7 July 2014
We met President Videla and Hermana Videla on Thursday! I love them already. Their vision for our mission is "Serve with Joy." They also said something interesting. They met us in groups of zones over a period of three days. The first day Hermana Videla was disappointed because the group looked very small. President Videla said, in my best Spanish translation of what I understood, "The room is full. She not be able to see them, but if our eyes could be opened we would see that there isn't standing room because the room is filled with our ancestors who have been called to serve with us." I think about that a lot. Hermana Dodds even remembered I had said something about it the previous day. It was very meaningful to visit graves with Mom after Memorial Day and think about my ancestors the week before I left.
We didn't forget about the 4th here. Hermana Dodds had the brilliant idea to make hamburgers and fries. I insisted on fry sauce. Chileans have a custom of putting mayo in everything EXCEPT ketchup. We will teach them. I sang "God Bless America" while we made lunch. Will someone please watch the John Daker choir version of that song and laugh at it for me. Later in the day we bought ice cream bars, even though it was freezing. The lady who sold them at her almacén (every other house has a mini store called an almacén) thought we were crazy for buying ice cream in this weather. The freezer she kept them in was frozen shut because no one in their right mind is buying ice cream right now. We did. They have wonderful raspberry chocolate bars.
We are teaching more people than I thought possible but I will just describe a few of the best.
We teach lessons to an eleven year old girl who is a recent convert. No one else in her family is a member or even remotely interested in the church. Hermana Dodds is "freaking mad at whoever baptized her" because she didn't receive all of the lessons and has zero support so she doesn't come to church anymore. She has an older brother named Angel. The first time Hermana Dodds called him by his name I thought she was joking because it is such an ironic name. He is the most violent little boy I have never met and he kicks his siblings throughout our lessons. One time we were reading about the Word of Wisdom and we got to the part about the "destroying angel." Hermana Dodds commented, "I know one of those." I may have laughed too hard. Later we were talking about the situation and I was concerned for the tiny little baby brother who lives in that house. I said, "Angels must be surrounding that baby because I don't know how else he could survive there with Angel." Hermana Dodds said she has never wanted to hurt someone so much before. "Angels are holding me back, that's what's happening."
We have met so many atheists. Hermana Dodds says she has never had that happen before in this country of Catholics and Evangelists and she thinks it's because I'm here. When we ask if they believe in God they say, "I believe in science," and I get to say, "So do I! I'm studying neuroscience. I believe in science but more than that I know that God exists." I love explaining why I think science supports, rather than diminishes, religion. I can't wait until I have the vocabulary to do that better in Spanish.
It's hard to get members to come to lessons with us here because everyone works in the mines. They work in turns, for example one week there and one week home. We never know when people are available. Our ward mission leader is completely unreachable fifty percent of the time.
The area is blessed though. We are teaching so many families in which the couples are already married, which is unusual for Chile. Hermana Dodds is so impressed that we keep finding them and it eliminates that challenge before baptism.
I taught Sunday School yesterday. We have a separate class with missionaries, investigators, and recent converts. We only had one recent convert and four missionaries so it wasn't too intimidating for my first attempt. I taught about sacrifice from the Gospel Principles manual.
The other sister missionaries in our ward lost their keys, which had their address written on them. They are getting the locks changed on their house but to be safe they slept at our house last night. We had a slumber party with popcorn, herbal tea, and Liahona magazines. Party!
Dad, I've been giving your nickels to kids. One little tiny girl we met was showing me her collection of Chilean coins which she was very proud of her and luckily I had your nickels with me. She was thrilled to add it to her collection. I've also taken your advice about learning new words. I write down 5 and a verb on a post it note every day to keep in my planner and review while we walk. Also, I think I found the Southern Cross constellation but I'm not completely sure. Send me some info about constellations here if you have ideas about what I should look for. Email a picture maybe?
We always sing before we study. Hermana Dodds chose "Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd" on Saturday and I couldn't sing it because I was laughing about Mom teaching Ian to make sheep noises after, "hungry and helpless and cold." I told my companion the story and we tried to sing again but then neither of us could. We chose a different song. But don't worry, it was the closing hymn during sacrament meeting yesterday...
Until next week!
Hermana Eva VanCott