Tuesday, June 28, 2016


I had a super good week, so here are some of the highlights...

CHI CHI CHI LE LE LE VIVA CHILE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


The Chileans go CRAZY about soccer here and there was added interest to the American Cup this year because we won it last year and this is the 100th year anniversary of the cup. During the last few games the streets absolutely shut down. Also everyone had a barbeque, so the smoke became so thick you could barely see anything, it was crazy but at least it smelled super good. You could say it was really hard to sleep that night with all the noise of celebration haha.

Since I officially have my ID card here I'm Chilean too (more or less ;)), so I certainly got caught up in my national pride a bit. I did make a funny realization though this week. I love Chile, but my favorite people here are the Haitians and my favorite food here is the Peruvian food. In my sector there are A LOT of Haitains and they all arrived within the past 10 months and hardly any of them know any Spanish and they all live really humbly, but they are so so so friendly. One of these Haitains is one of our investigators named Jeff. Jeff got here in April and he knows zero Spanish still but he actually does speak English pretty well. He has very little and basically lives in a warehouse with a bunch of other Haitians, but the other day he told us he wants to quit his job and find a new one so he can come to church every Sunday. He doesn't even understand what people are saying at church, but he says he just feels the spirit every time he goes and he wants that to be a part of his week every week. 

On Thursday there was an activity for the Primary kids in which all the organizations in the church acted out a modern version of parables that Jesus taught. The four missionaries in the ward acted out the Good Samaritan and we got into it pretty good. I mean, at least the Primary kids got a kick out of it.

Acting out the Good Samaritan for a ward activity
A week or so ago we were contacting people in the morning and we came across a guy who just recently had moved into that house. He also said he was about to get baptized, but then didn't because he didn't feel ready and then both missionaries left the area and he didn't have any more contact with the missionaries. On Saturday night we passed by again and met the whole family and they are all super nice people and super funny, when we got there they were installing some walls in the bathroom so we offered our 4 hands to come help them on Monday. Monday morning we ate a little breakfast at their house before starting and the mom described to us the circumstances that led to them moving and living there. So her daughter (who is 25) gave birth to a baby 4 months early and for that reason she was born super small and with a lot of health problems. She´s epileptic (severely it sounded) along with a lot of other problems that required a bunch of surgeries. They didn't have enough money to cover everything, so they started selling stuff. At first it was the cars (two of them) and then other house items and then finally as the problems continued they had to sell their house and buy a cheap, only partially constructed house (where they live now) As she described it, it was like falling from the sky to the earth in a small amount of time. They were pretty wealthy before (they had two cars and it's uncommon to own even one here) and now they have nothing. The cool part of the story is how the family changed through this experience. She said they weren't too close as a family before this and that they were actually on the verge of getting seperated, but now they've really come together as a family and also come closer to God. 

It was a good week and I'm looking forward to another week just like this!


Elder Birrell

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Lesson learned: Warning

There are 3 spots in my mission that are famous for being poor and a little bit sketchy and I've now served in two of them, but honestly I've never felt safer. There's nothing to be scared of here. The people here are funny and brutally honest and they love heckling the missionaries, but they understand and respect us as representatives of Jesus Christ. Even the people that don't want anything to do with us know who we are and they don't want to mess with that.

So this week.
Yesterday there were changes and....... (drumroll)... We're both staying here! I'm actually really excited to stay and work with Elder C for 6 more weeks. He's super funny and we've developed a truly special chemistry in lessons. Every time we walk out of a home we feel as though we left them feeling better both temporally and spiritually. I've certainly had to learn some lessons with him, but it`s worth it to be patient with him because I'm loving being his companion. One characteristic about him that stands out is that he doesn't know how to talk in a normal voice, he yells EVERYTHING which makes his Spanish really really hard to understand but sometimes it just makes me laugh. 

