Monday, October 28, 2013

3 Letters along with pictures of the island!

                            THE BOAT CAME!!

 October 29, 2013

Yep, that very day, the boat came... which means that we wasted the majority of our week down on the dock awaiting the unloading of food and construction materials and whatever else they unloaded from that crazy old boat.  It was good in some ways because we could meet people, but wow it sure seemed like a whole ton of wasted time.  Unbelievably frustrating.  But also fascinating.   We are doing quite well.  It´s just that everything here is MUCH more complicated than anywhere else.  For example, we have been waiting for a shipment of money to, you know, buy stuff, for two weeks and still haven´t received anything.  I literally have two dollars left.  So... hope there´s no emergency or anything.  Even though, if some emergency were to occur, we could probably just trade an avocado for some crab meat or something.  Unfortunately, the elders did our request list from Jumbo (Jumbo is the online site where they order food.  Before they left the island, the elders put in the food request for Mara and her companion.)... and it is a pretty darn unfortunate list.  Enough to survive healthily for two weeks and then we are going to be back to rice and noodles.  They barely ordered  any fruits or vegetables, so the first day, when they unloaded the vegetables from the boat, we went to one of the two homes that sell vegetables, made a list of what we wanted so the man could save us some, and returned that evening the second he opened.  (At least they will get to eat for the next two weeks)I´m not kidding when I say that within twenty minutes, he had sold every last vegetable.  It was  absolute mad chaos.  Many many people were left without healthy food.  As a result, about half the island has diabetes and those who don´t develop it.  Sister Chirinos developed it within a month of being here.  It terrifies the bejeebers out of me, but I´m sure we´ll be fine.  Because people have been inviting us over so much, and because when people invite us, they give us the very best of what they have, we have been doing fine.By the way, Los Chirinos are truly wonderful people. I think they requested me on facebook. If you get the chance, they also speak English (are American citizens in fact), and it would be neat if you could maybe thank them. They have treated us like their own daughters and are so genuinely caring.  Actually, all of the members here treat us like their own daughters.  The following story is not to scare you, just to show you that we are well-cared for and protected here.Two weeks ago, a man who is not isleno (los islenos never ever ever get mixed up in delinquacy) started showing a little too much interest in me.  One day he found us while he was drunk and gave us a little scare.  I didn´t want to tell anyone, because it wasn´t a big deal.  We just ran away and all was fine.  But my companion told Los Chirinos who then told Hermano Poncho and his wife Sandra.  Hermano Poncho is HUGE and has a bit of influence here because everyone loves him.   Turns out that he scared the absolute bejeebers out of that guy,  telling him he´d beat the crud out of him if he so much as looked at us ever again.  His wife Sandra told the guy´s boss, and it looks like he will be shipped out of here soon.   Anyway, just so you can see that we are well-treated and protected.With regards to Christmas, don´t send me anything.  My companion has never received a single package (one card for her birthday from her mom), and I think it would be best that I not receive anything.  If you insist on sending something, make sure it´s teeny and just for her.  Or maybe some of those "futuro misionero" tags or HLJ rings (CTR) to give away to kids.  I hope you enjoy your Halloween week and eat lots of peach rings and dark chocolate!  I love you all so so much!!
Sister Thomas
This is a little extra that she put into a personal email answering a few of our questions we had for her. 

 I`m back!   GUESS WHAT?!  LUIS GOMEZ SE BAUTIZOOOOOOO!!!!  Our investigator from Lo Zanartu is the newest member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints!  Wootwoot!

The food orders are all online and take 7 years because the internet is so darn slow.  With regards to cash... stilllllll waiting.
Not gonna lie.  My feet hurt.  A lot.  But so do those de my companion, so I´m not too concerned.  It´s just that these crazy hills are hard work.  Anybody´s feet would hurt.  After the Tsunami, everybody wanted to build their houses up as high as they could... so we´ve gotta go up there too.  I seriously don´t know how these people do it,  climbing up and down and up and down all day everyday. It´s just not right.  Someday, I´m going to come back here and build them three gondolas: one for each main road. (Again with the high ambitions.  It is hard to slow her down.) The good thing is that we have discovered lots of hiking trails that act as shortcuts.  If you guys could see some of the trails that we take, you would die.  So, just know that we are protected and that if we fall, angels will pick us up. 

Dad, last week I also gave my first unscripted talk.  I went WAY over my time... but it went well.  That´s the only problem with being unscripted: the timing.  But I agree.  That´s the whole theory behind Preach My Gospel.  Follow the Spirit.  Don´t rely on memorized words.  Rely on the promptings you receive as you teach.
Love you so much,

Sister Thomas

Exploring Life on the Island 
October 21,2013 
DARSIEL SE BAUTIZOOOOOOO!!!!!!!  WOOHOOO!  I just read the Mission Newsletter, and Darsiel, the kid that I picked out for Jess to marry got baptized this weekend!!  Jessica, darling, you can thank me later.

