Monday, September 26, 2016

Faith to Move Mountains

[I asked Elder Rich what has been the most important thing he has learned on his mission.]

To answer your first question my testimony has really been strengthened concerning prayer and the guiding light it is in our lives. I came to not only know but understand that faith is a principle of action. It is how we take a spiritual idea and turn it into an action which generates yet more faith. Well, I see prayer as the same thing backwards. It is something physical that we do everyday, kneel, and turn it into a spiritual experience by true intent and a broken heart which generates more action. I don’t know if that makes sense to you, but I shared that in a district meeting when I was a district leader and invited the missionaries to kneel and pray together often. That month we were the highest baptizing district in the mission.

I have also learned the difference between feeling a sense of entitlement to receiving of blessings and just trusting that they will come. Another experience that showed me just how much God will help us if we do our part KNOWING He will do his. At the beginning of this month we were in a zone conference talking and all of the sudden Elder Griffin and I started speaking about things that had nothing to do with the plans we had made for the conference. I then said, “Elders, the Lord is ready for us to baptize. No more councils, no more plans, no more talking. He needs us to just go and and get it done. Now, it may take time for you to build the faith you need to make this happen or to develop the necessary skills. But as for my companion and I, we will be baptizing this month. I don’t know who. I don’t know how. I don’t know where. But the Lord will show you through us that all he needs is our faith. You are all invited to the baptismal service.”

Griff and I went home and then started the process of figuring out how in the heck we were going to have a baptism this month. We prayed, started a fast, and then just left the house. There was honestly not a doubt in my mind that we were going to baptize. That first week, nobody accepted the baptismal invitation. The second week we came up empty as well. We were almost through the third week of the month and I was surprised at myself. I was still so sure we were going to baptize and I didn’t know how I felt that way. We weren’t doing anything special in the work, had few people investigating and were swamped with the errands zone leaders have to run. And sure enough, as we finished a lesson with Cynthia, who had told us that she was never going to be baptized, she asked us to baptize her because of the impact the Book of Mormon and our respect for her had on her belief.

I have learned that God isn’t necessarily waiting for us to do more, but do things more abundantly. He doesn’t need us to increase the quantity of work, but the trust we have in Him and the knowledge of his goodness. I knew He would help us baptize. More importantly, HE knew I knew.

This week was amazing. Cynthia´s baptism was absolutely beautiful and so was she. The Spirit was overwhelming and I cried as I heard her testimony minutes after having entered the waters of baptism. She spoke of the love she feels for the Lord and his mercy, and then, without closing the meeting, just offered a prayer of thanks and gratitude so that the Lord knew she was aware of the covenant she had made. It was something a little unusual, but everyone reverently bowed their heads as she prayed and when they once again lifted their heads, there was not a dry eye in the room.

I love God and know that He loves me. The most important thing I have learned is that no matter how much I think I want people to get baptized, God´s desire is infinitely bigger and deeper. He is just waiting for someone to prove that they deserve to be a part of it.

With love,

Elder Rich

Primping for Cynthia's baptism 

Elder Rich and Elder Griffin 

Elder Griffin, Cynthia, and Elder Rich

Wet and glowing

Elder Rich, Elder Griffin, Cesar, Cynthia and their family.

Cynthia is a mature, intelligent scientist and these elders are not, but she's a great sport.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Truth and Independence

Sorry for the late email. The 18th of September is the national Independence Day of Chile and the whole country goes absolutely insane when it rolls around. We actually had to make the sister missionaries be in the house early because of the quantity of drunk people that are in the street. Also, all of the stores, even the big markets, shut down completely for a couple days which means our P-day turned into a lot of hanging out and playing ping pong.

A couple weeks ago, we knocked a door and were let in by a man named Cesar. He told us he was baptized when he was 8 and then when he was 15 was baptized as a Catholic and was working to be a Catholic priest. He eventually got out of that and left to go work in Antarctica for a while where he met a scientist named Cynthia. Long story short, they have been married 9 years now. Cesar has two daughters from a previous marriage and one, Tiare, lives with him now.

So the first lesson went all right and the second was okay too, but they just refused to believe that there is only one true church here on the earth. They didn’t like it very much when we talked about Joseph Smith and they would always tell us “all roads lead to Rome” or “every church is the same.” We even got them to come to church and they bore their testimonies from the pulpit about how the Mormon Church wasn’t the only true church. The members handled it well and just took them in with a “we will work on it” type of attitude.

