Monday, October 13, 2014

Ben told us he sent a letter but forgot to put in his SD card. He says he's working on another.
"I have constantly been thinking this week about what I am doing with my time. It has certainly made me a more urgent worker. We contact more and our lessons are more focused. We have improved, but there is more work to be done. We have both become better disciples of Christ with more urgency in the work.

I am still getting to know the sector but I am getting to know the people well. There is a lot of potential in a lot of them. There is plenty of work to do here.

We did several acts of service this week. We helped an old couple with their patio and we also went t oEl Bosque to clean out a house in El Bosque but the owner is a hoarder and bailed out last minute. She didn't want us to throw her stuff out. At least we tried."

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Training is done, Ben is a zone leader

Apologies for taking so long to post this. Ben also sent a post last week, but it is very long and needs to be transcribed.

Ben was transferred to a new area, which was not unexpected since he was finished training the new missionary and he had been in that area for over six months. In addition Ben is now a zone leader. (The mission is divided into several regional zones each headed by a pair of zone leaders who are responsible for training and general welfare of the missionaries among other things. Each zone is further divided into districts.)

From his email:

Referring to the Tioga soccer team: It looks like this will be the year for a winning season.

I am glad that Liz and Luke and Gabe are doing alright.  I am out of time again.  It goes by so fast writing home.

I was very humbled yesterday. In addition to leaving an area that I fell in love with, I lost my journal. Hopefully I left it in the office and not on the bus. There's more of a chance of it finding its way back that way. It made me realize that I don't have a single possession more valuable than my journal. The records of my time serving the Lord and the people here and learning and growing as a person are absolutely priceless. It has motivated me though. The experience reminded me of my absolute dependence in the Lord. Unfortunately it sometimes takes something tragic to realize that. It also reminded me that I must take advantage of every moment here. The memories and growth will last forever, even without my journal. Although painful, losing my journal has made me a better disciple of Christ.
I left El Pino in good shape. There is still a lot of work to do and there are many less actives with potential as well as a few good investigators. I don't know a whole lot about Los Nogales yet, so I am sure I will have more to say next week.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Sept. 11

Sept. 11 is the anniversary of the 1973 coup in Chile that put Pinochet in power. Because that is another opportunity for some to commit mayhem, missionaries have to remain in their apartments Wednesday evening and Thursday all day. They are supposed to deep clean their apartments, but how long can that take with 4 guys? They are planning to barbeque some meat, and Ben is planning to write.

Another week in El Pino. The sector is progressing well. It was a weird week. We had an enormous number of plans fall. Maybe more than I have ever seen in my mission, or maybe I am just forgetting about my first two whitewashes already. Almost appearing to make up for the fallen plans, members seemed to just fall into our lap to do divisions with us. In all of my time here, I have never had so many divisions. Also, our brother who was baptized last week received the priesthood on Sunday and he and the recent convert of Elder White and Elder Escobar, have both done divisions with us. They also both have home teaching assignments.

As for service, we only ended up teaching the English class and pushing a few cars with dead batteries. Its too bad that as it gets warmer we won't have that service opportunity so much.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Two Weeks In One

Our apologies we didn't get Ben's stuff posted last week. This week we're posting both weeks, starting with last week:

This week, in an effort to become a better disciple of Jesus Christ, I spent a lot of my personal study focused on humility. I started with President Benson's talk "Beware of Pride." I wrote down a list of attributes of pride and the corresponding attributes of humility. Pride is certainly a very misunderstood thing. I never realized how often I sinned before I read that talk for the first time 10 months ago. I am trying to apply your model to become consecrated to humility. I am beginning with learning about humility, then I will practice it, and later I hope to become a truly humble person.

We had a great week in El Pino. The family we have been working with will be baptized on Saturday at 6:00. Their third daughter will turn 8 in October and her father will be able to baptize her. I am so grateful to have been able to see the miracle of their progression. We also had an especially beautiful experience on Sunday. When I arrived to El Pino, we taught a family and I was able to see the entire family return to Church after 10 years of inactivity. They attended three times as a family. Unfortunately, something happened shortly after and not long ago, the husband and wife separated. They haven't gone to Church in three or four months now and we haven't been able to teach them until Saturday. We brought one of his old friends with us and just let them talk. We didn't have to say much, but by the end of a very heart-felt discussion between the two, he promised to return to Church.

