Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving.... wooo...

Hello my dear friends and family!

So last week was Thanksgiving.... wooo... Haha it actually wasn`t that bad. On Thanksgiving day we ate lunch with Juan and his mom. Juan and his mom are both great and it was a fun lunch. The whole day felt like a completely normal day though, nothing special. Then at night Elder Maruri and I returned to the pension to find Elder Blankenfeld and Elder Boyce waiting outside (because we had both sets of keys) holding a whole chicken, bread, and a 3L bottle of Pepsi. So we ate chicken sandwhiches with spicy mayo and pepsi. It actually felt like Thanksgiving after that.

This last week we had a ward Noche de Hogar and the missionaries (us) had to make a video of traditions in the church. Long story short, the video was made about 3 different times and was erased somehow each time. HOURS and HOURS were wasted. In the end though, the video was great and they even re-used it during their ward conference.

Ward activities here really make me appreciate ward activites back home. Here, we schedule the activity for 8pm and only 15 people showed up. By 9pm though there were over 60 luckily. The missionaries had to organize like everything, who´s going to bring food, drinks, activity, etc. And finally the day after they ask THE MISSIONARIES to clean the chapel. Let me tell you, it looked like we were cleaning up at a club or something. Chips, bottles, and trash were all over the floor. I appreciate our ward activities so much now. Truth is though, we have one of the most amazing wards in the mission. I love our ward, so working with them is great.

Two really unfortunate things that happened to me this week were: I was casually walking down the street one day when a giant dog jumps into a giant puddle of mud and splashes me all over..... Also, last night during our Noche de Hogar with Paulina and friends, one of her cats urinated on my bag....... Yeah, it smelt horrible.

Today we played fútbol on the mini-court and it was ridiculously fun. You basically play soccer on a basketball court 3v3 or 4v4. It showed us all how out of shape we are.

Best part of the week though was Sunday. Juan (17) was baptized and man was that cool. Juan is one of the elect, a golden investigator. He was found last change just by knocking. He said missionaries had never passed by before. He immediately wanted to be baptized and started keeping all commitments and commandments immediately. It`s not like he was already perfectly living everything before either. He smoked a little and drank coffee, but quit immediately. He loves going to church and going to mutual. Best thing of all was that just the other day he asked us what he has to do to become a missionary. Very cool kid.

Well there´s so much i wanna tell you but I´m out of time. I really missed home this week. LIKE CRAZY! I missed all you family, i missed Kelly, I missed my bed, Thanksgiving dinner, everything. I know that the mission has really showed me how blessed I am. I love you all and will continue to pray for you always.

Elder Mooney

P.S. Just had to let you know. 2 security guards just got in a fight with 3 big guys with bats here in the grocery store-ish place we`re at. They were all beating each other LIKE HARD and screaming and I saw one guy run off limping and I have no Idea what happened to the other guys?! It was kinda exciting at first, but then I got this sick to my stomach feeling. I think being a missionary is turning me into a softy. Crazy...

Monday, November 23, 2009

First Baptism!

¡Hola Buenos Dias!

Warning: This letter is going to be a little shorter then normal because I have a lot less time. I was going to try and download a bunch of pictures and send them to you all, but it turns out the camera cord i have is the WRONG cord. Next week I should be able to do it though.

I received the package you all sent me! Thanks Mom, Dad, and Diana! You are all incredible, seriously. Unfortunately the bread you sent was pretty moldy by the time it got to me. Luckily one of the chocolate pumpkin whatever ones looked to be in good condition so i ate it. Elder Maruri (from Ecuador) and Elder Blankenfeld (my companion) cut off the mold from the other ones and ate it anyways. No one got sick luckily and we all enjoyed it! Thank you for the USB drive as well. Unfortunately when i plugged it in it said that Jai Ho? was the only song on the drive. I messed with it a little bit today and found all the music I´m allowed to listen to haha. Thanks so much for the package, it was really great. Oh and thank you Uncle Johnny and Aunt Ruth for the contribution to the mission as well. You two are the best.
I don´t think we´re doing anything at all to celebrate Thanksgiving this year. We´re gonna eat noodles with an investigator this thursday. Haha should be good.

