Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January 30, 2012 - Almost one Month (in Chile)

It doesn't feel like I have been gone for a month yet, the time in the mission is so weird that way. If this keeps up, and I hope it does, this mission isn´t going to last a really long time. That is not to say that I want the mission to go quickly, but I don't want to ever feel like it is dragging on. The key is for me to continue to work hard. I haven't really had any sort of culture shock or anything because that isn't really my way. It was pretty overwhelming at first (like 2 or 3 days) but there is really no point in wasting time to get into the work and it doesn't serve a purpose to be all depressed. There are definitely parts that are not my favorite, but I just move past those things pretty quick.

We probably won't have any western food except for the typical hamburger, pizza, fries, hot dogs - that kinda stuff. I am not expecting to have steak here (just the first day I get home :) ). There definitely is seafood here but you don't eat it all the time. It's roughly equal with how much you eat all the other types of meat, so not really a ton, but it is really fresh and really good. I am eating as balanced of a diet as I ate at home I think. I have not been eating too much extra fruit and veggies other than what is in our lunches, but today I think that I am going to buy avacado to put on my bread in the morning instead of jam, so that should be pretty good.

That is cool that dad did a photoshop course and is looking to get the new Photoshop software (will be fun to play around with when I get home). 

That sucks that Spencer got his report date delayed, but with his job opportunity it might turn out good for him. I know they have really bad luck getting visas some places like Brazil. I got lucky not needing to do it until I got here.

For our last P-day one of the members had a big van so we just went with him. The trip to Calama on the bus is about 10$ which I think is pretty good. The P-days like that are fun, but they take up a lot of extra time. We were going to go to Calama again today to play soccer, but we didn't get tickets so we didn't go which I'm kind of glad for.

The Internet here is pretty much only done through Ciber´s (cyber cafe´s?), but they are everywhere so it's not that bad. It´s a little over a buck an hour so it's really cheap. I'm not really sure what percentage of the people here have computers, but at least in Tocopilla, it's less than at home. We are not allowed to use member's computers anyways, so its not that important to me at this point.

I have been writing in my journal everyday. Not a lot, but it will be something to spark my memory later.

We actually didn't do a lot of proselyting this week, so I don't have anything much to say about that. We did have the opportunity to do a big service project this week. We were at the home of hermana Isolina to build the wall so that we could move in and it was really fun. For about a day and a half I got to do construction stuff and I had so much fun doing it. It was a nice break from the regular routine and it was something that I had quite a bit of experience in so I really enjoyed the challenge of figuring it out and building it.

That being said, we finished that project up on Friday night and spent Saturday moving into the new Pension. It is so much nicer than the old Pension. There is some stuff that we still need to do to get it totally ready, like buy a shower rod and they are getting shelves built in our room today. It is about double the size and once we get the mess cleaned up it will be so much better.

I am working on getting pictures into my e-mails but I don't have a ton of time and necesito comprar un cable para mover mis fotos a la computadora (Oops, switched to Spanish and didn't notice?? Translation: I need to buy a cable to move my photos to the computer), but with my limited time and Revi´s detest to do anything other than teach, I will have to make time to go do that.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Monday, January 23, 2012

I am actually having a lot easier time with spending money here than I was at home, because here I know exactly when and how much money I am going to get and so it is really easy to budget for. We get 85000 Pesos a month and nothing more... so we have roughly 20000 a week with some wiggle room. I find that my weekly spending on food is usually less than 10000 so spending 6000 for one lunch, every other week is not that bad. Plus, if I don't spend the money by the end of the mission, I lose it... so there is no sense in hoarding.

There are some small restaurants in Tocopilla, but with the momita you really don't ever feel like going out. There is no fast food in Tocopilla because of how small it is, so that isn't really an option, unlike Antofa. The lunches are almost always a soup, followed by a meat and startch and then dessert. Plus there is usually fresh tomatoes and cucumbers just cut up to take, if you want.

There isn't really any odd or adventurous food as far as I can tell. If there is, I haven't had it yet. It's usually chicken, pork, cut up hot dogs, beef or something along those lines. I am really, really, really enjoying eating a bowl of cereal every night, but that isn't all that interesting. Most of the food I eat I know what it is... and if I don't know, I try not to find out (which is really easy in that I can't really understand conversations yet). That has been working really good for me so far. There were two desserts that were really good, one was semola or something like that, with dulce de leche. The other was fruit topped with this stuff kind of like liquid marshmallow, which was homemade.

