Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Week 52

Soccer activity on p-day 

Well, here it is! This Thursday I will have one year in my mission. I can’t believe that I am already to this point in my mission. I really have to be careful with time now. It gets faster from here on out. It’s all been like a dream to me. It almost doesn't seem real; all the things that have happened.

The week was great!  I’ll admit that it was a bit more challenging because I got even more sick during the week and was a bit low on energy from that. To make it even more difficult for us as missionaries, the Chilean Independence Day was this week, and that meant: DRUNKS. Their independence day is on the 18th of September but they practically celebrate the entire week. It got pretty crazy, but, in the way I least expected.... I’ll talk about that a little further into the letter.

The beginning of the week was just a buildup to the holiday on Thursday. The majority of the people we tried to visit told us to come back the next week after all the parties had ended. I expected to be finding more people in the streets and in their houses with families, but everyone ended up leaving to other parts of Chile, to the ''campo'' or camping, or to the countryside. Chillán felt like it was slowly draining out.

However, we did still have some good visits. We focused a bunch on less actives and converts rather than investigators to start. Right now we are really focusing on helping a less active family. The E P family. R the mom, I the kid, and C the dad haven't gone to church for ages. I and C were baptized this last December so they are still recent converts. They understand quite a bit about the church, and have a lot of potential, but the only thing they lack is a desire to go to church. We commit them and help them but they are never up on Sunday morning, and have their phones turned off. We keep visiting, teaching, and trying to get them to church. They didn't get to church this week but we will keep trying. We taught a really good lesson about the plan of salvation this week with them, we included some Mormon messages with it, and it was really powerful. We all felt the spirit.

M our investigator started progressing again this week. We had powerful lessons. I have rarely seen people as sincere as she is. She has given up alcohol while we have been teaching her, but she is still trying to drop smoking. We taught her the plan of salvation and verified with the word of wisdom throughout the week. We had great lessons especially on Saturday. M, and M (the first counselor in R.S. who accompanied us) Were both in tears in various parts in the lesson. M has had some incredible experiences with us missionaries. You can feel her earnestly in her prayers. It is a witness to me that God lives and his gospel changes lives. You can see Gods light starting to open her life. We extended an invitation to the church hosted party for the 18th, and to church. She accepted both and went to both.  She loved the party for the 18th and made a lot more new friends and loved the church as well. That was her 2nd church attendance. She has a baptismal date for the 4th of October, but we will see how she does with dropping cigarettes.

Now for the party. The church was open from 10:30 in the morning till 10:00 at night. It was mostly just to provide a great place to celebrate in a family friendly event. They were blasting Chilean Cueca music all day long. It was a good break from all the stinking Reggaeton that we hear all the time. (so sick of that music. Haha.) We went to check if M had arrived. When we got there we saw that she hadn't. We went back to her house and she was just about to leave so we walked back to the church with her. We dropped her off and tried to get a few things done for the day and to our surprise the streets were EMPTY (With exception to a few drunks). It looked like the city had been abandoned. There was no one in the streets and very few cars going down the roads. It surprised both of us. We walked around looking for people until lunch time and then headed back to have lunch at the church. We had a good Chilean classic soup with noodles and beans, or ''Porotos Chilenos.'' At the party they danced the Cueca, ate all kinds of Chilean food and played games, we were only there for a limited time but we still had a blast. It was way cool being a part of it all. People were all dressed up in their Chilean dresses and clothes. It was cool to be part of a completely different culture. I was exhausted by the end of the night. My camera unfortunately died in the first part of the day so I wasn't able to take that many pictures.

The day after the 18th I got pretty sick. It was a hard day but a great day. Most people had hangovers and the streets were still empty. I headed to a pharmacy in the morning to get some medications prescribed by our mission nurse and then we headed to the church to clean up the chapel from the party. That day we had a baptismal interview with I our 9 year old investigator (The son of E) and we visited with the V family and their extended family. I passed his interview with flying colors and was really excited to be baptized all his little siblings are really looking up to him and they want to be baptized too when they turn 8 as well.