This week was a wonderful week BECAUSE I had my first baptism! Elder Blankenfeld and I baptized Macarena yesterday. We were worried that she might not be able to go through with it because she was always so on the edge about everything. We prayed for her constantly and through it all she managed to quit drinking coffee, quit smoking entirely, and pass her baptismal interview. One of the big factors of it all was this really strange dream she had 2 days before her baptismal interview. After the dream, she had no doubt it was all true. How crazy is that?? The best of it all was seeing her in all white, smiling and laughing before and after the baptism. It was incredible to see the change in her. That is why we missionaries do what we do.

Well I love you all, I pray for you all the time, and I hope your doing well.

Elder Mooney

Monday, November 16, 2009

Me again...

I got Becky´s package last tuesday!!! It appears that it takes about 2 weeks for letters and packages to reach me. Oh and also I always get emails on mondays and packages & letters tuesdays (just so ya know). K, so let me tell you what went down last tuesday. Us Elders had forgotten to do our fast the week prior and long story short we started our fast after lunch on Preparation Day. So on tuesday we were feeling pretty hungry and thirsty right? Luckily Becky´s package came just a half hour before we were gonna end our fast. We opened that puppy up and it was filled with TONS of bags of chips, Reese´s, snickers, bread, peanut butter, jelly, rice krispie treats, etc, etc... I don´t know if you´ve all seen the movie HEAVYWEIGHTS, but there´s a scene in it when the fat kids re-take control of the camp and they´re just stuffing food in their mouths and bathing in chocolate syrup and such. Well that was basically us. Then after that, we had lunch with THE MAMACHELA (or the little old lady who´s in love with the missionaries and is in charge of organizing all of our lunches). Well she fed us a HUGE salad, a HUGE BOWL of soup, a HUGE plate of chicken, rice, and potatoes, and after all that she served us like 10 peices worth of berry manjar birthday cake. We were dying... Literally... Every time she left the room we´d colapse on the table... Then we´d force as much food as we could down. Breath. Then force more. It was awful. You can imagine how we felt the rest of the day.

Ok, well anyways, thank you so much Becky for the package. It was ridiculously awesome and I eat stuff from it everyday. (PS why did you spend so much money on me?!)

Sad thing happened the other day. I saw a dog get hit by a car :( He only got clipped, then ran off screaming. It was horrible.

Oh, so there is a spider called the Araña Rincón or something here in Chile that is extremely poisonous. The Chileans claim that every spider we see is a rincón. So could you please look it up and send me a picture of it next week? Gracias.

This whole week has been quite interesting because i accepted the invitation to hear about Elder Okleberry´s book series THE SEVEN SWORDS OF KADOSHELN. I guess he has written and self edited a series of 7 books? So every minute of spare time or walking time we have he asks, would you like me to continue? and I of course answer YES! So yeah.. This week I´ve been having some pretty wacky dreams...

Which also leads into something else I´m trying. It´s called a Dream Journal? Basically you just leave a journal and pen next to your bed and if you ever wake up in the middle of the night you just quickly write down what you were dreaming about. It works ridiculously well! (Except for the day when I dreamed i wrote in my dream journal and when i woke up there was nothing there). Anyways, I know it´s not exactly helping me to fulfill my purpose, but it´s really cool.

Alright then, back to the MIRACLE OF MACARENA story. So all was going well with Macarena until 2 days ago when her mom (Paulina, the recent convert of 2 months) hit a 12 year old boy with her car. It was late at night, the street was really narrow and he just came out of nowhere. Paulina was put in jail for the night, but was released the next day. It was devastating for her, for us, for everyone... We didn´t know what to do because we got the call after we were already supposed to be back in the pension. Well the next day we found out that the boy was put into a coma. His family doesn´t blame Paulina at all, but Paulina couldn´t stop asking why? Why couldn´t she have driven by 5 seconds later? We met with her and Macarena that day and helped her find peace and understanding of it all. We also did a group fast. The real blessing is that if this had happened to her before the missionaries came, she probably would have wanted to end her life. Now she is filled with love, hope, knowledge, and everything the gospel brings. She also had members helping her through the whole accident. She is still extremely sad about it all, but is doing fine. Macarena on the other hand started questioning if God really did exist and if so, why would he do this to her mom who was making all the right choices. After a really powerful lesson we left her to read and pray about it. As of yesterday, she still believes in God, she still wants to be baptized, and she has recieved an actual testimony of the Saviour Jesus Christ. She´s still got some obstacles to overcome, but she´s doing great. I´m just so glad these people recieved the gospel when they did.

