Friday, March 30, 2012

March 27, 2012

Mis Padres,

I am definitely learning to have more patience here in the mission. I was a little (lot) impatient before my mission with children in...well really any situation where they weren't peaceful. But that is why I am here; to teach and learn, and I feel obligated to say baptize.

It is kind of amazing to me that I have been in Chile for almost 3 months and that before the end of this transfer I will have been in the mission for 6 months. Almost 1 quarter of my mission already. I feel like I have only been here for like, a week and a half, when I look back on it. 

We had 93 people in Tocopilla this Sunday at church, but February is the big vacation month in Chile. Our attendance in February was a lot like yours was over Spring Break. Vacations and pretty much the whole branch went to Santiago to the temple.

I was trying to hold off saying this in my e-mail for as long as a could, but I have so much to say about it and I'm losing time. We had the baptism for Brunilda (age 92) this week and she was pretty much a champion. Also, we had transfers this week and... I am no longer in Tocopilla. I was transfered to the zone La Portada in Antofagasta, into the sector Gabriela Minstral. Elder Revi is still in Tocopilla and should be getting his new trainee today from Antofagasta. I am now with my new companion Elder Valle from  Lima Peru. He is super good so far as I can tell.

The sector is really small compared to Tocopilla. Elder Revi said that Gabriela Minstral is one of the smallest in the mission, if not the smallest, and Tocopilla is one of the biggest, so... big change.

I cried like a little baby when I gave my going away testimony at church on Sunday and it was super hard to say goodbye to the people there. But, I am excited to be serving in a new area and with a new companion to learn more from here. 

We went to visit some of the people who were really good to me during my time in Tocopilla. Well, everyone was really to me, but I didn't have time for that. We visited May-ling (she gave me a towel that I really don't have room for), Rafa and Brunilda (my converts) and one family that is particularly awesome.

I am running out of time here and I want to send some pictures so I'm going to cut this off here. I'm sure you will have questions that I can't think of, so fire away.


Tocopilla, Chile

Elder McCaskill's first baptism - Rafa

Visit before leaving Tocopilla for his new assignment - Rafa, his mother & grandma

Jordan and Brunilda (92 yrs old) - a champion

Thursday, March 22, 2012

March 19, 2012

I'm glad that you got home safely and that the trip was considered a success for you guys. I can imagine what you are talking about with the little kids in your Sunday School class having lots of energy. Being a missionary here, all the little kids love you, and I some of them are really...excited. I really enjoy the kids, but sometimes they scream a lot and that tries my patience a little bit - I'm not perfect. That being said though, they are usually really good and I think that I am a lot more mellow than Elder Revi about it.

It doesn't really surprise me that Chile produces more copper than Arizona because that is pretty much all there is in the North of Chile. Everyone here is a miner or works in the mine doing something. It can actually make it annoying because the usual turn in the mines is seven for seven or fourteen for seven and the people are really hard to plan lessons for. One of the guys that we have taught a couple lessons to works 14 for 7 driving those huge trucks in the mines. He gave us an example of how big the tires were width wise and they are really impressive.

That is really interesting about Maxine (Shelley's sister, Jordan's aunt) needing a hearing aid, and not really surprising. Perhaps she will stop yelling into the phone now.

My foot feels fine now. I have no idea what happened to it, but my tactic of ignore it and hope it goes away worked. Another interesting note - the shoes that I brought that I was wearing before my mission are garbage now. I have pretty much destroyed them. These other ones should last a lot longer though. I may not need another pair of shoes, or if I do, it should only be one. We'll see.

Transfers aren't this week, they're next Tuesday so I will probably find out if anything is changing in Tocopilla sometime this week and be able to let you know on the next P-day.

The thing with Tocopilla and going to Antofagasta a lot is that we are part of the zone Calama, which is another city. Tocopilla, Antofagasta and Calama make a triangle of cities that are all about 3 hours apart. When we have meetings the President just sends everybody to Antofa instead of using his time getting to Calama cause he is super busy. And it is also a nice break to go to Antofa for the missionaries here because Tocopilla is really small.

