Monday, July 29, 2013

Week 8

This week was great. We had another all time count of lessons. I´ll be honest, it´s not the easiest thing to be around someone 24 hours a day, but I´m learning to stop thinking about myself and start thinking more about the people I´m here to serve. It has been another cold one. It´s amazing how cold a city on the coast can get. I think the most important thing I learned this week, or experienced this week, and partly last week, is just how real the priesthood is and just how grateful I am that the Lord trusts me enough to give me that authority. We have been teaching the father of my third baptism (Angela Torres). His name is Liantur Torres. He has been really sick. The first time I saw him, I honestly thought he was going to pass away soon. He couldn´t even sit up in his bed without being in an incredible amount of pain. He would cough until his face turned purple and his daughter would have to give him some oxygen from the tank next to his bed. Well, Elder Smith and I gave him a blessing of health and the past two weeks he has been walking around like he was never sick, has been to church two weeks in a row, and is taking the lessons. He also has a baptismal date for the 17th of August. Another example is a woman from Santiago staying with a member family. The first time I met her, she couldn´t get out of bed. She has serious cardiac problems. She has been told that, if she gets sick, there is a possiblity of her passing away. We gave her a blessing of health. We visited her last night and she got up under her own strength and came and talked with us in the kitchen. She expressed her gratitude for what we do and how we helped her. She has great faith in God and has put all her trust in Him. She cried as she told us how grateful she is for everything Heavenly Father has done for her. I told her that we were sent here for her. I know that´s true. Every single missionary is here from specific people. God knows the needs of His children and has sent us here as an answer to their prayers, as an answer to their needs. I know I am here for Elizabeth. I´m here to bless her. I´m here to let her know that God does hear her and he does love her. I´m humbled to be a tool and His hands. There have been a few more temblors. Elder Smith and I were walking to lunch one day and the power chords just started shaking violently. That was a little worrisome haha. Other than that, everything else is going great! We had our first cambio since I´ve been here in Chile. I´m staying here in Coronel for at least 6 more weeks and so is everyone in our house. Thanks to all those who are writing me, once again. I love hearing from you. Your words mean a lot to me. Micaela Morgan Wright is still absolutely amazing and is an inspiration and example to me. I love her with all my heart. She is doing great things in the Austin area and is the greatest missionary I know. I know that she is blessing the lives of the people living there. ¡Espero que cada persona en mi vida y que esté leyendo mi blog tenga una buena semana!

Elder Reynolds

Monday, July 22, 2013

Week 7!

This week was great. It was definitely the coldest one, though. We have found a lot more people to teach, more than we have ever had. Elder Smith and I have been doing all that we can to be obedient to the commandments and rules that we have a missionaries and we have seen a ton of blessings from our efforts. I think my faith grows everyday. Everyday I´m more sure that what we are doing is true. As I realize that, it motivates me to work even harder. We have been teaching an 18-year-old named Matías. He is a really good guy and wants to do the right thing. His family members seem interested, too. That´s really important. I love teaching families. One of my biggest dreams in life is to have all my family accept the gospel and participate in all the blessings that are waiting there for them. My dad has already taken that step and I have faith that the work I do here will work miracles at home. This gospel is about families. It´s about blessing each and every member of the family and the family as a whole. It´s about living together forever. I have a strong testimony in the ability we have to have an eternal family. Giving that blessing to others is one of the greatest feelings I can imagine. Just to see people progress and experience all that I´ve experienced as a result of accepting the gospel reminds me why I´m here. We recently started teaching a woman named Maribel. She is the cousin of a member who just left for his mission in Peru this past week. She has five kids and is such a wonderful woman and mother. However, her husband has a drinking problem. She was telling us about it last night. She said that every night, he goes out and spends his money on alcohol, rather than spending time with his family. Many times, she told us, he comes home and yells at his family. Seeing her pain as she told us about all these things was really difficult. I know that we will do all that we can do to help her and her family build a better life. She deserves it and her children deserve it. No one should have to experience that. We saw a lot of miracles this week. For example, yesterday Elder Smith and I were walking home with about 10 minutes left in the day. We needed two more contacts to reach our weekly goal of 50. I told him that The Lord would put to people in our path on the way home. As we approached a corner, I had a strong feeling that they would be right around the corner. We turned the corner and there they were. It´s little things like that that really strengthen my faith. I know that we are never alone. We also taught a man named Cristian yesterday during church. He showed up to church to meet with us and tell us that he wanted to change his life (his history sounded exactly like mine) and that he wanted to be baptized. That was an experience that words can´t really convey. I´m just so blessed to be here as a tool in the Lord´s hands. Everyone should know that Micaela Morgan Wright is the most amazing, beautiful, intelligent, funny, and caring woman (besides my mother and grandmother, of course) on the planet and that I don´t deserve her, but for some reason she still sticks around. Also, I love my family very much and wouldn´t be here if it weren´t for them. Also, I was talking with Elder Smith this week and realized how blessed I am to know Dr. Bradbury, Dr. Sainsbury, and Cindy Lancaster. They have opened many doors for me and I´m truly grateful for all that they have done and do for me. Have a wonderful week, everyone!

