June 17, 2013

Hola Padres!!!

 
Feliz dia del papá dad!! Sorry, I forgot to say it last week, but I hope you had a good day!!
It sounds like you had a really fun time in Utah! Can’t wait to see the pics!! If you talk to Becca again tell her congrats from me! That is so awesome!!I Can’t wait to see those pics of you from your mission too Dad!!
 
Mom you asked about the weather down here, and it is getting a little colder. And I guess now is as good a time as any to tell you that I got robbed last night…. Elder Hallsted and I were walking down the main road, and 3 flites (the Chilean hoodlums) walked past us. They said their normal hello, and as they passed one of them stole my earmuffs right off my head!!!!!!!! My ears got SOO cold!! haha, so I got robbed, but it really wasn’t too bad:) Love you 😉
 
As far as the package goes, I am still doing good on everything, but If you wanted to make some of those posters, I know the kids down here would like them:) You’re awesome!!
I should be here in Los Olmos until the end of July! They extended this change for 2 weeks with the changing of the mission! So Elder Hallsted and I have another 6 weeks together!! 
 
I want to tell you about something that really hit me strong this week. We were talking with a lady named Karla. She is super cool and even made us pumpkin pie and American tacos!! But, she is having marriage problems becuase her husband is having some serious problems with his testimony. She walked out of her house while we were passing by and could tell she wasn’t doing too well… We talked to her, and she asked us what she should do. We had no idea, but we bore testimony, read a scripture with her, and asked her what we could do to help. She told us ´no me dejen sola, no se olviden de mí. uds son como mis angelitos.´ she said ´don’t leave me alone. don’t forget about me. you are my angels´. It was a really humbling experience, because we really didn’t know what we were doing or what to do to help her. But because of our call as representatives of Jesus Christ, we have the power and ability to help. It really helped me understand the power of my calling and the amount of good that I can do here in Chile, if I continue to live up to my call and Preach His Gospel.
 
Thank you so much for all you do, and the support you give me!! I hope you liked the pics, and I can’t wait to hear from you next week! You are in my prayers as always!
 
Con mucho Amor!
 
Elder Willis

6 MONTHS!!!

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Well it is crazy to say, but tomorrow marks 6 full months on the mission! I cant believe it has flown by so fast!! Im not really a fan haha

Well, this has been a pretty quick week! We spent alot of the time getting Lucas ready for the baptism, and fighting off the rain!! But in the mean-time, we found a few really awesome families to teach, and our asistencia reached 79 yesterday!!! This ward is seeing miracles and I am blessed to be here to watch too!

This week was changes, and guess what happened!? I am staying here in Los Olmos!!!!! Which also means that my mission will be changing at the end of this month! you can tell bishop to go talk to ´his guy´ and get my plaque changed to Santiago Sur mission!! I was also called to be Co-district leader with Elder Hallsted! Im really excited for this opportunity to learn from the other Elders in the district as I get to work more closely with them!

The baptism on Saturday went really well! I couldnt say his name to save my life though…It is Lucas Alejandro Lizardi Vergara, but they kept saying it outloud and trying to have my repeat it. Wasnt working. But i eventually got it, and it was a really good baptism! Our other baptismal dates all fell this week. The Estay family felt that they wouldnt be ready to drop all their substance problems right now, and another family still needs to start the divorcement process. So we are still working on it.

But on a positive note, yesterday we found another really cool family,and they really have good chances at progressing!! We first found the house about 2 months ago looking for a menos activo family. For some reason the house kept popping up in my mind. We finally got in contact with them, and got to know them yesterday. It turns out that there isnt a single member there, and they have lived there for 9 years. It is really cool to see how the Lord works, becuase we were a little persistent with the house becuase we thought they were all members. But as it turns out, the family is ´Católico a mi manera´ which basically means their whole family before them was catholic, and that they believe in God but have no real ties to a church. Luis started out by telling us he doesnt agree with the catholic priests being celebit, which tied very nicely into what we wanted to talk to them about: how the gospel blesses FAMLIES!! So they really liked what we talked about, and liked that we didnt force it on them or tell them that we have the truth and nobody else does. Although it is true, we just havent told them it yet haha! They invited us back next sunday to have lunch with them!! How cool is that!?! We also have a few good leads with other investigators for this week!

