Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Another P-Day, Another Cambio

So no cambio for us this transfer - Hermana Fajardo and I have another six weeks to wait for our trainees.  We are hoping to get a lot done here in San Javier before our "hijas" come.  (I don´t particularly like referring to trainer/trainee as mother/daughter, but everyone does it here and I can´t seem to come up with another way of saying it that the other missionaries here will understand.)

But things are already starting to get crazy here!  They opened 5 new sectors for sisters this transfer, and two new zones.  Then we got an email from President Humphrey telling us that as 58 new missions have been announced in the world, including Chile Santiago South.  (See: http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/missions-created-accommodate-influx-new-missionaries)  They also announced our new mission president, President Kent J. Arrington and his wife Michele, who will be coming in July.  They are from Utah (woot woot!) and he has worked for the Church for over 30 years as Area Director of 20% of the temples in the world.  President Humphrey said he is sure that President Arrington is coming in part to help accelerate the process of the construction of the temple in Concepción, which has been on hold for several years for a variety of reasons.  (The most recent of which, we heard from some members in Cordillera, is that they started to clear out the land at the temple site and found an "antiguo" cemetery.  So it got turned into an archeaological site instead of a temple construction site for the time being.  I don´t know how much truth there is to this, but if it´s just gossip it´s pretty interesting gossip at least!)

Anyway, in order to accommodate for the new mission in Santiago, our mission boundaries are being changed, effective in July when our new mission president comes.  I am going to try to attach a map of our mission so you can picture the changes.  So right now, our mission boundaries go as far north as Teno, but in July we lose the two northernmost stakes (Curico and Talca, where I am now) to the Chile Rancagua mission and gain two stakes in Talcahuano (which I am assuming now pertain to the Concepción Sur mission).  After this change, the farthest north our mission will go will be Linares!  When Hermana Frandsen heard this, she told me, "You better hurry up and get transferred, or we´re not going to be in the same mission, po!"  ("Po" is a Chilean word.  I cannot explain what it means.  I don´t know that it really means anything.  But I know how to use it, and this is the imporant thing!)  Hahahaha.  But it´s true.  I can be certain I won´t be in San Javier any longer than through the end of June.
It´s just really interesting to be here in such a crazy time!
Our week this week was a little less crazy, but yet another one where I just kept telling myself, "someday I will know what it is like to have a normal day as a missionary."  But seeing as I have not seen a normal day yet, maybe I´d be better off to stop expecting it!  For example, this week we called some members to see if they would be able to accompany us to a lesson.  They said they would be happy to, and we made plans to meet up with them before the appointment.  When they arrived, we got in their car to go to the appointment and they drove us clear to the opposite side of town, out in the middle of nowhere where some members live that they wanted us to visit.  I am not sure if they were confused about our request, or if they just decided that what they wanted us to do was more important, because I don´t understand enough of what they say to me.  But these things certainly make for an interesting experience!

We also had a ward activity this week, a "Noche de Postres," and I made no-bake cookies and helped Hermana Fajardo make a cheesecake in the microwave.  (There is a sister here, Hermana England, who knows how to make pretty much everything in the microwave.  It´s really pretty incredible.  We´re always calling her for recipes.)  They were both a big hit!
We have begun to figure out our way around here.  Well, Hermana Fajardo has at least.  I just follow her around for the most part!  It´s really difficult for me when everyone gives directions like "arriba" and "abajo" which to me are really subjective.  I mean, which direction is "up" and which is "down"?  Hermana Fajardo is pretty good about remembering to tell me "derecha" and "izquierda" instead because "right" ande "left" is something I can understand.  Something else good is that we almost never ride our bikes "contra" traffic anymore (it took us a week or so to figure out we were even doing something wrong because so many people even drive their cars the wrong way around here).

