Monday, August 29, 2016

Cambios Again

So this week we had transfers and Elder Christiansen left for a city called Puerto Montt. I am STILL here in Punta Arenas as zone leader and my new companion is Elder Ben Griffin from Alpine, Utah. The kid is really dedicated and got here ready to work, which I really appreciate. This is his first time being a zone leader and so I am kind of training him as far as all of the busy work that comes with the job, but he is a great missionary. I really like his teaching style and drive to always do everything well.

We had a fairly normal week but we were also able to teach a lot more lessons than usual and had some success knocking doors as well. Nothing major but out of the little things come to pass the big things.

We normally have around 25 people in church and this week we went all out to get people in the chapel. We made invitations and assigned members to visit people and ended up having almost 60 people in church - 5 were investigators and 10 were less active members. It was a happy day.

Well, I just got off of a plane and am in Puerto Montt on my way to Osorno for a big conference with President Obeso and the other leaders of the mission. I am looking forward to the things we will discuss and solve here.

Elder Aidan Rich

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Tacos and Testimonies

This week was really cool. The assistants to the president came down to Punta Arenas for a couple of days and worked along side us, giving us tips from time to time, but for the most part they were fairly impressed with how we are doing things here. We were able to talk about several of the main needs here in the zone and what was expected of us to be able to fix it in a spiritual and edifying manner. I am grateful for such loving and inspired leaders. I felt a special spirit for the duration of their visit and it sparked an excitement for the work that wasn’t there before.

Elder Christiansen and I were able to find several new investigators this week and all of them are progressing rapidly. We found a 13-year-old girl named Amaya (Uh-My-Uh) knocking doors and she is a very down-to-earth person and took an immediate interest in the idea of an eternal family. We went to her house several days later to give her a Book of Mormon and it turns out that her mother, father, and grandmother are all members and none of them even knew that the others had been baptized. They all started laughing because they are all Mormons and didn’t even know it. Amaya took the book carefully and promised to read.

We also had a lot of success with Cesar (less-active member) and Cyntia (investigator). We had left the chapter of Alma 32 and a pamphlet of the Plan of Salvation and she had read it all several times, including all of the scriptural references throughout the pamphlet and footnotes. As we talked about the fall and the decision of Adam and Eve to partake of the fruit she pulled out 2 Nephi 2:25 and said she had loved our point of view on the fall as something that was totally and completely necessary. She began to explain why, but then choked up and began to cry. We let her soak in the Spirit then asked “Do you believe the Book of Mormon is true?” She said, “It couldn’t have been written by anyone other than a prophet of God.”

We are also having a lot of progress with a family from Ecuador and their sons are both coming nearer and nearer to baptism. With your prayers, as well as ours, I have the faith that we can be the instruments unto the bringing of these people to Christ. These baptisms are not only important for the people who are getting baptized, but for the whole zone. We have lost the fire that we once had and are simmering in a more of a luke-warm setting than I would like. I know God expects more of his army of salvation. I humbly ask for your prayers as I search for the Spirit and the necessary revelation to bring not only these investigators, but these missionaries unto full faith in Christ.

Sadly, Elder Christiansen has transfers and I will miss him. I have only been a zone leader for one transfer and I am already training a new zone leader named Elder Griffin. I am now the senior missionary in the whole zone and am in charge of leading out. We will see how that goes.  I am not even the “oldest” missionary here. I still feel so young and inexperienced here in the mission. We have an ambitious goal of receiving all of the new missionaries with a hug, and then throwing them right to the grind. We don’t want to lose the Spirit and progress we have fought so hard to accomplish these past six weeks. It will be hard but it is what President Obeso has asked us to do personally. Again, I humbly ask for your prayers.

We ended the week off with a huge taco fest in our small apartment to try and keep the boys well fed and excited. People were sitting on buckets and the bed and the floor just to fit us all in. We had an improvised and unplanned testimony meeting afterward and it turned out to be a huge spiritual experience. The gospel is so true and it doesn’t matter where you come from. It is felt universally.

