Monday, November 24, 2014

"Wrecking" the Work

(Just as a point of reference, when Elder Rich does something well, he likes to say he  "wrecked" it. It's just his weird thing, but he's been teased about it so mercilessly that he now just uses it as a funny.)

Sooo...not much happened this week. It was just a drama-free week of work. However, being me I still had some fun things happen:

I had an intercambio (where we exchange companions for 24 hours) with Elder Warren who is going home in a week. I had this whole day planned with tons of lessons and service and I was ready to prove I was legit to this veteran. Every single appointment fell through and it was pouring rain so nobody was outside to talk to. Elder Warren turned out to be pretty cool and was very kind and relaxed. After knocking on lots of doors with no luck, we found a bunch of kids playing soccer in the street and joined.

We played soccer until we were soaked to the bone and then kept playing. That night we set something up with an investigator and had a sweet lesson where we invited him to be baptized. He said no but he still wants lessons. We will see where that goes.

Also as a testament of how sound I sleep (ask my mom about trying to wake me up) I slept through an earthquake that was apparently pretty big. Everyone else woke up, except Holt and me, and freaked out. Work hard, sleep hard.

Not much else to report from Entre Lagos except for that we are doing great out here. We are ¨wrecking¨ the work of the Lord out here. I love you all.


Elder Aidan Rich

Monday, November 17, 2014

An American Apostle in Chile

We had the coolest experience this week. Elder Russell M. Nelson visited the mission and I got to shake his hand. It was such a relief to hear him because a lot of stuff has happened. We have been trying to prepare spiritually for his visit for weeks now, but Satan has also been working overtime to break us. We have had girls flirt with us, but they came on with desperation this week and made some offers that blew my mind. We have been rejected hard and the people have been...less than friendly. I have even had to resort to fists for pure protection because of the influence Satan can have on people and their hated for the missionaries. He spoke such powerful words of comfort and love to us and twice during the talk he looked right into my eyes and gave me an answer I have been praying for for months which made it all worth it. These are the answers he gave me:

1.  I often have dreams about my family. More of nightmares. The scary thing is back home these nightmares often came true, but I was there to protect my family and help them. It was almost like I knew it was going to happen because I did. But now in the field I cannot help them and it has been really hard for me. I almost never cry, my friends tease me that I don’t have tear ducts, but I found myself broke down like a baby during my interview with my mission president. He gave me comfort and all was well for a while. That was until the dreams started again, fifty times worse than before. Elder Nelson paused mid-sentence during his discourse and all of the sudden said, “I sense some of you are very worried about your families.” He opened to a promise in the Doctrine and Covenants for protection for the families of missionaries.”  He then looked right at me and said, “It is my apostolic promise they will be safe. Go and worry no more.”

2.  Ever since I got sick in the CCM my immune system has been crap. I have been sick on and off every week since then, but I was trying to just have faith and fight through it without telling my companion and being a tough guy about it. However, the day before the conference with Elder Nelson I found myself passed out on the bathroom floor not breathing. I puked until I had nothing left to puke, then kept puking. My companion and I prayed and I knew I had to be at that conference the next morning, but that meant I had to wake up at 3 in the morning to catch a bus to be there on time. I didn’t sleep because I spent the night in the bathroom then dragged myself out of bed at 3 to go see Elder Nelson. The bus ride was so miserable and hours long. At the very end on Elder Nelson´s address, he looked at me and said, "I call down a blessing of healing on all those who are sick and afflicted." I immediately felt better. I haven’t been sick ever since and even all of my old wrestling injuries don’t bug me anymore.

The priesthood is real. We really have a prophet today. These things really do happen.

President Obeso gave us a promise last week that when an Apostle of the Lord comes to an area, miracles of success follow. He was dead on. We usually average about 2 lessons a day plus service if we are lucky. Since Elder Nelson visited we have had about 4 lessons a day with service and people just stop us to talk to us in the streets every day.

Remember to read the scriptures and say your prayers. If we don’t spiritually prepare for things, not even a blessing from an apostle will help. Build yourself on the rock that is Jesus Christ.