We had a three service activities this week. We participated in the event for children in San Bernardo, did service in the Bishop's Storehouse and continued with our English class. Attendance rose 500 percent in the class - we increased from 1 student to 5."

And this week: 
Congrats about soccer (Tioga won 2-1) and I am glad Luke and Liz are doing well. 
My way of doing district meetings has changed a little bit over time. At first, I would stand up front with the whiteboard and give a lesson. There were pros and cons of that. Everyone paid attention and everyone behaved really well, in fact a lot of the district took notes, but nobody participated very much. I also felt as though I was elevating myself above the district and did not feel comfortable. Now, I sit down in front of the district and we discuss things. We have been spending district meeting talking about the vision. Yesterday, we discussed knowing. I really enjoyed it because everyone participated a lot, and I learned a lot more. Less people take notes and they're a little more rowdy sometimes, but I think that directing district meeting in this way has made be a better disciple of Christ. I learn more and I feel less prideful. Thank you again for giving me the opportunity to learn so much from being a district leader.
As far as actual progress goes in the sector, we finally were able to baptize the family. It was a beautiful baptism and the other elders in the ward had a baptism the same day. The father of the family has already been interviewed to receive the priesthood and we are working on getting the family assignments or callings and getting them to the temple to do baptisms for the dead in a couple weeks. It has been a great privilege to see the progression of the family from the very first lesson. I feel so blessed. They are a wonderful family and will be a great strength to the ward.

We are continuing with the English class as a weekly service opportunity.

I'll get pictures to you next week.

(We had heard there was an earthquake he hadn't told us about): The earthquake was exciting.  It was during the baptismal interview! The mom said it was the Spirit.  Have a great week!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Work in El Pino

This week I did an interesting little study with the old teaching records in the area book.  Of the 118 records of unbaptized old investigators in El Pino, 111 did not keep the very first three commitments on the record- first to read the Book of Mormon, second to pray to know that it is true and third attend Church.  That is 94%.  I also asked the other missionaries in the district to bring their records to district meeting but found that none of them had more than 15 records.  I have found that destroying old records is a serious problem.  I didn't include their records in the final count because they skewed the data because only the "good ones" were left.  Anyway, it really made me realize how important those three commitments are.  I know that anyone who reads the Book of Mormon, prays with real intent, and goes to Church will know that this Church is true and will have the desire to be baptized.  A renewed focus on these commitments has made me a better disciple of Christ.

As far as service goes, we are continuing with the English class, but that is all of the organized service we have done this week.  We are also considering starting an addiction recovery class.

El Pino is continuing to progress with a record number of people in Church this week.  A nice, round 120.  We had the overflow opened and three rows of chairs filled.  The family we have been working with will be interviewed for baptism on Saturday.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Trip to the "Jungle"

I'm doing great and my toe is as well.  We actually had a great activity today.  We went to the "living jungle."  It was an indoor imitation of a jungle environment with parrots and other birds, caiman, turtles, fish, frogs, lizards, and a butterfly house.  Mom would not have liked it. One of the guides wrapped a python around my neck.  I loved it of course.

We got some bad news about the family we have been working with. We found out that the lady is still drinking tea. She could quit smoking but she is having a really hard time quitting tea. Their baptism is still scheduled for the 30th and we have been fasting and praying for the family. On a brighter note, my companion realized this week how many miracles we have seen. We contact often, but it seems like more people have found us in place of us finding them. They have come to us asking us to pray for them, or asking for our book, or asking for a visit. It's incredible. We feel very blessed.

Sorry it's not much this week.  A lot of people wrote me and I am out of time.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Preparation Days are now Wednesdays

The mission has moved preparation days from Monday to Wednesday to better accommodate temple attendance by the missionaries and to better allow them to take advantage of cultural activities in Santiago. According to the mission newsletter, since the temple and most museums and other cultural sites are closed on Mondays, Wednesday will allow the missionaries more opportunities to experience Chile. His emails will now come on Wednesdays, and blog posts will follow.

Ben did have an ingrown toenail removed last week and is doing very well. The procedure was performed by a missionary doctor from the U.S.  He says he hasn't missed any work and he has no pain.

From his email:

This week I started studying scriptures to use in the Preach My Gospel lessons and noting them in a pocket notebook to study throughout the day. I also copied in the scriptures I have memorized. The goal was to increase my knowledge and usage of the scriptures (obviously), but also to help myself be more diligent with my usage of time. If I find myself bored waiting for something I take out my notebook and study a little bit. I have found it to be a great tool, and it has helped me become a better disciple of Christ.

