Sunday, January 31, 2010

Germany Berlin Mission (6.1)

Hello family:

This has been a wild and crazy week. Here are a few highlights:

• Transfer week. Jay's assistant, Elder Loynes, was transferred and a new assistant, Elder Felsing came to the office.
• Two new missionaries, one from USA and one from Finland. That means interviews, lunch, and training.
• Five missionaries go home, with 3 of the five having parents pick them up. That made it crazy and we still had interviews, dinner and testimony meeting.
• Brent and Sharon Lewis from our stake received their mission call to our mission as the office couple. We are really happy about that.
• Started president's interviews on Friday in Neubrandenburg.
• Spent part of the day visiting the historic city of Wittenberg, 1 1/2 hrs. away. That is where in 1517 Martin Luther nailed his 95 "theses" to the door of the castle church. This was the beginning of the Reformation. A beautiful little town with so much to see and visit. Too bad it was so cold. We visited the church, home, gardens, monastery, university - all dating back to the early 1500's. It was an enriching day.
• Jay and I spoke in Sacrament Meeting and Jay also taught the Priesthood/Relief Society combined meeting.
• Had Elders over for dinner.
• Mike went to Young Single Adult Activity and also went bowling with the assistants this week.
• Three phone calls from missionaries who got baptism commitments today alone.

Quick warm-up story:

A less active man and his middle aged son, who is not a member, moved into a very humble area of Nordhausen. They called the Church and asked Elder & Sister Muhlestein to come and visit them. On the first visit both father and son pulled out envelopes filled with two years worth of tithing. They testified business was better when they paid it. Teaching continued and a baptismal challenge was given. Elder Muhlestein encouraged the father to become worthy to baptize his son. On Jan.7 the father baptized his son.

We think of you often and pray for you daily. We love you very much. Thanks for all of your support. We love hearing from you. We will be travelling a good part of the time but we still have e-mail access.

Love, Jay and Colleen

Monday, January 25, 2010

from Kent 1/25

¡Hola hola!‏

“Entonces hermanos; ¿teneís fe? ¿Estaís dispuestos a mostrar al Señor evidencias de vuestra fe?” -Preacher from “The Restoration”

¿Cómo estaís? The above line has been stuck in my head for the past three months nonstop. Translation is: “And so brothers, have ye faith? Are you willing to show to The Lord proof (evidence) of your faith?

Things are growing and piecing together here in Tierra Bella. We have ourselves now a healthy pool of investigators; we just need to get them all to Church. Delia is great, we finally were able to find her and share lesson 1 (the restoration) with her to explain where the Book of Mormon comes from (we had aforehand only explained what it was). She understood well the concept of dispensations, and when we finished with the Joseph Smith story she told us “This is very similar to me. I was going around to other churches and asking people about them all because I wanted to start taking religion seriously, and then two days later you showed up and I found the Book of Mormon in my house.” Very very neat.

We also were able to talk with Gavier, a friend of Paulina Mansilla (Family that was converted with Hna. Law, Elder Law's sister, has gone inactive since September, recently starting to come back) and share lessons 1&3 (The Gospel of Jesus Christ) and he understood well the need to have prophets in the world, and that there was the apostasy. Everything is so much easier for people to accept when they understand those two concepts.

We're getting things ready for our English Class! We're teaching all who wish to learn the tongue of the Brits every Friday night at the Church, that we may serve the people and find more of those who are ready for the restored gospel. We're also planning to do a weekly FHE in the Church for those who don't have families that are all members, all active, or live alone. Of course, in this way we can bring investigators as well, as there are few better ways to interest people in the Church than with activities.

In talking with Delia we've learned that she doesn't have much of a Christian foundation other than good morals, God exists. Sometimes it's easier that way because they don't have false doctrines clouding their minds. It does mean we have to go back to extreme basics in regards to how Christianity and works. (Prophets, revelation, sin, atonement, agency, covenants, scriptures, etc.) She does however know the Book of Mormon to be true, she loves it too, she was telling us how much she loves that it says things how they really are, it's very clear and plain, not confusing. (She hasn't gotten to Isaiah chapters yet). Her son wanted to come to church too, but alas, we know not what happened.

Cecelia is a bit on the other side. She too, feels great about the doctrine of the Church and believes Joseph Smith to be a prophet, but she's not as gung ho about the Book of Mormon as Delia. Still great though, we just need to share with all her family. Apparently there's a nursery in the neighboring ward that her kids go to, so she's familiar with things of the Church. Her parents came in from Santiago for one day though, so she didn't come to church.

