Monday, March 6, 2017

Feb. 28 2017- Leaving Santiago

Elder Birrell and Elder Loayza
HI family!!
So, right now I’m writing this on Thursday night after having two straight interchanges, the last being with zone leader Elder Loayza who is now in Peru and is no longer a missionary (when you read this letter). Today was the third time I’ve been with him on interchanges and was the last one he’ll ever do. For these three changes I’ve been able to work alongside him in changing the vision of what is possible and in doing so, he’s taught me a ton. He’s taught me how to lead, to teach, to dream bigger, and to be better. I’ll forever be thankful for what he taught me and for these next 10 months I hope to become half as good of a missionary as Elder Loayza.

Elder Heaps, my new companion 
Ok, now I’m writing on Martes (Tuesday) from a place called Lampa (not in Santiago) in the zone Colina with my new comp Elder Heaps. Our zone is more countryside with various pueblitos (small towns), so by area we have the second biggest zone in the mission (only smaller than Los Andes). My companion only has two changes left in his mission, so I kind of feel like I’m in my training again with Elder Smith (Seth’s first companion). He’s super cool and a really good missionary, so we should have a lot of success here these two changes. Also in our zone we have Elder Dillree (from my MTC group), Elder Beales (from Galvarino), Elder Tolley (from my last district), and Elder Langston (mi hijo amado) plus others that I’ve gotten to know throughout the mission.

Here we have bikes which is way cool and makes the work go a lot faster, but I’ll have to figure out how to work effectively on bikes after spending over a year in Santiago walking everywhere. I’ve heard that the branch is super strong and I’ve already met a few of the leaders, including the branch president.

I was sad to leave Dorsal and Elder Dussan, but I know I gave everything I had there and I’m leaving it in a position to succeed. I learned so much and I’m thankful for every moment I had there. I hope Dorsal continues being one of the best sectors in the mission and I’m sure it will be with Elder Dussan now as senior companion.

Last Sunday we did a pre-interview with Jaime and it went so well that we scheduled the real interview for Jueves (Thursday) when we did the interchange. Long story short, we couldn’t find him and he didn’t answer his phone until Friday night and we ask him if he wanted to get baptized that Sunday. His response, “pero, por supuesto” (but, of course). We then went with him on bus to the sector of the zone leaders and he passed his interview. Then on Sunday, the water was cut in all of Santiago, so we weren’t able to fill the baptismal font. As it turns out, two other sectors in the district were also baptizing that week and their churches have a water reserve. At 5pm Jaimie was baptized at the Stake Center!! Despite all the difficulties, his humility, pure desires, testimony, and determination helped him overcome the challenges in the way. The man lives on and raises his kids on what would be about 10 dollars a day, but for his decision to follow Jesus Christ, he has been and will continue to be blessed. All he wants to do is serve others and he realized super quickly that this church was the best way he could do that. Truly a special man and father to his 3 young kids.

Jaime at his baptism
Elder Dussan, Jaime and Elder Birrell
Really quick I’d also like to share a story about Fabian, the convert I talked about that knows a lot. His wife is not a member and has resented the missionaries for over 2 years now. Fabian obviously wants his wife to be a member, but despite his efforts he hasn’t been able to do anything. Fabian for a long time was unable to balance family and the gospel- it was either one or the other- so I think that made it worse. Our recent lessons with him have focused on the fact that family and the gospel are interchangeably connected to help him better understand his role as a father and husband. On Saturday, Fabian called us, almost giddy, to tell us to come over because his wife actually asked for us to come over. That night we shared with the whole family, plus some neighbors and on Sunday everyone came to church.

I’m excited and a little nervous to begin here in Lampa as a zone leader, but I know I’m here for a reason, so I’ll be putting my trust in the Lord more than ever so His purposes can take place.

Elder Birrell

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