It was another productive week in El Pino. The family we have been working with is continuing to progress. Last Friday, we taught about obeying and honoring the law because we only had a little bit of time before correlation meeting and it was one of the few lessons that they still needed. I was surprised when the lesson ended with the mom asking when she could be baptized. We set the date for August 30 and did a practice baptismal interview immediately. We were very late to correlation meeting, but I think it was worth it. It amazes me how the Spirit can change any lesson to a baptismal invitation. We also had a reactivation this week and as one of the formerly less-active members that we had been working with accepted a calling as Relief Society Secretary.

We helped a less-active member move as a service project this week. Unfortunately for us, we helped him move outside of our sector. We already miss him, but it was a great service opportunity.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Work Goes On

We did tell Ben about the tragedy of Dan Manwaring's death: I feel bad for what happened to the Manwaring family.  Send them my love.

Ben also had an ingrown toenail removed by the mission doctor and he is doing fine. The doctor, who is also a missionary, has access to information about all missionaries serving worldwide. Ben is the only Elder Hoose currently serving anywhere.

Here is the rest of what he sent for his blog:

This week in an effort to become a better disciple of Jesus Christ, I took the mission president's challenge to read the entire missionary handbook and note down everything in which I am not exactly obedient. I have been reviewing the list regularly and have improved in the points I wrote down. Throughout my life, improving in obedience has made me happier, more appreciative, and more sensitive to the Spirit.

We had a pretty good week down here. The family we have been working with is still progressing well. They are reading and praying as a family and having family home evenings. They are also consistently coming to church. Unfortunately, they still haven't accepted a baptismal date but still have a desire to be baptized. We also set a date for August 16 with another investigator who we have been teaching since I got here. Her mom has reactivated and she feels ready to make the covenant of baptism.

Monday, July 21, 2014


This week in an effort to be a better disciple of Christ I really focused in on praying for and searching for little opportunities to serve, and we were blessed with at least one opportunity every day. We pushed several cars to get them started, changed a couple tires, we helped fix up an investigator's ceiling, we have been teaching an Evangelical priest English, and a couple nights ago, we had a very interesting experience. It was 10:20, and we were within just a couple minutes from getting back to the house when a woman ran to us and told us that a man was following her. I went to the corner to see, and didn't see anyone, so I asked her if she had a place to stay. She told us that she was on her way home. She was shaking and almost hysteric so I told her not to worry and that we would walk to her home with her. I took her bags to lighten her load and just told her not to worry as we walked to her house. The only thing I said regarding the gospel was that she should say a prayer when she got home. We actually ended up walking for quite a ways and in a dangerous part of the sector, and I began to be concerned that she could be leading us into a trap. I have heard a lot here about even old women working with gangs to lead people into assaults. Elder Johnson and I both felt very safe despite the concern and where we were at that time of night. When we got to her apartment, she gave us her name and number to come and teach her about the gospel. We did arrive home late, but I think it was one of the exceptions President talks about. I'm sure that that experience was an answer to our prayers for opportunities to serve and I hope it will also be an answer to our prayers about finding people prepared to find the gospel.

As far as progress in the sector, the family we have been working with wants to be baptized, but they say they don't want to be baptized yet because the mother of the family will have to return to work at the end of August and won't be able to attend Church. I think we can help them to change their mind. I know that they are ready and I know that they know that they are ready. On a high note, the father has had a radical change and went from not having much interest to reading the Book of Mormon cover to cover, reading just about everything he can get his hands on, and watching Mormon Messages on the computer. It's amazing how much I have gotten to see this family grow.

I think that's it for the week.  It was a good one.  I hope everyone is enjoying their summer! I love you all!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Birthday reflections

Monday was Ben's birthday. It was raining in Santiago.

It was another good week in El Pino. I turn 20 today and I have spent a lot of time thinking last night and this morning about the kind of 20 year old that I want to be. I prayerfully did a self-evaluation and pondered about what I would like to improve on this year of my life. Paul's words about becoming a man and putting away childish things kept coming to mind. These kinds of self-evaluations and goal setting always make me a better disciple of Christ. I should do them more frequently.

We had some great success yesterday with the family who I have been telling you about. The entire family of 6 came yesterday and now each has come three or more times. The father, who was last to gain a testimony, thanked me for what we brought to his family. There is nothing more sweet in the mission as those moments when less-active members or investigators thank you for what you have brought them. We are going to invite them to be baptized on the 26 of July.

