Monday, March 24, marked five months on my mission. Time is flying. Despite being Monday it was not p-day. We switched it to Wednesday in order to go to the temple. On Wednesday we got up at 6:30 to go to the temple. We took the subway, which is insane at rush hour in the mornings. The people pack in like sardines and anything goes in order to get on. We managed to stick together on the first part, but on the connection we got split up. The new missionary and myself we left behind because we couldn’t fit. The on the next train we got split up because the other elder got pushed on by a crowd and a guard wouldn’t let me on and wouldn’t let him get off. I signaled to him to get off at the next stop and we met back up and took the next train. It’s amazing how people act in crowds. In the end we all made it to the temple safely. If I can avoid it I’m not using the subway at rush hour again.
The experience at the temple was beautiful. I was surprised to find some of the sister missionaries from my old ward in Poeta Neruda were at the temple, too. Unfortunately because I was sick to my stomach my time in the celestial room was cut short.
After visiting the temple we went to the church distribution center and I bought some pictures to use while teaching and “The Lamb of God” video. We also went to the feria in Santa Lucia and I bought an alpaca wool sweatshirt . Alpaca wool is very cheap here, the sweatshirt was only about $24 US.
We have begun using a new computer program created by a church member in Concepcion and it is genius. Generally, at least in this mission, and I assume across Chile, the ward membership lists are terribly inaccurate. They are full of people who died years ago or moved, and of course about 80% of the lists consist of inactive members, the majority of which the members don’t know exist. I have heard of neighbors of bishops being inactive members without the bishop knowing. The goal of the program is to fix the lists. If I understand correctly, a law was recently passed requiring all citizens to vote and every citizen was put in a database with name, address, and government ID number. The program cross references the database with the ward lists of every ward in Chile. The results give each ward hundreds of names – some wards have 1000 members on the list but only about a hundred in attendance. It also produces a fairly long list of names that were not found in the government database. This usually means the name was spelled wrong, but in some cases it means the person is dead. We can search the database with a partial name and sometimes find the correct spelling. The idea is to fix the lists and locate the members. I love the program, but unfortunately my companion doesn’t understand it very well, got frustrated, and gave up. I suspect we won’t be using the program again while we’re companions.
I didn’t get any mail again. I don’t really understand Chile’s postal system. It seems like if you send a letter every week I should get one every week, but that’s just not how it works.
On Friday we had to return to our homes at 5 pm because of El Dia de los Jovenes Combatientes. I asked about the history of the day and apparently several years ago police fired on a group of protesting youth and killed several of them. The night before the day and the day and next night some youth take revenge by turning over buses, looting, and generally causing chaos. It’s really just an excuse to do stupid things, but to be safe we have to stay inside for the evening and the whole next day. It turned out to be a blessing for me because I didn’t feel well again and I was able to rest and go to bed early. I’ve never been sick as much as I have been on my mission. On Saturday we studied as usual and I wrote letters and took a nap. My companion made lunch. We had bought meat for churrascos. A churrasco is similar to a cheesesteak but has avocado and tomato. We had eggs, french fries, rice and Coke with it. I mentioned that people here seem to eat chicken all the time because they like it. It seems to be the same with rice, because my companion always eats rice when he is hungry and always makes it when he cooks even if we have a complete meal without it. I like rice and I don’t really mind eating it every day, but I also wouldn’t choose to eat it every day. We also played Uno, which they do sell here but all the Latinos learned to play from Gringos. We did hear a few explosions or gunshots but nothing serious. I decided not to shave on Saturday because we weren’t going anywhere and I had quite a beard Sunday morning.
That's it for another week!