The Spanish is coming along good and Elder Revi is starting to point out the small things that I am doing wrong because I am not making that many big errors, and when I do I ususally know why. I just have to get used to when the Spanish grammar doesn't line up with the English grammar. For instance, there are times when English makes a verb into a noun by adding "ing", but Spanish never uses the equivalent that way. Sometimes I get errors like that, but I'm learning and I'm really glad that Elder Revi is pointing these out.

About my investigators then:
May-ling and her husband Carlos are the couple that I talked about last week with the two sons and they are doing really good. We have shared a lot of lessons and messages with her and she is super excited about the church. We are having trouble getting her to go to church, but I think she wants to go with her family. He is a little more hesitant to accept the gospel because I don't think that he necessarily thinks he needs to have an organized religion, but just a good religious environment for his kids.

Brunilda is a 92 year old lady that has a baptismal date for this Saturday. She is progressing pretty much without issues. The only thing we have with her is that she kind of forgets stuff until you remind her, but she really enjoys the church and the people there, so we are pretty confident. We are also a little worried that the baptism might be a little much, so we are making plans to have a super controlled situation. We'll get some help so that it all goes well instead of just the usual cold water baptism.

Dorys is an older lady that has a lot of problems in her life, but she knows one of the youth here and we are working with him in order to solidify her resolve. She is coming along and has a baptismal date for the first Friday in April.

Suyen is our last really solid investigator at the moment and she has a baptismal date for the first Friday in April too. She was an interesting girl that we have been working with for a long time. She is 20 years old with a child (this is really common in Chile) and she was living with the father and not married, so she couldn't be baptized. She is really awesome and really understands that everything is true. She was even asking us to baptize her for a long time but we couldn't unless the boyfriend moved or they got married. We have been visiting her since my 3rd week here and she has been super receptive. Well... last week she broke up with her boyfriend and is now going to get baptized. I think that this is good because that relationship wasn't healthy.

We will be needing to push for finding more people to teach in the coming weeks cause we don't really have anyone else.

We are also working with a couple less active members. 

The family Vasart Sanz, which is the picture I sent of all the missionaries at the table with the family. The husband Luis is a less active member and the wife is super active. His brother Hermano Yerko is also a really strong member and part of the Branch Presidency. Our goal is for Luis to baptize his daughter who is 8 and not baptized but has going to church with her mom. Luis is making huge progress to get to that point.

We are also working with the family Morales. The wife is active now after working with her for a while and the husband is looking pretty good for getting back to activity too. This family is super awesome and I really want them to keep going because they have been sealed in the temple and then went less active.

The last family is the family Nievas who are sealed in the temple and are inactive, but we may stopping going for now because they never commit to anything and are starting to be a time sink.


Monday, March 19, 2012

March 12, 2012

We are definitely having super relaxing P days now and it is awesome for us. My foot is feeling better - not perfect, but better and I am planning on giving it all the rest that I can today in the hopes that it gets better still. Mostly I am following the ignore it and hope that it goes away philosophy which seems to be working. I have no clue why it was hurting though.

I am so jealous of you going skiing. That is something that I am going to miss. I haven't even seen rain for 2 months and believe it or not, I really want it to snow. We will definitely need to go skiing when I get home.

That is pretty cool that you got to see the hockey game in Phoenix. I'm sure that you enjoyed that. That's pretty awesome that Mandy and Jacek came down for the weekend. I'm sure that was...interesting. Interesting and fun, I imagine. I have really no idea when you left because time doesn't really exist in the mission - everything that you do is based on a weekly schedule that all points towards Sunday and getting people to church.

I think that the next transfer date is on March 26th. I have actually already been through one transfer but I didn't move. I don't know if I will actually go anywhere soon because it really all depends on what President Bruce wants. I know there are missionaries who have served for more than a year in one sector, so there is really no way to tell.

