Monday, October 27, 2014

My Crazy Week

I do not even know where to start with this one. This week was just something else. I guess I will start with the interesting/ funny stuff:

Elder Holt and I were out contacting when this loud and obnoxious guy with a cigarette in his mouth stopped us. We did the whole routine and he invited us to his house without us even asking. While Holt was writing down his address, the guy shook my hand then went to shake Elder Holt’s hand who did not see it because he was writing. I whispered in Spanish twice that the guy was trying to shake his hand and when he did not hear me I said it in English. As soon as I said that the guy had me by the arm and was coming in for the kill. He thought I was talking crap in English so he could not understand. 

At this very moment a woman we know started talking to Holt so he didn’t see what happened so I ended up having to put the guys arm in this painful lock that targets the nerve bundle on the inside of the wrist and knee him in the soft tendon on the back of the knee. He dropped to the ground, got up, apologized quickly, invited me over for dinner, then limped away holding his arm. I freaked on Holt and told him to stop talking to the ladies long enough to bail me out of stuff like that.

We ran into the same guy later that day but this time he had peed his pants badly, obviously broken his nose, and was PLASTERED. He stopped me, probably for stability, and told me some guy had beat him up and he wanted me to come over and teach him whatever I did to him earlier. Before I could say anything he gave me his sunglasses and planted a big kiss on me and then Elder Holt. At least I wasn’t expecting it. Holt got pulled in by the arm like a rope. Longest 3 seconds of his life.

From there we went to Mamita´s house and she told me she had heard about my new nickname. I had no idea what she was talking about and she told me the meaning of this word which up to this point Holt and I had assumed meant ´gringo´. The word ´muñeco’ means ´doll´ and two seconds later everything made sense when we passed a group of 20 high school girls. They all started whispering and calling to each other about the muñeco. Holt gave me endless crap for that one and kept trying to hold my hand.

This is where the week turned a little bit. We got a call from Elder Petrovelli saying that President Obeso had just called saying that he had been told from down the line of authority that Petrovelli had beat up his companion. Having just had surgery it obviously wasn’t true and we also found out it had come from President Bello, our branch president. Holt and I stopped in the church to use the bathroom and the new second counselor, Mauro, pulled us into the office to inform us they’d had a council as leaders of the Rama [Branch] and decided to kick Petrovelli out. When Mauro saw he wasn’t convincing us with his lies he threw out some other accusations against Petrovelli´s companion Elder Perkins.

We went straight home and called up the line of authority to try to get some help and all they told us was that they would work on it. Long story short the next night we set up a meeting with Bello to figure out what was going on and where all this was coming from. He fed us a bunch of lies about the stuff Petrovelli and Perkins were allegedly doing and when I, after not speaking the entire time, tried to explain we just wanted to work, he told me that I needed to go too because of my threats and intimidation against families in the ward to basically kill them with my wrestling mojo. Two problems with that: 1. I have maybe talked about wrestling twice when people saw my pictures of me wrestling.  2. I don’t know enough Spanish to put together a threat if I wanted to. We tried to explain that if we left a lot of members would go inactive and all our progress would be lost. He said he didn’t care and that is where we stopped talking.

We left the office pissed off and right outside Mauro, who had been one of Petrovelli´s friends and lied behind his back and started half the rumors, told Elder Petrovelli to quit his mission. I told Mauro off and we left just hurt and confused.

We went straight to Mamita´s where Elder Petrovelli broke down in tears because all this town has done is pick on him and persecute him, Elder Holt called Obeso who got mad at us for meeting with Bello in the first place, and I just stood in the corner mad as could be.

Eventually we went home where Perkins broke down listening to a talk by Elder Holland where he talks about why a mission isn’t easy, Elder Petrovelli went into the bathroom and locked the door, Elder Holt disappeared out back to think, and I just did push-ups and pull-ups until my arms were jelly. We all ended up out back and ate burnt cookies I had made earlier and ate frosting with spoons.

The next day we didn´t do anything. Just sat around the house because we were waiting for instructions from President Obeso. About seven in the evening we got a call that we were having an emergency transfer of all four of us which means we are all going to sectors we don’t know at all. We had three hours to say goodbye to everyone and then in the morning we were shipped out. We kind of had a little party that night and TONS of people showed up including a bunch of inactive and less active people. It made it all worth it to see everyone there and how many people we had touched. It wasn’t planned; it was just as people heard we had to leave that they showed up to say goodbye and mostly cry. There isn’t a whole lot that can make me cry. I wrestled for 5 years and never cried because of an injury, which I had MANY of, but I will admit I cried looking at all their loving faces.

