This week has been crazy. To start off the week we had nothing. We basically walked all day everyday. It was a little disappointing. We also didn´t have any investigators come to church. But, we kept working. As the week went on, we had more lessons and the Lord lifted us up, like he always does. We are in a period right now where we are having to let a few investigators go, which is never fun. I´ve gotten really attached to a few people and families and it´s really disappointing to see that they aren´t willing to continue progressing and doing the things that we ask them. However, we have a few investigators that are making a ton of progress. One investigator, Victoria Mendez, told us yesterday that she had told her dad that she plans on being baptized! Her mom is meeting with us too and has great desires. They´re a really great family. Another investigator, Raquel Ortiz, is also making a lot of progress. We had a lesson yesterday and she basically taught us. We left her with a pamphlet on the Plan of Salvation and she had studied it to the point that we hardly had to teach her anyting new. She has two little boys, Vicente (3 years) and León (1 year). I may have already written about them. She has all the desires in the world to continue learning about the gospel and to exercise her faith. There were three temblores yesterday. It was really weird. One was actually a 5.9. I´ve experienced them before, but never that strong or that many in one day. After the first two, we knocked on someone´s door that Elder Hill felt we should visit. She opened the door and told us to come in. She seemed to have been waiting for us. Her name is Maria and she has a daughter named Josefa, who is 6. Maria recently had a stroke and has no power in her right arm. Her mother also was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Basically, she is having a really difficult time right now. I felt like it wasn´t a coincidence that we had knocked on her door because Elder Hill had felt drawn to it and she agreed. She knew that the Lord was answering her prayers. It´s amazing to see the Lord at work, to see how He uses other to bless His children. I know that He loves each and every one of us. All He asks is that we exercise our faith so that we can bless us beyond our imagination. I exercised my faith and was baptized and I found Micaela Morgan Wright, for example. I know that as we do what we can to show our love for Him and for His children, we can receive His many blessings that He wants to bless us with.
This week has been interesting. The 18th was the Chilean Independence Day, so it was hard to get a lot of work done because hardly anyone can be found outside or willing to receive us all week long. Their Independence DAY is one day, but the celebration is a week long deal. We had a party at the chapel that was a lot of fun. We did a bunch of crazy, traditional Chilean games and watched some of the members dance La Cueca, which is the national dance. They apparently teach it in schools. It´s a big deal here. I had a really interesting experience yesterday. One of our investigators is a veteranarian and invited us to help her with something. We drove to a little farm about 10 minutes outside of Coronel, where there was a cow waiting for us. We helped her load some siringes, so that she could inject the cow with some kind of drug. While she was doing that, her truck rolled down a hill and crashed into a fence because of the strong winds, so in addition to injecting a cow with drugs, we helped her pull her truck out of a fence. It was one of the most interesting experiences I´ve had here, right behind a group of teenagers that got onto a bus with us and had a rap battle for about ten minutes before leaving the bus. Victoria, the veteranarian, is making a ton of progress! She went to church the last two weekends in a row and we have been having really powerful lessons with her. She didn´t come to church yesterday, but called us to apologize for not coming haha. She had apparently stayed up until 7am working on a school project. She has a wonderful family. We also found a new family to teach! It´s a couple named Guillermo and Carolina and they have 3 daughters in high school. We´ve only had one lesson with them, but they are a great family and I really look forward to watching them grow. Elder Hill is doing well. He still really struggles with Spanish, but he is improving. It´s really fun to train. I´m doing my best to make sure he has a great experience here. Thanks to Sister Avery for the email and thank you for understanding the time constraints I have. I hope you know that you and your husband have had a major impact on my life and I am beyond grateful for all that you do for my grandmother. Also, I´m amazed every week to hear about everything you are doing, Micaela. I don´t deserve you. You are such an amazing person and are a great example to me and to those around you. I love you! Have a great week everyone!
Feliz 18 de Coronel, Chile! There is nothing going on today in this entire country that doesn´t involve empanadas and asados. There is literally a Chilean flag flying outside every house here. I´ve heard this holiday is the 2nd biggest behind Christmas, so I´m pretty excited to see what Christmas is like here because they´ve been celebrating the 18th since last month and the celebrations will go all through the rest of this week, at least. Everything is great here in Coronel. Lienturl Astolfo Torres Carrasco was confirmed a member of the church this Sunday. It was amazing. After his confirmation, he stood up with tears in his eyes and hugged me and thanked me for all that we had done for him. He doesn´t know it, nor would he understand, but he has taught me more than I could ever teach him. If I don´t have anymore success for the rest of my mission, seeing that man change into who he is today and seeing his family there with him along the way justifies every single day of my mission. I had another really great experience. My companion and I (Elder Hill, "my son," is from Utah and is 18 years old; he speaks 0 Spanish, so that´s fun) were walking to a lesson and a really drunk man, smoking a cigarette said "hola, élderes." We stopped and talking to him for a while. It turns out that he had been baptized when he was 16 (he was probably in his early 40s now) in Camilo. He talked to us for long time about his history. He is divorced and he has lost his entire family, likely due to his drinking problem. He asked me "what would you say if I told you I was going to go home right now and kill myself?" I asked him "why would you?" I then bore my testimony of the plan that Heavenly Father has for each and every one of us and of His incomprehensible love for us. I told him that he can change what has happened in his life with the help of Christ. I pulled out a Book of Mormon and handed it to him and told him he already knew what to do with it. He looked at me, began to cry, and hugged me (he also kissed me on the cheek, which brings the amount of times I´ve been kissed by drunk men up to double digits). I wrote my name and number down on the front page of the book and he thanked us and walked home. I´m not going to list all the things that had to happen for us to just so happen to be in the right place at the right time to talk to that man, but I´ve thought about it and that experience was nothing short of a miracle. I know that the Lord used my companion and I to save that man´s life. A miracle is a natural effect of celestial laws. Obedience brings blessings, and miracles. Another example: I found the gospel, began living the commandments, and now I have Micaela Morgan Wright. That´s a miracle coming from obedience. Have a great week, everyone!
