Thursday, February 25, 2016

Feb. 23, 2016- Sunscreen in February

My companion showing off all our healthy food!

So it's super hot right now in Chile and everyone here seems to not like it, but I love it. Maybe I just like the smell of sunscreen in February, who knows. Also I still haven't gotten sick, just to let you know. 
So this week was super slow at the beginning, not many people were available for lessons, and no one was really receptive. It was kind of discouraging for a bit and one of the days our shower had to get tiled and then we finished building the roof on a lady's home, so we literally only had an hour of proselyting time, which was really frustrating. Fortunately, the end of the week ended perfectly! Jorge came to church (to our surprise) we thought he was going to be too sick, but in the middle of sacrament meeting we saw him limp on in! Then later on that Sunday we just started finding a bunch of really awesome people.
Playing soccer on p-day
We found a Peruvian family that was super receptive and I'm excited to teach them. We brought their 16 year old son out to play soccer today and he's super nice! We found another couple who had been inactive for the past 6 months but really wants to come back to church! Then we found a couple who was also really receptive and we talked to them at the door for about an hour! The next day we had 6 lessons and they were all super awesome! One was with a guy we found at the Family Home Evening we put on and that lesson was crazy. He told us he had a dream in which we were in it and the word Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ kept coming up somehow. Then when we prayed with him he told us he recognized that way of praying from his dream too. He was super nice and I can't wait to teach him again. We also found a super receptive lady who actually lived in the states for a while and has family who live in Utah right now. We also got to teach an old lady (95 years old) who's a member, but too old to come to church. It was a awesome past couple days with new opportunities popping up everywhere. I'm really excited and I can't wait to get to know these people better!
Elder Birrell

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

First week in the mission field

My new home!
So the Spanish here seriously is waaaaaaay different and way harder. I can pretty much understand everything that other Latinos say, but the Chileans not so much. Chilean Spanish is funny though because I can tell that they borrow elements from English. For example, cachar means "to get it" so it's more or less coming from gotcha. Also my other favorite expression is dar jugo, literally "give juice" but actually means to be lazy. I definitely feel like I've been improving and that makes me super happy, but then there are other times when I have no idea what people are saying. When we're just contacting, I usually don't say much because I have a really hard time telling what people are saying, but during lessons I usually understand the people perfectly and I love it. I absolutely love teaching people the Gospel. 
We have a lot of people that we've taught in the past week, but our focus is on 3 guys and a family. One of the guys' name is Mario and he has been prepared by God to hear this message. He's received an answer from God and we haven't even taught him too many times. I feel strongly that he'll be ready for baptism soon and he accepted our invitation, but not only that, he told us that he was getting married in a couple weeks. We saw that as a potential issue since he has two kids and is living with his girlfriend, but we never even had to ask him about it! Another guy's name is Jorge and he's 78 years old. He also very strongly believes in the Book of Mormon and that Joseph Smith was a prophet and has a desire to be baptized, but he usually can't come to church because he and his wife are almost always really sick. He tells us every time that he doesn't know how long he has left to live, so I hope we can help him to the best of our ability while he's with us. We are also working with a 21 year old guy who lived in Utah for a year and got baptized there. He came back to Chile 4 months ago and hadn't been to church in 4 months until this past Sunday. He wants to go back to Utah and go to BYU, so we're helping him and teaching his dad as well. Finally, we're working with a huge family (three generations) with a couple inactive members, but mostly investigators. One of the girls (Emily) wants to be baptized but we want to make sure it happens in a situation in which she can at the very least get the support of her family. We have a lot more people we teach and help less frequently, but that's what I've been up to!

Our ward is super small (I think 54 people were there on Sunday) which feels so much different than home, but it's the same gospel. The members here are super nice, but at times don't quite get our purpose as missionaries and how they can help. My goal while I'm here is to help change that culture. We've also had the opportunity to give a good amount of service, including English classes, building a lady's roof, cleaning out yards, and we've also put on Family Home Evening's every Friday night.

The food here hasn't been too scary for the most part. We make our own breakfasts and then usually a ward member will make our lunch and we just go pick it up. I've eaten at the house of two families and I never had to use any of Bishop Jones' tips of how to avoid eating nasty food.

Also, fun fact, I just learned yesterday that we do in fact have hot showers. That was a fun surprise :)

I'm doing really well and I'm loving every minute, I just can't wait for the day when I can know what's going on!