The Chilean people are really awesome. Most people, especially the members, are super nice. Even if they don't want to hear our message they are usually nice. It is annoying when they don't want to hear your message at all, but they tell you that they do, because it just wastes your time. But, I guess we are rewarded for the work regardless.

The people that we are teaching are generally high school age or older. We are teaching a brother and sister who are 17 and 16 respectively. We are also teaching a girl who is 13 and both of her parents are ok with it. That is one thing about the people here is that even if the parents are completely uninterested, they often let the kids learn it if they want. I think this is a little a-typical to what we are used to. Me and Elder Revi are having really good success with our level of hard work and I am trying to follow the schedule closely which I think is doing me good. We have already had some experiences that have proven that we are doing the right thing.

The whole region is dry but because most of the cities are coastal there is humidity, so it is really nice. I haven't had any issues with dry skin or cracked lips thus far. I already have a tan from my collar and it looks really stupid when I wear a regular shirt, but all of the missionaries have it so w/e (whatever).

The people's houses are really nice, but I am getting used to a different level of clean in the pension. However, we may not have to deal with that for much longer because we might be moving to a member's house which is really nice.

I don't know if I really meant to mean that my budget is really tight, it's just not excessive. You can live comfortably on it and do some stuff, but it is modest cause you are a missionary. The exchange rate is about 500 to 1. For example, cereal costs 1200 and 1 litre of milk costs 850 so I don't really know how that compares to home, but the dinner at TGI Fridays was about 12$. That probably would have been about $15 or a little more at home, plus the dessert. But I think the McDonalds in Antofa was more relative, so I don't know. I know that batteries are really expensive relatively, but that is about it.

I am getting a lot better at understanding people. Elder Revi always says that I can speak really well (I have trouble conjugating verbs, but that is just practice) and that I have really good pronunciation (which was something I worked really hard at), but that the understanding is really hard because the Chileans speak so fast. However, we were teaching a lady from Columbia and she was speaking a lot slower and I was able to understand her a lot better. When I first got here all the sentences sounded like big words, but now I can pick out most words and the trouble comes with putting the meaning to them. That is difficult because there are a lot of sayings that don't translate, like "sorry" which is "lo siento", but translates to "you I feel" which doesn't make any sense until you know what the intention is and then you can figure it out.

The visit with Alexis Sanchez's mom was really just social. We answered a few questions about our beliefs and tried to set up a few appointments to come back which fell through so we gave up, which isn't good or bad... just life.

We had a really cool P-day today. We left for Calama which is 3 hours away and where our zone leaders are. Tocopilla is kind of in the middle of nowhere church-wise, it is a branch that is not part of a Stake to put things in perspective. Anyways, we left early in the morning to go see some geyser/hotsprings, kind of like Yellowstone and then went to this little tourist town called San Pedro de Atakama and went to do some sand boarding. It was pretty fun, but super tiring so I didn't do that many runs. You have to walk back to the top every time and I really didn't want to get hurt. Now I am in Calama waiting for my time for the bus to leave for Tocopilla (10:50 ish) and writing this e-mail.

But... the coolest thing that happened was on Saturday. We were having a really slow day and not really having much success and about 7 Elder Revi said we should go to a specific family for like 15 min and just share something with them. The lesson was really spiritual and powerful for being so short. We talked a little about the preisthood authority and on prophets and at the end the daughter was crying, I believe from the spirit. The mom gave us the name of a kid in the hospital and asked us to visit so we said alright, left and went on with our day. About 9:30 I asked Revi what time we could go to the Hospital in the morning to visit the boy, so we went to check at the hospital. When we got there one of the members was in the lobby of the emergency room and we asked what was up. It turned out one of the members was in there for low blood pressure (not serious), but we showed up and they were like "Who told you she was in here?"  and we said no one. That was really interesting. Then we talked with the mother of the boy and went to go give him a blessing in the morning.

I've run out of time and can't send any pictures but I will try really hard to get those for next week.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

January 17, 2012 - Sorry for the Delay

Sorry that this is a day late but we were in Antofagasta yesterday from 7 in the morning until around 10 at night because we had to go to do interviews with the Mission President. On the plus side we went to T.G.I. Friday´s and I got to eat a cheeseburger with fries and a brownie and it was awesome. It cost as much as this week's groceries, but it was awesome.

