Hello Family and friends.
I know I just talked to you yesterday but I probably forgot to tell you a lot, so here's a recap of the past week I've been here in Chile. I got here in Antofagasta last Tuesday morning after a 15 hour flight from L.A to Santiago, Chile. and I've been trying to catch up on sleep this whole past week. I've been so tired because of the time difference, the amount of walking, and the fact that I was only getting like 6 hours of sleep the first few days. But once I got into my routine of how they do things here in Chile I've been getting 8 hours of sleep a night and all is good.
My companion is Elder Smith (Taylor Smith). He's been out 21 months and has about 2 months left, he's a little trunky (excited to go home) but we work hard, sometimes. He likes to Dar Jugo (Give Juice) or (Relax) ha ha. We give juice a lot but I know that he´s trying so I just try to keep him motivated. He´s so awesome though. He speaks such good Spanish and is so friendly to everyone. He has a way of talking to everyone and they all love him. He's an awesome guy. He went to the University Of Utah for a year before he came here, so that's way awesome! He's definitely going back there for school when he gets back. So that's way cool that we have that in common.
We live in our pension (House) it's not too bad. The living room/dining room is pretty big. The kitchen is tiny and it has a stove, sink, and a washing machine. So that's pretty cool that we can wash our own clothes. Our bedrooms are tiny! But that's okay. We have a bunk bed and 2 desks where we study everyday. We live with our Zone Leaders, Elder Hales and Elder Vales. Elder Vales is from Boston and everyone else in our pension is from Utah. The floors are so dirty just because of all the sand that is here in Antofagasta so you have to wear flip flops everywhere you go. All is good though.
Sorry I'm honestly just throwing all the information out in this email cause so much has gone on this past week that it's hard to know what to say. So everything that pops into my head, I'm writing down. Sorry if it doesn't make any sense.
I am in the city of Antofagasta for now, there are 13 cities in our mission. I'm not quite sure of all the names of them but when I get called to them in a few transfers I'll let you know. I was lucky though that I didn't have to take a long bus ride Tuesday night to go to a different sector. From the bottom of my mission to the top is about a 24 hour bus ride and Antofa is like right in the middle. I´ll learn the names of the cities soon enough. There are about 50 missionaries in Antofa and we all have our own sectors, if that makes sense. We all have our own zones. So mine and Elder Smith's sector is idk.... like 3 miles wide and 3 miles long... Whatever it makes sense in my head. but I fetchin love it here.
The thing about my mission is that it looks the exact same from the bottom of my mission to the top. Imagine the mountains in Utah... Just huge ginormous mountains in the East but they are FILLED with sand.... nothing but sand and dirt everywhere you look but when you look to the West you see the Ocean.... how weird is that.... pretty weird..... About 10 of the 13 cities here are right on the coast. So we're always by the water. It gives us something good to look at I guess.
Chile doesn't have Animal Control so I´m not kidding when I say that on one block of about 100 ft. there are 7 dogs lying on the sidewalk. In my sector of 3 miles by 3 miles I have seen about 3,000 different dogs..... Sooooo many fetching dogs. It. is. insane. A lot of Missionaries get bitten but I haven't had problems yet. Basically if they come at us we either pretend to pick up a rock and then they usually run away or if it comes down to it, we have to kick them. Lots of missionaries get bit though. There are quite a bit of cats too. Not quite as much as dogs but they hide on the roofs of the houses.
The houses are in bad shape. Just beat up brick walls with gates on the outside of every single house! It´s hard to explain, but like with those commercials on TV where it shows the starving kids and in the background just beat up orange and green and all different colors of houses... I dk what I'm saying. They are very 3rd world houses. That's what I'm trying to say. And a lot of the time you'll have whole families living in a house that's as big as our living rooms. It's so sad but these people are so humble. The people here will give EVERYTHING they have to us. I don´t know if it's all the Latin Culture or South America culture but they love EVERYONE even the people that don't wanna hear from the missionaries are super super nice.
Elder Smith has been here for a transfer before I got here so he knows a few converts and investigators so I sorta walked into a Baptism with Ruth and Carolina. Ruth is about 45 and Carolina is 14. They've wanted to get baptized for about a month now. The mom just works all the time so she can never get to church. But Carolina goes all the time and absolutely loves it. Technically you're supposed to have 3 church attendances before you can get baptized but you make exceptions for people who have certain circumstances. So Elder Smith asked them if they think they are ready to get baptized and they said they were. We've taught them all the lessons so this Saturday is the day. Ruth wanted Elder Smith to baptize her and Carolina wanted me to baptize her. I´m sure if she had a choice she would want Elder Smith to do them both but since I´m new he sorta nudged her to have me baptize her ha ha ha whatever I´ll take it. I´m so excited though to get my first Baptism under my belt.
Last Saturday was an awesome day too. We helped some other elders in the sector over from us with a baptism they had. This guy is about 60 and he is paralyzed on the left side of his body and hasn't left his house in 4 years. But he wanted to get baptized so we got 5 missionaries in the font and carried him in (I was one of the 5) and held him like a board just had him lay on our hands and we just dunked him down, it was so awesome I don´t know if that made any sense but it was such a cool experience to help out with that baptism.
The Chileans speak sooooooo fetchin fast. To be honest I understand about 5% of what they say in our lessons and when I'm talking to them on the streets. It's really frustrating but I know that all the missionaries go through this for the first few months. I just hope I learn fast. The Chileans slurr their words together and don't say their s's.... you can imagine how hard it is for me when I didn't know normal spanish in the first place. Oh well, it will come. Keep me in your prayers.
Lets see, what else..... we have about 5 investigators including Ruth and Carolina. We were touching doors my 3rd day here and we found Eliana who is from Bolivia and she was telling us that she's been going to a different church but she's been thinking about coming to ours, how awesome. But she bailed on us Sunday morning so we couldn't get her to church... I've learned that people are very flaky here. I love them to death but they always seem to get sick or lose their phone from Saturday til Sunday night. Oh well, they will realize one day how important it is.
James is our other investigator. We found him in the grocery store line. Before my mission I would never talk to people like we do here. We just said Buenas to him and he was like, Oh hi Elders, and we said how do you know the elders. He said that he's what we call an investigator so that was awesome he was investigating the church in a different sector than us but he lives in our sector so we took him and now we´re gonna start teaching him. Hopefully that works out. Touching doors (knocking) isn't very effective so we get lots of referrals from Menos Activos (inactives) and members. I absolutely love this work. The days fly by especially when I just lose myself in the work. I fetchin love it here.
The food here is very bland and boring. Lots and lots of chicken and rice. The members feed us every Saturday and Sunday and it's usually chicken and rice. I´m not mad, I love it but my companions and zone leaders tell me that is gets old really fast eating the same thing. Oh well, I´m so happy to be here and wouldn´t want it any other way. I pray for all of you every night. I probably forgot a lot, but I´ll talk to you all next week:) Love you all so much.