Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Mario was baptized

Mario's baptism
WE DIDN'T REALIZE IT WAS EASTER ON SUNDAY! Does that make us bad missionaries? We just kept getting different answers of when Easter was and so for some reason we didn't realize it until the day after. Maybe the baptism that day excuses us of that? Anyhow the baptism was super awesome!!! Mario knows exactly what this covenant is that he's making with God and he's super excited about it. Putting together the baptism itself was kind of stressful for us, but it was awesome to see how much the ward was excited by his baptism! The bishop was literally GIDDY. He started telling us that he wants Mario to be the next Elders Quorum president within the next few months and I don't doubt it, he's really that special. Also, later on that day our mission president called us to congratulate and thank us for completing a family. At first we were really confused by this, but it turns out that Mario's wife was baptized when she was 12 and when Mario was baptized she called the missionaries that taught her, and they called someone who called our mission president. We had no idea she was a member!!! She was always busy when we passed by to teach Mario, so we never got to know her, but now we know the next step is to help them become an eternal family.

We're super lucky to have been able to teach Mario. Also we're really excited to watch General Conference this weekend! (I believe I'll be watching in English)

Have a wonderful week!


Elder Birrell

Slacklining on p-day
Our mission president, President Videla, asked us to write up a summary of our experience with Mario to put in the weekly newsletter as the "success story" of the week.

It's in Spanish, but hopefully Google Translate can do an ok job.
Hace dos meses y medio atrás nosotros hicimos una actividad de zona y una de las referencias que recibimos, encontramos Hermano Mario, su esposa Yemesi en cual es miembro de la iglesia hace muchos años y se bautizó cuando era joven, su hija Romina y su hijo Tomás. La primera vez que nosotros pasamos a visitarles, nos aceptaron en su casa y nosotros empezamos a conocerles. Al empezar a enseñarles invitamos a toda la familia escucharnos, pero solo Mario quería y ni siquiera sabíamos que su señora era miembro de la iglesia, porque no compartió mucho con nosotros cuando estábamos en su casa o no estaría cuando pasábamos. No supimos hasta más adelante que era miembro. Pero en esta ejemplo Dios nos muestra que prepara las personas y que realmente nosotros somos las herramientas en sus manos. Entonces empezamos a compartir el Evangelio de Jesucristo con él. Después la segunda o tercera visita nosotros llevamos un miembro para ayudarnos hermanar y compartir su testimonio. En esta visita le ayudamos a Mario entender y comprender la importancia de la oración en la conversión y le invitamos esta noche a orar para saber si esta es la iglesia correcta, si José Smith es un Profeta de Dios y si él restauró el Evangelio de Jesucristo aquí en la tierra de nuevo, y si el Libro de Mormón es la palabra de Dios. Después de dejarle esta noche, Le dijimos que íbamos a pasar el día siguiente para verificar como le fuera. 
          Llegamos el próximo día y el nos dijo que sí había recibido la respuesta y que esta era el camino correcto. De esta momento y adelante empezamos a ver mucho progreso, pero sabíamos que no estaban casados. En nuestra planificación semanal nosotros decidimos que sí o sí le íbamos a enseñar la ley de castidad el más pronto posible. Cuando nosotros le íbamos a pasar el folleto de la ley de castidad, él nos contó que se iban a casar. Esta fue tan genial para nosotros porque ni siquiera habíamos dicho algo a ellos de la ley de castidad. Y el día cinco de marzo se casaron. 
          En todo el proceso de la conversión de Mario nosotros vimos mucho progreso y había muchas veces cuando él nos compartió experiencias cuando sintió el espíritu. Él es realmente un hombre de Dios muy especial, cada lección que tenemos con él, el espíritu es muy presente y siempre tiene algo bueno para compartir o una pregunta para que pueda entender aun más de las cosas de Dios.  Y por fin, después de dos meses y medio Mario pudo bautizarse el 27 de marzo y ahora él y su familia pueden prepararse a ir al templo para llegar a ser una familia eterna. 