Elder Holt and I arrived in our new sector of Entre Lagos which means ¨between lakes¨, and it is the most beautiful place on earth - I am convinced of it. There are about 20 members who assist, including 4 missionaries and a couple babies, and we don’t know our sector very well. We got our work cut out for us.

All of that aside, Holt and I are pretty happy. I will admit my last night in Rio Negro I broke down a little looking at pictures of the family and wondering where God was and why it was so hard. However, all questions were answered as soon as we entered Entre Lagos. Holt and I are still together and in the first hour of walking aimlessly around our sector just following promptings, we found FOUR INVESTIGATORS!! Two already have testimonies of the Book of Mormon! LETS GO!!! 

The members are all solid as rocks in the faith and the wife of the president is our mamita and is known for miles around for her cooking. We live with a bunch of non members who are so cool, in a cool house, and soft beds. You can’t even understand how much I almost cried laying in a SOFT BED. You don’t need to worry about me either. Yes it is hard, I don’t want to lie to you guys about that. But Holt and I are always happy, always singing, and I make a game out of EVERYTHING. We are looking forward to our future success here in the beautiful city of Entre Lagos.

I love everyone so much. Stay in touch and don’t forget lots and lots and lots of pictures.

With love,

Elder Aidan Rich

These are photos of us saying good-bye to Rio Negro.

Talking to the kids of Rio Negro that we play with on the street for the last time and giving them our information.

The Family of Jacob. My first baptism that I kind of walked into on my first day in the area.
JoseLuis and Eugenia.  They're inactive but so so awesome.  Good people.

Ricardo and Carla for the last time. My absolute favorites. 
Josepha (the daughter of Ricardo and Carla) after I gave her her first princess dress ever.  Priceless moment in life right there.   
Our departing view of Rio Negro

Monday, October 20, 2014

Branching Out

END OF MY FIRST CAMBIO! I am officially almost done with training and ready to get more proselyting time and more privileges. Heck yes. I will be with Elder Holt for another 6 weeks to finish my training and the next cambio. Maybe more time if we are lucky. The kid is a stud.

So we got a call late Monday night from our Zone leaders telling us we had an intercambio where we exchange companions for a day. It is required once a cambio and at 8:00 in the morning. Yay. So I proselyted all day Tuesday in Rahue Bajo with Elder Owens. He is from Georgia and is number 14 of 17 kids in his family, all from the same mom. WOW.

When I got back Wednesday I got really sick and spent the next 2 days throwing up and laying in bed. I stayed home with Elder Petrovelli who is restricted to his bed while Holt went proselyting with the companion of Petrovelli, Elder Perkins. It actually worked out because I just did tons of paperwork and called people and set up appointments. We already have a full schedule for this week and it is only Monday.

Okay so bad news first. We invited Tamara to take gospel lessons along with her English lessons and she shut us down hard. She is still taking English and told us she knows we are good people and was relieved to see us on the bus that one day, but no. Jose, who we invited to be baptized 3 weeks ago, prayed and received and answer and still doesn’t want to be baptized. He said he doesn’t want to be a missionary. No matter how we explain you don’t have to be a missionary after baptism he just doesn’t get it and his answer is always the same. Yeah, I don’t know.

However, Papito said yes to taking lessons!! Pray and then pray again for that to work out. We also have been working to become a ward instead of just a branch. Elder Holt and I have helped organize the branch council to work side-by-side with the missionaries in missionary efforts, including the whole ward in finding and teaching people, reactivating enough to establish a young mens, and have given 3 people the priesthood. We are on a roll. We need 70 people to attend church and 20 people with the priesthood to become a ward, and if that happens we get a new chapel too to accommodate everyone.

We hadn’t met those goals for three weeks straight and the stake president, who is a grumpy man, had come to drop major palos on our Branch President. (A ´palo´ is a stick and to ‘drop palos’ is to chastise majorly.) We were all really bummed after branch council before church. We were ready to feel the sting of palos as they bounced off our heads when at the last minute, 79 PEOPLE WALKED THROUGH THE DOORS! We could not fit everyone! We also have 19 priesthood holders. One more and WE WILL BE A WARD! AHHHAHAHAHHH!!

Church was so spiritual and every talk was as powerful as the last. The Stake President´s address was loving but firm and it felt great to have him see we aren’t wasting our time in Rio Negro.