Hermana Fajardo loves pan con queso (bread and cheese) and therefore I have become accustomed to eating it on a regular basis.  I´d better stop though or I´ll get a Chilean bread-belly!
I´ve been reading the war chapters in Alma lately, and I am totally loving it!  Captain Moroni is really something else!  I especially loved Alma 48:17, which says, "Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men."  Wow!  How awesome is that?  I want to become somebody like that!
So your challenge this week is to become a little bit more like Captain Moroni.  If you need suggestions, read about him in Alma 43-60.  Otherwise, just think to yourself, "what would Captain Moroni do?"  Because wouldn´t the world be an awesome place if we were all a little more like him?

I love you all and I´m very grateful for your love and support.  I wish you all a "feliz semana" as my companion would say!



Monday, February 18, 2013

The Cambio That Got Away

Hello My Beloved Ones!

I am really starting to wonder if there will ever be a week when I just do normal missionary stuff all week long.  It really doesn´t seem like it!

But before I tell you about my week, here´s an update on the "hastening of the work" here in our mission:  In order to accomodate the shortening of the training schedules at the MTC, this cambio is only three weeks long.  That makes this week that last week of the cambio!  And really crazy stuff is happening after that, since we have 10 new sisters coming next Tuesday (and none leaving) and then 16 coming the transfer after that.  When I was in Conce all those days with Hermana Lish, I was able to see the board that shows the numbers of comings and goings of missionaries in the next few transfers and I did all the math.  It´s really intense.  At the beginning of this transfer, we had 26 sisters, with 9 of them in training.  Then we get 10 more and don´t lose any.  Then we get 16 more and only lose 2.  So on April 9, we are going to have 52 sisters, with 35 of them still in training!  I don´t know how they are going to do that, as some sisters who have not completed their training yet are going to be expected to train!  Aaaah!  They are also going to be opening 13 new sister sectors in the following two transfers.  That will double the number of sister sectors there are now!  Hermana Fajardo and I are gearing up for the change and know that we do not have much time left together as companions - 6 more weeks at the very most before we both are going to be expected to train.  Yikes!

Anyway, back to our week.  Here in San Javier we don´t have a member that does our laundry like we did in Chillan, instead we have a lavadora (washing machine) in our house (or rather, on our back porch - nobody puts their washing machines inside here).  So last P-day we were all excited to wash our own clothes and we bought our laundry soap and started a load and then left the house to do something else.  When we came back, the clothes were soaking wet, but there was still soap sitting on top of them.  Clearly something had gone wrong.  So we fiddled with the settings and ran it again.  Still didn´t work.  The third time we tried to run the lavadora, we finally realized that there is a tube that comes out of the back which drains the water after the wash and rinse cycles.  If the lavadora was installed the same way they are at home, this tube would be connected to a pipe in the wall that all the water would run into.  Here we have a drain in the pavement next to the washing machine.  Well, turns out that if this tube isn´t pointing up while the washing machine fills, all the water just drains right back out again.  Sheesh!  So after we finally figured that out, we propped the tube in an upright-ish position and let the machine run while we did things in the house.  Well we were equivocadas (wrong) once again, however, because when it was time to drain the water, the tube was not pointing well enough at the drain.  Instead it was pointing right at our kitchen door, and by the time we realized, we had water all over our kitchen and living.  It was a really great adventure and now we have the tube properly situated so as not to drain in inappropriate moments, nor to flood our house.

Then we had a conference for all the missionaries who had arrived in the mission anytime in the last three transfers.  It was in Conce and we had to leave Tuesday afternoon and be there all day Wednesday and Thursday.  Hermana Fajardo and I, having the exact same mission anniversary (though she has one more transfer in the field than I), both attended this conference.  We were the only complete companionship there, however, and everyone kept commenting on how strange it was to have such a young companionship.  Anyway, it was a really great conference and because some of the missionaries there were less than a week old in the field, they separated us into two groups and taught everything in our native tongues.  So I spent two days speaking English with Hermana Frandsen this week.  It was interesting though, because there were a few times when we could not find English words to describe what we were trying to say!  Wednesday night after the conference we did splits with the sisters who work in Lirquen, about a 30 minute bus ride from Conce.  It is beautiful there - many hills and close to the ocean.  It reminded me of San Francisco a little, but I knew I would never be able to ride my bici there!

