Monday, April 20, 2015

Transfers -- Saying Goodbye in Llay Llay

It was hard to say goodbye

20 April 2015

Where do I start?
A woman we taught in Calle Larga was baptized yesterday!
Elder Oaks came!
I was transferred!

A woman from Primer Crucero (Calle Larga) who I taught for six months was baptized yesterday! There are now Elders in her sector and because I am in the same zone they were able to inform me that she was going to be baptized. I wasn't able to attend, but I wrote her a note on the lovely Easter cards Mom sent and gave it to the Elders at the conference on Saturday so she could receive it on her baptism day. I gave the Elders Dad's email address and asked them to send some photos if they have time.

The conference on Saturday was with the apostle Elder Oaks, Elder Zaballos (who spoke in General Conference), and another member of the seventy who didn't speak and whose name I don't remember. I loved listening to Elder Oaks, Elder Zaballos, and their wives speak. When I see Elder Oaks on a TV screen he seems more serious, although still cheerful. On Saturday, however, he laughed so much. He was telling jokes and cracking himself up. 

I was transferred! Santiago! The Stake is called San Pablo. My zone is San Pablo Oeste (west). And I am in the ward Los Mares with Hermana Young who arrived in the mission at the same time as me (four weeks earlier in the MTC). I am still a sister training leader and will be doing exchanges all over another zone for a change.

 Last Monday was my last P-day with Hermana Santander. We started by going to San Felipe to pick up some photos she printed and started feeling hungry. You know you're a true Chilean when you buy an empanada, start eating it as you cross the street, and then buy a different type of empanada on the other side of the plaza because you finished the first one and you're still hungry. I'm a true Chilean, just like Hermana Santander. Why not?

We went to Rosita's house to make cinnamon rolls with a recipe Elder Gunnell left for the Relief Society after his food for an activity was a hit. Our experiment didn't turn out as well. I called it modern art baking as we tried in vain to roll the sticky mess up and all of the cinnamon sugar and butter sloshed to one side. Hermana Santander agreed, "Yeah, Elder Gunnell's out of style." We ended up throwing the whole mess into the pan without slicing it and putting it in the oven without waiting for it to rise because we were out of time on our P-day. With frosting it made kind of a nice cinnamon pound cake. There's only so much you can do without standardized measuring cups and spoons and insufficient time.

We taught a new couple and they are gold. They are a family we met at another teaching appointment when we showed the "Because He Lives" video. They showed up to visit just in time for the video and told us that they had met with Elders before and accepted a visit from us. They are legally married (YES!) and have three little boys. They have had some rough moments because they lost the husband’s brother and about the same time lost an unborn daughter. They still want a little girl and hope to adopt. We got to know them briefly and talked about our purpose as missionaries. They accepted a baptismal date for the 17th of May. We hadn't even taught Lesson 1 yet. They are such a special family because they feel a need for the gospel, they are actually married, and they have several children, which is not common around here. 

On Thursday I had an exchange in my sector with Hermana Castillo. It was a spectacular day and when I found out that I would be leaving the sector I had to leave all of the addresses and information from that day with Hermana Santander. Later, however, we learned that Hermana Castillo will be taking my place in Llay Llay. I'm very happy about that. Revelation.

With Hermana Castillo we taught  the new couple Lesson 1. Before we started we had a conversation that went like this:
Me: How are you feeling about your baptism on the 17th of May?
The wife: Great! We were talking about it last night. My husband is very excited.
Me: How about you?
The wife: I feel a little bit... I don't know...
The husband: Scared.
The wife: No, not scared. Anxious. Anxious to see how I'm going to feel on that day.

We taught the Restoration and explained about prophets. The husband had said, "Oh, now I understand! I always wondered what the difference is between a prophet and a pope. Now I know that the pope is chosen by men but a prophet is chosen by God." Later we taught about the First Vision and I asked them if they believed that Joseph Smith was a prophet. The wife gave an immediate, "Yes!" The husband looked at the First Vision photo in the pamphlet, pondering for a moment. "Yes," he said, "this is when Joseph Smith was chosen by God."

