Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Week 70

Wow, another week down!

The week was tiring! Phew…. We walked around…….sooooo much…

We walked around so much because we are still in the midst of good old summer vacation. Oh what fun it is for us missionaries. We are happy for people to be out and enjoying time with their family and hopefully doing some good things but it just leaves us without work.

I feel bad because there isn’t much to say about the week. Other than walking around looking for people we were only able to visit some people.

We were able to finally visit Estefano and we taught him the plan of salvation. He was pretty intrigued. He is progressing well. We are a bit bummed because he told us that he has to cover a shift of another employee at his work and aren’t going to able to visit during the week. So…. We are just going to have to find more people to teach. And last but not least he finally came to church again! He had a good experience and it went pretty smooth. I was even assigned to give a talk. I spoke about building Zion in our homes, hearts, and ward and how we can become unified through the work.

We had a huge cleaning day on Thursday.

Every single missionary had to stay inside the house all Thursday morning until 1:30 cleaning the house from top to bottom. I focused most my efforts on our kitchen and the house turned out to look amazing. It was awesome having that project. We definitely can feel the spirit a little better in the house now. You should have seen the pile of garbage that we threw out.

I was actually able to play basketball for the first time in ages. I don’t think I have played basketball in more than a year. It was awesome playing something I actually like a lot. It was also awesome to prove to all the Latinos that I’m not so bad at sports after all! Hahaha!

We are getting to know all of the members a lot better and we can tell the difference. The members in church were all a little nicer to us. We are just trying to fix everything after so many really overbearing and kind of mean (pesado) missionaries have passed through the sector. We think that some missionaries have hurt lots of people’s feelings a bit and we are just trying to repair all of that.  This is our main focus in the work right now.

It was a loooooooooooong and tiring week, but our spirits aren’t quite down yet . We are hoping for a much better week! WE know that good things will come.

I was walking down one of the main streets of Conce, (Carrera) and this scripture kept bouncing around in my mind. It seemed like I understood Alma perfectly in this moment.

Alma 29

 1 O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people!

 2 Yea, I would declare unto every soul, as with the voice of thunder, repentance and the plan of redemption that they should repent and come unto our God, that there might not be more sorrow upon all the face of the earth.

 3 But behold, I am a man, and do sin in my wish; for I ought to be content with the things which the Lord hath allotted unto me.

 4 I ought not to harrow up in my desires the firm decree of a just God, for I know that he granteth unto men according to their desire, whether it be unto death or unto life; yea, I know that he allotteth unto men, yea, decreeth unto them decrees which are unalterable, according to their wills, whether they be unto salvation or unto destruction.

 5 Yea, and I know that good and evil have come before all men; he that knoweth not good from evil is blameless; but he that knoweth good and evil, to him it is given according to his desires, whether he desireth good or evil, life or death, joy or remorse of conscience.

 6 Now, seeing that I know these things, why should I desire more than to perform the work to which I have been called?

 7 Why should I desire that I were an angel that I could speak unto all the ends of the earth?

 8 For behold, the Lord doth grant unto all nations, of their own nation and tongue, to teach his word, yea, in wisdom, all that he seeth fit that they should have; therefore we see that the Lord doth counsel in wisdom, according to that which is just and true.

 9 I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy.

 I love those verses and I understand them so well now. At times I wish I could declare these things with such force that people would just listen, but it is the will of God and all people have their chances. Besides, it is through small and simple things that great things come to pass. I truly glory in my calling and it is such a privilege to be serving at this time. I truly do love my Heavenly Father and my Savior who bear me up.

Thank you all so much for all your support. I love you all, and I love hearing from you! Thank you for all that you do. Until the next week!

Elder Ethan Haws

Week 69

Elders Castellon, Letelier, Flores, and Haws

Up on the hill above the sector
Phew, another week down again! Time isn’t slowing down a bit!

So here we are, another day in the cyber describing the week. The week was very simple. The letter will be pretty brief because nothing really happened. Seems like our sector is just a ghost town.

With investigators we didn’t see much action.

-        Estefano was working double shifts during the whole week and we couldn’t talk to him by calling him either. He didn’t come to church on Sunday either. So let’s hope he’s still out there and interested.

-       We were able to find a few new people but they didn’t want to give us too much time to share. We found a lady named Ana Maria and she seems pretty cool. She is having some troubles with her family and we testified that our message was to help people in their family situations like those. We testified of the savior and the lesson went pretty well. We weren’t able to set a stable time to come back so we hope that we can find her this week again.

Our work with the less actives and converts was hard. None of them were home. And we couldn’t visit a single person that we had in our focus group. It was kind of disappointing but we went on anyway.

The great international fair of Concepcion came into town on Friday. It’s a huge setup where various stands from all sorts of countries are there selling cool stuff. We went there today and it is pretty awesome. I got myself a really cool Quena. It’s a typical Chilean folk music instrument. It’s like a flute or a recorder or whatever but the difference is that it’s a long wooden stick. It sounds pretty legit. I like all the instruments that are here. Some are pretty unique.