So after almost three days without working normally, we had only three days left in our week and SO MUCH work to do!  It was crazy trying to do a whole week´s work in only three days, and truly we weren´t able to do it.  But we worked hard and even had a miracle in church when one of our investigators, who we thought wasn´t going to be able to come, arrived in sacrament meeting!

Your commitment this week:  How are you doing with family history?  I never had much interest in it before my mission, but I have really been bitten by the Spirit of Elijah since I left for the MTC.  This week I want to encourage you to either work on family history, perform a temple ordinance for a family member, or read or re-read one of the stories of your ancestors.  I didn´t know this until I had to collect family history stories to bring with me on my mission, but I have an ancestor who was in Liberty Jail with Joseph Smith, and who was the first Presiding Bishop of the Church.  I thought that was pretty cool!  And for a zone activity today we watched 17 Miracles and I realized that I really don´t know anything about how my family got to Utah.  I am really excited to get a better start on my family history when I get back home, but you can do it now!  Hooray!

Anyway, I am out of time to write now.  P-days (and especially email time) slip ever so quickly away!  But I love you all and hope that you are happy and well.

Lovelovelove you all,


Monday, February 11, 2013

San Javier

Hello All!

I don´t even really know where to begin!  This week has been another crazy one, but great! 

I was really sad to leave Cordillera at first.  The ward members are so wonderful there and we had some really special investigators who were just starting to really progress.  Monday evening Hermana González and I each found members to accompany us and I went to visit our most special investigators and give them a heads-up that there would no longer be Hermanas in our sector.  There is one family that it was especially hard to leave.  They have only shared with us for a couple weeks and half of them have come to church once, but they are so special.  When we shared the First Vision with the the first time, they were all very touched and though they are battling emotionally and socially against years of Catholic tradition in their family and community, and physically against serious cigarette and coffee addictions, I know that they have been touched by the Spirit and that they know that the Church is true.  It was heartbreaking to have to leave before they got baptized, but I told them that the although Elders may not be as pretty as us, they would take good care of them and teach them the same gospel.  For our last visit I reviewed the Restoration and recounted the First Vision again and everyone in the room was crying because the Spirit was so strong.  I can´t wait to hear about their baptisms!

Tuesday morning the Familia Ardiles, who have been our "go-to" family for almost everything in the ward, along with our ward mission leader, Diego González, and Fran Benevidas, a jovencita who often accompanied us to "citas" (appointments), came by to take us (and our mountain of luggage) to the bus station.  It was such a wonderful blessing to not have to take all our stuff in locomotion, and I hadn´t had the chance to say goodbye to these most special ward members.  I have been so grateful to them for all their love and support, and I hope to get a chance to talk to them again someday when my Spanish is good.  :)

So now I am in San Javier with my new companion, Hermana Fajardo.  She is from Guatemala, when people ask her age she says, "veinti-siempre" (I think she, like me, is in her mid-to-late twenties), and she´s so sweet.  She is very sincere and considerate and she has a positivity that just doesn´t quit.  It´s actually remarkable to watch her work, because she sets high goals and just keeps working no matter what.  It´s like it doesn´s even occur to her that missionary work might be hard.  It´s the kind of perspective I have always needed to develop in my life, but never really have known how.  She doesn´t have a negative word to say about anyone ever and makes the best of every situation.  She understands some English and often asks me "how do you say?" because she is interested to learn more.  Being companions with her makes me realize a little more what my potential could be, not because she pushes me or challenges me in an obvious way, but just because she can´t see herself as being anything different, and I am just kind of along for the ride!

