Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

Elder Birrell and Elder Ortiz overlooking Santiago

So as you may have seen, the weather here has picked up quite a bit (its REALLY HOT) which is especially hard for us since we are out in the streets most of the day, but it's still fun. I prefer it to the cold so it`s all good. 

Cristian is super ready to get baptized, more so than any investigator I've seen. He understands the Book of Mormon better than I do and he has a strong testimony of it through reading and praying he has felt the spirit tell him its true. He`s made pretty drastic changes in his life to repent of put his life more in order and in harmony with the Saviors teachings. He`s ready, but...

In talking about baptism he lacks faith in himself more than anything that he`ll be able to continue in this path. He said something was still missing and I felt inspired by the spirit to share this part of Joshua with him. In this part some priests are taking the arc of the covenant and they arrive at the waters of Jordan and they receive a promise that as the soles of their feet begin walking on the water than it would part. But the waters didn't part as they waited on the shore, they literally had to step into the water with faith and then the miracle came. Its a powerful lesson that sometimes we just have to take a step into the water, into the unknown with faith and that`s where the Lord does miracles with us, or as it says it verse 5 "wonders" among us. Cristian understood this and is willing to follow the counsel of it. It was a super special lesson.

13. And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down from above; and they shall stand upon an heap.

14. And it came to pass, when the people removed from their tents, to pass over Jordan, and the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people;

15. And as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest.)

16. That the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zairean; and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho.

17. And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan

Yesterday also I did an interchange with Elder Tolley who`s also from Washington (Moses Lake) good friend of the Jorgenson`s. He walks really fast and I could barely keep up but we ate 40 pieces of fried sushi after so it was really cool. Kind of funny- someone that`s getting baptized soon in their sector is 19 years old. Her parents were active in the church for years and only stopped going like 5 years ago. She wasn't baptized in the 6 years (age 8-14) for fear of water haha.

We also were busy this week preparing for a zone activity in which all the missionaries from our zone ( the biggest zone in the mission 32 missionaries) come to our sector for a couple hours. The purpose was to invite people to an open door activity at the church but that activity wasn't too successful. The missionaries found some cool people though so hopefully we can find them and teach them. 

Overall a good week and this week will be even better!

Have a great thanksgiving!


Elder Birrell

Reunited with Elder Langston

Elder Birrell and Elder Workinger
With my son and adopted son :)

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Member-Missionary Superstar

I don't think I've ever seen so much progress in a sector as we saw in Dorsal this week.  We did do our part in talking to absolutely everyone (more contacts than I´d every done in one week) but the Lord multiplied our efforts and then some. Through our diligence and exact obedience we´ve seen the happiness in ourselves as well as the fruits that have come in helping more people come unto Christ here. I know I have a long way to go as a missionary but I know that it's OK for now as I stay diligent and obedient all will be taken care of. 

This week the member-missionary superstar award goes to a 12 year old Bolivian kid in our ward named Pablo. Just looking at him you'd think he´s 7 or 8 years old but he´s a fantastic example of a follower of Christ. He always invites his friends to church and two of his best friends have now come 7 or 8 weeks in a row including all church activities. They are even showing up now in white shirts and ties and want to be baptized and pretty soon be able to pass the sacrament with their friend Pablo. One of the friends, Christopher, is super smart and understands the gospel really well for someone his age. On top of that his voice sounds like the kid from Home Alone so he pretty much just sounds like a genius.

The Peruvian family continues to progress but there is one problema. They've expressed the desire to go to Peru in February, live it up "ensuciarse" as they say and wash it all away by getting baptized in March. This is obviously flawed reasoning and we´ll continue helping them to work towards a day to get married and to get baptized before going to Peru. I think this also teaches a lesson though: nothing that has to do with the góspel is cheap, not what we put in and not what we get out. Whether it be our relationship with deity, our testimony, our personal repentance, personal revelation, or true conversiónThere's no cheat code to heaven, nor the heavenly blessings of living the góspel faithfully here on earth. Everything in the world and more can be ours, we just need to be willing to do it the right way- God´s established path back.

Everything is good here! I miss you and love you.

Elder Birrell

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

8 Questions

Well it was another good week here in Dorsal. We’ve been talking with as many people as will listen, and sometimes more. ;)  I’ve realized more and more throughout my mission how important it is to just open my mouth and go for it. At the beginning of my mission I hated contacting people because I was afraid I wasn’t going to do it perfectly, or that people would reject me and this message. 10 months later I still don’t do it perfectly and most people reject me, but I LOVE IT! For many people I’ll be the first person to tell them the marvelous message that Christ’s church has been restored here on the earth. I know this message is true, more than I’ve ever known it before and I’m thankful I’m in a place where we don’t have many investigators so we have time to talk to lots of people.

That said, we’ve found a lot of people recently that will soon be investigators and that’s also exciting. The investigators that we do have are progressing just as hoped and despite one lesson where things didn’t go as planned, everything is moving forward just as we hoped. We are teaching one family that I talked about last week (they live with members) and everything is going well minus the fact that they aren’t married nor do they have plans to be married. We still haven’t explained the entirety of the law of chastity (the “why”), but last night we did a family home evening with them and the other Peruvian family we are teaching (Cristian and Isabel). They are recently married and both bore powerful testimonies of the importance of what they have been doing (her going back to church, him soon being baptized, and them recently getting married). I think it work too, because Hector (the dad of the Peruvian investigator family) is now calling his girlfriend his “wife”.

