Thanks for your amazing letters. I really enjoy all the little updates each person has to share. I can’t believe you had 60 mornings below zero. That is crazy, I wish I could send some summer over to you guys, because we have a lot of it.
My companion is a really nice, genuine person. We work together really well, and I feel like he would be a companion I will keep in contact with after the mission. He was really into sports before the mission, and did just about everything (football, wrestling, basketball, hockey, motocross, and lifting) His morning exercise is pretty intense. One time he was benching his bed, with another missionary on top of the bed for added weight.
The area we are in is a brand new area. It was opened one transfer before I got here, so we are kind of starting this sector from ground zero. We are starting to find investigators and inactives too. We may or may not baptize during this transfer, but I know there is no shortage of work here in Lorenzo Arenas. This ward has some of the first converts of Chile. Missionaries got to Santiago in 1956, and there are some 1957 converts here. There is an active member who served in the Chile Mission. She was the first sister missionary to serve in Concepcion, and her mission covered all of Chile. We had a family home evening with her and her husband, who also served a mission. They served root beer floats (which is awesome because you can’t buy root beer in Chile) The husband had a companion who brought root beer with him to the mission field in Chile, and he thinks it is the most amazing drink. They have American Elders ask their families to send root beer concentrate with a package, and then they make the root beer. I told them (the Mella family) that you guys could send root beer concentrate in the next package. They would love you forever if you can send some in the next package.
I will try to put two weeks of adventures in one letter. I ate horse meat last week. It was a lunch appointment with the Lopez family, and they usually serve horse meat.
I live with a missionary named Elder Ainge. His father is Danny Ainge, of the Boston Celtics. Elder Ainge was playing basketball for BYU before the mission. He is really nice and very humble.
The other day was Valentine´s Day, and we had an awesome ward activity. It was a karaoke night. The bishop made it really exciting for everyone by dividing the ward into three teams, and putting one or two missionaries with each team. The teams would compete for points by trying to be the best group in a certain category of music. It was a close competition and everyone was a winner. At the end of the activity they had the YMCA song playing, and nobody was really paying attention, most people were just getting ready to leave. My companion thought it would make for a good grand finale, so he handed me the microphone and told me to jump up on the stage. During the whole activity, nobody used the stage. All the singing had just been done on the floor. I jumped up there and started to sing the song as I spelled out the letters ´´Y.M.C.A.´´ I got the 20 or so people that were still there singing and dancing to it, then at the end of the song, my companion and Elder Taylor carried me on their shoulders and I kept singing the song and making the ´´Y.M.C.A.´´ letters as they carried me around. The whole ward knows I have no idea how to sing, but I just decided to be really excited about it, even though I was about 10,000 miles outside of my comfort zone. It was kind of like when Buddy the Elf (Movie Elf with Will Ferrell) got the mail room singing and dancing. It was a good ward activity, and some less active members and some investigators showed up. Most of them participated in the competition.
I can’t remember if I told you guys yet or not that the second temple in Chile will be built in my zone. It will be down by the Bio Bio River. I've seen pictures of what it will look like. It will be three floors, with a fourth floor underground.
The stake here is starting to put a huge focus on family history work. Our zone leaders are expecting us to help the members use family history as a way to find new investigators.
I would love to share the awesome pictures that I have, but the blasted plug ins with these computers just don’t pick up anything.
I love you all more than the number of good people all over the world who would accept the gospel but just don’t know where to find it.
Elder Chad Withers
This week has been BEAUTIFUL. This whole summer has been impossibly hot throughout the whole thing, but this week it has cooled off and it’s even a little bit chilly during the night. I have slept with a blanket for 6 nights in a row! That’s a new record.
I’m not really sure how, but the town of La Paz has this overwhelming smell like cilantro. Not so much in the downtown part, but if you get out in the wide open spaces with fields and farms and acreage.....the whole town has a cilantro smell for some reason. It just barely started...maybe its cilantro season? I have no idea. I don’t even like cilantro, but I can’t seem to get enough of this smell. It is just so fresh and wonderful....it’s like I am living in paradise!
We have an investigator named Tito (not sure if I have talked about him) but he is awesome. He is 20 years old and working hard. He doesn't actually live with his family though. He comes from a humble background, is the oldest of 6 kids, and when he was little his mom would send them out to beg for food because they had no income. He would always go to the Castella family....who are less actives in our branch. The mom would give him lunch and let him stay to play with her kids. Play out 15 years to where we are today, and that mom is a nice grandma, her daughter lives in the house in front of hers, and Tito is like the child they never had who helps out with nearly everything. He helps take care of the paralyzed grandpa who can’t eat, go to the bathroom, get dressed, or anything. He runs errands for them, cleans stuff up, and it’s so cool. This boy who was so little when his mom sent him out to ask for food is able to give back and help out. So he has been living essentially with this less active family. We have visited the family what feels like a million times and they know they need to come to church, but actually getting there is a struggle. A couple of weeks ago we met Tito and started teaching him and he is so awesome! He absorbs the lessons like a child....sincerely interested in learning and so quick to act on faith and believe. His work schedule has made it hard for him to come to church, but he has progressed so much so far, that I know he can do it. He told us that he met with the missionaries for a while about 4 years ago, and he wanted to get baptized but he was only 16 and his parents wouldn't give him permission. Now he is 20....so baptism is his independent decision! We are excited and hope he will get baptized.
Tito is really the only investigator we have though that is pulling through and keeping his word. All of our investigators keep meeting delays in progression....making up excuses for why they didn't come to church, or trying to explain that they are just so busy they didn't have time to read the Book of Mormon. The best part is that when we have these conversations with people, we are usually talking to them while they are sitting there drinking mate telling us about how stressful and hectic their lives are.
I’m working hard to not be frustrated though! Because frustration just drives the spirit away, but seriously.....where are the people who are ready to progress? Our teaching pool has been cycled through several times and it’s hard when all of them don’t want to choose the Gospel. Maybe they still don’t get how important it is (even though we have explained it like a thousand times) but it’s okay. Missionary work is all the same. Some get to plant for a while, others may be in charge of weeding, and some get to pick the fruit. It feels like I have been in the weeding department for a really long time, but maybe that’s what I am good at. Ha, who knows. Success isn't manifested by the number of baptisms but rather my desire to bring people to Christ.
So I got another box. I think your theory about the boxes being faster is true. I know they are more expensive, but I still haven’t got the padded envelope you sent in October, but I got a box sent January 30. It doesn't add up but it makes me feel closer to you guys when I can get notes and a package that isn't three or four months out dated. I opened the box up right away and gave a tootsie pop to each of the Elders. The one from the Jungle of Peru loved it. I also gave one to Pepe our missionary leader and in Spanish he was like, "candy from America?!" Ha it was fun to share. Don’t worry, I am keeping the rest for me. From the other package I let the Hermanas from Santa Elena try a tootsie roll. One is from Chile and the other from Peru, and they were so funny. They kept asking if it was gum or if it was chocolate....and I was just like......"uh...neither. It’s a chewy sweet called a tootsie roll with chocolate flavoring"
I love you all sooooooo much and hope you know I pray for you every day. I am so grateful you are all doing well. Keep up the good work and know that I love you more than all the plates of noodles with bread I have eaten since being here!