As far as our investigators go we are having really good luck lately finding people. We think we might be able to baptize 3 people on the 24th with some work, but we have at least one that is a sure thing. We are also working really hard with a family of 4 that we think is basically perfect for the church. We have been working with the mom and her 2 kids - one is 8 and one is 6, but we have yet to meet the dad. She is probably the most interesting for me because she has a really rigid definition of what she thinks a church should be and we are pretty much what she is describing. We have had trouble getting her to church, but she was there yesterday and said that she really enjoyed it. We have an appointment to meet the father this week and if everything goes well with him we will probably be able to memberize the family.

My reading of the BoM (LdM) in Spanish is going really good. I am actually undertstanding a lot more of it than I thought I would. The Spanish was weird this week because I just started understanding most of what everybody was saying. I really hope that doesn't stop because it is really nice. Last week you asked about singing in Spanish and I forgot to answer, but singing in Spanich is basically the same as in English except that I need to go a teeny bit slower. It's just a pronunciation thing and I think that my pronunciation is pretty good.

The meeting in Antofa was awesome. It was really awesome to be able to talk to everyone and see how they were doing. President Bruce did a presentation and let us ask some questions which was super good and really changed my mentality on some stuff. It was really nice to hear the experiences of some people and how they had compared to mine. As much as we aren't supposed to compare ourselves to other missionaries, it is nice to know whether or not you are way behind everyone or not. I think I´m right on track, so that is good. Interesting though, Elder Weeter (Jordan's companion from the MTC who has lost 60 lbs since arriving in Chile) didn't look a lot different, just his suit didn't really fit at all.

If you want to send me something to test the mail system, you could send candy from Canada that I would recognize, such as a bag of that Lindt dark chocolate or Wonderbars. 

I think I have some time before Elder Revi finishes so I´ll share some of the experiences I've had with the missionary work here.

The people here are really nice and most of them really don't like to insult you, so instead of just telling you that they are not interested, they just set up an appointment and don't show up or they make up some lame excuse about why you can't pass by. It is kind of like a token nice act, but is a bit annoying to walk 20 mins across Tocopilla to knock on the door of an empty house. That being said, I think the people here are a lot nicer generally than the people in Canada or the States from my experience.
On a more comical note, the Sister that we live beside has a dog named Andrew and he really likes to follow the missionaries around for parts of the day. This might seem a bit random, but at this moment he is sleeping underneath my chair at the Ciber.

Well, that is really all that I have to say for now... so until next week...


Sunday, March 18, 2012

March 5, 2012

I am so tired this week. Me and Elder Revi were working really hard all week and I was absolutely exhausted last night, but the week has been really good. One nice thing about today is that 2 P-days ago when we went to Calama they really messed up and we didn’t really do anything, so me and Elder Revi decided we not going to travel 6 hours to Calama and back anymore. So… we are able to have a really relaxing P-day and not really have to worry about a whole lot. Besides, in one of his e-mails his week President Bruce tiró un palo (threw a stick) which is like made a backhanded comment about missionaries not following P-day rules and ending on time.

That is cool that you are going to Arizona this week and I hope that you have fun. That really sucks about you hurting your ankle ­- I kind of know what that is like right now. My left foot feels like someone pounded a small nail through it and it is really quite painful at the moment. Not really painful enough to stop me from doing anything, but painful enough that I need to slow down the walking speed sometimes.

Also... oh, skiing. I’m going to miss doing that with you. And probably just miss the snow too.

I have had the thought a couple times as to whether or not Buddy (our dog) is going to recognize me or not when I get home. I want to say obviously yes, but 2 years is a long time. 

With respect to the time, and how fast it is going I feel like this is the fastest that time has ever moved for me in my life. It doesn’t really make sense to me - everyday I feel like the days are super long, but then I look at my watch and like 4 days have passed and I don’t really remember them. It’s interesting to me that at the end of this transfer I will have been almost 5 months in the mission.

