Wednesday, December 30, 2009

from Kent 12/28

Subj: ¡Saludos de Tierra Bella!

¡Hola de nuevo amada familia!

Hello hello again! The year is wrapping up, and as it is the last Sunday of every year, the ward tries to sing an end-of-year hymn that nobody knows. It's even harder without an accompanist. Unfortunately there's no ''Ring Out Wild Bells'' in Spanish, so we tried our hand at ''Another Year has Passed.'' There were light snickers here and there, usually after the universal pauses at the end of each phrase.

The weather's cooled down a bit these last couple of days, so that's been very nice, we've been able to sleep and all those lovely things that come with not getting toasted. T'was most excellent to talk words with you all on the Christmas day, I will make great effort to make sure next time if the phone can call the U.S., and let you know beforehand. Interesting note of the Spanish language: the past imperfect form (doesn't have specific beginning or end) of the word ''to speak'' is hablaba, pronounced Ablahbah. It caused chuckles to arise within me.

My stomach's trying to take a break now, with the Christmas week, every house we entered was determined to feed us silly. Christmas eve we had a slightly bigger lunch than usual, and then passed by a less active family that loves the missionaries at about 7:30, and they fed us gingerbread cookies (the song ''Last Christmas, I gave you my heart...'' was playing and I did weep on the inside. Not even the other half of the world is enough to hide from that song for just one year!) and other Christmas treats. Then we went to the Gonzalez family where we had a full-on Christmas feast, complete with roast beast. And chicken. And two large heaps of mashed potatoes. Then the next morning was breakfast as normal, lunch was Christmas dinner from the microwave. (Same amount as the night before). Then we stopped by to visit Yasna later that night, where we again ate a plate of steak, another kind of steak, (huge mind you) and chicken again. And of course rice everywhere. These last couple days we've been 'invited' to eat the left-overs of every single house we visit. I've decided to start running every morning instead of just my aerobics-jumping jack-stair routine.

Hna. Blanquita was able to get confirmed yesterday, ¡por fin! She's had something come up every single Sunday the past month, the most recent being her severe burns on her hand. But she was able to make it!We've started working again with Juaqin, Leandro and that clan. It's an interesting case, it's one of the very few where the men and boys in the family want to be involved with the Church, but the women are more or less opposed. The good news is that Leandro (10 years, uncle of Juaquin, 9 years) and Juaquin are gung-ho about the church and reading the Book of Mormon, they have their mark-a-day sheets that they're diligent with, it's just tricky getting them to church, as doing so requires accompaniment of parentals. Also, one of their neighbor friends is excited about it all as well!

The other day we were with Hna. Blanquita talking about the blessings of obedience, and I felt impressed to read the scripture that says ''I the Lord am bound when ye do what I say...'' but had no idea what the reference was, at all. I only knew that 130:20-21 talked about the law irrevocably decreed, until my companion said ''My companion has a scripture about obedience'' and very very strong the reference 82:10 came to my mind, which is exactly the scripture I was hunting. The promises of having what they need brought to your memory is real and incredible.

Transfers are in: Elder Carazas is being transferred to the beach, far away north, and my new companion is going to be Elder Law. Brief history: Elder Law is the younger brother of Hna. Law (now Hna. Beeston, who was one of my teachers for a week and half in the MTC), who was in this very mission a few years ago. Tierra Bella was her last sector. From what I've heard from her, he's a fantastic missionary. From what I've heard of my district leader E. Jensen, who was his trainer, he's a fantastic missionary who knows how to work hard, plan and study well. From E. Nelson (current companion of E. Jensen) who was in the MTC with him, he's ''The man, the bomb, etc.'' So I'm very excited to get to work with him!! It will be interesting because we'll be able to have a bit of extra insight into the sector because of the contact he has with his sister.

New Year's we've been invited to spend with the Presidents of the Soc Soc (Relief society) and Elder's Quorum, who are wedded. There has been promise of ''cordero de palo'' which is roasted lamb, greek style. On a stick, o'er a pit. :) We're only allowed to stay out until 10:30 however, so we won't get to participate the real festivities. All is well.

Cultural notes: Almost every meal has a plate of salted tomatoes available for mixing with food, as well as a bowl of chopped lettuce somewhat soaked in lemon juice and a bit o' salt. The condiment of choice, which is used for almost everything, no matter what it is, is mayonnaise. However, this mayonnaise is glorified. I don't know how or what's different, but sweet biscuits it's fantastic. Few people have cars here in Tierra Bella, let alone pickup trucks, so very often you'll see someone on a bike with a 10'-15' board or pole, if not several, balanced on his shoulder.