Jean Pierre (makes much more sense than Jenper, it just sounds that way when pronounced Spanish) is still good for everything, but turns out his dad wants to be here for the baptism, but can only come in by the 15th. (Ugh, one day after Sunday) So we might be postponing their baptism to that day.

Miracle Reports: I forgot to talk about this one. We were talking with one of the teachers in the ward and he was saying how he wanted to go visit Abraham with some of the other teachers and us to see how he is and invite him back to church and all. We went with him and we found him! It turns out he had been out in “the campo” -field, country, a ranch, etc.- for the past three months, and would be returning there in three days. So we were able to find him at almost the only time possible in many months. His mom had plasterwashed him about not getting baptized until he's “mature” but he still believes the Church is true, and had actually gone a few times while in the campo. He came to church with us the next Sunday and is going to try while he returns to the campo.

We hadn't talked with Delia for a long time (she has a very difficult tricky work schedule, usually arrives around 9 or 11) and we stopped by her house at about 9:05. She wasn't there, so we were going to continue with our other back-up plans but I felt that we should go up to a bench and wait for 5 minutes. At the end of that five minutes she showed up!

In one of our lessons with Cecelia we planned to check up on her reading, invite her to church, and the Word of Wisdom. While in the prayer however, I kept seeing the cover of Lesson 2 (Plan of Salvation) and felt like that's what we should do, but Elder Law was leading out the lesson. Of course, he was in tune with the Spirit as well and started off teaching the pre-mortal life. I love revelation.

We were hunting down the stray address of someone that had asked for pictures of Jesus and were having not so much luck. The address was 780 of a certain street, so we found the duplex of 782 and 778. We asked at the house anyway if they knew where the address was (if it existed) and found Karen, a woman who told us she had been thinking and worrying about baptism and religion and everything lately because she knew she was baptized as a baby but knows that wasn't fully right because she made no decision. She also, works all the week and we caught her at one of the rare times of the week when she's home. She asked us if we had anything she could read to learn more about the Church.

My, what a beautiful thing the Gospel is. I know that Christ lives and is the only hope we have of true happiness in this and the next life. And as clearly as I know that, I know that Joseph Smith is His chosen prophet to restore and establish His Church for the last time on the Earth. Do not be ashamed or even quiet about these things. I don't care what the world says is “taboo” or “offensive” to talk about beliefs because these aren't just beliefs. These are facts, clearer than science. As C.S. Lewis said, I believe in The Gospel the same way I believe in the Sun. Not because I see it, but because by it, I can see everything else.

I love you,
Elder Kent Schwarzenegger Pimentel

P.S. It's hard to believe I'm almost done with the first transfer with Elder Law, things are flying by ridiculously fast now that we're kicking it into overdrive, which makes us want to work all the harder that we don't lose any of this precious time that is “passes us as if it were a dream.”

Monday, January 18, 2010

from Kent 1/18

Subject: ¡Buenas!‏
¡Hola Flamililia!

Happy Birthday to Dad this week!

Thanks you many for the wishes of birthday goodness! It was a little bit weird yesterday to be in a lesson and when they ask how old we are to say 20, when just yesterday t'was otherwise. Also Hna. Chavez (La Presidenta) called to wish a happy birthday, it brought great smiles to my day.

New progresses: We were finally able to find Delia, and she had still been reading every day and loving it, and in fact talked to her sister about it (turns out the BoM actually belonged to her, so we gave her another one) and they’re both interested! The finishing round of elections was yesterday, however, so they were not able to make it to Church, dad blame it. We found the little cousin of one of our ward missionaries, Verónica, who has come to church a few times, and now lives here in Tierra Bella for the weekends, and wants to get baptized! The trick will be getting permissions of the parents, as the father is an atheist (mother inactive). However, inasmuch that she is in town here for weekends, Verónica can accompany her to Church (she's already gone four or five times in the recent past).