Elder Reynolds

Monday, July 15, 2013

Week Six

It has been another really fast week. We taught a total of 14 lessons this week, which is the most we have ever done. It´s funny, I thought that, because I would be in South America, that people would be more receptive here. That´s definitely not the case. There are plenty of people here that don´t want to listen to what we have to say, and some are really clear about that. But, the people we are teaching are so great. They have already made a huge impact on my life in a short amount of time. We are teaching 3 families right now and all of them are making a lot of progress. One of the families has a son named Jesús. He is a beast. I´ve never seen a child that is so close to God. We taught him and his dad the other day and he said the closing prayer. It literally sounded like something out of Isaiah. The problem is that a lot of the men here work a ton, including on Sundays, so they can´t always make it to church. They sacrifice a lot for their families. I really do admire that and hope that I can show that same kind of sacrifice for my family one day. For some reason, a lot of the Chileans, at least in the rougher parts of town, think that we are either Germans or Russians and apparently, from what they say to us, they don´t like Germans or Russians very much. I got my first kiss on my mission this week. I gave 200 pesos to some really drunk guy and he kissed my hand. It was magical. It really has been a great week. I´m growing to love Coronel and Chile, as well as the people here. As I do, I find greater joy in this amazing work. Service to God and others really does bring the greatest happiness in this life. I was reading Alma 7 and Mosiah 3 recently and it made me think about how much God and Christ love us. I can´t comprehend the sacrifices that have been made for each of us and how the people in our lives show the same characteristics. We are who we are today because of what has been given for us and because of those people who have made those sacrifices. I know the only way that I´ll gain a greater understanding of the love Heavenly Father and Christ have for us is by becoming a Father. I look forward to that awesome responsibility. I know that the mission is preparing me for that. I´ve also learned to be a little less prideful this week. Sometimes, because I´m older than most of the missionaries, I feel like I don´t need to listen to what they have to say. That´s definitely not true and I´m learning that. We can learn something from everyone. I think a good exercise is to look at the people in your life and figure out what they are there to teach you. Everyone in our lives can teach us something. It´s up to us to find out what that is. I hope everyone is doing great. Thanks to those of you who have been writing to me. It means a lot. 

Elder Reynolds

Monday, July 8, 2013

Week Five!