So, how did it go witht the challenge I left you all for last week? Remember what it was?? Well if not, I am going to give it again! Think back to yesterday at church, and think of 1 family that didnt go. During this week find a way to contact them, tell them they were missed, and invite them back for next week! It may seem pointless or something that isnt going to make a difference, but it does!! I am amazed at all the people that are waiting for an invitation to come back to the church! All they need is someone to reach out and be their friend. Next challenge for the week, is look for a new family, investigator family, or less active family that comes to church next week and go out of your way to befriend them!!!! This is so important!!!! Invite them to dessert, ask about their interests, show them to the next class, anything!!!! Just show that you are their to help them, and they will keep coming back!!! Think about how you would feel if the tables were turned. Dont let an investigator come to church and leave without ever talking to anybody but the Elders. Christ would be the first one to run up and talk with them.

Well family, I love you tons!! I cant possibly tell you all the things I am learing here, and the miracles I am seeing as I grow closer to the Savior everyday. It is such a blessing to be here in Chile, even though sometimes it is super hard, I know that Christ is always by my side to lift me up and carry me on. I am learning how to rely on Him more and more each day. There is no way I could possibly do this work without Him!!

os amo mucho!! (vosotros is such a joke!!)

Elder WIllis

May 6, 2013

Hey!!
 
So this letter has alot of what I sent to Pres, and some of the stuff I sent to other people, but all of it is good!! jk
 
I’m doing really good here in los olmos. I am working hard on improving my  teaching ability and letting the Spirit guide the lesson. Things are  coming along really well! I love this ward, and all the members here! I feel like there is alot more work I need to do here, with a few families in particular. I have been doing alot of thinking lately, and have  decided to start doing a consecration of everything I do. I have been  trying to do what you taught today during the last week. Looking at every hard choice to make as a chance to make a sacrafice and show my willingess to serve the Lord and the Chilean people. It really helps to keep focused and progressing. I have noticed it is so easy to fall into a rut of saying ´I can already speak the language good enough, and I am more obedient that 90% of the other Elders´. But that isn’t what the Lord expects. He expects us to be obedient for ourselves, and to make sacrifices for the people we are teaching. That is what I am working on.
 
The work here in the sector is going super well!! The Bishop gave us a list of 11 names he wants us to work on, and I am really excited to be able to focus our menos active efforts instead of tackling the  whole list of 1100 members at once. The bishop also called a ward mission leader!!!!!!! FINALLY!!!!! He is a member that comes out with us regularly and has a lot of interest in working with us elders. He is a  very organized man, and understands the importance of his calling as the bridge between us and the ward. I am really excited to start working  with him! We are working alot with the people we have, and did alot of  walking this past week in trying to find new people to teach. Every cita fell… BUT we are even more ready to find them this next week!!!
 
I love feeling the Spirit, and here on the mission I am feeling it more than ever. But sometimes I still read it the wrong way haha. Yesterday I was teaching a lady that my first comp told me about. He said she is  super legit and would be a great baptismal candidate. So we were  teaching her and it was a great lesson. I was feeling the Spirit really  strongly! Then I had an idea that I thought was the Spirit telling me to give her a baptismal invitation. So I did it, and then she looked at me funny and said I am already baptized. I was baptized the same day as my husband!! Needless to say I felt pretty dumb, but I quickly sent the  blame to my other comp who left the sector a month ago! pues, pucha!!!  Elder Robbins me mintió!! haha
 
So a few other cool things that happened this week! Last monday I lost the house keys  and the church keys… They fell out of my pocket as we were getting in  or out of a colectivo. Not entirely sure… But the cool thing is that a week or so before, I had a feeling I should keep the backup keys in my  backpack and take my motorcycle keychain and oil holder off the main  ring. I followed the impression and because of that I still have my  really cool keychain, the oil holder dad gave me, and we were able to  get back into the house!! Bishop is working on getting us new church  keys… haha
 
On Tuesday morning I woke up to my first earthquake!!! It was so cool!!!  It was a 4.9 on the richter scale and lasted for about 5-10 seconds. But it was way cool!! I kinda want to feel another one, but the scary thing is you never can tell if it is going to keep going and turn into a mega quake, or stay as a temblor. I cant imagine how scared the chileans  were last year when the big one hit… It lasted for 2 minutes!! And had aftershocks for days…. But I know the Lord will always protect us!!
 
Mucho amor a todos!!
Elder Willis

April 29, 2013

The work  here is going forward! We had a baptism last week of Javiera, and it was really good! She brought her friend named Madeleinne, and now we are  going to start working with her. We put a baptismal date with her last  week, and now we are going to start teaching her in Javiera’s house  combined with Javiera and her grandma to give testimony and validity to  our lessons. I’m really excited to see how she progresses. Hopefully the  YW here will rally around her like they did with Javiera. For some  reason, the women here in Chile are way stronger than the men. At least  in numbers. The hombres are either super strong in the church, or really flojo and sit on the fence. I am going to start using that example you  taught me about sitting on the fence this week with some of the members  here. They use just about any excuse to stop going to church or say they are waiting to get back active. The time to act is now.
 