Another observation from that family home evening; we played a game where 8 cards with questions are lying face down and one person picks a card up then everyone answers the question. My companion and I noticed something. The people who truly understand the gospel (the family of members and Cristian and Isabel) could talk for days on questions like “How can you find peace and happiness”, “How can I become a better person”, and “How can I learn from life’s challenges”. These aren’t necessarily gospel questions, in fact, these are things that we all want to know. The reason for this difference, I believe, is that the gospel has all the answers to every kind of question, especially the questions of the soul.

The 8 questions we asked during FHE
As part of the plan my companion and I made to help more people learn about the gospel and the church, we visited 7 member families on Sunday. We shared a scripture with them and then challenged them to write 5 names of people they know (that aren’t members) by next Sunday. From there we will do family home evenings with them and their friends. Overall, the response from them was really positive. I think many have fears that sharing the gospel with their friends could ruin their relationship, but with the FHE idea their friends can learn more in a relaxed environment and hopefully feel something special.

Last thought. I think fasting is a really undervalued way to come closer to God. It’s mentioned so often in the scriptures, one would think we’d get the idea that it’s something special, but it’s still not thought about enough. I’ve recently been able to get answers from God, feel more strongly the spirit, and see my prayers being answered all through fasting.

We’re as excited as ever, here in Dorsal.

Have a great week!!

Elder Birrell

Thursday, November 3, 2016

New Area- Dorsal

Elder Ortiz and Elder Birrell in their Halloween costumes. ;)

*The last few weeks Seth has written his letters on journal paper and then sent a picture of his letter when he emailed us.  We love that he has more time to write and give us more details about his week.

So I think I’ll do my general letter this way while I’m here so I won’t be in such a rush as I write, plus I’ll be able to send pictures every week while I’m here.

I’m with Elder Ortiz who was born in Mexico but has lived most his life in San Diego. He didn’t really know Spanish until the mission. He seems like a really good missionary already and he started the same time as Elder Langston. The sector I’m working in now is Dorsal. It’s a lot nicer and safer than my previous sectors so you can take a big deep breath haha. Also, I gave a talk this Sunday on the spot!

Right now I’m exhausted, but also really happy and grateful. We don’t really have a lot of investigators, neither do we have many people to teach but we’re working hard to change that. This experience reminds me of when I first got to my last sector. We didn’t have investigators and I didn’t know anything about the sector, but we followed the pattern of Ether 12:27, recognizing our weaknesses and humbly looking for strength in Christ. From my experience in Galvarino I learned to trust in this promise and to put my trust in Christ, so that’s exactly what we are and will be doing in Dorsal.

Ether 12:27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

This past week we pretty much talked to everyone in our path and we are already seeing the fruits of that work. This has mostly come from foreigners- Venezuelans, Colombians, Peruvians and Haitians, but every once in a while Chileans too. J This week we hope to see some progress with these people and to continue meeting more.

They did have one really cool investigator before I got here and his name is Cristian. He’s been investigating for about 5 months now and he’s loved everything he’s learned. He got in contact with the missionaries through his girlfriend (now wife as of 2 weeks), who’s been a member for 3 years, but hadn’t been active in the church (she now is very active). Cristian’s a funny dude and he’s usually making a joke about something, but when the time comes to talk about the gospel he talks as if he’d been a member for years. Some people just get it and he’s one of them. His work has prevented him from coming to church very much, but he’ll be getting a new contract on Thursday, so we’re all hoping and praying it includes Sundays off.

His wife is another person that spiritually gets it and she shared a cool story of something that happened to her brother just last week. So in their family, only she, her mom, and her brother are members. Just a week or so ago her brother had a vivid dream in which his aunt came to him and pleaded with him, saying something along the lines of “help me, I cannot progress, you’re the only one who can help me. I can’t do this by myself.” He later realized that just that week she had completed the one year of being passed away and needed to do baptisms for the dead in the temple. He immediately did all the preparations needed to do this saving work for his aunt. Just as described in the last verse of the Old Testament- “he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers.” People (many of whom are our very own ancestors) are waiting for us, who still have bodies, to help them do what they didn’t have the opportunity to do in their mortal experience here on earth. This story helped me to realize how personal the service offered in the temple truly is, these aren’t just names on a piece of paper, these are souls that can’t progress without our help.

A few days ago we ate lunch with a lady from Costa Rica and her Chilean husband. It was easy to see a couple of challenges this lady was facing- 1. Chile was a long way from home and the culture isn’t very similar to the one she grew up in. 2. Her husband now can’t walk and can barely speak due to an accident he had pretty recently. He now only vaguely resembles the man she married 5 years ago. Yet she might be one of the happiest people I’ve ever met. We shared a scripture with her as we tend to do when we eat lunch with people, but what she shared with us was of far greater significance. I don’t remember most of what she said, but as she talked about the gospel her eyes lit up and exuded joy and gratitude. She admitted these past years haven’t been easy, but she said she couldn’t imagine how hard they would’ve been without the gospel.

We’ve also recently started working with a Peruvian family who lives at a member’s house. Last night we had a Family Home Evening with those two families and recently married couple in the ward. We watched the Lamb of God which shows the final week of the Savior’s life including His atoning sacrifice and resurrection. The spirit was so powerful that I think everyone got a little emotional.

I hope you all have a wonderful week!!

Elder Birrell