The visit with the V family went really well. We ended up teaching C's sister, and mother. We shared the Restoration and it went really well. The spirit was definitely present. C’s sister is especially interested because she has seen how much of a change the V's have had. It is amazing to see the gospel changing so many lives. It is such a testimony to me that this is the true church and that the work of the lord is so important in these final days.

To finish out the week we had a great baptismal service for I. There were a bunch of people who showed up to support him and his mom, E (his mom) was very emotional, and it definitely changed her and their family.

For Sunday we had good meetings and it was great that M could make it to all the meetings. In the afternoon we had a crazy FHE at the V’s with like 30 people. I thought it was a bit much but it went down really well, haha!

I'm going to start something up in these letters from now on and add something informative about Chile, or just what is going on about the culture.

Weekly Cultural Thought.

So since it was the 18th this week, the food and the dancing were the major hits. The main items of food that were shared were: Asado Chileno, Las Empanadas, Pajaritos Chilenos y el mote con Huesillo. You can go and google those items go get a glimpse of what they are. All I can tell you is that it is all DELICIOUS!  Also you can go and google the Cueca the national Chilean dance. Their music for that is pretty unique as well.  Other than those celebrations they usually like having alcoholic beverages.  We offered to help with service to a lot of people this week. Most were just chopping their weeds. Yes, not pulling weeds, but chopping weeds. Here to get rid of all their weeds they just take a huge bladed tool and just chop them all up.

Spiritual thought.

This scripture impacted me this week.  2 Nephi

13 And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away.

14 And now, my sons, I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning; for there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon.

15 And to bring about his eternal purposes in the end of man, after he had created our first parents, and the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and in fine, all things which are created, it must needs be that there was an opposition; even the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life; the one being sweet and the other bitter.

16 Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other.

I think it is amazing how many people don't know that God is more than just some mist floating around far far away. It is comforting to know that that God LIVES and He LOVES US. Those sacred truths can change the world if people really knew, believed, and applied it in their lives. I know He lives and that He loves us. He speaks to his chosen servants today.

Thanks guys for all the support this week. I feel your prayers and I feel your love. It carries me forward. Thank you for all you have done for the whole first year of my mission. I know that time is going to fly like crazy from here out. I love you guys so much. You are everything to me. I love you and miss you. Have a great week!!

Elder Ethan Haws

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Week 51

Woah.... The guy in the cyber just offered me a glass of juice to get started. ALRIGHT!


I can’t believe that I am already 3 weeks into my transfer here in Chillán. It is true that the harder you work and the busier you are, the faster time goes. Time has never moved on so quickly.

I would have to say this week was an interesting one for Elder Bird and I. We worked hard and I learned a lot more about Chillan. Our week was really up and down and up and down. We had amazing days and really disappointing days.
Alright, since some of the days weren’t that exciting, I’m just going to give you all the highlights.

- On Tuesday we worked our brains out. We were all over the place. I think we walked around nearly every part of our sector... No, I don't just think we did - I know we did. We had 4 lessons with members, and found 3 new investigators all in one day. We got home and collapsed. We visited both Eugenia and Sayeññ and they were both doing very well after their baptisms from the past Saturday. We passed by Mitzi and re-established goals for her to quit smoking and continue going to church. We also passed by Ruth Puga and her son Ignacio. Surprisingly they had Barbara, Ruth's Niece, and Barbara brought her boyfriend Ignacio over as well. 

- We focused on Evelyn Carrasco and her son Ignacio who wants to be baptized this next weekend. We found out that the apartment complex where she lives actually isn't inside our ward boundaries but really it’s just on the edge. We explained that situation to her and we are now discussing those issues with the bishop

- We helped the sister missionaries with their baptism on Sunday. One of their investigators David, was baptized this week. He is pretty old and it was cool to see him make such a decision when he has participated in so many religions before. That is so rare here in Chile. You could see the emotional change in him after his baptism. He obviously felt something deep inside him. It was cool to see that.

- For the international service day for the church we went to the Cemetery and cleaned up the place a bit and re painted the fence. The event even made it onto some of the radio channels here. Cool exposure for the church.

- I got pretty sick on Friday. I woke up with a little sore throat and allergy symptoms and it slowly got worse through the day. By the night, I was dizzy and had a huge headache. But a good night’s sleep took all the major pains away. I feel a lot better now.

