Friday, February 27, 2015

La Semana Paso Volando!

February 23, 2015

Dear Family,
La semana pasó volando (This week flew by).  I am grateful to be here in Talcahuano.  This week we had a conference with Elder Di Giovanni from Buenos Aires who is a member of the 7th Quorum of the Seventy.  It was great and I got good notes. 

Macarena and Hilda were baptized.  They both love the gospel, I think it is because they have passed through some extremely trying times.  The Bishop baptized Macarena and Brother Campbell from the Stake Presidency baptized Hilda.  The previous missionary here worked very hard, and I am making sure he gets a picture of their baptism.  

It is very windy here in Talcahuano, it is great.  Today as a P-day activity we had a big dodge ball competition with 7 combined zones.  It was fun.  We met up in a very large stake center, and divided the 150ish missionaries into 6 teams.  We had a blast.  

We have a few people that we are teaching, but not many, so we are going to be committing member families to give away copies of The Book of Mormon.

I love you all and hope you are well.  I am short on time to write, but I love you more than all the minutes that have passed since the first vision in the spring of 1820.

Elder Withers

Monday, February 16, 2015

New Area, New Companion and a New Bishop

February 16, 2015

Dear Family,
Well, this has been a good week.  

The weather here in Talcahuano is way comfortable right now.  It isn’t as hot as Parral, there is a constant and strong ocean wind, and we can see the huge huge ships that come into the harbor area of the zone.  It is a great ward, with about 160 people in church on Sundays.  Our ward mission leader magnifies his calling, and we got a new bishopric last Sunday.  The ward had gone a few months without a bishop, because the last one moved and they took a while to find a new one.  Bishop Krausse is his name, and he looks like Einstein, an older guy with crazy scientist white hair, and a well trimmed white moustache.  He is cool. 

Being companions with Elder Hutchins is probably one of the biggest blessings so far in the mission.  We think alike and I haven’t ever had a comp I got along with so well.  He is the 3rd of 10 children, which explains why he is so easy to get along with.

Well, I am out of time.  I was reading and responding to a lot of people today.  Just know that I am happy and healthy and love you all more than the number of paper clips it would take to link the sun to the far end of the milky way galaxy.

Elder Withers

Transfer to Talcahuano

February 9, 2015

Dear Family and Friends,
This week has been an adventure and a half.  Our landlord has been very problematic, and has been cheating the contract, and so the mission office had us look at a few houses where we could live, and we found a good house and we’re going to move in at the end of the week, but then on Wednesday morning, Elder Kauer from the office called us and said we had better start packing up, he wanted us out that day.  The other elders called a convert who has a huge flat bed truck, and before lunch we had the entire house packed up.  It was crazy, but it is good to be in a better, cheaper house.  It is a bit smaller, but brand new, better priced, more secure, in a more quiet, and more central location.  We are a 3 minute walk from Lider Expres (a mini Wal-Mart).  The new landlords are great.  Our house is built behind their house, and they have chickens and roosters.  They asked if the roosters bother us, and since they wake us up at 5 am we said yeah, they are a bit bothersome.  That same day, in the afternoon, they broke the necks of those blasted birds, and were later cleaning them out.  They are a nice older couple.  I really like the new house.   

However, I won’t get to enjoy the house for long, I am being transferred to Talcahuano tomorrow.  Estaca Talcahuano Norte, barrio Cruz del Sur (Talcahuano North Stake, South of the Cross Ward).  It is hard to leave Parral, but I know Talcahuano will be good, and I will at least have the mission office close by again.  It will be an exciting place, a lot less hot than Parral because it has a good ocean breeze.  I will be with Elder Hutchins from Connecticut.  He is a good elder, I was in the same MTC group as him, and there are a lot of other missionaries in the zone that I already know.  I look forward to the upcoming transfer.  

I am loving the mission, and am grateful for each and every thing I have learned so far.  I love how each day I have the opportunity to help other people come closer to God.  I hope you are all happy and healthy.  Have a great week, and just keep being awesome.  I know you will all be able to do your best on everything, if you try your hardest and say a sincere prayer. 

Cuidense arto.  Les amo más que el numero de versiculos en los libros canonicos que mencionan Jesucristo.  (Take care.  I love you more than the number of verses in all the cannonzied books – scriptures, that mention Jesus Christ.)

-Elder Withers

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Improving Teaching Methods, and Surviving a Dog Bite

Feb 2, 2015

Hello Folks, Fellows, and Familiar Faces!
This week was a very interesting week.  It was a good week, just very busy.  We had splits with the assistants, and those were great because I learned a lot a lot of good things about how to work with members in every aspect of the work.  Funny thing about the assistants - it is trainer and trainee from a year and a half ago.  After Elder Calder finished his 12 weeks training he trained Elder Mitton, and now they are companions again.  I was with Elder Calder and took really good notes. 

Something Elder Calder taught me that can help any and all teachers prepare to teach a class or a lesson is breakdown vocabulary.  Let me explain.  Try teaching a 5 year old what ordinance means.  Now teach the same thing to a 45 year old.  To help the 5 year old understand, you use simpler words, right?  When we break it down, they understand better.  Now the preparation.  Take key words from the lesson you are going to teach words such as faith, atonement, priesthood, baptism, or any gospel term, and wrap your mind around it by trying to express the meaning of the term in 3 words.  In Spanish you might need to do it in 4 words.  For example, faith might be “action in Christ”.  As we teach simply so that even a child can understand, everyone will understand, and the Spirit will have a greater chance to testify. 

Also, quite frequently we study and learn gospel doctrines with a highly in-depth, complex perspective, and then when we teach that is all we express. We often teach the roof, and then hope the person either already has a foundation or that he can build it and then put the roof back on.  We teach the complex, hoping they will understand the principles as we understand them.  For a teacher to achieve that his students understand as he does, he must first teach the simple and then build up their understanding, bit by bit, according to the needs of the learner.  In other words, milk before meat.         

A few days ago, as I was riding my bike, a dog ran up and normally they are just following the bike, focusing on the spinning of the wheels.  If I speed up, they usually get excited and more aggressive.  If I slow down or stop, they lose interest and go away.  I started to slow down, and this dog for whatever reason decided to latch onto my ankle.  It was a medium to large street dog, but didn’t bite too deep because the movement of the bike pedals made him lose his grip.  We called the mission nurse and she told me what to do.  I have started the required process of 5 shots for anti-rabies and other infections.  Luckily, Chile does dog bite shots for free, because dog bites are so frequent, so it doesn’t cost the mission anything.  There wasn’t any bad bleeding or anything, and it should heal quickly.

Also this week was the Semana Parralina, because the city is 200 and something years old they do a big party all week long in the plaza.  So we contacted hundreds of people in the evenings, and set up some good citas (appointments).  I am excited.  The work is moving along great here in Parral.

I love you all more than the number of boats and canoes docked to the 10,000 lakes in Minnesota.

-Elder Withers