Wednesday, March 29, 2017

March 28, 2017- Meetings, meetings and more meetings

Pizza Night
This week was a little crazy with meetings and other things we had to do, so we barely even had time to work in our area. This weekend alone we saw President Videla 4 times in 3 different cities. (Zone conference in Colina on Friday, District conference in Colina on Saturday, the other half of District conference on Sunday in Lampa and a special meeting for all the ward mission leaders in the mission in Santiago on Sunday night) Even though we did miss a lot of time working in our sector, the meetings were all spiritually edifying and I learned quite a bit.

Zone conference was special because:
  • It was just our zone
  • The assistants didn’t go so we had to do the part of the zone leaders and assistants.

Among the responsibilities were: setting up everything, directing, giving a report, teaching a class, doing a demonstration directing a council, and taking everything down. (A lot of our part was filmed and sent to the next mission president that will be here in July) My whole mission I’ve been a part of giant zone conferences with multiple huge zones, so it was really nice the way it was done this time.

One thing we talked about is a program called Open Chapel. It started in Mexico, then spread to Argentina and now it’s coming here. We watched a video to introduce the idea to us and while we watched, a sister missionary blurted out, “that’s me!!”. We realized afterwards that there was a photo of her because it was through an open chapel activity that she was introduced to the gospel and baptized. She is currently serving here in this branch (Lampa). It’s cool seeing the fruits of these efforts right in front of our eyes.

One of the themes of this weekend was obedience, especially the “why”. Why should we be obedient to God’s commandments? The answer lies somewhere in the gospel of John chapters 14 and 15.
“If ye love me, keep my commandments”
“He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me”
“If a man loves me, he will keep my words”
“But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us hence”
“If we keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love, even as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love”
This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you”

Why do we obey God’s commandments? Because we love God. True obedience should never come from fear nor any purpose other than love of God. The essence of the commandments is love.

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind…Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself”
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets”

As we closely examine all the commandments we will find they all boil down to a testing of a love for God and our neighbor. The essence of the commandments is love, and this love I have felt abundantly as I have strived to be obedient here in the mission. I invite everyone (myself included) to examine their motives and personal obedience and to set goals and make plans in order to feel more of this perfect love of Christ.

All’s good here in Lampa. Highlights of the week was probably the selfie my comp and I took on President Videla’s cellphone. I’ll try to get that picture. I included some pictures here so you can visualize the sector a little bit.

Love,

Elder Birrell
Wide open spaces in Lampa

Finally on a bike!

Hitchhiking to Family Home Evening
FHE with la familia

Saturday, March 25, 2017

March 21, 2017- Word of Wisdom

Digging a GIANT hole for an investigators future bathroom
How’re things over there? Elder Heaps and I are doing well over here working with the investigators we have and continually finding new ones. A unique challenge to this set of investigators that we’re working with is that a lot of them are drug addicts. Some of them are addicted to some of the lighter drugs and some are into the heavier ones. It’s been an eye opener seeing the world from their view. The ups, the downs, the victories and the hard falls. It’s absolutely heartbreaking seeing what these substances do to people and their families. It’s so sad that sometimes it even gets me down for a bit just thinking about their situations.

The other day I was talking to my comp and I thought what would the church be like if the Word of Wisdom didn’t exist. After a little while of thinking and talking about it, we both agreed it wouldn’t be the church of Jesus Christ. I’m so grateful for having this piece of modern revelation in my life so I can fully enjoy all the wonderful moments this life has to offer. I’m not sure I fully understood the blessings of the Word of Wisdom until I got here and saw the misery and complete loss of hope in these people. I invite everyone to read the 89th section of Doctrine and Covenants and to tell me that’s not completely inspired of God.

Other than that, this week we dug two giant holes for an investigator's future bathroom and we did cleaning checks. Just so you know Mom, I’ve gotten a perfect score on the last 6 changes (aka 8 plus straight months of impeccable houses). Hope you’re proud of me, Mom!!. Also I ate tomatoes, onions and corn almost every day this week. Still hate them, but I’m trying. Hahaha

Love you guys,
Elder Birrell




Thursday, March 23, 2017

March 14, 2017- Baptisms in Lampa and Dorsal!

My comp Elder Heaps,  Matias and Vicente
Hola mi querida familia!! Well this week did have some troubles along the way, but it ended super well so I’m not gonna complain. On Sunday we were able to have 2 baptisms here in Lampa, two brothers – Matias and Vicente. And I was excited to hear that in Dorsal, (my last area) Graciela was baptized!

The parents of Matias and Vicente are members of the church. Their mom served as the Relief Society President in the past and their dad had worked in the Young Men’s presidency. Just over a month ago the two brothers began to express a desire to come back to church and after coming to church just once also expressed the desire to be baptized. Ever since they’ve come back to church, they’ve been two of the most active and involved young men in the branch. Everyone was shocked to find out they weren’t already members.
Baptism of Matias and Vicente
It was amazing to see the example kids can set for their parents. The parents had been wanting to come back for a while now, but excuses and self-doubt impeded them from making the firm decision to come back. It took the pure Christ-like desire of their kids to help them become active in the church once again. Super cool baptism.

I was almost even more excited about the baptism Elder Dussan and his new companion had in Dorsal this weekend. The cool thing about Graciela is I felt ever since the first contact that she was going to be baptized. A lot of time passed between the first contact and our first lesson with her, but as we began teaching her it became even more obvious that she would be baptized. The spirit was so strong in every lesson we taught her, which in part is thanks to the fact that literally every lesson we ever taught her was in the home of faithful, devoted latter-day saints. I think another great factor in her conversion was how she would take seriously the homework we’d give her. We gave her a calendar of scripture passages for every day of her vacation and she did it every day. While she was in Peru, she also went to church every Sunday with her returned missionary cousins.
Baptism of Graciela in Dorsal with Elder Dussan 
Given how fast her testimony has grown and her age (she turns 19 in May) I wouldn’t be all that surprised if she serves a mission in the coming years.

There was a new missionary in the zone that wanted to go back home super bad, but we were able to help him stay in the mission. A super good kid, just needed to get his head in the right place, he’ll be a great missionary.

It was another solid week here in Lampa, working hard and seeing results. Also shout outs to both my kids in the mission (Langston and Dussan) for baptizing this week. They’re both excellent missionaries.

Have a great week.

Love,
Elder Birrell
Zone leader lunch with President Videla