Monday, March 28, 2016

Easter, Conference, and Transfers! Oh my!

Package from Lolly and Juan!
Ward activity
I will start with the last thing first today. This morning I helped Elder Giadach pack up his things for the last time and all 11 of the Elders that work in the office came and picked him up. He is finishing his mission this week and I am getting a new companion. But today, Giadach is having a class in the mission office for all those that are finishing, and the president of the mission is basically going to tell everyone there to go continue on with their lives, go back to school, go find a job or go get married. It is a very bittersweet moment for me because everything that I have learned up to this point about being a missionary has come from him, and from some of the stories that I have heard he was one of the best missionaries in this mission. But after he left, I met up with Elder Ormeño from Argentina and I am with him for the day. His companion got transferred to a different sector and so we are both waiting for our companions. His companion is going to be Elder Olives who just got finished training my old companion from the MTC, Elder Shelton. My new companion is going to be Elder Duke. I do not know a lot about him, all I have heard is that he is from California and is a really hard worker. And that he has about a 1 year and a half in the mission, so that will be good to be able to learn from another person with so much experience. But until then Elder Ormeño and I are waiting until 9:30 whenever they both should arrive.

This next weekend is General Conference and I am so pumped. Conference is where the General Authorities of the Church( The Prophet, Apostles, and other leaders) address everyone. It is broadcast in a ton of different languages so that seriously everyone has the opportunity to learn, and hear their messages. And I am especially excited because from what I hear, there is a gringo room where it is played in English and so all the gringo missionaries buy snacks to watch. It's just like a little party. In preparation I have bought enough food for me and my companion. 
This week is La Semana Santa(Holy Week) which is pretty much Easter but instead of being celebrated like a 3 day weekend it is all week. But even with this, the Chilenos still use the Easter bunny, I got to eat so much chocolate this week! It was great!!
 One last thing before I send this, I invite everyone to watch this short video about the Easter season.
Con amor de Chile
Elder Brayton

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

4 Months and speaking fluent spanglish

Missionary eating, Chilean dog!

Something crazy that happened to us just last night was we were tracking in a part of our area that neither of us knew and it was really dark. While we were walking, we heard a couple of dogs barking at us from a house further up the mountain. This is super common because there are dogs everywhere. Then we started to hear more join in.... and more and more. It sounded like there were 25 dogs in this fence. Just as our luck has it, the gate was open. So, all of these dogs are booking it down the hill at us. All that me and my companion did was look at each other and then we ran like heck. But we were thinking different things. I was running to the main street where there was light and he ran to go grab a rock to throw at them. Whenever i turned around I saw 16 dogs coming after both of us! And not just little dogs. These dogs were labs and German Shepard. Neither of us got bit but we did get a bit scratched up whenever we were running because we slid down a little cliff to get away! I am not sure why there are so many dogs up there but I am sure that I am not going back up there anytime soon during the night.
This week as I was preparing 2 talks for a zone conference (Everyone prepares two and but only two will get called on randomly to give it) my original plan was to write it first in English and then translate them into Spanish but as I was writing them, I kept jumping back and forth between the 2 languages while I was writing. But this is something that I have been doing more and more during lessons and talking with other gringo missionaries too. I have gotten a lot better at catching myself but it is just cool to me that I am starting to be as comfortable speaking Spanish as I am speaking in English.  

Elder Brayton

Monday, March 14, 2016

Autumn In Chile!

It has finally started to cool off here in Antofagasta. During the day it is still very warm and the sun is just as strong. I am pretty sure that somewhere in the world I am keeping a sunscreen factory in business. But I have started to notice that as soon as the sun goes down that the temperature plummets and depending on where we are in our sector it is cold even! As we are going into March it is cool to see everyone preparing for Easter. Even though in our pension the family that we live with still have their Christmas stuff up, so they are just a little behind. 

This week for service we helped the papito {Father} that we live with change out the cab on his truck. He got it from Santiago and before I told him that I could help him with whatever it was he was getting for his truck. But when he explained it to me the first time I only understood that he was going to buy a couple of parts. So despite the small miscommunication we managed to help him and get it all done in just a couple of hours. 

Also in Chile pretty much all of the schools have gone back into session. As we are getting closer to the end of this cambio {transfer} we are focusing our work more on finding more people to teach. For me this is very bitter sweet because I have the opportunity to meet tons of amazing people and opportunity to practice just talking to people and me getting to know others and them getting to know me in a different language. It has been amazing practice and watching myself progress as much as I have but at the same time it is helping me realize where my strengths and weaknesses are and what I need to work on next. The only down side to the finding phase is that this often means long days of lots of walking and lots of sun. It has also given me the opportunity to really appreciate the people of the local ward. In a talk by Elder Bednar he said that missionaries are the full time teachers and that members are the full time finders. This kind of changed the way I was thinking about finding people and the members of the ward. I have seen that as we have gained their trust and help them that they in turn will help us. Even though I may think that I know the area pretty good, the members not only know the area better than I do but they also know the people better. 
Also a bittersweet moment is that this is almost the last week of my companion's mission and also the last week of my training. It is crazy how fast the time is going by but I am also excited for the things that the Lord has in store for me!!!

Elder Brayton!!!   

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Happy Leap Day!

     This week amazing things have happened. We have been praying to find more people to teach because it felt like we had been stuck in a rut for the past 2 week. We would always walk the same streets and talk to the same people and it seemed like we had no progress at all. But last week on Monday after p day we got a call super late, I think it was at 1:30 am Tuesday morning. But it was one of our investigators calling. He had been reading the Bible and the Book of Mormon and he said that he had received the strongest spiritual impression that he needed to be baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. So we planned to meet with him later that same morning to talk to him more. When we got there, he had his Bible out, the book of Mormon, and everything else that we had given him up unto that point! He told us that he was ready to make any changes necessary in his life so that he could be baptized as soon as possible. So we told him what he needed to do, set a day that he could be baptized. He was probably one of the happiest people in the world. We stopped by later that night and in just a couple of hours he had thrown out all of his beer, all of his cigarettes, and all together changed his attitude about everything! It was amazing to see how much one person could change in just one day.

The other cool thing that happened this past week while we were teaching one of our "Eternal Investigators" (That's just someone that never really progresses.) In this particular case, it was because she was too stubborn to read the Book of Mormon.  I was trying to explain why the scriptures are so important and how they can be used to help us and guide us. And while I was explaining to her, she wasn't really paying attention to me and she just randomly opened the Book of Mormon and read a verse to herself. Immediately her eyes got huge and she started tearing up, and all she could say was ¨You are right.....It is a true book¨ I can't even begin to explain how strongly I felt the spirit after she said that and she had read the verse out loud. This short experience may be my favorite so far in my mission.

 I'm not going to say what verse she read because if I give it to y'all you will forget it. Instead I'm going to invite everyone to read the Book of Mormon. I have been lucky enough to have the opportunity to witness how it has changed not only my own life but the lives of all those who read it as well. I will give a hint though, it is in the book of Alma! 

Everyone have a great week!
Elder Brayton