May 24, 2010

Hello friends, family and anyone else

Another week has come and gone.  Time here is very weird.  I have said that many times, and I'm sure I’ll say it till I get home.  It truly flies by, but it seems like I have been in Tomé for a long time.  I received a letter from Patricio a couple days ago.  Oh how I love him and his family.  He informed me that he is the 1st counselor in the stake young men’s presidency (don’t know if you already knew that) and also that Marjori is pregnant.  I know I already told you that, but I just had to tell you again. I love that family so much.  I love everyone from Chillan, but I also love Tomé.  The members are incredible.  There are also great people.
We had two girls pass interviews yesterday, but we aren’t sure when they will be getting baptized because they are a little bit afraid. We have been teaching them and their mom.  They are all worried because the dad used to go to a different church and the grandma (who lives with them) goes to a different church.  The grandma has given them so many problems.  The girls are very ready.  They have come to church lots of times and they go to seminary almost every day.  The mom has only come to church once.  The girls are named Camilia and Daniela, the mom Janet.
Jose Luis and his family are doing well.  They came to church yesterday. They were there early.  We know they are very punctual, so last week we told them to get there at 10:20 because people just don’t show up to church on time here. Plus, in Tomé, Sacrament meeting is at the end, so lots of people don’t show up right at 10. Anyway, they were there at 10:00 yesterday with about 10 members, but igual, it was fine.  The principles of gospel class was taught by me yesterday. The teacher got there and told me she didn’t prepare it.  That was ok because it was about organization of the priesthood and I gladly taught it.  Jose Luis is blown away every time he learns more about the church.  Matilde is ready to get baptized because she has read the Book of Mormon a lot.  Claudia is awesome, but has her doubts because she hasn’t been reading always. The Book of Mormon is incredible.  I affirm what Joseph Smith said, that a man will get closer to God by living by its principles than any other book, (I have no clue if that’s what it says in English, sorry) Through the Book of Mormon, anyone can gain a testimony of Jesus Christ.
The Atonement is everything.  I love learning more and more about it everyday.  As a mission, we have a huge focus in it.  I love trying to help people understand it better, and learning more about it even as we teach them.   I don’t understand how He did it.  I just know He did.
He gives us a chance to overcome sin.  He gives us a chance to turn our weaknesses into strengths.  He gives us a chance to perfect ourselves. I love the invitation Moroni gives us at the end of the Book of Mormon - the invitation to leave all sin and worldliness to follow Christ.  Let us do that.  We have been baptized for the remission of sins, and now we have the blessing to participate in the Sacrament every week.  The plan that our Father has for us is so simple.  He sent His Son.  The Son did His part.  He has marked The Way. Now we have the choice to follow it - or to go some other way.  That is what is so hard to help people understand.  There is only one way.  We can’t blaze our own trail to Salvation and Exaltation.  We have to follow the trail that Christ has marked. To do that, we have to be humble.  That is something that we have been trying to help the people realize right now.  We owe everything to our Savior, Jesus Christ, and we can’t do things in the way we want to.  We have to follow the standards He has set, and it is incredible how simple it is.  It is not always easy, but it is simple, and that’s what makes it incredible.  I heard the quote that the gospel is simply beautiful, and beautifully simple.  That’s how it is.  I love you guys so much and I thank you for the example you have been, are, and will be.  I pray that we accept the invitation of Moroni.  I hope we truly evade all sin.  I hope we participate in the Sacrament every week, where we can renew sacred covenants and promises.
We were able to find some new people this week.  We were knocking some doors when we entered into one. The 27-year-old girl told us she didn’t believe in God.  Her mom told us her husband was baptized Mormon.  As we began teaching, the girl began telling us how she does believe in God, but that churches just make her mad.  We hope to be able to help her (and her mom and sister).  She is named Gina.
Jennifer is a young mom - probably 25, with a couple of little kids.  We taught her and it was good. She actually came to church for a little bit, but she had to leave early.  I hope we can help her too.  It is amazing what happens when people feel the spirit.  Jennifer knows she is in sin, and she wants to leave it.  She is living with a man that is married to someone else, but she says she is trying to fix it.
I love you all. The weather is good.  It’s getting cold.  Today we went to Punta de Parra again.  That was cool.  We did a BBQ on the beach.  I had a long talk with Elder Jaar.  I love him.  I don’t know why, but I love him.