Translated version
Two and a half months ago we had a zone activity and one of the references we received, we found Brother Mario, his wife Yemesi which had been a member of the church for many years and was baptized when she was young, her daughter Romina and her son Thomas. The first time we visited them, they accepted us into their home and we began to know them. When we first started teaching them we invited the whole family to listen, but only Mario wanted to learn and we didn't even know that his wife was a member of the church because he did not share much with us when we were at their home or when we would stop by. We did not know until later that she was a member. But this example shows us that God prepares people and we are really tools in their hands. Then we began to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with him. After the second or third visit we took a member to help friendship and share their testimony. On this visit we helped Mario understand the importance of prayer in the conversion and invite him that night to pray to know if this is the right church, if Joseph Smith is a prophet of God and if he restored the gospel of Jesus Christ here on earth again, and if the Book of Mormon is the word of God. After leaving tonight, I said we would spend the next day to check how it was.
We arrived the next day and we said yes had received the answer and that this was the right way. From this time forward we began to see a lot of progress, but we knew they were not married. In our weekly schedule we decided that we were going to teach the law of chastity as soon as possible. When we were going to share the booklet about the law of chastity, he told us that they were getting married. This was so great for us because we had not even said anything to them about the law of chastity. They got married on March 5.
Throughout the process of conversion of Mario we saw a lot of progress and there were many times when he shared with us experiences when he felt the spirit. He really is a very special man of God, every lesson we have with him, the spirit is very present and always has something good to share or a question so that you understand even more of the things of God. And finally, after two and a half months Mario was baptized on March 27 and now he and his family can prepare to go to the temple to become an eternal family.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

I almost had to eat tomatoes this week!!!

Hi Familia!
I'm doing awesome!!! Fresh off cleaning our house last week, we decided we were going to work even harder this week, especially with our current contacts and that's exactly what we did! In fact one day we had the most lessons we've ever had in a single day (8) and they were all super awesome. A bit of sad news though, we learned at one of those lessons that one of our most interested investigators is moving back to Peru for 2 months, so Elder Smith had to say goodbye to him - Since he will be home before he returns from Peru. Hopefully when he comes back I'll be able to reconnect with him. Also, Jorge (the elderly guy) who has been super sick recently such that we haven't been able to pass by for a couple weeks told us that he was too sick to progress any further/talk with us/attend church. He was more or less ready to be baptized for a while, but my companion wanted to be sure that he'd attend church after his baptism so he kept delaying the baptism date. When he told us that we couldn't come by any more my companion described the experience as kind of like breaking up with a girlfriend.

Sandra and her family are doing super well. They are loving reading the Book of Mormon and 3 of them showed a lot of interest in being baptized within the next month or two, which is crazy compared to just a few weeks back.

Andony Joseph has been going to seminary every day and he always comes to church with us. He's kind of becoming like our little brother which is super awesome.

We were anticipating some problems with the Word of Wisdom with Mario but he decided he's all in with it. He says he doesn't understand the reasoning behind not drinking tea, but he knows that it's what God wants for him. He's getting baptized this Sunday and we're super excited for him! Every time we talk to him, it uplifts US spiritually. When we taught the Law of Chastity I think he gave his testimony on the subject more than we did.

We also performed with the choir at Stake conference and it was actually way awesome! I never thought I'd like singing in the choir, but I loved it. We sang "Señor, Te Necesito"  (I Need Thee Every Hour) at the beginning of the conference and the song kind up built up to a line- "Te Necesito, Sí, Mi Salvador" and wow it was just way powerful.

I almost had to eat tomatoes this week!! We were in the home of a hermana in our ward and I assume she would get offended if I didn't eat her food. Thankfully she went to the bathroom at one point so I could spoon the tomatoes onto my companion's place. (It was a close call)
We also went to the temple again today and I have to say it was my favorite time I've every gone! We're going again in one week.