A couple of things have really surprised me about San Javier.  First of all, the size.  Generally, in our mission, your area covers only one ward, and though that is definitely more area than a ward in Utah, it´s still manageable and you rarely have to use locomotion to get anywhere.  So when they told me I was going to San Javier and that it was part of the zone (or stake) Talca, I assumed that meant that San Javier was a ward/sector in the city Talca.  This is not the case.  San Javier is its own city, and it´s a HUGE area to cover as far as missionary work.  But there are four missionaries in our sector - two Hermanas and two Elders.  It´s an open sector, which means that we don´t have assigned areas of the city in which we work.  Everything is free game except for the other missionaries active investigators.  It´s different to work more closely with Elders and to see them more often, as in Cordillera we were the only missionaries in our area, and the next closest were the sisters who lived with us and attended the same church building.  But here we talk to and or see the Elders every day, and they attend our same branch.  We "share" recent converts and less-active families and plan activities together for the branch.

One thing I was REALLY not expecting this transfer was our mode of transportation.  Because San Javier is so huge, we can´t walk everywhere.  Instead, andamos en bici!  (That means that we ride bikes!)  I was horrified at first when they told me this, as I am not accustomed to riding a bike, I did not purchase skirts for riding a bike on my mission, and I didn´t even know that any Hermanas in our mission even HAD bikes!  But there really isn´t a better way here in San Javier.  And though it is squeaky and the shocks are a little worn out and my poor little backside is a little brusied, I quickly came to love my bici and to be really grateful not to have to walk the miles of distance between poblaciones (neighborhoods).  We have had a couple of scuffles and I have a couple battle scars, but I have not yet fallen off.  Hermana Fajardo did, though, and her battle scar is more impressive than mine, but we´ve still got time for me to get a more impressive injury yet!  And whenever we are sore or tired of riding bikes, or one of us has some kind of a battle with our bici, Hermana Fajardo, in her typical positive way, always says, "Bicis we wanted, and bicis we´ve got..." because she and her companion in Conce always wished they had bikes!

Something else about this sector is that we are "whitewashing" it.  For some reason, President didn´t keep either of the Hermanas who were working here previously in the sector to train someone else on it as he would usually do.  Instead, he sent the two of them together to a different sector and brought me from Chillan and Hermana Fajardo from Concepción and so we are starting from scratch!  The first couple days the Elders (one of whom, Elder Lopez, has been here for a while and knows the sector well) would meet up with us and guide us different places, but for the most part we have been on our own to find our way around and just go to work!  The sisters before us didn´t really leave behind any investigators for us to work with, so it really is kind of like we are just opening the sector as if no one had been here before.  But we have been well received for the most part; people here seem to be more receptive than they were in Chillan.  And Hermana Fajardo is a contacting MACHINE!  The mission standard for contacts is 140 (a goal which I had never before reached), and this week we made 200 contacts.  I don´t even know how it happened, I just know at the end of the day I would look at my planner and see 35 or 40 tally marks.  I don´t think our district leader believed it at first when we gave him the weekly numbers last night.  But it´s true!  And this morning our zone leaders called to congratulate us on a good week and said we had set an example for the zone!  I honestly don´t feel different as a person or as a missionary than I did last week, but this place is definitely special.  I am excited to go out there and "whitewash" and baptize this whole darn city!

Tomorrow will be my five-month anniversary in the mission (and Hermana Fajardo´s - we entered the MTC the same day, but she has a transfer more than me in the field since she only spent 3 weeks in the MTC in Santiago), and with everyone´s missions getting cut short by three weeks, that also means that I have less than a year left to go.  The other day someone asked me if I liked Chile, and I found myself saying that I wasn´t ever going to leave.  I´m not sure yet if I really feel that way, or if I was just saying it, but it wasn´t something I would have imagined myself saying.  Though I do love Chile, I have spent much of my mission counting down how much time there is left to go, instead of just enjoying the time that I do have.  I expect someday a switch will flip and I will start begging for there to be more time instead of less, but for now a year still seems like kind of a long time!  But for now, I can say that I do love San Javier, and I am excited to see the work of the Lord move forward in this little part of the world - and to do what I can to help it along!