Elder Pitcher

May 17, 2010

I love you guys...

We are in Concepcion right now.  Coming here we were on a bus with a lot of university students.  It was very weird, because I have their age, but I’m not one of them.  Not in any way am I one of them. We are the same, but we are so different.  I wondered what life will be like after the mission.  I’m scared for that. I had a dream last night that I finished the mission, but I didn’t do everything that I was supposed to, like I didn’t fulfill my purpose.  I’ve had dreams like that before and I wake up with the emptiest feeling in my stomach.  It honestly scares me.  The plan that our Heavenly Father has for us is so complex, but it is so simple.  It whacks me out when I think about this life.  This life really is the time to prepare to meet God.... its the entire purpose of this life.  We are here to have joy, but that only comes by completing with our Heavenly Father. 
It’s interesting because I write this and I think about this, and I think about the importance of reading the Book of Mormon EVERYDAY.  That book is amazing.  When we read it we can keep an eternal perspective.  We can truly receive the things we need to continue on day to day.  It gives us counsel.  It shows us what we need to do.  It guides us through this life... a life that is absolutely loaded with temptations and traps. I walk through Concepcion and I like it... I do. I love the feel.  It has a bigger city feel, but not too big.  It has a lot of stores and formats that I saw in New York, but the buildings are tiny compared to those in New York.  I like it a lot, but while I walk through the street you can just see Satan everywhere.  He is so good at what he does.  He is so sneaky, tricky, slimy, and down right snakey.  He will get you and you wont even realize it.  That is the scary part.  I think back to the kids that were standing next to me on the bus.  The college girl I was sitting next to.  The guy on my other side.  They are just blinded.  They are blinded children of our Heavenly Father.  I wish I could help them, but they are convinced they are OK where they are.  Last night we were doing contacts in the street and we talked to a guy for so long... in the end, he knew he hadn’t completed the commandments of God, but it didn’t bother / worry him.  He said he was okay were he was.  Right after that we knocked a door and a lady of 60 years mas o menos came out.  We found out she has read the Book of Mormon, she has read the Pearl of Great Price, but she is not interested she tells us.  It about put a dagger in me.  I looked at her and I truly saw her as a daughter of our Father, a lost, confused daughter.  My eyes watered up... I didn’t cry... but there was nothing we could do.  Right then her twenty-year-old son got home... we started talking with him... He said we could come back today.  His name is Jose.  I hope and pray we can do something for him. 
Yesterday Jose Luis and his family came to church... I believe they really liked it.  It was good... they are a great family.  They are incredible examples. Matilde has been reading a lot in the Book of Mormon, and she is truly converted I believe.  Her husband hasn’t read.  I know he likes the organization of the church, but he has so many doubts... Matilde also.  They difference is that Matilde has been reading the Book of Mormon (I love that book!!) Claudia is 15 years old and I love her because she is just a good Daughter of God.  What am I talking about... the four of them are great children of God.  They need lots of support to be able to make the change. It will be interesting to see what happens.  This is God’s work... and He does it.  We haven’t done much in the conversion of these people... its God.  I spoke earlier of the sneakiness of Satan. God knows how to work a lot more then Satan. The only difference is that God doesn’t force it... you have to desire it.  He invites, never obligates.  I say this because he has truly prepared this family.  We are also sharing with two teenage girls and their mom.  They are so awesome.  The girls go to seminary almost every night.  The mom is great too. The only problem is the dad.  He WENT to a different church.  He is so nice, but because he is so nice, the mom doesn’t want to go to a different church.  Plus, her mom, who lives with them, goes to a different church and is so, so mad at her for listening to us.  It is incredible... Satan always puts in those things.  But it’s all a part of God's plan.  I love the challenges that people have because then they will be even stronger in the church.
Yesterday I thought I was going to give a talk.  I got there with lots of ideas in my mind, but not knowing what I was going to say.  While I was sitting there, I knew that I needed to talk about the Perfection.  I always like to speak last, so there were two people before me.  I was extremely excited to speak.  I felt very good about speaking about the Perfection.  However, the two speakers before me spoke a long time.  I didn’t even get to say a word.  Now I ALMOST started to get frustrated thinking about that, but then I thought 'Can I really talk about perfection if I get frustrated because someone didn’t give me my time to speak?' NO! I didn’t get frustrated at all, and I am actually very grateful it happened.  Like I said, God knows his children.  He does what is best for them.  He let me get a little bit closer to perfection yesterday by not letting me speak :)  I have come to love trials. I need a lot more patience, humility, love and faith.  Because of that, I know I will pass a lot more challenges... because God loves me.  He knows me.  HE KNOWS. 
I testify he knows.  I also testify he lets us know what we have to do; we just need to be humble and listen to the counsel of our leaders and Prophets.  It’s amazing how much Love, Humility, Patience, and Obedience are connected.  I hope that we always obey.  I hope we obey the counsel to read –no- STUDY the Book of Mormon everyday.  If we are obedient in that, we will learn to be more humble, have more love, develop more patience, and be more obedient. 

