Sunday, April 2, 2017

Crazy Everything!

March 27, 2017

Tierra Amarilla Mission District

This week has been a whirlwind of a week for everyone, with a little bit of marriage, some baptism interviews, a soccer tournament, a Hercules play and a festival. The marriage was a team effort for part of other missionaries in Copiapo bringing the couple to get married, and for my part, organizing everything for the marriage in Tierra Amarilla. It was a very last minute thing, but all went well and the family of the couple came into town from Santiago to see it all.

The happy couple!
I interviewed a boy named Pietro that got baptized by the missionaries in my district. We started having soccer games in the church and in neighboring wards, we are going for a stake wide soccer league if we can get enough support. Also there was an activity in the stake for the youth and I got to help out a bit with the rehearsal and making the costumes. I didn't go, but I heard that it was a great success. Saturday night there was a sort of running with the bulls in Tierra Amarilla. But instead of using bulls they dressed a couple of guys up as bulls, and then they took some more guys and dressed them up as women and they have them hit people with little bags of potatoes. I am still not sure how the tradition started but we took advantage of the time to a ton of contacts and to tell everyone about the English classes we are doing.

This last week was probably one of the weeks where I was able to get more done in the 7 days than I can usually get done in 3 weeks. But all of that came at a price. Apparently I was doing too much too fast and my companion, the mini missionary, got bummed out or really over whelmed with all that we did and he decided that he needed to go home. His is still going to go to his normal mission whenever that time comes around, but he just got really intimidated with all the stuff that we were doing and the pace at which we did all the work.

As it turns out there is no one else that can replace him, so for these next two weeks I will be back in Copiapo again. I'm not sure where I stand right now with Tierra Amarilla. I am referring to if I will go back for another transfer or not. If I do go back, it will be my 6th transfer there, which is 10 month and a really long time. The normal is usually about 4 or 5 months. I guess we will just wait and see.

Thank you again for all of your prayers and support.

Elder Brayton
Soccer on concrete?


April 20, 2017

This week has been another good one. We have turned our efforts to the other companionships in our district to try and help all have some success this month. We have been doing attacks in some sectors to help them find people. This week I have been to the civil registry more than in my whole mission. The civil registry in Tierra Amarilla is able to help people get married a ton faster than in Copiapo. So we are getting ready for two or three weddings this week. One of the investigators that lives in Copiapo works in Tierra Amarilla during the week, so when he gets off we have been visiting him to help him out while he isn't at home. His name is Julio and he is going to get hitched this weekend! 

Something thing that didn't help this week was that I got sick for several days. It was terrible to be stuck in the house all day. I'm pretty sure my mini missionary comp was glad to have a break.  I keep having to remind myself that he isn't used to doing this every day. I had some flu-like symptoms, but am good now. I think it was just all the stress from the other week catching up to me. Thanks for all the support from home, I got to read some emails that y´all sent from my family! {from Cami: Several of you responded to the situation Cooper had with his companion 2 weeks ago. I copied these responses and sent them to him. Thank you again for your prayers on his behalf!!}

We had something VERY unusual this week...RAIN!!!! Everyone that lives here was panicking. All of the schools and work were cancelled for the day for a little rain. They say that it is going to happen again or something similar on the 31 of this month. This is the first time that I have seen rain since I left South Carolina!! They are calling for a red alert but I can't look into it more than what they tell me. Guess we will have to wait and see.

I hope that you all have a great week.

Elder Brayton


March 13, 2017 

Dear Family and Friends,

So things here are back to normal for the most part, or as normal as things can get for the week that happened last week. I got my new companion, sort of. He is a mini missionary from Antofagasta. So he already has his missionary call to go to Quito, Ecuador, but while he is getting ready to leave he has come to Tierra Amarilla to help me out. It is very different from the time that I trained because usually whenever a missionary arrives to the field, they already have some experience from the MTC -- but my comp is coming straight from his house. He also doesn't have the same rules or expectations as I do, so it makes for some interesting days.

For example, he still has his phone and can use it how he wants to. It is pretty much like he is accompanying me all day more than anything. Don't get me wrong, I am extremely grateful for him having come here and him letting me work in Tierra Amarilla. Actually this week we had tons of success! We had two baptisms and in church we had more than 50 people! It was more than I had ever seen!! And we found tons of new people to teach this next week! But with all that happened, it has been harder than ever for me to get back on track.

