Monday, October 26, 2009

Cold & Rainy in Santiago

Dear Todos,

I had my first cold and rainy day in Santiago! It was nuts, most days here have been pretty warm, but the other day it was dark cloudy and rainy. Best thing about that day too was that we had almost no appointments so we knocked doors in the rain for hours. We had on our raincoats, rainjackets, and we had our umbrellas and we still got soaked. The draining systems in Chile are horrible so after just a few minutes of rain the streets are full of water. Our shoes were soaked through and through. I felt like a REAL missionary that day.

Another cool thing that happened was that I got cussed out for the first time. My companion and I were walking down the road when a man in a baby blue car stopped in the middle of the road and started yelling at us. We´d walk by, he´d yell at us for a while, we´d pass him, he´d drive past us, stop the car and continue yelling at us. He did this for a couple minutes. Luckily I could not understand a word he was saying so my companion translated some for me. Supposedly he screamed the F word a bunch of times, told us to go back to our country a bunch of times, and insulted our mothers a few times (sorry mom...) But yeah, my companion just smiled and waved at the guy.

One of the customs here in Chile is you have to saludar or greet everyone. If you don´t shake every persons hand when you enter there house or leave, it´s rude. We shake hundreds of hands every day. We are also supposed to say hello to everyone on the street. It´s pretty cool. Another custom I like is that the women in Chile are basically obligated to offer us jugito or juice every time we enter their house. We drink a lot of juice in Chile.
The food is still pretty darn good. Yesterday our friend Paulina just returned from the beach with a huge box of famous desserts. She made us try a bunch of them. Basically every dessert was made of manjar and a different kind of pastry. My favorites are the manjar and merengue? cookies (I´m pretty sure mom would love them). I miss food from the US but I´m definitely not going hungry in anyway.

SO the other night the zone leaders ditched me and Elder Okleberry to go to a meeting and it was faaaaaantastic. We had 3 hours in the night to teach by ourselves. I actually taught a 30 minute lesson by myself about prayer. It was terrifying, not gonna lie. Elder Okleberry did his thing and I did my thing. I don´t think it was a great lesson at all, but it was a lesson none the less. Crazy huh?

We still don´t have many investigators, but we met two extremely nice families who are truly looking for the truth. It makes our job so much easier when people want to know the truth for themselves. I pray that things will continue to go well and continue to improve. I love and miss you all. Your emails and letters are incredible and help me so much! No joke! I wish i could respond to everything, but there´s just no time. I´m doing good! I love the mission, it´s hard, but I love it. I feel good about what I´m doing even when things aren't going well. Thanks for everything!

I love you Mom, Dad, Diana, Becky, Melissa, Grandma, Tom, Tim, Martha, Uncles, Aunts, cousins, friends, etc...

-Elder Mooney

Monday, October 19, 2009

¡Hola Todos!

I just wanna start out by letting you know that I´m doing alot better. To be honest, the mission is very difficult, but I´m already becoming more accustomed to it. I am enjoying myself quite a bit as well. Once I know the language I can only imagine how much more fun it will be. I have a million things i want to tell you, but i only have so much time. So i´ll cram as much into this letter as i can.

Funny thing about Chile is that dogs run the city. Haha not really but it seems like it. Dogs here are way smarter than the dogs in the states. There are dogs on every street, at every store, and in almost every home. The other day i saw a dog carrying 2 grocery bags down the street full of stuff. My companion says he saw like a pack of dogs that stopped a car in the middle of the street and started barking at it and attacking it. The people inside the car couldn´t do anything about it either haha. Just yesterday, my companion and i were waiting to cross the street when a dog walked up to the edge of the sidewalk 10 ft away from us, literally looked both ways, then crossed the street. It´s pretty ridiculous.