I love you guys... Thanks for everything....
You are all so Amazing.  I LOVE YOU.

Elder Pitcher

May 10, 2010

I love you guys so much.

It was great hearing your voices yesterday.  I was very happy to hear everyone.  Like I told you yesterday, everything here is going great.  I love it.  I really like my new companion, Elder Valderrutén.  He is from Columbia and is a convert to the church.  He got baptized at 17 years old.  He looks a lot like Justin Greening (I think) it’s been so long I might be completely off with that guess, but that’s who I think he looks like.  I can’t remember if I told you or not yesterday, but on Tuesday when we went to pick them up, I started talking to the new missionaries and I wanted / knew that he was going to be my companion.   We ate lunch and the president talked with the assistants.  When the president was talking he finished and he said, “You old missionaries, what would you like to tell the new people?”  He turned to me and Elder Law (yes, my old companion :) we were sitting together :)) and said, “Elder Pitcher y Elder Law, what would you like to tell them?”  That was very weird. It was weird to be one of the older people.  Elder Law and I aren’t the youngest or the oldest trainers.  There is one missionary that is older and one that is younger that are also training.  There are also 3 Latin missionaries that have more time that are training.  However it was very weird to have him turn to us.  It was also very weird because where I was sitting, President would always turn to me when he needed help saying a word (he did almost the entire thing in English... yes, I love him) It is weird because I remember when he would always be turning to other people asking for help.  Now it was to us.  Also, some of the new guys came up to me and Elder Law and said, “How much time do you two have in the mission?”  The amazement we saw in their eyes when we told them almost was weird.  They think we are so old, but we aren’t.  I just barely got here... I still don’t know how to be a good missionary! I can’t believe my time is almost over.

Yesterday the sisters went to Dichato to sing a song for the Relief Society so they weren’t here during Sunday School.  The sister that teaches the investigator / new convert class was there so I hopped in and taught it.  We were on chapter 12, the Atonement.  I really felt the class went well.  There were 6 teenagers, one in her twenties, and one in her 40s (Matilde) Matilde and Claudia got there a little late, but I know they really liked the class.  We were able to personalize the Atonement a little bit better.  After church ended, she said the reunion sacrament was just like theirs, but that she really like Sunday School... we will be going to their house today... I believe we will teach them more about the Atonement, the priesthood, and the Book of Mormon.