It is good to hear that Blaine is keeping you on your toes, so that you can always have that little reminder of me. (We took Blaine – Jordan’s mentally handicapped uncle, out for a birthday dinner at Boston Pizza) I have to say I really miss American style pizza here. They have pizza, but it is pretty terrible and not even close to as good as any of the pizza at home.

The baptism didn’t go on Saturday, but we had it on Thursday this week and I think that it went really well for us. Elder Revi said that people were saying I did a good job on the prayer, but that I almost hit his head on the side of the font. I don’t think that it was that close, but maybe it was.

I have only read the Book of Mormon cover to cover the one time in the MTC, but we are constantly studying it to find scriptures to help investigators. That being said though, President Bruce just made the challenge for this month to start reading the Book of Mormon in the language that isn’t our native language (so I’m reading in Spanish and Revi in English).

One cool thing going on tomorrow is that we are having the newbie meeting in Antofagasta for all the people of the last two transfers. Last week there was one for all the Latinos and this week there is one for all the Gringos. I am pretty excited because I will get to see all the people from my district. I have only seen two so far. Also Elder Weeter has lost more than 60 lbs and I want to see that.

Until next week,


Saturday, March 10, 2012

February 27, 2012

One thing that I am really going to miss for these two years is not having any snow, or anything at all for the matter. Really the only thing living here is trees that have been grown with a lot of effort. Oh, and the other day I saw grass, which was pretty cool. 

That sucks that your furnace stopped working, but good that you were able to get it started again with a bit of effort. Kind of similar to that -they don't have hot water heaters here, but they have this thing called a Califon that uses gas to heat your water. It's not like a hot water heater because there is no reservoir for the water, it's either on or off and the gas comes from a tank like we use for BBQ´s. Anyway, one day it stopped working because someone turned off our hot water pressure, but we got it going again after about 3 days.

I'm kind of bummed that I didn't get to hear Blake´s talk and that there aren't notes but I honestly didn't think there would be. I probably won't have notes either. It´s interesting that he said some of that stuff because when Elder Bednar was at the MTC he talked a little bit about that. Elder Bednar said that faith is believing in what is taught to you, and conversion is living it every day of your life.

I imagine that Austin is pretty excited to go to Quebec and I am really seeing that the calls that we recieve for our missions are inspired choices and that we can do a lot of good where we are called to serve if we embrace it. 

That's cool that the ward has a new member and that she decided to take the plunge (bad joke) after such a long time. As far as how my first baptism didn't. His mom was in Santiago so we pushed it back. We are not really worried about whether he will get baptized, just when. It is looking like we will probably do it tomorrow or Wednesday so I'll let you know how it went after it happens.

Elder López got his new companion, Elder Burnett last week. He is from Utah, somewhere close to Salt Lake and he is fresh from the MTC. His Spanish is really good and he is way farther along than I was, but we all have different talents and I know that he will do really good.

I think Elder Christensen is doing a lot better at home, but I'm not sure about anything other than that (He returned home due to undiagnosed medical issues and will hopefully be able to come back). Elder Revi and Elder López seem to leave us out of the loop sometimes on things like that.

The Spanish is coming. I have never really had any issue with speaking, but I have a ton of trouble understanding people here. It is partially because they speak really fast and partially because it's not really Spanish. Even the Chileans joke that their Spanish sucks, but their Chilean is really good. When I talk to say Columbians, I understand a lot more because they speak a lot clearer.  

I actually finished Jesus the Christ not long after I sent that email and it was a really awesome book. I am glad that I read it as it has really raised my testimony of the life of Christ. Now I have started reading the BoM again, but with a question this time and trying to use this read through to give me insight into my question. It is something that Elder Bednar said to do.

One thing that me and Elder Revi have been doing is teaching the first lesson to some members and we have really noticed that they have been appreciating that. We have recieved some comments that it is really nice to hear the message of the restoration from the missionaries for the first time in 20 years. This is kind of like mission accomplished as far as the vision goes.

Anyways I should go. Have fun in Arizona.