Wednesday, February 26, 2014

We did get email from Ben on Monday and he did tell us to share with the blog because he hasn't found the time to write letters. Transfers took place on Monday, they are about every six weeks when the new missionaries arrive from the MTC. Assigning trainers starts the dominoes falling anyway, so it's a good time to just make changes that are necessary. Since Ben was done with training it was time for him or his companion to move on, and he expected his companion to be transferred. His companion was transferred and became an assistant to the president (one of two highest ranking missionaries) and Ben was also transferred to a new area, back to his first zone (El Bosque, search it in Google Maps) but a different sector/neighborhood and much nicer apartment (the silver lining). Several of the missionaries he trained with were assigned as companions to each other, but he was assigned a senior missionary and was a little disappointed because he thought it would be fun to be with one of peers from the MTC, and because he hasn't lived anywhere longer than six weeks yet. In all likelihood he'll be at this place for a while.  His new companion is Elder Vildoso from Peru.

Here are some more pictures from last week's letter:

South America's tallest building (in Santiago)

Local flora

A pack of neighborhood dogs

Ready to play soccer (courtesy Sr. Leavitt, the only lady in the picture)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

We received this letter dated Jan. 27 (it included an SD card with pictures some of which are here, we'll post more later):

A two-foot long compleato (loaded hot dog)

On Monday 1/13 we had a meeting for all of the missionaries getting transferred in the mission office in San Bernardo.  After some words from President and Sister Cook, a slideshow was presented with all the changes.  I have been transferred to the La Bandera Zone, Poeta Neruda Ward with a new companion, Elder Mateus of Columbia in another whitewash [area new to both missionaries].   Elder Mateus is small, not taller than 5’6” or heavier than 130 pounds but he walks amazingly fast.  From the beginning I heard over and over that he is among the hardest workers in the mission and now, after seeing him in action myself, I can testify of that truth.  He is a machine and I am grateful for his example.

Whitewashes are hard.  We start with nothing apart from an outdated list of members with their addresses and a map.  This time we didn’t even have desks, chairs, or a place to put our clothes in the beginning, we only had beds. We are in a very small house with two other missionaries, Elder Burt (from Massachusetts)  who was in the training center with me and Elder Bezerra from Brazil.  They are both great guys and great missionaries.  The house consists of two rooms and a kitchen and a bathroom.  The two rooms are each the size of a large bedroom in the States and the kitchen is about the size of an average bathroom.  In fact, our bathroom is bigger than the kitchen.

Elder Matheus and I spend every day walking from lunchtime to bed time.  It’s hot, and we’re always in dress clothes.  Our feet always hurt, and some days we face rejection after rejection. But we try to follow the example of the great missionary Paul who wrote “Of the Jews five times I received forty stripes save one.  Thrice was I beaten with rods, once I was stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep.  In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by my own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren, in weakness and painfulness, in watching often, in hunger and thirst, in fasting often, in cold and nakedness…If I must needs glory, I will glory in the things which concern my infirmities.” (2 Corinthians 11:24-27, 30)  As a missionary, Paul suffered and endured far beyond what I have endured in the same calling, and probably beyond what I will ever endure, and yet he chose to glory in the affliction.  Not only that, but he said “If I must needs glory,” which seems to express that he didn’t want glory.  His desire to not glory is not because his afflictions were wearing him down, it is a result of his humility.  This is the reason I believe that if he had to glory, he would choose to glory in the things which concern his infirmities.  Our trials and infirmities are valuable opportunities to develop attributes such as faith, hope, patience, and humility – key attributes of Jesus Christ our Savior. I believe Paul recognized that truth and truly found joy in the fact that through his infirmities he became more like Jesus Christ.  I hope we can all do the same.

Elder Mateus and I have done a lot of work. Hopefully next week I will be able to write about some successes.  Until then, exito.

Different day, different compleatos

We don't always eat compleatos

Don't bother me, I'm studying

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Surprise Picture (stalking is a good thing)

OK, I (Dad) admit I am a stalker. I read other missionary blogs. This week while looking at Sr. Leavitt's blog, I was fortunate enough to come across a picture of Ben! Here it is (Since Ben hasn't sent pictures, thank you Sr. Leavitt):

Ben is the rather chubby one front row right. We blew it up, it's really him.
 So while I'm here, we have emailed Ben the last two weeks. Last week he went to the zoo (apparently with his zone, another missionary has pictures). This week we had asked him about food, specifically milk. Fresh milk is hard to come by in the city, but they have a shelf stable non-refrigerated version that comes in a carton similar to the way we might buy broth.

The milk does taste a little weird.  I don't buy it ever.  I usually eat oatmeal with yogurt in the morning because yogurt is really cheap.  I haven't seen beef hot dogs yet which is a disappointment.  They are all pork, chicken or turkey, but mostly chicken or turkey.  Their spaghetti sauce tastes weird too but I don't know why.  And they don't really have salad dressing.  They usually use lemon juice and oil.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

First blog letter

We received this letter postmarked 1/14.  Readers are aware of some of the events described.

Last Monday (1/6), my companion and I received some bad news.  He went to the city to get his foot x-rayed and it turns out it was fractured in two places.  He has to rest for a month minimum.  The news was a little humbling because I thought he was being a baby the whole time.  This is just another testament that no one can understand another’s pain.  Even if we have had similar experiences as others, the way feelings are manifested within others is unknown to us, and my even be incomprehensible to us.  We have only one friend who has lived on the earth who can truly understand our feelings – Jesus Christ, who “suffered the pains of all men, yea the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam.” (2 Nephi 9:21)  He suffered the pains of all, each in their unique way.  It is no wonder that this suffering caused Jesus Christ “even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit” and would that he might not drink of that bitter cup and shrink. (Doctrine and Covenants 19:18)  I hope we can all find the humility and consolation in this sacrifice; humility that we might find it in ourselves to worship the Almighty God who suffered beyond comprehension that we may be saved, with broken hearts and contrite spirits; and consolation, that we may be comforted when we are at our very lowest by the knowledge that we have a friend who truly understands.

We spent our time inside studying and cleaning.  I wasn’t surprised to get the call from President Cook on Friday 1/10 that I was getting transferred.  Unfortunately, he didn’t tell me where because he wanted us to stay focused. I will find out where I am going the day I leave, Monday 1/13.

I feel like my first six weeks in the mission field were more for my benefit than the benefit of anyone else because I spent the first few weeks finding people to teach and the last few weeks inside studying because of my companion’s foot.  I’m excited to meet my new companion and begin my adventures in a new area next week.