I love the Book of Mormon; it is the most incredible book in the world.  I am SO glad that Guy read it... I have only read the Book of Mormon once since I left... one time in one year... that’s about how fast you guys read it and I read it before, but I love it because we have an hour every morning to study personally... that is never enough.  I shower and eat as fast as I can so I can get about 30 minutes extra.  I remember when I thought that an hour of study everyday was more than I could do (before the mission) but I know that is what I will be doing when I get home... I always thought that I would just be sticking with 30 minutes, but no…. 1 hour :) It is incredible how the Book of Mormon can change a person.  Matilde has been reading it a lot, and she loves it... her husband hasn’t read it because he 'hasn’t had time'.  Shoot, no one 'has time' but if you have the desire, you'll make the time.  I hope he starts to read it soon so he progresses better.

Daniela and Camila are two sisters that came to church yesterday.  We have shared with them a lot and their mom.  The mom is scared because her husband goes to a different church... He is very, very nice and its not that he doesn’t let her share with us, but she doesn’t want to go to church because then she, her husband, and her mom will all be going to different churches... little by little she will start to understand more and more... she is named Janet... her friend Belinda.

Neftalí is a 24 year old that has shared with us for a long time, but I think he just likes to find answers to his questions and not to follow our Heavenly Father... he says he hasn’t received an answer if Joseph Smith was a prophet or if the church is true... Little by little I hope he will come to know as well...

I love you guys so much... This Thursday we have conference... I can’t wait for it :)

Love Elder PITCHER.

May 3, 2010

I can’t believe it hasn’t rained yet. It is truly a blessing from God. Usually the rain starts in April here, but its May and it hasn’t been too bad. It is interesting to see how few people realize tender mercies from the Lord, such as delaying the rain for months after an earthquake, but instead they ask why would God let an earthquake happen.
That would be neat if the Jazz win, but they are playing the Lakers... no matter how good the Jazz are or how bad the Lakers are, the Lakers always win. (Elder Keller is a huge Lakers fan)

I love thinking about how busy your lives are. Enjoy it mom :) ... It will pass way to fast. Who cares about the basement and all that stuff. Remember what is most important. I remember President Monson gave a message about that. I would suggest watching the Mormon Message of it :)
That’s awesome that you are going to read scriptures every morning... you don’t have to read a lot... just read until you find something you need to change in the life. I love love love the scriptures.

The mission has been, is, and might always be, the best time of my life. I was lying in bed last night and I couldn’t go to sleep... (just like I was before the mission) It was about 1:30 and I was just thinking about how amazing it is to be here. How lucky I am. I started to get a knot in my throat when I started thinking that I only have one year left. I only have 9 more transfers. That scares me to death. I don’t want to leave. I had to get out of my bed and pray last night. I prayed for a long time. I testify that the power of prayer is real. I thank you for the prayers you have all offered for my well-being. I am extremely lucky to know the people I know, and have the friends and family I have. I have also had the best companions here in the mission, and the best sectors.

Another reason I was up last night is because we had transfers this morning. The elders from Dichato didn’t have much to worry about, but Elder Keller and I did.  It makes sense that he would leave, but after some things that the president had said to him, and looking at all the changes that needed to be made, we just didn’t know. It could have happened where he stayed and we would have another transfer (this is what I wanted), it could have happened where he left, and it could have happened that he stayed and I left.... so this morning we got a call nice and early - 7:30 - that was nice because it is horrible to have to wait to know the changes.

"Elder Pitcher... Your companion is going to Hualqui (Wall-Key) in Chiguayante (Chee-Why-Aunt-A). His new companion will be Elder Garey. You will be staying in Frutillares. Your companion is unknown because you will be getting a new one"

So here we are, Elder Keller and I, enjoying our last moments together. I Love Him. We have passed through a lot. We have learned from each other. We have never gotten mad at each other, not even frustrated with the other person. We have walked up and down so many hills. We have talked to a ton of people. We have been given death threats from drunks and we have avoided being kissed by girls (I have to admit, one finally got me... I have NO CLUE how - I was literally pushing her away). We have built houses for people and we have destroyed houses for people. We have loved the people, and we have been loved by the people.  I will miss him so much.

