What? & Why?

Sydney is serving a year and a half for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Chile Concepcion Mission from November 2013 - May 2015.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Week 76: Five Points!

Another week has already come and gone. Time goes by so fast - especially when there is so much to do. We’ve even canceled appointments because we haven’t had enough time to visit all of our investigators and less-actives. I love being busy: doing lots, visiting lots, and serving lots!

We even got five points out of the seven for the week! The points are goals that help us keep focused each day. To earn a point for a day we need to visit a member, visit a less active or convert with a member accompanying us, and have an investigator lesson with a member accompanying us. We usually earn three points in a week, but we have been working really hard to get four points. This week we were able to get five! It has made me very happy. We’ve started this week well too; we already got a point for Monday. Six or seven, here we come. Ojala!

My companion, hermana Fernandez, is doing super well and making a lot of progress. She has an incredible memory. She remembers like every scripture known to mankind, and whips them out in lessons as the spirit dictates. It’s super awesome. I think she is going to be a really great missionary. She’s already really good and really cares for the people. I think I will be leaving the sector in good hands, which makes me happy. I love this sector.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Week 75: Emotion Overload

I feel like 50 million emotions today. I normally don’t read the emails I get until later, but today I skimmed a bit. So many things have left me with lots of different feelings. I feel content, excited, anxious, nervous, sad, disappointed, confused, and calm all at the same time. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so many different emotions in such a short period of time. I don’t know how to feel? NUMB!  
We have an investigator who wants to be baptized and is making a lot of changes in her life. She has given up drinking and now is working on stopping her addiction to pills. The day we met her she told us that she wanted to make all of these changes. She seems happier each time we meet with her. It makes me happy. :)

There is also a less-active that is super great, Zulema. After more than twenty years of inactivity she has a great desire to return to church. She went to General Conference and really liked it. She has been attending all the church meetings and activities. She is so great!

My name is on the list

Hermana Johnston leaves May 5th!

Senior Missionaries

Senior Missionaries

Monday, April 6, 2015

Week 74: Time Crunch

Today I hit the 17th month mark in my mission. It’s weird how it feels like it has gone by fast, but then I look back and realize how much has happened. I will be arriving home one month from today. I still have so many goals that I want to accomplish before I come home. You would think I would be a pro at time management, but this is still a weakness of mine. It appears some of our challenges will stay with us for the majority of our lives. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible and I should quit trying. I shall conquer time someday!
We tried food from Thailand for lunch. It was okay, but I’ve found that all the food here from other countries gets "Chileanized". All the food becomes blander. I bet all of the food from other countries in the US gets "Americanized" to have strong flavors and sweeter. We Americans like our sweets.
Saturday and Sunday was General Conference. I love General Conferences so much! Hermano Hector went to every session. He said that he had seen big conferences from many other churches, but never one like ours. He said all the talks were really powerful.

Did you watch all the sessions? I sure hope so! The prophet and the twelve apostles receive revelation from God for our day and it’s important that we listen to all that God is telling us. I really liked the talk about grace, from Dieter F. Uchtdforf. It’s easy to feel like we’re not good enough or that we are failures. This talk helps us to understand that God’s saving grace is for us.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Week 73: Hi & Bye

Today has gone by crazy fast - trying to do everything, but not having time sufficient time to do it. We spent about four hours at the doctor’s office today, so now we have no time to write. We are just dropping a quick email to say “hi” and “bye”. Sorry for such a lame letter. Next week will be better!

Unique Flower

Unique Food

Monday, March 23, 2015

Week 72: No Change

I finally felt some earthquakes! They have always happened in the night, so I never noticed them. Everyone else wakes up, but not me. I can sleep through anything. Everything just starts moving; it’s crazy.

This morning my district leader called bright and early - 20 minutes before wake up time. We were all confused to wake up to the phone ringing instead of the alarm. Today was the last time I will receive the nerve-wracking call of the "cambios". I have been wondering what would happen because I have been in Talcahuano for about six months already. Almost no one stays in an area longer than six months – so that would mean I would probably leave. But I am also training a newbie, and usually the trainer stays until the end of the training.

