Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Chad's first week in Chile, and Rebecca arrived in Washington DC

Aug 26, 2013

Dear Family,
After talking to other missionaries at the training sessions in Concepcion for new missionaries this week, I learned that I am pretty spoiled with the house us missionaries live in here.  I will enjoy hot water while I have it.  The mission president is really nice. He is a great leader, and the things he taught at the meetings were really helpful.  I am glad I took good notes.

My companion is pretty cool.  The best way to describe him is the outgoing hardworking personality of Dustan, with a German accent when speaking English, and who loves skateboarding and skinny jeans.  Hard to picture, but he is really nice.  Everyone tells me I have the best trainer, that they wish he trained them, and that he is really hardcore about finding and teaching.  When tracting or going to appointments, we never walk, we power walk, because walking wastes time.  Throughout the day, I power walk at least 1 hour each day, just to go from point to point, and we plan appointments and tracting so that they are as close together as possible.  

We have 2 investigators progressing really well, Cassandra, who quit smoking, will be baptized the 7th of Sep. and Maria, a Jehovah´s Witness is doing awesome, reading the Book of Mormon a lot, and will be baptized the 7th as well.  It is exciting that we have baptisms coming up soon.  

I am doing great here.  It is cold, and I am always on the lookout for fleas, but I’ve heard they rely on clothing to be able to move around, so doing laundry is what ends their pathetic lives.  Also, haven’t tried it yet, wiping your clothing and bed with dryer sheets repels them.  I don’t think I’ve gotten bit by fleas yet, but I’ve been bitten a little bit on my hands by something.  It hardly itches, and is small, so don’t worry.  

Mom, you were correct when you said they pour oil on salads.  My very first full day in Chile, and my first meal with a member, she drenched the salad in oil, as well as lemon juice.  Mom forecasted that.  

There are a lot of dogs, everywhere in Chile.  The ones inside peoples yards bark really loud when you walk by, and the ones outside yards are calm, often asleep, and don´t seem to even notice you.  If I lived here, I would trade the dog in my yard for one outside in the streets.  

There is so much that I want to write, but it is hard to type it all so fast.  For example, the owner of house we live in is awesome, but we don’t see him much.  He isn’t a member.  He is a nice guy in his 50s who lives here as well.  He has his own room, and works until about 10:15 or so at night, he is really kind.  He smokes, as does almost everyone here, but he gives us bread at no cost to us, makes dinner for us on occasion.  This house is one of the few elder residences that has carpet, heated water, spaciousness, and a couch.  

At the conference, we were fed wonderfully.  Thursday lunch: a foot long subway sandwich.  Friday lunch: a box of dominoes pizza for every 2 missionaries.  There was an extra box left over, so the Elder who I was eating a pizza with, Elder Jensen from Utah, had the idea to go and grab it.  He ate 2 footlongs the other night.  We shared a little bit of the pizza, but that night, I set a record for myself.  My previous record was 5 slices of Costco pizza in the Mexico MTC.  I ate between 2/3 and 3/4 of a pizza, not sure how many slices.  It sufficeth me to say that I didn’t eat much for dinner that night.

More exciting news I figured out at the conference for new missionaries: the mission home for Chile Concepcion and Chile Concepcion South is the exact same building.  I might see Dallin at Christmas.  The offices are about 10 feet apart, but they both share the same bathroom, kitchen, and everything. 

I am glad to hear Rebecca is doing well in Washington D.C.  I hope she gets her visa soon, but then again Washington D.C. is probably really cool to see.  I am going to look for a watch.  On one of my last days in the MTC, I dropped my watch, and the hour hand stopped working.  The minute hand is still great, so it is not a huge problem.  My companions watch broke also, so we use the time on the mission cell phone.  

I have a few more minutes, I just want you to know that I love you all, and am doing great here on this other side of the equator.  The church is true, Joseph Smith was a prophet.  The Book of Mormon is the best thing to ever come off a printing press, simply because it is the pure word of God.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints is the only true church, and we are led by a prophet, President Monson.  I know that what I am doing here in Chile is what I ought to be doing, and I hope that you know that.  I love you all.  Adios.
Elder Withers

Dear Family,
This week has been CRAZY!  I am serving in a little town about an hour outside of DC called Leesburg.  My companion and I are THE ONLY walking sister missionaries in this mission, and its because our area is a mile by a mile.  ITS TINY!  We live in a complex, and right across the street are all of the people we teach. 