Elder Birrell

Friday, February 12, 2016

Feb. 9, 2016- First Area: Rosende

Me at the Santiago, Chile Temple

SURPRISE I do get a few minutes to write which is super exciting!!! I met my companion today and his name is Elder Smith. He´s been out here for 21 months and he was actually in the same MTC district as Elder Williams! (Seth and Elder Williams are friends and from the same ward in Bothell) Also I met Elder Williams´s MTC companion and one of his Easter Island companions  and he let me talk to Elder Williams on the phone for a couple minutes! We´re going to try to play some fútbol together soon, so that should be fun.
Selfie with my trainer Elder Smith

So Elder Smith is from Lehi, Utah and he went to Utah State for a year before coming out on his mission. He´s pretty tall and super nice and I can tell we´re going to get along great! He talks more or less just like a Chilean at this point (not sure if that's a good thing) and that'll be awesome practice for me to learn!
We visited our house and I like it a lot! Rumor is there´s a drug dealer that lives just across our street, but I'm sure he's a nice guy too. We are serving in the Rosende Area and Elder Smith seems to like it a lot. It's on the poorer end overall but I've loved every second of it so far (I haven't stopped smiling yet). We´ve visited with one person so far and it was just like a quick 10 minute check in but it was cool and I actually understood everything (the gist) that was said! I'm so excited to plan with him tonight and learn about our investigators and plans to best serve them and their needs.  I'm super happy and focused right now and I just can't wait to have a full day out here. This will be nothing like I've ever experienced, I can already tell. I pray for you guys every day and I'm so glad you're all doing well. 
My roommates for the past 2 weeks. Elders Yustes, Reyes, and Ricks
My last days at the MTC we´re awesome and I'll definitely look back on those days fondly. I can't wait to tell you about all the adventures and experiences of the first week! Have an amazing week!!
Elder Birrell

Feb. 9, 2016- At the Mission Home in Santiago!

With President and Sister Videla
 ¡Hola padres y hermanos! So, I made it to the mission home safely and now I’m just chillin here writing this letter. This past week was really awesome for me as I felt really focused on the work. We went out contacting on Thursday and it felt awesome to be a missionary for a few hours! I could kind of understand what they were saying and I think I was mostly able to express myself! Hopefully we made some impact on someone’s life. Then on Friday we actually went out proselyting in Santiago Este. I tagged along with a couple Elders, one of which roomed with me during the first two weeks at the MTC. We didn’t have any lessons, which was disappointing, but it was awesome to get a taste of how those missionaries contacted. They were very direct with people and it was way different than I expected, probably coming from the US where people don’t really talk to other people it threw me off a bit. I love the people here, I just can’t wait until the day I can understand them. They say Chileans have their own language and thus far I would have to agree.
New missionaries arriving at the mission home in Santiago
            I’d have to say the biggest thing I’ve taken away from the MTC is that I just need to put all my faith in Christ. I know He’ll help me so I don’t feel nervous at all right now. I’ve also gained a way deeper appreciation for the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon. My head is definitely in the right place, I even forgot the Super Bowl was a couple days ago until just now! Was Peyton Manning QB?  I hope you’re all doing amazing and I’m still praying for you every night! I don’t know who my companion is nor do I know which area I’ll be serving in. I’d like to think there’s a chance I could get paired up with Elder Williams, but I’ll let you know! Have a fantastic week!
Elder Birrell

Monday, February 8, 2016

Feb. 2, 2016- One week left

My District
Dang IT'S CRAZY I only have a week left!!! I'm not sure if Ill be able to email next week, so I'll have plenty to say in the next email. So in my district, 6 Elders are actually going to Santiago Norte (My mission) and 2 are going to Sur (south). We are all getting along pretty well even though virtually none of us have anything in common, especially Elder Ricks and I. But we work together really well and he's really easy to be around so it's been really good! We didn't switch around the teachers much for these last two weeks so things have been more or less the same. 
Our basketballs were stolen so we haven't gotten to play in a while, so I started trying to legitimately work out. I also haven't eaten any of the bread (amazing bread, all I ate when I got here) in the past four weeks and I've actually lost ten pounds! (back to normal weight) Also did I tell you I got the greenie package a few weeks ago? I may not have said anything, but just yesterday I found the letter in the bottom so it finally made sense!! [Kathy sent a package with various treats that were all green, he ate it all before he saw the note and put it all together] That package was awesome though so thank you!!!! We have new roommates too and this time there are only four of us total which is so much less stressful in the mornings when usually 6 people have to shower and get dressed in 35 minutes with only one shower! Some Latinos are trying to learn English, so one of the most fun things for me here is trying to teach the Latinos English! A lot of them already know a bunch just from American video games, music, and movies.

Last night I come to my room and the Latinos decided that we would play a game to see who would do the weekly cleaning today. So the game was, the last one to jump into bed had to do all the cleaning. So he said go and we all jumped into our beds, only they tricked me and took out the support beams in my bed and I fell straight through onto the floor :) The Latinos in my room laughed for a good 20 minutes about that one. Also, on Sundays here at the MTC,we all prepare talks, but then only a few get chosen to speak and this Sunday was my lucky day! I talked about Repentance and thankfully I was prepared (I think it went well).
Me getting punked by my roomates!
One video we watched this week that I'd recommend is Missionary Work and The Atonement.
Talk (write) to you in two weeks!!!

Elder Birrell