My last 6 weeks in Chile, I will be in... TALCAHUANO! I shall die (figuratively speaking of course) here in this sector. This makes me happy because I like it here a lot! Plus Hermana Parkin and Caceras also are staying, so I don’t have to worry about getting accustomed to another person or anything. Yay! I am very happy with the cambios. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Week 71: Lots O Migraines

This week was full of things to do (which is good) but it was frustrating because I had tons of migraines. I had one each day for 8 days. Ugh. Luckily there is medicine to take away the pain, so I could keep going. I felt like a bit of a druggie taking pills every day. But what can you do? Just gotta keep going! 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Week 70: 16 Months

I officially hit 16 months in the mission. Whoa man!

 This week went well for me, although I had an increased number of migraines. Luckily we live in an age of advanced medicines, so I don’t have to suffer with them too long.

Attendance at church has increased every week for the past five weeks! At lot of it is due to school starting again and vacations ending, but I’m also sure that people are realizing that it's important to be at church so they can remember Christ by taking the sacrament. It makes me happy to see the less-actives that we have been working with for so long, changing and coming to church. As they dedicate themselves to God again, they become happier people. :) 

Thought of the week:

We should always be asking ourselves, "¿Que más puedo hacer?" which means, "What more can I do?" It’s a fantastic question to be asking ourselves for just about anything: “What more can I do to serve God? What more can I do to help my community/family/friends? What more can I do today to complete my goals for the week?” I encourage you to remember this question all week, and ask yourself, "What more good can I do today, to help make a better tomorrow?"

Monday, March 2, 2015

Week 69: Fabulous Fridays

The Fridays with Hermana Fernandez have been quite good each week for some reason. She says that each Friday will be “Miracle Friday”, and it has been that way for the past three weeks. This Friday it was particularly crazy just how much we could see the hand of the Lord that day.

The first miracle was in the morning. A member accompanied us to an appointment we had planned with someone that was his age (about 68). We had confirmed the appointment, but when we got there the man wasn’t home. Instead we decided to look for Luis, the investigator that we found two weeks ago and haven’t been able to meet again. So we went, and he was there! Luis had read the pamphlet we left and it all made a lot of sense to him, and he wanted to learn more. Coincidentally, Luis and the member we brought with us knew each other and were able to talk about old memories and such. It was cool to see how that all worked out.

Then we visited a member home and we arrived when she and her daughter were feeling very sad and overwhelmed. We came just in time to allow them to vent to us. We talked, shared a lesson, and were able to leave them feeling much better.

Later we went to visit a home that we accidentally happened upon the previous day. We had a lunch appointment with a member, but I could not remember which red house she lived in. We knocked on the door of the house I thought was hers, but I was wrong; a young girl (about 12 yrs old) answered the door. She told us she would love to hear our message, so we made an appointment to come back the next day (Friday). It turned out that the girl had seen us walking around the neighborhood before and had wanted to talk to us, because she loves to study the Bible. Her sister, mom and dad joined the lesson, and now we have four new investigators.

That evening the member we had scheduled with was unable to accompany us on our last appointment. We were a little disappointed because it was the final goal we needed to complete to earn a point for the day. We stalled for time, trying to think of another member who might be able to accompany us. Just as we were about to knock on the door, the other set of hermana’s came into view. They had an appointment a couple houses away and they were accompanied by Hermano Juan, the mission leader. We told them our sad problem, and they told us to wait while they checked on their appointment. It turned out that their person was not home, so Hermano Juan came with us. Then we found that Hermano Juan knew the woman we were meeting with very well, and her family too. The woman, her boyfriend, and her daughter all listened to our message, because Hermano Juan was with us. Now we have more new investigators! :D

Monday, February 23, 2015

Week 68: My List of Miracles

I am adjusting to the changes, so I feel a little better now. The only bummer this week is that it suddenly started to get colder, with lots of wind. I even had to pull out my winter jacket one day. This is probably karma for me laughing at Bryce last week, for being in the cold Indiana winter. Haha.

This week I am going to write all the miracles I have seen within the last two weeks because there have been a lot.