I have been trying to take pictures when something cool presents itself but I really haven't taken that many because we are pretty much always busy and Elder Revi doesn't like it when we stop to take pictures. It says not to look like a tourist in the manual, but I think that stopping to take a picture every now and then is probably alright so I'll try and get more. I will try and get some on the computer next week if I can but the computers we use are not the best and the internet kind of sucks.

It is a lot of walking but I am getting used to it. We walk everywhere in our sector and have no access to bikes.Our sector really isn't that large but the people here have almost zero sense of scheduling, so our appointments don't happen a lot. It is really different because you will go to an appointment that you set up and the people won't even be at the house. Then sometimes you  just stop by and share an hour long lesson, so it is really weird. As a result though we end up walking alot. There are three cars in the whole mission and all of them are in Antofagasta, used by the President, his wife and the AP´s. There are collectivos here in Chile which are like taxis that we can use, but usually we only take those once or twice a week for a special reason. They are really cheap though - its 1$ a person for anywhere within their route, but we just walk most of the time because our budget isn't huge.

I have not been sick at all, but sometimes in the mornings I get cramps until I...well you know, but its not that bad. I'm trying to be as clean as possible and I don't think that's bad. I am indeed taking my vitamins. I have taken them almost everyday since I left home and they are really good (he took adult gummy vitamins.), so sometimes I take an extra (smilie face)(Curse you Spanish keyboards and language setting). 

I know that you wanted me to take some pictures of some bugs here (dad) and send them home, but there is really nothing here. I am in the middle of the driest desert in the world and nothing grows...nothing. Within the city I have seen about 4 cockroaches and really nothing else. There are people... and because there are people, the dogs live here alright... and because there are dogs, there are flies... and that is really the end of the food chain. They say that nothing lives in the desert, not even snakes or bugs or anything. There are no cactus in the desert or anything and I am not exaggerating.

That's cool that you got a new calling (teaching 5 year olds Sunday School) and that you are enjoying/thinking you are going to enjoy it. Also, make sure that dad keeps in contact with the missionaries because a ward mission leader that stays in constant contact with the missionaries is a really big help, especially for setting up stuff like splits and lessons with members.

Currently we have the potential to be teaching about 10 people because we were working really hard last week and got 8 new investigators. We will have to see how it is going to work out this week, but we have one with a date who is going to need a lot of help. We also have a group of kids that we are teaching and some of them look pretty good. It is interesting that at home the adults tend to be the ones more open to the message, or at least the ones that are a little older. Here, they tend to be the ones who are like "I´m a Catholic and I don't need your religion" and the youth are usually the ones who except it most easily. Obviously there are exceptions, but that is kind of a general statement.

I don't know if I told you this, but there are two companionships here in Tocopilla. One was here before along with his new trainer so they continued with the existing contacts. Me and Elder Revi are new to this area so we had to start from nothing, so we feel like we're doing really good. It is interesting that at home when I would do well at something, I would just kinda coast on that, but here I feel like if I did that good last week, I kind of need to do better this week. This is the vision of President Bruce and the whole mission which is good, but it is just interesting.

This week we had the opportunity to go to Antofa(gasta), like I said above, which was really cool. We got to see the APs, have our interview with President Bruce and see the mission office, which was Elder Revi´s last area. He was secretary. He still proselyted, but he was in the office during the days. The temperature in Antofa is so much nicer than here in Tocopilla, but I am getting used to it so it's not that bad.

Last week I wanted to tell you this, but I forgot. This is something you can share with Jacek that he will probably think is cool. The other week we had an hour long sit down with Martina Sanchez who is the mother of Alexis Sanchez. If you don't know who Alexis Sanchez is, he was born in Tocopilla and plays professional soccer for Barcelona. We were able to spend some time talking with his mother and she is super nice. We walked in and there were pictures of Alexis everywhere and Elder Revi started asking questions. It turned out it was his mother. I had no idea who he was, but it was still pretty cool for me because football is so huge here.

We went on P-day and another day to go play football with the young kids and it was pretty fun having my butt kicked by 12 year olds. One of the kids that we played with is 17 and I think and he plays for a local professional team, here or maybe Calama, which is pretty close.

Also, yes the time is passing quickly. I am really trying to get lost in the day and not worry about time and stuff. Elder Revi made a comment that an ordinary missionary counts the time and an extraordinary missionary makes the time count. The saying for being ready to go is trunky (when you are packed and ready to go home). It is interesting that the missionaries who are trunky, their missions last longer than those who aren't, not literally but figuratively. So, the more I want to go home, the harder I have to work, and the more I want to stay, the more I will work.

