Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas in Chile

President Videla, Hermana Santander, and I in our Chile Santiago Norte Santa hats

29 December 2014

Merry Christmas! It was so fun to skype with you and hear your voices. I feel like nothing has changed. I love getting your letters and I can also hear your voices as I read what you have written. And thanks to Adria I get to see pictures of you every week as well. I just feel like I've been spoiled with communication. A lot of the things my companion talked to her family about were things I had already told you weeks ago.

Tuesday we had the conference with the entire mission. We listened to Elder Zepallos and his wife and were able to watch the Christmas devotional. That's when I felt like it was really Christmas because they showed footage of temple square and I got to hear the choir sing some of the same arrangements that I sang with Chamber choir three years ago. THREE YEARS AGO? I loved receiving your letters and Christmas packages. Hermana Santander says that the blue package is the "most Celestial Christmas I have ever seen."

Christmas Eve is a big deal in Chile, bigger than Christmas day. All of the missionaries had permission to eat dinner with members and stay out late... except we're both new to Llay Llay and we don't know very many people. Our ward mission leader had invited us to have dinner with his family and the Elders... except sisters and Elders aren't allowed to eat together. So he arranged for us to come over first and the Elders to come over afterwards...except the Elders didn't understand and showed up to his house early. Hermana Santander and I showed and realized that the Elders had come early. We didn't want to make anyone feel bad so we ran away before they saw us. We are both introverted enough that we didn't mind spending Christmas Eve without a party. We ate tacos and juice in our house and listened to the Christmas music that Mom sent. Later we walked to take pictures near the city buildings with the Christmas lights. My favorite part of Christmas Eve was seeing the stray dogs sleeping in the stable. That's going to be my Christmas card. It just says Christmas in Chile for me.

On Christmas Day we called the ward mission leader to make sure we could still skype at his house and that the Elders had somewhere else to call their families. Obviously he asked us what had happened the night before so we explained it to him. He was upset with the Elders but we explained to him that we were fine. He invited us have lunch with his family instead. We ate with them and then skyped you guys! Although the internet speed wasn't ideal, it ended up being a good thing that we were at his house because I think we needed to talk to his family. He is twenty and he was baptized only a few months ago. He is the only member in his family and his mom is very nice to us but they aren't really receptive to the gospel. He is very quiet and serious and very smart and sometimes we forget that he is a new member. It's kind of weird because we have coordination where he is the ward mission leader and he is in charge and then the next day we have a lesson where he is the convert and we are the missionaries who are teaching him the lessons that he has to receive after baptism. We got to talk to many members of his extended family who were very kind and expressed that they were impressed by the changes they have seen in him. Everyone watched us skyping and told me how beautiful my family is. His mother, who hasn't been very supportive of his desire to serve a mission watched us and told the others at the table, "That's how I'll talk to my son when he's a missionary."

The day after Christmas I had intercambios in my old sector. I stayed there with Hermana Nuñez, my old companion, and Hermana Souza, a missionary from Brazil who arrived at the same time as Hermana Nuñez. The third companion in their trio, Hermana Hernandez, went to Llay Llay. I was so excited to go back and see our investigator. I haven't told Jaylen Dodds yet so I will include... he says he received an answer!!! Hermana Nuñez called me the day after I left Calle Larga and told me. I just started crying, right there on the sidewalk in Llay Llay. I was able to hear about his answer firsthand this week. He said that he had a dream that he was baptized as we had taught him. He added that he saw the baptismal font. I think he called it a fountain.

We had an activity with the Relief Society this week. They had planned to bring treats and just chat but when we showed up at the church they were having Young Women in excellence. The Relief Society ended up combining with them and after a brief program from the Young Women we had treats. The Young Women's president is a twenty-one year old recent convert and is filling out her mission papers. Let me just say that I admire the Branch President for extending callings to the new converts and helping them to have a responsibility. He trusts young people with little experience in the church to lead others who may be more familiar with the gospel. I think it's wonderful. The young women's president's story is similar to the ward mission leader's. She is also the only member and her parents would prefer that she work instead of serve a mission. I got to talk to her and hear her conversion story. She asked if I had always wanted to serve a mission and I told her no. She said that she had wanted to serve a mission since she heard about the gospel. She was always interested in spiritual things and said she even thought about being a nun. However, she also wanted to have a family and wished there was something more short term. When she met the missionaries and heard the restored the gospel for the first time, she knew she wanted to be a missionary. She says that's why she joined the church. 

Today for P-day we went to Putaendo and spent some time with Hermana Moreno, who Hermana Santander trained for one transfer, and Hermana Ward. We took lots of pictures in Putaendo, which I am trying to upload. 

This week I will do intercambios with Hermana Castillo in Los Andes on Tuesday and with either Hermana Clark or Hermana Nuñez in San Felipe. On Friday we travel to Santiago for leadership council with the zone leaders and other sister training leaders. 

I hope you are enjoying Christmas break and doing lots of fun things! Love you!
Hermana Eva VanCott

Both of my trainees
Hermana Santander trying pop rocks on the bus home
Christmas Eve with the decorations from home
I spy a dog. I spy another dog
Putaendo Bridge with Hermana Ward
Llay Llay
Putaendo Bus Stop Graffiti

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