This week your commitment is to "start fresh" in something.  Set one small goal to be better and do it!  Even if you think it might be hard, or you think you might not be capable, remember that I and the Lord know that you can do it!  To think that you aren´t capable is crippling - I know because I have spent the better part of my mission feeling incapable and it showed in my work.  Don´t waste time wondering if you can do something, or thinking about how bad you´re going to feel if you fail.  Instead focus your energy on DOING IT!  Because that is when you will be able to succeed!

I love you all and thank you for your unending love and support!

Lovelovelove from a different lugar,


Monday, February 4, 2013

Something's Comin....


So if you thought last week was insane, it really doesn´t hold a candle to this week!  It would have been strange enough if it had only been that it was my last week with Hermana Bowns before she went home, but there was just so much more to it!  All week I was thinking of the song, "Something´s Coming" from West Side Story, because there was a palpable feeling of change in the air the whole week.  Though I think the lyrics to that song say, "something´s coming, something good" and I felt more like whatever was coming was just likely to make me feel sick to my stomach....

Monday, as you know, Hermana Lish and I were still in Conce.  We got back late that evening and didn´t have the opportunity to work at all that day, especially since when she went to the doctor to have her "curación," the hospital worker who did it was pretty rough.  She was using these long tweezer things to dab at the hole in her leg with medicine-coated cotton balls or something, and kept commenting on how deep (profundo) the hole was.  At one point, she stuck the tweezers right down in the hole to measure and said to Hermana Lish, "Look!  Look how far down they go!" like it was something really awesome.  I thought of my mom and knew that she would have loved being there.  I couldn´t watch.  It was awful and Hermana Lish was hurting more than usual.  We came home to a sanitized house, though!  Since staff infection can be communicable, President Humphrey´s wife called our companions and said that EVERYTHING had to be cleaned and sanitized, and laundry had to be washed in hot water and everything.  They did a really good job.  Hermana Bowns told me that she learned how to was blankets by hand from our "vecina" Hermana Myriam, who we rent our house from and live behind.  She said that she washes blankets and other large items in the tub and gets in there and walks on them!  Hermana Bowns said she was doing that with our linens one night while she reported numbers or something to our district leader over the phone.  I couldn´t help but think of I Love Lucy, when she tries to crush grapes.

Tuesday was back to work as usual.  We had our last district class of the cambio (and Hermana Bowns´s last one ever!) and took many pictures since we knew the zone was going to change significantly because three missionaries from our zone were going home, including a zone leader and a district leader.

Wednesday afternoon Hermana Lish had to go back to the hospital in Conce for "curación" and stay until after her doctor´s appointment Thursday evening.  This time there was another Hermana, Hermana Miskin, who works in the other zone in Chillan (and lives with Hermana Frandsen) who had to go to the hospital as well, so I stayed in Chillan to work in a trio with Hermana Bowns and Hermana González.  It was not a very productive day, as we were trying to work in two sectors which aren´t exactly close to one another, but we were able to procure members to do splits with us for some of the day, which was good.  And we had our clase de inglés, which I love because I lead the clase de conversación with the advanced students.  I get to converse with them in my native tongue and help them correct their grammar and pronunciation.  It´s really awesome.  Our class is really growing and it´s almost completely investigators!  The past few weeks we have had at least a dozen people in class, with only one or two of them members!  For a while we only had one or two students each week, so a dozen for us is really a lot!  We have this one investigator who had never even come to English class, but she just thinks it´s such a great idea and such a great service that we offer that she took it upon herself to advertise it all over the free classifieds on the internet and on Facebook and everything, it´s so great!