I'm doing great and we're getting super excited for General Conference in a couple weeks!

Talk to you next week!

Elder Birrell
 At the temple
My first Zone leader going home

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Keep a good attitude

This week was super awesome and we definitely stepped it up and worked even harder than usual. One day was especially rough though. We contacted and tried to visit with a ton of people (many of which we had appointments with) but literally NO ONE let us in the whole day. That day we were super focused and for some reason we just never got down. My companion kept saying this will all pay off in the night. I thought that was because we were going to have a lesson with Mario (an awesome investigator) that night, so at least we had that. Then, of course he had to cancel on us at the last minute. At 7:15 PM we were about to enter a house with someone we had an appointment with at 7:00 when we got a call from the lady. She told us that she had been waiting for us for the past 15 minutes and that she was worried that we wouldn't be able to pass by. We told her that we were just outside her house and then she came out and let us in. The previous time we left her the Restoration pamphlet and not only had she read it, she had STUDIED it. She just started talking about all the things she liked and asking about all the things she didn't understand and the spirit was SO STRONG in that room. We didn't even get to pray at the beginning of the lesson she was so excited to learn. At the end of the lesson we asked if we could leave with a prayer and she immediately knelt down without us saying anything. My companion prayed and then she decided she had to say another prayer and she then prayed for us and our health and our families. This lesson was so amazing and so unexpected, I guess we just need to keep a good attitude and work hard and opportunities like this just present themselves.

In other news, we had a broadcast this Sunday and it was super good! We didn't sing too poorly in the choir and we got to listen to Russell M Nelson... in SPANISH! We didn't know he could speak any Spanish but it was awesome to hear him and his message for everyone in Chile in his own voice and not a translator. 

Today we moved everything in the house and cleaned for the entirety of P-day. We decided that, although the house wasn't super dirty, we wanted it to be cleaner and more organized. The spirit really is stronger in clean places and I can't wait to see how our new set up works! We have a busy week up ahead but I'm excited!!!
Miss you all and hope you have an amazing week!
Elder Birrell

Thursday, March 10, 2016

March 8, 2016- AAALLOOOOOO

The beginning of Seth's email is answering a few of my questions. I asked him how he and his companion do most of their contacting, do they knock on doors or just start talking to people on the street. The other question I asked him was if he does a lot of singing with investigators. When Seth was young he HATED to sing. From his email it sounds like he'll be able to make up for lost time!!

So, something different here is that you can't technically "knock" on doors because everyone has huge fences in front. Generally, you have to yell out "AAALLOOOOOO" and then if the person is home they generally come out. This is how we do the majority of the contacts, but sometimes we also just talk to people in the streets.

We do sing quite often with investigators and the missionaries in my zone (there are only 12 missionaries) are in the stake choir and we are singing this weekend for a broadcast and also for stake conference in two weeks. (I didn't realize singing would be so hard with a choir). 
I've been listening to a lot of the devotionals that dad has sent me and I feel the same way. We're so lucky to have a prophet of God right now on the earth, I think sometimes we might take that for granted.

Here are some highlights from this week.

  • I got the package!!! It's torture because Easter is so far away but I'll resist the temptation to eat the candy for now. I also got a package from my BYU Ward! Thank you to all of you involved in that, that was so awesome!!!!
  • One of our investigators named Jorge (who was ready to be baptized a month or so ago) has been super sick and we haven't been able to pass by in over a week, which is really sad.
  • Mario (another investigator) got married this Saturday! He's such a spiritual person and me and my companion just feel the spirit super strong whenever we teach him. Our next challenge will be in helping him overcome a few things and to really apply the Atonement in his life. I know he can do it, though. He loves the Book of Mormon and he's told us there's just something different about it that he can't explain.
  • The big family that we've been working with is really progressing now and we're super excited about that. We read the Book of Mormon with them pretty much every night and it's awesome when the grandma (Sandra) talks about her testimony. She's not an active member, but she still has a really strong testimony of the gospel and I can tell that everyone is growing. They're coming to church every week now and I'm super hopeful for where they're going.
  • We've also been working a bunch with a Peruvian family, especially with their 16 year old kid named Antony Joseph. He's awesome and has come to church with us the past two weeks. We're trying to get him involved with the youth programs because there are a few other 16 year olds that are pretty similar to him in interests. The mom had a birthday on Sunday and she invited us to her birthday lunch! It was literally just the family, the other people that live with them, and us.
  • We went to the Temple this morning and it was awesome! We have already booked a time to go in two weeks as well.

