THIS WEEK WAS TOTALLY CRAZY!!!!!!!!
Okay, maybe not the MOST crazy week of my whole mission (there have been some pretty crazy ones, so maybe we´ll have to take a poll or something and see where this one ranks), but nonetheless it has been pretty exciting. And I have to say I feel like I have been officially inaugurated as a Chilean missionary! Wahoo!
This Wednesday and Thursday was the Conference for New Missionaries, and Hermanas Morán and Phelps, being new missionaries, got to go. They left early, early in the morning on Wednesday for Conce and because some of the sisters who work in the zones in Chillan live too far away to travel from their houses to Chillan in time to catch their 7:00 AM bus, we had an Hermana Sleepover in our house Tuesday night! Hooray! Hermana Tidwell, from Yungay, and Hermanas Taylor and Chavez from Coihueco came and stayed with us. Of course it wasn´t really a real sleepover because we just planned like normal and then went to bed like normal, only there were just more Hermanas in the house and three of them had to sleep on the floor. But it is always fun to get to see other Hermanas, no matter the circumstances. After our companions left in the morning and Hermana Chavez (who came on the plane with me and Hermana Frandsen) had gone to meet her member-companion for the next two days, Hermana Miskin and I were left together as companions for two days, except in those hours when we were both able to find members to go out with us. I liked working with Hermana Miskin a lot. She is a very hard worker and loves being a missionary. She has had some back problems as a result of a back surgery she got a year before her mission, and despite the fact that she is in almost constant pain she works like crazy and is such a good example to all the sisters in the mission. One thing I really loved about working with her is her perspecitve. We taught one lesson to this sweet old lady who listened to our message and everything but in the end would not accept the invitation to be baptized, nor to pray to see if it is something she should do, and so we left without having really accomplished anything. Other missionaries might have been discouraged or felt like they had wasted time, but Hermana Miskin said as we were leaving the lesson, "Sometimes we just have to thank Heavenly Father for giving us opportunities to teach and to improve our teaching." I really liked that. And on top of it all, even if this sweet old lady was not ready to receive our message in this moment, we did fulfill our purpose as missionaries, as we invited her to come closer to Christ. What a blessing to have that opportunity!
We worked the whole day Wednesday together, partly in our sector and partly in Hermana Miskin´s sector, and then Thursday we had members as our companions for about half the day and then our companions (finally) came home around 7 or 8 PM. I missed Hermana Morán a lot while she was gone, but I remember how much I loved the conference for new missionaries and how much I learned and I am so looking forward to reviewing what she learned with her and trying to apply those principles in order to improve individually and as a companionship and to learn how to better bless the lives of the people who live in our sector.
The really craziest thing that happened this week also happened when I was with Hermana Miskin. After sending our companions off to the bus station, we had another hour left before it was time to get up, so we went back to bed and then started our day as normal. We went to the cancha for exercises, where I run and she does this awesome super-fast powerwalk with weights on her wrists because her back cannot support her running. Anyway, always when we are in the cancha various people pass through on their way to work or other daily activities, one man always joins us in his morning run, and usually we are greeted by a variety of stray animals. I don´t think I have said much in my emails about dogs here in Chile, but there are about a thousand of them on every street corner. It appears that there are either no laws governing the pet population here, or that they are not very strictly enforced or something, because stray dogs are 1 peso per dozen. (Just for reference, 1,000 pesos = $2, so 1 peso per dozen dogs is like, a lot of dogs!) Anyway, we are always being greeted by stray dogs and so having them in the cancha while we are exercising is really no big deal. Anyway, this particular morning as I was running my laps a group of about five dogs came into the cancha, followed by the woman who wanders around with them. I do not know her well, but she walks with a large staff that has feathers or something tied around the top and I am not sure whether or not she has a place to live because I have only ever seen her in the cancha. As I ran past her and her dogs, she greeted me and I greeted her and the dogs went merrily on their way across the cancha. As I completed the lap and came around again, they were still working their way towards the exit on the other side of the field. As I came toward them one of the dogs suddenly tensed up, growled, and ran toward me and bit my upper thigh. I shouted "Aaah!" and the woman yelled, "¡Sale!" at the dog, which means, "Leave!" and he retreated and they left the cancha. I was a little startled a having been bitten by a dog, but I was pretty sure he hadn´t broken the skin, so I just kept on running. I finished my laps and as we were walking back to the house I told Hermana Miskin what had happened, and she said she saw something happen and heard me yell but as I didn´t stop running she assumed everything was okay.