With love for all of you,

Elder Aidan Rich 

Elder Rich is serving in a new area called Entre Lagos.
Cleaning beer as a service in Veronica's store...counts right?
I stole a photo of Elder Russell M. Nelson.  I will deny it under questioning.
I got to see Elder Germann at the conference [his CCM companion]. Kids been eating too many sopapias.
Reunited with Elder Petrovelli.  I miss that kid so much.
I got to play soccer with some little kids while waiting for an appointment.  The kids LOVE playing with the missionaries. 
Little Victor, who is only 4, made sure we were always ready. Such a cute kid. His mom invited us over for dinner when she saw how well we got along.
Elder Holt and I taught the kids how to play Speed.  We started out with 5 players and ended with about 30.  The parents came around to watch and laugh.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Service Renders Miracles

The week started off pretty crappy, I am not going to lie. It rained non-stop for four days and so no one was outside and those who were wouldn't talk to us. Our "golden investigator" denied the baptism invitation twice and was being difficult. And going home is supposed to be a relief but we didn’t have anything to heat our house so laying in bed you can see your breath. But I promise it gets better.

It was pouring outside and after 10 people totally denying us and all of our appointments falling through, we finally just sat on a bench not knowing what to do. As we sat there I heard the THWACK of an axe hitting wood and looked up to see a man working on a mountain of wood in his front yard that had been dropped off by a dump truck. I grabbed Holt´s arm and dragged him over to the guy and we asked him if we could chop it for him. He said no and we kept asking but he kept denying. Finally, just sick of everything, including the weather, just being a big fat no, I said pretty roughly "DUDE! WE ARE NOT TRYING TO TEACH THE GOSPEL RIGHT NOW. WE ARE TRYING TO CHOP YOUR WOOD!" He was kind of quiet, then opened the gate and let in Holt and me.

He showed us what he wanted done then disappeared into the store next door that he runs with his sisters. We took off our jackets and just started to chop. It was kind of slow at first but I think all the frustration just came out and God gave us a chance to show we aren’t just helpless, white teenagers who have never worked a day in their life like everyone thinks. Holt would place the wood, I would split it as hard as I could, then Holt would place the next big heavy piece. Pretty soon we were knee deep in chopped wood and I was swinging as fast as Holt could place.

The man (Carlos) peeked out the window to see how we were doing and his eyes got really big. He disappeared and returned with his sisters so they could see what we were doing. Pretty soon there were about 15 people inside the store watching two gringos split wood like they had never seen before. We chopped a dump truck load of wood in about 45 minutes. For those of you who have never chopped hard, heavy, water-logged pine wood might not understand that but that is like running a marathon in half an hour. The miracle is that Holt never once misplaced the heavy, uneven wood on the block and I never once needed more than one swing to split the wood that usually takes 4 or 5. We also stacked it all neatly and then walked into the store to see if there was anything else we could do.

Everyone was really quiet and looked at us really weird. Veronica, one of the sisters, was at the counter and when we asked her if we could do anything else, she thought for a second then asked "What do you really want?" Holt said, "To serve is part of our calling, if you don’t need more help and want us to leave, we will." She looked at us for a second then said follow me.

We ended up at her house with her brother, expecting more work, and then she brought out dinner. She told us her mom is very sick and wants us to help. She also asked about our beliefs without us saying anything about it, and asked if she could have some of our teaching materials. She might as well teach herself for how easy it was. We went back two days later to set up some kind of appointment and see if she had read the pamphlets. Holt was talking to her and it was super fast Spanish so eventually I found myself organizing stuff in the store. She walked around the corner to help a customer and her mouth dropped at what I had done

Ten minutes later she had handed us the keys to EVERYTHING in her store and asked us if we could restock because she was working alone. She has such confidence in us after two days that she trusted us with everything she had. Miracle. She also only has lunch breaks every other day so only three days every week. Despite this, she invited us to talk to her on her lunch break Tuesday. Please pray for that to go well.

We had another small experience with service. There was a man with his little Chilean wife and two small kids trying to move big furniture into a small, beaten house while it was raining. Holt and I just walked up and picked up the heaviest ones and started moving them. As we were moving stuff, I heard the man quietly whisper to his wife if she had any cash because he had the equivalent of like two bucks, which was all he had. When we finished, we looked into his wallet and took out two of the three small bills he had and didn’t make eye contact as he handed it to us, embarrassed. I looked at it, looked at him then said ¨Service no more. Here is our card for if you need more help with moving.¨ He looked at me with tears in his eyes and couldn´t say anything as we just walked away into the rain.

Service renders miracles. Go serve someone today. You will be surprised what will come out of it.

With much love,
Elder Aidan Rich

One of the service projects this week. We chopped and stacked this wood 3 rows deep. I was the axe man.