The first cool thing is that I couldn’t have gotten a better newbie companion for me to train. When I was told I would be training a new missionary I was a little nervous. I asked God if he would give me a companion that was nice, patient, and had a desire to be obedient. At the conference all of the trainers met all of the new missionaries.  My companion said she was hoping that I would be her companion because I was very happy and friendly. God answers our prayers because my newbie is everything I asked for.

Last Friday my companion and I found a new investigator who was extremely receptive. His name is Luis, and he is about 65 years old. He believes strongly in God and loves to read the Bible, but he hasn’t been very active in any church for years. We taught him about the restoration of the Church of God and he listened very attentively. Afterwards he promised to read our pamphlet. At that moment I felt the Spirit strong and thought, "I know the Spirit is here in this room right now - I wonder if he can feel it?" Immediately after, as my companion was bearing her testimony, he began to cry because of the strength of the Spirit. He said he knew it had to be true and was very grateful to us for sharing the message, and wants to know more. The only sad thing is we haven’t been able to find him since. But it was a powerful lesson and my companion was able to see the importance of obedience with exactness. Our leaders ask us to make ten contacts each day. This day was the first that she completed her ten contacts, and she realized we received blessings for being obedient.

This Friday we had a lesson planned with a less active family and a member came to help us. The appointment was canceled after we waited for them outside their house for 20 minutes.  It seemed like a bummer. We decided to call another less active that we have been trying to contact for the past month, and she was home and willing to receive us. The lesson went great and now she has suddenly been coming to church again! Later we were able to meet with the original less active family, but we went with a different member. This member was the right person to bring and had really great spiritual advice for the family. God really does have control over his work and all turns out as it should.

On Sunday, five less-active families that we have been working with attended church! For the past four months my companions and I have been visiting a less active mom and her daughter. The mom has become quite active, but the daughter was not interested in church. With the help of the young women we convinced her to go to EFY, and now she has a completely different attitude. She came to church and bore her testimony for the first time. She said she felt the spirit so incredibly strong during EFY and she realized there were many things she really wanted to change in her life. It made me so happy! Her and her mom have watched a bunch of church videos this past week because she doesn’t want to lose the spirit.


My Last Four Companions

Monday, February 16, 2015

Week 67: Training is Tough

For some reason, a ton of people in Chile have gangster hats that say CHICAGO on them. I have been tempted to buy one even though I live right near Chicago, just because it’s a fun memory of Chile. We shall see if I resist. :P

Having a daughter (that’s what we call it when we train a new missionary) is rough stuff man... so much work and patience. I thought before I never had time for myself, but now that has been amplified. I literally have no time to think about anything but my companion, what she needs to learn, helping her feel happy and adjusted, and about ALL the plans! Ugh... its quite stressful.

My companion is Hermana Fernandez from Lima, Peru. She has been a member her whole life. She has a vast knowledge of the gospel, and loves to share it all with everyone. She has been improving in all aspects quickly and she desires to be obedient. I think she will be a good missionary.

New Missionaries Conference

Me and My Newbie

Monday, February 9, 2015

Week 66: Staying Put

This week was really good. We had TONS of lessons! We were running literally from one to the next, and had almost no time in the streets. It made me very happy. Even though I have finished each day feeling really tired, its ok, because I have taught and helped lots of people. I like feeling busy.

On Sunday the mission president and his wife came to our ward for church. Afterward he talked to each of us to see how we are doing. I was having a hard time speaking in English. I kept talking in Spanglish. :P  He congratulated us for helping build up the ward so much. He told us that before we came, the ward had been in a very troubled state and the missionary work was not going well. It is completely different now. Just the other day, one of our favorite families (the Fernandez family) thanked us for what we’ve done for the ward. They told us that we have been great missionaries and we helped change the attitude of the ward completely. I love this ward!

