Friday, February 17, 2017

Feb. 14, 2017- The Plan of Salvation

Elder Dussan and Elder Birrell enjoying Columbian food!

First, I’d like to express my gratitude, not just for the chance to serve a mission, but for the chance to serve 2 years. There’s an Elder in our district that’s serving for just 6 weeks due to some special circumstances and by being with him on Thursday this past week I realized that’s just not enough. I know that 2-year full time mission service is inspired of God.

Two experiences this week stood out to me more than the rest.

A week ago today, a house completely burned down just 5 minutes from our house. The first person on the scene trying to put the fire out, even before the fire department got there, was (not surprising to us) our investigator Jaime. Jaime is one of the humblest people I’ve ever known and in every sense of the word. He doesn’t have anything of material worth, nor anyone to help him raise his three kids, but he somehow is always serving someone in some way. Despite the fact he doesn’t have anything material, he doesn’t ever complain, nor does he really want anything for himself. In fact, when we first taught him about prayer, he initially didn’t want to do it because he didn’t want to ask for anything. He finally accepted our invitation to pray when we helped him realize he could pray for other people (especially his 3 kids). Jaime is a special person and an excellent example of truly selfless service.

The other experience comes from just a couple days ago. We came across a woman super prepared to listen to our message. She told us that she used to not believe in God, but then her brother died. In a dream so vivid, you could almost call a vision, her brother came to her and began to explain to her what we know as the plan of salvation. She explained to us with detail what was explained to her about the pre-earth life, the need of a body, the plan of God, the veil, the purpose(s) of life here on earth, the spirit world, the judgement, the nature of the resurrection, and the kingdoms of glory. With detail she described to us completely correct doctrine concerning the plan of salvation. We were both sitting there, trying not to look like fools with our jaws dropped. She had never talked to missionaries before, and the version she gave of the plan of salvation is unique only to our church. It was another testimony to the reality and truthfulness of this plan. It’s not just something we talk about and teach, it’s real and through it we can discover purpose in everything I’ve come to understand that God’s ways truly are higher than my ways and I trust Him. I still have a lot to learn but I know this trust will continue bringing me deep understanding of His perfect plan.

Have a great week!!

Love,

Elder Birrell


With Elder Langston and Elder Dussan
 (Seth trained both of these missionaries)
Elder Langston and Elder Birrell back together

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The gospel is perfect

P-day with the Assistants to the President
Family!! Another good week here in Dorsal, no complaints, really. Pretty much everyone is either on vacation, or will soon be on vacation, so that’s a bit of a struggle. Overall, everyone’s good here, we have lots of cool investigators and they’re all progressing little by little. Sometimes we can get frustrated when the progress doesn’t happen right away, but we’re trying to just do our part and trust in the Lord.

Nancy, the less active member I talked about last week, officially decided she is coming back. We passed by for her and her family and she said with a smile “I’ve made my decision; I’m coming back to church. No matter how hard it is I’m coming back.” She then described the miracles she had seen in the time between those two visits. I felt the power of the Lord’s promise in providing the way for us to obey His commandments. We were excited when we saw her walk in church on Sunday.

I’ll write more next week, but this week I’ll finish with a thought. The gospel is the only real and lasting solution to all of life’s problems and the only solution that can last for generations. I’ve just come to realize that it’s just perfect, there is nothing that can really compare to faithfully living the gospel. There’s no joy, hope and peace like that found in the gospel and there’s no greater service we can do to ourselves, our family, friends, posterity, and society than to live the gospel. The gospel is perfect!

Have a wonderful week!!

 View of Santiago
Elder Birrell and his companion Elder Dussan
Old District
New District

Elder Kelsey (former companion)

Monday, February 6, 2017

Jan 31, 2017- A week of miracles

Elder Birrell, Elder Dussan and Elder López
Whoa, I have 13 months as a missionary. I honestly don’t want this to ever end, but the month count becomes more and more frightening. We’re doing well, we’re happy, and we’re working hard here in Dorsal. I’d also like to recognize that not everyone has that same blessing right now in Chile- many are without houses due to the forest fires in the southern part of Chile. Please pray for these people, families, and communities, so they can make a fast recovery and that all these disasters can be for good in the end. Even here in Santiago (far from the fires) that’s all people talk about because pretty much everyone has a family member there. We don’t watch the news, but from what we’ve been told, it’s some serious stuff. (Funny story: the other day that really nice lady I talked about last week, offered us a TV for free so we could watch the news- she’s way too nice).

On Thursday this week, we found a lady who’s been a member of the church for 20 years now, but has been inactive for 3 years. She said she never thought she would ever become inactive. She had served in Young Women’s (in her ward and stake), she was a seminary teacher, she was faithful in paying her tithing and keeping the commandments. We asked her what’s the difference in her life between the time she was a faithful member of the church and these past 3 years. Before she could even respond, tears began rolling down her cheeks. She explained that she used to have peace of mind, like a true inner peace. She said that she was faithful with her tithing, down to the penny, and she never had any financial problems. Even though she’s a single mother, she never felt alone. Now, she said, she’s never at peace with herself, she’s always worried, and she (even though she works everyday) doesn’t even have enough money to buy candy. She says that when she drinks with her friends she has a great time, but in the end she just feels more alone. Above all, she feels empty, that’s the word that most provoked emotion in her- emptiness.  It was powerful hearing this from someone who has experienced both living the gospel faithfully and then ignoring what she knows to be true. The choice is clear.

The amount of people that we’re working with here that are trying to overcome smoking and drinking addictions is quite large and in these past two weeks we’ve seen insane progress. I think I’ve just gotten used to miracles such as these, but I got thinking how powerful the gospel really is in making these changes. Sometimes it’s good for me to sit back and appreciate the opportunity to witness these miracles.

These past two days we’ve had lessons with Graciela (the Peruvians) and the De La Cruz family that were both intensely spiritual. Both lessons have helped me realize how little we really do- we aren’t capable of making drastic changes in the lives of others. These lessons and the experiences they shared helped me see the blessings of the Atonement of Jesus Christ in a very real way. The feelings there were overwhelming powerful, moments I’ll never forget.

This Wednesday we had a Worldwide Conference for missionaries and I learned quite a bit, but what happened at the end is what the conference will be remembered for. Two things were changed: 1. our schedule and 2. The information we report. Basically, our schedule gives us more flexibility and we will report less information in hopes that the information we do report has more to do with the conversion of the investigators. All good things!

Have a great week!!

Love,
Elder Birrell

Elder Tolley
Colo Colo!!!