When we got back to the house, I pulled up my garments and found that he had indeed broken the skin, but just a tiny bit. There was a big oval bruise with three or four small scratches in the skin and just a tiny bit of blood. Hermana Miskin got out the mission instruction booklet to look for the instructions on dog bites. It says that we are supposed to watch the dog for ten days and see if it acts normal or if it gets sick and or dies. We are not sure how we would bring that about, as it was dark and I was bitten by a random stray dog that I am not sure I would be able to recognize even if I was able to find it again. So we decided to go to the doctor´s office.
Nearby where we live in Chillán there is a consultorio that everyone always talks about because it is across the street from the Church, so we went there. Healthcare is socialized here in Chile, so there is a lot of waiting in line in a clinic like that. But luckily a woman from our ward works there and saw us in the lobby and after finding out what happened, I think she was able to expedite the process a bit for us. I got sent to see the medic, who gave me a prescription for an antibiotic and I think some kind of pain medicine, and who order the rabies and tetanus vaccination series. Wahoo! Next they sent us to the pharmacy for my prescriptions, then to the vaccination lab, and finally to "curación," where they cleaned and bandaged the bite. (There is another part of this story that I do not have time for now, but which I will add at a later date if you will all help me to remember our adventure in the office of the podologa....)
I had to go back on Friday for another curación and I´m going again today for another follow-up, and then my rabies series continues every 6 days or so for five appointments. Yipee.
But here is the best part (besides the fact that I got bit by a dog, which is just hilarious to me) - after we were all done at the clinic, we went to the front desk to ask them where we needed to go to pay and they just looked at us like we were crazy. ALL my medical care was TOTALLY FREE. How cool is that? I don´t even pay taxes here and they still let me partake of government-funded healthcare. Chile is so awesome.
And for anyone who was wondering, getting bit by the dog is really what I consider to be my official inauguartion as a Chilean missionary. I just think probably there are very few missionaries who get out of here without some kind of a strange animal encounter. I´m glad I´ve had mine. And don´t worry - this time we took pictures!
In other news, yesterday in Sunday School we talked about the Abrahamic Covenant, and all those blessings which are promised to the House of Israel. I totally love learning about this and talking about it, because I just feel Heavenly Father´s love so much when I think about the promises He has made with His children, and the fact that we can inherit ALL that He has. It made me remember more the significance and the importance of my work as a missionary.
Which leads us to your commitment for this week: Keep on reading that Book of Mormon! EVERY DAY! And in your Book of Mormon study, I want you to watch for those references to the House of Israel and the promised blessings for those who are faithful to their covenant lineage. Lehi and his descendents, being literal descendents of Joseph and covenant lineage through their baptismal covenants, are included in this great promise and it is talked about constantly in the Book of Mormon. Starting in 1 Nephi 2:20, it says, "And inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper, and shall be led to a land of promise; yea, even a land which I have prepared for you; yea, a land which is choice above all other lands." And this type of promise is repeated over and over. It´s a super fun activity to look them all up!
Anyway, I love you all and I am sorry that now it is time to go and I cannot share more of my crazy and awesome and special experiences with you. But thank you as always for your love and prayers and for your support.
I love you all so very much. Know that I know that this gospel is true!
Hermana "Dog-Bite" Burgess