Thursday Hermana Lish was still gone and we weren´t able to find members, so we spent half the day in our sector, Cordillera, and half in Hermana González´s sector, Agronomía.  We knew Hermana Lish had to be coming home sometime that day, but nobody in the office seemed to know when they would be coming back and neither Hermana Lish nor Hermana Miskin had a phone since they had left them behind with their companions to work in their sectors.  So we kept calling the office and asking them to advise us when to expect her so we could pick her up at the bus station, but nobody ever did.  Then we got a call from Hermana Brennan from the other zone, telling us that Hermanas Lish and Miskin were arriving that very moment in the bus station, and we were 20 minutes away at least!  But we procured a collectivo (A collectivo is kind of a strange mix between a bus and a taxi.  There is a fixed rate and it only drives to certain places, though it doesn´t have necessarily a fixed "route."  Also, you sometimes have the collectivo to yourselves, and sometimes there are other random people riding with you.  Remind me to tell you more about public transportation here, it is different than at home - but mostly in a good way.) and raced to the bus station, where Hermana Lish told us that she had spoked with President and that she would be on the plane to the United States with Hermana Bowns and Hermana Brennan on Monday.  Because they are afraid she is likely to get the infection again if she stays here with so many bugs, she has been assigned to finish her mission in Provo!  She was not surprised to hear that her mission had been changed, and was ready to accept it because she had had a moment of confirmation while she was in the hospital that whatever happened was the Lord´s will and it was going to be okay.  And it turns out that she was an answer to a prayer for her new mission president in Provo.  He had too many people to teach and not enough Spanish-speaking missionaries, and was planning to close a sector when they called and told him the she would be coming.  Now he gets to keep that sector open and he and Hermana Lish are both excited.  The Lord really workd in mysterious ways, because if someone like Hermana Lish, who is from southern Idaho, had gotten their mission call in the first place to Provo, they probably would have thought it was really lame and been discouraged.  But that is where the Lord needs Hermana Lish to be, so He did what He had to do to get her there.  We are really going to miss her, but we´re excited to compare and contrast missions in the US with those in South America.  For example, we already know that her new area in Provo covers 8 stakes, whereas here she was working only in one ward (about the size geographically of a stake in Utah)! I know she´s just going to take Provo by storm!