We are enjoying getting to know the members just a little bit better! We are passing by them a lot more, and I personally can see that it is helping them.
We made glorious brownies with the Castillos.  Here I am ready to cut it all up

One cool thing that happened with a member this week was:

There is a guy in the ward named Alex and Alex was born deaf and therefore mute as well. He was baptized a few years ago and is married to a lady in the ward who has epilepsy. This week he got some special hearing aids and now can hear. It’s pretty cool because he has just discovered what all sound is like and now is trying to learn Spanish. He is a really funny guy. We were all really happy for him. Cool stuff. Amazing what technology can do these days.

Our days this week honestly consisted of walking around hopelessly all day in the heat looking for any living soul that would listen to us. It was kind of depressing but hey, that’s the way it goes sometimes!

There isn’t much else to say! The week was a long one. We hope that this one will be better! Thank you all so much for all that you do for me. This week I especially felt the power of your prayers. I am so grateful for all of you and all of your love! I know that our Heavenly Father is prepared and waiting to help every single one of us. He has angels ready to bear us up. I know the gospel is true. Thank you for everything guys! Love you and miss you! Have a great week!

Elder Ethan Haws
Up on the hill again

Monday, January 12, 2015

Week 68

Helllooooo family, good friends from Riverton, friends from all around, and all others who may possibly and eventually read this message. It is great to be writing you all.

The week was a VERY interesting one and at the end of all of it I feel a lot better. We saw some good changes and my prayers have been answered.

So to start off we had a really average week. We contacted a lot of people, tried to visit with families and we ran around in the blazing summer heat looking for anyone who would listen to us. Even at this very moment I’m sweating to death. It has gotten very very hot. Its feels like the middle of July here and it is very humid. So… Being accustomed to the dry desert heat is a lot different than being here. Oh humidity… how I dislike you.

And speaking of summer it seems that everyone during the day is either sleeping or has run off to the beach. Everyone is on summer vacations now so it’s like working in a ghost town most of the time.

So we worked and worked and eventually we got to Thursday. Thursday for me was a big day. First off we had a zone class (woo hoo).  Even president showed up for this one (whoa) and I even got to play the opening hymn (it was awesome…). So this was a bigger deal. We started talking about working with members and really combining our efforts together as the church. And to our surprise there has been a change.
So as missionaries we have key indicators right? Well if you don’t know we focus on getting lessons to investigators with a member present, Lessons to converts and less actives, references, baptisms, and a whole bunch of other stuff where we have to call in a bunch of numbers and stuff. It really tracks our progress. It can be a really good thing for us. But it is also stressful. In the class our leaders announced that the area has made a change and now all of the indicators we count are:

-          Baptisms
-          With baptismal date
-          Total church attendance
-          Other information (like who wasn’t at church, investigators and their needs and our plans, and other stuff)
-          Contacts
-          If we get 1 lesson with member, 1 lesson to convert or less active, and 1 lesson to a member all in the same day we win a point (a point towards what I have no idea, but it is to track that aspect of the work).

And that’s about it.

All of us were shocked and confused at first.  That leaves it very open to make necessary changes in our wards and work harder than ever with the members to build the kingdom. And to get the total attendance up, there is no other way to work with the members. It is a brilliant move.

Since I was made senior companion back in last June. I have been really stressed about getting good numbers and working as good as I can. But most of the time the numbers haven’t reflected the good work that I have been trying to do. Most of the places that I have been in I have felt that I wanted to make plans to change the ward or branch by helping the members. But that would never show in the numbers. So I never could work that hard.  I am grateful that now I can push harder than ever and be free to do the things I feel like I am inspired to do. I have been praying a lot for this. It is awesome.

So after that, we kind of went wild. We have been working hard getting to know the members. My last comp never wanted to stop by many members and was very selective about the ones we did stop by so it left me not knowing anyone when Elder Flores got here. So now we are getting to know the ward. We already feel greater confidence in all of it.

I am getting along better with the 3 Latinos I live with. Man, they are about the craziest 3 guys I’ve ever known. They were pretty harsh on me to start off with, but now I am good at standing up and fighting back with their jokes and being me. So it has been a lot of fun being with them during the week. I do like never speaking English. It is really fun to immerse myself in the language and I am learning a lot more Spanish. I’m polishing it up real nice.

I’m getting better at fighting off raging and savage dogs. We were on this run down street and were looking for a reference. And as we passed we saw this big pregnant dog on the side of the road just staring at us. we passed by the dog and suddenly a huge German Shepard came roaring out of the fence with green stuff oozing out of its mouth and in an instant adrenaline rush we secured our ground and got ready to fight. I started looking for rocks but they were all small pebbles. As we stepped back, I found some rocks and chucked them just as soon as elder Flores was ready to kick the dog in the face. I nailed the thing and it went back whining. Phew…. I’m getting to love those surprise moments.