Until next time...


Monday, January 9, 2012

January 9, 2012 - First week in Chile

This week was really good and I am really excited for the work to continue. I don't know if you could really tell, but Tocopilla (Jordan's current location), and pretty much every city in our mission, is surrounded by mountains with the sea on one side. So, you are walking uphill pretty much all day. My feet are really killing me. We get 30 minutes to work out everyday and I have been spending 15 minutes massaging my feet out.

Yes, President Bruce is pretty tall. I don't know if he is taller than me because I am terrible at judging heights and ages, just awful, but I have yet to see anyone taller than me. I am like 5 or 6 inches taller than the tallest person in our ward here if that is any help to judge by.

The travel office was awesome. If the guy (I wish that I remembered his name) hadn´t been there I'm pretty sure that we would not have gotten a flight that night. (Due to delays, they missed their flights from Santiago to Antofagasta.) We were told not to accept help from the locals at the airports and so we were skeptical to get help from this guy. But then one of the Elders saw, as Elder Christensen calls it, "The Eternal Smile" underneath his dress shirt and we knew we were gonna be alright.

It is looking like we are going to move into a larger residence with one of the members because the pension is super small, but we will all probably still live in the same place. I think the member has too much space so we are going to build a wall to section off the house and then rent that part of the house. I am really excited to get this arrangement if we can because the members love the missionaries and this house is way, way, way, way, way nicer than the pension we have now.

Elder Lopez is from El Salvador and Elder Christensen (just so you are aware, there are 3 in the mission) is from Wyoming.

Here in Chile you have two mamitas, one for laundry and one for lunches (in this sector it is the same person) and you pay the laundry one like 20$ a month and you pay the lunch one like 80$ (American) and it is awesome. You get a big lunch every weekday and then eat lunch with members on the weekends. In Chile there is really only one meal, lunch, and you eat a ton. All that I really have in the morning and night is some bread and drink some juice or milk because the lunch is like a 3 course meal, always. And for laundry you take it on Friday it comes back cleaned, pressed and folded, AWESOME.

It is interesting that you talk about the architecture here because I was just talking about it yesterday. The houses here are the textbook examples of don't judge a book by it's cover. The yards here are pretty much non-existent and so you will not see a lot of effort put into them because they are small and nothing grows. You will see the metal paneling and the streets are really terrible, but when you go inside the houses they are beautiful and clean.

The members here love the missionaries and I would say that the members are nice, but really it is mostly just everyone here is nice and the ones that aren't usually just ignore you. The congregation was about 40 people and I had to bear my testimony (obviously) and the people were telling Elder Revi that even though I couldn't understand them, that they thought my ability to speak was really good. Plus, the people here aren't like in America where it is considered rude to correct people, they do it all the time because they want you to be right and it is really helpful. I really enjoyed church because even though I could not understand anything, once I got there everything was the same as at home.

The language is coming and I really want to understand people so I'm trying really hard to listen, but they talk really fast here. Like REALLY fast, even Elder Revi says so (and Spanish is his native language - Argentinian). I can pick up on the flow of the conversation a little better now, but I am terrible at understanding questions.

The shopping here is not that bad since you barely need to cook anything yourself, but it looks like they only shop once a week and get everything that they need. We are not really allowed to buy food from the street vendors, but Tocopilla has a grocery store so i'ts all good. The bread here is really good and people eat it with every meal. It is a little denser than at home so it holds up a bit longer. And the juice...oh, the juice here is amazing. I bought some apple juice here and it tastes exactly like I'm eating an apple, and all the juice is like that so I'm going to be just fine. Also, I have yet to have a meal with the people that I did not enjoy.

Also it is really hot here. The temperature is not actually that bad, but the sun is intense. It is not too bad though cause everyone in the city just goes in from like 1 to 4pm to eat and take a break, so we just eat and study at that time. The temperature is also really dependant on the wind because it makes a huge difference.

I really do have a lot more to say but I have to go now.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

January 5, 2012 - First few days in Chile


We arrived in Chile on Tuesday night at 11 pm because our plane to Santiago was delayed and we missed our plane to Antofagasta. Regardless, there was someone from the travel office there and he got us new tickets for a plane and we were able to get to Antofagasta without any worry.