And now I get to STAY again. Yay! Hermana Wallis will be leaving. :( It has been super fun being in the same house with her again (from the MTC days). Her companion, Hermana Parkin, will still be here and will be training. My companion is leaving to open a sector in Tome with my old companion, Hermana Montañes. I’m sad that she will be leaving me since we got along really well. We laughed a lot together and had no problems with one another. My new companion will be…I don’t know yet. I’m being entrusted to train one of the newbie’s when they arrive tomorrow. WOW! Tomorrow I will go to the office, learn how to train, eat pizza with all the newbies, and then meet my new companion. Pray that I get a nice person to train and that I can be a very good trainer! 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Week 65: My 2nd Baptism

MON- Hermano Feliciano and Hermana Blanca took us to the port in Talcahuano and surprised us with a boat tour of the port coast. It was super fun and so interesting!

THURS- We had our Zone Conference and learned how to work better with the members. We also got to see the movie Meet the Mormons. It was so good! Lots of people cried, especially at the end when it showed the missionary - tender memories. It was super inspirational and fun to watch in Spanish. I could listen to the woman from Costa Rica in her own voice and understand. The next time I listen, it will be voiced over in English. :(

This week many people told me my Spanish has improved a lot. At the beginning of my mission many times the contacts in the street said they didn’t understand me. Now that almost never happens. Yay progress! :D

SAT- Hector got baptized! He bought a new suit specifically for his baptism and so he could dress up for Sundays. He is going to be a great member. He has so much faith!

SUN- Hector was confirmed. He seems so happy! He has progressed a lot in the three weeks we have been teaching him. He went from not praying or reading the scriptures regularly to praying twice daily, reading a lot each day, and helping at church each Sunday.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Week 64: Chocolate Creations

This week I have been so busy that the week just went flying by. All week we had tons of lessons! We had to run from one meeting to another sometimes just to make it to them in time. We spent very little time contacting in the street. It makes me super happy to be busy like this. It was such a good week and we could really see the helping hand of God in His work.

Monday my companions and I went to a huge international art fair. There were so many cool handmade art items and unique articles from countries all over South America. There was even a stand from Easter Island. Easter Island is part of Chile, but it is far off the coast and they have their own ancient language. The guy at the booth taught me some words in his language.

Thursday we had a mission-wide cleaning day, so we spent half of the day deep cleaning our houses. It made us all very happy and now the house is wonderful to enter. :)

Saturday we had a Chocolate Festival activity, and it was fantastic! There were lots of yummy chocolate creations. The only problem was that a lot of people ate too much chocolate and felt sick the next day. I felt fine - high chocolate tolerance. My companion and I made Oreo truffles and won for the Best Flavor. WOO!

Sunday the talks at church were great for our investigator, Hector. One speaker even talked about covenants. The talks and the lessons helped us tremendously with the lesson that we planned to teach him later. It was like God chose the lesson topics perfectly so we could help Hector understand the importance of baptism. AND Hector has decided to be baptized this Saturday! I have never met anyone so prepared by God to be baptized. We’re so happy for him.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Week 63: Great Joy

Everything has been super good here in Talcahuano. I love this area a lot - members, investigators, and my companion - everything. I feel that I have learned to really love the mission more since I’ve been here. I am beginning to feel like I never want to finish the mission because I love it, even though it is sometimes difficult.

Many miracles happened and I feel good about our efforts. One day we went to the home of a member who we did not know well. We thought they would not be home because parents usually work during the day, but we decided to try. When we arrived, almost the whole family was at home. We shared a lesson and encouraged them to read the entire Book of Mormon this year. One of the children cried a little during the lesson and had a great desire to read the Book of Mormon.

We spoke with the mother afterwards and she told us that this child has been very ill and depressed recently. Today he was the most cheerful she had seen him for a while, and she was very grateful that we had visited. We felt very good that we followed the impression to go to their home that day. God controls his work!

This week we taught our investigator, Hector, almost every day. He has visited many other religions and has studied the Bible a lot. He understands all that we teach him so quickly; the more we teach him, the more he desires to learn.

