Tuesday, September 25, 2012

September 24, 2012

This was such a crazy week. The big parties here were ridiculous. We didn't go to many of the parties and I forgot my camera in the pension and didn't have time to go get it (sorry). That being said, the amount of partying done here was pretty ridiculous. Elder Mikesell is here in the pension with me and he made the comment that even though 4th of July is a big deal in the States, it doesn't even compare to the amount of celebration that goes on here. I thought it was going to be a lot harder to work, but it wasn't really that bad. The people were in their houses and the big thing here is to do barbeques, which was a nice change. I did get sick after the festival for a little bit which sucked, but overall something interesting to experience.

I am so glad to hear that when you went to church in Arizona that the people were really good to you and friendly. That is something that the people here are really missing. There are some people that are really good to say hello to new people, but most just hang out in their own little world and don't do anything. I really can't wait to get home and be that guy that says hi to everyone. It's really not that weird anymore for me. It's interesting to see the difference in how outgoing I am. I am still reserved when I don't know anyone or feel comfortable, but I find it a lot easier to get to know people now, even in Spanish.

This week it was X degrees and it is suppoesd to stay X degrees for the next 10 years....I hate this climate. (Perhaps moreso some frustration with only minor changes in seasons.)

We are not actually sharing the pension with the zone leaders anymore, but it was interesting for a week. Now we are in the pension with Elder Chota (Peru) and Elder Mikesell (from my group in the MTC). It is kind of nice because me and Elder Mikesell actually have quite a lot in common making it really easy to spend time talking. And... Elder Correa is really pushing me to be more obedient because he is a square, but that's a good thing. This week we started pushing hard to find the less actives here and it is working pretty good. However, I am really tired and I got blisters on my feet (it's a good chance my shoes aren't helping), but moleskin is amazing.

Speaking of shoes I bought new ones this morning. I decided to buy boots instead of shoes and I think that it will work out better for me. They should be near impossible to ruin and they were pretty cheap relatively. I will probably keep my other shoes even though they are destroyed, just to wear to conferences because they look better. I took pictures of my old shoes to show you.


Monday, September 17, 2012

September 17, 2012

We had a pretty interesting week for a couple of reasons. First, we had our cambios (transfers) and that is always fun. I spent the whole day with Elder Pope, our zone leader, because his companion left on Sunday instead of on Monday. We did a lot of running around to get everyone picked up and dropped off in time so that they didn't miss their buses.
Then on Thursday we had a conference with President Bruce where he really just talked about us and the work that we are doing in the mission and what our focus should be while we are here. It was really good and I really enjoyed it because it is helping me line up what I want with what I am supposed to be doing in the mission.  That coupled with the studying I was doing last week has been helping me a lot. I kind of made me feel bad because of the lack of success that I am having currently, but at least my focus is shifting in the right direction.
Also, we are heading into the Sept 18 Independence Day and it is a huge deal. In Canada or the States its kind of a small thing comparatively. Here it's like 3 days off work linked with a weekend and the people are just crazy excited. For example, the District here is having a celebration that starts today from 7pm till 10pm and then tomorrow from 8am till late in the night (don't know exactly when). This week should be fun.
I can only imagine that the Chinese wedding dad photographed would have been a little different. I attended the wedding here when I was in Gabriela and it was largely the same, but with the change in culture there are things that are a little different. The Chinese people tend to be a little bit more over the top with their celebrations from what I understand. It sounds like dad got to see a bunch of interesting things though, which is cool.
That kind of sucks that Blaine has to move given that you just finished decorating his room in the last year, but obviously his safety is more important than a can of paint, especially considering what he has been through lately. At least someone moving into the old residence will have a nice room and they and their family can hopefully appreciate it.
I miss volleyball so much. I know I didn't play a lot at home, but even just playing once and a while was nice, and then in the MTC. Here, soccer is the only thing and I think that I am losing desire to play it, instead of gaining it. I don't think that I will ever need to play, or watch, or even hear about soccer when I return because that is all there is here. That being said, I am happy that the Stake Volleyball Tournament went well and that people showed up and there was some decent play going on.
I really wish there was a temple here in Antofagasta. You guys will have three temples (with the Calgary temple opening soon) within 6 hours and we have one temple more than a day's travel away. I am really looking forward to going when I get back. That would be cool if the new converts could go to the temple openhouse. You should think about taking her to do baptisms - that is one thing they say really encourages people to keep active. It is something like 80% of people who go to the temple to do baptisms within 6 months of getting baptized stay active or some kind of ridiculous statistic like that.
With transfers happening, the weeks are always a little disrupted, so it is hard to tell how things are going to go with the work. But... I do know that we are being really obedient and working really hard, even if it is not showing as much as we would like it to. Now we just need to work on working smarter instead of just harder. One interesting thing is that President Bruce defines levels of Key Indicators so we can measure our progress. The indicators are to help us work more effectively and today he changed those key indicators. It is an interesting way to see how President Bruce thinks that we should be working in order to find sucess here in the sector, and in the mission as a whole. (Key indicators are in Preach My Gospel, ch 8 if you want to look it up instead of me explaining it.)
That story was good (Church News - week of August 19/12 - Finish the Race).
Love Jord