- The cold is slipping away here in Chile. People are shedding their winter coats and there are more people outside. The skies are always filled with kites now. This upcoming week is the week of Chile's Independence Day. The 18th of September they call it. It’s going to be one crazy day. It seriously is going to be the zombie Apocalypse of the drunks. I can’t imagine what kind of things we will see this week. Chileans like to party hard - a little too hard at times I think. We will have to see how this all turns out. The church is hosting a giant party all day at the chapel to have a friendly atmosphere with no drugs and alcohol for all the members and everyone else who wants to join.

- The week was a hard one for finding new investigators, we have set some serious goals to find some people this week despite all the festivities.

- Above all I have been working a ton at getting my optimistic attitude all back together 100% again. It’s been taking blows for a long time and I'm realizing more than ever how important it is to just be happy no matter what. It’s easy for me and its really who I want to be inside.

Sorry for the short letter guys. I dealt with a lot of technical difficulties today!

I'm looking forward to the week, It should be quite the adventure going out and seeing all the patriotic holiday madness that is surely to come. Hope you all have a great week this week! Love you guys tons!

Elder Ethan Haws

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Week 50

Elder Bird and Elder Haws 

September 8th 2014! It’s nearly been a year now. And one year from today I will be heading home from my mission. Time is flying like never before. In an intense sector like Coyquen, time is now washing away.

This week was an interesting one. It was just a week of getting used to the companionship, the sector, the people, and organizing all of that.

Crazy P-day just trying to get everything done. We had a fun morning spending it with Felipe Vergara. He taught us the basics of the national Chilean dance, the Cueca. After that we went to downtown Chillan and did all the usual things we do on P-day. We rushed home and then we were right out to work. That evening we visited a recent convert named Norma, and had a FHE with the Rebolledo Molina family. It was pretty hectic running around trying to get to those appointments and getting our contacts, but I enjoyed it. The FHE was really good, we talked about agency and shared a few snacks at the end.

Crazy day. We had a good Zone class in the morning and right after, our district leader, Elder De Leon, with his comp tagged along with us 4 missionaries of Coyquen for the day. We had 4 baptismal interviews to be done throughout the day so É De Leon thought that it would be best just to have a mini cambio with us. Our 2 investigators that were preparing were Sayeññ Vergara, and Eugenia Becerra.  Thankfully all our investigators passed their interviews! We celebrated the success that evening by cooking up a few hot dogs.

It was a simple day mixed with disappointments. Lots of our appointments fell. People simply just dropped us left and right. We pressed on even though things got tough. Our main appointment was with a less active that is coming back to church and her son who wants to be baptized. Her name is Evelyn Carrasco and her son is named Ignacio.  We had a good lesson re-teaching some of the lessons and Ignacio is now preparing to be baptized on the 20th.

Again it was a pretty simple day. We did have a great experience though.  In the afternoon we were looking for inactive members and their houses. A few days earlier we had been looking at our map in the house to find some of the streets that we couldn't find.  Elder Bird found some of the streets, so we planned to go and find the people on the street.  So on Thursday we went out and started knocking on doors. Everyone rejected us, either throwing out ridiculous excuses or just yelling and slamming the door in our face. Finally we came to the last house and last name. We shouted ''Alo'' a few times but no one came out. But  we stayed there and continued to wait. After a bit a lady came out and let us right in. Her name is Leila. We sat down with her and her family. We began to share a message about the atonement, and she began to cry. She explained that a few days before she had been praying that someone could come and that she could get help. She has been in a lot of complicated and sensitive situations that are probably so deep that we can only help her to a certain extent. But still it was incredible to be an answer to her prayers. It is amazing how God works through simple and small things. We carried out the message and finished the visit. We had a FHE that night with a less active family and shared a good lesson about seeking the kingdom of God.

A pretty regular day, the only thing different was our FHE with the Vergara family. All 6 missionaries of Coyquen were there as well. We had a good lesson about happiness, played games, and ate some snacks.

This was a great day because I had my first baptism in 10 months!! We had a great experience having 4 people baptized and seeing the change in them. Earlier that morning we also had a good lesson with our investigator Mitzi. She is determined to be baptized and she is still progressing.

