Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Santiago - October 13, 2014

Well... Hi Family!
This is my last letter. Kinda weird to think. I just spent most of my day celebrating with Cristian and his family in the mansion house. It was pretty fun. I wanted to buy a couple more souvenirs and such, but for Columbus Day everything shuts down here. Oh well. That's life.
After leadership conference on Tuesday, we missed the bus. The good news is that it gave me time to have a temple recommend interview (I was without one for a few days there) and President was able to help me with my BYU stuff, which was good, because I was totally lost. In addition to that, the financial secretary of the mission was able to take some time to put in all my reimbursements. It's kinda nice to have around two hundred dollars that the mission owed me. It's mission money, and I'm not gonna need it all, but it's nice to have in case of emergency! I've been kinda scrimping these past couple months, and I can start living comfortable for a week! Overall, it wasn't so bad missing the bus.
On Tuesday we got a message that Cristian's dad died. He's been sick for a few years - diabetes, dialisis, all kinds of problems like that. It was rather unexpected. It's been amazing to see how they've stayed firm, though, especially compared to the other family members who don't have the gospel. The plan of salvation is truly a help in moments like this.
Monica Gramajo is the lady that has all the kids that are drug addicts that got baptized about a month ago. Her older daughter was the first to take interest in the family, but after the first lesson, went very cold very suddenly. During that time, she said all kinds of terrible things to her mom, and did all she could to keep her younger sister from going. The other day, she listened. For the second time in the four months we've been going by. Miracles do happen.
We went to barrio Autonomía the other day. It's a somewhat better off part of town very far away from the chapel. Missionaries don't usually go there exactly for those reasons. When we went, we found a lot of great people! It's amazing the small faith it takes to ask someone you can come in when they give off an "I don't want you here" vibe, but it's incredible to see how many let you in and then listen attentively. Faith is so important in the work of the Lord!
We had a zone training. A sister passed out a hand out that picked apart all the different things we do as a missionary, and calculated that for a male two year mission, there's only 6 months of proselyting time, if one is exactly obedient to the schedule. Kinda nuts. It reminded me of the quote in Preach my Gospel at the end of chapter eight by Elder Oaks about really making your time count. Nice principle for me to remember.
We passed by a creepy virgin parade. It completely fulfills the prophecy in Isaiah that people will carry their idols over their shoulders. There was kind of a dark presence around that scene. I was so happy to be able to turn the corner. Makes me happy to live in a place where you don't see that kind of stuff, and to have the true gospel. Satan is so astute in his lies that he can bring people to do whatever. For that reason, it's so important to just stay in holy places.
Marcela, a convert from June, gave her testimony for the first time yesterday! She has some health problems and has a very innocent mental state. It was so inspiring to hear her testimony. They have such a power, especially when it's someone who you know, who you've seen progress, and gain their own testimony.
We had an awesome stake meeting yesterday! The church organization is so cool! I love it. I never realized just how big of a deal stake conference is. They spent the meeting with all the ward councils there having somewhat of a mass council. I'm kinda sad I won't be here to see the conference. Even so, the way that they got everyone moving to make plans to get every recent convert to the conference was so cool. Ward councils are powerful. God truly is the divine organizer of His true church. The programs He's made are so effective, and work on pure love. I love the church!
Anyway, I hope you all have a great week, and that you can all keep going with the family prayer and scripture study! I'm excited to participate!
Elder Willey

Santiago - October 6, 2014

Hey Fam!
So I'm very pressed on time right now. I'm sorry. I skimmed your letters. We're going to see how much I can write in fifteen minutes before my bus leaves for Salta for leadership council.
This week was incredible! I'll try to hit the best highlights.
I cried this week. Mario and Martina, the older couple waiting for Martina's divorce to go through so that they can get married, walked to the Saturday afternoon session of conference. We also got started on constructing their bathroom on Thursday. It was so cool to see the members get on that. We have a few recently reactivated members that just happen to work in construction. They had a lot of expertise in that little bathroom. They started re-doing the whole room - leveling out the floor, making a small bathing space, etc. Amazing. It was so cool to just kinda watch, since I felt a little useless. They're going to try to finish it this week.
Mario and Martina loved conference. Mario came out and said, "Wow, they focused a lot on the family." We were able to talk to Martina a little. She took home a different message, more about forgiveness, helping the poor, etc. She's very closed off to religion - she listens, but has made it clear that in order for her to join, it would take a lot of time. Her sister joined the JWs and died for lack of a blood transfusion, so her closed off-ness isn't so unjustified. She said that in the conference, she just felt her heart open up during Elder Holland's talk. She said that she just felt desires to get on her knees and repent. Then she picked up the Book of Mormon and told us, "And this book? I'm going to take it to work and read it in every moment that I can. I can't wait until my papers come through so I can get married to this man and baptized with him!" Wow. And we just asked how it went in conference. Miracles.
Another miracle. In all the bustle of conference, I kinda forgot to ask the sisters in the branch for food. The problem is that I felt bad asking them last minute and the people I would think to ask had recently covered us when lunches fell through... so I kinda was just thinking about trying to find time in the crazy conference weekend to cook. Then, on the way to the first session, a sister who lives next door said, "Elders, you want some pizza? It's fresh!" In between sessions, when we ran to go remind people to repent and get to the next session, another sister said, "Have you eaten lunch?" We replied that not really, and in less than 15 minutes she whipped up a type of parmesan chicken with tomato salad and noodles. Incredible. On Saturday night, a sister came up and said, "Do you have lunch tomorrow? I was thinking about making up some big sandwiches and thought you might like some." God knows our needs. It was amazing how he inspired three different people to help us.
I loved Elder Scott's talk. It was my most favorite, even though there were many that compete. I love the part where he said, "Doing these things may require that you reorganize your priorities. If that's the case, do it." The way he said, "Do it," was just so firm and great. I loved it. Other favorites included Klebingat, Cook, and Esplin.
Anyway, That's my time. Sorry! I hope you all have a great one!
Elder Willey