Friday morning Hermana Bowns and I had to go the the International Police Department to register my visa.  Why didn´t we do that on a P-day, you ask?  Well, to explain that I have to go back a few steps, like to P-day two weeks ago, before conference and before I went to the hospital with Hermana Lish.  We knew that I needed to get my passport with my visa back from the office and go to the DPI (Departamento Policia Internacional) to register my visa and go to the Registro Civil to "pedir" (ask for) my carnet (Chilean ID card) within 30 days of when my visa went through and we really wanted to get it done before my companion changed, just in case my new companion was latina and I wasn´t able to communicate as effectively with her, but we hadn´t heard back from the mission office yet as to whether my visa had been processed or not.  Usually when they are finished they send them to you at district class of they distribute them at conference or something, and I knew several of the other missionaries who arrived the same time as me had already gotten their carnets, but I hadn´t heard anything from anyone, nor had I received my passport.  So we called the office and asked Hermana Kimball, the mission secretary serving a senior couple mission with her husband, if she had my visa ready.  She said that it had been ready for a while and that she was pretty sure she had given it to me at Christmas conference.  We told her no, that we definitely did not have it, and then we proceeded to spend half of our evening on the phone with practically every zone leader in the mission trying to locate my passport.  Nobody had it, nor had they seen it and Hermana Kimball wasn´t sleeping at night.  They decided that if they couldn´t locate it by Wednesday at conference, they would arrange for Hermana Bowns and I to go to Santiago to work on getting a replacement passport!  Well, conference came and still nobody had seen my passport anywhere, so Hermana Kimball got all the paperwork  and the money ready for us to go to Santiago.  Well, literally minutes after she had given me all the necessary paperwork and all that, she goes over to start getting things ready for the return trip to Conce, and inside one of the Rubbermaid bins that they use for transporting plates and cups and tablecloths and who knows what-all, she saw a plastic grocery bag.  She took it out, wondering what could possible be inside, and there was my passport and all my visa papers!  It was a tender mercy, because I could not have gone to Santiago last week.  I had to be in the hospital with Hermana Lish.  But, the bad thing was, once we finally found my passport, my 30-day time limit for registering my visa had already expired.  I asked Hermana Kimball if it would be a problem, and she said she was pretty sure they were good to give us a little but if leeway, but to do it as soon as possible.  But then after I got back from the hospital P-day was over and things were really crazy, and we didn´t go to the DPI.  Then Thursday we remembered that we needed to do it and called Hermana Kimball and she said not to wait until P-Day, but to go Friday morning instead.  So we went.  And they were not really good to give us a little leeway.  They were pretty upset.  The woman we first talked to was very brusque and kept asking questions to which we really couldn´t give her satisfactory answers, like "Why didn´t you process your own visa?"  "Why was your passport ever "en camino"?  Why didn´t you just go to Conce and get it yourself?"  "Why didn´t you come here immediately after you received your passport?"  And she kept saying "Chiquillas, we have a problem."  And then she told us to come back when her boss was there.  We were scared about that, but he turned out to be a lot nicer than she was, and he at least seemed to understand a little why we don´t process our own visas and how this could have happened and not really been my fault.  But I am still in serious trouble, as I have lived the past couple of weeks in Chile illegally!  So he took down a report of what happened and tried to make me sound as blameless as possible.  That report will be presented to a judge, who will decide if I have to pay a "multa" for my passport violation, or if I will just be given a warning.  In the meantime, I have to go to the DPI every Friday morning to "firmar" (sign) and prove that I haven´t tried to leave the region.  I have to do this until my visa problem is straightened out, which could take up to three months!  If I need to travel outside of the region (like to Talca for a conference, for example), I have to call him and ask permission to do so.  And they are keeping my passport so I really can´t try to run away.  It´s totally crazy!  I was pretty upset and wanted to cry, but after we left Hermana Bowns was able to explain to me that although the gentleman at the PDI did try to make it clear to us that this was a serious infraction, he was very polite and respectful and did as much as he could to make this situation as easy as possible.

Friday night we had a ward activity that was all about the Book of Mormon.  We had our ward mission leaders present scriptures from the Book of Mormon and the Bible and show how the Bible testifies of the Book of Mormon and how they both testify of the Savior.  We also watched some videos, including this Mormon Message:  

It was really cool though, because we had several investigators there, and after we were done with the presentation, we had a bunch of Book of Mormons and reading calendars to pass out if anyone there didn´t have one or if they wanted to give one to a friend.  We had several members take Books of Mormon for their friends, and even had an investigator who already has a Book of Mormon take one to give to someone else!  I was pleased with the turn-out and it was a great activity.

Saturday there was a "surprise" despedida (goodbye party) for Hermana Bowns.  She knew that something was going to be happening, because our ward mission leader was just too insistent on the exact time he wanted to meet with us that night (I am not available at 8, nor at 9.  I am only available at 8:30).  She was really stressed about it because she didn´t want everyone to make a big deal of her leaving, but it was really special and the members made it really nice.  It was really a testament of how special she is and how much these people love her.  They invited as many of our investigators as they could get a hold of and many of them came!  The most awesome part about it is that they did like some Chilean cultural stuff, and I got to wear an extra "18" (dieciocho) dress.  The 18th of September is like Chilean independence day and it´s a HUGE deal and there are traditional dances and foods and everything and it is a law that everyone has to fly the Chilean flag outside of their house that day.  I am told it is awesome.  And now I have worn a dress so I can tell you that if nothing else, the dresses really rock!  They also had like the Chilean flag and the American flag put up together and they performed the Chilean national anthem and had made a little video presentation filled with pictures that they had procured from Hermana Bown´s companions who have now gone home.  And since Hermana Lish was leaving too they did as much as they could to include her in the celebrations.  It was really nice and I felt so grateful for the love and the support of the members.  It is clear that they recognize the importance of the missionaries in their wards here.