The last thing that was awesome about the week was last night. I have read the Book of Mormon twice now, prayed, and never really received an answer. Obviously I love this church but I kinda just looked at it all and asked myself, ¨Is this real life? Is this all really true?¨ This was heavy on my heart all day yesterday. I have fasted, prayed, cried, and begged for weeks, and nothing. I was sitting in the house of an inactive woman and we were just there to set up an appointment. I wasn’t really paying close attention to the conversation when Holt surprised us all by asking us if he could share a Mormon Message.

He shared the one by Russell M Nelson in the airplane and I was watching it, as I have 50 times, and all of the sudden the most crazy feeling in the world hit me. It felt like a river of ice water running through me. I could barely breath and my heart was beating so hard I could feel it in my knees. The message is simple: Stay calm. It will be alright. You aren’t perfect but HE is. Let Him help.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is true. This guy, Jesus? Yeah he saved us. ALL of us. And all we have to do is listen to him and trust him to be happy. FOREVER. And all he asks is to be a good person and be happy. Pretty good deal if you ask me. Let´s all accept his invitation: ¨Come Follow Me¨

With much Love,
Elder Rich

ALWAYS doing service. That is our tree.  Chilean version of Jonny Appleseed.
Elder Rich was able to take a P-Day trip to Vulcan Osorno (an active volcano)
Ski Lodge below the volcano.
My homie, Javier the Snowman
I am standing on black volcanic soil. To my left is red clay hills. To my right is a snow covered mountain, and directly ahead is a beautiful lake. 
Hermana Arriaza (her family owns the ranch where we helped with the herding). She uses the wool to spin thread manually to make clothes.
Hermana Arriaza dyes the thread with different types of moss, berries, herbs, and temperatures of water.
I get lots of questions about what I eat here in Chile. This is the first course of a typical lunch: potatoes covered in hotdogs and longaniza (a greasy meat similar to bratwurst), bread, soda, and fruit for dessert.
Another meal: chicken, enough rice to feed an army, bread, bread with cheese (there is a difference), tea, and apple for dessert.
Also, it is ALWAYS raining in Chile.
If I were a cat, this is where I would hang out too.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Con fe en cada paso

Describing this week in one word...INSANE. We had one crazy thing after another happen and we probably slept 12 hours total this week. #MissionLife

Elder Holt´s birthday was on the 7th and boy did he get it. There is a tradition in South America when someone has a birthday, the first half of the day you just pull brutal prank after brutal prank. However, at the end of the day you all get together and just love them and spoil them. Tons of fun. Long story short, by the end of the day Holt had gone through 5 shirts and 3 pairs of pants including one of mine he had to borrow because he ran out. Between rotten pudding on the head, eggs and flour to the face multiple times, a bucket of ice water and shampoo from a window, and surprise attacks in the shower, he changed about every hour or so.

We were walking home the next day when we got a call from one of our Elder who is from Argentina, Elder Petrovelli.  He was in a lot of pain and had been for about two days. We ran to the little ghetto clinic of Rio Negro and they told us just to go home and wait it out. By this time it is 1:00 in the morning so I didn’t sleep at all because I was worried about the kid. We went to Osorno in the morning with a member, Hermano Quintanilla, and at the hospital found out he had appendicitis and some type of stone, but not in his kidneys. He had two emergency operations and we were awake all night in the hospital that night. I learned so much from this experience and the kid had so much faith.

After he came out of operation he just said ¨Con fe en cada paso. Le quiero.¨  Basically, “Faith in every step. I love you.” He has had a brother and an uncle die while out here, and his mom was just diagnosed with cancer, so please pray for Elder Lucas Petrovelli. The guy needs it and more importantly deserves it.

I just got back from the Volcano of Osorno and it was freaking AWESOME! So pretty. I will try to send pictures next week.

I love you all so much. Stay safe this week and remember, ¨Con fe en cada paso.¨

Elder Rich

Elder Petrovelli post-surgery.

Never play Spanish tongue twister games with people who speak Spanish when this is the punishment for losing.
Beautiful Rio Negro
Rio Negro, Chile

House of Hermano Jacob we have been helping to build. Just moved into it and I now know how to install plumbing, wire electricity and build a house.

Ricardo and Carla are an awesome couple who don´t have much besides their daughter and their little hotdog stand. I taught them how to make crepes and now they are selling like crazy. 
(Thanks Dannielle Larkin for providing a world famous crepe recipe!)