All is well, here in Santiago! Talk to you next week!!
Elder Birrell

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

March 1, 2016- I saw Elder Williams!

The first part of Seth's email this week was answering a few questions I had asked him.  

I mentioned that the kids were back in school this week after a week off for midwinter break.
Oh yeah I hated going back to school too, but we're happy when the kids in Santiago go back to school because the kids here all wear uniforms which is much preferable to the summer "clothing" (not a lot of clothing) that people like to wear.
What is a typical day like for you? A typical day is as follows- I wake up at 7, exercise for 30 minutes, then I eat eggs and cereal for breakfast and I shower. As soon as I get ready, (8:30) I start my personal study and then at 9:15 we start companionship study. At 10 we have an hour of training and then at 11 we study Spanish. From 12-9:30PM  we are out of the house working with the exception of lunch (1:30) and once, which is essentially a break, from 6-7. Then we plan, rest, write in journals and such until 11 and then we go to bed. The 8 hours of sleep are far more than my body is used to but I'm getting used to it ;) 
What do you do on P-Day (preparation day)? On p-days we usually play soccer, buy groceries, and then write our families, but today we decided to go hiking up Cerro Renca (right next to Elder Williams' sector!) It was me, Elder Smith, the Elder that Elder Smith trained a few months back (and his companion), and Elder Williams and his companion! It was awesome and way fun to catch up with Elder Williams. It seems like he's doing super well and he was glad to hear that all is well in Bothell.
Me and Elder Williams
At the top of Cerro Renca
Cerro Renca - the hill we climbed on pday
Me and Elder Smith
How are things going with your companion? My companion is super cool! He's super relaxed and easy to get along with, but at the same time he's obedient and focused on the work. I'm sure it's super hard to be almost done with the mission and to be having to decide on stuff for college, but he's handling it well.

Did you use your debit card? I did use the card to buy a Ukulele! I want to play it at night to unwind!

Here are some highlights from my week:
  • On Wednesday we visited a guy named Mauricio who thought he was a prophet. In the middle of the lesson he told my companion to stop, someone wanted to talk to him... He started saying that he was God and that he was calling Mauricio to be the final prophet. We both felt really weird the whole time, and actually even for a few hours after the lesson.
  • We started on a plan to read the Book of Mormon every night at 9 with one of the families. They're a super good family, but we want to help them build good habits.
  • On Thursday we had interchanges (not exactly sure what they're called in English). I was with Elder Sousa from Brazil and it was super cool! He's my Zone leader and he only has like 3 weeks left in the mission! I definitely learned a lot from him.
  • Believe it or not I taught the Restoration lesson for the first time this week (I taught it 3 times this week) but the very first time the lesson was two hours long. They recommend lessons don't take any more than 40 minutes (whoops).
  • Also on Wednesday we had a conference with Elder Bednar and all the South America missionaries. It was super good and he told us that we shouldn't take notes on what he said, only on impressions and what we feel.
  • On Sunday we talked to a Jehovah Witness and he told us he wanted to convince us and then he gave us some book about how to achieve eternal life.

Overall I'm doing well! There are hard moments at times, but every week I become more and more comfortable and I trust that someday Spanish will feel a little bit more natural. I hope you all have a wonderful week!
Elder Birrell