Eugenia's baptism 

Sayeññ's baptism

The Vergara family

Eugenia, and Sayeññ were confirmed. I got to be a part of confirming Sayeññ as well! We enjoyed church, weekly planning, and visiting with a few people in the afternoon. It was a good day.

The week was really just focused on the baptism and getting used to everything. Elder Bird and I are becoming better friends and we are enjoying our time here. I am loving the members and I am loving the pace of the work here. It is so insane and overwhelming but I love it. I am excited to learn how to work with everything that I have. This sector will be pushing me to my limits in a positive and helpful way. It could possibly be the most exciting time of my entire mission.

Thank you all for your constant support. I love you all! I miss you all so much and I hope you are all doing great. Keep pressing on. Enjoy everything that comes your way, and always give your best. I love you all so much. Until next week.

Elder Ethan Haws

Elder Bird being...a spy?

A cool instrument called a kalimba

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Week 49

 Parral/Linares Zone Conference in August

Wow, my entire world got flipped around this week. Sometimes I have these weeks in the mission where so much has happened and so much has changed that a typed letter cannot possibly contain the least bit of the details. So, I'm going to type like a mad man to get all the details that I can in. Warning, this may be a long letter.

So, we got the news Monday morning and I got right up and packed up all my stuff. We went to Parral to go shopping and to go to the cyber cafe and write letters. After we returned, we went right out to say my goodbyes. We took the bikes from the Sepulveda family and rode around Retiro for the last time like mad men. Through the day I was able to say goodbye to almost everyone.

- The Sepulveda's
- Nancy and Juan
- Eliana
- German
- Sandra and Jose Retamal Bravo
- The Perez Cerna Family
- Verania
- The Saldaña's
- The Abarzua's
- Miriam and Estefania
- and finally the Uribe's

 Last goodbyes with the Uribes outside our house

I’ll just say that it was a very emotional day for me. It was extremely hard to say goodbye to everyone after being there for so long. A couple of them we just cried together for a few minutes. It was hard, but I know I will see them again. I love Retiro. It has been the hardest 6 months of my life, and I have really grown up. I feel like I learned enough for a lifetime there. I will never forget the experiences there. The main lessons I learned there were:

- Obedience is POWER. It shapes our life and it controls our happiness. It even affects our mood and appearance. Diligence and obedience play huge parts in every part of life and if we obey and if we are diligent, we will never be lost or left alone.
- The love for others is a huge part of the work of salvation, without charity we are nothing.
- We always have to be optimists. No matter what happens we need to smile, laugh, and keep going.

The next morning I was up and off to Chillán. I had no idea what to expect, but I was just beaming with gratitude for a new start. Quickly we got to the terminal and I got off, grabbed my stuff and greeted my new comp, Elder Bird. He is tall, really skinny, and has bright red hair with nearly clear eyes. We walked and talked as we traveled to the nearest bus stop and waited. We took a bus, got to the house and I started to unpack a bit. Soon enough the other elders got back. Elder Sanábria from Columbia and Elder Vasquez from Mexico are the other elders that are in Coyquen with us. E Vasquez got changed here with me and we are now trying to learn the sectors.

Let me just tell you that my mission has been like the path of Nephi's Journey to the promised land. I feel like I’ve been wading through the wilderness and crossing the sea for a long time now. When I got here in Coyquen I felt like I arrived in the promised land.

Coyquen is huge. I cannot tell you how overwhelming it is. It’s about 6x the size of Retiro. I was so accustomed to a small sector and a lazy people. I am on the complete opposite end now! It is a massive sector, massive ward, in a very upbeat-positive-willing to work atmosphere. Seriously, the ward right now is exploding. Church attendance is maxing out the chapel capacity. There is a lot of progress and a lot of good things happening right now.

I feel so good to be with another companionship now. It felt so lonely in Retiro at times just being the two of us. The house we live in is really small. It’s the simplest house you can have for 4 elders. We are going to clean the house and next week I will send pictures so you can see what it looks like. Us 4 elders in the house already make a great team, by the end of week one we are all good friends. This cambio is going to be a blast.