With love,

Elder Aidan Rich

Taco Feast with the elders

Elder Rich lives in an apartment that was previously used for children's birthday parties so there are random toys and decorations (like the "Cars" poster) around the place.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Busy Week

This week was totally and completely hectic. Elder Allan F. Packer and his wife came down to Punta Arenas along with President and Sister Obeso. Elder Christiansen and I were running around like chickens with our heads cut off trying to choose a chapel, clean and prepare it, organize a lunch for 24 people and transport it to the chapel (all under 70 dollars,) make sure the missionaries arrived on time, and try to be ready ourselves. Also Christiansen and I are on a pretty strict diet and are waking up at 6:00 ever morning to try and break a good sweat and get a jump on the day.

So Tuesday Christiansen and I prepared a 2 hour meeting where we taught the missionaries how to properly do the daily interviews that we do with each companionship under our responsibility over the phone and answered all questions concerning the visit of Elder Packer. We then shoveled down some lunch around 4:00 and went to one of the chapels in northern Punta Arenas to get plates, bowls, and silverware for the lunch and figure out how to get it into a taxi and over to the Austral (our chapel/ home base). We got it there then went straight back to Ovejero (the other chapel) for our weekly meeting with the stake president to discuss the needs and missionary work of the area. We then met with the stake relief society president to organize a group of sisters to help serve the lunch. We then tried for half an hour to catch a bus back to the house and made it just in time to go to bed.

Wednesday we had meetings all morning with several districts in our zone and we made sure what we had been teaching and applying in the zone was being correctly taught to the other missionaries. We then went and visited the less-active member family that had agreed to prepare the lunch and came to an agreement on the menu and gave them the budget money so they could start buying ingredients and food. We went and visited our relief society president and made sure she had been in contact with the stake RS president and coordinated the building reservations and other details. We were eating lunch around 5:00 when President Obeso called and told us the menu wasn’t what he wanted to eat and that we now had 20 dollars less in the budget. So we booked it over to the less-active family and changed the menu and reorganized what was possible with the money we still had available.

We had just finished that when we got a call from a district leader telling us two of his missionaries had been fighting so we went and figured that all out and then got home in time to call the assistant and give him our weekly report. Then called all of the missionaries to coordinate their interview times with president. 

Thursday, more meetings, confirmed lunch and all the necessary help, and Christiansen and I cleaned the chapel. That’s when the assistant called us to confirm that we had everything ready. We were so proud and confident answering all his questions...until he asked if we had acquired a projector. The one that Elder Packer needed because the whole presentation was electronic? Yeah, that projector. Awesome is the word that comes to mind. So we started calling everybody in Punta Arenas and eventually found one, took a taxi to go get it, and spent an hour trying to figure it out and the best place to put it.

Friday everyone got there on time, and Elder Christiansen and I had an interview with Elder Packer and President Obeso concerning the zone and what they hoped to accomplish with the meeting and what was expected of us after they left. The first half of the conference was awesome and I especially enjoyed sister Packer´s comments on obedience and how important the Spirit is in missionary work. Everything went smooth...until the lunch didn’t show up. It came like an hour late but Elder Packer was awesome and improvised with a spiritual wisdom bomb and blew all of our minds. We ate and then finished up the conference. Christiansen and I had another interview with Elder Packer and President and we then cleaned the chapel once again. After we went and taught our first lesson of the week and did some tracting.

Saturday we had personal interviews with President Obeso, which happens every 3 months. I was the last interview and it was such a spiritual experience. President told me that I had progressed so much and congratulated me on how far I had come. He said that he didn’t say this to very many missionaries but that I had captured the vision and that I just understood. I don’t know exactly what he was talking about but it felt good. He had a lot of really nice things to say and also expressed the amount of trust he puts in me and the results he expects from me. You should never bask in your own glory but sometimes you just need to hear stuff like that and it felt so good. Afterwards, I got to call Elder Greenwood on Sister Obeso´s phone and talk to him for a few minutes. The punk is doing grand and his Spanish is coming right along. The kid is frustrating, but I really really miss him. He is going to go far and be the assistant one day.