Another selfie with the mini missionary

This week has taught me at least one thing that I won't be forgetting soon. Ever since my companion left, I was working with other missionaries in other sectors, and instead of feeling sorry for myself and my sector, I just focused on working as hard as I could in the area that I was in. The week last was very good for those in the other sectors, they both finished the weeks with baptisms and really good numbers. That same mentality that I had has carried over into this week and followed me to my own sector. Just about every morning that I woke up, I had to ask myself if I really thought I could make it through the day. Instead of dwelling on that, I would say a prayer and start getting ready. I know that I have been receiving a lot of extra help this week. I can feel it coming from home, from the other missionaries here in Copiapo, and from Heavenly Father. I have, without a doubt, seen miracles this week in Tierra Amarilla. These next couple of weeks won't be a walk in a park, but I also know that I won't be alone.

Thanks for all the emails and all the prayers!!

Elder Brayton


March 6, 2017

The life of an Elder is hard! Exhausted with his Scriptures in his lap.

This has been a beyond difficult week for me. So what had happened was.... Monday night when we were ending up our day, my new companion wanted to go into Copiapo to meet up with a member from Antofagasta. I didn't have too much of a problem with that until he said that he didn't want me to come with him. So we argued for a long time about that and kept telling him that we couldn't be apart, that we had to be with members or with each other {from Cami...this is a big part of the rules for missionaries set by our church}. So after a long time of him not understanding, or not wanting to, I said that we should go to Bryan's {a young man in their local ward/congregation} house to see what he had to say about the whole thing. We get to Bryan's house and my comp doesn't even go into the house. He got in a taxi and left to Copiapo alone. So I was with Bryan for a while before I finally called the zone leaders and President. After that, they told us to go back to our house to see if he had gone by the house and taken his suit cases. We get there and all of his stuff was still there, so the zone leaders tell me to go ahead and go to bed, it is like 4am at this point, and that they were going to come over in the morning. So, Bryan and I slept for about 3 hours that night. In the morning, whenever the zone leaders get there at 7am, we start packing all of my companions things because as soon as he gets back he was going to be on a bus to Antofagasta. Right when we get everything all packed, he shows up and walks in like nothing, at like 8am. He doesn't tell us anything other than that he was with a amigo from Antofagasta.

So, we get him on the bus at 10 and he leaves, but one of the zone leaders had the idea to talk to the driver to tell him that he was going to Antofagasta and that if, for what ever reason, he doesn't get off at Antofagasta or if he gets off before to call us. Well that call came about 2 hours after, the loco got off in Chañaral and the driver over heard that he was going to buy a bus ticket to go to La Serena, a city out of our mission. So our President told us to go to all the bus terminals in Copiapo and that we had to search every bus until we found him. Because all buses go through the city and all of them stop. So, we got the biggest 12 missionaries in Copiapo and we were searching buses all day. For like 5 or 6 hours we checked every bus that came through. It was honestly kind of cool, it was like being in a movie. So we finally found him and he refused to get off the bus. He told us that he had a brother waiting for him in La Serena. So we call President and ask him if we have permission to take him off the bus, and he told us that we had to let him go.

Come to find out, the brother that he mentioned doesn't exist and some of his old companions confessed that he had gone to la Serena before on intercambios {exchanges}. So that's what my week was like. Because I am the companion I was held responsible for him leaving, and because I didn't call right away, the missionary department got pretty upset with me. They called me the other day and said that nothing would happen to me but that this would serve as a very strong lesson.

Elder Brayton and his temporary replacement companion

This week I have literally been fighting for everything I have to keep my sector alive. A ton of members called me on Sunday because the attendance had dropped by half. It has not been fun for me at all. But the mission is going to send me a new companion that is preparing to serve a mission in Ecuador, so he will be with me this transfer. It also looks like I will be in Tierra Amarilla for a bit longer with what happened. The good thing is that the boy coming will get to baptize this week! I have two getting ready and they will be ready for the water of baptism this weekend!

In other news, the mission changed my district. I am now the district leader of the 4 sister missionaries in our zone. They are calling me the Relief Society president because it is 4 of them and one of me.  love you!!

