was teaching with had his eyes closed at times and didn't say much. Later, we gave feedback and began teaching them. About halfway into our lesson I was sharing a scripture and the missionary who had had his eyes closed gave me a look and said "what are you doing... we're the investigators". He either fell completely asleep, or just wasn't following the conversation, but it was a very classic moment. Another one happened when we were teaching a lesson and a missionary wanted to give the investigator (not a real investigator) a Book of Mormon. This missionary didn't realize I had one for her, so I told her he had one on his "bike" and he went sprinting down the hall to find one. Our teacher, who was trying to stay in character just started cracking up.



So another interesting experience was a couple nights ago me and a couple other guys were in another room talking with some Elders in the room next door. The topic of conversation at one point became repentance and different roads we've taken to get to this point. I was blown away by all the challenges people had dealt with in their lives, especially the addictions. Some Elders had really struggled with addictions to pornography, cigarettes, other drugs, alcohol, and other various struggles. I never would have guessed. They all said that they could testify that they knew the Atonement was real. These people overcame all kinds of things to be here and I'm so proud of them. They all said they wouldn't trade away a single day here for any of their previous addictions. I don't know who reads this, but if there's anyone who needs to take steps of repentance, or who isn't sure if they should go on a mission, I know that it is possible and I know that's the best thing you can do for your life. It's never too late.


 Also I finally played fútbol with the Latinos and got a hat trick!! They thought my soccer jersey was super funny because of the celebration dance the guy does (the actual player whose jersey I was wearing).
 



I'm excited for my 5th week and I'm praying for you!!


Love,

Elder Birrell

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

New Teachers


Elder Loisotto and I!!! (My good friend from Argentina)
  
We have new teachers and they're also super awesome. My morning teacher is Hermano Lemartine and he's great. He's always smiling and his lessons have been really helpful. Also, he's currently on The Voice (Latino Version) so hopefully we'll hear him sing sometime soon. He sang with David Archuleta while they were both serving in Rancagua so he must be really good. Also, he sang some songs for the Spanish EFY music. The progressing investigator (not a real one, just the teacher acting it out) we are currently teaching is named Matias and he has a severe alcohol and drug addiction so I'll let you know how that one goes.
Me and Hermano Meneses (My favorite teacher)
Our afternoon teacher is Hermana Jimenez and she's also pretty cool, but she doesn't know any English so that's interesting. The progressing investigator with her is named Priscilla and she's super curious about everything. He's had a really rough life. Our night teacher's name is Hermano Diaz and he's amazing. It's too bad the night teachers don't teach every night (sometimes we just prepare for lessons and teach or just study). I'm learning a ton and I almost feel ready for the mission field! My Spanish is improving as well. Four of my roommates are Latino and we communicate pretty well so that's definitely progress.

The days feel like weeks (we work from 7 AM until 10 PM minus our 40 minutes of basketball every day), but the weeks feel like days (I feel like the last time I wrote was yesterday).

Inside prank from my district- we switched the suit jackets of my companion (5 foot 3) and our district leader (6 foot 1) because they look pretty much the same and they haven't noticed yet! For my companion the suit jacket looks like a giant cape and the suit jacket the district leader is wearing looks like a t-shirt. I crack up every time I see it. I'll let you know when they figure it out. :)
My roommates the first two weeks.
 ALSO there's a huge missionary broadcast for all the missionaries on Wednesday. The last time they did a broadcast like this was in 2004, so that's really exciting!

I miss you all so much and it makes me super happy that you're all doing well, I've been praying for you everyday!!!

Love,

Elder Birrell

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

January 12, 2016 - Amazing Teachers


They give us not NEARLY enough time (like 50 minutes) to email so sorry I can't update you on everything! I love my classes and my teachers!! The different classes we have throughout the week are just general lesson about teaching, language classes, and progressing investigator studies/ teaching. The progressing investigator part is the most difficult and helpful thing we do here. Basically two of our teachers act as if they are one of the people that they taught on their missions, and then we teach them (they're really good actors).

The two  we've had these past two weeks were Felipe and Marcos.
Felipe was this shy guy who was dating a Mormon girl and she wanted to get married to a Mormon. This was the struggle of that investigator since we were constantly trying to make sure that he was interested for the right reasons. Marcos was living with his girlfriend who was very anti religion and the struggle was trying to help him develop a closer relationship with God while also helping him know that with faith he can overcome situation. We still haven't heard the real Marcos story, but we heard the real Felipe story yesterday and it was amazing. 