Monday, July 7, 2014

First week of July

Here's this week's update:

We hiked a hill today as a mission.  The idea was that we look back and think about how much the mission has achieved in its first year and then have a vision for the following year at the top. We had a mission fast this last Sunday with the purpose of recieving revelation about what our vision for the mission is.

From the hill you get a great view of how much polllution there is in the air.  You can't see the city very well.  My new companion is from Gilbert, Arizona.  He has a great attitude and he knows his stuff pretty well.  His spanish is decent but he can't understand much.  I had the same problem.

Training and being a district leader is hard but its good.  I am learning a lot.

I only got one letter this week and it was from April 4.  It was missent to Guyana.

From Ben's letter to the mission president: Another week gone by. It was a tougher week with a much smaller number of lessons than I am used to. I suppose that's OK because it gives my new companion and I a lot of opportunities to practice contacting with all of our plans falling. He's also learning that we walk fast in this mission!

I have been telling you about the Sandoval family lately. The father was hit by a car while riding his bike last week. The front of the car was badly damaged and he could not feel his legs after the accident. He prayed in the ambulence that he would be able to support his family and was blessed not only to be able to feel his legs, but to wallk. Despite not wearing a helmet, his only injury was a chip in his tailbone. He took that blessing as a sign that it is time that he started placing a little more importance on the things of God. I very well beleive that it could have been a sign. The Lord works in mysterious ways. He and his wife went to Church for the first time together on Sunday.

As far as becoming a better disciple of Christ this week, I have memorized several more scriptures including Mosiah 27:14, Moses 3:19, Doctrine and Covenents 4, Alma 32:21, Mosiah 2:41, and a few quotes from Joseph Smith in Joseph Smith History. I have really grown to love memorizing scriptures in Spanish and have found it to be a great language study activity.

My companion is doing great. He bears simple and powerful testimony and he always has a good attitude. I am glad for the opportunity to learn from him.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Ben is a Trainer

This week's email from Ben. He is continuing his duties as district leader and also is going to be training a new missionary for the next three months.

From his letter to the mission president: Finally done with days indoors for the world cup. This week I finally took your counsel to start memorizing scriptures. I memorized a couple of my favorites- Juan 3:16-17 and Mateo 22:36-40. Memorizing has absolutely made me a better disciple of Christ. It keeps me focused on my mission in moments of boredom and makes me a more independent missionary.

As far as progress in El Pino, we are working on getting an assignment for a reactivating member and I will feel comfortable calling him a complete reactivation. We also still have the Sandoval family near ready for baptism.

From his email home: I was mistaken when I said that people destroy stuff whether Chile wins or loses.  It turns out that they only really destroy stuff when they win.  We were allowed to go out and work on Saturday after the game.

It has rained a few times, once for a few days in a row and it drizzled this morning.  They say it rains a lot in the winter here but it's nothing in comparison to NY.  The mountains have snow and right after a rain they are completely white.  They're beautiful in winter.

The mission birthday party was really cool.  I was surprised to see myself in the movie they made.  Have you seen it? Its on President's Facebook. video

Monday, June 23, 2014

Week Ending June 23

We had decided that since we hadn't received any letters from Ben in a long time that we would share stuff from emails. It turns out that this week he shared more than usual, making it much easier.

We were able to do a lot of service this week apart from the weekly helping people push and jump-start their cars.  I will just copy and paste from my letter to the President.  "This week we did a lot of service. The first activity, we fixed the leaking roof of a less-active single mother living with her disabled mother. On Wednesday, we went to the temple and we bought an audio Book of Mormon because the grandmother had expressed a desire to read the Book of Mormon but could not because her eyesight is poor. I felt the Spirit very strongly as we delivered the gifts, shared a message of Christ and repaired their roof. That experience alone made me a better disciple of Christ. I love to serve. 
In addition to the service we did at the less-active mother's house, we worked at an elementary school doing some needed upkeep work. We also did some work to deliver wood and insulation to a member in a campamento. I think you might like to see the campamento if you haven't before."  You should search campamento Chile in google images (see below, Ben has been introduced to real poverty).  It is incredible.
We had particular success yesterday with a family we have been teaching for several months now. The mother and daughters want to be baptized with the dad still unsure. Last night on the way to visiting them my companion and I were pondering what we should share. We decided to watch the Joseph Smith movie with them. When we arrived, they told us that we were just in time to watch one of the movies we had given them. The disc of the Joseph Smith movie was already in the DVD player and ready to press play when we walked in. We began with a prayer and watched the movie. Afterward we bore powerful testimony. Rarely in my mission have I felt the Spirit guide my words as it did last night. We testified simply of Jesus Christ and the restoration of His church through the Prophet Joseph Smith. After, we asked if there were any comments and the father softly said that he would have to reconsider some things tonight. I believe that family will be prepared for baptism in just a couple weeks more."

