Monday, September 21, 2015

A Visit from Elder Viñas! ... and an earthquake and Fiestas Patrias

21 September 2015

Hello from Llay Llay! No, I wasn't transferred but I did get special permission from President to visit a new convert here. He's letting people visit less active converts this transfer, sending out a rescue party in a way. I asked for permission to go for a P-day and President, without asking for reasons or details said, "Do it!" Ask and ye shall receive. So here I am in an internet cafe in Llay Llay where we made the man turn down his awful music (he actually put on better music for us), asked to use the bathroom for free, and rearranged his computers so we can see each other's screens. If I were one to use hashtags, this is where I would put one, but with the weird keyboards I can't make it work. So I'll just say that I'm above hashtags and let you use your imagination. 

My friend and new convert in Llay Llay may not be attending church but she is reading the Book of Mormon and we had a good conversation in a plaza. She is expecting a baby in March. I left her with the challenge to think of a good question and watch General Conference to receive an answer. She always has questions and I promised her that she would get an answer from something that someone said or from the Holy Ghost. We talked a lot about the Holy Ghost and she said that she and her little daughter read the picture book that Mom sent every night and that her little girl had it memorized. Adorable. After we finish internet we are going to meet up with her again so I can see her little girl before we go back to Santiago.

I know you're all wondering about the EARTHQUAKE. We were knocking the Abarca family's door and their daughter, Javiera, answered. Her parents were on their way home for our appointment but hadn't arrived yet so we were waiting outside when the whole world started to move and a trailer parked on the curb beside us started bouncing up and down. We huddled in the doorway with Javiera and her boyfriend. This is where I would put another hashtag, by the way. It was the strongest and longest earthquake I have ever felt but neither my companion nor I was afraid. We just looked around with wide eyes and when it ended we wanted more. As long as everyone is safe I think it's kind of exciting. The Abarcas got home shortly after and asked for Dad's name to send him a message and say that we were okay. We had a lot of members call us to check up as well and the YSA leaders even went to our house when they couldn't get a hold of us. There have been several replicas (aftershocks) after the earthquake, including one in the internet cafe just barely, one this morning that I wouldn't have known about if Hermana Souza hadn't woken me up, and several more that have woken me up. I always feel disappointed when I sleep through them so I told Hermana Souza to start waking me up because she seems to be a lighter sleeper.

We celebrated the fiestas patrias in the stake center. It was an all day event with lots of food and games. I wrongly assumed that we would be inside the stake center and therefore got sunburned because I didn't use sunscreen. Hashtag... nevermind. I was the only one who volunteered to challenge a little girl in a hula hoop contest. She was standing there all alone with her hula hoop and her lollipop and the stake president was calling volunteers from the microphone. I can hula hoop forever and everyone in our ward is still congratulating me even though I lost when the little girl got tricky and started spinning in circles. I couldn't compete with that.

The following day would have been a normal proselyting day except that no one was in the street. Not even dogs. All of the people were eating, drinking, and being merry but it's still a mystery as to where the stray dogs went for the holidays. We visited a whole lot of less active members and recent converts and feel more like full time visiting teachers than full time missionaries. It wasn't our favorite day.

The best part of my week was not the 18th. And the most impactful experience was not the earthquake. At our multi-zone conference on Wednesday with the whole mission we had a surprise visit from Elder Viñas, who is in our area presidency. I went to that conference with a purpose and Heavenly Father answered my prayers. I was sitting on the second row because I was part of the choir and he and his wife came and sat right in front of me. It was an unplanned visit and President obviously gave them time to speak. He stood right in front of me, without even going to the pulpit to give his talk and as he spoke I could feel the Spirit and his words were exactly for me. He answered personal questions I have been praying about, touched on things my companion and I have been trying to achieve in our sector, but most of all left us with a feeling of peace, comfort, and love for the work we are doing. He made me feel that everything is okay, that what I am doing is enough, and that we need to keep focusing on the Book of Mormon and the power it contains. My every prayer and even unspoken pleas were answered by Elder Viñas. I felt great peace and have a renewed enthusiasm. It was as if he had been reading my mind for the past year and showed up to calm me and reassure me. As I sat before him I felt the power his words carried as he opened his scriptures and taught us. That man is called of God. I know it. The earthquake didn't bring me to my knees but as I returned home from that conference the first thing I did was fall to my knees with my companion, both of us in tears, and offer a prayer of overwhelming gratitude and love, thanking our Heavenly Father for having sent one of His servants to minister to us. 

Tuesday is our P-day next week, by the way. We are hopefully going to have the chance to go to the temple!

I have fans, by the way! A big hug for Kayla Moon who wrote me after reading my blog and will be arriving in Chile just as I am leaving. I won't get to know you for another year and a half, I am afraid, but you could be companions with one of my companions, serve in a sector I was in, and baptize people I may have walked past without contacting. 

I also met a Hermana Jesus this week from Peru who said she read my blog before she got here. I didn't know there were other people reading my blog until this week but I read a whole lot of blogs before my mission so I assume there are others like me. Hello to all of you future missionaries!  Keep reading Preach My Gospel and especially the Book of Mormon!

I love you all! Have a wonderful week!
Hermana Eva VanCott

Santa Lucia with Hermana Souza

     We started out the 18th with empanadas for breakfast from Yolanda. 
We helped her make them during our dinner hour the day before 
and she told us to pick up a couple on our way to the stake activity.

    Juan making kites.
Celebrating Fiestas Patrias at the Stake Center

Hula Hoop Contest
Spring in Chile!
Visiting Romina

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