Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Goodbye Galvarino

Hermano Mendez our ward mission leader in Galvarino
Hey family and other people!

So, on Thursday night I got the call from the assistants that not only would I be leaving Galvarino, but my companion would be leaving as well. We thought it was a joke at first that both would be leaving, but it turns out that it was true. Elder Langston was so sure that he’d be staying that he bought 30 eggs just an hour and a half before we got the call.  That weekend was the first time in my mission that I’ve had to say goodbye to people and there were a lot of people to say goodbye to.

Luckenson and Elder Birrell
Luckenson, the recently baptized Haitian, was really sad when he heard the news. In fact, he said “Wow” at least 100 times when we delivered him the news and he said that night he couldn’t sleep. On Sunday he received the priesthood, which was a special moment, but something happened just minutes before that I will forever remember. At the end of the Gospel Principles class, he offered to say the final prayer, but before saying the prayer he told us that he wants to share his testimony with everyone in the class since the next fast and testimony meeting wouldn’t be for a couple weeks more. He said that before we started sharing with him, he never liked anything to do with religion and he didn’t believe in Jesus Christ. In fact, his mom would always ask him to come to church but he never wanted to go. He testified that there’s something different here and that through learning more of the work of God, coming to church, and being baptized, he is an entirely new person. He said he’s truly been born again in Christ and that he’s so much happier now. The most incredible part of the testimony was that normally he struggles in expressing himself in Spanish, plus he has a very noticeable speech impediment, but as he bore testimony none of those problems were evident. Truly a powerful moment.

The  Muñoz Family
Another family we said goodbye to was the Muñoz family which is a family that will forever have a large place in my heart. From the first time I passed by their house I’ve always felt something special, but this special feeling has grown as I’ve seen their faith increase and as they shared their own experiences and testimonies. The final scripture I shared with them describes what I’ve learned from them through the 5 months. I was able to play a small part in their lives.

“Now, was not this exceeding joy? Behold, this joy which none receiveth save it be the truly penitent and humble seeker of happiness.” (Alma 27:18)

This family has very little money, 3 kids in jail (some of them for a long time) and every reason to complain in the world, and for a time that’s what they did. As they began to grow their faith and repent little by little their joy has grown immensely. Their humility to follow what invites the spirit and to give them true happiness is something that will forever mark me. Every time we passed by for them they’d have some amazing spiritual experience to share. On Friday night I actually cried when I was talking to Oscar and I thought of this scripture. They recently had an interview with the bishop and he said he sees them as a future bishop and relief society president and I’d agree with that. By law they still need to wait a bit to get married, but it shouldn’t be too long after that before they get sealed in the temple.

Oscar and Viviana Muñoz
This weekend we also said goodbye to another Haitian named Billy, who has come to church for 5 weeks in a row basically and always enjoys his experience, but until Friday never expressed any desire to be baptized. He was baptized in a different church not too long ago and for a while he didn’t accept the fact that the priesthood has been restored in these days and that it is through this authority that he must be baptized. No matter how many different ways we tried to help him understand this concept and ask God if it was true, it never seemed to work. Finally, on Friday night something clicked and it was way cool to see him understand that both the great apostasy and the restoration of Christ’s church are real and how truly blessed we are to live in a time when we can receive all the blessings God wants us to have.

Billy and the Haitian girls
Seeing Jesús from the day I met him to now has also been a blessing. The only things I recognize from May 2016 in Jesús is the fact that he talks really Chilean (bad) and he loves horses. I never would’ve thought that someday he’d go to the temple with his wife to be sealed, but now they’re planning on working towards the 16th of December 2017 and honestly I believe they can do it. Jesús grew up in rough circumstances family-wise and for a while that mentality of treating people poorly kind of stuck with him. He had a lot of “natural man” tendencies, whereas now he’s a dedicated husband, father, and servant of the Lord.
Jesús, Katalina and little Trinidad

The final goodbye was with Jacob and his family (the Aguilar family). With this family we’ve been able to be there through everything. We were there in the hospital with them as doctors gave baby Alice a few hours of life left maximum and we were also there to see her healed by a priesthood blessing and the prayers of many. The spirit we’ve felt in that home has been undeniable so many times. I know that someday they’ll be faithful member, leaders, and tools in God’s hands to bring this joy to families just like their own. We’re all hoping we get permission to come back for their baptism.

Jacob Aguilar and Elder Birrell
Elder Birrell, Baby Alice and Elder Langston
5 amazing months in Galvarino, some of the greatest of my life. I’m thankful for everyone there that’s impacted me in some way, especially the companions I had there, most recently being Elder Langston. I’d trust my life with the guy and through the service that we gave together in bringing souls to Christ we also formed what will definitely be a lifelong friendship. Also shout out to his best friend Jorge Reyes who was baptized on the 15th

I’ll miss Galvarino.