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

September 10, 2012

It is transfer day today. I realize I forgot to tell you that last week so you didn't know it was coming, but this is the week for change. It actually came very fast and I kind of wasn't ready for it. The news that I have is...Elder Santos is leaving. I had fun here with him and I feel like even though we had relatively little success, I can say it was a good transfer. I am excited to see what my next companion is like. My new companion is Elder Correa from Uruguay. He is from the same group as Elder Santos, so this is his third transfer. I am looking forward to the opportunity to work with him. I like this because I really like working with people here in the mission for short amounts of time. 

As for the work in the sector, I am not going to lie... I am getting a little frustrated by the lack of success. I have the desire to do a lot, but the lack of people to teach is making it difficult to do all that I want to do. I am really hoping my next companion is really good at getting into doors because I am not very good at it. I am not horrible, but it is not my strength either.

That is cool that you took Blaine and Maxine to Red Deer. It sounds like it was a pretty fun time for you guys. That is interesting about the Bears at the wildlife park in Innisfail being in well known movies and commercials. I never knew that either.

It sounds like the house is going to look a bit different when I get home based on the stuff that you guys are doing. It seems they are pretty functional things so that should be better in the long-run, so I am pretty excited to see everything when I get back.

The thing with learning the language is that I don't want to stop getting better, so I am trying to keep going with the things I need to do to improve. It will be easier to learn here obviously. I find that as I learn new rules and tricks with the grammar and some of the words, I am able to say things in a more efficient manner and get my point across a lot clearer than before. Now people can just listen instead of thinking about what I am trying say all the time.

Anyways... that was my week!

Love Jord

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

September 3, 2012

My Spanish is really coming along a lot better and I am beginning to have people ask me if I am from other Spanish speaking countries. Not a lot because I have white skin and colored eyes, but occasionally someone asks if I am from Spain.

We are starting to move into summer but you don't really notice the change too much - the difference between summer and winter is not very significant. You tend to notice it more during the night than during the day. 

If you want to get an idea of what it is like in the houses here, here is a description. They are built entirely out of concrete and don't have insulation. It is not uncommon to see large softball or melon sized holes all over the house. There is a grate in our pension here, just open to the outside, that is the size of a half sheet of plywood. So yeah, when it drops below zero, the water inside your house freezes. I was actually laughing with Elder Santos this week because the people here think I am amazing because I can walk around without a jacket, but when I get home people are going to laugh because I need a jacket.

That kind of sucks that shortly after you to painted and fixed up Blaine's room that he is going to move to a different pension, but at least it will be safer for him where there aren't stairs.

I have to say that it was really challenging learning Spanish here because the people speak horrible Spanish (Chileanized - many unique phrases, meanings, sayings) and really fast. But... I am kind of glad on the other hand because now when I hear people speaking good (textbook) Spanish, it is really easy to understand. For example, Elder Mendoza who was living in the pension with us is from Mexico and he is so easy to understand. It is the same with people from Peru, Bolivia and other countries here in South America.

There seems to be a lot of action in the wedding scene back home. I don't see much of that here. Lots of people here are just living together and the Government gives bonuses to people who live together instead of getting married, so that is annoying.

I don't think I will get too used to eating as much as I have been here. I may eat more than before (which wouldn't necesarily be a bad thing), but I actually enjoy when I get a normal sized meal instead of a huge one. I have gotten into the habit of eating breakfast though, which is good.

Oh yeah, we had a pension move the other day. We were living here in the pension as the four Elders who work in this sector, but the other two got moved into a pension in the middle of the sector so the zone leaders, who had to move out of their pension, came to live with us which is right near the border to their sector. So it is kind of interesting because we get to see a little bit of the behind the scenes action that happens.

Anyways, I don't really have that much to say, so I'll talk to you guys next week.

Love Jord

PS. 10 months in the mission yesterday.

Hey Maxine, this is Jordan writing from Alto Hospicio, Chile wanting to wish you a happy birthday. I want you to know that I am missing you and all the family here in Chile, but that I know what I am doing is worth it. I hope that this last year of your life was awesome and that the one that is coming is even better. May all your birthday wishes come true and may you have a good time celebrating this time with family and friends.

Elder Jordan McCaskill