Monday, December 29, 2014

My First Christmas in the Mission Field

This week was awesome. Full of fun, relaxation, hard work, and everything else I needed. I am feeling great and ready for the new year.

On Christmas Eve we ate lunch with a member family then went over to the house of the family Billikopf at about noon with the sister missionaries. We played games, had a turkey dinner, and then had a gospel conversation with Hermano Gregorio Billikopf. He is a convert who has dedicated his life to studying the scriptures and loves sharing the gospel. The spirit was so strong as he showed how the Old Testament testifies of the Book of Mormon. Powerful stuff.

We then went that night to the Wilhelm´s house and ate second dinner. Elder Wilhelm is an area seventy in Concepción and has a very cool family. After dinner we had a testimony meeting and you can’t listen to sister missionaries and not feel the Spirit. The Wilhelms also have a daughter who served a mission recently and her testimony was especially strong and I am grateful I was there to share that night with them. 

We were also there all Christmas day. We played soccer, croquet, ate an entire lamb, and TOOK NAPS. I love naps.

Elder Watson and I are doing so well. We have so much fun together and laugh until it hurts everyday. Like yesterday when we were walking home for the day. Now I don’t think you understand how many dogs there are just roaming the streets in Chile. Like SO many. And some are just super choro or short tempered and they will come after you if you make them angry and you quickly learn which ones those are. Plus those dogs usually set off at least three more. 

So Elder Watson was walking and looking at the sky just day dreaming and telling me a story. He wasn’t paying attention to where he was going and just being himself. I noticed he was heading toward this dog that is just mean and angry and has almost bit me twice and figured he saw it and was ready. Only too late did I realize he had no idea. This dog looks all happy and nice watching us when out of nowhere it starts to come at his ankles. I yelled, ¨Watch out!¨  Elder Watson screamed and pushed me in front of the dog. He dodged to the side and I jumped over it and did some fancy footwork to get away from him and two other dogs to where I could face it and somewhat fight back. They just barked and went back all angry and grumpy.

Watson and I looked at each other and just laughed and laughed so hard. Yes Mom, SO HARD.

I hope you are all doing well also. Love you.

Elder Rich

Christmas Eve with the Wilhelm Family
Christmas Dinner at the Wilhelm's consisted of a whole lamb.
We got to look at this handsome face for about 3 hours while we Skyped with Elder Rich the day after Christmas.
Elder Rich had lots of family waiting for his call.
Elder Rich and Elder Watson during our Christmas call.
Enjoying some fresh fruit (a rare treat), a view of a volcano or two, and the summer weather in the campo (country).

Brother Gregorio Billikopf's home.
Elder Rich takes in the view from the Billikopf's home.

Can you see all three volcanoes on the horizon?
A closer view of the volcanoes across the lake.

Elder Rich made some Chicken Alfredo for lunch on P-Day and impressed himself and apparently Elder Watson as well. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Feliz Navidad!

Christmas is around the corner, I lost my voice for the Lord, and the house reeks of pine. Whoa whoa, confused? Alright, let’s back up a little bit.

So we had our big missionary get together for Christmas and it actually turned out to be a blast. We ate dinner in the chapel in Puerto Montt (the biggest city in the mission about 45 min from Llanquihue). We then walked to the big town square and sang hymns for two hours while about ten missionaries walked around and gave out Books of Mormon and talked to people. It was really good...until a really drunk Catholic guy came and screamed at us that he was going to laugh at us burning in hell from heaven. The police that were there in the square to maintain peace did absolutely nothing. Chileans, what do you do?

We went back to the chapel after to exchange gifts. Everyone brought a gift and put it in a big bag then everyone chose one out. Around this time I realized I had left mine on the bus so in true last minute desperation, I put a bunch of mints and other little candy in a box with a word of wisdom pamphlet and a note that said something about how I would have put more candy in, but the Lord said all things in moderation. And of all people to pick my present, it was the Mission President´s wife. Luckily she has a sense of humor and thought it was absolutely hilarious.

Elder Watson and I got our Christmas packages and went home to open them. Watson got a bottle of these green stick things that kind of smelled like pine. So he put them around the house then we went to bed. Turns out they are air-activated. So they took a while to start smelling, and usually one or two is enough, but like eight in a tiny Chilean house is enough to put you in a coma. It may not look like Christmas here but you best believe it smells like it.

We also got to take Ramón and Jovita to a baptism to show them what it would be like and get them excited for theirs. They have pushed their date back but are still preparing and progressing.

I am just fine down here in Chile. I love you all so much and am so thankful for your support.