Things are going very well here on the Isla Juan Fernandez.  This week was easily one of the hardest I´ve experienced, but it ended yesterday with one of the best days of my life.  We left our cabin early to go pick up a less active young man who had committed to go to church.  We arrived and he was sleeping.  His grandpa let us in, woke him up, and he came with us anyway!  This young man, Fabian, will be the key to getting his family reactivated and to the temple.  There is a temple trip planned for this March, so we are working hard to prepare everybody possible to be able to go.

Anyway, Fabian came to church with us.  He is 16 and is now officially preparing to receive the Priesthood and serve a mission.  It was pretty funny, it took him four times to try to enter the church.  He was so nervous because he hadn´t been in so long, but we pretty much forced him and he loved it.  It was especially neat, because Saturday and Sunday we held a special fast for the island.  I was asked to speak to explain the reasoning for the fast and afterward we held a break-the-fast luncheon for everyone.  But that´s not all.

This week we have been working with a man named Hector Torres Padre who has known the missionaries forever but has never been fully committed because he thinks he already has the Priesthood.  This week, we lovingly explained to him the truth, put him with a baptismal date, and committed him to church.  He didn´t come.  We were devastated… until… HE CAME!!  He arrived late, but he arrived, with suit and all.  It was absolutely beautiful to see him there.  And then he went to our luncheon afterwards.  But that´s not all.

This week, we went to visit a sister who has been recently reactivating.  Things were going wonderfully, she was truly making a change in her life, until out of the blue in the middle of the lesson, she absolutely BLEW UP AT US.  I mean blew up.  Like a crazy person.  The truth is that she is mildly crazy and that she was recently drugged by some friends but we didn´t really understand all of that in the moment.  I was a mess for a solid 3 days.  She occupied every second of my thoughts.  Camila, Camila, Camila.  How did we lose her so quickly?  By day 4, I got over it and decided that I couldn´t let her ruin my life like that.  I tried to force myself to forget about her and focus on other people, consoling myself in that, some day, she would come back to church.  How great was my joy when, a few minutes after the Sacrament, in walked Camila with her baby.  It was in the middle of my talk (my talk suddenly became focused on a very different topic) and I was just… so happy.  An indescribable happy.
By the way, we go to church in a tiny rented cabin.  We have about 13 consistent attendees but we are in desperate need of Priesthood. We have a branch president, 1st counselor, elder's quorum president and a mission leader.

The lunch after was a smashing success and all felt the power of the special fast that we had asked of the branch.  Clearly the reason for the success we saw at church yesterday.

We literally spend our days in a full sprint because everything is so far, but we are getting accustomed to the life here. We are running while the locals move with about the speed of turtles.  Life on the island is s.l.o.w.  It seriously reminds me so much of Vancleave.  The boat should arrive today with food so people can quit starving for a little while.  It´s honestly so sad.  The little shops are out of everything except noodles and rice.  The fridges from which these humble people offer us whatever they have are completely bare.  There are only two places in the whole island in which you can pay with credit card: the farmacia and we heard that there is some restaurant really far away, but we haven´t seen it, and we´re not sure if it´s true.  

We are officially in a little cabin and out of the hotel (yes, we also had to pay the hotel in pure cash… we paid with practically every last peso we had because the money takes so long to get here.  We´ve got about 10 bucks to last us until who knows when.  But the Lord is blessing us in so many ways.  Even though nobody has any food, we have been invited to lunch every single day in some miraculous way.  Even investigators have been inviting us.  Our cabin has running water and even has a washer and dryer so we are living large.  

Thank you for your prayers and your concern.  I hope you know that I love you so so much.  I´m so glad that you loved your vacation!  I can´t wait to bring you on vacation here!  (Definitely gonna want to pack tuna packets for that one.)

Sister Thomas

P.S. The boat SHOULD come today!
P.S.S.  Still haven´t seen conference.  I´d love to hear from each of you what your favorite parts were!

Where is the Food?