Today was CHANGES. Elder Okleberry and Trovato are gone. Elder Blankenfeld and I are still in the same sector as companions (which I´m pretty happy about, especially since thanksgiving and christmas are in this change). We now have a latin in our pension who speaks fluent english as well. He´s gonna recieve a new companion to train tomorrow.

Well all is well. I love you all and miss you more then I can explain. Be good!

Elder Mooney

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I´ve basically finished my first change!

Hello Familia y Amigos!

In the mission there are things called CHANGES. Here in the Santiago Chile Este Mission each CHANGE lasts 6 weeks. At the end of this week I will have completed my first change (cool huh?). This Sunday I will find out if I`m going to receive a new companion or a new sector. The President told Elder Blankenfeld that he is going to stay in this sector and Elder Trovato is leaving (Trovato goes home in 3 months). As for me and Okleberry, we`re not sure what`s gonna happen...? Elder Blankenfeld thinks he and I will remain companions for another change and I definitely hope he`s right. Anyways, I`ve only got 15 changes left in the mission, but who`s counting.
So last P-day we turned our Pension into a Peluqueria (barber shop) and Elder Blankenfeld cut my hair as well as Elder Trovatos and boy was it an experience. We were using an ancient maquina (hair clippers) that short out and change cutting length if you push to hard. All turned out well in the end and I finally forced my hair into a more Missionary like hair-style (i refuse to go completely to the comb-over though).
This week we`ve been eating a lot of frozen breaded chicken patties with spicy mayonesa or home-made guacamole. Elder Blankenfeld and I are guacamole chefs, no lie. We´re pretty sure we`ve eaten some raw chicken as well, which makes doing the obra missional (missionary work) a bit more difficult.
Soda here is different. There are 5 major sodas that everyone drinks here and they are PAP, BILZ, KEM, PEPSI, and COKE. Pap is orange, bilz is red, and kem is yellow. I have no idea what flavors they`re supposed to be, but they`re good!
Here on the mission I`ve been told I look like Leonardo Decaprio, Drago (the big russian guy from Rocky 4), and the guy from American Pie. People are always trying to tell me who I look like... Yesterday a lady told me I looked like her Chilean grandson and totally thought I was part Chilean? Haha my companion Elder Blankenfeld is officially THE TERMINATOR here in Chile. All the kids tell him he looks just like the Terminator, it`s great.
It`s absolutely insane hearing about Cody Smith being back and being eNgAgEd?! Haha that`s awesome though. Tell them congratulations if you ever see them! I also feel horrible hearing about Cameron. That`s so tough... I`ll definitely be praying for him. I can`t even imagine him being able to lose 26 pounds??
I´ve been tested quite a bit with the language this week. Twice this week, i was left alone with Okleberry for 3 hours. During one of those times I had to teach 3 lessons. It was terrifying at first, but once I started, it was no big deal. I totally felt like a senior comp though. The strangest part of it all is that when my comp is around I can't speak at all, but once he´s gone I can speak. GIFT OF TONGUES?
Best thing that happened this week is that THE MIRACLE OF THE MACARENA has continued. We went back to teach her again after she felt something RICO in her prayer and she had something to tell us. She said that night she offered a personal prayer in her room and her heart started pounding and she basically felt ¨a burning in the bossom.¨ We retaught her the Plan of Salvation and this time she was totally into it. She asked questions about everything and totally applied it to herself and to her father that passed away last year. We thoroughly explained baptism in the lesson and guess what.... She accepted a BAPTISMAL FECHA! (Date) This is a girl who didn`t believe in God like a week ago and now she shares her testimony with us in lessons and wants to be baptized. She still has a lot to learn and a long way to go, but she´s doing amazing. It`s just so cool to be a missionary when people want to learn and people are willing to ACT in FAITH.
I`m about out of time, so i just wanted to terminate with, I love you guys very much. You`re letters and emails this week made me REALLY happy this week. Things are difficult at times, but we just gotta keep our eyes on what`s important in this life.

Elder Mooney

Monday, November 2, 2009

Many Strange Things...

It´s November!

Yogurt comes in giant bags, milk comes in unrefrigerated boxes, and we don´t have clothes dryers here.... OK, just had to get that off my chest.