The food here isn´t that strange but different for sure. Lunches are huge here. Usually we almorzar (to lunch) in a members home at about 1:30 to 3 everyday. The people always eat salad with just oil and lemon here. That´s it... We´re lucking when they throw in avocado slice and peeled tomatoes though. (Tomatoes are always peeled here??). Then there´s a meal with rice, lentajes, chicken, sausage, potatoes or something. We always finish with a dessert as well. Alot of times it´s chopped up fruit with sweet condensed milk and manjar poured ontop. Sooo goood. People have also made us some lasagnas as well with some twists to them. They´ve actually been pretty good. Yesterday we had the best lunch though, called Papas Rellenas. Like a chile relleno but with a potato haha. There was meat, and cheese stuffed inside a fried potato. Some had olives in them, others had dried apricots, etc... Favorite thing so far, for sure. I´m gonna try to get the recipe. Then every evening people eat ONCE?? It´s just like an evening snack with bread, cookies, or whatever they have in the house. As missionaries we don´t usually get once unless we´re sharing a lesson or having a noche de hogar. Food is good though.

Missionary work has been quite difficult. We´re having difficulty finding people to teach. We´ve been knocking alot, but are trying to come up with a better way of finding new people to teach. We´re trying to put together a huge halloween party with a food making contest. Pei de Limon, Empanadas, y Completas (fancy hot dogs). We went to stake conference the other day and it was quite entertaining. The mission president is like a crazy good speaker, he and his wife are both authors, she was like miss teen USA, he was a quarter back, they did speach and debate in Utah somewhere, but anyways they both spoke, but President Laycock had the whole stake excited, intent, and motivated during stake conference.

The one thing I learned the most about missionary work is that it really is just as much the ward´s responsibility as it is the missionaries. Without ward support, it´s almost impossible to do anything. Members are supposed to pray and ask for help in finding people who are ready to receive the message of the restored gospel. Members are supposed to fellowship and help out investigators, recent converts, and less active members. Members should hold family home evenings often and invite friends and neighbors as often as they can (with the missionaries). Really the missionaries are supposed to do their best to find, but they should be using the members as support and the members should be trying just as hard. This is something i hope to remember and apply all my life.

Couple random things... The other day a older lady who´s a member of the church was telling us a really long story and i started to space out cuz it´s difficult to keep up sometimes. She was telling her story when i SNEEZED and COUGHED at the same time. My companion looked at me with a ARE YOU SERIOUS FACE?? Anyways, afterwards my companion told me that she was just telling us about a lady who lost her husband and then her son a week later when i SNEEZED and COUGHED at the same time and to them it sounded like a laugh. So they thought i laughed about the death of the father and the son. I felt so bad afterwards :S Also, I´m allowed to listen to uplifting music! So if you could, please send me food and cd´s. Haha i can listen to instrumental music, efy, church, christmas, etc... So yeah, if anyone loves me, please send cds and food (like peanut butter)! Haha

Ok, well I love you but i gotta go. I miss you all SO much. Not even kidding. But i know the church is true. I KNOW IT. So i gotta be here.

Be good! Be safe! Be clean! and Keep the faith!

Elder Mooney

Friday, October 16, 2009

New Address!

Check out the right hand side of the blog for Elder Mooney's new address in Chile!
And I had trouble reading the first hand-written letter from Chile so I tried to blow it up a little :)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

¡SANTA VACA! I’m in Chile?

This is kinda weird, I’m in Chile sitting in a small little room in the city of Santiago that is filled with computers, listening to a some funky 80’s music in english, writing home to a different country/continent. It’s gonna be difficult, but I’m gonna try and update you on as much as I possibly can.

So I wrote home the first day I got to Chile and the President and his wife said they would send it to you. I don’t know if you actually got it though?? Well anyways, we flew into Chile with a group of about 20 of us. President Laycock (a big jolly old fellow) and his wife (a really nice lady with long dark hair) were there waiting to pick us up with 2 missionaries who are almost finished with their missions. We went to the mission home, wrote letters, ate some pretty american snacks, and had a short interview with the president. The mission home is extremely nice and it feels like we never even left the states, but other parts of Santiago are a different story.

We got paired up with our Senior companions which was kinda nerve racking, not gonna lie. I hate to admit it, but there were quite a few Elders that I didn’t want to be paired up with. Some of them just had these smug looks, others looked a little crazy, i dunno... I probably shouldn’t have judged them though. One by one everyone was paired up, it was kind like picking teams in sports, one by one names were called and it was kinda intimidating. I was the second to last person to be called and I was paired up with eLdEr BlAnKeNfElD. He seemed pretty chill when I first met him, but little did I know.... (you should be getting a picture of him pretty soon too). Immediately after we were paired up we were on the mission. We had to just find our ways back to our Pensions with ALL our luggage. We had a lunch appointment that we had to get to so we took a taxi. It was crazy...