On Sunday our super bueno investigator, Hector, came to church. He also came to a FHE with us that night, with Hermano Feliciano (my convert) and his wife. Hermano Feliciano bore his testimony about why it’s important to be baptized and resolved some doubts that Hector had. He talked about how special his baptism was, and that he will always remember Hermana Dietz and I because we were the ones who helped him get baptized. It made me so happy! I thought of the scripture D&C 18:15- “And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!” I really felt that joy yesterday. :)

Monday, January 12, 2015

Week 62: Week of Miracles

Monday, my house companions and I got Pizza Hut pizza and ate it on the campus of La Universidad de Concepcion. Later we visited a member and she gave us a fruit called Golden Berry. I have never seen such a fruit, but it tasted good. Then we shared a message with her and her nonmember husband. Afterwards we got to talk with him and got to know him better. He showed us his talent of playing the harmonica. He was super good. The cool part is he came to a social gathering at the church on Saturday, and he came to church on Sunday for the sacrament meeting too.

Golden Berry

Tuesday, I hit my 14-month mark.

Wednesday, we got to teach our atheist investigator. Even though he doesn’t believe, he is open to listening, praying, and reading the Book of Mormon. He has the desire to believe, and like it says in Alma 32 - just a desire to believe is what a person needs to be able to plant the seed of faith.

We also visited some less-actives, Hermana Mirta and Fransisca. We were able to help get Fransisca excited enough to sign up for EFY. I hope she goes because it will help her a lot.

Thursday, we had a mini-cambio, and I stayed in my area with Hermana Morroquin from El Salvador. It was a fun day, especially because she had served here about eight months ago. She got a chance to see everyone again and how much the ward progressed. With the help of Hermana Morroquin, one of our investigators finally understood the importance of baptism and accepted a goal to be baptized!

Friday, we had our first lesson with Hector. Hector went to church in Chiguayante and afterward told the elders that he wanted to learn more. Since he lives in our area the elders referred him to us. Our first clue that he was super great was after we set up the lesson date, HE called US to confirm the meeting. That NEVER happens! For the lesson we talked about the restoration of the gospel.  Then on Saturday we taught Hector about the plan of salvation and why we’re on earth. He has studied the Bible a lot, and he said everything we have taught him makes sense. He has already accepted a date for baptism.

Saturday, we cleaned the chapel and then went to a good-bye surprise party for someone in our ward. In the afternoon my companion and I were walking down the street, when suddenly a car passed by and the driver motioned for us to wait. They parked the car and a guy and a girl (about 20 years old) got out. It turns out that they have a brother who had taken the lessons from missionaries about a year ago. The girl now wants to learn about the church because she has lost her confidence in her church.

Sunday, was AMAZING! These two random people came to church and the girl stayed the whole time. She really liked it and wants to come next week. Our two investigators with baptism dates came, and also the husband of the member we visited on Monday. Lots of less-actives also attended church, and our recent convert Hermano Feliciano received his first calling as ward missionary. Later in the day we contacted two people from Serbia. Then we had a dinner appointment with Hermano Feliciano and Hermana Blanca, and they made us pizza. Great day! :D

Welcome to Talcahuano!

La Universidad de Concepcion Campus

New Chilean Dress

Talk to Everyone!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Week 61: Happy New Year!

Can you believe that it is 2015? It’s crazy to me, especially to think that I was here in Chile for the whole year of 2014! Tomorrow I will complete 14 months in my mission, which means only four months are left. That is only two more cambios after this one, which means that whatever place I go next is where I will end the mission. It makes me sad to think it is almost the end. Although the mission has not been easy I have come to love Chile, the people, the language and culture, and the opportunity to spend all day every day trying to help others! There won’t be any other time in my life when I can do exactly the same thing. The mission really is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Friday we taught our investigators Fabiola & Barbara and their dad (Hermano Patricio) about the Plan of Salvation. They are great and really have a desire to understand and learn. I really think they are all ready to receive the gospel. We just have to help them get to church. And they showed us their Copihues, which are flowers native only to Chile. It is the national flower of Chile. They are pretty neat! 

Wednesday we had a special fun dinner with Hermano Feliciano for the New Year! We had to be in the house by 11pm, but that’s still an hour more than normal. Here in Talcahuano all the cities have fireworks at midnight. We couldn’t see the fireworks, but we could hear them. Fireworks are illegal in Chile, except for the city shows. We need to be more exciting at home. The ward got together to have a dance from midnight on, and all the YSA in the region had a big dance from 1-6 am. It’s common here to dance all night for New Years.

Copihues - Chile's National Flower

New Years Eve