We had a baptism this week! Lientur got baptized! The Lord came through! We had promised him that the Lord would prepare the way for him to get baptized the 7th of this month and it happened! He was super sick just before and had spent a lot of time in the hospital, but his health really improved a few days and a few blessings before this past Saturday. I´d say that is a miracle. He is doing well, but his health has dipped again. We will continue to visit him and to keep him excited about progressing in the gospel. We found a family to teach this week. This is the first time that has happened. The Rifo-Sarsosa family is a man named Jonel, his wife Janette, his son Benjamin (really great name), his daughter Maria José, and Carolina. Benjamin is younger, but his two daughters are both studying in different universities in Concepción. They´re a really great family and all are interested, especially the mom. She apparently investigated and dissected the pamphlet about the Restoration. We have also been teaching Raquel more. She is really progressing. We also began teaching Lientur´s sister, Gladys. She has really strong desires to progress in the gospel. She has really bad health problems too, so she definitely needs the gospel. She feels like a 3rd grandmother to me. Angela, one of my first baptisms, was recently diagnosed with cancer, so please keep her in your prayers. She´s really amazing. Although she has received that diagnosis, she is still working hard as the Primary President and loves going out and teaching with us. It´s inspiring. I´ve met quite a few people like that here, for example Lientur and his sister. I heard Texas lost to BYU. That´s unfortunate. One of the missionaries who goes to BYU had fun calling me and telling me about that. Transfers are tomorrow. Elder Smith is going to Vilcún, outside of Temuco. I pick up the elder I´ll be training on Wednesday, I´m really excited about that. This Wednesday, I will have been dating the love of my eternal life for 8 months. She´ll never really understand what she means to me or how much I love her, but I´m grateful that she has put up with me for so long. I love you, Micaela! Oh, congratulations to Katy and Brock! Have a great week, everyone!
Elder Reynolds his first week in Chile baptizing 3 hermanas
Elder Reynolds and his companion, Elder Smith (center)
Elder Reynolds and Elder Smith with Lientur on his baptismal date
We did a lot of traveling this week. We went to Concepción early in the week for an interview with the President again, went to Lota for the weekly meetings there, and then on Thursday we headed to Cañete, which is about 2 and a half hours south of Coronel. Early that next morning, we went to Angol for a conference. They had me cook steaks and longanizas for about 70 missionaries. I met two other missionaries from Texas! That was pretty exciting, even if one of them was an Aggie. That was unfortunate. You really hate to see something so good go so bad. Hook ´em. I heard my Longhorns won! That was exciting news. Anyway, I found out that I will definitely be training this next transfer, which begins next week. I´ll still be in Coronel, probably for at least another 12 weeks. That´s how long training is. I´m not sure where Elder Smith will be going. We have a possible baptism this Saturday! It´s Lientur, but he has been in the hospital lately with some heart problems, so we will see how he is doing when the time comes. Other than his health problems, he is doing great spiritually. I have faith that the Lord will give him the health that he needs to enter the waters of baptism. He regularly expresses to us how much appreciates us and all the changes he has experienced since he began learning the gospel. A lot of these people don´t realize that they teach us just as much as we teach them. There is always something to learn from everyone. It´s up to us to figure out what it is and then to apply it to our lives. We met a 23-year-old named Raquel on Monday. She has two kids, Vicente (3) and León (1). I don´t think I´ve seen children with as much energy as they have. It´s impressive. We got along really well with them. In fact, when it came time to leave after the first lesson we had with her, Vicente started to cry. It´s really fun to teach her. She really wants to create a good future for her children and is really confused about why there are so many churches and why we can take one verse of scripture, show it to 5 different churches, and get 5 different interpretations... sounds a little familiar. Those are the exact questions Joseph Smith had. Christ established one church, the word is one, so there should be one church and one interpretation. I found Ezequiel 37:16-20, which talks about the stick of Judah (The Bible) and the stick of Joseph (The Book of Mormon, Lehi was a descendent of Joseph). God has put them together to make them one, and with them both we have the fulness of the gospel. I shared that with Raquel and she really understood. She has strong desires to find the truth and I know that that´s all it takes to find it. We just have to put forth some effort, show the Lord that we have the faith to do it, and He will bless us with an answer to our prayers. We are also working on having more activities in the branch. Some things in the past really destroyed the branch, so it´s hard to build it back up again. But, as we work with the members, leaders, and less active members, I know that we can make the Coronel Branch a Ward. I know that´s what the Lord wants and we are doing all that we can to make it happen. I hope it has rained some in Texas. You all are in my prayers. Chau! Elder Reynolds