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

World Cup Craziness

We haven't posted here in a bit and that's because we haven't received any letters from Ben lately. We decided that we might start posting some things that Ben sends us in his weekly emails. His emails tend to be mundane, but we thought his experience with the World Cup competition might be worth sharing. It's short and sweet, but better than nothing. Ben's words:

The world cup is insane down here. If Chile wins, everyone destroys stuff. If Chile loses, everyone destroys stuff. We have to stay inside from 3 to the end of the day on days when Chile plays. It's not hard getting in (to teach) but it is impossible to teach. Everyone invites us over to watch the games.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Week of April 4

That's a lot of watermelon

On Saturday one of the other missionaries in my apartment was asked to be a zone leader. I was surprised, however, that my companion wasn’t called to be a trainer or a district leader but he is being transferred to another sector. It looks like we will both just be normal companions this change.  We spent the day at the stake center watching General Conference (in English). I have never enjoyed General Conference so much. The words of the prophets and apostles of the Lord are so inspiring, uplifting, and full of valuable counsel. I took lots of notes. I hope all that couldn’t watch the conference will read it either on the internet or in the church magazines.  Sunday we also watched conference and spent the rest of the day saying good bye to people my companion was going to miss

On Monday I got my new companion. He’s a young missionary from the group just after mine. He’s a great guy with a lot of desire to be obedient to the mission rules and to work hard. He is my first Gringo companion, and I’m a little worried my Spanish will suffer but he does speak Spanish very well. The other new missionary in my apartment is a friend of mine from my last zone, and he was in the same group as my companion and the other missionary in the apartment. That puts me with the most experience out of the four of us with only five and a half months out. It also puts three Gringos in the house with one Latino – oh how the tables have turned!

We have been working with a less active family whose two daughters have come to church several times but not consistently, and the father came to church for the first time in years just a couple weeks ago.  The mother has always been more stubborn, but today she said she would come to church before I get transferred. Her husband joked that I could get special transferred next week, so she would have to come this Sunday. 

We have also been working with a man and woman who are living together and have a child together. They want to be baptized, and the guy would like to baptize his girlfriend. That can’t happen unless they are married first. We talked to them about setting a date to get married and everything was calm and they opened up a lot to us. We also invited them to come to church on Sunday, it was a great lesson.

We spent some time contacting members from the list generated by the program I talked about before. We didn’t have much success. I’m used to that but my companion isn’t used to the constant failure and negativity. It’s obvious that he is getting frustrated. I am also a little embarrassed I have had some trouble finding my way around the sector – everything looks the same to me. I did apologize to my companion.

This week has been tough, but missionary work should be tough. You’re not working hard enough if it’s easy. I know we are being blessed for our work and obedience, though – we are teaching more, finding more, and working constantly. It’s exhausting, but rewarding.

As missionaries we are supposed to study the scriptures two hours every day. Sometimes we have meetings or service opportunities in the morning when we would normally study, but we are to study two hours every day regardless. That means sometimes we are out working less, but it’s interesting that even though we spend less time outside working but we’re finding more people to teach.

The District
Moving in (That's Ben's stuff)
A view out the window of the new house. This is a large gated development where there are many houses that all look exactly alike
Ben and his alpaca wool sweatshirt

Ben is a District Leader

Ben had already told us this, but we got this letter from the mission president:

19 May 2014

Dear Brother & Sister Hoose:

This letter is to inform you that your son is a trusted missionary in the Misión Chile Santiago Sur. That trust has been earned by ongoing dedicated service and commitment. Because of whom your son has become and the trust we have in him I have called him to be a District Leader, please know of the love and confidence that we have for him.

We know that Elder Hoose will serve faithfully and be a tremendous example and love those who he has been called to serve and lead. We thank you for your ongoing love and support. We know that your son will be blessed as he continues to magnify his calling in the Lord’s service.


President David L. Cook
Misión Chile Santiago Sur