Sunday was really rough.  Sundays are always hard if for no other reason than that we have to get up an hour and a half early, but also it was Hermana Bowns and Hermana Lish´s last day in the mission.  I did okay for most of the day, but when it came time to take them to the bus station I kind of started to come apart.  I just didn´t feel prepared for my trainer to leave and to have to be in charge of training someone else in my sector and everything like that.  It was so hard to say goodbye and put her on the bus.  She has been such a great trainer and I have learned a lot from her.  Her Spanish is really good for a gringa, too.  I will especially miss how she stops in the street to pick up garbage that she thinks might be useful!

And now here we are on today.  Cambios.  Obviously I knew that I would be getting a new companion, but with so many new missionaries coming I couldn´t be sure about what was happening.  Except that I would stay here in Cordillera to train someone on my sector, I was pretty sure about that.  Well, they called this morning to tell us our transfers, and boy were we ever wrong!  They are closing our sectors completely for Hermanas, and bringing Elders in in our place!  And they told me I am going to San Javier.  "Where´s that?" I said.  "In Talca," said Elder Silva.  "Elder Silva," I said, "I am not allowed to go to Talca!  The policeman said that I couldn´t!"  So that was a complication, and everyone has been going crazy because our sectors are not ready to be closed and neither Hermana González (who arrived in the country only one transfer before me and has only worked in one area so far as well) nor I are equipped to do it on our own!  But that´s how it´s going to be!  Hermana Bowns was in the office and in President´s house today and she kept calling me to find out what was going on.  She couldn´t believe it either at first when they told her we were leaving, and she feels really bad that we didn´t prepare our sector better beforehand.  At one point she called me and was standing there talking with Hermana Humphrey, and they were telling me what to do about the International Police.  They said I needed to go tell them that I had to move and see if I could sign in somewhere else.  I asked what would happen if they said no, and Hermana Humphrey in the background was like, "Tell her NOT to ask for permission!"  But it turned out to be okay.  I advised the DPI that I am moving and they are okay with it as long as I sign in in Talca every Friday still.  I cannot pay my "multa" in Talca though, and they won´t move my passport there, so when my restriction has been lifted I will have to go back to Chillan to process all of that.  It was a relief and relatively easy to do - I didn´t even have to have Hermana González translate for me in the police station!  I talked to the man all by myself!

Anyway, so today I have to pack up all my stuff and try to get the ward and the area book and everything ready for elders to come here!  In San Javier I am going to be companions with Hermana Fajardo, who is from Guatemala and who we stayed a couple nights with in Chillancito while Hermana Lish and I were in Conce.  I am not sure I am ready to have a Latin companion, especially since the Guatemalan accent is much different from the Chilean accents I am used to.  I am told that San Javier has a tiny ward where the missionaries often have to fill in teaching Young Women´s and things like that, that´s it´s in the middle of the desert, and that every Hermana who has worked there never stops talking about it because they loved it so much.  But I sure am going to miss my ward and my investigators here - they have been so kind and helpful and loving to me always.

Anyway, I have no more time to write.  I have lots of pictures to send but no time to do so today.  Hopefully next week!  Love and miss you all.

Your commitment this week is to PRAY BETTER.  I am putting this as your commitment because it is something I really need to work on, so let´s all do it together!  If for you that means pray at all, great!  If it means pray more than once a day, great!  If it means working on making your prayers less repetitive and more meaningful, great!  But set a goal and do something this week to strengthen your relationship with your Heavenly Father through prayer.

Lovelovelove you all,

Hermana B