Well Sunday was cool and got exciting when a bunch of drunk girls came to do some worshipping. Definitely one of the more memorable sacrament meetings / Sunday school classes in the history of ever.

I love you all. I am now going to go into hibernation and recover from the week.

Elder Aidan Rich

August in Punta Arenas, Chile 

Elder Rich and Elder Christiansen

Monday, August 8, 2016

Update from Chile

Elder Allen F. Packer is coming to Punta Arenas this week and will be talking to the small group of 20 missionaries here. I have been majorly stressed out as I arrange a lunch with a tight budget, audio equipment, locations, schedules, and travel plans. I have to conduct the meeting and have an interview with Elder Packer and President Obeso. Needless to say I am a little nervous.

I love you. Pray for me this week. (Sorry I couldn’t get a better email out.)
Elder Rich

Elder Rich and Elder Christiansen. Elder Rich told us why he hasn't sent many photos lately: "There is nothing to take a photo of because it's always dark!" He also said, "We live in a tiny house and it used to be a place for children's birthday parties, so there are random toys all over."

Monday, August 1, 2016

Ask and Ye Shall Receive

This week was fairly uneventful as far as progress in the work and getting things moving within the ward. There are not very many people who come to church in this ward and so it is hard to get investigators to want to stay and be a part of an empty chapel. The bishop is AWESOME though and we just have to stay positive and keep the members excited and optimistic. I have learned that one can drown out my hurt, frustration and sadness by focusing on the emotional and spiritual state of others. I can be lifted by lifting others.

As a Zone Leader, I am in charge of making sure all the missionaries are giving it their all and that they are all getting along as a companionship. I had the opportunity to help a companionship that wasn’t necessarily struggling, but we picked up on the warning signs. We did splits with these elders and I worked and stayed the night in the area of the other elders while Christiansen stayed in our area with another one of the missionaries.

I was able to help out this new missionary and show him things he can do to stay happy and motivated and maintain the Spirit in his life and in the work. We had ZERO appointments and so I told him we were just going to knock doors for 9 hours straight. So about 7 hours in, things were not going too well. We got shut down quite a few times and weren’t having much luck and I honestly felt a little frustrated with God. Here I am in an area I don’t know as HIS leader trying to fix this problem so that HIS work can go forth and that HIS children could know the gospel and so that HIS missionary could be strengthened.

I looked one way down the street: empty. The other way: not even a good-for-nothing dog. I looked up to the dark sky and just tried to feel what I was supposed to do, wondering why I didn’t already know. The words “Did you ever ask, child?” came to my mind and I immediately knelt down on the pavement at a bus stop and prayed that God could guide me. I stood and just started walking.

We walked for a few blocks when I just decided to knock a door. A Colombian man answered and before we could even say something, he just said come in. We taught him and his wife, who is Chilean, the Plan of Salvation and as I testified about the possibility of an eternal family through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, I felt the Spirit as I have almost never felt it in my life. It wasn’t like some crazy Moses on the mountain experience, but I knew He was there and I know they knew He was there. And they accepted a baptismal date.

Elder Christiansen and I are getting along great. We couldn’t be two more different people, but I think that makes us a good team. We both bring something to the table. We have been focusing hard on exercising and getting up early to try and get him ready for his homecoming because he has less than two months left in the mission...I could use a touch up as well I guess.

I love Chile. It is cold, windy, and sometimes the people are just as cold. But there are also many good people here who have allowed the light of Christ to grow in them over the years by making good decisions, preparing them for the Gospel.

With love,
Elder Rich

"Lemon pie in bed for a sick kid." (Elder Rich has been suffering with impetigo again, but he said that he was able to get treatment much faster this go around.)

"A sweet Rolls Royce here in Chile, who knew?"