Monday, September 9, 2013

Baptism in Chile

Dear Family,
I have not gotten any letters, although there is a sister in my area who gets a package or letter every couple weeks.  I don’t know if the strike is over or not.  I would give you my house address, but I am moving.  Eugenio wants his house back, I think his daughter is moving in or something.  By the end of October, we have to find a new house.  I am not sure who will do the house hunting.  It might be the office, our zone leaders who happen to live in our house, or it might be us.  All I know right now is that I will be somewhere else in this area by November.
I tried to upload pictures, but it is not working.  How are you all? Has anyone been fishing lately?  The tortilla thing with peanut butter and jam is great.  I also occasionally add Hershey’s syrup, or cornflakes for added crunch.  I might buy a watch today with the debit card, but no se (translation: I don’t know).  I have been fine with just a minute hand.  Tell me more about what is going on with you guys.  

Saturday, Maria del Carmen Quiroz Orellana was baptized.  She is 52 years old.  My companion baptized her and in church next day, I did the baptism by fire.  It was really neat.  She reads the book of Mormon a lot.  We gave her a small reading assignment, and she read about 35 chapters.  I think she will be a strong convert, and her close neighbors are an awesome family of active members.  Familia Vejar was great in helping us teach her. Members are really nice, we are grateful for the ones that have cars and give us rides when they see us walking.  We have an investigator, almost an ex-investigator because he doesn’t keep important commitments, such as reading.  He is 72 years old, has been smoking for 40 years.  I know he has the willpower to quit smoking, because he is an alcoholic, but hasn’t drank in 3 years. The guy, whose name you can not know, has a rough history. What he did many years ago is why he is interested in the church. Years ago, there was a violent dictator who used the military to kill off many of the Mapuche Indian tribe.  It was genocide, and thousands were tortured and killed.  During this terrible time, this investigator was a Captain in the Chilean army.  He killed many innocent people, and commanded his soldiers to do the same.  At his command, many people were murdered.  There will undoubtedly need to be a lot of approvals and signatures and such for him to be baptized, if he gets baptized.  He has gone from 30 cigarettes a day to about 10.  I don’t think we will have much more contact with him, he skipped church yesterday and is being hard of heart.  I wanted to tell you about him because I thought it was amazing that a person who has done such terrible things is still a child of God, and can come closer to Christ if only they will.  

The weather is definitely warming up here, I´ve stopped wearing my coat.  Yesterday we were tracting, and it was kind of dark, and we weren’t really paying much attention to street signs.  We shouted ´´hallo´´ at the gate, and the dog that came to bark at us looked very familiar.  We realized we had gone around in a big circle, because there aren´t many dogs in the whole world as ugly as that one.  How has school been going?  How are your teachers?  What is new at the pulp palace? I love you all, and wish you all a happy spring, or fall.

I love you more than the number of dogs that bark at us.
Elder Withers

Dear Family,
It's been a crazy week.  And by crazy, actually not that crazy, it's just that time goes by really fast.

We got bikes this week!  And, they weren't absolutely necessary...they just cut down our travel time to some apartment complexes.  A lady in the ward donated them...and they work okay.  One of the seats was falling apart, so she left us with some pink/green/black camouflage duct tape to keep it together, and it looks hilarious.  Fresh and unique, but a little trashy too (:  It's fun.

The humidity is a little crazy out here, but this least week has been amazing because it has cooled down and dried up a bit.  When its super hot and humid, our morning runs our slow going because it’s harder to breathe, and we come home soaked because it’s so hot, even at 6:30 in the morning.  It's crazy!

We had zone conference this week, and it was really cool.  My favorite thing that I learned was that Benadryl is not for everyone. There are all sorts of people in the world.  People with spiritual heart disease, bug bites, flu, ear infections, eating disorders, etc....and all of these things need to be treated....but these sicknesses can't all be cured by Benadryl.  Benadryl might work for the bug bites, but that's about it.  We all have different spiritual needs, and likewise there are different things that will bring people to the gospel depending on their needs.  As missionaries I think we easily get caught into the trap of saying, "Hi I am (Dr.) Hermana Withers, and I am a representative of Christ... what are your symptoms?  Well I have this great medicine called Benadryl, and it has worked for so many other people, so I know it can help you with your bronchitis."  This trap is so easy to fall into, but I am learning that first assessing a person's needs will help a missionary determine what to say.  Everyone needs the gospel, because it is the all curing treatment, we just all need it in different ways for our different sicknesses.

I got my first mail since being here in Virginia this week!  I hadn't received anything, and then on Wednesday I got mail at Zone Conference that had been sent to the mission office (because they don't forward anymore) and then I got a letter from Mom and Lauren too.  It was sweet!  Thanks for mailing me!!!!  I promise to write you back too!

We had a cool thing happen this week.  We walk past the same apartments every day.  We see the same people all the time, and because we stand out as white Americans, everyone knows us. So, we were walking past a house/apartment thing a few weeks ago (I don't really know how to explain them...they are kind of weird) and this guy was sitting on his porch.  He stands up, waves at us and in crazy fast Spanish says "Hey, I am a less active member, but I have an nephew serving in Ecuador, and I am from Guatemala but I am working here in America..." and he went on for a few minutes, but I could only actually pick up a little bit.  It's a miracle we have never seen him before, and that he was there when we walked past because he works all the time.  He asked us if we could find the address of his nephew's mission in Ecuador, so he can send him money for a camera...and we're like "Sure, if you let us come back and talk to you more, you have deal."  So we try to go back, and he wasn't there.  We go back the next Tuesday, and he was there again!  So we talked to him, explained how there were 5 major cities in Ecuador, any one of which could be his nephew's we had to say...sorry, we tried.  If you can get us more information, we can help out more.  Then we casually asked him how much he remembered of the story about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.  It was about8:30, so it was just barely dark, but the light from the porch illuminated enough of his face for me to see a trickle of tears fall down his face.  He explained how he has been living in America for three years trying to support his wife and kids who are still in Guatemala.  He is a young guy, but said he was baptized in Guatemala and just became inactive.  Since being in America, he has seen missionaries on bikes all the time, but none of them ever noticed him walking or stopped to talk to him.  With surprising determination in his eyes, and with a quivering strength in his voice, he said..." I know the story of Joseph Smith is true." He quoted James 1:5 (which is amazing, no one ever remembers these details!)  He said he has been reading the Book of Mormon lately, and again with powerful strength in his voice he said, "I promise you guys I will be at church on Sunday."  He would bear more testimony, and then promise again.  He promised he would come to church 4 times.  And for the rest of the week, we were hoping he was doing alright and still able to come to church.  And yesterday, we walk into the room........AND HE WAS THERE.  He was in a white shirt, tie, slacks, and polished shoes.  He got a little weepy again, but he stayed for the whole meeting, sang all the hymns, and met some of the members.  We keep telling him it’s a miracle that we found him, because we feel like we pretty much know everyone here already....but the Lord crossed our paths and it is awesome.  We didn't do anything special that day, or offer any sort of miraculous prayer, we are just trying to be good girls following the missionary rules, and I can already see the blessings from this.  So cool.

This Friday, the Washington DC South and North are going to a Nationals game against the Phillies.  I don't know how in the world these presidents got permission from the Bretheren in Salt Lake, but we all have tickets and are all excited!  There should be about 500 of us there, so maybe you might get to see the missionaries on TV.  

Sorry this letter is a little bit shorter this week, I will write more and send pictures next week!

I love you all more than the number of people that say, "Soy Catolico/a"  (Soy Catolico means I’m Catholic)
Hermana Withers

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