Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Monday, November 25, 2013

Because Mara's p-day was switched to Friday last week, we were fortunate to get another letter two days later.

 Here I am again!  I have officially decided that I will never again agree to do P- Day on a Friday.  It messes up your mind and body like nothing else.  Not to mention, it was the slowest darn week.  We hardly got to work at all.  When the boat comes, we have to be down there on the dock, anxiously awaiting our boxes as they unload giant wooden crate by giant wooden crate and little  cardboard box of rice by little  cardboard box of carrots.  And everybody is so stressed and angry that they have to wait there all day that we can´t even do contacts or offer our service. 

We had our P-day Friday and planning that night.  Saturday and Sunday were General Conference.  At first, I was frustrated about that too, until we began to watch.   Most amazing stuff I´ve ever seen in my whole life!  I couldn´t even believe the power of this conference.  Can you believe that one year ago I was filling out my papers to serve a mission?  And a couple days before I said that never, would I ever serve a mission?  The coolest part was when President Monson began on Saturday morning, telling how the Church was first established with 6 people.  In our teeny little chapel, in that very moment, we had 6 people (granted, 4 were missionaries and the other two were the ex-Branch President of 27 years and his wife... but either way, we were SIX).  And then how they gave a shout-out to the islands of the Pacific in the Sunday afternoon session.  That was awesome too because we had an investigator there!  WOOT WOOT! His name is Loco-Bruno.  Well, that´s what the town calls him anyway.  But he´s really not that loco.  He´s actually the coolest old man I know.  And he´s so going to be baptized.  And then he will even be cooler.

We received word yesterday that the Chirinos (couple serving on the island with the girls) will be replaced in January by the Jennings - an American couple.  This is serious news.  It most likely means that at least one of us will accompany the Chirinos back to Santiago.

Yesterday we had two beautiful lessons with two people who are neighbors and searching for truth.  It is the coolest thing.  Last week as part of our planning session we chose, according to the Spirit, two sectors in which we would put all of our focus.  Since then, every investigator with serious potential that we have found lives within either of the two sectors.  It´s awesome.  Sorry I don´t have much time to write today, but thank you, each of you for your emails and for, as Justin says, being "AWESOME."
I love you so much!
Sister Thomas

Happy Discovery of La Isla de Juan Fernandez

November 22, 2013

Happy Discovery of the Island Juan Fernandez Anniversary everybody!  Woot Woot!  

The boat came this week and wow are we stocked with food for like 6 years!  Woohoo!   The boat had to come a little bit early for the fiestas of today, so that was a little bit awesome because there was nothing left here and families with young children were living on a diet of pure noodles. (I am thrilled the boat came but I am still not ok with starving children on the island!)

We need to set something straight right now.  Please don`t freak out, but you all need to be aware that the likelihood of us being able to communicate at Christmas is about a negative 99%.  It`s better to just say that it`s not going to happen and be happily surprised than think that it will happen and end up devastated.  But it`s fine!  I`ll just ask to have my call time moved to when I get back to Santiago and then it will be even more special!!

Elder Holland came to Santiago.   Sister Essig took notes and read them over the phone to us while I translated and everyone else took notes... so I didn`t even get to take notes.  But... oh well.  For something, God does his things.  (uh... that doesn`t really make sense in english does it.  Question:  do you understand my letters?  Sometimes... most of the times... I forget my own native language.  People always ask me how to say stuff and I seriously never know.)

We get to watch General Conference tomorrow and Sunday wooooohoooooo!!!  I`ve never been so pumped for a General Conference before!

 President called last Friday.  He NEVER calls.  The last time he gave us a compliment was because we called him with a list of six questions.  BUT HE CALLED US WITH A COMPLIMENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  WOHOOOOOO!  Seriously couldn`t believe it.  He said we had the highest numbers he had ever seen in the Isla Juan Fernandez and that he was excited for us.  So that was cool because the day before that, we officially decided to never again focus on numbers.
 And here`s the story about that.  It was Thursday.  Thursdays are our Weekly Planning Day.  Weekly Planning should never ever go beyond 4:00 in the afternoon unless there`s a serious problem between companions or something like that.  Welpt, there we were planning away, and extremely tired. Tired of our circumstances, of the island, of not seeing success, of each other, and the list goes on.  We began to talk about what we needed to do to fix this place up and ourselves and how we were going to really start seeing success.  Realizing that we were and still are completely incapable, we turned to the Lord.  We began to pray.  We prayed  telling the Lord that we were no longer going to think about the pressure we feel from the  rest of the world, about the numbers, about how everyone`s last hope for this place is us, about how if we fail, this island will fail, but instead about what God wants us to achieve.  That`s all.  Just what He wants.  We got up at 5:00 and went out to work.  We went to an appointment with a less active, and found her nonmember husband there as well.  He has been atheist for three years- ever since the tsunami took away his 8 year old son.  It was the most power-packed lesson I have ever experienced as he began to explain how our Talent Night opened his heart and how that night, for the first time in 20 years, he knelt down to pray, how he is ready to accept God in his life again, and how he is ready to change.  I cried.