Found a new Investigator! Earlier last week we were passing by a young mom in the street so we talked with her. She's called Cecelia, and lives right close to us. She told us that her cousin actually is a member, married a missionary and moved to Colorado, and she didn't have a problem with us passing by. When we came for our Monday appointment, she was on her way out and said we could come by Thursday. At this point we were thinking, ''Okay, well if we can get in and teach a lesson, maybe something can happen.'' We came by Thursday, right at our 6 o'clock and she had been waiting for us. Such a thing rarely happens in Chile. Turns out something unexpected actually did come up that she had to go to Monday and she felt bad about it. During the opening prayer for the lesson we both felt that The Spirit was very strong, and that we should talk about the Gift of the Holy Ghost first, which we did. She was very receptive, understood everything, understood that there had been an apostasy and thus understood why she would need to be baptized again. She invited us to come back when her whole family was there :).

Unfortunately, Jamie ran off for vacations somewhere and we haven't been able to find her, but we're still trying. Same story with Yasna.

There's a lovely neighbor family of one of the members with which they are great friends. The mom's a less active member, and the father Catholic, but they're both very nice and support the idea of their children going to Church! They came with us yesterday, it was quite nice.

Jenper and Kevin, the grandsons of the Stake President, are coming along nicely; they love our visits and want us to come by every day of the week. I'm learning the virtue of repetition when teaching children.

Much love to all of you! ¡Qué le vaya bien!

-Elder Kent Pimentel

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

from Kent 1/11

Subject: Bendiciones de trabajo‏

¡Hola amada familia!

Well, let me just say that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true. So are the blessings of hard work. We have seen a plethora, yea even many, blessings that have come to us in the manner of the army of Gideon, that we may not heap them up unto ourselves as the rewards of our own works. We've been kicking it into overdrive (very tiring) as far as planning, working, organization, obedience and working with the members is concerned. The miracles of this past week have been in number, not a few.

Miracle 1: This last week we received a call from the Elders in Chiguayante Chiguayante, and they gave us a referral for these two boys that recently moved into our sector, are actually the grandsons of the Stake President, and the mother has come back to the church and wants to help them in everything, reading, going to church, the works. They were very excited for everything. To help them understand the meaning of baptism we started the lesson with them holding a chocolate in their hands with the fingers closed. We compared sin to the chocolate in the hand, and when we repent and leave the sin, not doing it more we don't have this inhibiting factor anymore, and it feels good, at which point they eat the chocolate. But their hand is still all messy with the melted chocolate, so we have to wash it away with baptism. I think it made a good impression.

Miracle 2: One of the recently re-activated members of the ward was talking with us a week or two ago about how he was concerned for his daughter, Jamie (nonmember), whose study of psychology has caused her to start a somewhat attack on the family for religious beliefs. However, last week she was very desperate for something related to school (I think it was money related) and tried her hand at a prayer. The next day everything went more than well for her, and she was weeping thanking God. She was thus, quite interested when we talked about learning the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and has great interest now.

Miracle 3: One of the families that Elder Law's sister taught, the Mansilla family, had recently gone inactive since about September. The daughter and most of the family still have their testimonies of it all, but have been turned away and offended by a splash of hypocrisy, babblings, murmurings, and backbitings. We found out Saturday when we talked with them all that Paulina, (16 yrs old) had been earnestly praying whether or not they should go back to church, and then 2 days later saw a very familiar face at the door to visit. (Elder Law and Hna. Law have very similar facial features). They agreed to start coming back, and did.

Miracle 4: The Contrerras family did not know that it was their turn for lunch with the missionaries yesterday. Nevertheless, they felt like buying some extra food the night before and preparing it to be ready right after church, both of which are things they have never done hardly ever ever ever if they don't have company over. When they got to the Church they found out that it was their turn for lunch. They told us we must be doing things right ;)

Miracle 5: Last Sunday we were contacting doing the ye olde door knocking and got the usual ''I'm busy right now, have company, come by another day.'' So we set an appointment for the next Wednesday because we had another appointment in the area at that time. Usually these are the ''If I'm home and not busy and in a good mood, I'll talk with you,'' appointments. Well, as it turns out this woman Delia, remembered our appointment, asked to get work off early to be home in time. We both arrived at the house at the exact same time and she was quite receptive. She actually had found a Book of Mormon while cleaning out the house the day before our appointment, from the 1980s. All the scriptures that we used for our lesson with her were already marked and everything. Also, once we began to testify of the Book of Mormon, the sun descended just enough to blast our faces through the window. When we came back two days later for our next lesson she had done the reading! She told us in reading 3 Ne 11 that the entire time she felt a very odd and strong tranquility, and accepted the baptism date for the 31st!

So it's been a good week! I got the 2nd package and the package from Grandma, so hallelujah they did come. I also received host of Christmas letters and Dear Elders from the Jensens, Fifes, etc. I'll keep my eyes peeled for contact opportunities (of the eyeball nature, as well as Gospel preaching).