I chopped so much I drove the stump 3 inches into the ground
We got to take a little trip to Saltos de Petrohue. 
Saltos de Petrohue
Saltos de Petrohue
Elder Holt said pose like "flaites" (gangstas). He is not a very good gangsta.
I'm a thinking man. This is the cool bench I found while Holt was checking out the bathrooms.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Finally a Normal Week (As normal as it gets, I guess)

First full week in Entre Lagos in the record books.  We have had lots of tiny miracles happen that are starting to lead to bigger and bigger miracles.  Quote of the week: "God is pretty good at being God." -Aidan Rich

Let´s start with a few crazy things and answering a few questions. Elder Petrovelli is fine and is still with Elder Perkins. They are now in Puerto Montt I believe. There are four new Elders in Rio Negro. Chileans know about Halloween, but it is pretty lame here. Mostly egging houses. We also watched our little guardian dog ´Gus´get hit by a bus while protecting us. Worst. Day. Of. My. Life. However, I built him a bed under a tree and we visit him and feed him daily. Such a good dog. And now for the rest of the week:

First off, it is so freaking hard to preach in an area you know absolutely nothing about where you are literally just dropped off with a list of names who are ¨a good idea to visit¨ and then just let loose to go find and teach them all. However, this is where the miracles start coming in. One of the guys in our ward drives us back and forth for lunch every day because it is so far to our mamita´s house. Out of no where he decides to introduce us to this less active family and one week later we are teaching their son who is not a member, is progressing rapidly, and already had a testimony of the Book of Mormon when we found him. Yeah. Miracle.

We also had another miracle Saturday that led to several more. The streets here are super confusing and the numbering is not in any order, so it has been almost impossible to find people. We were getting ready to leave the house as usual when all of the sudden Holt called for an audible in our plans. We canceled our first two goals for the day and headed for the cemetary. It was the national day of the dead and he figured we could go and talk to people about the plan of salvation as they mourn their dead family members. We didn´t have much luck and most people just yelled at us or gave us dirty looks for being their or sent the drunk guys to hassle us. (Their favorite thing. They think it is so funny)

We were about to leave when I all of the sudden had the urge to talk to this guy. He was huge, both ways, had long dreads, headphones, and looked so freaking scary and intimidating. I pointed him out to Holt who was hesitant as well, but we just figured God knew best and went for it. He smiled and hugged us as soon as we got to him and said ¨I was wondering when you would talk to me!¨ He has been good friends with all the missionaries and told us to come over about 4 days later. The next day we were walking around aimlessly trying to talk to people and find houses when we heard a whistle. It was Gustavo, who invited us into his house to meet his super sweet wife and daughter. We talked for a while and it turns out he knows all the people the previous missionaries were teaching and planning on teaching, where they live, and the plans the elders had for them. Yeah. Miracle.

He helped us find all of them and we now have a small teaching pool. He has also accepted to take us to his church, as he is not of our faith, so we can learn about and understand other religions. He is also letting us teach him and his only condition is we have to have a family home evening with him once a week to play ping pong, talk religion, play guitar, and watch the Chile games. All of which we have permission to do. Yeah. Miracle.

That is my challenge for all of us this week. Let us try to be more like Gustavo. Let us not look at people as Mormon and non-Mormon, black or white, good or bad. Let us instead look at everyone as brothers and sisters in Christ, united in the same pursuit: Eternal happiness through salvation. So if the Jehovah´s witnesses come by, invite them in. Love them and talk to them. Learn about them and understand them. If everyone was like Gustavo, who again IS NOT OF OUR FAITH yet IS HELPING THE MORMON MISSIONARIES to spread happiness, the world would be near perfect. No contention. No misunderstanding. No unhappiness. Let us be better as a whole.

I love you all. So very much. Each one of you.

Elder Rich

¨I may not be my brother´s keeper, but I am my brother´s brother.¨ 
-Elder Jeffery R. Holland

¨With all that we have heard, with all that we now have, with all righteousness, with all diligence, let us be better than before.¨ 
-President Thomas S. Monson

First view of Entre Lagos
We serve until we bleed.  That's just how it is.
Service project working in the garden.
(As Elder Rich's mother, I want you to know I sent that kid with work gloves!)
Some guy washing his car in the rain.  Only in Chile.
Three months in the field.  The St. George Temple just happened to be the temple on our calendar for this month.
It made me a little homesick...well maybe more than a little.
MonkeyBalls.  Chileans love their MonkeyBalls!
Gustavo and his wife.
We live with a member and this is her little baby boy.  He is so dang cute and always happy.  I made those little angel wings for him.
Elder Holt snagged a pic of my studying.
This is a huge slide that we found and tried out today.
There's no sense in waiting to try it out until it stops raining.  It never stops raining.
Beautiful Lake Puyehue