Tuesday, April 26, 2016

God hears our prayers

Hiking up Cerro Manquehue (Seth hates to wear jeans, so this is his cold weather attire!)
So this week was good! Plenty of excitement, especially today! We hiked up Cerro Manquehue, which took all day and was SUPER SUPER fun and we had an AMAZING view of all of Santiago. I also realized that I am very much out of shape. Still it was super awesome and the pictures really don't capture the full beauty.

A cool experience this week- So one of our investigators (named Andony Joseph) has really become our second most active young man in the ward-he just hasn't been baptized. He believes the Book of Mormon to be the word of God and Joseph Smith to be a prophet and really hasn't had a problem with anything. The only thing: baptism. He was baptized in the Catholic church and his worry is that it would be bad to be baptized twice. So last Sunday I fasting specifically that he'd be able to overcome this fear and that he'd understand that really it's ok, and even really important. The first lesson that we had with him following this fast went really poorly. He seemed to have issues that were never an issue before and baptism seemed more unlikely than ever. I kind of thought to myself, "why is this happening? Didn't I just fast for him?" 
Upon meditating Jacob 2 and Jacob 7, I realized an important lesson. In Jacob 2, Jacob describes the state of his people (wicked) and he lectures them on what they were doing. In Jacob 7, Jacob is crying out and praying to the Lord, but what was the answer to his prayer? Sherem.  This guy was seemingly the exact opposite of an answer to Jacob's prayers. Sherem "labored diligently that he might lead away the hearts of the people, insomuch that he did lead away many hearts." As it turns out, Sherem was exactly the answer to Jacob's pleadings. After Sherem's change, he began to preach truth to the people to the point that the people began to be peaceful and loving, and began to search their scriptures.

Back to our investigator Andony. 4 days later, everything changed for him and he accepted and is excited about a baptismal date. His parents are against the idea of this "second baptism" so there's still work to do, but I know God has heard our prayers and our fasting.

Have an awesome week!!!
Elder Birrell

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Crazy weather!!

I hear it's quite sunny over there in the States!!
I am a bit nervous about my companion going back in three weeks, but it seems like he's even more nervous about going home! The mission life is hard at times, but you also have so much just taken care of for you so you can just focus on what matters. I really hope I get a Chilean companion next! I'm learning Spanish, but we also talk a good amount of English so I think I'm ready for the full immersion!

So, this was a bit of a crazy week and most of that was due to the weather. There were a couple earthquakes this week, one was at 5 AM and shook our bed pretty bad and knocked my watch of the ledge of my bed but neither earthquake was too bad. Here they have two names for earthquakes- Terremotos and Temblores. Terremotos are the serious earthquakes like they just had in Ecuador and Japan. We just had a couple temblores which actually happens all the time here. That wasn't the crazy part of the weather this week, the crazy part was the rain. In rained hard for about four days straight and flooded a lot of Santiago. It also made the water source contaminated, so they cut our water from Saturday until Monday morning. We had some leaking into our house, but it wasn't anything dangerous. A couple Elders from our mission had their fridge blow up, so we're thankful that didn't happen to us. Saturday it rained especially bad, but when we went out to work it looked fine, so we just wore sweaters and didn't take umbrellas. After about an hour of working, the skies opened and we started getting DUMPED on. Within a few minutes we went from being completely dry to completely soaked and we were about to walk to a house all the way across the sector for an appointment. Just then, a stranger pulled up and asked us if we wanted a ride to where we were going. Rides from strangers isn't something we normally do, but it was pouring and we were super grateful. I think this gesture of kindness had an affect on us as two hours later  (still raining) we found a very intoxicated man laying down on the grass in a puddle. We passed by him without really thinking, but then realized that that man really needed help. We then picked him up and carried him 45 minutes to his house. While the rain maybe wasn't ideal, I think sometimes we need these circumstances. Both to receive service and to give it and we were super thankful for both.

Flooding in Santiago
We only had sacrament meeting on Sunday due to the rain and only 25 people came (85 came last week). Chileans are good people, but they are by no means weather proof. Thankfully one of those in attendance was Mario, who received the Priesthood and was given the calling of an assistant with the young men! He continually amazes us. After a lesson with him on Saturday I told my comp that lessons with Mario should count as negative lessons because HE'S the one teaching US (we report our numbers of lessons to our leaders). He described in detail different times during the week that he had the gift of the Holy Ghost that he had felt it's guidance in his life which was legit.

It was a good week regardless of the weather and we're looking forward to it clearing up this week!
I hope you all have a wonderful week in the heat!

Elder Birrell

Monday, April 18, 2016

April 12. 2016- Zone Conference

On Thursday we had our first Zone conference! It was really weird seeing so many missionaries in one place, but it was also fun and I learned a lot. It's also weird because everyone seemed to know everyone and I only knew the people in my Zone, but I got to know some of the missionaries there. It's also still super tiring for me having to listen to Spanish all day long, but I understand pretty much all (at least the meaning) at this point which is awesome. No estoy tan perdido :) We were also able to prepare Mario for confirmation/receiving the Holy Ghost this week and he was confirmed on Sunday. While he is a very new member, based on the things he says one would think he's been a member for a long time. He bore his testimony on Sunday and was one of the most active participants in Sunday school and priesthood classes. He's also reading the Book of Mormon every day and thinks deeply about ways in which he can be better and repent. He absolutely loves the feeling of being free from sin and he honestly inspires us to be better.

My companion now has 4 weeks left on his misión and he's dreading going back home, but we're doing well and we're excited to see what this week has to offer!!

Elder Birrell

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

April 5, 2016- General Conference

View from our house!
Seth and his companion have been able to go to the temple in Santiago the past few weeks on p-day and so I asked him how they got there. They don't ride bikes in their area because they will get stolen.

So to get to the temple you actually have to leave at 12 AM the night before and walk all night and you get there in the morning. Nah just kidding. There's actually a bus that comes by pretty close to where we live and drops us off right in front of the temple (it's only like an hour long bus ride)! We walk almost everywhere unless we are going somewhere like the temple, mission office, a hike, or some other meeting.
I told him about the amazing weather we have been having in Seattle.
I think we traded weather!!! Our weather went from super hot to kind of cold super fast this week and for the first time since I've been here it actually rained today! We were able to watch all of General Conference. The gringo missionaries got to have our own room in the stake center to watch General Conference in English!! It was a super amazing weekend even though we weren't able to work very much. I think I was actually more excited for General Conference than I ever was for a Seahawks playoff game, and the BEST part is that there's no way to lose in General Conference!! Priesthood session was actually at 9:00pm our time so we just watched it live in the Stake Center! Sister Oscarson's talk definitely stood out to me too and of course Elder Holland finishing off conference was just perfect. I think the best thing about conference in the mission is that there's no distractions from immediately putting what I learned and felt into practice! When I was watching I didn't have to think about all the homework I hadn't started and the day after conference I had a ton of opportunities to apply what I had learned. 

Chilean Spanish lesson of the day.

So normally in Spanish the tú form (you informal) is as such

you talk - hablas
you are -  estás    

but here they change it. They take the vosotros form (you all) and then cut off the "s"

hablaí   estaí (said like etaí)

Thanks for the Easter package. The chocolate in the package actually didn't melt! In my next package I want some cracked pepper sunflower seeds! I'm counting down the days to Mother's Day too!!! 
Miss you and love you!

Elder Birrell (or Vraaal as the kids on our street say it)