16 June 2015
Here's a deep thought for the day: The metro is like the Spirit World. The feeling I have there is what I imagine Spirit Prison feels like. There are lots of people. Rich, poor, old, young, happy, gloomy, smelly. They're all there. Crowded. Bored. A little confused. A little dazed. In transition. Waiting. No one talks in the metro except to ask if you're getting off. They stare straight ahead but without interest or focus. Waiting.
I like the metro because when you get off, the station is just another name, but then you come up from underground and you are in a whole new world. Today we went to Bellas Artes, a part of Santiago I had never seen before and went to an art museum. My favorite exhibit was one with a book theme. All of the paintings were of people with books, newspapers, or letters. At the end there was a room with modern art made out of books, such as a sculpture made from lab notebooks.
I love art! Last week we went to the Moneda but their big exhibit is changing and opened later. We'll have to go back but I enjoyed the little exhibits and the museum gift shop. I bought a tiny book of art from an exhibit called “Puro Chile.” Hermana Fullmer and I were talking about art recently and I miss my art history class in the BYU art museum, even if it was hard for me. It's not my talent but I like museums and learning about cultures.
Bellas Artes also had an informal exhibit with family photos people had emailed from the years 1880 to 1980. The theme was school and it was full of black and white photographs with captions people had sent. It gave me a real sense of what Chile was like for school children over the past century. The walls full of photos reminded me of a family history commercial the church has. I felt like I was in a 3D version of familysearch.org. The Spirit of Elijah is working in Chile.
We've focused on family history with a few less actives. One woman we have been teaching actually went to a government office to look up information about her parents between our visits this week. It makes me so happy that she is motivated and is taking time to act on what we teach her. She went to church on Sunday for the first time since I got here.
The best lesson of the week was by far the lesson we taught yesterday with the woman from my last letter because we met her husband who is out of the hospital and recovering. This was our fourth visit with her and she is reading the Book of Mormon. Her husband said he's a witness because she has been reading aloud to him. Hermana Fullmer asked her if she was able to pray to receive an answer and she said very solemnly, "I want to be baptized."
She said she has some doubts, though. She and her husband aren't married and she knows that in the Catholic Church that's not allowed. We explained that, yes, she would have to live the law of chastity in order to be baptized. They understood and seemed unsurprised, which is not how people usually react.
We taught about the Plan of Salvation and emphasized some details about the Spirit World because they have lost loved ones recently. Her mom received visits from missionaries for a long time. We explained that her mother is still learning about the gospel and that she, after her own baptism, will be able to do a vicarious baptism for her mother. As we taught about the three degrees of glory she said her mother was always anxious about that and wondered where she would go.
We invited her husband to be baptized and he responded with a very confident, "Yes," as if he had been just waiting for us to ask him. She mentioned that she had talked to her husband about baptism but I had no idea how receptive he would be. We invited him to be baptized on the same date as his wife and he brought the subject back to marriage, understanding that it's a requirement. It turns out that he had wanted to get married before but she didn't. He said, "And now she can't get baptized," as if he was saying, "I told you so. We should have gotten married before." It was kind of a hilarious story to listen to as they corrected each other. I think what we witnessed next was a marriage proposal from her. She asked him if he wanted to marry her. He said, jokingly...I think..., that he'd think about it. Keep praying for them.
Wednesday we found a new family by "coincidence." Every once in a while we have golden experiences with golden families and we leave singing in our hearts, "Unta familia Dios me dio," (it's the beginning of “Families Can Be Together Forever” but in Spanish it says "God gave me a family" which is funny to us because we're thinking of the family of investigators God just gave us). We had to pause in the street to offer a prayer of gratitude. It's the best feeling a missionary could ever have, the kind of experience that makes me want to be a missionary forever.
We had an appointment with an old woman and my companion and I either both wrote down the wrong address or the woman was an angel who appeared to make an appointment for us. We went to the house and the old woman, didn't live there. We talked to a woman who answered the door and introduced ourselves. We set an appointment to come back in two days but her husband heard us talking about Christ and was curious. He told his wife to invite us in even though they were in the middle of lunch (and anyone who has ever visited Chile knows that very few things take precedence over lunch). They all sat down and listened to us. They said they would go to church on Sunday and I had high hopes because they live close to the chapel. We agreed to go with them but on Sunday morning no one answered the door. We taught them again yesterday and they explained that they had a birthday party late on Saturday and weren't up to going early Sunday morning but agreed to go this week. We showed them the Restoration video. Their eight year old daughter wants to be baptized but her parents aren't so sure. They say they want to go to church first and see what it's like. Fair enough.
I was asked to teach district class on chapter seven of Preach My Gospel about learning the mission language. No one in our district is new so my approach was a little different. I had them read the quote from Preach My Gospel about how we shouldn't stop learning the language once people understand us. That quote always makes me laugh because it's so obvious but I think it's worth talking about. We should continually learn and reach beyond missionary vocabulary. Our district, besides us, consists of three companionships of a native Spanish speaker and a native English speaker together. I emphasized how companions should help each other and how as we teach each other we learn more about our own native language. I asked them how many of them had trouble communicating with their families on Mother's Day when we skyped. All of the North Americans. It's not something to be proud of. We need to keep learning and progressing and continue to use what we already know.
There were two nights this week that we had to be inside due to soccer games. Only in South America... On New Year's and Christmas Eve we were allowed to be out later than usual but soccer games are when people really get drunk and crazy. We were locked in the house but every time Chile made a goal we knew. There were fireworks and chanting. We fell asleep before the game was over and still don't know who won but if Chile did that means we will have more days in the house. I think we are the only people in Chile praying for them to lose. Heavenly Father may have to decide where he needs missionaries most this week, Chile or Mexico.
During our time in the house we cleaned up, wrote in our journals, wrote letters, and made pan amasado and arroz con leche. We also did facials that I had saved from my St. Patrick's Day package. Thanks Mom!
Have a great week! Enjoy the summer weather! I can't believe it's summer over there in Utah. I prefer winter, at least as a missionary, so I won't say I'm envious but I hope summer vacation is off to a wonderful start and I can't wait to hear about your adventures!
Hermana Eva VanCott