The pictures in the pamphlets are not just to make them visually interesting. They are so helpful in teaching. We have had several great experiences with the First Vision picture lately, like I wrote about last week. I also like to use together the one of Christ ordaining an apostle and Peter, James and John ordaining Joseph Smith to explain the restoration of priesthood authority to the earth. We use the picture of Christ's baptism to explain why we don't baptize small children, why we baptize by immersion, and that someone with the proper authority, like John the Baptist must perform the ordinance. The gospel has never been so clear to me as here on a mission as I seek to explain the doctrine I've always believed. Future missionary tip for Jacob, Adria, and others: Get a copy of the pamphlets for Lessons 1, 2, and 3. Learn how to teach those lessons.

We had an assignment in Llay Llay to seek out the youth in our sector who aren't enrolled in seminary. Hermana Castillo and I went to the address of a fourteen year old less active we had never heard of before. She wasn't home but we were able to teach the rest of her family. Her mom and twenty year old sister are also less active and her father is not a member. As we talked, the mother had questions about what happens after this life. She commented, "No one knows because no one has come back to tell us about it." Hermana Castillo knew just how to respond to her question. We showed them the "Because He Lives" video. Christ lived, died, and was resurrected. Someone did come back from beyond the grave because He did. Because He lives and because He speaks to living prophets in these latter days we do know in great detail what happens to those who have died and what will happen to all of us. The mother and daughter both attended church yesterday and the daughter met the seminary teacher.

The couple we are teaching that I wrote about last week did not accept a baptismal date. The wife thinks it's too soon and said our invitation startles her. I'm glad she's honest. The husband had read the Plan of Salvation pamphlet we left and remembered enough to make us believe him. "There's life before and after this one." He especially loved the scripture quoted from 2 Nephi 2:25. He thought it sounded very philosophical.

I knew a transfer was coming but even so it's hard to leave. The first person I told was the convert who lived near us and she cried. I just love her so much. Who knew that I was going to make friends with people a couple decades older than me and that it would be so hard to say goodbye.

Later we visited our new member. She is praying for something to happen so I can come back to Los Andes and serve in San Felipe. We'll see... It was hard to say goodbye to her but I really don't feel like it's the end. I hope I can visit Chile again someday. Even if I can't, I'm really excited for the Millennium!

Sunday was when it really hit me. I love the Llay Llay branch and all of the members. As I sat on the stand, playing their little keyboard, I started crying through the opening hymn and announcements. I was able to look out at the congregation and see so many people I love so much. On Saturday Sister Oaks talked about her mission and told us, "The people you teach and help will belong to you all your life. They will be closer than family. You will be friends in a way only Christ can." 

Sister Oaks also said, "You may think you are only converting a few people. The Book of Mormon says that you will bring thousands of people to repentance. It does not say baptism." That was helpful to me as I thought about the sister in Calle Larga being baptized that weekend. I wasn't there but she and the people of Calle Larga will be my friends forever as will be those I have come to love in Llay Llay.

I look forward to a new chapter with Hermana Young in Los Mares in the zone San Pablo Oeste. Hermana Young is a twenty year old missionary from Missouri who attended BYU-I. She and I arrived in the same group. We have six other sisters in our group that I will get to know in exchanges. Hermana Young has been here for five transfers already (she has been in Los Mares since her training ended) so I assume we won't have much time together and we'll have to work hard these six weeks. Also, she's gluten intolerant so... either I won't be eating bread or I will be eating bread all by myself. Hermana Garcia left a plate of cookies that Hermana Young can't eat so... I helped myself. 

Hermana Eva VanCott

More Goodbyes
Baking on P-day with Rosita
My companion can juggle
Last zone picture with Los Andes
Hermana Garcia, who I am replacing. Hermana Garcia was in my ward when I arrived in Primer Crucero. She's flying home tonight!
My new companion, Hermana Young

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