We made good progress with Estefano this week but he didn’t come to church. We don’t know why so we will just have to see. His FiancĂ© announced that at first she didn’t want to listen to us and didn’t want to join us for the first couple lessons, but as she listened during one of the lessons this week her mind changed and now she is interested as well. They asked us if we could get together for some kind of bigger visit (basically describing what a FHE is) and then we explained what a FHE is in the church. So they basically set up their own FHE and we plan to do it next week. They also want us to go and help them with a service project at Estefano’s parent’s house. We are excited for all the opportunities we have with them.

Alright that is about it for now. I love you all so very much and I do feel all of your love and your prayers. Thank you sooooo much for all you do for me. I hope that you all have a great week. Until the next one,

Elder Ethan Haws

Week 67

This week was a very interesting week! Haha!

So first off, Elder Stockford headed out to Parral on a very rainy Tuesday morning.
I left him at the side of the bus and headed back into the station and met up with my new companion Elder Flores.

Elder Flores is great. He is from a city in northern Chile called Tocopilla. He is a bit older me and is a bit taller than me (of course….). He is pretty laid back and is a little bit shyer than any other of my companions have been. We will get along great. He has a really thick Chilean accent. It will be good to have 24/7 practice with Chilean Spanish.

It is crazy living with 3 other Latinos. Man, they are crazy. I am so glad I can at least understand them and converse with them. I would feel so left out if I couldn’t.

This week was tough because new years happened. Oh man they party hard here for new years. I swear that every one and a half deserted their houses and every responsibility that they could ever have and left to the countryside, the beach, or somewhere else besides their homes. THERE WAS NO ONE HOME FOR THE ENTIRE WEEK. So poor Elder Flores and I knocked doors, and knocked more doors, walked, traveled, and searched for any living soul that would talk with us or let us in. It was pretty challenging. And honestly we feel completely exhausted after all of it. We are just looking forward to getting this week over with and trying to find people next week now that the festivities have died down just a bit. 

Estefano is progressing very well. And yes, he left during the week as well. So we weren’t able to visit him but when I called him on Tuesday to see how he was doing, he committed himself to go to church. We met up with him on Sundaymorning and went to church. It was a kind of a weird fast and testimony meeting due to some strange testimonies and stories that were mentioned but apart from that he had a good experience. In the Sunday school class he participated a lot again. We are excited. Actually, today we are going to be visiting him and we want to put him with a baptismal date. We will see how it all goes.

The New Year for us was pretty calm. Elder Flores and I walked around the main sector where we work at, Pedro Del Rio, and tried to find anyone who would talk to us. We ended up walking a huge distance. I swear we walked like 8 miles just in the afternoon. At least it felt like it. But after a long afternoon in the summer heat, we headed to the church to set up a new years celebration. There were only like 10 other people there while we were there. Apparently everyone got there after 1:00 in the morning. We were only there till like 10:50 because we had to be in our house at 11:00. So it was a tiny celebration for us.

Haha! Funny experience,

We got there (us 4 missionaries) and realized that we had forgotten part of the invitation; we had to bring our own food. So we dropped our stuff off right away and started running through all of downtown Concepcion in hope of finding anywhere that was still open to buy some food. We walked A LONG WAYS and absolutely no one was open. After a while Elder Castellon spoke up and said that right before he got to the chapel he saw a little negotio that was still open right around the corner by the church. So we ran all the way up there. And lo and behold it was open. It was a new year’s miracle. We had in mind to go cheap and buy bread, hamburger patties, cheese and ketchup.

We got there and asked if they had any bread left and the lady pointed to a big box sitting on a counter. We lifted up the cloth covering it and saw a good sized pile of bread. Feeling content we just looked at it for a bit and after a few seconds Elder Castellon just said, ‘’We’ll take it all!’’ So we cleaned out the place of all their bread, bought 16 small hamburger patties a block of cheese and other things for about 10 bucks. After all of the running around Concepcion we ended up going right around the corner by the church and taking all the bread that they had left.

We went to the chapel and had a little celebration. We stayed for a bit and ended up running back to our apartment building. We couldn’t see many fireworks because there are two giant apartment buildings blocking our view right out of our living room window. But we were able to see just the outer ends of the firework displays. But from what we heard and from the little bit we saw, the firework shows were MASSIVE. It sure lit up the neighborhood. I hope all of you had a good new years!

So that is a pretty basic summary of the week. I love all of you and I am grateful for all of you and what you do for me. I feel all of your prayers sustaining me every single day. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be sharing the gospel as a servant of the Lord every single day. There is no greater pleasure. I am growing every single day and I get more excited to share the gospel day after day. I hope that we can all come together with the same desire and share it with all those who need it! I love you all so much! Until next week.

 Elder Ethan Haws