I got them fancy pants scripture covers! Pictures accompanying. It's interesting having a companion that speaks English, it's much easier to be one's self and all, and in certain aspects helps with learning Spanish, but in others of course, not so much. Interesting trade.

Well, much love to all of you! Never underestimate or diminish the importance of the Book of Mormon, reading it every day in your lives. We came across the last verse of Ether 8 recently, I do advise a read of it.

¡Chao pescado!
Elder Pimentel

P.S. The ward is thirsting for activities, but hath not money. Any ideas for grand (as in good, great, fun) activities that are of little expense? Muchas Gracias!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

from kent 1/4/10

Subject: Y será una luz entre la tinieblas.

¡Hola hola Familia!

It's very very interesting and odd to actually change companions for the first time when in the field. Just about everything changes. As sweet joy would have it, for the better. Elder Law has been an extreme blessing for me, the ward, and the sector, and we've hit it off to a fantastic start. He's a very loving (and very tall) companion, and he takes this very seriously, in the way that he understands that this is the most important war this planet faces. And for that there is great desire for organization and hard hard work. Elder Law is the youngest of his family, having 5 older sisters, the closest one being the legendary Hna. Law. His sister (now Hna. Beeston, who was one of my teachers in the MTC, I think I've said that 300 times) was in this mission and ward about a year ago, and really left a fantastic impression here, and Elder Law knows that and is ready to live up to the standard.

With this new energy and fire, we've started to take off. The members have recognized our mutual desire to work hard and thorough (and smart of course) and are all offering more help, something foreign to Elder Law as he started his mission in a 40 member branch where there were only 4 people that could help, and teeth had to be pulled to do so. We had a missionary return home this last thursday and he wants nothing more than to continue working. We did some divisions with him and the YM President, also a recently returned missionary, yesterday with great success, and we learned bundle loads from them as well. Within the last two or three days (after getting to know the sector) we've tripled contacts, over doubled received referrals, and in two days met the weekly goals of many of the other key indidcators (lessons, invitations to church, etc.) Mind you Elder Law only has 3 months more than I do in the mission, this is his first time being Senior companion.

I think it might have to do with just the fact that there's been a change, or that my companion isn't native that has also blessed me of course with a much greater attitude of outgoing-ness. Although my Spanish isn't perfect, I no longer start to fall in the habit of simply following the lead, but leading out as well.

We're on the hunt now for new investigators, as the pool has slightly dried up, so we're thinking of starting an English class, and other activities.

New Year's was great, we had an ''asada'' (glorified Chilean barbeque) and I just have to say that Chilean meat kicks our trash, I don't know why. He only put salt on it and smoked it for a few hours and sweet jimminy it was good. I confess I've been slacking in picture gets, so I'm going to take a preparation day and trangle all around.

This Church is true, and the Spirit is strong. Priesthood power is real, and has great influence. Though most of the time things take a few hours or days to test the faith, not always. Blessings can have instant, full and complete results. Don't have fear to share this joy with everyone! Thank you very much for all you do, I love you.

Elder Kent Pimentel

P.S. I had another person tell me I look like Arnold Schwerzenegger this week, a stranger.

Cultural Notes: Driers for clothes are almost unheard of, as is Peanut butter. The summer has brought an absolutely delicious harvest of fruits: Cherries, peaches, strawberries, etc. With this abundance the juices that everyone drinks are no longer from powder, but just blended fruit and water. It's veeeeeerrrrry good. To actually have raspberry lemonade that's just blended lemons, raspberries, sugar and water, without any preservatives, other things, powders etc. is quite a treat. Lemonade is usually (if not made blended on the spot) done with ice cubes frozen blended lemons that are then put into a glass or pitcher of water, with sugar after. Neat and delicious.

P.P.S. Algunas fotitos. In Spanish, to add an ''-ito'' or ''-ita'' at the end of a word more or less is a way to say it's small, or to de-formalize. A little bit like putting ''little'' before the word, or a ''y'' at the end of a name type kind of thing.

I've noticed that I adopt accents of people around me. In the beginning I spoke more or less with the accent of Hna. Alexandra Sepúlveda, after that I changed to Elder Jensen, my district leader, and now I find myself when trying to speak in a jovial friendly manner using the Mexican accent of Elder Lopez, our Zone Leader. Interesting.