Monday, January 5, 2015

Hello from Santiago!

5 January 2015

Hello from Santiago! Today we're spending our P-day in the big city. I like Santiago. I want to return as a tourist to be able to explore more. It also makes me want to visit big cities all over the world.
On Friday we were in Santiago for leadership council. I saw the interesting university students here with their modern hair and different clothes and I wished I was really unique. Then I remembered I'm a nineteen year old redhead walking around Santiago with a nametag and telling people that God speaks to prophets right now. I remembered that I woke up in San Felipe and traveled to Santiago and I'm on my way to Llay Llay and I'm exploring not just the city, but all of the little towns around it. I'm pretty weird.

Then today we went to the Moneda, which is like the white house of Chile. I watched a group of U.S. tourists following a tour guide and speaking English. What are they doing here? Foreigners. They don't even know how to use the metro by themselves. As I walk around with my Chilean companion it's hard for me to remember that people probably see me the same way.

The thing I am most excited to tell you about this week is that I contacted a nun! I was in an intercambio with Hermana Van der Heyden in Putaendo on Tuesday and as we walked past a building she told me that she heard nuns live there. I told her I have a goal to contact a nun during my mission. Hours later she saw a nun in a white habit and told me that it was my chance. I quickened my pace to catch up with her and introduced myself. She's from Columbia. She travels to other countries and helps people. She asked me what I do. "The same!" I asked her for referrals but she says she is new here and doesn't know many people. She also didn't accept my invitation to visit her because she says she doesn't know how long she'll be here. She did accept our phone number. My next goal is to teach and then baptize a nun.

Hermana Van der Heyden is fun to work with. She has a year in the mission. Hermana Dodds trained her several months before me. She and Hermana Fullmer made a Dodds family tree with the sisters that Hermana Dodds trained and the sisters that we have trained. We taught a young man who has an attitude of a boy king. He lounged on his couch with his eyes narrowed, analyzing what we taught him. Once in a while he would sit up straight to ask us a question. He wore a Ron Paul shirt (Ropa Americana!)

New Year's Eve we kept teaching like diligent missionaries. After visiting everyone on our list we made dinner. Hermana Santander made a "salad" that her family always has on holidays, white rice with corn and mayonnaise. We had another "salad" of pure tomatoes. I made zucchini and we ate tres leches ice cream.

I took some time to look over the goals I had set for my mission and set specific goals to work toward those in 2015. I will spend almost all of this year in the mission. As I was setting goals, the clock struck 12 and there were fireworks!

I realized I have finished 2.5 years of my five year journal. Halfway! It has become my prized possession. On New Year's Eve I was able to read, in one sitting, a piece of every day of the year that is ending and taste 2014 all over again. Little details came back from Christmas break last year, a bad cold, April Fool's Day with my roommates, dates, classes, finals, hiking with Adria, going through the temple for the first time, mission shopping, hanging out with my parents, visiting Bryce Canyon with my family, writing a farewell talk, feeling nervous about the mission, the MTC, seeing Lauren, learning Spanish, copying Hermana Dodds's every move, training Hermana Gómez and Hermana Nuñez, to where I am now with Hermana Santander. It's been a wonderful year!

I am so glad I decided to serve a mission. It has shaped my whole year in preparing before and beginning to serve and I am glad to spend one more year here. My dear friend Emily wrote me this week and asked me about how I decided to serve a mission. I would like to write it in my letter to everyone in case anyone else would like to hear it. 

It honestly started with Preach My Gospel. I started reading it several years ago without any intention of serving a mission. I didn't want to leave home but I liked learning about the gospel and hoped that reading Preach My Gospel would help me learn more and prepare to share the gospel in callings and in my future family. I did have the desire to go but I let other goals, mainly school, dominate my vision of my future. I prayed about serving a mission but I had no "real intent." I wasn't willing to accept an answer yet. Even after the age change I wasn't sure. It did seem like more of a possibility but I am selfish with my time and had other priorities. I continued to pray and began to think more seriously. In November of my senior year I received my patriarchal blessing and it cleared up all of my doubts. I knew I would go. For me, I feel like it was a commandment to serve. Every doubt, every other plan, every hesitation disappeared and I was very excited. I remember a specific prayer later where I asked God if I had interpreted my patriarchal blessing as He intended. I felt the Holy Ghost and had a spiritual confirmation of the decision that I had already taken based on my blessing and my growing desire to serve. To those who want to serve, don't want to serve, aren't sure, have already served, I recommend studying Preach My Gospel. As my testimony of the basic doctrine has been strengthened, I have felt more of a desire to share it. As I learn about the gathering of Israel, the work of Salvation, and the Second Coming I feel that missionary work is crucial and urgent. I realize that not everyone needs to serve a full time mission, but for me it was necessary to understand the role we all have as members of the church and as part of the house of Israel to share the gospel that we have been blessed with. Whether you serve a full time mission or not, you are part of it. There is work to do!

Hermana Santander and I at La Moneda, the White House of Chile
The Islamic art wasn't set up yet but I'm hoping to come back to see it. All of the art is in boxes. We did get to see some art from an exhibit called Saints, Martyrs, and Holy Women.

The museum is underneath the fountains behind me.
After district class and before intercambios we bought hot dogs with Hermana Clark and Hermana Nuñez.

Intercambio with Hermana Van der Heyden in Putaendo

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