Also, this past week we have been really focusing in on another of our  Fechas. His name is Lucas, and his family is so cool!! They have been  menos activo for a long time, but only because they don’t go to church.  They have always been really good with helping the missionaries, giving  references, having FHE´s in their home and everything, just not going to church. But yesterday night we were talking with his mom, and she  really opened up and we had a good talk with her. The Spirit was really  strong as she told us that there is nothing holding her back anymore,  and that she is going to start going back to church even though she has  had bad experiences with the members. And she is going to start working to  go to the temple. During one of the last lessons we had with her, she was teaching her son about obedience. While she was talking I saw her  dressed in white going through the temple. I really hope I can see that  happen in real life too!! I love this family, and I have been so blessed to see the change in their home as they have started to put into effect the basic points of the gospel. This is the family you are going to  meet when we skype!! They are so cool!! And they understand English  pretty well haha. I’m excited for you to meet them!!
 
We are working alot with our other progressing investigators and finding  solid news to help them progress too. Our goal for the week is to set a  fecha with at least 1 of our families we are working with! We found  another family this week from a reference. We were told that a member  lived there but he has been really inactive. We had passed by probably  10 times, and stopped going by for a while. We decided that since we  were close by we would go by again and just try to get into the house to teach something. His pareja let us in, and we started to get to know  them a bit, and then her marido got home with their son! They are a  really cool family and said we can come back by anytime! I’m starting to  learn the importance of getting to know the people we teach really well  before we start teaching them! It makes all the difference!!
 
Well, that has been my week here more or less! I got kissed on the hand by a drunk, and that was weird, but I’m still loving it!!
 
I love you all and hope that everything is going well for you!
 
Elder WIllis

Hey All!

Missi 004Missi 001Missi 002

Hey Family!!

 
So this past week has been super awesome!! It ended on a sad note, but I will get to that later.
 
Frist off, I got your Easter Package!! Thank you so much!! I loved it so much, and so did my comps! It wasnt quite like Easter at home, but it was really close! Thank you so much!!
 
We taught Ines and Francesca this week. Turns out it is a whole family! And they are married!! Ines is married to Nelson, and their children are Francesca, Micheal, and another daughter whose name I dont remember… But they are really cool! We taught them the lesson about the restoration, and they really liked it. Ines told us later that she prayed and it went really well! We went by again last night. Nelson is a really laid back guy who looks a bit gruffy on the outside, but is a real family guy and loves his kids. They are all coming to our English class this next week! Francesca goes to a school called Liahona. Believe it or not, with a name like that it is run by a couple of members. The member who left us the reference saw her wearing the Liahona tie (all the schools have uniforms here) and started asking her if she was Mormon. Well she isn’t, but Ines really likes what the school teaches and the values it expects. We are going back in a week to teach them the first lesson again and invite them to be baptized. Also, Nelson works in the Estación Central selling American clothes. But what is cooler, is that he sells fardos de corbatas. Which are huge bags of ties (20 kilo bags or bigger) for way cheap! We are going to get a fardo and get some really cool ties from him!!
 
During planning meeting this week, we decided to go big, and made pancakes with the Reis family buttermilk syrup recipe! They were soooooo gooooddd!! It was like a little taste of home in Chile! So much fun!!
 
The last photo and the sad part of the week is of the three of us taken yesterday after church in a recent convert’s house. Remember Ashlie who got baptized about a month ago? Her house! Elder Robbins left last night. He was special changed down to Rancagua as a ZL, which leaves Elder Hallsted and I here in los Olmos alone. It is a weird feeling. It was even weirder to watch my mission dad get in the van and drive away from the house. But I’m super excited to keep working here in the sector. We have a ton of work to do, and all the member support to get it done!! One goal I have is to get the ward a mission leader who is ready to work hard! Hopefully it will happen soon!
 
Funny story for this week! We were contacting this little street over in a sketchier side of the sector. A member used to live in the col de sac of this street, and he warned us about the dogs there. He said they were mean, but the last time we went there they didn’t bother us. Well this time, one of them was being a little rowdy and pretend charging Elder Hallsted. He bent over to pick up a rock to show him who is boss, and as he did that another dog snuck up behind him and almost bit his arm!! It was crazy! Right after that a neighbor came out and shooed them all away. But Elder Hallsted still had a good adrenaline rush!
 