However, we will go and we will do.

This week Esteban Puentes was baptized. His mom has been a member for a long time, but has recently been reactivated. He is 11 years old. For a long time he didn’t want anything to do with the church. We were trying to teach his stepfather, he listened to us a couple times, felt the spirit, got scared, and said he didn’t want anything more. After that, Esteban wanted to learn. He has gained a testimony by the spirit. His stepfather is hard against the mom and him, he always gives them a hard time about the Book of Mormon and the church, but Esteban prayed, and he knows. He was baptized on Saturday and Confirmed on Sunday. President Navarro (cell phone guy) baptized him. That was neat. President Navarro is a STUD. Just awesome. And then yesterday the Dichato elders were able to baptize a Dad, mom, and kid. The baptism was in our chapel because Dichato still doesn’t have water or lights.

Jose Luis, Matilde, Jose Luis, y Claudia came to the baptism of Esteban. They are an incredible family, and things are just happening more and more for them. We found out its basically a miracle that we ever found them. They had their suitcases ready to leave; they were going to move to the very south of Chile, but for some reason they didn’t leave. We were talking to Claudia and her mom, and she told us that yesterday she was going to stop singing in the church choir. She is having problems with a lot of the teenagers in there church. She was scared to death about how she was going to tell the director of choir. They are still 'firm' in their church. They didn’t come yesterday, but they went to their church, however they are realizing more and more and more what we say. It is amazing how the Lord does his work. I remember 3 weeks ago the dad said, wow, well maybe if we get in a fight in our church we will be able to change to your church. 3 weeks later their daughter is leaving the choir because she doesn’t like the kids. Matilde, the mom, has 7 brothers and sisters that all go to the church. Her dad is a Deacon (lider) in the church. But they truly love God. They have so many doubts, questions and fears still, but they are progressing. Thank you for your prayers. I haven’t been able to express how excited we are about them, but we are so excited. They are awesome. Pray more and more please. Pray they have the courage to follow God. Pray they have the desire to follow God, pray they recognize answers to their prayers. Just pray, because we can't do anything without God’s help. This is His work, and it is His glory.

I love you all.... a lot.
Elder Pitcher.

April 26, 2010

Wow! I love you guys.

So I don’t have a lot of time this week. Elder Keller and I have been cleaning for a long time... actually... We probably have one of the best looking houses in the mission now because last Tuesday we had interviews. Hna Chavez went to all the houses with the zone leaders. When she got back, she told me that we would be having a zone service project at our house on Saturday to repaint all the walls. They were all covered in mold. People got there and started working but they wanted to just paint over the mold and I really didn’t want that to happen so I went with bleach and started cleaning all the walls first. Needless to say, three of my fingertips are absolutely burned now because of how long I was scrubbing with the Clorox stuff. It’s pretty doggone strong. I didn’t really pay attention when my fingers started burning, but when it got to more than I could bear, I realized it had basically been eating the skin away and now my fingertips are just jacked. Anyway, today in the morning the elders from Dichato went to Concepción and Elder Keller and I cleaned and tried to start getting things back to normal. We worked for about 5 hours, cleaning, repainted, scrubbing and moving things. Its looking better but its still not done. I like cleaning with Elder Keller cause he doesn’t just try to get it done, rather, he does it right.

This week is possibly the last week we will be together, Elder Keller and I. I hope not. There is actually a chance Elder Keller stays one more cambio. But there is also the chance I leave and he stays. I do not want to leave. I’ve been here for three months almost, he’s almost been here for 6. We will see what happens.

Some investigators are doing great, some not.

Esteban is getting baptized this Saturday. He and his mom are both way excited. An hermano from the ward is going to baptize him. I think he wants me to give a talk.

I love you guys so much. I have got to go... We only have one hour to do everything!

Elder Pitcher