Elder Birrell

More Aguilar Family

A kid named Diego gave us each a medallion he won in school
Herman Irma. We live right above her. nicest lady in the world, always giving us food
The little Haitian girls
Peruvian family (los peruanitos we called them)
Nicolas. The thing with his fingers is a little dance he loves to do

The Bishop's family

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Plan of Happiness

This week was a really good one and a really busy one. We taught more than we ever have before and I feel like together we`re stronger than ever working together in teaching, planning, finding, etc. Some people are progressing quite a bit, others not so much but overall I can't complain.

In most of the mornings this week we traveled to another sector to invite people to an "open chapel" or "open doors" activity in which people not so familiar with the church could come to see what the church is all about. It´s a great idea but for some reason after all the preparation, something broke in the church and it just wasn't possible. One good that did come out of it is we were able to meet one of the first members of the church here in Chile, one of the pioneers here. It was amazing to see the sacrifices of them who joined early on and did so much to serve and bring the gospel to so many people. She said the first time she heard about the plan of salvation she could feel it was so true, she thought of is as the plan of happiness.

Overall the investigators are doing well and we`re really excited about the progress of some people, but I'm worried I may leave this week. I`m really hoping I get to stay until December 4th!

A thought I had this week...

In this part of the Book of Mormon, Nephi is having a tough time helping in trying to help a group of people and is feeling a little down on himself. He starts thinking about how much easier it would be if he were living in the time of the first Nephi in the Book. Helaman chapter 7 verse 9 really called my attention. It says "I am consigned that these are my days". I didn't really understand the word consign so I looked it up and it means 1. To entrusted 2. to assign.  God has entrusted us with the situation we are in, we might think sometimes that the grass is greener somewhere else and it might be true but he trusts us to complete with His purposes. When he trusts us that also means he will give us the help in what we lack. The second definition is assign. He also assigns things to us for our good. Sometimes we just need to learn something. I think if we look at our circumstances like that we will be blessed and we with find more purpose and happiness in our circumstances.

Helaman 7:7-9
7. Oh, that I could have had my days in the days when my father Nephi first came out of the land of Jerusalem, that I could have joyed with him in the promised land; then were his people easy to be entreated, firm to keep the commandments of God, and slow to be led to do iniquity;and they were quick to hearken unto the words of the Lord—
8. Yea, if my days could have been in those days, then would my soul have had joy in the righteousness of my brethren.
9. But behold I am consigned that these are my days, and that my soul shall be filled with sorrow because of this wickedness of my brethren.

Have a great week!!

Elder Birrell

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Two Baptisms!!

Elder Birrell, Jesùs, Elder Langston

This week was awesome capped off by two baptisms on Sunday. I`ll tell you the story of each.

Jesùs is the Chilean that was baptized. He started taking the missionary discussions about 2 years ago because his wife Katalina is a member but he never felt ready, he didn't go to church very much, and he never stopped drinking and smoking. The missionaries had stopped going by for a while then we found his registro (don't know what that's called in English) and passed by and he seemed receptive. The next time we passed by he told us that his daughter had a health problem that made it so he couldn't smoke anymore. That was kind of a turning point for him and he was going to get baptized a couple months ago but then broke his arm 5 days before his baptismal date. That might have been the best thing that happened to him. From then on he changed little by little into a person I could see going to the Temple with his wife someday. It´s been awesome seeing the change in Jesús and how happy this change has made his wife and their family.

Elder Birrell, Luckenson, Elder Langston
Luckenson is a Haitian we found 2-3 months ago. He´s completely alone here in Chile without any family.  He was an accountant in Haiti but he`s had a lot of trouble finding any work here in Chile. He`s really smart and he`s always happy and really wants to do what God wants him to do. He always comes to church and for him that´s been a huge help for him making the decision to be baptized. His change hasn't been as drastic but he`s certainly changed his life little by little. There´s a special light about him now.

Have a wonderful week.


Elder Birrell

Baptism for Jesùs and Luckenson

I got a bloody nose right before the baptism

Our house
The view from our house

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

I love the Book of Mormon

General Conference was awesome for us too, but unfortunately Jacob couldn't come, his dad`s been really sick so we haven't really been able to teach him, keep praying though I know with time he`ll progress.

We do have some other people who are progressing quite a bit so that`s exciting. I feel like I´ll probably leave in a few weeks so it's bittersweet finding so many great people knowing I`ll have to leave them so soon but overall everything has been really great as far as proselyting goes.

In Conference there were a lot of things I loved. I loved all the talks on the Book of Mormon. Being a missionary and having so many opportunities to apply what I learn and feel in reading the book has given me an amazing new perspective and I loved how they described their own experience with the book.

I think there was also a focus on what really matters when it comes down to it. What is it that we truly seek for and how do we get what we ultimately (not it the moment) want.

Part of that is repentance. It`s hard. It's so worth it though as we can feel the Atonement washing the past mistakes away.

I couldn't tell you what my favorite talk is because each one was so moving but I`ll relisten this week and chose one or two (or three or seven).

I hope you have a wonderful week.

Elder Birrell