I hope everything is going good for you all! I’m loving Chile! The people here are so kind and fun! I’m learning a ton, and learning to get out of my comfort zones. I started doing yoga too. It is really relaxing. But it is also super hard and hurts like crazy!!! If you get a chance, give it a shot!
 
I’m excited to hear from you all! Especially Andrew! I really want to hear from you bud! During conference there was a talk that really stuck out to me and made me think of you! It was by Robert D Hales during Preisthood session. That and the one by Tad R Callister in the same session. If you have the chance, read them both again. There is so much we can learn from them!! I hear you are doing alot of great work for the Lord there bud. Keep it up! I’m proud of you!
 
I love you all family! If there is anything I can do to help you, please let me know!
 
Con mucho amor!
Elder Willis

April 3, 2013

Hey all!

 
Everything here is going super well! Día de los jóvenes combatientes passed without too much ado! We heard a ton of bullets, but we were in the house and were totally fine! There are some pretty cool stories to tell you all after the mission though! I have definitely learned that the Spirit will protect us from any danger as long as we are living obediently. That is the key. Obedience brings blessings, but exact obedience brings miracles. We can always look for ways to be a little bit more obedient. Making the little sacrifices are sometimes really hard, but by small and simple means we can show the Lord that we are willing to serve Him and not the world. Try and find these little things to prove the Lord your willingness to serve Him!
 
Funny story this week! I saved a kitten from a dog!! We were contacting a street when a dog snagged a kitten and started throwing it around. The owner was screaming and asking for help, but then the dog and cat ran under a car and all we could hear were barks from the dog and scared cat screams. I crawled under the car, pulled the kitten under my chest, and swatted at the dog until he gave up and then I pulled the cat out from under the car. I also got to scream at the dog in Spanish which was pretty fun! But the kitten bit by thumb because it was scared jaja. The entire street came out to watch, and it turned into a good PR experience for us. I think the kitten died still, but it was alive when I pulled it out from under the car!! We are going to contact the house again to see how the cat is doing and see if we cant get in and teach them! 
 
A catch up on the people we are teaching! We set a Fecha with Lucas, Angel, Javiera, and her uncle this week! The lesson with Lucas was probably my favorite. His mom asked us to teach him about making choices and how they can affect our lives. She tied Harry Potter and the Sorting hat into it too which was pretty cool. She said that we all have the potential to be really good or really bad, and like Harry, we have to choose between Slytherin or Gryffindor (Harry Potter fans just bear with me here). She said that the choices we make can affect a lot more that just the day we make them, and that some can affect our entire lives. I took that opportunity to invite him to be baptized. We told him that we were going to give him a chance to make a choice that could change his entire life for the better, and then asked him if he wanted to be baptized! It was a really spiritual lesson and his mom was super supportive of his decision! Now we just have to get her to start coming to church too, because she is super super floja…. But así es en Chile… Also, yesterday we were contacting some menos activos and we found a Canadian latino who speaks really good English!! He lived there for 20 years and speaks like the 80’s and 90’s! But he enjoys the Mayan culture and was telling us about the White God who came to visit them, but how they don’t have any records of it. Just that his face is carved on their temples. We gave him a lámina of when Christ came to the Americas and we are going to go back and teach him about the Book of Mormon next Sunday! I have a good feeling about  him! His mother in law is 102 years old too!!! Karen and David are doing good. We haven’t been able to see them this week, but we were told that Matías got a little sick, so hopefully this next week we will get to teach them again!
 
In other news, last night we had cambios especiales!! I am in a trio now with Elder Hallsted! He is the Reis´s nephew!!! It is such a small world when you are a Mormon! He reminds me a lot of Scott, and I am really excited to learn from him. Its not that I don’t like Elder Robbins by any means, Im just really excited to learn from an Elder that is just about to die in the mission and see what advice he has for me! Its going to be a great change! Hopefully I stay with him for another change after this! PLUS! He knows the secret Reis family recipe for buttermilk syrup and we are making pancakes this week just to have some syrup!!! SO STOKED!!!:)
 
