Monday, May 12, 2014

Week of March 31 (with pictures)

Dad's apologies for taking a few days to get this one posted. There are more pictures to post which I'll do in the next few days. We did Skype with Ben on Mother's Day and he is well. He said he has gained about 10 pounds because the people always feed them regardless of whether they are hungry. It's autumn there and the weather is getting cooler at night. Their house is heated with electric space heaters and Ben bought himself some alpaca wool socks. They have had a couple rainy days.
Buin Zoo, south of Santiago
Ben with his friend Elder John Deming from Apalachin. John serves in the Santiago North Mission

On p-day (March 31) the four of us played soccer on one of the many courts in our area as usual. When only four play we designate an area within which you must shoot. That makes it so the other team has a chance to defend and you can’t score from the other end of the court.  After soccer we went to the intermodal, a metro station which includes a food court, and ate.  We finished off p-day by shopping and writing home as normal

We discovered one of the spiritual challenges of one of the less active members we work with this week. One of her personality traits is that she is intensely curious and just wants to know things. I learned previously that she was at one time studying to work in a forensics lab as a chemist but had to stop studying presumably because she was going to have a kid. We have been reading the Book of Mormon with her and leaving assignments. This week we discussed 1 Nephi  4 where Nephi is commanded to kill Laban. She wanted to know why. We explained that there are laws and higher laws, and that sometimes we have to break lower laws in order to fulfill a greater law. It was more important for Nephi to obtain the scriptures which Laban had than for all of his descendants to lack the knowledge of the commandments of God. We used other scripture examples such as the fall of Adam and Eve and the ox in the mire. We also explained that Laban had already tried to kill Nephi and his brothers, and according to the law should have been punished by death.  All of this explanation was to no avail, she wanted to know why. When it comes down to it we don’t actually know why God does what He does. But we should follow the example of Nephi in his response to the question “Knowest thou the condescension of God?” Nephi responded “I know that he loveth his children, nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.” Shouldn’t that be enough? Do we really expect to understand the mysteries of an omniscient God? If this story of Nephi and Laban doesn’t make very much sense, I invite you to read the Book of Mormon. The story is only about 10 pages in. If you don’t have a Book of Mormon, talk to the missionaries or a member of the church or you can find all our scriptures at

They don’t celebrate April Fool’s Day here but that didn’t stop some missionaries from fooling around in the district meeting. In reality it wasn’t much of a meeting. We had a quick spiritual thought and then had a party because our district leader is finishing his mission next week. I got a letter from home dated March 7 on Tuesday, which isn’t bad considering I have received mail from months back sometimes. 

We invited all of our investigators to General Conference this weekend. General Conference is a meeting in which the prophets and apostles address us. I know this letter will come weeks after the conference takes place, so if you didn’t get a chance to watch it, you still have the opportunity to watch or read the talks on or in one of the church magazines which can be obtained through missionaries.

I had to go to the mission office this week to turn in some paperwork for my visa and I saw my old companion who is now an assistant to the president. He gave me some good news and some bad news. The bad first: one of our old investigators stopped receiving the missionaries. He had been coming to church every week and was reading the Book of Mormon. That was hard news to hear, but the good news is that another investigator we found is progressing well, attending church and is on track to be baptized. I am grateful to have been a part of that work. 

Transfer day (the transfer prior to this one)

Friday night we ordered pizza to celebrate changes and nervously waited for the phone, wondering who would stay and who would go. The call finally came around 11 and my companion and one of the guys from the other companionship are both leaving the sector and we’re each getting new companions. At four and a half months I will be the most senior of the missionaries in the sector now. To add to the excitement, right after the phone call we had a small earthquake, a magnitude 5.8.

Ben and his companion

Ben's house before the current one - the current one is much nicer.

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