The next day, we had a similar experience with a woman named Yasna who we found outside of the police station.  Within 15 minutes she was telling us her whole life, how she used to have to beg on the streets in Santiago, how she hardly has anything to give her children these days, but how she works, throwing rocks on the beach, in order to feed them.  The next day we taught them and she and her older son immediately accepted a baptismal date.  The Lord just needed us to humble us a little bit and refocus our thoughts and attitudes.  We have been so blessed. 

Love to all!
Sister Thomas

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

November 4, 2013

This letter is basically Mara  answering my many questions I had for her.  It is nice to finally get some reassuring news.

Happy Monday morning to all!!
( On Friday morning, an earthquake in Santiago registered 6.5.  For those wondering, yes, panic struck in me....not because of the quake but because of the tsunami potential that comes after the quake)
 The earthquake:  Nobody told us anything.  One day we were teaching in a home where the news was on and saw for like 20 seconds that something had happened, got worried for about 10 seconds, and then forgot all about it.  We´re still alive and all is well.  And yes, after the 2010 earthquake, every house, building, and structure in general was built to withstand whatever shifting the earth  desires to make.
Package:  I mentioned a package because I would really prefer  not to receive anything.   I don´t want my companion to think I have more money than her  and it would really be best that you just send me your prayers for Christmas instead.  Plus, we can´t give out our address. All mail that we receive must go through the mission office.  This week, they sent us a package to make 72 hours kits (reassuring??) and in mine was my birthday candy bar, so I will definitely be here at least through January anyway.
But really, prayers would be preferable.  Thank you! (She IS getting a Christmas package as well as her companion!  I mean, really?? Does she know her mother at all?)
Cash: It came!  We are no longer in extreme poverty.  Extreme cold, maybe, but poverty, no more.  Our house is basically painted plywood.  And so, without, heat... it gets dang cold with the humidity levels here.  At night we tuck ourselves in and turn on our hair dryers inside our sheets.  It´s so funny.  And so warm.  Try it.  Seriously.
Elders:   They left quite a while ago but we got an update from one of them today that he found the family of an investigator here and is teaching them there in Santiago!  So cool!
President: Knows quite a bit. (I asked her if she was communicating with the mission president about her situation.  Mara has a tendency not to want to trouble other people with her problems) He was EXTREMELY feisty with us for the first few weeks.  Not that we did anything wrong... I think he was just nervous for us being so far away and having so many problems and what not.  We were really quite terrified of him for a while there, but this week we called him to ask him some questions and he gave us a real live COMPLIMENT!  It seriously made our whole week and gave us strength to keep going. 
Chirinos: We see the missionary couple almost every day. They are so wonderful.  Angels.

Companion: (I asked how her companion is doing because I know she had been struggling some)  We are  the of best friends and doing so so well together!  She struggled a little in the beginning and just had to work through some things in her head.  Luckily, I was just the companion necessary to help her work those things out.
 Just so you know the Island Anniversary is the 22nd of November.  Our P-day for that week will be changed to that day (Friday?).  So, don´t freak out on Monday when I don´t write.  Most likely I will still be very much alive and well.  Haha.
Church:  Yesterday, a wonderful Peruvian man named Miguel went to church.  Unfortunately, it´s a little complicated because he leaves to the continent this Friday.  We never even taught him, we only invited him to church.  And he came.  And he loved it.  And he wants to keep going and share with his family and find the missionaries there in Santiago. He will be coming back in January, and I have absolutely no doubt that he will be a priesthood-holding member!  Woohoo!
Island Complications:  If someone gets sick, pregnant, or hurt in anyway, they have to fly to the continent.  Imagine!!  At 7 months pregnant, every woman has to fly to the mainland and be there, alone, until at least two months after the baby is born.  If someone has a heart attack,  Darn.  Hope you make it in the 5 hours that it takes to get a plane here and get them back there to a hospital.  And if it´s a rainy day?  Welpt.  Stinks for you.
Island Bonuses:  ALL healthcare is free.  Granted it´s junky.  But it´s free.
Elder Holland IS COMING!    Well, he is coming to Santiago.  I am bummed I can't be there but I think we at least get to listen over the phone, assuming that the connection is good that day.  We and the missionaries from Isla de Pascua (Easter Island) are going to tune in on the phones of President and Sister Essig.  (The best part about this news for me is knowing that she actually has access to a phone and I might get the Christmas phone call after all)
Conference:  Still haven't seen it.  We will get to watch it in a few weeks....I think.
Satan:  Has had a powerful grasp on this island for WAY TOO LONG.  It gets scary sometimes.  Really freaky things happen here.  But the clouds are truly beginning to part (literally too, the rain is beginning to stop!) and the power of God is breaking through.  It is so beautiful to watch day after day.
I love you so much and pray for each of you daily!

Sister Thomas