Many strange things have happened this week:

Earlier in the week we went to something called El Universo Audiocisual de Los Pueblos Indigenos: Mirada de Mujer. With the approval of President we accompanied some investigators to this educational film about different Latin tribes in South America. It was great until the last part where a bunch of old naked men and women started dancing around and painting their bodies. We understood that it was educational, but still, we left a little early...

Last monday we cleaned the entire house. We swept, mopped, scrubbed, bleached, everything we possibly could to make our pension feel clean. Afterwards, it still looked the same...

There are Gypsys living all over the place here. You can always just tell if someone´s a gypsy or not just by the way they dress and walk. We accidentally knocked the door of an old gypsy woman the other day and she just looked at us and said PASEN in a really creepy and crackily old voice. We walked away really fast...

For about 5 minutes the other day, a couple of drunk guys told us how they used to be friends with the missionaries. When they shook our hands good bye it felt entirely wet. Their hands were covered in beer and our hands smelt like beer for the rest of the afternoon...

The other day someone asked Elder Okleberry where he was from and he replied with SI, MI MAMA TIENE ALERGIAS DE GATOS...

There is a man in our ward who totally reminds me of a Chilean version of Brother Phillips. His name is Hermano Olave and it´s just funny how they are so much alike...

On Sunday a little puppy of about 5 or 6 months managed to sneaky past all the people and both doors of the church and ran into the chapel. It was just before church started and he was runnin up and down the aisles, hiding under benches, and just goin nuts. Finally a 16 year old girl just grabbed him by his skin and carried him outside. Not gonna lie, it was quite entertaining. The best part is, he waited outside for three hours then managed to find his way back in at the end of church and I had to carry him out....

I don´t know if I aready told you this or not, but here in Chile everyone greets each other by kissing on the cheek. EVERYONE. Haha so it´s always weird when people are smoochin in the church or smoochin on street corners or whatever. As missionaries we´re not allowed to participate in this tradition. Occasionally people don´t understand this and force a kiss upon us. On thursday a crazy old lady grabbed my hand and started pulling me toward her saying ¡BESAME BESAME! Fighting with all my might I managed to escape....

Halloween was the other night. It was weird, cuz it just felt like every other day to me. The only thing different was that an investigator gave my comp and I a handful of candy. Also Halloween is practically the same here in Chile. Supposedly they just started celebrating it with in the last 3 years. My comp said last year kids ran around yelling ¡QUEREMOS DULCE QUEREMOS DULCE! at every door. This year they went around yelling ¡DULCE O TRESURA DULCE O TRESURA! It´s not nearly as big of a deal here as in the states, but they´re definitely catching on...

So this week has been pretty exciting, but the high point of the week occurred last night. Last night we had a Noche de Hogar with a recent convert named Paulina. Paulina is an extremely strong member now and is helping us out with the missionary work. She has two daughters in their 20´s and one of them, Macarena, has been joining us in a few lessons each week. She doesn´t believe in God necessarily and she definitely doesn´t feel that religion is necessary. She´s glad that religion helped her mom with loss of her husband (her father), but that's it. She thinks prayers only help people because people feel good when they talk to themselves. She´s very sincere about everything though and truly seems to be searching for answers. Unfortunately she hasn´t been progressing though. Well last night we had a Noche de Hogar with them and we ended up switching topics several times during the lesson to meet the needs of Macarena. We had a very spiritual lesson and answered many of her questions. That´s not at all the cool part though. The cool thing that happened was is that we all knelt down to pray together at the end of the lesson and Paulina asked Macarena to join us, but only if she wanted to. Macarena knelt down with us. Then Paulina told Macarena to offer the prayer. Macarena offered a short, sweet, and simple prayer using the basic steps we had written on her Book of Mormon. After we all said amen, then started eating and playing a game. Later that night Paulina pulled my companion to the side and told him that Macarena said she felt something during the prayer. She felt a sensation of some sort, something rico. A miracle occurred that night and it´s true, by small and simple things do great things come to pass. We have no idea what´s gonna happen with Macarena, but it´s amazing to see the progress she´s made thus far.

I love all of you so much. I miss you more then you can imagine and I hope all is going well. Thanks for all the letters, they help so much, no joke. Keep doing what you know is right. And most importantly, be consistent with the gospel.

Elder Mooney