They put us in a hotel overnight which had the nicest shower I have ever been in, which is interesting considering that this morning I was in the worst shower I have ever been in.

Met our trainers yesterday morning which was cool and then they put us on a bus to the city we are serving in. My trainer is Elder Revierego from Argentina. He is fluent in English but he is speaking only Spanish which is good. We arived in Tocopilla (pronounced toco-pee-ah) and went to the Pension to get settled in a bit and then Elder Revi and me went to meet the Branch President and one of the members, from which we were able to meet a potential investigator.

I believe that we are not supposed to say anything bad about anything here on the mission to the people at home so I'll just say that the Pension is... different than home. That being said, I am just trying to take it in stride and not get too hung up on anything so that I can focus on what I need to do. On the plus side though, my bed is really nice and I don't have to do any laundry.

After we taught those two lessons we went to the store to buy some food for the evening and the morning...I had no idea what to buy so I got some eggs, juice (really good) and milk (not the same as in Canada) and I was going to get bread but they were out so I didn't get that.

Elder Revi is really cool and I am glad to have him because he is passionate about the work and he has a sense of humor.

We are rooming with two other missionaries, Elder Christensen (6 weeks) and Elder Lopez (longer than 6 weeks) and they are really good too. Elder Lopez snores a bit, but after rooming with Elder Weeter for 9 weeks I can handle that.

I know that I am going to miss English while I am here, but just seeing how much Elder Christensen knows after 6 weeks here I have a lot of hope. I know you are going to ask so I'll let you know that I can understand about 1 in 50 words of the locals so that is good, I guess. I feel like an idiot when I talk, but the locals here are super nice so they try really hard to listen. Elder Revi made me introduce myself yesterday to the member family and they at least understood me.

President Bruce is really energetic and goal and success oriented, however he is really realistic. He was saying that before he got there, they had about 560 baptisms in a year and were the second lowest in Chile for baptisms. Then he made the push when he got here and last year they finished with more then 1000 baptisms and as the highest baptising mission in Chile. He is optimistic to do more this year.

I am super overwhelmed with this because it is not like a vacation at all. I have been dropped into a country that I know only a fraction of the language, I don't know any of the food, I don't know how to understand anyone and I am doing a job that is communication based and don't feel appropriately trained for it.

That being said...I am way too stubborn to give up, so until next week...

Love Jordan

*Oh just so you know my P-days are on Mondays so that is when you will get your E-mails from now on.

Monday, January 2, 2012

January 2, 2012 - On route to Chile

Jordan left the MTC this morning for the mission field. He was one of 8 Elders going to Antofagasta, Chile. We were able to speak to him during his layover in LA. He indicated that the time at the MTC was busy, learning intensive and flew by quickly, but he was ready to head to Chile. They will have a lengthy flight to Lima, Peru, arrive late and continue on to Santiago and then Antofagasta in the morning. The adventure continues...

We have updated his mailing address in the right column of the blog. Letters can still be sent through DearElder.com by selecting his mission (Chile - Antofagasta) and filling in his name. They are collected and couriered to Chile once a week. We expect to start receiving Jordan's emails on Mondays.


Sunday, January 1, 2012

December 31, 2011 - Two more sleeps!!!

Sounds like Christmas for you was eventful and interesting. I would pay to see Maxine play the role of Santa Claus - I bet that was awesome. They did indeed have all the trimmings on Christmas, but it was a lunch and not a dinner. Then we had a sack dinner which was actually pretty good.

I'm glad that you enjoyed the extended Christmas story. I did as well.

It's weird but the holidays and birthdays don't really seem to matter as much since I've been here. Don't get me wrong, having Elder Bednar preside over your Christmas sacrament meeting was amazing and an experience I may never have again, but it was kind of like, wow it's Christmas - that was fast.

I don't know about you, but this has not felt like 2 months of being here. It is so wierd that I am already down by 1/12 of my mission.

This week we had something called in-field orientation, which is why this email is a day late. It was pretty cool. We had a full day of lessons on planning and setting goals, finding people to teach by street contacting and talking on busses and stuff (not that I'll ever be on a bus), as well as involving the members, the ward mission leader and the bishop in everything you do to make your job easier. It was 12 hours long, but I really enjoyed it.

Also can you let Grandma know that I love getting letters from her and reading about what is going on, but if she keeps sending them to Robert McCaskill she is really going to confuse my Mission President.

Well, I guess my next e-mail will be from the field.