So Elder Blankenfeld actually turned out to be awesome. We’ve got plenty in common, he’s from Texas and likes similiar types of music, movies, and just stuff as I do. He was like the only member in his highschool so he was never very active in his teenage years, but his dad was bishop and told him to get ready to go on a mission so he did. Now he’s rockin’ the mission and doing a great job. He’s really really chill and is a great example to me when it comes to living by the schedule, teaching well, being a good companion, and enjoying your mission. He’s obedient, but has fun ya know? We are actually kinda part of a quad as well. Elder Blankenfeld and Elder Trovato are actually the zone leaders in our zone. They used to be companions and then they got split up to be our trainers, but are still the zone leaders as well. Things are kinda crazy sometimes cuz they have to teach or hold meeting or even do ¨divisons¨ which i’ll describe later as well. Elder Trovato and Elder Blankenfeld are both awesome guys though.

The first 2 days I did not understand a single word here in Chile, but now I can follow along and understand most of every conversation. Most people think I know spanish cause I’ve gotten pretty good at acting like i know what they’re saying. Smiling when my comp smiles, laughing when he laughs, and so on. I also have learned to say common things with a good Chilean accent. It’s insane that I’m starting to really learn spanish. I’m not very good, but after a month or so I can only imagine how much it’ll improve.

Oh yeah, the second night we were here in Chile Elder Trovato and Elder Blankenfeld had a meeting together so they left Elder Okleberry and I alone for 3 hours. Basically we wandered around neighborhoods and knocked doors. Can you imagine?? I was freaked out at first, not gonna lie. We would make a contact, talk about the church and our message, then the people would talk to us for like 2-5 minutes and we pretended like we understood. It was intense. We got a few contacts and referrals from it though.

K, so a few random facts..... Here in the mission we get up at 730 and go to bed at 1130, which I like a little better. We have personal study from 9-10, companion study from 10-11, and language study from 11-12. After studies we’re basically out and about until 10 at night. We eat lunch at about 1:30 with a member every day, which is a huge blessing. Also dinner is the biggest meal of the day here. The food is really good here. Really, it’s nothing that strange, but nothing like what we eat. I’ll have to describe the food better once I learn the names. There are some really poor people here and some pretty rich people here. Our sector is kinda a mix of both sides because we’re right in the middle of the mission almost. We have one of the greatest wards around supposedly. Plenty of members and plenty of help.

The other day i had to go on ¨divs¨ or divisions. Basically i pack up a day’s worth of stuff and go live with other Elders for a day and work with another Elder. I’m gonna have to do this alot since my comp is a zone leader. At first I dreaded the idea, but the Elders I div-ed with were really cool. One was from Argentina and we got along pretty well and I could almost fully hold long conversations with him in spanish. He knows like no english haha. He made me eggs and fried hotdogs for breakfast. It was crazy and fun. The comp i div-ed with was kinda lazy though. SO I saw what i needed to avoid being. We went to a Stake activity where they had different latin cultures displayed. Food, dancing, and little skits. I took some videos that i’ll send to you soon.

I’m out of time and I’ve written tons so I’m gonna wrap it up now. But just so you know, my first day here was probably one of the hardest days of my life. The apartment/pension seemed crumby, it was already kinda hot, i was exhausted, and I missed home. The first 2 days were so hard that I wanted to just lay down and cry. It’s still hard, but I’m getting the hang of it. I totally see how devoting yourself makes the mission worth it. Teaching people is the coolest feeling ever. We took Paulina, a recent convert to the temple who had lost her husband within the last year. She loved it and felt the spirit. We’re baptizing Tamara next week. She’s a 19 year old girl who wanted to change her life and actually approached the missionaries and basically asked them to teach her. There’s also a lady who says she believes it’s true, her daughter loves church, she has received every answer she asked for, but doesn’t want to change her life to become a member. My testimony is growing, I’m changing as a person, my Spanish skills are growing so fast, and I’m starting to like the mission.

I love you all and miss you. I hope you are safe and doing well!

Elder Mooney

Saturday, October 10, 2009