We taught them a third time and I don’t remember exactly what happened but one of them said something about Joseph Smith and I normally just brush things like that right off, but I just told them seriously that I knew that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that their eternal salvation depended on that knowledge. We asked them once again to read the Book of Mormon and pray and then left. Ever since that lesson, things changed. Elder Griffin was transferred to me about that time and we had been teaching them for about another two weeks when Cynthia surprised us in the middle of the lesson by saying she wanted to be baptized. I asked her why and how she had come to that conclusion. She told us, “You guys never lied to me. All I had to do was read the Book of Mormon and then kneel down and ask God if it was true, and what he wanted me to do if it was.” She was so convinced of the truth that she doesn’t want to wait to be baptized and insisted on the next possible baptism date. Cesar also has a calling as the activities coordinator in the ward and his first activity was a huge success.

So we have been running around like crazy to get everything ready and get this baptism done and then start working with their daughter, Tiare. This experience has helped me to know the Book of Mormon is true, and, just as important, that Joseph Smith was a prophet. I also learned that I cant be afraid to say what I believe and know it is true. When we talk about Joseph or the B.O.M. people spit on us or laugh at us and tell us to take our Mormon god  -Joseph and his bible - and basically just go to hell. But I can’t let that affect what I share. Being ashamed of that is being ashamed of what I believe, covenants I have made, and the very religion I live.

I know these things are true and there is power in standing up for them.

With love,

Elder Rich

I did a division with another elder named, Elder Jacobs. Good kid.

Elder Griffin working hard on party decorations like a true missionary.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Sad Day in Chile

So we had a surprise change in plans this week. President Obeso changed our usual zone conference to Monday instead of the 28th. We were running around like crazy trying to make all necessary preparations and ended up getting everything done on time. We had a good conference until about half an hour in when President Obeso made the announcement that he is stepping down as president and is going to San Diego, California to have an operation because they found a cancerous tumor in his body. He’s in good spirits and the operation should be neither dangerous nor complicated, but his recovery process will not allow him to return to serve as mission president.

We will be receiving a new president in 6 days time and there is no way that man is not special. Normally presidents have months of trainings with the Apostles and are taught about every part of the work. He was given two weeks notice to prepare his personal affairs and be here to help us. They would not call any ordinary person to fill that roll and I am excited. President Obeso will be dearly missed and loved forever for his service.

Elder Griffin and I are getting along very well and have made a lot of progress in our sector. We had many people in church yesterday and several people received new callings as well. I am so grateful for the tender mercies of the Lord and how he works in small yet obvious ways and is very loving in how he helps us as well as how he lets us struggle. I love Him.

Elder Aidan Rich

Elder Griffin (from Alpine, Utah) and Elder Rich

A cool lookout point in Punta Arenas, Chile

Elder Griffin with an INSANE investigator kid pretending to be dead.

This cat is 20 years old. It had cancer in its ears, so they removed them.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

I Guess I'm Staying in Chile....Forever

This past week we had a big conference in Osorno for all of the leaders here in the mission and, being in Punta Arenas, we had to travel for a whole day to get to the main city. We left early Monday morning to catch our flight to Puerto Montt and from there took a bus up to Osorno. We stayed the night in one of my old areas, Ovejeria. It was cool to go back there with my current companion, Elder Griffin, because he replaced me in that area when I left for Ancud.

We were able to visit a couple of families we taught while there and also some of the awesome members who live there. I was especially glad to see the ward´s first counselor, Jonathan Vasquez, and his wife Paula. They were my favorite family and I was their favorite missionary and so the reunion was beautiful. Their financial situation has improved substantially and they are now running a pastry business right out of their own house. I can attest to the deliciousness of the lemon pie, I ate at least half a pie by myself.

We had a great conference and I was able to hook up with Elder Jeria and Elder Cabrera from the good old days in Ancud. It was so good to see those two. After the conference we got in another bus and returned to Puerto Montt where we stayed the night with several very cool elders and ordered Dominos pizza. We stayed up late sharing mission stories and talking about the things we are implementing in our respective zones. I know, nerdy missionary talk.

We put in a good amount of hours this week preaching in the streets and have been doing our best to stay organized and work hard. I was also able to attend the baptism of Fabian Ottencen who is a man that I found while street contacting with Elder Amaya. I was able to help him set a baptismal goal and then I was made a zone leader and left shortly after. I also learned that three of the people who I had found in Ovejeria were eventually baptized. You never know what will happen, you just have to keep planting seeds of faith and truth. We have another conference today with President Obeso here in Punta Arenas. I am so looking forward to that.

After so much travel I decided I am never getting back on a bus, taxi, transfer, airplane or even bicycle ever again. As a consequence I will have to just stay here in Chile forever. Sorry mom.

I love you all so much.

Elder Rich

Familia Vasquez 

Eating at the mall with my companion, Elder Griffin, and two elders from Brazil, Elder Rocha and Elder Ramos

I was able to meet up with Elder Jeria

Elder Griffin and I got to catch up with some of our favoirte families in Ovejeria.