Elder Bird is a cool guy. He grew up in Washington, near Seattle and moved to Idaho right before he left for his mission. He is 21 years old. He is a lot more serious than I am, but still has a good sense of humor. He gets things done and works hard. Is a straight forward cut to the quick kind of a guy, it’s great. We are going to be good friends. He has been in the mission for a month and a half less than I have. (about 9 or 10 months.)

Elder Sanábria is a crazy and enthusiastic Colombian. He’s got fair skin, he is 20 years old (I think) and Has 10 months in the mission. He’s really short but compensates that for his personality. He loves Rubik's cubes. He has his own phrases like ''Para que voy a mentir?'' (why am I going to lie) and ''Alli no mas!'' (that’s about it) in his own special voice. He has a good way with people, and is really outgoing. I am going to learn a lot from him. He got to Coyquen with Elder Bird and they have both been here for like 3 months or so.

Elder Vasquez is a really chill Mexican. He has dark skin, and grew up in Mexico City. He is 24 years old and has 4 months in his mission. If I were to describe his personality in any way, I would say that he is just a SUPER chill guy. He is kind and respectful, with the wittiest sayings and jokes you could ever hear. When he says ''Imaginase'' (can you imagine) after a comment it makes me laugh for a good few minutes. He is going to be a good friend of mine. He brings a lot of laughs to the house.

There are also Hermanas in the sector, Hermana Richards from Texas, and Hermana Tellez from Bolivia. In total, we are six missionaries.

The members here are AMAZING. I already am getting to know them pretty well. I don't know very many because there are so many but, the ones I already have met are awesome. It will be so good to work with them. Nearly all of them are more than willing to go out and work with us. That is incredible to me. I haven't seen missionary work this brilliant and effective in my entire mission.

One of the families that I am coming to be friends with is the Vergara family. The parents Gina, and Christian were baptized just 2-3 months ago, two of their kids Felipe-17 and Constanza-14 were just baptized last weekend. The other two kids Cristian-19 and Sayeññ-10 haven't been baptized yet. Sayeññ has a baptismal date for this weekend, as well as another investigator named Eugenia. My first baptisms in nearly 9 months will be this weekend! Woooo! But the Vergara's are incredible. They are a family that no doubt will become some of my greatest friends.

 This morning Felipe Vergara helped us learn "La Cueca" (the Chilean national dance) - Elder Bird is seated on the left, Felipe, Elder Sanabria, and Elder Vasquez on the right.

Throughout the whole week, we went around and met a lot of people. I got to know all of the investigators, CR's (recent converts) and MA's (less actives). I am still so lost due to the giant sector that I am in, but I am so content to be in such a marvelous place.  I don't have much else to describe other than that because I'm still trying to get my head wrapped around everything.

In district class this last Wednesday, I realized how much time I have in the mission. Everyone presented themselves and I realized that I am one of the oldest here, time wise in the mission. It is insane to me how fast time has gone by.

I'm a lot more happy now, and I'm smiling and laughing a lot more than I have been in a while. I feel like life is going good.

All week long my confidence was boosted like never before. All I heard this week is ''Elder, you speak Spanish very well!! How much time do you have in the mission?'' I am realizing that Spanish is no problem for me now. Once, my biggest test has now become my strongest point. The members complimented me up and down this week. We all got along very well. I was not used to that or expecting that. I haven't heard anything like that in a long time.

This week will be lots of fun now that I have an idea of where I am. It is a blessing to be in Coyquen.

Quick invitation to the family. (and friends)

A week ago, Elder Bednar spoke at BYU educational week. His talk was very special and I find it very interesting. I want to invite you all to download it watch it and talk about it. It’s something that we all need to apply in these times that we live in. Maybe you could watch it for a FHE and talk about it. I think that would be cool. It is a way that we all can be part of missionary work! Here it is:

The video is downloadable.

I am so grateful for the blessings that are coming. I am grateful for a loving Heavenly Father and Savior. I know they live and watch over us. I hope you all had a good week and hope this week is good for you too. It was good hearing from all of you. See ya next week! Love you and miss you tons.

Elder Ethan Haws

 Chillan at night