One experience that stood out to me this week was when we passed by to visit a less active lady who attended church last week for the first time in a while. After a lot of waiting outside her door the lady finally came out the front door, but we could see her legs were shaking. It took her about 5 minutes to get from the front door to the gate (about 10 feet) and to unlock the gate. As she opened the gate it became obvious why. She was really really high on some powerful drugs. She couldn't talk, she couldn't walk, and she was shaking so much we had to support her to stand. The feeling there was something that hit my comp and I really hard. The feeling didn't really go away until the next day for me and my comp said he had a hard time sleeping that night. I think it's because we could see in that moment how powerful a presence Satan had taken in her life. Satan`s presence was so strong there that I will never in my life forget the feeling. I only share this experience to warn that 1. Satan is real and 2. It's worth everything in this world to stay as far away from him as possible. This young single mother of two probably never imagined she'd be in this position, but one small decision brought her further and further away from the light and into darkness. The drug she was on was a LOT stronger than Morphine. I know this is an extreme case, but any step in that direction is too far.

It really was a good week, but unfortunately the lesson learned was that of a warning.


Elder Birrell

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Good News and Bad News

This week has had it`s challenges as well, but also a week of many blessings and miracles. You want good news first or bad news?

So one morning was just terrible for me. My head was just in the wrong place and I almost felt like I couldn't even work. I wanted to just stay inside (I never had the intention of doing that but still) which is really weird for me because I hate being inside and not working. We weren't able to work that morning for some reason (I can't remember) and after lunch I prayed that God would give me the strength to realize this mission isn't for me and that I need to get over myself and get to work. The relief didn't come immediately after the prayer, but after I started to work, I probably contacted 50 people after lunch, just talking to everyone and I was filled with a love and compassion for the people that I had never before felt. 

Unfortunately, just as I had this experience, my companion turned quiet. He didn't do any contacts with me, he didn't respond to anything I said, he hardly acknowledged my existence. He didn't wake up for his exercises or studies and he didn't say anything as I planned for the day and for the week. I asked him how he was and what was up, but he didn't say anything. This was for about two days. Eventually he snapped out of it as if nothing even happened. I think God prepared me for that brief morning of suffering to help my companion in those two days. I imagine the Elder Birrell just a day before might have gotten frustrated, but I instead felt compassion for him. And my testimony and understanding of God`s love as well as the Atonement grew.

Miracle of the week- so we randomly passed by an investigator that hadn't received the missionaries in about 6 months. He never wanted to leave behind his Catholic beliefs and he didn't want to stop smoking or drinking either. In our visit he told us he had stop drinking completely and they just found out the day before that because of the health of his daughter he can't smoke anymore. Since that day he hasn't smoked once. He now has a desire to be baptized and to be sealed in the temple to his wife (who is a member). I was almost in shock as he told me all this. Actually for a second I thought I just didn't understand him (turns out I did).

Also on Sunday we had a lot of good luck in terms of people arriving. In the past weeks we haven't had any investigators attend, but on Sunday we had 15 less actives and 5 investigators come! I was so happy.

Anywho, we`re looking forward to another amazing and probably challenge filled week!

Elder Birrell

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Frozen Noses and Toes

It`s been really cold recently!!! Our home doesn't hold in heat at all so we always wake up in the morning with frozen noses and toes. It also rained quite a bit, so much on one day we had to stay inside for a bit. I hated being inside so much (it's the worst thing in the mission), but the next day we worked super hard. We still don't have a ton of investigators, but I know that will change with time. We're working hard to find the people who are ready to hear the message of the Restored Gospel, but I realize sometimes things don't change in an instant.

Rosende (my last sector) had a baptism on Sunday! It was the 11 almost 12 year old girl named Emily!! Even though I wasn't there for it, I'm so grateful for the opportunity to teach such a wonderful family. Everytime I passed by I just felt at home. I wish Emily the best in her journey as a member of Christ`s church. Andony I think will be baptized in a few more weeks, and I've heard Mario`s daughter wants to be baptized soon as well! My goal in this sector is to find families as amazing as those families. 

In studying the scriptures this week. I absolutely loved reading Alma 5. Alma just bore his whole soul into testifying to his people and it makes we want to become like that. 

The work here isn't easy, but it's possible, and I'm as excited as ever for this upcoming week!


Elder Birrell