Happy late 4th of July everyone! This week flew by. We have a new family that we are teaching. The parents´names are Arturo and Patricia. They are such a great family. Patricia is going through treatment for cancer, but she is still beyond animated. It´s great to find a family like that. There are so many broken families here, but every once in a while, you find one like this. They have been meeting with the missionaries for a long time, but they are just now starting to show some real interest. Arturo and his daughter showed up to church this weekend. He works nights on Saturdays, but he still made it. He made a sacrifice for The Lord and I know that he and his family will be blessed for it. It´s been another really cold week. I had to add a 4th blanket to my bed of blankets. I learned something really important this week. Nothing we do in this life should be solely for us. Everything we do should be for others. All the school work I´ve done, the work I´ve put into my life, this mission, all the sacrifices that have been made, all that shouldn´t be about me because it isn´t. It´s about my family, it´s about Christ, it´s about God, it´s about those around me, my brothers and sisters. I´m working to pay everyone back for all that has been given to me. I am who I am today because of other people, because of their sacrifices and love for me. I´m preparing for the family I will have in the future. I am so grateful for everything that I have been given. I´m so grateful for the people in my life. It it weren´t for you all, I wouldn´t be here right now. I wouldn´t be who I am. I hope everyone receives blessings for the work I am doing here because that´s where I want them to go. It seems like this is all so obvious, but sometimes it becomes about you, and it shouldn´t. Everyone at home gives me strength. I can feel your prayers. Thank you. The people here give me strength, too. They have taught me these things. Their gratitude for what little they have has changed my outlook on life. So many here are the definition of humility and gratitude. I´m proud to be American because of all the blessings that we have. Even the litte things, like heating, are massive blessings. You don´t realize how much you have until you go somewhere where there is so little, yet the people are so happy. I hope we all learn from the example of the Chilean people. Cling to what you have rather than envying what you don´t have. I´ve fallen into that trap many times and that is something I´m working to change. I want everyone to know that I love my family. I also want everyone to know that Micaela Morgan Wright is amazing and is a source of my strength. She makes me want to be a better person everyday. Her example drives me. I love her very much and I hope she knows that. Have a great week everyone.

Elder Reynolds

Monday, July 1, 2013

Week 4

This week has been a week of learning for me. We faced a lot of rejection and all the plans that we had fell through. In addition, it has been very cold and rainy. We did meet some new people, though. We met a man named Victor, who has been through a rough life. We have only met with him once so far, but I know that the gospel can really help him. That´s something I´ve experienced personally. No matter what you´ve been through and the struggles and disappointments you´ve had in your life, the atonement can lift you back up on your feet. We are still working with one lady, Patricia, who is trying to quit smoking. I´ve tried to help her with telling her about my experience of giving up things that I was addicted to and how the gospel helped me, but the experience is different for everyone. She is making progress though, which is great. There is a lot of poverty here, like I said last week, and where there is poverty, men, and alcohol, there are a lot of alcoholics. We talked to a lot of them this week. It´s really sad to see. You see these people who have experienced so much disappointment in their life and who have turned to alcohol. It has done some much damage to so many of their lives. It has caused some to lose their jobs and many to lose their families. Many times, they don´t want to listen to us, or, if they do, they don´t remember it the next day. It´s difficult to see people like that and knowing that, many times, you can´t do anything to help. If there is one theme of this week, it´s that you can´t ever give up. Christ didn´t give up. Joseph Smith didn´t give up. So many missionaries before haven´t given up and have changed so many lives for the better. When the work is hard, you have to turn to humble yourself and turn to The Lord. He will give you strength as He has given me strength. He never gives up on us. He is patient and loving. We should be the same. I experience my first temblor this week, or mini earthquake. My companion and I were studying when the ground just began to shake for about 5 seconds. It was a weird feeling. I´ve been thinking about you all this week. I miss you all. So many of you have had such a major impact on my life and have done so much for me. I´m grateful for everything you all have done for me. I look forward to seeing you all again after this adventure. I´ll be twice the man I was before and I know you all will continue to do great things wherever you are. So, the mission president was having all the zone leaders go to San Pedro today for a conference. I´m not a zone leader, but they were going to grill. Apparently, because I´m from Texas, they thought of me and called me up and had me come grill for about 30 missionaries. Obviously it was the best steak they´ve ever had. I think Micaela and my family can back me up on that. Speaking of Micaela, I love you. You mean so much to me. I know that our sacrifices will bless us and our families beyond what we had hoped. It has been great hearing from here and hearing how much she is growing. She truly is amazing and I couldn´t be more blessed to be a part of her life. I hope that everyone has a great week! Keep me in your prayers, you´re in mine.

Elder Reynolds