Monday, January 25, 2016

Yolanda, welcome to the Church of Jesus Christ!

Yolanda. Got. Baptized. Those words feel so good to say. She talked to me a little after the baptism and also while we were at their house for dinner yesterday. She, along with her brother in law who baptized her, told us a pretty cool story.

Yolanda´s husband, Marco, has a brother named Victor who lives in the middle of Chile. He was worried about Marco and the direction his life was going and so he got a message into the hands of the elders here in Ancud this past September and asked if they could start to visit his brother and reactivate him. They started visiting, but had very little success. They ended up offending them and were not really ever received again. Elder Cluff visited them with his last companion and never really had any luck either. Then I came along and something about the Cluff/Rich combo just clicked. My first lesson with the family we were all laughing and Yolanda participated in the lesson for the first time ever. She said something was different this time and she knew she needed to be baptized. This is a woman who has had a relationship with the church for years and years through friends and family who are Mormons and has been to church a million times.

She didn’t have a chance to bear her testimony on Saturday after her baptism or Sunday during sacrament meeting, which was fine by her because she is very casual and reserved. However, during dinner she surprised us all by asking if she could share her testimony with Elder Cluff and I because we were “the angels that brought her to this beautiful moment.” Her two daughters, who are still not members, got to hear it as well. She talked about how she has always been a good person, been involved with a church and noble causes, had a healthy family, and tried to have a relationship with God, but as much as she tried to deny it, she felt incomplete. She said we arrived and changed her perspective about the church and she decided to give it one last shot.

She said at her baptism she didn’t feel like some crazy feeling, but she said she felt a little different. She said during her confirmation, she felt nothing. It was just quiet. She was disappointed at first, then realized there were babies crying and screaming, diesels passing by outside, and lawnmowers too, but none of that registered because the only thing she could hear was Victor´s voice saying, “Receive the Holy Ghost.” She said she knew without doubt in that moment that she was complete. And for the first time, I saw Yolanda cry. I felt God´s infinite love for her as I watched the tears stream past the smile she could not repress.

I thank all who were a part of making me the man and the missionary I needed to be for this family, and the families I have still yet to meet. May God bless you all in your own endeavors and search for eternal happiness.

Elder Aidan Rich

Marco, Yolanda, and kids with Marco's brother, Victor, who preformed the baptism and confirmation. 

Elder Rich and Elder Cluff with Marco, Yolanda and family.

Monday, January 11, 2016

One of the Great Ones

There are terrible, horrible weeks here in the mission. And there are weeks where everything just falls in place almost by itself. This week just so happened to be one of the great ones. We just saw so many miracles and I am learning to use our spiritual gifts as the Lord´s servant.

Service just never fails us, and I think that is where it all began. Drunk guys always ask us for money and we usually just smile and keep walking so as to not fuel their bad habits. However, Friday we were walking and an older gentleman stopped me and asked me for some money. Instead I asked him if he would like to accompany me to a bakery so we could get him some food. We were already late for an appointment but I just felt like I needed to do it. I bought him a simple meal and he broke down crying and said I was the first person to ever do that for him. Everyone in the bakery watched him cry, hug me, and thank me. It was a cool experience, even though I didn’t do it for praise.

We got to our appointment, which was with Marco and Yolanda, and just started a conversation. Marco then asked if we only had baptisms on the 30th of each month because that was the original date we proposed which they all rejected. We told him that it is just usually on a Saturday. Then Yolanda surprised us by saying, “I will have family here on the 30th so it does not work. So can I move it up a week to the 23rd?” Cluff and I did not even know what to say. So Yolanda is getting dunked the 23rd and her two daughters and son will either be baptized the same day or a little further down the line. AAHHHH!! Finally.

Afterwards, we called Patricia, a 25 year-old in the branch, to check on some stuff for a family home evening. She was crying because she had lost her brother’s cat and he was going to flip. I asked her if she had prayed and she said no because God doesn’t care about something like a cat. I said, “WHAT!! God cares about EVERYTHING that you care about. He LOVES you!” I then read her like 5 scriptures proving my point. Then I said, “I am going to hang up, you are going to get on your knees and pray, and you are going to PRAY. Then you are going to wait 30 seconds to feel the Spirit, then you will find the cat within 5 minutes. See you at church.” Then I hung up the phone. She showed up at church with several friends. They had been with Patricia listening on speakerphone when I said all that and had been part of the search for the cat. They had prayed together and found the cat waiting right outside their room. They now want to hear about the gospel from me.

Elder Holland once said something pretty cool. “This work is urgent. We are the church that dreams dreams and believes in miracles. If we have to call blessings down from heaven, CALL THEM DOWN.”

I testify that with the gospel Joseph Smith restored miracles on earth.

Elder Aidan Rich

Elder Rich with two fellow missionaries serving in Ancud - Elder Cabrera and Elder Jeria - visiting Fort San Antonio.

Cannons at Fort San Antonio which was built by the Spaniards in 1780.

Elder Jeria getting a look at the cannon. 

Hidden Beach

The coast line at Fort San Antonio

Ruins along the coast at Fort San Antonio

Sunset at Ancud overlooking the ocean.

The ocean at sunset

Our little Chilean Grumpy Cat

Monday, January 4, 2016

Silence of the Lambs

I love Ancud. People here are actually dang good [basket]ball players so I have been playing a lot to contact and have some fun. We are finally seeing some big progress. I always try to be positive and tell you guys about success, but we are actually having some huge success. We had 70 people in church yesterday and 8 were our investigators. THATS WHATS UP!

This week was pretty lame as far as teaching. Every single door we knocked resulted in a conversation that lasted maximum 30 seconds. People just don’t want to chill with the Mormons while getting wasted on New Years. I did have a riot talking to all the drunk people. They are just so friendly and they all love little baby Jesus.

So for New Years we just hung out with members and ate a lamb that I killed. That´s right, this time it was my turn to wield the knife. It was insane I am not going to lie. SO. MUCH. BLOOD. But it tasted so dang good.

We have a family that is getting nearer and nearer to baptism every week. They all came to church this week and they are all reading the Book of Mormon. Thank you for all of your prayers in my behalf that helped me to find them. Their names are Marco (who was inactive and has quit smoking to be worthy to receive the priesthood) and Yolanda who is not a member. They have two daughters, Elizabeth (19) and Constanza (16), and Gabriel (8) is the youngest. Keep on praying so we can get them dunked.

Sorry I couldn’t send pictures. The computer does not want to let me.

Much love,

Elder Rich