Elder Brayton

Going for more

Feb 27, 2017

Well y´all already know, but there were transfers this week and I didn´t leave. Just last week, I got a new companion from Argentina, Rosario. So that means I will be here for a couple months more. I´m not frustrated as much as I am looking forward to the reason that I stayed. I know that everything happens for a reason, but for this we will just have to wait to find out what that reason is. In other news, I forgot how much I like bikes. We fell into a good routine with the bikes and how we are using them. So now we have pretty well incorporated them into our schedule. One thing that we are getting ready for here is at the end of this month the Branch President is leaving, so we are getting everyone ready for that change coming up. Nobody knows who is going to replace him so that will be a surprise for everyone at the end of this month. 

One of my converts emailed me from Arica and he told me that he had the opportunity to go to the temple in Santiago and that he has plans to travel to the United States later this year.
Anyway, I will be here through March and going into April.

Hope you all have a great week.
Elder Brayton

Special transfer

Feb., 20, 2017

Enjoying lunch on preparation day.

This week was weird. I´m not sure what happened but Thursday in the morning we got a call from the mission assistants. They told us that there will be a transfer this week with us and another town called Mejillones near Antofagasta. They didn´t tell us anything other than Elder Casteñada would be leaving Sunday and another Elder would be coming the same day. Transfers are not for another week so this was very unexpected for us, and even more I have been here for more time so it is strange that I am staying. And then something funny happened last night. We were waiting for my new companion to arrive (Sebastian, Nelson, and I) and his bus is running late.... something very normal to happen here or anywhere really. So after about an hour or 2 of waiting, keep in mind that it is 11pm at this point, I get a call from the office of the mission. They tell me that my companion somehow ended up in Vallenar, a different city 3 hours further south. So nobody really knows what happened with the bus but today I am with Bryan for the day and he is my companion! My actual companion will get here in the afternoon at about 4pm. He is from Argentina and has been in the mission for about a year and a half. I have met him before but it was more than a year ago. Anyways, that has been the last 48 hours of my life.
So I kind of mentioned this the other week, but I have been changing some of the old study habits that I have had. Before, I studied to prepare myself for the lessons, only on what I needed to teach. But now I have been studying more to understand and comprehend. From that,I have developed a much deeper understanding for what I am teaching and I am also able to help explain doctrine in much clearer terms. For whatever reason, that has resulted in me being able to feel the spirit much stronger in lessons and also for me to not get frustrated when we have a rough day or a rough week. 

I hope that you all have a great week! Thank you again for your prayers and support.
Elder Brayton

Bikes and Baptisms!

Feb., 13, 2017

Much less walking!

So this week, after many many weeks of searching we were able to accomplish something incredible for our sector and people living here. We got bikes! It is probably something that should have been bought awhile ago because the thing about Tierra Amarilla is that it is just one long road leading up into the valley so there is no way that we can get from one end to the other without walking a ton and taking up lots of time. From where we live to the far end of where we work normally it takes about an hour and a half on foot, and now it take about fifteen or twenty min. So what these are going to let us do is see more people in less time and also go out to places that the missionaries may have never been before to find some new people. We are planning to head to the other towns up the valley twice a week to see if there is potential, we hear that there is a medium sized town called Los Loros that if it had enough people could be a Branch. So that will be our next goal coming up these following weeks.
One thing that we are preparing for that will happen soon is that the Branch president is leaving to go live in the USA in March. So everyone, including me, is wondering who is going to be the replacement. I don´t think that I will be around to see that but it may just end up being the missionary that replaces me this next transfer. That or someone will be called in from left field to take his place.

Ines and Nelson, the couple that got baptized two weeks ago are now helping us more that any other members with the missionary work. The other day they sat us down and started talking about all of their friends that they want to share the gospel with, all the problems that they might have,and much more! They are golden. Going off of what they are wanting to do this week, we are starting to teach people how to teach their friends about the Gospel. We are going to have classes and practices just so the members can feel more comfortable sharing what they already know  and applying it to friends that might be passing for hard times. We don't have a name for the classes yet, but Bryan wants to call it the Order of the Phoenix or something to do with Harry Potter.
 Yesterday I gave a talk in church and I spoke a a lot about Luke 15 and Jacob 2 and the responsibilities that we have and the examples that we leave based on how we complete those responsibilities.

I hope that you all have a good week!
Elder Brayton

Can't write...

Feb., 6, 2017
No time to write but time to play. ;-)

We don't have time this week but this is what happened:
1. It's very hot
2. We are buying bikes tomorrow
3. Bryan gave me his old camera and I gave mine to my comp.
4 Changed how I study and now the spirit is 10x stronger in every aspect of the mission
5. Maria Jose( investigator and member of other church) sobbed this week when I gave her a blessing of strength.