Elder Rich

We are surrounded by lakes that look like oceans.
Ramon and Jovita (by the way Chileans don't smile)
Just another reason why Elder Watson and I get along so well.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Sunshine and Stinky Fish

IT IS SUMMER!!!! Oh my gosh, I love Chilean summer. No rain. No wind. No Ozone layer (lots of sunburn). And apparently, no rules for locals when it comes to street clothes.

Elder Watson and I keep laughing so hard every time we get a package and it has hand warmers and hot chocolate because we are dying of heat with all the windows open. Speaking of Elder Watson, I cannot say enough how much I love him. Elder Holt and I got along so well and I miss him, but Elder Watson and I are the same person. We have done nothing but have spiritual lessons and laugh until our stomachs cramped and we turned blue. No like that literally happened to Watson. We were laughing so hard.

Watson is very knowledgeable of Spanish and so I have progressed very quickly. I have had a couple people ask me if I am from Argentina and everyone thinks I have more than a year in the mission. #winning

Ramón and Jovita are progressing so quickly and are ready to get dunked. I am so excited for them. Funny story of the day:

When I first got here, we went and visited Ramón and Jovita. Jovita showed us these two huge salmon steaks and invited us to lunch. We already had lunch planned so we had to decline but she said she would make salmon for us some other time. Fast forward two and a half weeks when we are eating salmon with them for lunch. Half way through eating it comes up that these are the SAME SALMON she had showed us weeks before. Watson and I made eye contact and slowed down on the salmon consumption.

To put it in kind words, we had a busy night. I woke up at 2:30 in the morning with one thought: ¨Oh No.¨ I had a “both ends” kind of party, and when I woke up, Watson and I laughed so hard because each of us thought we were the only one feeling it. We have been suffering from crazy fish poisoning for three days.

Moral of the story: Chileans have strong stomachs. Eat salmon when fresh. I am currently walking like a duck.

I love you all so much. I hope you are all ready for Christmas because I am.

Elder Aidan Rich

Llanquihue, Chile

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Crazy Week of Transfer

(The computer places all over Chile were closed for some reason so I couldn't write yesterday but I can today for half an hour. I don't have much time to reply to everyone individually so tell them all I love them.) 

I hate packing. I will take persecution for the Lord. I will run from dogs for the Lord. I will deal with fleas for the Lord. I will let people swear at me and take advantage of me for the Lord. But packing? That is where my endurance level starts to falter. A real faith tester.

All jokes aside though, this cambio (transfer) has turned out more than awesome. I got on a double-decker bus (top deck like a boss thank you) in Osorno where I said goodbye to Elder Holt. I arrived in Puerto Montt where I was greeted by Elder Watson who I loved immeditely. He is about six foot, dark hair, out loud and confident and I love him. We took another bus from Puerto Montt to Puerto Varas and from there to a little town called Llanquihue. It is BEAUTIFUL. It is on the other side of Vulcan Osorno from Entre Lagos and is built on the shore of Lago Llanquihue.

In this last week Elder Watson and I committed an older couple to be baptized on the 27th of December and another man on the 7th of January. They are all progressing and we know for a fact the couple, Ramone and Jovita, are getting dunked. We had such a cool experience with them this week and it made me realize how easy the gospel is when we do the things we are supposed to.

We had an awesome lesson on the gospel and at the end invited them to be baptized. Jovita thought for about a half second then said as if it was obvious, ¨I have no doubts. I am planning on it.¨ Ramone was more thoughtful and hesitant but he committed to the date and working to do the things he needed to do. We realized towards the end that he has a smoking problem and that Jovita drinks coffee so we left them with a Word of Wisdom pamphlet and told them to read it so we could discuss it our next visit.

Jovita called us the next morning and said, “That pamphlet was so great! I read the whole thing and all the scriptures (Which is unheard of out here by the way) and it just rang with truth. There were even things in there that I am doing that I did not know I could not do so I stopped!” We didn’t even have to teach her. She felt the Spirit so strong she just stopped on her own. She said to come over immediately so we did and we had a discussion. Jovita had already thrown her coffee out and Ramone committed to quit smoking. 

The work is just progressing and progressing. People are ready and prayers are being answered. Thank you for all of your love and support.


Elder Rich

Elder Rich and his new companion, Elder Watson
Welcome to BEAUTIFUL Llanquihue. That is a volcano in the distance.
Llanquihue, Chile
Every year since he was born I had Elder Rich's photo taken with Santa.  I begged him to try and find a Santa and send me a photo to make my collection complete.  Javier the Santa will have to do.

Mom I tried SOOOO hard to get the best picture I could. This is Chile and this is what I could get. (I literally begged for the tree.) Javier is not very lovey-dovey but I did my best to change that.
Before I left Entre Lagos, I went to say goodbye to Veronica and her dog who has bitten everyone else who has gone back there, but me. We're cool.
And you can see all the wood we chopped too. 10 METERS OF WOOD!