So basically Felipe just got baptized because of his girlfriend and then fell away from the church about a month later. He becomes increasingly resistant to the church over the years, even doing everything in his power not to let his two kids go to church (his wife was very active this whole time). He eventually did come back to the church and was sealed to his family. Our teacher (Elder Meneses) then said why that investigator was so important to him. It was his dad. He actually taught his dad the gospel through sharing his experiences as a missionary and they were sealed as a family soon after. Hermano Meneses is exactly the kind of missionary I want to be. He´s been through a lot. He had a stutter for most of his life, which made him super shy and bullied. It was so bad that he dropped out of school (lost his scholarship) and was kicked out of his house. He eventually desired to go on a mission but his stutter was a huge issue. In one of many interviews with his stake president, the Stake president asked him if he had faith in Jesus Christ and if he believed that this was his priesthood here on the earth. Hermano Meneses said that yes, he did. The Stake president said that this was the same power that Christ used to perform miracles here on earth, and so the Stake president right then healed him of his stutter. Completely gone in an instant. Elder Meneses even thought his girlfriend was going to die within the year (doctors found a tumor) when he had 15 months to go. He decided he would continue to serve the Lord and she was also miraculously healed. I have awesome examples to look to here.

Also, pday last week was cool! We went out in the city and ate completos! 
The Completo! A Chilean Hot Dog

Most people seemed to be pretty friendly to us but some people not as much. Last Wednesday morning, we were walking to go play basketball and this guy comes toward us on his bike. As soon as he sees us he pedals as fast as he can and as he passes us he swerves to try to hit me. He hits me right in the shoulder and crashed pretty hard into a bush. He swore at me a bunch (I think) but I was completely fine. I definitely feel protected.

Thanks for the greenie package! I got that a couple days ago :)

I'm glad to hear everything is well over there!!!! I love and miss you guys!!! 

Love,

Elder Birrell




January 5, 2016 - Too many questions

In my letter to Seth, I asked him a bunch of questions. Most of Seth's email this first week was answering those questions. Here you go: 


1. How many missionaries did you meet up with in Atlanta?
I met up with 7 elders and 2 sisters in Atlanta and as in turns out, 7 of them (the gringo elders ) are in my district!!! They're great and over time Ill tell you about each of them.

2. Did everything go okay at the airport in Santiago?
Everything went great at the airport! At the immigration thing the guy didn't know any english, but I haven't been deported so it must have been okay!!!

3. How is your MTC companion?
My MTC companion is this short little guy from Idaho. He doesn't know any Spanish and I mean ANY. I decided that my biggest goal while here at the MTC is to help him speak and teach in Spanish as best he can, so I let you know how that goes!! (His name is Elder Ricks by the way).

4. How are your teachers? Do they speak English?
My teachers are so amazing. I absolutely love all of them. Hermano Meneses is the most obedient and humble guy I've ever met and he inspires me to be the same. Hermano Antileo is also one of the smartest and Christlike people that I've met, and Hermana Perez is just so so so awesome, she's like a mom to us. I could listen to her voice all day long. And yeah! They are all pretty fluent! But they all speak slow enough when they do speak Spanish that I can understand them!

5. How is the food? What is your favorite food so far?
The food is pretty bland but I also like it because its not crazy! We eat some variation of meat, rice, and potatoes every day! My favorite was they day they had ravioli! 

6. How are your classes going?
My classes are awesome and we are currently "teaching" two progressing investogators right now. Marcos, and Felipe! They are based off of real investigators of our teachers when they were missionaries! I think its so cool how they teach the missionaries. We don't really learn much doctrine or lessons here. Its more just how do we connect and understand these people and their needs on a deeper level.

7. Did we forget to pack anything?
I think we got everything!!

8.How are you dealing with the heat?
I'm mostly indoors so it's not really too hot!!! 

9. How are you doing?
I love the latinos here. They're so nice and they talk to me even though I'm not great at Spanish (I'm easily the best first week gringo though!!). My favorite is Elder Loisotto from Argentina and also Elder Lopez from Argentina and Elder Antaya from Chile. They're my homies! 

I gotta go. Have a great week!

Love, 
Elder Birrell
This is the view from my room!! The MTC is next to the temple in Santiago.

December 30, 2015 - Made it to Chile

Seth sent us a quick email when he arrived in Chile. He flew from Seattle to Atlanta to Santiago, Chile. It was an extremely long day for him. Here's his short email:

I´m in the MTC and I can see the temple from where I´m sitting! I talked to the immigration person in Spanish and didn't even need the paper! Also I have my nametag now, so it´s even more official. I´m a missionary! They talk sooooooo fast here so we´ll see if I ever figure that out. Hopefully I get a nap today :) I can´t wait to tell you all about my first week!