October 14, 2013

I live in a paradisiacal Vancleave. 
That´s really the best way that I can possibly describe this place.  It´s Vancleave.  Fishermen, farmers, front porch gossipers, and pie.  But in heaven. (For the non-Lippincott's reading this letter, my mom and dad live in Vancleave, MS.  Mara has spent A LOT of time there while growing up.  It is a very small town off the Gulf Coast of MS.  She described it pretty perfectly- lots of fishermen, farmers, front porch rockers, and pie. ) We have 3 paved roads, a waveless ocean with crystal blue water, cliffs lined with the most beautiful trees in the world, and more flowers than I have ever seen in my life.  I have never been more tired in my life: mentally, spiritually, physically,  but things are going well.  We are already beginning to see serious miracles.  For example, the whole week we invited every young man and young woman aged person to play soccer on Saturday morning.  We expected, with a whole ton of hope, about five players.  How shocked we were when, one by one, 30 people showed up.  2 less actives, and the rest was the future of the young mens program of the island.  It was easily the most fun   I´ve had in my entire mission.  Seeing all of those kids show up and then playing with them!  Shoot, they´re good, too.  Really, really good. 
Tomorrow we will be moving into a little cabin that we have to hike to, so we´ll have a nice little home to stay in.  We are always either hiking up a mountain with all of our might or sprinting down because it took so much time to hike up and we are late for our next appointment.  It´s pretty crazy.
There is a serious problem with the island in that they receive shipments of food and everything else for that matter once a month.  We are now at the end of the month, and there is literally nothing. (I'm hoping their monthly delivery cycle is mid-month considering she said they are already out of food and she sent the letter on October 14. If they are out of food already and they still have two more weeks to go.......????) People are starting to have to eat rice everyday, three times a day.  There is not a single fruit or vegetable or slice of cheese in the whole island.  It´s really sad.  The children are pretty malnourished and they are trying to do an intervention program to help them. (Hopefully, with spring and warmer temperatures, all those farmers she talks about will start farming and putting their skills to good use.  If anyone could benefit from having a garden, those people certainly could.  And hopefully, they will share with the cute sister missionaries!!)
 They´re kicking us out already.  Chao!

Much love,
Sister Thomas

Monday, October 7, 2013

La Isla de Robinson Crusoe!! I'm Here!!

October 7, 2013

She arrived!!  I'm so glad I didn't know what day she was flying over.  I would have worried all day long.  Now that I know she is there safely, I can hopefully relax and enjoy the experience along with her!!  

WELPT!!!  Here I am!
The secretary called us Thursday night to inform us that we would actually be leaving the following morning.  Because I had prepared well, I was ready by the time it was time for bed.  Unfortunately I had to stay up with my companion until two and then wake up at 5:30 to finish all her mess.  But, we finished, and we left for the office.  There, the historian and financiero drove us to a little private runway run by LASSA (I think?).  We flew in a plane that seats five passengers, but there was only one other besides us.  You better believe she was taught lesson one.  She´s the mom of the lawyer here. (She makes it sound like there is only one lawyer on the island. Maybe so?)  When we got here, turned out that the lawyer is an investigator of the elders.  Small world.  Anyway, it was an amazing adventure.  As we neared the island... it was a sight absolutely indescribable.  Utterly beautiful.  It was a sunny day with a few clouds touching the peaks of the cliffs.  It literally looked like the island of Neverland when Peter Pan and the kids are flying over it.  Absolutely breathtaking.  And you know what, my camera died right in that instant.  But that´s ok, because I was able to enjoy it and marvel in the beauty of the earth that God created.  When we landed, they drove us down to a dock in a lagoon that was the most amazing thing I have ever seen.  Cliffs hundreds of feet tall with crystal blue water, and hundreds of seals.  Hundreds.  Playing in the water, flopping around on the rocks, welcoming us to their beautiful home.  We got in a boat and made our way around the island. (Awww dang! I was sort of hoping she would get the donkey experience.) I´m not kidding it was the most amazing thing I´ve ever done.  I cannot wait to be able to take you all here someday.  Can´t wait.  When we arrived, the elders ran down to greet us.  Los Chirinos, the matrimonio misional, had prepared us a lovely lunch, and we all sat down to eat fish.    I´ve eaten fish everyday.  That´s about all they eat here. (Good thing she loves fish.  Brenna would starve to death.)Los Chirinos have got to live in the best place in the whole island, on top of a hill where you can literally see everything.  The elders live in the house that we should have moved into, but instead we are in a hotel.  Either way, when they leave, we will not be living in that house.(Not sure where she will be living.)  But anyway, we came well-prepared.   We came with serious plans and began putting them into effect immediately.   I am quite tired, in every respect, but I am doing well.  To get anywhere you have two options: hike up a mountain or hike down a mountain.  Both of which can be pretty tiring after a while.  But that´s ok, because we´re getting stronger each day. (I pray her foot holds up with all that up and downhill walking.)
I love you all so much and hope that you absolutely LOVE visiting the  islands for fall break.  If you see any poor missionaries that are sick of fish, buy them a steak. 

Much love,
Sister Thomas