Social classes exist here.  The white people are pretty much as loaded as they come and live in the biggest houses you'll ever see.  And everyone else is from El Salvador....and those are the people we teach!  My first day proselyting and meeting the members and investigators, the whole time I kept thinking "uh.....  I haven't even left America and I already can't understand anyone" but after a few days of hearing and speaking ONLY Spanish, I'm doing fine.

The El Salvadorians (?) live in these little apartment complexes with like 8 -12 people.  They all work in landscaping, maid services, at a restaurant, or day care services.  The lady that lives a floor above us runs a daycare sort of thing, and I am pretty sure she only agrees to take care of the kids who can lift heavy things....sometimes it sounds like the ceiling is going to cave!

So we walk everywhere...and by everywhere I mean we walk across the street from our apartment (which is actually super nice...more on this later) and to the other complexes.  We walk through one, and if no one is outside we move on...crossing the parking lot that connects to the next one, and if there is still no one, then we cross another street and arrive at yet another huge apartment complex.  The third one never disappoints, because its the biggest and also has a huge park type thing in the middle, with benches, a playground, and about 80,000 kids playing soccer and speeding around on their Dora and transformer bikes.  It should be documented - these kids are good at soccer.  They not only play like Latinos...they play with the playground (ha if that makes any sense.)  They pass through the bars and secret tunnels, kick over the slides and around the rocking horse things, and their accuracy is awesome.  They are all going to be famous one day. 

Because our area is so small, and we stand out as white, everyone knows us, has seen us, has been taught by us, or knows someone being taught by us.  A lot of kids ask for stickers and sometimes you will be meeting someone on a bench or something and some more people will come over and join the discussion, as if they are afraid to miss out on something. 

The surge of missionaries is real.  Just in this tiny little area, we have 4 missionaries, 2 hermanas and 2 elders, all Spanish speaking.  In the ward, just this one tiny little Potomac Crossing Ward, there are EIGHT MISSIONARIES.  Eight!  It's crazy.  There were never that many in just our Boise ward, and that ward is twice the size of this one.  It gets better.  The ward is English speaking, but all of our investigators and members speak mediocre English...so there is a little group of Spanish members who have their own sacrament meeting in the Relief Society room at the same time.  It is too small of a group to be a branch, but they all show up and support each other, so it’s awesome.  The goal is to make it big enough (not exactly sure what big enough is) by the end of the year.  In that Spanish group, there are 6 missionaries!  I don't know where they are all coming from, but there are tons of us.  The members love it, and everyone else in Leesburg gets to see us and have repeated visits and lessons from a lot of different missionaries - because we aren't going anywhere and there are more coming.  There is a lot to do and we have to find those people who are ready for the gospel but who have been slipping through the cracks.

The day I flew in, I arrived with 42 other missionaries fresh out of the MTC.  10 of us are visa waiters, and another 8 or so came from the Mexico MTC.  The president and his wife along with the assistants greeted us at the airport.  They all kept saying, you are the record!  42 is the largest number they have ever had come in on one transfer.  We completely overtook baggage claim, and it took a U-haul to transport all of the luggage.  President Riggs is incredible, and also very young (they have 3 kids still living with them at home).  We piled into two 14 passenger vans, and other random cars that came from somewhere, and began a tour of DC!  It was sweet.  Whoever designed the roadway system for DC is crazy, because it makes no sense.  There are random one way streets and every other intersection seemed to be a roundabout.  Sister Riggs was driving the car I was in.  President really wasn't kidding when he said, "I love you guys, but pray hard...she is a scary driver."  Ha, I thought I might not ever live to see the Lincoln Memorial. 

Once we finished gallavanting around DC for a few hours, we piled into our cars, began the trek home for dinner and then to the hotel.  There were 17 of us sisters, and the mission home couldn't hold us all for the night...so we went to the hotel!  It was cool.

The next day we spent training, and I met my companion Hermana Woodbury.  She has been in the field for 6 weeks...which means my trainer is young, but she is amazing and everything is going well.  She is super super awesome, but a little more shy and reserved than my last companion so that has been an adjustment.  We get along really well though.  

There is so much more I want to write and describe about this area, but there isn't enough time, so I will do my best over these next couple of weeks to be as descriptive as possible.  
I love you more than all of the Hispanics that live in one apartment,
Hermana Withers 

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