Enjoy your new year! The Church is true, God loves you, so do I!
Elder Pimentel

Monday, December 21, 2009

From Kent 12/21

Subject: Y...¿cuándo pasó eso?‏

¡Pascua feliz para todos!

So, it's Christmas already. Don't really have any idea when that happened. Nope. Christmas really isn't too big a deal here, it kind of is but not much. Interesting thing, here in Chile Santa hath not a name. In song occasionally, but it doesn't make much sense because ''santa'' is Spanish for holy (of a feminine noun). Instead they call him ''Viejito Pascuera'' which more or less means a little old guy of the pascal season.

I got to play Visa games this last week, that was all fun. Lines and lines, and questions and lines, pictures and lines and forms. They do fingerprints differently here than in the U.S. We do the ink pad and finger press. They paint a small slab of plastic or metal and then roll your fingers on it. They also completely roll the finger for printing. And then there's a puddle of soap and a water bottle and you're left to yourself to figure out how to clean up your hands without messing up the government office.

There was an unofficial leak of information and the newspapers read Tuesday morning, front page mind you, ''Mormon Church to construct 'Mega Temple' in Quinta Junge.'' (Many denominations here in an attempt to be different call their buildings temples, 'salons', or other things.) The Church itself hasn't said anything, so the newspaper took the liberty to inform everyone who the Mormons are: A sect of Christians from the United States, followers of Joseph Smith, who believe in the Book of Mormon, scripture that claims that Jesus visited the United States. The rest actually was mostly correct, that generally we're peaceful, happy folk that don't smoke drink, etc. For the most part this will get people talking a bit, and interested. We'll see.

One of the members in the Stake, Riccardo, who gave us the reference of Abraham stopped by earlier this week with a wrapped gift for us. It was a referral to a family that lives around these parts. It made me smile.

As far as hoo-ha and fiddle faddle go, we can stay at house of a member until 10:30 Christmas Eve and for New Year.

Other cultural things I haven't mentioned: Whenever you enter the house of anyone, it is custom to serve drink of one type or another. Simple water is something almost unheard of here in Chile, everyone drinks some type of juice with every meal, and if not juice, Coca-cola or some other soda.

Milk is another thing that's different. In the U.S. we generally drink ye olde milk, with its 1 or 2% reduced. Here, milk comes in boxes, and if you hunt you can find unflavored milk, but it's either whole or half and half. Generally the safest is to go with strawberry milk.

When [on a bus] in the central part of the city, at just about every stop at least one person will get on at the front and make his way to the back trying to sell something, ice cream usually, and then get off before the bus starts moving again. Or you'll get the rare treat of a troubadour, those are usually great, someone with their guitar and songs.

Merry Christmas to you all, much love! I can't wait to talk with y'all this week!

Hurra for Israel!
Elder Pimentel

P.S. Tell Liz that in fact, this is real Christmas, and not ''all a dream''

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

From Kent 12/14/09

Subject: ¡Buenas!‏

¡Cómo están querida familia mía?

Yes, I do realize that I have not spoken much of things that all wish to know, I repent of such. I actually talked a whole bunch about that in my last letter right before it crashed, so I shall try again.

There are no bicycles to be used in this mission, we are completely on foot, and bus when we need to leave the sector. I'm still with Elder Carazas, my Peruvian trainer. He was baptized three years ago, and has only about 4 or 5 more months in the mission. So yes, he's quite a recent convert, as is his family. In fact, with most of the members in the ward or here in Chile, it's odd to not be/have parents that were converts. Every tuesday we have our Zone reunion/district class at a ward building one sector away, so most of us walk. The Zone leaders tell us how the zone is doing number wise, what we need to work on and how we can improve, as well as give us the news of the mission. Then we seperate and our district leader gives a class. Our current district leader is Elder Jensen, from Provo (like oh so many). He's a great, loving Elder.