Two things that made me think this week. One was during ward conference. The stake president was talking about the Word of Wisdom. He asked the ward about some specifics in the middle of his talk like ´is mate against the word of wisdom? is ecco against the word of wisdom?´ neither are against the word of wisdom. Then he went on to say that when we live too strict or too lax the word of wisdom we are doing it wrong!! It got me thinking about how sometimes we try to limit ourselves when we don’t have to. The word of wisdom is super straightforward. When we limit ourselves more than is states, we aren’t doing what God wants. He set the law and when we try to adjust it we are making our own make law. Obviously you adjust it for your own diet if a specific type of food is bad for you, but other than that we are to live the law that he set and nothing more and nothing less. I really liked it! The other thing that got me thinking was while going to Santiago on Tuesday! We took the micro, and to board the micro you are supposed to scan your bip which takes like 500 pesos off your card. But a ton of people, literally about half on the micro, just walk past the scanners or say permiso. It got me thinking about why we follow the law even when we dont have to. For example, there was nobody  there that would kick them off the bus for not paying, so therefore why even pay? Not saying i didnt want to pay, but it got me thinking a lot about how ´whats wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it, and whats right is right even if nobody is doing it´. It really comes down to integrity. We obey the law not because somebody is watching, but because the law is the law and that is what we know we are supposed to do! As a missionary it is really easy to justify to not live a certain rule or do something a certain why just because ´no other missionary does it´ or ´every other missionary is way worse´. But when it comes down to it, whats wrong is wrong. That is all there is to it! 
 
Everything else here in Chile is going super well! I hope you all had a great Easter, and I’m looking forward to seeing you on skype in a few weeks! If you could get me the cinnamon roll recipe I would really appreciate it:)
 
Con mucho amor!
 
Elder Willis!

Week of the día de los jóvenes combatient​es!

¡¡Hola!! ¿Cómo estái?
 
Well its been a while since I wrote a letter like this, but I wanted to let you all know Im alive and well! Working hard and learning from the Spirit daily!
 
This week was kind of rough, because my companion got sick, and our animo was down. But even during the roughest weeks, you can always find some highlights! For example, even though my companion was sick and didnt have a ton of animo, we had were able to teach Karen and David about the Plan of Salvation and how families can be together forever! And they have a son named Matías, who is physically and I think a little mentally handicapped. At the end of the lesson, we asked them to close their eyes and imagine what it will be like to live in the celestial kingdom with God, Jesus Christ, and our families. Karen started to cry and David said he can imagine Matías walking around and playing with other kids. It was such a sweet experience to be able to teach them about the plan God has for us! We went back yesterday to answer the question that Karen had, which was ´what do we have to do to make it to the Celestial Kingdom?´ We helped her set the goal to make it to the temple with her family to be sealed. I had a feeling during the first lesson that they were all going to be sealed in the temple, and that we were going to be lifelong friends. Its weird, but when we first found Karen she looked really familiar, and everytime I see her I feel like I have known her forever! The picture of the family is Karen, David, David chico (Nacho), and Matías! I love them so much!!
 
Something else I learned this week was that alot of people just need some encouaragement and support! For example, we have never met our ward mission leader. And my comp has been here almost 6 months. He works outside of Chile, and is never really home. We decided to pass by his house and see if he was there on Sunday before church. Well guess what? He was actually home! We invited him to come to church half in hour before is started and he said ´Okay bueno, yo voy!´ It was crazy!! He showed up a little late to church, but he actually showed up! And stayed for Sunday school too! I’m starting to realize alot of people are just waiting for the invitation to start coming back to church. We work alot with menos activo families too, and we found one named the Bahamonde familia. They are really cool, and he knows a ton about what is going on the church and things like that. We went by his house and he is super receptive. We dont really know why he quit coming to church, but we feel like he just needs an invitation to start coming again. A ton of people just need the support of friends to get them jumpstarted again! We found a menos activo single mom and her son as they were moving back into their house after vacation. We invited them to church, taught a noche de hogar with them about prayer and scripture study, and they started to come and read and pray! All it takes is someone to reach out and invite! Look for people in your ward/around you that need that support and do it!!
 
The other picture is of mate. Chilenismo of the week is mate. Well it is more of an Argentine and gringo thing, but igual! It is a drink that looks super gross, but tastes super good!! You buy the yerba in a supermercado, put it in the bottom of a cup with your bomiblla, pour hot water in it, and add drops of liquid sweetener to taste! It is bomb! Also it is way good with crackers or juice instead of water!
 
This week is also the week before Easter, and I want to pose a challenge! Read the talk by Elder Holland ´And None Were With Them.´ This is one of my all time favorite talks, and I am reminded of the power of the Atonement each time I read it. This talk helped me get through the death of my grandma the week before I left for my mission. I know that what it says is true. Because Christ walked such a lonely path alone, we can have the strength and support to do whatever we have to in this life! We just have to rely on Him always through pray and live His Gospel with faith. So the challenge is read the talk, ponder on the message it shares, and think of some way you can rely more on the Savior, or a way you can reach out to someone else who needs that support right now.
I hope all is well for you wherever you are! Know that you are in my prayers and I love you all!
 
Con mucho cariño!
Elder Willis!!