Every 2nd week of a transfer we have the mission conference in a stake center in the city. There are 2 major zones, Inside and Outside (Adentro, Afuera), which constitute of the (5?) or so zones that are close to the city of Concepción, and the other (5?) or so that are out yonder in the fields. We start by reading a chapter of scripture by ourselves, which we discuss later. Once everyone arrives we sing, pray, and one elder (at random) gives a talk on an assigned chapter of PMG, and another elder (at random) gives a talk on an assigned section of scripture. (We are informed of what these sections will be 3 weeks in advance). After this is the reports on each of the zones, and the mission in general. Then we discuss how improvement may be achieved. The President and his wife each speak, and we break for lunch. We meet again, and the Assistants speak, and we do practices. Then President and Hna. Chavez speak again, we have testimonies, talk about the section we read that morning, and depart. Generally all leave with a fire burning inside. Very good feelings when we leave said conference.

Every 5th week of the transfer (Transfers are 6 weeks a piece) there are interviews and a mini conference specifically for that Zone with President and Hna. Chavez.

The Presidential elections were yesterday. My gravy goodness and shoes, fuss fuss fuss. But with hope it will die out a bit within the next week or two. There are laws about meeting in groups for too long, so we only had Sacrament Meeting yesterday. Alexandra (18 yrs, first convert of family) gave her first talk about the the birth of Jesus Christ. Then there were somewhat strong talks on ''Wake up and pay your tithing'' and Love your Neighbor.

Yasna came to Church with her less active boyfriend! :) The mother (Hna. Parra) is very very very grateful for all that is happening, she's been praying regularly for something to help her son get back to church. We believe this is going to be it.

Hna. Blanquita is struggling. She seems to be consistently and regularly tried, afflicted, etc. The other day she severely burned her right hand, we're looking 1st degree for most of it, and so she yet again, could not come to Church. I don't know the rules exactly, but I believe we might have to re-baptize her, as it's been almost a month since her baptism and she hasn't been confirmed because she hasn't come. Which will be a painful thing to do with her hand the way it is. We'll see.

As for Christmas festivities, most people have a Christmas tree, a few decorations of snowmen, Santa Claus, the usual, even though Snow and Christmas do not go together in the slightest here. Most everyone goes to the beach on Christmas and/or has an ''asada'' -glorified barbeque-.

I've been struck with a cold, doggone it. So them handkerchiefs are seeing their share of use.

Interesting things have happened this past week. Due to elections and laws against things that look like campaigning (i.e. proselyting) we spent lots of time with the members talking, and watching church videos. One ancient one rolled up, a 20 minute piece from the 80's about heroes, which involved a grandpa telling the story of Chief Captain Moroni. Notwithstanding the corniness, the Spirit testifies very strongly of the truth. I've been able to feel these things a lot recently, specifically strong in the videos. Same thing happened when passing by snippets of The Work and the Glory, Legacy (The members here Loooove Church videos, just about whoever we have lunch with Sunday afternoon has some church video playing). The Spirit has been testifying quite strongly (is that a word?) of late specifically to me of Joseph Smith, the pioneers, etc. It's a wonderful, glorious thing, I'm rarely one for strong emotion in these things, but that is changing, and it is changing because I have asked The Lord to change it, to bless me with a stronger testimony and He has. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true, and that means something. That means everything. That means that God is alive and that all the direction, help, and inspiration that existed in the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Early Church is exactly as available right now as it was then. God answers our prayers, and that is the truth. May we always remember the great sacrifices that have been made to bring this glorious knowledge and invitation to us.

Hurrah for Israel!!
Elder Pimentel

From Kent 12/7/09

Subject: ¡Hola Flami!‏

Computer asploded again. I am to be brief then.

Yasna is doing well! We weren't able to get in contact with her since our first lesson, but we talked with her member friend, the mother of her boyfriend, and she's been reading and praying consistently. We were able to talk with her yesterday, and she's prayed about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon and knows them to be true!! Now they only trick is resolving the situation, as she's somewhat living with her boyfriend, who is an inactive member. What she wants is to go to Church with him, so this will require that they get married, which will also require some bishop talkings.

After a long long day of fruitless appointments and contacting, at our last house we found Berta. She was very happy to talk with us, and was relieved to finally know what the purpose of baptism is. Lots of people in truth don't know that it's for the remission of sins. After talking she was very delighted about everything, and was excited to have us come visit again!

I was flipping through the Liahona of November with all the General Conference talks, and who should I see taking up half a page but Molly Goodrich singing! Good work 15th ward!

The Church is true, God loves you, so do I!

Elder Pimentel

''I hear.... Chile singing...'' (''Working''' silhouettes)